Thursday, February 28, 2008
Soulsavers has released two albums to date. "It's Not How Far...." is the most recent of these offerings. Soulsavers is normally an electronica duo featuring the work of Ian Glover and Rich Machin. This album, however, plays more like a dark gospel album. The vocals are handled by Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) and one slot with Will Oldham (Self and Bonnie Prince Billy). The former is the highlight of this album. Lanegan's voice is emotive and certain.
When I first tried to put the sound into words, I thought Revival, which is the first track title. The album now plays more like an exorcism; an exorcism of painful pasts and failures. The religious overtones force sentimentality. It is as if you have stumbled upon a stranger singing his blues in order to repair his broken soul, and you sit there- captivated- listening secretly. At times during the record you get the sense you are growing younger; like you are being cleansed. "It Is Not How Far You Fall, It Is the Way You Land" is a bandage for your broken will. It can turn the staunchest atheist to salvation. Lanegan has a holy voice. Inspiring, indeed.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
In honor of the upcoming visit here in the "Golden City": Caribou. With all these bands naming themselves after animals it is hard to keep track. I think mammals have the lead in the race right now. I'm not sure if a Caribou could beat up a Panda, or Grizzly Bear, but it is charming nonetheless. Being a human at the top of the food chain, I have to say that Caribou is a tender meat and easily digestible. It still has just enough gameyness to be "exotic" and therefore can satisfy both the connoisseur and rugged hunter alike. Bon Appetit.
I normally don't get into dance/techno music, but this album has that je n'sais quoi. Greg Gillis is the brains behind Girl Talk. He has a savvy ear for mixing the unthinkable together. This album is in constant contradiction. He mixes Journey with Three Six Mafia, or Phil Collins with Master P- I don't know. You get the picture. Night Ripper is one of the most entertaining records I have ever listened to. Gillis, as far as I know, doesn't actually write any "new" music on this album. It is a smorgasbord of modern pop, dirty south gangsta rap, classic rock and 80's pop/new wave. He borrows melodies from Nirvana, the Pixies, the Breeders, the Beatles and on and on and on- crams them together with exceptional dexterity and forms a cohesive groove. The result is a listening experience that will have your attention span for the entire record- just waiting to hear where he will take each track next. This is a personal favorite for city walking and aimless wanderings. You will not be disappointed, regardless of any aversions to dance or electronica. This is a creative stew of pop chart favorites and underground classics. It's an album that listeners of all genres can appreciate, well, minus the Pete Seeger fans.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
This is one of my favorite albums of all time. It is a disc that can be played hundreds of times and never lose its force. The dimensions are so large, and you soon get lost in the eerie web of a Gynecologist's malpractice of sex, murder and mutilation. Kool Keith adapts his most infamous alter-ego Dr. Octagon to speak through here. The beats are handled by the prodigy from the previous post: Dan the Automator, aka. Nathaniel Merriweather. This was the album that opened the gates for the Automator. Dr. Octagonecologyst plays like a psychedelic nightsweat in outer-space. Keith will keep you guessing. At first listen you can be overwhelmed by the sheer absurdity of his lyrics, yet rightfully respecting his style. Not long after you make this conclusion a seeping realization comes to you: The man is either genius or mad- maybe both- and you've been trapped in his psychotic world. As so often happens when dealing with insanity, the effects are contagious. You will soon be hypnotized by his rhythm and omnipresent ego. Keith is special in this way: Many artists become characters, but Keith has alter egos. There is a difference: He's a schizophrenic.
The sampling is lush with spooky 18th century symphonic horror and 1930's fear mongering government propaganda. Contrary to most modern hip-hop, we see few guests on this album. Leave yourself clues to help emerge from this labyrinth. Enjoy.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Dan the Automator is, like Madlib from the previous post, a multi-talented and highly active DJ who has impacted hip hop immeasurably- think Deltron 3030 & Dr. Octagon. This radioactive sample is, as the title suggests, music for the bedroom. If he alone wasn't enough, Dan decided to bring in one of the most talented vocalists of our time: Mike Patton (Faith No More & Fantomas, among others). With Patton singing contra Jennifer Charles (Elysian Fields) a scene of the steamiest fornication is imagined and encouraged in our private bedrooms. The sampling is comically entertaining as always with The Automator, but it doesn't interfere with his primary goal: to get you laid. There are two instrumentals on this album, each of which get your body rocking. The scenes move from petty crime (To Catch a Thief) to frightening necrophilia (Flowers From the Grave). This album is well balanced in the darkness and lightness that looms over our sexual conscious and subconscious minds. It may seem heavy in description but fear not , because Dan balances these fantastic worlds with his innate sense of yin and yang. Enjoy.
Bill Callahan is like a cool uncle. He's smarter than your Dad and he knows everything that is cool to you, including the names of all your favorite action figures. All his knowledge is a priori. He never comes across as condescending. Basically if you don't have this album, consider yourself to have been swindled by God at birth and now just fortunate enough to have met the devil who thinks that no one should be denied anything this good regardless of sin or consequence. Smog's earlier experimental stuff is really "out there". This is a more settled Callahan. You'd think he was a hundred and four by the wisdom he's accumulated and, thankfully, shared in this album. Expect great song writing, admirable word play and unexpected song transformation (ie. Bloodflow). This record is plutonium, which is way more expensive and suave than platinum, gold and gems combined. Even "shit gems".
Friday, February 22, 2008
Otis Jackson Jr. is Madlib. He has compiled and cooperated dozens of times with a multitude of talented MC's and DJ's alike. Madvillain - "Madvillainy" was most notably his claim to fame. There he cooperated with the illustrious MF Doom. If you know it, you know the beats are soo butter.
The legendary Blue Note jazz label had the confidence and trust to give Madlib the keys to the vault and let him mix. The result is "Shades of Blue". He wanted to explore the roots of hip-hop and create a sort of survey of the beats and melodies that have shaped the specifically American musical genre. This album is a gem. To say he was successful is an understatement. This album showcases his vision. Enjoy.
When it rains, it pours. Devotchka started as a backing band for a Burlesque Show. The name is a part of the colloquial language used by the Alex and his Droogs in "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess. It means "young girl" in Russian. I'm not sure if it's a positive or negative diminutive, but it's there. The haunting nature of Alex in the book is reproduced in style by Nick Urata's voice. This is their newest offering. Leave a little light on if you're listening alone.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
This Brazilian Psychedelic rock outfit released "Mutantes" in 1969. It is 2008 and this record rocks the core of your being. Get a bunch of plastic cups and several gallons of shitty red table wine and throw a party. If this is your soundtrack, be assured that your guests will soon be naked-dancing and swinging their hair. This is a rock record. This record will turn a green light on in an infrared room.
In honor of the blog title, the first post is....
Stephen Malkmus and David Berman are the heads of this musical chimera. It will breathe fire and you will cower. Remain steadfast and the monster's blazing breath will transform into a hammock of jello and sex fantasy.
On a serious note, If you don't have this record, it is one of the pillars supporting the pedestal we esteem modern rock to rest upon. Listen to it fifty times. Berman is a remarkable poet and satirist. He redefines the traditional song writing approach to include his boisterous irony and laughable wit. "I met a puppy who walked from Kentucky. He made it to East Virginia by dawn..."