30 October 2009

LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem (2005)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"If a music-nerd version of Animal House set in 2005 is ever made, "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" -- the boisterous opener of LCD Soundsystem -- would make an ideal theme song for the fraternity on which it is based. The self-conscious, awkward music obsessives pledging into this fraternity would have to pass a complex trivia test, own a compulsory list of records, and, as a hazing ritual, ask to dance with someone in public. If LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy were the least bit open to the concept, he could be the fraternity's advisor. Judging from a handful of singles and this album, he'd be more than qualified. His first A-side, 2002's "Losing My Edge," laid all his cards on the table, name-checking nearly everything that has been branded indispensable by a record store clerk during the past 20 years. This is someone who clearly owns tons of records and cannot escape them when making his own music. Acid house, post-punk, garage rock, psychedelic pop, and at least a dozen other things factor into his songs, and he's not afraid to be obvious. On occasion, he doesn't even allow fellow nerds to play guessing games. This is the case with "Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up" -- drowsy/dazed John Lennon vibes through and through -- as well as the drifting/uplifting "The Great Release" -- an alternate closer to either of Brian Eno's first two solo records. Otherwise, Murphy's songs cough up references from his subconscious or are put together as if he's thinking more like a DJ, finding ways to combine elements from disparate sources. "Movement" careens into high-energy guitar squall after a pounding beat and cranky synths; "On Repeat" happily replicates the scratches and jabs of guitar heard from A Certain Ratio, PiL, and Gang of Four, but its mechanical pulse and curveball synth effects couldn't be any more distanced from those three groups. Nothing here exceeds the brilliance of "Beat Connection" or "Yeah." Like just about everybody else these days, Murphy's more skilled at creating isolated tracks than making full-lengths, even though this particular full-length has few weak spots and unfolds smoothly as you listen to it from beginning to end. The bonus disc, containing all the stray single tracks, adds a great deal of value."

Get it here.

Coming back bearing gifts

Oh No, brother of Madlib, is back after coming out with Dr. No's Oxperiment which has the most crucial use of Turkish & Lebanese Psyche samples. Now he has done it again with Ethiopium which has...you guessed it, all Ethiopian samples.

It finally came out and to say the least, it is amazing... download quickly, stones throw takes down these things quickly. Sorry for the delay of posts, school has been a bitch, who would have thought taking 3 spanish lit classes would be a shitload of work. I am back for weekly album reviews.

29 October 2009

Portishead - Portishead (1997)

Once upon a time, there were multiple bloggers here. One of my cohorts (that has since vanished into the ether) previously posted Portishead's debut and new album. So, with this you'll have all the Portishead you need (since I'd recommend the DVD version of Roseland NYC Live over the CD version).

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"Portishead's debut album, Dummy, popularized trip-hop, making its slow, narcotic rhythms, hypnotic samples, and film noir production commonplace among sophisticated, self-consciously "mature" pop fans. The group recoiled from such widespread acclaim and influence, taking three years to deliver its eponymous second album. On the surface, Portishead isn't all that dissimilar from Dummy, but its haunting, foreboding sonic textures make it clear that the group isn't interested in the crossover success of such fellow travelers as Sneaker Pimps. Upon repeated plays, the subtle differences between the two albums become clear. Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley recorded original music that they later sampled for the backing tracks on the album, giving the record a hazy, dreamlike quality that shares many of the same signatures of Dummy, but is darker and more adventurous. Beth Gibbons has taken the opportunity to play up her tortured diva role to the hilt, emoting wildly over the tracks. Her voice is electronically phased on most of the tracks, adding layers to the claustrophobic menace of the music. The sonics on Portishead would make it an impressive follow-up, but what seals its success is the remarkable songwriting. Throughout the album, the group crafts impeccable modern-day torch songs, from the frightening, repetitive "Cowboys" to the horn-punctuated "All Mine," which justify the detailed, engrossing production. The end result is an album that reveals more with each listen and becomes more captivating and haunting each time it's played."

Get it here.

28 October 2009

Keith Hudson - Flesh of My Skin, Blood of My Blood (1975)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"Producer Keith Hudson notched up his first hit in 1968 with Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way." Many more followed in its wake, excellent vocal numbers, sizzling DJ cuts, and extraordinary instrumentals all found favor with the public. What were receiving less notice, however, were Hudson's own self-productions, and in 1974, the singing producer decided to shift his attention from producing others to producing himself. Relocating to London, Hudson set to work recording; the result later that year was the Flesh of My Skin Blood of My Blood album. It proved particularly popular in the London sound systems, as did the following year's Torch of Freedom, resulting in his signing to the Virgin label, suggesting they hadn't listened closely to either set. Although Flesh of My Skin is an extraordinary album, even at its most accessible, it's filled with slight quirks that preclude any hope of mass market success. The lavish "Treasures of the World," sweet lover's rock with notable crossover appeal, is a prime example; its lushness and sweeping melody foiled by a slightly too-insistent-for-its-time reggae rhythm and pattering hand drums. The even more extravagant "No Friend of Mine" could have been a chart-topping ballad in other hands, but is similarly undone by the percussion, disconnected synth, downbeat lyrics, and Hudson's own vocal limitations. Those numbers at least showed potential, but his cover of "I Shall Be Released" sounds like a bad night at a karaoke bar. So much for Hudson's forays into the pop world. In reality what was stirring up the reggae scene were his brilliant excursions into roots realms never before explored. The artist first planted his flag in this new territory with his inspired, smoldering, 1971 single "Darkest Night on a Wet Looking Road," which slides from dread roots straight into Delta blues. Hudson included the single, under a truncated title on this set, while the stunning then-new instrumental "Hunting" delves even deeper into the sounds of the Deep South, brilliantly weaving blues together with dread roots, nyahbinghi rhythms, and even a touch of funk. "Talk Some Sense (Gamma Ray)" and the instrumental "My Nocturne" are further fabulous forays into the blues, ones that would finally reach an apotheosis on Hudson's 1978 Rasta Communication album.The title tracks, spread across a vocal cut and an accompanying instrumental version, beautifully intertwines R&B, pop, and roots reggae. "Stabilizer" meanders across even more genres, blurring the lines between C&W, blues, R&B, and reggae, across an inspired version of Hudson's own 1972 single "True True True to My Heart." For "Stabilizer," Hudson and his backing group the Soul Syndicate Band deftly connect the dots between genres, while "Testing of My Faith" erases them, cleverly twinning C&W with roots reggae. The song is faintly reminiscent of the theme to "Midnight Cowboy," assuming Jon Voight disembarked not in the Big Apple, but Trench Town. In which case, "Fight Your Revolution" sends "Shaft" era Isaac Hayes on a Greyhound bus to Memphis. The music on this set is so astounding that it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of Hudson's dramatic lyrical themes and the album's overarching concept of the black experience and history. On "Faith," he pleads to "be just like any other man," but if his prayer was granted, the world would have lost one of its most unique artists even sooner."

