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...