Stupid fucking internet angst. Minutes 4 through 9 of ’Elevation’ doesn’t help. I should post a picture of Pharoah Sanders so white kids will know to hit ‘like’. I’m a white kid too. This has been a passive aggressive Tumblr post. There’s a black hole inside me, that’s where the good things go. I am clinging to him hoping his goodness can save me. If he doesn’t feel the weight of me yet then it’s only a matter of time. He called me back from work, ’Greeting to Saud’ parted the clouds in my head, and then I cried so hard my contact squeezed itself outta my left eye. I’m trying to find a foothold here. Good days follow bad days follow good days. I work sometimes but when I don’t the fear creeps in. I should just stay busy all the time. I should go to the coffee shop where my roommate is. I should finish my resume. I never wanted to need love this badly but holy shit I can’t wait to see his face on my doorstep next week. Now I’m scared again, so much want and need never ended well. An informal poll of my ex-boyfriends reveals they miss my cooking the most. Thank god for his unsophisticated palate, thank god he’s got the patience of a saint. I’m a bad girl trying to be good, he’s a good boy trying to be good but he doesn’t know that yet. I need some sort of combination saint and sanitation worker to deal with all my shit. I’m gonna fuck this up, some kind of shoe is gonna drop. Here comes the fear again, the end is near again. 'Ore-Se-Rere’ is telling me there’s a world outside the one in my head and I should lighten the fuck up. ’The Gathering’ is beautiful and then breaks down and then it gets beautiful again, it wants me to know that that’s just how the world is. I’m still trying to learn shit everyone else figured out when they were five. If I had had more love I’d be stronger by now. I wish I was one of those serene motherfuckers who had nice childhoods and now they’re untouchable. Or one of those tough motherfuckers whose lives were a pile of shit but it made them flinty and wise. I’m having a nervous breakdown almost every day over the stupidest shit. May he never feel like a caretaker or a crutch, may I never be a burden to the one I love, lord don’t let me fuck this up. This has been a really stupid Tumblr post.
This is the second year in a row in which there has been a Wes Anderson film soundtrack released on Record Store Day. First was a few tracks from the score to Moonrise Kingdom, and now we get a full soundtrack release on beautiful emerald green vinyl. Hopefully this is only a sign of things to come.
Other than the amazing colored vinyl, the release is fairly straight forward. It comes with the same cover art as the main poster, and a gatefold with photo stills from the film itself. There is not a download code, which is unfortunate because this is a great soundtrack to listen to while commuting or at work.
Given the large quantity of copies on this RSD pressing, you can likely still find a copy. I will say though, the tracks on the release aren’t for everyone. It is basically half 70s rock that sounds utterly fantastic on vinyl and the other half the Indian-centric score to the film. So keep that in mind when thinking of making the purchase.
Aerial - Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School?
Every so often a record comes along that takes you completely by surprise, blows you off your feet, then helps you up again so you can wear your feet out dancing to it, as is the case with Scottish power pop band Aerial’s second long-player, a mere 13 years after their debut album ‘Back Within Reach’ (!).
I’m talking the kind of record that makes you want to purchase this band’s record, and all their other records, and their t-shirts, and then more copies of their records so you can give them to other people. That is how good it is.
The unassuming pastel pink cover hides a deceptive dozen new gems that will thrill and delight upon repeated listening. It must be something in the water up Glasgae way: like fellow denizens Teenage Fanclub and Attic Lights, Aerial deal in sweetly melodic rock with big hooks, Beach Boy-esque harmonies and buzzsaw guitars. And let’s not forget the lyrics! In short, the kind of songs that, once they’re in your head, they never want to leave.
[To these ears, anyway, there’s also quite a resemblance to late 90s heroes Silver Sun and Dutch power-pop-punks the Travoltas, so if all of these bands tick your boxes you’ll be all over this without having to read any further].
