Wednesday, May 23, 2007

self serving bullshit, a new crush, and this week's playlist

Two more reviews on the Foxy Digitalis site, this time around for James Blackshaw and Woods.

I'm swooning HARD from one track specifically on the new Keren Ann disc. She's that Israeli-born Parisienne who could basically be lumped in with that whole Norah Jones/NPR set but whatever. The new disc is kinda psych-lite, some Mazzy Star thing going on in the first track that's lovely, but it's the song "In Your Back" that really slays me. Lyrically it's basically aching & lovelorn but it sounds gorgeous. It makes me feel like when you get a phone call from a girl you're starry-eyed and super crushed out on and wondering if she's thinking about you, and since that feeling is utterly ephemeral and transforms to either sour grapes or is consummated, thus killing the butterflies and pinning them up in a little glass case, it's nice to find it distilled and encoded onto a little plastic disc so you can slip into it whenever you like. (just in case you think you want to call me a pussy, I should let you know that I'm wearing a Darkthrone t-shirt as I type this)

I've also been slacking on putting up my playlists from my radio show so I'm going to try to archive them here more regularly to indulge my own sick needs

Some Velvet Morning - May 21, 2007 - 89.3 FM streaming live at
  1. James Blackshaw - "Cloud Of Unknowing" - Cloud Of Unknowing
  2. Windy & Carl - "Smeared" - Mind Expansion, Vol. 1
  3. The Delta Waves - "Lovers Leap" - Dream In Real Time
  4. His Name Is Alive - "USA vs Gamelan" - Cloud Pop
  5. Odd Clouds - "track 6" - Cleft Foot of the Woods
  6. The W-Vibe - "Tape Like Cross" - Game Program
  7. The Soundtrack Of Our Lives - "Broken Imaginary Time" - Behind The Music
  8. Outrageous Cherry - "The Book of Dead Time" - X-Rays In The Cloudmine
  9. MV & EE with The Bummer Road - Canned Heat Blues - Mother of Thousands
  10. Stone Breath - "Sunshine In The Eyes Of Death" - Lanterna Lucis Viriditatis
  11. The North Sea - "Take It From Me Brother Moses" - Exquisite Idols
  12. Gary Higgins - "Thicker Than A Smokey" - Red Hash
  13. Six Organs Of Admittance - "This Hand" - Dark Noontide
  14. Giant Skyflower Band - "The Archangel (Hurray For The Beast)" - Blood Of The Sunworm
  15. Franklin's Mint - "Carousel Baby" - Gold
  16. Bonnie Prince Billy - "Lay & Love" - The Letting Go
  17. Hush Arbors - "The Werewolf Om" - Hush Arbors
  18. Current 93 - "Then Kill Caesar" - Black Ships Ate The Sky
Marissa Nadler - "Fifty Five Falls" - Ballads of Living & Dying

Friday, May 18, 2007

sun warmed synapses opened

So since the last time I updated (over a month ago, I know) I've started writing for Foxy Digitalis, an online webzine for weird music. I just had my first review published there, on The Stumps, a New Zealand band, so click that link there if you want to read it.

I probably would have been updating more had the sun not been making a regular appearance over the skies of Detroit. You have to realize that when you live through a winter as ugly as there is here, those first few days of warm sunshine feel like some sort of blissful opium fueled hallucination. You're not quite sure if it's real or not but you don't really care either, I'll usually take a false sense of security over reality any day. In conjunction with this warm weather I've found my new favorite CD to listen to while staring up at a tattered American flag waving atop a skyscraper. "Person Pitch", the new solo effort by Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) of Animal Collective. I have a hard time coming up with words to describe something this pure and good that sounds like it comes from Utopia so I probably won't write all that much about except to tell you to go buy it. It's full of lots of warm reverb laced vocals and softly throbbing drum machine loops that will have your heart beating in some kind of sympathetic rhythm to it (like when you put two clocks next to each other and their second hands fuse, ya know?) I've found the closing track "Ponytail" to be especially hypnotic while watching the weatherworn stripes of the flag on top of the Guardian Building in a slow motion wave set against the muted blue sky. That flag is some sort of admittance of our flaws and it somehow made me feel better about being from here. We're far from perfect but at least there's enough of us to own up to it.

