Monday, December 29, 2008

Best Albums of 2008- Part 1

While I was compiling this Best Albums of 2008 list, it became painfully obvious to me that I wasn't fully prepared for the task at hand. Since the majority of music I listened to this year was culled from the massive archives of the sharity blogs, I haven't paid much attention to current trends in music. After sifting through an ocean of new records released in 2008, I had so many melodies and chord progressions floating through my brain matter that the notes were spilling out of my ears.

The method to my madness was simple, or so it would seem. I proceeded to gather every "Best Albums of 2008" list that I could find to make myself aware of releases that had slipped through the cracks of my listening repertoire. Then, I compiled a comprehensive list that represents the diversity of the music released throughout the year. Today I am posting the first part of this list starting with #11-20. I hope you enjoy this list and discover some new music.

11) Juana Molina- Un Dia and Quien(suite)
From: Un Dia [Domino, 2008]

I'm not real familiar with her earlier records but this one instantly grabbed my attention with its intoxicating mix of multi-layered vocals laid over complex polyrhythms. The first time I heard the opening track "Un dia", my jaw instantly hit the floor and I was in a state of euphoria. As the undulating bass rhythms interweave with Juana's seductive vocals, the listener is taken to a higher plane of consiousness. Every time I listen to this album I hear something fresh and exciting.

12) Au- Verbs- Are Animals and rr vs. d
From: Verbs [Aagoo Records, 2008]

My first exposure to AU was at MusicFest NW this year, and Mark Kaylor from Hammer Of Hathor was lending a hand on drumming duties. It was a fantastic feast for the ears, as the one-man-band stylings of Luke Wyland were captured in a live context. As I listen to the second track on the record, "Are Animals", I can't get over the pristine sound of the instruments and voices. It's as if Luke and his compadres plugged their microphones and amplifiers directly into the cilia of my ear to achieve a seamless symphony of sound. Au manage to retain the whimsical nature of Animal Collective while still forging its own path within the freak-folk tribe.

13) Ponytail- Beg Waves and G Shock
From: Ice Cream Spiritual [WE ARE FREE, 2008]

Ponytail were on a lot of the experimental blogs, and they were even on the Pitchfork Top 50, so I had no idea what to expect. The lead singer coos, howls, screams and shrieks at the top of her lungs while the rest of the band plays with a reckless abandon that sounds like a band falling down the stairs while standing up straight. Check out the first two tracks on the record if that description didn't make any sense.

14)Capillary Action- Badlands and Self Released
From: So Embarrassing [Pangaea Recordings, 2008]

I've already raved about this band being one of the best progressive avant-metal tropicalia bands out there, so what else do you need to know? Oh yeah! They rock with crazy time signatures that would make Damon Che from Don Caballero consider retiring his drumsticks.

15)Cicada Omega- Last Night and Ring Like Gold
From: These Bones [Self-released, 2008]

I featured an in-depth history of Cicada Omega back in June when their first full length album These Bones was released. Even though it was recorded using an Apple Computer program, the sounds on These Bones come across as live and vibrant, perfectly capturing Cicada's gritty, gut-bucket blues sound. Standouts include the opener "Four Horsemen" where lead singer Reverend Barry D. Winfield channels the fiery spirit of a preacher walking on hot coals and the audacious interpretation of John Lee Hooker's Boogie Chillen' entitled "The Boogie". Cicada Omega is taking the world by storm and will make you get up out ya chair to boogie like you don't care.

16) Bonnie Prince Billy-
For Every Field There's a Mole and Lie Down In the Light
Lie Down In the Light [Drag City, 2008]

I honestly haven't heard this album yet, but I've liked almost every record from Bonnie Prince Billy aside from the collaboration they did with Tortoise a couple years back. So, I am adding this to the list based on his excellent track record. If I am wrong about this one, you can hold me personally responsible. For those of you looking for other recommendations, you should check out Master and Everyone, I See a Darkness and Superwolf.

17) No Age- Impossible Bouquet and Ripped Knees
Nouns [Sub Pop, 2008]

One of the Sub Pop bands that continues to live up to the hype that surrounds them. This duo cranks up the noise quotient on the majority of the record but has the sense to mellow things out with ambient white-noise instrumentals that evoke classic Music For Airports-era BrianEno. If you like Nouns, make sure to pick up their first record Wierdo Rippers. You will not be disappointed!

18) Matmos- Rainbow Flag and Mister Mouth
From: Supreme Balloon [Matador, 2008]

I remember first hearing Matmos's A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure playing on the overhead speakers at Music Millennium. I didn't really know what I was hearing at the time, but the resident electronic music guru informed me that Matmos took field recordings of sounds from hospital operating rooms and juxtaposed them with electronic beats and rhythms. Supreme Balloon retains the adventurous spirit of this record while moving forward with an innovative sound that can most aptly be described as electro-prog. One listen to the prog-funk groove of the opening track "Rainbow Flag" is all it will take to keep you coming back for more.

19) Holly Golightly Bottom Below and Indeed You Do
From: Dirt Don't Hurt [Transdreamer, 2008]

Holly Golightly's latest record cements her reputation as a spunky femme fatale who could drink her man and his cronies under the table while taking their money in a high-stakes game of Texas hold-em poker. What I mean by this is that she takes no prisoners. The smoky backwoods noir country sound of past records is present, but there is definitely more of a gritty rockabilly sound on here that is tastefully infused with country blues and jump blues. After a few introductory spins, this one was put into heavy rotation in my CD changer.

20) Times New Viking- Mean God
and End of All Things
From: Rip It Off [Matador, 2008]

This year there has been an undeniable resurgence of lo-fi bands recalling the heyday of the ever prolific Guided By Voices, Sebadoh and Beat Happening. Times New Viking are the progenitors of the current lo-fi movement along with Eat Skull, Sic Alps and No Age. At first listen the sound is very abrasive, but tucked nicely underneath the sheets of noise are tuneful, hummable melodies. Every time I hear someone say that this is just noise, I tell them to listen closer. So, listen closer, and then let me know what you think.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Hear a New World- Christmas Podcast

The eighth episode of I Hear a New World is finally ready to be downloaded at:

This is a special two-hour Christmas edition of I Hear a New World that I have been compiling over the past few weeks. It includes a wide range of styles including blues, folk, old-timey, jazz, easy listening, rock, rockabilly and many more. Artists include Lightnin' Hopkins, Arthur Lyman, 5, 6, 7, 8's, Red Red Meat, Cottontop Mountain Sanctified Singers and Loretta Lynn. I have to give a huge shout out to the various Christmas blogs because this Christmas podcast would not have been the same without the songs I downloaded from their blogs. Thanks goes out to A Christmas Yuleblog, Ernie Not Bert, Big Rock Candy Mountain, Christmas A Go Go, 77 Santas and Dartman's World of Wonder. I hope you guys enjoy this special edition of I Hear a New World. For those of you who would like a tracklist, please let me know in the comments.

Be on the lookout for my Best Albums of 2008 list and podcast before the new year.

