Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Veda Rays

Another pretty good record I almost missed...the first from Brooklyn-based Veda Rays, Gamma Rays Galaxy Rays Veda Rays, which seems to have come out at some point last year and has probably been sitting on top of my desk for months. It reminds me a lot of Achtung Baby-era U2...yes, that large in scale and ambition, though obviously recorded with far fewer resources. You can also draw connections to more critically-accepted bands like Spaceman 3 and Radiohead. (and, by the way, for the record, I kind of like U2 in small doses and up through about Achtung Baby)

"Honey Pot" is probably the album's best, dark and clattery and gothy in the verse, but reaching out of the murk, occasionally, for triumphant Bunnyman-ish climaxes. It's the video, too.

Sonic Avenues

This new album from Montreal's Sonic Avenues is quite good, but it gave me a vaguely queasy feeling that it was attempting generational anthems for a generation that doesn't exist anymore...if it ever did. My review at Dusted today:

Sonic Avenues
Television Youth

The last generation of television youth has already crossed puberty, succeeded in malls and 7-11 parking lots and all-ages clubs by a group of kids raised on YouTube and Facebook and texting. It’s been a long time since anyone rushed home after school for Gilligan’s Island or zonked for most of a summer in front of MTV.

All this is a way of saying thatTelevision Youth is an anachronism, not just in its musical references – The Jam, The Clash, The Only Ones and certain harder-edged elements of The Kinks – but in its way of looking at the world. It’s just not the same being a punk kid in a dead-end town anymore. No matter where you live, no matter how far away the nearest rock club or comic book store, there are kids just like you at the other end of your Wi-Fi connection. It’s harder work to be alienated. The romantic figure at the center of pop-leaning punk – from The Clash’s Jimmy Jam to Green Day’s St. Jimmy to The Exploding Hearts’ pretender – isn’t up against the world by himself anymore.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Carlos Paredes..an amazing Portuguese guitarist

A really fine reissue from Drag City of two albums from Portuguese guitar master, Carlos Paredes...

Carlos Paredes
Guitarra Portuguesa; Movimento Perpétuo
(Drag City)

Carlos Paredes was a master of the Coimbrian guitar, a shortened, rounded version of the instrument, strung with six sets of double wire that was developed partly by his father, Arthur Paredes, also a famous guitarist. Born in 1925, Paredes lived and played through one of Portugal's most tumultuous periods, and was jailed as a communist in 1958. While imprisoned and instrument-less, he continued to write and develop his technique, incessantly playing an imaginary guitar so that the guards thought he had lost his mind. His music, which combined the rigor of classical styles with the emotionally expressive traditions of fado, became a touchstone for the new Portugal. In 1974, when revolution toppled the country's dictatorship, Paredes' music could be heard at all hours on the radio and in the shops and cafes.

Paredes' two best-known albums -- Guitarra Portuguesa from 1968 and Movimento Perpétuo from 1971 - are works of astonishing skill and emotional depth, melodic sophistication and bravura technical accomplishment. Never available in the United States, they have been out of print even in Portugal since 1989. Drag City, most likely influenced by Ben Chasny, who dedicated 2005's School of the Flower to the guitarist, has reissued both early Paredes albums, with original artwork and Portuguese liner notes (and an English translation).


Golden Calves

My review of an early project from Wooden Wand's James Jackson Toth runs today at Dusted...it's not a uniformly enjoyable listen, but sort of interesting...

