December 2010

Down - "Jail" (Video)

This is probably one of the worst songs ever recorded. If those vocals were ever in the general vicinity of in key, it might not be awful. But this here again shows that talented bands don't always need to flex their talents. Happy New Year...blech.

The Futura Label: Fille Qui Mousse

This might not be the best record to begin an exploration of the Futura Label with, but Fille Qui Mousse being one of the better known – that’s still relative – groups affiliated with the imprint, who knows…

Either way, Fille Qui Mousse has garnered a good deal of praise since the reissue of its Trixie Stapleton album, which was initially released during the early seventies. Some have gone as far as to figure the band ranks up there with experimental stalwarts like Faust or Can. That, however, is simple hyperbole. And considering Ame Son – another French group from around the same time which issued work through the BYG imprint - is endlessly more engaging, the hype might just be hype and not too much more.

Jana Hunter in the Lower Dens

Apart from Grass Widow – who probably put out one of the best full lengths over the last twelve months or so – there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of femme fronted echoey garage stuff. Granted, there’s that broad in Thee Oh Sees who does harmonies, but she could hardly be considered the main ingredient in that stew. Either way, Jana Hunter’s been kicking around for a while and probably best known for her folkster persona as aligned with Devandra Banhart’s Gnomsong imprint.

Takehisa Kosugi Moves Beyond Hokusai's Wave

If one were to look back at various art movements which sprung up during the twentieth century, at least a few had music associated with ‘em. Futurism had its own music manifesto – even if the resultant organization of noise wasn’t and isn’t all that mellifluous. The Dadas did sound recordings and the Impressionists probably enjoyed some really boring classical stuff. Perhaps most impactful was Fluxus, though. Yoko Ono, even if you misguidedly hate her, was a part of the movement and can be heard tarting up some Beatles outtakes to good effect. She was just a tangential music person, however. Takehisa Kosugi was and is the real deal.

Coven: Metal that Looks Better than it Sounds

It seems endlessly disingenuous to refer to Coven as a metal band – even a proto-metal band. And if not for inclusion in the recent Cheetah Chrome autobiography in which he details listening to the group’s first album dating to 1969, I very well may have never heard these folks.

Fronted by a surprisingly sprite-like women named Jinx, the band trucked in spacey rock music, not totally removed from the San Francisco thing, but decided to lyrically focus on things of a Satanic nature. Going back to that Cheetah Chrome book, he recounts the final track on this debut. But really the track’s a bummer – as is most of the disc.

Beach Boys: Closing out the Sixties

It’s probably not fair to examine both the Beach Boys’ Friends and 20/20, released in 1968 and ’69 respectively, but seeing as the two have been packaged together as a reissue and bare some aural similarities, it kinda makes sense.

That being said, these two discs mark the final few efforts from Brian Wilson before he receded into the background during the seventies allowing for Dennis Wilson to stretch out some lyrical and musical ideas that worked pretty well despite never receiving a tremendous amount of commercial success.

Egg: Excessive (Polite) Force

Prog again. It’s albums like this – and pretty much anything else prog related – that makes one think that sample based music exists to lift these half cheeseball albums to a level of value not embarrassing to those who crafted the music.

There’s nothing completely embarrassing about Egg’s second album, entitled The Polite Force. But at the same time, your stoner uncle might be found sitting around after Christmas dinner listening to the album. Again, that doesn’t make it instantly bad. And in fact, if we were to examine the disc in relation to its ability to be sampled, it’d be a classic. Unfortunately, the most impressive thing about the band as a whole is the fact that Steve Hillage passed through its ranks prior to the band becoming solidified.

Can Am Des Puig: Folk From Afar

As with most other folk related efforts from the seventies that no one really latched onto Can Am Des Puig has developed a weird mystique about it.

Of course, having Daevid Allen involved in a project – in any capacity – is bound to rack up some interest. So, it’s surprising that the group’s initial release was ignored upon its release and slunk off into anonymity. As with any other space aged re-release, a digitally based collectorly interest has spurred on not just the dissemination of Can Am Des Puig’s The Book of AM, but also discussion of its multi-cultural import.

Moonrakers: The Memory is Better than the Past

Sitting around watching the shift from sixties sing-a-long bands to whatever psych and hard rock constitute must have been an astonishing moment. The minutiae of change during a few years around the mid decade, from a distance, though, is really pretty boring.

The thing is, in a few decade’s time, people are going to look back at whatever ranks as popular rap tracks at this point and wonder what the difference between those works and stuff from  a few years earlier actually is.

At some point there really ceases to be any sort of actual innovation and change – a time when a form is accepted and people work it to a breaking point. Not to diminish the recordings the Moonrakers raved up, but that seems to be the group’s legacy – fortunately or not.

Issued in 1969, Moonrakers seem to have spent as much time soldering together their shiny outfits and doing their hair as they did making original music for inclusion on Togheter with Him. Now, don’t figure this for a later day psych version of the Monkees. It’s not. “Not Hidin’ Anymore” and its bridge should be more than ample proof of that. The vaguely tripped out section hints at the band spending time getting high while fixing their hair at least.

Florian Fricke, Popol Vuh, Yoga and the Theft of Music

Folks endless bicker about what player ripped off another player and what singer actually first sang what song. The answers to those things matter – they might be more interesting than important, though. Either way, Elvis isn’t an awful charlatan. Just like Charlie Parker isn’t, just like Bob Dylan isn’t. Did each of those performers use other people’s music. Yup. Did the results wind up impacting entire generations? Yup. So, what’s the difference.

