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.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ocote Soul Sounds- Taurus

Do you like your rhythms sweaty with a pungent dose of percussion? Do you wanna take a trip to exotic locales but don't have enough money for the airfare? Let Ocote Soul Sounds bring the Latin party to your ear steps. Adrian Quesada and Martin Perna, bandleaders of Grupo Fantasma and Antibalas respectively, spent downtime in Austin trading song ideas for an undetermined project that would eventually become Ocote Soul Sounds. Taurus, the duo's fourth collaboration, is loosely structured on the zodiac signs, with liberal doses of social and political commentary, sung by guests vocalists in both English and Spanish, providing the backdrop for groove oriented soundtrack pieces. Both of the musicians are American-born, Perna from Philly playing Afrobeat revival and Quesada from Laredo, TX playing Latin music, so their bastardized mix of genres provides a comfortable, yet refreshing stylistic blend.

Buy this record to accompany a bloody mary as you read the NY Times Sunday travel section.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Recorded For Japan- Various Artists

Digital-only compilation with proceeds going toward the financing of a re-make of Godzilla Vs. Mothra starring Sean Penn as Godzilla and Ben Affleck as Mothra, directed by Michael Bay. Nah, actually all proceeds from this comp will go directly to the Japanese Red Cross to help victims of the horrible earthquake in Japan rebuild their infrastructure. It is a noble effort by a host of talented, often unheralded, musicians. Kurt Vile lends a chorused, echo-laden acoustic version of his song "Peeping Tom", called "Been Searchin'" here. Kuroma, ex-Whigs project by red-headed Athens, GA native Hank Sullivant, provides a sweet, low-key head swayer, "Running People" with a melody line straight out of Men At Work's "Who Can It Be Now?". Patrick Cleandenim delivers an AOR-friendly slice of charming white soul in a piano lounge with "In My Baby's Eyes" from his latest disc Radio Heartbreak. And the album's closer, "Thespian City", comes courtesy of the supremely talented but ever-prickly, Anton Newcombe-esque live tantrum-throwing Ariel Pink and his backing band Haunted Graffiti.
***Clink on the link below to buy your digital copy and you'll be turned on to some good new music while helping the disaster victims of Japan. This is a win-win.


Chain Gang of 1974- Wayward Fire

Wayward Fire is the work of Kamtin Mohager, a San Jose, CA native who bounced around from Hawaii to Denver, and now resides in Los Angeles. His songs are evocative of 80's synth dance music, but also bear signs of more forceful electronic dance tunes. It's not understated in any way, even the ballad "Teenagers" has rousing keyboard flourishes and anthemic drums. Mohager's singing reminds me a little of Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, without the overt aggressiveness of Reznor's vocals. Extra props for the Fleetwood Mac sample on the album opener "Stop", a song about cultural vices with a Beck guitar line that doesn't particularly gel with the rest of the record's vibe. The record's centerpiece, the 8 minute "Hold On", wouldn't seem out of place on a Cut Copy record. Lots of over the top hand clapping drum tracks and arena-style melodies prove that subtlety is not his strong suit, but he may get you to shake your ass a little.

Buy this record if your car's stuck in a snowdrift and you have to ration the M&Ms.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The War On Drugs- Slave Ambient

Kurt Vile was an original member of this band and I'm having trouble noticing his absence. I mean, it sounds like he's still in the band. The vocal inflections on the opening track "Brothers" are exactly the same as Vile's, a "Jay Mascis meets Tom Petty at a Bob Dylan tribute show" vocal phrasing that feels like disaffected singing. Even the jangly guitar is the same. Then "I Was There" hits you and you start to think that maybe The War On Drugs are trying to pull one over on Vile by aping his sound. Don't get me wrong, it's a good sound, it's just that the similarities are eerie. Or maybe it's Vile that has been aping The War On Drugs this entire time? Finkel is Einhorn, Einhorn IS Finkel! I'm from Philly so I should go get to the bottom of this rock mystery.

Buy this record if you think the war on drugs has been a failure but they sure go well with music.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Beatles- Strawberry Lane

Did you know that "Strawberry Fields Forever" began as an idea for a yogurt commercial? Neither did I, nor did any Beatles historians I asked because I made that up. Sometimes you gotta inject some freshness into the classics. Strawberry Lane documents the recording genesis of what would become the first written, and recorded, song for The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album. It was also the first psychedelic foray for the band and included The Beatles most elaborate instrumentation to date, there's Mellotron (intro song notes), Svarmandal (Indian instrument played by Harrison, you hear it as the descending scale played at the end of the chorus), backward looped cymbals, slide guitar, 9 or 10 percussionists, and two-thirds of the way through the recording process, Lennon asked George Martin to add some orchestral elements, that being the cello and trumpet, which ultimately became a vital part of the final mix. It feels so appropriate, because he was The Beatles, producer, guide, and mentor, that George Martin's VO shows up several times on Strawberry Lane to explain various stages of the recording process. It's fun, especially as a musician, to hear the evolution of the song from initial demos, with just Lennon and guitar, to the musician's individual added flourishes, to the fully realized vision for the song.

