Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Clinic: Bubblegum (Domino) – The 6th album from Liverpool, UK art punk ensemble Clinic heads in a more subdued, Velvet Underground inspired direction. With songs awash in strings, harpsichords and dulcimers, it’s definitely a Sunday morning set. "Radiostory" resonates like a mellowed out "The Gift", only with a less tragic conclusion. Bubblegum has a dreamy, soundtrack feel that maintains the momentum to carry you forward. Recommended. Play 1 4 6 8 13
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Ebo Taylor: Love & Death (Strut) - Thanks to his inclusion on several Soundway and Analog Africa compilations, Ghana highlife legend Ebo Taylor is finally reaching a wider audience. Known for fusing Ghanaian Highlife with Afrobeat and jazz, the now 74-year-old master presents a new album. Supported by Berlin based collective Afrobeat Academy (featuring members of Poets Of Rhythm, Kabu Kabu and Ghanaian legends Marijata) the tracks crackle with energy and authenticity. The propulsive rhythmic grooves open for incendiary rotating solos. His re-worked classic "Victory" is totally smoking. Nearly Highly Recommended. Start on 1 2 3 4 6
Monday, September 27, 2010
Highlife: Best Bless [ep] (The Social Registry) - Conceived in the small island of Gaspar Grande off the coast of Trinidad, Best Bless is an EP of tropical psych-pop by Highlife. Masterminds Sleepy Doug Shaw and Mira Billotte of White Magic (Drag City) named this project Highlife for its feeling of rejoicing, high consciousness and, of course, the guitar styles influenced by African 'Highlife' music. Let the layered guitars, breezy keys, Caribbean percussion and sing-along vocals carry you away. Recommended. Play 2 3 4
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Various Artists: Fania Essential Recordings: Salsa Explosion: The New York Salsa Revolution 1969-1979 (Strut)
Various Artists: Fania Essential Recordings: Salsa Explosion: The New York Salsa Revolution 1969-1979 (Strut) - Without a doubt, NYC's Fania Records and its artists produced some of the best Salsa music ever recorded. The genera's formative heavy hitters are well represented on this 65+ minute collection guaranteed to get you dancing. This is the inaugural release in Strut's mining of Fania's rich catalog. Nearly Highly Recommended.
Start on 1 2 3 4 6 9 10 13 14
Start on 1 2 3 4 6 9 10 13 14
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Bruce Haack: Farad- The Electric Voice (Stones Throw) - A collection of vocoder-based electronic recordings from late music pioneer Bruce Haack (1931-1988). Beginning his career in commercial and children's music, this set starts off with his rock-influenced conceptual album "Electric Lucifer", where earth was caught in the middle of a war between heaven and hell. Farad, the name he gave his self-made vocoder, was a forerunner. Coupled with Moog and homemade synthesizers, he advanced electronic music with his psychedelic, futuristic sound. Recommended. Play 1 2 3 6 10 14
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Swans: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Young God) - Michael Gira re-conviens his ensemble Swans for another chapter of American underground rock. Shadowed spiritual music that invites you in with chiming bells, and before you realize what's happening, you are asunder in fire and brimstone. Driving rhythms pull you through, as various sonic layers fly past at a dizzying pace. Set yourself free. Recommended. Play 1 2 5 (FCC 3)
