Friday, April 30, 2004

The best news of the week!!!

The worst news of the week.

posted by Jonathan

Monday, April 26, 2004

Kraftwerk fans (or people always wanting to get into Kraftwerk) will be happy to hear that an 8-CD box set will be released this year (with remastered versions of their albums, from Autobahn to Tour de France). It's aptly titled The Catalogue. Thanks to JP Almeida for starting a discussion on the box set here. Check out the band's official site (click on the main page and then Info) for proof of this release. No idea when it's coming out (it's not mentioned at online shops yet), but I assume it will be out by the summer.
Unfortunately, it's coming out on EMI and it will be copy protected. Way to fuck it up, EMI.

posted by Jonathan

Breaking up is easy. And a popular thing to do.

posted by Jonathan

Sunday, April 25, 2004

With my girlfriend out of town this weekend, I listened to a fair bit of music. Here are some highlights:

- the surf guitar chorus of Girls Aloud’s "Sound of the Underground"
- The Last Emperor - "Karma", which uses a sample from Morcheeba’s greatest achievement, "Over and Over." This is from the album Palace Of The Pretender, a sick hip hop album from Jamal Gray, who suffered label problems in the late 90s which prevented him from putting out an album until recently. This appears to be the UK release, as claims that his only release is Music, Magic, Myth, which has most of the songs also on Palace . ..

- James Brown and the crowd exchanging attempting to outdo each other as they scream "Ow" on the monumental "Lost Someone" from the reissue of James Brown Live At The Apollo (1962) Expanded Edition. The liner notes suggest it's the greatest live album ever. After only a couple of listens, it's hard to disagree.
- "Hello? Is This Thing On?" by !!! (from the forthcoming Louden Up Now) which is highlighted by singer Nic Offer losing his mind at the end, coming off as an unexpected outburst in the studio. Unbelievably good.
- Skylab’s #1 – found it used for $2, and it’s a great ambient recording from 1994 by Howie B., Mat Ducasse, and Love TKO. High on ideas without getting too busy with electronics. Highly recommended.
- Wiley – Treddin’ On Thin Ice – 2-Step? Gayrridge? Uhbin? Never really cleared up on "Wot U Call It", the killer first single, but that’s no worries. The whole album is AMAZING. And happy to see that "Reason," his collab. with Dizzee Rascal that’s been floating around the net for a year, made it onto the album. (by the way, I’m told that this album will most likely come out in North America, so unless you’re desperate to hear it, you may not have to order an import copy).
- Gunther and the Sunshine Girls – "Ding Dong Song" – the club anthem of the decade? Or funny kitschy song that will be forgotten tomorrow? I'm thinking the latter, because the Aqua-esque song becomes grating after about a minute, but it’s hard not to love the opening line: "Oh, you touch my ta la la" with a vocalist sounding like . . . well, exactly as you would expect from a guy named Gunther. Find the lyrics here.
- Candi Staton Candi Staton - Download, buy, steal, whatever. You need to hear this album!! Unbelievably good 26 track compilation of Staton’s Muscle Shoal sides (from approx. 69-74) before she went disco. Staton displays the vocal power and control that’s comparable to Aretha Franklin’s best work.
- Squarepusher’s Ultravisitor – finally gave this a closer listen this weekend, and though some of the more difficult tracks will take some time, the more lush, jazzy songs are gorgeous. Definitely an album I expect to love more with each listen.

- Eluvium's "The Well-Meaning Professor" - from the gorgeous piano-only album Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death, this song opens with a simple, pretty melody that slowly builds into a race between Matthew Cooper's hands. An amazing finish. Everyone's a winner (except maybe Cooper's fingers, which are likely exhausted).
- Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind soundtrack - especially Beck singing "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometimes" and the 26 second closing instrumental, "Elephant Parade" (which is reminiscent of music from Beck's Sea Change).

So in other words, a really great weekend for music (though I finally listened to the new NERD album, which is really bland).

posted by Jonathan

Kudos to Pitchforkmedia for their Found Sound feature, which names Jack's 1996 album, Pioneer Soundtracks, as one of the great finds of the year. The album is filled with jangly guitar and sweeping strings, guided by singer/lyricist Anthony Reynolds' strong vocals. Reynolds takes us into a seedy, inebriated world of desperate lives where keeping a lover seems impossible though it's necessary for survival. Joe Tangiri gives a great mini-review of the band in the feature, though he fails to mention that Jack are heavily inspired by Scott Walker. As mentioned on's Pioneer Soundtrack's review, the band seem to capture both the orch-pop and experimental aspects of Walker's career.
Aside from the tracks mentioned in Tangari's mini review, I highly recommend "Biography of a First Son" and "Filthy Names," the latter taking us through a night of intoxication with Reynolds and his "gorgeous slut" lover, together described as "pissed up whores." Musically, this track gives some future direction of the band, as a similar musical idea (string-led melody that blasts into a powerful guitar-driven closing) is found on "Nico's Children," an epic on the band's second album The Jazz Age.
Speaking of The Jazz Age, I think the album deserves more than the mediocre score given to it by This was a gorgeous follow up that saw Reynolds' lighten up a bit on his lyrics (he appears more settled in his love life), and the album contains some of Jack's best work ("Lolita Elle," "3 O'Clock in the Morning" and "Cinematic"). I also recommend the Jack/Momus collaboration Jacques, whose first release How To Make Love Vol. 1 combines the lo-fi recording styles of Momus with Reynolds' sexually deviant characters.
Reynolds has a new solo album out this year on Secret Crush Records. The label's website has a few songs available for download. Unfortunately, Reynolds sounds a little lost without the Jack's bigger sound (bear in mind that Pioneer Soundtracks boasts thirteen musicians over the course of the nine tracks). In fact, Reynolds and co. may have run out of steam a few years ago, but from 1995-1998 this collective (be they Jack or Jacques) mastered their abilities both musically and lyrically. It's a shame that so few knew who they were, and a crime that they've fallen into obscurity. Hopefully more people, like Tangari, will "discover" this band.