I also really like the new album by The North Sea called "Exquisite Idols". It's a meditation that reaches the realization that Ravi Shankar is to India what the Louvin Brothers are to America. At least that's what I got out of it. There's no need to further classify. OK, maybe raga-billy, or What Happens When Sitars and Banjos meet. But anyway, it's really just a celebration of life and diversity, many spokes emanating from the same hub. If more people took that to heart we might not be doomed. "Take It From Me Brother Moses" is a raucous hillbilly gospel stomp but then followed immediately by a debate devoid of structure between a digital tongue and its analog mouth in "Cover Me With Knives".

Thee OhSees
is a band you should really be paying attention to as well. They have a new record called "Sucks Blood" that's equal parts dilated pupil psych swagger and a soft pillow to lay your fried mind on for the come down. Same thing goes for Gowns, not that they sound like Thee OhSees, just that you should probably be listening to them. There's a tune on their new album "Red State" that really got under my skin. It's called "White Like Heaven". It's a fever dream of a huge black humming monolith in a desert that you're floating towards, drawn by its energy, and once you reach it you just bask in its aura, suspended in its amniotic droning, oblivious to anything else going on in your fucked up little head. Listen to it here but so help me god don't you dare open your eyes and acknowledge the body you're imprisoned in and ruin it.

I don't mean to be so abstract but give me a break. I've been watching the films in the new Alejandro Jodorowsky box set. They've FINALLY been given a proper release. Jodorowsky has the rare combination of an unflinching artistic vision coupled with a complete lack of ego. These sort of movies would seem contrived and pretentious in less skilled hands. This is what William Blake would have been doing had film been his medium rather than ink and paper. I first saw El Topo about 8 years ago on a terrible VHS tape that seemed to be about a 6th generation dub, and it was in English no less. But now I've got that, Holy Mountain, Fando Y Lis, and an early short film called La Cravate about a girl that sells heads. To sweeten the deal, the soundtrack CDs for El Topo and Holy Mountain are included. I plan on writing a bit more on them once I've watched them a few more times. Until then, be good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Terrible Black Ponys

I put on Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain for the first time in who knows how long just now and I forgot how perfectly that album crystallizes the claustrophobic apathetic feeling that your reach will probably always exceed your grasp. To me it always sounds like idealism's quiet resignation to slow death at the hands of realism, while your escapist tendency rears its shaggy head with a "whatever" smirk plastered across its face and heavy lidded eyes.
I'm seriously not always in such an existential funk. For real. You should've seen me last Friday at the Magic Stick. I was having fun! I got there just in time to see local band The Terrible Twos take the stage. In the grand tradition of rock and roll misnomers, there were five members in the band. It would be easy to slap the "art punk" label on them since they're young, loud, and snotty but they have a keyboard player too. The truth of the matter is they just have a great, raw DIY aesthetic where musical prowess takes a backseat to the fire in your belly that you have to get out somehow. That sort of thing goes beyond any half-assed genre and sub-genre tags. Plus there were kids with honest-to-god mohawks there to see them. I'm not talking about some gentrified faux-hawk, these were big, spiky, fuck-off blue and green mohawks. They're like four leaf clovers, pretty rare to find one and it almost makes you want to go buy a lottery ticket when you see more than 3 in the same place. But the real reason I came to the show was playing next. This band makes Detroit crowds dance, and that's no small feat. Sleater-Kinney played a legendarily lackluster show in Detroit once, and had the balls to blame the crowd for "not giving them any energy". Well listen hun, I just worked 8 hours and paid too much for a shitty beer, so excuse me if I'm not doing cartwheels to your textbook indie rock. Maybe if you played something I can shake my ass too I would move more. Maybe if you were more like the Black Lips you wouldn't have a problem energizing a crowd. They were even a little more subdued this time, and still managed to have a room full of weird white kids spazzing out instead of standing with their arms crossed smoking cigarettes. And by subdued I mean I didn't see any nudity, random spontaneous hook-ups, broken bottles, or bloodied faces on the dance floor like the other times I've seen them. There was still plenty of scuzzy-fuzzy-primal-psychedelic-synapse-sizzling garage punk power to leave everyone sweaty. And unfortunately, unlike the Tijuana gig featured here, there wasn't any head butts or self-love performed by female audience members, but I wasn't really expecting all that. As fucked up as Detroit is, its nothing compared to Tijuana. Dirt cheap booze, unlimited access to pharmaceuticals, and ladies fucking donkeys make a town crazier than harsh winters and rampant unemployment. But, as an added bonus, one of the guitar players looks like a hobbit with a Paul Wall grill. You'll have to take my word for it because my camera was fucked up and I wasn't able to get any pics. The only complaint I can register is that they weren't the last band. On their previous Detroit stop they were in the opening slot as well, but The Dirtbombs played next, one of the few bands whose live show wouldn't disappoint after seeing the Black Lips. This night was a different story altogether as The Ponys were the headlining band. Don't get me wrong, I dig The Ponys. You can kinda tell that everyone in the band had an intense, all-consuming crush on bands like Ride and the Pale Saints at some point, and probably aren't strangers to an occasional bong hit or blotter tab. I love all that stuff too, but I wasn't in the mood for it after the previous set. I felt sort of like how your girlfriend must feel when you're fooling around and she comes before you do and then afterwards she's not that into it anymore. At that point she's thinking about shoes or something. So, sorry The Ponys, I still like you and all but the Black Lips made me feel like a lady and it weirded me out so I went home halfway through your set. We'll try again next time.
Anton Lachey

