Other Music New Release Update
August 14, 2002

In This Week's Update:

Incredible String Band
Kid 606
Lee Hazlewood Tribute (Various)
Slum Village
Erase Errata/Numbers (Split CD Single)
Bright Eyes
Downtown Downtempo (Various)
Primal Scream
Frog Eyes
The Coral
African Roots/Act 3 (Various)




INCREDIBLE STRING BAND "5000 Spirits/Hangman's Beautiful" (CCM) CD $20.99
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For what its worth, these albums are in my personal pantheon of
all time favorite records. In fact, I don't think that it would be
hyperbole to say that they changed my life. These are ISB's second
and third records respectively. They formed in Scotland in the mid-
60s and put out one fairly interesting record as a three piece
with a gentleman named Clive Palmer (who went on to form the
obscure yet fabulous COB). Palmer split after that album and the
remaining members (Mike Heron and Robin Williamson) continued on,
but not after some globe trotting to pick up a vast array of
exotic instruments and influences. "5,000 Spirits" is a very
lovely psych record brimming with melodies and ideas, but "The
Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" is where everything really comes
together. It's very difficult to talk objectively about something
that you hold so dear, and this is a very difficult record to
describe without tossing out the usual cliches about how earthy
and mystical and visionary it is and still seem as if you have all
your faculties and aren't some blinkered stoner. But the thing is,
there are so many things going on that if you attempt to single
out a specific characteristic the integrity of the work falls
apart. At first blush, the lyrics seem to be of the middle earth
school of poetry. And indeed there are Fire King's daughters and
minotaurs to be found here, yet those are just trappings that
belay the complexity of the intent. The earnestness of feeling
truly makes you long for the communal spirit that inhabits these
songs, even at this late date in which such an idea no longer
seems possible. ISB's influence is palpable, from the Rolling
Stones, to Led Zeppelin, to Current 93. I even hear ISB in bands
like Neutral Milk Hotel. But that stuff doesn't really matter.
You'll attempt to yield to their charms, but don't worry, you'll
soon come around. [MK]

CHRIST "Pylonesque" (Benbecula) CD $11.99/LP $9.99
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For many years a fixture in Scotland's electronic music scene,
Christ is highly regarded for his collaborations with Boards of
Canada. (Many refer to him as the BoC's third member because of
his contributions to the "Twoism" EP and the "Boc Maxima" album.)
The 30-plus minutes of warm electronic soundscapes and downtempo
beats in this long-awaited and long-overdue debut EP are
magnificent. Comparisons are going to be inevitable but upon first
listen this record is instantly a classic. In fact, "Pylonesque"
is as good as if not better than "Geogaddi." Highly Recommended! [JS]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999182472&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999177871&refer_url=email

KID 606 "Why I Love Life" (Tigerbeat6) 3"-CD $6.99
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After burning through a frenetic collection of mash-ups, the
Action Packed Mentallist returns, but this time with 19-minutes of
quiet restraint and atmospheric textures. Closer in spirit to
his "PS I Love You" album, Kid 606's latest EP (on a 3" CD) is
sweetly melodic and at times almost pastoral. "Sad Motherfucker
Part One" floats as pulses of white noise anchor otherworldly coos
and purrs against the backdrop of space. "When I Want Something
New" is more organic with an actual semblance of a beat lifting
piano flourishes above the quiet din of melodic gurgles and
digital chirps. Throughout, the Kid crafts hypnotic montages of
slow-motion electronica -- sometimes playful and light, and at
other times glitchy, but always beautiful electronic bliss. [GH]

[V.A] "Total Lee/Lee Hazlewood Tribute" (Astralwerks) CD $16.99
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Many, many tributes out there and the ones I've personally found
most banal are to recording artists of renown by rightfully
obscure cut-out indie bands -- yet this one is for Lee Hazlewood
(never really a household name despite a fairly illustrious
career) and involves a phalanx of elegant alt-somethings,
presumably engineered by the by the City Slang label that put this
out in Europe. (Not Astralwerks, who handle this and Fatboy Slim
in America.) Everyone will have differing selections as to the
best tracks but mine were: Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley's
mining some Memphis/Panther Burns/Cramps gold on "The Cheat" and
Evan Dando(!) and Sabrina Brooke's(?) no-frills psychedelic
reading of "Summer Wine." [DHo]

