Here's another re-recommendation that originated from Stephen Mejias. Lucrecia Dalt's Commotus released on Human Ear Music in 2012 is her second record and its filled with ideas, rhythms, sounds, melodies, smokey and sultry stuff, with Lucretia's lovely vocals hovering near the surface all fragile-like and haunting. I've listened to Commotus on nearly infinite repeat and it just gets deeper with each listen.
Last night The Breeders, Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs, Jim Macpherson, and violinist Carrie Bradley splashed down at Webster Hall in NYC and played their platinum-selling album Last Splash before a sold out crowd. This tour represents the first time this band has played together since 1994 and its hard to believe 20 years have past since we were first treated to "Cannonball" which opens with Josephine Wiggs unforgettable bass line. The band and their songs were as tight as ever and as loose as can be, playing their hook-laden music that had the crowd singing along and some thrashing about like it was 1993.
Dry is PJ Harvey's debut LP and I couldn't help but being reminded of it by last week's Download of the Week, Jenny Hval's Innocence is Kinky. And I couldn't help but want to see them back to back. Originally released on Too Pure in 1992, Dry captures a raw, unfiltered, and forceful voice that feels as fresh today as it did when new. PJ Harvey, like Jenny Hval (or really vice versa), is not afraid to take on issues like sexuality head on, bending traditional gender roles so far they break. The band's sound is stripped down bare to the bones guitar, bass, and drums with touches of strings and keyboards and Harvey's positively stunning vocals delivering more raw emotional power and energy than most boy bands can muster.
Innocence is Kinky reads like a novel. No, scratch that. It feels like an opera. Of sorts. From start to finish, there's a fluid movement that seems to capture something deeply personal, something hidden below the surface revealed into the harsh light of day so we can inspect for better or worse. I have my friend and colleague Stephen Mejias to thank for the heads up on this heady mix of body and mind and its a voyage I recommend taking.
Kind Midas Sound's 2009 album Waiting For You... was a highlight of that year for me. Slow, sexy, and deeply rooted in the grime and grit of Kevin Martin's sound, Waiting For You... offered ominous brooding beats and roots-infused soul. I've been waiting for what's next ever since and the trio just released a two-track EP for Record Store Day in advance of a forthcoming album on Ninja Tune that more than hints at some some alt rock hard-core edginess creeping in to take over where their dub-infested sound of old left off. Or to put it another way, Aroo crushes.
Line The Clouds is filled with nursery-rhyme simple songs with spare instrumental accompaniment coupled with abstracted sounds that together weed their way into your thoughts like tiny Trojan Horses packed with emotions. Ashley Paul is a jazz and improv-trained multi-instrumentalist who seems more comfortable with dissonance than melody and she uses her squeaky sax, clarinet, flute, piano, percussion banged and bowed, plucked guitar, bells, and voice to tell small tales in a minimal manner. If you like the idea of something along the lines of Christina Carter meets Maher Shalal Hash Baz orchestrated by Harry Partch, you'll dig Line The Clouds .
Sometimes I find that I listen in patterns. For whatever reason, perhaps its the time of the season?, I find myself buying and listening within certain genres. Of late, its been minimal/modern music that's caught my ear. The slow, subtle wavering of sounds unfolding over time at times with no apparent rhyme or reason other than time. It's like diving into a pool and coming up to discover yourself in the middle of a vast sea with no land in sight. I love it when that happens. I'd recommend auditioning these recordings before buying, and you can audition all of them more and less, since they are not everyone's cup of tea. What is.
Fela's entire catalogue, consisting of almost 50 albums, are now being re-packaged, with in-depth track commentaries written by Afrobeat historian Chris May, and prepared for a three-batch re-launch between March and September 2013.
2013 would have marked Jimi Hendrix's 70th birthday and Experience Hendrix LLC has released 12 previously (officially) unreleased studio recordings from 1968-70 to help us celebrate. I have to admit that I greet each 'new' posthumous Jimi Hendrix release with mixed feelings. Mainly I'm always happy to hear more but am also reminded of what could have been but isn't. I know, half full. But People, Hell & Angels is another welcome release and I only wish I could download my FLAC copy now. But I can't.
You saw that one coming, didn't ya. There are a few bands that I get excited over every new release and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds is one of 'em. Push the Sky Away is their fifteenth and newest studio album (their first, From Her to Eternity, dates back to 1984) and its a slow-moving, strolling through life's quieter back alleys with a swagger and a song kinda record. I recently had a mini-Birthday Party LP party and while I certainly miss those badder-ass'd days, much as I miss miss Polly Jean Harvey's harder side, I can get into Push the Sky Away and its quieter more sullen songs largely because that makes sense with time. After all, we can't all be Mick and Keith still filled with jump and flash, can we.
Elizabeth Harris is Grouper and Hold/Sick was originally released as a 7" tour single in 2010. I'm really using this download as a good excuse to introduce Liz Harris/Grouper and would recommend diving into her full length LPs, if you can find them.
Burial's Kindred three-track EP was released in 2012 and I'm finally getting around to getting around in it. And man, is there a lot to get around within. Pounding, throbbing, gristle-y bass keeps things moving through layers upon layers of sound, scratch, pulse, and ethereally malformed vocals all adding up to one super sonic trip.
Congotronics from 2004 is the official debut release from Konono Nº1 who use electric likembé, a version of the thumb piano, and other instruments made from salvaged scrap found in their native Kinshasa, Congo along with group vocals and plenty of percussive drive for an intoxicating over-driven sound. From the Crammed Discs website:
The band was founded back in the 1960s by Mingiedi, a virtuoso of the likembé (a traditional instrument sometimes called "sanza" or "thumb piano", consisting of metal rods attached to a resonator). The band's line-up includes three electric likembés (bass, medium and treble), equipped with hand-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts, and plugged into amplifiers. There's also a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pans, pots and car parts), three singers, three dancers and a sound system featuring these famous megaphones.
FRKWYS Vol. 9: Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras meet The Congos - Icon Give Thank from 2012 is a heady musical stew mating old school roots reggae with new school experimental hypnogogic dub-infested psych sounds. Think swampy, Lee "Scratch" Perry's Super Ape Black Ark swampy, with lovely harmonies from Roy Johnson, Cedric Myton, Watty Burnett and Kenroy Fyffe (The Congos) layered over thick waves of Gendras synth, propulsive if sleepy bass and processed guitar from Cameron Stallones, and percussion courtesy of The Congos all smoke-infused, echo-drenched, and dreamily heavy with moments of real beauty shining through.