September 22 , 2005  




José González
Matthew Herbert
Famous When Dead 4 (Various)
Richard Thompson
Jack Nitzsche (Compilation)
Seu Jorge
Kings of House (Various)
Steven R. Smith
American Analog Set
Las Malas Amistades
Richard Hawley
Game and Errancy (Various)


Diamond Nights
Wanda Sa
The Long Blondes
One Self


Vashti Bunyan (LP Reissue)
Venetian Snares

Link Wray

OCT Sun 16 Mon 17 Tues 18 Wed 19 Thurs 20 Fri 21 Sat 22



Sunday, October 16 @ 7:30 P.M.

15 East 4th Street NYC
(212) 477.8150
Free Admission/Limited Capacity







Tender Buttons

"Black Cat"
"Tears in the Typing Pool"

Broadcast keep coming up with new ideas and developing their sound. The most noticeable thing about Tender Buttons is the newfound stripped down feel. The psychedelic '60s orchestration and flourishes are still there but it's tempered to give more room to an overall moodier and colder sound. It's hard to believe, but there seems to be the tiniest bit of a coldwave/electro influence in the vocals and even in the use of the drum machines. Though these qualities tend to sound 'borrowed' by lesser bands, in Broadcast's hands, it's offset by the elaborate/developed/winding melodies in Trish Keenan's vocals. It's almost as if Broadcast kept all their original qualities while mind-melding with Magnetic Fields (check out "Corporeal" and "Michael A Grammar") and ADULT. (without taking on any of the unfashionable qualities of 'electro'.) A really solid album from beginning to end, with new well-placed ideas, makes for one of the best records to come out in a while. [SM]






(Hidden Agenda)

"Slow Moves"

José González, a rising star on the burgeoning Scandinavian-Latino-folk scene (?!), sees a domestic release of his wonderful 2003 debut here. In a world gone folk-crazy, González stands apart with a beautiful and sad sophistication and directness that is lacking in most of the more psychedelic-inspired records the scene has been offering up of late. With fluid and complex acoustic guitar picking and the occasional handclap or percussive thump as his only backing, González sings abstract and evocative lyrics of first love and last rites in an expressive tone that evokes Nick Drake or Cat Stevens' cool sadness more than any modern balladeer, although fans of M. Ward and the like will also be floored by his raw emotion. This is the soundtrack to lonely, late night car trips and restless fall breezes. Simply beautiful. [JM]








Plat du Jour

"These Branded Waters"
"The Truncated Life of a Modern Industrialised Chicken"

For over 10 years, Matthew Herbert (also known as Wishmountain, Doctor Rocket, Vertigo, Transformer and simply Herbert) has been expanding the vocabulary of electronic music in a variety of ways. Initially, he defined himself using an almost industrialist approach to sampling unexpected objects and sound sources, which would then be sculpted into intricate rhythms and melodies. This translated into some of the most texturally interesting house and techno around at the time. 2001 marked a new direction for the producer; a fruitful collaboration with vocalist Dani Siciliano begat the glitchy, jazz-house classic Bodily Functions. As time went on, he continued to work more with musicians and singers, culminating in 2003's Matthew Herbert Big Band album. The record was a rich exploration of big band jazz seamlessly woven with bright electronic stitching.

Around this time he became overtly political. Believing that music can inform as well as entertain, Herbert expressed his dissatisfaction with corporate culture, globalization and the new world order through his use of explicit sound samples and detailed liner notes. (The homepage of his Accidental website has the actual running cost of the war in Iraq displayed on its sidebar).

Now comes his highly-anticipated new album, where he steers away from his more song-oriented material, instead opting for a mostly instrumental record. Plat du Jour is a rich mixture of unrecognizable sounds that are rearranged and melted down into something engaging and ass shaking. While much of the so-called I.D.M. (intelligent dance music) is not necessarily that "intelligent," nor is it something that I would want or could dance to, this album is both. Shards of glass-like sounds roll through big tunnels of space on "Waste Land," while on "These Branded Waters," a meandering wind instrument toddles along as small, crackly sounds run close to the ground. I think this album is a bit more "experimental" than his more recent full-lengths, but he has always tried to push things a bit further with each release.

