March 24, 2004  




Iron & Wine
Lizzy Mercier Descloux (2 reissues)
Joanna Newsom
Hu Vibrational



Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Triple R
Broken Social Scene (B-sides)
MF Doom (Special Herbs 5 & 6)

MAR Sun 28 Mon 29 Tues 30 Wed 31 Thurs 01 Fri 02 Sat 03

Patrick Pulsinger

Other Music in Conjuntion with the Repellant Festival & the Austrian Cultural Forum Presents:

Patrick Pulsinger (Cheap Records)
Umberto Gollini (Cheap Records)
Scott Mou (DJ Casio/Other Music)

APT: 419 W. 13th Street NY, NY
Tuesday, March 30
9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
(Featuring Don Q Rum bar from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

MAR Sun 28 Mon 29 Tues 30 Wed 31 Thurs 01 Fri 02 Sat 03




: 107 Norfolk St.
New York, NY
Sunday, March 28 - 8:00 p.m.

Other Music is giving away one pair of tickets for Tape's upcoming New York City show at Tonic. Enter by e-mailing:
Winners will be notified via e-mail on Friday afternoon, March 26.







$13.99 LP


Our Endless Numbered Days
(Sub Pop)

"Naked As We Came"
"Sodom, South Georgia

In Jim Jaramusch's film "Down By Law," Roberto Benigni says to Tom Waits, "It's a sad and beautiful world..." When he says that, he is just practicing his English, but despite his naiveté, this statement resonates. As the title suggests, "Our Endless Numbered Days" shares this sentiment. Ruminations on mortality, birth and death are set against Sam Beam's now signature sturdy folk. This album is slightly different in that its plush production, though gentle, stands out after the bare bone recordings of Beam's debut "Creek Drank the Cradle" and "Sea and the Rhythm". There is the addition of percussion, piano and also a focused attention to vocal arrangements, deeper harmonies (with the help of sister, Sarah) and chanting loops.

The glory of Iron and Wine, or shall I say, Beam's style is his vivid imagery and achingly emotive tale telling. Tale singing? His finger plucking and the warm tones of his guitar playing reminded me more than once of Duncan Browne's self-titled album. The two have similar approaches to their craft, creating whole worlds and fleshing out moments so thoroughly, one can see the memories in the song. When listening, it is impossible not to visualize these tiny details he speaks of -- a bucket in the yard filled with snow, a crack in the door -- and recognize them, like you have passed by them over and over again in your own old southern home.

There is a strong theme of death throughout and songs such as "Naked As We Came" and "Sodom, South Georgia" deal with leaving a spouse behind, ("One of us will die inside these arms/Eyes wide open/One will spread our ashes 'round the yard") and losing a father. Hell, even the barn burns down. Again, these are all details of lives, of life, both sad and beautiful. It is a joy to listen to. [NL]







(Stones Throw)

"Fancy Clown"
"All Caps"

No need for an introduction, and I don't have to explain, this record is as good, if not better than you'd expect or could have wished for. Two great tastemakers that taste great together, Madvillian is the stoned love child from Madlib and MF Doom, two of the most prolific voices and producers in hip-hop today, and "Madvillainy" is their alter-destiny epic. Bringing together all of their individual trademark stylings from Saturday morning cartoons, b-movie montages, Steve Reich and Sun Ra samples, everything seems intact and on point. Imagine if "Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man character come to life" (thanks DH); this would be his soundtrack blasting from the boombox held tightly within his grip. It gets no better. Madlib brings his Yesterday's New Quintet along for some post "Shades of Blue" soul/jazz moments, Quasimoto returns as Lord Quas, and Doom flips it as fluidly as ever. For real, super surreal and super good. [DG]









Press Color


Mambo Nassau

"Room Mate"

