Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Bunny Boy - (2008)

Here's the supposed story: a friend of the Residents' has had his brother go missing, apparently on the island of Patmos in Greece. This friend ("Bunny") is a (mostly) computer illiterate man who spends most of his time in his "secret room." He's got some clues: postcards from Patmos and the contents of his brother Harvey's computer. From the secret room, he posts video messages (the webisodes) on the Internets hoping that people will help him find his Armageddon-obsessed brother (who went to Patmos because that's where St. John supposedly received the Book of Revelations). But the story became more than just clues on the website. Bunny (seemingly portrayed by the Singing Resident) gives out an e-mail address asking for help. In the weeks since, Bunny has been responding to individual e-mails giving further clues, or not, as the case may be. Bunny seems disturbed and confused, but is it just over his missing brother? Is Harvey really missing? Is Harvey dead? Is Bunny crazy? Is Bunny Harvey!?!?! There are certainly myriad clues, but which ones unlock the mystery? It's a brilliant multimedia story line. Musically, this is a more stripped-down effort than their recent offerings. Songs are short, and they're more "rock" than the last few albums, although they seem to get more electronic as the story progresses (a symptom of Bunny's deteriorating mental condition?). Toward the end, they employ some cool programming and almost techno beats. The album doesn't advance the story line too much, although there appear to be further clues in the sparse lyrics and photos in the booklet. And as opposed to the last several releases, The Bunny Boy features the Singing Resident almost exclusively on vocals (and mostly singing, too; not the screaming of old). But here's the part that really has the Residents community buzzing: many of the objects in Bunny's secret room seem strongly connected to Residents history/lore. Many of the direct questions asked of Bunny are given answers known to coincide with views already offered by the Residents themselves (like "What's your favorite Residents album?"). The addresses listed on the postcards are all previous locations of the Residents' home/studio or Ralph Records. Bunny states that he wanted to be a butcher, then in an e-mail reply states that one of the Residents or one of the Residents' fathers was a butcher. After the Demons Dance Alone tour (2003), the Residents stated they were taking a few weeks PATMOS! There have already been what seem to be autobiographical details released in the Kettles of Fish package and the re-released Mole Trilogy liner notes, as well as in the Demons Dance Alone live show and the stories from River of Crime. Is that what The Bunny Boy is really about? Is the actual character of Bunny really the Singing Resident?!?! The interactive part of this concept is supposed to expand into other media as the story progresses, and Bunny reports that the Residents have asked him to accompany them on the tour (an offer he eventually accepted). Are they really providing clues to their identities, or are they just messing with all of us? Ah, such is the beauty of the Residents. The most mysterious avant-garde rock group ever remains almost as mysterious as when it appeared more than 35 years ago. Other albums will surely be more lauded in the Residents' canon, but The Bunny Boy may well be their crowning conceptual achievement (and that's no small statement). It will be fascinating to see where this all leads. (

Vulgar - Motion Picture Soundtrack - (2002)

Composer Ryan Shore put together this dark, yet richly textured jazz score for Bryan Johnson's directorial debut. Using a variety of instrumnets such as tenor and baritone saxophones, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone (each with mute), strings and an extended rhythm section of upright bass/electric bass, electric guitar, piano, organ, vibraphone and percussion - he was able to not only create a soundtrack fitting the mood of the scenes in the movie, but also a mix of jazz that works great by itself. Kevin Smith co-produced this bizarre (and sometimes very dark) comedy from his high school friend and occasional acting colleague Bryan Johnson. Will Carlson (Brian O'Halloran) is a second-rate children's entertainer who barely scrapes out a living appearing as Flappy the Clown at children's parties. Determined to make a living and support his harridan mother through clowning, Will gets the idea to change his act, and starts hiring himself out as Vulgar the Clown, a cross-dressing gagman who performs at adults-only functions. Vulgar's debut performance, however, proves worse than disastrous; hired to appear at a bachelor party, Vulgar is gang-raped by three subnormal rednecks who were expecting something quite a bit different. Will's life seems to have hit rock bottom when he stumbles into the middle of a police standoff with a deranged father holding his children hostage. Will, in full Flappy the Clown regalia, accidentally saves the day, and soon the story of the heroic clown is all over the local media. A television producer gets the idea of building a children's television show around Flappy, and it looks like Will may have finally hit the big time. But just when things begin to look up, Will is informed that someone videotaped him being raped at the bachelor party, and a blackmailer threatens to release the tape and destroy his new career if Will doesn't pay up. Vulgar features supporting performances from several members of Kevin Smith's stock company and production team, including Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, and Smith himself. The film underwent several attempts to secure an "R" rating from the MPAA.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thriller - (2009)

