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Monthly Archives: May 2008

It’s been cutting off file extensions lately, but you can still open the files with your regular zip program just fine, or even just add “.zip” to the end. I’ll get to some re-ups later.

Combining the elements of every vital era of rock n’ roll music and then exploding it, the KING BROTHERS approximate the sound of the Germs backing Howlin’ Wolf with his hand caught in a garbage disposal. This is very wild music and they take it very seriously. The KING BROTHERS toured the US in 1999 and 2001 and left a trail of blind worshippers in their wake. Their self-titled debut album on Bulb Records is an exercise in lo-fi dementia – it makes Guitar Wolf sound like Belle and Sebastian. The KING BROTHERS have made such a reputation for themselves in their home country as an incredible live act that they earned themselves a recording contract with Toshiba/EMI. Their new album, “In The Red”, takes their already insane sound into more dense and twisted territory. The KING BROTHERS are the new face of rock n’ roll music.

“The King Brothers are the best rock n’ roll band in the world”…
Eric Oblivian (The Oblivians)

“See them before they all die of heart attacks”…
Exile Osaka magazine

“There’s no way a band could play like that every night without dying”…
Jay Reatard (The Reatards)

“That chink broke my cymbal”…
Lance Porter (drummer of the Flash Express)

King Brothers-IN THE RED (2001)
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A shambling wreck of an album, Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers ranks among the most harrowing experiences in pop music; impassioned, erratic, and stark, it’s the slow, sinking sound of a band falling apart. Recorded with their label, Stax, poised on the verge of bankruptcy, the album finds Alex Chilton at the end of his rope, sabotaging his own music long before it can ever reach the wrecking crew of poor distribution, indifferent marketing, and disinterested pop radio; his songs are haphazardly brilliant, a head-on collision between inspiration and frustration.

The album is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, each song smacking of utter defeat and desperation; the result is either one of the most vividly emotional experiences in pop music or a completely wasted opportunity, and while the truth probably lies somewhere in between, there’s no denying Third’s magnetic pull — it’s like an undertow. Although previously issued on a variety of different labels, Rykodisc’s 1992 release is the initially definitive edition of this unfinished masterpiece, its 19 tracks most closely approximating the original planned running order while restoring the music’s intended impact; in addition to unearthing a blistering cover of the Kinks’ “At the End of the Day” and a haunting rendition of Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy,” it also appends the disturbing “Dream Lover,” which distills the album’s messiest themes into less than four minutes of psychic torment.

by Jason Ankeny,

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The Pleasure Principle was Gary Numan’s commercial supernova. The album’s worldwide success exploded him into rock’s stratosphere, blinding the world with synth-pop science. This reissue, in a sense, is every bit as prescient as its original 1979 release. Here we have some of Numan’s best known and most influential techno- rock inventions– analog masterpieces that became blueprints for much of today’s digitally- wrought electronic music. Numan seemed to put an elegant Brit-pop spin on the gritty American synth-punk sound Martin Rev and Alan Vega helped innovate. Of course, Numan covers familiar lyrical territory: songs that speak of alienation, distrust of humanity, the frighteningly close relationship between man and machine, and general existential paranoia.

Proof of Numan’s odd genius is best captured on “Films.” Evident are his patented two-tiered keyboard textures: those thick, sinister, basso drones overlapped by a light, high- register Moog blanketing, as a sinuous electric viola thread winds its way through. Nimble bass lines groove along nicely, getting a kick from behind by some heavy- duty funk- inflected drumming. Carrying such a strong rhythmic undertow, songs like “Films,” “Airlane,” “Conversation” and “M.E.” fuse the driving force of rock and roll with a comfortable measure of disco danceability.

“Oceans” presages the more ambient, orchestral turn Numan took on 1980’s brilliant Telekon. On the instrumental “Asylum,” Numan’s nightmarish piano/ synth dissonance perfectly compliments the title. And yes, there’s the hugely popular and mildly ironic take on humanity’s fanatical dependence on mechanized transportation, “Cars.” This reissue also features live versions of “Me, I Disconnect From You,” “Bombers” and “Remember I Was Vapour.” Numan also performs a humorous reconstruction of “On Broadway,” recasting the classic song as a curious tongue- in- cheek abstraction.

Even by today’s standards, The Pleasure Principle can rightfully take its place along the outer limits of modern techno-rock. Gary Numan continues to be one of the few signs of truly intelligent life in that charlatan- filled universe now known as electronica.

