Thursday, August 30, 2012

Backcatalog - Overkill, Ramzi Aburedwan

Ramzi Aburedwan
Reflections Of Palestine
Label: Riverboat Records / World Music Network
Released: 2012
Genre: Traditional Palestinian

The same Ramzi Abu Redwan photographed as a bot throwing a rock at an Israeli tank in 1987, the image sparked an uprising. His grandfather was displaced in 1948 from his home to a refugee camp. Ramzi started to play when he was in his teens, and has switched tactics from hurtling rocks to promoting peace.

The music here starts out with a track whose title translate as Exile (Rahil). So there's obviously some of the youth left in the music - even if it doesn't sound angry. It sounds almost sad at times. The rest of the album is laced with traditional sounds, sound you might find coming out of a jazz bar, and the thing that very musicians can do: a kind of universal sound that's rooted nowhere. It's an excellent instrumental album.

Honestly, as I listen to this, and as I learned the artists story, it reaffirmed what I've always felt about music - it transcends other emotions to help heal, cleanse, focus, and bring us towards a batter emotional state. It certainly helped Ramzi, and we now have a light, melodic, though not quite ambient, body of work to share. Worth picking up.

The Killing Kind
Label: Steamhammer (originally on Concrete Records)
Released: 1996
Genre: Thrash Metal

Not quite moving to the opposite side of the spectrum, not entirely, but this is definitely harsher. At the height of their mid 90s style, which does deviate away from pure thrash metal into almost melodic medal at times, some even put it under groove-metal (a genre title I thoroughly ignore).

Compared to the previous album (W.F.O.) it's almost a return to form. The guitars crunch faster, and the drums pound harder. But it still slows down compared to some of the very early stuff. Blitz even attempts a kind of soft-melody style of singing, which his voice is absolutely not suited for. Still, compared to a lot of the stuff they put out in the 1990s, this is amongst the best of it. If you have to pick one post-Horrorscope album I recommend this one (well, at least I pick this one until we get to the mid-2000s where Overkill returns to full thrash-form).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Releases 8/21 - The Darkness

The Darkness
Hot Cakes
Label: Wind-Up Records
Released: 8/21
Genre: Glam Rock, Hard Rock

The Darkness broke up in 2006 when Justin Hawkins left the band, after only 6 years. They reformed in 2011 with all the original members. This album is pure glam rock. It could have been written and recorded in the late 1970s, that's how authentically Glam this is. The only thing marking it as recent is the production quality, which is definitely modern (though they are not participating in the loudness wars).

From the opening track (which is fantastically rock'n'roll) all the to the end there's nothing but very silly, but very seriously done, cuts. Aside from their fantastic execution of the sound, the songs aren't very stand out. The best track here is a cover of Radiohead's Street Spirit (Fade Out). Which is a fantastically awesome cover that sounds like it came off an Iron Maiden album from the mid-80s.

While nothing here is going to win a Grammy as a single, the whole album feels right. Nothing dips below in quality, even if nothing rises above I like that fact. It's also a short album, 11 songs coming in at 40 minutes, making all of them solid pop-rock length, good for big stadium anthems and radio play alike - they don't get stuck in their own playing.

Definitely an album worth adding if you like glam-rock.

West 4th New Music Collective
Label: none (
Released: August 2012
Genre: Modern Classical

This isn't actually a new release - it's not even available to the public. But, I wanted to hi-light the music collective. I participated in a Kickstarter to get this concert off the ground, a download of the concert recording was a bonus. From their website: West 4th promotes the work of emerging composers and performers in New York City.

So, if you're in, or around, NYC, you can attend their concerts. I'm not, I'm all the way out here in November so I've limited ability to support them. The music from the Cellophilia concert ranged from outright amazing to the kind of screeching only a stringed instrument can create (that I hate a little bit). It's definitely a group willing to experiment with sound, composition, and songs. Which I do like a lot. They have several concerts coming up at the end of September and beginning of October.

So, hopefully, with enough encouragement, we'll see more public recordings from this group that anyone get their hands on. Either way, if you're so inclined check out their website and see what they're all about.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Willie Dixon (I Am The Blues)

Willie Dixon
I Am The Blues
Label: Columbia Legacy
Released: 1970 (this edition: 1993)
Genre: Blues, Chicago Blues

Willi Dixon is easily in the top five of the most important early Chicago Blues artists. Widely influential and one of Chess Records stable of hit writers.

