August 31, 2008

"Nobody Writes".

Here's another track I recorded last week - pretty happy with this (although I'm itching to re-record this song with anything other than an internal microphone).

August 29, 2008

Tortoise: "Standards" reissue.

Tortoise fans have something to celebrate over; the Post-Rock supergroup's  classic, Standards, has been re-pressed on Thrill Jockey records, due to popular demand. It sounds like a stunning package, as well; pressed on red vinyl and limited to only 1,000 copies, this may end up being even more collectible than the OOP first pressing. It's a steal, too - only $13, but for a limited time/while supplies last. If you've never listened to Standards, check out my playlist, which includes the first track off the album, "Seneca". You can also listen to the album in it's entirety at Here's the direct link to the album page:

The album was the group's fourth long player on the Thrill Jockey label, and was recorded by John McEntire (drums/percussion) at his state-of-the-art Soma Studio in Chicago, Illinois in early 2001. There's a great review on the album page, as well as the artist lineup. Jeff Parker contributed his sophomore effort with the band while recording and writing Standards, and while there are quite a number of songs that bring the wonderfully jazzy TNT to mind, the album tightens into a much more focused sound, and one is immediately met with a Tortoise that has finally found the perfect artistic lineup. Where TNT meanders (charmingly, if I might add), Standards walks directly in the middle of the road, perhaps even skipping along the yellow dotted lines - which is quite a bit different considering Parker's improvisational training and Tortoise's affinity for lengthy free-jazz breaks (one of which, interestingly enough, graces the opening minutes of the album). Be sure to take a listen, and if you dig, be among the privileged few (yours truly included) to own this classic reprint!

August 24, 2008

"The Seam".

A new song (kinda) for a new project (sorta). It's called "The Seam".

August 23, 2008

Welcome To!

It's official - I'm the proud owner of! Don't worry, though - you'll be redirected if you forget. Keep checking back frequently, or subscribe to my posts above! Also, if you really want to stalk me, you can subscribe to my combined feed to get all of my recently updated content, right when it happens (as if anyone cares that much). Later Kats!

August 15, 2008

The Best Records You Can't Buy In A Record Store (Part 3).

And now for part 3 of "The Best Records You Can't Find In A Record Store".

8. Low - The Curtain Hits the Cast: Low, the Duluth trio responsible for some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful slowcore ballads around, created quite a haunting album here. Mimi Parker's ghostly vocals howl through the dejected sonic soundscapes of "Anon" and "Coattails", while the band shows off their supreme harmonizing ability in "Do You Know How to Waltz?" and "Stars Gone Out", which appropriately describes their music in the lyrics; "even though the stars have gone out, they're not gone - you can hear them dying." Quite true, and Low is just that sound.
9. The Notwist - 12/Loup: Of all of The Notwist's kraut-tronic delights, this, their earliest sampling of the coming Neon Golden sound, is among the most underrated and under appreciated. While I prefer 1998's Shrink over 12, this record is undeniably great in that it is the "about-face" the band boldly made after releasing the nearly-unlistenable hardcore/metal predecessors The Notwist (1990) and Nook (1992). Without 12, who knows where they'd be now. I'd rather not think about that, in all honesty.
10. Archer Prewitt - White Sky: Blaring brass ensembles, soaring string arrangments, and gritty country-fried guitar twinkles; Prewitt, lead guitarist of The Sea and Cake and ex-Coctail, leads us happily by the hand through his sunny musical wonderland, and once we're seated comfortably atop a hay bail, serenades us with his southern-tinged pop that warms the heart and soul like the promise of a brand new day. White Sky is refreshingly straight-forward and easily enjoyable, though there isn't much room for thought; take it at surface level, and especially in one of your better moods.

Well, I guess that's all for now. I'm not saying I'm through with this series, but it's easy to become bombarded with too much musical goodness - and that is not something I want anyone to have to go through. Take your time, really explore some of these albums - that is, if you can find them (Amazon should have all of these albums). Happy listening!

August 12, 2008

The Best Records You Can't Buy In A Record Store (Part 2).

As promised, here's part 2 of my "Best records you can't buy in a record store".