The third album from the UK.s favorite extreme-noise Sludge-rockers. Fans of everyone from Black Sabbath and MC5 to TAD, Sonic Youth, The Melvins and Harvey Milk stand to be impressed by Thriller's suffocating but liberating vibe that sounds brain-shakingly loud regardless where the volume dial is turned to on your stereo. Signed to Mogwai's Rock Action label, the Camberwell crew have recruited bassist Tracy Bellaries (formerly of Ikara Colt, Mystery Meat and Soulbossa) to add even more texture to their dense, pervading noise that doesn't betray their roots as a traditional Rock band. With its screaming textures and the band's delicate twist on pop sensibilities, Thriller looks to set the standard for uncompromising, unwielding creativity this year, drawing on their rich range of styles, influences and their history of resolutely doing their own thing.

*** BY REQUEST ***
Pop Crimes - (2009)

(Rowland S. Howard, 1959-2009) Rowland S. Howard, the guitarist and songwriter, was half of the dual creative force in Australia's seminal underground bands Boys Next Door and the Birthday Party, with Nick Cave. He spent a troubled lifetime making uncompromising music; but wrote what remains his most famous song, Shivers, at age 16. Pale and thin, with angular, wraithlike features and a permanent cigarette dangling from his lip, he was, according to Cave, "Australia's most unique, gifted and uncompromising guitarist". Few fans of the Australian underground would disagree. He once revealed to a persistent fan what the "S" in his name stood for (it was Stuart), and decided not to do that again. The second of three children born to John Stanton Howard and Lorraine Stuart Howard in Melbourne on October 24, 1959, Howard swapped his saxophone for an electric guitar as a teenager. He played in bands in Melbourne's underground scene including Young Charlatans, before joining Mick Harvey and Nick Cave in their band Boys Next Door in 1978. Shortly afterwards, the band rerecorded side two of their first album Door, Door with three songs by Howard, including Shivers. Sung by Cave, the dramatic ballad about teen heartbreak and suicide exhibits Howard's enduring gallows humour in its wry treatment of the overwrought protagonist. It has since been considered an Australian classic, although Howard distanced himself from the song. Howard released only two solo albums, Teenage Snuff Film in 1999 and Pop Crimes in October last year. Both were critically acclaimed but commercially obscure, displaying his sense of humour (a dark Billy Idol cover, for example), his distinctive guitar-playing and his fascination with the dark side of shimmering girl-band pop. Howard spent much of the last decade in obscurity, plagued by health problems. But he began to find a new audience in the few years before his death and was regularly playing live in Melbourne. A tribute album to Howard appeared in 2007 on a French label, featuring performances of his songs by Mick Harvey, the Drones and Spencer Jones, among others. He featured in a 2009 documentary on the Melbourne punk scene of the late 1970s called We're Livin' on Dog Food. For much of his life Howard suffered hepatitis C and struggled with the debilitating effects of the medication. He spoke with candour of his enduring heroin addiction, which he kicked in the last two years of his life. In late 2008 he was diagnosed with liver cancer and was awaiting a liver transplant at the time of his death. His last live appearance was at St Kilda's Prince Bandroom in October. He recently told The Age: ''I think that the most important thing about music should be that it expresses some kind of humanity and it should express the personality of the person is playing it. And if you're good enough, then people will be able to tell it's you, not just anyone.''

