Friday, December 31, 2010

Simple Minds - Once Upon A Time (1985)


Seven years since casting off the docks as a sonic force of their own and within a heartbeat of time from 80's soundtrack incarnate The Breakfast Club (decent movie), Simple Minds exploded into the spotlight with Once Upon A Time in 1985, and took the world stage with some of their best material since the glamorous New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) three years prior.

The darkling synths from the early years have brightened considerably in light of newfound stardom, as evidenced by the kickin' title track. The production seems to have been made to accommodate the ensuing grooviness as well - otherwise, how would a brooding cut like 'Alive and Kicking' work as a single? Part of it is vocalist Jim Kerr - his yowling makes for a far more compelling study in deliverance than anything that tripe bands like U2 came up with in their "prime". It shuffles along with curious glances across the stadium platform, but never succumbs to unbecoming bombast, and that's a really curious quality in a record considering the circumstances behind the band which made it.

The mid 80's was a rather interesting time in pop music, and no band immortalized that muscular creativity better than Simple Minds, who melted down their influences and came up with something that holds up fine twenty something years past its providence. They may never be considered a lyrical pinnacle like The Smiths or a perfect snapshot of post-70's paranoia like the Talking Heads, but in everything else that matters you won't find a finer band.

Listen Here - "Sanctify Yourself"


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Unbearable Hand Fate Dealt - The Moth (2010)


Holy hamburger, look at that thing!

...and yeah, it's a top album, a lite-prog. metal 2010 underdog with a perchance for classic Smashing Pumpkins homage theatricalis and having strokes. In a good way.

In short, a rather fun and melodic reverie that's been sadly forgotten about in the wake of acts more abrasive metal acts such as Agalloch, Enslaved, Inquisition, etc.

Listen Here - "Coronation of the Moth"


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Ecophony Rinne (1986)


Tonight's main course is also another personal favorite. It consists of unsettling yet infinitely gorgeous music from the mysterious musical collective whom would later compose the soundtrack to cult anime classic Akira. Dark and cloying, this is possibly the most surreal instrumental-based album you'll ever run across...and no, I'm not joking. It gets under your skin after awhile...in more ways that one. From Farsidemusic.com-

"From 1986, Ecophony Rinne, (Reincarnated Orchestra) is a concept album in four movements based on the eternal cycles of birth, death and rebirth. This landmark recording saw the group fuse the traditional music of different cultures into a hi-tech wall of sound. Created by over 200 performers the music has a distincly East Asian flavour- Japanese shomyo type buddhist chants, Japanese drums, Balinese gamelan, Noh music, Tibetan percussion, together with synthesizers adding dynamic and dramatic effects."

Well, whatever. Let the darkness wash over you and ascend your soul to stranger planes.

Listen Here - "Dark Slumber"


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Monday, December 27, 2010

Duh Fuzz - Sincrano'city (Or However You Frickin' Pronounce It) (1983)


Pure 80's brilliance that I have disguised with a clever title in order to keep the Feds at bay! There will always be people who hate this album, but they're missing out on the good stuff in my opinion. The record also sports some rather excellent lyrics on top of the great music, including such imaginative excerpts as-

A connecting principle
Linked to the invisible
Almost imperceptible
Something inexpressible
Science insusceptible
Logic so inflexible
Causally connectable
Yet nothing is invincible-

There's a king on a throne with his eyes torn out
There's a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt
There's a rich man sleeping on a golden bed
There's a skeleton choking on a crust of bread
-

Another industrial ugly morning
The factory belches filth into the sky
He walks unhindered through the picket lines today
He doesn't think to wonder why
The secretaries pout and preen like cheap tarts on a red light street
But all he ever thinks to do is watch
And every single meeting with his so-called superior
Is a humiliating kick in the crotch
Many miles away,
Something crawls to the surface 
Of a dark Scottish lake...

Listen Here - "Synchronicity I"


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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Johnny Mathis - 16 Most Requested Songs (1986)


One of the most successful still-living jazzy singers from the Golden Age is actually from my home state of Texas, and these sixteen ditties are among the finest (and most haunting in some ways) that the man has ever performed. It is all, as the cliche goes, rather timeless stuff.

Long live Johnny Mathis, king of the black and white frontier.

Oh, and Merry Christmas to everyone. Keep warm!

Listen Here - "Wonderful! Wonderful!"


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Friday, December 24, 2010

Terence Trent D'Arby - Symphony Or Damn (1993)


Anyone who knows a bit about the less commercial side of popular music would probably have quite a bit to say about avant-garde soul-rocker T.T. D'Arby....some of it probably not so flattering. Like was batshit crazy for instance!

