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Monthly Archives: June 2008

If I were to describe Erin’s music like a white coat wearing professor of musicology, I would say that the she creates songs that are sometimes beautiful, shy and fragile, and at other times are self-assured, powerful declarations on what it is to be alive. Erin does a great job conveying the emotion of love through well thought lyrics, and sparse, almost ghostly instrumentation. For the most part, the recording is just a space-echoed voice, and a cleanly fingerpicked Danelectro guitar.

But Erin adds many subtle touches like air organs, ukeleles, and the occasional sound of a distant, marching snare drum. Also, Rich Diem of Twelve Hour Turn plays slide guitar, and contributes a little singing to the album. People might know of Erin from her other bands, Abe Froman and Mt. Gigantic, or perhaps from Here It Is zine. She is a very talented person in art, music, and in life. I wish the best for Erin, and I hope that everyone loves this album as much as I do.

-Lenny Rutland (Bakery Outlet Records)

If you like this record even a little bit, you really need to purchase it from any of these sites:

http://www.plan-it-x.com
http://www.bakeryoutletrecords.com
http://noidearecords.com

-Ian

DOWNLOAD:

Erin Tobey-ERIN TOBEY (2005)
192kbps MP3

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It cannot be said enough: the one they call Jay Reatard is a man of many songs. The manic Memphis punker– just weeks from the release of the third in his series of six Matador 7″s– has been responsible for quite a few small-batch vinyl recordings over his storied career, most of which currently reside in that crappiest of all record stores: eBay.

So the folks at In the Red Records have gathered 17 Jay cuts from out-of-print 2006-2007 singles, stuck ’em on a CD, and called it Singles 06-07. The tracks on Singles find Jay at his most self-reliant, as the dude himself recorded, mixed, and mastered each tune. What’s more, save for a little guitar thrown on “All Wasted” by Jay’s one-time Angry Angles bandmate Alix Brown, Jay contributed all the sounds you’ll hear on the disc. You might recognize a few tracks here from Jay’s barnburning Blood Visions LP, but, dammit, they were on 7″s first, one and all.

The 3rd in our Limited Edition Jay Reatard singles series. Entitled “Always Wanting More” and backed with “You Mean Nothing To Me,” the sleeve design, by Lindsay Shutt, comes in a clear plastic sleeve with Dangerhouse-style paper half-insert; the disc is clear one-sided vinyl with both tracks on the a-side and a silkscreen design printed directly onto the b-side.

Consider purchasing these at:
http://intheredrecords.com
http://www.matadorrecords.com

DOWNLOAD:

SINGLES ’06-07 (2008 compilation)
ALWAYS WANTING MORE 7″ (2008 single)
V0 MP3

In 2000, the final album from German producer Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas project, Pop, finished in the #12 position in Pitchfork’s Top 20 albums of the year. Suffice to say that this website was a much smaller operation then, and there were far fewer writers; collectively, we also only had time for so much experimental electronic music. “IDM” as an idea still had plenty of currency, but many of the records falling under that banner were specialty items, something one would put on in a very specific time and place. And there were lots of them. In this landscape, when experimental electronic music was going in a hundred different directions at once– considering only Gas’ label, the Frankfurt imprint Mille Plateaux, you had the jagged sound of disrupted technology in Oval, the boldly politicized field recordings of Ultra Red, the filmic breakcore of Alec Empire, along with a smattering of post-rock and industrial– Gas was something we could all agree on.

