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, December 31, 2011

Blue Oyster Cult- Live In The West 1975

I think a BOC review is an appropriate way to end 2011, considering that they were one of the finest rock bands of the 70's and 80's. They successfully combined traditional blues song structures with hard rock chords, often taking forays into extended improvisational territory, replete with blazing guitar solos and hypnotic breakdowns. Their lyrics were poetic ruminations on extraterrestrial life and celestial objects. Rumor has it that this particular bootleg was created by the band itself to distribute to friends. The tracks on Live In The West were culled from 1975 shows in Washington, Oregon, and California, which culminated in their first live record On Your Feet Or On Your Knees. BOC nerds will rejoice at the five tracks included here that don't appear on the official live record: "Stairway To The Stars", "O.D'd On Life Itself", "Flamin' Telepaths", "Dominance & Submission", and the epic "Astronomy". Every track on here is of sensational sound quality and the performances really burn. This period was arguably the band's creative peak, before the notoriety of "Godzilla" and the commercial successes of "Burning For You" and "Don't Fear The Reaper". If you are one of the few people who haven't experienced BOC as a rite of passage, this would be a proper place to begin the immersion process.

Buy this record if you're lost in a forest of hard rock and need a compass.


Heinz Kiessling- Coloured Strings/ That's Music

Two records, made in 1964 and 1965 respectively, by German Big Band orchestra conductor. Years ago I stumbled upon a great compilation of German library music called Days Of Summer. I couldn't find any info about that particular CD on the internet (I've since found out that Days of Summer is a compilation of Brilliant Library Music Ltd. released on the Brigade Montaine Label in 2006) so I tracked down some music from one of the artists featured on the comp. It turns out that Kiessling is responsible for the theme music heard on the TV show It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which is somewhat appropriate, because Heinz's music has a loftier, more ornate Larry Ferrari kind of vibe (Ferrari was an organist who had a Sunday morning TV show in Philadelphia, where he basically just sat at an organ and played). Many songs utilize arpeggio string flourishes, the sonic equivalent of tiptoeing down the stairs on christmas morning. The tempos are almost universally upbeat and often feature stop-starts that provide structural relief to the meandering melodies. This music would be a good substitute for zoloft in treating depression as well as inspiration for dusting around the house.

Buy this record while you stoke the fireplace logs and boil water for a nice cup of hot cocoa.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Blut Aus Nord- 777-The Desanctification

Santa Claus and Death Metal. I really believed in both when I was younger. When I got Venom's Black Metal on Christmas I thought that Santa was the coolest mofo on the planet. And Venom scared the shit out of me. I was sure those guys were the darkest, vilest, most Satanic souls on Earth. Now Santa brings my kid Katy Perry records and Black Metal just seems like a lark. The French multi-instrumentalist behind Blut Aus Nord falls under the black metal moniker, but what a lot of critics are calling black metal these days is really just glorified chamber rock with a lot of chorus guitar effects and lurching rhythms. Many of the riffs on 777- The Desanctification wouldn't be out of place on an Alice In Chains record. However, the band does nail the mystical metal angle while naming every song "Epitome", with a roman numeral. "Epitome XII" is an effective instrumental that combines an ominous arching chord progression over an other-worldly backing chorus that calls to mind a laborious climb up celestial steps to Purgatory. The problem with Blut Aus Nord is that each track lumbers along with no clear direction or inspiration. Isn't the Devil's music supposed to have a point, or at least horns?

Buy this record if Catholic guilt is causing you to give up Christmas cookies.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

331/3 Timeless Tunes of 2011

Here's a list of  33 songs that piqued our interest in 2011. They are in no particular order and their inclusion is very discriminatory. This is what we liked and we don't give a shit if you agree or not, but let us know if you do agree or not. We appreciate the banter.

