Active Music Listening Friday August 31, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 556
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 323
Not good music:200
Buys: 19 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Left Lane Cruiser/James Leg, Dennis Bovell, Seluah, Donnie and Joe Emerson,  Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Lianne Le Havas, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, The Semi-Colons, Cryptopsy

@@@ Semi-Colon: Ndia Egbuo Ndia (Comb & Razor, 2012)  I found this record while looking for blogs to hit up with an African music record I put out at the end of July.  You can find the label site over here.  He specializes in Nigerian music.  This record is burning both rhytmically and melodically.  Great beats, great guitar playing, just a real good vibe.

@@@ Midnight Groovers: O Ti Yo (Strut, 2012).  If you would like to hear some polyrhythms related to both reggae and African music but not exactly like either, check this tune out on the Sofrito: International Soundclash.  I’m going to have to check out the whole compilation, this band is fresh.

@@@ Tamaryn: The Waves (Mexican Summer, 2010)  If you’re gonna listen to 80’s influenced indie rock these guys at least allow you to have some dignity.  Pretty nice guitar and bass sounds, especially the fuzzy bass sound.  It’s got a hefty dollop of shoegaze mixed into, but for some reason I don’t find this music nearly as annoying as so much of the indie rock floating around.  Maybe it’s the lack of a synth player.

@@@  Tiny Leaves: In These Narrow Spaces (Self-released/Bandcamp, 2012)  I found this recording via the Ambient Music Blog over here.  This is piano based sort of New Age-y ambient music.  I’m not sure I would call this ambient music myself it’s kind of a widdle diddle solo piano jam.  Check it for yourself.

@@@ Bekay: 15 Months of Violins (Coalmine, 2012).  I really like the piano hook on this track and the MC’s flow has the urgency of a classic Eminem track.  He’s upset, no doubt.

@@@ Cryptopsy: Cryptopsy (Self-released on 9/12)  I found these guys over here at  These guys are just straight up fucking brutal and the drummer is a complete drumming animal   The singer is not shredding his voice as much as squealing.  He sounds like a pig being butchered.  The band if completely fucked in the head — the tightness and technical acrobatics of the tunes are ridiculous.  Check it for yourself.

@@@ Sammy Adams: All Night Longer (RCA, 2012)  I found this eloquent and fabulous singer on the front page of the Major League Baseball website.  It’s a hymn for alcoholics — it’s not completely toxic towards women, but make no mistake this is some shallow ass shit.  Oh boy, this is why the Chinese are doing better than us.

He’s a cute little foul mouthed fuck, which is part of how the mainstream music scene works but he’s gonna fade hard, no doubt.

Active Music Listening Thursday August 30, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 550
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 319
Not good music:199
Buys: 19 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Left Lane Cruiser/James Leg, Dennis Bovell, Seluah, Donnie and Joe Emerson,  Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Lianne Le Havas, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure

@@@ Rhett Walker: Come to the River (Provident Label, 2012).  The gent who runs the Lefsetz letter, one Mr. Bob Lefsetz, was raving about this Christian rock band so I thought I would check it out.  It’s very big sounding, I like the singer, it’s a big corporate Jesus record.  It’s got hints of folk and country and a pubic hair of grunge mixed in with the dominant arena rock sound.  I would give it a solid B-.

@@@ Iron Monkey: Our Problem. (Earache Records, 2009)  I’m on the mailing list for Omega Order and the new Iron Monkey self-titled record was not on Spotify but this one is.  I would say these guys score a solid 7.5 on the Upset-O-Meter.  They’re pretty upset and I hope things work out for them.  The music is metal but with a strong hardcore punk overtone.  This is not an epic metal sound nor a super compressed suffocating metal sound, but sort of a plain rock production with a shredded glass singer doin his thing.  I really feel the drummer and the guitar player — these guys are tighter than a bull’s ass at fly time out in the meadow.

Going to the Youtube this record looks to be a re-issue from the mid 1990’s.  Just wanted to clarify that.

@@@ Riverboat Gamblers: The Wolf You Feed (Volcom Entertainment, 2012).  I found about these guys over here at Sonic Itch.  Advertised as a rock/punk outfit I would put the word power pop into that equation and take the punk reading down a little bit.  These guys are more Superdrag than Stanford Prison Experiment.  The production is pretty pumped up and sounds like a shout out to mainstream listeners to me.  Not that that’s bad, just not a lot of dirty to be heard.  It’s a classic rock band — drums, bass, and guitar with a very good singer.  Solid B.

Quality of music would be higher without publicists in the game

Music publicists are a crutch for everyone in the music business — labels, musicians, writers, the whole she-bang.

If there wasn’t this form of paid access to media people who build the public images of musicians, you can bet your ass musicians and labels would be working harder to make more creative music that would stand out.

Right now the opposite happens.  Publicists want to sell something familiar, like something that has come before.  Publicists drive the same-ness in music we’re seeing.

Active Music Listening Tuesday August 28, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 547
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 316
Not good music:199
Buys: 19 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Left Lane Cruiser/James Leg, Dennis Bovell, Seluah, Donnie and Joe Emerson,  Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Lianne Le Havas, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure

@@@  Robag Wruhme: Olgamikks (Nachtdigital, 2012).  Some techno I find very childish, and some I find very funky.  This is pretty funky sporting more than just your ordinary four on the floor, although it does have it the core boom tsst goin’ on.  More percussive elements added to the music, with delays, brings this a bit away from the club genre towards dub and for me that’s a good thing.  It’s still club music but it has some funk sauce added to it.  Solid shit and how can you pan somebody named Robag?  I can’t.

