This is a fine product of the 13th reunion of five friends who one day out of the year become the Monkey Power Trio. Highly amusing are each of these songs, from the mellow ???Hit it With a Bible??? to the Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired, more rocking ???Kraken.??? Recorder, guitars, and bass back up humorous vocals. There???s a soul vibe to ???Juicy Peaches,??? which mentions Captain James T. Kirk. ???Buddha Sings??? is like a Sunday school song. One guy sings the lyrics while the others chime in commentary as chorus–it???s humorous and fun. Not bad for a once-a-year gig.
Slap this one on your turntable for a nice morning repast of sinister folk loveliness from Language of Light, then chase it with a dose of tribal percussion and banjo from Crow Tongue. Each song has fascinating lyrics, which are included in the covers. Out of Stillwater, Oklahoma, Language of Light (Frank Suchomel and R. Loftiss) deliver ???The Tower,??? which begins with a girl child???s voice telling a story as though through a tube, accompanied by guitar. Then the ???parents??? warn her never to go back to her ???cold and lonely path of dreams???. The sinister lyrics belie the pretty, calming nature of the music that includes violin by Justin Jones and vocals by Sarah Hughes. On the flip side, Crow Tongue (of Beating Heart, Pennsylvania) bring us ???Wind Chant,??? a very simple, appealing tune that ends with a high-pitched chant that could be a female, train, or the wind. tiMOTHy on guimbri banjo (his invention based on a Moroccan instrument) and AE Hoskin on percussion (djembe and kit). show us that the beat is the thing, and it is steady, repetitive, insistent. tiMOTHy???s vocals are deep, clear, and interesting. The song moves along for all its repetition, and reminds me of a Marikesh market.
Dancehall vocalist: The clear, youthful voice of Jonnie Clarke is the standout instrument in these tracks whose subject is primarily romance with a bit of moralizing sprinkled in (B3). ???Remember Me??? (B4) was later sung by Diana Ross & the Supremes. There???s an upbeat, dancey party vibe going on throughout this album, produced by Bunny Lee and featuring Augustus Pablo on organ. The Aggrovators are mentioned on the back cover as well. I???ve starred my favorites.
Garage rock: ???Stay Awake??? is a good name for this EP–it consists of very energetic, fast-paced tracks that they recommend you ???play loud.??? Out of Columbus, Ohio come low-fi, distorted yet melodic sounds from guitarist Jared Phillips, drummer Adam Elliott, and keyboardist Beth Murphy. Murphy???s voice is the most evident, although Elliott???s is obvious on B2. B1 is the only subdued track. Try A2 and B2, and listen for interesting lyrics when you can make them out. PGM: Very small segue between A2 and A3; no segue between B1 and B2.
Psyche pop: The San Francisco duo of Matt Hartman (drums) and Mike Donovan (guitars) cover Throbbing Gristle???s ???United??? on this one-sided 7???. The song is as upbeat as the bright yellow vinyl it???s recorded on. Although you can???t really hear what they???re saying (beyond ???united???), their voices are pleasing, as is their low-fi musicianship. The result is one of gladness that the duo may stay united long enough to make more ???happy??? music together.
Jazz: As the stellar liner notes describe, Denman Maroney???s music is complex yet listenable. The conversations among the quartet???s instruments–Maroney???s piano and hyperpiano; Ned Rothenberg???s alto saxophone, clarinet, and bass clarinet; Reuben Radding???s double-bass and bass guitar; and Michael Sarin???s drums and percussion–take on blues form (1, 6, 7) in addition to jaunty and staccato avant-garde moods (5, 2, 3, 4). The result is a stand-up listening experience.
PGM: Endings as early as :10 on 5, 6, 7, and 8. Track 8 quiets way down near 1:00 for a subdued outro.
Gianmarco Liguori cooks up some enchanting sounds in New Zealand. All of these tracks are instrumental, featuring Liguori on guitars, electric bass, African piano, drum machine, treatments, and electronics; Murray McNabb on synthesizer, Fender Rhodes, organ, electronics; and Kim Paterson on drums, trumpet, percussion, and African piano. Liguori???s predilection for 60s soundracks is evident in these beat-driven, atmospheric pieces that are polished, pleasing, and just plain cool. Track 4 stands out with its guitars and the psychedelic hints mixed with jazz. Exotic and romantic flavors move through this CD to make it well worth a listen. Picks: 4, 6, 8, 1, 7.
