Is this record worth a spin? Should I buy it? Will it add to or detract
from my credibility? Should I care?
I wish someone could break it down for me.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Imagine a peppier version of Tame Impala with soul-inflected vocals and that's about what you'll get from this Kiwi cum Portland, OR trio. This band displays a rare pop restraint, giving individual instruments plenty of room to breath, and linger on your ear palette. A pastiche of psych music, "Thought Ballune", and garage rock, "Nerve Damage", adds to a very rewarding listening experience.

Buy this record when you just want a big plate of gravy fries.


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds- Henry's Dream

By the release of Henry's Dream in 1992, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds were just beginning to find a global audience. Henry's Dream reached #29 on the UK charts while six of the next seven Bad Seeds releases cracked the UK's top 20 list, three went to #1 in Norway, and all seven reached the top 5 in Cave's native Australia. Cave's lyrics had been steadily evolving from vague subject matter to detailed narratives and a quasi-concept album seemed like a good idea, at the time. Apparently Cave really disliked the production on this record and ultimately re-mixed it himself. It didn't detract from the quality of the record, "Papa Won't Leave You, Henry" became a concert staple for years to come while "Straight To You" was one of the prettiest ballads the group ever released. Henry's Dream really encapsulated the Bad Seeds distinctive ambience: timeless tales of drunken louts, lost souls, and unrepentant marauders traipsing through the Outback with bible in pocket and gun in hand, like an Australian version of the classic American Western.

Buy this record if the cops are busting in and you need to get out the back door.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wu Lyf- Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

Standard issue indie fare. Singing can best be described as a steroid addled Tom Waits backed by the firm for Manchester United. A big draw for this English band was their declination of interviews and a relative anonymity. Now that their first full-length is being released they have to open up and explain what they were thinking.

Buy this record if you think a hamster is an exotic bird.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bryan Ferry- Olympia

Throughout the 1970's and into the 80's, Bryan Ferry fronted Roxy Music, a seminal art-rock band with gender-bending theatrics and a glam appeal. Ferry is renowned for his dapper stage presence and wildly unique vocal inflections, a cross between Roy Orbison's croon and a seducer's howl. It's always been one of the more distinctive voices in rock music, now exhibiting more restraint with the passage of time. Olympia follows the blueprint of Ferry's first solo record, his only top 10 UK record. Boys and Girls, with a series of back lounge dance numbers about temptation and heartbreak. The album drifts along on his smooth vocals, the characteristic chiming piano notes of his earlier Roxy Music work, and sparse wah-wah guitar fills. Once again, Ferry delivers AOR friendly fare without losing his unique edge.

Buy this record when the your glass is chilled and the house is on fire.


The Prisoners- Wisermiserdemelza

This compilation, from Big Beats Records, gathers material released by obscure British band The Prisoners between 1983-1984. They blended garage, psych, and mod pretty effortlessly, but never found mainstream success despite their consistent touring presence throughout the UK. They borrowed from the Jam and bequeathed their sound to the Charlatans UK, buoyed by the sweet Hammond organ playing of James Taylor (not the "Fire & Rain" Taylor) who went on to form the successful band The James Taylor Quartet. The Prisoners are the reason music collectors still scour dusty record bins and thrift shop racks for lost treasure.

Buy this record if you want to dive into the deep end of the pool.


TEE PEE RECORDS & The LA RECORD present: The 2nd Annual "NEW WEIRD AMERICA" Festival

Respected rock label TEE PEE RECORDS and the LA Record will present the second annual "NEW WEIRD AMERICA" Festival on Saturday, July 2 at the Nomad Gallery (1993 Blake Ave, Los Angeles).  Following the success of the 2010 NWA Fest, this year's installment promises an even "bigger and better celebration of the arts" that will open with a very special group art show titled "Twin Infinities" at the Nomad on Friday, July 1.
On July 1, all eyes will be focused on the "Twin Infinities" art show and festival launch at the Nomad.  The event will kick off at 6:30 PM and feature original artwork and photography from such well known artists as 
Melinda BeckRoss Farrar (ofCeremony), Tim KerrStephen O'Malley (SUNN O))), etc.), Mike Watt (Iggy and the Stooges, The Minutemen) and many, many more.  A "very special musical guest" will also be performing. RSVP via the event's Facebook event page at this location .

