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Thursday, December 31, 2009

BOSTON

BOSTON
BOSTON (1976)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

Boston is a great example of a group of extremely talented musicians who managed to elevate the art of simple rock 'n roll to a level beyond the ordinary. Some would argue that Boston was less "real" than todays rock music. Some might label them as "corporate", or "sell-outs", or "fluff", or "un-cool", but nothing could be farther from the truth.
Those who look back on rock music from the 50's, 60's, 70's or 80's and scoff at the production, the clothes, or the simple care taken in the "presentation" of the music, have missed the very point. The fact that most rock musicians from previous era's actually had talent and presented their art to the audience via a "production" doesn't make them "fake" or "sell-outs".
What constitutes being "real" today? Do a bunch of tattoos and piercings make you real? If you're angry or depressed all the time, does that make you "real"? If you can barely play a note or can't actually sing on key, but you can scream and mumble, does that make you "real"?
Today's fashionable artists may think they're keeping it "real", but the fact of the matter is, most are just talentless "wastes of space" who don't have the ability to create anything other than "ordinary", "depressing", "angry", "drab", "uninspired" garbage (there are many exceptions as regularily shown on this very blog, of course). Anyway, that doesn't make Boston's music "real", it's still radio-formated hard rock... It just tells me they have talent and in the end it's all about talent and the ability to truly inspire.

1. More Than A Feeling
2. Peace Of Mind
3. Foreplay/Long Time
4. Rock & Roll Band
5. Smokin'
6. Hitch A Ride
7. Something About You
8. Let Me Take You Home Tonight

UNDERWORLD

UNDERWORLD
SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANTS (1996)
320 KBPS

On this 1996 album, Underworld continue to explore the fringes of dub, dance, and techno, creating a seamless, eclectic fusion of various dance genres. Second Toughest in the Infants carries the same knockout punch of their previous release, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, but it's subtler and more varied, offering proof that the outfit is one of the leading dance collectives of the mid-'90s.

1. Juanita/Kiteless/To Dream Of Love
2. Banstyle/Sappys Curry
3. Confusion The Waitress
4. Rowla
5. Pearls Girl
6. Air Towel
7. Blueski
8. Stagger
Bonus Cd
1. Born Slippy (Nuxx)
2. Rez

BROWN BIRD

BROWN BIRD
THE DEVIL DANCING (2009)
320 KBPS

"The Devil Dancing" is Brown Bird's second fulllength album on Peapod Recordings. The album is set to be released on CD and LP on November 10th of 2009. It was recorded in two separate multi day sessions. The first session took place at Hogfarm Studios in Biddeford, ME and included the upright bass work of Micah Blue Smaldone (Death Vessel, Fire on Fire). The second session took place at the Peapod Recording Studio in Portland, ME. The engineer for both sessions was Ron Harrity. Mastering was done by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East.
Brown Bird is an original 5 piece band which draws influence from Country, Blues and Eastern European musics. Brown Bird began over five years ago as the brain child of songwriter David Lamb and has developed into a miniature orchestra of harmonized voices and instruments carrying Lamb’s haunting lyrics on surging waves of Appalachian, gypsy, and shanty music. The group hails from Rhode Island and Maine and pulls from the talents of each member to create a diverse folk music that swells into high-spirited, foot-stomping madness.

1. Danger and Dread
2. Down to the River
3. Muck and Mire
4. Lake Bed
5. Needy Generator
6. Wrong Black Mare
7. Bottom of the Bottle
8. By The Reins
9. Gallows
10. Sickle and Hood
11. Severed Soul
12. Devil Dancing
13. Mabel Grey

BETH ORTON

BETH ORTON
CENTRAL RESERVATION (1999)
320 KBPS

Is Beth Orton the folkie Beck? Or is Beck an Orton with beats? Since both graze from genre to genre like goats feasting on whatever strikes their fancy, drawing parallels is tempting...and perhaps pointless. After all, both artists were born in 1970 and emerged at a time when musical categorization became an exercise in futility. English thrush Orton's third album--like her critically hailed debut and the Best Bit EP--prompts one to flash on an ever-swelling range of influences. Since she's blessed with the rich, warm voice of a true pop singer, it's easy to imagine her sharing space on some out-of-time radio playlist with Dusty Springfield (listen to the elegant, string-laden "Sweetest Decline"), except Orton's music draws on '90s trip-hop elements as well the jazzy folk of Tim Buckley and vet Terry Callier (reprising his Best Bit cameo). Orchestration, upright bass, vibes, and Orton's own resolute guitar give long, languid tracks such as "So Much More" and "Pass in Time" an Astral Weeks-like feel. All those touchstones and no fewer than six producers might imply that Central Reservation is something of a mishmash. In truth, Orton's overriding vision is all that's needed to create cohesion.


1. Stolen Car
2. Sweetest Decline
3. Couldn't Cause Me Harm
4. So Much More
5. Pass In Time
6. Central Reservation
7. Stars All Seem To Weep
8. Love Like Laughter
9. Blood Red River
10. Devil Song
11. Feel To Believe
12. Central Reservation (The Then Again Version)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE
SMALL TALK (1974)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

A new bass player and drummer signaled a toned-down Sly & the Family Stone sound. Partially in keeping with changes in much of popular music in the early '70s, and maybe the result of marriage and a child, Sly became more introspective, quieter, and calmer, even employing a string section on various cuts. A less exhilarating album than earlier efforts, there is still much of merit here, including the Top Ten R&B hit "Time for Livin'."

1. Small Talk
2. Say You Will
3. Mother Beautiful
4. Time For Livin'
5. Can't Strain My Brain
6. Loose Booty
7. Holdin' On
8. Wishful Thinkin'
9. Better Thee Than Me
10. Livin' While I'm Livin'
11. This Is Love
Bonus Tracks
12. Crossword Puzzle (Early version)
13. Time For Livin' (Alternate Version)
14. Loose Booty (Alternate Version)
15. Positive (Instrumental)

DEAD CAN DANCE

DEAD CAN DANCE
TOWARD THE WITHIN (1994)
320 KBPS

A large reason that Dead Can Dance tours and performances were so praised by hardcore fans lay in the band's welcome preference for unknown and otherwise unheard material, rather than simply rehashing expected numbers. Bootlegging of these tracks and performances was understandable and widespread, so involved and passionate was the band's following. Recorded at a Los Angeles performance from the Into the Labyrinth tour, the astounding Toward the Within shows that the band's magic was clearly not simply something created in studio. Both lead performers are simply in excelsis, their vocal abilities hardly diminished by the rigors of the road — if anything, they sound even more inspired as a result. The range of instruments tackled is testimony to the group's breadth, from the yang ch'in, a Chinese equivalent to hammered dulcimer, to a wide range of drums. As for the songs, only four of the fifteen had been officially released before, including fine takes on "Cantara," "Song of the Sibyl" and "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)." As for the numerous new delights, Perry has a number of solo or near-solo tracks he performs with acoustic guitar. These include the lovely "American Dreaming" and the mystical set-closing "Don't Fade Away," calling to mind Tim Buckley's sense of scope and vision. Gerrard's unquestioned highlight is the combination of "Tristan" and "Sanvean," the latter of which is an awesome, widescreen number that became an undisputed highlight on her solo debut The Mirror Pool. Perhaps the most astonishing numbers are "Rakim," featuring a striking intertwining of Perry and Gerrard's singing, and a version of Sinead O'Connor's "I Am Stretched on Your Grave" that redefines passionate drama.

1. Rakim
2. Persian Love Song
3. Desert Song
4. Yulunga (Spirit Dance)
5. Piece for Solo Flute
6. Wind That Shakes the Barley
7. I Am Stretched on Your Grave
8. I Can See Now
9. American Dreaming
10. Cantara
11. Oman
12. Song of the Sibyl
13. Tristan
14. Sanvean
15. Don't Fade Away

MINERAL

MINERAL
ENDSERENADING (1998)
320 KBPS

Before emo was associated with sad faces and bad haircuts, there existed the bands who carved out the "emo" genre by making music that was sincerely emotional. It was slow but beautiful; it would never catch the ear of mainstream audiences but for the fans sophisticated enough to appreciate it, it captured our hearts and ears.
Mineral's EndSerenading is, I would argue, the defining, most important album of original, genuine emo. The lyrics are heartfelt and written well, the musicianship is solid all around, and the melodies are some of the most beautiful ever written.
This album is the sort of achievement where everything simply comes together perfectly in a way not even the artists themselves could recreate. The Gloria Record, for example, had some amazing releases but still could never top EndSerenading.
The album starts off with the slow, soothing LoveLetterTypewriter before breaking into the beautiful Palisade. Then, GJS and Unfinished represent two of the albums lesser tracks (which are still good) before ForIvadell picks up the tempo slightly and blows your mind. The final four tracks - ALetter, SoundsLikeSunday, &Serenading, and TheLastWordIsRejoice - take the listener on an unforgettable ride. While the pace is slow and always beautiful, the music never lacks for intensity or brilliance.
If you've somehow managed to overlook this album all these years since its release, don't put it off any longer. You don't know what you're missing.

