Sunday, July 21, 2013

Music Library: Retribution Gospel Choir, Rev. Gary Davis, Rex Garvin, Rhys Chatham, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Richard Buckner, Richard Davies, Richard Hell

Hell & Quine

Retribution Gospel Choir - Retribution Gospel Choir (2008). The male members of Low make big rock with a different drummer. I hope it makes Alan Sparhawk happy. Good, but it sounds like a side project.

Rev. Gary Davis - Harlem Street Singer (1960). This has the original version of "Samson and Delilah" on it, I believe. Although it is often listed as a traditional folk song, I believe the Rev. Gary Davis wrote it and recorded it in 1960. All the covers - Peter, Paul, and Mary, the Grateful Dead, Springsteen, etc. - got it from him.

Rex Garvin - "Emulsified." Brilliant 1963 rockabilly track that was covered by Yo La Tengo on their Fakebook album.

Rhys Chatham - Two Gongs (1971), A Crimson Grail (For 400 Electric Guitars) (2007), Guitar Trio Is My Life! (2008). Minimalist downtown composer who was instrumental in the aesthetics of Band of Susans and Sonic Youth. Two Gongs has, well, two gongs playing off of each other for a little over an hour. Much like the noise experiments of My Bloody Valentine, the mind rejects the drone and imposes order and eventually one can hear a melody emerge from the chaos. Crimson Grail and especially Guitar Trio work in much the same way. Guitar Trio basically involves X number of guitarists (I assume this was three originally) who play an E chord for a certain amount of time. The guitarists are allowed to try different textures and sounds within the confines of the E chord. This Guitar Trio recording in particular is fascinating, the document of a tour that Chatham undertook in which he enlisted different guitarists in each town. Fascinatingly, each recording is different. Different tones, different notes played, different tempo, different length. If art is about affecting your perspective, Guitar Trio is profound art.

Richard "Groove" Holmes - Soul Message (1965). The king of soul jazz.

Richard Buckner - Bloomed (1994), Unreleased (1995), Richard Buckner (1996), Devotion + Doubt (1997), Since (1998), Live At Shuba's Tavern (1998), The Hill (2000), Impasse-ette EP (2002), Impasse (2002), Dents and Shells (2004), Sir Dark Invader vs. The Fanglord (with Jon Langford, 2005), Meadow (2006), Our Blood (2011). Buckner's an interesting cat, part country troubadour and part soul-searing avant-garde wordsmith. To my mind, Devotion + Doubt and Since are two of the finest albums of the 90s. Both throw conventional song structure out the window and boil the lyrics down to an overwhelming intimacy. Both layer on textures more likely to be seen in post-rock than alt-country, which in Since is partially because the Chicago avant-music brigade (O'Rourke, McEntire, Grubbs) worked on it. "Fater" is where this blog gets its literal name. Buckner has never gotten his due, and that's the greatest shame of all.

Here's a video for "On Traveling," a harrowing song driven by accordion or harmonium playing a simple I-IV-V with all sorts of texture noises bubbling beneath the surface, propelling the song.

This is Buckner building a loop and then singing "Fater," which is usually a capella, on top of the end.

I wanted one of the rocking songs off of Since, because they are unlike any other songs ever written, but they are simply unavailable on YouTube. In the absence of one of those, "Ariel Ramirez" is one of the more pensive tracks from Since, and it's absolutely gorgeous.

Finally, here's one of the tracks from The Hill, which is Buckner's concept album with lyrics drawn from the Spoon River Anthology.

Richard Davies - There's Never Been A Crowd Like This (1996), Telegraph (1997), and Barbarians (2000). Like Buckner, Davies is an oddball genre-breaking genius who has never gotten anything close to what is due him. His band The Moles was psychedelic enough to push the Flaming Lips into new territories, his collaboration with Eric Matthews Cardinal managed to out-Bowie David Bowie, and his solo albums are amalgams of both of these impulses, along with lots of folk-rock-Americana to provide a basis for the songs. His last solo album (so far) was the brilliant Barbarians, completely unrepresented on YouTube, an album-length meditation on the weird, feral normality of his adopted home country of the US.

Here's Davies in 2012 playing one of his Cardinal tunes. Listen to how many times the song changes up its structure into minor keys and still circles back to the base major key.

Here's Davies in the 90s, the Moles basically reduced to him alone, backed by the Flaming Lips on one of his psych-pop masterpieces.

Here's a chamber-pop song from his first album. It's actually the simplest-sounding track I've posted so far, but it's full of flourishes and slight variations from the basic chord structure.

Here's Davies' masterful "Cantina," which could be any number of genre of songs. I love how it phases through the intro just enough to keep things off-kilter.

Richard Hell - Blank Generation (with the Voidoids, 1977), Destiny Street (with the Voidoids, 1982), Time (compilation, 1975-84). Here's the most successful oddball of these three. Hell was, of course, the original bassist for Television, the guy who invented punk fashion, the author of "Blank Generation," the most poetic of all the CBGBs crowd, the guy who put Bob Quine front and center in his band when he already had a brilliant guitarist in Ivan Julian. In short, a genius.

This is one of the songs added to the end of the reissue of Blank Generation that has not one but two perfect guitar solos in it.