Wide appeal– even amongst upstart music critics– isn’t something one would expect from this project. When working as Gas in the second half of the 1990s, Voigt’s tracks usually featured an unflinching kick-drum pulsing at a mid-tempo BPM– sometimes ping-ponging across the soundfield or encrusted with burrs of syncopation– and they typically featured samples of stern and ominous Western classical music. The string and horn drones were sourced from vinyl and proud of it, with the corresponding pops and crackles figuring prominently in the mix. The Gas sound, so distinctive as to be instantly recognizable, seemed somewhat monochrome and tightly focused at the time. It was easy to come away with the idea that the project was an exercise in Fall-like consistency– “Always different, always the same,” as John Peel said about the latter. But it’s clear now that each record was its own discrete chamber in Voigt’s overall construction. The evidence is here, on this 4xCD box set, which collects the albums proper– 1996’s self-titled record, 1997’s Zauberberg, 1999’s Königsforst, and 2000’s Pop (missing is the 1995 Modern EP as well as a couple of stray tracks)– into a single set. These records have been out of print for years– I saw a copy of Zauberberg going for $270 on Amazon not long ago– but those refusing to pay outlandish prices have been handsomely rewarded. Gas in many ways sounds even more wondrous now, and certainly more wide-ranging.

The self-titled debut, originally released in 1996, is perhaps the most beautiful entry in the catalog. The rich, shimmery drones seem less earth-bound and heavy relative to what would come later; rather than evoking a dense, mossy arboreal feel– Voigt has frequently acknowledged the sights and sounds of Germany’s Black Forest as an inspiration– Gas brings to mind images of a clear night sky, as pin-pricks of twinkling guitar samples, trails of distortion that swirl like a starry cloud dispersing into the void, and the bassy string tones all meet in a vast open space designed for contemplation. Though Gas is in some ways the most conventional of the project’s records, with moments easily relatable to trends in post-acid house ambient, it also marks Voigt as a producer with a rare ear for texture.

The following year’s Zauberberg was the solidification of quintessential Gas aesthetic. While overall the darkest and bleakest of these offerings, Zauberberg opens and closes with the deeply spiritual and uplifting organ drones one can imagine leaking from the cracked stained glass windows of a massive cathedral somewhere in the Bavarian Alps. Sandwiched between these drifting moments of blissful surrender are grim meditations on the physicality of tension. The bass drum throbs between the speakers, less a heartbeat than the icy, unremitting march of time, while Voigt’s most dissonant string samples tug everything down into the black soil. It’s a shopworn observation among Gas observers to say that the music on the individual albums closely mirrors the images record covers, but Zauberberg is as dark and menacing as the noir picture of red branches in darkness featured on its front.

Beginning precisely where Zauberberg leaves off, with rumbling strings and an unblinking kick, Königsforst eventually takes things to a far more complicated place. Where Gas had previously been defined by the sense of endlessness– insistent repetition, lengthy tracks that could conceivably go on forever, a consistent mood– Königsforst experiments with development, moving through timbres and emotional sensations with a definable dramatic arc. The album looks back and forward simultaneously as Voigt seems to be probing the limits of what the project could be. The same starry backward guitar bit that first appeared on the third track of the debut returns on the fourth track here, now yoked to a subtle double-time kick-drum that gives a sense of blood-rushing excitement. Then the album culminates in the 15-minute fifth track, an Escher-like climb through samples of orchestral horns that change almost imperceptibly with each passing bar, moving from a firm, almost militaristic growl to welcoming, optimistic swoon by the track’s end. The beatless drone that closes is another masterpiece, one that hints at massive left-turn to come on 2000’s Pop; Königsforst on its own is essentially perfect.

Pop is the best known and most admired of these discs, and it provides an obvious entry point. Which is somewhat ironic, since it’s also the most divergent by a huge margin. Had it come out under another name, it would have been difficult to know that this was a Gas record at all. The first three tracks offer three subtly different views of the same sound-field, a warm, wet place populated with bubbles, fizz, and hisses, along with keyboard drones and the sort of basslines Angelo Badalamenti used in “Twin Peaks” to suggest a rural idyll whose dark secrets were yet to be revealed. Had the record continued to explore this one direction, it might have been understood as a contemporary variation on the new age meditation record, something listeners would return to in order to chill out and “center” and so on. But Voigt had something else in mind. By the fourth track he’s returned the steady kick to the mix, and braided the percussion with a clanging repetitive bell that one imagines the Field’s Axel Willner found inspiring. As the beats disappear for two tracks the album inflates with anxiety and dread until, with the return for the 15-minute closer, we’re immersed in one of the most nervous– bordering on malicious– Gas tracks of all.

