Sunday, October 31, 2010

Prince - Love Symbol Album (1992)

Pretentious as the artist-formally-known-as-Prince may be, this was one hell of a kickoff record from his Warner Bros. days and easily on par with some of his best 80's material once given a bit of time to sink in. Reggae, funk, pop, soul, and whatever other genres tags you see attached here is what you get people, so 13EE PW33P41R3D.

I mean, seriously now, it's fucking Prince, what more can I say? Get this and everything else he did prior to 1992 and save yourself the humiliation later.

Listen Here - "And God Created Woman" 

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grand Magus - Iron Will (2008)

Grand Magus are yet another fantastic modern group carrying on the excellent tradition set by Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and countless others in delivering album after album of skullcrackin', blood pumping old school metal. All the more strange then that Grand Magus's release this year, Hammer of the North, is only freakin #77 for 2010 so far on RYM. What a travesty! It's easily top ten material...

Anyway, the nine tracks on this 2008 bumpuncher should be more than enough to get you into dragon slayer mode in a relatively heavy-yet-non-cheesy-manner. Every song's a highlight, with some even reaching anthem status on the strength of the riffs alone ['The Shadow Knows', 'Iron Will'].

Sometimes you wake up and you want something metallic but without the breackneck drumming and endless guitar and vocal pyrotechnicality. Old school, but fresh. In that regard, Grand Magus are ready to serve...and serve they do in spades!

Listen Here - "Like The Oar Strikes The Water"

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kyoto Jazz Massive - Spirit of the Sun (2002)

Here's a late night treat for you bozos, and a personal favorite on top of that. Japanese nu-jazz outfit Kyoto Jazz Massive are my morning coffee and my evening aphrodisiac, a conglomerate of fantastic ideas and atmosphere dreamily molded to execution that couldn't be more dynamic. Think of the grandeur of a modern Return To Forever armed to the teeth with sultry crooners that wouldn't be out place in a 70's soul group. Couple that with some slick electronic elements tuned just right for a ride down club avenue, then mix it up like a cocktail over easy. The result? This album will pop right out of the bottle. guaranfuckingteed. It's that smooth, that classy, and each song hits you harder the previous number.

And speaking of numbers, one such highlight can be listened to right below, killer bassline extraordinaire 'Deep In Your Mind', where my man Terry Callier lets his voice connect you to the beat beyond. Shalom!

Listen Here - "Deep In Your Mind"

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Association - Insight Out (1967)

Forget The Beatles, The Zombies or The Kinks: these fuckers are where it's at. Oh, and Windy is the best damn song of all time-

Who's peekin' out from under a stairway
Calling a name that's lighter than air
Who's bending down to give me a rainbow
Everyone knows it's Windy

Who's tripping down the streets of the city
Smilin' at everybody she sees
Who's reachin' out to capture a moment
Everyone knows it's Windy

And Windy has stor-my eyes
That flash at the sound of lies
And Windy has wings to fly
Above the clouds (above the clouds)
Above the clouds (above the clouds)

[Insert Asskick Flute solo]

So yeah, this is a stone cold classic of the late 60's through and through. Even Satan thinks so! Get the bitch sunny-side up on your queue immediamente.

Listen Here - "Happiness Is"

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Forest of Stars - Opportunistic Thieves of Spring (2010)

One of the few decent black metal bands to hail from the U.K. in recent years, A Forest of Stars have slovenly yet diligently garnered a rather studious cult following since the release of their debut album The Corpse of Rebirth back in 2008, which received a variety of mixed reviews subsequently. It showed potential, but lacked character.

The band promised fans and detractors alike afterward that the next album would push the envelope and make them a household name. Cut to two years later and we have  Opportunistic Thieves of Spring...and whaddaya know, nearly every expectation one might have was reached with ingenuity to spare. Bravo!

Stylistically, even those not accustomed to black metal will be able to tell right off the bat that this ensemble has an honest and distinct sonic self awareness: beyond the screaming of main male vocalist Mr. Curse and the atypical percussive onslaught you can hear some heavenly female vocals (courtesy of flautist and violinist Kati Stone from My Dying Bride), some drone and folk elements that seem more at home on a Boris record, and the sporadic ambient flourish that gives credence to their 'Psychedelic Black Metal' tag.