Get it here.

27 October 2009

DJ Shadow - Preemptive Strike (1998)

From allmusic (4/5):

"DJ Shadow assembled the singles collection Preemptive Strike as a way for American audiences to catch up on his career prior to his debut album, Endtroducing. The 11-track album contains three new interludes and three complete singles that he released on Mo'Wax -- "In/Flux," "What Does Your Soul Look Like," and "High Noon" -- and a bonus disc, "Camel Bobsled Race," which is a megamix of DJ Shadow material by DJ Q-Bert. Given that Endtroducing was a masterpiece of subtly shifting texture, Preemptive Strike almost seems purposely incoherent, even though the tracks are sequenced chronologically. The jerky flow can make the album a little difficult to assimilate on first listen, but it soon begins to make sense, even if it never achieves the graceful flow of the album. Several of the selections on Preemptive Strike were available in different forms on Endtroducing -- parts four and one of "What Does Your Soul Look Like" are in their original forms here, presented along with one and three, and there's the "extended overhaul" of "Organ Donor." All of these are significantly different than the LP versions, and "What Does Your Soul Look Like" is necessary in its original, half-hour, four-part incarnation. But the key moments are the seminal "In/Flux," which arguably created trip-hop, and "High Noon," the dynamic, fuzz-drenched single that was his first single release since Endtroducing. Those three A-sides are reason enough for any serious fan of the debut to pick up Preemptive Strike, but the B-sides and "Camel Bobsled Race" are equally intriguing, making the package a nice summation of DJ Shadow's most important singles through the end of 1997."

Get it here.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist - Brainfreeze (1999)

26 October 2009

Cranes - Loved (1994)

From allmusic (4/5):

"On the band's third major album, Cranes found themselves balancing more immediate accessibility with its own particular musical obsessions like never before. If nothing on the album was as immediately harrowing as much of the band's late-'80s/early-'90s work -- guitars and drums both were generally less forceful and out in front -- Loved was still a mysterious and artistic experience, effortlessly standing aside from prevailing music trends. The band's self-production skills continued to improve, evidenced by the sometimes elaborate arrangements; if the core of Cranes' music revolves around intentionally basic rhythms and melodies repeated as mantras, it's always been the focused delivery that puts everything together. Where things get more conventionally catchy, it's an interesting combination of brute electric power and hooky melody. "Pale Blue Sky" is a good example: A roiling band performance, slightly buried in the mix, kicks out the jams while Alison Shaw's much clearer singing traces a hummable lead melody. It's not power pop, but it's a change nonetheless. Lead single "Shining Road," with its quick, catchy pace, sets the tone for a fair number of the album's cuts like "Reverie" and "Beautiful Friend." If anything, there's something of Siouxsie and the Banshees' early-'80s work coming out in the brisk performances. "Paris and Rome" is the sleeper on the album, appearing towards the end. It's another in the line of beautifully orchestrated numbers like "Adoration" and "Cloudless," building towards a dramatic, evocative ending. Other weirdly pretty numbers include "Are You Gone?" and the piano-led, very Cocteau Twins-styled "In the Night." Three remixes appear on the American version of the album as bonus tracks. Two, Michael Brauer's take on "Shining Road" and Flood's revamp of "Lilies," come from the Shining Road EP, while the third is new, with Flood remixing "Paris and Rome.""

Get it here.

