Friday, April 29, 2005

 

Ok, it's been four months since I've posted about Magic Dirt. That's enough, right? They're currently working on a new album, which will presumably only come out in Australia. As usual I'm nervous, as I have been ever since Adalita learned to sing and the band made the decision to pursue a more sophisticated (ha!) alt. rock market. Nonetheless, there were hints here and there on their last album that they could still, if they wanted to, put out an absolutely crushing electric guitar record. Or at least b-side. Fingers are crossed.

My iPod conked out a week or so ago, so I've been making do with my iPaq, which holds about two CDs. And the result is that I've been listening to Magic Dirt's Friends In Danger over and over again. Which is fine, since it's probably one of my five favorite albums. From it, here's Heavy Business, which I don't think I've posted before. It's not the most instantly catchy of albums -- this may be the most immediate song -- but once it gets you it does. not. let. go. ever. Totally loving the "Know no fear" chant on this track. Friends In Danger, I should mention, features (in my opinion) the best guitar sound on any record ever made in the history of mankind. Yes, that includes [fill in the blank].

Someone requested help finding Skeletons by Inflatable Boy Clams. Here it is. If you're reading this and you don't know who Inflatable Boy Clams are, just trust me: you're going to want this track for your Halloween mix tape.

I was lazy and didn't finish the post that I intended to have for Friday. I'll try to be diligent over the weekend.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 
Haven't done stream of consciousness in a while...

I often have to explain to co-workers that I live in a small cave in Flatbush where my access to news is controlled by evil and perverse robots, which is why I haven't heard of [popular record that's topping the charts][famous movie star][new diet book][funny new sitcom] but can tell you that Claire Hamill recently released a new album.

And so, I may be the last person to learn that Robert Downey Jr. covered a Yes song on his solo album last year. I was so excited, though the reality turns out to be an epic battle between a fantastic song and a singer bent on killing it dead. I think the song, though losing a lot of blood, wins in the end with some help from its original singer. In case you also live in a cave somewhere, here's Bob Jr. doing Your Move. All he is saying is give peace a chance. Wouldn't it be fun if the next Dave Matthews Band album was a complete cover of Close To The Edge? It was? Damn robots.

In other news, I've been trying to remember the name of that wonderful mp3 blog that started up back in the early days of mp3 blogging and introduced me to The Hudson Brothers. I linked to it, I loved it, and now I can't remember its name. I feel so cheap. Last week I was trying to remember what it was, and I pulled out the Hudson Brothers compilation that I was inspired to buy and spent a wonderful afternoon with its fake (good-to-great fake) Beatles/Paul Mac/ELO brew. Here's one of the tracks that that late lamented unknown mp3 blog posted, the multi-part Medly. If anyone knows the blog that I'm talking about, please comment/email. It's driving me bats that I can't recall its name.

Anyway, that led me in the direction of the forthcoming Ringo Starr album Choose Love which is (really) pretty darn good (and I'm not one of those no good liars who's always trying to convince you that the new Paul McCartney album is a real comeback). It's produced (as has become customary) by Mark Hudson (guess what band he used to be in) and contains a song with one of the best fake endings I've heard in a while: here's Don't Hang Up. Much of the rest of the album is surprisingly strong too...I believe it's due out in June, and it's worth investigating even if you're not normally the type to buy boomer rock.

Your Move by Robert Downey Jr.
Medly by The Hudson Brothers
Don't Hang Up by Ringo Starr

Monday, April 25, 2005

 
Still catching up with Jennyanykind

If you've been reading Mystical Beast for a while, you've heard me rave about Jennyanykind's one and only major label album Revelater, in which a previously indie shoegaze type band ditched that skin and turned into semi-slacker Americana (Dylan, etc.) with surprisingly fantastic results. It remains one of the best CDs that you can count on finding used for less than $1 (one cent at Amazon, at press time).

The follow up to that, Big Johns, was a smaller affair, coming out on a little label and recorded at home. While it's not bad, I've always felt like it walked a little too closely to alt. folk/country for my liking. I was vaguely aware that the band kept recording after that, but just assumed that they were going to continue in a stripped down vein. I also knew that they had an album called Peas and Collards. I'm not really a fan of the whole rootsy, down-homesy thing (or of Bob Dylan, actually), so I stayed away until recently, when I finally heard Peas and Collards while doing a bit on the Morisen label that released it, and discovered that it was better than I'd expected and more in a liquored-up and lazy swamp-blues vein.

