Active Music Listening Monday June 30, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 485
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 303
Not good music: 141

Honorable Mentions: 3
Buys: 4

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega, Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, La Misa Negra, Melingo, Alexander Hawkins, Cheryl Pyle,  Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Third Coast Kings, Jack White, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Charming Axe, Eccodek, Noura Mint Seymali, Bio Ritmo, Pacifika, Kasai All Stars

@@@ Kyle Rapps: Where We Go (Diamond Media, 2014).  A classic hip hop beat with a lounge-y background vocal hook that I got to via a label promo email.  I like the MC and I thought the lyrics were really interesting — more unpredictable than what you usually get with hip hop.  Bravado, introspection, literary quotes, bam — all rolled up in one tune.

@@@ Vacationer: Relief (Downtown, 2014).  Off the All Music weekly email.  Opens up doo wop-ta-cious, oh here comes the boogie beat.  The vibe is super laidback, think blue eyed frat boy soul with drum machine beats.  The singer is bit light for my taste, and since he’s such a central component of the record….check it for yourself.

@@@ Channel Zero: Kill All Kings (Metal Blade, 2014).  Straight out of the box with the killer bee guitar sound and the power chord ka-chunk!  Off the All Music weekly email.  The singer is going for epic and there’s both a bit of glam and a tad of grunge up in this record.  Big arena rock drum sound and the whole record in general.  Also off the All Music weekly email.

@@@ Circulatory Systems: Mosaics within Mosaics (Cloud, 2014).  Some indie psychedelia off the All Music weekly email.  A tad of Sgt Peppers, a bit o’ Flaming Lips, and some quirky indie.  The tunes feel a bit more like sonic sketches/slides rather than formal tunes.  There’s some down moments and some engaging ones as well.

@@@ French Style Furs: Turn or Burn (Frenchkiss, 2014)  A tune I got to via a music publicist email.  It’s a mainstream power ’80s tune.  Very nice bass sound/hook, a lot of criss crossing vocal tracks and a straight rock beat.  It’s a nice vibe but it doesn’t really feel like it goes anywhere.

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2014 Honorable Mention Pick 3

Curtis Harding: Soul Power (Burger, 2014)

There are a lot of things I like about this record and a couple that I don’t like as much.  I like that the record is called Soul Power, but there are plenty of distorted guitars on here.  I really like Harding’s voice, it’s a classic American soul voice.  He doesn’t oversing, he sounds comfortable, etc.  I like the band — there’s a good balance of rock and soul elements going on.  I like the drummer and the arrangements of the tune.

I like the first two tunes a whole bunch, but I don’t like the third tune/single ‘Keep on Shining’.  The quasi-dance vibe feels a bit pandering and there’s another feel good tune towards the end of the record that doesn’t work that well either.  I’ve clipped ‘Keep on Shining’ down below.

Otherwise this is a really strong record dropped at exactly the right time of the year.

Best of 2014 Pick 4

Trap Them: Blissfucker (Prosthetic, 2014)

A sonic beatdown.  Part post-rock, plenty of hardcore punk, some metal, a bit o’ thrash and a delicate balance of precision and squall.

Not a tremendous amount of riffage, but a very satisfying melding of excellent guitar tones with a tough, buzzy bass sound pumping underneath an unintelligible but appropiately pissed off singer.

The drummer really drives the bus here as the tunes jump around — slower power chord sections that segue into trash sections into straight heavy rock sections.  He’s an excellent anchor for the rest of the band to drill a hole in your skull.

Tight as shit with interesting jumps.  The record sounds great and there are strong musicians at all positions.  What more could you ask for?

Active Music Listening Saturday June 28, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 480
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 300
Not good music: 139

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys:

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega, Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, La Misa Negra, Melingo, Alexander Hawkins, Cheryl Pyle,  Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Curtis Harding, Third Coast Kings, Jack White, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Charming Axe, Eccodek, Noura Mint Seymali, Bio Ritmo, Pacifika, Kasai All Stars

@@@ Kasai Allstars: Beware the Flesh (Crammed disc, 2014).  I try to check out the Crammed Disc releases as their hit to shit ratio is pretty good.  The first tune here is guitar and vocal driven with thumb pianos and other percussion bringing up the rear.  There’s a super low bass drum way underneath that brings a thick pulse.  I like the second tune to the first and I’m going to have to check out this 90+ minute monster shot when I have more time.

@@@ Xeno & Oaklander (Ghostly Int’l, 2014).  Some indie blurps and squirbs and ping pong synths off the All Music weekly email.  Krautrock beats and a highbrow, top button buttoned male singer backed by the dreamy reverbed out female singer on the microphone(s).  Synth bass and a pretty high wank factor on this one.

@@@ People Get Ready: Physiques (Brassland, 2014).  Slotted as experimental rock, to my ears it sounds like Kate Bush had a secret love baby with the band Yes.  Sinewy bass melodies, outbursts of drums, and some semi-out female vocals.  Occasional dirty guitar blasts, lots of toms.  The second tune is more oddball indie.– think Phish without drugs.  It’s all right.

@@@ Total Slacker: Super Big Gulp (Black Bell, 2014)  Clean, chorus guitar, straight rock drums that does a classic tension/release thing in the chorus.  The main vocal hook is ‘when America gets you down, you got to the seven eleven and get yourself a super big gulp’.  Hard to tell if it’s ironic or a true hymn to the Super Big Gulp — I probably won’t spend the time to figure that question out.