Blonde Redhead: Penny Sparkle (4AD) – Upon seeing the cover of Penny Sparkle, it seemed odd that Blonde Redhead chose to apply their name like a banana sticker. As I pealed back the cover, with the highest of expectations, I found something unwelcomely soft. Fifteen years into the journey, they seem to have settled into a gentle gallop. The guitars were largely left at the stable, as the bouncing mane glistens in a reverb, dub kissed fog. Kazu Makino's lovely vocals are lush, understated and ethereal, as she seems to be in control of "Penny Sparkle", the album's namesake horse. Though well worth getting to know, I'd buy a copy of "Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons" or "23" instead. Nearly Recommended. 1 2 3 4 6 9
Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca (Expanded Edition- Disc 2) (Domino) - In March of 2009 Dirty Projectors released "Bitte Orca" to much deserved acclaim. Eighteen months later, Domino decides to expand the offering with a second slab of goodness. Lo-fi experimental-ism at it's best, with fractal guitar, lovely harmonies, looped electronics and Afro-centric touches. Centered on a June 2009 live acoustic set from New York's Other Music, and extended with previously exclusive 7" and 12" gems, the material moves from sparse to tricked out. While I doubt I'd but it again, I'd strongly recommend those who missed it on the first round grab it now. Recommended. Play 2 4 6 7 9 10 12-Dylan Cover
Ólöf Arnalds: Innundir Skinni (One Little Indian) – Though best known for her work with Múm, "Innundir Skinni" is the sophomore release from Icelandic singer/ multi-instrumentalist Ólöf Arnalds. Images of windswept wilderness develop from the mostly sparse guitar based arrangements with some strings, harp, balafon and piano support. Her lovely, ethereal vocals warm your soul with both Icelandic and English lyrics. Recommended. Play 1 2 3 4 8-w/ Björk
Black Mountain: Wilderness Heart (Jagjaguwar) – The 3rd album from Vancouver space rockers Black Mountain distills the tracks into more focused statements. Amber Webber's roll is now balanced with fellow guitarist/vocalist Stephen McBean. Whether alternating or in harmony, their vocals shine amid moods of 70s rock. "Wilderness Heart" is a fresh and powerful blend of electric heaviness, acoustic fragility. Recommended. Play 1 2 3 4 6 8 10
of Montreal: False Priest (Polyvinyl) - of Montreal’s mastermind Kevin Barnes teams up with Grammy-nominated producer Jon Brion (Kanye West, Fiona Apple) for an ecstatic glam meets sultry R&B romp. Playful high falsettos play off guest appearances from Janelle Monáe and Beyoncé’s sister Solange Knowles, as funky rhythms keep you grooving. Electro and organic instrumentation run you faster in physical matters. Recommended. Play 1 2 3 4 7 8 12
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Mice Parade: What It Means To Be Left-Handed (FatCat) - Rearrange the letters of Mice Parade and you have Adam Pierce. Along with his cohorts, he skips around the world, refracting highlife, flamenco, Brazilian jazz, noise-pop and more in a gloriously elaborate array of sound. Guest vocalist Caroline Lufkin (aka Caroline), drummer Doug Scharin (Rex, Codeine, HiM) and classical guitarist Dan Lippel further the mélange of intricate percussion, layered guitars, keys, effects and voices. Warm, inviting and Nearly Highly Recommended. Play 1 2 3 4 7 11 12
Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg: Je T'aime... Moi, Non Plus (Light In The Attic) - Sensual '69 reissue from Gallic pop star Serge Gainsbourg and British actress/vocalist Jane Birkin. Gainsbourg’s erotic lyrics and Jane’s passionate purrs on "Je T'aime... Moi, Non Plus" got it banned by the BBC, and the Vatican condemned it's immoral nature. Nevertheless, it sold around a million copies just a few months. Explore the baroque pop and cabaret sensibilities realized in sultry session of pumping organ, swooning strings, caressing guitar, throbbing bass and playful percussion. Jane's breathy vocals and Serge's cool croon electrifies the affair. Explore a musical testament to 1969 playful burlesque and deep erotica. Highly Recommended. [Grab the 180-gram wax and 7" bonus while its hot] Play 1 2 3 6 7 9 12