Have a Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

White Christmas Cookin' Under a Blue Yule

To my utter amazement, the streets of Portland were completely covered with snow before I stumbled out of bed this morning. According to my calculations, it has snowed about three or four times every winter that I have lived here, so it caught me off guard.

My girlfriend Verity was born and raised in Oregon so it is an exciting thing for her whenever it snows in Portland. Since I am from the chilly midwest (Peoria, IL to be exact) I don't get nearly as excited as she does about the magical white powder that falls from the skies. Nevertheless, we ventured outside to experience a winter wonderland filled with youngsters snowboarding and sledding down the steep hills of our neighborhood park. I thought that I was well prepared for the treacherously cold weather, but I could have used a face mask to block the cold wind that was slapping me in my face. Apparently, temperatures are expected to remain cold throughout the week with a high likelihood of more snowfall by Wednesday. Damn, I just can't escape the cold weather.

But the timing of this weather couldn't have been more perfect. We were able to get our Christmas tree on Saturday afternoon before the really cold weather arrived. Later that day, we decorated the tree while listening to Pandora's holiday music station. We felt fortunate to score such a great deal on our tree, and we celebrated by cracking open a bottle of sparkling wine that really hit the spot. What a fantastic way to get into the Christmas spirit!

[Polygram, 1964]

Today, I am sharing a couple Christmas gems from the archives of Eclectic Grooves. These were first featured on here in Christmas of 2006.

First off, Christmas Cookin' is an amazing Christmas album from the hammond organist, Jimmy Smith. Christmas Cookin' is indeed an appropriate title for this barnburner of an album, as Jimmy's upbeat organ runs plug you into the joys of celebrating the Christmas season with your family and friends.

From the dynamic opening to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" the listener knows that they are in for an exciting ride filled with Jimmy's spirited hammond organ peppered with orchestral flourishes. Sometimes while listening to this record, I completely forget that it is a Christmas record, especially during the long organ solos during "Santa Claus in Coming to Town" and "The Christmas Song". This is not a bad thing at all, especially when you have grown weary of hearing Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" spin on your hi-fi for the kajillionth time. It is definitely a staple in my Christmas listening, and it should serve as a perfect companion for you while cooking Christmas dinner or enjoying a glass of eggnog in front of your fireplace. I checked on the internet and it appears that this record is out of print, so download it and enjoy listening to the "Magnificent Jimmy Smith" in all his glory.

[Rhino Records, 1991]

I first featured this stellar compilation of Christmas blues tunes on Eclectic Grooves in Christmas of 2006. While I was working at Music Millennium, this was one of the staffs' favorite records to spin during the holiday season. It was a sure-fire winner because it featured a diverse selection of jazz and blues artists playing original Christmas tunes. There is no "Jingle Bell Rock" or "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" to be found on here. Instead, you will find an eclectic mix of styles including down-and-dirty swamp blues, slow-burn blues, jump-blues, ballads and jazzy instrumentals. Highlights include "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" by the delta blues master Lightnin' Hopkin's, the classic R&B sound of "Santa Claus Baby" by the Voices and Sonny Boy Williamson's gritty swamp blues song "Santa Claus". It doesn't matter what you find under the Christmas tree when the music you are listening to is this good. I will be back soon with a Best of 2008 podcast, a Christmas podcast as well as more downloads to fill your Christmas stocking.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Hear a New World- Podcast #7

The seventh episode of I Hear a New World is available to be downloaded at:

This podcast was originally intended to be broadcast on Portland's local independent radio station- KBOO. Unfortunately, I was only able to play a couple songs that night, so I decided to post this mix on my podcast. It features an eclectic blend of artists including Joe Meek, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, The Monks, Reeks and the Wrecks and Del Jones. I hope you guys enjoy the first part of this two-part podcast.

Here is the tracklist:

I Hear a New World Podcast #7- KBOO Podcast

1. Joe Meek- I Hear a New World
2. Scuffle and Dustcough- Gimlet
3. Reeks and the Wrecks- Nutsack Cadillac
4. Group Inerane- Awal September
5. Idris Ackamoor- Mogho Naba
6. People- Urban Fable 1- The Accidental Ruin of a Romantic Populist
7. Natural Dreamers- Diamond Mines
8. The Monks- Monk Time
9. Del Jones- Cold Turkey
10. Chrissy Zebby Tembo- My Ancestors

Total Time: 59:34

It's Been a Long Time

It's been a long time since, well... since I've posted something new on here. During October I was pretty prolific with the posts, but I had a feeling that the frequency of posts would go down after I began two new jobs in the middle of November. Since I received a few negative comments on the last post, I have decided to put the kebash on anonymous posting. I thought long and hard before coming to this decision, but I ultimately felt that it was the best thing to do.

Once again it is that time of the year where I gather together a comprehensive list of my favorite albums for the year. This year's list promises to be one of the most eclectic lists since the inception of Eclectic Grooves. I haven't figured out the logistics yet, but I plan on featuring this list before Christmas this year.

Also, I have some re-ups including Jimmy Smith Christmas Cookin' and a stellar compilation of blues christmas tunes called Blue Yule, in addition to a few other new Christmas goodies. I hope to post things here more often over the next couple weeks, so I hope you guys keep checking back. Best wishes to all of you this Christmas season.

From: Singing Saw at Christmastime [Merge, 2008]

Here's a little something to get you in the Christmas mood this year. I was surfing the web when I accidentally stumbled upon the latest record by Julian Koster from Neutral Milk Hotel and Hawk and a Hacksaw entitled The Singing Saw at Christmastime. It is a non-traditional album of traditional Christmas songs performed entirely with the hypnotic sounds of the singing saw accompanied by minimal percussion. There is something calming and strangely beguiling about this album that I can't quite put my finger on. Think of this as a Christmas record for experimental enthusiasts who have always yearned to hear Clara Rockmore crank out an inspired set of traditional Christmas songs. While Clara Rockmore was famous for employing the unconventional sound of the theremin in her work, the sound of the theremin is strangely close to that of the singing saw. For those of you are who are already familiar with the sound of the singing saw, you will find plenty of things to enjoy about this album. As for the uninitiated listeners out there, I'm sure it won't take you very long to fall under the spell of this record. Just give it a chance!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Change Is Gonna Come

From: Ain't That Good News [RCA Victor, 1964]
From: Change Has Got to Come [Community Library, 2006]
From: The Times They Are A-Changin [Columbia, 1964]

Otis Redding- Change Is Gonna Come
From: Otis Blue [Stax, 1965]

I realize that it's been a while since you've heard from me, but I just started a new job in the last two weeks and have been pretty strapped for time. In addition, I start another job this Wednesday, so I will undoubtedly have less time to publish new posts. Please check the archives and let me know when links aren't active, as I will be checking periodically to make sure that things are running smoothly here.

It took two terms of George W. Bush's corrupt politics to get the American people to show up at the polls in unprecedented numbers this year. According to the news, more people voted in this election than any previous election. In a way, I'm not surprised at this fact, because the American people have grown tired of the old ideas and extremist attitudes of the Bush era.

