Sunday, December 20, 2009

A pagan singalong for the apocalypse

Lal and Mike Waterson's Bright Phoebus

This collection of tunes came from one half of the English folk singing troupe The Watersons, who, after years of travelling for a living, took an undefined hiatus to pursue other interests. While Norma Waterson went abroad for a time, Mike and Lal continued to make music, although in a much different vein than what they had done before.
Departing from the unaccompanied stark a cappella versions of traditional folk songs that defined the Waterson's sound, Mike and Lal enlisted the top brass of the English folk community to help them record this stunning collection of self-penned songs. Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Tim Hart, Maddy Prior, Martin Carthy, Ashley Hutchings, Sue Kirkpatrick and Norma Waterson are included in the list of luminaries that came together to make this psychedelic folk-rock gem.
The title track to Lal and Mike Waterson's album Bright Phoebus is one of the strangest and most compelling songs I've ever come across. It's a simple tune that manages to be uplifting and joyous while absolutely devastating you at the time. It's an absolutely chilling song, unlike any other. Give it a listen or three.

Bright Phoebus

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Recognized Thresholds of Negative Stress

Skinny Puppy

Whenever life gets hectic I notice that my musical tastes tend to reflect it. This is always most noticeable at the end of the school quarter, when term papers are due, finals are eminent, and sleep becomes scarce. You'd think that one would seek a balance at times like this, and start listening to Kenny G or Raffi or some shit like that, but no. Nope, when major stress hits and my brain feels like a pressure cooker, that's when I head for the nasty stuff. A few years ago in the final month of my engineering program, I became obsessed with the early records of Scandinavian death metalers Amorphis. Last year at this time I got really into doom n' bass drummer Mick Harris. And this year is no different, but for the band: Skinny Puppy. To me they are the quintessential industrial band: Abrasive percussion, eighties synths, blood, distortion, and growls in a fake British accent. Do you know what it's like to listen to skinny puppy on headphones for 8 hours straight, while reading about hemorrhaging vaginas? Well, I do, and I can tell you, it's not a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Here's a little sample, minus the anatomy.

Morpheus Laughing

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Psychosomatic Addict Insane


Remember this song? Of course you do.
Back in '97, when electronic music had managed to gain a tentative foothold as a legit part of the mainstream, the Prodigy ranked high on the list of techno A-listers. They had been huge since the early nineties in England, but it wasn't until 1996, and their single for "Firestarter", that they exploded onto MTV and alternative radio here in the U.S. Although "Firestarter" was a delicious slab of noise, "Breathe" was in my opinion a superior track, and one of the genre's best works. From the warbly bass, Spy Hunter-ish melody and chopped breakbeats, to the kung-fu samples and snarling vocal delivery, this song has it. Give it another listen for old time's sake, try not to let the walls melt on you, and remember to breathe.

Breathe

Monday, September 7, 2009

dead links

Just a quick note. If you come across any dead links, just leave a comment and I'll put it back up! In response to a couple comments already, the more recent links have been reposted.

Monday, August 31, 2009

That's How It's Done At the World Market

So I've been working the early morning shift (4 am to whenever) at Costplus Werld Markit, unloading trucks and stocking shelves. It's a job fraught with many a potential misery, but I actually don't mind it. I work with some cool people, and I like to organize things anyhow, and we get to listen to music, so it's not so bad. The music isn't what I'd call my style, though: I'm forced to hear a lot of Dave Matthews, Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, and emo, none of which are "my thing". However, every now and again a song comes on that I like. In the following cases, these songs have become favorites - I play them all the time! Lucky me. The first is by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and it's called "Zero", off of their new album It's Blitz! I've always liked the Yeahs, but I hadn't heard that they had a new album out. The second, "Around the Bend", is by the Asteroid Galaxy Tour, which I guess everybody but me knows about already due to a feature in some Apple commercial. I don't stay plugged into current trends for very long, so I feel fortunate to have caught these two tracks before they fade into ADD MP3 obscurity. Here are the videos for both. I find it interesting that both videos go for the same early 80's new york Blondie vibe - although each in different ways.