Monday, September 6, 2010
Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble: Blueprints (Chicago Sessions) – Trumpeter Victor Garcia and pianist Darwin Norguera lead this smoking Latin-Jazz ensemble that features guests Steve Turre and Neal Alger. Nice solos glide atop the infectious rhythms. The dynamic arrangements allow the musicians pack loads of emotion into the pieces. Blueprints is their debut. Recommended. Play 1 2 5 6
Tera Melos: Patagonian Rats (Sargent House) - California trio Tera Melos craft experimental, noisy math rock with a freak-pop element. Discernible vocals, saxophone and effects are layered into the complex guitar and rhythmic structures. The lengthy journeys offer rewarding sonic surprises. Recommended. Play 5 6 7 9 (FCC 3 4 8 11)
Fitz and the Tantrums: Picking' Up The Pieces (Danderbird) - Full length debut from California neo-soul six piece delivers a great balance of soul, gritty funk and blues. Fitz and singer Noelle Scaggs' playful interaction is great. The arrangements are tight, with spry horns, vintage organ, throbbing bass and Motown style drums forming sweet dance groove. Recommended. Play 1 2 4 5 7 (FCC 9)
Azure Ray: Drawing Down the Moon (Saddle Creek) – After an extended absence, fem dream pop duo Azure Ray's next chapter is Drawing Down the Moon. Their lovely harmonies connect acoustic guitar, electronic embellishments and some chamber elements. The delicate, melancholy songs are remarkably cathartic. Nearly Recommended. Play 2 4 5 8 9 10
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Dungen: Skit I Allt (Mexican Summer) - Apparently "Skit I Allt" is Svenska for "Fuck All." Lost is the translation was the connotation of party till dawn. Swedish quartet Dungen illuminate a swirl of effervescent psychedelia that ebbs from progressive rock to folk, pop and breezy jazz. They mesh flute, organ and strings with rock elements for a sound that's both nostalgic and fresh. Recommended. Play 2 3 5 7 8
Antony and the Johnsons - Thank You For Your Love [EP] (Secretly Canadian) - Building toward their 4th LP, Swanlights (due October 12, 2010), this EP contains album track "Thank You For Your Love" plus 4 non-album tracks. His originals are paired with two covers. "Pressing On" (Track 4) is a Bob Dylan cover, featuring Stefon Harris on vibes and "Imagine" (Track 5) is the John Lennon classic, featuring avant-garde tape maestro William Basinski. As usual, Antony Hegarty's vocals are dramatic and stunning. "Thank You" features great NYC modern creative horn players Paul Shapiro, Briggan Krauss, Steven Bernstein and Douglas Wieselman. Sophisticated avant-pop not to be overlooked. Recommended. 1 3 or covers 4 5
Prince Rama: Shadow Temple (Paw Tracks) - Spawned in a Hare Krishna-centric Florida community, Brooklyn-based psychedelic rock trio Prince Rama (FKA Prince Rama of Ayodhya) are Michael Collins and sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson. Shadow Temple was recorded in a warehouse, which seems fitting for their urban, tribal, transcendental music. Ethereal chants, Indian drums, swirling keys, guitar and found percussion take you there. Recommended. Play 1 2 5 6
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Magic Kids: Memphis (True Panther Sounds) – Titled after their hometown, Memphis is the debut LP from five-piece Magic Kids. Their lush orchestral-pop comes to life with catchy harmonies and an array of guitars, violins, horns, keyboards, etc. Joyous and nostalgic, their feel-good sound references the city's rich heritage without seeming derivative. Recommended. Play 1 2 3 5 6 9
