Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Week Of 11/22 - Punk, Rock, Industrial

There's a lot of music out there, so much that it's actually really difficult to get even a small portion of it. In my pursuit of listening I mostly like moving forward with new music, and I occasionally forget to go back and pick up some classics and other things I "should" own. Like Iggy Pop. So, sometimes I go back and correct an oversight - like this week.

New Releases:
Caustic - White Knuckle Head Fuck
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: 11/23 2011
Genre: Industrial
The latest EP from Caustic, a digital only release, so you can find in on your favorite digital release store. Mostly remixes of the title track, some of which are good, some of which are, well - remixes. All told there are five remixes of WKHF, of those the Boole Mix is by far the most creative, making the track an throwback to 80s/90s EBM with pop-synths, almost a New Wave feel. If not for the lyrical content you could slot this right into a Wedding DJ list, actually... given the lytical content it probably should be. There's also a remix of Hiroshima Burn. But the real gem is the new track "Oontz Oontz Oontz Blarrrrrrrgh (Vomiting At 3AM Mix)" - quite the dancefloor bouncer (with some Douglas McCarthy influence), with lyrics that let us know just what it feels like to be around after the club shuts down but the floor still won't stand still.... If you're a Caustic fan this is pretty much a definite buy. If you're a Wedding DJ you'll want it for track 6, play it at the end of the night when everyone's too drunk to keep up with the beat changes.

Pop Will Eat Itself - Chaos & Mayhem
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: 11/23 2011
Genre: Industrial
The first single off the new album, a digital only 3-track release. The album version of the title track, and two remixes. This wasn't the most exciting song on the album, it's a pretty generic "rock and roll" kind of song, not bad, but not really A-Side material for a single in my opinion. The two remixes here are alright. A female vocalist, Snovonne, was brought in to rerecord the lyrics. It does improve the song a little, but the remix is low key, takes a lot of the rock-punch out of it, losing the guitars for synthesizers only was a mistake. The other remix isn't very exciting either, again losing the guitars in favor of more synth just takes all the rock out of the song. For a couple bucks it's not a bad buy, but it's not really that great either.

Adding To The Collection:
Iggy And The Stooges - Raw Power
Label: Columbia Records / Legacy Records
Released: 1973
Genre: Puck, Rock
Punk may have exploded with violent execution in 1976, but a little before that it was slowly forming itself, crawling up out of the speakers. The Stooges were one of those bands that may have come off as Rock And Roll, but were definitely foreshadowing Punk. Raw Power is just that, raw and powerful. The mix is loud, the songs are louder. The opening track Search And Destroy sets the tone, and the album just keeps accelerating. It's a short record too, buy you can practically feel Punk looming over the music scene just waiting to kick it in the teeth. Almost fittingly, this was the last Stooges album (and the first credited as "Iggy And The Stooges" at that.

Iggy Pop - The Idiot
Label: Virgin Records
Released: 1977
Genre: Punk, Rock
Iggy's first full solo album, less raw, more rock, but still very punk in feel. The first two tracks 'Sister Midnight' and 'Nightclubbing' are practically anthems of the night scene. And while the later re-recording of China Girl by David Bowie is famous, the original here feels more alive. Given the whole album is a Bowie-Pop collaboration, it also fits better in this album than Bowie's later retake without Iggy. It's not a very hard or heavy album, almost early gothic rock in feel. Defnitely one to put on after dark, throw in some old Bauhaus and Banshees albums with it for a good ambience.

Iggy Pop - American Caesar
Label: Virgin Records
Released: 1993
Genre: Punk, Rock
Deep into Iggy's career, right at the resurgance of punk-rock in the US music scene, riding high on the previous albums success. American Caesar is a little louder, little more musically controlled, and sadly dumped in the "alt rock" bin.Wild America is by far the most famous track here, and with good reason - it rocks out. Though I like Plastic And Concrete just as much. And ther are a couple of weird tracks here: Jealousy is kind of rambling. His cover of Louie Louie is both hilarious with politcal jabs, and not really a cover so much as a complete re-write. The long rambling speach at the end with Caesar is also kind of weird, kind of interesting. Of all the Iggy albums, I'm not sure this one counts as essential, but it's certainly a really good rock album.

