February 9, 2006  




Sibylle Baier
Psychic Ills
J Dilla (Jay Dee)
Mike Westbrook
Aceyalone & RJD2
Belle and Sebastian
Charlie & Esdor
Bill Withers
Bettye Lavette
Prefuse 73
Studio One Soul Volume 2


Sound Dimension
Oakley Hall
Golden Afrique Volume 1
Ethiopiques 21
Jason Collett

Geraldo Pino


FEB Sun 12 Mon 13 Tues 14 Wed 15 Thurs 16 Fri 17 Sat 18


Win tickets to this exclusive NYC appearance by DJ Cam with special guests Grand National! Giant Step is also going to throw in a signed DJ Cam CD and a Grand National tee-shirt! To enter, e-mail tickets@othermusic.com, and please leave a daytime phone number where you can be reached. The winner will be notified on Monday, February 13th.

HIRO BALLROOM: 316 W. 16th St. NYC
Wednesday, February 15th

FEB Sun 12 Mon 13 Tues 14 Wed 15 Thurs 16 Fri 17 Sat 18


Arthur and Sound Collector present a diverse bill of music at NYC's Knitting Factory next Thursday, featuring Nethers, the Like and Blood Feathers. Other Music has three pairs of tickets to give away! To enter, e-mail contest@othermusic.com, and make sure to leave your daytime phone number. The winners will be notified Monday, February 13th.

Thursday, February 16th

FEB Sun 19 Mon 20 Tues 21 Wed 22 Thurs 23 Fri 24 Sat 25




We'll dim the lights for this special acoustic performance from Chicago's Town and Country, in support of their new album, Up Above.
Monday, February 20th @ 8:00 P.M.

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








Colour Green
(Orange Twin)

"Says Elliott"

This CD is going to resonate hugely for a lot of people. Very rarely, within moments of hearing a record, do you simply know that it will be with you for a long time. I think I can state unequivocally that people will be holding Sibylle Baier's Colour Green near and dear to their hearts long after they've consigned this year's scores of over-hyped albums to the local record shop's 99 cent bin. Generally, I find it distasteful to bandy about comparisons to the likes of Vashti Bunyan or Nick Drake because you're almost inevitably setting the consumer and listener up for, at the very least, slight disappointment. However, if any album I've reviewed over the last five years deserves to rest in such rarified company, then this is surely the one. Ms. Baier apparently wrote these songs subsequent to a "particularly dark and moody" period of her life in the early-'70s. A close friend coaxed her on a road trip across the Alps and the journey gratefully rejuvenated her spirits. Upon returning home to Germany she began recording delicate little songs in her bedroom on a reel to reel tape machine which no one but her close friends and family have ever heard till now. Diacritic, and filled with day to day observation and experience, these compact little gems are utterly timeless and instantly familiar. If the liner notes hadn't told me they were recorded between 1970 and '73, I'd have thought they could have been made last week. Mark my words, a cult-like devotion is going to grow up around this work of Sybille Baier's and with good reason. [MK]







(Social Registry)

"January Rain"
"Another Day Another Night"

Kings and queen of the reverb, Psychic Ills finally deliver their first full-length. Seriously, they've single handedly kick-started a drone-rock revival in my stereo, and while half-baked comparisons to Spacemen 3 and Loop may be inevitable, this NYC quartet are on their own trip. Songs like "Electric Life" and "January Rain" are trance-inducing as they glide on a lysergic groove, with guitars and vocals swirling in tremolo and liquid production, while "Another Day Another Night" conjures shades of the Velvet Underground's "Rock and Roll," but way more psychedelic than Lou and company ever were. Throw in a few poly-rhythmic improvisations, complete with raga-like percussion and ghostly feedback, and you've got a stoned opus that'll take you higher than Dead Meadow's fantastic Feathers album from last year. The perfect prescription indeed! [GH]







(Stones Throw)

"Anti-American graffiti"

To call Donuts a mere instrumental hip-hop affair is too simple and somewhat restraining. Okay...a superdope beat tape is almost there, one that does beckon the already allegiant Dilla-devotee and cult collector fiend. But it still makes for a rather chaste tag. How about a trans-soul frequency tune-in to near 40 minutes of gorgeous, wavering moody croons and melds that have been quarried from the depths of a dusty crate, then musingly handicrafted into a bent-beat pallet of hyperfunked, tweaked and freaked boom bap, cut-in robotic rhymes oiled into lush-tronic thumps 'n' flows with honey-sweet psychedelic soul in orbit looped into a euphoric never-never--narrated direct from the innovatory and inspired spirit of producer-emcee Jay Dee.

