Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sonic Youth - Simon Werner a Disparu (SYR, 2011)

I know its difficult to remember but there was a time, long ago, when music described as experimental was just that: fragmented ideas, stream of consciousness, and just plain rambling. The ninth release from Sonic Youth's SYR label reminds me of the youthful exhuberance of musicians messing around.

Although most of the releases on this label have been for abstract, this one marries the two personalities of Sonic Youth. This is a nice blend for those who enjoy the avant garde and both early and later material from the band's three decade long roller coaster ride.

Although this is definitely "SYR Lite", this instrumental score to Fabrice Gobert's teen psycho-drama fits the juvenile and often confusing emotional landscapes the band began their career exploring.

Most of what we get here is various noodling interludes where Thurston heads somewhere with Lee wandering musically, Kim and Steve in tow. Even though that description doesn't sound too stimulating, I honestly enjoy the record.

I'm not recommending you race to your nearest record store to grab it but do check it out at some point. Experimental background music is a rather nice concept.

Get It Here

Or: Simon Werner a disparu (Bande originale du film) - Sonic Youth

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Baptists- S/T (Southern Lord, 2011)

The debut 7″ from this Vancouver, British Columbia hardcore act is brilliant. These days, it is quite rare that I pay attention to, much less enjoy hardcore. However, these veterans of the scene (members of Sports, Ladyhawk and A Textbook Tragedy) formed in 2010 and quickly recorded four impressive songs. The demo was just collecting dust until they received an email from Greg Anderson of Southern Lord. Their reply was half-hearted because they assumed the message was a hoax. Thankfully, it was not.

Casual listening might lead one to think this is just for those stuck on 80′s / 90′s hardcore scenes. Upon further investigation, it is clear that Baptists are not simply dwelling in the past. Beginning with elements of Converge, Cursed and Neurosis, they add layers of grind, death and crust, amidst old school shrieking punk vocals and melodic guitar. All of this is enhanced by the technically gifted chugging guitar/bass riffs, and aided by the drummer’s punishing prowess.

These guys are no amateurs and the intensity and professionalism of this 7″ is exceptional. Baptists remind us of what some may forget here - Hardcore can be raw and aggressive enough to insight youthful primal anger, but it can also be intelligent enough to appeal to those with aged and refined tastes.

The only disappointing aspect of this recording is that, at a mere twelve minutes, it is over too quickly. This is an innovative and promising act with much potential to be tapped into. Once you give it a listen, I’m sure you too will be anticipating the full-length direction their creativity is taking them.

Get It Here

This post originally appeared in an article I wrote for

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vastum - Carnal Law (20 Buck Spin, 2011)

Two ideas strike me upon first listening to Vastum: the first is that they play genuine old school death metal but with a crusty doom-laden personality of their own. The second is that these fellows are actually cultured. Rarely in metal are we privy to such intelligent and passionate lyrics steeped in literary, psychological and philosophical themes.

Their sound has the visceral nature of classic acts like Grave, Carcass, Death and Autopsy. Carnal Law incinerates everything in its path, hammering away at your cerebral cortex. This record also forgoes the easy route of electronic machine gun drum synthesis, resulting in a methodical performance with an antiquated analog feel. The quintet features members of Infest, Saros, Amber Asylum, and Hammers Of Misfortune. Not surprisingly, three of the five members come from Acephalix, a San Francisco punk / metal band who’s name is derived from Georges Bataille’s Acephale, a splinter group from the surrealist movement of 1930′s Paris. Acephale, which means headless, was a secret society intent on creating a new religion. Many elements of Bataille’s writings are included in Vastum’s themes. They explore his notions of the gift, transgression, excess, eroticism and death. Another intertwining theme presented here is psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche’s writing on psychic disfigurement and his work with Freud’s seduction theory (the idea that hysteria and neurotic obsession are born due to childhood molestation).

As you can tell, this band takes itself seriously; maybe too seriously for some. I, on the other hand, feel it is long overdue that a band like Vastum come along and rescue death metal from the clutches of a scene insistent on juvenile subject matter and horror film samples. Vastum will prove that death metal is not exclusively for angsty, inferior-feeling teenage males with no self-confidence. This is death metal worthy of snobby literary elitists and it is music that could actually make you smarter.

