Active Music Listening Thursday April 30, 2015

YTD recordings listened to: 331
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 197
Not good music: 108

Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 5

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohammed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Torche, Leo Welch, Astral Swans, Mastery, Leviathan, Lightning Bolt, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Waters

@@@ Mariah Carey: Infinity (Sony, 2015)  I love me my Mariah Carey!  She got a little urban pop/r&b/hip hop mash going on in this tune.  Some big string swells, a little rhythmic quasi-rapping in the verses, and the orgasmic reach for the sky hook in the chorus.  Poor Mariah can’t find love, maybe because she’s bat shit crazy.  I like the string part, somebody did a good job with that.  Off the Beats Highlights/Hype page.

https://youtu.be/da1xoQFE7ts

@@@ Vardan: The Night, The Loneliness (Moribund, 2015).  Some heavy music to cleanse the palette after the brush with Mariah.  Opens up post-rock, noisy aggro — there’s a little ambient drops of guitar that contrast nicely with the agonized vocals.  Some righteously distorted guitar tones in the tune called Pt. 3.  All the tracks are Pt. 1, Pt. 2, because parts are parts as the chicken sellers are fond of saying.  It appears the singer does little more than sound like an orc from Lord of the Rings — I think I prefer it to lyrics — he’s just airing his grievances in a non-verbal manner.

@@@ Satan’s Host: Pre-Dating God Part 2 (Moribund, 2015)  Very different than the Vardan tunes I just peeped.  This is more of a classic metal vibe, with the tight rag around the balls of the shrieking vocalist, the double kick drum thwack of the drummer, and the alternating ka-chunk/pig squeals of the guitar player.  The second tune, Soul Wrent, gets a bit more satanic as the tempo drops and the guitarist gets into an ill power chord circle.  Although when the singer goes high like somebody is Tasering him, I do think it’s funny.  And when I think of Satan, funny isn’t the word I think of.  Actually, maybe Satan is a lot of fun, he’s got a bit of a bad reputation.

@@@ The Weather Station: Tapes (Paradise of Bachelors, 2015).  What Thursday would feel right without some indie music?  The publicist email sent to me describes ‘lapidary song craft’.  Lapidary is a gem maker that engages in cutting and polishing stones.  So when all you ungrateful fucks roll out on this blog don’t say you didn’t learn anything.  The Weather Station is a woman from Toronto and she has very nice voice with a bit of huskiness in it.  I’m not sure of the cutting and grinding metaphor as this is a wispy track — some little touches of ambient pedal steel, a lot of oohs and aaahs, a contemplative piano and a decaffeinated drum beat.  It’s pretty good, it’s just not lapidary.  Okay I think I’ve beaten the dead horse lapidary enough.  Wait, lapidary.

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Active Music Listening Wednesday April 29, 2015

YTD recordings listened to: 327
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 195
Not good music: 106

Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 5

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohammed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Torche, Leo Welch, Astral Swans, Mastery, Leviathan, Lightning Bolt, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Waters

@@@ Reverend Tall Tree: Reverend Tall Tree (Nine Yard Records, 2015).  Heavily blues influenced guitar rock I got to via the Beats Highlights page.  Oops, the other way around,  rock influenced blues is more like it.  Mr. Tall Tree’s voice is a tad Howlin’ Wolf growly without the full guttural flow of the Wolf and the guitar figures are similar as well.  Clean production without getting into arena rock territory, and I like that he’s rockin’ an upright bass — could be wrong on that.

@@@ Blur: The Magic Whip (Parlophone, 2015).  New Blur album and shit that I saw on the Beats highlights page.  The first tune, Lonesome Street gets into some power chord action combined with Brit rock quirk.  Not Kinks heavy, more ’90s retro.  I like the second tune more, but I don’t think Blur is aimed at my ears.   A little bit art school, a little pop, and a little bit wanker.

@@@ Theo Jackson: Shoeless and the Girl (Dot Time Records, 2015)  Some straight vocal jazz I got to via the London Jazz blog.  Highbrow, super clean and stylized — brushes on the drums, piano, bass and sax under the romantic vocals.  Ooh, I don’t usually do well with this kinda music — it’s just too fraught with meaning and not enough energy for my animal side.