Dilla's native Detroit soil boasts a kind of alchemical magic derived out of the city's infamous gritty industrial barren, a town that is home to unique peers such as artists/producers Theo Parrish and Moodymann--artists in direct lineage to the techno-rebel pioneers that sonically painted Detroit's electronic terrain. Dilla's flushed and soulful electronic amalgams are no doubt an assimilation of the aura of his home grounds, yet unmistakably his own throughout Donuts, and felt through his previous work with artists such as Amp Fiddler and Steve Spacek. With a deep-seated and continuous résumé that also includes production and collaboration work with Slum Village, Common, A Tribe Called Quest, and Madlib (as Jaylib) amongst countless others, Jay Dee (a/k/a J Dilla) forges further into ingenious deep-space with a Stones Throw-delivered solo-opus wonder: a truly standout, visionary offering with something slightly fragile implicit in the handiwork, as this creation had its (part) calling upon a hospital bed where the producer spent a given while under ill ailment. Dusky and dissonant soul seeps within the album's brilliantly spontaneous feel of movement, in wayward yet harmonious pace alongside its body-movin' freakish bounce. Stasis achieved through creative healing? Perhaps. A gem already-classic conceived by one of hip-hop's most talented artists? Definitely. [MT]









Seemingly coming out of nowhere, James Blackshaw has made the first truly interesting new release I've heard this year. This limited edition mini-album begins with an incredible twenty-six-and-a-half minute long title track that absolutely shattered my expectations. Thinking this would be yet another Jack Rose-style festival of Fahey-isms, I was completely surprised by the song's impeccably layered instruments and by its slowly building intensity. Aside from the fact that both of these fellows play acoustic guitars and are extremely talented, there aren't really any comparisons to be made between the two. Sunshrine opens with two minutes of bells before open-tuned six and 12 string guitars come in. Later they're joined--or overtaken--by the sounds of bowed cymbals, glockenspiel, harmonium, and organ. The much shorter second track "Sylark Herald's Dawn" is a simple and melodic solo guitar recording. If Mr. Blackshaw's forthcoming full-length is anywhere near this beautiful, I think we'll be hearing a lot of chatter about this 24 year-old musician from the UK in the coming months. [RH]







Love Songs

"Love Song No. 1"
"Original Peter"

I've been waiting forever for this lost classic of innovative British jazz to finally be reissued on CD. Mike Westbrook is a self-taught pianist and composer who formed his first group in the late-'50s. The following decade saw him develop as a composer, as he assimilated his early influences--namely Mingus, Monk, and Ellington--into a wholly original and idiosyncratic style whose compositional genius probably reached its apotheosis with the album Love Songs, recorded in 1970. It was the final work in a series of albums he produced for the UK's Deram records with his quasi big band, the Mike Westbrook Concert Band, whose roster included many of Britain's most creative instrumentalists, folks like Mike Osbourne, Harry Miller, Chris Spedding, and Paul Rutherford, as well as the gorgeous, yet largely wordless, vocals of Norma Winstone. Love Songs is quite unlike any other jazz album I can think of, the melodic themes are somewhat sentimental and yet at the same time it flirts with certain aspects of rock. The record has a propulsive grooviness to it, and for that reason it has long been a highly coveted item among beatheads. Nearly every melody Westbrook wrote for Love Songs has a slyly insinuating habit of pleasantly burrowing into my brain, and he strikes the perfect balance between challenging ambitiousness and populist abandon. This is one of those rare jazz albums which easily appeals to people who don't often buy jazz albums. Perfect. [MK]







$14.99 LP

Magnificent City
(Decon/Project Blowed)

