Friday, December 31, 2010

These Immortal Souls - Get Lost ...Don't Lie (1987) Mute (SST in U.S.A.)

Seeing the trailer for the upcoming documentary "Rowland S. Howard:Autoluminescent" last night had me throwing this record on immediately. I was very disappointed when Howard passed away from liver cancer in 2009 at the youthful age of 48. I feel that he was one of the best, most creative and most influential guitarists that ever lived.

After changing the entire face of Post-Punk with his agressive, smarmy and gut-wrenching style with "The Birthday Party", he moved on to the more artful and mature sound of Simon Bonney's "Crime and the City Solution". Several good records into that project he, his brother Harry and a fellow named Epic Soundtracks quit the band and blazed a new trail with Genevieve McGuckin.

"These Immortal Souls" saw Roland S. Howard taking a stab at vocals. Worked for me. Initially hearing this, I was shocked to hear tasteful and charming vocal stylings from such an exceptional guitarist. These carefully crafted ballads and rockers are ripe with the vibes of drunken hymns and sea shanties like much of his Nick Cave-fueled past without feeling the potential emulating qualities that can be contrived or misleading. This is a romantic yet beautifully strung out testosterone-lead Dream Pop record of epic proportions. Highly Underrated. When you hear it, tell a friend.

Get It Here

Or: Get Lost (Don’t Lie!) - These Immortal Souls

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Al Lover - Safe as Milk Replica (2010)

My man Alex just whipped up a sick MPC remix tribute to Don. This is fucking brilliant. Don't sleep on his blog either. He regularly posts Free downloads of original material as well as nice dj mixes.

Get It Here

Al Lover blog

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Soft Moon - The Soft Moon (2010) Captured Tracks

Luis Vasquez has crafted an engaging retro 80's tribute album....sort of. He's a one man band who incorporates Post-Punk, New Wave, Shoegaze, Goth and some early Cure. Quite the perfect sound for me.

With Breathy vocals and icy dense instrumentals, he takes the listener on a spooky and atmospheric journey that feels wrought with pain and despair. The deeper I listened the more I noticed the anger and fear buried under most of the tracks which also draws the Gothic and Industrial comparisons.

The breadth of emotion here is multi-dimensional and as is the current Goth revival trend, there is a great deal of hope masked in the sadness.

This is a stunning debut that crept into my Top Ten Albums of the Year list even though I'd only been listening to it for three weeks. Of course, that was multiple times daily for three weeks.

Get It Here

Or: The Soft Moon - Soft Moon

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A.H. Kraken - S/T (2008)

From Metz, France comes abrasive No Wave / Noise / Punk brutality like I've not heard in a while. Violent, vicious and destructive, there seems to be no direction here (except for a song about Kevin Costner) and I don't mind. Their mentality seems akin to the earliest Swans or Abruptum material. There is no concern for decibel levels, accessibility, their own safety or anything at all, really.

Through its incredibly harsh veneer, occasional glimpses of a groove can be distinguished. Their label "In the Red" describes them best by claiming the band is for fans of Brainbombs, Drunk with Guns and Pussy Galore. I would only add the Ann Arbor, MI Basement Noise circuit, late 90's Providence, R.I., the ugliest of the Young Gods repertoire, Arab on Radar, Frustration and Lightning Bolt to that list.

I can only imagine what they're doing to Kevin Costner in that song but I'm sure its not pretty.

Get It Here

Or: A.H. Kraken - A.H. Kraken

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Low - Christmas (1999)

Each holiday season I enjoy listening to three Christmas albums: A Phil Spector Christmas, John Fahey Christmas and Low's Christmas.

Everyone's favorite Duluth, Minnesota Mormon Slowcore band recorded this gem in 1999 and I have loved it ever since.

The opening track "Just Like Christmas" is an incredibly catchy lo-fi jangle that may have even put a smile on Phil Spector's face had he ever heard it. Following that are four more tasteful originals that hold their own along with covers of "Blue Christmas", "Silent Night" and a version of "Little Drummer Boy" that just crushes me.

When I was a boy I listened to my copy of the "Little Drummer Boy" LP year round. This is probably the reason I enjoy so much somber and downright depressing music in general. Low's version is true to the original. It reminds me of how intense and reverent the song was intended to come across. This is not your caroling choir in front of the corner store once a year. Here we have the slowest rum-pum-pums you've ever heard but buried in tape hiss and heavy organ drone.

