fredag 25. september 2015

25092015 - Kurt Vile "B'lieve I'm Goin Down"

Kurt Vile is cool. Way cool! Listen to the first song here, and if you don't like it, we don't have anything else to talk about. If you do, you'll love all of this album and the rest of Vile's output too. He keeps referencing other artists both lyrically and musically, but this still sounds completely non-derivative.

torsdag 24. september 2015

24092015 - Gonga "Concrescence"

These Bristolians (Bristolites? Bristons?) first caught my attention through a pretty cool cover version of Black Sabbath's song "Black Sabbath" with fellow Bristol person Beth Gibbons on vocals. And if you think that name sounds familiar, albeit not the first name that would spring to mind when you think potential Sabbath-coverers, you're probably right. That's indeed the Beth Gibbons of Portishead (and brilliant solo album) fame. I guess Bristol is one of those places where all musicians are buddies 'n shit. And you know what they did? They called it "Black Sabbeth". Clever, eh? Well, I think so anyway. And their cover is (in case you didn't get it the first time) pretty cool, even if they don't really do anything with the song apart from adding a female voice, and one not really associated with the heavy metal at that. Soooo... An album by the band, sans Ms Gibbons and without any vocals whatsoever, how's that gonna sound? Starting off relatively decent, this unfortunately veers off into stoner rock wallpaper after a short while. Imagine Karma To Burn or even Kyuss as elevator music and you're pretty much there. That would obviously be the coolest elevator ever, but apart from the fuzz pedals they use this has more in common with Ozric Tentacles than anything really heavy. And when I want to hear something that sounds likke Ozric Tentacles, I listen to the originals.

onsdag 23. september 2015

23092015 - Vectom "Speed Revolution"

Vectom, man! I never heard this album when it came out, but I remember seeing the album cover in an ad for a music mail order company when it was new. Equal parts cool and kinda scary, the scary part making it even more intriguing. The record itself was nowhere to be seen in the shelves of the record stores I used to visit though, so it took me all of 30 years before I finally heard this 1985 gem today! There's not much information to be found about this German band or their members, but this was their debut album, and in 1986 they released another, "Rules of Mystery", before pretty much disappearing. It would seem that Vectom kept going as a band until 1993, but they never released anything else, and apart from their original bass player (who joined a band that released one demo) none of the members seem to have done anything else since. Too bad, as this is pretty cool stuff! Not original or (sorry, but this pun is compulsory) revolutionary, but hey, it was 1985! The song titles "Loudness and Speed" and "Too Fast for Hell" tells you all you need to know, and highlights like "Open the Coffin", "Black Viper", "Satan's Colours" and the title track still sound great. With the new wave of speed metal/traditional metal revival movement happening these days it's long overdue for a Vectom reunion. Hey, I bet they would get more festival jobs in just one summer now than they ever did in the eighties...

tirsdag 22. september 2015

22092015 - The Tower "Hic Abundant Leones"

So I'm really looking forward to the Flight album, and while waiting for that one to drop I'm checking out some other talent from the same label: the wonderful Bad Omen Records. Now, Satan's Satyrs and Amulet I already know, but I hadn't heard The Tower before. These Swedes are an acquaintance I'm happy to make though, as their slow, mystical and bluesy hard rock with hints of groove, droplets of doom and a whole lotta lovely psychedelia is just the kind of acid laced sugar papa likes! Throughout the record they make lyrical references to The Beatles, but musically it's got more of a Black Sabbath vibe, without being derivative. The long and brooding title track is nothing short of addictive, and I do believe I have a new favorite band. Just check them out!

mandag 21. september 2015

21092015 - Charlie Haden Quartet West "Sophisticated Ladies"

Sometimes all you want is music that you know will soothe your ears, your heart and your brain. Not mindless background noise or mind-numbing elevator music, but proper stuff done by great musicians. When he played the mellow stuff Charlie Haden was happy to be that kind of musician; skilled, but not boasting, content to let the music allow for air. On this album, released in 2010 after a recording hiatus of 11 years, he also invited six wonderful and, well, sophisticated ladies to sing on a standard each, with the remaining half of the tracks left as instrumentals for Haden and his three fellow musicians to play and be playful. And even though the six singers in question are none others than Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, Ruth Cameron, Renée Fleming and Diana Krall, they never even come close to stealing the spotlight from the band. This is jazz the way you want it to sound late at night in a smoky club, alone in your car driving around the big city streets after midnight or in front of the fire on a cold night with that special someone.

