Saturday, April 30, 2005

What, Man? Who Are You?!

I'm writing this and I already feel like a fraud. "School of the Flower," Ben Chasny's fifth album as Six Songs of Admittance - and first for Drag City - has been out for months. If that weren't enough, nearly every single music publication I hold in asteem places it in high regard, while I myself am only just coming to terms with the beauty and influences that his records lays bare. First impressions must center on the artwork. It recalls a Haruki Murakami novel, which really does mean something when your waiting to hear the album for the first time. Yeah yeah, you might not think it does, but it does. Incidentally, there have been some great album covers this year, haven't there? Edan, Panico, Six Songs of Admittance, Carribou...The music! John Fahey springs to mind, but there is also so much more to come to terms with. If you don't already know, Ben Chasny is a fully fledged touring member of sonic terroists Comets on Fire, and if that weren't enough, he is also an extremely prolific artist in his own right; even so, you can't help feel that this, his first release on Drag City has really allowed him so more room to manoever. Well, I say that but I don't think i've ever heard an album that's so understated and so knowing all at once, so go figure. Writers like Michael Crumsho and Brandon Stosuy are far more usefull in communicating how far Ben Chasny's influences reach. I often feel that the word acclectic is too overused a word, but it really is appropriate when describing this artists work. He appropriates the muse of a folk singers like Drake and Fahey, but has obviously been left changed through his time with Comets on Fire and as a great admirer modern folk and pycadelic pioneers, Ghost. Incidentally, "School of the Flower" is this years "Hypnotic Underworld," if you haven't heard either, buy both?

The following track,, as the first track on the album, is pretty indicative of the general sound that washes over you. Acoustic guitars colliding with electric guitars, organ sounds and hushed vocals. Pretty fucking great, basically.

Six Songs of Admittance - Eighth Cognition / All You've Left

(Buy Six Songs of Admittance releases here)

Two more things:

If you're in Nottingham on Sunday it can only be for one reason, but in case you forget (like you ever could): Damn You! excitedly present: WEIRD WAR/ !FORWARD RUSSIA!

You Know Yer Indie. Let's Sub-Categorize.

You're a True Punk. You know that punk isn't all
about studded jackets and mohawks. If you're
political, you're actually informed. Most of
the stuff you love is from before the 80s,
though you know bands like Fugazi kept the
spirit going.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ear bleeding blues rip-offs

I actually think that Eric B & Rakim's "Follow the Leader" is more rock and roll than a lot music that claims to be nowadays. Ok, so it's not a new album, and it's officially a hip-hop record, but it's edgy and it takes chances with the material. I don't know. They probably wouldn't be happy with that statement, but it's just something that I felt when I heard it earlier. Anyway, i'd like to preface this entry by thanking Stylus/Stypod for their Austrialian underground article. In effect, I'm really just continuing - or rather, sustaining - what they've already started. I just felt like I had to throw my two cents (pence) in.

They say that good records make you lose all sense of time. Well, the record i've been listening to today makes you lose all semblance of time, place and your own identity; so if you like the idea of that, keep reading. I wouldn't call it genre bending as such, but making music in the vein of Beefheart, "Sister" era Sonic Youth and your more disturbed Delta blues figureheads will never be the standard, will it? Bird Blobs have been around for years and in that time recorded three albums. (even if a lot of the other information i've read seems to suggest that they've only recorded two albums, but you know, investigate further if you wish.) I don't think you can argue that their doing their own thing though. It's music that touches on those childhood nightmares that you think you've forgotten about until they suddenly pop up in your head again - now that would be a cool health warning

The subject matter is dark, the the music is frightening, and well, that's supposedly the idea. Tim Evans (Guitarist/ Vocalist) was quick to explain in a an interview with Australian magazine last year that he sees the band moving away to a fully formed polished sound to something more primal. He actually used the word ugly though. Ugly? Disonant surges of Dinosaur Jr like wall to wall noise. It's repulsive and uncompromising, of course it's ugly. I love it. You can read the full article here. That interview was taken when "Stihl Life" was originally released, a lot of what he talks about still rings true in their new material. There are hooks there if your willing to explore the weird and warped weird of Bird Blobs. Join me. The following track is pretty indicative of the sound they have. Jagged blues inflenced garage rock complete with the drone of Robert Johnson's ghost, or Iggy Pop after a mammoth alcohol and drugs fulled session.