5. Mark Mulcahy - SmileSunset: Mircle Legion's former frontman/lead songwriter, ex-Polaris leader (little Pete's favorite band), and apparently Thom Yorke's idol; Mark Mulcahy is all the rage. SmileSunset is just quite possibly the most brilliant album of all time, featuring one of the widest scopes of minimalist jangle ever recorded, while seamlessly bricking over every single expectation set for him by his loyal indie-hipster followers. Listening to this album comparatively with, say, Miracle Legion's famed Surprise Surprise Surprise will immediately lend my seemingly over-glorifying description of Mulcahy's unexpected, yet warmly welcomed, shift from aggressive jangle rock to pensive jangle folk. Enjoy.
6. Shrimp Boat - Cavale: Yes, of course. Shrimp Boat - the predecessor to the greatest band to ever form, The Sea and Cake - was quite a strange little project of Sam Prekop and Eric Claridge's, ranging stylistically from alt country to jazz, to bluegrass and folk, to just plain weirdness, all conveniently cased within a soft indie rock shell. Other notable releases from this criminally unknown act include the massive four-disc compilation of live, unreleased and alternate recordings spanning their entire discography, 2004's Something Grand.
7. Sun City Girls - High Asia/Lo Pacific: Ominous, paranoid, chaotic and eccentric; these are the instruments used by Sun City Girls. This, their 9th and 10th volume of Carnival Folklore Resurrection, sees an ambient journey through Southeast Asia and the Middle East, complete with tribal chants and sitar medleys in abundance. You're lucky to locate a copy of this mind-blowing collection anywhere.

Well, our time has come to an end once again, sadly; don't fret, I'll be back with Part 3 soon. Get to work on these first seven, for now.

August 11, 2008

The Best Records You Can't Buy In A Record Store (Part 1).

Here in South Bend, Indiana, things are just a bit lacking in the record sales department. Granted, iTunes and the MP3 craze in recent years has taken a huge and undeserving bite out of mom-and-pop record store sales (we'll ignore the many good things the digital revolution has brought to music, for the moment), and while that's true everywhere, it's just all the more devastating to a music and art-deprived city such as the Bend. At least one of three of our biggest local new and used record stores has closed down, and selection has become limited. Regardless, even if South Bend's record stores thrived like our next door neighbor's (Chicago), here are some excellent albums I can almost guarantee you'd never find (and who's mention will more than likely evoke a beaded brow and awkward, nervous twitches from the poor sap behind the counter who thought he knew everything about music already).

1. This Heat - Deceit: This Heat was Charles Hayward, Charles Bullen, and Gareth Williams, and somewhere around 1975, the trio began experimenting with what has now become the modern independent method of sound recording: cut and paste. They looped tracks, used otherwise non-musical objects as integral parts of their songs, and somehow managed to craft one of the finest (and what's more, listenable) experimental rock records of all time.
2. Pram Sargasso Sea: Very much one of my favorite groups, Rosie Cuckston's ominous British whisper mingles much too curiously with the sly, retro kraut-pop they create, and Sargasso Sea is perhaps one of the most blatant examples of this. Ten songs that bring up the best qualities of early Sea and Cake, and some unwanted love child between Low and Stereolab (though Damo Suzuki is never entirely innocent-looking).
3. King Black Acid Royal Subjects: A mysterious space rock quintet from Portland, Oregon (their music matches their presence). The first time I heard this record, I could not believe I hadn't heard it sooner; true perfection, I tell you. It's long and sprawling slowcore-meets-space rock, so if it's not your bag, it's probably just genre-clash.
4. 8 Bold Souls Last Option8 Bold Souls, a collective of jazz musicians originally assembled to perform Thursday night concerts at the downtown Chicago Filmmakers venue, create a very specific brand of jazz that simultaneously mimics everything good about free jazz artists such as Dave Holland while searing their name into the jazz scene with their unique blend of quiet, low-resonating reeds and strings.

Those are only four, I know - consider this "Part 1". Bed time guys.

August 10, 2008

Wave Of Nostalgia.

I've needed more alone time than usual as of late; for me, moods shift just as the seasons do, and my personal composure, more often than not, coincides with them. I've been feeling pretty isolated and misunderstood these days, and it's frustrating and unwanted. The choices I've made in the past, the person I used to be at various junctures along my lifeline up to now, all the things I can't make sense of rationally - they reappear in my head like weeds. I don't know if it's any wiser to live life without regrets than with them, but I don't necessarily see my shortcomings as unnecessary mistakes; I've learned a lot from the things I've experienced, and I'm sure I wouldn't be who I am today had I not encountered what I did at just exactly the times I did, so in that respect I'm thankful for every experience I've had, even the sour or unpleasant ones. Sometimes, it's absolutely impossible to understand the purpose of some of my life's events, but those are the times my incompetence strengthens my respect for what, in particular, I happened to experience, regardless of it's function in my journey. Sometimes, you've got to try harder than you might even know how if you're going to find peace with the fallen glob of humanity that encases you.

