Saturday, December 25, 2021

General Comments

This is the place for any comments you have that don't relate to a specific post. This is a place where you can leave any requests, suggestions and opinions that you have about this blog. It will always remain at the top of the blog so that it is visible to everyone. We can use this as a forum for an open discussion on music in general, as well as just simply saying hi. Let's get the ball rolling.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hallelujah for Hail Mary


















If you live in Portland OR, you have no excuse for missing the Hail Mary Mallon show tonight at the Hawthorne Theatre. Hail Mary Mallon is the culmination of two top-tier MC's from the Rhymesayers stable: Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic. The duo's latest long player was one of my most-played records from 2014, and continues to stay on repeat in 2015. Aesop Rock has been one of my favorite MC's ever since the lyrically and verbally dense Labor Days has graced my ears with its presence, and Rob has been Aesop's partner in crime ever since the glory days of the now defunct Definitive Jux label.

For my review of their latest record Bestiary, click here, and go to #11 on the list.

And for the uninitiated, check out the following YouTube video of their album complete with one of the best  Donkey Kong games ever played. You'll thank me later!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Little Taste of Fuzz

A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend while we waited for our pizza when a song from the short-lived 90's band Filter played on the restaurant's PA. This lead us into a discussion where I admitted to liking them at one point, but going on to say that I don't really listen to aggressive, angst-filled music at this point in my life. He asked me what kind of music I did listen to these days, and I literally drew a blank.This is probably due to the fact that I listen to so much music that eventually it all starts to run together in an endless stream of chords and notes. Such is the life of a music junkie.

I realized that it wasn't accurate to say that I didn't like angst-filled music anymore, just not the same type that fueled my teenage years. The answer that I was able to come up with is that I am currently digging music that has a funky groove or rhythm with unexpected drum breaks, and copious amounts of fuzz-guitar laced with wah-wah. Of course, he wanted to know some examples of music that fall under this umbrella, and the only thing that came to mind was afro-rock like Chrissy Zebby Tembo and Amanaz.

During one of my latest YouTube binges, I uncovered a treasure trove of songs and bands that mix a steady groove with loads of fuzz and wah-wah that don't fall under the afro-rock label.

I hope that you enjoy the links below, and I would love to hear about more bands that sound like this.




Sunday, December 21, 2014

Favorite Albums of 2014

Once again, it's that time of year again where I dedicate my listening to records that were released or reissued during the calendar year, and compile a list of my favorites. From the looks of things that I have read so far on the Best Music of 2014 lists, the general consensus would lead you to believe that there are only twenty records worth listening to in 2014.  I think that the majority of the popular blogs and magazines share playlists with each other so they can all compile lists that cater to the mainstream listener's idea of good music. It's really unfortunate that this happens, as a plethora of fantastic music was released this year that will sadly not be heard by the general public.

As of the beginning of December, it would seem that Thom Yorke's controversial decision to release Tomorrow's Modern Boxes via the "pay what you want" platform on Bittorent would be the story of the year in music. However, the glory would be taken from him by the ever enigmatic soul pioneer D'Angelo.

After being emotionally shell-shocked by the grand jury verdict on the Michael Brown case, and the ensuing Ferguson protests, D'Angelo called up his manager Kevin Liles to express his frustration, and then they just sat there quietly for awhile. Kevin sensed that D'Angelo wanted to get his message out there, so they pushed the release date of Black Messiah forward. On the Friday before the release date, social media started blowing up with a flood of messages containing cryptic six second teaser clips, and pictures of the finished album, indicating that a new record from D'Angelo was soon to be a reality. An announcement was posted late Friday evening saying that the first single from the record was going to premiere on iTunes on Sunday, and the entire album was available for everyone to hear by Monday morning. And that, my friends, is the top story of the year in music.

Aside from these two major musical events, this was the year that hip-hop music turned a new leaf. Artists started focusing on creating impressive lyrical content, and taking time in the studio to craft records with production that can stand up to the best in the game. While there are still plenty of artists that are talkin' loud and sayin' nothin', there are many artists that are choosing to make a positive difference like Dres (Black Sheep), Pharoahe Monch, Bishop Nehru, Black Milk, Jeremiah Jae, Souls of Mischief, Ka and Diamond District. They all represent a new trend in hip-hop: creating positive, intelligent music that resonates with a wider scope of listeners. With the recent events that have occurred with two separate grand juries failing to indict police officers for killing two unarmed black men, we need hip-hop now, more than ever.

