Active Music Listening Tuesday October 30, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 794
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 465
Not good music: 286
Buys: 27 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@ Neil Young: Psychedelic Pill (Reprise, 2012).  The great parts of this record are the jams, the long jams.  The first ‘Driftin’ Back’ is a 27 minute monster.  I get the premise of the tune, and I agree with it — that things have changed and he misses the way music used to be etc, but the lyrics annoy me.  My wife, a big Neil Young fan, said the lyrics sounded lazy.  I found the lyrics in ‘Driftin’ Back’ to be weird and annoying and in another song he tosses in a ‘Let the good times roll’.  It’s 2012, I’d love for the line ‘good times roll’ to be retired for a while.  I’d also like references to bleeding to get a rest (not a theme Neil Young has participated in).  If you’re able to easily not listen to lyrics, the playing on this record is high end.  If music has lyrics I like to listen to them.

Best of 2012 update (Hurricane edition)

Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012).  I try not to be a music review bloveator as all that language is really for the labels and the music marketers.  The scope of this massive 4 cd work (I’m streaming it on MOG) is so far reaching it would take forever to try to get down with each piece and tie it to the title and the overall work.

It’s important to remember that this is an expansive piece of music centered around African-American history but also the American experience.  With titles like ‘Malik Al Shabazz and the People of the Shahada’, ‘Buzzsaw: The Myth of a Free Press’ and ‘Democracy’ this music operates at a meta level.

As for the music itself, the closest point of reference would be Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain with politics.  The production is cool in temperature, the music is a combination of classical orchestration and improvisation, and the tone is somber and slow moving.

Trumper player Wadada Leo Smith deserves respect not just the music he created but the boldness in envisioning a piece of music so epic in scope.

Active Music Listening Monday October 29, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 793
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 464
Not good music: 286
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@  Robert Soko: Balkanbeats Soundlab (Piranha, 2012).  I found this record via WRIR, a big world music station in Virginia.  Soko uses Balkan music as the raw materials for dance floor remixes.  I’m not a huge fan of Balkan music, but I’m going to be open minded and check it out.  Okay, this is much better than I expected.  It’s not just your basic four on the floor electronica stupidness and the tunes are remixed more the way a dub mix might go.  It’s not a complete gutting of the original tune, I can get with this.

@@@ Blind Note: Blind Note (Muzikpublique, 2010).  This record was recommended to me by MOG because I’m really into this 2011 by an oud/frame drum group called Wahid.  The largest influence is Latin Music, but there is a thread of Middle Eastern music to it.  Female singer, smooth production, overall a very brunch-y sounding piece of music. I prefer my world music to have a bit more wallop/muscle to it.

@@@ Various Artists: Philip Glass Remixed (Orange Mountain Music, 2012).  A MOG new release page listen.  I’m certainly not a Philip Glass purist but this does not appear to be a recording particularly interested in honoring Philip Glass’ spirit — I’m going to go check out some Philip Glass music and then return.  I’ve checked out 4-5 tracks of an album of Philip Glass called Glassworks (Sony Classical, 2003) and this electronica remix of Philip Glass is basically a marketing move designed to associate a mostly mindless genre (electronica) with a more sophisticated musician, Philip Glass.  This is one of the main marketing tools of the music business — make stupid music and sell it to folks as really smart music so they can feel smart about themselves.

Active Music Listening Saturday October 27, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 790
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 463
Not good music: 284
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@ Kariem Riggins: Alone Together (Stones Throw, 2012).  I got to this record after seeing a write up here at the Quietus.  It’s an instrumental hip hop record and Riggins is the jazz trained drummer driving the bus.  I’m a total hip hop square, but they mix him like he’s a drum machine — they don’t give his playing a real live drum room sound.  The arrangements are good, but I was hoping for some drum shredding to go with the arrangements.

@@@ Sky Ferreira: Ghost EP (Capitol, 2012).  A surprisingly restrained piece of singer songwriter pop from a major label.  No orgasm breathing, just a band with a woman out front singing.  Oh wait, I’m fucked.  The first tune was a slow tune with instruments and then the second tune ‘Lost in My Bedroom’ brings the breathy singing and the electro pop.  I feel so all alone in my bedroom with my breathy breating hiding under my blanket made out of electro pop fatigue.  I need a hug and a break from the market tested formulas for shifting musical units.