Thursday, March 29, 2007

the real world vs. the one in my head

I don't really see how you can argue the fact that we're all connected on some level to a giant web of consciousness. You could of course call bullshit on that, and say how could that possibly be when bands like 3 Doors Down are popular, why is Paris Hilton a celebrity, etc., but the fact is, some folks are just more tuned into it than others. Case in point, The Shins' video for Phantom Limb. Here, watch the video first and then I'll expound more on the theory. Just ignore the comments posted by YouTube members though, the only people that read and respond and care about those are internet nerds who don't really know what they're on about and who no one listens to anywhere else, which is nothing like a music blog.

So anyway, there's a little known band that Pat Smear was a member of called Death Folk that have a song called '39 that I've created an amazing video for in my head over the past few years. It's much easier to direct videos that way, there's no early call times or budgets or actors or musicians to deal with. The video in my head has almost the exact same concept as The Shins video up there. It's all children, in a school play like setting, dealing with grim adult themes tempered with sugar coated special effects to take the edge off. My video had more of a pirate/nautical war theme though, where The Shins dealt more with ground war and cannibalism (I absolutely loved the Donner Party allusions).
The one scene though that really got me going on the whole unifying theory thing was when the kids were dressed as some sort of meso-american indian tribe and cut the ram's head off. In lieu of blood there a red streamer issuing from the neck. The EXACT SAME THING happens in my Death Folk "39" video! It blew my mind. In my video though, the battle climaxes with a cannon blast, and red streamers come shooting out of the torsos of its targets. Can this be considered a theft of intellectual property? I know I didn't have a copyright or anything, but that's my own private thing and I sort of feel violated that it's now out there, out in the cold harsh world, removed from the (relative) safety of my skull. But then again, once you think it, you're projecting it out there for anyone on the same vibration as you, with an albeit stronger work ethic and financial backing, to pick up on. I have a friend who is a big New York City intellectual property lawyer, but I really don't want to bother him with this. I suppose I could sue Sub Pop and director Patrick Daughters, but it wouldn't be any good. I haven't ever told anyone about my video because I'm not very articulate about the stuff that goes on in there for the most part. Plus my case wouldn't hold in any conventional court of law. I would only have a chance in some sort of Gondry-esque dimension, with Charlie Kauffman as my legal counsel. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

xoxox 666

Is it just me, or is James Mercer, in the shots where he is seated and playing guitar with the red curtain background, looking a bit like John Cazale, a.k.a. Fredo Corleone from The Godfather films?
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I knew it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

If I am lost it's only for a little while...

Sometimes this whole blogging shit reminds me of the end of a Doogie Howser episode but...