Golden Calves
Money Band / Century Band

James Jackson Toth was just 18 when he recorded this material, not long out of Purchase College and just discovering the outer fringes of folk, free jazz and noise. Four-tracked in mostly one- and two-minute bursts, these are fragile, fragmentary ideas, not nearly cooked enough to qualify as songs, not wild enough to make the cut as improvisatory noise. A decade later, critics would take Toth to task for releasing every fucking thing that ever came into his head, exhausted and bewildered by the two and three full-lengths a year that spewed forth under various permutations of the name Wooden Wand. Here is where it starts, Toth, barely legal to vote, already spouting reams of unfinished, tossed off, poorly played, fuzzily recorded, and yet intermittently affecting material.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Screwed again

So yesterday was kind of a crazy day...we had to get up at 5 a.m. to get Sean to a ski race (we got him to the bus and then drove three hours in the car to watch). He did pretty well, though how well we don't really know, because there was a problem with the timing system that will take a couple of days to unravel. (I clocked him at 15:54, which is a significant improvement, but that's unofficial.) So we came back afterwards with one of his friends in the car and had a pretty good diner lunch on the way back, but were all obviously exhausted by 4 when we got back.

Except that I had told a publicist that I would go see Brown Bird in Keene that night (before knowing that I'd be getting up at 5 and driving 300 miles the same day), so around 7:30 I got in the car again and went to the show. The show was at the Starving Artist in Keene, which is a pretty small venue and apparently they have to finish shows at 10 p.m. or violate noise rules. So anyway, I get there just before 8 p.m. when the thing is supposed to start and there's a line all down the block, and we all stand around in the cold for half an hour until they start letting people in. There is no guest line and it's overbooked, although the woman at the door is telling the people ahead of me to wait and they might get in, though they'll have to pay $25 a ticket. (Which seems a little steep for, ahem, Brown Bird and O'Death...and also the poster very clearly says $10 advance, $15 day of show.) So I get to the front and of course there's no guest list, and if I could just go stand out in the cold for another hour maybe they will try to get me in. By this point it is almost 9 p.m. and not a note of music has been played, so I say fuck it, fuck Brown Bird, fuck O'Death and fuck Forcefield PR, and go home.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Imperial Teen

I gave Imperial Teen a five for their last album, The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band, in a PopMatters review subtitled Just add water. That was five years ago, but now they're back with a record that I really, really like, Feel the Sound ....reviewed at Dusted today:

Imperial Teen

Feel the Sound


The last time that Imperial Teen broke a five-year hiatus, with The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band in 2007, it was a bit of a letdown. The old peppy exuberance was stretched thin, the subject matter apologetically drawn from midlife. It sounded like the four principals had gotten distracted by the trappings of maturity and were unable to commit fully to the bubblegum joys of power pop. Sure, there were some good songs, some catchy boy-girl harmonies, some cheeky, in-your-face lines, but the album never caught fire. The band kept reminding listeners of all that had changed over the half decade, never really honing in on what had stayed the same: their fixation with the music.

With Feel the Sound, they’ve left the distractions behind. This fifth full-length, as the album title suggests, is all about the sound. Digging deep into the most elaborate power pop traditions – ELO and the Beach Boys seem like prime reference points – Imperial Teen crafts a super-clean, super-sharp, inordinately complex collection of songs that, nonetheless, go down like cherry cola.


You can stream the whole thing at Spinner now.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cheyenne Marie Mize

Not a total rave, but I did really like the first couple songs on Bonnie Prince Billy compadre Cheyenne Marie Mize's new EP, We Don't Need. The review runs today at Blurt.

Cheyenne Marie Mize
We Don't Need
(Yep Roc)

Cheyenne Marie Mize, out of Louisville, is nothing if not self-assured, taking up every inch of sonic space in her latest six-song EP, strutting and stomping and occasionally revealing heartbreaking vulnerability in a broad range of rock and Americana styles. A versatile singer, she navigates the spoke-sung, blues-y chants of stand-out "Wishing Well," the tremulous self-laceration of "Call Me Beautiful," the road-house diva-isms of "Going Under" and the indie rocking directness of "Keep It" without a miss. She even plays all the instruments - raucous washboard scrapes and cowbell rattles, plaintive guitars and enough piano rolls and slides to make a Western's saloon doors rattle.


"Wishing Well" is, hands down, the best cut on the EP.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Laura Gibson's La Grande

I got into Laura Gibson through her collaboration with Ethan Rose, but her straight folk pop stuff is pretty good, too. Reviewed today at BLurt.

