Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Albums of 2010

I know that I promised to have this list up in the middle of December, and I had every intention on following through with this goal. Unfortunately, this was not to be, as I received news that my grandmother has passed away at the age of 99. She lived a great deal longer than any of my family ever imagined in our wildest dreams, and she passed on without feeling any pain. When I saw my mom's name on the caller ID on my cell phone, I could just feel it in my bones that my grandmother had passed away. There are some things that I have an instictual feeling about, and this proved to be true. It was bittersweet to hear that she had passed on. Sweet, because she had been ready to go for a couple years, and bitter because it is always hard to lose someone that you care about. I dedicate the year of 2010 to my grandmother whose spirit lives within me.

Because I needed to fly across the country to attend my grandmother's funeral service, and drive back with a generous, unexpected gift from my parents, I was out of town until just before Christmas. Even though I had started compiling this list prior to my trip, I still needed some extra time to put the finishing touches on it. After a few days of working on this, I am now ready to present my picks for the "Best albums of 2010", but first I would like to reflect back on the year in music.

I seemed to buy more new music this year than the past 5 years combined, and I believe this is due to the resurgence of more artists releasing their music on vinyl with a free mp3 download of the entire album. This is important to me, because I love having access to a portable format of the music, as well as having the warm sound of crackling vinyl spinning in my living room.

One of the only people who ever seems to comment on here said that he didn't think 2010 was the best year for music. If I was basing my assessment on the music that the majority of blogs herald as the best, I would probably have to agree with him on this point. With this not being the case, I believe that 2010 was a fantastic year for new musical discoveries as well as new albums from veteran artists that I have featured on Eclectic Grooves in the past.

Blogs that I turn to every year when I am compiling my own list are
Raven Sings the Blues, The Decibel Tolls, Impose and Rate your Music. They tend to lean towards more outsider/experimental music, but there are plenty of bands featured on there that would be familiar to many readers of Eclectic Grooves.

My overall assessment of the year is that there was plenty of great music that was released this year that simply flew under the radar of the general public. In order to find this music, the listener has to be willing to put in some serious time to search for it, and not everyone has this time. That's where I come in. Hopefully by visiting my blog and checking out my picks for the Best Music of 2010, you will find something that you haven't been exposed to yet. Since this list is fairly long, I am going to present it in two parts.

Without further ado, I present to you in no particular order, my picks for the Best Music of 2010.

1) Ty Segall- Melted- Fuzz-fueled bombastic garage rock with Lennon-esque vocal melodies and a cleaner, tighter sound. Highly recommended!

















Listen: Caesar and Girlfriend


2)
Benoit Pioulard- Lasted- Dream-like songs that float by with an air of mystery and melancholy. Ethereal vocal melodies complement the dark musical accompaniment for a sound that perfectly evokes the rainy Pacific Northwest landscape.



















Listen: Sault and Lasted

3) Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest- So much has already been said about this album that it almost seems pointless to say anything. They sought out a completely new direction on Halcyon Digest, keeping the focus on song development with less experimentation, while giving their existing fanbase plenty of things to salivate about. A crowning achievement for a band that is well on their way to becoming iconic.


















4) Mary Halvorson Quintet- Saturn Sings- Those of you who have been following this blog over the years will recognize the name Mary Halvorson. It has no secret that she is one of my favorite musicians, and on her latest record Saturn Sings, she continues to push the envelope of what free jazz is expected to sound like. This time around she has lowered the cacophony and ratcheted up the musicality of the sound by featuring a full reed section. This balances the discordant with the tuneful, making for an utterly absorbing listen.



















5) Thee Oh Sees- Warm Slime- I have so much respect and admiration for John Dwyer and company, that I am practically gushing as I write these words. While nothing really comes close to the visceral energy and excitement of a Oh Sees live show, producer and lead singer of avant-thrash band the Mayyors has come close to doing just this on Warm Slime. Slimy, grimy and thick with blankets of fuzz on each track, especially the side long title track which feaures an extended mantra of "All we need is the summertime" with trippy sound effects added to their voices for a truly psychedelic experience. This band is unstoppable, and one of the best bands to check out live.


