This song is perfect.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Music Library: Red Krayola, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Red Pony Clock, Leon Redbone, Redd Volkaert, Regina Spektor, Reivers, Remy Zero, Renderers, Replacements


Red Krayola - The Parable Of Arable Land (as Red Crayola, 1967), God Bless The Red Krayola And All Who Sail With It (1968), and The Red Krayola (1994). P-sychedelia from Houston! Mayo Thompson and pals (including Donald Barthelme's brother on drums on the first album) bring the nutso sounds, the wacky songcraft, and the sheer off-kilter brilliance of being a psych band from Houston. Sometimes they're Texas-style Syd Barretts and sometimes they're the band that gave Jandek the confidence to be Jandek. By the time of the 1994 album, Thompson has the Chicago avant-noise posse on-board, including Jim O'Rourke, John McEntire, and David Grubbs. Cool.

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry - Talk About The Weather (1985), Paint Your Wagon (1986), and Nothing Wrong (1988). I didn't expect much from this band (I mean, obscure British goth rock?), but they won me over by being somewhere between Wire and Chrome and quite creative.

Red Pony Clock - God Made Dirt (2007). Big Lambchop-like outfit that occasionally drop some Norteno into their irony-drenched chamber-pop.

Leon Redbone - On The Track (1975). Dude's been huffing some life into hoary swing and country tracks for a long, long time.

Redd Volkaert - Telewacker (1998). Best guitar player in Austin. Hands down. The true heir to Jimmy Bryant. Wandering into the Continental Club on a Saturday afternoon back in the early 00s to hear his set was like finding Richard Thompson busking down at the bus station.

Regina Spektor - Songs (2002). I had the impression she was a Tori Amos ripoff before I heard this album. And she is not at all. She's kind of the anti-Tori Amos. But you can see where the surface similarities would have thrown me.

The Reivers - Translate Slowly (1985). John Croslin's great lost hyperliterate Austin cowpunk band.

Remy Zero - Remy Zero (1996), Villa Elaine (1998), The Golden Hum (2001). My childhood pal Jeff's  soaring and spacey band. They seemed too big for Birmingham back when they were based out of there, but I think LA chewed them up a little.

The Renderers - A Dream Of The Sea (1998). Fan-freakin'-tastic kiwi-rock band. Like so many NZ bands, they sound like every musician was raised on a steady diet of SST, Neil Young, and the Feelies.

The Replacements - Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash (1981), The Replacements Stink (1982), Hootenanny (1983), Let It Be (1984), The Shit Hits The Fans (1985), Tim (1985), Live At Maxwell's (bootleg, 1986), Pleased To Meet Me (1987), Don't Tell A Soul (1989), All Shook Down (1990), All For Nothing/Nothing For All (compilation, rel. 1997), Songs For Slim (2013). I have loved this band longer than most. Let me back up. I rarely listen to these albums because I know them so well, like how sometimes you go for years without really looking at your oldest friends. When I pick up a guitar, I play a 'Mats song. They are deeply written in my outlook, the songs I write, and the songs I like. Here's their great fuck-you to MTV.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Music Library: Ray Davies, Raymond Scott, Real Kids, Real Tuesday Weld, Jay Reatard, Rebecca West, Red Dirt, Red Garland, Red House Painters

Jay Reatard

Ray Davies - Working Man's Cafe (2007). It's not the worst thing I've ever heard, but you know it's nowhere close to Ray Davies in his prime if I even consider offering up such a disclaimer.

Raymond Scott - Manhattan Research, Inc. (rel. 2000). This is a compilation of Scott playing with sound effects and background noise. It ain't no "Powerhouse."

The Real Kids - The Real Kids (1977). Punk/proto-punk band fronted by Ex-Modern Lover John Felice. Solid songs with an awesome garage vibe, sort of like the Dictators.

The Real Tuesday Weld - Free eMusic Compilation (2008). Fairly precious chamber-pop with a swing vibe. It seems tailor-made for certain quirky indie films.

Jay Reatard - Blood Visions (2006), Singles 06-07 (rel. 2008), Watch Me Fall (2009). I covered much of Mr. Reatard's output some years back. The dude had some serious pop-garage chops. It's a damn shame he died so young.

Rebecca West - "Sick." This is a pretty good 90s punk band, not the feminist author or the folk trio currently active as The Rebecca West.

Red Dirt - "Summer Madness Laced With Newbald Gold." Psych-blues British band recorded in 1970.

Red Garland - Red Garland's Piano (1957), Groovy (1957), Manteca (1958), The Moodsville Vol 1 (with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, 1960). Groovy is right. Garland was a bop pianist who usually recorded with Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums during the 50s. Occasionally he had a young upstart named John Coltrane sit in on sax at the time, but those albums have been retroactively added to Coltrane's name. Even without the nascent giant, though, Garland was a smooth and accomplished player and these are all enjoyable.

The Red House Painters - Down Colorful Hill (1992), Red House Painters (I) (1993), Red House Painters (II) (1993), Ocean Beach (1995), Songs For A Blue Guitar (1996), Retrospective (rel. 1999), Old Ramon (2001). I have a hard time knowing what to do with Mark Kozelek albums. Some are under his own name, some under Sun Kil Moon, and some under the name of his original band, Red House Painters. Personally, I like Kozelek best in his languid, fuzzy, trippy-as-hell indie-psychedelia mode, and I think the first three albums by RHP are just about perfect. Don't know why they self-titled two different albums that came out in the same year, but I'm assuming it was a weird tribute to Peter Gabriel.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Music Library: Ray Charles

Ray Charles and Buck Owens

When I broke this entry up like this, I thought I might have a lot to say about the output of Mr. Charles, but I did not know what. I still do not know what. Buy the Atlantic albums; they're perfect. I have multiple copies of several of these because I had them on vinyl, again on CD, and then I bought the Complete Atlantic Recordings box set. None of this was wasted money.

1957: Ray Charles and The Great Ray Charles. These are perfect, as I already pointed out. This track in the video was the second song on his debut.

