Aug 31, 2010

Dolly Mixture. Peel Session. August 7, 1979.

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1. A Dream Come True
2. Ernie Ball
3. He’s So Frisky
4. New Look Baby
5. The Locomotion
6. Theme From Dolly Mixture

Germs of Youth records has put out a limited vinyl reissue of Dolly Mixture's Demonstration Tapes, hand stamped and signed by the band. They're only making 300, so hurry.

Peel Session

Aug 30, 2010

Another Sunny Day. Demos.

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1. Eternal
2. Her Friend
3. I Guess I'm the One Who's To Blame
4. I Want You
5. It's OK if You Don't Want Me
6. The Boy from St. Ives
7. What's Wrong


Aug 28, 2010

The Golden Dawn. George Hamilton's Dead.

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Sarah 017
Released: 1989
01: George Hamilton's Dead
02: The Sweetest Touch
03: Let's Build A Dyson Sphere

George Hamilton

Aug 27, 2010

Great Lakes. Great Lakes.

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From back when references to “the collective” meant Elephant 6, not Animal.

Actually, The Great Lakes were on Kindercore, but this album does feature most of of Montreal and Elf Power in guest spots, and Robert Schneider of the Apples In Stereo produced it. In fact, of Montreal’s Jamey Huggins was an official member of both bands, and when I first encountered the two groups playing a double bill, nobody seemed all that concerned with which one they belonged to. At one point, this enormous hillbilly-looking guy (wearing nothing but overalls and a beard) wandered out of the crowd, climbed onto the stage and played a gorgeous French Horn solo. I assume he was friends with the band, but they were weird times.

Of Montreal had just put out The Gay Parade and were having a lot of fun onstage with wild costume changes and confetti, but the Great Lakes put on a more musically powerful set with great, blooming swirls of well orchestrated psychedelia. If you were into the Athens scene at the time, you know that this style was not exactly in short supply, but while the Great Lakes shared a common chemical makeup with the rest of the collective, they cooked the ingredients with a little more care. None of these songs spiral out into the directionless abstractions of Olivia Tremor Control, nor do they share the latent prog tendencies of the Apples, or of Montreal’s penchant for twee storytelling. A bit like The Essex Green crossed with The Zombies, their songs are buoyant affairs built on vivid layers of swaying melodies that float and drift like an early morning dream. Storming and Become the Ship have a nautical flair, and An Easy Life and Virgil recall the Beatle’s habit of incorporating British music hall elements in their psych-pop (it occurs to me nearly every song on here echoes the relaxed footfalls of that band’s Fixing a Hole or Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, which is a pace I have no problem keeping up with). Elsewhere, A Banana’s gentle synths sigh and flutter like a leaf tumbling through the cool fall air.

It’s a non-stop parade of elegant, sunny pop and retro joy, and although they never achieved the (relative) fame of their scene-mates, it’s still some of the best music the Elephant 6 had to offer.

Great Lakes

Aug 26, 2010

The Driscolls. The Complete Recordings.

5 Blurts

Update 9/8/10: I've uploaded a new copy of the file and redirected the link. If any of you still have problems with it, let me know.

Other than a skeletal entry on Tweenet, there's not a lot of information about these guys to be found. I'm pretty sure they were from Bristol, and a several of their singles were released by Tea Time Records, a label they started with one of my favorite lost bands, Mousefolk. Like a lot of 80s indie groups, they seemed to exist mostly on compilations, appearing on at least fifteen different tapes (including Airspace II, Are You Ready?, Corrupt Postman, and Something's Burning In Paradise). They have a 60's garage pop sound that can fall anywhere between the Kinksian Mrs. Jones to the walloping Call Me Anything. Groovy Little Town was probably their biggest "hit", and like most of their tunes it's a total earworm.

I love that they haven't even bothered to even change their set dressing between these two videos (probably couldn't afford to).

Girl, I Want You Back

Groovy Little Town

Complete Recordings

Aug 13, 2010

Acid Mother's Temple & The Cosmic Inferno. Iao Chant From the Cosmic Inferno.

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For some unfathomable reason, iTunes lists this as being Responding to the Treasures of Faith from the album, Staying On the Road to God. That may not be too far off. Kawabata Makoto has often paid tribute to his musical heroes and fellow travelers by adapting their music to his own transcendental wavelengths. He’s built entire albums around Popol Vuh’s Hosianna Mantra and Terry Riley’s In C. Here, he goes a step further, turning Gong's Master Builder into an epic shamanistic journey of heavy-metal astral-projection. It's like the Boredoms' Vision Creation Newsun being possessed by early Hawkwind. Introduced by an unaccompanied chorus of solemn Buddhist chants, the track quickly explodes out of the gate with the furiously head-banging "OM Riff", never stopping to look back for the next fifty-one minutes.

If you're new to the Acids, this might be a relatively safe introduction. Their trademark layering of spacey electronics, rocket powered riffage, and propulsively thunderous drumming is all here, but where they can occasionally wander off into aimless, free-form chaos on record, this comes the closest to capturing their rapturous live sound. On OM, their path to religious ecstasy is pretty well plotted. Although they take the opportunity to travel from space rock through prog, Celtic and Asian folk influences, ambient drone, and full-on psychedelic racket, they never meander. Each section evolves naturally out of the previous one. Oliver Sacks wrote about the way migraines arrive fully formed, but distant. The whole experience is there, but it's like watching it approach from the horizon until it envelopes you. Similarly, the various styles the Acids traverse are all inherent in the preceding sections. They're just drawing them out as they go along.