By this point, it seems, Voigt had said what he wanted to say with Gas and was ready to move onto something else, like helping to turn the Kompakt label he runs with Michael Mayer and Jürgen Paape into one of electronic music’s premier imprints. Four Gas albums in five years turned out to be quite a lot to chew on; this phase of his career is comparable to Brian Eno’s instrumental music between, say, his 1973 collaboration with Robert Fripp, No Pussyfooting, and 1978’s Music for Airports. More than anyone since Eno with the exception of Aphex Twin, Wolfgang Voigt was able to reimagine how ambient music could transform space. But he did so in a grounded, accessible manner. There’s something primal and intuitive about this stuff; as heady electronic music goes, it’s like a loaf of hearty dark bread, an easy-to-grasp but deceptively intricate musical world with a strong sense of– to stretch the metaphor– nourishment. Wolfgang Voigt’s musical interests have led him to create stark dancefloor minimalism, playful house, and trance-inducing dub-techno; but Gas was the name he gave to music that was foremost about immersive space. This is music you can lose yourself in; see you in four or five hours.

-Mark Richardson, June 05, 2008, pitchforkmedia.com

DOWNLOAD:

Gas-NAH UND FERN (2008 compilation)
V0 MP3

Hailing from Henderson, Tennessee, Jeffrey Novak is a name already familiar to those who pay attention to the whole lo-fi-garage-punk underbelly of today’s indie scene. He’s released and handful of singles and at least one album on labels in the US and Europe as a one-man-band and with his former band, The Rat Traps. He’s been at it for nearly five years and he’s barely in his 20’s. CHEAP TIME is his newest, and most serious, endeavor to date. Founded with Jemina Pearl and Nathan Vasquez of Be Your Own Pet, CHEAP TIME set out to recapture the essence of teenage schlock rock scuzz of such heroes as Redd Kross and The Runaways. Along the way members shifted as did the band’s direction. As an obsession with 70’s glam power pop ala Sparks, The Quick and Milk N’ Cookies took over, the music took on a new twisted slant that had never been hinted at in any of his previous projects. The results are the current line up of CHEAP TIME and their debut album.

CHEAP TIME’s self-titled debut album is twenty eight minutes of snotty punk pop perfection. From the New York Dolls via Germs screech of Tight Fit to the anglophile power pop of ìGinger Snapî to the bubblegum bounce of ìTrip To The Zooî, this debut has instant classic stamped all over it’s bratty face.

BUY @ http://intheredrecords.com.

It’s about time I started giving these guys some advertising. One of the best labels around nowadays. -Ian

DOWNLOAD:

Cheap Time-CHEAP TIME (2008)
V0 MP3

When Dennis Wilson’s solo debut, Pacific Ocean Blue, was released on James Guercio’s CBS-distributed Caribou Records in 1977, few had high expectations for it. Dennis’ brother Brian Wilson was, after all, the acknowledged genius and mastermind of the Beach Boys sound and his other brother Carl Wilson had the voice, so little was expected of Dennis, the pretty boy drummer and near-professional party animal. But Pacific Ocean Blue was a gorgeous masterpiece, full of a naked and affirming spirit, romantic (in the best sense of the word), lush, wise, patient, and even panoramic, almost avant-garde, and worlds past and beyond what any of the other Beach Boys were doing at the time. It was also, perhaps not surprisingly, a resounding commercial flop, although the critical reaction to the album was strong and positive. Wilson began work on a follow-up, tentatively entitled Bambu, mixing in some new New Orleans and Caribbean elements, but the project was never finished and by the time of Wilson’s death in 1983, Bambu had been sitting untouched and unfinished for nearly five years. Boots taken from LP copies of Pacific Ocean Blue and leaked tapes of the Bambu material have been bouncing around among collectors ever since and Wilson’s solo work has taken on the allure and status of lost treasure.

