Thursday, May 01, 2008

Heavy Rotation; New MP3 Section

So we figured we could kill two birds with one stone here-- First off, we wanted to do another one of our Heavy Rotation posts so that we could share some MP3s from some of the records we've been listening lately. But as we started to put this post together, we realized that we would probably post MP3s on here a lot more regularly if we could do it in a format other than a main page blog post, considering that we mostly like to use the main page for It lists and reviews, etc. And with that, our WSJR Mp3 Section became a reality. If you take a look at the side bar (just below Sally's pictures), you'll see the new section. We'll be regularly adding MP3s over there along with short descriptions to let you know what the hell it is we're inviting you to download-- local stuff, non local stuff, music posted on other blogs (always properly credited of course), and basically anything we feel like. Below are some MP3s from albums we've been digging lately, and you can find all the corresponding MP3s for my selections over in the new section, kind of as a test run. Hope you enjoy.

STONEDRANGER

Diskjokke, Staying In: Diskjokke's Staying In is all over the place stylistically, and it's a success because of it. To describe the entire record in a single, succinct statement, you would have to say something like "the sound of Chicago house underwater, Roland 303s with disco house grooves filtered through the sheen of a slight yet distinct synth pop influence." But what kind of pretentious fuck would say some shit like that? A more practical person might applaud the record for it's potential to introduce some of these damn blog house kids to late 80's Warp IDM, jack house, and bedroom synth pop. The reason the record is able accomplish this is because it's comparatively downtempo flow is injected with healthy doses of four on the floor beats and distorted, 80's pop influenced synths, both of which might make it a potential gateway drug for kids who have spent one too many nights on European MP3 blogs run by hip beauty queens.

The Boats, Our Small Ideas: Small ideas indeed. This music is quiet and tender and slow and innocent, but the great thing about it is that it isn't exactly happy go lucky, nor is it free of the kind of underlying tension that can make such delicate music so much more compelling. When I first heard this record, what I marveled at most was it's textures-- beautiful acoustic stretches with echoing bells and chimes, xylophones, toy pianos and synth parts, all wrapped in extraordinary minimal beats, electronic crackles and whispered, uneasy sounding vocals. It's like nursery rhymes on an unusually pleasant psychedelic come down, and it is absolutely perfect for certain moments in your life. Trust me.

Lamps, s/t: I'm not sure if Los Angeles' Lamps are part of the whole Smell scene, but regardless, they seem to be a band that has been largely overlooked in the recent west coast punk gold rush. This is basically sloppy, loud punk rock that often leans in a metal direction, taking cues from bands like the Wipers, Flipper and Jesus Lizard while adding new stylistic elements that make it sound far from a retro novelty. Fans of bands liked Pissed Jeans, Clockcleaner and Abe Vigoda will dig this stuff.

Yelle, Pop Up: Pretty much any way you slice it, this record is probably really hatable for a lot of people. Trendy French girls take little pieces of favela beats, American R&B, disco and distorted French house music and mash them all together with a post-modern imperialist detachment and a keen fashion sense that all but screams "gimmick." The result is nothing but guilty as fuck pleasure dance pop that simultaneously mocks and flirts with the listener until you just give in and realize that you like this stuff a lot more than you're probably willing to admit. Sort of like that ex you keep crawling back to.

Sex Vid, Rough Mix: Fuck. Although I pretty much grew up on hardcore, it's rare that straight up hardcore bands not named Black Flag really catch my ear these days. However, Olympia, WA group Sex Vid is one of the exceptions to this rule. "Tapped Out," the track I've included in the MP3 section for download, really doesn't do anything new with hardcore punk, but it sure does a lot of things right. An explanation as to why this group is so good really doesn't go very far beyond their precise intensity, but it has been a long time since I've heard a punk band sound so ferocious yet so smart.

Lamborghini Crystal, various downloaded tapes: People who think Ariel Pink is a little bit too pop might just fall in love with this one man act. Founded as a side project by a member of tape label superstars The Skaters, this is psychedelic rock music for people who divide their time equally between books about John Cage and Youtube clips of Beavis and Butthead. Most of the project's releases come in the form of 30 or 40 minute collages, but I've managed to provide you with a brief sample of some of the work-- fading in and out of highly contradictory styles such as funk, straight up heavy metal, noise, and blurry psychedelic rock, this music incorporates found sound, tv samples and some of the most screwed up production values you've ever heard, creating a world all it's own while making you wonder exactly what world you are currently existing in. Very strange and highly recommended.

