brilliant

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 23:56:29 GMT

While I was trying to find a decent link for A Sunny Day In Glasgow, I spied on their MySpace page the news that they put out a new EP, TOUT NEW AGE, sometime last summer, and that it was mostly available online, at a bunch of places.

iTunes is getting much better about making indie artists’ music available DRM-free, and AAC is technically a higher-quality codec, but the vast majority of my music is encoded with LAME, and I’ve come to trust LAME-encoded MP3s more than any other lossy format. Insound wants $10.49 for a downloaded EP. Ha. eMusic does have a download store, I think, but they really want you to subscribe to their service, and their interface confuses me. Other Music Digital it is! $5.99 and no hassle!

Other Music is a boutique record store in New York. I’ve always thought of them as being an east coast counterpart to my beloved Aquarius Records, but they’re clearly trying to differentiate themselves through their eminently competent digital download store. They even have their own download manager, a cute and unobtrusive application (for both Windows and OS X) that takes a lot of the sting out of downloading multiple purchased tracks from a web site (Beatport, by contrast, has an elaborate Flash interface that cossets and constrains you right up to the point where you need to download your purchases, where it forces you to download every track one at a time, and since it’s in Flash you can’t even use an in-browser download accelerator like FlashGot).

Total time from discovering TOUT NEW AGE’s existence to having it on my computer: 20 minutes. Nice.

simple pleasures

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 23:25:21 GMT

Choosing to end his Raag Manifestos with a simple old hymn (“Blessed Be the Name of the Lord”) was a good move for Jack Rose. He can produce a storm of sound with two hands and a steel-string guitar, but the uncomplicated rhythms and old-time, major-key vibe of “Blessed Be” sends a sometimes chaotic album out on a sunlit high note. One reason among many why Jack Rose is my favorite of the Fahey-esque folk guitar wizards rambling the backwoods byways of today’s America.

live from the echo factory

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 21:37:44 GMT

Not too many people seem to know about A Sunny Day in Glasgow (who have an extremely whimsical attitude towards naming – they’re not from Scotland, where it is often the furthest thing from sunny, and keep an eye out for their bizarre song titles), and that’s too bad. They have a blown-out, echo-drenched sound that combines the the clattering percussion and up-front mixing of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound with the electronic sparkliness of the Magnetic Fields (really early Magnetic Fields, back when Stephin Merritt had the knife-making Arizona woman with the pretty voice singing for him). There’s some of the experimentation of early His Name Is Alive in evidence, too, but HNIA were never quite so resolutely poppy, nor as clearly indebted to Phil Spector’s phalanx of 60s girl groups. On “A Mundane Phonecall to Jack Parsons” and “One Change Into Rain is No Change at All (Talkin’ ‘Bout Us)”, in particular, all the pieces snap into focus, and the results are lethally catchy experimental pop.

On the first few listens, they might seem like some kind of nu-shoegazer unit, but really they’re not. If they’re like any other band, it’s long-gone and lamented weirdoes All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors, who had a similar no-holds-barred approach to making noisy post-everything music.

2008/01/12

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 20:19:09 GMT

Stuck in my head this morning: China Shop’s “Kowtow”, only this time with all kinds of gratuitous funky horn accents. Strange things happen to songs while I’m sleeping.

The Telefones, "Bowling"

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 11:12:17 GMT

Ladies and gentlemen, The Telefones (from Hyped 2 Death #3):

Don’t come around knocking at my door,
I don’t love you any more,
you won’t go bowling!

And don’t you call me on the telephone,
you know I won’t be home,
I probably will be bowling.

bowling, I like bowling (4x)

You ain’t nothing but an alley cat,
and worse than that:
you won’t go bowling!

You ain’t nothing but a gutter ball,
I think that says it all,
why won’t you go bowling?

bowling, I like bowling (4x)

(guitar solo)

YES!

(saxophone solo)

You ain’t nothing but an alley cat,
and worse than that:
you won’t go bowling!

You ain’t nothing but a gutter ball,
I think that says it all,
why won’t you go bowling?

bowling, I like bowling (4x)

YES!