This year I decided that I wanted to experience this election in the presence of a huge crowd, so I went to the Doug Fir Lounge for their election night celebration. After watching the election coverage on a huge projected screen for about thirty minutes, I went upstairs to join my girlfriend and the rest of our group of friends. At this point, Obama was ahead in electoral votes by 72 points, but I didn't feel like we could rest on our laurels. We were counting on California, Oregon and Washington to take us to the promised land, and there could be no celebrating until this was a reality.

We didn't have to wait long as the screen suddenly flashed "CNN Projection- President-Elect Obama" a couple minutes later. The energy of the crowd couldn't be contained as they erupted with applause and exchanged hugs and high-fives with anyone who was in the vicinity. I was surprised and elated all at once, and I couldn't believe what had transpired until McCain delivered his concession speech. Within twenty minutes, Obama was scheduled to appear before a capacity crowd who had assembled to hear him speak at Grant Park in Chicago. While he was speaking, I glanced over at other people in the crowd and recognized their smiling faces as our new president delivered one of the most eloquent speeches that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. I went home feeling the afterglow of a historic evening, one that marked the beginning of positive change for America and inevitably the rest of the world.

I hope you enjoy the tracks I've picked for today!

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Hear a New World- Podcast #6

The special Halloween episode of the I Hear a New World podcast is available to download at

This episode is dedicated completely to Halloween. I have been pouring through an endless amount of classic Halloween songs, movie themes, scary sound effects and music that doesn't have a Halloween theme but still manages to scare the bejesus out of me. I hope you enjoy this special episode of I Hear A New World.

Your comments are encouraged and appreciated!

For those of you who are interested in a tracklist, please let me know

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last Batch of Halloween Goodies

Today, I am posting a few more Halloween treats to tantalize your earbuds while you wait in anticipation for my Halloween podcast. I am working on it right now, so I hope to get the podcast up by the end of the day. Please remember to recommend my podcast to your friends by clicking on the "Send to Friends" link that can be found on the podcast homepage. I would like to make the podcasts more of an interactive thing where listeners can send me requests and suggestions through my podmail address at I will try to incorporate these suggestions within the show and give a shout out to the requesters and contributors.

Here is the last installment of the Halloween posts. I hope you enjoy them!
[D Records, 196?]

[Caedmon, 1973]

[Scar Stuff, 2001]

This compilation was handcrafted by the amazing Blogger Scar Stuff who operates one of the best Halloween blogs out there, but unfortunately most of the links aren't active. Here is an excerpt from his blog talking about the process behind compiling this Halloween mix.
the main difference here is that in addition to programming a bunch of, you know, bitchin' Halloween tunes, I was also trying to create a spooky "seamless whole". What this means is that in addition to the music (for better or worse), I also stitched together a non-stop stream of effects, sound bites and audio samples that run over/ under/ alongside the songs, to kinda create my twisted ideal of an evocative "Halloween vibe" (vinyl pops & crackles included). Whether or not I succeeded is debatable, but I certainly did throw a lot of crap into the blender (and since sometimes there are at least 8 audio tracks playing at once it's probably safe to say that my audio sensibilities are as cluttered as my visual ones). Prior to this post it had actually been a while since I'd last listened to these, but in checking them out again I think that despite the occasional clunker, I managed a few really cool segues here and there. There's also some, *koff koff*, truly horrible audio quality on a few of the samples (plenty of this was sourced from crummy old VHS tapes & worse), but that just contributes to the intended low-budget feel, right? Oh and there's a LOT of wind & rain. A LOT.

Be on the lookout for the Halloween podcast later today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins Is Trendy

I bet some of you were misled to think that this post was going to be about the early 90's grunge band "Smashing Pumpkins" based on the title. Sorry for leading you astray, but the act of smashing pumpkins on Halloween has been around much longer than the band. I plan on just posting the records today without any further critique, since the titles mostly speak for themselves.

Today, I have a grab bag of tasty goodies for your listening pleasure, so without further ado.

Major/Random Records, 1962

Major/Random Records, 1962

Kid Stuff Repertory, 1980

Cereal Flexi, 1979

Sounds EP, 1962

Hope these Halloween treats are getting you geared up for the season!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Nightmare and Horror

I don't have much time to write about these records, so the reviews won't be as in-depth as you are used to finding on Eclectic Grooves. However, I wanted to share these rarities of horror with you at least a couple days before Halloween.

Richard Taylor- Nightmare
From: Major/Random Records, 1962

This is a sinister recording of Edgar Allen Poe's creepy tales "The Tell Tale Heart" and "The Pit and the Pendulum" narrated by Richard Taylor. Behind Taylor's breathless narration lies a stunning backdrop of guitar that comes into the forefront at crucial moments within the tales. Be prepared to be scared out of your wits!

Richard Taylor- Horror
From: Major/Random Records, 1962

The musical backdrop on "The Black Cat Part 1 and 2" consists of eerie, funereal organs. With a slightly more restrained delivery than he employs on the Nightmare album, Taylor weaves a haunting tale about a mysterious black cat that will make the hair on your neck stand up.

These are the first two volumes of four where Taylor narrates classic Edgar Allen Poe stories. As you listen to these spooky sounds this Halloween, make sure that you have the lights off with only the glow of a jack-o-lantern to lead your way. You will thank me for this later! I plan on posting more Halloweeen goodies, so keep your eyes peeled for more ghoulish gems.

Your comments are always appreciated!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Goodies Are Coming Soon

Thanks to those of you who left comments on the Eclectic Grooves 2nd year anniversary! Most of you have probably noticed that I have been a lot more active on here lately. I realize that I have been neglecting the blog, but I am back in full force again with a lot of great ideas for future posts. Recently, I have noticed a spike in the popularity of the Chubby Checker- New Revelation/Chequered post from Jan 2008. So, I made sure that the link is still active for this post, and the last two year's Halloween posts. I have a Halloween podcast coming up next week sometime, and a couple Halloween rarities that will hopefully add something to your ghoulish gatherings this year.

In other news, Capillary Action are playing tonight at the Someday Lounge in Portland, OR at 9:00 PM. I believe that the cover is only $5, so there aren't many excuses not to go. For those of you who say, "Who the hell is Capillary Action, Kev" I say to you, "Please check this link for a review of their latest album, and to listen to a couple tracks". My clift-notes review for the readers with short attention spans is just below:

Capillary Action take the listener on a wildly imaginative ride through the depths of the human psyche by fusing elements of tropicalia, thrash, fusion, free-jazz, and math-rock into a cohesive listening experience.

I hope at least one person comes to the show because they heard it here on Eclectic Grooves. Oh, and if you like what I do here, please add me to your links or tell your friends about the blog, as well as the I Hear a New World podcast. I am happy to take requests on things that you would like to see played on the podcast. Please send your comments, requests and mp3's to I look forward to hearing from more of you on this, as I am trying to make this more of an interactive experience. Until next time...

