Somehow I’ve made it five years without giving up on this ramshackle miss-mosh of reviews. I came close to scrubbing this site clean on numerous occasions, but something keeps me doing this now and again. Much love and appreciation to all the folks who visited us and even sent along some kind words. Anyhow, let’s not gush. Here is our latest in a long line of monthly mixes.

Magicistragic Mix for June

http://www4.zippyshare.com/v/66921494/file.html

Joao Gilberto-Aguas De Marco

Swamp Dogg-Do You Believe

Electric Wizard-Vinum Sabbathi

Charlambides-Those Who Walk

Adolescents-Kids of the Black Hole

Endless Boogie-Taking out the Trash

The Breeders-Safari

My Bloody Valentine-(When You Wake) You’re Still in a Dream(Peel Session 1998)

Phil Yost-Bent City I

Beaches-Dune

Wire-The 15th

Eddy Current Suppression Ring-Wrapped Up

The Woolen Men-Her Careers

John Maus-Hey Moon

Lyme and Cybelle-Follow Me

Royal Trux-Back to School

Morly Grey-After Me Again

Killing Joke-Eighties

Glass Candy-Beautiful Object

The Dovers-What Am I Going to Do?

Cass McCombs-A

April 25, 2012

Cass McCombs

A (Monitor 2003)

http://www.mediafire.com/?m5vlzvrbccrtvds

On the surface, the tottering building blocks that lay the groundwork for Cass McCombs’ debut album seem all too predictable and safe for an indie-rock album circa 2003. The Velvet Underground, 4ad, Robyn Hitchcock and Syd Barrett spring to mind upon a cursory cruise through its eleven tracks. However, they years have slowly prodded me deeper and deeper into this lonely, lackadaisical and deceptively lush album and come to the conclusion that A is so much more than the sum of an easily solved equation. In fact, it might actually wind up being cited as a seminal influence all its own once the dust settles after his long and lonesome career is complete.

Many great artists are able to conceptualize their own insular universe over the course of an album. The Stooges inspire dread and nihilistic abandon. My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless embedded you in the middle of a kaleidoscope of feedback. Michael Hurley whisks you off to a crowded campfire where the bottles are quickly drained and the bowl is slowly passed. Cass McCombs’ A isn’t quite a card carrying member of that hallowed crew, but it does inspire a lonely and lost vibe that makes you want to wear pajamas and draw the blinds on the sunniest of days. However, there is a sunny undercurrent that drags it above a self-destructive slog through the depths of depression. It’s one of the first things I reach for on those days where life should go absolutely nowhere for an hour and my hectic existence reaches a much needed standstill. It achieves stasis as it balances majesty and melancholy perfectly on the scales of my mind.

Supposedly recorded after a long, protracted nomadic existence spent bouncing from city to city and couch to couch culminating in a Greyhound bus retreat to a home base of San Francisco, A definitely feels like the work of a restless soul in search of anything that could possibly become familiar someday. “Gee, It’s Good to Be Back Home” is alternately sentimental and sarcastic about his travails as he sweetly sings of how it’s wonderful to be around old friends, but offers up the half-hearted description of his home as a place where you “don’t sleep, don’t eat and don’t drink the foam” as a sad acceptance of the futility of this dark place and the excess it entails.

His detached, kind of downtrodden sarcasm and bitterness raises its weathered and weary head again on “AIDS in Africa” where he paints a landscape where cancer and AIDS decimate the ranks of our beloved while folks praise a benevolent creator who utilizes these tragedies as part of some divine plan. The effect is multiplied by its reliance upon a wheezing, jittery church organ and angelic harmonies, but the message is succinct and decries all who ignore the misery around them and build cocoons in which their minds slumber until eternity calls their inevitable number.

“I Went to the Hospital” captures the transient nature of his life as he ponders the fragility of it all when you face your mortality. He talks of a bout with illness and embarks on a narrative detailing all of the thoughts we all have when the unknown looms large and casts shadow puppets of our regrets and missteps upon the walls of our examination room. It is a meditation on mortality and straddles the line between paranoia and confessional, but that wash of organ and gently jangling chords make it seem like a gentle jaunt once you soak in it a few times.

