Thursday, September 27, 2012

F.J. McMahon - Spirit of the Golden Juice (Private Press, 1969)

Last week I stumbled across this gem. Since I'm always looking for a particular softer side of psych / folk / country / pop vibe (particularly of the outsider vibe) , I'm quite excited about this man's music.

McMahon returned from a tour in Vietnam with something to say. He recorded this, his only output, a masterpiece for some reason swept under the rug. What's presented here is a mesmerizing voice singing plaintive, melancholy and romantic lyrics. He plays somber minor key guitar tracks, accompanied by bass and a delicate yet strong drum kit.

This is an extremely underrated, one off album that should no longer be slept on. Fans of Tim Hardin, Jim Schoenfield, Scott Walker, and Rodriguez would be wise to snag this.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, "The Golden Juice" is the name of a bourbon.

Get it HERE

And order the LP re-issue over at Sacred Bones HERE

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fat Boys - S/T (Sutra, 1984)

Its been a Fat Boys kind of week. I walked into the record store and there was a vinyl copy of Crushin'. The next day a friend was wearing a Fat Boys T-shirt, and later another friend posted on Facebook that he was watching "Disorderlies", the classic Fat Boys movie from 1987. This really got me nostalgiac. One of my first tapes was "Fat Boys". I remember taking my walkman to school in 5th grade and letting friends listen to it. It made me feel cool. I also had a tv-dubbed copy of Disorderlies that was watched so many times, it wore out. 

Prince Markie Dee and Kool Rock Ski rapped and Buff Love aka Human Beat Box provided the beats. Alongside Doug E. Fresh, Buff was a pioneer of beatboxing. This is an old school classic, referenced by many later acts like Boogie Down Productions, Jeru tha Damaja and Jay-Z.

They were originally called The Disco 3 when they won a talent show at Radio City Music Hall. Word spread that they ate constantly. Recognizing that they were overweight, their producer Kurtis Blow suggested they embrace it and change their name to Fat Boys. When the debut record was released, it sold 200,000 copies and became the most requested radio jam in NYC. 

Unfortunately, the 450 lb. Buff passed away in 1995 of a heart attack. And, even sadder is that last year the remaining two members played the annual gathering of the Juggalos. Regardless, this is a cool album.

Here's a song about them getting thrown in jail for stealing pizza.

Get it HERE

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ornette Coleman - Chappaqua OST (1965)

How the hell Conrad Rooks (or whoever was in charge of this decision) opted for the Ravi Shankar version of the film score is forever beyond me. I could be in the dark about some particular permutation, but listening to them side by side, I go with this one all day.

Honestly, the churned out dopey cliche vibe of the Shankar score is weak as the companion music to the film, and weak as an offering for the master musician that was Ravi shankar. I'm sorry, but Shankar just rubbed one out.

I saw this film because I randomly picked it up at the neighborhood video rental store when I was nineteen. There was a bargain bin of vhs and I liked the the cover. I had yet to do hard drugs, I was just discovering jazz and  the only education I'd had with experimental film was David Lynch. Watching this film was my first true "countercultural" experience. And eighteen years later, the film still trumps all else.

The premise is that a man is institutionalized due to alcohol addiction. As he goes through DT withdrawls,  the camera portrays what he is hallucinating. There are a multitude of visually striking moments presented, but the one that always pops into my head is a scene in a club where Ornette is skronking away on the sax and standing next to him is the little man from the tv show Fantasy Island. If you're my age or older, you know what I'm talking about, if not, look it up. Either way, its a truly harrowing scene and I can't really explain why. Other notable appearances include William S. Burroughs (this caused me to begin reading his books when I was too young to get it), Allen Ginsberg, and Swami Satchidinanda.

This is an immensely disturbing film in that it is violent, schizophrenic and psychedelic in the true sense of the word. For whatever reason, this film is hard to find. Unfortunately, I've lost my copy, and this really upsets me. Regardless, this is not a film blog. Point being, you need not be a jazz head to appreciate the excruciating hard work that Ornette put into this score that was never used. We're talking about an hour and twenty minutes of textbook Ornette free jazz, just a bit off ballads, and even a venture into his own twisted brand of cool jazz that you won't find outside of this record. And these are the same players as the "Golden Circle" sessions, just to give you heads a backdrop. Such a heavy band...

Whether you like jazz and hard drugs or not, find this film and listen to this (not)soundtrack. And for fuck's sake, somebody leave a comment. Thanks everybody.

Get it HERE

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Goat - World Music (Rocket Recordings, 2012)

Goat resides in a city called Korpolombolo in the north  of Sweden. Legend has it that a witch doctor just happened to be passing through asking for directions, thus causing the locals to inadvertently beging practicing voodoo. This went on for centuries, until the Christians, in their typical fashion, came through and burned all the locals at the stake. Go figure.