Laura Gibson
La Grande

Laura Gibson has a voice that flutters and trembles, hopping octave-length intervals weightlessly like a bird jumping from a low branch to a higher one. There's cranked Victrola aura of old-time-i-ness around her vocals, sometimes accentuated with static, which makes her sound like an old radio transmission, crossing not just space but time. And, yet, though there's much of the past in these pretty, warmly arranged introspections, there's also a strong thread of determination. Gibson wants to know that she is the lion, not the lamb, the crow and not the swallow. As lovely, as delicate, as seemingly vulnerable to the slightest breeze as she is, Gibson has reservoirs of strength and clarity.


"La Grande"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I've got another review up at Dusted today, this one of Improvisations, the third album by Asa Osbourne's Zomes, in which he turns towards the long-form. It's out this week on Thrill Jockey.

Thrill Jockey

For two full-length albums as Zomes, Asa Osbourne has constructed short, mesmeric meditations out of the most rudimentary materials, squawky keyboards mostly, reinforced by the steady thwack of drum machines and occasional bits of guitar. Over the first two albums, the self-titled debut in 2008 and last year’s Earth Grid, Osbourne kept his compositions concise and disciplined. No track on the debut lingered much past the three and a half minute mark. Earth Grid‘s compositions topped out at just over five minutes. And most, if not all, of these staticky, hypnotic cuts relied on beats to keep them moving.

With Improvisations, originally released as a cassette tape in 2010 by Imminent Frequencies, Osbourne has left movement behind. Three long tracks sprawl over the disc’s half-hour duration, all alike enough to blend into one another, none especially tethered to rhythm.


zomes - improvisations (album preview) by experimedia

I also reviewed the first Zomes album for Dusted.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Another year, another band from Dave Shuford of NNCK, D. Charles Speer and other projects...reviewed today at Dusted.

Thrill Jockey

The word “Rhyton” is Greek for an ancient drinking horn, as well as a homophone for the 1960s all-purpose acclamation “right on!” Rhyton, the band, reflects all these nuances. The band is a partnership between Dave Shuford of NNCK and D. Charles Speer, Jimy SeiTang of Psychic Ills and Spencer Herbst of Messages. It grew out of the ending of Dave Shuford’s Greek-influenced Arghiledes project, started among drinking buddies at a bar in Brooklyn, and borrowed liberally from the open-ended blues-droning, psychedelic experiments of the 1960s.


There's a video for Stone Colored" here".

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fujiya And Miyagi

I've been unexpectedly hooked on Ventriloquizzing, the sublimely unsettling electro-pop record from the U.K.'s Fujiya And Miyagi. It's definitely electronic, but reminds me more of the sleeker, more decadent end of Brit pop, Pulp for instance, and if you have to go to a dance comparison, Death in Vegas is possible. Anyway, it's utterly poised and sophisticated, with just the right amount of menace. "Ecstatic Dancer," which can be had after some hoop-jumping at Yep Roc, is not on the album, but it's the main single and also the video.

No idea what they'd be like live, but you could find out and tell me all about it:

1/21 - Mercury Lounge - NY, NY
1/22 - Great Scott - Allston, MA
1/23 - La Sala Rosa - Montreal, QC
1/24 - Wrong Bar - Toronto, ON
1/25 - Lincoln Hall - Chicago, IL
1/26 - Electric Owl - Vancouver, BC
1/27 - Neumos - Seattle, WA
1/28 - Mississippi Studios - Portland, WA
1/30 - The independent - San Francisco, CA
1/31 - Casbah - San Diego, CA
2/1 - Echo - Los Angeles, CA

Friday, January 20, 2012

More from the floor: Or, the Whale

A very belated shout for the 2009 second release from Or, the Whale, a country-rock band named after the second, less famous half of a Melville title. The band, out of San Francisco, uses all the accoutrements of Americana -- twangy guitar, righteous straight-ahead drums, banjo, tightly harmonized gospel harmonies -- in a way that seems fresh and un-archival. In his review of Or, the Whale two years ago, PopMatters' Joshua Kloke noted that "Or, The Whale succeed where others in the country-rock genre have failed: they keep things very, very authentic."