Cranes - Wings of Joy (1991)
Cranes - Forever (1993)

25 October 2009

Saint Etienne - Sound of Water (2000)

From allmusic (4/5):

"Ten years on, Saint Etienne found themselves at a bit of a crossroads. They had long ago stopped having hits in the U.K., settling into a cult audience in both their homeland and the U.S. There isn't an inherent problem with having a cult audience, but cult bands often have the stigma of being on the cutting edge. At the start of their career, Saint Etienne was on the cutting edge. Their first two albums were at the foundation of many '90s pop trends, including the revival of swinging '60s London, the unabashedly melodic bent of Brit-pop, the fascination for forgotten easy listening artifacts from the '60s, the kaleidoscopic blend of '60s sound and '90s sensibility later heard on Beck records, plus the insurgent twee-pop of the late '90s. For their tenth anniversary, they decided to reclaim the cutting edge with Sound of Water. The album strove to keep the concise, song-oriented focus of Good Humor, while expanding the horizons of their music to focus on abstract, dreamy, electronic sounds. There are moments of pop pleasure here, surrounded by spare, languid electronica sections, vaguely reminiscent of the High Llamas. This is where maturity pays off. Saint Etienne never lingers too long in one area, letting the album flow gracefully between these two extremes and placing some very good pop melodies along the way. There are no knockout singles on par with those from So Tough or Tiger Bay, but Saint Etienne has pretty much given up on the pop charts, preferring to concentrate on cohesive, stronger albums. That may mean that Sound of Water simply isn't as exciting as their earlier work, and it also means that there isn't a good gateway song to the record. But that's OK, since with repeated plays, Sound of Water reveals itself as a first-rate effort."

Get it here.

Saint Etienne - Good Humour (1998)

24 October 2009

Pale Saints - In Ribbons (1992)

From allmusic (4/5):

"An argument could be made for In Ribbons topping the Pale Saints' debut, and it would be a rather solid one. Thanks to yet another stellar job by "knob twiddler of the mighty atmospheric pop bands" Hugh Jones, the Pale Saints sound full and polished, gleaming and bright. What makes this a lesser record in comparison to its predecessor is the absence of that loose sense of adventure from before. The songs are strong, the musicianship is improved, and Meriel Barham's presence as second guitarist and vocalist provides for more muscularity, but In Ribbons is missing the slightly perverse sense of experimentation that The Comforts of Madness had in spades. The unpredictability is gone, which is one of the few downsides of a band whose members are getting to know each other musically. That doesn't prevent In Ribbons from being a great record, stacked to the gills with great songs. Barham's sporadic contributions provide a fine spoil to those of Ian Masters. The mid-tempo moodiness of "Thread of Light" benefits from Jones' excellent treatment of her voice, with swooning backgrounds that dart between the left and right channels. (The verses bear odd sonic resemblance to Duran Duran's "Save a Prayer" -- no kidding.) Her reading of Mazzy Star's "Blue Flower" tops the original, and "Baby Maker" also makes the grade with its dizzied liveliness. Masters' love for the abandonment of rock constructs strikes upon a zenith on "Hair Shoes," a drumless cluster of limpidly jousting guitars that simultaneously jiggle, rattle, moan, twinkle, and reverberate. His miasmatic vocals seal the track off as a brilliant approximation of the oceanic wash of 69-era AR Kane. Otherwise, more accessible fare, like the sprightly "Throwing Back the Apple" (a single) and the melancholy epic "Hunted," are also accountable for the record's success. Though these tracks' more traditionally structured material doesn't sound a great deal different from many of the Pale Saints' peers, the wan voice of Masters -- who sounds less world-weary here -- clearly sets this unit apart."

Get it here.

Pale Saints - The Comforts of Madness (1990)

23 October 2009

Trembling Blue Stars - Lips That Taste of Tears (1998)

From allmusic (4/5):

"Though Trembling Blue Stars' second record, Lips That Taste of Tears, makes some progress toward healing the wrenching heartbreak of Robert Wratton (as documented in great detail on Her Handwriting), the record is basically another monumentally sad and forlorn artifact of one man's despair. As mentioned above, there are some beams of light that shine through the blinds, namely the reappearance of Wratton's former lover (and cause of his despair/inspiration), Anne Mari Davies, who provides vocals on the choral opener, "All I Never Said," the storming house-influenced "Tailspin," the incongruously happy dance-pop tune "The Rainbow," the almost funky trip-hop song "Cecilia in Black and White" (which borrows much from engineer Ian Catt's main gig as Saint Etienne's sound guru). There isn't enough wattage in a light bulb factory to brighten Wratton's mood though as he mopes and moans his way through heartsick ballad after heartsick ballad like "Never Loved You More" (with its refrain of "I'm so far from being over you"), "I'm Tired, I Tried," "You've Done Nothing Wrong Really" ("Sometimes I want to scream/Why did you abandon me?"), and "Farewell to Forever." It could be enough to drive even the happiest camper to thoughts of homicide if it weren't for the flawless balance of wrenching sadness and musical beauty and grace. As on Her Handwriting, Wratton and Catt have again crafted a brilliant-sounding record built on cheap electronics and perfectly utilized guitars and percussion. They are equally skilled at capturing intimate moments of introspection, blissful dance grooves ("The Rainbow"), and soaring indie pop mini-epics ("Made for Each Other"). In fact, the only time their knack fails them is on the repetitive and bland techno instrumental "Old Photographs." Lips That Taste of Tears is an emotionally harrowing and musically near-perfect record, proof that Robert Wratton's heartbreak and misery makes for great art."

Get it here.

