I'm finally catching up a bit this week on a bunch of albums that I've been listening to over the past month or so. There really isn't a theme to this week. They are not even typical winter albums, even though this week saw the first two snowfalls of the season. It's mostly a list of things I'd been meaning to check out for a long time. Oddly, it's also a collection of many things I probably would have loved in High School. There is only one new release on here, but it's amazing. Hopefully there something here to strike your interest. Enjoy.
Fang - Landshark!: This is the 1983 debut EP from the Berkley hardcore band that would later inspire the heavy punk sound to come out of the great northwest in the years to come. This album made it onto Kurt Cobain's 50 Greatest Albums list that was published in his journals and I'd always meant to check it out, especially considering my love for Nirvana's cover of the opening track "Money Will Roll." When I came across the list again a few weeks ago, I was reminded of it and sought it out. At just over sixteen minutes long, it's a perfect piece of proto-grunge. I've been loving this record. You can certainly hear the record's influence on Nirvana's earliest work.
M.D.C. - Millions of Dead Cops: Another album off of Kurt Cobain's fifty favorites is this 1982 debut from the Texas punk band. Typical of hardcore punk, the songs are short and aggressive, spat out in a violent fury. The rage behind the genre has always appealed to youth anger and is exactly what made me a fan of it in my teen years. But those are also the very elements that make it hard for me to truly love it today. While I can certainly dig this album in small doses, it is done very well after all, I have a hard time not growing bored with it during the course of the 27 songs on the reissue. Perhaps the original release with only 14 songs would be more digestible. I can still support the politics of it though, it's just not as musically compelling as say Minor Threat.
Sivert Hoyem - Where is My Moon?: Any followers of the Roundup would be able to vouch for my love of this Norwegian singer songwriter and his former band Madrugada. His fourth solo album, Long Slow Distance was on my best of the year list last year. He has deep haunting voice that pulls me into his songs of sorrow and longing. These four songs are no different, and the title track may be one of his best. The Missus picked this up on vinyl at his show in Switzerland last month. I was unable to go, but she was able to get it signed to us and got to talk to him briefly. Needless to say, it is now a prized possession.
Red Sparowes - Oh Lord, God of Vengeance, Show Yourself!: Despite hailing from the sunny shores of L.A., Red Sparowes is anything but light and breezy, or even glitzy and sleazy, as is typical for L.A. bands. Instead, they create seven to ten minute soundscapes filled with a hint of doom and despair that would seem born from northern dreariness. On this, their second album dating back to 2005, they remind me of a cross between Earth and Godspeed You Black Emperor. They really fall somewhere in the middle of those two, without the pretentiousness of Godspeed, though they do have paragraph long song titles which tell a story when read in order. And they aren't quite as sludgy as Earth. They've been able to strike the right balance and create a wonderfully listenable post-rock instrumental record that never grows boring. They have two newer albums that I look forward to finding.
GWAR - Scumdogs of the Universe: The demons of metal's second album, released in 1990, is their transition into thrash metal, moving away from their punk roots. The thing that makes GWAR relevant when it might be so easy to dismiss them as a novelty act, is that they can really play. These demons know how to play metal and this album is some of the best thrash metal out there. "Sick of You," and "Vlad the Impaler" are real stand out tracks for me. They may be gimmicky, but they back it up with songs that are HEAVY.
The Beatles - Artifacts II: Alone Together: With material dating mostly from White Album era of 1968-69, this bootleg chronicles a strange period in the Fab Four's history, and one of my favorites. The title stems from the already fracturing relationships forming within the band, and also colors some of the material, suggesting that though they were a group, they were four individual artists who were "alone together." There are amazing acoustic, scaled down versions of White Album songs as well as strange little pieces that always seem to find their way onto Beatles bootlegs. I really love hearing them in this loose and creative way. This album is probably better than the sessions released on the Anthology album from the period, more raw and slightly more powerful. Definitely a must for fans.