"Rusty Gold" is, quite possibly, the best of a very strong group of songs, not least because it starts with the line "My dog died and he broke my heart," which, considering that I think about my dog every day, four years after he went, is something I can relate to. It's also pitched at that sharp but loose country level, which reminds me of Neil Young and Oakley Hall and the Band...all outfits that could put a little spine into their down-home and make it rock.

I've been updating Dusted all week, which is way more work than you'd think, especially on dial-up. Last night I thought I'd brought the whole site down, but it came up again about an hour later and now I'm done.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Live Wire ...The Black Sessions

I've been really liking this live Wire record, The Black Sessions, recorded last May in Paris and including 13 tracks from various points in the band's career, including a long, stretched out version of "Pink Flag."

It doesn't look like they're giving any audio or video away with this, but here's the band playing "Pink Flag" in NYC a few years ago.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pazz & Jop

So, I spoke too soon...i've got two loners this year (albums I picked and no one else did)...David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights and UV Race's Homo.

Here's the big site

and here's my ballot.

I think my highest ranking pick was in the 130-ish range...out of touch as usual. Nice to see Shabazz Palaces do so well, though.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Petticoats and crinolines and theremins and violins...

A new one from a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, reviewed today in Blurt.

Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes
Bones for Tinder
(Five Head)

"Petticoats and crinolines and theremins and violins, uh-huh, " goes the chant in "Bright Diamonds," as a deadpan observer itemizes the tipsy, traditionally-instrumented, but anything but old-fashioned stew that Justin Robinson has cooked up in his first post-Carolina Chocolate Drops recording. "Bright Diamonds" builds tension out of old-time elements, a percussive slash of violin, a shimmer of dulcimer, syncopated rhythms of foot thumps and handclaps, and a criss-crossing nexus of spoken word parts that sounds more like hip hop than mountain hop. Like many of the other songs in Bones for Tinder, it starts in folk, but heads unexpectedly in other directions. "Ships and Verses," turn hand-clapping syncopation into a sepia-tinged beat-box, as Robinson raps about "rock[ing] it like old-school Janet. " Classic soul gets a nod, too, in "Vultures." Here Robinson threads a line from Marvin Gaye through eerie glimmers of dulcimer and billowy ribbons of fiddle music, crooning "You're all I need...to get by...oh-oh" in a ghostly cabaret tenor. "Kissin' and Cussin'" could be from Erykah Badu, except for the dulcimer, a slow-jammed, female-MC'd rap running into Robinson's cracked folk verse.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Bollywood Bloodbath

It's just kind of cool that this exists...a compilation of soundtrack music from Indian B horror movies, which, hell, until I saw this on the Dusted board, i didn't even know there were Indian B horror movies.

Anyway, it's a little bit of Bollywood, a little bit of disco, a little bit of scary soundtrack noises....

I'm doing a bunch of administrative stuff for Dusted this week, just what I need, more unpaid work.

Here is Hemant Bhole's "Sansani Khez Koi Baat"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Goldmund, Loney Dear and Michael Yonkers

I did end up reviewing that Goldmund album, All Will Prosper, using some of the same language that I first posted here but, you know, longer.

All Will Prosper
(Western Vinyl)

Composer Keith Kenniff recorded this lovely collection of traditional songs over several years, arranging the melodies simply for piano and guitar, and recording them in an exceptionally clear, unadorned way that nonetheless suggests memory, loss and nostalgia. Many of these mostly Civil War-era songs are very familiar. We are, after all, talking about standards like "Dixie" and "Shenandoah", and ubiquitous spirituals like "Amazing Grace." Yet all have a glow of otherworldliness, of spectral weightless-ness, as if they were the memory of these songs, packed away in dusty attics and captured in faded daguerreotypes, and not the song themselves.


