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Mac

Br. Danielson – Brother is to Son – [Secretly Canadian]

Mac   4/16/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Br. Danielson
Brother is to Son
[Secretly Canadian]
Here we have the 6th full-length Danielson Famile release, and you’re
in for another romp through indie folk pop. This is Daniel Smith’s
(aka Brother Danielson) personal project but stays in the Famile mold
of lo-fi unconventional spiritual exploration. The term Christian
rock DOESN’T apply here. The nonsecular messages often don’t require
a religious context, and the music is a real treat.
The album has two halves – songs 1-5 are upbeat rockin’ jamborees
featuring Daniel’s acoustic guitar and distinct falsetto vocals
/yelps. The family backs up (and I mean family, the Danielson clan is
a modern Partridge family, hear track 10’s chorus: “Sisters and
daughters and brothers and sons are we.”). Backing up are heavy doses
of chorus singing (bordering on screaming) and a spattering of
instruments including classics: piano/electric guitar and down-home
goodness: banjo, jaw harp, and tambourines. The arrangements are
more complex than previous Famile releases and the result is
captivating. They sound like a country lo-fi version of the Shins.
Each song has a different raw sound, so don’t dismiss the album based
on one song.
Track 6 represents a transition to the second half of the half, where
Daniel tones it down and pours his emotion into slow, vulnerable tales
of spirituality. Of the three following songs, track 9 was my fav.
Track 10 brings it all back together with a solid upbeat finale of
family chorus.
Overall I’d call it the best Danielson Famile release to date.
– Brother Mac

Plaid “Not For Threes” [Warp Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Electronica from the duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner. Two-third’s of the trio making up the techno group The Black Dog, Handley and Turner’s association pre-dated Black Dog, and after the trio split up they returned as Plaid, where they offer a more approachable sound.
Lighter than your average club music, the beats are reminiscent of the emerging 80’s electro-techno but with a complexity stemming from modern house music. For a harder edge, try track 7. For a techno-pop sound of the more mainstream there are some guest vocal tracks (T6 Nicolette, T9 Mara and Benet T9 Bjork T12 Leila Arab). Yes, the Bjork, but I liked Nicolette’s offering more. My favourite tracks were the three shortest (T 5, 11, 13). They give you that danceable repetitive beat but by keeping it short don’t bore you.

Banyan “Live at Perkins? Palace” [Sanctuary Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library

Led by Stephen Perkins, formerly of Jane’s Addiction, this indie-pop is too jazzy for rock and too rocky for jazz. Meeting somewhere in the middle, Perkins (drummer), Mike Watt (bass), Willie Waldman (trumpet) and Nels Cline (guitar) cover as much ground as the Indian fig tree the band is named after. They’ll shift things to high gear on tracks #1 & #7 with hard driving rock/pop, then slow things down to the smooth soft sounds of tracks like #3 and #8. Playing to genre stereotypes, the faster songs sound more like rock and the slower songs fall more into the jazz groove. Elements of both are still found on every track. Though the album says Live on the cover, a few studio effects have found their way onto the recording. Final note: the last track, Fun House, is a Stooges cover.

[coll] Cambodian Rocks [Parallel World]

Mac   3/5/2005   CD, Format, International

In the mid 60’s the American music scene was invaded by the British. By the late 60’s America was invading Cambodia. Surf, psych, pop, rock, and soul found their way into the country and out came the Cambodian flavored songs on this CD. Mad guitar riffs, catchy melodies, and weird vocals (all the singing is in Cambodian) go beyond mere imitation. Though inspired by the American greats, they manage to find their own sound, and it rivals the best garage bands America had to offer. The various rock sounds merge in ways no Americans explored, and the high pitched female vocals on half the tracks and occasional odd instruments add a truly Cambodian sound. None of the artists are named and no liner notes are given. The tracks were collected from old cassettes (see story on back). Highlights include the covers of Fleetwood Mac’s Black Magic Woman (T5) and Them’s Gloria (T13). Burned forever into my mind is the hilarious imitation of James Brown on T8. In a place with war just across the border and a political coup at home, these musicians found in rock music a way to escape and have some fun. The passion with which they play is reflected in their music, and it can blow you away. Sit back and have a rockin’ good time, courtesy of Cambodia.

