Thursday, July 31, 2014

Music Library: X, X-Ray Spex, Iannis Xenakis, XTC, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Yeasayer, Yelawolf, Yes, Yo La Tengo, Yo-Yo Ma, Dwight Yoakam, Yoko Ono, Young Knives, Young People

X - Los Angeles (1980), Wild Gift (1981), Under The Big Black Sun (1982), More Fun In The New World (1983), Ain't Love Grand (1985), See How We Are (1987), Live at Emo's November 11, 2002 bootleg. The best thing Ray Manzarek gave the world was the first X album. The best thing X gave the world was their second album. My favorite song X gave the world was on their fourth album ("I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts," and check out how much they progressively tear up the two chords of the verses with each new iteration in the attached video), but their essential punk-rockabilly-art mojo was starting to pass by that point. Still, there's some great moments on the next two albums, and even when I went to see them on their nostalgia tour of 2002 (represented on the bootleg here), they cooked like hell.

X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescents (1978). So freakin' great. I had never seen video of X-Ray Spex live until recently when I caught a piece of Wolfgang Buld's not-great documentary Punk In England with footage of the band, and man, Poly Styrene is electric.

Iannis Xenakis - Kraanerg (performed by the ST-X Ensemble, 1997). That's avant-garde, all right.

XTC - Skylarking (1986) and a compilation by a friend. The compilation has tracks from all over their career, so I know that I really like the ones from Drums and Wires more than any of their other tracks, but I'm not really much of an XTC fan.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell (2003), Show Your Bones (2006), and Is Is EP (2007). They come more into their own as they go, and I ended up liking each of these more than the last.

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals (2007). Having finished appropriating everything they could from African-American culture, young Brooklynites went for African and Latin music.

Yelawolf - Arena Rap (2008). This is silly as shit.

Yes - Fragile (1971) and Close To The Edge (1972). Well, I don't hate Yes as much as I thought I did and - I guess - quite like them for a lot of these albums, but I really do not like Jon Anderson's voice, which could charitably be described as hobbit castrati.

Yo La Tengo - Ride The Tiger (1986), New Wave Hot Dogs (1987), President Yo La Tengo (1989), Facebook (1990), Here Comes My Baby EP (1990), May I Sing With Me (1992), Upside Down EP (1992), Painful (1993), Shaker EP (1993), Electr-O-Pura (1995), Camp Yo La Tengo EP (1995), Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo compilation (1996), I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One (1997), Little Honda EP (1998), Strange But True (with Jad Fair, 1998), Aligre Radio 12/2/1999 bootleg, ...And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (2000), Danelectro EP (2000), WFMU Request Show 2000 bootleg, The Sounds Of The Sounds Of Science (2002), Nuclear War EP (2002), WFMU Request Show 2002 bootleg, Summer Sun (2003), Today Is The Day EP (2003), Merry Christmas From Yo La Tengo EP (2003), Prisoners Of Love: A Smattering Of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003 compilation, Yo La Tengo Is Murdering The Classics (2006), Mr. Tough/I'm Your Puppet single (2006), I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (2007), iTunes Live Session EP (2007), They Shoot, We Score (2008), Popular Songs (2009), Fade (2013). As you might have guessed by this list, I like Yo La Tengo. I am 42 years old, and I have loved YLT since the early-to-mid 90s. But you probably know all of that. So this is really just an excuse to post a whole bunch of awesome YLT videos.

Yo-Yo Ma - Bach: Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites (1990), Elgar, Walton: Cello Concertos (1990), Rachmaninov, Prokofiev: Cello Sonatas (1991), Concertos From The New World (1995), Soul Of The Tango: The Music Of Astor Piazzolla (1997), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Soundtrack (2000), Brahms: Cello Sonatas (2004), The Dvorak Album (2004), Obrigado Brazil (2004), Appassionato (2007). Much love for this man's music.

Dwight Yoakam - Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. (1986). I covered Yoakam earlier, but picked this up since. Used to have it on vinyl back in my youth.

Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band - Fly (1971). Pretty bad-ass stuff.

Young Knives - Superabundance (2008). Not bad, but not great, either, and more than a little forgettable.

