Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Albums of 2011

Well, its that time of year again where vinyl and out-of print rarities are pushed to the bottom of the listening stack to make way for albums released in 2011.  Initially, I set out to start this project in the first part of December so I wasn't rushing frantically to beat the clock on New Year's Eve. However, those of you who have a predilection for collecting and listening to music know that this is quite an unrealistic expectation to set for myself. This quest for creating the perfect list of albums that caters to every taste out there is practically impossible since list-making is completely subjective.

Albums from artists like Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, PJ Harvey, Kurt Vile, Wilco, Adele, St Vincent, Lykke Li, Feist and The War On Drugs were featured on virtually every top 10 list. Whether or not these albums are deserving of this seems to be irrelevant to the fact that most people found these records to be the most important records of the year. Personally, I listened to each one of these records, and aside from Kurt Vile and Wilco they really didin't inspire repeated listens.

During my endless searching through the lists posted on Large Hearted Boy, I came across some music trends in 2011 that were commonplace pretty much across the board.  Lo-fi bands such as Crystal Stilts, Smith Westerns and Times New Viking stopped hiding their melodies behind thick sheets of reverb and jangly guitar noise, in turn revealing an impeccable knack for crafting irresistible pop melodies. San Francisco garage rock stalwarts Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall  continued to crank out music at the rate of a jackrabbit on speed with their special brand of manic, fuzzed-out garage rock that you can't take home to mama.

Another trend that was undeniable this year was the resurgence in underground misogynistic hip-hop from artists such as A$AP ROCKY, Big Krit, Danny Brown, Tyler the Creator and Spaceghost Purrp. While I was into the production and samples on these records, I was not able to get past the gangsta mentality and the lack of respect that the artists have for the female gender. On the flipside, there were a few artists that breathed new life into hip-hop this year such as Blu, Count Bass D and Insight, Pharaohe Monche and Shabazz Palaces. These artists managed to remain true to the essence of hip-hop while still pushing the genre forward into uncharted territory with inventive samples and thought provoking subject matter.  Last, alternative folkies like Alela Diane, Marissa Nadler and Kurt Vile considerably cleaned up the production on their albums to focus more on their vocals than ever before, thus showing that they have the presence of mind to try new things with their sound without alienating their core audience.

In closing, 2011 has been such a great year for music that it was a struggle to keep this list at just fifty albums, but in the end I managed to accomplish this feat.   This year, I will only be featuring a short-take 1-2 sentence description of each record to keep things palatable for all the people with short attention spans.  My hope is that some of you find this list to be useful in peaking your interest in all types of music including garage rock, international, soul, experimental, jazz, hip-hop and folk.

Without further ado, I bring you the Best Albums of 2011 list:

1) Thee Oh Sees- Carrion Crawler/The Dream- What more needs to be said about Thee Oh Sees that hasn't already been said?  This album is the closest that anyone has ever come to capturing the unbridled energy of Dwyer and his merry band of psychedelic pranksters, and it is sure to get your blood boiling!

Carrion Crawler and Chem-Farmer

2) Unknown Mortal Orchestra- S-T- Surprise hit of the year! Sounds like an alien transmission from a sixties AM radio station complete with hip-hop break beats, soulful rave-ups, lo-fi punk and woozy 60's psychedelia. Utterly addictive and mind melting!

Biocycle and Nerve Damage

3) Seun Kuti and The Egypt 80- From Africa With Fury Rise- On his latest record, Seun Kuti manages to channel the sound and energy of classic Fela Kuti records such as Open-Close and Zombie with song lengths topping out at just over seven minutes.  Complex polyrhythms interweave with uplifting call-and response vocals and horn charts that reach the heavens.

Mr. Big Thief and Slave Masters

4) Blu- No York!- Hip-hop with blood pumping through it's veins and no unnecessary posturing like the overrated "Watch the Throne". Rips a page out of the Madlib production playbook and makes the rules up as he goes- splicing old soul samples, video game sounds, skittery drums and space age synths creating a futuristic rap record for the ages.

Down to Earth and Ronald Morgan

5) The People's Temple- Sons of Stone- Hazy garage rock that is heavy on the reverb and fuzzed-out guitars with a not-so-subtle nod to the Haight Ashbury psychedelic scene.

Sons of Stone and Stick Around

6) Brazilian Money- This Is Not a Dream- Funky, wildly eclectic experimental rock with a penchant for insanely catchy ear worms that you won't be able to to shake for days.

Then You'll Know and Party Till I'm Dead

7) A Hawk and A Hacksaw- Cervantine- More of the same adrenaline-fueled Eastern European folk music brought to you from the wacky mind of Jeremy Koster and Heather Trost.

Espanola Kolo and At the Vultural Negru

8) Ty Segall- Goodbye Bread- This album reminds me of a great classic rock record that you can spin over and over. Infectious pop melodies clash with a full-on assault of fuzz guitars.

You Make the Sun Fry and My Head Explodes

9) Tom Waits- Bad as Me- It sounds like Tom Waits decided to make a retrospective of all of his material to date, and he came up with this eclectic batch of irresistible tracks.

Talking at the Same Time and Bad as Me

10) Peaking Lights- 936- Mellow, trance-inducing electro-dub with spaced-out female vocals

All the Sun That Shines and Birds of Paradise (Dub Version)

11) Beastie Boys- Hot Sauce Commitee Part II- While not quite reaching the levels of Check Your Head or Paul's Boutique, the Beastie Boys managed to release a dope hip-hop record with very few samples and even fewer guest stars in a day and age where this is practically a requirement for the genre.

Too Many Rappers and Tadlock's Glasses

12) Fungi Girls- Some Easy Magic- On their 2nd outing, Fungi Girls shed their Jesus and Mary Chain and shoegaze influence to make room for a decidedly lo-fi surf-garage sound.

Honey Face and Doldrums
13) Swedish Azz- Azz Appeal- More totally zonked out free jazz from Mats Gustaffson featuring ambient interludes sandwiched between fiery improvisation

Full Opus 3 and 4 and  Lidingц airport + Visa Frеn Utanmyra

14) Tune Yards- whokill-  This record is on many year-end lists, and with good reason as it's one of the most intensely cerebral records of the year. Upping the production from her self-titled debut to feature swirling free jazz horns, rumbling African percussion, multi-layered vocals and totally blotto production, Tune Yards has crafted a true masterpiece.

Gangsta and Powa

15) The Psychic Paramount- S-T- Successfully blends stoner-rock, post-rock, drone, noise and metal to equal one hell of a psychedelic ride.

DDB and N5

16) Fergus and Geronimo- Unlearn- A short, sharp record that is lyrically and musically all over the map with subtle sonic details in just the right place.

Wanna Know What I Would Do and The World Never Stops

17) Booker T Jones- The Road From Memphis- A return to the Booker T sound from the 70's with swirling organ lines, kickin' drum breaks and funky wah-wah. If you dig the Meters, JB's and soul jazz in general, you owe it to yourself to give this record a listen

Walking Papers and Harlem House

18) Eleven Twenty Nine- S/T- Masterful blend of 12 string folk guitar, drone, ambient and noise rock. Meant for listening while driving through the desert at night with the lights off and the tumbleweed whistlin' in the wind.

