Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Pawcut - The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of (2012)

Pawcut is from Germany, but you wouldn't necessarily know that from listening to their music. Their new record, The Stuff that Dreams Are Made of, is a choice bit of downtempo hip-hop that could accompany a late night drive through a headlight illuminated city.

Just knowing that this was a German act brought to mind groups like 13 and God, which contained members of the Notwist and the Anticon crew. With its gentle piano lines and driving basslines, Pawcut have created a nice slice of instrumental music that should reach a larger audience. Thus far, my favorite track is Elegy, but since the whole record is free to download, there is no reason not to hear the rest.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

One Man Metal - The Black Metal Fringe

I might be a bit late to the party, but One Man Metal is a really fine look into the world of solo Black Metal performers. There are three parts to the film, and the first is below.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Black Metal Tapes 2: Aetheres and Apati

I picked up these two Black Metal tapes from the excellent European label/distro Cold Void Emanations. They have a slew of tapes and records from across the BM spectrum, and shipping is pretty decent to the U.S., so check them out if you have even the faintest interest in this type of music. The two tapes are from acts I had never heard of before, and bought them solely based on the description provided at the aforementioned website. Both are on the atmospheric side of things, and have interesting builds and instrumentation, putting them squarely in the melodic end of the aisle.

Apati is from Sweden. This is mid-tempo work, with some distant ghostly wails coming from the vocalist. I have no idea what is being said, but this is well mixed and has been a fine soundtrack to the morning paper. The other tape has been issued on CD and vinyl in the past, but BM always sounds best on tape to my ears, so I was pleased to pick up Aetheres' Łaknienie Misterium Nocy in this format. This is some pretty nice heathen material from Poland, but apperently they really hit their stride with their next record, Dark Wisdoms Domain. The Metal Archives had this to say about Łaknienie Misterium Nocy:
Now, while the production isn’t great, it still cannot hide the fact that the music is excellent. These tracks are filled with melancholy, plenty of good sad guitar melodies/ harmonies and Warterz also pulls off many nice solos. The music emanates a strong mystical mood and no, there are no blast beats at all on this album. Mostly it’s mid-paced to slow well-composed stuff, yet still with lots of variation within the songs. Both keyboards and acoustic guitar are used quite a lot to enhance the atmosphere and they certainly succeed in doing so. Despite the fact that there are quite a lot of keyboards, this is still overall a guitar oriented album.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Anri Kumaki 熊木杏里 from the Dollar Bin

I picked up Anri Kumaki's single 春の風 a few months ago at a little Japanese music shop in San Diego. Since I am relativity ignorant of Japanese pop-music, I bought this CD from the dollar bin solely based on the cover. It wouldn't be the first time a pretty girl on a record has gotten me to spend hard earned cash, but as only a dollar was lost in the transaction, I figured it was worth the risk. 

Anri sings pretty traditional J-pop, although heavy on the ballad end and relatively absent from the dance side of the equation. It is the touching stuff that would sit well within an emotional moment in an Anime program about the challenges of school life. I enjoyed it, and while this type of thing might not be for everyone, what in the world is?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Black Metal Tapes 1: Blakulla and Aberrant Path

I dropped into Amoeba Records in San Francisco yesterday to sell some wares I am distributing, and of course, do a little record shopping myself. I picked up some good Bay Area hardcore 7 inch records I had been looking for in the dollar bin, as well as a few Black Metal tapes on the cheap. I figured I would start up a running series here at this blog to share them.

