Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Blues is the Roots...Everything Else is the Fruits Part I

The weather is getting cold, I'm living in a ghost town, and life is feeling the need to repeatedly kick me in the teeth. What better way to deal with it all than to post some original sad bastard music? These are essential Blues recordings from the 1930s and 40s that you can sure as hell bet I'll post again. Because no wordiness can do these men justice, Ill critique in my typical fanboy style.

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

Ballin' in da White House...Knameen?

Sharp elbows are already flying in the Obama camp. With Barack Obama the first avid basketball player to be elected president, political appointees, college coaches and NBA officials are all angling to get in on the game.

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.

"I think we are putting together the best basketball-playing cabinet in American history," the president-elect said at a news conference earlier this week.

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.

Wall Street Journal

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

Deathspell Omega-Veritas Diaboli Manet In Aeternum : Chaining The Katechon (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

Man oh man...

Am I the only Chicagoan embarrassed by that fucking scumbag Rod Blagojevich? Smart criminals are cool. Dumb ones are not. You read some of his quotes and you wonder, "Wow, he actually got away with stuff before?" I mean, everyone knew he was dirty. But when I have to argue with these obnoxious New Yorkers here at school about who's city is better and the first thing I hear about is our soon to be former rat faced piece of shit excuse for a governor, well, it's pretty embarrassing. And I hope he gets the book thrown at him not only for this, but his ridiculously stupid ideas (the guy wanted to fund all his poorly planned infastructure projects with gambling money), his taxation on cigarettes to fund random crap (completely unconstitutional and unfair, and he's not the only one doing it. Wonder where that money goes) and his rampant spending. Not to mention that Chicago now has the highest sales tax in the whole freaking country (not totally his fault, but it figures so he can fund more stupid ideas.) Three words sum this whole thing up for me:

Good fucking riddance.

(Chicago still rules, even if our politicians are scum)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fire on Fire-The Orchard (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.

Burn me

Monday, December 8, 2008

Indian Jewelry-Two Albums

"Indian Jewelry do not make dark music to trip to; they make dark music to pack with you on spirit quests. Taking the bad acid freak-out aesthetic of fellow Texans the Butthole Surfers, and cutting it in with the droning electronic menace of Suicide, Indian Jewelry are the new robot shamans, projecting nano-bot visions on expansive wastelands and conjuring snippets of digitized desolation. On this, their debut LP, they display an impressive degree of sonic cohesion and daring. Their sound palette is jarring; vocals echo and delay toward incoherence, synthesizers are distorted to within an inch of overload, guitars are strummed and manipulated with distant indifference, and drums are banged on in primal communion or automated as hissing syncopated throbs."

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."

Gold diggin'

Friday, December 5, 2008

JW Farquhar-The Formal Female (1972)

"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-2 Albums

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."

Sail 1

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."

Sail 2