Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sun City Girls and Delta Dan

It was brought to my attention by the FM Shades blog that Charles Gocher from the Sun City Girls passed away on February 20th at the age of 54. Charles had been battling cancer over the last three years, but apparently he only wanted his immediate family and friends to know about his illness. I was privileged enough to witness his frenetic free-jazz inspired drumming and spoken-word at a Sun City Girls show at Dante's in Portland, OR on 11/13/02. It was a sight to behold , and an experience that I will never forget. I wish I had gone to the band's last show in Portland, but unfortunately I can't turn back the hands of time. In honor of Charles and his recordings with the Sun City Girls, I am posting an album from the Sun City Girls' limited edition Carnival Folklore Resurrection Series called The Handsome Stranger which primarily focuses on the profanity-laced beat poet stylings of Gocher with Alan and Rick Bishop complementing him with a loungey jazz backdrop on piano and guitar. It kind of sounds like a tourrettes-inflicted Tom Waits walking at midnight while tripping on acid in the seedy underbelly of the big city. This is definitley not the angular dissonance or Middle Eastern Ethno-rock that most people associate the Sun City Girls with, but we love them because they are unpredicatable. Here is a review from All Music Guide on The Handsome Stranger

Also, as an added bonus, I am posting a Sun City Girls live gig from Montreal, QC that sounds pretty good. Let's lift our glasses and toast to a truly legendary drummer, poet, linguist, comedian and human being.

Here are some links with dedications to Charlie from the past week.

Sun City Girls Homepage
Obscure Sound
Pitchfork Media
Plan B
DRC Message Board

SCG- The Handsome Stranger.rar

SCG- Live in Quebec Part 1.rar
SCG- Live in Quebec Part 2.rar

I was listening to KBOO radio about three weeks ago and sadly discovered that Dan Lissy, one of the original founders of Music Millennium, had passed away after experiencing a heart attack in front of Music Millennium. I scoured the web for pictures of Dan, but this little picture was all I could find. I used to work at Music Millennium and was fascinated with Dan's stories about opening the store in 1969 and only selling releases on Takoma Records and other underground record lablels. He was a huge John Fahey and delta blues fan which ultimately led to the "Delta Dan" nickname he was given by his circle of friends. Dan had a very eccentric personality and a subversive sense of humor, and you could always count on him speaking his mind. Even though I wasn't close to him, I feel a certain emptiness knowing he's gone. For those of us who knew Dan personally, may our memories of him make us smile, laugh and reflect a little about how precious life is. Here is an obituary from the Oregonian.

I am posting a couple Fahey songs in honor of Dan. These are both taken from Fahey's concept album America which featured reworkings of classic American hymns, gospel and folk songs. It is a masterpiece of fragile folk, intricate fingerpicking and slow blues. If you haven't heard of Fahey before and you like these songs, make sure you check out Of Rivers and Religion, Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death and Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes.

John Fahey- Amazing Grace and Jesus Is A Dying Breadmaker
From: America [Takoma, 1971]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche

Nels Cline(Nels Cline Singers, Wilco) and Glenn Kotche( Wilco) are playing a show at the Doug Fir Lounge this Saturday for $12. I've seen Nels Cline live before and he is one of the most extraordinary avant garde jazz guitarists playing nowadays. During his performances, he displays a skill and dexterity in playing incendiary guitar solos so fast that it makes the listener's head swim. His diverse recording endeavours include projects with the Nels Cline Singers(instrumental), Wilco, Scott Amendola Group, Vinny Golia, Thurston Moore, Charlie Haden, Willie Nelson and Carla Bozulich. He is well versed in punk, noise, free jazz, country, traditional jazz and just about any other style that he attempts. I am most familiar with the Nels Cline Singers album called Instrumentals which is a barnstormer of an album blending noise, blues, free jazz, ambient and acoustic music. Nels describes the album as “powerjazzrockfreepsychedelicate instrumental music.”