"All for U"

A former MC in the now legendary Freestyle Fellowship collective, Aceyalone's last full-length, Love & Hate, featured three RJD2-produced cuts. Fast forward a few years, and the L.A. rapper has enlisted the Philly producer once again, this time for a whole album's worth of tracks. Released on Aceyalone's Project Blowed label, RJD2's soulful loops are warm, rich and subtly tweaked, and at times he even branches out from his trademark production style. It's all a welcoming musical bed for the deep and easy lyrical style of Aceyalone. An underground version of the Kayne West and Common collab? Hmmm…kinda. Equal parts tight production, catchy hooks, up-tempo beats, freaky electronics, and soul cut-ups (and a few party jams), Aceyalone and RJD2 both sound in top form here. This just might be the first backpacker classic of '06. [DG]









Limited Edition CD w/DVD


The Life Pursuit

"White Collar Boy"
"Funny Little Frog"

Let me start by informing you, sheltered reader, that there is a minor scandal raging over the new Belle and Sebastian record, The Life Pursuit. While the album has stormed the UK charts and received high praise from such diverse tastemakers as Pitchfork and the NY Times, the word on the street is a bit more reserved, or maybe enraged would be a more appropriate term. Belle and Sebastian have always engendered deep passions in their fans and foes. The fact that they began, quite literally, as a school project from a loose conglomerate of fey Glaswegian pop fans, before rocketing to international fame with their sophomore release, has always allowed the band to walk gracefully with one foot on the red carpet and one in the basement, somehow pulling off top-notch songwriting, production and remarkable musicianship without ever losing their huge cred as heroes to every lonely, sad bedroom pop fan. But they seem to be throwing some longtime fans for a loop with this one.

So what is the big deal? Well, for one, the band seem to be having a bit of fun for a change here...there are elements of T. Rex glam added into their patented '60s orchestrated jangle, a bit more swagger than we are used to, as on the percussive, swinging "The White Collar Boy" or "The Blues are Still Blue." But the core of the record is classic B&S, with Stuart Murdoch telling of the tiny details of life and love with seemingly effortless precision, as in the wonderful "Another Sunny Day." The story begins with the thrill of infatuation: "Another sunny day, I met you in the garden. You were digging plants, I dug you, beg your pardon. I took a photograph of you in the herbaceous border. It broke the heart of men and flowers and girls and trees." But it ends with loneliness: "The lovin' is a mess what happened to all of the feeling? I thought it was for real, babies, rings and fools kneeling. And words of pledging trust and lifetimes stretching forever. So what went wrong? It was a lie, it crumbled apart. Ghost figures of past, present, future haunting the heart." As usual, devastating private tales of beauty and loss are told over a simple driving groove and lovely production flourishes.

I've heard The Life Pursuit called, emphatically, both the best and the worst album of their career. I think you could believe either one and still keep this in heavy rotation for months, as Belle and Sebastian's cast-offs are often better than many groups' finest flowers. And trust me, the kids railing the loudest against this one will no doubt be giving it ample play nonetheless. It is a deep and beautiful pop album, all the better for taking a few chances. [JM]

Limited Edition CD comes with a hardcover booklet and a bonus DVD.







Charlie & Esdor

"Da Klagar Mina Grannar"
"F**k the Cops"

1970 was a fertile era in psychedelic Sweden, and Charlie och Esdor were amongst the hippie-spirited harbingers that included Trad Gras och Stenar, Bo Hansson, and Mecki Mark Men. This short-lived sitar-n-guitar duo (with the accompanying backbeat) was one of the more diverse and distinct artists of the time, with mind-melding raga-easternisms burning into heavy-rock bliss, plat with enough acid-volk hallucinogens to last you an endless Midsommar. This re-ish collection of their work, complete with photos and liner notes, is totally recommended--and not just because I spotted it in Gustav Estje's (Dungen) top releases of 2005 on Pitchfork! [MT]








Just As I Am - Dual Disc

"Ain't No Sunshine"
"Do It Good"

"Lean on Me," "Ain't No Sunshine," "Just the Two of Us," "Lovely Day." These are just a few of the songs Bill Withers gave us and yes, he seems ubiquitous these days. You hear him in the supermarket, at your cousin's wedding reception, or on commercials selling you chewing gum, shampoo and Gap clothing. Yet somehow, you don't get annoyed, because his voice is a soothing, comfortable thing. All of the aforementioned songs are such a part of the mainstream musical fabric of this country, it's almost amazing to think that it almost didn't happen at all.