6) Golden Triangle- S-T- Tuneful, upbeat girl-group rock that maintains its own identitiy in the current garage rock scene dominated by countless imitators.

















7) The Fresh and Only's- Play It Strange- These guys take the top honors for being the most prolific artists of the year with a new full length, two 7 "s, an EP and another full length solo album from lead singer Tim Cohen. You would think that with this much output, the quality would be lacking. However, Play It Strange is one of the most engaging albums in their repertoire, featuring desert-scorched ballads, infectious sing-alongs and extended jams. This is a band who is not content with being pigeonholed as garage rock, so they have created a new sound that evokes the past but keeps pushing forward.





8) Dum Dum Girls- I Will Be-
Arsenic and honey-dipped vocals combine with hazy guitars and a lo-fi production, creating songs that you will ultimately be humming for days.


















9) Black Milk- Album of the Year- I was really hard-pressed to find examples of fantastic hip-hop records to be released this year. The hype of Kanye's overblown My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy seemed to overshadow this record by Black Milk, cheekily titled Album of the Year. He wasn't far off the mark though, as this record features the most innovative production and skilled rhymes of any of the other hip-hop records I listened to this year.





10) The Fall- Your Future Our Clutter-
Since the last couple records by the Fall have left a little bit to be desired, I was skeptical that this one would measure up to the hype surrounding it. I was happily surprised that this one literally floored me upon first listen, and continues to astound me after each repeated listen. Those of you who are fans of the Fall's early classics like Hex Enduction Hour and Dragnet will find plenty to dig into here. Mind-blowing stuff.









11) Kemialliset Ystavat- Ullakkopalo-
the latest from these Finnish experimenters finds them utilizing samples to augment thir hodgepodge tape-collage sound into a living, breathing avant-electro-psych behemoth. One of the most ground-breaking albums I have heard in recent memory.







12) Elephant9- Walk the Nile-
The cover art to this one would lead you to beleive that you are about to delve into something along the lines of Autechre or Aphex Twin. Instead, this is hyperspeed prog-fusion of the highest order. Make sure that you are not driving an automobile when listening to this, as I can't be responsible for what happens to you.








13) Woima Collective- Tezeta-
Since most of the living Ethiopiques players are no longer making music that sounds as good as this, you need to add this to your listening repertoire. Fascinating, alluring songs that evoke feelings of hanging out in an opium den in the middle of Egypt after midnight.

















Listen: Woima and Gaaf



14) Effi Briest- Rhizomes-
This was one of my favorite new discoveries of the year. Expansive, epic songs that unfold into psychedelic sound worlds, while keeping the listenener's attention with bold, in your-face rhythms.

















Listen: Rhizomes and Shards



15) Jack Rose- Luck in the Valley
- In light of Jack Rose's passing last Christmas, I feel that it is fitting to pay tribute to his legacy by featuring this posthumous record on my list for this year. He is one of the greatest fingerstyle guitarists to ever play the instrument, and this is a perfect album to showcase his talents. Absolutely mesmerizing!











16) Mountain Man- Made the Harbor
- Another one of those misleading monikers such as "The Ten Thousand Maniacs", as their are no men in this band, but three female singers singing some of the most beautiful melodies ever recorded. This is perfect music for a lazy Sunday morning, where the sun hasn't quite come out, and your eyelids are still a bit heavy.









17) Hayvanlar Alemi- Guarano Superpower
- another fantastic release from the Sublime Frequencies label run by the Sun City Girls and Hisham Mayet. Face-melting Turkish instrumental psych-rock for the people who like their music rough around the edges.















18) Beach Fossils- S/T-
lo-fi surf jangle with intoxicating melodies that will stick in your head forever. Nothing revolutionary here- just feel-good music to take with you on your life adventures.

















Listen: Sometimes and Vacation




19) Lower Dens- Twin-Hand Movement-
this album sneaks up on you when you least expect it to, as upon first listen it seems like a fairly straightforward record. Repeated listens reveal a full-fledged masterpiece of moody dream-pop, with little parts of brilliance in practically every song. Slow and moody on some songs, and fast and heavy on others- this album has something for everyone.










