one faint deluded smile

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Lewis Taylor - Stoned Part II

Lewis Taylor really is the Todd Rundgren of the new millenium, isn't he?. Both have a great love of Beach Boys style harmonies, can replicate 60's soul (and funk) to a fantastic degree and release at least one ridiculous cracking rock guitar solo per album.

But I just wish Taylor would take some acid or something so that occassionally you'd get a weird result instead of the predictable smooth cool R&B.

At least half of the tracks on this new cd are inferior versions of ones that have been released before. And this time they've had any meaning or emotion stripped out of them.

This isn't going to endear the old fans and will hardly make many new ones. And I'm non-plussed as to what other things he could do to extricate himself from his little hidden valley in the history of music.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Radiohead - Sydney - 23/04/2004

Back up in the bleachers and to the side is not the perfect sound position in the entertainment centre, let me tell you. The Radiohead techos even take it a little bit further by not having any part of the PA speakers pointed towards the side - I can understand that they wouldn't want to have too much echoing around the room but some consideration needs to be given to the 1/8 of the punters who are in these god awful seats.

So the drums sounded weak and inefectual all night and the vocals were there but hardly springing out of the general murk. Only the bass seemed to work well intermittently. On one song there was the standard Radiohead uplifting moment when all three electric guitars combined with the bass and the drums on a downbeat with a massive power chord! I expect that the people down the front were blown away by the sheer visceral pleasure of the sound pumping out at them but I could have been in a room 3 blocks away for all the effect it had on me.

Compounded, ofcourse, by the bands refusal to engage with the audience to any extent. I know they're 'musicians' and the music is all important to them but then they need to play in venues that hold 1000 instead of massive halls like the EntCent.

Despite these many problems it was still good to see them live. At least 3 great sonic moments with the rest of it intruiging if nothing else. Best moment was hearing a goodly portion of the crowd sing along with all of the lyrics to Paranoid Android (the only song where they participated in this way). I've always loved this song but had never realized how defining a track it is for the band: would they be as popular today without it?

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat

This cd runs for around about 75 minutes. By the 30th I was getting a little tired of the psuedo bombast, the 2-3 sections / song arrangements, that same melody line she does on everything they do and, yes, the overt length of each song. It's not as if I'm going to want to interpret the lyrics which fill up the space with some sort of nautical flavour. There very well could be some sort of concept behind it all or it could even be a rock-opera. Neither of these things interest me in the least. But the music has some great chord changes and it's played with such charmed, clunkiness that I'll definitely want to hear it again and again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Funny - Ha

I've been wading through a couple more CDs by The Residents this week and haven't done a lot of laughing. I suppose I should be rolling about and I suppose I did when I first heard them in those far off days: "oh, those wacky chaps with their weirdo voices and slightly off-key piano riffs". But it's just a shame that they mucked up some terrific music with the guffaws. You can hear the best of their influence in (The Makers of) The Dead Travel Fast and some of the other M Squared bands where the humour is kept to a minimum.

The smiles stop dead in their tracks when you listen to any release involving David Thomas after 1979. He really did start racking up the stupid vocals after the fabulous Dub Housing and I find those first solo albums (81 onwards) almost impossible to listen to because of this alone. But Sounds of the Sand is uncomfortable for many reasons - mostly Anton Fiers' percusion: it's so limp that I want to reach into the speakers and make him listen to the Eagles of Death Metal CD.

At least Peace, Love, Death Metal makes me smirk knowingly. How can a band play a combination of boogie, Bolan, Bachman-Turner and Bonham (John) so well in 2004? To me it sounds like their having fun but this does create some awful moments on the CD when they do false endings and studio chatter and wry comments. I think I'll create an edited version leaving out these 'funny' moments as I've done already with Kayne West and most of the other Hip-Hop albums I own.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

it's easy to see that all the songs are written by a keyboard player. lots of tricky fills and riffs and runs to engage the boffin. it's reminiscent of 'western culture' era henry cow and / or later cow related projects like the work but it has an oddly anaesthetic quality about it. not quite passionless - more tidy sounding than anything else. reminiscent of hatfield & the north in that respect alone. one to appreciate every so often but not one to love.

tom recchion - i love my organ

there's been quite a flurry of cd packages arriving on my doorstep this week with the latest (and possibly best) being this fantastic organ / synth driven set of instrumentals by tom recchion - someone i'd never heard of till last month. with song titles and details pointing to other artists (eno, terry riley, etc) you sort of know what to expect but the results are never half as obvious as they could have been. sometimes silly, sometimes monumental, sometimes beautifull - these are pieces that sound even older than they actually are (late 70s) and have some sort of archival quality (like hearing 60s electronic music for the 1st time).

the earlier companion piece to this one is the equally wonderfull "chaotica" which mucks around with esquivel tape loops and manages to make them sound fresh again.

wilco - a ghost is born

this is a weird little record. it combines wilco's patented alt country feel with their newer left field elements. some songs are plain straight but still tinged with slightly weird chord progressions that make them all the more intruiging. then there's "spiders kidsmoke" with it's long sections imitating the metronomic feel of Babaluma Can abrubtly changed into an uplifting rock chord progression and back again. and there's also "less than you think" with it's fairly dull soft plaintive rock morphing into 11 minutes of something like glitch drone. and the neil young / phil manzanera style guitar solos. and "handshake drugs" chugging along (great for walking!) [isn't this a bit from one of their other albums??].

i have no idea who the hell is going to enjoy this all the way through.

