Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mark Sultan - Whatever I Want / Whenever I Want (In The Red, 2011)

Mark Sultan
Whatever I Want / Whenever I Want
In The Red

Rating: 6.5 fortified wine coolers out of 10

Mark Sultan kinda went nuts recording last year, and as a result released a pair of albums and then a CD compilation of these two albums ("Whatever/Whenever") that selects, well, someones favorite tracks from the two records.  His attempt to become the garage rock version of Robert Pollard is yielding similar results though, with tight tracks mixed in with some filler (or at least songs that seem like they need a little more work to be finished).  My favorite songs of his are when he lets his doo-wop voice shine, and not a lot of these tracks to be found on either album.  Plenty of foot stompers though, a little weird experimentation, and a lot of prototypical garage rock.  He had help from members of the Spits, the Black Lips and the Gories, so the pedigree is certainly there.  His BBQ album "Tie Your Noose" remains not only his persona high water mark but one of the best records of the genre, and because of that I'll always give anything the man records a listen.  Sometimes you can get too much of a good thing though.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

George Jackson - Don't Count Me Out: The Fame Recordings, Vol. 1 (Kent, 2011)

George Jackson
Don't Count Me Out: The Fame Recordings, Vol. 1

Rating: 9 ceramic cherubs out of 10

I'm almost mad that it took me this long in my life to learn of George Jackson.  Largely unknown or forgotten by the masses, Jackson was a well known songwriter (penning tracks for Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, Bobby Bland, and many more) who worked with the legendary Muscle Shoals hit machine in the sixties.  When not writing for others he wrote and performed himself, though apparently he was overshadowed by all the stars around him.  Which is kinda dumbfounding to me honestly, because just one listen to this compilation will have you asking how did this man not achieve the fame of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding and others superstars of that era. 

This collection is apparently the first of possibly three compilations of the recordings he did for Fame in the sixties.  Nearly every single track is pure gold, true southern soul that rips your heart out and makes you want to slow dance with a beautiful lady at the same time.  And this coming from a man who hates dancing.  This album will see a lot of airplay on my stereo from here on out, and even if he never achieved the fame he deserved in the real world, he's likely to be placed on a high pedestal in my house. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Various Artists - Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Lakeshore, 2011)

Various Artists
Drive  (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Rating: 6.5 gangster pizzas out of 10

Drive - it seemed to polarize a lot of people, but I absolutely loved this movie.  If you were at all familiar with director Nicolas Winding Refn's work, the "jarring" bits and deliberate pace probably wouldn't have been as surprising to so many folks.  And like with a Quentin Tarantino film, the soundtrack is almost as important as the actors.  This particular soundtrack is a handful of songs couple with the film's score - I won't pretend it's as impressive on it's own as it is when presented with the film, but it's definitely a decent listen.  And the song "A Real Hero" by College - man that just worms right into your head and gets stuck there for days. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Childish Gambino - Camp (Glass Note, 2011)

Childish Gambino
Glass Note

Rating: 7 howard the ducks out of 10

Childish Gambino = Donald Glover from "Community" rapping under a name created from a Wu-Tang name generator.  I love "Community" and the man's stand-up, but based on past attempts of actors trying to get into music, the odds were real long this album would be worth a shit.  But someone has to get it right eventually...and I guess Glover is just that right man. But this isn't just good for an actor's effort - it's just good period. 

This is hip-hop very much in the same vein as Kid Cudi (a rapper turned actor, though that move is pretty common) - introspective lyrics, backing music more akin to indie rock and club music than typical rap, and a fair amount of soul flavor.  Lots of "nerdy" references, science fiction and movies and kid's cartoons...actually, the sort of shit you'd expect his character in "Community" to rap about - guess that character is cut pretty close to the cloth.  

Hopefully any fans of his music that have never heard of him as an actor will check out "Community" now.  Maybe they can help keep it on the air.  Stupid NBC. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kurt Vile - So Outta Reach EP (Matador, 2011)

Kurt Vile
So Outta Reach EP

Rating: 7 livestock pens out of 10

Kurt Vile really seemed to step up in the world this year with the release of "Smoke Ring for My Halo", and fans of that record won't want to miss this small set of tracks written and recorded right around the same time.  That full-length was one of my favorites of 2011, so it's no great stretch to say I'm quite enjoying this short player - it's great psychedelic folk rock from start to finish, highlighted by the catchy "Life's a Beach" in the middle of the playlist.  Really, this just sounds like an extension of "Smoke Ring", though I'm remiss to refer to these tracks as b-sides or cast-offs as they're all quite strong.  Just buy it, think of it as "Smoke Rings" part 2, and go from there. 