On July 2, "NEW WEIRD AMERICA" will crank up the sound, featuring some of California's best rock acts.  The show will spotlight a diverse array of tuneful talent including Los Angeles atmospheric duo IDES OF GEMINI (members of Black Math Horseman), Montalvo, CA metal act THE FUCKING WRATH, Humboldt County psych rockers RADIO MOSCOW and LA hard rock quintet NIGHT HORSE along with Dallas trio TRUE WIDOW and the recently announced addition of RED SPAROWES!

An official Facebook event page for "
NEW WEIRD AMERICA" can be accessed at this location .  Tickets to the fest will be sold for the low price of $10 to enable as many music fans as possible to enjoy the special one-of-a-kind show. 
The 2nd Annual "NEW WEIRD AMERICA" Festival 

 Saturday, July 2 · 2:00pm - 11:00pm
Nomad Collective Art Compound
1993 Blake Ave, Los Angeles, CA  www.nomadlosangeles.com     
    MOVE & TEE PEE RECORDS present: 
"Twin Infinities"    
Friday, July 1 · 6:30pm - 10:00pm
Nomad Art Gallery
1993 Blake Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039  www.nomadlosangeles.com
A group art show featuring:
Ray Barbee 
Melinda Beck (
www.melindabeck.com ) 
Otis Bee
Neil Burke (
www.neilburke.net ) 
Ben Clark (
www.benclarkphoto.com ) 
Cynthia Connolly (
www.cynthiaconnolly.com ) 
Ross Farrar (
www.rossfarrarphotography.com ) 
Jason Farrell (
www.jasonfarrelldesign.com ) 
Rick Froberg
James Gallagher (
www.gallagherstudio.net ) 
Pat Graham (
www.patgraham.org ) 
Daniel Higgs  
Rich Jacobs  
Chris Johanson (
www.chrisjohanson.com )  
Sonny Kay (
www.sonnykay.com )   
Tim Kerr (
www.timkerr.net )  
Matt Leines (
www.mattleines.com )  
Stephen O'Malley (
www.ideologic.org )
Ryan Patterson 
Chrissy Piper (
www.chrissypiper.com )  
Jordin Isip (
www.jordinisip.com )   
Billy Sprague (
www.billysprague.com )  
Mike Sutfin (
www.mikesutfin.com )
Mike Watt (
www.hootpage.com )  
Sam James Velde
Sandy Yang (
www.sandyyang.com )  
and more..

Monday, June 27, 2011

Purling Hiss- Lounge Lizards

Real lo-fi take on garage rock, with swirls of distorted guitar and muffled vocals, that invokes the spirit of The Stooges with a hint of Dinosaur Jr. Sounds like Kurt Vile is singing on the lead track as well, both bands are from Philly so who knows? Purling Hiss are keeping themselves busy, having released the Lounge Lizards EP on the heels of their last EP Hissteria. I actually dig the progression to a lower fidelity sound. While most bands are trying to expand their sound and production value, Purling Hiss is content paring theirs down and representing Philly's blue-collar roots.  "Hoodoo" is a real scorcher that should sate any punk's palette. They certainly know how to make a racket so expect them to peal the paint off of your club's wall, then eat it when they come to your town.

Buy this record when you need to unclog the sink.


Gardens & Villa- Gardens & Villa

Here comes another band from Southern California, this time from Santa Barbara, a quaint coastal town well-known for wineries and two-stepping Cowboy bars with sawdust covered floors. Gardens & Villa are kicking up a different kind of sawdust. The band does quiet well, they make 80's synth beats bounce, they're propulsive in a relaxed manner. It feels like they kind of blew their wad by the close of the record, but there's plenty on this debut that warrants Gardens & Villa a closer look.