Trembling Blue Stars - Her Handwriting (1996)

22 October 2009

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist - Brainfreeze (1999)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"The hip-hop mix tape has come so far. As passed down through DJs such as Kid Capri and Funkmaster Flex, it has served essentially the same purpose -- as a compilation of segued-together cuts rather than a stand-alone work itself and, therefore, an archetypal soundtrack to house parties or underground gatherings. But taking its cue instead from Grandmaster Flash, who pioneered the form commercially on his landmark cut classic "The Adventures of Grand Master Flash on the Wheels of Steel," Brainfreeze transforms the mix tape into a genuine piece of musical art, a sampladelic, turntablist collage that may be the apotheosis of -- or at least a turning point for -- the genre. Even prior to the release of the album, the collaboration between Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow had developed an almost legendary buzz. In the fall of 1999, the two kicked off a series of live performances sponsored by San Francisco art collective and record label Future Primitive Sound. Brainfreeze captures for posterity, in two uninterrupted takes, the live DAT rehearsal tapes from the duo's premiere show together, and it is an amazing display of spontaneous music-making. The music splits the difference between the groundbreaking, Brian Eno-worthy soundscapes that have characterized DJ Shadow's solo career and the ebullient, breakbeat-savvy, street-corner jive of old school-style rap, as exemplified by Chemist's crew Jurassic 5. Some of the snippets cut and pasted here will be readily familiar to longtime fans of rap music, and some formed the basis for tracks on Shadow's first two albums, but the majority are from extremely rare and generally forgotten 45s absent from the crates of even the most ardent beat-diggers. The project itself signifies a duality of sacrifice and resurrection. Sacrifice applies because in the act of spinning these premium records the DJs were literally destroying or damaging their rare vinyl. Also, due to the music's improvisational nature, the set could never possibly be repeated in quite the same way. On the other hand, it is a resurrection in that it synthesizes a half-century of soul and funk music that has fallen through mainstream cracks, thereby revealing an entire alternate history of principally black urban music. Unfortunately, the album stops short of being the actual history lesson it might have been, as it fails to list the artists and song credits. Some of the value in uncovering them in the first place is, as a result, nullified. It is a minor blemish, however, when measured against the visionary, forward-looking aura of Brainfreeze. It is a dizzyingly brilliant, virtuoso work of two exceedingly fecund imaginations."

From cravenmonket's review on RYM (4.5/5):

"Imagine the guy in college with the incredible funk and soul record collection setting his stash out in several crates, then inviting a couple of rude white boys over to spin them on four simultaneous turntables, with plenty of frantic scratching thrown in, until these glorious rarities are totally destroyed. Imagine, also, that they managed to incorporate some of the most solid down-tempo beats you've ever heard. Imagine, if you will, that these two styles blended into a one-off, never-to-be-repeated fusion - the greatest funk night out you've ever had in your life - and you are finally coming close to imagining this album. It's pure gold. Sell your car for a copy."

Get it here.

21 October 2009

R a i n T r e e C r o w - R a i n T r e e C r o w (1991)

RHalpain's review on RYM (5/5):

"Rain Tree Crow's lone album is a bit of an oddity. This album came a decade after their final album as Japan (the fantastic Tin Drum) and really sounds absolutely nothing like any of their previous work. From my understanding, David Sylvian dominated the recording of the album (including the name change), and stylistically that shows. Not only that, but the band seemed ready to break up once more (which happened shortly after the album's release, I believe).

Given that, it perplexes me how this album is so damn good. I honestly don't know what the ex-Japan bandmates were trying to do with this album. Even after having listened to this quite a few times over the last 2 years, I'm not really sure what the aim of this album was. I'll be damned, however, if it isn't amazing.

The music on Rain Tree Crow generally lingers in a realm of bizarre cinematic tranquility. Songs like "Scratchings on the Bible Belt" are instrument drenched (woodwind instruments as well as banjos and strange flares of guitar penetrate a predominantly organ and percussion driven track) visions of the reality in which Rain Tree Crow seems to operate, while "Blackwater" is simply the most beautifully concise track ever written by this group.

What baffles me about this album is how peaceful it sounds. While the later Japan albums seemed about achieving a certain sound (assuming Tin Drum was the culmination of their experiments), Rain Tree Crow sounds absolutely natural. It's as if they were passing a stream some day and played exactly what they heard; there's a certain rhythm throughout the album that seems to gently and patiently carry the listener along.

Overall, I would put this, along with Tin Drum as Japan's best albums. As a Sylvian fan, I would rank this only behind his Secrets of the Beehive (probably the album that sounds most like what's on Rain Tree Crow, not to mention my favorite album ever) and Snow Borne Sorrow by Nine Horses (which features Sylvian's brother, and former Japan bandmate, drummer Steve Jansen). If you like Talk Talk, I would highly recommend this."

Get it here.

20 October 2009

Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure (1973)

From allmusic (5/5):

"On Roxy Music's debut, the tensions between Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry propelled their music to great, unexpected heights, and for most of the group's second album, For Your Pleasure, the band equals, if not surpasses, those expectations. However, there are a handful of moments where those tensions become unbearable, as when Eno wants to move toward texture and Ferry wants to stay in more conventional rock territory; the nine-minute "The Bogus Man" captures such creative tensions perfectly, and it's easy to see why Eno left the group after the album was completed. Still, those differences result in yet another extraordinary record from Roxy Music, one that demonstrates even more clearly than the debut how avant-garde ideas can flourish in a pop setting. This is especially evident in the driving singles "Do the Strand" and "Editions of You," which pulsate with raw energy and jarring melodic structures. Roxy also illuminate the slower numbers, such as the eerie "In Every Dream Home a Heartache," with atonal, shimmering synthesizers, textures that were unexpected and innovative at the time of its release. Similarly, all of For Your Pleasure walks the tightrope between the experimental and the accessible, creating a new vocabulary for rock bands, and one that was exploited heavily in the ensuing decade."

Get it here.

