Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fenn O'Berg - The Return of Fenn O'Berg

Fenn O'Berg - The Return of Fenn O'Berg

Laptop music before it was cool. These guys are responsible for creating the foundation of what is contemporary improvisational computer music. Sure there are those that came before, but they were the first to popularize this new wave of experimental, electronic music that is focused primarily on a live setting. This was recently remastered with their first album, so I've included that for context as well, but The Return is filled to the brim with about everything you could ask for in an album of this sort, shimmering guitars, noise, subtle beats, and absolutely gorgeous arrangements. O'Rourke, Rehberg, and Fennesz all bring incredibly different components to the table, and this is undoubtedly the source of the album's success.

The Return of Fenn O'Berg

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wives - Erect the Youth Problem

Wives - Erect the Youth Problem

I love No Age. But I love Wives more.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ekkehard Ehlers - A Life Without Fear (2006)

Ekkehard Ehlers - A Life Without Fear (2006)

Anyone familiar with Ehlers or his side projects knows that you can never anticipate what he'll do next. With this album, somehow Ehlers has taken a variety of samples from old delta blues records and transformed them into a record that is both cold and warm, but undeniably visceral. Anyone with a shred of appreciation for blues or electronic music will have something to say about this album, it's easy to get into, but also incredibly complex and cerebral.

A Life Without Fear

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This Heat - Deceit (1981)

This is one of those albums that's really hard to place for me. It's clearly coming from no-wave (Hayward had worked with Eno) and post-punk, there is also some Throbbing Gristle in here, but it also stands alone for me. In fact, I don't think there is a single album between this and Liars' Drum's Not Dead that has the same kind of impact on me. Many of you have probably heard this, but if you haven't, I don't want to spoil the fun. Needless to say the influences and quotations are far and wide, but first and foremost it's a really fun album.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Burning Star Core - Challenger (2008)

There is a lot of shitty drone and noise and ambient and what the fuck have you out there. So much so that anyone substantially interested in any of these musical inclinations with a decent sense of quality control could be driven fucking mad by it. Here's the perfect album of the last 10 years to sum it all up.

C. Spencer Yeh plays a mean fucking violin. He also travels all around the world and plays with all kinds of people who constantly push the boundaries of his musical compulsions. As a result, he consistently kicks out some of the most surprising and engaging records (whether under his name or the BXC moniker) imaginable. Challenger fits into this paradigm perfectly, and his collaborations with John Wiese and Lausse Marhaug are clearly launching points for this record.

The easiest way to introduce this record is that it feels like old sci-fi/horror soundtracks... The first film that came to mind is the German masterpiece "Eyes Without a Face." Something about the simple musical ideas that crescendo and then fall off abruptly (in almost every track on the album) reminds me of the horror films that were inspired by cinema fantastique. At any rate, each succinct musical idea somehow manages to inform the entire album. There is no strict evolution or narrative over the course of the eight tracks, but they all seems to grow and take shape independent of each other, even after they've stopped playing.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

R. Stevie Moore - Phonography (1976)

R. Stevie Moore should be the beginning and end of every conversation about compulsive home recording artists like Daniel Johnston or Ariel Pink. Over the last 30 or so years he's released several hundred cassettes, cdrs, and records. A few songs into any of his releases and it's clear that writing and recording songs isn't just a hobby, everything in his life comes back full circle to his songs. In some ways you could describe his songs as a journal or diary, but that always feels kind of simplistic. It's completely honest and self-deprecating at the same time, but somehow it never feels too ironic or self-indulgent.

