Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Music Library: Ian Matthews, Ida, Iggy, Ikue Mori, Impossible Shapes, Incredible Moses Leroy, Incredible String Band, Individuals, Instruments

Ian Matthews - "Ol' 55." The great Brit-folkie, ex-Fairport singer doing the Tom Waits classic that was popularized by the (ugh) Eagles.

Ida - Lover's Prayers (2008). Speaking of Fairport, Ida is a folky, Fairport-ish indie-rock band led by spouses Elizabeth Mitchell and Daniel Littleton. This album was apparently recorded in Levon Helm's barn/studio with Michael Hurley, a sometimes member of the Holy Modal Rounders and folk force of nature of his own, playing on some tracks. Beautiful album. Highlights include a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson's "For Shame Of Doing Wrong" and an original called "The Killers 1964," which is about the Don Siegal film version of the Hemingway short story.

Iggy Pop - The Idiot (1977), Lust For Life (1977), and New Values (1979). I'm assuming there's nothing to sell any readers on with The Ig. What would I say? I mean, do you like music? You should own a copy of the first two of these. Do you like The Stooges' Raw Power album? You should own a copy of New Values. I've never had much use for Iggy's later solo albums.

Ikue Mori, Robert Quine, and Marc Ribot - Painted Desert (1995). Although released under Ikue Mori's name for contractual reasons, this album is all about the guitar interplay between Quine and Ribot. If those names mean anything to you, then you know that these guys play really, really, really well together. They're going for an open, Western theme on each track (built on their collaboration on John Zorn's album of Ennio Morricone music), and the overall effect is quite lovely and oh-so tasteful.

The Impossible Shapes - 9 (2008). This was a compilation offered by eMusic for free back in 2008. Allmusic compares the Impossible Shapes to Guided By Voices and The Olivia Tremor Control, and eMusic adds comparisons to Pavement and The Incredible String Band. Yes, these are all accurate. They are folky, poppy, psychedelic, and pure indie rock. I like 'em.

The Incredible Moses Leroy - "Electric Pocket Radio." An eclectic little pop song! No idea where I picked it up, but it's definitely interesting.

The Incredible String Band - The Incredible String Band (1966) and The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (1968). I have maybe four more ISB albums from this period on vinyl that I've never ripped. Some people who read this blog may think of Walter Alves sometimes, and I hope y'all think of him as fondly as I do. Walter, who I haven't seen in many, many years, was (and, I'm sure, is) a truly great guy, a relentlessly positive person who made major events happen without ever appearing to break a sweat. I'm sure everyone has known a person with that sort of energy about them, and they're all special in a particular way. Anyway, this is all to say that when Walter learned that I was a Richard Thompson fan, he kept mentioning The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter to me every time we were drinking and in proximity. I appreciated it, but at the time the album was out-of-print, or in limited print at best, and I didn't have the means to track it down. Anyway (I just realized that this story is going nowhere, but I'm glad I mentioned Walter, anyway), I finally found it used on vinyl and snapped it up. And I loved it. It's heady and folky in a good way. I started finding more and more ISB on used vinyl. But I haven't listened to it much lately (as should be clear, I suppose, by the fact that I have only digitized two of these albums).

The Individuals - Fields/Aquamarine (1982/1981). These are the only two releases from this Hoboken-based post-punk band, which were packaged and re-released together last year. The music is great, reminiscent of The Feelies and the B-52s, which some excellent stand-out tracks like "Monkey" and "Dancing With My Eighty Wives." The Fields part of this was produced by Mitch Easter and has his usual bouncy production without his usual booming drums.

The Instruments - Dark Småland (2008). It seems that all of the members of the Elephant Six collective get a turn leading their own band, and this is the band led by cellist Heather McIntosh, member of Japancakes and the Circulatory System and contributor to albums by Elf Power, Of Montreal, The Sunshine Fix, The Gerbils, Superchunk, and Macha. After putting out this album, she also worked as (here's where it gets weird, folks!) bassist for Gnarls Barkley and is currently pumping bottom for (you ready for this?) Li'l Wayne's touring band. Anyway, this album is about as far from Li'l Wayne as music gets, a swooping melancholic psych-folky song cycle built around lovely instrumental passages with minimalist lyrics (and harmony vocals by Jeff Mangum!). I love this album. The shady minor-key sounds remind me of how I felt when my brother and I had just moved to a little duplex just outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina many years ago, and it seemed that the forest barely carved room for the places where people lived out there. As late Summer eased into Fall, I would take my beloved dog Molly (dead now five years next month) for long walks through thick, pathless woods near Jordan Lake with heavy leaf cover on the ground and even in the dead of winter, fecund and green algae spotting the trees. Molly would race through the forest, happy as only a dog or a child could be, and we'd come home muddy and tired, thorns dotting my pants legs and matting her fur, the smell of decomposing leaves coloring the fresh air hanging on us both. When I close my eyes and listen to this album, that's exactly where and when I am, and I unabashedly and unashamedly and uncontrollably love this album for taking me there.


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