September 21, 2006  




Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble
Darkel (JB Dunckel of Air)
The Whitest Boy Alive (Erlend Øye)
White Magic
Blops (Box Set)
Masayuki Takayanagi & New Direction Unit
John Cale
Sandy Bull
Hako Yamasaki
Ariesta Birawa
Takka Takka
The Legends
Hidden Cameras
Luc Ferrari


Vibe Central
Bubonic Plague
Super Creep
Harry Partch DVD
DJ Shadow
Pete Rock
¡Forward Russia!
Alice Smith



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New York City anti-folk troubadour Jeffrey Lewis will be playing a special in-store at Other Music on Monday, September 25th, celebrating the release of his brand new album City & Eastern Songs (out on September 26th, on Rough Trade).

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25th @ 8:00 P.M.
OTHER MUSIC: 15 E. 4th Street NYC
Free Admission/Limited Capacity

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Next Friday, Yo La Tengo will be playing in Jersey City in support of their fantastic new album, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass. Other Music has two pairs of tickets to give away! To enter, e-mail, and please leave a daytime phone number where you can be reached. The two winners will be notified on Monday, September 25th.

Landmark Loews Theatre: 54 Journal Square
Jersey City, NJ
$25 Tickets Available at Other Music



Other Music has five pairs of passes to give away to a screening of Old Joy, a new film by Kelly Reichhardt, based on a short story by Jonathan Raymond, starring Will Oldham and Daniel London, with an original soundtrack by Yo La Tengo. The passes are good for any of the showings at the Film Forum between Thursday, September 21st and Tuesday, October 3rd, including this Friday's 8:15 P.M. showing, which will feature a Q&A with Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan after the screening. To enter, send an e-mail to, and please leave a daytime phone number where you can be reached. The five winners will be notified on Friday morning, September 22nd.

FILM FORUM: 209 West Houston Street New York, NY

SEPT Sun 24 Mon 25 Tues 26 Wed 27 Thurs 28 Fri 29 Sat 30


Next Friday, Lovebug Starski, the man who coined the term Hip-Hop, will be celebrating 35 years behind the decks at APT! To enter, e-mail, and please leave a daytime phone number where you can be reached. The winners will be notified on Monday, September 25th.

APT: 413 W. 13th Street
New York, NY

$10 Tickets Available at Other Music









The Letting Go
(Drag City)

"Cursed Sleep"

Have you seen the video on YouTube promoting Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's new album, The Letting Go? It features BPB stalking Neil Hamburger around a motel, singing songs from the album into a portable boom box mic until Neil eventually does old Will in. I am taking this to mean that even Mr. Oldham himself is realizing his output, although never disappointing, is becoming perhaps a bit too, uh…prolific. The new record does manage some departure from previous material in that there are orchestral arrangements care of Bjork's recent collaborator Valgier Sigurdsson, (the album was recorded in Iceland), and most of the singing is complemented harmonically by Faun Fables' Dawn McCarthy. Like the majority of recent works from Billy, The Letting Go is achingly sad and lyrically despondent, focusing on the inability to love or be loved or stay loved. Ms. McCarthy's vocals are a very well suited contrast to the Bonnie Prince's trademark steady and emotional folk croon. Though staying within his formula, these songs are never uninteresting, especially the closer "Untitled," which may be one his most striking compositions in some time in terms of emotional evocation. The Letting Go is a welcome addition for fans of this quirky yet solid singer/songwriter of melancholic twang. [NL]







Drumdance to the Motherland

"Cosmic Echoes"
"Breath of Life"

Jesus. Forget what you know. Every now and then, a record comes along that sneaks up on you and punches you in the back in the head so hard, it sends you reeling for days. This is one of them. Recorded live in 1972, this holy grail private press album by vibraphonist Khan Jamal probably qualifies as a "jazz" record, but not as this world knows it, as it sounds like it was recorded in a spaceship, an echo chamber, and a cave all at once, which makes it virtually impossible to put a timestamp on. The dubbed-out percussion intro of "Cosmic Echoes" sounds like Sun Ra overseeing an Aggrovators session, yet strangely contemporary, and it only gets more inspired and unfathomable from there. The extended free jazz shocks (complete with recording engineer's mystery effects!) and cosmic black psychedelia dreamed up by this underground Philly collective explores outsider worlds that Actuel never knew existed, and emits a kind of smoke ESP-Disk never had a whiff of. Drumdance to the Motherland will render a majority of your record collection somewhat useless, but you're going to want to take that gamble. Utterly unique and essential document from way left of center. [AK]











