Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Egyptian Lover - 1983-1988 (Stones Throw, 2016)

The Egyptian Lover
Stones Throw

: 8.5 tadpole shrimp out of 10

I had no idea Egyptian Lover even existed until Moogfest in 2014.  A friend and I had driven up to Asheville just for the day to see Kraftwerk (one of the best shows I've ever seen in my entire life, for the record), and while wasting time that afternoon walking around downtown, came across the free, outdoor portion of the festival.  It was five in the afternoon, and here was this older, slightly chubby gentleman (and his assistant?) blasting some of the raddest 808 beats and synth layers on top of rapping that was straight out of the playbook of Afrika Bambaata.  It literally felt like I'd traveled back in time, and I loved every minute of it.  It was the perfect hip hop accompaniment to Kraftwerk, an urban version of their sound in a lot of ways. 

After that gig I searched out his material, but outside of Discogs it's not super easy to find.  Thankfully, the good folks at Stones Throw got a hold of the masters from the Lover himself, and released a four record compilation of all of his jams called "1983-1988" (despite the name, these songs are actually all from the period of 1983 to 1987).  It sounds so goddamn great, I want nothing more than to drive around and bump this in my car as if I was a kid again.  So many jams here - "Egypt, Egypt," "Computer Power," "Dial-A-Freak," "My House (On the Nile)," ...seriously, I love everything on here.  Just writing about it makes me excited to listen again and again and again.

King Khan - Never Hold On 7'' (Khannibalism / Ernest Jenning Record Co, 2016)

King Khan
Never Hold On 7''
Khannibalism / Ernest Jenning Record Co

: 8 hot, buttered corn-on-the-cobs out of 10

Despite being a fan for a long ass time of all things King Khan related, over the last couple of years my fervor for keeping up with his every release has somewhat waned.  Then he comes out with this stone cold jam called "Never Hold On," all lush and smooth, and I'm totally back in.  This track sounds like a throwback to the Brill Building days, complete with string section arrangements.  I couldn't love this any more than I do.  The b-side "A Tree Not a Leaf Am I" is fine, not special or boring really, just there.  Sorta slow and sultry, but not particularly exciting.  That a-side is fire though, and worth the price of admission alone. 

Apparently the songs from this release (along with another seven inch from Khan called "America Goddamn" that I'm not feeling quite as much as this one) are taken from the soundtrack to a documentary called "The Invaders" that may have some involvement with the world's strangest filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky.  I can't find out a lot about it though.  I may not have tried very hard, to be honest. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mean Jeans - Tight New Dimension (Fat Wreck Chords, 2016)

Mean Jeans
Tight New Dimension
Fat Wreck Chords

: 7.5 pink plumber pills out of 10

I'm not sure if Mean Jeans wins the award for best album cover or worst album cover of the year, but it's gotta be in the running for one of those (my vote is best, but I have notoriously bad taste).  Regardless, if you take anything from listening to Mean Jeans, it's not to take shit too seriously.  Their music is basically a modern version of three-chord Ramones punk with some Jeff the Brotherhood-style riffs thrown in; the songs are catchy as hell (though maybe a tad overproduced for my personal taste), and the lyrical content probably couldn't be any stupider.  Song titles like "Michael Jackson Was Tight," "Are There Beers in Heaven?," "4 Coors Meal," and "Croozin'" sorta let you know exactly what you're in for...punk party rock for dudes who like to wear short cut off jean shorts, thrift store hats, and drink a lot of a terrible beer.  On paper that sounds terrible to most people, but seriously...the songs are crazy catchy.  

Eric Bachmann - Eric Bachmann (Merge, 2016)

Eric Bachmann
Eric Bachmann

: 8.5 pink highlighters out of 10

I'm sure the "why" has been explained somewhere, but Crooked Fingers is no more, and now Eric Bachmann is just recording under his own name.  He's released recordings under his name before, and everyone knows Crooked Fingers was really just Bachmann solo anyways, but if he felt the need to jump through this hoop to keep going as an artist, who am I to argue.  I'm just glad he's still making music and I've got a new record to listen to...and a really, really damn good new record at that.  The second track "Mercy" is one of the best songs he's ever written, and certainly the closest he's ever come to producing music that would be confused with a sixties girl group.  there's actually quite a bit of backing female vocals ("Dreaming" and "Seperation Fright" are a couple of other outstanding examples, and there are more), which adds a nice extra layer you don't usually get with his sound.  I could see some (stupid) people being turned off of this slight turn, but Bachmann's deep voice still dominates - there is no changing that.  I feel pretty good saying this will be one of my favorite records of the year...then again, I can often say that about any music Eric Bachmann releases.