1. Love Letter Typewriter
2. Palisade
3. Gjs
4. Unfinished
5. ForIvadel
6. Walking To Winter
7. A Letter
8. Sounds Like Sunday
9. &Serenading
10. The Last WordI's Rejoice

JACKSON BROWNE

JACKSON BROWNE
RUNNING ON EMPTY (1977)
320 KBPS

Recorded onstage, backstage, in three differet hotel rooms, and on a Continental Silver Eagle tour bus during a cross-country 1977 tour, Running on Empty is a paean to life on the road. Jackson Browne's sense of camaraderie extended to the road crew, if "The Load Out," a love song to his roadies, is to be believed. Browne is much more blithe here than in his earlier outings. But Empty also represents a fleeting lighthearted moment for the singer-cum-poet whose concerns became more political than personal after its appearance. Beneath its flippant surface, this disc is a look at the lengths Browne and his friends went to avoid facing the demands of the touring life. What with the frequent drug references, misogynistic references to on-the-fly pairings with women, and the sobering line in the title track--"I look around for the friends I used to pull me through / Looking into their eyes, I see them running, too"--one realizes that Browne was much more comfortable on the road than off.

1. Running On Empty
2. The Road
3. Rosie
4. You Love The Thunder
5. Cocaine
6. Shaky Town
7. Love Needs A Heart
8. Nothing But Time
9. The Load Out
10. Stay

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

HINT versus EZ3KIEL

HINT versus EZ3KIEL
COLLISION TOUR (2009)
320 KBPS

Ez3kiel loves to experiment. After a successfull tour with belgian band DAAU (accordion, sax, clarinette...), they create a new entity with the merging of their band and avant-garde/post-noise rockers of Hint for a few live shows and, now, the celebration of yet another project well done with this live album.
Of the 9 shows the bands played together, two have been recorded and filmed: St Etienne and Angers (where Hint comes from). For the audience, it was a chance to witness a unique experience as well as to catch up with Hing which hadn't tour for ten years.
Though it's clear the cinematic-dub/indie electronica of EZ3KIEL and the intelligent noise assaults of HINT are very different, the two band share enough artistry to make it works beyond expectations.
The set is, in all logic, composed of compositions from the two band's repetertoires and it's amazing to see how coherent and graceful it is. So, if you like your brain to endure the sweet tortures of this über-intelligent noise/dub/electronica mix, you're in for a real treat. Anyway, I think every music enthusiast owes it to himself to try what is one of the best releases of 2009.

1. 100% White Puzzle
2. Via Continum
3. Beautiful Old Betty
4. Wagma
5. Mr. Investigator
6. Chinatown
7. The Weeding
8. Flexible
9. Versus
10. Eyes In Axis
11. Volfoni'S Revenge
12. Firedamp

BEAR IN HEAVEN

BEAR IN HEAVEN
BEAST REST FORTH MOUTH (2009)
256 KBPS

While it may seem as if there's not a new release without a hyphenated genre to give it birth, Bear in Heaven's second LP feels fresh simply because it resists easy categorization or comparison. This isn't to say it's sonically groundbreaking, though-- fitting for an album whose title references the four main navigational directions, Beast Rest Forth Mouth is as familiar-feeling as it is difficult to pinpoint. Mostly made up of textural, spacious three- to four-minute pop anthems with towering choruses, BRFM is a welcome reminder that an album doesn't have to be bombastic to feel huge and important. Take out the earbuds and let it fill a space: This is music that's bigger than your iPod-- music you'll want to feel all around you.
Though not quite coming out of nowhere, BRFM seems like a surprise gift-- a striking consolidation of the spiky psych-prog tendencies of their debut into a pop framework. In terms of career gear-shifts, the move Caribou made with Andorra is the most recent precedent. Though at 41 minutes the album is economical and sharp in its execution, the band-- all from Georgia and Alabama-- still imbues its compositions with the generosity of spirit that makes the best Southern rock so invigorating. "Beast in Peace" opens the record with a gentle lockstep before shifting seamlessly into a mile-wide chorus. Then, they expand that chorus even further, like switching to the widest camera lens to capture a vista they just realized the full vastness of. Elsewhere, as its title indicates, "Ultimate Satisfaction" is an IMAX-wide ode to what starts out as a simple thought, then turns bodily-- the refrain of "coming down!" charts the sensation spreading like a spasm. That towering exultation is also felt on the primal "Deafening Love". While aiming for a similar sense of awe-inspiring bliss, "Love" widens the focus and luxuriates in the tremors, approximating a more protracted take on Jane's Addiction's "Mountain Song".
Yet Bear in Heaven's greatest trick is creating music that evokes the sort of physicality and scope that could soundtrack a Hollywood film, but also works equally well at stirring up intimate bodily passion. Lush synth beds, warm electronics accenting polyrhythms, and Jon Philpot's yearning, boyish howl coalesce into a vibe that's muscular without being macho, and which strikes a rare balance between nuanced emotion and overwhelming sensation. Even when delving into more disconcerting subject matter-- dabbling in self-loathing on "Wholehearted Mess" or confronting paranoia on the slinky "You Do You"-- Philpot still manages to imbue the songs with an atmosphere of seduction and intrigue.
An album like BRFM couldn't exist without a paean to the most severe and high-stakes of endeavors, and first single "Lovesick Teenagers" more than meets the requirements for 2009's Epic Song About Tortured Young Romance. With briskly alternating synth chords spitting by like fast-moving highway stripes, the titular couple are doomed to crash, but most likely in a JG Ballard sort of way. The pair martyr themselves in order to eternalize their passion, and the band is generous enough to resurrect them later, in the reprise of "Teenagers" that closes the album, seamlessly and surprisingly emerging from "Casual Goodbye". As a gesture, it's a slight nod backwards to the suite-like structures of their debut, but moreoever a celebration of abundance that wraps up an album overflowing with feeling. It's also an exclamation point signaling that Bear in Heaven not only clearly recognize their own best instincts, they're not shy about dwelling on them.

1. Beast In Peace
2. Wholehearted Mess
3. You Do You
4. Lovesick Teenagers
5. Ultimate Satisfaction
6. Dust Cloud
7. Drug A Wheel
8. Deafening Love
9. Fake Out
10. Casual Goodbye

ROBBIE WILLIAMS

ROBBIE WILLIAMS
SWING WHEN YOU'RE WINNING (2001)
320 KBPS

Apparently, Swing When You're Winning was inspired by the praise Robbie Williams received for his contribution to the soundtrack on Bridget Jones's Diary. Recorded with an 18-piece band in Frank Sinatra's old stomping ground, the Capitol Records Studio in LA, this collection of finger-clickin', Rat Pack standards and new material features plenty of guest collaborations, such as the much-hyped Nicole Kidman effort on Sinatra's "Something Stupid". Swing... is billed by Williams as a tribute to "The Rat Pack", a gang of entertainers including Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr, as well as Ol' Blue-Eyes himself, that dominated the Las Vegas dinner-club scene of the early 1960s. The selection of tracks reflect the karaoke sessions of Robbie's childhood in Stoke, and have been given the full "tribute" treatment, with no funny business going on in the production to take away from their classic appeal. There's never been any doubt that Williams sees himself as an entertainer in the most traditional sense of the word (not to mention a bit of a swinger), and his old-time-crooner fantasies are certainly given free rein to charm the pants off us all on this classy album.

1. I Will Talk And Hollywood Will Listen
2. Mack The Knife
3. Somethin' Stupid
4. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
5. It Was A Very Good Year
6. Straighten Up And Fly Right
7. Well, Did You Evah
8. Mr Bojangles
9. One For My Baby
10. Things
11. Ain't That A Kick In The Head
12. They Can't Take That Away From Me
13. Have You Met Miss Jones?
14. Me And My Shadow
15. Beyond The Sea

LIFE OF AGONY

LIFE OF AGONY
SOUL SEARCHING SUN (1997)
320 KBPS

In the early '90s, Life of Agony was a straight-ahead hardcore metal band. They built up a loyal following by incessant touring and word of mouth, with little MTV or radio airplay. On their second album, 1995's Ugly, the band chose a different musical path — they tried melding their hardcore with the melodic alterna-metal of Stone Temple Pilots and Alice In Chains. The album wasn't given a warm reception from longtime fans or the record-buying public. The group was now faced with a new dilemma; should they stay true to their newly decided musical direction, or conform to their fans' expectations of what Life of Agony's music should sound like? The group chose to stick to their guns and do what their hearts told them to on Soul Searching Sun. It's a mixed affair with some tracks succeeding (such as the opener "Hope"), while others fall flat (the clean guitar-driven ballad "My Mind is Dangerous" and the drug addict-cliché "Heroin Dreams"). New drummer Dan Richardson (ex-Pro-Pain) fits the band perfectly, able to handle their musical schizophrenia with no problem. Soul Searching Sun will certainly not be the album that wins back the group's old hardcore fans, but that wasn't Life of Agony's musical goal in the first place.

