Monday, July 28, 2008

Byrne & Eno: Redux

So, this is interesting:

David Byrne and Brian Eno just launched a new website for their upcoming collaboration, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. The album's slated for an August release and will only be available through this site.

There's also tour information provided by Byrne in this little video:

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

I think this will be their first collaboration since 1981's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts which, if you don't have, please find. The Nonesuch record label reissued it in '06 and it's, not to be cliché, very ahead of its time.

Video by Bruce Connor

Letters From A Tapehead

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Looking up from the gutter…

The Gutter Twins
Sub Pop
Released: 3.4.08

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

It’s usually in my head long after I’ve played it once: The song, “All Misery/Flowers.” It sort of takes a bite out of you; the grit that Mark Lanegan exudes could smooth out a rural thoroughfare. He is the embodiment of “wear n’ tear,” poetically carrying himself on his own romantically weary and dust covered shoulders. The grit is what keeps The Gutter Twins, collaborative journey between Lanegan and Afghan Whig, Greg Dulli, authentic and safe from the dangers of sounding overwrought.

It took me more than a couple listens to really appreciate the dark and emotional territory with which 90% of this album is based. It sounds cathartic, like Saturanlia exists solely to exorcise personal demons or at least lay them to rest. A song like “All Misery/Flowers,” for example, says more with its mood then it does with its lyrics and conveys the sort of pain that most people hope to unload with therapy or yoga. Lanegan seems based in this pain, hopelessly wounded and falsely protected by tattered bandages. You hope he sheds some of it, but he never shows signs of being ready to release his woe. Maybe he needs it.

Not to harp on one song, Saturnalia deserves, at the very least, a month’s worth of listening, a conclusion that I conveniently came to having listened to it myself for about that long. Starting off with “The Stations,” Saturnalia’s dark and sorrowful tonality quickly envelopes the listener, all those crucial, emotional embellishments firmly in place (string section, ghostly back-up vocals, lonely guitar strings…etc.).

In addition to its mood, with songs like Dulli’s counterpart to “The Stations,” a desperate little tune called, “God’s Children,” the prominence of God as focal point emerges. The light and high-noted questioning of “Who Will Lead Us” (”Crawl, we'll crawl no more/I think that chariot is coming/And should it please you Lord/I'll give this trumpet up/Give it up to Gabriel — Who'll lead us now Lord/Who'll hear the sound of grieving”) and the bluesy “Seven
Stories Underground” (”Oh, Heaven…It's quite a climb/It's quite a climb”) both seems to speak of personal and spiritual uncertainty. For Lanegan and Dulli, their overt religious and spiritual focus either speaks to a loss of direction through a lack of Godly intervention, or it speaks to a lack of answered prayers.

“Idle Hands,” one of the few actual rockers on the album, provides a one-time and momentary break from all the introspection before “Circle The Fringes,” a Dulli testimonial, brings us to the aforementioned “Who Will Lead Us” and “Seven Stories Underground.”

“I Was In Love With You” lapses into a “Dear Prudence”-inspired bridge amidst some fuzz guitar and classical strings. It’s actually ridiculous how Paul McCartney this song sounds at points, really Jiffy-popping Saturnalia’s otherwise morose mission statement.

In terms of highs and lows, and I hate to dissect a team effort, Dulli fails to outshine Lanegan. There are instances where it feels like Dulli tries to out-passion Lanegan, “The Body” (very lovely voice work from Martina Topley-Bird of Tricky fame), for instance, comes off more like a “who can hit these notes with the most striking clarity?” Even in “Idle Hands,” Dulli’s overdone treble does its best to obscure Lanegan’s croon. Lanegan’s moments are definitely the winners.

The last two songs, a Radiohead wannabe called, “Each To Each” and an uninteresting whiner of a song called, “Front Street,” rob the album of a good ending. The preceding track, “Bete Noir,” would’ve provided a better climax. With something this emotionally invested, sometimes it’s best to end it sooner than usual.

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Upcoming: Grampall Jookabox...