Buy this record if you want to slip into something more comfortable.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Beach Boys- Cabin Essence Single

This single comes in anticipation of the official release of the original Smile sessions later this year. Both of the songs on this single appeared on the original Smile sessions. It's a little confusing for the average music fan because Brian Wilson re-recorded all of the Smile sessions music in 2004 and released a "new" Smile record, and bootleg versions of the original, in various forms, have been circulating around for years. The single "Cabinessence" and "Whistle In" appeared on the albums 20/20 and Smiley Smile, respectively. The "Whistle In" b-side on this single is actually the song "Wonderful" which also appeared on Smiley Smile, along with the original version of "Whistle In". I know, it gets really confusing. Anyway, the Smile record has always been the Holy Grail for Beach Boys fans, myself included. It's an epic piece of music that's inspired equally epic tales of band meltdowns and personal breakdowns. "Good Vibrations" was also born out of the Smile sessions. For any fan that knows the Beach Boys primarily through their early surf music period, "Help Me Rhonda", "Little Deuce Coupe", "I Get Around", "Barbara Ann", I strongly encourage you to look into some of their later work, filled with beautiful, intriguing song-writing, humor, and artistic rhapsody. Sunflower, Wild Honey, Holland, and Friends immediately come to mind.

Buy this record if you want to balance your good looks with a winning personality.


Andre Williams- That's All I Need

Talk-singing from venerable Alabama-born R&B singer Williams. He has a storied 60 year history in the music biz as a performer, and songwriter for the likes of Ike Turner, Stevie Wonder, and Parliament/Funkadelic. He recorded 12 singles for Fortune Records in the 50's and scored a top ten R&B hit with "Bacon Fat". This 2010 Bloodshot Records release finds Andre licking his chops with members of  Detroit bands the Dirtbombs, Electric Six, and the Witches accompanying him. After endearing himself to the punk and sleaze scene in recent years with profane lyrics and his black man's version of David Johansen on crack look, Williams decides to play it pretty straight on this record. That's All I Need gains momentum as the record wears on, where the strongest tracks "There Ain't No Such A Thing As Good Dope", "Too Light To Fight",  and "Amend" provide a steady anchor.

Buy this record if you gotta hitch in your porch swing and a greasy mess on the stove.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Givers- In Light

Very polished sound on this debut record from Lafayette, Louisiana natives. This record falls into several categories: potential theme song for Dora the Explorer, dance number for The Lion King, mating call for Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints. Guaranteed to end up in fabric detergent or car commercials.

Buy this record if you find the music selection at Target edgy.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Delicate Steve- Wondervisions

By the time the last track "Flyin' High" kicked in with its squealing, tricked-out Steve Vai guitar licks I had to wonder about Delicate Steve's vision. It's instrumental, that's no problem, it's got pieces of world pop, African rhythms, electronica, and, dare I say, delicate acoustic interludes, but I can't get past the tinny, screeching 80's sounding guitar effects employed throughout. Oh, and there's video game quality synth notes galore. It's an odd bird of a record that oddly sounds like warm-up music being played before the opening band takes the stage.

Buy this record if you're confused and you don't how to find the customer returns department.