I was unfamiliar with both artists before buying these tapes, but they were both pleasant surprises. Blakulla is a one man act from France that plays some classic BM, and clearly took a great deal from Burzum's bit. This is what Metal Archives wrote about the record:

"Original released as a limited edition cassette last year on Cold Void Emanations, it has been picked up again for a reissue through Poland's True Underground Productions, who a few of you might recognize for releases by groups like Dark Fury or Thoth. I mention this connection primarily because the sound of the tape I'm reviewing is pretty common for the label, in that it represents the 'true black metal', primitive and highly aggressive and not really giving a fuck for the conventions of variation or accessibility for a wider audience. Blåkulla lives and dies on its hellish energy, a candle burning quickly on both ends with no pretensions of elegance or comfort, and while I might very well cite an influence of early Darkthrone, Burzum or Mayhem, Darkened by an Occult Wisdom is quite determinedly sinister even by those primal standards."

I picked up the tape for 2 bucks, and have played it a few times through since obtaining it. I definitely enjoy the longer song length that Blakulla employs (most tracks are around 6 minutes in length), but you have to really love the style to see much in this release and won't pull anyone closer to this type of music. Not that that was the intention of this release. 

The other tape was from a group called Aberrant Path. The tape was self released on 200 produbbed tapes, and is accompanied by a nice Jcard that transcribes the lyrics and helps set the tone for the music. As far as I can tell, these guys were American and recorded this tape in 2005. I could not find a lick of information about the band, but a fine effort on their part.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Drunken Draculas - Dead Sounds

Shameless self-promotion, but my garage rock band The Drunken Draculas just released our first full length cassette tape. The title and cover should give you an idea as to the sound we were alluding to, but we still keep it rocking. You can download it for free, and if you are so inclined, buy a professionally dubbed cassette tape to put on your shelf to show your friends just how cool you are.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Creepy folk with Mountainhood's "Shine Shine"

It’s nearing Halloween, and as it is one of my favorite holidays, I have been busting out music that reminds me of the essential occasion. Mountainhood’s “Shine Shine” may not exactly be horror music by any stretch, but it is folk music for places tucked away and absent of light. Mountainhood has a recorded a slew of records in Northern California over the years, but this tape released by Spookytown Records remains one of my favorites. Everything about this release seems distant and ominous, right down to the excellent B&W Xeroxed cassette insert. If this is folk music to sing around a campfire, it would surely be played at that abandoned summer camp in Friday the 13th. The tape has long since sold out, but you can buy a digital copy of the recording at Mountainhood’s bandcamp page.


Over on the other side of America...

Just as a heads up, while I will continue to post at this site (as well as the other writers to the right), I am also posting at the great Detroit-based SpaceRockMountain under my Drunken Draculas moniker, Elvis Dracula. Here are some recent pieces.

The Gory Details - Killer Waves
Henry Spenncer - Saturn
The Kramers - ST
Irureta - 100% Pure Sport

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Federer - Easy Breezin (2011)

I picked up this tape on a whim after reading a review at Space Rock Mountain (a site I also write for as of this week), as it sounded like very little else being released at the moment. These guys really do sound like an early 80s smooth poop band, with ample amounts of keys and saxophone to accompany the deep, baritone-like vocals. I don't get the sense that there is anything ironic about this act; it sounds to me like they legitimately like this type of music and wanted to make some of their own. What they have produced is a great set of pop-songs that you may enjoy even if the band's style is something you have run from in the past. Thanks to the folks at Emigrate Records for putting together these professionally dubbed cassettes.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Lowdown: When it hurts, and yet feels so good

The Lowdown were a staple in the Santa Cruz underground scene when I was a student at UC Santa Cruz in 2000. Many of the band's members put on shows and lived in houses that acted as venues for music that would not sell tickets at the larger clubs and venues in town. I threw a few shows in my basement with the help of Hugh Holden, the front man for this band, and shared the stage with his more well-known act, Whysp.Some of the members from this group went on to work with Comets on Fire, one of the greatest bands to emerge from the previous decade.

No doubt about it, the type of music the Lowdown creates is not for everyone. Disjointed, chaotic, explosive; they have their share of detractors. But so does any band that is trying to develop something challenging and interesting. I have always found their records to be both danceable and fun, and their Y is a Crooked Letter is the best physical representation of the group's work.