Eyes of Jewels, Mirrored Bodies and Eyes on a Cabbage Head

19) Chad VanGaalen- Diaper Island- Encapsulates the best of 90's indie rock while still keeping his own musical identity

Peace on the Rise and Blonde Hash

20) Dirty Beaches- Badlands- David Lynch proclaims this as one of his favorite bands with good reason as these muddy lo-fi soundscapes conjure up images of a latter day film-noir such as Blue Velvet.

Horses and Black Nylon

21) Colin Stetson- New History Warfare Vol.2 Judges- Fantastic
experimental electro-free jazz from the bass saxophonist who has performed with acts as diverse as Tom Waits, Bon Iver and TV on the Radio.

Judges and Clothed in the Skin of the Dead

22) Sic Alps- Napa Asylum- This time around Sic Alps has shed some of the extraneous noise that dominated previous efforts, and tightened up their brand of psychedelic garage rock to let the melodies shine through.

Cement Surfboard and Low Kid

23) Arrington De Dionysos- Suara Naga-  It is no surprise that this album made the list as I am a huge fan of all of Arrington's projects, especially the solo records and Old Time Relijun. Most of this record is sung in Indonesian, and it is dominated by skronky free jazz, throat singing and disjointed Beefeartian rhythms that will make the hair on your neck stand up.

Bianglala Batin and Kerasukan

24) Faust- Something Dirty- Most of the bands who released records in the 60's and then decided to make a comeback record in the past decade have unfortunately come up short. While this is no Faust Tapes or So Far, this album runs the gamut from experimental noise and sprawling psychedelia to ambient soundscapes and primitive electronic.

Lost the Signal and Dampfauslass1

25) Gillian Welch- The Harrow and the Harvest- It's been practically seven years since Gillian has released an album, so I would have been happy with just about anything she released. Thankfully, what Gillian and partner David Rawlings have created here is nothing short of a masterpiece in contemporary folk storytelling.

Scarlet Town and Tennessee

26) Bloodshot Bill- Thunder and Lightning- Contemporary rockabilly that is the sonic equivalent to Charlie Feathers and Hasil Adkins drinking from the bottom of a pitcher of beer with bloodshot eyes at 4 a.m in the morning.

Crazy About a Girl and Thunder and Lightning

27) Pharoahe Monch- W.A.R (We Are Renegades)- Mind-melting verbal linguistics from the former Organized Confusion member. Pharoah's complex rhymes slide in between the grooves like silk, and his vocal cadence is as commanding as Chuck D in his prime.

Evolve and Assasins

28)Times New Viking- Dancer Equired- When I first heard this, I couldn't believe it was the same band. The melodies used to be buried underneath thick layers of amp buzz on previous records, but they finally get their day in the sun on this magnificent summer record.

It's a Culture and Don't Go To Liverpool

29) Fire with Jim O'Rourke- Unreleased-  Cacophonous saxophone laid over a bed of slow, slinky grooves that seem to keep building until the songs make their way to the exit. An exercise in both restraint and total chaos that will practically peel the paint off your walls.

Are you Both Still Unreleased? and Please, I Am Released

30) D. Charles Speer- Arghiledes- Former No Neck Blues Band member does a primarily instrumental record focusing on traditional Greek songs with elements of psychedelia and drone. Mesmerizing instrumentation featuring bouzouki, baglamas, organ, percussion and electric guitar.

O Sinachis and The Heavy Heart of Ando-Yeap

31) Charles Bradley- No Time For Dreaming- In a year where there was barely anybody releasing anything worthy of calling soul, Charles Bradley released this fantastic slice of classic soul in the vein of Al Green or Otis Redding. This album is dripping so much soul from its pores that you might need to replace the record sleeve!

The World is Going Up in Flames and How Long

32) The Shaolin Afronauts- Flight of the Ancients- shredding guitar solos bathed in wah-wah, Ethiopian style slow jams and jazzy horns all combine for one amazing record

Rise With the Blind and Shira

33)  Jerusalem and the Starbaskets- S-T-  Rootsy record that is so loaded to the gills with reverb and noise that the vocals become practically insignificant. One of the best discoveries of the year.

Pretty Patty and First Cigarette in the Rain

34) Thee Oh Sees- Castlemania- This is the first time that I have ever featured two albums from the same band on my year-end lists, but Thee Oh Sees are deserving of this honor. This is a more diverse, experimental record with swirling flutes, blaring saxophones, acoustic guitars, bells and synthesizers all combining for a psychedelic pop album that encourages repeated listens.

Corrupted Coffin and If I Stay Too Long

35) Count Bass D and Insight- The Risktakers- Otherworldly hodgepodge of samples and innovative rhyming styles that raises the bar for the rest of the underground hip-hop scene.

Which One Remix and Risk Taker

36) Las Kellies- Kellies- simplistic but brilliant post-rock with dubbed-out rhythms that hark back to the classic sound of Slits and Gang of Four

Adwenture and Bife Dos

37) Led Bib-Bring Your Own-  experimental jazz fusion that mostly sounds like it's teetering on the brink of insanity, but occasionally locks into a seamless groove that will have you snapping your fingers.

Little X and Power Walking

38)  Cave- Neverendless- Despite the title, many of these songs seem like they are endless. Repetitive metronomic grooves set the stage for the onslaught of blistering guitar on a few of these tracks, and the other ones are filled with aural delights to tickle your brain.

WUJ and On the Rise

39) Total Control- Henge Beat-  I saw these guys twice when they opened up for Thee Oh Sees on their last tour, and they were pretty good. Nothing can prepare you for what you hear on Henge Beat, as primal drumming and slash-and-burn guitars trade barbs with new wave synthesizers and punk rock yelping.

Retiree and Carpet Rash

40) Atlas Sound- Parallax- Bradford Cox's latest is a fascinating listen from beginning to end, taking you into adventurous sound worlds that range from experimental pop structures to spacey ambient tracks that float into the ether.

Te Amo and Angel is Broken

41) Blu and Exile- Give Me My Flowers While I Can Smell Them- It's hard for me to say which of Blu's albums I like better, but his flow is in full force on tracks such as the mind blowing "More Out of Life" and the positively jazzy "She Said It's Ok". He manages to spit 24 bars without so much as one curse word- a major feat in the current state of hip-hop.

More Out of Life and She Said It's Ok

42) Marisa Anderson- The Golden Hour- Marisa is the former guitar player for Portland's The Evolutionary Jass Band, and this album couldn't be further away from the sound of this band. These are desert-scorched guitar instrumentals for those long hours behind the wheel of a car driving through the southwest as the curtains of the day are closed.

In the Valley of the Sun and A Dream of Willie Mctell

43) Guadalupe Plata- S-T- This is rollicking raunch-n-roll from a quartet who sounds like a spanish Black Keys with a lot more grit in their teeth.

Estoy Roto and Como Una Serpiente

44) Shabazz Palaces- Black Up- It took me multiple listens to fully appreciate the breadth of this record, but now I realize the error of my ways. Ishmael Butler (Butterfly from Digable Planets) has released a game changer in a genre that has largely become stagnant. Forward thinking futuristic avant-garde rap with floor-shaking bass and stream of consciousness rhymes.

