Hush Arbors – “S/T ” – [Ecstatic Peace!]

humana   11/17/2008   A Library, CD

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.

Big Blood & The Bleeding Hearts – “Oh Country ” – [dontrustheruin]

humana   11/16/2008   A Library, CD

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.

Cotton Jones Basket Ride – “River Strumming, The ” – [Saint Ives]

humana   11/12/2008   12-inch, A Library

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.

Sinks – “Beat Out My Brains ” – [Fashionable Idiots]

humana   11/7/2008   7-inch, A Library

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.

Rodent Plague – “Blue Wave / Return to Zero ” – [kill shaman]

humana   11/7/2008   7-inch, A Library

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.

King Tubby…At The Controls Various Artists [coll] – [Trojan Records]

humana   11/4/2008   CD, Reggae

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.

Dead Western – “Soften Your Screams Into Sings ” – [KDVS Recordings]

humana   11/1/2008   12-inch, A Library

When you listen to this album, you may wonder if you have accidentally gottn the speed on 78 rpm instead of 33. That is just the way Troy Mighty???s voice sounds. It is deep, rich, and spooky. Likewise, his gentle guitar strumming belies the deeply disturbing nature of some of the lyrics. Peruse the hand-screen-printed lyrics and packaging of this limited to 500 edition, dabble in the sounds of guitar sometimes enhanced by violin and accordion that lull you into a rest that is broken as soon as you realize what the words are saying. See liner for my picks.

Dead Western – “S/T ” – [Weird Forest Records]

humana   11/1/2008   7-inch, A Library

The difference between this 7??? and the other LP from Dead Western is that Side A of this has percussion. It???s 3:10, the first 2:30 with drums, the last 1:40 with just the signature guitar and deep voice of Troy Mighty. Side B is lovelier and much sadder, with soothing waves going in and out in the background, and bells or chimes adding to the mournful atmosphere created by the voices. Weird Forest is the label, and a good way to describe this music–weird, haunting, and very KFJC.

Vivian Girls – “S/T ” – [In The Red Records]

humana   10/25/2008   A Library, CD

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.

School of Seven Bells – “Alpinisms ” – [Ghostly International]

humana   10/25/2008   A Library, CD

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.

Yoome – “Boredom of Me, The ” – [Audio 8]

humana   10/21/2008   A Library, CD

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.

Rowland, Jess – “Problem With The Soda Machine, The ” – [Edgetone Records]

humana   10/18/2008   A Library, CD

Is it easier to understand microwave ovens and windows than vending machines? This is the question treated in this quirky CD, inspired by a set of work emails (found in the liner notes) regarding a faulty vending machine in a break room. You have to listen to believe it. Full of dramatic music with humorously ridiculous content–irony is the order of the day here. And tongue in cheek is the mode. Jess Rowland???s creativity and willingness to make music out of any subject is admirable. PGM: Tracks end as early as :08, and 12 tracks through to 13. Picks: 7, 10, 5.

Perry, Lee “Scratch” – “Scratch Came, Scratch Saw, Scratch Conquered ” – [Megawave Records]

humana   10/16/2008   CD, Reggae

Reggae: Just as the first track suggests (???Having a Party???), the mood on this CD from legendary Lee ???Scratch??? Perry is upbeat and festive. The 72-year-old musician is joined by Keith Richards on electric guitar for Tracks 2 and 11, and by George Clinton on Track 8 for a total funk-out. Track 7 has bagpipes, and other tracks are spiced up by horns and temple bells. FCC: 12, 13. PGM: Tracks end as early as :05. Track times listed on insert. Favorites circled on back cover.

We Drew Lightning – “Swimming with Orange ” – [High Mayhem]

humana   10/14/2008   A Library, CD

Although We Drew Lightning purports to be genre-transcending, this CD has heavy psychedelic overtones. The vocals fade into the background of guitar, piano, drums, electronics, banjo, and cello, and the journey is sometimes trance-like, other times jarring. Each song on here will appeal to different people, although my favorite is 5. PGM: Most tracks end at :05, except 2 which ends cold at :10, and 9, which ends right at :01, seeming to track into 10 except that 10 starts with a bang so the transition isn’t smooth.

