Some New Exploratory Hardness

Battles are on a lot of lips these days. After an LP which served to compile their EPs, this one, "Mirrored", is their first proper album. Math rock, utilizes technology, ex-Don Caballero (guitarist Ian Williams) , yada yada. It's intricacies are, like the others in this post, best enjoyed when the album is played as a whole. I don't want words to get in the way of your enjoyment of one of the best new things around:

Buy it at their label Warp Records, for several dollars cheaper than anywhere else (ten bucks) and with an exclusive poster, or at iTunes, or on mp3 or flac at Bleep (with exclusive art for each track).

Battles drummer John Stanier (ex-Helmet) also pounds the skins for Tomahawk, which also features Mike Patton (Faith No More/Mr. Bungle/Fantomas) on vocals/keyboards/samples and Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard/Hank Williams III) playing guitar. It was Denison becoming disenchanted with Native American music he heard on reservations that led to his research for this new album, "Anonymous", that is high on both concept and execution. It is interpretations of authentic turn-of-the-century Native American songs he found transcribed, and it's unlikely the writers would have imagined them ending up like this, though I think they'd be pleased:

Patton's Ipecac Records links to Amazon, or buy on iTunes.

And to make the final connection, Trevor Dunn, who plays bass alongside Patton in Mr. Bungle and Fantomas, plays bass on Marc Ribot's newest, called "Asmodeus: Book of Angels, Vol. 7". John Zorn has a hand in this, too, and drummer G. Calvin Weston, who played with free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman. Reviewers I've read are drooling over this one, calling it one of Ribot's most intense and best ever, the copy and paste text compares Hendrix and Sonny Sharrock. And yes, the music is as good as the name-dropping:

Buy from lala.com for only about ten bucks

And if you haven't heard the late Sonny Sharrock (although you probably did while watching "Space Ghost Coast To Coast" and didn't realize it was him), this is the song that sealed my love upon first listen many years ago, on his essential album "Ask the Ages". It also led me to explore the work of saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who only played alongside John Coltrane, who only is now worshipped by some as God in a church dedicated to him. Praise be. Now let's listen to the Book of Sonny, Final Chapter, Verse 1:

Don't miss the peak of this song around 2:30 in, where Pharoah's sax is screaming and Sonny's guitar comes fluttering in from outer space. I may not update more than weekly, but it's the cream of the crop, folks. These artists are trying to make a living in this world of Paris and Britney, and if you like what you hear, I hope you don't need my persuasion to click on the album covers and help support them!


Buzz Buzz Buzzzzzz

This series of 60's reissues is similar to Nuggets: they sound like what you'd think the sixties really sounded like. It is the backing music to small-budget films of the period. Instead of the stale amalgamation of what the 60's sounded like as provided by your local oldies station, this sounds like what would be blaring out of the speakers at a real impromptu 60's drug/sex/dance bash (which are always the best kinds of bashes. Oooo, maybe with some bikers. But bikers all mellowed out on LSD) If only a few fuzzy, urgent obscurities like these could be peppered into the corporate oldies radio format, how much more listenable it would be...

Vol 1

Growing Society "Big Red Tomato"

Royal Guardsmen "Om"

Vol 2

Chancellors "5 Minus 3"

Scotland Yardleys
"Some Guys Have It Some Guys Never Will"

Buy Volume 1 & Volume 2, brought to you by Arf! Arf! Records (which looks like a great place to explore for more obscure 60's tunes on CD and rare vinyl {click 'select an area'}) by way of my good friend Brian at the Casbah. I highly recommend checking out at least one of his radio shows, which he podcasts, if you're in the mood for some oldies / rock / surf / blues / alt / jazz / local / psychedelic / good lovin/etc.

I also can't help but be reminded of the Chuck D lecture I saw earlier this year. When I asked him what new music he liked, he said that right now, he was basically too busy finding stuff from the past. Not a definite life statement, to be sure, nothing hits the ears like music and sound never heard before, but lots of things have been already been done that even you and i don't realize at this point in our musical journey. I didn't realize what those old codgers in the Grateful Dead were up to until I examined their live work, and their incredible improvisation. Explore.

edit: After looking around on the internet, I discovered the Royal Guardsmen were the ones who had the multi-million selling "Snoopy vs. Red Baron" and after reuniting at a Florida highschool reunion they decided to get back together again: www.theroyalguardsmen.com ... also the Scotland Yardleys song is originally a commercial from the 60's for Yardley's cologne, this being an instrumental version switching the vocals for the guitar lead.