An Echo From the Hosts that Process Infinitum and The Reeping of All That is Worthwhile

45) White Fence- Is Growing Faith- This album is the result of an acid-soaked brain tinkering in his basement with vintage recording equipment while listening to a steady diet of Syd Barrett and Skip Spence records.

Growing Faith and When There is a No Crowd

46) Night Beats- S/T- This is whacked out psychedelia of the highest order that is bound to tickle the pleasure centers of your brain.

The Other Side and Little War in the Midwest

47) Mike Watt- Hyphenated Man- In the true spirit of The Minutemen, this album has 30 songs and still clocks in at just over 47 minutes. Short, sharp bursts of unbridled enthusiasm and impressive musicianship all around.

Belled-Stabbed Man and Boot-Wearing-Fish-Man

48)Pure X- Pleasure- Listening to this album is like being on a slow drugged-out psychedelic trip while being showered with shards of sonic shrapnel.

Heavy Air and Easy

49) Wanda Jackson- This Party Ain't Over- She might not have as much spunk now as she used to have on her early records, but this record really packs a visceral punch with mournful country ballads, foot-tapping rockabilly numbers and even a spirited yodeling track to close out this surprisingly great record.

Rip It Up and Blue Yodel #6

50) Tinariwen- Tassili- With guest stars like TV and the Radio and Dirty Dozen Brass Band, I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this album. What I got was a pristine recording of acoustic-based desert rock with the rare flourish of electric guitar from Nels Cline on the opening track "Imidiwan Ma Tennam", and a flurry of dixieland style horns on "Ya Messinagh". All in all, this album is absolutely sublime.

Ya Messinagh and  Tenidagh Hegh Djeredjere

Well, that's the end of the list, but when you listen to this much music in one year there is bound to be some great things that were eliminated at the last minute.

The following is a list of honorable mentions for 2011 that just missed the cut:

1) Cass McCombs- Humor Risk
2) Moon Duo- Mazes
3) Sonic Youth - Simon Werner a Disparu
4) Crystal Stilts- In Love With Oblivion
5) Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter- Marble Son
6) The Paperhead- S-T
7) Sex Church-Growing Over
8) Gold Bears- Are you Falling in Love
9) ELZHI- El-Matic
10) UV Race- Homo
11) Charlambides- Exile
12) Dick Diver- New Start Again
13) Mikal Cronin- S-T
14) The Skull Defekts- Peer Amid
15) Thurston Moore- Demolished Thoughts
16) Radiohead- The King of Limbs
17) Eternal Tapestry and Sun Araw- Night Gallery
18) Spits- Kill the Kool
19) Quilts-S-T
20) Mogwai- Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Hope that you find some things on this list that interest you. Have a Happy New Year!

If any of you have Best Albums of 2011 lists that you would like to share, please do so in the comments.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Hear a New World Podcast- Stacks of Wax Vol.12

The latest edition of I Hear a New World is available to download here, and at

This episode of I Hear a New World features a diverse mix of new and used vinyl that I have picked up recently at the Night Owl Record Show and Exiled Records over the past month. Since I have been buying a lot of international music lately, it leans heavily towards this style with a considerable dollop of funk, jazz, spoken work and psychedelic garage rock to even out the flow. Bands featured include Eddie Harris, Erkin Koray, Thee Oh Sees, Ahmad Zahir and Los Destellos.

I would love to hear what you think about the songs featured on this week's episode of I Hear a New World.

Also, stay tuned for my annual Best Music of 2011 list and a Christmas podcast.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sinister Sounds from the Crypt

I am happy to say that this year I am ahead of schedule for once, so you will have at least a week to listen to this year's Halloween mix. This time around, you can expect to hear a diverse assortment of rockabilly,  doo-wop, blues, rock and soul interspersed with snatches of old horror film trailers and spooky noisescapes. I worked on this for many hours this past weekend, and I believe that I have constructed a mix that will be perfect for scaring the bejeesus out of those trick-or treaters beating down your door.

For those of you would like a tracklist for this year's Halloween mix, I will be happy to provide this to you upon request.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Eclectic Grooves celebrated it's 5th birthday yesterday. It's hard to believe that it's been this long, but I've really had a blast sharing thoughts with the readers about new musical discoveries throughout the past 5 years. Here's to 5 more!

This will likely be the last post from me before Halloween, so with that I wish you all a Happy Halloween!

Sinister Sounds from the Crypt

Halloween Redux Part 3

This is the last installment of the Halloween podcasts that are no longer available to download on Podomatic. It was first posted last Halloween, and was split up into two parts due to the length of the mix. As I recall, I was able to comeplete this one earlier in the day on Halloween, as opposed to the previous year where I completed it just before the clock struck midnight.

Here are my notes from last year's post:

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.

I hope you guys enjoy this last update before I post this year's Halloween mix.

Halloween Hodgepodge Part 1

Halloween Hodgepodge Part 2

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Redux Part II

Vincent Price from House on Haunted Hill

Just to get you geared up for the Halloween season, I figured I would keep cranking these out. This one was first featured on Podomatic back in 2009 and is entitled Halloween Hodgepodge. 

I would love to hear what you guys think of these mixes so please drop me a line in the comments.

Again, for those of you who would like a tracklist, I would be happy to provide this upon requset.

Hope this mix gets you in the Halloween spirit!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Redux Part 1

Painting by Edward Gorey from The Gashlycrumb Tinies
Over the next week, I will be featuring Halloween mixes that I have posted over the past few years. These were originally posted on Podomatic, but since my server space is limited I was forced to take them down to make room for the newest episodes. This one was posted back in 2008, and it was entitled House of Horrors 2008. For now, I will be leaving the tracklist up to your imagination, but drop me a line in the comments if you would like the tracklist.

Hope you enjoy this blast from the past!

Until next time... Keep those doors locked and make sure to keep one eye open while sleeping cause you never know what evil may be lurking around the corner. Muwahahaha!

House of Horrors 2008

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Transmissions from the Vinyl Underground

This week, I attended the movie Vinyl: The Alternate Take by Alan Zwieg on Thursday followed by an insightful panel discussion with Terry Currier from Music Millennium, Hisham Mayet from Sublime Frequencies and Eric from Mississipi Records. Then, on Saturday I went to the Night Owl Record Show at the Eagle's Lodge for a couple hours. All in all, it was a pretty exciting week for me!

Alan Zwieg's first feature called Vinyl was about obsessive record collectors whose predilection for hoarding vinyl seems to have impacted their ability to carry on normal relationships with friends and family. While the first edition of Vinyl was mildly entertaining, it mostly depicted the profound sadnesss that these people experienced due to their excessive collecting habits. I felt that Vinyl was too one-sided in it's message that anyone who collects to this extent is an inherently sad and depressed person, as there were no portrayals of the vinyl enthusiast who manages to have a well-balanced and happy life.