Next Week:
Jimmy Cliff does some covers, including a really sweet take on Ruby Soho; Sarah Brightman, Chris Isaak, Unwoman, and a DJ Mix from Dave Clarke. Modern Classical, Reggae, Rockabilly, Industrial, Electro-House... I love diversity.

Listen Hard!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Vinyl - Punk Rock

Going to try an experiment, I still buy vinyl, new and old. Sunday mornings is usually a good time to try and convert it to digital for my library, as I almost always have plenty of time to myself.

So - Issue 1: Bad Religion;
Some time ago I picked up the Limited Edition Vinyl Box Set containing all 15 Bad Religion studio albums through "The Dissent Of Man" on red vinyl. It's pretty epic. Slowly I've been taking the albums I don't own on CD and digitizing them. So for the next few Sundays I'll be converting those and taking a listen here - as the process of Vinyl -> Digital is done in real time.


Label: Epitaph
Released: 1992
Genre: Punk
Out about the time of the early 90s punk revival/explosion deal. Business as usual for Bad Religion though. Side One is a pretty standard mix of social and political commentary, nothing here really stands out as a Great Song, just good solid writing of an expected nature. Side Two is pretty much the same, with the exception of Atomic Garden which stands out a little from the crowd in style and execution. I won't call this a boring album, it's just another face in the masses of punk rock honestly. There are better Bad Religion albums both before and after this one.

What's really missing from this album is the anger, indignation, and sense of injustice. It's there in the lyrics, but not in the execution. It's like they couldn't quite muster up enough energy to really get across the message in the lyrics without sounding detached from it.

Recipe For Hate
Label: Epitaph (on vinyl - Atlantic for CD/Cassette)
Released: 1993
Genre: Punk
Right off the bat this album has more energy than their last. You can tell they haven't quite stopped from the previous effort, building up steam and volume. Side One contains the single track American Jesus, which really does seethe. It's not shouting-angry kind of rage. This is a under-the-skin kind of anger that seeps through. The first four tracks, in fact, are excellent and feel both frustrated, and angry. Side Two, the first track is the other single from this album, slower, still carrying that quiet anger with it. Modern Day Catastrophists is probably my favorite track on this one, faster and leaner.

Overall, good album, This is about the point where Bad Religion really started to get my attention again after some hit or miss releases. They never were shouting-at-the-mic angry in their songs, Greg just isn't that kind of singer, but they do create a feeling of animosity towards things if you stop and listen. Recipe For Hate is the start of the era of Bad Religion I that I really think sees them climb to the top.

Next Weeks Vinyl - more Bad Religion and a Dubstep single I picked up a few months back. Listen Hard.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Week Of 11/15 - Metal, Traditional (Scandanavia & Arabia/North Africa)

Late post, holiday week madness. The new releases on 11/15 actually sucked, so I went back to the beginning of the month and picked up Megadeth's latest, and loaded a whole bunch of Rough Guides in.

New Releases:
Megadeth - Th1rt3en
Label: Roadrunner
Released: 11/1 2011
Genre: Metal
Titling your 13th studio album Th1rt3en is either clever or a sign that you just ran out of album names. Past that littel bit of absurdity though, this is a solid metal record. Not the pure speed of the early thrash stuff from the 80s, but also not the generally over worked stuff of the 90s. The band here is evolved, precise, still thrash and definitely awesome. There's nothing particularly suprising here, it's a Megadeth album and sounds like a Megadeth album through and through. Better than some of the stuff offered up in the first part of the 2000s though, this feels and sounds like a Megadeth from around the Rust In Peace era, just solid guitar word, Dave's snarl, and songs that linger about 30 seconds too long. If you're a long time fan, you'll probably like it, in fact I'm pretty sure you will - I certainly do. Not the best they've ever done, but certainly not the worst.

