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Music Reviews

Frisell, Bill – “Bill Frisell With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones ” – [Nonesuch]

ArtCrimes   9/30/2008   CD, Jazz

It’s true that Bill Frisell’s companions here have considerable seniority over him, with Dave Holland having backed both Miles Davis and Chick Corea in the early 70s, and Elvin Jones having backed Coltrane in the 60s, but Frisell is clearly leading the sessions, providing all the compositions, save a cover of “Moon River” and Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times”. Jones was probably one of the more aggressive and propulsive drummers of his time, and Frisell’s slippery, slow motion moves provide a lot of tension in the other direction. Where they all seem to interlock are the more blues-based selections (like opener “Outlaws”), when they relax mutually, while the country-ish material that Bill loves doesn’t jive so well with Elvin’s more ahead of the beat approach (as on “Hard Times”). But Elvin hangs back and just swings as needed on other tracks, often barely touching his kit. Holland is elegant and tasteful throughout, present primarily for structure rather than showing off. A bit of overdubbing has Frisell building on the arrangements with loops and acoustic/electric combinations.

Springfield, Dusty – “Dusty In Memphis ” – [Rhino Entertainment Co.]

ArtCrimes   9/30/2008   CD, Soul

Atlantic Records signed Dusty after a long (and successful) spell of heavily-produced hits done in the UK, which merit as excellent examples of 60s girl-singer pop. But under the spell of the Southern studio team that had been cranking out soul hits with Aretha and others, the intent here was to remake Dusty as a soul singer. Legendary for her perfectionism and insecurities, Dusty freaked out at the casual recording sessions down South and didn’t actually sing a note in Memphis, but the backing band nailed the basic tracks, with Dusty’s vocals added later New York sessions. The results range from string-laden, adult pop tracks like Randy Newman’s “Just One Smile”, to medium tempo soul grooves like the hits “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Breakfast and Bed”. Rhino more than doubles the length of the original LP with the addition of outtakes done at Memphis, as well as sessions for 2 other followup albums, including Gamble & Huff produced tracks intended for her later “Brand New Me” (those aren’t Southern soul at all, but have their own uptown charms).

Betty Blowtorch, “Are You Man Enough?”, (Foodchain Records), CD

ophelia necro   9/29/2008   A Library

Gritty, raw, pop-punk. Songs about rocking out & hooking up, revenge, love gone wrong, and so on.?? These girls are potty mouthed rockers that you would not want to bring home to your mother.
*LANGUAGE on tracks: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, & 10.
Betty Blowtorch was an all female hard rock band out of Hollywood. They formed in 1998 and included members from BUTT TRUMPET. Bianca Butthole (born Bianca Haltstead) on Bass, Vocals, Sharon Needles on Rhytmn Guitar, Chorus, Blare N. Bitch on Lead Guitar & Judy Molish on Drums. The year this release came out (2001) they toured with Nashville Pussy during the tour, Needles and Molish quit and Jennifer Finch from L7 joined briefly. In December of 2001 Bianca (Haltstead) Butthole was killed in and auto accident in New Orleans. The band dissolved upon her death. Her grave is in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and is next to Dee Dee Ramone’s.?? In 2003 “Last Call” was released including rarities and live performances. There is a documentary film by Anthony Scarpa about them called “Betty Blowtorch and Her Amazing True Life Adventures”.

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.

Big Blood & Visitations – “‘lecric Lashes ” – [L’animaux Tryst (Field) Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2008   7-inch, A Library

Part of Matt Lajoie’s noble Tryst Haunt, a 7″ subscription
series. Strange Maine in a shared vein, mixing the two cc’s
of Big Blood (Colleen and Caleb) with faceless platelets of
Visitations. Side A starts with a short, stare-at-the-stars
and oscillate to ooh and ahh sweeps. Then into a willowy
lullaby as gentle as grandpa’s soft beard, and as pillowy
as Colleen’s voice can get, ruffled by reverb and sprouting
little flute and faux flute synthesizer trills, like a
centaur dancing through. Please note the rocking chair
background soft clutter under the simple acoustic picking.
On the flip side, its that droney sort of Sonic Youth open
tuning that rides and rides through a long tunnel, male
visitation vortex voice hammerin’ away through effects, and
the high lonesome whistle voices along for the ride. Did
a kazoo eventually join on the tracks? Slow wind-out fade
for about a minute at the end. Then B2 bops away with what
shall be known simply as the “Bum Bum Bum” song, rubber
band, water pots clanking, and voices stacked in a goofy
tower of babbling. Each side then also has an unconnected
locked groove for your needling pleasure. And wait, there’s
more. The vinyl comes with a bonus CDR, that has not just
the four tracks, but the sprawling late-night, drone-folk,
getting-to-know-you meet, greet and bleat. The first jam
has bluesy roughage after a very slow build. #2 is the
tinkler and analog tuner. #3, kraut folk with Colleen’s
voice like the tallest tree in a windy forest. #4 wears
its own face like a mask, buzz fly guitar over tiptoe
notes. Enjoy…