@@@ Warm Soda: Symbolic Dream (Castle Face, 2015).  I got to this record via a music publicist.  A little of the Strokes, a little Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and a bit of a lot of bands from the early to mid-80s.  Sharp guitars, intimate male vocals with fairly extensive background vocals, and the classic driving rock beat.  Boom bap, boom boom bap.  If you like this uptempo pop punk/rock pu pu platter I would refer you to the album Still Bored by Cyanide Pills.  Much more entertaining.

You can stream it up over here at the mighty GumStereo

Active Music Listening Tuesday April 28, 2015

YTD recordings listened to: 323
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 192
Not good music: 105

Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 5

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohammed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Torche, Leo Welch, Astral Swans, Mastery, Leviathan, Lightning Bolt, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Waters

My Beats account is still fucked in the head so I’m relegated to Googletube clips today.  It’s really nice the way Beats reaches out to their customers and apologizes for their server outage.  I called them yesterday and the guy said I don’t know when it’s going to be working, just keep trying to log in.

And it’s no fucking wonder people don’t want to listen to music.  No apology, just keep logging in asshole.

@@@ Torres: Sprinter (Not sure, 2015).  A retro-90’s rock nugget fronted by a blond hottie, which I’m sure had no influence of the decision to release her music.  Not grungy, but guitar-o-centric with hints of slackness and detachment.  It’s an average effort but she’s wearing a nice hat in the video and there are some nice shots of her looking meaningfully out into the distance in the video.  I got to this tune and the tune below via the Tweet machine.

@@@ Malportado Kids: Total Cultura (Dead Labour, 2015).  A Latin music aggro-electronic influenced single that I got to via a music publicist email.  A female singer going over the top of a four on the floor kick and I thought the tune was average until they rocked a Mexican accordion sample (or a synth accordion) playing a pretty trick melody.  That’s a nice mash as far as I’m concerned.  Album out first week of June.  I can see this working big time live but I think their studio jams need a little more fine tuning.

@@@ Mbongwana Star: Malukayi (World Circuit, 2015).  I got to this tune via the new adds section on the WRIR weekly playlist email.  Konono No. 1, a pretty superlative African percussion plus outfit is on this track so it bubbles rhythmically pretty hard.  I don’t want to be too severe on the white folks out there, but when an African/electronic music combo gets it just right it smokes the indie electronic/flaccid disco that’s coming in waves these days.  This isn’t the most amazing combo I’ve heard, it’s more of a a righteous groove that the singer freestyles over, but folks should check it for flavor purposes.  I see from a bit of the video that there is a kit drummer but the dude is so steady I thought it was a drum machine.  Impressive beat lockdown.

@@@  Nai Harvest: Sick On My Heart (Topshelf, 2015).  A uptempo guitar indie pop punk biscuit from a  record that’s out today.  Energetic workout by the drummer followed by the guitar player.

Active Music Listening Monday April 27, 2015

YTD recordings listened to: 319
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 189
Not good music: 104

Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 5

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohammed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Torche, Leo Welch, Astral Swans, Mastery, Leviathan, Lightning Bolt, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Waters

@@@ Ezra Furman: Lousy Connection (Joyful Noise, 2015).  Listening is a tad thin today as my Beats store is down, I called them and they told me how much they sucked and how desperately they would love to pay artists and small labels more (no, he didn’t) and he said they know I’m a complete music junkie and I’m one of their top ten customers (no they didn’t).  Sweet Jesus, I’m at the mercy of the music publicists/Soundcloud tunes, and I feel bad about that but there ain’t fuck all I can do about it.  Here we have a bit of an old school doo wop influenced jam from a cross dressing gent out in San Fran.  I support freaks not that cross dressing is freaky.  Big campy arrangement, Elton John redux after the door wop intro.  Gotta give points for mashing up ’60s doo woo vocals and Elton John piano rock and coming up with a pretty unpredictable and engaging campy tune.

https://soundcloud.com/bella-union/ezra-furman-lousy-connection-mfit/s-r8Ns7

@@@ J Fernandez: Read My Mind (Joyful Noise, 2015).  A single off an upcoming record that I got to via a music publicist.  I like the organ/whistle or whistle-y organ part, I don’t like Fernandez’ flattish voice and the rest is pretty standard guitar indie.  Mid tempo messed up relationship tune.

https://soundcloud.com/joyful-noise-recordings/03-read-my-mind-1

@@@ We Are Ghosts: Andarta (Self-released?, 2015).  Live improvised music I was turned onto by an email from the band.  Opens up ambient with big waves of guitar feedback and slow drums — a bit Metallica intro, a bit Pink Flloyd.  Continues in the ambient vein and this is more in the improvised/jam band rock arena rather than any sort of jazz improv.  Lots of space, big female singer, slow energy, have at it.  Some interesting Middle Eastern synth flavors on the third tune, Deserted Monuments.  Full cannabis slow music show.