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Hear a New World- Podcast #5

The fifth episode of I Hear a New World is available to be downloaded at:

Due to the space limitations on Podomatic, I will have no other choice but to delete the oldest podcast each week to make room for the new episodes. Today I removed the Sonic Youth episode, but it will be available to download from Eclectic Grooves in the near future.

This week's episode showcases the psychedelic soul sound of the 70's that was heavily influenced by Sly and the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix. Aside from Parliament and James Brown, the artists featured on this episode are veritable unknowns in the music world. Some of the tracks were taken from albums that are no longer in print, and the rest are only available at an expensive import price. It took me most of the week to compile the songs and do further research on the artists for this week's episode. I hope you enjoy the show!

I Hear a New World-Podcast #5- Psychedelic Soul Nuggets

Skit- :46 (Taken from the Chains and Black Exhaust compilation)
Black Rock- Yeah Yeah- 2:55 ( Taken from the Chains and Black Exhaust compilation)
Grodeck Whipperjenny- Sitting Here On a Tongue- 2:53
James Brown- Just Enough Room For Storage- 5:56
Parliament-Funky Woman- 2:59
Freddie Terrell and the Soul Expedition- Soul Know How to Make Music- 2:53
Leon's Creation- Back Roads
Black Merda- Foxy Lady (instrumental)
Purple Image- Living In the Ghetto- 6:37
Gran Am- Get High- 4:48 (Taken from Chains and Black Exhaust compilation)
Harlem Underground- Smokin' Cheeba Cheeba- 7:37
Jr. and the Soulettes- Sweet Little One- 2:17
Curly Davis and the Uniques- Black Cobra Part 2- 3:41 (Taken from Chains and Black Exhaust compilation)
Del Jones- Afro Funkisms- 3:17
JD & the Evil's Dynamite Band- Heavy, Heavy, Heavy- 4:19

Your comments are encouraged and appreciated!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Eclectic Grooves 2nd Anniversary

Yes, it's really hard for me to believe, but today marks the second anniversary of the beginning of Eclectic Grooves. As I turn the page, I start reflecting on the past year and what it meant to me. I feel that this was a tough year in many respects, but it was also a time where I learned to grow spiritually and emotionally. While I haven't posted as often as I would have liked, I hope that some of you have heard some music on here that resonates with you. My sole purpose here is to write reviews about the music and artists that I am passionate about, and post rare music that accompanies these reviews.

At this time, I would like to thank the various folks that make this a worthwhile venture for me. First, to all of those people who have stopped by Eclectic Grooves since its inception, I sincerely thank you for your continued support. Secondly, I sincerely thank all of the bloggers who have posted a link to Eclectic Grooves on their blog. You make it easier for everyone to find my blog and hopefully discover some new music. Third, to all of the people who have subscribed to the blog's feed and podcast, I really appreciate your dedication and willingness to keep coming back despite sporadic posting. Without you guys, I would be less motivated to keep doing this. So give yourselves a hand for being a part of the Eclectic Grooves community. This is almost starting to sound like a Lifetime Achievement award speech on the Academy Awards, so I'll stop here before it gets too monotonous. Today's post goes out to all of you, so I hope you enjoy it!

Charles Gayle- Ancient of Days

After seriously scouring the net, I haven't been able to find much from Charles Gayle's discography. In fact, the majority of his releases are only available as expensive imports, or they are out of print. Gayle was known to be a homeless street busker for over 20 years, sometimes going by the persona of "Shakes the Clown". His primary instrument is tenor saxophone, but he has proven to be just as adept at playing the piano and bass clarinet. Around 1988, he recorded his first album entitled Always Born on the Swedish label, Silkheart Records. In addition to Silkheart Records, Gayle has recorded for other experimental jazz labels like Knitting Factory Records, FMP, and Clean Feed. As a leader, he has released a mind-boggling twenty-three records and he has also played and recorded with The Blue Humans, Sunny Murray Duo, Sirone Bang Ensemble and Cecil Taylor.

Ancient of Days is essentially a free jazz album with more of a calm, restrained sound. With that being said, there are definitely spots that are anything but soothing. Since the record clocks in at over 70 minutes, it is probably better suited for breaking up into multiple listening sessions. Gayle is supported on this record by a stellar band including Juini Booth on bass, Michael Wimberly on drums and Hank Johnson on Piano. I was fortunate enough to catch Gayle's last performance in Portland when he played the Disjecta, and the spiritual, transcendent vibe of that performance is encapsulated within the grooves of this record.

"Betrayal" starts the album off with a standard 12-bar blues rhythm that compliments Gayle's slightly unhinged tenor saxophone playing. After Gayle masterfully solos for close to seven minutes, Hank Johnson chimes in with a colorful piano solo that briefly alters the mood of the piece. At about the nine-minute mark, Booth's rubbery bass solo temporarily slows down the tempo until Wimberly jumpstarts it within the last minute of the song. On "Risen Eternal," the tone of Gayle's sax is more reminiscent of Albert Ayler, with sharp bursts of shrieking and skronking sax setting the tone for the rest of the track. Other highlights include Booth's dynamic bass solo in the middle of "New Earth" that leads into an explosive drum solo recalling Elvin Jones at the height of Coltrane's experimental period and Gayle's highly inventive, incendiary saxophone soloing on the closer, "Glorified Love".

I hope you guys enjoy listening to this record. Your comments are always encouraged and appreciated!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Neutral Milk Hotel- Engine- Pittsburgh-10-18-08

I was just surfing the web when I came across this amazing video of Jeff Mangum from Neutral Milk Hotel performing "Engine," the B-side to "Holland 1945". I got the video and photo from the Pitchfork site just to give credit where credit is due. "Engine" is not only one of my all-time favorite songs by Neutral Milk Hotel, but I believe it is one of the best songs I've ever heard. Neutral Milk Hotel released two albums and an ep before they moved on and left a legion of fans breathlessly awaiting a new album or reunion tour. Legend has it that Mangum decided to run off with the circus to live out his reclusive existence, but there have been several sightings throughout the past decade of him making cameo appearances at Elephant Six Collective reunion shows, as well as a short stint as a radio DJ. Their music is something special that can only be described as magical and otherworldly. This band and especially this song never fails to bring tears to my eyes and make me believe in the beauty of music.

Magum's minimal acoustic plucking is only accompanied by Julian Koster's haunting singing saw. One of the most amazing things about the video is that it appears to be filmed completely in darkness, only showing quick glimpses of Mangum as the flash bulbs light up the auditorium floor where Jeff is playing. He is performing right in the middle of the audience for what looks to be his most intimate performance in years. For those of you who are just learning of NMH, please go visit the links below for further info. As for the rest of you, smile, take a breath and be grateful for the slight hope of a Neutral Milk Hotel reunion.

Neutral Milk Hotel - Engine - 10/18/2008 Brillobox, Pittsburgh PA from Engine on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Things On the Horizon

Since I started doing this blog, I have been searching for a way to host mp3's on my site as well as a way to allow users to to stream the music directly from my site. This functionality is now available by using the Yahoo Media Player along with a file hosting service called Boxstr. Most of the recent posts with individual mp3's can now be streamed right here on the blog and they can be downloaded by right-clicking on the track and selecting "save as". I hope that you guys enjoy this new feature.

