Sunday, August 03, 2014

Half Cleveland - "Easy Life"

Here's obscuro pop genius Chris Butler performing the title track from my probable Album of the Year along with a couple of other Tin Hueys and a Chi-Pig, live in Akron on 8.1.2014.

ADDENDUM: Half Cleveland Youtube channel with the whole show is here.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Diamond Age - "Private Victories" EP

Hmm, it seems that lately, all I do is post links to people's Bandcamp pages. Oh well. Matt Leer (ex-Mandarin) does the one-man-band thing better than most. Under the Diamond Age rubric, he lays down jams that'll move your ass as well as stimulating your cochlea. Live, he even gets into it physically in a way that suggests he's thinking about more than what he has to do next. Listen now, download for a five spot.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Chicon - "Sin Ti"

My buddy Jeremy Diaz is best known around here for Detroit-influenced punk or grungy psych, but the new album by his latest band Chicon (with longtime collaborator Jen Tran on bass) hits some shimmering, shoegazy pop notes that made me sit up and take notice. As you might, as well.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sub Oslo - "Dubs in the Key of Life" (remastered)

Essential classic. Download free via Bandcamp. You owe it to yourself.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Brokegrove Lads - "Into the Now Almost Before Yesterday"

New track from Brokegrove Lads (Matt Hickey, Robert Kramer, Terry Valderas, myself) from our sesh with Britt Robisheaux at Eagle Audio last Christmas. Give us a play why doncha.

Friday, June 20, 2014

"The Kids Are Alright"

Through the magic of the Wayback Machine, I was able to find the ancient I-94 Bar column where I quoted the additional lyrics (which I copied off his website) to "The Kids Are Alright" that Pete Townshend sang when I saw the 'orrible 'oo at Reunion in Y2K. They moved me to tears back when I was a youngster of 43, and they ring even truer today.

Never leave me
I can't live without you
I don't want you to go
I brought you here with my love, and my lust
And now as I grow old 
And lean toward the dust and flowers of death
I need to know that you'll be all right.
With me and without me.

Things we like

1) Listening to jam tapes from almost 40 years ago, sent to me by the guy that originally inspahrd me to want to play music, back when I was 12 and he was 14. After that we were in bands together; he moved to Florida the same year I moved to Texas, and he never played again. Hearing this stuff provides me with tangible proof of a time in my life that I otherwise might have imagined. It makes me remember what it felt like to be young, timid, diffident, and unsure of myself. And it makes me want to jam with these guys again, although some of them are no longer living. In some ways, the best part is hearing their voices in the intervals between the jams.

2) Sub Oslo and Pinkish Black at Lola's, 6.14.2014. Two of the best bands ever to call Fort Worth home, playing on their home turf, surrounded by their friends. Since then, I've been listening to Sub Oslo's The Rites of Dub (a better way of experiencing them at home -- because it has more BASS -- than their otherwise excellent DVD) and Pinkish Black's Razed to the Ground (which came out after I "did like a mole and went underground" a couple of years ago, but sounds like a watershed to these feedback-scorched ears, with Daron Beck's voice sounding better than ever) to try and keep the buzz going. And looking forward to hearing Sub Oslo's Frank Cervantez and John Nuckels (whom Frank calls "the Axis of dub," to which I meant to reply, "Just axe the excess") in their current project Wire Nest at the Wherehouse on Friday, 6.27.2014, the night before I turn forty-seventeen.

3) A Who binge, including Shakin' All Over, the better (more songs) CD-R version of my favorite vinyl bootleg, recorded at the Fillmore East on 4.6.1968, when they were still wearing spangled suits and ruffled shirts, and slouching towards Leeds with shuddering jams on "Relax," the title song, and the inevitable "My Generation;" Join Together, an Antipodean oddity also released in the UK as Rarities 1969-1972, which compiles all the great Lifehouse-leftover singles and B-sides I collected while waiting for Quadrophenia; The Kids Are Alright, still the definitive documentary even though it's bookended by songs that Classic Rock radio has rendered me unable to enjoy (the DVD that includes "A Quick One" from The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which was absent from early issues); 30 Years of Maximum R&B, the DVD that appeared simultaneously with their mid-'90s box set (the version that includes the 1970 Tanglewood material that was deleted from later issues); and Music From Lifehouse, a DVD of the stage production Townshend mounted in Y2K which is my favorite way to hear that material.

4) All we ever need is something to look forward to. In this case, we have Ian McLagan at the Kessler in Oak Cliff on 8.8.2014, and the following evening, when the li'l Stoogeband briefly returns from the dustbin of history (sobering Lola's moment: realizing that the bumper stickers for the bands I used to play in have been torn off the wall; it's almost as if we never existed) at the Sunshine Bar in Arlington.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spiral Mercury Chicago/Sao Paulo Underground's "Pharaoh & The Underground"

Pharaoh Sanders was on the first jazz record I ever bought: John Coltrane's Ascension. On that epochal, structured collective improvisation, one of the solo voices that stood out the most from the general cacophony was the Arkansas-born tenor saxophonist's squalling cry, which sounded like nothing so much as the sound of a soul struggling to break free from bondage -- which made it very appropriate to its time (1965). On Trane's Meditations from the following year, the combination of Sanders' gritty roar with the dueling drumkits of Elvin Jones and Rashied Ali provided a musical simulacrum of an erupting volcano. On subsequent Coltrane dates like Live In Seattle, the former Sun Ra sideman pushed Ohnedaruth even further (a friend refers to Live At the Village Vanguard Again as sounding as if all the participants were on "really bad heroin").

His own dates tended to be more monochromatic, but 1967's Tauhid introduced the world to the firestorm that was Sonny Sharrock's guitar, and was cited as an influence by Detroit psychedelic proto-punks the Stooges and MC5. In the '70s, he veered off into the realm of commercial R&B-jazz purveyed by his former sidemen Lonnie Liston-Smith and Norman Connors before dropping from sight. He resurfaced in 1991 on Sharrock's Ask the Ages a highly atypical Bill Laswell production that evoked the "classic" Coltrane of A Love Supreme and Crescent with a quartet that featured Elvin Jones stoking the fires of Sharrock and Sanders' solo voices.

Now Sanders is the featured soloist on this new release from Clean Feed, the Portuguese label notable for its steady stream of high-quality, forward-looking music which, broadly speaking, absorbs the influence of post-Coltrane/AACM '70s jazz, European free improvisation, and contemporary classical music in interesting and distinctive ways. Pharoah & The Underground matches him with a mixed ensemble of Americans and Brazilians, who summon the spirit of Miles' '70s band one minute, Don Cherry's (another '60s collaborator of Pharaoh's) European ensembles the next.

While Pharaoh's name is up front, the date really belongs to Rob Mazurek, who composed all the pieces and whose cornet alternately spits staccato streams and sings with burnished lyricism. Mauricio Takara's cavaquinho (a four-stringed instrument that resembles a cross between a ukelele and a classical guitar) sounds for all the world like nothing so much as '60s Sharrock. Guilherme Granado's synth grounds the music firmly in the now, while drummer Chad Taylor's mbira evokes ancient empires. Together, the ensemble creates an aura of dark, dreamlike mystery that makes for an intriguing listen. Pharaoh's voice is still highly distinctive. It'd be ace if Clean Feed (or anyone) could give him another date where we can hear more of what he has to say in 2014.