So I decided to fill in the blanks, and a few weeks ago discovered that I'd totally missed their best album (unless the live disc that's on order blows my mind).

I Need You came out in 2000 and doesn't seem to have gotten much press nationally. Thanks especially to its production, it's a major change of direction after Big Johns. The band describe it as their dub album, which isn't totally off base. The vocals remain indisputably Dylan-esque (my wife always asks me why I'm listening to Bob Dylan when I play this, so I'm not just getting that from a press release) but the music is way stretched out and spacy, although the foundation remains shuffle-y drums, acoustic guitar, gritty electric guitar, and organ. What's interesting is that, at times, Jennyanykind seem to have arrived someplace not far from American Analog Set's early sound, though they got there via a completely different route. The most obvious example of that is Price Of Love.

The album has a tendency to get farther out as it goes along. My favorite tracks at this point are the last two. In A Village Square gets more and more trippy as it ambles towards its unresolved conclusion. And I Need You kind of flips back and forth between normal and weird, till weird wins in the end.

I can see why the record failed to thrive. It's clearly coming from a trad. Americana place, but the production positions it closer to drone/psych. It's an interesting mix that I haven't heard much of elsewhere (though late Yo La Tengo occasionally springs to mind, Jennyanykind's vocals are much more authentic sounding and really make a huge difference). Too southern for the Stereolab fans, too weird for the jam/alt. country set, it seems like a tough record to market. Allmusic says, "Mostly, though, this is music for the No Depression crowd," which is, I think, exactly wrong. In a way, Jennyanykind sometimes remind me of the Lilys, in the sense that after emerging from a noisy shell, they proceeded to take a sound from one genre and put it to a largely unrelated use, confusing everybody.

The band is pretty much defunct, but their website is still worth checking out (poke around and you can download some live tracks, and preview Revelater).

One of the twin brothers who fronted Jennyanykind is currently recording an album with Dean Wareham producing, and I'm extremely intrigued, though it's hard to tell from the demos on the site what this might end up sounding like.

Price Of Love by Jennyanykind
In A Village Square by Jennyanykind
I Need You by Jennyanykind

Friday, April 22, 2005

 
Yearly Announcement

Tomorrow marks the beginning of one of the most important holidays of the year. I speak of the brief period, lasting several weeks, when Coca-Cola is available sweetened with sugar, rather than with that corn syrup garbage. Thanks, as always, to Jews everywhere (oh wait, that includes me) for helping keep decent tasting soft drinks available. Look for bottles with Kosher For Passover marks, and stock up.

Next week: interviews that I didn't do.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

Shack Week Part 3: HMS Fable and singles

This is the last day of a week spent with one of the best English bands to fail to make it in the US. Maybe there's an indication of a problem here [list of all the yearly best-ofs that HMS Fable appeared in, and then Christgau giving it a "dud" rating]. I'm not a Christgau hater, but if you ever wanted evidence that he has the capacity to blow something big-time, this is probably it. The online Ink Blot magazine did its bit to salavage America's reputation by putting HMS Fable in their top 10.

You could argue that Fable came a couple years too late to cash in on brit-pop, but I doubt that all the people who'd bought What's The Story Morning Glory four years previously had died in the iterim. Oasis were still selling in 1999, and Travis shifted a record or two as well, without half the hooks that Shack were bringing to the table. Fable's production is inarguably radio-ready, and it's got something like 6 or 7 songs that could easily have been promoted as singles. And on Fable, Shack finally go uptempo anthemic, with tracks like the opener Natalie's Party crying out to be played for a stadium full of teary-eyed fans.

I'm very aware that there are solid reasons why a lot of the music that I like never makes it to mainstream radio. I can't think of a single artistic explanation of the failure of HMS Fable.

To add insult to injury, Shack released two singles from the album (Comedy and Natalie's Party) in the typical UK manner: two versions of each with two b-sides apiece. And the sad fact is that if you put together the eight b-sides with the one non-album single Oscar (and please, please listen to the words of that one...Shack were decidely not Oasis when it came to lyrics) you get a nine song album that's good enough to have been a hit on its own.

At this point, the most cost effective way to collect all this might be via The Fable Sessions, which collects most Fable material under one roof. On the other hand, you'd miss a gem called 24 Hours, and with used copies of HMS Fable going for a buck or two in the US, it might be smart to start with a used copy. If you like it, be aware that the b-sides are at least as good as what's on the album.

