Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Son House-Library of Congress Sessions
Field recordings from 1941 and 1942. The so-called "Father of the Delta Blues" had an enormous influence on Robert Johnson and the like but of all the bluesman, Son House had the THE voice. There was so much power and anger behind it that it's impossible to ignore and, consequently, impossible to accurately describe. You feel the weight of his world when you listen to him.
Robert Petway-Catfish Blues: Mississippi Blues Vol. 3
Idolized by Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters, Petway was like many blues musicians who didn't become popular in the 60s Blues Revival but remained important. This collection has all of Petway's material with a few other respectable artists. His guitar playing is fantastic and while his singing is weaker than other popular bluesman, the guy knew what to do with an axe. His licks turn heads.
Mississippi John Hurt-Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Sessions
I don't even know how to describe this. It makes me feel really strange because it doesn't sound like he has the blues but something isn't quite right. His voice is this warm, soothing instrument in itself but there is a subtle sadness dripping from each word. The guitar playing is wonderful as well. I hate throwing a term like shoegaze at an old blues album but its what I feel like doing when I hear this. Quite hypnotic indeed.
From an older post...
Skip James-1931 Sessions
That weepy high voice makes my knees shake and sends a shiver down my spine each time. My personal favorite. Far more depressing than any of the others in my humble opinion. His guitar playing goes into some legitimate freak out sessions as far as Blues concerned. He's a great piano player as well but all I can stress is his voice, his voice, his voice...
Next up: Some Charley Patton (he's an original, I just don't feel like uploading all of it), Robert Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Furry Lewis, and moooooorrreeeeee
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Mr. Obama -- whose jump shot earned him the nickname Barry O'Bomber at Hawaii's Punahou School -- has hired a team of cabinet members and aides with serious basketball backgrounds. Many of them are planning for regular court time with the president, according to Mr. Obama's transition press team.
During the campaign, Mr. Obama said he planned to replace the White House bowling alley -- installed by Richard Nixon in 1969 -- with an indoor basketball court. (There is a tiny outdoor court at the White House adjacent to the tennis court on the southwest side.) National Basketball Association officials have reached out to members of the transition team to offer their services in installing a regulation court at the White House.
I can just see the good old boys shitting their pants over this one. Plus basketball is infinitely cooler than bowling by every stretch of the imagination although self-admittedly, bowling when drunk is fun. Anyway, I'm now occupying myself trying to guess which president before Obama had the best jump shot...I'm going with Woodrow Wilson.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I can't find a review because this just came out and I don't want to write one because my crappy lame ass final is quickly approaching but most of you know the score on this one because it's Deathspell Omega. One 20 minute song in the vein of their latest works.
For the uninitiated, this is probably one of the most vicious bands around. Period. People always throw out that term all the time for weak metal bands but these guys are so into what they do (lyrical inspiration from later George Bataille? Awesome) and the aesthetic nature of it that their material all comes together as a glorious, murky, confusing, exhausting listen. Just fucking get it. These guys make Darkthrone look like a bunch of Hot Topic kiddies. Yeah I said it.
Meet your doom
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Good fucking riddance.
(Chicago still rules, even if our politicians are scum)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
"For anyone who has experienced the genre-bending and ranging music of Cerberus Shoal any time in the past decade, this rebirth known as Fire on Fire should come as no surprise. That band seemed to make a habit of reinventing their sound every couple of years or so (or evolving might be a better word). A band that required loyalty and a healthy sense of wanderlust and adventure.
With Fire on Fire they’ve done it again, or some of them anyway, but this time unplugged and firmly entrenched somewhere in a dimension far removed from those musical roots. The trappings now are rough-hewn and varnished implements: guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, upright bass, accordion; plucked, strummed, pressed and purposefully bowed. But bubbling under the surface and woven in the words, that genesis of youth and anger and cynicism and sense of irony and sarcasm blend with newfound purpose like dandelion wine, and into something that wets the palette but leaves behind an aftertaste of bittersweet satisfaction. This is music for folks who may not be ready to stop being contrary and skeptical, but who have matured to a point where those emotions can be effectively channeled into something useful.
