Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Honorable mentions, Compilations, Reissues and Ep's of 2013

As promised, here is my list of favorite records that barely missed the cut, compilations, reissues and ep's. I hope that you find some things on here that are to your liking.

Happy New Year!

Honorable Mentions

1) Bill Callahan- Dream River
2) Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears- Electric Slave

3) Day Ravies- Tussle
4) Jeffrey Novak- Lemon Kid
5) Magik Markers- Surrender to the Fantasy
6) Sebadoh- Defend Yourself
7) Steve Gunn- Time Off
8) The Liminanas- Costa Blanca
9) No Joy- Wait to Pleasure
10) Mike Donovan- Wot
11) The Shivas- Whiteout
12) Dirty Beaches- Drifter/Love is the Devil
13) Retribution Gospel Choir- 3
14) Follakzoid- II
15) Charlie Megira and the Modern Dance Club- Love Police
16) The Spyrals- Out of Sight
17) Mdou-Moctar- Afelan
18) Kurt Vile- Wakin' On a Pretty Daze
19) Julian Lynch- Lines
20) Girls Names- The New Life
21) Ghostface Killah- 12 Reasons to Die
23) Tape Deck Mountain- Sway
24) Akron Family- Sub Verses
25) Pond- Hobo Rocket

Compilations

1) Enjoy the Experience Homemade Records 1958-1992 (Now-Again Records)
2) Good God! Apocryphal Hymns (Numero Group)
3) Pop Yeh Yeh Psychedelic Rock From Singapore & Malaysia 1964-1970 - Vol 1 (Sublime Frequencies)
4) William Onyeabor- Who is William Onyeabor? ( Luaka Bop)
5) Thee Oh Sees- Singles Collection Vol.3 (Castleface Records)
6) Codeine- What About the Lonely (Numero Group)
7) Unowund- Kid Is Gone- (Numero Group)
8) Upstream Color- Original Motion Picture Score
9) Kenya Special Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & '80s (Soundway)
10) Scattered Melodies Korean Kayagum Sanjo from 78rpm Records (Sublime Frequencies)

Reissues

1) Hailu Mergia - Hailu Mergia and His Classical Instrument
2) Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels
3) Lena Hughes - Queen of the Flat Top Guitar
4) The Herms - drop out vol.1
5) Chance- In Search
6) Dark- Round the Edges
7) Otis G. Johnson- Everything: God Is Love
8) Victor Dimisch Band- S-T
9) Robbie Basho - Visions of the Country
10) Scott key- This Forest and the Sea

Singles and EP's

1) La Luz- Brainwash 7"
2) Cate Le Bon- Cyrk 2
3) Parquet Courts- Tally all the Things That you Broke
4) Sic Alps- She's On Top 7"
5) Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Blue Record EP
6) Angel Olsen- Sleepwalker 7"
7) Soft Healer- S-T
8) Alex Calder- Time
9) Kim Deal- Walking with a Killer 7"
10) Mmoss w/ Quilt- New Hampshire Freaks


Friday, December 27, 2013

Favorite Albums of 2013

It's once again that time of year where I listen solely to records that I have bought or downloaded that were released in 2013. This year, it was going to be different. I already had been working on a list several months ago, and I had planned to have most of my post written a couple months before the year-end lists from magazines and music blogs were posted on the internet. By doing this, I could look through the other year-end lists to see if there were any records that slipped below my radar, and that warranted a spot on my list.

Sadly, the universe had other plans for me. Starting in late September, I started to experience neck and back pain which didn't get better for 2-3 weeks. Then, I got a terrible cold that lasted over a month, leading into a period of fatigue that left me with no energy to do much of anything. Needless to say, my brain could barely function at the level necessary to do my job,  let alone to write reviews of my favorite albums of 2013. After late October, I thought to myself that maybe I could begin to work on this post, but then I was diagnosed with an acute infection that lasted through the entire month of November. Thankfully, the symptoms of my infection have recently subsided, and during the last week I found some time to review the albums that I had set aside for further listening.

Since my list is longer than last year, I will only be featuring abbreviated descriptions of the record. Also, there will not be any mp3's to accompany the list. If any of you are interested in hearing the artists featured on my list, please drop me a line in the comments. I would be happy to upload songs to a file-sharing service like Dropbox or Zippyshare per request.

In the interest of time, I will sum up my assessment of the the year in music in 2013 in a couple sentences. It was a bountiful year for new music, with so much music released that I couldn't keep up with listening to it all. In my opinion, it was the year that females dominated the music world, releasing more fantastic music than any other year in the past decade. Every genre from folk to shoegaze, from country to noise rock featured a female in a prominent role in the band. In closing, for those of you who say there was no good music released in 2013, I say that you simply weren't listening hard enough.

This list is in no way meant to be the representation of the mainstream lists that you would find on sites like Spin or Pitchfork. The selections are not ranked in any specific order, and they are not grouped together by genre. I hope that you are able to discover some new music in this list that brings a smile to your face this holiday season.

Favorite Albums of 2013

1)Unknown Mortal Orchestra- II- While II doesn't showcase the virtuosic guitar solos of Ruban Nielsen, it is clearly a bold step forward from their self-titled debut. It's chock-full of reverb-heavy psychedelic ear worms that will soundtrack your dreams, and run through your mind on repeat. Highly recommended!

2) Bombino- Nomad-When I heard that Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys produced this record, I expected it to be watered-down and overproduced like the last two Black Keys records. I was happily surprised to discover that Auerbach eased up on the controls, and simply let Bombino's stellar guitar playing shine through.

3) Thee Oh Sees- Floating Coffin- After finding out this past Friday that Thee Oh Sees is going on an "indefinite hiatus, Floating Coffin could prove to be their swan song. The pummel and throb from previous records is here in spades, but there is a more pervasive darkness present in the lyrics and melodies that might have been a clue as to the underlying tension going on between the band members. I hope this isn't the end of the band's output, but if it is, they certainly went out on a high note.

4) Deerhunter- Monomania- After the supple, overproduced Halcyon Digest, Monomania is a welcome return to the sound of their earlier output.  Amongst the guitars and distortion pedals cranked to eleven are true leaps in songwriting like "Pensacola" and "T.H.M.", as well as the classic Deerhunter sound of "Punk". On Monomania, the band have shed their inhibitions, and decided to do an album they wanted to do despite everyone else's expectations.

5) Alela Diane- About Forever- Lamenting lost love has been a common theme in the pantheon of popular music, but never has it been painted with such a vivid brush stroke as on this heartbreaking collection of folk songs.

6) Plankton Wat- Drifter's Temple- When Dewey told me that he was no longer a member of Eternal Tapestry, I experienced deep feelings of regret that I passed up the chance to see them the last time they played in Portland. Rest assured, Dewey is still playing music, and he has definitely not pulled any punches on Drifters Temple. This is the perfect record to put on at the end of the evening when you are reflecting about the day's rewards, holding on to the vision of a brighter day.

7) My Bloody Valentine- MBV- After the longest wait for a follow-up record in the history of music, Kevin Shields dropped an unmitigated bomb on his legion of fans. With little notice that a new album would be coming out, he posted a message about the new album release on the bands Facebook page and homepage that systematically brought the band's webpage to a grinding halt. Frenzied MBV fans everywhere were frantically scrambling to listen, download and purchase the record, only to be sent home with their tail between their legs. Enough about the hype surrounding the record, the resulting album is an astonishing representation of the classic MBV sound without simply being a retread of old ideas.

8) Ruby Pins-S-T- Ominous, creepy post-punk from Grass Widow's drummer Lilian Maring that will literally get under your skin.

9) Bonnie Prince Billy- S-T-  The latest long player from Bonnie Prince Billy is probably the closest Will Oldham has ever gotten to the intimacy and heart-wrenching sadness of Master and Servant, and this is definitely a good thing.

10) Ty Segall- Sleeper- While the songs on Segall's latest are mostly acoustic based, I assure you that these songs will not put you to sleep. Segall has managed to craft a superb collection of songs that encapsulate his feelings about his stepfather's recent passing as well as his estranged relationship with his mother. You might say that this is an unprecedented move for a garage rock icon like Segall, but he has always forged his own path.

11) Ghost Ease- S-T- Sludgy female power trio from Portland, OR that channels the sound of Cat Power circa "What Would the Community Think" back when Chan was creating vital music that had a palpable sense of desperation and longing.