@@@ Katatonia: For Funerals to Come (Peaceville Records, 2012).  A somewhat unique metal formula with this band.  Very riffy and epic guitar player and a caveman out front.  Like Metallica but fronted by a singing bear.  Not bad, just different.   The band has that epic metal quality — big power chords and big ass riffs.

@@@ Divine Fits: A Thing Called Divine Fits (Universal Canada, 2012)  A ‘supergroup’ from its AllMusic description this rock ‘n roll music aspires to get by on the tension from using minimalist amounts of all musical elements.  Combines a lot of 1980’s styles — bits of Elvis Costello’s Attractions, a pubic hair of U2, a dash of Duran Duran.  Very professional, very tame.

@@@ Matthew Dear: Beams (Ghostly International, 2012).  Oh, how I struggle with trying to find something positive to say about the indie electronic genre, subgenre, file folder, whatever you call it.  It’s just so baby powder soft I can not listen without feeling my testicles starting to shrink up into my abdominal cavity.  While Mr. Dear may be perfectly competent in his stylings, I have not found a space where I can sit and listen and get with indie electronic.

@@@ Grandfather Child: Grandfather Child (New West, 2012).  A full on 1970’s roots rock/soft FM/blue eyed soul explosion.  Wow, breathtaking and I don’t mean that in a bad way.  We are talking maximum white boy loverboy persona by the lead singer.  The second tune ‘Gonna Have Ourselves a Vision’ is more rockin’ — we may be in for the poo poo platter of roots music.  The third tune ‘Magical Words’ is a sort of mid tempo ballad, lots of layered harmonies.  I have not heard such a genuine channeling of the Doobie Brothers in a long ass time.  Kudos!!

It’s shocking anybody is buying any music at all

It’s difficult to know if folks in the music business don’t know how much music is available online or if they know and are in denial.

By the time you have been to the download blogs, all the blogs that offer free downloads for promo purposes, all the music you can stream on blogs and on YouTube, rippin mp3s off videos all over the net, free streaming options, you can have a very rich life without dropping a dime on music.

Being a small independent label, that certainly makes for a more difficult environment to sell music in, but reality must be recognized as it is.

I predict that in just a couple of years recorded music will be viewed as a listener’s desire to support a musician, band, act or label.

It’s not necessary to buy music, even if you are an enthusiastic listener.

Active Music Listening Monday August 27, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 542
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 313
Not good music:197
Buys: 19 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Left Lane Cruiser/James Leg, Dennis Bovell, Seluah, Donnie and Joe Emerson,  Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Lianne Le Havas, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure

@@@  Hossam Ramzy: Sabla Tolo II (ARC, 2010)  I was reading about the Egyptian musician Hossam Ramzy over here at the Whole Music Experience.  He appears to be quite involved with the bellydancing scene but I chose this solo record as one to write about.  If you are a rhythmically challenged person who can’t move it or feel rhythm at all don’t check out this music as this guy has it going on.  There are, understandably due to geographical proximity, similarities between this music and Indian classical music but the rhythms are not as odd as many found in Indian ragas.

@@@  Freelance Whales: Spitting Image (Mom & Pop, 2012)  Female singer in front of a clean guitar, synth band.  Very mall-y.  Not absolutely ripped from the 1980’s but influenced.  Lots of high angelic voices.  I’m going to click off before the end of the tune as I don’t feel like sending the average $.004 Spotify payout to these guys.

This single is on the front page of Spotify.

@@@  Ben Perowsky: El Destructo Vol. 1 (El Destructo, 2007)  I found this musician via an All About Jazz weekly email.  He’s playing the Jazz Standard so I thought this would be pretty straightforward jazz, but it’s surprisingly centered around dub and beats.  He’s a drummer, and the son of a jazz musician, but I’ve long wanted to hear more jazz musicians get into this area between dub and jazz.  This is a live trio recording so there’s a certain feel to it, but there’s some really nice stretching out.

I couldn’t get any videos for this record but you can peep samples over here at iTunes.

@@@  Goldrush: We Don’t Have to Worry (Goldrush, 2012)  Found these guys over here.  Sort of a indie rock smoothie of Joe Walsh, Elvis Costello, and Camper Van Beethoven.  More riffs than you usually find in the indie sphere these days, and the singer definitely sounds like Elvis Costello.  My assumptions after listening to hundreds of indie rock records is that competence and professionalism wins out over passion and that’s the case here.  Well put together, a little quirky, a little funny, not much urgency.  I do give props to the cello solo in song 2, that’s a solid move.

What made Eminem famous?  Urgency.

Updates to Best of Lists

Le Super Borgou de Parakou: The Bariba Sound (Analog Africa, 2012) Rockin’ and funky music from 1970’s Benin.  More guitars and organ than horns it swings.  Not on Spotify and the cd on Amazon is $22 and vinyl is $40.  Booo, hiss!  So if you’re not up for the MP3 format you’re gonna have to cough it up.

Alexandra Grimal: Owls Talk (Self-released, 2010).  Two saxophones with Gary Peacock on bass and Paul Motian on drums.  Very well recorded.  It’s hard to tell how much of this record was written and how much is free, but it’s a really beautiful session.