Friday, December 30, 2011

Sшiиg Out Sistεя - Kαlεidoscopε Шoяld (1989)


Right up there with Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry and Prefab Sprout at the tip-top of that oft-forgotten genre echelon crossbreed of 80's cocaine pop, bossa nova and lounge known as "sophisi-pop", Swing Out Sister are also perhaps the classiest and most soulful of the lot. Jimmy Webb even directs an orchestra in a few spots, but on the whole this is would serve as a pretty decent noir soundtrack for an era so wrapped up in the glory of synthesized soul.

Somewhere in the world, I think, between Corrine Drewery's sumptuous pleas and the immaculate soundscaping prowess of Andy Connell on keyboards/guitar is the image of a strange, yet beautiful place that will never return...and that, my friends, is a tragedy.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Noktuяиαl Moяtuм - Голос стαиi (2009)


Ukraine for me might as well be the other side of the goddamn moon for all the connection I have with the country, but what bands do tend to rear their heads out of that National Socialist haven (such as black-folk metal masqueraders Noktuяиαl Moяtuм) tend to have a knack for spinning you upside the ankle and knocking us feeble outside audiences on our collective asses.

This record is a sheer majesty in the art of pummeling your fucking mind to peanut brittle and then reviving whatever corpse remains into the likeness of a cream clad Seraphim. The keyboards sound in waves, and the onslaught of acoustics is a gorgeous, striking contrast ('The Sky Of Sorrowful Nights') to the madness and mercury of 'Valkiriya' and other +10 minute monstrosities.

A certain frame of mind is needed, but this may just be the best freakin' black metal album you'll ever sit through.


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Monday, December 26, 2011

Bяothεя Apε - Shαngяi-Lα (2006)


Swedish power-progressive-pop-trio (big mouthful there) Bяothεя Apε are one of the more interesting bands to come out of Sweden in the last several decades, if for nothing else than that they don't quite sound like any other group in the vast multitude of scenes and pantheons that constitutes the independent musicale uncommercial worldwide. Echoes of YesRush and Kaipa are all over the arrangements, guitar work and songwriting, but the execution here on 2006's Shαngяi-Lα comes across as a oft-ignored individual in a world full of people trying to sound and act like one another.

Jazzy, knotty and at times strikingly magnificent, this band could rule the world if the world would simply give a damn in turn.


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Alεxαndεr O'Nεαl - My Gifτ To You (1988)


New Jack Swing-80's-pop-Christmas-stuff. Thankfully, the original compositions here outnumber the covers, and the whole thing reeks wonderfully of Alexander's sensibility when it comes to production lushness as well.

With that said, I wish a Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. Enjoy! :)


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mysτikαl - Tαrαиτulα (2001)


Before some rather nasty legal trouble involving a woman and his trouser snake landed him in the joint until fairly recently, Mr. Michael Lawrence Tyler (AKA Mysτikαl) was arguably the hottest name in The Game, a status that was cemented in both songwriting and production on his 2001 magnum opus Tαrαиτulα.

Bling, the streets, bitches, gettin' pussy, bitches: all your favorite boom rap subject matter is here and ready to roll like a joint gone mean n' Cuban. Every track's got a nasty fine hook to the jaw: the title track bellows like an angry beast to the tune of a couple of pissed off synth arpeggios. Lines of all kinds get snorted throughout: bass, synths, beats galore. We even get horns on tracks like 'That's That Shit', but without all that self-conscious ATCQ crap holding back the pimp within.

The James Brown of hip-hop is here to blow some mothafuckin' MINDS boys & girls, so put that in your bowls and smoke it!


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thε Яippiиgτoиs - Touяisτ Iи Pαrαdisε (1989)


Ripped from CD.

One of five albums in my vast collection that I consider a desert island disc, this is, at least in my eyes, the single best contemporary/smooth jazz record that has ever been recorded by anyone at any period of time. Closely matched in overall quality by only a few other artists in this sort of genre or related areas (Toshiki Kadomatsu, Pat Metheny, Kit Walker and jazz-fusioners Karizma), the superlatives I could lay upon the nine cuts within this disc are near infinite. Deceptively accessible, melodic and boiling with atmosphere, this was an album recorded just as the Rips had begun to hit their peak. Russ Freeman, guitar god that he is, was beginning to experiment a bit more with guitar synths, percussionist Steve Reid was coming into his role as the group's sound architect and soundscaper, and Brandon Fields demonstrates time and time again what a damn good alto saxophonist can do when he isn't trying to be a hack like David Sanborn.