DEFENSIVE LISTENING

Horse Plus Donkey, LFL:Another one of those Austin bands you never hear anything about until you suddenly realize they're better than just about every Austin export that garners attention. This track exemplifies Horse Plus Donkey's wild, shaky, psyche rock with a detuned nihilism and some very grabbing rhythmic bait and switch. They've gone very Morriconne lately and settled in a more mature atmospheric environment, however they still leave most bands tackling similar territory in ashes. LINK

Book Of Love, I Touch Roses (Full Bloom Version):
Great version of a signature track by this impossibly syrupy dance pop act. This extended and reworked mix of the song takes the group's sugary elements to an even further extreme. Mostly including this to see if I can get my ass kicked at a Last Men show. Grr. LINK

Die Doraus Und Die Marinas, ArrividerciThough this album closer's dubby sound is very dissimilar to the rest of the Und Die Marinas record, I think it's intriguing enough to make you want to track down the rest of the otherworldly German New Wave/Pop oddity. The almost gaudy synth over the high-hat, rim-shot, and bass trickle would be fine by themselves floating off infinitely together, but you get the added bonus of the earnest crooning of the lovable Doraus himself, along with some random female vocalizing that brings to mind the co-ed work of Gainsbourg at his sleaziest, whether or not this couple is actually speaking in pillow talk. LINK

Zeni Geva, 10,000 Light Years: Fairly overlooked as a Neurot Records band, lead guitarist and Godzilla-like lead vocalist KK Null has had a decorated career with everyone from Japanese noise acts to some stateside terrorizers as well. This epic piece of power trio devastation makes most stoner and doom records seem anemic. LINK

Family Fodder, Emergency: One of those lovely bands that Britain produced in the late 70's (I refuse to use that word that came after punk) that dipped and dove through so many genres and styles, as to render them as undefinable as unpopular. However, Family Fodder's music has stood up so well through the decades that it will blow your mind that no label has ever had the smarts to reissue every second of their work. Originally starting off as a four-track project, then transforming into a revolving collective that eventually boasted members of This Heat and The Homosexuals, the group pulled one of my favorite moves by covering a Blondie song ("Sunday Girl") while it was freshly popular, and their early predominantly female and bilingual vocal approach would influence groups such as Electrelane and Stereolab. This isn't a track from that era, but one that speaks more to the group's impressively progressive attitude that sounds eerily contemporary. I've gladly forked over sixty five dollars apiece for this group's full lengths and twelve inches, and I suggest a healthy obsession with them if this is the first you have heard of them. LINK

RAREBIT

Castanets, In The Vines: Spare, pedal-steel Americana clashes head-on with frazzled white noise, ambient washes & pulses, and other imaginative twists, turning a batch of already-solid, heartfelt paeans into something altogether fresh and spectacular from this amorphous ensemble led by Ray Raposa. Tenaciously clinging to the meaning and feel of its timeless rustic core, the avant-tweakery of In the Vines always embellishes, enhances, and expands, and never sidetracks. This was shockingly unheralded by the indie media at large. Maybe Raposa needs a better agent or something.LINK

Taken Girls, The Best of All Possible Worlds: Primitive unlearnings from this Portland, Ore., trio, who weave together seemingly unrelated scrapes, thuds, and fractured, detuned guitar squeals into something magical. Murky, threatening, and vibrant at the same time, the Taken Girls’ debut recalls Sonic Youth’s Confusion Is Sex m.o., as well as lo-fi New Zealand improv such as Handful of Dust, Dadamah, or Flies Inside the Sun, but rarely have even those NZ signposts put together anything as compelling as this. Eric Matchett’s freshly untrained percussion bridges the oft-prepared guitars of Dan Cohoon (Moral Crayfish) and Jacob Anderson, who unleash practically all the creativity afforded by six strings of amplified metal. For once, Pangloss was spot-on. You can download the album for free here, or buy the physical and download for free here. LINK

Death Ambient, Drunken Forest: Helmed by a trio of improv giants (Fred Frith, Ikue Mori, Kato Hideki), Death Ambient refreshingly returns after a long hiatus with the same incidental, playful, non-professional approach so many successful (and non-successful) underground DIY travelers have taken in recent years. An aural inventory includes organic drones, hand percussion, field recordings, evocative banjo, mournful violin, reverberating ukulele, and mutant electronic crackles, hums, and other indescribable permutations, but that doesn’t do justice to Drunken Forest’s vivid imagery, cinematic flair, and overall thrilling ride that is never ambient in the passive listening sense. Death Ambient is like a sad, precise chamber trio jamming with the natives in the middle of a noxious swamp enveloped in brain-altering mists. Riveting.LINK