Monday, April 12, 2004

2 oh oh 4 oh 1 comp

I created a comp of the new tracks I've enjoyed a lot so far this year (which has been a good one indeed). btw, If anyone can suggest some good software to mix tracks I'd appreciate an email.

Britney Spears-Toxic The strings in overdrive, the twangy guitar so reminiscent of John Barry and best of all that fantastic minor chorded chorus - it'll take some beating as the pop tune of this year.
Spektrum-Kinda New Tastes of Chic, minimalist like crazy, organic electronics and a great set of chords.
TV on the Radio-King Eternal The album track that links back to their great EP the best - vocals are slightly off: a trademark, somehow.
Beta Band-Space More melodic than on the last LP and with a bent towards indie rather than hip-hop this track even has a guitar solo like they did in the 70's.
Laura Viers-Cloud Room Mixes Elliot Smith, Liz Phair and Aimee Mann into a nice singer / songwriter mash. Great chorus even if no other song on the LP sounds like it.
Neulander-If You Could Analogue synths buzzing along with a drum pattern straight outta the 80s. Best electro I've heard so far.
Fiery Furnaces-Blueberry A ridiculous 9 minute epic about sailors and pirates with badly played prog-rock organ sections and that vocal line she does on every song.
Animal Collective-Leaf House A bit less 'experimental' than normal and all the better for it. Great sonics and lovely massed vocals.
Air-Universal Traveller The slinkiest song from their latest LP with fake cowbell and finger picked guitar matched perfectly. "You never so try fer" indeed.
Sufjan Stevens-Sister Starts off like a tribute to Neil Young and Buffalo Spingfield and ends all gorgeously soft.
Devendra Banhart-Insect Eyes Possibly the wierdest writer on the patch at the moment. Great lyrics and heartfelt delivery. The beautiful stripped down - not lo-fi - production only adds to it.
Espers-Flowery Noontide Maybe too 1965 for their own good but, hey, what a chorus!
Cooder-Galban-Drume Negrita Swampy and full of buttery goodness - reminds me of the first time I heard Roy Orbison.
Lambchop-The Producer Rather silly but delightful instrumental that sounds unlike anything else on their 2 CD "c'mon" releases.
Electrelane-On Parade Leaving behind their organ driven instrumentals may not have been such a good idea but this song is just the indie goods.
Deerhoof-Milkman They keep getting better and better. This combo of sub Beefheart and Cars riffing, grungey guitars and tinkily, twee vocals over beautifully chords is as mesmerising as they get.
Franz Ferdinand-Cheating On You Loathe as I am to admit a liking for these obvious sound stealers, they do play it with panache.
Liars-They Don't Want Your Corn They Want Your Kids The only good track from their largely unlistenable last LP (and please don't go on about how it's great they've gone completely experimental when the results are just so much squawk).
Stereolab-Margerine Rock Another lovely tune for the Lab canon.


The BBC's Review of The Loop Orchestra's very fine "Not Overtly Orchestral" CD seems to hit the mark pretty well. In fact, all of the reviews I've read have been deservedly positive and their comments on the band's creative processes and the music itself have also been insightfull.

The supposed anachronism of tape loops bumping up against the age of the digital sample is also mentioned quite a bit. I suppose because I'm old enough and have seen miles of tape strewn around a lounge room being pulled by a heavy duty capstan roller that it doesn't seem like a strange or stupid way to do things. In fact, I find it much harder to be excited by a digital loop. They often seem so redundant - after you've heard it the first time, it's not going to change even one small bit in it's 2 millionth time. So all you're left with is the mesmeric qualities of the repitition itself (on the 1st Liars LP they end with 20 minutes of a terrific sample from the song which preceeded it - I've only listened to it the whole way through one time, just so I could hear how it ended). Tape loops are a bit more organic simply because of the media and hardware being used. Oxide falls off, loops jam slightly somewhere in the room, fingers caress the capstan or the tape to add flutters. These all combine to make it seem less mechanistic and add sonic interest.

And don't even start me on tape hiss.

I wonder what techniques F&E (previous post) are using these days?


Apparently Fripp and Eno are collaborating again. I'd love to think that this will create another "(no) pussyfooting" and the description of the piece they're experimenting in sounds intruiging if nothing else. We can only hope that the times and personalities have changed a lot since their last released material (on their 'best of') where the funk-o-meter came into play and the results were disjointed and almost amateurish. Another set of pieces like 'Index of Metals' would be very welcome indeed.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Hotel Morgan

Jon mentioned the new To Rococo Rot album and so it's appeared on my cd player too. I'd almost forgotten they existed. A few years ago their pristine electronics were played quite a bit in my lounge room alongside of their slightly noiser compatriots Kreidler and Tarwater. And then it all seemed a bit too precious and meticullous. Hotel Morgan hasn't changed the formula one iota but it's still a remarkably fresh sound even if I know that it will pale in a month's time.