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   July 9, 2008  
       
   
 
 





  TUNE IN FOR OTHER MUSIC ON EAST VILLAGE RADIO
Set your cyber-dial to East Village Radio every Monday afternoon, from 4 to 6PM, when Other Music takes over the Internet airwaves. Every week staff members play an eclectic mix of tunes, including lots of artists featured on recent Other Music Updates. And if you aren't near your computer to hear our show live, the programs are archived for your listening pleasure. Just click on over to the Other Music page on the East Village Radio website. You can listen to the most recent show here.


 
   
       
   
         
 
FEATURED NEW RELEASES
Twi the Humble Feather
Abe Vigoda
Leila
Basic Channel
Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog
Crystal Stilts
Monolake
Janek Schaefer
Sugar Minott
Brothers Unlimited
Well Hung: Funk Rock Eruptions from Beneath Communist Hungary
Ratatat
Sir Victor Uwaifo
A-Square Of Course (Various)
 

ALSO AVAILABLE
Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour 2
Beck
Melvins
Patti Smith & Kevin Shields
Albert Hammond Jr.

BACK IN PRINT
A Certain Ratio

BACK IN STOCK
El Guincho
Tommy Jay


All of this week's new arrivals.

 
         
   
   
   
   
   
       
   
 
 
JUL Sun 06 Mon 07 Tues 08 Wed 09 Thurs 10 Fri 11 Sat 12



  WIN TICKETS TO THE HONEST JON'S REVUE FEATURING DAMON ALBARN, TONY ALLEN & MORE
This Saturday, July 12th, Damon Albarn will be presenting the Honest Jon's Revue at Avery Fisher Hall as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Featuring artists from his Honest Jon's label, the festivities will be a musical "chop up" of solo and collaborative performances from Tony Allen, Afel Bocoum, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Kokanko Sata, Simone White, Lobi Traore, Victoria Williams and, of course, Mr. Albarn himself. Other Music has two pairs of tickets up for grabs to this great night of music, along with an autographed concert shirt for each winner! So enter right away by emailing enter@othermusic.com; we'll be notifying the two winners on Friday.

SATURDAY, JULY 12 (8PM) @ LINCOLN CENTER (AVERY FISHER HALL): Corner of Columbus Avenue and 65th Street NYC

 
   
   
 
 
JUL Sun 13 Mon 14 Tues 15 Wed 16 Thurs 17 Fri 18 Sat 19



  JUST SAY YES TO WAR ON DRUGS TICKETS
You might have heard us raving about the War on Drugs' impressive amalgamation of classic rock and modern indie rock on their new album, Wagonwheel Blues. You can hear influences as far and wide as Springsteen and the Animal Collective, yet the whole thing is brilliantly cohesive and listenable from start to finish. The Philly band will be stopping through NYC this Sunday, playing at the Mercury Lounge, and we've got a pair of tickets to give away to one winner. You know the drill, just email us at contest@othermusic.com and we'll be picking the winner this Friday, July 11.
SUNDAY, JULY 13 @ MERCURY LOUNGE: 217 East Houston Street NYC

 
   
   
 
 
JUL Sun 13 Mon 14 Tues 15 Wed 16 Thurs 17 Fri 18 Sat 19



  WIN TICKETS "4" DUNGEN
One of Sweden's finest psychedelic exports, Dungen have just finished their new album, 4, and will be in New York City next Tuesday, July 15, to make a special appearance at Le Poisson Rouge. The night will kick off at 8PM with the new record playing during a cocktail hour, and then at 9PM Dungen will play a live set featuring some of their new songs. This will be their only show in the States until October, and needless to say it will be a very intimate performance. There are only 50 tickets available to the general public but we've got two pairs to give away! To enter, send an email to tickets@othermusic.com. We'll be notifying the two winners on Friday, July 11. Good luck!

