Emeralds - Live CD-R (2008)

A collection of 5 live sets spanning from 10/02/07 to 03/22/08. These shows were performed around the time of Solar Bridge so the material on here is of a very similar ilk. If you've never heard Emeralds before, this isn't a bad place to start. They are a group of upstanding youngins who can essentially do no wrong. They have successfully internalized the teachings of Cluster & Terry Riley and used their lessons to create works that stand head and shoulders above their peers.

Destroy All Monsters - Box (1974-76)

Who knows what exactly prompted it, but one of the most unlikely box sets/multi-disc collections ever put out surfaced in 1994 courtesy of a co-release between Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace! and Byron Coley's Father Yod label -- and even got distribution via Warner Bros. at that! Covering the years in question, 1974-76 is an exhaustive three-disc overview of Destroy All Monsters' little-known early days, when the original core quartet were doing music for themselves and nobody else and punk was an incipient scene no matter where one looked. Given that the Asheton years are the ones most people would know, it's thrilling to hear what was going on before he came along -- while the Stooges were an admitted influence on the band, it was merely one of many. Kelley assembled the package, providing the collage of band-created artwork and an informative history of the group, its ties to Ann Arbor, and the desire of the four to do something well beyond the surrounding milieu of post-hippie/frat row life in the town. Given that everything was recorded on cheap tape using often broken or run-down equipment, the sound is still quite good. The three discs clearly show that the band definitely had the same "try anything, screw the rules, and what is supposed to be quality" approach that fellow acts like Pere Ubu, Suicide, and Chrome were coming up with, only steering even further away from what rock was supposed to be. The inclusion of some free jazz guest performers from the area isn't surprising at all, squalling sax and other brass popping up here and there. With a rhythm box providing the percussion and everything from traditional guitars and bass to any number of appliances providing the other sounds, along with Niagara's alternately sassy and sweet singing and other odd spoken word bits, the end result is woozy weirdness of high quality. The occasional cover surfaces -- "Mack the Knife," "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" -- but otherwise it's all original, from the bad movie snippets to the drones and murky hooks throughout. Some of the Asheton tracks surface towards the end, and okay enough rock they are too, but it's the real band material that needs to be heard, and now finally can be, in spades.

Kevin Ayers, John Cale, Brian Eno & Nico - June 1, 1974

It isn't just that the four credited lead players are together, it's also that Robert Wyatt and (if one is excited by such a thing) Mike Oldfield are helping out as well. The whole result should have been a mind-blowing example of one moment of twisted brilliance after another, captured for the ages. And is it? Well, close enough. The week's rehearsal mentioned in the liner notes seems to have gotten everyone more or less on the same wavelength for the chosen songs, but Ayers, who was the headliner, just sounded too laid-back in the end to match the chilling brilliance of his guests, even with old Soft Machine mate Wyatt along for the ride. The first half of the album is the real winner as a result, not least for the sharp song choices. Eno's two selections are inspired; "Driving Me Backwards" gets even more freaked out than the studio version, turning into a lacerating death crawl thanks to Cale's violin, while "Baby's on Fire" in contrast almost turns friendlier at the end. Both Cale and Nico make strong marks with two of their most notable and notorious cover versions. The former's "Heartbreak Hotel" keeps much of the spaced-out paranoia familiar from the studio cut, just ominous enough. Meanwhile, Nico's take on "The End" easily equals her own studio take, the song creeping with dread and fear. Ayers' selections take up the remainder of the album and they're, well, nice. But after the earlier shadows and psychosis, there's a little too much guitar mellowness and bongwater lounge grooves in contrast, aside from a wonderful, dramatic take on "Two Goes into Four." His between-song asides are fun, though, while his voice is in fine shape, even if the French part on "May I?" just makes him sound like a dirty old man instead of Serge Gainsbourg.

Yo La Tengo - Big Day Coming (1993)

A single from Yo La Tengo's masterpiece "Painful" album. Side A is the rock version of "Big Day Coming" and side B is a stunning live rendition of "Double Dare" that is quite a bit different than the album version.

The Dead C. - Golden / Canine 12" (2008)

A super limited tour only 12" from The Dead C's short but sweet 2008 US tour. Two instrumental cuts that are quite a bit weirder and dronier than anything that has appeared on recent albums.