Twin Sister- "Bad Street"
Bad Street EP
Bobby- "Nam Champ"
The Donkeys- "Ceiling Tan"
Born With Stripes
Stevie Nicks- "For What It's Worth"
In Your Dreams
Eddie Vedder- "Longing To Belong"
Ukelele Songs
The Antlers- "I Don't Want Love"
Burst Apart
Kurt Vile- "Jesus Fever"
Smoke Ring For My Halo
Scream- "Get Free"
Complete Control Sessions
Real Estate- "Out Of Tune"
Destroyer- "Chinatown"
Purling Hiss- "Headlights"
Dizzy Polizzy
El Rego- "Hessa"
El Rego
Girls- "How Can I Say I Love You"
Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Austra- "Hate Crime"
Feel It Break
Gardens & Villa- "Orange Blossom"
Gardens & Villa
Jacuzzi Boys- "Libras and Zebras"
Jonny- "You Was Me"
When Saints Go Machine- "Church And Law"
The Coathangers- "Johnny"
Larceny & Old Lace
Those Darlins- "Screws Get Loose"
Screws Get Loose
Bibio- "Anything New"
Mind Bokeh
Red Fang- "Wires"
Murder The Mountains
Patrick Cleandenim- "In My Baby's Eyes"
Radio Heartbreak
Oneohtrix Point Never- "Replica"
Little Dragon- "Shuffle A Dream"
Ritual Union
Shannon & The Clams- "The Cult Song"
Sleep Talk
The War On Drugs- "Brothers"
Slave Ambient
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings- "He Said I Can"
Soul Time!
Thao & Mirah- "Rubies And Rocks"
Thao & Mirah
The Chain Gang of 1974- "Stop"
Wayward Fire
Washed Out- "Amor Fati"
Within And Without
SBTRKT- "Wildfire"
The Weeknd- "Wicked Games"
House Of Balloons

Guided By Voices- Let's Go Eat The Factory

Guided By Voices have been experiencing a much-deserved renaissance due to their demand, and nice paydays, on the festival circuit in the past two years. Although the band had been in unofficial retirement mode, Bob Pollard and co. reformed the core group responsible for their most groundbreaking early records and cranked out indie gem after indie gem to thousands of kids who weren't yet aware when Pollard was earning his "Godfather of Indie Rock" title. Now the band seems intent on capitalizing on their resurgence with the release of Let's Go Eat The Factory. It is with heavy heart that I have to report that GBV's latest effort feels like a bunch of demos and out-takes, a bevy of partially realized ideas (not unlike many early Pollard songs), but lacking the hooks and intensity of those earlier recordings. They maintain a lo-fi aesthetic that could conceivably place the new record alongside the Vampires On Titus and Bee Thousands, but the song-writing is just not up to snuff. Interestingly, Pollard breaks out a seemingly traditional tune called "Old Bones" that feels like an homage to Tom Waits, replete with an accordion overlay and an accompanying string section. GBV fans, like myself, will continue to mine the new record for an occasional gem ("Chocolate Boy", "The Unsinkable Fats Domino"), but will invariably retreat back to the glory days when Pollard was still the Godfather, not the Grandfather of Indie Rock.

Buy this record because you really want it to be like it used to be.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Compiled Taste of the Best of Buy This Record? 2011

We've put together a compilation of some of our favorite music for the 2011 calendar year. Track listing and links are below:

Kurt Vile- On Tour
Gardens & Villa- Black Hills http://www.fileserve.com/file/ssWKEc6 
Ween- Linda (The Sexy Dancer) http://www.fileserve.com/file/MAprarX 
Obits- No Fly List http://www.fileserve.com/file/dm5pvdg 
Chelsea Wolfe- Tracks (Tall Bodies) http://www.fileserve.com/file/JGxb9Fk 
Noveller- Tuesday Before Poland http://www.fileserve.com/file/4pTsCNf 
Purling Hiss- Whipple Dam http://www.fileserve.com/file/H2jZxHQ 
Unknown Mortal Orchestra- FFunny FFrends http://www.fileserve.com/file/AQ2Ngxm 
FRKWYS Vol. 5- New Horizons (Mirror Mirror) http://www.fileserve.com/file/SdU9ZRw 
Ocote Soul Sounds- Contigo Jamas http://www.fileserve.com/file/zRyM3AD 
Blood Orange- Instantly Blank (The Goodness) http://www.fileserve.com/file/3xgs3Ny 
The Weeknd- Initiation http://www.fileserve.com/file/TuJRQRG 
Death Grips- Guillotine http://www.fileserve.com/file/h7b8TBj 
Destroyer- Chinatown http://www.fileserve.com/file/8EWcnRy 
Hauschka- Two A.M. http://www.fileserve.com/file/U7Brfvn 
Wild Flag- Something Came Over Me
Jennifer Castle- Misguided
Andy Stott- Intermittent http://www.fileserve.com/file/ctguzUD 
Ducktails- Hamilton Road http://www.fileserve.com/file/xBr2kh5 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Weeknd- Echoes of Silence