19 October 2009

Françoise Hardy - Comment te dire adieu (1968)

dorotea's review on Rate Your Music (4.5/5):

"Twelve songs, all versions except two composed by herself. ¡But what versions!, wonderful renditions of Phil Och's "There but for fortune", Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne", Jobim's "Sabia"and three hits of pop like the title track "It Hurts to Say Goodbye", "Lonesome town" and "The Way of Love", all of course translated to French language. Still, the best is in home: Gainsbourg's "L'anamour" and the poem of Louis Aragon with music of Georges Brassens "Il n'y a pas d'amour hereux".

Following an extended fashion of late 60's between French artists of recording in London, city of studios and new techniques, the delicious arrangements of Arthur Greenslade, Jean Pierre Sabar, Mike Vickers and John Cameron and the unique voice of Françoise, make of this one of her best albums. Great cover of Jean Paul Goude."

Get it here
. And, if anyone can find me Message personnel, her album from 1973, I'd appreciate it (as would the readers of this blog; they seem to love them some Françoise Hardy). Word.

Françoise Hardy - The Yeh-Yeh Girl From Paris (1965)
Françoise Hardy - Ma jeunesse fout le camp... (1967)
Françoise Hardy - La question (1971)

17 October 2009

Shiina Ringo - Karuki Zame Kuri no Hana (2003)

Zorbo's review on Rate Your Music (5/5):

"I think Ms. Shiina must be a Taoist. Or, if not, at least someone deeply interested in the concepts of opposites, doubles, balance and equality. Everything about this album screams a predilection with it. The title, translating to “Lime, Semen, Chestnut Blossoms”, seems bizarre, but it is a well-crafted one and, by her reckoning, a logical one. She claims that the first and last items both smell like semen and thus the title is a olfactory palindrome. Of sorts. Next, there are the titles themselves. When viewed down the page, the titles of the first and last, second and second-to-last songs, and so on, all have the same number of characters. Even the second song is called Doppelgänger, a German word meaning a person's double.

It is appropriate then that such an album, at first glance overwhelmed with doubling and copying, be so original. It is doubly appropriate that the album's sound be made of opposites. On the one hand, it's the tightest pop album I've ever heard. Not a note or melody is poorly placed. At the same time, it's all over the place. The range of instruments and styles featured on the record is astounding. Why, Ringo herself plays guitar, piano, drums, koto, shamisen, harmonica, harpsichord, and accordion, and let's not get into what her band plays. Lyrically? Well, I don't know, I don't speak Japanese. I have been informed that it uses obscure, obsolete kanji in the lyric sheet that accompanies the CD, which is of course to be expected from such a modern and forward thinking album from someone so obsessed with opposites.

This album, on paper, should not work so well. It shouldn't be so tight and perfectly crafted, but it couldn't be moreso. It sounds like a mash-up of swing, jazz, noise, a capella, rock, pop, folk and even classical, but it doesn't sound cluttered or jumbled in any way – it's wonderfully catchy and addictive, great to sing along to, relax to, or get excited about. It's brash, noisy, funky, experimental, complex, and in-your-face. It's also low-key, calm, accessible, simple and humble. Crafted by a fragile, young soul, and forged by a demonic sexual beast.

I could go on, but frankly, why bother? My point has been made and I'm just hammering it further. This album, at its heart, makes no sense. It's untouchable and innately indescribable. It defies logic, it defies theory, it defies one's prejudices or pre-conceived ideas. It defies belief that you haven't gone looking for it already."

Get it here.

Shiina Ringo - Shouso Strip (2000)
Tokyo Jihen - Adult (2006)

16 October 2009

Hieroglyphics - 3rd Eye Vision (1998)

From allmusic (4/5):

"Consisting of Del tha Funkee Homosapien, A-Plus, Opio, Tajai, Phesto, Casual, Domino, Pep Love, and Jaybiz, Hieroglyphics has an all-star lineup of underground talent. One might expect Hieroglyphics to have a gangsta rap or West Coast rap sound since Del tha Funkee Homosapien is related to the infamous Ice Cube; however, 3rd Eye Vision has a traditional underground rap feel reminiscent of albums by Common and Black Star. The 22-track album features strong, clever lyrics accompanied by creative, catchy background beats. Fortunately, Hieroglyphics manages to avoid the common error of over-sampling beats, which detracts from the lyrics. The hip-hop group also amazingly uses its large size as an advantage with memorable choruses, unique background voices and raps, and great interplay between lyricists. This synergy is future illustrated by the variety of songwriters and tracks like "You Never Know" and "Miles to the Sun" that are a collaboration by six of the group members. The album's standout track is "You Never Know," which was made into a video and single."

Get it here.

15 October 2009

The Smiths - Dance With Octopuses (1986 Bootleg)

Really, it's The Smiths. That's all that needs to be said. This is a very good quality recording, and is probably my favourite Smiths bootleg (if my words mean anything to you). For those who care, I think this is from the 23 October 1986 show at London's National Club. Check out "The Draize Train," an instrumental jam where Johnny Marr really lets loose (the song also appears in a lesser form on Rank). Too bad this blog's namesake wasn't on the setlist; it's a really underrated song in their catalogue. The closing one-two punch of urgent renditions of "How Soon Is Now?" and "Bigmouth Strikes Again" is a real treat.

Of course, I have to give credit where credit is due; if you want Smiths boots, alternate mixes, etc., then you need to check out akiraware. Between the studio albums you should already have and this website, you'll have all the Smiths you need.

