Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spiritualized -- Inspired by Iceland, 07.01.10

...and a bit more from Mr. Spaceman.

Spacemen 3 -- Perfect Prescription

Probably the best Spacemen 3 record, this is some of the greatest psychedelic music to come out of the late 80's and 90's. It's a concept album chronicling an drug trip starting off with a drug score powered by Lou Reed's "Street Hassle" and steadily building up to its hard charging peak with Red Krayola's "Transparent Radiation" which doesn't even require drums to send your limbic system into overdrive. Not long after the album peaks, the doctor's been called and it's clear things are never going to be the same for our weary space traveler. The drums finally kick in as the listener's spirit is shuttled to ecstasy or heaven or outer space--take your pick. You can never really tell the difference when Jason Pierce is involved. While the band's next album, Recurring, probably was a more clear indication of the direction J. Spaceman was taking us, this record more completely foreshadows all the elements of a Spiritualized masterpiece like Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space. Psyched-out droney gospel music that blurs the lines between drugs, space, time, heaven, hell and religion. I'm never really sure which is which in these songs when after all, the authors seem to feel they are one in the same. Is Jesus the drug or the pusher? Are we blasting off into space, tripping our faces off, or being carried into heaven/drug down into hell? I really like this record considered within the trajectory of Jason Pierce's ascent. I still haven't really grown to appreciate Peter Kember's solo work, but when I do I think this album will sound even better than it already does. For me now, I just see it as a early ancestor of Ladies and Gentlemen...I'm sure hardcore fans could point out all the flaws in that statement, but nobody reads this blog anyway, so it's fine. Stand out tracks include "Ode to Street Hassle," "Walking with Jesus," and "That's Just Fine."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Josh T. Pearson -- Last of the Country Gentlemen

Pearson hasn't put out a record since 2001's The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads with his group Lift to Experience. That record was released to a lot of acclaim and even impressed John Peel so much that he had them record 3 sessions in 5 months. Pearson couldn't handle the success and felt music should be a more personal endeavor. He threw in the towel only to resurface every 3 or 4 years to play a few shows to extremely grateful audiences. A few of those shows came in 2009 as the opening act on a tour of Ireland with The Dirty 3. In fact, Warren Ellis helps out on a few tracks off ...Country Gentlemen. That's a lot of beard for one record. It was on that Dirty 3 tour that Pearson encountered two Irish toughs who who greeted him with tears in their eyes thanking him for sharing so much of himself. The songs were dark, angry confessions about suffering with and without love. After meeting these two toughs he began to feel he was being selfish keeping his music to himself and decided to record the music that could so deeply affect these guys. He and Ellis and a few others got together in a studio in Berlin to record those songs over the course of just two nights. The Last of the Country Gentlemen is the product of ten years of heartache, betrayal, and alcohol. Get ready for tough listen. Stand out tracks? This album is best consumed whole. Choke it down if you can.

Try...can't find a mediafire link. You're gonna have to buy it like I did (or stream it here). Believe me, it's worth every cent.

Check out two of the best beards in music here:

Family Portrait -- Family Portrait

I've been pretty pleased with just about everything that's been coming out on the Underwater Peoples label lately. The last Ducktails and Real Estate records have had some really sunny, laid back psychedelic grooves that almost make me wish I still smoked weed. Who knows, smoking weed might not be so bad if I just sat alone on the beach listening to these records on my iPod. I don't think I need drugs to feel as good as this debut record from Ridgewood, NJ's Family Portrait makes me feel though. This record's got really spaced-out lo-fi guitar jams, horns, decent lyrics, and some of most impressive drum grooves I've heard in a really long time. I get a real Levon Helm vibe from this drummer and no longer wonder what The Band would sound like if they spent their summers eating mushrooms and hanging out on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights. Well these days, maybe they'd just be fist pumping a lot...but if they were on the Seaside Heights boardwalk of my youth, they'd probably be shrooming and playing music like Family Portrait. Either way, I'm going to be listening to this record a lot this summer. My only complaint is that there aren't enough songs. I can't wait to hear more from this group. Stand out tracks include "Come Back to Me," "Wait," and, my personal favorite, "Killer Statements."

Dirty Beaches -- Badlands

I think Badlands is an appropriate title for this record. Listening to it makes me feel like I'm speeding down a Dakota highway through the Badlands in an old Chevy Nova after doing something I shouldn't have. This record is a dark and powerful cinematic modern day Rockabilly record. The lo-fi production makes it sound like it is being played on beat up old speakers in a classic muscle car with nothing but an 8-track player. The first time I heard it I immediately thought of songs like "Be Bop Kid" and "Sweetheart" from Suicide's second record. But it also has hints of Roy Orbision, old Doo Wop, Elvis Presley, the Cramps, Bruce Springsteen and even some of Wooden Shjips bottom-heavy road songs like "Motorbike." It's definitely music for the highway which makes it music that's hard to appreciate to it's fullest living in the Big Apple without wheels. But the great thing about records like this is they take you with you where they're going. This record is my car right now. Stand out tracks are definitely "Lord Knows Best," "Horses," and "True Blue."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oblivians -- ...Play 9 Songs with Mr. Quintron

I think Greg Cartwright is an absolute madman. I love all of the projects he's been associated with--Oblivians, Reigning Sound, Compulsive Gamblers...the man can do no wrong. You wouldn't think listening to it that 9 Songs was the album that ended Oblivians. Cartwright's decision to make a Gospel record really turned off the more punk-oriented members of the band who decided to go their separate ways after this one. To me this album sounds like a group of guys who are about to go out and destroy the world together. And the addition of mad genius Mr. Quintron to the lineup is the best move I think they ever made. It's even more amazing that Quintron hadn't even heard any of these songs before they recorded the album in one 8 hour recording session. It's a shame we only have 9 songs of this because it is truly a brilliant record. "What's the Matter Now?," "Live the Life," "Mary Lou," and "Ride That Train" are, I think, the stand out tracks on this masterpiece.