Although the elements mesh well on the whole, the longer tracks tend to let those special non-metallic elements shine in loneliness [the opening ambient section to the 16-minute 'Delay's Progression'] and elsewhere we see things stripped down and made delightfully primitive without a hint of lushness or hate ['Raven's Eye View', especially near the middle]. Listen to those blast-beats go head to head with a fuckin' flute and tell me that doesn't make you shit bricks!

Opportunistic Thieves of Spring showcases how 2010 has been a damn fine year for black metal and otherwise thusfar, and you song-starved scavengers should revel in these remains with fleet ferocity and a desire to derive it's blackened bliss.

Listen Here - "Thunder's Cannonade"

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Jethro Tull - The Broadsword And The Beast (1982)

Jethro Tull made the late 60's and 70's explode with folk and prog. and all sorts of expeditious bewilderment on behalf of music fans everywhere, and most of you snobs probably have such classics as prog-parody Thick As A Brick, art-rockin' Aqualung and mayhap even the primordial Songs From The Wood.

I doubt any of you casual collectors have this under the belt however. After all, most prog. outfits don't have very good reputations after 1979. Everyone tried to jump aboard the New Wave cruise ship upon it's departure and most only found the open arms of the sea embracing them. 1982's The Broadsword And The Beast, however, represents those slim pickings of groups who not only made the deck, but excelled upon arrival. Ian Anderson's wily fluteage and exotic instrumentation-meets-hard rock is still the order of the day, but the synths of the era have certainly burrowed deep into these arrangements and birthed something that under normal circumstances wouldn't exist: Progressive Synth-Folk!

This special edition remaster features 18 tracks in total, and the standouts are numerous within the whole of 'em, especially on tracks where the 80's elements and Tull's classic sound clash headlong ['Beastie', 'Rhythm In Gold', ''Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow', and so many others]. It's like a bunch of robots sitting by a campfire somewhere in the depths of a Mideastern wood and smoking spark cigars by the light of the stars!

For those of you who dismissed post-70's Tull as washed-out stains from an era long bygone, this record will go an equally long way towards changing your mind, if not lighting your fires to explore even further to see where the true difference lies in reputation and actual execution. Consume this with pleasure, ladies and gents!

Listen Here - "Clasp"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SLik d - Midnight Vibes (2010)

Sorry to say, but there's not much background for tonight's upload guys, as SLik d is just a regular old joe like you and me...for better and for worse. The main points of interest for this curious is that he lives in California and is part of the rising "New Coast" sound in hip-hop, and it could be awesome given some time to develop as a scene.

Or should I say it might be awesome, yet it sounds stupid too. "New Coast? WTF?" some of you might be thinking. I'm honestly thinking the same thing. Questionable labeling aside, this is some tight shit that has more in common with Nujabes and some of the more off-duh-heezy rap entrepeneurs like CunninLynguists than, say, Lil' Wayne or Eminem. Not that I hate those latter two blokes, but yeah....

Anyway, Midnight Vibes is full of surprisingly sharp ideas and killer atmosphere. Do I like sharp ideas? Hell yeah. And do I love good atmosphere? You bet your grandma's virginity I do! Hence, what we have here is quite entertaining indeed. Amateur and a bit rough in places, yet slick and contemporary in a way that serves both the musical connoisseur and your dumbcunt friends who think Lady GaGa is the epitome of art. Hell, track numero tres 'SupaNova' is opened up with flute samples for Chrissakes, and if that's not a good sign I wouldn't know what is! 

No track-by-track breakdowns though: music of this sort needs to be experienced directly. Lyrically there's nothing special either unless you consider sex to be the penultimate expression of songwriting...or maybe drugs. 

Desiring a pretty good flow with plenty of jazzy samples and a relaxed West Coast vibe predominating your nightly airwaves? Are you tired of having to listen to hip-hop alone in your bedroom every night because its too "socially conscious" for your buddies? Perhaps this shall ease your troubled worries for a fortnight or so. Happy hopping everyone!

