Monday, May 31, 2010

Comets On Fire - Field Recordings From The Sun

Return To Heaven

Comets on Fire "Pussy Foot the Duke" LIVE

Pink Fairies - What A Bunch Of Sweeties (1972)

The Pigs Of Uranus

Pink Fairies - Right On, Fight On

Kraftwerk - Ralf & Florian (1973)

Ralf & Florian is Kraftwerk, but not as many would know it. After Kraftwerk 1 & 2, Hutter and Schneider shrunk the band to just themselves, and moved away from the drawn-out experimentation that dominated their previous work, instead concentrating on more song-based and indeed melodic work with a strong romantic and pastoral feel that would surface a year later with Autobahn, the song that projected the band into the stratosphere.

There's a playfulness in this LP that perhaps seems rather melancholy especially as the Kraftwerk that emerged from this period Ralf Hutter deems "archaeology" was keen to stretch out songs, but not in the concise rhythmic manner that dominates their later work. There is also, interestingly enough, a hint of the dancefloor direction, albeit perhaps accidental, that they would eventually create for themselves in the hauntingly icy and baroque "Kristallo". This is Kraftwerk still experimenting, but with stronger, more structured concepts that would within a couple of years be fully realised. Amusingly, the back cover features both Hutter and Schneider in a rather frugal-looking Kling Klang studio, replete with more traditional instruments.
By Bleep43 (Discogs) Download Heres

Kraftwerk - Tanzmusik (1973)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Glitter Pals - Unleash The Compassion

Fans of Godheadsilo and Karp will dig this. ********

Glitter Pals - First Show Ever

U.S. Christmas - Salt The Wound

Apparently this North Carolina band has been unjustly lumped in the stoner rock genre. Having enjoyed Salt the Wound a few times over the course of the last couple of weeks I can kind of see why. Emphasis on ‘kind of’, because really this is much more interesting than most stoner bands, more adventurous and psychedelic, more bent on letting their guitars float in space instead of entrenching themselves in lo-tune Kyuss homage mode. As patient that’s for sure, but not as lethargic in its post-smoke out vibe.

The vocals too often get out of stoner territory, I mean guitarist Nate Hall, who doubles as main screamer, certainly does not sound stoned as much as simply raw and simple, it is not rare to hear him screaming out his lines with little regard for melody or speed. “Death by Horses” for instance, sounds slightly weird, because the guitars head one way, while sonic psychedelic debris (read; noise) gives the songs a cinematic feel while Hall screams out his lyrics.

Issued via the Russian label R.A.I.G. (Russian Association of Independent Genres) Salt the Wound is a more than nice trippy surprise. Hearing niche bands like U.S. Christmas lifts my spirit, they seem to mind nothing and worry about their own sound only during the making of their music. Their riffs are great too and when stripped of all effects one can finally see why the whole stoner rock lumping is perhaps not much of an inaccuracy. “New War” is aggressive but at its epicenter possesses the same simplistic riffage construction of a stoner band while “Devil’s Flower” sounds almost like an excuse to tune out of everyday life. The rest follows suit, all Salt the Wound is heavy on stoner riffage and psychedelic sounds, the presence of instrumentals only adds to the stoner rock legend as the sub-genre has always been linked to jam rock and lengthy extended versions seems to be the rule.

MySpace ~~~~~~~

U.S. Christmas - Norpo - Salt the Wound

Cluster - Zuckerzeit (1974)


Cluster- Hollywood (1973)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kluster - Zwei-Osterei (1971)

This isnt for everyone but still is a classic album if you havent heard this yet check it out when you go to sleep. Recommended

Karate Cop.1991 vhs movie trailer.avi

Pain Teens - Destroy Me Lover (1993)

Tar Pit

Pain Teens - "Coral Kiss" (1995)