12) Beaches- She Beats- With a band named Beaches, you would probably expect to hear sun-dappled vocals that are primed and ready for your latest summer sojourn. With the addition of guest guitarist Michael Rother of Neu, the band have managed to juxtapose sunny vocal harmonies with hypnotic, metronomic kraut-rock grooves.

13) Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba- Jama Ko- The Ngoni is a West African lute, but no one has played this instrument with as much intensity as Kouyate. Throughout multiple songs on Jama Ko, he runs his Ngoni through an amplified wah-wah pedal for an effect that is nothing short of exhilerating. If you have been looking for the Malian Jimi Hendrix, your search is over.

14) Maston- Shadows- If I hadn't known any better, I would have thought this was a lost soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. Layered, psychedelic pop with a veritable assortment of instruments all played by Frank Maston- brass, woodwinds, organs, piano and guitar.

15) Sun Angle- Diamond Junk- This is the debut record from Portland supergroup consisting of Charlie Salas Humara (Grapefruit, Panther, The Planet The), Papi Fimbres (Orquestra Pacifico Tropicale, O Bruxo) and Marius Libman (Copy). On Diamond Junk, the band was able to emulate the creative energy from their live show, adding on layers of guitars and drums that culminate in an unholy marriage of melody and dissonance.

16) The Mallard- Finding Meaning in Deference-  Greer McGettrick, the frontwoman and chief songwriter of San Francisco's the Mallard decided to pull the plug on the band a couple months before the release of Finding Meaning in Deference in July. Post-punk that goes for the jugular never sounded so enticing, and it gets better with each successive listen.

17) Cheap Time- Exit Smiles- Cheap Time was on my list last year as well, and it's quite telling that it earned its spot despite the record just getting released a month ago. If you like snotty, garage punk rock that's creatively off the chain, you will find plenty to dig into here.

18) Coke Weed- Back to Soft- There is enough here to remind you of slacker rock from the 90's, the sort that Pavement cranked out like they were on a conveyor built in a factory. But, there are also solid melodies from both vocalists that will remain etched on your memory for quite some time, along with a few killer guitar solos that remind you of the band's fondness for classic rock.

19)Fuzz- S-T- Segall's latest release doesn't even feature him on lead guitar, and it still holds up as one of the most essential albums of the year. On Fuzz's self-titled debut, Segall ferociously pounds the skins while Charlie Moonheart plays the sludgy guitar riffs that recall the intensity of Segall's Slaughterhouse. The main difference is that many of the songs on Fuzz feature slow-burn tempos and extended guitar solos where most of the tracks on Slaughterhouse were under 4 minutes. In any event, this is a powerful, skull-crushing record.

20) Juana Molina- Wed 21- Ever since hearing Molina's last record Un Dia, I have been waiting with baited breath for her latest release Wed 21. Her albums are generally categorized as electronic, but to me this is very intelligent, complex avant garde music. Undulating rhythms and psychedelic sound effects provide the backdrop to Molina's hypnotic vocals.

21) Blouse- Imperium- Since adding Jake Portrait (bassist from Unknown Mortal Orchestra) to its lineup, this Portland quartet has decided to dial back the synths that pervaded the first album in favor of a more traditional post-punk sound. What results is an album that flows perfectly from beginning to end.

22) Useless Eaters- Hypertension- On Useless Eaters' latest long player they have mostly traded in the lo-fi gritty sound for a considerably cleaned-up post-punk feel. Guitar solos are allowed to stretch much further than previous records, making this an epic post-punk record for the ages.

23) La Luz- It's Alive- If David Lynch owned a bar in a seedy neighborhood in Hollywood, it would likely have red curtains, black walls and La Luz would be the house band.

24)  Charles Bradley- Victim of Love- While this record isn't perfect from beginning to end like No Time For Dreaming, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone else playing timeless, old-school soul of this caliber.

25) Desert Heat- Cat Mask at Huggie Temple- Even though I was late to the party, this fantastic collaboration between Steve Gunn, John Truscinski and Cian Nugent is one of my favorite discoveries of the year. The first time I heard this record, I closed my eyes and rode the hypnotic groove to the end.

26) Benoit Pioulard- Hymnal- I featured Pioulard's Lasted on one of my previous year-end lists, so it probably comes as no surprise that this record would be on here. At times both beautiful and haunting, this record is mainly mellow atmospheric rock with elements of noise and drone creeping in when you least expect it.

27) Cate Le Bon- Mug Museum- Once you get past the idea that this is not an exact replica of her last album Cyrk, the intricate guitar lines and melodies will slowly but surely become embedded on your cerebral cortex. Part of it sounds like Television's debut record minus the epic guitar solos, and the other half sounds like Nico playing with a theatrical avant garde troupe.

28) Marisa Anderson- Mercury- This time around Marisa has shed a lot of the reverb and echo that permeated The Golden Hour, and focused on the intricate finger-picking style of classic American Primitive like John Fahey or Robbie Basho. What results is a beautiful, mellow record that is perfect for early morning reflection.

29)White Fence- Cyclops Reap-  Tim Presley's latest is more of a focused effort than last year's Family Perfume Vol.1 and Vol.2. It employs all of the recording tricks of 60's psychedelia like panning from left to right, drop-outs, reverb and tremelo, all while crafting  splendid songs that conjure the present as well as the past. This is yet another amazing release from Castleface records this year, proving that these guys can do no wrong.

30) Ka- The Night's Gambit- In a year where the hip-hop landscape was largely dominated by egomaniacs like Kanye and Drake, discovering this album was a cleansing breath of fresh air. Ka's gritty, low-key flow on The Night's Gambit is simply stunning, and once you start analyzing the lyrics, it's clear that Ka is light years beyond the average rapper. 

31) Mostly Other People Do the Killing- Slippery Rock- On Moppa's latest release, he plants his tongue firmly in cheek while exploring the sound of the sterile 80's jazz scene. What's astonishing is that he is able to reference the 80's jazz sound while injecting full-tilt free jazz improvisations. As usual, the musicianship is top-notch, and the band is clearly enjoying every minute of it.

32) Houndstooth- Ride out the Dark- I think I have more Portland bands on this list than any previous years which speaks volumes about the breadth of talent that permeates the basements, coffeehouses, dives and clubs throughout the city.  What Houndstooth manages to do on Ride Out the Dark is to distill the essence of Crazy Horse-style jams into bite-size chunks, whilst evoking a desert-scorched Americana vibe.

33) Josephine Foster- I'm a Dreamer- Foster's latest record finds her tackling the sound of Tin Pan Alley jazz, country and folk, ably backed by a team of stellar Nashville session musicians.

34)  Fire- Without Noticing- I'll be the first to admit that most contemporary jazz hasn't been grabbing me lately, but the latest project from The Thing's Mats Gustafson is an experimentally adventurous record that touches on the cornerstones of free jazz, rock and noise without assaulting your ears, all the while leaving plenty of space for the music to breathe.

35) Chris Forsyth- Solar Motel- I first discovered this record while reading the review for it on Aquarium Drunkard's year-end list, and my curiosity was instantly peaked. Upon first listen, I was so floored by the opening track that I found myself frantically fidgeting in my chair. This is epic psychedelia that incrementally builds until it seems like everything is going to fall apart, yet somehow it manages to hold it all together.

36) The Heliocentrics- 13 Degrees of Reality- The latest recording from the band who collaborated with Mulatu Astatke is clearly a more unhinged affair. Psychedelic instrumentation is juxtaposed with krautrock, free jazz, electronic and esoteric spoken-word samples, all forming a truly mind expanding stereophonic experience.

37) Night Beats- Sonic Bloom- On Night Beats' latest platter, they have created a trance-inducing garage record stacked with so much reverb and echo it would make Link Wray blush.

38) Bishop Nehru- Nehruvia- Even though I don't think the production on this record is varied enough to hold the attention of most listeners, the rhymes on Bishop's debut record are incredibly complex for someone who is barely old enough to drive. Think of a less polished Joey Bada$$ channeling the creative energy of the golden-era hip-hop from the early 90's.

39) Yuppies- S-T- With a band name like Yuppies, I didn't really know what to expect. What transpired was a short, sharp and ferocious record with the primal energy of punk rock mixed with free jazz. Each song starts off at one point, only to end up at a completely different musical destination than the listener is expecting.

