Thursday, October 18, 2012


Due to the nature of Blogs, Social Interaction, and My Personal Whim - I'm moving away from this relatively unnoticed traditional Blog to Tumblr, which has more potential, and I think a better way to do what I want to do:

This blog will remain as an archive until it's not here anymore.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New/Recent Releases - Caustic, Blaqk Audio, The xx

The Man Who Couldn't Stop
Label: Metropolis
Released: 10/9 2012
Genre: Industrial, Power Noise

For this release Caustic went out, took every element used in Industrial, and related, genres for the past thirty years, poured it all into a blender, and hit puree. What he did after that is create a near masterpiece of musical diversity, without losing the plot.

It's a fantastic album, from start to end, but never repeats itself. Normally that much diversity is a recipe for disaster. But he's contained each bit, turned various elements into songs, not trying to make it all fit into every song. While the album is really a collection of singles, nothing much links them together beyond the title, it seems to not matter. You could hit random on the player and come up with a different track order for every listen and it'd still sound like a great album. He also doesn't get caught up in himself or his ideas, he just lets it flow out. Awesome music here, definitely add this to your collection.

Blaqk Audio
Bright Black Heaven
Label: Supberball Music
Released: 9/11 2012
Genre: Synthpop

When I first heard this in the music store overhead I thought I was listening to some previously unheard Depeche Mode or similar 1980s synthpop. I wasn't, but this is a very well crafted piece of music. Every inch of it is a nearly perfectly produced replication of 80s synthpop ideas and sounds that you'd be hard pressed to guess it was a new group with a new release.

And it's not a couple guys from the 80s "revisiting their roots while trying something new" which happens. No, the duo here takes the ideas, the composition, and creates a wholly new 'old sounding' album. It's excellent to listen to, not overly-layered, and catchy. Truly superb music has been put onto this album, another definite add to your collection this week.

The xx
Label: Young Turks
Released: 9/11 2012
Genre: Downtempo, Rock, Pop

And the final album from this week, The xx are a group, and I'm not sure I should apply the term 'indy-rock' based off this release, out of London. This album is extremely stripped down and minimal. All the pieces are subdued, even the singing, to the point of light ambient work. All the rock elements are here - drums, guitar, bass, vocals, with some MPC and keyboards in places.

But the composition of it does not elicit Rock Music. Downtempo beats, simple layers, and a removal of complex interactions make for a very mellow album. It's very good, but also puts me to sleep. If you need something to chill to and don't want yet another "new agey" sounding album full of harps and sequenced sounds, pick this up. The xx have figured out how to make mellow rock without making a folk-rock rip-off sound. Coexist, at least, has mastered utilizing audio space smartly in the same way Future Sound Of London have, and that's not a compliment I can give out often.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Howlin' Wolf (part 2 of 2)

Howlin' Wolf
Howlin' Wolf / Moanin' In The Moonlight
Label: MCA Records (Chess Records)
Released: 1986 (Compilation) 1962 (Howlin' Wolf)
Genre: Blues

The second half of this double album re-release. Howlin' Wolf, also known as the Rocking Chair Album, collects the singles released from 1959 to 1962. The 50s were slow in regards to the number of blues releases, due to the general decline of blues in favor of rock in general. This marked the beginning of a period of resurgence in old folk blues. With that followed behind other forms of blues, including a rise in Chicago Blues.

This album has gotten itself placed on several lists of 'greatest albums of all time' as well. Coming from a much shorter period of time that his previous album the songs share a more consistent theme and styling. Howlin' Wolf is probably the best example of Chicago Blues from the sixties that there is. Leaving behind the genres early start from the previous decade, it's fully evolved here.

Definitely an album worth tracking down, either in a collection like this one or on its own, and adding to your collection. I would claim no blues collection is truly complete without these twelve songs in it somewhere.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Back Catalog - Beats Antique, Rough Guide to China

Beats Antique
Tribal Derivations
Label: CIA (Copeland International Arts)
Released: 2007
Genre: Downtempo, Electroncia

Heavily influenced by various Arabian rhythms and beats, with a healthy dose of downtempo styling, and electronica overlaid across the whole thing. Beats Antique sounds like it might be some form of updated 'traditional' music. In a sense it is, but only so far as its influences go back to "old world" rhythms, without actually borrowing from any specific tradition or songs.

Two guys playing music, and a belly dancer (which doesn't do much to the CD listener except provide cover art). Beats Antique is likely best done live. While I love the CD, I can't help but feel the live show is so much more. Still, I like the downtempo beats, mixed with uptempo elements to keep it moving along. I really like how it fits into the background of whatever I'm doing, it doesn't disappear (as so many downtempo/ambient works do), nor does it intrude (the lack of vocals helps greatly). It sits in that perfect middle ground of filling the room without taking over or being easily ignored.

The Rough Guide To The Music Of China
(Bonus CD) Introducing Hanggai
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2012
Genre: Traditional Chinese, Pop, Rock, Modern

With these Rough Guides most of the time you know pretty much what you're going to get. The compilation itself it usually full of traditional, or slightly modernized, music of the region being outlined. Sometimes what you get are a collection of bands local to the region, but not always playing music traditionally from that area. Like with China - while it contains a large portion of music traditional to various parts of China, which is large with a lot of variation to go over. It also contains so very modern bands that simply happen to be from China. Which is cool, because it's nice to hear other countries takes on something as 'simple' as Rock Music.

