Sunday, November 9, 2008

R.I.P. Ben McMillan


Gruntruck

I just found this out a couple weeks ago, but on January 28th of this year Ben McMillan, singer of Skin Yard, Gruntruck and Mona Diesel died from complications relating to Diabetes. He was 46.
I liked Gruntruck a lot when they were around.
Along with quasi-metal bands like Alice and Chains, My Sister's Machine and Skin Yard, they represented the darker and more alienated side of the Seattle grunge scene. When I was 19 or so I actually got to meet Ben - He came into the bookstore where I worked. He was the first "celebrity" I had ever met, and I geeked out so hard I think I pissed him off. He never came in again after that. Well, by all accounts he was a really sweet, considerate and creative individual, and he will be sorely missed.

Not A Lot To Save



Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Am I Be


De La Soul

This lands in my "top 5 best hip hop songs ever" category. Let's see, what else would go there..."By The Time I Get To Arizona" by Public Enemy for sure, hmmm..."Iron Galaxy" by Cannibal Ox (go Cat People!)... Something from U-God, but of course...ehmm...Ooh! And "Syntax Era" by Leaders of the New School! Okay, for those few who read this, if you have beef with my taste, feel free to diss (that means you, Liam.)
What I love about "I Am I Be" is it's sense of poignant sadness and resignation. For De La Soul, a happy-go-lucky, hippy-hop group, to pull off something so mature was a feat in itself; but the track went beyond all expectations and set a new landmark in the world of hiphop.
As you can probably tell by the sound, this song came out in the early nineties, back when hiphop was in its adolescence and the genre was still taking baby steps. This came long before the advent of underground, and g-funk and gangsta were still in their germinal period. I mean, it had only been a short while since Ice-T and the 2 Live Crew had made their marks by being infatuated with penis humor and swear words. And De La came out with THIS. Just listen to the lyrics. Posdnous raps about a number of sobering topics, from the personal struggle of unplanned fatherhood, to the public tragedy of the disolusionment of the Native Tongues click. Prince Paul as always sets the perfect sonic backdrop, and a host of guest voices float in and out of the mix(Listen for Q-Tip's bitter remark "I Am Q-Tip and I Be friction"). I will never tire of this one, and I hope you enjoy it....I'm thinking now I should switch U-God with "Ghetto Bastard" by Naughty By Nature...Nah.

I Am I Be

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Miracles of Sant'iago

Here's a pretty little ditty. I don't know anything about this kind of music, except that I think it sounds nice. This track is an ancient choral piece traditionally sung by a boys choir, but sung by women (the Anonymous 4) in this recording. I listened to this song a lot last winter when I'd drive to work in the dark, then home in the dark, blasting over the sound of the defogger. It was cold and wet, and I'd shiver; feverishly slurping coffee and and chewing stale Pop Tarts as I drove. Praise the Lord.

Vox nostra resonet

Friday, October 3, 2008

More wu...sorry

John Spencer

I promise I'll eventually get over the Wu-Tang obsession soon...but not quite yet. This is off the Experimental Remixes album that the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion put out in '95. It featured reworkings of Blues Explosion material by people as diverse as Calvin Johnson, Moby, UNKLE, and Beck. I was into some of these artists at the time, so I picked it up. I tried hard to like it, but I really wasn't into the cd and wound up selling it back to Easy Street Records after a few listens. The record was noisy and uneven, except for the last track, "Greyhound Part 2 (Genius Remix)", which I think marked the recording debut of Wu-family member Killah Priest. This is dark and desolate music, and Killah Priest's imagery-filled lyrics are poetic and impressive. It definitely stood out on the record. Check out his groaning that closes the song. Classic old-school Wu.

Greyhound Part 2


Monday, September 29, 2008

Crappy Wu-Tang track left off of 8 Diagrams

This was supposed to be the first single off of 8 Diagrams, but it didn't make the grade. So I'm including it here for those who need to hear every melodious tone from U-God and those other guys.

Watch Your Mouth

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sunz of Man


Now that I'm in school I'm afraid I won't have as much time to do as much posting as I'd like, so I'm gonna keep things brief for a while. I'm listening to a lot of Wu-Tang stuff right now (really digging 8 diagrams) and lucky me that I found this at a record store a few weeks back for 4 bucks: Wu-Tang family Sunz of Man's first impressive lp. The following track is the most infectious of the bunch. After the obligatory skit that opens it, the song blows up like a classic Wu-Tang track should; with a heavy, sludgy, repetitive loop, and a lot of yelling. I especially dig the incomprehensible bellowing that takes up the last minute and a half or so of the song. Great classic Wu material.