20) White Fence- S-T-
This is the side project of one of the members of the Strange Boys, and it is an absolute game-changer. Lo-fi psychedelia filtered through the lens of a fuzzy scope, with melodies that imprint themselves on your brain. People who like Skip Spence, Sic Alps and Amen Dunes will definitely dig this. If you don't know any of those artists, you should check them out as well.










Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Hear a New World Podcast- Best Albums of 2010

Well, I know that Eclectic Grooves has been neglected lately, but serious life issues have materialized recently that have required more of my time and energy. This is not to say that I will be abandoning the site though, as I have a couple huge posts coming up over the next month. One of these posts is the massive list of my favorite albums of 2010 that I have been compiling over the past couple months. I am certain that there are still going to be some albums coming out in December that may deserve to be on this list, but I plan to have this list done no later than December 15th.

With that being said, today's I Hear a New World Podcast focuses on music released in 2010 that will likely be included on my year-end list. I have included a setlist below just in case you are unable to catch the artists and song titles from my repartee throughout the show

The latest edition of I Hear a New World is available for download here, and at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/.

I would love to hear about what kind of music you have been jazzed about lately, as well as your picks for the Best Albums of 2010

I Hear a New World Podcast: Best Albums of 2010

1) Group Inerane- Alemin (Kaudede)
2) Youngsters- I Wanna Be Your Man
3) Ty Segall- Alone
4) The Fresh and Onlys- Waterfall
5) Benoit Pioulard- RTO
6) Sun Araw- Deep Temple
7) Golden Triangle- Neon Noose
8) Lower Dens- Holy Water
9) Deerhunter- Basement Scene
10)Omar Khorshid- Wadil Muluk (Valley of the Kings)
11)Mary Halvorson Quintet- Leak Over Six Five
12)Eddy Current Suppression Ring- Rush to Relax

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Hodgepodge 2010















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

Given the time of the season, it is once again time for me to dredge through my seemingly endless archives of spooky music to present a new Halloween mix to the readers. Last year I was rushing against the clock to complete my Halloween podcast before the clock struck midnight on Halloween. After learning my lesson from this, I began compiling my list two weeks ago with possible songs that could make the cut for this years mix. These songs were culled from my own collection, Soulseek users and the numerous Halloween blogs and forums across the internet. Without the help of these sources, it would have been practically impossible for me to finish this mix on time.

Considering my tendency to strive towards perfection, finishing this mix before Halloween has meant spending hours painstakingly crafting a two-part mix of the most terrifyingly bone-chilling music that I could possibly find. Please note that in order to prevent from scaring all of my listeners stiff, I have thrown in some light-hearted Halloween tunes from genres such as rockabilly, doo-wop and soul to balance out the tone. I hope that this mix finds you well and provides the perfect soundtrack to the haunted house of your mind.

Mu-wa-ha-ha-ha!!

P.S. I plan on providing a tracklist for this year's mix, but I want to give you the opportunity to be surprised during the first listen. Be on the lookout for that!

Happy Halloween!

Editors note:
Please make sure to check the comments for the full tracklist to this year's Halloween mix, and why don't ya leave a comment while you're there.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I Hear a New World Podcast #22



















The latest edition of I Hear a New World is available for download here, and at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/.

This week's episode of I Hear a New World primarily features albums that were released in 2010, as I gear up for my annual "Best Albums of the Year" post. Artists on this podcast who have released albums from 2010 include The Intelligence, Quasi, Thee Oh Sees, Madlib, and Grass Widow. Interspersed throughout the set are a couple jazz greats and some choice international cuts for a good balance of sounds.

I would love to receive some feedback from the listeners as to what you think of this edition of I Hear a New World.

Also, keep your ears peeled for another edition of Plain Brown Wrappers as well as the annual Halloween podcast since Halloween is just around the corner.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mix Tape Recollections
















Recently I have been digging into my old crates of tapes looking for forgotten gems to play in the tape deck of my girlfriend's Saturn. Since she only has a tape deck in her car, and this is the only mode of transportation we have right now, I have been revisiting old favorites that I compiled many moons ago in a dusty basement with nothing but my record collection, a creative imagination and my trusty JVC dual cassette deck. Similar to the warm crackle of vinyl, the grainy hiss of a cassette tape gives it a more raw, analog sound that is largely missing on the highly digitized reproduction of a compact disc. Because of this, I am more drawn to compiling mix-tapes than mix CD's.