1958:  Ray Charles At Newport, Yes Indeed!, and Soul Brothers (with Milt Jackson). Even when the dude plays jazz with a jazzbo like Milt Jackson, he holds his own.

1959: What'd I Say and The Genius Of Ray Charles. The Atlantic excellence hitting a fever pitch. I have FOUR versions of What'd I Say.

1960: Ray Charles In Person and The Genius Hits The Road. In Person is the last Atlantic album released while Charles was still signed to the label, but they had a lot of stuff in the vaults. The Genius Hits The Road is a concept album about traveling across the US. His leap to ABC let loose a lot of syrup, although even Ray Charles syrup is pretty awesome.

1961: Genius + Soul = Jazz, The Genius Sings The Blues, Soul Meeting (with Milt Jackson), The Genius After Hours, and Ray Charles And Betty Carter. Sings The Blues and After Hours are Atlantic releases of older material. They are perfect. Genius + Soul, Soul Meeting, and the Betty Carter album are jazzbo albums. They are good-to-great. I don't have Dedicated To You, which is yet another Ray Charles release from 1961.

1962: Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music and Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music, Volume Two. Aw yeah. Ray Charles turns Hank Williams and Don Gibson (and lots of other country) songs into the richest, lushest, most urbane Americana. A brilliant metaphor for the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and a brilliant statement of purpose stating that African-Americans are Americans, pure and simple. Not just perfect, but GODDAMN perfect.

1963 and on: Ingredients In A Recipe For Soul (1963), Live In Concert (1965), Crying Time (1966), Ray's Moods (1966), Invites You To Listen (1967), I'm All Yours Baby! (1969), Volcanic Action Of My Soul (1971), A Message From The People (1972), Porgy and Bess (with Cleo Laine, 1976). Sometimes good, sometimes great. None of these are perfect albums, but some of the songs are perfect. He flounders more and more in the late 60s and 70s, but he never quite lost it.

Compilations: The Definitive Ray Charles and Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings, 1952-1959. The Definitive compilation is good, one of the first Ray Charles albums I bought, while I may have mentioned that anything Ray Charles recorded for Atlantic is perfect.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Music Library: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Rain Parade, Raincoats, Ramones, Randy Newman, Rangda, Rank and File, Rashied Ali, Ratatat, Raveonettes

The Raincoats

Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Rip, Rig and Panic (1965) and Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith (1967). Kirk was a crazy-great soloist, one whose combination of mysticism, speed, precision, and superhuman feats of musicianship have led to his fans being from across the music spectrum. Here, just check out this utterly amazing video.

Rain Parade - Emergency Third Rail Power Trip/Explosions in the Glass Palace (1983-84). The debut and follow-up EP from one of the Paisley Underground (meaning very slightly psychedelic power-pop) LA bands of the early 80s. Good stuff.

The Raincoats - The Raincoats (1980), Odyshape (1981), and Moving (1984). Impossibly great all female post-punk band. The best is the debut, which is also the roughest and most surprising, but the other two are not far behind. Here's their first single, which was later added to their debut album as the first track, fueled by a screaming overdriven electric violin.

The Ramones - The Ramones (1976), Leave Home (1977), Rocket To Russia (1977), Road To Ruin (1978), End Of The Century (1980), Pleasant Dreams (1981), Subterranean Jungle (1983), Too Tough To Die (1985), Animal Boy (1986), Halfway To Sanity (1987), Brain Drain (1989), Mondo Bizarro (1992), Acid Eaters (1994), ¡Adios Amigos! (1995), various non-album tracks. Haters like to say that the Ramones only had one song, but that's bullshit. It's true that the later albums get bogged down in formula, but every album has a few great songs. And it's also true that the Ramones, like all good pop bands with loud guitars, buried a lot of complexity under the surface. Listen for the 5/4 turnaround in "Rockaway Beach" between the chorus and the bridge at 0:40 and 1:20:

Or "Havana Beach," which hints at the bridge in the intro using chords that harmonize with the bridge chords, but are different:

I'm not saying it's prog, just that it's a lot more nuanced than people think. Also the song structure to "Pinhead" is unlike any other song ever.

Randy Newman - Sail Away (1972) and Good Old Boys (1974). I used to be down on Randy, but I'm coming around. I was not much of a fan, but enough people talked about his brilliance in a way that made me want to keep giving him shots. And so I did, but nothing happened for the longest time. Then, while listening to Sail Away for this project, I found myself unexpectedly moved by "God's Song." And I mean moved. It's about as powerful a song about religion and humanism as anyone has ever made. It is bleak and funny and utterly profound. So I'm coming around.

Rangda - False Flag (2010). Richard Bishop of the Sun City Girls, Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance and Comets On Fire, and Chris Corsano of all avant-garde projects, all making a big loud noise together. What's not to love?

Rank and File - Sundown (1982). Early cowpunk from the Kinman brothers of The Dils and Alejandro Escovedo on guitar. I really like how raucous the ACL crowd is in the video below.

Rashied Ali - New Directions In Modern Music (1973) and Rashied Ali Quintet (1973). A couple of fantastic albums led by the drummer who collaborated with Coltrane during his experimental final phase. The latter has James "Blood" Ulmer on guitar.

Ratatat - Classics (2006). All-instrumental album from a smartass electronica duo.

The Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust (2007). Danish duo does Jesus & Mary Chain.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Music Library: R. Stevie Moore, REM, R.L. Burnside, Rachmaninoff, Raconteurs, Radicalfashion, Radio Birdman, Radiohead, Raekwon

Radio Birdman

R. Stevie Moore - Games And Groceries (1978) and Hobbies Galore (compilation, released 2003). Moore is a basement genius, an Emitt Rhodes type who has released dozens, if not hundreds, of power pop albums recorded by himself in his basement. The man is good.