1. Hope
2. Weeds
3. Gently Sentimental
4. Tangerine
5. My Mind Is Dangerous
6. Neg
7. Led You Astray
8. Heroin Dreams
9. None
10. Angry Tree
11. Hemophiliac in Me
12. Desire
13. Whispers
14. River Runs Red (Re-Zamped)
15. Let's Pretend (Trippin')
16. Tangerine (Re-Zep)

Monday, December 28, 2009

THE FLAMING LIPS

THE FLAMING LIPS
STARDEATH AND WHITE DWARFS
WITH HENRY ROLLINS AND PEACHES
DOING "THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON" (2009)
320 KBPS

I won't comment on this one except to say that it's a delight through and through to hear the Flaming Lips cover Pink Floyd's cult album. I cannot think of any other band more apt to the task (and certainly not Dream Theater who, if I'm not mistaking, already did it) as The Flaming Lips are one of the best psychedelic-related acts to roam the face of the earth. Just get it, listen to it with an open-mind and... enjoy the ride. (only available for download on I-Tunes)

1. Speak to Me/Breathe (feat. Peaches and Henry Rollins)
2. On the Run (feat. Henry Rollins)
3.. Time/Breathe (Reprise)
4.The Great Gig in the Sky (feat. Peaches and Henry Rollins)
5. Money (feat. Henry Rollins)
6. Us and Them (feat. Henry Rollins)
7. Any Colour You Like
8. Brain Damage (feat. Henry Rollins)
9. Eclipse (feat. Henry Rollins)

ARIANE MOFFATT

ARIANE MOFFATT
TOUS LES SENS (2008)
320 KBPS

Ariane Moffatt has built a career based on the sweetness of her voice and the novelty of her compositions. Outside of her native Quebec., she's certainly less well known (though an appearance on a 2005 Putumayo compilation brought her a bit of recognition), but could be fit into the market of highly capable female singer/songwriters with a bit of novelty and quirk to their sounds. Moffatt can tinkle like Feist; she can croon like Sara Bareilles; she can put together a loping beat that simultaneously comes across as both stylishly effortless and highly crafted. Moffatt is vocally strolling and strutting, not just walking. There's a fairly wide stylistic range available here, from softer, more standard-format ballads to an electro-thump title track that uses a whisper and something close to a Rachid Taha motive to clear some surprising territory. Moffatt earned her keep on the Canadian charts with this one.

1. La Fille De L'Iceberg
2. Briser Un Coeur
3. Je Veux Tout
4. Tes Invectives
5. L'Equilibre
6. Eternel Instant Présent
7. Réverbère
8. En L'Air (Intermède)
9. Tous Les Sens
10. Jeudi, 17 Mai
11. Perséides
12. Hiver Mile End
13. Never (Let Me Go) (feat. Yaël Naïm)
14. Mba a Bhècfê (Je veux tout)

ROBERT PLANT

ROBERT PLANT
FATE OF NATIONS (1993)
320 KBPS

At first, Fate of Nations seems so light and airy that it slips away through the layers of acoustic guitars, violins, and keyboards. Upon further listenings, more textures appear, and the album gains a calm sense of tension and reflectiveness. It's also Robert Plant's most personal record ever; he addresses the death of his son in the beautiful "I Believe." Simultaneously, Fate of Nations is a political album — "Great Spirit" and "Network News" are two of the most socially conscious songs Plant has ever written. Yet, the album is never heavy-handed and doesn't fall into sermonizing or sentimentality. Plant has always had a folkie heart; on Fate of Nations, he wears it on his sleeve.

1. Calling to You
2. Down to the Sea
3. Come into My Life
4. I Believe
5. 29 Palms
6. Memory Song (Mello Hello)
7. If I Were a Carpenter
8. Colours of a Shade
9. Promised Land
10. Greatest Gift
11. Great Spirit
12. Network News

ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION

ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION
COMMUNITY MUSIC (2000)
320 KBPS

Anarchist Emma Goldman said, "if I can't dance, it's not my revolution." This sentiment lies at the core of Community Music. At the intersection of dub, punk, funk, reggae, dancehall, Bollywood, and political polemic you'll find Asian Dub Foundation. And you most certainly can dance to it. Community Music is thick with speaking Truth to Power while ADF storms the Bastille with an awe-inspiring musical ferocity and their crystalline political vision. The first half of Community Music is fierce and unrelenting in its musical influences, construction, and politics. From the thunderous opening cut, "Real Great Britain," you're left in no uncertain terms where the politics of ADF lie or how passionately they hold them. Sharp observations on the current state of capitalism, politics, and race in Britain form the focal point of the CD. The blistering exposé of police incompetence on "Officer XX" refers to the botched Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, while set to a simple guitar and drum pattern. The stirring dub-electronic account of how second-generation immigrants to Britain have emerged both influenced and in turn influencing Cool Britannia, on "New Way, New Life," makes it one of their strongest songs to date. While on the opposite side of the same coin, "Memory War" illustrates that the immigrant communities are not a new form of British citizen, and their contributions must be included in the official histories of the island. The second half slows the pace gradually, stretching the musical genres further and encouraging dancing. "Crash" is a didactic dub reggae dance groove critique of global capitalism that blazes out in a frenzy of jungle drums and punk guitar. As an ode to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a seminal figure in the emergence of "Eastern" music to Western ears and one given a much-deserved shout-out by ADF, the piece "Taa Deem" has appeared in a slightly different version on Star Rise, a remix collection of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's material by a who's who of contemporary British Asian musicians. The shuffling dance grooves and rap of "Rebel Warrior" call to mind the Stereo MC's. A further illustration of their politics, if needed, by Assata Shakur, who is invited to give a personal account of her revolutionary beliefs, to "struggle because committed to life." Community Music ends with an expansive electronic dub coda. As "England's new voice," calling for intellectual self-defense and self- awareness ADF represents the potential future. Community Music should be in every thinking person's collection, directly between the Clash and Public Enemy.

1. Real Great Britain
2. Memory War
3. Officer XX
4. New Way New Life
5. Riddim I like
6. Collective Mode
7. Crash
8. Colour Line
9. Taa Deem
10. The Judgement
11. Truth Hides
12. Rebel Warrior
13. Commited to Life
14. Scaling New Heights
Bonus Track
15. Sawt l'Hekma (feat. Clotaire)

MARDI GRAS. BB

MARDI GRAS. BB
ALLIGATORSOUP (2000)
256 KBPS

Germany's Mardi Gras BB are a vibrant jazz, funk, soul, rock, and hip-hop ensemble with a distinctly swampy New Orleans feel, led by the charismatic Doc Wenz (aka Jochen Wenz) and former Grug Grug bass player Reverend Uli Jug, who plays sousaphone in the band. Formed in the late '90s, Mardi Gras BB (the BB stands for "big band") have worked out of different configurations for each of their albums, but the basic lineup includes Wenz on lead vocals and guitar, Uli Jug on sousaphone, Erwin Ditzner and Javier de la Poza on drums and percussion, Robert Solomon and Uli Roser on trombone, Chris Bishop on trumpet, Andi Pompinsky on tenor sax and clarinet, Lomsch Le Mans on baritone sax, and DJ Mahmut on turntables. The group's debut album, Alligatorsoup, appeared in 1999 on Hazelwood Records and is still, to this day, their nicest and most vibrant release.

1. Down, Down, Down
2. Jungle Telegraph
3. Poo
4. Munster Theme
5. Let That River Flow
6. Herb Cooky
7. Bittersweet
8. Funkin' up Your Munster's Theme
9. Apache
10. One Before Munster's Theme
11. Guess What! [Munster's Theme]
12. Bye Bye Babylon
13. Big Warm up, Y'all
14. Prescription Blues
15. Blue Gospel

Sunday, December 27, 2009

B-MOVIE ARCHIVES

VARIOUS ARTISTS
B-MOVIE ARCHIVES
(2009)
320 KBPS

Released in France only, at least to my knowledge, B-Movie Archives is a 8 CDs box full of surprises from the Warner catalogue. The only thing in common with all these songs and themes is that they've been used for various B to Z movies which is as thin a concept as can be but, nevertheless, gives the listener quite a handful of terrific little tunes which could very well have been used on a Tarantino soundtrack.
Except for the 5th disk, almost entirely devoted to the works of Claudio Simonetti and his band Goblin, it's a feast of styles and sounds. From country to surf music, from soul to plain old rock'n'roll. Here's a musical rollercoaster which will surely put a smile on your face and will leave you hungry for more even after 8 disks and 119 tunes lasting a little over 6 and a half hours.

