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Miller, Polk & His Old South Quartette – “Polk Miller & His Old South Quartette ” – [Tompkins Square]

Not many acts that made recordings could claim to have Mark Twain as a fan, and even less of them featured white and black members back in 1909. Banjo playing storyteller Polk Miller & His Old South Quartette met both those requirements. As the first integrated group to record — and probably the last until the jazz age rolled in — Miller’s group brought stories and sounds of the Old South to the rest of the states until he grew weary of the bigotry his bandmembers faced in both the North and South. He then left the Old South Quartette to launch their own career. Both periods are covered here, with seven Edison recordings from 1909 with Miller and the Quartette and seven 1928 recordings with the Quartette on their own (there are a few new versions of some tunes from the Miller era, with little changed in 20 years). It wouldn’t be fair to say that Miller considered the Quartette to be equal partners — the liner notes explain how he hired and fired singers at will, and considered them his employees — but he did bring his audiences fairly authentic black ensemble singing in an era when white performers in blackface were still presenting a clumsy pastiche of the sounds of the old South. Thankfully, the sound is terrific given the source material here.

  • Reviewed by ArtCrimes on October 28, 2008 at 6:03 pm
  • Filed as CD,Country
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  • Rambling Boy [coll] – [The Decca Record Co.]

    Little did I know that Charlie Haden had spent much of his youth singing and playing country music on his parent’s “Haden Family” radio show, making his debut at age 2. A bit of that performance appears on this collection, but the rest of these tracks capture Charlie’s return to the music of his childhood, some 50 years later. Meanwhile his career as one of *the* great jazz bassists has kept him occupied, putting in time with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Keith Jarrett and his own high-concept ensembles like Liberation Music Orchestra. But family ties are strong and here he creates his own version of the Haden Family show, with his wife, triplet daughters, and son Josh, most of whom have followed their own musical careers. Three-quarters of these tracks are country or bluegrass classics, with guest vocals & musical cameos from the cast of thousands that Charlie can call close personal friends: Elvis Costello, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Pat Metheny, and others. The other tracks could be said to have a jazz tinge, but let’s just say that Ornette might not take much notice. It’s a joy to hear this family man reflecting on times gone by, and the fact that Jack Black (track 16) is his son-in-law should not distract too much.

  • Reviewed by ArtCrimes on October 28, 2008 at 5:42 pm
  • Filed as CD,Country
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  • Ranaldo, Lee – “Countless Centuries Fled Into The Distance… ” – [Table of the Elements]

    Sonic Youth guitarist and in-demand collaborator Ranaldo returns to the Guitar Series on Table of the Elements fifteen years after his first release on the label. Here he offers four medium-short pieces that do a good job of challenging the boundaries ???if there are any left??? of guitar music. Tracks 1 and 4 are insistent, abrasive drones seemingly rooted in the 1960???s work of Tony Conrad and his crowd. You???ll also hear feedback techniques straight out of Ranaldo???s Sonic Youth toolbox on those pieces. Track 2 howls in a squiggly, squirmy way. Track 3 alternates between two low drone notes. Mesmerizing material, but damn, this record is over too quickly.
    One-sided 12??? with artwork by Savage Pencil on Side B.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on October 26, 2008 at 4:10 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Vivian Girls – “S/T ” – [In The Red Records]

    It???s short (~22 minutes), it???s sweet, it???s the Vivian Girls (Kickball Katy on bass, Cassie Ramone on guitar, and Frankie Rose on drums) bringing you garage-rock from Brooklyn, NY. Every song on here is fast-paced and dancey, and the vocals, although hazy at times, are nicely delivered and provide interesting lyrical accompaniment to the catchy tunes. Test this out and see why a vinyl copy of this CD sold for $68 on eBay. PGM: 1, 3, 6, 8 end at :05, 5 at :10, 9 at :08, and 10 at :13. Picks: 6, 5, 8, 7, 3.

  • Reviewed by humana on October 25, 2008 at 6:03 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • School of Seven Bells – “Alpinisms ” – [Ghostly International]

    The day guitarist Benjamin Curtis decided to join forces with the dulcet-singing, harmonizing twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza was one of his most blessed. Curtis provides brilliant reverb background for the enchanting voices of the sisters. The beats on this are compelling and the drones are mediated by enticing lyrics. Named after a legendary pickpocket training academy, School of Seven Bells steals only your fascination and attention, leaving you with a satisfied feeling. Picks: 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, PGM: Songs end as early as :05. 8 ends at :10.