Just when I think I'm going to pack it in and concede my lot in life as another cynical, jaded asshole with a dream deferred, brief moments of magic shine through the murk. I was well into a bottle of discount priced red wine and just wanted to put something on and sulk in a mostly dark room. Elvis Costello was on the deck but the whole High Fidelity thing was hitting a bit close to home so he just wouldn't do. So I lit a candle and chose my Band Of Horses Everything All The Time LP, since I had just played it on the radio the other night and figured "hey, these guys were in Carissa's Wierd, that was some pretty mopey shit, I know exactly what to expect from this record, all I want to do is mope, let's do this". Which was pretty much what was going on until the last 3 tracks of the LP. In the glow of the grapes and the candle those 3 songs had that amazing transcendant, soul-restorative quality that you can only achieve when music (or sex) is at it's best: it gives you a get-out-of-jail-free-card from your own head. The fucked up little bubble that you created for yourself just dissolves when you're reminded that it Really Doesn't Matter. Yes, everything is ephemeral and there's nothing you can do about that. And when you finally get that through your stupid thick skull it all comes gushing out your eyes in a torrent of salty tears and you're finally really smiling and laughing for the first time in weeks even though you're broke and have no job and think you're dealing with unrequited love or anything else that Really Doesn't Matter as long as you're still breathing. Even if the feeling won't last through to the morning, just knowing it's possible to get there again for the shortest reprieve from the darkness is all it takes to keep me going. So thank you Prometheus for the flame. Thanks René Barbier for your Mediterranean Red. And most of all thank you Band Of Horses for making me Snap Out Of It. It's the little details like that which can sometimes slip by unnoticed or be taken for granted that will save you when the big things are trying to bury you.

p.s. - I of course had to listen to the last 3 tracks about 5 times in a row, to savor the moment for as long as possible and it was on the third time that I dropped the needle in exactly the right spot in a room lit only by a flickering candle flame with most of a bottle of wine in me that I realized just how deep my vinyl addiction runs.

Some Velvet Morning playlist from 3-12-07

band song album

Fursaxa - Aegean Lore - By The Fruits You Shall Know The Roots

Matt Valentine - Cork - I Burned One With God But Cocola
If I'm Peaking Which Way Is The Sky?

Stone Breath - Sunshine In The Lanterna Lucis Viriditatis
Eyes Of Death -

The Magickal Folk Being Here Has Gold Leaf Branches compilation
Of The Faraway Tree - Caused Me Sorrow -

Marissa Nadler - Diamond Heart - Songs III - Bird On The Water

Marissa Nadler - Fifty Five Falls - Ballads Of Living & Dying

SheKeepsBees - Fangs - MiniSink Hotel

Songs:Ohia - Whip-Poor-Will - Magnolia Electric Co. (bonus disc)

Smog - Say Valley Maker - A River Ain't Too Much To Love

Bonnie Prince Then The Letting The Letting Go
Billy - Go -

Alasdair Roberts - Waxwing - The Amber Gatherers

Nick Drake - Cello Song - Five Leaves Left

Gruff Rhys - The Court Of Candylion
King Arthur -

Ghost - Daggma - Doctors Without Borders box set

Damon & Naomi - A Second Life - The Earth Is Blue

Mogwai - Yes! I Am A Long Young Team
Way From Home -

Spiritualized® - Ladies & Gentlemen Ladies & Gentleman We Are Floating In
We Are Floating Space
In Space -

Dead Meadow - Beyond The Fields Dead Meadow
We Know -

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some Velvet Morning playlist, 2-26-07

now that the search function is functioning on the radio station's website again, I'm archiving my playlists from each week's show here. This is more just for a record for me than anything else, but you all are free to peruse it as well. If you like what see you please listen in Monday mornings EST from 10 am - 12 noon to WHFR 89.3 FM, or for those of you unfortunate enough to live outside the Dearborn/Detroit area, we stream live online at WHFR.FM.

Feb. 26, 2007. Show #6 of Some Velvet Morning
(band - song - album - label)

1. Bardo Pond - Walking Cloud - Live In Philadelphia - Archive
2. Anagram - Put Your Arms Around Me Now - The Lights Went Up - Scenery
3. The Finches - Human Like A House - Human Like A House - Dulc-i-tone Records
4. Karrie Hopper - You Were Loved - An Unusual Move - Nobody's Favorite
5. SheKeepsBees - Fangs - Minisink Hotel - self released
6. His Name Is Alive - USA vs Gamelan - Cloud Pop - Silver Mountain Media Group
7. Masaki Batoh - A Ghost From The Darkened Sea - A Ghost From The Darkened Sea - The Now Sound
8. Amon Düül 2 - Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse - Wolf City - United Artists
9. The Besnard Lakes - For Agent 13 - Are The Dark Horse - Jagjaguwar
10. Windy & Carl - Sirens - Depths - Kranky
11. Charalambides - Voice Box - Gold Leaf Branches - Digitalis
12. Avarus - Sataa Nuuskaa - Ruskea Timantti - Tumulti
13. Red House Painters - Down Colorful Hill - Down Colorful Hill - 4AD
14. Six Organs Of Admittance - Oak Path - Dust & Chimes - Holy Mountain
15. Earth - Lens Of Unrectified Night - Hex: Or Printing In The Infernal Method Southern Lord
16. Hush Arbors - The Werewolf Om - untitled (re-issue of self released CD-R) - Digitalis

