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.

Red Masque, The – “Fossileyes ” – [Ad Hoc]

humana   9/26/2008   A Library, CD

Avant Rock/Psychedelic: This is plain weird and therefore great. Hailing from Philadelphia and featuring boss bass and electric guitar by Vonorn and rich vocals from Lynnette Shelley, Red Masque offers a unique array of tracks with ultra-cool and creepy lyrics touching on themes such as Polyphemus, moths, spiders, snails, and carbon???s role in dating fossils. The music here is intense, varied, and ranging from folk to Old World accordion to horror soundscapes to all-out brilliant rockouts with psyche guitar solos. This will appeal to many. Bravo! Picks: 2, 9, 11, 1. PGM: Almost all songs end around :02.

Stott, Andy – “Unknown Exception ” – [Modern Love]

humana   9/21/2008   A Library, CD

Selected Tracks Vol. 1, 2004-2008: This compilation of Andy Stott???s work from 2004 to 2008 features his signature fusion of dubstep, house, techno, and electronica. Twelve tracks offer a selection of beats, from the darker in mood to the more upbeat, and all of them are dancy. This UK musician has definitely carved out a place for himself in the world of electronica at a young age. I prefer the more varied and textured tracks (4, 5, 11) to the more minimal, spare ones (1, 2, 3). The percussion is pretty cool on 6, 9,. PGM: Tracks end as early as :10.

Dungen – “4 ” – [Kemado Records]

humana   9/20/2008   A Library, CD

Psychedelic/Pop: This is superior listening in my book. It???s very well-produced and just very appetizing on all kinds of fronts. Gustav Ejstes/Dungen shines on piano, and guitars, bass, and flutes join him as he sings Swedish lyrics on some of the tracks. A lot of the tracks have a dreamy, upbeat quality to them with a nice momentum of beats and an overall romantic quality that is tempered by discordance at just the right moment. If you love psyche guitar, play 4 and 9 (which is more mellow and jazzy). Picks: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9. PGM: 8 tracks to 9 seamlessly. Some tracks end as early as :06.

Linfinity – “Live At Marcata Demos ” – [Saint Ives]

humana   9/19/2008   12-inch, A Library

Rock/Pop: Dylan Von Wagner (aka The Screaming Pelican) lends his voice (which sounds somewhat like Bruce Springsteen???s) to every song on this, and is accompanied only by guitar (Josh Collins) as far as I can tell. So this is a primarily acoustic album. I much prefer Side B to Side A. The songs are more distinct from each other and more interesting. Side B track 3 sounds like Elvis and is fast-paced like a receding train. Side B track 4 is a sad, acoustic ballad. FCC: Side B, track 7 ???fuck???.

Legendary Pink Dots – “Plutonium Blonde ” – [Roir]

humana   9/19/2008   A Library, CD

Psychedelic/Experimental: Every song on here is worthwhile, and the range of moods is wide. Edward Ka-Spel???s British-accented vocals alternate from eeriness as though echoing through a tube (1 and especially 6 where he narrates in a Rod Serling-like way), to playfulness on 4 (a song about texting) and 7 (where a banjo adds to the innocence). Track 3 has an acoustic folk feel, while Track 9 has a tropical element to it and is purely instrumental with its jungle percussion, while Track 10 is haunting and depressing with its lyrical content about a virtual world of lonesomeness. Track 10 is perhaps the most epic of the tracks in its simulation of water sounds and outboard motors whirring with minimal keys and synths and chanting lyrics. It???s like a dramatic plunge into the deep. Enjoy.

Redlands Music For Clarinets [coll] – [Zanja Records]

humana   9/18/2008   12-inch, A Library

Classical: The notes found on the back album cover give pertinent details on each of these clarinet pieces, whose composers are somehow affiliated with University of Redlands in California. This is exactly what you???d expect to hear if you were attending a university concert–classical elegance with an intellectual bent. Only clarinets are heard here, and this impresses you with the versatility of the instrument. I highly recommend the Christopher Hobbs track (Side One, #2) for its variety of movements, tempos, and moods. Alexandra Pierce???s composition (Side 2, #2) is noteworthy since she focuses on how the structure and movement of music relates to that of the human body. PGM: Do not panic because of the pauses–the tracks are long but have definite silences between the movements.

Phantom Buffalo – “Take to the Trees ” – [Time-Lag Records]

humana   9/15/2008   12-inch, A Library

Psychedelic pop: Drop this onto your turntable and sail back through time to the 60s. This Portland, Maine band is definitely a throwback to earlier times when catchy, upbeat melodies and captivating lyrics (too bad they aren???t printed out) provided the soundtrack to a more mellow life. Jonathan Balzano-Brookes (vocals, guitar), Tim Brrns (guitar, vocals), Philip Willey (guitar, accordion, keyboards), and Joe Domrad (drums) deliver a well-produced album of sounds that hearken to a more psychedelic, innocent time. A couple of the tunes have a folk/fairytale element to them (???Five Charming Animals??? and ???I???ll Be There in July???). This is a mood lifter and worth a listen. They???ve been compared to The Byrds and The New Pornographers.

Ahmed, Ilyas – “Between Two Skies/Towards The Night ” – [Digitalis Industries]

humana   9/12/2008   A Library, CD

In 2005 Ilyas Ahmed released these two CDs from a Minnesota farm where he was holed up. Read the liner notes for enlightenment. This is a re-release. Pakistani-born but U.S.-raised, Ahmed is portrayed as a loner, and these CDs are his postcards to the world. CD1, ???Between Two Skies,??? is a subdued, gentle collection of guitar strummings occasionally accented by piano, bells, and Ahmed???s unintelligible vocalizations (yes, they are eerie, but not overpowering). CD2 is more spare and intense than CD1 in that it features mainly guitar. It???s pretty guitar, but the overall mood of both CDs is contemplative and sad (although I???ve starred some more upbeat pieces). This is good for an injection of mellowness or as bed music. PGM: CD1, track 7 ends at :13. CD2, track 4 ends at :11. All other tracks end as early as :07.

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