Right out in front of the toe-tapping acid bluegrass and new-generation Americana folk instrumental arrangements the band lays out a rich layer of vocal harmonies that’ll keep your ears glued to your iPod or Media Player or car stereo or to whatever portal-to-your-soul of choice this CD happens to land in. I’ve a bit of a soft-spot for sincere folk music (and what folk music isn’t sincere)? But this ain’t folk any more than Neil Young is a country singer. We’ve gone beyond that and more. The dirge-like apocalyptic lament “Sirocco” with its hypnotic fiddle and unrelenting bass lays a trance-like bed on which something akin to a post-apocalyptic and sickly gleeful chant issues forth: “and if we tear this kingdom down (tear it down!), let it be with a deserving and joyful sound”. I suppose this is close to what A Silver Mt Zion might have sounded like if they’d grown up just south of the border instead of on Mile End Street. And with a keener sense of harmony.
The years of experimentation and experience manifest all over this album, from the plucking bluegrass-tinged title track to the Jesus-freak throwback “Toknight” to Colleen Kinsella’s chilling vocals on the accordion tribute “Squeeze Box” to the all-acoustic post-rock (did I just say acoustic post-rock?) “Haystack”. An enchanting closer to a stunningly engaging album. All I can do at this point is hope like hell these guys somehow wind their way to South Dakota USA so I can see them live. Not likely, but you never know."
My most anticipated album of this year. Just came out today. Get it. Seriously.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Invasive Exotics (2006)
"In an age where psychedelic music is reduced to stylized reference, Invasive Exotics comes as a revelation; fevered and dreadful. Pushing further than any of their Texas-derived contemporaries (the Black Angels, the Secret Machines), Indian Jewelry have assumed The Lone Star State’s psych crown. So much more than a background to bong rips, the album impresses because Indian Jewelry are actually bold enough to deal with the comedown, wrestling fiercely with the darkness between perception and reality, the known and the unknown. It’s a trip in more than one sense."
Invade me, why don't you
Free Gold (2008)
"The new record is awash with swinging drone rock (it's not a paradox; just listen) and, like their contemporaries the Warlocks, they cobble together big noisy songs by kneading fuzz like the Jesus and Mary Chain in with sweet '60s girl pop, and adding a bit of Royal Truxian squalling for texture...The band brings some disparate sounds together to create an album that works really well as a whole, twisting and turning and even cavorting on a spacey trip to nowhere and everywhere."
Friday, December 5, 2008
"Woah. This is a weird one. A home-recorded psychedelic one-man-band "rock opera" from 1972, originally a rare privately pressed LP, now reissued on cd. Super freaky and moody and fuzzed out, with a messed-up "my woman done me wrong" vibe to it all. One JW Farquhar of Philadelphia sang and played all the instruments, though there are some other, presumably non-existent musicians credited on the sleeve... get a load of his supposed band, some of the best fake names ever: "Riffery Lowknut" on fender bass, "Slash Mullethead" on percussion, and "Callust Likfinker" on lead guitar! Steel Mammoth wishes they'd thought of those.
In the liner notes JW says that many of these songs "were written as an outcry against the materialistic nature of the woman during that time period". Maybe a little bit misogynistic? Well, apparently JW had just recently gone through a difficult divorce after having been married for 10 years, and was pretty down on women in general. Regardless of the merits of his bitter outlook, the bummed-out emotions expressed are certainly real. And feed into some genuinely twisted, trippy music.
The first two tracks, "The Formal Female" and "The Want Machine", are both multi-part suites, 11-12 minutes each. Groovy, laid back, lonely stuff, rife with FX and heavy doses of fuzz guitar (at one point, JW does to the traditional wedding march what Hendrix did to the "Star Spangled Banner"). "The Want Machine", with its funky guitar and guttural dialogue, almost sounds like the freakin' Jimmy Castor Bunch circa It's Just Begun, jivin' and acid-dosed (here, downer-dosed).
On "My Bundle Of Joy", JW's sad, melodic vocals are accompanied by what sounds like a primitive drum machine ticking away. It's really weird and lovely. Not sure what it reminds us of, maybe Vincent Gallo? Also, there's a good deal of woozy harmonica, or what could be Augustus Pablo style reggae melodica, all throughout the album. "Where Have You Been" and "Mansions" are equally odd and entrancing. Spacey, echoey, outsider rad dudeness! JW Farquhar is part George Brigman, part Dreamies, part Bobb Trimble, part Perry Leopold... like we said, a weird one. Not every Shadoks reissue is amazing, but sometimes when they find an obscure gem, like this, they really hit it out of the park, we're telling you. And as break-up records go, this one's unique."
Would you like to meet her?