Listen Here - "In The Sky"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

George Duke - A Brazilian Love Affair (1979)

A keyboardist and occasional vocalist who made his name throughout the 60's and 70's working with such figures as Frank Zappa and Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke has quite a bit of fantastic solo material from that same time frame; he continued to record new music onwards into the 80's and even into 2010. Within the early part of his discography many highlights emerge, but you'll be hard pressed to find an album that does quite-so-many things right in it as 1979's A Brazilian Love Affair.

Brazen and joyful even in it's quieter moments, the title is indeed suggestive of what you'll find within: breezy, soulful jazzyiness set at a variety of tempos and animated into being through an assortment of interesting compositional ideas, with a particular emphasis on the contrast of traditional acoustic instrumentation played against Duke lighter-than-air keyboard arrangements and whatever other elements he wants to play with.

But, again, this is not a jazz album in the uniform sense. George's soulful delivery, as well as some of the impressive voices of the other singers on this punchy little recording, tie into things prominently on key tracks [the gorgeous 'Summer Breezin' and opening masterstroke of a title piece] and bring timbre and texture to these pleasant proceedings so that they never become too aimless or lightweight. The Brazilian samba elements may throw off those of you who prefer more traditional jazz-fusion, but without them this wouldn't be nearly as fun an album otherwise. 

Summer is past us and we're heading into darker times, but George Duke doesn't give a fuck: he'll lighten your mind and slaughter your stress before you even hear it coming. Enjoy!

Listen Here - "Brazilian Love Affair"

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Nitro+ - Saya no Uta OST (2003)

Another creepy offering in keeping with this month's theme (whenever I feel like it anyway), this album's companion game Saya no Uta was a Visual Novel released for the PC in Japan in 2003 by Nitroplus, a company who are known for incorporating surreal atmospheres and Lovecraftian influences into their dating sims. The story follows a young medical student named Fuminori whose mind & senses becomes permanently warped after going through experimental surgery in the aftermath of a car accident that killed his parents and left him in a near-death coma. Upon waking up in the hospital at some point later though, Fuminori finds that the world is a Hell of flesh and refuse; ordinary people appear as monsters to him, the sky is twisted, and even ordinary food now appears, smells and tastes terrible and stomach-churning beyond imagination.

Everything in the world has become a nightmare to Fuminori's mind, which would normally drive anyone to suicide. One thing, however, keeps him sane and functioning: a seemingly innocent young girl named Saya who appears before him in his hospital room one night and asks to help her find her father. Entranced by her beauty and purity in contrast to the world that he sees, he quickly agrees. But of course, something is very wrong here: we are seeing this girl through the distorted eyes of Fuminori after all...

Intriguing Lovecraft-esque story aside, the soundtrack is quite special in and of itself too, reminiscent of some of Buckethead's side projects, but with a more eclectic yet straightforward composer's hand at play. Throughout it's fifteen tracks we cover a helluva lot of ground despite initial expectations: cloying stretches of ambience that invoke dread and calm alike ['Song of Saya I' and II, 'Sabbath'], Industrial tinged Alt-rockscapes that evoke this maddened setting with a certain manic clarity ['Schizophrenia', 'Savage'] electronic movements en-masse [Spooky Scape, Sunset] and even a bit of J-Pop to seal the deal [Shoes of Glass].

I dunno about the rest of you, but it is actually rarer than you'd think to find a memorable soundtrack that creeps one out in the cerebral sense, beyond the usual antics of putting your nerves on edge or flooding your speakers with dissonance. I revel in these oddened soundscapes, keeping an ear out for the occasional bright figment that rises from the dark before vanishing back into the night for the mirage that it is. It keeps me mindful of what lies beyond.

A toast, then, to those phlegm sputtered horrors in their eldritch chambers, to the rising of the new order (or lack thereof) and to great creepy-as-fuck music to make it Halloween at the click of the mouse. *Drink*

Listen Here - "Sunset"

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wally - That Was Then (2009)

Yep, you read those tags right. Progressive Rock and Country. IT MUST BE THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD!!

Well, not really. Wally were an ambitious sonic coalition of odd chaps from Yorkshire who came to brief prominence in 1973 when they placed 2nd in a contest hosted by music newspaper Melody Maker to weed out potentially innovative new bands for the various U.K. labels to rally behind. Despite the silver medal however, they caught the interest of a judge and managed cut a deal with Atlantic Records. Their self-titled debut was issued in 1974, with keyboard wankmeister of Yes-fame Rick Wakeman at the production reins. The band would produce another record the following year and tour with Wankman's parent band, but disbanded by '76 due to lack of sales and being dropped from Atlantic's lineup...