Rewind to the flashy West Coast excess of Los Angeles in 1969, and imagine a modest and earnest former serviceman at his emotional breaking point. After nine years in the Navy, Withers quit and moved to L.A. to pursue his dreams of being a songwriter. After years of rejection letters ("too old," "too soft"), false promises, and a marriage crumbling under the pressure of trying to pursue the impossible dream, he was beginning to come to the disheartening conclusion that he may end up working on an airplane assembly line for the rest of his life. And then a minor miracle occurred. His demo made it to the desk of a music exec (Withers had called him while on his lunch break) who listened to it and insisted that he help get the songwriter a publishing deal. Before you know it, he's at the home of Booker T. Jones (yes that Booker T.), playing him his songs. Not only does Booker insist that Withers sing these songs himself (which Withers had no intention of doing), he insists on producing and playing on the album and invites the MG's and Stephen Stills to perform on it as well!

Just As I Am is his debut record, and in it you hear the rich tradition of American working class blues presented in timeless fashion--from the mic'ed sounds of Withers' foot stomping catching the beat on "Ain't No Sunshine," to the self-effacing intro of "Do It Good." In a lot of ways, I think that this was the last modern blues album, produced at a time when the B in R&B actually meant something. All of the songs are mainly about regret and how it can eat away at your soul if you let it. Check the paternity tear-jerker "I'm Her Daddy," or the wife-done-left-me lament of album closer "Better Off Dead" which ends the album with the sound of a single gunshot.

This is one of the most honest records to ever hit the mainstream and the only reason why I think that such an album had that much of an immediate impact is because Withers is an everyman. All of the things he sings about are about everyday struggles and how something as simple as a spouse leaving you can tear you down ("Ain't no sunshine when she's gone"), or a good friend coming to your aid can send your spirits sky high ("Swallow your pride, if I have things you need to borrow")...and it swings like a motherf**ker as well!!

Also included in this deluxe addition is a DVD of rare Withers live performances and a documentary on the making of this landmark album. This is one of my favorites of all time, and I'm happy to recommend it to all of you! [DH]








Take Another Little Piece of My Heart
(Varese Sarabande)

"Do Your Duty"
"Piece of My Heart"

With the much-deserved and long-overdue renaissance that obscure Northern soul singer Bettye Lavette got last year with her comeback album, I've Got My Own Hell to Raise, it's no surprise that a few coattails are getting ridden now. Since that means these tough soul sides she cut with the legendary Dixie Flyers (meaning Jim Dickinson and Charlie Freeman, who backed everyone from Aretha to Carmen McRae) for Lelan Rogers' Silver Fox label (yes, Kenny's bro and the man behind the legendary International Artists label), are all collected in one handy set, we're not complaining. That powerful raspy voice is already in full force, and she cuts through "Games People Play," "Do Your Duty," and even the Janis Joplin showstopper, "Piece of my Heart." For fans who dug the Candi Staton and Bettye Swann reissues, this raw and raspy set is right up there with them. [AB]







Security Screenings

"No Origin"
"Weight Watching"

This is another album-length release of outtakes from Scott Herren's Prefuse 73 nom de plume, drawn from the Surrounded By Silence sessions. The thing with this guy is his cast-offs are often at least as interesting, if not more so, than his proper albums. This has 17 tracks of weird, sampledelic, freaky hip-hop grooves, alternating between big meaty beats, soulful orchestrations and trashy found-sounds that would at one time have been called "Illbient." Includes some great collaborations with Four Tet and TV on the Radio's Babatunde Adebimpe. [JM]









"You Can Do"

Like the Isolée reissue, it's about time this album came back in print. Now that disco is cool again, and minimal house is edging upward in popularity, Losoul's debut long-player Belong is here to show the minimal crowd how to bob an ass, in case they forgot. It needs to be pointed out that he was also producing under the name Don Disco in the mid-to-late-'90s when it wasn't cool to like disco. No one knew how to put a thick slab of funk into minimal tracks like Losoul. Sometimes cut-up but never messy, sometimes lean and mean but never macho, Losoul is another minimal house hero.