Plat du Jour is beautifully packaged in a hard cover with vivid watercolor artwork throughout the booklet. Included are detailed readings on the manufacturing and processing of food with extensive book titles and web addresses if you want to read more. [GA]







Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method
(Southern Lord)

"Land of Some Other Order"
"Tethered to the Pole Star"

Dylan Carlson, grand wizard of the low warble and infinite drone, rises from the ashes with Earth's first proper studio album in nine years. Fittingly released on Southern Lord, run by Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson of Sunno))), Hex sees Carlson take a step back from the entrancing, slo-mo Sabbath riffs in favor of a less distorted and bass-heavy, albeit just as slow, hazy desert twang, which is at times reminiscent of former Sub Pop labelmates Codeine. A different kind of trance, Hex paints pictures of spacious, sunbaked Southern landscapes and sweeping sandstorms, instead of murky Northwestern basement locales and the depths of Hades. It's a reinvention which proves that less sludge is more. [AK]






Famous When Dead 4

"Klatta" My My
"Old Song" Max Mohr

Kickin', dark, deep, sexy, German house is what Playhouse keeps givin' us in the Famous When Dead singles compilation series. Past volumes have been more about "darksider" house, but this one has a few more effective moments of full-on party vibe, without losing any of the label's trademark dark funk (included in this category: Spektrum/Tiefschwarz dub, Capt. Comatose, Villalobos rmx'd by 2 Lone Swordsmen, Lindstrom's hit "I Feel Space"). Think of it as good, dark party house or DFA/Output fare with less "rock n' roll" and more "house." Things simmer down to house-y atmospherics with Fabrice Lig's "Meet U in Brooklyn." The masterfully driving "You Know" by Losoul is also included in this volume. Some nice bleepy house is provided by My My and Tejada/Leviste ("Geriatricks" is killer.) Both Isolée and Max Mohr offer some dreamy, late night, melted, A.M. house. You could basically mix all these tracks in order and end up with a good night out. "Party in a box" as they say. Playhouse is still rockin' hard. Excellent. [SM]






Grizzly Man Soundtrack
(Cooking Vinyl)

"Main Title"

Over the course of his career, the legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog has been fortunate to have had numerous soundtracks that were every bit the equal to the masterpieces he placed on screen. Heart of Glass, Nosferatu, Fitzcarraldo--I've spent hours with each, well beyond being simply situated on my couch in front of the TV, and the same is now holding true for his latest film Grizzly Man. He couldn't have found a better collaborator than Richard Thompson for his newest filmmaking endeavor. The score he has produced is every bit as sublime and epic as the Alaskan wilderness in which the movie takes place would demand. There is a haunting loneliness here that Timothy Treadwell, the tragic and charismatic star of the film, would surely have been familiar with while living for months at a time in near solitude in the deep wild. The instrumental score features some of the best Thompson playing I've heard in years. Several of the pieces were co-written with Jim O'Rourke who plays guitar and cello in the band. I ran into him the night after I'd seen the film at the Museum of Natural History and when I asked him about the score that had blown me away during the course of the movie, he said that playing with Richard Thompson for a Herzog soundtrack was one of the greatest moments of his career. Indeed. [MK]







Hearing is Believing
(Ace Import)

"Needles and Pins" Jackie DeShannon
"It Happens Every Time" Tim Buckley

The artist I've listened to the most this year, by far, is Jack Nitzsche. Maybe it stems from my obsession with Performance, the schizophrenic Mick Jagger movie he scored, full of voodoo-blues, Moog dread, and Randy Newman; or maybe the Back to Mono box set, where Jack was Phil Spector's main arranger during the golden years; or perhaps the first Crazy Horse record, where Jack banged keys. Discovering Jack Nitzsche could come from almost any source, be it Neil Young's solo career to Stones songs like "Paint It Black," "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby?," or the majestic "You Can't Always Get What You Want," or the Monkees' amazing "Porpoise Song." He's also heard in the movies, as on the drunken beauty of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to the chilling ambient sounds of The Exorcist, as Jack dabbled in almost every form of music over the course of his career.