40) The Sign of Four- Hammer Anvil, Stirrup- Fittingly, this is a new signing to the predominantly reissue label Jazzman records that fits right into the same creative melting pot as a lot of the funky instrumental jazz-funk of the 70's. If I listened to this record without knowing the date it was recorded, I would have thought that it was an undiscovered private press record that had flown below the radar of everyone except DJ's with the most esoteric taste in samples.

41) Cian Nugent and the Cosmos- Born with the Caul-  With two of the three tracks clocking in at 39 minutes, it's probably pretty obvious that these are slow-building songs that escalate into full-on guitar jams. What is astounding is that Nugent and his band manage to keep you in a trance for several minutes before each song eventually erupts into a frenzy of crashing drums and six-string majesty.

42) Black Milk- No Poison No Paradise- After multiple listens, I was finally able to fully appreciate Black Milk's follow-up to Album of the Year.  While he doesn't have the best lyrical flow, the production on this record is unparalleled. It features a stellar combination of electro boom-bap drums, jazzy horns and spooky synthesizers, serving as a perfect backdrop to Black Milk's dark lyrics.

43)  Cave- Threace- Listening to this record is rewarding once you realize that the band meant for it to be listened to from beginning to end. If you don't stick with it for the duration, you will likely write it off as an exercise in futility. Cave have largely eschewed the heavy kraut-rock vibe of the last album, and practically reinvented themselves as a jazz-rock band completed with brass, flutes and wah-wah guitar.

44) Lorelle Meets the Obsolete- Corruptible Faces- On Lorelle Meets the Obsolete's latest record, sultry vocals combine with metronomic rhythms, and noisy guitars, resulting in a mesmerizing sonic experience.

45) Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat dan Singa- Open the Crown- On Dionyso's latest effort, the rough edges have been slightly smoothed out with little accents like the organ playing on "I Feel the Quickening" and the playful drum beat on "I Create in the Broken System".  There are still plenty of times where the music reaches a level of intensity that will interest listeners with a penchant for experimental music.

46) Georgina Starlington- Paper Moon- This reminds me of music that you would listen to when driving through the desert in Arizona with nothing but the lonesome highway and these songs to keep you company.

47) Tamikrest- Chatma- Tamikrest has finally managed to come out of Tinariwen's shadow by exploring a more diverse sound palette while still featuring plenty of stunning Tuareg guitar to keep the fans satiated.

48) Bardo Pond- Peace on Venus- The latest slab of wax from Bardo Pond features mostly sprawling psychedelic jams with lead singer Isobel Sollenberger's vocals shining through the sludge just enough to see the light of day.

49) Jacco Gardner- Cabinet of Curiosities- Wistful psychedelic pop confections with the perfect balance of dark and light textures.

50) The Thing- Boot- More experimental free jazz from the demented mind of Mats Gustafson that features the perfect blend of slow grooves and skronky sax playing.

I will be featuring a further post in the next few days with my list of honorable mentions, ep's, compilations and reissues for the year.

Until then, here is a list of some other sites that I have turned to in the past for music recommendations

Raven Sings the Blues
Pitchfork- Best of 2013: A Very Shake Appeal Guest List
An Aquarium Drunkard- 2013 Year in Review
Rough Trade Staff- Best Albums of 2013
Pop Matters- Overlooked Records of 2013
Dusted- End of Year Review  
Doom and Gloom from the Tomb
Tiny Mix Tapes
Impose- Best Albums of 2013
Kansas City Star- Top albums for 2013
Fact Mag- 20 Best Bandcamp Releases of 2013
Fact Mag- 50 Best Reissues of 2013
 
Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blood Curdling Sounds of the Night














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

Last night, while working diligently at finishing this mix before the weekend was over, I found myself struggling with the reality that I couldn't make this year's mix be everything to all people.    When my girlfriend inquired as to how things were going, I told her that I was having difficulties with trying to round it out with songs that were less scary and more suitable for a general audience. She smiled and said "I bet there are some people out there who would really appreciate a scary Halloween mix".  Thankfully,  my girlfriend was able to steer me in the right direction with her infinite wisdom.

From here, all the pieces started to gradually fall into place.  I worked on narrowing the amount of songs from over forty to around twenty, and I finished putting the intro together this morning. On previous mixes, I have provided the listener with some respite from the horror in the form of a campy horror trailer or a melodic doo-wop song about visiting a cemetery in the middle of the night. This time around, you will not be so fortunate to receive a break from the terror. Aside from a couple rockabilly and garage rock songs, this is one of the most spine-tingling, blood curdling mixes that you are likely to hear on the internet.

Please make sure to lock all of your doors, and don't listen to this with the lights out as the darkness that creeps in might make you lose your mind.

For anyone who wants a track listing for this mix, please drop me a line in the comments.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 14, 2013

MusicFest NW 2013- Recap- Fri-Sat-Sun

With the Halloween season creeping up on me once again, I will be presenting a more concise overview of my last three nights of Music Fest NW 201 to focus my energy on compiling a new Halloween mix over the next week. My hope is to have this year's mix posted within a week of Halloween so that everyone will have a sufficient amount of time to enjoy it.

Friday

La Luz- 9:00

Since I had already seen Mt. Eerie with Bonnie Prince Billy on Thursday, La Luz was definitely the best choice for the 9:00 time slot. I heard a few songs from their Damp Face ep that was released last year, and I was completely sold on their twisted surf noir sound that seemed to draw from influences as diverse as  Brenda Lee, David Lynch and The Ventures. After arriving at Dante's, the band started promptly at 9:00, and proceeded to deliver a fantastic set filled with seductive ballads, surf instrumentals and garage rock rave-ups. Their set was concise at 35 minutes, but filled with enough memorable moments to make me want to check them out the next time they come to town. 

Wooden Indian Burial Ground- 10:00

Up until the last minute, I had planned on checking out Godspeed You Black Emperor at 10:00, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Branx. With this show starting at 11:00, that would have meant that I had to leave the Godspeed show at about 10:30 to allow time to drive to Branx and find a parking spot. I decide to just head to Branx to check out Wooden Indian Burial Ground at 10:00. I had already seen these guys open up for Fuzz at Bunk Bar a few months ago, and I thought that they sounded like they were trying too hard to be Thee Oh Sees. This time around, even though the sound at Branx was mediocre at best, they performed a high-energy set of dynamic psych rock that demonstrated that they were much more than an Oh Sees knockoff. I would recommend that anyone interested in fuzzed-out psych check these guys out. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra- 11:00

So much has been said about these guys, that I can hardly do it justice with a condensed review, but all I can say is that Ruben and company delivered a commanding, mind-altering performance that will forever be imprinted on my brain. This is saying a lot considering that the sound was completely messed up throughout the set, with many of Ruben's blistering solos getting lost in the muddy mix. It seemed like the sound engineer was either inexperienced, or that the venue was experiencing technical difficulties that were beyond his control. Either way, towards the end of the set Ruben played an extended version of the catchiest song in the bands repertoire "Ffunny Ffrends" with a spiraling guitar solo that literally sent chills up and down my spine. He is easily one of the most exciting guitarists to check out live, and it's not a stretch to compare his talent and skill level to Jimi Hendrix. As the final shards of guitar shrapnel faded at the end of their second encore, I was standing there looking shell shocked as I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. This is my 3rd time seeing these guys, and they just keep getting better. Do yourself a favor and pick up both of their records, and catch them live every time you get a chance. You will thank me later. 

Ty Segall- 12:00

Unfortunately it was a night filled with tough decisions, as by choosing to see Unknown Mortal Orchestra's entire set I missed most of Ty Segall's performance at Dante's. First, it took me over 20 minutes to find parking, and then once I arrived at the venue they were at capacity. It seemed unlikely that I would be admitted into the show, especially since the bouncer came out and said to the entire group of people waiting "You guys aren't going to get into the show. Go home". While I thought he was a jerk, this action most likely resulted in my getting into the show for the last few songs as most of the people in line took the bouncer's advice and headed home. I could barely see the stage as the place was utterly packed, but this is what can be expected when a high profile artist like Segall is booked at a tiny venue like Dante's. One of the last songs he played was the utterly contagious "You Make the Sun Fry" from Goodbye Bread which had most of the crowd in front frantically running into each other in a frenzied manner. He came back out to play a couple songs for the encore, and then signed off for the night. I'm glad I got to catch a little bit of his set, but I was disappointed that I had to hear most of his performance while standing outside. 

