Friday, January 30, 2009

Hip Hop Fridays: Rascalz "Really Livin'" (1992)

Where did it all go wrong, Rascalz? You came out of nowhere in 1992 (originally called yourselves the Ragga Muffin Rascals) and dropped the underground, stoned-out classic that is "Really Livin,'" which has had beat-heads across the globe hunger for this hard-to-find debut. Then you disappeared for 5 years and came out with the over-hyped, over-played "Northern Touch" single, which garnered you a Juno Award that you eventually declined. But it's pretty much been all downhill from there. I suppose that we'll always have this debut.

After Maestro Fresh Wes dropped his two classic singles, "Conductin' Thangs" and "Let Your Backbone Slide," the door was suddenly opened for the lowly Canadian hip-hop artists, though, I must say, we haven't done much better since. Anyways, Rascalz answered the call on the West Coast with their blunted and heady "Really Livin'" debut. The duo are clearly indebted to Cypress Hill here, as fattened horns and thick bass dominate the production, not to mention gratuitous lyrics about THC love. Hardly the most original or inspiring album to come out at the time, but it's still stands as one of the greatest Canadian hip-hop albums, not that there's much competition.

Best Track: Migraine

Download "Really Livin'" here.

Video for "Really Livin'"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Belong "Colorless Record" 12" (St. Ives)

When I was compiling my year end list I knew that a few records would slip through the cracks. While cleaning up and re-organizing my LPs the other night, I came across this briefly forgotten gem, namely, Belong's "Colorless Record". I missed this one because the sleeve is made of another recycled sleeve that was turned inside out, thus having no spine and being near-impossible to detect in the stacks. Anyways, it seems as if the record flew under a lot of other year-end lists, as I didn't see it mentioned anywhere else, though there was a bit of blog hype when it dropped near the beginning of '08. It's really no wonder this one got lost, however, because this 12" EP was limited to a mere 300 copies and didn't take long to vanish.

Belong are a duo from New Orleans who struck ambient-drone gold with 2006's "October Language", garnering a small applause of praise from anyone who happened upon it. The duo took the static fuzz of Fennesz and Tim Hecker and the dreamy swarm of Kevin Shield's guitar, and refined it into a warm morphine wash that enveloped the listener's skull. This follow up takes that sound and plies it atop 4 semi-obscure psych-pop songs from the late 60s. Tracks like Billy Nicholl's Girl From New York sound as if they are being heard in a recurring dream--distant and hazy but oddly familiar. Each of the four songs are so submerged that they are almost unrecognizable, though a chorus here and there will float to the surface, only to be pushed back under the weight of the haze. William Basinski's Disintegration Loops also come to mind. But rather than slowly disintegrating tape loops, the tracks here sound as if they've been endlessly looping on a turntable that's on it's last legs.

Though this idea of taking older songs and modifying them through electronics is not a new idea (see Tim Hecker's destructive take on Van Halen in "My Love Is Rotten To The Core", Fennesz's drastic reworkings of Beach Boys and Rolling Stones classics and Ekkehard Ehlers many deconstructions of artists like Robert Johnson and Albert Ayler), Belong bring their own unique touch to these songs and breathe new life into them.

Late Night

Original version of Late Night by Syd Barrett

Cleaners From Venus cover of Late Night, which is the actual track used in the Belong re-working


Original version of Beeside by Tintern Alley

My Clown

Original version of My Clown by July

Girl From New York

Original version by Billy Nicholls

Download here. (via Flockheart)

Monday, January 26, 2009

HoZac Hookup Klub 2009

Just got the email sendout from one Chicago's finest record labels, HoZac, who are launching their singles club for 2009. $75 in Canada ($65 in the USA) will net you 10 singles from up and comers like Seattle's Idle Times (harsh bedroom punker), Austin's Woven Bones (hot off a split 7" with the poised-to-blow-up Jacuzzi Boys), Uganda's (?) Art Thieves (fiery scuzzers who are also about to drop a number on Siltbreeze) Brooklyn's Teeth (Blank Dogs side-project!), Omaha's Box Elders ("cave pop" outfit who penned one of last year's great tracks, "Hole In My Head"...check the myspace for it), and LA's Dum Dum Girls (seriously excited about these girls right now. The ongoing Vivian Girls lovefest/backlash, and the hunt for the next all-girl garage band should open a few doors for these ladies. Do yourself a favor and check out their newest joint on myspace, Jail La La, which has one of the sweetest hooks I've heard in months. On repeat at thee Expressway! Upcoming 12" EP also due out on Mike Sniper's (Blank Dogs) Captured Tracks label)

The rest of the 7"ers go out to Tee Pee (who have releases forthcoming on Jerkwave, Florida's Dying and Sweet Rot), White Mystery (female singer with a PJ Harvey kinda thang going on...but jangly!), Mississippi's Flight (don't know much about these guys, but the tracks on their myspace are pretty good) and the extremely new Mother Of Tears, who also hail from Chi-Town.