Steve Fisk - Over & Thru The Night (1995)

While 448 Deathless Days had been his formal solo vinyl debut, Fisk had released a series of cassettes via K and other labels throughout the '80s. Over and Thru the Night cherry-picks them for a fine sampling of his rougher beginnings, exhibiting all the fun and off-kilter sonics of his later work with slightly less crisp recording quality. The opening track, "I Wish I Were Dead," is a masterpiece in and of itself, a sampling of some old cartoon character weeping, sneezing, and crying out the title phrase, looped over and over with maudlin violin music playing along. It's simple enough yet utterly harrowing as well as goofy, as perfect a demonstration of Fisk's ear for sonic tweaking as one could want. From there the collection skips about without regard to chronology, though most of the tracks come from 1985 and 1986. Some feature side performers from Pell Mell, the Screaming Trees, and others, but mostly this is Fisk on his own, freaking out just so. Most of the songs utilize a random vocal snippet from a movie, broadcast, or other source at the core, sometimes looped (like the introductory voice on "One More Valley"), sometimes left to run along as the music groans, moans, and swirls around it. Evangelists and general ranters are recurring tropes -- even Ronald Reagan -- with the combination of their usual fervor and the music's often creepy moods making for gripping results. Hints of Fisk's varying musical obsessions crop up again and again -- motorik/Krautrock trance drums, dub's deep, slow crawl, slamming hip-hop breaks -- stewed into a weird, unsettling combination. One of his most hilarious moments is none other than the Beatles' "Taxman," sampling and looping the original recording while adding extra drones, slowed voices, and other effects -- it's one of the best remixes around.

-Ned Raget, All Music

Guided By Voices: The Classic Era 1992-1996

In celebration of the upcoming reunion of the classic line-up of Guided By Voices (Bob Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Kevin Fennell & Greg Demos) I have put together this two disc 60 track collection spanning the time period this line up will be covering during their reunion tour. To put it quite simply, I firmly believe that GBV's highly prolific output from 1992-1996 would stack up against the best years of any band in rock history. Charmingly lo-fi and with hooks galore, these 60 songs will serve as a reminder that one of the greatest bands of our time is about to take the stage again to rock our faces off.


Disc 1 (1992-1994):

1- Over The Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox
2- Weedking
3- The Quality of Armor
4- Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy
5- 14 Cheerleader Coldfront (Live)
6- Wished I Was A Giant
7- Jar of Cardinals
8- Gleemer (The Deeds of Fertile Jim)
9- Wondering Boy Poet
10- My Impression Now
11- Dusted (EP Version)
12- Hey Aardvark
13- Johnny Appleseed
14- Dusty Bushworms
15- Spring Tiger
16- Ester's Day
17- Buzzards & Dreadful Crows
18- Tractor Rape Chain
19- The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
20- Echoes Myron
21- Gold Star For Robot Boy
22- Smothered In Hugs
23- Peep-Hole
24- Kicker of Elves
25- Queen of Cans & Jars
26- Stabbing A Star
27- Do The Earth
28- Scissors
29- Planet's Own Brand
30- I Am A Scientist (Single Version)

Disc 2 (1995-1996):

1- A Salty Salute
2- Watch Me Jumpstart
3- Game of Pricks
4- As We Go Up, We Go Down
5- A Good Flying Bird
6- Motor Away
7- Hit
8- Blimps Go 90
9- Striped White Jets
10- My Son Cool
11- Always Crush Me
12- My Valuable Hunting Knife (Shernoff Version)
13- If We Wait
14- The Key Losers
15- The Worryin' Song
16- He's The Uncle
17- Why Did You Land?
18- The Official Ironman Rally Song
19- Redmen & Their Wives
20- Sheetkickers
21- Big Boring Wedding
22- Drag Days
23- To Remake The Young Flyer
24- Your Name Is Wild
25- Dodging Invisible Rays
26- Don't Stop Now
27- Office of Hearts
28- Look At Them (Live)
29- Cut-Out Witch (Live)
30- Drinker's Peace (Live)

