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Farming Uncle, available for a single quarter from Box 427, Bronx, NY 10458, is a 25-year-old zine agricultural information. Where else, for such a price, can you find out how to make hens lay all year or the ins and outs of cashmere harvesting? There are plenty of classifieds ranging from Native American organizations to seed sources. Another feature is historical articles such as a 1912 piece on successful farming of Brazilian ducks.
In 2001 E-Magine Music (http://www.emaginemusic.com) successfully released the packed Samhain boxset, selling more than 30,000 copies of the set and over 40,000 copies of the re-mastered Samhain titles contained therein. However, the only previously unreleased audio in the boxset is Live 85-86 containing music from two Samhain performances. As its first self-distributed release, E-Magine released an edition of this recording February 26. This edition, packaged in a jewel-case is ready to be the sturdy soundtrack to your Samhain road trip whereas the cardboard-sleeved editions in the boxset are better left safe inside that bulky container. Also, Samhain fans that saw no need to replace their vinyl editions with largely redundant audio now have an option to purchase these live shows from the Danceteria (NYC, 1985) and the Metro (Chicago, 1986) singly. For the Glenn Danzig fan, these performance documents are important steps from The Misfits to the horror rocker's solo career.
ANI DIFRANCO: SOLO FOR FIRST TIME IN EIGHT YEARS
April 2002 Ani DiFranco heads out on a rare solo performance tour in the Eastern U.S. This is her first solo tour in eight years. In 1994 her fans had a multi-city tour offering personal, bare solo performances. The set list for this tour will include selection from DiFranco songbook ranging form older classics to her latest double-album Revelling/Reckoning, as well as new material. Opening on the tour is underground folk musician sensation Dan Bern. He offers "brash humor and addictive wit." Dan shared the stage with Ani on several tours in the late 1990s. Ani produced his 1998 album 50 Eggs.
23rd ANNUAL W.C. HANDY BLUES AWARDS NOMINATIONS
Stalwart legends like seminal R&B songwriter-producer Ike Turner and Texas boogie queen Marcia Ball receive multiple nominations and newcomers Kid Ramos and Otis Taylor make strong showings. Awards will be presented to the select among the nominees Thursday May 23 at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee. The ceremony features Blues performances followed by two days of Blues on Beale Street. Chief nominees include soul singer Bobby Rush, guitar legends Buddy Guy and B.B. King, young singer Shemekia Copeland, boogieing Marcia Ball and the rock innovator Ike Turner. This sets the trend this year of established career artists alongside trailblazers and new standard-bearers.
One of those new standard-bearers is Otis Taylor, nominated in the "Best New Artist Debut" category for White African (Northern Blues; http://www.northernblues.com).Taylor racks up a total of four Handy nominations in different categories. The opus behind the attention from the Awards judges is his critically acclaimed debut released one year ago.
Named in honor of W.C. Handy, "Father of the Blues", the awards ceremony traditionally opens the Handy Weekend. Celebrations include the Blues Symposium with workshops, a Children's Festival, the Handy Awards Festival with Blues bands performing in the clubs along Beale Street, and a Handy Artists Relief Trust Benefit Concert. For the latest information on the Handy Awards and Handy Weekend visit http://www.handyawards.com or http://www.blues.org.
JELLO SEES SCAM IN "FAKE" DKs TOUR
Jello Biafra continues to battle his former bandmates in the Dead Kennedys as they seek financially gain from the punk group's legacy. The booking agency representing Biafra's former bandmates reportedly sells the band as Dead Kennedys, asks $10,000 guarantees, and only informs promoters that Biafra is not in the band when specifically questioned. The band photo that the agency circulated featured Jello Biafra, instead of the replacement singer Brandon Cruz. Most of the tour dates have been sold to the public as "Dead Kennedys", with at least one advertisement featuring the photo containing Biafra. Some shows are advertised as "Dead Kennedys" with others initially or eventually becoming "DK Kennedys" with members listed after tickets have gone on sale. Jello Biafra call this state of affairs " the real great rock and roll swindle" and while giving the group the typical right so perform Dead Kennedys covers, calls the tour overpriced performances by "the world's greediest karaoke band." Early reports from the tour included poor performances and forgotten lyrics. Witnesses in San Francisco noted that Klaus Fluoride bragged on stage that the band had only practiced twice in thirteen years. Jello is already blocked from receiving royalties on DK reissues circulating on Decay that he did not authorize.
