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Showing posts from December, 2008

The Rest Of 2008 (or, There Aren’t Enough Hours In A Day, Nor Days In A Year)

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So, it’s almost 2009 and I’m feeling a little burnt out. The general holiday pressures notwithstanding, trying to squeeze the rest of my 2008 “talkabouts” out this month, hoping to further shape my much “anticipated” Best Of list, was a bit tiring. I’m not Mick Jagger : Time is NOT on my side. So, in the interest of making sure my unfortunate stragglers get SOME due, here’s a list of what I failed to cover. My apologies to the following: Man Man Rabbit Habits Anti- Released: 4.8.08 Rating: 9.25 out of 10 “You think you’re so slick/I seen her lipstick ‘cross your dillsnick…” Juvenilia definitely penetrates the otherwise vibratory rush of xylophone that pushes through Man Man ’s “The Ballad Of Butter Beans.” But the Philadelphia-bred outfit’s tripping sailor music, a pop-ilicious combo of Waits -ian oceanic travelogue and Zappa lampooned avant-progression, is the work of musicians that take what they do very seriously. Rabbit Habits , their third album, crosses manic aggre

Freddie Hubbard (1938-2008)

Jazz trumpeter, Freddie Hubbard , died Monday at the age of 70. Only being somewhat familiar with his work, namely his work with Coltrane in Africa/Brass and Ascension , and on Ornette Coleman 's Free Jazz album, it's probably best to let this video clip speak for him. Here he is in 1982 playing alongside two of my heroes: Drummer, Tony Williams and bassist, Ron Carter . R.I.P. Mr. Hubbard. Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

Whatever you may celebrate...

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...hope you all have an enjoyable holiday season. Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: Readers/Writers Poll 2008

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No Ripcord Readers' Poll results. Individual lists for contributing writers. Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

12.21: Happy Birthday, Frank

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68 years old today. Hope you're celebrating where ever you are. Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

Pretty Folking Good...

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Between The Pine Friends, Foes, Kith And Kin Supply & Demand Released: 12.16.08 Rating: 9 out of 10 I must be depressed, because I really like this. Typically, someone like James Diotte , also known as Between The Pine , would be subject to my folk music magnifying glass. A couple days ago, I was having a conversation with a friend regarding folk music. She’s a fan, I’m usually not too receptive; reason being, folk music takes no prisoners. You don’t get more naked than folk music, even with a band behind you, and with the whole genre basically following only three or four shining stars, it’s seems very prone to monotony. Facsimiles of Elliot Smith , Nick Drake , Damien Rice and Sam Beam are everywhere it seems, flooding the video hits market, making the chicks swoon…distinctive folk acts are hard to come by. Basically: If you live by the acoustic, if your drawers are filled with flannel shirts and your guitar looks beat-up to symbolize your world-weary poetry, you b

Don’t Listen to Brian Wilson On A Bad Day…

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Brian Wilson The Lucky Old Sun Capitol Released: 9.2.08 Rating: 6.25 out of 10 Love letter to L.A. Whatever. Cubicle bound on a cold and grey December afternoon, confronted with an infuriatingly long commute amidst an abundance of retail-hungry Christmas shoppers keeping me frozen in a line of traffic, keeping me from going home, Brian Wilson ’s latest foray into California rock operatic cuteness, The Lucky Old Sun , is tantamount to a denture-impediment of a “nyah nyah.” Is it somewhat of a slap in the face that Wilson morphed a 1949 blues song, (originally written by Beasley Smith and Haven Gillespie ), perfectly illustrating the desire to be anyone, or anything, else in the face of backbreaking hardship, into this ridiculously upbeat ode to Los Angeles, interspersing reprise after reprise before and following banally conceived spoken word narratives and otherwise inconsequential and sentimental crap? Think SMiLE II , with emphasis on the “II:” an unrealized attempt at d

No Ripcord: Top 50 Albums of 2008 (Part Two)

The top 25 records of 2008 has been posted. I have to be honest, the numero uno wasn't one of the more impressive albums I'd heard this year. Individual writers' lists and the readers' poll should be available soon. Also, Chicago Public Radio features a show called Sound Opinions with music critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot acting as hosts. Their recent countdown of 2008's best is online . Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: Top 50 Albums of 2008 (Part One)