The Stooges - 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions

While fans of the Stooges are by their nature a hardy breed, this set is the ultimate litmus test to separate casual admirers from the truly obsessed: 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions is a six-CD set that contains every single sound the Stooges committed to tape while making the album Fun House. False starts, mikes going haywire, bad jokes, Iggy Pop imitating a wrestler, Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton trying to play "Wipeout" -- it's all here, along with 30 (count 'em!) takes of "Loose" spread out over seven and three-quarter hours. While this is admittedly tough going for any but the most devoted Stooges fan, it's more a matter of bulk than a question of quality. The performances are remarkably consistent throughout, and while the multiple takes of each song get to be a bit much after a while, the songs do indeed grow and shift as they go along; the Stooges seem to have taken the approach that they knew how these songs would start and finish, but what happened in the middle was up for grabs. And it's obvious that the band knew what they wanted for this album; there are only two unreleased songs on deck, neither of which they spent much time on, and the between song patter is kept to a minimum. For a band that's often regarded as sloppy and incoherent, 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions indicates that the Stooges were a lot more focused and methodical in the studio than anyone might have imagined; this set is fun and fascinating for those strong enough to wade through it.

- Mark Deming, All Music

Durutti Column - Live in Bruxelles 8/13/1981

Part of LTM's early-2008 reissue series of a slew of Durutti Column releases that had originally appeared on Crepuscule, Live in Bruxelles was the sole "new" release, though as the title indicates it's actually an archival tape seeing official light for the first time. Taken from a radio soundboard recording done for broadcast, the set is a mix of tracks from The Return of the Durutti Column, the then-unreleased LC, and various singles and one-offs, including the highly obscure, somewhat unsettling physicality-of-romance portrait "Stains (Useless Body)." Compared to the almost preternaturally clean atmospheres of the studio recordings at the time, Live in Bruxelles is rougher around the edges, not just simply because of the recording quality (fair but not pristine) and the mix, which often foregrounds Bruce Mitchell's drums. It's hearing those drums that gives the disc part of its impact, though -- having just recently begun to work with Vini Reilly, you get a sense that he's still testing out the feeling of the partnership to the full, and moments like the breakdown toward the end of "Sketch for Dawn" and the various mini-solos throughout "Jacqueline" show both what a remarkable drummer he is and how well he slotted in with Reilly's own muse. Reilly himself shines as expected; while his singing is much more direct and sharp given the mix, as can especially be heard on a stellar take on "The Missing Boy," as ever it's still a voice notable more for absence rather than presence, translating most of his feelings into his trademark fluid guitar runs and deceptively calm melodies. (There's one notable exception to this via some crazy soloing on "Self Portrait," which almost comes out of nowhere.) An enjoyable bonus appears at the end with the inclusion of an interview done just after the performance, where Reilly thoughtfully answers various, if sometimes muffled, questions about his work, including some thoughts on the balance between experimentalism and accessibility he found himself aiming for (which in many ways remains true through the present day), as well as a calmly stated but fierce denunciation of the venue's PA system he's just performed with.

-Ned Raggett, All Music

Yellow Swans - Going Places (2010)

Released after the duo formally called it a day, Yellow Swans' literal swan song found the two still exploring their way through often majestic drone -- if the roots of the band had always been as much in uncontrolled experimentation as in serene contemplation, here the two sides found a fine fusion. It's evident from the start with "Foiled," where a buried mantra of a melody is surrounded by cascades of feedback and rhythmic, quick-paced sonics that feel like being caught in the world's biggest washing machine. It sets the general tone for the rest of the album, as the contrast -- simple but devastatingly effective -- of scraggly aural squalor and a looming sense of near-romantic melancholy plays out. "Limited Space" takes a slightly different feeling, cutting back the deeper, booming bass levels and featuring a central chime that feels more like you're floating above a thunderstorm than caught in the middle of it, building up to a steady, percussive pulse like a god's heartbeat. The title track, meanwhile, provides a fitting conclusion to both album and band, an increasingly high-volume squall that feels like an endless rise up and out, concluding on one last guitar part screaming away into the heavens behind a last swirl of distorted echo. "Opt Out," the longest track featured, might be the pinnacle of how the chaotic noise gets more violent even as a lovely guitar part fights to be heard in the mix; it's a fine representation of the album as a whole.

