Friday, December 25, 2015

The Falbonauts - Coal, Frangelico, and Myrrh

Just in the nick of time on this Christmas Day of 2015, The Falbonauts' album of holiday covers is here for your listening pleasure.  Hurry up and give it a listen/download over at the bandcamp site while there's still like 7 hours of Christmas left.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Election - Live At Sylvie's 2/2/2006

Chicago in the mid-aughts was a pretty special time and place for music and creativity.  I am probably biased in this assessment because it was also the era in which my own early creative endeavors were coming to fruition.  Nonetheless, I met some pretty amazing people during those formative years and this little known band, The Election, contained a handful of them.

What happens when a bunch of classically trained musicians with a penchant for The Weird get together and explore the deepest realms of writing and performance?  Well The Election sought to do just that.  Imagine a band that combines operatic singing styles with a cellist heavily into Siamese Dream, a drummer who loved jazz as much as prog-rock, a keyboardist who made his living writing pop jingles but was also likely influenced by John Cage, and a viola player who was the first person to play Mellow Gold for me in 6th grade.  By my standards, everyone in this band was a legit genius.  Their sense of humor in their approach to making music was incredibly inspiring.  For instance, song four was dedicated to the "Commander In Chief" (keep in mind this was the depths of the Bush era) and the only lyrics consist of "You're stupid, You're so stupid."  The genius in simplicity was not lost on these folks.  My favorite song this band ever made was the closer, Blow Hard.  A groovy sing/speak pseudo rap gives way to an extended rock section with falsetto vocals and finally playing out into a masterfully written ballad.

The band was short lived, sadly, but some members went on to form the massive orchestra called The Origin of Animal while a couple others formed an insanely creative project called Nuclear Biologist Rocket Surgeons (more on them in the next post).  In any case, The Election is where these weirdos cut their teeth.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Scratch and Sniff Records Reunion Show - 8/16/14

The majority of music posted on this blog has, in some way, been affiliated with the small DIY label Scratch and Sniff Records.  In August of 2014, some of the great minds behind the stellar music released on this label converged to do a "reunion" show of sorts.  Among the performers were The Nick Elert Trio (formerly of This Specific Dream), Icarus Syndrome, Things Falling Apart, and Veterans of Flight.  The recording didn't really get going until halfway through the Nick Elert Trio's set so theirs is only partially documented.

Nick Elert Trio

Icarus Syndrome

Things Falling Apart

Veterans of Flight

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WDBS (Duke University) Radio Show - May 10th, 1966

Some years ago I acquired a handful of pre-recorded 1/4" reels of tape from my buddy Jared which I finally sifted through three months ago after a two track reel-to-reel machine came into my possession.  Among them was this recorded radio show of two DJs at the Duke college station (WDBS).  I was pretty hammered when I found this tape and it tickled me to no end.  It's a literal piece of history consisting of the immensely charming and loose-natured college radio programming that could only occur in an era like the mid-60's.  The first DJ is Steve Denenberg (my friend Jared's uncle) who was also in the completely underrated 1960's garage rock band, The Horde.  Having knowledge of The Horde prior to hearing this and connecting the dots with this reel of tape in my drunken state of mind was kind of thrilling, actually.  Steve later plays as part of an acoustic duo called "The Fly and the Faggot" on the second show DJ'd by "Stormin' Norman."  All of the songs that aired on the show are cut out of the tape recording (I imagine it was recorded more for the DJs and less so for the music being played.)

A disheveled Denenberg sort of misanthropically shuffles through his DJ set while reading the required sponsor ads in an almost sarcastic tone, so of course I was way into this.  There is nothing but shenanigans and hilarity during Norman's set as Denenberg distracts Norman at every turn and it sounds like there may have been consumption of multiple substances happening in the studio, though that is pure speculation on my part.  "The Fly and the Faggot" play some really honest covers of classic songs like 'Sloop John B,' 'Route 66,' and 'On The Road Again.'  What grabbed me prior to these covers was actually an original song by the duo (5:14 on the second track) about yearning for a lost lover to come back and give it another chance.  The honesty and simplicity of the song must have hit me at just the right moment because I played it back 2 or 3 times before listening on.