Ultimately, A is an album full of dread about what has already happened and what may come. He puts on a straight face and conjures a narcotic and dazed aura around each song, but dig beneath the surface and there are countless ghosts that haunt every track. A puts on a brave face, but the fractures reveal themselves with time and make it one of those albums that you listen to when you want to enshroud yourself in defense of your own woes.

John Martyn

Bless the Weather(Island 1971)

http://www.mediafire.com/?ykgom24mw1k

As I garner more rings around my stump, it becomes more difficult to find myself immersed in those magical moments where you sit dumbfounded by the genius of an album throughout your maiden voyage in its presence. Thankfully, the advent of the internet has unlocked new universes of sounds and genres my teenage mind couldn’t have even imagined when I pined away for unattainable love in my bedroom and idolized Morrissey as if he was the bee’s knees. However, I possess a near photographic memory of the first time I rushed home to my hovel to hear such classics as the Holy Modal Rounders’ Have Moicy, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless or Fairport Covention’s Unhalfbricking and just oozed and melted into the moment as if it were a landmark in my life imbued with a near ecstatic, religious fervor for what was just imprinted upon my very soul. These moments are rare and magical and I hope they pass before my eyes when I shed this mortal coil.

I discovered John Martyn via an article in the Wire where I was drawn to his quote  “For a while I had the reputation of a real bad boy: this man was going to punch you out, shoot you or fuck you. I deliberately cultivated it, because it kept people away from me. I want people away from me, basically… Obviously one loses one’s innocence as one gets older; it becomes more difficult to speak. But I think innocence really is permanent.” The combination of sensitivity, difficult behavior, self-destructive tendencies and eloquence inspired me to order Bless the Weather from the local record store chain in my podunk college town and thought nothing of it until it arrived weeks later. I was fresh out of college and living in self-imposed poverty as a line cook at the kind of Italian joint where they’d passive aggressively place a handle of whiskey out for the staff after we survived an onslaught of meal tickets as if they wanted to exterminate us like a coven of cockroaches. Who cared? I was passing time until an escape to Savannah, Georgia came to fruition. It was a light-hearted time where friends were plentiful, excess was welcomed and the moment was all that mattered for now. Anyhow, the call eventually came and I walked a crooked mile to retrieve my album and I sat down in a tattered living room littered with pretentious tomes, soiled dishes and mountains of music and placed the cd into the tray as my roommates gathered around this figurative campfire of detritus and the opening strains of John Martyn’s “Go Easy” washed over us and made us feel new again then tossed us onto the rocks below with one of the most haunting, battered sentiments our uncalloused ears had yet heard in our young lives.

Looking at me you never find out what a working man’s about
Raving all night, sleeping away the day
Something to ask
Something to say
Something to keep the pain away
Something I’d like to see if it’s alright.

Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by.

Spending my time, making it shine, gotta throw away the rest
Look at the ways to vent and amaze my mind
Something I need
Something I plead for
Something I have to say
Something to keep me safe while I’m away.

Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by
Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by.

One way for me, one way for you, one way for all of us
To get back home, do whatever we want to do
Nothing to tell you
Nothing to show
Nothing that you don’t know
Something to play
Something to say for now.

Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by
Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by
Love, don’t pass me by

It was one of those inconceivable instances where the music matched the unfair expectations I had built up in my mind. “Go Easy” plastered a seemingly endless grin on our faces as we simultaneously basked in the beauty of the song while being rendered dumbstruck by the eloquence of how he painted a tragic, romantic and troubled worldview in a simple song. It was a transcendent prayer to the faceless gods above to allow him enough moments of joy to keep trudging along in a life where he alternated between suffering and inspiration. He hopes for more of the latter while accepting that his personal flaws invited a horde of the former. It’s submissive and defiant all at once which kind of sums up his existence at that moment in his life.

The ironic thing about the gush of hyperbole that precedes this sentence is that the rest of the album fails to match the heights of its life affirming introduction. Don’t get me wrong. Bless the Weather is one of my favorite albums, but is not perfect by any means. However, I would tout this as one of the best half albums ever recorded. It doesn’t hurt that the second song on the album “Bless the Weather” nearly captures the same conflicted sentiments of its predecessor.