Lately, there have been numerous books released which discuss the merits of making mix-tapes and reflecting on mix tapes that remind us about the best and worst times of our lives. My favorite book on mix tapes is called Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture which was curated by Thurston Moore. From the design of the shape of the book to resemble a cassette tape, to the fantastic mix tapes shared by a diverse assortment of musicians such as Mike Watt, Jim O'Rourke and Tony Conrad, this book pulls out all the stops. I am a sucker for any book that celebrates the mix tape as an art form because I honestly feel that there is something more intriguing about a carefully stitched together mix-tape than a digitally reproduced CD compiled on a computer.

In putting together a mix, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. First, there is the time that is necessary to compile all of the songs, the incessant pressing of stop, pause and record to get the spacing between songs just right, and the ultimate hope that the person you are giving the tape to will realize how much time and effort you put into this process. Then, there is the decision of sequencing everything so it has a good flow, making sure that the first song is a perfect opening to the mix that gradually draws the listener into a new sound world. The key here is to make the song good enough to entice the listener, but not to make it so amazing that it overshadows the rest of the songs on the mix.

After this, it is important to make sure that you feature a wide variety of textures, moods and tempos to keep the listener on their toes. I try to never have too many slow jams in a row, unless of course the theme is "Mellow Music to Relax With Your Honey". Last, it is essecntial to have an absolute mind-blowing track to close the album, and it doesn't matter whether it's a sprawling guitar freakout, or a short but sweet ditty ala Guided By Voices. The main thing to remember is that the point of this song is to pull the listener back in to give the mix a second listen. The piece de resistance for most mix-tapes is the artwork or design of the tape. This is where you can show off that artistic talent by cutting and pasting pictures from magazines and books, as well as writing out the track list with specific fonts that suit the theme of your mix.

With this newfound love of mix-tapes, I bring you one of mine that was compiled back in the summer of '96. I didn't name this one, but it features a wide variety of moods and it covers every genre under the sun. It's really amazing what the mind can conjure up when under extreme conditions such as the sweltering summertime heat and the frigid winter temperatures that are commonplace in the midwest. There seemed to be an endless amount of time available to listen to music and record mix tapes such as this one with artists that resonated with me at the time. Aside from Versus' "Underground" and Concrete Blonde's "The Beast", I feel that this mix encapsulates a specific moment of time in my life. I have left these two tracks off of the mix as they are impossible to find on Soulseek, and I no longer own the CD's.

I hope that you enjoy this tape. If this one gets a lot of feedback, I may consider making this a series as well. Also, if any of you would care to share a mix-tape story of your own, I would love to hear it!

Mix Tape '96 Side 1

Mix Tape '96 Side 2

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blasting Through the Sonic Furnace of the Sky


















Today is probably one of the first times that I have featured a fairly new album in its entirety at a great bitrate. The reason that I have chosen to stray from the normal policy is that this fantastic Sublime Frequencies release from Omar Khorshid came out back in May and went out of print within 6 weeks of its actual release date. This is an astonishing feat to say the least, and I feel that it should not fall on deaf ears.

While I wasn't fortunate enough to snag a limited pressing of this record, I was lucky enough to download the complete album from a friend on Soulseek at an astonishingly rare 320k bitrate. For those of you who are familiar with the discography of Sublime Frequencies, you know that the quality of their albums is top-notch and that their releases typically go out-of-print at a rapid rate. Hisham Mayet, along with Alan and Richard Bishop (from the now defunct and legendary experimental band Sun City Girls) started Sublime Frequencies a few years ago to primarily showcase the untapped talents of lesser known musicians from the farthest corners of the globe. While artists such as Group Doueh, Group Bombino Mustapha Majoub and Troupe Majidi are major attractions within their provincial area, they had been unknown outside of these areas until these recordings were released to the masses.

