Thursday, March 24, 2011

Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn (2003)

Do Make Say Think's 4th full-length, and one of the greatest post-rock albums I'm aware of. Post-rock is often the genre I connect with most on an emotional level, except maybe for punk which is for completely different reasons. The genre offers long soundscapes that allow for a close relationship to develop between the listener and the music. In an almost cunning manner, albums like this will latch on to your senses, even if you're preoccupied doing something else while listening, so that each crescendo and moment of near-silence weighs so much heavier on your emotions. Do Make Say Think nail this technique on this disc, with a mixture of uplifting and sombre feelings throughout. It has a nice jazz influence, like Tortoise that sets it apart from most, more repetitive post-rock, and the percussion section is damn tight. get it in comments

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Art Bears - Hopes and Fears (1978)

While a lot of bands were blazing their own, totally unique musical trails in the late 70s, Art Bears were an avant-rock group that chose to piece bits of the previous musical decades together until they fit into a half-coherent, creepy musical collage. Combining elements of folk, jazz, noise, and blues, the bears capitalized on the Beefheart equation for success, and subsequently gained their share of punkoid followers. Their name, in legend may not precede them now, but their short-lived legacy lasts on today with a few fairly mythical albums.

This is their debut album Hope and Fears from 1978. It's very strangely strung together, and sometimes it's a little hard to follow, but if yo stick with it it unfolds into a really unique musical moment. There's a lot of bits. It's freaky. There's deep strings that are vaguely reminiscent of a Bernard Herrmann score, there's a lot of off-kilter noise, and there's a hand full of eerie, creepy, and lonely narratives that intersect throughout the course of 13 tracks.

And, if you can't find the path by the first couple tunes, go to track 7, "Terrain." It'll put you on the right track.

This album should also serve as proof of American music's supremacy over British music. Like I said, they try to pull off the Beefheart thing, and it works sometimes, but the redcoats just don't have the soul...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Roots Presents: Dilla Joints

One of my favorite hip-hop acts (and few that is currently still going) covering one of my favorite producers, J Dilla, as a RIP tribute. It's very calming and although I don't recognize any of the Dilla samples on it, Questlove is unbelievable at applying his style to other works. Check it out in the comments, and see our How I Got Over post, also released and winning a grammy in 2010.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheers from the oldCrippledmen!

May your glass be ever full,
May the roof over your head be always strong,
And may you be in heaven
Half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.

Take a load off, work is the curse of the drinking class. Here's the infamous Pogues' 2nd album, Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash, produced by Elvis Costello in 1985. Just about everyone has it, as its sort of the American go-to album on St. Patrick's Day. I'd love to say I was familiar with more traditional Irish music, but thats not very realistic and I suppose I don't actually care all that much. Anyhow, this album is punk infused Irish folk that can really bring the raucous on a night like tonight. It's packed with beautiful ballads like "I'm A Man You Don't Meet Everyday" while at the same time consistently revealing tracks more along the lines of what the album's title suggests. I hope everyone has a chance to relax a throw a few back this evening, regardless of how far fetched and distant the holiday is from your real cultural background. Link in comments. Cheers!

The Pogues - Sunny Side Of the Street

The Pogues and The Dubliners - Whiskey In The Jar

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Emotional Fascism: Words from Elvis in the 70's

Not quite as fuck-it-all as the punks, and not quite as sensitive as the sappy pop of the time, Elvis Costello wrote lyrics in a way told people he did give a fuck-- in the smartest and most bitter of fashions. And it kind of made his contemporaries look like jack-asses.

"Now that your picture's in the paper getting rhythmically admired/and you can have anyone that you have ever desired".
-from "Welcome To the Working Week", My Aim Is True (1977)
One of my favorite opening lines of all time from my favorite debut record. Anyone could have written a masturbation reference about the borderline crude and pagan relationship we have with celebrities, but Elvis's lyrics flow like waves as the "oohs" and "aahs" pleasuringly coast each line to the next. While writing My Aim Is True, Costello was working overtime as a computer programmer in London, and he was already writing songs about the dreary and drab world he lives in.

"You either shut up or get cut up, they don't wanna hear bout it, it's only inches on the reel-to-reel/and the radio is the hands of such a lot of fools, trying to anaesthetise the way that you feel".
-from "Radio, Radio" 7" (1978)
One of the smartest stick-it-to-the-man songs ever written, and has grown to infamy since the legendary SNL appearance. When Elvis and the Attractions were asked to appear on Saturday Night Live, Columbia Records and SNL made Elvis promise to play a single from My Aim Is True, "Less Than Zero" for their performance in order to commercially boost interest in the record. About the 10 seconds into the song, Elvis turns around to his band and yells "Stop! Stop!", apologizes to the audience, remarking "there's no reason to play this song here". He then calls out for "Radio, Radio", counts off and the band rips into the song-- a song distinctly about corporate interests manipulating the artistry of music. watch the video in the comments.
and listen to how he makes such a ballsy word like anaesthetise just drip from his mouth.