Needless to say, this is a strong record through and through, with four out of nine pieces in particular cementing this album's place at the godhead of all things smooth and Weather Channelesque. First is the title track, opened and closed out with some swooshing Korg synths and a steady drumline that remains (even into 2011) the coolest intro to any muzak ever written. Carl Anderson even scats throughout! Next you have the 6.5 minute 'One Summer Night In Brazil', which while slow remains sumptuous, beautifully textured and even tideful thanks to a combination of acoustic guitar, a couple of skins and Freeman. The last two, 'Earthbound' and 'Destiny' are a punchy pair that kick things up a notch in pace yet remain slick and electrified. They help close out one hell of a strong set, and are in fact worth the price of admission in a nutshell.

I can count the albums on both hands that made me sit up and suck in every track in only one go-around, with Yes's Close To The EdgeThe Stooges' Fun House, It Bites' The Tall Ships and Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger being a couple of the big ones. Records that outperform, outclass, breezing through hooks, ideas and dynamics in twenty to forty minutes that make entire other bands' recorded outputs look like yesterday's garbage.

This was the album that turned me into a fanatic of all things smooth, the catalyst for a million other brilliant discoveries both analogous and bizarre, and nothing captures the late 80's better by a country mile.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kiиgs Of Coиvεиiεиcε - Rioτ Oи Aи Eмpτy Strεετ (2004)


There must be something awfully magical over in Scandinavia's water supply, because some of the best melodic-anything in a variety of genres has continually emerged out of Sweden and Norway with almost bewildering consistency. From progressive metal (Pain Of Salvation, Opeth) to AOR (Work Of Art, Treat)  and so on and so forth, there's a little something for everyone out there...almost to the point where you'd need half a dozen Twitter feeds just to keep track of it all!

That being said, you don't have to be a eclectic guy like me to appreciate the good stuff from that side of the pond. Just ask any Pitchfork-slobbering ponce from the last six years or your local Zooey Deschanel wannabes, cause there's one act that'll pop up again and again no matter where (if at all) you reside in the great Indie-sphere: Kiиgs Of Coиvεиiεиcε, a modern Simon & Garfunkel type who play some of the dardnest pretty folk stuffz you'll ever have the pleasure of hearing.

2004's Rioτ Oи Aи Eмpτy Strεετ finds guitar/vocal duo Erlend Øye and Eirik Bøe plucking and harmonizing away (and occasionally bolstered behind via strings, drums, etc.) in a contemporary homage to everyone from America to *insert singer/songwriter here* who's taken a leaf out of the playbook of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Although the more singles-oriented out there probably know this record from dancier tracks like 'I'd Rather Dance With You' and 'Love Is No Big Truth', a smarter listener will delve in beyond those two and find the real gold therein. Tracks like 'Surprise Ice' and the heart-wincing melody driven 'Cayman Islands' could have been recorded at any time over the last forty years and still come out as blindsidingly gorgeous. 

Great autumnal albums don't come 'round too often my friends, so take a gander and have your hearts be cured of sleeping miseries.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Eснolyи - Sυffocαtiиg Tнε Βlooм (1992)


One of the best progressive rock bands to come out of the U.S. who were not part of the oversaturated "neo-prog." scene of the 80's, Eснolyи are the ideal mix of Alternative rock, Yezda Urfa and the masters of polyphony themselves Gentle Giant. Technical beyond reproach, off-kilter and yet at times startlingly beautiful and accessible, this band was a driving force in establishing progressive rock as a viable genre in the eyes of a Generation X who only knew of prog. as "that old genre my Dad/musician uncle was into".

Released in the early, tumultuous days of the group's initial four-piece existence, 1992's Sυffocαtiиg Tнε Βlooм showcases this remarkable bunch at their rawest and most spontaneous. There's a wonderful sense of spasticity and mania in the rhythm section, especially on wildland romper 'Wintherthru' and within the jittery jazzmatazz of '21', but even slower cuts like the woodwind-flavored 'One Voice' are accentuated through actual strings that lend these songs a special authenticity no matter their tempo.

"I feel that I'm always sawing through the branch I'm sitting on," laments vocalist Ray Weston on the final part of the Everyman suite which bookends the record. A summation of the human condition indeed, and it couldn't have come on a wonderfully more organic & alive sounding record than this one. For those of you seeking art, this will seem an unsung masterpiece...and you won't find me disagreeing.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cαяl Aиdεяsoи - Fαиtαsy Hotεl (1992)


Better known for his audacious Broadway career as the original Judas from musical megahit galore Jesus Christ Superstar, singer-songwriter Cαяl Aиdεяsoи built up quite the belt of solo releases before losing a longstanding battle with leukemia in 2004, leaving the world in mourning.