søndag 20. september 2015

20092015 - The Monster Women "Murmaids From Mars"

How could I resist checking out an album called "Murmaids From Mars"? I couldn't. Is it any good though? Not really. I must admit I thought this was going to be either surf or garage rock, but although this seems to be done with the best intentions and all the right inspiration (The Shangri-Las and The B-52's are both mentioned on their facebook site), the sound is so tinny, the vocals so bland and the songwriting so poor that it all just sounds completely amateurish. This album is 49 minutes long, which is 50 minutes too much, and feels like ten times as long. The only thing I can imagine worse than listening to the record would be knowing these people and seeing them live. You know that feeling when you see a friend's band and they really suck and you have to stay for the entire gig, knowing that they are going to be really pleased afterwards, and then they ask what you thought, and you try to sound convincing as you murmur some half-assed compliment about how they were "really great!"? Yeah, at least I don't have to do that. 

lørdag 19. september 2015

19092015 - Nicolette Larson "All Dressed Up & No Place To Go"

Nicolette Larson will probably remain most famous for not becoming famous, after never being able to follow up her 1978 debut album "Nicolette", which featured her hit single "Lotta Love". Her legacy will always be that song plus a lot of memorable work as a session vocalist for bigger stars. This was her fourth album, released in 1982, and I really like what I hear. Her voice is great, the songs are pure soul massage and the probably least impressive track here is her version of the chestnut "I Only Want to Be With You", which was chosen as the only single from the album - go figure. Her association with Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young should have gotten her further, but apparently it was never meant to be. This ended up as her lowest charting album, and after this she turned country for a couple of albums before effectively disappearing from people's minds as a solo artist even though she released one more mainstream record and - years later - another with children's songs. I must admit that this album lacks slightly in songs that could have been classics, or even big hits at the time, but as an album I really enjoy this, and will definitely come back for seconds!

fredag 18. september 2015

18092015 - Scorpions "Lonesome Crow"

The Scorpions are celebrating their 50 year anniversary this year, which seems like as good an excuse as any to give their earliest albums a listen. And whether you know them for "Rock You Like a Hurricane" or "Wind of Change", this is something completely different altogether. Released back in 1972, "Lonesome Crow" is more similar to bands like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath or even early Fleetwood Mac, Santana (without the latin bits) and other early jammy psych rock bands. There are some good songs here, but there's really nothing on here to indicate what the band would sound like later on. No big riffs or choruses, more moods and experimenting. Not bad, but a novelty compared to the rest of their catalogue.

torsdag 17. september 2015

17092015 - Heatwave "Too Hot to Handle"

Heatwave? Ring a bell? No? I'll save you the trouble. The song you have heard before is "Boogie Nights", and that's the song you've heard. That goes for most of us, anyway. It's their biggest hit, and one of those songs a lot of people recognize without necessarily knowing who's playing. And yes, I'm guilty as charged myself, as I thought for years that the song was by Earth, Wind & Fire. The rest of this 1976 album is not bad at all, and if funk/disco with some sweet'n'soft soul ballads is your thing you could do a lot worse. This was Heatwave's debut album, and they would go on to release five more records, with Keith Wilder - one of the band's two vocalists - the only member still in the group for their final release in 1988. Keyboardist Rod Temperton, who wrote all the music on "Too Hot to Handle", stayed on for the next Heatwave record, and would go on to write for other artists, including three of the songs on Michael Jackson's "Thriller", making him filthy stinking rich today. Meanwhile, bass player Mario Mantese also played on the band's second album, released in 1978, and would later that year get stabbed in the heart by his girlfriend after leaving a party. After being clinically dead for six minutes he was reanimated, operated and spent months in a coma before he woke up, blind, mute and completely paralyzed. Today he sees, walks and talks again, and is still in touch with the woman who stabbed him... With whom he also has a child. Bass players, eh?

onsdag 16. september 2015

16092015 - Slim Twig "Thank You for Stickin' with Twig"