We've barely stepped foot into 2009 and I'm already broke as shit. Send yr money this a-way.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hip Hop Friday: Mad\/illain 2 (2008)

The release of Mad\/illain 2 seemed to drop under the radar, most likely due to it initially being released as an itunes exclusive. Well, the album was considered good enough to press to wax, unfortunately no cover art was used and the 2LP set comes in an unsuspecting blank white sleeve. It's no matter because the beats contained within are almost as good as the original, with some being even better. This is no mere remix of the album, it's actually a complete reworking. Doom's rhymes stay the same, but a whole new fresh dropping of beats have been used. If this were to have been released as the first version of the album, there is no doubt that it still would've attained the same critical and fan acclaim. If you're already familiar with Madlib beats then you can expect the same tight, short samples and that distinctly shaky bass. There are also a few extra instrumental tracks to distance the album even further from the original. I would snatch this one up quick because I'm sure Stones Throw's people will be all over this once they find it (hence using the forward & back slashes to form the V). I tried to pick just 1 or 2 of my favorite tracks for previewing pleasure but just couldn't help myself.

You know the rest: you like it-- buy it. Though I would recommend copping it on vinyl, which, apparently, is in a limited run.

No Brain


Drainos (The reworking of this isn't as great as some of the others, but check out that piano loop that drops about 2 and half minutes in. Jaw dropping)

Boulder Holder

Fluid (Instrumental)

Snatch Part 1 here.

Scoop Part 2 here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2008 Round Up. We. Are. Done.

This is it. I am finally done. 2008 has been fully digested and placed into little lists. I still lose a little sleep thinking about what I might have missed.

Favorite Records Labels of 2008

Sacred Bones. NYC-based label that released one of the first Blank Dogs singles and also issued his "On Two Sides" LP on CD has had an amazing run in its first completed year of existence (see my last blog entry for more info) and is poised to have another great run in 2009. Upcoming releases by 13th Chime, Gary War, Spirit Photography and a highly anticipated split 7" by Meth Teeth and Christmas Island should help continue the frenzy that this little label has stirred up.

Not Not Fun. Another great year for this still rather young label. More LPs dropped this year on NNF than any other previous year, though they still put out plenty of great looking/sounding cassettes, not to mention the monolithic full length CD by The Goslings, "The Occasion". The Pink Lumionous Invocation and Blank Realm cassettes were especially amazing, while LP releases by Scorces, Raccoo-oo-oon, Barn Owl, Magic Lantern, and Sun Araw get high grades, too. The future releases seem dedicated to LP with upcoming full lengths by Ducktails, Sun Araw/Predator Vision, and Mythical Beast, among many others. Don't forget to sign up for their always amazing 7" subscription series.

Sloow Tapes. Got hep to this cassette-only label earlier this year and have been collecting every release since. Great aesthetic that Thurston Moore once dubbed "earth-psych", and I would have to agree. Most of the groups, who hail from all over the globe, usually employ unusual instruments and add enough damaged effects to help take them to new realms. Very collectable label too. Many of the releases from the first two years (2006-07) have flipped for 5 times the original value.

Arbor. Best year yet for Mike Pollard's fledgling cassette/LP/CDR/7" label. Awesome cosmic jams from Infinity Window, Strange Water, Bee Mask, Steve Hauschildt, and his own solo drone project, Treetops. Best release, however, goes out to the downer-dub drones of Pocahuanted's "Island Diamonds", which is one of their best releases in a loooong line (almost 30 in two years!) of steady output. Upcoming LP releases from Infinity Window, Kites and Dead Machines should keep up the growing interest in the label.

Stunned Records. Phil, who also drums in Magic Lantern, started the label up this year and has released a myriad of sounds on either CDR or cassette, all of which have had pretty amazing artwork. The Sun Araw "Boat Trip" 3"CDR was recently re-issued as 12" vinyl on Woodsist, but you regular readers already knew that. Short runs of 50 or less have kept releases hard to find, the growing interest in the label should hopefully change that. Try DNT's distro or Fusetron to catch up.

Plustapes. Don't have much info on this very very new label, but I can tell you that the focus of this cassette-only imprint, at least so far, is re-issuing hard-to-find/long-lost world psych albums. I managed to scoop up a copy by a fuzzy surf-garage band from Peru named Los Holy's, who had a member go on to the infamous Tarkus. Three other releases came from an Indonesian all-girl garage group, Dara Puspita, all 3 of which were snapped up in the first few hours of the Aquarius new release listing. Keep an eye out for these, as Aquarius Records seems to be the only supplier right now.

Sweet Rot. After being prescient enough to put out one of the first Blank Dogs releases (seems to be the second), Vancouver's Sweet Rot Record's stock rose quickly and has since gained distribution by every major independent distributor from here to Western Europe. Subsequent releases by Meth Teeth and Love Tan quickly sold out, though you can still nab some recent 7"s by Dead Luke (very recommended) and AH Kraken at yr local grocer. Next year Sweet Rot will make the big leap from 7" releases and into LPs. Upcoming full lengths by Nerve City, Robot Assassins and Meth Teeth. Watch for 'em.