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Death Of An Heir Of Sorrows

Sad news from the underground, Arthur magazine calls it quits. Jay Babcock, former Arthur editor had this to say via a post on Myspace:

Laris Kreslins wanted me to buy him out of his 50% share in
Arthur [I own the other 50%] if I wanted to continue the mag since he
didn't want to do it anymore, and I couldn't raise the cash and get
someone to sign the deal that Laris wanted signed. Straight-up
greed/idiocy. Anyways Laris has now barred me from the Arthur
website/blog/mailing lists that I've maintained for the last four

While there are definitely two sides to every story, it's a damn shame that Arthur won't be around anymore. They were a forum for daring, original bands who exist on the fringes of the underground, that would get little to no press elsewhere. While Mojo is still a good read, you're not going to read about Silvester Anfang or Sunburned Hand of the Man in their pages. In addition to covering music, they were an unflagging critical voice against the current political powers that be. While most of it was preaching to the choir, it was nice to have that ally. You'll be missed Arthur. On to happier news...

The Black Lips signed to Vice Records, who have released a recording documenting the glorious, shit hot rock-n-roll trainwreck of their live performances called Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo, loosely translated as "The Brave Ones of the New World". In Tijuana of all places. Usually, live recordings aren't worth the time it takes to listen to it, or the plastic used to press them. I've gone back and listened to shows that I had a great time at, but taken out of the context of the connection between artist and performer, it loses its effect. Luckily the Black Lips shows are crazy enough that the energy is translated in the recordings. Albeit in a muted form, but you can still feel that presence. Here's a couple clips from the show it was recorded at:

Now I'm not sure if any of you have ever been to Tijuana, but I have. Boomerang is the perfect Tijuana theme song. After sitting at sidewalk bars drinking 75 cent Tecate cans while the hookers (with rooms conveniently located upstairs) cruise the gringos, your Xanax that you bought at the pharmacia finally kicks in and you feel like walking. Boomerang is the perfect soundtrack, all sloppy diazapam swagger and trying not to attract the attention of la policia (or something worse) while you're pissing in a poorly lit alley. This next clip though is the real meat and potatoes of the record.

Sea Of Blasphemy

This is the first song I've ever heard by this band, the first track on the "Let It Bloom" record. This version however, leaves the original in the dust. It's pure breakneck amphetamine garage punk, played at twice the speed of the original, magnified by that effect pedal the Electric Prunes used on "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" (I'm not going to pretend to know what it is, I'm no guitarist, I have no delusions). There's also barely contained physical violence and the sweet sounds of smashing bottles, the mark of any good party, as well as a young chica in tight black pants who is so overwhelmed the only thing she can think to do is lay down and manually stimulate herself. That is why every blogger wants to be in a band. No woman is reading this and being driven wild with lust to the point that she throws herself to the floor and pleasures herself. It's been far too long since I've been to Tijuana, my last trip to Mexico was Cancun, which really pales in comparison. There were way too many gueros for it to really feel like Mexico. Oh and by the way all you gueros, it's pronounced "Tee-HWA-nuh", not "tee-ya-wa-nuh". This concludes the Spanish lesson portion of the update.

Marissa Nadler has a new CD coming in March called Songs III:Bird On The Water. I don't really want to cheapen it by giving it some insignificant review that isn't going to come close to conveying the heartache and beauty present her music and tormented angelic vocals. Just go to her Myspace page and listen to "Diamond Heart" and buy the 7 inch.

Another band I can't get enough of lately is The Besnard Lakes. First off, they're a band from Montreal without "Wolf" in their name, nor do they play overdone dancey punk. They do however deliver a lovely brand of narcotic shoegazery reverb drenched surfy psychedelic anthems, so give them a listen you hosers.

Finally, I'd like to thank the Academy for finally recognizing the significant contributions that Martin Scorsese has brought to the world of film. Shame on you elitist bastards for taking so long to award him one. I still haven't seen The Departed though.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Belated Best-Of List

Yeah so what, I've never been in a real big hurry to do stuff. At least it's still the first month of the new year while I'm getting my best-of 2006 list together. I've also never really been into the big rush to get it done while it is still 2006, sometimes December can pull off some surprises, but that's really just a flimsy explanation for my laziness.