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kings Of The Robot Rhythm - (1972)

Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers were one of the main British pub rock groups of the early '70s, playing a laid-back yet rocking mixture of rock & roll, R&B, country, and folk. The band has its origins in a folk-rock duo formed by ex-Junior's Blues Band members Martin Stone (vocals, guitar, mandolin) and Phil "Snakefinger" Lithman (vocals, guitar, piano, lap steel, fiddle). Lithman moved to San Francisco in the late '60s, leaving Stone to play with Savoy Brown and Mighty Baby. The duo reunited in the early '70s, recording Kings of Robot Rhythm with vocalist Jo-Ann Kelly and various members of Brinsley Schwarz. Kings was released in 1972; that same year, the duo expanded to a band, adding Paul "Dice Man" Bailey (guitar, banjo, saxophone), Paul Riley (bass), and drummer Pete Thomas. During the next two years, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers became a popular live act in Britain. The full band released Bongos Over Balham in 1974, yet the record sold poorly and the band split in February 1975. Thomas became the drummer for Elvis Costello's backing band, the Attractions, Riley played with Graham Parker, Bailey formed Bontemps Roulez, and Stone played with the Pink Fairies before quitting the music business. Lithman moved back to San Francisco where he began to work with his former associates, the Residents, under the name Snakefinger. (

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mm..Food ? - (2004)

You could call the proper follow-up to 1999's heralded Operation: Doomsday highly anticipated if it weren't for the wealth of side projects, pseudonyms, bootlegs, and mixtapes MF Doom unleashed afterward. Still, every bit of Doom output has the underground's tongue wagging, and as usual, the metal-fingered villain doesn't disappoint. Part of the reason for this is that MM..Food? is unconcerned with the hype and doesn't try too hard. It's actually one of Doom's least ambitious releases and a lot more fun than his previous ones, especially anything released under his dark Viktor Vaughn moniker. Food references and a ton of samples and scratches from old Fantastic Four read-along records keep the album light as Doom takes tired hip-hop topics like "keeping your hoes in check" and turncoat friends and screws with them. Backstabbers get their due on the Whodini-sampling "Deep Fried Frenz" while guest Mr. Fantastik gives fakes a proper whooping on the excellent "Rapp Snitch Knishes." Doom's behind every beat here, whipping up a busy brew of screw-loose samples and late-'90s beats. The mostly instrumental middle of the album is a fantastic, playful ride and more fresh evidence the man is never swayed by fads. Fans looking for his next big statement might be let down at first listen, but MM..Food? is as vital as anything he's done before and entirely untouched or stymied by the hype.

Friday, January 22, 2010

2 - (2010)

Although his principal endeavor has long been the band Low, Alan Sparhawk’s Retribution Gospel Choir is proving to be a worthy and engaging side project. This time out, on their second LP (and debut for the Sup Pop imprint), he’s joined by Low bassist Steve Garrington and drummer Eric Pollard (No Wait Wait); but, unfortunately, not by Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters), who had a large presence on the band’s debut. While the group dynamics shift decidedly toward ‘power trio’ mode as a result, the results are fine indeed; often surprising. True, in places Sparhawk unfolds trademark signatures: gradually evolving slowcore rock. This is particularly prevalent on the deliciously attenuated “Poor Man’s Daughter.” More often, 2 serves as a departure from the slowcore blueprint, eschewing the thoughtful, gently shaded arrangements of Low for stentorian environs. Indeed, the eight-minute “Electric Guitar,” while on the slow side, is much more indebted to noise-rock than slowcore. It features gale force instrumental breaks and includes a thunderous, protracted jam that takes up much of the song’s latter half. Conversely, songs like “Working Hard” and “White Wolf” evince a more compact, mid-tempo framework, including appealing, positively pop hooks amid sturdy heavy rock arrangements. The album closes with an atmospheric ballad, “Bless us All,” a reminder of Sparhawk’s roots on which emotive chorused vocals are delivered over a deliberate bass drone-ostinato. And while it’s fair to say that Low compatriot Mimi Sparhawk is missed here, both as a vocalist and drummer, Garrington and Pollard are fine collaborators. They press Alan Sparhawk to expand his reach, both in terms of pacing and amplitude, bringing out a fresh side to his abundant musical gifts. (

Allegory And Self - (1988)

Beginning with "Godstar," Psychic TV's tribute to Brian Jones complete with Stonesy guitar licks, Allegory and Self balances surprisingly straight-ahead alternative pop with more experimental tracks using tape cut-ups or extended synthesizer freeforms. P-Orridge makes for quite an ambitious frontman, crooning like Love and Rockets' Daniel Ash on "We Kiss" and producing a series of guttural roars for "Southern Comfort." "She Was Surprised" even bears the first fruits of Psychic TV's fixation with sampladelic acid-house. It may not be characteristic Psychic TV (if such an animal exists), but Allegory and Self may well be the best introduction for beginners.