Also, this ran a long time ago in the Blurt fall print issue, but it's online now, my review of Loney, Dear's Hall Music

Loney, Dear
Hall Music

Emil Svanangen has often blown his wistful little pop songs out to grand proportions, whether surrounding them with a jubilant indie chorus, as on Loney, Noir, lacing them with pounding drums on Dear John or, this time out, enlisting classical instruments. Here, on a record inspired by his year-long collaboration with Swedish chamber music orchestras, Svanangen's wavery voice flickers in and out of thickets of brass, plays tag with flights of xylophone and emerges, bruised and pining, from fog-bound forests of synthesizer. A broader palette of instruments, however, seems only to accentuate the personal nature of Svanangen's work.


And finally, my friend Michael alerted me to a new documentary about one of my very favorite rock and roll people, Michael Yonkers, who, you may remember, I interviewed for Dusted a few years ago. Here's the clip that Michael sent me:

Have a nice rest of your weekend then. We're going to go to the Y later to work out and try to catch a little of one of those football games, I think Saints/Niners. Sucks not having TV this time of year.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A sunnier Larkin Grimm

I've been struggling with Larkin Grimm's Soul Retrieval lately. You might remember Grimm as one of Michael Gira's proteges, a dark-ish sort of voice, whose Parplar in 2008, seemed to herald a significant talent. Grimm has a really fascinating story, growing up in redneck country, going to Yale on art scholarship, meeting up with Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth and finally, through a nanny job, establishing a relationship with Michael Gira. [Who said, on hearing her sing, she says, "Girl, you've got the darkness in you."]

Soul Retrieval is substantially lighter than Parplar, happier, even to the point of a whistling chorus. She's gotten married in the interim, had a baby and settled down, which, okay, good for her, I love my family, too, but it's just not as interesting. "there is nothing to worry about...everything's fine," she sings, in a kind of Motown soul voice for "The Road Is Paved With Leaves," and the song is full of ease rather than vertigo, bland assurance rather than danger. I've been listening to Parplar again just to confirm my impression and, yeah, I like it a lot more than Soul Retrieval.

Other people seem to be enjoying it though, see this Village Voice piece "Download: Larkin Grimm's Pulsing, Luminous "Paradise And So Many Colors" .(by Christopher Weingarten) for the positive perspective. There's a download of the album's opening track embedded in the article.

Grimm did a Daytrotter session about six months ago, but it's mostly old material. Check it out here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Habit....crazed Americana from Brooklyn

I'm too late to actually write about this, and, to be honest, it's a little trad for my tastes, but if you like your folk music unhinged and wild-eyed and altogether unconcerned with decorum, why not give Brooklyn's The Habit a spin?

The band has not one but four songwriters, which, perhaps, explains the diversity of musical styles on Lincoln Is Dead, from murmur-y guitar-strumming ballads, to to shuffling skiffles, to full-on, raging barn-stoms like "War Is Done" which just happens to be the single.

They must really like this song, because it's the only one with a video, too.

So that's two Civil War themed blog posts in one week. Let's see if we can't move on to WWI for tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More giant hits from the big floor: Strand of Oaks

Continuing yesterday's theme of appreciating the world around you, going back to things you'd overlooked and finally listening to all the damned CDs that litter the floor, I've gotten pretty into Strand of Oaks' 2009 album Leave Ruin. Strand of Oaks is a mournful, Americana-tinged singer-songwriter project, essentially one Timothy Showalter. Showalter, like me, is from Indiana, but unlike me started life as a Mennonite. He has all the plain-spoken virtues, simplicity, sincerity, a willingness to consider small, concrete details and how they fit into a larger picture. You envision him working a song like a craft, carefully, without any hurry and without a lot of messy elaboration either. I'm liking the father-son dynamic of "Lawn Breed Songs" and "Mourning Worker" the best, but it's a very nice, quiet, understated and honest endeavor all the way through.

