Saturday, February 26, 2005

Feedback revolution



Listening to Dinosaur Jr is akin to putting on a jacket you haven't worn in a long time and finding a crisp ten pound note not long after rumaging through the pockets. Now this doesn't happen very often, so when lightning does strike in such a way, it's only right that you act accordingly. What I mean to say is that you want to hunt down all their records and play them over and over again, right? Ah well, i'm afraid I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that their first three albums have been discontinued - and unless your willing to make a fight of it over on ebay this really is bad news - but take heart reader, for I did say there was good news. Yes, you've guessed it - or probably know already - the first three Dinosaur Jr albums are getting the deluxe treatment, the ultimate special edition gloss and fan package of a life-time, or at least until now. Now this might not make an impact on the Jeff Buckley scale, but lets face it, who is blind enough to think that the wealth of Jeff Buckley material avaliable at the moment isn't purely about money. I mean, come on, one great album doesn't equate a legacy - even if the album is "Grace." Stop me if you think i'm being insensitive. Clearly some people actually want to hear Jeff Buckley attempting to joke around on stage; but this, and coupled with all that background noise and problems with the instruments, you really must be a diehard fan to pocess the patience (I mean, agony) that goes hand if hand with listening to live at Sin'e(?).*

The context bit: The history of Dinosaur Jr is a lengthy one, and since I probably won't do it justice i'm just going to focus on those early albums. J Mascis is generally blamed for gradually transforming the group into his own vision, but "Dinosaur", "You're Living All Over Me", and "Bug" demand re-evaluation because these free-flowing noise mongering titans made soloing and layered sonic mayhem an artform and this has never really been investigated since, or bettered - although us shoegazing brits took it down different avenues and other bands like Nirvana were always quick to site them as a major influence. Of course, how these albums conform to remastering remains to be seen, but if anything, they should be interesting if not essential purchases. Also interesting, is news that the band have pledged to reform under their original lineup, and that "Freak Scene" is going to be re-released again as a limited edition single. Oh, and Pitchfork report that the Replacements albums are going to get the SE treatment too. Sha-weet!

*Ok, I have it, but i'm a hopeless completist and clearly in need of treatment. Anyway, reports seem to suggest that there won't be a great deal of additional tracks to accompany these reissues, and I think I was trying to say that this doesn't really matter, in a long winded fashion.

Dinosaur Jr - Chunks

J Mascic & The Fog- Same Day

Official Dinosaur Jr page - Freakscene

Official J Mascis page - J Mascis.com

You can buy the reissues in March on Merge Records. For J Mascis material look to Amazon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Next Throwaway Style

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Rock & Roll fusion of roots music



Moby Grape were originally singer Skip Spence, Jerry Miller (guitar), Peter Lewis (guitar) Bob Mosley (bass) and Don Stevenson (drums). Their debut album (Moby Grape) was released in 1967 to critical and commercial acclaim, but a combination of poor management, band infighting and bad luck meant that they would never record another album like it. In fact, not many bands ever did record an album like it. This had a lot to do with the way the album was recorded. The group had not long since met and the sharing of songwriting duties, combined with the lack of a identifiable leader in the band meant that they all had their own creative input during the recording of the album. This would prove to be detrimental in the long term, but it all came together suprising well for their debut. Blending together rock & roll, roots, pop, country, and folk effortlessly whilst always maintaining a sense of melody, the three pronged guitar attack of Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis, and Skip Spence was offset with an almost intuitive sense of melody and vocal harmonies. They also had the three-minute and under pop song down cold, and for this reason alone were able to successfully transcend the noodlings and drawn out jams of the 60's psychedelic scene (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead) that they never really embraced to begin with. Incredibly focused, devoid of drawn out solos and jams this album deserves to be ranked alongside "Forever Changes" and "Music from Big Pink." Absolutely incredible.

One last thing. Their record label have often been criticised for over-hyping the Moby Grape debut by releasing five singles all at once - You see, hype, it's always been a problem. Anyway, i'm going to leave with Omaha. It's a firm favourite amongst favourites so enjoy - and buy! Thanks for reading.

Moby Grape - Omaha.