But for those that need any more convincing: Check the hammering Smithereens-esque guitars and drums on the opening track “Cartoon Eyes, Cartoon Heart” before the too-catchy-for-words title song asks the question that most of us have been asking since the dawn of time (or at least formal education).
[The band have graciously allowed that track to be shared here for your aural delight, and I can assure you that with one listen you will be as hooked as I was.]
Each successive song is just as good as the last, each with new sounds to get lost in, like the surf guitars on “Great Teenager”, the melodica on “Madeline It’s Me”, the lap steel licks on “More Than Alcohol”.. and so it goes.
But the last two tracks are my personal highlights: the epic “Where You Are” (which I am totally, utterly, unabashedly unashamed to admit moved me to tears on the first listen) and the heavenly closer - quite literally - “Wave Goodbye To Scotland”.
I could dissect and describe every aspect of all these songs for you but that would be a complete waste of time; all you need to know is that you need to hear them as soon as possible. If you have ears and a pulse, your life will be improved immeasurably by this joyful record. Couldn’t be more highly recommended - 10/10
Boston’s 1976 eponymous debut sounds like was written at least five years too early, which is maybe why the then-unknown band sold 1M records in a few months and had their NYC debut at Madison Square Garden. Between the showy guitar playing and Brad Delp’s insane pipes, the album is an obvious precursor to hair metal and exists in this bizarro aural universe linking 70s awesomeness and 80s silliness.
Favorite Lyric: “I looked out this morning and the sun was gone, turned on some music just to start my day. I lost myself in a familiar song, I closed my eyes and I slipped away.”
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It’s that time of year again: anus itch season. Talkadoodles and decidamathons. Music music guess what’s what. A time when publications that talk about music release their you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours list of artists whose record labels bought ad space or sent free download codes. Or, less cynically: music from the year, presented in a more digestible form than most of the time, cranked out and hastily invoiced by beleaguered critics everywhere, hopefully in time to get the poor bastards on the bottom rungs of the biz a little extra holiday cash, and editors and mid-tier scramblers can wait out the clock until the new year by dicking around on Twitter and calling it business. Yes, that’s the least cynical version I can think of for what happens every December with the lists. It’s a mad dash to be the first to limp to the finish.
The good news for regular citizens is you can finally just read one thing and get some straight answers out of people. Or at least less crooked answers. Most of the time music reviews are complete bullshit, like that timesomebody at Vice didn’t like the new Metz album because apparently in that particular 20 minute chunk of their lives they had a migraine and the drums kicked too much ass for them to handle without pukeyfacing. Music reviews are bullshit because the person writing them is getting paid somewhere between zero and some piddling useless amount of dollars, and therefore there’s no stakes, and therefore say whatever you think is best to keep the piddling useless dollars coming in, and do it quick with the first thought that pops into your head because your opinion will never matter as much as word of mouth plus time anyway, and it’s not like the free download is a huge favor because the internet exists. BUT: end of the year lists pare down all that regular bullshit and focus on the bullshit that these people apparently actually believe.
I am a fan of year-end lists because they serve as a roadmap to what kind of people believe what outlandish bullshit things. I like to take these lists, most of which consist of stuff I never heard of because I’ve managed to limit my informational intake to hyper-specific, reliable filters which generally do not waste my time telling me about stuff I have a low chance of actually liking, and attack them with my own kneejerk bullshit. Why? Because that’s even lazier and more cynical than writing a list of my own, and it results in more piddling useless dollars for me. You’re welcome.
Take for example the alphabetically arranged non-hierarchical list supplied by the poor deluded fucks at NPR. Alright gang, let’s riff. Let’s have an NPRty.
Ab-Soul, Control System
I’m sure NPR likes this because this guy is saying some moderately thoughtful stuff and the beats are less predictable than usual, but who actually wants to listen to a song called “Double Standards”? Why stop there? Why not a club banger called “Airport Security”?
Alabama Shakes, Boys And Girls
Making music your parents would like isn’t just for the Fleet Foxes anymore.