This post originally appeared in an article I wrote for

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hawkwind - Palace Springs (GWR, 1991)

Your captain is still dead. Those who dove into 70's heavy metal, at sometime or another, have come across Hawkwind, the band that everyone knows because Lemmy used to play with them. Later in Hawkwind's career, they had split up into two groups under the common name for a period of time. Nick Turner(sax,flute,vocals) took it in one direction and Baron Dave Brock(guitars, vocals) took the band in another. A lot of Hawkwind's later albums have been overlooked by younger hawkcadets, thus a reason for sharing the 1991 epic heavyness of “Palace Springs.” The album was originally recorded in 1989 and the first two tracks were done in a mobile studio, the rest were performed live during a tour of North America. “Palace Springs” is the wise work of Dave Brock's formation of Hawkwind. In this album they are joined by, the band's only front woman, Bridget Wishart and the return of lead violinist Simon House. The album is mostly the re-workings of songs from earlier albums such as “Void of Golden Light”, “Time We Left” and “Damnation Alley.” Hawkwind has always been able to be prophetic in the sense that they are very proper in the manner of communicating the changing of the celestial guards. Thick pulsating drone as a galactic battle of light and dark re-affirm the age old saga of human nature and all its glory and folly. Hawkwind has always been a link between hippie and punk cultures. As heavy, dark and socially conscious of the struggles of humanity appealed to the more distraught and down to earth, the synth layered psychedelic breath spoke to those whom found themselves escaping reality. Where ever you find yourself, there you are. “Palace Springs” will be an artifact found by distant space travelers and will explain our space in time. This is your captain speaking.

--Sean Dail


Monday, May 16, 2011

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact (4AD, 2011)

Gang Gang Dance is a band that has always been difficult to describe. Their attempts at an ethereal dance pop aesthetic have allowed them to carve a niche for themselves in an anti-genre.

With Eye Contact, they've raised the bar in an unbelievably challenging way. What pop act opens a record with an eleven minute track? They do. What begins with free jazz-like, seemingly improvisational percussion evolves into a blissed out post-punk dance party. "Glass Jar" is heavy on the synth and body rock, gesticulating hard but culminating into a very spiritual premonition that is Track 2. This sends us into the misleadingly titled "Adult Goth", a track that is more akin to an electro-Bollywood tinged afro pop cut by the ghost of Kate Bush than anything else.

"Chinese High" is another "club hit that never was" with global dancefloor intentions, a crunk synth dub number that still retains the 80's new romantic aesthetic. "Mindkillah" might be my favorite cut, a pounding hybrid of reggaeton and acid house mixed with some whiter than usual hollatronics, this is the most banging dance song I've heard in a while.

Another interlude is followed by "Romance Layers", a chill souled out bass-heavy funk track that sounds like it could be some dub b-side of a new jack R&B jam that you kind of remember but can't quite put your finger on because you were to busy rollerskating.

"Sacer" sound like an inadvertent tribute to Bjork in her Sugarcubes days. I find this incredibly romantic. These days there's a revivalist element to everything we hear but I'm pretty sure they're the first to remind us what a great and still underrated band The Sugarcubes were.

Blending with yet another interlude titled with unknown characters (witch house style), the closing track "Thru and Thru" treats us to the letting go of singer Lizzi Bougatsos and her near East Asian vocal homage, another acid-drenched number, this time with a no holds barred narrative of epic proportions.

Its only May but this might already be my album of the year. This is an effort that seems to be an insult to 80's nostalgiacs. Gang Gang Dance is far too creative to be lumped into that category that is all the rage at the moment. Some cerebral shake your ass shit. Dance but think about it at the same time. "Live forever".

Get Eye Contact Here

Or: Eye Contact - Gang Gang Dance

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This Heat - Deceit (Rough Trade, 1981)

So how do YOU feel about nuclear warfare with the accompaniment of imperialism? Yeah, it make for an unsettling feeling somewhere between the throat and stomach. By all means, worry, This Heat can help you. The 1982 album “Deceit” is the second release for post-rock artists This Heat. The album is a cluster of dystopian contemplation through chants and screams that demands a further look into the development of Western historical powers. The production quality of this album continues to surprise me with every listen and due to the many layers of sounds, I seem to pick out phrases and textures that I had previously over heard. If you are one to listen or read about current world events and maybe be interested in the history that has propelled these events to construct the power grid in which we all live under, then the proverb filled melodies of “Deceit” will be of great comfort. Look further.

--Sean Dail

Deceit Is Waiting for you Here

This Heat -

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gentle Giant - Acquiring the Taste (Mercury, 1971)

The English troubadours and minstrels of the umphteenth degree couldn't have heard their own fantastic nightmares of bliss and domination. So let the 1970's prog rockers in, they have been waiting for five hundred years. They just needed someone to teach them heavy blues licks and introduce them to the melotron, that's all.

