Monday, November 30, 2009

17 June 1997

Tomorrow, on December 1st 2009, one of the most underrated albums of the 20th century is going to be released and treated to the deluxe revisions for the 21st century. The album has one of the most unfortunate birthdays ever, June 17th, 1997 (June 16t in Europe). Because on that date, a so-called more important album was released. An album that brought a cult band to the brink of super-stardom, and a cult band would be kept at the status of a cult band. Looking back twelve years now, I would take on any music critic from any era, and many more to come to point out their short comings about the worship of what many consider to be the greatest album of the 1990's if not the 1900's and how they are wrong and picked the right release day, but the wrong album.

1997, such an interesting year. We were riding a crest of richness, and America looked indestructible. Computers were rearing their ugly heads and it looked like the future had arrived! A brisk time of excitement and moving forwardness. Clinton was smokin' cigars and grunge was dead. No reason to be sad, or paranoid. Everything was Ok! Oh yeah, and we had a new album that just came out the was the opposite of everything positive, but instead was terrified of the future and saw our current global politics and culture as plastic and fake. This album from a cult British band, would turn to music industry on it's head. Critics would go on and call this album a watershed moment for alternative music. Ok Computer was born.

Wow! I'm Ok Computer! Look how bright and shiny, yet sterile I am!

This was a wet dream for music critics that were stuck in the doldrums of the emergence of rap-rock and the early hints of the pop revolution that was just budding in the minds of the powers that be. This was their 5 star album. This was the future, listen to how glossy it is, listen to how eerie it predicts of things to come. Just listen. This might, just be, Dark Side of the Moon Part II.

Ok Computer would go on to get a 10 out of 10 from NME and a 10 out of 10 from Pitchfork Media. Q would give it 5 out of 5 stars. Rolling Stone 4 out of 5 (later revisiting this score and giving it 5 out of 5). This album would be nominate for a Mercury Prize, and 2 Grammy nods in 1998 (including Album of the year). Thom Yorke had just indoctrinated a new generation of music-snob pseudo-intellectuals that could now wax on this album for hours. How beautiful it was. This legion would continue to grow until it overflowed with lust when the even darker Kid A came out in 2000.
Ok Computer would make innumerable best of lists, including album of the year by various publications. Over the years it would be on more best of lists, but this time, off all time. Ok Computer seemed to get more and more attention as the years went on, and as Radiohead slowly made more albums. This album was predicting the future, and now we were living it. 12 years later, it is still an album that no one wants to criticize and raise a finger or a hoot to. There is no reason to. This is a flawless album. Trust me. It is. I love this album, along with all of the music-snobs and Yorke heads as myself. There is some truth that needs to be stated though. There was a better album that came out that day that Ok Computer was released. There really was. Trust me. I listened to both of them recently, and hands down, Ok Computer was beat that year, and that decade, and that century... and it came out the same day. The funny thing is someone had it right that year. According to NME that year, Ok Computer was only the 2nd best album in 1997. . .


Come Together

NME called Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space by British cult band Spiritualized
the best of album of 1997... and the were right. God were they right. Where everyone seemed to over look this masterpiece, especially in America. Radiohead fit in somehow into the American landscape, while this overamped, soul driven, stringed, mash-up, got lost. This delicate piece of work that seeps with happiness and sadness, love and loss, yet was tossed aside for a macbook case. This album wanted to make you feel like you were on pills, and even had a recommended dosage that you should take, and packaged as a pack of drugs. This album succeeded in that. It mellows you out, it hypes you out, it mellows you out again, then it brings a tear to your eye. J. Spaceman wanted you on his trip, with his pain, with his love, with his failure, maybe even make you feel his future infection of double-pneumonia.

There is a stark comparison between Ok Computer and Ladies and Gentlemen... One was based in paranoia and fear, the other was about the passions of love or the hate of failures in life. One was about non-living computers taking over humanity and turning us into robots, the other was about being overly human and being destroyed by humanism. Listening to these albums side by side today, one sounds more powerful than it ever has, and the other album is a frozen crystal stuck in time. There is two reasons for this, and they go together. They are both arranged as a composer would arrange a classical masterpiece. The instrumentation is there. Thom Yorke's voice is just as sweet and compelling as J. Spaceman's. So what makes difference in this? Soul and Emotion.