"Be My Friend"

I love Air, but they always take so damn long between albums. Their next record isn't slated to come out until early next year, three years after their last full-length, Talkie Walkie. In the meantime, Jean-Benoit Dunckel, one half of the French duo, has released his first solo album under the name of Darkel, and let me tell you, it almost feels like the real deal. Like Air, there's no shortage of dreamy, retro-futuristic soundscapes, but there seems to be more of a human element present, with traditional rock instruments often taking precedence over the synthesizers. Dunckel's melancholic melodies are also more immediate, with nods to '60s and '70s pop standing front and center. Fueled by a "Tubular Bells"-sounding keyboard, the spooky opening "Be My Friend" could have been an outtake from 10,000 Hz Legend. But the album picks up the pace with "At the End of the Sky," a whimsical psychedelic number with a melody and slide guitar lead that are no doubt inspired by George Harrison; or the saccharine shuffle of "My Own Sun," which reminds me of Marc Bolan singing to the Kinks' "Dedicated Follower of Fashion." Dunckel takes a couple of stabs at spacey glam with "Beautiful Woman," a playful but nonetheless catchy T. Rex-inspired stomper, as well as the throwaway bubblegum punk of "TV Destroy," and dubby, future funk with "Earth," its layers of synthesizer strings harkening back to Moon Safari. Overall, this feels less conceptual than your typical Air album, but Dunckel does offer a diverse selection of tracks which prove to be more than just a stop gap release. If you're an Air fan, don't hesitate in picking this one up. [GH]








"Golden Cage"

The whitest boy alive!? No. More like the renaissance man of indie rock. In 2006, it's safe to say that Norway's favorite lanky musician dude with the too-large, ironically worn unironically vintage glass frames, Erlend Øye, has pulled off the difficult task of well…not being one thing or another. The guy does it all. Everything. Along with clocking in hours as Jens Lekman's wingman, Øye's put out an irresistible album of electronica freaked pop songs (2003's Unrest), along with two dazzling hushed folk records with Kings of Convenience that I'm sure get lots of love in Ian Schreager hotel lobbies as well as in my home stereo (if you don't own the duo's 2004 album, Riot on Empty Street, you are missing one of the sweetest and most accessibly brilliant record of the last five years), and somehow the guy even found time to release a DJ Kicks mix of ultra-tasteful micro-house and even a Cornelius track too.

Thing is, Øye's never really played with a band before, and the Whitest Boy Alive's debut, Dreams, is his brazen exit from the digital music ghetto into the land of "influenced by Modest Mouse and Spoon." Sure, the pop nuggets on Dreams, apparently all started as robotic dance songs -- but by the time tape was rolling these jams somehow became loose, and jangly, stripped down and raw -- like something Thrill Jockey might've put out in the early-'90s, only happier. Cause really, Erlend's coo remains as endearingly innocent as ever, and you can just totally see him shimmying his way around the studio delivering school's out proclamations like, "I'm caught in the motion and I just don't want to stop." He is the whitest boy alive after all. [HG]







Katie Cruel
(Drag City)

"Katie Cruel"

