Monday, October 31, 2011

First

I fucking did it guys. Finally, something I've wanted forever. Something seemingly unattainable and transcendent. I got the first.

Danava - Hemisphere of Shadows

http://www.discogs.com/Danava-Hemisphere-Of-Shadows/release/3195976

Kemado is a great label that currently is host to a lot of great throw back rock. The Sword comes to mind immediately, but their label mates Danava deserve some of that credit as well. This album dropped earlier this month with a limited pressing of 1,000.



The front of the jacket show a somewhat disturbing piece of art. A skeletal figure clutches at the ankle of a human escaping through a crack. The colors are muddy and the lines are ill-defined. Definitely fits the feel and style of the album.



The back of the jacket shows a picture of the band, you could easily mix them up for an eighties thrash band or seventies heavy metal group. It also displays the track listing. The shrink wrap had a sticker which I have preserved. The vinyl itself is heavy weight with standard labels. The album also comes with a digital download. But what is that in the bottom right hand corner? Let's zoom in and see.



That's right motherfuckers! First! Fucking eat it! No one else is as cool as me now. First! Fucking First First First! That's right.

OK sorry.

Musically this album has a definite retro feel. The recording sounds analog, there are noticeable imperfections throughout. The vocals come through pretty well, though they sound kind of buried. All in all, this is a really good piece. The synthesizer parts are excellent and really break up the riffage.

I would recommend this album without hesitation to anyone with an interest in heavy metal. The price is really good even though the pressing is limited, so grab it up now if it tickles your fancy. I'll still have number 1 though, so fucking deal with it. First!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two Kinds of Needles

Heroin, man.

Heroin is a fucked up drug. I've had my share of fun, but the idea of cooking up some chemicals and injecting them into my veins... NOPE NOPE NOPE. I refuse to touch the stuff, I'll stick with less destructive substances. That being said, there seems to be a correlation between heroin abuse and excellent music. The Mars Volta, Janis Joplin, Tommy Bolin have all fallen victim to the chase of the dragon. The band I will review today had their career cut short by the drug, but thankfully all seem to have recovered from the grips of addiction.


Television - Marquee Moon

http://www.discogs.com/Television-Marquee-Moon/release/829054

This is a Four Men With Beards reissue. I fucking love their reissues; heavyweight vinyl, glossy jackets, and custom sleeves. They have been excellent without exception. This pressing was issued in 2003, correlating with a somewhat renewed interest in the band from the American audience. Television never really garnered a large fan base in the states, but were very popular in Europe. I find this hard to believe, their catalog, though small, is really good.



The front of the jacket features a photograph of the band. They are the definition of heroin sheik; skinny, pale, and exhibiting a certain hollowness in their stares. This is a faithful reproduction of the original cover art.




The back of the jacket features a design reminiscent of a spiral staircase. The track listing is displayed as well as the credits. The 4 Men With Beards logo also has a place in the lower right hand corner.



The interior of the gatefold really exemplifies what is great about 4 Men With Beards. The band's back story as well as some additional photography are present here. I consider this pressing to be superior in almost every way to the original. The sleeve is custom and displays the lyrics. The vinyl itself is 180 g with custom labels.

I purchased this record used and though the jacket had seen its fair share of use, the vinyl is pretty minty. Excepting some dust, I see no imperfections and I expect that it will sound excellent. Let us give it a spin.

The first half of this album really gives a good taste of what Television is all about. The guitar work is really, really interesting. Though credited as lead and rhythm, it is more a collaboration than a lead and follow. They interlock in curios and interesting ways, it is captivating. The feel of this album makes you want to jump up and down. The vocals are snide in that punk way without being overly nasal. You can still sing along without curling up one side of your mouth in a sneer. Side 1 concludes with Marquee Moon, the title track. It is an excellent track that really focuses on the interplay between the two guitarists.

Side 2 begins with Elevation. This track has a really great percussion track; loosely clenched high hat simmers and drives the movement of the music. Lyrically, this track focuses on the effects of television on the brain. All in all, side 2 seems a little darker than the first side. Thematically and musically, it has a tendency to set you on edge. The last track, Torn Curtain, is evocative of an old western soundtrack. The guitar melody is front and center, eventually decaying into cacophony. This track is really excellent.

Buy this record. If you can find the 4 Men with Beards pressing, snatch it up. I find it to be superior to the other pressing I have come across, especially the CD master. The bass lines come through much better and the muddiness present on some other versions is absent here. Unfortunately, this pressing can be hard to locate. Despair not though, there are many other well priced pressings with wider availability. If you have not listened to this record, do yourself a favor and check it out.

One more thing, I have been busy as fuck lately. That is more of an excuse though. My free time is getting sucked up by Magic the Gathering. The new set is fucking awesome and I can't get enough. I will endeavor to do a review at least every other day between now and when the release events finish. Shortly thereafter, deer opener kicks in. I'm gonna get me a buck this year and feast on its flesh. I'll post photos here if I do.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Right to the Minute

Alright, 'bout an hour before work here. I can bang this one out quick. I dropped a link on r/vinyl, my store has a sale this weekend. If you're in the Minneapolis metro area you should check it out. So, gots to get to work early, review time begins NOW!

Heidecker & Wood - Starting From Nowhere

http://www.discogs.com/Heidecker-Wood-Starting-From-Nowhere/release/2794718

Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric released this album on the Little Record Company label earlier this year. Pairing with the Tim and Eric composer, Davin Wood, the duo released an excellent tribute album to 70's soft rock.




The front of the jacket features a collage of oil paintings (actually I think it is a painting of a collage of paintings) of Davin and Tim's faces. There is a green oil brushstroke just above the band's name, I always thought it was an okra, should've looked closer.



The back of the jacket displays the track listing. The vinyl itself is standard weight with custom labels. It comes with a download card printed on xerox paper. The shrink wrap also had a sticker which I have preserved.

Musically, this album is liking listening to the shittiest 70's soft rock you can imagine, except it actually sounds good. The lyrics have a very "real" quality to them. Though they often are silly, they are always heartfelt. This is a great album to throw on with good friends and get drunk, singing your heart out. I've listened to it dozens of times, I fucking love it. Does humor belong in music? I think so.

For fans of Tim & Eric who also like 70's soft rock and own a turntable, this is a must buy. Granted, that is a fairly small target demographic, humorous in its own right. The album is well priced, under twenty dollars and comes with a digital download. Give it a listen on Grooveshark or some more nefarious means of previewing before purchasing though.

Time to sell shit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bright Lights

Hey Friends, Guess what?

You get to read another story!

That's right, just what you've been waiting for. The opportunity to read a random internet denizen's poorly constructed, entirely unrevised short work of fiction. Today, I will review Black Mountain's In the Future. I'll do the regular run down of the technical aspects and a paragraph or two or critique. Then it's time for some verbal dickery. So, if you're not interested, just skip the last half of the review.

Black Mountain - In the Future

http://www.discogs.com/Black-Mountain-In-The-Future/release/1206310

Black Mountain doesn't get the respect they deserve. Hailing from Vancouver, the have consistently put out really good albums since 2005. Their sophomore release In the Future came out in 2008 and was definitely one of my favorite albums of that year. I will review it today. Right now. Just after this.