Liquid Liquid

Early-80s band on the legendary 99 Records (2) label. Often namechecked because of the track 'Cavern' from which parts were replayed by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five for their hit single 'White Lines'. Liquid Liquid were originally a much more punk sounding band called Liquid Idiot who released one 7" before reforming as Liquid Liquid and basing their sound around a much more percussive framework. They would invite members of the audience to bring their own percussion to their gigs and at one of these, they were so impressed when Dennis Young brought a marimba that they invited him to join. They developed their own unique sound which they called 'big beat' (a term some English producers would use more than a decade later for something entirely different). Liquid Liquid still exist and worked together with DFA on new material. (Discogs) ~~~~~~

Cavern - Liquid Liquid

Oblivians - Play 9 Songs With Mr. Quintron (1997)

Feel All Right

Oblivians "The Leather"

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Shaggs - Philosophy Of The World (1969)

The Shaggs were an American all-female rock group formed in Fremont, New Hampshire in 1968. The band was composed of sisters Dorothy "Dot" Wiggin (vocals/lead guitar), Betty Wiggin (vocals/rhythm guitar), Helen Wiggin (drums), and later Rachel Wiggin (bass).

The Shaggs were formed by Dot, Betty, and Helen in 1968 on the insistence of their father, Austin Wiggin, who believed that his mother foresaw the band's rise to stardom. The band's only studio album, Philosophy of the World, was released in 1969. The album failed to garner attention, though the band continued to exist as a locally popular live act. The Shaggs disbanded in 1975 after the death of Austin.

The band is primarily notable today for their perceived ineptitude at playing conventional rock music; the band was described in one Rolling Stone article as "...sounding like lobotomized Trapp Family singers." [1] As the obscure LP achieved recognition among collectors, the band was praised for their raw, intuitive composition style and lyrical honesty. Philosophy of the World was lauded as a work of art brut, and was later reissued, followed by a compilation album, Shaggs' Own Thing, in 1982. The Shaggs are now seen as a groundbreaking outsider music group, receiving praise from mainstream artists such as Kurt Cobain and Frank Zappa (wikipedia) ~~~~~~

The Shaggs "My Pal Foot Foot"

Crust - Crusty Love (1994)

Crusty Love is yet another reason Texas should be its own nation -- Crust's campily gritty rock-outs are denched in enough slop and snot and nastiness to have a serious appeal, even when the band is rehashing Cramps attitudes and rockabilly riffs. ~ Nitsuh Abebe, All Music Guide ++++++

Crust- They'll Love you for It

Sunn O))) - The GrimRobe Demos (1999)

Defeating Earths Gravity

Sunn 0))) - Berlin, Volksbühne 2006 - Part 1

Dungen - 1999 - 2001

Great band i just wish i knew what they were saying , ohh well good music is good music right? Hell yeah it is check out the Dungen!

Dungen - Festival - Live @ Easy Street Records

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bastro - Rode Hard And Put Up Wet (1988)

Bastro were one of two bands formed by Squirrel Bait guitarist David Grubbs after the former band folded in 1987, together with Squirrel Bait's bassist Clark Johnson and a drum machine. Later, noted drummer John McEntire (currently a member of Tortoise and The Sea And Cake) replaced the drum machine. Johnson was later replaced by Bundy K. Brown. Bastro released one EP and two albums before Grubbs, McEntire and Brown retired the Bastro name in 1993 and continued as Gastr Del Sol. +++++

Bastro @ Vera - Gronignen, Holland 1991

Zombi - Surface To Air (2006)

Pittsburgh duo Zombi shouldn’t be on Relapse. Or at least that’s the most common first reaction to the moody, proggy music generated by bassist/keyboardist Steve Moore and drummer/keyboardist A. E. Pattera. With no vocals and no guitar, how can this be metal? Well, it doesn’t take long to realize that Zombi probably don’t care at all about being considered metal. Their music is dense, often heavy (as on the punishing, low end riff of the title track), and possesses an occasional brooding streak, but they don’t shred or really evince any of the hidebound conventions of the genre. Rather, the two players lock into complex, helix-like rhythmic patterns that are explored – as with a palimpsest – from multiple angles on somewhat lengthy performances.