Maybe this is a big whopper, maybe not. Still makes for a good preface to a band that just made one of the best records of 2012. Its rare that I want to put a new record on repeat. With this one, its been happening each day without hesitation.

Much of the backbone here is noticeably Swedish psych rock. There's an obvious lineage of sound a la Qoph, Dungen, Witchcraft, etc. Goat only uses this as a canvas. Front and center are tributes to Ethiopiques,   Nigerian Rock from the 70's, and even Indian / Packistani pop and traditional. Some tracks are heavy and somber, some disco / afrobeat, some folk.

When I read the term Afro-Kraut used to describe them, I was quite turned on. This is possibly the best sub-genre you could toss at my brain. Keep your ears on this one, and look for Rocket Recordings to finally show up in the spotlight. They've been releasing incredible underground psych for years and their time is coming.

Get it HERE 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Asei Kobayashi & Mickey Yoshino - Hausu OST (Nippon Columbia, 1977)

I think the Criterion Collection synopsis describes this film best in one sentence, "An episode of Scooby Doo directed by Mario Brava." So, with that in mind, you can imagine how strange the soundtrack must be. Its not your typical horror music at all. Then again, when do the Japanese do anything typical? Its actually light on the spooky and heavy on the slap bass. Yep, aliens came to earth and made a score based on funky slap rhythm section, flute, piano, and synth. To be honest, some of the tracks have borderline porn sounds, and I prefer to  disregard the piece that sounds as though Steely Dan were scoring Saturday morning cartoons. Although, this is supposed to be trippy, so whatever. Truly bizarre music, especially when paired with watching the film.

Get it HERE

Electric Flag - The Trip OST (1967)

Welcome to another bizarre journey starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, written by Jack Nicholson and directed by Roger Corman. This one is scored by The Electric Flag, a short-lived but top notch band consisting of Mike Bloomfield, Buddy Miles, Harvey Brooks, Barry Goldberg and Nick Gravenites.

To be honest, out of context, this one may not do much for you. Its not the wildest trip but its still a good one. This band was more blues rock in its skill set, and this is not the type of psychedelic music that's hip these days. That being said, I still recommend it. Dig.

Get it HERE

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Radian - Tg11 (Rhiz / Editions Mego, 2000)

This is an incredible band that I hadn't thought abut in years. Radian is an Austrian trio of musicians who play acoustic and electronic instruments. The magic about them is that they play their acoustic instruments so precisely, you'd think this were just another electronic act. Lots of low end bass guitar feedback and buzzing is layered with mechanistic drum kit playing and high frequency synth melodies akin to the Raster Noton family of minimalism. Lots of analog glitches, clicks and cuts, and pastiche. And oh so much quiet, so much that it will remind you of Supersilent. Soul for the soulless machine. Lovely stuff for the funk challenged geeks out there.

Read full review of Tg11 - RADIAN on ©

Hopscotch Festival, Raleigh, NC, 2012

Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, the financial district, not where one would expect to find avant garde, experimental, punk, psych or metal music. Well, this weekend was different. In the midst of debutante balls, rich girls drunkenly trying to retain their balance while in stilettos, and the machismo of jocks / douchebags galore, was the third year of a fantastic music festival.  

My first experience on Thursday night was to be one of the best shows I'd see all weekend. Jon Mueller's Death Blues was a percussion led trip into primal esoterica. His brooding ritualistic rhythms pounded out a motorik blues you'd expect from a former Table of the Elements artist. Two guitars were laid on tabletops and hammered with sticks, tapping out only the darkest minor melodies. The addition of two female vocalists added to the penitent sackcloth and ashes aesthetic laid down by the low end of the dirgey upright bass. Comparable only to recent Swans in its ferocity, this band pulls no punches.

Ordinarily, I would've been disappointed by anything that had to follow an act like that but not when its a master guitar player like Bill Orcutt. The no wave noisenik from Harry Pussy played a gorgeous solo set at the local unitarian church. A half hour of twisted classical /  blues / americana emanated from this restless improviser. 

After that lovely set, I made my way over to see Liars. This proved to be a disappointment, as they were put in a giant auditorium. Boomiest show I've ever heard. It basically sounded as though I were listening to the entire thing while in the bathroom at a stadium. I'm not really sure if the set was good or not. I stayed for a cut from Drums not Dead, and left when it shifted into what felt like a cliche Brooklyn hipster dance party. 

Sadly departing, I hiked over to check out Thee Oh Sees as my closer of the evening. To my surprise, this psychedelic garage punk rock band was actually as tight live as they sound on their records. With punchy, high energy jangly pop, this band lays down nasty, addictive hooks and knows how to entertain a crowd.

