Jib Kidder: New Works For Realistic Mixer (Care Of Editions, 2016) + Pay 2 Play (Lamb Life, 2017)

June 18, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jib Kidder: New Works For Realistic Mixer

Following his poppiest album (2015’s Teaspoon To The Ocean), former WCBN DJ Jib Kidder released possibly his most experimental album. Instead of dense sample collages or trippy pop songs, this one was made entirely with a mixer and a drum machine. The cryptic, nonsensical track titles point to this being his IDM album, and the songs are a bit glitchy and noisy, filled with jagged, piercing tones and dripping beats. Lots of rusty, metallic feedback twisted into strange shapes. In a weird way, this was more accessible than I expected, but it’s not exactly melodic and the beats are far too abstract to dance to. Somehow the album’s weirdest moment is when a sample of a baby’s voice swoops in during the second to last track. It seems to be a perfect example of the humanity of this album, even though it appears cold and robotic.

Jib Kidder: Pay 2 Play

Pay 2 Play is entirely different, and a return to sample-based psych-pop. This contains some of his most bizarre, densely piled-on sample collage work yet, along with sly, strange songwriting. The album comes with a thick booklet containing stories and surrealist drawings as well as the songs’ lyrics. Just in the first few songs, we hear samples of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, doomsday cult speaking-in-tongues, pan flutes, country guitar, IM notifications, etc. I think I heard the coughing from “Sweet Leaf” somewhere in there too (possibly in reference to a certain WCBN PSA?). “Field of Dreams” is an easygoing groover based on a bagpipe sample. The second half of the album seems to be devoid of samples, however, and it goes into more of a soft rock mode, but in a somewhat strange way. “Fortune Presents Gifts” is a Dead Can Dance cover, and a faithful rendition of Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl” appears later, with backup vocals during the chorus that I thought were a sample of Tori herself at first.

Shigeto: Detroit Pt II 12″ single (Portage Garage Sounds, 2017)

June 16, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Shigeto: Detroit Pt II 12″ single

Local hero Shigeto started a new label called Portage Garage Sounds with his brother Ben Saginaw (of Ritual Howls). This is its first release, which was limited to 500 copies and is already completely sold out! Shigeto’s recent tracks have been way more club-friendly than the IDM/hip-hop hybrids he’s often known for, and this is an immersion into straght-up deep house. Warm keyboards, thumping beats, echo-covered tenor sax from Marcus Elliot, as well as softly spoken vocals which come back to the word “Detroit” (as does all modern dance music). The “I-94 Mix” on the B-side is more low-key, fixating on the groove, with just a bare amount of dubbed-out sax floating over the bumping beat. There’s reportedly more from Shigeto forthcoming in this vein, possibly on a label owned by a certain WCBN DJ (no, not me!).

Graeme Miller & Steve Shill: The Moomins original soundtrack (Finders Keepers, 2016)

June 9, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Graeme Miller & Steve Shill: The Moomins original soundtrack

This is the previously unreleased soundtrack to what looks to be a very bizarre children’s television program from the early ’80s, involving a variety of felt creatures which look like hippos. The music was made in the U.K. by post-punk musicians experimenting with synthesizers and cheap instruments, and it’s as playful and creative as the program looks, but also a bit dark and sinister. The opening theme song is a nice jaunty little ocarina-driven number which will get stuck in your head, and you’ll probably be ok with that. “Travelling Theme” is a slower, dubby groove which isn’t too far from Adrian Sherwood. “Moomins Partytime” is suitably bubbly and gleeful, with more whistling melodies and lots of excited cheering. The album gets a lot darker after that, though; “Midwinter Rites” sounds like it’s some sort of evil ritual taking place in a cave filled with flesh-eating beasts (but it still sounds festive). “Comet Shadow” is five minutes of solemn skygazing. This is the type of curious retro-futuristic release which couldn’t have a better home on any other label than Finders Keepers, and it’s simply delightful.

Bext Exes: Cactus tape (Palm Tapes, 2017)

June 2, 2017 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bext Exes: Cactus tape

Best Exes is a new group consisting of Jim Cherewick (Congress, Wicker Chairs), Erin Davis (Failed Flowers, Bad Indians), Maria Nuccilli (Deadbeat Beat, Outrageous Cherry), and Linda Jordan. The songs seem gentle and easygoing, but the lyrics can be pretty bitter, as they’re often about breakups and drinking. It’s kind of tense, but it’s relaxing and easy to listen to. Even at its most raucous (“Rock ‘N’ Roll Liquor Store”), it doesn’t seem abrasive or angsty. Fred Thomas recorded this and played bass on one song, and if you’re a fan of bands he’s recorded recently such as Rebel Kind and Bonny Doon, you’ll be all over this. Listen to the whole thing at Bandcamp, and purchase a tape via Palm Tapes.

G & Doro: If I See You EP (Palm Tapes, 2017)

May 30, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

G & Doro: If I See You EP

Sweet dance-pop which sounds like it legitimately could’ve been huge circa 1991, when house had made a pretty substantial impact on mainstream pop music. Bright, slick, fresh synths and breakbeats, along with yearning, affectionate vocals from Dorothea Paas. Basically, this sounds like a bit of everything that was popular on MTV right before Nirvana and gangsta rap took over the pop music landscape. Think Soul II Soul, new jack swing, and not quite Mariah Carey but artists who were on the radio at that time but didn’t end up being megastars, like Cathy Dennis or Tara Kemp. Mind you, I’m not really crazy about any of that music, but these songs right here are quite good. “No Looking Back” is just a really sweet mix of lush synths and fluttering vocals (and bird chirps, also). “Something Real (Uncanny Mix)” has Amen breaks and pianos, but it builds a pop song over it, and it works fantastically. I feel like there’s a large amount of tape labels that have been trying to release material that’s nostalgic for this time period but haven’t really hit it out of the park like this tape does. Listen on Bandcamp, and purchase a tape directly from Palm Tapes.