Calexico - Selections from Road Atlas 1998-2011 (Quarterstick, 2011)

Selections from Road Atlas 1998-2011

Rating: 7 steak burritos out of 10

"Road Atlas" is an already sold out collection of the eight tour-only releases Calexico self-released over the last thirteen years.  Originally CD only, this box set gathered them all together and put them on vinyl for the first time.  Not the item for a regular fan like myself, but surely their super fans were overjoyed to the point of convulsions and possibly diarrhea.  You know, typical super fan behavior.  

Luckily, they also released a single disc version of their favorites from the is box set, called "Selections from Road Atlas."  Honestly, since this material was very limited first time around, you could have sold this to me as a new Calexico album and I wouldn't have known any different.  As noted before I'm already a fan, so it's no surprise I quite enjoyed this.  If you've listened to the band before you get what you would expect - alt-country/folk/mexicali/melt your face with horns music.  Stylistically it might hop around a bit, as it does cover their entire career, but enough so to be jarring.  Most are studio tracks but there are a few live songs as well.  This is a no brainer for long-time fans, and not a bad place for newbies to start either. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Twilight Sad Sick 7'' (FatCat, 2011)

The Twilight Sad
Sick 7''

Rating: 6 vegetarian haggis out of 10

The write-up on the label website says "Freshly inspired by the likes of Magazine, Caberet Voltaire, Fad Gadget, PiL and Can, a sound has developed that is reminiscent of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails or The Cure in their imperial phases."  I dunno, it sounds like regular ol' Twilight Sad to these untrained ears. Which is totally fine with me, for the record.  

This seven inch has "Sick" on the front side and "Untitled #67 (Demo)" on the back, and apparently both of these songs are also going to be on their forthcoming full-length (the b-side in non-demo form I'd wager), so I can't imagine anyone but the most die-hard of fans are going to spring for this release.  Again, not that the songs are bad, just that the sort of person to buy a seven inch is also going to buy the record, and this doesn't offer a lot of added value.  But I am looking forward to the full length after hearing this.   

Jeff the Brotherhood - Whatever I Want 7'' (Third Man, 2011)

Jeff the Brotherhood
Whatever I Want 7''
Third Man

Rating: 8 harmonic convergences out of 10

Jeff the Brotherhood are easily one of my favorite things going right now.  And I really didn't feel this way until I got to see them play live a couple of times, and then those shows inspiring me to listen to their recorded material a little more closely.  

I've reviewed a few seven inches on here, but let's be honest, most of these reviews are based off of MP3s and not actually owning the seven inches.  I'll be making a point of purchasing this mini slab though, as both sides kill.  The A side is six minute long jammer called "Whatever I Want", and outside of the added in organ in the middle of the track, conveys their live feeling pretty well.  The flip is "Everything I Need", a cover originally performed by Tiger B. Smith according to the Third Man Records' website.  Never heard of the dude or the song, but it's both catchy and rockin' and both of those things are alright with me.  Definitely recommended. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wilco - Speak Into the Rose EP (dBpm, 2011)

Speak Into the Rose EP

Rating: 6 heavy bags out of 10

I've still not managed to listen to the most recent Wilco full-length, mostly out of laziness and partially out of trepidation that I might not like it.  But I have heard this EP, released in conjunction with the "black friday" record store day that no one seemed to really pay attention to. 

The EP kicks off with "Art of Almost", which is apparently the opener on the full-length as well.  Not a bad song until Nels Cline goes off on some guitar wankery tangent as he so often does.  Being the "indie" Yngwie Malmsteen is not a compliment my man.  A demo version of "I Might" follows, a good song worthy of the Wilco name.  The remaining two tracks, "Speak Into the Rose" and "Message from Mid-Bar" are apparently only available on the deluxe version of the latest CD, so they added them to round out the EP.  

All in all, it's decent, probably for fan boys only though.  Not that casual fans will dislike it, just not sure the punch given here merits the cost. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guided by Voices - Doughnut for a Snowman 7'' (Fire, 2011)

Guided by Voices
Doughnut for a Snowman 7''

Rating: 6.5 oil drums out of 10

Five songs in just over six minutes - yep, it's a Guided by Voices seven inch all right!  Quick, catchy pop songs as you'd expect - a fairly clean sounding recording, though not hifi.  This was recorded with the "classic" line-up that recently reformed, went on tour, and recorded a new record to be released soon.  This is probably only a must-have for the die hard fans, but you could do much worse in life.  As an added bonus, there is more recorder being played on this than you'd usually get on a GBV release, for all you recorded fetishists out there. 