Disc One
1. JACK NITZCHE - The Last Race
2. THE STOOGES - 1970
3. THE ROUTERS - Sting Ray
4. CHORUS - Cabaret Dance Music
5. 6IX - I'm Just Like You
6. ROGER VOUDOURIS - Hold On
7. DR. JOHN - Right Place Wrong Time
8. JOHNNY HARRIS - Stepping Stones
9. AIRTO - Toque de Cuica
10. ENNIO MORRICONE - Quatro Mosche di Velluto Grigio
11. THE METERS - Come Together
12. THE RAMONES - I Wanna Be Sedated
13. FOGHAT - Fool for the City
14. ALICE COOPER - Desperado
15. FRONT LINE - Got Love

Disc Two
1. LITTLE SISTER - Stanga
2. BETTY WRIGHT - I Love the Way You Love
3. THE WATTS 103RD ST. RHYTHM BAND - Giggin' Down 103rd
4. DAVID NEWMAN - Shiloh
5. CLARENCE REID - It Was Good Enough for Daddy
6. DIONNE WARWICK - Walk On By
7. DONNY HATHAWAY - Magnificent Sanctuary Band
8. KING CURTIS - Teasin'
9. FUNK FACTORY - Rien ne va plus
10. THE STOVALL SISTERS - Hang On in There
11. FREDDIE KING - Funky
12. EARTH WIND & FIRE - Moment of Truth
13. CLAUDIA LENNEAR - Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky
14. EDDIE FLOYD - Good Love, Bad Love
15. TERRY CALLIER - Holdin' On (To Your Love)

Disc Three
1. TONY JOE WHITE - Roosevelt and Ira Lee (Night of the Mossacin)
2. WILLIE NELSON - Shotgun Willie
3. DR. JOHN - Mos' Scocious
4. YOUNG-HOLT UNLIMITED - Wah Wah Man
5. ZZ TOP - Master of Sparks
6. FELIX CAVALIERE - You Came and Set Me Free
7. BREAD - Down on My Knees
8. LALO SCHIFRIN - Room "26"
9. SEATRAIN - Flute Thing
10. WENDY WALDMAN - You Got to Ride
11. THE YOUNG RASCALS - I've Been Lonely Too Long
12. ALLEN TOUSSAINT - Goin' Down
13. ARIF MARDIN - Forms
14. ANANDA SHANKAR - Light My Fire
15. MARTY PAICH - Summertime

Disc Four
1. BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD - For What It's Worth
2. ENNIO MORRICONE - Hurrytome (Mettiuna sera a cena)
3. FELIX CAVALIERE - Summer in El Barrio
4. WILLY DEVILLE - Demasiado Corazon
5. SERGIO MENDES - Don't Go Breakin' My Heart
6. GNARLS BARKLEY - Who's Gonna Save My Soul
7. PERCY SLEDGE - True Love Travels on a Gravel Road
8. HERBIE MANN - Scratch
9. LATA MANGESHKAR, ASHA BHOSLE & MAHENDRA KAPOOR - Pyar Zindagi
10. DR. JOHN - Black Widow Spider
11. THE BEGINNING OF THE END - When She Made Me Promise
12. LINDA LEWIS - Sideway Shuffle
13. ENNIO MORRICONE - Non rimane Piu' Nessuno
14. GOBLIN - Witch

Disc Five
1. GOBLIN - L'Alba dei Morti Viventi
2. CLAUDIO SIMONETTI, MASSIMO MORANTE & FABIO PIGNATELLI - Flashing
3. GOBLIN - Patrick
4. GOBLIN - Suspiria
5. GOBLIN - Quiet Drops
6. KEITH EMERSON - Inferno
7. CLAUDIO SIMONETTI, MASSIMO MORANTE & FABIO PIGNATELLI - School at Nights
8. CLAUDIO SIMONETTI, MASSIMO MORANTE & FABIO PIGNATELLI - Waiting Death
9. GOBLIN - Sleepwalking
10. GIORGIO GIASLINI - La Notte Dei Diavoli
11. GOBLIN - Connexion
12. CLAUDIO SIMONETTI, MASSIMO MORANTE & FABIO PIGNATELLI - Jane Mirror Theme
13. GOBLIN - Jennifer
14. GOBLIN - Transmute
15. GOBLIN - Profondo Rosso

Disc Six
1. PAUL KELLY - Soul Flow
2. ASHA BHOSLE - Yeh Mera Dil Yaar Ka Diwana
3. LARRY GRAHAM & GRAHAM CENTRAL STATION - (You're a) Foxy Lady
4. THE YOUNG RASCALS - A Girl Like You
5. MEL TORME - Comin' Home Baby
6. BOZ SCAGGS - Loan Me a Dime
7. THE YOUNG RASCALS - A Beautiful Morning
8. TRINI LOPEZ - Made in Paris
9. THE COASTERS - Down in Mexico
10. LORRAINE ELLISON - Stay With Me
11. VAN MORRISON - And It Stoned Me
12. FRANKIE VALLI & THE FOUR SEASONS - Sherry
13. DANNY O'KEEFE - Catfish
14. ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM - Hurry Up and Love Me (Precisco de Voce)
15. ENNIO MORRICONE - Il Gatto

Disc Seven
1. WESTMINSTER PHILARMONIC ORCHESTRA - In the Kingdom of She/The Cruelty of She
2. KISHORE KAPOOR, KISHORE KUMAR & CHORUS - Ah Dil Kya Mahfil Hai
3. BEN E. KING - Spoiled
4. LIBRA - The Shock
5. CLAUDIO SIMONETTI, MASSIMO MORANTE & FABIO PIGNATELLI - Tenebre
6. KEIKO ASARI - Return! The Sun
7. ESTHER PHILLIPS - Just Say Goodbye
8. ENNIO MORRICONE - Bianco Rosso e Verdone
9. DR. JOHN - Jump Sturdy
10. ELLA FITZGERALD - Get Ready
11. GOBLIN - Zombi
12. GREAT SOCIETY - Free Advice
13. LOVE - A House Is Not a Motel
14. ASHA BHOSLE & CHORUS - Dum Maro Dum
15. STELVIO CIPRIANI - The Hot Chase

Disc Eight
1. WESTMINSTER PHILARMONIC ORCHESTRA - Danse Macabre
2. WESTMINSTER PHILARMONIC ORCHESTRA - The Power of Evil
3. STELVIO CIPRIANI - L'Attesa
4. AKIRA IFUKUBE - Godzilla Rebirth
5. WESTMINSTER PHILARMONIC ORCHESTRA - Sute: Introduction & Death of the Monster
6. ASHA BHOSLE - Aye Naujawan Hai Sab
7. AKIRA IFUKUBE - Sacred Fountain
8. DORIS TROY - Just One Look
9. MASARU SATOH - The Sun Rises in the West
10. AKIRA IFUKUBE - Godzilla Revives
11. TODD RUNDGREN - Wolfman Jack
12. CHORUS - Dharmatma Theme
13. ASHA BHOSLE - Mera Jaawani
14. FELIX CAVALIERE - Mountain Man
15. KEITH EMERSON - Murderock

Saturday, December 26, 2009

MÖRGLBL TRIO

MÖRGLBL TRIO
JÄZZ FOR THE DEAF (2009)
320 KBPS


Lead by guitarist extraordinaire Christophe Godin, Mörglbl Trio is not the easiest formation to pinpoint. Here, you have metal, jazz, blues, rock and a good dose of humour which doesn't ruin the mix, quite the contrary actually. Amon the many influences/references to compare Godin's band to, one might say Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai, Primus, Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, Larry Carlton, King’s X and Ron Thal's Bumbblefoot are the more obvious. In the rotten real of shred-kings, Mörglbl Trio is one of the finest examples that composition, melody, humour and skill can work hand in hand to create something both technically stupendous and entertaining to listen to. Try it, you will not be disappointed.

1. Mörglbl Circus
2. 22 Oz
3. Borderline
4. Myspacebook
5. Stoner de Brest
6. Bleach Boy
7. Monster Within Me
8. Jäzz for Deaf People
9. Point d'Org
10. Hell's Balls
11. Untold Stories
12. My Little Man

SOMETHING CORPORATE

SOMETHING CORPORATE
LEAVING THROUGH THE WINDOW (2002)
320 KBPS

Over the years, Orange County (the suburban California county that's south of Los Angeles and north of San Diego) has often been the butt of jokes among L.A. residents; the Beverly Hills/Santa Monica/West Hollywood crowd has even been known to call Orange County "Behind the Orange Curtain" (sort of like Manhattan residents having a laugh at New Jersey's expense). But all those "Orange Curtain" jokes don't erase the fact that Orange County has, in the alternative rock era, given the world some impressive bands (which have ranged from No Doubt to Nice to Under the Starry Sky). Another noteworthy Orange County act is Something Corporate, which brings strong power pop instincts to their first full-length album, Leaving Through the Window. These Southern Californians favor a style of alternative pop/rock that is punky yet vulnerable and introspective, with frontman Andrew McMahon anchoring many songs on his weathered upright piano. Given the band's reliance on his flourishes and double-fisted piano pounds, Something Corporate isn't just another emocore band in the blink-182/Fenix TX/A New Found Glory/Sloppy Meateaters vein; truth be told, they have more in common with Jimmy Eat World. Something Corporate has enough of a punky, bratty element to appeal to punk-pop and emo tastes, but they also have a strong love of melody and a sense of craftsmanship that probably was — as lead singer/pianist Andrew McMahon insists — influenced to some degree by singer/songwriters like Billy Joel and Elton John. At times, the band's power pop instincts also bring to mind Cheap Trick, although Something Corporate's lyrics are much more melancholy (and, during songs like "If You C Jordan" and "Drunk Girl," very indebted to the high school experience). Whomever one chooses to compare Something Corporate to, Leaving Through the Window is among the more memorable and promising alterna-rock efforts of 2002.