Three things that are on the horizon are the second anniversary of Eclectic Grooves on October 23rd, a new Rediscoveries of Lost Gems post and a new post featuring Halloween music. At this point, I don't know exactly what I want to do for my Second Anniversary Post, but it will definitely be something special. The next entry under the Rediscoveries of Lost Gems series will undoubtedly be exciting for free jazz aficionados. I have noticed a spike in the popularity of my Halloween posts, so I have checked the previous year's Halloween posts and the links are still active. So make sure to check the archives for those Halloween treats. I will probably post a couple new Halloween-themed posts this year, so be on the lookout for those too.

Also, there will be a new podcast surfacing sometime in the next couple days.

In the meantime, here are some tunes that have been slaying me lately:

Max Roach- Another Valley- Spiritual jazz that features Roach firing on all cylinders behind a stunning orchestral choir. It is very similar in scope to Andrew Hill's Lift Every Voice.

Deerhoof- Numina O- I can't get the spiraling, intertwining guitars from "Numina O" out of my head and the schizophrenic song structure of "Eaguru Guru" provides a mind-bending backdrop for Satomi's sugar-laced-with-arsenic melodies I dare you to sit still while listening to this record!

Juana Molina- Un Dia- Juana's hypnotic, repetitive phrasing on the title track combines with undulating rhythms that build into an absolutely mesmerizing wall of sound that is reminscent of Laurie Anderson's "O Superman".

Debris- Witness- This album is a furious mixture of punk, jazz, experimental and classic rock that is beyond classification. "Witness" reminds me of the unbridled enthusiasm of The Stooges mixed with the off-kilter song structures of the Swell Maps.

Extra Golden- Ok-Oyot System- I have been hearing about these guys for a long time, so I finally had to see what all the hype was about. It is similar to a lot of other African high-life music, but with more attention given to the complex guitar sound. The title track features an infectious groove and melody that hold your attention until the intense climax of fuzz-guitars send you on your way to a blissful state of mind.

What do you think of this eclectic batch of tunes? I'm interested in what you guys think , so please sound off in the comments.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Hear a New World- Podcast #4

I just wanted to let you all know that the fourth episode of I Hear a New World is available for download at:

This episode focuses on bands from the Portland area who didn't play Musicfest this year and who didn't work at Music Millennium. It features a wide variety of styles including klezmer, free jazz, noise, psychedelic rock, folk and electronic. I am interested to hear what you guys think of the podcasts so far. Do you like the format of the shows? Do you think they are eclectic enough? Are there any bands that you would like to see featured on the podcasts? Please don't be afraid to comment. All comments and suggestions are welcome as long as they aren't malicious.

Here is the tracklist for this week's podcast:

Podcast #4-I Hear a New World- Movers and Shakers

Talkdemonic- Indian Angel- 2:52
Au- rr vs. d- 3:48
March Fourth Marching Band- Space Hole- 5:34
Adrian Orange & Her Band- Then We Play- 6:17
Hammer of Hathor- For a Cat Who Ran Away- 5:45
Evolutionary Jass Band- Philly's Frindge- 5:19
Reeks and the Wrecks- Blue Ballroom- 3:08
3 Leg Torso- Moroccan Jig- 6:15
Shicky Gnarowitz- Lebedik un Freylekh- 4:16
Ilyas Ahmed- Under the Singing Sea- 3:08
Tu Fawning- Diamond in the Forest- 4:57
Valet- Kehaar- 5:51
Grouper- Fishing Bird- 3:52
Laura Gibson- Nightwatch- 4:39

Friday, October 10, 2008

Capillary Action- So Embarrassing

Capillary Action- So Embarrassing

A couple months ago, I received an e-mail from the lead singer of Seattle's Capillary Action requesting that I post a review of his band's latest record So Embarrassing. Since my inbox was already flooded with requests from various musicians and marketing interns urging me to plug the next best thing, my intial reaction was to decline. But I had a strong feeling that this was something special that I couldn't dismiss without at least giving it a listen. I replied to Jonathan's e-mail by requesting a CD of the band's music along with a lyric sheet for further examination. A few weeks had passed before the package arrived in my mailbox, but the music that was concealed in this package was well worth the wait. Good things come to those who wait, and I hope that Jonathan feels the same about this review.

As I listened to So Embarrassing, I couldn't help feeling that I was on a rapidly descending elevator ride through hell, stopping on every musical floor on the way down. Jonathan Pfeffer's emotive vocals quickly change to discontented screams, often sounding like a schizophrenic child with attention deficit disorder who was fed a steady diet of thrash metal and easy listening. I could literally get carpal tunnel from writing out all the superlatives that come to mind while listening to this mind-bender of an album, so I'll save that for another scribe.

I have always admired music that pushes the envelope creatively and stylistically such as Captain Beefheart's masterpiece of abstract blues, Trout Mask Replica, and Mr. Bungle's captivating exercise in genre-defying experimental rock, Disco Volante. Capillary Action have captured the creative energy of those records and condensed them into a thirty-minute thrill-ride through the darkest recesses of the human psyche. So Embarrassing is similar to these records in that it continues to confound the listener's expectations after repeated listens. Throughout most of the record, there are more twists and turns than a high-speed car chase in an action movie. At times I felt an urgency to jump around like a monkey on crack as the off-kilter start-stop rhythms propelled my body forward. Other writers have compared them to Dirty Projectors and the Battles, but this comparison only scratches the surface of their sonic complexity. For my money, I would bet that the band was listening to the complete Mike Patton and Mr Bungle discography for creative inspiration while recording the album.

From the opening bars of the first track "Gambit," I could tell that I was in for a musical feast for the ears. Complex, ping-ponging guitars generate start-stop rhythms as the track unfolds into a myriad of musical mood-swings. As the vocals alternate from a melodic croon to intense barking, you realize that the singer is expressing his disdain for an ex-girlfriend. With vocals like "I give and I give and I get nothing back," and "I won't ever let you back in, but you'll always bring me back to start," he is clearly dealing with a broken heart. Towards the end, a sweeping string section brings the song to a close.

Before you can catch your breath, the opening notes of "Pocket Protection is Essential" are assaulting your eardrums with a fervency normally reserved for death metal bands like Slayer or Pantera. At approximately the minute-and-a-half mark, a jazzy bassline and organ riff ushers the track into the realm of fusion. The next track, "Elevator Fuck," comes storming out of the speakers with a bouncy guitar riff juxtaposed with orchestral strings. Lyrics such as "Sometimes I think I put too much thought into something so short-lived" help illustrate the protagonist's precarious situation on the elevator. Other highlights on the record include the slow, simmering intensity of "Badlands," the cinematic south-of-the-border flamenco guitar on "Paperweights," the jazz meets math rock intro on the brief "Sexy Koala," and the falling-to-pieces, chameleonic song structure of "Self Released" that ends with the most dynamic rush of strings that I have heard in recent times.