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Aloe Blacc: Good Things (Stones Throw) – The sophomore LP from west coast singer E. Nathaniel Dawkins (aka Aloe Blacc) is a major step forward. His neo-soul vocals share stories of economic struggles atop vibrant, contemporary productions from Truth and Soul (Leon Michels and Jeff Silverman). His smooth phrasing and range are solid, while the robust productions feature funky bass, rhythmic guitar, strings, vintage keys, horns, vibes, strings, etc. Side one is the strongest. Nearly Highly Recommended. Play 1 2 3 4 6 10
Les Savy Fav: Root for Ruin (French Kiss) - Indie-rockers Les Savy Fav's 5th LP offers another chapter of catchy, energetic, somewhat jagged works. Guitarists Seth Jabour and Andrew Reuland craft interesting, mathy lines, as vocalist Tim Harrington shouts with emotion. Work out that excess energy. Nearly Recommended. 4 5 7 8 11 (FCC 1 2 3)
!!!: Strange Weather, Isn't It? (Warp) - Strange Weather, Isn't It? is the 4th LP from dance-rock combo !!!. While most of the playfully titled tracks stay locked into the same propulsive, dub kissed dance groove, the energetic workouts are enjoyable. Shivering synths, joyous sax lines, bombastic beats, hip shaking tambourine, elastic bass and choppy guitar melt the ice. Recommended. Play 1 2 4 5 8 9
Monday, August 16, 2010
Various Artists: The Sound of Rhythm & Culture (Rhythm & Culture) - Eighteenth Street Lounge DJ Farid Nouri's Rhythm & Culture Music branches out into the global downtempo dance culture. The proverb "the apple does not fall far from the tree" holds true here. Sultry rhythms, caressing horns and middle-eastern flair meet dub aesthetics. Nearly Recommended. Play 1 4 6 7 10 14
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Matthew Dear: Black City (Ghostly) – Electro producer Matthew Dear uses Black City to delve into the darer sides of urban life. The gritty sexy grind comes to life with throbbing bass lines, layered synths, pedaled guitar licks, fractured beats and earthy percussion. He packs loads of nuance into the works, which enrich his cool vocals. The pop leanings of this one at times recall TV on the Radio, yet are un-mistakenly Mathew Dear. Recommended. Play 1 2 3 5 6 7 10
Best Coast: Crazy for You (Mexican Summer) - California duo Best Coast (Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno) craft straight-ahead pop that draws on girl groups, garage rock, doo wop and grunge. Cosentino's diary laced lyrics are ripe with feelings of wistful longing and sadness that’s balanced by warm harmonies, distortion and reverb. Who hasn't wished their cat could talk and they had a bunch of weed for comfort? There's something about the summer, indeed. Recommended. Play 1 2 4 5 8 9 13
Darker My Love: Alive As You Are (Dangerbird) - Los Angeles quintet Darker My Love's 3rd LP peels back the delay pedals, noisy squalls and hazy vocals, opting for a breezier 60s psych-pop sound. The guitars driven songs are entwined with sweetly sung harmonies. Some lap-steel and vintage keys round things out. Nearly Recommended. Play 1 7 8 9
Various Artists: The Definitive Collection of Federal Records 1964-1982 (17 North Parade) - Federal Records was founded by Kenneth Khouri in the early sixties. This chronological collection begins with the bright, raw sound of ska, moves into cool, smooth rocksteady, and concludes with pop infused reggae. The first two periods were far more enjoyable, and make the disc 1 a real winner. A hallmark of the Federal label was their pop tune remakes… which very hit or miss. Dig disc 1, be careful with disc 2.