1. Current 93 - Black Ships Ate The Sky
I can without a doubt say this was my favorite album of the year. David Tibet (with a little shot in the arm from Mr. Six Organs Ben Chasny) visualizes the apocalypse in the form of the hungry-for-the-heavens black ships. Equal parts delicate beauty and creeping terror until the climactic title track, when he self destructs the odd little world he spent the whole album creating, then gives it a haunting requiem with a reprise from an earlier song. Interspersed with the black ship song cycle are renditions of an early Methodist hymn as interpreted by the likes of Antony, Baby Dee, Bonnie Prince Billy, and Marc Almond. While it is the same song sung about 8 different times, with this cast of mad geniuses putting their stamp on each version it's far from repetitive.

2. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
Dan Bejar sets out to make you forget that anyone else ever wrote guitar based pop songs before he did, but does it by continually referencing those that came before him. If that made sense to you, then you "get it" and don't need me to push this record on you. If not, just give these dense, complex, highly literate yet utterly accessible gems (oh god, sorry, Destroyer's Rubies + gems = terribly "clever" music critic play on words) a few listens and see if you're not converted to the "Dan Bejar is the second coming of Tim Buckley" club. I'm not just the president, I'm also a client.

3. sunnO))) + Boris - Altar
Ever since I read about this one I knew it would most likely end up on this list. It wasn't the nasty, evil, sludgy, droney wreck of an album I was expecting but it was by no means a let down. While the track "Etna" is a slowly bubbling black cauldron of low-end sound, the rest of the album is more akin to extrapolations of sunn's White 1 & 2 ambience and the quieter moments of Boris' "Pink". The grand scope of this album really didn't hit me full force until I was standing in the shadows of Mayan ruins this past December. I was in the grips of a full on psychedelic spell walking along sun-dappled paths to ancient stone edifices listening to Jesse Sykes' ethereal vocals on "The Sinking Belle", which kind of comes off as an utterly hopeless Mazzy Star tune. (that's a compliment BTW) By the time I made it back to the main "castillo" pyramid and "Akuma No Kuma" was playing, I was pretty sure the limestone rocks were vibrating at the same frequency as what was flooding my ears, and me this insignificant bag of skin and blood and organs in the middle of it all. Well even if you can't listen to this masterpiece at Chichen-Itza, you'll still dig Joe Preston's vocoder enhanced vox and the Conan (the Barbarian, not O'Brien) worthy horn arrangements and tympani/gong crashes.

4. Warmer Milks - Radish On Light
Louisville's sons of midwestern darkness have captured the same sort of toned-down ferocity that you can find on "Bad Moon Rising" era Sonic Youth, but crank the weirdness up to 10 and make it their own. Four lengthy cuts comprise the WM's first proper, unclassifiable full length release, ranging from meandering psychedelic dirges with feral, decelerated black metal-esque vocals (In The Fields) Black Sabbath meets the mummy (Pentagram Of Sores) to straight up noise rock exploration on the title cut. The perfect soundtrack for those who've embraced the notion of going to hell in a handbasket and who want to enjoy the ride. Also, you can't help but admire a band who puts THX TO NO ONE in their liner notes.

5. Howlin' Rain - Howlin' Rain
Ethan Miller (Comets on Fire) and John Moloney (Sunburned Hand Of The Man) tone down the weirdness, dust off some Allman Bros. riffs, and get back to the land with this idyllic disc. Miller's voice, unlike in his Comets material, is clearly discernible and imparts a wonderful Canned Heat/early 70s Jerry Garcia vibe to the excellent lyrics, ranging from thunderbolt struck non-believers (Calling Lightning With A Scythe) to modern day murder ballads (The Firing Of The Midnight Rain). It makes you wonder what you're missing on Blue Cathedral. This is what your dad and his brothers would have listened to if they had it in those old photos you've seen when they all have long hair and perfect mustaches and are sitting around with their shirts off drinking beer in the summer.

