Monthly Archives: December 2010

deadmau5 – 4 X 4 = 12

January 01, 1970

(Ultra)

 

www.ultrarecords.com

 

 

Whether you like it or not,
you’re familiar with the oversized head and the big mouse ears of progressive
house music maven deadmau5. Sports fans saw the Canadian-born DJ perform at the
2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Kids caught the Mau5 when he became a character in Activision’s DJ Hero 2 video game. Yet with the
exception of singles’ compilations such as It
Sounds Like
and the mix-mastered likes of For Lack of a Better Name, he’s not released a full length artist
CD of his own – until now.

 

While massive electro epics
like “Some Chords” and the nasty “Animal Rights” (both previously released on 12″) fill this twitching Daft
Punk-y CD, there are just enough happily dastardly surprises afoot at every
turn. “One Trick Pony” and “Raise Your Weapon” find the Mau5 hotly interpreting
the cloying clutter of daring dubstep, while the rich electro classicism of
“Right This Second” and the crepuscular moodiness of “Cthulhu Sleeps” are
lustrously spare and ripe with eerie yet sweetly catchy melodies that act as
through lines through the album’s weirdly pulsing heart. Solid.

 

DOWNLOAD: “A
City in Florida”  “I Said” “Everything Before” A.D. AMOROSI

Rikki Ililonga & Musi-O-Tunya + Witch – Dark Sunrise + Introduction

January 01, 1970

(Now-Again)

www.nowagainrecords.com

(QDK Media-Shadoks)

www.psychedelic-music.com/new.html

 

One of the
great lost movements of modern African music finally gains time in the
stateside spotlight in the form of two excellent reissues from Stones Throw
archivist subsidiary Now-Again and the great German psych reissue label Shadoks
Music.

 

Until
recently, the storied Zamrock scene of the mid-to-late 1970s was only prevalent
within the parameters of the nation from which it derived – the Republic of
Zambia, a copper-producing country landlocked by the unsteady climates
surrounding them in Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania and
Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south and
Angola to the west. The country was also rife with poverty and the
then-gestating AIDS pandemic that plagued the lives of several of Zamrock’s
founding fathers.

 

These dire straits did not make many of the albums
released within the harsh confines of Zambia
all that accessible beyond the few ex-pats who brought their record collections
to Europe and the United
States, where they migrated. Eventually,
though, word got out about this fuzzy, freaky fusion of reverberating, wah-wah
drenched electric rock, which the musicians had heard on Western pop albums
from Jimi Hendrix, Santana and the Jefferson Airplane that were bootlegged into
the country, not to mention being influenced by the high energy funk brought
forth on James Brown’s legendary 1971 tour of Zambia. Additionally steeped in
the indigenous polyrhythms of the music along the Congo plus traditional Zambian
folk, the sound of Zamrock became a sonic delicacy highly sought-after among
the globe’s most serious break hunters.

 

 

And there is no doubt that the time is indeed nigh for
this rediscovery spurred by the crate diggers at Stones Throw/Now-Again. Dark Sunrise is a two-CD anthology of the
scene’s first breakout star, guitar wizard Rikki Ililonga, and his band
Musi-O-Tunya. Housed in a beautiful, hardbound book-style package and featuring
a scholarly essay on the evolution of the Zamrock revolution in the extensive
liner notes, Dark Sunrise gathers
together on the first disc Musi-O-Tunya’s 1975 debut album Wings of Africa with a cache of super hard-to-find 7-inch singles
that date back to early 1973, while the second CD houses Ililonga’s two solo
albums, 1975’s Zambia and 1976’s Sunshine Love, which are more rooted in
the bandleader’s affinities for the songwriting styles of Loaded-era Lou Reed and Taj Mahal back when he played with Ry
Cooder.

 

 

Then you have Witch,
an acronym for “we intend to cause havoc”, who closely followed in the
footsteps of Musi-O-Tunya on the Zamrock scene. Hot on the heels of the reissue
of their 1975 masterpiece, Lazy Bones!! (released on QDK Media/Shadoks
earlier this year), Introduction, from a miniscule run originally issued
on a local private press in 1973, is an equally essential document on the influence
of psychedelia on the Zambian music scene. You get a stoned soul safari
punctuated by wild, effects-laden guitar sprawls, scratchy freakbeat organs and
early, stones-flavored electric r&b harmonics, and on songs like “You
Better Know” and “See Your Mama” you feel as though you are hearing lost sides
from a volume of the Pebbles series more than music derived from Africa.

 

If you are
looking to get into Zamrock for the very first time, there are no two better
places to start than this pair of southern African sound diamonds.