  1. The Queen Is Dead
  2. Panic
  3. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
  4. Ask
  5. Frankly, Mr Shankly
  6. The Boy With the Thorn in His Side
  7. Is It Really So Strange?
  8. London
  9. I Know It's Over
  10. The Draize Train
  11. How Soon Is Now?
  12. Bigmouth Strikes Again

Get it here.

14 October 2009

The Submarines - Declare a New State! (2006)

From allmusic (3.5/5):

"How better to accurately convey the pain of breaking off a long-term relationship than to write and record songs about it with your ex-significant other? Apparently, Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti couldn't think of a more appropriate way, and what came out of those sessions (which eventually led to their reconciliation and marriage) was Declare a New State!, their first album as the band the Submarines. Needless to say, it's sad, pretty music that finds them reflecting about themselves and where they went wrong, never blaming anyone specifically but never accepting full responsibility, either. Each of them (they sing tracks both together and separately) puts pretty much everything out in the open for everyone to hear ("On Super Tuesday I wanted to die...I'll never vote again," Dragonetti whimpers in "Vote," referencing their breakup, which happened on the eve of the 2004 California presidential primary), leaving little to hide behind. This actually becomes kind of tiresome; it's as if the Submarines don't quite trust their audience to get their not-so-subtle references. In "Brighter Discontent," Hazard sings lines like "I rearranged the place a hundred times today/But the ordering of objects couldn't hide what's missing" and "All these things should make me happy...to be home again," rendering her point quite clear, but as if there were a possibility you might not understand her implications, she throws in a bridge with the phrase "Love is not these belongings that surround me/Though there's meaning in the memories they hold" to really drive things home, a gesture that while perhaps innocent enough, is not necessarily welcome. There are some wonderfully poignant lyrics in Declare a New State! as well ("You got a way with words/Just sentiment without revealing how you feel," Hazard states in the gorgeous "The Good Night") that work well with the gentle guitar arrangements and melodies (which don't so much jump from the record as blend smoothly in with the layers of instrumentation) the band chooses to employ. It's all very nice, but there's not much that sticks when all is said and done, which is the album's biggest problem: its lack of distinctive qualities. It's not boring -- there are still a lot of drums and the occasional indie electronica effect on the record, but it's not going to leave any long-lasting impression, either. The music on Declare a New State! was certainly a useful tool for Dragonetti and Hazard, but it's a little too self-involved to do as much for anyone else."

Get it here.

13 October 2009

Mojave 3 - Ask Me Tomorrow (1995)

From allmusic (4/5):

"After the spare, delicate power of Slowdive's final album, Pygmalion, with influences like the Durutti Column and Brian Eno readily apparent, it would have made perfect sense for Mojave 3 to continue in that vein. Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell had a much different idea in mind, though, and Ask Me Tomorrow, though even further away from Slowdive's shoegaze beginnings, is just as intoxicatingly intriguing. Arguably it remains the group's high point, flashes of inspiration here and there; as the band grew more straightforwardly authentic and less swathed in an aural cocoon, much of their uniqueness went with them. Here, though, both Goswell and Halstead -- along with drummer Ian McCutcheon (more often than not using brushes), pianist Christopher Andrews, and some guests -- tapped into a drowsy beauty that ran parallel to the burgeoning alt-country movement without completely sounding like it yet. Slowdive's cover of "Some Velvet Morning" is a good reference point -- everything is swathed in echo still, but the emphasis on slide guitar twang and a gently down-home feeling, plus some occasional soft cello, makes the album a hushed masterpiece. Andrews' piano often takes the lead, further emphasizing Mojave 3's own approach, while the Goswell/Halstead vocal combination suggests a cousin to the killer Chris Eckman/Carla Torgeson blend in the Walkabouts. Ask Me Tomorrow starts and ends with its best songs; "Love Songs on the Radio," also the band's debut single, sets the tone perfectly, Goswell's sweet but strong voice and Halstead's guitar in perfect balance. "Mercy," meanwhile, concludes things on a dramatic, powerful note; without completely exploding, it's the most fiery song hands down, with Andrews' steady, doom-laden piano and the ever more strung-out guitar the bed for an at once soothing and warning vocal duet, Goswell and Halstead closing the album with a final a cappella singing sigh."

Get it here.

Also, if anyone can procure me a digital copy of The Best Bootlegs in the World Ever, I will be eternally grateful :3

12 October 2009

Serge Gainsbourg - L'étonnant Serge Gainsbourg (1961)

From allmusic (4/5):

"As early as 1961, Serge Gainsbourg was one of the most extraordinary artists of the French pop scene, and during the first part of the '60s the crooner produced a series of outrageously brilliant albums with producer/arranger Alain Goraguer. One of his most intoxicating amalgams of jazz and pop styles, L'Etonnant Serge Gainsbourg comes highly recommended to fans of '60s French pop. An utterly essential early document of Serge Gainsbourg while he was still a mildly respectable man -- but that's not say there aren't hints of his notorious decadence in this early work."

Get it here.