Hither come Gentle Giant and their 1971 album “Acquiring the Taste”. This second album of the quintessential British progressive rock group found themselves in depths of the wolves den. And willing as they were to go there, Gentle Giant abandoned the blues and soul drivin' sound of their previous album. This was a common transition for English groups of the late 60's and early 70's. They realized that no matter how hard they tried to sound like the coolest southern black man from the bayou, they were still pale, penny loafing and quite too proper. “Acquiring the Taste” is an amazing album. To try and sum up the sound, if you are not familiar with Gentle Giant, there is gloomy chamber chanting cut off by heavy rock riffs while the ever looming melotron cast a shadow of Imperial sounding British horns that dive behind spiny harpsichord taps or Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull directed a love scene where Sabbath and ELO make elegant gestures toward one another without touching. Hmmm, well here is an excerpt from the liner notes of the album. It is their declaration into departure.

"...It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this. From the outset we have abandoned all preconceived thoughts of blatant commercialism. Instead we hope to give you something far more substantial and fulfilling. All you need to do is sit back, and acquire the taste."

--Sean Dail

Acquire the Taste Here

Or: Acquiring the Taste - Gentle Giant

The Accused - Martha Splatterhead's:Maddest Stories Ever Told (Relativity, 1988)

Splatter rockers! Come together and fight to the death. It will be fun, as long as the soundtrack is none other than Washington's own gore thrash elite; The Accused. The album “Martha Splatterheads Maddest Stories Ever Told” is a fierce 39 minutes of gut-terror and metallic shreds of total insanity. The character Martha Splatterhead is some kind of zombie vigilante that destroys all child abusers and molesters alike and has grown to be a mascot of sorts. This 1988 release always finds it's way to my stereo and puts me in a fantastic mood. Maybe it's the range of screeches and wild cat throat cracks of vocalist Blaine Cook or the comic violence with all it's sinister laughter that is placed intermittently throughout the album. The overall theme of the album is horror film based, including movie samples and cute/creepy children singing about how Jesus will save them. Well, when he doesn't, there is always Martha. Rip their heads off!

--Sean Dail

Get It Here

Friday, May 13, 2011

Liturgy - Aesthetica (Thrill Jockey, 2011)

The first time I heard of Liturgy was while hanging up flyers for a show they were playing. Musicians around town that I respect couldn't believe that they were playing a house show down the street. I couldn't believe, later that night, that I was killing a joint with them upstairs in a bedroom above one of the most intense musical experiences I have ever experienced. They played with fire and knew how to keep it going. That night, we coined the phrase “killing the horse” for getting high because it was mentioned that some of us smoke enough weed to kill a horse. That being said, their last album, Renihilation, became an obsession of mine.

This new album, Aesthetica, brings me to a place where my ears have to work to hear all of the amazing sounds they're creating because I don't want to miss anything. I've seen them play a few of these songs live and one in particular stuck with me. I searched the internet-theory to its edge to find the song and couldn't until recently because it is on this new album. “Veins of God” is one of the last songs, a transcendental stoner metal song played by a Brooklyn black metal band, truly transforming and fulfilling the foreshadowed expectations by the album's title.

They venture before with songs of incredible speed, parts of songs involving their token vocal harmonization and melodies and no other instruments, and dive to the heaviest note with weight. They create sounds that you want to hear, experimenting with sophisticated variety and raw honesty. It makes your mind work in a way that pleases itself, true aesthetic of varying rhythms with time and space blurring from speed.

It seems that getting lost in this album is the way to find what you like about it. Everything on Aesthetica is proper to play while starting a fire, watching one burn down everything, or lighting the flame to kill the horse. Keyword: Experiment.

--Oliver Kelly

Get Aesthetica Here

Or: Aesthethica (Bonus Track Version) - Liturgy

Monday, May 9, 2011

Craft Spells - Idle Labor (Captured Tracks, 2011)

"Despite of all our conflict
I still sit and adore you
A tragedy for the ages
Now at least I can say this

Even though our love has died
You're still mine
You're still mine"

These intense lines open "Idle Labor", Captured Tracks latest release and full-length debut from Stockton, CA native Justin Paul Vallesteros. What was initially a bedroom project has evolved into a full and permanent band, one that is a contender in the current climate of 80's revivalism.

Most people just write off this sort of music but I imagine most of these people didn't grow up obsessing over The Cure either. I feel its relevant when done properly, and Craft Spells are a fine example. With the dream pop influences of Factory Records band, The Wake, some early MBV and a whole lot of Head on the Door, CS really convey the classic 80's new romantic sentiment. I'm reminded of hazy and blurred visuals of early MTV and the immense scarring of our own teenage love (or so we thought).

Vallesteros writes the best lyrics of this resurgence as well. Brokenhearted yet hopeful, he'd make Robert Smith proud.

Remember kids, summer vacation is over before you know it. Make sure to spend a lot of time in a car with the windows down, don't worry about a thing and, most importantly, tell that girl you like her, even if you feel she's out of your league. You never know what might happen.