I have been exposed to a few of Omar Khorshid's recordings prior to listening to this, but nothing could have prepared me for the spiritual celebration of enveloping sound that spilled into my ears. Many of these tracks contain Omar's reverb-saturated guitar lines with a more than satisfying backdrop of pounding tribal drums and basslines that resonate through your bones. There are plenty of psychedelic Arabic belly-dancing grooves to keep your body moving as well as some mellow tracks that are perfect for a lazy afternoon in the sun. Overall, this album is a sonic delight that deserves a 2nd pressing so more people can be exposed to it.

Click below for the download.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

One From the Vaults- Jean Cohen-Solal














It hasn't quite been a month since I've posted on here, but it's definitely not due to a lack of creative ideas. Lately, I have been listening to a wide variety of albums from 2010 as I gear up for the annual "Best Albums of the Year" list. Be on the lookout for this list when it officially drops in December. Until, then, I will whet your appetite with some of my favorite records from 2010 in an upcoming I Hear a New World podcast.

Also, for those of you who live in Portland, OR, get your ass to Dante's this Friday to check out Thee Oh Sees. What comes to my mind when listening to Thee Oh See's lates EP Warm Slime is an image of a speeding freight train as it violently careens off the tracks. This isnt too far from the feeling one gets when experiencing their live show. When they bring their catchy brand of psychedelic-garage rock to Dante's, you can bet that the whole place will be a sweaty mass of bodies frantically bobbing up and down to the sound of the tunes. Get there early to ensure that you get a good spot, and you can thank me later!

Now, on to this edition of One From the Vaults. I recently became exposed to Jean Cohen Solal's masterpiece of psychedelic jazz rock called Captain Tarthopom when trolling the endless archives of Rate Your Music. The reviews I read on this record were more than enticing enough to make me curious about it. I started out on my search for the record, and finally came across someone on Soulseek who seemed to have a diverse selection of rare music, and they just happened to have this record.

What I was about to hear was something that I don't think I've ever heard before. The flute was being used prominenently in every song, yet the sound of Jean's flute playing doesn't ever come across as a boring Jethro Tull knockoff. Instead he runs his flute through an array of echo effects and fuzz pedals evoking a sound that is reminiscent of the experimental side of Eddie Harris circa Silver Cycles. It also features some great organ, thumping basslines and an overall eclectic vibe that perfectly suits the sounds normally featured on Eclectic Grooves. Standouts include the darkly sinister sound that permeates throughout the groove of "Ludions", the playful self-titled track featuring a mystical flute circling around a repetitive trumpet line, sounding like a drunk marching band from New Orleans and the ten minute avant-garde epic "Memories D'un Ventricule" featuring an ambient intro that leads into a groove-heavy middle section that eventually ends with a marching band sound similar to the self-titled track. All in all, this album is a delectable delight for the ears.

Try it

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One From the Vaults: Roman Bunka


















As I promised two week's ago, here is the answer to the latest Plain Brown Wrappers: Tomrerclaus- En Spade Er En Spade. No-head decided not to ruin it for the rest of the readers, but it turned out that no one else even ventured a guess this time around. Anyway, En Spade Er En Spade was a towering achievement for this phenomenally talented guitarist from Denmark who played nearly all of the instruments on the record himself. As far as I know, this record is way out of print, so I hope that you enjoyed it.



















Today, I am introducing a new series to Eclectic Grooves called One From the Vaults. This series will showcase out-of print and extremely hard to find records that have generally been slept on by the general public. I figured that this record by German kraut-psych masters Roman Bunka would be a perfect album to introduce this series to you. All I really need to say about Dein Kopf ist ein schlafendes Auto is that it transcends genre tags, throwing every imaginable musical style into a mixing bowl until it overflows into a bottomless ocean of creative ideas. I would love to hear what you guys think of this record.

R.I.Y.L. Frank Zappa, Can, Pere Ubu, Hamza El Din

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Plain Brown Wrappers #9- Synapse Ticklers















Recently, I managed to give the blog a spiritual cleanse, as I deleted over fifty spam messages that had accumulated on here over the past several months. Hopefully, the rate at which I have been receiving spam will go down considerably since I now require all users to enter a code whenever they leave a comment.

Well, let's get on to the matter at hand.