-Ned Raggett, All Music

Antietam - Rope-A-Dope (1994)

An unjustly overlooked piece of mid-'90s indie rock, the final album by the Kentucky-to-New York transplants Antietam has it all: fiery playing (frontwoman Tara Key is one of the great guitarists of her generation), powerful songs, and enough diversity to keep from sounding like one noisy guitar rave-up after another the way that, say, Dinosaur Jr.'s albums often did. Key's guitar playing most often sounds like a post-punk Neil Young in full shred mode, but she's equally adept at pure atmospherics, as on the quieter moments of the near-psychedelic "Pine." If Yo La Tengo (whose Ira Kaplan adds some smoking organ work to the massively powerful opener "Hands Down") were more aggressive and less interested in Velvets-style harmonics, they would sound like Antietam. Unlike previous Antietam albums, where Key handled all the lead vocals, her two bandmates sing a pair of tunes apiece. Drummer Josh Madell is a much better percussionist than he is a singer, but his vocals on "What She Will" and "Leave Home" are atmospheric afterthoughts buried deep in the mix. Bassist Tim Harris has a more pleasant voice, and his lead vocals on "Certain Muse" (along with his distinctive cello touches) help turn the Feelies-like tune into the album's most immediately catchy song. The album's high point, and possibly the best thing Antietam ever did, is the 11-minute closer "Silver Solace," which builds and ebbs with structural grace and contains some of Key's most remarkable singing and soloing. With the grace note of one 1996 single, "Silver Solace" caps Antietam's career; although Harris and Madell would continue as her collaborators, Key would begin her solo career with the next year's Bourbon County.

Can - Box Music (Live 1971 - 1977)

Mute celebrated Can's 30th birthday with the release of the Can Box. Formed in Cologne, Germany, in 1968, the feckless sound experimenters went on to reach the lofty cult and seminal status of bands like the Velvet Underground and Mothers of Invention. The three-item box contains a double CD of live music recorded from 1971-1977; a book of history, interviews, reviews, and photos; as well as a video of a 1972 concert and a previously unreleased documentary made in 1988 and 1997. The CD is compiled from cassettes and other non-professional fan recordings with professional sound processing and mastering applied. Four of the pieces are extemporaneous jams that have as heretofore not seen the light of day. The tome proves to be of just such rare and personal content. The concert was a free event attended by over 10,000 when Can had placed "Spoon" (available on the Box album) into the number one chart position. The footage was made with help from Wim Wenders' film editor, Peter Przygodda. While this attention brought the group to do a small German tour where each member presented a solo project, there were no plans for a reunion.

Trumans Water - Spasm Smash (1993)

The highly improvisational Spasm Smash put Trumans Water on the indie rock map, nestled cozily between Superchunk and Polvo. The 20-track disc opens with the chaotic and energetic "The Aroma of Gina Arnold." The song's fierceness is heightened by Glen Galloway's wavering vocals (including the line, "They said all youth was dead, how could they know/Your plastic culture sucks, and it's gonna blow!"). The frantic San Diego band shines on the choppy "Good Blood After Bad" and the indie metal of "Death to Dead Things." The songs subscribe to the notion that songs have a natural energy to them, and when that energy is spent the song should come to a grinding and immediate halt. The liberating frenzy of unabashedly crazy songs like "Athletes Who Is Suck" and "Lo Priest" suggests the band treated their music as grand therapy sessions, complete with distorted guitars and feedback. The mumbling behind the kinetic frenzy on "Fingers 6 Steps Ahead of Our Minds" creates a new energy on the disc, while the band erects a new wall of noise on "La Jolla My Armpit." The scorching guitars and howling vocals on "Mindstab, Forklift" only add to the wonderful loss of control the band mastered early on in their career. The disc ends with the playful groove of "The Sad Skinhead." The audible flurry on Spasm Smash inspired John Peel to play the entire disc on his BBC program and invite the band to record a much-sought-after Peel Sessions recording. Spasm Smash was released in 1993 on Homestead Records.