J. Spaceman makes you feel. Ladies and Gentlemen is all about the experience and the inners. Ok Computer all of that has been sucked dry by the frozeness of no hope. Ladies and Gentlemen gives us hope and serenity through out the whole album. Ladies and Gentlemen makes you cry for life. Ok Computer makes you forget what life was. Now, I know that was the point of Ok Computer. It is supposed to be cold and distant, that is part of the fear. Honestly though, I don't feel that distant 12 years after the album came out. I want to feel inside, anything, good or bad. Ladies and Gentlemen offers this. Strings, loops, saxophones, choruses, it is all there.

Sun so bright that I'm nearly blind
Cool cos I'm wired and I'm out of my mind
Warms the dope running down my spine
But I don't care 'bout you and I've got nothing to do
Free as the warmth in the air that I breathe
Even freer than dmt
Feel the warmth of the sun in me
But I don't care 'bout you and I've got nothing to do
Love in the middle of the afternoon
Just me, my spike in my arm and my spoon
Feel the warmth of the sun in the room
But I don't care 'bout you
And I've got nothin'

--- "Think I'm In Love" J. Spaceman

You look so tired and unhappy
Bring down the government
They don't, they don't speak for us
I'll take a quiet life
A handshake, some carbon monoxide

--- "No Surprises" Thom Yorke.

Spiritualized is offering an escapism through drugs, Radiohead is offering escapism through death. No one could argue that heroin would lead to death, this is debatable under different circumstances. Carbon Monoxide is not debatable, Thom Yorke is choosing instant death over suburbanism. This theme would latch onto Radiohead for the next decade until In Rainbows.

Tomorrow, Ladies and Gentlemen comes out with a 3 disc set (plus a 12 disc 3" CD set!!) to commemorate their great achievement that is still cast aside. Radiohead earlier this year with a re-issue of Ok Computer and that gathered much fanfare (despite the ongoing war between Capitol Records and Radiohead over their past catalog). Ladies and Gentlemen will come out, and a few aging gen-xers will pick it up who are still longing for sounds of that magical album. No one else will really buy it, hipster will continue to argue Kid A versus Ok Computer (The Bends is actually the correct answer), yet this magical piece will be on shelves somewhere, just hoping to be rediscovered.

I will leave you with what I think is possible the greatest and most heart-wrenching song ever written. Enjoy:



---JJS









Thursday, November 26, 2009

oneida & wilderness

oneida -rated o

the latest release from brooklyn's best, a triple album and the second in their 'thank your parents' trilogy (claimed to be a statement on music in the 21st century). the songs are varied in length and sound, and blend and bleed together like an audio laffy-taffy. things start with 'brown out in lagos,' an almost dancehall track with blown-out bass drum, cowbell, sci-fi rayguns, and a hard rubbery bassline that steps in midsong. along the way is 'the life you prefered' with a guitar riff that sounds like something local siezure inducing heroes wildcatting/bars of gold would drop, in its decptively light playful power. my favorite: the 20 minute super jam 'folk wisdom.' it doesn't so much pull you in, it's not what your world becomes, it is your every perception, impulse, and concious ideal for the extent your time listening to it. those are but a taste of what is explored on this record, which there simply is not enought space to describe here. super duper psych jams for your temple of drunken mind melt worship, man.

wilderness - (k)no(w)here

part of a collaboration with visual artist charles long (who aslo worked with stereolab on a another exhibition at the witney in 1995) and a continuation in the band's serpentine drone rock. wilderness present epic soundscapes of reverb drenched gutars, minimal bass lines, and slow quaking drums with hollering vocals challenging the worlds self-absorbed living patterns. this, their third album, blends every track together in a cascading wave. wilderness has some how melded less and more, with the songs being barer than on the previous two albums, but the whole record comes off as full and omnipresent. 'own anything' is almost a pop tune in it's directness and catchiness, whereas 'soft cage' is a simmering seven and a half minute creation that subverts it's own tension two-thirds of the way through to become calm and resevered. the movements in each song come together into a tapestry, turning into one piece that takes multiple listens to decode. with two other releases that are different from most anything else but still uniqely their own, wilderness is in their own way holding true to the statement best associated with the fall: always the same, always different.