Nuts or not though, I'm part of that minority that generally considers the insane closest to divinity in terms of how they perceive reality, and in Terence's case my point is quite vilified indeed - the sheer lunacy that got his creative juices flowing here make this 1993 release one hell of a jawdropper even in 2010. Every song, hits and non-hits alike, are volatile little purities that make much of what came out that year sound dated, even lifeless, when you compare them to this song-laden monster.

Highlights for include the infinitely layered 'Castilian Blue', the drowned funk of 'Wet Your Lips', and classic dancefloor stompers such as 'Do You Love Me Like You Say?' and 'She Kissed Me', but what can I say when everything hums oh-so-harmoniously like a well-oiled diesel? D'Arby'ss voice is also something to be reckoned with - he brings an almost Caribbean swagger to territory occupied by more prominent soul powerhouses like Seal or Prince, but at the same time seems to have his own magic formula that gives each song a kick no matter how unhinged they become.

Fans of unsung classics, great experimental shit or dynamite funk/soul/pop music? Investigate!

Listen Here - "She Kissed Me"


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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mushroom - Joint Happening (2007)


Tonight's sacrificial lamb is modern day psychedelic jazz-fusion (featuring legendary saxman Eddie Gale!) with a sumptuous Norwegian proggy folk flavor broiling amidst the ardor. 'Peace' is a very John Coltrane number in style, but led intriguingly enough by a two-punch of Mellotron and sax instead of the usual assorted instruments, giving it a more antiquated, cyclopean edge than one might think. The subsequent tracks flow in their own particular grooves like thick paint running down a fresh canvas. Furthermore, Joint Happening when taken in as a whole possesses a spiralized, hypnotic hold on the mind -- looped percussion bleeds into a brilliant collage of jazzy vintage while retaining clarity of progression.

Mushroom are true transcendentalists in today's oft-jarring experimental underground - they don't forget that floating down the river is the best part of any passage, even when you aren't quite sure where the current will carry you to. And that, dear readers, makes all the difference between a instrumental album that sets your night on fire and those sad recordings whom fail to drag you inside their hallowed worlds.

On par with any of the classic jazz-fusion recordings of the 70's, including those of Miles Davis and Soft Machine, this shit is happenin' to a fuckin' T.

Listen Here - "Selling Oakland By The Pound"


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

However - Calling (1985/1995)


You wouldn't think a lot of good progressive rock would have come out in the United States in the 1980's, but if there's anything I know about music, its that there's an exception to every rule. In this case, a little-known bunch from Washington called However are the troublemakers at fault!

Blending jazzy Canterbury Scene-like quirkiness with things as disparate as New Wave and Pop, there's a certain magic to the sheer density of music contained within this hour plus LP, twenty tracks of varying strangeness, complexity and even beautiful accessibility when you might least expect it. Opener 'Orion' comes off as a punkish early Cocteau Twins number featuring liberal use of flute while another song such as 'Earthtime' will strike you as vintage Steve Roach with a twisted brimming in the darkness of distant drums and wailing sax. And when you have such brazenly well done stuff like that at ear, you will be struck at how fitting a record like Calling is for the mid 80's, yet at the same time a tantalizing product of great ideas which transcends the era of its birth.

This here is a recording of timeless, underrated wonder and wrought in excellence by occasionally disorienting contrast with each proceeding listen. I can't recommend it enough!

Listen Here - "Orion"


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Reign Of Kindo - Rhythm, Chord & Melody (2008)


One of the more interesting post-2000's indie bands to emerge from the woodwork, The Reign Of Kindo are something like a music connoisseur's daydream - "What if The Shins or early Keane had the chops of a 1970's jazz-rock colossus like The Mahavishnu Orchestra?"

Well, that musing dream became cold reality two years ago when these blokes formed, and they are not to be underestimated. Melodic vocal-based pop songs led by an undercurrent of extremely furious instrumental talent isn't anything new in the indie world (take your pick of any of today's more pop-oriented math rock outfits) but this ensemble has a strangely post-bop feel at times, like a Miles Davis experiment gone ridiculously commercial. On top of that, the fact they crafted 13 excellent tunes on such a distinctively jazzy approach to the usual heartbeat of a post-Interpol musical environment is rather compelling from my point of view. Hell, it may even be remembered as one of the best debuts of the second half of the Noughties.

In conclusion, those of you looking for some fresh yet contemporary...tune in.