The Monks - Black Monk Time (1966)

The story of the Monks is one of those rock & roll tales that seems too good to be true -- five Americans soldiers stationed in Germany form a rock band to blow off steam, and after starting out playing solid but ordinary R&B-influenced beat music, their songs evolve into something that bear practically no relation to anything happening in pop in 1966. If anything, the Monks were far wilder than their story would suggest; they may have looked bizarre in their matching black outfits, rope ties, and tonsures, but it was their music that was truly radical, with the sharp fuzz and feedback of Gary Burger's guitar faced off against the bludgeoning clang of Dave Day's amplified banjo (taking the place of rhythm guitar), as Roger Johnston pounded out minimalist patterns on the drums, Eddie Shaw's electric bass gave forth with a monstrous throb, and Larry Clark's keyboard bounced off the surfaces of the aural melee. This would have been heady stuff even without Burger's wild-eyed vocals, in which he howls "I hate you with a passion, baby," "Why do you kill all those kids over there in Vietnam?" and "Believing you're wise, being so dumb" over the band's dissonant fury. The closest thing the Monks had to a musical counterpart in 1966 were the Velvet Underground, but existing on separate continents they never heard one another at the time, and while Lou Reed and John Cale were schooled in free jazz and contemporary classical that influenced their work, the Monks were creating a new species of rock & roll pretty much out of their heads. Given all this, it's all the more remarkable that they landed a record deal with a major German label, and while Black Monk Time, their first and only studio album, doesn't boast a fancy production, the simple, clean recording of the group's crazed sounds captures their mad genius to striking effect, and the mingled rage and lunatic joy that rises from these songs is still striking decades after they were recorded. Within a year of the release of Black Monk Time, the band would break up (reportedly over disagreements about a possible tour of Vietnam), and the two singles that followed the LP were more pop-oriented efforts that suggested the Monks couldn't keep up this level of intensity forever. But in late 1965, the Monks were rock & roll's most savage visionaries, and Black Monk Time preserves their cleansing rage in simple but grand style.

The Beakers - Four Steps Toward a Cultural Revolution (2004)

If the Beakers had been in New York, they would have been hobnobbing with Liquid Liquid and the Contortions; put them across the water in the U.K. and Martin Hannett would have been producing their Factory single while A Certain Ratio tried to steal their drummer. Though cut from the same nervous, funky post-punk cloth as those contemporaries, the Beakers were from Seattle, which in 1980 wasn't the buzzing music haven that grunge would make it ten years later. Isolation may have stopped them from reaching most folks, but with a superb rhythm section in drummer George Romansic and bass player Francesca Sundsten and off-kilter sax from Jim Anderson backing up Mark H. Smith's arty enigmatic lyrics and jerky guitar, they can at least now be heard as spiritual forefathers to the Rapture, Erase Errata, and other mid-2000s danceable rockers mining those same sonic fields. Various appearances on collections, including one of the early Sub Pop tapes, unreleased recordings, and a handful of live dates are collected on Four Steps Toward a Cultural Revolution, putting the Beakers back in the starry firmament where they should have been all along.

The C&B - S/T 7"

The C&B is short for Cat & Bells Club, a brief precursor that would soon be transformed into the inestimable poetics of The Shadow Ring. Studious fans of the band's releases may recognize this name from the whimsical word search found on the back cover of their 1995 7', 'Some Of Us'. Ah, finally; mystery solved & now all the ducks are on the pond.

While early Shadow Ring managed to fuse equal parts Tyrannosaurus Rex mystical recitations w/Throbbing Gristle aural idolatry, The C&B seem divinely born out of the sputtering taps of brown ale that flowed freely down the gullets of various 1st generation DIY shufflers, most notably, 49 Americans or Door And The Window. And while this is just dumb luck, there's no denying a genius, unintentional as it may be.

Nothing People - Problems 7" (2006)

The debut 7" from Orland, California’s Nothing People. Although they've gone on to do greater things (in particular 2009's Late Night) this release is not without it's great moments. Twinkie Defense” which pairs dirty Iggy-style vocals with a twin guitar attack that flanges unnervingly throughout like a warped Space Ritual. The next two tracks slow things down a bit and both sound a bit like Richard Hell if were on acid rather than the junk, “I Can’t Find A Monkey” closes the show, bringing back the bash and thrash three-chord destruction.