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Wooden Shjips-Vol. I (2008)
"Vol. 1 is a collection of Wooden Shjips’ vinyl singles. The Shrinking Moon for You 10” has been long sold out after its run of 300 was given out for free (and now fetch $100 plus on EBay). The song – maybe the band’s best – features a Kraut-cum-hips groove and guitar oscillating between blistering squeal and low-frequency breakup, reminiscent of legendary Japan psychsters Les Rallizes Denudes. “Dance, California (Radio Edit)” from the 7” of the same name is another highlight, built out of a Steppenwolf-style riff and Middle Eastern-vibing staccato soloing. The “SOL ’07” 7” is the final component. It’s title track mixes it up with some heavily echoed vocals and trumpet, but at 10 minutes is overlong for a song built from a single phrase.
In a sort of paradox, Vol. 1, as a collection of singles, showcases the band’s best work, but finds itself limited as an LP statement. Little figurative license need be taken to say that Wooden Shjips are a one-note act (“Death’s Not Your Friend” contains the only real chord progression on the record). As individual tracks, these distill infectious psych bliss. But the record lacks the range of gears its length requires. This is great as a catch-all for one of today’s most exciting psych-rock acts, but we’ll probably have to wait for the next studio full-length to see just how much of that promise will be realized."
Wooden Shjips-Wooden Shjips (2007)
"On their self-titled full-length debut, the Shjips drop five tracks of throbbing hypno-groove that weds influences as divergent as Suicide and Hawkwind into a mass that manages to soothe and shred.
“We Ask You to Ride” is the most overtly ’60s sounding track here, with a three-note organ lick and spoken/sung vocals that sound like a particularly tuned-in Jim Morrison. Meaty-fingered bass lines, metronomic drumming and simple organ motifs get the proceedings swaying before in-the-red guitars – turned just a touch too high – kick things into overdrive.
“Losin’ Time” moves at a pace that could almost be called lively, though without sacrificing any of the spell-casting repetition of the opener. “Lucy’s Ride” is heavy rock haze played loud and hard with vocals groaning through a mask of echo. “Blue Sky Bends” features an appropriately epic roundhouse blues riff played to rattle teeth. Everything is steeped in reverb and blown-out speaker hum except the bass, which lumbers on as thick and warm as drying blood.
The album ends with “Shine Like Suns,” 10-minutes of kraut bliss that plays like the soundtrack for a road trip straight into the heart of an overdose.Whatever their potion, Wooden Shjips have hit upon a sound that distills psychedelic rock influences from the Summer of Love onward into the rarest of brews: originality."
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
One of the greatest guitarists of all time. No disputes necessary.
"John Fahey (February 28, 1939 – February 22, 2001) was an American fingerstyle guitarist and composer who pioneered the steel-string guitar as a solo instrument. His style has been greatly influential and has been described as American Primitivism, a term borrowed from painting and referring mainly to the self-taught nature of his art. Fahey himself borrowed from the folk and blues traditions in American music but also incorporated classical, Brazilian, Indian and abstract music into his eclectic œuvre. In characteristically witty fashion, he once said of his style: "How can I be folk? I'm from the suburbs you know." In 2003, he was ranked 35th in Rolling Stone's "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"."
The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death (1965)
The Legend of Blind Joe Death (1964/1967)
Days Have Gone By (1967)
The Yellow Princess (1969)
Death Chants, Breakdowns, and Military Waltzes (1964)
Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favorites (1965)
Voice of the Turtle (1968)
Note: passwords for all files that require it is "levente"
Friday, November 21, 2008
Brightblack Morning Light (2006)
"Though the album features ten songs, it more often plays like one massive piece with barely perceptible breaks. As engaging as the actual tunes can be, the disc's real strength is in its ability to sustain one consistent mood through its entire duration -- a slow-mo, almost languid waltz through bayous and shorelines. Even so, individual songs distinguish themselves from the haze -- "Everybody Daylight" starts the album with a supple rhythm while flute lines aim for the skies. "A River Could Be Loved" is willfully spare, tracing simple piano and organ tones across Rabob and Nabob's faintly echoed vocals. Gail West and Ann McCrary (two latter day members of the Staple Singers) lend their voices to tracks like "Friend of Time," giving the album's subtle gospel notes a distinguished feel. Brightblack's most affecting piece, though, is also the record's longest. Starting with woozy keys and lazy guitar, "Star Blanket River Child" hits a deep mainline and works it over, punctuating the engaging lope with tight horn bursts that add Technicolor effects to the band's genteel brush strokes.