TUESDAY, JULY 15 @ LE POISSON ROUGE: 158 Bleecker Street NYC
$10 Advance Tickets Available Only at Other Music
Each ticket includes a free drink / Extremely Limited

 
   
       
   

 

 

     
 

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  TWI THE HUMBLE FEATHER
Music for Spaceships and Forests
(Friendly Ghost)

"Adventures of Castle One"
"Finale"

One of the great joys of being an avid music listener is hearing a record that seems to make everything stop, that seems so new and so fully formed that it is hard to believe it could have come into being without anyone noticing. The kind of record that has you looking around and saying to yourself, "What is this and why haven't I heard this before?" Twi the Humble Feather -- the improbable name of the band at hand -- has made such a record. In fact, Twi (rhymes with "why") has been quietly toiling away on this little gem of an album for the last several years, playing increasingly frequent, intimate shows in New York City and Brooklyn to unsuspecting gatherings of people who undoubtedly find themselves asking the aforementioned questions. Less like songs than a continuous 25 minute composition in five movements, Music for Spaceships and Forests was made with the relatively modest means of three voices, two nylon string guitars, a steel string and a few subtle electronic sounds. But there is so much exuberance, clarity and openness to this music that the means of its facture -- and the personalities of its makers -- seem to fall away, leaving only the well-lit, pattern-like trails of phasing arpeggios, angelic, often wordless choral harmonies and warm, womb-like silences. The record has a certain purity to it and even its densest moments are executed with such harmonious precision that they provide the listener with a seemingly infinite amount of space for discovering new things to hear. Though harmony is the unifying substance of this music --whether it be in the classically-inspired, contrapuntal guitar inventions that propel these pieces forward or the choir-like vocal arrangements that seem to coalesce and vanish at will like some kind of cosmic ether -- the pieces move along with an irresistible sense of rhythm, usually created by catchy strum patterns, bell-like harmonics and an unlikely but wholly successful use of vocal percussion. A lot of times it seems like these guys are imitating wind or pounding rain with their voices -- and having a great time doing it -- and the sparingly used swathes of electronics and field recordings of birds and natural sounds also contribute to this sense of both the otherworldly and the earthly idyllic.

That Twi will shoulder comparisons to Animal Collective is somewhat inevitable, but there is a vast world of musical strains of influence present here -- including everything from baroque and flamenco guitar music to the phasing patterns of Philip Glass and Steve Reich to the minimalist by way of early music choral works of Arvo Part -- that are much more instructive in pointing to a musical trajectory that is entirely this band's own. A classical sense of composition and discipline are central to the music here, but fortunately Twi has the good sense to put precision at the service of what can only be described as a totally unpretentious and intuitive commitment to making enjoyable music. Though totally different sonically, in the sense of the happy commingling of the esoteric and the folk (and I use that word in reference to its most literal, essential definition as opposed to the genre that bears the same name), a comparison to Joanna Newsom's first album, The Milk-Eyed Mender, might be another appropriate contemporary touchstone. But whereas Newsom's records seem more concerned with a radical transmutation of the antiquated, Music for Spaceships and Forests is a resolutely forward-looking album; and having just polished off a string of dates with Jose Gonzalez and as the buzz about them grows on the blogs and boards, the future looks bright indeed. It's been a long time since I've heard a record as unabashedly full of joy and generosity of spirit as this and the fact that it is a debut is great cause for rejoice. I cannot recommend it highly enough. [CC]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  ABE VIGODA
Skeleton
(PPM)

"Dead City / Waste Wilderness"
"Cranes"

It continues to amaze me that tropical pop is the chosen mixer for today's underground DIY punk scene, and that these two seemingly disparate elements blend so well. A few young visionaries are channeling their angst through sublime guitar hooks, tightly-stretched tom-toms, and pretty, reverb-drenched singing. This isn't to suggest that Abe Vigoda's new record is an easy snooze through Margaritaville; Skeleton is packed with pummeled drums and kamikaze bass lines -- a manic obstacle course through every possible emotion. The 30-minute album, though packed to the brim with two-minute tropical rippers, is less abrasive than their previous two full-lengths, including their debut, Sky Route/Star Roof, a vinyl-only release which also found a home on current label PPM, run by Dean Spunt of No Age. Could Abe Vigoda be living the dream? A group of four gung-ho young best friends who have barely ever played with anyone else, write straight from the heart, put out great records over which they have artistic input, and play live at an ever-changing circuit of raging West Coast house parties, barbeques, and illegal DIY spaces.