Now, these days you can throw a dart and hit some bass/drums duo on the heavy end of things – take Om, Ruins, Lightning Bolt, or Hella, just to name a few obvious examples. But Zombi pursues what I can safely say is a completely different take. Imagine if Isis or Mogwai listened far less to Neurosis or My Bloody Valentine when they were growing up, and far more to Saucerful of Secrets or 2112 (there are Peart-isms all over this disc, although it’s hard to deny the influence of fellow PGH’er Damon Che on Pattera’s drumming as well).

Zombi seem to exult in vintage sounding music. In fact, all the keyboards they use (and there are lots of them) are vintage, with spaceships levitating and shooting stars wanting to streak past the analog confines, but it doesn’t quite sound retro. Even if that initial sound puts you off, if you’re patient, the dense, interlocking grooves (like the infectious 7/8 “Digitalis”) will get to you. And in that, I feel Surface to Air is more successful than their previous entry, Cosmos (which definitely didn’t have enough edge for me).

The tunes can be epic and one can imagine how it would inspire reverence among a certain crowd. The pieces revolve around the use of layering and riffs, and there usually isn’t too much harmonic complexity (save on the title track). This works best on long pieces like “Legacy,” which are hypnotic and almost trance-inducing. But some of the vintage whoosh and bleep sounds will infuriate other folks. The biggest offender in this regard is the closing “Night Rhythms,” which opens with canned B-movie atmospherics and is the least consistent (though it does evolve slowly into a nasty whipcrack of a riff).

By Jason Bivins~~Dusted Reviews *******

Zombi - Empty Bottle - Chicago - Surface to Air, Part 1

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Big Star - #1 Record / Radio City

You Get What You Deserve

Big Star - My Life is Right

Moss - Sub Templum

Devils From The Outer Dark

Moss Live in Belgium 'Abortion Clinic'

Pauline Oliveros - Primordial Lift

Composer Pauline Oliveros is a maverick in the field of electronic music. Oliveros' first instrument was the accordion; as a teenager in Texas she played in a 100-piece accordion group that appeared at the rodeo. In 1949 she entered the University of Houston, but in 1952 transferred to San Francisco State College. Oliveros studied music privately with Robert Erickson and began to associate with a loose confederation of like-minded composers; Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Morton Subotnick among them. Oliveros was among the first composers to participate when Subotnick and Ramon Sender founded the San Francisco Tape Center in 1961, and served as the Center's director in the first year following its move to Mills College (1966-1967). Some of the pieces Oliveros created in the 1960s, such as Bye Bye Butterfly (1965) and I of IV (1966; created at the University of Toronto) are acknowledged as classics of electronic music. From the beginning Oliveros was not greatly interested in electronic tape and its manipulation, preferring to explore real-time electronics, interactivity, and the use of delays.

In the early '70s Oliveros began to amplify the theatrical aspect of her works, in addition to incorporating elements of her growing interests in spirituality and meditation. This touched off a series of pieces that emphasized intuition and consciousness among large masses of people. During this time Oliveros temporarily abandoned systems of notation, instruments, and even the use of electronics. By 1975, however, Oliveros had rediscovered her accordion and began to compose drone pieces with voice, among the earliest being Horse Sings with Cloud. In the mid-'80s, Oliveros began to develop EIS (the Expanded Instrument System) utilizing early digital electronic music technology. In 1988 Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, and vocalist Panaoitis formed the Deep Listening Band, which debuted playing in an empty two-million gallon water tank located at Fort Worden in Washington State; a year later composer David Gamper joined the group as the permanent third member. Among Oliveros' major works since then has been the multimedia theater piece Njinga the Queen King (1993), a collaboration with the writer Ione. In 1985 Oliveros founded the Pauline Oliveros Foundation in Kingston, NY, a humanitarian organization that promotes the performance, practice, and technological developments associated with Oliveros' concept of "deep listening." ~ Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide


Pauline Oliveros: Bye Bye Butterfly edit (1965 USA drone electronica sam...

