Friday, February 26, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron: Me And The Devil

American poet, Gil Scott-Heron, released his first album in 16 years this week entitled, I’m New Here. In the wake of Johnny Cash’s American series, where cover songs ran prevalent and Cash communicated his mortality through performance, Heron’s album is apparently as rendition-heavy and prone to the same introspective tone.



Robert Johnson’s “Me And The Devil” is treated as modern-day hip hop soul in a voice both worn and engaging, withdrawing authenticity from any popular pseudo-soul crooner. With as much R&B as you hear these days, it’s tragic that none of it means anything. People like Heron are a dying breed, which makes this song even more poignant.



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fund The Arts and Promote The Overlooked: LOST ROCKERS

Filmmaker, Paul Rachman, and writer, Steve Blush, the guys that brought American Hardcore to the masses, are working on a new documentary called, LOST ROCKERS.

LOST ROCKERS basically exposes the unexposed, examining forgotten or overlooked musicians that, somehow, got lost in the “star-maker” shuffle. Rachman and Blush are in the process of making this film, four interviews with Gloria Jones, Jake Holmes, David Peel and Dr. Israel in the can, and they need outside support to fund the project. They need $15,000 by May 19th.

You can find out more at Kickstarter.com.



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records #26: AFCGT & Nekrasov/Aderlating

Some specialty vinyl...

Siren Records, Doylestown, PA:

AFCGT
AFCGT (LP)
White vinyl 12" & 7"
Sup Pop
Released 1.26.10

So far, AFCGT's self-titled 12" is my favorite album of the year.


For Valentine's Day, my wife treated me to a day at the record store. Lately, as we've all been tightening our belts and doing all we can to deal with the dismal economy, record shopping hasn't been that common an occurrence. When you get a rare opportunity you want to make it count, so I was overwhelmed at the store and I was very focused on stretching my dollars as much as I could.


But, I saw AFCGT's album on the shelf. Granted, it would've been cool to get something new that I hadn't heard yet, but the only instance of certainty I experienced at the store was when I decided to pick this album up. So, it was meant to be.

You have to love creation when it combines "simplistic" with "dynamic." The music itself has an air of DIY-no wave nostalgia that the packaging enhances with its textured and crudely printed stock which is folded as opposed to glued. The accompanying 7" is packaged the same way, only in a smaller sleeve. Both slabs are white vinyl, stamped with the same one-color geometric shapes featured on the sleeves. It's a great set and, if you haven't heard it, a killer album.



Chrome Leaf Records purchases:

Nekrasov/Aderlating
Split LP
Black vinyl with silver and green splatter wax
Chrome Leaf
Released 2.2.10 (or, when Chrome Leaf made the album available to purchase)

So, I wasn't necessarily sold on Nekrasov and Aderlating's split LP in terms of enjoyment, but I was sold on its darkness and its limited run. Chrome Leaf only put out 300 of these, pricing them at an inexpensive $13 apiece. It's unusual for me to invest in what some may term "novelty," but there is something to be said for owning an album with little general appeal, as it becomes somewhat of a rockstar in the library.


"Do you want to hear something really scary?"

In the meantime, from a visual standpoint, the cover art, (by Aderlating, a.k.a. Mories), is as haunting as the album sounds. The vinyl, which is translucent black with silver and green wax, is versatile enough to photograph differently with or without a flash.

Back lit with a flash


Back lit sans flash


Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: jj

jj
jj n° 3
Secretly Canadian/Sincerely Yours
Released: 3.9.10


No Ripcord review


Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Village Vanguard: February 23, 1935...

The Village Vanguard is celebrating 75 years this week.

As integral as this club was to jazz music in the early to mid-20th century, The Village Vanguard is also the venue for two of my favorite John Coltrane albums, The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings and Live at the Village Vanguard Again!. It's possible that I've gone on and on about the Vanguard recordings in the past, so I'll instead focus on the club.


When CBGBs shut down in 2006, it was apparent that nothing in this big, dark, commercial world of ours was sacred. Art and commerce will always be at odds, needing each other in order to stay both stable and relevant, but ready to cancel each other out once the tides turn, the trends whither away, or people just stop caring. In 1977, it was about the music. In 2006, it was about the fucking rent.

