Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review: Black Dice - Repo

The new Black Dice record officially drops next Tuesday, and boy is it good. Usually when I listen to electronic music, I spend a good chunk of time shaking my head (not my ass, unfortunately) and asking myself "what do people see in this?" Not with Repo. I think the difference is that it's not a dance album. With dance records, lots of the tension comes from bass, the absence of bass, and (im?)patiently waiting for the bass to drop. When the bass finally does drop, everyone in the club (because that's where these records get played) raises their champaigne glass to the gods and gets wild. But what about those two minutes setting up the damn drop?

Black Dice subverts this expectation. The tension comes from these noisy, sampled melodies that morph into one another. The effect is that when the song ends, the listener has to replay it to remember where it started, and when we do remember, the effect is so satisfying. The pulse of these songs comes not from bass but from fucking with the sample tempos and other stuff like crunchy bass-esque sounds. Again, this is not a dance album. But why do I feel like dancing? In my bed? As I listen to Repo with headphones on?

When they released "Kokomo" on Load Blown, they added their own notch to the "Kokomo" franchise, which until that point pretty much consisted of a Beach Boys song and old-man covers of a Beach Boys song. They've gone and done it again with "La Cucaracha." Once you've heard it, you may no longer think of the folk song exclusively.

Finally, with Repo, part of the charm comes from the terrible fact that I have no idea how they made these songs. What instruments did they use? What buttons did they push? What knobs did they turn? It's always fun to hear a record that sounds great and that you can play (with your own guitar) straight through. Sometimes though, it's more fun to hear a record that's totally foreign. I have a feeling people won't be covering Repo for a long time. I hear Endtroducing in songs like "Whirligig," but Black Dice is a truly original band. Highly recommended...and I'm in before the hype!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Did you hear? Joshua Redman

On January 13, Joshua Redman released a new record called Compass. Though I haven't heard it yet, I trust it's amazing like every other Redman record. If you're into jazz but wary of (or unexposed to) new jazz- Redman is a good place to start.

I don't know anything about theory, but Redman's records sound like they could have been released forty years ago. On his 1996 album, Freedom in the Groove, he plays swing/ bop that calls to mind the great Blue Note tenor players Sonny Rollins and Tina Brooks. My personal favorite Redman records are the '93 debut- Joshua Redman (he plays a great "Salt Peanuts") and '94's Mood Swing.

Here's a video of the making of Compass. It'll give you some of his personal background.

Joshua Redman EPK


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 8

My cheapest purchase at Mojo Music was also one of my best. For $1 they had the "Jesus" single from Brand New's new record The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me. The tracklisting:

1. Jesus
2. Millstone (Alternate)
3. Brothers

"Brothers" should have made the cut, somehow. You may know it from the Fight Off Your Demons demos (Untitled 3). They could have gotten rid of "Handcuffs" or something. Anyway, it's an acoustic song with cool lyrics and vocals. The Millstone is pretty cool too, with some new lyrics and an echo effect. For the first time in awhile, I'm upping it for your pleasure! (Not so fast: If you want "Jesus," you're going to have to use your internet powers to find it- easiest task ever.)

Get it here!

Note: When I refer to the single- I mean the CD single- not the vinyl that was only pressed in the UK and 15 dollars to ship over. When will they finally press the LP?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 7

One of the first and only new pieces of vinyl I bought at Mojo Music was a 2x10'' limited edition version of Wood/Water by your favorite band, The Promise Ring. I hadn't heard it before I bought it, but being a huge fan of Nothing Feels Good and Very Emergency was reason enough to give it a shot. I think I knew that it had a pretty sorry reputation, but I didn't think about it when I put it on the first time. I loved it right away. I think that the Promise Ring took a really surprising and devastating and courageous musical path that was impossible to rally back from. This is another record that I have to defend. "Become One Anything One Time" is as good a meloncholy acoustic jam as I've ever heard. "Suffer Never" is a perfect extension of the sound and vibe on Very Emergency. "Say Goodbye Good" has a children's choir that doesn't fail nearly as bad as when Kanye uses one. The Promise Ring didn't fade away. From my favorite early jam "E. Texas Ave.," to their last hit "Stop Playing Guitar," Milwaukee's best should not be forgotten. Turn them on if you don't believe me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 6

One of the only new releases I bought at Mojo Music was this new Alkaline Trio record called Crimson. It must have been 2005 cuz I got it the day it came out. Anyway, I wasn't expecting much since Good Mourning let me down. At the time, I thought it topped considerably, but now I'm not so sure. Their releases post-Asian Man have been one long sigh after another- good records that are shells of what was. (See my Agony & Irony review from 2008).