Buy this record, well, you can't buy this record so get it off the net.

Polvo- Heavy Detour 7"

2009 live recording of classic Polvo track from their 1993 record Today's Active Lifestyles.

Polvo were indie stalwarts from Chapel Hill, NC who flew the noise rock flag while grunge was dominating the music scene of the early 90's. They specialized in angular, guitar-driven instrumentals that bridged the gap between indie and math-rock. Although they never received much acclaim during their heyday they are nonetheless heralded as an influence on a lot of later bands. After a successful reunion in 2009, including a new record, In Prism, and tour, Polvo have entered the studio with legendary indie musician/producer Mitch Easter to record a new record, releasing this taster 7 inch in advance of it. Age and Easter's slick production have softened Polvo's hard edges, vocals are now prominent, which is not a good thing because vocals were always the weakest part of the Polvo's repertoire. However, Easter nurtures the band's muscular melodies, infusing the songs with his trademark Southern rock sound. It's a mixed bag, but knowing that Polvo is alive and kicking again is reward enough.

Buy this record if you like your eggs sunny side up but don't mind a plate of scrambled.


Liturgy- Aesthethica

This record feels like one giant outro of math-rock and punkish metal, a punishing assault of cymbal crashes and dueling guitar notes. These guys have the upside down cross and the overtly religious band name. They also have the death wail and mush mouth growl of other black metal bands, but their music aligns more properly with the Isis's and Pelican's of the music world. This is a band that is yearning to be instrumental, but a screeching banshee won't let them.

Buy this record if you're tired of screaming at the tele and the wife/husband isn't home yet.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Odd Nosdam & Matthewdavid- Swedish Fish


Two sound collagists have patched together a split EP that's being released in cassette-only form by Leaving Records. Odd Nosdam created trippy beats as a founding member of both the rap group cLOUDDEAD and its label Anticon, and has lent his talents to The Notwist, Boards of Canada, and a host of others. Matthewdavid is an LA-based music producer who runs the Leaving Records label. Both artists have a penchant for found sounds and atmospheric pieces. The lion's share of Nosdam's contribution to Swedish Fish comes in the form of "Swedish Tapes", an 18 minute live offering, from SF's Swedish American Music Hall, full of droney, industrial mind fuck that would have served the interrogators at Guantanamo Bay well. Matthewdavid appears to be the invested artist in this project, serving up four cuts of pulsing, distorted, ambient goodness. Think Fennesz with more emphasis on overt keyboard notes, but with none of the guitar work that has marked Fennesz's later releases. Matthewdavid doesn't build his pieces to a crescendo, but rather mutates and manipulates a central theme with tape hisses, rattles, vocoded synth passages, etc. Nosdam leads you to a prison of his own making while david lets you create an otherworld of your choosing.

Buy this record if want to split the personalities.


Sorry Bamba Du Mali

Mali's music ambassador delivers home-grown grooves on this 1977 record, the second of his Sorry Bamba Du Mali album releases. If you're familiar with Tinariwen, possibly the most famous current West African touring band, you need look no further than Sorry Bamba to understand their influences. Sorry's music is rooted in the traditional sounds of West African music and draws a fine line between Ethiopiques-style material and Mali folk music. The centerpiece of the record is the 11 minute "Porry (L'Alcool)" which employs a standard repetitive guitar line that they call assouf in Mali. The organ notes mirror those of the guitar, while Bamba's trumpet fills punctuate the tribal vocals. "N'ne Diarabila (J'ai Amie)" highlights Bamba's flute playing over a festive backdrop of bluesy guitar fills and trumpet blasts that also features a sweet percussion breakdown. Bamba is a good source for studying the musical roots of West Africa, but it's not in the progressive African music or psychedelic rock range of, say, Tony Allen, Fela Kuti, or Segun Bucknor.

Buy this record if your GPS isn't working and you have the chance to get reacquainted with a road map.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Aucan- Black Rainbow

Not sure what to make of this band, one second they're playing spaced-out laptop dubstep with twee female vocals, the next second they break out this spazzy Lincoln Park inspired electronic music with half-hearted raps, then while your ears are still sorting out the jumble they hit you with prototypical Euro club circuit fare. To top it off they throw in a traditional Japanese instrumental with biwa, piano, and backward looped notes? So yea, it's safe to assume that this band isn't quite sure what it wants to be. I guess this is how they roll in Italy.