The Village Vanguard is still an active club, nurturing the newbies and keeping up with the vets. Max Gordon opened the club in 1935; a basement that, according to jazz writer, Ashley Kahn, seats 123 people. Interesting number: sort of like the countdown that everyone's heard before the instruments go live and their audience brightens.



As far as popularity is concerned, jazz isn't what it once was, seen now as more of a classical art form and less of a relevant entity in terms of current popular trends. In a music environment such as ours, where hip-hop and post-CBGB mutations of rock music persist and garner most of the attention, it's interesting that the 75 year-old Vanguard still stands. Jazz music will always have appreciators, but, evidently it continues to deliver, even after Coltrane blazed trails so surreal they led to a dead end. Funny that the public's preoccupation with its ever-evolving (devolving) Top 40 hasn't affected the club and led it to the same fate that befell CBGBs. I'm thankful that some cornerstones of American genius still stand.

NPR features Vanguard performances every month.

Happy Birthday, Village Vanguard.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Man/Miracle

Man/Miracle's The Shape Of Things is out today via Third Culture Records and features an interesting mix of Naked era Talking Heads and a refined and somewhat aurally considerate Minutemen. The grooves are thick and worldly, the songs quick and dynamic.

A review for the album will be up within the next week or so. In the meantime, check out some songs:

"Above The Salon

"Hot Sprawl"



2.24 Bottom of the Hill SF, CA w/ Rogue Wave and Princeton (Noise Pop)
3.17 SXSW Austin, TX
3.18 Bay Area SXSW Takeover / Beauty Bar Austin, TX
3.24 Tin Can Ale House San Diego, CA
3.25 SLO Art Center San Luis Obispo, CA w/ Titus Andronicus

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Tunng: …And Then We Saw Land Trailer

Earlier this month, I posted a single from Tunng's upcoming release, ...And Then We Saw Land. A trailer for the album's release is available and features song snippets.





Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Listen? Listen? #2: Bowie folk, “Three Days,” and “Jackin’ For Beats...”

This weekend’s picks are such...

Sunday morning, Feb. 21:

Seu Jorge - The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions
The folk isn’t happening with my daughter just yet. Absence of percussion or any sort of available rhythm seems to bore and confuse her. And though this album of Portuguese David Bowie covers is something I enjoy, within five seconds of “Rebel Rebel” she was back with...



Jane’s Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual
Before everyone gets all “child protective services” on my ass, I own the copy with the censored cover and, thusly, my daughter’s first exposure to the first amendment will have been from Jane’s Addiction. Thank you, PMRC.


It wouldn’t have bothered her anyway. She would’ve pointed at the three naked statues and said, “boobies.” It would’ve been very matter-of-fact, with little damage involved.

“Stop” inspired my wife and I to dance around with her. “Been Caught Stealing,” with its barking beginnings had her going, “Doggies...ruff, ruff.” Once the dance party was over, I got her bath running while the CD continued. Three or four times, she ran out of the bathroom to dance alone to “Three Days,” which both amused and surprised me. For most of its ten minutes, she would hop on each foot, spinning around with a smile on her face. She just really got into the music. Ritual De Lo Habitual, as most of it garnered a reaction from her, could be her first favorite album, next to her Yo Gabba Gabba! CD of course.


Janes Addiction - Stop
Uploaded by Pzychofreak. - See the latest featured music videos.


Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealing

The Ox | MySpace Video




But, why stop there for inappropriate?

Later on that night, she hit the Ice Cube section of the library, and I turned her down three times. I wasn’t necessarily concerned by Cube’s penchant for bad language so much as my daughter’s selections were the War & Peace discs, which really aren’t that good, and The Predator, which begins with an inmate prison inspection. It’s been a while since I heard the album, but I’m pretty sure I remember there being instructions for lifting “balls,” or “sacks,” or “ball sacks,” so...












She did, though, pick the Kill At Will EP, which meant that I had to play “Jackin’ For Beats.” She didn’t care. I turned up the volume.





Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, February 19, 2010

Golden Triangle: Neon Noose

Golden Triangle bassist, Alix Brown, molests a boa while looking very Nancy Sinatra during this video for their single, “Neon Noose.” Lo-fidelity girl rock seems to be the rage these days, (Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and The Splinters come to mind), but I like the mixture of 60s pop nostalgia and garage-driven new wave pounce. Vocally speaking, the harmonies are the draw.

Their album, Double Jointer, will be out March 2nd through Hardly Art.