Oh, before I go. Bars and Guitars has alerted me to the tragic beauty of Micah P Hinson. I can't stop listening to his albumb now. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

so, whats in it for me?

so the ever growing list of bands championed by the nme is full of floppy haired art school geezers from london who hang out around camden market in their scruffy jeans and stripey jumpers with aspirations of libertinesque proportion. well fxck that, and god bless bloc party. men of the moment, and winning the race to be the new-new wave restorators they sure are. the nme got it right this time. finally a bunch of fellows doing something awesome, and who sleep at home each night - rather than in some dingy soho police cell trying to score some crack from the whore next door.

and so here we are, listening to a helicopter remix.... which just so happens to be from the cd single 'so here we are'. normally i find remixes to be criminal butcherings of what was once a monumental piece of musicianship. simon bookish really did fuck michael in the ass. im still bitter from it, and franz should be sore too. sherif whitey gets props though. helicopter is an amazing song, and whilst his remix doesnt quite have that instant dance til you drop factor of the original, it does give an eerie extended twist to a song that will continually let the good times roll.

bloc party - helicopter (sheriff whitey mix)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Wake up, to 80's Punk



They were: Jeff Pezzati (vocals), John Haggerty (guitar), Marko Pezzati (bass), Jim Colao (drums), and, early on, future Big Black member Santiago Durango (guitar).

The general consensus is that Naked Raygun made anti-socio-political-punk at breakneck speed while probably out of their heads. They developed a cult following in the musical minor leagues because they were too experimental for commercial radio, made unfortunate career decisions and eschewed the artistic trappings of an unforgiving mainstream. They don't even consitute one of the main bands profiled in "Our Band Could Be Your Life" (Michael Azerrad), and are are more often than not neglected in favour of bands like Black Flag, The Minutemen, Mission Of Burma, Fugazi , Husker Du, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr. Now i'm not neccesarily saying that Naked Raygun were better than any of these bands, but it's important to understand how even now they're passed over; despite being one of the best punk bands to come out of Chicago. These guys are still important now. You listen to their music and you start to understand why Steve Albini has made the music he has, and while you won't find any subtle nuances and arty-guitar work here, who wants that when you can have 80's punk with balls - I can be nasty too, you know..

I'm going to leave you with a track from Jettison. It's fairly well acknowledged that things started to go downhill for the band after this album, but since I haven't heard them I really shouldn't comment. The album starts with "Soldiers Reqieum" which is the sort of track that people listen to and decide to start a band there and then. "Suspect Device" appears as a live cover on the album, but while I think the original appears on High Fidelity, Naked Raygun fails to really improve on Stiff Little Fingers - They probably didn't want to. "Vanilla Blue" on the other hands starts with a one minute drum solo and really kicks off into...Oh, just hear it!

Naked Raygun - Vanilla Blue

Buy their albums at Insound, and If you're still not convinced Epitonic also have an comprehensive biography and additional MP3's from Jettison and their other albums.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cherry flavoured pop?



Riley Briggs ------------> Singer/Songwriter
Ian Stoddart ------------> Drums
Ken McIntosh ------------> Bass
Sarah McFadyen ----------> Fiddle/Vocals
Ruth Barrie -------------> Keyboard/Vocals

I think i'm officially going soft, but if it means I can like Aberfeldy then I don't care. Aberfeldy sound like Neil Young fronting The B52's after listening to Big Star records all day - I know, it seems like every band have a little bit of The B52's in them nowadays, but it's true. I first heard this band after watching their video for "Love is an Arrow" on MTV2 (Actually, it was 120 Minutes). Incidentally, how freaking good is the Sonic Youth video to "Teenage Riot"? I'd never seen it before, and it totally blew me away. Anyway, I have the Aberfeldy record now. I'd definitely seen the artwork to the album somewhere before, but I don't know where - answers on a postcard? Aberfeldy formed in 2002 in Edinburgh, Scotland. They've spent the last two years working together and forming a sound which has garnered a great deal of critical acclaim. During this time they've also signed to Rough Trade and have barely stopped touring and playing gigs. Their next single will be "Love Is An Arrow" and is set to be released on February 14th 2005, Valentine’s Day. So look out for the single and their "Eskimo" video, but in the mean time you can click on the following links:

Aberfeldy - Love is an Arrow

Aberfeldy - Love is an Arrow (Video)

Hmmm...Before I go. Looking around the blog network i've been alerted to some great music/ articles over the past couple of months, but i'm going to name a few that have really caught my attention recently: - Spoilt Victorian Child and XXJFGs always set standard for me. The Podcasts over at Soul Sides also blows me away, and - even if I do find myself out of depth over there - I have made some purchases that I would never have considered otherwise (MF Doom, 24 Karat Black and more recently Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings). I think we're all offically itching to hear the new Outhud album now, thanks to Just For A Day, Sissorkick and XXJFG. Err, and i'm already visiting Headphone Sex regularly after posts on Maximo Park and Angie... I'm sure i've missed a hell of a lot out, but they're only the ones off the top of my head.