Various Artists - Sub Pop 200 (1988)

With the exception of the Melvins, at the point Sub Pop 200 was released the label had virtually every important Seattle band on its roster. Here 20 bands get to strut their stuff in the premainstream alternative rock world. And many of the bands that helped alternative rock reach its popularity are represented here, including Soundgarden, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, and Green River (which would mutate into Pearl Jam). Strangely enough, most of these bands do not have the standout tracks on the album. The Fastbacks try to steal the show with their charged cover of Green River's "Swallow My Pride," but the Walkabouts might have the best song here with their folk-rocker "Got No Chains." Mudhoney covers the Bette Midler torch song "The Rose," while the Chemistry Set have an impressive entry with "Underground." The Thrown Ups also show up with the best song in their catalog, "You Lost It." The album as a whole is really good; there are few standouts, but everything is solid. Many will buy the album for the Nirvana track "Spank Thru," which is decent, but hopefully those listeners will stick around for the good obscure grunge tracks included.

Various Artists - Half Cocked (1995)

Suki Hawley's low-budget debut follows the fictional band Truckstop on a makeshift tour from Louisville to Chattanooga to Memphis. Couched in the lo-fi language of the young and the restlessly noisy, the disc does much the same, bringing together tracks by Louisville's late, great Rodan, Chattanooga's Big Heifer and Boondoggle, and Memphis's mighty Grifters. It adds tracks by gritty New York popsters Sleepyhead and Versus, Chapel Hill's angular Polvo, Olympia's grungy Unwound, Boston's enchanting Helium, DC's punkish Slant 6, and a half-dozen other Amerindie rockers.

Tropa Macaca - Sensacao Do Principio (2009)

Sensacao Do Principio is the third release proper from Tropa Macaca and their first with an American label. Their previous efforts on Ruby Red and Qbico were magnificent (though hard to find) efforts of blotted, aural sci-fi codifications somewhere between Anar Band and Blues Control. The two-track full-length continues their foray into post-psychedelic instrumental morphine, where Moolah's LP and Pink Floyd's "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" function as templates for the greater good. In other words, you gotta hear if for yourself.

Buy it here

Jason Loewenstein - At Sixes & Sevens (2002)

Wisecrackin' Jason Loewenstein may be considered the lesser of the two Sebadoh singer/songwriters (his stuff is less-directly melodic and catchy than the more celebrated/prolific Lou Barlow), but he's certainly penned his share of primo stuff ("Careful," "Prince-S," "It's All You"). His band's been laying low since the oddly disregarded The Sebadoh three years ago, and while Barlow has kept busy with Folk Implosion, he's been stockpiling songs. Loewenstein competently plays all the instruments, yet it sounds like a sharp band playing together (it sounds like Sebadoh!). His self-production is excellent as well. And though one misses the interplay of his intensity/crunch with Barlow's heightened pop sense, At Sixes and Sevens is a strong LP that should open eyes. It opens with a few tracks that are reminiscent of Iggy Pop and James Williamson's Kill City, which sounded like Iggy showing the newly tiring Stones how they used to do it. "Codes" and "Casserole" are peppery, classic riff-rock songs filtered through punk's manic verve. And when that starts getting samey, Loewenstein switches gears, veering to his more complex side for the album's most distinctive tracks. The wailing, swooping guitar lead breaks of "Circles" set up the inherent worry that drives this fantastic song. Likewise, the searing, simple, raining lead that appears through "I'm a Shit" makes for magnificent, broody rock & roll. These two are as good as anything he's given Sebadoh, as is the LP's finest moment, buried at the end: the thundering, punky basher "Transform," which runs on a hot tune and Loewenstein's nastiest bass playing. OK, someone should have made him delete the two dumb metal cuts, the tellingly titled instrumental "H/M" and "NYC III." But these are blips. The taut, hushed "Funerals" immediately puts the train back on track.