The album is pressed on two LPs and comes in a gatefold heavyweight jacket. This release also comes with a digital download. The front of the jackets features a geometric shape cutaway from a strange alien landscape. The colors are red washed, it seems to be a Martian landscape. The artwork is framed in black.



The back of the jacket features the same geometric shape holding up the track listing.



The interior of the gatefold displays a surreal piece of nature. Inverted deer graze and water before a man in a peacock blouse. The disembodied head of a young child watches over the scene. This shit is trippy and awesome.



The vinyl itself is standard weight with custom labels. The album also comes with an insert. One side is black, the opposite displays more of the strange Martian landscape as well as the lyrics.

The music itself is fucking awesome. A definite retro feel ties together a sprawling psychedelic odyssey. Fuzzed out guitars are chopped up with beautiful vocal interludes. The whole album really jams, and though it does drag (notably during Bright Lights) it stands on its own as a really good composition. There are a few tracks for everyone here, a crowd-pleaser. I have spun this album multiple, multiple times and still find something new each time. I would not hesitate to (and have often) recommend this album to almost anyone. I would force fans of any variety of stoner- to purchase it.

At under $15 brand new, this is a really good buy.

Now for some word phrases from my brain. Hold on to your ass enclosures.

Bright Lights

Oozed.

He would later describe them as having oozed. As they crested the hill, the lights had a weight. The clung to brown grass as they approached. Surrounding, suffocating their autumnal, brittle stalks. His feet were as immobile as the grass, the pancoloric wash enveloped him.

There was darkness then. More than darkness though, nothingness. He did not exist in any rational sense of the word. Incapable of thought or observation, this realm held to perceivable qualities. With no reference the delineation of events was impossible, so he drifted there. Out of time.

All at once, the boundless became bounded. The empty expanse of nothing collapsed into itself, through itself. It burst out the other side into the endless possibility of existence. Dendrite and axons coalesced into nuerons, capillaries connected to arteries, ligament found bone. He was once again whole. A dusty red landscape expanded before him, peppered with deep blue lakes. It seemed lifeless initially but his eyes began to pick out faint stirrings in the distance.

Timidly, he tested his newly born legs. The ground felt dry and shifted easily beneath his soft leather moccasins. His thigh muscles felt unnaturally powerful, like he might accidentally jump off the face of this alien landscape. Squatting low, he reached his infant arm from inside his smooth silken blouse. The red dirt was pebbly, it seemed to suck the water out of his fingers as it ran through his grip. He brushed his long auburn hair from his face and surveyed the passage to the nearest cerulean lake. Not far off in the distance, he saw it rimmed with white sharp looking trees.

He hesitantly took a step, leaning forward. The weightlessness was disconcerting at first, but soon he loped toward his destination. Desolate though the landscape was, it had its own sense of beauty. Rock formations funneled him toward the lake, the seeming remnants of an ancient river. As he approached the edge of the water he began to realize that it was populated with a strange creature. Familiar though, but the colors were all wrong. He would later swear they were whitetail deer, Blacktails was the name he would give them as their colors were inverted. They grazed on stubbly grasses and watered eagerly on the vibrant blue water. He leaned down and scooped a handful of the too blue water, smelling it. Sweet and floral, it triggered a thirst previously unknown. Tipping his handful of water back into his throat, he gagged. The water was undrinkable, a chemical slurry.

He looked up at the creatures around him. He noticed then, floating in the distance, a porcelain child like face. It gazed down at him, he became the focus of its attention. Seemingly in concert with the face, the Blacktail turned their head in his direction. They grunted and huffed, stamping the ground as they began to approach him. They were on him then, and their hooves were sharp. His flesh was exculpated from his bones as the foul creatures teeth found his marrow. A scream tried to escape his lips but the creatures pounded him relentlessly. His vision faded to a yellow white as he felt his consciousness evaporate.

"Dave?!"

"Fucking wake up Dave. Why the fuck are you lying next to the latrine? Phish just fucking rocked an amazing jam and where the fuck were you?"

Dave groggily rolled over, brushing the specks of urinal cake from his beard. He glimpsed a few deer in the tree stand near the latrine, bounding off now that their salt lick was awake.

"Fuck man," Dave said. "I think I was just on fucking Mars or some shit. These whitetails man, but wait though. They were like opposite colored man. Like fucking Blacktails or some shit. They ate my brains dude."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Sun Casts No Shadow

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is a fucking work horse. The man never stops, more than twenty releases in the past five years. Hell, he put out eight albums in 2010. The flip side of this is that a lot of the catalog is...dense. Hard to listen to and noisy, much of Omar's solo catalog is not for everyone. Today however, I will review what I consider to be his most approachable solo effort, Solar Gambling.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Solar Gambling

http://www.discogs.com/Omar-Rodriguez-Lopez-Solar-Gambling/release/2359724

There are two vinyl pressings of this album, both limited to 750. The copy I have is the clear yellow, the other is clear blue. Omar worked with Ximena Sarinana Rivera for this album. She does the vocals and wrote the lyrics for a large portion of the album. She has an excellent voice, an interesting mind, and on top of that she ain't too bad to look at either. This album also comes with a digital download card.



The artwork on the front jacket reminds me of Lateralus. A cutaway of a human head stares into the eyes of a serpent. The colors are vibrant and psychedelic, the face is tessellated to comprise the background taking on the appearance of a peacock's tail.



The back of the jacket features the artwork from the front, but zoomed in on the throat of the figure. It is done in the some pointillist style, almost staticy. It lists the tracks and credits Omar as producer.



The custom sleeve is an almost candid photo of Omar and Ximena. Don't know about you guys, but she is really fucking cute. Omar stares off into the distance with that trademark superior smirk. A slew of keyboards litter the background.




The vinyl itself is clear yellow with custom labels. It fits the title of the album very well.

I have listened to this album numerous times, yet I see no obvious signs of wear on the vinyl. I have yet to encounter any sound issues on the previous listens, so I will be sure to note any problems.

The first half of the album starts out disjointed and frantic. Jazzy percussion simmers beneath Omar's signature guitar work; soaring and sonically interesting. Ximena's vocals fit very well, she almost sounds like Cedric. The lyrics are all in Spanish (or Portuguese). The time signature is hard to pin down, there is a lot of compositional depth in this album. The second track conveys a mood of loneliness, it sounds as if the music emanates from a deep well. Something is lost and can not be found. I pretend that I can speak Spanish, but a lot of the lyrics elude me. The keys on this track are hauntingly beautiful, they pair with Ximena's vocals excellently. The album continues to progress as an arc through the first half. The last track, Poincare, is my favorite cut from this album. It begins by reprising the first track, Locomocion Capilar. Everything begins to be washed out by a grating sound that sounds like a cold wind blowing. We are left with a solitary set of keys tapping out a chorded melody. Ximena's vocals drift in and steal the focus. They are fucking beautiful. They truly find something buried deep within and lull you into a trance. Echoing in and out of focus and bleeding into a hummed revisitation of the vocal melody.