For more information on the ongoing legal dispute and details on contributing to the legal defense fund, please contact email@example.com or go to http://www.alternativetentacles.com/page.php?page=atlegalfund.
STYLUS COUNCIL (VINYL REVIEWS)
Old Gold, POB 8776, Atlanta, GA 31106
Out of Brooklyn come five tracks of loose, formless, low-end rhythms and noise on self-titled 7". The consistent style of dark, deep and somewhat mysterious tones gives cohesion to the organic experimentation. However, the inability of the amorphous tracks to fuse into any overt harmonic or even rhythmic trend of substance leaves a vague, bland feel to the music. This is a limited edition of 300. (2)
Old Gold, POB 8776, Atlanta, GA 31106
This is a noisy, clamorous affair of enthusiasm propelling each track forward. T3o of the trio of tracks from the trio DQE arrangement are originals by vocalist/guitarist Grace Braun. Also included here is Jimmy Fautheree's anthem about getting locked out of a wild party, "I Can't Find the Doorknob," a song with credence in the rockabilly scene and recorded by Jimmy and Johnny in 1958. DQE straddles psychobilly and cow punk in the most deconstructed, primitive forms on this raw 45. Grace Braun grew up learning mountain folk songs and hymns in Kentucky. The DQE she formed in high school has thus a folk and country substrate but the soul and delivery is garage punk.
Slaughter and the Dogs
Slaughter and the Dogs are veterans with a r?sum? reaching back to the first wave of British Punk. They look back to these days by revisiting their 1980 song "Hell in New York" with a new version on this album. But the times have changed as they muse in "Welcome to our Town." Including even some ballads and a hard rock cover of "Hard Days Night," Slaughter and the Dogs are more interested in a solid, well-produced rock-n-roll album than noisy punk angst. (2.5)
Sealed Lip Records, POB 30484, Oakland, CA 94604
Kristi Martel's dynamic and skillful phrasing, an ever-changing component of her delivery, makes this vocal album an impressive effort. Tracks like "Silver" offer the charming, hip style of electric neo-folk artist Ani DiFranco. However, Martel builds on this with sophisticated jazz improvisation delivered naturally and easily, as on the climax of "See You Sweet." (4.5)
Coming of Age
BoJak Records, 301 N. Lake Ave., #310, Pasadena, CA 91101
Jude Johnstone is an established songwriter. Stevie Nicks, Johnny Cash, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnier Raitt and Jennifer Warnes covered some of this material. Raitt and Warnes show up to perform on some of these tracks, as does Jackson Browne. As a matter of fact, the lineup on each track differs, adding variety to this album already made exquisite by the excellent songwriting. The performance is also top-notch, as one would expect from a woman who began playing music as soon as she could reach a piano keyboard and is here singing her own successful creations. (4)
Tannis Slimmon, POB 24062, Bullfrog, Guelph, ON N1E 6V8, Canada
This is the first solo album from Canada's Tannis Slimmon, formerly of The Bird Sisters, Crows Feet and Benji. Her hometown on the Canadian prairie lent its name to the title track. The rest of the album is a biography in song about the transition from the Manitoba family farm to a southern Ontario city. Many musical guests appear in the telling, including bluesman Harry Manx and Jeff Bird (Cowboy Junkies). The well-wrought tunes are joyous exhibitions of vocal harmony as Tannis accompanies herself on guitar and mandolin. This album has a full, contemporary rootsy sound entirely accessible to fans of country, pop and AAA. Each track builds onto the previous reaching a jubilant plateau in "My Body Moves" featuring a bright trumpet line. (4)
Amateurish enthusiasm, uneven recording levels and simple, sing-along songs give this album a charming naivety. There is root psychedelia here, as the band playfully muddles from one area of the song to another. The simplicity and honesty of it is the beauty of it. (2.5)
Meet the Curlews
Curlew is a long-lived electric experimental jazz band. Their thick, art-jazz compositions earn kudos from avant-jazz fans as well as art-rock fans. This, their eighth album, captures the bright scintillations of their musical chain lightening and the dusk-gray aura of their more mysterious melodies. These are clever compositions fusing classical jazz phrasing and woolly jazz-rock passages. (4)