I recommend that you don't operate heavy machinery or drive a car while under the influence of this record, as it's intoxicating sounds might distract you from reality. After listening to the album in it's entirety, you will find yourself reaching for the repeat button on your cd player to experience it all over again.

I almost forgot to mention that Capillary Action will be playing a show in Portland at the Someday Lounge on October 26th. If you don't live near Portland, make sure to check them out when they come to a town near you.

Also, don't forget to check out their myspace page to purchase their records.

Capillary Action: Gambit and Pocket Protection is Essential
From: So Embarrassing [Pangaea Recordings, 2008]

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Hear a New World- Podcast #3

Hi everybody! I am happy to announce that the third episode of I Hear a New World is available for download at:

Just click on the link above and hit play on the latest episode, or download it to your hard drive to listen to it at a later time. Please make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you know when a new episode has been posted. You can subscribe by clicking on "RSS Feed" or "Archive Feed" under the section "Subscribe to This Podcast".

For some reason, the embedded podcast is cut off, so you are only able to listen to the last two podcasts on Eclectic Grooves. Basically, the embedded podcast widget from Podomatic does not show the entire widget. The arrow button functionality is missing which prevents you from selecting the podcast you want to listen to beyond the last two episodes. If any of you know anything about HTML, embedded widgets and the limitations of certain templates, maybe you could shed some light on these topics in the comments.

This week's episode showcases the talented musicians who have worked at Music Millennium during the past seven years. I have witnessed their talent emerge over the years, while being there to support them in the early stages of their career. Many of them have made strides in the past couple years that seemed implausible at the time, but perseverance and dedication to their craft helped make their dreams a reality. While none of them are popular by today's standards, that is not the point. They have stood behind what they believed in and never once ran away from their dreams. This episode is dedicated to those musicians who have touched my heart and soul in a profound way.

I Hear a New World- Podcast #3- Music Millennium Showcase

Baptist Arms- Baltimore (Live)- 4:16
John Murphy- Burn It Down- 2:41
Kentucky Snakehandlers- Tarnished and Tainted- 4:05
Cicada Omega- The Boogie- 4:08
Bill Rhoades and the Party Kings- Don't You Lie to Me- 4:34
Scuffle and Dustcough- Jakarta Jazz- 4:10
Vanishing Kids- Rest the Glove- 3:44
LKN- Sarah, I Adore You- 10:39
Super Unity- The Day Kelvin Cried- 4:33
Eternal Tapestry- Mystic Induction- 4:03

Your feedback is encouraged and appreciated!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Hear a New World- Podcast #2

Hi everyone! I just wanted to make a short post about my latest podcast that is available to download from Podomatic. This week's episode is meant to be listened to as a companion to my last three posts on Musicfest NW, as it features music interspersed with commentary about the bands I checked out. You can listen to it online by clicking on the play button next to the podcast on the top right of the page. You can also download the podcast by going to this page:

After you have listened to it, please let me know what you think. If you dig what you are hearing, please tell your friends to visit my page and download the podcast. Your feedback about the show and any suggestions you have will be considered in future podcasts. I am also taking suggestions for themes to explore as well as song requests. I am really having a great time compiling the songs and researching the stories behind the songs. One of my lifetime aspirations has been to work as a radio disc jockey, so this is the next best thing to that. The podcast could become a weekly thing, but I might not be able to keep up with that pace. I hope you enjoy it!

Here is the tracklist for this week's podcast:

Podcast #2-I Hear a New World- Musicfest NW 2008

No Age- Teen Creeps- 3:26
Unwound- Accidents on Purpose- 1:56
M. Ward- Let's Dance- 5:00
Deltron 3030- Virus- 4:28
Deerhunter- Flourescent Grey- 5:03
Steel Pole Bath Tub- 500 Club- 5:00
Eat Skull- Waiting for the Hesitation- 3:05
Alela Diane- Tatted Lace- 4:11
Rupa and the April Fishes- Poder- 3:38
The Strange Boys- Thinking of a Name- 2:15
The Joggers- Same to You- 4:38
Trans Am- Idea Machine- 1:55
Polvo- Thermal Treasure- 4:34
Flipper- Life Is Cheap- 3:55

Monday, September 22, 2008

Musicfest NW 2008 Recap- Saturday

September 6, 2008- Saturday

The Strange Boys- Satyricon- 8:00 p.m.

I hadn't heard of The Strange Boys before listening to their songs on Myspace a couple days before Musicfest 2008. I was so impressed with their brand of lo-fi garage tunes that I decided to check them out at the Satyricon on Saturday evening. It seemed to be the best bet for catching the band in all its retro-garage glory. I arrived about ten minutes before they were set to come on, and I think they started the show a little early to appease the eager crowd. My initial reaction was: "Damn, these kids weren't even thought of when I was born". But damn if they couldn't emulate the classic 60's garage rock like it's nobody's business.

Their stage show wasn't very exciting and they didn't have much of a stage presence, but the music packed a powerful punch and got the crowd moving. It featured mainly short bursts of adrenaline-fueled garage rock mixed with slow tunes that showcased the lead singer's bratty vocals. I would definitely check these guys out the next time they come to Portland.

Crystal Antlers- Satyricon- 9:00 p.m.

I decided to try to get in to the Blitzen Trapper show at the Crystal Ballroom, but there was no chance of that with the recent hype of the Fleet Foxes. Since the line was wrapped completely around the corner of the Crystal, I decided to head back to the Satyricon to catch Crystal Antlers. They are another band that has been receiving a lot of hype through the internet media such as Pitchfork and Prefix. The songs I previewed on their Myspace were not amazing, but I decided that they were at least worth checking out. Besides, they are on Touch and Go, the same label that was responsible for releasing great records by Shellac, Jesus Lizard and Don Caballero.

Crystal Antlers stage performance was impressive, but the sound at the Satyricon drowned out the vocals most of the time. Lead singer, Johnny Bell's histrionic screams aim right for the jugular, while the rest of the band has obviously been studying up on Comets on Fire's back catalog. Overall, the band's set was an uninspired mishmash of psychedelic and classic rock styles that never seemed to go anywhere. It was not only influenced by Comets on Fire, it was a direct rip-off of their amps-pushed-to-the-max, psychedelic noise rock. Needless to say, I was less than impressed with these guys. Now, it's on to Berbati's to check out The Joggers.

The Joggers- Berbati's Pan- 10:00 p.m.

I was really into the first The Jogger's record Solid Guild when it came out on Startime International in 2003. At the time I was working at Music Millennium and one of the people who worked there was friends with them and she told me to check out their record. I gave it some spins over the store speakers and it sounded like angular indie rock with chiming guitars and majestic four-part harmonies.

I was sold on the band, but I never got into their next record With a Cape and A Cane. It seemed like it was trying to be more aggressive, but it lacked the vocal harmonies that made the first record such a rich listening experience. Nevertheless, I was still interested in checking them out live, and this was my first opportunity. The band took the stage and broke into an energetic set filled with spirited sing-alongs and uptempo-raveups that inspired the crowd to jump up and down.