posted by Jonathan

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Dusty Groove America's Upcoming Releases page has the following listing:

Howard Tate -- Get It While You Can -- The Jerry Ragovoy Sessions 1966 -- 74 . . . CD . . . Around May 31, 2004

I am SOOOOO excited. Unfortunately, the site doesn't give any other information about the release, like whether it is a reissue of the 1995 reissue, Get It While You Can: The Legendary Sessions on Verve. Regardless, it'll be nice to get a copy of this album on CD, as the Verve reissue has been out of print for awhile, and currently fetches around $60-80 on Ebay. If anyone has any other information about this upcoming release, PLEASE email me.

posted by Jonathan

I cast a spell on the city . . .

Max Richter's The Blue Notebooks is brilliant. Before attempting a solo effort in 2002 with Memoryhouse, Richter co-founded the Piano Circus, a six-pianist ensemble formed to perform Steve Reich's Six Pianos composition. The Piano Circus continued to perform other Reich works, along with works by Philip Glass and Arvo Pärt. The mid-late 90s saw Richter working with the Future Sound of London and Roni Size. All of this previous work has helped inspire this haunting, beautiful orchestral album. The more classical influences are quite evident throughout the album, while there are more subtle signs of the electronic influence, in the form of lowly mixed yet thundering beats on "Shadow Journal," dabbling beats on "Arboretum" or different samples Richter recorded around London. Actress Tilda Swinton appears on a number of tracks reading excerpts of literary texts lifted from Frank Kafka’s The Blue Octavo Notebooks and Czseslaw Milosz’s Hymn Of The Pearl and Unattainable Earth. With a typewriter clicking in the background, these excerpts act as diary entries that open a few of the longer pieces on The Blue Notebooks. The album moves from classical pieces to more ambient-type works, often having a soundtrack feel (especially the final track, "Written On The Sky," which wouldn't be out of place on Michael Nyman's soundtrack to The Piano). Released on the Fat Cat imprint 130701, this is a gorgeous album that you MUST hear.

posted by Jonathan

Saturday, April 17, 2004

me = geek
My CD collection has been in alphabetical order for years. It always seemed like the smartest way to set it up, and there seems to be agreement with this setup on ILM (for further proof, go here, here, here, and here). But over the past couple of years, I've been buying up albums under different styles of music, and it no longer makes sense to have everything mashed up together. So I've decided to split my collection up by genre. Of course, this can lead to very VERY lame questions about where certain albums should fall, but that really only concerns me, and I'm not about to share that level of geekiness.
My real reason for wanting to move things around is that I find that when I'm in the mood for jazz, for example, I'll just check out my more recent jazz purchases instead of looking through to see what all I actually own. So I decided to put jazz and blues into it's own section. Then I did the same for soul/reggae (since I don't own that much reggae, but expect to get more in the near future, I figured it would sit well in this new spot). Now I'm planning on doing a very general electronic section and a hip hop section. I'll leave everything else as the rest, I guess.
All of this means that my girlfriend may never find anything again because she won't know where it sits on the shelves, but for me, finding CDs will be WAY easier. One warning: it's a hell of a project to take on, and can take quite awhile to rearrange everything.

posted by Jonathan

108 days of 2004 down . . .

It's been a great year for new music so far, but I keep listening to the oldies, so my current faves likely aren't that up to date with what's coming out. I still have loads of stuff that I want to listen to, but right now, it just makes more sense (to me, at least) to listen to stuff I've bought vs. MP3s. However, Arthur Russell, DJ Signify, Wiley, Superpitcher and Nellie Mckay are at the top of my list of downloaded albums to listen to, so you may see some of them pop up on future lists.