He's only 21 but this is already his 3rd record of 2011. The first, House Of Balloons, drew a lot of ink for it's tales of drugging and fucking sung with a radio-friendly R&B voice over foreboding, yet compelling, rhythmic structures. The next record, Thursday, was much more ethereal but didn't feel as accessible. Now the final installment in this 2011 trilogy reaches our ears in the form of Echoes of Silence, combining the best aspects of both House of Balloons and Thursday, while showcasing the musical maturity of Toronto, Ontario's Abel Tesfaye. Dare I say that he can sound like the 2nd coming of Michael Jackson when he chooses to rip out some grittier verses? Give the opening track "D.D." a spin and tell me you don't hear it. "Outside" builds on the themes of young lust that prevailed on the first record, our protagonist daring his latest conquest to go back to her man after a night of his indomitable loving. Overall, the beats are more varied and diverse on Silence, propelling verses while remaining down-tempo in nature.

Buy this record if you're growin' up and you're horny.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Real Estate- Days

North Jersey has become a bit of a hotbed for indie music recently. There's Titus Andronicus from Mahwah, Vivian Girls bassist and La Sera front-man Katy Goodman from New Brunswick, and Real Estate from Ridgewood. North Jersey also produced Yo La Tengo, The Feelies, and some Italian guy from Hoboken named Frank Sinatra. Real Estate offer up breezy pop with similarities to the aforementioned Feelies, as well as a casual nod to The Byrds and The Sea & Cake. It's got just the right amount of lilt to get heads nodding, but not enough juice to shake the rump. They are a well-adjusted suburban teenager's dream and pretty good medicine for a mal-adjusted suburban guy who's now entering his middle ages. One of their guitarists has a side project called Ducktails which I find more interesting than the stuff Real Estate is doing, but who cares what I think.

Buy this record if you wanna remember those hazy summer days spent biking between the Village Market and Dairy Queen.


Andy Stott- Passed Me By/We Stay Together

Some seriously atmospheric grime dub-step from Manchester, UK producer Stott, who was introduced to his label, Modern Love, by acclaimed British musician Mark Stewart. The label also houses another critical darling Demdike Stare and is quickly booking points as the go-to label for forward leaning dub/house music. Stott's latest collection is actually two separate EPs with four bonus tracks added. He likes to refer to his music as "knackered house", because the rpms are slowed to a crawl, with minimal elements thrown in, allowing the music space to ooze and seep into perceived subterranean caverns of industrial waste. Tracks are enveloped by constant background hiss with submerged beats pulsing from within. It's a tried and true recording conceit that feels refreshing in Stott's capable hands.

Buy this record if you're envisioning a midnight's stroll on the English Moors.


Marijuana Deathsquads- Crazy Master

Their roots can be traced to improvisational avant-garde music and subtlety is not in this Minnesota band's vocabulary. Each member belongs to another local band Building Better Bombs. There is a cacophony of electronic blips and whirs, anchored by a multitude of percussion, including a traditional drum kit and the occasional call and response of distorted, adrenaline-fueled vocals. At times it can be reminiscent of a Butthole Surfers breakdown or an Acid Mother's Temple mind melt.  The band's title is appropriate because Crazy Master is tailor made to squash just about any good weed high.

Buy this record if you plan on huffing some glue then poisoning the neighbor's cat.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

John Maus- Demos

A bunch of demos/b-sides from the John Maus album We Must Become the Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves. Sounds very similar to Ariel Pink's work but more orchestral in nature. He cribs riffs from Alphaville and Pat Benatar while singing in a chamber-like, baritone Peter Murphy voice. Maus did a Q & A earlier this year with Pitchfork.com where he came off sounding like a pompous douche, discussing his love of obscure music that people had never heard of and calling for the death of the local record store, but he quickly apologized to the blogosphere for his responses and perceived attitude. It remains to be seen how clever he thinks he may be as compared to how clever he truly is, but these tracks provide a good base for Maus fans to immerse themselves. "The River" is especially rewarding.

