Monday, November 29, 2004

what would GYBE do?

A few years ago I went to Iceland and bought a bunch of CDs. Some of them I discussed in a previous post (go see the archives), here is another. I think I bought it there, that is. Maybe another friend brought it back for me from a tour stop there. Either, way it doesn't matter because damn it's good. Stafrænn Hákon is gorgeous angelic instrumental music from the land of ice and volcanoes. RIYL Godspeed, Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky, etc. The first track is taken from his 2001 release, "í ástandi rjúpunnar". After Stafrænn moved to Edinburgh in the end of the summer 2002 he started sending demos to various labels in the UK. The records were soon picked up by Resonant and a small US label called Secret Eye. There are links to dozens of mp3s on his website and I would recommend you try them ALL out. Resonant has also just released a split 7" with Emery Reel. They share the same ambience of all of the aforementioned artists and I can personally attest that not only is their live show pure awesomeness, but that their general nature as humans is quite good (ie, they're good people!). Buy their CD debut, "For and Acted Upon Through Diversions" from First Flight Records. And crank your stereo up to 10 and play their mp3, below. Whoa.

Stafrænn Hákon - Hvíti Hákarlinn
Emery Reel - His Hammer is My Axe

Monday, November 22, 2004

if you only knew acetone

Acetone CDs have been staring at me from my desk at work for a while now, and today I decided to take the dive. After doing some research, I discovered a few surprises. Surprise #1 is that bassist/vocalist Richie Lee killed himself a few years ago. Surprise #2 is that they released an album on Vapor Records that I wasn't even aware of. (Vapor also released the latest Neil Young album, Are You Passionate?) Surprise #3 is that on this very day in 1997, November 22nd, is when I saw Acetone open up for Spiritualized at Bogart's in Cincinatti, OH. I don't remember if this was the first time that I saw Acetone, but I remember liking it- they had a warmth and glow that I couldn't really place at the time, and I also couldn't understand why they were opening for Spiritualized. Now, in hindsight, it makes a lot more sense. All I really remember is that the trio each had their own old living room style lamp on stage near them, giving the performance a comfy vibe that perfectly fits their music. Highly recommended for fans of Galaxie 500, Bedhead, Idaho, Velvet Underground, etc. They deserve much more than the tag of the other band on Vernon Yard other than Verve and Low.

Acetone - Louise
Acetone - 99

Buy lovely Acetone goodness

Friday, November 19, 2004

life before the postal service

Everyone and their emo-rock mom knows about the freaking Postal Service and their white-washed New Order Lite these days. That presence will become even greater now that they're going to be on commercials for the USPS and for sale on the post office website?! This can't be real. It has gotta be a dream. But its not. And I am not sure why I care to much. That's not true. I know exactly why.

Once upon a time, there was a great CD put out by Jimmy Tamborello (Figurine) and featuring vocals of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie). This CD was NOT The Postal Service. It is called Dntel. A few years ago the Dntel CD came out on Plug Research and it was great. Also featured were guest vocals from Mia Doi Todd, Rachel Haden (Charlie's daughter, formerly of That Dog), Meredith Figurine, and Chris Gunst (Beachwood Sparks, The Tyde). Its a really great album. And the initial meeting and pairing worked obviously so well that an entire album was made with Ben and Jimmy. I guess its not that surprising to be so generic, after all, DCFC just signed to Atlantic, too.

... the debut album of Dntel is a gorgeous, mostly ambient journey into moody, poetic electronic sounds. One imagines these ten songs would make for a delightful, if feverish, score to a kaleidoscopic dream. Though Life Is Full of Possibilities is centered on somewhat standard clicks & cuts, textured sound washes, and cut-and-paste electronic dynamics, Dntel's music contains such pristine melodies and is so effective in its stimulation of one's emotions that it makes for a refreshing, fascinating hour. It's the kind of music Kevin Shields has been threatening to unleash since the collapse of My Bloody Valentine. - AMG

Anyway, here are some of the great tracks from the album that started it all, Dntel's Life is Full of Possibilities.

