Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Has it been a year already? Well today it is and a good year for Constantinople it was. When I first came up with the idea of starting this blog I never thought that a year would go by with a continued interest in keeping things going on here but I made it and I gotta say that it was fun posting the music that for the most part means so much to me. True, there are so many great music blogs to browse on the internet and I wanna thank all the people who discovered this blog and kept coming back to it day after day.....it really means alot to me and makes me feel like I am not wasting my time. Special thanks go out to all the other blogs who liked what I was doing enough to add Constantinople to their lists of "blogs to check out", it very much helped in getting recognized. Also, I noticed that during the year 33 different people became followers to the blog...not that bad !! Let's keep that going strong. All the posting comments have been special as well. It would be nice to have more but I can't complain as it is the thought matters the most. A shout out also must go to my boy Fence Wilson who has been the most consistant in posting comments.....most of which have been entertaining. Again, thank you to all !!! And now....Constantinople continues.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The ten album covers to the left do not particularly represent some kind of mega-posting of sorts. Those ten albums represent the fact that as of tomorrow (8/31/10) Constantinople will be one year old and to celebrate I decided to re-post the top 10 most downloaded albums from since this blog started. Several different genres are present here and I must say that I was surprised at the results. All you Constantinople-ites have an eclectic taste in music and....well what do ya know? there are two Residents albums in the top ten. So many other great albums came close to making this list but there can only be ten! And now I bring you the highlights (if you will) from the first year of Constantinople. Enjoy !!!

1. THE RESIDENTS - Meet The Residents

2. THE ORB - The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld

3. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART - Trout Mask Replica


5. MASSIVE ATTACK - Heligoland

6. SCREAMING FEMALES - What If Someone Is Watching Their T.V. ?

7. THE BIG PINK - A Brief History of Love

8. THE RESIDENTS - The Third Reich 'N Roll

9. PSYCHIC TV - Allegory And Self

10. TEDDYBEARS - Soft Machine

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Smoke 'n' Breu - (2002)

Comedian Jim Breuer is best-known for his more memorable characters and impressions on Saturday Night Live as well as his portrayal of the perpetually stoned Brian in the cult comedy hit Half Baked. Before both of these incarnations he was a successful standup comedian with an open love of partying and 1980s heavy metal music. These loves are fully represented on his CD Smoke and Breu, with bits about AC/DC, hallucinogenic drugs, and drinking. The CD also offers insights into his three years on SNL with stories about meeting Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro, experiences with fellow SNL actor Norm MacDonald, and the origins of his most famous character, Goat Boy. The entire performance is accompanied by a rock band made up of some of Breuer's childhood friends, which augments many of the jokes and allows the comic to display his uncanny ability to imitate the best heavy metal singers, including AC/DC's Brian Johnson. If there is anything lacking in the recording, it is that there are some gaps where Breuer is obviously performing more physical and visual comedy. It is obvious that the recording was culled from a performance originally staged for television and was simply adapted for this recording, but overall the CD satisfies both the casual fan and the most dedicated Jim Breuer follower. (allmusic.com)


Dry - (1992)

Polly Jean Harvey arrives fully formed as a songwriter on PJ Harvey's debut album, Dry. Borrowing its primitive attack from post-punk guitar rock and its form from the blues, Dry is a forceful collection of brutally emotional songs, highlighted by Harvey's deft lyricism and startling voice, as well as her trio's muscular sound. Her voice makes each song sound like it was an exposed nerve, but her lyrics aren't quite that simple. Shaded with metaphors and the occasional biblical allusion, Dry is essentially an assault on feminine conventions and expectations, and while there are layers of dark humor, they aren't particularly evident, since Harvey's singing is shockingly raw. Her vocals are perfectly complemented by the trio's ferocious pounding, which makes even the slow ballads sound like exercises in controlled fury. And that's the key to Dry: the songs, which are often surprisingly catchy — "Dress" and "Sheela-Na-Gig" both have strong hooks — are as muscular and forceful as the band's delivery, making the album a vibrant and fully realized debut.


