Friday, January 17, 2014

Music Library: Theoretical Girls, These New Puritans, They Might Be Giants, The Thing, J.G. Thirwell, This American Life, Thom Yorke, Thomas A. Dorsey, Three Johns, Three-6 Mafia, Thrones

Theoretical Girls - Theoretical Record 1978-1981. In the Velvet Underground narrative, only 5,000 people bought copies of the first album, and all of them formed influential bands. But, see, that narrative has been turned on its head by the fact that you've heard of the VU and everybody knows who Lou Reed was. Theoretical Girls, however, was a band fronted by avant-garde composers inspired by punk rock, and they played maybe 20 gigs total, three of which were in Paris, and recorded two studio tracks, and that was it. But as these recordings show, the Theoretical Girls (along with Rhys Chatham) gave rise to Sonic Youth and the continuum of noise-punk. This collection focuses on the music of John Lohn. Apparently there is another collection dedicated to the songs of co-lead Glenn Branca, which I'll have to find at some point.

These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid (2008). Electronica band that sounds an awful lot like The Fall.

They Might Be Giants - NO! (2002) and Bed Bed Bed (2006). TMBG are not one of my favorite bands, but they are beloved by many people I like. This is an album and an EP showcasing their children's music, and my kids love this stuff. "Dad! Play that song that goes NO!"

The Thing - Action Jazz (2006). Loud, skronky, Scandinavian, unpredictable, violent rock-jazz. ACTION!

J.G. Thirwell - The Venture Brothers: The Music Of J.G. Thirwell (2010). Thirwell is a experimental composer first and foremost, but his association with the Venture Brothers has given him an audience for his most conventional, albeit slyly subversive, work.

This American Life - The Fix Is In (2000). Like many a middle-class guy, I'm a big fan of TAL, but this episode, the one exploring the lies and double-life of Mark Whitacre, later slightly fictionalized in the Soderbergh movie The Informant!, is one of my all-time favorites.

Thom Yorke - The Eraser (2006). I guess this was material that was unsuitable for Radiohead? And yet what it sounds like is Radiohead.

Thomas A. Dorsey - Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973). Dorsey revolutionized gospel music in the mid 20th century by incorporating sounds from blues and jazz and other popular music, which led to the fruitful interplay between gospel and soul music in the latter half of the 20th century.

The Three Johns - The Death Of Everything (1988). One of the earliest of Jon Langford's many, many side projects, the Three Johns is a band with him and a couple of similarly-named friends fucking around with post-punk and a drum machine.

Three-6 Mafia - Mystic Stylez (1995). Old-school horrorcore rap from Memphis. Quite good! Terrifying to Newt Gingrich cronies, though.

Thrones - Alraune (1996) and Sperm Whale (1999-2000). The solo project of Joe Preston, a supercool SOB who has played in Sunn O))), Harvey Milk, Earth, High On Fire, and Melvins. The music is like an artier OM, but Preston has lots of curveballs to throw at listeners, including a cover of the spaghetti western theme "Django."


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