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This Week's Free Song Download
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FREE SONG DOWNLOAD of "Green Vines" from Bird Show's upcoming Untitled album (out September 1 on Kranky). Ben Vida (Town & Country) embarks on trip number three and it's a warm, droning excursion, with an apparent world influence in the form of wooden percussion instruments, bells, and gongs. Ambient passages and field recordings sit next to more song-oriented psychedelia, and it all adds up to something unique and essential, and a natural extension of the Chicago experimental scene.
This Week's Featured Downloads
A Street Called Straight
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A Street Called Straight is perhaps one of the more fully lost "lost albums". The sole output of Kansas City native Jeff Eubank, this platter of light-rock AM gold was recorded for the most part in the early '80s after Eubank spent a disheartening stint as an L.A. session guitarist. He managed to take some of the hazy west coast sunshine vibes back home with him, but before the record could see proper release, an unexpected pregnancy and resultant health complications for his wife put a 25 year hold on any rock and roll dreams. Pretty dark back story, but strangely fitting to the naive pop sounds made right before things got kinda bleak. The songs here are leaning less toward isolated basement genius vibes and much more like the smalltown kid too good-natured to actually make it, though he's every bit as talented as anything out there. Glorious saccharine harmonies and lush acoustic arrangements, always one toke under the line for stoner folk but one level of production short of radio schmaltz. An intensely satisfying and intimate listen, swooping from one territory to the next abruptly. The album starts in some Fred Neil via Al Stewart space and by the end is dabbling with melancholic subtly synthy psych-folk that could serve as some weird missing link between David Crosby's solo work and the Bobb Trimble records.
Robert Lester Folsom
Music and Dreams
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Recorded in '76, this private press LP came to be after Robert Lester Folsom went into a studio in Atlanta to record a demo for one song. The producer was so impressed with Folsom's tune that he encouraged him to come back and record more tracks, which resulted in Music and Dreams. Stylistically, it's straight outta the mellow gold school of '70s folk rock. CS&N, Todd Rundgren and Steve Miller are all good references, but there's also a mysterious vibe to the tunes (a la Merrell Fankhauser) and a healthy dose of yacht rock thrown in as well. Highlights include the lovely title track and the earnest ballad "Please Don't Forget Me." There's a lot of stylistic variety here, including a couple of jazzy instrumentals and a full on blast of Tom Petty-esque power pop ("Blues Stay Away"). All in all, Music and Dreams is a pretty solid and lovely album that'll appeal to fans of the aforementioned. It ain't avant/savant rock by any means, it's simply a great record that is "outside" simply by default...and that's just fine with us.
Double Sunrise Over Neptune
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William Parker's latest effort was recorded live but due to some technical difficulties it had to be revisited again the next day in a studio, and the resulting Double Sunrise Over Neptune is a melding of these two performances. In the end this turned out to be quite a good thing because what we get are two very different versions of the same track under different names ("Morning Mantra" and "Neptune's Mirror") book-ending the expansive, 27-minute "Lights of Lake George." Though both versions explore rhythmic and melodic elements of Asia and Africa, "Morning Mantra" seems to be the more compressed of the two while "Neptune's Mirror" allows for more solo space. Joined by sixteen musicians including his working quartet, a string section, an oud player and vocalist Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, the full weight of such a large ensemble gives rise to some interesting interplay between styles and disciplines. "Lights Over Lake George" seems to join seemingly disparate musical corners of the globe into a coherent and articulate collage of jazz, (Middle) Eastern and African signatures. The steady rhythm of Hamid Drake's frame drum and Parker's double bass anchor the entire song in a hypnotic state that allows various elements to swell and recede into the background. Build ups of strings, trumpet and Sangeeta's long, drawn-out Hindi vocals trade space and work to counterbalance the varied levels of tension occurring throughout. Under lesser direction this could easily get out of control, but nothing is ever allowed to meander too far out. Overall a most satisfying effort.
Hell and Highwater
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Last year, Brooklyn's Shock Cinema hinted at the dark delights to come with Our Way Is Revenge, an eight-song EP culled from material written during their first few practices. The dramatic, Siouxsie inspired vocals, driving fuzzed-out guitars, and raw production revealed a band who had one foot in the bat cave while avoiding the stereotypical cartoon goth trappings by not being afraid to rock -- moody, dark but sans the heavy eyeliner and gloom and doom. A year later comes their first proper full-length, Hell and Highwater, a surprisingly nuanced offering, the trio notching down the guitar rumble a little and using proper studios to enhance their cinematic (ahem) noir-sound. Split between sessions recorded in New York with producer Chris Coady (engineer for Blonde Redhead's 23 and Grizzly Bear's Yellow House) and in San Francisco with Fucking Champs' Tim Green (who's turned the knobs for Comets on Fire and Unwound), tracks like "Oddfellow" bring to mind the Yeah Yeah Yeahs covering a song off the Banshees' Hyaena. Here, singer Destiny Montague's voice is downright eerie, carried by Autry Fulbright's chiming, stereo-panned guitars and drummer Miyuki Furtado (ex-Roger Sisters) employing tribal, Budgie-esque tom-tom breaks in his timekeeping. The icy shuffle of "Atlas Shrugged" and the dubby, atmospheric "Mutineers Reconsidered" also reveal a new, restrained dimension for the band that we didn't hear on Our Way Is Revenge, but it doesn't mean the album is a complete departure from the propulsive post-punk of their EP; tracks like the driving album opener "Leviathan" and "Albatross" rock out like a riot grrrl in art school. Fans of the aforementioned Siouxsie and Yeah Yeah Yeahs will find much to love here, but Shock Cinema are far from derivative. A strong album debut.
