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   August 18, 2010  
Nite Jewel (Exclusive Advance)
Kemialliset Ystavat
Arnaud Fleurent-Didier
The Smoke
Andy Votel (Cock Diesel Mixtape 1)
Matthew Dear
Walter Gibbons
Horsemeat Disco 2
Roy Ayers
Thomas Koner
Nick Garrie
Afro-Beat Airways (Various)
Diggin' Down Argentina (Various)


All of this week's new arrivals.

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AUG Sun 22 Mon 23 Tues 24 Wed 25 Thurs 26 Fri 27 Sat 28

Returning to the scene of the crime, the New York premiere of Burning, Vincent Moon's new concert film shot during Mogwai's three-night stand at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last April is this Tuesday, August 24 at the same club where it all happened -- the Music Hall! Tickets are still on sale, and Other Music has two pairs to give away to our readers. To enter, email tickets@othermusic.com. We'll notify the two winners on Monday, August 23.


AUG Sun 22 Mon 23 Tues 24 Wed 25 Thurs 26 Fri 27 Sat 28

There is hardly a better night of twisted international pop than the double bill of Stereo Total with opener Les Sans Culottes, two of the best and most original groups today working in the broad chanson tradition. Stereo Total have been an Other Music favorite from day one, and we are thrilled to offer our readers two pairs of tickets to this great show. Just email giveaway@othermusic.com to enter, and we'll notify the two winners on Monday, August 23.

(LE) POISSON ROUGE: 158 Bleeker Street NYC




    Many of our customers have been enjoying the ease of texting their orders with their mobile phone. To take advantage of this option with any of the items listed below, go to subports.com where you can create your free Subports account. Afterwards, just text the corresponding subcode listed underneath each item to 767825.






$5.99 MP3


Am I Real?

Preview Songs on Other Music's Download Store

Exclusive Advance Release! Ramona Gonzalez (a/k/a Nite Jewel) returns with an excellent six-track EP that successfully expands upon the neon funk haze of her Good Evening album, and also happens to include some of her best songs yet. Am I Real? finds Gonzalez stepping forward with a clearer, more assured version of her blurred, cosmic funk, eschewing much of the tape hiss for a more muscular yet still delicate sound. She still retains some of the AM radio wizardry practiced by peers Ariel Pink and Pearl Harbor, but she's on another wavelength here; she taps into the work of Anna Domino, Linda Perhacs, Cluster, and new-school funkateers like Dam-Funk (with whom she has been collaborating for a forthcoming release) for inspiration while never sounding explicitly like any of them. While a few of the tracks ("Another Horizon" and "Falling Far") are transitional pieces from the Good Evening era, the strongest songs here, like "We Want Our Things" and "White Lies," feature more complex structures and stronger vocal cadences that display Ramona's confidence and talent for combining funk, Krautrock, and new age (yes, you read that right) music into something personal and more unique than the eight dozen chillwave Slurpees you've been sucking on all summer. Record closer "Am I Real?" is what really brings the goods, though; the title cut features gorgeous multi-tracked vocal harmonies, a muscular, popping bass-led groove, and even a guitar solo (!) that adds up to be the greatest Nite Jewel song yet released. She's getting better and better, and I'm happy to report that this is one of the year's best. [IQ]

Also available as a studio quality WAV download for $10.98. (This price includes an additional WAV delivery surcharge due to the large size of the file.) Full details on Other Music Digital.

Order LP by Texting "omlpniteam" to 767825







"Kivikasan Rauhassa"
"Mestari Ei Väsy"

Take the spastic nature of the Boredoms circa Chocolate Synthesizer, but strip away the aggression. Then take the beatific qualities of Animal Collective, then throw them in a rock tumbler, and hand-solder each unique piece that falls out to a matrix of burbling biomechanics, and the result might be similar to the scrambled, airy, yet joyful pouring forth found in the latest Kemialliset Ystavat album, Ullakkopalo. The brainchild of Jan Anderzen and a host of special guests, including plenty of folks from the Fonal roster, as well as C. Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core) and Neil Campbell (Astral Social Club), this is the first KY release since 2007, and it makes full use of the technology that's been developed over the past three years resulting in a sampled, scrambled, childlike, helium-infused collection of experimental pop that refuses to fit inside of its container. Bewildering and excellent, with surprises at every turn, it may be the most disjointedly harmonious work we'll see this year. [DM]