It's almost impossible to have a one-disc overview of the man, but Hearing is Believing almost does the trick. It opens with his stunning surf instrumental, "The Lonely Surfer," and hangs ten through a wide and wacky range of artists: from Bobby Darin to Tim Buckley, Doris Day to Buffy Saint-Marie, Little Stevie Wonder to Graham Parker, the Righteous Brothers to the James Gang. All of their singles have a little touch of Jack's madness in 'em, with potent doses of orchestral strings and a beatific nimbus of reverb present throughout. It's hard to pick just one highlight, but hearing Marianne Faithfull's original version of "Sister Morphine" may be the one. And it all wraps up fittingly with the closing theme to Cuckoo's Nest, a grandiose swirl of wineglass shimmers, singing saw, Indian drums, and immense orchestral breadth. A key architect to the last 40 years of popular music and popular film soundtracks, Jack finally gets his belated turn in the spotlight here. [AB]








"Tive Razão (I Was Right)"
"Mania de Peitao (Large Chested Mania)"

Most Americans probably know of Seu Jorge through his memorable role in Wes Anderson's motion picture The Life Aquatic, performing Portuguese renditions of David Bowie songs on his acoustic guitar. He also played Knockout Ned in the stellar 2002 Brazilian drama, City of God. First and foremost, however, Jorge is a gifted singer and songwriter, who discovered music while growing up in the favela (slum) outside of Rio de Janeiro. His new album Cru, which translated into English means "raw," is one of our favorite new records to come out of Brazil, recalling the music of tropicalia masters like Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. But Cru isn't necessarily an album for the purists--Seu adds some light electronic flourishes, hints of funk and even a little bit of rapping to his heartfelt sambas. Among the highlights are the breezy "Tive Razão," with a climbing vocal melody that sounds as if it could have been sung by Jorge Ben, as well as a cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Chatterton," in which Seu delivers a dramatic performance of Yoko Ono proportion, complete with deep guttural gasps, animal shrieks and coughing. [GH]







The Kings of House: Compiled by Masters at Work

"Can You Feel It (Instrumental)" / "It's All Right"
"You Used to Hold Me" / "Promised Land"

Jam after jam, BBE's The Kings of House (selected and mixed by Masters at Work, Kenny Dope and Louie Vega) provides an outstanding introduction to house music. "House music?" you ask skeptically. Yes, absolutely. Not your bullshit Euro-trance Ibiza anthems that have lately defined what most people refer to when saying "house," but real, honest-to-God house music in all of its soulful, gay, black, urban glory. Unrepentant dancefloor jams that are more than simply clubroom fodder. This is the most essential house, the type of music that endures for decades and still works even when taken away from the dancefloor...the stuff that stimulates the mind, despite its facility for making asses shake. If you have been scared of house before, get over it, then get this CD. I promise you won't be scared any more.

Mostly focusing on the '80s and with a few jams from the early- '90s, this mix judiciously covers all of the bases. From the deep vocal smoothness of Sterling Void and Joe Smooth to the acid jack of Tyree and Mr. Lee, the mix offers plenty of diversity and unexpected turns. The heterogenity of sounds and styles is indeed a strength. One might worry that the Masters at Work fellas would focus exclusively only on their New York roots, but this is not at all the case. Sure, there's a ton of classic New York faves, but also a fair share of early seminal masterpieces from Detroit, Chicago, and the UK. The quality of the track selection is superb, featuring many underrated cuts that rarely appear on other house compilations. There are too many highlights to mention, but here are just a few…