With artists being able to share their music through online outlets like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, it's pretty difficult to tell how many albums were actually released during the year.  But, there are way too many that go unheard because the mass media chooses to ignore them. This list represents my favorite releases of the year, and is a result of countless hours spent scouring sites such as Rate Your Music, Aquarium Drunkard, Raven Sings the Blues, jhubner73 and Soundeyet for the true diamonds in the rough.

This year's list features a wide variety of genres, but most of those that have been well represented on previous lists such as jazz, electronic and avant-garde are pretty scarce this year. While I still appreciate these styles of music, I just didn't discover much that was worth sharing this year, and I really didn't hear much of it in the first place. Most of the albums on this list are from artists that have shown up on previous lists, but about 1/3 of them are new discoveries. My hope is that after reading this list, some of you are moved to buy one of these artists' albums, or go see their live performance when they come to your town. We need to keep supporting the artists that we appreciate to ensure that they can sustain themselves, and keep making great music! 

I present to you my favorite albums of 2014:

1) Steve Gunn- Way Out Weather- I'll admit that I wasn't quick to succumb to the charms of Steve Gunn's music, but I could no longer help myself after hearing last year's stellar outing Time Off. This year, on Way Out Weather, Gunn has crafted an exceptional record that ebbs and flows like an ocean tide, leaving a lasting impression on the listener. It has elements of Gunn's early instrumental work, but mostly solidifies his position as a pre-eminent singer songwriter for the ages.



















Buy it here! 

2) Souls of Mischief- There Is Only Now- Ever since '93 Til Infinity, the debut record by Souls of Mischief, dropped in 1993, I have been waiting with bated breath for their imminent return. With prolific producer Adrian Younge behind the boards, Souls of Mischief have effectively crafted an essential hip-hop record based on the early 90's sample-based production, but have done so without using any samples. After listening to this multiple times, I still catch myself thinking that a guitar riff or piano chord are taken from another record: a true testament to the production expertise of Adrian Younge.


















Buy it here!

3) Jolie Holland- Wine Dark Sea- I read a post on Jolie's Facebook page last fall saying that she had finished a record with an excellent live band, and that it was the best band that she had worked with yet. When I first read this, my initial expectations were that she would be going back to the sound of Escondida or Springtime Can Kill You.  Because this seed had been planted in my mind, I was not very forgiving, and dismissed the record without really giving it a chance. Then, after I  listened to it repeatedly, something finally clicked. What was then revealed to me was a dynamic, heavy and bittersweet record with biting guitar solos that come out of nowhere, and incisive lyrics that are the culmination of a woman who has been down a long and winding road.



















Buy it here! 

4) Thee Oh Sees- Drop- For regular readers of the blog, it probably comes as no surprise that Thee Oh Sees made my list this year. After hearing the news that the band was going on indefinite hiatus last year, I was skeptical that I would ever hear a new record by Dwyer and his merry band of pranksters. Alas, four months later, they have emerged victoriously from the depths of the studio armed with a record that retains the rampant energy of Floating Coffin, while letting the vocal melodies rise more to the surface, ultimately revealing a band who continues to be at the top of their game.


















Buy it here!

5) Deerhoof- La Isla Bonita- Deerhoof's last record Breakup Song narrowly missed the list back in 2012, but to leave them off this year would be an injustice. On the cheekily titled La Isla Bonita, the band has managed to temporarily dial back their affinity for electronics, in favor of the bubbly, frenetic pop-punk spliced with noisy guitars and scattershot drums that their fans know and love. Whether you are drawn to Satomi's playful vocals, or the effortless way that the band switches the tempo at the drop of a hat, you will undoubtedly be moved to listen to this record again and again.












 





Buy it here!

6) Shellac- Dude Incredible- Every time Shellac release a new record, it's a cause for celebration. While they aren't the most prolific band around, they definitely make up for it in consistency. On their latest excursion into angst-ridden stop-and start noise rock, Albini and company have essentially created a musician's wet dream, with Todd Trainer's kick drum practically jumping out of the speaker and the phenomenal bass and guitar interplay between Albini and Weston being almost too much to behold. The word "intensity" doesn't even do this band justice. Just listen, and let the sound envelop your ears.









 








Buy it here!

