Thursday, January 31, 2008

Underneathica Party Political Broadcast

Underneathica heartily and unreservedly endorses either presidential candidate of either party who can perform the following feats of strength, diplomacy, wisdom and prudence (as described in song):

1) Bring home our soldiers from the quagmire in Middle East:
Steve Earle - Rich Man's War (buy The Revolution Starts Now)

2) Provide health insurance to the 47 million Americans who are uninsured, and restore comprehensive services to our public mental health system:
Ramones - You Sound Like You're Sick (buy Pleasant Dreams)

3) End the prejudice and intolerance toward our recent immigrants, and recognize their contributions to our economy and our culture:
Basement 5 - Immigration (1965-1980 needs to be reissued)

4) Undo the damage done by Dubya to America's image abroad:
Ostzonensuppenw├╝rfelmachenkrebs - My Life in the Ghost of Bush (buy Absolut Nicht Frei)

5) Reduce the trillion dollar deficit and provide a lasting stimulus to our economy, rather than a feel-good tax break that will become another debt for our children to repay:
Kultur Shock - God Is Busy, May I Help You? (buy We Came to Take Your Jobs Away)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Futures and Pasts

Am I the only one not really feeling this new Black Mountain album? I'm starting to warm up to it, but it seems less like "the future" and more like a dusty old LP that I might drop a buck on in a thrift store. Is this the new trend, hipster metal? Who was it who once said, "We fought wars against this stuff"?

I've recently come across two music blogs that will please those of us who still listen to our old punk rock singles. Always Searching for Music is the project of a Londoner with an enviable collection of singles and LP's from the early days of the punk era. Some of the bands featured are well-known, others less so.

Sailor Jerry is a brand of tattoo art and clothing; it is a store in downtown Philadelphia; and now it is a punk blog. Lots of oldies and goodies, plus some up and comers. They are fans of Atlanta bands like Beat Beat Beat, the Carbonas, and Black Lipps (Inc.) They also like one of my favorite bands, the Marked Men. Both of these bloggers know their punk rock history. And somehow I doubt that either of them would care for a sixteen minute dirge with an organ solo.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bolts of Lysergic Acid-Guided Melody

I'm listening to Adam Franklin's solo album Bolts of Melody a lot lately. I should have mentioned it (and the Soulsavers album with Mark Lanegan) on my list of good records from 2007.

Most of the record is surprisingly mellow, and Adam reveals himself as a sensitive rhythm player with a solid singing voice. He plays like the shoegazer guitar god of his Swervedriver days on a few tracks, like the backwards solo that ends "Shining Somewhere".

As I listen to Bolts of Melody, I can't help playing Spot the Influence. "Song of Solomon" sounds remarkably like an Elliott Smith song, but most of the touchstones are classic album rock. I'm frequently reminded of the dreamy Jimi Hendrix ballad "Drifting".

It isn't outright plagiarism, but to these ears Adam Franklin's "Theme from LSD" sounds suspiciously similar to "Nova Feedback", an instrumental in three-quarter time from Chrome's second album, Alien Soundtracks. Maybe Adam was inspired by Helios Creed, one of the great acid-fried rock guitarists. See what you think:

Adam Franklin: Theme from LSD (buy Bolts of Melody)
Chrome: Nova Feedback (edit) (buy Alien Soundtracks)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Get Yer Duke Spirit

February 4th is the release date for Neptune, the second album by the Duke Spirit. I think the Duke Spirit is one of the best bands to emerge in the last five years. The band's sound blends the influences of the Jesus and Mary Chain, shoegaze, and classic rock of the late 1960's (e.g., the Jefferson Airplane, the Velvet Underground, and the Stones, circa Let It Bleed).

The Duke Spirit recently appeared on Rare FM to perform several of their new songs. Here's an acoustic version of Lassoo, one of the tracks on Neptune.

While they have only one other album to their name, the band has released a number of worthwhile EP's. Last year, the Duke Spirit released a four song EP called Ex Voto. Two of the songs will be included on the forthcoming album. Here's one of the non-LP tracks, a great rocker called A Wild Hope. The blog Pampelmoose recently posted the other non-LP song, "Masca".