With Zwieg's Vinyl: The Alternate Take, he manages to squeeze in a little more positivity amongst all of the darkness. Among the high points of the film are lighthearted moments between a father and son who regularly go out record hunting together and manage to have a good relationship with each other, a twenty-something music freak who talks about the first time he discovered jazz and how it opened up a whole world for him and the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a young black male describing his experience of first discovering the music of Iron Butterfly. In fact, the worst parts of the film are when Zwieg positions himself in front of the camera as he films himself looking into a mirror and continuously fumbles around with the microphone. His realization that rediscovering his favorite albums from his youth (Doors and Blues Magoos) did not give him the same pleasure as rediscovering a friend from the past leads the viewer to believe that he is using music to replace basic foundational needs. If you are looking for a movie that looks at collecting vinyl in a positive light, this is probably not the movie for you. Instead, there is a forthcoming documentary called To Have and To Hold: A Musicmentory that promises to be a much better film that celebrates the medium and the people who champion it.

After the film, I was fortunate to participate in a round-table discussion about producing, manufacturing selling and buying vinyl from the standpoint of the consumer, the record store owners and label heads. It started out slow, but once the panel got warmed up, we were knee deep in a spirited debate about the fate of vinyl as a medium. You couldn't have asked for a better group of music aficionados than the panel that was selected  for the evening with Hisham from the mind blowing international label Sublime Frequencies, Terry Currier, the long time owner of the oldest record store in Portland, Music Millenium and Eric, the owner of the fantastic Mississippi Records record store and label head.

During the discussion, we largely talked about the supply and demand of vinyl, and the fact that vinyl appears to be the only format of music that is showing any signs of life in the music business today. I brought up the point that vinyl has shown a definite resurgence in the past several years, and it doesn't seem logical for a person to run a record store without featuring a substantial used and new vinyl selection. The panel didn't completely agree with me on this, as they were comparing the percentage of today's vinyl sales with that of the heyday of vinyl in the late 60's and 70's. This comparison doesn't seem fair considering that the only format available at the time was vinyl, so it would only make sense that the percentage of vinyl sales was higher then than it is now.

The next part of the discussion revolved around the cost of making vinyl versus the profit margin. Everyone on the panel was in agreement that you put something out on vinyl because it is meaningful to you and not to make a profit, as the costs of producing and manufacturing vinyl grossly outweigh the ability to make a profit on your investment. This is an area that I couldn't remark on as I have not been aware of the actual costs of making records. For the most part, it sounds like the labels want to release vinyl because they deem it to be the best medium to experience music, but it is virtually impossible to make a profit by releasing vinyl solely.

One of the most controversial topics of the night was the argument that music piracy is single-handedly responsible for the demise of the record industry. I personally don't agree with this assessment, as I feel it fails to see the big picture. Over the past decade, the music industry has continuously shot itself in the foot by raising the prices of CD's to the extent that record stores have struggled to supply a product that the comsumers want at an affordable price. As a result, file sharing services such as Napster, Mozilla, Bear Share and Soulseek have emerged to illustrate the point that if the record industry doesn't play nice, the consumers will take the power back.

There were a couple topics that I wanted to bring up which didn't get addressed within this discussion that I would like to talk about now. The first of these that I wanted to address was my personal experience with digital downloading. When I was first introduced to the wonders of Napster, I was starting to grow disinterested in music as a whole. The classic rock radio station in Peoria, IL was hammering the same mundane songs into my head while the so-called alternative radio station was simply playing music which catered to the mainstream listening audeience. Since Peoria didn't have many avenues for buying music, I was left to my own devices.  With Napster, I was able to download music from bands that I had read about in the music zines and then decide if it was good enough to buy from online retailers.  I bought more music because of Napster than I had ever bought in my life. While I realize that I am not the average music enthusiast, I'd be willing to bet that other people have similar stories to share.

The last point of discussion that I wasn't able to address was "What can I do to ensure that record stores and vinyl as a medium continue to flourish throughout my days"? If any of you have ideas for what we can do to ensure this, I am all ears.

Yesterday,with hesitance I attended the bi-annual Night Owl Record Show for the first time. I was primarily hesitant because I had heard horror stories about people pushing you out of the way and being agressive. This was not something that I felt I was mentally prepared for, but I managed to muster up the courage to check this out for myself. We got to the show arouund 5:00, and had to wait in line for about 10 minutes before we were able to enter. Once we got in there, the room was oppressively hot with funky music blaring from the speakers that was almost too loud to hear yourself think.

There were so many people and records in this tiny space that at times I felt a little claustrophobic.  I started searching for wax wherever there was no wait, as some of these spots had 3 people waiting in line. The first place that I checked out was the one that I bought the most records from, as I was caught up in the thrill of being there and couldn't help myself.  Scores from this booth included a first pressing of EPMD's Strictly  Business and Eddie Harris Is it In. 

Then, proceeded to the next booth right around the corner. He had a bunch of amazing records, but they were definitely aware of what their records were worth. I managed to score a Jimi Hendrix w/ Isley Brothers record in VG-EX shape for $14.  Toward the end of my digging expedition, I found a booth that had a treasure trove of rare soul and funk records that had a note attached to each record indicating the hip-hop artists who had sampled it.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to buy much from them because at this point I had already spent a lot of money, but I did get a Hampton Grease Band album in fairly good condition and a Hamza El Din record for very cheap. For the most part, the sellers were helpful and polite which made the experience that much better. I would definitely attend another of these as it was a fun way to spend some time hanging out with people who share a common passion for music.

I would love to hear from any of you about what you think about the current state of music,  as well as what kind of things you think that we as music lovers can do to ensure that music and especially vinyl never goes away?

Stay tuned for a Halloween mix for 2011 as well as re-ups of past Halloween podcasts that are no longer available on Podomatic.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Opening the Doors of Perception

This past June for my birthday, I received a fantastic book from my girlfriend entitled Turn On your Mind by Jim De Rogatis. Within the confines of the book, the author ambitiously strives to effectively present an  overview of the last four decades of psychedelic rock according to his tastes and sensibilities, and he is largely successful at doing so. At roughly over 600 pages, it is a thoroughly researched, painstakingly detailed and thoughtfully constructed opus consisting of lists, further listening recommendations and numerous quotes taken from musicians, producers, writers and other scholars who either experienced psychedelic music firsthand or have taken a specific interest in it over the years. When DeRogatis is firing on all cylinders, it shows in his writing. There is an incredibly insightful introductory chapter that outlines the history of LSD, an in-depth analysis of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd and a highly inspired overview of psychedelia in hip-hop.

While the book is generally successful at summarizing a genre of music as vast as psychedelia, it also offers little information here that will be new to the average psychedelic rock enthusiast. DeRogatis has obviously done his homework, but I feel that he falls short in a couple key areas. In my opinion, the first area where this book failed to meet my expectations was in it's lack of representation of psychedelic music from other countries such as Sweden, Japan, Finland, Brazil and Turkey.   In fact, the only instances where the psychedelic music from other countries factors in is the requisite chapter on U.K. Rock featuring obvious inclusions such as The Zombies, The Soft Machine and The Pretty Things, as well as the chapter dedicated to the German "Krautrock" scene featuring key players such as Can, Neu, Kraftwerk and Faust. While these are fine introductions to Krautrock and Brit-rock for the novice, there is little here for the music freak who is constantly surfing the web or digging in the crates every day for new musical discoveries.