Grampall Jookabox is the one-man music creation of David Adamson whose latest album, Ropechain, will be out later this November. I got to hear what I guess would be considered the album's first single, "The Girl Ain't Preggers." If The Breeders and Devo had gotten heavily into House Music, they might sound something like Grampall Jookabox. Very catchy track; should be an interesting release. Give it a listen:

The Girl Ain't Preggers

Photo courtesy of Terrorbird Media

Letters From A Tapehead

Current Listening: Faith No More - Jizzlobber (Angel Dust, 1992)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shopping For Records #6: Some reissues to chew on…

Mission Of Burma:

Sort of late in the game on these, but:

Matador Records released what they refer to as “The Definitive Editions” of Signals, Calls & Marches, Vs. and The Horrible Truth About Burma in mid-March, even making them available on vinyl for the first time in 20 years. Receiving the primo treatment in terms of package extravagance and live DVD footage, Vs. also boasts the non-album B-side, “OK/No Way.”

Unfortunately for me, Mission Of Burma is yet another band that shamefully fell onto the ever-famed backburner. Now that these reissues are available with some enticing bells and whistles, it’s likely that I’ll be shelling out the loot to procure myself some copies. What I’ve heard of Mission Of Burma, I’ve really enjoyed.

The Replacements:

Rhino, usually a shining light for the music enthusiast, reissued The Replacements’ first four albums: Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, Stink EP, Let It Be and Hootenanny. This was Paul Westerberg, pre-Singles composer, and Co. at their most primal.

Owning the Stink EP, (“God Damn Job” has been an internal anthem for years of working with the 9-to-5), and Don’t Tell A Soul, I’ve been sort of 50/50 with The Replacements. Whereas I appreciate and understand their impact, I never really got why they softened up as much as they did. But, my opinion aside, The Replacements have a strong following, many of whom are going to pick these up. If, of course, they haven’t already.

Now, how about those Flipper reissues I’ve been waiting for the last two or three years?

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, July 11, 2008

Buried In A Good Mix Tape #2...

Earlier this week, I got the urge to work on another mix for my brother. A lot of what I used incorporates some new music I acquired along with other tracks he might enjoy. Mostly, I was hoping that he hadn't heard a lot of this yet. It seems like I always end up trying to unify the last 40 years into these tight collections and hope they work. It's true. I do.

This time, I didn't really have time to go the cassette route, so this is a CD-R. I'm calling it "SIDE A." Here's the playlist:

Brian Eno & David Byrne - America Is Waiting (My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, 1981, reissued 2006)
The Gutter Twins - All Misery/Flowers (Saturnalia, 2008)
The Monkees - Writing Wrongs (The Birds, The Bees, The Monkees, 1968)
Mike Patton - Car Radio (FM) (A Perfect Place, 2008)
Beastie Boys - Nervous Assistant (Aglio e Olio EP, 1996)
The Kinks - Nothin' In The World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl (Kinda Kinks, 1965)
Sic Alps - Dr. Bag and the Pomade Nature Giants (A Long Way Around To A Shortcut, 2008)
Fantômas - 04/13/05 Wednesday (Suspended Animation, 2005)
Frank Zappa - "This Is Phaze III"(Civilization Phaze III, 1994)
The Black Angels - Science Killer (Directions To See A Ghost, 2008)
Miles Davis - Footprints (Miles Smiles, 1966)
Triclops! - Lovesong For The Botfly (Out Of Africa, 2008)
Tool - Useful Idiot (Ænima, 1996)
Menomena - Strongest Man In The World (I Am The Fun Blame Monster!, 2004)
Louis Armstrong - Summer Time (With Ella Fitzgerald) (Butter & Egg Man, 2002)
Tom Waits - Shake It (Real Gone, 2004)
Jonny Greenwood - Convergence (Bodysong, 2003)
Jonny Greenwood - Proven Lands (There Will Be Blood, 2007)
Ween - Captain (Quebec, 2003)
Albert Ayler - Our Prayer (The House That Trane Built, recorded 1967, compiled and released 2006)
Paul McCartney - 222 (Memory Almost Full-Bonus Disc Edition, 2008)

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Patton Scores

Mike Patton
A Perfect Place
Ipecac Recordings
Released: 3.11.08

Rating: 9.25 out of 10

Crafting soundtracks is nothing new for Mr. Mike Patton. Aside from the fact that the guy can belt out any note with enviable ease, Patton is also a certified noisemaker, gifted with the sort of throat that can withstand any torture he can, (and has), delivered upon it. Patton, by himself, is an instrument. So, creating mood? Shouldn’t be a problem.