Melt-Banana's newest

The Japanese noise thrash break avant pop deconstructionist maestros are out with a new album, their sixth proper in a fifteen-year career, called "Bambi's Dilemma". I'm not sure if there are any love songs as I can't make out virtually any of the lyrics, as usual. It doesn't matter what the words are, because while there may be no blatant emotion, it still gives you that purging feeling which is always uplifting - that you along with the band and letting go and screaming and twisting with voice and instruments and just going "fuuuuuuuuck it! ahhhhhhghhHHH!", but in a cool Japanese artsy way, with an understanding of what music has been played before in the history of sound, and saying, "well, yeah, but it's never been played this fast in this way and then tweaked like this, ayieeeee!". Melt-Banana seemed to reach a pinnacle with their last album, 2003's "Cell-Scape", full of spectacular riffs to excite the senses, and here they seem determined to turn it up another notch, showcasing the various ways in which they have learned to freak out. The first half of the album does have a bit more rock/pop vibe, almost saying "see how nice our audio insanity can be?"

...but by the middle of the album onward they abandon all pretense and wig out. The sounds on the last half are more exploratory, too, with much more knob-twiddling and Agata's screeching guitar and electronics whirring and squirting all over the place. It feels as if the last half of the album were run through an analog synthesizer while the band members tripped on acid and turned knobs back and forth, often as fast as they could, while producing the songs down to their shortened chaotic essences, often thirty seconds to a minute or so long.

And here's a bonus track. In my twenties I loved a noise/experimental magazine from San Fransisco called Bananafish Magazine. Bananafish #10 (1995) was the first to include a CD, and on that CD was a very early Melt-Banana doing this (apparent) cover.

Same price from Amazon and Insound, so might as well go the more independent route:


Animal Collective in Austin +TM

Animal Collective was a trio on this tour... Geologist's head lamp circled to the beat in the darkness and he twiddled on knobs... Avey Tare shouting staccato yelps into the microphone in one hand, pounding a cymbal with a drumstick in the other... Panda Bear singing angelic madcap choruses over the undulating beats and waves of voice and sound and layers of delay. It's difficult for me to find the words to describe them because they are trying to come up with their own musical language, and because I've lost all objectivity in my awe. They seem to not so much write songs as pull them out of a magical bag full of primal psychedelic inspiration, and lately they are truly inspired. Their forthcoming album "Strawberry Jam" isn't due until September. There was one track in particular, the last of the new ones (13), where afterwards I looked at the soundguy and he smiled and I asked "What was the name of that song?" and he said "These are brand new, they just wrote them a couple of weeks ago," so since "Strawberry Jam" has already been recorded, most of these are even newer than that. I'm only going to release this whole show because no boots have yet surfaced of this tour. I brought my video camera just for the audio capture in case no proper tapers were there, and sure enough... Actually, not much of this tour has apparently been recorded, it seems from reading the Animal Collective board that at least a couple of previous AC tapers weren't able to make this tour, although it was a very short tour and I'm fairly certain a better sounding show will come eventually. This recording is on the opposite side of the spectrum from that last Joggers post - it's a video camera capture, so expect the lower bass notes to sound worse than caca. But all told, not the worst recording I've heard. Some photos can be found here.

If you're not familiar with Animal Collective and don't want to listen to an entire show recorded half-assed to find the really good parts, here's a couple of my favorite excerpts from the new songs to give you an idea:

Get the previous two AC albums at Fat Cat
Get everything else at Paw Tracks

And while stalking Animal Collective's Myspace friends, I found this guy. His project is called Testicular Manslaughter. He's got his own unique style of off-kilter electro-pop wonders for the new millennium, and I can't describe it any better than he does himself:

"I'm Dana Young. I make songs on casette tape 4-tracks. I use a Roland JX-3P from 1983, Korg MS 2000r, Vestax 05 Dj mixer, various cheep drum machines, DR. Sample 303 , mini flying V giutar, and some microphones. I make alot of songs, one to five a day. The lyrics are improv onto the tape. I go back and memorize them later, fix em' up. I am inspired by William S. Burroughs cut-up art, Alan Watts Zen Buddist philosophy, Caberet Voltair, The Fall, hip-hop producers from the early 90's , 80's disco like Larry Levan , Miami bass (tr808) , skate videos , surfing , Blur....they made pop good again...... I like the modern Lovers alot right now. I was born in Denver, Colorado .... been in Southern california since 1984 .... when KROQ played bitchen new wave and post punk. My mom and I listened to that while she took me on my acting auditions when I was a kid. I did alot of that ....... skated for Alva in 1990. I became close friends with Leonardo Di Caprio and Tobey MaGuire when I was 14 years old........ that was a trip. I left acting to do what i like, smoke weed and record music on 4-tracks at my moms for free, to get lost. I did that for years......... till I got clean from drugs and found a way to get my songs out to people.............. myspace. so, I make a living dj'ing rare and out of print viynl records and still record music in my room..... at my own place now. I don't play in a band cause it is hard to stick with people. I found a way to play shows by myself. Like hip-hop..... with backtracks... or so we called them when i came to work for Ariel Pink in his band in 2005. I played about 50 shows with him.... most opening for Animal Collective . That is when I really decided to commit to my own work and just make it work. I had been recording for many years ... my motivation to get the work out was a gift from working with John Maus, greg Andonina, and Ariel Pink. they showed me my talent was good enough and a way to get the art out. Like make it happen."

My kind of guy. I mean, seriously, how many other musicians are so image-unconscious they can admit what they really want to do is "smoke weed and record music on 4-tracks at my moms for free." And what he records really doesn't sound like anything else I've heard.

Disaro Records lists some upcoming Irish tour dates (?!?), contact them or message Dana to try to find some of that rare Testicular Manslaughter for you to purchase.


Brand New Joggers Songs!

Portland is home to both one of my favorite bands and one of the finest concert-tapers on the scene. And on April 14 at the Doug Fir in Portland they got together - The Joggers played a set including a total of FIVE brand new songs, sure to be on the anticipated third album sometime this year (hopefully), and Yltfan was there to tape the show like he usually does, with a matrix that captures the pristine sound of the soundboard, but neutralizing the sterility by blending it with a nice reverby natural room sound from audience microphones. He usually gets together with a guy I believe in Europe, Germany I think, who goes by the handle of Thir13en, and this guy often does the pro audio work. I say Germany because it seems a lot of Thirt13en's own shows come from there, fantastic old gems from bands like Pavement, recorded often probably better than many live albums. And again, for the dozenth but not last time, if you are a music nerd, you really need to be using BitTorrent, and you need a membership at DimeADozen (bookmark this link and keep trying!). It takes some patience to get this membership, but I cannot emphasize the treasures that are inside. Zomb has lots of good stuff (sometimes some Thirt13en stuff) if you're just starting off torrenting or don't have the patience to keep trying to get a Dime account. But if you're a fan of the Joggers' mindmeld of scale theatrics and proud prog roots, you'll want the Dime account because that's where you'll find the rest of this show, three more new songs and blasts from their past (and a keyboard!). See the white BitTorrent How-to on the right and join the community of uber-music nerds.

The Joggers @ Doug Fir, Portland, April 14, 2007

"Memory Brains" (?) new song

Unknown New Song

note that according to the Joggers, these are "works in progress", no doubt to sound even more urgent and kick-ass with increased separation and production on those frantic guitars and popping-tight rhythm section.

Thanks for probably the hundredth time to both Yltfan and Thir13en for using up so much of their time over the years just to bring fans all these live treasures - you are both unsung heroes of the indie community! And Sachiko-No! for her trippy picture of the Joggers playing the show the above tracks are from.

In other Joggers news, the Joggers have re-released their first self-titled album, long out of print and hard to find, along with their even rarer EP from before the name change, when they were known as Stateside. So unfortunately my previous Joggers post where i posted all the oop tracks has to be revised again, but there's still lots of music. Both the original LP and the Stateside EP are available exclusively from the band themselves - check out the Joggers' merchandise page for those and for more mp3s as well.