For the Lust of Money/The Grandz

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Les Fleur de Lys


I was shopping for a helmet and a bike lock today at Fred Meyer (school starts tomorrow, and since school is only a few miles from my house I thought I'd be a good carbon-conscious citizen and bike it, but I didn't have a bike until just a couple weeks ago when I bought my friend's bike -- thanks Dee! -- so I needed a helmet and a lock) when I happened to overhear a conversation between two hipster-looking kids who were easily half my age, about this band: Les Fleur de Lys. I was very impressed that they had even heard about this band, let alone could have a conversation about them. After all, when I was fifteen I didn't know shit about anything.
Les Fleur de Lys were a mid-to-late sixties English freakbeat band with zero hits and an ever-changing lineup, who still managed to make some awesome mod/psychedelia. I still wouldn't know anything about them if I hadn't been introduced to their music by a friend at work a few years back who was an ex-record store clerk, and who was deep into the English sixties scene. Through him I learned about Les Fleur and other bands like them; like the Smoke, the Downliner's Sect, the Sorrows, and many more. To me, this seems like some pretty obscure stuff, and it was great to see someone into it besides an old fogey like myself. So, good job, random kids! Don't spend all your allowance at Zumiez.
The following track was recorded while Les Fleur were operating under the name "Rupert's People", but a fleur by any other name and all that...

Reflections of Charlie Brown

Caustic Window

Richard D. James

Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, aka AFX, aka Polygon Window etc, is an insane acid-munching musical genius, and his Caustic Window project is just another testament to that. This unparalleled collection came out in the salad days of electronica (1992!), and to this day it's still more visionary and creative than most of what the genre has to offer. It's half mental and half crazy. I'll eventually write more in-depth commentary on Richard and his hundred or so aliases, but for now just get blissfully weirded out by these two tunes.


Cordialatron

On the Romance Tip

Monday, September 22, 2008

Down To the Wire

Buffalo Springfield

I can't figure out why "Down To the Wire" was ever left off of an official Buffalo Springfield release, but it was. It's such a driving, economical and powerful song, and Stephen Stills delivered one of his very best vocal performances singing it. An alternate version to this appeared in the seventies (with Neil Young singing lead) on his Decade retrospective, but this version (from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set) delivers more punch. It's one of the best songs from a band that literally overflowed with talent and creativity. Dig it.

Down To the Wire



Don't Tell Me You Haven't Heard of Doublevision

Doublevision

In the years between "Baby Got Back" and Blue Scholars, Seattle was less than a speck of dust on the hip hop radar. I hate to say it but this is due in part because a lot of hip hop music out of the Northwest just straight-up sucked. I should know: I was a loyal patriot and bought every 12", tape and home-made cd from Northwest hip hop artists that I came across. Don't get me wrong, there was a treasure trove of great stuff (Ghetto Chilldren, Vitamin D, Sharpshooters, Silent Lambs Project). But for every good release I found, I had to wade through seemingly endless amounts of crap (I'm not here to talk smack about anyone, but never buy anything by the High Children). Luckily for me, Doublevision didn't fall into the crap category.
I know next to nothing about Doublevision. And as far as I know The Year Two Gee... was their only release. This early production effort from young up-and-comer Bean One featured X.Troydinare and Page3 on vocals, and it dropped in 1999. I came across it in the dearly departed Orpheum Records shop on Broadway one night after work, and was immediately unimpressed by the cheesy packaging. But being the loyal local arts supporter that I was I shelled out the cash and listened to it with an open mind and an open bottle while walking home. And what I heard surprised me: It wasn't the best ever, but for being an obviously home-made Seattle production it sounded pretty damn good. It was a warm summer night, the walk was pleasant, and the tunes sounded fine, so now whenever I hear this record I always think of this first impression while journeying home. It definitely has a nocturnal, lo-fi, distinctly Northwest sound to it, so I recommend listening to the following tracks like I did: Late at night, on headphones, walking down a quiet shaded street (and don't forget the 211!).

