Friday, October 6, 2017

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard - Murder Of The Universe (ATO, 2017)

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard
Murder Of The Universe
ATO
2017

Rating: 8 ice dragons out of 10

They're not quite in Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard territory, but King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard release a lot of records.  And what often happens in these cases is I get overwhelmed with keeping up/digesting their music, and eventually tune out.  According to Discogs this is their eighth full length in the last three years, three from just this year - and apparently they are planning on releasing two more before 2018 gets here!

Anyways, yadda yadda yadda, I somehow end up with a digital copy of "Murder of the Universe," popped it on for a listen I thought wouldn't make much of an impression, but was smitten from the start.  Technically there are twenty-one songs, but really it's just three intertwined epic jams titled "The Tale of the Altered Beast," "The Lord of Lightning vs. Balrog," and "Han-Tyumi and the Murder of the Universe."  As you might guess from those titles, the lyrical content is a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons-type silliness, or an even nerdier version of the shit all Led Zeppelin songs are about.  Lyrical content aside, the music is killer - the most perfect combination of kraut rock, prog, and "New Wave of British Heavy Metal"-esque heaviness.  The "Altered Beast" section is especially great, so driving and aggro and I'm pretty sure if I listened to it in my car I would start speeding right away.  Lots of spoken word narration through the whole thing - it's like someone did a mash-up with a "Lord of the Rings" audiobook and a rock band.  And shockingly, delightfully, it works. 

The whole record is pretty damn ridiculous, but I'm way into it.  Still on the fence?  There's a song called "Vomit Coffin."  Case closed.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble - Find Me Finding You (Drag City, 2017)

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble
Find Me Finding You

Drag City
2017

Rating: 7 lucky stars out of 10

I listened to so much Stereolab this summer, easily the most I've listened to since college when they might have been my most-played band, so it was kismet that Stereolab founder Laetitia Sadier released a new record "Find Me Finding You" under the group name Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble.  Outside of the tropicalia-inspired opening track "Undying Love for Humanity," there's no denying this is basically just an older, wiser, more mature version of Stereolab, musically speaking.  I don't mean to sell her former bandmates short, but the ears hear what they hear.  There's not quite as much synth on this album - it's more of a garnish here as opposed to the main course - but Laetitia's voice makes comparing this record to anything other than her classic outfit a real reach, and pointless.  Sure, if I want to hear Sadier I'm much more likely to grab "Mars Audiac Quintet" out of my collection first, but "Finding Me Finding You" fits in nicely with her oeuvre.

Thurston Moore - Rock N Roll Consciousness (Caroline International, 2017)

Thurston Moore
Rock N Roll Consciousness

Caroline International
2017

Rating: 7.5 hell youths out of 10

Thurston Moore, best known as the front man of Sonic Youth, has been known to get weird on some of his solo material.  To be honest, too weird for me a lot of the time...but that's not the case with "Rock N Roll Consciousness."  Maybe it was his split with Kim Gordon and the seeming end of one of the greatest indie rock bands of all time, but now instead of using his solo platform as an outlet for his more esoteric musical thoughts, it has apparently become the repository of what would have been Sonic Youth songs if the band still existed.  Pretty much every track here could have been featured on any album Sonic Youth released since the "Dirty" era, but especially their early oughts material like "Murray Street."  Hell, Steve Shelley even plays some (or all?) of the drums on this, so with two of the four members of the band involved it's as much a Sonic Youth record as it isn't.  The best song for my money is "Cease Fire," which technically isn't on the album unless you snag a Japanese version (and I think it might also be available when downloading), so seek this version out.   If you told me "Cease Fire" was a lost 20 year old classic by the band I wouldn't have questioned it for even a second.  

Your only decision when deciding if this album is for you is figuring out how much you want to hear a new Sonic Youth record, regardless of the name on the front cover.  A damn good new Sonic Youth record at that. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jeff Tweedy - Together At Last (dBpm, 2017)

Jeff Tweedy
Together At Last
dBpm
2017

Rating: 7.5 dairy high schools out of 10

Does the world really need an album of Jeff Tweedy performing (mostly) Wilco songs by himself with only an acoustic guitar?  Probably not.  Is it still great to listen to? Almost certainly.  Is the person asking these questions someone who has multiple solo Tweedy bootlegs in his CD collection, so his love of this was as certain as anything that has ever existed?  I may or may not have three bootlegs of him...or more.  Also, get off my back, man.