Sure, years of record buying has taught me to loathe the phrase "heavily anticipated" like the alarm clock on Monday mornings, but I seriously cannot wait for the new White Magic full-length. It's taken these guys and girls long enough to deliver some new sounds -- over two years since their debut EP, Through the Sun Door, saw me getting all b-side on cats, proclaiming it as the real freak folk record of the year in spite of the fact that the likes of Devendra and Joanna Newsom dropped classics that year as well. All seriousness aside, this is just to say that anticipation is legitimately high for the nightmarishly titled, Dat Rosa Mel Apibus, (sounds very CocoRosie to me, but w'ever). The sparse first single, "Katie Cruel" (which happens to be a Karen Dalton cover) and its piano-laced counterpart, "Hold Your Hand in the Dark," on the flip both come on like husky punches to the gut. Which is just to say they sound like trademark White Magic. A place where subtle math rock rhythms, renaissance hooks, and the haunted heft of Mira Billotte's bedraggled alto meet. As if I couldn't get any more excited. [HG]







Blops - Box Set

"Pisandose la Cola"

The recorded legacy of the Blops, one of Chile's finest bands, finally available on CD!!! I've been waiting for this one ever since that super expensive three LP box set came out a while back and made my top ten of the year, so it's great to have it at a slightly more reasonable price and available to more people. Born in the same cultural milieu as Congreso and Congregacion, Los Blops came together as a band in 1970 and recorded three brilliant albums before the dissolution of democracy in Chile in 1973. Like Congreso, they were as heavily influenced by American and British rock and roll as they were by South American Nueva Cancion, practicing and learning songs at legendary Chilean folk-singer Violetta Parra's house by day and tripping to Jimi Hendrix records at night. The members lived communally, seeking a new order to their lives as they constantly worked at honing their craft. The first two albums are my favorites, each equally brilliant folk/rock masterpieces that are exhilaratingly full of life and joy, and yet still often tinged with a palpable sense of sorrow. Strikingly full of purpose, they recorded each in under twelve hours, no doubt with a conviction that what they were doing was new and utterly important. All three records simply brim with gorgeous and original songs. Easily one of the best reissues of the year. [MK]








"First Session 1"
"Second Session"

My enthusiasm for free jazz documents has been tempered over the years, but there's an electric thrill that accompanies almost any reappearance of those hallowed documents cut by Japan's guitarist godfather, Masayuki "Jojo" Takayanagi. Still of the jazz tradition enough so as to evoke cool players (be it Lee Konitz or Jim Hall), it's not his ability to swing or chill that gets the noise contingency's dander up though, but rather his status as Japan's Sonny Sharrock, Derek Bailey, Ray Russell, and Rudolph Grey all rolled into one. The documents capturing Jojo with Karou Abe live in the '70s are gnarly and caustic indeed, but my favorite recordings are of him with his group, New Direction Unit.

Eclipse is one of the most revered (though they all are, from Axis to Free Form Suite), captured on March 14, 1975. Recorded right after Takayanagi's proposed set for ESP-Disk, April Is the Cruelest Month, as ESP went under, legend has it that the pressing of Eclipse was reduced to a mere hundred copies or so. Let's just say that it's not sitting in a dollar bin. No need to put off buying that new car now, as this mini-LP reproduction holds all the lava. As is often the case with Jojo's "mass projections" (a free-form sort of group heave), it builds slow, the players picking their spots, working towards a climax that boggles the ears. By the time of side two's "Second Session," the group is in a lather that is simply beyond words. They burn incandescent for over 25 minutes that soars beyond belief. Fans of free jazz and Brotzmann, fans of Double Leopards and Wolf Eyes will find plenty of white-hot plasma here. [AB]







Paris 1919
(Rhino UK)

"Paris 1919"
"Burned Out Affair"

Out of Cale's budding solo career, it didn't get any better than Paris 1919, and with the jump from Reprise to Island on the horizon, he seemed to know better than to try and top or repeat it. If you already have a copy, this re-mastered edition contains, as bonus tracks, one outtake (the acoustic blues of "Burned Out Affair" and the entire album reassembled from alternate takes and demos, that will shed new light. If you don't have this record, now you have no excuse. If you enjoy the first four Eno solo records, here's the blueprint. If you're into literate pop a la the Decemberists or Belle & Sebastian, prepare to be blown away by earlier, superior, untouchable product. Some of the most striking lyrical imagery ever committed to pop is contained within its cream-white parlour; an incomparable merging of gentle yet assured songs, orch-pop, dub (yes, dub), country, blues, glammish rock, and pensive drone, and moreover, the sensibilities to merge all of these styles into a seamless, offhandedly academic bundle, and to create an album that improves with each listen, with songs that seem to grow more meaningful off of one another. There may be no better sequence of songs than "Macbeth" into the title track and then into "Graham Greene." One of the best albums of the '70s, bar none; probably the best record you'll buy all year. You owe it to yourself to introduce (or reintroduce) Paris 1919 into your life. [DM]