True

My Pleasure

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Stone Roses


Depending on how you feel, the Stone Roses might be one of the best rock bands ever, or they might have a lot to answer for. They're definitely influential; you can hear their mark in British music from the Charlatans U.K, to the Verve, to Oasis, and even Radiohead. Although they only lasted for a couple albums and a handful of singles, their sound and attitude have been left on rock'n'roll for nearly two decades.
Emerging out of the late-eighties Manchester rave scene, the Stone Roses quickly rose to prominence with early singles like "Sally Cinnamon" and "Here It Comes", before releasing their debut self-titled full-length, and hatching a score of immitaters. What marked the band from their lesser counterparts was their sense of beyond-cocky self-assurance and arrogance. It was as if they were aware of the legacy they would create, and felt completely as if it was their birthright to be placed between Elvis and Mick Jagger in the rock bad-boy history books. That egotistical attitude fits perfectly within Ian Brown's hushed vocals and John Squire's guitar heroics, and it's even endearing. Certainly that sense of superhuman entitlement helped the Roses achieve the rock stardom they strove for. It's a formula that fits, as seemingly everyone in British rock royalty has adopted this attitude, from the Gallagher brothers to Pete Doherty. And it definitely left an impression me. For a brief while in the early nineties (before I heard Nirvana) I thought they were the coolest band - hands down. I've included two of their most memorable tracks, the aptly named "I Wanna Be Adored" and "I Am the Resurrection". See any consistencies?

I Wanna Be Adored

I Am the Resurrection

Siouxsie and the Banshees

"This is music for people with no friends." - Beavis and Butthead

Dazzle

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

P.E.A.C.E. and Jizzm


P.E.A.C.E. is insane, and he has stupid-amazing skills! All Deadly Jizzm High Definition has the coolest name in hiphop! Dank P. doesn't even have a name as cool as that! P.E.A.C.E. rapped on this track, and Jizzm produced it! They work really well together, and they should do it more often! Click on the link below to hear "Vehicular Manslaughter," and become a shameless fan like me!!!

Vehicular Manslaughter

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Genesis


This is one of my first "favorite songs." I remember being really into it in 2nd grade. I loved the eeriness of it. It has that inhuman, robotic percussion and that evil-sounding keyboard melody. And then there's Phil Collin's dirty-old-man cackle, which just takes the song over the top. I've always been a fan of spooky stuff, and at the time the song made me think of Halloween and all the spooky things that go with it. It wasn't until much later that I noticed how disturbing and Oedipal the lyrics are, but hey, I guess that just makes it even creepier. Click the title of this post to hear "Mama."

Bob Andy

This is Jamaican superstar Bob Andy's rocksteady version of the Joe South song "Games People Play," and he performs it like it was made for him. He cut this infectious track back in early 1969, shortly before achieving international star status with his duet with Marcia Griffiths of "Young, Gifted and Black," but in my opinion "Games" is a superior performance. I love his voice and his delivery; he really belts it out on this song. And at only three minutes I can't ever listen to it just once (I'm on my third listen as I write this). The link is below, so enjoy.

Games People Play

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fairport Convention, Pt. 3


Fairport's sound improved considerably from their first album to their next, 1969's What We Did On Our Holidays. One reason was that Judy Dyble's replacement, Sandy Denny, was a much more full-bodied and charismatic singer. Another reason is that the band members were more confident in their rolls as songwriters. Stylistically the album is all over the place, but it isn't lacking because of this. Instead it gives it a sense of vitality and enthusiasm, as the members of Fairport were all still very young and eager to explore where the music could go. Their sound would become much more cohesive on their next outing, so What We Did remains a brief snapshot of a band still coming into their own.

Tale In Hard Time

She Moves Through the Fair

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What I'm listening to this week, sept. 10th pt. 2


Portishead

I'm not articulate enough, nor do I want to spend all day trying in vain to express to you just how amazed I am at this record, so I'm including a link to Amazon where Mike Newmark's review of Portishead's Third sums it all up, right here. Also, I'm not including a track for dl as I usually do, because I feel like Third can't be represented by just one of its songs. So check it out here at last.fm, or better yet, go buy the album. Really, I don't know the last time I geeked out so hard over a record. Yay.