This is the 9th episode of Plain Brown Wrappers, and I am proud to say that this is one of the most mind-bending platters of wax to ever be featured on Eclectic Grooves. As I listen closely to each sound that the guitarist on this record manages to squeeze out of his instrument, it is clear to me that this is either the product of a brain-fried visionary from the psychedelic era, or the whacked-out experiments of a lonely, pimply-faced music geek set loose into a musical playground filled with echo chambers, effects pedals and stompboxes.

While you are taking this musical excursion for the first time, I want you to think about what kind of mind it takes to create something of this magnitude, and then you can return your seat backs and tray tables to their full upright position as we are cleared for landing. I hope you have enjoyed flying with Eclectic Grooves. Please come again!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Hear a New World- Podcast #21- Stacks of Wax Vol.7



















Yeah, I know that it's been way too long since I've graced your presence, but between visits from family and friends, summer concerts and basking in the sun with my sweetheart, I have had absolutely no time or energy left for posting here.

Besides checking out the incredibly talented trio of gypsy-klezmer stylists, Shicky Gnarowitz, last week at the Division Clinton Fair and yesterday at The Woods, I have been gathering a list of upcoming shows that I plan on checking out during the remainder of the summer. PDX Pop Now, SMMR BMMR and Music Fest 2010 are three festivals that I plan on attending, but every time I check the local weeklies there are more that hadn't been on my radar yet. Be on the lookout for a breakdown of these shows, as well as an exhaustive list of the bands that I plan to check out during each show.

Other things that are on tap at Eclectic Grooves are new features that I have been cooking up in my mind over the past couple months, the long overdue podcast or series of podcasts discussing musical influences from my youth, out-of print album feature and a new Plain Brown Wrappers episode. Those of you who have been sleeping on Eclectic Grooves lately will have more than enough music to keep you satiated over the upcoming months. Sorry for the temporary hiatus, but I am back on track again.

Last, I will be going back to requiring visitors to type in a code when they comment, as I have been getting way too many spam comments lately.

The latest edition of I Hear a New World is available for download here, and at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/.

This edition of I Hear a New World contains a healthy amount of garage rock with smatterings of jazz, afro-funk and blues. Artist contained in this weeks program include Stark Reality, Jimi Hendrix, The Fresh and Onlys, Orchestre Poly Rythmo and Thee Oh Sees.

I would love to hear what you think about this latest episode, as your comments fuel my desire to keep this little venture going.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Hear a New World- Podcast #20- Stacks of Wax Vol.6


















The latest edition of I Hear a New World is available for download here, and at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/.

This episode features a wide-ranging set of eclectic styles including psychedelic, blues, free jazz, garage, post rock and afro-funk. Bands that are featured on this episode include Brainiac, Animal Collective, Slint, Reverend Gary Davis and Orchestre Poly Rhythmo.

I hope that you enjoy this episode as much as, or more, than I had putting it together.

Please leave a comment to let me know what you think of this week's show.

I have a friend coming out to visit over the next week, so things are going to be pretty slow on here during that time. Feel free to pillage the archives while you are awaiting the next post.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Revelation

Well... it has become apparent to me that the popularity of this site has been decreasing considerably over the last several months. My hits have been dwindling since February, and they keep going down at about the rate of 1000 hits a month.

I figure that there are many reasons for this shift in popularity:

1) Sporadic posting (Once or twice a month isn't cutting it)
2) Fewer full-album posts
3) Many of the blogs who once linked to me are either gone or have removed my blog from their links, which tells me that they have decided that my blog isn't worthy of space on their site
4) The design of my blog is archaic compared to the Flash and You-tube filled sites that are flooding the internet, which is evident by the amount of visitors who spend two seconds on the site and then move on
5) The blog is cluttered with too many gadgets, players and links to other sites.
6) I haven't featured very much experimental or free jazz music on the site lately, which is the style of music that seemes to garner the most praise from the readers
7) Oh, I suppose I could go on and on, but you get the point

What I plan on doing in the next several weeks is to work on the design and the organization of the blog so that it catches the eye of the readers. I have kept the current design for over three years now, and I think it's time to work on making the design of Eclectic Grooves more visually appealing. Unfortunately, my knowledge about HTML is fairly limited, and I doubt that I'm going to become an expert overnight. So, I welcome suggestions from everyone, especially those of you who know a little bit about HTML, or who have graphic design experience.