Still Valentine's Day, 1969: Live at The Matix San Francisco

"Electric Blend 1"
"Manha de Carnival"

Now here's a record that legitimately deserves adjectives like "smoky," and "druggy," and "narcoleptic," and even though I've just started writing this blurb, I'm sure I'll use at least one of these words again in the ensuing paragraphs. Try not to roll your eyes if the phrase "kaleidoscope drones" pops up as well. It's that kind of record -- an album of two smoky and enigmatic, mindfucked live performances from Vanguard's thinking man, Sandy Bull. But is it folk music!? Guitar primitive? Instrumental jamming? Another J Spaceman joint!? What is this music?

Still Valentine's Day, 1969: Live at The Matix San Francisco is, as one stoner would say to another, some "next level shit." Along with the electric guitar, Sandy Bull plays the oud and I swear at some moments he's literally playing the amplifiers too -- which is probably true, considering Sandy tells his audience that he "recently lost all his equipment," and is playing on all new gear he'd gotten just that day. I'm also guessing Bull was bombed out of his mind for these performances -- he was known for being a notorious substance abuser, and I'll be damned if he doesn't sound a little…um…drowsy here. Plus, as is noted in the title, it all took place on Valentine's Day. Far out. I can't think of a more unsentimental place to take your lover -- let's go hear this notoriously erratic genius mutter to himself, while making the most gorgeously, genre-defying, twisted downer shit ever. We'll try not to kill ourselves. That said, thank god somebody taped this stuff, because it makes the best early morning "I shouldn't have had that last Mojito" music ever. A gloriously narcoleptic (told ya), lo-fi, and flat-out beautiful trip -- heaving, melodic drones, arhythmical netherworld raga virtuosity, and one unforgettable night of music haunting the liminal spaces of baby booming lovebirds in the San Francisco area. Now only if someone had taped the conversations in the car rides home. (Re)issue of the year? [HG]









Japanese folksinger Hako Yamasaki was only eighteen or nineteen when she released her sophomore album, Tsunawatari, in 1975. Graced with a pathos-laden voice, she was able to summon almost unfathomable levels of desolation for a person of such tender years. Eschewing any sort of sunny breeziness a la Sachiko Kanenobu, her early albums are practically exercises in forlornness, a point which her record company was quick to drive home by commissioning brooding photographic portraits in muted tones of Yamasaki standing silently alone on rain soaked streets, while her long, jet black hair framed the reticent and troubled looks on her face. They couldn't have captured the feel of her albums any better. The tempo is resolutely slow; songs begin with a whisper and slowly expand until Yamasaki's powerful lungs climax in a soul-shattering howl, with the restrained arrangements expertly framing the eventual intensity of her delivery. Exquisitely moody. [MK]







(Morr Music)


Julia Guther and Berend Intelmann return with their sophomore release as Guther. While they have, with charming success, refined their hazy pop sound, many of the basic elements remain: minimal, repetitive groves, layered keyboards and dreamy guitars, lovely and mysterious vocals. Guther practice a particularly Morr Music-esque blend of shoegazing pop that nestles, if not embraces, modern electronica, both retro and futuristic, and Sundet is a fine album well worth the wait. [JM]