Either watch the video...



...or, just listen to the track:

”Neon Noose”

Golden Triangle to / from SXSW:
03.06.10 - Brooklyn, NY - Monster Island (record release party!)
03.09.10 - Columbus, OH - Cafe Bourbon Street
03.10.10 - Memphis, TN - Hi Tone
03.11.10 - New Orleans, LA - Spellcaster Lodge
03.13.10 - Monterrey, Mexico - Festival Normal
03.15.10 - Houston, TX – Mango
(SXSW)
03.22.10 - Oklahoma City, OK - The Conservatory
03.23.10 - Lawrence, KS - Replay
03.24.10 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen
03.25.10 - Cleveland, OH - Now That's Class
03.26.10 - Rochester, NY - The Bug Jar
04.01.10 - New York, NY - Knitting Factory



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Carta

There are a million and one songs suitable for a rainy day. Here’s another one.

Sort of an obscure band, (their drummer apparently plays with Howlin’ Rain), Carta’s “Building Bridges” is understated and minimal, though truly engaging. It eventually builds from mid-tempo gloom into a mild storm of percussion that some would call “rewarding” in a melancholy way.

Their album, An Index of Birds, is out on Silber Records.

”Building Bridges”



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Daytrotter Sessions: No Age



No Age recorded three tracks for Daytrotter, none of which have been properly released. The songs are available here.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

"Listen? Listen?" #1: Daughter's Picks Introduction

Some may find this cute, and others stupid. Whatever... I think it's kind of cool.

Lately, my daughter's grown somewhat of a fascination with my CD library, so much so that she's been routinely offering me CDs to play while asking, "Listen? Listen?"

Understandably, as she picks at random, most of what I play holds her interest for 30 seconds before she's onto the next thing. As this is has been a constant for the last couple weeks, I'm going to list her picks for the week. Think of it as my Zappa/Moon "Valley Girl" collaboration series.

Sunday morning, Feb. 14:

Fu-Schnickens - Greatest Hits
"La Schmooze" and "Ring The Alarm" amused her enough. She even danced a little bit, though, it was the jewel case that interested her most of all. I think the yellow cover caught her eye as she seemed to pick this one out twice in two weeks.



Various Artists - No New York
When she brought this to me I said, "Nah... you're not going to like this one." I got through about twenty seconds of James Chance's "Dish It Out" before she said, "Stop it!" I had a new CD within 5 seconds.



King Britt - King Britt presents: The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed
Possibly too mellow, too smooth? She got bored and left the room. I got to listen to it a little longer, realizing that it had been a long time since I gave this album any rotation. I'd like to revisit it this week at some point.


The Mothers Of Invention - Absolutely Free
She yelled at "Plastic People." Evidently, Zappa isn't her thing. Yet.



Various Artists - Impulsive! Revolutionary Jazz Reworked
I don't think she liked this one, either. Chief Xcel's (Blackalicious) interpretation of Archie Shepp's "Attica Blues" may have been a little heavy for a two year-old.



PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love
The title track takes a little while to kick in, so I went straight to "Meet Ze Monsta," which got her jumping up and down. She REALLY liked that song. Smiling, she jumped in place, ran around in circles and actually let the whole track play. Alterna-hipster in the works.



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shopping For Records #25: Iggy And The Stooges/Cave & The Seeds...

Can you feel the reissue gods getting all seminal on your asses?

Legacy/Columbia is releasing a Deluxe Edition of the very necessary Iggy and The Stooges classic, Raw Power. The release date is April 27th.


From iggyandthestoogesmusic.com:

— The long out-of-print original David Bowie mix of the album, newly-remastered for maximum impact!

Georgia Peaches, an 8-song, one-hour performance at Atlanta’s notorious rock club Richards in October 1973

— A full disc of Rarities, Outtakes, & Alternates from the
Raw Power Era.

— 48 page softcover book with essays by Henry Rollins, Brian J. Bowe and Kris Needs + testimonials by Tom Morello, Lou Reed, Cheetah Chrome, Jim Reid, Perry Farrell, Hugo Burnham and more.

— A TON of previously unseen Raw Power-era shots.

— 5 exquisite 5x7-inch prints, suitable for framing.