Woodsist/Fuck It Tapes. Pretty much a perfect year for Jeremy Earl's (also of the band Woods) Woodsist imprint. Revered work by Vivian Girls, Wavves, Robedoor, Blank Dogs, Crystal Stilts, and Pink Reason have kept interest in the label at an all-time high, helping his short runs sell out quickly.

Awesome Vistas. Absolutely LOVE this label. Run by San Francisco-based artist Chris Johanson, AV put out 5 releases this year, and all of them have been stunning and packaged with thee utmost love and attention to detail. The releases have been incredibly hard to come by due to small one-time pressings of burgeoning bands in the underground scene like Sic Alps and Thee Oh Sees. I managed to scoop up both those 12"ers from the dependable AQ. Two recent releases by Dragging An Ox Through Water and Jackie-O-Motherfucker were sent via Fusetron. There is no online home for the label, so I would suggest jumping on their releases when you see 'em offered.

Can't forget about DNT, Digitalis, Important, Night People, Florida's Dying, S-S, Siltbreeze, Plastic Idol, Permanent, Castleface, Kill Shaman!, Mt. St. Mtn., and Sound And Fury.

Laziness and just plain old wanting to get this year end shit over with has caused me to skip out on the links. I'm sure everyone knows how to cut and paste. Also, FYI, everything (unless noted) that is listed below and on all the previous lists have come from actual objects in my possession. MP3's do NOT count...unless noted, but it's pretty rare. All links to downloads are merely for previewing and, should you love what you hear, you oughta just go out and buy it. Many of the links provided are to albums that are out of print, which, in that case, I really don't feel bad about sharing.

Favorite Seven Inches

Twin Crystals "Two Girls" (Summer Lovers Unlimited)
Cold Cave "Painted Nails" (Hospital)
Matt K. Shrugg "We Can Just Lie" (Tic Tac Totally)
Zola Jesus "Souer Sewer" (Sacred Bones)
Little Claw "Race To The Bottom" (Siltbreeze)
Meth Teeth "Untitled" (Sweet Rot)
Love Tan "This Land Is No Good" (Sweet Rot)
Dead Luke "Record One" & "Record Two" (Sacred Bones)
Wounded Lion "Carol Cloud" (S-S)
Dan Melchior Und Das Menace "Madame Nhu" (Plastic Idol)
S.I.D.S. "Winter" (Rob's House)
Cave "Butthash" (Trensmat)
Wooden Shjips "Vampire Blues" (Sick Thirst)
FNU Ronnies "Meat" (Richie)
Vivian Girls "I Can't Stay" & "Wild Eyes" (In The Red) & (Woodsist)
WAVVES "Beach Demon/Weed Demon" (Tic Tac Totally)
Ducktails "Beach Point Pleasant" **Never managed to get this one, but the MP3's haven't strayed far from my winamp.
Mayyors "Mayyors" & "Megan's Lolz" **Missed the boat on this one too. Probably will never see it either, considering either 7" go for $50 a pop on ebay now.

Favorite shows

My Bloody Valentine@ The SF Concourse (San Francisco)
Stars of the Lid@The Triple Door (Seattle)
ER LP release party@The ER (Vancouver)
Thee Oh Sees@Pub 340 (Vancouver)
Wet Hair, Peaking Lights and Temptation@The Sweatshop (Vancouver)
The Rita@Anti-Social (Vancouver)
Robe And Allied debut show@Emily Carr Parkade
Barn Owl@Hoko's (Vancouver)
Grouper@Hoko's (Vancouver)
Tunnel Canary reunion & Blue Sabbath Black Cheer@VIVO (Vancouver)
Times New Viking, Health, King Khan, Ghostface/Raekwon and No Age@Pfork Fest (Chicago)
Sebadoh performing "Bubble and Scrape, Mission of Burma doing "Vs." and Public Enemy playing "It'll Take A Nation of Millions..."@ATP's Don't Look Back at the Pfork Fest (Chicago)
Wolf Eyes/The Rita/Sick Buildings@Pat's (Vancouver)
AH Kraken & Love Tan@The Sweatshop (Vancouver)

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few here, but these are the ones I either wrote about or have very fond memories of.

Re-Issues (Vinyl only)

Magnetic Fields "Get Lost" & "Charm of the Highway Strip" (Merge)
Debris "Static Disposal" (Anopheles)
Mission of Burma "Vs." & "Signals, Calls & Marches" (Matador)
Metallica's first four albums, especially the over the top 4LP boxset of "...And Justice For All" (Warner Import)
Whitehouse "Total Sex", "Ascetisists" & "Erector" (Very Friendly)
Scott Walker 1-4 (4 Men With Beards)
Silver Apples "s/t" (Phoenix)
Tim Buckley "Starsailor' (4 Men With Beards)
Animals & Men "Never Bought. Never Sold" (Mississippi)
Simon Finn "Pass The Distance" (Mayfair Music)
The Clean "Compilation" (Little Axe)
Mayo Thompson "Corky's Debt To His Father" (Drag City)
Gary Higgins "Red Hash" (Drag City)
July "s/t" (Sweet Dandelion)
Damon & Naomi "More Sad Hits" (20/20/20)
The Left Banke "Walk Away Renee" & "Too" (Shasam)
Brainbombs "Live At Smalands Nation, Lund, Sweden, May 29 1993" (Richie)
Kain "Blue Guerilla" (bootleg)
Soggy "s/t" (Memoire Neuve)
Skull Snaps "s/t" (GSF)
J.T. IV "Cosmic Lightning" (Drag City/Galactic Zoo)
Jandek "Ready For The House" (Corwood)
A Sunny Day In Glasgow "Scribble Mural Comic Journal" (Ruined Potential)
Silver Apples "The Garden" (Bully)

