Sunday, 17 October 2010

Stereolab & Nurse With Wound/ GusGus

I haven't really contributed to this fine blog yet so I might as well start off with a few basic recommendations, to ease myself into this:

Stereloab & Nurse With Wound - Simple Headphone Mind (1997)

An excellent collaboration between these two artists, a true experience. It's incredibly catchy and quite hypnotic in all its minimalism. Get your headphones out and listen to this excellent, if short, album as soon as you can.


GusGus - Polydistortion (1997)

Incredibly danceable trip-hop album from the Icelandic group GusGus with quite accurate artwork. The warm electronic beats cloud your senses and transport you elsewhere. Just like when you're underwater, it gives off feeling a of freedom, loss of control and inhibition. It's as soothing as trip-hop's supposed to be, whilst being quite fun.


So there you go, two gems from 1997.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Shoegazing Origins

Ok, so maybe I lied about doing this every week. How about I modify that to as often as I can. Some of you out there may look at a guy who reviews shoegaze albums and think, “Where's Loveless?” Well, I just won't do it. We all know how classic that album is and when My Bloody Valentine get off their asses to release a new album, I may honor them here with a review. Besides, how could you be arsed to read these entries if you had never heard Loveless before, anyway?

The classic:

Cocteau Twins – Treasure (1984)

I was going to go with a different album, but decided it wasn't obscure enough. Although, it's not as if the Cocteau Twins are very obscure. If you don't know about them, you should. This is also not a shoegaze album. Rather, it is considered “dreampop”, but shoegaze stemmed from dreampop and one listen to this album should show you how the Cocteau Twins most definitely inspired the development of shoegaze a few years later. Atmospheric guitars? Check. Intense dreamy melodies? Check. Indecipherable lyrics? Check. If there are two bands that influenced the genre more than anything, it would be the Cocteau Twins and the Jesus and Mary Chain (I was about to review Darklands, but you've already heard that, right? RIGHT?). The Cocteau Twins lent their melodic pop structures while the Jesus and Mary Chains inspired the wall of guitars that are so prevalent in shoegaze. Listen to this album then listen to Darklands and then check out Black Tambourine from my last entry. Pretty soon you'll be saying, “So THAT's where shoegaze came from!”

The Cocteau Twins started with a ton of gothic influence that slowly faded away with each album. Garlands could easily find a place next to a trenchcoat and black nail polish. The gothic influence fades a bit with Head Over Heels and with Treasure there is only a very subtle hint of it. It feels as if the band matured over each album and this progression really worked for them. They just got better and better. They made the kind of music that gets you thinking, “Where has this been my whole life?” Robin Guthrie is the master of dreamy guitars and Liz Fraser's unintelligible singing adds a level of mystery to the music that sets this band apart from any other. I would be very surprised if you listened to this album and it didn't inspire a feverish hunt to collect all of their music.

The whole album is great from top to bottom, but standouts are “Lorelei”, “Pandora”, and “Aloysius”. “Lorelei” in particular definitely has elements of later shoegaze in it. What does this album get? 9.5/10. Yep.


The new:

Asobi Seksu – Citrus (2006)

Asobi Seksu is a New York based band that has been building a reputation for themselves the past few years. They may not be as obscure as some of the other bands I will be reviewing in the future, but they are far and away my favorite recent shoegaze band. That's why they deserve a review, and of course your attention. This is a band I can credit the online radio Pandora for introducing to me.

For some reason, shoegaze seems like it would fit perfectly with some Asian influence. Asobi Seksu pretty much prove that one. Yuki Chikudate is so freaking cute. I want a cute Asian girl to serenade me with shoegaze everyday. If you couldn't tell, my mind wonders to unmentionable fantasies while I listen to this band. It doesn't help that their name translates roughly to “playful sex” in Japanese (which also fits in very nicely with the music itself). Emotional and playful at the same time, “Asobi Seksu” is the perfect name for them.