I Am The Blues was originally put out in 1970, and is unique in that it's an album of cover tunes, all originally written by Willie in the first place. Willie was one of Chess Records song writers as well as a performer, and every track on this album was performed by another artist before hand. Muddy Waters, Willie Mabon, Howlin' Wolf, and Otis Rush (his song from this was released on Cobra Records) all performed these songs before Willie did.

Putting this in a very rare set of albums where the writer is performers covers of his own tunes. To be sure, these are much more in Willie's style than just strait imitations. Critical response was originally lukewarm on it as well. The album was eventually inducted into the hall of fame. It's been popular enough for Columbia Records to keep it in print for decades.

Personally, this is excellent blues is excellent. It's a classic sounding style, Wilie goes way back into sound and production to give us an early sounding Chicago Blues album from the 1950s with this one.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Backcatalog - David J, Jackyl, Overkill

Push Comes To Shove
Label: Geffen Records
Released: 1994
Genre: Hard Rock, Blues Rock

Jackyl are a band that probably could have been a great band, at least until they fired up that chainsaw. Taking after the styles of Southern Rock and Hard Rock tinged Blues (ala ZZ Top), Jackyl have a great blues heavy rock'n'roll sound. More evident on their first album than here (their second album). But that Chainsaw gimmick both shot them to the top of the rock-charts and radio-play, and probably killed their career of anyone taking them seriously as a music act ever again. Pop Music....

Push Comes To Shove is a solid piece of work, not as daring, loud, or bold as their opening salvo, but still - this is good music. Even with that silly mustache on Jesse James Dupree's face (actually, as weird as it is, it's a style that kind of works). If your only exposure to Jackyl is "the chainsaw song" from their debut album, and you like your blues a little heavier and louder - do yourself a favor and take another look at Jackyl, they really do have a solid southern-blues sound gone wonderfully metal.

Fuck You! And Then Some
Label: MefaForce Records
Released: 1996
Genre: Thrash Metal

This isn't an album, it's a collection of EPs put all into one nice little package, because the tracks on here are pretty hard to find individually, long out of print live EPs, some demos, and one heck of a cover. Ta

First up is a studio cover b-side, and five live tracks from, the "Fuck You" EP this takes its name from. The title track and cover song from the Subhumans, showing some solid punk roots in the thrash scene. And a bunch of live tracks from the tour for Taking Over, their second album. They have always had a solid live act, and this is a good recording too, not some badly done hack job with levels pushed too high.

Shoved in the middle are two more live tracks from 1990, one track from their fourth album and a Black Sabbath cover of Hole In The Sky. If anything their live act is even more polished. A good little additional bonus for this compilation release.

Next we get the very first Overkill EP, a collection of Demos. Four tracks that started it all. Two would be re-recorded for their debut album, one left over for their second album, and one left in the dust - personally I think they re-recorded the wrong track for their second album. The lost song, The Answer, is a massive slow number that foreshadows things put out much later.

From a collector's point of view - especially one that didn't get these when they were first put out in the early and mid-80s - this is a pretty sweet compilation to pick up.

David J
I'll Be Your Chauffeur (Promo Single)
Label: RCA Records
Released: 1990
Genre: Pop Rock, Soft Rock

After being part of the absolute start of the Gothic Rock and the Romance period in England's music scene, and then moving onto Love And Rockets - an innovating and excellent punk-pop-rock band David J put out a solo album in 1990. This was a 3-track promo released to radios for it.

Normally, I try and only review things that can be moderately easily obtained, even if only used. Since this contains only three album tracks from a still in print release, I thought I'd give some thoughts on it.

If I heard any of the top-40 soft rock crap on this without Knowing it was David J I'd slap the first person who said this was his work. It's a complete disappointment compared to his previous work. To be sure I went back and listened to the full album - and yeah, there's a reason it gets almost no play from my collection. It's really just generic soft-rock, not even innovative. I think he phoned that album in.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Releases 8/14 - Dead Can Dance, Unwoman

Dead Can Dance
Label: PIAS America
Released: 8/14 2012
Genre: Ambient, Modern Classical

Dead Can Dance have been around a very long time making wonderfully ambient works taking from styles all over the world. Technically, they disbanded in 1998, briefly reformed in 2005, and haven't released an album of new music since 1996. This is their first work of completely new music in over fifteen years. And it holds up.

