Grand General – “Grand General” – [Rune Grammofon]

Naysayer   2/15/2013   A Library, CD

Grand General (album of the same name) is a sort of Norwegian alternative super group made up of 5 prolific musicians. This is contemporary prog rock/prog jazz with a a hint of Norwegian folk music. Think Mahavishnu Orchestra in the snow. The six cuts cover a lot of musical territory. Very orchestral. Very melodic. Lots of rhythm. Big solos. With music like this the violin really stands out and Ola Kvernberg’s violin playing is no exception. His violin and the guitar lines really play with and around each other adding to this very full sound. But it is the bass and especially drums that get my attention. Kenneth Kapstad (from Motorpsycho) really pounds away on tracks 1 & 2 and adds beautifully subtle nuances on tracks 3 & 5. Not all of these songs are full sounding. There are quieter pieces and quieter moments, but still very rich. On the Rune Grammofon label, this is produced, tight music. But don’t let that scare you.

Bannon, Lee – “Fantastic Plastic” – [Plug Research]

Naysayer   2/13/2013   12-inch, Hip Hop

Bannon, Lee: “Fantastic Plastic” Plug Research

Lee Bannon is a hip hop producer hailing from Sacramento. “Fantastic Plastic”, his Plug Research release, is a collection of instrumental sampled pieces and tracks with verse by featured hip hop artists. Though the vocal tracks are good, with Bannon bringing some interesting production choices into the mix, it’s the

instrumental pieces which really allow him to shine and experiment. This is experimental hip hop using old tv and radio commercials, samples, cut up beats and alternating scratchy and muddy sounds. These are short sound journeys that play with the possibilities of sampling. He is definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Beggars – “Beggars” – [Lotus House Records]

Naysayer   2/13/2013   A Library, CD

Beggars (album of the same name) is three guys from up and down California – Glenn Donaldson, Bruce McKenzie & Eric Nielsen – who play with numerous bands like Maquiladora and High Mountain Tempel. Beggars tend to tone down these connections.

Released from Lotus House Records, this is psych country/psych folk territory. Heavy on acoustic guitar with background mandolin, organ and lots of harmonies, these songs are about lost relationships, missed chances and old secrets. They sound like they should be sung around the fire pit outside an old shack in Topanga Canyon. Dusty, weedy, afternoon sunlight that blurs the vision. Turn it on, kick back and look directly into the sun.

Track 5 of CD B is a 22 minute deep listening style excursion.

Find The Others – “Find The Others” – [Canada Council For The Arts]

Naysayer   1/30/2013   A Library, CD

“Find The Others”, the most current project by Canadian multi -artist Andy Sheppard, recording under the name Find The Others, is a beautifully produced, textured group of songs. Sounding like it swallowed a whole bunch of Mum and Sufjan Stevens, this collection feels like it belongs in the wintery north. It is music to be listened to on cold nights when everyone else in the house is asleep. It’s filled with acoustic guitar, obscure movie samples, guitar loops, vibraphone, whispering, slightly straining vocals, crackly background sounds, and the obligatory banjo plunking. Lyrics set a bittersweet yet hopeful and quiet mood.

Lives of Angels – “Elevator to Eden” – [Dark Entries]

Naysayer   1/21/2013   12-inch, A Library

Elevator to Eden, by the British duo Lives of Angels, continues the Dark Entries Records rereleasing project. Originally recorded between 1982 and 1983, Lives of Angels’ sound is lighter than most Dark Entries’ artists. Many of the instruments are played by and most vocals are sung by Gerald O’Connell. His wife, Catherine, sings on one song and accompanies him throughout the songs.

Flat, monotone vocals. Easy rhymes (light/fright, park/dark). Lyrics filled with some angst, ennui. Sort of depression lite. Drum machine driven with simple, repeated guitar lines. Simple synthesizer melodies. Sounds Joy Divisionish or early Cure.

It’s a good addition to the Dark Entries collection.

Branes- “Perfection Condition” Burger Records

Naysayer   1/21/2013   A Library

From Burger Records comes Branes. A duo from Los Angeles, this synth/drum machine heavy release covers the styles of 80’s synth pop/synth wave/cold wave/goth- you name it. The members Ivy and Susan Subtract list early goth and mutant punk as influences and boy you feel it. Seriously affected vocals (reminds me of Lena Lovitch) gurgling about being like the internet and firewalls, chanting “machine machine.” They are heavily into art damage. Did I mention drum machines and synthesizers? It’s all good fun. If you are in a mood for “Warm Leatherette” sounding tunes, pop this on the turntable and fall back to 1981.

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