Music Reviews

Zoot Horn Rollo – “We Saw a Bozo Under the Sea ” – [Zoot Horn Rollo Records]

Studebaker Hawk   1/16/2005   A Library, CD

Long after leaving Capt. Beefheart and The Magic band, guitarist Bill Harkleroad (AKA Zoot Horn Rollo) now living in Eugene, OR recorded this tasty rock-jazz fusion thing. At first it was going to be a home-studio solo project but he made connections with drummer Greg Bendian on the Internet and the project grew into this form. All instrumentals and mostly twisted yet beautiful, this is “Good Fusion” with varied guitar tastes, some sax and harmonica and a lot of local Eugene talent. By the way, Harkleroad also was a founder of the group “Mallard” and he also wrote a book about Capt. Beefheart. *review by Studebaker Hawk

Laika & the Cosmonauts – “In Absurdistan ” – [Yep Roc]

Studebaker Hawk   1/15/2005   A Library, CD

Laika & The Cosmonauts, direct from Finland in 1997 take another look at the surf music thang – they are not as frantic as some bands, an easy beat and clean melodic guitar, some organ/synth – reminds me more of the Ventures than anything else. All instrumental tracks (only a tiny amount of vocal effects and shouts, still qualifies for “Surf’s Up!”) with just a taste of that Finnish Reggae Tango on some cuts. check out the “Zap Comix” style booklet… *review by Studebaker Hawk

Bukowski, Charles Readings, SF ?73 and Iowa City ’73 [N/A]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

2 CDs of beat poetry from one of the masters. In his tired, gravely voice, Bukowski holds forth on sex, death, oppression, and whatever else comes to mind. No track titles on the CD, so I made some up after listening. For the most part each CD is a contiguous recording that was divided up into tracks. Whoever did this did a pretty lazy job of picking where to start tracks. Sometimes he will say the title of a poem on the end of the previous track. The sound quality is poor, but you can always understand what he is saying.
I *think* Disk 1, tracks 3-12 are the San Francisco recording (the sound quality is different and there is no discernable audience noise). The first 2 tracks of the 1st disc and the entire 2nd disc sound like they are from the same recording, which I assume is the Iowa City recording. It’s all good and heavy, drop the proverbial needle anywhere and let a couple tracks play (but watch for language!).
Language: Disc 1 – 3, 5, 7, 10
Disc 2 – 1, 3, 7, 8, 11, 16, 19, 20

Apostle of Hustle – “Folkloric Feel” [Arts and Crafts]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

This three-piece (plus guests) out of Canada delivers well written and produced psychedelic folk. There’s just a touch of electronics and feedback on some tracks. There are some Latin-folk influences (lead singer Andrew Whiteman had recently returned from a trip to Cuba where he learned to play the tres (a Cuban guitar)), especially on tracks 3, 7, 8, and 10. The sound is melodic and shimmery, and the production has resulted in an appealingly full sound.
Favorites: 1 (Prog-rock-influenced folk jam), 3 (great, but still mellow use of bongos and tamborine), 7 (a Latin-influenced contra style ballad), 8 (laid back swing beat, longuey vocals).
Track 11 is a :37 second long very quiet shimmery little chord.
Language: 3 (‘shit?), 4 (‘fuck’),

Reverend Glasseye – “Happy End and Begin” [Music for Cats]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

Reverend Glasseye gives us an all-too-short 5 tracks of organ heavy gypsy folk rock. There are klezmer and Irish folk influences here. It’s the sort of music you could imagine a bar full of people singing along to at 1 in the morning. The instrumentation is very thick, with reeds, a trumpet, organ, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. My favorites are 1 and 4, but they are all great!
Notes: Track 10 ends with about 7 minutes of ocean waves and seagulls.

Man Man – “Man Man” [Ace Fu]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

Seemingly a normal man, but with all the powers of a man, it’s Man Man, answering the question: What if Frank Zappa had assembled an ensemble that included Tom Waits on lead vocals? This CD features Honus Honus? gravely vocals in front of an ensemble that includes percussion, horns, piano, guitar, synthesizer, violin, and a children’s chorus (track 1 only). Circus, folk, and klezmer influences combine to make something that is both unique and groovy. It’s cool. Check it out!
Favorites: 1, 3, 7 (instrumental), 9
Notes: Track 10 ends with about 7 minutes of ocean waves and seagulls.

14 Year Old Girls – “Strategy Guide” [Retard Disco]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Imagine that Devo were a bunch of nerds. OK, fine, Devo are a bunch of nerds, but imagine that they were obsessed with video games and gamer culture rather than, umm, whatever it is they were obsessed with. Songs about Megaman, Pac Man, Wario, Tomb Raider, et al. The music is catchy, sometimes punky electro-pop with male and female vocals. It’s well produced and fun, and the lyrics are often quite brilliant. All the songs are very short (none over 2 minutes), but the breaks between the tracks are very short, so you can let it track through and play a couple of them. If you have time, the liner notes are quite hilarious.
Favorites: 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 18, 21, 22, 24, 25
Language: 3 (‘fucking?), 5 (‘fucking?), 14 (‘shit?), 26 (‘fucking?)