Ambient style works rarely need to keep up with anything, there's very little updating to be made in the genre, but a lot of execution refinement to work on. Dead Can Dance have always been masters of execution, and Anastasis is no exception. The music flows evenly, softly, and nearly peacefully through the air. It's interesting the booklet presents the lyrics of the songs in reverse order they play, reading them you get a picture of someone letting go of their past and embracing an more open future. Listened to, it's not the opposite, but it conveys a different kind of hope, someone looking out after a long life and seeing others embracing their own futures.

I have to say, the first run through the lyrics sounded a little out of place, the male vocals aren't quite as soft as the music, but not really hard either. A sort of murky middle quality that almost doesn't fit, a clear, unaltered, singing. After a few more listens it comes to fit the music rather nicely, standing out without over powering. A good album if you want to add to the ambient, or quieter side, of your collection.

The Fires I Started
Label: self-released (
Released: 8/16 2012
Genre: Modern Classical

I've only been a fan of Unwoman for a fews years now, finding her through an industrial act no less. I picked up her back-catalog and liked what I heard, even if I wasn't completely enthralled. Most of her music had a kind of unfinished, rough, quality to it. Not so here. This is an intense, powerful, and altogether more refined sound. It's not just production quality (which has gotten better with time), but the album seems to come from a deeper place.

The music here feels hard won, the content is wide ranging from uplifting to, not angry, but certainly not all roses. And it's a long piece of work, sixteen songs taking seventy minutes. Like a good movie, you don't feel the passage of time, it paces nicely, each song flowing into the next without needing a connecting theme. Several songs do stand out as above the cut, The Future, The Boot - invoking Orwell's 1984 without sounding contrived (and that's no small feat these days). A Poison Tree - which feels very spiritual, again without feeling forced about it.

I love this album, a lot. This will stay in the top rotation for a long time, and I highly recommend everyone go out and buy it right now (yes, she has hardcopy available through the Bandcamp site).

Bonus Track:
Amanda Palmer And The Grand Theft Orchestra
The Killing Type (digital single)
Label: self-released (
Genre: Rock, Punk
A surprise pre-release single from her upcoming album tossed out to Kickstarter backers, you can order the album. If you're a fan, even a small one, of a kind of rock that invokes all the good parts of 1980s radio-friendly music then you'll want to order this. This is not an extension of Dresden Dolls, or even of her solo work. This is something wholly different, it's old-school and so very new, it's where Rock should go next, half a step backwards in style.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Little Axe (Hard Grind)

Little Axe
Hard Grind
Label: Fat Possum Records / Epitaph
Released: 2002
Genre: Blues, Electric Blues

This is the fourth solo album under the name Little Axe that Bernard Alexander (or Skip McDonald as he's known now) has made. Freely mixing in some electronic elements (dub, house-style samples) with a slow electric blues style, which is part of his trademark sound by this point. It'd been six years since his last solo album, and he comes out relaxed and ready to play.

This is slow, easy going, laced heavily with harmonica, most of the rest of the backing band is kept very low key, in the background behind the guitar and vocals. It is a slow, relaxed collection of electric blues and even some gospel blues. The instruments take full stage, with several songs that either have no lyrics, or voices samples instead of lyrics. It's different from a lot of blues you can find out there.

The opening track is a verion of Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground - whose original vocals were a hummed tune to begin with. This one places a sample over the guitar instead, though dropped way down I have trouble making them out. The fastest the album gets is a few mid-tempo pieces in the middle called Midnight Dream and Long Way To Go. Both of which are songs that made it onto some compilations later on and are the heaviest in electronica elements.

This is, when listened to in full, an excellent collection to sit back and chill out to. It's relaxed and easy going in a way only the blues can be. A superb piece of work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Backcatalog - Depeche Mode, Rough Guide to Cajun & Zydeco

Depeche Mode
World In My Eyes / Happiest Girl / Sea Of Sin
Label: Sire / Reprise Records
Released: 1990
Genre: Synthpop

A pretty typical 7 track remix Maxi-single from the late 80s/early 90s. Race and House was really starting to come over to the US, so there was an uptick in Maxi-Singles. A Single, as tracked by Billboard can only contain two tracks or a short amount of music (I believe under 20 minutes). The Maxi-Single category saw a boom about this time because bands wanted to remix every song they had for the dance floor.... It usually led to some pretty unfaithful "remixes" and some really bad club tracks.