Featuring the slowly climbing groove of "Taste Not Waste" that stomps and creeps all at the same time, the blissed out house sound of "Sunbeams and the Rain," the deep, gutsy funk of "Depth Control" and "Late Play," and the pre-mashup, Billy Jean-beat borrowing pop-house of "Overland." Belong is actually a glowing exclamation point after a long run of impeccable 12-inch releases, but considering the above tracks, this album is also essential Losoul. This reissue has a sticker on the cover that's full of endorsements by the likes of Dan Bell, Michael Mayer, Luke Solomon, and "Shake" Shakir. Take their advice and get with this. [SM]








October Language

"I Never Lose, Never Really"
"All Equal Now"

Not an electronic release per se, as is the case with the majority of the Carpark records, New Orleans-based two piece Belong (Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones) create pastoral tapestries of sound that always toe the line between zen-like beauty and utter devastation. Buildings ominously seem to crumble but with every subtle shift, riches of silver and gold appear in the rubble. Lazily compared to My Bloody Valentine, this has more in common with some of the works of Keith Fullerton Whitman and Flying Saucer Attack, and falls somewhere halfway between guitar-based wall of sound and electro-acoustic ambience. It's been a while since I heard something fill up a room so entirely. [AK]










Studio One Soul Volume 2
(Soul Jazz)

"People Make the World Go Round" Hortense Ellis
"Jumping Jehosphat" Jackie Mittoo

Volume 2 of the Studio One Soul series collects another batch of stellar Jamaican artists covering American soul classics. Jacob Miller's "Westbound Train" (appropriating "Love and Happiness" to great effect) is a nice opening number that sets the tone for the cross-country journey in store. Along the way, versions, vocal takes, and dubs display the influence which the outside world had on Jamaica, with Curtis Mayfield being a thread throughout, along with nods to the Animals, Allen Toussaint, Marvin Gaye, Syl Johnson, and the Beatles. Eighteen tracks in all, including Horace Andy's version of "Ain't No Sunshine," Hortense Ellis singing "People Make the World Go Round," the Heptones covering "Choice of Colours," and Jerry Jones' performance of "Compared to What." Not a new idea or theme for a comp, but once again Soul Jazz displays its knack for picking from the litter and that makes for a great listening experience. [DG]








Jamaica Soul Shake Volume 1
(Soul Jazz)

"Federated Backdrop"
"Baby Face"

The first volume of Soul Jazz's Jamaica Soul Shake gives us a peak at Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's blueprint to shift the sound of reggae from the upbeat rock-steady rhythms to a tougher, moodier, and rougher beat. Sound Dimension began as an offshoot of the Skatalites, originally called Soul Vendors, and after a tour of Europe and a few personnel changes they took on a new moniker. Featuring a who's who of skilled musicians (Jackie Mittooo, Leroy Sibbles, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Ernest Ranglin, Don Drummond, Cedric Brooks, Roland Alphonso and Headley Bennett), their tight, bouncy and shuffling rhythms would become the backbone for many singles and versions still used to this day. In the late-'60s they backed vocalists like John Holt, Alton Ellis and Ken Boothe, and every Studio One released single during this period featuring their instrumentals on the b-side. An excellent slice of instrumental grooves bridging the gaps between soul, jazz, funk and reggae. [DG]








Second Guessing

"Eyes, Lock & Steel"