Aroah – “The Last Laugh” [Acuarela]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Aroah is lead by Irene Rodriguez a Spanish female singer/songwriter. This album predominantly features her clear, simple voice and acoustic guitar work with occasional appearances by drums, flute, and electric guitar, but always sublimated to the voice and acoustic guitar. She is clearly strongly influenced by John Fahey (and says as much on her website). All songs are in English (including the one with the Spanish name) and she has no discernable accent).
Language: 12 (‘fuck’, though she says it so gently I had to listen a couple times to make sure that’s what she was really saying)

99 Hooker?s – “Generica”

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Sexually charged beat poetry rants over a bed of bass, guitar, samples, and occasional reeds singing over the top. The words aren’t sung so much as spoken in time. The rants are directed variously at Hollywood (7), religion (3,8), redneck America (4), and, umm, miscellaneous. I really like the last track, but it is quite long. From the label’s copy: ’99 Hooker’s Generica is to pop music as crank is to Michelob?.
Members of Note: M2 (of Chemical Brothers), Donald Miller, Ray Sage.
Language: 3 (‘shit?), 4 (‘fuck’), 6 (‘motherfuckers?), 8 (‘shit?)
Oh yeah, the punctuation is correct. ?99 Hooker? is the name of the band leader.

Slow Poisoners, The – “Melodrama” [Rocktopus!]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

The Slow Poisoners are Andrew Poisoner and Rick ‘Foxx? Trott. These guys have a 4-track and they are not afraid to use it. Well, probably they have some digital recording equipment that sounds like a 4-track. Point being, the songs definitely do not suffer from overproduction. Andrew and Foxx play all instruments with the exception of some trumpet on track 4. The songs are simple, mostly uptempo, clean sounding pop with clever, easily understood lyrics. This is not art. This is entertainment (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Note – Tracks 2, 6, and 13 comprise a 3-act melodrama of the handle-bar-mustachioed-villain-ties-the-girl-to-the-train-tracks variety.
Favorites – 4 (Todo Es Mal!), 7, 8, 11 (a piano rag, instrumental), 14
16 is a cover of This Little Light of Mine.

Einst?rzende Neubauten – “9-15-2000, Brussels” [Caroline]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

A live, 2 disk recording from Einst’zende Neubaten. The music ranges from seductive (in a German sort of way) to aggressive and noisy. The instrumentation is heavy, driving bass, captivating vocals that recall a more German Peter Gabriel, and some excellent use of auxiliary percussion, noisemakers, and electronics. The bass and the intense vocals (even when I don’t understand them) are in every track really hold the whole thing together. Lyrics vacillate between German and English. All clean as far as I know (since I don’t speak German). It expertly toes the line between being catchy/hooky and edgy/noisy). Not a bad track on here.
CD1 – 2 (seductive), 3, 5 (includes a funny ‘introducing the band? bit), 9 (electronica/dance sound)
CD2 – 2 (a long, slow build of intensity), 4, 6 (fantastic intense percussion, ends with ~1:40 of applause), 8, 9 (seductive)
CD1 – 8 (1:00 spoken intro, funny)
CD2 – 1 (1:20 spoken intro in German), 3 (entire track is applause),

John Berberian and the Rock East Ensemble – “Middle Eastern Rock” [Acid Symposium]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD, International

Middle-eastern acid rock led by oud player John Berberian (an oud is kind of a fat mandolin). The music incorporates Middle Eastern and Armenian instrumentation and rhythms with western jazz, soul, and funk. Track 3 has some Armenian vocals; other tracks are entirely instrumental. Very groovy, laid back stuff. Break out the hookah, pick any track, and enjoy!

Big City Orchestra – “Just Where is That Sound Coming From?” [Big City Orchestra]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

Subtitled Exclusive Tracks for Radio Friends, and with the name of the group misspelled on the cover(!), Big City Orchestra has been so kind as to provide us with 14 tracks of experimental ambience. Imagine some old piece of Sci-fi where the heroes were adventuring through the body of some kind of giant organic robot-being; here are the sounds, including the heart (1), the blood stream (2), the cerebellum (3), the language center of the brain (6), the bladder (9), and the bowels (12). Subdued enough to be used as beds, but interesting enough to stand on their own. If you were looking for some good haunted house music, you need look no further.
The cover only shows 9 track titles, but I think they are just suggested titles for any of the tracks, rather than being linked to specific ones. I’ve made some decisions for Zookeeper purposes, but feel free to mix it up.