Master C&J (Carl Bias and Jessie Jones) have long been overdue in getting proper recognition for their pioneering efforts in the sensual and melancholy Chicago sound. Everyone has heard "Dub Love" a million times, but they have done so much more that's better. Thankfully the dark, velvety "Face it" (one of their most poignant tunes about a relationship breakup) is featured here. I was also delighted to see not only Derrick May's "Strings of Life," but his much more interesting and lesser known gem, "It Is What It Is," a sci-fi groove with tons of Detroit-style grandiose strings and classical embellishments. If that weren't enough, also included is the Blunted Dummies' "House for All," a stripped-down, funky reworking of Bobby Konders' classic, "The Poem," a track that was a personal anthem for me during my "big pants" years in the early-'90s. (Yes, I wore big pants.) In sum, this comp has got it. Sure, I would have liked to have seen some early Murk, Pal Joey, Ron Trent/Chez Damier, Timmy Regisford/Boyd Jarvis, Jesse Saunders included as well, but there's only so much one can fit on two discs. Personally, I think Masters at Work have done a superior job. [EH]






Crown of Marches
(Catsup Plate)

"Crown of Marches"

Renowned for his work with earthy SF outsider collective Thuja, Steven R. Smith's name might still not ring a bell. Crown of Marches is about to change that. But first off, forget what you know, as this is quite a departure from the subtle folkloric soundscapes of Thuja and the Central/Eastern European-influenced solo project Hala Strana.

From the initial Richter scale rumble to the Eastern-tinged melody that closes the piece, Crown of Marches slowly undulates and unfolds, with its foundation in the disparity of the ominous feedback and shimmering guitar lines. The thick, dreamy haze is interspersed with quieter moments of bells, cymbals, keyboards, and timpani, making for a constant ebb and flow of harsh and gentle tones. Crown of Marches exists somewhere in between the subterranean psych rumblings of Bardo Pond and Dead C and the meditative trance of Ashra, but also wholly in its own universe. One of the year's best releases in any genre, and a different kind of drone that I won't be able to completely wrap my head around for quite some time.

As is always the case with Catsup Plate, the CD comes beautifully and uniquely packaged, this time in a black on black silkscreened digipak. Limited edition of 1000 copies. [AK]







Set Free
(Arts & Crafts)

"Cool Kids Keep"
"Sharp Briar"

Set Free picks up from American Analog Set's sparse, mellow beginning while gleaning from the strong songwriting of their fourth album, Know by Heart. Set Free, the sixth full-length, has the warm melodies AmAnSet shares with former labelmates Her Space Holiday and Album Leaf--always a comforting clarion call. I'll always be reminded of pioneering shoe gazers and stomping ground mates Bedhead, though, as no matter how slow or "drone pop" the music gets, a perceptible rhythm is the base for whatever instrumentation makes its appearance (vocals aside).

AmAnSet has been through many incarnations and subtle shifts in sound with, at various times, the absence and aid of vibraphone, keyboard, and harp. Set Free is an outline of the basics, using all three to create an empyrean backdrop to the regular guitar, bass and drums set up. The tempo stays mostly the same, becoming more noticeable on songs like "Green Green Grass," where backward loops cushion lightly strummed guitar chords and the drums steadily click clack down the track, while the vocals pull the melody like a high speed train in slow motion.

Other songs eerily evoke an Elliot Smith spirit, held up by catchy phrasing and memorable harmonies as on "She's Half." There's even a dubby track, "(Theme From) Everything Ends," an instrumental number, complete with melodica. I'd say keep it up, guys, but with songs titles "Everything Ends" and "Fuck This…I'm Leaving," I suspect they've given it their best and last with this one. With a great track record of sincere, heart breaking tunes, I think they're trying to tell us something. [LG]







Jardin Interior

"Por Todos Lados"

It is not necessary to understand the lyrics of Las Malas Amistades to translate the tenderness behind them. Founded in 1994 by a group of art and film students in Bogotá, Colombia, Las Malas Amistades has sought out to make ambiguously fragmented pop, ranging in style, structure and instrumentation. These 18 tracks, most of them under three minutes, bring nothing but delight.