Re-Issues (CD only)

Lazy Smoke "Corridor Of Faces" (Arf! Arf!)
Philip Glass "Music in 12 Parts" 4CD (OMM)
Teenage Filmstars "Star" (Artpop)
Brainbombs "Obey" (Armageddon Label)
Sissy Spacek "California Ax" 4CD (Helicopter)
The Replacements everything from "Sorry, Ma..." to "Pleased To Meet Me" (Rhino)
Embryo "Rocksession" (SPV)
Kollektiv "s/t" (Longhair)
Everything on the Showboat/Skystation Japanese psych re-issue label...Taj Mahal Travellers "July, 15 1972", Hiro Yanagida "Hirocosmos", JA Caeser, Takehisa Kosuigi...the list goes on.
New Order "Movement" & "Power, Corruption & Lies" (Rhino)
Shop Assistants "Will Anything Happen" (Cherry Red)
The Mo-Dettes "The Story So Far" (Cherry Red)
The Heads "Dead In The Water" (Rooster)

Top 10 Cassettes (Gonna have to limit myself in this category)

Meth Teeth "Indian Spirits" (self-released)
Steve Hauschildt "Rapt For Liquid Minister"
Dead Luke "s/t" (Ski Fi)
Blank Dogs "Year One" (Woodsist)
N. 213/Jesse Taylor "15 Minutes/Soft Disco" (Isolated Now Waves)
Blank Realm "The Returner" (Not Not Fun)
Eternal Tapestry "Seas Of Silk" (Digitalis Limited)
Acre "Volcanic Legacy" (Bone Tooth Horn)
Brave Priest "Precious Summers" (Stunned)
Predator Vision "II" (Abandon Ship)

Favorite Local Releases

Nu Sensae "s/t" One-sided LP (Isolated Now Waves)
Twin Crystals "Two Girls" 7" (Summer Lovers) & s/t LP (Needs More Ram)
Empress "Movements of the Hand" & "Malleable Shore" (self released)
Connect_icut "They Showed Me The Secret Beaches" (CSAF)
Tunnel Canary "Jihad" 2xLP w/poster (Rundownsun)
Emergency Room compilation LP w/photobook (Grotesque Modern/Nominal)
Defektors "Secret Trials" 7" (Nominal) & "Torn To Pieces" 7" (Hockey Dad)
Flatgrey/The Rita/Sick Buildings/Taskmaster 2x7" (Ketchup Cavern)

Local live action

V. Vecker
Robe And Allied
Empty Love
Nu Sensae
Sex Negatives
Twin Crystals
Shearing Pinx and all related (ie. N. 213, Aerosol Constellations & Les Beyond).

Favorite Blogs

Art Vs. Spastics
Raven Sings The Blues
The Blogglebum Cage (RIP)
Mutant Sounds
7 Inches
FM Shades
7, 10, 12
Scrapyard Forecast

Ok, ETMS is hereby kicking it '09. Regularly scheduled programs like Hip-Hop Fridays and Monthly Cassette Reviews are back in action. Also working on a couple mega-uploads from some sorely forgotten about bands. Thank you for entering Thee Expressway.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2008 Year End List: Psych/Garage/Whatever-Punk Pt.2

Eat Skull "Sick To Death" LP (Siltbreeze)
Siltbreeze's second year back in action was a doozy, and though most of what they released is worth a mention in this here list (Hank IV and The Fabulous Diamonds quickly come to mind) my favorite release came from Portland's Eat Skull. The four-piece do an amazing job at taking their punk leanings and sprinkling them with pop tones, but, of course, heaping on a thick layer of static and fuzz, which helps 'em fit right into the Siltbreeze ethos. Eat Skull are a great addition to a label that has already brought us amazing LP's by like-minded bands like Times New Viking and Sic Alps. If yr currently digging the vibes of them bands, then I suggest you snatch up a piece of these buggers before they get scooped up by Matador and you come home to find yr mom humming along to I Licked The Spider.

Get "Sick To Death" here.

I Licked The Spider

Sic Alps "US EZ" LP (Siltbreeze)
Wrote about these guys in Color already (twice), so I'm gonna cut'n'paste my original review...

