Saturday, September 10, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

It's the weekend, and though the calendar says September, the weather this week was more akin to July in Hell. In that kind of weather, the mood is right for psychedelic rock and freak folk. And so, this week's selections include plenty of both. A lot of these are recent vinyl finds for me, as well as a one new release. In the coming weeks there will be more vinyl finds and more new releases. I'm finally caught up and am actually ahead of schedule. Hopefully I can maintain my lead going into the end of the year as I try to sort out my favorites of 2016. Enjoy.

Svartanatt - Svartanatt: The self-titled debut from the Swedish heavy rock band was released back in May and is one of those albums that draws heavily from early '70s hard rock bands. I listened to this album directly after listening to Sir Lord Baltimore and was struck by how similar this album, released more than 40 years later, was to that band. While there is nothing innovative on this record, it's still quite worthwhile. Sometimes it's nice that there are bands still making a sound that was ignored when it was made and hard to find now.

Pink Floyd - Complete BBC Sessions 1967-1968: I found this double album vinyl bootleg last week and saved it for several days in order to listen to it on my day off. These sessions chronicle the era of Syd's departure and Gilmour's entrance and feature several songs never officially released, and some only released on singles, including "The Massed Gadgets of Hercules," "Vegetable Man," "Murderotic Woma," and "Embryo." It also features classics like "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," "Julia Dream," and "Point Me at the Sky." This is a fantastic set list from the early to mid era of one of my favorite bands. 

The Open Mind - Open Mind: This '69 psychedelic garage rock record is one of those much sought after records for collectors. After listening to it, it's clear to me that the rarity of it is one of the reasons it is so sought after. Not that it's bad, but it seems anything there is a quality record that is rare, it becomes inflated. This is a very good entry in the genre, reminding me Jefferson Airplane's style of psychedelic, which is strange because not much from the London scene mimics that San Fran sound. Well worth checking out.

Big Blood - Night Terrors in the Isle of Louis Hardin: Continuing my way through the missing pieces in my Big Blood collection is this short album from 2011. This is one of their sparser records, containing a lot of shorter, instrumental pieces than some of their typical albums. While it didn't feel as strong as some of my favorites by them, it still conjures amazing imagery in my head. Seriously, it you don't know this band, or if you haven't sought them out after any one of my many praisings, then you must visit their bandcamp site and give them a try. One of my favorite bands. 

It's a Beautiful Day - It's a Beautiful Day: This 1969 psych folk album is one of those classic albums that I'd been meaning to check out for years. Though I've come across it on vinyl many times, the price never seemed right, that was until last week when I found a clean copy in the $1 bin. This is the debut from the San Fran band and it's one of those transcendent folk records that bring me back to my childhood, or my often extremely stoned college days. Classic San Fran freak out folk and there's a good reason it's much beloved. "Wasted Union Blues," "White Bird" and the epic 10 minute closer, "Time Is" are highlights.

Alice Cooper - School's Out: Alice's fifth album came out in '72 during a flurry of output during his heavy glam stage. This album, named after his most famous tune, comes just before the amazing Billion Dollar Babies and is one of the founding albums of hard rock. "Gutter Cat vs. the Jets," "Blue Turk," and "My Stars" are exceptional tracks on another fantastic record. All of his early stuff is amazing and belongs in any serious collection.

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Quicksilver: Another fifth album, this one from the San Fran psych rockers, released in '71. I was a little disappointed with their earlier album, Shady Grove, that I purchased a few years back, but decided to give them another chance when I came across this one at a severely discounted price. Their brand of psych is blues based, slightly heavier than Grateful Dead but with a similar soul as their city mates. This is definitely a better album, more in line with Country Joe, JA, and other San Fran bands. "I Found Love," "Play My Guitar," "Rebel," "Fire Brothers," and "The Truth" are standouts.

Kansas - Leftoverture: Another dollar bin purchase with this one. I've never gotten into the prog band from the state that bears its name, but this one opens with "Carry on Wayward Son" which if nothing else would be worth a $1 and I decided to give it a go. I'm glad to report that it's more than just one song. This is the band's fourth album, but they released their first five albums in three years. The musicianship is great on this, and while it's very prog, in the same prog style as Rush, you can hear a lot of '80s rock stylings are taken from this band. 

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