Macha - (1998)

The first album on which Athens, GA band Macha meld some of the dynamics of rock music with not just traditional Indonesian instruments but traditional gamelan music as well, is an unequivocably successful genetic mutation unlike any previously attempted in the American rock lexicon. It is not customary for a first attempt at such an exotic hybrid to manifest itself in such an accomplished way, but Macha have not simply cross-hatched styles on their eponymous debut album, they have infiltrated and melded their melodies with a tight grasp on the spirit of gamelan and a first-hand proficiency on the Javanese, Sumatran, and Nepalese instruments that they utilize. That is because, rather than simply being inspired by gamelan from a safe distance, multi-instrumentalists Josh McKay and Kai Riedl traveled to Indonesia on a couple of occasions to absorb the actual music as played by Indonesian musicians on the streets and in the dives from Western Java to Northern Bali. (A bonus disc's worth of the recordings they made there was included with a limited number of the CDs.) In addition to bringing back a load of instruments, the two brought back a legitimate love and appreciation for the music and a unique vision on how to make use of it. At this early stage in the band's development, the hybridization of the two musics was not yet absolute. On some songs, the gamelan instruments do not quite sink fully into the texture of the musical soundscape and on others are only cursorily present. Occasionally the rock elements on Macha seem to win out in the head-to-head-battle of the musical ingredients — "Cat Wants to Be Dog" has a slinky Love & Rockets feel to the verses, and Macha goes vaguely Stereolab-ish on parts of "Capital City" — but that is not at all a point of criticism. No matter how smoothly gamelan is or is not absorbed into the music — and on songs such as "When They First Saw the Floating World," "The Buddha Nature," "Double Life," and "Sama Sama," the band have already hit upon the perfect confluence of styles — the songs themselves are fabulous, and instruments such as Sumatran gongs and Nepalese Shawm chime and weave around the seductive, alien-sounding melodies. Macha is not quite consistent but it is consistently driving, expressive, and spiritually stimulating, even if it is not explicitely spiritually directed. In other words, there is a real sense of reaching toward transcendence even if the band did not exactly have that purpose in mind for the music when they created it. (allmusic.com)


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Har-Larious - (2005)

Artist, actor, musician, and — believe it or not — children's author Harland Williams can definitely be Har-Larious, but it takes awhile for him to get there on his Comedy Central debut. He's simply telling jokes at the beginning of this St. Louis-sourced show and they're hit or miss, mostly hit but sometimes uncomfortably miss. He seems tripped-up by the non-reaction some of his jokes receive, but after a couple hit the target, he relaxes and lets loose his inner Harland. This means stringing together nonsensical words to explain improbable situations or interacting with the audience in an acerbic way that suggests Don Rickles on acid. The fact that the whole front row seems to work at the same Arbys sets Williams off on a funny bit that displays his underexposed skills at improv. His bit on the "Al Quedas" attacking buildings with blimps is very funny, but like a whole lot of Har-Larious, seeing the chin-less wonder deliver it would be even better. Mitch Hedberg and Dane Cook got the deluxe treatment from Comedy Central with loaded CD/DVD combos being released before Williams' mere CD. It's a shame, since the audience's enthusiastic laughter at what are just pauses on-disc must mean the rubbery one is doing the facial contortions and awkward movements that play no small part in his rise to cult fame. As it is, Har-Larious is beneficial to the fan since his earlier, self-released albums are hard to come by. (allmusic.com)


Burn, Berlin, Burn - (1997)

This American compilation of the group's first two import-only albums — including five tracks from 1995's Delete Yourself and nine from 1997's The Future of War — offers a fair selection of songs, including the extreme noise terror of "Deutschland (Has Gotta Die)" and "Into the Riot." If there is one drawback, it's that Burn, Berlin, Burn lacks the coherence and flow of Atari Teenage Riot's proper albums. Still, in lieu of forking over 50 dollars for the imports, it's a much wiser purchase.


The Three E.P.'s - (1998)

That Oasis and Radiohead, the two biggest names in U.K. rock during the '90s, separately made claims in 1999 about creating a "Beta Band record" (even though neither band actually did) speaks volumes about the impact of The 3 E.P.'s. With reference points literally all across the map, the Beta Band still managed a sound that was startlingly fresh, broadly appealing to fans of jam bands, indie rock, electronica, and Brit-pop, which is no small feat in and of itself. Rather than a full-length debut, per se, The 3 E.P.'s is, as the name suggests, a collection of three limited-edition EPs which were released between 1997 and 1998 on the U.K. indie Regal Records. As such, the songs display an off-the-cuff charm which is as refreshing as it is unforced, revealing a natural progression by the band from humble folk/indie rock beginnings ("Dry the Rain," made famous in a brilliant scene in 2000's High Fidelity) to full-out psychedelic pop endings ("Needles in My Eye"). Throughout The 3 E.P.'s, rather than employing the typical verse-chorus-verse song structure exhausted by '90s alternative rock, the Beta Band successfully mines Krautrock, the Canterbury Scene, hip-hop drum loops, and even '70s funk and soul to build their songs around infectious beats, grooves, and melodies. And while many of the songs cause instant head-bobbing (witness High Fidelity), they are also helped along by Stephen Mason's alternately mantra-like and free-association vocal lines, which also manage to display a trace of sadness and introspection amid hippie-ish come-together sentiments. Despite a couple of experimental clunkers (the overly long instrumental "Monolith" and the rap during "The House Song"), it is precisely the Beta Band's skill at juxtaposition which prevents The 3 E.P.'s in being merely an exercise in met expectations (like the vast majority of '90s alternative rock). Although much of the album's popularity stemmed from its contrast with the tedious state of music upon its release, The 3 E.P.'s indeed transcends on many levels. Only a band without anything to lose or gain could create music like this, and in the end eclecticism has and will rarely sound better. (allmusic.com)


