Friday, March 31, 2006

argyle cardigan

When you open your album with a drum solo, the listener knows they are in for some fun. And Flin Flon have been having fun for a number of years now, releasing their long-awaited third album this year on Teenbeat.

Flin Flon started in 1997 with Teenbeat honcho Mark Robinson, whose name should be synonymous by now with smart, well-crafted American pop music. He has been releasing it since the mid-80s on his label under the names Unrest, Grenadine, Air Miami and beyond. Flin Flon's trio is filled out by True Love Always' Matt Datesman on drums and ex-Cold Cold Hearts bassist Nattles. Their new album, Dixie, has absolutely no southern feel to it whatsoever. It is precise Factory Records worship with Robinson's in your ear vocals and a locked-in rhythm secion.

The vinyl version of the new album will be released soon, with exclusive remixed versions, just as previously they did for their preceeding record, Boo Boo. Fill the dance floor.

Flin Flon - Cardigan

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Never get tired of watching/hearing Einar Örn riff fluxus-like across the The Sugarcubes pop moments or Bjork obviously singing at an opposite spectrum. Seems odd to say, but a 1988 live video of the group was a crucial point in the ol' upbringing. Einar's grunt trumpet style and constant mash mouth observations seemed otherworldy.

Watching the 12 videos on The Sugarcubes' no-frills collection The DVD reminded me how uncomfortable they all seemed to be acting like a pop band -- which is what everyone wanted of them, probably, except them. From memory, it seemed hard to take anything past their '88 debut Life Is Good, let alone the videos that went along with "Planet" or "Eat the Menu." Though now, each video seems planted with some darkly hued Icelandic humor at the expense of everyone else, Americans and Brits, mostly. The absurdity of most shots -- the clothes, giant props, like in "Hit," feels like the group knew things weren't going to last forever. Óskar Jónasson's low-budget "Motorcrash" will always be a favorite, with the group watching the Reykjavik car wreck, staggering around with amnesia and Magga Ornolfsdottir looking totally dazed.

The one-off joint between Jesus & Mary Chain and Bjork would've made a great vid-single as a 'remix' for "Birthday," as it was a 7" B-side in '89. The Reid's Psycocandy-era videos shoulda been the direction 'Cubes went for....

The Sugarcubes with The Jesus & Mary Chain - Christmas Eve

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

back from the tomb

While I was stumbling around Boomkat yesterday my eyes nearly popped out of their head when I saw that Egyptian Lover had a new album. I am always a little skeptical when new albums come out from older performers, especially when they take a ten year break in between. But this has really caught my ear.

Los Angeles-based producer Greg Broussard was the man behind pioneering hip-hop/electro fusion artist the Egyptian Lover. Comparable in influence to Soul Sonic Force's "Planet Rock", Man Parrish's "Hip-Hop Be Bop (Don't Stop)" and Pretty Tony's "Jam theBox", Egyptian Lover singles such as "Egypt, Egypt", "My Beat Goes Boom", "Dance" and "What is a DJ If He Can't Scratch?" combined the abstract electronics of Kraftwerk and the Art of Noise with the emerging beat-heavy sound of electro and the vocal approach of rap. - Global Darkness

The sound is not at all far away from his songs from 20 years ago. Strong, hard 808s, vocoders and a darker feel with sexy whispered vocals that make Ying Yang Twins sound like they need some Viagra to keep up with the grown-ups. Coming to you from Egyptian Empire Records.

the Egyptian Lover - Party
the Egyptian Lover - Sintropolis

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

porest truth

Four years ago, I might've turned the shades a few notches and lowered the volume on Tourrorists instead of now wanting to slip it in the CD-juke at the local VFW. 'Cause even that cast is gonna laugh it up like this is Bob n' Tom AM or Sinatra. Scaly eyes are now open and from Sun City Girls' orbit of global truth-in-voodoo, comes the new Porest missive. Out on SCG's Abduction, Tourrorists is like the final exam, or post-study party, for those who've been mind banging on the Sublime Frequencies audio passports and Fox News. For those with keen sense, Mark Gergis (aka Porest) assembled SF's I Remember Syria and Choubi Choubi! Folk and Pop Sounds from Iraq. Prior to that he was in collage/cut-ups Mono Pause.

All the administration, flag-wavin', nation saving ideas that've been pumped across that states are crinkle like oven-baked cellophane. Gergis stitches field-recordings with skits, computer-voiced Jihad proclamations and a disruptive yet solidifying pop element. He'd could've just flipped that satellite TV dial like Russian roulette and recorded the chance-happenings, but opted for some right-on, subtle movements and juxtapose. Let's Roll!

