Crowhurst: Crowhurst And Montage tape (Trashfuck Records, 2014)

August 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Crowhurst: Crowhurst And Montage tape

Crowhurst: Crowhurst And Montage tape

A far cry from Crowhurst’s usual noise/black-metal, this is more wacked-out, Butthole Surfers-inspired weirdo experimental rock. The first track “No Dollar Menu Items After Midnight” has spoken lyrics taken from a Yelp review of McDonald’s, and it sounds like a lost King Missile song. Fucking amazing. After that, there’s lots of backwards effects, screwed-up instructions on how to operate a compact disc, a buried reggae sample, and a bonus cover of “Sweet Leaf”, which sounds appropriately blown-out and wasted. Available for free download on Bandcamp.

Richard Carr: Music For Four Electric Violins (self-released, 2014)

August 17, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Richard Carr: Music For Four Electric Violins

Richard Carr: Music For Four Electric Violins

Multi-layered, reverb/delay-utilizing compositions for modified violins. The first track reminds me of Jon Hassell, so that immediately piques my interest. Other tracks have kind of a rolling, minimalist rhythm to them, bringing to mind Steve Reich at some moments, and Dustin Wong at others. The middle of the album has calmer, more introspective pieces, but then there’s other pieces that are more effects-driven, creating multiple layers of movement using distortion and panning. Relaxing but still challenging and creative music.

v/a: Life Blood tape (Life Like, 2014)

August 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Life Blood tape

v/a: Life Blood tape

Life Like released its first compilation Lifers 2 years ago, and now its sequel is finally here. This one is a little shorter and less experimental, a bit more pop-focused, but still in an abstract way. It starts with a brief instrumental jam by the prolific Hydropark (which is already up to 4 tapes, all untitled), and then new songs from Ian Svenonius’ Chain & The Gang, E6-y indie-pop group Household Objects, and of course Saturday Looks Good To Me. Then there’s a few great tracks by some new names: really nice atmospheric electro-pop by Creme Betweens; dubby, High Places-like dreaminess from Babydown; dark, reverby folk from Itasca. Then there’s a brief, devastating track by dream-folk duo Raw Honey, who deserve to be much more well known. Then there’s a brief sample-and-beat blip by someone credited as Loop Goat, and then a more rocking track by Glass Clue, who I initially confused with Glass Rock and was wondering why it sounded more grungy and had a male singer. Then more cello-and-guitar dreaming from Known Moons (who is 1/2 of Raw Honey), and hard-jamming organ-driven noise-psych-rock from Mother Whale which suddenly cuts off mid-thought. Side B starts off with a brief, twinkly loop from Shigeto (who has a tape coming out on Life Like one of these days), and then a strummy song fro, Rebel Kind, who put out a 1-sided LP on Life Like last year. Then there’s an edited-for-immediate-direct-impact track from Scared To Death, a doom-metal/post-rock group who are sort of one of the secret weapons of the Ann Arbor music scene. Their album on Arbco is seriously amazing and deserves to be more widely known. Then there’s Wolf Eyes, who need no introduction, and some noisy free-rock from Anonymous Touch, and then local garage-rock heroes Tyvek end the tape. Limited to 100 copies and still available direct from Life Like.

Zeek Sheck: JOINUS 2xLP (Resipiscent Records, 2014)

August 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Zeek Sheck: JOINUS 2xLP

Zeek Sheck: JOINUS 2xLP

First album in over a decade from lo-fi experimental pop artist Zeek Sheck. The band has a concept about a society living in a complex underground maze, with one of the members of the society sending his son to the surface to see the sun. The inner gatefold of the LP shows this maze, which feature a series of blue, red, yellow and green doors, each of which correspond to a side of the double LP. The first disc (blue and red doors) focuses on shorter, poppier songs, although in Zeek Sheck’s world, poppy tends to mean repeated mantras like “join us” or “I am nothing”, over a basic, hypnotic lo-fi beat and flurries of noises. There’s also some spoken word narratives tying this together. The main singer has sort of a scratchy Daniel Johnston quality to her voice, but the songwriting and instrumentation and basically everything else is totally different. “Magnet” has a bit more of a folky melody than other songs here, but the music is a thudding drum machine beat with lots of crazy backward violin. It seems as if the society is doomed, however; the last song on the disc is called “Trapped” and it ends suddenly after a brief chant of “we are all going to die”, and the group’s website lists this as the project’s last album. But before it ends, there’s the album’s second disc (yellow and green doors), which features two longform compositions which take up the entirety of each side. “Notch Your Stick” (the Yellow Door side) starts with wordless vocals and bomb-shelter noise, later going through deep foghorns and ending with a long passage of intertwining clarinets and horns. “The Mind Will Travel” (the Green Door side) is bookended by more spoken-word narration, along with noise, spiralling synth patterns, and finally cascading pianos, before the epic conclusion to the story.

