Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blind Lemon Jefferson – King of the Country Blues [1990] (Compilation of songs from the late 1920s)

In the first few decades of this century, most commercial blues singers were women – Bessie Smith and Ma Rainy are two well-known examples.  Noted for his intricate guitar technique, Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the first men to find success in the style, and served as inspiration several other noted Texas bluesmen, including personal favorites Leadbelly and Lightnin' Hopkins.  While other musicians have adopted similar playing techniques, few choose to imitate his high, almost ghostly singing.  That’s a shame, as that lonely-sounding timbre is an appropriate fit for his mournful subject matter.
This compilation was released by Yazoo records, who at the time refused to filter the 78 RPM sources in order to minimize the hiss and pop of the records.  This means that each song emanates from beneath a light haze of noise, but in my opinion it only adds to the character of the songs.

[YouTube] Blind Lemon Jefferson – See That My Grave is Kept Clean

Blind Lemon Jefferson – King of the Country Blues
01 - That Crawlin' Baby Blues
02 - Bad Luck Blues
03 - Matchbox Blues
04 - Hot Dogs
05 - One Dime Blues
06 - Shuckin' Sugar
07 - Rabbit Foot Blues
08 - Corrina Blues
09 - See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
10 - Easy Rider Blues
11 - Broke And Hungry
12 - Black Horse Blues
13 - Lonesome House Blues
14 - Oil Well Blues
15 - He Arose From the Dead
16 - Beggin' Back
17 - Prison Cell Blues
18 - Rambler Blues
19 - Gone Dead On You Blues
20 - Wartime Blues
21 - Booger Rooger Blues
22 - Right of Way Blues
23 - Big Night Blues

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Soil & "Pimp" Sessions - Pimp of the Year [2006]

I've got a terrible, dirty secret....  I don't like jazz.  As far as western music is concerned, it's the only major genre that I haven't yet "cracked."  For some reason, I never found the band or artist that I could listen to long enough to temper my ear, to give me the ability to read other jazz artists.

That may have changed.  Soil & "Pimp" Sessions (I don't know what that means either) is a group of Japanese kids who play fast and tight, using considerable melodic and harmonic dissonance without losing a sense of tunefulness.  I wish I could provide a more apt description, but as I said, Jazz is a new world to me.  All I know is that this is a badass album.

01 - Memai
02 - Summer Goddess
03 - Worldwide
04 - Crush!
05 - Sabotage
06 - Scoop Out
07 - Sahara
08 - Ha Hen (Splinter)
09 - The Black Widow Blues
10 - The White Widow
11 - I-Rony
12 - Last Long
13 - Satsuriku New Wave

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cubanate – Barbarossa [1996]

Marc Heal and Phil Barry, the duo that make up Cubanate, marry high speed techno to industrial-influenced metal, and makes a glorious racket in the process.   Guitar riffs, played both on real electric instruments and by synthesized pads (though it can be difficult to tell one from another), are cranked up to a punk rock tempo and underpinned by a furious dram machine assault.  It's notable that, at a time when most of Cubanate's coldwave peers were programming drum machines to a simple and speedy rock or dance beat, the duo were creating some brutal but complex and refined techno.

[YouTube] Cubanate – Barbarossa

Cubanate - Barbarossa
01 - Vortech I
02 - Barbarossa
03 - Joy
04 - Why Are You Here
05 - Exultation
06 - The Musclemen
07 - Come Alive
08 - Vortech II
09 - Lord of the Flies

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kaki King – Everybody Loves You (2003)

My introduction to Kaki King was a performance on Conan in 2003 or 2004.  It began inauspiciously; one young girl with her head down, hair hiding her face from the camera, slouched over an acoustic guitar held flat in her lap.  Without a word of introduction she began to play, and the sound was something I hadn’t heard before.  The song was from this, her debut album, on which every track but the last features only her solo acoustic guitar.  King often plays percussively, making liberal use of slapping and striking.  She also favors harmonic runs over traditionally strummed chords, lending the denser pieces a fragile ornamentation.  Critics have cited the lack of conventional melody as a weakness of this piece, but that seems unfair – this type of playing is more about texture and timbre than melody, though it is much more akin to folk than twelve tone music.  Those who characterize the acoustic guitar as an intimate or tender instrument may have trouble adjusting to the heady contents of this album.
I’d lost track of Kaki King in the last several years, and in doing a bit of research for this post, I found that she tours with a full band these days, and has played with the likes of the Foo Fighters and Tegan & Sara.  I’ll have to check out her latest sometime.

[YouTube] Kaki King – Close Your Eyes and You’ll Burst into Flames

Kaki King – Everybody Loves You
01 - Kewpie Station
02 - Steamed Little Juicy Bun
03 - Carmine St.
04 - Night after Sidewalk
05 - Happy As a Dead Pig In The Sunshine
06 - The Exhibition
07 - Close Your Eyes and You'll Burst Into Flames
08 - Joi
09 - Everybody Loves You
10 - Fortuna

Carpathian Forest – Fuck You All!!! Caput Tuum In Ano Est [2006]

Time for some fucking metal!  Carpathian Forest built their reputation on keeping black metal stripped down and primitive, the Great Black Hope for kvlt kids who scoffed as their once-favorite band had the temerity to grow and evolve.  However, Fuck You All!!! is punky, chunky, rock n’ roll oriented black metal that keeps riffs short and makes blastbeats a tool instead of the whole trade.  Those same kids were probably pissed upon hearing it, and with a latin subtitle that translates roughly to “Your head is up your ass,” it’s pretty obvious that the band didn’t care. 

01 - Vi Apner Porten Til Helvete
02 - The Frostbitten Woodlands of Norway
03 - Start Up the Incinerator (Here Comes Another Useless Fool)
04 - Submit to Satan!!!
05 - Diabolism (The Seed and the Sower)
06 - Dypfryst Dette Er Mit Helvete
07 - Everyday I Must Suffer
08 - The First Cut is The Deepest
09 - Evil Egocentrical Existentialism
10 - Shut Up, There No Excuse to Live

Monday, October 19, 2009

Guillaume Dufay – Chansons [Performed by Ensemble Unicorn, 1996]

Guillaume Dufay was a fifteenth century composer who worked for most of his life in northern France.  Regarded even in his lifetime as that era's premiere composer, Dufay’s oeuvre contains elements of both the high Medieval and early Renaissance, managing the difficult balancing act of innovating while staying rooted in tradition, and getting contemporaries to appreciate it.
The songs presented on this album are secular, and consequently are more forward-looking.  The track list alternates between instrumental and vocal performances, though it must be said that the vocal pieces best display the rich and tuneful polyphony for which Dufay is known.  The instrumental tracks muddy the interplay of voices (at least to my uncouth modern ear), but the use of period instruments is still a treat.

01 - J'ay Mis Mon Cue
02 - Par Droit Je Puis Bien Complaindre
03 - Quel Fronte Signorille - La Dolce Vista
04 - Puisque Vous Estez Campieur
05 - Belle, Que Vous Ay Je Mesfait
06 - Vergene Bella
07 - Se La Face Ay Pale
08 - Donnes L'assault À Ia Fortresse
09 - Par Le Regard De Vos Beaux Yeux
10 - Resvelons Nous
11 - Ce Jour De L'an
12 - Mon Chier Amy
13 - Pour L'amour De Ma Doulce Amye
14 - Helas Mon Dueil
15 - Bon Jour, Bon Mois
16 - Resvelliés Vous Et Faites Chiere Lye
17 - Adieu Ces Bons Vins De Lannoys