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...