— Japanese pic-sleeve 45 single repro: "Raw Power" b/w "Search And Destroy"

— The
Making of Raw Power documentary by Morgan Neville featuring NEW interviews with Iggy Pop, James Williamson, Scott Asheton, Mike Watt, Johnny Marr, and Henry Rollins; plus live performance footage of James Williamson's first reunion gig with Iggy and the Stooges after 35 years! Shot at Festival Planeta Terra, Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 2009.

This is probably the reissue of the year, especially with all the frills Legacy/Columbia's managed to dig up. As essentials go, this one will very likely find its way in my CD library.



Mute Records, after reissuing the first four Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds albums last year, will be continuing the trend. Tender Prey, The Good Son and Henry's Dream will be receiving the Collectors treatment, video enticements and the usual bonuses. They'll be out March 30th. I still have last year's reissues on my wish list, so we'll add another three to the bunch. I'll get them all eventually.





Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Sightings & Small Black

Jagjaguwar and Brah Records are releasing City Of Straw, the seventh album by Brooklyn trio, Sightings. The first single from the album, “Tar And Pine,” is an avalanche of No Wave pulsation that marries Alan Vega creepy/cool with a hybridized byproduct that’s somewhere between Swans and Einstürzende Neubauten. Interestingly, Sightings is not a machined creation, just a trio of musicians set on bruising ears and scraping minds like headphone sandpaper.

"Tar And Pine"

Sightings will also be on a spring tour of North America:

4/16/10 Providence, RI ASS200
4/17/10 Boston, MA PA's Lounge
4/19/10 Montreal, QB Casa Del Popolo
4/20/10 Toronto, ON The Boat
4/21/10 Columbus, OH Skylab
4/23/10 Chicago, IL The Mopery
4/26/10 Seattle, WA SS Marie Antoinette
4/28/10 Portland, OR Artistry
4/29/10 Oakland, CA The Oasis
4/30/10 San Francisco, CA Hemlock Tavern
5/01/10 Sacremento, CA The Hub
5/02/10 Los Angeles, CA Syncspace
5/04/10 Denver, CO Rhinoceropolis
5/05/10 Kansas City, MO The Foundation
5/06/10 Louisville, KY Skull Alley
5/07/10 Cleveland, OH Embassy



Jagjaguwar will also be re-releasing Small Black's Small Black EP with additional songs. The expanded EP will be releasing on April 26th and a new LP is expected later this year.



Small Black: Despicable Dogs from Yoonha Park on Vimeo.



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Happy Hollows: Death To Vivek Kemp

LA rock trio, The Happy Hollows, released their new album, Spells, in late January. “Death To Vivek Kemp” is enjoyably catchy and appropriately scuffed by indie rock guitar, marrying an Alterna-femme howl with post-hardcore change-ups. Nice bass rhythm, too.





Upcoming Tour Dates:
2/18 Los Angeles, CA - The Smell
3/3 Washington, DC - Black Cat
3/4 Philadelphia, PA - The North Star
3/12 Los Angeles, CA - The Troubadour
3/13 Phoenix, AZ - Trunk Space
3/17 - 3/20 Austin, TX - SXSW

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Times New Viking: 2/11 Don't Forget... (Happy Birthday to My Little Girl)



In recognition of Times New Viking's album, Born Again Revisited, Matador Records posted the single, "2/11 Don't Forget."

In recognition of my daughter's birthday, there couldn't be a more appropriate song to post as 2/11 is a date I'll never forget.

"2/11 Don't Forget"

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shopping For Records #24: Southern Lord Vinyl Subscription & Black Cobra's "Chronomega"

It's really happening. The music industry's mostly written them off, writers signaled the oncoming demise and now labels are accommodating the prediction. The compact disc is in the process of being tossed like a mini-frisbee from the "optional format" column. Vinyl, somehow, has regained its footing during the information age, which is certainly cause for celebration. With CDs though having been such a paramount presence in the music industry since the early to mid-80s, labels, especially independent ones, are trying to find ways to capitalize on the changing tide.

Southern Lord is offering a subscription series. For one payment, you receive seven vinyl copies of popular, (relatively speaking), Southern Lord releases. Most of these exclusive releases will feature tracks unavailable on the digital versions and all will be 180 gram specialty vinyl with unique color and design. Black Cobra's Chronomega, which came out around Fall of last year, is the first to be issued for subscribers.