I was inspired to digitize this tape when North Carolinian friend and guitar legend, Daniel Bachman, came and visited me for a night.  I knew he would appreciate this bit of Duke history and boy did he ever.  He asked me to digitize this for some of his friends in Durham who are heavily involved in the college radio scene.  So here, partake in this tiny slice of nearly 50 year old college radio nostalgia.

I emailed this to Jared after I digitized it to send to Steve and I got this response back from Steve himself:


I'm amazed that you unearthed the recordings and appreciative of the time and trouble you took to digitize them.
My dad had so many tapes. There was no way to hang onto all and before giving them away I tried to save anything of worth.
I guess this one-and it's questionable worth-was overlooked. I sure had forgotten that such a recording existed
It is me, a young goofy me. Something of an air check from May 10, 1966.
I worked at WDBS during first two years at Duke. What I remember most was I was finally "fired" due to my lack of on air seriousness.
This probably was my last show.
In those days WDBS did not actually broadcast over the air but was transmitted through the campus power lines.
Due to that and it's listening format at the time-easy listening pop-it wasn't much listened to and at the time I 
thought I gave it such seriousness as the circumstances 
deserved.
(And those live performances. I'm still working my way through that part. I don't remember that at all!)
Thanks. 
All the best.
Steve




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

icarus syndrome - The Fun Tunnels of Foosland

It is releases like this that remind me why I started this silly blog years ago.  If you have visited this site with any frequency whatsoever then Icarus Syndrome needs no introduction to you.  His first album in something like 5 or 6 years does anything but disappoint.  Undergoing countless demos and revisions in the 5 year span, this is the culmination of a great songwriter taking utmost care in honing his craft.  Forgoing the usual Icarus modus operandi of 47-minute cassette albums, this one clocks in at about 70 minutes with maybe thirty existing copies floating around.  It was recorded to a Yamaha MT8X 8-track cassette recorder and mixed down in real time (with assistance and FX manipulation by yours truly) to a 1/4" two track reel-to-reel machine.

Sonically speaking, there are many elements here (namely, the use of organ beats) that greatly remind me of picking up where perhaps Pie Rhymes left off but with more of a rock approach at times.  Though, there are some stellar acoustic and instrumental meditations thrown in to balance out the overall delivery.  Lyrically, there is A LOT going on; expertly tackled are such subjects as death, regeneration, the subconscious tunnels of the human psyche, motorboating a pair of cosmic breasts, finding solace in matinees, ladies of danger, bad gravity as a byproduct of the human condition, and the innerconnectedness (sic) of all things.  I've personally witnessed the lyrical evolution of many of these songs and am constantly surprised at the quality of what actually gets thrown out in favor of something even better, but in the end it's all for the sake of the song.  In conversations with the man behind this work of art, he seems to have a general view that everything he recorded up until this album is considered "practice" or perhaps his version of an "undergrad degree."  This is his Master's.

Here's a link to the man's bandcamp if you feel compelled to pay for the album.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Dandyls - "Only Love"

Atlanta resident weirdos, The Dandyls, are slated to release their long awaited debut album "Malia" on July 2nd with the band as a fully realized rock outfit.  I've had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at this one and lemme tell ya it's been well worth the wait.  Something like a modernized rock version of The Fugs, The Dandyls do not hold back whatsoever on "Malia."  You can order the new album on July 2nd here at their bandcamp.  In the meantime, here's a video for "Only Love" they shot for the new release.  Also, don't forget to call The Dandyls hotline at 844-420-4242...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

France Sauvage - Tanzprocesz Live Series Vol. 6

Miraculously, I went to France one time.  While I was in the northern region in the university town of Rennes, I made my way to a small independent record shop.  I had a rule to not make a habit of doing that too often on the trip but this was one of the few exceptions.  The experimental section was pretty potent and a good variety of psych stuff, too.  But then I saw the collection of local weirdo French cassettes that were for sale.  I told the shopkeeper that I wanted recommendations, explaining I liked the weird stuff; noise, experimental, psych-folk, bizarre synth pop... anything in that realm.  In total, I walked away with 5 tapes and this France Sauvage was the most highly recommended of the bunch.  It also turned out to be my favorite and possibly the most brutal tape I own.