They played a few that I recognized from Solid Guild, but the set leaned mostly towards material from With a Cape and a Cane. Overall, I felt that they put on a exciting live show, but the sound left a little bit to be desired. It was overloaded and the vocals were washed out, which is an integral part to the sound of The Joggers. Aside from that, I just wish they had played more songs from the first record, especially "Same to You" and "Back to the Future". I will definitely keep my eye out for them when they play somewhere other than Berbati's. Can you tell that I hate this venue with a passion?

Trans Am- Berbati's- 11:00 p.m.

I ended up sticking it out at Berbati's, since the place was filling up fast and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see Polvo. I have a couple of Trans Am albums, but I haven't really listened to them that often. I recall liking their 2004 record Liberation, but aside from being slightly familiar with that one, I was kind of a novice when it came to Trans Am. They clearly had a strong following as the floor of Berbati's filled up in anticipation for their show.

From the opening chords, I could tell that they were a group of talented musicians who dabbled in everything from metal to synth-pop; electronic to dance. Some of the songs stretched out over ten minutes and others were quick bursts of fury. One of the songs was called "Eating", and ironically enough the synth player/vocalist ate an entire tenderloin on stage while playing the song. I was waiting for him to regurgitate the food right after he digested it. It was truly a sight to behold. Overall, even though I wasn't entirely into their schtick, they sounded great and knew how to work a crowd.

Polvo- Berbati's- 12:00 a.m.

My feet were a little worse for the wear, since I had been standing on a hard concrete floor for the past two hours. Polvo couldn't come on any sooner, as I was eager to play air guitar to their complex math-rock masterpieces from Today's Active Lifestyles and Exploded Drawing. I couldn't wait to hear songs like "Thermal Treasure", "Lazy Comet" and "Fast Canoe" finally come to life in a live setting.

Once they took the stage, I was so excited that I could hardly stand it. The adrenaline was pumping and my heart was beating so hard that I can barely recall what songs they played. One of the highlights for me was when they launched into a spirited cover of Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio". From this point on, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. I remember people shouting out things for them to play, and this dude told them "Play whatever you want to play". Ash said thanks and shyly smiled, showing his appreciation to the guy for his comment.

I'm pretty sure they played "Thermal Treasure", "My Kimono", "Sure Shot", "Stinger" and "Tilebreaker from Today's Active Lifestyles as well as "Fast Canoe" and assorted others from Exploded Drawing and Eclipse. I would give anything for a recording of this show and a set list of what was played. At this point, I was so tired and fulfilled that I thought about heading home. But I wanted to check out the end of Flipper's set, so I hit my next destination right around the corner.

Flipper- Ash Street Saloon- 1:00 a.m

By the time I reached the Ash Street, it was about 1:35, so I was able to catch the last half-hour of their set. I was bound and determined to see Flipper, considering that Nirvana's very own bassist, Chris Novoselic was now a member of the touring band. Ever since I read this amazing book on unheard music called The Secret History Of Rock by Roni Sarig, Flipper's music has been a curiosity that I wanted to unlock. When I first heard Generic Flipper in 1998, I wasn't too sure what to make of it. It was championed by artists that I respected like Lou Barlow of Sebadoh and Novoselic himself who said "I listened to Generic Flipper and it was a revelation. It was art." Coming from someone like Novoselic, I didn't take this comment lightly. It turned out that it just wasn't the right time for me to appreciate the sound of Flipper yet.

When I got there, the front man for Flipper was shirtless and sweating so profusely that he requested a new towel to wipe the sweat from his body. Novoselic was standing stoically, barely moving his body at all, while lead singer, Bruce Lose, flailed about like a mental patient receiving shock treatment. I was completely enthralled with the stage show, as the wall-of-sound sludge vibrated through my body. I stayed for the entire show, despite being incredibly tired, because this was a performance for the ages. Flipper are alive and well in 2008, so make sure you check them out when they come to your town.

Sorry it took me so long to get these reviews up, but I hope you guys can still get something useful out of them. The only show that I have on my radar at this point is Deerhoof's October 6th show at the Wonder Ballroom. Besides that, be on the lookout for a new podcast featuring the music that I saw at Musicfest NW 2008. I should have that up here soon as it would be a good companion to this concert journal. Think of it as a play-by play of my sojourns throughout the weekend.

Let me know what you guys thought of the shows if you went to Musicfest. If you didn't get a chance to go to Musicfest, what do you think of the bands that I have profiled in this series?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Musicfest NW 2008 Recap-Friday

Before I recount the details of Musicfest from Friday evening, I wanted to let you know that I finally created a podcast on Thanks to those of you who have already subscribed to it, and for those of you who haven't- What are you waiting for? I have it featured just below the "About Me" section on my blog. You can listen online by clicking the play button or click on "Visit this podcast" and it will take you to a page where you can subscribe to the podcast. This is a convenient way to keep up on when the podcast has been updated.

It is my first official foray in podcasting- a mix featuring my commentary and insights about the artists featured on the program. Here is a description of the first episode taken from my podcast page which can be found here. Please support my cause by subscribing to the podcast and offering constructive feedback about the show. If you have any questions, please let me know.

This episode was directly inspired by the Sonic Youth biography Goodbye 20th Century. It contains music from bands that Sonic Youth was influenced by, friends of the band and bands that were undoubtedly influenced by Sonic Youth. Then, I close the set out with several songs that seem to fit the eclectic format of the show. Besides Sonic Youth, this episode features Nick Cave, Captain Beefheart, P.I.L., John Coltrane, etc. For those of you searching for something a little left of the dial, this show will be right up your alley.

September 5, 2008- Friday

Built to Spill-Wonder Ballroom- 6:00- 8:00

My plans changed since I was recovering from a late night out on Thursday. So, instead of getting to the Wonder Ballroom early to catch Britt Daniel, I got there around 6:00 to see Built to Spill's "Perfect From Now On" performance. I just didn't have the energy to start my day off at 3:00, because I needed to reserve my energy for the jam-packed night of shows I had planned. My plan was ill fated at best since there was no parking by the time I got to the Wonder Ballroom. I searched around for about 15 minutes until I found a spot about 8 blocks away from the venue. I gathered my water, slammed the door to the car and dashed off to the show with a quickness. But, as I got my place in line, the concert organizer told me that the show was at capacity and they weren't letting anyone else in. My hopes were dashed and I felt like the air was let out of my tires. Finally, I reasoned that I had seen BTS several times before, and that it just wasn't in the cards this time. Also, I took my chances in getting there late, despite my own advice urging people to arrive at the venues well in advance of the starting time. Oh well, I guess you live and learn. By the way, this photo came from the OPB Music site.

Now, I found myself with a wealth of time to waste and nowhere to go except Rontoms. They were the only venue featuring bands at this time, so I headed over to 6th and East Burnside for the Bladen County Records showcase. I saw the tail end of The Skinnyz' set and the whole sets from Invisible Rockets and Little Pieces. While there was little to rave about amongst these three bands, I did learn that Little Pieces was the latest project from ex-Sunset Valley front man Herman Jolly. Sunset Valley was an indie rock/power-pop outfit from Portland that released a couple records and then quickly vanished from the scene. Another notable thing worth mentioning is that I think Britt Daniel, the front man for Spoon, was standing right in front of me during this performance. Apparently Britt had heard enough of Built to Spill's performance at the Wonder Ballroom to garner leaving the show to check out Little Pieces. It wasn't too exciting to my ears, but to each his own.

