Monday, August 24, 2015

July 10th's Picks

v/a "Native North America Volume 1: Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 (Light In The Attic) - This triple LP release is hands down the best and most important thing Light In the Attic has ever done. It should be talked about on the nightly news, hailed on the covers of newspapers across the continent, discussed in every school, championed on every blog and wondered about at every dining table across the United States and Canada. I'm astonished and forever indebted to LITA for this majestic, mind-expanding release. I can't say enough, I can't stop listening to it. It's a thing of beauty.
No expense has been spared, every LP is housed in thick, tip-on, textured jackets and housed in a hard slipcase with a full-color, 59 page bound book complete with lyrics, biographies, and discographies of unheralded native artists who nearly slipped through the cracks of time. It's a shame this is the first time I've heard of these artists, that their music hasn't been part of my vocabulary along with The Flying Burrito Brothers and Dylan and Cohen and Neil Young all along. The music encompasses the darkest dirge folk to the ultimate outsider country to psychedelic rock and folk rock. Let us bow and give praise to LITA for this thoughtful investigation and challenging exhumation
of essential indigenous music from North America. Let us shower them with the necessary funds to continue this important work too! Spine says Volume 1, let's make Volume 2 happen soon. Absolutely essential, everyone needs this now. We have one copy for sale but we will stock as many as necessary if you demand it (and you should). -Simon
Check out LITA's commercial for the project.

Alex Chilton "Live At The Ocean Club '77" (Norton Records) - While wasting the Senior Master Sergeant's money at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1989, I saw my other hero, Alex Chilton, play the Ivory Tusk, the only shit bar that would have him. The Ivory Tusk smelled like a century of ruined livers and mangled covers of Free Bird-- a perfect little rock and roll bar, the size of a large closet. In my memories, I loved that awful little petri dish and I am transported there instantly whenever I step into a bar that hasn't washed the floor in awhile (which is most of them, considering my own career trajectory). The Ivory Tusk just threw sawdust down and gummed up your sneakers. I don't think they every saw a mop they liked, except an electrified one Eugene Chadbourne brought with him once when he couldn't find his rake. I was lucky to see a handful of memorable shows at the Tusk in my short time pretending to write poems and otherwise acting like a character from a Bob Rafaelson film or a BarryHannah short story. The Chilton show was one of them.
Chilton was surly and self-destructive, playing music from his late 80's sub par repertoire, records I had dutifully purchased in the hopes of hearing something close to Like Flies on Sherbert or Bach's Bottom or any of the Big Star records. Instead, he was doing songs like "Jailbait," "Volare," "No Sex," "Baby Baby Baby," that kind of thing. But, it was still Alex Chilton with a rock trio in a tiny bar. The clerk who looked like Poison Ivy at The Vinyl Solution record store said he'd tried to score heroin there earlier that day, pretending to be interested in purchasing a used Camper Van Beethoven record before asking where a Memphis kid could get a certain need met. On stage he snarled if you applauded and he hissed when the applause wasn't generous enough. He was totally disdainful of his audience and it didn't seem like he wanted to be there at all or be forced to look at any of us any longer than absolutely necessary. I was a little crestfallen, he seemed as bitter as the mythology implied. I guess he had every right, in retrospect. Yes, Chilton was punching the clock that night in 1989, but even at his apparent worst, playing his least inspired material, he was still an absolute fucking Quasar. You couldn't take your eyes off the man.
After the show I approached him and told him how much I enjoyed the show and that Big Star was my favorite band, "next to the Velvet Underground." Stupid things to say but shaky sincerity was all I had going for me. He wasn't very kind about it. "Yeah, you and every other boy who picked up a guitar." He was all dripping southern charm to my girlfriend though, saying "Yes, Maam" with a sinister grin when she asked him if he'd sign her copy of #1 Record.
But let's talk about this here double LP. It was thirteen years prior to me learning my hard lesson about never meeting your heroes, back when  Chilton still played his best songs and was still writing great new ones, like "My Rival." So, it's a no-brainer, isn't it? It's a double album of the late great Alex Chilton, in his prime, live in 1977. What else do you need to know? Oh, did I graduate? No, I did not. I went on tour! -Simon
Go ahead, close your eyes and pretend you were there.

Wicked Witch "Chaos 1978-1986" (EM Records) - appropriately titled collection of self-released 7" and 12" tracks by Richard Simms, aka Wicked Witch. Don't be fooled by the 6-tracks, you get your full slab with this Witch's brew. Maniacal synths, vertigo-inducing bass lines, there's a violin too! Look at the album cover, for god's sake. How does that not tickle your interest-formerly-known-as-
I had a dream where I was drinkin' tea with the Witch himself. George Clinton was there, bakin' cakes. Hendrix too. He was in the basement mixin' up the medicine. 'Twas a good dream. I'll have one more cup before I go. -Mike
Take a sip of the Witch.

(RVNG) - Here’s some beautiful orchestrated minimalism. Piano player David Moore has a style reminiscent of Lubymor Melnyk’s speed sweeps, but he lets the notes blend together into a wash of sound which beautifully complements the strings, woodwinds and tape loops also at work here. The album is brought together as one, long-form composition, but divided into separate passages. I saw the group play live last week and they perfectly replicated the mood here – spacious, resonant and nuanced. It reminds me of some fine Gavin Bryars moments, or Stars of the Lid, that sense of a warm drone being made by real instruments in a real environment, so there’s a natural breathing that takes place – implied or not, I hear it! - Ben

(Glitterbeat) – This Turkish band has been around over a decade, and they’re the most inventive band I’ve ever heard second only to Sun City Girls. They’re guitar heavy, with lots of running the scales, and building drama through their own deft technique. This album incorporates elements of dub, which I haven’t heard them do before, while keeping with their sense of fine instrumental epicness. Maybe another comparison is the proper soundtrack for Dario Argento if he was from Turkey? -Ben

Meg Baird “Don’t Weigh Down The Light”
(Drag City) – We are longtime fans of Everything Baird here. From Meg’s work in Espers, to her brief stint in Watery Love, to her upcoming Heron Oblivion (which will cause spontaneous mind explosion), it’s all great. But, her greatest work is what she does on her own, solo, and with her sister, as The Baird Sisters. Building off an already substantial backbone of British folk traditions, Baird has developed and expanded to the point where this new one ever so gently takes her song craft to new heights. Anyone into intricate and real folk music should be thankful we live in the Age of Meg. -Ben


Ba Da Bing has a long history of releasing Natural Snow Buildings records of epic duration. We've reissued the two-and-a-half-hour The Snowbringer Cult, the three-hour Night Coercion Into The Company of Witches and Daughter of Darkness, which clocks in at a daunting eight hours. Now we present the leviathan that is the latest Natural Snow Buildings release, Terror’s Hornswhich reaches an astounding 45 minutes in length!  Yes, the length of Terror’s Horns’ arguably makes it a single in the NSB oeuvre, yet the album encompasses the band’s strengths in a digestible dose that won’t leave you hypnotized or dying of dehydration.
Although more approachable than Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte's prior releases, this is by no means their attempt at a pop record. Terror's Horns continues the duo's tradition of dense layering in creation of compositions not only blissful and contemplative but also strangely menacing. Stringed instruments trill, percussion rattles frenetic, feedback hisses and vocals take on an occult trance. With each song’s unveiling, Terror’s Horns further descends deep past hidden cavities and chambers in a haunting listening experience.

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