Citrus is another good example of how advanced production techniques can improve even a relatively unknown band's sound. The album sounds slick and polished with very clear guitars (yet still with plenty of crunch behind them) and subtle synthesizers. This is also a strange album as it sounds as if each good song that comes on is good only because of sheer luck. Then the next song is even better. That's when I think to myself, “Ok, but the next album will be crap.” I was wrong about that one, too. Hush is even more subtle and intricate (though it borders on straight ahead dreampop rather than shoegaze). Check that out if you dig Citrus. Asobi Seksu really know what they are doing. Standouts are “Strawberries”, “New Years”, and “Thursday”. Ok, well, the whole album really. I give it an 8.5/10. 


Thursday, 26 August 2010

Epic choonz: David Sylvian & Fantômas

As my first post here for quite some time, I'm gonna give you another one from the more difficult corner of my music collection. This couple of albums that may interest you are, as the title says, 'epic choonz'. In English, these are two albums which are comprised of one insanely long track each. Here we go then...

David Sylvian - When Loud Weather Buffeted Naoshima (2007)

1. When Loud Weather Buffeted Naoshima - 70:23

As the first epic I'm going to leave you with in this post, I'll be tossing a rather nice and very rare David Sylvian piece your way. While you may have heard his voice over some glammed-up new wave in the guise of Japan (probably his most famous work of all), and maybe a song like Red Guitar or Forbidden Colours, you should know that there's a whole different side to his songwriting, that being his various experiments with minimalist ambient music, often with the help of Can's Holger Czukay, the Future Sound Of London or King Crimson's Robert Fripp among others, often by himself. This here, originally commissioned in 2006 as an installation piece by the Fukutake Art Museum Foundation on the island of Naoshima (Japan), is probably about as left-of-centre as Sylvian's work in that (or perhaps any other) field got.

It's hard to describe this album as anything other than the the lame, allmusic-esque words I'll put in the tags regarding this (ambient, avante-garde and minimalist if you want to know), but overall I'd say it's among my favourite of Sylvian's releases. There's no hook that lasts throughout the whole length of the track, as there would be in most other ambient music. It's more of a 70 minute fluctuation of heavily-treated voices, sampled recordings of the environment of Naoshima itself, off-kilter synths, the occasional bursts of distorted guitars or brass, all melded together into one long, very minimalist and chilled whole - just get hold of it, whip out a good book, stick it on and find out for yourself I guess.

Fantômas - Delìrium Còrdia (2004)

1. Theatre Of Operations - 74:17

And as for the second epic I'll be leaving you with, here's one of the more hidden little treasures from Mike Patton's insanely varied musical career - a man I'm sure you've heard of before in some form or other, be it as the lead singer of Faith No More, Peeping Tom, Mr. Bungle or whatever. I haven't had as good a dig around his back-catalogue as I'd like to have done, but from having heard a good propotion of it I can say that, along with Mr. Bungle's mighty Disco Volante, this is probably as 'far out' so to speak as Patton's ever been.

So, like the David Sylvian album above, this is another obscure effort from a famous singer and songwriter and, also like the David Sylvian album above, it's as far removed from the kind of music you'd expect to hear from the famous singer and songwriter in question. Again, there's a lack of any kind of hook to reel you in, but in its place is a much more intense, unsettling and very dark atmosphere, drawing on a diverse range of genres including ambient, drone, metal, easy listening and so on. It's an album-long track with a specific concept as well but in this case, rather than it being something as quaint as the Japanese island of Naoshima as above, the concept is that of surgey without anesthesia (hence the single track's title). It's basically a horror movie soundtrack - one which uses sudden loud noises, nonsensical chants and screams, eerie instrumentations and a very creepy, dark ambient atmosphere to create such a brilliantly intense series of musical movements. It's just a labyrinth of highs, lows, mellow patches, scares etc.

Creepy stuff. Listen to it in the dark and enjoy!


Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Echelon Effect - Reunion (2009)

The Quiet Man in the Corner

Hello friend. My name is Tim. I'll begin with just a small run down of how I got here. It started with New Age and Native American music.. along with Trance and some Hardcore. Then I began to get into other forms of club oriented Electronica and also Black Metal. Then after a long time of trial and error I became a fan of pretty much anything that was either atmospheric, or very rich in whatever their sound was. If I was on the search for Black Metal I wanted the darkest, if I was looking for Post Rock I wanted the most gorgeous, if I was looking for Modern Classical I wanted the most expressive.. and so on. I'll pretty much give anything a try at least once. But without further adieu, my first review!