Dangerous Minds just claimed that this is the second best album so far this year, and that certainly got my attention. Now, I like both the name Slim Twig (even though his real name - Max Turnbull - is also cool), the album title, the cover photo and Mr. Twig's hairdo + 'tache. But do I like the album? What kind of question is that? Oh yeah, a perfectly valid one. Well... I'm just not sure. There's a lot to take in here, and it's pretty obvious that judging this beast on the very first listen just won't do. There's a whole lot of stuff crammed together here, and it seems that every review I read has the writer's own take on what's in the pot. David Bowie is one of the obvious ones, as he's eclectic enough to be 5 different artists on his one, and so, I guess, is Frank Zappa. I suppose the verdict is out, and I'm gonna have to get back to you on this album after listening some more. I definitely don't hate it, but I seriously doubt that it will make my top list of 2015.

tirsdag 15. september 2015

15092015 - Flo Morrissey "Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful"

Very pretty folk pop that sometimes reminds me of First Aid Kit without the harmonies, but also Mazzy Star, Kate Bush and even Lana Del Rey. I do find myself drifting though, so perhaps it's just a little bit too pretty, while lacking ever so slightly in depth? This is definitely beautiful background music, but I don't see myself actively playing this album again, even though I wouldn't object to hearing these songs on the radio, in a café or in someone else's home. Or, even better, at a summer festival, lying in the grass with the sun shining down on me as I drift off...

mandag 14. september 2015

14092015 - The Chameleons "Strange Times"

Love the cover. Dig the opening track. Lost interest in The Chameleons' dated British post punk with slightly goth-y undertones from track two. Cant be bothered to

søndag 13. september 2015

13092015 - The Steve Miller Band "Sailor"

There's a lot of things I didn't know. Like the fact that Boz Scaggs was once in The Steve Miller Band or that the SMB song "Gangster of Love", which Miller so cleverly references in the lyrics of "The Joker" five years on from this release, is actually a song by Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Or even that the band released their first two albums already back in 1968, this being the second of the two. I do really enjoy the slightly psychedelic blues rock here though, and will definitely delve further into the vaults of this band. To be continued...

lørdag 12. september 2015

12092015 - The Housemartins "London 0 Hull 4"

This is the album that didn't have "Caravan of Love" on it, but the first album by Norman Cook, Paul Heaton and the other two is still full of very charming VERY british pop music. Originally released back in 1986, this record has stood the test of time and then some, and that's definitely not just the four singles, but the entire thing. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have liked this back when it was released, especially not the vocals, but that was then...

fredag 11. september 2015

11092015 - Aphrodite's Child "666"

Equal parts fun and weirdness on this Greek psychedelic/progressive concept album from 1972. The music is composed by Vangelis Papathanassiou, with vocals done by Demis Rossous, actress Irene Papas and others. Although there are several songs here that bear repeated listens, it's all a bit much after a while, seeing as this is a double album and almost 80 minutes long - which is at least 30 minutes too much! Of course you gotta love the album title, as well as the fact that the album's concept centers around the Biblical Apocalypse, and just imagining these Greek hippie stoners coming up with this thing is pretty cool, but some heavy editing is needed (that's skipping some of the more "experimental" tracks plus the 19 minute long song towards the end to you and me) to make this something you want to sit through more than a couple of times...

torsdag 10. september 2015

10092015 - Blue Angel "Blue Angel"

Cutie-patootie pop with a slight 50's rockabilly light tinge from this band that featured Cyndi Lauper as their singer before she went solo. This album was released in 1980, and features the immensely successful hit single "I'm Gonna Be Strong", which reached #37. In Netherlands. Go figure. Apart from her voice, there's nothing here to suggest that Ms. Lauper would go on to achieve domination just a few years later, and although there's not really anything in particular bad about this album it's pretty forgettable.

onsdag 9. september 2015

09092015 - Good Rats "From Rats to Riches"

Good Rats are one of those bands whose name I have seen a lot, but before now I hadn't heard any of their songs. They were part of the same Long Island, New York club scene as Twisted Sister, but arrived already in the mid 60's. Their first album was released in 1969, and this is their fourth, from 1978. Without having heard the previous three records (maybe later...), so not knowing if they started out sounding different, I will say that this seems to be a good place to start listening. From the first track, "Taking it to Detroit", we're talking soulful yet gritty hard rock and blues that should sit well with fans of Grand Funk, Free, early Aerosmith or Stretch. The songwriting is solid, if not exceptional, and there are lots of memorable hooks here, but what makes the band stand out is the fantastic voice of vocalist Peppi Marchello, who rasps along with the best of 'em with a whole lotta heart and soul. Yup, I will definitely be back for more!