Brightblack Morning Light combines a wealth of seemingly disparate musical strands into one potent, cohesive brew. Though Hughes and Shineywater skirt blues, funk, and modern psychedelic rock, what emerges never sounds like haphazard pastiche. Rather, stewed together long and slow, these familiar refrains emerge as the band's own singular and unmistakable sound -- powerful in its stark simplicity and graceful dedication to space, but played with gentle hands that never become overbearing. If anything, that's the album's only real weakness (besides the flower power) -- in pursuing such a lazy, hazy stream of thought for close to an hour, there's a tendency for the second half of the record to feel like a blur of nameless trees and rivers. Nonetheless, that dedication is always heartwarming, resulting in an album that seems perfectly suited for these heat-stroke days that we're stuck sweating through. Playing like Dusty Springfield's tenure in Memphis coated in bong resin, Dr. John's gris-gris mixed with some potent cough syrup, or even the Band's hearty embrace of Americana tempered with late night camp outs under the stars, Brightblack Morning Light is one gorgeous sigh after another."
Take a peek
Motion to Rejoin (2008)
"Authenticity is the big issue at the heart of Motion To Rejoin, coming in the form of the soul, blues, gospel music and the southern sounds that have surrounded this duo and their Alabama roots. Apparently they don’t dig overly postured appropriation, and it shows in their shamanic channeling of southern vibes, making it into something sincere and truly their own.
Backlit by those Doorsy muted 70s keyboard noodles, wafty woodwinds, layers and layers of hazy vocals, reverberant and spacious, Motion To Rejoin burns slow from start to finish. Straight away on 'Hologram Buffalo' it’s all slow-motion chords and blissed-out harmonies. In a way, the title of that track encapsulates their sound; slightly resistant to modernization but set firmly in the now.
The stoned, rolling nature of this stuff means it has the tendency to drop into the background but this is a virtue rather than a weakness. Yes, it’s 'mood' music but it’s unclear whether it’s purpose-built to be wafting through from the other room in a house with all the doors open. That’s not to say that it’s a boring record. Yes, the style and the evocative mood that positively drips from this record are perhaps its most obvious elements but the spirit that underlies these sweltering ballads is massive. And when you’re this good at dwelling on the middle bits, why not embrace it? You’ll get lost in this. A record that will not only change the temperature but your spirit, too."
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Swans-Filth/Body to Body, Job to Job
Swans-Cop/Young God/Greed/Holy Money
Dawn of Azazel-Discography
Leviathan-Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
That's all I got for now but there will definitely be some more of stuff like this. Yeeeaaaahhhh.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Can - Ege Bamyasi (1972)
Can - Tago Mago (1971)
Can - Future Days (2005 remastered edition)
Amon Duul II - Phallus Dei (1969)
Amon Duul II - Yeti (1970)
Amon Duul II-Tanz der Lemminage (Remaster)
Ash Ra Tempel - Ash Ra Tempel (1971)
Neu! - Neu! (1972)
More later for sure. These are a few essentials. And I do mean essential.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Les Rallizes Denudes-Heavier Than A Death In The Family
"Les Rallizes Dénudés (裸のラリーズ, Hadaka no Rallizes) are an influential, yet reclusive Japanese psychedelic noise band. They were formed in 1967, and the band was known for their ties to avant-garde theater groups (as typified by Shuji Terayama's troupe) and leftist political groups, as well as for their feedback-drenched live shows and use of strobe lights and mirror balls onstage, which earned them comparisons to the Velvet Underground. Most of their albums that have been released are in very limited editions.
The band's style is typified by simple, repeated bass lines and shrieking guitar feedback.
In 1970, the original bass player Moriaki Wakabayashi was involved in the hijacking of Japan Airlines Flight 351 orchestrated by the Japanese Red Army. Singer Takashi Mizutani was allegedly offered a role in the hijacking but turned it down.Heavier Than a Death In The Family is a collection of live tracks at the height of their career. Copies of this album are rare, very high priced and of course, long out of print."
This one is for you Acid Mother's Temple fans.
Feel the weight
Speed, Glue, and Shinki-Eve
"They took their name from Kabe's love of sniffing Marusan Pro Band glue and Joey Smith's obsession with amphetamines, as evidenced by the lyrics of many Speed, Glue & Shinki songs (all lyrics being written and sung by Smith). The resulting sound was extremely bleak and raw, with Kabe's crunching atonal bass runs and Smith's stop-start rhythms creating a unique foundation for Shinki Chen's euphoric blues. Song titles such as 'Stoned Out of My Mind', 'Mr Walking Drugstore Man' and 'Sniffing and Snorting', combined with Smith's dangerous outlaw lyrics and caustic Iggy Pop-like vocal asides, gave the band an edge that no other Japanese band could (or would have wished to) achieve."
