Other Music New Release Update
June 11, 2003

In This Week's Update:

In This Week's Update:

David Sylvian
Pharaoh Overlord
Essential Logic (2-CD Retrospective)
Dean Wareham / Britta Phillips
Flying Lizards (Re-issue)
Eugene McDaniels (Re-issue)
Mink Lungs
Terry Riley
Push Button Objects (Re-issue)
The Vanishing


Velvet Tinmine 1 & 2


DAVID SYLVIAN "Blemish" (Samadhi Sound) CD $20.99
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Three years since his last proper solo outing, David Sylvian treats us with
a fantastic new album of seemingly low key pop songs that brittle and burst
with carefully placed details. The album opens with the title track
"Blemish" a haunting journey reminiscent of a stripped down late-era Talk
Talk with David Sylvian's vocals mixed so far up front they create an
almost jarring immediacy that at first seems confining but becomes
strangely intimate as the song progresses. No stranger to collaboration
having worked in the band Japan for many years as well as with a host of
other musicians such as Holger Czukay, Robert Fripp and Ryuichi Sakamoto,
Sylvian has picked some interesting collaborators for what is essentially a
singer songwriter album. Three of the songs are based upon the now-classic
fractured improvised guitar style that Derek Bailey has been pursuing for
over 30 years. Sylvian weaves Bailey's pointillist guitar stabs into his
own beautifully awkward pop excursions juxtaposing song with improvisation
to create a hybrid that both works and doesn't work in extremely rewarding
ways. The final track features subtle arrangements and processing from the
unimitatable Christian Fennesz. This import priced album is more than worth
it for their duo a track alone, Fennesz' warmly layered digital haze is the
perfect compliment to Sylvian's dryly romantic vocals. A very deliberate
and aware album that gets better with each listen. Highly recommended. [KH]

RADIOHEAD "Hail to the Thief" (Capitol) $17.99
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Judging from the album title and artwork containing hundreds of slogans,
you'd figure "Hail to the Thief" to be a record of direct protest. And
opening with "2 + 2 = 5," Radiohead does work themselves from quiet, guitar
plucked melancholy to about as raging as you could expect the band to get,
in just over three minutes. "Go and tell the king that the sky is falling
in when it's not," Yorke sounds exasperated. But "Hail to the Thief" isn't
really an overt statement, perhaps a resignation or sad acceptance of the
recent state of affairs -- from the America's 2000 election debacle to
Orwellian prophecies fulfilled to corporate scandal -- but the album never
gets swallowed by concept. In fact, "Hail to the Thief" is Radiohead's
least self-conscious record since "The Bends." Where "Kid A" and the
subsequent "Amnesiac" seemed to be direct reactions of a band having to
redefine themselves and one-up the "OK Computer" monster, their newest
album comfortably pulls from both the skittering electronic experimentation
more recently learned, as well as traditional rock instrumentation; and
they do so almost equally. I can see why Yorke would proclaim this LP to
the media as "OK Computer 2," but it really isn't. Where as their 1997
masterpiece dealt with alienation amidst a backdrop of cold electronics,
prog-rock and weird time signatures, "Hail to the Thief" stands out as far
more human. In "I Will," Yorke wants to protect his family from a world
falling apart, "I will lay me down in a bunker underground/I won't let this
happen to my children." By all accounts, "Hail to the Thief" is a band
record, Thom Yorke loosening his controlling grip on the instrument
arrangements, and what results is much warmer and free. [GH]

DAEDELUS "Rethinking the Weather" (Mush) CD $14.99
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Daedelus makes sampler-music. It cannot be simply labeled "hip-hop." The
shit is just too layered, touching on too many flavors, while still making
absolute sense. He consistently makes music that seems as though two (or
more) records playing in separate apartments are synchronizing by accident.
(That's my favorite way too describe his sound.) He also happens to LOVE
his sounds. He plays a sample straight, upside down, cut in half. He
re-juxtaposes a sound multiple ways within the same track to different
effects. It's also not sampler/noise/chaos. It's totally inviting, yet
alien songwriting -- bouncy and poppy, fitting unlikely elements together
to form a new thing. A simple analogy would be Boards of Canada meets
Avalanches to DJ on an inner city rec-room basketball court in the '70s,
but it's better than that. It's totally his own vibe, and I like it.
Recommended. [SM]