*** 7" SINGLE ***
Dark Days Main Theme / Spoken For Mix - (2000)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

THX 1138 - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - (1971)

That (then) unknown director George Lucas managed to secure legendary composer Lalo Schifrin for the cerebral, brooding soundtrack to his bleak (pre-Star Wars) science fiction tale THX 1138 is a testament to his legendary industry tenacity. Far removed from his collaborations with John Williams, THX bristles with dissonant choral sections, bursts of Latin-tinged percussion, and a whole lot of mid-'70s echo-laden flute solos. A great deal of the soundtrack's tone resembles Stanley Kubrick's chilly, classically cultivated score for 2001: A Space Odyssey — Schifrin uses Bach's St. Matthew Passion over the end credits — and while it's occasionally ironic and lighthearted (the spaghetti Western-themed "Source #4/Third Escape/Morgue Sequence/The Temple/Disruption/LUH's Death"), the bulk of it is just plain disjointed and disturbing — "Torture Sequence/Prison Talk Sequence," with its cacophony of thumb pianos, bells, and hand drums, wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Wicker Man soundtrack. THX 1138 is a challenging and difficult listen, but fans will be pleased with Film Score Monthly's attention to detail and lovingly penned liner notes, and soundtrack buffs will finally fill a crucial hole in their sci-fi collections. (

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Eleventh-Hour Shine-On - (1992)

Eleventh-Hour Shine On represents Universal Congress Of's most serious jazz excursion; in fact, almost no traces of the group's garage origins remain. Despite the inclusion of material by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, the music here is less free-form than on earlier Congress records; founders Joe Baiza and Steve Moss both opt for clean, focused sounds. Not gone, however, is the group's sense of humor, which keeps the album well outside of the traditional jazz realm.

Motion Picture Soundtrack - (1998)

Since the movie Pi is a sci-fi psychological conspiracy thriller, the soundtrack itself sounds futuristic, and contains a wide variety of electronic-dance stars alongside three originals by composer Clint Mansell (formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself). Massive Attack's haunting "Angel" is easily the soundtrack's highlight — distorted guitar, ethereal bass, and crisp percussion creep along for six minutes, with Horace Andy supplying the vocals. Also included is the drum duel "Bucephalus Bouncing Ball" by Aphex Twin, the rapid-fire Roni Size dance track "Watching Windows," and the imaginative "Drippy" by Banco de Gaia (dripping water and percussion become merged together). Other contributors include Orbital ("P.E.T.R.O.L."), Gus Gus ("Anthem"), and Spacetime Continuum ("A Low Frequency Inversion Field"), among others.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Plays The Music Of "Walls In The City" - (1994)

The Denison/Kimball Trio may be loosely dubbed jazz, but you'll really hear avant garde guitar rock dominating Walls in the City. The nominal leaders' past and present stints as members of Mule and The Jesus Lizard won't get them on Wynton Marsalis's rolodex anytime soon, either, although jazz and rock are not mutually exclusive forms when music seeks a middle ground between Sonic Youth's noise and Esquivel's martini pop. Denison and Kimball created Walls in the City's music for a small Chicago-made movie by the same name you're more than likely never to see. It's as spare as you'd want a down-and-way-out, last-round-in-a-dirty-dive soundtrack to be, and guitarist Denison and drummer Kimball (brushes and bongos only) don't need much to make truly disarming, though altogether digestible, sounds.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shotgun Wedding - (1991)

Lydia Lunch first attracted the attention of punk and new wave audiences in the late '70s, when she sang lead with the very underground Teenage Jesus & the Jerks (best known for their tortured 1979 single "Baby Doll"). Always one who liked her music dark and troubling, Lunch never appealed to mainstream rock tastes, but has enjoyed a small cult following. When she joined forces with guitarist Rowland S. Howard for 1991's Shotgun Wedding, it was clear that Lunch hadn't adopted a more cheerful outlook. Songs like "Endless Fall," "Black Juju" and "Burning Skulls" are as morbid as they are captivating, and a superb remake of Led Zeppelin's "In My Time of Dying" fits right in. In Lunch's hands, the Zep classic loses its bluesy heavy metal appeal and acquires an eerie folk/gothic quality. This alternative rock gem is one of Lunch's greatest achievements. (