  • Reviewed by humana on October 25, 2008 at 3:08 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Golijov, Osvaldo / Berio, Luciano “Ayre” [Deutsche Gramophon]

    Ayre is a medieval spanish word for melody. Golijov???s 11-song cycle is supposed to represent the melting pot (Christians, Jews, Muslims) that 15th century Spain was before Isabella wreaked her havoc. As such, at worst you might describe this as a befitting soundtrack to a Mediterannean-trotting Bourne movie or to your latest Starbucks trip. At best, though, like Bourne or that marble mocha macchiato, this can pack some wollop. The moments of pulsing excitement bring a rush.

    This piece was heavily hyped when it premiered in 2004 (all sorts of Top-10 lists, and the national tour stopped locally at Lively Arts and Cal Performances). This CD cashes it in for DG; star supporting players include David Krakauer, Erik Friedlander, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Jeremy Flower???s laptop beats. But how does this piece rise above the mediocrity that you might expect of a glorified mish-mash of ancient melodies and laptop, of Klezmer and Bedouin? To a degree, there is a casual modestness to Golijov???s pastiche. But above all, it???s Dawn Upshaw (most recently heard on KFJC on Gorecki???s 3rd). Her singing is captivating, and never ceases to blow my mind.

    The pairing with Ayre is Berio???s Folksongs from 1964. Already you know it???s good (Because it???s Berio). You???ll recognize the first two songs (part of the canon thanks to the right honorable John Jacob Niles), but Berio soon heads off to France and Italy, and finishes in Azerbaijan with a wicked love song.

    –Cujo, KFJC, Oct 2008

  • Reviewed by cujo on October 23, 2008 at 3:15 am
  • Filed as A Library
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  • Kagel, Mauricio “Alles wechselt, All things change” [Winter & Winter]

    Picked up at the Streetlight penny pitch mere days before Kagel???s death.

    Quirinus??? Liebeskuss is an interminable affair wherein the chorus, singing ancient monosyllabic German poetry, trades blows with the chamber orchestra. Not recommended.

    Serenade is a trio wherein MK attempted to challenge the inherent ???serenity??? or ???evening??? of the situation. The players bounce from scene to scene, really picking up steam at the 10-minute mark. The flute dominates early, and the hurdy-gurdy wails pretty good towards the end. The exotic instruments are nice enough, but it???s the episodic nature that really sells this piece. It ends with a typically irreverant Kagel fluorish ??? a random two-chord guitar cadence.

    Doppelsextett is for string and woodwind sextets. Apparently something of a dialogue between the two elements, like the first piece. But this time the voices are thicker and more intertwined, and the result is much more enjoyable. I???m thinking Kagel may not write as well for voice…

    –Cujo, KFJC, Oct 2008

  • Reviewed by cujo on October 23, 2008 at 3:11 am
  • Filed as A Library
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  • Masaoka, Miya “While I was walking, I heard a sound…” [Solitary B]

    This gets my mildest recommendation. Budding buzzing apiarist Masaoka unfurls a wordless a capella choir of drones and clusters and whoops and hollers. In the last movement the vocal techniques expand to include some wonderful whistling. The qualities that keep this from the resale bin are Masaoka???s local improv SF connections, not overstaying its welcome at 30 minutes long, & that playful 4th movement.

    –Cujo, KFJC, Oct 2008

  • Reviewed by cujo on October 23, 2008 at 3:08 am
  • Filed as A Library
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  • The Pity Party, “The Pity Party EP” Missing Finger Records, 12″ 45

    Another pretty picture disc from new indie label out of Brooklyn, NY. This time it is a male/female fronted band out of Los Angeles with some noisey punk rock. A WHOLE lotta noise for 2 people. 5 tracks.?? Nice female vocals.?? Standout track is the short and sweet “lullaby” which is a sweet piece straying from the punk rock attitude of the rest of this EP.