Cross, Milton – “Light in the West ” – [Digitalis Industries]

humana   10/12/2008   A Library, CD

Milton Cross??? instrument is the violin, and the first track on his CD gives him a chance to show his classical skills as he races around the strings while an accordion (or organ?) drones in the background. The rest of the tracks exhibit Cross??? prowess as field recording master, with crunching leaves on 4, rain on 5 and 10, water flowing through 7, and bird sounds on 5 and owls on 10. The violin can be heard plucking on 2 and 7, and returns more emphatically on 8 with a cheerful sound. On 10 the violin is present in the background as it comes and goes amid wet outside noises and owl hoots. PGM: 9 gets increasingly quiet at :29, and 10 ends at :14. The rest end as early as :05.

Dot Tape Dot – “Tomavistas: [Selected Rarities 2002-2007] ” – [Other-Electricities]

humana   10/10/2008   A Library, CD

Spanish electroacoustic folk: Sit down, close your eyes, and let these songs wash over you as you listen to their lush textures and try to discern one sound and its source from the others. You???ll hear acoustic and Spanish guitar, toy accordion, violin, glockenspiel, laptop electronics, and field sounds. Minimal vocals (1), primarily laptop (3, 7), acoustic/folk (1, 2, 8, 12), field sounds (9, 11). Highly pleasant ambience abounds. See liner notes for track times, favorites, and musicians. PGM: 1 ends at :09, 12 ends cold.

Beachkrieg – “Surf! ” – [Self Release]

humana   10/5/2008   A Library, CD

Surf: Just as charming as the songs on this CD is the story behind them, contained on tracks 1, 3, and 9. Strong Farfisa organ on 7 and drumming on 5 and 10. ???Some say that Beachkrieg were drawn to the Bay Area in their search for Phil Dirt, the longtime KFJC DJ, whom they believe is either some sort of Tiki god, or possibly a high ranking Prussian officer (sources conflict on this).??? So says Beachkrieg???s My Space page. Given this devotion to our own Phil Dirt, and their thank you to KFJC inside the CD, all that???s left to say is, ???Surf???s up!???

Deerhoof – “Offend Maggie ” – [Kill Rock Stars]

humana   10/3/2008   A Library, CD

Indie Rock: Fresh is the best way to describe the sounds on this CD from the San Francisco-based foursome of Satomi Matsuzaki (vocals and bass), John Dieterich (guitar), Ed Rodriguez (guitar), and Greg Saunier (drums). Matsuzaki???s clear, childlike vocals stand out in most of the tracks (the words sung in Japanese are in italics in the insert). Lyrics are interesting if confusing at times, and guitar work and bass are often stellar in their dissonance and innovative tempos. Deerhoof has some longevity and this CD proves that the band still has a lot to offer. See insert for lyrics and my favorites. PGM: Songs end as early as :07.

Baker, John – “John Baker Tapes, The Volume 1 ” – [Trunk Records]

humana   10/2/2008   A Library, CD

These 49 short tracks cover John Baker???s tenure at the BBC Radiophonics Workshop between 1963 and 1974. Alan Gubby and others salvaged these gems from over 30 reels of tape created before synths, digital, sampling, and multitrack recordings evolved (22 has an interview on technique). Each and every one is a tribute to an artist whose creativity and vision graced the soundtrack world with upbeat, jazzy, whimsical, sometimes eerie themes for TV (15 is ???Dial M for Murder???), news bulletins, plays, game shows, dramas, documentaries, and children???s programs. I???ve circled my favorites. Great liner notes and back CD cover. PGM: Most tracks are under a minute so don???t get caught.

Barr, Brad – “Fall Apartment, The Instrumental Guitar ” – [Tompkins Square]

humana   9/28/2008   A Library, CD

Brad Barr turns out a fine solo CD of folk acoustic guitar here with utterly enjoyable melodies that exhibit his skill at guitar-picking. Overall upbeat and very pretty, all but a few of these are original compositions. 3 is a cover of the Cuban ???Maria La O???, 6 is a cover of a Kurt Cobain song, and 8 is a track by Le Ferret Trio which is quite nicely done and calls to mind a carnival atmosphere. It???s amazing what one guitar can do with such a versatile player. The only tracks with extra sounds are 5 (rain) and 10 (percussive noise). 1 and 11 form nice bookends to the rest of these very pleasant tracks. PGM: Most tracks end around :10 so be wary.

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