REM - Chronic Town EP (1982), Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables Of The Reconstruction (1985), Life's Rich Pageant (1986), Dead Letter Office (1987), Document (1987), Eponymous (1987), Green (1988), Out Of Time (1991), Automatic For The People (1992), Monster (1994), and Accelerate (2008). Anything left to say about these guys? Life's Rich Pageant is the one I am most likely to play these days, but I am not likely to listen to much REM at this point.

R.L. Burnside - Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down (2000). Mississippi electric blues with a bunch of electronic bloops-and-bleeps and turntablism for texture. Interesting.

Sergei Rachmaninoff - Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff (Concerto No  3 In D Minor) (recorded 1939). Passionate modern composer plays one of his own difficult compositions.

The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers (2006). Jack White's first exploration of a post-White Stripes career. The larger band lets his Led Zep fantasies go wild.

Radicalfashion - Odori (2006). Ambient compositions.

Radio Birdman - The Essential Radio Birdman: 1974-1978. Excellent protopunk from Australia with the great Deniz Tek (providing the Detroit connection) on guitar.

Radiohead - Pablo Honey (1993), My Iron Lung EP (1994), The Bends (1995), OK Computer (1997), Kid A (2000), Amnesiac (2001), I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings (2001), Hail To The Thief (2003), In Rainbows (2007), and The King Of Limbs (2011). I like this band a lot, but I don't really understand how they became the juggernaut that they are. I mean, they are seriously oddball in approach, song structure, and instrumentation, but despite how difficult people generally find music like this, Radiohead is popular as hell. Gives me hope for the human race.

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (1995). More or less a Wu Tang album by another name.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Music Library: My Bloody Valentine, My Dad Is Dead, My Education, Nadaband, No Parents

My Dad Is Dead

Last catch-up post for now! I'm moving into the Rs next.

My Bloody Valentine - m b v (2013). Another album that is much, much better than it has any right to be, m b v has a coherence that belies its Chinese Democracy-length recording period.

My Dad Is Dead - ...And He's Not Going To Take It Anymore (1986), Peace, Love, and Murder (1987), The Best Defense (1988), Let's Skip The Details (1988), The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get (1989), Chopping Down The Family Tree (1991), Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind (1993), For Richer, For Poorer (1995), Shine(r) (1996), Everyone Wants The Honey But Not The Sting (1997), The Engine of Commerce (2002), A Divided House (2005), and A New Clear Route (2009). This is most of the discography of MDID, the band whose only consistent member was my friend and erstwhile bandmate Mark Edwards. Mark is a hell of a great songwriter and these are all good-to-great albums. Top pick is Shine(r), followed closely by For Richer, Everyone Wants The Honey, and A New Clear Route.

My Education and Theta Naught - Sound Mass (2011). First-rate post-rock from Austin. The fact that my pal Sarah Norris contributed only augments how awesome this album is.

Nadaband - Nadaband EP (2012). This is another friend's band, a blues-rock trio from Huntsville, AL that plays on cigar box guitars.

No Parents - Age of Distraction (2009). And yet another band with a friend in it! This is some excellent fuzz-guitar-pop from Tuscaloosa, AL. Wish I had a clip to embed.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Music Library: Che Arthur Three, Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Modern Lovers, Motörhead, Bob Mould, Mountain Goats

Bob Mould

Continuing with the catch-up portion of these posts.

The Che Arthur Three - Like Revenge (2009). Somehow didn't get this album in the queue at the right time. Anyway, this album is wonderful. Arthur continues to mine his inner Bob Mould, but he has a sense of drama and love of intricate guitar work more like Harvey Milk.

The Minutemen - Live In George's Shed In San Pedro (as The Reactionaries, 1979). Not really the Minutemen, this is a bootleg of d., Mike, and George's pre-MM band with Martin Tamburovich on lead vocals. It sounds like the work of some guys trying to turn their band into something completely new, but who aren't quite there yet.

Mission of Burma - Unsound (2012). Continuing MoB's post-reformation string of solid B+ albums, Unsound is a strong collection of songs with occasional moments that break out and dig into your skin.

The Modern Lovers - Songs of Rememberance (bootleg compilation, 1970-1972). A bunch of demos, including the Modern Lovers' tracks with John Cale and with Kim Fowley, and a handful of live tracks. It is not terrible, but not great, either.

Motörhead - No Remorse (compilation, 1977-1984). Excellent. Tracks selected by Lemmy himself.

Bob Mould - Silver Age (2012). I've gone from "this is far better than it has any right to be" to "this is up there with Bob's best solo albums." Bob's band with Jon Wurster is supertight, too.

The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck (2011). I like the version of the Mountain Goats built on Jon Wurster's drums. This one is as great as most of Darnielle's recent work. Arriving here reminds me that I have yet to pick up the Mountain Goats album from last year, but I will remedy that soon. Also of note: Jon Wurster plays on half of all albums that I like.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Music Library: Magazine, Magnetic Fields, Mahler, J. Mascis, Mastodon, Mclusky, Meat Puppets, Mekons, Melvins, MF Doom, Microphones


More catch-up.

Magazine - The Correct Use Of Soap (1980). Top-notch post-punk.

The Magnetic Fields - Realism (2010) and Love At The Bottom Of The Sea (2012). The former is the last and least of the Magnetic Fields' no-synth albums. The latter is a welcome return to full instrumentation.