I won't get into the rest of their history because it's boring as balls, so on with the review: That Was Then is a 2009 remastered compilation of Wally's two 70's records, a Best-Of in a sense...except no tracks are left out. What makes the deal even sweeter is that the band themselves remastered and compiled this stuff, not Atlantic Records. Hooray for independent releases!

Anyway, what we have here is a treasure chest stuffed with some fine-ass tuneage with a rare crossover appeal. For those of you that love that old time country feel with a Baroque twist, the shorter pieces here will be a true treat indeed ['Nez Perce', 'Sunday Walking Lady', 'I Just Wanna Be A Cowboy'] while fans of Yes and Pink Floyd will be savoring the depth & complexity of the passionate 10+ minute epics that occupy opposite sides of the record ['The Reason Why', 'To The Urban Man'].

Instrumentally, there's a lot of mandolin, guitar and some totally boss technical choppin' in all the sweet spots throughout many of these songs, but its the attention-grabbing vocal harmonies that serve as this compilation's strongest point. Lead singer and steel guitarist Roy Webber is quite the romanticist; he comes across as a huskier Jon Anderson in range, yet at the same time is armed with that rare quality of invoking a vague morbidity when you least expect it (a gift that famous desperadoes like Johnny Cash or Townes Van Zandt had in spades) despite the heights his drawl can climb on occasion, and these compositions are all the more compelling with his presence at their helm.

To those who believe a prog. country album cannot be done, give the novelty of That Was Then a click & a whirl. Who knows, maybe you blighters will fall in love with these guys as much I have over the last year!

Listen Here - "I Just Wanna Be A Cowboy"

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aspid - Extravasation (1992)

Well, after last night's wimpy commercial offering, I redeem thine ears with some godless, blood curdling thrash metal courtesy of the magical land of molotov cocktails, human trafficking and Baba Yaga...AKA Russia.

Originally released in 1992 (not too long after a certain regime came tumblin' down with a certain Wall over in Germany), this fantastic bundle of rage and hatred that nobody seems to really know anything about got somehow lost in the woodwork for the next fifteen years until some label decided to reissue it on CD in 2007. And they say there is no justice in the world...hah!

Eight tracks through to the end and you'll probably have no fucking clue what they're screaming about [it IS in Russian after all] but who cares, it's magnificent to the nth degree! Blistering drums, spastic riffs fired one after another that wouldn't be too out of place on some progressive death metal album and a torch-that-grain production that makes the whole damn carcass shamble about in that way that only the best piss-stained metal records seem to do, and it is all so very glorious.

Pillage these Ruskie rascals and rinse your ears in the beautiful slime. They'll thank you later after the bleeding stops!

Listen Here - "Hey, You!"

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kenny Loggins - Leap Of Faith (1991)

Musicians come in vintages aplenty: some are great from the moment of fermentation, while others are more like wine: they may take years or even decades to reach acceptable fruition.

One such maligned popular music figure named Kenny Loggins is most certainly a wine long-in-coming. Primarily known for his extremely cringeworthy output in the 70's as part of oldies-station favorite Loggins and Messina and subsequently in the early 80's as a singer-songwriter paragon of all which was ghastly about middle-of-the-road pop of the era. Remember any of the cheesepot music from Footloose and Top Gun? Yeah, that fucker.

How strange, then, that from his soulful synth-pop 1985 release Vox Humana and onwards, Loggins actually started writing some fairly listenable music. Less cheese, better hooks, more atmosphere, stronger arrangements, the whole shebang, and it was such a surprisingly trend of maturation that eventually culminated in a beautiful, moody and even experimental little record in 1991 called Leap Of Faith.

In all honesty, I would have never initially thought material this strong would come from a musician with Loggins's history. The overall vibe is as if Talk Talk circa Spirit of Eden decided to go all Top of the Pops, had Sting write all the songs, and then at the end of the day got Kenny behind the mike to throw the audience a fishing line so that they don't go tumbling into the abyss. Some fine musical wallpaper indeed!