 I'll Turn Your Blood Into Ants

Absent Without Leave Represents Greece. Greece Responds with more Bouzouki

Absent Without Leave was submitted to me a few weeks back, and while a write-up did not show up here immediately, I have been dwelling on their beautiful recent record, Faded Photographs. I was a big fan of long, moody, instrumental music in the early 2000s, but with the release of the new Godspeed record, I have been pulling out some old post-rock records as of late. Absent Without Leaves fits well next to a group like Rachel's, as they provide enchanting, lush arrangements that could easily fit into an independent film score.

It is not a free download, but help the guys out. Times aint great in Greece, and I know it would be great to see more music like this out of the birthplace of democracy. There are a few CDs left as well if you like those digital discs, released by the folks at Sound in Silence Records.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

L'Orange Remixing Old Jazz Records

I am a huge Billie Holiday fan. Her work is one I have consistently go back to over the years for inspiration and enjoyment, so I was thrilled to discover the North Carolina Hip-Hop outfit L'Orange. They (he? she?) have put together a record dedicated to Holiday, mixing her records effortlessly with rap vocals and deep beats. This is highly recommended stuff to anyone who enjoys chilled Hip-Hop, with a jazzy experimental flavor.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Slowcore Greats: Half Film

I missed Half Film by just a hair when I arrived in the greater Bay Area in 2000, but they had left a lasting effect on countless moody guitar acts that could be described as the “SlowCore” scene. I picked up their final 7 inch released on AIP Records in 2000, but was never able to acquire their earlier material in a physical format. Thanks to Hidden Shoal Records, now a whole new generation of depressed-sounding bands can see what Half Film was all about.

While not music for a party (or at least any I have attended lately), this reissue is perfect for a rainy afternoon or the wee morning hours, returning from the aforementioned night’s drinking.

Both albums will be released as a double CD on the 31st of October with CD pre-orders on the 18th of October. This is highly recommended stuff for anyone who has a Red House Painters or Low record sitting on their shelf. The fact that these guys don’t have the same fan base as those bands shocks me to no end.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Psychedelic Garage Rock with the Hedgehogs

The Hedgehogs are a psychedelic act from Denmark that have a keen sense of song structure and the joy of the hook. Their newest record, Our Minds Dyed Yesterday, was submitted to me by the folks at Levitation Records, and will be released in October. They must have been following this blog and my twitter feed, and recognized that I loved bands like the Brian Jonestown Massacre and 13th Floor Elevators, as these guys fit well right next to them.

The record was a joy to receive. Not only is the group strong in putting together tight, little numbers that fit well within the psychedelic garage genera, but they also know how to let their likely-drinking fans space out to mellower out-there material.

T.D. Reisert - Conneaut

I wrote this review for an online magazine some time ago. Having played the record in question lately, I decided to reprint it.

In a day and age where even the most vehement anti-capitalist punk bands sell shirts/stickers/pins/underwear/used soda cans, it’s good to know that there are still some folks out there just giving their work away. I have no idea if the folks at 80H Records intend their label to be an anti-capitalist institution. They could all be interns for Rush Limbaugh; making his coffee and securing him illegal drugs and child pornography. They might run a Republican support group on College Campuses in New England. Truth be told, I have no clue. All I know is that they have a slew of bands that release “records” via mp3 format on their website. They put up covers for them and everything, so I regard them as ‘official releases’. Hell, and after swimming through hundreds of used copies of Yellowcard cds at my local record shop that folks rightfully sold back, I would say the world would be a better place if some bands restricted their output to the mp3 variety.

T.D. Reisert may be a band, but I don’t think so. From what I discern, “Conneaut” is a one man project from a very lonely guy. A lonely guy that does not like to tune his guitar, or play recognizable chords either. His voice is way out of tune as well, not that you could sing in a proper tone to the songs anyhow. You are probably thinking, “What the F*ck! This guy gave the record a rather good score, and this review sounds like some emo boy who doesn’t know how to sing or play!” Well, in an odd way, that’s why the record is noticeably interesting.