Look out Yo-Yo Ma, there’s a new cellist in zzzzzzz
Alt-J, An Awesome Wave
Here’s the first of probably many entries on this list which seems like its primary reason for existing is to be transition music on NPR. Like there’s some report on a Peruvian ballet troupe struggling to make art with their limited resources, and then this pops on for fifteen seconds to help convince you that what you just heard was in fact very interesting and not a desperate attempt at interestingness which combines several things you don’t care about. It is relatively high energy, but stark and dramatic at the same time, and it’s constantly throwing “interesting” sounds at you, like bassoons and toy pianos, and layering everything a million times for no reason. And now here’s Terry Gross with “Fresh Air.”
Andy Stott, Luxury Problems
This is the kind of electronic music you’d hear in a modern art museum and it’s actually more boring than silence.
A nice lil’ multi-culti entry for NPR, this one apparently a Chilean version of MGMT. There is actually some very cool shit going on in Chile right now. This is the Wavves to that cool shit’s Thee Oh Sees.
Berlin Philharmonic, St. Matthew Passion
You know who I love? Classical radio DJs. They’re the best. Just in general, when people are only into classical music: the best. I mean, terrible, yeah, but taking the stance that nothing good has happened for over a hundred years is incredible. I can just picture them wincing at the overbearing city noise and fully bear hugging not just their ears but the entire sides of their heads in agony as a wailing ambulance drives by them on the street. Classical-only people are so prim and snooty and delicate they’re like some vestigial form of cultural renegade. I imagine if you pushed one over they would just lie there totally fucked like an upside-down turtle. You’ve got to love it when human society subverts nature and allows people like that to exist.
Meek Mill, Dreamchasers 2
I feel like hip hop at this point is as horrible and predictable and soul-crushing and ceaseless and artless and stagnant as the poverty and violence on the streets it comes from. This guy tells the narrative of how he grew up in a terrible place, sold drugs, and then became successful while so many others didn’t, and his embrace of every trapping of his prosperous lifestyle is fueled by guilt and regret. You may be familiar. Also: you can dance and fuck to it and play it real loud in a car with a lot of bass. Not that NPR listeners are doing those things. Instead they’re nodding their heads to the narrative and saying “oh, isn’t it awful” and “good for him.”
Bobby Womack, The Bravest Man In The Universe
Damon Albarn picked Womack up off the scrap heap and produced this album. It’s kind of like an extremely crappy version of the Rolling Stones reviving Muddy Waters’ career, or a more commercial and electric version of Jon Spencer and R.L. Burnside. I wonder if Bobby knows or cares what the hell is going on here.
Bomba Estereo, Elegancia Tropical
You can guess what this sounds like: an impulse buy CD at a fair trade coffeehouse.
Brooklyn Rider, Seven Steps
If you type “Brooklyn Rider, Seven Steps” into Google, the first results are Amazon, Brooklyn Rider’s website, Brooklyn Rider’s website, Brooklyn Rider’s website, and NPR First Listen. They’re a string quartet, FYI. An extremely well organized one. With a name that sounds like they should be a 2000’s synthpop version of Bachman Turner Overdrive.
Cafe Tacvba, El Objeto Antes Llmado Disco
If a band from Mexico sounds like 70’s Italian prog (think Gentle Giant plus opera) meets Animal Collective (i.e. post-digital American prog), are you allowed to not like it? Not if you’re NPR.
Carla Morrison, Dejenme Llorar
The score so far. Hip hop: 2, soul revival: 2, classical: 3, Spanish language pop: 4, bland Indie pop: 1, minimalist techno: 1, boring: yesalways.
Cat Power, Sun
Cat Power is the musical equivalent of Say Yes To The Dress (the least intolerable reality show my girlfriend watches).