Anyway, make no mistake dear readers: if you hate pop music, you WILL hate the majority of the songs present here, and some of Loggins' cheesiness does rear up in selective moments, such as the syrupy 'Conviction Of The Heart', whose hook wouldn't be out of place on Michael Jackson's cutting room floor back in 1987. The real merit, however, becomes apparent when you realize that Loggins's voice is quite pleasing when it gets behind a solid groove. Like George Michael except 100x more ballsy and sexy. Hell, I'll go as far to say that his voice alone gives many of the album's songs a sultry edge that might not exist at all under a weaker singer's lead. It's also rather interesting to note that many of these songs are over 6 minutes despite the adult-contemporary feel of the hooks and structures. Makes you wonder what kind of audience he was really aiming for!

So overall, Leap Of Faith isn't the sort of schmaltz that you lot would dig under normal circumstances, but perhaps Loggins and his languid pipes will grow on some of you like moss. Nothin' wrong with a bit-o guilty pleasure rite?

Bottom Line: This shit will get you laid, 110% guaranteed.

Listen Here - "Leap Of Faith"

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Seals & Crofts - Summer Breeze (1972)

The title track gets played to all-fucking-ends on FM radio, but goddamn it if this isn't one of the most beautiful, timeless records in all of folk canon. ESPECIALLY if you have a soft spot for post-60's nostalgia, yearning for that fantastic era where your roommate was far more likely to be smoking lots of lushful, mind-expanding blunts for a rise instead of shooting shit up his nutsack with needles of dubious origin.

I'm not going to bore you with flowery descriptions of the tracks at hand, as it would be a disservice to the talents of Jim Seals and Dash Crofts. In brief however, if songs like 'Hummingbird' [possibly the most poignant sendoff to the Summer of Love as there ever was] or the otherworldly 'East of Ginger Trees' don't choke you up even just the tiniest bit, then you are without a heart. WITHOUT A HEART DAMN IT!!1

Summer breezes will make you feel fine, but to this shit you will certainly and completely unwind, and it is unanimously considered to be this dynamic Texan duo's best album for a damn good reason. Shalom.

Listen Here - "Hummingbird"

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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Great Tyrant - There Is A Man In The House (2008/2010?)

Now HERE be a real one-of-a-kind bonefied musical goldmine for you asshats, and one that happens to be local to the city I grew up around! The Great Tyrant were an experimental and ridiculously amazing guitarless trio from Ft. Worth, TX, made up of vocalist Darron Beck, drummer Jon Teague and the recently deceased bass virtuoso Tommy Atkins, whom all together specialized in brilliantly blowing the minds of anyone who walked into the bar they happened to be jamming at with their phenomenal synthesis of Zeuhl, Scott Walker theatrics, doom metal mania and a healthy dose of meat-tearing synth-punk atmosphere to complete the picture.

This is a six track, 39 minute monstrosity of an odyssey where you are faced with surreal onslaughts of audio that could one day change the world. As the blogger who got his lucky, grubby paws on it originally pointed out, this music has no true sonic peer. There are influences, passing recollections of bands we might have heard in the past, but nothing more than that: The Great Tyrant is an entity in and of itself.

Get lost in this masterpiece and sacrifice a cow to the cosmos for giving this band the means to record. Mother Earth is a better, darker place for it. R.I.P. Mr. Atkins!

Listen Here - "There Is A Man In The House"

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Swing Out Sister - Filth and Dreams (1999)

In the mid 80's when it was cool to be white, jazzy and "sophisticated", Swing Out Sister made a big splash in the realm of Simply Red, Level 42 and Sade-saturated radio with a punchy little ditty called 'Breakout' from their 1987 debut It's Better To Travel. Although many might contest my opinion about 80's pop, I believe it was a golden era for radio in its own way...mostly thanks to bands like this one!

Proving to be something of a "thinking man's" Everything But The Girl, Swing Out Sister demonstrated early on that they possessed sound & image all their own, especially when compared to some of their more popular contemporaries. They indulged audiences in Burt Bacharach inspired jazzy pop marked by the talented vocals of Corinne Drewery, who sported a 50's style bob and sang like Dusty Springfield, and further refined by Andy Connell's atmospheric keyboard work. The result? A distinctive sound and a fruitful enough fanbase to support their careers.