Band Bios- Marketing Your Music

The band bio is a mission statement and business card rolled into one for the aspiring musician. First, it's a way to differentiate yourself from the myriad of other music makers out there, Second, it's a way to grab the attention of publicists, listeners, and writers. Third, It's a fail-safe for music writers seeking descriptions and quotes when writing about your music. Unfortunately most young musicians do not have much business experience and don't understand how to properly market their art. The act of self-promotion is considered an act of "selling out" for many artists, but this is naivity. It's true that artists make art foremost for their own enjoyment and to express frustrations and stresses in their everyday life. But it's also counter-productive to think that artists don't also enjoy being recognized for their hard work and artistic endeavors. If an artist doesn't feel this way then they're being self-destructive. Anyway, the band bio tends to fall into the following categories: elaborately descriptive, effusive, earnest, stupid, and funny. The following is a stupidly funny band bio:
"The Deadwood Singers like to hang up sounds in strung-out spaces. They play freaked-out heavy music that is faintly reminiscent of your favorite band, times two. Hailing from Deadwood, South Dakota, the Singers take a special pride in their regional heritage, while feeling no particular desire to return there. Driven by their sneaking suspicion that God had indeed given rock and roll to them, all three Singers have patiently toiled for years in the musical salt mine. Luther Wright, the lead guitarist, played with the avant-garde corps Schwenna, and passed time in Disco Bondage Headgear, before joining forces with the Deadwoods. Faron McLaren, who handles the bass and drums, used to sing and play with The Now and The Plastic Hassle until it all became too much for him. Cash Billings, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist, used to play with My Asscrack until creative differences erupted. My Asscrack had become far too confining for Cash, so he chose to explore new directions and different moods. The three Deadwoods first came together in Rapid City, where each was pursuing their own distinctive course toward anonymity. Since then they have recorded "South Dakota Sermon," wherein they explored their musical roots; "Around the World with the Deadwood Singers," which found them trying their hand at the musical styles from all four corners of the world; and "Devil Horn Bag o' Tricks," their collection of two minute songs. After failing to complete their magnum opus "Avenue of the Cosmos" the Deadwoods left Tucson, Arizona, for the browner pastures of the Rust Belt. Currently the band is seeking a halal falafal stand in New York City. The Deadwood Singers have drawn their musical inspiration from many sources: Ween, Queen, Cream, and Judas Priest. But no list could do justice to the rich complexity of their sound, which is always hauntingly familiar even when the hooks are not lifted blatently from songs you already know. They manage to sound original without insisting upon it, and annoying listeners with desperate attempts at uniqueness. All three take care to uphold the utmost standards of professionalism and courtesy, in keeping with the storied rock and roll tradition. Eventually they hope for international success if their careers are not tragically abbreviated by a plane crash or by habitual drug abuse.
In conclusion, although you can't ultimately control who will like your music you can market your band in a way that conveys your attitude and motivations for making music. Don't try to hard to be an art school dick when writing your bio because it's juvenile. 

JEFF the Brotherhood- We Are The Champions

JEFF consist of two brothers, a guitar-drum duo from Nashville, TN who also run a local record label Infinity Cat Recordings. Mostly melodic, partly punk, and highly hipster in concept. Guitars are steeped in distorted classic rock riffs with liberal doses of Black Sabbath. Lots of crash and ride on the drums, but surprisingly no cowbell. I can't help but compare them to the bass-drum duo Death From Above 1979, especially on "Ripper". You could waste 30 minutes on much lesser things than this.

Buy this record when you're scoping chicks down at the Dairy Queen.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gildas Kitsune Club Night Mix

Kitsune is a French fashion/electronic music label that is heavy on the music and light on the fashion. Regardless, fashion and music are a natural fit for each other, the names David Bowie, Grace Jones, Lady Gaga, and Tiffany come to mind (this is the multiple choice "which one doesn't fit" part of the review) and Vice Records is the only other label I can think of with this business combination, having just started a fashion line with the leverage gained from their magazine. Kitsune's music label has had several notable artists on their roster: Bloc Party, Fischerspooner, Hot Chip, Klaxons, and Wolfmother. On Kitsune founder Gildas Loaec's Club Night Mix you'll get pretty standard coke-in-the-stalls with a champagne fountain brand of European dance music. It's perfect for exercising your limbs, definitely not your mind.

Buy this record for that stock trader's Memorial Day party at the beach house in Amagansett.


Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers- Heat!

I think the album's name has had a subliminal effect on me because I can't help thinking about the summer streets of 125th and Adam Clayton Powell in Harlem when listening to this late 60's slab of funky Latin soul. The busy percussion of the ever-mingling crowds, the darting horns of traffic flow, and then there's the Heat!, enveloping, relentless, ultimately forcing you to slow your pace and engage your senses before succumbing to the hallucinatory elements while you search for ways to quench that exquisite thirst. This record pretty much sums up a typical summer day in NYC for me.

Buy this record when the sidewalk melts and the shaved ice truck is in sight.