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Comedy For Gracious Living - (1996)

The State is a 1990's sketch comedy that ran on MTV written by and starring the New York-based sketch group of the same name. Though it ran for only three seasons, it quickly achieved a cult following and was one of the best sketch shows of the decade. Though it aired on MTV, the show typically avoided obvious pop culture parody, instead focusing on absurdity. Sketches were often linked together with some kind of connecting piece, a la Monty Python. Many of the members have gone on to create popular comedy shows and films since the group stopped working together in the late 1990s. After three seasons, major networks began courting The State for a Saturday night slot against Saturday Night Live. The group eventually agreed to move to CBS for a series of specials that could eventually become a series. The last show on MTV aired in July of 1995. The group also recorded a comedy album of all new material in early 1996 called Comedy for Gracious Living. It was shelved by Warner Bros. for unknown reasons and has never been released. Well.....here it is!


Come To Daddy - (1997)

Come to Daddy has been interpreted by some as Richard D. James' sly send-up of the Prodigy's massive hit "Firestarter." If that's the case, it only goes to show how clever the Aphex Twin really is. Built around an intense drum loop and a deliriously demented, booming voice yelling "Come to Daddy!," the track could be the biggest sonic assault James has ever constructed, and even with the underlying menace, it remains one of his most accessible and memorable songs. The EP is filled out with several "Come to Daddy" remixes that reveal subtleties in the main track, plus a few tracks like "Flim" that show Aphex still capable of the gorgeous, fragile melodies of his early ambient work.


*** 7" SINGLE ***
Mob Rules / The Trooper - (2000)


Oh Mummy Oh Daddy - (1976,2010)

"Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! can't you see that it's true, What the Beatles did to me I love Lucy did to you"was a special show put on for the fifth anniversary of Rather Ripped Records on June 7th, 1976. The Residents were joined by Snakefinger, Arf and Omega, Peggy Honeydew, Zeibak and others in this live Fingerprince era performance at the Longbranch Saloon in Berkeley California. The Residents appeared as mummies and Snakefinger dressed as a giant chicken. Insanity ruled. This is the first release of the complete unedited show.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

These Are Jokes - (2006)

Taking Steven Wright's style of letting the absurdist one-liners fly, standup whiz kid Demetri Martin puts an indie spin on Wright's shtick and then breaks the act up with some weird, delicate songs featuring Glockenspiel, guitar, and synth. Mostly straight live standup with a couple studio concoctions tacked on the end, the audio portion of These Are Jokes is hilarious with Martin effortlessly delivering endless streams of strangeness and irreverence while occasionally referencing the recording of his debut CD to the audience with such giddy pride you just want to pinch his cheek. The way Martin sees it, life vests protect you from drowning, bulletproof vests protect you from getting shot, and sweater vests protect you from pretty girls. Swimming is interesting because "sometimes you do it for fun, while other times you do it to not die." The great song "Sames and Opposites" offers "A squirrel is the same as a can/When there's a B.B. gun in my hand" while Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte shows up for some crazy scatting and ridiculous vocal vamping on "Personal Information Waltz." The studio tracks at the end are bizarre — more Residents than They Might Be Giants bizarre. (allmusic.com)


Can't Help It - (2008)

Copter’s 2nd album proper delves much further into their soul roots. Can’t Help It!‘ is 12 tracks that owe much more to Stax and Wilson Pickett than In The Red and Blues Explosion but the garage punk is still evident. They come from Mars via Birmingham, dress in uniforms, have a fully functioning android that takes the lead on some songs and a preacher cum front man who spends most of his time in the audience or on top of the speakers. An album by the house band for every good house party… kick off them shoes and get soulful!


