Other Music New Release Update
May 16, 2002

In This Week's Update:

Studio One DJs (Various Artists)
Yo La Tengo
Get Up Kids
Horace Andy
DJ Shadow (Single)
Beat Happening (Box Set)
Love Joys (Reissue)
Annie Gosfield
Bright Eyes (EP)
Purple Ivy Shadows

Featured New Releases:

EL-P "Fantastic Damage" (Def Jux) CD/LP $15.99/$18.99
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I gave up on hip-hop years ago, but this record has given me hope.
El-P, known for his groundbreaking work with Company Flow and the
stellar production on his Def Jux label, has composed a head-banger.
Full of cyber-funk, colliding with distortion, and influenced by old
school treacherous beats, El-P has reached the far ends of
experimental everything with his debut full-length, "Fantastic
Damage."  Naming this "Hip-Hop Album of the Year" wouldn't be an
understatement. Controversial lyrical madness complements the
dark, muddy insight offered from these off-kilter beats, and still
remains innovative without going overboard. Appearances by Aesop
Rock, Mr.Lif and Vast Aire add to the album's excellence and never
fail to disappoint. (But did you really think it would?)  Buy this album
and file under "Classics." [JD]
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AKUFEN "My Way" (Force Inc) CD $15.99
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It seems that only once in a while a record comes along which
shatters your expectations and stands out from amongst the pack of
today's independent releases. Autechre did it with "Chisatic Slide."
Herbert did it with "Around the House." Boards of Canada did it with
"Music Has the Right to Children." These records set the standards
for all others to live up to and now Akufen's "My Way" can be added
to that list. Marc Leclair (a.k.a. Afuken) is an innovator in the truest
sense of the word, taking what has been done before and morphing
it into something completely different, exciting and new. He starts
off with a tech-house formula but then composes each track in a
way that is all his own. Leclair uses what he calls "microsamples"
to build each song, piece by tiny piece, until it's fully complete. "My
Way" is also an entire composition with recurring samples and
themes dispersed throughout the 10 tracks. The album is a
journey -- opening with the tripped-out guitar and vocal samples of
"Even While Horizons" which then leads into the brilliant 4/4 dubbed
out masterpiece, "Installation." By track three, "Skidoos," he
switches it up entirely adding a whole new element of funk (ala
Basement Jaxx) which carries through the next six songs. But by
the end of track nine (titled "Late Night Munchies"), Leclair slows
things down finally finishing with the brilliant "My Way." This final cut
incorporates some of the same elements heard on the first track, but
in an entirely new manner. Never has a tech-house album sounded
so complete with each track ready for the dancefloor, or to be taken
as one entire composition -- kind of like an experimental Basement
Jaxx, or Herbert with a little more funk. Akufen's "My Way" is utterly
brilliant and a must have album of 2002. Just ask anyone here on
our staff! [JS]

[V. A.] "Studio One DJs" (Soul Jazz) CD/LP $15.99/$18.99
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Soul Jazz has released yet another wonderful compilation
showcasing one of Jamaica's most influential studios during the
mid-'60s to early-'70s. (Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's legendary
Studio One gave birth to the likes of Bob Marley, Burning Spear
and Lee Perry, to name a few.) In Jamaica, the DJs (which are
featured in this compilation) are not only selectors, but also
toast or rhyme over rhythms produced in the studio. (This became
the prototype for hip hop a decade later.) This collection
showcases well-known artists like Prince Far I, Dennis Alcapone
and Dillinger, along with some more obscure DJs. The sound ranges
from early rocksteady to heavy roots. For a better part of the
week, I've had "Studio One DJs" spinning in my discman -- I highly
recommend this! [GA]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502632810058&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502632800058&refer_url=email