Sniff that shit
Flower Travellin' Band-Satori
"Satori is a conceptual hard rock-psych album driven by Hideki Ishima's furious guitar licks which erupt and explode over the harmonic heart beat of the drums and bass and Yamanaka's banshee-like vocal style which was turning him into an occidental Iggy Pop or Ozzy Osbourne while the band itself was rapidly becoming Japan's answer to Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. Satori is a huge album in every way. From power chords to Eastern-tinged North African six string freak-outs and crashing tom-toms, the band flexes its collective muscle from start to finish. In short, this is a real rock classic of the type they simply don't make any more."
I will post plenty more of this awesome stuff, Japrock is fucking nasty. Make sure to check out Akira Ishikawa and Count Buffalo as well right here for another example of some bad ass Psych.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Playing With Fire
Perfect Prescription didn't work. Sorry dudes.
Friday, November 7, 2008
"Larkin Grimm is another find by Swans/Angels of Light/Young Gods records main man Michael Gira. ‘Parplar’ is her third album after a pair for the Secret Eye label that stretch out the folk music idiom to bleak and unusual places.
Unlike Akron/Family and Devendra Banhart, Gira’s other notable discoveries, but much like the man himself, Grimm’s motivating spirit comes from a dark, strange place.
Sometimes morose, sometimes jovial, the music is heavily repetitious, as are the lyrics, but the effect is more meditative than tedious. It owes a heavy debt to the ‘old weird America” documented on Harry Smith’s 'Anthology of American Music'. In addition to Grimm’s own fingerpicking, a host of Brooklyn musicians help out, including some of Angels of Light and Old Time Relijun.
Grimm stakes out a fair piece of her ground on the first two numbers.
As ‘Parplar’ begins, Grimm stretches out the question "Who told you you’re going to be all right?" to a slow crawl over a descending three-note riff, while mournful violins stretch out below her bitter intonation of the song’s title: "They were wrong."
The brisk gallop of ‘Ride That Cyclone’ lures the listener in with a more upbeat tone, drawing to a small degree on the bounce of Balkan brass music, but it’s a rough ride, with broken bones lurking in the lyrics.
For maximum oddity, there’s ‘Dominican Rum’, a twisted updated barroom tune: “You’re going to die anyway, so let me kill you nice!” a giddy Grimm demands while regaling the listener with tales of silicone breasts, nuclear war, glowing black babies, hungry panthers and nasty birth control side effects.
Sometimes the sound is peculiarly twee and lo-fi, as on the high-pitched sing-song of ‘Mina Minou’, on other occasions it’s lushly accented with cello and backing vocals as on ‘Durge’.
Grimm keeps the album together with her steely voice – in an era dominated by warbling songbirds, Grimm almost always keeps dead steady, though she does allow it to waver a bit while regaling a lost lover with the wish that he’s “suffering and lost” in the final track, ‘Hope for the Hopeless’.
It’s a peculiarly enchanting album which offers one of the most successful updates of ‘old-timey music’ on offer today."
Ride That Cyclone
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"During the 80s, along with other contemparies such as Sonic Youth and Ministry, Steve Albini’s Big Black were branded ‘Pig***’ music by music critic Robert Christgau. The term gives off a particular dark feel of music that is loud, harsh and most importantly of all, noisy. Big Black sound unique and there is quite a lot of factors that add to why it’s so unique. First point, there is no real drums on here, there is only a drum machine (noted in the liner notes as “Roland” respectively). And my second point is Albini’s special production techniques; he is faithful to the analog way of recording (though in 1987, I’m sure there was no other option), the drums must always sound live which means lots of lovely reverb, the guitars must be filthy raw and the most important trait of an Albini recording is that the vocals are low in the mix. This has helped shaped many albums but most of all and most importantly, Songs About Fucking.
Words cannot describe how violent this album is; the guitars are drenched and drowned with fuzz making it hard to pick out any clear guitar line, the drum machine usually gives off a jack hammer effect and Albini sings with such brutality that it sounds fierce even with the vocals low in the mix. The songs go by fast with most of them not reaching the typical three minute barrier. The songs are packed with controversy fuelling Albini’s desire to offend. Who else could write a song like “Fish Fry” about a man cleaning out his truck after throwing a dead body into a pond from it? And who else would have the balls to cover the Kraftwerk classic “The Model” and possibly make a version that is nearly as good as the original? Big Black are certainly one of a kind and Songs About Fucking is the magnum opus of their career.