Mahler - Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" (Georg Solti and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 1984), Symphony No. 5 (Pierre Boulez and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, 1997), and Symphony No. 6 (Pierre Boulez and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, 1995). One thing that was clear from reading Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise is that I don't have the background to review this stuff. Sure like it, though.

J. Mascis - Several Shades Of Why (2011). Mascis makes a hell of a folkie, too.

Mastodon - The Hunter (2011). They remain awesome. A little less prog, a little more mainstream-ization of metal.

Mclusky - My Pain And Sadness Is More Sad And Painful Than Yours (2000). Besides having one of the best album names in history, Mclusky's first LP is super-fun and creative right out of the gate.

Meat Puppets - Live In Montana (rec. 1984). The Pups at the peak of their psych-meets-ZZ Top weirdness.

Mekons - Ancient And Modern (2011). The Mekons going deeper into American folk music.

Melvins - Sugar Daddy Live (2011), Freak Puke (2012), and Everybody Loves Sausages (2013). They're Melvins albums. They're chaotic, loud, and brilliant. The former is a live album which never fails to be fascinating. There's a sense that anything could happen with these guys. The second features the Melvins Lite three-piece line-up and it's fantastic. The last one is an all covers album with a number of guest vocalists and musicians. My favorite is the noisy and triumphant cover of "Station To Station" with JG Thirwell.

MF Doom - Live From Planet X (2005). Problem with most live albums is that they add nothing to the material. This is one of those.

The Microphones - The Glow Pt. 2 (2001). An unsung Elephant Six release that has many of the trappings of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea without lyrics not quite plumbing the same depths.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Music Library: Little Feat, Jack Logan, Loop, Los Campesinos!, Nick Lowe, Lynyrd Skynyrd


Little Feat - Little Feat (1970) and Dixie Chicken (1973). Both of these are good examples of the 70s L.A. version of Americana. Both have decent songs but both are slick as shit.

Jack Logan - Bulk (1994). Georgia singer-songwriter Logan's first album with 42 songs of varying greatness. When he's at his peak, he's phenomenal.

Loop - Heaven's End (1987), Fade Out (1989), A Gilded Eternity (1990), The World In Your Eyes (compilation, 1987-92).  Excellent trippy, feedbacky guitar drone band.

Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (2008) and Romance Is Boring (2010). More from one of the most fun indie rock bands out there.

Nick Lowe - The Wilderness Years (compilation, 1974-77). Lowe's recordings between Brinsley Schwarz and Jesus Of Cool. Some of these songs are incredible, but the all-too-jokey tracks mocking the Bay City Rollers drag it down.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973). Three guitars, "Gimme Three Steps," and "Free Bird."

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Music Library: La Düsseldorf, Lambchop, Fred Lane, Last Exit, LCD Soundsystem, Led Zeppelin, Jens Lekman, Lemon Pipers, Liars, Like

The Rev. Fred Lane

More catching up.

La Düsseldorf - Düsseldorf (1976) and Viva (1979). Neu! drummer Klaus Dinger was ready to rock when the band recorded their last album, Neu! 75, and the second side, particularly the track "Hero," showcased his proto-punk leanings. His partner in Neu!, Michael Rother, was not interested in this music, so Dinger recruited his brother Thomas and pal Hans Lampe to play with him on the second side of Neu! 75. These three started La Düsseldorf immediately after Neu! broke up, and these two albums feature Neu!'s motorik drums along with a heavy punk and disco influence. Excellent stuff.

Lambchop - I Hope You're Sitting Down/Jack's Tulip (1994), How I Quit Smoking (1995), What Another Man Spills (1998), No You C'mon (2004), Damaged (2006). Picked up a handful of albums from the Nashville art-countrypolitan collective Lambchop. The best of these is No You C'mon, the companion disc to Aw C'mon, which I reviewed elsewhere.

Fred Lane - Raundelunas 'Pataphysical Revue (as Ron 'Pate's Debonaires featuring the Rev. Fred Lane, 1975), From The One That Cut You (as Fred Lane and Ron 'Pate's Debonairs, 1983), Car Radio Jerome (as Fred Lane and His Hittite Hot Shots, 1976). Mindblowing surrealist swing from Tuscaloosa, AL. I first heard them on an Oxford American sampler and I don't think I have ever recovered.

Last Exit - Iron Path (1988). An affair surprisingly more restrained than expected (which is not to say that it is anything approaching restrained), this is the only studio album from the free jazz monster Last Exit.

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (2010). James Murphy's final LCD Soundsystem album. Almost, but not quite, as great as the first two.

Led Zeppelin - Presence (1976). Zep. I used to like this one much, much less than the earlier ones, but now I like it almost as much as Physical Graffiti, my favorite. That said, I listen to almost no Zeppelin these days.

Jens Lekman - An Argument with Myself EP (2011) and I Know What Love Isn't (2012). Jens goes disco. Still one of the best lyricists out there.

Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine (1968). Bubblegum garage psychedelia! Only the title song is any good, though.

Liars - WIXIW (2012). Continuing their march into abrasive and frightening electronica.

The Like - Release Me (2010). A quartet of ladies knocking out fuzz-pop teenage symphonies to god.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Music Library: Kepler, Kid Koala, Kool Keith, Akira Kosemura, Leo Kottke, Kris Kristofferson, Kronos Quartet, Fela Kuti


As with the last few entries, these are catching up with the current stage of the Slow Music Project (just finished the Ss). So many of these artists were covered in more detail elsewhere.

Kepler - Fuck Fight Fail (2000). Sleepy, very mildly psych-folk indie band from Canada with my old pal Mike Sheridan on restrained drums.