7) Black Milk- If There's a Hell Below-I have been highly anticipating this record ever since I heard the first single "What It's Worth" on bandcamp. After already releasing the phenomenal EP Glitches in the Break earlier this year, I wasn't expecting to hear another record from him until later next year, but Milk continues to confound expectations. With If There's a Hell Below, Black Milk has managed to craft a timeless hip-hop record that is listenable from beginning to end with quality guest performances from artists such as Blu and Pete Rock. While his prowess behind the boards has always been impressive, it's the lyrical flow he possesses on this record that is destined to earn him accolades from even the harshest critic.This is the record that I listened to the most this year, and it undoubtedly deserves any praise that comes its way.



















Buy it here!

8) Meatbodies- S-T- This is the debut from Chad Ubovich, the touring guitarist for Mikal Cronin and the bassist for Fuzz. While this record doesn't go to great lengths to separate itself from the garage-rock scene that birthed Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, it somehow manages to carve out it's own little world with an arsenal of sludgy guitars, pummeling drums and anthemic vocals that will be difficult to shake from your memory.


















Buy it here!

9) Angel Olsen- Burn your Fire For No Witness- On Angel's follow-up to the spare and naked Half Way Home, she has almost completely changed her sound, while retaining the themes of despair and hopelessness that were a cornerstone of her debut. These songs have intensity, but the quivering, dissonant vocals from previous recordings are merely a footnote from Olsen's past. This time around, aside from a few notable exceptions, she has put the focus on crafting an entire album of remarkable, punchy songs that showcase her considerable talents as a vocalist and songwriter.


















Buy it here!

10) Medicine- Home Everywhere- Despite the popular belief that shoegazer music must contain the sound of a female or male's voice buried beneath layers of static and distorted guitars, Medicine's latest record manages to subvert the genre, and flip it onto it's head.  Most of these songs start pretty normally, only to switch tone or direction when the listener least expects it, giving them the audio equivalent of vertigo. There are so many musical ideas packed into this phenomenal record that it will literally make your head spin.


















Buy it here!

11) Hail Mary Mallon- Bestiary- When Hail Mary Mallon (the rap duo featuring Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic) released their first record Are You Gonna Eat That, I was fairly disappointed. For a talented lyricist like Aesop, I was expecting it to reach the heights of his solo output, but it was sorely lacking in both lyrics and production. Flash forward a little over three years, and the dynamic duo is back with a vengeance. On their second long player Bestiary, Rob Sonic has stepped up his lyrical game ten-fold, Aesop's verbally dexterous wordplay is on-point and the dynamic production makes the album flow perfectly from beginning to end.


















Buy it here!

12) White Fence- For the Recently Found Innocent- Much like other stalwarts from the garage rock scene such as Ty Segall and Sic Alps, Tim Presley of White Fence has taken the creative leap of cleaning up his production, and making his latest record For the Recently Found Innocent, dare I say, accessible to a  larger audience. As is usually the case, first impressions can be misleading. When I first heard this record, I thought the melodies and production were too polished, but multiple listens revealed an incredibly infectious rock and roll record with elements of psych, folk, garage and pop. Those who are looking to get into White Fence, but find the lo-fi production of his previous records off-putting, will find plenty to enjoy here.



















Buy it here!

13) Leo Welch- Sabougla Voices- I happened upon Leo Welch by chance, as I caught his performance at one of the smaller stages during the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival last summer. Prior to this, I had never been exposed to his music. Thankfully, I have remedied this now, as Sabougla Voices is one of my favorite  discoveries of the year.  He plays a gritty, raw blues with gospel undertones that is somewhat reminiscent of  masters of the juke-joint blues like Famous Renfroe and RL Burnside. There aren't too many classic blues artists around these days, so do yourself a favor and give this a spin.


















Buy it here!

14) Quilt- Held in Splendor- Quilt's debut narrowly missed my list a couple years ago, but I couldn't deny the euphoric feeling I get when I listen to their latest effort Held in Splendor.  The counter-harmonies of the two lead singers is majestic, while the rest of the band provides the perfect accompaniment to fit each song like a glove. For the most part, this is melodic folk-rock with swathes of psychedelia and a couple guitar rave-ups to keep everything interesting. The production is crisp and clean, but it doesn't sound hyper-compressed like 99% of contemporary music on the radio. If there were any justice in the world, Quilt's music would be blasted over the radio airwaves on a regular basis.


















Buy it here!

15) Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band- Intensity Ghost- Hot on the heels of his spectacular debut record Solar Motel, Chris Forsyth and the rest of the musicians that make up the Solar Motel Band have considerably ramped up the fervency on their latest LP Intensity Ghost. It goes without saying that it would be commercial suicide for most bands to start a record off with an eleven minute track, but the opening track "Ballad of Freer Hollow" manages to hold the listener's attention by traversing the landscape of classic rock, punk and post-rock, while demonstrating a clear sense of dynamics and skilled musicianship. That the band can reference old source material from iconoclastic groups like Television and The Grateful Dead, yet maintain a true sense of originality, is what makes them such a treasure to behold.


















Buy it here!

16) Budos Band- Burn Offering- At first, the mixture of bright horns and heavy guitars on the Budos Band's latest record didn't work for me, but I eventually changed my tune. It's been awhile since I've been really psyched about a record on Daptone records, so I was happy to discover that this record sounded amazing.   I heard that the band had been influenced by a lot of hard rock and metal during the recording of Burnt Offering, so I was interested to see how they would incorporate this into their funk-based sound. All I can say is that they were able to pull off an end result that in the hands of a lesser band would be practically insurmountable. If you like funk, afro-beat, psych or hard rock, you will find something to sink your teeth into here.


















Buy it here!

17) Woima Collective- Frou Frou Rokko- Back in 2010, Woima Collective's debut Tezeta made my list of favorites for the year, and as long as they keep releasing records of such high caliber like their follow-up Frou Frou Rokko, they will continue to have a spot reserved in my year-end lists. There are a wide range of musical styles on this record that include afro-beat, Ethiopiques, groovy funk and jazz. On certain songs like "Malaria", you may think that the classic players from the Ethiopiques 4 compilation were all brought together for an all-star jam session, while songs like "Le Petit" sound like the Afrika '70 band recruited Sean Keuti and Tony Allen to recreate their classic afro-beat sound. Overall, this is a record that will continue to reveal new things to you each time you listen to it.


















Buy it here!

18) Wildest Dreams- S-T- Strangely, this acid-soaked crate digger's dream of a record is not a reissue, but a new release from an artist who previously dabbled mostly in disco and house music. The vocalist and creator of the band, Harvey Bassett,  has essentially recruited the musicians necessary to perfectly encapsulate the sound of late 60's psych and 70's boogie rock/funk with plenty of reverb-heavy effects and extended guitar solos to satiate the appetite of any self-respecting vinyl junkie or psychedelic head-tripper.

















Buy it here!

19) Ava Luna- Electric Balloon- Imagine what would happen if Prince, Talking Heads and Deerhoof got together to make an album, and then you will have a better idea of what to expect from Electric Balloon. I've always appreciated bands who confounded my expectations so it probably isn't surprising that Ava Luna's second record is right up my alley. What I love about this record is that right when the band seems to be locked into a certain groove, they take the song in a completely new direction with a discordant guitar riff or a sudden change of tempo that throw the listener for a loop. With tight musicianship, exceptional melodies and an eclectic batch of songs, you simply can't go wrong with this record.



















Buy it here!

20) White Poppy- Dorval and Devreaux- From beginning to end, White Poppy's latest album is a revelation. Ethereal, enchanting, melodic, beautiful and intoxicating are all superlatives that I can use to describe the sound of it, but these barely scratch the surface as to the true feeling conjured up within these eight songs. While the lyrics were clearly an afterthought, as the vocals are buried under the hazy wall of bass, guitar, synths, they are still a significant part of the sound. This is repetitive, trance-inducing music to get lost in, and reflect about your place in this world.


















Buy it here!

21) Jakob Scott- Amor Fati- For those of you who have visited Eclectic Grooves over the years, it will come as no surprise that I'm not the biggest fan of music largely composed with synthesizers. With that said, it may come as a surprise to you that I'm endorsing the second record from Jakob Skott (the incredibly prolific and talented drummer from Denmark's Causa Sui) despite the fact that it's largely synth-based. Even without the scorching guitar solos and bass playing of his fellow band members from Causa Sui, Skott manages to captivate the listener's attention with a diverse array of effects pedals, analog synths, drums and organ. What results is a dazzling, technically proficient record that combines the best of kraut-rock, prog, electro-acoustic, ambient and jazz.


















Buy it here!