Opal Onyx: Delta Sands (Tin Angel Records, 2014)

August 16, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Opal Onyx: Delta Sands

Opal Onyx: Delta Sands

Dark, murky, dreamy bad-trip music. Think Portishead meets early Zola Jesus and Circuit Des Yeux, and maybe Chelsea Wolfe too. Opener “Black and Crimson” is definitely the more trip-hoppy track, it seems to skip like an old record and then fall into quicksand. “Personal” is much more melodic and uplifting, with clear, chiming acoustic guitar sounds. “Evaun” is more gauzy and ethereal, with layers of echoed vocals, but also a persistent pounding rhythm. “Iron Age” is strange and floating, but there’s a faint, fastly beating 4/4 beat buried underneath which seems to get faster before it dissipates. “Desperate” has a hypnotic groove (if just a spare, repetitive bassline built on a note or two can be considered a groove) and is hypnotic enough to remind me of Swans’ softer material. Come to think of it, Jarboe and recent Swans associates St. Vincent and Cold Specks come to mind while listening to this album too. “The Devil” is another dark dirge with chain-gang-like rhythm and strings. “Arrows Wing” is more of a bluesy dark folk song, and “Bright Bad Canyons” is the album’s sparest and most acoustic song. “Delta Sands” has synths that shift like the song’s title, and eventually a softly pulsating electronic beat.

Crush Collision 8/14/14

August 15, 2014 at 9:28 am | Posted in Crush Collision | Leave a comment

Hour 1
10:04 PM Lone ~ Restless City
10:09 PM Biblo ~ Fields Of Flutter
10:13 PM Brett Cimbalik ~ Goldenrod
10:17 PM Claire ~ Red Between Green
10:23 PM Esteban Adame ~ Another Day
10:27 PM EDMX ~ Wicked Drummer
10:32 PM Moiré ~ No Gravity
10:36 PM Plastikman ~ EXpand
10:41 PM The Magnecian ~ Your Suffering Is Mine
10:45 PM DJ 3000 ~ Funkin Rhythm (Stone Owl Remix)
10:50 PM Robin Ball ~ Atlas
10:57 PM Dave Tarrida ~ Time Equalizing
Hour 2
11:01 PM Synthek & Audiolouis ~ Unwise
11:05 PM Burial ~ Shell Of Light
11:08 PM Ikonika ~ Wakeup Sequence
11:11 PM Martyn ~ Drones
11:16 PM Teste ~ The Wipe (Edit Select 2014 Edit)
11:23 PM Oscar Mulero ~ Epley Manoeuvre
11:27 PM Surgeon ~ Fixed Action Pattern
11:32 PM NX1 ~ PR2
11:37 PM Raiz ~ Transcend 2
11:40 PM Subversive ~ Telomere
11:45 PM Legowelt ~ I Have A Soul
11:49 PM James Ruskin ~ Nan Nife
11:54 PM Somatic Responses ~ Ru6PeTeC
11:57 PM Illum Sphere ~ Sleeprunner (Illum Sphere Re-Run)

Dilated Peoples: Directors Of Photography (Rhymesayers, 2014)

August 13, 2014 at 10:58 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dilated Peoples: Directors Of Photography

Dilated Peoples: Directors Of Photography

I loved this group in high school, but I haven’t paid attention to them at all since their second album, which came out back in 2001. Since then, they’ve had a minor hit single with Kanye West in 2004, and released several independent solo albums. This is their first proper album as a group in 8 years, and their first independent album, since ending their major label contract. Musically, their sound hasn’t really changed since their earlier stuff, it’s simply a refinement of their style of underground hip-hop. The production is still heavily influenced by RZA and DJ Premier (who actually produces a track on here), and DJ Babu still constructs dense, clever sample collages. It’s actually somewhat refreshing to hear a new hip-hop album stay true to the culture of turntablism, even though it doesn’t seem like that long ago that it was so commonplace for hip-hop (underground or not). “Figure It Out (Melvin’s Theme)” comes somewhat close to a chopped-n-screwed sound, with a slow tempo and pitched-down chorus vocals, but there’s still some lightning-quick scratching, almost an entire verse’s worth actually. Now-mainstream pan-genre neo-soul crooner Aloe Blacc provides a chorus on “Show Me The Way”, sort of coming full circle, as he started out doing underground hip-hop and released albums on Stones Throw before crossing over. Nothing here sticks in my head as much as “Triple Optics” and “Work The Angles” did, but it’s still a solid album.

