Thursday, February 24, 2011

John Zorn- Naked City (1988)

I've had the same experiences listening to the relentlessly shifty and tense recordings of Zappa's "Over-Nite Sensation" and Al Di Meola's "Land of The Midnight Sun". It's so over the top and brilliant and complex, that your mind is left hanging only by a thread-- the rest has been blown to hell.

I've never heard anyone quite do it like John Zorn and his band on Naked City.

Every fucking second of this record (and there's 26 tracks of schizophrenic madness) portrays some different twist of avant-garde pleasures : hardcore, schmaltzy 80's jazz, fusion, blues, funk, punk, heavy as fuck, grindcore, country, you name it.

At points, the sound is so film noir, it could be a score. At other instances, like the middle eight tracks, the band manages to record some of the wildest and thrashiest and heaviest music I've ever heard. And it's all composed so tightly and carefully, I'm threatened to say it's the best music out there.

Dig this shit.

New Dead of '92 Songs

It's been a couple years since I bought the first self-recorded and self-released Dead EP. And as impressed as I initially was then, I am even more impressed with the improvements the band has made on this second release. The playing is a little more nuanced and unique than their first offering, and the lyrics offer much more complexity and intrigue. Very bluesy. A little folky. If you like Pavement, you'll dig this.

Try it on here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tape #1: Love

Here's a mixtape I've been foolin' around with lately. I started making it unaware of its final theme, but throughout the process a lot of the songs seemed like love songs (of various sorts), so it evolved into a lovetape. And that's it. There's really no other theme but that. I tried to keep the tone somewhat consistent, but besides that there's really not much all these artists have in common. Enjoy.

Here Goes:
1. "I Can't Control Myself" - The Troggs - From Nowhere... The Troggs (1966)

2. "Sleepy Head" - Beat Happening - You Turn Me On (1992)

3. "Blue" - The Rain Parade - Explosions in the Glass Palace (1984)

4. "We Love You" - The Psychedelic Furs - The Psychedelic Furs (1980)

5. "Sitting in the Park" - Quix*O*Tic - Mortal Mirror (2002)
[Originally written and performed by Billy Stewart.]

6. "Anything Could Happen" - The Clean - Boodle Boodle Boodle (1981)

7. "Tom Courtenay" - Yo La Tengo - Electr-O-Pura (1995)

8. "Run Run Run" - The Stimulators - Loud Fast Rules 7" (1980)

9. "Treason" - The Bats - Daddy's Highway (1987)

10. "Where There's Woman" - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Safe as Milk (1967)

11. "100,000 Fireflies" - Superchunk - The Question is How Fast (1993)
[Originally written and performed by The Magnetic Fields.]

12. "Death and the Maiden" - The Verlaines - Juvenilia (1987)

13. "Pegan Baby" - Bratmobile - Girls Get Busy (2002)

14. "Hey Little Girl" - Dead Boys - Young, Loud, and Snotty (1977)

15. "Crush" - Tall Dwarfs - Hello Cruel World (1988)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978)

When Chicago had its first, therapeutically nice weather week of 2011 last week, I brought this album out for its similar medicinal feel. It's Eno's typical ambient, atmospheric style, but in this case it's also so very uplifting and almost nostalgic feeling.
After listening to it a few times, I took particular note of how the album works with its title. I'm not sure if Eno views airports as settings for hope and moving on or for depression and the sadness of saying goodbyes in such a dreary place, but either way the album connects with the sense of loss we feel when we are at the airport and aren't the one getting on the flight. Although seemingly sad, I find the album uplifting in that it creates beauty by connecting so well to a seemingly painful aspect of humanity. Just try it out, toss it on, and contemplate some things for awhile.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Refresh the Calendars: King of Limbs TODAY

After shocking the hell out of all us by announcing the release of their eighth album King of Limbs earlier this week, Radiohead thought they may as well release it one day earlier--today. It's a new day, folks, and I'm looking forward to this album defining my next couple weeks.

I'm about two listens in, and though I won't spoil the suspense, I will say this: it's the most natural album they've made. I won't call it a masterpiece, yet--I'm not quite qualified at a mere two listens--but there's some goddamned beautiful moments.

King of Limbs is available digitally for only 9 bones on the album website. Do yerself a solid and buy it here.


Dig the music video for the kick-ass "Lotus Flower" here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

David Dondero - Zero With A Bullet (2010)

Former leader of the Minnesota-based band Sunbrain, David Dondero crafts a pretty cool, rockin album here for a dude making independent music in his forties. I was turned onto him through his touring involvement with David Bazan, and really dug his tune "Jesus From 12 to 6" after first hearing it. Sort of an alt-country influenced album that chugs throughout. The album's not totally consistent as far as individual songs go, but it's worth checkin out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rhymin & Stealin: Words on the Beastie Boys (1980's)

If the Beastie Boys would have followed their 1986 goof-hop debut License To Ill with another collection of high-twined, consciously-obnoxious, ego-tippin', rock-rap songs, then they probably would have drifted into hip hop history as a kind of joke for being the three white kids from upper-middle class Brooklyn who unintentionally spear-headed frat-rap. Not to say I don't love License To Ill-- I do, it's a fucking classic--but the Boys needed something to back up their words. Or maybe not, because no matter what anyones says about the Beasties, there will always be something hilarious about three white dudes who really just love to party shouting lines like "Father to many, married to none/And in case you're unaware I carry a gun", and then follow it up with "Because bad news is what we're all about/We went to White Castle and got thrown out".