After Fable sank without a trace in the US, I wasn't expecting to hear from Shack again. When they resurfaced in 2003 with Here's Tom With The Weather (see Monday's post) it felt like the somewhat muted morning after a huge party. Michael and John Head are still theoretically writing songs, so who knows how things will end.

Natalie's Party by Shack
Oscar by Shack
24 Hours by Shack

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 

Shack Week Part 2

This week is all about doing a casual overview of the British band Shack, who might just be a little bit too unknown in the US.

Shack's first album was Zilch, and I wrote about it last week. Get it fast if you're going to...Japanese reissues have a way of going out of print.

Following Zilch there comes one of the better "recording disasters" stories, which has been written about frequently by all sorts of people. In short, Shack went back into the studio and recorded a follow-up, Waterpistol. Studio burns down, master tapes destroyed. One DAT survives, but oops, we left it in the glove compartment of a rental car. Huge search, tape located, and several years later the album comes out (not on the biggest label in the world), long after whatever momentum Zilch had generated has fizzled.

Waterpistol fixes most of the production flaws that affect Zilch: the drums are appropriate and there's a fuller and warmer sound all around. Some vestiges of Manchester remain, as in the great track Dragonfly. Otherwise, you get largely restrained, top-notch songwriting in a classic 60's vein. A fair number of Shack fans rank this as their best album. It's worth noting at this point that Michael Head has a very warm, very English, and very distinctive voice, such that any song he sings is immediately identifiable as his. Meaning that Shack rarely sound like imitators, even when they're flat out stealing other people's riffs (e.g. So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star, On Broadway).

In 1997, a few years after the belated release of Waterpistol, Michael and brother John Head of Shack put out an album as Michael Head And The Strands. This is probably my second favorite release by Shack and related bands. It crystalizes the Love/Byrds axis into a beautiful, largely acoustic album that's as classic, warm and fuzzy as you could possibly ask. Another blog, coincidentally, featured this album on Monday and posted the song that I would have posted, so go here to download the indispensible X Hits The Spot (hint: it probably should have been "H" hits the spot) from the Strands album. As a special bonus, here's a demo of the opening track Queen Matilda, a lovely acoustic piece with pretty and haunting lyrics. I'm so not a words person, but I'll go on record as saying that the line:

What would you do
If the sun hits the ground
And the trees poked through
Beneath the sea

Food everywhere
And fog on the waves
And the fish float by in gravity

especially as sung by Michael Head, qualifies as poetry, in a good way.

One more day where we get to HMS Fable, possibly the best ever hit album that no one (well, virtually) in America knows. And the best batch of b-sides that I know of.

Dragonfly by Shack
Queen Matilda Demo by Michael Head & The Strands

Monday, April 18, 2005

 

Shack Week

Nothing fancy, and not chock full of rarities, this week will be an overview of Shack, following up on last week's post about the rerelease of their long out of print debut album Zilch. This may be more for Americans than for people from other countries: I know that Shack aren't big stars or anything at home, but my sense is that they're really, really not well known in the US.

I'll start with their most recent album.

Here's Tom With The Weather came out without much fanfare in 2003, taking me by surprise (click here to see a short clip that includes the sketch that gives the CD its title). The CD that preceded it, HMS Fable, was an incredible failed shot at a hit, somewhat along the lines of Oasis but smarter and subtler. In contrast to that, Here's Tom feels like a band come back down to earth.

[If you're not a regular reader, you might be under the impression that I'm a huge Oasis fan. I'm not, though I do think their first album was sort of promising. For one album, Shack were kind of comparable to Oasis, but it's not that great a similarity and probably has more to do with production than anything else. It's just that if HMS Fable had hit, it probably would have hit with the same people who made Oasis big in the US. Make sense?]

Reviews of Here's Tom tend to use words like "lush," "gorgeous," "understated" and "autumnal," which is often a bad sign, indicative that someone has just put out an album full of nicely recorded crap. Initially I wrote Here's Tom off as boring. After a few years, I've decided that the problem with it has more to do with sequencing, and the lack of one or two more upbeat tracks to pick up the pace. Song for song it's fine, but taken as a whole it's one of those mid-tempo records that can bog down if you're not in exactly the right mood. My advice: shuffle its tracks in with poppier things, and they'll sound just fine.