Here's the band playing one of their best older songs, Love Is an Unfamiliar Name, live on KEXP. Hopefully they will come back to the States for a tour this year. They sound like a great live band.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

bye bye blogs

Blogs come and go, like streetcars. Here are a few faves that didn't make it to the end of 2007:

Something I Learned Today (Eric has been "resting comfortably" since August.) Silence Is a Rhythm Too (also inactive since August.) Detailed Twang (Jay Hinman's post-Agony Shorthand music blog has died, but his beer blog survives, and now he's started a film blog!)

And here are a few that I've recently discovered. Nathan Nothin' is a vinyl hound who seems to know a little somethin' about musical genres ranging from jazz to surf to punk and no wave. Nothin' Sez Somethin' shares the fruit of his knowledge, and his enviable record collection.

The Lost Turntable bills itself as "the imported out of print 12" extended remix b-side of MP3 blogs". Tracks range from Bowie to Britpop and hip hop. Burning Dervish posts mixes and reviews of dub and reggae, as well as rock, jazz and hip hop.

Dave Allen, bassist for the Gang of Four and Shriekback, blogs about music and entertainment media at Pampelmoose. He shares an insider's view of the music industry, plus some great mp3's, and he updates frequently. And mashup artist PartyBen blogs about music, movies and TV at The Riff, on the Mother Jones website.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Saw It in Books, Read It on TV

Mark E. Smith's forthcoming self-penned memoir, Renegade, now has a publication date of April 24, 2008. The book was originally announced for a 2007 release (under the title The Two-Year Gap), but has been pushed back several times. Even now, Amazon UK lists Renegade's subtitle as "The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith", but Amazon's picture of the book's cover indicates that its subtitle is "The Gospel According to Mark E. Smith". You're enjoying this, aren't you Smith?

Hopefully it will make a better read than the 2003 biography of MES as told to Mark Middles, which turned out to be as much about Mr. Middles as it was about Mr. E. Smith. Not to be outdone, Middles has now written a Complete Guide to the Fall's Music, which is to be published a month after Renegade (and two months after Latch Key Kid, the real next Fall LP).

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Daptone Remixed

Daptone Records and its artists have gained a reputation for their ability to recreate the sounds of classic funk, soul and Afrobeat. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before the Daptone label was sampled by DJ's and remixers. Daptone Records Remixed was commissioned by the automaker Scion, and is now available on iTunes and eMusic.

Mark Ronson's remix of the Budos Band's "Chicago Falcon" creates a high-tech sheen that little resembles the original. Wale adds a rapid-fire rap to "Chicago Falcon", and drops a few Seinfeld references. Hank Shocklee (from the Bomb Squad) emphasizes the hypnotic guitar line and the squalling horns in his remix of the Budos Band's "TIBWF".

The Budos Band and Antibalas both made well-received albums this past year that recall the Afrobeat style pioneered by Fela Kuti. Some of the members of Antibalas were in a group called the Daktaris, who released an album in 1998 called Soul Explosion on the Desco label (a predecessor to Daptone). The Daktaris' song "Eltsuhg Ibal Lasiti" gets a dub makeover by the Mad Professor.

There are four tracks from Daptone's flagship band, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Ticklah's remix of "How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?" recasts the song with an upbeat reggae rhythm that is well suited to Sharon Jones' supple vocal melody. The Kenny Dope remix of "Keep on Looking" amps up the BPM's, as does DJ Spinna's remix of the Dap-Kings' "My Man Is A Mean Man". The aptly named Cool Calm Pete recites a humorous list of the unglamorous aspects of an ended relationship over the sampled backing of the Dap-Kings' "Stranded In Your Love".

James Brown soundalike Charles Bradley sings with the funky organ trio The Sugarman Three on "Take It As It Come", with a dub breakdown at the end by Afrodisiac Soundsystem. The Sugarman Three return on the final track, "Bosco's Blues". The remix of this track recalls the Daisy Age productions of Prince Paul, and the Large Professor's rap on "Bosco's Blues" pays tribute to the Daptone label. "Bosco's Blues", as well as "Stranded in Your Love" and "How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?" are my favorites on this compilation.