Serge Gainsbourg - N°2 (1959)
Serge Gainsbourg - L'Homme à Tête de Chou (1976)

Cannibal Ox - The Cold Vein (2001)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"While it can be said that many underground crews have been floundering in the gray matter of indie hip-hop, Cannibal Ox filled that area in with 2001's The Cold Vein for El P's Def Jux imprint. The music press had been quick to point out that Vast Aire and Vordul Megilah's attack is at times highly derivative of the Wu Tang Clan, and the point is valid. Thankfully, El P (a serious candidate for producer of the year) lays out some of the most lushly intriguing sounds and beats that feel as herky-jerky as they sound gilded with silk. It's a bit misleading to harp on the Wu factor that The Cold Vein contains since this record's content is immensely original and the Wu references that seem present are in the enlightened gloomy flow and psychedelic backdrops -- not, (with all due respect) in the kitschy hooks and unfocused rhymes that Wu Tang are also known for. Aire and Megilah swirl around in b-boy posturing and obtuse nonsense as their innovation rears its head at every corner with scatter-shot lines like: "And I ain't dealin' with no minimum wage/I'd rather construct rhymes on a minimum page," and "You were a still-born baby, your mother didn't want you but you were still-born." While there's not a throwaway track per se, the album's length does run a bit long (at least they didn't make it into a double CD as a lot of rap acts have been known to do). To their immense credit, Cannibal Ox and El P have assembled one of the most listenable hip-hop albums in far too long. Headz be aware: Independent hip-hop has a new voice and this is your beat fix for 2001."

The second I heard "Raspberry Fields" I was sold:

"If first you don't succeed try, try again
Step up to the mic and die again
This is the next lifetime and you wanna battle
Either you like reincarnation or the smell of carnations
The sample's the flesh and the beat's the skeleton
You got beef but there's worms in your Wellington
I'll put a hole in your skull and extract your gelatin"

How can you not like that shit? Get it here. NOW.

11 October 2009

Cocteau Twins - Victorialand (1986)

From allmusic (4/5):

"With Raymonde taking a break to work on the second This Mortal Coil album, Fraser and Guthrie made up the Cocteaus for the first full-length follow-up to Treasure. Rather than trying for a full-band approach, Fraser and Guthrie instead created a much more simply beautiful effort, with a relaxed air to it. Rhythms are subtler, with bass and drum machine often totally eschewed in favor of Guthrie's delicate guitar filigrees and lush, produced textures. Fraser is, as always, in wonderfully fine voice; her words are quite indecipherable, but the feelings are no less strong for it. "Lazy Calm" starts things perfectly, as deep, heavily-treated guitar strums combine with a heavy flange and guest saxophone from Dif Juz member Richard Thomas. Other songs sparkle with a lovely vivaciousness. Far from being stereotypical arty music to sit around and be gloomy to, two pieces especially shine with a gentle energy: "Fluffy Tufts," with its many-layered ringing strings and Fraser's overdubbed vocals; and the joyful "Little Spacey," with a soft rhythm underlying more sheer electric loveliness. Guthrie adds heavy reverb and overdubbed lines to create the Cocteaus' wash on such songs as "Throughout the Dark Months of April and May" and "Feet Like Fins," the latter again featuring Thomas, this time on tablas. For all the sweet beauty of Victorialand, things end on a quietly dramatic note, but a dramatic one nonetheless. "The Thinner the Air" starts with treated piano and rather spooky guitar leads -- the mysterious soloing is especially wonderful -- while Fraser then sings with a slightly haunted feeling, concluding with slightly nervous wails. It's an unexpected but effective touch for this fine record."

Get it here.

Cocteau Twins - The Pink Opaque (1985)

09 October 2009

The Lemonheads - Lick (1989)

From allmusic (4/5):

"Although it's fairly incoherent, bouncing back and forth between punk-pop and folky pop, Lick is a thoroughly engaging record. The tensions between Evan Dando and Ben Deily are fairly evident throughout the album, especially since Dando's songs, with their immediate hooks and melodies, outshine his bandmate's, but that unevenness makes the record endearingly messy. Also, the mess makes the group's best songs, including an inspired electric cover of Suzanne Vega's "Luka," shine all the more brightly."

Get it here.

08 October 2009

Annie - Anthonio (2009)

David Balls' review on Digital Spy (5/5):

"Tastemakers have been calling Annie the "cool Kylie" for years, but her record sales have never matched her critical acclaim. Her 2004 debut Anniemal demonstrated kick-ass lyricism and a sharp ear for a pop hook, but it made little impact, with only 'Chewing Gum' cracking the top 40. After parting ways with her record label last year and gaining the rights to her upcoming album Don't Stop, the Norwegian is making a welcome return with new single 'Anthonio'.

A collaboration with producer Richard X, it contains all the right ingredients to become the anthem of the summer. With a greater Ibiza house influence than her previous material, and perhaps a nod towards the "mournful break-up" style pioneered by Robyn's 'With Every Heartbeat', it tells the tale of a frivolous holiday romance whose impact lingers long after jetting home. "Oh Anthonio, oh Anthonio, there is only one thing I've been trying to say," Annie sings in the closing seconds. "It may come as a surprise, my baby has your eyes". Perfectly demonstrating why Annie has quietly amassed a cult fanbase, this perfect pop nugget deserves a lot better than it's likely to get."

Single of the year, IMO.
Anyway, get it here.

