Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Best Music of 2007 Part 2

As promised, here is the next installment from my Best of 2007 list. I hope you enjoy it!

6)People- Misbegotten Man

I first read heard about these guys after reading an article in Signal To Noise a couple months ago. This creative duo from Brooklyn, NY creates abrasive math-rock that combines propulsive free jazz drumming with atonal guitar noodling. The kicker is that singer/guitarist Mary Halverson (guitarist for Anthony Braxton and Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsan) sings in a style that evokes a 30's style jazz torch singer and this is fused with Kevin Shea's frenzied scattershot drumming. Incredibly infectious ear candy for adventurous listeners.

From: Misbegotten Man

Click here to buy this album

7)Nina Nastasia and Jim White- You Follow Me

I already wrote about this album earlier this year. You can find that post here along with four more tracks from this album. Nastasia's fragile vocals are complemented perfectly by the inventive drumming of Jim White from Australia's dynamic trio The Dirty Three.

From: You Follow Me

Click here to buy this album

8)The Dirty Projectors- Rise Above-

I saw the Dirty Projectors at Satyricon during the annual Music Fest NW in Portland, OR, and was completely awestruck at their performance. The Dirty Projectors is essentially the brainchild of extremely prolific one-man band Dave Longstreth. Since 2002, the Dirty Projectors have released 6 full-length records and one ep. Each record has explored a new type of music or concept, and Rise Above is no exception to this rule. Rise Above is a concept album that Longstreth was inspired to explore after finding an empty CD case to Black Flag's Damaged. This is the end result of his reimagining the album from memory. It is a funky soul-inflected avant garde juggernaut with Longstreth's quavering vocals and the incredible stop-start dynamics of Brian McOmber on drums. Repeated listens reveal an expertly crafted record with heart and soul that would make Black Flag proud.

Dirty Projectors- Depression and Rise Above
From: Rise Above

Click here to buy this album

9)Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings- 100 Days, 100 Nights

I have been eagerly anticipating a new Sharon Jones record since 2005's satisfyingly funky Naturally. 100 Days, 100 Nights is a full-blown soul record in the spirit of Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack records from the heyday of 60's soul. Check out the ultra-funky vamping bassline combined with Sharon's soul-stirring delivery on "Nobody's Baby".

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings- Answer Me and Nobody's Baby
From: 100 Days, 100 Nights

Click here to buy this album

10) Aesop Rock- None Shall Pass

I've been listening to Aesop Rock since around 2001, when I first heard the double entendre-laced lyrical paradise that is Labor Days. Aesop's latest record None Shall Pass takes his rhyming and prodcution to the next level. Shades of Blockhead's production and Aesop's old-school storytelling from Labor Days can be heard on the hauntingly poetic "Fumes". Aesop's tongue twisting rhyme techniques are in full effect on "Five Fingers" where he lashes out a mind boggling amount of words in a small amount of space. Check out these lyrics from Five Fingers: "Gotta configure the five fingers so the hot wire vehicular skill is applicable and for eyes on the prize and the itch aint flush to hope the fruits of your labor roll in the initial rush". He definitely brings his A-game on this stellar record filled with a plethora of riddles and rhymes for the hip-hop heads.

Aesop Rock-
Fumes and Five Fingers
From: None Shall Pass

Click here to buy this album

Here is the zip file for all of the tracks in this post.

Your comments are always appreciated!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Best Music of 2007 Part 1

I realize it's getting down to the wire, but I've managed to finally decide on 25 albums for the list. I don't know how people have been able to narrow it down to 10 this year, since it was such a fantastic year for creative musical masterpieces. This is the first installment of my Best Music of 2007 list. I will try to feature five more albums from the list each day to complete the list by the end of next week.

Please note that the numbers are not in any order of rank or importance. You might also notice that the list doesn't have any blues or folk. Most of the blues and folk that I listen to tends to be the old-school stuff like Fred Neil, Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker. Unfortunately most of these cats are no longer around, so my lists tend to focus on indie rock, experimental and hip-hop. Please feel free to voice your opinion if you have discrepancies with this list, or want to post your own list. I definitely try to have an open mind about opinions regarding all types of music.