Letter of Sounds

"Rowboat" Featuring Piana

Fourcolor's debut, Water Mirror (on Apestaartje) was largely drone-based, while the follow-up, Air Curtain, hinted at a more rhythmic direction, and on Letter of Sounds, the prolific Keiichi Sugimoto (Minamo, Filfla) explores even more structured territories. The album, his second release on 12k, is more upfront and song oriented, with plenty of plenty of sliced and diced subtle beats, but never losing the warm and melodic qualities of his previous works (check the massive dreamy scape of the last song, "Frame"). Opener "02" is the closest Sugimoto has come to writing a proper pop song, with its precise beats and processed guitar hooks, and the stunning "Rowboat" features gorgeous ethereal vocals by Naoko Sasaki (aka Piana). Minimal and methodically calculated, yet utterly beautiful and accessible, electronic music by one of the best of the genre, this comes highly recommended. [AK]







Vol. 1 Indonesia 1973

"Si Ompong"
"Didunia Yang Lain"

Totally jamming Indonesian band rescued from hopeless obscurity by the Shadoks label. If you're looking for some kind of Subliminal Frequencies styled ethno-psych madness you may want to look elsewhere, as their approach more closely resembles the song oriented aspect of groups like Traffic Sound or Juan de la Cruz. You can hear a ton of influences: West Coast psychedelia, Latin jams via Santana, and the toughness of mid-'60s American garage rock. Which probably makes it all sound more pedestrian than it really is, because there does seem to be a certain strangeness to the entire proceeding that is nearly impossible to put your finger on. [MK]








We Feel Safer at Night

"Coco on the Corner"

You know how Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has the totally trainspottable influences but, gosh darnit, you can't really hold it against them cause they do it with such open-armed, just clever enough skill to pull it off? Well, say hello to Takka Takka. No, they don't sound like Clap Your Hands, but they are definitely brothers in arms, and I guess in more ways than one since they are actually joining them on their next tour. Where C.Y.H.S.Y. has that soaring, Tele-Velvet-Heads vibe, Takka Takka has a completely catchy, neo-indie version of Velvet Underground-meets-Jonathan Richman self-knowledge, with that nothing-is-gonna-get-me-down-ultimately vibe of Broken Social Scene. (And like V.U. and Modern Lovers, there is a definite NY/post-college bend to the lyrics.) Check out "We Feel Safer at Night", "Coco on the Corner", "Joshua and the Professor" and "She Works in Banking." A self-assured/self-aware and humble collection of songs here. [SM]





$15.99 CD w/DVD


Facts & Figures

"Disco Sucks"

We already knew that the Legends' main man John Angergard (who also fronts the Acid House Kings) likes to keep his fans guessing. The recent domestic issue of Public Radio marked a pretty big stylistic departure from the Legends' previous album, Up Against the Legends, replacing most of the sunny '60s pop influences and fuzzy Jesus and Mary Chain-styled guitars with somewhat bleaker mood, a la early-Cure and Felt. So popping the the Swedish songwriter's latest Legends offering into my CD changer, I had already assumed that Facts and Figures would not be a retread. Still, I wasn't expecting a bouncy electro-beat and a vocodered lead vocal to come bounding out of my stereo speakers. Talk about a night and day difference from both Up Against and Public Radio. From start to finish, Facts and Figures is a true blue electro-pop album. Unlike the Junior Boys' recent release, which has more of a spacious, minimal electronic approach in the arrangements, Angergard goes for the new wave jugular, using lush layers of synthesizer pads and washes of reverb. And forget about Public Radio's moodiness, Facts and Figures is much sweeter, taking melodic cues from '80s hit makers like OMD, Visage, Camouflage and even When in Rome. Had this been released four or so years ago, I am certain that Fischerspooner and Soviet fans would have been clamoring for this album, but even then, Angergard's endless wellspring of catchy, irony-free melodies would have separated the Legends from the electroclash pack. (For a limited time, this pressing comes with a bonus tour documentary DVD.) [GH]







(Arts & Crafts)

"She's Gone"
"Follow These Eyes"

Hidden Cameras fourth foray into gay pop-folk church music is a bit less explicit than their previous experiments, but Joel Gibb's sharp songwriting and quirky worldview still rule this emotional suite.