(guitar solo)
(dual saxophone solo)

while I'm at it

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 10:57:00 GMT

Talking about my visit to Aquarius reminded me that I’ve already had one shopping trip so far this year. There’s only one store in San Francisco / North America that can really compete for my affections with Aquarius, and that would be Amoeba. I don’t really see them as competing; Aquarius is run by my friends and is a boutique with a high density of specialty items and Amoeba has a huge variety and much better coverage of electronic dance music (such as it is these days). Neither of them has any trouble separating me from large piles of my money.

Anyway, here’s what I picked up at Amoeba last week:

  • Akimbo: Harshing Your Mellow (Alternative Tentacles)
  • Akimbo: Navigating the Bronze (Alternative Tentacles)
  • Cabaret Voltaire: Eight Crepuscule Tracks (Giant)
  • Cabaret Voltaire: The Living Legends (Restless / Mute)
  • Darkthrone: FOAD (Peaceville)
  • Nick Drake: Bryter Later (Island)
  • Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left (Island)
  • Nick Drake: Time of No Return (Hannibal)
  • Echospace: The Coldest Season (Modern Love / Baked Goods)
  • Fairport Convention: Liege & Lief (Island)
  • Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking (Island)
  • Fotheringay: Fotheringay (Fledg’ling)
  • Gravenhurst: The Western Lands (Warp)
  • PJ Harvey: White Chalk (Island)
  • Daniel “belteShazzar” Higgs: Metempsychotic Melodies (Holy Mountain)
  • LCD Soundsystem: 45:33 (DFA)
  • Gram Parsons with The Flying Burrito Brothers: Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969 (Amoeba)
  • Pylon: Gyrate PLUS (DFA)
  • Seefeel: CH-Vox (RePHLeX)
  • Six Organs of Admittance: Shelter from the Ash (Drag City)
  • Wiley: Eskiboy – The Best of Tunnel Vision (selected by Logan Sama) (Eskibeat)
  • Wire: Read & Burn 03 (Pink Flag)
  • v/a: Fabric 36 (mixed by Ricardo Villalobos) (Fabric)

I’d say it’d been a while since I’d been shopping, but this happens pretty much every time I go to Amoeba.

now the year can begin

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 09:04:00 GMT

After reading this inspirational article, I decided to do my part for the music industry and pay a visit to my friends at Aquarius. Some of this stuff had been on hold for me for months now, so it was past time.

I spent a while distracting Andee and Allan while they feverishly tried to finish the newest edition of the infamous and sprawling Aquarius New Releases list. And “feverish” is right – there’s a certain amount of urgency to the proceedings, but they’re also not too tough to distract, the sustained effort of putting together the behemoth list having broken them down until they have the attention span of disease-enfeebled gerbils.

Here’s what I got:

  • A Sunny Day In Glasgow: Scribble Mural Comic Journal (notenuf)
  • August Born: August Born (Drag City)
  • Buried At Sea: Ghost (Neurot)
  • Dead Meadow: Howls from the Hills (Xemu)
  • Malicious Secrets / Antaeus / Mutilation / Deathspell Omega: From the Entrails to the Dirt (End All Life)
  • The Necks: Townsville (ReR)
  • Paolo Parisi / John Duncan: Conservatory (San Sebastiano) CD + book (Mascietto Editore)
  • Jack Rose: Raag Manifestos (vhf)
  • Torche: In Return CD + 10” (Robotic Empire)
  • Wolves in the Throne Room: Two Hunters (Southern Lord)
  • Xasthur: Defective Epitaph [2CD Daymare edition] (Hydra Head / Daymare)

The Torche is packaged in a seriously beautiful gatefold sleeve with the vinyl in one sleeve and the CD fixed inside the gatefold, with art by John Dyer Baizley (by way of Pushead and Alphonse Mucha):

In Return outside cover art

In Return inside cover art
(Many thanks to Cosmo Lee for his excellent article on John Dyer Baizley’s illustration, which alerted me to the existence of this record. I shamelessly stole his high-quality scans, which are of course © John Dyer Baizley, used only for purposes of promotion and review.)

My record is marbled pale green vinyl; if anybody else with this stops by, let me know what color yours is.

SPECIAL, POSSIBLY RECURRING, FEATURE!

tUMULt Corner:

While I was at the store, keeping Andee from finishing his reviews, he was kind enough to bring me up to date with the goings-on at his label, the mighty tUMULt, source of many things kvlt and trve. He’s been extraordinarily generous to me over the years, so the least I can do is pimp tUMULt’s new releases a little here:

Nordvargr / Drakh cover art
Nordvargr / Drakh: The Betrayal of Light: Blackened ambient (that means “lots of spooky noises and ominous drones” in normal English) from two of the members of harsh industrial artist Maschinenzimmer 412 / MZ412.