-Thurston Hunger

0th – “Tammy ” – [Resipiscent Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2008   A Library, CD

Industrial drums and very sproingy electric bass create the
nest for four feathery fatales to flock with your mind. Are
these girls mimes who’ve broken their vow of silence? Often
their voices get united in towers of post-apocalyptic chorus,
see the seven VocalBeauty variations on this. They are kinda
like Meredith Monk looking for gold at the end of a Caroliner
Rainbow show. And they allow for men-folk into the fold, in
health and in sickness, for richer or Porest (Mark Gergis
warps a nice minute of VocalBeauty on this!). 0th shares a
childhood sandbox with Petra Hayden, 0th shares make-up with
Charming Hostess, 0th shares electronics with Zeek Sheck.
Art school moves confidentially dreaming of tribal/trance
dance floors? Repetition is used, and repetition as well.
The VocalBeauty tracks rather than serve as ligaments are
so strong they may tend to out-muscle some of the other
work here. “Crazyhorse” does a war whoop Ut-like stomp
before a peculiar anecdote is added on. The last VB goes
from a sort of Yamantaka destroyer buddhist chant to a
sleepy toggle between zeroes and ones over nice skittery
strings. For the Nth, shall be the 0th! Unless they succumb
to MFA’s, the CIA, or BF/GF trouble, this project should
become a KFJC darling. Fun on the air, in the pit and at
a listener party I daresay. I concur with the first track,
“Tammy, we need you.”

-Thurston Hunger

Low Lows, The – “Shining Violence ” – [Misra Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2008   A Library, CD

I got to say, there is a lot of goop on this album. The voice, the guitar
are often dripping with effect-laden, post-processola goop. Casting that
aside (or stretching it out of the way) Parker Noon’s voice remains a
trembling force, strength in frailty. The black eye from the last album’s
artwork has healed, but the hurt is buried a lot of deeper. Not just
filed next to Low, the Low Lows relish the contrast of a memorable
melody sugar often juxtaposed against some sour lyrical pain that is hard to
forget. Brass tactics do a nice job of polishing up the pride, and
I should say that some of the guitar ooze from Daniel Rickard is of
a more resonant resin. Sticks to the roof of your eardrums at times,
he also likes to get the feedback just on the edge of whinnying. More
sustained pain perhaps? Noon’s vocals often do the Rock 101 manuevuers
to prolong syllables, he’s a solid garbled warbler in my book. Fire
consumes here, moths and flames, and even the last album’s title shows
up in the words to “Tigers.” “Disappearer” and “It May Be Low” (the
latter with some thick ol’ bullfrog harmonies at the bottom of the
lake) were nice. Low Low’s love to overdose on crescendoes, see the
fuzzmuckers “Elizabeth Pier” and “Sparrows” as examples. I bet the
demos of these tracks cut closer to the bone. Still those car-wrecked
vox are hard to turn away from, darkness at Noon.

-Thurston Hunger

Titmachine – “We Build a New City ” – [Siltbreeze]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2008   7-inch, A Library

Possible misgivings (artwork, band name, track titles worried
me this was a kitschy Journey tribute for some reason) were
quickly dispelled by the Siltbreeze imprint. Titmachine end
up being 4 ladies who’ve gathered in the Netherlands to tear
more at ears than libidos. DIY dirty dirge punk. Lead track
is actually a cover of a Palais Schaumburg song, screeched
in German. The vocal pattern takes on even more of a siren
(as in politzei, not argonauts) quality (up and down, up and
down) then the original which can be heard (and seen) here

On the flip, leader singer Jana pleads over a bassy death
march, that occasionally accelerates. As L.A. Drugs were
to Twisted Village, perhaps so are Titmachine to the
‘breeze? Punk pride in their unlearned approach, and that
instills insistence here, but ultimately will their
influences overshadow their Blare-y Witch-y treatment of
covers? I hope not…but right now I’m too busy digging
vintage Palais Schaumburg stuff.

-Thurston Hunger

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.

Vivian Girls, “Tell The World”, 7″ (45), Woodsist

ophelia necro   9/17/2008   A Library

Most recent 7″ from female trio out of Brooklyn (not to be confused with Laura Cromwell’s project The Vivian Sisters). Vivian Girls are Cassie on guitar, Frankie on bass on side a and drums on side b, and Katy on drums on side a and bass on side b. The band gets there name from the work of outsider artist Henry Darger ( In The Realms Of The Unreal). Rock and roll with a 50s/60s girl group nostalgic touch. 3 tracks.