The songs are so distant and sad, and presented in a way that gives the silence and surrounding ambiance a staring role. I say they are sad, but I can’t really pick up that many words the guy is singing. It just sounds depressing. Like I said, his voice is way out of tune, but it never seems to be in disagreement with the general sound of the track. In a day and age where many bands, even punk ones, strive to remove all forms of imperfection form their sound, it is especially interesting to hear someone put all those imperfections so clearly in the front of the record. You can hear the physical strumming of the electric guitar over the amplification, and it just seems to work for the songs.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this record is for everyone. In fact, it is suited for a very small percentage of the music community. Since you won’t hear it outside of the 80h records website, I would say T.D. Reisert will remain completely unknown. That’s too bad however, since I think the honesty of the record could be enjoyed by a number of people, even those who don’t think they would listen to this type of “rock and roll.”

With bands like Wolf Eyes selling out venues and noise acts getting signed left and right, maybe independent music audiences are starting to warm up to “difficult compositions.” Regrettably, the chances that this whole noise ‘popularity’ thing is just a fad are rather great. Not that it matters, there will always be something different out there if you really want to find it. You could start with “Conneaut”, since its freakin free and worth every cent! If you happened to read all the way through this review, you should at least check it out for yourself and give it your own assessment.

Download the EP from 80H Records

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Yah Mos - Off Your Parents!

When I was in high school, I picked up the first Nation of Ulysses record (13 Point Program to Destroy America) on a whim based on the title. It did not immediately grab my attention; it was more disjointed than the music I was accustomed to at the time. I picked it up again when I was 18, and with my slightly more mature ears, it quickly turned into a favorite of mine. A few years back, I reflected on the politics of Ian Svenonius and found little in the way of real political substance, but as far as a bit goes, he has one of the best.

The Yah Mos clearly owe a great deal to the NoU, and while they didn’t recreate the wheel, they did make some incredibly catchy songs in their day. Better yet, they were from Sacramento, and thus much closer to me than the NoU. I’m not entirely sure when I picked this 7-inch up or where I bought it, but it feels like it has been in my collection for ages, so I’m inclined to say I bought it around 2000. Ive been told that members of this band went on to form !!!.

 The Static Fanatic had this to say about the release:

All these tracks are bashing away with brainy, wreckless abandon, yet they are held together by a sinewy rhythm section that never allows the songs to fall apart into jerkoff/spazz/mess/hardcore. Channeling and controlling this seething energy (in other words, making it accessible) without sounding tight-assed or self-conscious or devolving into a prog-punk-core band (with its nice, safe, mathematically derived lego-piece song construction aesthetic) is very tuff I says.

Since putting it on the turntable an hour ago, I’ve played it 5 times. It still sounds great after all these years, and is worth a listen for anyone interested in angsty, tight hardcore.  

Fair Inspector Pig - 1994


Euros Childs - Summer Special

I have long loved Euros Childs' work ever since I first came across Gorky's Zygotic Mynci in 2000. At the time, I was into a number of 90s Britpop bands, and had someone recommend their Spanish Dance Troupe album. They were definitely more playful and psychedelic than the other Brit acts I was listening too, and that immediately grabbed my interest. I was thankful to see the band live, in their full splendor, when they toured behind their How I Long to Feel That Summer in my Heart release.

Last summer, I completed a few posts here related to the bands career, celebrating their influence. 

Since the group broke up, Euros Childs has been a very busy man, releasing nearly 10 solo releases, a collaboration with Meilyr Jones called Cousins, and the excellent team-up with Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub titled Jonny. Nearly all of his solo releases have been made available on Euros' National Elf Library label as free downloads.