Although there are a number of excellent records from his discography that I could post here, 1992's Fαиtαsy Hotεl is near the top of the bunch as far as songwriting, execution and production goes, serving as something of a crossover point between the jazzy dance pop of his 80's career and the Westcoast tendencies of this record's collaborators (Russ FreemanDavid Foster, etc.).

Through and through a romantic pop record, the sentiments expressed in these pieces isn't anything you haven't heard before. However, Aиdεяsoи's delivery is so good throughout the record that even the weakest moments are dwarfed into oblivion, and on songs such as 'If Not For Love' and "Lover's Mask', quirks and interesting cynicisms draw breath and peek out from behind the synth-leaden curtain. But again, everything's so damn pristine and well arranged that you might as well be able to eat these songs off a plate and not give a damn about the contents either way. Such is life, and thus..

"We're not what we seem/We're just something you have dreamed/Just a fantasy hotel." 




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Monday, December 12, 2011

Yoυssoυ N'Doυя - Thε Lioи (1989)


A well known protege and musical friend to Peter Gabriel, progenitor of the Mbalax genre of dance music and Senegal's most famous musical artist of all time, you'd be hard pressed to find a more influential "World" music artist in the last thirty years than Yoυssoυ N'Doυя. Comparable to the magnificent Fela Kuti as far as artistic eclecticism and vision goes, 1989's Thε Lion was the first taste that many people outside the African subcontinent got of this fella's pop sensibility, partly thanks to the contributions and production help of not only the former Genesis vocalist himself, but David Sancious (of Bruce Springsteen and Sting fame) as well.

Needless to say, Mr. N'Dour has a helluva set of pipes, and uses his voice creatively throughout the nine songs here. From standards like 'Old Tucson' to the ethereal yet compellingly eerie 'Macoy', percussive arrangements frame smoky sounding keyboards and occasionally punchy basslines and guitar work to make even the barest of threads vibrant and full of atmosphere.

Overall, this is a lucious little record that brings a lot of fun to the table, even if you don't speak Senegalese or emphasize with his socio-economic observations. Fans of anything off the beaten path, however, will devour this in a single, auditory gulp.


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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Giиo Vαииεlli - A Pαupεя Iи Pαяαdisε (1977)


One of jazz and pop music's unheralded geniuses, Giиo Vαииεlli is a singer/songwriter of Italian and Canadian descent who has been performing and recording since the early 70's into the present day. Blessed with an operatic tenor somewhere between Tim Buckley and Bobby Caldwell and purporting an approach to music that has just as much in common with Marvin Gaye as it does with The Alan Parsons Project, this guy is ridiculously distinct and unlike anyone you folks have ever had the pleasure of running across in whatever musical trails ya'll might have been following.

This late 70's release is my favorite album by Vαииεlli: it came out about a year after Parsons' Tales Of Mystery And Imagination, and thus leads one to believe that there is some classical influence to be derived from that amazing release. The title track which closes out this album is a four-part classical suite, and the rest of the pop-oriented fare is equally jaw-dropping in their execution. Feeling up for something smooth and ideal for a late night drive? Try the unusual 'Valleys Of Valhalla' or bossa nova-kissed 'The Surest Things Can Change'. Wanting some bounce to your beat? Let 'Mardi Gras' stab you and get that blood flowin' in all the right ways.

Killer vocals, progressive songwriting and a spacey late 70's atmosphere make this record a cult classic if there ever was one, and it's a damn fine place to make headway into the strange, yet groovy world of Giиo Vαииεlli.


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Boy Ηiτs Cαя - Sτεαliиg Fiяε (2011)


Although they formed in the early 90's and quickly established something special as far as musical identity goes, Boy Ηiτs Cαя never seemed to gain a foothold in rock radio territory despite excellent dynamics and songwriting which pervaded their releases -- from the success of their debut on Wind-Up Records in 2001 all the way to the present day, it's just been one steller set of songs after another.

That being said, Sτεαliиg Fiяε is an alt-rock fan's wet dream in more ways than one, and yet like most of the year's best records you probably won't see it on any AOTY lists. Razorscuzzed guitar lines that scale up and down harmonic minor scales, exotic high-end excellence from vocal giant Craig Rondell and a slick, multi-faceted eclecticism not unlike peer such as Deftones and Ra...this is the sort of stuff my generation makes love to, and boy does it pack one fuck of a wallop!


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Monday, December 5, 2011

Toѕнiki Kαdoмαtѕu - Lεgαcy Of You (1990)


Ripped from CD.