 

DOWNLOAD: Dark Sunrise – “Walk and
Fight”, “The Wings of Africa”, “Smoke”, “Stop Dreaming Mr. D”, “The Nature of
Man”, “The Queen Blues”, “Sunshine Love”, Introduction – “Hometown”, “You
Better Know”, “Feeling High”, “See Your Mama” RON HART

 

 

Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight + A Can of Bees

January 01, 1970

(Yep Roc)

 

www.yeproc.com

 

The classic first two albums from one of the new wave era’s most
enigmatic bands are once again back in better record stores the world over as
part of the Yep Roc label’s exhaustive career-spanning reissue campaign of the
great Robyn Hitchcock. As the leader of the Soft Boys, Hitchcock was paramount
in crafting the group’s highly unique and influential compound of Beatlesque
melodicism, Byrdsy jangle and Beefheartian mangle that has influenced such
modern greats as The Flaming Lips, R.E.M. and a good chunk of the Captured
Tracks roster. Now, both the Boys’ long-out-of-print 1979 debut A Can of Bees and its groundbreaking
1980 follow-up Underwater Moonlight,
which was previously reissued as a double-disc set on Matador in 2001, have
been properly cleaned up with a superior remastering job to make them sound
brighter, louder and more psychedelic than ever before and repackaged with
beautiful new vinyl record-style jacketing that really makes you think twice
about digitizing away your physical CD collection.

 

But therein lies the unique rub of this particular pair of reissues is
that the actual hard copies of both albums only contain the original track
listing for each respective work, albeit with collector’s quality packaging.
However, what you also get for your nice-priced $12.99 CD or $17.99 slab of
fresh wax is a plethora of bonus tracks (nine for Bees and a whopping thirty for Moonlight,
mainly b-sides, live tracks and outtakes across the board), which are available
as digital downloads that come with the purchase of either/or, giving fans the
best of both worlds without compromising the integrity of the core LPs
themselves.  

 

DOWNLOAD: “Give It To The
Soft Boys”, “Leppo and the Jooves”, “Cold Turkey”, “Love Poisoning”, “Rock ‘n’
Roll Toilet”, “I Wanna Destroy You”, “Insanely Jealous of You”, “Old Pervert”, “Bloat”,
“Cherries”, “Amputated” RON HART

 

Reverend John Wilkins – You Can’t Hurry God

January 01, 1970

(Big Legal Mess)

 

www.biglegalmessrecords.com

 

It’s common knowledge amongst
music fans that the blues has a much richer history than just juke joints and
guitar solos. Despite its reputation for being a haven for sinners and
reprobates, there’s a strong strain of spirituality running through the blues,
as exemplified by notables like Blind Willie Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis and
Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

 

The Reverend John Wilkins is
the latest star in a long line of gospel bluesmen, and You Can’t Hurry God puts him right up there with the greats. The
son of singer Robert Wilkins (who contributed “Prodigal Son” to the Rolling
Stones’ Beggars Banquet), the Memphis-born,
North Mississippi-bred Wilkins has a career stretching back to the 60s playing
guitar for O.V. Wright, before following in his father’s footsteps into the
ministry in the 1980s. Wilkins draws on a variety of blues styles for his debut
album, from acoustic country blues (Robert’s “Prodigal Son”) and the
electrified version of same (“Thank You Sir,” “You Gotta Move”) to boogie
(“Jesus Will Fix It”), straight gospel (“On the Battlefield,” “I Want You to
Help Me”) and soul balladry (“Sinner’s Prayer,” the title track), displaying an
easy mastery of all of them.

 

But musical skill isn’t the
point so much as the feeling behind the songs, which is pure soul. Even the
heathens among us won’t be able to resist the power that moves through You Can’t Hurry God.

 

DOWNLOAD: “You
Can’t Hurry God,” “I Want You to Help Me,” “On the Battlefield” MICHAEL TOLAND

 

Golden Boys – Thee Electric Wolfman

January 01, 1970

(Daggerman /Alien Snatch Records)

 

www.daggermanrecords.com/ ; http://www.aliensnatch.de/

 

While many are pissing and moaning about the recent
format changes on the withering Myspace social network, the question begs, how
much are you paying for it? So shut the fuck up, please. If it’s friends you
want, use Facebook. If you want to check out bands, that’s what Myspace is
great for. “Nuff said? I not only utilize it for that, but have discovered many
new bands from seeing who their Top Friends are. Sometimes you discover many
are inter-connected in their own karass of a mutual admiration society or
certain music genre. I’m pretty sure that I discovered The Golden Boys on The
Spider Bags friends list, a couple of years back. I’m noting this, as Wolfman is a combined effort involving
them, plus a small group of friends, and was recorded in three states. It’s
like when all the bands come out and do “May the Circle Jerk Be Unbroken”
together the end of a concert, or one celeb tells another, “Hey, lets keep in
touch and maybe do a project together some time, babe,” and in this case,
actually DO it.

