Thursday, September 29, 2011

GG King - Esoteric Lore (Rob's House, 2011)

GG King
Esoteric Lore
Rob's House

Rating: 6 metaphysical magazines out of 10

GG King used to sing for the Carbonas.  the Carbonas were awesome.  Now GG King sings for GG King.  GG King is...well, not as awesome as the Carbonas, but definitely decent.  This album doesn't have the hooks that the Carbonas had - it's a little weirder, more off-kilter, and kinda reminds me of that early eighties punk that would occasionally cross over into hardcore, like Black Flag or the Germs or well, a shitload of other bands.  I have no proof but I suspect this might have been recorded on one of those old seventies tape recorders, housed inside of a giant tin can, and placed way on the other side of the room from where the band was playing.  This is probably awesome live though.  Hopefully he comes to town and I can find out for myself. 

Allo Darlin' - Darren 7" (Self-Released, 2011)

Allo Darlin'
Darren 7"

Rating: 7 golden arms out of 10

I have a well established love of British music where you can hear the accents when they sing.  I've also got a well established love of twee music.  So Allo Darlin' fall right into my sweet spot.  This self-released seven inch is fantastic, both sides.  Side A, "Darren", is apparently about the singer of Hefner Darren Hayman.  It opens up with furious hand-clapping and is catchy as hell.  Side B is apparently an old song actually written by Hayman called "Wu Tang Clan".  It might be about the iconic hip hop group, but not surprisingly it sounds nothing like them.  It's about as white a song as you could ever come up with about rappers, and it's quite good.  I'd be curious if any of them have heard the song, and their reactions. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lambchop - Turd Goes Back: Essential Tracks from Secret Secret Sourpuss & Big Tussie (Grapefruit Record Club, 2011)

Turd Goes Back: Essential Tracks from Secret Secret Sourpuss & Big Tussie
Grapefruit Record Club

Rating: 6 pooped hula girls out of 10

This Lambchop record is not your typical release - it's part of a subscription-based club and obviously somewhat hard to come by, unless you have said subscription.  I've never been much a of a gambler so these sorts of clubs where you pay a chunk of money up front but don't know what you'll be sent never appealed to me, though I do like them in theory.   This particular release, to quote the label's website " an assemblage of Kurt Wagner’s early recordings, taken from two rare cassettes."  And it sounds like it - specifically, the audio quality makes it sound like those cassettes were inside of an answering machine or something worse.  This is definitely a "die hard fans only" type of release, but then again anyone going to the trouble of seeking this out probably fits that moniker.  There are still a few gems on this - early versions of "My Cliche" and "Soaky in the Pooper" are nice to hear, die hard or not.  

Mogwai - Earth Division EP (Sub Pop, 2011)

Earth Division EP
Sub Pop

 Rating: 5.5 drunk hounds out of 10

 The last Mogwai full length might have been a return to their earlier form, but this most recent EP is more like their later, more docile (aka more boring) material. All of the songs sound like they could be outtakes from the soundtrack of a mediocre horror movie...or maybe used in one of those Debeers diamond commercials where the silhouettes act douchey.  "Drunk and Crazy" does start getting interesting during the final third of the song, but by then most of the time I've already skipped to the next track.  This one is for die hard fans only in my humble opinion.  Heck, I'm a pretty big fan and I'm not sure I even need it. 

Mahmoud Ahmed - Jeguol Naw Betwa (Mississippi, 2011 - Reissue)

Mahmoud Ahmed
Jeguol Naw Betwa
Mississippi (Reissue) / Self-Released (Original)
2011 (Reissue) / 1978 (Original)

Rating: 8 daktari dashikis out of 10  

Mississippi records continues their tradition of re-releasing obscure and out of print music from all around the world, this time tackling legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed.  Apparently this album of blistering african pop had never been reissued since it's original pressing, so I'm quite thankful that Mississippi did the legwork and got this back out into the ears of everyone. 

I feel vastly under-qualified to talk about the merits and abilities of Mahmoud Ahmed, but I know I like them.  And I'm not someone who usually gets worked up over seventies African pop.  I've got a few of his records and a bunch of random songs on my computer, mostly because his haunting voice grasps hold of me within seconds of leaving the speaker.  The music is beyond bad ass too, but not too dissimilar to the rest of the music being made in that area in those years.  Hell, it's probably the same musicians.  But that one has that voice.  It grabs you in a way few other musicians to ever walk this planet have achieved. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds, 2011)

Father, Son, Holy Ghost
True Panther Sounds

Rating: 8 molasses hares out of 10

Say, do you like pop music?  Well so do San Francisco's Girls.  And on their sophomore effort, they've decided to take every well known pop song style of the last fifty years and somehow condensed it into an album.  It almost feels like some sort of Girl Talk mix at times they way the songs jump around, except that these are all original compositions.  These aren't the simple tracks from the band's debut, these songs go in a thousand different directions and sound BIG - soaring orchestration and Pink Floyd-style back-up singers big.  I'm honestly sonewhat at a loss as to what to write about this band - in the span of less than an hour they manage to sound like just about every major pop act you've ever listened to.  What I do know is the opening track "Honey Bunny" is one of the catchiest songs of the year, and worth the price of admission alone. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wild Flag - Wild Flag (Merge, 2011)