Saturday

Angel Olsen- 8:30

I decided to check out Angel Olsen despite really only hearing a handful of songs from her debut album Half Way Home".  When I found out that she was playing The Old Church, that sealed the deal for me. I got here early to ensure that I would be able to sit during the performance, but I still wasn't able to secure a place closer to the stage. What unfolded before me during the next 35 minutes was an utterly transfixing performance that held my attention until the last note was plucked on her guitar. I had planned on leaving halfway through her performance, but it was so spellbinding that I couldn't fathom leaving until I heard everything that she was ready and willing to play. Add this to the ever-growing list of talented, haunting female folk artists that have been cropping up lately. 

Shuggie Otis and Charles Bradley- 9:00- 10:30 

I headed to the Crystal Ballroom to check out Shuggie Otis, but sadly was not able to get into this show. Instead, I waited in line throughout his entire set chatting with other people who had hoped to get into to see Shuggie Otis, but they also hadn't planned ahead. Thankfully, most of the people who were there to see Shuggie were not staying for Charles Bradley.

I had seen Charles Bradley at the Aladdin late last year, but he puts on such a great live show that I couldn't justify missing him this time around. I was able to get a pretty good spot in the middle of the Crystal Ballroom, and the crowd was quickly filling up to capacity. It was different band than I had seen the last time except for the bandleader and one of the horn players from Menahan Street Band, but once again the bandleader introduced Charles Bradley before he took the stage. For those of you who haven't seen Bradley live, it is really your only chance to see classic soul that personifies the best qualities from Otis Redding, James Brown and Marvin Gaye. He comes on stage wearing a garish black and gold outfit, soulfully singing his heart out while lamenting lost loves with a burning intensity that just has to be real. He split the performance up into two distinct sets, so this gave me the opportunity to check out one of the three bands I wanted to see who were playing at 11:00

The Dodos- 11:00

I had heard many great things about The Dodos live performance, so I decided to head to Star Theater to check them out. I have to admin that I had higher expectations for this performance, and I was let down. It was much more mellow and had an indie-pop sound that I really wasn't digging. I gave them about 10 minutes before I decided to head across the street to the Roseland in order to catch the end of Godspeed You Black Emperor's performance.

Godspeed You Black Emperor- 10:00

While the performance started at 10:00 this evening, I got there around 11:20. Believe it or not, even with showing up this late, I was able to see them play for about 40 minutes. There were about ten people on stage playing in pitch dark except for an 8 mm sepia-toned movie projected on the screen behind the band. I don't think that I would have been able to endure much more of their performance than I did as the entire band either stared at the floor, or were faced away from the audience as they played their epic dirges for the capacity crowd at the Roseland. I was glad that I checked them out, but I don't think that I will be spending any more money to check them out unless they play a seated venue like the Aladdin.

Sonny and the Sunsets- 12:00

This was the last show of the evening that I was interested in seeing, so I left the Roseland around 12:10, and then got to Bunk Bar in time to catch about half of Sonny's set.  I enjoyed the live performance a lot more than the records I have heard as they are usually lo-fi and don't begin to demonstrate how proficient Sonny is on lead guitar. Many of the songs I heard were upbeat and driving with the whole band looking like they were having the best time of their lives. I would definitely check these guys out again.

Sunday

Neko Case-8:00

I got to the show around 5:30 to meet some friends and check out the opener The Moondoggies, but I really wasn't paying much attention during their set. It sounded like they mainly had a classic rock vibe that evoked a cross between My Morning Jacket and Neil Young. The next band called Pickwick didn't really do anything for me as most of their songs sounded like they were lifted straight off a playlist from a generic Portland radio station.

After enduring the last band, I was ready for Case to come out and blow my mind, and she definitely didn't let me down. Even though she played a set that drew mostly from the new album, she did throw in a couple of classics from Blacklisted and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Case, along with Jon Rauhouse on steel guitar and Kelly Hogan on backing vocals commanded the crowd and infused her stage show with hilarious stage banter between her fellow band members. She played close to an 80 minute set, and at times I felt like I was listening to an angel sing from the heavens as her astonishing voice clearly touched each and every person in the audience. I couldn't think of a more fitting way to close out the festival than to witness the majesty of Neko Case's voice as it filled the open air of downtown Portland.

This closes out my recap of my experience at MusicFest 2013. Be on the lookout for my Halloween mix within the next week or so.

Friday, October 04, 2013

MusicFest NW 2013- Recap- Wed- Thurs

Ideally this post would have been up shortly after Music Fest NW was over, but I have been fighting a cold for almost a month now. Due to this, I will be providing a much shorter breakdown of the shows to allow time for a new podcast and some new Halloween-themed posts.

Wednesday

Eyelids- 8:00

I decided to check out Eyelids at the Doug Fir Lounge, but due to a late start and a difficulty with finding a parking space, I arrived in the middle of their set. My initial feeling was that they were an adequate rock band who was lacking a strong, engaging stage presence. The highlight of their set was when they brought out a special guest to sing lead on a cover version of the Gun Club classic "Sex Beat".

Lonnie Holley- 9:30

I arrived at the Crystal Ballroom about 15 minutes prior to Lonnie Holley's performance, and it already felt like a sweat box despite the fact that it wasn't even close to capacity. I think that I had fairly high expectations for his performance because of various things that I had read about every live show being distinctive from the last one. Unfortunately, the tunes never went anywhere, and his repetitive vocal warbling got on my nerves by the middle of the first song. I kept trying to get into it, especially once Bradford Cox joined in on drums, but it just didn't hold my attention. Each song flowed into the next one with no breaks which lead to the feeling of these songs just going on forever. I like improvisational jazz and experimental music, but this was just not up my alley.

Deerhunter- 10:30

The main reason that I came out this evening was to catch Deerhunter for the 6th time. The last time I saw them, they put on a lackluster performance at the Wonder Ballroom. It was an ill-fated evening riddled with sound problems that ended up throwing Bradford's timing off, and ultimately resulted in the whole band being out of sync. My hope was that with the momentum of just releasing Monomania in May that the new songs would bring a much needed energy to their show tonight.  Thankfully, the band played nearly a 90 minute set heavy on the Monomania material with several classic tracks from earlier albums including an especially jammy version of "Nothing Ever Happened". They closed the show with an exceptional rendition of "Fluorescent Grey" that at close to sixteen minutes would seem to be a test on the audience's patience, though almost everyone stuck it out to experience the orgasmic wall of guitars during the last couple minutes of the song. All in all, I couldn't think of a better way to end my evening.

Thursday

Like a Villain- Old Church- 8:30

I was taking a chance on this show as I had really only heard a couple songs by Like a Villain on her Bandcamp page.  When I got there, the show had already been going for about 10 minutes, and apparently everyone got to the Old Church early to avoid standing in line to see Typhoon. Because of this, I was standing for the entire performance, and this could have negatively affected my opinion about her performance. I would have to say that she has a stunning voice, operatic and with a very dynamic range, and a church is the perfect venue to showcase her voice. However, I was hoping to see more of the experimental looping with her vocals and flute that seemed to earn her comparisons to fellow Portlander Liz Harris of Grouper. She had great stage presence, and really captivated the audience, but I was really not that into the songs that she played.

Mount Eerie- Aladdin- 9:00

As I didn't leave The Old Church until close to 9:00, I arrived at the Mount Eerie show close to the end of their set. I think that one complaint I have about Music fest this year is the lack of communication about what type of set bands were going to play- solo, acoustic, full band, etc. When I got to the Aladdin, Phil Elverum was playing acoustic guitar and singing with two female singers. I know that Eleverum's work with the Microphones, and a lot of Mount Eerie's stuff is pretty experimental and heavy, but I never expected such a quiet performance. The songs that I heard had pretty melodies, and I liked the way that Elverum's voice harmonized with the female voices. It was a decent show, but definitely not what I expected.

