Welcome to the first roundup of the year. This time of year, there's always a wealth to choose from because of the flood of music given to me as gifts by those who know that music, books and toys are all I ever really want as gifts. I'm thankful that I have enough material for the roundup to last at least a month without needing anything new...though let's be serious, I'll be getting new stuff too because I'm an sound junky. Here's what I've been jamming to of late:
Dizzee Rascal - Boy in Da Corner: I'd been very curious about this when it came out in 2003, being that I'm a definite Anglophile when it comes to music tastes. For whatever reason, I didn't check it out until now and I love it. It has the kind of sound that I always wanted from the trip-hop genre but never got...by that, I mean, it's hip-hop with trip-hop beats and grime rhymes.
Oasis - Acoustic Soul: A great bootleg of Dig Out You Soul era acoustic tracks, some unreleased tracks that are fantastic and Lily Allen's cover of "Outta Time" which is brilliant. Since I seem to be the only one that still likes this band, I'm going to continue posting about their releases in order to keep the dream alive. (Sidenote: I gave a street musician in Switzerland 2fr simply because he was playing "Don't Look Back in Anger" as we approached...he was keeping the dream alive as well. Keep on keepin' on!)
Moonface - Dreamland EP: A 20+ minute track from Spencer Krug (Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade, Swan Lake) released under the name Moonface. This is one of those near perfect one song EPs. It's much more toned down compared some of the later Krug releases, which was a welcome return to early Sunset Rubdown or Wolf Parade sound for me. Great stuff.
Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM: Charlotte's amazing lullaby voice singing what is essentially an album written by Beck. I'm not a Beck fan in the least. There's only one of his albums I truly love (Mutations) and it's the one Beck fans despise. Thankfully, this gem sounds like Mutations. There's something about this album that feels very expansive...it never bores.
Grateful Dead - Live Dead: I've never particularly cared for the Dead. I've always sort of thought of them as lazy musicians. However, I realized that lately I'd been getting really into all their contemporaries again, coupled with the fact that I've been trying to reconsider bands I wrote off in my teens and twenties, I gave this one a shot. I was assured that this was different from "all of their rambling hippy crap." I'm not so sure about that...it's rambling hippy crap, but it sure sounded pretty pleasing to my ears.
Old Crow Medicine Show - s/t: This one was given to me by my lil' sister after I'd passed along twenty albums or so to steer her audio education. After listening to a bunch of them, she thought I'd like this...she was right. This a fantastic album of bluegrass (or newgrass). Very much of the roots revival scene that I've been so into over the past several years and a very fine example of it.
Madvillain - Madvillainy: More hip-hop from 2003? Why not? Also given to me (though not by the aforementioned sister but a friend across the pond), this is another album I've been meaning to hear for years and just never got around to it. This is an MF Doom project, which means it's still abstract hip-hop even under a different name. Just a really solid album with tight rhymes and tight beats.
Birthcontrol - Live: One of the best Christmas presents I got was being allowed to raid my in-laws unearthed vinyl collection. I ended up carrying nearly 20lbs of vinyl onto the plane, but it's all worth it as I work my way through. This album certainly represented one of most intriguing covers in the stack (not to mention the name). It was a definite keeper. This is hard rock prog album from a Berlin band circa 1974 and it pretty much rocks. Reminded me a lot of same era Groundhogs (though, admittedly without the greatness that is T.S. McPhee)
John Fahey - Fare Forward Voyagers (Soldier's Choice): John Fahey has a gazillion albums of american primitivism folk, but this 1973 album is the first one I decided to dive into. Three songs, all over ten minutes, all acoustic instrumental folk...yet surprisingly still exciting. He just blazes through, at a fast clip for this kind of music. The picking and strumming is sensational. Not an everyday record, but when in the mood, probably hard to beat.
Sparks - Kimono My House: Part of the great vinyl treasure chest, this '74 album started off a bit weird but quickly turned more than a bit awesome. It's reminds me a lot of the early glam sound of the Alice Cooper albums I've been digging of late, but with an L.A. weirdness to it. Very good stuff.