Active Music Listening Tuesday April 30, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 330
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 218
Not good music: 92
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph, Hollis Brown, Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven, Cyanide Pills, Har Mar Superstar, Trap Them

@@@ Ghostkeeper: Horse Chief! War Thief! (Saved by Vinyl, 2013).  #5 on the CFUV charts this week.  If you blenderized 2 cups of Pavement with a cup of Lou Reed and a teaspoon of psychedelic garage band X you would have something akin to this band.  Herky jerky song changes, a small portion of bleeps and low level strangeness help quirk this record fulfill its mission.

@@@  Birds in Row: You, Me & the Violence (Deathwish, 2012).  #9 on the CFUV loud charts.  More post hardcore than metal, I would say this is rough but more medium rough than your basic heavy metal total sonic assault.  The tempos are up but not speeded out, the singer is shouting but not doing that cave man whoop and the drummer sounds a bit more like a rock drummer than a metal drummer.  Things really start heating up on the third tune Cages and boil over on Guillotine.

@@@ Frank Turner: Tape Deck Heart (Interscope, 2013).  Rousing UK/Irish area rock with touches of folk.  Waterfalls of words by Turner, some funny and some heartfelt and touching and somewhat clunky and cliche animate the proceedings (or not).  File this music under ‘the world sucks but we can get through this together — chin up people.’  Lots of mentions of broken people getting better and cuts and scars that won’t go away.  It’s in that vein and it’s a tad too familiar to make much of an impact on me.

@@@ Matt Shadetek: The Empire Never Ended (Dutty Artz, 2013)  Some electronica that’s #8 on the CFUV electronica chart.  Part old school/left field hip hop, part nerd electronic.  Plenty of computerized/pixellated voices, space guns.  It’s not really my thing, but check it out for yourself.

@@@ Chico Mann: Magical Thinking (Soundway, 2013).  An instrumental combo platter of disco, funk, and electro.  Very early ’80s-ish.  Not super sure what to say about this music.  I would recommend Prince’s Dirty Mind to this in a second, as the extreme horniness and the whole God trip he was on created a sort of tension that made the tunes more interesting.

Active Music Listening Monday April 29, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 325
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 214
Not good music: 86
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph, Hollis Brown, Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven, Cyanide Pills, Har Mar Superstar, Trap Them

@@@  Robert Raimon Roy: Le Tiger Blanc (Dim Mak, 2012).  If you’re up for some cracker rap you can check this Jacksonville, Florida rapper.  I found him over here at AV.  He’s a tad nasal, the beats are old school and fine, and his flow is staccato with a swirl of low IQ for shits and giggles.  I’m now listening to a hip hop nugget called ‘Dookie’ with the hook ‘Bitch I’m goin’ dookie in this motherfucker’.  Lord help us, it’s no wonder the Chinese are winning.  I feel dirty just listening to this.

@@@ Trap Them: Darker Handcraft (Prosthetic, 2011).  I caught these guys after seeing some tour dates announced over here at Invisible Oranges.    Excellent drummer driving the bus here, jumping all over the place from some thrash to some double kick whoop ass to the meth head drum rolls.  The rest of the band is right behind him. Guitar parts a piquant blend of quick riffs and rolling power chords.  This is some foul and engaging shit, a good balance of styles with the drummer really keeping this machine fresh and jumping.  The third tune ‘Every Walk a Quarantine’ actually swings in its own special quasi-epileptic way — that’s pretty enjoyable.

@@@ William Ryan Fritch – The Waiting Room OST (Lost Tribe Sound, 2013)  This is an ambient electronic soundtrack to a documentary about an Oakland emergency room, which I’m sure is a huge pick me up.  I found this record over here at Cyclic Defrost.  The approach is symphic orchestral, with a lot of string patches with swirls behind them.  It’s soundrack-y, which stands to reason as it’s a soundrack.  Not too conceptual or flamboyant as it’s not the main attraction.  I really dig this tune Coda that I’ve clipped below.

@@@  Alex Culbreth and the Dead Country Stars: Heart in a Mason Jar.  A stripped down folk/blues rock tune I caught wind of over here at Common Folk Music.  Straight ahead drums, and a clean electric guitar support the voice on the first tune below.  The second tune is slower and more fleshed out with drums, piano, banjo, and guitar.  Culbreth sounds a whole lot like Nick Cave, which I don’t think is purposeful.  I’m just sayin.

Active Music Listening Friday April 26, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 321
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 212
Not good music: 85
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph, Hollis Brown, Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven, Cyanide Pills, Har Mar Superstar

@@@  Appalachian Winter: Ghosts of the Mountain (Not sure, not sure).  I found this record over here at a heavy metal blog Underworld 82 dedicated to giving space to all the unknown awesome metal bands out there.  I don’t get too much into personalities and stories on this blog, I just listen, but apparently this symphonic black metal is the work of one guy.  I can’t say I’ve heard anything quite like this and I appreciate its freakiness.  Big power chords and a big string sound (I think synths but they sound very realistic) as well as some dulcimer.  The war footage just freak-a-fies the whole thing.

