Friday, 16 April 2010

Castle Oldchair sounds pretty swell

I first came across Castle Oldchair in Oregon on one of my tours, and he was he an exceedingly nice gentleman. He had already built a pretty comprehensive mystic around him, and put out an underappreciated but excellent record on Standard Recordings. It was the backing soundtrack to my mornings working as a maintenance man back in 2004, collecting fix-it tickets that I would eventually get to midday.

As far as I can tell, Castle Oldchair only put out one record. Here are two tracks from it.

Swallowing Stars

Speaking of Diamonds

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Carlee Hendrix - The Northbound EP

I don’t know much about Carlee Hendrix and the Whole Earth Catalog, but they do make poppy songs that could easily fit into the background of an MTV reality program, an episode of Gilmore Girls, or a high school mixtape to a male interest. Not really the kind of stuff that I generally put on the turntable, but I do like their songs and I figure they could use some more exposure.

You can download their Northbound EP for free if you like what you hear.

(Holes from the Northbound EP)

(Northbound from the Northbound EP)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Mark Linkous - RIP Sparklehorse

It's been a month since Mark Linkous shot himself, and since I wasn't posting during the last few months, I failed to post a tribute to the man behind Sparklehorse.

The first Sparklehorse song I ever heard was "Hammering the Cramps" on the Chicago Cab soundtrack. It's a jangly fuzzed out mess of a pop song, and it was instantly attractive to my burgeoning music snob ears. I rushed out and picked up "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot" and was hooked. In the subsequent years, I've always gobbled up and enjoyed his music, and when I was making real American dollars doing record reviews for a far to brief amount of time, I had the honor to review one of his last releases Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain and I've already written about him on this site too. "It's a Wonderful Life" has to be my favorite album of his, and something that I will continue to go back to for many years. Filled with great guests and brimming with emotion, it speaks of his brilliance and also of his saddness, something that apparently he was unable to overcome. In his far too few years on this planet, he left a mark on my life, and I'll be forever grateful to him for that.

Hammering the Cramps - Sparklehorse (from "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot")

Sick of Goodbyes - Sparklehorse (from "Good Morning Spider")

Comfort Me - Sparklehorse (from "It's a Wonderful Life")

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – Self Titled

I watched BBC 4’s documentary Prog Britannia the other night, a decent look at the development of Progressive Rock in Britain during the 1960s, and its eventual decline into excess in the 70s. I generally hated the stuff coming of musical age in the 1990s, but I had friends who were dedicated to early Prog rock in high school. I now respect the fact that they were listening to King Crimson and Yes when everyone else was worshiping Nirvana and Pearl Jam. It wasn’t until later that I was gifted with a huge box of vinyl from the 60s and 70s that I gave the style an honest chance, and I ended up digging some of the harder edged material. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer was one of the bands I found myself enjoying.

Don’t get me wrong: this band made some real shit. I doubt the band itself would disagree with that. But some of their early records have some great moments, and contain some great rocking jams. If you can forget every grotesque, overblown, and ridiculously condescending Prog record that followed it, you can find plenty of things to enjoy in the first ELP record. Here are two of my favorite tracks from the record.

You can download the record here (as well as the band’s worst piece of shit ever), or buy a nice remastered copy here.

(Knife Edge from ELP- Self Titled)

(The Barbarian from ELP- Self Titled)

Monday, 5 April 2010

MOON8 - Dark Side of the Moon, meet NES...NES, meet DSOTM.

I remember getting an old school 8-bit Nintendo as a child. It was a very rewarding Christmas. I still have it, it's now hooked up to a giant 50+ inch widescreen HD TV. We've come a long way.

I don't remember the first time I listened to Dark Side of the Moon, however, but I do remember the first time I heard MOON8, the 8bit tracked version of Dark Side of the Moon that is apparently blowing up on the internets these days. It was less than a week ago, and I've been pretty much listening to it whenever I have my headphones in.

While Dark Side of the Moon is one of those aurally dense and perfect recordings to get lost in, one where you hear new things even after listening to it 100s of times; MOON8 is a perfect reduction of it to its finest elements. Everything that's great about the original is still present, and for those of us who grew up on those amazingly kitschy sounds emanating from the trebly speakers of our insignificant barely 24 inch TV, it transcends the simple to become sublime. Brad Smith is the composer of this amazing recreation of a classic, and, honestly, it's just as good as the original. Below is a Youtube version of "Money." You can download the album for free in the links above.

Brad Smith - Money (from "MOON8")

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Boxharp - Loam Arcane EP

Another solid release from Hidden Shoal Recordings. Boxharp is a duo that makes very rewarding ambient pop music. Built around found sound/field recording collages, producer Scott Solter gives the music a cohesiveness the belies its origin. Layered on top of this wonderful sound is the Tori-Amos-meets-Liz-Phair vocal styling of Wendy Allen. Delicate and strong, her delivery takes charge of the EP and makes you want to listen to the scant 16 minutes of music over and over and over. If you're not hooked by the first 20 seconds of "FanFin," there's probably something wrong with your ears. You can pick up the digital only release here. Included below is the more toned down single "Rainbirds," enjoy it, and keep on the lookout for more music from both Boxharp and Hidden Shoal Recordings.

Boxharp - Rainbirds (from "Loam Arcane EP")