PGM: Track 7 fades out at :05, Track 8 at :03.
3WR: Jazzy instrumental finesse
Woman is four guys from Knoxville, TN who claim their music is hyphy (rambunctious) and post-punk. Chris Lowe on vocals, Jason Stark on drums, Damion Huntoon on bass, and Tyler Mucklow on guitar here offer us four songs that are definitely high-energy. Although Track 1 declares itself ???Not Quite Metal,??? I beg to differ. The lyrics are unintelligible but ever-present in these tracks, as is the thrashing guitar. The drums are great. My favorites are 2 (???No Mr. 31,??? in which they prove they can count to 31), and 3 (???Sssubtle Lady??? in which the music is anything but subtle). Each song ends around :04, and from what I can tell, the lyrics are clean.
Colleen Kinsella and Caleb Mulkerin are back, this time with Tom Kovacevic, Micah Blue Smaldone, and Chriss Sutherland. They???ve gone from using electric instruments in Cerberus Shoal to all acoustic here with these 12 tracks of down-home Americana. Banjo, accordion, guitar, jembe, tamborine, bass, oud combine with the harmonies of each of the band members??? voices in a predominantly upbeat slice of the life they share in their house in Maine. It???s quite obvious that they play music for the joy of the expression (9), and the lyrics are cool: (???It???s your family that drives you out of your mind??? ; life as a chess game ). Picks: 9, 10, 12, 5, 3. PGM: Watch for songs to end as early as :07.
Pop Ambient 2005 – Coll.: Kompakt (2005)
Kompakt has done it again, this time providing us with a nice sampling of ambient offerings. Whether you enjoy soothing yet energetic percussive pulses (4, 10, 12) or shimmering sound structures that advance like a wave that takes you with it, then washes over you gently as it leaves you on the shore in bliss (4, 5, 9), there???s sure to be something here for you. It???s like musical comfort food. Picks: 5, 4, 3, 10, 12. PGM: Most tracks end around :05, but 5 and 9 end at :09, and 8 ends at :12.
Garage pop: This is music that sounds like surf with erudite lyrics by Brad Hargett (get out your dictionaries for 9). So what if those lyrics are sung in a very echoey, dark way that is faintly reminiscent of the Doors? They are thought-provoking, especially set to the strumming bass, ever-present tambourine, organ, and occasional harmonica that provide the texture for these mostly fast-paced songs. The CD ends on a nice, mellow note (11), but the standouts are the ones that make you want to dance: 2, 6, 5. PGM: 2 and 10 end at :06, 3 and 4 at :07, 6 and 9 at :05, and 8 at :10. The others end at :03.
British folk: In 1969, when this album was released, Sally Oldfield was 21 and her brother Mike was 16. It???s filled with enchanting tales of a different world based on knights, princes, and imagination. Renaissance and romance flavor nearly every track, and although the lyrics drip with sappiness, the sister/brother duo harmonize with each other beautifully to the accompaniment of their guitars, and other musicians add flute (which flies in and out like a bird), drums, finger cymbals, tambourine, triangle, and string arrangements of violins, viola, cello, and harpsichord. ???The Murder of the Children of San Francisco??? is a remarkable story sung by dramatic voices–the high-pitched sweetness of a child, the harsh indifference of the male, and the angry righteousness of the wife. ???Strangers??? bookends all the songs, reminding you to cut the singers some slack because they present this as a tribute to ???strangers with sunlight in their eyes.??? I admit it, I loved it. Give it a whirl.
Felix Kubin is an electronic musician (organ, piano, glockenspiel, Korg synthesizer) and composed the songs on this album to go with three plays. Side A has soundtracks to ???Zufall,??? by Vladimir Nabokov, and ???Hollywood Elegien,??? by Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler. Side B has tracks that go with ???The Raft, by Xentos Fray Bentos and Regie Lukas Simonis. All provide a pleasurable listening experience, but I particularly recommend ???Hollywood??? (A7) for its really lovely sounds (kind of like a music box with each discrete note coming across and accentuated by violin). ???Am Pool??? (A11) is pretty, slow, and sedate with organ. B4 (???The New Weapon???) has energetic beats. A10 and B1 make you feel like you???re on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland, while B2 and B10 are whimsically funky. B11 (???Miraculous Rescue???) hints at island lushness and the relief of paradise with only hints of the foregoing dangerous adventure in the background.