The Legend Lives On - Jah Wabble In Betrayel

Not Another

Jah Wobble - Something Profound

Spacemen 3 - For All The Fucked-Up Children Of This World (1984)

Walking With Jesus

The Video Dead (1987) Trailer

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brainiac - Hissing Prigs In Static Couture (1996)

Nothing Ever Changes

Brainiac- Cracked Machine - ChapelHill

Stone Harbour - Emerges (1974)

Extraordinary basement psych with two multi-instrumentalists creating a melancholic dreamlike state. Rock & Roll Puzzle

Stone Harbour - Stones Throw

Stone Breath - The Silver Skein Unwound (2003)

“Good folk music is inherently demonic.” Dusted scribe Dan Ruccia authored this dark declaration during his review of the latest offering by flowery/frightening Philadelphia folk trio, Espers. It’s a canny claim – if a mite monochromatic – but one certainly supported by the archly acoustic illuminations of like-mindedly pastoral Pennsylvanians, Stone Breath. However, unlike Espers’ floating world of subdued, effervescent menace, Stone Breath wear hand-hewn runes of eerie animism and anti-Christ affiliations on their twig-torn cloak sleeves.

The band birthed back in ’95, but today’s Stone Breath draws its lifeblood from the (un)holy trinity of Timothy Renner, Prywdwyn, and Sarada. Of course, whatever lineup reconfigurations the group’s undergone seem to signify little, as The Silver Skein Unwound unfurls the same sort of cryptic, pre–or post–pagan banner which waves within earlier LPs (Long Prayers?) like Lanterna Lucis Viriditatis and A Silver Thread to Weave the Seasons. Renner runs the unconventional convent, intoning his stark, severe incantations with monastic rigor while also plucking at a host of occult instruments ranging from the bouzouki to the headless-horsefiddle to the ektara. Prywdwyn plays the harmonium, flute, and viola, and whistles like a forlorn farmwife when occasion demands, and often sings high, lonesome, bereft-nun accompaniment with Sarada – who further pitches in with some subtle, sporadic guitar textures. Yet, despite all the stringed esoterica, the troupe arranges this gypsy wagon-worth of wares into rather sparse parts and parcels, lacing frailly dancing banjo lines with thin, whispering woodwinds into the sort of stern, empty minstrels Current 93 might hypothetically favor after black mass lets out.

Curiously, Stone Breath are dogged by the “acid-folk” tag, which couldn’t be more of a misnomer, as the spirits they evoke emanate from a far older, colder age than that of lysergic acid diethylamide labs. For Renner and crew, the crushing gloom of the death-heavy Dark Ages is still seriously relevant, even today, amidst our office building-dotted skylines and highway-veined countryside. Lyrically, they proffer the wisdom that, antiquated or otherwise, no intensity can surmount or even compete with the vision of a figure vanishing into green trees, the perfect harmony of circling birds, or the simple sound of earth covering earth. Truly, nothing is psychedelic in Stone Breath’s mentality save the inevitable mind-expansion incurred by an awareness of mortality. But, needless to say, it doesn’t take dropping acid to learn that life ends. The silver skein will indeed one day be unwound. The reaper’s season will arrive. Just pray the journey there is as focused, intricate, and honest as the one set forth by Stone Breath.