Bonnie Prince Billy- Aladdin- 10:00

After grabbing some chamomile tea, I searched for an empty seat amongst the sold out crowd. After
the Mount Eerie set ended, people began to shuffle out of their seats to the next performance on their agenda. I was able to find an empty seat right behind the mixing board, so the sound was superb.
By the time Bonnie Prince Billy came out, I was starting to realize that I was feeling warm and my throat was beginning to feel sore. His set was filled with many great songs, most of which I recognized but couldn't tell you the name of them if my life depended on it. The first time I saw Bonnie Prince Billy was with a full band at a Jackpot Records in-store performance.  Tonight, he was accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and a microphone. This was the perfect venue for capturing the cracks and subtle nuances of his voice as the Aladdin has the best acoustics of any venue in the city. He seemed to be in a conversational mood too, as there was much more in-between song banter than I had experienced the first time I saw him. At one point, it seemed like it was the Bonnie Prince Billy comedy hour, as he ranted about Facebook and other various societal ills. I stayed until about 11:00, and then I decided to head to Doug Fir to see Bob Mould.

Bob Mould- Doug Fir Lounge- 11:00

I was really torn between checking out this show and seeing Houndstooth at Bunk Bar. Since I hadn't ever seen Bob Mould before, I decided that it was worth it to give him a shot. What I didn't realize was that he was going to be playing solo with an electric guitar and amplifier. While I recognized a couple songs, including the fantastic "Hoover Dam" from Sugar's Copper Blue, this type of setup with no band and one person playing electric guitar didn't really hold my interest for long. I 'm glad that I went though as Mould has a great stage presence, and it was great to hear a couple classic songs. This would have been another case where it would have been great to know if an artist was going to be playing solo, acoustic, or with a full band.

Houndstooth- Bunk Bar- 11:00

As luck would have it, I was stuck behind a slow train about one block before the Bunk Bar. The result was that I only caught three songs from Houndstooth, but they were really great. On their debut record Ride Out the Dark, they sound like a cross between Neil Young and Trailer Bride, trading off vocals between a male and female singer, and featuring blistering guitar solos in between haunting melodies. The bottom line is that they sounded fantastic live, and they are definitely on my list of bands to check out around town since they live in Portland.

Hopefully the next installment of this will be sooner than the last as I would like to ensure that the details of my experience don't get lost in the fray.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, and you can look forward to more music soon.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

MusicFest NW 2013 Recap- Tuesday













In my last post I had alluded to a forthcoming post detailing my experiences at MusicFest NW. While I would have liked to get this post up sooner, time and energy have not been on my side this past week. In fact, it's even an understatement to say that my experience at Music Fest was a whirlwind. After spending hours strategizing about which bands to see, planning travel time between the venues and speculating the  average waiting times for specific acts, I was finally ready to brave the streets of Portland for a fun-filled week of musical adventures.  Nevertheless, I restlessly tossed and turned the night prior to Music Fest, leaving me to start out the first night of Music Fest with much less energy than I had planned.  I wasn't going to let this stop me though. There was music to see, and even if I was starting out with an energy deficit, I was bound and determined to make the best of it.  Armed with only my wits, and my handy Music Fest NW 2013 app, I was ready to hit the streets and see some stellar live music.























Starting out the night with Summer Cannibals seemed to be the best plan as I was digging the songs that they had posted on their bandcamp page. After catching a power nap after work, I cleaned up and frantically dashed out the door just in time to catch the beginning of their set at Dante's. I had planned to meet a friend at Dante's, and he was already there standing by the mixing board in the back of the venue. We moved closer to the front so we could get a better look at the band, but since I wasn't able to get a decent picture with my iPhone I have borrowed this one from the Portland Mercury blog The Summer Cannibals set was largely filled with punchy, melodic songs that were reminiscent of the Breeders or Throwing Muses. They were clearly happy to be performing, and because of this they delivered a high-energy set with pounding drums and angular guitar riffing that went over exceptionally well with the audience. Considering that they are a local band, I will definitely be checking them out again.
















As I stated in my last post, I wasn't really into Black Bananas so I was planning on going to the Roseland to check out Joey Bada$$. My friend was up for checking out Joey too, so we eagerly headed to the Roseland as we chatted about his recent experience seeing El-P and Killer Mike at a festival in Louisville, KY. With my night starting out this well, I was pumped for what the rest of the evening had in store

After having two high-profile mix tapes released in the past couple years, it's no surprise that Joey Bada$$ is practically becoming a household name. Last year's 1999 resonated with me more primarily because I like the old-school soul and funk samples that were used on the record, but there are still a handful of stellar tracks on his recently released mix tape Summer Knights. Since the sound at the Roseland is often not ideal for hip-hop shows, I didn't have very high expectations for this show. Thankfully, Joey delivered an inspired and thoughtful set of 90's era hip-hop that had no problem with keeping the crowd moving. I was able to tell that he is a talented lyricist, but unfortunately his vocals were buried under the wall-rattling bass as it bounced of the cavernous walls of the venue. Since we were standing at the back of the venue I wasn't able to get a great picture, thus I am posting this one that was posted on the Portland Mercury blog. I would love to see Joey at the Aladdin or Doug Fir Lounge because the Roseland always seems to have the sound mixed at hip-hop shows so that the vocals are practically unintelligible. Despite this, I would highly recommend seeing him the next time he comes through your town.






















Due to the encouragement of my friend combined with having an uplifting experience at the Joey Bada$$ show,  I decided to check out the power-pop quartet Redd Kross at Dante's. We got there in plenty of time to get a drink, and head to the front of the stage. I'll admit that my exposure to Redd Kross's music was minimal up to this point, but I liked the couple songs that I had heard. My friend was more into them, and he described their sound to me as a mix of 70's glam and punk as opposed to the "power-pop" description that they were mostly associated with throughout the 90's. For tonight's show, the band put on an impressive set of melodic classic rock, glam and aggressive punk featuring all the classic rock-star moves like perfectly choreographed leg kicks and lunges, microphone tossing and switching off on vocals between the various band members. As you can see from this picture posted on the Portland Mercury blog, this was clearly a band that had nothing to prove because they had done it all, and lived to tell about it. Seeing this show was a fantastic way to cap off my first night of Music Fest 2013.

I will try to post the rest of my recaps as time permits, but I hope that you have enjoyed this first installment. If any of you went to MusicFest NW this year, I would love to hear what your experience was like.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Music Fest NW 2013 Guide













Every year around the first week of September, thousands of fanatic music lovers hit the streets of Portland, anxiously scanning their Music Fest schedules to determine how to see the best cross-section of bands in a finite period of time. While Music Fest NW started out as a relatively small event featuring mostly local bands and a few assorted venues, it has radically expanded into a six day extravaganza showcased at practically every venue in Portland covering musicians from all over the country.

This year, I was fortunate enough to win a free pass to Music Fest NW, thus allowing me the ability to cover the event in full on Eclectic Grooves. Considering the abundant scope of this event, I figured that I would provide a schedule of my picks for Music Fest NW to the readers who plan on attending it this year.

The following is my suggested itinerary to get the most out of this year's festival. Those of you who dig the music regularly posted on Eclectic Grooves will likely agree with my picks for Music Fest NW this year. I plan on featuring a full write-up about the bands that I saw throughout the week that will most likely come to fruition shortly after the event has ended.

Tuesday

With only two venues open for the evening, you will be able to slowly ease yourself into the idea of immersing yourself into a week filled with long lines, busy traffic and a diversity of music that has plenty to offer both the fanatical and casual music fan.

For this evening, I am opting to check out Summer Cannibals at 9:00. While I've only heard a couple songs on their bandcamp page, the Portland band seems adept at crafting short, sharp bursts of indie rock that harkens back to the classic 90's sound of the Breeders and Throwing Muses. Black Bananas plays at Dante's after Summer Cannibals, but after being slightly underwhelmed with Jennifer Herrena's band RTX at Music Fest 2011, I am opting to check out Joey Bada$$ at the Roseland instead. For those of you who haven't heard of Joey Bada$$, he is the latest from a long line of young talented rappers who actually has something important to say.

9:00- Summer Cannibals- Dante's
10:00- Joey Bada$$- Roseland

Wed

While Wednesday expands to featuring music at seven venues, there are only a couple bands that I plan on checking out.  First, I am heading to the Doug Fir Lounge to check out the supergroup Eyelids featuring members of The Decemberists, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Boston Spaceships. I haven't been able to find any of their music online except for an ep available on their bandcamp page, but it features enough hook-filled melodies and offbeat musicianship to make me curious as to how this will translate in a live setting.