For what it's worth, my favorite track on the record is called Lowered Boom. This track begins with a distorted electronic percussion loop layered underneath a rumbling bassline which perfectly sets the tone for Cline's dazzling guitar solos. Around the two minute mark, the drums kick the song into overdrive and Nels really goes for broke with a complex and dissonant solo where he seems to be channeling Jimi Hendrix and Lou Reed simultaneously. The skill and dexterity with which he plays the guitar is unparalleled in today's musical climate.

His latest record New Monastery was released on Cyrptogramophone records in 2006. It is Nels' interpretation of compositions created by renowned jazz pianist Andrew Hill. I have posted a review of this record from All Music Guide to give you more of an idea of what it sounds like. Hope you enjoy the tracks!

Nels Cline Singers- Lowered Boom
From: Instrumentals [Cryptogramophone, 2002]

Nels Cline- Not Sa No Sa
From: New Monastery [Cryptogramophone, 2006]

Glenn Kotche is best known for his drumming in the ultra-famous alt-country group Wilco, but he also assumes drumming duties for Loose Fur, On Fillmore, The Fred Lonberg-Holm Quartet and The Minus Five. If this wasn't enough, he also creates drum improvisations using hubcaps and found objects as well as building his own percussion instruments. His latest recording entitled Mobile was released on Nonesuch Records in 2006. Kotche composes and plays everything except for the opener Clapping Music Variations which is based on Steve Reich's composition entitled Clapping Music. He demonstrates his versatility by playing cymbals, vibes, marimbas, kalimbas and tom toms to create a very compelling and eclectic recording. I hope you enjoy the music!
Glenn Kotche- Monkey Chant and Individual Trains
From: Mobile [Nonesuch, 2006]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

MV& EE w/ Charalambides

I wanted to post a little something on MV & EE w/ The Bummer Road since they are rolling through Portland tonight w/ Charalambides at The Reed College Chapel. I realize its not much notice, but if you want to head out to the show, it's probably around $6-8.

The MV stands for Matt Valentine and the EE stands for Erika Elder. The married duo have been releasing limited edition CD-R's and vinyl that have long gone out of print. For those of you who weren't fortunate enough to snag those when they were in print, you can still find them scattered on various blogs and file sharing services such as Soulseek. I will be posting a couple of these later this week, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Since time is of the essence I am only going to say that ever since I discovered the Tower Recordings (MV & EE's band before they started MV & EE w/ The Bummer Road) ) album Folk Scene, I have been mesmerized with it's intoxicating blend of atmospheric folk, indian ragas, experimental soundscapes and haunting slide guitar blues. MV & EE continues this trend, but tightens up their sound into more of a song-oriented electric blues with distorted psychedelic vocals. There is still plenty of left-field experimentation on Green Blues to interest fans of eclectic free-folk outfits like No Neck Blues Band, Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, Sunburned Hand of the Man and Animal Collective. Here is a review for their new album on Ecstatic Peace called Green Blues.

MV & EE w/ The Bummer Road- Canned Happiness and All Troubled Blues
From:Green Blues [ Ecstatic Peace, 2007]

Charalambides are another husband and wife duo who tirelessly release limited edition CD-R's on their Wholly Other label. The sound of Charalambides is hard to nail down in just a couple sentences, but I will just say that they create an experiemental folk sound with droning lap-steel guitars and spookily ethereal vocals that seep into the darkened corners of your mind. Here is a site that gives more info on Charalambides. Here is a review of A Vintage Burden from Stylus Magazine. Make sure that you check out this show if you live in Portland, Oregon. I'll be back later this week with an update about the show.