Far-West News 1998-99
(Blue Chopsticks)

"Far-West News"
"Episode 3"

I'm always going to kick myself for being in Europe the one time that my favorite French composer Luc Ferrari made a rare trip to the United States in the late-'90s, as it was my lone opportunity to see the him before he passed away last year. This is the second posthumous disc of the man to appear, and it continues in the trend of his previous Blue Chopsticks release and Sub Rosa's Les Anecdotiques. Far-West News isn't an austere tape composition of classical Ferrari, but rather one of those dense audio diaries, chopped and looped until it emulates that bewildering sensation of immersion into a foreign culture, trying to process and absorb it all, whether it makes sense or not. Overwhelming, loopy, cluttered, and at times hilarious (well, it's funny to think of the old man walking into a hotel lobby to page "Jerome Kern," a twinkle in his eye), this is a touching document from Ferrari. [AB]





Vibe Central


Bubonic Plague


Super Creep



Vibe Central
(Human Ear Music)

"A Flamingo"

No Bosses No Bullshit
(Human Ear Music)


1, 2,6 - The First Six Unreleased Albums
(Human Ear Music)

"Hay Donna"

Here's some un-hyped DIY shit coming out of LA that we had to try just outta sheer curiosity. When the girl from the label (and apparently also in Bubonic Plague) told me her description of their mission statement containing a motto of something like "music from a bunch of people who kind of know each other," I was ready to take some in. Then she capped it all with a sincere, almost reluctant, "Do you know Ariel Pink? Well, he's in Vibe Central too." Oh, word. These are three albums of Did-It-Themselves, home-recorded stuff that shows that an LA underground exists that has nothing to do with Dim Mak. Surprisingly, these records have a total modern indie-meets-minimal synth vibe that is devoid of too-little-too-late-to-get-to-electroclash-LA stereotypes.

Vibe Central was the first one we tried and it brought to mind serious Section 25 at the Liquid Sky party flashbacks. Bubonic Plague (lovely name) was next and had the total (again) Liquid Sky vibe -- very "Me and My Rhythm Box" goth-robot beat poetry over slinky basslines, drum machine and synth pulses. The Super Creep "1,2,6" box set of their first six unreleased albums (!!) is the best buy of the lot: six full albums on three CD-Rs in a hand-decorated box at the price of a regular full length CD, which is ridiculous to the point of being cool! The music is definitely in the schizophrenic, run-on, exploratory, anything goes, whole songs and excerpts pop style reminiscent of Ariel Pink. Songs just stop and start. You know, that whole catchy, difficult yet still tuneful song quality that uses all kinds of half-broken equipment (guitars, effects, drum machine, more effects), this is some stuff to check out. Nice and raw and fun and satisfying. [SM]







Enclosure 7

At Reed College, about a decade ago, I came across a fascinating documentary about American iconoclast Harry Partch. Already obsessed with his astounding and singular music, the film revealed the visual aspect so crucial to understanding the man's soundworld. It's a delight to have that film available again on Enclosure 7, along with other visual ephemera of Partch. Capturing him in the early-'70s, Partch and his minions perform his late masterwork "The Dreamer That Remains" and he goes off on hoboism, just intonation and any number of topics. Remarking about how his instruments exist in space, seeing them at play reveals their inherent theatrical qualities. (It's also apparent that you must be a young man in a tight wife-beater to play these things as well.) Were the documentary not enlightening enough, the 72-minute live performance of "Delusion of the Fury" will cast Partch's work in an entirely new light for both initiates and longtime fans alike. [AB]







First Live 1979 Kichijoji Minor


Like it says on the label, this is a recording of long-running Japanese avant-psych outfit Kousokuya's first ever live gig, recorded October 14, 1979. At the time, the band was exploring a damaged, un-learned psychedelic garage sound, loose and detuned, but girded with singer Mick's third-eye-opening vocals, and Hiroshi Yokoyama's out of control analog synth skree, which powers past the rest of the band with both tones of coloration and more severe intent. It's a jangling and confounding, yet, engaging piece of free rock action from the Japanese under-underground, comparable to Red Crayolan free-form-freak-out or the repetitive churn of White Light/White Heat or early Modern Lovers. [DM]








The Outsider

"This Time"

