Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Maine Coons - The Maine Coons (self released, 2010)

The Maine Coons - Ghetto Queen

The Maine Coons are two dudes from Boston that have been playing local shows like crazy for a year or so and now that they've finally put out an actual record, they're ditching us and heading to Austin. Ain't that some bullshit? I guess it's hard to blame them when they've got a song that goes "I am a motherfucker living out my dreams."

Well, regardless of where they are in this glorious country of ours, they'll be rocking the fuck outta anyone who gives a shit. The Maine Coons play some rock n roll scuzz pop straight from a '70s garage. Seriously awesome stuff. The best of the best, crunchy buzz guitars, humming catchy organs, jangly hooks, and frequently hilarious lyrics (see "Ghetto Queen," "Hey Dickhead," "Hologram (Urinals)," or "Pull The Plug On Grandma"). It's just begging to be blasted from a boombox on your shoulder, walking to the pizza shop sportin your jean jacket & Ray Bans.

If you've been digging Girlfriends or The Needy Visions or any other of Boston's new wave old fashioned rock bad-assery, then The Maine Coons are essential. I've pretty much been playing this nonstop since I got it. And you'd be doing everyone a great disservice if you didn't crank this motherfucker until your ears ring & every last one of your pals hears it and comes over to party.

And just look at that fucking cover. Fucking brilliant, man.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Angharad Davies & Axel Dörner - A.D. (Another Timbre, 2010)

Angharad Davies & Axel Dörner - Stück Un

I was sent 3 out of 4 new discs in the Brass Series on Another Timbre and I was super pumped to hear 'em all. But holy fuck have I had them for wayyyy too long without reviewing them. There's a perfect explanation, of course, and that has to do with the nature of these records. These albums are restrained, delicate, subtle, and most of all, quiet. They absolutely need 100% of your attention, not just to understand what's going on, but simply to even remember that you put on a record in the first place. I finally just said fuck it, tossed everything else aside, and sat down with 'em. This one being the first because the album art is so slick.

Angharad Davies & Axel Dörner take on a violin & trumpet, respectively, in ways that seriously test the limits of your imagination. Mentally compile an aural list of all the sounds you think could come from a violin & trumpet. Cube that number and you're in the realm of A.D.

So here you have two people weaving brass & string in the most organic of ways. Most of the time, if you're paying attention, you'll be able to differentiate between which instrument is which. But occasionally the two are so twisted & abnormal they become one haunted hissing sound.

I'm sure many people will feel many different things upon listening to these two go at it, but my approach is strangely scientific. In A.D., I hear this subdued havoc and my first reaction is to analyze the sounds, to figure out how the fuck they're being made, and it's usually by process of elimination. Demonic growling? Well, I'm also hearing some shrieking strings so it must be the trumpet. Stuttering dog whistle electronics? Can't be the brass because that's off doing it's own scratchy circular droning.

Davies & Dörner have a supreme dynamic; they clearly work really well with one another. Something tells me they also had a fucking blast making this record. The motorboat mouth bubbles, unnerving immanent disaster, the shoe shining brush, the percussive blats, swirling needles, it just sounds like they threw an old fashioned dinner party, retired to the drawing room when they were finished, and made minimal crazy avant noise. If that's not a recipe for awesome I don't know what is.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Haiku Review: Iroha & Fragment. - Bittersweet EP (Denovali, 2010)

Iroha & Fragment. - Turning Around (Fragment.)

Iroha & Fragment.
Bittersweet EP (download)
/half jesu, half... drone?/
/nevermind, it's all jesu/
/sad stars shine bright gray/

Friday, August 27, 2010

OOPs: Cannibal Frequencies - Untitled (Gods Of Tundra, 2008)

Ok, so this one is technically not out of print, but it's so damn close it shouldn't matter. Mike Shiflet (aka Cannibal Frequencies) said 3 months ago that he was down to his last copy or two of this tape. It's $6 postage paid (fuckin deal and a half) and you can grab the LAST ONE, assuming there is one, here (preferably along with some other cool shit he's selling). There were only 50 of these made and I'm not seeing them for sale anywhere else.