Oh hello. Look at me, I’m a woman enjoying a glass of wine while her baby sleeps peacefully in his crib upstairs, and has been since 7pm. I’m a mom, you guys, and I know it’s been a while, but tonight was the first night in a while I felt like I could apply my brainpower to a review after dinner instead of collapsing like a zombie in front of the tv. We’ve been living life in three hour increments since January 30th when our sweet baby boy arrived in the world, and eleven weeks later, I declare tonight the night to listen to some music and write about it. Hope you enjoy, I’ve missed you all.
So remember when we were in the Chrome Zone, back in October and I was fantasizing about naming our baby Helios Creed? Well, we didn’t name him Helios, but I ended up buying Alex his two favorite Chrome albums on vinyl for Christmas: “Half Machine Lip Moves” and “Alien Soundtracks” (because he didn’t own them, and they’re his favorites, and I actually love his stupid record collection.) And he just said to me, “you know, you really should review them.” So, I’m going back to Chrome. Let’s get into it! The Chrome Zone! Tonight we’re listening to “Half Machine Lip Moves.” Let’s go!
Wow! It sounds like punk music, actaully. (Alex just made fun of me for saying “punk music” again, instead of just “punk,” but whatevs.) We’ve got some serious drums going on here. The drums are definitely my favorite thing right away in this first song. I just told Alex that it was reminding me of the Stooges and right as I said that it got all space invader, scary sounding and he said, “does it still??” No, it does not still. Kinda wish it did.
So I don’t think I’m going to be able to link to songs for this review because there’s no song listing. All the lyrics of the entire album are smooshed together in this tiny paragraph. You figure it out! I’m sleep deprived! Here’s the entire album on youtube.
It feels like the kind of album that should be thought of as one big sound. Spacey sounds are kind of persisting in the background, but we’ve got two jamming guitars going now too, feeling more “rock and roll.” It feels like just as a song starts to sound like a normal rock or punk song, it starts to get weird with either vocals or, I guess I would call it “background noise?” right now it sounds like someone is banging on a metal pipe in an empty warehouse and yelling into a distorted microphone.
The banging pipe/distortion is continuing and I’m picturing some sort of punk rock factory. The music sounds like a machine being put together on an assembly line in a mental institution, or a bunch a weirdos just banging away to make some strange art.
Okay, we’re back to a more punk sounding songs, Alex just sang out “we’re not afraid of the Russians.” I am liking this, I feel like it’s the perfect mixture of weird art and traditional song. It’s just weird enough and there are a lot of layers. Like, suddenly a groovy guitar solo comes in and it seems like they’d be really fun to see live, even though I’m remembering that they’re the band that never does live shows. This feels really improvisational.
Alex just told me that the song on now is “You’ve Been Duplicated,” so here’s a link. It’s got a lot of scary whisper singing in it and the kind of guitar that sounds like it encourages travel, it’s rambling along on that winding road we call music.
I just said to Alex, so what makes you want to put this on and listen to it? I like it, but I can’t see myself thinking, I want to listen to this album right now! Like I do with other music that I like. Alex said, “It’s just totally out of control, it sounds like it’s from another fucking planet. I could listen to this album for a 100 years and never figure out how they made all the sounds on it. Like, this is something played backwards, it’s all crazy, it’s total mayhem.” I think that makes a lot of sense. You have to hear it like that though - how did they make it? What are they doing? Are they aliens? Are they human? You have to throw away the “I wish there was something I could sing along to,” feeling. You must accept the crazy. You have to be curious
On to side two!
Okay, well, side two is definitely the more haunted side. Oh it’s creepy! It sounds like he’s singing with a vampire cape wrapped around himself. He’s singing about how he saw me in a monkey cage at the zoo.
Let’s talk about the cover for a bit. I have nothing to say actually. It’s boring. But definitely reinforces that this music is meant to be listened to on the moon. Also, the vinyl is navy blue. And I love it.