This wonderful two-disc set features a carefully restored and remastered version of the Pacific Ocean Blue LP and collects the remnants of Bambu along with other Wilson solo odds and ends to make a convincing case for Dennis Wilson as the other bona fide musical genius in the Beach Boys. It’s difficult to describe Wilson’s sound on these tracks, although “California gospel soul” might fit, since Wilson’s raspy, wounded vocals carry more naked emotion and feeling than any of the other Beach Boys vocalists, even if Carl (and sometimes Brian) could sing like an angel. Dennis could sing like an angel, too, but an earthbound one who lost his wings yet never lost his love of the spiritual and romantic in the world. Highlights from this gorgeous, fascinating set include the majestic “River Song”; a chilling version of Carli Munoz’s “It’s Not Too Late”; the hauntingly tentative “Thoughts of You”; the personal, intimate, and self-autobiographical “He’s a Bum”; and the two versions of “Holy Man,” the first a beautiful, charming instrumental and the second, which closes things out here, featuring a newly recorded lead vocal from Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. Beautiful, sprawling, peaceful, wise, and as tenderly romantic as the world is round, these Dennis Wilson gems are as revelatory as they are stunning. Dennis Wilson was a man in love with life, a man in love with love, and as this essential package shows, he had an achingly personal vision for it all.

by Steve Leggett, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
DISC 1
DISC 2
V0 MP3


What is there to say? -Ian

DOWNLOAD:

BLACK SABBATH (1970)
PARANOID (1970)
MASTER OF REALITY (1971)
BLACK SABBATH VOl. 4 (1972)
320kbps MP3

“Greatest hits albums are for housewives and little girls.”
-Bruce McCulloch

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m gonna let you in on something: there is no denying the majesty of the Who. Don’t even try, Slick. While they were together, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwhistle, and Keith Moon were the working class Zeppelin with just as much (if not more) fury. After they broke up, they were “Quicksilver Lightning”, tinnitus, invisible solo artist, and dead, respectively. Gloriously, we still have MCA Records treating us nice with all these boffo Who reissues. Odds and Sods is the anamoly in this rock and roll universe: it’s the b-sides and rarities album that’s more fun than the greatest hits album. If that’s not enough, this reissue has nine bonus tracks. That’s right. Nine.

The tunes run through the usual hoops of a b-sides set: covers (Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” Stones’ “Under My Thumb”), early versions of future classics (“Love Ain’t For Keeping,” “Pure and Easy”), a song recorded for an anti- smoking public service announcement (“Little Billy”), and a zany Entwhistle tune or two (my personal favorite being “Postcard,” sort of like a weird cross between “Yellow Submarine” and a soul band on a smoke break.) It’s all done up in Who-y goodness and served up with amazingly pristine sound quality, making it probably the best rock and roll reissue since Iggy and the Stooges’ 1997 mix of Raw Power. You’re a cretin if you miss the bus down to the record store to buy this puppy.

-Jason Josephes, pitchforkmedia.com

DOWNLOAD:
The Who-ODD & SODS (1974, 1998 remaster)
320kbps MP3

This download courtesy of the ever-excellent MUTANT SOUNDS blog, which I can’t recommend enough. -Ian

Suburban Lawns formed in Long Beach, California in 1978, though several members had know each other longer and played together previously under various names such as The Fabulons or Art Attack (two were students at the famous Disney-backed California Institute of the Arts or “CalArts”). They found their stride with a quirky tune called “Gidget Goes To Hell” released in 1979 on their own indpendent Suburban Industrial Records and got a boost when a music video (purportedly produced and directed by Academy-Award winning director Jonathan Demme) for the tune ran on Saturday Night Live.