Monday, July 27, 2009

Sweaty and Uncomfortable


Santana III

David Crosby

The temperature supposedly reached 97 today, which is a pretty rare occurrence here in the pacific northwest. On top of the heat, it rained yesterday, making it nice and humid. Ugh. I feel like I'm breathing and wading through hot, sticky, damp, fetid water vapor. I'm usually a hot weather person, but not this kind of hot weather.
Of course, it's too miserable to sleep, even with the fan on in the bedroom. It's almost midnight as I write this and the temperature is still in the 80's, so I'm still up (despite starting a new job at 6 tomorrow morning). So just to make the atmosphere complete, I'm posting a couple "uncomfortably hot and sweaty summer night" songs.
The first is "Taboo" from Santana's III album. The cover of the album let's you know what it sounds like. It's a great track, great and sweaty. I picked this album up at a yard sale in the dog days when I was in high school and I guess this song sums up the feel of humid northwest summers for me.
The second track is David Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair", off of CSN&Y's Deja Vu, and if you think the first song is hot and sweaty, this track is like taking a bath in a hot KFC bucket of steamy lard. A family size bucket. For real, in the pantheon of disgusting, sweaty songs, this one is the most likely to start a grease fire. You can almost hear the oil drip off David's straining neck veins.
So turn off the lights (they emit heat), sit back on the couch in your underwear, try not to move too much (except to pick the crumbs out of your mustache/beard/chest hair/navel), and have a listen. Oh yeah, the heat is supposed to last through the week...

Taboo

Almost Cut My Hair



Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bring That Beat Back!

Hi everyone, just a quick note. I've started up another blog to run concurrently with this one. Whereas In Search of the Lost Chord showcases all kinds of music I love, this new one (Bring That Beat Back) will deal exclusively with hip hop releases (at least for the time being). The reason for this is because I have some rare and out-of-print hip hopery that I don't feel necessarily warrants the dear-to-my-heart specification I have here at Lost Chord, but I know some cats want to hear anyway. So there you go. Feel free to stop in and check it out!
The URL is http://beetbak.blogspot.com/

The Ethiopians

The Ethiopians are a complete joy to listen to. They recorded a ton of great music in the golden age of Jamaican music, from the mid 60's to the mid 70's. Because their output is so immense and their music so good, I picked their song for this post, "Come On Now," completely at random.
And it seems the Fates chose wisely. This cautionary rocksteady tune has all the best elements the Ethiopians utilized: The high, soaring harmony vocals; the bouncy, infectious rhythm; the ragged horns; and the unnameable, magical quality that makes the world a happy place.
The temperature in the next few days is supposed to reach the mid-90's, so at some point give yourself a few minutes to sit back with a cold beverage and listen to this track. It's the perfect music for a summer afternoon.

Come On Now

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hip Hop Holy Grail Part 3: Puzoozoo Watt: Self-Help

Here's another impossible-to-find nugget. This weird release came out only on cassette in 1999, at least I think. This cerebral Blowdian rapper Puzoozoowatt was, and maybe still is, a member of the group Onomatopoeia, along with Slant (who made the beats for this release, as well as guested on one spot), and Vixen, who shows up a couple of times. I remember ordering this from P-Minus' website back in the day, along with a bunch of Rifleman, CVE, and GPAC cds. When I got the package it was one of the happiest days of my pathetic, nerdy life. Go check out Puzoozoo's myspace page to hear the strange and cool stuff he's up to these days. While you're there, ask him please to release some more tracks! Please!! For now, enjoy this strange tape.