The recently resurrected ZE brings us two fantastic first time reissues. A year after moving to New York (where she took up residence in an empty Soho loft with Patti Smith and ZE Records co-founder Michel Esteban) and recording the jittery Rosa Yemen EP, French transplant Lizzy Mercier Descloux released her first solo album in 1979. With its fusion of funk, disco, film music inspiration and small doses of nervous no wave energy, "Press Color" is a defining LP from a very fertile era of NYC music. Recorded with an all-star line-up that included Rosa Yemen's DJ Banes and Eric Elliason of the French band Marie & les Garcons, the album also features two of mutant disco's signature songs. Kicking off with the disco-fried cover of Arthur Brown's "Fire" (remixed by Savarese), Descloux's detached French inflected voice is sexy-cool and carried by funky bass climbs and a bouncy rhythm section - it's one of the best dance tracks to come out of late-'70s New York. The string bean guitar lead melodies and clunk-funk bass of "Wawa" is a precursor to ESG's influential art-punk-disco minimalism. Throughout "Press Color," any of Descloux's wiry, avant aesthetic is frequently offset by an adventurous sense of fun and humor. A cover of "Fever" would be almost by the book had Descloux not exchanged the word "fever" with "tumour," and there are also covers of "Mission Impossible" and "Jim on the Move." This re-issue comes with a great selection of bonus tracks including Rosa Yemen's six-song EP (which features the no wave classic "Herpes Simplex") and the abstract "Morning High," a 1995 duet with Patti Smith recorded with Bill Laswell.

During the European tour for "Press Color," the seeds for her 1980 follow-up "Mambo Nassau" were planted. Descloux had taken a keen interest in traditional music from all over the world via her discovery of France's Ocora label, and she began writing material that would fuse African roots music with avant-funk, and strange soundtrack arrangements, all topped off by her elastic-voiced melodies and off-kilter vocal bursts. Collaborating with drummer Bill Perry, Island Records' Chris Blackwell enabled the duo to fly to the company's Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas where they would record with Walli Badarou, a session player best known for his work with Sly and Robbie and future collaborations with the Talking Heads, as well as producer Steve Stanley (Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club, Third World). What resulted was an impressively ambitious and successful merging of diverse rhythms and instrumentation amidst breezy, abstract melodies and flexible funk. "Mambo Nassau" one-upped the primitivism of the Slit's "Cut" and, with a mix of traditional Island and African music as well as modern dance music (check out the cover of Kool and the Gang's "Funky Stuff"), paved the way for future world-inspired records from artists like the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club as well as the Raincoats' epitaph "Moving." This re-issue also features five bonus cuts including four tracks from a 1982 Paris session and a 1995 recorded cover of Bob Marley's "Sun is Shining." [GH]







The Milk-Eyed Mender
(Drag City)

"Peach, Plum, Pear"

Joanna Newsom's child-like soprano voice will undoubtedly be too precious and fey for some listeners to handle, which is a shame because a record as captivating, magical, and endlessly fascinating as "The Milk-Eyed Mender" comes around far too rarely. The album's intimacy and simplicity are immediately reminiscent of Vashti Bunyan's masterpiece "Just Another Diamond Day," which is just about the greatest compliment I can come up with. At age 22, Ms. Newsom -- who accompanies herself primarily on the harp, and occasionally on piano or harpsichord -- has already proven herself as a talented and completely unique songwriter. Her sense of melody is impeccable, and her playful, literate verse calls to mind nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and Lewis Carroll.

Joanna Newsom is so much more sophisticated than the average indie singer-songwriter that it seems almost unfair to put her in the same category as many of her contemporaries. Devendra Banhart and Chan "Cat Power" Marshall are in the same league, but it would be just as appropriate to consider her alongside such '60s psychedelic folk luminaries as Donovan and Duncan Browne. I know I'm gushing, but the record is really that good. I haven't been able to go a day without listening to it since it was first played in the store. Don't miss out on this astonishing and beautiful debut, "The Milk-Eyed Mender" is one of the first truly outstanding records of 2004. [RH]







(Soul Jazz)

"Joyful Road"

Hu Vibrational first appeared with an EP released on Scott Herren's Eastern Development label, and for their second outing they jump over to Soul Jazz and have expanded their lineup. Based around the superb percussion duo of Adam Rudolph and Hamid Drake, both have collectively worked with tons of musicians, namely Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell… the list goes on. This gives you a setting for the mindset they come from -- spirit is key, grooves are effortless and free flowing, and as the title suggests, quite "Beautiful." The now expanded line-up includes additions from the cream of California's electric-acoustic hip-hop scene: Carlos Nino (Ammon Contact) as co-arranger, mixer, and producer, along with Daedelus as guitarist and co-mixer. This rhythmic music created with such a light yet positive embrace soothes the soul while keeping the toes tapping. A welcomed new addition to the soul jazz roster of great reissue material, "Beautiful" is recommended for the forthcoming warm weather. Splendid. [DG]