From Southern Lord's blog:

Black CobraChronomega: Vinyl version of the latest brutal recording from Black Cobra. Contains a bonus track not available on the CD version. A cover of the Buzz-Oven classic: “Behaved”. Exclusive color for subscribers: Blood Splatter (limited to 550)

Ascend
Ample Fire Within: 2xLP Deluxe vinyl version with beautiful heavy-weight gatefold jacket and printed inner sleeves. Contains two bonus tracks not available on the CD version. A cover the McCoy Tyner piece: “Desert Cry” and the side long mega drone: “Fenrir Ondi Ahman”. Exclusive color for subscribers: Clear (limited to 550 )

Pelican
What We All Come To Need: 2xLP Deluxe vinyl version with beautiful heavy-weight gatefold jacket. The fourth side contains three bonus tracks not available on the CD version. Exclusive color for subscribers: Red, silver, splatter (limited to 550)

Trap Them
Filth Rations: 12″ Exclusive vinyl only release (NO CD) containing 4 unreleased songs. Especially recorded for a Southern Lord vinyl release. This will be a one sided 12″ with a exclusive etching from artist: Justin Bartlett on the B-side. Exclusive color for subscribers: TBA (limited to 550)

Yob
The Great Cessation: 2xLP, gatefold jacket. This is the best fucking album Yob has done! Contains two bonus tracks not available on the CD version. Exclusive color for subscribers: TBA (limited to 550)

Twilight
Monument To Time End: Members of Nachtmystium, Krieg, and Leviathan have convened once again under the Twilight moniker. The results blow the living shit out of their debut album we released a few years back. Aaron Turner (Isis) and Rob Lowe (Lichens, OM) contribute to the sonic brew. Vinyl version will contain exclusive material. Exclusive color for subscribers: TBA (limited to 550)

The seventh album is, apparently, a surprise.

In the meantime, in addition to Black Cobra's vinyl release of Chronomega, the band (Acid King's Rafa Martinez and former Cavity, Jason Landrian), will be touring extensively for SXSW and with High On Fire later in this Spring.

BLACK COBRA California In-Store Performances:
2/09/2010 R5 Records - Sacramento, CA
2/10/2010 Streetlight Records - San Jose, CA
2/11/2010 Streetlight Records - Santa Cruz, CA
2/13/2010 Thirsty Moon - San Diego, CA
2/14/2010 Vacation - Los Angeles, CA

March Tour + SXSW:
3/16/2010 Burt's Tiki Lounge - Albuquerque, NM w/ Spittin' Cobras
3/17/2010 The Conservatory - Oklahoma City, OK w/ Liturgy, White Mice
3/18/2010 Channel/Meridian - Houston, TX w/ Weedeater, ASG, Gates of Slumber, US Christmas
3/19/2010 Skillman Street Bar - Dallas, TX w/ Weedeater, Black Tusk, Gates of Slumber
3/20/2010 Encore - Austin, TX - SXSW Tone Deaf Touring Showcase w/ Weedeater, Rwake, Black Tusk, ASG, U.S. Christmas
3/21/2010 Zombies - San Antonio, TX w/ Weedeater, Black Tusk, Gates of Slumber, SBL
3/22/2010 Rogue - Fayetteville, AR w /U.S. Christmas
3/23/2010 Downtown Music - Little Rock, AR w/ U.S. Christmas
3/24/2010 The Muse - Nashville, TN w/ U.S. Christmas
3/26/2010 31st St Pub - Pittsburgh, PA w/ Bison BC
3/27/2010 Mickey Finn's Pub - Toledo, OH

BLACK COBRA Tour w/ High on Fire, Priestess, Bison BC
3/31/2010 Triple Rock Social Club - Minneapolis, MN
4/01/2010 High Noon Saloon - Madison, WI
4/02/2010 Lincoln Hall - Chicago, IL
4/03/2010 Skully's Music Diner - Columbus, OH
4/05/2010 123 Pleasant St - Morgantown, WV
4/06/2010 First Unitarian Church - Philadelphia, PA
4/07/2010 The Middle East - Cambridge, MA
4/08/2010 Daniel St - Milford, CT
4/09/2010 Gramercy Theater - New York, NY
4/11/2010 Black Cat - Washington, DC
4/13/2010 Tremont Music Hall - Charlotte, NC
4/14/2010 The Masquerade - Atlanta, GA
4/15/2010 One Eyed Jacks - New Orleans, LA
4/16/2010 Walters on Washington - Houston, TX
4/17/2010 Emo's - Austin, TX
4/18/2010 The Loft - Dallas, TX
4/20/2010 Fox Theater - Boulder, CO
4/22/2010 Hollywood Alley - Phoenix, AZ
4/23/2010 El Rey Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
4/24/2010 Detroit Bar - Costa Mesa, CA
4/25/2010 The Casbah - San Diego, CA