1. I Want To Save You
2. Punk Rock Princess
3. I Woke Up In A Car
4. If You C Jordan
5. The Astronaut
6. Hurricane
7. Cavanaugh Park
8. Fall
9. Straw Dog
10. Good News
11. Drunk Girl
12. Not What It Seems
13. You're Gone
14. Globes & Maps
Bonus Track
15. Konstantine

GRIBOUILLE

GRIBOUILLE
MATHIAS (1997)
320 KBPS

Gribouille, born as Marie-France Gaite in 1941, was a mercurial singer and songwriter who made her mark for a very brief time on the French pop circuit. Diagnosed early in life with a mental health condition, Gribouille spent a time in psychiatric care, but not of her choosing. Upon her release, she moved to Paris, and hooked up Jean Cocteau, leading to cabaret work. In 1966, she released her only single and her only album. Sadly, she died only two years later, after a lethal combination of medication and alcohol. 40 years later, her work remains something of a cult object. Her passionate vocals, her peculiar way to mix pop music and classic chanson still does wonders. A must hear.

1. J'Irai Danser Quand Même
2. Si Tu Ne Rentres Pas
3. Si J'Ai Le Coeur En Berne
4. Chagrin
5. Mon Ami, Mon Amour
6. Le Temps De Marie
7. Mourir De Joie
8. On N'A Pas Le Droit
9. Gueule De Bois
10. Mathias
11. Grenoble
12. Mourir Demain
13. Pauvre Camille
14. Les Roses Barbelées
15. Les Corbeaux
16. C'Est Toi Qui Me L'As Dit
17. Elle T'Attend
18. A Courte Paille
19. Viens Danser Marie
20. Les Rondes

SLAYER

SLAYER
SOUTH OF HEAVEN (1988)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

If “Reign In Blood” was the signal that sonic apocalypse had finally come of age, “South Of Heaven” cemented the deal. On this album, Slayer refined their sound, finding their groove and proudly displaying a collection of songs that firmly established them as the dark lords of metal that they truly are. Emerging with an overall sound that is quite tempered in comparison to the all-out chaos of “Reign In Blood”, Slayer initiates here the slower, but no less impacting death-crush that would spawn hundreds of imitators. On this record, vocalist/bassist Tom Araya is more focused in his singing than ever before.
His voice on tracks such as the dismal title track and the absolutely riveting and completely over the top thrasher “Live Undead” has a chilling effect which is anything but subtle. Meanwhile, as a bass guitarist, Araya concentrates on providing a solid backbone on songs like the instant neck-snapper “Behind The Crooked Cross” while the powerful tandem of Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King flesh out the group’s vibe with doomy, evil licks, manic grooves and searing leads. Although drummer Dave Lombardo has been hailed on albums prior for his intricate, speedy work, he concentrates on dynamics more than anything on this album and this combination of talents results in the best performances of his career in terms of sheer creativity.
Popular live cut “Mandatory Suicide” chugs along in diabolical fashion as King unleashes one of his trademark forays into tremolo bar destruction. The real sleeper track on this record is the absolutely shredding “Ghosts Of War”, which is a perfection of the faster-paced material of the group. With an excellently heavy version of the Judas Priest classic “Dissident Aggressor”, Slayer tip a nod to a major influence upon their deadly twin guitar attack. It is on “Spill The Blood” that Slayer are at their most haunting, as this mid-tempoed, hypnotic track hits like an anvil dropped from fifty feet high.
Slayer scores big points for being innovators with this record as it is here that they brought dynamics to extreme metal. What would at first appear as a curious career move is later realized as one of the most powerful heavy metal albums of all time.

1. South Of Heaven
2. Silent Scream
3. Live Undead
4. Behind The Crooked Cross
5. Mandatory Suicide
6. Ghosts Of War
7. Read Between The Lies
8. Cleanse The Soul
9. Dissident Aggressor
10. Spill The Blood

Friday, December 25, 2009

FREAK KITCHEN

FREAK KITCHEN
LAND OF THE FREAKS (2009)
320 KBPS

Freak Kitchen is back and it seems that things are changing for them! First some big labels became more and more interested in the combo (Roadrunner Records in France for example) and some rumors even say that the band should play in some big summer festivals next year. They truly deserve it, so if it's real, that's good news for Freak Kitchen but also for all the people who will discover them and take a big blast in their faces live. With Land Of The Freaks, Mattias, Christer and Björn propose a new chapter in their musical story and it will be disturbing perhaps for some fans but don't worry they're still "freaky" by the holy cows!
Land Of The Freaks is without any doubt the darkest and most technical album out to date of Freak Kitchen. It's probably not their easiest one to access as well and if you were in the category of those people who don't know this band (even if they believe it) and thought that they were only clowns, you'll be disappointed. Once again the majority of the lyrics talk about serious topics but the music is really deep and complex. Don't expect a lot of "funny" songs on Land Of The Freaks and even if I can't say that this album doesn't have any "fun" on it, you must be aware that Freak Kitchen probably didn't want to do something so along the lines of "Pop" this time. In my opinion Land Of The Freaks is a mix of Freak Kitchen (the album) and Freak Guitars I & II the instrumentals solo project of Mattias "IA" Eklundh. This is technical and the really specific guitar playing of IA is demonic. Can anybody here give me the name of a guitarist who can do the same kind of riffs and guitar solos? IA has his own unique sound (if you know Freak Kitchen, this is something that you can recognize in less than two seconds) and Land Of The Freaks is probably the release where we have the strongest demonstration of his talent. Freak Kitchen is also refreshing on a side, and some songs like "Teargas Jazz" for example even have some Indie sonorities (percussions, typical traditional Indians sound played by violins etc). This is cool even if on a side and to be honest I really liked the "US" FM orientation which was more present on the old albums. Land Of The Freaks remains original though and features some really good songs like "Murder Groupie", "Teargas Jazz" or "God Save The Spleen".
Despite those good songs and the fact that the album is (once again with Freak Kitchen) solid, I'm a bit disappointed by the lack of mega hits. Sure some songs are really cool but they're maybe a bit too "Prog" in a way and I regret that we don't really have some pure in your face hits like "Jerk", "Gun God" or "Nobody's Laughing". Is it a big problem? I don't know and I don't think so because after all Land Of The Freaks is different and in a good way but even if they will be cool live, those songs will probably not have the same power than some older ones. On the other hand the musicianship on the release is great, from the guitar to bass and especially the drums where Björn Fryklund gives one of his most technical, but still groovy works. With perfect production and nice cover artwork, Land Of The Freaks is a good Freak Kitchen release (two - three songs are a bit average and useless but after all that's a bit the same on every Freak Kitchen album).
It's good to see the crazy Swedish trio back on the road for good. With their new release they prove that they're able to do something different without destroying their musical roots and that's not an easy challenge. Land Of The Freaks is probably the weirdest Freak Kitchen release but it's an interesting album that you'll have to listen to more than one time to understand it. Don't be fooled, you'll need time to enjoy this release completely but with time you'll probably discover more and more little jewels on the CD. One last note of advice from me, don't miss the band on tour this year, you'll finally see what a great metal show is!

1. God Save the Spleen
2. Hip Hip Hoorah
3. Teargas Jazz
4. Sick? (Death by Hypochondria)
5. OK
6. Honey, You’re a Nazi
7. The Only Way
8. Murder Groupie
9. The Smell of Time
10. One Last Dance
11. Do Not Disturb
12. Clean it Up

JANIS JOPLIN

JANIS JOPLIN
IN CONCERT (1972)
320 KBPS

About half of this two-record set features Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company in 1968, performing songs like "Down on Me" and "Piece of My Heart." The rest, recorded in 1970, finds her with her backup group, Full Tilt Boogie, mostly performing songs from I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! Joplin puts herself out on-stage, both in terms of singing until her voice is raw and describing her life to her audiences. Parts of this album are moving, parts are heartbreaking, and the rest is just great rock & roll.