Side B begins with an undertone of synth as Omar finds the outer limits of the electric guitar. It shifts into a really good groove that makes up the majority of Los Tentaculos De La Libelula. Ximena's vocals emote from her depth of being, I want to hear more of her. The sonic range is filled completely with noise, everything is almost distorted. "Soy mi razon" (I am my reason). The lyrics on this album, from what I can tell, are fucking visceral. The tracks on this album blend into one another with almost no break, definitely composed as an album and then broken into "songs." The last track, "Vasco Da Gama," has a different feel than the rest of the album yet you can still tell from where it came. It is melancholy, driven by Ximena's soulful and shimmering vocals. It imparts the feeling of going through a long period of strife and coming out the other side changed, yet still whole. At times it flirts with changing into a major key, but never quite makes it. It really ties the album up nicely and leaves it feeling complete.

I think that introduced correctly, any fan of music should be able to appreciate Omar's work. This album would be an excellent jumping off point. It is accessible and plays with the listener's emotions, very enjoyable. If you are a Mars Volta fan and don't won this record, get on the ball. The pricing seems to fluctuate between $20 and $50, so be careful when purchasing. There is a current listing on Discogs for $20, grab that shit up.

Welp, I had better get to work. Storewide Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale goes on this weekend at my store. I'll post the relevant details here for anyone interested.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Green Pleather

So I've been...preoccupied. A little sick and completely addicted to the new Magic the Gathering set Innistrad I've let the reviews fall by the wayside for the past couple days. To be honest, keeping up with seven a week is a struggle. With that in mind, I'm cutting back to five a week. I think that is fair. Two days off seems good to me.

I'm finding that I still purchase vinyl faster than I can review it. This week I grabbed a few items: Givers - In Light, Mastodon - Crack the Skye (green vinyl version), and the new Primus record, Green Naugahyde, which I will review today. When I saw the title for this album, I was like What the Fuck? Turns out Naugahyde is actually a form of imitation leather made out of vinyl. TIL...

Primus - Green Naugahyde

http://www.discogs.com/Primus-Green-Naugahyde/release/3106102

This pressing is sweet, but...

I'm mad guys. The distributor had posted up the first press of this album a couple months ago and I immediately threw one in the cart. It never showed, so I waited, and waited, and then I waited. Eventually, it became available again so I threw one in the cart and this one showed up. But it was not the original press. They did a small run of 750 in a plain white jacket with the band and album name rubber stamped onto the cover, hand numbered. It is so fucking cool and I want one.

This pressing is on two clear green vinyl with a CD of the album as well. I love when you get the CD instead of a download pass. Don't know about any one else, but the download cards are kind of janky and don't work right a lot of the time for me.




The album art features a strange piece of what I assume is American folk art. A strange ceramic and tin articulated boy rides a bike complete with what looks like a working chain. The jacket is heavyweight and feels sturdy.



The interior of the gatefold displays the figurine from the front, this time on its side atop various pieces of metal. The photographer used a really shallow depth of field giving it a surreal, larger than life feel.


OK, so fuck this blogger interface. I busted out my Google-Fu to try and figure out why some of my pictures import with the wrong orientation. I guess it has something to do with the specific model of Canon camera that I own, so there likely will never be a fix. But seriously Blogger, fucking fix it.

The vinyl itself is clear green with custom labels. It is standard weight (as clear vinyl usually is) and is really vibrant. Fucking stellar. It also comes with an insert featuring more photography of the biker boy and credits on the opposing side.

I see no obvious defects on the vinyl and Prawn's other stuff seems to be well made so I assume that there will be no physical medium issues. This is the first time I have spun this album so I will just give some general thoughts on composition and style.

My first impression is that it is very similar to Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People. The first side sort of ambles along and is frankly kind of uninteresting. Les' bass is excellent and technically proficient as usual, but it has of yet failed to grab me. Side A has three tracks, but to be honest, they all sounded kind of samey. The frist track is titled Prelude to a Crawl, which sums up the first side of disc 1, it crawls.

The second side picks up a little bit. Some funky percussion starts it off. Les' vocals are a little different than usual, he kind of grunts out a lot of the lyrics through some strange effects. Lyrically it is as obtuse as usual, I often have trouble discerning meaning from Primus lyrics. The feel of this side is similar to the first, carnival-esque. It is starting to grow on me. As far as I can tell from the understandable lyrics and the title of the album, thematically it deals with consumerism specifically of the cheap crappy plastic variety. The second track on side 2, Tragedy's A Comin,' is a little closer to the Primus I know and love; Funky, groove oriented, and strange. The composition on this album is, again, very similar to their last effort. Everything is very minimal, with occasional over the top outbursts. The third track, Eyes of the Squirrel, is groovy as fuck. Les man, Les. If there were a bass equivlent to Charlie Daniels who wrote the bass version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Les Claypool would play the part of the devil except he would win so I guess nothing like that. But still, kind of like that. Because Les has fucking amazing skills.

Side 3 begins in an ambient fashion. Slowly building then cutting away to only Les' bass. Jilly's On Smack, the first track, has as disconcerting a feel as the titles suggests. Still though, everything is really low key and restrained. I'm having a hard time really getting into it. I want to hear them cut loose, and is has yet to occur. Everything feels and sounds a little hollow, not sure if it's the medium itself or an intentional choice. The second track, Lee Van Cleef, is more of the same. The lyrics are kind of funny, "What ever happened to Lee Van Cleef?" What did happen to Lee Van Cleef, fucked if I know. He did some spaghetti Westerns and then...Does anyone actually know? I wiki'ed him, he died bro. A while ago. Moron TV, the last track on side three, continues in the low key fashion. It's beginning to grow on me a little bit, definitely worth another listen.

Side 4 begins with Green Ranger. The same hollow, removed feeling pervades the composition. It is kind of eerie and has the effect of bringing you down. I feel like I'm coming off the tail end of a bad Mushie trip while attending a carnival freak show. The third track, Extinction Burst, mixes things up a bit. More upbeat and just more...interesting. I am actually interested in listening to it. It seems to be the focal point of the album, both lyrically and musically. Kind of a long build up, but it fits the themes and mood of the album really well. The last track really sends home the carnival feel. It is very short and a little silly.

All in all, I think this album deserves a couple listens. It kind of had the effect that certain Tom Waits albums have on me. Initial displeasure that leads to me attempting to understand why I am displeased that leads to me actually beginning to enjoy the album. As far as purchasing it goes, it is pretty well priced at $18 and comes with a copy of the CD as well. If it interests you, check it out and listen to it before taking the plunge. To be honest though, there is a listing on Amazon right now for the MFSL press of Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People for $47. I think that would be money better spent.

Altogether, I half way enjoyed this album.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Winter is Coming

Winter is Coming.

The leaves fade to auburn in my yard as they fall, covering it in a wet blanket of cellulose. Similarly, the mucous covering my throat has fallen into my lungs and set up shop. Absent that lubrication, my esophagus feels like sandpaper.

I'm sick bros.

Every fucking time. The weather changes and I get sick. I'm sure the cigarettes do not help, time to switch to Ultra Lights. The tobacco companies have it figured out, give the suckers something to get their fix that has no taste or feeling. Maybe I'll grab a tin of chaw, but that usually results in me getting light headed and puking. To be honest, the physical symptoms I can handle. It is the mental fog that gets me. I pride myself on a sharp wit and critical thinking skills, being sick makes me feel like I am doing everything through a shower curtain. But I'll soldier on, the masses demand a record review and record review they shall have.