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Lost Sounds: Memphis Is Dead


Since it’s come to light that cocaine and alcohol led him to die too young, Jay Reatard’s legacy does don an asterisk whose footnote reads, “Wasted talent.” Drugs, alcohol and their combination leading to an early demise is nothing new in rock n’ roll, but I do find it interesting that the most talented or noteworthy musicians to openly partake of this poison typically have the weakest constitutions. Nikki Sixx, on the other hand, can be clinically dead and come back to life like a rehab Messiah. Are rock stars just better at tolerating chemicals than musicians?

Just a thought...

Anyway, as I’ve been exploring Reatard’s back catalog to some extent, I found the 1+1=Nothing 7” via his ‘99 -’05 outlet, Lost Sounds. Way out-of-print, having been issued in 2000 by Empty Records, 1+1=Nothing is a synth-blackened noise album, its eerie title track something that caught my ear as I was surfing the ‘net one night in search of, coincidentally, nothing.

“Memphis Is Dead” is on its B-side, and features Contaminated Records owner and Memphis garage rocker, Alicja Trout, screeching away riot grrrl style.

A link to download a digital copy exists at Pukeskywalker.com, along with a couple other Lost Sounds releases.



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Tunng

Tunng, a London-based band of electric folksters, are releasing their newest album, ...And Then We Saw Land, this April. “Don’t Look Down Or Back” is the first single off the album, and combines some choral energy with acoustic grace.


Apparently, meeting the Malian band, Tinariwen, had a huge influence on Tunng and the album’s sound.

This was nabbed from Stereogum: ”Don’t Look Down Or Back”

Video for “Bullets” from 2007’s Good Arrows

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Year End Gathering: Stragglers Vol. 2

Yeah, I know this is taking way too long to compile. After this round I’m going to do one more, but the BEST OF for 2009 is pretty irrelevant at this point. Once again, bit off more than I could chew.

Bat For Lashes
Two Suns
Astralwerks
Released: 4.7.09

Required or mandatory praise took shape in most of what I’d read about Two Suns by Bat For Lashes, a well-produced piano dirge with all the necessary fixins’ to convey its dark tonality and the harshed mellow of its “little girl lost.”

The album is pretty and Ms. Lashes has a set of pipes that ensure said prettiness. “Moon And Moon” boasts the sort of lush textures I enjoy in Tori-esque balladry of this sort, “Siren Song” and “Good Love” drown in their respective and ethereal existence.

The album’s single, “Daniel,” is basically a rehashed 80s pop track that softens the album’s intended impact. With this song, I envision Atreyu and Artax galloping across Fantasia, (I think I just dated myself), which basically taints any of the album’s dance-hooked enticements. That being said, I’m not sure why Two Suns has received the grand praise that it has. If anything, her criminal under use of Scott Walker for the album’s closer, “The Big Sleep,” is inexcusable enough to ruin the album’s reputation.

Bat For Lashes - Daniel (HD) from Peter Pan on Vimeo.



Phoenix
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
V2
Released: 5.26.09

Yet another album that I was supposed to like this year.

It’s a lame and fairly basic aspect of music fandom that the most talked about albums will be so riddled with lipstick your expectations won’t be met. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, though, I like it because it made me challenge my cynicism a bit, relaxed me, allowed me to enjoy somewhat of a “good time” even with its propensity for cutesy pop-o-licious fluffiness. It even has an air of superiority attached to it, its title some sort of perverse abomination that suggests conceit. The first few notes of “Lisztomania” almost begged me to turn the album off, but I listened, and I listened some more. Now, French pop rockers, Phoenix, at least qualify as a catchy amusement and “Fences” was rhythmic enough to bury itself in my head for days.