Like so many of the Sophisti-pop scene's rising meteors however, Swing Out Sister only held the public eye for the remainder of the 80's before being dismissed as an outdated accessory in the wake of such acts as Seal and Primal Scream. This didn't stop Corrine and friends from gaining a rediculously large cult following in countries like Japan and Singapore since that time however, and as a result the band has been putting out record after record for the last 15 well as continuing to evolve their sound.

With all that in mind, we now come to a very rare disk amidst the outfit's discography and possibly their best, a Bristolian exercise in trippy noir pop called Filth and Dreams, which received a Japan exclusive release in 1999 and has not been made available anywhere else since that time.

Although more organic and a bit less sampled than what Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead and the equally evolved-over-time Everything But The Girl were dabbling in at the dawn of the new millennium, make no misake: Swing Out Sister deliver the beats and darkness of the late 90's in just as compelling a manner, but without losing sight of their jazzy pop sensibility in the process.

There's a laid back early morning fog about these ten tracks that might invoke nostalgia, yearning, or perhaps merely restfulness in a troubled mind. Sometimes the Corrine's sultry singing will emphasize infectious choruses over their nightclub arrangements ['Who's Been Sleeping', 'Closer Than The Sun'] while in another movement you'll be shooting down the city streets to the pulse of midnight ['World Out Of Control', 'Make You Say'] and wonder where you might be going when the moon is only a dot on the horizon.

Fans of anything related to trip-hop or nu-jazzy/soulful pop music with a 90's flair will tear into this bitch faster than you can say "gorgonzola". Feast your ears!

Listen Here - "Happy When You're High"

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Wildhearts - P.H.U.Q. (1995)

Along with holding the distinction of being the single best British rock band to emerge after 1990, The Wildhearts are a shitload of fun for the whole family, your dog, and even that biker with the moss colored mohawk down at the pub.

Tonight's upload, therefore, is the 2010 remaster of The Wildhearts' classic 1995 opus P.H.U.Q. (27 beastly tracks in total!!), and it is quite a good way to get one's feet wet with these coked-up scoundrels as anything else in their discography.

In the same way an American group like Failure made groups like Pearl Jam and Nirvana seem rather stale and lightweight, The Wildhearts in turn illuminate the fact that all those "edgy" 90's alt. rock bands from the U.K. you grew up on are about as hardcore as Air Supply in comparison to the material found on these disks. Whether they're shredding up anthems into a near catatonic state of blissful overdose ['I Wanna Go Where The People Go', 'V-Day'] or stomping out softies like Supergrass at their own game on the ballad side of things ['Bad Time To Be Having A Bad Time', 'Do Anything'], its hard not to grumble at what a sin it is that these blighters won't ever receive the recognition they deserve. They just kick too much fucking ass, possess too much pop prowess, and are likely just a bit too punchy on the whole for sedated children who were raised on safe muzak like The Smashing Pumpkins.

So...want some power-pop that will burn that sniveling inner chav right out of your soul? Take this on for size!

Listen Here - "I Wanna Go Where The People Go"

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kip Шiиgεя - From The Moon To The Sun (2008)

Kip Winger occupies a curious place of reference in the mind of those who might know who he is. The singer made his chops as a younger man through his initial associations with Alice Cooper as part of his backing band in the early 80's, and by 1990 was charting big on MTV as frontman to "wimp-metal" band Winger. Cut to the the mid 90's, however, and you'll see that Winger wasn't exactly high on anybody's radar thanks to grunge and stuff. 1993's Pull alienated existing audiences due to its lack of hair-metalismz, followed by most of their audience forgetting who they were in the first place and hopping on more contemporary bandwagons. Tough luck kids!

Taking all that into consideration however, the fact that Mr. Winger has made such a hellishly impressive alternative/prog./world/metal/pop solo record all by his lonesome self....and nearly 15 years after his heyday on top of all the more astounding. Lyrically there's nothing to really write home about, but the arrangements and hooks and songwriting elements result into something that is more than the sum of it's parts -- a conventional album that does what it does so well that it breaches into the fabled realm of being a potential modern classic. It follows many well-tread places, yet ends up by the end of the journey somewhere different than its predecessors.