I’m really digging the All Music review of this album which calls, Edge’s vocals “Iggy-ish!” so it’s not just me! The Edge vocals are really standing out to me even though it’s Helios who get’s more into the outer space vibe.
Overall, I’m happy to be exposed to this album. It was fun to listen to and then try to describe what I was hearing through writing. But, I know when I’m home alone, or with Harvey (that’s what we named our son btw, instead of Helios!) and thumbing through our records, looking for something to put on, this is never going to be my first choice. However, I’m going to try and remember that I liked it and put it on anyway one day and see what happens. If anything, I think it’ll make me a pretty cool mom.
Alex says: I taped this off of my friend Michael Troutman in … probably 1997 or so, and then one day when I was on my way to community college I popped it in the tape player and I was like “what is this! It sounds like the rolling stones were abducted by aliens!” I listened to it non-stop for a month or so, and then Michael Troutman got in my car, and told me it was Chrome. I was hooked after that.
I would say if there was a sound I would like to emulate more than any other in the world as a musician, it would be the fried, weird Chrome rock songs. They sound like they’re having so much fun. They are trying to seem kind of menacing and weird, but their music is actually pretty goofy. Really steady drumming, kind of bouncy synth bass, just a lot of fun. It’s kind of jarring – scary music that sounds fun.
Atlanta’s DKA Records has been quietly issuing vinyl for the past few years that sits on the outside of conventional techno or electronic music. Impeccable quality with an appropriately dark edge, they received a bump in notoriety last year issuing High-Functioning Flesh’s debut album, which made waves into the conventional industrial/EBM world. This compilation, featuring them amongst other label luminaries, has a nice throwback feel while sounding anything but dated.
The title of the record alone made me think back to those early 80s compilations like Rising from the Red Sand or The Elephant Table Album. Current industrial darlings HFF lead off with “Confuse the Call”, a dance floor stomp consistent with the strongest songs on their debut. Gurgling low quality samples, jagged Ensoniq synths by Greg Vand, and a catchy, memorable chorus by Susan Subtract (who does the best “yeah!” and “ok!”, second only to perhaps Lil’ Jon) has all the makings of another hit for them. The duo reappear on the flip side of the record with the Dva Damas edit of “Touch Oblivion Icon”, which strips the song down to its most basic vocal fragments, deep kicks and a truckload of dubby echo and delay throughout.
The 1980s nostalgia feel pops up with a few other contributors here as well. TWINS’ “A Hero’s Body, A Human’s Heart” rides on taut analog sequences and up front 80s Oingo Boingo-esque quirky vocals distill the best of that neon-tinged cyberpunk vision of the future. The lengthy “The Red Dress (Parts 1 & 2)” from Tifaret emphasizes the darker edge of new wave, rather than the more conventional pop sounds. Drums seething with reverb and dramatic, nearly goth vocals blend with a mess of industrial clang and chaos, conjuring bits of the Sisters of Mercy and Skinny Puppy without sounding like either one. RedRedRed’s “An Unrelenting Hour” is cut from a similar cloth, with pseudo British vocals, a wonderfully raw synth lead, and a more laconic tempo.
On a song like Tannhäuser Gate’s “Pulse”, the label’s more techno and dance floor oriented sounds come through strong. With a throbbing beat and brilliant bassline, bouncing from dense to minimalist arrangements while featuring heavily filtered vocals, it could work just as well in the club as it would in a more focused listening session. Xander Harris’ “Protoculture” heavily utilizes stuttering kick drums and overdriven keyboard leads to again feel slightly more techno-like, but peppered with dialog samples throughout in lieu of conventional vocals.
Considering the quality of the material on here (and the previous releases on DKA) I hope that this compilation, propelled by the rising popularity of High-Functioning Flesh, will push the label into the spotlight. With an underground aesthetic, but professional quality in terms of both sound and presentation, the artists showcased on this compilation deserve a more significant amount of exposure.