John Zorn “The Circle Maker” [Tzadik]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Disc 1 -Issachar
Disc 2 – Zevulun
The alter cockers (old Jewish folk) will be saying oy
gevalt! This Zorn fellow, what a fershtinkiner, he
thinks he can take sacred klezmer musical tradition
and turn it into ongepotchket shmutzik (dirt slapped
together without form). What do those schmucks know?
Gornisht (Nothing), that’s what. Zorn’s shtick is to
blend modern jazz with traditional Jewish melodies.
He went about composing over 200 of these Jewish
fusion tunes, calling them collectively the Masada
song book. What a mechaiyeh (joy) they are to listen
to.
Originally written for the Masada quartet (violin,
bass, cello, sax) the double CD in your hands switches
up the arrangements.
The Issachar side has some serious zetz (a stong blow
or punch). Featuring the Masada String Trio (the old
quartet sans Zorn’s sax), you find zwinging zets with
zimple melodies and that special Jewish flavour.
Zevulum has a more haimish (down-to-earth) quality.
Not overly schmaltzy, there’s some fine playing here
by the Bar Kokhba Sextet (the Masada Trio + guitar,
percussion, & drums). More laid back than disc 1, the
zound is shtill zeiseh (sweet).
That Zorn fellow, what a mensch he is.

[coll] Archiv 1.1 [Raster-Nolten]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Retrospective minimalist collection from German label Raster-Nolten from ’97 to ’04. Many years, many styles of minimalism. All tracks new or previously unreleased. Varied track times. Minimalist review for minimalist music: 1) intro 2) drone 3) ambient 4) clicks n? pops 5) drone w/ beat + vocal 6) drone 7) clicky drone w/ light beat 8) staticy beat 9) pain 10) zips n? pops 11) click drone 12) zips n? clicks 13) minimal pop 14) click drone 15) drone

Windmill “Every Last Windmill Shall Fall” [Big Spoon Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Indie-pop/rock project out of Boston put together by Kent Randell. The album is more compilation than single band. Though all the songs were written by Randell, the styles vary greatly. The first four tracks are your standard pop/rock tracks, with #1 being more upbeat and the other three much moodier. Those are fine songs, but the real fun starts on track 5. It’s still a mopey pop song, but it begins with a chorus of barking dogs and later falls into a piano solo. #6 is a neat, quick instrumental piece featuring guitar. #7 goes back to the soft-rock, but instead of lead guitar there’s a lead harmonica. #8 really breaks the mold with some haunting female vocals. #9 is a fun tune that’s a little too silly sounding to be a serious tune, which is probably the point. It’s mostly guitar and lead singer with a guy clapping in sync with the intro. #10 features nothing you haven’t heard before, with hard playing college rock, though the end dissolves into white noise. Same things happens to an even more extreme degree on #11, but this time the noise craze happens in the middle. #12’s is a less polished and less focused song with vocals inspired by the movie Nostalghia by Tarkovsky. The liner notes for track 12 are: ‘Today in the mail I received a glockenspiel.’ An amazing track centered around the glockenspiel (a cousin of the xylophone), this instrumental piece (there’s a faint bit of human vocals, but not singing) is a truly beautiful and totally unexpected from a pop/rock album.
Fun note: God is in the liner notes, having contributed thunder and rain to track 11.

Yowie “Cryptooology” [Skin Graft Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The band takes its name from the Australian version of Bigfoot. It might also be the sound one utters when first hearing the band play. Working in the math rock mold one finds two warbley guitars and a drum having seizures as they fly all over the place in fast paced and aggressive style that produced tuneless tunefulness. All the tracks are composed out of this sonic chaos, so if you’ve heard one Yowie track you’ve heard ’em all, but as an album running just under a half-hour it makes for a short sweet debut.

Cheer Up Poems “Our Two Strings” [Wire Heart Recordings]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library

Hailing from sleepy Duluth, MN comes Bill Reichelt’s venture into the world of electro-psych folk. These eight short songs explore many realms. For pure ambience, travel to the far lands of tracks 1, 4, and 8 whose beauty left Bill speechless.
Those with an itch for adventure should scale the twin peaks of tracks 2 & 6 and find at their zenith the rockin’ psych that combines the hard playing of the mountains with the calm obtained from standing atop the clouds. Here Bill’s lyrics fade into the expansive musical beyond.
After a long day’s journey, sit under the stars around the fire and put on tracks 3, 5 and 7 where Bill’s raspy, plaintive vocals will send you on a sleepy voyage to the dream world.