This, well, it's a boring set of remixes honestly. It really comes across as a blatant attempt to get DM into the Raver Scene as it started up. Given their synth-pop sound and cross over into the heavily club active Goth Scene, it makes perfects sense. Except, they really didn't need the treatment, and none of the remixes here do anything interesting. This is a remix collection probably best left forgotten in time.

The Rough Guide To Cajun & Zydeco
Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band - Bayou Road
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2011
Genre: Zydeco

This is technically the Second Edition of this Rough Guide series, the first edition I have yet to track down. Zydeco came out of a mix of Cajun (and old American Folk style) and New Orleans Jazz, with some Blues tossed in for good measure. A genre I've always had some interest in, but never really knew where to start. So, a compilation is the best place to get some ideas.

Definitely not disappointed here. Zydeco is an incredibly up-beat genre. Everything is gear towards making a group jump and dance, and even the songs about things not going quite right tend to sound a little happier than other genres. The bonus CD is a full album from Chubby Carrier And The Bayou Swamp Band, their 2006 release. Which brings me right into another part of the genre I love - the band names. Lots of them have a band leader and long descriptive band name behind it. And they're never boring sounding either. Kyle Huval And The Dixie Club Ramblers; Jamie Bergeron And The Kickin' Cajuns; names like that are active, loud names. Matches the music nicely.

If you're not really into Zydeco as a whole, it appeals to the Jazz fan too, especially if you like big band, or louder jazz styles. Definitely a collection worth picking up in my opinion.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Releases 8/7 - Turbonegro, Ego Likeness

Sexual Harassment
Label: Scandinavian Leather Recordings / Volcom Entertainment
Released: 8/7 2012
Genre: Punk, Hardcore

A Norwegian punk-metal band going way back to 1989 (with a brief hiatus). A kind of mix between KISS and Black Flag (with a healthy dose of Alice Cooper, and The Stooges in there). They call it deathpunk, whatever else you can tack onto it, it's pretty good solid punk rock with lots of glam rock stapled on.

Despite knowing of them, and hearing them sporadically throughout the years, I never found an album to buy. Thankfully, the new release was pretty widely available and I've had my first shot at a full album. This is fantastically over the top kind of rock'n'roll. Nothing here takes itself really seriously, except to be serious rock. They gleefully go from Shake Your Shit Machine to TNA (The Nihilistic Army), about as far apart as you can get on the serious meter I think. One's ridiculousness could only fit in a glam-rock set, the next sounds like it could be from the early 80s hardcore scene in lyrical content.

Most of it, though, feels like early KISS glam-rock on this album. Even the most idiotic lyric is sung with a kind of conviction that makes you want to pump your fist in the air and shot the chorus line. I can only imagine these guys are an absolute blast live. If you want just some solid, good, Rock And Roll kind of stuff, this is an album to go get. I will be making a definite effort to find more of their albums in the future.

Ego Likeness
Dragonfly (Re-Issue)
Label: self released (
Released: August 2012
Genre: Darkwave, Gothic Rock, Industrial

This is technically a re-issue of their first album, available as part of a recent Kickstarter project. The original album is still available digitally through iTunes and Amazon, but I think they're getting ready to pull a larger print run on the physical CD (I think). I'm putting it here because the re-issue is new-ish (even if the album is almost ten years old). Definitely a kind of way-back sound to the early 00s Darkwave scene (we're getting on a decade out, in music terms that's practically old school).

A good solid dark-rock, electronic gothic music sound to it. The opening track is a sample from the movie Dead Ringers, and honestly, was kind of cheesy even then and sounds even more so now. After that is rolls into a kind of slow, dark song that's just superb. And keeps going along like that to the finish. A solid entry into the gothic-rock scene of the times, and approaching that Classic Album status so many good records attain. Some of it approaches industrial in composition and execution, giving some of them a more EDM style than Gothic, but not so much as to lose focus.