Oakley Hall may be one of Brooklyn's best kept secrets. They're a roots rock (but, also much else) band with a devastating live show (maybe you'll see 'em opening for YYY's later this month) and this second album of theirs actually manages to capture a good bit of that energy. Look, I grew up in Kansas during the days of No Depression and I've seen and heard more than enough alt-country bands. They usually have the stink of formaldehyde about them, and too often the only sound you're actually hearing is the one made as the so-called dead horse is being flogged. But the music the six guys and girls in Oakley Hall are making feels lived in and alive. They've got the Burritos, Dead, and Doug Sahm shuffle and boogie down pat, but with enough spiritual uplift to keep it relevant and revelatory. So the next time you're sitting in Daddy's bar listening to that sweet ass jukebox and pining for a dusty experience contemporary with the decade you're actually living in, then please, by all means, and I do mean truly and sincerely, check out Oakley Hall. [MK]





CDx2 w/Booklet



Golden Afrique Volume 1

"Samba" Amazones De Guinee
"N'toman" Ambassadeurs International

No less than the Dean himself, Robert Christgau chimes in this week at the Voice about this two-disc set skimming just the cream of the West African pop scene of the '70s and early-'80s. He hopes that "aficionados stuck in the past will keep showing us what we missed," which is high praise for such a discriminating fan of the Afropop genre. To my ears, this is one of the finest introductions to the bright, sunny music of 'the dark continent.' This set covers the music radiating from Mali, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast as decolonization brought both socialist and capitalist experiments to the region. States sponsored house bands (as did hotels and police chiefs), music was funded and promoted as cultural exports that announced national identities, and all of it sparkled and shone like gold. Some of our all-time favorites are here: Orchestra Baobab, Youssou N'Dour, Super Mama Djombo, Bembeya Jazz National, Salif Keita (with the Rail Band, Ambassadeurs du Motel, and Ambassadeurs International), as well as the many offshoots of Star Band de Dakar. The booklet is hefty, with excellent notes and album pics, and the delights are innumerable. [AB]








Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou - Piano Solo
(Buda Musique)

"The Homeless Wanderer"
"The Song of the Sea"

Born in 1923 outside Addis Abeba, Ethiopia to a well known and highly respected family of intellectuals, Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou's story should have been one of privilege and prosperity. But a series of events throughout her fascinating life would deny her the comforts of wealth. From a very early age, Guebrou took a deep interest in music. Trained in piano and violin at a boarding school abroad, she later returned to Ethiopia only to witness her country overtaken by Mussolini's troops in 1936. She was deported to a small town outside Naples for several years and later made her way around Europe, eventually ending up in Cairo. It was here that she was taken under the tutelage of Alexander Kontorowicz, a Polish violinist who was to have a profound effect on her musical development.

Once Guebrou returned to Ethiopia, her desire to continue her studies consumed her. But in that country being a musician was not considered an honorable trade, especially for someone of her social stature, and she was denied an opportunity of study music at a conservatory in London. Guebrou became very depressed but found solace in religion and she became a nun in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, working for many years serving the poorest of the poor in Addis. Eventually, she ended up teaching in an orphanage in Addis were she was able to take up music again and it was at this time, in the early-'60s, that she released several albums for a German label. Guebrou would donate all the proceeds to the orphanage.

Unlike much of the rest of the Ethiopiques series, the music contained here has little to do with the R&B and soul fueled music of Alemayehu Eshete or Ethiopian popular music. Nor is it neo-classical piano in the European tradition, but instead, the music is distinctly Ethiopian. Her playing is delicate, sweet and deceptively intricate. Piano Solo tells stories and conjures images of a more innocent time, and what it lacks in tension is more then made up in simple beauty. A highly enjoyable listen that's perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. [GA]








Cluster 71


Water reissues another essential record from these early purveyors of space rock. Originally a trio known as Kluster, soon after Conrad Schnitzler departed the ranks, Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius replaced the "K" with a "C" and continued to explore their beat-less, factory-inspired ambience. Recorded with Conny Plank, the album would be the first record released as Cluster and showed the German duo moving away from noisier, earlier experiments, all the while embracing a minimalist approach to their kosmische music. Made up of three lengthy tracks, 71 is built around guitars and organs, all processed to sound otherworldly and completely unrecognizable from the original sources. Moebius and Roedelius were still a few years from integrating the drum machine and more direct melodies into their music, so unlike later collaborations with Michael Rother and Brian Eno, these pieces float without shape, focusing more on the musician's reactions to each other's improvisations by way of eerie alien-machine pulses and laboratory buzzes. Yet there's something very human about this record, perhaps mimicking the mysterious sound of the body as heard from the confines of the womb. This is ambient music in its rawest and most challenging form. [GH]