-Michael Sandlin,

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That Mark Sultan considered it a fine idea to dub his first solo LP The Sultanic Verses might seem stupid and/or cloying to anyone otherwise unfamiliar with the garage rock vet (and his fondness for wicked nomenclature): Sultan’s first band was christened Powersquat, his last band was called Spaceshits (featuring Skid Marks on drums!), and he’s performed under a spectrum of outrageous guises, from Needles to Von Needles to Creepy to Bridge Mixture to BBQ to Noammnn Rummnyunn to Blortz to Celeb Prenup. To supplement his solo work, Sultan also performs as half of the King Khan & BBQ Show, and in a newly reformed version of Spaceshits, known now as Les Sexareenos; comparatively speaking, The Sultanic Verses is just plain charming.

The Sultanic Verses’ 12 tracks are part-rockabilly, part-garage rock, and soaked in late 50s fuzz; Sultan runs Sultan Records from his hometown of Montreal– he’s released a handful of garage rock masterpieces from bands like the Deadly Snakes and the Daylight Lovers– and he’s clearly well-versed in both the limitations and potential euphoria of his chosen genre. Here, Sutlan plays pretty much everything himself, and the clamor consists of jangly, distorted guitar and thick, scratchy vocals. While it all starts to sound a tiny bit familiar after awhile, it’s still a glorious mess (the fact that only two songs ever manage to break the three-minute mark certainly helps). “Something Wrong” is a vaguely off-kilter homage to imperfection (“There’s something wrong/ No matter what I do/ I’m much too civilized/ There’s something wrong with you,” Sultan cackles) with a weirdly lilting chorus and a bouncy guitar melody. “Warpath” is a slightly less friendly offering: the track sounds like it was written to accompany a pocketknife throwdown at the drive-in soda fountain– think black leather jackets and blue jeans tangling into each other, girls slipping in puddles of pomade and strawberry milkshake. “Unicorn Rainbow Odyssey” (which has already been covered by Atlas Sound, the alias of Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox) channels Phil Spector’s early work with girlgroups like the Ronettes and the Crystals; “100 Little Women” is a spare– if echoing– singalong (“100 little women/ let’s rock!”).

Aesthetically-speaking, Sultan falls somewhere between the sock-hop, aw-shucks rockabilly of Buddy Holly (see also: Carl Perkins, early Elvis, Art Adams, Bobby Lee Trammell) and the darker, more perverse side of late 50s pop (see: Kip Tyler, whose 1958 flop “She’s My Witch” wouldn’t feel so out of place on The Sultanic Verses). There’s something playful and ominous about Sultan’s sound, a gentle creepiness which manages to perfectly encapsulate the whirr of teenagerdom– much as rockabilly did a half-century ago.

-Amanda Petrusich, October 12, 2007,

Mark Sultan-THE SULTANIC VERSES (2007)
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It always seems to happen. As soon as you start seeing solo LPs, expect the band in question to split up soon. Sure enough, just as this LP and Tobin Sprout’s simultaneously released Carnival Boy appeared, there came the news that Sprout was departing the ultra-prolific, Robert Pollard-led Guided by Voices to pursue his own projects. (Pollard never let him compose and sing more than a couple of pop gems per GBV album.) While this development really stinks, the good news is that Not in My Airforce (and Carnival Boy as well) suggests that the sound, style, and spirit of this uniquely talented outfit will continue unmolested. Pollard’s first solo LP, which includes Kevin Fennell on drums, is the equal of the previous few GBV LPs. The tracks are as consistently enjoyable as those on Under the Bushes Under the Stars. In addition, Pollard ushers back in the little snippets that enlivened Bee Thousand, yet he keeps the LP from seeming too hodgepodge and incoherent, as was the case with the otherwise brilliant but spotty Alien Lanes. The opening “Maggie Turns to Flies” goes to the head of the class as the most exciting, killer Pollard track ever (just ahead of Alien Lanes’ “My Son Cool” and Propeller’s epic “Under the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox”). And so many others, such as “Girl Named Captain,” “I’ve Owned You for Centuries,” the reverse-field “King of Arthur Avenue,” the spry “Get Under It,” and the ringing, acoustic numbers “The Ash Gray Proclamation” and “Roofer’s Union Fight Song,” immediately satisfy. Pollard has clearly penned a GBV LP — and a minor classic, at that!

by Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover

Robert Pollard-NOT IN MY AIRFORCE (1996)
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Rei Momo,’ David Byrne’s first solo album, is essentially a survey of Afro-Brazilian and other Latin rhythms, and while it is perhaps the most self-conscious of Byrne’s plunderings of the world’s musics, it is also the most genial and easygoing. Unlike Remain in Light, the African excursion Byrne took with Talking Heads, Rei Momo does not include a bibliography in its press package. This album’s message is in its music – a percussive, highly danceable set of songs that showcases its various sources while retaining many of the distinctive qualities of Byrne’s own work.