@@@ Bat for Lashes: Haunted Man (EMI UK, 2012)  This MOG front page release opens up with a wispy female voice over a tiny guitar.  Dramatic.  And here comes the synthesizers and the beats.  Oh, the beats.  I’m starting to wonder if there is a tidal wave of this music happening right now as it’s relatively cheap to produce compared to a traditional band release, or whether folks are lapping this music.  In my blog travels, from hipster to Main Street, I don’t see a ton of ebullience for it.  Think Tori Amos without the piano.   This record does have drums and other instruments in addition to the electronics and these are songs with changes and flow.  I would put this in the ambient New Age pop rock category as it has elements of all those genres hot glued together.

Active Music Listening Friday October 26, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 787
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 461
Not good music: 283
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@ The Emperors of Wyoming: I Never Got Over You/Cornfield Palace (Proper Records, 2012)  A couple tracks off this country rock record with Butch Vig on drums.  There’s a huge spread on the making of this record, all manner of gear porn, over here.  The drums sound great, the guitars are good, and the songs are solid but I would go for some classic John Hiatt records if you’re looking for some lyrics to listen to.

@@@ Ambassador Gun: Golden Eagle (Prosthetic, 2012).  I got to this recording from a metal mail order email.  A nice bass heavy thrash band — a thick volcanic guitar, bass bubbling interrupted by quick changes into thrashy sections.  The singer is shredding himself quite virulently — these guys are pretty upset.  I would give them an 8 on the Upset-O-Meter.  The second tune ‘Christbastard’ ups the upset even more.  Wow.  I like the kick drum sound they got on this record — it’s thick and wallopy instead of a super click-y kick.  If you want to get your thrash on for the weekend these guys are more than happy to oblige.

@@@ Rush Midnight: The Night Was Young Enough (Cascine, 2012).  From a music publicist email.  You can stream and read about it here at Spin.  Above average beats and a real bass line with the requisite layered synthesizers and average vocals.  Some better vocals would have really helped to elevate this track.

@@@ La Big Vic: Avenue B (Underwater Peoples, 2012).  You can stream or download this track over here at Stereogum.  I got to this track via a publicist email.  In typical music publicist fashion, one of the members of the group is an avant garde composer and the blurb for the track at Stereogum says it’s a jazz accented number.  This is all done to signal you that this is not dumb music, it has substance.  The tune does have a trumpet melody, but there’s nothing avant garde or particularly jazz-y about this track.  Please trust me on this as I’ve listened to hundreds of jazz records.  The tune has a laidback and quirky feel — it’s cool.

Active Music Listening Thursday October 25, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 783
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 459
Not good music: 281
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@ Brother Ali: US (Rhymesayers, 2009).  I was looking for the new record, but it’s not up on MOG, but this one is.  Super uptempo concious hip hop — big bumpin’ horn lines, big shredding guitar lines and a super partyistic MC.  This shit is more soulful than 90% of the retro-soul bands draggin’ themselves all over the world.  The lyrics are a good balance between positive and reality based with some fuck yous gettin passed around.  I like this guy much more than the new Kendrick Lamar record.  I would be interested in checking out Brother Ali’s new record and see if it maintains from this 2009 one.

@@@ Japandroids: Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl, 2012).  Man, this band is everywhere — you can’t take a shit without running into Japandroids.  I can see why — it’s mainstream music with big fat hooks and a little indie to it so it can be sold to hipsters as cool.  Sort of like the White Stripes with a good drummer and without Jack White’s pig squeal (which I dig).  I like it all right and probably works great live, it’s got some spunk to it, but I don’t think it’s good enough for them to be in the same room as me when I take a shit.

@@@ Black Moth Super Rainbow: Cobra Juicy (Rad Cult, 2012).  MOG new release page.  I like the dreamy/trippy female vocals paired with the mangled/super-compressed club guitar on the first track Windshield Smasher.  I like the arrangements, but the record is almost distorting at low levels due to over compression.  It hurts to listen to this record.

@@@ Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (Interscope, 2012).  This hip hop record is getting a big push. The first tune comes with a skit at the beginning and the end and a lot of talk about being a ghetto pornstar in the middle.  The production is blunted — phased drums and Lamaar’s flow on the microphone is mostly laidback with occasional bursts of energy.  The second tune, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, is as expected — an ode to becoming famous and a put down of naysayers.  Lyrical themes revolve mostly around Lamaar’s super sized horniness — the album is shot through with dick and pussy with a touch of gang bangin’ thrown in to round out the picture.  It’s above average hip hop, not crazy funky or concious.