  • Reviewed by ophelia necro on October 22, 2008 at 6:02 pm
  • Filed as A Library
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  • Nurse With Wound, “Bacteria Magnet”, Cargo Records (UK) LP 33

    Track One, Side A: The Bacteria Bitch Mix of Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ would be a great track to play if you wanted to assault listeners during the morning or evening drive, (that is if it weren’t for the naughty language) tires screech, sirens wail, chaos abounds in a catastrophic aural onslaught, ok maybe I have gone to far, no wait it is the collective that is NURSE WITH WOUND that has gone too far, leaving skid marks on your eardrums and broken glass in your face.
    Track Two, Side A: Total departure from first track. Picture yourself if you will in David Lynch’s world of the film Blue Velvet…a chanteuse is forced to sing for you while a man in black inhales nitrous oxide in the corner…Woman singing with sparse piano and all sorts of ominous atmospherics. CREEPY.
    Track one, Side B : More Lynchian undertones with stand up bass, percusssion, effects and dreamy detached female vocals “the night is cold and i am so alone, i would give my soul to call you my own…” Very nice and a bit reminiscent of Julee Cruise and the Wild At Heart soundtrack.
    Track Two, Side B: Another departure, noisey industrial, vocal manipulations, whirling, crashing, looping, screams, blurps and beeps, did I say noisey? Yeah, I almost forgot, throw a music box on top, honk at it and smash it with your fist. This nurse will help with your wound, after she inflicts it.

  • Reviewed by ophelia necro on October 22, 2008 at 5:49 pm
  • Filed as A Library
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  • Triclops!, “Ceafeteria Brutalia” Missing Finger Records, EP 12″

    Triclops! formed in 2005 by Christian Beaulieu of San Francisco’s Bottles and Skulls and Johnny from Oakland’s Fleshies. Later joined by Phil from the defunct band Lower Forty-Eight and bass player Larry Boothroyd (of Victim’s Family/Hellworms/Saturn’s Flea Collar fame). “Cafeteria Brutalia” was engineered by Phil Manley of Trans Am, Fucking Champs, Golden and originally released on the “SickRoom” label. This lovely picture disc was relased by the relatively new “Missing Finger Records” label out of Brooklyn. 4 awe inspiring and intense tracks ranging from 3+ to 10+ minutes. “Mi Plisboy” starts things off with the combination of a metallic surf-punk riff and Johnny’s seething anti-colonialism (howled in Creole dialect from the perspective of a New Guinean police officer), the singer’s dark lyrics match the manic intensity of the music, whether detailing a john’s fatal rendezvous with a wrench-wielding transvestite on “Jewel of Oakland,” or depicting a surreal battle with mosquitoes on the swirling epic “Bug Bomb.” Yet, as compelling as the recorded material is, it pales in comparison to the frenzy of the live Triclops! experience. Intense, loud and?? powerful the musicians lock horns on dense, multi-part tunes while Johnny delivers his unhinged vocals while crawling underneath or riding atop his audience. Good times!

  • Reviewed by ophelia necro on October 22, 2008 at 4:31 pm
  • Filed as A Library
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  • His Electro Blue Voice, “Duuug”, Sacred Bones Records, 7″ 45

    Italian punk threesome that rocks.?? “Duuug” on side A is a little more accessible than side b. Guitar almost sounds like keys. Lyrics (in English) can actually be heard and understood?? unlike side b’s “Fury Eyes”, with chaotic blasts of noise, rhythm and indecipherable lyrics.
    Francesco: guitar & voice
    Claudia: bass
    Andrea: drums & percussion

  • Reviewed by ophelia necro on October 22, 2008 at 3:52 pm
  • Filed as A Library
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  • “Oh, Run into Me, But Don’t Hurt Me! (Female Blues Singers Rarities 1923-1930)”, Collection, LP 12″

    14 (relatively) unknown female blues singers recorded in the 20s. With the 20s came the great depression which was really good for the blues. 16 tracks all recorded (originally on 78s) between 1920 and 1930. The only real known artist on here is Memphis Minnie who was one of the most influential and pioneering female blues musician and guitarist of all time. The rest of the ladies were little-known or forgotten, although relevant, voices from the day. We have?? “stole my man blues”, “trixie blues, “low down despondant blues”, “dead drunk blues “, “pot hound blues”, “down south blues”, “third alley blues”, “tenessee workhouse blues” and “whiskey drinking blues” and other depressing topics evocative of the blues all represented finely here.