Active Music Listening Friday June 27, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 476
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 300
Not good music: 139

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys: 3

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega, Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, La Misa Negra, Melingo, Alexander Hawkins, Cheryl Pyle,  Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Curtis Harding, Third Coast Kings, Jack White, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Charming Axe, Eccodek, Noura Mint Seymali, Bio Ritmo, Pacifika

@@@ Phish: Fuego (Jemp, 2014).  Ah, the Phish.  Not my favorite crew but I love checking shit out.  I must say I’m pretty impressed with the rhythm section on the first tune, Fuego.  The drummer especially, he’s killin’ it.  I like this less sleepy version of Phish.  I’ll check out a couple more tunes.  The lyrics have little crumbs of cheese falling off them, but the playing is top notch.

@@@ Clipping.: Clppng (Sub Pop, 2014) Record of the week off the Aquarius weekly email.  Aggro arrangements over staccato mic rockin’.  All sharp edges with an emphasis on machines over funkiness.  I like the third tune Work Work a whole bunch.  A lot of lyrical emphasis on the almighty Horny, doin’ it and what not.

@@@ Herzog: Mad Men (Exit Stencil, 2014).  Straight ahead guitar indie that I saw in the big ass Aquarius records list.   Tasty guitar work, Alex Chilton traces, think Weezer with some musical integrity.  These guys really rock this formula with style.

@@@ Mastodon: Once More ’round the Sun (Reprise, 2014).  Some mainstream heavy rock from the All Music weekly email.  Think Pearl Jam if they went to the gym for a couple of months.  Big riffage, dramatic lower register vocals, and some spraying mainstream heavy drums.  I like the guitar player and the drummer, they got it going on.

 

 

 

Active Music Listening Thursday June 26, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 472
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 292
Not good music: 139

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys: 3

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega, Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, La Misa Negra, Melingo, Alexander Hawkins, Cheryl Pyle,  Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Curtis Harding, Third Coast Kings, Jack White, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Charming Axe, Eccodek, Noura Mint Seymali, Bio Ritmo, Pacifika

@@@ Alias: Pitch Black Prism (Anticon, 2014)  Hip hop heavily influenced by club music that I saw on the All Music weekly email.  Mostly instrumental although the second tune has an MC.  Old school beats, West Coast style, a lot of trippy club sounds.  Solid B.

@@@ How to Dress Well: What is this Heart? (Weird World, 2014).  I honorably mentioned this guy’s last record, Total Loss and I saw this listed on this week’s All Music weekly email.  It’s a little strange to see this guy pegged as an indie r&b singer, even though his voice is reminiscent of r&b.  Thus far I’m not feeling this record — there’s too much of him singing and not enough memorable tunes and it’s funk is flaccid.

@@@ Claire: My Audacity (Astralwerks, 2014).  An electronic pop song I got to via a music publicist email.  A basket of synthesizer squirbles, wahs, and erps, over a standard 1980’s gated snare drum sound.  Complete with hand claps!  And a breathy, yearning female voice.

@@@ Orenda Fink: You Can Be Loved (Saddle Creek, 2014).  Some retro-sounding indie I got to via a music publicist email.  Big reverbed female vocals, a shaker, and a lot of arpeggiated guitars over a down beat. Sleepy time tea, people.

https://soundcloud.com/saddlecreek/orenda-fink-you-can-be-loved

Active Music Listening Wednesday June 25, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 468
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 289
Not good music: 138

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys: 3

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega, Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, La Misa Negra, Melingo, Alexander Hawkins, Cheryl Pyle,  Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Curtis Harding, Third Coast Kings, Jack White, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Charming Axe, Eccodek, Noura Mint Seymali, Bio Ritmo, Pacifika

@@@ Ed Sheeran: X (Asylum, 2014). Off the All Music weekly ‘notable’ releases.  Notable meaning paid for, but that’s beside the point.  Opens up with an intimate acoustic guitar/voice ballad, One.  Nice tune, I could have used a bit less reverb on the voice but this is the Age of Cheese.   Here come the string swells!  These guys are gettin’ it on for sure.   Lots of confessional lyrics about being drunk and being a mess, even a tune entitled ‘I’m a Mess’.  This self-lacerating folk music is not really for me — I would rather listen to him sing about a horrible rash on his genitals.  More unique at least.

@@@ Killer Be Killed: Killer Be Killed (Nuclear Blast, 2014).  A mainstream metal record I found on my heavy metal mailorder weekly email.  Big drums spraying, plenty of guitar ka-chunk with occasional spurts of shred, and a singer that is intelligible and sort of epic in vibe.  When you fast forward to the second tune, Face Down, you are greeted with a much stronger anti-social hostile energy, which I really enjoy.

@@@ Kampfar: Djevelmakt (Indie Recordings, 2014).  Some Norwegian black metal also off my heavy metal mailorder email.  Very pleasant grinding guitars, tres hardcore, with a thrashy drummer and a singer that sounds straight out of the Lord of the Rings.  Man, this dude really rocks the orc vibe.  I really like the post-rock midtempo grind of the band, and if you’re into the blackness of it get yer candles out and bring on the horned one.

@@@ David Weiss: When Words Fail (Motema, 2014).  We switch gears from the bone crushing and skull splitting to check out some straight jazz I found on the London Jazz weekly newsletter.  Instrumentation on the first tune is trumpet, sax, piano, bass and drums — the tempo is up with plenty of room to solo.  I like it all right — very pretty and nobody’s feelings get hurt.