Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week Of 6/21 - Psychobilly, Blues, Pop-Techno, Electroswing

This week I loaded a 4-disc compilation, unintentionally ended up with two new releases instead of one, and threw down with some Hank 3rd. Pyschobilly is effectively the mash of Punk Rock with Country - and you can't go wrong with that, I've been sitting on Hank Williams III latest since it came out in May, only took me a month to load it up and really listen. I had intended to only buy one new release (based on some reviews no less) but while I was in the record store found myself browsing just so I could hear what they had playing in the overhead - bit of a sign that was. So I bought Dave Alvin's latest after sticking around for the first five tracks. Totally worth it. And then there's the 4-Disc box set, I didn't listen through it as many times as I'd have liked though, but it is 4 hours of music...

New Releases:
Dave Alvin - Eleven Eleven
Label: Yep Roc Records
Release: 6/21 2011
Genre: Blues, Americana
Dave Alvin is credited with helping to start up, Roots Americana. This album, though, is a pretty solid Blues album. In both music and feel. The slow opener 'Harlan County Line' is a basic lost-love song, and very catching. It speeds right up with 'Johnny Ace Is Dead', slows down for a few tracks, and rides through on a bit of a downtempo style to the end. Several tracks are of the more Americana style than straight Blues, the two that stick out the most are 'Gary, Indiana 1959' - a classic blue-collar hard luck story - and 'Two Lucky Bums' - a great upbeat tale of life being good despite some hard luck. As a bonus, there's an included download card for an extra bonus track that should have made the album itself. This is a great album, a worthy addition to modern Blues music.

The Japanese Popstars - Controlling Your Allegiance
Label: Astralwerks
Release: 6/21 2011
Genre: pop-techno, dance
I picked this up because several places pulled the nostalgia card and compared it to mid to late 90s records from Chemical Brothers, Juno Reactor, Crystal Method and their compatriots. Being a fan of that, I took a chance. Well - they lied. It misses in both feel and overall cohesiveness. One of the big things the really big names in Electronica did, and did well, were put together solidly cohesive albums. If you're going to compare something to Crytal Method's "Vegas" or (Gods help you) Juno Reactor's "Beyond The Infinite" it better step up. This, does not. It's not a bad album by any means - it's decent pop-techno you could toss onto the dance floor. But it's not great, and it's not cohesive. It's solid middle of the road listening here. A couple tracks really stand out though, the opener 'Let Go' is a really good kicker, and 'Destroy' really does capture the late 90s Electronica sound. 'Falcon Punch' almost makes it, but needed more solid surrounding tracks. Overall, it's good, and definitely listenable. But there's better out there.

Adding To The Collection:
Hank Williams III - Hillbilly Joker
Label: Sidewalk Records
Released: 5/17 2011
Genre: Psychobilly
I've always been a fan of Hank Williams, and Jr. And Now the III has caught my attention. I'd always held him out there, not disliking him, but not really interested enough to start collecting. But I caught a listen of part of this album and knew this was the place to start if you want so really cranked up country-rock. Psychobilly appeals to the punk rocker in me, in a big way. And this album feels like a great punk album, just a very country one. It just rips through things, short and sweet, and doesn't stop until the outro (which, could have been dropped - a minute of squealing pigs and that one line from Deliverance... bad choice). It's about 30 minutes of pure speed. I recommend it.

Electro Swing Fever
Label: Wagran Music
Released: 2010
Genre: Electroswing
This 4-Disc set is a massive collection, compromised of tracks from the labels "Electro Swing" series and a few other tracks. Each disc is 15 tracks, giving about 4 hours of nonstop swinging club bounce. You really could just throw it on for the night and not worry about the music for a while. Nothing in this genre slows down below Dancing. Some of the best stand outs are Nekta (you bet I'll be going to find their releases), two Rum & Coca Cola mixes made it on (I just like that song a lot), Funky DL adds a song "1947" which is heavily hip-hop influenced without losing the swing beat, and Rube & Dusty added "Big Band Jump" which is half electroswing half dubstep and all bounce. And there's more, lots of tracks in here, sixty of them! Yep, compilations are good for finding new bands, and this one is awesome.