Cure For Pain - (1993)

With their cult following growing, Morphine expanded their audience even further with their exceptional 1994 sophomore effort, Cure for Pain. Whereas their debut, Good, was intriguing yet not entirely consistent, Cure for Pain more than delivered. The songwriting was stronger and more succinct this time around, while new drummer Billy Conway made his recording debut with the trio (replacing Jerome Deupree). Like the debut, most of the material shifts between depressed and upbeat, with a few cacophonic rockers thrown in between. Such selections as "Buena," "I'm Free Now," "All Wrong," "Candy," "Thursday," "In Spite of Me" (one of the few tracks to contain six-string guitar), "Let's Take a Trip Together," "Sheila," and the title track are all certifiable Morphine classics. And again, Mark Sandman's two-string slide bass and Dana Colley's sax work help create impressive atmospherics throughout the album. Cure for Pain was unquestionably one of the best and most cutting-edge rock releases of the '90s. (allmusic.com)


Friday, August 20, 2010

Think Tank - (1998)

For the uninitiated, Henry Rollins may be a puzzling dichotomy at best. Perhaps best known for his aggro-punk musical rantings and bulging tattoos, Rollins contains a very opposite side within his imposing frame. On this two-disc, live album, which was recorded on opposite ends of the Earth, Rollins lets both sides loose on the ears and minds of his devoted fans and those who may want to enter his maddened world. Clever, sharp, and brutally honest, Rollins has the self-control of a dormant volcano and sets his vocal lava upon the people and places that make our lives a little more aggravating. And no one is safe! From "Bubba" Clinton to Kenneth Starr, David Hasselhoff to Michael "Bolt-head" Bolton, husbands and wives, and the cast of Friends, everybody gets a taste of Rollins' right-minded rage. Along the way, he brings his two sides together by dipping into his musical realm as well. From the opening singalong and the renaming of El Niño as "The First Four Black Sabbath Albums," to the closing lounge lizard rendition of the Rollins Band's appropriately two-faced shredder "Liar," Rollins realizes his nefarious talents and alternative icon status and uses them to a combined effect which is simultaneously duplicitous and unifying, demonstrating his command of words and emotions to open our eyes and ears more than they may want to be. Dangerously intelligent commentary.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Private Press - (2002)

Five years on from his breakout Endtroducing..., hip-hop's reigning recluse showed he still had plenty of tricks up his sleeve — as well as many more rare grooves left for sampling. Shadow had kept a low recording profile during past years, putting out only a few mix sets alongside a pair of collaborations (Psyence Fiction by UNKLE and Quannum Spectrum). That lack of product actually helps The Private Press display just how good a producer he is; the depth of his production sense and the breadth of his stylistic palette prove just as astonishing the second time out. His style is definitely still recognizable, right from the start; "Fixed Income" and "Giving Up the Ghost" carefully layer wistful-sounding string arrangements overtop cavernous David Axelrod breaks (the latter a bit reminiscent of "Midnight in a Perfect World" from Endtroducing...). From there, though, DJ Shadow seldom treads the same path twice, switching from strutting disco breaks ("Walkie Talkie") to melancholy '60s pop that sounds like the second coming of Procol Harum ("Six Days"). "Right Thing/GDMFSOB" is pure breakers revenge, boasting accelerating, echoey electro breakbeats and enough confidence to recycle Leonard Nimoy's "pure energy" sample and make it work. Later, Shadow turns to pure aggro for the hilarious road-rage comedy of "Mashin' on the Motorway" (with Lateef the Truth Speaker behind the wheel), then summons the conceptual calm of a David Axelrod classic on the very next track with solo piano and a vocal repeating Bible text. Fans may have grown impatient waiting almost six years for the second DJ Shadow LP, but a classic like The Private Press could last at least that long, and maybe longer. (allmusic.com)


Flight Of The Conchords - (2008)

Taking the torch from Tenacious D and then taking 14 songs from the first season of their HBO series (plus a 15-second outro), Flight of the Conchords' first full-length release for Sub Pop is a strong serving of songs from the dynamic deadpan duo. Unfortunately, since the show included a few songs per episode, 11 of the songs didn't make it past the cutting-room floor, and gems like "If You're Into It," "I'm Not Crying," and "Sello Tape" got the axe, along with the character dedications and motivations "Cheer Up, Murray," "Song for Sally," and "Bret, You Got It Going On." It's forgivable, though; a double-disc set of every song would have been overkill, and most of the favorites make the cut on the CD. Fans still get the neo-soul ballad "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)," the hip-hop attempt "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymnocerous," the psychedelic acid trip "Prince of Parties," the dancehall anthem "Boom," and the French pop lullaby "Foux du Fafa." While New Zealander dry humor and matter-of-fact delivery are huge parts of the duo's allure, their adherence to their own style within a variety of genres is the icing on the cake, and to quote Bret's reaction to the stranger who is denied while trying to sell a cake at a pawn shop, "It's a beautiful cake." With each song, they expand their range, paying homage with the strictest attention to details only music geeks will appreciate, be it the Marvin Gaye "What's Going On" instrumentation in "Think About It," the Radiohead "Fitter Happier" vocal impersonations in "Robot," the Pet Shop Boys "West End Girls" similarities in "Inner City Pressure," or the many, many faces of David Bowie in "Bowie." Versatility is their strength, and they show it off well. If they weren't great songwriters, lines like "Sometimes my lyrics are sexist/But you lovely bitches and hoes should know I'm trying to correct this" and "The manager Bevin tries to abuse me/Hey man, I just want some Muesli" might provide short-term laughs, but the music is clever and catchy enough to give it merit for repeated listens. (allmusic.com)