This album's reference points are nicely spread yet traceable, inspired to some degree by loveable daffs like Peter Gabriel, Sting and the ever underrated Kevin Gilbert. Unlike recent output from folks like Sting or Gabriel though, the songs in From The Moon To The Sun run the listeners through quite a few good ideas despite the overt mid/downtempo feel of things. Several crackin' alt. rock songs are to be found here of course ['Every Story Told', 'One Big Game'] but there are also some real stunners like the string-led instrumental 'Ghosts' and two six minute pieces that might bring Porcupine Tree or It Bites to mind ['Pages and Pages', 'Why'], emphasizing how much Kip has matured as a songwriter since his MTV days. There's also plenty of Middle Eastern elements scattered about for you people who like exotic crap too.

Ergo, I'd say this album needs more exposure since it checks more boxes than it has any right to. It's beautiful, infectiously predictable and mindblowingly unpredictable in equal measure, and when all is said and done probably the single best chilled out alternative rock album on the planet. Take it or leave it!

Listen Here - "Every Story Told"

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation - Doomjazz Future Corpses! (2007)

A side project of European dark ambient/jazz band The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, TMFDC make a point of stripping away the noir-like feel and improvisations of its parent group: instead they lay to waste turgid oceans of thoughtless mind spasms that vibrate the listener's cerebellum and surrounding skull, which is rather awesome. Nobody likes a band or artist who sounds exactly the same on all their musical projects!

Down to the nitty gritty - this is not a series of songs per-se. The nine pieces here (labeled One through Nine respectively) are merely isolated yet sequential segments of the throbbing nightmare that is Doomjazz Future Corpses! -- taken as a whole, it might be a touch too much for a mind to mull in a single sitting unless your A. asleep, B. engrossed in something else or C. Stoned to Saturn and back again.

I will testify to how enjoyable the overall taste of things is however, and it is certainly bucketloads more accessible than some of the more demented drone you might run across one stormy night. If anything, dissonance is this record's recessive trait, leaving space and organic free-jazzy walls of sound to hook the ears and prevent you from pressing Pause in disappointment. And more space is always a good thing.

So yeah, its a bit early....but Happy Halloween you bastards. This album is just what the jack-o-lantern ordered, and it won't be the last I assure thee...

Listen Here - "Four"

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Steve Vai - Sex & Religion (1993)

Devin Townsend on vocals. Steve Vai on guitar. The songs sound like something Dream Theater cooked up with RHCP in a meth lab before either band turned to shit. AMG took a 2-star dump on it because they hate good muzak.

In short, there's no good reason why you shouldn't have this little gem tucked in your library: Satan would commit suicide to tracks 7-11 alone.


Listen Here - "Survive"

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

OceanLab - Sirens of the Sea Remixed (2009)

If Tracey Thorn had BT's babies back in 1996, the resulting mix might turned out something like today's upload. OceanLab are a trio who are categorized under a rather pretentious tag: "progressive vocal house trance"...though I suppose in this case its a ridiculous label that's not too far off the mark. Oodles of post-90's dance beats, superbly stratospheric vocals and bunches of keyboards that remind me of Deep Forests's schmaltsome awesomeness run amok on this excellent set of remixes, coalescing into an ideal night drive soundtrack...or if you just want to impress people who do a lot of ecstasy. 

So switch on your treadmill and turn this bastard up nice and loud. Minds will blow and eargasms shall be brought forth from oh-so-distant English dance clubs, fabled realms where Portishead and Primal Scream are probably still cool to remix for your high school's after-prom parties.

Happy headtrips amigos!

Listen Here - "Satellite"

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sally Oldfield - Water Bearer (1978)

Armed with a gorgeous voice and an array of instruments, Sally Oldfield is the spicy & talented younger sister of Mike Oldfield, a fairly innovative bloke in the worlds of prog. rock, ambient music and electronic noodling who is responsible for giving an obscure little movie *laugh* called The Exorcist it's infamous opening theme, which in turn is an excerpt from his bewilderingly popular and very pretentious Tubular Bells album from 1973.