What makes the album what it is, is the tight rhythm section from Dave Riley and Roland the drum machine. They provide the basis of the songs with the static, fuzzing guitars obliterating any ounce of silence. A sense of joy tingles up the spine with the jack hammer intro of “L Dopa”, the jumping bass line of “Kitty Empire” or even the balls out approach to the second half of “Power of Independent Trucking”. All the tracks have some sort of special moment to them and it makes each track a worthwhile listen.
Songs About Fucking is a classic, it is influential to many other bands but what stops it from getting top marks is that the second side doesn’t live up to the first side. Even Abini notes: “The best was side one of 'Songs About ***ing'. I was real pleased with the way we did that. We just hopped into the studio, banged all the songs out and hopped out. Didn't take long, didn't cost much, just real smooth. Side two we recorded at a more leisurely pace and I think that hurt us.” The second side has a fair share of astounding songs but none of them live up to the sheer brilliance or intensity of the first side. Any fan of punk music or industrial music will enjoy this a lot. If it’s not the warmth of the sound that sucks you in then it will be the force of it all. Albini has made his best album with this and while projects like Shellac or Rapeman pertain to this sort of sound, it has never beat it."
This is a nasty album in the best way possible. As violent as any album I've heard. Listen to it loud.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The Obama campaign in particular seems to have noticed the virtues of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. It's a little head-spinning to see senior Democrats lauding a Bush cabinet officer in the heat of the campaign, but earlier this month, Richard Danzig, the former Navy secretary who has become one of Obama's closest national security aides, said that many of Gates's pragmatic policies at the Pentagon "are things that Senator Obama agrees with and I agree with." Danzig added that Gates could do "even better" if he stayed on the job in an Obama administration.
The case for Gates goes beyond the obvious question of assisting the next president in handling Iraq, which Gates has helped haul back from the brink of total collapse. But he has also been instrumental in launching a sweeping revolution in U.S. national security.
Gates has found space to do so since, with the exception of Vice President Cheney, the hard-liners who populated the first Bush term are now gone. Instead of outspoken ideologues such as Douglas Feith and John Bolton, we now have competent functionaries such as National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who played cheerleader to the addled muscle-flexing policies of the first term, has surrounded herself with career diplomats and is actually listening to them. The administration that didn't do nation-building and wouldn't talk to the "axis of evil" is doing both.
The most important change, however, is that the administration has finally hit on a long-term way to make the United States secure: by promoting prosperity abroad. This doesn't sound like Pentagon business, but Gates has shown a surprising willingness to think creatively. He doesn't get the attention that his abrasive predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, did, but Gates has put forward a national security policy vision that will be far more lasting -- and successful.
In several speeches that haven't received the attention they deserve, Gates has argued that, as he put it on Sept. 29 at the National Defense University, "direct military force will continue to have a role" in the "prolonged, world-wide irregular campaign" against al-Qaeda and other violent extremists. But here's the important part: Gates understands "that over the long term, we cannot kill or capture our way to victory."
Instead, he calls for beefed up U.S. diplomatic and development capabilities. Unlike Cheney and Rumsfeld, who were obsessed with potential great-power competitors such as China, Gates bluntly admits that the "most likely catastrophic threats to our homeland -- for example, an American city poisoned or reduced to rubble by a terrorist attack -- are more likely to emanate from failing states than from aggressor states." His solution to failing states? Help patch them up. Shortly after he took office, Gates argued that the lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan is that "economic development, . . . good governance, providing basic services to the people, training and equipping indigenous military and police forces, strategic communications, and more -- these, along with security, are essential ingredients for long-term success."
Another sign of this revolution came last week with the release of a new Army field manual whose sections on conflict-ridden, fragile states give similar weight to both nation-building and major combat operations. In other words, Gates sees reconstruction and economic development as central parts of the Pentagon's push to make the United States safer from the threats that can lurk inside weak and failing states such as Afghanistan.
He has been quietly putting this approach into action. In a little-noticed move last summer, the Pentagon sent the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship, on a humanitarian mission to six countries in Latin America. Instead of rushing Marines into battle, the Kearsarge carried more than 500 humanitarian workers, doctors and development experts -- all with the mission, in the words of the ship's commander, of "influencing generations to come." When Hurricane Ike slammed into Haiti in September, the Kearsarge steamed toward the desperate island nation, bearing helicopters and boats to help stem the humanitarian crisis.