Earlier this year Sic Alps seemingly popped out of nowhere and poked a stick into the eye of the mainstream. The Bay Area band, however, have been toiling around for several years, releasing a smattering of tapes, 7”’s, 12”’s and three full length records for the faithful few. Now that the rest of the world is coming around to their catchy, lo-fi sounds, thanks in part to the growing popularity of aesthetically similar groups like No Age and Times New Viking, Sic Alps are breaking through to a wider audience. U.S. EZ is a fantastic primer for the uninitiated, and showcases their penchant for reverb drenched vocals, sloppy guitars, and occasional excursions into noisy jams. The short, tight songs on U.S. EZ display all of the above but manage to bring a pop edge to them that'll have you rippin' this one over and over. Sic Alps aren't exactly re-inventing the rock and roll wheel here but they sure are throwing a playing card into the spokes to make it fun again.


Love Tan "Miscellaneous Night Feelings" LP (Kill Shaman!)
This a huge sound for a two piece; constant skittering and rapid fire drums, unintelligible and muffled vocals combined with a lurching and super-clean guitar that always seems on the verge of completely cutting out. One half of the two-piece has done stints in The Intelligence and is also a member of the Factums. The sound flirts with the pop of the Intelligence and the gnarly post-punk sproing of the more "listenable" Factums records, though the band constantly sound as if they're about to stumble outta the studio. This is an amazing follow-up to their 7" on Sweet Rot, which you can peep below. Contact me to get a hold of a hard copy of the 7"...I got copies!

Snatch the OOP 7" on Sweet Rot here. (via This Guitar...)

This Land Is No Good taken from their s/t 7" on Sweet Rot, which was re-recorded for the LP.

Ty Segall "s/t" 12" (Castleface)
Man, does this one ever jump outta the speakers and bury itself deep into the cranium. 11 tracks of unrestrained, blown-out, and amped up garage rock and, boy, is it ever catchy as all fucking hell. Did I mention he plays it live all on his lonesome (check the video below for proof)? Ty Segall, who also plays live with Thee Oh Sees, dropped this 12" on John Dwyer's Castleface records after releasing several low profile cassettes on Wizard Mountain and a 7" on Chocolate Covered Records. After the hullabaloo of the Thee Oh Sees latest full length (more on that below), Ty Segall became quite the commodity. The cassettes on Wizard Mountain, which had sat on the website for months and months were suddenly scooped up. Try Aquarius Records for a copy of this. Very very recommended.

Grab the impossible-to-find 12" here. (via OngakuBaka) Try Aquarius records for a hard copy.

Go Home from "s/t" 12"

Magic Lantern "s/t" LP (Woodsist) and "High Beams" LP (Not Not Fun)
Though released on the band's own label, Stunned, as a super limited CDR (50 copies) in 2007, the fellers in Magic Lantern kicked up enough of a psych-dust storm to have the keen eye of Woodsist's Jeremy Earl re-issue 500 copies on vinyl. Coupled with the release of the High Beams LP on Not Not Fun, Long Beach's Magic Lantern (not to mention Sun Araw...more on that below) proved to be a breakthrough year for the 5 piece. Channeling the space-rock force of early Hawkwind and dragging it through the mirrored waters of the heavier end of kraut rock (think early Amon Duul), Magic Lantern unleashed two of the most thrilling psych-stompers I e'er laid ears on. Though, on occasion, they mellow out and drift along in sun splashed jungles, they excel when they're shooting for the moon.

Grab High Beams here. (via Sunflower Chakra Milk) Locally interested parties should contact me for a hard copy of either LP. I got 'em.

Sun Araw "The Phynx" CDR (Not Not Fun), "Beach Head" LP (Not Not Fun), and "Boat Trip" (Woodsist) 12"
While Magic Lantern only dabble in the tropical soft-psych, using brief passages to bring the listener down from the lofty heights they tend to climb, Sun Araw's (aka Cameron Stallones, axe-wizard of Magic Lantern) vinyl efforts have extended and expanded those stays in the sun-speckled, acid-drenched jungle. Touches of dub, shimmering chimes, pleasantly haunted vocals, twittering birds, and his distinct watery-wah guitar all make for some of the most visual music laid to wax in 2008.

**Individual tracks for preview for both the Sun Araw and Magic Lantern have proven to be too long for my Muzicon players to upload.

Download Beach Head here. (via Weedtemple)
Scoop up Boat Trip here. (via Sunflower Chakra)

Druid Perfume "s/t" LP (Pigs)
Had to include this one in the list, though it arrived just at the buzzer of '08. Really haven't had too much time to tear into this, but let me tell you this is a bear of a record. Discordant sax skronk, zany theremin, gruff vocals, and a tight-as-all-hell, chugging/pummeling rhythm section coagulate to form this multi-headed monster of a band, who hail from Detroit, natch. 500 copies pressed on brown wax. Snatch it up here.

Yr gonna have to grab a hard copy of this one cuz it ain't out there, though after reading my rave that was yr intention, amiright? Get over to S-S asap!