Dirty Projectors
Bitte Orca
Domino
Released: 6.9.09

David Longstreth’s Dirty Projectors is interesting as they may be the most pleasant and accessible band to be considered somewhat experimental. There is nothing alienating about this album, Bitte Orca’s feminine harmonies too pleasant to really counteract Longstreth’s odd-tempo acoustics (“Temecula Sunrise,” “The Bride”), or dance-friendly breaks into slamming dancing frenzy (“Useful Chamber”).

If anything Bitte Orca is pretty: “Cannibal Resource” and “Remade Horizon” coursing with Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle’s unified throat while they also take Orient-flavored liberties with “Stillness Is The Move” and “No Intention.”

I’d actually like to check out their Rise Above album: Projector style covers of Black Flag’s essential Damaged. Or, maybe it would forever ruin this band in my eyes.



Zaza
Cameo EP
Kanine Records
Released: 8.18.09

This is one album I wish hadn’t slipped through the cracks.

As much as the whole enveloping, ethereal darkness thing may be getting a tad played out, shoegazer duo, Zaza, crafted a very pensive and rhythmically sound EP based in this sort of retro-goth exterior. The songs are mesmerizing, and Cameo’s first track, “The Call,” caught me by surprise, haunting and even kind of sexy. Zaza, Jennifer Fraser and Danny Taylor, take ample advantage of the opportunity to express who they are amidst isolating consonance, smooth bass tone (“Arms Length”) and tribal percussion (“Sooner or Later”).

“Repetition” was one of the best songs I’d heard in 2009.



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: VOICEsVOICEs

VOICEsVOICEs
Origins
Manimal Vinyl
Released: 1.26.10


No Ripcord review


Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Nebula


Jam heavy, spacey, Sabbath/King Crimson—drenched rock music?

Nebula, featuring former-Fu Manchu singer, Eddie Glass, will be touring in early Spring and appearing at this year’s SXSW for the Tee Pee Records Showcase. Off the strength of 2009’s Heavy Psych, Nebula is also releasing a new split 7” with labelmates, and tour mates, Quest For Fire.

I managed to nab their contribution from Brooklyn Vegan, a song called “The Perfect Rapture.”

”The Perfect Rapture”

From Tee Pee press release:

Nebula US Tour:
03/16/10 Channel/Meridian, Houston TX w/Torche
03/18/10 Tee Pee Records SXSW Showcase @ Habana Calle 6 w/ Priestess, Iron Age and more!
03/19/10 SXSW TBA
03/20/10 SXSW TBA
03/21/10 SXSW TBA
03/22/10 Saturn Bar, New Orleans LA w/ASG
03/23/10 Lenny's, Atlanta GA w/Quest For Fire
03/24/10 Rocket Club, Asheville NC w/Quest For Fire
03/25/10 V Club, Huntington WV w/Quest For Fire
03/26/10 Johnny Brendas, Philadelphia PA w/Quest For Fire
03/27/10 Pianos, New York NY w/Quest For Fire
03/28/10 Wreck Room, Toronto ON w/Quest For Fire
03/29/10 Bug Jar, Rochester NY w/Quest For Fire
03/30/10 Grog Shop, Cleveland OH w/Quest For Fire
03/31/10 Summit, Columbus OH w/Quest For Fire
04/01/10 Double Door, Chicago IL w/The Willowz, Quest For Fire, Lionize
04/02/10 Firebird, St. Louis MO w/The Willowz, Lionize
04/03/10 Hi Tone, Memphis TN w/The Willowz, Lionize
04/04/10 The Conservatory, Oklahoma City OK w/Lionize
04/05/10 Jackpot Saloon, Lawrence KS w/The Willowz, Lionize
04/06/10 3 Kings Tavern, Denver CO w/The Willowz, Lionize
04/07/10 Club Vegas, Salt Lake City UT w/The Willowz, Lionize
04/09/10 Studio Seven, Seattle WA w/The Willowz, Lionize
04/10/10 Dante's, Portland OR w/The Willowz, Lionize
04/12/10 Thee Parkside, San Francisco CA w/The Willowz, Lionize
04/15/10 Spaceland, Los Angeles CA w/The Willowz, Lionize

