Other Music New Release Update
January 30, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Live at Tonic 1999-2002 (Various Artists)
Postal Service (CD single)
Loose Fur
Chris Smither (reissue)
Barry 7's Connectors Volume 2
Ryoji Ikeda
Scene Creamers
Super Numeri
Mark Eric (reissue)
"Movern Callar" (Soundtrack)
Hearts and Flowers (reissue)
Superchunk "Clambake Series Volume 2"
Bare Essentials Volume 2 (Various Artists)
Robert Pollard
Jeff Hanson

Just In:

Gang of Four (reissue)
No Neck Blues Band
Supersilent 6


BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY "Master and Everyone" (Drag City)
CD/LP $12.99/$10.99

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Will Oldham's latest is startling in its sparseness. A tender and delicate
sound to accompany an honest and hopeless acceptance (admittance?)
of an incapable heart. Though "Master and Everyone" does not (for me
at least) surpass older material, it will hold its weight for fans of Bonnie
Billy. It is simply a beautiful album -- as quiet as it is unsettling. You
can hear each inhalation, each squeak of the chair. Indeed, he is alone
and this loneliness resonates. The songs cut short and leave you
wanting more of an explanation, much like a broken discussion in a
darkened bedroom. Love does not solve any problems but at least if
you are crying you are still alive. Bittersweet country was never so
biting. I guess it is far easier to sing with a woman than to try and live
with one, as many of the tracks have female vocals (echoing his
sentiments, perhaps to soften the blow). It could be pigeon holed as
another brokenhearted country record if not for the drastic darkness it
conveys. The cover alone sends shivers up my spine, featuring the
artist, sepia toned, eyes glazed, despondent to any yearning for real
love. I suggest you get two copies, for the first will wear thin as you
listen to these song-poems over and over and speculate on the grief
that can be love. [NL]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=78148402332&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999191201&refer_url=email

[V.A.] "Live at Tonic/1999-2002 Volume 1" (Tonic) CD $14.99
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We are very excited to be carrying the first volume in a new series of
limited live CDs documenting the activities of various Tonic regulars,
most of whom are associated with New York City's Downtown music
scene. An eclectic mix of free improvisation, jazz, rock, noise and
exotica, "Live at Tonic Volume 1" brings together several generations of
musicians to give you an extremely versatile and accurate portrait of the
venue's first few years. Highlights include Arto Lindsay's off-kilter
Brazilian electro-pop and Derek Bailey and Min Xiao-Fen's sublime
acoustic guitar and pipa duo. A fine selection of tracks from one of
NYC's most exciting venues. Artists featured are: Arto Lindsay, John
Zorn, John Medeski, Marc Ribot, Ben Perowsky, Joey Baron, Vinicius
Cantuaria, Dougie Bowne's Peninsula, Derek Bailey & Min Xiao-Fen,
Erik Friedlander, Sylvie Courvoisier, Ikue Mori, Z'EV, Haino Keiji, Susie
Ibarra Trio, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Kim Gordon, Marina Rosenfeld
and Raz Mesinai. [KH]

POSTAL SERVICE "Such Great Heights" (Sub Pop) CD Single $3.99
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The single for Postal Service's forthcoming album "Give Up" (a
collaboration between Dntel & Figurine's Jimmy Tamborello and Death
Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard), the duo chase their sugar sweet OMD
muse with pulsing synth blips and electric hand-claps. "Such Great
Heights" is the bouncy title cut with a sincere melody that, unlike most
songs coming from the current revivalist crop of electro artists, is
completely devoid of any sense of irony. It's simply a damn fine pop
song. Their backing track "There's Never Enough Time" is bittersweet
but equally earnest as Gibbard's distinctive hushed voice cuts through
calculator-punched synth repetition. Layers of choppy indie-style guitar
upstrokes appear during the latter half of the song but strangely blend
quite well with this early-80s treatment. The two bonus tracks from their
Sub Pop labelmates are a real highlight. The Shins cover Postal Service's
"We Will Become Silhouettes" with chiming acoustic guitars and the
same soaring harmonies that made their fantastic "Oh Inverted World"
album one of the best rock releases in recent years. Iron and Wine
contributes a lo-fi version of the single's title track with whisper quiet
vocals backed only by an acoustic guitar. It's just as beautiful as the
original synth driven version. [GH]

