While I waited for The xx’s Coexist to match the minimalist thrills of their debut album, and as I pondered why I still lifted my skinny fists to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend despite its (glorious) predictableness, I discovered an album that struck a darker and colder atmosphere than the former, with all the devastating inclinations of the latter: Raime’s anticipated debut LP Quarter Turns Over a Living Line is a tense, terrifying excursion of brutal ardour, casting a post-industrial gloom over much of anything I’ve been listening to this year. - Dan.
The music of Efrim Menuck may be criticized for being simplistic or even naive. Whether delivered in stirring apocalyptic terms in Godspeed You! Black Emperor or channeled through the mournful communal excursions of A Silver Mt Zion, Menuck’s musical vision is a stubbornly straightforward one, an outpouring of emotional force regardless of medium or form. As a self-confessed fan, I’m not embarrassed to admit my willing subjection to this treatment (or might you say manipulation?), or even how much this unadulterated experientialism appeals to me.
But Menuck’s recent solo effort, Efrim Manuel Menuck Plays “High Gospel”, explores a new dimension to the Montreal-based musician and studio engineer’s work. While capable of delivering crushing intensity and overwhelming sorrow like any GY!BE or ASMZ record, High Gospel is decidedly more crafted and varied, and less inhibited to experiment or even detour. In the opening track, for instance, soul-stirring drone is weaved intricately with familiar choral manifestoes, only to be interjected by a dizzying array of electronic signals. Emotions still ride high, reaching even new heights at some points, only this time they seem less raw and perhaps more believable. - Dan.
thee silver mt. zion memorial orchestra & tra-la-la band – 13 blues for thirteen moons (constellation)
this is the first asmz album to come with packaged with lyrics (in a nice little hymnal too), perhaps indicative of the unprecedented focus on frontman efrim menuck’s voice, and in general the first time the band has sounded so direct. it was due for a worldwide release on march 25th, but the kind people at constellation mailed it much earlier, just in time for my birthday in fact. for a whole month since that day, i listened to the album every night. for the first few listens, i struggled to get used to the unfamiliar guitar driven sound, but gradually, the entire album became part of my evening routine, with the harsher sounds i associated more with gy!be mingling with the world-weary strings that still feature so distinctly. and every night, i’d fall asleep to album closer blindblindblind, sometimes just after munuck reminds me “we want punks in the palace, cos punks got the loveliest dreams”. for some reason i can’t explain, i’ve bonded with this album like no other this year.
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.
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!
while post-rock has been most noted for its post-shoegaze turn in recent times, with the proliferation of lengthy noise rock bands from mogwai to explosions in the sky and of course the mighty gy!be, the early paths trodden by pioneers like tortoise remain somewhat deserted in comparison. to be fair, there is more to the bands in the former category than full mastery of the loud/soft formula, but honestly it’s the experimentation of the latter that remains closer to the edge of that fringe, where the meaning of rock itself is questioned at its crossroads with jazz and other genres. that’s perhaps the briefest possible context for listening to tortoise’s thrill jockey label-mates, pit er pat, the three-piece band that also hails from chicago. in “evacuation days”, the pre-apocalyptic urgency of the title sees the band pursuing a direction in between the forward-thinking aesthetic of tortoise and the otherworldly mysticism of the fiery furnaces, yet another thrill jockey-er. the result is a dark, brooding track that takes its time to explore new grounds in that direction, and like the studio work of tortoise, leaves you curious and thirsting for a live interpretation.
sharon van etten:
Lately, I have been obsessed with this band from Montreal called Automelodi. I work at a record label (Ba Da Bing Records) and my boss, Ben, is constantly getting new records in. He knows I have a soft spot for 80s/90s post punk/early electro, vaguely alternative music... and so one day, he put on a Wierd Records compilation. It was a vinyl set of like 4 pieces or something. There were so many good bands on there... however, Automelodi stuck out in my mind as being an authentic, genuine, NON-cheesy version of the 80s I wish I was a part of. The song in particular that gets me going in the morning is called "Schéma Corporel".
mp3: automelodi - schéma corporel
bani haykal from b-quartet:
often enough, it’s the early morning rush which gets me excited about shutting my eyes. and by morning, we’re looking at the 4 a.m. time frame where all you hear is yourself in a foggy blur, thinking if sleep is really all that important because the early few are storming off for work. in all honesty, there is no ipod nor a single earplugging devicetron which i’d attend to. often enough, it’s someone else’s sonic leak i’m getting addressed by. but, i’m listening to Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters”. in my head, at least. sanity ‘from the point of no return’, personally. it’s a breath of fresh air. despite its age. everything is beautiful then.
mp3: steely dan - babylon sisters
naomi yang from galaxie 500:
The perfect song to start the day is “A Tonga Da Mironga Do Kabuleté” – the live recording from 1971 by Brazilian artists Vinícius + Bethania + Toquinho. It is like a beautiful sunrise – although I think that the lyrics are actually some sort of political commentary disguised as a Candomble/Afro-Brazilian curse – but whatever! And then you should just leave the CD on, and listen to the rest of the album while you have your coffee. And you will have a great day.
mp3: vinícius + bethania + toquinho – a tonga da mironga do kabuletê (live in buenos aires, 1971)
jamie stewart from xiu xiu:
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
justin ringle from horse feathers:
i have been obsessively listening and waking up to this tune by gillian welch called "annabelle". it's a song about a sharecropper in alabama and it is so sad, beautiful and timeless that I can't help but listen more than once in a row. the harmonies in the chorus make my hairs stand up... beautiful song.
mp3: gillian welch - annabelle
tracyanne campbell from camera obscura:
my favourite song at the moment is called 'one in a million' by steve miller. it's really beautiful. his voice is like honey in the sun and it totally melts my heart. the lyrics are quite simple and i guess
corny but it's a great tune and the production is so good it really doesn't matter. i wish i'd written it. in fact i'd love to do a cover version of it. i was recently in stockholm visiting my friend victoria (bergsman) from taken by trees and we were singing it in the flat and talked about recording it. watch this space...
mp3: steve miller band - one in a million
stuart murdoch from belle and sebastian:
every day when i leave the house and walk over the iron bridge and up to the glasshouses, i listen to “what for” by james. i have a habit of dropping back 20 years in my thoughts, and having a parallel soundtrack running in my head so that i may be walking in a street in 2008, but my head is in 1988. i don’t know why that is. this is an up and hopeful song of the period from a band i used to care for deeply.
as we slip into the autumn here, i am prepared to let my new song of obsession become “the game” by echo and the bunnymen.
“everybody’s got their own good reason why their favourite season is their favourite season”.
mp3: james - what for mp3: echo and the bunnymen - the game
alison eales from butcher boy:
I'm waking up to Labi Siffre, and wondering how I managed to stay asleep for so long. His songs are diverse, unpretentious, and performed with tangible joy. I'm literally waking up to him as well - I have 'It Must Be Love' set as my alarm, and it is proving to be a very nutritious musical breakfast.
mp3: labi siffre - it must be love
who we are
i love music, but i can't play it for the life of me, so i might as well try writing instead. hope you like it. i'm from singapore, where there really is good music if you look hard enough. i'd love to hear from you (yes, you): email@example.com
I'm a four stringing minstrel of doom, and hired gun for the odd band or two. Few things excite me more than music, and whiskey soaked vocals are a definite plus, so please be sure to send some my way. When I'm not contributing to I'm Waking Up To and MAP, you should follow my misadventures at http://litford.wordpress.com And yes! I'd love to hear from you too: firstname.lastname@example.org
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