Thanks to continued airplay (thanks to Rodney Bingenheimer & KROQ), the band was able to license thier self- produced debut LP to I.R.S. Records for a whopping $25,000 — more than it cost to produce — and get picked up by Ian Copeland’s Frontier Booking International. The arrangement gave them terrific opportunities to open for and tour with dozens of great UK and US bands.

The five members of Suburban Lawns took on stage names that would put smiles on the faces of anyone culturally literate: Su Tissue (Sue McLane), Vex Billingsgate (William Ranson), John Gleur (John McBurney), Frankie Ennui (Richard Whitney) and Chuck Roast (Charles Rodriguez). Su was the usual “front-person” though lead vocal duties switched from song to song with everyone except Chuck Roast singing at least one song.

Despite the regional success of the debut LP, a follow-up was a long time coming. And a long time in the pop-world often leads to turmoil brewing within bands. Shortly after Richard Mazda took on production of the their follow up, Baby (which ended up as an EP), John McBurney departed the fold. Other issues took their toll and Baby was released with little fanfare and less promotion. Soon after it hit the street the band folded. Despite a “fan club” address on the sleeve the Lawns were done.

The various members have continued to work since then. Frankie and Vex even briefly formed a new band called simply The Lawns. Su went on to the Berklee College of Music to study classic piano. She later recorded a solo album of piano and voice called Salon de Musique and played the small but memorable part of Peggy Dillman in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. Producer EJ Emmons is still active behind the Los Angeles music scene…

by Mr. Bill, http://www.irscorner.com

DOWNLOAD:
Suburban Lawns-SUBURBAN LAWNS (1981 LP)
256kbps MP3

Stop me if this gets sappy. And it might. Because Selected Ambient Works 85-92– recently reissued by PIAS America– was the very first electronic music I ever bought, and certainly the first I ever heard over and over again. Long ago, before I was old enough to drive, I would sit in a small, cluttered bedroom in my parents’ suburban ranch house, absorbed for hours by the sounds contained on this disc. The creeping basslines, the constantly mutating drum patterns, the synth tones which moved with all the grace and fluidity of a professional dancer, the strange noises that I’d be unable to identify even if I tried. Back then, Aphex Twin was making music like nothing I’d ever heard before.

What’s become apparent since is that I probably wasn’t the only one affected. After the disappointing Drukqs, it’s easy to forget that, back in the Warp Records heyday, Richard D. James was to this new breed of ambient and electronic music what Babe Ruth was to baseball. Sure, there were upstarts; U-Ziq, Squarepusher and Autechre were all on the scene by the time this collection hit shelves. But James was still the posterboy, the presumed ringmaster, single-handedly defining a style of music in the minds of many. Now, as a new wave of mostly twenty-somethings step to the forefront of IDM, redefining electronic music for the third time in a decade, it becomes more and more obvious just how far reaching James’ influence was.

There’s nothing new about this re-release, aside from improved availability and decreased cost. But then, improving on this package would be near impossible. Sure, the music on Selected Ambient Works 85-92 may sound a bit dated (as does, to be fair, most electronic music more than a few years old), but there’s no denying it was the defining statement of Warp’s early years, and the foundation for the careers of bands like Boards of Canada and Plaid.

The songs here are not ambient in the same way as those on this disc’s sequel. Technically, most fall into Brian Eno’s broad definition of the style– it can be appreciated in small segments just as much as in its entirety. The music develops slowly, unafraid to linger on a particularly effective sound for as long as necessary– the creeping keyboard loop of “Schottkey 7th Path,” for example, is continually modified throughout the course of the song, but never once eliminated from the mix– but James would never be content as a mere follower in anyone’s footsteps. His work here serves a model for what would come to be known as traditional IDM. A simpler version of the style we’ve grown accustomed to, certainly, but IDM nonetheless.