For me it was interesting to come across him after being completely obsessed with artists like Ariel Pink and John Maus. Despite the massive discography I'm fairly comfortable leisurely adding an album or two to my collection at a time. I like to give each record plenty of time to soak in, else I'd be afraid that I'd get numb to his sincerity. In the end, they are just great tunes. It's impossible not to draw dozens of comparisons for each of his albums, but for every comparison Moore adds his own unique spin on whatever musical element he's toying with. With just enough tape experimentation and field recording to keep things on edge, his debut LP "Phonography" is a wonderful entry point.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Arc Lab - The Goodbye Radio

A random discovery from last year that I ended up really enjoying. Here is a concise description:

Representing a large step forward for Fischer’s Arc Lab project, the album is structured as a musical reinterpretation of the sonnet form in which field recordings, organic instrumentation, radio noise, candid male vocals and snippets of old public domain recordings meet with the FM synthesis, female vocals and signature beatwork that made previous Arc Lab efforts so special. Thematic reference points include the Russian space program, relativity, female serial killers, and being separated from a soulmate.


Blekbala Mujik - Blekbala Mujik

One of my early discoveries in world music when I was in high school, Blekbala Mujik's music is an interesting fusion of rock/dance/reggae/pop created from an Aboriginal perspective. Most of songs are comprised of lyrics written in English and Kriol, which is a creole language based on English and Australian Aboriginal languages.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Portishead - Roseland NYC

I'm always surprised by how many people who love Portishead/trip-hop/good music have never listened to album. I recently re-discovered it this year and again was impressed with how they managed to perform music composed partially of samples so fluidly. This is definitely one of my all-time favorite live albums.


PW: ewang

Kid Koala - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Another major player in my early musical influences, Kid Koala is one the two artists that got me into turntablism when I was in high school. If you have never listened to much turntablism, or heard scratching and sampling in a song and have been immediately turned off, this is the album that has the greatest chance of opening you up to it. Kid Koala's masterful skill combined with his tongue and cheek commentary on the views toward his own art make this a great listen.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Mouse On Mars - Niun Niggung

Niun Niggung is one of the most influential albums from my early electronic listening history. I bought it on a total whim from Amazon while viewing what other user's bought from the page for Music Has The Right To Children (Boards of Canada) and like that BoC album, it majorly shaped my tastes and electronic creativity. It's bubbly and bouncy, boarding on a ska feel at points while at the same time being incredibly accessible for it's genre of music. Whether you call it glitch, IDM, post-techo, etc... it's amazing. Melodies weave in out of the beats, samples and other electronics seamlessly. Is that bubbles popping or a synthesizer? The opening three songs are some of my favorites moments on any album I've ever heard. If this isn't your cup of tea, at least make sure you listen to the first three songs, "Pinwheel Herman", "Albion Rose", and "Booosc". This music was a major player in the soundtrack to my high school years, and it still resonates just as deeply with me today.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Elbow & The BBC Orchestra - The Seldom Seen Kid

Although it came out this year and isn't a rare gem, I want as many people as possible to hear this album. Building on the greatness of last year's Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow performed the entire album live with the BBC Orchestra, and took the material to a whole new level. From the new emphasis on the closing of "The Bones of You", to the effect of having an choir doing the back up vocals on "Grounds For Divorce, every song takes on a new life performed in this setting. If this is first time listening to Elbow, this is quite the introduction. I dare you to not be compelled to throw your hands up in the air and smile during the finale of "One Day Like This". I promise tomorrow's pick will be at least slightly more obscure.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Boys - To Hell With The Boys

The Boys are one of punk rock's most underrecognized and underrated bands. Actually, punk rock isn't an entirely fair descriptor...they were more of a power pop band, but with punk's energy and attitude. Great songs, great hooks, great playing.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Latyrx - The Album

This album was not part of my underground hip-hop education...I was only introduced to it when it showed up as Allmusic's album of the day a couple of years ago. Featuring Lyrics Born, Lateef and DJ Shadow, this record sees the three pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop could be...way ahead of its time in 1997. Adventurous, exciting, and hardly in print for most of its existence, The Album is well worth your time.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Mark Kozelek - What's Next to the Moon

Mark Kozelek specializes in a kind of woozy, slow rock music. His bands, Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, were basically logical extensions of eachother, not terribly different but predictably gorgeous each time out. His first EP under his own name contained three AC/DC covers. His first album as a solo artist is made up entirely of AC/DC covers, stripped down to just voice, guitar and atmosphere. This is not a novelty album. Stripped of their bad-boy attitude, Kozelek reveals (or finds) an emotional depth in these tunes that would never be apparent otherwise. This is one of my favorite rainy day records, as haunting and beautiful as a Bert Jansch or Nick Drake release.