Now that that's out of the way... this tape is a wall of static noise. A half hour of unwavering, relentless, beautiful, sweet sweet brutal static. That's all you really need to know. Head over to my original review back in January '09 if you're feeling extra curious / want to listen to a sound sample, or just download this beast already. Totally worth your time. Guaranteed.


P.S. Mike, if this offends you and you want me to take it down because you still have a copy(ies) for sale or for any other reason, just let me know. And you have my apologies.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chris Abrahams - Play Scar (Room40, 2010)

Chris Abrahams - Jelly Crown

Chris Abrahams is the pianist from The Necks. If you know The Necks, then you know how exciting a solo record from any of them is. And if you don't know The Necks then 1: get on that shit and 2: get into this shit. Play Scar is where it's at.

Abrahams' new solo outing is almost an hour's worth of gorgeous work that soars over the entire world of ambient textures. No two songs touch down in the same spot but it's all clearly rooted on one planet. The opener "There He Reclined" sets the mood with it's hazy organ & glitchy electronics, like a slow motion ocean of warmth. From there he explores the depths of minimal drone, reverbed guitar, long resonant tones, avant piano twinkling/smashing, delicate glitch, jangly bells, non-jazz, jet engine walls, static noise, echoing dub techno, fucking everything.

"Twig Blown" is the shortest track yet it's easily the most stunning. Up until that song, things have been semi-straightforward but then he drops this insane field recording glitch noise blowout with shuffling feet, squeaking balloons, and lonely piano, landing on a remote island of chaos. Of course the following track, "The Same Time," is an expansive pop-hymn-like organ piece with the curved FX pipes set to infinity. So so awesome.

The trick to listening to Play Scar is to chill the fuck out and be ready for anything. Nothing on here requires dancing or earplugs, just a healthy desire to be wowed by sounds. There is a master audio crafter at work, doing things I never would have imagined appropriate, and he makes it seem so goddamn cool. More Abrahams, please.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tristan Perich - 1-Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe, 2010)

Tristan Perich - Movement 4

If you've been reading AGB for more than a couple of years, or even if you've just been paying attention to cool shit lately, then you've probably heard of Tristan Perich and his sound/music/art brilliance. He just released 1-Bit Symphony, the sequel/follow up to 1-Bit Music. He's making waves not just because he's making 1-bit music, but because it comes contained on a little chip attached inside a CD jewel case. You plug your headphones or speakers directly into the jewel case and flip the switch to "On."

The structure of Symphony is just about the same as it was with Music, with 6 elements: "music maker," on/off switch, battery, skip button, volume knob, and headphone jack. The two main differences are that the music is actually "performed live" now (not gonna pretend I know what that means) and that now you can fast forward through a song by holding the skip button. Not sure why, but still a nice option I suppose.

The music aspect of Symphony is worlds different, though. If you thought Music was lush for 1-bit tunes, just you wait. It's called 1-Bit Symphony for a reason. 5 movements of astoundingly diverse and complicated lo-fi electronics. There's much less emphasis on the dance/glitch like Music, instead focusing more on serious, though still a tad poppy, compositions. There's really no way to accurately describe 1-bit music but that's probably because I don't truly understand it. Your best bet is to listen to "Movement 4" up there if you're not already.

But wait guys, it still gets better. How? The final movement is infinite. It stops playing new music and freezes in a static drone. It is not a loop like a locked groove, it is actually programed to play forever. Granted, there is a battery involved so it kind of relies on that, BUT STILL. This is the Neverending Album. You have to consciously decide when you want it to end. I can't tell you how goddamn hard it is to flip the switch and move on with your life.