@@@ Paul Banks: Banks (Matador, 2012).  A MOG front page-r.  Mr. Banks sports a morose downer-y voice — sonorous and meaningful and he sings over beats and an indie guitar.  The music has a bit of a Bowie vibe and a bit of Kraut rock.  I just caught from another blog that this is the lead singer of Interpol, a band I never really connected with.  It sounds like something straight off MTV about 25 years ago, but I guess that’s really cool now.

Active Music Listening Wednesday October 24, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 777
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 457
Not good music: 279
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor

@@@ Portage: The Unsalted Sea (Self-released via Bandcamp, 2012)  I found this record via the blog folkhive over here that I found via Hypem.  The music is working that vein between soft rock and folk.  Simple and satisfying drum sound, a somewhat melancholic songwriting flow, but not too Leonard Cohen-y.  I appreciate the simple approach that leaves some space between instruments, and I totally appreciate the lack of synthesizers.  Give that shit a break.  The blog said that this recording slayed their guts.  I like it, but my guts remain unmurdered.

@@@ Titus Andronicus: Local Business (XL, 2012).  MOG front page release.  When the first tune, Ecce Homo, my first thought was ‘shouldn’t music folks go buy the Clash’s London Calling instead of this record?’.  This is no generational beef — the Clash did a much better job swingin’ their tunes than these guys and their lyrics are smarter and better.  These guys need a better rhythm section, imho.

@@@ Frou Frou: Details(Geffen, 2002).  I saw this record featured over here at Indieshuffle using both the term eargasm and timeless.  I want a timeless eargasm, sign me up.  I’m listening now and sad to say I’m not having an eargasm.  Frou frou sports beats more lounge-y than club oriented and there are snatches of indie here and there with some slightly buzzy non-threatening guitar to go with the keyboard bass and the beats.  Oh, the beats.  Nice wide sounding production is cancelled by the occasional orgasm breathing by the leggy, pouty female singer.  She’s British and that’s so hot.  Random non-sequitur to finish up this pocket review.  Solid B-, no eargasm and I’m bitter.

@@@ Diamond Rings: Free Dimensional (Capitol, 2012).  The onslaught of electro-pop-rock continues with this MOG front page release.  Thankfully absent are the chainsaw synths — here we get a moody male singer and some big, pillowy synths to groove on.  I’m not a buyer or advocate of this record, but at least there are songs here that hold together and I’m grateful for that.  Low expectations are key to the indie electronic genre.

@@@ Further Seems Forever: Penny Black (Rise, 2012).  I listened to this record of the front page of MOG as I had not heard of the label Rise, but my guess this is a fake indie label owned/financed by a major.  This is your mainstream corporate rock, with the power chords, the breathy/sexy male singer, your Bon Jovi whoa-ohs, and a little synth arpeggio in the background.  Great music to sell blue jeans at the mall.  High energy background music, nothing unexpected or creative to stop the shopping.

@@@ The Intelligence: Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me (The Red Records, 2012).  I got to this indie garage electronic record via a music publicist email.  Drum machine, slacker three chord strumming, and a heavily reverbed male voice open up the record with  I like La.  The second tune ‘Hippy Provider’ has a drummer and is remarkably close to that Tommy 2 Tone ‘986-5309’ with a pubic hair of the Knack thrown in for good measure.  High energy, pretty much all fluff, with a little indie garnish.

 

Active Music Listening Tuesday October 23, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 771
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 454
Not good music: 276
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor

@@@ Royal Band de Thies: Kadior Demb (Teranga Beat, 2012).  I caught this record on the WRIR world music show weekly email.  It’s a roomy sounding, uptempo African recording.  I went to the label website here and it explains that this is a recording of a band from Senegal from 33 years ago and it’s a two microphone recording, which explains the roominess of the recording.  These guys are absolutely smokin’, man that’s some impressive playing.