LOOSE FUR "Loose Fur" (Drag City) CD/LP $12.99/$13.99
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This is the debut release from the much-anticipated meeting of Wilco's
Jeff Tweedy and multi-talented producer, musician and songwriter Jim
O'Rourke, with excellent drummer Glenn Kotche. From the vaguely
satanic name and Planet-of-the-Apes-rockin'-out cover art (as well as
the songwriters pedigree), I rightly guessed that this record would be
squarely aimed at some sort of folk-prog revival. What you get here are
six new tracks, all band collaborations musically, with Jeff and Jim
alternating vocals. Great percussion, warm acoustic picking, discordant
electric squawk, banjo and atmospherics. The pop songs are often
stretched out well beyond the last chorus (and well beyond the
six-minute mark), into drawn out percussive jams that eschew guitar
wank and focus on deepening and subtlety varying these light-rock
grooves. Tweedy's songs will satisfy fans of Wilco's recent stuff, and
Jim's are following in the vein he mined on his Drag City pop albums,
with a healthy serving Steely Dan thrown in for good measure. No hits
here, but a strong album of AOR for an indie nation now unafraid to
embrace the past that punk tried to bury. [JM]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=78148402032&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999191191&refer_url=email

CHRIS SMITHER "Don't It Drag On" (Tomato) CD $11.99
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Sometimes it's shocking the way a record can turn up through the haze
of time and present itself to you in such a way that you're simply
astounded it was missed by the mass of critical opinion which ensures
a record keeps on being talked about long after it's been recorded. For if
nobody mentions it, nobody hears it. Chris Smither's "Don't It Drag On"
is unfortunately just such a record. It is practically criminal that it doesn't
even garner a review in the All Music Guide. Recorded and released in
1971 by the enigmatic independent Poppy Records (home to the first
few Townes Van Zandt records, with whom Smither shares a vibe if not
necessarily a sound) "Don't It..." was Smither's second album, and like
the first, failed to make much of a commercial presence. It wouldn't be
until the 1990s that he would begin releasing records on a regular basis,
which perhaps explains why he hasn't cultivated the cult following and
hipster cred that Zan Vandt has. The record was recorded in
Woodstock and it certainly shares stylistic affinities with many of that
region's notable denizens like Dylan, the Band, Tim Hardin, etc. And
like the Rolling Stones -- whose "No Expectations" shows up in a
brilliantly laconic arrangement -- Smither is able to evoke the blues
without sounding derivatively "white guy bluesy." That is to say, he
makes them his own. And he's able to play guitar the way Mississippi
John Hurt did, where it seems he is simultaneously playing three things
at once, and yet hardly anything at all. The records that in my mind
stand the test of time are those that are stripped of excess
embellishment and this is certainly one of them. It easily stands
alongside the best work of Gram Parsons, Gene Clark, Fred Neil, or
just about any other songwriter of the era. [MK]

[V.A.] "Barry 7's Connector's Volume 2" (Lo) CD/LP $13.99/$15.99
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Rare and unreleased soundtrack recordings ('67-'74) straight from Italy's
renowned C.A.M. library, compiled by Barry 7 of Add N to (X). Ranging
from smooth to psychedelic, many of these tracks will be unfamiliar to
you, while others will offer a new take on old classics. Composers
include: Giuseepe De Luca, Giampiero Boneschi,  Piero Piccioni (one
of my personal favorites), Stefano Torossi, Daniele Patuchhi, and Ennio
Morricone. Every bit as good as Barry's previous venture, this
compilation is sure to not disappoint. [JD]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=66601704082&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=66601704091&refer_url=email

RYOJI IKEDA "op." (Touch) CD $13.99
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On his fifth full-length release, Ryoji Ikeda forgoes electronic music
altogether, instead creating an album of spectral compositions for
strings. While Ikeda's signature experiments with standing waves and
stereo field disturbance are largely absent, his concerns with
psychoacoustic space remain. This time, however, Ikeda uses
sweeping violin glissandi, instead of sinewaves, to pierce the listener's
ear. The distiction between where notes begin and end is largely
indescernable on "op." Just as Japanese calligraphers approach the
brushstroke as breathing onto paper, Ikeda "breathes" his sounds into
being. This results in a distinctly more "organic" feeling than his earlier
works, which have been described as forensic and clinical. For many
listeners, Ikeda's tonal clouds will recall the works of Xenakis, Ligeti,
Part and especially Morton Feldman. Ikeda is not alone, as
contemporaries Bernhard Gunter, Richard Chartier, and Steve Roden
have all acknowledged their dept to Feldman's crepuscular landscapes.
On "op.," however, the discrete arrangements of harmonics and subtle
pulses are more of a reference than a direct homage. Ikeda layers and
subtracts these elements to create a highly pensive atmosphere where
dissonance is never resolved; it is only pulled back to reveal further
dissonance. The results leave the listener with a feeling of suspense
and suspension, evoking the experience of flying in an airplane, landing
through heavy fog, and slowly seeing a landscape revealed. [DHi]