Short this week, mostly due to that 4-disc monster, because I really try and give everything 2-4 listens through before forming opinions on it (though I only made it through the compilation twice.. but it made an impression). And that's the week in sound. On Tuesday Theivery Corporation releases a new album, and I can't wait for that.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week of 6/14 - Gothic Rock, Jazz, Industrial, Rock

This weeks new addition is Bella Morte's latest release 'Before The Flood' - a great Gothic Rock album, plus some Dengue Fever bringing back the sound of the 1950s quite handily, a spattering of Industrial musics, and a Rough Guide Compilation.

New Release:
Bella Morte - Before The Flood
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: 6/14 2011
Genre: Gothic Rock
Bella Morte has the ability to take all the best parts of 80s Gothic Rock and leaving behind all the worst parts (namely, having to have been around in the 80s). Great guitars, light on the synths and samples, and Andy's voice is just an amazing fit for the genre. If you are or were a big fan of Gothic Rock before the 1990s started to change the genre up then you really want this album, it fits right in without feeling dated. Definitely modern rock, definitely something new. Bella Morte managed to capture the feeling without sounding like a bad copy. Lights In The Sky is a massive stand out track, as is Falling Star. It's not all dark and moody, the rock here is above the norm, way better than your average radio play rock group.

Adding To The Collection:
Dengue Fever - Escape From Dragon House
Label: M80 Music
Released: 2005
Genre: Rock, Indie-Rock
Dengue Fever takes average indie-rock and kicks it up a notch by adding a Khmer (Cambodian) singer. Her vocals are excellent, and the album has a very old-rock/lounge feel to it. The whole sound (and even album art) feels like they're channeling the rock of the 1950s, a bit lounge, a bit jazz, a bit rock, all good. And the vocals in Khmer make you feel like you're listening to it in a bar in the jungle heat, I file this kind of thing under Summer Music, good music, hot air, long days, great feeling to it.

Turnbull A.C's - Let's Get Pissed
Label: Out Of Line
Released: 2008
Genre: Industrial, EBM
Turnbull A.C's, named after the gang from the movie Warriors, is a side project for Pontus Stålberg (of Spetsnaz), whose main goal is to create EBM as heard in the 80s. Less crunch, more reliance of the beat, and a little more repetition of chorus. Let's Get Pissed is a pretty good party-album, throw it on when the party needs something loud, catchy and danceable in the background that isn't very noisy or guitar-distorted. All the songs do suffer from sounding a little too alike, the lyrics really stand out as the shift in song. Man Made Modern Machines stands out as a club-style classic, and We Can Drink Without Having Fun is an awesome track - fun and loud.

Rough Guide To Brazilian Lounge (w/ Bonus Axial album)
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2009
Genre: Jazz, Bossa Nova, Lounge
I love these Rough Guides, really. This one, though, is interesting. The entire thing is really light, lounge jazz. It's an entire RG of what I end up putting on in the background to allow me to focus, not really listening so much as letting the music block other noise. It's not loud, it's not particularly catchy sing-a-long type music. But it is really good, the jazz here is fused solidly with Bossa Nova rhythms - or rather Brazilian sounds are given a slight jazz flair.

Axial - the bonus disc by this band - on the other hand, is even more down the downtempo road, even lighter. While still really good music, it's the kind of stuff you take it really easy to, afternoon nap or reading material. Non-intrusive music, Sandra's voice is hypnotizing, it does demand some attention, making you pause and Listen to the music.

A good compilation, but fairly downtempo, I wouldn't pull this out to dance to.