Order CD by Texting "omcdkemiallisetullakkopalo" to 767825






La Reproduction
(Sony France)

"Imbécile heureux"
"Si on se dit pas tout"

I am so excited to be able to offer the new album by one of my favorite contemporary French songwriters, Arnaud Fleurent-Didier. I was first tipped to AFD by a friend who works for the French branch of the United Nations, and after ordering a copy of La Reproduction from Didier's website, I got in touch with him to get these copies from the artist directly. I'm pleased to say that we're quite possibly the only shop in the United States carrying his records, and all three are fantastic additions to any connoisseur of modern international pop. Didier's making his American live debut here in NYC this weekend, with concerts at Zebulon, MoMA, and Barbès -- come out to one (or all!) of the shows if you're able... I'll see you there!

Didier's third album, La Reproduction, is an excellent marriage of intelligent, witty lyrics, and lovely, stylish pop orchestration, taking the classic French pop styles of Gainsbourg, Manset, and Polnareff, not to mention the compositional influence of brilliant artists like Francois De Roubaix, and updating them with the modern pop efficiency of peers like Phoenix and Air, both groups with whom Didier has collaborated in the past. I love the way this record sounds simultaneously classic and current, balancing both sides with equal aplomb, using modern technology to color his compositions yet never over-relying on such to the point of distracting from the quality of the songs. He alternates between sung verse-chorus work and spoken monologues, often accompanied by billowing classical piano lines, taut, minimal guitar work, and popping electric bass grooves. Deep string sections blanket many of the songs, and Didier's voice drips with equal parts romanticism and skepticism, most controversially on opening track and single "France Culture," which details a young adult's perception of the changing of the cultural guard from old to new. Tracks like "Mémé 68" and "Je Vais Au Cinéma" also demonstrate that he can rock out a bit, adding a bit of modish, barbed-wire bite to the mix.

In a fair, just world, this album would break through to American audiences much in the way albums like Moon Safari or United have managed; until the entirety of the USA learns French, though, that seems unlikely. Didier's music was my favorite new discovery of 2010, and I say without hesitation that La Reproduction may just be my favorite album released this year. Highest possible recommendation. [IQ]

Order CD by Texting "omcdarnaudla" to 767825






The Smoke

"Cowboys and Indians"

Finally, finally, finally, the CD reissue of this soft-psych masterpiece sees the light of day after numerous false alarms. American baroque psych-pop from this era makes up about a quarter of my record collection and to say that I'm a fanatic about this stuff would not be an overstatement. And this one-off record, masterminded by a teenaged studio whiz and Beach Boys fanatic, is in all sincerity quite possibly my all-time favorite of the genre. The Smoke was the brainchild of an 18-year-old rock-n-roll, surf kid named Michael Lloyd. By 1968 (the year this album was recorded), Lloyd had already formed and left the influential West Coast Pop Experimental band, co-produced three albums with Kim Fowley and co-produced and played on the sole album by October Country with Curt Boettcher(!), which is now considered an underground folk-pop classic. Legendary producer Mike Curb was so impressed with Lloyd's ability, that he gave him the opportunity to create an album at his famed Hollywood Boulevard studios. Lloyd recruited two friends to play guitar and drums with him, and then he commenced to produce, write, arrange, sing and handle bass and keys on this extraordinary work.

Like most young adults of the time, Lloyd was deeply affected by Sgt. Pepper's and Smiley Smile, and the conceptual nature of those recordings. The album at times plays out as a mental challenge Lloyd had made with himself to attempt to write as many variations on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" as he could, and many cuts specifically reference that song, or other tracks from both of those iconic albums. The opener, "Cowboys and Indians," is a nice upbeat tribute to "Heroes and Villains," boasting rolling organ riffs, a sophisticated vocal melody line and a nice guitar break. "Looking Through the Mirror" utilizes the 3/4 time signature and lilting vocal performance of "Lucy," and "Gold Is the Colour of Thought" borrows the soft verse/loud chorus dynamic of the Beatles' classic to great effect, by placing baroque strings over the verses, the full band on the choruses and a soaring crescendo on the coda. But it doesn't stop there; Lloyd goes even further on "Fogbound," where he and his band actually start singing the chorus of "Lucy" on the fadeout! But rather than getting mired in the "tributes," throughout it all you'll be most impressed by Lloyd's advanced studio prowess. There's plenty of ear candy for production enthusiasts, whether it be stereo panning flashes, crisp snares and sizzling hi-hats, fuzzed-out guitar solos, or the lush string and vocal arrangements on his revisiting of the tune "October Country."