Skeleton swings between perfect, barked-out, smokin' hi-hat pop and fuzzed-out, ambient art-world meditations like "Whatever Forever," reminiscent of the mellow hypnotics of LA buddies No Age. From the opening cymbal crashes of "Dead City/Waste Wilderness," listeners are bombarded by a catchy package laden with the scream-along appeal of Japanther and Matt & Kim, the brutal, skate-tastic cacophony of Numbers and Eric Copeland, and the flooding, complex, schizophrenic sounds of Gang Gang Dance, Atlas Sound, and Ecstatic Sunshine. Skeleton is a multi-faceted diamond, cathartic yet laid back -- one of the top killer pop albums of the year! [KS]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  LEILA
Blood, Looms & Blooms
(Warp)

"Mollie"
"Lush Dolphins"

Throughout the 1990s, electronic producer Leila proved to be one of the more interesting if slightly odd sleeper stars of the electronic scene. She may be remembered as one of the many hidden figures behind Bjork's Debut and Post (and she is currently touring with her) or the only soul-influenced voice on the Rephlex and/or the odd one out on XL. With her third full length, Blood, Looms & Blooms, Leila joins the ever-expanding Warp roster and is reintroduced to the world eight years since her previous outing. Pretty much picking up where she last left us, her new album is a mix of Massive Attack, Aphex Twin, Portishead, Plaid, and Danny Elfman. Leila's electronic soundscapes have a fairytale quality to them, created from her clear, almost childlike sense of imagination and wonderment, and are brought to life through rich layers of synths, skittering, spacious and bouncing digital rhythms and an arsenal of samples and soundtrack moodiness. Blood, Looms & Blooms also recalls the simpler days of the past decade, with a wink to the 1920s and 1940s as well, yet it's all fresh and updated with the use of new software and gear. The different singers that she cast are almost like characters within a play, providing a wide range of drama and emotion. Mainstays like Roya Arab, Leila's sister, and Luca Santucci continue to be the voices of the project, but it's the three songs with Terry Hall and Martina Topley Bird (two solo, then one together) that ties Leila to the work of nu old-school leftfield visionary Tricky. There are some great moments here that would appeal to an array of listeners, from fans of CocoRosie ("The Exotics" and "Lush Dolphins") and Portishead ("Time to Blow"), to Goldfrapp ("Deflect") and even M.I.A. ("Little Acorns"); but it's all coming from a more unique and experimental place. Blood, Looms & Blooms is a surprisingly accomplished and varied return from a continually original producer. Guess it's true; trip-hop is due for a comeback. Who knew? [DG]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  BASIC CHANNEL
BCD 2
(Basic Channel)

"Inversion"
"Octagon"

Over the years, German producers Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus have been endlessly influential in shaping the directions of modern techno and experimental electronic music. Be it in their seminal Chain Reaction label (which released landmark material from the likes of Vladislav Delay, Monolake, and Porter Ricks), the great releases they've presided over as Maurizio and Rhythm & Sound, or the stellar Wackies reissue program they have been working on for a number of years, Von Oswald and Ernestus have created a dub-inflected pulse felt around the world. The most notable of all their efforts, however, is Basic Channel, the beat that started it all in the early 90s with a series of singles that almost single-handedly redefined techno.

While edits and exclusive versions of the tracks on these records have been available as a compact disc throughout the years, the stunning full-length pieces have remained a strictly vinyl proposition. Now, however, Basic Channel presents a second compact disc compilation, this one collecting six full-length tracks culled from the original run of singles. Making their debut in the digital format, tracks like "Enforcement" and "Phylyps Trak" show where it all began for these two, as they took reverberant bass lines and mixed them with endlessly repetitive percussive patterns to create epic, transcendental pieces. Though the music contained here represents only a fraction of what was on those original Basic Channel singles, it's still a valuable collection, one worthy of introducing new fans to the sound and providing the long faithful with a refresher course. [MC]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  MARC RIBOT'S CERAMIC DOG
Party Intellectuals
(Pi Recordings)

"Digital Handshake"
"Break on Through"

When I listen to Marc Ribot, whether it is with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, John Zorn, or in his own groups, it occurs to me that this is the way a guitar is meant to be played. Then I read reviews of Ribot's output where critics use words like "schizophrenic", "crazed", and "antics", each holding connotations that there is something pathological or wrong with his playing. I am even guilty of referring to his lines as "bizarro". The truth is that a large chunk of his style follows a line from Monk to Ayler to Ornette, all artists who had been referred to as nuts throughout their careers. Well, I'm through with reducing a player's creative output to a psychosis. Instead, I'm going to just use Dave Chappell's more fitting line to describe Ribot and his new CD, Party Intellectuals: "This is the most ballinest s**t ever!"