6. Joanna Newsom - Ys
Appalachian chipmunk warbling accompanied by a lone harp is replaced by a more polished voice delivering epic length fairy tale narratives and grandiose string arrangements, courtesy of a collaboration with Van Dyke Parks. This was another very pleasant surprise for me. I'm glad the elfin Ms. Newsom didn't succumb to the sophomore suck after such a critically acclaimed debut. (Are you paying attention, Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah?)

7. MV / EE & The Bummer Road - Mother Of Thousands
Hippie folk-raga-rock with its bare feet firmly rooted in the New England soil while its head drifts around in the black voids of space. I'm not using hippie as a derogatory term here either. These people are shining bastions of good taste in an otherwise squalid sub-culture, applying all the best aspects of the tune in-turn on- drop out ethos in a contemporary way. They're slowly but surely taking it back from the post-Phish and String Cheese Incident shabby-chic, unwashed, poorly dressed yet expensive pot smoking, SUV with a save the planet bumper sticker driving masses. This should be required listening to anyone with an extensive live bootleg collection who uses the term "dude, you gotta see 'em live" more often than their hair brush.

8. Bonnie Prince Billy - The Letting Go
Even if this wasn't one of Will Oldham's strongest albums since "Master & Everyone", this would make the list solely based on the performance of "Strange Form Of Life" from Conan O'Brien this past fall where Andrew W.K. played piano and it looked like Will's pants split at the end after dancing his weird little jig all throughout the song and howling into the microphone at the appropriate times. Bonus points for being recorded in Iceland and for the achingly sweet vocal harmonies with Dawn "Faun Fables" McCarthy. It's a nice complement to Will's world weary, cracking timbre.

9. Six Organs of Admittance - The Sun Awakens
Ben Chasny puts the cryptic, solo acoustic dust & chimes thing on the backburner and unleashes this dark psychedelic beast of an album. He bookends fretboard searing rock (Black Wall) and Ennio Morricone recording with Bedouin nomads (Attar) with a pair Octavio Paz-esque numbers (Torn By Wolves, Wolves Pup) before the murky waters of "River Of Transfiguration" swirl around and carry you down a pulsing, chanting stream of (un)conciousness while ravens in dead trees on the banks look down at you.

10. Various Artists - Jukebox Buddha
The Buddha Machine, the meditation sensation from the Far East (an ingenious little plastic box that plays 9 different mp3 loops) acts as the raw material for this CD that has artists like sunnO))), Robert Henke, Blixa Bargeld, and the Sun City Girls manipulating the loops into lovely walls of sound.

Honorable mentions and comps and shit like that:

Tom Waits - Orphans
Not to be overly pedantic but this wasn't really recorded in 2006. However, the man is a genius and I'm kinda pissed it's taken this long for a collection like this to come out.

Cat Power - The Greatest
Chan Marshall pilfers the Hi Records rhythm band and puts out the best blue eyed soul since Dusty went to Memphis.

Pink Mountaintops - Axis Of Evol
Drum machines and weird electronic tones meet hairy drug music.

The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
Brendan Benson's polish acts as the foil to Jack White's snarl while they mine the classic vein of rock without being dicks about it (Are you listening, Wolfmother?). Jack's guitar also sounds great with a real rhythm section behind it.

Belle & Sebastian - The Life's Pursuit
They finally get over losing Isobel and put a record worth listening to the whole way through since her departure.

Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
Dreamy electro lullaby sound washes wrap around you like a warm blanket to shield you from the hard, cold world outside.

Everything the Numero Group released
For real kids, if you're a music nerd, you'll drool over the compilations that this label puts out. Obscure enough to satisfy even the most discriminating snobs, ranging from northern soul to Belizean funk.

Pop Levi - Blue Honey EP
Ladytron's old bass player put out a fun little fuzzy 60's psych pop flavored EP. There's also a delta blues/flamenco number on it. One of these things is not like the other...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

no title

Listen, I won't lie, I'm shitfaced right now. There is this delicious beer put out by a brewery called Unibroue in French Canada (I'd link you to it if I wasn't smashed, so just google it if you want.) called LA FIN DU MONDE which translates into THE END OF THE WORLD par anglais. anyway I have been meaning to write up my best of 2006 albums list since I am one of "those" lost souls, but I've just been really busy procrastinating. I will say however that I was finally revealed the true power of the ALTAR album while I was visiting the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan jungle, more of that to come at a later date. I've also been doing the radio show bit here and there but haven't been able to post my playlists due to some sort of problem on the station's website. Hope you all are doing well, if any of you are reading anything I write.