Bi-conicals of the Rammellzee

"The Rammellzee Vs. K Dash Rob: Beat Bop Pt. 2"

During an epoch when graffiti literally embodied movement -- as those who frequented tunnel-transport or stood onlooker to the cars on bridges experienced wild style shapes and colors flashing… thrilling… ultimately dissipating; during an era when block parties were craze and b-boys + b-girls rocked fresh, a unique MC was delivering his eminent style loud and true, while simultaneously championing the crown of cutting edge graffiti only to later become a Style Wars hero. And now in our reality of 2004, this battle warrior descends onto us once more, reinvented through a wrinkle in time, manifested with a neoteric spirit and intensity. Followers of Kool Keith, Basquiat, Phase 2, Skinny Puppy, Bill Laswell and Surrealism tune in: This is the new language, the new equation: representing the coalescence of movement and futurism to perhaps form the genre… dare I say… crypt-hop? Or perhaps in the style of Ripcord Rex: rip-hop? Let The Ramm:Ell:Zee drop science to prelude your Gothic Future…. Featuring K-Rob and Shockdell. Production work by Stuart Argabright and Death Comet Crew. [MT]







$14.99 LP


Sings Greatest Palace Music
(Drag City)

"New Partner"
"Agnes, Queen of Sorrow"

Unless you simply don't care for Will Oldham's whole thing, you must admit that the concept behind this new record is intriguing. Oldham, an indie-rock iconoclast if there ever was one, has put his country singer-songwriter status to the acid test: he assembled a band of top-notch Nashville studio musicians (including legendary pianist Hargus Robbins, who has worked with George Jones, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and many, many more), and did a classic greatest-hits redux package. Fans voted for their favorite tracks of the Palace years, and Oldham made straight country versions of his quirky, off-kilter classics. Firmly in the tradition of his country music forebears, this second chance at the hits of your own past (or of an influential hero, if you take the concept of the Bonnie Prince covering Palace Music at face value) is an age-old move in the genre, as aging artists try to reclaim chart position or drifting fans. And while fans of Oldham's surely love his quavering and cracking vocal delivery and seemingly spontaneous studio productions at least as much as they do his haunting songwriting, he has stepped out of his element and seemingly tried to mainstream his songs, with sometimes exhilarating, yet ultimately mixed results.

There are two ways to look at the changes wrought on the Palace catalog; the Oldham Optimist will be thrilled by what has been added to these stark compositions. Lovely pedal steel, tinkling piano, soaring fiddle and mandolin, and vocal harmonies the like the Bonnie Prince has never heard. The musicians are subtle and experienced, and their gentle re-workings of these simple tunes can often shed new light on what may have originally appeared as an intensely personal wail. The Palace Pessimist, however, is bound to be disappointed by what's been taken away; it's harder to quantify, but I think the loss can be summed up in a word: passion. There are many high points within the 15 tracks, but many also suffer from a mysterious lack of emotion. And the main culprit may be Oldham himself. Perhaps in an attempt to fit in with the level, measured tone of the new arrangements, his vocals often seem almost an afterthought. He has wiped his delivery clean of the warble for which he is known, but there is not much here to replace it. He simply doesn't have the depth of voice to deliver passionate straight versions of his songs; just listen to the duets for crystal illumination of this fact. When Marty Slayton, a stunning Dolly Parton sound-alike, takes the her chorus on "Agnes, Queen of Sorrow", Oldham's flat delivery is left in the cold, as her warm and emotional soprano takes center stage. Although there are highlights throughout, the overall album seems both slick and dull, and I'm left wondering if any of the musicians involved, Oldham included, felt much connection to the songs or these versions.