Carsickness: 1979-1982 (Rave Up Records, 2015/reissued by Get Hip, 2017)

May 24, 2017 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Carsickness: 1979-1982

Excellent anthology of a Pittsburgh band called Carsickness who played a strange, arty (but not quite in a downtown New York way) sort of post-punk for a few years during the late ’70s and early ’80s. The vocals sound a lot like Mission of Burma (or occasionally a bit like Joe Strummer), and the songs sometimes have a punk attitude, but they aren’t quite as nihilistic as most of the other punk bands from that time. They don’t seem like they were safety pin/mohawk punks, but they weren’t quite skinny tie new wavers either. Also, there’s strange time signatures and arrangements, and sometimes horns or keyboards. The songs themselves are usually short, but tightly packed and complex. Some of it almost seems like weirder, angrier power-pop, and some of it is like a tighter, midwestern version of no wave, in some ways. The first song “Bill Wilkinson” immediately caught my attention; it started out and I was like “ok, power pop but slightly distorted, got it”, but then it turns out to be a song angrily addressed at the grand wizard of the KKK, featuring copious shouts of “KKK fuck you!”, and I am entirely down with that. A lot of the songs are short (some less than a minute) but packed with ideas. While most of them have somewhat skewed poppy song structures, there’s also weirder experiments like the drum solo and sax/screaming of “Hearts in Traction”. “Crazy Thing” is a frantic number incorporating synths, saxes, and honking car horns, along with manic speech and radio announcements. “For You” sounds like they’d been listening to the Psychedelic Furs, but wanted to make something slightly more upbeat. The album ends with an acoustic, string-laden version of “Bill Wilkinson” which is actually angrier and more expletive-heavy than the original. Carsickness released 2 albums and EPs and appeared on an early Sub Pop cassette compilation once, but they seem to have remained obscure. I’m a little surprised this band hasn’t received more recognition, beyond a few tracks included on Hyped To Death compilations, but that’s just how it goes. Excellent collection, excellent band. Stream right now over at Bandcamp.

Deadly Vipers: A Night of Fright tape (self-released, 2016)

May 24, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Deadly Vipers: A Night of Fright tape (self-released, 2016)

Excellent tape by an all-female garage-psych-punk quartet from Detroit. Clear, direct vocals, forceful guitars and drums, and sometimes a bit of hazy psych organ, but the songs themselves never meander, they stare you in the face and punch you in the guy. I hadn’t heard of this band at all before this tape showed up to the radio station, and now I’m wondering why I haven’t. Totally kicks ass, and I hope I get to see them soon. Listen/purchase digitally at Bandcamp.

Lazertüth: The Akami LP (House of Watts, 2016)

May 14, 2017 at 8:49 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Lazertüth: The Akami LP

Space prog from New Bedford, Massachusetts. My grandparents lived in that town, so I spent a lot of time there as a kid, and this makes me wonder where all the weirdos were hiding. Their brand of prog is a little on the heavy/stoner-y side, but might still appeal to your (Gabriel-era) Genesis-loving dad or uncle. They also mention Magma as an influence, and like that band, this one seems to sing in their own language, at least during same moments (like the end of the first side). The last few minutes of the album have some pretty epic The Wall-esque shouting.

Arthur King & the Night Sea: Palmetto LP (Dangerbird, 2017)

May 14, 2017 at 8:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Arthur King & the Night Sea: Palmetto LP

Swirling, atmospheric sorta-jazz. Definitely similar to TNT-era Tortoise, but there’s some trippy, Miles-esque trumpet playing. The trumpets sound warped and Jon Hassell-y on “Yao Ming”, but there’s way more of a groove. “Metaphor” is longer and is most active and swinging during the middle, but it drifts out into the sea after that. The tracks on the second side similarly drift between languid grooves and spacious zoning. “Nigredo” gets pretty turbulent though, it sounds like someone’s getting caught in a tornado or something. “Glenn’s Theme” sounds like it’s begging to be sampled or rapped over. “Riverhead” ends the album with the same type of swirly melty trumpet tones it starts with.

Xaõ Seffcheque: Ja, Nein, Vielleicht Kommt Sehr Gut (A Selection Of Electronic Beats 1980-82) (Bureau B, 2017)

May 7, 2017 at 12:15 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Xao Seffcheque: Ja, Nein, Vielleicht Kommt Sehr Gut (A Selection Of Electronic Beats 1980-82)

Venturing deep into the NDW underground, the great Bureau B presents this fascinating track of early ’80s tracks by notorious prankster. Xaõ Seffcheque. He released an album titled Sehr Gut Kommt Sehr Gut which contained parodies of then-contemporary bands like Der Plan and D.A.F., but their names were mentioned on the record, so the music press though it was an actual compilation. Kraftwerk were also subject of this parody, and they took legal action, so a sticker warning that the record was a parody had to be attached to the sleeve. Of course, listening to Xaõ Seffcheque’s music now, without having the greatest familiarity of all of the music he’s lampooning, the joke might be somewhat lost. Still, just listening to this collection on its own merit, it’s a pretty strange, funny, wide-ranging set of tunes. There’s the Blondie-goes-EBM-with-sax new wave of “Good Friends”, the high-octane silliness/nonsense of “Pogo À Gogo” and “Sample & Hold”, the drunken doo-wop of “O-Lui”, and the backward masking hypnotism of “Mannesmann”. Best of all, at least for my tastes, is “Why We Hate the Residents”, which consists of the lyrics of “Eleanor Rigby” recited in a “spooky” distorted voice over primitive keyboard plunking. Good one.

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