GRANDADDY "Sumday" (V2) CD $13.99
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Some naysayers accuse Grandaddy of writing the same song over and over
again. There might be a little bit of truth to that, but so what. When a
formula works as well as theirs does it can be a mistake to stray too far
from it. The band doesn't really break any new ground on "Sumday," their
third proper full-length, but that's not a bad thing. At all. After "Sophtware
Slump," this is exactly the record that everyone expected them to make,
weaving together churning, infectious, fuzzy three-chord-rockers and syrupy
slow Casio ballads in their distinctive Pavement meets Alan Parsons style.
"Sumday" isn't exactly the second coming of Christ, but it's a damn fine pop
album that will leave fans satisfied. [RH]

PHARAOH OVERLORD "2" (No Quarter) CD $13.99
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First let me say how highly anticipated this release is. Sure, it's great
to uncover a "psychedelic gem" that you cherish, but there is definite
excitement when you know a contemporary band can have a home right next to
your Hawkwind or your Parson Sound. Rumor has it, Pharaoh Overlord will be
visiting the US early in 2004! With Pharaoh Over Lord "#2," we meet a
kinder, gentler Overlord. However, just because this lacks the giant reverb
and hard propulsion of the debut does not make it any less mammoth. The
second record is comprised of a lot of layers of feedback and random sounds
(flutes, running water, a deflating balloon? a singing saw?) over
never-ending riffs. It's a mellower affair with deeper, bassier tones and
acoustic guitars riding the heaviness. Until you get to track four, which
had us all in perfect synchronized head nod mode at the store. Entitled
"Skyline," this one harkens back to the epic, fuzzed-out, crushing rock jams
of the first record. The thing about Pharaoh Overlord is they take basic
rock -- guitars so heavy they steam-roll over you, simple, coma inducing
riffs -- and present them in a weaving, repetitive yet blissful drone, but
so huge!! It's not about the culmination here, but the duration of the
groove, they just don't quit. Mesmerizing! [NL]

ESSENTIAL LOGIC "Fanfare in the Garden" (Kill Rock Stars) CD $14.99
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Kill Rock Stars has released a true post-punk gem, a 2-CD Essential Logic
collection which is an absolute must for anyone re-visiting and/or
discovering Rough Trade's golden era with artists like the Slits, Raincoats,
Girls at Our Best, and of course X-Ray Spex. As a 15-year old, Lora Logic
hadn't even been playing the saxophone for a year when she joined X-Ray Spex,
adding a tremendous squawking counterweight to Poly Styrene's adolescent
screeches. Her time in this band was short lived; punk-lore states that Styrene
didn't want two women in the band, but not before Logic had made her mark on
their punk classics like "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" And this is where "Fanfare in
the Garden" begins. After leaving X-Ray Spex, she formed Essential Logic in
1978, a peculiar ensemble in the punk circle, embracing art rock tendencies
amidst off-kilter arrangements, dance beats, and her banshee-warble vocals and  
honking sax. The band's recording career was pretty limited only releasing one
proper album, "Beat Rhythm News," an EP and a few singles before disbanding.
Within a few years, Logic, like Styrene, would leave music to become a Hare
Krishna, but not without making a very lasting impression on the musicscape.
"Fanfare in the Garden" culls a majority of the tracks from "Beat Rhythm News" as
well as 1981 solo recordings that she made with a line-up which included This
Heat's Charles Hayward on drums, a 1982 track she recorded with Red Crayola
(in this incarnation, Mayo Thompson's backing band also included the Raincoats'
Gina Birch and Epic Soundtracks), some demos and unreleased tracks, plus
more recent recordings made during the late-'90s. (Liner notes by Greil Marcus.)
Essential indeed! [GH]

DEAN WAREHAM / BRITTA PHILLIPS "L'Avventura" (Jet Set) CD $12.99
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If you're wondering, Dean Wareham is the longtime leader and vocalist of
NYC dream-pop combo Luna, and previous to that he fronted the seminal indie
group Galaxie 500. Bassist Britta Phillips is a fairly recent addition to
Luna, with a long underground music and film career behind her, most
recently in Ultrababyfat. Their collaboration here bears few musical
surprises for longtime fans, but many small pleasures. The record comes off
as slightly updated interpretation of the classic Gainsbourg/Birkin or
Hazlewood/Sinatra records of the '60s and '70s, both of whom Wareham has
lovingly covered over the years; sad and sexy duets, lush and lazy
orchestration, and many deep forlorn stares into the distance. Both Dean
and Britta sing leads throughout, although Dean takes a few more, and they
mix originals with various surprising covers, including Madonna, the Doors,
and Buffy St. Marie. Add to this warm, spare production by legend-at-the  
-board Tony Visconti (Bowie and T-Rex, among many others), and you have a
beautiful little summer record, for the lovers. [JM]