The record disappeared upon initial release, but two years later MGM Records hired Lloyd to head up their A&R department. During his short tenure there he discovered and produced the Osmonds and won a Grammy at age 20 for his work with Lou Rawls. Post-MGM he produced million-sellers for Barry Manilow and Belinda Carlisle, and executive produced a li'l-known soundtrack called Dirty Dancing in the '80s. But regardless of any of that, Michael Lloyd created this incredible soft-psych masterpiece, which I would recommend to anybody who is even just a passing fan of any of the aforementioned. This album has long been one of my all time prized vinyl possessions, but I'm so excited that I have the opportunity to recommend this under-heard jewel to everyone! [DH]

Order CD by Texting "omcdsmokesmoke" to 767825






Cock Diesel Mixtape Vol. 1 Cassette
(No Label)

Perennial Other Music fave and renowned psychomusicological curator Andy Votel just blew through NYC again, with a few nights of DJing and film screenings at Lincoln Center. Cock Diesel Mixtape is a helmet-scoffing C60 pavement slam through cinematic motorcycle gang greasers, Euro-pop, bearded funk, prog rock breaks, and good-time, two-stroke ramblers about, by, and for bikers and their groupies. There's a kinship here with those excellent Blast First picture disks from the late '80s, particularly Savage Pencil's Angel Dust: Music for Movie Bikers comp and Robt. Williams massive Chrome Smoke & Fire, two collections which tackled the seedy side of drive-in movies and the cars that brought you there. There's also a spiritual connection between the mix and a select handful of non-American biker movies, particularly Australia's ponderous, forceful Stone (for which Votel recently issued its heavy psych soundtrack) and the British teen suicide/rebel horror show Psychomania (of which the film's unforgettable score, a skullbuster of thick, aggressive fuzz groove, finds its way into the mix). Obsessed with death, outcast from society, and playing by its own rules, Cock Diesel Mixtape is yet another feather in the cap of a man who might not ever finish rediscovering the gold doubloons from under the dollar bins and behind the record stalls at carboot sales. [DM]

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$9.99 MP3


Black City
(Ghostly International)

Preview Songs on Other Music's Download Store

Born in Texas, Matthew Dear moved to Michigan in his teens and developed his love for music in the shadow of the Detroit sound. Dear started his recording career in 1999, collaborating with David Shayman a/k/a Daisha, a/k/a Disco D (R.I.P.) with a track called "Hands Up for Detroit." This was followed soon by the underground hit "Mouth to Mouth," under Dear's Audion moniker, and a diverse and dynamic career was launched. Having been a fan of most of his work, under his many aliases or under his proper name as this record is, I anticipated that Dear's fourth album would be good. It shouldn't be surprising though that I was wrong... it is great. I hesitate to apply the word genius collectively to any album, but there are a number of tracks here that stand out as such.

Dear channels all the fun, sardonic humor, desperation and sex of Bowie-era Iggy Pop, while the album, peppered with echoes of Eno, Arthur Russell and Daniel Miller's the Normal, runs the gamut from pop to techno, yet has a more cohesive tone and focused sound than he has previously employed, largely synthesizing his influences rather than exploring them in tandem. Dear's Detroit background is unleashed on tracks such as "You Put a Smell on Me," a heavy industrial grinder with a sheer, sleek, electronic power that burns with lustful fire. The production on Black City falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between Dear's ultra pop-forward 2007 endeavor, Asa Breed, and the acidic hammer of his Audion records, resulting in an album that perfectly captures the feelings of hope and paranoia that coexist in this gritty urban soundworld, at times even coming across like a thoroughly modernized, underground Prince informed by downtown New York. Fans of Dear's past work will recognize many of the colors he paints his Black City, but the resulting cityscape is something new, and thoroughly invigorating, from a great and evolving artist. [CM]