With inspiration taken from tropicalia, Spanish crooning of the '60s and '70s, soundtrack compositions, indie rock, and the ideas learned from the Fluxus artists and the Brazilian Anthropophagist avant-garde, Amistades modestly presents pop minuets quite unique for 2005. These newest recordings were created early this year when all members of the collective reunited in Columbia. [AC]







Coles Corner

"Just Like the Rain"
"Born Under a Bad Sign"

Never mind that he's the touring guitarist for British glam poppers Pulp and a former member of the Longpigs. Richard Hawley's own music hails back to the golden days of radio, when Roy Orbison and Elvis were kings of the airwaves. Coles Corner marks his fourth solo long-player and from the multi-layered electric and acoustic guitars and sweeping string arrangements to, of course, his deep melodic voice, not much has changed from his previous three records. But his formula is timeless and tireless, and one can only hope that each new album will sound as good as the last; Hawley has yet to disappoint. The bittersweet melancholy felt in songs like "Just Like the Rain" doesn't get any more beautiful. Amidst the shimmering guitars and lush production, Hawley's baritone voice recalls another iconic crooner, Scott Walker. Recommended to everyone. [GH]





$13.99 LP


Game & Errancy
(Difficult Fun)

Based on the scant evidence that washes up on these shores, there is some pretty compelling music being made in the UK right now by a handful of bands in the orbit of a label called Difficult Fun. The label's self-appointed "Boad of Dire Rectors" has been doing-it-themselves for a few years, but until recently, their efforts only amounted to a 7" sampler and a brilliant full-length meditation on the future of the NDW from Asja Auf Capri. These releases are permeated by a common aesthetic and ethos--though one that doesn't announce itself under any particular banner. The music is punk rock, in the way that music can be punk without sounding punk. Karl Marx might be involved somehow. But all we really know for certain is that someone over there has a penchant for scribbling things on to index cards and shoving them inside record sleeves.

Thankfully, Difficult Fun's new comp, Game & Errancy, doesn't resolve any of these epistemological dilemmas--it's content to add 10 more excellent cryptograms to the pile. There is plenty of difficult fun to be had here, though some of the other kind is in evidence as well. The first track, "Law of the Plainsmen," by Antifamily, is easily the best on the comp and the best by the band so far. We find Antifamily a bit more polished and propulsive than they were on their four-track debut, and the new sound serves them well. True to the comp's title, play and indeterminacy are still essential. Antifamily have stitched together the discordant scraps (like the odd bits of paper that seem to fall out of every Difficult Fun release) and produced a brilliant, anthematic/anathematic pop song--and they're not ashamed of themselves.

A close runner-up is "Mirrorball," by Petit Mal. Some will say that this smacks of Chris & Cosey, but I prefer to think of them as Captain & Tennille meets Malaria, with lyrics by Robbe-Grillet. Another standout is "Repli/Depli," by Break/Flow--a Sprechstimme that affords us the incongruous pleasure of hearing non-sequiturs like "existential camouflage" and "inner tribunal" spoken over some really excellent funky bass and careening electronic cacophony.

There are a lot of other great tracks here as well. "Uschi," by Mom, sounds like two 13-year-old German girls doing their worst Liliput imitation (in a good way). "Vaw," by Cameron Bain, provides a welcome respite in the form of some really beautiful, meandering Eno/Fripp-style guitar work. The final song, by a Russian band called Star Wars, could be the theme to a post-apocalyptic spaghetti western. I thought that I understood what these guys were up to until I saw their photos on, where they look as though they may have just stepped out of a Bruegel painting.

Don't be misled by the comp's title. Game & Errancy has more hits than misses. My only real complaint is that there is no Asja Auf Capri track. Let's hope that Difficult Fun will capitalize (as it were) on some of its successes here with more full-length albums in the not too distant future. [DB]








"Beau Mot Plage"

Suddenly and without warning, Playhouse has re-released the classic and LONG out-of-print debut album from Isolée, Rest. True-school minimal house fans know that Isolée only recently began to produce more pronounced minimal synth disco-style jams. His original style is much more deep, melted and bubbling. Molten murky sounds and melodic clickhouse beats share space with drugged-out voices either speaking short phrases in French or repeating the words, "Music. Keeps Me. Alive." Even back around '99 when this album first came out, Rajko Muller was already a masterful producer capable of reconfiguring his distinctive sound palette into myriad shapes. Every song is deep and murky with that distinctive, almost tropical 'wetness' in the production that conjures images of condensation glistening on palm leaves. "Beau Mot Plage" may be his signature jam and (his new album) may be killer, but it's Muller's entire late-'90s output that got his foot in the house producer Hall of Fame. Excellent album that still holds up and outshines the competition. [SM]








