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.

 

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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.

 

Updates to Best of 2012 list

Dennis Bovell: Mek It Run (Pressure Sounds, 2012).  Any thought that a bass player for Lynton Kwesi Johnson would skimp on the low end for this re-issue of late ’70’s/early ’80s tapes is put to rest on the title track where a relaxed monster bass line drives the whole tune.  While the hazy, old school dub sound has been replaced with a crisper sound it’s not a thin sound — the delays on the drums are trippy as hell and Bovell does a great job keeping the spirit of dub going here.

Active Music Listening Saturday October 20, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 760
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 447
Not good music: 272
Buys: 25 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Dennis Bovell, 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

@@@ Kent State: Behind Closed Doors (Grave Mistake Records, 2012).  I found this recording over here at Built on a Weak Spot.  The write up there compares them to Robert Pollard and Guided by Voices, but I find their music to harder and more rockin’ than Pollard.  I would say the Ramones are a much better reference point, but they don’t sport that weird Ramones trip.  I find myself listening to the slashing guitar player more than the rest of the band, and while I think one’s preference for what sort of sonic dirt you dig is personal and unique to your dirty dome, I dig the garage-y-ness of this band when I don’t dig the garage-y-ness of other touted bands.

@@@ Indescinence: Vessels of Light and Decay (Profound Lore, 2012) Album of the week over here at Invisible Oranges and you can stream it here at Stereogum.  It’s your midtempo drums/power chord heavy metal stomp and smack in the dome.  This shit will bring you back to reality pronto.  The singer is a low scraper and he’s pretty upset.  Maybe an 8 out of 10 on the Upset-O-Meter. The third tune ‘Vanished is the Haze’ slows down, which I dig and gets deeper into a grinding punishing vein.  They call it heavy metal for a reason.

@@@ My Goodness: My Goodness (Sarathan Records, 2011).  A two piece guitar/drums outfit from Seattle that I caught wind of over here at Nine Bullets.  More balls to the wall than the festival kings The Black Keys.  I like the frayed intro of the third tune ‘Cold Feet Killer’ that segues into the somewhat frenetic verse.

@@@  Dafnis Prieto: Dafnis Prieto Proverb Trio (Dafnison, 2012).  I found this record via the WMUA weekely email.  Some synth-a-llicious jazz fusion with uplifting lyrics and a monster drummer.  That motherfucker sounds like an octopus.  A must for fans of drum shredding.

Active Music Listening Friday October 19, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 756
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 443
Not good music: 272
Buys: 25 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Dennis Bovell, 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

@@@ Chris McGregor Septet: Up to Earth (Fledgling, 2008)  A raucous and boisterous jazz hit.  I like this shit — it swings, it squeals, it’s a New Orleans funeral.  I guess this is a re-issue from 1969, man it’s good, but there isn’t anything on Youtube or anywhere else on the internets for me to hit you up with so you’re going to have to take my word for it.  Of course, as I’m in the music business my word is shit.

@@@ John Mueller: Topography (Table of Elements, 2008)  I caught a feature on this musician over here at Anti-Gravity Bunny, but lo and behold the ambient electronic album he has up on MOG is not streaming for shit.  It does not help to get into the ambient/drone/long tone state of mind when you’re getting buffered right out of the mood.  This musicians sounds substantive and interesting and I will make another run at his music when the gods of bandwidth allow.

I understand that both of the above records qualify as genuinely obscure.  I prefer to clip Youtube videos or find a link to the music I’m discussing, but that’s not possible in the case of these two records.  I was raised to apologize, but there’s nothing to really apologize for — it’s called Active Listening for a reason so get out there and dig for yourself if you feel the urge.  Active listeners are the lifeblood of non-corporate musicians and small labels.

@@@ Talk Normal: Sunshine (Joyful Noise, 2012) From a music publicist email.  From an upcoming album.  In the single below I like the repeating waves of bass that anchor the waves of noise that are layered on top.  They namecheck Laurie Anderson in the promo email, but the music is more muscular than Anderson’s.  I would say the Breeders are a better point of reference.  You can stream the full record over here.  While I’m not putting this record on my best of list, this band is certainly a couple cuts above the normal PR sponsored dreck that slides my way.

@@@ Ajak Kwai: Come Together (Ajak Kwai, 2008). I found this African record over here at Splinters and Candy.  The guitar work is notable for its driving funkiness and Kwai’s voice is both strong and delicate.  The second tune ‘Tita’ evokes a Caribbean influences with a souk sounding beat.  This blog most definitely aims to push up women’s music and self-released music and this record qualifies on both counts so check out Ms. Kwai and here music.

 

Active Music Listening Thursday October 18, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 752
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 441
Not good music: 271
Buys: 25 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Dennis Bovell, 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

@@@  Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s Tower Poppies: Fortune Songs (Paintbox, 2012)  I found this record via an email for a free improvisation series in Philadelphia.  For those folks who are put off by the skronk of high octane free jazz shredding Ms. Smith offers a more laid back but engaging style for your earholes.  The second tune, Darkling I Listen, is what I would call a small room piece where the playing is tightly knit and on the quieter side dynamically.

@@@ Black Pistol Fire: Big Beat ’59 (Rife Bird Records, 2012).  I got to this proud to be shitkickin’ hillbilly blues record via a weekly email from CFUV in Canada.  Not quite as dirty as the gents in Left Lane Cruiser, oh, I might have to take that back — shit is melting down in the second tunes Stripes or Keys in quite a pleasant manner.  Now we’re getting some real nice guitar playing in the third tune ‘Crows Feet’.  If you’re a fan of this sub-genre of dirty ass white boy blues, check these guys out.

@@@ The Home of Easy Credit: Self-titled (Northern Spy, 2012).  I found this duo sax/processed bass record over here at Killed in Cars.  The first tune is some saxophone improv on top of a sort of agitated non-static more metallic electronic noise, which I believe is an amplified acoustic bass.  I’m not sure the waves of sound in the second track ‘The Dream of a Democracy of Goods’ is bass generated but I find I’m listening more to the backdrop than the sax.  Solid but not mesmerizing.

@@@ Beans: End it All (Anticon, 2011).  This hip hop record is on the MOG Editor’s Picks page.  Mr. Beans is primarily interested in delivering a packed verbal flow experience to the listener.  I’m short of breath just listening to him spit.  The overall vibe of the music is old school, which I dig, and I always appreciate the non-gangsta topics.  I thought it was kind of less funky than I wanted then the second tune ‘Deathsweater’ hit and it’s pretty funky.  I don’t think I really appreciate the technical aspects of his microphone skills enough to be blown away by this record, but he does indeed have skills.

@@@ Ellen Goulding: Halcyon (Interscope, 2012).  Both breathy and wispy pop.  A bit of New Age vibe swirled with a modern Broadway thing and a little club music diva goin on.  Not as assaulting as the current wave of electro-pop, so I welcome that.  I continue to denounce any singers for the over breathing orgasm singing.  Both female and male singers, please don’t do it, it’s awful and distasteful.  Orgasm breathing is readily available on the net in the pornier district.

@@@  Anberlin: Vital (Republic, 2012).  A MOG front page release.  Meticulously curated corporate rock. it’s hard for to get much feeling off this music, which is why I listen to music.  I appreciate the work that went into it, but it doesn’t work for me.