With Ceramic Dog, Ribot has perhaps assembled his most formidable and ferocious band yet. With bassist/synth manipulator Shahzad Ismaily (Will Oldham, Secret Chiefs 3) and drummer Ches Smith (Xiu Xiu, Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant, Secret Chiefs 3), we hear a side of Ribot that we haven't quite experienced before. Despite kicking the record off with a Doors' (least ballinest band ever!) cover, Ceramic Dog shows consistent inspiration and gusto on Party Intellectuals. Much ground is covered here: there is deconstruction, an equitable mix of vocal and instrumental numbers, aural commentary on the MySpace phenomenon, accessible and challenging, funky grooves, out noise experimenting, the soundtrack for an imaginary video game, Latin-tinged jams, moody space jams, subtlety, but above all else, ROCK. Case in point, the infectious riff on "Midost" will not be leaving my head any time soon. Two other high points on the disc are back to back: the sassy jet setting lyrics set to super-catchy funky groove of "Todo El Mundo Es Kitsch" and the AMM fronted by Jandek doing surprisingly coherent and poignant spoken-word reminiscence of the good ole days sounds of "When We Were Young and We Were Freaks."

On Party Intellectuals, Ribot and Co. certainly cut loose, but from what I understand, their live show is an exponentially increased testament to that fact. In fact, if you were even remotely interested in a certain band that they recently shared the bill with called Deerhoof, you'd be doing yourself a big disservice by not buying this CD immediately. Highest possible recommendation! [KC]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  CRYSTAL STILTS
Crystal Stilts
(Woodsist)

"Crippled Croon"
"Lights"

Woodsist has conveniently combined the out of print debut 7" and the self-released 12" by our favorite Brooklyn band, Crystal Stilts, onto a CD. 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. [AK]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  MONOLAKE
Hongkong - Remastered
(Monolake)

"Cyan"
"Macau"

Monolake's first collection of EPs for Chain Reaction (a/k/a their first album) remastered and reissued on their own label. These have been out of print for ages to the point of misleading many to believe that Monolake have only been redoing the same dubby techno house album for the last seven years or so with occasional forays into drum and bass. Alas, it's not true! Upon hearing it again, I've come to the conclusion that these tracks have just been curing in their wooden casks for all this time. They've become another animal altogether. Most techno of the mid to late 90s onward, including later Monolake releases, are decidedly more "synthetic" sounding than this stuff. There is a strong sense of place/atmosphere within these tracks. The remastering (by Rashad Becker) has done a great service by manicuring the click-iness and bringing out the damp/dank, wet-lizard-on-a-palm-frond atmosphere. (Kudos to Henke, Behles and Becker for doing it RIGHT!) I've said the same, jungle atmosphere-wise, about Gas' Pop album, but in comparison, Pop is the jungle on a high definition TV, while Monolake has the analog advantage that gives it more of a sense of "being there." (Also, while Gas is about the layers, Hongkong is about the sounds plus absolutely skillful composition and arrangement.) In contrast to the jungle vibe, the use of field recordings from Hong Kong and Guangzhou also give the tracks an urban rhythmic pulse. This touchstone was "minimal" for its day, but despite its depth and economy, there is PLENTY going on -- like most Basic Channel/Chain Reaction releases.

On "Cyan," birdcalls ebb and flow throughout, the beat sounding like a trudge through underbrush, synth melodies bubble up here and there while we are thrown back into the imagery with the occasional sound of a huge wet tropical fern being brushed out of the way. Cuts like "Lantau," with its medium-speed, dubby, tropical bounce, remind us of a time when tracks didn't have to be 120 BPMs or more to be considered DJ-friendly. The quality of the song makes the convention seem even more foolish than it already is. Most importantly, hearing these cuts point out the current absence of tracks with a visual quality and distinct character. Sure, there was less competition then and more ground still to be explored -- but these tracks are a good example of how it can be done simply and effectively. This stuff, Monolake's best IMO, resurrects the notion of techno's ability as a medium to create space. In Michael Klausman terms: this is like the techno version of the Hired Hand soundtrack or Near Young Tatami Bear Rug reissues. Essential!! [SM]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  JANEK SCHAEFER
Extended Play [Triptych for the child survivors of war and conflict]
(Line)