By Britt Brown~Dusted Reviews Here

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blood Freak Trailer

The Dream Syndicate - The Day Of Wine And Roses (1982)

Sure Thing

Slime City Trailer

Country Teasers-Live Album (2005)

“I’M GONNA FUCKING SUCKERPUNCH THIS PIECE OF SHIT BAND! THEY FUCKING DESERVE IT! AND I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ‘CAUSE IT SUCKS! SO GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!!!” Five tracks into the Country Teasers’ Live Album, something happens that, if it isn’t a first in an authorized live recording, is probably one of a handful of instances captured for such posterity: total negative-vibe audience meltdown. A male patron, so enervated by what he had been hearing all night, finally melts down (perhaps with the help of PCP or crystal meth and a gallon of piss beer in cans). “If anyone wants us to play another set, that can be arranged,” Teaser leader B.R. Wallers cheerfully goads, as said patron is led out of the room to cool off.

Such is the way with the Country Teasers, anachronists down to their gums. Few bands polarize an audience the way they can. Rising out of Edinburgh, Scotland in the early ’90s, the Teasers (along with the Yummy Fur and the Male Nurse, all of which shared members at one point or another) pulled a cash ‘n’ carry scam, stopped mithering, paid their rates, etc., in order to see that the North Will Rise Again, as foretold by Mark E. Smith a decade earlier. Their new faces in hell represented a pitch-black British concept of the Appalachia they envisioned between New York and Los Angeles, a celebration of racism, misogyny, rights abuses, corruption, and unequal dispersal of power.

But oh, that was some beautiful country all the same; sitting under a mangrove tree in the August night, shelling pecans and listening to a neighbor pluck a banjo. It was a joke, to be sure, but one told so earnestly that many listeners can’t discern the difference. Who else, in 1994, at the apex of Riot Grrrl spreading to a mass audience, would release a song called “Bitches Fuck Off” – and have it be exactly about that? Or during the O.J. trial, one “Black Change,” about a man who has an operation to become an African-American – reinforcing just about ever stereotype – in order to better please his wife? Or “Golden Apples,” in which the narrator points out all of the personality and genetic flaws of his bandmates? This would be that band, the great societal and cultural equalizer, the reincarnation of Lenny Bruce at a time when that sort of spirit was needed most. And naturally, people hated it, which made them push back all the harder.

In the live setting, the Teasers can do what they please. Members storm off the stage; fans pick up their instruments and play in their absence. They have ground packed rooms down to a nub with plodding, aggravating selections, waiting until a dozen fans remain to unleash a primal blat of rock salvation before packing it up for the night. Mercilessly baiting their crowds night after night, and still they make records, and still people buy them. If you’ve never bothered with them, you might be able to live with yourself just fine. But there is little denying the entertainment value that comes from being a fan, enjoying their recordings and seeing them live. The latter is captured – albeit fractiously and with negligible fidelity – on this self-explanatory disc with appropriate swagger, almost-in-tune musicianship and enough attitude to skin a priest. Often combining multiple versions of a song in a single track, the album lurches and scrapes along, from jacked up originals like the aforementioned “Black Change” and the misanthropic glory of “Please Stop Fucking Each Other” (with a chorus that begins with the verse “Die, die, die, die”) to a well-chosen assortment of covers that pummel with banality (“Blue Monday”), resonate with obviousness (the Brainbombs’ “Obey” and two Butthole Surfers covers from the Cream Corn EP), and fit just right – their cover of Randy Newman’s hated hit “Short People” ranks as a most appropriate summation of the band’s M.O., and on top of it all, breaks down into a gentle, back-porch acoustic interlude in the middle.

By Doug Mosurock~Dusted Reviews~Short People

Country Teasers "Golden Apples" at Tapestry '06

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mission Of Burma-VS. (1982)


Mission of Burma - Trem Two (live)

Bardo Pond-On The Ellipse (2003)

There are many ways to be successful in the music industry, but they can all be classified in just two categories: those who 'made it' with help, and those who did it themselves. There are also at least two kinds of success: immense popularity, and universal respect. While opinions will always differ as to which artists actually merit such prestigious accolades, Bardo Pond is well on its way to convincingly achieving both of those goals. For over a decade, this quintet has been assembling and refining a brand of rock music so pure and rich, so immense and overwhelming, our feeble contemporary recording devices are nearly incapable of properly replicating its enormous force and beauty, especially the rumbling rippling rolling pulse of big sound that characterizes the band's live experience. But perhaps technology is finally catching up to the future a bit, as Bardo Pond have crafted an album so seamless and complete, it exceeds expectations without even trying.