Self-Help

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hip Hop Holy Grail Part 2: Give and Ye Shall Receive

Ganjah K

Ganjah K's legendary unreleased album from the early 90's, Harvest For the World, is a record I've tried to find for more than a decade. It's my own personal "most sought after" record. I'd hear about it here and there, and I'd find it listed on online trade sites, but despite a number of valiant efforts at getting a copy, (including ignored offers to trade, then ignored offers of money/sex, leading to ignored threats of emotional blackmail, extortion, and bodily harm) I would always ultimately fail at getting my hands on this coveted gem.
But I never gave up hope. I knew that some day, on some blog, or sketchy hip hop forum, or Russian pirate/porn site, I would find this most holy of hip hop holy grails. And low and behold, it finally happened. And not only did I find Harvest for the World, but I also located his other impossible-to-find album, Danksta Life!
Before I go further, a quick run-down of the man of the hour: Ganjah K is a Los Angeles emcee, a member of First Brigade (and possibly also an early member of Freestyle Fellowship?), who kills it on the mic. He yells when he raps. He has amazing battle skills. He's had an elusive career, getting signed to the great Satan Pallas Records in the mid nineties, never getting official release for his records, and subsequently appearing almost entirely on small compilations and guest spots for nearly 20 years.
And this could very well be a valid reason why I'm so passionate about Ganjah K's work. Certainly there's the struggle I have to go through to find his music, which I find rewarding. But more importantly, where some of his more successful cohorts have had the means to become slicker, flashier, and more mainstream, Ganjah K has been denied that success and therefore still retains that raw edge that is so appealing. Ultimately, this means that whenever I hear a new appearance by Ganjah I'm not disappointed.
Here's where I found these jems:
http://philaflava.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=111336&sid=50851f9312644e3f977ae8364c5a3a00
Be sure to give praise where praise is due(i.e. to Ganjah K and the dudes who actually uploaded this shiz)! But be aware: I'd always heard that the sound quality of Ganjah's Harvest was terrible, but I wasn't prepared for just how terrible it was. So, if anybody out there reading this has a better copy, please let me know! I Will gladly trade/pay money for/have sex with you for/blackmail you for/threaten you with bodily harm for a quality version of Harvest.
Now that I've finally found these records, my life is strangely empty.
Here's a hit of the Ganjah.

Got My Mind Trippin



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hip Hop Holy Grail Part One: Portrait Of A Ghetto Raised

As far as I can tell, this can't be found anywhere. For those who know of this, no intro is necessary. For everyone else, this is the ultra-rare Project Blowed-related compilation album Portrait of a Ghetto Raised on One Punch Records. Just barely dropping in 1998, it came about soon after the blow-up that was Beneath the Surface and just before the equally-incendiary Cater To the DJ. However, unlike those two comps, Portrait came and went with barely a rumor to mark it's passing.
Produced in large by Fat Jack, Portrait boasts some unheard tracks by some Blowed veterans: Abstract Tribe Unique, Ganjah K, Volume 10, Smooth 7, Dutch, DK Toon and others. The vibe is a relative departure from the experimental flavor that the Blowed camp generally deliver: This is raw, post-g-funk-era hip hop. The beats are from drum machines, not samples; the bass is smooth and prominant; and high, whiney synth lines dominate.
I remember learning about this release when a promo cd single showed up at the indie record store down the street from my apartment. I recognized Fat Jack's and Dutch's name at the time, and waited impatiently for the album to show up, but to no avail. Then one night, years later, I was checking out the tiny shelf of tapes in the same record shop (Orpheum, for those who care-RIP) and low and behold, there it was! I asked the tight-pantsed clerk about it, and he told me it had been sitting collecting dust for all those years, waiting for my sweaty palms to clutch at it. Cosmic.
Check it out! The tracks by Ganjah K and Dutchman are standouts.

Track listing:
A1: Portrait of a Ghetto Raised: Intro - Ab Rude
A2: In the Club Tonight - The Suspects
A3: It's the Life - Smooth 7
A4: Right Or Wrong - Mark Means feat. Mr. Beloved
A5: Feel the High - Ganjah K
A6: Clothes By the Trees - K-Lam
A7: Do Or Die - The Suspects feat. Sir Loon
A8: Affiliations - Abstract Tribe Unique
A9: The Game Has Been Good To Me - Ganjah K
B1: Profound - K-Lam
B2: Everybody Banging - DK Toon feat. Smooth 7
B3: Peace Of the West - Dutchman feat. Volume 10 & DZL
B4: Take Me - Billie feat. Mr. Beloved
B5: Give It Up - Israel
B6: Low Low - Volume 10 feat. Flowood
B7: In the Zone - The Suspects feat. Money Green