THAT ONE GUY

Big Geminii – History In The Making: I must admit I don’t know much about Big Geminii beyond the fact that he is a rapper from Dallas, but probably the biggest mystery for me is exactly why I like this album so much. Big Geminii is an average rapper with an average voice at best, and this album isn’t really bringing anything new to the table on the hustlin’, thuggin’, lady lovin’, and a couple of “inspirational” tracks front. Still, it all moves along rather smoothly with a fair number of hooks that are hard to pry out of your head and, for the most part, holds it’s own with other recent, high profile “party thug” albums from the likes of Flo Rida, Rocko, and Shorty Lo. In the end, though, I think I just really like hearing people rap about Dallas, and this will have to do until Tum Tum makes a new record. "Dallas"

Cut Copy – Lights & Music: My apologies to Neon Neon, The Presets, and a handful of other strong contenders, but this is hands down my favorite electro pop full-length so far this year. In sharp contrast to the borderline pastiches of their debut, Cut Copy have released a true album full of an organic, “proper band” take on the dominant strains of electronic music circa 2008 (think this year’s Klaxons with more listenable tunes). Look for the title track to be one of the inescapable hipster dance anthems of the summer. "Lights and Music"

Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight: It was a toss up between this and the new Elbow album for the “maudlin indie rock from Great Britain” spot, but this album edges out a win due to my recent angst being not quite so widescreen. Collapsing relationships, random drunken sex, religious questing, suicide, Frightened Rabbit hit all the self-pity greatest hits, but with a definite ear for an anthemic sing-a-long. It’s a great choice when you’re listening to music obnoxiously loud at one in the morning on a Wednesday with nothing but a quickly emptying bottle of cheap whiskey for company. Your neighbors will love it. "The Modern Leper"

Pulp – This Is Hardcore: Deluxe Edition: I finally broke down recently and picked up the “Deluxe Edition” versions of Pulp’s “big three” albums (His ‘N’ Hers, Different Class, and This Is Hardcore) that came out in the UK a couple of years ago, and I think I’ve decided that, contrary to popular belief, This Is Hardcore is actually their best album. Maybe I’ve just grown in to the cocaine comedown soundtrack vibe, maybe my cracks are starting to show, but if given a choice, I would much rather hear “I’m A Man” or “Sylvia” than “Common People” at this point in my life. Plus, with the “Deluxe Edition,” you get “Laughing Boy,” my favorite Pulp B-side of EVER. "Laughing Boy"

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lamborghini Crystal rewards patience.....some of it is utter crap but some of what rises to the surface is pretty spectacular. What's really bizarre is that some of their tapes only come through the left channel which could mean they are mixing down the masters into some non-stereo tape recorder (an answering machine maybe or radio shack casette recorder?).

9:06 AM  
Anonymous blixaboy said...

That Death Ambient record is great.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

vomit fuckin' comet

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Tim Duncan said...

big up Horse + Donkey...rock on!

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the lamps!!!!

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gazelle

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHERE ARE YOU?

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pulp's "Laughing Boy" is a great song when you have been up all night until 8:45 am in the morning working on broken cars.

Really like the Fred Frith MP3 too.

thanks DL

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DL, do you really feel qualified to comment on the doom genre at all? I know owning two Boris records and a couple of Kyuss mp3's might make you feel ahead of the curve in credibility as an indie rock journalist, but.... come on dude.

Sure, Zeni Geva > The Sword and all but there are faaaar heavier, monolithic, and punishing doom bands out there.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly Zeni Geva doesnt do all that much for me, especially that record, despite KK Null's nice body of work overall.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own no Boris or Kyuss "mp3's." About 95% of the music I own (keyword) is on record, tape, or compact disc and that still doesn't include those two bands. So maybe you can tell me something about that. I didn't say that Zeni Geva was a doom band, I just gave my opinion that they rock more than most doom bands.

3:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, but do you really feel that well informed on the genre to make such a statement? What bands do Zeni Geva 'out-doom'? Why even compare the two if you don't consider them a part of the genre. Apples to Oranges....

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't even consider Kyuss doom, so whatever. You know what would be more constructive? I'll tell you some doom shit I actually have listened to on purpose: Oakeater, Khanate, Monarch, and Grief all come to mind as very appealing examples of the genre. What's an "indie rock journalist?"

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck, I'll just make you a damn cd-r and give it to you next time I see you.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Lester Burlap said...

The Family Fodder track is amazing.

6:09 PM  

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