both bands i am totally obsessed with, and can be found on the jagjaguwar label, which houses oneida's pet label brah records and put out 'the lord dog bird,' solo album of colin mc cann, wilderness' guitar player. brah has all sorts of awesome different wierd wonderfuls, and the lord dog bird album is looped guitar and powerful wavering vocals on a plate of warm 4-track hiss. do yourself a favor and get into this shit. thanks for reading!

-frank

Monday, November 23, 2009

1963- John Cale

A rather quiet John Cale as the guest on the game show 'I've Got A Secret'. He plays part of an Erik Satie piece toward the end.
Predates the formation of VU by about 2 years.

Joe Meek

Joe Meek was an early 1960's record producer from England. He was became known for a sound that used lots of reverb, echo, close miking, multiple overdubs, and strange sound effects. Once you've heard a Joe Meek product, it's easy to spot another. 

He had some success, most notably with "Telstar" recorded by The Tornados, which hit number one on the US Billboard Top 100. A popular story at the time of the record's release was that the weird distortions and background noise came from sending the signal up to the Telstar satellite and re-recording it back on Earth.  More likely, it has been claimed that the sounds intended to symbolize radio signals were produced by Meek running a pen around the rim of an ashtray, and that the "rocket blastoff" at the start of the record was actually a flushing toilet, with the recordings made to sound exotic by playing the tape in reverse at various speeds. I don't remember "Telstar" every getting played on oldies radio, but I definetly remember "Have I The Right?" by the Honeycombs. To me this is his poppiest song.

However, the story isn't all weird sound effects and layers of reverb. Meek was obsessed with the occult and the idea of "the other side". He would set up tape machines in graveyards in a vain attempt to record voices from beyond the grave, in one instance capturing the meows of a cat he claimed was speaking in human tones, asking for help. He had an obsession with Buddy Holly (claiming the late American rocker had communicated with him in dreams) and other dead rock and roll musicians. He had growing amounts of paranoia and was even convinced that Decca Records would put hidden microphones behind his wallpaper in order to steal his ideas. For reasons exactly unknown, on February 3rd, 1967 Meek took a single barrel shotgun and took the life of his landlady before aiming the gun at his own head. A sad and tragic ending for sure.

The Tornadoes "Telstar"

John Leyton "Johnny Remember Me"

Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages "'Til The Following Evening"

The Honeycombs "Have I The Right?"

I had never seen the video for this song until a couple days ago. Thanks for keeping it weird Art of Noise.

Friday, November 20, 2009

as recent as last night...

...i've fallen in love with slowdive. not much for me to say except that their music makes me feel a multitude of emotions.

here's their song 'dagger' from their 1993 release souvlaki.

also worth noting - they do a cover of lee hazlewood & nanci sinatra's 'some velvet morning', another recent obsession of mine.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pop Genius Mark Mueller and "DuckTales"


I have a sick fascination with the people who write some of the sickest (cool/disgusting) pop music ever written. Ever since seeing a video segment about the composer, Kristian Lundin, who wrote N-Sync's "Bye Bye Bye," and learning about Jesse Frederick, writer of many TGIF theme songs like "Perfect Strangers" and "Full House," I just can't stop reading about them. Who are these pop geniuses? My latest obsession is Mark Mueller.

Mueller's resume includes chart-topping songs for groups like Heart; Earth, Wind & Fire (shit, I am one element shy of summoning Captain Planet); and Amy Grant. His movie credits include: "Honey, I Blew Up The Kid," One Hour Photo," and "National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation." But he's most famous, to me at least, for crafting the fantastic "DuckTales" theme (as well as "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers," if you want to be a completist).

