Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Time - What Time is It? (1982)

This is basically a Prince album except Morris Day sings instead of the Purple One. You guys remember The Time from Purple Rain, especially The Bird. Well, What Time is It? features The Walk, which, although it doesn't have the memorable and brilliant squawk, does have a really nice minor chord progression and a skit about a woman with an ass so big that it is difficult to take her jeans off. What do you think about this skit, Steve? Ignore what Morris Day has to say at around ~3:30 and realize that this is the anatomy of a Prince groove. He just brings everything in and out, and you can pay attention to which parts are most important and which parts are just flair.

This really shows how to maximize an idea. Most of these songs are just based on one groove with lots of vocal tracks extra instrumentation for the chorus. Also, there are extended jam outs that are kept interesting by the liberal use of weird doubles on the hi-hat and really silly synth tones.

And there is another skit about a pre-internet SIF, reminding us that the world wide web is merely an enabler in these sorts of things.

Monday, November 24, 2008

UGK - The Southern Way (1988)

My great internet friend Mario, who has turned livejournal into a beautiful thing, clued me into this life-altering interview with Bun B of UGK. Now, it is my duty to spread it to you guys who like my blog.

I'm posting UGK's The Southern Way tape, which is discussed in detail in the interview. The music is the exact type of gritty Southern rap you would expect from a UGK casette released in the late 80s. Tell me Something Good is pretty much the archetype for this style of hip-hop. Please only listen to it with poor posture. If your posture is actually really good, then drink cough syrup until your posture is bad.

What I really want to talk about though is the way the internet has affected music consumption. Pimp C and Bun B had very limited access to hip-hop, as they grew up an hour and a half outside of Houston in Port Arthur. However, on the weekends dudes would drive to Houston to go to rap shows. They would bring a boombox in the car and tape Houston hip-hop radio and listen to it all week. See, that's that same impulse that makes me think that it's a good idea to scour Soulseek for weird-ass black metal demos, but the two worlds are so far apart in just about every other way. Shit, I used to listen to 106 JAMS for hours hoping to tape Busta Rhymes and Wu-Tang songs back in junior high, but now my brain is so oversaturated with gigabytes and gigabytes of goofy shit. All these torrent sites and p2p networks take some of the fun out of it, but the music is worth it.

Really, you will love this interview:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Etoile de Dakar - Volume 1: Absa Gueye

These are some raw recordings from 1979. Listen to that call & response, listen to that vocal tone. Fucking beautiful singing. Known mistake-maker Youssou N'Dour is at his absolute best here, his future mistakes nothing but an errant prion or two at this point. This is vocal control and expressiveness. Fuck that bullshit American Idol over-singing.

Songs are composed based upon the aforementioned call & response over layered rhythms. Chord progressions are largely static, but wind instrumentation provides dynamics. Here is a fun game to play: Listen to just about any song on this, and try to figure out exactly what the hand drum is doing. This is really hard to do, and it will help your brain fucking swell.

A love for music shines through on these recordings, making them instantly relatable.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jacks - Vacant World (1968)

Jacks go ahead and just lay waste to their own songs on this record. If you listen to the first few seconds of any of these tracks, you might be fooled into thinking that this is a normal, laid-back bluesy psych record or that you are listening to something softly melodic. However, Jacks take the approach of putting together ostensibly normal songs, then damaging them as much as possible through frantic yelling, bizarre instrumentation, and, of course, fuzzed out brain-coating walls of noise. The tempo and somber vocals of the song Vacant World make what could have been an otherwise peaceful, ethereal journey through guys doing drugs into an ominous, foreboding experience that places the weight of the cosmos squarely on your chest. If you like Les Rallizes Denudes, you know what to do:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Coroner - No More Color (1989)

Mistress of Deception and Tunnel of Pain are just so fun to play on guitar right now that I have to post this Coroner album. M of D has one of my go-to riffs when I am trying to impress dads with my guitar abilities. Also, when I was partying the other day, dudes liked my Coroner shirt. One love, dogs!

No More Color is Coroner's most focused album, and, when dealing with technical metal, focus is extremely important. Odd time signatures and mixed meter are used in as emphasis in a larger song structure:

1. The little hesitation before the last chorus on Die By My Hand.

2. Why it Hurts starting at ~1:09 is a perfect example of how to have a context for a weird time signature. That first frowny part leads into the dissonance brainpower part so so nicely.

The rhythmic pummelling of thrash relies on a keen ear to switch between stomping on the beat and syncopating, either within the same riff or by pairing riffs together. Also big shout-out to drummer "Marquis Marky" for knowing when to give riffs space and when to add in flair. This is one of the most important things that everyone who is stupid should learn.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Gordons - The Gordons (1981)

This right here is a really great iteration of post-punk from the great country of New Zealand and the really great record label Flying Nun. Angular, but not spastic, and really heavy. Super noisy in a really thick, aggressive way, not just washed out all gaze-style. Song structures are drawn out so that each motif can be properly damaged through improvised noise and dissonance.

Unlike pre-60's jazz in which dissonance is used in passing to lead into other chords, these riffs are diatonic and then dive into tritones and weird extended chords created by the ringing out of open strings. Groups like Husker Du used the open strings of the guitar to create nice little 9th and 13th chords, but here they are used in a much more mind-fucking, abrasive manner.

The triumph of this record is Coalminer's Song. You kind of feel that opening riff in your teeth. Just giving your teeth that good ol' in-out. Fuck I'm so pumped and I'm not even listening to it.

For fans of Sonic Youth, Joy Division, and jumping into an abandoned mine on Mars.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guerilla Maab - Rise (1999)

Is this the best intentional misspelling in a group name ever, or what? I want to know what neurons nu-metals, hardcore rappers & Prince share that turns their keyboards into some sort of dyslexic teenage girl text message paradise

These songs are brutally honest and emotionally raw. Time to take a stand: Emotion in music has come to mean an angst-ridden whinefest about not having social skills, but this is about the struggle of maintaining a life-affirming attitude in face of an oppressive society, and between doing what is necessary to survive and doing what one believes is right. The anger and melancholy that permeate Z-Ro's solo album Look What You Did to Me are here, as is the expected bravado. It seems almost trite to talk about the contradictions inherent in this type of recording, but I must point out that these contradictions exist because the songs are about life, not about ideology or not knowing how to talk to girls.

Also included is dudes being high quoting TMNT and The Simpsons, then making prank phone calls as Pinky in search of The Brain.

EDIT: Hey look, the ANUS blog made basically the same post, except they are talking about AC/DC. Cool:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Pointed Sticks - Part of the Noise

Here is a nice collection of stripped-down pop songs with guitars. Now, you might be thinking "Huh, I have listened to a lot of boring, insincere white people playing this type of music." I am sorry that had to happen to you, but that is not what The Pointed Sticks are about. They are about using the same chord progression for both the verse and the chorus of their songs. Any time you can effectively do that, you are winning.

I listened to What Do You Want me to Do? like 100 times in a row yesterday. I accidentally put the song on loop while I was doing my important things, and I was like, "Man dog, I've been listening to really good music this whole time!" There is a really great internal dialogue between the two phrases that make up the verse on this song. Also, listen to Man of the Crowd to try to understand what I'm talking about.

Stuff like this makes me think of how fun it was to be a teenager and like scanning the classroom for THO. Then I remember teen angst, late onset puberty, and existential crises, and I feel good about my current life.

If you like Screeching Weasel and/or The Replacements, get this. This is what it sounds like to like music:


Note: I couldn't find a linkable copy of the actual album artwork, so you get this weird cover to The Pointed Sticks' LP Perfect Youth, which is contained within the walls of Part of the Noise.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sun Ra - The Night of the Purple Moon (1970)

Who is the coolest guy? Sun Ra.

Sun Ra's recordings exist in an entirely different context than most music. For example, if I were to put you in a sensory deprivation tank and play random songs for you, you might be able to guess pretty accurately that some stupid art school band went to art school, or whether or not a hip-hop artist is deemed acceptable/unacceptable by people with a college education. However, a Sun Ra record would be a more difficult ostrich to wrangle, especially The Night of the Purple Moon.

This thing doesn't even fit in with Sun Ra's other work. This is not the overblown interstellar blast-off of Space is the Place or the exuberant, progressive big band sound of The Nubians of Plutonia. This is Ra jamming out on a Moog, evoking scenes of moon monsters vigorously performing important space rituals (Dance of the Living Image) and then, when their work is done, heading down to the Sea of Tranquility to chat and relax (Love in Outer Space). This is mood music in a way that no one ever means when they say "mood music."

These sounds capture my imagination in a way that few other recordings can, so sit back with a nice tall glass of asteroids and begin your moonship journey.

EDIT: Anonymous comments have been enabled. Some of you have told me that you're still rocking the tin foil hats and don't have a google account, so come on guys, sell me some penis pills.