"Destination Diamonds"
"Saturday Fantastic"

If you thought the Darkness rocked, then NYC's Diamond Nights will be your new favorite band. OK, so they aren't clad in spandex, but they've got the long locks, killer chops and songs that would sound rad blasting out of your uncle's '84 Camaro. If this really were the '80s, they would be the guys with the AC/DC and Judas Priest logos painted on the backs of their denim jackets who would try to mess up your Flock of Seagulls haircut when they passed by you in the school cafeteria. As far as I'm concerned, album opener "Destination Diamonds" is 2005's air guitar anthem, with power chords that haven't sounded this great since Thin Lizzy's "Boys Are Back in Town." [GH]







Wanda Vagamente

"Mar Azul"
"Vivo Sunhando"

A dreamy album that topped the charts upon its original release in 1964, this re-mastered reissue of Wanda Sa's lovely debut has been getting quite a lot of play on our store's stereo as of recent. Featuring compositions from Jobim and Edu Lobo, Wanda Vagamente showcases the gorgeous, delicate vocals of this Brazilian chanteuse (who would later join Sergio Mendes' Brazil '65). This album is an absolute must for fans of the classic bossa nova and tropicalia sound. [JO]







The Long Blondes EP
(What's Your Rupture)

Last weekend I was watching Don Letts' new documentary, Punk: An Attitude, and I couldn't help but notice how similar the recent '80s revival mirrors the original rise and fall of punk. Now that the media has caught on and bands like the Bravery make it into heavy rotation on MTV by copping Duran Duran, it feels like we've come full circle. In many ways, 2005 seems to parallel 1984, the year when new wave reached its blandest heights before disappearing into cut-out bin obscurity, with last hurrahs from artists like the Thompson Twins and Howard Jones. So along comes this Sheffield, UK band who are as retro as it gets, but in this case, it's a breath of fresh air. I wouldn't be surprised if these three ladies and two lads recorded these songs in quick, one-take sessions, but the results are perfectly raw and catchy. The angular "Autonomy Boy" and "Giddy Stratospheres" borrow cues from early girl indie pop a la Kleenex or the Raincoats, and feature a vocalist who sounds like a cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Julz from Delta 5, while "Darts," with its wiry guitar and call-and-response chorus, could be on Elastica's first demo tape. Any of the EP's four tracks would be perfectly at home on that recent GRLZ compilation, yet the Long Blondes have their own thing going on too. Proof that imitation in its purest, most earnest form can be more than flattery, and if you've got the songs and the heart, it can take on a life of its own. [GH]







Children of Possibility
(Ninja Tune)

"Fear the Labour"
"Over Expose"

Fresh from Ninja Tune comes One Self, a new group project produced by DJ Vadim. Children of Possibility is a welcome return to the male/female, rapper/singer hip-hop formula, and the best thing Vadim has done in a while. The vocals of Swedish-Brazilian Yarah Bravo and American Blu Rum 13 add a consistent thread throughout, giving each other and Vadim the space to do what they do--not to mention the doubling over, cutting each other off, and blending things together in a skillfully energetic and soulful way. Vadim makes the bass bins shake with a tight mixture of punchy hip-hop beats, digital dub effects, and slight Middle Eastern overtones and strings. Think golden-era De La Soul, Digable Planets, Mos Def and Attica Blues--freaked for the fifth year of the new century. Independent for sure, but with more than a healthy nod to the mainstream, all the while maintaining an original style and sound. The positive, inventive lyricism and beats are up there with America's finest, maybe better. If you're into Foreign Exchange, think Black Eyed Peas are wack, and miss Attica Blues, then you need this. [DG]








Just Another Diamond Day

Vashti Bunyan's essential British folk classic Just a Diamond Day is finally reissued in LP format. This once-forgotten record has recently become a landmark with artists from Joanna Newsom to Devendra Banhart all hailing her gorgeous lone masterpiece, as well as Animal Collective's recent collaboration with the elusive singer. LP reissue comes with a bonus 7" featuring four additional tracks. Look for a brand new album from Vashti to be released next month, her first album since Just a Diamond Day was released 35 years ago!