With the current state of blogging, it's next to impossible to keep people interested by featuring only podcasts and single mp3's. Therefore, I plan on featuring out-of-print albums on here more regularly. I feel that this will bring some attention from the types of people who don't get enough from a single song or mix of songs from different albums.

Last, I would like to hear thoughts, suggestions and constructive criticism from the readers. Tell me what you like about the site? What works for you and what doesn't? What artists and genres would you like to see me post about more often? As I said before, your comments, requests, and suggestions are always appreciated, so please don't hesitate to speak your mind.

With that being said, I would like to reveal the answer to last week's Plain Brown Wrappers. While there were two of the usual suspects in the comments section, I have to say that this edition was the least popular of any of the Plain Brown Wrappers. I guess I should feel glad that I turned a couple people on to some new music, but I can't help but feel underwhelmed by the overall response to this one.

Anyway, the answer to last week's mystery disc is Toto Blanke Electric Circus. Those of you who are familiar with the the German-Dutch avant-jazz fusion band Association PC will most likely be familiar with the recordings of Toto Blanke. His mastery of the guitar is evident on this record, as complex guitar lines are interweaved with ambient electronics and metronomic grooves. There is a little something for everyone on this record, so don't hesitate to download this stellar recording.
















Until next time...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Plain Brown Wrappers #8- Electric Sunbursts of Sound















Even though I tweaked my back out while exercising this morning, I decided that I didn't want to postpone the listening party any longer. Since I am icing my back as we speak, I plan on keeping this short today.

This episode of Plain Brown Wrappers is brought to you from that corner of my brain that revels in bringing you the most twisted, innovative and head-spinning music that I can possibly muster. It is being transmitted from the overactive brainwaves of a creative genius who just might have you humming these tunes while you sip your morning latte in the back of a crowded Starbucks. Of course you will have to be locked away in your own soundworld, with a pair of headphones that allow you to explore the full spectrum of sound that this album demands. You can't put it on while you carry out the mundane activities of the day such as washing the car or cleaning the house.

Give this one some time to sink in as each song slowly unfolds into an intricate web of styles that combines all of the best elements of jazz, prog, funk and electronic.

With that, I present to you the 8th installment of the Plain Brown Wrappers series.

Make sure that you listen with care, and don't say that I didn't warn you!

I would love it if you take the time to venture a guess, and tune in next week for the answer.

Plain Brown Wrappers #8

Monday, May 03, 2010

I Hear a New World- Podcast #19- Stacks of Wax Vol.5


















The 19th episode of I Hear a New World is available for download at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/.

This week's episode of I Hear a New World featured a couple songs on media other than vinyl, as I wanted to take a little break from the norm. Artists featured on this week's episode include Volcano the Bear, Grass Widow, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and John Fahey.

At just under an hour, it is the perfect mix to upload to your I-pod for the morning commute to work.

I would love to hear what you all think of this week's episode, so please drop me a line. As always, please let me know if any of you want a trackslist for this week's show.

I apologize for not posting very much lately, but I hope to post a new Plain Brown Wrappers soon as well as a few full album posts.

Keep your ear tuned to Eclectic Grooves for the latest and greatest sounds coming out of my stereo.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Hear a New World Podcast #18- Stacks of Wax Vol.4


















The latest episode of I Hear a New World is available for download at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/.

I hope you guys have been enjoying the Stacks of Wax podcasts I've been doing lately. These episodes are much easier to compile than the ones that I record from CD's and Mp3's on my computer. Another reason that I have been more motivated to post the vinyl podcasts is that I have been purchasing a lot more wax over the past year. Because of this, I have been doing the vinyl editions more often.

For this episode I have gathered another eclectic batch of wax for your listening pleasure. Artists that were featured on this installment of Stacks of Wax include Sandy Bull, Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, The Intelligence, Jef Brown and Pharaoh Sanders. As always, your comments are encouraged and appreciated. Also, if anyone would like a trackslist to this podcast, please drop me a line in the comments section.

Until next time, keep the tunes flowing through your ears.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Hear a New World Podcast #17- Stacks of Wax Vol.3

The 17th episode of I Hear a New World is available for download at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com.