In recognition of my diminished mental state, I will review something easy today. Something more concerned with an over arcing feel than a specific musical movement. Today, I will review Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Slow Riot For New Zero Canada EP

http://www.discogs.com/Godspeed-You-Black-Emperor-Slow-Riot-For-New-Zero-Kanada-EP/release/2865626

There are actually two very similar listings for this album on Discogs. I believe they are actually the same pressing, the one I have included seems to be more complete. Godspeed is the first band I think of when someone says Post-Rock. To me, they define the genre; slow building musical arcs and a focus on the feel of the soundscape. This record was released in 1999 by Constellation, a Canadian label.




The jacket material is a thin fibrous paper. It reminds me of the paper we made in elementary school science out of egg cartons; textured and delicate. The Hebrew text on the front is embossed in metallic, it reads "Toha va Bohu" which I believe means "I beheld the Earth."



The back of the jacket features the same embossed text and artwork. It displays instructions to make a Molotov Cocktail in Italian. It also displays the name of the band and the album, which were curiously absent from the front cover.



The inner sleeve is custom, displaying hard to read text detailing the story of the album and the credits. The original 1/4" master tape was damaged in an all night drive through a snow storm and was repaired by the band with help from Constellation. Also, Christmas time when you open it up; INSERT. The insert features an excerpt of text from what appears to be a screenplay, not sure on the source of this material. The vinyl itself is standard weight black with custom labels.

I have played this album a couple times, but I do not see any signs of wear. The vinyl is glossy, though some of the particulate from the jacket clings to it. I'll brush it off and destatic it before I play and I do not expect that there will be any sound issues.

So let's do it. I've got my piping hot tea and a nice warm blanket. This should fit both the mood and history of the album pretty well.

The first side features the track Moya, pressed at 45rpm. In true Godspeed style it is an adaptation of a modern Classical track composed by Gorecki. The track has a somber feel as it slowly builds. The strings seem to yearn to be released, the melody is haunting. The percussion focuses heavily on the snare drum, the rattle serves to drive the song to its frenzied catharsis. The sound quality on this pressing is really good, I do not hear any reminders of the unfortunate journey of the master tape.

The second side contains bbf3, pressed at 33rpm. This track contains a long monologue of Blaise Bailey Finnegan III. The man displays many characteristics of a manic person in the grips of delusions of grandeur. He details his grievances with the government concerning a speeding ticket. His fervor builds and his rant expands to philosophical proportions. Though you can hear the dementia in his voice his words contain morsels of truth, I can really sympathize with this man. Musically, the track meanders along an undercurrent of strings. We feel as though we are exploring the depths of this mans mind; scattered, urgent, and with occasional moments of fleeting rapture. I think I can pick up some background noise at the end of the track, possibly evidence of the damage to the source tape. Regardless, this a really excellent track.

I really like Godspeed, though I recognize that they are not for everyone. They take a fair amount of attention span. Often you miss the meaning of the songs if your attention drifts during the at times marathon length compositions. For anyone with even an inkling of interest in checking them out, this EP would be a good starting place. It is cheap (you can score a copy for less than $10), the packaging is cool, and it gives a good snapshot of the band.

Welp, I'm gonna go lay on the couch and hold my head. I've got the weekend off so hopefully I can get my lungs cleared out. Tomorrow I have got to go down to Faribault and get my gun sighted in for Deer opener and make sure the stand is not rotted through. I will slay a beast this year, it's flesh will sustain me through the winter.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Corporate Whore

Hey Guys,

Not much time to day, busy busy busy. Just wanted to drop a little promotion for my store. I spent the better part of a day arranging a literal mountain of vinyl for the Discland Warehouse Sale in Bloomington, MN. There are plenty of gems, and if you have a few spare hours between now and Saturday and you live in the Minneapolis Metro Area, you should definitely swing on down. We are locally owned and operated and have been in the business for over ten years. Needless to say, there is an immense backlog of vinyl at the warehouse that we frankly do not have the time to comb through. The good news is you get first looksies. I'll throw up the flyer, you should come.



Alright, I'll try and keep the pan handling to a minimum here, the flyer speaks for itself. See you there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Friends

Hello vinyl friends, and welcome. Today I will review a 12" because friendliness. The records is to be playing in a circle while I listen. Later then, the views of myself I will write. When read write the record, you can listen as well, this is the activity of the heart. Please the thanks.

Ween - The Friends EP

http://www.discogs.com/Ween-The-Friends-EP/release/1177444

This 12" features five songs and shortly preceded the release of the full length La Cucaracha in 2007. Typing that made me realize that it has been four years since Ween released a new studio album. Are they done? Is this it? I saw Gener perform solo at the 7th St. Entry, and though the show was fucking awesome, I couldn't help but wonder where the fuck Dean was. Last I heard he was a fucking fisherman or something. This releases was heralded by Dean as "The ultimate party record, filled with good beats and good times. Perfect for your barbecue or doing bong hits or whatever it is that you guys do."




The front of the jacket displays a group of friends holding hands, the middle two are high fiving. They stand on a field of green grass beneath a cloudy blue sky. The back of the jacket lists the tracks and credits.




One side of the picture disc is covered in fresh green grass.



The other side displays a cloudy blue sky.

The vinyl itself is heavyweight and I have yet to give it a spin. I see five tracks on each side, yet the EP is only five tracks long. My guess is that it is just pressed on both sides of the album. This is a pretty short album, so I will give a short review for each song.

The first track is a remix of Friends, which was later released on La Cucaracha. I find it vastly superior to the album version. They give it a thumping techno beat and use Cher style autotuning. This song definitely lives up to Dean's proclamation of a party song. Bong hits and barbecue are in order.

I Got to Put the Hammer Down is reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem. Another almost techno tune, it lacks the shimmering ecstasy feel of Friends. Still a good track.

The third track, King Billy, is a dub style Reggae tune. Strange almost farting synthesizer adds a surreal feel to the song. The production is intentionally shitty, really love this track.

Light Me Up has a Latin thing going on. This is my second favorite track next to Friends. The story of a drug dealer's last deal syncs up very well with the Central American feel. The chorus is definitely one you can sing along to. "Light me up, before you kill me. 'Cause I ain't goin' down without a fight my friend."

The last track, Slow Down Boy, is a song you could slow dance with a lovely lady to. I could see this song clearing the dance floor of everyone but a few enchanted couples. Ween's vocals are excellent; cheesy but heart felt. I feel like I am watching the prom from a Brat Pack flick.

All in all, this album is a great value. You can score a copy for about $12 on Discogs. The excellent content coupled with really cool presentation makes this a must buy for all Ween fans. It is a great anytime album: cleaning, socializing, fucking; it just works.

Again once thanks. The reading forces the effort of life, yet abounds the expectations for new feelings. Expectantly you see, welcome and goodbye.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Early Man

Alright, so the standard review process I have developed here grows a little tiresome. I'm going to change it up a little bit today. I'll still do the technical part of the review and give a paragraph or so of critique, but then...

Story Time

Fuck yeah, I'll conclude with a story. I've already listened to this album four times today, so I have a pretty good grasp of it's contents. After preparing the technical review and critique, I will listen again. But this time, I will write a short story during the duration of the album. So, if you're not interested, just skip the whole end area and go eat a ham sandwich or something.