Ten years ago, Josh Davis dropped his groundbreaking debut, Endtroducing, and that record became one of the most influential records of the '90s, as well an early top seller at Other Music, maybe OUR biggest record of the era as well. Davis was a pioneer of "turntablism" as entertainment in its own right, but besides being a record-collecting fiend with an understated mastery of the 1's and 2's, he was a visionary producer, pioneering the Mo'Wax sound, with dark, haunting instrumental hip-hop grooves less interested in punchy James Brown funk samples than lush string arrangements and haunting keyboard grooves. But what next? The intervening years have found DJ Shadow faltering a bit, as he tried to keep the crown perched on his low-slung stocking cap. He has continued to release excellent productions, but as time passed the whole genre has struggled to find an identity to grow into. Even the best tracks often end up sounding like instrumental b-sides of a great vocal track, like songs without a singer, and Davis' most enduring releases have perhaps been the questionably legal CDs of 7" funk mixes that he released on the DL to promote DJ tours.

With The Outsider, Davis has attempted to answer the question of what a great producer does as a "solo artist," and the results are some of his best grooves and most accomplished songs, as well as a schizophrenic hodge-podge of collaborations. The first proper song (following, of course, a skit, proving that indeed Davis is a hip-hop producer) is a great Roy Ayers-style soul number with a lead vocal supposedly found on a 40-year-old abandoned reel somewhere; but Davis has given new life to the sweet melody, with live players and soulful production. What follows, except for a stray track or two of brooding hard rock, is essentially a Bay Area hip-hop album, full of dark, propulsive, distorted rhythms, pounding hooks, and laundry-list of rappers, including David Banner, Q-Tip, Lateef, Keak Da Sneak, Turf Talk, Phonte Coleman, and many more. The results are always solid, with great sounds and energetic grooves. Overall, it's hard to poke holes in Davis' solid construction, although it might be a bit easier to find fault with some of his rappers lyrics…but criticism like that might discredit 75% of all working rappers. If there is a real problem here, it's that The Outsider never exactly comes off as an "album"; maybe not a fatal blow in the age of the iPod, but for a producer of such talent, it's hard not to wish for a batch of songs and a level of songwriting, be it instrumental or lyrical, that would match his talent.

Maybe Josh Davis IS the outsider that the album references, but perhaps not as he intends with the title; like a singer without a song, Davis is a top-notch producer without a worthwhile production. He has made a fine record with plenty of great sounds for the heads, but he has been doing that for more than 10 years. He has the talent and the connections to take it to another level, and while The Outsider has plenty of great tracks, in the end it perhaps falls short of being a great album with the lasting power that Davis' talents merit. Well worth a listen, and perhaps the album will serve as a calling card for Davis, as it amply demonstrates his range and talent, and beckons any great songwriter without a producer to make a call. [JM]








"Broad Daylight (BBC Session)"

The cover of Free's self-titled second album depicts a nude female form leaping overhead. But instead of flesh against the gorgeous clouded blue sky above, her frame is filled with a starry night. It's a very memorable and classic album cover for an essential recording by a band who unfortunately, thanks to infomercial CD comps featuring the monster hit "All Right Now," many music enthusiasts may have missed. Indeed, the group found short-lived fame with their third release, Fire and Water, the mainstream hard hitter (and grandpappy of Bad Company) that overshadowed the soulful, folksy R&B and sophisticated songwriting of Free. This is not really a hard rock record, though it has gritty, blooozy bass lines, and cock rockish ("I'll give you everything/'cept my guitar and my car, woman") lyricism delivered in a raunchy wail, with Brit-blues expertise by Paul Rodgers. Free's eponymous album is a bubbling stew of mid-tempo blues, swampy lethargic strut and haunting folk balladry. A slew of bonus tracks, singles, alternate takes and BBC session tracks make this reissue a solid experience, sure to change the mind of anyone ready to dismiss a '70s mainstream rock band. Lend an ear and you will hear directly the influence Free had on many of the contemporary blues-folk-dirge-psych bands making music today. [NL]








Underground Classics

"You Can't Stop the Prophet" feat Jeru the Damaja
"Boston" feat Edo G.