Dntel - Anywhere Anyone (feat Mia Doi Todd)
Dntel - Why I'm So Unhappy (feat Rachel Haden)
Dntel - (This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan (feat Ben Gibbard)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

in the chapterhouse

Formed in Reading in 1987 by Andrew Sherriff (guitar/vocals), Stephen Patman (guitar), Simon Rowe (guitar), Jon Curtis (bass) and Ashley Bates (drums), Chapterhouse took the unusual step of rehearsing and gigging for well over a year before recording even a demotape. Initially lumped in with the British acid rock scene of the time, a mistake hardly rectified by the band's early performances supporting the rather laidback Spacemen 3. Chapterhouse eventually escaped from one genre only to find themselves thrust amongst the infamous shoegazer groups of 1991 (with Lush, Moose and Slowdive), so called because of the bands static live shows and insular music. Bassist Jon Curtis left early on to study, being replaced by Russell Barrett who also fronted his own garage band, the Bikinis. Chapterhouse eventually signed to the newly-formed Dedicated label, releasing a series of lavishly-acclaimed singles, including Pearl, which reached the UK Top 75, and which revelled in distorted melodies and attracted a healthy following, while the autumn of 1991 saw the band aiming their sights on the anticipatory American market.

Chapterhouse's debut album, Whirlpool, started with a ferocious bang that forced the listener to crank the volume more with each passing second. Propulsive drumming, swooning vocal, sun-drenched guitar- it had it all. Blood Music, released in 1993, really confused a lot of fans- it lost much of its intense wall-of-noise sheen and opted for experimenting with beats and loops. Today we have this opening track from Whirlpool and a bonus cut, Frost, that came tacked on a bonus cd of their 2nd CD, Blood Music as well as included on the excellent retrospective release, Rownderbowt. Its the kind of track that makes you go huh, why was this not on the album in the first place?! Perhaps the execs were scared of the kazoos?

Chapterhouse - Breather
Chapterhouse - Frost

Friday, November 12, 2004

harmony by the raj trio

When I first discovered the Raj Trio a few years ago its safe to say I was speechless. At the time, I was working at a newly found weekly arts publication in my town and while I do not remember exactly how it got to me, their CD changed everything for me. First of all, look at the artwork. Now look at it again, can this possibly be for real?! The liner notes are ripe with descriptions of the academic and music awards each has won over the years. The Raj Trio consists of Raj, Raj, and Veena Raj. Their ages- 15, 17 and 21 (at the time). They play what is described in the booklet as "a blend of contemporary American Pop and Dance Music with Western Classical and South Indian music." Furthermore, "the sophisticated mixture of the various instruments brings out deep feelings and emotions in the audience." The disc became an office favorite and we had to see them "live". Somehow we got on their email list and found out that they were playing at an ice-rink in Indianapolis. When we arrived, they were setting up in the corner of the rink (!) and were soon performing their electro-pop while bewildered parents and children skated in circles. If I remember correctly, the girl played electric violin and DJed (electronic decks) and one guy played keys while the other was full-time singer/frontman.

Soon after this, our publication was having a fund-raiser event at a bar and we simply HAD to bring them down to play for the masses. We wanted to introduce everyone else to this phenomena that we had discovered. We had a power-packed line-up, complete with Küntwerk, our all-female Kraftwerk type band. Raj Trio were set to go on early. Their mother didn't like them being at a bar, or playing super-late at night, it seemed? Luckily, they brought the thunder, complete with Britney-like head-microphones. Everyone in attendence was thourghly confused. Sure, its kinda cheezy, but its fun, too. And damn if the kids didn't put their whole hearts into their performance. We did our part to bring them to the masses, unfortunately, it seems like they haven't caught on yet. In all my internet digging, I could only find a couple of references...


Enjoy! (Even their phone number (Sharpied on my CD) has numbers that spell Raj- NO JOKE!)