tirsdag 8. september 2015

08092015 - Savage Steel "Begins With a Nightmare"

I remember this album cover from the ads by a mail order company that used to advertise on the back page of OKEJ back in the 80's. This album came out in 1987, but I never got around to checking it out at the time. Now, of course, it's available to stream, and let me say that the record really lives up to its album cover: raw, simple and to the point, with just the right amount of charming amateurish feel. The production is as expected, which means that the album sounds like it was recorded in a cardboard box, and the songs are pure Canadian heavy metal with hints of thrash and power metal. The vocals are perhaps the weakest link, and personally I prefer them when the singer goes full falsetto. All in all a nice little piece of metal nostalgia, but far from anything I would call classic.

mandag 7. september 2015

07092015 - Predator/Prey "Prey"

I just had to follow up from yesterday's post and check out the second of the two Predator/Prey records as well. And for the record, I have chosen to ignore the entire concept of each song being written from the perspective of an animal, as that it just too artsy-fartsy, hippy-dippy and pretentious for me and my masculine side, and am solely focusing on the music. Before playing this album I went back to "Predator", which did indeed grow on me, showing sides that remind me of both Fleet Foxes (the harmonies) and mostly forgotten favorites of mine My Latest Novel. According to the only review I have been able to find of these albums, "Prey" is supposed to be more acoustic based than "Predator", but I don't se that at all. If anything, "Prey" seems slightly darker at first listen, and again we're dealing with a bunch of songs that seem to promise a greater reward upon repeated listenings. And again I'm really not completely certain that I will spend that time on these pieces of music, as I had more moments of "Ah, I see what they tried to do here" than "Oooh, I like what they did there!" throughout. At least they kept me interested enough to check out two albums in a row, so I guess they are alright if not amazing.

søndag 6. september 2015

06092015 - Predator/Prey "Predator"

Another band I accidentally stumbled across while searching for something else, and ended up bookmarking just because I liked the album cover. I also dig the fact that they apparently released this album in February last year and the follow-up, "Prey", the next day, making this a twin album, not a double album. According to their facebook page this falls under the category "indie, alternative, experimental", and with song titles like "Unkindness of Ravens", "Skulk of Foxes" and "Priory of Panther" you can sense a kind of concept going on here (The songs on "Prey" are similarly titled "Plump of Grouse", "Run of Rabbits", "Piteousness of Doves" etc). And yes, their website lets us know that each song is written from the perspective of a different Canadian animal. So at least they are from Canada. I must admit that at first listen I'm not all that impressed. I can sense that there might be more beneath the surface here, and further listens might reveal a record with plenty to offer, but their twee-ish take on progressive indie rock is not what I crave right now, and I'm an impatient man. I should probably also listen to the accompanying album, which apparently is more acoustic where "Predator" boasts plenty of electric guitars, synths and general loud noises. I must also admit that the album is growing on me as I write this, gaining my interest more as it progresses, so how about you just watch this space...?

lørdag 5. september 2015

05092015 - Ane Brun "When I'm Free"

You wanna hear something really boring? Then read on and get yet another writer's rave ramblings about one more Ane Brun album. You wanna hear something really beautiful? Then stop reading right now and just listen to "When I'm Free". Over the course of six albums Ane has become one of those artists that you almost want to release something at least mediocre, just to mix things up a bit. Nobody can keep on surpassing themselves again and again, can they? Yes, she can. I don't know how she does it, but for every new album she raises the bar and still she manages to outdo herself each time. Her music has developed over the years, and the charming yet commanding naïveté of her first album now seems like a tuft of spring flowers in the blossoming garden that has become her combined output, and "When I'm Free" is a bed of delicate orchids - beautiful and timeless. Her voice is of course the main instrument, and where it always used to give me goosebumps it now also nearly drives me to sweet joyful tears. I could go on and on and on, but there are no words to describe how much I love these songs. And by the way, why are you still reading this? You should be listening to the album instead!

fredag 4. september 2015

04092015 - Undergrünnen "Undergrunnen"