The Go "Tracking the Trail of the Haunted Beat" 2xLP/CD (Italy)
Speaking of Detroit, last year's top tenners return with a 2 LP set of demos from their beloved, though overlooked, instant classic, Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride. The first LP contains almost completely different versions of tracks from the original, with Yer Stoned Italian Cowboy and Down A Spiral being almost unrecognizable from the original. Down A Spiral is especially striking because the original recording here has been stretched out to 13 minutes and includes the extended coda of Jigsaw Man, morphing the track into a mini dark-psych journey. The first side of the second LP contains acoustic versions of the originals, put to tape by The Go's lead singer, songwriter and head honcho, Bobby Harlow, casting the originals in a starker light. Head over to the Bellyache Candy Shoppe for this one. Housed in a beautiful gatefold sleeve and accompanied with a CD version of the album.

LP 1 here.

LP 2 here. (both via me)

Gimme Back My Love

If someone had played me some Blank Dogs and said they were an obscure group from the post-punk era, I probably wouldn't doubt 'em. Everything that Mike Sniper has released under the Blank Dogs moniker sounds as if it were taken from the Mutant Sounds blog. Heck, even those oddball album covers fail to evoke a sense of the here and now. Perhaps that's whats struck me and many others so hard; the fact that you could never tell that this was made in the last year or so. In a world of over-produced and auto-tuned pop music, it's very satisfying to hear the stripped down sounds of a bedroom-pop genius. And, yes, this is fucking pop music. Though eschewing contemporary recording techniques in favor of an authentic sound is hardly a new concept, it sure is refreshing to hear this in Zulu after having to listen to mall-ready "indie" music for most of the year. Thanks Mike Sniper. I owe you one.

Grab The Fields 12" here. (via Make Mine Marvel)

Get On Two Sides here. (via Tacos)

Snatch up a buncha other singles here. (via me)

Passing the Light taken from The Fields 12"/CS

Thee Oh Sees "The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In" CD and LP (Tomlab and Castleface), "Peanut Butter Oven EP" 12" (Awesome Vistas), Thee Oh Sees/Intelligence split 12" (Mt. St. Mtn.), and "Thee Hounds Of Foggy Notion" CD/DVD (Tomlab)
I caught Thee Oh Sees early in 2008 just weeks before Master's Bedroom dropped. I was expecting a night of the gentle lo-fi folk-pop of the earlier OCS albums, of which I was already big fan of. I did not expect the vivid rock and roll that the band produced that night. I was absolutely blown away by what they played, which consisted of tracks from their forthcoming full length. The CD was soon offered to the shop, I ordered a ton for my staff picks section, and I played the living shit outta that album, much to the eventual chagrin of a few fellow employees. Fuck 'em. This was my album of the year and I was gonna sell it to anyone who'd listen, even if I had to play it every damn day. And listen they did. Eventually Aquarius records got a few copies of the LP, which was released by John Dwyer's own Castleface imprint, and that purple wax still gets plenty of play in this household.

This is a very simple rock and roll record. Encompassing early rock and roll, rockabilly, 60s garage, and a smidge of early punk rock. Master's Bedroom and it's ensuing 12"s create no new notches in rock but, instead, climb the rock ladder to the top and proclaim that yes indeed this is the last great rock record. Ok, I'm totally going overboard here, but that's just how fucking good this record is. I just can't see anyone ever topping it, at least, in the near future. Isn't that what makes a record an all-time favorite/classic? The sheer inability to see beyond it, as if it could be the last record to ever come out and it wouldn't bother you because you already know it's the last record you'll ever need to hear. Can you tell I love this album?

My personal favorite track on the album is the opener, Block Of Ice, though it was a toss up between that, Ghost In The Trees and The Coconut. Anyways, after dozens and dozens of listens, I feel like I've unlocked all of it's secrets. First off, it's an amped up cover of an Intelligence song from last years "Deuteronomy", they borrowed lyrics from The Rolling Stones ("my connection is your connection") and Can ("the things that I love dear are taking to shape"), they lifted the bass line from The Red Krayola's Hurricane Fighter Plane, and they better the original. It's a classic through and through. Below you'll find the original by The Intelligence, both Oh Sees versions and the Red Krayola track for comparison.

Needless to say, "The Master's Bedroom" is my number 1 album of 2008 and has quickly become one of my all-time favorites.

Download it here. (via OngakuBaka)

Grab the impossibly OOP Peanut Butter Oven 12" here. (via OngakuBaka)

Thee Oh Sees "Block Of Ice" taken from Master's Bedroom

Thee Oh Sees "Block Of Ice" taken from Thee Foggy Hounds Of Notion

The Intelligence's original version of Block Of Ice from Deuteronomy

Red Krayola's Hurricane Fighter Plane taken from The Parable Of Arable Land (note the bassline lifted from the song and turned into a guitar riff. I could be wrong on the direct influence but that bassline is so similar... you be the judge.)

Inquiry Perpitrated taken from Peanut Butter Oven 12"

The Hospitals "Hairdryer Peace" LP (self-released)
Culled from over 5 hours of recordings, Hairdryer Peace is a demented psychedelic-noise pastiche of epic proportions, which takes several sittings to fully digest. After their first two records of harsh garage rock, The Hospitals have upped the stakes so high that it'll be nothing short of a miracle if this record is topped in sheer derangedness in the next few years.