SPARTA "Wiretap Scars" (Dreamworks) CD $11.99
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When At the Drive In broke up, millions of indie kids mourned. The
current "it" band dissolved after 10 years and right when they
were getting the respect that they deserved with their major label
debut on Capitol. No one could have guessed that from this demise
two bands would spring up -- both equally if not better than ATDI.
(The first of these two groups being Mars Volta, featuring the two
afro-ed members of ATDI, and the second being Sparta.) With most
bands of this ilk going for a poppier and softer approach, Sparta
stayed true to their roots and their full-length debut and proves
them to be the emo rock's current saviors. Combining one part
Fugazi, one part Quicksand, and one part Sonic Youth, they create
an amazing sonic assault that recalls bands in Washington DC and
New York's late-'80s/early-'90s post-hardcore scenes. With the
dual vocals and stop-start rhythms in tracks like "Mye" which
would not feel out of place on "Repeater," and the Sonic
Youth "Sister"-era guitar lines on "Echodyne Harmonic," they
proudly wear their influences on their sleeves. More importantly,
Sparta have made a credible and important record in an era when
everything has been done before. [JS]

SLUM VILLAGE "Trinity" (Capitol) CD/LP $16.99/$17.99
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I love Slum Village, really. These guys have consistently tried to
expand the parameters of hip hop but they do it with a true love
for the structure and a respect for the context in which this
music is generally heard. In other words, they come abstract, but
they still make music you can shake your ass to and bump in your
jeeps. It may not sound like a big deal, but when you consider the
fact that their previous record "Fantastic Vol. 2" was permanently
shelved by the major label that signed them, and it took three-and-
a-half years for the record to see the light of day. That record
is now considered by many a classic, and provided a blueprint for
the sound now marketed as "neo soul" paving the way for the
success of D'angelo, Common, Jill Scott… SV was responsible for
producing many of these records in some way. "Trinity" sees the
Village lose a member, gain a member and further push their patent
bluelight funk one step further. It sounds like they are rhyming
to slowed down deep house rhythms. The beats on this record glitch
and bump like Matthew Herbert remixed by Dr. Dre. A strong
dancehall influence prevails as well while the lyrics are
playfully nonsensical and dadaist. "Trinity" already has rap
critics scratching their heads and calling it patchy... don't you
believe it. This record may not sound like their previous one, but
it still as soulful, playful and as innovative anything the band
has put out before. [DH]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=72435389112&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=72435389111&refer_url=email

ERASE ERRATA/NUMBERS "Split" (Tigerbeat6) 3"-CD $6.99
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After listening to these new tracks from San Francisco's Numbers
and Erase Errata, I have to say that the Brooklyn post-punk/no
wave scene needs to get to work if it wants to keep up with its
left coast counterpart. Numbers gets the party started with a
seriously fat analog synth groove and sparse, dissonant guitar
riffing on "Goin' Insane," a claustrophobic, mid-tempo rant about
living in a tiny room; it sounds a little like a noisier, lo-fi
version of Devo. Their minute-long second offering takes the speed
up a bit with frantic drumming, rhythmic yelling, guitar madness,
and synth bleeps. Erase Errata's cryptically-titled "Retreat, The
Most Familiar, Extensive, I Bet!" starts with a funky bass riff
which is soon joined by a driving drum beat and some amazing
guitar playing by Sara Jaffe (the most distinctive and original
guitarist since Andy Gill?). The song ends with a perfectly placed
cowbell break, then someone screams "what's going on," and the
next song erupts in 30 seconds of guitar spasms before the groove
takes over again. It's not surprising when vocalist Jenny Hoyston
complains that "everyone wants to come over to [her] house"; with
the band making music this great, they deserve all the attention
they've been getting lately. Rock bliss. [RH]