Because of the sheer volume of this list, I won't be able to write in-depth reviews on each record. Instead, I will provide concise reviews on each record and links to more in-depth reviews on each selection. I hope you enjoy the list, and keep checking back for some Christmas selections very soon.

1) Sir Richard Bishop- Polytheistic Fragments- Former Sun City Girls guitar virtuoso delivers an eclectic, intoxicating blend of indian ragas, flamenco, appalachian folk, gypsy jazz and blues that is less experimental than previous efforts, but definitely not less captivating. Here is a review that goes into more detail about the specific songs.

From: Polytheistic Fragments

Click here to buy this album

2) Panda Bear- Person Pitch- High profile side project from Animal Collective vocalist Panda Bear who crafts a pitch perfect rendition of what the Beach Boys would have sounded like in an alternate universe. Don't take my word for it. Check out the sublime opening track "Comfy In Nautica" and prepare to be mesmerized by beautiful melodies that wrap around your ears like a warm blanket of sound. Here is a more in-depth review from Delusions of Adequacy.

Panda Bear- Comfy In Nautica and Bros
From: Person Pitch

Click here to buy this album!

3) Animal Collective- Strawberry Jam- Since I've already been talking about Panda Bear, I thought that I would have to include the latest long player by Animal Collective in this list. Strawberry Jam seems to be a natural progression from their last album Feels, in that it contains infectious and catchy melodies that will be imprinted on the pleasure receptors of your brain after the first listen. This album is exceptional in that it is an experimental and noisy record that is entirely accessible to all listeners. Check out the explosions of feedback and industrial machine noise mixed with tuneful screaming during the chorus of "Cuckoo Cuckoo".

Animal Collective-Winter Wonderland and Cuckoo Cuckoo
From: Strawberry Jam

Click here to buy this album

4) Amon Tobin- Foley Room- Amon Tobin (Canada's Electro-jazz glitch hop pioneeer)crafted his latest aural tapestry of sound Foley Room in an actual "Foley Room". The foley room is the room where sound effects for a motion picture are created, so you can imagine the sonic clarity of this recording. This is a brain-bending adventure from beginning to end with glitch-electronica beats juxtaposed with field recordings of exotic animals and hypnotic basslines. Sort of like a modern day Martin Denny or Les Baxter.

From: Foley Room

Click here to buy this album

5) Radiohead- In Rainbows- The chameleon-like five piece from Oxfordshire, England have crafted another seemingly effortless masterpiece. In Rainbows is a mellow chillout record that is perfect music for watching snow gently hit the windowpane on a cold winter's night. Hypnotic vocal melodies are interweaved with orchestral flourishes creating a haunting backdrop for endless days and nights.

Radiohead- 15 Step and Videotape

Click here to buy this album
For those people that don't like to download individual files, here is a zip file that includes all of the songs in this post.
Your comments are always appreciated!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Get It While You Can... Again

I've received a couple requests to have the Howard Tate "Get It While You Can" re-upped, so I hope you enjoy this soul classic originally released on Verve in 1966. Here is a link to the original post on Howard Tate from May.

In other news, I plan on posting a Best Music of 2007 list soon. Hopefully, I can get it to you in time to purchase some great music for the holidays. My hope was to have this list completed by early December, but you know how life can get busy. I'm heading home to Peoria, IL for the holidays, so I'm trying to get everything wrapped up here before I leave for my trip.

I will try to re-upload some Christmas blues and soul gems that I had on here last year, as well as a few more new ones. You're probably thinking that this blog is turning into a funk and soul blog, but I have plenty of free jazz and discordant improvisation stuff to fill the experimental music enthusiast's stocking too.

Also, after the holidays, I plan on starting a new series of posts on Eclectic Grooves including The Art of Hip-Hop sampling, New Release/artist of the week and Local Band showcases. Those of you who check out Ear Fuzz on a regular basis, know that I have contributed a couple posts on the "Anatomy of a Sample". Essentially, I analyze hip-hop songs and discuss the music of the bands that were sampled. Then, I feature several song samples at the end of the post as a companion to the post. Since the folks are digging those posts at Ear Fuzz, I will be featuring a variation of that here on Eclectic Grooves. I am in the process of figuring out the logistics, but I will have more time to focus on this stuff after the holidays. In the meantime, enjoy the Howard Tate and be on the lookout for the Best Music of 2007 list.