Dandelions: Little Girls/Guitars

There’s no way to not reference the Shags when discussing the Dandelions. Each group was comprised of little girls – the latter group ranking a bit younger, being ten or eleven years old at the time they recorded their album. Neither group is tremendously talented in a traditional sense. At the same time, though, it’d be really difficult to hear the Shags once and forget ‘em. It might be a little easier to forget the Dandelions album, a private pressed album dating back to the early seventies. The girls - Tres Williams and Kitsy Christner – seem to have a better understanding of their guitars. But supplemental to that, there’s a rhythm section that crops up every once in a while. It might just be due to the mix, but it’s a bit difficult to catch those shuffling drums all the time. Either way, here it goes.

For being so bloody young, hearing the harmonies on “Tuffy” gets to be a bit surprising. Of course, the fact that these girls wrote a batch of songs and had the gumption to record ‘em all is just as shocking. Like other efforts here, Williams and Christner actually work up what amounts to a few disparate portions of the song. Moreover, each is kinda memorable. It seems the song’s about Tres asking her dog about going to Kitsy’s house and having a party. I don’t know where her parents are or why she’s asking a dog, but it’s pretty amusing.

El Polen: Folk from Peru, For You...Dig.

Alright. Both of these discs look as if they should be filled with cheese ball electric guitar drudgery more in tune with prog nonsense than anything else. You know what, though, that’s not the case. Instead, Peru gifted the world with these discs – folk might not be the right word exactly, although there are acoustic instruments on here- almost forty years ago. And for some reason, El Polen remains something of a footnote in the world’s perception of Peru’s national music scene.

Granted, it’s pretty difficult to get any sort of real idea about how the band was perceived by its peers seeing as pretty much all that exists are laudatory pages recalling the good ole days and blogs posting this pair of works. But it’d be kinda safe to guess that there was a modicum of success, just not like KISS or the Stones or whatever other dinosaur rock band was kicking around during the early seventies.

Public Nuisance: Charlie Manson Echoes Throughout History

Time and history very frequently get in the way of artifacts serving to illustrate the grand trajectory of culture. As the sixties were about to end abruptly in the wake of the Manson Murders and a few assassinations, Terry Melcher was engaged in discussing a deal with Charlie about music and the possibility of a documentary.

Melcher was a producer and engineer, running a label extolling the virtues of some trippy garage stuff. And frankly, Manson’s folksy rock stuffs would have fit in pretty well with some of the other fair. After discovering the true nature of this cultish leader, though, Melcher and his buddy Dennis Wilson kinda avoided the guy. And it was that – in addition to obvious mental instability – that resulted in the Manson Family Murders.

What that did, apart from announce the end of the touchy, feely sixties was to ostensibly disrupt Melcher from working with groups and producing new music. Too bad for Public Nuisance. ‘Cause if that hadn’t happened, all involved might now be talking about these Sacramento natives as much as the Seeds or whoever else when attempting to suss out a garage rock properly predating the punk phenomenon.

Clockcleaner: Loud on Load

Tracing the trajectory of Philadelphia’s Clockcleaner is really more simple than a number of other folks commenting on the group have made it.

Yeah, Clockcleaner, when it began back in 2003, recorded a spate of tunes barely discernable one from the next. In part that was just the band’s aural aesthetic. The fact that each of these early efforts was recorded on the (relative) cheap, though, needs to be figured into an understand of the band even as it’s generally just lumped into whatever counts as noise rock.

Songs like “New Slow” from the group’s 2006 Nevermind album are like the title suggests, painfully paced. And purposefully so. Compositions of this nature are as much about the musicians experience and playing as they are about the listener. If one can wade through the plodding bass and drums, making it to a guitar solo with as much in common with cut rate Sabbath styles, then you’ve been initiated. If the production – reducing everything to a simple shade of shit brown with bits of grey despair tossed in for good measure – can’t get in the way of enjoying music like this, you’ve hit a goldmine.

Bomis Prendin: The NWW List Gets Average

Back in the dark ages – better known as the days prior to the internet becoming a major part of everyone’s life – things like the Nurse with Wound list mattered a whole bunch more than today. The list was basically an obsessive compendium of listening habits cobbled together by the band who lent its name to the document. Everything from krautrock to weirdo jazz experiments were included. And at the time of its dissemination, the list was probably something of an important entry way into musics folks wouldn’t have ever come across otherwise.

Today, we can all just Google a band name and find out pretty much anything we want. And with the advent of the Free Music Archive, it seems that long forgotten groups not even resurrected by bloggers are finding a new audience. Enter Bomis Prendin.

Posting a few full length albums over there has allowed a buncha bearded freeqs to get an earful of the noise passing for Bomis Prendin. For some reason, the band’s referenced in relation to folk music in an odd way. And while this Washington D.C. based act takes in and spits out pretty much anything it sees fit, there’s not a whole buncha of chorded acoustic guitars.

William Eaton: It Sounds Like Sand

Let’s get out some of the hippie nonsense – there is no beginning and there is no end. Each of William Eaton’s compositions spring miraculously from the environment surrounding the musician and instrument builder. His songs echo the open spaces of the Southwest – there’s a languid quality to it all summoning visions or arid crags and dusty trails. It’s pretty rad.

Eaton, though, pretty frequently gets lumped into a new agey thing – it’s understandable. He doesn’t play a guitar – but a harp-guitar he’s developed over the last four decades. His chosen ax gives off the vibe of a traditional six stringed instrument, but moment to moment, tones change and listeners should wonder how it works.