Another week and another list that seems to make no sense to me. Looking at the selection of albums I've picked to review this week, there is seemingly no connection. In fact, I would venture to guess that I'm the only person in the world with all of these specific albums in their collection. Not that there aren't lots of people with equally, if not more diverse taste than me, but for some reason this list feels really random to me. That's okay though. I like random. Random is good. Random is your friend. Enjoy.
Scratch Acid - Scratch Acid: This is the 1984 debut EP from the Texas band that would become extremely influential to the late '80s Seattle sound. Featuring David Yow (later of Jesus Lizard) on vocals, this band pioneered the unhinged heavy punk sound that would lead to Tad, The Melvins, and Nirvana. The songs are more conventional and straight-forward than Jesus Lizard yet equally as manic. Yow has a way of tapping into some energetic dark waters and swimming around in them is certainly an experience that I enjoy. A side note: this is the 4000th album cataloged in my collection...it never should have taken me that long to get to it.
Stonehouse - Stonehouse Creek: This 1971 album is the only release this hard rock UK outfit ever put out. It's the kind of album that falls into the transition period from blues/country rock into the harder rock of bands like Thin Lizzy. For some, this could be considered one of those lost gems, but that's always been a label I'm weary of. Often I find 'lost gems' to have been lost for a reason. Many of those albums, though interesting, are very flawed and become forgotten for that reason. I feel this album falls into that category. There are some decent tunes on here, "Nightmare" and "Cheater" being the best, which are also the heaviest songs. Much of the rest of the record sounds like a Creedence Clearwater Revial imitation.
The Thermals - Now We Can See: Released in 2009, this is the Portland band's fourth album. It's the same brand of power indie rock that they have been known for since their debut, but there seems to be a greater sense of structure on this album. The punk attitude and spirit is still there, as well as the intelligent observations, but they are placed within a tighter context, making this a slightly stronger album in my opinion. For the first time, they are beginning to remind me of Built to Spill in that regard. A solid album.
The Future Primitives - This Here's The Future Primitives: As I type this, I just literally finished listening to this brief 8 song debut from the Cape Town, South Africa band. It's an explosive psychedelic garage rock album. From the first song to the last, it keeps an intense pace. It reminds me of early Black Lips or Harlem. Good stuff. You can find it for free on their bandcamp page here. (Special thanks to the dANIMAL for the heads-up on this one.)
Olivia Tremor Control - Black Foliage [Deluxe Edition]: Originally released in 1999, this masterpiece has remained a favorite of mine every since. Part of the Elephant 6 collective, OTC is one of the most ambitious bands of the group, combining experimental soundscapes with beautiful pop harmonies. Last year, this landmark album was given a deluxe reissue on vinyl with an entire album of extras. Most of the extras consist mainly of instrumental noise compositions which fit nicely with the original release. Some live versions of the album's stand-out tracks are also a much welcomed addition. The album is a definite essential. The deluxe edition though is probably only for real fans.
Jean Grae - Jean Grae's Home for Gifted Dragons: This mix tape is a collection of different hip-hop artists from the Philly area which, for some reason, also features a few of Jean Grae verses. Some of her verses are also on Jean's 2011 mixtape Cookies or Comas. Like most compilations of this type, it's pretty uneven, but there is much raw hip-hop here to appreciate. Philly has always been an underrated hip-hop city, which is a shame. It's general style is similar to the Brooklyn down and dirty, hard hitting style. Available on DatPiff.com, this real hip-hop worth listening to.