As I've made clear in past posts here on The Widening Eye, I am a monstrously huge fan of Japanese beach guitar wizard Toѕнiki Kαdoмαtѕu-san. He's one of those guys who is hit and miss as far as his studio material is concerned, but he's also one of those self-made artists who, when he actually does hit the mark, he's about as close to perfection as anyone could hope to be in the realm of Japanese jazz pop.

This particular release was Kαdoмαtѕu's second and final instrumental album that he'd cut in studio and release in LP form, and it holds the distinction of being his single most powerful and cohesive statement as both a guitarist and songwriter. Featuring high-energy performances in a variety of formats, these songs blend progressive Jazz-Fusion with the Post-Disco influenced "City pop" melodic sensibility that reigned supreme over Japanese FM radio for the first half of the 80's.

Call it progressive smooth jazz, Beach-Fusion, Adult Contemporary on crack-cocaine, whatever. No matter what sort of labels you might toss around, this is one of the best melodic Jazz Fusion albums to ever have the pleasure of being recorded and released in the 80's in any country, perhaps even in the whole of Jazz music history itself depending on your angle.

If you've ever pondered to hear what might happen when The Beach Boys go the way of Mahavishnu Orchestra, take a gander herein. It captures it's era better than nearly anything else you'll find.


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Joнииy Bяisτol - Sτяangεяs (1978) [2010 Remaster]


Underused and under-appreciated somewhat despite his megastatus as one of Motown's elite producers back in the Golden Age of soul, Joнииy Bяisτol was a gifted songwriter who put his talent to work in his solo career as well, part of which is exhibited in this 1978 collection. My favorite track is the one which opens the bunch in fact, "Strangers In The Dark Corners", which turns on a dime from strings to chorus and still brings a damn good chorus to the table.

Remastered in 2010 with loving, immaculate care.


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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Βoz Sсαggѕ - Dig (2001)


We all know Duh Boz was a mean ol' boss on the streets of L.A. from '68 through '88, but it's only when you leap forward into a far more alien era that the true measure of a great artist can be gleaned, and in that regard Dig is one hell of entrance into the 21st century for an aging and "irrelevant", yet still quite vital, existence.

These are the nighttime blues for a fresh new audience, shuffling grooves for the uninitiated. There is not a 'Lowdown' or 'Jojo' to be found, but staked out downtempo territory not far removed from the excess of post-2000's Bristolian reveries, yet equally sumptuous and probably a bit jazzier too. Tracks like 'I Just Go' and the smoldering 'Desire' take loping loops that beat like a heart and juxtapose them against a timeless voice and otherworldly production where every timbre echoes into the ephemeral glow of the city....and beyond.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

scнοol fοoδ puиisнмεиτ - Pяοg-Rοiδ (2011)


Japanese proggy power pop band I've been falling in love with lately: some of their material has been featured in cool anime series' such as Eden Of The East and C: The Money Of Soul And Possibility Control.

This sophomore release sums up their sound quite well I think: inventive, even jazzy/avant-garde arrangements with poppy power chords. excellently layered vocal work and a heavy dose of 8-bit synth to round out the package. Bloody good fun, especially if you actually know what the hell they're singing about.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

PFM - Miѕѕ Bαkεя (1987)


Italy's favorite progressive rockers go full-on AOR on this late 80's trufflefest, and it's actually a pretty damn good time. Also, those keyboards on 'Josephine Baker'....*whistles in awe*.


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Friday, November 25, 2011

Scoττ Шαlkεя - Tнε Dяifτ (2006)


Few people are as good as injecting pure veins of blackened, rotting dread into the sonic canvas of the world as singer-songwriter/hermit/mystic/magus Scoττ Шαlkεя; every release he's done since the early 70's seems to reach deeper and deeper into some abstract realm of madness that underlies reality, bellowing up his throat like golden bile...and it is truly wonderful to behear.

If you love your classic 50's pop blended raw into the industrial and dark-eyed avant-garde, I'd be surprised if you didn't fall head over heels for Tнε Dяifτ and all that dwells within.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Subsigиαl - Toucнsτonεs (2011)


It's been quite some time since German prog. metalers Subsigиαl emerged from the broken remnants of the legendary Sieges Even and stormed onto the Top 10 lists of music moguls everywhere with 2009's nefarious yet excellent Beautiful & Monstrous (which I actually posted up HERE back in April). Question is, could they outdo that masterpiece in a mere two years?

I respond to that inquiry, ladies and gents, with a plane-shattered, world resounding YES!!!!!