Showalter did a Daytrotter session in 2010, which includes "Lawn Breed Songs". You can find it here.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Greatest hits from my floor: Simply Saucer

So, if you read my year-end, you'll know that I'm trying (and mostly failing) to get a grip on the piles of CDs that are threatening to completely submerge my house. (Help, I'm drowning in indie!) I hauled another pile up from the floor and ripped them, pending quality, onto the iTunes a week or so ago, and gotta say, there's some good stuff getting stepped on down there.

I might get to some others later (Strand of Oaks, Hello Marseilles), but for now, let's have a look at this Half Human/Half Life CD, released by Sonic Unyon two or three years ago, and featuring the 1970s Canadian psychedelic-garage-blues-punk band known as Simply Saucer. The name, obviously, derives from Pink Floyd's Saucer Full of Secrets, and the sound, too, borrows heavily from Floyd's pedal-altered interstellar overdrives.

The band broke up almost as soon as it started...there were no proper studio albums at all, just a retrospective called Cyborgs Revisited in 1989, which was named one of the best Canadian albums ever by numerous sources, including Forced Exposure. Half Human/Half Saucer is the product of a 2008 reunion and, as the title suggests, half of it is live and archival, the other half post-reunion new material.

It's good trippy, sprawling, guitar psyche, a little blustery in parts, but well worth a listen. And, even better, I can now walk from the door to the light switch without breaking plastic.

Sao Paulo Underground Trio

So, you might have run into the Chicago Underground Duo (or Trio or Quartet, depending on who shows up), at some point in your wanderings...an ensemble focused around Rob Mazurek, a cornet player from Chicago. Turns out that the number of players is not the only permutation in his equations. He also moved the whole concept to Brazil, found some like-minded players and started the Sao Paulo Underground...reviewed today at Blurt. I said:

"Três Cabeças Loucuras is the group's third album, a lighthearted but not unserious romp through space-age Latin and non-Latin styles. The sound ranges from vibraphone plunking, eccentrically metered Chicago post-rock ("Six Six Eight," which brings along Mazurek's Exploding Star compatriots, John Herndon, Jason Adasiewicz and Matt Lux) to heat-shimmering, electronically embellished Tropicalia ("Pigeon" based on a traditional maracatu and Takara's lilting, hip-shifting "Carambola"). The main constants are complex rhythms, a futuristic use of synths, electronics and effects and Mazurek's high, fever-dream cornet trills, which float like jet trails over jungle-y tangles of funk-jazz syncopation."


Artist: Sao Paulo Underground (feat. Rob Mazurek) - Song: Jagoda's Dream - Album: Tres Cabecas Loucuras by CuneiformRecords

Monday, January 9, 2012

Boring as Me?

Am I the only one left cold by Tom Waits' late 2011 album Bad As Me?

I picked it up over the holidays (with cash money, no less), because it was Blurt's #1 pick, and expected it to be at least interesting. But, god, I could hardly get through it four times without wincing...Waits' oddball persona gets pushed to caricature on the "good" songs ("Chicago", "Bad As Me", "Satisfied", "Hell Broke Luce") and seems thin and flat and hollow on the slower, ballad-y ones ("Kiss Me", "Last Leaf", "New Year's Eve"). I don't see how anyone could pick this as #1 for 2011, unless they had given up on anything new or interesting ever happening again.

Of course, there are lots of people who have. We call them babyboomers.

For the record, I really liked Get Behind the Mule and Swordfish Trombones, but am not a huge, historic, buy-every-album Waits fan.

Maybe you'll like this more than I do.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jennifer O'Connor

Still catching up on a pretty busy end of last week, here's my review of Jennifer O'Connor's I Want What You Want, out since late last year on her own Kiam label.