This is a holiday classic for those who enjoy Christmas as well as those who do not.

Get It Here

Or: Christmas - Low

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Electric Bunnies - Through the Magical Door (2009)

These Florida rockers are so tripped out they can't decided on a genre. Good thing they don't need to. One track sounds like The Byrds meet Spaceman 3, the next sounds like Liars meet 13th Floor Elevators and the next is a screaming punk metal ditty with Iggy on vocal duties. Psychedelic Indie Rock Garage guitar Noise Punk Sunshine Pop Art Rock. Yep...but its honest and the production is outstanding.

I also like that the gatefold Lp jacket unfolds into a really amusing and disturbing board game. So drop some acid, sniff some glue and try to figure out what's up with these awesome weirdos.

Get It Here

Or: Through The Magical Door - Electric Bunnies

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here (2010)

I was skeptical. I thought it would be impossible to feel any impression from this album at all. Minutes into my first listen I knew I had judged prematurely.

Its been 16 years since his last studio album. After spending much of the last decade behind bars and continually battling drug problems, it seems he decided it was time for a collection of redemption songs.

His distinct voice is weathered and raspy these days. This combined with Richard Russell's Post-Hip Hop / Post-Industrial beats, Folk / Blues guitar and delicate string arrangements results in a production that is as diverse as it is creative.

With his classic mixture of spoken word and singing, he covers a lot of ground. Oddly enough, there are times when he even reminds me of a very serious and intense Ken Nordine.

As far as the subject matter, we hear him paying homage to the women in his life that taught him how to be a man, reminiscing on a childhood in a broken home, regretting the sheer hardship of existence itself as well as attempting to instill genuine hope in the listener.

The staunchly militant aggression has faded away, leaving the core of a man who is merely reflective and still bent on helping his fellow man, woman and child.

Get It Here

Or: I'm New Here (Bonus Track Version) - Gil Scott-Heron

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Best 50 Albums of 2010...Plain and Simple...

50) Warpaint - The Fool
49) Cloudland Canyon - Fin Eaves
48) Best Coast - Crazy for You
47) Woven Hand - The Thrashing Floor
46) Javelin - No Mas
45) Soundpool - Mirrors in Your Eyes
44) Koen Holtkemp - Gravity / Bees
43) Future Islands - In Evening Air
42) Barn Owl - Ancestral Star
41) Crocodiles - Sleep Forever
40) Jonas Reinhardt - Powers of Audition
39) Sleepy Sun - Fever
38) Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
37) Nurse with Wound and Larsen - Erroneous: a selection of Errors
36) Twin Sister Moon - Then Fell the Ashes
35) The Fall - Your Future, Our Clutter
34) Ceremony - Rocket Fire
33) Xela - The Devine
32) Sun City Girls - Funeral Mariarchi
31) Gary War - Police Water
30) U.S. Christmas - Run Thick in the Night
29) Wild Nothing - Gemini
28) Morton Feldman - For Phillip Guston
27) Rangda - False Flag
26) Mugstar - Lime
25) The Vandermark 5 - The Horse Jumps / The Ship is Gone
24) Flying Lotus - Cosmagramma
23) Chrome - Blood on the Moon
22) Wooden Shjips - Volume 2
21) Wolvserpent - Blood Seed
20) Villages - The Last Whole Earth
19) Boduf Songs - This Alone Above All Else in Spite of Everything
18) Wadada Leo Smith and Ed Blackwell - The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer
17) Eddie Current Suppression Ring - Rush to Relax
16) Four Tet - There is Love in You
15) Legendary Pink Dots - Seconds Late for the Brighton Line
14) Grinderman - 2
13) Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit
12) Locrian - The Crystal World
11) Magda - From the Fallen Page
10) Coil - Colour Sound Oblivion
09) J.G. Thirlwell - Manorexia
07) The Soft Moon - S/T
06) Swans - My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky
05) Umberto - Prophecy of the Black Widow
04) Zola Jesus - Stridulum
03) Emeralds - Does it Look Like I'm Here?
02) Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
01) Blessure Grave - Judged by Twelve, Carried by Six

Watch Blessure Grave "Open or Shut" Video

Please comment! I want feedback... good or bad. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Locrian - The Crystal World (2010)

Chicago based duo (now trio) Locrian are the epitome of the current Avant Metal Scene. Devising a brilliant pastiche of Noise, Doom, Drone and Black Metal, the result is a highly intriguing journey.