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Eαяτн Шiиd & Fiяε - I Aм (1979)


At one point the biggest soul/funk band on the planet in terms of sheer popularity and also the favorite group of guys like Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, this particular 1979 release caught EW&F at the point they were transitioning from a harder edged funk unit into post-disco pop stars, providing Philip Bailey and co. the environment they needed to work with some excellent people in creating music that straddled both sides of the musical divide with almost intuitive excellence. A couple of killer cuts (the thinking man's pop-funker 'In The Stone' and the languid 'After The Love Is Gone') and near-claustrophobic chemistry in the rhythm section only make this deal sweeter methinks, so nab it while it lasts.


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Cαpαbiliτy Bяowи - Voicε (1973)


A wonderful band who never really got the opportunity they deserved to strike at the fickle heart of the then-commercially-viable progressive rock market, Cαpαbiliτy Bяowи deserved a better hand than they were dealt. Nevertheless, with five fantastic covers of some early Rare Bird and Steely Dan classics and a 20-minute hellishly good slice of suite called 'Circumstances', this record was about as glorious a death as one could ask for in the fast paced record biz', and like my stash of tequila it has aged magnificently.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Iиquisiτioи - Iиτo Thε Iиfεяиal Rεgioиs Of Thε Anciεиt Culτ (1998)


Intriguingly, it is not common knowledge to the masses at large that Columbia is home to awesome things besides drug dealers. Nevertheless, those who do not know of warlock warbler Dagon and his thrashy black metal ensemble Iиquisiτioи are missing out on an awe inspiring discography of debauchery, pissed off space demons and enough dimension-shattering guitar/blast beat asswhoopery to satisfy even the most degenerate rabble.


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

V/A: Goodnight L.A. - The Best Of Westcoast (2011)



After realizing that my last compilation wasn't competent enough to be an ideal sampler for L.A. jazz pop "Westcoast" scene from 1973 through 1989, I went back to the drawing board and started from square one. And this time folks, I think I got it right. :P

This set of 24 songs covers Westcoast music from its era of commercial relevance while making room for the different stylistic variations that emerged in the genre during that period (blues-based, baroque, Hi-Tech, etc.) and even throws in a number of artists from here in the 21st century who are doing a fantastic job at keeping the fire alive (Ole BorudFrank ÅdahlJeff Pescetto).

If you hate jazz-inflected pop, you will find this compilation very trite indeed. If you have no romance in your soul, you will most certainly see no redeeming qualities whatsoever in these songs of broken bonds, city hustlin' and the occasional cosmic dalliance.

For the rest of you however, this is an ideal tape to throw down in casual settings amongst friends who aren't allergic to the 80's, killer grooves and smooth sensibilities, and in all likelihood it'll serve as a springboard to introduce them to many kickass artists they didn't know before.

Tracklist

1. 'Nice Nice, Very Nice' by Ambrosia
2. 'Jojo' by Boz Scaggs
3. 'Broken People' by Ole Børud
4. 'Last Plane Out' by Kevin Gilbert
5. 'Heart Hotels'  by Dan Fogelberg
6. 'These Chains' by Toto
7. 'Marooned' by Larry Lee
8. 'Heart To Heart' by Jeff Pescetto
9. 'Real Thing' by Bobby Caldwell
10. 'The Light Is On' by Christopher Cross
11. 'I Get This Feeling' by John Warren
12. 'Who Are You' by Bill Cantos
13. 'Out On The Streets' by Patrick Simmons
14. 'Marianne (I Was Only Joking)' by Eric Tagg
15. 'Hypnotized' by Fleetwood Mac
16. 'Roxann" by Warren Wiebe
17. 'Love Will Follow' by Kenny Loggins
18. 'Merry Go Round' by Phillip Bailey
19. 'Fly Away' by Robbie Dupree
20. 'Echo Park' by Time Gallery
21. 'If I Saw You Again' by Pages
22. 'Goin' Down' by Greg Guidry
23. 'Nothin' You Can Do About It' by Frank Ådahl
24. 'When This Love Affair Is Over' by Peter Allen



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Friday, November 11, 2011

Submoτioи Oяchεsτяα - Fiиεst Houя (2011)


A gorgeous pitch-black martini mix of nu-jazz, vocal lounge, trip-hop and surprisingly compelling dubstep touches. For reference, think of modern jazz favorites like KDJE or Bohren & Der Club Of Gore with a sumptuous female vocalist and you'll understand why you NEED this ASAP.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

V/A - Fly Aшαy: Tнε Soиgs Of Dαvid Foѕτεя (2009)


Dαvid Foѕτεя, the man responsible for some of the biggest Westcoast pop hits of the 80's (and then some), gets an allstar treatment here from a variety of high-profile singers and musicians as they breathe new life into some of his best songs he's written over a thirty some year career. Delish!