What I'm Listening to This Week, September 10th '08


Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals

This was my favorite album of 2007. When I heard "2080" on the radio it was catchy enough to hook me on first listen, but it's also that rare breed of song that offers more each time I hear it. That's one of the great things about all of the tunes on Yeasayer's impressive and sophisticated debut album, All Hour Cymbals: Each time I listen to it I hear something new. I'm always catching instruments and studio effects I hadn't heard before, and songs which seemed weaker in comparison to others suddenly stand out on their own.
Although they know how to craft songs with instantly memorable hooks, Yeasayer's music can also be ethereal and mysterious, and the songs constantly veer off from their expected paths to take off elsewhere. The album in an instrumental sense is all over the place, incorporating sequencers and studio effects with eclectic folk and world music instrumentation. But under the gauzy atmospherics and meandering song structures they keep a deep and heavy beat, at times even approaching Timbaland's stuttering, percussive territory. This is truly a compelling and awe-inspiring album. For a debut record to be this consistent and strong, I'm really excited to hear what they'll offer us in the future. Click the title of the post to hear "2080"
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rebirth of Cool


I know a lot of people don't like to hear about it, but for a while back in the mid-to-late nineties trip hop was alive and well as a legitimate genre. borrowing heavily from hiphop, soul and techno, the largely-English form of stoner dance music gained a brief but monstrous amount of popularity before an even bigger backlash fractionalized and ghettoized it to various subgenres of electronica such as downbeat, lounge, chillout, etc. So it gets talked a lot of smack now, but back in the day I thought it was the end-all and be-all of modern music, and the pinnacle of urban pop.
And this album is where I heard it first. The Rebirth of Cool gave me my initial exposure to artists such as Tricky, Massive Attack, Portishead, the Prodigy, Kruder & Dorfmeister, and a host of others. For a high-school kid in the rural northwest, where everything was still really grunged-out, these artists made music that sounded alien, futuristic and ominous, but also groovy and rough-edged enough to have street cred. It was truly exciting music and to me it seemed like something completely new. Apparently trip hop had that effect on a lot of people, because by 1997 Tricky and the Prodigy were MTV darlings, and second-wavers like the Sneaker Pimps and Hooverphonic were making a very brief but spectacular rise. Of course, overexposure killed the scene off, but in the brief years prior to that I was a shameless fanboy, and I still count the Rebirth of Cool as one of my favorite and influential collections of music.

Tricky - Hell Is Round the Corner

Portishead - Revenge of the Number

Monday, September 8, 2008

Milk Cult


The same friend who introduced me to Download also exposed me to this twisted work: Milk Cult. Essentially a Steel Pole Bathtub side project, dj C.C. Nova and guitarist Bumblebee created aural experiments with samples, found sounds and a host of other bay-area guest-musicians. I have a vivid memory of listening to this one night years ago on my car's crappy tape deck while driving around aimlessly through the Northwest woods. The night was pitch-black, and the music should have been from a David Lynch film. So I got the willies, turned my car around and went home. Yep, Milk Cult.
I included two tracks here, the understated "Blue Godzilla" (with guitar and vocal contribution from Jawbreaker's Blake Schwartzenbach) and the song that creeped me out so good, "Son of Obituary".

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Base Metal


I remember the first time I heard this song. I had stayed over at a friends house, making music and partying until the wee hours. The morning after I sat bleary and stupid in his parents dining room, eating Cracklin' Oat Bran, while I listened to this loud, obnoxious, noisy record. "Who is this?", I mumbled. "Download," was the reply, and I was all set to dismiss it as another one of my friends' little brothers' abrasive industrial death records, (which is great and all but at that moment,was not really my thing) when Base Metal came on. Surprisingly consistent and cohesive (especially for Download), the driving percussion and circular synth line was hypnotic and captivating (and captivating me before noon is quite a feat, since I'm the most non-morning person on the planet). The mood of the song was dark and desolate (I have a soft, gooey spot for dark and desolate things), with treated dialogue floating in and out of the mix, which included heavilly reverbed percussion and the constant sound of running water. It was such a lean and direct sound, that at four and a half minutes I felt like the song could have easily gone on for twice as long. It's an example of industrial music at its grooviest and finest, from some of the originators of the genre. Click on the title of the post or click the link below to hear the track.

base metal

Fairport Convention, Pt. 2 (Sandy Denny and the Strawbs)

In the same year as Fairport's debut record, the Strawbs were shopping their brand-new demo around the English labels. The folk trio had recently acquired a brand-new singer, as well - a young woman by the name of Sandy Denny. Guitarist Dave Cousins had seen her playing one night at the Troubadour in Earl's Court, and was instantly taken with her breathtaking voice. He asked her to join that very night, and to his surprise she agreed. However, in the ages it took to find a suitable label, Sandy was wooed away by the Fairport Convention, who were a more established group, who and had recently lost the vocal talents of Judy Dyble. Together, Sandy and the Fairport Convention would make four memorable albums, reach their highest achievements, and eventually create the genre known as English folk-rock. Click on the title of this post to hear "Sail Away To the Sea" by Sandy and the Strawbs.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dum Dum Boys