The Hobbes Fanclub: Up At Lagrange (Shelflife Records, 2014)

August 11, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment

The Hobbes Fanclub: Up At Lagrange

The Hobbes Fanclub: Up At Lagrange

I’m hoping these folks mean they’re fans of Calvin’s stuffed tiger buddy, but I’m guessing they mean the philosopher. Which means this band probably agrees that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. This album isn’t as dreary as you’d expect, though. More than anything, it recalls late ’80s/early ’90s British indie, the days after C86 but before Britpop. I’m thinking Stone Roses, and bands that were around a little before them. Also, New Zealand indie-pop bands like The Chills and The Clean, of course. Jangly, reverby, earnest/yearning, wide-eyed but still kind of drowsy, kind of anthemic. Could’ve been released on Slumberland any year since that label began. Most uptempo tracks: “Your Doubting Heart”, “I Knew You’d Understand”, “Outside Myself”, “Why Should You Tell The Truth?”. Slowest: “How Could You Leave Me Like This?”, “Sometimes”. “Stay Gold” has a bit of a surfy twang to it, but in an indie-pop context.

Gary The Squirrel: Two Sides Of The Squirrel EP 7″ (Best Show On WFMU, 2014)

August 9, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Gary The Squirrel: Two Side Of The Squirrel EP 7"

Gary The Squirrel: Two Side Of The Squirrel EP 7″

This record is a work of beauty. Tom Scharpling’s 2013 marathon premium has finally arrived (almost a year after the end of the Best Show’s run on WFMU), and it includes a record by one of his puppet alter-egos, wisecracking rodent Gary The Squirrel. The first side shows Gary’s “rock and roll side”, the leather jacket-wearing, pompadoured loverboy who playfully sings about bopping AP Mike in the nose, and sings a doo-wop love duet with Denise The Squirrel (AKA Best Show regular Coco from The Ettes). On the other side is Gary’s “punk side”, with Gary sporting a mohawk, threatening to bite you in a moshpit, covering “Minor Threat” as “Rodent Threat”, and inventing the genre “squirrelcore”. Best record ever made by a rodent, easily, and that includes every record by any incarnation of the Chipmunks, or any of their imitators.

soundtrack: Finding Fela (Knitting Factory Records, 2014)

August 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

soundtrack: Finding Fela

soundtrack: Finding Fela

Soundtrack to a new documentary about Fela Kuti. Almost all of the tracks are original Fela recordings, but there’s a couple tracks from the cast of the Fela musical, and the last track is a new recording featuring Fela’s son Femi. Not much new to say about Fela’s music, it’s as powerful and revolutionary and awesome as ever. If you’re not familiar with him yet, this is yet another decent sampling of his work, with 1 track by his early highlife group Koola Lobitos, and the bulk of the material coming from his ’70s ensembles, and a couple from Egypt 80. Even though half the tracks here are edited for time constraints, there’s still 6 tracks on here that pass the 10 minute mark (and even most of them are actually edited versions). The first disc shows off Fela’s diversity, not just focusing on the usual call-and-response Afrobeat sound, but the jazzy instrumental “Jeun Ko Ku (Chop ‘N Quench)”, the almost calypso-sounding Koola Lobitos track “Highlife Time”, slow jam “Lover”, and spoken word peace treaty “Viva Nigeria”. “Upside Down”, included here in a 6 minute edit, features vocals by former Black Panther party member Sandra Izsadore, who was one of Fela’s many lovers and helped open his eyes towards black consciousness. The last 3 tracks on disc 1 are all from live performances and contain applause, showing the energy of Fela’s live performances. I wish they’d included an original version of “Zombie” instead of the version by the Fela musical band, which is only 4 minutes long here, but the original’s been anthologized before. Now when’s the documentary playing in Detroit?

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