Let's Roll
Pentagonal Parlor

Monday, March 27, 2006

stay bruised, stay forever beautiful

We're incredibly sad to report that our friend NIKKI SUDDEN passed away Sunday, March 26, age 49, in New York City after performing the prior night at the Knitting Factory. He wrote hundreds of songs and made over 20 albums as a solo artist and with his bands SWELL MAPS, THE JACOBITES, THE LAST BANDITS and his band with ROWLAND S. HOWARD, among others. He was an inspiration to watch at work, working ceaselessly as a musician, writer and actor. Just prior to heading out for this last US tour, he completed his latest album "The Truth Doesn't Matter" and was putting the finishing touches on his autobiography.

It was a great honor to work with such a legendary figure, and his warmth and generosity of spirit will not be forgotten. He was a good man in endless pursuit of his artistic dreams. We extend our deepest sympathies to his friends and family, and rest easily knowing that he has joined his brother Epic Soundtracks, who passed away in 1997. We're seeking solace in Nikki's timeless records and we feel blessed to have known Nikki and to have his voice sing on. - Secretly Canadian

The one time I saw Nikki play, at the Cellar Lounge in Bloomington, it was a flashback to yesteryear. Scarves and paisley silk and leather boots. A true showman and character, I feel lucky to have experienced it. Enjoy over a dozen songs over at SC and at his official website. Read fan comments on his Myspace profile. NY Times obit.

Friday, March 24, 2006

the exchange session

In early 2005 two guys from two generations and two different scenes came together and something magic happened. I would never expect a duo between a drummer and laptop to be so spiritual, but it is. Three long improvisations captured live in studio, uncut, one-take, start to finish. The document is in two parts, with Exchange Session - Volume 1 out now via the always tasty Domino.

Steve Reid is well heard but unknown by name. You've heard his drumming on everything from James Brown's Popcorn to Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas to Fela Kuti's Africa One to a long stint in the Sun Ra Arkestra and Miles Davis. His style is heavily influenced by African rhythms and modal harmonics of twelve tone explorations of John Coltrane. Kieran is better known under his current electronic moniker, Four Tet or previously with Fridge. Now together, they have a strikingly fresh sound that is equal parts Nonesuch Explorer and Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, all the while remaining modern and both jazzy and electronic at the same time. A tall order indeed. Volume 2 comes out later this year. Also be sure to check out the Steve Reid Ensemble's Spirit Walk which also features Kieren with a larger group and just as breathtaking results.

Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid - Morning Prayer

Thursday, March 23, 2006

sniper at the gates of heaven

the Black Angels conjure up the same ghost that many bands have, they're one of those thousands of bands influenced by the Velvet Underground (even named after their Black Angel's Death Song), or perhaps even moreso by the followers of the VU like Spacemen 3. Big hollow guitars, reverbed into the cosmos, organ droning on and on and on. Hit the distortion, lift off, starry eyed and stoned.

Seattle's Light in the Attic label, who is more well known for their amazing reissues of the Free Design, Last Poets, Deep Throat OST and more is moving into the modern band realm with this and the hip hop duo Blue Scholars.

The Black Angels' debut album Passover comes out on April 11th on CD & deluxe gatefold double-vinyl. And they bleed their Texas roots... with love for the 13th Floor Elevators, Bubble Puppy, and beyond. Dim the lights, light it up and zone out.

the Black Angels - Black Grease
the Black Angels - Bloodhounds on My Trail

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

bass is the place

First time I saw Mike Bullock in dee flesh, there were about 9 of us crouching in a dripping-walled record store. There was a storage room in back where Bullock was getting ready, we thought, but he started to rattle his wooden haul behind the door. After a few minutes he spring out, poised the bass and struck and bent the strings into even/odd coaxing and banishing. There were implosions, lighting and mauled moans from the belly. Possibly his performance was a few hairs on either side of 8 minutes -- or so it seems years later.

At that time, Bullock had already issued Object (Tautology), a large-group recording under the name Fetish and a ghastly, meaty jewel which you oughta seek out; and The Idea of Northeast, a split LP with Howard Stelzer & Jason Talbot. As a "solo bass" recording Bullock broke it down to iced-feedback tones and starting mapping his way to Initial, a beautiful bastard of performance and his second solo CD. A constant favorite of mine, the recording is split between the bass and crowd noise bleeding Bullock until he nearly vanishes as musician/bassist, only to strike back. You'll find it to be a stunner, if you got patience, class and balls enough to take it on.

So anywhere, Mike is now offering his recent 3" CDR This Will Cheer You Up, orig. on Kissy Records, as a "reissue download" on his Chloe imprint -- what the hell does that really mean? It is free and a nice 101 to those without the 411 on out pal.