Get Idle Labor Here

Or: Idle Labor - Craft Spells

Get Vinyl Here

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sonny Sharrock - Guitar (Enemy Records, 1986)

Sonny Sharrock was a man of immense talent and vast creative vision, a sideman in the 60's, performing on Pharoah Sanders' Tauhib and more famously on Miles Davis' Tribute to Jack Johnson.

Sharrock's use of guitar was uncommon in the early years of free jazz. He would skronk out lines like a sax and was well-known for his use of feedback. In fact, he had wanted to play saxophone due to an obsession with John Coltrane but his asthma wouldn't allow. Many times you could hear him say, "I'm just a sax player with a fucked-up axe."

That "fucked-up axe" on this album re-introduced the guitarist to the world as a solo performer. It consists of a man, his guitar and a bunch of pedals on the floor in front of him, overdubbing to create his own distinct blending of jazz, blues, funk and heavy psychedelic. This type performance is commonplace in today's experimental music communities but remember that it was not in 1986.

If you feel this album, check out Ask the Ages, his record with Coltrane bandmates Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones, which is Sharrock's finest hour.

Get Guitar Here

Vestibule - Transient Marsh Maneuver (Mixtape, 2011)

So this is a late night mix that's pretty out there. Take some downers and clean the house or something... Just don't hate.

Download and / or Stream Here

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Chico Freeman - Kings of Mali (India Navigation, 1978)

Picked this up at a yard sale today. I'd never heard of him but I love the bass-playing of Cecil McBee so I thought I'd give it a shot. Boy, am I glad I did. This is a post-bop / avant-garde needle in the haystack, literally a tribute to the ancient kingdom of Mali.

Freeman alternates between saxophones, flutes and bailophone and the rest of the band is in order with Jay Hoggard (vibes), Anthony Davis (piano), Cecil, of course, and a brilliant african-inspired percussion journey with Famoudou Don Moye, pulling out all the stops with bells, whistles, gongs and the trap kit itself.

Definitely AACM / 70's Chicago feeling (I kept waiting for Lester Bowie to pop up) and its a far cry from Kulu se Mama but certainly worth your time.

Get It Here

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wipers - The Circle (Restless,1988)

This was meant to be the final Wipers album but just resulted in a five year hiatus for the band. Its often hated for lacking the chemistry, magic and spark of the earlier releases. I don't care if its not punk enough for all the haters. This will always be my favorite due to its mature and interesting production.

The trademark songwriting of Greg Sage remains yet there is a real depth to the recording itself. Its not raw or stripped down; On the contrary, with this record the band took a step similar to The Damned with Strawberries or WIRE with A Bell is a Cup, immersing the listener in ruminative and moody soundscapes, drawing an aural bath.

It foreshadow's Sage's later solo work which also has much merit. If you missed this one, give it a shot.

Get The Circle Here

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Today is the Day - Temple of the Morning Star (Relapse, 1997)

“Nothing works out. It's a sweet ride mama.”

I put this record on the other night and then it started storming like a mother fucker. No shit. Seriously though, if this record is the equivalent of the devil speaking to me, than I'm down. Sign me the fuck up. The power is flickering right now and I' m ready to meet the dark lord. Transistors are blowing and this has gotta mean something kiddos. Little red dudes with pitchforks are in my future...

Eh... who the fuck am I kidding? I've been listening to “devil” music since the third grade or some shit. Let me tell you something. If all these years listening to music inspired by a fictional character had any effect, wouldn't I have already professed my love to a darker power? Don't get me the stuff. But if you seriously fear listening to records such as the above mentioned due to the idea that you may raise an entity or some bullshit, you don't deserve to live in real time. That shit is make believe.


You know what I mean. This record is fucking retarded. It's good. Just listen to it. It's nastier than fuck. Steve Austin is a Satanist from what I understand. I heard that years ago and I've never really gotten a solid answer on that, but I just hope that he is. I mean if he isn't that’s fine. No worries. I've never really been into religious music. But if you listen to this record and feel that he is a Satanist, then you it makes you feel stoked cause it sounds like it was made by someone who worships Satan. I mean there’s a song called “Satan is Alive” on it. You get stoked cause some people believe one thing and some people, another. It's cute no matter what angle you look at it.

--Tony Plichta

Get Some Satan Noise Here

Or: Temple of the Morning Star - Today Is the Day

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Vestibule - My Boss is a John Carpenter (mostly in Em) (Mixtape, 2011)

What can I say? I love the motherfucker. I love anything that was influenced by him. All things John Carpenter... Is there a cult yet?

Get Nostalgiac Here