@@@ Legs: Pass the Ringo (Log Lady, 2013)  An indie outfit I saw in the All Music weekly email.  They have that reverbed, flat vocal style going which isn’t good for me.  I like the drum sound and the rawness of the production and it’s interesting to hear that combined with the flat vocals.  The songs are pretty standard indie fare — catchy, some roughness but certainly no anger and plenty of dreamy detachment.

@@@ Foals: Holy Fire (WM UK, 2013).  Saw an article most likely placed by their PR person over here at the Guardian.   The sub-headline says their new album was inspired by voodoo.  I love voodoo, I don’t see why I wouldn’t check that out.  Thus far, I’m not seeing where they’ve connected with voodoo, I see where they’ve connected with a marketing theme.  The music is high British guitar rock.  Melodic, slightly reminiscent of U2, but more jammy and the singer hits a Mick Jagger falsetto in the second tune, Inhaler.  There’s also a more than a pubic hair of Jane’s Addiction woven in here.  The third tune, My Number, is moving the record in a white disco/dance direction and I’ve concluded the voodoo thing is complete horse shit.

Active Music Listening Thursday April 25, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 318
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 209
Not good music: 85
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph, Hollis Brown, Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven, Cyanide Pills, Har Mar Superstar

@@@ Har Mar Superstar: Bye Bye 17 (Cult, 2013)  A neo-soul record off the All Music weekly email.  I’m pretty much done with the whole soul revival, but I like the vibe of the opener here ‘Lady You Shot Me’.  I like that the there are some unexpected song changes — so much of the present revival involves straight copies of soul classics.  The band also lurches around with a syrup-y goodness as if they’re enjoying themselves.  God forbid.  Let’s hope the rest of the record holds up to the opener.  I’m not sure this is a record I could spin and spin and spin, but it’s a strong effort.

@@@ The Postelles: …And it Shook Me (+1 Records, 2013).  Another All Music weekly email record.  Opens up with the upbeat rock/pop title track, ‘….And it Shook Me’.  I like the singer, he’s doing all right.  These guys are just a bit too upbeat for my taste.  It’s pretty well done, but I like a little darkness or muscle to go with my pop.  Like Big Star.

@@@ Tate Stevens: Tate Stevens (Syco/RCA, 2013).  Combining elements of ZZ Top, Bon Jovi, and good ol’ boy country rock, Tate Stevens has got this (I Got This is the title of the opening tune).  The second tune, Can’t Get Nothin’ Done, is a jaunty love song, friendly and cliche.  The third tune, Ride it Out, cops the riff from the AC/DC ‘For Those About to Rock’.  I’m not sure you could get lyrics any more cliche than these.  Big tough country fella loves his girl and the flag and he’s got a pickup.  I hear a big tear jerker comin’ on this fourth tune so I’m gonna check out.

@@@ Lilacs & Champagne: Danish & Blue (Mexican Summer, 2013).  Off the All Music weekly email, it opens up tongue-in-cheek hippie style – a deep reverbed confessional voice intro followed by a down boom-chick and a long, sustained guitar.  The second tune, ‘Sour/Sweet’ does a hippie-hop thing.  The third tune, Le Grand, sees the return of the big, sustained guitar sound over the 1970’s quasi-soul vibe.  It’s all right, a bit detached sounding to my ear.

Active Music Listening Wednesday April 24, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 314
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 207
Not good music: 84
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph, Hollis Brown, Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven, Cyanide Pills

@@@ The Haxan Cloak: Excavation (Tri Angle Records, 2013).  An electronica record off the All Music weekly email.  A blend of ambient and downtempo/trip hop, which is not a commonly used term anymore.  Slow and dark with a lot of metallic sounding synthesizers chopped up and served in a minimalist sonic environment.  Big thumpy bass blasts and lots of trippy, tinkling sounds.  Very soundtrack-y, but in a good way.

@@@ Rotten Sound: Species at War (Relapse Records, 2013).  From the Omega weekly email.  Goes for the throat right out of the gate with ‘Cause’ — fantastic thrash/grind for meth heads.  The second tune, The Game, takes a more leisurely riffing rock approach, but it’s back to the tweak show on ‘War’ I dig the guitar sound.  Like a million AM radios shoved up your ass.  These are short shots of bad feelings so it won’t take long to accept your beating and get on with your day.  I feel better hearing those bad feelings come out.

@@@  Habitual Levitations: Intronaut (Century Media, 2013).  Now for some epic heavy prog.  Like a cool wind from a cave on a hot summer day.  Once the first tune, Killing Birds with Stones, the drummer gets his best Neil Peart, also known as Rush guy, on.  The second tune, The Weilding, continues with the drumming and while the Rush comparison is apt, the singer here does not engage in the super high screamin’ Nancy falsetto routine.  Not a huge prog guy, but it’s all right.