The insistent nature of this music reminds me of ???Go Ask Alice.??? Religious Knives is a four-piece from Brooklyn, NY whose percussion, organ, guitar, bass, and synth create sometimes quite cool, other times rather eerie, beats. Michael Bernsteinn and Maya Miller also add their voices to these tunes whose lyrics are noteworthy if esoteric. One reviewer described this music as ???emphasizing Krautrock rhythms and bright synth drones.??? Picks: 1, 4, 5. FCC: 6 (???fucking???). PGM: 5 & 6 end about :04.
Psychedelic Folk: Keith Wood and Leon Dufficy are Hush Arbors, a Virginia band whose electric psych guitars contrast nicely with acoustic guitar strumming. Wood???s vocals bring to mind America and Neil Young. This is an interesting mix of intensely mellow music. PGM: All songs end around :05, except 5, which ends at :16, and 7 which ends at :10. Try: 7, 6, 2, 3.
Freak folk: Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella (formerly of Cerberus Shoal) join with the Bleeding Hearts (Tom Kovacevic, Micah Blue Smaldone, and Kelly Nesbitt) to bring you a CD of mostly mellow, yet sometimes eerie and disturbing songs featuring interesting lyrics (except for 3, which consists mainly of sounds of water dripping from a faucet). Mulkerin???s distinctive vocals are complemented by Kinsella???s high-pitched warbling that sometimes borders on screeching. On 7 the voices are quite pleasing (is it Kinsella or Nesbitt?). Guitar, piano, chimes, gongs, tambourines help to round out the sounds hailing from Maine. FCC: 5 (???fucked-up???); PGM: 6 & 8 end at :05. Picks: 7, 4, 5, 8, 10.
This effort by Michael Nau of Maryland is thoroughly mellow in a snazzy, soul, country vibe way. His lyrics are pretty interesting, and his themes recur (???this is how it feels when you got no one??? and ???velvet dream??? and ???velvet kind of morning???) as he sings them in a distinctive, appealing nasal tone. Guitars, bass, tambourines, organ, percussion, and occasional choruses back Nau up as he goes from song to song with hardly a pause between (watch out for this on nearly every song). ???To Death With You??? is somewhat bluesy; ???Chewing Gum (Concrete Teet Mix)??? is jazzy; ???Midnight Monday, and a Telescope??? is kind of cool; ???If I Ever Grow That Old??? morphs from jazz to rock; ???I Do What I Do: Exist & Pass??? has good instrumental sections; ???It May Never Pass Again??? is very poppy sounding and hearkens to Seals and Crofts; ???I Don???t Suppose??? ends the album with a nice, lazy guitar and sounds like a snazzy hymn.
A gem of a 7??? from the Minneapolis garage rock trio. Side A has ???Beat Out My Brains,??? a catchy, stellar little number with boss guitar. Side B has ???Don???t Wanna Go To Work,??? the standout on this 7??? with hard-to-decipher vocals, but you get the idea from the title. Great guitar break-outs and powered-up vocals at the end. The second Side B track is ???3025,??? which is fast-paced but not spectacular and faintly reminiscent of Tommy Tutone???s ???867-5309/Jenny.??? Sinks are a breath of fresh garage-rock air, fumes and all. Definitely worthy of many spins.
Neo-surf: Erin Sullivan branches out from the A-Frames and AFCGT with Rodent Plague. On this 7??? he delivers two fairly innocuous, mellow tunes. ???Blue Wave??? is a very surf-y sounding instrumental with electric guitar waving in and out. Quite nice with shaker-like percussion giving a surf-like effect. ???Return to Zero??? is also an instrumental that has sort of a samba beat with more synths and drum machine and popping percussion. Two short forays into an eerie surf territory.
Released in 1999, this collection is meant to honor the 10th anniversary of King Tubby???s death by gathering 22 of his classic tracks from Trojan???s catalogue. The Aggrovators, Augustas Pablo, the Observers, Soul Syndicate, among others are featured here. The upbeat dub and reggae of the Jamaican master reverberate through every track. Read the liner notes for further information. Picks: 5, 7, 8, 12, 19, 21.
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