From it, here's Chinatown which harks back a little bit to HMS Fable (since I'm spending the whole week on the band, and since Here's Tom is in print, I'm going to be stingier than usual with the mp3s). This is one of the more upbeat tracks, so if you drink a lot of coffee, look elsewhere for your entertainment needs. Be aware, though, that you'll be missing an amazine Love-style song, complete w/mariachi interlude, called Meant To Be, as well as a number of quasi-folkie gems. I've known a fair number of people who were underwhelmed by this album, but as of now I'd call it a worthwhile, though slow-growing, investment.

For anyone who's not interested in Shack or Chinatown, here's Twinn Connection performing 6th Avenue Stroll. The twins are backed by Carolyn Hester's Coalition, Carolyn Hester being the woman who gave Bob Dylan his big break. This is from the Twinn's self-titled (and only) album from 1968, which apparently came out on CD in Korea (I haven't a clue on the details but it seems to be available here).

Chinatown by Shack
6th Avenue Stroll by Twinn Connection

Friday, April 15, 2005

 

Lee Miller, the band, not the photographer.

I posted a song by the Finnish group Circle on Monday this week. In case you didn't download it, they've done a fantastic job of dragging a Krautrock/Space Rock template into the present, without sounding like revivalists. You can find reviews of a ton of their (often out of print) albums over at Aquarius Records.

Lee Miller (the band) is made up of two guys who played in Circle (Jyrki Laiho and Janne Peltomaki) and one person who may be familiar to fans of the NY noise scene. Jordan Mamone has been keeping the flame of early Swans etc. alive with his band Alger Hiss, still theoretically together though there haven't been many external signs of this lately. Jordan Mamone also has a special place reserved for him in heaven for being the first person to write a decent overview of my favorite band The Dustdevils, said review initially appearing in Badaboom Gramophone before being adopted by Trouser Press.

Lee Miller results from a trip that Jordan took to Finland in 2004, and it's an album that you'd probably learn about in Post-No Wave History 101 if it had come out twenty years ago. Since it's not yet released, I'll have to settle for calling The Futility of Language one of the best CDs of 2005 that you can't buy.

Why this sound hasn't been done more often, I have no idea. Rock solid drums make for a perfect framework for Mamone's noise guitar, informed by Swans, The Dustdevils, and any number of bands that I've probably never heard of, and spruced up with the occasional spiraling lead by Laiho. The effect is unlike, and I'd venture to say superior to anything I've heard by either of the component bands. Lee Miller has more bite than Circle, but more momentum than Alger Hiss. The songs often move along like 18th Dye (i.e. very German sounding drums) if that group had been less about minimalism on the guitar side of things. A more powerful Sonic Youth EP (the out of print debut, which I probably listen to more these days than anything else they've done) also springs to mind.

At this point my favorite track is Tarn, which I'd easily nominate for a spot in the hall of guitar-noise classics. It kicks off with a guitar playing relaxed circles around a steady drum kit in subtle 5/4 time. After being joined by bass, the group plays through permutations for a few minutes, a chugging rhythm guitar propelling things forward, before wind-chime guitar and a switch to 4/4 kick off a steady increase in the noise quotient, soon anchored by a two-note bass riff. The vocals come almost as an afterthought, very Dustdevils-like and also appropriate given that the subject matter is "the futility of language", and the song ends with a perfect series of atonal chords ringing out. I've been playing this over and over and over, and it strikes me as the sort of thing Branca might have come up with had he merged The Static with his more formal work. It sounds more composed than most improv noise, while retaining enough swing to avoid the kind of stiffness that hampers early-early Sonic Youth.

Second fave track is the album ender Unwelcome Words, which takes a Flipper-esque, beat-it-into-the-ground, guitar riff and tacks on noise like Flipper never imagined, with great shouted vocals alternating with a spoken bit...the most audible line being "scar on her face" which seems about right for a song that's about a vaguely unsettling drink shared among three strangers in a cold bar in the middle of nowhere.

One great track from the album is due to appear on a forthcoming book/CDR tribute to Bruce Witsiepe (from early no-wave group Circle X) called Anti-Utopia: The Swan. I'll post details on how to order that when I get them. Hopefully the Lee Miller album will be out sometime this year.