The Echelon Effect - Reunion (2009) 

The Echelon Effect is an artist I happen to find on accident, thanks to YouTube. It is the name of a solo project started by the man David Walters in the UK. His sound can pretty much be described as a mix of Ambient and Post Rock with a good heap of gorgeousness. The tracks are so bright and sunny it's hard to be sad while listening. Some songs may be slower or more quiet than others, but there is no darkness to be found. He utilizes a good amount of instruments which really help keep everything interesting. My personal favorite are the bells. They bring so much optimism to the table it can single-handedly reverse any negativity you were harboring before turning on any of the tracks that feature them; namely

In this album you can go from what sounds like the usual Post Rock (Summing Velocities) to songs like which is like a huge wall of sound and is, in a word, humbling. It starts quiet and then builds and builds and builds. The whole album is an experience and may have made The Echelon Effect one of my absolute favorite artists. He fills a niche I've been trying to fill for awhile now. If you are into Post Rock, Ambient, or anything gorgeous at all, you owe it to yourself to check him out.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Nothings Shocking: The Child Molesters, Feederz, Der Fuckemos

This is my expose of "shock" punk/rock...I have decided to concentrate on three bands....The Child Molesters, Feederz, and Fuckemos.....all three represent a hilarious politically incorrect morbid sense of humor which I think if you listen to with a good sense of humor you can really enjoy....take these with a grain of salt and maybe even find a new anthem!

The Child Molesters - Wir Lieben Die Jugendlich Mädchen (1981)

First off let me say that research a band call "The Child Molesters" was quite a feet and more than likely has put me on some weird Chris Hanson watch group....and to be honest there is little known about them....and most of the stuff I did find contradicted other stuff written about them...what I found was that The Child Molesters were a late 70s early 80s punk rock band from L.A....they were well known for their incredibly insulting lyrics about murder, homosexuals, and the obvious...they had a very hard time booking shows due to their name and the fact that they dressed in nazi uniforms all the way down to the arm band.

To start is an EP titled 'Wir Lieben Die Jugendlich Mädchen' this was released as 12" and basically consists of two early 7"s...this consist of four classic funny my surprise these are really good catchy punk rock songs....with just gut busting lyrics ranging from songs about being a fucked up person (I'm So (Fucked Up) ) to being in love with a 13 year old (13 Is My Lucky Number) and right into my personal favorite song I'm Gonna Punch You In The Face these are just great fun stupid punk songs....enjoy.

Feederz - Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss? (1984)

I think out of these three bands Feederz are the most notorious due Kurt Cobain sporting a Feederz sticker...which read "Vandalism: Beautiful Like A Rock In A Cop's Face" on his guitar during Nirvana's tour with Sonic Youth in Europe of 91 (made famous in the film 1991: The Year Punk Broke) they were originally from Arizona but fled to San Francisco after their first show in which their amazing lead singer Frank Discussion pointed an AR-15 loaded with blanks at the audience and fired upon them.....they are also legends due to their infamous show at Gilman in Berkley where he played the entire set with a dead dog wrapped around his neck and threw other road kill at the audience.....Feedrz take a complete Situationist approach to punk rock with lyrics which are critical of all government, consumerism and religion.....this is their first full length release and was originally packaged in a sleeve made out of sand paper in hopes that it would ruin any other album that may come near was later re-released with less abrasive cover art.

This album is just amazingly good angry punk rock which are very much like the cover itself with songs about necrophilia (Dead Bodies) and the joys of terrorism (Terrorist) and their all time classic Jesus...which originally appeared on the Alternative Tenticles compilation "Let Them Eat Jelly Beans"...if your in the mood for fast well played subversive punk rock put this on and turn it up.

Fuckemos - Can Kill You (1994)

Noise rock from Austin Texas and like the other famous band from Austin (Butthole Surfers) they are incredibly unique....the singers voice reminds me of someone who has been up for days eating quaaludes and huffing compressed air....their name is actually gear towards a club in Austin called "Emos" not the stupid sub genre...although it works both ways.

