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Music Reviews

Yellowman Feat. Fathead – “Just Cool” – [Vp Records]

humana   1/31/2009   CD, Reggae

Jamaican Yellowman (so-called because of his albinism) exhibits his signature rude reggae and dancehall DJ skills here on these tracks from 1982 that have been remastered. Fathead joins him with his ???oinks??? and ???ribbits,??? among other vocalizations. Every tune is upbeat, if not clean. The last two are bonus, longer tracks.
FCC: 1, 3, 10, 12

Baker, Steven – “Lunar Etudes – Time Differentials” – [Edgetone Records]

humana   1/31/2009   A Library, CD

Line this one up for the Day of Drone! Five tracks that represent a sonic exploration of the moon???s orbit of the earth. Baker builds instruments such as the Chalice, Microtonal Drone, and Leaf Springs on Daf–all out of metal and woodwork–to convey harmonics that inspire meditation. Thollem McDonas appears on 2 with a 117-year-old Cornish pump organ. Track 4 is appealing with its sound resembling gamelan bells, very intense and trance-inducing.

Br??ckner, Michael – “Days In The Sun” – [Self -released]

humana   1/30/2009   A Library, CD

Electronic/ambient: Germany is a hotbed of electronics, and Br??ckner does the genre proud with this release. It???s a luxury to let one song track through to the next, as they are all of a piece, with 9 (???The Siren???) seeming the most distinct because of its jarring siren start. The long tracks (1 and 8) are never boring because of their ambience. Br??ckner???s wife adds her rich voice to 1 and 3 (which she sings in English and is very melodic), and his daughter adds her pretty voice to 7 (although she sings in a different language). Field recordings of crowd sounds are heard throughout, and book???s pages turning open 4, which is a cool journey (???In a Book???). Beats heard on 6, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10, and there???s an oasis in 11 followed by a male-spoken, computer-manipulated poem. Fascinating. 9 is the most versatile track.
PGM: Everything tracks through.

Ellis, Alton – “Mr. Soul of Jamaica” – [Treasure Isle Records]

humana   1/30/2009   12-inch, Reggae

This is an uptempo album that is viewed as being definitive of rocksteady, a dance style that preceded reggae. Tommy McCook and the Supersonics back the pleasing voice of Ellis on these songs, whose tempos are slower and more relaxed than ska. Check out the cover of ???You Make Me Happy???. ???Willow Tree??? is sweetly melancholy, although the riddim can???t help but make you smile anyway. All tracks are enjoyable, but I???ve starred my favorites. Ellis??? influence on the trajectory of dancehall, reggae, and hip hop is significant, albeit little-known.

Lamps – Songs of Sexual Frustration 7″ – s.s. records

sluggo   1/28/2009   A Library

1. Boring girls (3:12) 2. I Need a Chick (4:58) LANGUAGE,

Dirty, distorted, garage punk from L.A.’s Lamps. Here we find two songs of sexual frustration. First they cover The Pissed jeans’ “Boring Girls” before obliterating Devo’s “I Need a Chick.” Despite the noise attack enough of the lyrics are discernible on “I Need a Chick” to place this squarely off limits during respectable hours. It is also extremely catchy and more than once I’ve found myself repeating to no one in particular “I need a chick to suck my dick” – be warned!

The lamps are an L.A. Trio consisting of Monty Buckles (guitar/Voc.), Josh Erkman (Drums), Tim Ford (Bass). They have two albums and a number of singles to date (1/2009) this single appears on Sacramento’s s.s. records – sluggo

Linda Hagood – Pink Love Red Love / Awesome Vistas

cadilliac margarita   1/28/2009   A Library

New York???s Linda Hagood surrounds us in colorful bunny
love on this release from Awesome Vistas. This is like
a book of demented children???s stories read to you by a little
girl with a very active imagination. Her Vocals
are quirky and childlike. The sounds, created by a mix of guitar,
keyboards, violin, and drums, are weird, creepy, kooky,
and yes, even a little ookey. She describes her sounds
psychedellic punky comedy, and she looks pretty
interesting wearing masks and crazy hats on stage.
Overall her the vocals match her sound as they meet up in
crazy kiddieland.

Check out the cool album artwork by Christine Shields

Grouper / Inca Ore – 12″ Split

cadilliac margarita   1/28/2009   A Library

First released on cassette in 2007,
this split between Portland???s Grouper,
Oakland???s Inca Ore (aka Ava Salens of
Jackie O Motherfucker) , is full of
foggy ambiance. The Grouper side
( four tracks), apparently written as a response to
the search for a neighbor???s cat, is incredi bly
distant sounding musically, and even more
so vocally. She calls out into the night after
the gray cat she is seeking. It made me feel
cold, but calm. Could be played as an entire
side, because it is cohesive. Inca Ore brings us
native ameican sounding chants through a hollowed
out tube. Seven fairly short tracks in all, with muffled
vocals, and mellow overtones.