His most recent work,Summer Special, is his best solo material to date. Within the first 5 minutes of the record, I felt like I was thrown into an unreleased Gorky's record. There were lush arrangements, well crafted vocal harmonies, and a real sense of joy and wonderment. Anyone who felt Euros' recent solo releases were a bit too "out-there" for their tastes will be thrilled to see him return to form here.

You can download the record for free here, and buy a CD from his website.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Downtempo from the Dollar Bin

Another fine 12 inch record I picked up in the dollar bins of Amoeba Records in San Francisco last year. While I know a bit about dance music culture, the sheer number of unknown releases put out by international labels I have never heard of, can be daunting when rummaging through releases. Most of the records in the bins don't have printed labels, let alone covers. So when I grabbed this Snooze's "Quiet Alone," it was solely based on the fact that it had a cover that grabbed my attention. I learned later that Snooze is a well known French electronic musician, but this was my first introduction to his music. This single was released on Crammed Discs in Belgium.

When I returned home and put it on the turntable, I was happily surprised by what came out of the stereo. A very smooth downtempo track with soaring female vocals (provided by Jazz singer Deborah Brown) and sparingly accompanied strings traced the deep bass line throughout the track.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Hip Hop from the Dollar Bin

I have spent the last 12 years looking through every single discount dollar bin I run across when traveling, and I have picked up some choice finds in the process. It is surprising what is considered musical junk in the specific local I end up at, and I have learned a great deal about various forms of music in the process. I have a pretty open-ended approach to music, and thus the dollar bin is not always the bottom dregs of our culture in my eyes. There is plenty of throw-aways in those bins, but I have rarely walked away without some type of winner.

One of those finds was a 12" from the great Ubiquity Records. I noticed that it had a b-side that featured Cut-Chemist, and realized this was a record worth having. The A-side was by Nobody, and featured 2Mex and ESP, and was a real surprise to hear. Funk and Jazz infused Hip-Hop, with the kind of flow that was popular in the early 90s and has been well copied since.

Click the share button to embed the track or download it.

If you want a free collection of Ubiquity tunes, grab their recent compilation here,  which includes this scorching track by Charles Bradley.

Hot Freak Nation isn't that freaky, but they are pretty good

Another Burger Records pickup, Hot Freak Nation hail from the sweaty southern city of Memphis led by Greg Roberson. The perfect tunes for an evening BBQing while tossing back a few beers or glasses of wine.

Psychedelic Garage Rock with The Sufis

Burger Records had a pretty awesome cassette sale this summer with any of their tapes going for just over a 3 dollars, and thus I picked up some of their back catalog that I had been meaning to get.

One of the strongest in the bunch was a band named The Sufis, a garage act from Nashville that borrows heavily from 60s garage psychedelia and Syd Barret's Pink Floyd era. Some really great meditative jams that know just when to focus in on the riff and bring the whole thing home. If the Elephant 6 label was still around, these guys would have been on it.

Pick up the tape here.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Burger Records Bio

Since I am accustomed to releasing cassette tapes myself, and find myself buying most of my new music in the format, the recent series at Allmusic about cassette labels and culture has been great. This wee, they feature one of my favorite cassette labels here in California, Burger Records. Check out the whole piece here.

Best of the Backlog - Car Seat Headrest (Twin Fantasy)

Been trying to catch up after a busy few months overseas, but one of the records that was just gnawing at me, waiting to be shared while I was moving about, was Car Seat Headrest. The record comes from Will Toledo, who records out of Williamsburg and makes some lovely lo-fi psychedelic pop that could easily fit into the Elephant 6 Collective. My favorite track is "Sober to Death," with its crashing guitar riffs that close out the impassioned plea. Highly recommended.

A limited edition cassette is also going to be available from Hatecrime Records. Preorder one now, and get a super nifty shirt as well.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Kisses Release Summer Mix

Indie Disco Kisses has put together a fine summer mix for the waning days of sun. Jump on over to Modular to check it out.

They also recently released a single, "Funny Heartbeat," from their forthcoming full length.