Buy this record when you're not sure if you want coffee, tea, or a milkshake.


Little Dragons- Ritual Union

I'm not an expert on Sweden but I can tell you that the country has never been known for its cultural edge. Same goes for its music, a pop landscape dotted with innocuous acts such as ABBA, Jens Lekman, The Cardigans, and Peter Bjorn and John. The Knife may qualify as dark or mysterious but even they have a pop bent. In Little Dragons, Sweden has a new export, with a twist, an ethnic Swedish singer of Japanese descent who has an R&B vocal style. Her voice lacks range but provides a pleasant contrast to Little Dragon's fairly minimal, beat-oriented electronic music. It's the kind of music that would appear edgy in a Starbucks, where it will invariably be played.

Buy this record if getting a tattoo makes you feel counter-culture.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Melvins/Jon Spencer Blues Explosion- Black Betty (Splatter) 7"

Jon Spencer goes mano a mano with King Buzzo and his Melvins crew on this limited edition single. A mere 600 copies were pressed then sold on tour and through Amphetamine Reptile Records. They've already sold out so you'll need to have your own ebay boxing match if you want to get your hands on a copy. Both bands give raucous versions of the Leadbelly tune "Black Betty" here. Apparently, Black Betty was an early 19th century term for liquor and, justifiably, these versions go down well with a couple slugs of the sweet nectar. Jon Spencer should win this battle because the nature of the song is more in the Blues Explosion's wheelhouse, they are the Blues Explosion after all. However, the judges deducted points from Jon Spencer for the use of his version in a Volkswagon Super Bowl ad last year. It was a hard fought battle with both sides landing some good combinations, King Buzzo was on the ropes a couple of times, but the winner of this bout is.... Sideshow Bob and his Melvins!

Buy this record if you want to get punched by a bottle of tequila.


Twin Sister- Bad Street

10 inch single from Long Island group that serves as a teaser for their first full length, In Heaven, due to be released on 9/27/11. The name seems to be a play on another Long Island band's name, Twisted Sister, but I could be mistaken. The three songs provide a dictionary definition of the band's musical styles: "Bad Street" is an enjoyable dance tune that harkens back to Talking Heads rhythms, accented by Andrea Estella's methodical vocals, sort of an American version of Laetitia Sadier's, of Stereolab, cadence. "In Heaven" is a mood piece that employs a shimmering string section and keyboard crescendo, with computer blips, over repetitive acoustic guitar notes to create a hypnotic lull. "You Remind Me Of" is a sparse acoustic ballad with a haunting vibe. Nice to know that Long Island is pumping out something other than dentists and accountants.

Buy this record if you prefer Duryea's Lobster Deck over Nick& Toni's.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kraut! Demons! Kraut!- German Psychedelic Underground 1968-1974

Leave it to a Krautrock compilation to open with a song "Ready For Take Off" featuring buzzing airplane propellers and a manic drum solo. Even Krautrock fans will be hard pressed to name the bands on this compilation, there's no Faust, Amon Duul, or Neu!, although there is an unreleased track from Can, "Kama Sutra". There are some pure blues tunes as well, pointing out the correlation between early blues rock and the evolution of the Krautrock genre. Some tracks, like Trash's "Living In A Garden" with its "Sympathy For The Devil" hoot-hoots, are more accessible, but then Exmagma turn on the cosmic afterburners on "It's So Nice", a molten kaleidoscope of swirling organs, hypnotic guitar lines, and frantic cymbal crashes. A handful of tracks are fairly forgettable, but the variety and obscurity of the collection will ably freak any fan of the genre's mind.

Buy this record for that stein of Spaten Optimator, die tasche of mushrooms,  and haus saurbraten und gravy.



Down-tempo electronic laptop dance music that's basically a cross between 70's disco and electronic dubstep, with nods to Roisin Murphy and Matthew Herbert. It has my 3 year old shaking her stuff on the guest bed. Most of the vocals come courtesy of Young Turk label mates Sampha and Jessie Ware. Sampha's is a cross between the soulful crooning of Jamie Lidell and the twee quiver of James Blake. Ware's vocals are understated, and breathy, but provide a nice compliment to Sampha's. Swedish singer Yukimi, of Little Dragons, lends her voice to "Wildfire", a trippy, beat heavy paean to lust in the digital age. "Pharoahs" jittery keyboard notes, accentuated by vocals by Roses Gabor, create a dance vibe tailor made for the candy-flipping club scene. This is the sound that is dominating the London club scene now, and it's appealing to toddlers.

Buy this record when you need to replace the wallpaper with vinyl siding.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Memphis Soul Greats- Hi Records: Located In Memphis

Hi Records possessed one of the most revered session bands in the soul genre and was renowned as "the" soul label in Memphis. It also catapulted the careers of Al Green and Ann Peebles. As such, the music accompaniment is flawless throughout this collection of smooth and deep soul numbers from the late 60's/early 70's. George Jackson contributes some real gems: "So Good To Me" is a take-off on Marvin Gaye's hit "How Sweet It Is", "Aretha, Sing One For Me" Jackson's biggest hit and most well-known composition that was also covered by Cat Power on her Jukebox record, and the silky smooth groove of the 1973 penned track "Let Me Know You Care". James Fry supplies some spot-on, emotive vocals to a stone cold horn section on a trio of tunes, "Tumbling Down", "Still Around", and "I've Got Enough". Hi Records stands as a great example of the power of a strong, seasoned backing band to elevate and inspire vocalists to turn it up to 11, so to speak. It doesn't hurt when the song-writing is of such a high caliber also.

Buy this record if there's a blackout in town, but you got some candles and a joint at the ready.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin- Frkwys Vol. 7


Seventh release in the Frkwys series by NYC label RVNG Intl. featuring modern artists and their mentors, in this case Dan Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never and David Borden of Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. (a band Borden started in the 60's with Bob Moog, yes that Moog). They're joined by accomplished NYC keyboardist, composer, and producer Sam Godin, as well as electronic recording artists Laurel Halo and  James Ferraro. The music has an aura of natural ambience and none of the artists step on the other's toes, leaving plenty of space for the various keyboard ebbs and flows to work into their corners and angles, gently nudging as they glide past and through each other. Laurel Halo even takes a run at Kate Bush style vocals on "Just A Little Pollution", the closest approximation to a structured piece and the only song in the set with vocals. The rest of the album contains subtle improvised mood shifts that are alternately uplifting and doleful. The six tracks on Frkwys 7 were recorded in just two days and subsequently edited down to create this final released version. It was a productive two days for sure.

Buy this record when you wake up in the desert with a drink in your hand.


KUSF Still Needs Your Help

The radio station KUSF, based in San Francisco, is a publicly funded station that plays great independent music, along the lines of WFMU in New Jersey. The University of San Francisco shuttered its doors some months ago and the station has been airing exclusively on-line, trying to fight for its survival. Dwindling radio stations such as KUSF are a lifeline for a lot of music listeners who are seeking an alternative to Top 40, Classic AOR Rock, and other formulaic songs that almost every private radio station in the country pump out. KUSF needs your help so please get involved in whatever way you can.

Dear KUSF 90.3FM fan and supporter,
Way to go, all of you! You've come out to our events, you've donated money to keep us in the ballgame, you keep on believing in us and you keep on helping us to get the 90.3 FM frequency back. With your effort and support, we have raised almost $9,000 for the next round of the fight. We are still awaiting the response from USF and Classical Public Radio Network to the FCC's 15-point inquiry letter. As soon as we and our lawyers hear back from them, we will file an answer. Among other things, the Rock 'n Swap was a great success: it was great to see you all having fun while keeping the greatest record swap in Northern California alive!
And even though you might be in your summer hibernation, Save KUSF does not sleep and keeps on organizing great events for you and our fight.
Here's a list of our upcoming events. You will also find all the information on our homepage:www.savekusf.org.
English Pound Radio - Reggae Wednesdays
Wednesday, July 20
Otis Lounge
25 Maiden Lane
$5 cover
Sunday, July 24th, 11 am - 3 pm
East Bay Vegan Bakesale
w/ 100% of proceeds benefiting
Save KUSF & Bay Area Girls Rock Camp feat. KUSF-in-Exile DJ Irwin from Sleeves on Hearts
@ ISSUES Glen Ave @ Piedmont Ave, Oakland
English Pound Radio - Reggae Wednesdays
Wednesday, July 27
Otis Lounge
25 Maiden Lane
$5 cover
KUSF In Exile DJ Carolyn
Thursday, July 28 6 - 9 pm
Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk Street, SF
Roots and Rhythm Series with DJ Harry Duncan
Saturday, July 30
Amoeba Music
1855 Haight St.
2-5 p.m.
KUSF In Exile DJ Carolyn
Tuesday, August 2, 6 - 9 pm
Casanova Lounge, 527 Valencia St, SF
Joe Strummer Tribute
A Fundraising Event for Save KUSF & Strummerville
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th Street, SF
The Hooks
Eastern Span
The Clash City Sirens
With Clashical Soundtrack, Raffle and Spot Prizes
We set a goal of raising $20,000 for the next round of legal work and we're almost halfway there. We know some of you may have stayed on the sidelines through the first round, not wanting to donate to a lost cause. It's time to get off the sidelines! Those of you who have already donated might not be able to give more. We understand. You can still help. Try bundling checks from your friends. It's really simple. Ask everybody you know to write a check for whatever they can afford, collect them and send them in together. Suddenly, your $10 donation has become a couple of hundred dollars. All checks should be made out to Independent Arts & Media (our fabulous 501c3 fiscal sponsor) with "Friends of KUSF" in the memo line. Mail them to:
Independent Arts & Media/Friends of KUSF
P.O. Box 420442
San Francisco, CA 94142
All donations are tax-deductible. Donors will receive an IRS-mandated letter from Independent Arts & Media confirming the donation. For more information, contact our treasurer Damin Esper at damnesp@aol.com.
Remember, the more people who know about our situation, the more support we will get. Thanks again for all of your help! And after all, don't forget to tune in to the KUSF in Exile stream. www.wfmu.org/kusf.pls or find us on iTunes under college radio. And in case you did not know yet: you get get an app for KUSF in Exile, too.  
Thank you, gracias, danke & merci. Save KUSF loves you!
Your Save KUSF Team