"Mystery Train" Original Soundtrack Recording - (1989)

This is the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's excellent film about various intersecting characters in the underbelly of Memphis. Most of Lurie's compositions are delicate miniatures built around spare, reverbed guitar lines that evoke a haunted, late-night Delta vista. There are much better tasters of either Memphis rock-soul or John Lurie, but for someone who just wants a bit of the flavor of the movie and isn't worried about building serious collections, it's not bad at all. In this posting you will find just the John Lurie songs from the soundtrack.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Evol - (1986)

Sonic Youth made their first moves toward rock with EVOL, a stunningly fluent mixture of avant-garde instrumentation and subversions of rock & roll. The band benefits greatly from the addition of structure, which gives its aural experiments a firm grounding, but the addition of drummer Steve Shelley is essential to the group's new, dangerous edge. With the added propulsion, the fearless rush of "Expressway to Yr Skull" (aka "Madonna, Sean and Me") and the near-pop of "Green Light" are undeniably powerful as are the eerie textures of "Shadow of a Doubt."


Thursday, August 12, 2010

God Is A Twelve Year Old Boy With Asperger's - (2009)

Absurdist standup Eugene Mirman was a leading light of the New York City alternative comedy scene, earning a cult following in indie rock circles for his performances in support of bands including Yo La Tengo, the Shins, and Modest Mouse. Born in the Soviet Union in 1974, Mirman was four years old when his family immigrated to the U.S., settling in Boston. After graduating from Hampshire College, where he developed his own major in comedy, Mirman launched his standup career at small Boston venues like the Green Street Grill before relocating to New York City in 2000. One of the first comedians to embrace the Internet as a new creative platform, he soon attracted national attention for his website eugenemirman.com, home to the Marvelous Crooning Child (an animated image of a toddler-age Mirman singing classic rock favorites) as well as many of his short films. Multimedia clips also emerged as a critical element of Mirman's stage act, and his 2004 debut album, The Absurd Nightclub Comedy of Eugene Mirman, was released as a CD/DVD package. Like many standups of his generation, Mirman eschewed traditional comedy venues in favor of indie rock clubs, regularly opening for musical acts as well as the Stella troupe. With Bobby Tisdale and Holly Schlesinger, he also produced the weekly alt-comedy variety showcase "Invite Them Up," and in the spring of 2006 released his first Sub Pop effort, En Garde, Society! His second release for the label, God Is a Twelve Year Old Boy with Asperger's, followed in 2009. (allmusic.com)


Orbus Terrarum - (1995)

The perfect response to a music-scene swamped by what Paterson himself called "lame ambient noodling for seventy minutes," Orbus Terrarum brings the mothership back to earth for a collision with some surprisingly harsh percussion and noisy synth. The melodies and dub lines of previous Orb recordings are still in the mix, and the esoteric bent of Pomme Fritz is muted somewhat. Orbus Terrarum is definitely not the place to start, but it's still a worthy successor to U.F.Orb. The final track "Slug Dub" is an ambient epic with vocal samples taken from a children's story.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Way We Were - (1998)

This Big Apple trio has pulled off a rare and commendable feat. The Way We Were is an example of the seldom-heard complex pop/rock record. The intricacy comes in because a gamut of styles and timbre are successfully arranged as a mosaic impression of the current modern music vernacular. Funk from the '70s (à la George Clinton and Sly Stone), the nascent forms of college rock (Pixies, R.E.M., etc.), and art pop like the B-52's are some referents that become tiles in this harmonious collage. Guitar led, Babe the Blue Ox uses the variety of two vocalists (guitarist Tim Thomas and bassist Rose Thomson). Thomas alternately sings a phrase and snaps out a verse. Thomson mollifies with a naturally dulcet lyric. Their cosmopolitan background produces an album that never sleeps and is densely populated, not just with hooks but approaches. The Way We Were can be listened to repeatedly in expectation of new discoveries.