The other problem that I can find with the book is that the author devotes entirely too much space covering artists that most of the general public is already familiar with, such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones and David Bowie.  I can only gather that focusing on these artists was his way of capturing the attention of a more mainstream audience, which is puzzling since most of these folks wouldn't be seeking out a book about psychedelic music in the first place. Instead, he could have explored the depths of underground psychedelia from bands like Bardo Pond, MV&EE, Charlambides, Sun City Girls, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, Flower Travellin Band, Les Rallizes Denudes, SRC and July to name but a few.

One can certainly not fault DeRogatis for failing to cover the "New Garage Revival" since the second edition of this book was pressed in 2003, several years before the burgeoning psychedelic rock scene in San Francisco had taken full flight. The main progenitors of this scene include Thee Oh Sees, Jay Reatard, The Fresh and Onlys, Ty Segall, and Sic Alps, but this list barely scratches the surface of the bands who deserve to be mentioned as being instrumental in spearheading the new psychedelic movement.

Perhaps DeRogatis will issue a third edition of his psychedelic overview to revisit the current music that is taking the psychedelic world by storm. In the meantime, I plan on featuring a series of posts and podcasts discussing the bands featured in Turn On Your Mind that were new discoveries to me, as well as artists that I feel deserved inclusion that were not featured in the book.

Today's inclusion will be a mix of artists that represent the sound of psychedelic hip-hop. I hope that you have enjoyed reading my assessment of Turn On Your Mind, and that you enjoy this mix!

Psychedelic Hip-Hop from the Streets

1) Edan- Polite Meeting Intro- 2:16
2) Mr Lif- Collapse the Walls- 3:06
3) Mos Def- Revelations- 2:03
4) Quasimoto- Closer- 3:02
5) Shabazz Palaces- An Echo From the Hosts that Process Infinitum-3:17
6) Anti Pop Consortium- Timpani- 4:11
7) Count Bass D & Insight- Risk Taker- 2:37
8) Illogic- Hollow Shell (Cash Clutch)- 5:27
9) The Roots- Something in the Way of Things (In Town)- 7:16
10) Digable Planets- La Femme Fetal- 4:35
11) Common- Cold Blooded- 4:58
12) Black Milk- Distortion- 6:21
13) Edan- Time Out (Segue)- 1:07
14) Edan w/ Mr. Lif- Making Planets- 2:54
15) Divine Styler- Livery- 5:03

If any of you know of any other psychedelic hip-hop songs, please let me know in the comments.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Hear a New World Podcast- Stacks of Wax Vol.11

The latest edition of I Hear a New World is available to download here, and at

This episode of I Hear a New World features a diverse selection of music including blues, surf rock, jazz, soul and flamenco. Some of the artists showcased on ths episode include Manitas De Platas, Brian Eno, Dexter Romweber and Lightnin' Hopkins. This is a tasty batch of morsels designed to satisfy the musical cravings of even the stuffiest music critic writing for that flavor of the month rag.

I would love to hear what you think of this week's podcast, so please give me a shout in the comments.

Stacks of Wax Vol.11

1) Manitas De Platas- Tarantas y Bulerias- 5:02
2) Lightnin' Hopkins- Last Night Blues- 5:06
3) Otis Redding- Groovin' Time- 2:46
4) Brian Eno- Back in Judy's Jungle- 5:14
5) David Bowie- Beauty and the Beast- 3:32
6) The Hospitals- Hairdryer Peace- 3:26
7) Dexter Romweber- Cobra Theme 2 Revisited- 3:06
8) Dick Dale- Misirlou Twist- 4:00
9) Dave Holland- Conference of the Birds- 4:34
10)Yiorgias Katsaro's- I Creep Along the Walls- 4:45

Until next time, keep on keepin' on.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Confessions of a Vinyl Junkie

Word on the street is that blogging has become irrelevant thanks to social networking behemoths like Facebook and Twitter. While I don't usually like to agree with bold statements such as this, I would have to agree that these sites have unknowingly contributed to the ever decreasing popularity of the music blog. Over the past couple months alone, I have seen countless bloggers decide to pack it in because there just wasn't enough feedback or interest from the readers.  This can likely be chalked up to our generation's indelible need for instant gratification. Because most people want everything right now in an easily digestible package,  they aren't taking the time to enjoy the simple pleasure of listening to a record in its entirety.

Memories of my first record purchase are fuzzy at best, but I never will forget the euphoric feeling of holding that 12" round cylinder in my hands for the first time. I was mesmerized by the size, shape and feel of the record.  It was probably one of the schmaltzy country records from my Mom and Dad's vinyl collection like Charlie Pride or Eddy Rabbit, but I can't be too sure about the exact artist and title. All I remember is being transfixed by the record as it spun around, filling the room with melodious sound.

Several years would pass before I bought my first record which was probably something like Van Halen Self-Titled, AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap or Queen Greatest Hits. I know it is strange that someone who has such an encyclopedic knowledge of music can forget what record was the first one that they ever bought, but my memory has failed me in this respect. I remember that as I entered the record store for the first time, my hands started tingling and I knew that I had entered an exciting new world with unlimited possibilities. I made my way to the rock section for that specific artist that I had heard on the radio or MTV and started shuffling through the titles slowly so I would be sure to spot the record I sought. Once I located the record, I made my way towards the checkout counter, hoping that the record clerk behind the counter wouldn't judge me on my choice of purchase.

While I stood in line, my palms were sweating and thoughts steadily raced through my mind in anticipation of what the record would sound like. I noticed my heart rate increasing and my knees were weak as I raced home to listen to the record, much like the feeling that comes from a first love. Once I arrived at home,  I took the shrinkwrap off the record with an intensity that is often reserved for someone who plays extreme sports. Then, I gently dropped the needle into the groove of the record and was enraptured by the sound.  The warm crackle of the vinyl filled the room with a sound that could best be described as incendiary. From this day on, I would be eternally devoted to that round plastic disc with magic embedded in the grooves.

The next time you are thinking about selling off your entire record collection so you can digitize everything, please rethink your decision. Listening to vinyl is a precious gift that should not be wasted, and its resurgence is the primary reason that record stores are staying afloat in the digital age. While I certainly have my fair share of music in mp3, FLAC, wav and other digital formats, there is absolutely no substitute for the warm sound of vinyl.

Please support the artists that you love and appreciate so that they can continue to release albums, and when possible, purchase albums from mom and pop record stores instead of from big box retailers like Amazon or Best Buy.

I leave you with this last thought and a link for a record that personifies my love for vinyl.

What was the first record that you ever bought, or you first memory of listening to music?

Until next time, keep you ear to the ground for more choice sounds.

Addendum: By the way, this two part download is not one of my mixes, it's an ode to 78's that was released a couple years ago on the Honest Jons label. I won't give away the title as this is still in print, but please feel free to guess what it is.