Black Tusk - Set the Dial (Relapse, 2011)

Black Tusk
Set the Dial

Rating: 7 rabid elephants out of 10
Black Tusk call their sound "swamp metal" - I just call it good.  This is a more modern approach to classic eighties metal like Metallica and their ilk crossed with a whiskey bottle full of country snarl.  Assuming you can bottle snarl, obviously...I think my grandma had some in her basement next to the canned green beans.  I guess a southern version of High on Fire really, at least in general feel.  Like a thousand other good metal bands, these cats Georgia, so it's good that state gets at least one thing right.  I really dug their last record "Taste the Sin", they put on a great goddamn live show, and this album helps them continue their fine tradition of rocking balls off.  It ain't reinventing the wheel, but it's helping things run more smoothly. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wye Oak - Strangers 7'' (Merge, 2011)

Wye Oak
Strangers 7''

Rating: 8 tangled water hoses out of 10

Normally I'd be remiss in even bothering to write about a seven inch of cover songs, but I've been obsessing over Wye Oak lately and the two songs they chose to cover are a couple of my all-time favorites.  Over the span of a couple of years the band recorded covers for the Onion AV club, as they would have various groups into their studio for the purpose of tackling these lists of classic tracks they wanted reworked.  Side A gives you their 2010 rendition of the Kink's "Strangers", and the flip side is a 2011 take on Danzig's "Mother".  Jenn Wasner's deep vocals and the groups slow-tempo take on these tracks is quite fantastic.  Any fan of Wye Oak should certainly seek this out. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Roots - Undun (Def Jam, 2011)

The Roots
Def Jam

Rating: 8 bumpy heads out of 10

I think 2002's "Phrenology" was the last time I really paid attention to the Roots.  And this was no fault of the band, I just sorta drifted away, stopped paying attention to the new releases (and the Roots have had a lot of new releases).  Maybe it's because I've been watching a lot of Jimmy Fallon lately (who has turned into a great, funny late night host, much to my surprise), where the Roots are the house band, but I decided to give their new record a listen.  Like so many things I choose to do, it was a smart call.  

Apparently the record is a "concept album" of sorts, telling the tale of the fictional, short life of someone named Redford Stevens - yes I read this in some other review since I barely pay attention to the lyrics.  I'll tell you what it's not - it's not songs talking over and over about how much money they got and how fly they hoes are.  How artists can record entire records saying the same thing over and over is beyond me, and probably proof of my old age.  But hip hop like this, where they are actually trying to talk about something, even if I don't always know what it is - I can really get behind that.  Moreover, since this is the Roots and they are a complete live band, the music is as sharp and stellar as ever.  Hell, the instrumental version of this album would probably be worth checking out by itself. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bleached - Carter 7'' (Art Fag, 2011)

Carter 7''
Art Fag

Rating: 7 expo catchers out of 10

Bleached sound like a classic girl group crossed with a scuzzy garage band, and I mean that as a compliment.  Catchy pop vocals without the overproduced sheen on top of, well, some pretty sloppy (but endearing) music...it's this sort of thing that always catches my ear.   I'd guess if you like Best Coast and that ilk you'd really dig this.  They've only released a couple of seven inches so far, I'm curious to see if they can keep up the hooks on a long player, and I'll certainly be paying attention. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Deerhoof / David Bazan - DeerBazan 7'' (Polyvinyl, 2012)

Deerhoof / David Bazan
DeerBazan 7''

Rating: 6.5 apple cats out of 10

So Polyvinyl has been doing this series of seven inches where different artists write lyrics and perform them over a Deerhoof instrumental, and then perform one of their own songs on the b-side.  I had somehow been oblivious to all of this until I happened upon this collaboration with David Bazan (aka Pedro the Lion).  Bazan adds lyrics to the Deerhoof track "No One Asked to Dance", a slightly proggy song...it sounds really weird hearing that deep Pedro the Lion voice singing over a slightly skronky song.  Not bad, just odd.  The b-side is apparently a re-working of one of his songs with Headphones, but I've not listened to Headphones much so I'll take their word for it.  Worth seeking out if you are already a fan of these performers. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bass Drum of Death - GB City (Fat Possum, 2011)

Bass Drum of Death
GB City
Fat Possum

Rating: 7 trash spilling raccoons out of 10

Bass Drum of Death are part of the current wave of young kids making noisy garage pop, something that has gone on for decades but really seems to have grown exponentially in the last couple of years.  And grown not just in the number of bands of this description, but their acceptance into the mainstream.  It's simple music mostly, played passionately and with reckless abandon as only kids still in or just removed from their teens seem to be able to do.

It's at this point that I try to convince you BDoD are somehoe different from the rest of the pack...but they're not really, not in any quantifiable way.  Their songs might be a little catchier, that's about it.  Despite all that, I do enjoy these guys more than most of the pack, even if I'm not sure why.  They feel like honest rock-n-rollers, not interlopers getting in on the next trend.  This is just a gut feeling though, they might be interlopin' like motherfuckers.  Regardless, I like this record.  Especially the track "Get Found", which sounds a lot like the Stooge's "Search an Destroy" in all the right ways.  It's a damn catchy song, and one I hope doesn't find them in court opposite of Iggy Pop.