Live At The Fillmore - (1998)

Live at the Fillmore is a limited release double CD recording of a live show by the Residents. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the Residents performed a series of concerts during the last week of October 1997. The first part of the show featured mainly songs from their Gingerbread Man, Freak Show and Have a Bad Day albums, and the second half a performance of their live piece, "Disfigured Night". The recording on this release is from the October 31, 1997 performance. Two releases were made by Ralph America. The original, in 1998, was a limited run of 1200 copies. It was re-released in 2005 in a second run of 1000 copies, with a note on the inside showing that it was a second pressing.

Act 1

Act 2

Black Noise - (1977)

Mixing cold, mechanical instrumentation with the sizzle of keyboards, FM played an irregular style of progressive music that sounded isolated and pleasantly hollow. Even the warmth of Cameron Hawkins voice can't take away the harshness in the sound, which is why this album portrays mood so effectively. "Phasors on Stun" sounds like it's sung from the blackness of space, with piercing laser blasts shooting through the body of the song. "Hours" is a stellar array of synth, drums, and "effects" that musically casts an image of time travel, while "Slaughter in Robot Village" uses glockenspiel, electric violins, and mandolin to illustrate a battle between gigantic metal beasts. Nash the Slash uses his voice and his violins to conjure up a science fiction motif that is convincing through all eight songs. FM's music relies on loose structure and small surges of numerous instruments to create a large sound. Black Noise is a prime example of how well instruments can be used to convey, shape and utilize imagery.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dracula - (1999)

Do not expect scary music for a scary film. Philip Glass' 1999 soundtrack for the 1931 film Dracula is a well-executed piece of work, notably for many of its stylistic choices. There is nothing particularly scary or frightening about the music — the horror and thrill of the project is left to the imagery and drama of the film itself. The music in absolutely beautiful, augmented by the raw, woody sounds of the Kronos Quartet. No refined or reverbed string sounds here; you hear the naked, scratchy sound of a bow on a string all the way through, playing in the interwoven arpeggiated style that is unmistakably Glass. Complex chord structures and dense rhythms permeate the record, making it musically satisfying for both the pedestrian and the sophisticate ear. This will certainly stand out as one of the premiere works in Glass' soundtrack portfolio. (

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zen Guerrilla - (1992)

The rock fusion band Zen Guerrilla is a musical oddity quite appropriate for the Sub Pop genre. Formed in the early '90s in Delaware, Marcus Durant (vocals), Andy Duvall (drums), Carl Home (bass), and Rich Millman (guitar) defined their own musical stylings with blues, rock, and gospel and a rock & roll so real it introduced itself. Playing countless shows across the nation molded a devoted following as well as attention from punk pioneer Jello Biafra. Zen Guerrilla and Biafra met up in 1995 and together he and the band formed a working union that led to the issuing of Zen Guerrilla's 1998 Positronic Raygun and the re-release of the band's EPs Invisible "Liftee" Pad/Gap-Tooth Clown. Trance State in Tongues, Zen Guerrilla's second full-length, followed in 1999. Their early sound was characterized by psychedelic elements, such as delayed guitars and noise washes. Their unique sound gained a growing local following (winning several Philly music awards), however, did not increase marketability. Later, Zen Guerrilla fused blues, rock and gospel to create a sound which could be likened to bands such as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The band released their self-titled CD on Philadelphia-based Compulsiv Records in 1992 and Recorded at the world famous Third Story Recording Studio in Walnut Hill. Soon after, Zen Guerrilla moved to Philadelphia and were regular performers around the city at clubs such as the Kyber Pass Pub. Around this time the band began a heavy touring schedule, which would have them cross the country multiple times through the end of the decade.