Oh, that good ol' innernet, eh? Today saw the release of this album, and several friends have bragged about it, peppering my facebook feed with not just praise, but also comparisons to a lot of bands that I like. Like MC5 meets Afro rock or Mali meets Can. Junglekraut is their own word for this, and it's a description I like. So colour me intrigued, but do they have the stuff? The "it"? Are all those fine words justified? To me the fact that they sing in Norwegian, and a dialect to boot, is neither a plus or a minus. As long as the music is good, they should do whatever works for them. And yes, I hear both the Kraut and the Afro influences, and they do fit well together on this album without sounding forced. Mostly. Personally I prefer the bits where they set the controls for the heart of the Kraut-space, and could have done with less Vampire Weekend noodlings, but I guess you can at least say that they have found a niche that wasn't already taken. Good for them. However, this means that a song like "Tennene i no stort" doesn't really do it for me, while the closing duo of "Garpaskjær zulujive" and "Dommedag i E" are pretty much total brilliance in my ears. At 9 minutes, the former is the album's longest track, and letting the songs stretch out really becomes them. Personally I would have recommended even more jamming and space-effects, but that's just the Hawkwind fan in me. Definitely a band I want to see again, and probably an album I will play again.

torsdag 3. september 2015

03092015 - The Naysayer "Heaven, Hell or Houston"

No prizes for guessing what song I was looking for when this album turned up on my streaming player. So I check it out, and what comes out of my speakers is a voice slightly similar to early Sinéad O'Connor (in those moments when she sounded more annoyed than angelic), Sophie Moleta or early Liz Phair. There's folk in here, but also hints of Throwing Muses and their like. The songs might display a bit more attitude than catchiness, but there's a raw nerve here that keeps the listener interested. The Naysayer is (was?) the vehicle of singer/songwriter Anna Padgett, who on this album from 2002 was joined by Cynthia Nelson and Tara Jane O'Neill, none of whom I'm the least familiar with. If sparsely arranged songs that try (and sometimes succeed) to pierce your soul is your cup of blood, you could do a lot worse than checking out these songs.

onsdag 2. september 2015

02092015 - Two Fingers of Firewater "Two Fingers of Firewater"

I have no idea how I stumbled across this album, but how can anyone not want to check out a band called Two Fingers of Firewater? I haven't been able to find much information about these very American sounding Brits, but it would seem that this is their first of two albums, released in 2008. A year or so after their sophomore effort, "Songs to Listen to" from 2011, there's a suspicious lack of updates on their Facebook page, suggesting that they have split up. Which is a shame really, as these country-tinged Jayhawks-meets-Teenage Fanclub-y songs with just a slight touch of psych rock are charming enough and possess the right amount of personality to show a promise of brighter things that apparently never came to be. Fans of The Byrds and The International Tussler Society alike should do themselves a favor and check out this album, perhaps along with two fingers of firewater on the rocks to put them in the right kind of mood.

tirsdag 1. september 2015

01092015 - Yo La Tengo "Stuff Like That There"

Since November last year, when my web writings went into hiatus, I never stopped listening to at least one new album a day. That was something I had done for a couple of years before I started this blog, and I have continued doing just that. Every day I have been checking out an album I have never heard before. It's easy, anyone can do it and everybody should. Actually I have probably been averaging two or three new albums a day the last 8-10 months. However, most of these have been releases that weren't out just yet, and that will not do for this project. I want to share the joy, and it wouldn't be fair to you guys if I only wrote about records that you couldn't hear for a month or three. Nor would it be very interesting in the long run. Sure, I've checked out several albums that were already out as well, but, you know, I have been SO busy! I'm gonna try to do this thing again though, because I've really missed it. Hope you have missed me a little too...

Enough about me, let's talk about the new Yo La Tengo album. I was never a diehard YLT fan, and I don't believe I own any of their albums. So this is probably the wrong place to start, but what the heck. This is their 30 years anniversary release, and includes reworkings of their own songs (that I don't know) as well as a neat bunch of covers (some of which I do know, but definitely not all of them). I would call this very pleasant, in a very non-dangerous way, and their versions of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (which has been covered better before) and "Friday I'm In Love" (which really shoudn't be covered) really don't give me anything. It's cozy acoustic stuff that your aunt would enjoy. Wasn't this band supposed to be an indie rock icon? To me the biggest surprise is their cover of Sun Ra's "Somebody's In Love", because I really didn't know that was a Sun Ra original nor that Sun Ra ever sounded like that. (Note to self - Sun Ra needs checking out for future posts.)