Bird Blobs - Nuthin at All

To visit their website, click here. Take a trip over to Rough Trade to make a purchase.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Greasy fingers strung together

Oh, if you're in anyway confused as to what that picture above is all about...

Nigel Turner, or rather Pickled Egg records, have a rather fantastic Double CD Compilation which is now avaliable directly from their site, or at Jar. Yes, that's right: Eggstock. Although Summer Sundae isn't shaping up too badly (No, really), Nigel really is spoiling us with his launch party to "Jar". You can read all about it here.

I wake up every day with the intention of updating this site, but either I never get around to it, or I can't think of anything to talk about. Although...Wait for it..Yes, you've guessed it. I have something I want to talk about. You see, in my world, it's the most antipated album of the year; but as you're probably aware already, i'm an utterly hopeless case, in desperate need of help. Shit. I have to be more optimistic than this. Just be thankful that I don't senerade you with tales of "The Office." Unfortunately, i'm talking about my place of world and not the... What can I say that hasn't already been said about Dan Snaith? I could talk about him being forced to change the name of his previous moinker...No, I don't need to waste even more of your time over that. I don't know what it is, but most of the reviews for "The Milk of Human Kindness" seem to be preoccupied with that "threat" of a lawsuit from Hansome Dick Manitoba (of The Dictators fame)...Who cares? Ok, so i'm talking about it, but I don't have a word limit.

Since you probably want to know what i'm blathering about, I think i'll get back to basics. Manitoba/Caribou is essentially, downbeat electronica and i'll be as honest with you as I can, as a general rule, I don't invest too much of my time into the world of abstract sampling and electronic noise. However, Dan Snaith is the exception (despite the fact that i've now totally started to understand the critical interest in Four Tet, but that's a different story)and for that reason alone he demands your attention. Caribou might not have progressed leaps and bounds from the journey that is it's predecesor ("Up in Flames") did, but it does take you on enough twists and turns to the trip worthwhile.

Of course, with records like this, you are presented with the obvious problem: If you obsessed about the previous record, how can you ever think objectively about the new material? Well, it's a good question I suppose. I can't access the sound of this record in the same way that I attempt to break down other records. The music builds up from moments of nothingness only to explode, and shatter into beautifully textured sounds and strange vocal effects. This is particuarly evident in the album's fantastic finale ("Barnowl") but the whole record is geared up in this way. From the military like drumming of "Brahminy Kite" to the lush string arrangments and dream like vocal warblings that characterise, "Hello Hammerheads." This is the soundtrack to a summer running around with reckless abandon, through heavily wooded areas with no clothes on whilst blindfolded, and covered with jam - I'VE NEVER DONE THAT!

It's also great for if you don't do stuff like that. The following track kinda sounds like "Hallogallo" alive and well again after time travelling back to Woodstock and taking some real acid. *ahem*

Caribou - Bees

Oh, and since we all have to stick together in this, i'd like to alert you to another fellow Leicestonian on the blogger network. Ben aka Stereo Sanctity - Yes, after the Sonic Youth track. Although i'm still jealous about him going to ATP this weekend, don't let that stop you reading.....I've only today been reading his interview with Oneida and his various lists, well, we all like lists - as long as they're not of the Channel 4 variety, of course.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Shot Hot Splitter to God

I've been regressing back into dirge of garage rock this week - if you excuse the Herbie Hancock meanderings - and well, it's been great. Reigning Sound for instance: Unabashadly reverencial and impossibly retro Stones worshipers; they're clearly not the bullprint or the standard; not even Roger Sargent couldn't change that: but what would I know, i'm not a genius like he is. Well, I still think they have something, so here we are. Actually, i'm being rather refrained. No, they have more than something. Why else would I be writing this for you to consume and dismiss? No, they're the crude, the clang and the beating heart - that's better. Never afraid to crank thinks up a notch, the sweet sound of dissonance and the sound of their buzzing guitar riffs is both immediate and long lasting; one spin of their most recent album, "Too Much Guitar" is enough to substaniate they're not just about clever album titles. The album runs in at just under forty minutes, but in that time you listening to some the sweetest stripped down rock and roll, that as just as good as those golden oldies - don't let anybody else tell you different.