So, the year's almost over and all the last minute tallies are being rung up so as to decide how 2008 faired as a music year. Despite being mostly absent around the beginning of 2008, with my daughter being born two months early and family obligations canceling out blogging obligations, I did my best to stay up-to-date and hopefully won a lot of new readers. I also managed to score some extra work with the cordial staff at No Ripcord , who were nice enough to take me on as a contributor. I will be compiling my own personal best of... , as I usually do, but probably not until early to mid-January. I still have some releases I want to get through, which I will hopefully complete before the ball drops in Times Square. In the meantime, No Ripcord asked me to summarize four albums for their Top 50: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! Marnie Stern - This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That

These Drugs Sound Great: Ethereal Desert Meets Sister Rerun and the Overlong Sabbath…

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Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. Recurring Dream and Apocalypse Of Darkness Important Records Released: 5.13.08 Rating: 8.5 out of 10 The Black Angels Directions To See A Ghost A Light in the Attic Released: 5.13.08 Rating: 7.75 out of 10 Grails Take Refuge In Clean Living Important Records Released: 5.13.08 Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Doomsdayer’s Holiday Temporary Residence Released: 10.7.08 Rating: 9 out of 10 So, it’s all about atmosphere, right? The Grails , a very ethereal sounding presence, reliant on Middle Eastern aesthetics, heavy rhythm and sometimes jazz-based percussion and syncopation. Acid Mothers Temple , in all their permutations formed by its cultish leader Kawabata Makoto , remain a Sabbath -based collective of lengthy, loud and acidic hard rock and under-the-influence haze. The Black Angels , a Texas unit more reflective of the proto punk variety, (think a post- Joy Division , post- My Bloody Valentine take on The Velvet Underground ), f

“I’m Your Torpedo:” It Seems A Little Serious This Time Around

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Eagles Of Death Metal Heart On Downtown Released: 10.28.08 Rating: 8 out of 10 It’s not as if Jesse “Boots Electric” Hughes or Joshua “Baby Duck” Homme have relented on simplified rock n’ roll. That ain’t the case. Hughes is always primed for attack, throwing his pick across those strings with a Keith Richards sense of commitment and ballsy dominance, his voice a high-pitched homage to 50s doo-wop. And Homme, a records-only presence and creative super force, is there to aid and assist as drummer or bassist. Maybe his trademark vocals make an appearance or two. As Eagles Of Death Metal progresses, Homme’s mark seems to permeate what was once an unembellished, unadulterated but super-sweet rock unit, hell bent on shimmering hooks and “Yeah, baby” sentimentality. Heart On is the most Queens Of The Stone Age Eagles Of Death Metal album yet, showing a noticeable growth in songwriting and experimentation, but somehow extracting Hughes’ real gift: his ability to bring on t

No Ripcord: Readers Poll 2008

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In the interest of possibly letting your voices and preferences be heard, No Ripcord is offering readers a chance to vote for their favorite albums of the year. The deadline is December 14th. I realize that there isn't a whole lot of time left, but... it only just occurred to me to spread the word. I do apologize. Here's the article. Enjoy. Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

It was 28 years ago today...

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Hope you and George are keeping them entertained wherever you are. "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon Continue to rest in peace. Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead

Beats, Harmony & Artifacts

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Aether Artifacts Exponential Released: 11.26.08 Rating: 8 out of 10 There was a point in time when hip-hop’s sound pioneers understood music the same way musicians understand it. Not an observation that holds too much water in mainstream hip-hop these days it seems, as producers/beatmeisters on MTV rotation are happy enough to tweak a knob or two and get away with mediocrity. I admit to approaching Aether , a.k.a. Diego Chavez , with the same cynicism that led me to write the above observation. I was happily surprised. Artifacts , Aether’s solo debut, is built upon old school aesthetics, meaning that it has substance, it has weight, it has the power to move and mesmerize. Piano, Latin-flavored guitar notes, mostly rugged beats and sampled vocal loops, sort of evokes The RZA in his prime, back when Wu-Tang were still nuttin’ ta fuck wit.’ His mixture of traditional boom-bap (“To Her”), smooth soul (“It Was”) and even pop rock ( The Moody Blues melody of “Autumn Pisces”