Kid Koala - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (2000). Turntablist with the mostest.

Kool Keith - Sex Style (1997) and Black Elvis/Lost In Space (1999). Dude lays down some amazing rhymes while shifting through personas easily and quickly. The former is a (and possible "the only") classic pornocore (in Kool Keith's own terminology) hip-hop concept album, while the latter has Keith adopting his Black Elvis persona, who is actually quite a bit Sun Ra.

Akira Kosemura - Polaroid Piano (2009). Pleasant and beautiful ambient album that reminds me a lot of John Cage's prepared piano compositions.

Leo Kottke - Guitar Music (1981) and My Father's Face (1989). The former is one of the last albums that Kottke recorded before his tendonitis caused him to change from his hyper-aggressive early style of fingerpicking to his softer and occasionally picked later style. My Father's Face is an excellent example of the later style and the song "Jack Gets Up," which gives the album its title, is a lovely expressionistic meditation on incipient middle age.

Kris Kristofferson - Border Lord (1972). Such a great Kristofferson album that I regret not picking this up back when I first got into the man's music some 20 years ago. The title song may be my favorite of the man's, and that's saying something.

Kronos Quartet - Plays Sigur Ros (2007). As you might imagine, the elevation of Sigur Ros's post-rock symphonies to the level of composition that Kronos usually plays ends up diminishing both the songs and the players. Not to say that this is terrible, but it's not really, really good, and that's the bar that Kronos has set for themselves.

Fela Kuti - Expensive Shit/He Miss Road (1975) and Shuffering And Schmiling/No Agreement (1977). These are four albums from Fela in the mid-70s. They are freaking amazing. Pretty much as great as Gentlemen or Confusion. Expensive Shit is the best one here, but that's only by a hair.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Music Library: J Church, Joe Jackson, Bert Jansch, Jay-Z, Elton John, George Jones

Geo. Jones

J Church - Whorehouse: Songs And Stories (compilation, 1996). A collection of the much-revered punk band. It is pretty good, but I have not yet rushed out to get more of their work.

Joe Jackson - I'm The Man (1979). He is. This rocks.

Bert Jansch - Stepping Stones (with John Renbourn, 1969) and When The Circus Comes To Town (1995). Brit-folk master with his greatest collaborator in the former and keeping his reputation alive in the latter.

Jay-Z - The Black Album (2003). Do I need to write about this?

Elton John - Elton John (1970), Tumbleweed Connection (1970), Madman Across The Water (1971), and Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975). My pal Paul thought I would turn around on Mr. John if I listened to all of these. Sorry, Paul. It's just not my thing.

George Jones - She Thinks I Still Care: The Complete United Artists Recordings, 1962-1964George Jones & Gene Pitney (1965-66)Walk Through This World With Me: The Complete Musicor Recordings, 1965-1971 Part 1, and A Good Year For The Roses: The Complete Musicor Recordings 1965-1971, Part 2. I had just finished working my way through these massive Bear Family sets when Ol' Possum died. I hope he is resting in peace, secure in the knowledge that he was the finest country singer who ever lived.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Music Library: High Fidelics, High On Fire, Hindu Love Gods, Hiss Golden Messenger, Holy Modal Rounders, Homosexuals, John Lee Hooker, Hookworms, Horseback

The Homosexuals

As in the last 300-odd posts, I'm catching up here, so some of these artists have been reviewed before. However, I am too lazy to look up the links. Because of the daunting size of my backlog, I'm keeping these brief.

The High Fidelics - The High Fidelics (2011). Instrumental surf-ish rock from some awesome Alabama folks.

High On Fire - Death Is This Communion (2007). As fantastic as their other albums.

Hindu Love Gods - Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight 7" (1986) and Hindu Love Gods (1990). This is that band with Zevon and Peter Buck who covered "Raspberry Parade" with such aplomb.

Hiss Golden Messenger - Bad Debt (2010). Since Will Oldham is making all kinds of different music these days, this guy has stepped in with a serious thing for Days In The Wake.

Holy Modal Rounders - The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders (1969). I listen to a lot of psychedelic music, but this one may be the most psychedelic thing ever recorded.

The Homosexuals - Astral Glamour (compilation, 1978-2006), Love Guns? (2008), Important If True (2010). One of the most underground of underground bands, the Homosexuals hardly ever played out and spent most of their time recording in their friend's basement. Which is why the most surprising thing about the comprehensive 3-disc Astral Glamour isn't that it is great, but that it exists. But it is great and, surprisingly, the Homosexuals reformed and have been making music together again. All in all, this seems less a band than some sort of morality tale.

John Lee Hooker - Alternative Boogie: Early Studio Recordings 1948-52. As much as I like Hooker, I wish that the Hooker on this set had been a bit more confident.

Hookworms - Hookworms EP (2011) and Pearl Mystic (2013). Heavy psych with miles of echo and tape loops? Why, yes, please! This guys are a recent discovery, but I am a fan for life.

Horseback - The Invisible Mountain (2009). Drone metal somewhat in the style of Earth. Excellent stuff.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Music Library: Halo Benders, Hampton Grease Band, Emmylou Harris, George Harrison, Harvey Danger, Harvey Milk, Hawkwind, Hayden, Isaac Hayes, Jimi Hendrix, Judy Henske and Jerry Yester

Harvey Milk

Continuing with the catching of up with my current position. I'm actually finishing up the Ss at the moment with Sun Ra and Superchunk (and a handful of others), but I still have to catch up here on the blog with odds and ends and then go through the Rs and Ss. Here's some more albums passed over or acquired after I covered them alphabetically.