Jesus Is Magic - (2006)

Comedian and actress Sarah Silverman got her professional start on the cast of Saturday Night Live during the early '90s and later as a featured performer on the groundbreaking show Mr. Show with Bob and David. This platform enabled Silverman to book high-profile gigs for her standup comedy career, along with leading to smaller roles on TV and various movies. In 2005, Silverman's live act was caught in Jesus Is Magic, a no-holds-barred movie featuring Silverman at her rawest, covering every imaginable taboo and pushing the idea of blue humor to its fullest possible limits. A soundtrack of the movie was released in 2006, featuring excerpts from the movie and songs she wrote with Sifl and Olly creator Liam Lynch. A movie starring Sarah Silverman (that silver-tongued genius who makes other female comedians blush with modesty), Bob Odenkirk, and Brian Posehn sounds like a sure-fire thing, especially with some songs written by Liam Lynch, co-creator of the genius Sifl & Olly TV show that MTV so disgracefully canceled. But the truth is, Jesus Is Magic works best when it's just Sarah on-stage alone. The songs sometimes pale when compared with the potency of Silverman's standup delivery, and the soundtrack suffers from erratic shifts in tone and momentum throughout. Sometimes the jokes don't translate well without the visuals, and then there are other moments during Silverman's standup that are just downright raunchy and effective. If you've never heard her standup before, brace yourself. This is just as blue as humor can get without being downright awful and offensive merely for the sake of being offensive. (allmusic.com)


Whiteout - (2000)

It's difficult to consider Boss Hog without invoking the name of Jon Spencer. Not only is the Blues Explosion leader a member of Boss Hog, but he's also married to Boss Hog leader Christina Martinez, so his overwrought post-modern downtown, white-boy blues-funk is always lurking just around the corner. To her credit, on Whiteout Martinez keeps the dude at bay by taking the aesthetic helm (taking bass player Jens Jurgensen, drummer Hollis Queens, and keyboardist Mark Boyce along for the ride, too). The ten cuts that comprise this, Boss Hog's sixth album, are obviously her vessel. Don't be fooled by the dreamy atmospherics, the sultry vocal ruminations, or the awkwardly funky new romantic synth beats; she's painting the picture of garage punk and new wave girl groups as refracted through a 21st century looking glass. So, while it's occasionally as cheesy as Human League or as awkwardly skittish as the Rezillos, Whiteout ultimately finds Boss Hog able to manipulate the best of these associations to its benefit and remain as smoldering and funky as a hot NYC August night. And, while past recorded excursions have been hit or miss scattered affairs, Whiteout is a cohesive sonic effort that manages to keep its sneer without resorting to too many of Spencer's goofball faux-Elvis machismo antics. Christina Martinez has broken the indie rock rules again. (allmusic.com)


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thrash - (1999)

Nash's first complete album since 1985's American Band-Ages, and his first album of all original songs since 1983's brilliant And You Thought You Were Normal (this CD features a new recording of "Vincent's Crows" from that album). And this CD does not disappoint; if anything, Nash has improved with age. Still essentially a solo artist, Nash collaborated with a couple of lyricists for this outing, and the result is brilliant. Nash continues to write his own unique brand of music, which is still difficult to categorize — rock, dance, ambient, and electronic all mixed together to form a new sound. The songs are full of classic Nash violin solos, and his voice has never sounded better. The music seems to be a bit harder, especially in the percussion sounds, and noisier than one is used to hearing from Nash. And how many artists can use the scream of a large cat (not identified, although it sounds like a panther) to effect in a rock song? But again it works. At the same time, Nash's gentler side is seen in the beautiful, sadly touching "I'll Wait for You." Fans of his music should not be disappointed with this outing, and although the music is somewhat eclectic, adventurous music fans will enjoy this CD. A brief warning: as with most of Nash's output, some of the music is unsettling and downright scary at points ("Theory of the Black Hole"); however, this does not detract from the brilliance of the work.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Yellow Discipline - (2003)

Known for his aggressive style, his love of controversial subjects, and his hatred of Derek Jeter, comedian Jim Norton has earned a fanatical following thanks to his busy touring schedule and hilarious contributions to the Opie & Anthony radio show. Raised in suburban New Jersey, Norton fell in love with the work of Richard Pryor at the age of 12. A normal childhood turned into turbulent teen years with Norton dealing with low self-esteem, alcohol abuse, and eventually a successful stint in rehab. He hit the standup circuit in 1989 and met comic Jim Florentine a year later. The two would become friends and roommates, and would tour together for several years while both were pursuing careers in show business. Norton's big break came in 1999 when he became a frequent guest on the nationally syndicated Opie & Anthony radio show. He would officially join the O&A crew five years later as the show was making the jump to XM Satellite Radio. Appearances on television as a Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn panelist and a co-star on Louis C.K.'s HBO series Lucky Louie led to Norton landing his own one-hour HBO special, Monster Rain, which aired in 2007. That same year he released his first book, the autobiographical collection of essays Happy Endings: The Tales of a Meaty-Breasted Zilch.