Time after time I held it just to watch it die
Line after line I loved it just to watch it cry
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you away
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you home
Wave after wave I washed it just to watch it turn
Day after day I cooled it just to watch it burn
Pain after pain I stood it just to see how it feels
Rain after rain I stood it just to make it real
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the day you go away
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you away

It’s yet another ode to embracing the warm glow of love and a wallowing in the inevitable decay of it due to his own failings and flaws. Martyn was never quite so proud and powerful, yet so frail and pummeled by life as on this album and these two tracks are so alive, yet injured and torn that they break your heart while inspiring you because he comes across as a prizefighter who never goes down in sheer spite of those who jab at his soul.

There are other highlights like “Just Now” which champions transience as a way of life where friends shift and shuffle like a deck of cards and happiness is a state of mind if you can just get your mind right amidst the distractions of life. Judging from its title “Let the Good Things Come” should be joyous, but Martyn delivers a meditation on the paths taken and those ignored and wishes his trajectory could have been steeper and his valleys not so deep. “Head and Heart” is an acceptance of his imperfections and a ballad devoted to anyone who will embrace him as he is. It is a devotion to a love that is logical, yet elemental and passionate. I’ve found it in my life and pray he had as well during the course of his life. Hell, I even love his take on “Singing in the Rain”, but there are a few missteps that relegate it to the middle ground of most John Martyn fans, but its highs outweigh its lows by such a large margin. Ultimately, Bless the Weather is just as flawed and inspirational as the man who recorded it.

Aeriel Pink

“Round and Round”

http://www.mediafire.com/?mmiixzh2vgz

Sorry for the long absence. The heart was willing, but the fingers weak. To be honest, life moved at such a pace that rambling about random tunes lost its significance when life grabs you by the boo-boos and drags you off to exciting locales. Sans the metaphor, I just bought a house and will be welcoming my first child on Halloween. Therefore, my inane scribbling about lonesome perverts and their latest musical excerpts took a back seat. However, that itch kept scratching and here I am for another round of conversation with whoever the hell reads this red hot mess.

As the years accumulate, it get a bit tougher to bask in the new. Those moments where your jaw drops for a few seconds and a smile spreads from ear to ear become increasingly rare. Yes, this mostly applies to the big picture in life, but it also rears its ugly head in my difficulty to hit that high one gets when hearing Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Supper Club or My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless for the first time. By no means, do I intend to sow such hyperbole upon Aeriel Pink’s “Round and Round”, but it did catch me by surprise and plaster a shit-eating grin on my face. On the surface, its just a kiss on the toes of 80s nostalgia, but it is such a departure from his weirdo vibe that its sudden accessibility kind of weaseled its way into my psyche and has not left for over a week.

“Round and Round” is the single from Aeriel Pink’s upcoming album Before Today and it sheds the murkiness and willful eccentricity of past efforts in favor of a more cuddly sort of creep. It’s like R. Stevie Moore intersecting with Can during a slow early-80s r&b jam at first before busting into the smoothest chorus this side of Vaseline. Yes, I did just sow the proverbial hyperbole, but it just sounds that great as the flowers bloom and wind takes on a warmer tinge. Each time I hear it, it reveals yet another aspect that makes me wonder where in the hell this song was lurking in this dude’s head. So familiar, yet kind of alien, “Round and Round” is a soothing, yet smarmy anthem about nothing in particular.

Iran-The Moon Boys

August 25, 2009

Iran

The Moon Boys(Tumult 2003)

http://www.mediafire.com/?xfzgntxay4m

I was sorely disappointed by Iran’s latest album, Dissolver, because it stripped away all of the scuzz and feedback that mated so perfectly with their wayward way with a simple melody. Yeah, its “progression” probably had a lot to do with the addition of TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone to the band, but their newfound clarity always aims for the bullseye where Aaron Aite used to revel in mistakes and missteps. By no means is Dissolver a bad album, but count me in the minority who find Aites’ embrace of chaos more appealing than his attempts at an orderly pop song. Then again, six years have passed since The Moon Boys was released and god knows that time has a funny way of adjusting the way you view the world. Therefore, let us take a few moments to pay tribute to an album that may be one of the best albums Siltbreeze, Xpressway, Shrimper or Catsup Plate never released. Yes, these are obscure benchmarks, but it was rare that any of these labels released a perfect marriage of noise to pop even though I wanted so hard to believe that it was so. Yes, the Dead C, V-3, Yips, Amps for Christ and other disparate souls have come damn close to this holy union, but I always reach for this album over anything in their discographies.