"There's a smart, young woman on a bright, blue screen that comes into my house every night. And she takes all the red, yellow, orange and green and she turns it into black and white."
-from "Green Shirt", Armed Forces (1979)
A brilliant tune with complex and unbelievably sticky melodies. Elvis often portrays his disdain for encroaching authority (the entire Armed Forces theme), and "Green Shirt" along with "Oliver's Army" is the smartest portrayal of this. Government paranoia, controlled-media distortion, superficial cover ups. But that almost sounds cliche. The lyrics are so spare and funny and fluctuated that none of this is really evident until you think about it. He paints certain scenes until the whole songs just makes sense and you realize 'shit, this guy is pissed off and he's writing about some serious stuff '.

"Oh, Alison, my aim is true."
-from "Alison" My Aim Is True (1977)
"Oh, I said 'I'm so happy, I could die'/ She said 'drop dead' and then left with another guy."
-from "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" My Aim Is True (1977)
Elvis also tackled the complicated issue of love and relationships. Of course, he put his own bitter and retrospective stance on it. In "Alison", he relents to his ex, "my aim is true". He could be trying to win her back or threatening her with a loaded gun. And the "Red Shoes" line is just brilliantly biting and heartbreaking.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Neon Boys - That's All I Know (Right Now)

It's almost hot outside on the sidewalk. Get ready.

Here's Hell and Verlaine's first stuff. This was like '72. New York.

Two young guns playing some of the best rock n' roll.

So open up your mouth here comes the airplane.

And while you're at it check out the Yoof's cover from the Goo deluxe edition.

Both in comments.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic

This catchy garage pop album circa 2003 by the Exploding Hearts was their debut and only full length. It is catchy as hell and the group obviously worshiped bands like the Buzzcocks and early Clash. There's a lot of energy exploding out of the first half, and even though it loses a bit of steam near the end, its pretty damn rockin. Tragically 3/4 of the members died in a van crash in 2004, because these guys lay down garage/punk totally in tune with my taste.

Check it out in the comment zone.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2011 so far

2011 has been a pretty good year of music so far and I like to keep thinking that it will continue to destroy 2010.   Outside of all of the highly anticipated releases, a lot of bands are starting to create pretty big names for themselves with some pretty fucking good albums.
     Firstly I would like to give a shout out to Peaking Lights and their most recent effort 936 which is a vast improvement over anything they have ever done.  It brings a fusion of psychedelic pop with dub which along with some high-quality low-fi production provide for a wholly original tape that rides smoothly the whole way through.   Heavily reverberated vocals appear to be strategically placed throughout the album and used more to create layers of sound, often which is chilling.  All-in-all, this is one of the most solid neo-psychedelia albums out there in it's lush synths, steady bassline, creepy delay-ladden guitars, solid production, as well as sheer originality. I wouldn't be surprised if this album is up there in my top albums of the year come December.
     Next in line we have Gruff Rhys and his February release of pop-sensation Hotel Shampoo.  Gruff is the leader of everybody's favorite Super Furry Animals and has constructed a quirky and somewhat trivial album that just screams fun-loving summertime.  It's all pretty soft stuff, with most of the tracks being around 3 minutes long. What is so enticing about the album is just the overall relaxing feel that is most prominently displayed in Gruff's soft voice and quaint lyrical jostlings. The album is very well balanced and flows in and out of catchy and upbeat songs to tracks that just don't have a whole lot going on.  check em out.

Monday, March 7, 2011

American Candy

You know how it is. Listen to an album you haven't heard since sophomore year in high school and it's like remembering a fuzzy dream. This weekend I was able to go a step further, though. I pulled out the 7" collection that I amassed a couple years ago, so in this case, instead of just re-living certain dreams, I got to touch and feel the characters. It was surreal.

I guess I listened to these records for two hours straight. I'd just sit or stand patiently for two minute intervals while the songs were playing, then hastily jump to to the turntable and pull the needle off when the songs were done, and either flip it to the B-side or throw on a new one. This action--a totally active listening experience--reminded me why I liked listening to records in the first place. I know we've all heard this argument from sometimes self-righteous vinyl listeners before, but it is just a totally different listening experience. You have to work. And also, because of the simple and somewhat crude nature of the technology, you find yourself on the edge of your seat, staring at the needle, hoping that at any contorted blast of feedback or scream doesn't send the needle flying off the slick black surface onto the fuzzy mat. That's the cool thing. It's like a little rock concert. It's always fun because it call could fall apart at any second.