Buy this record if you're sure that you're more learned than the guy sitting over there.


Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Original Soundtrack

This is the first collaboration for the frequent collaborators since Reznor and Ross won the Best Original Score Oscar last year for the movie The Social Network. Atticus Ross had produced the last four Nine Inch Nails (Reznor's band) records, but it looks like the two have really found their niche making soundtracks together. Both Network and Dragon Tattoo OSTs are imbued with a sense of icy detachment and foreboding. The music is often simultaneously aggressive and passively melancholic, eliciting a dystopian world of caution, anxiety, and reflection. There are a ton of textures and ideas within this soundtrack that Reznor couldn't effectively explore under the Nine Inch Nails banner, not withstanding the aggro cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song", with vocals from Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, that opens the record.

Buy this record, take a couple vaperizor hits, have sex with someone, then go stand precipitously close to the edge of a cliff and ponder the infinity of space.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chicago- Live in '75

So I spend my Saturday mornings listening to Chicago bootlegs, what's it to you? Easily the best of the city/state named bands (Kansas, Boston, Salem, Alabama), this 2011 Rhino reissue showcases a three night run of shows the band played at the Capital Centre in Maryland in June of 1975 when the band was at the peak of its powers, having released 8 consecutive gold records in just 6 years. Chicago was the most successful billboard singles charting band of the 1970s, but many will remember them for their syrupy ballads in the post Peter Cetera era. They were one of the first bands to successfully augment a progressive rock sound with a horn section. Songs like "Wishing You Were Here", "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is",  and "Saturday In The Park" evoke a specific, yet undefinable, time and space with the very distinctive Chicago sound; mellow grooves punctuated by rousing horn fills overlain by Terry Cath's casual vocal delivery and Cetera's more emotive vocals.
The '75 tour also saw Chicago doing a massive stadium tour with the Beach Boys (who provided backing vocals on "Wishing You Were Here"). All the hits are here, the above mentioned, as well as: "Just You N Me", "25 or 6 to 4", "Beginnings", "Make Me Smile", "(I've Been) Searching So Long", and "Feeling Stronger Every Day". The sound quality is spotty, sounding like an audience taping, not a soundboard recording, and the instruments often sound tinny and distant. It is, however, a good document of a band at the peak of its power. You won't win any hipness points by listening to this, that's for sure, but who gives a shit. Do what feels right.

Buy this record if you can't access FM radio and The Eagles Hotel California is staring you in the face.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Traveling Wilburys- The True History of The Traveling Wilburys

I don't know whether to be elated or depressed by The Traveling Wilburys. On one hand you have some of the great musicians of our time: Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne putting egos aside to make music. On the other hand, you expect some transcendental songs to come out of this type of project, but you mostly get a batch of barroom burners with the occasional bona fide hit, "Handle Me With Care", "Last Night", "End Of The Line". Even the hits are lightweight, with mostly homogenous lyrics and cliches. I guess this is the result when egos are taken out of the equation as the desire for perfection and precision decreases. But the sense of fun these heavyweights derive from playing together is palpable, as this collection happily bounces between the two records. Unfortunately Roy Orbison died after recording the first Wilbury's record so his majestic voice is under-represented in whole. You basically need to be an asshole not to like the Traveling Wilburys unless you're holding out for the Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Adele, Mariah Carey supergroup to assemble.

Buy this record for the guy who's been listening to a lot of Dave Matthews bootlegs lately.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Radical Dads- Mega Rama

Intrigued by the name and slightly repelled by the music connection, RD's drummer was a member of Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. Lindsay Baker does the majority of singing and shares guitar duties with Chris Diken. Her singing style is reminiscent of Corin Tucker from Sleater-Kinney, a forceful blend of declaratory shouts and plaintive warbled vocals. Diken's voice is weak so the Baker sung songs are more effective. The band has no bassist but it isn't much of a drawback, the guitars weave notes with equal parts chorus, delay, and distortion to add gravity to the sound. Their guitar riffs crib liberally from Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, and Built To Spill. It's pretty standard indie fare, but you could do worse things to your ears.

Buy this record if you're home watching Ultraman with the kids