FLYING LIZARDS "Secret Dub Life" (Piano) CD $13.99
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Hot on the heels of the popular "Wild Dub" compilation comes another
British new wave via Jamaica exploration in late-'70s dub. In 1978, Flying
Lizards mastermind David Cunningham (producer of This Heat, amongst many
others) received a mono master tape cut by legendary Jamaican producer Jah
Lloyd (with a top notch, although anonymous band) for Virgin's reggae
division Frontline (U-Brown, Burning Spear, LKJ). Told to do whatever he
wanted to with it, and with great sympathy towards the material, Cunningham
proceeded to conjure every trick he could come up with to rework the rhythm
tracks. And it's to his credit that a record that has as many sounds
happening in any given song as this doesn't come off sounding cluttered or
kitschy. The explanation for that could possibly be because of David
Cunningham's interest in the music of Philip Glass, Terry Riley, et al.
"Secret Dub Life..." is most likely one of the first (if not only) dub
records ever made with post-minimal strategies. He throws in loops, strips
rhythms, and adds effects (in pre-sampler days) to create a dub masterpiece
that holds its own against those giants of the genre Lee Perry and King
Tubby. Awesome. [MK]

SAULE "Saule" (Sub Rosa) CD $14.99
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Ah, the loop almighty. I could listen to one practically all day if it has
that little (often unexplainable) something that hits me in a certain way.
These three long tracks by Saule have those little somethings. Wielding
three turntables, some prepared records, a microphone, and headphones "for
feedback," he conjures foggy, blurred, slightly (yet so wonderfully)
disorienting loops that slowly multiply layer after layer into oblivion.
He's a shoegazeing experimental turntablist. Think of him as a hybrid of
Philip Jeck and Wolfgang Voigt (Gas, All, M:I:5, etc.) rooted in hip-hop
instead of techno. Whatever you may call him, Saule possesses a knack for
conjuring heart-warming, minor key hymns from his decks. He hugs these with
a big comfy blanket of antiquated 78 crackle that give the songs some kind
of ancient energy. It takes the intro "Hola" a few minutes to rise out of
the soiled abyss, only to be cradled by a wobbly fragment of a lullaby
unable to unlock itself. Drone-laden rhythms creep along their paths,
pivoting unexpectedly towards other destinations. "Ole'" blends Factory
Records-era keyboards and down-pitched arrythmic beats to perfection.
"Lido," originally composed as a soundtrack for a Super 8 film, is an
18-minute fugue of emotion and dirt. Out of the heavy atmosphere careens
one of the most majestic things I have ever heard. Saule rides the moment,
head nodding, fist pumping in slow motion, smile intact. Suddenly, the
music implodes into itself until the loneliest faint crackle is left to
evaporate. [DD]

EUGENE MCDANIELS "Outlaw" (Water) CD $14.99
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How do I begin to talk about Eugene McDaniels' "Outlaw?" The first line
"She's a nigger in jeans/she's an outlaw" sets the tone for this
soul-rock-folk hybrid from '70-'71. Gene began his career as an R&B singer,
but gained famed as a songwriter, penning one of the best socio-political
jazz-soul songs of the '60s, "Compared to What" recorded by Roberta Flack
and Rashaan Roland Kirk, and most recently by Common and Mya for a Coke
commercial. This predecessor to the classic epic "Headless Heroes of the
Apocalypse" is less of the pysch-soul fusion that made that record such a
dark and beautiful journey. "Outlaw" is of the urban folk, political rock,
socially aware soul variety, featuring Ron Carter on bass, Hugh McCraken on
guitar, and produced by Joel Dorn. "Outlaw" plays like a time capsule of
the Civil Rights movement: the sit-ins at NYC's parks, folk open mics in
the Village -- a society that was actively challenging the powers that be.
In these current troubled times, the lyrics still resonate. With a more
straight forward lyrical style titling songs "Love Letter to America",
"Welfare City", "Silent Majority", and with a rougher singing style, it's
more Lou Reed and the Stones than Terry Callier or Curtis Mayfield, but at
times reminiscent of all four. With all the neo-soul and outsider soul/rock
mixtures around, it's refreshing to hear something un-packaged,
un-marketed, real, relevant, and raw. If you think Cody Chesnutt, Saul
Williams, Donnie, or Dudley Perkins are the next big things, check out one
of the most original outsider soul artist of the past. Recommended with
fist in the air! [DG]