1. Down On Me
2. Bye, Bye Baby
3. All Is Loneliness
4. Piece Of My Heart
5. Road Block
6. Flower In The Sun
7. Summertime
8. Ego Rock
9. Half Moon
10. Kozmic Blues
11. Move Over
12. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
13. Get It While You Can
14. Ball And Chain

PHIL COLLINS

PHIL COLLINS
...BUT SERIOUSLY (1989)
320 KBPS

Spawning four hit singles, But Seriously topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. While pursuing much of the same formula as on No Jacket Required, there was also a move toward more organic production as Collins abandoned some of the drum machines and prominent keyboards in the up-tempo numbers in favor of live instrumentation. The decision was a good one as there's no doubt that tracks such as "Find a Way to My Heart" and "Hang in Long Enough" have enough bite to outlast his more dated sounding mid-80s material. As usual, there are a bit too many generic ballads here, but when Collins moves out of his formula as on the dramatic gospel-influenced "I Wish it Would Rain Down," featuring Eric Clapton, the results are staggering.

1. Hang In Long Enough
2. Thats Just The Way It Is
3. Do You Remember?
4. Something Happened On The Way To Heaven
5. Colours
6. I Wish It Would Rain Down
7. Another Day In Paradise
8. Heat On The Street
9. All Of My Life
10. Saturday Night And Sunday Morning
11. Father To Son
12. Find A Way To My Heart

SUPERGRASS

SUPERGRASS
I SHOULD COCO (1995)
320 KBPS

Tearing by at a breakneck speed, I Should Coco is a spectacularly eclectic debut by Supergrass, a trio barely out of their teens. Sure, the unbridled energy of the album illustrates that the band is young, yet what really illustrates how young the bandmembers are is how they borrow from their predecessors. Supergrass treat the Buzzcocks, the Beatles, Elton John, David Bowie, Blur, and Madness as if they were all the same thing — they don't make any distinction between what is cool and what isn't, they just throw everything together. Consequently, the jittery "Caught by the Fuzz" slams next to the music hall rave-up "Mansize Rooster" and the trippy psychedelia of "Sofa of My Lethargy," or the heavy stomp of "Lenny" or the bona fide teen anthem "Alright." I Should Coco is the sound of adolescence, but performed with a surprising musical versatility that makes the record's exuberant energy all the more infectious.

1. I'd Like To Know
2. Caught By The Fuzz
3. Mansize Rooster
4. Alright
5. Lose It
6. Lenny
7. Strange Ones
8. Sitting Up Straight
9. She's So Loose
10. We're Not Supposed To
11. Time
12. Sofa Of My Lethargy
13. Time To Go

Thursday, December 24, 2009

BUILT TO SPILL

BUILT TO SPILL
THERE IS NO ENEMY (2009)
320 KBPS

Indie rock stalwarts going back to the early '90s, Built to Spill have pleased fans for years, and their first album in three years, There Is No Enemy, occupies much the same territory as 2006's You in Reverse. Doug Martsch's absorbed and witty wordplay consistently turns lyrical convention on its head, the songs feature a parade of quirky hooks, and with its driving, accomplished backing, the band draws in a range of potential audiences, from its indie fan base to those who rock out to jam bands or don the headphones to dig into singer/songwriters. The always literate Martsch makes a virtue of steadfastness and reflection, the single "Hindsight" bemoaning those who wonder, "Is the grass just greener 'cause it's fake?" Meanwhile, the band attacks most of these songs, giving Martsch's reflective songwriting a little more bite, even on "Good Ol' Boredom" (which would descend into tedium if it were a ballad). Besides connecting the dots between the chugging side of Neil Young and the slightly warped alterna-pop of the Flaming Lips, Built to Spill continue releasing some of the most affecting, beguiling indie rock of the 2000s.

1. Aisle 13
2. Hindsight
3. Nowhere Lullaby
4. Good Ol' Boredom
5. Life's A Dream
6. Oh Yeah
7. Pat
8. Done
9. Planting Seeds
10. Things Fall Apart
11. Tomorrow

THE BLACK CROWES

THE BLACK CROWES
SOUTHERN HARMONY AND MUSICAL COMPANION (1992)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

The addition of the more technically gifted guitarist Marc Ford and a full-time organist gives the Black Crowes room to stretch out on The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, perhaps the band's finest moment. Using Rich Robinson's descending chord progressions as a base, the band grooves its way through a remarkably fresh-sounding collection of Faces-like rockers and ballads, tearing into the material with flair and confidence and really coming into its own as a top-notch rock & roll outfit. But while the focus is undeniably on the band's musical chemistry, Southern Harmony also boasts a strong collection of songs, striking a perfect balance between the concise Shake Your Money Maker and their later, more jam-oriented records. While there aren't as many obvious singles as on their debut album, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion is the best expression of the Crowes' ability to take a classic, tried-and-true sound and make it their own.

1. Sting Me
2. Remedy
3. Thorn In My Pride
4. Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye
5. Sometimes Salvation
6. Hotel Illness
7. Black Moon Creeping
8. No Speak No Slave
9. My Morning Song
10. Time Will Tell
Bonus Tracks
11. Sting Me (Slow)
12. 99 Lbs

SUPERIOR

SUPERIOR
YOUNIQUE (1998)
320 KBPS

"Younique" are a CD that takes a lot of listening before you get into it. The tracks are very complex and you have to sit down and listen to it to give it your full attention. The music ranges from Progressive Power Metal to quiet instrumental piano pieces.
Notable influences are Dream Theater, Faith No More, Metallica, Queensryche, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rush and Sting among others. The musicians are very tight and good as the original singer that sometimes sings in a German accent, but that isn't disturbing. You can't really compare the singer to any other singer, and that is only positive.
The best tracks are "God's Funeral" (with Queensryche influences), "Amok", "Free Minded", "Detect: Myself" (an experimental track containing saxophone, trombone and trumpet, and with Andre Matos from Angra on guest vocals) and the acoustic ballad "This Promise".
The sound quality is really good and crystal clear. Everything on this album isn't perfect, but nevertheless it's a "Younique" CD that I like really much, and I think that many will like as well. Recommended!

1. Not With Me
2. God's Funeral
3. Nothing
4. Think
5. Stop
6. Be Mine
7. Amok
8. Free Minded
9. Detect: Myself
10. This Promise
Bonus Tracks
11. Why (Acoustic w/ Andre Matos)
12. Sweet Pretence

THE WHITE OCTAVE

THE WHITE OCTAVE
STYLE N°. 6312 (2000)
320 KBPS

The White Octave do what so few bands have been able to do on Style No. 6312; they successfully fuse the urgency and vitality of punk rock with pop melodies and interesting arrangements. Sounding at times like a cross between Superchunk and The Jesus Lizard, their guttural sound also recalls such innovators as Barkmarket. Producer / engineer Bob Weston does an expert job in capturing the dirt and dirge of Devise Executes and Crossing The Rubicon, as well as the surprisingly tender passages of Appeals For Insertion.

1. Appeals For Insertion
2. Crashing The Clarion
3. Devise Executes
4. Etc.
5. Call The Kiss
6. Piss And Vinegar
7. Adult Entertainment
8. Crossing The Rubicon
9. No Resolution Theory
10. This Is Not A Subsistence Existence
11. South
12. Guts And Black Stuff
13. Style No. 6312

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ANOUAR BRAHEM

ANOUAR BRAHEM
THE ASTOUNDING EYES OF RITA (2009)
320 KBPS

The oud and its musical forefather, the lute, are thought to date back five millennia. By some accounts, it was invented by Adam’s grandson Lamech. Yet in a comparatively short period of time, Tunisian musician Anouar Brahem has liberated the ancient oud from its conventional role accompanying vocalists, redefining it as the lead instrumental voice in a series of recordings that combine improvised jazz, western chamber music, and traditional Middle Eastern musical forms. In a bit of a departure from recent prior releases, the influence of Arab classical styles is much more pronounced on Brahem’s latest offering, “The Astounding Eyes of Rita.”
If anything, the constitution of Brahem’s new quartet would suggest a slight tilt toward jazz idioms, given the presence of German bass clarinetist Klaus Gessing, recently heard on Norma Winstone’s “Distances” (one of the best CDs of 2008) and Swedish bassist Björn Meyer, a veteran of Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin, the ultramodern jazz-trance ensemble. However, while the leader still keeps one foot firmly planted in jazz territory, the blend of his oud and Lebanese percussionist Khaled Yassine’s darbouka drum create a distinctly Eastern sound.
Brahem establishes the mysterious atmosphere from the beginning with “The Lover of Beirut,” a perfect example of the dreamily languid mood created by the deep tones of Gessing’s bass clarinet and the subtle punctuations of the leader’s oud. The following “Dances with Waves” is much more melodic, up-tempo, and jazz-oriented, featuring a legitimately swinging oud solo. The richly textured “Stopover at Djibouti” also boasts two truly rousing jazz solos from Brahem and Gessing. Catchy and intriguing, it is a real standout track that seems to evolve dramatically during each new listening.
The mood then shifts back to stately melancholy with the elegiac title track, inspired by the work of the controversial Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. (Known for his militant opposition to the state of Israel, Darwish had been active in the PLO, but did criticize the factionalism of the Palestinian Authority late in his life.) It is certainly stirring music even if Darwish, to whom the CD is dedicated, is an understandably problematic figure for many.
With “Al Birwa” Brahem again pens a soothing melody that serves as a vehicle for some remarkable playing. Unlike his previous recording, Brahem eschewed the piano while composing, developing the session's selections directly on the oud. The resulting compositions indeed sound pitch-perfect arranged for his rather unusual instrumentation.
Listening to the evocative "Eyes" summons images of Tunisian cafes and Mediterranean marketplaces. Often transfixing and even transformative, it has a genuinely distinctive sound that will seduce listeners with its inspired marriage of elegant old world ambiance and the eloquence of jazz expression.