Iggy

This song from Mr. Pop's first solo album ('77) is vintage Iggy at his best. The groove is instantly memorable. It's one of his most poetical songs. Every off-key note he hits is purposeful and perfect and spot-on. Bowie's production is sympathetic, creating a sound that matches the lyrical content like nobody else could. And, most effectively, it oozes like a weeping sore. Nothing portrays sickness and wasted life like "Dum Dum Boys". God, why can't I write songs this cool?
Click the title of the post to hear the song.

Pipher

I came across Pipher wilst surfing on the world-wide web! Myspace, to be exact! See, it's not all bad! Check out umor-rex.net and http://www.myspace.com/umor to hear more of Pipher and other like-minded artists. Download their albums for free (that's how they like it) and give them props, since they're the most innovative collective of musical artists on the planet, for sure. I can't praise them enough, and they all seem like nice people to boot. Click the title of this post to hear "Chanson des Astres" from his album Vendetta Lullaby.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fairport Convention (Part 1)


Fairport Convention has been one of my favorite bands over the last several years, partly because their music was so varied and compelling, partly because their history is so interesting, and partly because of the amazing outgrowth of solo artists, side projects, and groups that have ties to them. With over 40 years of playing under their belts, Fairport has a huge family tree, and chronicling that alone could fill an entire book. I promise I won't go into that much detail, and I won't cover their entire history, but I will start at the beginning: Their debut album from '68. Although it is a competent release from a talented group of young people (who wanted really badly to be the Jefferson Airplane), I enjoy the album not because of the music (don't get me wrong, the music is fine) but because it offers a glimpse of the greater musical heights of creativity this band would soon achieve. Here are guitarists Richard Thompson and Simon Nicole, Bassist Ashley Hutchings, drummer Martin Lamble, and singers Ian Matthews and Judy Dyble taking their first tentative steps together. Click on the title of the post to hear "Time Will Show the Wiser".

The Cruel Mother


Shirley Collins

Only an English ballad could be so morbid and beautiful at the same time. And nobody can sing such a ballad like Shirley Collins. One of the great grand dammes of the English folk scene, Shirley collins has had a wide and varied career. In the 50's, she lived and traveled with Alan Lomax, and was there when he "discovered" Fred McDowell. Later on she created a folk-blues hybrid with guitar visionary Davey Graham, and in the sixties pioneered a kind of baroque-folk using only period instruments with sister Dolly Collins, as well as with members of the Early Music Consort. And in the seventies she helped create the first folk-rock super group, the Albion Country Band, with now ex-husband Ashley Hutchings.
What Shirley is best known for is her voice, which is thick and dusky and old. Whether the song she's singing is acapella, or with a full electrified accompaniment, her voice is always the obvious focus. And although her voice can't always be considered beautiful in the usual sense of the word, it is never the less unique and captivating, and she always chooses the right songs to showcase her talent. Of her immense body of work, "The Cruel Mother" is to me her finest example of the emotive quality she can project. Using a spare arrangement consisting of a backing male chorus and her own minimal banjo playing, this song is heartbreaking and perfect. Click on the title of the post to hear the track.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What I'm Listening To This Week, Aug 27, '08


In the summer of 1993, my parents finally let me go to Lollapalooza. On the bill were Rage Against the Machine, Babes in Toyland, Front 242, Arrested Development, Fishbone, Dinosaur Jr, Alice in Chains and Primus. It was a blazing hot day in the middle of July, and we all cooked under the burning sun in the field where the concert was being held. In the late afternoon, as the sun was finally beginning to go down, Arrested Development came on stage and tore through an amazing set. I remember how they performed "Fishin' 4 Religion" as the sun shone low behind them, with dancers and musicians grooving and bouncing all over the stage and the catwalks. It was a song different from the slouching, pixilated funk of their initial hit "Tennessee". "Fishin'" was upbeat and relatively slick, with fewer verses by Speech in favor of the chorus which featured rich, distant African-sounding harmonies. The song reached its peak when singer Dionne Farris took the center of a catwalk and let loose with her amazing vocal contribution. With the sun behind her and everyone dancing around and below her, it was as if I had never seen or heard anyone so beautiful. It's a fitting song, with its spiritual message and youthful naivete. Arrested Development existed at the tail-end of a time when positivity and wide-eyed preachiness had a place in pop music, and they pulled their roll off beautifully and then broke up before the world forced them to change or dilute their message. In many ways "Fishin'" is a perfect distillation of their early-nineties vision and sound. Click the title of the post to hear the song.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Camp Lo

