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Kudo, Reiko and Tori Kudo – “Light” – [Siwa]

humana   8/28/2009   A Library, CD

Folk: Spare and simple is the music packaged in this artful CD release, containing a card for each of the 7 songs, complete with Japanese and English lyrics on one side with artwork on the flipside. Reiko sings in a clear, plaintive voice, while Tori accompanies her on piano (an occasional harmonica and viola [2] and a mandolin? [5] join in). It is the way the piano takes off into jazzy and classical terrain that makes some songs more interesting. 1, 2, and 7 are sad and lovely. 4, 5, and 6 are more jazzy and less melancholy. 3 is like a crossover between the two types of songs.

King Kong – “Old Man On The Bridge” – [Homestead Records]

humana   8/27/2009   A Library, CD

Wow! I love this. It rocks, literally. The energy packed into these 9 tracks is infectious and gets you moving, whether it be in a funk (1, 8), or blues (4, 6), or just rockin??? (2, 9) way. At the beginning I was reminded of Steppenwolf, but this band has a character all its own. The only slow one of the bunch is 7. The change-up in tempos of 6 shows off the bass, guitars, and drums to good effect. Rock out, turkey!

Bad Thoughts – “Oh Jena” – [M’Lady Records]

humana   8/16/2009   7-inch, A Library

This rock band from southern California formed in the early 90s and continues to offer music that does what the second song on this 7??? advises: ???Keep it easy, yeah! No complications, yeah!??? Guitar, bass, and drums, plus some type of horn (sax?) set the scene for the vocals. ???Oh Jena!??? is simpler and a little less peppy than ???Keep it Easy.??? Both songs are expressions of the band???s youthful spirit.

Soft Tags EP – “Seafoam Green” – [Cdbaby Softhaus]

humana   8/15/2009   A Library, CD

This is a charming tribute by this Portland, Oregon band to Nicola Tesla, inventor of the radio and the band???s ???patron saint.??? This EP was recorded for $1.72, and as such is a supreme value, what with its offering of well-penned lyrics (see the CD inserts) set to an array of instruments including accordion, guitar, church organ, wind chimes, toy piano, harpsichord, mandolin, glock, typewriter, and varying percussion. Their most treasured instrument is the Yamaha MT 50 four-track machine. It???s all pleasant music from dreamers and believers in the occult.

Von Diamond, Dalmacio – “Other Side of Darkness, The” – [Albino Crow Music]

humana   8/14/2009   12-inch, A Library

His Myspace page describes Dalmacio Von Diamond???s music as ???melodramatic popular song,??? and I???d say that???s pretty much on the mark. His deep vocals and somber lyrics are accompanied by guitar, drums, violins, and organ. Most of the songs are somber, but there are some upbeat-feeling ones, even though the subjects are not the sunniest. 3, 7, and 10 are the peppier songs. My favorite lyrics are in 4: ???Let???s throw a party and show the world we???re not afraid to get old.??? Love and life are not light matters on this album, but 10 hints that Von Diamond makes it to the other side of darkness and survives.

Che Guevara Memorial Marching (and Stationary) Accordion Ban – “Che Guevara Memorial Accordion Band” – [Public Eyesore]

humana   8/10/2009   A Library, CD

A sextet of accordion players–Bob Marsh, Dan Cantrell, David Slusser, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, John Finkbeiner, and Ron Heglin–make up this unique ???marching??? band. Minimalist improv is the best way I have to describe the five tracks on this CD. Instead of a riot of noise, there seems to be careful conversation among the musicians. Track 2 is the closest to chaos that these songs get. Track 5 includes some percussive moves (executed on the accordions, I presume) that mimic the pitter-pat of feet.

Wisp – “Shimmering Hour, The” – [Rephlex]

humana   8/9/2009   A Library, CD

Wisp is R.W. Dunn. He wrote and recorded the 14 songs on this CD. The genre is electronica/intelligent dance music, and each of the tracks is solid in its presentation of shimmering beats and energy, whether they be mellow or frenetic. You can???t go wrong with any of them, but the standouts are 10 for its eerie, cave beginning and scrambled spooky voice and jungle drums, and 11 for its flute-like, medieval feeling. Track 9 features ocean waves, birdsong, and crickets chirping. Try 3 as well, just because it???s pretty.

Champagne Socialists, The – “Blue Genes/Young Runaways” – [Slumberland Records]

humana   8/8/2009   7-inch, A Library

Pop: This band out of Los Angeles has a really interesting story. Three whiz kids went their separate ways, the girl traveling to Glasgow where she united both musically and romantically with her long-lost pen pal. The two made their way back to Disneyland, where they were reunited with the other two wunderkinder in Alice???s teacups, and a band was born! I prefer Side A to Side B. Bass, drums, minimal keys, and female vox contribute to the upbeat, low-fi haze.

Fresh and Onlys, The – “Fresh and Onlys, The” – [Chuffed]

humana   8/8/2009   7-inch, A Library

Rock/pop: This is a cool repressed EP, one of 300 available in pink vinyl from Chuffed. This San Francisco band has chosen an apt descriptor in ???fresh???–offering upbeat, organic tunes with guitars, xylophone, harmonica, toy piano, subtle percussion, and male voices singing interesting lyrics about innocent topics. Every song is good, but ???Endless Love??? is the standout with its energetic guitar start and solo.