I've included an acoustic rendition in the video above to really showcase what a great composition it is. Once stripped of its RnB vocals, horns and keys, you get down to this shifting song full of great dynamic changes. An interesting note about the performer: His name is Adrian Holovaty and he's the creator of chicagocrime.org, everyblock.com, and writer of the Python-based Django web framework. He does these guitar arrangements just for fun.

Antena- Camino Del Sol

Now that most of the trees are bare and the chill in the air is constant, the weather calls for an equally frigid tone in music. Antena is the sound of bossa nova frozen in synths.

Reminds me of this time of year especially, the oddly prideful feeling of knowing you'll have to stand up to winter again, even as cold and dark threatens to devour your soul.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

all of my life.

i have a feeling most people know this song, but, i just stumbled on it a month or so ago. i'm addicted to it. give me anything motown sounding and i'm in heaven.


a little info on this group from connecticut:

http://www.rimpo.com/detroitsoul.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-nNPYSqP64

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You think I'm psycho, don't you mama?



My roommate Kyle showed me this song tonight and it's truly unbelievable. It was written by Leon Payne, a Texan song writer who wrote a couple hits for Hank Williams. After hearing about the Charles Whitman massacre that took place in Austin, Texas he wrote "Psycho" but denied anyone from recording it until after his passing. I couldn't find much information on the performer, Jack Kittel, outside of him being from Muskegon, Michigan, but that's irrelevant to how haunting his performance is.

Jack Kittel, "Psycho"


Justin

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Keggs

To Find Out.



Detroit-60's-garage. It's been hard to dig up much more information on them. Apparently they only pressed around 80 or so 45's, and there are less than 10 floating around these days. . .

Either way, it sounds like how a weekend should feel.
Enjoy.

--Ashley

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Am Sitting In A Room

an old favorite, not so much music as sound. entrancing.

Alvin Lucier - I Am Sitting In A Room

express version: first 5 minutes, last 5 minutes.

recommended listen: take 45 minutes and spend it on the couch with alvin and the beverage of your choice. do some thinking.

Fuck Daft Punk and Kanye West.



ROLL OUT COLA BOTTLE SHAKE BABY, YOURE FREAKIN ME OUT, GIRL

Edwin Birdsong, "Cola Bottle Baby"




justin

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christ, synthesizers and science - Joy Electric



“Amazing” and “Christian artist,” let alone “ground-breaking,” are three phrases I would never expect to say together but California-based electro/synth pop group Joy Electric is deserving.

The song in the video, “The Boy Who Never Forgot,” and its fostering album, "
The White Songbook,” is some of the most intricate and layered pop music I’ve ever heard. While most electronic music’s punch is held in empty space, timing, beats and build ups, Joy Electric is just an out-of-the-gates, wild-horse-race-of synth melodies.

What really gets me is that, at any point in a song, there are usually three or four great synth lines unfolding at once. More impressive is that everything you hear is generated using only a
Roland System-100 - talk about a media study. But what about the lyrics? Are they steeped in buzz-killing religious symbolism?

The answer is: sometimes, but it’s usually not too overt. More surprising are songs about Austrian scientist
Nikola Tesla, minerals, telescopes, Arthurian legend and other historic/esoteric/philosophic territories. It’s so unique and great that it gets little traction in the Christian world or otherwise; too weird for them and too Christian for everyone else. We make our beds…
three things i've been enjoying:

1- otis redding - the otis redding dictionary of soul
i procured a grand majority of the otis redding catalog for getting in character for my holloween costume, 'duckie' from 'pretty in pink.' the music is tight but smooth, total in the pocket from booker t. and the mgs. otis himself: on fire. chompin and stompin, spitting every word out and lickin it back up again. contains 'try a little tenderness' which is what duckie dances to in the movie. boys listen up, this song will get you the girl of your dreams (or just that terribly cute one at the other end of the bar who seems so elusive...).