It's limited, obviously, but it's easily the coolest $30 you will ever spend. Also, there is a stupidly fascinating interview with Perich over at BOMB Magazine where he explains everything: 1-bit being a combination of sound & music, experimental improvisation, never finishing Gödel, Escher, Bach, why it's called 1-Bit Symphony, and why he felt the need to let his album play forever.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MP3: Huntronik - Twin Doctor

Huntronik - Twin Doctor

Really digging this "Twin Doctor" track from Huntronik. Nice 'n' chill electronic alt-folk rock stuff with a solid groove, sounding like it belongs on a Baumbach or Anderson soundtrack. Great for these rainy days we've been having.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

OOPs: Iron Horse Rambles (Ralbar, 1962)

Ralbar (now Semaphore) was the first label ever commissioned by a Class 1 American railroad (Reading) to make recordings of a steam locomotive. And Iron Horse Rambles is the first record, which is strictly for the hardcore train nerds. Or weird record collectors such as ourselves.

This isn't just steam engines, although there's plenty of that, but there's also some tracks where you hear the towerman lining up track switches, the dispatcher making reports, a field of crickets or excited children ("Daddy! Here it comes!") as the field recorder waits for trains to approach. The liner notes are filled with old photos and absolutely packed with superfluous details.

"#2102 has her work clearly cut out for her as we hear the train climb slowly on winding track, on the last lap of the eight-mile grade hitting over 1.5% at the top."

"From behind #2124's tender, on the last trip of the '61' season, the microphones pick up the rhythmic stack exhaust. The engineer notches the throttle, and the huge 70-inch drivers get the 16-car train rolling out of Shamokin yards following a water stop."

You're probably thinking, "Alright dude, I know what trains sound like." But seriously, the sounds on this LP are so fucking cool when taken out of context. The steam stacks make the most amazing ebb & flow beats, the whistles on two trains that shriek back & forth, the sweet industrial drone when they're flying past, and a hundred other sounds I never thought to associate with trains. Totally fucking cool.

It doesn't get any more legit than this folks. Don't squash your curiosity. Unleash the Iron Horse upon thine speakers.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Metal Rouge, Sam Hamilton, Jane Austen, Rise Set Twilight at Starlab

Starlab: basement recording studio thing in the midst of Union Square junkyards, small, intimate, sweaty

Rise Set Twilight: husband/wife duo Michael T & Linda Aubry Bullock filling in for Animal Hospital at the last minute, homemade analog synth board + electric harp, underwater wind, ice cracking, mercury tones, FXed harp by way of distorted guitar

Jane Austen: blink and you missed it, elusive pop, quietest set in the history of live music, minimal plinking, electronics glitching, tape tweaking

Sam Hamilton: White Rainbow style beat drone sans third eye, deafening in comparison to previous Jane Austen set, guitar & electronics bloop & bliss, damn near danceable

Metal Rouge: wall of buzzing guitars stacked all the way up to heaven, rhythmic drums penetrated the walls, cultish chant moaning, as grandiose as that tiny room could handle, supreme drone psych euphoria

P.S. 4 out of 7 performers were female which is clearly some sort of record

More (and larger) photos on Flickr.

Rise Set Twilight

Jane Austen

Sam Hamilton

Metal Rouge

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MP3: Hipster Youth - I Lost My Corpse Paint

Hipster Youth - I Lost My Corpse Paint

I'm not sure it's possible to be more self aware than this dude. But at least he's making some good tunes instead of writing a snarky blog full of hipster loathing. "I Lost My Corpse Paint" is nearly 9 minutes of synthy electro pop. Super heavy on the chiptunes (authentic or not is your guess), with a hearty mix of crisp beats & gritty blown out melodies. Sweet enough to put on your next dance party mix although I'll leave it up to you if you ever want to reveal to your friends that you enjoy music from a guy called Hipster Youth.