"Extended Play Vinyl Violen Duo"
"Extended Play Radio Jodoform"

Though he's worked in territory similar to the likes of Philip Jeck and Stephan Mathieu (with whom he has collaborated), held an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, and toured the globe as a performer, lecturer, and exhibitor, British sound artist Janek Schaefer still seems like more of an unknown entity than he really should be. At work in some capacity since the mid-1990s, Schaefer has created a consistently engaging body of work that, more often than not, focuses on the relationship between sound and the spaces it both inhabits and creates. For Extended Play, Schaefer created an installation that focused on a score for piano, violin, and cello, with each part recorded separately and pressed onto to vinyl to be played at varying speeds throughout a gallery on record players that would stop in accordance with foot traffic throughout the space.

The first three tracks here wind through the individual instrumental passages themselves, allowing plenty of open space and warm vinyl crackle in between each sparsely placed note and chord. It's beautiful, haunting stuff, but the real keeper here is "Extended Play -- Acoustic Ensemble," a stunning reworking of the original gallery installation that presents the three instrumental components in context, with each melodic phrase doubling back on itself while dropping in and out of the mix. More than one of Schaefer's best works, Extended Play is easily one of 2008's best releases to explore the intersections of experimental electronics and modern composition. Highly recommended. [MC]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  SUGAR MINOTT
Dance Hall Showcase Vol. II
(Wackies)

"Informout"
"Dread A Mi Idren"

In the new issue of Stop Smiling Magazine, Snoop Dogg lays a pop quiz on the unsuspecting interviewer, asking him to name the dancehall singer that Snoop has rattling in his trailer. Lest you find yourself in such a predicament, best brush up on your Sugar Minott. Another heavy and concise set of showcases (the song plus the attendant dub) from Minott are on display here, backed as always with the Wackies house band. And this set actually dovetails nicely with our review of Jah Batta's single a few weeks back, which was set atop Minott's version of "Informer." For the non-wax fiends out there, that Batta/Little John single is also present here. [AB]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  BROTHERS UNLIMITED
Who's for the Young?
(Fallout)

"A Change Is Going to Come"
"Life Dreams Death"

I've had it up to here with the deep funk collector scene, and tons of mediocre records being hyped as the best and rarest and rawest (not that it's specific to just that collector scene...), but this Brothers Unlimited reissue is really great. Fourteen-man strong, the Brothers burst onto the Memphis scene in 1968 and cut Who's for the Young (even though it was a major label release, this'll still set all you trustfunkers back about $750 on eBay) in 1970. Metronomically tight drumming, percolating organ, and Hendrix-influenced fuzz guitar dominate the proceedings, with a nice Memphis Horns/Muscle Shoals sound to boot, and while all the originals are excellent, the psych-tinged cover of Willie Dixon's blues classic, "Spoonful," takes top honors here. Brothers Unlimited come across as a pro version of Black Merda at times, but mostly they are just one super sweet Southern funk ensemble. Get with a good thing! [AK]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Well Hung: Funk Rock Eruptions from Beneath Communist Hungary
(Finders Keepers)

"Egy Iany nem ment haza" Omega Redstar
"A Bolond Lany" Illes

Andy Votel and company never stop their commendable digging efforts, unearthing wild rock, psych, and breaks from the most unlikely of territories. This time they focus on the freak scene in Hungary, from behind the Iron Curtain in the '60s and '70s. It all centers around a youth culture slaking their thirst for the freedom piped in from the West, and the many ways in which they were able to manipulate their rigid government to endorse their musical efforts, even if the Politburo would later come down hard on many of its practitioners. If you've been following the Finders Keepers/B-Music script, you've likely encountered the wild sounds of singer Sarolta Zalatnay already, as well as tracks by Illes, Piramis and Locomotiv GT. They're all repped on Well Hung, along with plenty of side projects, collaborations, and lesser-known acts, beltin' like Janis and groovin' like Traffic in defiance of the Big Red Machine. A girthy 78 minutes of immense breaks, fuzz-wah conniptions, and uncut rock, funk, and progressive sounds, largely uncollected and given the proper historical framing in liners by Votel and Zalatnay herself. You'll need both hands to manage this one! [DM]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  RATATAT
LP3
(XL)

"Shriller"
"Imperials"