The re-release comes with two bonus tracks, Drive and Above The Soil (Edward's Version). Both of them are from compilations that are out of print (and a little hard to find), and are a nice inclusion for a re-issue. Hopefully the hardcopy re-issue will surface for general consumption, if not pick up the digital versions of the album - even without the bonus tracks it's good musics.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Lead Belly (Take This Hammer)

Lead Belly
Take This Hammer (compilation, best of)
Label: Complete Blues (division of Snapper Music)
Released: 2004
Genre: Blues, Folk Blues, Country Blues

First a little history on the name of the album - because it's been reused at least half a dozen times by as many labels. All of them a 'best of' collection in some form or another. Ledbetter never put out any formal albums himself, only a large collection of singles through out his life (both in and out of jail). Take This Hammer, a famous folk song, was recorded once by Lead Belly and put out on a single in 1942. He died in 1949 and the first anthology to use this title was released in 1950. The one I found happens to also be a U.K. Release, technically an import into the US.

Some of the collections are long out of print, only a few ever made it out onto CD, under this title at least - he has literally dozens of collections out there. So what's in this one? Aside from being the most recent, and easily found collections (well, under this title...), twenty songs across his entire career. A pretty good selection from straight blues to faster jump and slower country blues. Leadbelly had a fantastic range in his repertoire, and this collection shows it off nicely.

While the collection is good at providing accurate credits of who wrote which songs, and any accompaniment (of which there are very few). It does not provide when or where these recordings were made. Some appear to have been pulled from his library of congress recordings, some from various sessions throughout his life. But I'm not entirely sure to be honest, just going by the quality of the songs. All are of good quality, but some are better than others. A Decent enough collection with a good diversity of songs on it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Backcatalog - Darkel, Overkill, Rough Guide To Celtic Lullabies

The first Backcatalog Edition, I expect two to three albums to be the norm going forward, two if one's a double disc set. I'll make it up as I go really...

Label: Astralwerks
Released: 2006
Genre: Downtempo, Trip-Hop

I picked this up at a tent sale. I'm not going to say this is a bad album, because it's not. But it's decidedly middle of the road in that kind of major way that makes one want to condemn it. A mid 2000s release that would have been buried and killed were it released only six or seven years earlier. But then, and now six years later, it comes across as interestingly 'old school'.

Darkel is one half of AIR, a future-jazz/downtempo/ambient duo active since the late 90s. AIR is good, they've got a kind of experimental quality that never lets it get either out of hand or stale. Darkel is Dunkel's solo effort (and his only one to date). Like I said, it's not a bad album, but I'm glad his primary work is with other musicians, because this lacks a certain quality - namely the quality that lets you remember what it is you're listening to. Middle of the road...

Taking Over
Label: Atlantic
Released: 1987
Genre: Thrash Metal

 The second album from one of the original East Coast thrash metal bands back in the 80s. Very hard to find in any format, and I'm not sure I didn't end up with a bootleg here anyway... This is one of those albums that even way back when I knew of it, and had a taped version of it from a friend, but never managed to get my own copy. Most of their albums weren't that hard to find, so. We've got Taking Over. After their first ming boggling awesome release (Feel The Fire) and the stride they hit after this album came out (Under The Influence; The Years Of Decay; Horrorscope) I have to wonder, what the hell happened here?

It's great 80s thrash. It just doesn't really carry as well as the albums that surround it. Part of me doesn't wonder if this wasn't just hashed out as a way to keep touring. I love it in the way I love all thrash-metal albums - which is to say unconditionally. But I were forced to leave a few by the side of the road, I'd toss this one and defend the rest of my Overkill collection with fervor. It's a stop gap between their first and third albums - a definite case of Sophomore Slump that afflicts so many bands it's a cliche.

 The Rough Guide To Celtic Lullabies
Bonus CD: Gráinne Hambly (Irish Harp Lullabies)
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2012
Genre: Celtic, Folk, Children's Songs

 I don't actually have a need for lullabies, at least not in the capacity of needing to play them for a small child. However, I do like harp music (the harp is a fantastic instrument that produces some amazing sounds), and I like Celtic music, and I like light ambient sounds to work to sometimes. And this is all three. While the words are unmistakably (even when can't understand them) lullabies designed in a way to put small children to sleep (or at least calm them down), the melodies are light, and airy, and the good kind of music to have quietly fill the backspaces in a room. The Rough Guides are more coherent themes (instead of wide open regions) tend to gel better, everything here fits together because it's all from the same genre and from the same approach to the genre.