I'm not entirely sure what else needs to be reported here - the record sounds good and feels loose - I'm guessing Tweedy knocked this recording out in an afternoon, or at least it has that laid back vibe.  This is probably just a cash grab, but I don't care - the track list is good, with three tracks from their perfect record "Summerteeth," plus a couple of unexpected Loose Fur and Golden Smog jams.  This is obviously intended primarily for existing fans, and if you count yourself in that group, a worthy pick-up.  Bonus points: no Nels Cline solos. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Stephen Malkmus - Jo Jo's Jacket 7'' (Domino, 2001)

Stephen Malkmus
Jo Jo's Jacket 7''
Domino
2001

Rating: 7 missing neon signs out of 10

I was bummed when Pavement broke up, as most of their fans were, but pretty quickly Stephen Malkmus put out a self-titled record that sounded just like the last couple of Pavement records...and we knew the world would be ok.  The title track here is off of that album, and it's a damn good song.  Malkmus was always clearly very involved in shaping Pavement's sound, but when you hear his solo work it's very clear just how much influence he held.  My feelings are not nearly as strong on the flip track as they are for the title track - "Open And Shut Cases" - the lyrics of which mostly are just those four words in the title repeated over and over.  It is the epitome of a seven inch b-side: there, but barely. 

Side note: the label on my b-side is all jacked up...not sure if this was normal for this release, or I'm just "special."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Codeine / The Cocktails - Split 7'' (Simple Machines, 1993)

Codeine / The Cocktails
Split 7''
Simple Machines
1993

Rating: 7 log games out of 10

This appears to be the March 1993 entry of a monthly seven inch series that Simple Machines was doing at the time.  For the kids out there, Simple Machines was one of the best indie labels of the Mid-Atlantic area in the early nineties, back when communication dictated labels be pretty highly regional - these cats, Teenbeat and Merge all did a great job of documenting the scene between North Carolina and DC (with a few outlying bands mixed in there).  

Of course, after all that regional talk, this slab is a split between NYC (Codeine) and Chicago (The Cocktails).  My overall point still stands though, your honor!  The Codeine song "Ides" would later be featured on their best album, "The White Birch" - as you might guess from the word "best," I'm a fan of this jam.  The b-side from the Cocktails is a bit of sillyness called "Working Holiday," which is also the name of the seven inch series.  It does have a loung/kitsch vibe, but not the same sort of lounge/kitsch vibe the Cocktails were famous for.  Not terrible, but slightly off. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ISS - Endless Pussyfooting (State Laughter, 2017)

ISS
Endless Pussyfooting
State Laughter
2017

Rating: 8 offgassing plastic trays out of 10

The duo known as ISS, aka Rich (of Bodykit, formerly Whatever Brains) and Eddie (of Brain F≠), are as confounding and interesting a band as you'll come across today.  I'm doing this one in bullet points because I'm not entirely sure how to put all of these thoughts together...
 - The music is made mostly of samples of punk songs, with some additional synth here and there.
 - The results span everything from industrial to punk to noise to god knows what else; Imagine Liars meets Les Savy Fav meets the Fall meets...fuck, there's a lot going on here and I can't even begin to pinpoint it all.  If you ever listened to Whatever Brains, imagine a dancier, crazier version of that band.
 - What sounds like a potential hot mess is actually quite catchy.  Calling this music catchy might actually anger Rich.  
 - "The Gov't Is After Me" is one of my favorite songs of the year.  
 - This cassette-only release has 14 songs in 21 minutes...there's no fluff to be found.  There is supposed to be a vinyl release in the future though, and fingers crossed no lawsuits from all the samples.  This would be great because I sold my car that had a tape deck.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ernst And The Edsholm Rebels - Doomsday Troops EP (Loud Punk, 2013)

