Ironically in the week that I've listened to more new music than I have in the prior month, I'm dedicating this roundup to another batch of records that I lugged home from the West Coast this past spring. A big reason why is because I may have listened to too much new music this week. Most things only got one listen, and I don't typically like to review an album after only one listen. I always hear something different the second time. Also, it was time for another flip through the stacks to share more of the good finds I gathered on my hunting trip. Enjoy.
Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs: Released in January 1970, shortly after Syd's departure from The Pink Floyd, this is easily one of the best albums ever recorded. I bought this on CD when I was 17 years old and it became a huge influence in regards to my writing style. At Amoeba Records in San Francisco, I picked up the 180g gatefold reissue. Listening to it the other day, it was just as amazing as it was more than half my life ago. The songs are beautifully strange children's tales told by a man who has come a bit unhinged...and they're brilliant. Thanks Syd.
Odawas - The Aether Eater: I found the Berkley freak folk band's 2005 debut in San Fran, but even more amazing is that this is a homemade version made by the band before the album was later released on Jagjaguwar Records. The sleeve has come unglued, and the genius thing is that this was some other album sleeve that they turned inside out and painted over (this album). They play a unique blend of psychedelic folk music that reminds me of the late '60s era Pink Floyd but with the country calmness of early '70s Neil Young. The songs are expansive, swollen with story and depth, much like the post-Syd version of Floyd.
Blind Faith - Blind Faith: The world's first 'supergroup', they released this only album in 1969. Featuring Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from Cream and Steve Winwood from Traffic, along with Rick Grech (later founder member of Family) this was supposed to be a monster record. But as with seemingly all supergroups, it was received as a disappointment. Having come to the album in the mid '90s, I was free of having lived through any expectations. The result was instant love from the opening of "Had to Cry Today." This is one of the key albums in the British Blues progression into harder blues rock. A truly great album and I was happy to find it with the original controversial cover.
The Residents - Intermission: One of the most prolific bands in history, The Residents were on the forefront of experimental rock in the late '70s and early '80s. I'm a big fan of some of their earlier albums like Not Available so when I came across this 1982 EP in Olympia in perfect shape, it seemed worth buying since it's rare to see any of their early work floating around. This is pretty fantastic, a real precursor to electronic music, but done with rock instruments. The groove is dark and steady presenting a dreamlike atmosphere. The music was recorded to be an 'intermission' between acts of their live show. One of their best.
Tiny Masters of Today - Bang Bang Boom Cake: The 2007 debut from Ivan and Ada, two Brooklyn siblings, is one of the shining records of the mid 2000's Kidcore scene (kids making rock music). The music is heavy garage rock, though with some interesting turntable action here and there. The brother and sister take turns singing songs, which are surprisingly political and not-surprisingly insightful. This an album of kids rebelling against the materialism and imperialism of the Bush years. I've been a fan since it's release, and in Seattle, I came across a very limited vinyl pressing. "K.I.D.S." and "Hey Mr. DJ" are great. A solid rock record no matter what age the performers.
Sing Children Sing - Songs of France: Released in 1979 by arrangement with UNICEF, this record features the Children's choir of Saint Laurent singing classic folk songs of France. The arrangements were done by a respected French musician and he certainly gives the record a complete feel. Ever since the Langley Schools Music Project, I've always found children's choir music to be brilliant if performed right, so when I saw this for 99¢ in Seattle, I picked it up. It's really well done and a great kind of record to put on when straightening up the house or other such chores. Though now I will have "Alouette" stuck in my head for weeks.