Order CD by Texting "omcdmatthewblack" to 767825






Jungle Music

"Sun...Sun...Sun" Jakki
"Go Bang (Walter Gibbons Unreleased Mix)" Dinosaur L

This is, without hyperbole, one of the most important collections of dance music ever released. Walter Gibbons has remained a somewhat marginal cult figure among dance music aficionados, rather undeservedly. While peers like Francois K, Larry Levan, and Tom Moulton have become canonized as important forefathers in what is now commonplace practice within dance music -- the concept and execution of the remix, the ideas of dub and extended drum breaks, the buildup of tension to create "peak tracks" -- Walter Gibbons was one of, if not at times THE first person to take these concepts and apply them to prerecorded pieces of music in an effort to transform them into something new, which would then transport the listener to another plane, another state of mind. He was the first person to ever have an album released compiling his remix work, and his mix of Double Exposure's "Ten Percent" (included here) was the first commercially available 12" single ever released. In short: the guy's important.

He also happens to be one of the most wildly maverick mixers in DJ history to this day, which is no mean feat when taking years of dance music innovation in full context. Jungle Music compiles fourteen of Gibbons' most innovative and important mixes on two discs, while providing little overlap with the now out-of-print three-CD set Mixed with Love, which complied all of his Salsoul remix work. Gibbons loved and lived for drums -- he was infamous for taking a four-minute track and extending the drums, editing out nearly everything else (at times, even the lead vocal!), and just letting the beat play out for a seeming eternity. His transformations are dizzying and, as described in the liner notes, often controversial; as remixing in this context was a new practice, artists were still not used to having their voices or playing stripped out of a song for the good of the groove. His mixes prove to be ample combinations of soulful strut and experimental deconstruction; this is most clearly displayed in his work for Arthur Russell, who's repped via Walter's amazing, fragmented deconstructions of "Go Bang!" and "Calling All Kids." Gibbons's mix of Bettye Lavette's "Doin' the Best That I Can" is revelatory -- 11 minutes of bongos, glockenspiel, and strings... and nearly nothing else save for Lavette's impassioned vocals. The second disc thankfully covers Gibbons' rare 1980s work, digging up all of his Jus' Born releases (including BOTH versions of "Set It Off," by both Strafe and Harlequin Fours), and his controversial dub of Stetsasonic's "4 Ever My Beat" that boldly removes ALL of their rap verses from the track!

This collection is essential listening to anyone who has ever picked up an Arthur Russell reissue, anything related to the Loft or Paradise Garage scenes, and pretty much anyone who has any interest in dub music's importance in shaping dance music construction. With Jungle Music, Walter Gibbons is finally reinstated into the pantheon of godlike DJs whose work forever shaped a nation under a groove. It's about time. [IQ]

Order CD by Texting "omcdwalterjungle" to 767825






Horse Meat Disco 2

"First Be a Woman" Leonore O'Malley
"Cherchez Pas" Madleen Kane

Though certain strands of disco -- cosmic, Italo, Balaeric, slo-mo, mutant, punk -- have enjoyed a renaissance over the past decade, the infamous UK crew Horse Meat Disco go, in a sense, where others fear to tread. Though undoubtedly cool, HMD are not averse to an out-and-out full-on disco stomper -- something that might scare off a certain contingent. Preceded by David Mancuso, Larry Levan, and Nicky Siano in their open-minded approach to what works a party, this approach has made their long-running club night a crossover hit, attracting a strong following of heads, gays, bears, hipsters and pretty much anyone who likes a banger, regardless of what camp it may fall into: electro, boogie, Italo, space funk, soul disco, what have you.

