Saturday, May 27, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

It's not only the weekend, but it's a long one! This week I ramble about some highly anticipated albums in my world. I also found a few surprises, and an old favorite reacquired on vinyl. There's a lot of different genres on this list, which is perfect for exploring during the extra day. Personally, I'm going to spend the weekend listening to old favorites, but that's just me. Do as I say, not as I do. Enjoy the holiday and I'll see you back here next week.

At the Drive-In - in•ter a•li•a: It's been 17 years since the El-Paso post-hardcore band's last album, which may be a little misleading since Omar and Cedric had a Mars Volta career in that time, which was actually a more successful band. They also collaborated on 2014's Antemasque, which was also fantastic. To say I've been looking forward to this is an understatement. To say it lived up to expectations is also one. WOW! They picked up right where they left off with a burst of intense rock that begins with track one and doesn't quit. This is a definite must for fans of any three projects. 

Kasabian - For Crying Out Loud: The UK indie band continues it's trend of three years between releases with their sixth album. In the early days of Kasabian, I was a big supporter, and while the last two albums have been a bit of a letdown, I'm still a supporter. Unfortunately, this release continues the downward trend. The exciting thing about the band's first three albums was the sense of danger that was infused in their music. That was even there on the last album, "Bumblebee" is a great example of that. That seems to be lacking here. Including a second live disc on the deluxe edition is perhaps the worst choice because listening to that afterward, it just reminded me of what was missing on here. Still some quality tracks, "Comeback Kid," "Sixteen Blocks," and "All Through the Night" were my personal favorites. 

Dead Moon - Defiance: I still can't figure out how I missed the Portland garage punk band from the '90s back in their heyday, but they never really made it in NYC. I discovered their work only a few weeks back, but they've become one of my latest obsessions. I recently picked up this 1990 record, their third album. It opens with a brilliant cover of The Kinks "Milk Cow Blues" that pulls you right in. It continues on with a collection of perfect garage sounding punk that reminds me of Urge Overkill, but more raw. This is a band that would have been HUGE had they come about ten years later. 

Nektar - Remember the Future: This is fourth album released by the German space rock band back in '73. It's easy to compare this to Pink Floyd, especially to David Gilmour work in Floyd, but it's also quite different. It's definitely more prog rock than Floyd and reminds me a bit of Kansas in that way. Consisting of two tracks, one for each album side, this is an epic prog concept record with moments of great joy. Probably not essential, but fans of prog rock will certainly dig on it.

Halasan Bazar - Burns: The fourth album from the Danish psychedelic folk band was my surprise listen for this week. Knowing nothing about them, I took a chance on this one because I found the cover appealing and was rewarded with one of the most compelling records of the year so far. In the style of classic Brian Jonestown Massacre, this is psych folk with roots in 60's psych pop. "Freak," "Get Sick and Die," "Burns My Mind," and "Stretching Out" are standouts on a fantastic album.

Scala - Beauty Nowhere: Released in '96, this is the stunning debut from London electronic band, and has been one of my favorites since the day it came out. I was really in trip-hop and getting blasted back then and this album help illustrate my imagination. I recently picked up a copy on vinyl because I knew that it wouldn't be long before it became something that I wouldn't find anymore. Oddly, I paid less for the original vinyl than I paid for the import CD when it came out. This is like a time capsule for the mid-90s, one that is exciting to partake in again and again.

Returning to Places You've Never Been

I woke from a dream last night and in my half-sleep, recalled a different dream, one that I had years ago. The odd thing about it was that it took me a while to recall it was a dream and not a real memory. It started with this deli that was sparsely stocked where I remember frequently going to get a sandwich. Then I recalled the streets surrounding it. I knew the record stores on the one street was where I went to get imports. Another street was where I went for new releases. Then I recalled the streets expanding out from this Interzone version of the East Village. I kept trying to remember when I had been there and where exactly these places were, when it dawned on me that I had been there in a dream dreamt years ago.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

The weekend is upon us and so I'm back once again to ramble on about my music listening habits of the week. This week features a wealth of new discoveries for me as well as a few artists whose new work I checked out. It's heavy on psych rock and garage rock, with a little outlaw country just to round things out. The summer is coming, so expect a lot more new releases in the coming weeks. Hopefully there will be something on here that you'll want to check out. Enjoy.

Church of Sun - Golden Ram: The third album from the heavy psych band out of Southern Cali. This album is a pretty dynamic and original. It's very uptempo and very heavy. I was entranced from the very beginning and my enthusiasm never faded. This sounds like a Flaming Lips record that has discovered the power of metal and punk. "Sad Sad Days," "Monkey See Monkey Do," "Yellow Rose," "Satanic Panic" and the brilliant cover of The Stooges "I Wanna Be Your Dog" are standouts. 

Thurston Moore - Rock n Roll Consciousness: The newest solo record from the Sonic Youth frontman. The title of this seems ironic, because it's more like a subconsciousness of Rock 'N Roll, as Thurston's guitar work has always been. Consisting of five lengthy tracks, this is vintage Moore. It starts a little slow, but finishes with genius. "Turn On," "Smoke of Dreams," and "Aphrodite" are perfect noisy tracks that are right at home with the artist's best work.