Children Of The Night (Bonus Tracks) - (2000)

This is a brilliant repackage of the classic Nash the Slash album, Children of the Night. On the 20th anniversary of the album's release, Nash put together this package, which includes the original album plus several bonus tracks that make this an essential part of any of this artist's collection. Included here is the original (and quite rare) 7" version of the brilliant "Swing Shift (Soixante-Neuf)." This version is melodic and creepy, full of sounds that both fascinate and disturb. Nash's voice never sounded better and it is a flawless song. When he re-recorded it for this release, it seemed to loose a great deal of edge, and now fans can compare the two. He also includes the flexi-disc version of the same song, which is nice to have, as the flex is very difficult to find. It would have been nice if Nash had included the original version of "Dead Man's Curve" (found on the same single as "Swing Shift"), but this is a small criticism. The live tracks are fantastic, and it is amazing to note that Nash is alone on stage making all that carefully orchestrated noise. Also, fans are treated to the previously unreleased "Reactor No. 2" which is an interesting song. The sleeve design is a variation of the original album, and is actually better. More information regarding the songs would have been a nice addition, but again this a minor complaint. Overall a brilliant package. Posted here are the six bonus tracks from the re-release. To get the original ten track album check out my posting from November 24th 2009.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Views / Octopus EP - (2006)

Los Angeles producer Nosaj Thing crafts stately, ethereal synth-based instrumental hip-hop, with influences that range from Boards of Canada and DJ Shadow to Danny Elfman and Erik Satie. An L.A. native, Jason Chung was inspired at an early age by the hip-hop radio stations that the bus driver would play on his way to elementary school, and particularly by the Beat Junkies' turntablism on Power 106. In high school, while delving into the sounds of drum'n'bass and the rave scene and playing quad toms in the school drum line, he figured out how to use his father's old PC to start programming beats of his own. Further along, Chung was motivated to move in more experimental directions by the D.I.Y. rock scene at L.A.'s underground venue The Smell, where he made his live debut as Nosaj Thing in 2004. Through online and in-person networking, on message boards and, eventually, at the more beat-oriented music spot Low End Theory, Chung came into contact with likeminded Angelenos including Flying Lotus, Nobody, Daedelus, and local legends (and personal heroes) like D-Styles and Daddy Kev. Following the self-released Views/Octopus EP in 2006 (whose track "Aquarium" was later used by rapper Kid Cudi as the basis of his "Man on the Moon"), he signed with Kev's Alpha Pup imprint for his full-length debut, Drift, in 2009. Chung has also contributed beats to MCs Busdriver and Nocando, and made remixes for Flying Lotus, Daedelus, Radiohead, and Smell staples Health. (

6 - (2003)

Play it over and over, and you will still find amazing things in Supersilent's 6. The level of unspoken understanding, interplay, and clarity of vision in experimentation is now beyond words. This album was put together from four days of improvisations in the studio. The digipack case doesn't mention the group members to reinforce the idea of a collective effort, but the press release confirms that the lineup has remained the same: Helge Sten (aka Deathprod) on electronics, Ståle Storløkken on keyboards and synthesizers, Jarle Vespestad on drums, and Arve Henriksen on trumpet and electronics. The music follows the ambient path laid down in 5, while adding more textural noise and hypnotic rhythms. Deathprod has selected a captivating set that unfolds delicately, immersing the listener on an hourlong journey. Unrehearsed and improvised as they may be, these pieces sound scripted at the very least, the individual interventions too well timed not to be planned ahead. Henriksen's sparse trumpet calls in "6.2" and his soft singing over light distorted piano in "6.6" provide memorable moments. In the fourth piece, the group finds an irresistible momentum propelled by Vespestad's drumming, the kind of freight-train-to-outer-space drive that should send all members of Godspeed You Black Emperor! back to their bedrooms. Supersilent simply does it better, without the irritating poise. Highly recommended to dreamers, droners, and avant rock lovers. (

The King And Eye - (1989)

The King And Eye consists of a series of Elvis Presley songs strung together with a narration exploring what motivated him throughout his career. Most of the album showed up in the Cube-E tour. This album was the last full-length album The Residents released before entering their "Multimedia Era." Through the perspective of a father telling his children fables about a long dead king and his songs, and a poignant string of narrative interludes - "The Baby King" - the work hints at a darker side of the Elvis mystique and questions the spiritual nature of his reign. The album incisively portrays Elvis's life and work as a misguided abandonment of innocence in favor of a sad yet comedic Oedipal journey. An attempt at fusing song deconstruction, religious parody, and insensate icon worship, with Elvis Presley mixed with Christ mixed with ... well, who knows what? The Residents lunge forth into areas sometimes so obscure that even devoted fans can't quite figure it out.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas - (1996)