Crebain cover art
Crebain: Night of the Stormcrow: reissue of one man NWOSFBM band’s first demo. It’s aggressive and very weird, like most black metal out of San Francisco’s cultish underground scene.

Read & Burn 03

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 07:00:24 GMT

A couple months or so, British post punk old-timers Wire put out Read & Burn 03 on Pink Flag, their own label. Since the last Read & Burn came out a few years ago, it’s sort of strange that they’d continue the old series. It’s especially weird as the record sounds less like the material on those EPs and the album (Send) that drew from them, and more like their late-80s material. I think their 80s output is a brilliant fusion of Dadaistic wordplay with strangely conventional, polished art rock, but a lot of people hated it. Since this carries over the tightness of their new material, it might be appealing to people who thought A Bell is a Cup Until It is Struck and the other albums of that period were a little too slick and diffuse.

Superbowl XLII 2

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 06:48:06 GMT

From The Slog, the blog of The Stranger, “Seattle’s only newspaper”:

[Stranger staffer] Eric Grandy thinks Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up will make it all the way to the Super Bowl, compeletely disregarding the fact that Canadians know absolutely nothing about football.

I hope that never happens, because then I’d have to pay for Superbowl tickets. I’d put $50 on Fucked Up, no problem.

another fine year for the music business

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 03:21:21 GMT

From an article in the current Economist:

By mid-2007, when the majors realised that digital downloads were not growing as quickly as they had hoped, they landed on a more adventurous digital strategy. They now want to move beyond Apple’s iTunes and its paid-for downloads. The direction of most of their recent digital deals, such as with Imeem, a social network that offers advertising-supported streamed music, is to offer music free at the point of delivery to consumers. Perhaps the most important experiment of all is a deal Universal struck in December with Nokia, the biggest mobile-phone maker, to supply its music for new handsets that will go on sale later this year. These “Comes With Music” phones will allow customers to download all the music they want to their phones and PCs and keep it—even if they change handsets when their year’s subscription ends. Instead of charging consumers directly, Universal will take a cut of the price of each phone. The other majors are expected to strike similar deals.

“‘Comes with Music’ is a recognition that music has to be given away for free, or close to free, on the internet,” says Mr Mulligan. Paid-for download services will continue and ad-supported music will become more widespread, but subsidised services where people do not pay directly for music will become by far the most popular, he says. For the recorded-music industry this is a leap into the unknown. Universal and its fellow majors may never earn anything like as much from partnership with device-makers as they did from physical formats. Some among their number, indeed, may not survive.

The whole thing’s worth reading, and not very cheering.

there she goes now 1

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 01:03:25 GMT

If you’re a fan of Joy Division or Devo or ever liked a song by ABC or Human League, you really ought to read Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up and Start Again. As this blog pretty well reflects, I am a die-hard music snob who’s devoted the majority of his life to stashing useless bits of music trivia into every semi-empty corner of my brain, and I still found it useful as a way of (re-)framing a lot of the music I love. Reading it has considerably enriched my music collection, even if my bank account has shrunk correspondingly.

One of the ways I found it most valuable was the way that it inclusively pulled a lot of my favorite old industrial[1] groups into the context of British post punk. I’ve always liked Cabaret Voltaire, but once Reynolds pointed out that they essentially started as a garage band with some weird electronics (which they are: they cover the Velvet Underground and “Theme from Shaft”), it put them in a whole new, more interesting light. Instead of focusing on their aggression and coldness, now I listen for the weird skeletal rock, funk and dub / reggae that informs a lot of their early material, and that brings out the fact that, at root, they’re as much like early Bauhaus (“Silent Command” almost is a Bauhaus song) or Television as they are like Throbbing Gristle. It adds a whole new dimension to their music. Thanks, Simon.