Brooklyn DIY Business Association Conference for the Music Industry

If anyone cares, or has the stomach to listen in while the music industry tries to figure out new ways to wrest control of peoples' art. I love the name DIY, if you do-it-yourself then you probably don't need the guiding hand of a suit and tie. Apparently The Strokes and Noah and The Whale will be playing at this event also. Brooklyn Brewery will have an open bar to ease the pain. Read on:

With just a handful of tickets left, the DIY Business Association has added one more speaker to its lineup: Luke Rathborne, the 23-year-old Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who has toured with the Strokes and Devendra Banhart.DEADLINE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE: SATURDAY, JUNE 25

Learn more and register here: 
Brooklyn DIY Business Association Conference for the Music Industry Schedule on SUNDAY, JUNE 26

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You Better Believe It!: Rare and Modern Soul Gems From The Vaults of Atco, Atlantic, Cotillion, Reprise, and Warner Bros. 1967-1978

This collection, painstakingly put together by legendary UK DJ Richard Searling, documents the waning years of the soul movement before it morphed into the Devil's infernal Disco. Soul aficionados will recognize several artists represented: Ben E. King, Mary Wells, Donny Hathaway, Tower of Power. Some of the rarer of rare and more memorable of modern tracks include the sweet Philly soul from Pittsburgh native Terry Collins on "I L.O.V.E. Y.O.U.", the smooth thrills of The Aristocrats "Let's Get Together Now", the funky mating call of Prince Phillip Mitchell's "One On One", and "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream", a beguiling track from The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Soul collectors will rejoice at finding in one compilation what they would otherwise spend years searching for. You really need to bow down to Searling and clap your hands rhythmically to this compilation.

Buy this record because you love, you hate, you just can't hesitate.


The Coathangers- Larceny & Old Lace

They look like they don't know how to hold their instruments, their vocals (when not being screamed) are pretty weak, and they're from Georgia, but they have a cool name. There aren't many all-female bands bopping around Atlanta playing snotty garage rock these days so the girls must stick out. Whether you like them or not it's refreshing to have a female perspective in a medium that is so inherently dominated by men. The standout "Johnny" sounds like the B-52s on meth while "My Baby", with its repetitive guitar riff and carnival organ run, shows a mellow, more rhythmic side of the band.

Buy this record if you wanted to try out for the cheerleading squad but dropped acid instead.


Those Darlins- Screws Get Loose

Instantly infectious country-tinged pop from a posse of Tennessee temptresses. Vocals sound like a teen-age girl singing, which suits their 3-chord paeans to teen angst perfectly. The guitars jangle, the choruses shout-out, and the care-free Southern attitude pervades. The title track is a great piece of pop song-writing.

Buy this record so your cubicle office mate knows you have a life outside of work.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sonny and The Sunsets- Hit After Hit

Yet another in a growing list of Bay Area nostalgia acts reveling in doo wop and sedated surf rock. I'll list them here and forget some: Girls, Hunx & His Punx, The Sandwitches, and Shannon & The Clams. Ask and I'm confident every one of them will claim the Ronettes or the Shangri-La's as influences. The current crop of music writers probably haven't bandied these influential names around since, well, since ever? It's a very pleasant style to emulate and this new generation of bands is doing the music world justice by bringing it back into the fold.

Buy this record if you can't chew gum at the dance but still wanna wear your knee-highs.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Eddie Vedder- Ukulele Songs

Pearl Jam fans will be wetting themselves in anticipation of a new Eddie Vedder solo release, that is until they find out that he's gone the Tiny Tim route and is now tiptoeing through the tulips. Most of the record is just Vedder's desperate laments sung over his own ukulele playing. The ukulele sounds good, Vedder's voice sounds exactly the same here as on any past Pearl jam release. "Sleeping By Myself", "Longing To Belong", and "Sleepless Nights" are all pretty songs in their own right, but suffer, as does most of the album, from tired lyrical cliches used to relay heartbreak (open wounds, scars, oceans to cross, etc.). How many ways can you say, "my fucking heart is broken and it hurts so bad" anyway? Vedder songs work best when he's just letting the words flow from him,  and not yelping in that signature, strained growl that, while appealing to a legion of fans, is exactly what really turns me off about his voice. Ukulele songs is a measured yet reflective work, and Jeremy will not have spoken, so Pearl Jam fans will probably want to put their lighters back in their pockets for that Pearl Jam reunion to come.

