Monday, August 31, 2009

Love's Miracle - (2007)
Every band has their influences, no matter how far they stray from their sources, and while Qui's first and strongest source of inspiration probably wasn't the Jesus Lizard, it's hard not to hear a bit of that band's furious and tightly unified chaos in Matt Cronk's jagged guitar figures and Paul Christensen's fierce but carefully punctuated drumming. It's even easier to spot the Jesus Lizard's impact on Qui's third album, Love's Miracle, since the duo has expanded into a trio with the addition of new vocalist David Yow, the former lead howler for the Jesus Lizard himself. Thankfully, Qui don't seem to be aping Yow's former band on this recording, and if they were, covering Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd wouldn't be likely to reinforce that band's impact on their sound (though both interpretations follow a decidedly different path from the originals). Working without a bass and possessing a free-wheeling if violent playfulness, Qui's approach embraces an openness and sense of space that gives Yow plenty of room to ply his trade as indie rock's most compelling lunatic, and while his feral yelp fills up the spaces in a way Cronk and Christensen's singing didn't, his presence pushes the players to make more of their own sound, and the result is full-bodied and absorbing despite the minimalism of the sonic frameworks. Yow hasn't transformed Qui into the Jesus Lizard Jr., but on Love's Miracle his intense and darkly witty style finds a comfortable home with this music, just as the musicians mesh easily with his singular vision; you don't have to be a fan of Yow's old stuff to appreciate this, though if you are you'll be glad to hear him at full impact again. (

The Best Of Morphine - (2003)
Pay attention to the dates in the title of The Best of Morphine 1992-1995. That chronological spread means it's not a career-spanning best-of, but only covers their early career, with nothing from their final albums for the DreamWorks label. That acknowledged, this is a decent overview of the first part of their discography, with most of the tracks hailing from their Good, Cure for Pain, and Yes albums (there's just one from B-Sides & Otherwise). For Morphine fans who have kept up with all those prior releases, the main point of interest will be the three previously unreleased tracks. All of them are in the sultry jazz-noir-blues-rock typical of the band's output, with "Jack and Tina" rumbling along for eight-and-a-half minutes. It's disappointing, though, that there's absolutely nothing in the liner notes to indicate when those previously unissued items were done and why they remained in the closet. For that matter, strictly speaking "Sexy Christmas Baby Mine" isn't previously unreleased, having come out as a vinyl 45 rpm on the For Singles Only label. (

Meet The Residents - (1974)
The Residents are true avant-garde crazies. Their earliest albums (of which this is the first) have precedents in Captain Beefheart's experimental albums, Frank Zappa's conceptual numbers from Freak Out!, the work of Steve Reich, and the compositions of chance music tonemeister John Cage — yet the Residents' work of this time really sounds like nothing else that exists. All of the music on this release consists of deconstructions of countless rock and non-rock styles, which are then grafted together to create chaotic, formless, seemingly haphazard numbers; the first six "songs" (including a fragment from the Nancy Sinatra hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'") are strung together to form a larger entity similar in concept to the following lengthier selections. The result is a series of unique, odd, challenging numbers that are nevertheless not entirely successful. The album cover is a fierce burlesque of the Beatles' first U.S. Capitol label release, sporting puerilely doctored photographs of the Fab Four on the front and pictures of collarless-suited sea denizens on the back (identified as Paul McCrawfish, Ringo Starfish, and the like). This is an utterly bizarre platter that may appeal to very adventurous listeners. (

Evil Dead 2 (Original Soundtrack) - (1987)
By the age of 15, LoDuca was opening for rock legends Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and the MC5 in smoky Detroit clubs and sneaking into Jeff Beck concerts. He was hooked. Onward to formal training in jazz and classical music, at the University of Michigan and in New York City. He plugged into the jazz culture. Submerged himself in music from around the world. Performed at jazz festivals in Europe. Was asked to tour with major recording artists, but he preferred composing - - it let him run freely among the disciplines without getting caught.
One day, a director friend said, "you know, you'd be good at scoring films." Within a few years he was awarded a Prime Time Emmy, eight nominations, numerous ASCAP awards and was named "Horror Film Composer of the Year." The director was Sam Raimi, and it all began with Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. It continues today with films like Boogeyman.
His credits also include the César-nominated score for the French international film Brotherhood of the Wolf, and the worldwide syndicated television series Xena: Warrior Princess.

  2. Person Pitch - (2007)

Starting an album with a clattering of industrial rhythms sliding into a huge clap-and-stompalong with angelic vocals and what sounds like the Brotherhood of Man on a vocal loop tip not far removed from Suicide or Laurie Anderson is one way to make a mark. The fact that Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox himself, sings like Brian Wilson and produces his voice to sound like it is another, though it has to be said that it just makes his Animal Collective membership all the more clear at this point. Person Pitch is very much an end product of a variety of musical trends in whatever can be called indie rock in the early 21st century — big-sounding, absolutely dedicated to texture and sonic playfulness, and somehow aiming to make a lot of interesting ideas seem kinda flat. There's no question there's both an audience for Panda Bear's work and the sounds he's playing around with, and to his considerable credit he creates a series of moody and memorable loops throughout. Songs like "Take Pills" and "Good Girl" are miles away from the rhythm-by-numbers of many of Panda Bear's contemporaries; importantly, after so many bands that just want to sound like late-'60s Beach Boys lock, stock, and barrel, the fact that there's a recognition that production and beat technology didn't stay frozen in time stands out. At its best, with the song "Bros," there's a beautiful transcendence that lives up to all the promise that has surrounded Panda Bear's work, the song slowly but surely evolving into a fantastic epic that could easily stand on its own as an EP. Still, the sweetness is almost too gooey, and what should be providing a healthy contrast ends up dragging the best instrumental moments down more than once, almost literally getting in the way of the striking sonic collages. It may be heresy to some, but conceivably Person Pitch would be at its best if it were strictly instrumental. (

Shadows On The Sun - (2001)
This prolific stoner rock ensemble continues to kick out the jams with Shadows on the Sun, a raucous party album that honestly melds soul, blues, grunge, and garage rock. In the tradition of such seminal blue collar outfits as Grand Funk Railroad, MC5, and the Stooges, Zen Guerrilla play clamorous, dirty, and spirited. Akin to their ancestors, what the band lacks in finesse they make up for in bombast. The guitar riffs go no further than Willie Dixon while singer Marcus Durant wails as if James Brown and Howlin' Wolf were standing right behind him. Like all great American bands Zen Guerrilla draws from a deep well of contradictory influences. The psychedelic acid groove of "Subway Transmission," the cowpunk of "Fifth and Cecil B" and "Where's My Halo," the primal heavy metal of "Staring Into Midnight," and the amphetamine-fueled funk of "Barbed Wire" prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no better cultural melting-pot than rock & roll. There are three ways to hear this album: loud, louder, and loudest. (
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