Harappian Night Recordings: The Glorious Gongs of Hainuwele (Bo'Weavil) - Dr Syed Kamran Ali creates his own impressionistic reflections of Hainuwele, 'The Coconut Girl', a figure from Maluku Islands folklore. Exotic arrangements of ouds, mizmars, jouhikkos, monosynths, harmoniums and more sound like rare field recordings. Recommended. Play 2 4 6 9 11 12 13
Friday, August 13, 2010
Mountain Man: Made in the Harbor (Partisan) - Vermont indie folk trio Mountain Man (Molly Sarle, Amelia Meath and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig) craft music that's arrestingly pure and refreshing. Their three part vocal harmonies, either a cappella or accompanied by a single guitar, seem effortless and natural. It was recorded in an old ice cream parlor with the natural ambience intact. Recommended. Play 2 3 4 6 7 11 12
Mt St Helens Vietnam Band: Where the Messengers Meet (Dead Oceans) - The sophomore release from Seattle's Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band builds tense atmosphere into the jangly songcraft. Their smoky, ash filled indie arrangements swirl strings, angular guitars, vintage keys and tumbling percussion. Bubbling progressive passages erupt with dramatic effect. Recommended. Play 1 2 4 6 9 11
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Carissa's Wierd: They'll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996 – 2003 (Hardly Art) – A nice respective of Seattle orchestral indie pop band Carissa's Wierd. Leaders Mat Brooke and Jenn Ghetto and their rotating lineup combined their hushed, plaintive vocals and intricate instrumentation that quietly rocked. Violin and guitar are primary ingredients. Members went on to from Band of Horses. Nearly Recommended. Start on 1 2 5 8 10
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Library Catalog Music Series: Kristin Miltner: Music For Dreaming and Playing (Asthmatic Kitty) – The 8th installment of Asthmatic Kitty's Library Catalog Music Series presents two themes from Oakland, California based electronic sound sculptor Kristin Miltner. By utilizing custom software to combine varied flourishes into the textural backdrop, the pieces are transformed in unexpected ways. Expectedly, the dream sequence evolves, while play bounces around. Upon hearing the pieces, it's not surprising that she has designed audio for several video games and toys. Nearly Recommended. Dig 2 4 5 7 10 11
Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics: s/t (Strut) – UK collective The Heliocentrics join noted Eastern jazz innovator Dr. Lloyd Miller on a freeform mix of Eastern arrangements meshing modal jazz and floating psychedelics. The swirling sounds draw one's spirit onto otherworldly airs. Gliding around mother earth, elevated by inner rhythms, spirit jazz will carry you away. Nearly Highly Recommended. Dig 2 3 5 6 11
Various Artists: Afro-Beat Airways: West African Shock Waves Ghana & Togo 1972-1978 (Analog Africa) – Climb aboard for a smoking journey into organ-driven Afro-beat, cosmic Afro-funk and raw, psychedelic boogie from Ghana and Togo. Features funky guitars, punchy horns, flipped-out organ, deep poly-rhythms and jagged vocals. Culled from vintage Essiebons and PolyGram West Africa sides, this compilation will have you flying high. Highly Recommended. Dig 3 5 6 7 8 10 11 15
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Luisa Maita: Lero-Lero (Cumbancha) - The debut release from São Paolo native Luisa Maita combines her sultry, seductive vocals with modern Brazilian sensibilities. Native rhythms are combined with acoustic instrumentation and restrained electronic embellishments. She allows the rhythms to carry her away, effortlessly bringing her listeners along. Nearly Recommended. Dig 1 2 3 5 7
Budos Band: III (Daptone) - Staten Island deep-funk ensemble The Budos Band are poised to strike with their 3rd release. The funky core of guitar, bass and drums come to life with three-part horns, psychedelic organ and earthy percussion. Shadowed intrigue, exotic adventure and thrilling engagements unfurl within the instrumental, soundtrack-like sonic adventure. Recommended. Dig 1 2 3 6 9 10 11
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Mahjongg: The Long Shadow of the Paper Tiger (K) - Mahjongg is not your typical k artist. Sans founding guitarist Jeff Carillo, Mahjongg hone their "Chicagotronics" for the dancefloor. It's a fusion of 8-bit, industrial, Afro-beat, drum-n-bass drum and more. Robotic and earthy elements ebb and flow within the layers of keys, guitars, polyrhythmic grooves, exuberant yelps and vocoder vocals. Dynamic and euphoric – the Paper Tiger is far from tame. Recommended. RIYL: !!!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Catalyst: The Complete Recordings Vol 1 and Vol 2 (Porter) - Catalyst were a Philadelphia four-man jazz combo which spawned a creative fusion of avant-garde, contemporary bop, soul and funk. Formed in the early 70s members included Eddie Green (keyboards, vocals), Sherman Ferguson (drums, percussion, marimba), Odean Pope (sax, flute, oboe), and Al Johnson / Tyron Brown (bass). In all, they released four albums for Cobblestone and its successor Muse before disbanding in 1976. Each album had its own vibe. Available for the first time this century thanks to Porter Records – and they really come to life in the warmth of the analog format. Highly Recommended.