YO LA TENGO "The Sounds of the Sounds of Science" (Egon) CD $14.99
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For those of you who were lucky enough to catch one of the few
live performances over the past year with Yo La Tengo accompanying
the beautiful nature films of Jean Painleve, I have an audio
memento for you. If you missed the events, you are sorry, but
perhaps this record can ease your pain. The series of Painleve's
films chronicled here (shot between the 1930s and the 1970s) is
made up of stunning underwater and seaside shorts -- each focusing
on a different, under-appreciated species. Incredibly detailed and
full of subtle drama and emotion, these films of science are also
very appealing to fans of surrealism and the avant-garde. The
original silent shorts featured soundtracks by Pierre Henry among
others, but when some new prints were to be premiered at last
year's San Francisco International Film Festival, the producers
asked Yo La Tengo to create a new original soundtrack to be
performed live with the films. YLT is a band known as much for
their textured, varied-instrumental soundscapes as their pop gems.
The eight mini-scores that they recorded here (with their long-time
producer Roger Moutenot in the same Nashville studio that saw the
creation of their last few albums) take full advantage of their
instrumental prowess. Far from a throwaway, the record is as strong
as any of their recent subtle psychedelia; the absence of vocals
only allows the musicians the space to fully explore unfolding
themes. As usual, their soulful rhythms ripple like waves beneath
layers of guitars and keyboards, slowly shifting melodies surface as
from the depths of the ocean, and the occasional jellyfish appears
from below to color the scene. The playing is instantly recognizable,
from the jazzy improv of "Shrimp Stories" to the acid-drenched
builds of "The Love Life of the Octopus," and with this exercise in
composing the band has unleashed some of their more inspired
performances. Self-released on the long-dormant Egon Records,
this is a limited edition CD-only release that, up until now, has
only been available at the handful of screenings they staged and
through the band's fledgling web site. Buy it now while it is around
and it will handily fill in until YLT release their next "proper" album
sometime next year. My only disappointment is that the tracks are
not available alongside the films for home viewing, and I dream of a
DVD featuring both the vintage avant-classical scores (which I have
yet to hear) and Yo La Tengo's stunning new versions. [JM]

GET UP KIDS "On a Wire" (Vagrant) CD $14.99
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The Get Up Kids are certainly in the position to be "next big thing."
Over the past few years, non-stop touring, hi-energy performances,
and most importantly, introspective anthems (usually centering
around that girl who's just out of reach) have made these Kansas
City lads the perfect salve for many an awkward youth. And while
MTV is knocking at their door, the Kids have stuck to their indie
guns releasing their latest, "On a Wire," with a Vagrant Records
imprint. Like 1999's infectious, "Something to Write Home About,"
the Get Up Kids continue to sprinkle acoustic guitars and
keyboards over an electric mix, but "On a Wire" is a mellower
affair. Starting with the hushed "Overdue," there's an obvious
maturing taking place in their songwriting. "Stay Gone," one of
the more hyper-paced tracks, borrows a melody that could have
come straight from Glen Tillbrook's mouth two decades before.
The first half of "On a Wire" doesn't stray from their simple but
winning formula of well written power-pop rock, (including a Blue
Oyster Cult-ish introduction to "Let the Reigns Go Loose," which
takes a deceptiveturn soon after), but later tracks show a more
expansive side. Featuring a mellotron, "All That I Know" is a clever
take on '67-era Beatles, right down to George Harrison styled lyrics
and slide guitar leads. With "On a Wire," the Get Up Kids have taken
a significant stride forward, crafting songs that will deservedly free
them from the shackles of the "emo" tag while maintaining the
hummable introspection which made them a such favorite among
their counterparts. [GH]

HORACE ANDY "Dub Box" (Jamaican Recordings) CD/LP $16.99/$12.99
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Jamaican Recordings plundered through an incredible couple of
years of output from the menacingly brilliant career of Horace
Andy to come up with this intoxicating collection of dub
standouts. These 14-plus tracks, (crafted at the stellar studios
of Harry J, King Tubby and Channel 1 and featuring guest
appearances by the likes of Sly and Robbie and Augustus Pablo),
present Andy's ethereally resonant voice processed through the
stoned out logic and drenched space echoes of dub. Classic Horace
Andy tunes like "Skylarking," "Money Money" and "You are My Angel"
are recreated in crystalline, stretched-out grandeur, layering
precise percussion with walls of reverb and sparkling organ work.
The end result is a ridiculously beautiful and achingly groovy
masterpiece. [MC]
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RECLOOSE "Cardiology" (Planet E) $14.99
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Matthew Chicoine (a.k.a. Recloose) has been putting out amazing
progressive soul 12" singles for years, but he is still relatively an
unknown figure and that's always been puzzling to me. The few
reviews I've read of his music have always been linked to techno,
and that's where his singles are usually filed in dance stores.
That's unfortunate. Don't get me wrong, I love techno, and he does
record for one of the most respected techno labels in the world
(Planet E); it's just that Chicoine's music has always had a
classic soul element that kind of transcended such lazy
pigeonholing that he's been a victim of. It's music that's hard to
categorize but pretty simple to describe. Imagine Stevie Wonder
circa "Secret World of Plants," combined with the time signature
shattering funk of Vikter Duplaix and Jazzanova. Add a dash of the
dark, acid-y sounds of classic Derrick May and the quirky hiccup-y
melodies championed by Herbert, and you've got a Recloose track.
This is my favorite electronic record right now -- please check this
out. [DH]