Monster Island, “Dream Tiger”, BMI, CD

ophelia necro   9/17/2008   A Library

Monster Island is a project lead by Cary Loren. All the songs on Dream Tiger were written by her. The band has a lot of members listed on their my space page:
Cary Loren, Matthew Smith, Erika Hoffman, Warn Defever, Wade Kergen, Efe Bambuti, Sunni Ali, Deb Agolli, Aran Ruth, Davin Brainard, Kevin Callaway, Brett Lyman, Troy Gregory, Otto Kontrol, Mark Fellis, Johnny Evans, Eugene Strobe, Paul Van Hout, Charlemagne Palestine, Hannie Van der Hoven, Len Bukowski, Tim Barnes, Dave Altwerger, Bill Brovald, Lee Ambrozy, Noelle Christine, Aliccia Berg , John Sinclair, Tom Carey, Mary Alice, and Jamie Easter.

Self described as psychedelic folk and that pretty much nails it but they do seem to have a preoccupation with death and the dark stuff. Songs about dead fathers, mothra, halloween, etc.?? Male and female vocals and a great number of instruments being played including the sitar, acoustic guitar, percussion, etc. 13 tracks, the longest track is 4m 35s.

Warbler/ Bromp Treb Split 7″ (dba024)

MSTiZA   9/17/2008   A Library


WARBLER is Steve Touchston of XBXRX/Kit & Kristy of Kit/Lil Pocketknife. Warbler assaults with three tracks of spazztic art punk. Expect rough vox cheering refute over kinetix keyboards,lo fi digital loop beats, & shards of guitar shredding through mutant breakdowns.BROMP TREB:Neil Campbell/drummer of Fat Worm of Error. The track starts sounding like someone took an sp808 & a speak and spell modified into an encanter into the bath room for a good midi-nite session of bloody mary and ended up with bloody stool. Eventually someone knocks on the door and is waiting with saranwrap to take away the afterbirth.

Deaf, The, “This Bunny Bites”, Learning Curve Records, CD

ophelia necro   9/17/2008   A Library

A 3-piece (when this CD was released in 2007) from St. Paul, Minnesota…Recorded in 2006 in Los Angeles. They are now apparently a 5-piece and Stephanie (the only female member) is no longer in the band.
“The Deaf are a three piece throbbing with brutal hook laden bursts of grind rock that make you groove and thrash all at the same time. A hodge podge of musical experiments are born again in “This Bunny Bites”. The Deaf get what they want and hammer it into their homemade stew, smattered with overweight rock. They draw on disorientation and emulsify it with educated fury. These grad students have completed their first angst ridden thesis, expounding on fuck. Packed into a blistering record of tight leather and bloody chords, the three piece pounds out original ballads of pulsing thrash metal sludge that brings a refreshing stomp on your ears. The Deaf purees a philosophy guru, a mistress of law and a Russian scientist into 14 blistered fairytales of grudgecore. With each track comes a razor blade kiss that skips all foreplay and goes straight to the money shot. David, Jack and Stef crank out a sound you can only identify as a jet plane take-off. Earsplitting, sonic, burnt and unstoppable. The Deaf will wreck you.” (from the Learning Curve Records website)
Loud, pounding, rock and roll. Short and sweet (the longest track is 3m 12s). Some tracks have female vox. Language on tracks 3, 10, 13??

Uwaifo, Sir Victor – “Guitar-boy Superstar 1970-76 ” – [Soundway Records]

ArtCrimes   9/16/2008   12-inch, International

Sir Victor Uwaifo originally worked very successfully in Nigeria with the popular “Highlife” style in the 60s (one of his hits from that time provides part of the title here, “Guitar Boy”), but this collection on Soundway takes a look primarily at his “Ekassa” series of releases from the early 70s. These tracks took their rhythm from a ceremonial dance dating back to the 16th century for the coronation of kings in Benin (where Uwaifo was born and raised). The rhythm is driven by the sound of stones inside shells worn by ceremonial dancers, and you’ll hear the rattle of those stones on nearly every track, along with Uwaifo’s distinct guitar style, employing echo, wah-wah and percussive effects. Saxes and wheezy electric keyboards add counterpoint here and there, as well as call and response vocals, but mostly this is dance music first and foremost, with some riffs borrowed from songs like “Twist and Shout” and “Tequila” grafted to the Ekassa rhythm. Uwaifo later dipped his toe into funk and disco projects, but he’s all about taking his own heritage to the dance floor here. CRIMES

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.