Mr. Wiggle & Friends- A Classic Soul Journey

Mr. Wiggles, aka Sterling Harrison, presents a collection of mostly up-tempo R&B and soul numbers, mixing Sound of Soul recording artists with Mr. Wiggles original compositions. A native of Richmond, VA.,  Harrison's greatest claim to fame was having a young Jimi Hendrix play guitar in his backing band in the mid-60's, but he remained in relative obscurity until his death in 2005 despite an active recording career. Mr. Wiggles & Friends rip the album open with the muscular horns and funked-up bass of "You Upset My Mind" by Little Tommy. Brother Love's "I Can Be" is a sweet ballad in the Philly Soul vein while the Wigglin' Men lay down a spirited instrumental, "Wigglin'", that would fill any sock hop dance floor with its tremolo blues guitar fills and blazing sax solo. Mr. Wiggles himself does a hammy "Johnny B Goode" imitation on "Ride Paul Revere" and the gospel closer "Children of God" by Larry Sander feels out of place here, but the collection has enough satisfying material to validate Harrison's efforts.

Buy this record if you plan on overlooking your friend's stupid name because he has something important to say.


Don Covay- Funky Yo-Yo

Recorded in 1977, this would be the last Covay record until Adlib in 2000. Covay is best known for his song "See-Saw", but also penned some classics for other famous artists: "Chain of Fools"-Aretha Franklin, "Pony Time"- Chubby Checker, "Letter Full of Tears"- Gladys Knight & The Pips. The recording break was probably much needed because Funky Yo-Yo feels like a rehearsal, not a fully fleshed out album. The playing is sparse, often sloppy, with the band vamping while Covay tries to improv vocals seemingly made up on the spot. It's got some down-home blues coursing through it but overall it's really quite a mess and not what you would hope for from an artist the caliber of Don Covay. However, don't let this discourage you from checking out his back catalog.

Buy this record if the parole hearing's been postponed and you've just carved a shank out of your toothbrush.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Ricky Skaggs- Country Hits Bluegrass Style

As the title suggests, this record falls directly into the wheelhouse of classic country and bluegrass fans. Bluegrass is about as innocuous of a music genre as there is, but it tends to attract some seriously expert musicians. This would make Ricky Skaggs the most innocuous of them all because he's won a shitload of awards playing bluegrass music. He started playing mandolin at the age of five, worked his way up the country ladder playing with notables Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and Keith Whitley, then joined Emmylou Harris's band in the late 70's/early 80's. He led a very successful country life until the mid-90's when he started to focus solely on bluegrass. Country Hits Bluegrass Style is a perfect amalgamation of his styles, with a crack session band re-working a honky-tonk's worth of lost treasures. Highlights include some great solo trade-offs during Don William's "Country Boy", Skagg's silky harmonies on the re-cover of his Mel Tillis penned 1984 hit "Honey (Open The Door)",  and a beautiful steel-pedal tinged version of Goldie Hill's "I Don't Care". This is knee-slappin', toe-tappin', hand-clappin" music that you can take back to the mountaintop, or sing it off of.

Buy this record if you want to whittle a bird cage on your back porch.


Brilliant Colors- Again And Again

You know when you kind of know a song but you don't know the lyrics so you just mutter something indecipherable along to the melody, kind of like what I do with almost any Michael McDonald song I've ever heard, "It came from somewhere back in the hodomo/ People can believe bedebedomebo/ What a fool believes"?
This record has that effect, singing is weak at best. Sounds like they just learned how to play three chords and are intent on wearing the shit out of them. People don't take astrophysics courses and just start making rocket ships so why is music any different? Ask the three ladies in this Bay Area band and maybe they'll have an answer for you.

Buy this record if you want to be disappointed again and again.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Camper Van Beethoven Live at CBGB's, NYC 03-21-86

                                               NOTE: Live footage from much later show

For me, Camper Van Beethoven were one of the most influential bands of the 80's. Michael Stipe of REM listed his top ten records of 1984 in Rolling Stone and CVB were on his list. I was a big fan of REM at the time and trusted his taste. I found a cassette copy of Camper Van Beethoven's debut record Telephone Free Landslide Victory at my local record store and was blown away, I'd never heard anything like this before. There were bits of punk and garage rock, bluegrass, ska, Western swing, Eastern European gypsy, and Middle Eastern classical music. It was wry and bitingly satirical, with David Lowery's spoken-word surfer dude vocals punctuating a devil may care attitude. It really epitomized the California slacker mentality of my imagination. I finally got to see them in 1988 at the now-defunct City Gardens in Trenton, NJ during their Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart tour, when they had added Zeppelin-style monster riffage to their arsenal, and it solidified their place in rock's pantheon for me. This show, in support of their 2nd record II/III, leans heavily on material from those first two records, but includes a preview of material from their third self-titled release in the form of "The History of Utah",  as well as a couple covers, Black Flag's "Wasted" (which appeared on CVB's first record), and Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive", which would also appear on their 3rd album. The band blazes through a 45 minute set here, appeasing the punk gods of CBGB's in the process.

Buy this record if you wanna trace the roots of indie music and maybe draw some inspiration from it.

Find more live CVB here: www.archive.org/details/etree

Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch- Twin Peaks Archive

For those of us who loved Twin Peaks and it's varied music this will be a surreal walk down a crooked lane. The story revolved around the investigation into the death of Laura Palmer, popular high school girl in Twin Peaks, WA who led a double life as a drug addict and prostitute. The show bubbled over with outlandish characters, from the log lady to the dwarf in the red room to the evil spirit Bob. There was the goody two-shoes best friend Donna, Laura's football star boyfriend Bobby, Laura's other boyfriend, the brooding, motorcycle-riding James, the lodge owner's seductive daughter Audrey, the FBI agent Dale Cooper and his obsession with pie, the abusive logging trucker Leo and his tortured wife Shelly, and of course Laura's twisted, domineering father  Leland. So many zany characters in one show made this 1990-1991 serial a delirious treat to watch. My only complaints with this soundtrack is that there are 5 different version of the Twin Peaks theme song and 3 versions of Freshly Squeezed (the finger-snapping Pink Panther-esque jazz music that played whenever a character was plotting something devious), plus no music from the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me movie is included, specifically the awesome song played during the scene when Laura and Donna meet Jacques at One Eyed Jacks.  There were several theories as to the town's strange occurrences and behaviors, including the idea that an evil spirit inhabited the town's electrical wires, but I'm not sure it was ever definitively solved. Either way this will be a real treat for Twin Peaks fans.

Buy this record for a rainy evening stroll in search of that boxcar in the woods.


Up All Night! Volume 2- 30 Underground Soul Hits

A hodge podge of smooth bopping soul tracks from various Mid-Western and New York labels: Veejay, Blue Cat, Dynamo, Maxx Records, and more. You'll find early Ohio Players and Gladys Knight & The Pips songs plus a great opener by the androgynous sounding Dee Clark "That's My Girl". This collection is firmly rooted in the jukebox soul era, with a nod to Northern Soul. Just another comp displaying the brilliant expanses of the soul genre.

Buy this record when you're getting gussied up for a night out on the town.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Prae-Kraut Pandemonium Volume 19

I believe that Germany was just voted, in some kind of global poll, as the "least funny nationality" on the planet. That may be true, but who gives a shit when they crank out some of world's best music. I'd trade Sarah Silverman for Can. This collection of tunes, they made it to 20 volumes, is a great sampling of the beat scene, garage rock, and, as the title implies, the prelude to "Krautrock", a genre that really helped define the German music scene. Lots of good stuff on here, including several derivative tracks (The Trombones shamelessly ape Blind Faith's "I'm A Man" riff), but analogous to the scenes happening in Britain and America at the time. Most songs are also sung in English so you don't have to translate your rock.

Buy this record if want to forget World War II and concentrate on World Cup Soccer.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ceremony- Not Tonight EP

Two dudes from Fredericksburg, VA making noisy shoegaze with a drum machine, dissonant guitar chords full of buzzy feedback, and static vocals, with echo effects, buried underneath it all. The name is taken from a Joy Division song. They shouldn't be confused with the Rohnert Park, CA hardcore band by the same name. Ceremony will appeal to the goth kids who never got to hear Jesus & Mary Chain or Love & Rockets. For two dudes, they make quite a racket so they got that going for them.