Listen Here - "Morning Cloud"


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Monday, December 20, 2010

Bob Drake - What Day Is It? (1994)


A singer/songwriter of extraordinarily darksome talent and vision, Bob Drake has cut quite the illustrious career for himself since the 1980's and beyond. He's produced Tina Turner, designed B-Movie horror soundscapes for low budget films, and was one of the two primary founding members of legendary avant-rockers Thinking Plague. Hell of a resume, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

However, even if you've heard everything the man's been involved in, today's upload would still surprise you in ways you wouldn't imagine.

What Day Is It? is the self-produced, self-released debut solo album from Bob Drake, fourteen songs that melt down traditional folk, horrific vignettes, country & bluegrass rumblings and even the skyward progressive rock sound of bands like Yes into pure sonic compulsion. Weird, yet wonderful! Take a song like 'Spiders' for instance -- it starts off with a couple of steel guitar lines that make you wonder if you got lost in a square dance before Drake himself soars his voice into the stratosphere (as Jon Anderson would do on records like Fragile and Close to the Edge). It follows with a scrambling reprise of randomness but with some eerie backing vocals accentuating the reticent atmosphere.

In short, this is a one of a kind treasure from one of the most compelling and singular musicians on the planet. Whether you get your rocks off on the avant-garde, folk, country or even prog. rock, there is something here for anyone and everyone who loves music that doesn't conform to the expectations of a scene or fanbase.

Listen Here - "Rainy"


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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jun Senoue - Sonic Adventure 2 OST (2001)


Ah, what sweet nostalgia!

This is a condensed mixtape/personal compilation I've made of the best vocal and background tracks from the various Sonic Adventure 2 original soundtracks floating around out there. I've cut out all the grunge pop-rock shit for the most part, left in all the cool trip-hoppish soundscaping, and cherrypicked anything else I felt worked as a standalone song that could also flow with the others in relative harmony and/or contrast. I didn't expect things to turn out this kickass, but well...it did!

Anyway, tis a bit unorthodox I know, but I hope you guys can dig tonight's prize.

Listen Here - "Dive Into The Mellow"


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Friday, December 17, 2010

Cragataska - Utanc (2010)


Turkish black metal EP that has recently captivated me into forlorn hypnosis, clutching at my transfixed mind with its gurgling, detached hate and strange floating textures borne from flute, tambourine, and other such organic instrumentation. This is wonderfully evocative/intriguing stuff in a black metal context, and it makes me curious as to what a Cragataska full-blown LP might be like...

Anyway, if I were to have an EP of the year, this would probably be it. Kudos!

Listen Here - "Zehir Öğünleri"


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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Labyrinth - Return To Heaven Denied (1998)


Tonight's main course is Italian power metal of particularly high octane caliber, and something of a cult classic in comparison to releases by more prominent European groups such as Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, Helloween, etc.

There's a lot of good things to say about this record. Rob Tyrant is one hell of a vocalist, for instance. Or, for example, these guys know the value of contrasting blistering guitar scale acrobatics with tempered acoustics. And finally, the songs are just damn well written: 'Lady Lost In Time', with its piano and aquatic opening and fantastic developments, is a deliriously nice ballad, while pieces like the title track and 'The Night Of Dreams' are stone cold perfect, and are today looked back upon as classics in a genre sorely need of personality at times.

Atmosphere, grandeur, a classic sound, great songs - this album should be every metal fan's wet dream if he doesn't mind a fantastic abundance of melody.

Listen Here - "Heaven Denied"


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Little Dragon - S/T (2007)


Jazzy trip hoppin' courtesy of a hot Japanese-American vocalist and some fantastic songwriting/instrumental workouts...or just electronic neo-soul in layman's terms. I don't need paragraphs of blather to tell you why this is good and worth a download. Much like a fresh-baked cinnamon roll in the dim of a cold morning, it's desirability should be mere common sense.

Yeah, you want it already don'tcha? I can see it in your collective eyes, basking within the glows of your many, many monitors. Let dem beats be a'flowin' and the rest keep rowin!

Listen Here - "Fortune"


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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Strangeways - Walk In The Fire (1989)


In recording an equally sharp continuation from it's 1987 sibling Native Sons, Strangeways would unfortunately break up after recording this masterpiece due to the godawful marketing which led to predictably dismal sales at a time when nobody could figure out how to market good music to the sedated masses. Bloody shame too, as I think this album's success could have kept grunge underground another couple of years (a genre I'm a fan of in certain respects)...which wouldn't have necessarily been a bad thing depending on how you see it.