For a record containing no new material performed by musicians for hire, this is nonetheless a remarkably ambitious album by a vital and important artist. And it is also an important album in the Oldham discography, and one that I think any longtime fan needs to spend some time with, and which will likely provide many hours of interest. But in many ways I feel that the Bonnie Prince has missed the point of his own experiment, or maybe just failed. I'm far from certain that Oldham really put his best foot forward here…I'm sure he is far more calculating that I give him credit for, but he seems just a bit out of his element here, and uninspired by the challenge that he gave himself. I took this to be a well-earned shot by Oldham to answer an age-old what-if: what-if the prince was a pauper and the pauper a prince? What if a left-field artist like Will Oldham had taken a different route and sold his classic rooted songs to a mainstream palate instead of willfully courting the fringe? If this were meant as an answer, I'd like to posit a different question: Is Will just messing with us again? As usual, he raises more questions than answers, and perhaps that's the point after all. [JM]







Selection 2

"Pleitte" Pleitte
"Reflections" "Matthias Rahn

Trapez is known for their long, often full-sided deep techno house groovers. Not as much techno/house as techno-with-house. These are smart, minimal club tracks with that classic "track" quality, tracks you can ride forever till the end, or use as transitions within a mix. Maybe that's why the beginning of the first half of this mix, though well mixed, has a bit of that "warm-up" quality. Each track explores a different theme from the track preceding it. A deep driving, slightly epic track like Dialogue's "Boulevard" will mix into Akufen's cutup, bouncing funk ("Psychometry 2.1")

Things kick into gear at Track 5 with Rheinhold/Barnes' "Count", and really get running by track 8 (Oliver Hacke's "Vampir Von Dusseldorf"). This is almost like Rheinhold's version of a "club mix" in comparison to his "Friends" mix. It's still deep, melodic and poppy, but it's more driving (without ever getting nearly as hard as Mayer's "Speicher" mix) with only a few vocal bits here and there to accent the beat.

During tracks 8 through 15 is where Triple R shines. This is where he laces the melodies and beat textures from one track to the next and achieves that "floating" quality in his mix. Standout tracks from Oliver Hacke, M. Rahn, M.I.A. and Sarah Goldfarb. [SM]







Bee Hives
(Arts & Crafts)

"Ambulance for the Ambiance"
"Lover's Split"

Like Broken Social Scene's first album "Feel Good Lost", "Bee Hives" is calm and most of the time ethereal reflecting the group's more quiet explorations. Not a must-have for the casual fan only acquainted with "You Forgot It in People," there is still a sense of continuity throughout this collection of b-sides, some dating back to earliest incarnation of the band, as well as a few new tracks. Most songs are instrumental, stretched out with long, shimmering drones occasionally offset against minimal playful skitters - the pastoral bedroom electronics of "Ambulance for the Ambiance" could easily pass as a Mum outtake. Without breaking the quiet melancholy, a few of the tracks are a little more formed; "Lover's Split" is a brooding, piano driven song with a beautifully somber vocal melody. Though not a proper album, anyone who loved Broken Social Scene's recently re-issued "Feel Good Lost" will definitely enjoy the subtle ambience of "Bee Hives." [GH]







Special Herbs Volumes 5 & 6
(Metal Face/Nature Sounds)

"Dragon's Blood"

Release number two this week from the man behind the iron mask, MF Doom gathers together his latest batch of tasty instrumental tracks for his latest installment of "Special Herbs." He starts Volume 5 and 6 off with a tropical flute and female vocal "ohhhh" loop that's simple and beautiful entitled "Pennyroyal." Doom's ear for loops is unmatched; he pulls from an ever-expanding crate of soul, jazz, lounge, rock, and disco. Unlike the others in the series, this one seems to foreshadow upcoming vocal versions, while before they were collected after his vocal version had been released. This one is a treat in that respect. Also includes a video, live performances, and photos giving you glimpse hip-hop's main man of mystery. [DG]









3:16 - The 9th Edition
(Def Jux)

"The Animal"

The second full-length from Murs on Def Jux is his best yet, featuring production from Little Brother's 9th Wonder. (Full review next week.)



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[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[RH] Rob Hatch-Miller
[NL] Nicole Lang
[JM] Josh Madell
[SM] Scott Mou
[MT] Mahssa Taghinia

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