All the most recent things I've acquired...
Acid Mothers Temple - Hypnotic Liquid... / Mantra Of Love
: Slightly less frenetic than their guitar freakouts with a more 'mature' droning thing happening. Very pleasant.
Amps for Christ - People At Large / Various - Golden Apples of the Sun
: One of those things that sound good in articles but whose recorded output leaves something to be desired. Avant-Folk can be great - just look at Devendra Banhart, whom I love and who compiled the later release - but, after a while, I just get so depressed that those old time pluckings and tunings and wailings are being played yet again. And no amount of weird synth stuff in the background can change the fact that most of this stuff is backwards looking.
Blegvad / Greaves - Unearthed
: An earlier companion piece to this year's Orpheus. A similar idea - music / atmospheres undepinning Blegvad's sonorous voice intoning incomprehensible text - that works just as fleetingly.
Controller.Controller - History
: Hey, they look the part, I suppose. All five o'clock shadows and / or angular haircuts. The music reminds me intensely of corporate 'new wave' from the early 80s where the great things about post-punk were bastardised until you hated it. Always a couple of good tunes, though, which means I can get all bitter and twisted when singing along.
Graham Coxon - Happiness in Magazines
: The first time I've heard one of his solo efforts and I react to it just like I do to Blur, really: an immediate smiley hit of adrenaline ("wow, great, etc") followed by a long slow descent to wondering how I ever liked it at all. Incomprehensible.
Deerhoof - Peel Sessions
: Ummm, they play real well and sound just like the records. Good, I suppose.
Dengue Fever - LP, EP, Live
: After a positive overview in The Wire I thought I'd give them a try. So what the hell is this boringly played pop-rock 'world music' shit, any way? How can The Wire justify giving a page to this dull, dull band whose only claim to fame is that they're from an exotic location? Worse than the worst of French rock.
Ellen Fullman / Konrad Sprenger - Ort
: In contrast, here's a Wire recommended record that is very lovely indeed. It lands in the same ballpark as the Avant-Folk crew above but which adds a frission of New York underground art-house intellectuallism. The 1st track is, basically, "Waiting For The Man" but with a mid-west accent. But the best is "Empty Building" with Fullman's long stringed instrument showing it's full sonic range with beautifull chords and drones beneath a slightly stated melody.
Gang Gang Dance - s/t / Revival of the Shittest
: More half arsed improv by people who can't improvise very well (see Nautical Almanac).
David Grubbs - A Guess At The Riddle
: I'd enjoyed Gastr Del Sol but didn't really understand how much Grubbs added to their output until I heard this one. Sometimes I hate the post-rock / indie guitar and drum playing but it all becomes worthwile when he plays the piano. The chord progessions are reminiscent of John Greaves at his best and the slightly frail delivery suits them even more.
Junior Boys - Last Exit
: More mutant disco in a modern stylee. A not particularly interesting cul-de-sac?
Ben Kweller - Sha Sha / On My Way
: I first heard Kweller on "The Ben's" EP where it was obvious that he had similarities to co-tourer Ben Folds. But these 2 latest solo releases are rockier and more NY punk than I'd imagined. He also reminded me of someone else but I couldn't for the life of me remember who it was. The Voidoids? Television? It took a while but then it came to me... Peter Perret / The Only Ones. They had the pop hooks and the rock stance and his voice wavers just as slightly. All these comparisons are not to say that he's completely derivative but just that the style he uses is a well worn path.
Mouse On Mars - Radical Connector
: Some songs are the best electronic music I've ever heard (or so I think for a minute or 2) and others are just the most boring techno weirded up... but not enough. I suppose it all comes down to their dance music / rave past. I can barely stand this element of their stuff and there's little I can do to change that attitude.
Andy Partridge - Wuzzy Warbles 3/4
: Those tasty dregs just keep on coming. He certainly was a prolific old mongrel, wasn't he? Apparently 5 & 6 are on their way this year. It could end up like Dylan's never ending tour.
Pentangle - The Pentangle / Cruel Sister / Lost Broadcasts
: I think this will do me quite enough with the Pentangle sound. As before, the jazzed up bits are spectacular but the rigid old folk style bores me to tears.
Ramones - All The Stuff Volume 2
: Ah, The Ramones. You do have to love them. And that 1st album was just the right thing at the right time. This slightly later material isn't quite the same but at least they stuck to their guns.
Slowblow - Slowblow
: Is this EMO? A listen or 2 is quite enough to remind me not to get any more.
Cat Stevens - Mona Bone Jakon / Tea For The Tillerman / Teaser and the Firecat / Catch Bull At Four
: His 4 great mid-period albums and very much more cohesive than the best of cd I've had for ages. I'm not sure why I asked to have a lend of these in the first place but I feel a strange affinity to them. Now, his lyrics were mostly trite and he obviously thought a lot about his place in the canon of singer / songwriters but neither of these things should be held against him too much. For me the apex is "Peace Train" - one of the greatest pieces of 70's pop I've ever heard. A memorable tune, multi backed vocals, off beat handclaps, subtle strings and massed acoustic guitars. Ie - a great song arranged to perfection. Take that Scritti Politti.