The Kearsarge mission shrewdly sought to build on perhaps the best foreign policy moments of Bush's two terms in office: the responses to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. In both cases, the United States used its might to address a pressing humanitarian crisis -- and in doing so, built up much-needed trust.
In a world in which the United States has endured double-digit declines in its popularity since 2002, such efforts can restore U.S. credibility -- the key missing ingredient for winning the war on terror. This new approach, with its focus on building a more prosperous, less menacing world, works: It delivers tangible results, makes our friends abroad more stable and offers a far more reliable path to keeping the United States safe. It also happens to represent a revolutionary shift in Bush administration thinking about security. And it is being driven by military and Foreign Service officers with no ideological agendas -- including Adm. Michael Mullen, Gen. David H. Petraeus and State Department officials Christopher Hill, William Burns and C. David Welch.
The professionals understand that any deal that might persuade North Korea or Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions must also help those regimes feed their people and feel more secure. They understand that the United States should not have clung to the corrupt regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan that denied the public the right to choose its own leaders. And they understand that if we want the world to help us fight nuclear proliferation and terrorism, we have to be seen as helping the rest of the world's citizens with their own challenges.
The gap between these two approaches -- between the professionals and the ideologues -- is perhaps starkest on Iraq. Our generals know that the secret of the "surge" wasn't simply putting more U.S. troops on the ground as our coalition partners withdrew. The secret was implementing a new set of tactics, largely drawn from the counterinsurgency manual developed by Petraeus, that focused on the Iraqi people's basic needs.
Petraeus's strategy was honed during his earlier service in Haiti and Bosnia, but his most formative assignment was his 2003 stint as commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, Iraq. There, he recognized that security depended not only on killing insurgents but also on making sure that the people of Mosul had a chance to improve their quality of life. Petraeus kept asking, "Is life better than it was under Saddam Hussein?" He made great strides in improving the security situation by bettering Iraqis' lives with quick, high-impact construction projects, by employing Iraqis rather than foreign contractors to help build their own country and even jump-starting trade between northern Iraq and Syria.
It's this sort of broad-mindedness that we need -- and that Gates values. Petraeus is Gates's kind of leader; the Pentagon chief likes to quote Gen. George Marshall's description of Dwight D. Eisenhower as the "almost perfect model of a modern commander: part soldier, part diplomat, part administrator." Gates understands that all three aspects are crucial, that for all our core national security problems -- finishing the jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan, stabilizing Pakistan, defeating al-Qaeda, confronting a resurgent Russia and advancing the Middle East peace process -- the secret to success will be improving the basic security of people in the area and giving them more comfortable, hopeful lives. If McCain and Obama understand this as well, they'll ask Gates to stay put. He has served his country well, but his country isn't done with him yet.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
"Rumoured to have been recorded by an aggregation of various Teenage Fanclubbers and Bloody Valentiners, this mysterious album had journalists and pop stars from Britain and America fascinated by its sound. Wherever My Bloody Valentine have roared throughout the universe the Teenage Filmstars echo has followed, but not blindly. Where the MBV sound is the well-controlled experiment from the lab, the Teenage Filmstars set their rocket to unknown planets -- what is Star? An alchemist's philosophy stone thrown surreptitiously into space? It was in fact, the work of one Edward Ball, in between label duties for Creation Records and recording for the label. 'The Master Of Brinkmanship,' as one taste maker of the time described him. This reissue features four previously unreleased extra tracks, including an early version of Edward Ball's hit single Love Is Blue"
Required for any MBV fan or shoegaze fan in general.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
"They used to be the art-punk-prog-chaos collective Cerberus Shoal, but they ditched their electric instruments, went into hiding for a while, and now play all acoustic-stand up bass, mandolin, banjo, harmonium, accordion, acoustic guitar, dobro etc etc, and they all sing and harmonize on the songs. Live, they do it "old school" and just use two mics placed in front of them on the stage, like a bluegrass band. They all live in the same house up in Maine, across from rusting green oil tanks, apparently. To me they sound like a backwoods, fierce, psychedelic Mamas And The Papas or a crazed and joyously vengeful gospel string band. They're great people and I love their music. It's all acoustic, but it's not in the least folky. More old-timey incantations - American music with excellent words and performed with the honed violence of intent that truly great music requires. They're a total blast live. They just recently played my back porch actually (!!!!) for my wife's birthday and it was one of the best live music experiences I've had in years."