Bonus Album:
Caustic - Born This Way
Label: none
Released: May 2011
Genre: Industrial
This little four-track gem was given away on Caustic's Facebook page. It's a couple remixes of Hiroshima Burn, and one each of The Saint Of Fuck-Ups, and White Knuckle Head Fuck. I think these remixes were done but not chosen for any specific release, and Caustic is one of those 'it was made and must be heard' type guys. If you've 'Liked' his Facebook page you can go grab a copy of this. Very club-oriented remixes, but honestly nothing really awesome. Just a fun little four-track bit that is good to throw into a big mix.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week Of 6/7 - Blues Rock, Punk, Electroswing, Industrial, Shamisen

I have a huge pile of music to work through since The Wife gifted me a bunch for our anniversary. On top of the few I had already ordered. This months new selection is also a new band - Tedeschi Trucks Band. The musicians aren't new, but the ensemble is and their debut is some good slow Blues Rock. The first of the Electro Swing compilations as well, plus some other fun stuff.

New Releases:
Tedeschi Trucks Band - Revelator
Label: Masterworks
Release: 6/7 2011
Genre: Blues Rock
Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi have been around a while, in 2010 they got together, pulled in an 11 piece ensemble and set to work. The result is a very low-key, Blues Rock sound, with Susan's smooth voice in the lead. Her vocals don't get the usual guttural sound a long of female blues singers have, and they aren't the poppy-soaring vocals of most acts either. Just in the middle, good singing. The band itself, despite being a large ensemble, doesn't step all over itself, they manage to not sound like they're an overwhelming force. The horns are subtle, only coming out when they work best, and stepping back to the rhythm after that. Overall, it's a great first effort from the group, hopefully this isn't a short lived project.

Adding To The Collection:
Agatsuma - En
Label: Domo Records (Japan)
Released: 2007
Genre: Shamisen (traditional Japanese), Jazz
Agatsuma is another modern Tsugaru Shamisen player - a form of Shamisen from the northern most island of Japan - mixing traditional Japanese with modern styles. This album has a heavy jazz influence, a few tracks are outright jazz pieces with a Shamisen in them. All of it is excellent music, light without being lowkey or downtempo. Worth a listen if you're a jazz fan looking for something fresh injected into it.

Dropkick Murphys - The Singles 1996-1997
Label: Hellcat Records
Released: 2000
Genre: Punk
This collects all of the B-Sides, Live tracks, demos, and other assorted bits from the first two years of DKMs life, all with original singer Mike McCoglen. It was released in answer to a European release of similar nature since the early 7"s and Singles were way out of print by the time DKM gained following there, it omitted some bits, and added some other bits. The early demos and b-sides are nice, but really the gems are the live tracks, DKM always puts on a good show, and it's evident here they've done so right from the start. Good if you're a new DKM fan, or are missing some of the really early stuff if, like me, you just managed to never pick it up.

Iszoloscope - beyond within and so on
Label: Ant-Zen
Released: 9/7 2010
Genre: Industrial, Experimental, Noise
Iszoloscope is a very experimental industrial act, heavy and noisy sounds. Very unclub without being completely outside the dance zone. Some of the tracks on this release verge into ambient soundscapes that remind me a great deal of Controlled Bleeding, without being derivative of it. It's also a free release through either Amazon or Bandcamp - making it a cheap way to introduce yourself to modern electronic industrial. The album is nice and crunchy and grindy - and the best part is a short track 'unplugged' that is literally a recording of the artist hitting the buttons on the machines.

Electro Swing - compilation
Label: Wagram Records (France)
Released: 2009
Genre: Electroswing
The French took American Swing from the 20s to the 40s, plus London House/Big Beat and mashed 'em together in a wonderful up-swing sound of dance music. Seriously, this stuff is cool, upbeat, really kickin' on the dance floor. And this one-disc compilation is the perfect place to start. It has a smattering of all the little bits Electroswing has added in, scratch&wobble (turn tables scratched), hip hop MC over the swing, heavy bass lines, and even remixes and refits of old stuff - Fred Astaire gets a work over on his Puttin' On The Ritz classic. Twenty tracks of dancing goodness.

Next Week - since I have a lot of musics, I can plan ahead. Bella Morte's new release (already in hand, it's great Gothic Rock), more Shamisen, 1950s Cambodia gets an indie rock makeover, and some Industrial Rock plus a random surprise.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Week of 5/31 - Jazz, Industrial, Ambient, Gothic Rock

A couple of this weeks selections are short, I probably should have added one more to make up for it. But I'm sticking to Five Per Week anyway. The new release, Eliane Elias is one of those artists I probably should have known about all along, being a moderately famous Jazz singer and pianist (famous in Jazz circles at least), from Brazil she's got a lovely voice, has been recording since 1984, and is completely new to me. Sometimes I wonder how I miss artists like this. Especially considering the number of jazz aficionados in my family.