Basically, Walk In The Fire was the perfect end to the cheesiest, over-the-top decade of sonic indulgence in human history. It's also arguably the defining statement of ten whole years of "wimpy" metal, the genre's endgame pinnacle...and that's not praise to be taken lightly.

Check out the previous post, get this, and be happy that you have the two best hair-metal/AOR albums on the planet [remastered too!] in your collection.

Listen Here - "Every Time You Cry"


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Strangeways - Native Sons (1987)


Same Scottish/British band who recorded the previously uploaded/posted And The Horse, but from a previous decade. Along with being one of my favorite records of all time, this is unquestionably the best written, best recorded and overall most atmospheric and emotionally charged arena rock album of the 80's, equaled only by its magical follow-up Walk In The Fire from '89. Terry Brock, formally a backup singer for more popular bands and artists of the era, sounds so good here on his lead vocal debut it's almost criminal to think it could have been anyone else in the position.

But hey, you don't have to take my word for it. Google it and you'll find this album at the top of many an aficionado's 80's Melodic Rock list, mostly due to the hooks and songwriting that went into making such a monstrously catchy and involving pop-metal album. The sheer bravado of these songs makes the usually lauded recordings from the genre (Journey's Escape, Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet, Survivor's Vital Signs, etc.) sound shitty even to the ears of a person who would normally love those bands...and that's not an easy thing to do methinks.

Therefore, give this and it's followup album a shot to hear the best of what 80's melodic pop-metal has to offer!

Listen Here - "Where Do We Go From Here"


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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Julian Cope - Saint Julian (1987)


Musician, singer, writer, cultural anthropologist...is there anything post-punk dervish Julian Cope CAN'T do? And just look at that album cover! What a total fuckin' boss!

From AMG:

A switch to Island Records resulted in the best possible start -- not merely a generally fine album but a simply fantastic hit U.K. single, "World Shut Your Mouth." Nothing to do with the record of the same name but definitely possessing much of the same energy, it's a great slice of modern rock, with a crisp arrangement and punchy performance from Cope and his band. Skinner and Fried drummer Chris Whitten reappear, while bassist James Eller and keyboardist Double DeHarrison fill out the lineup. Kate St. John once again adds coranglais here and there, one of her best moments being the bright charge of the title track. Together they tackle a set of songs notably less insular than much of the Fried material, with full-on performances to match. One song shows that best of all -- "Shot Down," which originally appeared on Fried and here becomes a swaggering, pounding rocker with keyboards adding to the impact. More than ever before in his solo career, Cope sounds like he's performing songs meant to be heard live, as the charging "Trampoline" and "Spacehopper" show. There's an almost finger-snapping, swinging vibe to a number of the performances that recall Teardrop Explodes days without trying to simply re-create that sound -- he's not trying to revisit the past, there's no need. A few numbers sound a bit too cold and crisp to work entirely -- "Planet Ride" is arena soul/rock that sounds like something Robert Palmer would have done around the same time, lyrics aside. A couple of other moments like that crop up, but with the balance skewed more to joys like Cope's in-your-face vocal on "Pulsar" and the lengthy final track "A Crack in the Clouds," Saint Julian is another winner.

So yes, a great record from the mind of one of the few great post-punk visionaries still in the business as of 2010. Take it or leave it, kiddies.

Listen Here - "Planet Ride"


Saturday, December 11, 2010

John Martyn - And. (1996)


Of all the great artist that have emerged since the 1960's, few strike such a chord with me as John Martyn. Somewhere between a Frank Sinatra, Scott Walker, a spiritual guru, a bluesman and a damn fine guitarist, there's something comforting yet compelling in his disintively gravely, yet melodic vocal cords and occasionally occultic subject matter.

Tonight's upload is one of Martyn's rarer and more obscure releases, 1996's And. What's interesting about it is that it's both something of a transitional album in terms of evolving Martyn's sound towards trip-hop and more alternative elements whilst at the same time drawing back to his late 70's jazziness to flesh out some of the instrumentation. Gone for the most part are the 80's drum machines and pseudo-New Wave elements that stamped his last couple of albums, which might come as a relief to some.

The songs are all deliciously fantastic and downtempo, even ambient in a sense. Opening number 'Sunshine's Better' twinkles and sounds like an acid house blues number with a touch of Primal Scream. Which to some degree describes the sonic identity of the entire record: Martyn amalgamates everything from the soulful jazz of Terry Callier to acid jazz to groups like Portishead and Massive Attack without batting so much as an eyelash. Beyond this, layering the man's voice is the equivalent of taking a shot of ecstacy, and he's done that quite a bit here.

