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Showing posts from January, 2009

Themselves: Spring 2009

This little gem of a promo video was sent to me this morning. Hip-hop group, Themselves , will be releasing an album this spring. In the meantime, feast your eyes on some overdubbed comedy. Conan & Friends Part II from anticon. on Vimeo . Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: Wilderness

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Wilderness (K)no(W)here Jagjaguwar Released: 11.4.08 No Ripcord review Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

Primus: Jerry Was A Race Car Driver

"Truly a wonder of nature this urban predator..." 1991, 1992... In the midst of a skateboarding obsession, bad grades and a slew of cassette-borne musical epiphanies, Primus 's "Tommy The Cat" came into my life and kicked my bloodstream up about ten notches. There was excitement pouring out of Les Claypool 's fingers as he coerced that four-string into thunderous and obnoxious pandemonium while rooster-stepping to Tim Alexander 's double-bass peddled percussive brilliance and Larry LaLonde 's picked howl. "Say, baby, do ya wanna lay down with me/Say, baby, do wanna lay down by my side/Ah, baby, do you wanna lay down with me/Say baby, SAY BABY!" And, even though I'd listened to him my entire life, my mother and father both being fans, "Tommy The Cat" was really the first time I'd acknowledged Tom Waits , which only furthered my musical curiosity and led me to his many profound and essential albums. As much as "T

Shopping For Records #10: Radiohead Gets Capitol-ized Some More…

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Radiohead Pablo Honey (Collectors + Special Collectors Edition) The Bends (Collectors + Special Collectors Edition) OK Computer (Collectors + Special Collectors Edition) Releasing: 3.24.09 The Drill EP (12” Single) Creep (12” Single) My Iron Lung (12” Single) Just (12” Single) Fake Plastic Trees (12” Single) High And Dry (12” Single) Street Spirit (Fade Out) (12” Single) Paranoid Android (12” Single) Karma Police (12” Single) No Surprises (12” Single) Pyramid Song (12” Single) There There (12” Single) 2+2=5 (12” Single) Releasing: 4.21.09 Do you think Capitol Records knew so many moons ago that they would have under their grasp such a wealth of lucrative reissuing opportunities? After reintroducing Radiohead ’s Capitol catalogue to life as 12” 180-gram remasters last year, there’s more in store for said catalogue. Two-disc collectors editions of their first three albums are being released in late March, with special collectors editions boasting DVD extras. This is after Cap

This Time, He Gives Blood…

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Bon Iver Blood Bank EP Jagjaguwar Released: 1.20.09 Rating: 7.25 out of 10 Bon Iver , or Justin Vernon , is no longer in self-imposed solitary confinement. Last year, Vernon’s debut as Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago , garnered a lot of critical acclaim and public favor, boasting not only a passionate collection of songs but an interesting back story as well. Spending a Wisconsin winter in a cabin? An isolated artist overwhelmed by breakup, recuperating from sickness? Recording it all himself? It writes itself, and it helped that the results were really, really good. But, as cathartic origins directly affected the height of his creative watermark, Vernon has a lot to live up to for any follow-up. Blood Bank , his new four song EP, seems very aware of the task at hand. Blood Bank isn’t a complete departure from For Emma but it’s more of an experimental outing, relying more on invention than feeling to drive itself from beginning to end. With only four songs to establis

No Ripcord: Color Cassette

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Color Cassette Forever Sparrow Autres Directions In Music Released: 1.7.09 No Ripcord review Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

“You Just Like The Fast Stuff, That’s All:” Al Di Meola at the Sellersville Theater

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Al Di Meola Sellersville Theater Sellersville, PA 1.18.09 Photo uncredited; from Al Di Meola 's website. The overall mood was relatively morose by 6:30PM, the Philadelphia Eagles having forfeit (the first half was a joke) their shot at the Super Bowl. Before beginning his set about an hour later, guitar virtuoso, Al Di Meola , expressed his condolences to Philadelphia’s loss. My brother called out, “We’re used to it!” Not so much a “concert” as an “engagement,” or “an evening with dot dot dot ,” Di Meola and his sextet, (having until recently been a foursome), sat before a crowd of aging 70s artifacts, pretentious Doylestown hipsters and prog-obsessed nerdy teenagers. Gregg Allman was a common look. The crowd was an attentive bunch, engrossed by Di Meola’s understated between-song-commentary, and overstated during-song-fretwork. Considering my last show , I was more than happy to be in attendance of something less detrimental to my hearing and more relaxed. The venue

Madlib: Slim's Return

I love it when jazz and hip-hop collide. Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

Paul McCartney: 222

Memory Almost Full , Paul McCartney 's 2007 debut on the Starbucks label, Hear Music, was a fairly ignorable addition to his canon. The whole album felt like it'd been manufactured as background noise, suitable for the coffee juggernaut's daily customers to maybe acknowledge as they blithely stir mini whirlpools of half n' half into their respective and overpriced morning staples. But, the sessions did prove fruitful in one sense. I'm personally thankful for the song "222," which was featured as a B-side on the bonus edition of Memory Almost Full , (along with two other tracks that were also much better than most of the album). McCartney, however you feel about him, has these shining moments of brilliance that almost excuse his past musical sins (and there have been many). It seems that these moments occur when McCartney's not trying to be McCartney. When he drops his typically overjoyed and diplomatic facade, the artist seems to make an appeara

Ron Asheton (1948-2009): Part II

I found this small television tribute to the late and great Ron Asheton . Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