New Releases:
Eliane Elias - Light My Fire
Label: Concord Music Group
Released: 5/31 2011
Genre: Jazz (Latin, Pop, Lounge)
Eliane Elias hails from Brazil, and her music is in both Portuguese and English, Light My Fire bounces around the arena from a very Latin Jazz sound (usually in her own writing), some lounge (or Nightclub, however you want to call it) jazz perfect in those after hours jazz clubs, and a pop-music sound. This album has a few covers on it, chiefly the title track is a cover of the The Doors (doing the song some actual justice and in my mind proof that Jim should have been writing for other people from the begimning - he can't touch the elegance of Eliane's rendition), and Stevie Wonder's "Ma Cherie Amour" which is a beautiful sounding cover. If you're not a fan of jazz with too many horns, I definitely suggest this, it's quiet, elegant and brings just enough bounce to keep you paying attention - maybe even dance.

Filling Out The Collection:
Combichrist - Throat Full Of Glass
Label: Out Of Line Records (German Release)
Released: 2011
Genre: Industrial
Combichrist are one of the work-horses of the Industrial world, they always seem to be either on tour or in the studio, and they've got the fanbase to show for it, and the catalogue to back it up. This particular single is the German release, because it includes the video - and the American release had to be censored (it shows breasts and violence, God help us all, they edited out the breasts....). The title track and four remixes are here. Each remix is a very different take on the track. There's a standard heavier dance beat, a sped up version, a dub version, and a slowed down version. The last track is a remix of Industrial Strength which is very club friendly. Pretty much exactly what you expect out of an Industrial genre single. The song itself - can't for get that - is catchy, the hook and chorus are infectious, it's almost radio friendly in that regards.

Bella Morte - Undertow
Label: Metropolis
Released: May 2011
Genre: Gothic Rock
Bella Morte is one of those modern Gothic Rock groups that would have easily fit right in with the 80s genre kings. A distinct vocal sound, and excellent composition. This two track digital single has one track from their upcoming album, and a cover of Celine Dione's "My Heart Will Go On" which they take out of pop-hell and give it new life, known for covering it live at shows, they finally recorded it. And with their darker sound, low guitars, and Andy's distinct vocals make it a much darker song that before. The new album is out June 14, 2011.

Panda Bear - Tomboy
Label: Paw Tracks
Released: April 2011
Genre: Ambient
Panda Bear is an ambient (and almost by nature of ambient electronica highly experimental) artist, his latest release Tomboy fully explores a low energy, and mellow, environment. It's very good for putting on in the background and just letting the room fill up, though it doesn't have some of the multiple layers that some ambient artists fill their sound with. It's very stripped, very simple, mostly bass and vocals throughout. His vocals are treated to sound somewhat distant, buried in the underlying beat. The album comes with a digital download of a live set played in 2010, unlike some artists in the genre the live set isn't as improvised, mostly straight renditions of album tracks. The album also comes on vinyl (which has a digital download of the full album + the live album), and it's white vinyl which I think makes it look more interesting than other colors bands choose.

16 Volt - Beating Dead Horses
Label: Metropolis
Released: May 2011
Genre: Indutrial
Long standing duo, 16 Volt, latest is an Industrial-Rock power house, dark and gritty. Exactly what you want from these guys, as the years have progressed their sound gets heavier, grittier, and more aggressive. Beating Dead Horses delivers 13 tracks of pure club-friendly industrial rock, with no slowing down. The standout tracks are the title track (which opens the album), Sick Sick Sick, and We Disintegrate. The rest is good, but nothing really extra-ordinary, to be honest. It fits right into a playlist or set list to keep things moving smoothly along to a heavy guitar laden beat. I definitely recommend it for fans of the genre.