To start the album, a single ebow tone resonates from the right channel for thirty seconds before an acoustic guitar joins in from the left channel, a microcosmic representation of the two styles that Bardo Pond seek to unite in their music: melody and drone. Whether being carried by voice, flute or strings (from a viola or guitar), a proper tune inevitably distinguishes itself from within the undulating waves of sound and penetrates the aural cavities like a spelunking terrorist, leaving behind time-activated psychedelic plastique. The explosions only begin to take place after several spins as the elements of each song slowly congeal in the listener's mind, creating a breathtaking soundscape that continues to expand and fill in the crevices like caulking or that sprayed foam packing material.

"JD" is an elegant entrance into the collective consciousness of the band, as the picked acoustic guitar of John Gibbons glides effortlessly alongside a steady hum from the electric guitar of Michael Gibbons and a sauntering pace from Ed Farnsworth's drums. As the song crosses the threshold of quietude into distortion, Isobel Sollenberger's double-tracked vocals remain uncharacteristically prominent, signifying greater confidence in her ethereal singing and its emergence as a truly integral ingredient in their evolving recipe. "Every Man" opens with more acoustic guitar, this time played against phasing electrics that mimic and bolster Isobel's incantations. Her delay-heavy flute delicately guides the group into a swirling mass of wondrous glory that is punctuated by ferocious wah-wah and a steadily building attack on the drum kit. As the tune reaches its apex, Isobel steps back to the mic to sing once again, and everything stops out to reprise the pleasantly placid pace of the intro. Capitalizing on their mastery of quiet melodies, "Dom's Lament" commences as a subtle interplay between flute and guitar before some form of otherworldly sludge-fuzz bubbles up from the underside like a flooded basement, creeping so slowly that it is barely recognizable until you are neck-deep and soaking wet. Even as the swelling noise tightens its grasp around the fragile flutist, a sense of calm remains intact, assured that the gripping beasty is a domesticated one with good manners.

The second half of the album begins with the majestic and triumphant "Test," a veritable stomping behemoth of sonic excess, a massive monolithic monster that threatens to render all other noise forevermore obsolete with its tremendous thundering wall of sound. A diabolically simple two-chord juggernaut of the highest order, this song begins with nothing short of all-out thickness and intensity, wasting no time in establishing itself as the heaviest damn thing you have ever heard in your relatively short and feathery-light life. But it goes from there, despite the imposing opening, gathering muscle and might along the way, like a cataclysmic snowball of doom-rock spilling down the mountainside, laying total waste to every object in its nefarious path. Here bassist Clint Takeda shines as the unassuming source of some of the greatest squelches of controlled feedback ever to emanate from a bass guitar, as if Prometheus himself had once again stolen fire from the gods and delivered it wholesale to mankind without fear of eternally losing his liver over it. The cascading slivers rise above the sensational maelstrom and echo in the mind like a shadow of the sun seen with eyes closed, the audible equivalent of a flashing red dot in the deepest darkness. All this while Isobel's angelic voice insists, "Take the truth test." If ever Bardo Pond had recorded a signature song that crystallizes their colossal and dominating live sound to its truest essence, this may very well be it. Revel in its glory.