Annie - Annimal (2004)

07 October 2009

The Chameleons - What Does Anything Mean? Basically (1985)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"Easily the high point of the Chameleons' fascination with digital delays, pedals, and making the studio an instrument, the band's second album still is seen by many a fan as being just a little too lost in the production to have the same impact as Script of the Bridge did, despite equally excellent songs. The decision must ultimately be the listener's, but in the end the production argument is much more a quibble than a condemnation -- no matter how you look at it, What Does Anything Mean? Basically proved to be that rarity of sophomore albums, something that at once made the band all the more unique in its sound while avoiding a repetition of earlier work. Ironically, the first track, "Silence, Sea and Sky," turned out to be the least Chameleons-like track ever, being only a two-minute synth intro piece played by Mark Burgess and Dave Fielding. But with the gentle intro to the absolutely wonderful "Perfumed Garden," lyrically one of Burgess' best nostalgic pieces, it rapidly becomes clear exactly which band is doing this. The empathetic fire that infused Burgess' words for songs like "Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)," a poetic attack on the Thatcher government, finds itself matched as always by brilliant playing all around. John Lever's command of the drums continues to impress, and Fielding and Reg Smithies remain guitarists par excellence; the searing, sky-bound solo on "Return of the Roughnecks" alone is a treasure. The sublime combination of the rushing "Looking Inwardly" and the soaring, blasting rip "One Flesh," leading into a relaxed instrumental coda, anchors the second side, while "P.S. Goodbye" provides a lovely, melancholic conclusion to an astounding record. CD copies include the 1981 "In Shreds"/"Nostalgia" single as bonus tracks."

Get it here.

Jay-Z - The Purple Album

Shit, I uploaded this like, six months ago and forgot to upload it. My b.
Basically, this is a mashup of Jay's Black Album, and...wait for it....Prince's Purple Rain. And it works. The version of "Threat" here is waaaay better than the original album version. It's all very well done. I'd give it a 4.57/5. Highly recommended.

Like, give it a chance. None of ya'll are downloading the rap albums I post, so I'm gonna try to get my hip-hop game up. I guess not enough hipsters know 'bout this blog.

Get it here.

EDIT: Sorry that "Threat" is corrupt. Here it is.

06 October 2009

Scott Walker - Scott 2 (1968)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"Although Walker's second album was his biggest commercial success, actually reaching number one in Britain, it was not his greatest artistic triumph. His taste remains eclectic, encompassing Bacharach/David, Tim Hardin, and of course his main man Jacques Brel (who is covered three times on this album). And his own songwriting efforts hold their own in this esteemed company. "The Girls From the Streets" and "Plastic Palace People" show an uncommonly ambitious lyricist cloaked behind the over-the-top, schmaltzy orchestral arrangements, one more interested in examining the seamy underside of glamour and romance than celebrating its glitter. The Brel tune "Next" must have lifted a few teenage mums' eyebrows with its not-so-hidden hints of homosexuality and abuse. Another Brel tune, "The Girl and the Dogs," is less controversial, but hardly less nasty in its jaded view of romance. Some of the material is not nearly as memorable, however, and the over-the-top show ballad production can get overbearing. The album included his first Top 20 U.K. hit, "Jackie.""

Get it here.

05 October 2009

Band of Susans - Love Agenda (1989)

From allmusic (4/5):

"While Page Hamilton's work on guitar here is often referenced in stories about Helmet, the fact is that Band of Susans is very much Poss and Stenger's band, and the at-times grotesquely grinding feel of Hamilton's later work is thankfully missing in favor of the more intricate while still powerful music here. The group's second full album is one of those creations of its time which ages well rather than just sounding dated. Though you can easily imagine the band in its particular late-eighties New York context right from the first track, "The Pursuit of Happiness," from the squalling guitars and Poss' just a little bit like Thurston Moore at points vocals, the fact is that this album just plain kicks out the jams, art that is blessedly unafraid to rock. "It's Locked Away" is a killer example of this, centered around a great riff that has much more of an angular, drony sound to it than anything else, but is wedded to a full-on crunch that also has a great groove (one of the Susans' many instrumental secret weapons) to it as well. Poss, who produced the record, mixes his vocals, as well Stenger's occasional backing efforts, fairly deep into the mix throughout the record; rather than being annoying or pointlessly obscure, it just feels right, a good way of letting his voice be another instrument to carry the songs. Perhaps to reference that fact, "Thorn in My Side" and "Sin Embargo" are both instrumentals, and are as great numbers as any of the rest on the album. The CD version contains the band's noted cover of the Rolling Stones' "Child of the Moon," which in its guitar-overdriven way pretty much beats out the entire remake of Exile on Main Street that Pussy Galore did."

Get it here.

02 October 2009

Joy Zipper - Joy Zipper (2000)

From allmusic (4/5):

"Joy Zipper makes a couple of impressions before one has even placed the CD in the disc player. First, the title is intriguingly suggestive of something fun. Next, the CD cover features an evocative picture of a woman dressed in white with a small child, set against the backdrop of a beach. This leaves the listener in a receptive mood for Joy Zipper's debut, a lush mesh of songs that simply hypnotize. Guitarist/vocalist Vincent Cafiso, vocalist/keyboardist Tabitha Tindale, and drummer Charlie Chase create a dense layer of sound, much richer than their small number might suggest. "Booda" begins with a dreamy, back-tracked guitar, falls into a mellow grove, and then is brought to fullness by a lovely, wistful vocal by Tindale. In fact, most of the vocals by Tindale and Cafiso could be described as wistful. The harmony behind the lead vocal on "God" creates the sonic equivalent of floating, as though capturing the fleeting moment before one drifts into sleep. The oddly titled "The Power of Alan Watts" begins with the intriguing lyric "Alan Watts is dead" and then continues as an ode to the philosophy of the guru. There's a doubling of the tempo in the middle of the song, with driving bass and drums that keep the listener alert. Joy Zipper is very much a studio effort. Backing harmonies, bass parts, and guitars have been layered carefully, creating a cohesive sound for the entire album. Each pensive, dreamy song manages to be part of an intrinsic whole without being redundant. This lovely album will appeal to anyone who enjoys beautifully layered pop music."

Get it here.

Joy Zipper - American Whip (2004)