Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Reckless Triumphant - Joe Namath's Knees

Continuing with the recent string of posts from Dekalb All-Stars, here is some newer material from the almighty Reckless Triumphant.  Nat has played in some of the most classic Dekalb outfits known to man, including The Metroids, The Oracles,  and Things Falling Apart.  These batch of songs (submitted just for this blog post) explores Nat's wonderfully unique approach to songwriting with rock-ish guitars.  This collection of tunes has moments where it feels like you could be listening to Stephen Malkmus's homemade demo tapes.  The lucid nature of Nat's lyrics are typically poignant but also contain hilarious elements that are hard to pin down exactly WHY they are so funny or the coordinates of the twisted sense of reality where they were born. It must be the english major in him and his love for wordplay.  I've collaborated with Nat in a number of ways over the years and have always been impressed with his skills on guitar (among other instruments) but also the way he writes songs.  I could never seem to think of interesting progressions and vocal melodies in the way that seems natural to Nat.  It's a neat thing to watch, let alone hear.  Here for the world to hear is Joe Namath's Knees.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fingers Lift - What Never Kills Me

Fingers Lift is the solo project of one of the main contributors to Things Falling Apart.  The album consists of fairly stripped down applications of acoustic guitar, possible ukelele, trumpet, banjo, strange loops, and organ.  What is most striking to me about this album is how these songs seem like they are built primarily from the vocal melodies as the core foundation.  Some songs are lush with looping harmonies and interweaving melodies that drive the songs more than any of the instruments being plucked out in the background, existing almost as an afterthought (Mystery Tracks and Stop Digging Holes).  Sonically and lyrically, the music invokes images of a deep and lonely winter.  Yet there is a sense of warmth, too.  Kind of like being alone while watching yourself getting snowed in at a remote cabin with a fireplace and a stack of wood.  I find it pretty unbelievable that the majority of this album (if not all) was recorded to a four track cassette recorder.  The sonic quality here is pretty phenomenal.  I guess if Springsteen's Nebraska can sound that good on a four track, there's no reason this can't either.  Get Lifted.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

TV Peanut - TV Peanut

Ryan Green is what I would refer to as a "Dekalb All-Star" (term courtesy of Mayilu and/or Danielle).  His roster list of bands he's been is quite impressive: The Oracles, the rock version of Handmedown Satellites, Siseeouiweed, Things Falling Apart, Nancy Drew Ghost Parade (I think?), Little Headhunter, Della Drive and the Dellettes, pretty much every band that has played the Dekalb Scrambler in the last 10 years and probably a million other things I am forgetting.  Ryan's main axe is piano.  I have known few other musicians capable of holding their own on that instrument the way Ryan does.  He is also an incredibly tasteful drummer to boot.

This release is a hard to find rarity (from what I hear) recorded sometime in the early aughts.  I think it showcases Green's obvious knack for keyboard composition.  I will post what he wrote me when I asked permission to share this album here:

"It's all keyboard sounds including the drums, midi data "recorded" to a floppy disc and played back through my alesis synth with different sounds assigned to different midi channels. weird ass custom digital reverb and distortion also programmed on the keyboard. 
the only songs that aren't that setup are 3 and 11 which were ripped from VHS camcorder tapes of the 24 hour garage sale at the purple house in i think 2003, i had my keyboard set up in the back yard. drums on 11 are jon wolff."

Here for your listening pleasure, TV Peanut.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dan Deacon - Call Me Maybe Acapella 147 Times Exponentially Layered

Too good not to post here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tyrannosaurusex - Cities of the Red Night

One of the best things about my years of playing in a no holds barred psychedelic noise-rock band in Colorado was meeting the dudes from a band called Lil' Slugger who were forged of similar ilk.  That band was and still is one of my favorites to have come out of that scene (me thinks a Lil' Slugger post will be in order in the future).  After the band went separate ways a few years ago (though an unfinished masterpiece album is apparently still in the works) the members have delved in to other projects.  Ben has an Austin based electro R&B outfit called Young Pharoahs while Joey has this here solo endeavor of Tyrannosaurusex.  This was one of the first releases I heard from Joey post-Slugger and was quite thrilled about the new direction.  Knowing him primarily as a well versed angular guitar player with incredibly tasteful licks that are hard to comprehend, this release showcases his movement towards experimenting with electronic sounds.  For much of this album, I feel like I'm stuck inside a game of pong where the boundaries and ball velocity are constantly shifting (Sunlight on Water).  There are washes of reversed keyboards and minimal drumbeats that ebb and flow in tempo but always in a way that seems natural.  There are also moments of just great sounding warped-as-fuck synths that create a nice atmosphere between the nonlinear drumbeat explorations (Strange Words in His Throat and A Hand That Shoots Blue Sparks).  But my favorite track is probably White Ship Gleaming On An Empty Sky.  Here, we have Joey's familiar angular guitar stylings superimposed with  melodic keyboard blips and feedback of some kind while the panning goes wild.  Just gorgeous, to the right set of ears I suppose.  The other highlight on here is the title track which sounds like it could have possibly been a Kid A outtake for being too weird.  Though the song is a slightly more straight forward listen than the rest of the album, the beat here is complex as fuck.  Throw in some warped/pitch shifted vocals and syncopated staccato keyboard loops, you have one hell of an album closer.  Prairie Fire Tapes put this album out and still has copies (though I don't see them on the webstore so you might have to email them direct).  Paint the city night red.

Also, here's a brand new Tyrannosaurusex track:

Monday, March 4, 2013

O Fool - Walk Off A Cliff

I know very little about this band but I believe they hail from St. Louis.  Released on Chicago's Manic Static, this release has been one of my favorites from the label.  I remember when I first heard this I think I described as if Ian Curtis had Tom Waits' band backing him. The music has a rare sort of baroque-ish/parlour music feel and is arranged exquisitely.  It's heavy on the piano and viola while the singer croons with a deep and dramatic vibrato with occasional female vocals backing him up.  Really nice sounding tape.  The Cliff.