(Jason continues to breathe air into this blog while a rather busy time for work keeps me from doing much other than eating and sleeping.)
I’ve been really delighted with Asthmatic Kitty’s Library Catalog Music series, a set of instrumental albums designed by the label “for possible use in films and television, background sounds for home or office, or personal needs, such as relaxation, stimulation, meditation, concentration, or elevation,” with specific uses such as “accompaniment to cooking, eating, sculpting, exercising, high stakes poker, soaking, panoramic landscapes, cuddling, car chases, drawing, knitting, bandaging, romance, playing chess, or planning the rest of your life, of which this is the first day” suggested. Sounds good, right?
I’ve really enjoyed The Law of Least Effort album, Music For Measurements, a set of Booker T & the MGs style funk by noted side-man Casey Foubert, of the sorely missed Crystal Skulls. The catalog also includes entries from his Skulls bandmate Yuuki Matthews, Asthmatic Kitty co-owner Lowell Brams (joined by “Minister of Aesthetics” Sufjan Stevens and members of The National), Roberto Carlos Lange (Savath & Savalas) and James McAllister (Sufjan Stevens, Ester Drang). Future installments include an LP from Richard Swift (who I’m a pretty big fan of) under his Instruments of Science and Technology banner.
All in all, the stuff is interesting and wildly diverse. Check out Brams’ ambient offering, and some grooving from Matthews and Law of Least Effort.
I think that if it were the 70s, I’d probably be one of those “Disco Sucks” guys, probably jamming out to Boston on headphones while getting stoned in my parents’ basement, or maybe, if I was really cool, shaving my head and going punk. After all, I despise my generation’s club music, be it obnoxious rave fare or the even more disgusting hipster-baiting, extra low-V neck sporting Indie-Electro-Dance-Rock-Bangers scene.
Of course, it’s not the 70’s, and given a few decades’ distance, I really can’t even try to deny the pure pop power of stuff like The Bee-Gees, Donna Summer, and Labelle. It’s from this stuff that L.A. (of course they’re from L freaking A) combo Music Go Music draw their sound, with liberal doses of Blondie’s punk-edge, E.L.O.’s classical flourishes and ABBA’s laser-beam precision Swedish melodies tossed in for healthy measure. The band issued their debut full length on Secretly Canadian Oct. 6th, and these live videos from talent show Face Time showcase their particular sound. Not sure what Face Time is, really, but it seems weird and pretty awesome.
Music Go Music-Warm in the Shadows Live on Face Time
Do you think Southern Lord just wouldn’t let a band put out a record called “God Is Good?”
Whatever the reason, doom-metal mystics OM’s new record is released by the fine folks at Chicago’s Drag City. The Steve Albini-produced set is the first album to feature the band’s new lineup, with drummer Emil Amos (Grails) joining bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, replacing Chris Haikus, who was Cisneros’ bandmate in the legendary doom band Sleep, before that band splintered into OM and High On Fire.
The record finds the group even further mellowed out than previous releases. There isn’t even that much of the ever-present fuzz that defined their genre; in its place instead are chimes, flutes and harps recalling the groovy mediations of Alice Coltrane and overt Middle Eastern influences.
I kinda wondered how long the group could mine just minimalist territory, and the expansive sounds of “God Is Good” have made me happy they aren’t confining themselves any longer.
I pretty much hate everything about Girls. The ludicrous name, absolutely ridiculous “look” of the band, and interviews like these, where the duo of Chris Owens and Chet White come off as vapid, pretentious pill-heads, the sum of indie-rock’s “weird for the sake of weird” fashions, rivaling their buddy Ariel Pink in some sort of outsider-rock ego arms race. Then there’s Owen’s “crazy religious” upbringing, perfectly concocted for the discerning rock-writer to salivate over, and the HYPE, oh jeez the hype: Pitchfork awarded the group a spot in their 500 songs of the decade before they’ve even issued a full length.
But here’s the rub: The songs are airtight (another trait they share with Ariel Pink), and despite my natural inclination to despise the band as the no-talent hacks they come across as, the tunes mostly justify the buzz, or at least justify putting up with it. Girls specialize in the kind of shimmery pop and junky rock n’ roll that’s perfect for the last nights of summer. Starting at 10 a.m. EST on Monday, Sept. 14th, you can stream their debut album, irritatingly titled Album, at True Panther Sounds. I haven’t heard the full length yet, but if the strength of their singles thus far is any indication, putting up with obnoxious color scheme of the site will mostly be worth it.
“I never travel far without a little Big Star,” Paul Westerberg sang in “Alex Chilton,” a track from The Replacements 1986 gem Pleased to Meet Me. The line speaks for the cult of fervent listeners of Big Star, the 70’s Memphis act that over the course of three LPs defined the term “power-pop” while suggesting the blue-print for what would come to be labeled “alternative rock,” melding Stax soul, folky poignancy and a perfectly skewed lyrical sensibility.
A commercial failure during their time, Rhino Records seeks to give the band their due, with the massive 98 song collection Keep An Eye On The Sky. Over the span of four discs, the boxed set features alternate mixes of classic tracks, demos, pre-Big Star cuts from Alex Chilton and band founder Chris Bell, and a live set, recorded at Lafayette’s Music Room as the band puzzlingly opened for Archie Bell & The Drells.
Disc One is available for your streaming pleasure at NPR’s Exclusive First Listen, and will be available at brick and mortar record stores (Remember those? Phoenix has some great ones!) on September 15th. For now enjoy these teaser jams, a rare demo take of Chilton singing the Chris Bell composition “I Got Kinda Lost” and “All I See is You,” a cut from Chris Bell’s pre-Big Star group Icewater.
Phoenix/Tempe folks, if you’re looking for something awesome to do tonight, I’d recommend doing a little digging as to where exactly Tempe’s The Manor is located. Over the past year or so, the place has established a reputation as one of the best places to catch a wild house show in downtown Tempe, and tonight’s gig, featuring performances from the much hyped Gun Outfit and outstanding locals Chandails and Summer Happened, promises to be another crazy showing.
Lord of The Manor Justin Keefer explains:
“This show starts at 8pm SHARP! Feel free to show up at 10:30 but I can guarantee you will maybe catch one or two songs and that’s it. Cops have been coming around lately, so it needs to be done early. There is only three bands playing, so it wont drag on.”
Feel free to bring some money for the bands and show your support for some real D.I.Y. fun.