SCENE CREAMERS "I Suck On That Emotion" (Drag City)
CD/LP 12.99/$10.99

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There's no mistaking that Ian Svenonius and Michelle Mae are behind
the Scene Creamers, but now joined by Golden's Alex Minoff,
the speedy dose of go-go psychedelia that the latter-day Make-Up
infused into their neo-garage-soul-punk is definitely heavier but with a
little less a go-go. The funk has since been tempered and the
shimmy's got a slower swagger with more acid-wah guitar freak-outs
winding around Svenonius' throaty, falsetto shout-outs. There are
moments you can almost smell the tubes burning in the back of the
'60s-vintage silver faced Fender Twin Reverb amplifier, but surprisingly,
acoustic guitars pop up throughout too. It's a little headier, so hang a
black light over the dancefloor and let those white belts glow. [GH]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=78148402342&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999191211&refer_url=email

SUPER NUMERI "Great Aviaries" (Ninja Tune) CD $14.99
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Ninja Tune throws their hat into the post-rock ring with the release of
"Great Aviaries" from the thirteen piece Super Numeri. With the slight
guitar picking and floating sitar of the ten minute opening piece, it's hard
not to be pulled into the ambient jazz-rock fusion brewing. Subtle,
soothing grooves without the constant rise and fall of Godspeed or the
digital playfulness of Tortoise. This one varies by their openness, each
instrument is clear, present, and their choice of instrumentation, from
viola, cello, Celtic harp, vibraphone, clarinet, and kalimba, helps keep it
engaging. Within 40-minutes, eight tracks, they just get the fire started.
Warm and distant, slow burning... [DG]

MARK ERIC "A Midsummer's Daydream" (Rev Ola) CD $14.99
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When this dreamy, vocal pop record was released in 1969, no one
noticed. In hindsight, this defiantly soft album didn't stand a chance
when placed next to the heady, psychedelic offerings of some of the
most popular artists of its time, but now it deserves its place next to
soft rock masters like Free Design, Margo Guryan, and Beach Boys'
"Friends." The production is super lush and Brian Wilson's influence is
very apparent in Mark Eric's vocal stylings and phrasing. I won't even
pontificate on the Wilson influence in the songwriting. I mean I'm still
baffled at how "Where Do All the Girls of Summer Go?" sounds exactly
like "Surfer Girl and "Caroline No," without sounding anything like it all
(like how Belle and Sebastian keep writing variations on "Alone Again
Or" by Love). But I digress. If you are a fan of '60s soft rock like the
aforementioned you'll looove this. [DH]

[V.A.] "Morvern Callar Soundtrack" (Warp) CD $16.99
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Lynne Ramsay's new film "Morven Callar" is driven by a superb
selection of music that also plays as a vital component in the movie's
story about a woman's journey following the death of her lover. Warp
Records has released this excellent soundtrack domestically and every
artist is a store favorite. Included are tracks from Stereolab, Lee
Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, Velvet Underground, Aphex Twin, Can,
Broadcast, Boards of Canada, Holger Czukay, Lee "Scratch" Perry and
more. [GH]

HEARTS AND FLOWERS "The Complete?" (Rev Ola) CD $22.99
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Hearts and Flowers were a key figure in the story of the California
folk-rock scene of the late-'60s, and they helped set the stage for the
popularization of pop-folk as well as country-rock on the American and
European scenes. Larry Murray, the de-facto leader of the group (and its
principle songwriter) played bluegrass with Chris Hillman (Byrds) and
Bernie Leadon (Dillard and Clark, Flying Burrito Brothers, Eagles) on the
1962 recordings of the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers. He was deeply
involved in the L.A. folk scene of the 1960s, and the two albums that he
made under the Hearts and Flowers name, with Dave Dawson and Rick
Cuhna, as well as Leadon and others, are classics of the era, if perhaps
a bit dated. This double CD collects everything and more: their 1967 and
1968 Capitol albums, plus 13 unreleased tracks of the same period.
Close harmonies, slick acoustic production and gentle orchestration
define these tracks. A lot cooler than Peter, Paul and Mary, but without
the edgy psychedelic mystery of the Byrds, they helped create a
movement that they never really got to enjoy, and these records came
and went without much notice outside of Los Angeles. The albums were
about half-originals and half-covers by the likes of Donovan, Tim Hardin
and Woody Guthrie. The originals are beautiful, yet slightly forgettable
odes to women, wine, and the burgeoning hippie lifestyle. Fans of the
band will need this for the excellent remastered sound and huge cache
of bonus material. Fans of the era should grab it for some deeper insight
into the heart of one of the more exciting times in American popular
music. [JM]