The Halo Benders - God Don't Make No Junk (1994), Don't Tell Me Now (1996), and The Rebels Not In (1998). These three albums are collaborations between Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening and Doug Martsch of Built To Spill. Unfortunately, both of these guys have pretty clear-cut aesthetics which never quite gel on these albums. That said, there are some pretty sublime moments.

The Hampton Grease Band - Music To Eat (1971). Southern boys led by Col. Bruce Hampton (Ret.) -- who is not a real Colonel, mind you, and chose many of his lyrics in the most bizarre and random ways possible -- attempt to blend the Allman Brothers jam-all-night model with some Zappa-slash-Beefheartian surrealism. Heady stuff that doesn't come together sometimes, which is part of the general idea behind these guys.

Emmylou Harris - Elite Hotel (1975) and Luxury Liner (1977). Two albums I've had on vinyl forever. This is some of Emmylou at her finest.

George Harrison - All Things Must Pass (1970). With no one to hold him back, Harrison overstuffs this album. The high points ("Isn't It A Pity?," "What Is Life?") are pretty much the best songs he ever wrote, though.

Harvey Danger - Demo Tape (1994). Apparently sold by the band at shows when they were trying to secure a label. Interesting, literate stuff.

Harvey Milk - The Singles (1995) and The Pleaser (1997). The Singles collects singles, as it suggests, from the early part of Harvey Milk's career, and the results are predictably up-and-down. The Pleaser has the band drop the drone and drudge and crank out some ZZ Top-style boogie, and it is freakin' amazing, pretty much the equal of their artier efforts.

Hawkwind - The Spirit of the Age (compilation, 1988). Pretty good compilation of their tracks. I'm certainly no expert, but it makes me want to seek out more.

Hayden - Everything I Long For (1995). Folky Canadian indie-rocker moping around a bit.

Isaac Hayes - Presenting Isaac Hayes (1967). This ain't no Hot Buttered Soul, but it is an okay indication of things to come.

Jimi Hendrix - First Rays (Re-Mix by John Scannell) (recorded 1970). This is a thing that popped up on the Internet where Mr. Scannell attempts to organize the recorded tracks for Hendrix's unfinished next album into something coherent. Scannell succeeds, because this is a fascinating listen.

Judy Henske and Jerry Yester - Farewell Aldebaran (1969). Fascinating acid-damaged West Coast folk-rock from the late 60s. First heard a track from them on an Oxford American sampler and I had to hear more.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Music Library: Al Green, Cee-Lo Green, Grant Green, Grinderman, Groundhogs, Gigi Gryce, Guadalcanal Diary, Guided By Voices, Gun Club


The catch-up runneth over. N.B. Some of these artists have been discussed ad nauseum elsewhere.

Al Green - Call Me (1972) and Let's Stay Together (1972). Perfection.

Cee-Lo Green - The Lady Killer (2010). Not perfection, but okay. The best track is the hugely popular pop song with the swear in the title.

Grant Green - Green Street (1961). Hard bop on guitar. Green would later be an important figure in the soul jazz subgenre, but this stuff is straight-up bop.

Grinderman - Grinderman (2007) and Grinderman 2 (2010). Late as I was to the Nick Cave party, I missed these the first time around, much to my current shame. Because these are near-feral rock albums, with Cave in rare form, hollering about sex, death, and God.

The Groundhogs - Blues Obituary (1969) and Thank Christ For The Bomb (1970). This British blues band has been covered by both The Fall and Earthless, so I was expecting to be quite blown away by them. Instead, they're just a British blues band.

Gigi Gryce - Nica's Tempo (1955). Hard bop album with Monk on piano for four tracks. Three of these are somewhat obscure Monk compositions, which is pretty cool. The other tracks, though, are fairly run-of-the-mill bop recordings.

Guadalcanal Diary - 2 x 4 (1987). Folky power pop band that was quite popular back in the day. This album sounds like sub-REM guitar pop now, though.

Guided By Voices - Let's Go Eat The Factory (2011) and Class Clown Spots A UFO (2012). The first two of the freakin' four GBV releases since the classic line-up got back together in 2011. Both are pretty great, though.

The Gun Club - Miami (1982). Almost as good as Fire Of Love!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Music Library: Galactic, Childish Gambino, Game Theory, Ghost, Girls, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Goodie Mob, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Gothic Archies, Grateful Dead, Gravediggaz


Rollin' with the catch-up posts.

Galactic - Crazyhorse Mongoose (1998). The white Meters bring the New Orleans funk.

Childish Gambino - I AM JUST A RAPPER (2010), I AM JUST A RAPPER 2 (2010), Culdesac (2010), and EP (2011). The alter ego of Donald Glover shows that Glover is not just a great comic actor but quite the talented musician with pretty incredible flow.

Game Theory - Distortion Of Glory (compilation, 1982-83), 2 Steps From The Middle Ages (1988), Tinker To Evers To Chance (compilation, 1990). R.I.P., Scott Miller, power-pop literary genius.

Ghost - Ghost (1990), Second Time Around (1992), Lama Rabi Rabi (1996), Snuffbox Immanence (1999), Tune In, Turn On, Free Tibet (1999), Hypnotic Underground (2004), In Stormy Nights (2007). Searched these down because of my love for Michio Kurihara, the guitar genius who is sort of a fourth member of Boris now. This psych band improves album by album until it hits a peak with Hypnotic Underground.

Girls - Album (2009), Broken Dreams Club EP (2010), Father, Son, Holy Ghost (2011). Brilliant retro-futuristic psych-folk-rock band.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - f#a#infinity (1998) and Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP (1999). GY!BE's first album and only EP. The first is good but not as great as the band would be on the next albums and the EP is extraordinary.