Buy this record if you used to own a jacuzzi but can only dip your toes in the neighbor's pool now.


The Shrubs- Another Age

British band that existed for four years during the heyday of indie rock from 1985-89. The title track is a Phil Ochs cover and half the record is culled from live performances. Their music leaned heavily on post-punk, with singer Nick Hobbs talk-singing over disjointed, angular guitar lines. If you're familiar with old SST recording artists Saccharine Trust/Slovenly you'll find distinct similarities.

Buy this record if you wanna ditch the Honda Accord for a Karmann Ghia.


Derek "DJA" Allen Presents: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears- Livin' In The Jungle

Allen takes songs from this Austin, TX blues band (with a dash of soul) and mashes them up with elements of crunk, hip-hop, and party-stomping choruses. It works well on "Booty City" and "She's So Scandalous", creating a genre-hopping Outkast vibe. It doesn't work on other tracks. BJW & Honeybears music is standard bar blues fare that benefits from this kind of treatment, but neither the original music nor enhanced producing really stand out.

Buy this record if you're camping, you forgot to marinade the steak, and all you got is a jar of mayonnaise.


Pachuco Soul! A Collection of Vintage East-LA Grooves From The Vaults of Rampart Records

Vampisoul is known for it's quality reissues of obscure bands and labels, and is responsible for this collection of Mexicano soul from LA. Most of the record is instrumental and could easily pass for soundtrack music to Beach Blanket Bingo type movies or as filler music. Many tracks are derivative take-offs of early soul staples. There's nothing inherently unique to this collection, as it doesn't stand up to several of Vampisoul's other releases, but it's still a good way to kick off your sock hop.

Buy this record if you can't stay away from the hardware store and need another tool for the shed.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Red Fang- Murder The Mountains

Here's another metal band that can't resist the lure of added production. These guys started out as a bluesier version of Mastodon with a hint of REO Speedealer. Whereas Mastodon seemed proggy and technical in its approach, Red Fang veered toward a gritty punkishness. There's definitely an added layer of sheen to the Murder The Mountain songs that was missing from their self-titled debut, which moves them a step closer to Queens of the Stone Age territory. This may be a good thing for listeners, I'm on the fence. It's still pretty much in your face bro-tastic music that will pummel you as you pummel down  PBR and shots of Cuervo. I was pretty impressed with their set at the Fog Rising Festival in San Fran back in 2009 and imagine that their live show has only gotten better.

Buy this record when you're hiding under the bridge, waiting for a dust devil.


Harry Nilsson- Aerial Pandemonium Ballet

Before Nilsson's breakout record Nilsson Schmilsson hit the racks, he decided to re-introduce his fan base to his first two records by completely remixing them and combining them into Aerial Pandemonium Ballet. You'll find his early iconic hits "Everybody's Talking"and "One", but some of the songs are sped up, some slowed down, backup vocals are added and subtracted, and entire portions of some songs are re-arranged. It's really the first re-mix record ever made, once again proving how forward thinking Nilsson had always been. Nilsson's voice was one of the greatest in the history of pop music. This collection serves as a welcome reminder.

Buy this record if you want to whistle like the wind through the trees.


Friday, June 17, 2011

T.P Orchestre Poly-Rythmo- The Kings of Benin Urban Groove 1972-80

It's a real shame that any number of these West African bands, predominantly from Nigeria and Benin, didn't get to tour the States during this fertile music era from the 60's and 70's. They would have killed, no, slayed audiences here. This music has as much or more funky energy, musicianship, and swagger than any similar music made in the States. On this record, and often on a single track, you'll get heaping doses of calypso rhythms, spaced out synth lines, heavy bass, blazing guitar solos, and horns a plenty. T.P Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, a veritable Benin supergroup, released upwards of 50 albums, giving you a sense of the prolific output coming out of West Africa at this time. And this was merely one of many, many bands.
Tune in to this region and this genre, don't miss out on some of the best music produced in the world.

Buy this record when you need some fruit from the vine.