Quality stuff here overall, and desirable to those looking for an attractive entry point into the lush, esoteric universe of one of the best singer-songwriters of all time.

Listen Here - "Sunshine's Better"


Friday, December 10, 2010

Uyama Hiroto - A Son Of The Sun (2008)


A talented producer and multi-instrumentalist who is mostly known for his work with Nujabes, Uyama Hiroto's debut is atmosphere phantasmagoria, an ascending beat-laden staircase to near divine clarity in mind and soul. It's also my top album of 2008 by leaps and bounds.

I cannot begin to pay verbose homage to how crystalline these musical figments make me feel - it's almost too smooth to be believed. The sax on 'Climbed Mountain' will follow you to your sleep to a blinding gourishankar, whilst everything else could follow you to death, deep inside. And truth be told, I can't imagine what listening to this on the right substances might result in. Maybe I'd wake up and think I was in Paradise. Guess I'll have to add that to my Christmas list eh?

For river jazz zen embodied, I present thine tribute.

Listen Here - "Climbed Mountain"


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hound Dog Taylor - Natural Boogie (1973)


Hound Dog Taylor is a legendary bluesman to whom few compare, particularly on the particular of him having six fingers on each hand! With his band The Heartbreakers behind him on this seminal early 70's release, we get a rumbling pack of sonic vendettas that speak to older days and wilder nights in the wilderness of saloons, train stations and the savage, open country beyond it all.

The poor bastard died a long time ago, but this record is a grand occasion to meet him for yourselves. Do not deny his acquaintence!

Listen Here - "One More Time"


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Auktyon - Ptiza (1994)


One of the most marvelous little art rock gems to emerge in the mid 90's, Auktyon are a weird ensemble from Russia who cross Post-punk/New Wave ethnicities with strange, yet gorgeous jazz and Eastern European folk tangents. Or maybe it's polka-progcore with slicked back bangs and a pinstriped jumpsuit.

Whatever tag floats your boat though, these Ruskies have quite a bit of staying power on this 1994 release (translated as Bird here in the States and elsewhere) despite the relative inaccesibility of their material. Only one song reaches the 6 minute mark at least, which is a good thing for the ADD among your ranks! Be prepared for a straight up blast of rock instrumentation, Clash-y yet lounge-laden vocals, some wailing saxophone and a lot of traditional instruments (including a xylophone) to keep the jams movin'.

Hence, those looking for something fun, foreign and not too long will have the night of a lifetime with Auktyon!

Listen Here - "Дорога"


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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quidam - Alone Together (2007)

 
In the wake of bands like Marillion and IQ in the mid 80's, there has since arose a subgenre of progressive rock known as "neo. prog" which is characterized by a variety of things - 70's Genesis-like dramatics, lots and lots of keyboards, and an abundance of influence from more popular forms of music like pop and metal to name but a few.

Poland's Quidam, however, are a different beast entirely from most bands that fall under the neo prog. moniker. Flute, bass, beautifully melodic guitar and a rather busy drumkit are but a few of the things at play here which make for a very lively sound, an approach that honed to perfection on their final and perhaps most accomplished studio album, 2007's Alone Together. The lead vocalist has a pleasant, oceanic timbre that ebbs and flows, floating somewhere between Peter Gabriel, Sting and Scott Walker in range whilst still retaining a certain unique compatibility with both the quieter and louder tempos throughout.

Fans of bands like Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Pink Floyd or some of the more electronically influenced prog. bands out there such as Brother Ape will feel quite at home with this bunch, and people curious about how accomplished modern prog. can be shan't be disappointed either.

Listen Here - "Kinds Of Solitude At Night"


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chris Rainbow - Home Of The Brave (1975)


One of my favorite 70's albums of all time, Home Of The Brave was a masterful collection of progressive pop songs from Chris Rainbow, a rather eclectic singer/songwriter who would later go on to relative prominence in his career as one of the several most-heard vocalists for The Alan Parsons Project.

Solo-led records with material this catchy yet varied are a near extinct species as of 2010, but Rainbow cut some fine tunes back as a young man. It certainly helps that he sounds of a helluva lot like Brian Wilson when he opens his mouth to the mic, except with a greater perchance for atmosphere at times than his more famous counterpart. Still, The Beach Boys have most definitely been a rather strong influence on this record, with particular kudos to the piano-drenched 'On My Way' and the soft-funk surf vaudevillian swagger of 'Mr. Man'. My favorite song however, is the record's emotionally stark yet lamenting 6-minute 'Glasgow Boy', which open with a rainstorm and subsequently plays out like a long-lost Beatles gem..or perhaps a reallllly good Scott Walker B-side. Quiet, yet magnificent all the same.