DJ SHADOW "You Can't Go Home Again" (MCA) CD $3.99
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Josh Davis' newest single, "You Can't Go Home Again," marks an
unexpected departure. Better known as DJ Shadow, his cut and paste
pastiche and sound collage wizardry single-handedly created a
whole sub-genre of experimental hip hop. On this short outing,
however, the title track is a blend of new wave and post-rock,
propelled by a guitar, bass and drum repetition with '80s synth
crescendos lifting the song's subtle changes. (Imagine Trans Am
covering a cut from Tortoise's "Millions Now Living...")
"Disavowed," utilizing those same vintage synthesizers, is a little
more booty-shaking with abrupt layers of live drums (courtesy of
Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha) cresting above a
programmed beat. The sample heavy, "Trench Battle Beat," rolls
over a hip hop groove with some occasional scratching, but is far
from the epic assault we're used to. While this is certainly a
diversion for Shadow, it's an interesting and fun one. [GH]

BEAT HAPPENING "Crashing Through/Box Set" (K Records) CD $54.99
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Ten or so years since their final release, and a whopping
seventeen since their debut album (what the hell have I been doing
all this time?), it is easy to forget the power, influence, and pure
pop joy that was Beat Happening. Much of their impact has since
been lost under the wave of mediocre DIY pop bands that they
spawned. (Plus, Calvin Johnson has done nothing for his case with
his willfully eccentric public behavior over the past few years and a
somewhat dubious take on deep dub with his Dub Narcotic Sound
System.) But with the new release of a box set spanning the
band's career, it has been immensely pleasurable to spend some
time to reflect on a group that, not only spearheaded the entire
indie-pop movement, shook up the ever-stale music industry and
inspired much of the youth of America to start a band, but more
importantly, wrote some stellar, emotional pop classics that still
resonate to this day. From the early '80s onward, Johnson was at
the center of the exploding Pacific Northwest music scene,
founding the original Sub Pop fanzine that later launched the
label, before he started K Records in his hometown of Olympia,
Washington. Olympia soon became "Mecca" for slightly nerdy,
unpretentious, self-made pop bands from around the world. Beat
Happening embodied a movement for many music fans of the time,
forgoing rock and roll pomp for the belief that anyone could make
great music with personal appeal. They traded instruments and
vocals song by song, not because they were expert multi-
instrumentalists, but because they liked to mess around, play
simple chords and beat the drums with all their passion. Their
vocals were sometimes off-key, their lyrics simple and childlike,
but somehow all the parts fit, and they embodied a true rock and
roll spirit that was direct and inspirational. And behind the
performance, Beat Happening's secret weapon was the songwriting --
every album peppered with a few undeniable hits. And unlike many of
the groups whose 7" singles we all collected in the '90s, Beat
Happening wrote pop singles that deserved to be heard. (They have
been covered by many artists including Hole, Teenage Fanclub,
Luna, and Yo La Tengo). Songs like "Indian Summer", "Cast A
Shadow", "Black Candy," or "Tiger Trap" are gems in the rough, and
still move me. This exhaustive seven-disc box features the band's
five albums in their entirety (each individually digi-packed); plus
another full-length containing singles, compilation tracks and the
wonderful Beat Happening/Screaming Trees collaboration from '87;
and a CD-ROM with live performances and videos as well as "Beat
Happening Live In London," culled from a rare cassette-only split
release with the Vaselines. Add to that a beautiful 92-page book of
interviews, unpublished photos, art, and commentary written by K
Records stalwart Lois Maffeo, and you have the definitive last word
on one of the more important indie bands from an era when that
seemed to mean something. [JM]