August 9, 2008

King Khan & The Shrines: "The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines"

King Khan & His Shrines - The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the ShrinesI happened across an article covering King Khan & The Shrines, and my intrigue was sparked; a Canadian-born Indian, living and working out of Germany? Once you're hit with that first taste of his music, being a (unique?) pastiche of James Brown soul and Jimi Hendrix rock, as well as The Temptations and various doo wop inspirations, the joke gets even funnier; where did this guy come from?? More importantly, in King Khan's eyes, What Is ?! King Khan & The Shrines? The influences burn a hole through the music like the sun through a magnifying glass, but somehow the responsible parties manage only to bask in the glow; there is an undeniable soul to these songs comprising 2008's compilation of selected tracks from 2004's Mr. Supernatural and 2007's What Is ?!. Pastiche is a fancy word that only non-artists use...ahem...and Khan is in no mood to hear it; you shall be assaulted with lo-fi garage rock until the (sacred) cows come home.

August 8, 2008

Time Flies When You Wish You Had More Of It.

Friday is here once again. Fall's just around the corner, and the idea of school is pretty much resolved to a spring fling, at this point. These days, life seems more like the Autobahn than a highway - my son's growing up before my very eyes, work is more about becoming a machine than servicing them, and the house is going up for sale in the hopes of selling before December. I'm a huge advocate of down time, but it doesn't vouch for me anymore.

I've been toying with possible songs ideas, as usual near the tail-end of summer/onset of fall. Now that I'm a Mac user, it's easier than ever to get some recordings down on disk; finding the time, however, is another story.

Keep ya' posted.

August 4, 2008

Skyscraper #28.

Skyscraper #28 is out! This summer's issue sees articles and artist reviews on Melvins, Oneida, Russian Circles, Crystal Castles, Genghis Tron, Au, and Wolf Parade - and the up-and-coming Night Wounds. The cover art, by Justin Walsh, is beautiful, as usual. I haven't finished the Spring issue yet, so I've only gotten through the first few articles, but so far, the artists have been interestingly fresh and diverse; the most buzzworthy in my mind are Crystal Castles, a duet that crams loopy electro-pop synth riffs into jagged post-punk song structures, not necessarily keeping any sort of healthy regard for the consequences thereof, as well as Genghis Tron - possibly the very first drummer-less metal band. As always, there's a massive a-to-z list of reviews, my favorite section of this unparalleled little quarterly mag. Hopefully, by the time I'm through with this, the fall issue of Copper Press will be out. Pick up a copy asap!

August 1, 2008

Lambchop: "Nixon"

Lambchop - NixonYour girlfriend of seven years suddenly leaves you one day, and you return to your half-empty apartment to stare at the bright patches of paint on the wall where that mirror, that bookshelf, that night stand used to shield from dust and cigarette smoke, now exposed, vulnerable and alone - much like your own shattered heart; miles and miles away, somewhere south or north or wherever, someone's sobbing over a layoff, a death in the family, a racial injustice, or any number of tragedies plaguing this often-times miserable existence - yet, Nixon is there, shining it's finely-crafted, "tomorrow is on it's way" chamber pop on the melancholy you share with countless other emotionally-afflicted individuals, and when something this unintentionally sweet exists in the same space as your bitter, weathered soul, sweetness wins out, and the healing process begins, one epic note at a time. Lambchop may come off eccentric and ambivalent at first, but these qualities only become more and more custom-tailored to the listener with time and attention, and I do mean attention; there is much to be missed in this cleverly, outwardly subtle record, in just the same way you never realized how much you took your relationship, your job, your loved ones for granted, until they've vanished, forever commited to painful, heart-jabbing memories. The pleasantly-pensive pop of "The Old Gold Shoe" sucks up the silence and the sorrow, hanging like cumulonimbus clouds over our heads, shakes us up a martini, and plants a comforting, unpretentious pat on the back. "Grumpus" allows us a short wallow in our grief, as Kurt preaches, "Part of the process is sifting through the piles of shit", while "You Masculine You" and "Up With People" scream of life's unlimited potential and goodness. Wagner's shrill-whisper of a falsetto offers a laughably realistic view of his own pains - a fresh, contrasting take on the travesty that is love. It's as if he's been here so many times that he's learned his art and tailored his craft through it's grip, effectively satirizing the whole idea of misfortune and loss. This is a record that may take years to experience in it's full glory, as one definitely must face some harrowing tragedy or personal trauma, whatever that may be, to truly understand and identify with the primordial matter the music is created from. One thing is for sure when listening to Nixon: Heartache has never sounded so sweet.

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