Though a few names may be familiar here -- Stephanie Mills, certainly -- HMD's attention to rarities makes this collection exciting. Leonore O'Malley's "First Be a Woman" opens things as though you've been dropped into a party as it's peaking. Along with Cyclades' "Fire to Desire," this is out and out, straight up D.I.S.C.O. Not for the meek. Things really open up on Elektra's "Feels Good (Carrots and Beets)," a synthed-up minimal jam wherein Tara Butler sings about, erm, carrots and beets. Healthy! Nightfall's "Nighttime Boogie" is just that, crossing distorted clavinet and harpsichord strains with a yacht rock style boogie. Madleen Kane's "Cherchez Pas" and Lourett Russel's "Hot to Trot" are two other barnstormers. The latter the kind of track Glass Candy would love to pen if they weren't quite so bent on sounding like Vivian Vee. The string-laden yacht disco of El Coco's "Afrodesia" comes on like Steely Dan in cahoots with Quiet Village and First Love's "Don't Say Goodnight" concludes with an appropriately uplifting Chic-style burner. Bound to appeal to those inclined towards the deep cut, Horse Meat Disco 2 is another fine chapter in a story that will hopefully continue for some time. Highly recommended! [AG]

Order CD by Texting "omcdvarioushorse2" to 767825






Lots of Love
(Universal Sounds)

"Fast Money"
"D.C. City"

Following their reissue of the excellent Roy Ayers-produced Ladies of the Eighties album, Soul Jazz continues to explore the great, yet largely underappreciated catalog of Mr. Ayers. Despite a long and fruitful career in jazz and pop, he is mostly remembered for a few breakthrough releases; his much-loved (and sampled) songs like "Everybody Loves the Sunshine," "Running Away" and "We Live in Brooklyn," or his soundtrack to the film Coffy, and Ayers' early-'70s sound cast a long shadow on modern soul, hip-hop and trip-hop, influencing big names like Erykah Badu and the Roots. In the late-'70s Ayers toured Africa, and in Nigeria he spent some time in the studio with Fela Kuti. On returning home, he began to incorporate rhythmic and stylistic elements from Kuti's Afrobeat sound into his own vibraphone leads and extended grooves.

With this reissue of Lots of Love, originally released in 1983 on Ayers' own Uno Melodic label, we get a chance to hear some lesser-known jams that showcase a wide-reaching blend of styles. A rare groove classic, the album begins with the nine-and-a-half-minute Afrobeat excursion, "Black Family," then moves into soulful electro on "Fast Money," the Latin disco shuffle of the title track, and continues into some of Ayers' deepest, steady grooves -- a thick and soulful, slow burning brew of vibes, chorus vocal chants and spoken inspiration. You can hear a connection to other young artist of the era like Cameo, Prince, Sugarhill Gang, or the productions of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Among the many great musicians included in the line-up are Brian Jackson (who had a hand in creating some of the most inventive and forward thinking soul for Stevie Wonder and Gil Scott-Heron), as well as Peter Brown and many others. If you are unfamiliar with the magic touch of Roy Ayers, do yourself a favor and start here. Deep and vibey, presented with lots of love for sure. Recommended. [DG]

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"Teimo, Ilira"
"Permafrost, Serac"

At this point, Thomas Köner's reputation should precede him. Both as a member of Porter Ricks and as a solo artist, he has presided over a number of excellent releases over the past couple of decades that have pushed at the boundaries of techno, ambient electronics, and pure sound art. With many of these records languishing out of print, the Type label has emerged to do listeners a great service here, repackaging Köner's first three solo records, reviving a clutch of great albums that have influenced more than a few current practitioners of drone-based ambience.

Nunatak, his solo debut, is easily the darkest and most forlorn of this triptych. His tones are deliberate, at times even cautious, making ample use of the full stereo field to highlight negative space and gradually build each track's overall intensity without relying on all-out volume assaults. It's a careful and measured work full of bowed metal and unsettling sonic sweeps, one that manages to betray a surprising maturity without ever sounding too forced or clinical -- probably the perfect soundtrack to being trapped in a desolate underground bunker.

Though Köner's overall approach remained similar for his follow-up, Teimo, that record managed a distinctly different feel than its predecessor. No less ominous, the drones here have been taken above ground to cascade across the frozen tundra, and given more slack to push the needles just a bit more. The sound is harmonically richer at times, as on the title track, without ever sacrificing the tension that required close listening on his debut.