Goodie Mob - Still Standing (1998). Southern-fried hip-hop featuring Cee-Lo Green's first forays into singing.

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Spanish Dance Troupe (1999). Quite good Welsh psych-folk-indie rock.

The Gothic Archies - The Tragic Treasury (2006). Stephin Merritt's electro-goth side project's series of songs about Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events.

Grateful Dead - Live Dead (1969). Considered by some to be the Dead's greatest live album, this is a not-bad document of the late 60s Dead chugga-chugga jams. And it's the only one I ever want to hear again.

Gravediggaz - 6 Feet Deep (1994). With both Prince Paul and the RZA involved, this is some truly kick-ass old school horror rap.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Music Library: Fleetwood Mac, Flipper, Floored By Four, Aretha Franklin, Frogs, F**ked Up, Funkadelic, Future of the Left


More catching up.

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977) and Tusk (1979). Two major cocaine-pop albums from the 70s. I used to love Tusk more and Rumours less, but now they have reversed in my opinion.

Flipper - Unreleased Studio Session Tape (bootleg, 1982) and Blow'n Chunks (1984). The former is a bootleg of a bunch of odds and ends that the band never got around to releasing. The latter is a live album. Both kick ass.

Floored By Four - Floored By Four (2010). Mike Watt, Nels Cline, Yuka Honda, and Dougie Bowne, screwing around and improvising. Cool idea, but pretty jammy and unfocused in practice.

Aretha Franklin - Live At Fillmore West (1971). If you are not hooked by the name and date of this album, I don't know what I can do for you.

The Frogs - It's Only Right And Natural (1989). Super-silly, deliberately offensive songs about gay sex and drugs from two guys who seem to only have firsthand knowledge of the latter. Pretty damn awesome. Warning: the following video is not safe for work, children, adults, or plants.

F**ked Up - Epics In Minutes (2004), Triumph of Life EP (2006), "Do They Know It's Christmas?," F**ked Up/Serena Maneesh Split 7" (2010), Year of the Ox EP (2010), David Comes To Life (2011), and Year of the Tiger (2012). One of the greatest bands in the world. Their last album, David Comes To Life, is perhaps the finest album of the last decade. Year of the Ox is also pretty much perfect.

Funkadelic - Cosmic Slop (1973). Starts with a track called "Nappy Dugout" and only gets funkier.

Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense (2012). The best Future of the Left album so far, and Andy Falkous's best album since The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Music Library: John Fahey, Fairport Convention, The Fall, Charlie Feathers, feedtime, Feelies, Morton Feldman, Felt, Fennesz, Fierce and the Dead, Flamin' Groovies, Flaming Lips, Flat Duo Jets


More catch-up albums. Artists may have been reviewed before - The Mgmt.

John Fahey - Death Chants, Breakdowns & Military Waltzes (1963), The Great San Bernadino Birthday Party (1966), The Great Santa Barbara Oil Slick: Live at The Matrix San Francisco, California 1968/1969, The Voice Of The Turtle (1968), City Of Refuge (1997), The Mill Pond 7" (1997), Hitomi (2000). Everything Fahey recorded in the 60s was incredible. The later stuff, while it usually ranks high with me, in these cases failed to connect with me.

Fairport Convention - Live At The BBC (compilation, 1968-74). You can hear Fairport work out their issues and become a monster of a band and then fall apart over the course of these four discs. Exciting stuff.

The Fall - Ersatz GB (2011) and Re-Mit (2013). Mark E. has started dissing the former already, but I thought it was pretty damn kicking. The new one, though, tears the damn roof off.

Charlie Feathers - His Complete King Recordings (compilation 1956-57). Four fast and furious rockabilly singles and b-sides.

feedtime - The Aberrant Years (compilation, 1985-89). Four albums from the oddly influential Aussie band.

The Feelies - Live in Germany: Hunky Dory, July 7 1988July 1, 2008 Live At Maxwell's 2nd SetJuly 4, 2008 Live At Battery Park, and Here Before (2011). The three bootlegs suffer from poor sound quality. The new studio album is quite pleasant, although not up to the heights of the first round of Feelies albums.

Morton Feldman - The Rothko Chapel (SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart, 2002) and For Bunita Marcus (Stephane Ginsburgh, 2006). Excellent versions of quietly moving music by the minimalist composer.

Felt - Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty (1981), The Splendour Of Fear (1984), The Strange Idols Pattern And Other Short Stories (1984), Ignite The Seven Cannons (1985), Forever Breathes The Lonely Word (1986), and The Pictorial Jackson Review (1988). A major influence on Belle and Sebastian. Although it seems that they will be overwhelmingly precious, Felt keeps things quite interesting. Lots of keyboard and clean guitar pop. Surprisingly, lots of instrumentals, too.

Fennesz - Endless Summer (2001), Venice (2004), and Black Sea (2008). Fascinating glips-and-gloops artist. Best with headphones so that you can appreciate all the textures.

The Fierce and the Dead - On VHS (2012). Post-rock band that I like more when they have song structures in mind. Their first album had lots of meandering jams. This one has focus, and it rocks.

The Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action (1976). Such an essential power pop album.

The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics (2006) and The Terror (2013). I like the new one more than I've liked any Flaming Lips album in the last decade.

Flat Duo Jets - Flat Duo Jets (1990), Safari (1993), White Trees (1993), and Red Tango (1996). This is a band I've loved for a long time and used to go see often back in the day. I think Safari and Red Tango are among their best albums.

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