 

 On this
fourth recording from the Austin sleaze-rockers, they engage the service of
Chapel Hill’s notorious Spider Bags with Dan McGee, Memphis rock legend Ross
Johnson and employ the very able Greg Ashley, of Gris Gris fame, to play as
well as produce the whole thing. A rather heady assembly of talent for a
project that might have been like herding cool cats. Ashley plays on seven of
the eleven tracks; The Spider Bags on four, with the closing number by Johnson
on vocals, who seems to be making it up as he goes along. The music swings from
the expected boozy garage rock, to boozy bluesy rock, to two very
Velvets/Lou-flavored tunes, “She Said It” and “Plainsman’s Lament.” “I’m Black
and White” spills over with organ, hyperventilated harmonica and guitars, in a
R&B-style mover and shaker. Bottleneck slide guitar is prominent on the
slow-paced rootsy-blues tune, “Old Man’s Coat” that reminded me a lot of
Blitzen Trapper. The only number both Ashley and the ‘Bags play on together is
“Goddamn I Love the Ocean,” which I strongly suspect was inspired by being
tipping a few too many Colt Malt Liquors on a beach somewhere…. “Goddamn it
buddy…you know I love you? Ya know that don’t cha?” One Spider Bags cover,
“Dish Towel,” is tossed in, and they play briskly on another about a dog, “Mr.
Dickles.”  The album title track,
“Electric Wolfman” is a down and dirty, growlin’ garage-blues number that gives
you a heads-up right from track one as what to expect.

 

Hopefully, this project will
inspire other bands to splice their combined musical DNA together into a whole
new organism. Not unlike a couple trying to conceive, the actual production is
the most enjoyable part. It is key, however, to start with good genetic stock
like the donors here-in have contributed to the creation.

 

DOWNLOAD: “She Said It”, “Mr. Dickles.”  BARRY ST. VITUS

Le Futur Pompiste – Le Futur Pompiste

January 01, 1970

(Shelflife)

 

www.shelflife.com

 

To the naked eye
you might think this Finnish band is a new one, but dig a little deeper and you’ll
discover that they have been at it for nearly a decade and have a discography
that dates back to 2001 (and their previous full-length, Your Stories and Your Thoughts, was released in 2004 on Spain’s
Siesta label). So where have they been? Aw, the usual,  life, love and birth.  Apparently things like families and jobs got
in the way and the move of leader Einar Ekstrom from his home country to Sweden.  In other words, all the usual things that
make bands have 6 years gaps in between records. 

 

Still, despite
the gap in time, this sophomore effort though is strong with 10 fully-formed
songs that are caked in melody. Upon first listen you’ll heard nods to pop
masters both bright (Stereolab) and dark (Broadcast). If those lovely female
pipes sound familiar it’s because they belong to Jessika Rapo of (another
Shelflife band) Burning Hearts. The songs glide, flow and twinkle and cuts like
waterfall pop of “Delusions”, the hypnotic “Communication”, the positively
cheery “Winter” and the ebullient “My Trophy” are all winners as are a few
others.

 

At times the
band can wear their influences a bit too much but when the coat is this good a
fit, you won’t complain too much.

 

DOWNLOAD: 
“Winter”, “My Trophy”  TIM HINELY

Ride – Nowhere: 20th Anniversary Edition

January 01, 1970

(Rhino Handmade)

 

www.rhino.com/handmade

 

 

Though they
hated the term, the “shoegaze” tag fit this UK band. Like My Bloody Valentine,
their blare partially masked expert pop craft and built up anticipation to this
1990 debut, now reissued as a 20th anniversary 2-CD set featuring bonus tracks
and an L.A.
concert from ’91.