Scattered, Smothered And Covered - (1995)

Named after a dish at American roadside restaurant Waffle House, Unsane's third full-length stripped down and sharpened the band's signature minor-key noise attack, utilizing decidedly more rock 4/4 rhythms. What emerges is a collection of songs that, although as aggressive and drill press-pummeling as anything else in the band's oeuvre, benefits from the breathing space afforded by Vinny Signorelli's heavy one-two kick-snare punch. Indeed Signorelli's tasteful, economically powerful drumming is the centerpiece of this release. With that backbone firmly installed, Chris Spencer's overdriven Telecaster and vocals ring out like shotgun blasts. While the band's earlier material often suffered from poor production, engineer Tim Mac's facility in gaining instrument separation — while maintaining the band's sewer-raw Sturm und Drang — provided the adrenaline injection Unsane had needed in the studio for years. Maintaining a consistent cover art aesthetic, Scattered... shows a recently bludgeoned man laying on a mattress next to a ball peen hammer, the carnage rendered just this side of tasteful by a well-placed pillow. This is a punishing, but ultimately tuneful album, realistic in subject matter, as engaging as it is abrasive. With the video for the song "Scrape" — featuring a montage of particularly nasty skateboarding accidents — entering MTV's heavy rotation and remaining for over two months, Scattered, Smothered, & Covered was Unsane's most successful, and sonically rewarding, album.


Keelhaul II - (2002)

Imagine if the Melvins got together with Until Your Heart Stops-era Cave-In and cut an album with the members of Neurosis, then maybe you might have something as wholly unique as Cleveland's Keelhaul. Molasses-filled obtuse rhythms, floating angular Cave-In lead guita, and all the succinctness a band such as Neurosis brings to the table generates II, a tractor-pulling semi-truck accident in the making. Taking the tender philosophies of the groove to transcendent levels, the band drips with unmatched sludgy violence. The 45-second grind of "Unwound" is a friction-filled Ford V-12 engine of sublime madness — thick and gory, just the way we want it. "360" sounds like someone's first day of combat on the Eastern Front of WWII, as percussive bullets drop bodies to the ground, while soldiers scurry through thick slabs of muddy death on route to dive-bomb guitars and screaming generals, demanding glorified sacrifice. As the song gels to a near-standstill, so does the listener's awareness of the violence surrounding them. Then suddenly, the Discharge-inspired crustiness of "Some Day Some Other Place" explodes into disharmonic perspective before taking us into the instrumental dirge, "New Void." Eyehategod, the Melvins, and even touches of Badmotorfinger Soundgarden meet to spin a venomous web of sludgecore glory. Drummer Scharf takes the same approach on "Practicing," a cymbal guided doom missile that crushes dreams and eardrums alike. His loose, cantankerous style firmly places him at the peak of this sometimes overtly sloppy genre. "39f" sounds like a hybrid of a Neurosis version of a leftover Entombed "Clandestine" outtake. Complete with crash vocals, Nicke-styled drumming, esoteric atmosphere, and down-tuned groove-sniffing guitars, the experiment is a full success. Closer "LWM" is a Southern rock jam track (these guys are from Cleveland?) full of enough piss and vinegar to drop a moonshine-swigging mountain man. Pure masterful genius is one way to describe Keelhaul. (allmusic.com)


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lactating Purple - (1991)

More lineup changes (this time around it's bassist Paul Kirk, drummer Paul Della Pelle, and synth person Z Silver) but as to be expected the same general modus operandi from Creed; anyone not convinced by his art won't be swayed here, anyone who loves it will enjoy this. Still, compared to his earliest solo efforts, the half-hour long Purple is a touch more run-of-the-mill; there's nothing as distinct as Rey Washam's killer drumming on Boxing the Clown or Jack Endino's solid production for The Last Laugh on this self-produced effort. When everything connects, though, it's more spaced-out/weirded-out goods from the master of such things. "Spider" is one of his best vocals (as opposed to simply being a guitar showcase), revisiting the low rumbles of "Boris the Spider" with an even more threatening edge. Sometimes the notable layering of maximum sound achieves new levels even for Creed, with everything notably overloading on "Ub the Wall." Other times it's more straightforward drug-tempo freakouts like "Modular Green," which does the launched-into-the-void approach pretty darn well, slowly fading away into squeals and shades of feedback and fuzz. "Flying Through the Either" shows what can happen when Creed applies a little restraint, most of the track consisting of an extended, generally lighter in feeling solo than many of his more explosive blasts of sludge. "The Radiated," meanwhile, is full-on hero-prog-rock epic fun that isn't as ridiculous as it sounds thanks as always to Creed's guitar skills (and the fact that it's barely two minutes long, as well). The good points throughout Lactating don't fully measure up to a distinct album in the end, though, so those looking for a good starting place for Creed would want to search elsewhere. Dyed-in-the-wool fans will happily embrace this without regret.