Not content to rest on their laurels after unloading both barrels in the face of the audience, the band continues on a more relaxed note with "Walking Clouds," featuring John's first vocal contributions since 1995's Bufo Alvarius. Backwards delay provides a surreal effect on the acoustic guitars, transporting the listener steadily outward as spacey sounds trickle from either speaker, unwrapping themselves inside and around the head. Isobel joins John in singing as Ed provides delicate cymbal touches and Clint sends off restrained detonations in the distance. The title is fitting given the stratospheric floating feeling of the cut and allows ample recovery time before the album's epic closer, "Night of Frogs." While "Test" is more of an immediate and constant blast of sheer force, "Night of Frogs" displays added contrast and depth, patiently constructing another solid foundation of brawny crunching guitars before launching a full assault on the sense of hearing. Chimes shimmer and ring over picked guitar as hand drums offer a soft gait during the beginning of the track. But then guitars suddenly blast out of nowhere to occupy every available frequency in the spectrum, like gigantic rawk-seeking missiles launched from under the floor of the deepest tranquil sea. Michael's wah-guitar shreds through the chaos to pierce the forehead and temples with careful precision, while in the background a churning whirlwind waxes and wanes, as if an approaching tornado could focus its relentless fury into a format that could be easily distilled and plainly heard. After a dozen minutes of this, the climax is finally achieved, and as the guitars subside, deep breaths may need to be taken for a while to restore normal respiratory patterns.

Over the past decade, Bardo Pond have officially released five albums, three EP's (plus two split), six singles (plus one split) and countless compilation appearances while also self-releasing five cassettes, four CDR's, and some exclusive mp3's through their website. With such a prolific catalog behind them, it's hard to believe that they just now may be hitting their stride with their six full-length, the third consecutive album recorded by the group at their practice space, the Lemur House. Following an unexpected departure from Matador, the five-piece is poised for imminent world domination with ATP Records, raising their profile at the same time that they've raised the bar for all guitar rock bands. They have defined success on their own terms from the onset, and by controlling every aspect of their development as a band and business, they will certainly continue to do so. And we, the fortunate music fans, will surely reap the benefits of their dual successes~Philip Smoker~ALL Tomorrows Parties~ Recommended

Bardo Pond-Tommy Gun Angel

Some Velvet Sidewalk-Shipwreck (1994)

Eyes Like Yours

Some Velvet Sidewalk - "Mousetrap"

Stiff Little Fingers-Inflammable Material (1979)

This is such a great album. Law and order

Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device

Terrry Reid-Super Lungs

Highway 61

Terry Reid - Superlungs

Stiv Bators-Disconnected

Bad Luck Charm

Gumball-Special Kiss (1991)

Gone Too Far

Gumball - Restless (High Quality)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Unwound-Leaves Turn Inside You (2001)

What the fuck?: the one question any great album should elicit from you, involuntarily, like a musical doctor's mallet to your mind's knee. Ha, that's terrible! But, see, that's just it. A great album should have you grasping for horrible metaphors that come nowhere close to describing that ineffable whatever that makes good music so much more than just casual entertainment or pleasant background. Yes, the really good ones make you ask, "What the fuck?" with conviction. They extort feelings of reverence, awe, and respect from you.

No doubt, you've heard that saying about the Velvet Underground-- you know, the one that claims that, though next to no one actually heard their debut album when it came out, everyone who did went out and started a band of their own. I'd like to be able to say something similar about Unwound, but strangely enough, it's to their credit that I can't. They do have the obscurity thing in common, though I suspect that Unwound sells a hell of a lot more albums than the Velvet Underground did in the Factory days. Still, while anyone with a stringed instrument and opposable thumbs could have taken a respectable stab at emulating the Velvet Underground's brand of frenzied noise, the same cannot be said for Unwound.

Unwound is rock and roll, but only loosely speaking. It's often very aggressive with Justin Trosper belting out fractured lyrics like a napalmed banshee. But their music is so much more sophisticated, stranger and original than that of their contemporaries that it wouldn't be far from the truth to say they've written their own vocabulary and deployed a new syntax in this otherwise staid genre. Drawing inspiration from elements as disparate as Ornette Coleman's harmolodics, the compositions of Bela Bartók, rock and roll in general, and all points in between, Unwound have managed to rarely repeat themselves and never disappoint.