Link for Howard Tate is in the Comments!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Holy Grail of Soul

I first became aware of this rare soul gem after reading the article on Freddie Terrell and the Soul Expedition in the April/May issue of Wax Poetics. For more information on Freddie Terrell, here is a review I wrote about Freddie Terrell and the Soul Expedition on Ear Fuzz in August. Freddie was recruited as the guitar player in Lee Moses and the Showstoppers band before Lee had recorded anything on wax. I'm not sure which songs Freddie plays on throughout Time and Place, but there is no doubt that his spirit and grace was present during the recording sessions for the album. If anyone has any extra info on Freddie's contributions to Time and Place, please give a shout.

Lee Moses recorded Time and Place on Maple Records in 1971, and it has stood the test of time as a soul/funk/gospel/psych masterpiece for the ages. It is considered by most reviewers to be one of the greatest unsung soul records ever. Peope who dug the Howard Tate record I posted on here several months ago, as well as soul aficionados, will treasure this record. By the way, if anyone is interested in the Howard Tate, let me know and I will re-up it for you.

Highlights for me include the funky and groovy "Got That Will" featuring bottom heavy bass and wah-wah guitar while Lee waxes nostalgic about the great soul legends that "made it", a slow psychedelic version of the Mama's and the Papa's "California Dreamin" with funky breakdowns, punchy horns and soul-stirring vocals and a funky interpretation of Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" with an astonishing wah-wah guitar solo that is a true testament to the power of soul. There are also a couple northern-soul style slow burners such as "Adorable One" and "What You Don't Want Me to Be" where Lee vocalizes with so much intensity that he sounds like a fire and brimstone preacher exorcising evil spirits. Overall, this is an amazing record that is not to be missed.

I've gone back and forth as to whether it is ethical to share this entire album, and I have decided to share it at a lower bitrate since it has been reissued on Sanctuary/Castle Records recently. The reissue includes a lot of extra bonus tracks that weren't featured on the original album, so make sure you get that version. The version I am sharing here is the original album at 192 K, which is well below CD quality, but it still sounds good enough to sample.
I hope you enjoy this record, and if you like the record, please purchase it by visiting the links here, here, here or here. It is definitely worth it, as you get the original album plus 14 bonus tracks for your money.

Link in comments

Your comments are always appreciated!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Backwoods Campfire Folk

A couple people requested this out-of-print release from the amazing Nevada City folk singer Alela Diane, so here you go. Forest Parade was originally self-released and hand-made by Alela herself, but it is no longer available to buy in any format. I was fortunate enough to find these files on the internet several months ago after an exhaustive search. Those of you who were lucky enough to purchase a copy of this before it went out of print were undoubtedly graced with a beautiful handmade CD made completely by Alela's hands. I did get my hands on a Pirates Gospel limited edition CD with beautiful hand lettered art and graphics. Well worth the money!

Forest Parade is a hauntingly minimal record filled with fragile vocals and lightly plucked guitar that relaxes your body and mind. Each song features Alela on vocals and guitar with very few overdubs and minimal accompaniment. These songs cast a seductive spell on the listener that can't be broken until the final seconds of the album unfold. This is really captivating and heart-wrenching folk that would appeal to people who dig classic folk like Sibylle Baier and Karen Dalton, as well as current favorites like Cat Power and Laura Gibson.
I featured a couple songs from Alela's The Pirates Gospel on my Best of 2006 list last year. I don't think the links are still up , but you can check out my review on the record here. If you like Forest Parade, please check out Alela's website or Myspace page to purchase her other stuff that is still in print. Also check out her tour dates, as she might be coming to your town soon.

In the upcoming weeks, I have a lot of interesting stuff that I will be showcasing here such as a rare soul gem from Lee Moses. Stay tuned to that dial!
Link in comments