Portrait of a Ghetto Raised

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another Notch In My Elitist Bastard Belt


It's a sad-but-true fact: When it comes to music, I'm a snob. I'm as worse as they come. It's despicable, and at night I cry to the Lord and beat my pillow about it, but there it is, staring me in the face come morning.
But really, if I wasn't such a snob, then why else would I have a music blog?
Case in point: The subject of this week's post, the Coachmen. Who the hell are the Coachmen, you ask? Thurston Moore's band before Sonic Youth, I say! Are they any good, you query? No, but that's not the point!, I shout at your face with spittle. Listen: recordings like the Coachmen's are released for one purpose and one purpose only: To let hipster wannabe's obtain and then name-drop crap that normal people don't know about. I know you know what I'm talking about.
I worshiped Sonic Youth in my early teens. I saw their video for "Kool Thing" on MTV one night and fell in love. They were angry, beautiful, hip and ugly all at the same time. They posed and presented a themselves as detached observers and passionate activists; as proponants of hipster culture and dejectors of corporate America. they were articulate and abrasive, and unlike anything I had heard before that point.
"Kool Thing" was on their new album Goo. But what did album did I go out and pick up? "Sonic Death", a soon-to-be out-of-print slab of dark, claustrophobic noise recorded by the Youth on 4-track in the dark days of the early 80's, during their European Tour. Yep, 64 minutes of audience chatter mixed with abrasive, dirgy, out-of-tune noise. And next I bought what this post is about: The Coachmen's 13-minute 1979 demo record - just to show the world how cool and into Sonic Youth I was. But, as it turned out, nobody cared. Which I guess, by my standards, actually means that I was EXTRA cool.
The Coachmen were snobs themselves. Consisting of a RISD student, some other guys, and Thurston, they rode on the coattails of the Talking Heads and Television, playing, nerdy, edgy, New York punk. But where the former bands succeeded in creating amazing and transcendent works of forward-thinking and sophisticated artwork, the Coachmen didn't really have the same spark. They sounded exactly like what they were: A bunch of guys shamelessly in love with Tom Verlaine and David Byrne.
But therin lies their beauty. They strike me as naive and wide-eyed, worshipping the time and place they found themselves in. If punk hadn't become the measuring stick of all that was cool, the Coachmen might have seemed even downright endearing.
So take a listen with that in mind, and what you'll hear are a group of young people tentatively stretching their imaginations in a genre that was known for its constraints, singing about what they're familiar with. And just to get the added hipster effect, you're getting the entire record (as one single track), dubbed off tape. How hardcore is that!? Enjoy the tape hiss.

Failure To Thrive

Monday, July 6, 2009

You Wanna Hear About My New Obsession?


Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie

I have a voracious appetite when it comes to music. I get a hankering for some sound, or some band, or some song, and I get an insatiable buzzing in my brain, and when I find what I'm looking for I gorge myself on it until the very thought of it makes me want to puke. Yep, sounds healthy. But that's the way I am, and that's what makes the buzzing subside, and there isn't much I can do about it. At least I'm not into crack.
By chance I happened to hear a song by Garbage the other day, and for whatever reason the buzzing started up and it got me to thinking about an old video I saw on MTV late one night back in the 90's. Garbage had been receiving heavy airplay of their song "Only Happy When It Rains", and on the late-night alternative show 120 Minutes, MTV played "Suffocate Me" by Shirley Manson's earlier group, Angelfish. Buzz. I did a little online research and as it turns out, Angelfish was just a side-project of another band, a Scots group called Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie. Apparently they were a big deal in their homeland, but unfortunately didn't make much of a splash elsewhere. So, to make the buzzing go away, in short order I tracked down everything I could by Angelfish, and just to be safe, I did the same with the Mackenzies. For the sake of my sanity, am I glad that I did!
Angelfish were a decent outfit, and comparisons to Garbage are warranted, since it was essentially Shirley Manson's solo outing with Mackenzie members serving as her backup band. The mood of the music was similar as well: although rawer than the band that would make Manson famous, the music was still dark and dirgy alternative rock. But where Angelfish seemed to point the way to Garbage, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie struck me as a complete about face. Their sound was that of an honest, hard-working, and full-fledged band with a penchant for soaring melodies and catchy hooks. The music was lively and memorable, with a foot-stomping rhythm and songs that got stuck in my head after only one listen.
Shirley actually played only a supporting role in Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, as a backup singer (sounding a lot like Deborah Harry) and keyboardist. The major focus of the band was the charismatic vocalist, Martin Metcalfe, who at a turn could remind you of diverse talents like Scott Walker, Ian McCulloch, Nick Cave, Michael Hutchence or Lou Reed.
They were glossy and idealistic as only an 80's band can be, singing at times dingy third-person narratives about street life (Jim's Killer), and other times slick, Simple Minds wannabe anthems concerning vague world issues (Goodwill City). Whatever the style or subject matter, they tackled it with a raw energy that Garbage never came close to attaining (thanks in part to ex-Exploited guitarist John Duncan). It's almost a crime that they never made it big, when at the time shit like Information Society and Escape Club were radio mainstays. But that's always how it is, I guess.
I'm still listening to the Mackenzies every day, and I don't feel like puking my guts out yet. So they must be good. Check out the following tracks to hear some great music.

Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie


Goodwill City (12" Remix)


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Roxy Music Megapost part the First


Roxy Music

I'm afraid that I'm never going to fully wrap my brain around Roxy Music. I just can't comprehend them, as much as I try. So, in an attempt to understand this band and the conflicting roller coaster of emotions the music generates for me, I'm writing this post.
Here's what I know: Roxy Music was envisioned by keyboardist/vocalist Bryan Ferry and bassist Graham Simpson in the early 70's, but by the time the world met them, Simpson had left and the band was fueled by the creative tension between Ferry and Brian Eno. Along with classically trained oboist/saxaphonist Andy Mackay and guitarist Phil Manzanera, Roxy Music was nothing if not dynamic. Bryan Ferry was essentially a soul singer - he was influenced by American R&B and Motown. He also had a knack for crafting memorable hooks reminiscent at times of the Beatles and the Bee Gees' art pop experiments. His most immediately definable feature, however, was his voice: He utilized a bloodless, vampiric croon, stark and cold; sort of a nightmarish version of Nina Simone or Odetta.
Eno, the great anti-musician, didn't so much play music as
warp music with the various electronics he had at his disposal. With the Velvet Underground as an obvious influence, Eno would twiddle knobs, push buttons and systematically tear down any standard pop construct Ferry would send his way. The result was that choruses would have eerie atonal synthesized noise floating underneath them. Pounding bass and drum rhythms would disappear behind a wall of white noise cranked to the max. Ferry's organ would have to contend with Eno's space noises from the corner of the stage.
This dynamic served them well, at least early on. The music was a confounding concoction of sounds both smooth and abrasive, sleek and ugly, predictable and jarring, sophisticated and primitive. Pop songs seemed to effortlessly meld into art rock and from there to atonal noise jams. Eventually the tension would be stretched to the breaking point, as demonstrated on their sophomore album
For Your Pleasure - where literally every attempt of Ferry's to create an effective pop sound would be thwarted by Eno's maniacal treatments. But for seeming polar opposites, Ferry and Eno worked remarkably well together for longer than anyone could expect.
What derails me isn't so much the seeming compatibility of the disparate elements of Roxy Music, but what Roxy Music portrayed through their songs and imagery. On stage, they were flamboyant, covered in makeup and ridiculous outfits. They were preoccupied with fashion, glamour, the cult of celebrity, and expounded on the virtues of materialism with a fervor that was 10 years ahead of its time. Their music could just as easily be a mainstream pastiche than an abrasive dirge. They appeared on the outside merely as shallow punks cashing in on the dominant elements of Marc Bolan's glam movement.
But they were so maddeningly sincere about it! They were all top-notch musicians, for one thing, and Ferry wrote with the articulation of a poet. No other band could write a song about a robotic lover, seem completely serious about it,
and involve an oboe player. Which leads me to another point - they approached these shallow, materialistic ideals without any sense of irony. Ferry could sing about his new-found celebrity status, his big house, his new pool, and his new mail-order rubber woman with a singular intensity that could cause chills. He sang like a man burdened under the weight of the worlds' sins - only this man was self-centered, filthy rich, and a sociopath, who was unaware of any of the worlds' actual problems.
It was a band that thrived on uncomfortable contradictions. To appear as clowns and deliver stunning music, and to sing about materialism from the heart, is what confuses me so much about Roxy Music. In their early period at least, I get the feeling that deep down they were poking fun at the absurdities of the jet-setters and watered-down pop culture in general. But I can't be sure of that, because not once would any of them crack a smile. After Brian Eno left the band, and Bryan Ferry asserted his dominance over the group, things became a bit more obvious. But even then, the lines of distinction between celebrity and critic never fully came into focus.
Below are a few videos I came across that show Roxy Music in their early glory. Since they were such a visual band, I figured that these would be more pertinent than just audio tracks. Enjoy.












Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Angry Young Them


Them

This song kicks, that's all there is to it. From the opening fuzz-guitar lick to the all-too-soon fade out at the end, "I Can Only Give You Everything" is pure energy. The Yardbirds may have had the amphetamine edginess, and the Stones may have had the predatory swagger, but to me Van Morrison's Them epitomized the rough and unpolished anger and exuberance of the 60's English rhythm and blues movement (and so what if they were Irish?). I can only imagine how the clubs must have erupted when this song was performed live. Badassitude.

I Can Only Give You Everything

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hot Potato

Aceyalone, Mikah 9, Ganjah K, Volume 10, Big Al

Here's a criminally hard-to-find Freestyle Fellowship track. Originally a b-side from 1993, it was the featured version in their "Hot Potato" video. For whatever reason it hasn't popped up anywhere since. This version has little to do with the album track. The beat is much livelier and the Fellowship exude an energy that was rare even at their peak (at least on record). This was the Fellowship's golden age. The way they fed off of each other, constantly pushing the boundaries of what each emcee could do individually and as part of the group is at times jaw-dropping. They don't disappoint here. Check out guest emcee Ganjah K's verse early on - He definitely holds his own like the heavyweight he is.

Hot Potato (Blow Up Club Remix)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eww...


Ratt


I liked this song a lot, when I was seven. Not that I would have ever admitted it at the time - at that age I was still eager please my parents, and Ratt definitely did not please them - But I secretly wrote in my diary that I thought they were rad. And who could blame me? This was 1985, smack dab in the era of hair metal, and MTV played their video for "Round and Round" all the time. To an impressionable child, the Ratt people seemed dangerous: They were sweaty and over-sexed, surrounded by women and smoke pots and neon green light. Their clothes were shredded, seemingly by their sheer manliness. Their hair was permed in a badass fashion.
Listening to their music now I'm struck by how tame it is. It almost sounds as if "Round and Round" could have been sung by the Angels or the Shirelles. And after all, hair metal was for all purposes in the 80's what the Brill Building sound was for the early 60's: Pop music for the kiddies. Young men and women singing about their stupid girlfriends and boyfriends, and sometimes cars. Now that I think about it, I guess this point was already made back when Twisted Sister sang "Leader of the Pack." Hmm. But it bears repeating.
So Ratt and Warrant and Winger and White Lion and endless other skinny white boys dressed in tights with big hair might not actually be as hard core as I once thought, but the music can still be appreciated. Or hated. Take your pick.