The Donkeys- Born With Stripes

Breezy pop with indie rock hooks from upbeat SoCal crew. The best tracks "Ceiling Tan" and "I Like The Way You Talk" succeed because of their obvious structural similarity to Pavement songs . Some of the record veers to close to Americana-style rock for my taste and the lyrical content is weak, but the group does a fine job mixing blues licks and a little raga into the pot. They keep reminding me of The National for some reason. The Donkeys have some mainstream potential and will probably be on a short list for the festival circuit next year.

Buy this record for the car ride with your Aunt who's just getting into yoga.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jennifer Castle- Castlemusic

Sparse folk record from Canadian songstress Castle, who once provided back-up vocals for the likes of The Constantines and Fucked Up. Most songs feature her singing to the accompaniment of one instrument, be it guitar, piano, or organ. Her voice exudes a breathy thinness, and wavers, but it manages to hold your attention. When she sings of sage, lavender and cedar leaves on "Remembering" I can't help but think renaissance faire, and the triteness of the lyrics.
The best songs remind me of someone else; "Summer" could be Brightblack Morning Light and "Way of the Crow" has a distinctive Neil Young feel, while "You Don't Have To Be" could pass for Emmylou Harris. That's actually not a bad list of influences when I read it out loud. Overall, it's a mixed bag, but at least the touring gives her a chance to get out of Canada from time to time.

Buy this record when the cabin creaks and the lazy susan is empty.


A Carnival Of Soul: Wishes Volume One

Even though Barbara Brown is urging you to "Forget Him" because she wants her man back, you can't feel bad about having stolen him because this collection from one of soul's main stables, Kent Records, feels so good. Highlights include: "My Love Is Yours Tonight" by The Turner Brothers, two standouts from Lee Williams & The Cymbals "I Love You More" & "It's Everything About You", and "'Til You Come Back To Me" by The Manhattans.
There are some burners on this collection but it's the ballads that really shine. Volume One of this 3-part series cuts a wide swath through Northern Soul, Doo-Wop, and Deep Soul. I'll probably review the other 2 collections here soon, but you should check them all out regardless.

Buy this record when you need to make sweet love to that person who is giving you the make sweet love to me vibe.


Apache Dropout- Apache Dropout

Vintage garage rock from modern day Bloomington, IN trio. Feels a little too calculated in its approach, which I find counter-intuitive to the whole garage rock aesthetic, but it hits all its marks. There seems to be some buzz around this band now so go catch them before they get signed to a big and start making music for Honda commercials.

Buy this record for your next naked twister party.


Neil Young International Harvesters- A Treasure

It's probably not fashionable to be writing reviews about Neil Young but I don't give a shit. He's a true music icon. He's written some beautiful songs, he's made some noisy songs, and he's taken a lot of detours. This is one of those detours. Culled from live performances between 1984-1985, A Treasure documents Young's country/blues exploration while backed by some of country music's greatest session players. There are 5 unreleased tracks included on this record that will satisfy hardcore fans. This is not a good starting point for the Neil Young catalog. For that I'd suggest Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Harvest, or After the Gold Rush.

Buy this record if you wanna take some time to smell the flowers.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

FYF Fest Announced

These guys have come a long way from the run-down buildings and small street festivals they began throwing a few years back. The line-up is very impressive also. If you're in SmellA in early September or need an excuse to visit then check this thing out. Who knows, you may end up staying, become the star of a reality TV show, or at least have a short-term relationship with Jennifer Aniston.


Bombe & Mr. Caribbean- James Blake Mixtape

Producers produce a collaboration between super-hyped British electronic dub performer James Blake and super-hyped Canadian hip-hop artist Drake. Sounds like Bon Iver making dub music on heroin for an episode of Basketball Wives. Blake's music is atmospheric to a fault but Drake pumps some energy into the mix. Scenesters will be name-throwing this around like glow sticks at a rave party.

Buy this record if you got home from the club and the ecstasy is wearing off.


Ty Segall- Goodbye Bread

Bay Area guitarist/drummer with a DIY aesthetic whose affinity for playing music is palpable. His fourth solo record is reverb soaked and drenched in fuzztones, easily comparable to material from 60's Nuggets box sets. The record peters out toward the end and lacks real authenticity, but Segall complements a Bay Area roster with, arguably, the most active music scene in the country right now.