Issue Were Here - (1999)

Standup comedian Arj Barker is co-writer of the off-Broadway show the Marijuana-Logues and a regular on the HBO sitcom Flight of the Conchords. Born Arjun Singh and raised in San Anselmo, CA, Arj originally tried performing standup comedy on a dare. Falling in love with it, he became a regular on the West Coast comedy circuit and toured the U.K. and Australia before his breakthrough came in 1997 with an appearance on the Comedy Central show Premium Blend. Arj became a frequent guest of the late-night talk show circuit soon after, and released his debut comedy album, Issue Were Here, in 1999. His own Comedy Central Presents episode aired a year later, and then in 2004 came the off-Broadway premiere of the Marijuana-Logues, a parody of the Vagina Monologues Arj had written with Doug Benson and Tony Camin. In 2007, he joined the cast of the Flight of the Conchords television series, playing the Conchords’ American friend Devjeet "Dave" Mohumbhai. Three years later, he signed with the Warner Bros. record label and released his second album, LYAO. (allmusic.com)


Invisible "Liftee" Pad EP - (1996)

Invisible "Liftee" Pad, helps set down the group's future distorto-psych-punk blues template with the likes of "Chicken Scratch," "Slip Knot" and "Dirty Jewel" — all of them pushed to the limits of chaos by Marcus Durant's alternating vocal and harmonica wails. By contrast, "Wee Wee Hours" is a relatively clean-cut rockabilly number, and "Tin Can" a tipsy shuffle that eventually explodes into more unrestrained mayhem punctuated by slide guitars.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Chewed Up - (2008)

By 2008 and the release of his first widely available CD, standup comedian Louis CK had already earned a loyal following through steady touring, regular appearances with morning shock jocks, a short-lived cable television sitcom, plus plenty of cable television specials. Chewed Up, the CD, is sourced from one of these specials and like so many other releases of its kind, shows little regard for the album format. None of the sight jokes are edited out, and the television special's long, mostly silent intro is left in for some reason. The performance itself is a different story. Chewed Up is on par with the comedian's early work, recovering after the slight dip he took with 2007's special Shameless. Save some unfunny talk about racial slurs that just can't find their mark, the set is sharp as it transitions from CK's unfiltered, unflattering talk about his kids ("buckets of disease that live in the house") to his even less flattering talk about growing old and the horrible effect it's having on his nether regions. Simple pleasures like the drippy "Cinnabon" ("a six-foot high, cinnamon swirled cake made for one sad fat man") and Walgreens ("a depressing drug store that sells sweatpants and vodka") are explored, and in a welcome, last ditch effort to make this a little more than just an audio rip of the DVD, three very funny outtake bits are added as bonus tracks.


Happy The Man - (1977)

Though it met with little commercial success, Happy the Man's 1977 debut quickly became a cult sensation with fans of prog rock. It's easy to see why: their sound combines a number of diverse influences in a distinctive manner, and their music is as complex and meticulously arranged as any prog album one cares to mention. Unlike some popular prog acts, Happy the Man does not allow one instrument to take center stage or allow relentless soloing to dominate the songs. Instead, the focus is on complex interplay between the group's players: compositions like "Knee Bitten Nymphs In Limbo" and "Stumpy Meets the Firecracker in Stencil Forest" are built on the kind of mathematically complex yet playful instrumental interplay that is normally associated with Frank Zappa's most complex work. Elsewhere, the group slows down the instrumental pyrotechnics to show off a grasp of melody; the best example is "Starborne," which starts off with moody washes of Tangerine Dream-style synthesizer and builds to a dramatic, almost orchestral fanfare. The one real downside of the album is the inclusion of two vocal-oriented songs that don't jell with the rest of the album because the group is obviously not comfortable dealing with conventional song structures. These selections also suffer from pretentious lyrics; for example, "On Time as a Helix of Precious Laughs" tries to philosophize about the meaning of life but gets bogged down in artsy, obscure imagery. In the end, Happy the Man doesn't quite live up to its legendary reputation but remains a solid prog outing that will find favor with those who enjoy art rock at its most complex and ambitious. (allmusic.com)


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