Here is the run down: Released last year on the Kissy Records imprint as a 3" CD-R. This will cheer you up finds its origins in live recordings made as part of a solos tour with trumpeter Greg Kelley. The venerable institution of the improvised bass solo gets pulled to pieces and rebuilt after being submerged in clouds. Jumps instantly between fragility and ferocity. Download it all here (with artwork and more) or dip in below...

Mike Bullock - Columbus Cheer

Sunday, March 19, 2006

black satin amazon fire engine cry baby

Found this CD reissue the other day at a local music store and dropped it into the system to check it out over the loudspeakers. While it was totally badass, I quickly felt like I got caught listening to Richard Pryor in church as Kain was dropping F-Bombs all over the place. Heads definitely turned.

One of the rawest, hardest-hitting albums of soul poetry of the 70s! Kain -- aka Gylan Kain -- was a member of the original Last Poets, a group who emerged in New York during the late 60s, but were eclipsed by the second (more famous) ensemble sharing the name who recorded for Douglas Records. Kain's anger and passion is incredible -- far stronger than anything you'd hear on any of the better-known Last Poets records of the early 70s -- and this solo record is completely over the top, both politically and performance-wise. The record has a hard hard hard sound -- with over-the-top spoken bits that almost make the other Last Poets seem like they're kind of mellow. Cuts include "Silly Shit", "Harlem Preacher", "I Ain't Black", and "Constipated Monkey". Juggy Murray produced -- and the album's a wild wild trip! - Dusty Groove

Gylan has the kind of natural flow that most MCs would kill for. Silky smooth delivery over a smoky hashish fog from the red-lit underground speakeasy. Recently, Kain has been performing with Electric Barbarian. At a recent show he "came out into the audience and recited in the face of an audience member who was moved to get up and leave, but not before Kain followed the poor man up the aisle. "Kicking Mickey Mouse in his house". Left End of the Dial has more to say.

This man makes the Last Poets he left behind sound like schoolboys trying to sound pissed off. Kain would make Gil Scott-Heron run away for fear of being exposed as the effete he became before he turned into an out-and-out drug addict. There aren't any other records like this; this is the sound of the apocalypse...

Kain - Harlem Preacher

Friday, March 17, 2006

on the crozz

In the past month Inzane Podcast has been filling out my speakers at the homestead. Headed up by the Dead Machines themselves, Tovah O'Rourke and John Olson, it brings back those ear-to-the-radio late nights of early teen years listening to Sunday night's Gridlox on WOXY Oxford, Ohio. First episode has the two hitting a bottle of wine and running through a pile of private press Christian LPs they've been hoarding and a few picked up after breakfast and before this was taped. They spin songs by the likes of Rebirth (a 1970 recording from the Virgina group called "Into the Light"). Olson calls the IHS Band "pretty crude, junk style, Christian stoner type" music, and their track "Answer" (on Big Willie Music, Beaverton, MI) does seem steeped in the sunshine of Virgin Insanity or even the VU. Nice. Also here is The Shades of 70s ("totally echo hell"). Though I most dug the two Linda Rich tracks, "Sunlight Shadow" and "Fangs." The later having the great line, kids taking LSD to find reality, they never find, never find, nevermid. Broadcast ends with Las Vegas, NM's Guitar Ensemble, with is 12 members?!? Who the hell knows. Nice way to spend 27 minutes and ponder the great white light. The Manson Jams could've passed for some of these groops and vice-a-versa. Other 'casts are up, such as jaunts into the loner folk vibe or Olson and Aaron Dilloway playing synth records.

Inzane Podcast - Xtian Private Viny

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

singing with ghosts

Sometimes you just meet the nicest people. And the other day was like that- two bands from opposite sides of the continent (Vancouver and Boston) came together in the middle to play a cozy in-store in my dead college town on the monday of spring break.

Ok, Tiger Saw aren't from Boston exactly but near enough that its the geographic landmark to be based upon. Newburyport Mass re-pruh-zent. Dylan Metrano has been the one constant in the band for years. Sometimes it is just he strolling through the audience singing with acoustic guitar in hand. Other times the group expands to as many as a dozen performers. For this touring version, they were guitar, bass, drums and a rotating guitar / accordion / flute player. Their songs and spirit were truly gentle and kind. Before they began they encouraged the crowd to take out their ear plugs, have a seat and get cozy. This campfire vibe is intentional and works well for them and grew out of a previous tour.

The tour, which crossed the United States and Great Britain, found the band performing at a myriad of unorthodox venues, from suburban basements and theaters to beaches, forests, and bonfires. These intimate settings led to impromptu singalongs with the audience, and night after night of unforgettable communal experiences.

By the end of the set, everyone was all smiles from their pure genuine-ness and charm. Sonically, one might file them near to Low or Yo La Tengo. Kimchee Records released their latest CD and catch them on tour now with the wonderful art and folk songs of Dan Blakeslee.