Papercuts – “Can’t Go Back” – [Gnomonsong]

humana   8/1/2009   12-inch, A Library

Jason Robert Quever pens some fine pop songs dealing with subjects such as the transition from lover (?) to employee (1), nostalgic questions about whether you can wait all summer long (3), wishing you could hold onto people (7), how things and people become ???just another thing to dust??? (8). The overall vibe is mellow and poppy, with a delightful foray into a honky-tonk treatment of love taking a wrong turn (5). Pretty and cute and appealing all around.

Generate Records New 7″ Releases – August 28, 2009 [coll] – [Generate Records]

humana   8/1/2009   A Library, CD

This collection of 7??? releases celebrates the 10-year founding of the Generate label. Opening with two accessible jazz tracks by Gordon Beeferman???s Imaginary Band, transitioning to atmospheric with the fabulous Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Jeff Arnal, and finishing off with the experimental minimalism of Aperiodic, this is a tasty sampler of what Generate has to offer. Instrumental save for enthusiastic vocalizations on 1 and distorted vox on 5.

Telescopes, The – “As Approved By The Committee” – [Bomp]

humana   7/30/2009   12-inch, A Library

The Committee to Keep Music Evil compiled these Telescopes songs that are no longer available on record store shelves. The United Kingdom quintet delivers screaming vocals and thrashing guitars and drums on Side One, but they settle down into a fine trippy haze on Side 2, where the male and female vocals sound like a choir on B2. Check out the cool guitar moves and rare clarity of some of the vox on A4. Psychedelia is the unifying element between the two sides.

Psycho and The Birds – “Check Your Zoo” – [The Fading Captain Series]

humana   7/17/2009   7-inch, A Library

Todd Tobias and Robert Pollard team up to deliver some garage and psychedelic tracks in a low-fi way. All but B2 (which is instrumental) feature hazy, male vocals that are hard to make out, but the content of the words probably is secondary to the voice adding to the overall gestalt of the songs themselves. A1 and A2 are upbeat rock, while B3 is a heavy garage assault. A3, B1, and B2 are some mellow psyche pieces that are the strength of this EP.

Before We Melt [coll] – [Delete:Thought]

humana   7/11/2009   A Library, CD

Electronica: This compilation is available for free download from IVDT. Who knew that hip hop beats could undergird the oboe (5) and harp (6)? Intelligent dance music can be found on 3 and 8. Glitchy ambience is the prevailing medium in the remaining tracks, which is appropriate to the wintry theme of this CD. Phortran???s ???First Snow??? (4) is particularly appealing in its uniqueness, with piano and drums adding to the bubbliness characteristic of a first snow.

Saucy Jacks, The – “Blown Like a Kiss/Everywhere You Go” – [Chocolate Covered Records]

humana   7/11/2009   7-inch, A Library

This is the debut release from this San Francisco quartet of guys who play powerpop/rock. There will be plenty of opportunities to catch them live, and you???ll want to after hearing this. Side A is a very upbeat and 60s sounding love song with cute lyrics. Side B is a quick-paced and more dissonant sound, appropriate to a break-up song (at least I think that???s what it is). Regardless of the content, this is adorable.

Ocote Soul Sounds and Adrian Quesada – “Coconut Rock” – [Esl Music]

humana   7/11/2009   A Library, CD

Afro-Latin funk: From time to time Martin Perna from Philadelphia and Adrian Quesada from Texas team up to form Ocote Soul Sounds. This release features the two with their friends serving up Afro beat gems, both instrumental and with Spanish and English vox (Tita Lima lends her pretty voice to 5). The percussion is stellar, as are the flutes, guitars, keys, melodica, bass, and glockenspiel. They do Fela Kuti proud with their infectious, lively rhythms.

Searching For The Now 1 [coll] – [Slumberland Records]

humana   7/6/2009   7-inch, A Library

This green and white vinyl contains two treasures from Glasgow and introduces Slumberland???s praiseworthy project of releasing two limited-edition split 7??? pop singles every couple months. On Side 1 we get a peppy rock tune called ???Join the Dots??? performed by Roy Moller, presented by the Company, and on the flipside is ???Flaxen-Haired Boy??? by the Hermit Crabs, a smooth, mellow taste of folk sung by dulcet-toned Melanie Whittle. Either song guaranteed to lift your mood and get you psyched for the next such release from Slumberland.

Mighty Tiger – “Western Theater” – [Self Release]

humana   7/5/2009   A Library, CD

Pop: Okay, this Seattle band sounds a lot like The Cyrkle. Instead of red rubber balls, Mighty Tiger discusses other things (???I wish you???d take a shower every day??? (9). Most of the songs are cheerful and upbeat, with rocking guitars and percussion, male lead vocals (except on 11), and an innocent sound that takes you back to the 60s. Some forays into psychedelic (6) and folk (11) territories. These sounds are intoxicatingly catchy.

Kompakt Total 4 [coll] – [Kompakt]

humana   7/3/2009   A Library, CD

Dance: If you???re feeling low on energy, simply put on this CD and in no time your blood will be pulsing to the electronic sounds coming out of the beat-laced ether created by Germany???s finest. The effervescent textures are contagious and some tracks are enhanced by vocals (2, 4, 5, 7, 10?, 11). Transports you to a cool nightclub atmosphere with a refreshing vibe, although 13 closes the CD on a more soothing, ambient note (albeit a beat-driven one).

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