22) Steve Palmer- Unblinking Sun- After hearing the backwoods finger-picking intro, the last thing listeners would be expecting to hear is the propulsive, energetic kraut-rock of "Cassini:, but that is exactly what they get on the second track from Steve Palmer's latest record. Elsewhere, the mellow string-plucking on "Banjo Burner" eventually gives way to an array of reverb and echo effects, the desert blues of "A Dime's Worth of Analine" evokes Neil Young's atmospheric score of Dead Man and the combination of rattling percussion, skronky guitar and wheezing harmonica on "Plastic Mouth" is as unsettling as Krzysztof Penderecki's haunting score to The Shining. This is American Primitive music that pushes the envelope of that genre until it's completely fallen off the table.


















Buy it here!

23) Karl Hector and the Malcouns- Straight Ahead- There is no shortage of bands evoking the spirit of classic Afro-Beat from the 70's, but Karl Hector and the Malcouns expertly juxtapose funk, psychedelia and afrobeat to a dizzying affect on their latest LP Straight Ahead. Even though the album is a bit long at just   under sixty minutes, it manages to shift from genres effortlessly while creating a seamless flow between the tracks. This is an invigorating record that you will undoubtedly turn to when you are looking for something with a stone-cold groove.


















Buy it here!

24) Diamond District- March on Washington- Diamond District is a super-group of sorts featuring the veteran producer/rapper Oddisee, Uptown XO & yU the 78er.  Lyrically, this album is innovative in that it refuses to fall victim to the common tropes of contemporary hip-hop, and instead focuses on positivity, spirituality and dreams.  Each of the rappers have their own distinctive flow and delivery, but yU the 78er stands out from the rest in my personal opinion.With a characteristic blend of old-school soul, electro boom-bap and jazzy samples, the production on this record is a refreshing return to the sound of Golden Age hip-hop. 



















Buy it here!

25) Julie Byrne- Rooms With Walls and Windows- I don't remember particularly exactly how I came across this record, but it's a sure-fire winner. Ever since Chan Marshall of Cat Power decided to abandon her early sound featuring yearning vocals and evocative lyrics filled with despair and regret, an empty void has been left in the female singer/songwriter genre that needed to be filled. On Julie Byrne's debut record, she has accomplished this feat without a doubt. This is the sad, expressive and honest songwriting that most people claim Sharon Van Etten is capable of, but is clearly light years ahead of Van Etten. 



















Buy it here!

26) Causi Sui- Pewt'r Sessions 3- I have to thank Jhubner for introducing me to the ever-expanding sonic universe created by Causa Sui, including solo efforts from multi-instrumentalists Jonas Munk and Jacob Skott. Even though this isn't even technically a proper release, I would be remiss if I left it off the list. What this trio from Denmark specialize in is slow-burning psychedelia that eventually explodes into a frenzied cacophony of blistering guitars, spastic percussion and pummeling bass lines. With only three songs on the record, it leaves little room for error. But, the three members of Causa Sui have mastered the concept of dynamics with the slow tempo of the first two songs setting the stage for the epic, head-spinning twenty-six minute closer "Incipiency Suite". If you haven't listened to Causa Sui yet, you need to make up for lost time. 



















Buy it here!

27) Elisa Ambrogio- The Immoralist- Most of you won't be familiar with the name Elisa Ambrogio, but if you followed the trajectory of her career with the noise rock pioneers Magik Markers throughout the last decade, you know that you never know what to expect. While the first couple tracks on her latest offering feature mellow instrumentation and beautiful melodies, "Mary Perfectly" features a more aggressive guitar tone and distorted vocals where "Clarinet Queen" has a propulsive rhythm that ultimately culminates into a wall of sound. It's a perfect mix between the angst-ridden punk of the early days of Magik Markers with their new-found interest in sublime melodies and textures. 




















Buy it here!

28) Fire Orchestra- Second Exit- I don't get exposed to nearly enough jazz these days, but I had to include the live version of the Fire Orchestra's Exit on this list for the simple fact that it's the most manic, unbridled, off-the-hinges improvisational jazz that I've heard in quite some time. The vocals from Mariam Wallentin are more up-front in the live version, and at times evoke the shrill pitch of Pere Ubu's David Thomas. Of course, any project that Mats Gustafsson is a part of is worth your time, but this recording is the second-best thing to experiencing the band's electrifying live performance. 




















Buy it here!

29) Flying Lotus- You're Dead-  Previous Flying Lotus albums have featured a little bit of the jazz influence that was natural for an artist who happens to be Alice Coltrane's nephew, but never before has he incorporated jazz to this extent, even featuring the great Herbie Hancock on "Moment of Hesitation". In addition to the jazzy tracks throughout this eclectic album, FlyLo also delves into electronic, hip-hop, prog and soul. It's a very mesmerizing listening experience that will leave you a bit shell-shocked, though glad that you embarked on the adventure. 


