Quintron's got a new record out. Pick it up here.

X-Ray Spex -- Germfree Adolescents

I discovered Richard Hell the same week I moved to New York City a few years ago. I never listened to much punk before, but Blank Generation changed that. I was a quick covert as soon as I heard that record, and it kind of changed the way I thought of music. I had some Patti Smith records I loved and a few Stooges records I got because I thought I was supposed to have since I owned a bunch of Bowie and Lou Reed records. But I'll admit I never really listened to those Iggy Pop records until recently. I just didn't appreciate them at the time. Now I wonder what I was thinking all those years Funhouse was sitting on my shelf collecting dust. So after I got Blank Generation I started picking up all the other proto-punk, new wave, no wave records I could find. They were the perfect soundtrack to my new life in the Big Apple even though this city isn't anywhere close to as cool as it must have been in the days when those bands were playing downtown and creating a new kind of music.
Along the time I was discovering all these new records I completely overlooked for way too long, I came across this record called Germfree Adolescents and it blew me away. I had never heard anything like it before. I always wanted to get into Sleater-Kinney for some reason, but just never could. They're too restrained. The second I heard Poly Styrene screaming about this Richard Hell guy I loved so much I immediately thought of Sleater-Kinney. The only difference was, I actually loved every note I was hearing. I believe this is one of the best records to come out of that early punk rock period and it made me really sad the other day when I read Poly Styrene had passed away at 53 years old. I can only hope her legacy lives on and she's able to completely annihilate new generations of teenage rebels (and 35 year old late-blooming wannabe punk rockers like me) for centuries to come. Check out this record and enjoy two of the hardest women on the early punk rock scene (Poly Styrene and Lora Logic). "I Can't Do Anything," "Art-I-Ficial," and "Oh Bondage, Up Yours" are the stand out tracks on this record for me. "I hit him back with my pet rat!" RIP Poly Styrene.

Timber Timbre --Creep On Creepin' On

I was a little wary when I first heard the title to the latest Timber Timbre record. It was a little jokey for a band that sort of scares the bejesus out of me. I could not stop listening to their eponymous third record when it came out. It had dark violent lyrics about driving around with dead bodies in your trunk and digging up corpses with swiss army knives, all laid on top of this gothic americana/50s juke box music screeching and grinding into your mind. So when I heard the next album was gonna be called Creep on Creepin' On I wondered if the band's upward trajectory as one of my favorite bands might lose a little steam. Not so, this record is everything Timber Timbre was and more. This band will be really big someday, so see them in a tiny club now while you still can. We saw them in this little dinner theater here in the Big Apple a few weeks ago and it blew my mind. There was no light in the theater except for three red light bulbs on stage. The whole place was covered in red curtains. I felt like I was in the Bang Bang Bar on Twin Peaks. And then singer came out looking like a serial killer. Or the devil himself. I wondered several times if he sold his soul to the devil to become such an amazing performer, but then I looked around the bar and there were only like 40 other people there. It's fitting that the setting for this show reminded me so much of Twin Peaks because this new record could easily be the soundtrack to a David Lynch movie. It sounds like the band did nothing but have seances and listen to Angelo Badalamenti soundtracks and old Ritchie Valens records while recording it. And that's why I now think the title is kind of fitting. It's got that corny David Lynch humor that makes you simultaneously feel comfort, warmth, nostalgia and horror. This record makes me long for the days when I was scared of monsters underneath my bed. "Lonesome Hunter" is the stand out track here and the most likely song of this bunch to be played on a jukebox in a David Lynch movie. The Carson McCullers reference in this song is also quite fitting. Disturbing, gothic, and brilliant. Enjoy.
Try (link disabled by request, you should buy it though. i did. it's worth every cent.)

Richard Swift -- The Novelist

You know you're in for a treat when the first thing you hear when you put on a record is the sound of crickets. This one is no exception. Swift produced one of my favorite records from last year, Damien Jurado's Saint Bartlett, but lately I've been pretty obsessed with his own compositions. Reminiscent of a Smile/Song Cycle-era Van Dyke Parks, The Novelist is a very big album with a perfect mixture of chamber pop, americana, and hazy psychedelia. Echoes of Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Gershwin...Swift did all the songwriting, production, vocals, artwork, and played just about all the instruments (and there are a lot of them) on the album. "Lovely Night" and & "Looking Back..." are good places to start with this record.

Try (with Walking Without Effort)
Buy (There are also some amazing mixes Swift made on this site you that can download for free.)