Crimson has some fun songs. In "Time to Waste," lyrics like "Such a basketcase, hide the cutlery" prevent me from totally rocking out, but the music's pretty cool still. "Mercy Me" always impressed me. It felt like an Infirmary b-side. Some songs flop really bad, like "Smoke" and "Burn" (though the ending of the latter is sweet). Crimson is a nice addition to the catalog for when you want to shuffle around, but as albums go, stick with the older ones. One positive: Matt's voice sounds a lot better than on Good Mourning. 2005-Pat liked this record more that 2009-Pat does.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 5

Mojo Music slowly got into new vinyl, and by the end there, they had a decent selection. Their used vinyl selection was enormous with really bad quality control and like 20 copies of each Eagles record. Sometimes they had good stuff, and on one occasion I bought Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme by Simon & Garfunkel.

Parsley has a pretty good reputation in S & G's catalog, but it's no Bookends and no Bridge Over Troubled Water. For some reason, I always felt protective of Parsley and I've defended it before from naysayers and skeptics. "Cloudy" is pleasant rainy mood music. "The Dangling Conversation" is the same. Actually, pretty much all the good songs on the record work well in the fall and during rainy seasons. There are some stinkers, like the 60s-tastic and embarrassing "Simple Delsutory." Nevertheless, Parsley is a good record and perhaps my favorite S & G.

Remembering Mojo Music Part 4

Let's continue on my quest to find great music via diggin in the crates. Another favorite that came from Mojo's used bin was Brian Eno's Another Green World. I think the price was either $7.99 or $8.99, but it was worth every penny. Another Green World is the perfect crash-course in all things Eno. It has the weirdo glam rocker "St. Elmo's Fire," the ambient look-at-what-I'll-be-doing-for-the-rest-of-my-career jam "Zawinul/Lava," and the loveable, though admittedly sorta dorky "I'll Come Running." As World grew on me, I developed an obsession with Eno's music, art, and whatever else he does (I read his journal, for example). This is his best record.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 3

Mojo Music had a decent used CD bin. Usually it was full of Kid Rock CDs and really lame early-2000s rap singles, but sometimes you'd find something good. In Freshman year of college, I took an intro. film course and we watched The Harder they Come. I liked the movie a lot, and the songs from the soundtrack were stuck in my head for days. Fortunately, Mojo had a copy in the used CD bin. The price tag is still on it. $7.99.

Be cautious: saying The Harder they Come OST is your favorite reggae CD is just as bad as saying you like Legend the best. Tread lightly. Even if the Maytals's "Sweet and Dandy" makes you want to dance, "Many Rivers to Cross" makes you want to cry, and you write personal statements to "The Harder they Come" you gotta pick a more obscure favorite reggae album. Lie as best you can.

Remembering Mojo Music Part 2

Like any good record store, Mojo was happy to order shit for you if it wasn't in stock. In the days of internet reluctance, this was the perfect way to get cool/ obscure records.

That's not to say Gorgoroth is obscure. You can probably watch them on WGN right now. Still, Pentagram wasn't everywhere in 2003 like it is now. (Was it?) Kinda like with Emperor, I really only listen to this one record. I love the vocals, the mosh parts, everything. This band could play hardcore shows, I think. I remember that after my copy came in, a second copy sat on the shelves probably until the store closed. They also had some weird Gorgoroth bootleg concert vinyl in the back, but I don't like pic discs and who knows how it would have sounded.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Remembering Mojo Music Part 1

In the next however many posts, I'll be talking about the albums I bought at Mojo Music. Mojo Music was at the intersection of Kingery and 63rd st., and if you lived in Dupage, you might have known about it. I bought a lot of important records there in my high school years, and I'll try to write about them. Mojo closed a couple years back.

I bought Into the Nightside Eclipse by Emperor there, and to this day it's my favorite Emperor record. The first track is really long, but it's one of the only black metal songs I know the words to. Every other metal record with keyboards sound cheesy to me, so I'm surprised this record is so good. I downloaded Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk a few years later and was underwhelmed. "We are the Black Wizards" is awesome, and the vocals in "Gypsy" are hilarious. Long live Emperor.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Did you hear? Rudresh Mahanthappa

NPR music is a great resource for when you want to get caught up on what the patrons of Amazon.com are into. Not to mention they post entire concerts from captivating artists (like Antony and the Johnsons, Leonard Cohen) and half-hour+ interviews. I listened to an interview/listening party with Rudresh Mahanthappa yesterday, and I was blown away.

Mahanthappa graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Mass. before discovering Kadri Golpanath, an Indian Carnatic saxophone player. He got in touch with his Indian-American heritage, studied with Golpanath in India, and then created some genre-bending jazz jams that are currently blowing my mind. His album is in the top 30 at Amazon! A fucking jazz record! People are so into India right now. All the best to Mahanthappa. I can't wait to buy Apti, his latest trio record with a guitarist and tabla player. But maybe I'll get Kinsmen instead. That record features Golpanath, and I'll post a link to an ensemble performance on youtube. Who said jazz in the new millenium sucked? When you have dudes playing ragas and talas on the saxophone, who knows what other shit could go down.

Myspace for the Apti record