Ernst And The Edsholm Rebels
Doomsday Troops EP

Loud Punk
2013

Rating: 5 Mexican air conditioners out of 10

This is a reissue of this EP by Ernst And The Edsholm Rebels, the first pass being self-released in 1984 and worth a damn fortune apparently (if you consider a fortune somewhere between $100 and $200 dollars).  I'll be totally honest, I grabbed this out of the used bin and thought it was actually a seven inch by the great Eater, what with the way the band wrote their name and all.  Still, it's an ok slab, five songs of hardcore punk in typical early eighties fashion - the band might be Swedish, but the songs aren't.  This has never been one of my favorite styles of punk, but I bet they were a lot of fun live.  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions (Concord, 2017)

The New Pornographers
Whiteout Conditions
Concord
2017

Rating: 7.5 melted ice cubes out of 10

I love pretty much everything about the pop stylings of the New Pornographers, but there are two things I love most about them - the inclusion of Dan Bejar and Neko Case.  In fact, while I normally quite like AC Newman (and I'm well aware that he's the real brains behind this endeavor), sometimes I get mad that he is singing songs that those two could be performing instead.  Which isn't particularly fair, because most of his tracks are aces too... they're just not Dan and/or Neko.  Few are. 

Anyways, "Whiteout Conditions" is the seventh record by this ragtag supergroup, making the New Pornographers more stable and longer-lasting than most of groups from which the band members are actually "appearing."  In a lot of ways this is more of the same from TNP - upbeat, catchy, and very poppy songs (that some people and/or reviewers like to call power pop even though it isn't power pop at all in my opinion, but I admit I'm a bit of an old school purist with that genre term), but with a couple of key differences: no Dan Bejar (boo!!!), who was busy on the new Destroyer album apparently (yay!!!); and it's way more upbeat/electronic than the band typically is.  One of life's great pleasures is hearing a country crooner like Neko belting out a dance pop jam like album opener "Play Money."   

Long story short, if you're already a fan you know you're going to pick up "Whiteout Conditions" anyways; and if you've never listened, I reckon it's as good a place to start as any.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Spider Bags - Hey Delinquents 7'' (Daggerman, 2008)

Spider Bags
Hey Delinquents 7''
Daggerman
2008

Rating: 6.5 closed motels out of 10

Spider Bags first seven inch!  It's fine - not as good as the band they would become a few years after this, but still totally listenable and worth checking out if you randomly happen across it like I did.  Both the title track (also available on the full-length "Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World") and the b-side "Professionals" are mid-tempo affairs, kinda intentionally loose and sloppy (a descriptor that would fit their entire catalog), but not real strong in the hooks department.  Start with 2012's "Shake My Head" if you want to hear this great band once they hit full stride.  I'm not saying they got better because they moved to North Carolina, but...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Superchunk - I Got Cut 7'' (Merge, 2017)

Superchunk
I Got Cut 7''
Merge
2017

Rating: 8.5 dead eye lights out of 10

I suppose it's only fitting the the 600th (!) release on Merge records would be from label founders, stalwarts, and owners Superchunk.  Moreover, this seven inch was also a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, with all proceeds from the limited run of 500 going to help the beleaguered organization.  Good on Merge and Superchunk for doing the right thing, and good on me for buying this slab right away because it sold out pretty damn quick.  

Anyways, the record itself - the title track on side A is a fairly punk affair, sounding like an old Chunk song with a chorus that reminds me of the Damned's "Smash It Up."  If that's not a ringing endorsement I don't know what is because everyone loves that damn Damned song.  The flip side is "Up Against The Wall," a cover of a Tom Robinson Band track that I quite liked.  To be honest my only knowledge of Tom Robinson was their one hit "2-4-6-8 Motorway," but now I'm going to make a point to listen to the original.   