This power electronics/live drums trio had me from the get-go of this performance.  The drummer sounds like a pissed of ape who made it through all three levels of calculus, beating the shit out of the kit in the hopes that someone will let him out of his cage.  The god-knows-what electronics mimic the impending doom that awaits all of humanity at the edge of the proverbial void.  Elements of early Lightning Bolt could be referenced but this band goes to other, darker planes of existence with the sound.  Although this is a live show (hence the title) and I imagine portions of this are improvised, it does sound extremely well composed.  It's not all chaos and doom, either.  There are several moments of beautiful, almost melodic, clarity one might recognize when accepting their fate and giving in to the eternal abyss (about 3:55 into "Le Château Très Fort.")  There are also times when the drums take a break and the electronics glitch out on some sort of spastic randomized drum machine sequence.  Unlike other noise acts, the compositions go places and they do so quickly, allowing the music to stay continually interesting throughout the set.  This is one of the few noise tapes I own that I have flipped over multiple times for consecutive listens.

Although this album is free to download through the label's site (also worth digging through if you are looking to discover obscure French noise artists), I've uploaded it here with the scanned artwork; a thick coated white cardstock with red thread hand sewn throughout.

Jerusalem & The Starbaskets/Flowers - Split CS

I've been digitizing more tapes as of late and I thought I'd post up this rarity split cassette between Jerusalem & The Starbaskets and a band called Flowers.  I picked up this tape a few years back in the used section at Permanent Records.  I was already a fan of JATSB so the purchase was a no brainer.  Featuring an even more intimate and mellowed out vibe than much of Jerusalem's other work, it's fairly sparse on the drums and heavy on the great country-ish vocal melodies.  I had known JATSB to be a duo but there's a fella named Terry playing with them on this release.

I was curious what this band Flowers was going to be like, as the liner notes showed that the songs alternated between each band, rather than a band on either side.  Holy wowzer was I pleasantly surprised.  Incredibly meditative electric guitar pluckings layered with murky yet beautiful vocal melodies rising up from the depths of the tape.  Checking the liner notes, it appears that Flowers consisted of Jeremy and Terry from JATSB and Rex, who I assume is the same Rex from the notorious krautrock experts, Cave.  Makes sense considering the genesis of Warhammer 48K (pre-Cave) and JATSB originated in Columbia, MO where this tape was recorded.  The album flows seamlessly between each band, creating a consistency in tone and overall song style.  The Flowers songs really stick with me, though.  "Sunset (of logic)," in particular, always makes me stop whatever it is I'm doing and forces me to just listen, getting lost in the simple and infectious melody.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Metal Machine Music For Airports

The Variable Why sent me this link today and I'm so glad he did.  Mash up of Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" and Eno's "Music For Airports."







Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Horde - Press Buttons Firmly

This late 60's garage rock gem came to me via my friend Jared whose uncle was a member of this Durham, NC area quintet.  Seeing a 2013 Break-A-Way Records reissue, this album encapsulates the Nuggets/Pebbles era garage rock to a tee.  Drawing from the fervor of bands like Count Five and a dash of the more psychedelic bands like Kaleidoscope,  The Horde's sound coalesces in to some serious garage rock bangers.   Consisting of both covers and originals alike, the album contains all 14 songs recorded at different points in 1967.  The cover of Them's "Gloria" that was a set staple among the garage rock bands of that era, might be one of the best (and most intense) renditions I've ever heard.  The album is worth a listen for that cover alone.

According to the liner notes, the first 10 song recording session was brought to fruition by a Duke student, Elizabeth Locke, who wanted to record some of her own songs with the band.  The deal was that she would pay for the session and after her songs were tracked then the band would have free reign in the studio. Thus, the first track "Troubles" features Elizabeth on lead vocals.  The band really pulls back the reigns on "Tell Me"(Stones cover) showcasing the purer side of the band's vocal abilities and trading the fast drumming coupled with distorted guitars for a clean (almost acoustic) tone. The last four songs on the album were recorded late in '67 and shows the band's growth in to a slightly more psychedelic realm.  This occurs most notably on "VD's Thing", a darker instrumental jam with every instrument trading rippin' solos.  However, the first track from this session "No Need To Wonder Why" is much more along the lines of psych-folk a la Donovan, opting for a slower tempo and beautiful vocal harmonies which combine to help create a wonderfully executed composition.

Truly a lost gem of the Nuggets era garage scene, this album is on par with the best of what's been reissued in the subsequent decades since the 60's demise.  Press buttons firmly.