From here, I will be heading to the Crystal Ballroom to check out Lonnie Holley, an enigmatic experimental musician who has only recently released his first recordings to the public. Along with artists such as Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, Holley is another musician who has been toiling way in obscurity for many years, only to be recognized for his talents during the past year. This should be a truly mesmerizing performance, so don't miss this one at any cost.

To finish out the evening, I plan on staying at the Crystal Ballroom to check out Deerhunter. Even though this will be the fifth time I have seen Deerhunter live, they always put on a stellar show. Plus, I am really excited to see how the new material from Monomania translates to the stage.

8:00- Eyelids- Doug Fir Lounge
9:30- Lonnie Holley- Crystal Ballroom
10:30- Deerhunter- Crystal Ballroom

Thurs

While I would like to check out Youth Lagoon at Pioneer Square, the ticket that I won only covers one of the Pioneer Square shows, and I chose to attend the Neko Case show at Pioneer Square on Sunday. Starting out the evening with Like a Villain at the Old Church seems to be the best plan to ease into the evening. The songs that I have heard on her bandcamp page range from beautiful tapestries of aural delights, to avant-garde electro-folk. Mt Eerie and Bonnie Prince Billy are playing Thursday and Friday at the Aladdin, so I am still trying to determine which night works best for my itinerary. At 10, I can choose between seeing Bonnie Prince Billy at the Aladdin who also plays on Friday, or I can check out Sun Angle at Mississippi Studios

During the 11:00 time slot, decisions start to get more difficult. Since I can't be in more than one place at a time, I'm pretty sure that I will either be checking out local band Houndstooth or Bob Mould. I've heard really good things about Houndstooth's live show, and I am really digging the mix of Americana, psych and classic rock on their debut album Ride Out the Dark. From here, I will most likely close out the evening with The Men, a once intense noise punk band who have gradually settled into a more mellow, accessible sound over the course of their last two albums. Still, I have heard that they are a great live band to check out so I'm willing to take the chance on them. For those of you who like tripped-out electronic music, you might want to check out Tobacco at Holocene.

8:30- Like a Villain- The Old Church
9:00- Mt. Eerie- Aladdin
10:00- Bonnie Prince Billy- Aladdin Theater
10:00- Sun Angle- Mississippi Studios
11:00- Houndstooth- Bunk Bar
11:00 Bleached- Dante's
11:00- Bob Mould- Doug Fir Lounge
12:00- The Men- Dante's
12:00- Tobacco- Holocene

Friday

Since there are a couple bands who I absolutely have to see on Friday, my schedule for the evening will be much simpler. It will likely start out by seeing the extraordinary improvisational percussionist Neal Morgan at The Old Church at 8:30. Then, at 9:00 I will be checking out the beguiling surf-garage throwback sound of the all-female quartet La Luz at Dantes. During the 10:00 time slot, I will be checking out the improvisational collective Godspeed You Black Emperor at the Roseland.  Unfortunately, I will probably have to leave this show a little bit early in order to arrive at Branx on time to check out the brain-frying psychedelic soul of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. After this, I will be heading to Dante's to check out the ever prolific garage rocker Ty Segall during the 12:00 time slot. Finally, if I have any juice left over, I will head to Holocene to see the electro-glitch-hop master Prefuse 73.

8:30- Neal Morgan- The Old Church
9:00  La Luz- Dante's
10:00 Godspeed You Black Emperor- Roseland Theater
11:00 Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Branx
12:00- Ty Segall- Dante's
1:00- Prefuse 73- Holocene

Saturday

Once again I plan on starting the evening off at the Old Church to catch the intense cerebral folk of Angel Olsen whose 2012 record Half Way Home won over the hearts of both fans and critics alike. For the 9:00 time slot, I plan on catching the legendary soul-funk artist Shuggie Otis at the Crystal Ballroom. If I wasn't catching this show, I would likely be at the Aladdin checking out the instrumental jazz-noir of the explosive duo 1939 Ensemble. From here, there is about a 1/2 hour before the Charles Bradley set starts at the Crystal Ballroom, so I might head to Backspace to check out Sean Croghan's new project called The Pynnacles or to the Star Theater to see a little bit of Bleeding Rainbow's set.  From 10:30 to 11:30, I will likely be checking out Charles Bradley at the Crystal. This is where decisions get really tough as there are 4 bands that are worth seeing in the 11:00 time slot- White Lung at Dante's, Team Dresch at Backspace, The Dodo's at Star Theater and Love as Laughter at Bunk Bar. If Bradley's set goes from 10:30-11:30, I might be able to catch the tail end of The Dodo's or Team Dresch's set.  To finish off the evening, I plan on checking out Sonny and the Sunsets at Bunk Bar. While I wasn't exactly digging Sonny's last album, I have heard that the new record kicks it into high gear like the earlier material.

8:30- Angel Olsen- The Old Church
9:00- Shuggie Otis- Crystal Ballroom
9:00- 1939 Ensemble- Aladdin Theater
10:00- The Pynnacles- Backspace
10:00- Bleeding Rainbow- Star Theater
10:30- Charles Bradley- Crystal Ballroom
11:00- Team Dresch- Backspace
11:00- Love as Laughter- Bunk Bar
11:00- White Lung- Dante's
11:00- The Dodos- Star Theater
12:00- Sonny and the Sunsets- Bunk Bar

Sunday

On Sunday, I am not interested in checking out the bands opening for Neko Case, so I plan on arriving at Pioneer Square around 7:30 to catch Neko Case. While the songs I have heard from Case's latest record haven't exactly floored me, I know from experience that she always puts on a great live performance.

8:00- Neko Case- Pioneer Square 

I hope that you have found this guide useful, and I would love to hear from any of you who plan to attend this year's Music Fest NW. If you are interested in meeting up for any of these shows, please drop me a line in the comments.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summertime Rolls On By


















Before the last vestiges of summer slip through my fingers, I wanted to share this incredibly catchy tune from  Jacuzzi Boys' soon to be released S/T record called "Domino Moon" . Had I heard it prior to compiling this year's summer mix, there is no doubt that it would have been featured prominently in the mix.  "Domino Moon" is a perfect little slice of energetic garage pop that lodges itself into your brain matter, and doesn't let go.  I simply can't get this song out of my head, and I don't think that you will be able to either.

For those of you who are interested in buying the new record, it will be released on Hardly Art on 9/10. 

Jacuzzi Boys- Domino Moon


Friday, August 16, 2013

The Fall of Google Reader and the Rise of Braen's Machine

On July 1st of this year, Google had decided to suspend it's Google Reader service after 8 years due to a ongoing decline in usage, and most likely because they wanted to focus their energy on new services like Google Plus.  Even though I knew that Google Reader was slowly coming to its demise, I still neglected to let my readers know to transfer to another service before this happened. While I didn't notice a drop in subscribers until two weeks after the official shut-down date, it was fairly clear that most of my subscribers used Google Reader as the number of subscribers had dropped from 890 to 180. The reason I bring this up is that the future of Feedburner is clearly hanging in the balance, and it is difficult to ascertain how long it will remain active.  For those of you who would like to know when the blog has been updated, I suggest that you do one of the following things:

1) Follow my blog by clicking on the "Join this Site" button at the top left corner of the site
2) Click on "Follow this blog" under the Networked Blogs section to receive updates via Facebook
3) Send me an e-mail at waxpoetcic73@gmail.com letting me know what your e-mail address is so I can add you to the list of people who receive an e-mail every time the blog is updated.

If you don't want to be alerted via e-mail or Facebook, please keep visiting the site on a regular basis so you don't miss out on any great music.

Now that the business end of things has been taken care of, let's move on to the good stuff. I have been trying to remember when I last featured a full-length album download on here, but my memory is failing me in this respect. It probably started back when the Megaupload and Mediafire sites were taking down files left and right. Many blogs were being shut down due to illegal file sharing, and a lot of others including my own decided to forge new pathways, predominantly featuring podcast mixes, single tracks and live shows. I am happy to say that I plan on going back to featuring rare and out-of-print records on the blog from time to time.