2 - mogwai - my father, my king
my heart has always been with godspeed of all the 'post-rock' bands i first heard, for their emotional reaction. mogwai though, are pure raw power. they can be pretty too, but this, recorded by steve albini after their relase of the album 'rock action,' will clentch your fists, dilate your eyes, grit your teeth, and pucker your asshole. an old jewish hymn taught to the band by their touring manager (i think?), that goes from quiet and ominous to loud and ominous, to a quiet refrain, a loud refrain, a louder refrain, a louder refrain, an deafening refrain, and an explosion of knob twiddling amplifier prayer. i wish i could fuck as good as this song plays. (sidenote: i've seen them perform it live, and words are not appropriate).

3 - bark psychosis - hex
amazing 'band' from england. put out this, a handful of singles/eps/compliation tracks before it, and another album nearly ten years later. all i can say is it's beautiful music to walk around and look at the leaves on the ground to. read the wiki or allmusic entries for more of the story. also, really good at doing that thing where the song takes a right turn into someting totally fucked up but sounds completely natural.

thanks for reading!
-frank

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ryuichi Sakamoto

I'm enthralled with this guy right now. He began his career with an early electropop group called Yellow Magic Orchestra, then went solo in the early eighties to work on film scores, rather interesting synthpop, and then some spacey new-age compositions. Here's a few videos to illustrate:

YMO - Computer Games

Next, this great synth-ballad with David Sylvian. EDIT** This song is the theme to a movie starring none other than DAVID BOWIE. Any lingering doubts about its essential awesomeness should be gone.




And most recently, a minimal piano piece called Nostalgia

One more: Risky.
Wiki says the video's concept is based a short story about a robot from the future falling in love with one of Man Ray's models of the 1930s.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

curtis.

All day. everyday. I really cannot stop listening to him. Specifically, Curtis Live 1971. His voice is heartbreaking, honest, it gets me. This clip is not from Curtis Live, but, it's one of my favorites. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-l91O9VxN0&feature=PlayList&p=537697F3C2F87A65&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1

Springsteen plays Detroit music in London, England.

My father has always been a man of simple pleasures. Autumn morning fishing trips, a couple cans of Stroh's beer, and rock and roll music. These small indulgences, though simple, were enjoyments that my mother never truly understood -or approved of. Thus, when I was old enough to understand such simple pleasures -I think it was around eighth grade- the late evening hours in our household, after my mother had gone to bed, became known as man's time. Nothing speaks father-son bonding quite like Stroh's beer and rock and roll.

There's something special about Springsteen's music. It's easy to get swept up by the Born In The USA hype, however, there are a lot of powerful, moving numbers of his that have slipped through the cracks and gone unnoticed by people our age. Perhaps I have stock invested in him; that he reminds me of my dad. However, I digress... this song is live at the Hammersmith-Odeon in London, 1975, right after Born To Run was released, but before his career started to blow up.

Springsteen and the E-Street Band are known for playing three hour plus shows with no breaks, often including some kind of medley -either comprised of his own songs or others -one of the reasons he's earned the title "the hardest working man in showbiz." Here's a Medley featuring the music of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. Enjoi.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

cold,minimal,foreign...

snowy red. the right to die. released in 1982 Belgium
i have the full album in mp3 format if anyone is interested.

enjoy

Dead Man's Bones...

Dead Man's Bones - This group is a real thrill for me, I love the vocals. errrie yet fun, fun like a funeral. A sound reminiscent of The Munsters(tv show) meets Clinic(the Liverpool band) oh...and the singer is totally HOT! Here's their song "In The Room Where You Sleep" I also recommend checking out the tune "My Body's A Zombie For You."

Dead Man’s Bones - “In the Room Where You Sleep” from villi starkasa on Vimeo.

Soul-crushing Philip Glass film: Koyaanisqatsi


There's a joke: "Knock, knock - who's there? Knock, knock - who's there? Knock, knock - who's there? Knock, knock - who's there? Philip Glass." That pretty much sums up his musical style - minimal, repetitive...amazing. I've had a strong obsession with him lately. I just recently watched a documentary and saw him perform solo piano numbers at an art museum in Chicago. But maybe the best thing I've discovered by him is this film: "Koyaanisqatsi."