Friday started with a bang. Three Lobed records hosted a showcase beginning at noon. Although I was jacked on coffee by the time the first act started, I doubt I would've really needed it. A blistering onslaught of skronking free jazz noise was a wakeup call even to those that had expected it. The brilliant trio of Alan Bishop on bass, Bill Orcutt on electric guitar and Chris Corsano on drums roared through the crowd for a few pieces, resolving in a fucked up blues number reminiscent of Scratch Acid. Just as fast as it began, it was over. In true lunatic style, Alan bishop threw condoms into the crowd stating, "Here's some expired condoms. Go fuck yourselves."

Here's two thirds of the trio from a week before:

The high energy was contrasted by the following act, yet no one minded. Chuck Johnson played a somber and lovely 12 string set that enchanted the entire crowd. His style is comparable to anyone from Steffen Basho-Junghans to Jack Rose. Impeccable and truly moving.


The utter highlight of my weekend was David Daniell's slot. What was supposed to be a solo set ended up with Daniell asking Chris Corsano and Oren Ambarchi to join him on stage. I really can't even describe how great this was. Heavy guitar drone from Daniell, with all sorts of classic Ambarchi organ-like tone and melody generation building into a wall that Corsano tore down with his sweeping washes of subtle drumming. Absolutely gorgeous.  Overheard quite a few folks saying it was the best set they'd ever seen live.

Though a couple decades younger than Chuck Johnson, William Tyler had no trouble lending his guitar stylings to the crowd. His very individual style of looping and storytelling definitely did the trick.

This is another version of my favorite piece he played.

After all of this, the festival hadn't even started for Friday yet. The great thing about Hopscotch is all the free day parties all over downtown. I took a few hours off before heading to the main stage at City Plaza for a very old, tired and boring set from Jesus and Mary Chain. Maybe they don't care anymore, or maybe they were just playing an accessible set for a mainstream festival crowd, either way it was not for me. The set list comprised latter day pop ditties that felt stagnant and sterile, devoid of any feedback or noise. All I wanted was Psychocandy, and I eventually got a piece. Yep, you guessed it, a lifeless rendition of "Just Like Honey", no doubt due to its appearance on the "Lost in Translation" soundtrack. 

Glad to get the hell out of that reunion nightmare, I caught a bit of the immensely talented Cul de Sac guitarist, Glenn Jones. Not only did his meditative playing relax me, but I got another dose of Chris Corsano, as he asked the young drummer to join him for his closing number. Keep your eyes peeled for any youtube clips of this one. It was sheer bliss. Here's a clip of Glenn solo for the unfamiliar:

I headed to the next venue, excited to see one of the many current Sacred Bones sensations, Pop. 1280. A wild, claustrophobic forty minutes ensued, as these post-punks offered up heaping servings of The Birthday Party, Chrome and Sonic Youth style no wave and synth punk. This was my second time seeing them and it was just as solid a set. 

This is a clip from the actual show that night, with my PBR obstructing some of the view:

Closing out Friday night was a driving minimal set from UK heavy psych band White Hills. Great show from a trio that sounded more like a sextet. It was intense and no frills, Hawkwind meets krautrock, just as it should have been.


Saturday evening's violent thunderstorm ended just in time for another lovely synth and guitar ambient drone
set from the duo Quiet Evenings. This couple that owns the wonderful Georgia tape label Hooker Vision, also makes music under their solo names, Grant Evans, as well as Motion Sickness of Time Travel (Rachel Evans).

The other Sacred Bones act was next on my agenda. Amen Dunes' last record really spoke to me. I honestly didn't expect his somber and haunting pop to translate well live, but it certainly did, even in a stripped down context. Great vocal style, intriguing guitar, and a very tasteful drummer.

I unfortunately missed most of the Charlotte, NC band Young and in the Way, but the brief amount I witnessed was astounding. This blackened crust band is well worth a listen. 

The welcome surprise of the entire weekend was San Franscisco occult experimental band Sutekh Hexen. Black metal meets drone in the most interesting way I've ever heard. Long quiet ambient interludes gave way to painfully loud walls of noisy yet controlled metal drone. Pummeling even without a drummer, this act really impressed me.


And last but not least, closing out the whole weekend was Sunn O))). Over two hours of detuned guitars at an appalingly low bass frequency was complimented once again by the great Hungarian black metal vocalist, Atilla Csihar. I appreciated this show so much more than usual because O'malley and Anderson walked off stage and we were treated to half an hour of Atilla's incredible vocals amidst only Moog synth tones, before another round of the standard routine. Say what you may about this band, but there's no better physiological concert experience. Truly Unforgettable. 

Here's an example, but never forget that watching videos of Sunn O))) does not do them justice. You must hear them live or listen on a stereo with proper bass response:

Overall, an amazing weekend. I would've seen more but the lineup was so good that I had to choose between one of three acts I wanted to see in almost every time slot. This was my second year of attending Hopscotch and I was once again impressed with the organization of everything. These guys do it right. I highly recommend attending in the future. Very affordable and intimate in almost every venue.