LOVE JOYS "Lovers Rock" (Wackies) CD $15.99
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Basic Channel continues to re-issue top rate Wackies reggae
titles; their latest is by the English female vocal duo, the Love
Joys. The Love Joy's interlace vocal harmonies and sweet lovers
rock with praises to Jah and ganja, over tuff, bottom-heavy,
dubwise steppers rhythms on par with their Jamaican counterparts
the Aggrovators and the Revolutionaries. This album should please
the lovers as well as the roots reggae fans. Recommended!  [GA]

MAYDAY "Old Blood" (Saddle Creek) CD $11.99
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Mayday is the new project featuring former members of the rustic
Nebraska band, Lullaby for the Working Class. Though Mayday aren't
as acoustic and orchestrated as Lullaby, they still retain the
languid pathos tinged rattle-and-groan sound that their former
group had. A subtle Neil Young influence sneaks through in the form
of the jagged electric guitars, something that Lullaby never had.
And while the album gets progressively darker, an optimistic vibe
pervades throughout. All in all, "Old Blood" is another very
strong release added to the soon-to-be legendary Saddle Creek
catalogue. Pick this one up if you are a fan of their former band,
Songs: Ohia, and the like. This one's for those who like their
dynamic rock without the drama and bombast. [DH]

BRIGHT EYES "There Is No Beginning to the Story" (Saddle Creek) CD $7.99
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The newest EP from Bright Eyes, a teaser from their forthcoming
album "The Story in the Soil," features one song from the album
and three tracks exclusive to this release. Connor Oberst's
patented emotive growl is at its most restrained here, especially
on the stripped-down and bleak "Messenger Birds Song." But Oberst
is as wordy as ever, with his naturally flowing, narrative-vocal
approach remaining the centerpiece of the Bright Eyes sound.
Oberst's lyrics are joined by dense orchestration courtesy of his
Omaha cronies; the arrangements are careful and well thought out
but still tastefully lo-fi. Closing with "Loose Leaves," Bright Eyes
swings with '60s-style swagger that has never been heard in
Oberst's repertoire. Without a trace of filler, this EP functions
both as a preview for what is likely to be Bright Eyes' finest hour
and as the logical progression from the fantastic "Fevers and
Mirrors" album. [PW]

ANNIE GOSFIELD "Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery" (Tzadik) CD $14.99
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And now a word on a record you should all know about. Annie
Gosfield spent six-weeks in the factories of Nuremberg, Germany,
studying and recording the sounds of machinery. The results:
"Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery," a beautiful montage of live
instrumentation and mechanic composition. In the main piece,
"EWA7," Gosfield, along with Roger Kleier, Ikue Mori, and others,
rearrange the samples taken from her residency and unite them
with electric guitar and percussion, creating a symphonic intrigue
that shifts, overlaps and echoes into 42-minutes of rhythmic,
arrhythmic ambience. On the title track, Gosfield successfully
recreates the energy of this experience into a chamber piece for
string and percussion quartets. Take the time to spend an afternoon
with one of downtown New York's most innovative composers. [JD]

PURPLE IVY SHADOWS "Field:Guide" (Dark Beloved Cloud) CD $10.99
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A few weeks ago I was at Warsaw to see the Rapture and the Black
Dice, and while I thought both bands were great I couldn't help
but look around and feel, well, old. (And I'm only 31!) Another
excellent album from Purple Ivy Shadows, this time on Dark Beloved
Cloud, reminds us that rock doesn't have to always be just for the
kids. Great songwriting, subtle melodies and the never tiresome
tone of an old Fender guitar through a vintage Fender amplifier are
the benchmarks of their sound, and this time around they add a
healthy dose of swirling drones and loops. I think this underrated
and under-appreciated band from Providence, Rhode Island, deserves
a whole lot more attention, and this album could definitely be the one
to bring in some new fans. It is richly textured, and though the
overall vibe is melancholy, there is a sort of triumphant feel to it.
These days, methinks, there is no small triumph in making a fantastic
album that is neither trendy or retro, one that refreshingly puts the
substance back where it belongs -- over the style. [CO]

This week's contributors: Geoff Albores [GA], Matt Connors [MC],
J Dennis [JD], Gerald Hammill [GH], Duane Harriott [DH], Josh Madell
[JM], Chris O'Rourke [CO], Jeremy Sponder [JS] and Phil Waldorf [PW].

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