Underground Classics is just that, a collection of tracks, circa 1994 to 2004, that Pete Rock gave his signature production to. Compiler Amir Abdullah (of the DJ duo Kon & Amir) gathers some of his favorite Rock classics and features groups like the UN, INI, Gang Starr, Jeru, Edo G., and his main partner C.L. Smooth. No surprises but a nice selection for those that missed the 12-inches, bootlegs and self-releases throughout the years. This one's for those that remember the '90s and those that long to catch up. Includes his beloved remix of Jeru the Damaja's "You Can't Stop the Prophet." More than a backpack full of beats and rhymes, think of this as a tribute compilation to the legendary Pete Rock. Includes beathead liner notes for each song by Amir. [DG]







Still Point of Turning
(Bubble Core)


Relay founder and frontman Jeff Zeigler is a longtime studio engineer who has worked with the likes of the Swirlies, perhaps explaining the group's uncanny version of heavy shoegaze drone, with layers of guitar, analog synth and rhythm meticulously assembled into shimmering, psychedelic pop.







Give Me a Wall


After much hype in the UK with their numerically titled singles ("Nine" and "Thirteen" were radio hits there), ¡Forward Russia! releases their full-length debut. Post-punk, math-rock, dance-rock, the band packs it all into their staccato anthems, combining elements of Bloc Party and the Rapture with their own skewed aggression.








For Lovers, Dreamers and Me

"Love Endeavor"

Brooklyn native Alice Smith's long-awaited debut is a curious affair. Almost sounding as if it came from another time and place, it's one of those "they don't make it like this anymore" kind of things. She carries herself with a brash swagger that reminds me of Betty Davis, and has the world weary sensitivity of Nina Simone; and Smith has the lungs to back it all up. From rough, guttural soul scorchers to quasi-'80s power ballads, and over to smoldering R&B torch songs, there is not much subtlety to her music but that is her strength. It's all about that voice, at times unapologetically sentimental, other times stridently confident and strangely familiar all at once. And the production is just right: tough yet sparse enough to complement with just the right amount of embellishment when needed. Oh yeah, she puts on a pretty damn good live show as well. [GA]









"Ice Cream Van"

Now available on vinyl, Fusetron has just issued Excepter's latest album, Alternation, on double LP with a gatefold sleeve. In case you missed our review of the album when it was released in CD format back in July, here's what we wrote:

Curious bunch, this New York City-based entity known as Excepter. Never mind the fact that one of the band members is an Other Music co-worker/friend of mine, in any past instant that I've written about this group, I've probably spent more time scratching my head than typing. So along comes their new album that many are hailing as Excepter's proper debut. And indeed, with Alternation we do find the band displaying a sort of focus that their previous work has eschewed, reeling in their often free form noise approach for something more linear.

Case in point, the record's third track, the creepy electro-dub "The Rock Stepper," which, say if someone like Maurice Fulton got their hands dirty doing a remix of, could be this year's "Let's Get Sick." It's not that the Excepter dudes are strangers to dance beats, but here their sinister funk deconstructions are reconstituted into forward -- albeit still discordant -- moving tracks. During "Ice Cream Van, former No-Necker J. F. Ryan's stoned musings are more upfront in the mix, playing nicely with the gurgled one-finger keyboard melodies. We're not talking electro-pop, however. Throughout Alternation, it's hard to listen to echo-plexed vocal chants and mechanic drum machine whirs without drawing a line that goes back three decades to pre-industrialists like Throbbing Gristle or even Pop Group's avant moments. It's ever-present here with the same sense of experimentation and adventurism, but I'll be damned. Excepter not only side-steps the whole regurgitation thing, they wholly own it, creating a singular sound that exists in the now. [GH]




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[GA] Geoff Albores
[AB] Adrian Burkholder
[DG] Daniel Givens
[HG] Hartley Goldstein
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[MK] Michael Klausman
[AK] Andreas Knutsen
[NL] Nicole Lang
[JM] Josh Madell
[DM] Doug Mosurock
[SM] Scott Mou

- all of us at Other Music

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