Young People - War Prayers (2003) and Five Sunsets In Four Days (2006). Pretty cool avant-rock band with a serious love of movies.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Music Library: Willie Dixon, Willie Nelson, Wilson Pickett, Windbreakers, Wings, Wire, Woggles, Wolf Parade, Mozart, Wolves In The Throne Room, Wooden Shjips, Woods, Woody Guthrie, Wreckless Eric, Wrens, Wu-Tang Clan, Würm

Continuing to keep it brief with an eye on finishing this damn project before I am overtaken with the sweet relief of death.

Willie Dixon - I Am The Blues (1970). You know, he really is. When other people (Howlin' Wolf, primarily) play his songs, they are the blues, but Willie Dixon is always the blues, too. These aren't the best versions, but they're pretty good.

Willie Nelson - Crazy: The Demo Sessions (1966), Phases and Stages (1973), Shotgun Willie (1973), Red Headed Stranger (1975), To Lefty From Willie (1977), Stardust (1978), Willie and Family Live (1978), Greatest Hits (And Some That Will Be) (compilation, 1973-81). Once I didn't care for Phases and Stages, but now it's my favorite. I know I need more Willie albums, but I don't know which ones. Any advice would be appreciated.

Wilson Pickett - The Exciting Wilson Pickett (1966) and The Very Best Of Wilson Pickett (compilation, 1965-71). Mr. Pickett is definitely exciting.

The Windbreakers - Run (1986). Pretty great Southern power-pop from Mississippi.

Wings - Band on the Run (1973), Venus And Mars (1975), and At The Speed Of Sound (1976). I'm not a big fan of Macca's post-Beatles work. These are ok, especially the hits, but the deep cuts really sound like filler.

Wire - Pink Flag (1977), Chairs Missing (1978), The Peel Sessions Album (1978), 154 (1979), Live 1978-79, On The Box: 1979, A Bell Is A Cup... Until It Is Struck (1988), Wire 1985-90: The A List, Read And Burn 01 EP (2002), Read And Burn 02 EP (2002), Send (2003), Read And Burn 03 (2007), Object 47 (2008), Red Barked Tree (2011), and Change Becomes Us (2013). I freakin' love Wire. The first two albums are perfection, with the uber-chilly 154 not far behind. The 80s electropop albums aren't as fun for me, but they are still full of brilliant ideas. The 00s reformation as a frosty industrial--punk-metal outfit are most excellent and the reworking of their nonalbum tracks from the 70s in Change Becomes Us (the original versions appear on the Live 78-79 bootleg) is also definitely fascinating. Man, this is one of my all-time favorite bands.

The Woggles - The Zontar Sessions (1994) and Wailin' With The Woggles (1998). I have more Woggles on vinyl. Utterly great garage band from Georgia with the utterly great Dan Elextro on drums and a first-rate frontman in Professor Manfred.

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer (2008) and Expo 86 (2010). I don't much care for these guys' output. Sounds like 80s radio music to me.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Requiem, KV 626 (BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis, 1967), The Complete Mozart Piano Concertos, Vol. Seven (Derek Han, 1996), various other compilations. I got bored trying to write out all of these Mozart performances, sorry.

Wolves In The Throne Room - Diadem of 12 Stars (2006). Black metal made by hippies in the Pacific Northwest with a theme of ecological disaster. Pretty damn cool.

Wooden Shjips - Volume One (2007), Wooden Shjips (2007), Dos (2009), Vol. 2 (2010), West (2011). Build a jam song on a solid foundation of bass riffs and it will rock every single time. Each of these albums is better than the last, so that's pretty awesome.

Woods - How To Survive In/In The Woods (2007). 'Sokay. Needs work.

Woody Guthrie - Dustbowl Ballads (1940), Worried Man Blues (1944), This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1 (1944), Muleskinner Blues: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 2 (1944-45), Hard Travelin': The Asch Recordings, Vol. 3 (1944-45), Buffalo Skinners: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 4 (1944-45), Ballads of Sacco and Vanzetti (1947). The man is a legend for a reason. "This Land Is Your Land" should be our national anthem.

Wreckless Eric - Wreckless Eric (1978). Great Stiff Records (aka pub rock-protopunk-power-pop) singer-songwriter-guitarist with a feel for the rootsy guitar-pop of Nick Lower and early Elvis the C.