@@@  The New Switcheroo: The Heartless Sky (Self-released, 2015).  Indie folk rock EP out of Chicago that I got to via a music publicist.  Instrumentation is piano, violin/fiddle, acoustic guitar and a female vocalist, oh wait here comes a wave of vocal harmonies.  Sweet.  The second tune, Pixelated NM brings in the rock drum and electric bass and a pretty 1970’s folk rock vibe.  Lush production and a lot of feelings, not aimed at headbangers and ascetics but well done.

Best of 2015 Pick 8

Khaira Arby: Timbuktu Tarab (Popcornlab, 2011)

I was reading a publicist email blurb this week where Robert Christgau (eminent American rock critic) said Band X ‘tore shit up’.  And to be honest, I thought they were wet cardboard soft, but this woman Khaira Arby and her band, now they tear shit up on this 2010 release (and they have a new record coming out in the next month or so)

A two guitar attack, one plinky rhythm guitar and a lead player who picks 99% of white indie guitar players out of his/her stool.

Ms. Arby who hails from the Saharan Timbuktu is a force on the microphone.  Strong hardly describes what she has going on melodically and tonally.

Add in a rock solid kit drummer and a bass player and you have a band that tears shit up.

How Jay Z keeps the myth of the independent musician alive

From here:

“There was a wonderful opportunity squandered to highlight what this service would mean for artists who are struggling and to make a plea to people’s hearts and pocketbooks to pay a little more for this service that was going to pay these artists a more reasonable streaming rate. And they didn’t do it. That’s why this thing is going to fail miserably.”


The quote above is from the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie, and while I don’t really like his band he is right on in this quote.

How can Jay Z and some of the most financially successful corporate musicians stand up there acting like they’re independent, anti-corporate musicians?

Part of this comes out of a long tradition of large corporate music companies hiding behind small botique labels they set up and market as independent labels.  None of that is independent at all, but they’ve done it.

And the moniker indie rock, an almost meaningless term at this point that grew up out of grassroots punk where musicians and small venues and small labels and distributors worked together independently of the mainstream music business.

So while I fucking loathe Jay Z for his deception and general predatory behavior, in this case he’s just doing what large music companies have been doing for a long ass time.

And since those are the people he’s been rolling with since he came up it’s not surprising to see this move out of him and his streaming service.

I’m glad to see it hasn’t worked for shit.

Active Music Listening Friday April 24, 2015

YTD recordings listened to: 315
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 186
Not good music: 103

Honorable Mentions: 9
Buys: 5

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohammed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Torche, Leo Welch, Astral Swans, Mastery, Leviathan, Lightning Bolt, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Waters

@@@ Urban Cones: Weekends (Astralwerks, 2015).  It’s Friday so a single tune called Weekends off the Beats Highlights.  Fuzzy bass, friendly vocals, 1980’s rock drum sound, and an anthem to feeling it on the weekends.  It’s not a bad hook but they flog the fuck out of the listener with it — maybe coulda cooked it up a little more.

@@@ Rocky Votalato: Hospital Handshakes (No Sleep Records, 2015).  Some mainstream indie I got to via this week’s All Music weekly ‘notable’ releases.  Votalato has a serious voice and he sings over a pretty straight rock rhythm section.  He’s not sad, but he’s pretty serious.  He busts out the electric guitar in the tune clipped below.

@@@ Tribulation: The Children of the Night (Century Media, 2015).  Some Swedish metal off the Beats Highlights page.  After a somber orchestral intro it’s into a hard rock tune with a goblin singer.  It’s more of an epic hard rock/classic metal sound than a full post-apocalyptic meltdown metal ringer.  Big shred on the second tune Melancholia and the third tune is full old school guitar ka-chunk.

@@@ Brand New: Mene (Procrastinate! Music Traitors, 2015).  A rockin’ single track off the Beats Highlights page.  It’s a raver, uptempo as fuck with full rock drumming and a wall of slightly alt-country guitar splatter.  I liked it.