 

Almost reaching
the British Top 10, Nowhere was
probably their highlight before the touring grind and Brit-pop’s ascendency
spelled their doom in ’96. Swirling ringing guitars, chanted vocals and distant
production, at times evoking psych-era Fabs, Byrds and Moby Grape, make this a
classic of the genre. On the live disk, some sonic murk and associated mystery
disappear but they still roar and sound tight with some elegant guitar work
(especially on “Dreams Burn Down” and “In A Different Place,” where they get
the crowd worked up) and may actually appeal to agnostics more. They definitely
handled the balance of noise and tunes better than MBV did live.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Kaleidoscope,” “Dreams Burn Down” JASON GROSS

Charlatans – Who We Touch

January 01, 1970

(The End)

 

www.theendrecords.com

 

There are far fewer
things as embarrassing in the world of music than once-popular bands seeing
their audiences moving on, deciding to dramatically flip from one genre to the
next in an obvious appeal to ANYONE willing to buy an album (think Vanilla Ice
getting tatted up and trying his hand at nu-metal or MC Hammer trying to go Gangsta
Rap). 

 

It’s a relief, then,
to hear The Charlatans UK, one of the better early ‘90s Manchester, UK
rock bands, have never bothered to stray too far from the original sound that
managed to marry classic rock with a subtle dance vibe. On Who We Touch, the band’s 11th record, the group sounds
just as solid as it did in ’94. Who We
Touch
sounds remarkably familiar. Coming in at just 10 songs, the record has
virtually no filler (the exception being the unnecessary hidden track at the
end of the album) and some of the best harmonies the band has put on tape to
date.

 

The Charlatans may
never have been as popular as scene mates like The Stone Roses or Happy
Mondays, but they’ve managed to survive longer than either band and have spent
the past decade turning in some of the best songs. And not once have they resorted
to putting on the skinny jeans, moving to Williamsburg
and trying to relaunch as a hipster indie band.

 

 

DOWNLOAD: “Love is Ending,” “You Can Swim” JOHN B. MOORE

Ghost Blues: The Story of Rory Gallagher and The Beat Club Sessions

January 01, 1970

(Eagle Rock; 179 minutes)

 

www.eagle-rock.com

 

BY MARY
LEARY

 

Rory Gallagher’s story is the sort that makes me wish I’d held
onto those superlatives squandered on several other reviews. No other European
blues maker has managed the precarious mix of heat, charisma, and decency that
came naturally to the perennially tousled multi-instrumentalist from Cork (born
in Ballyshannon), who made his name with a passionately mangled Fender Strat. So
many listeners felt similarly that Gallagher leapt over Eric Clapton, Jimmy
Page, John McLaughlin(!), and Pete Townsend for Melody Maker‘s “best guitarist of the year ” spot in 1973.

 

The ramshackle fire of Van Morrison has been something of a
psychic cousin. But Gallagher’s need to be a pure blues channel bristled with a
fervor that would typically be characterized as religious or political. Per Bob
Geldof in Ghost Blues: The Story of Rory
Gallagher
(Eagle Rock), “Rory
always struck me as a priest with long hair – you know, that quiet sort of Cork thing. And he
could’ve been in a seminary… except his chalice was his guitar and his prayers
were the blues.” Call this a spoiler or a warning, but when the film got to Gallagher’s
illness, and death (in 1995, from post-liver transplant complications), I cried
– at the sadness of his demise, at realizing a world without his presence, and at
the homages erected in his honor. It’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t
respond to the faces of  Rory’s brother
Donal, The Edge, and the Mayor of Dublin at the 2006 unveiling of a diminutive bronze
Stratocaster at Meeting House
Square. The ceremony brims with the love – and
sense of wonder — Gallagher elicited, from all accounts, from just about
everyone who knew him.

 

Gallagher first burst into my consciousness in the mid
-‘70s. Full of startling kinetics, the piece of dynamite, which he called “Walk
on Hot Coals,” stunned with much more than sound: If any white man could make you
believe he knew something about walking on hot coals, this was the one. As with
several U.K. players, including Fleetwood Mac and Savoy Brown, he wove the
essence of the blues with his own narratives. Especially with breakout trio
Taste, Gallagher combined blues with jazz, rock, and Irish folk. In his solo
work – the bulk of his career – the bigger emphasis on pure blues was colored
by idiosyncratic rhythms that seem to have hybridized from immersion in Irish
folk, skiffle, rock, and Django Reinhardt. Another GB commentator says Gallagher
created his own genre, “Irish blues.”

 

Ghost Blues peppers
biography and performance footage with the observations and recollections of
family, band mates, and the bevy of musicians inspired by Gallagher. Johnny
Marr is typically enthusiastic: “I once saw him change a string without
stopping the song. Just for that alone there should be a monument to him.”
Cameron Crowe shares his experiences of touring and drinking with Rory, who was
so self-effacing that he feared audiences wouldn’t welcome him once his health
and appearance were on a downward spiral. In the second disc, The Beat Club Sessions, Gallagher thanks
the audience sincerely, without any sense of “showmanship,” every time he
speaks.