  • Reviewed by ophelia necro on October 22, 2008 at 3:36 pm
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  • Costa, Gal / Veloso, Caetano – “Domingo ” – [Vinyl Lovers]

    When his Brazilian LP first appeared on Philips in 1967, both Gal Costa and Caetano Veloso had released only a few singles individually, so this is the first long player from either of them. Although presented as a team effort, this LP is actually mostly Caetano Veloso’s work, with him composing, performing and arranging most of the songs. Gal is featured as the solo vocalist on a few tracks and there are a few duets. These are almost art songs with a tropical wrapping, sometimes defying normal pop song convention by quickly fading out after only 90 seconds or so without a hook or chorus to grab onto, but there’s great vocal control and careful use of strings in the arrangements. This captures a moment when bossa nova was the best known musical export of Brazil, largely through the hugely popular work of Jobim and Astrid Gilberto, but neither Costa nor Velosos would ever sing and play so gently and lushly as this again…they both were to be major figures in the psychedelia-influenced Tropicalia movement that became a cultural and political force in Brazil only a year after this LP was released.

  • Reviewed by ArtCrimes on October 22, 2008 at 11:35 am
  • Filed as 12-inch,International
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  • Meelkop, Roel – “6 (mailcop Rules) ” – [Intransitive]

    These are recordings of Roel’s from 1985-1995 and released in the late 90s. The cd starts off with track 1 laying down the deepest drone sounds, lush and layering over each other like clouds in quicktime. The second piece is unaudible vocals mixed in with what sounds like crunching electronic icicle blades. Rough and tough. Track 3 is as minimal as you can get with just the sound of a ticking clock. Makes you feel empty and alone, void of life. As if sitting in your deceased grandparents apartment in San Francisco. Track 4 is a 22 minute trip through your repressed memories. Quick little electronic bugs flitter in and out for a few minutes between arty pauses of silence. It picks up shortly with waves of low pulses and the sound of children in the playground. Shifting and floating. For the voyeurs, about halfway through you get the moans of people having sex mixed with running water, huh? Loads more of samples come in including burps, bird
    chirps, crumpling of bags, old time piano music and quick clips of random things. That track is pretty all over the place. Track 5 is once again a slab of noise. Bumps of distorted low vocals mixed with a thundershower of electronic rain. The final track is another low flying drone. Listening to the ocean waves at night with the window closed type of feel. I love it!

  • Reviewed by cinder on October 21, 2008 at 11:33 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Kihlstedt, Carla / Fujii, Satoko – “Minamo ” – [Henceforth]

    2007 release on Bonnie Wright’s fine Henceforth label, with
    two live rendezvous renderings from violinista Carla Kihlstedt
    and Satoko Fujii on piano. Their talents are wide-ranging as
    witnessed in Fujii’s fantastic big band work and experimental
    energy sounds with her husband-trumpeter and sometimes with
    Tatsuya Yosiha from Ruins, Kihlstedt’s Two Foot Yard, and
    charter membership with the Tin Hat Trio and Sleepytime
    Gorilla Museum speak and spike volumes. Here the two start
    off with some simple ground, a pumping number with a detective
    slant. The second piece is elaborate and romantic, octave
    upper limits sketch a skyline, and Kihlstedt laces some
    superbly thin lines of light bouncing off the mirrors. Fujii
    has some lower 88 rumbling too on this. The third is a short
    blast of (Billy) Bang-like shoeless, soulful playing. Those
    three were from a 2002 ROVA anniversary party, the last piece
    from 2005 in Austria. Subzero harmonics of violin skating and
    piano icicle droplets, even when the tempo accelerates,
    there are a lot of rests to retain the glacier’s edge on
    this one. A pretty melody around 4 minutes to go, leads to a
    transformation to a proud powerful coda led by Fujii but that
    then succumbs to a scrapy blizzard and silence. As attested by
    their publishing insignias these are two ladies who cherish
    communication and ceremony. These four improvisations are full
    of each…

    -Thurston Hunger

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on October 21, 2008 at 10:30 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Molina, Juana – “Un Dia ” – [Domino Recording Co Ltd]