Rapids & TK Webb & The Visions- 8:00- 8:45

By the time I got across the Burnside Bridge, I started searching for a parking place that was somewhere between the venues I planned on checking out. It turned out that the closest place I could find was on Park and Glisan, so I parked and headed towards Dantes to check out Rapids. This was one of the bands that I decided to check out based on the description in the Willamette's Musicfest NW Guide. They likened the band to the tuneful, heavy rock sound of Husker Du and the stop-on the-dime dynamic noise of avant popsters Deerhoof. With these two bands being favorites of mine, I thought I would give Rapids a listen. No offense, but the Willamette's description couldn't have been more misleading. I heard nothing that even closely resembled the sound of Deerhoof and the Husker Du description was only accurate if you are going by the level of volume at the show. I gave them two songs, and then decided to take my chances with TK Webb & the Visions at Ash Street Saloon. Willamette said that TK Webb sounded like "White Stripes with John Bonham sitting in for Meg". Because of this description, I was prepared to see a better version of the White Stripes, but what I got was a muddled mess of sound that sounded like your standard bar-band rock.

Eat Skull- Satyricon- 9:00

So far, this has been a very uneventful night of music, but I have been excited to see Portland's Eat Skull ever since I laid ears on their debut record Sick to Death on Siltbreeze. Eat Skull features not only two former members of the noise band The Hospitals, but the manager of Exiled Records, Scott Simmons, on bass. When I first heard this noise-damaged assault on the ears, I thought to myself, this is what Guided By Voices would have sounded like if they listened to more garage rock than classic rock.

Since most of the band's songs are under two minutes, they could essentially play their entire album and still be well under the slotted time given to acts at MFNW. What transpired was one of the grittiest, compact sets of lo-fi garage psychedelia that I have ever witnessed. I believe they played close to ten songs in an intoxicating, sweat-drenched twenty minute set. An unbelievable feat in today's climate of bands focusing on extended improvisational freakouts such as Yellow Swans, Cexfucx and Comets on Fire.

There was some idiot who bought an order of fries and then proceeded to throw them at the band. He was no doubt used to seeing bands that are much more professional sounding, but why the hell would you come to Satyricon if you were looking for that type of show. The lead singer was obviously pissed about the kid's antics, so he proceeded to throw the fries back at the kid shouting "F--k you fry guy, Why don't you go back to high school". The rest of the band played on as he fervently tossed fries out into the crowd. Hey, this is what rock music is all about, right?

I heard a rumor that even MTV was taking notice of Eat Skull. Maybe we'll see a live video of the band hurling french fries into an unsuspecting crowd in between re-runs of the Real World Season 23. One thing I know is that I will definitely keep my eye out for their next live show after their current tour wraps up. If you like noise-strangled lo-fi garage rock, then you should do the same.

Trio Subtonic- Jimmy Mak's- 10:00

After hearing the songs on Trio Subtonic's Myspace page, I was mildly interested in seeing them play live. Since the Eat Skull show was over in twenty minutes, I ended up waiting quite awhile for the three-piece jazz-funk trio to take the stage. While I waited, I ordered a Heineken and chilled out in the back of the bar. I knew the Cubs were playing the Reds, but since they weren't playing very well at the time, I was nervous about checking the score. As my evening was not going as planned, I felt susceptible to falling into a dark hole, and after I read the score across the screen- Cincinatti-10 Cubs-2, I really felt depressed.

Since DJ Santo went over the time slotted for his set, Trio Subtonic came on about fifteen minutes later than the scheduled time. At this point, my patience was running out. As the band took the stage they started to play a type of generic jazz-funk that didn't do anything for me except induce sleepiness. I endured their set for three songs, as I waited for something magical to happen, but to no avail. I decided to go for the surefire crowd-pleaser Alela Diane, since I had seen Old Time Relijun several times before and was looking for something to lift my spirits.

Alela Diane- Berbati's- 11:00

I wasn't completely sure that seeing Alela Diane at Berbati's was the right choice, but what did I have to lose. I had seen Alela a couple years back at the first Helleluwah Festival, and was instantly taken by her amazing voice and stage presence. She was a resident of Portland for most of 2006, but she left the environs of Portland for Nevada City in the middle of 2007. Since she hadn't played in Portland for awhile, this was a can't-miss show.

Unfortunately, the crowds at Berbati's are known for their incessant yammering during shows, which is especially annoying when the musician on stage is of the acoustic variety. I found that Alela maintained her composure and kept her cool, despite the distracting buzz emanating from the crowd during her set. It was clear to me, however, that a good percentage of the crowd was leaning on her every word. It doesn't hurt that she has a set of pipes that could raise the spirits of the darkest soul.

At one point in the show, she played this song called "Tatted Lace", which is the type of song that sends chills up my spine and brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. I'm not kidding you! There was a part at the end of the song where she reached back into the depths of her soul and delivered a heartfelt yodel that would make even the most emotionally guarded person well up in tears. Seeing Alela Diane was one of the highlights of this year's Musicfest for me, and I will be keeping my eye out for her next performance in Portland. Since I didn't have access to a camera, I borrowed this image from the great folks over at OPB Music.

Rupa & the April Fishes- Jimmy Mak's- 12:00

I would have loved to see Alela play a longer set, primarily because when I reached Jimmy Mak's at 11:45, the previous band was still playing their set. They were a dance-party funk band made up of freshly-scrubbed college students from Seattle called Velella Velella. After coming from such a mellow show, I wasn't prepared to be assaulted by the deep pulsations of their generic disco-tinged funk. I just kept wondering when is their set going to be over. I seemed to be in the minority though, because almost everyone was dancing to the music.

I didn't look at the clock, but it was probably about 12:20 when San Francisco's Rupa & the April Fishes took the stage. Willamette Week described them as the real thing when it comes to Gypsy music, but I think the real thing is more like Taraf De'Haiduks or Fanfare Ciocarlia. Call me a purist, but a six-piece band with one member raised partially in India, doesn't qualify as the "real thing".

This was the perfect way to wrap up my Friday evening at Musicfest. I wasn't completely sure that this was going to be up my alley from the first song, but the next song's undulating rhythms and handclaps transported me to a remote village in Eastern Europe. Throughout their set, the lead singer, Rupa, explained the origin of the songs to the audience so that we were more in tune to the emotions behind the songs. There is no denying the power and the beauty of this music. It reminds me of Lhasa mixed with the rapid-fire marching band rhythms of Fanfare Ciocarlia. If you have listened to bands like Beirut, Gogol Bordello and Devotchka, and you want something with a little more authenticity, then this is your best bet. This concludes my adventures from Musicfest on Friday night. Please stay tuned for the final episode in this series.