1: One of these days I will probably be unable to resist blathering on endlessly about the many, many ways in which this term has been abused, but today is not that day.

sweet old Uncle Mike 2

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 12 Jan 2008 00:43:30 GMT

There is something ineffably sweet about Michael Gira (the most important of the Swans) writing goofball songs for the children of his friends. He used to live in probably the deepest, blackest hole in music, and now he singing about doing the monster dance and making silly rhymes about little girls keeping their rooms clean. I will yield to noöne when it comes to love for the Swans, but I like the new Michael better.

red water

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 22:49:29 GMT

When I first got it, I was a little disappointed by the Young GodsL’Eau Rouge. All I’d heard from the album was “Longue Route”, and I was hoping the album would have more of its sample-driven heavy metal. What I got instead was a dense patchwork of samples (symphonic, heavy metal, jazz), odd time signatures, hoarse French vocals, and carnival atmosphere that was at odds with the band being signed to WaxTrax! / Play It Again Sam.

It wasn’t until a year or two later when they released their album of Kurt Weill covers that I think things snapped into focus: the Young Gods are a postmodern cabaret act. I mean the oldest, most literal meaning of “postmodern”: bricolage as a technique to highlight the fissures between the various genres being collided together. L’Eau Rouge is a heady album, driven as much by conceit as gut-level appeal, but it’s one that was assembled with great care by musicians with very careful ears. It’s grown with me over the years, and where the more overtly “heavy metal” tracks were the ones that used to be my favorites, now it’s the contemplative tracks that I most eagerly anticipate hearing again.

“Longue Route” still sounds fantastic, though: the guitar samples are heavy as anything, the swirling mix and hard panning elicit shivers, and the impassioned vocals are perfect for the music.

what the fuck, Frenchbloke?

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 22:00:23 GMT

It’s nearly impossible to describe the state of mind engendered by listening to Frenchbloke’s recentish DJ set (I don’t know its provenance, but it came to me entitled And a Big Fuck You Too, which is par for the course with Frenchbloke). Frenchbloke, in case you don’t know, is one of the most prolific and talented of the original wave of mashup / bastard pop internerds who came to prominence in the early ’00s. My favorite of his mashups is “Bad Spicy Horny”, which combines bits of songs by the Bloodhound Gang, Bolz Bolz, some random R&B singer, and the Spice Girls. It shouldn’t work at all but something about the way he flows it all together produces something far more interesting than the individual pieces.

He seems to have developed into a DJ that aims for “diverse” and ends up somewhere west of “completely bonkers”, but he’s maintained that ability to sew together pieces that shouldn’t fit: Spahn Ranch (no, not that one, the one that came before it with the dude from Numb) into The Passions’ “I Fell in Love With a German Film Star” (both incredibly obscure bands remembered only by die-hard goth and New Wave fans), languid vocodered disco into Test Department at their most confrontational into Afrika Bambaataa & John Lydon into a cheesy grebo cover of The Undertones“Teenage Kicks”, Brian Eno’s “The Quiet Men” into Heaven 17’s “Fascist Groove Thang”, spoken-word rants against jukeboxes mixing into “No Can Do” – somehow he welds all this cultural flotsam into a mix that exudes jaded sophistication and wit. I think this kind of cleverness is what a lot of college radio DJs aim for, but almost none of them make it, because they concentrate too hard on the eclecticism and not enough on the flow. If anyone’s interested, I can make it available, because I doubt Frenchbloke cares if I mirror it.

2008/01/11

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 17:52:41 GMT

Stuck in my head this morning: “Throwing Back the Apple” by Pale Saints mashed up with “Hand in Glove” by The Smiths. Both are the lead tracks from their respective albums (In Ribbons and Singles, respectively). Both are excellent ways to start albums, with catchy guitars and bouncy rhythms. They don’t really combine all that well, though.

it's my destiny

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 10:00:04 GMT

So I was listening to The Smiths and reading allmusic.com, as I do, so I could maybe put together a few of the pieces of how the combination of John Mahar and Stephen Morrissey got to be just so potent. allmusic.com mentioned the controversy surrounding The Smiths' "Reel Around the Fountain", and I was all, "is that the same song as 'Virginia Reel Around the Fountain'?", which sent me rooting through my collection (man, is it nice having all my CDs ripped) so I could remember that no, "Virginia Reel Around the Fountain" is a Halo Benders song that Doug Martsch included on the Built to Spill live album.

