Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Music Library: Architecture in Helsinki, Arctic Monkeys, Arcwelder, Aretha Franklin, Armand Schaubroeck Steals

I'm going to start rating albums between 0 and 5 somethings which should be mildly amusing signifiers. But I'm too undercaffeinated to figure out what these should be. 0 = I'm going to erase. 1 = limited interest. 2 = 'sokay. 3 = decent. 4 = fascinating. 5 = headphone bliss.

Architecture in Helsinki - In Case We Die. Ever imagine what it would sound like if Poi Dog Pondering and Oingo Boingo set out to cover Magma and the later Talking Heads albums? Neither have I. But this is good, anyway. 3 somethings.

Arctic Monkeys - "Mardy Bum." Don't know where I got this. Don't know why. Generic guitar pop. 1 something.

Arcwelder - Sampler. This is a mix made by an Internet friend from a while back. I like some of the songs pretty well, but overall, it sounds like a bunch of early 90s bands sounded without bringing much new to the table. 2 somethings.

Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You. A perfect slice of late-60s Memphis/Muscle Shoals soul with Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd at the peak of their recording wonder-twin powers. At least 5 somethings. More like 15.

Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul. The follow-up. I like it a little less than I Never Loved A Man, but that's like saying I like this Botticelli a little less than that one. They're both stratospherically great. What's best about this is that you've heard these songs a million times, but it's easy to forget just how freakin' phenomenal they are. Try to listen to "Chain of Fools" like you've never heard it before with that rubbery Joe South guitar, demanding bassline, horn punctuation (usually providing a "!" for the vocals), multilayered call-and-response backing vocals, handclaps, steadily increasing drumbeat, and tell me how you can resist that thing. At least 5 somethings, but more like 14.5.

Aretha Franklin - 30 Greatest Hits. Just a handful of these, actually. Nothing from the albums already reviewed, but mostly from later, overproduced work. Aretha's voice: great. The material: yawn. Some of the tracks: godawful. 2 somethings.

Aretha Franklin - Under Her Spell. This is some sort of Starbucks monstrosity compilation with a select tracks ripped out. I have only those songs that I didn't have already, which are mostly from the Aretha in Muscle Shoals period. Goes without saying that they're excellent, but I should have the source albums instead of this. 4 somethings.

Armand Schaubroeck Steals - A Lot Of People Would Like To See Armand Schaubroeck... Dead. A triple-LP rock opera of Schaubroeck airing the ample dirty laundry of his past. This opens with Schaubroeck confessing to robbing a church-among 32 other robberies-to his priest, followed by some scathing proto-punk VU-style craziness. He documents his arrest and incarceration, a nightmarish experience that obviously still plagues him. It's harrowing, incredible, unforgettable stuff, like Lou Reed, Iggy, and Patti Smith all rolled into a demented, possibly evil dwarf. 5 somethings. Or more. I haven't been uploading album images, but Schaubroeck's deserve a viewing.

Armand Schaubroeck Steals - I Came to Visit But Decided to Stay. Another concept album. This one is about a priest in love with a nun, Sister Jennifer. Their love is forbidden, as is suicide. So Schaubroeck, playing Father Michael, shoots his beloved dead. Then he goes to her graveside to drink himself to death. Unbelievable, right? Schaubroeck is just getting warmed up. 5 somethings.

Armand Schaubroeck Steals - Ratfucker. I don't have the live album that came between I Came To Visit and this one, Live At The Holiday Inn, but I'm always hoping some kind soul will give me a copy. Anyway, Ratfucker. I'm not sure where to start. I think the word "unhinged" would be best. This is unhinged music, maybe the most punk shit I've ever heard in my life, and I've heard a lot of punk shit. In the title song, for instance, Schaubroeck adopts the voice of a gang boss willing to do anything for money, and unafraid to list the possibilities. The music slashes and burns, the chorus screams in agony and ecstasy, and Schaubroeck completely loses his shit screaming, "TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT" over and over again, while dropping F-bombs like Al Swearingen imported into the 70s. Goddamn!, I say. It's a terrifying journey into the dark night of the soul, the album Lou Reed always wanted to make in the 70s while he was too strung out on smack, a Celine-like celebration of the death impulse. 18 somethings.

Armand Schaubroeck Steals - Shakin' Shakes. Unfortunately, I only have part of this album, and the rip is lousy. Anyone willing to hook a brother up would be most amply appreciated. This one sounds like Alex Chilton's R&B nightmares. Lovers of The Cramps or The Gun Club take note. 4.5 somethings.

Julian Cope's article on Schaubroeck is more extensive and better than mine, so go read it.


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From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

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