Raj Trio - Harmony

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

gary wilson really knows me

One of the great underground cult albums of all time, Gary Wilson's 1977 LP, You Think You Really Know Me, has the same legacy as the likes of the Shaggs and William Shatner records, except Gary's record is really freaking good. Its easy to have heard about, but until its reissue you had to count on dubs from friends and friends of friends. Mine is a CDR with the song titles scrawled onto a piece of folded newspaper. I could paste paragraphs upon paragraphs of further information here. He has been name-checked by Beck (Where It's At), Simpsons creator Matt Goening and has been further resurrected by Peanut Butter Wolf and his label, Stone's Throw, for a new album. He hung out and talked music with John Cage at the age of 14. ?uestlove of the Roots describes it as such in GQ: If the offspring of Elvis Costello were hired to make some '70s funk-porn music but ran into a bunch of CBGB punks doing an impersonation of new wave...

The brain-damaged electro-funk of Gary Wilson was new wave when the label was still mainly used to categorize punk acts with a sweet tooth for pop. Completely ahead of his time, Wilson used chilly synthesizers and bizarre sound effects and samples to tell his odd tales of love and sex. In 1977, Wilson recorded his debut LP You Think You Really Know Me in the basement of his parents' house in Endicott, NY. Home tapings started becoming prevalent in the '90s, but in the late '70s, Wilson was an indie pioneer, releasing a strange lo-fi record that eventually influenced Beck. Moreover, the LP inspired Olympia, WA, college radio station KAOS to spin underground artists, helping to cultivate a taste for non-commercial music that later gave birth to K Records and Sub Pop. Legendary Seattle DJ Stephen Rabow even presented one of Wilson's gigs in the early '80s. - AMG

Gary Wilson - 6.4 = Make Out
Gary Wilson - Chromium Bitch

This is too weird not to buy, right?

Monday, November 08, 2004


I am a fool and missed my chance to see these gentlemen in Chicago just recently...

Norwegian death-free jazz-electronic band Supersilent began as an impromptu jam at the 1997 Bergen Jazz Festival between master trumpeter Arve Henriksen, tape experimenter Helge Sten (who also goes as Deathprod for solo material), Jarle Vespestad on drums, and Stale Storløkken on keyboards. The group decided to continue to play together in Helge Sten's studio and recorded endless hours of tape, eventually spliced into 1998's 1-3, a three-CD collection of wild, percussive free jazz with flourishes of Aphex Twin-like electronics. Integral to the band from this time on was their desire to only exist as a performing group -- they never "write" songs, practice, and barely even speak to one another outside of gigs. This release, like all others, is without overdubs and with minimal production. features a vivacity, excitement, and sense of danger unheard of. In the course of these long improvisations the group moves through countless moods, drawing from ecstatic jazz, avant rock, noise, and electro-acoustics to produce captivating music that pushes far into experimentation and yet remains immediate, even at times accessible. Henriksen's finely chiseled lines evoke Miles Davis' fusion period, while Sten's electronics occasionally bring to mind Merzbow's harsh constructions. In between, listeners get the full avant jam treatment without the psychedelic leanings of Jackie-O Motherfucker or the No-Neck Blues Band -- and something in the cold warmth of the music (yes, an oxymoron)- AMG

All of the releases have the most minimal artwork (albeit luxurious paper quality) as well as no named songs.


Supersilent 1-2

Friday, November 05, 2004

rockin funky watergate

I'm still a little in shock and awe over the election. And I am not sure if it was the election or the booze because of it, but I've developed a nasty funk of sickness. So what better to combat the oncoming winter funk than with the mildly political funk? This will not turn into a political blog, there are plenty of those. There are plenty of mp3 blogs, too. And I am still more of a music lover than a politics lover. So enjoy, and hopefully I will recuperate and build on this thing we have here...

The J.B.'s recorded under various billings in the early '70s, including the J.B.'s, Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s, Maceo & the Macks, the First Family, the Last Word, and others. This double CD gathers 30 of the prime tracks by all of the above configurations from the first half of the '70s, including all nine of their chart hits and quite a few rare singles and long versions. Often, James Brown himself chips in with incidental vocals (though this is mostly instrumental) and keyboards. The two-and-a-half-hour program can start to sound monotonous if taken all at once, but it's prime, often riveting funk, jammed with lockstep grooves that vary between basic R&B vamps and imaginative, almost jazzy improvisation.

The J.B.'s - Rockin' Funky Watergate
The J.B.'s - I'm Payin Taxes, What Am I Buyin'