Thursday, November 10, 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

50 Foot Wave - Bath White EP

Throwing Muses has existed as a three piece for some time now: Kristin Hersh and perennial drummer Dave Narciso along Bernard Georges on bass. 50 Foot Wave simply swaps Narciso for Rob Ahlers, but the differences are marked more by Kristin Hersh's shifted priorities. Too many artists get calmer as their career goes on, when they should get angrier. Hersh gets this, and 50 Foot Wave is Hersh's way of  indulging that without changing what Throwing Muses and her solo albums are about.

Though it once released a 25 minute standalone single, 50 Foot Wave is generally not a band concerned with making long and sprawling musical statements. As such, most of its releases are EPs. The title track's origins are in the ocean, which is an apt aural reference point for the EP in the way it subsumes the listener with sound and doesn't stay still. Bath White simultaneously complements 2011's With Love from the Men's Room EP and expands on it, and if you needed confirmation of Kristin Hersh's enduring importance, this is it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Laura Cantrell - Laura Cantrell at the BBC

Laura Cantrell - Laura Cantrell at the BBC

Anyone familiar with Laura Cantrell knows that John Peel endorsed her in a big way. She's developed a proportionally bigger following in the UK than the US and even released her last album over there first. Properly released on both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously but available at her recent UK shows and as a Record Store Day exclusive, Laura Cantrell at the BBC does what it says on the tin, collecting 15 performances from 2000 to 2005, 10 of which are from Peel sessions.

Cantrell's typically sparse live setup suits intimate venues, and she is as much in her element in a radio studio as in a cafe, bar or recording studio. The four performances from 2005 sound the best, showing a surefooted Cantrell in the early days of her longtime collaboration with guitarist Mark Spencer. The mortality-focused, piano-based "Bees" is all stringed instruments here, and loses none of its power. "Old Downtown" undergoes a more pronounced transformation from a rocker worthy of Lucinda Williams to just Cantrell and her acoustic guitar, and somehow also works.

Laura Cantrell at the BBC is not a live or studio compilation in the traditional sense of either word, It's not an ephemeral novelty either, though it is a unique entry in the Cantrell catalogue, combining the quiet and fidelity of the studio with the directness of live performance.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

RIP Prince Be

RIP Atrell Cordes, aka Prince Be of PM Dawn
May 19 1970 - June 17 2016

Friday, June 3, 2016

Happy 50th Birthday Bill Callahan!


Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow - From the Forest Came the Fire

Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow are embarking on a tour of national parks in the US, which is apt, as her songs are steeped in nature and it's impossible to imagine any song on From the Forest Came the Fire performed in a grey brick building.

From the Forest Came the Fire isn't quite the quantum leap that Leelanau was from Halletts, but it marks another distinct point in Falconberry and her band's evolution. While on Leelanau, Falconberry's cohorts (multi-instrumentalists Gina Dvorak, Karla Manzur and Christopher Cox, cellist Lindsey Verrill and drummer Matthew Shepherd) played Falconberry's pre-existing arrangements, Forest is a full band effort from the ground up, hence the acknowledgement of a collective this time. In lesser hands, their particular strain of folk music could have failed to connect. Substance could have given way to directionless jamming or perfunctory ambiance. Fortunately, Falconberry imbues everything she does with emotional gravitas, and she and her band have a preternatural sense of songcraft.


Top 30 Albums of 2015

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression

Iggy Pop doesn't sound depressed on Post Pop Depression, though he has every right to be. Most of the principal members of The Stooges have died, as well as Lou Reed and now David Bowie. As hard as it might be to imagine, Iggy won't be making music forever, and he's now said that he doesn't intend to try.

The opening track "I'm Gonna Break Into Your Heart" starts with Pop doubling Josh Homme's modal Eastern riff. It doesn't sound as though one is following the other, and it's a perfect microcosm of the album as a whole. Even the one misstep, the spaghetti western "Vulture", is made together. Homme's reputation as a meticulous tone chaser with a penchant for drop tunings can obscure his talent as a fluid and dynamic player, and in large part it's his adaptability that makes Post Pop Depression work. It seems as though he can complement just about anyone, while Pop can stamp his personality on just about anything. It makes for a great parting statement if he does intend to retire and a great avenue of inspiration if he doesn't.

Friday, April 22, 2016

RIP Prince

 RIP Prince Rogers Nelson
 7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016


Dearly beloved

We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life

Electric word life

It means forever and that's a mighty long time
But I'm here to tell you
There's something else
The after world

A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Happy Birthday to the Following Albums (3)

These albums all have significant birthdays this year.

Boris - Heavy Rocks
Happy 5th Birthday, Boris's Heavy Rocks

Sparklehorse - Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
Happy 10th Birthday, Sparklehorse's Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain

Beck - Odelay
Happy 20th Birthday, Beck's Odelay

Nirvana - Nevermind
Happy 25th Birthday, Nirvana's Nevermind

Paul Simon - Graceland
Happy 30th Birthday, Paul Simon's Graceland

David Bowie - Station to Station
Happy 40th Birthday, David Bowie's Station to Station

The Beatles - Revolver

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Top 30 Albums of 2015

30. Los Kowalski - Sputnik EP

29. Aphex Twin - Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2 EP

28. Buick 6 - Plays Well with Others

26. Metric - Pagans in Vegas

25. Deerhunter - Fading Frontier

24. Dana Falconberry - The Lowering Night EP

23. Custard - Come Back, All is Forgiven

22. Chvrches - Every Open Eye

21. jennylee - Right On!

20. METZ - Metz II

19. Motherfucker - Confetti

18. My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall

17. Tame Impala - Currents

16. Wire - Wire

15. Low - Ones and Sixes

14. Death Grips - The Powers That B

13. Richard Thompson - Still

12. Alela Diane & Ryan Francesconi - Cold Moon

11. Erase Errata - Lost Weekend

10. No Joy - More Faithful

9. Battles - La Di Da Di

8. Lower Dens - Escape from Evil

7. Viet Cong - Viet Cong

6. Le Butcherettes - A Raw Youth

5. Julia Holter - Have You in My Wilderness

4. Spectres - Dying

3. Pond - Man It Feels Like Space Again

2. Torres - Sprinter

1. Lady Lamb - After


Friday, January 8, 2016

Custard - Come Back, All is Forgiven

Custard didn't announce Come Back, All is Forgiven until it was recorded and a few months away from release, which was smart; enough time to adjust to the reality that 2015 will see a new Custard album, but not enough to build up unreasonable expectations.

The first thing that struck me about Come Back, All is Forgiven was how much like Custard it sounds like, which wasn't a given after 16 years away from the studio. It's an older Custard, obviously, and sounds like it. While the familiar wit lingers in the lyrics, a certain world weariness has crept in, while musically, a lot of the immediacy has been traded in for a more slow burning approach. It's a trade-off, but a worthwhile one. A younger Custard simply couldn't have conceived "We Are the Parents (Our Parents Warned Us About") and "Get In Your Car" among others. More than one song on Come Back, All is Forgiven addresses 90s nostalgia, but the album is far from an exercise in it.


Sex, War & Robots