Eleventh Dream Day - Lived to Tell

Led by husband/wife duo Rick Rizzo (guitar/vocals) and Janet Bean (drums/vocals), Chicago's Eleventh Dream Day kick out the jams with super loud guitars (almost to the point of being shoegaze), boy/girl harmonies and tight grooves. A little less shambolic than Crazy Horse, they remind me a lot of Dinosaur Jr. with more of a roots influence and a better singer. This album is heavy in all the right ways.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic

This band should have been huge. The Exploding Hearts wrote wonderful songs, playing their snotty power-pop-punk tunes with conviction. The band was returning home to Portland, OR from a show in San Francisco when they lost control of their van. On July 20, 2003, 3/4 of the group were killed. They left behind one brilliant album and a collection of odds n' ends that is equally brilliant. Another band where we are left asking what could have been.


True West - Hollywood Holiday

True West were a sort of ancillary part of the 1980s Paisley Underground scene that was sprouting up in Los Angeles. Along with bands like The Dream Syndicate, The Three O'Clock, The Bangles, Green on Red, and the Rain Parade, True West played dreamy, 1960s influenced pop. Allmusic notes their geographic location in Davis, CA and their slightly darker sound put them on the fringes of the Paisley scene. Hollywood Holiday, their debut album, is a nice little rock n' roll record, 8 songs that are slightly jangly, slightly dangerous, and very melodic.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Electric Wizard - Come My Fanatics/Electric Wizard

Electric Wizard are a super heavy group from Dorset, England. They inevitably get lumped into the "stoner metal" subgenre, which I guess is reasonable because they have a record called Dopethrone. They are also considered doom metal. But for all their immense, detuned heaviness, I consider Electric Wizard to be a psychedelic group. Come My Fanatics... is most certainly two discs of colossal, earth-shaking metal, but owes just as much to space rock and the 60s as it does to Black Sabbath. Great, great album.

Forgot to mention that this is the reissue from 2006, which packaged Come My Fanatics... with the band's self-titled first release.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme

this is a pretty safe Coltrane pick... i've been listening to alot of his later stuff lately which is completely insane and is probably not a good intro into his work.

Trane has a lot of views on a person's soul, music and the vibrations of the universe that i subscribe to.

He sound is the sound of the chaos of the Universe.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

µ-Ziq - Lunatic Harness

ever had an album that you keep losing? But you need your fix from it's melodies that you keep buying it over and over?

I swear i've lost Lunatic Harness 4 times and now need to purchase # 5.
But it's so easy to get lost in Mike Paradinas' melodies.
If you are an Aphex fan you will heart this.


LUSH - Gala

"Meshing dreamy, feedback-drenched guitars with airy, catchy melodies, Lush were one of the most prominent shoegazing bands of the early '90s. Led by guitarists Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, the British band earned a cult following within the British and American undergrounds with its first EPs, yet the group never quite attained the critical respect given to its peers My Bloody Valentine and Ride."

My very 1st festival i ever went to was Lollapalooza #2.. it was on Harriet Island in St.Paul. St.Paul the city was a high bluff so you had to descend down a large bridge into the river valley to get to the concert grounds. LUSH was playing as i arrived and their cascading melodies filled and echoed through the valley. It was such an exciting time for me and a memory that is ingrained. It was like being blessed with a new sensory perception.


The Church - Forget Yourself

One of my favorite bands. Hailing from Bondi, Australia.
Psychadelic & euphonious; this is their best album of this decade.
Make sure to catch them on their US tour that starts this week.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Chris Whitley - Reiter In

Experimental steel guitar blues.
Recorded this album as he was dying from cancer. Some of spookiest songs i have ever heard considering the circumstance.
His albums vary greatly from one to the other. I hope you check some more of his stuff out.