 

Several commentators mention Gallagher’s role in opening a
door for Irish rockers.  Fantastic – but
we understand more about the emotion he inspired in his countrymen when GB gets into his refusal to cancel tours
through areas particularly wracked by the Civil War. One of the film’s most
expressive talking heads, Hot Press editor Niall Stokes explains, “He was the ultimate hero there. And he did cross
that sectarian divide that was such a phenomenon in Northern Ireland. In the
context of the most intense conflict, people from both sides of the divide came
to see Rory at those great gigs at the Ulster hall… and it’s a reflection of
the real connection that he made with people at a grassroots level, where the
ordinary people felt connected to something magic and something brilliant.” Bassist
Gerry McAvoy: remembers “…the first concert, the first night. It would’ve been
Christmas, ’71 or ’72. We did this show, and there was bombs going off – about
six bombs went off around the city centre the night of the concert.”

 

Rory’s take on the situation characteristically dodges any
posture that could invite idolatry; shifting the focus: “There’s always a great
audience in Ulster – it’s a pity almost no one else goes to play there.”

 

It’s no surprise when this long-awaited, first
fully-authorized documentary consistently absorbs with riveting footage, the
kind of story “you can’t make up,” and the anecdotes of folks bursting to share
them.

 

Those keen for more concise sonic gold will find the bonus The Beat Club Sessions zooming in on
Gallagher at an elated, vigorous peak (two sets, from’71 and ’72, in Bremen, Germany).
He’s bolstered by a rhythm section (McAvoy/bass; Wilgar Campbell/drums) remarkably
in sync with his nuances. No wonder Blind Faith had Rory (with Taste) join its
sole American tour: the boy blisters from start to finish. “Hands Up” is full
of leonine flare (Gallagher sang like Clapton, with more backbone and roar).
“In Your Town” has an intensity not too far from The Sonics’ “Have Love, Will
Travel” – the backbeat’s more upbeat, and the tone may be cleaner, but the
floor’s still covered with cinders. Pulse-quickeners are tempered by the romantic
lyricism of “Just The Smile,” and the restrained momentum of acoustic picking on
Blind Boy Fuller’s “Pistol Slapper Blues.” Other favorites include the hummable
original, “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going” (which could have been one of the
singles Gallagher refused to make despite music industry pressure). Chills may
be induced by the casual vibrato with which he slashes into Junior Wells’
“Messin’ with the Kid.”

 

Slide wizardry, tones and tricks that could make Jimi Hendrix
look up from his dinner are all here. But the ultimate draw is the joy Rory
took in performing. His guitars were just appendages. His voice was just a mouthpiece
for a soul full of passions that were, in his own words, “in me all the time,
and not just something I turn on.”

 

The Beat Club Sessions is also available on audio CD.

 

Volebeats – Volebeats

January 01, 1970

(Rainbow Quartz)

 

www.rainbowqtz.com

 

It’s tough not to admire a band like the Volebeats. With
their crystalline harmonies, unobtrusive melodies and retro sensibilities, they
sound both fresh and familiar all at the same time. In an earlier era, they
might have been the darlings of Laurel Canyon’s singer/songwriter enclave,
their breezy folk/country leanings finding a comfortable fit with the likes of
the Byrds, CSN, Jackson, Joni and other denizens of that laidback ‘70s scene.
Nowadays, their mellow musings seem somewhat innocent and idyllic in the midst
of today’s frenetic pace, but as a pleasant respite, one couldn’t ask for more.

 

The problem, however, lies with the abundance of riches
within this gentle, lush self-titled set. With nineteen tunes, many of them
overlapping with the same dreamy desire, it’s hard to find a breakout track in
the midst of the sweet serenity purveyed through this album overall. It’s hard
to quibble when every song satisfies, but it will likely take repeated hearings
before individual tracks shine through. That said, the lovely counterpoint
harmonies of “Dream Come True,” the shimmering pedal of “Kathleen No” and a
sumptuous take on Ray Davies’ “This Is Where I Belong” create an endearing
first impression. There are also instant contenders among the handful of
rockers that make more of an attempt at revelry, “You’re Wrong” and “I Can
Tell” being the most prominent.

 

After 22 years, the Volebeats are among the most unappreciated
entities in rock, a band that rarely makes a misstep and yet somehow escapes
the attention of tastemakers and the paisley populace they aim for. Regardless,
five years on from their last outing, the Volebeats happily are as embracing as
ever.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Dream
Come True,” “This Is Where I Belong,” “Kathleen No” LEE ZIMMERMAN