Enthusiasts of obscure classics, atmospheric psychedelic pop and Walls of Sound, I dedicate this post to all of you.

Listen Here - "Tarzana Reseda"


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Deacon Blue - Raintown (1987)


One of the more involving concept albums I've laid ears across in recent times, Raintown was the mega successful debut of atmospheric Scottish pop-rock ensemble Deacon Blue, led by vocalist/guitarist Ricky Ross and co-singer Lorraine McIntosh.

And boy is this one hell of a debut. Musically I've found myself reminded while listening to these guys of something like a cross between the best aspects of The Blue Nile and post-punkers The Chameleons, with shimmery Johnny Marr-esque guitar soundscapes breathing like a loud wind blowing parallel to the tide of watery keyboards. And, of course, the rough voice of Ross is contrasted against all this slickery by leading and subsequently being led through refrains courtesy of McIntosh's vocalizing.

The songs themselves are Springsteenian minatures through and through, tours that weave amidst the melancholy and occasionally heartbreaking lives of those who live in the decaying, urban sprawl of Glasgow, Scotland. 'Chocolate Girl' stands out immediately due to its punkish, steel guitar countryisms, while 'Ragman' and compositions like the title track are gorgeous slices of late 80's key-driven pop with a bit of lyrical bite to boot.

If any of these numbers or previously described features sound even the slightest bit delectable, I would suggest digging in pronto. Hare today, gone tomorrow, as the nursery rhyme tends to go...

Listen Here - "Raintown"


Friday, December 3, 2010

Thin Lizzy - Black Rose: A Rock Legend (1979)


I'm not gonna lie bros...Thin Lizzy are probably the coolest and most underrated rock band on the planet next to Wishbone Ash, and this late 70's classic is a grand springboard into their rather sweet discography.

The magic is a combination between the soulful yet powerful delivery of Phil Lynott and the legendary guitar work of bluesman Gary Moore, but even the greatest musicians can fall flat on their faces unless the songs kick ass. Black Rose, thankfully, delivers on all counts - from the funky bassline and harmony guitar of 'Waiting For An Alibi' to the plodding snarl of the suite-esque 'Roisin Dubh', everything snaps together with collective finesse as though it were meant to be. What more could ya want?

Go hard tonight with Thin Lizzy or be square, bitches. They sound even better on meth!

Listen Here - "Waiting For An Alibi"


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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nitro - O.F.R. (1989)


An album so ridiculously full of itself that you almost want to be it, Nitro's debut 1989 extravaganza O.F.R., an apt acronym for Out. Fucking. Rageous,, is probably the best party metal album of the 80's despite it's perchance for vocals so high and over-the-top nuts that even somebody like King Diamond might as well be Tom Waits.

This record is hair metal that's been fired up to the fucking max, nuff said, from the guitars to the percussion to the songs themselves. The drums chatter toward Mach 5 at the best of moments and keep time like a sundial even at its rare sedated segueing, shining especially on the speed metal pieces like the title track and 'Bring It Down'. And in all honestly, I can't think of any other hair metal album that even comes close to touching the intensity of most of this record's material. For this, I blame the incredulously talented Jim Gillette - his pipes are beyond peer and dimension when it comes to cheese & crackers.

Listen and judge for yourselves though. Persoanlly, I think fans of that good ol' 80's heavy metal (NWOBHM, etc.) and over the top insanity will think they've hit the motherload tonight!

Listen Here - "Bring It Down"


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kruger Brothers - Between The Notes (2009)


Want to hear a virtuoso guitar player, bassist and banjo master have beautiful duels around a campfire somewhere near the Catskill Mountains? What if the trio could sing really well on top of that? Done and done!

For that wandering Americana bard in all of us, the Kruger Brothers are here to serve. Seeing them in concert back in September was a hell of a treat too!

Listen Here - "When I'm Dead My Dearest"


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Patrick O'Hearn - Indigo (1991)


Another night, another tasty morsel for The Widening Eye. Frank Zappa bassist-turned-Ambient/New Age composer Patrick O' Hearn has produced an extensive and rather intriguing discography since the mid 80's, bridging Steve Roach-esque soundscaping to classical minimalistic ideas and early jungle-esque arrangements whilst continuing to evolve with the times. Kind of like a one man Tangerine Dream with a bit of cold vodka somewhere in the mix.