Early Man - Closing In

http://www.discogs.com/Early-Man-Closing-In/release/1575184

Matador released this album in 2005. More recently Early Man split with Matador records and signed with The End Records. The End Records is a small label but they offer a really good line-up of thrash and do the music justice with quality pressings. This album, Closing In, should still be available at your local record store (though they likely will have to order it special for you).



The front jacket displays the name of the band stenciled in yellow over an image of a neanderthal. One sticker on the shrink extols Matador's Low Price (get it, LP) guarantee, another notes the 150 gram vinyl.



The back of the jacket displays the track listing, credits, and a photo of the two formative members of Early Man. They now perform as a four piece, adding another guitar and a bass.




Best of all, FUCKING INSERTS. Love inserts, every album should have inserts. In this copy, you get a poster and a stencil lettered Early Man. The sleeve is plain white paper, and the vinyl has custom labels. I can tell it was hand packed due to a full set of fingerprints on the vinyl itself. Kinda lame but looks defect free otherwise.

Alright, so I just opened this today and after cleaning off the fingerprints the vinyl looks perfect. It feels nice and heavy and shines like a mirror. I listened to the CD four times or so today, so I'll come back here after listening and note any sound differences. (After listening, there is almost no discernible difference between the two. The source tape is pretty raw so I believe the sound issues are not medium specific.)

Musically, this album is fucking awesome. Half way between Black Sabbath and Metallica, it rocks your fucking balls off for the duration. It's minimal, only guitar and drums. Nasal, Ozzy style vocals soar over fuzzy distorted guitar and cymbal laden percussion. The lyrics seems to tell a story, I'll let you interpret when you listen to it because...

YOU SHOULD BUY THIS ALBUM. Seriously, it is ten bucks. Ten bucks for 150 gram vinyl, two inserts, and excellent content. Better yet, you should be able to mosey on over to your local record store and have it there in a week or so. It's just worth it. Do you like Black Sabbath? Do you like Metallica? I thought so. Go buy the record.

Okay, so we've arrived at the end of the "review." Time for a little story for your ear brains. You can stop reading now if you are a bitch.

The Early Man

The early man stooped low in the ravine. His calloused feet bit deep into the muddy riverbed as he peered at his trail of footsteps behind him. Wind gusted across his dirt caked face between the follicles of his matted beard, yet it carried no scent. No scent of them.

They were close now, he knew. Close enough at times to taste Them on the wind, foreign yet still human. But They were different, he had seen Them. Tall, skinny and weak, he had killed the first four that hunted them. They were cunning though, and their numbers were strong.

He hefted his obsidian axe, the lashing showing signs of wear around where it met the worn wooden shaft. That could be fixed, the real problem lied where the shaft met his hand. Pus seeped where the last of the four had maimed him. The white of tendon and bone showed through his rent flesh. Though he could use all but the last two fingers of his strong hand, the infection had taken root in the deep gash. His face now flushed beneath the shadow of his prominent brow, he knew his time was measured.

Alone against Them, he stood no chance. Though he was close to home, four days in flight had caused exhaustion and sickness to shadow him like specters. He knew there was great strength in need, but even the determination to live had its limits. There was only one choice left to him now, he made his decision. He peered behind him once again, he had become sloppy.

The fever's delirium had clouded his judgment, his instincts as well. His large footsteps mocked him from the soggy mud. The ravine had seemed at the time a good choice: easy going, sheltered from view and with an ending point he knew. Home lied at the trickling rivers mouth, almost within sight. The realization of his error had stopped him in his tracks, sick not only with infection. He had led Them straight to his family, his clan.

It was then he heard the crunch above him. A single stick cracked, then nothing. His muddy brown eyes searched the banks of the deep ravine. Twilight's fingers illuminated very little, but he knew They were there. The wind shifted slightly and his broad nose twinged at their foul smell. He saw Them, seven or eight all bunched together at the top of the ravine's steep bank. Another crack sounded from across the ravine. Four more scrawny figures crouched opposite. He glanced behind him again, two dozen figures ambled quickly in the basin of the ravine not more than a short run's distance away.

They were closing in.

He clenched his jaw and sucked in a large breath. He path was clear now and he followed it; Forward, and fast. His thick thighs tensed as he sprang out of his crouch. Letting his axe swing low behind him, he sprinted toward the last bend before the mouth of the river. The sandy damp soil kicking up behind him, he heard the Others shout and holler as they quickened their pursuit. His weight shifted as he leaned into the shallow curve of the last bend. As the fires of camp entered his vision a few pebbles cascades down the side of the crumbling ravine.

Three more of Them slid down the banks just ahead of him. He saw his brothers stirring from their fire side seats and he cried out. They were too far to hear, though he could sense their urgency as they scrambled to gather weapons. He stopped then, and exhaled slowly. The thin arms of the Others grasped short nimble flint daggers. He gripped the smooth grain of his axe's handle and tipped his head back, expelling a guttural roar.

The Others hooted in response and began to encircle him. His long hair dropping down over his eyes, he bent over and tensed his muscles. Exploding furiously at the nearest of Them, the air whistled around his razor blade axe. It bit deeply into the thin cranium of the first, pink matter spattering his already filthy chest. He felt a hot slash across the back of his corded neck, the blood flowed quickly down his back. Reeling as he spun to face his attacker, he slipped slightly on the slick mud. Bracing himself with one hand he dropped his axe as he caught the second dagger with his injured hand. He drew it to the ground as he felt his palm split apart. Catching the second under the jaw with an open fist, the bone crumbled under the immense force. He cradled his now useless hand as the second attacker fell to his feet unconscious.

There was a split second as he saw the third's dagger enter his side. With a twist, the dagger came out and entered again, just below his left ribcage. His vision began to dim to red as the blade punctured his heart. His brothers were upon them then, their axes hewed off the Other's arm. Grabbing the last of Them at the back of its neck, the blood of his heart seeping out, their eyes met. Early Man's time was ending, the realization shared in that short look.

The Ends

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ghosts on the Run

Josh Homme, John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl. When I heard the lineup for Them Crooked Vultures I nearly shit myself. What a fucking supergroup. The best part of it all - It actually works. I'll admit being apprehensive, I often find that supergroups are less than the sum of their parts. Them Crooked Vultures manages to move beyond the gimmicky "supergroup" moniker and crank out some really fucking awesome tunes.

Them Crooked Vultures - Mind Eraser, No Chaser / HWY 1

http://www.discogs.com/Them-Crooked-Vultures-Mind-Eraser-No-Chaser-HWY-1/release/2237401

This is yet another RSD 2010 release. A two sided 10" picture disc slipped into a clear red jacket. Containing one studio cut, one unreleased live track, and an interview it was well worth the $15.



The clear red outer sleeve casts a bloody tint onto the picture disc. It's hard to say if it looks cooler inside or outside the sleeve. A sticker containing the track listing, credits, and a barcode is affixed to the upper left hand corner.



The picture disc itself displays a very crooked vulture. Looking dapper in a red suit, he mockingly smokes a cigarette. Side A also displays the track listing and length.



The back of the disc features a Them Crooked Vultures emblem. A vulture clutches a skull with a grimace, ready for war.