Reigning Sound - You've Got Me Hummin

Their website can be found here. Anybody wishing to follow up on the excellent "Too Much Guitar" can do so, here

Thursday, April 14, 2005

You're a Cockeyed Cookie Pusher

A couple of us embarked on a bit of road-trip to Nottingham the other night to catch Fog in a rare UK performance (Damn You!). This time it was based at the downstairs of the Cabaret and what fun we had finding it - well, more fun than finding a parking space let me tell you! So what else did the night have to offer, I hear you cry? FIRE! A BLAZING INFERNO!? No, we all had to be evacuated due to the threat of fire, but there wasn't one. It scored three fire engines though. The guys from Fog took great pride in having their photos taken alongside said fire engines, whilst smoking; they also never tired of mentioning the fire - which never happened - whenever the opportunity arose during their set: "Did you guys check out the fire?"

Yeah, you really had to be there....

Fog aka Andrew Broder, is supposedly grounded in the world of lo-fi, post rock and turntablism, but in reality, well, they don't really have clear allegiences to any musical genre. I was told they they sound like - or have a least been compared - to artists like Will Oldham, Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement, and you know, that stirs your curiousity but they've got be compared to someone, haven't they? The worlds of electronica, hip-hop and post-rock really are tinkered with to a ridiculous degree; and while that's clearly how it should be, not many bands can pull it off, especially live. Fortunately, these guy do! Something interesting has either happened, or is just around the corner, and i've never seen anybody use a turntable as an instrument quite like Andrew Broder does. Disturbingly different, you might say. Anyway, their new album: "10th Avenue Freakout," is out the US now, and everywhere else in a couple of weeks - they have been selling copies at their shows, but everyone else will have to wait.

Fog - Pneumonia

Visit Fog online. You can actually buy (pre-order) the new album from their site, along with their other releases, of course.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Itchy, restless post-punk-funk spaziness

I have loads of stuff that I want to talk about. Firstly, the new issue of Plan B is fantastic. Ok, it's getting sold in HMV now, and they're obviously making serious reverbarations in the fickle world of music magazines; but still: i'd just like to support that fact, and maintain that there are some great articles on Nirvana, Arcade Fire and M Ward - to name a few. It's essential stuff, basically. Now the main thrust (I hardly ever get to use that word) of this piece is going to centre on Giant Haystacks (an American band with a Scottish singer) Projections (who include ex members of Cat on Form). Now, I was fortunate enough to catch both of these bands the other night in Nottingham (thanks again, Damn You!), and although they were slightly dwarfed by the scale of Thee More Shallows, they certainly weren't bettered. Are you ready? Then i'll begin.

Now up to this point in time, Projections have only played a handful of shows, but the current "mini - tour" with Oakland's own Giant Haystacks has gone some way to rectify this. Projectons are probably more well known for their past glories; Steve and Jamie used to be in Cat on Form. However, to say that Projections were born out of the ashes of Cat on Form is just a fact; I never actually got to see Cat on Form play live; and consequently, I don't really know what they sounded like live, but if the performance I witnessed on Friday night is any idication, I missed out, I missed out big time. Projections made some seriously intense - and what appeared to be improvised - noise, but you know, make up your own mind about that. Oh, and guys, I saved your mailing list from certain destruction at Bunkers Hill the other night. No need to thank me - Just keep me updated on that 7"

Projections - At a Distance
Cat on Form - Back Off Man, I'm a Scientist

I don't know if instantly warming to Giant Haystacks had something to do with what came before; don't get me wrong, Souvaris are obviously good at what they do, but they literally played what seemed like two tracks (?) and I was staring at the floor by the end of their set. They were certainly "post-rock" in the way that was alluded to me the night before, put it that way....Well, having said all that, the crowd at Bunkers Hill seemed to really appreciate them, so who knows. Anyway, Giant Haystacks are Nate on Drums, Daniel on Bass, and Allan on guitar. They all share vocal duties. During the gig the other night, it actually transpired that Giant Haystacks and Thee More Shallows came from the same town but that's not really an interesting story. What is interesting is how Giant Haystacks - on paper, at least - sound so shamelessly like a Mission of Burma and Minutemen ripoff band, but completely dispel any of that doubt through their live show; and, crucially, allow you to continue your (by which I mean me) obsession with their new album: Blunt Instrument. SO MUCH ENERGY! I was speaking to Daniel after the show, and he was really really pleased with how it turned out. It actually had to be sent by recording delivery to them only last week, and they're were concerns that it wouldn't be ready in time. Anyway, inbetween talking about the record, we had a chat about beer. You know, real beer. It was good.

Giant Haystacks - Catatonic State
Giant Haystacks - New Position

Look out for the Projection 7" when it comes out. Cat on Form released an album which you can buy at Southern Records, and you can buy Giant Haystacks records at their website, here.