"As is the case with a multitude of other bands from Austin, TX -- consider the case of the Butthole Surfers, Big Boys, Dicks, or Roky Erickson -- the Fuckemos reside in near-alien peculiarity, a hodgepodge of absolute originality, savant-wizardry, punk rock playfulness, and absurdity. The band owns the distinction of possessing a name not reprintable in most publications. Musically, this quartet is a hybrid of the aforementioned Butthole Surfers and the straightforward metal of acts like Judas Priest or Dio. With frontman Russell Porter pitch-shifting his vocals to sound like a 78 record played on 33 rpms and using themes that even Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes might not have touched, the Fuckemos are perhaps one of the strangest metal bands to have emerged from planet Texas....(Patrick Kennedy) "

This is seriously one of my all time favorite records....every song on here is a hit.....these songs are catchy, funny and memorable....with great lyrics blanketed by warm fuzzy guitar noise and even the occasional horn.... from the opener "The Screams Of The Wild Women" where the singer repeats in almost mantric style "Pussy Photos" the fist pumping "FUCK EMOS".....there is even a sad ballad about a depressed führer who is trapped in a bunker and thinking about suicide....seriously these songs are just a fun rambunctious riot of bad taste....

"Mother Tell Your Children, Children Tell Your Friends:
That We Are Not One Of Those Pussy Ass Dipshit Trendy Rock Alternative Bands!"

Quickspace - Precious Falling (1998)

Here's another underrated and overlooked band from me that is hardly mentioned, this time from the 90s. Quickspace was a London band formed in the mid 90s by the ex-
Th' Faith Healers member Tom Cullinan. After releasing three albums and many singles they completely disappeared in the new millennium. And while they lasted they were pretty low profile band, releasing quietly their music on their own, a true indie band in the original sense of the word. Maybe all of this contributed to them being relatively forgotten (at least I have that feeling), but their music certainly deserves to be remembered. They were often referred to as "Stereolab that rocks", so it is perhaps understandable that in the mid-90s Brit-pop preoccupied UK they would pass under the radar. Like Stereolab, Quickspace was heavily influenced by kraut-rock, especially Neu! and can be seen as a part of that 90s neo-kraut scene that went hand in hand with post-rock scene. Their music could be described as Neu! meets Stereolab through The Fall and Spacemen 3 (Are you interested now?) But, to me, their biggest strength is a pop sensibility and the ability to always have a lot of fun.

'Precious Falling' is their second album from 1998. and is a great example of their versatility, experimenting with influences and general spontaneity. These 13 songs range from fun kraut-rocking songs with catchy, repetitive, noisy beats like 'Death + Annie', 'Quickspace Happy Song No. 2', 'Walk Me Home' and my favorite 'Coca Lola' to the more mellow, dreamy and moody songs like 'Mouse', 'Minors' and 'Melo' and in the end to some real cinematic tracks like electronic 'Habib', melancholic 'The Mountain Waltz' and excellent closing track 'Goodbye Precious Mountain' which has that desert, spacey feel of one Ennio Morricone. So, let us all remind ourselves what real indie 90s had to offer.


The Late Cord - Lights From the Wheelhouse (2006)

Bliss, happiness, gaiety, optimism, joviality, feelings of hopefulness, it's all overrated. What's the point in struggling and striving for these temporary forms of relief? The truth is, there isn't any. Staring down the abyss of nothingness is a bleak, but pleasurable way to live to your life. I think these despairing sentiments are what The Late Cord are trying to convey.

Sadly, this is their only EP. Five tracks in length. But five tracks that will endure through the loneliest of nights. The most outstanding track on this album in my opinion, "My Most Meaningful Relationships Are With Dead People" is truly one of the most mortifying tracks I've ever heard. The Late Cord's depressing tones and melancholic atmospheres are simply perfect for a soul in solace.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Doughboys - When Up Turns To Down (2006)

It's saddening and fucked up that these guys don't get the recognition they deserve. And they're out since the early 90's for Christ's sake. I think it's just that they've had their own string of bad luck, from internal problems, to poor marketing but if you give them the chance they deserve you won't regret it.

I came across them a couple of years ago, this being the first EP that I heard, and I loved them right away from that first beautiful melodic rift of "When Up Turns To Down". It's a great EP to start off with, being that it's a sparse five tracks in length. And every track is lovely. Definitely one of the best bands to come out of the 90's, so give this album a listen and I can guarantee you'll be rummaging through the depths of the internet for more of their albums. My recommendation would definitely be to start with their earlier stuff. And of course, you trust your Dr. don't you?