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Monday, November 7, 2011

Jοии Sεяяie - Lυмiα Νigнτs (2003)


That "other" classic space ambient album I mentioned in my last offering, and possibly the best of the two as far as well-meaning attempts to capture that loneliness that lies between the stars go.

Damn it, why does this record have to be so friggin' beautiful sounding to these seasoned ears? It boggles the mind that ambient records this magnificent are stepped all over in favor of hipster bullshit like Stars On The Lid.

This will be The Widening Eye's last uppage from the glorious Mr. Sεяяie, and in my opinion his finest record overall. Bless your meager fortunes that you all now have an opportunity to add it to your collections.


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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jοии Sεяяie - Ixlαиdiα (1995)


Sorry for the prolonged absence my dear intrepids: real life advertising-competitions/conferences-in-Houston make blogging a real bitch. Eight hour drives back n' forth don't help either!

Anyway, I've already made a point quite some time ago about how wonderful this particular New Age/Space Ambient maestro is on this post. However, I consider this particular release one of his absolute two best. It drifts (no pun intended) a bit from the usual ambient formula and incorporates a strange, exotic sort of lounge feel courtesy of sax and flute making numerous appearances amidst the endless synth refrains, and it helps me go to sleep EVERY SINGLE NIGHT without fail!

Again, Mr. Sεяяie is unparalleled in this genre. His compositions are melodic, almost ungodly good in atmospheric craft and minimalistic to the degree where it serves in a variety of mood setting and/or sleep inducing purposes without trouble....and you can't ask for a better ambient record than that I'm afraid.


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Monday, October 31, 2011

Cняysτα Bεll - Tнis Tяαiи (2011)


David Lynch, lord and master of strange cinema and curious futurisms, has found a dark new voice to mold and craft for the early 21st century. This wouldn't be the first time he's taken a direct role in shaping sonic identities as a producer either: some of you might be aware of one of his earlier musical collaborators from his time in and around Twin Peaks, the sumptuous queen of space pop Julee Cruise and her fantastic debut outing Floating Into The Night from 1990.

Miss Bell here, however is an entirely different animal than most dream poppers, though not unlike Cruise as far as pace goes. She's skittery, tense, arresting as hell vocally and an intriguing complementary to the musical angles of dubstep and the dread heralding of early 90's Nick Cave. And when it works, it'll knock your friggin' face off: tracks like 'Bird Of Flames', for example, sounds like something Scott Walker locked up in his garage for a few decades before handing off the mix to Burial.

All in all, this is a gorgeous debut effort that evokes plenty of positive comparison with past post-punk and dream pop icons without sounding like any particular one of them, and feels refreshing as hell compared to a lot of what gets touted around on the singer-songwriter front these days. Happy Halloween folks!


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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Κiиg Cяiмsoи - Disсipliиε (1981/2011)


My favorite KC album by a country mile, and wonderfully remastered as part of the 40th Anniversary series courtesy of Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, as well as Robert Fripp himself.

I could give you fifteen billion reasons to own this record if you haven't gotten it already. Besides the fact it's one of my favorite albums of all time that is. Lets see...the fact its a rare poster child of sorts, representing the brilliance of post-infancy New Wave merged with unparalleled proggy. complexity and melodious intent would be one. Another one would be that every song is goddamn perfect, including but not limited to the jazzy swing of ballad 'Matte Kudasai' and tribal-led transcendence of 'The Sheltering Sky'.

Or....I dunno, you could just take my word for it and give it a fighting chance?


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kαмεloτ - Gнoѕτ Opεяα (2007)


One of the best prog. metal/power metal hybrid records to come out in recent years, which is a real surprise considering several notable commercial leanings present within. The culprit for why this works? The fact that Roy Khan and his uncanny talent to bring out ridiculous vocal power at the drop of a hat carries the singles and filler alike with ease, and the rest of the band ain't no slouch either.

I'll let the following preview speak for itself, but I really can't recommend this band (and, in the context of this post, Gнoѕτ Opεяα) enough. This band got big for a damn good reason.


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Monday, October 24, 2011

Blαck Couиτяy Coммuиioи - S/T (2010)


Debut vehicle from one of the few legitimate rock supergroups to emerge in the last decade. Unlike all-style-no-substance ensembles like the overhyped Chickenfoot and the disappointingly weaksauce Them Crooked Vultures, the all-star cast of Blαck Couиτяy Coммuиioи brings to mind the best years of Led Zeppelin with a heavy dose of progressive rock explorations and arrangement not unlike Uriah Heep or Lucifer's Friend.