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS is an audio play, with backing music, based on Hunter S. Thompson's classic book. It was recorded to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the book's publishing. The musical background includes several classic rock songs referenced by the text. Principal cast includes: Harry Dean Stanton (narrator); Jim Jarmusch (Duke); Maury Chaykin (Gonzo); George Segal (Dr. Bloomquist); Joan Cusack (Lucy); Jann Wenner (Rolling Stone Editor); Todd Snider (Hitchhiker); Harry Shearer (Cop At Flamingo Registration, Executive Director and Police Chief At D.A. Conference, Biker At Mint 400, Lacerda, Dwarf, Sound Equipment Man, Voices Of Nixon and Walter Cronkite); Buck Henry (Desk Clerk); Jimmy Buffett (Cop In Desert). Includes liner notes by Ralph Steadman. Written by Hunter S. Thompson. FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS includes music by Jefferson Airplane ("White Rabbit"), Three Dog Night ("Joy To The World"), Brewer & Shipley ("One Toke Over The Line"), Waddy Wachtel ("Sympathy For The Devil") and Todd Snider. Two years before critics pummeled the 1998 screen version of Hunter S. Thompson's tale of drug madness in Sin City, this audio rendition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas brought the ugly story to life. Fans of the book might prefer this recording to the film since it preserves more of Thompson's high-octane narrative. With Jim Jarmusch and Harry Dean Stanton sharing the Thompson/Raoul Duke role, this CD brings to life some of the book's more shocking scenes, making all too real what was merely amusing on the page. It's smartly done, even bringing in guitarist (and Keith Richards sideman) Waddy Wachtel to recreate "Sympathy for the Devil." But it's no substitute for the book itself.

Blade Runner - (1994)

Arriving 12 years after the release of the film, Vangelis' soundtrack to the 1982 futuristic noir detective thriller Blade Runner is as bleak and electronically chilling as the film itself. By subtly interspersing clips of dialogue and sounds from the film, Vangelis creates haunting soundscapes with whispered subtexts and sweeping revelations, drawing inspiration from Middle Eastern textures and evoking neo-classical structures. Often cold and forlorn, the listener can almost hear the indifferent winds blowing through the neon and metal cityscapes of Los Angeles in 2019. The sultry, saxophone-driven "Love Theme" has since gone on as one of the composer's most recognized pieces and stands alone as one of the few warm refuges on an otherwise darkly cold (but beautiful) score. An unfortunate inclusion of the 1930s-inspired ballad "One More Kiss, Dear" interrupts the futuristic synthesized flow of the album with a muted trumpet and Rudy Vallée-style croon. However well done (and appropriate in the movie), a forlorn love song that sounds as if it is playing on a distant Philco radio in The Waltons' living room jarringly breaks the mood of the album momentarily (although with CD technology, this distraction is easily bypassed). Fans of Ridley Scott's groundbreaking film (as well as those interested in the evolution of electronic music) will warmly take this recording into their plastic-carbide-alloy hearts.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Goal's Beyond - (1970)

After bouncing around on a couple of labels (Douglas/Polydor/Ryko,) the CD reissue of this album ultimately ended up on KnitMedia. The startling thing about this record is that it points the way toward two directions McLaughlin would take in the future — exploring Indian music and the acoustic guitar — and this while he was in the thick of the burgeoning electronic jazz-rock movement. The first half is a John McLaughlin acoustic guitar tour de force, where he thwacks away with his energetic, single-minded intensity on three jazz standards and five originals (including one genuine self-penned classic, "Follow Your Heart") and adds a few percussion effects via overdubbing. The second half is devoted to a pair of marvelously intricate fusions of Indian rhythms and drones called "Peace One" and "Peace Two," with jazz flights from flutist/soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman, a simpatico encounter with future Mahavishnu cohorts Billy Cobham on drums and Jerry Goodman on violin, and Airto blending his sounds seamlessly with the Indian tambura and tabla. Throughout, McLaughlin's acoustic lines faultlessly straddle the line between the subcontinent and jazz, and the ethereal results still hold up beautifully today.