Buy it here!

30) Parquet Courts- Sunbathing Animal- While this album lacks the melodic one-two punch of Light Up Gold's "Master of My Craft" and "Borrowed Time", it features plenty of feverish punk rock with incisive lyrics that cut right to the bone. With the centerpiece clearly being the basking-in-the-sunlight summer jam "Instant Disassembly" with it's catchy but repetitive rhythms, Parquet Courts have written a track that will resonate with generations to come. Even without this track, the album is a perfect follow-up to Light Up Gold, as it doesn't repeat past achievements just because they worked fine the first time around.


















 
Buy it here!

31) D'Angelo and the Vanguard- Black Messiah- After waiting fourteen years for the follow-up to Voodoo, the entire world was listening to D'Angelo's latest record three days after the initial announcement that the album was coming. It was as if our dreams had finally been answered, and the messiah had come forward with his new prophecy. According to the musicians and engineers who played a significant part in the recording process of Black Messiah, a lot of the music was recorded over a decade ago, making this even more incredible that the music on it is especially relevant to the current state of racial tension and police brutality in the U.S. I haven't had a chance to really delve into the record yet, but after a few listens, it's already clear to me that D'Angelo's latest offering has the potential to reach the heights of his past efforts.



















Buy it here!


32) Ty Segall- Manipulator- Keeping up with the recording output of Ty Segall can be a fool's errand. On his latest offering, he has successfully meshed the sound of all of his previous albums into one behemoth of a rock album filled with the amped-up guitar sound from Slaughterhouse and Melted, the acoustic goodness  found on Sleeper, the frenzied guitar solos of his side-project Fuzz and the majestic melodies found on Melted and Goodbye Bread. At a whopping 56-minutes, this is almost too much of a good thing for your ears to handle!


















Buy it here!

33) Noura Mint Seymali- Tzenni- This record has obvious similarities to the Tuareg sound of Tinariwen, but Seymali's vocal melodies are more varied from song to song than Tinariwen, and her guitar solos are given the space to weave imaginative tangles of psychedelic sound. This was released during the first quarter of the year, so it nearly slipped beneath my radar. Thankfully, this was one of a few new things I discovered on Aquarium Drunkard's year-end list.


















 Buy it here!

34) Rhyton- Kykeon-  Those of you who aren't familiar with the name D. Charles Speer, will probably not be aware that he was also a founding member of the avant-garde collective The No Neck Blues Band.  Outside the realm of both of these projects lies the propulsive, exotic Middle-Eastern and Greek-flavored post-rock that takes flight for the duration of this album only to land on solid ground by the end of the journey. The sublime blankets of sound found on this record are positively transcendental.


















Buy it here!

35) Fumaca Preta- S/T- Upon first listen of Fumaca Preta's self-titled debut, you might think that you are listening to a lost Brazilian psych record from the late 60's, but instead it's a new release from the twisted mind of Portugese-Venezuelan auteur Alex Figueira on the always consistent Soundway Records.
Alex Figueira
The album that Figueira created with an assorted cast of characters is a breath of fresh air in an industry stuffed with homogenized acts who all want to sound exactly like one another. Fumaca Preta are able to channel the psychedelia of Os Mutantes and Caetano Veloso while peppering their sound with futuristic space-age effects, killer drum breaks and blazing fuzz guitar.


















Buy it here

36) Pharoahe Monch- P.T.S.D- The highly anticipated follow-up to Pharoahe Monch's last album W.A.R. has finally come to fruition this year, and it was clearly worth the wait. On P.T.S.D., Monch possesses a lyrical depth that is rare in contemporary hip-hop, but it makes sense considering that he got his start with the pioneering hip-hop act Organized Konfusion back in the early 90's. Recording the tracks for this album was clearly a labor of love for Monch, as he was battling an addiction to prescription drugs for his asthmatic condition, and experiencing side effects such as depression and anxiety. The resulting album is an emotional, mental and cathartic ride through the artist's ups and downs, ending with a trilogy of tracks that celebrate his ability to overcome depression and addiction in the face of adversity. Emotionally bare and honest songwriting like this is practically unheard of in the current landscape of hip-hop, but Monch created this record to let others who are experiencing some level of depression, addiction or mental disorder know that they aren't alone.



