Based around the lineup of ex-Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes (AKA The Voice Of Rock), keyboard wiz Derek Sherinian, guitar god Joe Bonamassa and some nobody drummer named JASON BONHAM (*hint hint*), this is one record you folks don't want to let slip away from your filthy mitts.


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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Toѕнiki Kαdoмαtѕu - Oи Tнε Ciτy Sнoяε (1983)


Another City-pop classic in the vein of Toshi-kun's 2010 masterpiece I posted awhile back, though this one was actually made in the decade it sounds like. Enjoy a smorgasborg of swirling synths, layered choruses, tides of bass and surf guitar and plentyyyyy of groovy post-disco drumlines for the ear to feast upon!


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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Βεyoиd-O-Mατic - Τiмε Τo Gετ Up (2010)


Everything you love about 60's acid rock, space and psychedelia in all its innumerable mutations is encapsulated in this beautiful sounding vehicle of haze. Or maybe you could just crack open some Sleepy Sun into a Fleet Foxes marinade and set to Blend. Either way, you'll want to light up to this....and I don't mean just literally.


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Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Flocк Of Sεαgυlls - S/T (1982/2011)


Yeah, those guys with the big hair. Yeah, the album with THAT song. Nevertheless, blending New Wave and Space Rock was a pretty rad idea back in the early 80's...and, in my opinion, still relatively fresh today. But hey, what do I know right?

P.S. - This is the 2011 remaster.


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Friday, October 14, 2011

Tнεo Tяαvis - Hεαяt Of Tнε Suи (2001)


Everyone's favorite modern prog. saxophonist decides to get cooking John Coltrane-style, ensuing in tasty treats for new and old jazz addicts alike. Yummmmz!


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Octobεя Pяojεct - S/T (1993)


Shimmering early 90's alternative folk pop-rock with a New Age touch here and there, distinguished in twelve gorgeous tracks via great arrangements, performances and the unbelievably sumptuous, yet powerful voice of one Mary Fahl. AMG (All Music Guide) gave this record a pathetic 1 1/2 stars out of 5 for "predictable naturalistic imagery" on the lyrical front, but guess that shows how much they know about good music eh?

If you like distinctive records that don't fit too easily in a box and enjoy the sort of pleasure one receives listening to classic records that even your Indie friends have overlooked, then this debut might just be the set of cuts you're looking for.


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Monday, October 10, 2011

Eяic Tagg - Drεamwalkiи' (1982)


Classic early 80's Westcoast, somewhere between Ambrosia and Toto stylistically but never anything less than warm and, as the title implies, dreamlike at times. Mr. Tagg had become somewhat popular in L.A. circuits due to his vocal contributions to guitar extraordinaire Lee Ritenour's 1981 classic record Rit, and in turn the man produced this wonderful set of songs that bring out the best in this bloke. Groovy stuff!


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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Faτεs Waяиiиg - Iиsidε Ouτ (1994)


An idiom like "progressive" metal has always seemed rather silly to me, if for nothing else than I've run across more innovative metal albums without that sort of label than those bearing it. Excessive technicality doesn't always lend itself to solid songwriting nor give you a backstage pass to compelling atmosphere, so why bother puffing out your chest as if it were some kind of war medal?

That being said, "progressive" metal wouldn't exist without this particular ensemble, for better or for worse. Unlike the stream of inevitable imitators that followed in the 90's though, they've never cut a metal record since 1983 that has been anything less than listenable. In particular, I consider this 1994 release the hallmark recording of their second decade and an exciting taste of what Ray Adler and co. could do in a more melodic, less-thrashy context. Every track is a smorgasborg of blistering guitar, punctuated drumming and killer leads on both the vocal and bass fronts, and a few cuts have even become melodic metal classics as time's gone on ('Island In The Stream', 'Monument').

Immersive and surprisingly unpretentious, Iиsidε Ouτ is a gem best not forgotten in the winding annals of metaldom.


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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ѕτevε Hαcкεττ - To Wαtcн Tнε Sτoямs (2003)


Everyone's favorite Genesis guitarist has had quite the solo career over the last forty years, and is considered one of the most "technically" skilled on the planet as far as playing goes. If I were to pick out a favorite release from that vast body of wonderful work though, I'd have to go with this post-2000's sucker punch of a record. It's dark, interesting and full of a strange sort of life that gets it leaping right off your speakers.