Idols of Exile
(Arts & Crafts)

"We All Lose One Another"

With so many diverse talents contributing to the huge music conglomerate known as Broken Social Scene, it's no wonder that they're the front-runners of the Canadian Invasion. Artists like Stars, Do Make Say Think, and Feist undoubtedly had their profiles raised thanks to their association with this gigantic collective. Toronto native Jason Collett, who joined Broken Social Scene soon after the release of their breakthrough You Forgot It in People, is another whose name may not be too familiar in indie rock households right now, but is likely to benefit with this new album.

Collett's modern rural pop songs often seem closer to the work of Tom Petty rather than the sprawling rock of BSS. A follow-up of sorts to 2003's Motor Motel Love Songs, which culled previously recorded tracks into one package, Idols of Exile is a more focused and produced affair, filled with rollicking numbers like "Feral Republic" and the Desire-era Dylan-inspired folk-rock of "We All Lose One Another." But with guests including several BSS associates (including Leslie Feist), and Metric's James Shaw and Emily Haines, Idols of Exile isn't necessarily a straightforward album. The spacey atmosphere of "Tinsel and Sawdust," which layers bits of electronic noises and feedback underneath Collett's whispered voice and his quiet guitar strums, hints at Wilco's re-imagination of Americana, while the lazy, feel-good "Fire" shimmers like a Doves' song. I imagine "I'll Bring the Sun," however, could be the breakout hit; its jangly, heart-on-the-sleeve sentiment builds into an anthemic chorus that is sure to leave many reaching for repeat. [GH]








First Utterance
(Get Back)

"Song to Comus"
"The Herald"

Back in print with a new lower price. Comus apparently weren't having any of their era's feel-good hippie s**t when they stepped into Pye studios to record their 1970 psych-folk masterpiece First Utterance. Perhaps this record could only have been made in the aftermath of the Manson Family murders the previous summer, or maybe Comus just reflected a general vibe of disillusionment with the "Summer of Love". Anyhow, they managed to expertly channel such 19th-century gothic masterpieces as Lautreamont's "Chants du Maldoror" (Songs of Dawns/Evil), or Joris-Karl Huysmans portraits of satanism and the 15th-century mass murderer Gilles de Rais in his novel La-Bas. And while in the early-20th century the surrealist poets Breton, Desnos, et al were exploring the occult and the macabre, it wasn't until First Utterance that these themes were so explored in music. Comus are somewhat akin to the first few Tyrannosaurus Rex albums--imagine Marc Bolan singing less about unicorns and more about rape, pillage, and murder, and you have a fair approximation of First Utterance. Woodwinds, dark string arrangements, and propulsive hand drumming abound. [MK]






Heavy Heavy Heavy

"Heavy Heavy Heavy"
"Africans Must Unite"

Geraldo Pino is one of the major unsung heroes of Afro-beat. He didn't invent it per se, but if it weren't for his music and influence, especially on a young Fela Kuti, it probably wouldn't exist. In Kuti's own words, "After seeing this Pino, I knew I had to get my shit together. And quick!" Pino was a bandleader from Sierra Leone who was the first to put conventional American R&B arrangements and black power lyrics in African popular music. James Brown seems to be the biggest influence here. The rhythms are definitely more straightforward (think "Give It Up, Turn It Loose") and Pino has the same sort of call and response vocalizing that Brown had; but there is definitely more urgency (if that's possible) and the production is more raw, of course. All of his music has been very difficult to find, so this is a revelation of sorts, and a godsend to all fans of great black music. Highest recommendation y'all!! [DH]




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[GA] Geoff Albores
[AB] Adrian Burkholder
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[DH] Duane Harriott
[RH] Rob Hatch-Miller
[MK] Michael Klausman
[AK] Andreas Knutsen
[JM] Josh Madell
[SM] Scott Mou
[MT] Mahssa Taghinia

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