The final disc of this set presents Permafrost, Köner's third solo record, originally released in 1993. Perfectly balancing the impulses explored on his first two records, these six tracks serve as the high watermark of the man's early ambient work. Pieces like "Firn" and "Serac" gradually develop the power of frigid winds, with the pensive scrapes of metals pitted against a steadily encroaching rush of sound to excellent effect. [MC]

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$9.99 MP3


Something That Has Form and Something That Does Not

"Blank Space"
"A Tardy Admission That the Crisis Is Serious"

Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess return to Type with the third album under their On moniker. On's records all feature the duo recording music which is then sent off to a third party for a final mixdown; previous releases integrated Deathprod/Supersilent's Helge Sten and Pierre-Yves Macé, respectively. Something That Has Form and Something That Does Not features none other than Christian Fennesz in the third-man role, and the results are quite stunning. Fennesz creates light-saturated clouds of sound, filled with creaking electronics, pulsating rhythm beds, and flickering dronescapes, transforming Chauveau's prepared guitar work and Hess's percussion into forces of nature. The album's title track nearly plays like an outtake from Endless Summer, constructed of a static-filled dial tone, metronomic, jazzy drumming, and oscillating tone cycles all waltzing around a room lit by a single bulb. This is perhaps one of the best things Fennesz has touched in recent memory, and stands out among Chauveau's work as a high watermark; this collaboration is a lovely piece of hazy electroacoustic intimacy, highly recommended to fans of any of the artists involved, not to mention anyone enchanted by recent Type and Mego offerings. Nice. [IQ]

Order CD by Texting "omcdonsomething" to 767825






The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas

The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas is one of those rare albums that truly deserves to be resurrected and given a proper place in the canon of classic pop masterpieces. When the first CD issue appeared in 2005, I listened astonished as I wondered where this music had been all my life. From the grandiose sweep of strings that announces the opening title track, it's clear that this is not some second-rate effort that was lost to history with good reason. Instead, issues that plagued the French label that originally released the LP in 1969 prevented Garrie's stunning debut album from being properly distributed, and it was lost to time. Most of the album is comprised of melancholic baroque pop that portrays Garrie as a loner who has somehow found a way to exist in this world. His songs convey that he has found as much peace through religion ("David's Prayer," "Ink Pot Eyes") as he has through life experiences ("The Wanderer"). As an Englishman who spent much of his youth exploring Europe, Garrie writes with a unique insight and his lyrics, while certainly imaginative, are more personal than much of the stock psychedelia of the time.

The album benefits from arrangements that fall somewhere between the psychedelic period of the Beatles and the orchestral pop of Scott Walker. Strings and brass are used in a tasteful way that adds a lot to Garrie's tunes without being obnoxious, and I'm being sincere when I posit that "Deeper Tones of Blue" and "Can I Stay with You" are two of the most gorgeous and honest sounding ballads ever committed to tape. The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas has the rare quality of being introspective, yet uplifting at the same time. Elefant's new reissue contains a lengthy book, in which Garrie tells his life story. Among the many bonus tracks are the excellent debut single "Queen of Spades," which shows a slightly more aggressive rock approach than anything on the LP. Anyone interested in introspective, orchestral pop needs to know this album as soon as possible. [MM]

Order 2CD by Texting "omcdnicknightmare" to 767825







"It's My Life"
"I Read You Like an Open Book"

Outside of Sweden, Tages are a footnote in the history of beat and psychedelia but in their native country, they were a household name and as big as the Beatles and the Stones. Every grandma and grandpa trembled with fear at the mere mention of their name and their "dangerous" music, while teenage girls trembled for very different reasons. And if you ever come around my mom's house, she will gladly tell you stories about fawning over vocalist Tommy Blom. They topped the Swedish charts as early as 1964, and over the next four years went on to release a string of great, mostly beat-oriented singles and albums. Their definitive masterpiece, though, is their fourth and final LP, Studio, from 1967. It's an ambitious psychedelic pop record, with hints of Sgt. Pepper (with a Swedish folk music influence instead of an Indian obsession), the Zombies' Odyssey & Oracle, and the Move on some of the tougher tracks. The songwriting is top notch but a large part of the album's greatness lays in the production, with fantastic orchestration, inventive effects, tape loops and plenty of backwards guitar. The punchy drum sound kills me every time too. I rate Studio as highly as most desert island albums of the era, and with the addition of singles-only bonus tracks ("I Read You Like an Open Book" and "Fantasy Island" are amazing popsike gems), this reissue by RPM is an instant classic. [AK]