Buy this record if you cut yourself at home and decided to smear the blood all over the walls.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Miles Davis Quintet- The Unissued Japanese Concerts

This record is the culmination of a brief three night run in Japan during 1964. This was the 2nd incarnation of the Miles Davis Quintet featuring Sam Rivers on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on the keys, Ron Carter on bass, and Tony Williams manning the skins. Loads of classics on this one: "Walkin", "So What". "Stella By Starlight", "All Of You", "If I Were A Bell". Recording isn't perfect, Davis' trumpet sounds tinny on some songs and the entire ensemble sounds a little distanced, meaning the quintet isn't upfront in the mix, but it's a minor complaint given the overall quality of playing and the track list.

Buy this record if you wanna brush with greatness.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Appetite- Scattered, Smothered, Covered

Man does this guy sound a lot like Yoni Wolf, original cLOUDDEAD member who now performs under the name Why?, and who's style has been likened to Beck Hansen's work.  Appetite even delivers rapid-fire verses in a sing-song, like rifling through random thoughts of a diary entry, in the same manner as Why?. So I guess you can consider Appetite two degrees of Beck Hansen. Oh, and he was in the LA band  Rooney so there ya go.

Buy this record if you know a guy who knows a guy that sells bootleg DVDs.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Washed Out- Within And Without

All the indie girls are fluffing their pillows, preening for a transformative night with the Georgian boy called Washed Out. He plays infinitely danceable, dreamy snyth music with an 80's nostalgia appeal, similar to Cut Copy, and he's good-looking. It's not just the girls, he's also a PR firm's wet dream. I'll leave it to the blogosphere to pontificate.

Buy this record so you know where to look for a date when Washed Out comes to your town.


Stevie Wonder- Funkafied Rainbow

Bootleg of a concert performed at the Rainbow Theater in London, UK on 1/31/74. The concert was intended as a live release, this idea was later nixed by Wonder. so the sound quality is pristine. The 70's were truly the era of the great live and double live record, let's review: The Band- The Last Waltz, Neil Young- Rust Never Sleeps, Frampton Comes Alive, UFO- Strangers in the Night, Bob Dylan at Budokan, Blue Oyster Cult- On Your Feet or On Your Knees, and on and on, you get the idea.
This show would have surely joined that list. A tight ensemble pumps out some of Stevie's best songs, "Higher Ground", "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", "Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing", "Living For The City", "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life", "Superstition". It's just Mr. Wonder on keys, three back-up singers, Michael Sembello on guitar, Reggie McBride on bass, and Ollie Brown on drums. It's just another treasure from the musical vaults.

Buy this record if you need an excuse to break out that old pair of bellbottoms.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Kill Rock Stars Turns 20 with Free Music Sampler!

Celebrate Kill Rock Stars 20th Anniversary with a FREE SAMPLER. A lot of excellent bands have passed through the grimy, yet hallowed halls, of this Olympia WA label including: Bikini Kill, Sleater Kinney, Deerhoof, Unwound, Xiu Xiu, Decembrists, The Thermals, OOIOO, and Elliot Smith. You'll need to download the Amazon MP3 Player (it's free) then you can download all of the songs directly to your itunes or to the Amazon Cloud Player (there is a preference that say, "no thanks, download to my computer"). Just clink on the link below, Enjoy and make sure to thank KRS!


Owen Pallett- A Swedish Love Story EP

A classically trained violinist and multi-instrumentalist, Pallett fits snugly into the Arcade Fire mold of orchestral chamber pop, but his music is more intimate and technical than Arcade Fire's songs. His evolution bears a resemblance to Kelley Polar, another classically trained musician who successfully translated his music to the pop/indie genre. Pallett received  accolades while recording under the name Final Fantasy but dropped that name with the release of his critically acclaimed LP Heartland. The Swedish Love Story EP came out in late 2010 and expounds on his sound with propulsive synth notes and a firmer percussion foundation (he leans on marching beat style drumming on the Heartland LP), but still retains the plucky violin notes that make the music so rewarding. Pallett's voice won't be for everyone, it's soft-spoken, has a breathy quality and is generally not particularly strong, but the music is charming in light of the borderline nihilistic themes pursued.

Buy this record if you want to dye your roots back to their natural color.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brad Paisley- This Is Country Music

I think it was inevitable when I started this blog that I'd eventually be reviewing Brad Paisley records. I'm just following in the footsteps of my father, who after he kicked his drinking, snorting, and fighting habits, found God, threw away his Dylan and Bowie records, then embraced God's music like a Mississippi maven driving his Ford F-150 through the streets of Tupelo looking for hickory-smoked barbecue and a dog to call Bubba. When Brad cackles, "she'd rather wear a pair of cut-off jeans then a fancy evening dress/ and when the windows rolled down and her hair blown all around she's a hot southern mess" on "Old Alabama" you know you've reached the promised land. It's safe to throw away my Thin Lizzy and Camper Van Beethoven records now.

