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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).

Left Coast Improv Group [coll] – [Edgetone Records]

humana   6/30/2009   CD, Jazz

Jim Ryan founded the Left Coast Improv Group in 2001, and the one uniting theme is that the group creates together without an agenda. Cooke Co. Wind & Brass, RDT3, and other LCIG related projects are represented here. The songs can be seen as happy accidents, or as orchestrated miracles that come into existence by virtue of the musicians. LCIG is performing at the Outsound New Music Summit on July 25, 2009 at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. Whet your appetite!

DJ Female Convict Scorpion – “Clash-Ups” – [Self -released]

humana   6/28/2009   A Library, CD

Twelve ???remixes??? of as many artists, by the San Francisco-based DJ Female Convict Scorpion, master of creating psychedelia out of turntables, sampler, theremin, whistles, and vocals. Ornette Coleman is on here (9), as are the Swell Maps (1), John Lee Hooker (5), among others. Creepy and skittery and spacey, but uniquely funky on 12 with the lyrics of ???Sloop John B??? echoing eerily in the background.

Ecstatic Jazz Duos [coll] – [Thor’s Rubber Hammer Productions]

humana   6/23/2009   12-inch, A Library

This split features two experimental duos. Side A features I Heart Lung, with Chris Schlarb on electric guitar and electronics, and Tom Steck on drums. The sounds are definitely ecstatic, with 2 being my favorite track. Side B is DWMTG, with Dale W. Miller on drums, cymbals, and electric toothbrush, and Tony Gordon on bass. 10 short tracks (times are on inside sleeve) show how these two romp together playfully. The first track sounds like a dog???s squeaky toy. Enjoy.

Zentner, Si – “Plays Music From “Warning Shot”” – [Liberty Records]

humana   6/23/2009   12-inch, Soundtrack

Soundtrack: Big band is the name of the game, and Si Zentner is the man and trombonist to lead the band executing Jerry Goldsmith???s compositions. Side 1 features music from ???Warning Shot,??? most of which is fast-paced and suspenseful, save for 4 and 5, which have a slower pace. It???s easy to get caught up in the big band exclamations. Side 2 is a sampling from Goldsmith???s other film/TV scores, with ???Von Ryan March??? and ???Mona Lisa??? standing out, and the ???Theme from ???The Man from U.N.C.L.E.?????? taking you down memory lane.

Sonic Youth – “Eternal, The” – [Matador Records]

humana   6/20/2009   A Library, CD

On their 16th album, Sonic Youth sounds simply phenomenal. From the catchy opener to the slightly creepy closing track (in which Kim Gordon begs someone to suck her neck), these songs are unanimously fabulous in their masterful guitar work, drums, and bass. Each and every one rocks in its own way, and elements of psyche can be found throughout. This is just my cup of tea.

Steel An’ Skin – “Steel An’ Skin” – [Honest Jon’s]

humana   6/20/2009   12-inch, Reggae

Steel drum lovers rejoice! This reissue from the late 70s group Steel an??? Skin is fast-paced and upbeat. Side A is ???Afro Punk Reggae Dub,??? a chance for the flavors of Ghana, Nigeria, St. Kitts, Trinidad, and the U.K. (the birthplaces of the musicians) to mix and mingle in a wonderful dub. Side B opens with a :39 ???Gadzo Drumming,??? followed by ???Reggae Is Here Once Again,??? a happy, disco-like beat that features vocals and lasts 4:29. A sweet step back in time.

Sebastian – Original Soundtrack [coll] – [Harkit Records]

humana   6/19/2009   CD, Soundtrack

Soundtrack: This is a period piece for the sixties if there ever was one, full of suspense and intrigue appropriate to a movie about counter-espionage with a bevy of beauties in the wings. Be sure to read the liner notes. Tracks 12-23 are bonus tracks by father of electronic music Tristram Cary (and form component elements for Track 9). Enjoy.

D-Sisive – “Let The Children Die” – [Urbnet Records]

humana   6/14/2009   CD, Hip Hop

Hip-hop: Out of Toronto, Canada comes the unique perspective of Derek Christoff, aka D-Sisive. Through a combination of singing and rapping lyrics that range from touching tributes to family members (5) to daydreams (13) to multiple means of death in this ???wonderful world??? (19), D-Sisive offers songs intended for kids in school and college (at least according to his lyrics). I don???t know much about hip-hop, but the stories on this CD are worth listening to.
FCC: 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 14,, 15, 17, 18.
Picks: 13, 9, 11, 5, 6, 8, 18,.
PGM: Songs end abruptly.

North Pole Record Number 13 [coll] – [North Pole Records]

humana   6/12/2009   A Library, CD

Nary a bad one in this sampler from North Pole Records. The Benefactor Magazine bundled this CD with its March/April 2009 issue. Included are jewels that range from folk/acoustic/weird (1, 2, 3, 4), to cool electronic pulsing (5), to rock (7, 8). Rollerball is on here (9), and an Italian DJ offers interesting hip hop on 10. The star of the bunch is 9-year-old Road Race (6, 11), who plays keyboards and is accompanied by Shane deLeon. 11 proves him a DJ in his own right. Enjoy.
Picks: 1, 2, 8, 11.
FCC: Major language at beginning of 10.