Recorded in the midst of line-up changes, the band takes the opportunity to sum up their deep history as well as use Gong’s source material to propel them into new territories. Elements of their outer-space freakouts have been stripped down to their essential bits and channeled through the OM Riff’s monster-sized bad-assery, imbuing them with a singular vision and sense of purpose. Kawabata is unquestionably a guitar god, although his usual style has little to do with the specific notes he's playing. It's all about the feel of the song, or more accurately, channeling whatever he's feeling—which is probably something like growing to be 5000 feet tall and reaching through the heavens to grapple with the infinities of atom-smashing, burning star cores of the universe. When he’s really on, he can make you feel it too. By the time the OM Riff crashes in again for the final third of the album, it’s pulled elements of all the preceding movements along in its gravitational wake. This is the true sound of the Cosmic Inferno. Kawabata’s soloing like a maniac, his controls set for the heart of the sun. Higashi Hiroshi’s electronics could be an Aurora Borealis of scintillating scotomas; or just as likely, you’ve gone subterranean, and what you thought were shimmering stars was a wildly writhing mass of glowworms. And Shimura Koji and Okano Futoshi power the entire trip with their dual, hammer-of-the-gods drumming.

This is pure, glorious, brain-melting exhilaration all the way, and easily one of the top five albums in the Acid’s sprawling Temple.

Here's the original version by Gong. Now imagine that stretched out for nearly an hour and played by Dr. Manhattan on an LSD freakout.

Iao Chant

Aug 11, 2010

Ifwhen. Null Set.

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Sometime after posting All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavor’s Turning Into Small, I got an email from guitarist Merc letting me know that he and drummer Brian Doherty had a new band called Ifwhen. Actually, they’ve been around since 2003, but they do have a new EP that’s available as a free download from their website. I’ve got it linked below in mp3 format, but if you head over there you can also get it in FLAC, plus download their cover of Syd Barrett’s No Good Trying.

Ifwhen doesn’t sound exactly like ANL&LF, but it does sound like its natural progression. The shoegaze and post-rock elements have become very compressed, and the songs are more jaggedly three-dimensional. There’s a geometric feel to it, as if they aren’t playing melodies, but unspooling the schematics of theoretical architecture from an AUTOCAD machine that’s just finished reading House of Leaves.

The logic/programming implications of their name become readily apparent in the multifaceted intersections of sound and direction. Each song is a maze of possibilities being explored simultaneously. It verges on noise, but like ANL&LF, Ifwhen is always revolving around and reflecting a solid pop core through its many twirling prisms. It’s the Everlasting Gobstopper of ear candy. It’s still highly disorienting—psychotically (psychedelically) schizoid, like listening to Barrett, Belong and Melt Banana all at the same time—but they really are working to fuck your shit up for your own good. They’re trying to change your perception.

And they can do it, too. Unlike most post-MBV bands, Ifwhen don’t compose based on volume, or reverb, or textures, or shades of color. They aren’t feeling things out improvisationally, they’re reconfiguring the actual internal structure of the music. Keyboardist Mary McDowell can actually play in two different time signatures (one with each hand) at the same time. And Merc’s guitar has a way of constantly folding in on itself like origami that never resolves into known shapes. Everything is oblique without being obfuscatory. The hidden song structures will slowly crystallize on repeated listens as you learn to navigate their psychohedron space.

Null Set

Aug 7, 2010

Another Sunny Day. What's Happened?

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Sarah 016
Released: 1989
01: What's Happened?
02: Can't You Tell It's True?
03: Impossible?

What's Happened?

Aug 5, 2010

V/A. Wig In a Box.

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The Religious Right Can Suck My Left One.

In honor of yesterday's victory for equality in California, here's the incomparable Hedwig and The Origin of Love.

I once spent an entire evening standing next to John Cameron Mitchell at a Breeder's concert thinking, "Hey that guy looks familiar. Do I know him from somewhere?", and then he climbed on stage and they tore through Angry Inch and I felt like a dork, especially since I missed the opportunity to ask him if he autographed body parts.

The Breeders, along with a slew of alternative icons1 contribute covers and tribute songs to this wonderful little compilation that benefited the Harvey Milk School for LGBTQ youth. And as much as I love the original Origin, I think Rufus Wainwright may have recorded the definitive version. Also, if I ever became president, I would put all my effort into reuniting Sleater-Kinney and possibly getting them to make Fred Schneider at least a semi-permanent member of the band.

OK, all my effort after ensuring that LGBTQ Americans had full equality under the law. The ruling striking down California's bigoted Prop 8 is a great and important victory, but unfortunately it's still only another small step towards truly egalitarian civil rights. The pro-hate crowd will continue to fight this until it ends up in the Supreme Court, where real justice is iffy at this point. You can help by joining with or donating to groups like The Courage Campaign, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

1. Frank Black, Robyn Hitchcock, The Polyphonic Spree, Spoon, Imperial Teen, TMBG, Cyndi Lauper (who absolutely tears the roof off on Midnight Radio), Yo La Tengo, Yoko Ono, etc.

Wig In a Box

Aug 3, 2010

Tunnelrunners Update

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Madoc Roberts—leader of the rip-roarin’ DIY punkers The Tunnelrunners—contacted me to let me know that Sing Sing is considering a release of their remaining songs, though nothing is certain yet. If you have a record player, go and order the Plastic Land seven inch and let Sing Sing know there’s an audience waiting to hear the rest of their material. With their incredibly catchy melodies and adrenaline-fueled playing, I’m astonished these guys aren’t remembered as punk superstars. Even today, it’s one of the best releases I’ve heard all year, so don’t let them down this time.