For the Love of Vinyl Part 1

For the Love of Vinyl Part 2

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spotify Vs. Pandora

Ever since stumbling upon an article discussing Spotify on the Mercury blog End Hits, I have been obsessively compiling playlists and searching for new music on Spotify like a kid in a candy store. It is currently invite only, but I received my invite within a week of the service launching in the U.S. If you don't want to wait for an invite, you can purchase their premium package for only $4.99 a month. Like any new service, it is imperfect, but what it does offer is well worth it. The cost of the service is free with advertisements for six months,  $4.99 for the premium package with no ads and $9.99 for the mobile version which allows you to access your entire I-tunes library as well as a massive archive of over 15 million tracks from Spotify. While they don't have everything on Spotify, they are adding over a hundred tracks a day. I was surprised that the sound quality is as good as it is for most albums, with only a few things that were under par. So far, I have been using the service for free, and this has generally served my purpose.

My assessment of Spotify Vs. Pandora is that they offer two very different services to the customer. Pandora is, as far as I can tell,  the only service that has the technology to let you choose attributes from a specific song and then generate a playlist based on that song. This feature is great for compiling a mixtape with a certain mood, although Pandora only lets you skip 4 songs in an hour. Once you pass this amount, you are stuck listening to whatever songs they play. I often find myself getting frustrated and turning it off after about a half hour. Also, the pay version of Pandora gets rid of the ads, but you still have the limitation of only being able to skip 4 songs in an hour. These ads usually play every 3-4 songs, and are not related to music at all, so it kind of takes you out of your musical listening experience.

Spotify has the ability to play the entire album and queue up the tracks as if you are playing them from your collection in Itunes, while it is not possible to play the specific track that you want to hear in Pandora. Another interesting feature of Spotify is that you can easily share the playlists that you have created in Spotify with your friends on Facebook. I haven't opted to share my playlists yet, as I am still evaluating the service, but I imagine that I will enjoy this feature once I do start sharing my playlists with others.

There have been some albums that I have been unable to find on the internet and on Soulseek, but I was able to locate these on Spotify. I had been looking for a hip-hop record from 2009 called Ill Mondo featuring Neal Rames. After searching on Google and Soulseek to no avail, I found it on Spotify in really excellent sound quality. I can definitely see the benefit of using a service like this especially for finding new music, and it would be really useful for listening to an album without having to download it to see if you like it. The main downfall I can see with Spotify is that if the service goes under you will lose all your music. 

I found it very useful when trying to check out a bunch of songs for a themed-mix tape that I have been working on lately. In the past, I would have gone to Soulseek and downloaded all of the songs, only to find that a couple really fit the mix. Also, I had fun doing label searches for indie labels like Merge, Teenbeat, Tzadik, Matador and Fat Possum. Once you type in label followed by a colon and then the the label name, it brings up the entire library for that label that is currently available on Spotify.  Therefore it should be used in addition to the other myriad methods of finding and purchasing music.

Overall, I have really been digging Spotify, and wanted to let you all know about it. While it is definitely not a substitute for rare music blogs, it does provide music listeners with a vast archive of music to choose from. 

Here is a list of awesome sites to get the most out of Spotify:

The main homepage for Spotify featuring many useful tips and tricks that will put you well on your way to fully enjoying the service

Spotibot- allows you to type in an artist's name and then it generates a playlist based on this artist

Essential Spotify Tools-
List of tools that you can use to enhance your Spotify experience

Share My Playlist-
A massive archive of the top playlists on Spotify

Spotify links based on recommendations and recent reviews from Pitchfork, Boomkat and Discogs

Seemingly endless archive of new releases on Spotify with a focus on indie, experimental and folk music

Pansentient League- New On Spotify-
A great way to find new releases on Spotify as there is currently no way to do a search for recent things added to Spotify

Spotify Labels-
A clickable list of every label available on Spotify that automatically generates a playlist of every song on the label

This should get you well on your way to enjoying the benefits of Spotify!

I will be back soon with a new Choice Cuts post as well as a new podcast.

Addendum: If anyone would like an invite to Spotify, I can hook you up. Just comment here and let me know that you are interested.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Hear a New World Podcast- Stacks of Wax Vol.10

I know that things haven't exactly been jumping on the blog lately, but I have been facing multiple challenges over the past two months that have prevented me from posting. I swear to you it's not because I'm basking in the sunlight every day, because our summer in Oregon hasn't been anything to write home about so far.

Since I have been purchasing a lot more vinyl than CD's recently, I figured now would be the perfect time to do another Stacks of Wax podcast to share my latest treasures. Among my recent purchases are the double vinyl set Light: On the South Side, Castle Face Group Flex ( with five flexi discs built into a fully playable spiral bound book), Thurston Moore- Built For Lovin' (Limited edition) and Hush Arbors- Alive (2 album live set- limited to 1000). The only one of these that I can't fully stand behind is Thurston Moore- Built For Lovin, though it may grow on me with further listens.

The latest edition of I Hear a New World is available to download here, and at

This episode of Stacks of Wax runs the gamut from psychedelic garage rock to trance-inducing Ethiopian soul. Some of the bands showcased on this podcast include Thee Oh Sees, The Fresh and Onlys, Bobby Rush, Getactchew Mekurya and Stark Reality.

I hope that you enjoy this episode of Stacks of Wax, and I would love to hear what you think about it.

Stacks of Wax Vol.10

1) Ornette Coleman- Lonely Woman
2) Stark Reality-  The Junkman's Song
3) Madlib- Raw Introduction to Afreaka
4) Group Doueh- Waydan
5) The Fresh and Onlys- Flexi disc- When Are you Gonna Grow Up w/ Only Happy When You Know
6) Bobby Rush- Bowlegged Woman Knock Kneed Man
7) Getatchew Mekurya- Almaz Yeharerwa
8) Thurston Moore- Anticipated Action
9) Hush Arbors- Fast Asleep
10) Ty Segall- Comfortable Home ( A True Story)
11) Thee Oh Sees- Burning Spear w/ What You Need (The Porch Boogie Thing)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Mix 2011

Well, it's been close to a month since I last posted on here about a summer mix being right around the corner. It just depends on what your definition of right around the corner is. Primarily, I used this time to prepare the tracks for my latest summer mix entitled Waves of Inspiration. I put my blood, sweat and tears into this one so I hope you all enjoy it. Hopefully, I can resume to posting on a more regular basis, although I may be too busy soaking up rays of sunshine. Until next time, grab a cold one, throw some steaks on the barbecue and take in the eclectic sounds of summer.

Without further ado, I present to you the track list for this year's summer mix.