Buy this record if want a Reese's Nutrageous but only have Tootsie Rolls in the cabinet.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Queen- Sheer Heart Attack

They teetered on the edge of self-indulgence, they wrote some goofy songs ("Fat-Bottomed Girls", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"), and they had a penchant for gaudy theatrics, but there is no denying Freddie Mercury's incredible voice and Brian May's monstrous guitar licks. Queen's third record Sheer Heart Attack is a fucking sheer attack of awesomeness. Released in 1973 it featured Queens first Top 20 U.S. hit "Killer Queen" and was the first Queen record to reach Top 20 on the U.S. charts. From "Brighton Rock" to "Stone Cold Crazy" Queen burns it up. I'm so worked up just writing about it that I may have induced a heart attack.

Buy this record to show deference to the Queen of Rock.


Searching Musical Junkyards For Your Favorite Local Band

Let me know what local band in your city/town is really flipping your switch now. Who's two-stepping in Sioux Falls? Who's creating the gnarliest mosh pit in Louisville? Who's fueling the all-night rave in Detroit? Who has the hippies spinning in Tallahassee? Send me a link to the band or just give me their name and I'll check it out. Each week I'll post a review of your city's local favorite.

Sturm Und Twang!- A Private Collection of German Underground Pop

Musically, Germany is known mainly for its Krautrock (Can, Neu, Faust, Amon Duul) and Hard Rock (Scorpions, Michael Schenker, Accept, Rammstein), but this 1995 compilation of post-punk and alternative pop songs gives us a glimpse into the underbelly of a vibrant music scene. It's sung mostly in German and one track is produced by a non-German, David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven. You gotta give the Germans credit because I wouldn't want to figure out what to rhyme Geschwindigkeitsüberschreitung with.

Buy this record for folding laundry into perfect squares while eating hazelnut truffles.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Donald Byrd- Royal Flush

This 1961 Blue Note release finds Donald Byrd performing as a bandleader at the height of his powers. These were also the de rigueur days of bebop jazz , before the evolution of free jazz and fusion. His trumpet playing is more measured than Miles Davis, but it's hard to compare Byrd with a man who was consistently performing at such spectacular levels. Before going solo, so to speak, Byrd worked the jazz circuit as a featured player for Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk so his pedigree was clearly established. Byrd moved on to R&B in the 70s and produced a lucrative catalog of recordings for Blue Note while also receiving not one, but two masters degrees from Columbia University.
"Shangri-La", with its military-style drum beats and dueling trumpet/sax solos is a definite highlight. "Requiem" provides a rousing and fitting end to the set. This era of jazz goes down so damn easy that I just may break out a Cohiba cigar and my foot massager.

Buy this record for that country drive you plan on taking when the weather's nice and you don't care where the kids will be.


Babe Rainbow- Endless Path EP

Note: Above video is from Babe Rainbow's previous Shaved EP.

From the Warp label comes another one-man ambient electronic laptop band out of Vancouver, BC. Canadians seem to be proudly insulated from any modern trends. I remember meeting a rugby team from Edmonton, Alberta in the mid-90s and they were just getting into Twisted Sister. This record reminds me of that meeting. Could easily work as library music (see my Various Artists: Space Oddities review) for sci-fi movies and it's only 6 songs long so it wasn't a big waste of my time. You may impress a few electrical engineers with this?

Buy this record if you don't like hockey but need a Canuck fix.


The Lonely Island- Turtleneck and Chain

This review is for Elon Musk. When he's not zip-lining through the woods of Northern California or building rocket-ships, you can find Elon relaxing by the campfire to the sultry Rap-dance sounds of The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer). It's a comedy record from the SNL player Samberg and his schoolyard buddies that features cameos from Justin Timberlake, Akon, Beck, and a host of other chart topping celeb types.
If Matisyahu wrote a sex column for the Village Voice about a three way between the Beastie Boys, Will Smith, and Eminem at an all-night rave this would be the first reader response.

Buy this record if your home ec project didn't work out and you need a few yucks to help you forget about it.