1. The Lover Of Beirut
2. Dance With Waves
3. Stopover At Djibouti
4. The Astounding Eyes Of Rita
5. Al Birwa
6. Galilée Mon Amour
7. Waking State
8. For No Apparent Reason

EZ3KIEL

EZ3KIEL
HANDLE WITH CARE (2001)
320 KBPS

Here's EZ3KIEL's second album, an album that will content those looking for spectacular rock/dub fusion. EZ3KIEL has, since, grown up to be one of the most mesmerizing acts of the French indie scene and it all started properly with "Handle With Care". Of their dub roots, they retained that addictive groove, that deep bass growl on which they've built an unexpected fusion which leans towards the best post-hardcore and rock influences adding a well served dose of aggression and grace.
So basically what we're having here is dub enhanced to reach new levels very few dub acts had roamed as of 2001. A must hear from a band that had yet to reach its full potential but already had more than most others.

1. Burnin' Dub
2. Strange Days
3. How Do You Sleep?
4. Handle With Care
5. Preface
6. Jah'S Hardcore
7. Alghan Evasion
8. Cut Fiction
9. Sur Le Fil
10. 1 Hausse D'Insensité
11. D*Bm*Th*Rf*Ck*R
12. Via Continum
13. Salystoar

CROWDED HOUSE

CROWDED HOUSE
CROWDED HOUSE (1987)
320 KBPS

Split Enz needed to end, particularly since founding member Tim Finn found his little brother Neil's growth spurt uncomfortable, but also because Neil was no longer writing tunes that made sense within the context of a band that ran the gamut from art rock to eccentric new wave. Neil was now writing songs that were undeniably totems of popcraft, but infused with the spirit and introspection of a singer/songwriter. This formula would later become quite popular with artists from Matthew Sweet to the legions of basement auteurs in the pop underground, but this sensibility was relatively unheard of in the mid-'80s — hence the birth of Crowded House. Neil retained Paul Hester from Enz, added Nick Seymour for the trio, and recorded one abandoned attempt at an album before joining with Mitchell Froom for the band's eponymous debut. At the time, Froom's clean production seemed refreshing, almost rootsy, compared to the synth pop dominating the mainstream and college scenes at the time, but in retrospect it seems a little overreaching and fussy, particularly in its addition of echo and layers of keyboards during particularly inappropriate moments. But Finn at his best overshadowed this fairly stilted production with his expert songcraft. As it happened, the record was blessed by good timing, and the majestic ballad "Don't Dream It's Over" became an international hit, while its follow-up, the breezy "Something So Strong," also turned into a hit. Both revealed different sides of Finn's talents, with the first being lyrical and the second being effervescent, but perhaps the truest testaments to his talents are "Mean to Me," "World Where You Live," and "Now We're Getting Somewhere," songs where the lyrics meld with the melody in a way that is distinctive, affecting, and personal. If the rest of the record doesn't reach those heights, it's still good, well-constructed pop, and these aforementioned highlights point the way to Temple of Low Men, where Crowded House (and particularly Finn) came into its own.

1. The World Were You Live
2. Now We're Getting Somewhere
3. Don't Dream It's Over
4. Mean To Me
5. Love You 'Til the Day I Die
6. Something So Strong
7. Hole in the River
8. Can't Carry On
9. Tombstone
10. That's What I Call Love

DANZIG

DANZIG
II: LUCIFUGE (1990)
320 KBPS

Danzig's second release is also their most diversified. They explore their blues roots with a couple of boogies, a slow shuffle, and a slide number, throwing in a '50s-reminiscent ballad in waltz time for good measure. Glenn Danzig's theatrical vocals don't prevent these numbers from working surprisingly well (except when he attempts a Mississippi Delta accent on "Killer Wolf"), demonstrating his talents and range of expression as a vocalist. The simple, somewhat standard blues-metal riffs of their debut are here ("Snakes of Christ" is a flat-out rewrite of Danzig's "Twist of Cain"), but not as plentiful, making the record more interesting and listenable. "Her Black Wings" ranks with the band's best songs.

1. Long Way Back from Hell
2. Snakes of Christ
3. Killer Wolf
4. Tired of Being Alive
5. I'm the One
6. Her Black Wings
7. Devil's Plaything
8. 777
9. Blood and Tears
10. Girl
11. Pain in the World

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT
SPECTRES (1977)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

After the success of `Don't Fear the Reaper,' it had been proven that even a complex band like Blue Oyster Cult had the potential to score huge FM radio hits; the musical pioneers earned a strong following among the nation's metal fan base with their dark, cryptic, heavy brand of rock, but the aforementioned single and album "Agents of Fortune" propelled them to Top 20 status. Perhaps sensing that their mysterious heavy metal could still make a hit single, BOC recorded "Spectres," a record which Rolling Stone described as "Hard as nails but sweet as cream...proves Blue Oyster Cult to be the Fleetwood Mac of heavy metal." It embraces the menace and grim hauntings of earlier records, but the tracks here have been sculpted slightly to allow for FM radio station accessibility (for instance, a previous example `This Ain't the Summer Of Love'). BOC were still one studio album away from letting loose with a deliberate attempt at pop-metal (1979's "Mirrors"), but this was the layout for their plan for heavy metal domination.
Most of the material on this album and its predecessor is much more direct and slightly shorter than earlier classics like `7 Screaming Diz-Busters' or `Astronomy.' But the mystique is always present, and the Cult delivers a careful, meticulous assault. The gorgeous `I Love the Night' and the irresistible `Goin' Through the Motions' are, in hindsight, obvious preludes to what BOC were aiming for with "Mirrors." `Nosferatu' and the concert crowd-pleaser `Godzilla' perfectly embrace the sci-fi/horror flick themes that have always been identified with the group, neatly woven into blistering tapestries. Blue Oyster Cult's view of romance has to be one of the most interesting, odd, and alluring perspectives of any metal band before or after them; `Fireworks' and `Death Valley Nights' (the title of which says it all) rank as some of their finest overlooked songs, while `The Golden Age of Leather' is one of the band's most articulate, elaborate anthems of the 70s.
BOC rightfully earned their title of "the thinking man's heavy metal band" and these songs are certainly no exception. "Spectres" is actually more essential than many may think; it is the dark, often haunting bridge between two musical phases in the fascinating career of the Blue Oyster Cult.

1. Godzilla
2. Golden Age Of Leather
3. Death Valley Nights
4. Searchin' For Celine
5. Fireworks
6. R. U. Ready 2 Rock
7. Celestial The Queen
8. Goin' Through The Motions
9. I Love The Night
10. Nosferatu
Bonus Tracks
11. Night Flyer
12. Dial M for Murder
13. Please Hold
14. Be My Baby

ADRIAN LEGG

ADRIAN LEGG
GUITAR AND OTHER CATHEDRALS (1990)
320 KBPS

Adrian Legg is one of those guitarists that other guitarists listen to and think "how does he do that?". If you see him live you will alter the question to "okay so that's how he does it, but how does he make it work so well?". You see, what he does is this. He has built his own guitar with a special tuning mechanism using banjo tuning pegs which he can use to retune any string extremely quickly and with perfect accuracy. So while he is playing, even while he is plucking the strings with his right hand or holding down notes with his left hand, he is constantly tuning this and that string up and down with whatever hand is free, and without any breaks in the rhythm. The result is the kind of fluid up and down bends you would expect from a pedal steel. His accuracy and fluidity in doing this is amazing to hear and even more amazing to watch. In 1999 he was voted "guitarist of the decade" by Guitar Player magazine.
Okay, so that's technique, but even great technique does not necessarily produce good music and, as a previous reviewer has rightly pointed out, too much technique for technique's sake often gets in the way of the music. Thankfully Adrian Legg doesn't fall into this trap. At least not on this album anyway. He writes all sorts of styles of music, each in a way that perfectly fits the style, and only uses his strange techniques when it makes the music better. In fact, there are only three or four of the songs on this album where he uses that particular guitar at all. On other tracks he uses various steel strung or nylon strung instruments, but always in a way that fits the music. The greatness of his compositions even outshines the greatness of his technique. The result is a collection of tunes that span a wide range of styles and feelings. There are some really beautiful tunes, one highly complex multi-faceted composition, quite a few dynamic onslaughts and even some touches of comedy.