This is the first time I have spun this album, and I see no obvious defects on the vinyl. Side A contains both musical tracks. Side B contains an interview with Liam Lynch. I will note any sound issues as they arise.

The first track, Mind Eraser, No Chaser, is a cut of the studio album. As far as I can tell it is the exact same version as on the full length. Still though, I love this song. Josh's vocals are excellent as always, and you can really feel the band working as one. Often when you get three big names in the same room it is a battle for the spotlight. Not so with Them Crooked Vultures, everyone has their place.

The second cut is a live version of HWY 1. Recorded at the Triple J in Sydney, Australia, it gives you a taste of an amazing live performance. This track was not included on the full length album but they do play it live frequently. The sound quality is acceptable; there is a small amount of crowd noise but overall each instrument is acceptably audible.

Side B contains an interview. I'm not really big on interviews especially when they are pressed onto a physical product. I feel they should be relegated to the digital realm, maybe that is just me. The content of the interview is interesting though, Liam is an excellent interviewer. He walks us through the formation of the band and each members struggles with working in an unfamiliar setting. They really cover the topic of Supergroup and all that comes with it very well.

The price for this 10" remains reasonable. At about $15 it's a pretty good deal considering you get an otherwise unavailable track. The prese3ntation is really cool, who doesn't like picture discs. Also, the interview is actually pretty interesting and worth a listen. If you are a fan, grab one up. There are numerous copies on Discogs and eBay.

On another note, I am growing tired with the prescriptive format I have chiseled out for these reviews. Tomorrow I will attempt to break the mold so to speak and do something a little different.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

To Rock Where No One Has Rocked Before

Mother Fucking Space Rock.

Two of my favorite things, sci-fi and prog-rock, together at last. But what exactly is Space Rock? To me, it is more of a feeling than a strict stylistic descriptor. Anything that inspires me to imagine blasting through the cosmos fits the bill well enough. To be honest, I can not articulate it much better than that.

I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation and it is still my all time favorite TV program. I recall catching one episode every weeknight in the early to mid-nineties on the local Fox affiliate. My father, two younger sisters and I would curl up just before bed and let Jean-Luc make it so. This has carried on to my adult life. The lady and I ritualistically work our way through the series one episode per night before bed. My fascination with the show really drove me to explore the genre of sci-fi. Borrowing my uncle's immense back log of Asimov's Science Fiction periodicals, I had access to thousands of short science fiction stories. Douglas Adams, Philip K. Dick, and William Gibson still populate my regular reading regimen. Being able to combine my love of Sci-Fi with my love of music is the penultimate entertainment for me.

Rush, early Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Ozric Tentacles; there is a lot of really good Space Rock out there. It is easy to squeeze a lot of artists into the genre if you really try. Emerging in the early seventies in Britain' the genre experienced a revival in the early nineties, but under a sometime different moniker. Then referred to as Shoegazer or Stoner Metal, many excellent groups built on the experimental, texture focused approach to composition. Yo La Tengo, Kyuss, and Tool; many of my favorite bands were born of this movement.

Space Rock is still chugging along, though more recently many groups have emerged that have a more Metal than Rock sensibility. Mastodon, The Sword, Earth; some of what I consider to be the top of the current field of bands can be labeled as Space Rock.

Today, I will review an album by a band that has flown just under the radar for almost a decade, Zombi.

Zombi - Spirit Animal

http://www.discogs.com/Zombi-Spirit-Animal/release/1668320

Relapse records signed Zombi shortly after their formation in 2002. It is an interesting choice of labels for the band as most of Relapse's catalog is Metal. It's great for us though, Relapse puts out some really good presses of their catalog. Usually available with an initial but limited colored vinyl release followed by a larger 180 gram black vinyl release I have found their offering to be excellent without exception. This pressing of Spirit Animal is the white version. There is a really small batch of them available on clear vinyl (100 I believe) and a larger batch of them on 180 gram black. They have not repressed this album as far as I know, so there are only 1,000 total available; 100 clear, 400 Black 180 gram, and 500 white. This, the third offering from Zombi, is the first to implore the use of an electric guitar.


The front jacket features a charging tusked elephant kicking up dust as it approaches. A storm roils in the background as lightning arcs between the clouds. It conveys a frightening sense of a not altogether expected meeting.




The back of the jacket lists the tracks and credits. Two penned elephants separate them on a deep red background.



The vinyl itself, though described as white, is really more of an egg or cream. To me it looks delicious, I want to eat it. The album spans two LPs, both white with custom labels. The sleeves are thick white paper with the top corner cut.

This is the first time I've spun this album, but not the first of it I have heard. I also purchased the CD on a whim before buying the vinyl; I really wanted to hear it and I have very little self control. After an initial brushing, I see no defects and I expect their to be no problems with the physical quality of the medium.

That should cover the technical details, time for a bowl. This album progresses in five movements, basically one per side. I will review them accordingly and as there are no lyrics, I will transcribe what the album moves me to.

Spirit Animal

The first side spirit animal really launches your space ship. It builds quickly and then trances you into submission through the use of full, warbling phased synth. Percussion skitters along beneath you as the focus of the music falls from front to back. It is pared down to echoing keys and low synth midway through then reconstructs piece by piece into a reprise. You can almost feel the elephants attention turn to you as the storm approaches. The tempo changes as Spirit Animal concludes, tranced me the fuck out.

Spirit Warrior

This track is the first to incorporate the use of electric guitar, and it is fucking awesome. Pink Floyd comes to mind immediately, slow bent tones tickle our emotions. This track also is effective at hypnotizing you, the bass repetitively slides up and down as you sink back in your chair. The composition reminds me of King Crimson, it is fucking excellent. The track begins to take on a definite Godspeed feel toward its end.

Earthly Powers & Cosmic Powers

Side 3 is the only side that contains two tracks. The first, Earthly Powers is a happy medium between King Crimson's The Power to Believe and Porcupine Tree. The main riff is really familiar, I almost wonder if it was heavily "influenced" from elsewhere. The tone on this track is significantly darker than the first two. Apprehensive and uneasy, you feel a sense of foreboding. Cosmic Powers is really spacey. A walking bass line rumbles beneath trancey synth. A heavily distorted and effected (?) guitar enters the soundscape and transforms the track into an almost Ozric Tentacles style jam. The tempo picks up as we build toward the final track.

Through Time

The last track remains fairly similar stylistically. However, part way through a synth sirens and the percussion picks up. The bass is distorted and the time signature becomes complex. This track is very disconcerting during this portion. As the track progresses, it becomes more and more disheveled but is brought back from the edge of falling apart by chirping synthesizers. The track slowly fades out and static resonates for a few moments as we contemplate the album.

Due to the limited pressing, this album can be difficult to find and impossible to purchase for a reasonable price. Nothing on eBay, starting at $50 on discogs. It is a god damned travesty because this album is a must own. The sound quality compared to the CD version is, to me, superior. There is a large spectrum of tonality and volume that really shines through on the medium of vinyl. I am tempted to say it is worth the fifty bucks, but then I think about the value of fifty bucks. That's like two weeks of lunch or a tank of gas, not an inconsiderate amount of scrilla. I would say that if you have followed the band for a while, grab it up. But in that case, you are probably one of the thousand or so that already has.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Welcome Emo

B sides rule.