@@@ Kid Koala: 12 Bit Blues (Ninja Tune, 2012).  Am I a sour bitch to want my favorite music to be more than samples from old blues records with new beats underneath?  Shouldn’t young folks just buy some old Howlin’ Wolf records?  I would recommend the rockin’ chair Howlin’ Wolf record, there’s also an absolutely rippin’ Buddy Guy record from 2003 called Sweet Tea.  Junior Wells was good, Mississippi John Hurt killed it, but Howlin’ Wolf’s band is closest to this record.  I wouldn’t say this is outright cultural thievery but it’s in the neighborhood.  Boo hiss.

@@@ Chicha Libre: Canabalismo (Barbes, 2012).  I caught this record off the WRIR world music list.  I have many records in my vinyl collection that cover this sort of Latin/Rock/Pop formula and I give respect to these guys for keeping this sound going.  Not quite campy, the organ and guitar drive the quirkiness over Latin percussion and group vocal chants.  I think it’s done well, but it’s hard for me to get too excited about this record as I already own fifteen versions of it from all over Latin America.  Check it out for yourself.

@@@ Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: The Heist (Macklemore, 2012).  These guys have caused quite a stir with their tune about Jimmy Iovine and the general scumbag nature of the music business.  Of course, one of the main points of this music blog is to separate the froth and PR horseshit from the music.  They’re two different things.

I like the lyrics on this recording, his flow is too breathy for my taste, the beats are all right, the first tune’s production is too synth-y.  Outside of the underdog’s message, which I’m totally down with, I don’t really love the music.  I would much rather listen to Skyzoo or El-P

@@@  Four Tet: Pink (Text Records, 2012).  Off the CFUV weekly email.  Am a fan of Rounds from 2003 but I haven’t felt any Four Tet since.  This appears to move away from the more abstract trip hop to the straight funky approach — oh maybe not, here comes some medium trippiness.  The first tune is good, but I could use more.  The second tune ‘Lion’ follows the same formula — the beats have been made funkier as opposed to the skittering jazz like beats of previous work and the arrangements retain some abstractness but have been simplified.  It’s all right — not captivating.

@@@ Faded Paper Figures: The Holy Smoke (Shorthand (a guess?), 2012).  I came to this track via a music publicist email.  At this point, there is so much indie electronic music out, I’m not sure what kind of track would make me stand up and scream ‘Hells Yeah!!!’.  It’s hooky (in the chorus especially), it’s got the required chainsaw synths and the club beat.  Done well but doesn’t stand out for me.

Active Music Listening Monday October 22, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 765
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 450
Not good music: 274
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor

@@@ Sinking Heads: Silent Pilot EP (Self-released, 2012)  Starting the week out with some DIY music from Dingus On Music over here.  This recording is an interesting lounge/indie hybrid.  A bit Radiohead-esque but lighter in sound and less on the existential angst.  Other tracks on the EP get a bit more indie — if you dig the melodic, lighter indie British influenced rock check this out.

@@@  Gary Clark Jr.: Number (Warner Brothers, 2012).  There’s no way you can hear the mammoth riff/mudshot that kicks off this tune and not think of Buddy Miles era Jimi Hendrix.  Clark’s voice sounds a lot like Paul Rodgers’ voice of Bad Company fame, sort of clean smooth.  It’s a nice meltdown and I dig the guitar tone, but he’s pulling the weight by himself from what I can hear.  How about the drummer drivin’ the bus?  Doesn’t he understand how this game is played.  Clark uncorks a pretty face ripping solo and I would be jumping up and down if they got somebody to push him around from the rhythm section.

@@@  Il Albanico: Crossing Colors EP (Self-released, 2012)  Another band from here. Baroque Brooklyn twee indie.  A lot of layered vocals, a lot of clean jangly, guitar and quirky arrangments.  The Bandcamp page says they’re a Colombian duo, but if they can play all the instruments I hear, they’re far more talented than one could possibly imagine.  Excellent drum work on the second track ‘Solo’.

Ch

@@@ Chad Valley: Young Hunger (Cascine, October 30).  Via a music publicist email and you can stream it here if I can’t get it to embed below.  A super dramatic, nay flamboyant male singer doin his thing over the full electro-pop show.  The music is so compressed it sounds like it’s coming out a television speaker.

@@@ Dark Tranquility: We are the Void (EMI, 2010).  I caught this record over here at apeshit.org.  These guys are a blend of FM radio metal riffage, some hardcore, and a singer you can almost understand.’  There is also some synth (I think) tucked back in the mix so there’s a little bit of a blend of influences at work here.  It’s a bit mainstream for my taste, but that’s just one meathead’s opinion.