Crystal Stilts EP
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A convenient digital packaging of the out of print debut 7" and the self-released 12" by one our favorite Brooklyn bands, Crystal Stilts. Here's what we said about the 12" a little while back:
Formed in Brooklyn in 2004 by two Floridians, Crystal Stilts (based around the core of singer Brad Hargett and multi-instrumentalist JB Townsend) has continued to be plagued by bad luck: busted vans, stolen gear, and tapes sitting on shelves for ages due to various unfortunate circumstances. Some three years in the making, this 12" (limited to 500 copies) finally sees the light of day on their own Feathery Tongue label, and while the wait has been too long, the rewards are endless. With primitive girl group stand-up drums and reverb-heavy and melodic surf/rockabilly-soaked guitar lines, the four songs on the EP are the perfect amalgam of the pop immediacy of C86/Flying Nun and a DIY take on the spacious '60s sounds of Spector and Nitzsche, with a little VU and Mary Chain thrown into the mix. Unstoppable.
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Best known for his skewered electro-pop, Yacht (a/k/a the Blow's Jona Bechtolt) gets the DFA treatment. Far from "See a Penny Pick It Up," "Summer Song" is a sizzling updated take on Disco Not Disco, carried by a rhythm reminiscent of the desert funk of the Clash's "Rock the Casbah," while the Party Mix of "I'm in Love with a Ripper" is a late night four-on-the-floor stomper with lots of squiggling synths that would make P&P proud. The set is rounded out by the percussive indie-dance of "It's Boring/You Can Live Anywhere You Want" that takes a surprising twist.
Hold On (Mock & Toof Remixes)
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Holy Ghost's "Hold On" is remixed by one of the UK's hottest production teams, Mock & Toof. The A-side strips away most of the '80s MTV synth-pop cues of the original, pushing the song into disco-funk territory, complete with bongos and a punchy, squelched clavichord. On the flip, Mock's Mod Mix is a lot more minimal and spacey, with laser bursts of synths shooting at the ghostly vocals.
Light in the Attic
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Now available as a download, Light in the Attic reissues a long-time Other Music favorite. Here's what we wrote about Rodriguez' Cold Fact back in 2006:
Here is yet another story of an artist oblivious to his cult status. Rodriguez was working on a building site in his native Detroit when he, some 25 years after Cold Fact was released, found out he was a star in South Africa. His music was spread via pirate radio (as he was too controversial for other mediums) and word of mouth, and the poignant protest songs struck a chord with South African youth. Despite his status there, Rodriguez remains unknown in the US and Europe.
Released in 1970 on the Sussex label (primarily known for its Bill Withers releases), Cold Fact is an amazingly accomplished protest record. Aided by session greats such as Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore, the often straightforward folk/pop songs are sprinkled with eerie electronics and string arrangements. Sixto Rodriguez's lyrics are bleak, as he tackles inner city disillusion, drug addiction, and political discontent, but his humor and intelligence prevents the record from becoming heavy-handed. Worth it for the opening salvo of the swirling, tripped-out "Sugar Man" and the fuzz-heavy "Only Good For Conversation" alone, Cold Fact delivers 10 more gems where Rodriguez proves to be Josť Feliciano, Bob Dylan and Love's Arthur Lee, all in one.
Up until 10 years ago it was widely believed Rodriguez was dead; one of the more imaginative legends told the story of how he killed himself on stage. It turned out to be false, as he was tracked down by a few avid fans in the mid-'90s, and subsequently toured South Africa, where he's now mentioned alongside Dylan and Neil Young. About time we give him some respect here too.
Make It Last Forever
Traffic Entertainment Group
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Another deep disco banger from the vaults of the P & P catalogue. This record was released to little acclaim in 1978, and apart from it being a minor Paradise Garage hit, it pretty much sank without a trace. But over the years it has become a bit of a holy grail amongst soul and disco collectors -- I saw a copy sell for $400 on eBay just last winter -- and with good reason. If you liked the smoked-out, trippy elegance of the disco masterpiece Atmosphere Strut by Cloud One, then think of Make It Last Forever as its sleazier, funkier counterpart. The songs were long hustle-style workouts, complete with Patrick Adams' trademark Moog and smoky string arrangements, but there's a slower and dirty edge to this stuff -- think Barry White production but with none of the romantic elegance. Throw in Mcghee's husky vocal stylings, complete with long orgasmic interludes that make Donna Summer sound like Kathie Lee-Gifford, and you've got a potential orgy on the dancefloor. It also includes "It Ain't No Big Thing" by Mcghee's first band Personal Touch, which was a big early hip-hop disco break record, and original versions of "Mr. Blindman" and "I'm a Love Bug," which were later reworked by Patrick Adams and Make It Last's producer Greg Carmichael under the moniker Bumble Bee Orchestra (which, come to think of it, is due for reissue as well). But I digress...this is an excellent record that deserves to be heard by anyone who loved the Cloud One reissue, and any of the aforementioned artists. Excellent stuff y'all!