With his thematically unusual free-metal concept, Fantômas, soundtracks have basically been Patton’s focus. From their self-titled collection of screamer sci-fi snippets, to their brilliantly reworked film score repertoire with Director’s Cut; the eerie and lengthy surgical nightmare, Delirium Cordia, and then a reinterpretation of Carl Stalling’s world of cartoon music with Suspended Animation, it really seems like Patton was gearing up for something like A Perfect Place to come along, an opportune time to allot himself among the Ennio Morricone’s of the world.

A Perfect Place is a very short film directed by Derrick Scocchera. The movie itself runs at a little less than a half-hour and functions mostly as a Jim Jarmusch-inspired noir snippet of a somewhat catastrophic evening in the life of two poker buddies. Patton, fortunately for the listener, outdoes the movie, running with the noir theme in a very odd, though smart, mishmash of modernized swing jazz, horn-heavy villainy and nostalgic serial-based cliffhanger and chase compositions. Patton goes out of his way to craft something old that sounds new: anachronistic in a way, but existing only in terms of its characters’ reality. It could be called “dimensional,” maybe. It’s as if the Beats and 40s Big Band merged with Down By Law or Mystery Train. A Perfect Place is for the enigmatic night crawlers: coffee-guzzlers of the late morning variety, insomniacs on lonely stretches of road, the preoccupied minds overwhelmed by stories too strange to comprehend. Dramatic explanation, but I think it’s accurate.

Patton ably intertwines his main arrangements throughout the soundtrack: “Main Title” and “A Perfect Place.” “A Perfect Twist (Vocal)” and “A Little Poker Tomorrow Night?” both concoct jived and suspenseful variations to the theme, providing Patton some opportunities to sing a bit. From mysterious (“Seriously Disturbed”) to exciting (“Batucada”) to as Rat Pack as any lounge lizard wants to be (“Swinging The Body”), A Perfect Place embodies the whole noir aspects of its intended storyline and does a great job of conveying mood and atmosphere. The movie itself almost seems like an afterthought next to the score, which feels like it’s telling its own story. The two tracks of pure radio static (“Car Radio (AM)” and “Car Radio (FM)”) even speak volumes.

“A Dream Of Roses,” Patton’s eerie homage to the big band 78, is perfectly buried in phonograph static with twinkling notes ringing clearly at points. It takes interesting liberties with the formula and winds up being more than just an amusing rehash. “Il Cupo Dolore,” also a phonograph-mixed piece of reminiscence, has Patton acting as tenor, belting out operatic high notes like some alterna-Pavoratti.

The only time A Perfect Place loses focus is with “Catholic Tribe,” an intersecting array of tribal percussion mixed with church organ. It’s an interesting track, but way out of left field in terms of the rest of the album.

Probably the closest we’vel come to a modern-day composer, at least in terms of the alterna set, Mike Patton is an ever-evolving and all-encompassing presence. A Perfect Place, which he completely composed and mostly played, is ANOTHER testament to how far he wants to go and how he refuses to be limited to any single genre. I always look forward to hearing what he does, and I can’t wait to hear what he does next.

Letters From A Tapehead

New Selections — Emma Ruth Rundle, Tropical Fuck Storm, Primitive Man, Private Life, Uniform, Erika Wennerstrom, Djrum, Windhand

Starting August off with some new singles. Emma Ruth Rundle:  " Darkhorse " (via Rarely Unable /  Sargent House  / YouTub...