What does any of this have to do with his sister's very awesome folk masterpiece debut Water Bearer from 1978? Nothing much really, other than the fact some of the better aspects of Mike's kum-bah-ya soundscaping has rubbed off on his sister's songwriting sensibilities...much to her benefit I dare say.

These nine songs will invoke in thy minds strange forests, rivers dreaming through valley mists at evening, ancient lands untouched by man's diluting hand that are bathed in unending golden sunlight. Put another way, it's as if Fairport Convention got a better frontwoman and took a few production tips from Phil Spector on how to harmonize and make things crystalline and layered.

Words do not do justice to the sheer beauty of this unfortunately obscure LP. Much like the hills of Tuscany or the Grand Canyon or other such remnants of the natural world, this is something that simply must be experienced in order to be appreciated.

Dream on, dear comrades...dream on.

Listen Here - "Weaver"

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Slave - Stone Jam (1980)

Dayton, Ohio was a fantastic little stewpot for all sorts of delicious hard-edged funk & soul throughout the 70's, and this-here-band Slave was perhaps the raddest of that scene's outfits, producing a number of divinely groovy LP's throughout the latter half of the decade and probably doing enough blow to give Scarface pause all the while.

However, not even records like The Hardness of the World or The Concept could have prepared listeners for the sheer genius of 1980's Stone Jam. Slicker, louder and yet simultaneously punchier than anything they'd released previously, this record is a genuine marvel: commercial, danceable, yet packed note-for-note with just as much groove & muscle as anything Funkadelic or the Bar-Kays did. Steve Arrington's cheeky crooning makes him a rather fun lead vocalist, and even the ballads ['Let's Spend Some Time', 'Starting All Over'] boast smoldering hooks that would compliment any Marvin Gaye/Barry White Lovemaking 101 playlist.

This is funk made ideal, boys and girls. Bust a move tonight and take your significant other by storm with this on the backburner.

Listen Here - "Watching You"

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cog - Sharing Space (2008)

Australian politics and smoldering Tool-meets-Karnivool metal collide here with enough interesting twists on the instrumental and time signature side of things to satisfy mental and emotional needs alike, with a bloody excellent sense of presentation to top the sundae: vocalist and lead guitarist Flynn Gower swaggers about in a theatrical yet enviable manner in some of the longer pieces ['No Other Way', 'Bitter Pills'] before going all wrathful and deprecatory when the bass turns to solid sludge ['Sharing Space']. Needless to say, we Americans have a lot of catching up to do if independent post-prog. bands with this sort of monstrous prowess on the other side of the Pacific are the norm.

Although it's a necessary evil, there is a certain monotony in approach to the madness at play. Hence, don't be expecting a zany Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or Mr. Bungle-esque experience, as this particular beast has an angry, pulsating tempo to it's heartbeat which doesn't vary a whole lot over the course of the record. But then again, when the songwriting is this solid coupled with an equal dose of entertaining arrangements therein, who really gives a shit about eclecticism or variety? Stylistic consistency can be just as fun! 

Long story short: an excellent album to fuck the system to. Watch that cigar you dropped burn the Earth to charcoal.

Listen Here - "Say Your Last Goodbye"

The Violet Hour - The Fire Sermon (1991)

Art rock was in a dubious position in 1991: did one follow trends and just resign to being part of an obscure neo-prog. scene populated by such maligned entities as Marillion and IQ, or cut away from the cloth completely and try to shoot for the Top 40 through more intriguing means?

Leeds outfit The Violet Hour, thankfully, opted for the latter choice on their one and only release The Fire Sermon -- Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, The Cure and All About Eve are far more likely to come to mind when listening through this eclectic 11-piece set of splendorous songs than anything some 30- year-old with too much wank up his keyboard might have cooked up.

Beyond some of the post-80's gothic touches and a stealthy jazz influence however, there's a definite folk edge across the record which draws one's mind to dreamier places than it might be accustomed to, due in part to the presence of instruments such as the flute playing a prominent role in a few songs. The result is a fantastic experience that'll bring plenty of other great music to ear & mind whilst planting a few noteworthy ideas of its own.

Summation: Neo-progressive rock for people who hate keyboard solos. Get it while it's hot!

Listen Here - "Dream Of Me"

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