Waves of Inspiration

1) Opening Waves- :30
2) Satan's Pilgrim's- Que Honda- 2:45
3) Octopus- Summer- 3:00
4) The Breeders- Saints- 2:32
5) Jack McDuff- Hot Barbecue- 2:56
6 ) The Chakachas- Hot Hands- 2:35
7) Beck- Sissyneck- 3:52
8) Laghonia- Neighbor- 3:24
9) Ray & His Court- De Eso Nada Monada- 3:16
10) Jurassic Five- Concrete Schoolyard- 4:07
11) Wendy Rene- Bar-B-Q- 2:27
12) Cymande- Bra- 5:04
13) Toots and the Maytals- Hold On- 2:34
14) The Clean- Tally Ho- 2:39
15) Thee Oh Sees- Rainbow- 1:43
16) Dick Dale- Surf Beat- 2:57
17) Preston Love- Cool Ade- 2:02
18) Eddie Bo- Lover and a Friend- 2:27
19) Black Sheep- Elevation- 3:53
20) David Ze- Uma Amiga- 2:37
21) Donovan- Sunshine Superman- 3:29
22) Beach Fossils- Vacation- 3:45
23) Christmas Island- Blackout Summer- 2:48
24) The Kinks- Picture Book- 2:35
25) Eddy Current Suppression Ring- Rush to Relax

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Fuzz-Funk Friday

Over the past several months, my normal night to post on the blog has been Thursdays, but this is about to change after two more weeks. Since my posts don't usually reach people from other sectors of the world until Friday anyway, I figured I would call this post "Fuzz Funk Friday".

For those of you who don't know, "fuzz-funk" is that type of funk that features guitar and/or bass that has been filtered through a fuzzbox. According to Wikipedia a fuzzbox "alters an audio signal until it is nearly a square wave and adds complex overtones by way of a frequency multiplier". Put in laymnan terms, it simply creates a warm buzzing sound that amplifies the normal sound of the guitar, creating interesting sonic textures that are pleasing to the ear. I have found many songs to be more palatable simply because they have a little fuzz guitar added to the mix.

Today's post contains a funky fuzz gem from Curly Davis and the Uniques called "Black Cobra Part 2".  This song was featured on the fantastic compilation called Chains and Black Exhaust that was originally released in 2002 on the Memphix label. Due to the compilation's popularity, it went out of print almost immediately. Six years later it was reissued on the same label sans the Iron Knowledge track "Showstopper", only to go out-of-print quickly once again. The Curly Davis track is an absolute mind-melting instrumental with screaming fuzz guitar laid over a bed of greasy bass and frenetic drums. It takes off like a rocketship from the get-go and only lets up in the middle of the song for a short drum break that has likely been sampled by a crate digger like Peanut Butter Wolf or Madlib. Despite this break, the track never loses steam, as it picks up where it left off with a funky wah-wah rhythm played over the top of a blistering fuzz guitar solo. I had to pick my mouth up off the floor after listening to this track.

Curly Davis and the Uniques- Black Cobra Part II

RIYL- Jimi Hendrix, Black Merda, James Knight and the Butlers

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thee Oh Sees- Music Fest NW 2010

It has been about a week since I posted on here, and during this time I have been diligently working on compiling the tracks for a summer-themed mix for 2011.   Back in 2003, I compiled a summer mix that was recorded before I started Eclectic Grooves, so this will be the first official summer mix to be featured on the blog.  Be on the lookout for this to be dropping on here just in time to enjoy these tunes with the windows rolled down and the summer breeze blowing through your hair.

In other news,  I have been working out the logistics for another series to debut on Eclectic Grooves where I will be featuring posts about the music blogs and record labels that are currently blowing my mind.  For the posts on the record labels, I will be featuring a few songs that truly capture the essence of the label, and will hopefully encourage people to purchase music released on these labels.

Well, I know you have been patiently waiting for today's offering, so I will get on with it. Anyone who checks out this blog on a regular basis knows that I am one of the biggest Thee Oh Sees freaks out there. I can't say enough good things about this band, or explain what their music means to me in words that do the band justice. But I will continue to sing their praises on here to hopefully spread the word to the masses about their electrifying live show and seemingly bottomless well of brilliant recordings. Having just released their latest batch of hyper-melodic summer jams that comprise the increasingly addictive Castlemania, I figured that it would be apropos to feature a recording of their performance at the Doug Fir Lounge during MusicFest NW in Portland. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend this show because I was still working, but I was able to bob along to their incredible set of primal garage rock as I streamed the entire show with one earpiece while taking phone calls with the other ear.

I won't give a track by track review of the performance, but I will tell you that this is probably one of the best recordings I have ever heard from Thee Oh Sees. The sound quality is crisp and there are virtually no dropouts in sound which makes for an utterly enjoyable listening experience. As far as the setlist, they played a couple oldies, (which by Oh Sees standards means songs from the album released last year) but seemed to focus largely on a bevy of lesser known songs that still had the whole crowd bouncing and gyrating like wild banshees on acid. The entire band was pretty much firing on all cylinders from the time John Dwyer's hand pounded out the first chord of the evening. At times, while listening to this show, I found an uncontrollable urge to jump around and dance to the music. This, my friends, is the greatest compliment that could ever be paid to a band who clearly prides themselves on giving the audience everything they've got.  Even at a mere 32 minutes, this is an incredibly satisfying performance.

This was originally streamed by KEXP radio, but I have captured this performance in Audacity and saved it in mp3 format. The tracks have not been separated, but I am sure that you can do that if you so desire. I hope you enjoy the show!

Thee Oh Sees- Doug Fir Lounge- 9-10/10

1) Crushed Grass
2) Contraption/Soul Desert
3) Meat Step Lively
4) The Dream
5) Enemy Destruct
6) Tidal Wave
7) Crack In Your Eye

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rediscoveries of Lost Gems- A New Beginning

Most of you have probably noticed that there have been some changes on Eclectic Grooves over the past week. Recently my girlfriend dropped a thought in my mind that promoting my blog on Facebook might not be such a bad idea. I have been reluctant to make this move for various reasons, but I have finally decided that it is time to give in to the gods of social media and just do this. If you feel so inclined to help me generate more interest in the blog, please click on the Facebook "like" button at the bottom of the posts to let your friends know that you enjoy that particular post. If enough people do this, it could seriously generate some interest in the blog and inspire more conversation among music lovers across the world.

In addition to this, you will notice that there is a new plug-in on the blog called Networked Blogs. I needed to add this in order to get my blog post announcements to appear on Facebook. Apparently it is possible to remove this after the blog has been successfully registered with the site, but I think I will keep it on here for the time being. It seems to be a good way to gauge how many people are ccurrently following the blog. To those of you who have already chosen to follow the blog with Networked Blogs, I really appreciate your help with exposing my blog to a wider audience.
Now, on to today's music.  I have been tossing around the idea of reintroducing the Rediscoveries of Lost Gems series that was initially started a couple years ago on Eclectic Grooves. The purpose of this series is to celebrate audio relics from the past that were generally underappreciated by the listening public when they were first released. My original inclination was to feature only albums that are out-of print or extremely rare so I don't get the RIAA breathing down my neck. However, I have recently decided to feature some commercially available albums that will be available to download for one week only. Since these links will expire after a short time-frame, you will want to check back often to make sure that you don't miss out on the goods.

Todays lost gem is Guru Guru''s 1971 sonic behemoth of an album entitled UFO.  I scoured the web to see if this one is out-of print,  and I was unable to find anything to the contrary.  With this being the case, I will keep this album posted indefinitely for your listening pleasure.