Keith Hudson - Pick a Dub (1974)

In his excellent book England's Dreaming, Jon Savage refers to Pick a Dub as "the greatest dub album ever, twelve cuts, all fantastic." It's easy to concur with Savage's assesment, with the lone caveat that there are some Lee Perry and King Tubby sides that might be as good. That caveat notwithstanding, Pick a Dub is sensational, arguably the crowning achievement of Hudson's career. In fact, coming as early as it did in the development of dub -- it was originally released in 1974 -- Pick a Dub is seminal work, a landmark in progressive remixing on a par with early King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, and Rupie Edwards. What makes this record so scintillating is the intensity of the bass and drums, as well as Hudson's relatively naked production. There are not a lot of goofy sound effects and studio screwing around, just buckets of blood and sweat all rolled into a seductive slab of percussive heaviness that will rattle every filling in your head.

Kraftwerk - Kraftwerk I (1971)

What might have been simply seen as an agreeable enough debut album has since become something of a notorious legend because Kraftwerk, or more accurately the core Hütter/Schneider duo at the heart of the band, simply refuses to acknowledge its existence any more. What's clearly missing from Kraftwerk is the predominance of clipped keyboard melodies that later versions of the band would make their own. Instead, Kraftwerk is an exploratory art rock album with psych roots first and foremost, with Conny Plank's brilliant co-production and engineering skills as important as the band performances. Still, Hütter and Schneider play organ and "electric percussion" — Hütter's work on the former can especially be appreciated with the extended opening drone moan of the all-over-the-place "Stratovarius," combined with Schneider's eerie violin work. But it's a different kind of combination and exploration, with the key pop sugar (and vocal work) of later years absent in favor of sudden jump cuts of musique concrète noise and circular jamming as prone to sprawl as it is to tight focus. Having never been given an authorized CD re-release, and long since out of print on vinyl, Kraftwerk only came to wider notice again in 1993 as part of the bootleg series that also resulted in the appearance of the early Neu! albums. The connection is important, given that Neu!'s Klaus Dinger is one of the two drummers; the roots of the motorik trance and tripped-out ambient wash of the later band can clearly be heard throughout. "Ruckzuck," with its repetitive flute mantra from Schneider and the initial groove suddenly turned into a stuttering, nervous freakout, is merely one demonstration, as is the steady rise-and-fall of feedback and flute at the end of "Megaherz." As a smart reference, there's an actual picture of a "kraftwerk" — a power station — in the gatefold art.

Boston Spaceships - Camera Found The Raygun EP (2010)

Featuring the skilled popcraft of Bob Pollard (Guided By Voices), Chris Slusarenko (Guided By Voices), John Moen (The Decemberists) , this four-song offering follows the bands three full-length albums and gives us a new window into what powerful pressure-cooker pop can mean in the modern age.

Taking a page from the Rough Trade catalog, and echoing the sneery bombast of the Fall or mid-period Wire, there's an undercurrent of new wave washing through the catchiness. The stumbling basement/paranoid fantasy world glow of Guided By Voices carries over, as is to be expected from any band Bob Pollard is involved with, but there's something setting these tunes apart from some of the others in the overflowing song suitcases.

While even the most rabid GBV completest would have a hard time sifting through all of the Pollard-related titles that flood out on a regular basis, this EP shines brighter. The songs call to mind the manic energy of earlier Guided By Voices and meld it with an art-rock take on power pop, ending up in a strange place that doesn't give you all the answers the first time around. By the time final track "Aquarian Hovercraft" comes up, mashing "Alien Lanes"-esque song collage with masterfully recorded and constantly shifting instrumentation, one gets the sense of just how hooky, special and legitimately epic these songs are. Best when played loud and on repeat.

All Tomorrow's Parties NY 2010 Recap

My pals Max Burke and Tim Bugbee have put together an excellent 3 part recap for Prefix Mag covering the All Tomorrow's Parties event that occurred over Labor Day weekend in Catskills, NY. You can check it out here

Be sure to also check out Tim's website for some absolutely stunning photography


7 months and 10,000 broken promises later this blog is finally back up and running. I know it's probably been frustrating but please understand that other "real life" obligations have kept me from being able to keep up with this blog. I am now in a much more stable situation so you can expect this blog to be updated with the same regularity that it used to be. New podcasts and other surprises will be happening down the road so stay tuned for that as well. Hopefully you all can forgive me for being extra flaky and we can go back to enjoying and sharing some awesome tunes!