Monday, July 3, 2017

Spiral Stairs - Doris & The Daggers (Nine Mile, 2017)

Spiral Stairs
Doris & The Daggers
Nine Mile
2017

Rating: 7.5 wizard balls out of 10

Spiral Stairs aka Scott Kannberg aka the other dude from Pavement who sings occasionally doesn't appear to be in any hurry when it comes to music or life in general.  His last release was "The Real Feel" in 2009, and since then he's moved around the world and seemingly just enjoyed life without worrying about any music industry bullshit.  I'm not sure if that time off was a necessary recharge that was needed to produce this damn fine record "Doris & The Daggers," or if I should be mad I had to wait nearly a decade to get another recording from him, but I guess better late than never.  The Pavement pedigree is clearly there in most of these songs, especially if you've listened to that band as much as I have, but it's mixed with a mature Kiwi-pop vibe, be that intentional or I'm just imagining shit because I've been listening to a lot of New Zealand pop lately.  You know, the Verlaines and the Bats and the Clean and all those other amazing bands that all your favorite musicians love but don't get nearly enough recognition from the general public.  "The Unconditional" is probably my top jam here, followed closely by "AWM" and "Dance(Cry Wolf)"...it's all pretty much gold though.  Scott had a ton of well known musicians show up on this, folks from the National, Shudder to Think, Broken Social Scene, Kelley Stoltz, and plenty more.

Spiral Stairs was great live too, when I saw him recently.  If he happens to play in your town I would get my butt to the venue because god knows when the next time will be that he decides to record and tour again...might be next year, might be in 2030.  

Also: it's never been clear to me if Spiral Stairs in this case is intended as a nickname for Scott, since he went by it in the early years of Pavement, or if it's the name of the band.  I'm treating it as his name, but given my track record I'm probably wrong. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Natural Causes / Sponge Bath - Split 7'' (Acid Etch, 2017)

Natural Causes / Sponge Bath
Split 7''
Acid Etch
2017

Rating: 7 reddish-brown bubbles out of 10

Local synth-punkers Natural Causes drop this seven inch at almost the same time as their excellent self-titled second record.  Why release this non-album song in this format instead of just including it on their full-length where I would likely hear it much more often?  Beats me, musicians gonna musician and their actions often don't make any sense to a non-musical ding dong like me.  Regardless, good track - this might be them at their Magazine-iest.  The b-side is a cover/remix by the group Sponge Bath of one of Natural Causes' songs from that previously mentioned second album.  This version sounds like Ministry or something WaxTrax would have released in the early nineties.  I've been waiting for more people* other than Liars to start really mining this particular genre and era; this style definitely suits Natural Causes' songs. 

*There are probably already a whole shitload of people doing this and I'm just not aware, but I never claimed to be up to date on all the latest shit, man.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Future Islands - The Far Field (4AD, 2017)

Future Islands
The Far Field
4AD
2017

Rating: 8 tragic publicists out of 10

My first thought was "This new Future Islands record is really good, I should write about it on my stupid website."

My second thought was "It's good, but it basically sounds exactly like everything they've released since 'In Evening Air'."

My third thought was "Who gives a shit?  Why would you be upset that they made more songs that sound like songs you already love?"

My fourth thought was "You're right, me.  Who gives a shit indeed.  This is awesome, and I'm probably going to listen to it a ton."

And then my final thought was "The last thing anyone needs is a doofus like me writing about this new Future Islands record."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Doug Tuttle - Peace Potato (Trouble In Mind, 2017)

Doug Tuttle
Peace Potato
Trouble In Mind
2017

Rating: 7 really thick milkshakes out of 10

Doug Tuttle was in both Mmoss and Wildildlife, two bands with misspelled names that I tried listening to over the years but they never quite got their hooks into me.  He's still stuck on intentionally misspelling names (clearly, his actual last name is Turtle), but finally I'm digging his output.  Maybe he's matured, maybe my tastes have changed, but who gives a fuck really.  Doug is doing that dreamy, soft-pop thing that many musicians attempt only to be...boring most of the time.  Tuttle isn't boring though, the songs are quite catchy and just weird/odd enough at times to keep you on your toes.  These ears hear "Wish You Were Here" era Pink Floyd, the Radar Bros, and some of Grandaddy's mellower output - your mileage may vary though.  Now I'm really kicking myself for being to lazy to go see him a few weeks back, I bet it was great...and could have been even greater if you were allowed to watch the performance laid back in a lawn chair.  This is great summertime lawn chair music.  I wish you could watch all shows laid back in a lawn chair, to be fair.