Paul's Boutique then, released in '89, followed License. They still love girls, drinking Buds and pretending they're outlaws ("High Plains Drifter"), but, in part because of their collaboration with the Dust Brothers, the sampling and beats are undeniably revolutionary for late 80's. It may be part of the reason to why the record flopped upon release. What kinds of frat brethren want to drunkenly dance and mack to songs about a K-Mart shoplifter cruisin' through the countryside, swearing he'll "bust a Travis Bickle when I feel I'm getting pushed"? "Sound of Science" shows off the best Beatles sample I've ever heard, "Hey Ladies" is simply funky as hell, and the 13-minute closer suite "B-Boys Bouillabaisse" includes tales of Mike D chasing tail and getting drunk at a Red Lobster.

If License To Ill is the introduction to the Beastie's world, begging the questions, "are these guys just joking around?", "did Ad-Rock really pop that guy in the back?", then Paul's Boutique is their masterpiece. Of course he didn't pop a dude in the back. And of course they are joking, but only kind of. Because after all, the music is really just a goddamned blast to listen to. And I will never stop fighting for my right -- for my right to party.

"If I played guitar, I'd be jimmy Page/ All the girlies I like are underage. Check it!"
find the two greats below

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Math and Physics Club- Weekends Away EP (2005)

I feel like such a goon saying this, but twee pop will always hold a special place in my heart. There isn't any other genre that it able to put me at such ease with the humbling simplicity that echoes the innocence of youth, dreams, and fairy tales.  With the Weekends Away EP, catchy melodies and tickling lyrics evoke a very joyous and nostalgic sentiment. It is special because it really encompasses the feelings of what twee pop is all about with short and sweet jingles concerning two lovers on a summer night and dreams of getting famous.  If you have ever enjoyed similar acts such as Belle and Sebastian or the Lucksmiths, be sure to give this one a go.

Bob Dylan in 1989

Oh Mercy, 1989
Late 80s Dylan, and awesome. I was really happen to hear this one break the mold of crummy 80s Dylan albums. It still has an 80s time stamp, but it has a nice continuity and the lyrics are pretty fresh. The "Where Teardrops Fall" sax solo is awesome. Of course it's not better than any of his work before and including Hard Rain, but similar to the reason Obama won the nobel peace prize, Bob Dylan can be heralded for releasing an album that is at least not on the level of its predecessors. A sign that he's still got some sweet tricks in the bag. Try it in the comments.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Coachmen - Failure to Thrive (1988)

There are few records in my modest collection that I take more pride in than the Coachmen's Failure to Thrive. And it's not because it consistently sells for over $100. It's because it's original, raw proof of a an aspiring (yet, ironically, failing to thrive) Thurston Moore trying to link the older generation of New York cool (The Velvets, Television...) with the new sounds of downtown Manhattan (Teenage Jesus, Mars, The Contortions, Glenn Branca...).

To me, it's the perfect link. The JD King/Thurston Moore combination weaves sharp, choppy, zig-zagging guitar with (somewhat) melodic chord changes. It's edgy. It's nervous. It's a little nerdy. And while they might not of had the chops of Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine, they certainly create a self-enclosed guitar world that echoes the glowing urban night that Television classics made me dream of. And the obviously self-interested and monotone lyrics are a reminder that the band comes after a long line of "hip" snotty downtown kids surviving in a burnt-out, boarded-up, and filthy New York in the late 1970s. (Don't let the release date confuse you. All the material was recorded in 1978-1979, but this demo LP wasn't released until after people were digging Sonic Youth, in 1988.)

Naw, it's not it's not perfect, but it's something to have, aint it? Albums like this continually remind us that music isn't static. The sounds are changing. Everything influences everything. And maybe its also a bittersweet reminder of how closely geography music used to be. Because this album represents scenes that weren't even "city-specific," but were "neighborhood-specific." Following closely on the heels of this album would be the No Wave scene that literally encompassed a handful of lower Manhattan blocks and neighborhoods. Aint that beautiful? These kids white kids didn't really have much as far as musical chops, but they created their own, self-sustaining music scene in which they controlled everything. Kool.

**Sorry, it's the biggest picture I could find that worked.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Some Snow Day Picks

We got a snow day in Chicago today. It was awesome. The school hasn't had one since the mid seventies. Everyone's really happy slugging away the day away from classes. Here's some things I've been digging through to give my fellow snow day hooligan fill the day's time.

Here's an awesome compilation called Psych Funk Sa-Re-Ga!, a collection of world psychadelic funk classics I listened to a bunch yesterday. Grab a copy in the comments.

This is an unbelievable track from the Fleet Foxes Spring album release that they chose to release early. I've forgotten how amazing Robin Pecknold is over the last year. They're new release is going to blow me away, I can feel it.
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

To follow up my last Tom Waits post, I began some heavy listening to this 1974 follow up, which I'm thinking I might even like more than closing time. The opening track, "New Coat Of Paint" just hits home so hard for me. He's still nailing the piano ballads and sounding nothing like the Tom Waits I thought I knew. I put this one in the comments too.

Pretty Lights has released a remix of Kanye West’s new track, “All Of The Lights,” which he debuted on New Year’s Eve at the Congress Theatre right here in Chicago.
Kanye West - All of the lights (Pretty Lights remix)

Pretty cool party mixtape from this Brooklyn rap outfit.
Das Racist - Check Yo Ponytail Mix Tape