That gets me to the records. I can't upload them all here, but I'll share a few with you that were specifically hot.

The first I put on was the Thermals' 2007 A Pillar of Salt. If you know the Thermals, or this song specifically, then you know their songs are pure rock n' roll. Pure yoooth. Excited lyrics about "our dirty bodies," and "escaping" (from where?) get you every time. Cause you forget sometimes. There're a lot of squares out there I've heard. It's war. And there's hope. And to whatever the A-side challenges, the B-side affirms. "Product Placement" may be my favorite B-side of all time. The song only has one message. There's a lot of cool shit out there that we haven't seen, and we gotta. There's strange people and hip music out there that we haven't heard. It's a hopeful message, man, not a sad one. Dig- you'll never hear it all. There's enough for us all. We gotta have it. Don't you wanna?

Another group of EPs that I listened to was a handful of Butterglory 7"s from the mid-90s. I've always been fond of Butterglory because they remind me that there must have been thousands of bands like them in the 90s. They're all cool, but they all kinda sound like putting your finger on a post-punk record while it slows down and making it a bit more melodic. Jangly. Maybe a bit more like Dream Syndicate. My favorite are Cursive, Our Heads, and Wait for Me. They showcase a band that found their niche and fit perfectly into a pop storyline of the time. I mean it makes sense that all were released on Merge--they've always had a fairly sucessful roster of inde-pop-rock artists that have jsut enough edge, yet remain lovable and somewhat safe. Matt Suggs and Debby Vander Wall trade off vocal duties, and its effect is magic. If I absolutely had to make a comparison, I'd say Beat Happening, but a little less scatterbrain and a lot catchier.

These songs are perfect evidence for my previous vinyl claims. I would never have heard their music if not for a strangely large collection of their 7"s at Vintage Vinyl. And even if I would have, I definitely wouldn't have gotten into them like this. There's something special about getting into an artist two songs at a time, instead of all-you-can-eat portions from the internet. It's a blessing and a curse.

John Lennon-- Some Time In New York City (1972)

Critically disregarded and commercially unimpressed, Lennon's third post-Beatles album is the gutsiest music he's ever recorded.
Some Time In New York City has Chuck Berry rock 'n roll ("New York City"), radical politics ("Woman is the Nigger of the Wold", "Attica State") and two tracks on Irish misfortune ("Sunday Bloody Sunday", and the satirical "The Luck of the Irish").

So it's clear why this often abrasive and politically charged record didn't give the Lennon fan clubs more of the Beatles-carry over heard on Imagine or even Plastic Ono Band. Lennon and Yoko had just moved to New York City. They were living in Greenwich Village. Immediately, they joined wits with leftist pranksters Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and whatever other yippies were around. He was writing protest songs about people getting busted with joints and how women were "the nigger of the world". It's Imagine with a clenched fist.

The songs don't reach the substantialness of the previous solo efforts form John, and no tracks from New York City will ever make another posthumous Lennon compilation album, but anyone who questions the rawness of Lennon, should check this record out. grab it in the comments.

also, dig the picture of a butt-naked Nixon and Mao two-steppin' it on the news print cover.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Zero 7

     Sorry world, posting has been somewhat sparce for me last month due to the death of my computer and egregious amounts of work from my professors and whatnot. I think it's also just the time of year that's getting to me as well. We all know what it is, the agonizing doldrums that lie between the end of winter and the beginning of Spring.  Most of Winter's blows have come and gone and now there is nothing left to do but wait for better times.   Midterms are coming up real fast as well and things are just stressing me out.   Coming back from my morning classes when I know I have a lot of work to get done and I need to get into that groove, zero 7 can provide the jingles.
     Cutting the shit: Zero 7 are a pretty damn good downtempo group that I would say rival some of the best in the genre such as AIR and some Massive Attack, regardless of being a clear derivative.  If you dig ambient, this is pretty much the same thing frosted with a bit of electronic meanderings and a beat. Regardless, downtempo is pretty much the leader in chill out background noise as it is very rhythmically interesting while also being very modest, usually lacking vocals. While their latest albums are pretty decent, I tend to think their earlier albums are much better, most notably 2001's Simple Things.  Simple Things is the perfect unwind after a tough day' labor as the flow of the songs bring about an almost hypnotic state. Sure some of the songs on the album one could say are just "fillers" but the whole point of the album is to be one giant mental "filler" anyway so don't let it bother you. Check it.