Ofege-Try and Love

February 27, 2013

Ofege

Try and Love (EMI 1971)

http://www15.zippyshare.com/v/27794030/file.html (NEW LINK)

Try and Love saunters along at its own pace. There is something slinky, soulful and languid about how it kind of slinks out of the speakers. The guitar playing on Try and Love is exceedingly fried and stoned to the hilt and makes even the most trite lyrics sound impeccably cool by mere association. It’s kind of unsurprising that it was recorded by a bunch of Nigerian teenagers studying at a college in Nigeria. Ofege has this optimistic, wide-eyed sense of wonder about them that imbues itself into each song as they pine away for a simple world where we all just try to love one another while bemoaning those who bring bad vibes into their lives. While the subject material is straight out of Haight-Ashbury, the instrumentation falls somewhere between a strange Nexus of Santana, Nigerian highlife music and American r&b. It’s a strange brew just based on that stylistic concoction, but the guitarist elevates Ofege to something far more transcendent than an interesting footnote in musical history. His playing is so loose, expansive and free, yet funky that it kind of leads each song on a slow spiral out of control that is kind of psychedelic in ways I never thought possible as he channels countless cultures into each stoned riff.

Another thing I always appreciated about this album is how there is a lovesick and misanthropic vibe that serves as an undercurrent to the flower power that dominates as the theme of the album. For example, the lyrics to the opener “Nobody Fails” is almost straight out of a Morrissey tune as the singer kvetches about how the opposite sex never truly appreciates you until you’re gone. However, the guitarist bails Ofege out again by interjecting some real weirdo vibes as he kicks into some Santana-esque crescendo that breaks down into some bizarro staccato interlude that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the song. However, “It’s Not Easy” is one of those songs that outshine everything else on an album and make Try and Love a habitual listen instead of an occasional one. It’s just one of those perfectly imperfect compositions that just make the world a better place. It’s built upon a triumvirate that ebbs and flows throughout the song: a stoned chorus that chants the title of the song, impassioned pleading about the difficulties of love and a guitar riff that kind of dances a headlong strut throughout the song. It is all I ever wanted from a song and it makes me ignore every fault of this flawed, but eminently loveable album.

Radar Bros.

The Singing Hatchet(See Thru/Chemikal Underground 1999)

http://www41.zippyshare.com/v/43809736/file.html

At first listen, the Radar Bros sound like any number of 90s sad sacks enamored with grandiose crescendos and morose sentiments set to song. A quick stroll through my admittedly hazy memories uncovers a panoply of Acetones, Lows, Idahos, American Analog Sets and Red House Painters equally enamored with this weathered, but worthwhile formula. At the time, I thought of every single one of these bands as my sullen stalwarts on those rainy days that bled into lonely nights, but time has eaten away at their charms. What was once soothing and intimate to these ears, now sounds bloated and boring. However, the Radar Bros are still as cozy as an afghan blanket. Yeah, they mined the same territory as the rest, but there has always been something panoramic and ostentatious about their music. To be honest, the real reason I love this band, especially their work on The Singing Hatchet and its followup And the Surrounding Mountains, is how it all falls somewhere between the vibe of a slow-motion Pink Floyd ballad and Neil Young at his most bruised and confused. That’s a bit of a dishonest and hyperbolic statement since the Radar Bros aren’t even in the same stratosphere as either, but they do a stellar job of conjuring up the same troubled, but beautiful hoodoo of both. During the 90s and early 2000s, Radar Bros just kind of perfected this languorous, glacial pace that served as the perfect canvas for some honest to god anthems that kind of make you wish they were big in the 70s so you could smoke a bowl and wave a lighter as they plodded through imaginary hit after imaginary hit.

The Singing Hatchet is one of the unsung albums of the 90s. The opening track “Shifty Lies” is kind of the most perfect and sublime beginning to an album that seems mired in defeatist posture. Hell, the chorus to the song is “shifty lies and senseless visions, overflow like frozen rivers, stand in line and watch the time, you’re cattled up and weeks behind, how long, how long until we reach the bottom of the lake?”  It starts off like some 70s cosmic Country and Western meditation until it suddenly swells and rises to an almost proggy chorus glorifying resignation and ennui. It’s kind of epic in its own minor league way. It paints the lovable loser as unlikely hero who sees life as it truly is.

The rest of the album just grows more dour. “You’re on an Island” amps up the 70s prog quotient with some intro that sounds like an Alan Parsons Project instrumental that stumbles into some existential ballad where our protagonist kind of wonders a bit too hard about  lost love a bit too much. In fact, it’s kind of creepy. I guess that’s another reason why I like this album. There’s some unsettling themes going on underneath the Live at Pompeii vibe. In fact, “Shoveling Sons” is kind of macabre too as it centers around  some apocalyptic tale about young men digging the graves of the old as the earth crawls to its inevitable end. I like how the story doesn’t match the instrumentation which carries on as if its some stoned anthem about lazy days in a hammock. It’s kind of one long bummer after another, but there is something so soothing and relaxing about how each song gently eases you down another notch toward a crummy mood. I guess that’s why I gravitate to The Singing Hatchet so much. It’s kind of a thematically perfect narrative about a protagonist who gradually loses the will to fight and grows to like it.

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Magic is Tragic Mix: February 2013

http://www44.zippyshare.com/v/14238803/file.html

Yeah, I’m lame and post more mixes than albums these days, but I’ve got an excuse this time. A flu descended upon my abode and my son, wife and I have been recycling some bad hoodoo between us for the past month. Therefore, blogging about unpopular albums fell somewhere between roll over and die and wish for a healthier tomorrow in my daily to-do list. Anyhow, this one is a bit of a sloppy mess of songs that have lightened the load during these contagious times. It falls somewhere between an ode to 90s indie-pop and its forefathers, divergent strains of reggae and library music coupled with the greatest hits of the 60s and 70s compilation that only exists in my mind. Hope you enjoy.

April March & Los Cincos-Baby Blue

New Age Steppers-Fade Away

Melody’s Echo Chamber-I Follow You

Kevin Ayers-May I

Royal Headache-Never Again

The Pastels-Nothing to be Done

UFO-Oh My

Keith Hudson-Playing It Cool

The Baird Sisters-On and On

Robin Artus/Paul Kass-Alphia Micro

Harlem-Friendly Ghost

Ducktails-Hamilton Road

The Oblivians and Quintron-Live the Life

Lower Dens-Tea Lights

Flaming Lips-Hit Me Like You Did the First Time

Times New Viking-No Room to Live

Chris Darrow-Shawnee Moon

Segun Bucknor-La La La(Part One)

Fairport Convention-Million Dollar Bash

Butterglory-Back of My Hand

Guided By Voices-Non-Absorbing

Beau Brummels-Laugh, Laugh

Blawan-Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?

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