Otherwise, Jyrki Laiho is in a group called Hotguitars, and Jyrki and Janne play together in a group called Stalwart. And you can actually buy those bands' CDs!

Tarn by Lee Miller
Unwelcome Words by Lee Miller

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

 

Zilch resurfaces: get it before Japan catches fire and we have to look for the copy of Japan that we left in the glove compartment of the rental car.*

Shack are a British band, plagued with bad luck and a generally low profile that's even lower in America, to the point of nonexistence. Next week will likely be devoted to them.

A fast, fast, fast overview for everyone who doesn't know them (which is pretty much...everyone in the US). They're an often glorious pop group who've released a number of albums that might be described as Beatles/Byrds/Love filtered through the sound of late 80's England turning into early 90's England (i.e. Tha La's edging into Oasis, especially if Oasis had been composed of introverted Love fans). If I had to try to hook your interest quickly, I'd mention that they were Arthur Lee's backing band for one of his tours where he performed his old catalog. A bootleg of that was subsequently issued legitimately...details are here.

I make the Oasis comparison with hesitation, given that the word "Oasis" conjures up a lot of associations that have nothing to do with Shack, but Shack's big pop move (1999's H.M.S. Fable) had the makings of an Oasis-level, 60's-updated-to-90's, hit. It wasn't. Around the same time, the group released a series of import-only singles that, assembled, could have formed a second hit record. The story of Shack is filled with disasters, labels folding, great material going unheard, etc. Their true fans are gluttons for punishment. A month or so ago, these fans had to suffer through a bit of good news.

The joke goes that Shack's first album, Zilch, was named for the number of copies it sold. Pretty much since its release, it's been incredibly hard to find a copy. That finally changed very recently, when the good folks of Japan, the music lover's favorite country, saw fit to reissue it with bonus tracks (if you've noticed copies of Zilch showing up on eBay lately, now you know why). In one of the most astounding examples of the glories of the modern world, I ordered a copy of the reissue on a Saturday from HMV Japan and received it the following Monday. Total cost with shipping was 4800 yen, which is probably several million dollars at this point, but I'll find out when the credit card bill arrives.

I'd been making do with a CDR, and the reissue is beautiful, coming in one of those pretty replica lp sleeves (thankfully missing the ugly logo in the picture above) and including a number of bonus songs that I'd never heard, plus what appear to be extensive liner notes that I can't read. It's a very nice package.

Zilch, with some held-over-from-the-80's production, isn't the album I'd use to convert the unconverted. The drum sounds can be distracting, and the songs, while great, are subtle and need time to grow on you. But, for people who follow the band this is pretty big news. I'll try the unconverted-converting thing next week, but meanwhile here's John Kline and Who Killed Clayton Square. On the latter track, you can hear the group kind of nosing around the edges of the Manchester sound, something that they wouldn't really end up pursuing. With the exception of a dated remix of I Know You Well, the extra tracks on the reissue (mostly singles and b-sides) are worth having.

*Where I give in to the rock writer's urge to make semi-obscure references in the title of the piece. Google "shack waterpistol glove compartment" for details.

John Kline by Shack
Who Killed Clayton Square by Shack

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

 
New York Noise report

Just in case you're not watching what seems to be NYC's best local tv show. It gets rerun later this week.

Best videos (in my opinion of course) were Human Television (the 80's are back!) with I Forgot (mp3 clip and a video for another song here). Also The Dears with Lost In The Plot (the 80's are back!) which seems to be in heavy rotation although it's not exactly new. My wife loves their album (the page I've linked fails to mention a major Blur aspect to the band's sound).

Ivy stopped by with their somewhat old Let's Go To Bed (the 80's are back!) and it's nice to know that Adam Schlesinger is good for something other than proving that Rick Ocasek was right when he decided not to use Cathy as his poetic muse. And finally, a very nifty Regina Spektor video (for Us, also available on her website, though it looked better on tv) that made me temporarily forget Nellie McWho.

Elsewhere Spoon sound like Elvis Costello, and somewhere Nick Hornby is smiling. Mando Diao look like the Beatles and will presumably get blown off the stage when they appear with the Raveonettes. Smoosh looked a little shaky live. Unicorn spotted in the Beck video (there seems to be at least one unicorn a week these days in video land). And I finally got to see video of the Danielson guy's famous tree costume.

A real post will appear tomorrow morning.