I've collected everything I could find which is their debut 5 song EP, a song from their forthcoming album "The Orchard" and an unreleased track that will probably end up on the album. Highest possible recommendation.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
"An old drum kit. Homemade amps. A dented old trombone. A bucket and a handful of firecrackers. The Reeks make a sound that is otherworldly. Dark and stumbling, folk-flecked basement blues. A mix of woozy slide guitar, swampy trombone, sparse and erratic percussion, tape hiss, amp buzz, shortwave interference and dark doomy brilliance. Like a ghostly, indie rock New Orleans funeral jazz band or Roland S. Howard fronting the Dead C. Haunting, mesmerizing, gorgeously raucous, dreamily creepy and absolutely unlike anything you have ever heard. For years the Reeks played all up and down the West Coast, basements, back porches, living rooms, pizza parlours, with only a 12" and a battered old suitcase full of hand dubbed cassettes to their name, spreading their warm cloak of pulsing, droning creepy crawly throb over anyone lucky enough to be packed into the same sweaty space. At once jubilant and danceable, but at the same time, dark and lugubrious, ominous and somnabulent. Lovers of weird music couldn't get enough, but eventually, even dyed in the wool indie rockers began to embrace the Reeks, having perhaps found something that still smacked of their beloved indie rock, but was a little darker and a whole lot weirder than they were used to. But by then it was too late. The release of Knife Hits is truly bittersweet. After years of recording and re-recording, mixing and remixing, when Knife Hits was finally ready to be released, and the rest of the world would finally get to hear the Reeks' amazing off kilter avant indie funeral folk, Orion Satushek, Reeks mainman, guitar player, instrument builder and one of the nicest guys ever, was tragically hit and killed by a drunk driver. The personal loss, is indescribable, a deep sting everytime we think about him, his band, his music, his friendship. But the loss to music, to the music community, is immeasurable. Years of playing, and practicing and rocking and sweating in tiny cramped basements and doing with a crappy old drum kit and a couple of homemade amps what most bands can't do with all the equipment in the world is somehow all crammed onto this single disc. These ten songs. The passion, the playfulness, the dark moodiness, the spaced out droniness, the wild sweaty chaos, the sheer joy of making an unholy racket. This record is not only a totally unique chunk of damaged outsider rock brilliance, but it's also a fitting tribute to a friend we will never get over losing. We miss you, Orion." (Taken from Andee's discription on his tUMULt website)
Not much I can say then, huh? Great description, sums it up perfectly. Not quite sure how to feel when I listen to it but I love it and if you dig intriguing sounding stuff, well, what are you waiting for? Needless to say, very highly recommended.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Oooh boy. If any bluesman will make you weep, it's this man right here. His proper studio albums pale in comparison to this gem which any self-respecting music fan should have...not to sound too overbearing or anything. Seriously though, the man was monsterously bitter, bizarre, and most of all, a complete asshole like any bluesman should be. Highest recommendation possible.
I'm so glad
"Unbelievable 1972 Japanese underground rarity featuring acid guitar god Kimio Mizutani on planet-bombing wah-wah/distorto form backed by a thunder of African rhythms. Miuztani is best known for killer prog/psych sides like Love Live Life +1 and A Path Through Haze but this features some of the most spirit-flaying six string sorcery he ever laid in stone, over a shrifting back line that feels as cosmos-bound as Billy TK’s all-Maori Powerhouse orchestra or those never-realised Miles/Hendrix third-stone jams. Too fucking much.Highly recommended."
That about says it all. Been listening to it nonstop lately. Aside from the killer guitar and drum work, the bassist is fucking nasty as well. Totally essential.
Take me to Uganda
"we got a big one here! you don't wanna' miss this! richard norris, founding member of the grid, and london's premier dj, producer and remix maestro erol alkan have been releasing music under the beyond the wizard's sleeve moniker since 2007, when their first 12" sold out in a matter of days. then came the second, third and fourth releases, all selling out as soon as they hit the shelves. here is a collection of some of the finest moments from the 4 highly sought after 12's. this is a serious slice of esoteric, eclectic freakbeat weirdness. re-edited nuggets, long lost exotic psychedelia and krauty, disco beats are all mangled into previously unheard shapes. totally exclusive to rough trade, this is simply some of the most vital, mindbending and great music to be heard. do. not. miss." -Rough Trade
This is a ridiculous record that all psych/krautrock/electro fans NEED. Best record I've heard all year.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008