Monthly Archives: November 2008

#135 vic chesnutt, elf power and the amorphous strums – stop the horse

vic

of all the great musicians from athens, georgia (r.e.m., the elephant six bands), it’s a complete mystery why i’ve never gotten to listen to vic chesnutt – not even when he’s collaborated with many other bands i love, like lambchop, or even when he released his album north star deserter last year on my favorite record label constellation. and for that matter, that album featured more of my favorite bands, from constellation stalwarts a silver mt zion and gy!be, and also fugazi’s guy picciotto. this time round, on his newest album dark developments, he collaborates with e6 alumni elf power and an outfit i have no idea about, the amorphous strums. but after mentioning all these partnerships, which really do bear testament to the his magnetic appeal, i find chesnutt’s songwriting remaining in the forefront with the rest of the bands respectfully giving it its rightful place. in my many listens to dark developments, i was drawn repeatedly to the slow burning “stop the horse”, each verse delivered in shades of dried bloodstains from the weight of each metaphor tied to chesnutt’s torn sleeves. i must say, it’s never too late to have a new favorite.

mp3: vic chesnutt, elf power and the amorphous strums – stop the horse

dark developments was released this month on orange twin, a label co-owned by members of elf power which is raising funds for land preservation and sustainable development. they are currently working on a 150 acre eco-village in athens, georgia. do support them!

#134 blur – you’re so great

coxon

so damon albarn claims blur rehearsals are in the works, with rumors of estranged guitarist graham coxon being a part of it. i don’t know what to believe anymore, but i’ve always felt blur were rather empty without coxon, as much as i enjoyed the new direction of think tank. their 1997 eponymous album was probably when most of us first heard a blur song entirely penned and performed by coxon – “you’re so great”, an introverted character placed right in the middle of the album, sandwiched meekly between the majestically atmospheric “theme from retro” and the darkly chugging “death of a party”. recorded by coxon under a table, it showcased his newfound experimentation with alternate tunings and experimentation, obviously under the influence of his new heroes, sonic youth and pavement. the result: a crisp but raw glimpse into the evolving genius of the guitar backbone of blur, starting on a pensive note, working its way into a luminescent slide guitar solo and finally ending on a high, brimming with confidence. this was the interlude in the blur album that unassumingly became its centerpiece.

mp3: blur – you’re so great

#133 love is all – wishing well

love-is-all

have i ever mentioned i love swedish music? among other things, i really do love their accents, be it lykke li’s breathy, girlish playfulness or jens lekman’s charming storytelling voice. so the first thing that struck me about gothenburg band love is all was singer josephine olausson’s energetic delivery that was equal parts karen o and sleater-kinney, the sound of a pop-punk princess turned riot grrrl rolled off the tongue in style and oh that little bit of swagger. you hear that in the first single “wishing well” off their album a hundred things keep me up at night, but that’s not all you get. the sounds are rough and rushed, presenting themselves with meaningless urgency but unquestionable accessibility.

mp3: love is all – wishing well

a hundred things keep me up at night is out now on what’s your rupture.

#133 peace on earth – a charity holiday album vol. II

peace-on-earth

it’s exactly a month away from christmas, and for many it seems like one of the bleaker seasons around. even the lights at orchard road don’t seem too enthusiastic (not that it was ever about lights and shopping to begin with). whatever it is, for for second year running our fellow blogger it’s hard to find a friend is releasing a compilation of brand new and exclusive contributions from 22 artistes including some of our favorites like anathallo, oxford collapse, someone still loves you boris yeltsin, and jason collett from broken social scene. 100% of the proceeds will go to the children of uganda, which assists in aids relief in uganda and neighboring countries. so please do support this worthy cause by purchasing digital download of this lovely album at only us$7.50 for only by following this link. and if you need just that little bit of convincing, here’s a complimentary download of jason collett’s “a beguiled christmas in sales”.

mp3: jason collett – a beguiled christmas in sales

here’s wishing everyone a blessed christmas in advance!