James’ early work is heavily indebted to early dance music, filled with beats so eminently danceable as to confuse those who only know him from the spastic drum patterns that came later. There’s little of that here, though. Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is, rather, an album stretching back to the days before software allowed for heavy sampling or glitch technology. Drum machines serve as its backbone and synthesized bass and keyboard sounds provide the meat. Most of the songs follow a relatively basic formula as well. One element– say, a synth melody– is introduced and repeated, and as new elements are added with each go round, the song gradually builds to a dense, multi-layered swirl. This Ravel-esque approach flavors much of James’ older material, and yet, despite the simplicity of his equipment and approach, the songs here are both interesting and varied, ranging from the dancefloor-friendly beats of “Pulsewidth” to the industrial clanks and whirs of “Green Calx.”

Indeed, these early works do a fine job of showcasing James’ ability to transform even the most seemingly mundane patterns into something unique and interesting. “Hedphelym,” for instance, is built around a relentless headache-throb cliche of a house beat. But James surrounds the pulsation with an ethereal feedback that bleeds all over the track, leaving the percussion awash in a murky solution of synth tones, pairing dance music with ambience in ways the Orb never dreamed possible.

Slightly more structured (and equally enjoyable) is “We are the Music Makers,” a track which follows a drumbeat and a bassline past a pair of intertwined synth loops and a repeated Willy Wonka vocal sample as simple keyboard melodies pour down from overhead. But the aforementioned “Green Calx” is the closest Selected Ambient Works 85-92 comes to the spastic trickery of which James would become such a pioneer. It matches pitchshifted tones and drum machines with a burbling bassline, assorted machine-gun synth interjections, the slightly effected tones of various pistons, motors, and machines, and even the occasional cartoon spring noise. Moments like these serve to foreshadow both James’ later work, as well as the infinitely more complex twists and turns that IDM would make in the years that would follow.

They say next to no one heard the Velvet Underground’s first album when it was released, but everyone who did went on to start a band. Listening to Selected Ambient Works 85-92, one can’t help but imagine the seeds being planted in the imaginations of the lucky few who were there when it all began. Nestled in these simple, undeniably danceable tracks are the roots of contemporary IDM. And despite its somewhat primitive origins, the final product remains among the most interesting ever created with a keyboard and a computer.

-David M. Pecoraro, pitchforkmedia.com

DOWNLOAD:
Aphex Twin-SELECTED AMBIENT WORKS ’85-92 (1993, 2008 remaster)
320kbps MP3

This album tends to get lost in the amazing run of perfect albums Bowie did from 1970-80. It’s great. Sabbath-heavy arrangements by the oft-undercredited lead guitarist Mick Ronson. He’s also the guy that did all the arrangements for Lou Reed’s TRANSFORMER album and most Bowie from 1970-73. -Ian

Even though it contained no hits, The Man Who Sold the World, for most intents and purposes, is the beginning of David Bowie’s classic period. Working with guitarist Mick Ronson and producer Tony Visconti for the first time, Bowie developed a tight, twisted heavy guitar rock that appears simple on the surface but sounds more gnarled upon each listen. The mix is off-center, with the fuzz-bass dominating the compressed, razor-thin guitars and Bowie’s strangled, affected voice.

The sound of The Man Who Sold the World is odd, but the music is bizarre itself, with Bowie’s bizarre, paranoid futuristic tales melded to Ronson’s riffing and the band’s relentless attack. Musically, there isn’t much innovation on The Man Who Sold the World — it is almost all hard blues-rock or psychedelic folk-rock — but there’s an unsettling edge to the band’s performance, which makes the record one of Bowie’s best albums. [Rykodisc’s 1990 CD reissue includes four bonus tracks, including the previously unreleased “Lightning Frightening,” and the single “Holy Holy,” and both sides of the 1971 “Arnold Corns” single, “Moonage Daydream” and “Hang On to Yourself,” which are early and inferior versions of songs that would later appear on Ziggy Stardust.]

-Ned Raggett, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
David Bowie-THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD (1970)
320kbps MP3