“Now and then I get horny/At night you do/At night you do,” Byrne warbles over the lilting rhythm of “Independence Day,” the album’s opening song, and his loopy eroticism sets the tone for the record. Byrne’s singing throughout the album is smoother and more relaxed than it typically has been in the past, and the offhand surrealism of his non sequitur lyrics (“Money doesn’t matter/Babies never lie/I’m going in the out door/I’m doing all right”) bobs along nicely atop the momentum of Rei Momo’s fifteen songs. The songs themselves are often extended by lengthy instrumental passages, and horns, strings, percussion and a wide variety of Latin instruments interweave in driving rhythmic patterns.

Dozens of musicians – tellingly, none of them Talking Heads, whose future would seem to be somewhat in doubt – perform on the album, and Byrne calls on the best. Salsa singer Celia Cruz duets with Byrne on the amusing “Loco de Amor,” which originally appeared on the soundtrack for Something Wild, and Willie Colon and Johnny Pacheco both play on the album and co-write songs with Byrne. Members of bands headed by Cruz, Rubén Blades, Tito Puente and Wilfredo Vargas appear throughout. The production by Byrne and Steve Lillywhite is bright and impeccable; each of the many instruments is presented in pristine detail without ever distracting from the overall ensemble effect.

While Remain in Light laced its polyrhythms with lyrics that explored mythology, third world politics and the relationship between tribal and contemporary ways of life, Rei Momo is a party record, a playful fantasy about life in the carefree tropics.

Byrne frequently hints at more serious concerns on the record – notably on “The Dream Police,” “Dirty Old Town” and “Don’t Want to Be Part of Your World” – but they are only clouds momentarily darkening the brilliant equatorial skies. Only “Women vs. Men,” with its depiction of the sexes battling to a violent draw, suggests that all may not be well in the sunny lands below – or in our own land. A harder perspective might have made Rei Momo an artistic triumph, rather than the perfectly enjoyable, entirely worthy latest carrying of the progressive white man’s burden. (RS 566)


David Byrne-REI MOMO (1989)
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The title is a tip-off, as is the garish, blaxploitation-chic photo on the cover — Rejuvenation, the Meters’ second album for Reprise, should be seen as a bit of a new beginning for the quintessential New Orleans funk group. It’s not a clean beginning, since they were pointing in this direction on Cabbage Alley, but this is where their glistening, clear production, crisp performances, rock influences, and hard-edged funk coalesce into a sound distinct from their Josie recordings — not better, just different. As such, this is the definitive Reprise album from the Meters, not just because the material is stronger (which admittedly is true), but because the performances are continually inspired and the production is professional but hits at a gut level, resulting in a first-class funk album.

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine,

The Meters-REJUVENATION (1974)
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You don’t have to tell me how creepy that artwork is, I know it. -Ian

Abrasive, aggressive, and antagonistic, Britain’s Throbbing Gristle pioneered industrial music; exploring death, mutilation, fascism, and degradation amid a thunderous cacophony of mechanical noise, tape loops, extremist anti-melodies, and bludgeoning beats, the group’s cultural terrorism — the “wreckers of civilization,” one tabloid called them — raised the stakes of artistic confrontation to new heights, combating all notions of commerciality and good taste with a maniacal fervor.

Breaking from the live sound of the previous Second Annual Report, D.O.A. finds the group assembling collages of computer noise (before connecting to the internet sounded almost friendly), cassette tapes on fast forward, looped feedback and tape hiss, surreptitiously recorded conversation, threatening phone calls, and much more, all to a grand alienating effect, the sound of a gray day in a British tower block after all the drugs have run out. Of course, this was the intended effect and the band succeed well enough. “Weeping,” Genesis P-Orridge’s version of a love ballad, loses itself among delayed strings and drones, a barely enunciated vocal, and a violin like a squeaky door. “Hamburger Lady” (about a burn victim) is even more repellent, but in a good way — a genuinely scary listen. “AB/7A,” on the other hand, approaches the pulsing electronics of Kraftwerk or early Yello.

by Ted Mills,

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I’ve mentioned this blog before, but it deserves another round.

This guy does his own rips of just the best rock albums, from classic to downright obscure unheard of 60s, 70s, prog, etc. I’ve come to absolutely trust it in a time when all these blogspots seem to just be in a race to post that new hip Band X leak of dubious quality. Out of probably ten different mixes of the mono version of THE WHO SELL OUT I’ve heard over the years, his ends up being the best hands down.

Check it out, but beware: you’re going to lose a few hours.