The Wrens - Silver (1994), Seacaucus (1996), Abbott 1135 EP (1998), The Meadowlands (2003). As unlikely as it seems, the Wrens are supposedly still working on a follow-up to The Meadowlands, a near-perfect piece of indie rock. The prior albums, especially Seacaucus, are also really good.

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993), Wu-Tang Forever (1997), The W (2000), 8 Diagrams (2007). I keep forgetting: Is the Wu-Tang something that I should be trying to fuck with? Or are they for the children?

Würm - Feast (1985). SST-approved metal with Chuck Dukowski on bass and vocals.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Music Library: Wilco, Wild Flag, Wild Magnolias, Wild Poppies, Wild Tchoupitoulas, Wilenski, Will and the Bushmen, Will Johnson, Will Kimbrough, Will Oldham, Willard Grant Conspiracy, William Basinski, William Bell, William S. Burroughs

More all-too-brief reviews.

Wilco - A.M. (1995), Being There (1996), Outta Print Outta Site (bootleg compilation, 1994-98), Summerteeth (1999), Summerteeth Demos (1998-99), Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos (2000), Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002), More Like The Moon EP (2003), A Wilco Anthology (bootleg compilation, 1994-2003), A Ghost Is Born (2004), The Wilco Book (2004), A Ghost Is Born Tour EP (2005), Kicking Television: Live In Chicago (2005), A Prairie Home Companion appearance (2007), Sky Blue Sky (2007), Wilco [The Album] (2009), The Whole Love (2011), June 1, 2013 Solid Sound Festival. Much love I have for Wilco, even as I have cared less and less about their output since A Ghost Is Born. And, see, on that album, I noticed how hard Jeff Tweedy was trying to sound like Nels Cline when it first dropped, and then Tweedy went and hired Cline to be in his band. They are one of the most exciting live bands out there, but I just can't work up much enthusiasm for the studio output. It's  pretty good, sure, but it doesn't blow my mind like they used to. I mean, I was there! I went to see them right before A.M. dropped, two or three times on the Being There tour, maybe three times for Summerteeth, a couple of times during the build-up to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and a few times since, although they're mostly outside of my price range now, because I am nothing if not cheap. And I can't name a single song on Wilco [The Album] without looking. Here's my favorite Wilco song, which is not a guitar freakout, all of my tastes to the contrary.

Wild Flag - Wild Flag (2011). Ah, superfun indie-rock lady supergroup. The Germans probably have a word for this.

The Wild Magnolias - The Wild Magnolias (1973) and They Call Us Wild (1975). The first of two Mardi Gras Indian albums in this post! The Wild Magnolias are a bit wilder than the Tchoupitoulas, especially on the first album here.

The Wild Poppies - Heroine (1986). Great kiwi-pop band doing that kiwi-pop thing.

 The Wild Tchoupitoulas - The Wild Tchoupitoulas (1976). The other Mardi Gras Indians! This one has the benefit of the Meters as the backing band.

Osias Wilenski, Don Juan-Rodolfo Valentino, Cesar Puente, and Maria Rosa Lopez - Wilenski: Carmen's Revenge (2010). This is some sort of classical response record, I think? I am really not qualified to tell you anything about it, because I really don't understand it.

Will and the Bushmen - Gawk (1987). Ok, Will and the Bushmen were an excellent power-pop band from Alabama led by the incomparable Will Kimbrough. I have completely lost my vinyl copies of the other two W&TB albums, so I'll have to fix that at some point.

Will Johnson - Murder of Tides (2002) and Vultures Await (2004). A couple of whispery-quiet acoustic albums from the leader of Centro-Matic.

Will Kimbrough - This (2000), Home Away (2002), Americanitis (2006), Godsend (2006), EP (2007), Live At Grimey's (with noted author Hayden Childs, 2008). I gotta catch up on Kimbrough's more recent albums, too. The man makes some great, great music.

Will Oldham - Western Music EP (1997), Black/Rich Music EP (1998), Little Joya EP (1998), Guarapero: Lost Blues 2 (2000). I have no idea how Oldham decides which release should be under his own name instead of Bonnie "Prince" Billy.

Willard Grant Conspiracy + Telefunk - In The Fishtank 8 EP (2001). Boston-based alt-country band meets European electronica band. Not one of the greatest Fishtank Eps, but, like all of them, it has its moments.