Adding To The Collection
Rough Guide To The Music Of Scandanavia
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2000
Genre: Traditional (various nordic countries)
The collection takes from six countries, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Greenland, a wide collection of artists and bodies of work. This is one of Rough Guide's earliest offerings, and isn't very tightly focused, which is also why I like it so much. Nordic folk music has a certain quality of sound that I really enjoy and this collection of 22 tracks goes all over the place with that. From very traditional music to modern takes on traditional sounds. Lots of songs to dance to (assuming you don't mind the occasional polska), the fiddle is everywhere, and strong voices accompany most tracks. Some tracks are slower, some are faster. If there's a downside to the compilation it doesn't really flow within its own context, good for putting on a random selection though.

Rough Guide To Arabic Lounge w/ Bonus Album: Introducing Akim El Sikameya
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2010
Genre: Loung, Traditional
Of all the Rough Guides, the 'Lounge' ones tend to be my least favorite. Partly because I'm not a huge fan of loung-style music, laid back and non-intrusive without being good background music. Partly because it tends to not showcase traditional works enough, they're kind of an 'almost modern' take on regional sounds. This one, not really an exception to that. Falls lock step into light sounding almost elevator music. Nothing jumps out, nothing sits in the background as good audio-tapestry. It's just there. It's not bad, there are some really nice tracks on here, and it's very light music. But, it also doesn't really flow very well. It's an average collection of music that seems to be missing a few spices. Individually, mant of the artists put out works with more punch to them, though, and each artist here is a slightly different sound, not surprising since this spans both Arabia and Northern Africa. Which is possibly it's problem - the geography is too wide, it's not quite focused enough. The bonus album is nice, light and airy, good to put on with other albums of this style if you need to sustain a relaxed mood for a few hours.

Hidden Track
Celldweller - Metallica + Black Sabbath Mashup "Disposable War Pigs"
Label: self released (found on
Released: November 2011
Genre: Dubstep, Metal
Celldweller took Metallica's 'Disposable Heroes' and Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs' and smashed them together (with snippets of For Whom The Bell Tolls and Iron Man for added punch). None of the metal was removed, a lot of dubstep drops were infused. The two songs fit amazingly well together and this track is a monster, pure and simple. A heavy dancefloor banger full of crunchy bits to get down with. This song really needs to be played at high volume. Nice little gem to stumble across for sure.

Next Week: new singles from Caustic and Pop Will Eat Itself (the first single off their new album), both are digital only available from Metropolis Records. And a bunch of Iggy Pop (with and without the Stooges) albums to smash into your ears.

Listen Hard

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Week Of 11/8 Heavy Metal, Country, Punk, Industrial

Late again, Tuesday's are just becoming far too busy for my own good. I think from now on I'll move the blog posts to the Day After New Release Day. That way I can even give a First Impression of the weeks new release... also, I got last weeks date wrong, go figure.

This week: I'm just all over the board - let's have some fun.

New Release:
Pop Will Eat Itself - New Noise Designed By A Sadist
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: 11/8 2011
Genre: Industrial
New PWEI album after about six years or so I think. PWEI has always been one those bands I'm a fan of, without actually bothering to get albums, oddly. So, new release and I fixed that - picking this one up digitally from the Metropolis online store (High Quality MP3s). It's an excellent album, an almost poppy-EBM Industrial album. Full of catchy hooks and extremely danceable rhythms. Top form, like they never went away, just kind of hid until they packed in some heavier beats to unleash on the masses. If you're a PWEI fan you'll want this, it feels old school without actually being tired or old. New dance/industrial/EBM fans will want it because it's just a good album over all.

Adding To The Collection:
Judas Priest - British Steel (30th Anniversary Remaster)
Label: Sony Music
Released: 2010
Genre: Heavy Metal
Judas Priest pretty much defined Heavy Metal in the early 1980s, and this is really the album that hailed in that era of pure metal. The two tracks everyone knows are Breaking The Law and Living After Midnight. However, and this partly why I waited so long to add the CD to my collection, I know pretty much every anthem on here by heart. I wore out my cassette sometime around 1992 and always said "I should get that again" - the 30th Anniversary comes with a cool bonus DVD of live footage. But it's the album, loud guitars and Rob Halferd standing out in front of this big metal sound giving us fist-in-the-air anthem after anthem. This remaster also comes with bonus tracks Red White & Blue and a live cut of Grinder. Just massive, don't wait as long as I did to put this back in your collection.