Buy this record if you're living in an alternate universe and have lost the will to live.


The Book Of Knots- Garden Of Fainting Stars

More syrup from Ipecac Records featuring former members/players of Pere Ubu, Frank Black, Bob Mould, and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. This crew knows how to navigate paths between neo-classical, metal, and industrialized art rock and their collective industry experience has drawn guest spots from the likes of Jon Langford, Tom Waits, Mike Watt, and Mike Patton, the latter two both appear on the new record, the finale of a conceptual trilogy. It's all very theatrical, and serious, and meticulously executed.

Buy this record when the art degree isn't paying the bills and you just moved back in with the 'rents.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cecil Gant- Cecil Gant '44-'45 (Flyright 61)

Blues pianist who had a number one hit with the ballad "I Wonder" in the early forties and later recruited Nashville session players on guitar and bass for boogie stomp numbers, the kind of music that Jerry Lee Lewis would later steal, I mean imitate. Unfortunately Gant didn't live to see the advent of Rock'N'Roll, a genre that he inadvertently helped usher in, because he died at the ripe age of 38. Gant wasn't the best singer or most technical piano player but he imbued his music with personality and humor and created

some rollicking harbingers for today's music purveyors, and imitators.

Buy this record when you wanna wash down those farm-fresh eggs with a glass of milk from the bottle.

Ducktails- Live on WFMU 12/19/08

In-studio performance from Real Estate sideman Matthew Mondanile, who goes by the moniker Ducktails, on the legendary not-for-profit radio station WFMU, based in Jersey City, NJ. This show predates the Jersey native's critically acclaimed Arcade Dynamics III album (check out my upcoming review of it at: www.myspoonful.com) by a year or so. Ducktails live set at this point consisted of heaping spoonfuls of wah-wah guitar, delirious keyboard buffers, and improvised jams. Mondanile is now working on putting together a traditional band arrangement for Ducktails live shows.
Note: this set is, or at least was, available through Inflated Records as a vinyl release, and perhaps as a download?

Buy this record if you yearn for the Jersey Shore that isn't being defamed on that popular cable channel.


Daniel Thomas Freeman- The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself


A soundtrack for the apocalypse, the theme song for a dystopian republic, London-based Freeman conjures images of a bleak and foreboding world with his ambient drones, whirling wind vacuums, and clattering chimes. He does a good job of invoking the spirit of Terry Riley on "The Might of Angels" where an Om-like cello drifts in and out as a single violin note lingers, as if on the precipice of a storm that never quite materializes. There is a lot to explore here but it's going to take patience on the listener's part.

Buy this record if you want to ponder the day with the moon in the sky.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Jurgen Muller- Science Of The Sea

A kaleidoscopic synth exploration of the oceans deep by an amateur German composer with minimal formal training on the piano. It's really an exercise in meditation with some beautifully succinct moments. Anyone who loves the water will appreciate the earnestness of this work.

Buy this record for a meandering drive down the coast.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Greenwood Sharps- Things Familiar EP

More of the soup du jour, laptop dubstep. There is nothing more boring than going to a music venue to watch some guy sit in front of his fucking computer. Seriously, what happened to fire-spitting, guitar-spinning, flash pods exploding, performance art theatrics? If any musician could it should be these laptop artists, simply program your beats then start running around the stage blowing shit up and drooling blood while smearing feces on yourself. Anyway, this is busier dubstep than British counterpart James Blake, who draws a comparison here. Not sure why James Blake is getting everyone's lunch money instead of Greenwood Sharps, but that's the magic of the music machine.

Buy this record if you want to bunt with the bases loaded.


Shabazz Palaces- Black Up

Over-hyped space rap, stepped in static laptop beats, R&B samples, and found sounds from former Digable Planets dude. cLOUDDEAD was doing this ten years ago, albeit with murkier beats and self-effacing lyrics. This is definitely rap aimed at a white audience.

Buy this record if the club doesn't have vodka service and you want to burn one out in the parking lot but it's too cold.


Friday, July 1, 2011

The Dodos- No Color

Tribal in nature, pounding floor toms, frantically strummed acoustic guitars coupled with pulsing electric guitars, oh, and lots of tambourine. The vocals stand out as the incongruent piece, faux-crooning, emotively twee-ish with soaring background choruses, which takes them out of a hippie family circle and squarely into the indie world. Not sure why Neko Case is singing backup on this record though, her distinct voice is rendered homogenous here, they could have used any female singer for those parts. The band calls the Best City in America their home, San Frantastic, so points for that.

Buy this record if you can't choose between the endive and the watercress.