Order CD by Texting "omcdtagesstudio" to 767825






Afro-Beat Airways
(Analog Africa)

"Dankasa" Uppers International
"Ne Noya" Cos-Ber-Zam

I'll start by borrowing a Mikey expression and just say it upfront: this is the Afro-Jam of the week, or month even! (Can you believe IQ didn't trademark his catchphrase?) The always-solid Analog Africa label have outdone themselves with this one -- I've always been more a fan of Afro-funk than highlife, so this comp is right up my alley. The collection at hand was borne out of an extended layover that Analog Africa curator Samy Redjeb took in Accra, Ghana. While there he met up with legendary Afrobeat producer Dick Essilfie-Bonzie who had just digitized his production output from the '70s in an effort to produce compilations of his music, and he allowed Redjeb to take his box of recordings and sift through them, copying what he wanted! A year later Essilfie-Bonzie decided to give up his store and studio, and he gave Redjeb access to the master tapes. Lucky for us, Redjeb seized the opportunity to put together this collection, which features his favorite songs from that initial listening session.

There are nothing but highlights here, but if hard-pressed to name a few I think that one should probably start with the frenetic psychedelic Moog-stomper "More" by Rob & Mag-2, who consisted of an eccentric, enigmatic frontman backed by a state-funded military band. You'll also want to check out the raw garage sound of the Togo-based band Cos-ber-Zam's lone hit "Ne Noya," which boasts one of the best (slightly outta tune) Vox organ solos probably ever recorded. "Ngyegye No So," by African Brothers, is another track not to be missed, featuring a rugged, classic-sounding Afrobeat groove with infectious call-and-response vocals and a relentless rhythm section that feels just about perfect right now.

Props also go out to Redjeb for going the extra distance by finding the original artists and interviewing them so that they can tell their own stories about the music in the extensive liner notes. Through them, you hear of a vibrant and musically rich music scene that was a lot more sophisticated and influential than many people think. Like Fela, many of these musicians were classically trained guys who studied abroad and brought those influences back to Africa, and were fully aware of how groundbreaking the music they created was. 10 outta 10!!! [DH]

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Diggin' Down Argentina
(Crazy Apple)

"Heya" Bosques
"Tiempos cambiantes" Them

We owe the guys at Spain's mysterious Crazy Apple Boutique imprint a big round of applause for this roundup of Argentine freakbeat and psych stompers that are impossible to hear unless you're prepared to head down to the Pampas armed with a shovel and years of spare time. These bands are from the Rio Plata region of northern Argentina, but may as well be from Saturn judging from the reactions from the Argentine friends I've shown this to. These are 15 7"-only tracks released in small quantities on labels ranging from majors (RCA, EMI-Odeon) to cult indies (Mandioca, Music Hall). Standouts are many, such as the pair of tracks by the Gipsys and the sheer hysteria of Bosques' "Heya." Quite a few of these cuts also sport sample-friendly breaks and funky soul influences, the liner notes are as informative as possible, the visuals in the booklet are fantastic (including period press clippings)... simply put, you just really need to investigate this comp! [GC]

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$9.99 MP3


Beachcomber's Windowsill

Preview Songs on Other Music's Download Store

Like a sonic balm for recessions, oil spills, and general malaise that clouds the present day, Oxford's Stornoway sweep away whatever there is to worry about with some upbeat and pristine pop songs. Like Jens Lekman or Teenage Fanclub, the group specializes in polished, sentimental tunes packed with sunspot vocal melodies and wide-eyed simple emotions.

Order CD by Texting "omcdstornowaybeachcombers" to 767825
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[GC] Greg Caz
[MC] Michael Crumsho
[AG] Alexis Georgopoulos
[DG] Daniel Givens
[DH] Duane Harriott
[IQ] Mikey IQ Jones
[AK] Andreas Knutsen
[CM] Cowboy Mark
[MM] Marc Moeller
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