45's have become somewhat of an anachronism in modern music. Why bother pressing them when you can just release your single online with no overhead? Personally, I am not a huge collector of 45's. I often just do not see the point, a lot of them are just two tracks taken from the full album.

Sometimes though, I buy them. Whether they are a picture disc, contain an otherwise unavailable track, or come from an album that is really hard to find, 45's can be desirable. On that note, today I will review a tasty little 45 from Coheed and Cambria.

Coheed and Cambria - Welcome Home (45)

http://www.discogs.com/Coheed-And-Cambria-Welcome-Home/release/523647

The 7" was released as a promo only to select indie record stores coinciding with the release of Good Apollo. While it does not contain anything that is otherwise unavailable, the B side can not be had on vinyl. Taken from Live at the Starland Ballroom, it is an exceptionally good acoustic version of The Crowing.



The packaging is pretty standard. A picture sleeve on glossy paper enshrouds a two track 45 rpm 7". The back of the sleeve lists the credits.

Side A contains the album version of Welcome Home, definitely one of the stand out tracks from Good Apollo. Side B though is where it is at. Coheed rips out a really good version of The Crowing, acoustic style. The main point of contention (I find) with people who do not enjoy Coheed is Claudio's vocals. Nasal and high pitched (almost falsetto at times) I can definitely see why they turn people off this otherwise amazing band.

Myself, I can dig it. I'm not really an Emo kind of guy, but Coheed makes up for being grouped in that genre by providing excellent instrumentation and really polished composition. They also put on a damn good live show.

I was going to go on to say that this 7" is a steal at its current price, but then I looked it up. The price point is pretty high, definitely out of touch with the content offered on the disc. If you're a completist or a huge fan with thirty bucks burning a hole in your pocket, go for it. Otherwise, just grab Live at Starland, it's a great concert DVD.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ow, My Freakin' Ears!

Let's get one thing straight - I am not a music snob.

I love me some shit music, everyone has their guilty pleasures. I grew up on 93X, Minneapolis' "metal" station. I have intentionally gone to a Staind concert. I have sung along to Nickleback. I have banged my head to Kid Rock. I am not too proud to admit these things. What can I say, it is hard being a white suburban teenager.

Conversely, there is a lot of really good music that just does not appeal to me. For instance, it is often beyond me to enjoy Jazz and Classical. Almost the entire genres of Rap and Reggae displease me greatly. Not that I can not appreciate them intellectually, they just do not grab my ears.

Today, as promised, I will review something that I do not enjoy. Personal taste aside, I find it to be an interesting example of Hardcore / Noise. At times, I can almost get into it but...the vocals, man.

The fucking vocals.

An Albatross - We Are the Lazer Viking

http://www.discogs.com/An-Albatross-We-Are-The-Lazer-Viking/release/1526303

This is not the "cool" pressing of this album. The original press, limited to 150, had etching on the B side. Regardless, this release is still pretty snazzy. Side A contains the entire eight minutes of this album. That's right, all eight minutes.



A slew of not quite neon shades fill the front jacket defined by, as far as I can tell, an entirely abstract design. The color scheme grabs the eye in that so bad it is good way.



The back of the jacket features the remainder of the image from the front. The track listing is skewed and disheveled. The stylistic choices for the album art reflect the musical choices for the album very well.



The album is pressed on clear vinyl with a custom label on the A side. Side B is blank with a plain black label. An insert displays the lyrics and the credits.

This review should be about as short as the album. Once again, it is only eight minutes long. I see no condition issues on the vinyl itself. Granted, it can be hard to tell on clear vinyl. The sound quality is pretty good, not super clean but not bad. I am not sure if this was an intentional style choice, a problem with my copy, or just sub par mastering as I have not had any other copy to compare it to.

Immediately the noise begins. An Albatross does some really interesting melodies on this album. Electronic synthesizers chirp out discordant series of notes in a way that sets your ear on edge, but in a good way.

But the vocals man, the fucking vocals. The main reason I have a hard time listening to Hardcore is the vocals. Just stop fucking screaming for one God damned second. Seriously, stop. They make me want to choke the fucking life out of you. It just ruins it for me. Like, what the fuck are you screaming like that for? Do you want me to end you? Do you want to die?

DO YOU WANT TO FUCKING DIE?!?

Maybe that is the point I guess? Hardcore bands desire to inspire rage in their fans? Hopefully, this tactic proves successful and one of these guys drives a fan to actually murder them, if only to prevent me from ever having to hear someone scream like that again. Don't get me wrong, I love me some metal growl. But there is something different with Hardcore; it is like they are screaming with their epiglottis alone. I want to punch them in their faces.

Thankfully, this album only forces you to endure it for about eight minutes. The instrumentation is really fucking killer though. Interesting time signatures, interesting riffing, and a whole lot of punishing noise. It's worth a listen, especially if you can handle the vocals.

All in all, I am not disappointed in this purchase. On the second listen through I was able to screen out the FUCKING AWFUL VOCALS and actually enjoy it. There is a current eBay auction, Buy It Now for $20. For eight minutes of music, that seems pretty steep. If you are a fan, fucking go for it. For everyone else, listen first.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Either Way

"Either you will, or you won't."

Boil it down, winnow the chaff, skim the cream; we really have only one decision in life made over and over again. Either we do, or we do not, there is no try. Yoda had that one right. Today I will review Wilco's Sky Blue Sky.

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

http://www.discogs.com/Wilco-Sky-Blue-Sky/release/1178632

Following the release of Sky Blue Sky, Nonesuch began reissuing most of Wilco's catalog. They are quality pressings, as most of Nonesuch's offerings are. Pressed on heavyweight vinyl and packed in stiff jackets, they also come with a CD version of the album. Though not exceptionally rare, they are definitely among my most prized items in my collection.



The front of the jacket displays a picture of a flock of birds that appear to be migrating. A solitary fowl hangs just outside the sea of birds. One wonders if the flock is revealing or obscuring the field of view. Though the blur suggests motion, it is hard to tell the direction.




The back of the jacket features a wrap around of the front jacket artwork. It also lists the tracks for the album. The presentation as a whole is starkly black and white.




The interior of the gatefold is a photograph of the band, mosaic style. Though straight faced, most of the band have the traces of a smile on their face. Jeff Tweedy however sits with a pained expression gripping a beautiful hollow body.



An included insert features a series of photo booth style photographs of the band. The vinyl is sleeved in transparent pink thick plastic sleeves. The vinyl itself is 180 gram and mastered at half speed.

The sound quality on this pressing is superb. The copy I own has been played infrequently (I usually just listen to the CD in my car) and still retains a high gloss. I see no scuffing or scratches so I will not address any sound issues unless something notable arises. There is a lot of depth to this album so I will give each track a separate review.

Either Way expresses the mood for this album very well; often melancholy with fleeting moments of expectant joy. The track begins with slightly muffled guitar lick. It bounces pleasantly along as the background for the song is filled in. Organ and violin build as the song culminates to a hanging end. Lyrically, this track touches on the album's theme of do or do not. I really dig this track.