In many respects, Leaves Turn Inside You is the band's most ambitious, sweeping, and difficult outing yet. First, there's the sheer length (an hour and fourteen minutes), and then there's the format (two video-enhanced discs). Yet, for its epic length, there are only fourteen songs on this album, which means there's some really, really long tracks here. And not only long, but epic in the "Kashmir" sense. And within those songs, there's enough going on to keep even the most attention deficit disordered among us intrigued.

Take "Terminus," for instance, which consists of three distinct segments. The first is a 3\xBD minute-long, maraca-laced, frenetically percussive song unto itself, rife with great rhythmic interplay between Justin Trosper's guitar and Vern Rumsey's thunderous bass. The lyrics could have been plucked from one of Gollum's riddles in The Hobbit: "Break me I'm not broke/ Take me I'm not took/ Cake me I'm not cooked/ Fake me I'm not fucked/ Wake me I'm awake/ Shake me I'm a jerk/ Wash me I'm a lake/ Make me I'm a crook." And there's a lot more where that came from. The song then gets plucky, quieter, and more tense. A phrase repeats itself with just a hint of cello and some Rhodes accompaniment. With every repetition the cello grows louder until it overtakes the guitar, drums, and bass completely. A psychotic string interlude follows, and without warning, the cello cuts out completely, signaling the beginning of section three, a pretty tune with a ghostly Rhodes melody and two wiry, intertwined guitars parts.

If you're looking for another installment of The Future of What, or a return to New Plastic-era Unwound, you will be sorely disappointed. Let it go. You'd be doing yourself a heinous disservice to dismiss these songs for not reprising the Unwound of old; there's so much in the latest version of the band to be excited about. "Treachery" begins with a zany, Eno-ish synth intro which perfectly sets up the strangely 60's pop-sounding verse. From a production standpoint-- if not also from a songwriting one-- Trosper was inspired by Woodstock-era psychedelia, and this song is one of many moments in which that's distinctly recognizable. The band shifts keys between the verse and the chorus, and the keyboard is brought back for the song's infectiously sing-alongy ending.

In the years that elapsed between Challenge for a Civilized Society and their latest, the band pieced together a home studio in order to emancipate themselves from the time and cost constraints of professional studio work. They also decided to step up in a hands-on producer capacity, though still keeping studio wizard Steve Fisk around for his expertise. Ex-drummer Brandt Sandeno and Quasi drummer Janet Weiss add keyboards and vocals, respectively. But apart from bringing in the Pacific Northwest all-stars, having a studio of their own has seemingly afforded Unwound unlimited time to see every idea out to its end. Unfettered by the usual studio pressures, the band packed much more instrumentation than usual into the songs.

Leaves Turn Inside You is much too massive and sprawling an album to discuss track by track. There aren't really any bubbly or anthemic songs (such as Fake Train's "Dragnalus") or anything of the throat-shredding screams Trosper is well-known for (like on The Future of What's "Here Come the Dogs"). The length of the album is somewhat mind-numbing, as is the relatively slow tempo of most of the songs. But any loss in kinetic energy is more than made up for by the august musicality of the songs, as well as the sort of dream logic that pervades the album from beginning to end, effected with surreal vocal effects and keyboard atmospherics. The funny but disconcerting animated piece by Zak Margolis (aka Drowning Boy) and the video short by Slater Bradley are great but, ultimately, just the icing on an incredible album.

To be truthful, my first listen to Leaves Turn Inside You was a bit difficult; I wasn't even particularly sure that I liked it. I haven't been able to oust it from the stereo since. I'm convinced that, if you've been following this band's development, the initial bewildered expression on your face will give way to total enchantment, and this new, boldly different Unwound album will have you in its grip for months to come.

Camilo Arturo Leslie, Pitchfork~~CD1 CD2

Unwound - December

The Go-Betweens-Send Me Lullaby (1982)