Rodgers, Jimmie – “Train Whistle Blues” – [Rca Records]

ArtCrimes   1/28/2009   12-inch, Country

Jimmie Rodgers’ recording career was not long (6 years), and he was suffering from TB the whole time, so it’s a wonder he managed to cast such a huge shadow across a wide range of popular music, serving as an inspiration for country, folk, pop, jazz, rock and soul artists to this very day. He was certainly one of the first white artists to successfully adopt black blues idioms, bringing the “blue yodel” out of the minstrel tradition and into the mainstream. Ralph Peer discovered Jimmie on the same 1927 field trip to Bristol, Tennessee that brought us the Carter Family. Rodgers had already become a well-rounded entertainer as a young man on the medicine show circuit, so he was was ready for the big time when Peer found him, far more so than most of the hillbilly and gospel acts down in Bristol. He would soon find himself recording not only country, but pop as well, and jazz with no less a sideman than Louis Armstrong. This collection was put together by RCA in 1958 and serves as an overview of his career, with not too many overlaps with the other Rodgers discs at KFJC. Some, but not all, of his biggest hits are here, leaving room for lesser-known sides and recordings made shortly before his death in 1933. (crimes)

White Lung – “Magazine” – [Deranged Records]- 7 inch 45

ophelia necro   1/28/2009   7-inch, A Library

4 piece out of Vancouver, B.C. Drums, bass, guitar, and female vocals. 3 songs. Side A-“Magazines” starts with creepy neo-surf guitar and angry riot girlish vocals. It also has some “shit”s thrown in, so side a is for safe harbor hours. Side B- starts with “Therapy” and more dark and creepy guitar/bass and shouted female vox. Another “Shit” thrown in for good measure. The 7 inch closes with “Backhouse” the only track without language. Modern take on riot girl punk rock.

Die Monitr Batss/Les Georges Leningrad [coll] – [5RC]- 7 inch 45rpm

ophelia necro   1/27/2009   7-inch, A Library

Die Monitr Batss (sometimes spelled Batsss) is a spin off of Olympia, Washington’s “The Gossip”. They are a 3 piece out of Portland, Oregon. They sound nothing like The Gossip. Noisey, rockin, no wave/ art punk bringing to mind of some of the sound coming out of New York in the late 70s. Female vocals with saxophone, guitar and drums. “Clean Up” is catchy and has a subversively sexual tone not uncommon from the band that brought us “Spread Your Legs, Release The Bats”.

Les Georges Leningrad is out of Montreal. Electro, post punk weirdness. This band puts on over the top stage shows with elaborate props and costumes. “Monster Klaw” is typical Les Georges, with obnoxiously processed vocals paired with a groovey, bassy, new-disco/electro vibe.

Crazy Dreams Band – “S/T” – [Holy Mountain]

lombard   1/27/2009   A Library, CD

Crazy Dreams Band is a Baltimore outfit on the Holy Mountain Label. It’s chaotic, retro rock with a heavy psych flavor with caterwauling female vocals by Lexie Mountain. Rounded out with moog, guitar machete, harmonica, lap steel, bass, keyboard and drums, it’s definitely some full-fledged sounds.

Silent Land Time Machine – “&hope Still” – [Time-Lag]

lombard   1/27/2009   A Library, CD

Silent Land Time Machine is a solo artist from Austin, Texas, playing a variety of instruments on this debut release from October 2008 put out on Indian Queen Records and Time-Lag Records.

It’s a one-man band, home recording on this CD; with some guest vocals and instruments. It’s mainly instrumental (although some wordless and/or quiet vocals), atmospheric sounds created with strings, guitar, cello, electronics, accordion, samples, etc etc. Some tracks are glistening and optimistic, like the sun breaking through the clouds on a rainy day (track 2), whereas others have more frenetic, buzzy, and experimental touches. Mesmerizing stuff.

Skein, The: Andrea Parkins and Jessica Constable – “Cities and Eyes” – [Henceforth]

lombard   1/27/2009   A Library, CD

The Skein is the duo of Andrea Parkins (electric accordion, effects, samples & live processing, synthesizers, piano, and voice) and Jessica Constable (voice and electronics). Their debut album “Cities and Eyes” starts with a crazy racket of clanging, buzzing, and percussive noises punctuated by wailing, feline-like female vocals. Other pieces (like track 2’s “Nothing/Otherwise”) are more dream-like in places, with softer vocals and spacy keys. It’s all improvised, with some more jazz-like moments, intriguing samples (even operatic male vocals), and an experimental feel throughout. It’s an out-there ride with these talented musicians.