SUPERCHUNK "Clambake Series Volume 2" (Clambakes) CD $13.99
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This newest release from Superchunk in their super-limited (only 2,500
copies) "Clambakes" series documents a one-off live accompaniment to
the classic and freaky 1926 Japanese experimental silent film "A Page
of Madness." Recorded in 2002 at San Francisco's legendary baroque
movie palace the Castro, Superchunk's soundtrack follows the film's
early avant-garde stylings with echoes, jangles, straight out jams and
dirges, occasional wailed vocals, and an overall cinematic timbre
heretofore unseen in any of their previous work.  Somewhere between
chill-out and freak-out music, "A Page of Madness" should satisfy the
cinephile and the Superchunk fan equally. [MC]

[V.A.] "Bare Essentials Volume 2" (Astralwerks) CD $16.99
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Let me begin by saying that I love this label. There are just certain
times of the day and specific times of the night when you need a
little mood music, and whether at home or on the dance floor, Naked
Music has you covered. Last year marked the first full-length releases
from the label's most well known artists whom prior to this could only
be found on 12"s and Naked compilations. "Bare Essentials Vol. 2" is
lightly mixed and features the best of that 12" catalog including
previously unreleased mixes from artists such as Aquanote, Blue Six,
Andy Caldwell, Miguel Migs, and Lisa Shaw. Deep, sexy, soulful, vocal
house at its finest. [JD]

ROBERT POLLARD "Motel of Fools" (Fading Captain) CD/LP $12.99/$11.99
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Robert Pollard has just released his first solo EP, "Motel of Fools,"
#26 in the Fading Captain Series. Though definitely not a realized
album, the seven tracks are curiously some of his most experimental
to date, playing with tape fidelity, backward guitars, and some mildly
psychedelic sound collage. Various contributors throughout Guided by
Voices history appear including Greg Demos, Tobin Sprout and Jim
Macpherson. If you're still new to the prolific universe of Pollard and
Guided By Voices, you should still start with "Bee Thousand."
Enthusiasts will definitely dig this though and it's a pretty cool
glimpse into the creative recesses of Pollard's brain. [GH]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999191122&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999191131&refer_url=email

JEFF HANSON "Son" (Kill Rock Stars) CD $13.99
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Kill Rock Stars' latest signing is Jeff Hanson formerly of M.I.J. who put
out records on Caulfield. Hanson's debut solo album steps away from
his emo past to reveal a sensitive, primarily acoustic album filled with
lyrics of isolation and lost love. "Son" mostly resembles the
highly-regarded and former KRS labelmate Elliott Smith. I think that is
what prompted Slim to sign him, their first demo signing ever. This is
probably due to the vocal styling that seems to come across like a
more feminine Elliott and at times even Rebecca Gates. At first, this
album seems a little too sensitive, but after a few listens I found that I
was walking around all day humming these catchy and beautiful
melodies. I bet that you will too. [JS]


GANG OF FOUR "Hard/Solid Gold" (Wounded Bird) CD $14.99
Gang of Four's album debut, "Entertainment" will always be noted as
the band's greatest, but I actually hold "Solid Gold," their follow-up
first released in 1981, as an equal. Here the politically charged but
never quite militant lyrics are carried by more rhythmic, fractured funk
and heavy guitar staccatos. In contrast, 1983's "Hard" (which is now
seeing its first-ever release on CD) was slick and glossy; the modern
production styling of the early-80s (drum machines, synths, slippery
guitar effects and lots of backing female vocals) took the front teeth
out of the band's bite. They'd break up soon after, though Andy Gill
and Jon King would stage a reformation seven years later. I plan on
picking up this essential reissue to finally replace my well-worn vinyl
copy of "Solid Gold." The inclusion of "Hard" is far from necessary,
but certainly a bonus. [GH]

NO NECK BLUES BAND "Ever Borneo" (Seres) LP $28.99
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This brand new limited vinyl pressing compiles a lot of their forays into
the ethnic sounds that the No Neck Blues Band have been rockin' for a
long time. Each LP is extravagantly packaged with a fabric embossed
sleeve and comes with one of two different bonus 7"s. Essential!

SUPERSILENT "6" (Rune Grammofon) CD $16.99
Norway's free-noise, electro-sonic-jazz ensemble presents another
monumental release of telepathic-like improvisation compositions.
Epic sound-sculpturing and not for the faint of heart.

This week's contributors: Matt Connors [MC], J Dennis [JD], Daniel
Givens [DG], Gerald Hammill [GH], Dan Hirsch [DHi], Duane
Harriott [DH], Kean Holtkamp [KH], Michael Klausman [MK], Nicole
Lang [NL], Josh Madell [JM] and Jeremy Sponder [JS].


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