Monday, 16 August 2010

The Shoegaze Dichotomy

hHello all. This being my first post for this blog, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself. I am duga and though I have a very eclectic music collection, shoegaze is the genre that has captivated the majority of my attention. I have no qualms about reviewing other types of music (you may even see the occasional metal album pop up), but for the most part I would love to enlighten everyone in a type of music that is often overlooked despite its amazingly orchestrated and beautiful songs.

The first thing most people think of when they hear shoegaze (if they have heard that word at all) is My Bloody Valentine. If you think the pinnacle of shoegaze is Loveless, then you have sadly been deprived. Sure, there are emotive melodies buried in walls of guitar in most shoegaze, but there is quite a lot of diversity out there. It just takes a bit more digging than usual. That, or you can read my blog.

Despite its incredibly underground nature, shoegaze has seen a bit of a revival in the past decade. Though the main theme is still melody through noise, better recording tools have allowed for much more experimentation. There was a limit to the sounds that could be produced in the early 90's, made apparent by the ungodly amount of money Kevin Shields spent perfecting his tone. The result of this better technology is incredibly smooth and polished shoegaze, which the genre desperately needed. This, however, leaves a daunting amount of material to sift through. Should I go with old or new? Well, I say both. In my shoegaze blogs I will do quick reviews of two albums, one old and one new.

The classic:

Black Tambourine - Complete Recordings (1999)

If there was ever any confusion about who the shortest-lived-yet-still-influential band is, then let there be confusion no more. This is that band. Active in the late 80's and early 90's, Black Tambourine never even released a proper album. What we get is their Complete Recordings. Now, I know a new compilation was just released this year, but I haven't listened to it and I doubt it will shed much new light on this band.

So, what exactly did they do? They basically combined the pop sensibilities of New Wave and the crazed wall of guitars that the Jesus and Mary Chain were infamous for. That in itself isn't much, and in all honesty the band isn't anything absolutely earth shattering, but they influenced the scene all the same. Later shoegaze bands took their basic idea and ran with it. The length of time they actually had to write music together must also be taken into account. This band could have become something huge. Stand out tracks are “For Ex-Lovers Only” and “Pack You Up”. 7/10, yet still a shoegaze essential.


The new:

Soundpool - Dichotomies and Dreamland (2008)
Coming from New York, Soundpool is a band that really deserves everyone's attention. Dichotomies and Dreamland is the perfect title for this album. The dichotomy comes from the idea that they have droning guitars and synth while simultaneously having a very danceable rhythm section. Anyone vaguely familiar with this genre knows it is not particularly danceable. Soundpool pulls it off flawlessly.

The album kicks off with a short intro piece and a pretty decent opening number, but the album really caught my attention when “Butterflies” came around. I love the album experience and very rarely skip or repeat tracks, but that one got put on repeat a couple times. I would say all of the tracks are incredibly well written and there isn't a dud in the whole bunch. Though I would describe their album as “dance shoegaze”, that tag really does not do this band justice. You will just have to listen to the album to understand what I mean. Soundpool really hit on something magical and I am very excited to hear what else they can do. In fact, they recently released a new album this year that I have yet to listen to. Expect a post on that album in the near future as well. This one gets a 9/10.


*As always, links are for promotion only and will be removed upon request. And please let me know if there are issues with the links.

Zoinks! - Bad Move Space Cadet (1995)

Zoinks! was punk rock band from Reno Nevada which formed in 92/93 and played until 98....originally a three piece these guys play hundreds of shows is Reno and released a few 7 inches on Satans Pimp before signing to Dr Strange Records....this album is their first full length....this is 36 minutes of classic pop punk....and i mean good pop punk not watered down bullshit....being a little punk rocker in Reno during this time...these guys were in many ways my heros....and i saw them as often as i could...which was often!....i must have played this record smooth.....every track on this is classic....songs about love life and a healthy obsession with Uma Thurman....just expect good fun punk rock with no agenda....turn it up and let the good times roll
the sample in between songs are telephone call between the owner of a club called "The Fall Out Shelter" and a guy named Pete (who put on almost every show at the time) and Pete's zine called Enema...hiliarious