If You Seek Parents: Parental Advisory Remains Out-Of-Touch

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Parents SHOULD be aware of what their children see or hear. I won’t argue with that. There’s something to be said about the power of hitting a button on a remote control, or turning the dial on the car stereo. There’s something to be said about the power of personal responsibility and the right to exercise that responsibility as you see fit, especially in the interest of a developing and impressionable child. Because, as is always the argument, it’s the children we need to protect from harmful content, right? Isn’t that why PARENTAL ADVISORY is adhered to anything questionable in terms of music, giving parents pause for purchase and giving music consumers the mark of quality? Britney Spears pulled a fast one, apparently, and angered a couple parents. It’s the same story: Unaware mother buys album for young child, young child unknowingly espouses album’s questionable and inappropriate wisdom in front of parent, parent gets outraged, tells world, pseudo-controversial performer go

Danger Mouse: Adventures in Urban Folk and the White Boy Blues

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The Black Keys Attack & Release Nonesuch Released: 4.1.08 Rating: 7.75 out of 10 Beck Modern Guilt Interscope Released: 7.8.08 Rating: 8.5 out of 10 For DJ/producer Danger Mouse , when it rains, it really, really rains. A wealth of production opportunities either in the works or in motion, the guy doesn’t suffer from a lack of things to do, Gnarls Barkley notwithstanding. This year, he brought unto thee Attack & Release from blues duo The Black Keys and Modern Guilt by folk-hopper extraordinaire, Beck . Myself somewhat of an over-thinker at points, as has been more than proven time and time again if you read my incessant bullshit, a hip-hop DJ’s involvement with a blues-based rock band from Akron, Ohio and an urban-infused folk act is intriguing to me. From note one of Black Keys’ “I Got Mine,” the unpolished and unabashed blues lick’s presence more or less leaping from within the spiral bound and crinkled pages of How To Rock Like An Allman Brother Vol. 1 , (

Shopping For Records #9: Flipper’s Generic Is Finally Affordable/Magazine Gets Peel(ed)…

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Flipper Generic Flipper Sex Bomb Baby Gone Fishin’ Public Flipper Limited Live 1980-1985 Water - CD Release 4 Men With Beards - Vinyl Release Releases: 12.9.08 - CD Release; 3.09 – Vinyl Release After a couple years of searching and finding laughably unaffordable results for out-of-print Flipper CDs, I was thrilled to find out that reissues have finally been realized. I remember hearing Rick Rubin ’s name attached to the project maybe two years ago, but I guess that just wasn’t in the cards. Maybe he got sidelined by Metallica ’s recent attempt at relevance. Who knows? Flipper’s Myspace page had this to say: ”Finally, after way too many years out of print, The Classic Flipper Albums, originally released in the 1980s, will be re-released on vinyl by Four Men With Beards, and on CD by Water, both imprints under the Runt label. Generic Flipper , Gone Fishin' , Public Flipper Limited , and Sex Bomb Baby , will begin hitting stores in the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan,

Robert Implant and the Harm Wide Open...

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This morning, I happened upon an article over at Rolling Stone.com that made a couple things very clear: Vomit #1 — Led Zeppelin may possibly reunite for a tour WITHOUT Robert Plant , meaning that someone inappropriate will be taking over as vocalist. Vomit #2 — The inappropriate candidate for the tour's Robert Implant is Myles Kennedy , current lead singer for the band, Alter Bridge . Vomit #3 — For those of you don't know, Alter Bridge is the byproduct of Scott Stapp 's decision to leave Creed and embark on a laughable (fuckit, hysterically delusional) solo career. Vomit #4 — Because of Kennedy's potential obligation to tour as Zeppelin's Robert Implant , Alter Bridge is in talks to reunite with the deflated Stapp, thusly reforming Creed after only four years of appreciated and cherished silence. Vomit #5 — Add it all together, and Zeppelin is now inadvertently responsible for the reactivation of one of the worst and most overrated bands to seep

Still Wire(d)…

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Wire Object 47 Pink Flag Released: 7.15.08 Rating: 8.75 out of 10 Between Wire ’s Object 47 and Bauhaus ’ Go Away White , this year has seen some solid releases from the post-punk elite, standouts among imitators and validation among skeptics. As far as shaping the modern music soundscape, Wire is one of the most important bands of the present-day and probably the most thoroughly picked for ripe inspiration. With the seminally charged Pink Flag , Chairs Missing and 154 , all of which were released within the first three years of the band’s existence, Wire seems almost as ingrained into the current musical construct as The Beatles , though they get maybe a quarter of the recognition. Object 47 is the 47th piece of recorded output they’ve released over their thirty-one years since 1977’s Pink Flag and it exhibits a band still fully capable of bold minimalism. Now a trio, guitarist Bruce Gilbert sitting this one out, singer/guitarist Colin Newman , bassist Graham Lewis a