Cudamani – “Cudamani” – [Vital Records]

humana   6/7/2009   CD, International

International: Cudamani, which means sincerity or wholeheartedness, is the name of the seven-tone gamelan orchestra from the village of Pengoskan, Bali. 33 male musicians were recorded by Wayne Vitale (director of Gamelan Sekar Jaya) on July 27, 2000 in Bali. The first 2 tracks are based on the 7-note scale, and are recent compositions for gamelan. The last 3 tracks are more traditional compositions from older times (1930 and 1920) and are meant to accompany dance. 3 is the only track containing vocals. Each track features gongs, metallophones, or flutes, and summons images of a culture that searches for purity through musical form and interpretation. Cudamani plays for artistic expression rather than for financial gain.
PGM: Each track ends at :14.

Terauchi, Takeshi & “Blue Jeans” – “Let’s Go Eleki Bushi” – [King Stereo]

humana   6/6/2009   CD, International

Japanese surf: Terauchi is Japan???s electric guitar surf hero. He started out in country and western but after the Ventures??? pivotal 1962 tour of Japan, he fronted surf bands and hasn???t looked back. The Blue Jeans change over the years, but Terauchi???s distinctive riffs and guitar remain constant. The 18 tracks on this CD are each a delight. 1 sounds distinctly Japanese. 6 has actual surf sounds and vocals. 12 starts with a baby crying. You can pretty much pick any song and be pleasantly surprised if you like surf.
PGM: All songs end around :03.

Sly and Robbie – “Master of Ceremony “Dub”” – [Attack]

humana   6/6/2009   CD, Reggae

Reggae: Sly is the drummer, and Robbie the bassist, of this famous Jamaican duo who have been working together since 1975. The 10 songs on this CD are primarily instrumental except for the glorious intros. 3 has some vocals to ???Legalize It???, and 10 also has vocals as an outro. The rest is pure dub, upbeat and characteristic of this pair who have played on about 50,000 tracks together. 10 is based on George Benson???s ???Breezin?????? and provides a nice finish to the CD.
Try: 3, 5, 7, 10.

Cause Co-Motion – “Because Because Because EP” – [Slumberland Records]

humana   6/5/2009   12-inch, A Library

Who needs uppers when you???ve got a gem like this on hand? Six very short, high-energy songs featuring Arno on vox/guitar, Liam on bass, Jock on drums, and Alex on guitar and you???re good to go for an hour or two. The guitar work is rocking and the youthfulness of this post-punk, low-fi group is contagious. I loved it. It will have you dancing frenetically if you have even a passing fancy for rock and roll.
PGM: Very short pauses between A2 and A3, B1 and B2.

Blackshaw, James – “Glass Bead Game, The” – [Young God Records]

humana   6/1/2009   A Library, CD

Put a 12-string guitar or piano in the hands of James Blackshaw and sit back and let him take you to realms of gorgeous melodic beauty. Lavinia Blackwall lends her vocals on 1 (no lyrics, only voice), John Contreras is on cello, and Joolie Wood adds violin, clarinet, and flute to the lovely textures created by Blackshaw. Blackshaw wrote this classically-flavored music, and it is indeed healing, as Michael Gyra states on the back CD cover. All instrumental.
Picks: 4, 5.
PGM: 1 ends at :25, 2 at :18, 3 at :22, 4 at :20, and 5 at :18.

Strike100 CD [coll] – [Shitkatapult]

humana   5/30/2009   A Library, CD

Electronic: This collection celebrates the 100th release in the Shitkatapult catalog. Most of the tracks on these 2 CDs are previously unreleased, and the overall feeling is one of gentle mellowness, even on the noise tracks. CD1 features an Apparat Remix of a Johnny Cash tune, ducks quacking in field recordings on 7, high-tension wire evanescence on Jan Jelinek???s song played by Frank Bretschneiden (13). CD2 has more melodic textures, with piano on 2 and 5, lullabies by Anders Ilar on 11, and beautiful vibes on the Ag Penthouse remix of 12. All in all a most relaxing, enjoyable experience.
PGM: CD 1: Vox on 6; CD2: Vox on 1, 5, 12. Look for all songs to end as early as :10.

Akritas – “First Drop of My Life, The/Pan” – [Anazitisi Records]

humana   5/26/2009   7-inch, A Library

Bundled with the “Akritas” 12″ comes this one and only 7″ 1973 single of “The First Drop of My Life’ and “Pan” from Greek band Akritas. Stavros Logarides does vocals, guitar, and bass, Giorgos Tsoupakis is on drums, and Aris Tasoulis is on organ for “First Drop” and piano for “Pan.” After a mellow and somewhat mournful beginning, “First Drop” picks up with a chorus and jazzy outro. “Pan” is my preferred track, with its quick-tempo piano and chorus at the beginning, and Logarides’ distinctive voice and guitar closing out the song. The lyrics may be in Greek, but the progressive rock on this offering has a universal appeal.

Balky Mule, The – “Length of The Rail, The” – [Fatcat Records]

humana   5/24/2009   A Library, CD

Folk Rock: Sam Jones is the Balky Mule, and in this CD he offers upliftingly simple, quirky folk with refreshing lyrics. Music was recorded in Bristol, UK, and singing in Melbourne, Australia, and mixed by Jones on his VF160 multi-track recorder. Gentle sounds of guitar, percussion, voice (compared to the Kinks??? Ray Davies), and some electronics combine to make this a down-home production that will appeal to many.
Picks: 4, 2, 3, 6, 9.
PGM: 6 and 12 are instrumentals. Look for songs to end as early as :06.

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