BRIGHT EYES "Lifted the Story is in the Soil…" (Saddle Creek) CD $13.99
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The newest Bright Eyes album is Conor Oberst's most accomplished
record yet with the wordy twenty-two year old finally growing into
his emotive growl. For the lengthy titled "Lifted or the Story is
in the Soil Keep Your Ear to the Ground," Oberst's self-torment is
tempered, dramatics still present, but now with an authenticity
(and dare I say maturity) that's been lacking in his earlier
releases. (In other words, his lyrics don't sound like pages read
from a teenager's poetry book.) This time Oberst is joined by
Azure Ray's Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor as well as the Faint's
Todd Baechle, and the ending result is a 73-minute long player
which earnestly sweeps through a diverse range of styles and
fidelity. The opening track, "The Big Picture," is probably the
closest resemblance of earlier Bright Eyes material with Oberst
emoting exaggerated angst over a sole acoustic guitar; but then
the mood shifts. The dense orchestration of "Method Acting" builds
into a controlled frenzy and ends as he expels an exasperated gush
of words that sounds lifted from a Cure song. The waltz pace and
string arrangements that follow in "False Advertising" provide a
cinematic touch while Oberst parodies himself as the tortured
performer. A few stripped down recordings interspersed
throughout "Lifted" serve as reminders that this is a Bright Eyes
album, but the lo-fi moments are always followed by a more
elaborate track. The pedal steel driven "Make War" and also "Laura
Laurent" are not only examples of Bright Eye's most direct
flirtations with Americana but also succeed in traveling over
backwoods paths similar to the ones that Silver Jews and Will
Oldham have crossed, lamenting lost love and singing grandiose
tales from a post-modern heartland. Although lengthy and
exhilarating, "Lifted…" is no doubt Bright Eyes' finest record to
date.  [GH]

[V.A] "Downtown Downtempo/Grand Lounge" (Grand Hospitality) CD $14.99
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Surely since the advent of the luxury hotel, the hotel bar has
been an essential element in the creation of a cutting edge, sexy
atmosphere. Hotel bars, at their best, are a meeting place for the
international set, where the rich, glamorous, famous, fascinating,
and those who like to get close to them can relax and mingle with
a soft couch, a hard drink, and some tinkling mood music. In New
York's current (sweltering) climate, there is no place hotter than
the SoHo Grand Hotel, and its younger sister, the Tribeca Grand.
Their rooms are filled by a young community of successful music,
art and fashion world citizens, and their bars have become regular
hotspots on the downtown scene with an ever-changing roster of
celebrity DJs entertaining an international mix of hotel guests
and roving night-lifers. To capture the moment, the Grand Lounge
has released a compilation featuring a laundry list of the
underground superstars who have graced their turntables. There are
no exclusive tracks here, but the mix covers an excellent cross-
section of the best of the downtempo scene, featuring Thievery
Corporation, Tosca, Matthew Herbert, Zero 7, Etienne de Crecy,
Thunderball, Nitin Sawhney, and much more. They capture a mood
perfectly, and perhaps this is just what you need to create an
international lounge culture in your living room. [JM]

PRIMAL SCREAM "Evil Heat" (Columbia UK) CD/LP $21.99/$25.99
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It's hard to believe that this crew is still here in all of their
drug addled glory. One thing that this band has always been able
to do is consistently change and morph and to cater to whatever
peoples' ears are open to at the time. Yet it doesn't ever sound
(pardon the pun) bandwagonesque. Perhaps it's because they know
where the roots of every movement begin, and that's what they
present. Anyway, "Evil Heat" with all of its hard dirty synth
beats and repetitious vocals, reminds one of the current sounds
championed in the electro dance scene. However, upon deeper
listens you realize that this record's grooves are more inspired
by Neu!, Can and Throbbing Gristle, rather than Kraftwerk, Yello,
or Telex. Lots of dissonant distortions, rock guitars. The most
head scratching moment is their dark, crunchy version of the Lee
Hazlewood mourner "Some Velvet Morning," featuring lead vocals
from Kate Moss! The most confounding thing is that it actually
works. Recommended. [DH]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=509975089232&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=509975089231&refer_url=email

FROG EYES "Bloody Hand" (Global Symphonic) CD $13.99
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"Bloody Hand" by Victoria, B.C. based Frog Eyes, is without
question the best album I have heard all year. It was released
several months back and was recommended to me soon after by Phil
(fellow OM employee) who had been urged to check it out by
Destroyer's Dan Bejar. From what I gather, lead singer Carey
Mercer is something of a legend, known for unsettling live
performances, hypnotizing all who were lucky enough to bear
witness. The dark territory that he creates is unique and
difficult to describe. In many respects the sound owes a debt to
the experimental circus-meets-cabaret of Tom Waits and Captain
Beefheart. The vocals are pure drama with comparisons lying
somewhere between Birthday Party-era Nick Cave and Billy MacKenzie
of the Associates. Mercer's stream of consciousness lyricism tries
to hide more than it reveals, nonsensical phases mix with cliches
for an effect that is as confusing as it is infectious. I don't
know if they will ever garner much attention outside of Canada,
but in my opinion Frog Eyes are the best new band to emerge this
year and "Bloody Hands" is the album of the year. DISJOINTED,