Every month we get together to write the most offensive things we can think of about a bunch of new albums, and every month a bunch of fans of some band we gave a pukey face to get really mad at us. It’s fun!
When you open this gate fold album, the first thing you see is a man’s face (I don’t know who it is) and the second thing you see are some naked boobies right above his head. I feel like that has to be the first thing I mention about this album.
The colorful cover and interesting gatefold collage are definitely making me want to watch “The Harder They Come”- but how would one do that? Netflix? Amazon Prime? The Public Library? Which-side note- I would like to take this moment to plug the public library as an amazing source for movies that are not on Netflix streaming, because does anyone pay for the mail in service anymore? Use interlibrary loan- WHICH IS FREE and you’ll probably find the movie you’re looking for. Like, for instance “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” which I wanted to watch after watching the Gilmore Girls’ episode, “They Shoot Gilmore’s Don’t They?” Long story short, it was a particularly crazy movie to watch as a sleep deprived new parent, but I got it using interlibrary loan at the public library! (I just did a search for “The Harder They Come,” and 4 of 4 copies are available through interlibrary loan! Woot Woot! Gonna put that shit on hold!)
But in the mean time, I will review this soundtrack without having seen the movie. Maybe that’s not a wise choice, but we must obey the order of the collection.
I’ve actually listened to this album a ton already because it’s a really good selection of classic, feel good reggae songs. It’s always a hit when you put it on! So let’s go.
The first song, “You Can Get it If You Really Want,” is obviously the classic feel good inspirational song, what an encouraging message. It’s the total opposite of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” isn’t it? I have a friend whose mom used to always sing that to him when he was a kid and probably being whiney about something. He should have sung this song back to her, it would have been the ultimate comeback! Where’s a time machine when you need one?
The second song starts with people saying something in what I want to call “Jamaican,” but I know there’s no Jamaican language. Is it called Patois? Yes it is. I googled it. You’d think this this song would be called “Stop That Train,” but it’s called “Draw Your Brakes.” Well, we know what drawing your brakes does, don’t we? It stops that train. This song has a pleasantly plodding along rhythm to it and a beautiful chorus. I really like it.
According to this website, he is saying ““Forward and payaaka, manhangle (manhandle) and den go saaka.” Which basically means, go find someone else’s girlfriend and fuck her. Yikes.
The next song is the very beautiful and spiritual “Rivers of Babylon.” When I was in high school and college I LOVED the band Sublime SO MUCH. And I have to admit that I became familiar with their version of this song before ever hearing the Melodians’ version. And even though I find Sublime’s music to be super cheesy now, I definitely don’t mind if it comes on the radio or something, which it never does. Look, I didn’t know any better. The Melodians’ version is the only version worth listening to.
The next song is “Many River’s To Cross,” and also very spiritual especially with it’s organ opening. This song feels more like a soul/R&B/Otis Redding type genre of a song, but Jimmy Cliff’s voice is just so sweet and passionate, he’s the only person I want to hear singing it. This song also has some beautiful background singers that really take it to the next level.
I just asked Alex if these songs existed before this movie came out and he said he doesn’t think so because in the movie there are scenes of them recording songs, like the one that’s playing right now, “Sweet and Dandy.” That’s pretty crazy. I always think about that with “The Graduate.” When people saw “The Graduate” in the theater, they were hearing “Mrs. Robinson” for the first time!! How exciting must that have been? Same thing for these songs.
So, Alex was wrong. But still, let’s think about hearing Mrs. Robinson for the first time in a movie again!!! And this soundtrack definitely changed the popularity of reggae music in the United States ,as it should have.
Side two! The great thing about this album is that it’s still consistently excellent on side two, which starts with “Johnny Too Bad,” by The Slickers. Followed by “Shanty Town,” by Desmond Dekker and then “Pressure Drop!” How can you not love that? I just feel like it’s impossible to not like this album.