Sebadoh - In Tokyo (1994)

The official bootleg In Tokyo documents a surprisingly tight July 1994 show which offers an intriguing mix of favorites ("Rebound," "Soul and Fire," "The Freed Pig"), new material ("Beauty of the Ride" and "On Fire," which appeared two years later on Harmacy), relative obscurities ("Plate o' Hatred," "Sing Something," "Soulmate"), and telling covers (Flipper's "No Tears," Pussy Galore's "Kill Yourself," and Hüsker Dü's "What's Going On").

Outer Spacist - I Don't Care About Love, Baby 7" (2010)

The TV-obsessed, acid-casualty intergalactic Mormons known to all as the Outer Spacist return for another dose of Black Randy-fronting-the Alice Cooper Band bubblegum psychedelic punk. This is a more polished recording than their previous single, but it's clear the band is still turning out punk rock in the vein of Simply Saucer by taking cues from "Before the Golden Age" type pulp sci-fi, soul records from the 60's and citation needed Wikipedia entries on Midwestern turn of the century cults. These 3-songs were taken from the same session as their upcoming LP, which will see release later this year.

The Shadow Ring - Lighthouse (1999)

To enter the world of the Shadow Ring is to enter a surreal anti-world of bizarre song structure. Lighthouse will rank with Trout Mask Replica and Tago Mago as both one of the most avant garde and the most eccentric double LP's of all time. Unlike those two records, Lighthouse features no instrumental pyrotechnics, instead relying on odd sonic combinations, startling lyrics, and a very painterly use of minimal studio technology. Absolutely essential listening if you are interested in modernist stretching of song form with extraordinary results.

Fela Ransome Kuti & Africa 70 - Open & Close (1971)

Another long-thought-lost gem from the Fela Anikulapo Kuti archives, Open & Close was originally released in 1971 and, in the manner of He Miss Road and Fela's London Scene, is a total groove-fest loaded to the gills with raucous horn blowing, ferocious percussion (once again, Tony Allen take a bow), and song lengths over ten minutes. By this point, Fela could do no wrong when it came to recording; Afro-beat dissenters will claim that there is a trance-inducing similarity to much of Fela's '70s recorded output, that the grooves aren't enough to make the songs distinctive enough on their own. That's true of some of his later recordings (like in the mid- to late '80s), but at this point he was still breathing fire and the band was in top form. Perhaps the distinguishing factors of records like Open & Close and some of Fela's other '70s releases are that as much as he liked to ride a groove, he also liked to disrupt it, twist it and turn it, reshape it, only to bring it back to its original shape. There was less of that later in his career.

The Index - S/T (1967)

A haunting psychedelic oddity that's sort of a timewarp meeting place between the Byrds, Dick Dale, Hendrix, and the Velvet Underground. With their raw garage attack and over-the-top enthusiasm for feedback and wah-wah, the Index were very much of their time; with their brooding minimalism and savage, almost experimental electric guitar electronics, they sound oddly contemporary. Highlighted by the greatest cover of "Eight Miles High" ever attempted, and the closing instrumental bash of "Feedback," which is fierce psychedelic guitar distortion pushed to its white-noise limit. Look for the 1984 Voxx reissue, which, although itself hard to find these days, is still much easier to locate than the rarer-than-rare original (only two copies of which are known to exist).

Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley's Beach Party (1963)

A blistering live album, especially in genuine mono (the re-channeled stereo is barely passable) -- and quite simply the finest live rock & roll album of its era, cut live by Diddley and band at Myrtle Beach, SC, on July 5 and 6, 1963. From the opening track (erroneously listed as "Memphis" and credited to Chuck Berry as composer) to the final note, this is some of the loudest, raunchiest guitar-based rock & roll ever preserved. It also bears an uncanny resemblance to the sound that the Rolling Stones achieved on their own Got Live If You Want It, which only shows how much the Stones learned from Diddley. Highlights include "Gunslinger," "Hey Bo Diddley," "Road Runner," and "I'm All Right." The sound doesn't necessarily translate ideally to compact disc, but that shouldn't dissuade anyone. Currently out of print but well worth the search.