From the opening notes of slow burner "Stone In",  it is evident to me that 90% of the stoner rock bands owe a huge debt to these crazy Kraut rockers.  On this track, pounding, relentless drums serve as the backbone to the acid-soaked guitar frenzy of lead guitarist Ax Genrich. This segueways into "Girl Call" , with blistering solos riding over the top of a mellow groove that eventually rises to a crescendo that is unparalleled by most psychedelic rock that's been released since. On the middle track of the album, "Next Time See You at the Dalai Lhama", they slightly toned down the guitar solos in favor of a sturm and drang rhythm that closes with unintelligible chanting over tribal drums that sound like they came from an Alan Lomax field recording.  The next two songs take up more than half the record, with the epic title track finding the group playing with a more improvisational sound that is reminiscent of the sound of a rocket taking off at full speed with scorching feedback and rumbling percussion.  The album closes with another propulsive guitar jam, "Der LSD- Marsch", which starts out slow, features a jazzy drum solo in the middle and finishes with an incendiary solo that could literally melt your turntable.

I hope you enjoy this album, and be on the lookout for more Rediscoveries of Lost Gems.

Guru Guru- UFO

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Hear a New World- Eclectic Mishmash

The latest edition of I Hear a New World is available for download here, and at

Over the past year, I have been primarily taking songs from my vinyl collection to compile the podcasts and using an Olympus portable recorder to do this. The sound quality of these podcasts has been sort of lackluster since the microphone input isn't plugged directly into the stereo source. Because of this, I have decided to start doing podcasts compiling songs from my extensive digital library for awhile. I will return to the Stacks of Wax format as I purchase more vinyl and have new things to share with you.

This edition of I Hear a New World was originally compiled a few years ago, but it is only being fully realized during this moment. I used to listen to lots of music while I was hanging out in my apartment and would create extemporaneous mixes that seemed to have a specific flow to them. This was the result of one of these sessions where I wrote down the tracklist, but hadn't ever put the tracks together in a folder on my computer. It took a little while to get this one compiled, but it has finally come to fruition.  I hope that you enjoy this mix!

Please see the complete tracklist below:

Eclectic Mishmash

Papa M- Vivea- 7:54
Islaja- Aallot Ja aanet- 4:34
Jack Rose- Sunflower River Blues- 3:22
Hobart Smith- John Green’s Two Step- 2:22
Califone- Spider’s House- 3:47
The Mad Lads- Get Out of my Life Woman- 3:07
The Heptones- Got to Fight Onn- 7:21
The Roots- Game Theory- 4:03
The Last Poets- True Blues- 2:03
Arthur Jones- Brother B- 7:21

Please give me a shout in the comments to let me know what you think about this week's edition of I Hear a New World.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Choice Cuts- The Premiere

I know that you have all been patiently awaiting the next post on Eclectic Grooves, so I hope that this one is more than worth the wait. Over the past couple months, I have been painstakingly working on a couple new series that will serve as a replacement for the now defunct Plain Brown Wrappers and What's Playing on My Stereo.  My plans are to revitalize the somewhat successful Rediscoveries of Lost Gems series with some incredibly mind-bending sonic trips into the great unknown. The albums featured in this series will be extremely rare or out of  print, and will only be available for a limited time. Hopefully this will increase the interest in the blog, and encourage readers to stop by more often to make sure that they aren't missing out on these rare gems. Also, another coal that I have on the fires is an ongoing post featuring live shows that I have amassed over many years of downloading from various sources on the internet such as Dime-A-Dozen, Soulseek and live sharity blogs. I'm not sure exactly when this series will premiere, but I envision this to be in the near-future.

Last, after many months of weighing my options, I have finally decided that it is in my best interest to focus my efforts on Eclectic Grooves, and I will no longer be a contributing writer on Ear Fuzz. Writing for Ear Fuzz over the past few years has been a great deal of fun, and I am genuinely thankful for the opportunity to work with such a diversely talented and professional group of writers, but it is time for me to move on to new avenues.  What all of this means is that I plan on having more time and energy to dedicate towards more regular posting and updates on what's going on in my world. If this revitalizes the interest in Eclectic Grooves and encourages readers to comment more often, then it's a win-win situation.  

With that being said, I introduce my latest venture into unknown sonic realms with a new series called Choice Cuts which focuses on classic tracks that can't be easily shaken from the cerebral cortex. Each time, I will be featuring 3-4 sizzling and succulent morsels that are grabbing my ear right now that range from funk to country, from afro-beat to garage rock, etc. Sometimes there will be a theme to these songs that ties them all together in a nice bow, but other times the songs featured will just be a musical hodgepodge of eclectic delights. Without further ado, lets see what "choice cuts" the vinyl butcher has prepared for us today:

From: Free Your Mind [Now Again Records, 2007]

Released almost 34 years after they had likely languished in a dusty storage facility, these previously unissued tracks from Amnesty were finally given the treatment they deserve. Amnesty's opening track is a mind-blower,  featuring an opening motif that leads you to believe you are about to delve into the quiet storm for the duration, only to pull the rug out from underneath you with a sticky funk-groove at the one minute mark. The musicianship on this track is stellar, with complex basslines, horn charts that soar and melodic group vocals that rise over the top of everything like classic soul with a serious jazz bent. I was telling a friend of mine that this song would be the perfect introduction to Choice Cuts, as it is like a trip, a sonic journey that travels along many disparate musical excursions along the way, while maintaining a strong and soulful backbone that keeps the listener coming back for more. If I seem a little bit long winded about this one, it's because I'm trying to catch my breath.

Eddy Senay: Zambezi
From: Hot Thang [Sussex, 1972]

I downloaded this album from one of the soul-funk sharity blogs ages ago, and filed it away to listen to at a later date. A few weeks ago, while playing my I-phone on random, "Zambezi, " finally graced my eardrums and I knew that it was a perfect track to feature on Choice Cuts.  Starting with a Meters-esque groove is usually a solid bet, but the stunning wah-wah guitar playing coupled with a killer hammond organ groove is what sold it to me. Again, the musicianship is stellar, and this instrumental track will have you burning a hole in the carpet of your living room while you grind to this infectious track.

African Brothers: Sakatumbe
From: Ghana Soundz Vol 2 - Afro Beat, Funk And Fusion In 70's Ghana [Soundway, 2004]

I was so taken by the sound of this song that I searched tirelessly for other material by the African Brothers that was of this caliber. While I was able to locate other albums by the African Brothers, nothing seemed to compare to the electrifying excitement of this track.  The opening breakbeat definitely gets the party started on the right foot, but it's the undulating, free-flowing afro-beat rhythms that manage to keep your feet tapping to the groove. There is a slight change in the tempo at around the 2 minute mark that reveals a secret affinity for the classic JB's breakdowns from the old-school, only to return to the relentless funk once again. Towards the end of the track, lead singer Nana Ampadu showcases his skills of channeling the classic ear-piercing scream that was a foundation of James Brown's early funk material. Overal, this track is a burner that will have you reaching for that repeat button.

I hope you have enjoyed the first episode of Choice Cuts. I would greatly appreciate any feedback that you have on this new series, as it is helpful to me in planning material for future posts.

Until next time...