I think pressure drop might be my favorite song on this album even though it’s really hard to pick a favorite. The “Oh yeahs,” are just too irresistible not to sing along with. And by the end of the song it’s really hard not to get up out of your chair and start dancing.
Alex just called me a “closet hippie,” for knowing that “Sitting Here in Limbo,” was covered by the Grateful Dead.
Then, the best part about this album? They play “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” and “The Harder They Come,” AGAIN at the end! Because they know you actually want to listen to them again. Ahh so good. I love it.
Alex Says: When I was a kid, my dad had this little nylon cassette holder in his car and he made a bunch of tapes - from where, I’m not entirely sure, and then he ran the little inserts into his typewriter and typed up the song information for each one. Now this is when I was very young, like too young to read, and all of the cassettes were totally indistinguishable to me. So it was a crapshoot whenever my dad put one on - was he going to play some Beethoven? The Beatles? Or The Harder They Come soundtrack?
Of course, I didn’t know it as The Harder They Come soundtrack, because I couldn’t quite process the fact that there were millions of musicians in the world. So I thought that this album, Black Uhuru, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, all the great reggae/dancehall/ska my dad listened to when I was a kid, was being written and performed by just one person. Bob Marley.
Eventually, my dad put his reggae up on the shelf, got into zydeco and Buena Vista Social Club and shit, and I forgot about this album. But then, in his early teens, my brother decided to become a SHARP. I think this is a movement that has been lost to history, but it stood for SkinHead Against Racial Prejudice. So essentially, him and his friends dressed up like racists and listened to rudeboy jams and wore Doc Martens and suspenders and cuffed jeans – they just weren’t beating up minorities. In addition to all the other accoutrement of the SHARP lifestyle, my brother started listening to a lot of first and second wave ska, Desmond Dekker, The Specials, The Selecter, and this brand new fusion metal/ska/punk band called The MIghty Mighty Bosstones. And, somehow, this album made it back into the rotation. Which was a nice surprise, because everything about this album is kind of perfect.
I remember when I was a kid being really enamored of “Sweet and Dandy,” probably because it’s the most childlike song on the album. It’s bouncy and joyous, and I always misheard the part where they say Johnson has to “hold up is head” as Johnson has “a hole up his head.” That really tickled me. A guy with a hole in his head. And then all the people in white gonna eat up Johnson’s wedding cake. But listening to it today, “Many Rivers to Cross” was really really hitting me where it counts. In another life, Jimmy Cliff would have had the kind of success Al Green had. He certainly had the chops for it.
Prurient - “Bermuda Drain” (Hydra Head Records 2011)
Man this record is so good. Prurient has almost completely dropped noise on this album; an album that is full of lush synth melodies and analog drum sequencers. Some people may be shocked to listen to this if their only other experience with Prurient is say, “History Of AIDS”, but to me it’s been a natural progression up to this album. Also his job of being lead synth player in Cold Cave I’m sure didn’t hurt either.
But yeah, this shit is solid gold. It’s like a heavy industrial/synth pop album with harsh vocals; something you don’t see often in this kind of style. Maybe some EBM bands do that, but I wouldn’t know. The album is very unlike anything I’ve ever heard. There is even still noise/power electronics on here, check out “Watch Silently”.
I can't recommend this album enough. I swear you’ll get a huge boost in hipster points for buying it. And the vinyl version is so sexy it hurts me to look at it.
We’re both intrigued! It looks like a single and on the back it says “this is clouddead number 9 of 10.” So…let’s put it on!
First of all, we can’t figure out the speed it’s supposed to be played on! 33 sounds way to slow, but 45 sounds chimpmunk-y! But I think 45 is right. So, I’m not digging the vocals. This song is called “Dead Dogs Two,” and the vocals are too distracting for me to enjoy it. Oh no. Then there’s like a talking/rapping part. No. After the rapping part, the song gets softer in this sort of dreamy pretty way, with string instruments which I am enjoying.