Buy it here!

37) Orlando Julius and the Heliocentrics- Jaiyede Afro- It's been a big year for The Heliocentrics with the collaboration record with Melvin Van Peebles coming out a couple months ago, and this record with the extraordinary Nigerian saxophonist Orlando Julius being released in September. Their trademark production that favors a reverb-heavy sound is present on a few tracks, but most of these tracks are straight-up classic afro-beat that will have you tapping your feet to the infectious rhythms.


















Buy it here!

38) Jeremiah Jae- Good Times- With producer/rapper wunderkind Jeremiah Jae's latest record, he has managed to create a conceptual record that seamlessly ties together key snippets of dialogue from the 70's television show Good Times to tell personal stories about the current state of affairs in Chicago. With Oliver the 2nd's impressive verbal dexterity and a cast of others from the Black Jungle Squad, Jeremiah has crafted an underground hip-hop record featuring rare soul samples that act as if they are another part of the ongoing dialogue. This is still gritty hip-hop with a propensity for profanity, but it's balanced out with good vibes that are perfect for a summertime drive.


















Listen here!

39) King Gizzard and Lizard Wizard- I'm in Your Mind Fuzz- With the recent switch to Dwyer's Castleface records, and naming their new record I'm In Your Mind Fuzz, you pretty much know what to expect from this slab of wax from King Gizzard and Lizard Wizard. What you might not expect is the addition of harmonica to the garage-rock intensity of the opening song "I'm In Your Mind". While the band definitely have an affinity for the no-holds-barred rock of Thee Oh Sees, they retain their own brand of wonked-out, surf-inflected spazz-rock that would definitely be a blast to see at a live performance.

Buy it here!

40) Lorelle Meets the Obsolete- Chambers- The debut record from this Guadalajaran husband-wife duo entitled Corruptible Faces made my list last year, and it would be doing them a disservice to leave them off this year. Chambers features a wall-of-sound production that channels shoegaze, kraut, psychedelic and garage while burying the lyrics just enough to retain a significantly haunting presence.


















Buy it here!

This concludes my year-end review for 2014. If you would like to hear songs from any of the records that are featured on this list, please leave a message for me in the comments. 

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

All Hallows Eve



















The 2014 Halloween edition of the I Hear a New World Podcast is available to listen to here, and to listen/download at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com.

Every year around the first of October, I start compiling another batch of songs for the Halloween podcast. After scouring through a massive folder filled with tracks that barely missed the cut from previous mixes, I completed the final track sequencing a couple days ago. While I was in the process of adding the tracks into Audacity today, it crashed right before I was about to add the last song. Damn computers!  I had been working on this for over 2 hours, and had lost my entire project.  While I felt like throwing in the towel, I powered through and recreated the entire mix in Audacity, though this time I saved my changes every time I added a track. I guess this is all part of the creative process, but it certainly threw a monkey-wrench in my day.

Those of you who recall my mix from last year, will be glad to know that this year's mix is almost as creepy as that one. While I have thrown in a few novelty songs to balance out the flow, I still wouldn't encourage you to listen to this mix with the lights off.

Please listen responsibly, and remember to pay close attention to the danger lurking just around the corner. Oh, and let me know what you think of the mix by leaving a comment.

Until next time...

All Hallows Eve Mix

1) Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson- Drive to the House
2) The Poetics- Wylde Child
3) Thee Cormans- Spider and the Fly
4) Horsebladder- Pioneer
5) Umberto- Black Candles
6) Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds- Haunted Head
7) The Fresh & Onlys- Invisible Forces
8) Chrome- Night of the Earth
9) Louise Huebner- The Self Fascination Ritual for Increased Power
10) Mica Levi- Lips to Void
11) Propergol- Hand in the Furnace
12) The Abstracts- Nightmare
13) The Mad Daddy- Werewolf Poem
14) Gary Warren- Werewolf
15) Bernard Fevre- Monster Laboratory
16) Frank Reidy and Eric Allen- Cobwebs
17) SPK- Genetic Transmission
18) Graveyard 5- The Marble Orchard
19) Beat Happening- Gravedigger Blues
20) Sharkey Todd & His Monsters- The Cool Ghoul
21) The Replacements- Willpower
22) Nine Inch Nails- Ghosts II-15
23) Coil- Something
24) Magik Markers- Circle
25) Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson- Outside the House