It looks like the 50 limited hand numbered CD-Rs are sold out. That means you should stream & download the whole album, Teenage Elders, at Bandcamp, highly recommended for song titles such as "Crying Outside Clubs," "Pop Song For Those With Short Attention Spans," and the ridiculously catchy "Super Fun Hipster Suicide Party."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Video: Donato Epiro - Fiume Nero

I have an old split tape with Donato Epiro that I really enjoyed but never paid much attention to. Guess I should go revisit it because his new video for "Fiume Nero" is straight from the jungle, with human sacrifices, a snake & frog who aren't friends, kaleidoscopes, guns, voodoo, and some crazy dancin beats. Sweet stuff.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Patrick Emm - Mythics (Pinebox, 2010)

Patrick Emm - Like I Used To Could

I love the out-of-the-blue drone that gets submitted to me. Makes my day that much better. Patrick Emm is another in a long line of amazing Boston based sound makers and Mythics is his debut release put out on the self-run Pinebox. But don't let the whole "debut" thing fool you. This disc is top fucking notch.

3 long tracks, each hovering around 15 minutes, and each a different slice of beauty than the rest. Mythics opens with "Like I Used To Could," a slow burning mourner, absolutely gorgeous in it's ability to toss lead blankets on your heart and make you weep gray tears of misery. It's full of wobbling organs, soaring static, and majestic buzz that should be used for a rainy day prehistoric death scene showing Homo erectus baffled by the fact that his best bud isn't waking up. It gets ridiculously grand, ramping up the volume and the distortion until it's a hulking mass of gorgeous sadness. If you played this at my funeral it would fucking tear everybody apart.

"Swamp Buck" is more of a field recording piece with a foundation of wind and a distant jet engine perhaps? Or maybe a less distant vacuum cleaner. Then there's some more sad synth, though not nearly as heavy as before and it sounds like single tones instead of sweeping swaths. Very minimal, continuing with the synth and adding in some mysterious brushing sounds, later joined by muffled crowds? Nothing is easily identifiable and I'm sure that's the point. Taking field recordings out of their real world context, using them solely for their sound properties, and it works well having them contrasted with the digitally manufactured synth tones.

The final track, "Clopening," is a bit more song-like in structure, at least in comparison to the previous two. It opens with recordings of human voices, again unintelligible, and brings in a meandering reverbed guitar, the two going back and forth, the voices briefly dominating the guitar before it comes back with another layer of feedback. Very intense & unsettling, like stumbling upon an empty haunted shack in the desert emanating ancient sounds of rust. The voices & guitar fade, replaced by construction noises, sharpening blades & buzzsaw chimes, whirlwinds of sand drowning out the droning synth.

Mythics isn't quite like anything I've heard. The drone & field recordings mixed with isolation & sadness, lo & hi fidelity, synths & tape hiss, it's just fucking great. Patrick Emm is clearly a new dude who's got the chops to handle joining the already packed Boston experimental scene. Do yourself a favor and grab one of the 100 limited copies of Mythics before it's gone.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prince Rama, CAVE, The Needy Visions, Jealousy, Lord Jeff, SKIMASK at The Temple

The Temple: New legit venue in JP, actual stage, real lighting, pretty big, sounds decent, easy parking/close-ish to T, booked mostly by Bodies Of Water, definitely a place to keep an eye on for weird shows

SKIMASK: Lightning Bolt trio except replace bass with fucked FXd vocals and add a dude rambling stream of consciousness shit sounding like Magic People

Lord Jeff: sloppy garage pop, low key jangly fun

Jealousy: 1 wacky dude from SF playin noisy looped post punk gaze with a crazy getup and strobe lights, actually pretty awesome

The Needy Visions: way better live than on record, tons of fun old school catchy '60s psych garage jams

CAVE: fucking killer new wave psych drone rock à la Oneida, riffage galore, so so amazing live

Prince Rama
: Eastern space psych with crazy drums & electronics overload, vocals from another time, brought out the Indian dancing girl, ancient double 16mm projectors throwing bizarre visuals up on the wall

As always, more photos on Flickr.


Lord Jeff


The Needy Visions


Prince Rama

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aun - VII (Important, 2010)

Aun - Blackhole

Aun was one of those bands/dudes I'd always heard of and sounded really awesome but never actually heard. Then he contacted me out of the blue, wanting me to review his new record on the infallible Important so I kinda creamed my pants a little because that's just too. fucking. cool.

To be honest, Aun sounds kinda like what I expected after hearing about him. But WHOA. You could've told me he sounded like angels in ecstasy and I still would have my expectations blown away. VII is just fucking incredible.

Here is some intensely blissful doomatic psych noise perfection. Massive stone walls of crumbling distortion that no sound system could ever do justice to. This is so fucking dense & white hot, the kind of rock found emanating from the inner core of the earth. Chaotic static rumbling through the veins of deep space, black holes burning pure energy, staving off starvation in the middle of infinite deserts, every universe collapsing into the singularity, and through it all a sense of underlying beauty. Not just the "beauty in the brutal" (though there's a shitton of that) but there are actually sweet sounds being whipped off like solar prominences. Harmonic euphoria pushing all the right buttons. So you got your heavy as fuck rock and your heavenly bliss all in one, making VII utterly unstoppable.

Voivod's Away takes on the drums for many of the songs, reminding me of when Nadja added live percussion on Desire In Uneasiness. Which really brings to mind one term, and if you're a regular here, you'll know it's one I rarely use. EPIC. There are times when that word is wholly necessary and this is one of them. VII is just fucking epic. There's no denying it. And I can't think of a single person who doesn't love some seriously epic riffage, so do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this already.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

America Addio - Cotton Kingdom (Enemies List, 2010)

America Addio - Monster Show

Ok, so I have a bit of a love affair with/hard on for Enemies List. I remember feeling this way about some other labels when I first found out about them (Temp Res, T&G) but I wasn't always 100% in line with their aural aesthetic and I wasn't with them from the beginning. Not so with Enemies List. Every release is a fucking winner and I feel like that creepy fan who pretends they're best friends with a celebrity and has a bizarre unfounded sense of pride every time they do something awesome.

Anyway... America Addio is EL pal Cody, who played with Have A Nice Life in their live incarnations, but he's not just some lame sidekick. He's got his own shit that dominates your face with unrivaled coolness.

Cotton Kingdom is just plain insane. It's the kind of insane that I think is super fucking rad but could be harsh on other less cultured ears (SNOB ALERT). For serious though, I could understand someone not liking this because the vocals sound like he's singing under liquid helium and it's brute force wonky synth orchestra drum machine party rock. Not your bag? Leave now.

But you should all definitely stick around. Even if you have no loyalty to Enemies List (yet), Cotton Kingdom is worth being a bit musically adventurous for. It's a man's record meant for partying in the year 2525 with hot chicks (or vice versa depending on your thing) and WHO DOESN'T WANT THAT?

There's only one way to listen to this record, so make sure you don't fuck it up. Throw every thing in your living room out the window (except for your bangin stereo), pour grenadine & glitter all over the floor, cover the walls with the future, open your windows, crank the SHIT outta this record, and let the cool passersby wander inside to join you for the party of the century.

P.S. When (not if) you buy this record, your money goes towards Heifer International which is a super fantastic charity that donate cows, sheep, goats, chickens, llamas, pigs, etc to people in need.

Monday, August 9, 2010

M. Mucci - Time Lost (Tall House Recording Co, 2010)

M. Mucci - Small Triumphs

I know I put M. Mucci's "Moments Between" on that mix I recently made, but Time Lost is so sweet that 2 posts in a row with Mucci Music is not only tolerable, but encouraged.

This record is an utterly fantastic showcase of supreme guitar pickin. I'm no guitar pickin expert, but I'd say Mucci's talents are gonna take him places. His hi-fi dusty Americana is classic & engaging, pretty much perfect for every occasion. Strolling through dead crunchy leaves by the brook, riding the subway, laying on your back in an open field, baking pies, stomping through puddles, chillin on the night beach, non-raging parties. You can listen to it anytime. Dinner, literally, anytime.

Time Lost is top notch lush & twangy guitar, with the occasional percussion. It just fills the room with delicate dreams and makes everything all right. Stream the whole thing on Bandcamp then grab the limited LP, complete with amazing encaustic artwork, and be happy for the rest of your life.