Friday, June 5, 2009

The Dead Milkmen - Big Lizard In My Backyard

when i was in junior high i started a band with a friend. I listened to The Cure & Pixies. He listened to KISS and 80s hair metal. The one band we loved together were The Dead Milkmen.
Our sound took many cues from them. You can hear the influence in our big hits "egg nog" and " shit...dog shit".
I think people try to easily dismiss the Dead Milkmen, but guitarist Jack Talcum & bassist Dave Blood crafted beautiful melodies.
If you aren't lovin this album halfway thru track 2 "Beach Song" then i hate your stupid face, stupidface.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Best of Cui Jian: 1986-1996

Best of Cui Jian: 1986-1996

Cui Jian is the king of rock in China. His songs are either about heartbreak or politics. Saying “politics” gives off the impression that there is some discussion of policy involved, but since there is only one political party in China you either agree with them or you are punished. So really his songs are either about heartbreak or oppression. He participated in the Tiananmen protests and afterwards would wear a red cloth over his eyes as protest. In most cases the government would have just jailed or killed a dissident like him but he was too high profile. So he spent a good 15 years being prevented from playing. When they did allow him to play he was censored (he wasn’t allowed to play his politically charged songs or wear the red bandana over his eyes). I was able to attend a stadium concert of his in the factory town of Shijiazhuang. There was a heavy police presence and they didn’t allow people on the field, only in the stands on the sides. As the show went on there were protests and large fires started. The way the Chinese people identify their struggles with his music has no equal in the Western world.

His most famous song is 1)I Have Nothing, a heartbreak song. His most famous political song is 12) Piece of Red Cloth, about the Tiananmen Square massacres. My favorite track is 11) Tolerate. It is about loving someone who will never love you back. It is an emotion we can all identify with and makes this song one of most beautiful songs I have ever heard.

So if you are an artist what I hope you learn from Cui Jian is that he was a man who sacrificed his career in order to say things others were being suppressed from saying. His art was real struggle. And what power art has.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Roky Erickson - You're Gonna Miss Me (Original Soundtrack)

Roky Erickson is credited by some with founding the first psychedelic rock band ever, the 13th Floor Elevators, and is said to have been a big influence on Janis Joplin's singing style. Roky's story is a pretty sad one though -- a frail psyche and drug issues led to his being committed to an isolated state psychiatric hospital in rural East Texas, where he underwent electroshock 'therapy' in questionable circumstances. The story is told in the documentary film You're Gonna Miss Me, of which this album is the soundtrack, sort of a 'greatest hits' from Roky's career. Seeing him at the polo grounds in 2007 remains one of my Coachella highlights.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Billy Bragg - Talking With the Taxman About Poetry

Billy Bragg was an English folkie, but claims that when he heard The Clash, he put away his acoustic guitar for an electric one. His songs fall into three categories: (1) lefty railings praising the workers and condemning the capitalists; (2) proclamations that he loves women and will never be tied down to just one; and (3) anything else that might catch his eye that he wants to share his opinion with us on. People either love Bragg or hate him. Talking With the Taxman About Poetry is his third album, from 1986, and in my opinion his best.

PS. Smiths fans: Johnny Marr plays on this album.


Monday, June 1, 2009

The Waco Brothers - Cowboy In Flames

You're a legendary UK punk rock icon with several classic (if unknown to the mainstream) albums behind you. You fall in love with an American woman, marry her, and move with her to her hometown of Chicago. Separated from your band mates, what do you do?

You start a country band. Of course.

The Waco Brothers started as Mekons co-founder Jon Langford's side project, but soon grew into a second full-time band. The goal was to be "the hardest country band in the world". Essentially picking up where the Mekons left off with their alt-country albums (Fear and Whisky etc.), the Wacos make rollicking, policitally-charged country punk. Cowboy In Flames, their second album, is probably their best (along with the followup, Do You Think About Me?)