MINK LUNGS "I'll Take It" (Arena Rock) CD $11.99
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Mink Lungs' follow-up to "The Better Button" cements the New York
four-piece as one of the freakiest psych-pop bands around today. Their
first proper album released on Arena Rock was a weird, funny, but undeniably
catchy lo-fi record full of buzzy basement punk and psychedelia. Now, two
years after the rest of the world was introduced to Brooklyn's best kept secret,
Mink Lungs return with something even more skewed. Abandoning their trusted
8-track recorders for a proper studio environment, in this case bigger
sounds (and a little more polish) do mean better. The four
singer/songwriters plow through 17 tracks of off kilter pop, rock, frantic
rave-ups, with loads of great hooks. Amidst spazzy guitars, bagpipes,
oddball arrangements and alternating vocalists, the band's hidden charm is
their storytelling. Like any Mink Lungs release, you'll need to give "I'll
Take It" a few listens to grasp their "everything but the kitchen sink"
manifesto (in this case the sink is included), but that's why you love
these guys in the first place. [GH]

TERRY RILEY "Moscow Conservatory Solo Piano" (Long Arms) CD $14.99
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In May of 2000, Terry Riley made his first tour of Russia with solo piano
concerts at the Sergei Kuryokin Festival in Saint Petersburg, and at the
Moscow Conservatory and the Dom, a privately run contemporary music club.
The reviews at the time proclaimed "Terry Riley to be the greatest composer
pianist since Prokofieff." This brisk recording presents the unusual event
in its entirety, including Russian introduction and exalted applause. Riley
explores and interpolates many of his older pieces (including "A Rainbow in
Curved Air") as well as some new projects, including a musical based on the
life of Swiss outsider artist Adolf Woelfli, with solo piano -- a startling
conservative vehicle for the acclaimed minimalist's usually extremely
unorthodox compositions, time signatures and chromatic scales. The result
is an interesting mixture of American, European and eastern sounding
improvisations executed with a virtuoso touch and a searing musical
curiosity that obviously left the crowd in rapture. [MC]

PUSH BUTTON OBJECTS "A Day in the Life" (Skam) CD $8.99
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Following the release of "Ghetto Blaster," Push Button Objects and Skam
re-release an EP of old school IDM beats -- six instrument jams, loops, and
atmospheres to get lost in. With the cut-ups and sound of Autechre, the
playful digital beat juggling of Plaid, or the melodic rhythms of Boards of
Canada, PBO remain a name on the horizon. If you missed out the first time
'round, here's your chance. Fans of Prefuse 73, Nightmares on Wax, Boom
Bip, or any of the smoked out laptop crews emerging should check this out.

PINBACK "Offcell EP" (Absolutely Kosher) CD $10.99
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Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith return with another satisfying
Pinback release, this time in the form of a five song EP. There's not much
new ground being covered, but that's never really been the point for their
project. Songs don't quite pick up enough steam to really rock out, instead
angular guitars chime around circular bass lines, as air-tight vocal
melodies sit dead center in the mix with nice touches of electronics that
play like ear candy. What results is total indie bliss. The five tracks in
"Offcell" are slightly brighter in both arrangement and production style of
2001's "Blue Screen Life;" I actually like this  30-minute EP better. If
only there were just a few more songs. [GH]

THE VANISHING "Songs for Psychotic Children" (GSL) CD $11.99
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The chimera has revealed herself and there is going to be some fun in the
graveyard tonight. Born from splatter films and a tense mix of Joy
Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and The Cure. The Vanishing
have risen from the charred flesh of The Lies and Subtonix wearing the
darker than dark hair and make-up as if they had just stepped out from a
scene in a German Expressionist movie. Jesse Eva (a.k.a. Jessie Trashed),
Brian Hock, and Sadie Shaw have draped their Death-Disco sound with a
sinister dose of synth and percussion, creating an edge of claustrophobia
that pervades from beginning to end, from foreboding to frightening. I am not
certain if it is meant to be a trick of submission through dominance, but it
is a sensation reminiscent of The Phantom Limbs or even Subtonix. Breathing
new life into the word GOTH with a darkened swathe of post-punk, firmly setting
The Vanishing in step with Glass Candy, Turn Pale, Kill Me Tomorrow, Radio Vago
and The Faint. I pray that the ladies here in NYC will eventually pick-up
on that whole 1920's Louise Brooks thing again but until then all my dreams
will be going toward the lovely Ms. Trashed. [AG]