Favourite albums (alphabetical order)
Air - Talkie Walkie
Amp Fiddler - Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly
Animal Collective - Sung Tongs
Blockhead - Music By Cavelight
Lali Puna - Faking The Books
Lambchop - Aw C'mon
Madvillain - Madvillainy
Erlend Øye - DJ Kicks
Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free
Telefon Tel Aviv - Map of What Is Effortless
Kanye West - College Dropout

I'd list favourite songs, but I'll likely make CD mixes of my favourites throughout the year, and that's a great way of showing what songs I'm really digging at the time.

posted by Jonathan

Thursday, April 15, 2004

First mix of 2004!!!
Thanks to the mighty Mixmeister Pro 5, my latest mix CD is definitely my favourite, simply because I love being able to fade songs into one another. My next project will be attempting to actually create some sort of mash-up bootleg. It'll be more of a long-term project, I'm sure.

Anyway, the most recent mix is as follows:

1. The Hold Steady - Positive Jam
2. Mochipet - Johnny Cash vs. Cash Money Millionaires
3. Junior Boys - Birthday
4. JC Chasez - All Day Long I Dream About Sex
5. Boogie Pimps - Somebody To Love
6. Kanye West - Two Words (feat. Mos Def, Freeway and Harlem Boys Choir)
7. Timbaland and Magoo - Cop That Shit (feat. Missy Elliott)
8. Wiley - Wot Do U Call It?
9. Blockhead - Insomniac
10. Air - Cherry Blossom Girl
11. Sleepy Brown - I Can't Wait (feat. Outkast)
12. Alicia Keys - You Don't Know My Name (reggae mix)
13. Telefon Tel Aviv - I Lied
14. Britney Spears - Toxic
15. Kylie Minogue - Red Blooded Woman
16. Memphis Bleek - Just Blaze Bleek and Free (feat. Freeway)
17. Beyonce - Me Myself and I (Panjabi MC mix)
18. Twista - Slow Jamz (feat. Kanye West & Jamie Foxx)
19. J Five - Modern Times (feat. Charlie Chaplin)
20. Muse - Apocalypse Please

Highlights for me is the romping Modern Times, which uses Chaplin's singing to create the melody, and J-Five's witty lyrics about being strong yet silent, like Chaplin, the "mack-daddy" of the 1930s. Pure classic. The Hold Steady, a band that emerged after Lifter Puller dissolved in 2000. Craig Finn gives us a painful reflection on the past century, and then blasts into his "positive jam," a guitar solo that could kill you in your sleep, giving the sense that in a live setting, Finn could fall flat on the floor wailing on his axe without a care about the audience at all. Imagine the bar band with sweat dripping from their forehead, earning nothing more than beer and cigarette money every night, but continuing to take the stage for the love of all things that rock. The Hold Steady what those bands aspire to become.
Mociphet is Violent Turd's newest signing, and have put out a killer mash-up album called Combat, which marries the old with the new. This combination of Cash and Cash Money is flawless, almost seeming like the two tracks were meant to be together.
I'll only talk about one more track, just because I must say, at the very least, that Slow Jamz is absolutely brilliant. Blows me away every time I hear it.

posted by Jonathan

Press Release forwarded onto me by my friend Bob:

Major Blues on Tour concerts set
for Toronto and London cancelled
along with all tour dates in the U.S.

Blues On Tour, a concert featuring more than a dozen of the best blues artists performing today, and set for the Hummingbird Centre in Toronto on April 29 and the RBC Theatre at John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario on April 28 , was cancelled today (April 14).
Unfortunately ticket sales were very soft in all of the markets on the tour, and it was decided earlier today to cancel the entire tour. The tour was to have featured Ruth Brown, Ike Turner, Chris Thomas King, Bobby Rush, Howard Tate and the Muddy Waters Blues band with Duke Robillard, among many others.
Rob Bennett, v.p. of House of Blues Concerts, presenter of the two Canadian dates, said he regretted that a wonderfully conceived showcase of the blues as an historic musical art form just never found its audience.
Refunds may be obtained at the original point of purchase.

I find this really sad, especially considering how amazing Tate's live show would be (further proof can be found here). What annoys me more than anything is not that the show was cancelled, but that Tate attached himself to a tour dubbed as Blues On Tour. It just seems like a bad idea on his part, especially since he is one of the great soul singers of the 60s and 70s, but lack of sales and record label woes prevented him from becoming more popular.
Tate being on this tour reminded me of the fact that a local record store put Solomon Burke's album Don't Give Up On Me in the blues section, which also annoyed me. These artists have more of a deep soul or southern soul sound, but somehow fall under the blues tag? That's just laziness.
Tate's album Rediscovered has finally come out in the UK with bonus tracks ("Are You Lonely For Me Baby" and "I’m The Man" for those who are interested), and I'm hopeful that the British press will give Tate all of the attention he deserves. If his publicists or management put him up to this blues tour, it's high time he consider replacing them. Soul music from the classic artists may not be a huge draw, but considering the success (on critics' lists, at least) that Al Green's I Can't Stop received last year (along with more reissues due out this year), I'm sure that Green, Burke and Tate could fill a large number of venues all over the US and in Canada without ever having to use the word blues.

posted by Jonathan

So I haven't updated this puppy in awhile. Unfortunately I don't have much time right now, but plan on doing a full on review of what is definitely my favourite album of the year so far:

And yes, I LOVE the cover. If you care to read other people's thoughts on the album, I recommend this ILM page.

posted by Jonathan