Monday, April 11, 2005

 

Can't seem to stay out of Sweden and Finland these days

Ah, I knew I'd get some use out of the Patti Smith bootleg someday. Imaginary Jenny posted on Patti the other day, and couldn't find Pale Blue Eyes. Here's a version from I Never Talked To Bob Dylan which documents a concert in Stockholm, Sweden on October 3, 1976. It's on CD, though where to find that I don't know. From the same set, here's the other Reed song, We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together. There you go again changing the lyrics, Patti.

Remember this on Friday

At the end of this week it's going to be slightly important that you know the Finnish band Circle. I passed over them for a long time, assuming that a band called "Circle" from Finland would be Black Metal, a genre that I'm not currently fond of (this assumption reflected more on my general ignorance than on anything else).

If I'd just taken time to read the endless rapturous reviews over at Aquarius, I would have known that Circle are more in the vein of Can circa Tago Mago, though not without the occasional echo of metal (in a way that doesn't annoy me). Here's Dedofiktion from their live album Raunio, which might not be the best place to start but it's not out of print (unlike a lot of their discography). The US version has a bonus track.

Pale Blue Eyes by Patti Smith
We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together by Patti Smith
Dedofiktion by Circle

Friday, April 08, 2005

 

Art Art Art again!

So I'm taking these pain pills for the knee injury and they're vaguely opiated, and I don't know about you but opiates always make noisy music sound great to me. For the past two days I've been obsessively listening to Rat At Rat R again, and I thought it might be nice to repost my piece on their first album. Went to look it up in my archives, and it turns out that it originally ran just about exactly one year ago. Wow. Weird. April showers apparently bring thoughts of dread, decay, noise and doom.

I'm adding one more song this time round and I'm more convinced now than ever that this is a great lost noise rock album (it's not all that lost, but it's still not on CD). It's got all the power that Sonic Youth never had, but manages to be songs instead of Swans dirges. I said it before a year ago, but feel the need to repeat that this album is seriously the missing link between, say, Greed and Kill Your Idols. Here's the original piece, with very minor alterations:

For the next few Fridays (my slowest day, hence the day that it'll irritate the fewest people) I'm going to post songs by Sonic Youth/no-wave related bands that didn't quite make it. I'm doing my favorite one first, so it's all downhill after this!

It's too bad that there hasn't been a CD reissue of Rat At Rat R's output. To my ears, they sound like the missing link between pre-Evol Sonic Youth and pre-Children of God Swans. They have the guitar chimes and noises of the former and a lot of the power of the latter. Lyrically they're much closer to Swans, with a lot of repetitive lyrics about power and such, delivered in a kind of "arty" vocal style that's aged less well than the rest of the band's sound.
[A year later I'm not sure how much I feel this way...maybe I've gotten used to them.] On the plus side, they have pretty decent production and a good rhythm section, which are two things that early Sonic Youth didn't have. At their worst they remind me of Live Skull (I haven't quite given up on Live Skull, but to date they're probably my least favorite band of this type) and, in fact, at least one of them wound up in Live Skull. The Trouser Press info on Rat At Rat R is here.

When I first got their 1985 debut, Rock & Roll Is Dead, Long Live Rat At Rat R (on the Neutral label which also hosted Sonic Youth and Glenn Branca) I liked the sound but didn't find the songs themselves that interesting. Over time, though, a few have really grown on me. Here's Asshole (the lyrics are a little bit on the serious side, but actually don't sound too stupid) and here's Assassin, which seems at times to be a distant relative of the Gang of Four's Damaged Goods. I especially like the former, which builds to a pretty visceral climax before breaking down into a section of clicks and noises that actually reminds me of some Kronos Quartet pieces that I've heard. These songs sound much, much, much better at high volume: I really can't emphasize this enough.
[Adding one more track today. This is Rape which has a pretty jaw-droppingly fantastic second half, and I'm sorry that there aren't more songs on the album with names like "Pretty Flowers" and "Fluffy Bunny" but there you go.]

One good thing: Rat At Rat R are sufficiently unknown that you can buy their albums fairly cheaply, and the records seem to turn up in stores and on eBay reasonably often. Nonetheless, I'd love to hear a good remaster, since the main appeal is the impact of the sound. I'd guess that they were great live, but I was busy idolizing Beat Happening during Rat At Rat R's heyday, so I never did see them.


[A friend wrote me after this ran to tell me that she'd seen them and they stunk. Still awaiting other opinions.]