Chapman, Michael – “Time Past & Time Passing” – [Electric Ragtime]

ArtCrimes   1/26/2009   CD, Country

Born in Leeds, England in 1941, Michael Chapman’s musical career goes back some 40 years, but this release is the first of his to reach KFJC’s library. His early work covered a lot of ground, with folk, rock, and blues efforts performed both solo and with bands, but his current fascination now seems to be American places and styles, with tracks here featuring ragtime fingerpicking a la Rev. Gary Davis and post-Delta blues explorations like those of John Fahey, who gets an explicit nod here via the track “Fahey’s Flag”. Chapman’s rough singing is not his strongest card, and and so he wisely focuses on playing, with most of these tracks being either instrumentals or songs with long instrumental passages. His playing is precise and controlled, but not so much as to become a technical exercise. The production is intimate and close up, done in a small English studio, but the overall sound sometimes evoke the wide open spaces, especially on his electric work here. (crimes)

Cosi, Valerio/Franchini, Enzo – “Conference of The Aquarians” – [Last Visible Dog Records]

humana   1/25/2009   A Library, CD

Electronic/jazz/rock: Valerio Cosi and Enzo Franchini got together in Italy to do some free jazz improvs, and later Cosi added overdubs and radio manipulations (especially on 8). Cosi???s alto sax screams and squawks on 1, yet sounds smoky on 2. Franchini???s cymbals and drums are the highlight of 4, and his vibes close out 7 quite nicely. Cosi adds sitar, double bass, electric guitar, piano, synth, and electronics (see scraping on 2, glass-breaking sounds on 6, and radio voices on 8). Snake-charmer vibe to 3. These pieces move in various ways, but mostly they are fast and weirdly accessible.
Picks: 7, 6, 3.

French Quarter – “Self-Titled” – [Gilgongo Records]

humana   1/25/2009   A Library, CD

Minimalist pop: Almost 21-year-old Stephen Steinbrink from Arizona offers us fresh sounds featuring his rather sweet voice backed by gentle guitar, percussion, toy piano (?), and other keys. His songs are simple and inviting, with lyrics marked by a refreshing innocence. There???s a more psychedelic sound to 4.
PGM: 5 and 6 end around :10, and most others around :05.
Picks: 8, 1, 4, 10, 5.

Monkey Power Trio – “Lest We Be Misunderstook” – [Pochontas Swamp Machine]

humana   1/24/2009   7-inch, A Library

This is a fine product of the 13th reunion of five friends who one day out of the year become the Monkey Power Trio. Highly amusing are each of these songs, from the mellow ???Hit it With a Bible??? to the Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired, more rocking ???Kraken.??? Recorder, guitars, and bass back up humorous vocals. There???s a soul vibe to ???Juicy Peaches,??? which mentions Captain James T. Kirk. ???Buddha Sings??? is like a Sunday school song. One guy sings the lyrics while the others chime in commentary as chorus–it???s humorous and fun. Not bad for a once-a-year gig.

Terminal Sound System – “Constructing Towers” – [Extreme]

SAL9000   1/24/2009   A Library, CD

The fellow behind Terminal Sound System is Skye Klein. He has produced this smashing and seamless fusion of rock, drum and bass, and jazz. Skye has gone the distance combining these elements and more into this release. It’s eye popping and cleverly mixed???richly layered textures. Blazing rock in the first four tracks with jazz and drum and bass, later mellows out to the softer side of jazz and rock. For the most part, it takes interesting turns and will exceed your expectations.

Svarte Greiner – “Man Bird Dress” – [SMTG Limited]

SAL9000   1/24/2009   12-inch, A Library

Svarte Greiner, aka Erik Skodvin, continues to seduce listeners with his brilliant work. This guy is extremely gifted in the way in which he hypnotizes the listener, completely enveloping them into his spell. This release, Man Bird Dress, has three intense tracks, created with string instruments and indistinct sound effects with each track building to a climax. It’s just as suspenseful as his previous album, Knive. Ominous sounds of squeaking, scraping and percussive thumps make you wonder what he is really doing as there is more going on here than meets the eye. As always, I look forward to his next album coming out next March.

Tower/Wind Chant, The [coll] – [Anticlock.Net]

humana   1/24/2009   7-inch, A Library

Slap this one on your turntable for a nice morning repast of sinister folk loveliness from Language of Light, then chase it with a dose of tribal percussion and banjo from Crow Tongue. Each song has fascinating lyrics, which are included in the covers. Out of Stillwater, Oklahoma, Language of Light (Frank Suchomel and R. Loftiss) deliver ???The Tower,??? which begins with a girl child???s voice telling a story as though through a tube, accompanied by guitar. Then the ???parents??? warn her never to go back to her ???cold and lonely path of dreams???. The sinister lyrics belie the pretty, calming nature of the music that includes violin by Justin Jones and vocals by Sarah Hughes. On the flip side, Crow Tongue (of Beating Heart, Pennsylvania) bring us ???Wind Chant,??? a very simple, appealing tune that ends with a high-pitched chant that could be a female, train, or the wind. tiMOTHy on guimbri banjo (his invention based on a Moroccan instrument) and AE Hoskin on percussion (djembe and kit). show us that the beat is the thing, and it is steady, repetitive, insistent. tiMOTHy???s vocals are deep, clear, and interesting. The song moves along for all its repetition, and reminds me of a Marikesh market.