By Josh Terzino
In my efforts to keep this blog updated daily, I’ve missed a lot of things that I probably should have caught a long time ago. To those of you still waiting on your music to be reviewed, I assure you, it will happen. To anyone who hasn’t sent in their music for fear that it will just get backlogged behind major releases by bands like R.E.M.; first of all, they ARE R.E.M. after all, of course they rank higher than you. Secondly, I will get to you as soon as I can, just be patient. Don’t send me reminder emails every two days. Sometimes they are funny, but usually they just remind me of how far behind I am, then I stew in a funk and don’t listen to anything because I feel bad for the bands I’m NOT listening to.
Anyway, in an effort to catch up on a bunch of stuff that I missed in 2010, my friend Jeff put together a little portable hard drive full of music I hadn’t heard. I will go through some of that lengthy list with you here now. I am leaving off a few things that I truly did not care for.
First off, Rangda’s album False Flag. Mind-blowingly good free-form experimental rock n’ roll. I never got into bands like Explosions In the Sky because a lot of times I get bored with instrumental music. This is not the case with Rangda. The group is made up from some pretty legendary cats-Richard Bishop from Sun City Girls, Ben Chasny from Six Organs of Admittance, and drummer Chris Corsano. This record seriously kept me intrigued the entire length, and then again and again. Great stuff.
Gonjasufi-A Sufi and a Killer: This album caught me offguard. It starts off with some kind of tribal drumming, transforms into a strange hip-hop funk instrumental, then turns itself into the newest incarnation of the blues. And that’s just the first three tracks. This guy has been making music on the west coast since the 90’s, but I never heard of him until now. This album is crazy, but in a good way.
Golden Retriever-S/T: The Portland-based duo of Matt Carlson and Jonathan Sielaff don’t make it easy to love their music. It’s slow and it meanders quite a bit. One thing that I thought of while listening to it, though, is that it would have been a great soundtrack to a 70’s film like Chinatown or The Conversation. It has a very classic feel without ape-ing anything from another era. It is wholly original, and I ended up liking it much more than I thought I would.
Bare Wires-Seeking Love: This album is a lot of fun. Last month I reviewed Smith Westerns album Dye It Blonde, and that has a lot of sunny 60’s pop references. This album is very similar, just switch out the 60’s pop for 70’s AM radio. The attitude seethes out of the speakers. Quick listen, too.
The Art Museums-Rough Frame EP: This record came out just about a year ago. It quickly joined the ranks of great albums that are new, but made to sound old. The harmonies are surprisingly solid for a duo trying to be not-so-great. It’s like She and Him if Zooey Deschanel was a dude, and they refused to use instruments made after 1965.
Jack Rose-Luck In The Valley-Released two months after his death in December 2009, this album presents Jack Rose at the top of his game. Playing a mixture of Country/Western and ragtime, Luck In The Valley is a beautiful ode to Appalachia. Jack was a super talented guitarist who understood the history of guitar music and didn’t dare repeat it. This record stands as a testament to both Jack’s ability as a guitarist and the idea that music of this nature can thrive in a music industry that continues its decline into sub-mediocrity being led by talentless hacks that don’t know how to play any instrument but a publicist.
Moon Duo-Escape: I knew nothing about Moon Duo when I pushed play, but knowing the other albums I’d heard from the list above, I did have certain expectations. This took me by surprise a little, though. Not just because I liked it, but because it was SO well done that I listened to it a few times in a row just for the hell of it. Escape does have kind of a creepy vibe, which apparently is it’s own genre of music. Which leads me to the final album I’ll list today…
Umberto-From the Grave: When Jeff described this to me one day, sitting on the 3rd floor of the Chase building downtown, it sounded unbelievably weird. Fashioning itself as a kind of lost soundtrack to the Italian horror film Pieces, Matt Hill has created an amazing album that could certainly play juxtaposed with any horror film. I’m surprised he hasn’t been hired by Dario Argento to score his next film. You can totally sense everything that would be going on in this fake movie, from the fog-laden sidewalks to the shriek-inducing fakeout scares…it is, quite literally, a brilliant record.
That’s it for now. A lot of ramblin’ going on here. Tomorrow I’ll try harder to get something a bit more in-depth than these surface reviews. Happy listening to anyone who clicks on the album names and checks them out. Good stuff all around.