Neko Case & Her Boyfriends - Furnace Room Lullaby
Label: Bloodshot Records
Released: 2000
Genre: Country
Her second album, I found this little gem used in a tiny shop in Providence, Neko is an early look at country surviving the 1990s and become something decent again. Her voice is powerful, the music feels very raw. Slightly more polished than her first album, but still feeling like it should be listened to in a barn, or bar with straw on the floor. Sorrowful ballads and other offerings that don't feel like the same old same old radio country track. The only thing Country about Neko is her sound, everything else feels like punk rock.

Shonen Knife - Osaka Ramonse
Label: Good Charamel Records
Released: 11/1 2011
Genre: Punk
Shonen Knife formed in 1981, for their 30th anniversary they put together a full album of Ramones covers. Fitting since Naoko founded the band because of The Ramones, and they continued to be a heavy influence on SKs particular brand of pop-punk DIY throughout their career. There is no better fit for a Ramones cover album than Shonen Knife, there's no way this is a bad album. It's just pure delivery, no attempts to reinvent the songs. Shonen Knife picks and plays like you expect to hear a Ramones album: straight through, no filler, pure punk ethic. The songs, some of them, become even more absurd with a Japanese accent, and they all still rock. Absolutely everyone needs to own this album, punk fans doubly so.

Bonus Track
Kidneythieves - Lick U Clean (KMFDM Remix)
Label: none
Kidneythieves did an interview for Vampire Freaks online whatever, with it they released a free remix of Lick U Clean by KMFDM - along with the original - off the Trypt0fanatic album. The KMFDM remix is good, but not particularly mind bending, or overly interesting. KMFDM and/or Kidneythieves completists might want it, otherwise not all that worth hunting down (the full Trypt0fanatic album is however).

Next weeks new release actually goes back to the start of the month and I take a listen to the latest Megadeth album....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Week Of 11/2 - Rock, House, Psychobilly, Traditional (Mali)

A little late this week, I got caught up in a bunch of stuff and had to make room for National Novel Writing Month. So, on with the show:

New Releases:
Florence + The Machine - Ceremonials
Label: Universal Republic
Released: 11/2 2011
Genre: Rock
Florence has one of those really big voices without sounding screechy or loud. It's just a volume of melody. And this album is full of drums and percussion, and this piano that sounds like it was crossed with church-bells. The whole thing is big, and spacious, and just amazing. The two songs I just kept coming back to are Shake It Out and No Light, No Light. But there isn't a bad track on here truth be told. The album is a contender for best release of the year I think.

Adding To The Collection:
Deadmau5 - Random Album Title
Label: Ultra Records
Released: 2008
Genre: House
A big, bouncy house album full of techno-bits and such. Actually... I found this album to be kind of boring. It's the kind of house I put on to sit firmly in the background and just provide the air with some rhythm to occupy my ears with. It's not bad, but, it's not great either. I'm not sure I could identify a single track off of this if it were played stand alone in a club. Except the repetitive first track, which comes off as annoying as I find "Around The World" by Daft Punk, which I also skip past.

HorrorPops - Kiss Kiss Kill Kill
Label: Hellcat Records
Released: 2008
Genre: Psychobilly
The HorrorPops have, in this short and sweet album, captured all that's fun about rock, punk, and rockabilly and mixed it liberally with oddly cheerful depictions of classic horror bits. The wonderfully upbeat Highway 55 about a girl buried off the side of the road, to the endearing Hitchcock Starlet. The top billing for rocking good time goes to Going To The Disco? and Missfit. But the title track steals the day, it's a perfect blend of all the elements. And Patricia's vocals are beautifully sung, never shouted.