By the way, assuming that the mailman does his job, I have a couple of really neat things for next week, including a Mystical Beast exclusive for the noise-rock contingent.

Asshole by Rat At Rat R
Assassin by Rat At Rat R
Rape by Rat At Rat R

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

 
I'm not the first mp3 blogger to post something by Inflatable Boy Clams, and I'm not going to be able to add any more info than you can find here, and it may be a few days until I can post again, and I kind of fell on the way home and hurt my knee a little.

I'm Sorry.

(For a different point of view I quote my wife: "Why don't you take that and file it next to your Lisa Suckdog and stop bothering me.")

I'm Sorry by Inflatable Boy Clams

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

 

Jennyanykind Revealed

Last week I found out about a promo that I'd never heard before. Since it's a promo, I now bring it to you, without the slightest bit of guilt.

Jennyanykind have come up here at Mystical Beast a few times. The short version: I don't like Dylan, I don't like The Band, I love Jennyanykind's one major label album Revelater, which sounds like Dylan and The Band. Go figure. Then go buy a used copy for like twenty-five cents or so.

Just found out that they released a promo called Revealed to go with it. Three album tracks and two non-album tracks. Got really excited at first, because I thought that Fashion was a cover of the Bowie song, and the idea of a Dylan/Band style cover of that sounded intriguingly weird. It's not a cover. Pretty good, but not amazing.

The other track, I Am A Carpenter. Sounds like Jandek, made a tiny touch more palatable for the masses. Hated it the first time. Then adjusted my expectations. Now playing it over and over again. Thrillingly ramshackle. Have a couple of later Jennyanykind albums on order and will post more as appropriate.

Fashion by Jennyanykind
I Am A Carpenter by Jennyanykind

Monday, April 04, 2005

 
Groovy Hate Pigfuck

I'm home while the floor sanders do their work and my cats cower under the bed, convinced that the Rapture is upon us.

Strange combo of mixed feelings while reading the new S/FJ New Yorker piece on Slint. Is the New Yorker readership likely to continue reading past the opening scene? How straight do we take the statement, "Albini was the Jackson Pollock and Clement Greenberg of eighties indie rock: he made important music and told people how to talk about it."?

Is it always necessary when writing for the mainstream press to set up a situation where band b (our heroes) is set off by band a (vomiting cretins)? I can't help being reminded of the old Nick Hornby piece that went from band a (Selfish Cunt, Big Black, Throbbing Gristle) to band b (Marah). Do S/FJ's rock pieces (as opposed to hip-hop) fetishize moments of stillness in the heart of the city? Is that an appropriate approach to a dying genre? Is a New Yorker piece on Suckdog just around the corner (kicking off, I suppose, with Lisa stepping out of a Costes show and walking around Alphabet City in the snow)?

And is being rubbed down with hot stones and ammonia ("But Big Black had also created some smart music, inventing a gloriously discomforting, trebly howl that made you feel as though you were being rubbed down with hot stones and ammonia.") something that's on the menu at the Ernest Hemmingway House of Dominance and Massage?

I'm hiding from such questions under a metaphorical bed called "the 60's." Continuing from the previous post, Time Will Show The Wiser by Merry Go Round.

 
Classic Rock Monday: Elope, Chrysalis, and Merry Go Round news

I came home on Saturday soaked from a rainstorm and still wondering if I should have bought the (overpriced) Steam lp and the Checkmate lp that I had just been looking at. Turns out that both are on CD for less than the vinyl copies I saw, so it's a good thing I passed, though the cover art (front and back) of the Steam album is wonderfully awful...not sure how I made it to 36 without seeing that (Steam=Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye). At home, I found two CD-containing packages waiting for me. One from my sister (she's trying win me over to a band called Moped) and one from Parasol.

I've been feeling guilty w/regards to Parasol lately. They've been sending me albums that I generally like, but one thing or another keeps keeping me from writing about them. I had planned to post about Sukilove, but first their tour got canceled and then Spoilt Victorian Child beat me to it. And I kind of like Jose Gonzalez, but I've honestly been in a more rocking mood lately and I just can't work up the enthusiasm to do a feature on him.