I used to share full albums on here on a series called Plain Brown Wrappers. For those of you who weren't around when this was a regular series, it was essentially a way to share out-of print records in a fashion that didn't raise a red flag with the RIAA. I would erase all of the information in the ID3 tags, and name every track as "Unknown" so there was no way to trace what the artist, album and track were. The idea was that we place way too much emphasis on who an artist is before we even give their music a chance. Without knowing who sings a particular song, you can base your opinion on what you hear rather than what your preconceived ideas about a specific band or genre tell you what to think. It was fun while it lasted, but the participation level declined as the series went on, and it was no longer worth my time and effort to continue doing it.


















Braen's Machine- Underground
[1971, Liuto Records]

This is an example of a record that could have been featured on the Plain Brown Wrappers series back in the day, but sadly it wasn't in the cards. I can't for the life of me remember where I first came across this record, but I imagine that it was one of those evenings where I slipped down the rabbit hole exploring every crevice of the musical universe that the internet had to offer. Judging from the cover, you would think that listening to this would be akin to being bludgeoned over the head with lightning fast speed metal riffs, or maybe it could be the soundtrack to your next Halloween. I assure you that while there are eerie elements to the record, and certain songs have blistering frenetic tempos, it is neither speed metal nor a creepy spook-fest.

Underground is a purely instrumental record featuring an incredibly diverse batch of songs. It starts off with the uptempo race-to-the-finish vibe of the opener, aptly titled "Flying". With a breakneck tempo, funky bassline and swirling organs, it sounds like the soundtrack to a crazy 60's movie where the lead protagonist has taken too much acid, and the whole room starts spinning with an orgiastic kaleidoscope of shapes and colors. From here, we lead into the opening breakbeat on "Imphormal" that seems to have been tailor made for a hip-hop producer from the 80's who was searching for an innovative break outside of the tried and true lexicon of James Brown and George Clinton.  The driving force behind this song is the fantastic interplay between the bass and the drums, as the fuzzed-out psych guitars are literally showering over the rhythm section through the duration of the track. Next, they try their hand at evoking the music from a film noir movie to great success with the appropriately titled track"Murder".  Throughout this track", a slow walking bassline evokes the sound of footsteps from a stranger walking towards their inevitable demise while subtle stylistic flourishes from the drums, piano and guitar add to the menacing, claustrophobic vibe of the song.

Even though this entire record is only thirty-eight minutes in length, it makes up for its lack of duration with a perfect mix of  groove-based psychedelia. With the breadth of songs on here featuring wobbly phased-out guitars, heavy doses of reverb and spacey production, this album is undoubtedly a stone-cold psychedelic classic that is not to be missed.

I would love to hear what you think of this record so please drop me a line in the comments.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cambodian Grooves




















Recently, I checked out the latest full-length movie from Portland filmmaker James Westby entitled Rid of Me. While I had been trepidatious about wasting my time on seeing a movie with Storm Large (kitschy lounge singer from Portland) in it,  I have to say that it was well worth it for the music alone. I'm not going to go into a synopsis of the movie because there are other avenues like Metacritic or IMDB at your disposal if you so desire to go down that road. The reason I am posting today is to let you know about these two fantastic tracks by Ros Sereysothea that are featured at the end of the film.

For the esoteric music aficionados out there, you may recall these tracks being featured on the long out-of-print classic compilation Cambodian Rocks.  The first track entitled "Chnam Un Dop-Pram Muy", translated to "I'm 16" in English,  was a perfect song to show the transformation that the main character Maris was undergoing after dealing with an unexpected twist of fate in her life.  As soon as she steps into the record store, you can literally see her world getting brighter, especially since the object of her affection has invited her into his vinyl kingdom.  As the camera pans around the record store showcasing the vinyl on the shelves, the opening majestic guitar solo perfectly captures the excitement that she experiences, and the world of possibility that is presently at her fingertips.

During the closing scene, we see Maris dancing wildly to the happy song that the guy at the record store confessed was his favorite on the CD.  This little slice of happiness was appropriately called "Tngai Neas Kyom Yam Sra", translated to "Today, I Drink Wine" in English. If it wasn't for checking this movie out the other day, who knows how long I would have gone in my life without being exposed to these two infectious tracks. In both instances, the music is perfectly matched for the subject matter presented in the scene. I can't say enough about the exceptional work put in by this music supervisor.

I hope you guys dig these crazy Cambodian jams.

Ros Sereysothea- Chnam oun Dop-Pram Muy and Tngai Neas Kyom Yam Sra

Drop me a line in the comments to let me know what you think, or what types of music you are digging these days.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Mix 2013



















As the Breeders so aptly stated on their infectious slice of summer jam “Saints”, “Summer is ready when you are”.  While I’ve been ready for summer since it ended last year, I wasn’t quite expecting the sudden onslaught of heat that the Portland area received at the beginning of July.   But once the days started to stretch longer and the warm air was hitting my skin, I became inspired to create a new soundtrack for my summer days. Since summer weather in Portland doesn't typically start until around the first of July, I started to compile my summer playlist at this point. Over the past few days, I have managed to narrow my selection down to an eclectic mix of songs spanning genres as diverse as funk, jazz, rap, soul, gospel and rock that clock in at just over an hour.

So fire up the barbecue, bask in the afternoon sunlight and don't hesitate to dive right into this year's summer mix!


1) New Dawn- There's a New Dawn
2) The Pastel Six- Twitchin'
3) Sic Alps- God Bless Her, I Miss Her
4) Grass Widow- To Where
5) Jackie Paine- Go Go Train 
6) Jurassic 5- Day at the Races
7) Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings- Cut that Line
8) Wally Cox and Nate Branch- Za Zu
9) Unknown Mortal Orchestra- How Can U Luv Me
10) Witch- Chance
11) Creedence Clearwater Revival- Down on the Corner
12) Deerhunter- Pensacola
13) Village Callers- Mississippi Delta
14) Pearl Dowdell- Good Things
15) Afrique- Slow Motion
16) Big Star- Feel
17) Coasting- Portland
18) Gospel Chandeliers- Honesty is the Best Policy
19) Ty Segall- Gold on the Shore

I would love to hear what you think of the mix, so please drop me a line in the comments.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Choice Cuts Vol.6















It's been awhile since the last Choice Cuts was posted, but I wanted to get some music up here since the last post was primarily meant to spread awareness about my partner's health problems. Happy 4th of July to everyone! Be on the lookout for Summer Mix 2013 in the next week or so.

It is once again time for me to reach back in the refrigerator for some "choice cuts". Each time, I will be featuring 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.


Blossom Toes- Peace Loving Man
From: If Only For a Moment [1967, Marmalade]













When first hearing the name of the band and the overtly positive song title, you might be misled to think that you are about to hear another garden-variety psych pop band trying to evoke the 60’s flower power experience. I can assure you that this assessment couldn’t be further from the truth. What you get instead is a song that confounds all of your expectations right from the start. I stumbled across this song on YouTube when I was doing research for my psychedelic podcast. Even though I already had this Blossom Toes album on my hard drive, I hadn’t yet been exposed to the wonders of this ever-shifting behemoth of a track. It begins subtly with a short ambient interlude that shifts instantly into the first verse where the lead singer’s full-throated growl is almost aggressive to the point of being comical. Then, out of nowhere comes the most blissfully melodic chorus this side of the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. After this, there is a really short second verse that segues into a creepy, tripped out section that incrementally builds in tempo until the strained, blood curdling screams of the vocalist bring the listener back home. From here, there is a progressive instrumental bridge that leads us back into the chorus, a quick return to the lyrics from the first verse and then an electrifying guitar solo that suddenly ends without notice.  Despite barely being a footnote in the history of rock, this song just might be the earliest example of music that predated the birth of death metal.