The synthesis of noise and pop is hardly an underground concept. God knows that the Jesus & Mary Chain made some moolah with their own jigsaw of Phil Spector and white noise and the whole shoegaze scene was based upon sensual coos and a lusher brand of feedback and squall, but The Moon Boys stands out because there is a sprawl to their compositions that seems epic comparison to the aforementioned bands’ succinct slices of sweet and sour. Sonic Youth’s “Hyperstation” from their Daydream Nation seems like the most accurate touchstone for Iran’s music circa The Moon Boys. I remember listening to “Hyperstation” at 3am as a teenager and imagining if there was another band that could conjure the same loose, late-night vibe where a psych-pop song sounds as if it was heard via a faraway AM station many states away from your destination. This album does that for me throughout its entirety. Then again, I am a former insomniac who used to listen to the scratchiest transmissions instead of counting sleep or drinking warm milk, so my bias is evident.

The imperfections are what make The Moon Boys so gripping. Don’t be fooled that melodies worthy of Brian Wilson lurk beneath the muck because these tunes tend to stretch out in sometimes difficult directions. What does stick out is Aaron Aites’ guitar work as he somehow straddles the line between outright sabotage and grubby melody. No song really even stands out here as the overall effect of it as an album is what gets me every single time. I approach it as a long rambling epic where slow, atonal riffs last for days only to be replaced by some of the most simple and sweet notes that shake all of the pieces back into proper balance. Iran always stride close to the edge only to reconfigure themselves as something so sentimental and tender that you almost forget you were listening to a staccato riff seconds before. The Moon Boys is admittedly a bit of a mess, but I hear something new each time I try to reassemble the pieces.

Moose-Sonny and Sam

August 27, 2008

Moose

Sonny and Sam(Virgin 1992)

http://www.mediafire.com/?nizl3ybht94

During my teenage years, I became obsessed with shoegaze and faithfully trekked to Philadelphia’s 3rd St. jazz and Rock to pick up any ep or cd remotely associated with this poorly named genre. I’m not trying to come off as some precocious wisenheimer since I also purchased albums by 24-7 Spyz, Hoodoo Gurus and 3rd Bass. However, I heard a track from My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything on WKDU and spent by bicycle messenger salary on every NME, Sounds and Melody Maker to search out similar sounds. Through these delightful and sometimes ridiculous rags, I fell in love with Slowdive, Swervedriver, Lush and other bands that adopted MBV as an influence and spun it in their own kaleidoscope of feedback and buried melodies. These three acts among others achieved relative success and are still fondly remembered by fans today. However, there were many worthwhile bands that fell through the cracks or lost their bearings after a brilliant single or ep. England’s Moose definitely fell into the latter category even though they released a few albums afterwards.

Sonny and Sam collected tracks from their first two eps and added a couple odds and ends in the hopes of attracting an American audience. It’s a pretty concise summation of what made them stick out from their peers. Moose’s music adhered to the shoegaze blueprint, but there was something tender and habitually heartbroken about their music that set them apart as the sad sacks of the scene. That’s why I loved them since their romantic odes to butterfly collectors and a lover’s morning gaze appealed to the maudlin side of me. Plus, they knew when to turn off the spigots of feedback and toss in a minimal ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on Sarah or Creation records. They had some diversity and their music wasn’t constantly drugged and distant. Moose wanted to be loved and wallow in noise as well as their alienation and woe. Now, their later albums focused more on the alienation and woe instead of noise and that made them less interesting. Sonny and Sam captures a moment when they didn’t know whether they wanted to be a brit-pop band or something more ragged and intriguing.

Slowdive

Pygmalion Demos

http://www.mediafire.com/?um1ms1lcuri

During my teenage years, I heard some tracks from My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything and the resultant eps and they had me at hello. I loved Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, but had no frame of reference for the sounds emanating from my shoddy boombox. I bought all I could and discovered the Creation label which led me to collect a string of eps from Moonshake, Telescopes, Swervedriver and most importantly, Slowdive. The s/t and Morningrise eps contained music even more alien than the MBV releases since it borrowed from them, but made it so sluggish, noisy and it sounded like a funeral dirge. I loved this point in their development and still hold it in the highest of regards. However, Slowdive’s full-length, Just For a day, relied on ep tracks for traction and the rest was underwhelming. Souvlaki was another bag meat shavings that we’ll for another day.