Third time's a charm. This time I got a copy of a CD called The No Name Record by a band called Elope, yet another Swedish group heavily influenced by 60's English rock. The album has been mentioned on a few other mp3 blogs...consensus seems to be that it's one of the better debuts of 2004 and I'm gonna go with the consensus. The cover art is somewhat misleading in that it looks very "indie rock". If I saw this without knowing anything about it, I'd have guessed that it contained strummy pop of some sort. Yuck, me hate strummy pop. And the name "Elope" doesn't really conjure up much of anything.

Not long ago, Aquarius Records went through all sorts of contortions to avoid saying that Elope often sound incredibly like Cream. It's true that at times you'll be reminded more of The Beatles/Wings/Pretty Things but I think it's safe to say that it sounds like The Beatles/Wings/Pretty Things after they'd spent a lot of time listening to Cream. I'd read the Aquarius review, but I think the phrase "Stoner Rock" had put me off, since it always makes me think of Dead Meadow who don't entirely thrill me. Elope don't pound riffs into the ground, which is what I usually think of when I think of stoner rock (see also Bardo Pond, who I do like, so I'm not sure exactly what my point is).

At it's best, The No Name Record is a very, very, very accurate recreation of what records sounded like in the early 70's. The production is seriously dead on. You could probably sample the intro to Lilith and impress the hell out of your crate-diggin' friends. And Pride Approaching is pretty much good enough to have been a minor hit had it come out about 32 years ago (it's a good example of the Pretty Things resemblance too...here's Miss Fay Regrets by The Pretty Things from their Parachute album for comparison). Repeat after me, "It's true that S.F. Sorrow was the first rock opera, but I really prefer Parachute." Congratulations! You're on your way to being a cool record store clerk!

As the CD goes along, the Cream side of things fades a bit and the Wings/Pretty Things influence seems to get stronger, and I find my interest waning ever so slightly. And whenever the drummer isn't drumming, things are a lot less interesting. God, I sound like I'm writing for Rolling Stone, but the drummer (Anders Person, like you're going to remember that) does a great Ginger Baker.

I always wonder why albums like this don't catch on with the classic rock crowd. I'd guess that if someone were to release newly discovered Cream tracks (even if they weren't particularly great) that it would sell reasonably well, so it's odd that an album like Elope's isn't likely to break out of the alternative market. I'll have to play this for some older rock fans and see what they say...maybe there's some subtlety I'm missing.

Easy to miss reissue alert. Chrysalis put out one unusual and eclectic pop album in the late 60's, and Rev-Ola has recently gotten around to finally getting it out on CD. Definition is a little proggier than I generally like, but on listening to it recently for the first time in a while I was surprised to discover that the record had stuck with me much more than I thought it had. The last track, Dr. Root's Garden is a pretty bizarre must-hear (this mp3 is from vinyl...you have to pay attention to the lyrics). Definitely worth investigating for fans of accessible but weird 60's pop things.

Note also the Merry Go Round (i.e. Emitt Rhodes) reissue!

Lilith by Elope
Pride Approaching by Elope
Miss Fay Regrets by The Pretty Things
Dr. Root's Garden by Chrysalis

Sunday, April 03, 2005

 
Wow, just watching that New York Noise video show. A lot of the usual stuff (Jens Lekman, My Favorite, MIA) and then they ended with Sparks' The Rhythm Thief! I wish they didn't repeat videos so often, but I'm so hooked on this show.

Friday, April 01, 2005

 
Oy, what a day. Up at 4:30am to go to work. Saw two clients, then spent ten minutes practicing juggling while standing on a Swiss ball (I have to post some photos one of these days) then back home to meet the floor sanders who tried to jack up the price and were sent packing. New floor sanders arriving Monday. Don't be a landlord. (Ok, do be a landlord, but be aware that every contractor in the world sucks.)

Meaning no mp3s today, and I'm suspecting I'll be too sleepy to catch Mold tonight.

Mystical Beast was yet again graced by a celebrity. Drummer Brendan O'Malley (ex-Odes) shows off the kind of mouth you get from going to Vassar College in a comment here. Looks like he's in a band with (whatever happened to) Dave Rick at the moment.

Elsewhere, someone who probably didn't go to Vassar and was therefore able to get through a paragraph without using the word "douchebag" points out that The Moth Wranglers will be on the www.wps1.org streaming radio show Transister Radio hosted by Frances Sorensen, beginning April 4, 2005 and apparently repeating for a week. Reportedly it includes their cover of Crash's "Don't Look Now." Thanks for that!

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