Don't forget to visit the following sites:

Aberfeldy.com
Rough Trade


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I Turn My Face To The Forest Floor


Photo: Steve Gullick

Gravenhurst (Live):

Nick Talbot ------------> Voice, Guitars,
Paul Nash --------------> Voice, Guitars, Bass
Dave Collingwood -----> Drums,

I've read that you have to be in particular mindset to truly appreciate Gravenhurst. I was watching pre-oscar programme on this years nominations yesterday, and one of critics commented that "Eternal Sunshine For a Spotless Mind is a personal film, you either get it or you don't." It's frustrating because you could say that of anything really ("Yeah, it's not really my sort of thing really.") Alright, fair enough, it's a dead issue then. You obviously don't want to discuss it anymore. Discussion over - I really hate that. Maybe i'm thinking about this too much, but I do find it frustrating. Christ, reading over this I really do sound like an ego-maniac. I'm not Rough Trade, honestly. I'm not offering you the chance to sign up to The Album Club - For a small charge they'll send you the "best" albums, it's clearly the answer to all your prayers. Ok, i'm definitely being faetious now. It's probably best experienced alone, but that's all i'm going to say on the subject.

The first thing that strikes you about "The Flashlight Seasons" is that it's destributed by Warp, and Gravenhurst are in fact a Warp band. Personally, I didn't really give it a second though, but most of interviews with Nick Talbot seem to at least mention his relationship with Warp Records, so I thought I should too. It's bleak, brooding, dark, mysterious and has been compared to Elliot Smith. It even manages to remind me of Ghost (even i'm scatching my head over that), but that's mainly because it avoids the lo-fi moinker. The album was actually recorded in his bedroom. Obviously a lot of things changed after this stage, but the foundations for this album were created in an intimate setting, and they never really progress a lot further from there. It might not be a record for the folk-purists out there, but you can't really argue the heading that this music falls under either.

Gravenhurst
Warp Records

Since i'm still fairly annoyed after my altercation with "anonymous" (?)I won't be posting a Gravenhurst MP3.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

One decade on...


Photo: Kristofer Jonson

Geoff Farina -----> Vocals, guitar,
Eamonn Witt ------> Bass
Jeff Goddard -----> Drums

(Formed: 1993)

I see that Southern Records have job vacancies in the UK at the moment. Now that would be a good label to work for. I notice that it specifically states that you must have some knowledge about the label; and even more importantly, that you enjoy the music on their label. Of course, it's not like that's a major stumbling block. Southern are a consistently great label - Yeah, somebody put in a good word in for me? Q and Not U, Cat On Form *sobs*, Karate, Todd...Incidentally, Karate and Todd are perhaps the most detrimentally opposed bands you could imagine in musical terms. Oh, but if you are in any doubt, they're both great and well worth checking out. Actually, i'm supposed to be focusing on Karate.

I'd love to know what Geoff Farina had been listening to prior to the recording of Pockets. I mean, it's not post-rock, is it? If it is meant to have post-rock leanings, then it trascends that often difficult "realm" of music, and certainly makes it a more accessible, and pleasant listening experience (maybe it is just another Karate record?). It might not strike that chord with everybody, or even set the world alight, but you can't deny their ability to do something different. It's might not even signify dramatic departure from their other albums, but personally, I don't think they've ever sounded this good. It's all sounds too easy. All the way from the production to the songs. It has an eerie familarity about it. In fact, i'm convinced that Alex Chilton was some of inspiration for this record. The seventies pop-rock vibe is actually that undeniable.

Karate - The State I'm In aka Goode Buy from Cobbs Creek Park

Southern Records
Geoff Farina


Friday, February 04, 2005

Who the fuck are Black Wire?



Si McCabe -------> Guitars, backing vocals (all other noise)
Tom Greatore ----> Bass
Dan Wilson ------> Vocals

Tight jeans, skinny leather ties, shirts replete with home made "muff damage" motifs in marker pen, ceilings left emblazoned with the word "SAILOR" in blood, a pig's head, some odd headgear, and loads of cheap cider. Black Wire's low budget (and all the better for it!) debauchery sums them up perfectly - putting in a lot of worthwhile effort to the dedication of little more than good old fashioned hijinks and youthfulness.

Hailing from (and doing a fine job of representing) Leeds, Black Wire are three annoyingly skinny 20-somethings, purveyors of finest electro punk, well-loved by both the NME and the movers and shakers of various scenes countrywide. They've already got a fearsome/ridiculous live reputation (matching pants?), and a fine hometown profile, despite only having two single releases under their belt, and about 8 songs in total.

The Face is a fine demonstration of just why people are so interested in Black Wire. Strident electropunk that quite obviously doesn't take itself too seriously, but certainly takes itself seriously enough. It's been often pointed out that, if Black Wire came from London, they'd be pants. This is most probably true. Listen to this, and be thankful for the fact that they don't. Youth.

Visit them @ Black Wire.tk