Jennifer O’Connor
I Want What You Want

“I want what you want,” Jennifer O’Connor confides twice, first in the brief solo guitar and voice treatment of “Another Day” at the beginning of this fifth solo album, and later in a keyboard-driven, pop-leaning reprise of the same song near the end. It’s an interesting sentiment, one that relinquishes, right off the bat, most of the self-centered egotism of contemporary confessional pop. It acknowledges, in a way that it’s hard to imagine Dylan or Darnielle or Ryan Adams or any of our male lyrics-oriented balladeers doing, that the other is primary, that his (or her) desires take precedence, even before knowing exactly what those desires are. O’Connor never really elaborates on what is wanted, or how the whole thing plays out (it seems to end badly). But she does set up a very interesting dynamic, one in which the voice we hear is self-effacing, reticent, and not always the hero of its own stories. All but one of these songs are written in the first person, yet that first person remains in the background, detached, acting mostly as an observer.


"Running Start"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Eddy Current Suppression Ring

I've got a lot of stuff up around the web today, so I thought I'd double up for today with this review of Eddy Current Suppression Ring's career-spanning singles compilation So Many Thing...a total blast and out now on Goner.

Here's my review from Blurt

Eddy Current Suppression Ring
So Many Things
This collection of singles and compilation tracks covers pretty much the entirety of Eddy Current Suppression Ring from their raucous, first-ever single "Get Up Morning" to the dissolute fade-out of last year's "Rush to Relax." Regardless of vintage, it's all fine, loosely constructed punk rock, centered around Brendan Suppression's yowling, drawling, let-it-all-hang-out vocal delivery, but beefed up considerably by the headlong, brutally simple but excellent playing. Iggy Pop is the patron saint of this sort of thing, but you'll also hear shades of the Fall, Radio Birdman and the Troggs.


Eddy Current Suppression Ring - You Don't Care (from the new release "So Many Things") by GonerRecords

Dan Melchior

I posted about Dan Melchior's latest album Catbirds and Cardinals before I even had a copy...on the slim basis of one Soundcloud stream and a spot near the top of WFMU's heavily played list. And, as sometimes happens, a few days later, I had an email exchange with the label, a week or so after that, the full album and then, just before the holidays, an hour-long conversation with Dan Melchior...who is completely fascinating and if you ever have an opportunity to buy him a beer, do it.

So thanks to the miracles of internet communication, I went from "whoa, this sounds like an interesting album," to "here is my completed profile of Dan Melchior" in less than a month. I guess I do some sort of random post on Bryan Ferry now, eh?

Here we go:


The über-prolific lo-fi maven reflects on a recent past beset with personal and professional challenges, but manages to remain optimistic and upbeat.


"Living in America is quite difficult for an English person," says Dan Melchior. "Americans really think they know all about you. And they all think they can do an English accent, which they do, to your face, over and over again."

Melchior has lived in America for more than a decade and during that time has made little headway in convincing the locals that he has no interest in the Gallagher brothers, Posh and Beckham, the Royal family or any of the other topics that that all Brits are supposed (by Americans at least) to obsess over. Yet he is quite British, in his way, from the thick cockney vowels that clot his speech, to his penchant for surreal English comedy, to his obsession with World War II. "English Shame" from his latest (though by no means new; more on that later) album, takes a wry look at America's misguided Anglo-philia, setting trash culture icons like Sting and Jagger up against Melchior's real British heroes.

"William Blake is a hero of mine. J.M.W. Turner is a hero of mine. I just drop those in as people that I would hold up as being English, rather than some of those other people that I would rather forget. They're the equivalent of Carrot Top, you know?" says Melchior. "They're not someone you want to think about when you think about your nationality."

Catbirds and Cardinals is Melchior's 19th full-length in a career that has spanned decades and continents. In the late 1990s, he recorded with cracked primitivist Billy Childish and, later, with Holly Golightly. In the ‘00s, his band, the Broke Revue, signed with In the Red, made three records and toured with the White Stripes, Jon Spencer and Mudhoney. In 2004, he ditched his band and started playing all the parts himself. Dan Melchior Und Das Menace is another way of saying Dan Melchior and Dan Melchior. It's all one guy on all the instruments.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jakob Olausson's Morning and Sunrise

My first Dusted review of the new year...of Ben Chasny favorite Jakob Olausson...