@@@  Bill Baird: Spring Break of the Soul (Pau Wau Records, 2013).   Described as a new age Frank Zappa on a college radio station front page, it is Zappa like without the jazz feel and the incredible musical chop-ness of Zappa’s music.  The reverbed out Christopher Cross cover ‘Sailing’ is both strange and mind blowing.  I appreciate the weirdness of this music, but I don’t do well with that flat effect somewhat monotonous singing style.

Active Music Listening Tuesday April 23, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 310
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 204
Not good music: 83
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph, Hollis Brown, Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven, Cyanide Pills

@@@ RVIVR: The Beauty Between (Rumbletown, 2012).  I caught some glowing words about this record over here at Hank Shteamer’s blog.  I would call this West Coast melodic, sloppy sing a long punk.  Looser than it’s Republican Orange County counterpart which is focused on a three chord tight as a bull’s ass beat down.  The singer lends a sort of abandoned feeling to the proceedings and the band has a swinging feel I dig.  Not OMG material, but I’m sure this is probably a very slammin’ band live and this is a strong effort.

@@@ The Appleseed Cast: Illumination Ritual (Graveface Records and Curiousities, 2013).  A rock record from the MOG new release page that opens up with arpeggiated guitars and a drummer working and shifting beats beneath that guitar work.  Definitely fresher than what you usually encounter on the new release page on MOG and at first I thought awesome, this is gonna be like an updated kind of Meat Puppets record.  However, the opening tune flattens out into a leaner muscular rock tune that loses some of its spark.  At least for me.  The second tune, Great Lake Derelict continues to show these guys have a great drummer and the tunes are a bit soggy and need work.

@@@ Phoenix: Bankrupt! (Glass Note, 2013).  Well constructed and exquisitely arranged pop that is about as nourishing to the human soul as cotton candy.  Sweet, sweet, too sweet and it makes your teeth hurt.  Metaphorically speaking that is.

@@@ Blanche Hudson Weekend: How Many Times Have You Let Me Die? (Not sure, 2013).  I caught this UK guitar/synth outfit over here at Sound of Confusion.  Female singer, funky bass lines, and mid-tempo hipster downer-y quasi-rock.  The singer’s lack of affect is key to the proceedings here.  Check it out for yourself.

Active Music Listening Monday April 22, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 306
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 200
Not good music: 83
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph, Hollis Brown, Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven Cyanide Pills

@@@ Abdou Diop: Nootee (Sterns Africa, 2013) I came across this African recording via the weekly email from Downtown Music Gallery here in NYC.  It opens up with the tune Kodo — minimalist drums, separate stringed instruments panned left and right, Diop’s slightly nasal voice, electric bass and flute.  The tempo is hypnotic and the vocals build and grow more urgent towards the end of the tune.  The second tune builds on the formula of the first save the addition of an electric guitar.  I like it, but the Bassekou Kouyate record I put on my best of 2013 list over the weekend worked much better for me.

https://soundcloud.com/sterns-music/weliyaade-4-36

@@@ Last Lynx: Ocean Reels EP.  The first two words that came to my mind when I heard the opening tune, Killing Switch, was sleepy time disco rock.  Which is four words.  I found this record over here at Hilly Dilly.  It’s like a cough syrup version of Abba with a little more downtempo in the production.  I should stop my criticism at this point and let folks check it out below for themselves as I could really get up in this record and not be nice, and that’s just not nice.

@@@  Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito (Interscope, 2013).  I thought the first tune was goin all right, slightly better than my low expectations when the gospel choir fired up in the last third of the opening tune, Sacrilege.  Points for weirdness at the same time it sounds weird to me.  I find the singer annoying, her phrasing and overwroughtness is rotten.  The second tune, Subway, is boring — it’s not catching my ear at all.  I had to turn off the title track, Mosquito, as the singer was contorting herself and grunting and pouting in a vain effort to breath life into that biscuit of a song.

@@@ The Flaming Lips: The Terror (Warner Bros, 2013)  I know tons of folks love the Flaming Lips but I’ve never been excited by their music.  I appreciate how they’ve explored all manner of ideas but I don’t feel it.  This album is looking like it’s no exception.  The first tune, Look…The Sun is Rising, is good but not anything that makes me jump up and down.  The second tune, ‘Be Free, A Way’ rocks a kind of Radiohead rock-tronica vibe albeit a tad more stony. It’s certainly not horrible.  The third tune, Try to Explain, drops any sort of beat/drums and kind of synth drones on a bit.  I think I will exit the proceedings now.

Both the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Flaming Lips are up on the MOG new release page and as I don’t have a ton of time today I thought I would not scour around too much.