This record is not for everyone, but it is a record for those who love a good confounding "rock" record. Anyone who was ever a fan of Royal Trux's "Twin Infinitives" will know exactly what I mean. The record has that same glued together feel as "Twin Infinitives", though it is a bit, errr, groovier. Mounds of static, feedback and tape hiss swirl around monstrous riffs, distorted and washed out vocals, and worn-down keyboards, creating an enthralling, subterranean and extraterrestrial shitstorm the likes of which don't come knockin' too often. Despite the harshness of the record, there are many glimpses of melody that manage to break through the murk'n'mire, though they're swallowed up before they ever have a chance to stick in yr brain. Sometimes those sweet melodies begin all cuddly 'n' innocent before being amplified 1000 fold and jammed directly into yr cochlea (see the Animals Act Natural track posted below). The lyrics "I feel dizzy. I feel stoked," taken from BPPV, are pretty much the exact feelings I get when listening to this album.

Annoyingly out of print. Get it here. Buy it if it ever gets re-issued, which it oughta be, considering how much love the album got from fans and critics.

Animals Act Natural

Other notables...

Dead Luke released an amazing cassette on Sky Fi records that's just brimming with Blank Dogs-esque bedroom wizardry, though he tends to towards the noisier side. He's also dropped a great 7" on Sweet Rot and two 7"s on Sacred Bones.

Speaking of Sacred Bones, damn near everything they've dropped in '08, which is now most of their catalog, has been worth picking up. LP's by The Rebel, Children's Hospital and Pink Noise, and 7"s by Dead Luke, Zola Jesus and Nice Face have all taken the many disparate elements of the last 30-plus years of punk and concocted fresh sounds. Gotta love the overall aesthetic of this label. Wish I had more time and patience to go on about these individually. Lots of great upcoming releases in '09. I'll be keeping you updated on those as they land, as I'm sure a few others will, too.

The A.H. Kraken LP on In The Red was probably the best thing the label dropped in '08. Make sure you check out that 7" that just came out on Sweet Rot. Limited quantities, of course.

The Meth Teeth cassette I raved about earlier this still gets plenty of play 'round here. Full length due out on Sweet Rot next year. Should also be a few 7"s out soon too.

Ok, rounding up the rest of the list in the next few days. It's time to put 2008 to bed. I'm sure most of you already have.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008 Year End List: Psych/Garage/Whatever-Punk Pt.1

AFCGT "s/t" 10" (Dirty Knobby) and "s/t" CDR (Fire Breathing Turtle)
I caught the A Frames Climax Golden Twins open up for Spectrum in Seattle earlier this year. Though the band didn't have anything released at the time, a few months later their self-released CDR popped up on the Aquarius Records new arrivals list. I snatched one up with little hesitation. Criminally, only 50 copies were released of the CDR, leaving all interested fans of either group waiting patiently for an official release. I did post the CDR to my blog and it has remained one of the top downloads from my Mediafire page. Luckily, Dirty Knobby, a Seattle based label who had thus far only released a few 7"s and a CD, pressed up 500 copies (on "manly" 10" red vinyl) of their latest recorded excursions.

Download the CDR here. (via moi)

I got me some copies of the 10". Gimme a shout of yr in need.

"Old Spy" taken from CDR (PS. give this one a minute to get warmed up)

Raccoo-oo-oon "s/t" 2xLP (Not Not Fun)
The final statement by these love 'em or hate 'em Iowa City psych-meisters is also one of their best. Flitting between full-on dirt-kicking psych strangulations, and their much more excursionary flights into electric ambience, Raccoo-oo-oon stuffed almost 5 years of their history into this 80-minute package. Twinkling keys, burning organs, melodica, trumpets, tribalistic drumming, and, of course, Shawn Reed's feverish and wordless incantations boil over together to create a swampy soup of dark psychedelia. The utmost recommendations go out to this record and everything the band has released and gone on to do (see: Wet Hair).

Over the past four years the Raccoo-oo-oon faithful have built up into a small army, and when this final release was issued by Not Not Fun, all 500 copies disappeared in about a week. Copies can be found at the usual suspects, though I recommend checking Fusetron asap. Also, for all locally interested parties, I have a few spare copies up for sale. Or you can just check the fucker out for free and weep at the lost opportunity...

Download here. (via No Not Fun Not No)

"Untitled II"

Cave "Hunt Like Devil/Jamz" LP/CD (Permanent) and split with California Raisins 10" (Permanent)
Chicago's Cave seemingly popped out of nowhere and dropped three jaw-dropping releases of fuzzy, repetitious proto-metal/kraut jams. Anyone a little disappointed by Oneida's recent dip into deep space explorations will find much solace in these here gems. Traversing the same kraut path as Oneida, Wooden Shjips or early Circle, Cave also manage to take things a little further and, consequentially, end up in the same neck-breaking stutter-groove as Lightning Bolt. Fiery wah, dense and hissy drums, repetitive fuzz lead guitar, and vocoder'd vocals climb up and down the kraut ladder so fast it's enough to make ya' dizzy. Anyone who's a fan of the above mentioned bands need to check this group out post-haste!