Wild Flag
Wild Flag

Rating: 5 soft prunes out of 10

Honestly, listening to this new Wild Flag album went pretty much as expected - that is, underwhelming.  Especially given the pedigree of the band members - Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney, Mary Timony of Helium, and Rebecca Cole of the Minders.  And then I remember that I never liked Sleater-Kinney's records, even though they were fantastic live.  Helium never did much for me either, even when Polvo's Ash Bowie joined the band.  And the Minders...hell, I don't know anything about them honestly.  So I'm not sure why my expectations were high - probably the nature of any "super group".  Or I bought into the hype, including from some of my friends.  And it's not awful - it does rock, but something is missing.  Maybe it's Corin Tucker's voice.  Or maybe the songs just aren't that great.  Still, I bet they rock live, I'd almost bet on it. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Future Islands - Before the Bridge 7" (Thrill Jockey, 2011)

Future Islands 
Before the Bridge 7"
Thrill Jockey

Rating: 7 island dwellers out of 10

I know Future Islands live in Baltimore, but they are here so damn often they feel like a local band.  So their success feels like a local band done good, which is a little extra bonus to them already being a kick-ass band. 

This 7" is the first single from their new album due out in October called "On the Water", and it totally smokes - both the title track on the A-side and the B-side "Find Love" (which will not be on the album).   Both songs are very much like the material on their last record, equal parts cold and endearing, like a hug from a cyborg.  Apparently the physical version of this sold out quickly, and they recently packed the rather large Lincoln Theatre here in the Triangle, so catch these kids now before they graduate to some huge venue with expensive tickets and you have to lie about seeing them before they exploded. 

Blasted Canyons - Blasted Canyons (Castle Face, 2011)

Blasted Canyons
Blasted Canyons
Castle Face

Rating: 7 ice cream men out of 10

Synth punk - most of it is shiny music featuring members wearing vinyl clothing and aggressive make-up, and then there's Blasted Canyons.  This is dirty, lo-fi synth punk, an band you'd expect to hear play in your friends basement assuming they could find enough outlets for their keyboards and other instruments.  It's pretty fuzzed out and sloppy, but damn enjoyable.  I read somewhere else a comparison to Lost Sounds, one of Jay Reatards many bands, and that seems like a fair mention.  Blasted Canyons are a little poppier and/or light-hearted than Lost Sounds, but they have basically the same feel.  Apparently this group started as a joke and that is reflected in some of the song titles - "I Know A Dude", "Three Synths One Cup", "Lasers vs. Lizards", and more - but this isn't novelty rock or comedy rock or any of that.  It's just a distorted, synthy good time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Robert Pollard - Lord of the Birdcage (Guided by Voices, 2011)

Robert Pollard
Lord of the Birdcage
Guided by Voices

Rating: 7 ribbons of fat out of 10

Robert Pollard, Guided by Voices, releases a ton of albums, they all sound the same but are still awesome, see all my other Robert Pollard reviews, blah blah blah.  If you don't know what you're getting from this guy by now you've most likely been in a coma for 20 years.  Or you're really stupid. 

One thing of note with this record is the songs are all based around a grip of poems he wrote, so instead of writing songs then coming up with crazy lyrics for them, he wrote the crazy lyrics first and then wrote the songs around them.  Honestly, the results sound the same to me but everyone else seems to be mentioning it and I don't want to feel left out. 

Archers of Loaf - Icky Mettle (Reissue) (Merge, 2011)

Archers of Loaf 
Icky Mettle (Reissue)

Rating: 10 poop euphemisms out of 10

Wait, so Merge reissued one of the greatest indie rock albums of all time (Icky Mettle) by one of my very very favorite bands of all time (Archers of Loaf), I think we knew what this rating was going to be before I even typed the first letter, so let's not waste each others time.  

The download also comes with an album of bonus material, also remastered - their "Vs. the Greatest of All Time" EP, the best material they ever released, and a bunch of their singles (aka a large chunk of their "Speed of Cattle" compilation).  So not only is this re-release awesome, it's a LOT of awesome. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wooden Shjips - West (Thrill Jockey, 2011)

Wooden Shjips

Thrill Jockey


7.5 lazy smokers out of 10

The Bay Area's Wooden Shjips inhabit a nebulous world where psyche rock and kraut rock are best friends, but it wasn't until this record that I really started hearing a strong mid-to-late eighties noisy shoegaze feel with them. What I'm saying is, this record got me musing on the Jesus & Mary Chain, and ain't a damn thing wrong with that. This album is so enjoyable and mesmerizing that it feels like it's over before it even really gets going...helped by the fact that it is only 37 minutes long. If someone told me these were the lost tapes of a band that opened for both Led Zeppelin and Can in 1975 and then disappeared off the map, I'd believe them. It sounds instantly classic, and I mean that in the best way possible. And they are just as mesmerizing live as on record.

As a side note, Phil Manley of Trans Am and the Fuckin' Champs produced this album, which can only help matters out, cause that dude is a bad ass.

Boston Spaceships - Let It Beard (Guided By Voices, 2011)

Boston Spaceships
Let It Beard

Guided By Voices


7 vicelord speed bumps out of 10

For those not aware, Boston Spaceships is a post-GBV Robert Pollard band. Even though GBV is still kinda around. And since Pollard is singing and writing the songs, it sounds like a GBV record. And it's not like they had the same line-up for the duration of the band, so I'm not sure why this other name was needed, but Robert Pollard music. It's awesome if you like the stuff like I do. And it could be upwards of two months before he releases another album, so strike now while the iron is hot.

I guess it could be noted that Pollard collaborates with J Mascis and members of the Decemberists and Wire and the Dream Syndicate and more for this record, but it still sounds like a GBV record to me. I'm probably supposed to be more decerning as a "music critic", but fuck if I can tell a difference.