I liked Just For a day and Souvlaki just fine, but sort of wrote them off a bit until their grand finale Souvlaki was released. This album didn’t even get a proper release in the United States. The album was generally ignored in comparison to its more readily available counterparts. However, I picked up the 5(In Mind) eps and was amazed at how they had taken a u-turn from shoegaze and even traditional song structures involving choruses and crescendos to a more amorphous approach.

Souvlaki is sparse to say the least. In my mind, it gets bunched with Flying Saucer Attack’s excellent Further album as the two finest examples of a progression of English acid-folk recorded by actual English bands. Pygmalion. It’s shoegaze on a handful of qualudes and serious personal issues. It is the sound of a breakup, both musically and personally. However, I wouldn’t peg Pygmalion as a particularly sad album. It’s a doped-up bummer to be sure, but there are glimmers of optimism throughout. This charade has gone on long enough and it is supposed to be about the demos for Pygmalion. Well, the demos bear little relation to the actual album. It is obvious that the band had an overflow of songs and ideas as these demos include many songs left on the cutting floor. Many aren’t even songs, but sketches. However, this collection of demos stands on its own as a viable album, albeit even more ghostly and gloomy as its official brethren.

Disco Inferno

D.I. Go Pop (1994 Rough Trade)

http://www.divshare.com/download/4814230-e35

If I had to compile a list of my favorite albums of the 90s, D.I. Go Pop would be near the top. Their earlier eps and the Open Doors, Closed Windows lp were full of bleak, gothic post-punk that owed much to Joy Division, New Order’s Movement and the 4ad roster. It was derivative to be sure, but they experimented and expanded upon the work of their influences to create something entirely their own. However, none of this prepared me for the fucked up, sad and brilliant direction they took on D.I Go Pop.

D.I. Go Pop was released a year after Seefeel’s Quique and both share some parallels. Where Seefeel used My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and shoegaze as a launching pad for their love of electronics and dub, Disco Inferno’s discovery of the MIDI sampler enabled them to create a wholly unique and groundbreaking sound. Quique was a throbbing, sexual drone that is warm and inviting while D.I. Go Pop is a dark, alienating album that approximates the depression and loneliness of Ian Curtis’ suicidal worldview. The difference between the two bands is that Disco Inferno blew apart their love of Factory and 4ad into a million pieces and reassembled them in a way that still sounds new today.

Their usage of the MIDI sampler pervades the record and guitarist/vocalist Ian Crause even hooked up each individual string to its own sampler. This triggers a kaleidoscope of effects that are downright disorienting at times, but they complement Crause’s bitter songs of estrangement and loss. If you removed these electronic effects, D.I. Go Pop is just like the rest of their output. The fan in me wants to know what music, person or life event influenced them to incorporate electronics into their music because it made the difference between a good album and a classic. Anyway you slice it, D.I. Go Pop still sounds as alien as it did fourteen years ago.

Moonshake

First ep (Creation records 1991)

http://www.mediafire.com/?5ytg0bnvtym

I picked this up at 3rd St. Jazz and Rock in Philadelphia as a curious high schooler and this ep really blew open my synapses. God, I miss that store. I can’t imagine a better playground for a teenage music junkie as it offered easy access to many of the artists I love today.

Moonshake was formed from a dubious well. Dave Callahan was the most “recognizable” figure inthe band, but his previous project The Wolfhounds, were responsible for a bunch of mediocre C86 era music that was promising, but ultimately disappointing. Salvation came in the form of Margaret Fiedler and John Frenett who pushed the envelope by adding elements of dub while taking the lethargic shoegaze scene to louder territories explored only by My Bloody Valentine and the Telescopes. Their usage of samples and electronic loops made the ep even more trailblazing in comparison with contemporaries hailed by the NME and Melody Maker.

It isn’t surprising that Fiedler and Frenett went on to form Laika as the seeds of their love of oddball dubby electronic pop songs were apparent on some of these tracks. However, I always loved how this ep was recorded because it would suddenly jump from calm to chaos as the guitars would shift into full-on noise on a few occasions. I loved how they jumped from mellow and ethereal to nasty and belligerent in a split-second. Their follow-up, Big Good Angel amplified the dub and electronic musings over the psychedelic road, but it somehow worked better. They left to form Laika, but Moonshake were still pretty good, but missed Fiedler’s vocals.