Created with Godfrey Reggio, Koyaanisqatsi is a visual tone poem with no dialogue or vocal narrative that relies heavily on time-lapse and slow-motion. Its shots of cities, natural landscapes in the U.S., people at work in their daily lives, are stunning. If ever there were a candidate for IMAX, "Koyaanisqatsi" is it. In the Hopi language the word means "crazy life" or "life out of balance." That's pretty much the premise of the film. It'll make you cry.

The segment I have posted above is called "The Grid" and it is somewhat a climax for the film. Filled with overhead night shots of skyscrapers and traffic patterns, it shows the sinister side of our creation. The song used is called "Pruitt-Igoe" and is my favorite from the soundtrack. Even if you don't want to watch the whole thing, I suggest jumping to about 2:10 to hear the apocalyptic choir and damming string section. If you wanted to ride a burning chariot into hell, this would be the song to do it to.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

thirteen

I stumbled across this and its companion episodes last night.

Soul! » November 1, 1972 | THIRTEEN

"Soul!" ran from 1968 to 1973 and was intended to be "not only a vehicle to promote African-American artistry, community and culture, but also a platform for political expression and the fight for social justice. It showcased classic live musical performances from funk, soul, jazz, and world musicians, and had in-depth, extraordinary interviews with political, sports, literary figures and more. It was the first program on WNET to be recorded with the then-new technology of videotape, and most of the shows were recorded in real-time—not live, but unedited."

In its six years "Soul!" aired a staggering number of amazing musicians, vocalists, and cultural icons - Mary Wells, Odetta, Dee Dee Warwick, B.B. King, The Delfonics, Pharoah Sanders, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Betty Shabazz, Herbie Hancock, Nikki Giovanni, Max Roach, Stevie Wonder, and many more.

I haven't watched all of them yet, but I was digging this one (those outfits!) and the episode featuring Rahsaan Roland Kirk, in which he plays a nose flute as well as three saxophones at once (and it sounds good!). Check it out.

The Prisonaires--- Just Walkin' in the Rain



One of the most haunting doo-wop songs I've encountered. It was written in the 50's by Johnny Bragg, while in the Tennessee State Penitentiary on wrongful conviction. A radio DJ swung by the prison to do a news broadcast and heard Bragg and his friends singing. He was so moved by the song that he had them perform on air. It was such a hit that Bragg was effectively let out of prison (albeit only on "day passes" to tour).

On a more personal level, I have the impression that certain songs find their way to people at exactly the right time/place in their lives--- at least every once in awhile. This song found me on a particularly gloomy day last spring. (After all, people say April is the cruelest month.) This song, I think, echoes that melancholy and, in it's simple beauty, makes a sort of peace with it.

--Ashley

Tiger Trap plays a house show


This is a video of my favorite twee band, Tiger Trap, playing a show in what appears to be someone's living room. It’s a real document of the time (early 90s) – the band’s dress, how they move, their energy. I love the song, of course, but it’s the esthetics that are captivating. It’s like a fond memory of something that never happened to me.

It takes me back to now-defunct basement venues in Lansing that few remember the names of. The claustrophobia of the stage reminds me of what it’s like to be packed tight in a space that wasn’t meant to accommodate so many; tripping over furniture, wondering if the owners will later be pissed about the beer some guy just spilled on their carpet. Heartwarming.

Nothing On


Gareth Williams passed away from cancer earlier this decade but during the late 70s he was in a cult post -punk band called This Heat. After leaving the group in '80-something, he traveled across India for years. He spent the rest of his life making modest recordings with friends in Britain. 

I think he's a perfect example of a quiet, modest genius. 


This is from one of such projects. Recorded on analog tape.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground

Ryan and I heard this the other day on WDET while driving around. It's pretty embalming in its eeriness.

Justin

Kurt Vile 'Beach on the Moon'

I've been listening to this repeatedly since hearing it for the first time last night. From what I briefly gathered on the internet, he's from Philadelphia, was in a band called War on Drugs, Matador signed him last Spring, and he unabashedly reclaims early 90s grunge hair. I'm digging him:





-Amanda