Ratatat doesn't mix words. On their third LP (entitled LP3), the Brooklyn-based duo makes only minor tweaks to their eclectically yet exclusively instrumental formula. If you're unfamiliar with their motif, think Mars Volta performing orchestrally informed guitar harmonies through a Super Nintendo sound system. If you are familiar with their onomatopoetic style, prepare for an evolved record that is alternatively more focused and more experimental than either of their two previous full-lengths. This time around, guitarist Mike Stroud and keyboard-based sound guru Evan Mast take cues from cultures as diverse as India and Jamaica while maintaining their steady balance of 8-bit soul and guitar hero-esque euphoric riffs. Mast's internationally informed post hip-hop production style is starting to sound less like fellow occasional rap remixer Four Tet and more like Timbaland due to some effective Middle Eastern moments. In fact, each of LP3's 13 tracks are explorations unto themselves, whether the subject explored is a genre (dub on "Flynn"), an instrument (the tabla on "Mi Viejo"), or a mood (whimsy on "BruleƩ"). Within this framework, their sound is powerful but never assertive, rather it is a sort of experience enhancer adaptable to nearly any concurrent activity. Equally well-suited to a raucous dance party as to a session with Super Mario, this potent soundtrack will transform even the most quotidian trip to the market into an epic adventure. Conversely, the group's open-ended soundscapes require some work on the part of the listener, which will leave some searching for more instant gratification. If you're a multi-tasker and your daily duties require a little fire in the proverbial pan, give this record a listen and trust Mast and Stroud's dramatically tinged synthesized compositions to simply amplify your existence. [MG]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  SIR VICTOR UWAIFO
Guitar Boy Superstar
(Soundway)

"Kirikisi"
"Ebibi"

The curators at Soundway really struck gold when they began digging up all sorts of variegated vinyl slabs from down in Nigeria. And it's paying handsome dividends in 2008 for open-eared listeners. The High Life 2CD set from earlier this year is one of the most stellar African comps period, and the follow-up Rock and Disco sets weren't too shabby either. Now the label follows all that up with a handy one-disc overview of guitar dandy Sir Victor Uwaifo. If the sight of the young African pork-chopped guitarist bedecked in a white jumpsuit tearing into his Fender on the front cover doesn't draw you in, the 19 tracks will. For us in the west, Uwaifo was a heavy on the Nigerian scene, his trajectory including poetry, sculpture, ambassador, and even Commissioner for Culture! This set documents Uwaifo's return to his home of Benin City after a stay in Lagos spent absorbing the musical culture there. Searing leads, tough chops, playful tugs at the polyrhythms, and all other sorts of six-stringed incandescence are on display throughout. [AB]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  VARIOUS ARTISTS
A-Square (Of Course)
(Big Beat)

"She Is a Friend" The Rain
"Love to Love" The Thyme

Fantastic overview of Michigan garage, R&B, rock, and psychedelic acts from the years that mattered for this sort of thing. Every group and recording presented here -- both sides of the MC5's unbelievable first single, the Scot Richard Case (later SRC), the Up, the Apostles, the Prime Movers (featuring the first existing document of one James Osterberg, later Iggy Pop, on vocals), the Thyme, the Bossmen (later the Frost, also repped here), and more -- were managed, produced, booked, had released records by, or otherwise were affiliated with the late Jeep Holland, teen titan of Michigan music, and his A-Square label. Detailed liner notes tell Jeep's story through example and remembrance of those close to him, chronicling his thankless efforts in putting bands from Detroit's satellite towns, like Ann Arbor, on the map. While the presence of Scott Morgan's Rationals is missed here (Big Beat is working on a discography of their hard-charging A-Square sides), the selection, including thirteen un-issued tracks, is a boon to completists, and will no doubt open eyes not yet familiar with Michigan rock dominance. Furthermore, it frames the life of a true rock obsessive, and the groundwork he laid for these bands, as the template for so many other independent labels that managed to put dents in the machine. Crucial for the MC5 tracks alone, but there's so much more to this compilation than just those highlights. Outstanding stuff! [DM]
 
         
   
   
   
       
   

 

 

     
 

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  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour 2
(Chrome Dreams)