#132 onra – the anthem

onra

in 2006, french-vietnamese dj-producer onra returned to the homeland of his grandparents in saigon, and returned not only with a bit of heritage, but also a crateful of old chinese and vietnamese vinyl records. the cuts from these findings formed the album he called chinoiseries, a delightful deconstruction of the oriental sounds from the perspective of a dj formerly disconnected from his past, but now piecing it together through his own hybridized worldview. the album was released at the start of the year, but i’d only stumbled upon it last week; since then, though, it’s been gaining much airtime on my stereo, especially one of the early standouts, “the anthem”. armed with a chinese big-band sound, the rousing violins (how often can they be described thus?) match perfectly the repeated Chinese lyrical couplet (i can’t quite make out the first half, but the second refers to the fantastical mentality of pearls!). such a gem, this one.

mp3: onra – the anthem

the album is now back in stock at boomkat. get it!

#131 roberto de simone: secondo coro delle lavandale

la-gatta-cenerentola

i was just checking out max tundra‘s promo mix (featuring choice cuts from his new album now out on domino records) when i heard that distinctive tribal chant at 4:19 – that unmistakable refrain from OOIOO‘s “umo”. it’s something you’ll never forget once you’ve heard it the first time. as i happened to mention this to kris from domino, he pointed out to me that what i heard was actually “secondo coro delle lavandale” composed by roberto de simone for the theatrical adaptation of the italian folk opera la gatta cenerentola (“cinderella the cat”) in 1975. the OOIOO version was in fact a more frantic cover of that neapolitan folk song, which sadly leaves out the climatic flute-led conclusion i’ve quickly come to love so much in the original.

mp3: roberto de simone – secondo coro delle lavandaie

you can also download max tundra’s promo mix here. have a great weekend!

#130 waking up with … jamie stewart

jamie-stewart

this friday our guest contributor is jamie stewart from xiu xiu. i’ve been a fan of the group since 2004′s fabulous muscles, which in my opinion remains unrivaled in emotional intensity with a perfect balance of pop experimentation. so it’s a great honor to have jamie share with us a little about his nico obsession during his recent european tour:

i have a nico button on my guitar strap and her excess eyeliner has been burning the dirge “janitor of lunacy” into my waking ears as of late, at least 20 times in the last week. until yesterday we have been on tour in scandinavia, russia, poland, austria, germany and czech. these grey locations held hands with her harmonium perfectly.

mp3: nico – janitor of lunacy

thanks jamie!

#129 daisy daisy – michelle plays ping pong (vicarious bliss match point remix)

vicarious

my dad used to play ping pong with me when i was a kid. my eyes were really bad then, but he always believed playing sports like ping pong would help, so we used to play almost every week. and i’d like to believe that it did make a difference (if anything, i think i can play a half-decent game). anyway, when adrian asked me to check this vicarious bliss mix of daisy daisy‘s “michelle plays ping pong”, i could almost hear the beats in my head already, ping pong balls bouncing off tables, the hollow of the little plastic things resonating against the fibers of solid wood. but what i didn’t expect was how far that sound could go, especially with the hard electro sound vicarious bliss injected into it, living fully to his ed banger credentials.

mp3: daisy daisy – michelle plays ping pong (vicarious bliss match point remix)

the michelle plays ping pong single is available on sunday best recordings.

#128 tobacco – truck sweat

tobacco

i’ve been listening to tobacco‘s (from black moth super rainbow) debut solo album fucked up friends for quite a while, and i can’t help but feel this album sounds like the long-lost electronica cousin of dan friel‘s ghost town. both are extremely short in length, comprise mostly instrumental tracks, and spend the entire album focused solely on developing a sound, rather than blossoming an idea. but while dan friel explores a peculiar kitchen blender meets neutral milk hotel sound, tobacco plays instead with analog synths and tape machines to create a distinctly beat-heavy soundscape. a deliberately paranoid beat, for example, drives through the entirety of “truck sweat”, which plays out into a delightfully schizophrenic symphony that lasts all but three minutes. that’s all it needs, really.

mp3: tobacco – truck sweat

fucked up friends is now available on anticon

#127 cut copy – far away (hercules and love affair remix)

cut-copy

i’ve featured both cut copy and hercules and love affair previously and praised both for their outstanding records this year, so when i heard the latter’s remix of the former’s “far away”, i just couldn’t resist squeezing in another post on them. “far away”, being the song that follows the sublime “hearts on fire”, seemed almost destined to live under its shadow, but the light and bouncy touch of its intro must have been too tempting for andy butler, and not to mention too easy as well. there’s nothing unpredictable about the mix, with bongos added to the beat and that bassline we all know so well running through the song, though i’m sure not many fans would complain.

mp3: cut copy – far away

mp3: cut copy – far away (hercules and love affair remix)

the far away ep will be released on modular next week. look out for it!