Nebula UK/European Tour:
2/04 Rosenkeller - Jena, Germany
2/05 Knaack - Berlin, Germany
2/06 Cafe Nova - Essen, Germany
2/07 Logo - Hamburg, Germany
2/10 Rock City - Nottingham, UK
2/11 The Croft - Bristol, UK
2/12 Underworld - London, UK
2/14 Het Bollwerk - Sneek, NL
2/16 Rohre - Stuttgart, Germany
2/17 Gaswerk - Winterthur, CH
2/18 Bloom - Mezzago, Italy
2/19 Sinister Noise - Rome, Italy
2/20 United Club - Torino, Italy
2/21 Boa - Luzern, CH
2/22 Backstage - Munich, Germany
2/23 Arena - Vienna, Austria
2/24 TBC - Ljubiljana, Slovenia
2/25 TBC - Zagreb, Croatia

From Heavy Psych


Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, February 05, 2010

What I Heard/Saw This Morning: Ariana Delawari...

Singer Ariana Delawari released her album, Lion of Panjshir, last fall. David Lynch’s DLF.TV, with the help of cultural guide, Flavorpill, created a promo for Delawari’s album, featuring Lynch’s trademark drapery and camerawork.



Videos:


Lynch’s promo for Lion of Panjshir


Interview with Ariana Delawari

Songs:

"San Francisco"

"Be Gone Taliban"

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Beatles-centric Entry # Whatever: Grammy Goes to LOVE Documentary...


Much as I dislike the Grammys, it’s worth mentioning that All Together Now, a documentary about the making of the Cirque Du Soleil/Beatles show, LOVE, was awarded for “Best Long Form Music Video” (Adrian Wills, director; Martin Bolduc and Jonathan Clyde, producers).

The documentary also focuses on the efforts of George and Giles Martin to reconsider The Beatles’ music for the performance. 2006’s LOVE was the result which was awarded for both “Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or other Visual Medium” and “Surround Sound Album.”

Probably my most starstruck moment as a self-made music critic (“hack” more like it) occurred after I’d reviewed LOVE, as Giles Martin somehow found my write-up and commented. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to my heroes in suits.





Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Garcia Plays Kyuss...

John Garcia, the former lead singer of desert rock band, (and Josh Homme springboard), Kyuss, will be touring as Garcia Plays Kyuss. The intent is to basically revive the Kyuss legacy while possibly allowing Garcia to reinstate his rep as one of the progenitors of our modern idea of “stoner” music, the searing heat and persistent meander a commonality amongst most bands of this sort.


In 1994, as grunge was fizzling out and all its alterna-progeny were desperately clinging to their superstardom, a friend lent me his copy of Welcome To Sky Valley. Soon after, I bought my own. Around bedtime, I would throw on my headphones, hit PLAY and stare at the ceiling while I was being calmly annihilated by their swells of crunching guitars and muddy rhythms. And, without trying to sound cliché, Kyuss really could transport you to those isolating places in your head where you could call out “Hello” and hear it echo for miles. Welcome To Sky Valley always sounded to me like reds, yellows and oranges, cracked plateaus and dry heat. Theirs was an album that I could always visualize. It’s still one of my favorite albums, monumental to those developmental days of not knowing where you’re going but hoping you’re okay when you get there.





Garcia will be touring with Bruno Fevery (guitar), Jacques de Haard (bass) and Rob Snijders (drums).

Tour dates (as listed by StonerRock.com) :

28.05.10 DUBLIN Andrews Theatre
29.05.10 GENT Vooruit
30.05.10 AMSTERDAM Melkweg
01.06.10 KÖLN Underground
02.06.10 LUZERN Schuur
03.06.10 ARAU Kiff
04.06.10 BOLOGNA Estragon
05.06.10 MÜNCHEN Feierwerk
06.06-10 WIEN Arena
08.06.10 BERLIN Festsaal Kreuzberg
09.06.10 KOBENHAVN Loppen
10.06.10 HAMBURG Übel & Gefährlich
11.06.10 FRANKFURT Batchkapp

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Daytrotter Sessions: Beach House



Beach House performed some of the songs from their new album, Teen Dream, for Daytrotter on February 1st. If you're interested, the songs are available for download here.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: The Album Leaf...

The new album by The Album Leaf, A Chorus of Storytellers, was released on February 2nd. Spinner.com is streaming the full album for the time being, (that time being a week), so give it a listen before you shell out your hard-earned.





Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Notes from the Record Room: Bring on the Kill Taker

I was in Ocean City, New Jersey with a friend, sitting outside on a deck with a boombox resting between us. It was 1993. On this particu...