California Raisins
The flip side of the Cave split 10" is owned by the now-defunct California Raisins. I had no idea who this outfit was when I ordered this through AQ, and googling their name yielded nothing but those fucking dancing raisins. When the record finally arrived and I flipped the record over to the CR side, I was absolutely floored. The two groups shared the same penchant for repetitious and jagged rhythms, but the desperate, shredding Six Finger Satellite vocals were what really caught my tongue. Could it be that their existed a group who paid homage to my beloved Six Finger Satellite and drove that sound even farther than SFS ever did? Yes. Yes there was. I contacted Permanent Records in Chicago (regular readers may remember my gushing on about them here) to see what they knew about the band. I was crushed to learn that these were the only released recordings by the recently disbanded group. It comes as no surprise; any group molding themselves after SFS and taking that death-vibe even further is sure to not last long. At least we'll always have that ten inch.

Snatch both the Cave LP and California Raisins split here. (via Ill Formed)

California Raisins "Down at the Flophouse"

Cave "Butthash"

Billy Bao "Dialectics Of Shit" (Parts Unknown)
Keeping things heavy here, we move on to the pummeling punk sludge of Billy Bao, whom I've mentioned here before. Bao has concocted a violent mix of Jack Endino-era grunge riffage and the anarcho-punk leanings of The Ex, and has tossed in an extra layer of feedback, a coupla' lock grooves in the middle of the record, and pushed the whole sound well into the red. These are the makings of a damn fine and highly original punk record.

Capture the beast here. (via No Not Fun Not No) **Note: the band is viciously anti-copyright and freely host links to various uploads on their own site. Guilt-free downloads!

"I'm Billy Bao, Right Here Right Now"

Nothing People "Anonymous" LP (S-S)
After 2 well received 7"s on S-S, California's Nothing People finally drop their debut full length. The band is firmly entrenched in their post-punk fixations (Chrome and Pere Ubu easily come to mind) but they're careful to not wade in those waters for too long. By adding fiery guitar solos, fuzz bass, hook-laden choruses and some bouncy synth, the four piece have concocted a record almost listenable enough for Dad.

Cannot find this one any where, so yr on yr own.


Factums "The Sistrum" LP+7" (Sacred Bones) and "The Primitive Future" LP (Assophon)
Great year for Factums albums! First up is the release on the fledgling Sacred Bones label. Factums are pretty much the archetypal Sacred Bones band; weirdo synth burbles, heavy post-punk leanings, creepy instrumental passages between tracks, and a general lo-fi/DIY vibe throughout the record. Lock grooves at the end of both sides to keep you entranced a little longer. Fans of the above-mentioned Nothing People who are looking for something a little murkier oughta try and get this locked in their sites.

While The Sistrum is a more "formal" Factums record, A Primitive Future is an entirely different beast. Fashioned as the soundtrack to an imaginary film set 2,000 years in the future where plantlife has reclaimed our urban space, APF is a space-swamp, mostly instrumental affair that seems to be heavily influenced by the late 60s tape collages of Burroughs and the mechanical failures of The Dead C, though still standing unique in their own right.

Download Sistrum here. (courtesy of my own damn self)

No sign of Primitive Future in mp3 form, but it's still available here.


Los Llamarada "Take The Sky" LP (S-S)
Los Llamarada is the sound of a band feeling their way through their music rather than methodically rehearsing it until the original spark is long gone. Most of these damaged psych tracks sound as if they were made up on the spot, recorded live, and immediately put to wax, leaving the fresh stench of burnt-out amps in it's wake. The drums and guitars sound as if they're heading in different directions, while the synths carve out their own niche in the melee . Where most bands would have to work at attaining this sound, Los Llamarada make it sound effortless, as if they're communicating on a telepathic level. Urgent music that words can never do justice, so's I'm just gonna quit already.

Yr just gonna have to go over to S-S and fork over some money, honey.

WAVVES "s/t" LP (Woodsist)
Another beach bum wunderkind from California (San Diego's Nathan Williams) drops outta nowhere and delivers one of the most exciting Cassettes/LPs these ears have come across. Sure, the No Age comparisons are inevitable (*Yawn*) but are pretty lazy, if you asks me. The two do revel in lo-fi soaked, hi-energy garage pop, but where No Age seem to be covering the hallowed ground of the early 90s lo-fi , recorded-in-a-closet vibe, Wavves is reaching a little farther. Recording everything himself (guitars, drums, and ohhhh, those layered vocals) in just a few days, the record has a mad-genius feel to it. His layering shredding guitar leads (the kid can really play!) against his fuzzy and elastic rhythm guitar, then combined with several layers of vocals (some soaring pretty high, too) adds up to a lo-fi, sugar-damaged Brian Wilson. The kid is dropping all kindsa' noise in 2009, including a buncha' 7 inches on Young Turks, Fat Possum, Release The Bats, and Post Present (Dean from No Age's new label), so he should be pretty hard to miss.

"California Goth"

"So Bored"

Part 2 is dropping early next week...