Charalambides- Dormant Love and Hope Against Hope
From: A Vintage Burden [Kranky, 2006]

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Hiatus Is Over

Well, first of all, it really is great to be back after being gone for a little over a month. However, I am disappointed that my last post on a mix-CD called Aural Film Noir Excursions received only one comment over the past month. I hope I still have some readers out there in Blogland. If you guys are out there and you appreciate what I do here at Eclectic Grooves, please give me a shout.
And now onto our regularly scheduled program:
I was fortunate enought to see Deerhoof twice in the last year, and their recent show at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR was definitely something you had to see to believe. Greg Saunier played the drums like a speed-addled crackhead who's had one too many cups of coffee. I was in awe as his octopus-like drumming skills captivated the sold-out all ages show. He is essentially a rock drummer, but his fills are as funky as the JB's and his drumming is mostly reminiscent of free-jazz legends such as Milford Graves or Sunny Murray. You have to see him live to experience his drumming in all it's glory, because the records only seem to scratch the surface of his undeniable talent. The only other drummers out there that continue to blow my mind are Free-Jazz drummers Han Bennink, Jim Black and Hamid Drake. The rest of the band is propelled by his energy and feeds off of that for a transcendental live experience. Go see Deerhoof whenever they come to your neck of the woods. You won't be sorry!
Deerhoof are a three-piece art-rock band from San Francisco who have churned out nine mind-blowing records over the last decade. They used to be a four-piece, but guitarist Chris Cohen left shortly after the band's last album was released to pursue his own project called The Curtains. After Cohen left, the band must have been inspired to one-up the sonic frenzy of The Runners Four by encapsulating the dizzying array of creative ideas explored on that album and transforming them into the mini-epic art-damaged masterpieces that became Friend Opportunity.
Deerhoof's latest aural platter Friend Opportunity was released on Kill Rock Stars on 1/23, and it's a monster of a record. If you aren't familiar with Deerhoof's music, a great primer would be to pick up their last record called The Runners Four. Purists will tell you that the only stuff worth it's salt is their earlier material like The Man, the King, the Girl and Halfbird. While I can't deny this, I implore you to check out Friend Opportunity and let the playful childlike melodies and stop-start herky-jerky rhythms be your new soundtrack for waking up without your morning triple espresso latte'. You won't be needing coffee to wake up, because this record is so upbeat and infectious that it will jumpstart your morning. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Friend Opportunity, clocking in at just under 37 minutes, is an amazing exercise in restraint because it takes the band less time to say more. The first nine tracks fly by so fast that your senses will be overloaded with an abundance of creative sound patterns and textures. On the opening track The Perfect Me, the band wastes no time in getting the party started as they bust out the gates with a menacing organ line coupled with the complex octopus drumming of Greg Saunier. This song changes tempo several times and mixes everything from childlike Japanese vocals, classic rock riffing, stop-start dynamics and frenetic free-jazz drumming all together in an eclectic musical stew. +81 is the obvious choice for a single with a punchy marching drum and horn snippet that segueways into a rocking acrobatic riff. Then, Satomi Matsuzaki's cryptic verses lead the listener into the most infectious chorus these ears have been graced with in quite some time. Believe E.S.P considerably slows down the pace with a catchy chorus of La-La-La's complemented by a funky bassline, electronic snippets and seductive vocals. The Galaxist starts out with a wistful vocal and plaintive acoustic guitar that sounds like Stereolab, but then bursts into a gargantuan Sabbath-like riff with hyper-speed drumming that fades away as a beautiful chorus emerges out of nowhere. By the time you get to Look Away, you finally get to take a breath, regroup and prepare yourself for an earth shattering exercise in dynamics as the track slowly wraps itself around you like a snake with spiraling, intertwining guitars and creepy childlike vocals. In the middle of the track, the snake injects it's venom into your bloodstream with a cacophonous climax of guitars similar to The Velvet Underground's European Son. The sounds and textures of this record deserve a headphone listen, if only to truly appreciate the time and effort that went into its creation.
I have posted four tracks from the record so you can get a grasp of the multi-layered sonic presence that unfolds into your ears. Trust me, it took me awhile before I could start appreciating this record, but like all great records it continues to be more rewarding after each listening experience. If you dig these tracks, please pick up the record here, or at your local record store.
From: Friend Opportunity [KRS, 2007]