The second CD is, being a fan of the harp, the better of the two in my opinion. It's all gorgeous, soft, sounds. Between both discs you get 26 really good songs. So, this week ends on an up, if quiet, note.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Releases 7/31 - Testament, Sinsect

Changing up the blog output just a little bit this week, instead of a Sunday-Wednesday post. Tuesdays will feature New Releases, Thursdays will feature Backcatalog Additions, Sundays will continue to be Sunday Morning Blues. Not sure if the change will bring better reviews, but I'm hoping it will.

New Releases From 7/31
Broken Heroes Vol. Three
Label: Self Released (Bandcamp Site)
Genre: Noise, Industrial, Ambient

The third in the Broken Heroes series. With each volume of three tracks Sinsect has taken his music into darker and slightly noisier places. Vol. Three keeps going down the same hole, this one is a very dark set of songs. While still the same kind of power-noise/industrial Sinsect is known for, they also veer towards a very dark ambient sound. Additionally the three tracks have a bit of a theme to their naming, with loss being the overall scheme of things. While I enjoyed the first two volumes, it's volume three that feels the most coherent, and is the best of the three I think. The progression is like walking down a path, deeper into woods that are growing darker with each note.

Dark Roots Of Earth
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal

The first time I put this album on for a spin I had to double check it was the new one, and that I hadn't accidentally put on one of their late 80s/early 90s albums. I haven't really checked in with Testament in a long time and wasn't sure how their sound had evolved. It hasn't, not terribly much. Which is both a good thing, I like their sound as it was, and slightly jarring as the new record sounds so close to their older stuff.

But, after a few listens the songs are simply rehashed versions from Souls Of Black or Practice What You Preach, nor are they mere continuations of the death-metally sounding stuff from Low. It's a new record, to be judged on it's own merit. Testament still has it's chops - solid thrash metal with visits into the grumbly mess of death metal. It's a pretty good album for metal fans and more solid proof that 80s thrash can last the ages (if you're a good enough band) without needing many changes.

Between Testament and Overkill you can get all the solid thrash you need both old and new. And I love that about them. So what does stand out here to set it apart? Well, three tracks have gotten me to pause and tap along to the rhythm; Rise Up, Native Blood, and True American Hate. Each of these pounds out a catchy rhythm, and gives me that band-your-head feeling I love so much.

A good album, a good band, and a great "new old school" feeling to it. I may have to go back and pick up the Limited Edition version with the bonus tracks and DVD extras. . .

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Samuel James (Songs Famed For Sorrow And Joy)

I couldn't find a lot of detail about Samuel James. I did find he is a musician who can trace his roots back to the 1890s, musicians all the way. An American blues guitarist, deftly playing roots, electric, and other blues - on guitar, banjo, or piano.

Samuel James
Songs Famed For Sorrow And Joy
Label: NorthernBlues Music
Released: 2008
Genre: Electric Blues, Country Blues, Talking Blues

I found Samuel's second full album rummaging through the music store, and picked it up just because of the title. This is undoubtably some awesome slide guitar. All the vocals works tell stories, in the manner or talking blues - though he sings the lines more than just talks them out. Most of them humorous stories about some very interesting characters.

All thirteen tracks are original music, the whole thing is Samuel and his guitar. No accompaniment at all, harking back to the very early blues records when it was just one artist in front of a mic. While all the vocal tracks are great, and the kind of music you want to stomp along to and dance a bit. It's the two instrumentals I keep coming back to.

Wooooooo Rosa and Runnin' From My Baby's Gun, Whilst Previously Watching Butterflies From My Front Porch. The second probably the greatest song title I have ever encountered. Samuel's slide guitar is smooth and solid. Parts of his playing remind me greatly of Leo Kottke, not a compliment you can put out there lightly. He has the same smooth style, quick picking, uptempo rhythms, and overall ability to evoke imagery with the music (the notes as much as the change ups).

If you like slide guitar, electric blues, and good old blues songs that tell some wicked stories, this album is well worth checking out. I will definitely be finding and adding more of his music to the collection in the future.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Week Of 7/24 - Synthpop, Modern Classical, Punk, Metal, Vietnamese Music

This week I add a glaring omission from my library (well, finally update from faded cassette), find some newish Snythpop and preview some cool upcoming music.