The Rough Guide To The Music Of Mali
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2008
Genre: Traditional/Folk
This particular Rough Guide focuses on Mali and, while it's nice is, too low key. Either Mali produces a whole lot of slow, quiet music, or they just failed to find the upbeat stuff. It's not bad music, it's just very very mellow. The vocals stand out though, the singers found here all have amazing voices. Like any Rough Guide I recommend it as much for the cultural insight as for the musical interest.

Hidden Track:
Proper Villains - Bass Down Low
Label: none (find it on
Released: 2011
Genre: Dubstep
Proper Villains took The Cataracts little bumper "Bass Down Low' and made it very dirty. Indeed. The good: they ditched the autotuned crap, kept Dev's lyrics, and added some real bass and real drop to it. Much better ditty than the original.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week Of 10/25 - Punk, Rock, Traditional

This week is actually mostly compilations of traditional musics from around the globe, and some punk rock. Only the weeks new release is a regular album.

New Releases:
Tom Waits - Bad As Me
Label: Anti-
Released: 10/25 2011
Genre: Rock, Blues
Tom Waits constantly manages to both deliver exactly to expectations and something completely new. He veers recklessly between rock and blues for the most part, and this is no exception. Bad As Me is mostly a toned down rock/folk style album, with Tom's unique twist on it all. I picked up the deluxe Limited Edition version with comes in a tall form book, and a second disc of bonus material. The extra three tracks do not feel like tacked on b-sides either, but like a-sides that had to be left off for whatever reason. Good stuff all the way through, bouncing, and melancholy and all that in between. Tom hasn't missed a beat with this one, absolutely go find this and add it to your collection.

Adding To The Collection:
Give 'Em The Boot 5
Label: Hellcat Records
Released: 2006
Genre: Punk
The Give 'Em The Boot compilations are generally about twenty tracks of great punk-rock for five bucks. Mixing in all the flavors, from ska to psychobilly - and none of it slowing down and getting near emo. It's excellent stuff. This one is 18 tracks, with cuts from the Necromantix, Horrorpops, Dropkick Murphys, Aggrolites, Rancid, and a bunch of others. I love this compilations, partly because they're dirt cheap to pick up, and partly because sometimes you just don't know what to listen to and these always seem to fit the bill. Sadly, I think vol5 was the last in the series.

Think Global - Celebrate Africa!
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2009
Genre: Traditional
The Think Global series is put out by World Music Network as a way to raise funds for various charities, and is similar to their Rough Guide Series in that they focus on specific regions. Celebrate Africa! is from all over the continent and benfits Oxfam Activities. Fifteen tracks of some really gorgeous music whose only common link is that they all come from various parts of Africa. Unlike some of the Rough Guides that are more tightly focused, this one literally goes across the board in styles and traditional genres. A good way to get some variety of music, and a good way to help out a little bit.

The Rough Guide To The Best Music You've Never Heard
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2011
Genre: Traditional
This is the 2011 label compilation for WMN, and is the first year they've done a download only. I believe only subscribers actually got a printed case with a cardboard disc that has the download code, ordering directly from the website gets you only the files.  Thirty tracks from mostly the Rough Guides they've put out in 2011, but a few tracks go back a little bit further if I remember right. If you're unsure of exactly which Rough Guide you want, the label compilations are an awesome way to get a little bit from each and then go from there. This music is from all over the world, and encompasses everything from ancient traditional musics to modern evolutions, and modern takes on older styles.

Bonus Tracks:
KMFDM - A Drug Against Wallstreet
Label: none
Released: October 2011
Genre: Industrial
This one is simply KMFDMs 'A Drug Against War' with new lyrics supporting the Occupy Wallstreet movement. It's a little inventive, kind of interesting, even more politically charged that KMFDM are normally. And it's free from their website.

KMFDM - Rebels In Kontrol (Occupy Wallstreet Mix)
Exactly the same as the previous track, a remix of Rebels In Kontrol for the Occupy Wallstreet movement. The lyrics are the same as the original song, but it's been remixed - slowed down a little. Otherwise, even for a free track, it's a little unspectacular and you can tell it was put together pretty quickly.

Next week! Pyschobilly, House, Rock, and music from Mali!