This edition features many vinyl treasures that I picked up at local record stores over the last couple weeks. Artists that were featured on this podcast include Grass Widow, Neil Young, Ornette Coleman, Rev Louis Overstreet and Thee Oh Sees. It features an upbeat mixture of psychedelia, gospel blues, jazz, afro-groove and spanish flamenco.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this week's podcast, so please drop me a line. Also, I would be happy to provide a tracklist for this show to anyone who is interested.

Keep it tuned to Eclectic Grooves for more amazing sounds in the coming weeks.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Plain Brown Wrappers #7- The Unveiling

Well, this one wasn't too popular with the readers, and even the faithful commenters weren't sure what they thought of this tasty platter. What can I say? I can't please everyone all of the time, but I would have hoped for a little more feedback on this one.

It seems like the Plain Brown Wrappers series has run its course, at least as far as most of my visitors are concerned. Your silence speaks volumes. Maybe there is nothing that I can post on here that hasn't been said or done before. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I have decided to call it a day here at Eclectic Grooves. I just need to rethink the direction of this blog, as hits, comments and reader appreciation has been at an all time low.

For the two commenters who were actually curious about the identitiy of last week's featured Plain Brown Wrappers, this post is for you.

While some interesting band names were dropped, neither of the commenters were able to guess last week's artist and album title. Although I will say that I was intrigued enough with the bands that were mentioned to search for some of their stuff.


















Without further ado, the answer is Sweden's Arbete Och Fritid's 1977 double album entitled Se Upp for Livet. This was the first disc, and in my opinion it's the better of the two. I felt that it ecapsulated what makes the Plain Brown Wrappers series so enticing to the readers: obscure, mind-bending music that is hard to pin down to any specific genre or era of time.


Tonight, I will be working on the next I Hear a New World podcast that will probably be uploaded sometime later in the week.


Until next time...

Monday, February 08, 2010

Plain Brown Wrappers #7- Psychedelic Hopscotch
















As I was wrapping up my last podcast, I honestly thought that a new Plain Brown Wrappers was within earshot. But the unpredictable nature of life stepped in to reveal that there are some things that need to take precedent over Eclectic Grooves. I'll be the first to admit that I wish I had more time to dedicate to the blog, but free time has been available in short doses during the past month. For those of you who are still stopping by, I wanted to extend my deepest gratitude to you for sticking by me through thick and thin (believe me I know it's been thin lately).

Anyway, It took a little coaxing from one of the regulars to light a firecracker under my ass, but I am happy to say that I have something special for the latest episode of Plain Brown Wrappers.

What begins with a subtle hum slowly builds into a cascading wave of noise fragments that finally explodes into a full-on frenzied freakout by the closing of the track. You would think that by the sound of this opening track, you could write this band off as the latest in a dying breed of experimental noise artists with a penchant for earth shattering dynamics, but this is only the first chapter in a story that unfolds in unpredicatable, twisting patterns. There is much to be discovered here that pays off after repeated listens, so let your mind go and experience the expansive sonic unverse that awaits you around the corner.

I would love for all of you to participate in guessing the identity of this week's Plain Brown Wrappers!


Until next time...

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Hear A New World Podcast #16- Stacks of Wax Vol.2

Since, my last post occurred before the New Year, I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year! Thanks to everyone who commented on the Best Albums of 2009 post. It was great to hear that I was able to turn people on to some new sounds. It's been quite awhile since I have posted a new podcast, but I had the energy and motivation to compile something today.

The 16th episode of I Hear a New World is available for download at http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/. This is the second installment of the Stacks of Wax podcast. For those of you who aren't familair with the Stacks of Wax concept, the idea behind it is simple: I rifle through my vinyl and compile a mix of songs that fit my current mood of the day. Today's mix features artists as diverse as Group Bombino. Flaming Lips, Evolutionary Jass Band, Gun Club and Vivian Girls. I hope you enjoy this episide of I Hear a New World, and I would love to hear what my listeners think of this episode.

I feel that there could be another episode of Plain Brown Wrappers right around the corner, so please stay tuned to Eclectic Grooves.