Alexandra Hope: Invisible Sunday

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Listen to this and tell me the 90s aren't on their way back? Granted, listening to Alexandra Hope 's lo-fi and simplistic guitar strum, the list of alt-chick comparables is easy to compile. I liked those girls: scintillatingly adverse to idealized femininity, picking up the led pipe that Patti Smith had dropped and eagerly running toward profane and abundant "unladylike" behavior. I remember procuring a copy of Liz Phair 's Exile In Guyville , specifically because I'd read that she'd used the phrase "blowjob queen" in a song. There was something undeniably perverse and attractive about those ladies of sullied outward appearance, smeared make-up and intensely opposed to being "hot," which of course made them "hot." Anyway... Listening to Hope, I do a get a sense of nostalgia, one that evokes memories of 120 Minutes and Julianna Hatfield swearing she had a sister. Typically, I tend to not live in the past but...&qu

Bon Iver: Blood Bank

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Off the strength of last year's For Emma, Forever Ago , indie folkster, Bon Iver (a.k.a. Justin Vernon ) is releasing an EP later this month entitled, Blood Bank . Its first single, a self-titled and mellowed bit of romantic narrative, (What's a little love between donors? Free juice and doughnuts equals cheap date and the possibility of STDs can be determined onsite. It's actually a brilliant concept), begins simply enough and then grows like an impassioned sound farm. An odd story, but an interesting alternative to the very clichéd "walk in the park." Bon Iver - "Blood Bank" Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

How To Calm An Unhappy & Exhausted Infant...

Ahmad Jamal 's The Awakening . Easily one of my favorite jazz records of all time, Jamal's playing is smooth as silk and as fluid as running water. His version of Oliver Nelson 's "Stolen Moments," is beautifully entrancing and, after hundreds of listens, still sends shivers through me. Definitely an album that stays with you for weeks and, thankfully, has cast enough of a spell upon my daughter that it's now the stand-by for easing her into dreamland. Luckily, she's usually out by the time Jamal goes into waves of piano hysteria for the relatively hyper introduction of "I Love Music." Definitely worth the twelve bucks in your pocket. Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

Born “Radical”?

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Born “Radical”? Friendly Foes Born Radical Gangplank Released: 1.13.09 Rating: 5.75 out of 10 In the post-9/11 landscape, there’s no shortage of synonyms for “radical,” as news anchors have been spewing them non-stop for the last five years. We’ve all come to understand “radical” as more than just a SoCal-sun fried loosely enunciated term used to enthusiastically bolster the esteem of highly crested waves or new varieties of Sun Chips. Now, “radical” spells “danger,” and one that embodies “radical” characteristics can be coined “insurgent,” “subversive,” “rebel,” “fundamentalist,” “extremist…” You’ve heard them all. To hear such a word applied to Born Radical , debut full-length by Thunderbirds Are Now! sideshow, Friendly Foes , “radical” takes the form of Disney-level adolescent tales of staying out past curfew because “fuck my parents…I mean, my parents don’t understand me,” or starting food fights in the cafeteria because “fuck authority…Oops, I mean, my teachers don’t

Oh 2008, Where Have You Gone?

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Hello all, The end of another year, so here’s another list for which to feed your eyes and disagree. As was the case last year, the numbers that I’ve used this year to rate the reviewed albums have been reconsidered for this list and links will take you to the actual review. Also, having contributed some blurbs for No Ripcord ’s Top 50 Albums of 2008 , I’ve recycled some of them for this list. Hope you enjoy and thanks very much for reading. It’s been a great year and I hope to earn your continued support. Here’s to a happy and healthy ‘09, Letters From A Tapehead 15). The Black Angels - Directions To See A Ghost All of Directions To See A Ghost , second album from psych-revivalists The Black Angels , is enveloped in distortion and weather-like thickness. Atmospherically, it’s top notch, the steady bass line of “Science Killer,” the Badalamenti rockabilly of “Mission District,” and the Velvets inspired “Never/Ever,” pulling together some very heavy mellow. This album

No Ripcord: Zero Boys

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Zero Boys Vicious Circle/History Of Reissues Secretly Canadian Originally released: '82/'83 Reissued: 2.3.09 No Ripcord review Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

Ron Asheton (1948-2009): The Year Begins with the End of a Stooge

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THIS is supposed to be the year. After playing a rendition of “Burning Up” in honor of Madonna last year as she was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame , it was decided that THIS was the year The Stooges would finally be given their shot at immortality, long overdue recognition for three ( The Stooges , Fun House and Raw Power ) of the greatest albums ever recorded. Unfortunately, Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton , brother to Stooges drummer Scott , won’t be there to share in the spotlight. Asheton was found dead today at the age of 60, having possibly suffered a heart attack. The Stooges perform “TV Eye” at the Cincinnati Pop Festival in 1970 With words, I find myself unable to perfectly capture my headspace every time I hear the opening riff of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” or the midway six-stringed assault of “TV Eye:” those perfect moments in perfect albums, rugged electricity spewing out of Ron Asheton’s fingertips with timeless ‘tude and energy. Those first two Stoo

Maus Will Play…

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Maus Haus Lark Marvels Pretty Blue Presents Released: 11.18.08 Rating: 9.75 out of 10 I know how easy it is to consistently pick from the same source material for comparables when the English language fails to properly convey the musical product of a somewhat idiosyncratic musical producer. Take the Nuggets boxset for instance: It’s very copious coverage of a large number of proto-punk, garage and psychedelic music from an influential era basically guarantees its perpetual reference. Maus Haus is no exception to this rule, their home city being San Francisco, and their music owing something to the Nuggets timeline. But, since Battles so interestingly married traditional instrumentation with modern paeans to the future sounds of something or other, with Maus Haus, the over-tapped 60s have finally led us to realize our inner- Jetson , 60s era pop ideals of a clean and robotic future seeping into our present millennial consciousness. No skyward housing, but a technologic

Happy New Year's

Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead