|music that makes my ears wiggle|
V/A, "Hollerin'" Rounder Records
Recorded in 1975-76 in Spivey's Corner in North Carolina, home of the National Hollerin' Contest. A fascinating compilation of various hollers which the liner notes describe as "folk music at its most basic, a practice born of the need to communicate over distance. A bewildering variety of hollers are represented here. Interspersed between the hollers are testimonies from H.H. Oliver and Leonard Emanuel telling stories describing the context in which the hollers were developed and used. Included are distress, rafting log, down river, old time, and of course, hog hollers. In some instances, such as Track 4, dogs actually start howling in response to the hollers.
Sigur Ros, "( )"
A plaintive piano tinkling, a naked guitar, majestic beautiful waves of sound crash over Jonsi Thor Birgisson's forlorn falsetto, pummeling drums thunder and subside, and all is eerily calm again. And then...no title, no song names, no information. Just music. Ethereal music. Yes.
V/A, "Studio One Soul: The
Original" Soul Jazz Records
A beautiful documentation of the influence of American soul on reggae. Many of these songs will be familiar to lovers of soul ("Express Yourself" - Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, "Respect" - Aretha Franklin, and "Groove Me" - King Floyd are the first three selections!), all given the Studio One treatment by its brilliant musicians. It'd be difficult to select a standout, as all the tracks are gorgeous songs, but The Eternals covering "Queen of the Minstrels" (originally by The Impressions") is a atmospheric groove masterpiece. The sweet harmonies singing "Queen of the Minstrels" wafting over an infectious easy beat before the equally sweet lead vocal enters is magical. If you enjoy the soundtrack to Perry Henzel's all-Jamaican-made 1973 classic starring Jimmy Cliff, you'll most likely also really enjoy this disc. These soul songs are given tender, heartfelt turns by the Studio One masters, and it's obvious upon first listen that these songs are very special to them.
V/A, "Beyond the
Calico Wall" Voxx Records (CD)
Why is that brilliant burbling second song on the LP, "No Silver Bird" by The Hooterville Trolley, left off? Aside from that, what we have here is one of the best psychedelic compilations I've heard. Little-known '60s American bands such as Park Avenue Playground and Afterglow churn out nutty psychedelia of the deliciously manic variety. Alongside the "Love, Peace & Poetry: Japanese Psychedelic Music" (Normal Records) compilation, "Beyond the Calico Wall" is my favorite compilation of psychedelic music. Fun, silly, cool, and recommended.
V/A, "Sons of Yma" Yma Records
A Collection of Peruvian garage and instrumental bands from the 60's. It's rather difficult to top the first track, "Sueno Sicodelico" by Los Holys, with its cheesy synthesizer intro and ensuing analog swoops, quasi-surf guitars, Farfisa background. Many of the songs sound surprisingly cohesive back to back, and sound vaguely surf-inspired or even inspired by '50s American rock. There's a bit of distortion on these old tracks, but doesn't detract from the fun of the tracks. But when you consider the liner notes' statement that "the equipment in most of the studios was so old and in such bad shape ethat things were constantly breaking down and the group spent more downtime than actual recording time while waiting for the equipment to be repaired", the sound quality is actually quite remarkable. Features a version of "Moby Dick" by Los Comandos.
V/A, "Radio Java" Sublime
"The selections on this CD are a combination of random radio excerpts sequenced in collage form and assembled in the summer of 1989." - that's how Sublime Frequencies describes this CD, an apt description. The audio itself is quite fascinating, especially the Jaipongan pop songs. There are no credits, and releases such as this and other DVD and CD releases on Sublime Frequencies simultaneously smacks of cultural imperialism and teases the cochleas of the ears with its random edits, as if eavesdropping on the radio transmissions of another fantastic world.
The Darkness, "Permission to Land"
Omigawd, this is disgusting, sick fun! Big ol' guitar riffs and FM radio ballads, all '80s rawk style, and those insane vocals send this completely over the top. Aquarius Records describes the vocals best: "Think Bon Scott meets Tiny Tim, Freddie Mercury meets Vince Neil, or an opera singer thrust on stage and forced to front Def Leppard." Vocalist Justin Hawkins leaps wildly into ridiculous falsetto in the middle of phrases, leaping wildly from note to note while singing words such as "Keep your hands off my woman, motherfuckee-eee-eeee-eeeee-eeeee-errrr". Once past that novelty, many of the songs start sticking to the roof of your brain. It's catchy, silly fun, and, yeah, the riffs are cool, too.
My Morning Jacket, "It Still Moves" Ato Records/RCA
Boot-stompin' Kentucky folk-country-rock dripping in reverb, with drums sounding like they were recorded in a giant grain warehouse. The vocalist seems to get compared to Neil Young in reviews. This is primarily due to the timbre and the decidedly yearning quality of the vocals. And it's catchy. It's difficult to get the sweet melodies of "Mahgeetah" out of my head. "Run Thru" is haunting, and the beauty of other songs such as "One Big Holiday" get under your skin. Good release.
Back to Reviews