(Planet Mu)


The prolific Aaron Funk (a/k/a Venetian Snares) is back with a brutal heavy-hitter. Meathole is a return to the Canadian electronic music producer's dark, claustrophobic approach of earlier releases like Find Candace. Not for the faint of heart, with pummeling beats and schizophrenic time signatures driving the brooding atmospherics.








Yhä Hämärää

"Valo Tihkuu Kaiken Läpi"
"Ilmaa Virtaa'"

The first time I heard this playing in the store I assumed that this was some Japanese band inspired by the so-called New Weird America scene. New Weird Nippon…? Far from. Paavoharju hail from Finland and frolic in the same forest as Kemialliset Ystävät, Islaja and Lau Nau. Yhä Hämärää was recorded between 2001 and 2005, and is filled with many of the similar wispy, psychedelic-hued tones that swirl in their Finnish friends' music, but their debut album also exists on a dreamier plane.

The second track, "Valo Tihkuu Kaiken Läpi," is what made me think Paavoharju were of Asian origin. It's the kind of song which you could hear in your dreams; the lilting, operatic vocal reminds me of the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser; the voice seems to float out of a tiny AM radio speaker, singing an exotic age-old melody borne from the Far East. The simple strum of an acoustic guitar is the only thing that anchors this song to earth, as fragile skitters and light bedroom electronics are filtered through a lysergic funnel, transporting you to some lovely etherworld.

Paavoharju's record is every bit as mesmerizing as Fursaxa's most recent album, only the Finnish collective's drones move in many more directions, occasionally tempered by little bits of psych-pop. Individual notes of acoustic instruments, primarily piano and guitar, often echo and resonate until the frequencies turn into an almost unrecognizable wash of tones that mingle with the electronics, and eventually become one. Coupled with the operatic melodies, at times I imagine that I'm hearing Animal Collective and Iceland's Mum together, reinterpreting the music to Madame Butterfly. Yhä Hämärää is pretty indescribable, but nothing less than stunning. One of my favorite records released this year. [GH]







Wray's Three Track Shack
(Arcadia Import)

"Fallin' Rain"
"Canyon Girl"

Wray's Three-Track Shack chronicles the phenomenal, yet not widely-known, early-1970s output of living rock and roll legend Link Wray. Famous the world over for his ferocious instrumental hits from the 1950s, including "Rumble" and "Rawhide," Wray recorded sporadically throughout the 1960s before reaching his creative pinnacle with a series of albums produced in a makeshift three-track recording studio, located in the chicken coop on his family's farm in Maryland. This two-disc set is made up of Wray's complete chicken coop recordings, which include his eponymous 1971 release, the UK only Beans And Fatback--released in 1973 but recorded simultaneously with the earlier record--and another release from 1971, featuring pianist Bobby Howard singing Wray's songs under the pseudonym Mordicai Jones.

This is some of the most exhilarating and authentic American roots rock that you will ever hear. If you're a fan of the Band, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Neil Young, or any of the Stones' albums from around the same time period, specifically Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile On Main St., then prepare to have your mind completely blown. Wray's hits are great and all, but they don't even compare to anything on these three records. His voice is spellbinding, sometimes managing to sound like Van Morrison, Charlie Feathers, and Captain Beefheart all at once. Howard is aptly described in the liner notes as a "more conventional" singer, but he sounds especially gorgeous and majestic on the single "Walkin' in the Arizona Sun." Every song on Wray's Three-Track Shack is amazing, from scorching boogie rock burners to heartbreaking ballads steeped in country, gospel, and delta blues. Unless you already know and love these records, you're not going to believe how good this is. [RH]




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[GA] Geoff Albores
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