What If Someone Is Watching Their T.V. ? - (2007)

Formed in 2006, New Jersey’s Screaming Females combine scorching guitars with a firmly D.I.Y. approach to create their own brand of indie rock. Mixing equal parts Dinosaur Jr. and Sleater-Kinney, the Brunswick trio of Marissa Paternoster (guitar/vocals), Mike Rickenbacker (bass), and Jarrett Dougherty (drums) strives to embody the spirit of indie rock in its purest form; Screaming Females book their own shows and release their own records to bring their guitar-driven rock to the people. In 2007 the band fired its opening shot, self-releasing its debut full-length, Baby Teeth, as well as the Arm Over Arm/Zoo of Death 7”. The band quickly followed up with its sophomore album, What If Someone Is Watching Their T.V.?, which was self-released and later reissued by Don Giovanni Records. The band focused on collaborative releases in 2008, including a split 7” with Full of Fancy on Let’s Pretend Records and another split 7”, this one consisting of Neil Young covers, with Hunchback. The Females got some more exposure in 2009 after a series of jaw-dropping performances at New York’s CMJ and a tour with Dead Weather. That same year the band made the jump to a label, releasing Power Move through Don Giovanni. (

The Dark Side Of The Moon - (2009)

Just days after the release of Embryonic, the Flaming Lips have revealed that the follow-up is already finished. After making their most challenging album in years, Oklahoma's psychedelic sons have recorded a track-by-track cover of one of the most experimental albums of the 1970s, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. Although the band revealed few details about the project, they confirmed that it was a collaboration with Stardeath and the White Dwarfs, a kindred group from Oklahoma City that includes Lips frontman Wayne Coyne's nephew, Dennis. Coyne has designed album covers for the young band, who are accompanying the Flaming Lips on tour. Besides these psyched-out young bucks, Coyne said Henry Rollins and Peaches both appear on the Lips' The Dark Side of the Moon. No release date has been announced, though a spokesperson said the album would "initially" be an iTunes-only release (not any longer). Pink Floyd's 1973 album probably needs no introduction. From its production techniques to its artwork, The Dark Side of the Moon has inspired a thousand ambitious, splendid, weird and catchy albums to get stoned to. And while Coyne said Flaming Lips fans have given them carte blanche to "go somewhere where no other band could go, and come back and tell us what it was like", this record isn't exactly alien territory. The Dark Side of the Moon has sold about 50m copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful rock albums of all time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

EP 1 & EP 2 - (2008,2009)
The Hauntologists’ EP 1 began life as an anonymous slab of vinyl, one of many such releases floating around Berlin, only this came in a gorgeous handmade sleeve adorned with silkscreened images of African exotica, and the loopy analogue rhythms struck a chord with the likes of Marcel Dettmann and Ryan Elliot. No doubt Villalobos and the Cadenza crowd too, as there’s a similarly stringy aesthetic at work, kind of a tribal-minimal meets Krautrock linearity, with a limber, live feel. Originally thought to be the work of Omar S or Sleeparchive – they’re that idiosynchratic – they were soon owned up to by veteran techno periphary haunters Jay Ahern (Add Noise) and Stefan Schneider (Kreidler, To Rococo Rot, Mapstation).
Schneider’s hand seems obvious, the rustic bleeps and shakers of myriad To Rococo Rot and Mapstation tracks all over these eight tools, but with clearly defined techno rhythms and more prominent basslines. Drums and bass remain steady, unwavering even, throughout, with mere handfuls of decorative elements gradually added for development. EP 1 is the more monochromatic, basic rhythms and basslines peppered with claves, warm pings and gently buzzing pads, all of which combine to create a bouncy, joyously awkward funk. The Hard Wax-supported EP 2 is rhythmically tighter, and more varied – there’s a jittery, glitchy nervousness to the drums on ‘A1′, and the subterranean dankness of ‘B1′ could almost be on Sahko. Hauntologists demonstrate that in the right, rickety hands less can still be more. (
EP 1
EP 2

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