"Forty Cups of Coffee" Ella Mae Morse
"Pink Cadillac" Sammy Masters

The second best-of installment featuring highlights from Bob Dylan's "Theme Time Radio Hour" on Sirius, where he showcases his vast collection of early American music (ragtime jazz, old country, blues, novelty and show tunes) with various themes that tie the songs together. It's all excellent, but then again, how could it not be.
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  BECK
Modern Guilt
(DGC)

"Walls"
"Orphans"

The eternal teenager is back with another album, produced by man of the hour, Danger Mouse (a/k/a one half of Gnarls Barkley), this time around. As has been Beck's standard of late, Modern Guilt is suitably apocalyptic in its lyrical outlook (still playful and smart, though) but the production is not. Danger Mouse turns the Technicolor psych knob to 11 with great results; fuzz guitars mix with funky beats and swirls of percussion to create some sort of twisted, end of the world dance party.
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  MELVINS
Nude with Boots
(Ipecac)

"The Smiling Cobra"
"The Kicking Machine"

Buzzo and Crover, with two Big Business (and more importantly, Karp) dudes in tow, give you Nude with Boots, the difficult 19th album. Solid it is, with reborn Houdini/Stoner Witch-like boogie swagger and delicious sludge molasses, and it proves A Senile Animal was no fluke. It's back to summer school for the stoner upstarts, with your third rate St. Vitus/Pentagram worship, for the Melvins have returned. Evil hoodoo never sounded better.
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

$19.99
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$15.99 MP3

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  PATTI SMITH & KEVIN SHIELDS
The Coral Sea
(PASK)

Untitled 3
Untitled 2

Punk goddess Patti Smith and My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields teamed up in 2005-06 up to perform The Coral Sea, Smith's homage to photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. On this, the first legitimate release of the piece, Shields provides a haunting backing, consisting of guitar and effects, to Smith's intense and heartfelt prose; the poem tells the story of M (Mapplethorpe) on a final voyage to see the stars of the Southern Cross before he dies.
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

$13.99
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$24.99 LP

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  ALBERT HAMMOND JR.
Como te Llama
(Black Seal)

"Bargain of a Century"
"You Won't Be Fueled"

Nice batch of songs here, as Strokes guitar player Albert Hammond Jr. releases album number two. Como te Llama briefly flirts with African guitar lines and reggae rhythms, quite successfully, but guitar pop is the order of the day here, as Hammond combines his already proven chops on that instrument with Clash and Bowie worship. Nothing revolutionary but neither was the first Strokes album, and remember how much you loved it?
 
         
   
       
   

 

 

     
 

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  A CERTAIN RATIO
Early
(Soul Jazz)

"The Fox"
"Do the Du (John Peel Session, 1979)"

Back in print, Soul Jazz Records' absolutely essential compilation of A Certain Ratio's groundbreaking recordings from 1978 to 1985. The deadpan industrial funk of ACRs "Shack Up" kick-started the label's equally essential comp In the Beginning There Was Rhythm, a collection which contextualized this unique blend of politicized British industrial sound and dance/funk styles gleaned from northern soul, reggae and American urban music. The scope and scale of Early cashes in on the sonic promises of this same infectious groove and unsettling atmospheric sound, revealing a startlingly original collection of classic post-punk masterpieces. ACR was one of Factory Records' first artists, weaving the legendary label's signature of hard-edged industrial sounds and melancholy, infused with the high-speed urban energy of dance music. They shared their rehearsal space with Joy Division, cultivated the budding musical output of NYC's ESG, played out with the Human League, and generally rode the creative tidal wave of post-punk Manchester alongside fellow innovators like the Pop Group, Throbbing Gristle and 23 Skidoo. This combination is breathtaking and sounds as fresh today as it must have almost thirty years ago.

Disc one's tracks, pulled from the group's first two albums (both produced by Factory engineer/guru Martin Hannett), take full advantage of the alarmingly disjointed collision of industrial and dance (and later, Latin and disco). Utilizing these disparate sensibilities, ACR created driving, atmospheric and infectious songs that would become underground classics and would spawn the sounds of many of Manchester's future heroes, from New Order to the Happy Mondays. The second disc of Early contains 11 songs culled from such fertile ephemera as Peel sessions, alternate takes and cassette-only releases, plus a 1980 recorded video of the group's first appearance in New York. From the 1979 Peel Session version of ACR's first song "All Night Party" -- ass-kickingly hard yet simultaneously danceable anthem -- to the disco-fied organ and percussion jam "Si Fermir O Grido," the band's relentless energy and breathtaking explorations are only further exposed. Not to be missed! [MC]
 