So this is “Dead Dogs Two,” the original. Hmmm. I really don’t like the sound of the vocals it’s distracting me from the musical parts which I think I do like. It’s kind of reminding me of The Postal Service a little bit. Youtube is telling me that Werner Herzog’s voice is at the end. Alex was like, “yeah, I could tell it was.” Whatever. (Insert eye rolling imogi here.)
The next song is called “Mulholland Instrumental.” It’s weird and ugly sounding, but ugly sounding in a deliberate way. Alex just said, “this sounds like something I would have recorded in high school,” He still has no recollection of ever purchasing this record, ever listening to it or ever hearing of this band. Ahhh! Memory is so fickle!
Mulholland Instrumental is not a song. It is sounds. That’s my final statement.
Here’s a new pop discovery for 2011: The first solo album by Rooney drummer Ned Brower, recorded in ten days and produced by Mike Viola. Ned’s sweet vocals, last heard on the title track of Rooney’s Wild One EP, are put to great effect on 10 bouncy tracks, the stand-out undoubtedly being this song. Ned has clearly been inspired by Sam Cooke’s What A Wonderful World and lifts the melody line and Sam’s wistful optimism for his own tune. Elsewhere there are echoes of CSNY and Herman’s Hermits on Underneath Your Spell, and the Nick Lowe-aping-Thin Lizzy-aping The Alleyway. Ned has done a fine job making a debut record under his own name. Most of these songs wouldn’t sound out of place on a Rooney album, but Ned’s own take on them is much more relaxed, as is Mike Viola’s production, and it all adds up to a marvellous record. 9/10
You may be asking yourself, “Hey, where are VICE’s usual pissy yet strangely on-point reviews? I was looking forward to reading about the latest release from my favorite _____-wave band!” Well, this month we decided to do things a little differently, apropos of our Syria Issue. Below, you’ll find reviews of (mostly) Syrian music, written by Syrian Americans, or in the case of Shalib Danyals, a person who has spent a shitload of time in the country. So far, Middle Eastern music hasn’t really had a ton of crossover appeal—unlike J-pop, K-pop, or Yanni, for instance. That said, you’ve probably been exposed to small doses of Middle Eastern music at some point, maybe without even knowing it.
The thing about a country at war is that what you hear on the news revolves almost exclusively around violence, suffering, and destruction. Hence we felt it relevant to offer insight into the listening habits of Syrians. Of course, the volatile political situation does change things and offers worrisome inspiration. Some Syrian artists have reflected on the turmoil of recent months via their songs, while others avoid the situation entirely—probably because weighing in on the conversation can easily get a musician thrown in prison or even killed.
As far as the “scene” goes over there, trends in music aren’t all that much different from their Western counterparts. Saccharine, hook-heavy pop reigns supreme. A couple of singers made popular by the Arabic version of the Idol franchise (Arab Idol, naturally) have risen up the pop charts. Hip-hop in Syria and other Arab states is slowly but surely developing into a legit genre. Since the beginning of the uprising that began about a year and a half ago, protest songs have steadily increased in popularity. And, of course, music that incorporates traditional sounds and instruments always has a strong following. Most Arabic music tends to rely on this sort of sonic commingling, and that’s what makes it unique. Even the catchiest pop song might include a customary dabke rhythm, or the twang of an oud (a traditional stringed instrument) among a plethora of synths and Auto-Tuned vocals.
Of course, because of the ongoing political tumult, there’s just not a ton of stuff being released at the moment. And as far as the standard music industry goes… Well, let’s just say it wasn’t super-easy to confine this reviews section to recent releases. Still, what we did find runs the gamut from slick pop to raucous techno-dance to heart-wrenching folk.
So read on, and give some of these albums a listen. Keep an open mind. Who knows? Maybe you’ll love it. And even if it’s not your thing, maybe when the next hot Jay-Z song drops, you’ll be able to say you know where a certain sample originated. And, if you’re into bragging, that you knew all about it before it was popular. Enjoy.