Waylon Jennings - Dreaming My Dreams: Released in '75, and the height of Waylon's outlaw country image, this album channels the ghost of Hank and is inspired by Cash. This is old time country, the kind that I like. Considered one of his finest, I found a copy of this for $5 at the local store and have been digging it ever since. "Waymore's Blues," "I Recall a Gypsy Woman" "Let's All Help the Cowboys (Sing the Blues)," and "She's Looking Good" are my personal favorites.

Dead Moon - What a Way to See the Old Girl Go: Recorded in 1994, right in the middle of the Portland garage rock band's career, this newly released live album captures the band at their peek. Years ahead of the great garage rock revival, this trio brings an intense punk vibe to the genre that wasn't included in the revival a decade later. "It's OK," "Walking on My Grave," "Demona," "Killing Me," and "Running Out of Time" are standouts on this great live set.

Electric Moon - Stardust Rituals: The seventh album from the German space rock band is clearly inspired by the transition period of Pink Floyd in the late '60s. Lengthy songs of psychedelic sound conjuring up the mysteries of space, this is one of those moody albums that I really like on rainy days. There's only four songs on here, but they they are all very decent. One of those perfect headphone albums that can take you to a transportive soundscape.

Goldfrapp - Silver Eye: It's been four years since the British electro-pop artist's last album, but nothing has really changed with her style. I've had mixed reactions to her previous records. I've always found them to be uneven, and always found myself hoping there would be more trip-hop elements mixed into the the dream pop. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

North Country

I just finished watching Season 2 of the FX series Fargo, based on the Cohen Brothers' film. Departing from the movie and the first season, this installment takes place in 1979, which beyond allowing for wonderful wardrobe, soundtrack, and cars, it also places the cop aspects in a world before DNA and databases and hyper media hysteria. I found this to be one of the most intriguing parts about this season.

We quickly learn that some of the characters are ones we met in the first season, albeit much earlier in life. Though it has no bearing on the show, it's another intriguing aspect that adds to the creation of this world that the viewer spends time in. In that time, the view become entangled in beginning of a mafia turf war between a North Dakota family and the expansion of the Kansas City mafia. Through chance events, this war crosses path with a small town in Minnesota and snares a few of the residents in its web.

The surface entertainment is certainly quality drama that is well-scripted and well-acted, but the the underlying themes are really what steal the show and reveal the reason for the time period. Society was changing drastically through the late '60s and '70s and by the time 1980 was coming around, a lot of those progressive movements were about to meet a new set of resistance. The show subtly deals with the issues of woman's rights, the changing way of big business over small town culture, and the scars of Vietnam. Thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to catching up with Season 3.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

It's the weekend again, and it's raining, so that means I'm fairly pleased with the world. This week I look at four highly anticipated releases in my universe from bands that I truly enjoy. I also ramble on about to more Record Store Day purchases, one a release issued for the day, and one just a record that I picked up at the local store to take advantage of their RSD sale. All in all, this is an all star kind of Roundup filled with goodies that you should check out...or in some cases, maybe lower expectations a bit. Enjoy. 

Slowdive - Slowdive: The shoegaze band was one of my favorites in the mid-to-late '90s and on constant rotation during my drugged out college years. Then they broke up and Mojave 3 was born, and they became on of my favorites of the early '00s. Like other fans, I was thrilled when they reformed a few years back and have been looking forward to this album, their first since '95. I knew it would be hard for them to live up to the hype, and while this is a fine album, it doesn't feel revolutionary to me, by that I mean it doesn't really add anything to their legacy. "Sugar the Pill," "Go Get It," and "No Longer Making Time" are standouts on a quality release.  

The Wooden Sky - Swimming in Strange Waters: This is the fifth album from the indie folk band out of Toronto. They've been a favorite of mine since their debut back in '07 and I've been looking forward to this one. It's been three years since their somewhat disappointing last album and I'm happy to say that the passion is back on this great album. It starts a little slow, but ends with a string of amazing songs. "You're Not Alone," "Deadhorse Creek," "Matter of Time," and "Black Gold" are my personal favorites. 

The Bevis Frond - Triptych: One of two albums released by the British psych outfit in 1988, this was another Record Store Day release that I picked up on colored vinyl. Nick Saloman hits his stride on this record, the band's fifth and most popular of the decade. His guitar work is Hendrix like on here and his poetry is Lennon-esque. This is one I hadn't had either on CD or digitally in the past and it was a thrill to hear it for the first time. Stunning.

Gorillaz - Humanz: It's been seven years since Damon Albarn's (Blur) cartoon band has released a proper LP. This time they delve even further into the realm of hip-hop, which has been a standard of the band since their first single. Loaded with guest spots, another staple of the band, this record runs a good groove throughout even if it feels a bit souless at times. Personally, I think it lacks enough Damon and would've liked to hear more of him. His feature tracks, "Andromeda," "Busted and Blue," and "She's My Collar," are my favorites. All in all, a solid okay.