Tigersaw - Love Will Kill
Tigersaw - Are You Courageous

Monday, March 13, 2006

the midnight year

this is the first post from our hopeful new crony, chris. show him some love.

Does the most potent release of 2005 keep its cool as the dawn of '06 sheds light on my record-strewn bedroom window? Indeed. I'd say Hudson Bell's "When the Sun Is the Moon" (Monitor Records) is only growing in potency as I hear it in more and different locales, taking it beyond my office boombox, out of my home stereo, and bigger than my Ipod universe. I reckon my favorite surprise encounter yet with this record was last week in the warehouse at my workplace. On a particularly stressful day, on my way to the Coke machine, preoccupied with carving out a little personal space so that I could get some much needed work done, I stumble upon the album as it filled the 8000-square foot aluminum room, just as its pinnacle track "Strange Lands" was starting to build. Wow. It was one of those magical moments when you realize that a song is only growing richer as you're hearing it for the 50th time. (For me, to maintain interest in a song after a dozen listens is a rarity, and this fella is turning on me like the Misfits or Dwight Yoakam.)

San Francisco -based, yet Southern bred, Hudson Bell occupies a musical world I've loved well - most immediately reminiscent of early '90s electric guitar-based indie rock, delivered with a poetic slacker's delivery a la Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, Screaming Trees and Teenage Fanclub. Like those bands, Hudson Bell makes his electric guitar heave with distorted bliss, while he sings plaintively along with it of getting stoned on a rooftop with friends and wondering where to go next with his life (as though he has a choice). There's a wonderful androgyny as the masculine guitar and the almost feminine voice form a unified whole. And it feels so fresh to rummage through this world again. Could this be the '90s resurgence begun? I don't want to make too much of the timeliness of this record, as it feels like one of those genuinely timeless ones.

Hudson Bell - Atlantis Nights
Hudson Bell - Slow Burn

Saturday, March 11, 2006

who wears gloves?

Julie Mittens is my favorite brain-bake, power surge band right now, at least for the rest of summer -- and the months have not even begun to sweat yet. Though it is 80 here in the Carolinas... Didn't know much about Mittens until hearing this new live document Recorded June 20 2005, their third self-released CD-R since 2002, and I've since been knocked down. Guitarist Apart-Jan Schakenbos, bassist Michel van Dam and drummer Leo Fabriek seem to be a burnt lightening aura coming from the combo-axis of Coltrane's fire and Fushitsusha's blatant fullness.

From what I wrote at Dusted:

Over six unnamed pieces Schakenbos alternates between jagged, sprawled out swaths of comet-tailed feedback and dissonant, yet sparsely articulate blues notes. While his tone cuts through Fabriek and van Dam’s syncopated rhythm/nonrhythm duality, his axe is not perched in the lead role. All three are prominent, core pieces to the vision, like the fist-pumping free jazz of Last Exit or Poly Breath Percussion Band. What take Julie Mittens even further out is their adaptation of the levitation, bliss qualities of Blue Humans or Dead C. Throughout the set, van Dam’s bass tugs at the ear to give full attention to his weave and bob low-end. On the third piece, he grooves relentlessly, almost in mode of Jimmy Garrison’s intro to “Crescent” from Coltrane’s Live in Japan, without care to the skree bubbling around him. It is an exhilarating center to the outer sheath of shattering feedback and drum rolls.

Julie Mittens - Untitled Pt. 4

Thursday, March 02, 2006

birds of a feather

Been sitting on the Feathers s/t LP for quite some time. Was a little hesitant at first but within a few dozen rotations, all was right. You can't go wrong with the Vermont tree folk. While not as out as MV or the Foole, Feathers craft a sound I plan to keep following. Here is a chunk of a review I wrote for this week's Dusted:

While the English folk tradition is surely at the root of Feathers they’ve only directly nurtured their fascination in the poetics, like the opener “Old Black Hat With A Dandelion Flower,” which begins ”Old black hat with a dandelion flower / White old rat raling seeds in my garden / Skin soaked in diamonds, necklaces of lemon,” sounding much like the String Band’s Robin Williamson. Onward from there, the group creates a lofting, camp-fire jamboree far from the castle gates of mere homage. There is no reedy, Shirley Collins vocal hanging atop or ringing steel of a Davy Graham guitar. Instead, they gently deliver a complex, almost robust, interplay of harpsichord, dulcimer, violin, acoustic guitars, bird calls and ascending mountain choirs. With such a laundry list of instruments, the risk of saturation is high, but each songwriter (all members compose) precisely places the instruments in its own role, whether lead or background accent, never clouding another yet seeming like a continuous, effortless flow.

Feathers - To Earth His Own