Jakob Olausson
Morning & Sunrise
De Stijl

Jakob Olausson, who divides his time between beet farming and psychedelic home recording, made a modest splash in 2007 with his debut Moonlight Farm, a whispery, ominously beautiful collection of songs that hovered around the borders of new folk, near where the genre began to bleed into experimental drone. If you didn’t know what you were listening to, you might easily have assumed Moonlight Farm was a reissue, coming from the same evocative, eccentric vein of outsider 1960s folk as Gary Higgins or Ed Askew. And yet, Olausson is a contemporary, still working at his isolated Swedish farm, still making dreamy, reverb-hazed recordings that seem to exist in a time of their own. Morning & Sunrise, his second, has the same slackened, slo-mo meditativeness as the first Olausson record, but it is noticeably clearer, cleaner and more guitar driven.


This song is from the first album, but you get the idea...
Jakob Olausson : Riding on the Wind by destijlrecs

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goldmund's now that's what I call music: 1864-style

Goldmund's All Will Prosper is a little out of the ordinary, but gorgeous. The album, by electronic composer Kenneth Keniff, collects 15 mostly-Civil War-era folk songs, reconceived for spectral piano and guitar, in the simplest possible, most emotionally evocative way. There is something, for instance, about the way that the piano notes reverberate that conveys memory and loss. these are not exactly faithful renditions of living melodies, but rather their ghosts, pared down almost to transparency and -- even the lively ones -- infinitely sad.

Western Vinyl has decided to give away one of the most familiar tunes on the album, "Amazing Grace" but the ones that give me the chills are the two "Johnny" battle songs..."Johnny has gone for a soldier" and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again."

I've always loved "Shenandoah," too. (I used to have a lot of these songs in a collection of american songs that I learned how to play the piano from.)

I asked about reviewing this at Blurt, but I don't know if I'll get it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado's last album St. Bartlett was one of my favorites of 2010...so i was excited to get a copy of Maraqopa in the mail last month...and even more excited to hear what's inside. My take: Maraqopa is not quite so devastatingly spectral, so ghostly pale, so haunting as St. Bartlett. But on the positive side, it is significantly more warm and human...and it's got some really wonderful, sort of Richard Thompson-ish smouldery guitar on the opening track, which is also the giveaway single: "Nothing is the News"

Monday, January 2, 2012


Red House Painters' guitarist Phil Carney's Desertshore project is like Neil Young through a codeine buzz, slowed-down, fuzzily atmospheric and, fundamentally, really lovely. Second album Drawing of Threes, which came out late last year on Caldo Verde, burns pretty slow, but it burns...loving "Diana," "Vernon Forrest" and "Molle" all with guest vocals from Mark Kozelek.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Nite Jewel with the edges rubbed off

What I liked the best about Nite Jewel's Good Evening, back in 200x, was the uneasy truce between dance and outsider music...the sense of looking in, at disco of all things, from a fogged window, with longing but no hope of getting inside.

In my review at the now defunct Pure Music, I said, "Nite Jewel, in real life visual/installation artist Ramona Gonzalez, makes dream-blurred, disco-folk music. It’s a kind of lo-fi dance soundtrack for whacked out teenage girl poets who boogie slowly, by themselves and mostly inside their own heads....It’s an infinitely personal, infinitely eccentric take on electro-pop, an inward looking dance music for the sad girls who never get asked."

But now Gonzales is on Secretly Canadian, and she sounds pretty much like any other diva...witness the first single, "One Second of Love" which can now be streamed on Soundcloud.

The record, which is also called One Second of Love, is coming out March 6.

By the way, happy new year. We had kind of a quiet one, chinese food in Amherst late in the afternoon, then home to watch a whole bunch of 30 Rocks and drink a little champagne...which oddly, I enjoyed a lot more than a lot of New Year's parties and events I've been to. I've really enjoyed hanging with my two guys this week, not that we did much, but they're fun to be with.9