1. Thump the Clouds
2. Cajun Interlude
3. Irish Girl
4. Midwest Sunday
5. Guitars and Other Cathedrals
6. Montreux Ramble
7. Tracy's Big Moment
8. Divorcee's Waltz
9. Tune for Derrol
10. Nail Talk
11. Reckless Love
12. Pass the Valium
13. Dying Embers

AIMEE MANN

AIMEE MANN
BACHELOR N° 2
OR THE LAST REMAINS OF THE DODO (1999)
320 KBPS

It's no shock that Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2, or the last remains of the dodo sounds identical to her songs for Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia, since it was written and recorded at roughly the same time (the two records share four songs). Yet Bachelor No. 2 is hardly a retread, having its own identity and flow; it's more intimate, a little more fragile, a little more craftmanslike — more like an Aimee Mann record, really. That, of course, is not a bad thing, especially since Mann has never sounded as assured as she does here, nor has she ever had a better set of songs. Surprisingly, this cohesive album was produced by a handful of different producers and Mann collaborated with three songwriters (Jon Brion being the most noteworthy of both categories). It sounds like the work of one writer and one production team, which is testament to the fact that Mann has finally found the ideal sound to match her literate, mildly self-deprecating, clever, melancholy, melodic style. Bachelor No. 2 is crisp, clear, and direct, but deceptive. It's hardly a guitar-and-voice record, there are layers of details in the arrangements, particularly in how the various guitars and keyboards weave seamlessly together. There has never been a better sound for her songs, and she's never been more consistently compelling as a writer either. To call Bachelor No. 2 a masterpiece may be overstating the matter somewhat, since an album this unassuming (but not unconfident) is too intimate to be labeled as such, yet it isn't hyperbole to call it the finest record Mann has made to date.

1. How Am I Different
2. Nothing Is Good Enough
3. Red Vines
4. The Fall of the World's Own Optimist
5. Satellite
6. Deathly
7. Ghost World
8. Calling It Quits
9. Susan
10. Backfire
11. It Takes All Kinds
12. Save Me
13. Just Like Anyone
14. You Do

FINLAY QUAYE

FINLAY QUAYE
VANGUARD (2000)
320 KBPS

Finlay Quaye's second album appears destined to be condemned to the same fate as Terence Trent D'Arby's similarly success-cheating sophomore release, long cited as a cautionary tale for any artist considering giving the people something other than what they want. And what they seem to want from Finlay is his trademark burbly lite-reggae pop, the kind of music that, for me, made his debut "Maverick A Strike" rather too much of an insubstantial thing. What reggae still remains on "Vanguard" is predominately of a darker, dubbier hue, surrounded here by stream-of-consciousness freeform lyrical association ("Broadcast", for example, degenerates into a lecture about the different kinds of beans Finlay enjoys), straightahead guitar rock (the single "Spiritualized", for example, inspired by his burgeoning friendship with that band's Jason Spaceman) and tales from the dark side of his new-found celebrity ("Chad Valley" alludes, briefly, to his time spent in rehab). Of course, the mere fact that a record fails to conform to some expected template doesn’t necessarily make it great, but there are sufficient strands waiting to be untangled on "Vanguard" to suggest that it's a greater musical triumph than we could have dared expect, even if it's not a commercial one.

1. Broadcast
2. Spiritualized
3. Emporer
4. Burning
5. Everybody Knows
6. Feeling Blue
7. When I Burn off into the Distance
8. Chad Valley
9. Calendar
10. British Air Rage
11. White Paper
12. Hey Now

Monday, December 21, 2009

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE
LIFE (1968)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

Just a matter of months after Dance to the Music, Sly & the Family Stone turned around and delivered Life, a record that leapfrogged over its predecessor in terms of accomplishment and achievement. The most noteworthy difference is the heavier reliance on psychedelics and fuzz guitars, plus a sharpening of songcraft that extends to even throwaways like "Chicken." As it turned out, Life didn't have any hits -- the double A-sided single "Life"/"M'Lady" barely cracked the Top 100 -- yet this feels considerably more song-oriented than its predecessor, as each track is a concise slice of tightly wound dance-funk. All the more impressive is that the group is able to strut their stuff within this context, trading off vocals and blending into an unstoppable force where it's impossible to separate the instruments, even as they solo. The songwriting might still be perfunctory or derivative in spots -- listen to how they appropriate "Eleanor Rigby" on "Plastic Jim" -- but what's impressive is how even the borrowed or recycled moments sound fresh in context. And then there are the cuts that work on their own, whether it's the aforementioned double-sided single, "Fun," "Dynamite!," or several other cuts here -- these are brilliant, intoxicating slices of funk-pop that get by as much on sound as song, and they're hard to resist.

1. Dynamite!
2. Chicken
3. Plastic Jim
4. Fun
5. Into My Own Thing
6. Harmony
7. Life
8. Love City
9. I'M An Animal
10. M'Lady
11. Jane Is A Groupee
Bonus Tracks
12. Dynamite! (Single Version)
13. Seven More Days
14. Pressure
15. Sorrow (Instrumental)

JAMES YORKSTON

JAMES YORKSTON
& THE BIG EYES FAMILY PLAYERS
FOLK SONGS (2009)
320 KBPS

James Yorkston returns in the company of The Big Eyes Family Players with a new album of traditional songs from the length and breadth of the Great Britain and Ireland, and one tune from Galicia in Spain. After a decade which has seen folk music morph into nu-folk, mobile phone-ad folk, mortgage-folk, smoothie-folk and so on, Yorkston has reached back into the tradition of song and place and drawn a line in the sand making a delightfull and essential album for all folk lovers.

1. Hills Of Greenmoor
2. Just As The Tide Was Flowing
3. Martinmas Time
4. Mary Connaught & James O'Donnell
5. Thorneymoor Woods
6. I Went To Visit The Roses
7. Pandeirada de Entrimo
8. Little Musgrave
9. Rufford Park Poachers
10. Sovay
11. Low Down In The Broom

PET SHOP BOYS

PET SHOP BOYS
NIGHTLIFE (1999)
320 KBPS

Nightlife is a loose concept album -- more of a song cycle, really -- about nightlife (naturally), a collection of moods and themes, from love to loneliness. In that sense, it's not that different from most Pet Shop Boys albums, and, musically, the album is very much of a piece with Very and Bilingual, which is to say that it relies more on craft than on innovation. Depending on your point of view, this may not be such a bad thing, since Pet Shop Boys specialize in subtle craft and masterful understatement. Such skills serve them well when they're essentially following familiar musical territory, which they are on Nightlife. At its core, the record is very much like Very -- a clever, skillful updating of classic disco, highlighted by small contemporary dance flourishes, and infused with a true sense of wit, sophistication, and intelligence. Pet Shop Boys do this music better than anyone else ever has, and they're at the top of their form here, but it's hard to shake the initial impression that they've done this before. Each individual song works beautifully, from the wistfully dejected "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" to the exhilarating Village People homage "New York City Boy," but as a whole, Nightlife seems less than the sum of its parts. Repeated listens reveal the songs' charms, yet Nightlife coasts on its craft a bit too much, which makes it feel like one of their second-tier albums.

1. For Your Own Good
2. Closer To Heaven
3. I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More
4. Happiness Is An Option
5. You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk
6. Vampires
7. Radiophonic
8. The Only One
9. Boy Strange
10. In Denial
11. New York City Boy
12. Footsteps

PEARL JAM

PEARL JAM
LIVE ON TWO LEGS (1998)
320 KBPS

Not long after Ten unexpectedly topped the charts, Pearl Jam became notorious for their intense live performances. Even more notable than the group's unbridled energy was their willingness to stretch out their songs or throw in covers, reminding jaded audiences that rock concerts could be electric and energetic. Their Seattle peers were equally (sometimes more) compelling, but Pearl Jam skillfully made arena rock feel as intimate as a punk club show — something that no other band of their time could do. Instead of building this reputation throughout the course of the '90s, the quintet let it fade away as they became embroiled in a vicious battle with Ticketmaster that ultimately proved unfruitful. Not only did the court cases tie up several years of touring, they also refused to play any venue with contracts with Ticketmaster once it was finished — which meant they played off-market venues that were difficult to reach, thereby decreasing their potential audience substantially. Once 1998's Yield didn't move as much as anyone expected, the band released Live on Two Legs a few short months later. It was culled from Yield's supporting tour, and the difference is substantial — Pearl Jam still sounds good, but they lack the wild energy that distinguished their early years. Professionalism has its good points, however, and it's true that Live on Two Legs is eminently listenable, thanks in no small part to a fine track selection illustrating that the best moments of No Code and Yield rank with Ten, Vs., and Vitalogy. For all the good points — the tight interaction, the occasional nifty solo, Eddie Vedder's powerful performance — the album never quite catches fire. Instead, Live on Two Legs is a souvenir, a thank you to fans who have stood by throughout the years, and on those terms, it's successful.

1. Corduroy
2. Given to Fly
3. Hail Hail
4. Daughter
5. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
6. Untitled
7. MFC
8. Go
9. Red Mosquito
10. Even Flow
11. Off He Goes
12. Nothingman
13. Do the Evolution
14. Betterman
15. Black
16. Fuckin' Up