New Releases:
Passion Pit
Label: Columbia Records / Frenchkiss Records
Released: 7/24 2012
Genre: Synthpop

I picked this up after hearing a few tracks in the records store, after not really finding anything else I wanted this week. It's a very 'now' take on the cross between pop music and "indie rock". Which doesn't mean it's bad, it's not actually, but it's also a record full of very interchangeable songs. Nothing really pops out at me as a Stand Out, a few tracks could be singles (indeed one is - see Bonus Tracks below). But there's nothing more to it than that. A very non confrontational release, nice rhythms, poppy tunes, a little more synth than rock in it. I like it, I'm sure I'll come around to it with some regularity when I want some relatively harmless background music with little variation or surprises in it.

Adding To The Backcatalog:
Mata Leão
Label: Warner Bros.
Released: 1996
Genre: Punk, Hardcore, Metal

 Another Biohazard release, I followed them briefly in the early 1990s (until now I only ever actually bought their second album Urban Discipline). So filling in some holes in a band I didn't dislike but at the time I had little budget for music and picked releases with extreme care (or simply, whatever was cheapest). Going back and finding this, a later release from after I really stopped following the band, was a great addition to my hardcore-metal area. Biohazard are a great band, not quite Heavy Metal (especially in the late 90s when Nu-Metal was taking over), not quite punk, with a dash of rap-style vocals for good measure (an early lead into the rap-metal genre). This album is great thrash, seriously picking up a punk social influence, a very hardcore sound with heavy everything. If you want some metal that isn't the same old same old find some Biohazard.

Mortal Kombat Original Soundtrack
Label: TVT Records
Released: 1995
Genre: Metal, Industrial, House, Ambient

I think I picked this up the instant it came out, I wore out the tape, and by the time I got around to updating my library fully to CD it was way out of print. I kept an eye out for it, hoping to find it without too great an expense, which I finally did. TVT Records was not a typical label to choose for a soundtrack, and it shows on the choices - because no actual "record executive" attached to a movie would think of adding any of these guys: KMFDM, Type O Negative, Gravity Kills, Napalm Death, Fear Factory, Sister Machine Gun, Bile, GZR, Utah Saints, Orbital... - especially not all together. It ranges from death metal to ambient, a couple of tracks from the movie score round it out. Truly more soundtracks need to be put in the hands of small labels. Possibly one of the best soundtracks ever released.

The Rough Guide To The Music Of Vietnam
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2007
Genre: Vietnamese Traditional

The Rough Guide that introduces us to contemporary Vietnamese artists, doing both modern and classical Vietnamese folk music. It's really excellent, the whole album flows like most Rough Guides don't. I think a little more care was put into track order than is normal for these compilations. I have yet to really get into music from Vietnam, the artists are a little harder to find in the US (unlike modern J-Pop and K-Pop). But This is a good start, gives me some names and albums to look for, and I think I may try to see if I can acquire more in the future. One thing that immediately catches my attention is it's very similar to some Chinese music I've picked up in style and rhythm. But it's a little more stripped down, brought to the essentials of the sounds and harmonies, not less complex but certainly less busy, the focus is more on the instrument and individual artist, a little more melodic in execution. Just all around excellent music to have on hand.

Bonus Tracks:
Passion Pit
Take A Walk
Label: Columbia
Released: 7/24 2012
Genre: Synthpop

A 2-Track promotional 7" Single, given away as a promo item when you purchased Gossamer. The title track is also the first track off the Gossamer album released with it. The B-Side is Almost There, a non-album track that isn't bad, but you can tell it's leftover material that didn't make the cut to the full album. If you're a die-hard fan you could probably easily track this record down. Otherwise, there's not much to miss.

The Fires I Started - Album Pre-Order Preview
Label: self released (
Released: July 2012
Genre: Modern Classical

If you contributed to the Kickstarter, or go Pre-Order the album now you can pick up a nice 5-track Preview of the upcoming new release. And this album, if these five tracks are even a small indication, will kick some serious ass. Unwoman has grown, advanced, and learned over the past ten or so years and this will be her best effort to date. Truly a movement forward in sound and composition, her voice is stronger here, the music more powerful, the whole thing comes together nicely. And that's just five tracks... definitely an album worth getting (either now and get a test to tide you over or upon full release - doesn't matter but definitely one worth adding). And if you're ordering the Digital Album she's practically throwing it at you free if you only pay the minimum asking price ( but you should pay more...)

Next Week:
The first of many Overkill albums as I fill in the holes in my collection (mostly very early stuff that's been hard to find on CD), the new Testament & new Sinsect, some downtempo stuff from the mid 00s, and a collection of Celtic Lullabies, Listen Hard!