James Knight and the Butlers- Uncle Joe
From: Black Knight [Cat, 1971]












 

This track starts out unassumingly as a classic soul song, but slowly develops into a psychedelic funk monster.  With two verses under his belt before the song gets cooking, Knight lets the horn section take center stage at about the 1:53 mark of the track. At this point, the track gets progressively funkier, and the dirty fuzz guitars commence to kick out the jams. Then, the horns echo in the distance while Knight interjects random grunts, screams and guffaws through his echo effects pedal.  Over the next two and a half minutes, a distorted, psychedelic guitar solo and chicken scratch rhythm guitar completely dominate the track. As the song slows down, the final verse is introduced for about 30 seconds. Towards the end of the track, the horns, frenzied fuzz guitar and vocals all fight for the same sonic space, resulting in an orgiastic onslaught of sound. This is probably what James Brown’s music would have sounded like if he and the JB’s had swallowed thirty tabs of acid one night, and then decided to have a jam session with Eddie Hazel from Funkadelic.  This track is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but it will serve as a fantastic addition to the collections of those adventurous sonic spelunkers out there.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Uncertainty of Life

I know it's been a while since I've posted, but over the past few months life has thrown some high speed curve balls at my girlfriend and I that have required my complete attention. In fact, the material in this post has been on the back burner for a couple months, coming to fruition only after the thoughts have had ample time to gestate in my mind.  You may be asking yourself, what kind of content would be in a post with the title "The Uncertainty of Life"?  I assure you that right now I am fit as a fiddle, so I am definitely not here to retire the blog in any way, shape or form. Instead, I wanted to share my situation with you all to let you know what's been going on. While I don't normally open myself up to be scrutinized by the public, I figured it was high time that I explain to you all what has been going on in my life during the past 3 years.

My girlfriend of over 10 years had first started experiencing the onset of severe digestive problems back in the Spring of 2010. She started going on a diet avoiding all foods that contained, gluten, refined sugar, soy and dairy, in addition to taking nutritional supplements that would aid her digestion. After taking multiple nutritional supplements for a period of almost 9 months with almost no improvement, we determined that she would need to see a conventional  medical doctor to go through a series of tests. These tests revealed that all of her organs were in good condition, and that there was a slight possibility that she had Celiac disease.They recommended that she set up an appointment with a gastrointestinal specialist to determine whether or not this was the case, and he recommended that she have an endoscopy procedure.

After undergoing an endoscopy procedure in the Fall of 2011 which revealed that she didn't have Celiac disease, we sat there scratching our heads. What could this condition be that was taking over her body, and preventing her from carrying on a normal, healthy life? Would we ever get to a point where we could look back on this past year, and feel grateful that we were beyond the challenges that were presented to us?

During the first year of experiencing these severe digestive problems, my girlfriend was still able to show up to her classes at a local university. Eventually, though, her body became weaker, and she began to experience periods of time where her energy was completely depleted on top of the ongoing digestive issues. Soon, she made the very difficult decision to postpone her education while she focused on recovering from this illness.

Over the past 2 years, I have been financially supporting the two of us on a low-income technical help desk job. Until last December, I didn't feel that we could move forward with any treatment, as I felt that my paychecks were barely covering our general household expenses. With a mounting debt, and a dwindling savings account due to the cost of living on one income, I started to feel angry at the universe for putting us through this, which eventually led to a heightened depression, anxiety and stress that all of this was on my shoulders. We needed to think creatively, so we decided to enter the world of crowd-funding through a service called GoFundMe. With the help of friends and family, we were able to raise the necessary money for my girlfriend to start the first phase of her treatment, and to pay for necessary medical bills and supplements.

The doctor who has been administering her treatment plan since last October believes that she has a condition called chronic fatigue which includes symptoms such as digestive cramping, dizziness, nausea, sleeplessness, depletion of energy, etc. Due to this condition, she has been incapable of holding down a job of any kind as it prevents her from walking for more than 1/4 mile at a time, standing for longer than a couple minutes at a time, and driving a car dependably.  Her doctor is confident that she can get past this as long as she stays dedicated to the treatment plan that he is proposing for the next couple months.  

Consequently, we will need to raise some more money so she can start the next phase of her treatment. We currently only have the cost for one of the two treatments ($1000), but we will also be needing help outside of this initial cost. If you have a Facebook account, please consider sharing the following page with your friends so we can spread awareness throughout the community, and also consider making a donation to our GoFundMe site below. Please note that you can donate and remain anonymous if you don't want other people to know that you donated.

Getting Verity Well

Go Fund Me site


As you can imagine, dealing with long-term illness is not an easy thing. The partner of the person experiencing the illness feels helpless at times, and as time marches on, can get to a point of feeling desperation and hopelessness. I wanted to take back everything that I ever said to her in the early stages of our courtship. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would go back to the stage when she was vibrant and healthy to let her know how much she meant to me. I wouldn't argue about petty things that have absolutely no consequence to our lives, and I would let her know that I have confidence in her that she has the talent and capability to do anything that she desires. I wouldn't criticize her taste in music or movies, and I would celebrate the fact that she likes different things.

But, alas, despite what the latest CGI blockbuster in the theaters tells us, there is no magical time machine that can take us back to a day and age where life was great and everything made sense. My girlfriend and I have certainly had our fair share of disagreements and tough times throughout the years, but she is truly the love of my life. She has been there for me though thick and thin, fighting the good fight against all adversity, and we have shared many special moments with each other throughout the years.

I wanted to present this story to you all because, at times, I have felt a sense of community through this blog that encourages me to take the next necessary step. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Hear a New World Vol.20- Trippin' Through Your Mind
















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

As usual, this episode of I Hear a New World has been brewing in my head for quite awhile. What started out as a simple idea has expanded into a complex project that has dominated many of my days and nights over the last couple months. Regular visitors may recall that I did a podcast featuring a hodgepodge of psychedelic funk back in 2008. While this one has smatterings of funk, it's sole purpose is to take the listener on a guided trip through the mind of someone tripping on LSD, regardless of the style of music. It is the result of countless hours of listening to many different shades of psychedelic music from all over the world, weeding them out one by one and finally tweaking the flow of the mix until it sounded perfect to my ears.

In keeping with the continuity, I have opted to record this as a single mix with no interruptions relaying the tracks that have been played. I feel that it is more important to listen to this mix in its entirety without knowing the track sequence. With that being said, anyone who would like to receive a track list can drop me a line in the comments and I would be happy to oblige. You may notice that I have tacked on a Vol.1 to the end of the title, so you would be correct in thinking that there will at least be a second volume to this series. I would love to hear what you think of this mix. Until next time...

Note: Please be aware that I am not in any way advocating the use of LSD, and I can't be held responsible for what happens to you if you decide to trip while listening to this mix.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Hear a New World Vol.19


















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

On this edition of I Hear a New World, I have deviated from the usual Stacks of Wax format to make way for some of the newer records that I have been listening to lately. My girlfriend and I have been operating with a single income for a couple years now since she was diagnosed with a systemic digestive disorder that has rendered her unable to work at all.  Since times have been hard, I haven't been able to purchase enough new vinyl to keep the podcasts interesting. Until there is a shift in my financial situation, I will be doing podcasts from albums that I have on my hard drive.

For those of you who would like to help, please consider making a small donation to my Paypal page from http://www.podomatic.com/podcast/.  Every dollar earned from this will go straight into buying records that will be played on future podcasts, purchasing equipment that will make the shows sound better and ordering a Podomatic Pro package to ensure that I have enough storage space to keep the files up for a longer period of time. So far, there has been one generous person who has donated cash to my PayPal account four times in the past year, but it would be great if more people pitched in to the cause. If you like the podcasts and have the means to donate to my PayPal account, I would greatly appreciate anything that you can do.

Something else that is extremely helpful to me is receiving comments from the readers letting me know what they think of the posts, sharing their own stories about music and offering constructive feedback. This helps to motivate me by letting me know that I'm not just talking to the wall, and that what I am doing here makes a difference.

The following set of songs have a strong psychedelic funk vibe with some garage rock, experimental and jazz rounding out the proceedings.

I Hear a New World Vol.19

1) Los Destellos- Onsta La Yerbita- 6:19
2) Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba- Ne Me Fatigue Pas- 3:48
3) Beauregarde- I Got Something- 3:04
4) Darling Dears- I Don't Think I'll Ever Love Another- 3:53
5) Unknown Mortal Orchestra- One At a Time- 2:27
6) Useless Eaters- Black Night Ultraviolet- 3:32
7) Chad VanGaalen & Xiu Xiu- Your Own Minds End- 3:35
8) The Litter- Whatcha Gonna Do About It- 2:27
9) Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids- Aomawa- 5:35
10) Meridian Brothers- Desesperanza- 5:29
11) My Bloody Valentine- If I Am- 3:54
12) Thee Oh Sees- Minotaur- 4:53

Please drop me a line, and let me know what you think of this edition of I Hear a New World.