Monday, July 21, 2008

Music Library: Band of Susans, Bang On A Can, Bango, Banyan, Baroness, Barrington Levy, Barry White, Bartlebees, Bash & Pop, Bat For Lashes, Bats

Man, it's been a while since I did one of these!

Band of Susans - Peel Sessions, "1,000,000," Here Comes Success, "Drill," and "Ahead." The Peel Sessions album has three BoS songs and three covers - Gang of Four's "I Found That Essence Rare," the Stones' "Child of the Moon," and Wire's "Too Late," all fantastic songs that lend themselves to BoS's wall of sound. "1,000,000" is a cover of the REM song. Success (an Iggy reference in the title) is a phenomenal wall of almost-ambient skronk with jittery post-punk rhythms, like Sonic Youth covering Brian Eno covering the Feelies. Fantastic. "Drill" is an interesting cover of the Wire track from a whole album of covers of that same song called Dugga Dugga Dugga. "Ahead" is yet another Wire cover, from yet another Wire tribute album.

Bang On A Can - In C, Philip Glass: Music In 5ths, and Brian Eno: Music For Airports (Live). Interesting experiments in new compositional music. The first is Terry Riley's sublime composition, and although one friend -- the composer Steve Hicken, to drop a name -- calls it the worst recorded version of Riley's masterpiece, I like it. Either of the two tracks on the Philip Glass album are okay by themselves but overwhelming in tandem (that's one after another, McNulty). And the Eno album is bizarre, a mostly note-for-note live version of Eno's ambient album that seems only to exist to prove that it can be done. I'd rather listen to the real thing.

Bango - s/t. A fat slab of Brazilian garage-psychedelia. My Portugeuse is poor, so I have no idea what most of the songs are about, even when they're in English. It's okay, but it brings the utter timeless brilliance of Os Mutantes into sharp relief.

Banyan - "Mad As A Hornet," "Israelite," "El Sexxo," "King of Longbeach." These are some tracks from Mike Watt's free-jazz collective that I got from a blog some time back. Great stuff. At least one of the basslines is identical to a song on Watt's first solo album.

Baroness - First, Second, and Red Album. Killer metal band with an Allman Brothers jones and the chops to make it work.

Barrington Levy - Haul & Pull Up Selecta. The album appears to be a compilation, but the only tracks I have are the ones by Levy, an early dancehall singer and producer.

Barry White - All-Time Greatest Hits. I bought this while going through a 70s soul phase sometime back in the mid-90s. There's a few amazing tracks on it, but more cheese per square measure than most doctors would allow. Some of the songs are completely unlistenable. Maybe I just need more love in my cold, shivering heart.

The Bartlebees - "She Loves Monsters." Garage rock from a David Smay Halloween mix.

Bash & Pop - Friday Night Is Killing Me. This is Tommy Stinson's first post-Replacements band. It's interesting, because you can clearly hear how Stinson learned songcraft from Paul Westerberg as all of the songs are organized 'Mats-style, but the lyrics completely lack Westerberg's punch. Heck, I guess you could say the same of pretty much all of Westerberg's post-Replacements work, too. A couple of the songs are passable enough that they could be minor tracks from the 'Mats last two albums. I don't say that out of love.

Bat For Lashes - Fur and Gold. Somewhere between the Shangri-Las and Björk, this album is a fantastic taste of ethereal pop dread.

The Bats - By Night, Daddy's Highway, Fear of God, and At The National Grid. Is this the first kiwi-rock band we've hit? The Bats are led by Robert Scott, who was the bassist for The Clean, one of my all-time favorite bands. And the Bats are utterly delightful. By Night and Fear of God are decent albums by most standards, but Daddy's Highway and At The National Grid are so far out on the fuzz-folk-jangle axis exemplified by the beloved Feelies that they feel written on my DNA. I should mention that there was almost 20 years between the release of Daddy's Highway and National Grid, and ten years between the Bat's previous album and National Grid. And yet it sounds vibrant and timeless and wonderful, and I recommend it to all.


Steve Hicken 7:28 AM, July 22, 2008  


My comment about the BoaC In C sure sounds harsh. My specific problems with the recording (working from memory here) are that the Pulse is downplayed and the ending is a fade-out. One of the most exciting and moving things about this piece is the ending, when the ensemble has played through all of the fragments and the Pulse stands alone, and then the silence when the Pulse stops.

For more information about In C, see my article in The High Hat.

Hayden Childs 10:01 AM, July 22, 2008  

That article is right here.

I've never actually caught on that it fades rather than pulses out, but I have especially noticed the ending pulse in the two other versions of In C that I have. Speaking of, have you heard the Acid Mothers Temple version?

Steve Hicken 4:02 PM, July 22, 2008  

No, I haven't. What's it like?

Hayden Childs 9:10 PM, July 22, 2008  

It's more raucous, to say the least. You can hear the pulse at the end for a while, but it's subsumed into a droning oscillator in the final minute. It's a little over 20 minutes. I have a more traditional version, too, but I don't know who did it. It's in two tracks of about 19 minutes each, so I think it was ripped from vinyl.

Steve Hicken 9:32 PM, July 22, 2008  


That last one may be the original SUNY Buffalo recording.

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