The Bonus CD is a re-issue of Hanggai's first international (and possibly debut) release. Hanggai incorporate both Mongolian and Chinese traditions. The singing is almost completely (or maybe completely) in Mongolian, along with some songs using Mongolian Throat Singing, and Chinese musics. When I first started listening I had to check because for a moment I thought I was listening to Irish Celtic music. It's that strangely similar. And it's very good. They have since put out some other titles on a different label that I'll be tracking down.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Releases - Diana Krall, Nelly Furtado, Pneuma compilation

Diana Krall
Glad Rag Doll
Label: Verve Records
Released: 10/2 2012
Genre: Jazz

I've known of Diana Krall for a long time now, one of those artists that pops up every now and then and I think "wow, I love her voice, I should get some albums." But jazz of any style rarely makes it into my collection, which is something I can't explain since I love the genre. But, here it is, finally I picked up this album.

Her voice is made of silk, it's just smooth and soft, without losing any power at all. A great lounge style voice and some soft (though not easy listening soft) and lighter jazz. The album also punctuates itself with some torch-and-twang in the middle. A definite country feel to break up the jazz tunes. It works well, you can tell she had a lot of fun making the album. And her voice, did I mention her voice? Just amazing.
Nelly Furtado
The Spirit Indestructible
Label: Interscope Records
Released: 9/18 2012
Genre: Pop

While I only own Nelly's debut album, she's another artist that falls on and off my radar as I listen around. In this day and age her brand of softer, less dance-floor, influenced pop music gets drowned in the more boisterous artists. Another artist with an amazingly smooth voice, though in a different way that Diana.

This album bounces back and forth between a kind of smart-pop style and a slightly more bouncy radio-pop style (though never thankfully gets near the EDM-influenced dance-pop ala Lady Gaga). I ended up with the Deluxe version of the album, which adds six extra songs. Five tracks not on the normal release, and one remix of one of those tracks. Here's where the review gets weird.

The first 12 tracks (the standard release) for a great, tight, sensible album of smart pop music with just the right amount of bounce and serious, love songs. The 6 bonus tracks by themselves are good songs, and I'm never one to turn down more music. But as a whole, all 18 tracks  together create an overly long album that drags out, I started to not like the back third after a few listens all the way through. If you're a big Nelly fan, get the deluxe release, the bonus tracks are excellent and worth it. If you're a passing fan, or just getting into her and aren't sure, get the standard release and keep it short and sweet.

Label: none (
Released: 9/30 2012
Genre: Ambient, Industrial, EDM

This compilation was put together to raise funds for Lung Cancer research (hence the name). 22 songs of exclusive donated material by the bands for the release. That means if you follow any of the bands on here as a "hard core" fan, you'll probably pick this up. Beyond the good that it does for research into the disease.

The music itself, is almost all completely in a 'dark' ambient range. A lot of the bands on the release are known for a harsh industrial/EBM style, and some are known for other genres than what predominates this, but all are well versed in the electronica/EDM zone of music. The result is that everything fits, unlike a lot of fundraiser compilations which musically come across as haphazard as the bands they got to donate a song.

Getting 22 donated songs is hard enough, getting all of them to fit well together, and the creators managed to get the album to flow well too, is another matter. So, just from a perspective of adding some good music to your collection, and being able to play the album all the way through, this is a pretty solid compilation.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Howlin' Wolf (part 1 of 2)

Howlin' Wolf
Moanin' In The Moonlight / Howlin' Wolf
Label: MCA Records (Chess Records)
Released: 1986 (Compilation) 1959 (Moanin' In The Moonlight)
Genre: Blues

I picked up a compilation with two complete Howlin' Wolf albums on it, so I think I'll take them one at a time for two weeks. The albums are Howlin' Wolf and Moanin' In The Moonlight. Moanin' was released first, but comes second on the album. We'll start there.

This is touted as Howlin' Wolf's first studio album, it's really a collection of singles released as far back as 1951. A good solid dose of Chicago Blues. It's also regularly cited as the album that contains the first use of a distorted power chord on guitar - in the song How Many More Years. Which is as Rock N' Roll as the blues gets before switching genres.

The songs are tracked more or less by their original chronology, at least as far as I can tell. The album is powerful enough, and good enough that even a reissue of it in 1987 managed to win an album of the year award. If you want to get into Chicago Blues, you do need to include Howlin' Wolf in your collection, and this album (or more to the point this whole collection) is a good one to add.

Next week I'll look at the other half of this release, the second Howlin' Wolf album.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Backcatalog - Dig Jelly, Sero.Overdose

Dig Jelly
For Your Inner Angry Child
Label: SourceOne Records
Released: 2003
Genre: Hard Rock

Dig Jelly is the other project for three of the five members of Lolita Dark, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, plus a couple other guys. This is their first album put out, some time ago. Done before it became almost cliche to have a female led hard rock band, to boot.

This is equal parts hard rock, punk rock, and pop rock all mixed into a blender and served with a side of DIY Ethic. I like it a lot. I can't actually pin point what about it I like though, I just like it. I put the album on and it catches me from the start and just keeps going in a nice little groove. This is the kind of unpretentious rock that so many bands aim for and miss completely.

Definitely a band worth checking out. More of their stuff will come in the future, I've got their current discography sitting in my stack of music.

No Time For Silence
Label: Alfa-Matrix
Released:  2005
Genre: EBM, Synth-Pop

A bunch of German guys making kick-ass EBM with weird haircuts and all black clothes. This is a formula really. But it works, and Sero.Overdose works well. Everything about this reminds me of all the industrial/EBM I was listening to in the mid 1990s. Given it's a decade out of time from that period I like that it hasn't really lost that feeling.

If I just sit back and listen without knowing when it was released, I probably would have guessed the late 90s. If you like the synth-pop end of the EBM ride you'll like these guys. Well produced, well done, doesn't get stuck in itself or try to make The Beatz take over the record. Good old fashioned dance floor rhythms.