         
   
       
   

 

 

     
 

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  EL GUINCHO
Alegranza
(Discoteca Oceano)


When listening to the opening notes of El Guincho's (a/k/a Pablo Diaz Reixa) Alegranza you know that you are hearing something truly special. It is one of those albums whose influences are so vast and plentiful that it is both disorienting and utterly beautiful at the same time. Alegranza is filled with calypso drums, tropicalia beats, Krautrock synths, exotica rhythms, African highlife guitars, chanting vocals and much, much more. Reixa wraps all of these influences in a sampledelic package that is mind-blowing. Opening track "Palmitos Park" is a steel drum-driven monster of a song that is guaranteed to have you smiling before the one-minute mark, and at just under two-and-a-half minutes it will have you reaching for the repeat button before you have even listened to the album all the way through. And it just doesn't stop there because as soon as you have comprehended what you have just heard, "Antillas" storms in with its African guitar line and repetitive carnival beat. Then when it seems that it is all going to collapse, in comes Reixa's trademark chanting vocal, holding down the melody. It is as if Ricardo Villalobos composed an entire track of African and Brazilian samples. "Fata Morgana" comes on like a track from one of 2007's best albums, Panda Bear's Person Pitch. It begins with distorted synths that flow between speakers, and an ultra-melodic Beach Boys vocal that will have you making comparisons to Panda, before it all crashes together; tin pan percussion wails you in the stomach and something resembling a kazoo (maybe?) comes cascading in, reminding you of childhood birthday parties. Sound crazy? Well, yes in the most beautiful, childlike way possible. "Kalise" is a true gem, and that chorus, with it's "a la la ay, a la la oh" chant. Yes, that one...the one that will have you jumping out of your seat, singing and dancing with a grin from ear to ear. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent listening to this album since I first received it. There has not been one record in a very long time that has brought this much joy to our staff and customers alike. Everybody who hears this album is intrigued, consumed, and mesmerized. It is only February but Alegranza is hands down one of the finest releases of the year. Essential indeed! [JS]
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

$11.99
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  TOMMY JAY
Tall Tales of Trauma
(Columbus Discount)

Tommy Jay appeared on the seldom-seen but well-loved Columbus, Ohio "all-star" recording by Ego Summit, joined by Mike Rep, Ron House, Don Howland and the late Jim Shepard. He'd also played alongside Nudge Squidfish and as a member of Mike Rep & the Quotas. But outside of that, his work has been sorely under-documented, until now. This reissue of a cassette, released in an edition of a few dozen copies almost twenty years ago, reveals Jay as a secret weapon from a place already teeming with an underheard arsenal, the same voices who recognized the early genius of Guided by Voices and pushed that group reluctantly into the spotlight. It's remarkable that virtually none of this music -- not anything by Jay's late '70s outfit the True Believers, not tracks recorded in 1974 that predate the comeback of Roky Erickson in sound and spirit, not solo ruminations that recall Mayo Thompson's desert island classic Corky's Debt to His Father -- has reached a wider audience until now. Sheltered from view, Jay's body of work grew wild and unkempt, from anxious experiments with drum machines and Casios to beautifully shook, engagingly strange parlor ruminations on the unknown, windblown psychedelia, beer-bottle slide blues, and much more, all evincing a deep-seeded loneliness that carries across the twelve years represented in this collection. Fans of outsider music, Dead Moon, Roky, the Velvets (wait'll you hear Jay's expansive cover of "Ocean"), and the enduring legacy of Ohio rock as it turned to punk and new wave, your ship has come in. Easily one of the most remarkable archival discoveries in years. CD version contains eight bonus tracks for a full 70 minutes of stun. [DM]
 
         
   
   
   
   
 
   
       
   
         
  All of this week's new arrivals.

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THIS WEEK'S CONTRIBUTORS

[AB] Adrian Burkeholder
[CC] Che Chen
[MC] Matt Connors
[KC] Kevin Coultas
[MC] Michael Crumsho
[DG] Daniel Givens
[MG] Max Gray
[AK] Andreas Knutsen
[SM] Scott Mou
[DM] Doug Mosurock
[KS] Karen Soskin
[JS] Jeremy Sponder







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