Music for me is often about mood...the mood the record captures and also the mood it puts me in. I guess that's why my tastes vary so often depending on what I happen to be working on or what stage of a project mired in. While writing, I usually prefer more soundscape material and folk. This week, I was solely editing and concepting and during that period, I prefer a more solid backbeat. So I present to you the most rocking roundup in some weeks:
The Beatles: Shea, The Good Old Days: This vinyl bootleg was lent to me by a friend after we discussed vinyl and bootlegs over beers a few weeks ago. Being the nerd I am, as I listened, I did some research on this and discovered it was actually a first run of a 1970 bootleg that was mislabeled and is actually the Hollywood Bowl 1964 performance. I get all geeked out by these kinds of things. The album has a great sound, great set list of classic Fab Four. I think the performance is available on official release these days, but wanted to share my nerdom.
Dexter Jones Orchestra Circus: If Light Can't Saves Us, I Know Darkness Will: The Stockholm band's follow-up to 2007's fantastic Side By Side is a great example of Scandinavian indie rock. There something about the dark rhythms that come out of that part of the world that really appeal to me. There's a hint of Black Sabbath in the guitars but with a more uptempo beat that works well. For fans of Black Mountain or Dead Meadow.
Raekwon - Coke Up in Da Dollar Bill: A mixtape released on New Year's Day, this selection hearkens back to the raw days of the Wu. In many ways, it's better than Rae's official release last year, and heaps better than the other mixtape he put out last year. It benefits from clocking in under a half-hour. All killer - no filler.
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Solar Gambling: The latest in an endless stream of solo releases from the guitarist of Mars Volta, this is one of the strongest. His solo albums, while treading the same ground as the Volta, infuse more progressive experimental elements. Using a female singer and singing in Spanish gives this one a little separation but still remains a close cousin of Mars Volta. I hope Omar continues the incredible output of the last decade into this one. He's easily one of the most important musicians of our time.
Hot Chip - One Life Stand: Wow...this is the biggest disappointment of the year for me so far. After the über catchy title track, I had hopes this album would rebound from their rather weak last album Made in the Dark. If anything, it cements a downward trend from a band who's first two albums were sensational. By my count there are only three really listenable songs on this collection of dull electro-disco, nu wave balladry. Get the title track single and avoid this. Pick up either their debut Coming on Strong or the stand-out second album The Warning instead.
Portugal. The Man - American Ghetto: This new album does nothing to slow the band's fast ascent up my all-time favorite bands list. Though not quite the revelation last year's Majestic Majesty/ Satanic Satanist, this album doesn't fall too short. Perfect psychedelic indie rock-pop. Good job guys. Well done. Keep 'em coming.
Barry Goldberg - Barry Goldberg: This is one of those easy-blues-folky albums that could only exist in the early-to-mid-70's. To my ears, it's sort of a cross-between Slow Train 'Coming era Dylan and Harry Nilson, with maybe a bit of George Harrison thrown in, but made for a warm summer night at the bar swigging pints. Good stuff. Given to me by the dANIMAL.
The Animals - The Complete French EP Collection: There was compilation CD put out several years ago called the EP Collection (which I own) but it doesn't contain all of the bands ep's or all the b-sides. This box contains all of them, packaged as 10 cd replicas. I went searching for it after seeing footage of the band playing their cover of Donovan's "Hey Gyp" - my absolute favorite Donovan song of all time. Listening to these EPs, they reminded me of what I've always known, that the Animals are vastly under appreciated. They belong in the conversation of great '60s British Invasion bands with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Kinks.
Odetta - At the Gates of Horn: Odetta, a southern gospel folk singer of the '50s has this amazingly deep voice that seems to come from the other side. Like listening to a ghost, her records are transporting. There is an overwhelming sense of sadness in her voice that reaches inside and demands complete attention.
The Crash - The Crash: I've had this for about a year, and liked it upon hearing it but it got lost in the shuffle. I listened to it again this week and decided to give it a mention. Not ground-breaking in the least, but still this 2001 is a good piece of BritPop's last hurrah. In the tradition of Suede, many of the songs could easily be Dog Man Star era B-sides. Solid effort.