Camp Lo

I love this track for the simple reason that it rocks. When it dropped in 1996, I remember thinking that it sounded like a slicked-up colaboration between Joe Sample and the Digable Planets. This was far from a coincidence, as Butterfly from the Digables even makes an appearance elsewhere on the cd. Anyhow, they sounded great back then and still do today. Click on the title of the post to hear "Luchini AKA This Is It", and try to keep your head from nodding too hard.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Love On Ice


Back in the early nineties my favorite radio station started putting the lead-off to this album in heavy rotation. The song was loud, fast, snotty, and super catchy. It was one of those songs that I'd sit around after school with the radio on waiting to hear, and it wasn't long before I spent my hardly-earned allowance on obtaining this tape.
Coming out of Portland, Oregon, Love on Ice fell musically between the edgy butt-rock of Jane's Addiction, and the hippy butt-rock of Mother Love Bone (two of my fav's around that time). Since it was the early nineties, they got touted as another northwest grunge act, but their style wasn't quite dark or moody enough, and after the hype died down they quietly disappeared without a trace. Their lone album was a fun, energetic listen, but none of the tracks were as strong as their first punk-meets-metal "hit". All the same, "Don't Leave Me" was an awesome song and I still enjoy pulling the album out every so often to give it a listen. Click the title of the post to hear the track.

Music For Hobbits


Tyrannosaurus Rex

Before Mark Bolan and his band T.Rex became household words with his glam-rock mega-hit "Bang a Gong (Get It On)", he performed a very different kind of music under the full name Tyrannosaurus Rex. This stuff was weird. Far removed from the superficial and sinewy electric boogie that he would later be known for, Bolan and teenage percussionist Steve Peregrine Took made short, quiet, and compellingly strange little compositions that fell somewhere between the whimsical, childlike psychedelia of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd and the acoustic and exotic acid-folk of the Incredible String Band. On stage the delicate, effeminate Bolan would sit cross-legged, strumming his acoustic guitar and howling like a cat in heat, while the tall lanky Took would sing harmony and bang away on any number of instruments ranging from bongos to chimes to children's toys. The lyrics were as out there as the sound, which read as strange vignettes from fairy tales and fantasy novels. While not exactly a combination that made hit material, the duo definitely had a cult following in England, and not just because they had a psychedelic niche to fall into. Listening to their songs, it's really hard not to get sucked in by the lyrics and music. Bolan knew how to write songs that could grab you, if not with a great hook then with incredible lyrical and sonic imagery. If you sit down and listen to any of their three early albums as a duo, this imagery causes you to be transported away to some weird fairy-world that is at turns childlike, upbeat, melancholy and disturbing. Upon hearing their second LP Prophets, Seers and Sages the Angels of the Ages (which was my introduction to anything Bolan had made with Took), I was instantly mesmerized and addicted. From one song to the next I felt as if I were catching auditory glimpses of ancient music describing scenes from some imaginary planet. Really thought-provoking and trippy music here. One song among many that I found particularly haunting is "Wind Quartets", with it's dirge-like minor key, ghostly wailing harmony and dark, abstract lyrics. In my opinion it narrowly beats out "salamanda Palaganda" and "Scenescof Dynasty" as the most powerful moment on the record. It's a shame that Bolan and Took only made one more album after this before parting company, but T.Rex did go on to make plenty of great music all the same. Click the title of the post to hear the track.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Honor Your Mother and Father


Desmond Dekker

This bouncy, joyous debut for Desmond Dekker was a Jamaican chart-topper when it hit back in 1963. I love this track because it's so infectiously jolly. I first heard it a few years back on a Jamaican ska compilation in the dark days of winter, and I remember listening to it over and over like it was an aural happy pill. It was storming this week (that's Summer in the Northwest for you) and the rain and the gloom made me pull it out again. Good stuff. Jolly stuff. Click on the title of the post to hear the song, or save it for the next gloomy day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What I'm Listening To This Week Part 2


M.I.A.

