Friday, April 13, 2007

Mix #2

Playlist: hxxp://

1. The Velvet Underground - I Heard Her Call My Name

As soon as it starts you know that this amphetamine-fueled screechfest isn't your typical Velvet Underground song. When the actual lyrics start, it reverts to a song back in the White Light vein, but then FUCK! Lou Reed feels his mind split open and the guitar goes WILD! The rhythm section drives along as the guitar screams like a wounded animal pumping pain and pleasure into our brain. Then back to more traditional section, even some catchy back-up vocals... MIND SPLIT OPEN OH SHIT NOISE SOLO NOISE SOLO screech screech dddooodoloodoo some slight changes in the rhythm section as the guitar keeps going at it for about two minutes and there you have it. Next on the album is Sister Ray, which is, in its own way, beautiful, and that represents Side B of White Light/White Heat. Where the hell could they go from there? The second half of their second album was basically the most abrasive thing ever to be unleashed unto audiences up to that point. I refuse to listen to their next two albums because there's no way they could possibly top it, and it would just dissapoint.

2. The Mekons - Like Spoons No More / Where Were You

Jagged and fracture guitar line, driving rhythm, Wire-esque refrain... basically what we have in Like Spoons No More are the makings for a perfect post-punk song. And it is. It ranks up there with the best of Wire, The Fall, Gang of Four etc. Short and sweet, it'll give you your fix. Where Were You is only really included as a reference for the next song, but it's still an absolutely amazing song. That you should listen to again and again and love.

3. Boredoms - 7 (Boriginal)

So how does this song relate to Where Were You by The Mekons? Well, it's a cover! That's right, a twenty-one minute cover of a song that's barely two and a half minutes. And by a notorious noise-rock band, no less. So what are you to expect? A twenty-minute punk epic? Hardly. This is deconstructionism at its finest, this is tearing apart a song verse by verse and turning it into a swirling, noisy, and half-insane krautrock opus. Only the Japanese could pull off something this crazy this well.

4. Railroad Jerk - Bang the Drum

Minimalist bass, drum, and guitar, half-spoken vocals, heavy blues and garage influences... No, it's not the White Stripes, it's better. It's Railroad Jerk, and they're not some lame rip-off band this shit was recorded in 95. Seriously, this is a great song that beats anything I've heard from the Stripes though they're probably the easiest point of comparison. Also think: slightly less noisy version of Jon Spencer.

5. The Ex - Enough is Enough

Noisy, dark, harsh, bleak in terms of music and lyrics. In my opinion, it gets really good when the violin kicks in full force. But a great, interesting listen throughout. Typical of The Ex.

6. This Heat - SPQR

If, while you're listening to this, you think to yourself Hmmm... this sounds like something a bunch of British guys would record in an abandoned meat locker with crappy recording tools, I'd accuse you of being a psychic, because you'd be absolutely right. Recorded in 1981, this has to be commended for sounding like nothing else at the time. And I'm having some trouble thinking of anything since to compare this to. The guitar is minimalist to an extreme, switching between strumming the shit out of two chords, and the song is mostly pulled along by the drums and the vocals. And what the hell about the lyrics?

Amo amas amat amamis amatis amant
We are all romans unconscious collective
We are all romans we live to regret it
We are all romans and we know all
About straight roads
Every straight road leads home,
Home to rome
2 + 2 = 4
4 + 4 = 8
We organise via property as power
Slavehood and freedom imperial purple
Pax romana!
Suckled by a she wolf,
We turn against our brother
Bella bella bella bellorum bellis bellis
Veni vidi vici I came I saw I conquered

You tell me what that means, because I have no idea. But it's pretty creepy. I guess those are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head in an abandoned meat locker.

7. Crass - Bata Motel

This is the greatest pissed-off feminist song I've ever heard. I mean, I tend to stay away from pissed off feminist music after I listened to L7, but seriously, this is pretty fucking awesome. The vocal delivery is absolutely delightful, and the screeching guitar and quick drums make this a lot of fun to listen to. And the lyrics are really fucking clever. And usually I don't like clever, because it tends to be stupid. But this is good clever. Seriously. Good shit.

8. AMM - Musette

I'm not really sure where to start with this song. Some might argue that this isn't really music, but then, what the fuck do they know? For me, listening to this is an experience. Because you're not hearing any of the traditional sounds you associate with "music" your mind struggles to find something to latch on to. But you're probably listening to it too closely. If you let it slip into your subconcious, as background noise, I find it becomes a sort of soundscape, forming images and feelings in your mind much less concrete than normal "music." And that's probably one of the more pretentious things I've ever written, but this is pretty pretentious music, so there you go.

9. John Fahey - Blind Joe Death, Pt. 1

Like Nick Drake without the vocals and better. Folk guitar++
It's part one of the album because my download is a recording off LP, and thus is just four tracks each consisting of several songs instead of however many tracks there should be. Sorry.

10. The Red Krayola - Save the House

This was recorded one year before Trout Mask Replica blew minds all over the world (probably not) but it approaches the same level of fucked-up-ness. This is a slightly restrained Beefheart, but just as enjoyable and odd. Listen to it once, and bask in its weird glory. Then listen to it again and pretend the piano is an electric guitar, and the vocals are being yelled. And there's the first punk song ever, congratulations.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mix #1

Okay, so the idea now is to introduce you to as much new music as possible, or just to provide entertaining opinions on songs you may already know. I'll do this by uploading ten-song playlists, and providing a short review of each song included, and its personal or musical relevance. Feel free to play along. If you'd like to know more or hear more by any particular artists, leave me a comment with your e-mail address or something and I'll get back to you. So here we go:

(PS: This first one I rewrote after I lost the original edition when my computer shut down, so it's not quite as good as the original and is pretty much a half-assed effort, but it has a lot of my favorite songs, so enjoy)

Playlist: hxxp://

1. Polvo - Thermal Treasure

This song is unlike anything I have ever heard. The first time I listened to it, I remember being completely blown away. It's a song that generates very divided opinions, about half my friends love it, the other half hate it. Personally, I have listened to it and the rest of the album so many times since I got it that it's nothing short of a miracle that I'm not bored of it yet. Why is it that some songs after listening to you get bored from after a week and others you can listen to for the rest of your life and never stop being captivated by? I'd say it has something to do with predictability. Thermal Treasure sounds unlike anything I've ever heard before. The chords and notes being played have never before been heard by human ears. Even when you know every single one by heart, each is still unique and surprising. And it sounds great--weird, but great.