Woods - Love Is Love: Last year's release by Woods was one of my favorites of 2016, so I was excited to see they were releasing another record so quickly. This is another psychedelic folk gem as this band continues to evolve and mature. This album settles into its groove immediately and flows beautifully from start to finish. "Bleeding Blue," "Lost in the Crowd," "Spring is In the Air," and the two versions of the title track are outstanding.

T.Rex - The Slider: The third album from the glam rock legends, release in 1972, was another Record Store Day purchase. It was not re-released, I picked up an original. I've been really into Marc Bolan this past month and this album is brilliant. This was the creative peak, along with Electric Warrior album which came out the year before. At the height of his fame, and the height of the genre, this record is absolutely essential.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dict(ator) Move

So I'd be neglect if I didn't comment on the news of the week. Our president fired the FBI director who was in the process of investigating his campaign, stating some excuse that nobody except his ignorant base would believe. Of course, it's since come out that the real reason was because the FBI wasn't doing enough to silence all this Russia intrigue. This was either the stupidest thing this very intelligently challenged President has done, or it's the first step toward his dictatorship.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

The weekend has arrived the way it always seems to every seven days or so. And like the weekend is predictable, so is the fact that when it comes, I'm prepared to ramble on about music. This week I talk about new releases by a pair new bands to me, both of which were very impressive. I also continue to plow through some Record Store Day purchases, one released for the event and two that I picked up just because. A nice mix here of varying genres of rock. Hopefully there's something you be intrigued by. Enjoy.

Aye Nako - Silver Haze:  Four years after their debut, the Brooklyn indie outfit released their second record this past month. This album reminds me of some '90s bands, bands that were inspired by punk and crafted into lo-fi indie rock, bands like Bikini Kill and others that were born from Sonic Youth's 80s NYC sound.  "Half Dome," "Muck," "Nightcrawler," and "Practice Mace" are standouts for me on an interesting album. 

The Sword - Low Country: Released after 2015's High Country, this is the Austin stoner rock band's acoustic version of the album. For Record Store Day this year, it was released on vinyl. Though I found High Country somewhat disappointing, I picked this up, knowing that at the very least it would be interesting to hear them play acoustic. These songs seem better suited for these versions, which make them less cliche than the electric versions. I love the gothic folk feel that comes out on here.

Black Doldrums - People's Temple: This is the debut album from the London duo and it's quite impressive. It has Jesus & Mary Chain and Spacemen 3 elements of fuzzed out guitar, mixed with garage rock elements. The result is something pretty great, and I found myself really digging this record even it it wasn't revolutionary. "Take Me," "Dreamcatchter," "Sidewinder," and "Maya" are standouts. Definitely worth checking out.

David Gilmour - About Face: Though I've been a huge Pink Floyd fan since I was 15, and though Gilmour has always been preferred to Waters, I was slow to get into his solo work until recently when I discovered the brilliance of his self-titled debut from '78. Finally got a copy of 1984 follow-up and it's another quality album, with "Murder" being an epic track. Not a strong as his debut, but still a great record that fans will like. A nice addition to the collection.

Count Five - Psychotic Reaction: Released in 1966, this is the sole album from the San Jose proto-punk band and became an inspiration for generations that followed, especially the unbelievably brilliant title track. This was re-released on 180g vinyl in Mono for Record Store Day. Limited to 1,500 copies, I'm glad I was able to come across one of them. This is years ahead of its time and a pure piece of garage rock bliss. 

Ralph Stanley - I Want to Preach the Gospel: I first heard Ralph when he recorded the "O'Death" song for the film O'Brother Where Art Thou and his voice was instantly ingrained in my consciousness. I came across '73 album during my Record Store Day shopping and it's a brilliant gothic blue-grass record. "Great High Mountain" is a real stand-out on this spiritual journey. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Alphabetcial Disorder

There's this notion out there that organizing things alphabetically somehow makes you efficient and conscientious. The arguments are easy to make. You always know where to find things because you know where they are. Nothing ever gets lost. You won't waste time searching shelves to find this book or that record, because you simply go to the letter in the alphabet where that item is supposed to be. And that all makes sense. It's hard to argue with the notion, but I'm going to.

My two library collections, books and music, are not organized alphabetically. Does this create search problems? Well, yes...sometimes. But not usually. The problem with alphabetical, especially when it comes to my own personal collections, is that I'm rarely looking for something specific. When I want to read a new book, or listen to an album, I don't typically have a title in mind. I rarely jump up thinking ooohhhh, I know what I want to hear! My brain doesn't work that way.

I think in moods and ideas and look for things that will conjure the images I seek. I'm looking for a vibe or a groove, not for a particular item. My collections are organized by genre and mood. When I'm feeling a certain way, I know which area in the collection to browse. And I enjoy browsing through those sections to find what I want. In that way, I'm often refreshed on what I actually have in the collection. It may not be efficient or conscientious, but it's inspirational and that's better in my opinion.