The Faint – “Wet From Birth” [Saddle Creek]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

It turns out that catchy, hooky, 80’s-style electronic dance-pop didn’t die, it just moved to Omaha! Wet From Birth joins the 2 excellent The Faint CDs already in the library and provides 10 more tracks of music to listen to while wearing black lipstick, black fingernail polish, black boots, and black shirts with black designs. What Depeche Mode could have been if they weren’t so insufferable. My favorites are tracks 1, 2, 6, and 9, but you really can’t go wrong with any track. Play this!
There is ostensibly a video on here in MP4 format, but I couldn’t get it to play.

Tracy and the Hindenburg Ground Crew – “Great Day” [Action Box Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

This is presumably the same band as Ace T and the Hindenburg Ground Crew (for whom we have a 7″ 33), but while that disc is pretty much a novelty, this album is a bit more substantial.
Quirky pop that’s not really hi-fi or lo-fi, but somewhere in between (medium-fi?). Some elements of The Residents, but probably a little more of They Might Be Giants. Songs are by turns thoughtful (2, 8, 10, 13), funny (3, 6, 9, 12), or just kind of strange (1, 4, 7, 8). If there is a space for pop on your show, you should find something to like here.
Language: 12

Adams, John – “Road Movies” [Nonesuch Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Neo-classical post-minimalism from composer, San Francisco Conservatory of Music mainstay, and 2003 Pulitzer Prize winner John Adams. This CD contains new recordings of several Adams works. Road Movies uses piano and violin, while the others have only piano (2 pianos on Halleluiah Junction).
The music is consonant, beautiful, and warm. It is simple without crossing the line into banality that would classify it as ‘new age.’ My favorites tracks are the slightly more strident ones (1, 3, 6, 8).

People Like Us & Kenny G – “Nothing Special” [Soleil Moon]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

High weirdness from WFMU DJ Kenny G and People Like Us (Vikki Bennett). Arrhythmic sound collages pieced together from a number of sources. Tracks involve cutting together one or more 40’s-60’s ballads with audio samples from movie/tv/other. It transcends the ironic or satirical into the realm of weirdness for the sake of weirdness. Sometimes tracks track together. My favorites are tracks 1 (Language!), 6, and 12, but really you can choose any track if you feel a need to inject some bizarreness into your show.
Language: 1, 11 (both contain the spoken word ‘vagina? repeatedly and clearly).

Roots of Orchis – “Cracked Ceilings” [Slowdance]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

A 2 disk set from Roots of Orchis. Disk 1 is their originals. Disk 2 is remixes of old Roots of Orchis tunes.
Disk 1 is beautiful, mellow, instrumental psych-trance created using bass, percussion, keyboards, and occasionally some very minimal guitar.
The Disk 2 remixes are still mellow, but most have a more glitchy feel. Exceptions are track 4, which has an indie-pop feel, track 7, which is more guitar driven, and track 8 (language), which is hip-hoppy.
LANGUAGE: Disk 2, Track 8. Also, this track has a 20 second ‘false start?.


WFMU Radio Archival Oddities Vol. II [coll] – [self released]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

A 2 CD set put out by the folks at WFMU. Disk 1 is made up of non-WFMU radio moments that The Professor found ‘compelling, funny, or just plain odd?. Disk 2 is a collection of moments from WFMU broadcasts. The booklet provides an excellent overview of the clips. My favorites are:
1: 7 – The Black Pope; a Texas/Louisiana radio personality who sounds like a less grounded George Clinton (1979). Insane.
1: 14 – It’s Friday! An unknown DJ on an unknown station with a semi-orgiastic paean to Fridays. Awsome.
1: 15 and 16 – Neil Rogers and Bob Lassiter, respectively, taking apart ignorant callers.
1: 20 and 21 – John Lennon schilling for Tower Records and alarm clocks, respectively.
1: 23 – 8/18/1998 Tampa station WFLA manages to get in touch with a man who had shot a cop and was currently holding a hostage in a gas station. Chilling.
1: 24 – 9/11/2001 The first tower falls.
2: 4 (LANGUAGE!) ? WFMU DJ Vanilla Bean calls a phone sex service.
2:22 Call to Henny Youngman during a fundraiser. Hilarious
Language: Disk 1 – 19 Disk 2: 4, 10, 15, 26

The Advantage – “The Advantage”

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

The Advantage is a Canadian 4 piece band that plays covers of music from Nintendo (ORIGINAL NES) games. Is it a gimmick? Sure! But it’s still fun! The band is made up of 2 guitars, bass, and drums. Interesting to hear this synthesizer music played without a keyboard. Tracks are very short (none over 3 minutes, many under 1 minute). Tracks from the same game usually track together.


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