Based on the 1964 novel by J.G. Ballard about a doctor specializing in the treatment of leprousy, the caustic overtones make for an intense scenario. The compositions feel loose and improvisational and that's a format I'm consistently fond of. This is a nearly stream of consciousness aesthetic that is extremely dismal and chaotic yet pleasant and mature amidst the build-up and deconstruction.

Minimal synthesizer/keyboard drones and sometimes agressive sometimes buried growling vocals lead into quiet tribal drumming and patient guitar swells. The desperate and apocalyptic tension gives way to a crescendo of noisy blackened doom. The e-bowed guitar is reminiscent of Nachtmystium's album "Instinct:Decay" (Blake Judd has actually joined them on a previous outing). The second movement of this double length record is an epic single track of nearly an hour.

After seeking a tasteful merger of Black Metal and Drone for quite a while, I've stumbled upon it here. Experiencing the intensity of this group's live show earlier this year was quite an experience as well. In fact, it was one of the best I've ever had.

Get It Here

Or:The Crystal World - Locrian
After seeking

Monday, December 6, 2010

Klaus Schulze - Mirage (1977)

A stunning piece from a still underrated pioneer. Beginning his career as drummer for Tangerine Dream and leaving in 1970 to found Ash Ra Tempel, Schulze has made an indelible mark on Ambient and synth based music in general. Everyone in these genres has been incredibly influenced by his work. With over 60 solo albums he still strikes an occasional chord with me on albums to this day.

Utilizing analog synth, non-modular Moog, Farfisa and Mellotron and experimenting with strange electronic samples accompanied by a doom-like bassline, this is easily his darkest and best album. Lush atmospheres created here are reminiscent of Eno's Ambient 1 or Apollo. A warm and hypnotizing journey through 70's avant keyboard dreaminess.

The liner notes say it all:

"Music is a dream without the isolation of sleep. In fact whilst listening to music, your ego is living. But your universal ego, your principle watchs of your self ego is taking a new level of participation, the dream is reality because your are living the dream and your dreams control your reality. The supreme reality is creativity (all kinds of art) which takes you back to your mental origins. The musical theory is perfection, sometimes never obtained. The concept is a mental reaction, the process of movement and change, the basis of mankind. Music is the background to a mental picture, but the exact interpretation must be made by the listener, hence the music is only half composed and the listener himself should attack the composition to gain a mental repercussion. The listener has to add the meaning. The principles of music are to make the listener powerful and happy to endure our dying planet like by using their own creativity and being aware of emotion."

Schulze is a god. Eno got most of the credit.

Get It Here

Or: Mirage - Klaus Schulze

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Trisome 21 - Million Lights (1987)

Taking their name after the condition known as Down Syndrome (for reasons unknown to me), Brothers Phillipe and Herve eventually created this definitive French Coldwave classic. The first two records are also solid but this is the one I find most cohesive and accessible.

Meandering through dark Ambient synthesizer interludes and banging yet lush drum sequencing,, they accomplish an oddly romantic hybrid of Joy Division, Dead Can Dance and early EBM. This is a dreamy, quirky, cerebral and impressive record.

Get It Here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Legendary Pink Dots - Seconds Late for the Brighton Line (2010)

Three decades and over fourty albums on and the Dots still fail to disappoint me. This follow up to the accessible pop deviation that was 2008's Plutonium Blonde sees Ka-Spel and Knight returning to their trademark Post-Industrial and Neo-Folk brooding that we know and love.

Eschewing guitars and drums, they rely on heavily psychedelic keyboard and synth sounds, producing a somber and melancholy yet warm and intellectual work that softly penetrates the dark recesses of the mind.

The lyrics feel like Ka-Spel is reflecting on the history of the band and its output and although its probably hard to believe, the lyrics are even more impenetrably cerebral than before. Regardless, the creepy electronics coincide with this ever darkening narrative.

I must say that as a long-time fan I sincerely miss Niels van Hornblower's occassional but brilliantly effective skronking but I'm thankful for the return to
the pre-pop Dots.

If you're unfamiliar with their body of work but enjoy misanthropic pop music and the drone aesthetic, begin with this and prepare to research back through thirty years of deeply beautiful contemplation of the subconscious.

Get It Here

Or: Legendary Pink Dots