2. My Bloody Valentine - I Only Said

Possibly the greatest pop song ever written--except it's not really a pop song, seeing as how it's covered in sheets of distortion and feedback. From the delicate beauty of the melody to the dreamy, hypnotic vocals, this song comes as close to perfect as anything I've ever heard. It might not hit you the first time you listen to it. However, in the context of the album (Loveless), it probably will stand out. By the third listen or so, however, this had grown on me so much to the point where I consider it to be nothing short of angelic.

3. The Doors - Hyacinth House

I don't really see how anyone could not love this song. Put simply, it's beautiful.

4. Thinking Fellers Union Local #282 - Flames Up / Cup of Dreams

Flames Up is the sort of song that you might listen to once and not really notice, and then when you're being a bit more attentative the second listen will completely blow your mind. It's an instrumental, and it showcases everything that is great about the Thinking Fellers. From the very onset you're a bit confused as to what it is you're listening to. Violin, drums and bass. No musical genre quite describes what the hell this is. Then, when the guitar really kicks in you're left reeling as it suddenly turns into a surf song, of all things. But it is still unlike anything else resembling surf music. Seriously, they make Agent Orange seem derivative. Fierce eclecticism? Check. Mindblowlingly original? Check. Awesome? You fucking know it.

And then there's Cup of Dreams, which presents beauty in juxtaposition, an eerie sort of beauty that perhaps appeals only to the few.

Let's soak our toes in champagne,
let's dance on a lonely street
Let's kick up a cloud of dust and
shake our heads to a fancy beat
Let's squish the life out of everything
and cheer through a swanky ghost
Let's bathe in a cup of dreams
and share in a saucy toast

Is that nonsense? Forboding? Amusing? Or simply pretty words to go with a pretty melody?
Who knows, who cares, it works.

5. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Frownland

I don't think anything can prepare you for Trout Mask Replica. When you listen to it for the first time, this is the first song you'll hear, and you won't know what the hell to think. The drums and guitar play in sync for about twelve seconds, albeit in different time signatures, and then they're completely detached. The guitarist is just furiously plucking strings and the drummer starts banging everything he can find in front of him. And the Captain? His singing is all over the place. Apparently they recorded the whole thing with him singing to the studio reverbations instead of using headphones, which caused everything to be off. As far as I'm concerned, it would have been more or less impossible to sing to the music because it was all over the place. You might not appreciate this song right away. But listen to it again. Be open-minded. If you're like me, it will grow on you. Some say that this is free jazz played by rock instruments. I think not even Coltrane would know what the hell to do with it.

6. Big Black - Kerosene

This song, to put it bluntly, is fucking awesome. The music is a clear demonstration of what you can do with just a guitar, bass, and drum machine. Like PiL, it focuses only on the extremes, get the bass doing the low frequencies and have the guitar tearing up the high screeching frequencies. If I had been around in 1980, this would have sounded pretty goddamn revolutionary, the closest thing probably being Throbbing Gristle. The music, with the lyrics, builds up throughout the song and finally climaxes at the end. So that's half of it. Then there's the lyrics themselves. They tell the dark tale of small-town life, and the frustration and bleak despair that go with it. As the frustration with existence builds up and up, it finally culminates to a fiery finish. Self-immolation. Cold, mechanical, disturbing, noisy, abrasive--these are all adjectives that can be applied. Wonderful.

7. Slint - Good Morning Captain

It's pretty easy to see why someone would love this song. The whole thing builds up like "Kerosene" for seven minutes until coming to perhaps the most powerful closing I have ever heard.

8. Pere Ubu - Dub Housing

This song always reminded me of Poe, for some reason. I'm not sure where the connection came from, but I always imagined that the house being referenced was the same as in the House of Usher. And as far as this album goes, it is very reminescent of Poe. It's just as dark and troubling, and just as challenging. Like Poe's short stories, the entire album works to generate a singularity of tone, and this song is the centerpiece. It's eerie and somewhat frightening; it sounds like a low-key Bauhaus song that's been chewed up and regurgitated. This is true gothic music, this isn't creeps wearing bondage, this is the soundtrack to Poe's nightmares.

9. Ornette Coleman - Lonely Woman

When I was trying to get into jazz, the second album I downloaded was Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz To Come. The first was Ascension by Coltrane, and I didn't like it too much. When I put on Shape of Jazz To Come, on the other hand, this was the first song I heard and I had already fallen in love. The melody is beautiful and the rhythm section is absolutely great, and even when it goes into free improv it stays captivating and non-abrasive. To put it simply, this is the song that got me into jazz. And it's probably still my favorite jazz song.

10. Husker Du - Chartered Trips

Last time I did this, I wrote up a whole diatribe about emo and how this was more emotional than any emo song I had ever heard and reasons supporting it, but I'm too lazy and apathetic to do that again, so just imagine I told you all about why this is one of the most emotionally powerful songs you'll ever hear and go listen to it.

If Everyone Were Like Me
Solipsists Anonymous
The Problem of Reference
Naturally, He Should Be