Don't need to say anything about M.I.A. Perez Hilton digs her. She rocks. Click on the title of the post to hear "20 Dollar", like you haven't heard it already.

What I'm Listening To This Week

Rip, Rig & Panic

This loose collection of musicians came together in 1981 after the demise of the Pop Group, and continued the former outfits' post-punk tradition of cacophony and sonic anarchy. Featuring a young Neneh Cherry on vocals, Rip, Rig & Panic crossed soul, funk, jazz, minimalism and punk to form a unique and exuberant animal. Although not always an easy listen, the music is exciting and vibrant, and you know the group must have had a blast making it. The track I'm including here is "Shadows Only There Because of the Sun", and features one of my favorite appearances by the one and only Ari Up of the Slits and New Age Steppers. This is Ari at her most soulful and exposed. Listening to her belt at the top of her lungs followed by her wilting lyric at the end of the song always gives me shivers. Click on the title of this post to get the song.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beneath the Surface

Back in 1999, I impulsively moved down to Venice California and almost immediately started hearing about this record in the various record shops I haunted. My interest in hip hop at the time had been lagging somewhat, but seeing a familiar name (Freestyle Fellowship) I took a chance and picked up this double LP. Since that day I've probably listened to this record more than any other.
Beneath the Surface was unlike anything else in hip hop that I'd heard at the time. Showcasing the musical genius of producer O.D, and the vocal talents of what seemed like the entire LA underground, The record marked, at least for me, the blossoming of the West Coast underground hip hop movement. The record was reverbed out, atmospheric and stoney. The music sounded like some murky and forgotten psychedelic soul album, and the lyrics were by far the most far out that I had ever heard coming out of hip hop. Leaving the typical rap bravado and posturing in the dust, the topics addressed by the various emcees on the tracks ranged from the future of human evolution to our insignificance in the face of God and the Universe. And the rhyme styles were also varied and fresh, ranging from the chop-chop machine-gun patter of Ellay Khule to the abstract poetry of Darkleaf.
From this record my interest in hip hop was renewed, and it marked the beginning of my obsession with West Coast underground music, especially anything affiliated with the LA hip hop workshop Project Blowed. Beneath the Surface also renewed my interest in recording my own music, and I count O.D. as my prime inspiration and influence. It's been a decade since this release, and to me it still remains the very best of the underground genre.
Click on the title of this post to get "For Her Souly, Slowly, Solely" from the album.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Anne Briggs


Ok, so I'm starting off with Anne Briggs. Anne was a major player in the English folk scene of the sixties and early seventies. While still a teenager she was singlehandedly instrumental in changing the way the traditional folk song was sung, and singers as diverse as Norma Watterson and Sandy Denny site her as a prime influence on their singing styles and careers. Anne went largely unrecorded through her career, appearing on a few compilations and ep's throughout the sixties. In the early seventies she finally recorded three albums worth of material, before promptly dropping out into self-imposed musical exile when she was only 27(apparently she detested the recording process and was unhappy with the sound of her voice on record).
So what, you ask? Well, what recordings she did leave for us are so frigging beautiful they practically defy description. They are simple and unadorned, free of studio effects and often without instrumentation. Her voice is the obvious focus, and it's so perfect that it sounds like it's coming out of someone who's more than a human being. The song I'm including here is one of her earliest tracks, "She Moves Through the Fair". She has better songs in my opinion, but this is the first song I heard her sing, and it's what caused me to instantly fall in love with her voice. Click the title of this post to get the track.

The Pre Post

Hi everyone, my name's Jack and this is my music blog. Simply put, I'm really, really, really into music. I love listening to it, playing it, reading about it, talking about it, arguing about it, etc. I think about it all day long, and it rattles around in my head like an acorn in an empty coffee can. It's an obsession, really. I also love introducing others to what music I have, (but forcing my friends and loved ones into appreciating whatever obscure piece of garbage I found at the St. Vincent's doesn't always pan out like I plan) so it's for this reason that I created In Search of the Lost Chord. Each post will deal with a different song, album, group or musical movement that I think is special or exciting or important musically or culturally or historically or Blah blah blah. I'll post stuff that I like, for whatever reason.
So, I hope you find some of this stuff enjoyable or at least interesting. If you do, leave a comment! If you don't, you can still leave a comment!
Bye for now...