Serving as something of a median within the man's vast body of work, 1991's Indigo is also Patrick's most accomplished masterpiece and also functions as a transitional product between two distinct decades of output. The keyboard sounds are less Harold Budd and more modernly varied, spiced up in various places by more organic instrumentation such as trumpets ['Upon the Wings of Night'], saxophones, guitars and piano ['The Ringmaster's Dream'].

If you want to experience a waking dream in vivid detail, I don't think you'll find a better album than this one. These songs are so gorgeous that you wonder if Patrick O' Hearn isn't human at all, but some netherborne musician who has emerged out of time to bring enlightenment to the lower planes. Because seriously, one's soul might evaporate like morning mist through the confines of their flesh with bliss like this on repeat.

Listen Here - "Coba"


Monday, November 29, 2010

Darling Cruel - Passion Crimes (1989)


Yet another strange album from a very strange guy. Once upon a time in the 80's, there was a young gun named Gregory Darling whose musical talent fell into the hands of one Vicki Hamilton, the legendary lass who managed & signed both Poison and Guns N' Roses to annoying stardom at the height of the hair metal epoch. Unfortunately, despite recording 1989's avant-gardish Passion Crimes and hitting it big with MTV while under her wing, Darling was dropped from his label and has since then basically vanished to the point that even the underground people don't know where he is. He joined some punk band for awhile in the 90's, but after that? Who the fuck knows.

At the very least, however, we do have this sole album that The Man Who Never Was released, and it is indeed quite a whopper. Equal parts The Cure, The Church, Peter Hamill and pompish 80's arena rock, this is one of those weird yet wonderfully distinctive recordings that doesn't really sound like it fits into any particular genre despite its melodious and often quite inventive rock-based set. Flutes, sax and carnival instruments seem to pop up just as often as a heavy metal guitar solo, and every song sounds like a myriad of ideas and nuances to serve as colorful vehicles for the torment behind these lyrics. Darling's voice is raspy, viscous and somehow extremely fragile despite its range, and doesn't sound quite like anyone else. As for some of these songs...since when did Middle Eastern jazz-fusion bands cover The Cars? ['Weight On My Shoulders']. And why are the Cocteau Twins writing songs for Motley Crue?  ['Love Child']. BLARGH!!!!!

So yep, this is one amazing fuckin' record. Makes me wonder what Darling would have done next if he hadn't gotten the boot. We can only wonder...

Listen Here - "Weight On My Shoulders"


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Barry White - Put Me In Your Mix (1991)


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Barry White (when he was alive) probably got more pussy in a single day than your entire family line got in an entire lifetime of roofies and shitty pick-up lines. I mean, just look at that smug face of his on the cover this fantastic, underrated little 1991 release Put Me In Your Mix - if the girls weren't prostating to a glimpse of those pearly whites, they'd do it when his voice comes out of their bedroom speakers. Or maybe it's the purple robe....? *shrug*

Barry White is prime examplage of an artist who really never required experimentation or innovation to kick the ass out of most of his competition -- all the motherfucker needed was a nice beat, some orchestral samples and the willpower to talk into a microphone for 6 minutes and he'd go Platinum faster than you could say "Sex On Legs". Fuckin' lucky bastard...I want that talent!

Anyway, tonight's offering is special as any of the Sultan of Soul's classic 70's material. The smooth yet sensual elements that made White a Soul god from the late 60's through the 80's are still alive and kicking, but now tempered in places by reggae ['Volare] and some New Jack Swing elements ['Sho' You Right', 'For Real Chill'] to edge his established formula into more interesting territory for a new generation of potential listeners, which works out to a T in most cases. But hell, when he can still write and perform a jam as moving as 'Love Will Find Us' with this kind of ease, who cares about the details? White's voice is like hearing the stars being bitch-slapped across the endless night so the cosmic waves can flow a little cleaner through your mind.

Self-evident and damned powerful in the ability to set a mood long after his death, you can't go wrong with an album from Barry White, and Put Me In Your Mix is certainly one of the best.