Track two, You Are My Face, is my favorite of the album. It begins very similarly to track one; a solitary guitar followed by reserved lyrics. The mood shifts as a gritty guitar solo begins. The tone of the song becomes one of confusion, a feeling of loss. I have a lot to say about the lyrical content of this track, but I think I covered most of it in the preamble to the review. The track revisits its beginning at the end and trails off into a keyed melody.

Impossible Germany follows suit to conclude side A. Beginning in the same style it is driven by an interesting guitar lick. The mood of this song is slightly more playful than the first two tracks, yet we can sense a feeling of longing still. This track also features another of Jeff's enviable guitar solos. Though not the most technically proficient of guitarists, he finds notes on the neck that I did not know existed. The sound and effects he utilizes really fit well with the feel of the track. He has the ability to solo within the song, rather than outside of it. The song falls apart slowly as the needle lifts off the groove.

The titular track Sky Blue Sky begins side B. This track swings along a brushed drum rhythm as guitar chords are plucked half heartedly plucked. This short track is one of the most raw on this album. It conveys the bittersweet mood, complimented by down right sad lyrics.

Side With Seeds picks up the slack of the previous track. Piano is the focus of the melody on this track. It builds into a really fucking awesome jam. A frantic guitar enters the field foreshadowing the longer solo soon to come. The track returns to the chorus and just as quickly goes back to the jam. Distortion echoes over a guitar solo that yearns to be released. We are left with a iridescent high note as the track concludes.

The next track, "Shake It Off," begins in an almost empty state. Jeff's vocals sputter over drums and low key guitar. Soon a really fat bass makes its presence known. Peppered with syncopated break downs, this track really grooves. Occasionally silly, the guitar on this track really finds the interior of your ears. Strange bends relax into pure tones. Fucking awesome gem off of this album.

Please Be Patient With Me begins the second half of the album. Lyrically, this track really resonates with me. I can at times be...difficult. Figuring me out and being able to relate to me requires patience. I don't always speak my mind, and have a tendency to wait until the last possible moment. Musically, this track is pretty straightforward. With simple guitar melody and reserved vocals, it is a really nice little song.

Hate It Here tells the story of a man pining for the return of his lover. He tries to stay busy, learns how to use a washing machine, does the dishes and mows the lawn. But keeping things clean doesn't change anything. He wonders what he is going to do when he runs out of lawn to mow and shirts to fold. What will he do if you never come home? If you've ever lived in a domicile after the departure of your significant other, you know the feeling. He hates it there when you're gone. Musically, this track relies on the use of really fat distorted guitar that moves up and down the neck of the guitar. Really awesome track.

The next track, "Leave Me (Like You Found Me)," aches with loneliness. Jeff yearns for someone to be lonely with. The lyrical content of this song is really well done. The guitar part in the middle of the track is reminiscent of Ween. Not the best track on the album, but good nonetheless.

The fourth side begins with "Walken." This track differs in feel and style from the rest of the album. An almost ragtime piano starts it off and it bounces along jovially for the rest of the track. This song harkens back to Wilco's country roots. The guitar slides up and down in true country fashion. A discombobulated jam finishes off the track, guitars ringing with distortion. This song progresses interestingly, it does not even seem like the same track as it concludes.

"What Light" draws on Dylan heavily. Did I not know otherwise, I would swear the Bob penned it. Lyrically, the song touches on the topic of giving up what is yours and finding that common bond of man; the light inside of everyone. Musically, the track flows over a trebly guitar. It is tinned out and metallic. Really good track.

The last track, "On and On and On," really focuses the theme of the album. Lyrically, it expresses the sentiment of everlasting love.

"However short or long our lives are going to be, I will live in you and you will live in me."

Truly bittersweet, this song has the capacity to bring tears to the driest of eyes. Sad yet hopeful, it is an absolutely beautiful track. It leaves us with the message that we must do what we can to make it better. Exactly what "it" is is decided by the listener.

In total, this is a great album pressed in high quality. I believe most of the Nonesuch Wilco reissues are still in print and though the price points are kind of high, I would not hesitate to recommend them. With the release of The Whole Love, Wilco has once again reentered the collective unconsciousness. Lately I have heard them heralded as The Greatest Band in Modern Rock. While those are some huge shoes to fill, I think Wilco is capable. Their back catalog is without exception excellent and is a remarkable journey through their trials and tribulations as a band. Final verdict, buy it.

One last thing - I apologize for skipping a review yesterday. I had other pressing concerns that seemed more important than flexing my verbal and aural muscles for the benefit of a group of anonymous Internauts. I'll try not to make a habit of it. So far, I have reviewed albums from some of my favorite bands. Tomorrow I will review something that I either I do not know, or that I absolutely hate.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I See Demons

And, I'm back..mostly.

I'll apologize in advance for half-assed, loopy review about to be spewed forth here. The cabin was great, weather was perfect, girlfriend was beautiful, the beer was...

Powerful.

The fog is beginning to clear, but my brain still refuses to entirely cooperate. I'm fucking zapped, and I want to go to bed. Hence, shitty review.

Icy Demons - Miami Ice

http://www.discogs.com/Icy-Demons-Miami-Ice/release/1985322

This album was initially only released in Japan on Easel. Brain (one of my favorite labels), in their infinite wisdom, brought it to the US market shortly after. Four words on Brain releases: Buy All the Things. If you a fan of kraut-, experimental or prog-rock, you will not be disappointed.

The packaging on Miami Ice fits the mood of the album perfectly. Playful, joyful, and does not take itself too seriously. They went with a pink color scheme and the art is...less than professional.



The front of the jacket prominently displays the band and album names in bubble letters. Childish drawing pepper the jacket, it reminds me of a junior high book cover.




The back of the jacket gives credit where it is due and features more of the juvenile artwork. Notably, a badonkadonk so big it take a wheelbarrow to move it.




The vinyl itself is white, featuring custom labels. It feels heavyweight, but not 180 gram.

On to the music I guess.

The first half of the album is very chipper. Miami Ice is often described as experimental. While there is nothing groundbreaking offered on this album, they do manage to do a very good job of blending interesting electronica with poppy sensibility. It makes me think of Black Moth Super Rainbow, were someone to sit them dowm with a Top 40 style producer. The standout track on Side 1 is the titular track, Miami Ice. I could see this track getting airtime on local and college stations; it is very catchy.

Side 2 continues the feeling of joviality. The vocals on this album are really good. Interesting harmony and note choices. The lead vocalist has an appealingly full timbre. The percussive elements of the album are featured prominently on the second side. They seem to amble and punctuate at the same time. The second half of the album is less straightforward than the first. The label of experimental applies more truly here. The track Centurion immediately brings my mind to The Age of Aquarius. I really dig the less poppy tracks on the second half of the album.

I bought this album on a whim. One of the hipsters at work that sells us records dumped this one on me. This gentlemen has pretty good taste in music and I usually try to buy up everything he sells. This one was definitely a gem and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in electronica of the same ilk as BMSR, Man Man, and Deerhoof. Similarly, anyone who likes music with a discernible Kraut-rock feel should also snatch one up. You can snag this album really cheap and I would say buy it if you fall into the preceding categories.

Wow, that blew. It was bad and I should feel bad. I'm gonna try a couple glasses of scotch to clear the head and hopefully will be back to myself tomorrow.