William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops I-IV (2002-03), Melancholia (2003), and The River (2008). Basinski - legendarily - finished salvaging The Disintegration Loops, earlier compositions on rapidly decaying tapes, on the morning of September 11, 2001. They consist of short burst of minimalist compositions falling apart, and they are achingly beautiful even as they fall into ruin. The other compositions here are also quite affecting.

William Bell - The Soul of a Bell (1967). Heck to the yeah.

William S. Burroughs - Dead City Radio (1990) and The "Priest" They Called Him (with Kurt Cobain, 1993). The junky monk of Beat letters, the man known more for his life than his works, Burroughs was king when I was in my late teens/early 20s and I'm not sure I have the patience for his work now. But these musical vignettes on Dead City Radio, which marry his words to music - mostly incidental TV music - hit the spot. The Priest single, which has him telling a duller story over the dull sound of Kurt Cobain screwing around with feedback, is less essential. Here's the apocalypse for you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Music Library: Webb Pierce, Wedding Present, Weezer, Weird Weeds, Weirdos, Wes Montgomery, Kanye West, Whiskeytown, White Stripes, Who, Why?

I've been busy, y'all. (Get with it, Childs!) So, I'm keeping these short. Would like to finish this project this year so I can facing the gaping abyss of the rest of my life.

Webb Pierce - King of the Honky-Tonk: From the Original Decca Masters, 1952-1959 and Memory No. 1 (1965). Mr. Pierce indeed has a claim to the title of King of the Honky-Tonk.

The Wedding Present - George Best (1988). Excellent Brit-pop.

Weezer - Weezer (1994) and Pinkerton (1998). I like the first Weezer album a lot (even though their tendency to overuse nostalgia and irony is wearing 20 years on), but I don't get the hype about Pinkerton.

The Weird Weeds - Hold Me (2004). Lovely experimental fake-jazz from Austin. The drummer Nick Hennies played with Jandek on Jandek's first American show. I can't find clips from this album online, but here's one of their songs from a different album.

The Weirdos - Who? What? When? Where? Why? EP (1979) and Weird World 1977-1981: Time Capsule Volume One. Extremely creative first-generation LA punk band.

Wes Montgomery - The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960). Superbly well-named album.

Kanye West - Late Registration (2005) and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). I reviewed much of Kanye's other stuff with the Ks and haven't cared at all about the most recent albums. Late Registration is really good. The Fantasy record, though: eh. No video for Mr. West.

Whiskeytown - Rural Free Delivery (1997) and Stranger's Almanac (1997). When I saw Whiskeytown play in 1996, I thought they were the Second Coming of the Replacements, as volatile and riveting a live show as I had ever seen. But this energy and friction did not translate well to these albums, which are trying too hard to please when they should be carelessly flicking lit cigarettes at you.

The White Stripes - The White Stripes (1999), De Stijl (2000), White Blood Cells (2001), Elephant (2003), Get Behind Me Satan (2005), and Icky Thump (2007). A strong argument for the merits of simplicity.

The Who - The Who Sings My Generation (1965), A Quick One (1966), The Who Sell Out (1967), Tommy (1969), Live At Leeds/Live At Leeds Deluxe Edition (1970), Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy (compilation, 1965-70), Who's Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), Odds and Sods (compilation, 1964-74), The Who By Numbers (1975), Who Are You (1978), Face Dances (1981), Who's Better Who's Best (compilation, 1964-81), Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B (compilation, 1964-91). I love 'em best when they're still almost a garage band with outsized ambition. When the ambitions start to drag the songs under (Tommy, Who's Next, Quadrophenia), they were still capable of making awesome music, but then when the ambitions are all there was (Who By Numbers on, pretty much), they were capable of maybe one good song per album. This is a pretty good example of Manny Farber's termite art and white elephant art. Pete's an excellent termite artist, turning his silly concept in Who Sell Out into an astonishingly great album by focusing on the people in the songs, but when he gets his white elephant out, he loses track of what's important by focusing on being important. Anyway, here's a video of The Who upstaging the Stones at their own Rock & Roll Circus.

Why? - Alopecia (2008). Pretty great TVOTR-ish album from some of the members of cLOUDDEAD with a similar refusal to be pigeonholed.

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