Listen Here - "For Real Chill"


Friday, November 26, 2010

Universal Totem Orchestra - The Magus (2008)


Universal Totem Orchestra are a rare breed indeed - Italian, yet Zeuhl. Much like bands such as Magma or Univers Zero, this band plays avant-rock with touched by opera, jazz and dozens of other fascinating sonic flagellates to flesh out divine excursions and choral coalitions. What distinguishes this bunch even more than the genre they choose to indulge in, however, is a very strong grasp of melody and romance within their performances compared to the freakish and generally angular atonal tendencies of other Zeuhl bands. The vocals and use of sax, for example, is definitely different from most of their competition. The result? A unique, yet transcendental 6-track listening experience. Especially for those of you who have a jazz fan buried deep inside your flab.

Sorry about the lack of postage on Turkey day by the way -- I was probably coma'd due to massive quantities of delicious munchies.

Listen Here - "Les Plantes Magique"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Rippingtons - Curves Ahead (1991)


You know that good schmaltz you sometimes catch in the wee hours of the morning when you flip on The Weather Channel to check for tornadoes? Interim sonic interludes between forecasts packed with slick 80's guitar, gellin' keyboard textures, funky bass, etc? Today's sacrifice to the blog altar is such a record of chilled out muzak, and one of my favorite albums of all time when all is said and done.

The Rippingtons were (and stilla re) the undisputed despots of smooth jazz from the late 80's onward and specialize in that sort of laid-back sound that nobody seems to quite nail but them. And moreover, Curves Ahead is their 1991 masterpiece that leaves 99.9% of the rest of the smooth jazz wasteland in the dust. It's atmospheric beyond belief and can deflate you faster than a muscle relaxant up the jugular, which makes it ideal for those days where the clouds, coffee and a morning drive seem more fulfilling than whatever your friends are bitching about on Facebook or Twitter.

I know the concept of truly awesome smooth jazz is hard for some of you to swallow, but give it a chance will ya? Open your minds!

Listen Here - "Curves Ahead"


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Monday, November 22, 2010

Simon Finn - Pass The Distance (1970)


An obscure English bard of trippy renown for the recording of this 1970 opus, Simon Finn spins claustrophobic yarns of places out of time ['The Courtyard', 'Jerusalem'] in passionate mad-prophet swagger to the thrum of an acoustic guitar, a sitar, skittering percussion and more to an assortment of beautiful, distorted compositions. His singing is haunted like the distant desert and atonal like a faceless wind, and I don't want to be where he might be. I doubt it's a happy place.

This is truly fine music for drifting in the dark, unsure of where you'll be tomorrow. Maybe it won't even be on Earth. Hell, you may not even be alive. You never really know...do you?

Listen Here - "Fades (Pass The Distance)"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Old - Formula (1995)


Probably the weirdest Industrial album ever made. Old (Old Lady Drivers) were originally a grindcore band started by James Plotkin, who would later come to fame from his work with doom metal band Khanate. However, by the time they got to this 1995 final album, the group's sound had evolved into something like a cross between mid 80's Cure and a Nine Inch Nails cover band with fantasies about being some kind of shoegazey acid house ensemble. Or maybe they just really like Devin Townsend. Zounds!

Personally, I reserve my love for that seemingly LSD-fueled insanity that went into these tracks. 'Last Look' is 10 minute of House-influenced-reverb-drenched melancholy that grows more and more out of sync as the seconds wind down to delicious oblivion, while 'Under Glass' is Cocteau Twins gone techno in your daddy's pool hall. I find the production quite attractive too: its very layered, not unlike the work of Babyface with his various New Jack Swing collaborations or John Punter with Strangeways back in the late 80's.

Looking for something weird, slick, dreamy and grindcored to take your mind off the bad part of your day? Old are just what the doctor ordered.

Listen Here - "Rid"


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

FictionJunction - Future Soundscape II (2005)


The second soundtrack to CLAMP's Tsuabasa Chronicle anime series, and yet another interesting case where the music is more compelling than the material it was originally attached to.

The eighteen tracks here alternate between longer and shorter tracks, playing around prominently with a balanced mix of classical instrumentation and electronic, rock and jazz. Opening piece 'Voices Silently Sing' is a particularly nice example of the the latter two, swiveling a saxophone between a distant sounding guitar screech and choral mantras. The stylistic range of things here is rather impressive though, and is the soundtrack's strongest trait: 'Storm and Fire' comes off like a gypsy folk rocker while 'Endlessly' walzes by with prominent flute and operatics aboard the violin brigand.

It's nice to know that Japanese composers aren't afraid to get their feet wet when it comes to mixing up genres and ideas for film and series soundtracks. We could learn from that a bit here in the West I think, especially when there are albums like this floating around over there!

Listen Here - "Voices Silently Sing"


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