THE CORAL "The Coral" (Deltasonic) CD $22.99
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This is going to be the strangest pop record you'll hear all year.
Quite honestly, the build-up of album opener "Spanish Main,"
falling somewhere between Captain Beefheart and Strawberry Alarm
Clock, was jarring enough to make me almost hit stop on the CD
player. Reading about the Coral's plundering of disparate music
styles and "everything but the kitchen sink" approach, I guess I
was expecting another Super Furry Animals or maybe Clinic. Getting
past the first song, which now isn't as jarring having listened to
the whole record a bunch of times, this is a damn fine album. The
members of the Coral are pulling from so many sources you almost
expect the band to be doomed to failure from the get-go. Vocalist
James Skelley channels the bluesy depth of Eric Burdon's voice by
way of the throaty croon of Julian Cope or Ian McCulloch but
musically, it's an affair of ADD proportion. While there's a
strong dose of '60s psychedelia, right down to the Wurlitzer organ
leads and spacey guitar jams, the Coral hop all over the place --
from "Shadows Fall" (which sounds like the Specials playing a
Morricone score) to a quick dip into Russian folk territory
during "I Remember When." But unlike most records appearing in the
current wave of prog influenced pop bands, this record actually
succeeds in feeling like it comes from a different time. (Producer
Ian Broudie no doubt deserves some credit.) You may not like this
record on first listen, but with a few more spins you'll be hooked.

[V.A.] "African Roots/Act 3" (Wackies) CD/LP $15.99/$12.99
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The whole point of Basic Channel's reissuing the relatively lo-
profile, vintage dub reggae titles from the Wackie's label is to
call attention to those records' galvanic, true textures and
reveal them as principal source for the type of gauzy, propulsive
exquisiteness proffered by BC much later on. Or as a thank-you to
them for inadvertently spawning their successful bids for the all-
time minimal techno throne, in other words. This installment is
designed to complement the others and, apart from supplying its
own particular evidence of consistent production brilliance,
functions as such. [DHo]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875566112&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875566111&refer_url=email

BRASILIA "Brasilia" (Unovis) CD $5.99
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These days, so much attention is being given to Brooklyn's post-
punk and electro circles that it's easy to forget there's other
music being made in the borough. Meanwhile, Brasilia is one of
those bands hovering quietly below the scope of radar while the
electroclash set makes the scene. Named after the utopian inspired
capitol of Brazil, everything about this duo (now an official
trio) seems natural and graceful. Like the chilly Krautrock drones
of early Stereolab, Brasilia's music chugs along fuzzy bass and the
warm waves of a vintage organ. Vocalist Jen Sunderland sings simple
yet sticky melodies that, like Laetitia Sadier, are padded with
socialist lyrics. But Brasilia offer a more laid back and lulling
form of dream pop, eerie yet soothing in its bare bone approach.
Bassist Roy Styles provides most
of the melodic foundation taking
the place of what would traditionally be the role of a guitarist. (In
fact it's hard to tell that there are no guitars present.) Dreamy
organ swells oscillate and envelope each track with a haze of
sweet dissonance gently nudged by angular drums. Then the bedroom
electronics of the final track, "The Existing State of Everything
(I am Robot and Proud Remix)" creeps in from nowhere. Like cutting
an astronaut's tether, the spacecraft is now unattainable. As he
floats further into deep space, Earth grows smaller but the
heavens grow closer. Recommended for any fan of dream pop!
(Brasilia's CD is beautifully screened painted and hand packaged.) [GH]


DJ/RUPTURE "Gold Teeth Thief" (Violent Turd) CD $6.99
Mixtapes/mix CDs are a dodgy affair. 90% of them should be
consigned to the dumpster. But dj/rupture created a mix of such
startling originality that it is a composition in its own right.
Red Alert could do this, so could Larry Levan, and now dj/rupture.
From the heavy ragga/dancehall opening through the hardcore of DJ
Scud, into the deep head nod of Memphis hip-hop star Project Pat
into Henry Berio: the energy here is overwhelming and rupture's
wild eclecticism is never gratuitous. [TH]

This week's contributors: Andy Giles [AG], Gerald Hammill [GH],
Duane Harriott [DH], Tim Haslett [TH], Rob Hatch-Miller [RH] Dan
Hougland [DHo], Michael Klausman [MK], Josh Madell [JM], and
Jeremy Sponder [JS].

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