Round and Round


Phenomenal Cats


The Kinks


I can't really say anything about the Kinks that hasn't already been said a thousand times, so I won't bother too much. But I will say this: I love the Kinks. Ray Davies has to be among the best songwriters in recorded history. In the mid-to-late sixties they played quiet, homey music, in contrast to an era that was known for experimentation and excess. At the time they must have appeared an anathema to many a hipsters' ear, writing songs that their mothers' could enjoy listening to.
Two of my favorite Kinks tracks from this era are "Waterloo Sunset" and "Autumn Almanac", a pair of pastoral and childlike numbers that touted the virtues of home and stability; and rather than inciting revolution they spoke of calmly witnessing the passage of time. Listening to these tracks makes me want to curl up with a cup of tea or some shit and read Agatha Christie. Or climb an apple tree with a stick and whack apples in the fall. Something along those lines. Something English. So if you like the following tracks, I encourage you to pick up "Face To Face", "Something Else" and the deluxe edition of "The Village Green Preservation Society". They're all amazing records.

Waterloo Sunset

Autumn Almanac


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bring out the Green Trumpet!


The U-Men

So at some point The U-Men were singled out and saddled with the responsibility of being the first "grunge band." This distinction has also in the past been given to other and more fitting bands (most appropriately with Portland's Wipers), but the U-Men can't seem to shake it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that they were a Seattle band in the mid-Eighties, and that various U-Men went on to form notable groups after their break-up (The Crows, Gas Huffer and Catbutt, for example). But honestly the amped up music they made had little to do with Black Sabbath and the Stooges, and sounded more like Richard Hell or Hasil Adkins on a particularly sauced day.
They played punk with a decidedly hillbilly-ish twist, like they were the Butthole Surfers' less inbred northern relatives (In fact the Surfers wrote a tribute to them, "O-Men"). Guitarist Tom Price would churn and clang his instrument along like a derailed train over the solid rhythm section of Chaz Ryan and Jason Tillman (to be replaced by Amphetamine Reptile's Tom Hazelmeyer!), while singer John Bigley howled, growled and shrieked in what cumulated as a hallucinatory hay-ride involving drunken surgeons, unfortunate accidents, animal abusers, juice parties and something that can only be described as being "too good to be food". By all accounts they should have been much more appreciated during their time, should have been legendary even without the tag of being a Seattle band. The music speaks for itself: It's by turns disturbing, hilarious, original and energetic as all get out. Check out "The Green Trumpet" off their 1985 EP "Stop Spinning". It's a song that makes me wish I had been old enough to see them live, but it also makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it. Hold on to something.

The Green Trumpet

Monday, April 6, 2009

In response to the last post...

"If you go here
http://www.judydyble.com
and look at my blog, you can see what I have been up to for the last few years and what I am doing now..."

So I had no idea she was making music again, but from what I've heard on her myspace page it's fantastic work. Sounding a little like Carter/Tutti or This Mortal Coil, (but without the obvious goth posturing) Judy's music nowadays falls somewhere between ambient music and folk, creating an ephemeral and mystical sound that is perfectly suited to her voice. Check out her myspace page
here!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring catch-up: Fairport Convention, part 4


Judy Dyble

Okay, so it's been a while. How's it going? For the past few months I've been in school, and although I've thought about posting often, it's been hard to find the time. However, it's now Spring break, and I have no excuses. And, since it's a bright, sunny day I thought I'd reinstate in search of the lost chord with some sunny, hippy-dippy English psych-folk!
After Fairport Convention replaced her with Sandy Denny, Judy Dyble became somewhat of an obscure commodity until disappearing off the face of the musical map altogether. However, for a few years in the late sixties and early seventies she could be found if you looked hard enough. And here she is: popping up (and just as quickly disappearing again) on the 1968 demo recordings of Giles, Giles and Fripp. Sounding much more lighthearted and whimsical then they would with King Crimson, these rough recordings are a glimpse of the transistion that occured within psychedelia that led to prog rock. So, I guess this could be seen as a major step in the world of progressive music, but in the Fairport world this is just a minor footnote. So here it is, Judy Dyble singing with Giles, Giles and Fripp.

I Talk To the Wind