MAYDAY "I Know Your Trouble's Been Long" (Bar-None) CD $14.99
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This is the newest release from the Saddle Creek Players, which consists of
about 20 or so musicians who shuffle and reconfigure as different bands
such as Cursive, Bright Eyes, and Lullaby For the Working Class... perhaps
you've heard of them. Anyway, Lullaby for the Working Class was Ted
Stephens' (current guitarist for Cursive) and Saddle Creek in house
producer Mike Mogis' Americana project. Although theirs was a definite
Palace and Smog influence pervading throughout LLFTWC's music, what set it
apart were the inventive string and brass arrangements. This is basically a
new Lullaby record. I'm assuming the name change is in effect because Mike
Mogis isn't playing on it. This album is a bit more traditional sounding
then you might expect. Lots of finger-pickin' and the sound is looser and
sparser. Stephens still sings with a pathos tinged world weariness and the
lyrics are still quite good. If you like the new Songs Ohia, or any sort of
neo-Americana music, there's lots to sink your teeth into here. [DH]


STARS "Heart" (Setanta) CD $17.99
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Canada's Stars carry on their "soft revolution" with their newest
long-player, "Heart." With production help from Ian Catt (Saint Etienne,
Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars) and a large cast of
additional musicians, the group continues to move away from their
cosmopolitan brand of pop, but only so slightly while maintaining an
instinctive penchant for sweet pop melancholy. This one was actually kept
under wraps for almost a year while the band dealt with a contractual
dispute (which resulted in finding a new record label), and
while Evan Cranley moonlighted in the equally fantastic Broken Social
Scene. But "Heart" proves to be worth its wait and is full of quiet,
delicate longings that are as dreamy as a warm, outdoor summer nap. At
times, there's a little more edge to the music with a few more guitars
added to the mix, but just as many keyboards shimmer alongside wistful
strains of violins and cello, and wrap around Torquil Campbell and Amy
Millan's lush vocal harmonies. It's wonderfully apparent that Stars have an
affinity for a few decades of Euro-pop -- from '60s baroque inspired
orchestral backing to musical nods to New Order and the Smiths -- but any
of these influences take a back seat to sophisticated, soulful melodies and
beautifully sad songs. [GH]

[V.A.] "Velvet Tinmine" (RPM) CD $18.99
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Here it is folks, your official summer party record for 2003. "The Velvet
Tinmine" is a collection of some of the best one-hit-wonders that never
bothered to hit. Bubblegum isn't even a fair description for
this music. This stuff instantly melts in your mouth. It's more like
musical cotton candy. Some 30 years after the fact, it seems
radically criminal that the 45s churned out by the bands on this
compilation were so commercially and critically unsuccessful.
Highlights include a young Nick Lowe's giddy homage to the Bay
City Rollers (recorded as the Tartan Horde), the Andrew Loog
Oldham produced "Va Va Voom" by Brett Smiley, prepubescent
heartthrob Ricky Wilde's "I Wanna Go To A Disco," and Stavely
Makepeace's anthemic instrumental "Slippery Rock 70s." Who am I
kidding, this whole CD is one big highlight from start to finish. The
couple of tracks that aren't totally brilliant are still so damn fun that
only a major curmudgeon wouldn't enjoy them. Check out the liner
notes for a classic photo of the band IronVirgin (who provide the
opening "Rebels Rule"), their lead singer clad in a leather jumpsuit
and a gigantic codpiece with a "No Entry" sign. I can't recommend
this collection enough. Let's get the party going! [RH]

[V.A.] "Velvet Tinmine Volume 2" (RPM) CD $15.99
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Volume two of the "Velvet Tinmine" series takes its title from a
late-60s children's television program whose theme kicks off the
record. The music on this collection is still sugary and
unquestionably British, but unlike its predecessor it's made up of
songs from TV shows, films, and advertisements. I can't say that it's
as immediately captivating as the earlier set, but there's still some
really, really great music on this one, including Elton John's cover of
"Spirit In The Sky," CCS's instrumental flute-jam version of "Whole
Lotta Love" (used for a time as the theme song on "Top Of The
Pops"), and the Matchmakers' "Thank You Baby" (one of the few
tracks that would have fit just as well on the earlier compilation).
Another album's worth of forgotten treasures that I'm sure will be a
welcome addition to anyone's collection. [RH]]

This week's contributors: Matt Connors [MC], Andy Giles [AG], Daniel Givens
[DG], Gerald Hammill [GH], Rob Hatch-Miller [RH], Kean Holtkamp [KH], Duane
Harriott [DH], Michael Klausman [MK], Nicole Lang [NL], Josh Madell [JM],
and Scott Mou [SM]


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