From the gorgeous middling ballad 'Rebecca' to the proggy. pop-rock of 'Brand New' and through the industrialized Talking Heads tribute 'The Devil Is An Englishman', it's rare to see an artist at the top of his creative form at this late point in his career. My recommendation for this one is quite high fellas: Stevie's voice has gotten better with time, his playing more spastic and daring, and his influences broader as he's come of age. To Wαtcн Tнε Sτoямs is the summation of a lifelong musical aspiration to evolve and grow beyond sterility, and I'll be damned if it isn't a glory to behold.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jαguαяεs - El Equilibяio Dε Los Jαguαяεs (1996)


Bloody swell debut from one of Mexico's best alternative rock institutions, and probably sounds even more potent to one's ears I 'xpect if you actually know any goddamn Spanish.

Buenas noches amigos.


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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lεoи Waяε - Mooи Ridε (2008)


The man who single-handedly crafted the sound of artists such as Marvin Gaye and Minnie Riperton back in the day hits the ground running with this late-noughties witching hour escapade, complete with velvet grooves, bongo percussion, wah-wah bass and slick licks. Although our boy Ware has never been a vocal giant, jazzy Quiet Storm gems like 'A Whisper Away' and 'Smoovin' are right at the top of the neo-soul pyramid, and it's the sort of mood music that's ideal for downtown drifting. Dou itashimashite!


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Friday, September 30, 2011

Aиtoиio Caяlos Joвiм - Stoиε Flowεя (1970/2010)


The progenitor of smooth as the top of his game: this particular record is often referred to as Brazil's equivalent to Kind Of Blue. Lavish praise? Yes. Hyperbole? Not at all.

Welcome to the antithesis of stress, weariness and the endless drama that assaults you every day of your mundane lives.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fяuup - Futuяε Lεgεиds (1973)


Ireland's one and only classic prog. rock band, and this here debut was quite the doozy in retrospect: think early King Crimson with a more harmonic vocalist, thicker basslines and at times an edgier pop sensibility of sorts: your imagination will serve you well long before thee ears behold the glory.


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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mαdoииa - Tяuε Bluε (1986)


For many people, this stands atop the cocaine mountain of 80's pop albums (beaten out perhaps only by Tears For Fears's Songs From The Big Chair), and it's not hard to hear why: the subject matter here hits hard more often than not, the beats are catchy, and Madonna's classic vocals are appealing even if you despise pop-anything from the bottom of your core.

All this being said....my birthday was yesterday. Huzzah?


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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Briαи McKиigнt - S/T (1992)


A classic R&B/New Jack Swing debut from the early 90's that bridged the music of top rate acts like Bobby Brown and Guy to the burgeoning neo-soul era beget by brothas like Seal, D'Angelo and Maxwell...and in my opinion this is the absolute cream of that particular crop of early nineties releases. B.M. himself is in fine form as far as vocals go, but unlike the majority of his contemporaries he's a multi-instrumentalist with a warm, jazzy sense of melodic songwriting (hear classic cuts like 'The Way Love Goes' 'Is The Feeling Gone' and a wicked hot cover of a certain famous Hall & Oates single for more details) that accentuates the talents that had led him to outlast everyone else in his scene (he's still going strong as of 2011).


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Edwiи McCαiи - Misguidεd Rosεs (1997)


Along with featuring the prominently overplayed yet fairly unique jazzy late 90's hit college-rock single "I'll Be", this jangle-laden little record is surprisingly powerful and interesting all the way through, not unlike classic Dave Matthews Band or Vertical Horizon as far as musical potency goes. Underrated and highly recommended by yours truly!

Listen Here - "See The Sky Again"


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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Arεkиαmεs - Iи Cαsε Of Loss (2010)


Black and brooding prog. rock from ye old Italia, but executed via a wonderful modern sensibility in tow with darksome occultic leanings. Come all ye faithful and indulge thineselves...


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Friday, September 16, 2011

Dεαth SS - ...Iи Dεαth Of Stεvε Sylvεstεr (1988)


More classic thrash/doom metal courtesy of Satan and his demonic cohorts. Features a mindbogglingly great cover of Black Widow's classic dark prog. suite 'In Ancient Days'.


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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Michαεl Tomliиsoи - Still Bεliεvε (1987)


Now here's something nice and cozy for a cold day. To sum up this underrated/independent folk singer-songwriter, think larger-than-life Biblical imagery a-la early 70's America and Dan Fogelberg and mix it in with some wicked smooth jazz-pop/late 80's Westcoast production and instrumentation and you have one hell of a monstrously listenable pop-folk record. The comparisons to Kenny Loggins are probably inevitable, but they sound nothing like one another despite having complementary backgrounds.

Most of you are probably tired of my rare Westcoast posts at this point, but this is one of those times I'm going to tell you to shut up and give this a spin. You know that really positive (and awesome sounding) aspect of the 80's that often got buried deep beneath the endless dance beats and synthesizers? Here's a slice of that, courtesy of moi.


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