But then I was trying to remember what the other covers were on that album, so I had to pull it up. I had this vague memory that they'd covered a song by The Rock*A*Teens, which they hadn't (there's just a really boring-ass cover of a Lee Perry song and a largely gratuitous version of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" with some fabulously wanky guitar soloing), but after all that I just had to hear The Rock*A*Teens' "Hwy R" – from the Matador 15-year retrospective, Old Enough To Know Better – three or four times. It's a thunderous, fuzz-drenched 6/8 epic with lyrics that remind me of nothing so much as Sparklehorse in a particularly generous frame of mind, with maybe a tinge of Archers of Loaf (oddly enough, all these bands are from southeastern states). I could listen to it all day.

That reminded me that I'd been meaning to check out other stuff by The Rock*A*Teens, so I headed over to Rhapsody, and lo and behold, we have a whole bunch of Rock*A*Teens. I found the album that "Hwy R" was taken from, and I clicked on "Hwy R" to see if it was the same version. It was a totally different song. Weird. This stuff happens on Rhapsody a lot, though. There's a lot that can go wrong between a song is recorded and when it's ready to be heard on Rhapsody.

Some futzing around with the other tracks on the album revealed that the song I've loved for the last 3 years was actually called "It's Destiny", which is a more fitting title for it anyway, and that somebody at Matador got confused when they were putting together the compilation [nuh-uh, see below]. And just in case you were wondering: man, the Rock*A*Teens sure are talented at that style of echoing, layered avant garage. Awesome! Must hear more!

I end up going on one of these insane tangents two or three times a week. Get used to it.

UPDATE: Further research on allmusic.com indicates that the song is, in fact, "Hwy R"! I always forget they have song samples on their album pages. Great. Now I have to remember how to get someone to fix the album on Rhapsody.

you can't say things like that

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 06:57:36 GMT

What’s wrong with you, she said,
are you crazy?
You can’t say things like that,
you can’t say things like that.

You’re back to making waves.
Her messages are plain.
I wanna be her slave.
There’s a fire in my brain.

What’s wrong with you, she said,
are you crazy, or something?
You can’t say things like that,
you can’t say things like that.

“Kowtow” by China Shop (from Hyped 2 Death’s Homework #10: American DiY 1978-1989 A-C) is yet another beautiful piece of post punk psychedelia, with its woozy backmasked guitars, stylized vocals, drum machine rhythms, and mournful Let’s Active atmosphere (if you ever liked REM and you’ve never heard of Mitch Easter’s band, you should do something about that). The combined effect is a startling mixture of jangle pop and electronic psychedelia, and the oddly affecting (and affected) singing seals the deal. I need more of this stuff.

swinging in and out of grace

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 04:31:00 GMT

People seem surprised when they hear Mudhoney are still around. They are. Mark Arm’s still a funny asshole. They’re still loud and loose. They still hate The Man. And the Bushes. And you, probably.

They got a horn section, though. That’s new.

twist and shout

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 03:16:00 GMT

Likewise, Guy Picciotto has had a long and varied career with the DC hardcore scene and is also well-represented on Twenty Years of Dischord Records. There are tracks from Rites of Spring, One Last Wish and Happy Go Licky (and, of course, Fugazi, the reason anyone under the age of 25 knows who Guy Picciotto is). Happy Go Licky were interesting. They put out one single, and De Soto Records released a compilation of live and demo material long after they broke up. There’s lots of pointless experimental wankery with the 4-track, but there’s also “Twist and Shout”, which is spooky, tense and restrained. It’s more like a lost Factory b-side than anything from the DC punk scene. I could listen to it all night.

Of course, Twenty Years also features “Blueprint”, which is still probably my favorite Fugazi song, along with being one of the three or four I can play when I feel like screwing around with one of my guitars.

Man, this compilation is just packed full of goodies. And I haven’t even gotten to Slant 6 or Autoclave yet.

the inner life of Ian Mackaye

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 02:57:23 GMT

I’m listening to Twenty Years of Dischord Records, and since it’s, like, the DiY label Ian Mackaye started to release his own music, there’s a lot of his stuff all over it. Dude was in a lot of bands (Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Skewbald, Egg Hunt, Embrace, Fugazi, etc.), and his evolution was pretty linear, but there’s stuff like The Snakes’ “Snake Rap” popping out of the mix with a very high WTF?! factor. Hearing Mackaye and his friends rapping about snakes is, of course, extremely silly. The backing track is still some pretty convincing funk, though.