Wavves: King of the Beach (Fat Possum) - Nathan Williams' Wavves brings together surf-punk and 60s sunshine soul on his most put-together album. The bright production from Dennis Herring gives his works much needed depth. "King of the Beach" is a rather ironic title considering his downbeat loner persona. Baked guitar punk, layered percussion, primitive electronic and hazy noise are hallmarks. Recommended.
The Books: The Way Out (Temporary Residence Limited) - New York sound collage duo The Books sculpt leftfield pop by meticulously assembling layers of sampled sounds and speech with minimalistic electronic and organic instrumentation. Gently ebbing moods drift from avant-garde, to chamber, glitch-hop, progressive and beyond – toward the infinite everything. Recommended.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Soundtrack: Babylon Central (ESL Music) - Thievery Corporation's Eric Hilton makes his directorial debut in the DVD film "Babylon Central", which is packaged with the soundtrack CD. The score centers on dub reggae, as an easy, Thievery style flow connects classic sides with contemporary works. The well-chosen songs are ripe with drama and action. In all, it’s a recommended listen even without the film.
Fol Chen: Part II: The New December (Asthmatic Kitty) - Fol Chen's sophomore offering furthers their mysterious experimental pop. Dreamy co-ed vocal weave their way through a dense tapestry of rock, folk, avant-jazz, Balkan, middle-eastern, southwestern, R&B, psych and more which twists mainstream pop sensibilities. There's an incredible amount of ideas in the mix, yet the distillation is savory, refreshing and never tiresome. Nearly Highly Recommended.
The Love Language: Libraries (Merge) – The sophomore offering from
based indie-pop project The Love Language revel in the themes of summer, as shimmering harmonies, reverbed guitar, swooning keys, pedal steel and strings bake into glistening indie pop. The glowing in the air welcomes the Blue Angel. Will you ever learn to swim? Recommended. Raleigh
Deru: Say Goodbye To Useless (Mush) -
electronic music producer Deru (aka Benjamin Wynn) marries cinematic compositions and big beats for a digestible yet immensely complex sonic score. Micro sliced beats are manipulated into blips, chirps and snaps to form the throbbing backbone, as ethereal strings, woodwinds, textural electronics and bells add body to the works. Left-field hip-hop and IDM fans will rejoice in this compelling album. Nearly Highly Recommended.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Various Artists: Been Here All My Days (Selections from the George Mitchell Archive) (Mississippi )
Various Artists: Been Here All My Days (Selections from the George Mitchell Archive) (
Mississippi ) – presents a vinyl only collection of highlights from a series of Fat Possum 45s recorded during 60s and 70s by George Mitchell. Well known and obscure artists deliver down home blues, mostly of the acoustic variety. Highly Recommended. Mississippi
Calibro 35: Ritornano Quelli Di... (Nublu) – Calibro 35 director Tommaso Colliva taps into the vibe of 60s and 70s Italian soundtracks for this grooving contemporary album which ebbs from smoking to sinister. Cool studio effects color the live instrumentation, as the free-flowing mix of jazz, funk, rock, classical and improvisation sets the cinema ablaze. Recommended.
Perfume Genius: Learning (Matador) - Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, spins poignant, personal tales where disturbing details are softly delivered. Cushioned by reverberating piano, textural synth and brooding organ, the aural sent lingers with ethereal, hymnal airs. RIYL:
and the Johnsons, Xiu Xiu Nearly Recommended.