    At times this feels like an aerobic workout for hyperactive
    robots. I kept seeing cute little locomotives appear in
    the air and chug around puffing out steam that then would
    turn into Juana’s vocal loops. Lots of dopplered diva
    doos and das. The melodies (on toy keyboards and kewpie
    clarinets and maybe even kazoos) often do MC Escher like
    moves, leading up and up and up again. Like shepherd
    notes that have lost their little bo peep in Ms. Molina.
    To dizzy to be droney, too perky to be stoney. Kind of
    reminds me of Petra Haden’s adventures in Cuckooland,
    in the may Juana just has fun with her voice and the
    sounds of the words. Ping pong production also adds to
    the playfulness. Molina some times adds a little kid
    kind of whine to her voice. You know in a weird way, this
    makes me think of Can albeit a la Tropicalia. Does that
    make for Tropicania? Her loops that just lock in, and
    the insistent and twisted vocals…although there’s no
    typical percussion kicking in, usually, the loops of
    processed sound and little bo bleepings keep the herd
    harried. The more I listened to this, the more I could
    see this becoming a big KFJC hit, its weirdness is
    gentle, its adventure never assaultive. Once upon a
    Juana was an Argentine comedienne, she still knows the
    cosmic joke it seems. Maybe it’s something to do with
    the symmetric nature of good and evil?

    -Thurston Hunger

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on October 21, 2008 at 10:28 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Preston, Joe and Menche, Daniel – “Cerberic Doxology ” – [Anthem Records]

    Gregorian monk gone amok, slaughter on stone, blood on the
    drone. Basso profundo loopus maximus to start things off,
    dropped in a bottomless pit of reverb thus after two and a
    half minutes the (one assumes?) human element vanishes and
    all that is left is the cavern of sound. This blackness
    opens up like an odyssey into Ligeti space. Black holes
    ain’t got nothin’ on the gravity here, it might be nice to
    take this 24 minute track and blast its mp3 over into that
    online silo and see if your internet connection implodes.
    After awhile the thing feels like a krygyr rumble on the
    bottom and a four-note vox inhumana drift on top. At the
    end, the original human or orc or yeti or whatever it is
    returns back from the darkness and sings along with its
    echoes. Comes with a dual-sided DVD as well, which as a
    radio station means little…but those who kneel before
    the Thrones may want to track that down for further
    dark worship. Happy Halloween, this is the soundtrack to
    giant alien apples bobbing for your head.

    We got the CD on Anthem, but vinyl on Discourage exists
    with 20 count ‘em 20 locked grooves….drool….

    -Thurston Hunger

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on October 21, 2008 at 10:27 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • DNT 3″ Split Series Vol. 1 – May [coll] – [Dnt Records]

    Does DNT really stand for “Doris Nodric Tribute” or could it
    change from release to release “Demand New Tunes” or “Death
    Nicely Transcended”? Evidentyl label-runner Tynan Krakoff has
    fought off lymphoma, and hopefully can continue to deliver
    wonder WTF sounds via DNT. Let’s start with part two of this
    nice 3″ homemade split. MYTHICAL BEAST feature whale-speak
    guitar (maybe crossed with a tambura buzz) and synth that then
    serve for the as a slow swirly bed for the marbles-in-the-mouth,
    yodel-till-your-soul-echoes voice of Corinne Sweeney. I like
    her voice, sort of Faun Fables in a very foggy canyon but her
    histrionics will likely split folks. The lead-off cut from
    Redondo Beach’s OH HOME sure covers a lot of turf on one track.
    Oddball tape twister, new No-Wave galloping dance party stops on
    a cymbal, goes through a found percussion clang gang then with
    3.5 minutes left, they get struck by a Lightning Bolt out of
    the blue for an energy fission giving way to a falsetto glam
    prance. Then more cassette capture, now over a hummy cathedral
    drone…and a little drummy jam flourish for 13 seconds to end.
    Fascinating, while impossible to fasten much of a label to them.
    Pretty compelling contrast in the chaotic fracas of OH HOME
    versus the consistent focus of MYTHICAL BEAST.

    -Thurston Hunger

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on October 21, 2008 at 10:19 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Yoome – “Boredom of Me, The ” – [Audio 8]

    Yoome includes rapper Serengeti, Renee-Louis Carafice, and producer Tony Trimm. The songs on this CD are all worthwhile, touching on subjects as mundane as beachfront property (1), as serious as divorce (11), and as politically correct as freeganism (5). The techno beats are catchy and infectious, but you need to play this during safe harbor due to the content. Try Track 9 because it has a little of everything: rapping, singing, beats, stories. FCC: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12. Picks: 4, 5, 3, 9.

  • Reviewed by humana on October 21, 2008 at 11:49 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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