Arkham, mysterious and dangerous like the H.P. Lovecraft city, recalls the earliest King Crimson records in a primitive, deconstructed fashion. This Hammond-fueled trio ruled the Belgium prog-rock scene during its short 1970-1972 existence. The keyboardist and composer for the group, Jean-Luc Manderlier went on to greater fame with Magma. Drummer Daniel Denis, also briefly in Magma founded Belgium's Necronomicon with Claude Deron. Deron plays electric flugelhorn on two of the tracks here. Paving the way for the Rock In Opposition movement helping create art-rock and prog, this group focused on touring during its existence, but released no live album. Compiled from tapes made at various Arkham performances and rehearsals, this release rights that wrong. (4)
Truckstop Audio Recording Company (2255 S. Michigan, #4W, Chicago, IL 60616)
In this Central Falls release Adam Vida, drummer for US Maple, steps to the front of the stage and debuts his songwriting skills. He also leaves back there the harsh avant-garde style for a melancholy delivery and semi-acoustic arrangement comparable to alt-country sounds. Edith Frost members Steve Dorocke on pedal steel and Ryan Hembrey on organ and electric piano add subtle, coloring touches to this primarily voice and guitar album. These ethereal, atmospheric pop songs are the timeless rural longing from remote sadness to coloring, distant city lights. (4)
Troops of Tomorrow
Troops of Tomorrow is one of the records from The Exploited with the cleanest production, especially a mean, crisp guitar sound. Also, those not from Edinburgh will find this the one with the lyrics most clearly enunciated. However, the rage and anger from these anarcho-punks is undiluted in spirit and presentation on this the most technically superb in their discography. This digipack reissue includes a two-sided foldout poster of album cover art and a half-dozen bonus tracks. Beside EP versions of the title track and "Alternative," there are non-album songs "Y.O.P.," "Attack," "Computers Don't Blunder" and "Addiction." (4)
Let's Start a War...
This is the first LP from the group that included a new lineup with vocalist Wattie Buchan backed by an entirely new lineup, including his brother Wully on drums. (The liner notes are misleading on this point, though.) The production returns to the raw, live feel of the early albums with an occasional metal-edged guitar slicing through from Big John Duncan. This edition includes the three tracks of the Rival Leaders 7" (1983) that came out the same year with the same lineup. (4)
Punk's Not Dead
This is a reissue of the 1981 release that started it all for the extremely long-lived, angry leaders of the second wave of British punk rock. Featuring the exhorting, fiery vocals of dynamic vocalist Wattie Buchan leading the pro-punk, anti-government attacks through somewhat muddy sound. This reissue, along with a foldout poster, includes ten bonus tracks. These tracks are the two cuts from Oi! The Album, The Army Life single, and "Exploited Army Barmy" with some songs it appeared in single version with and "Dead Cities, " "Hitler's in the Charts Again" and "Class War." This is their seminal release that includes such anthems as "Cop Cars," "Sex & Violence" and the title track. This most important release in their discography is a seminal album in the punk genre. (4.5)
Wild Times Again
This is a re-release of two albums spawned from a late '80's reunion; Non-Stop Nitropop and Wild Times Again. The impetus was to return to the earliest sound of the group. With the full context of '80's power pop behind them, these albums come across as an excellent post-punk pop-rock album, rather than the effete punk imitation that comes across on their early albums overshadowed by the punk wave. The Lurkers were just early on the skinny tie sound, and these albums, beside their varying ad hoc lineups, show the group as solid and tuneful looking back on the decade they helped define the indie sound for. (3)
This powerhouse group draws on the thick rock sound of stoner rock, the heavy sounds of hard '60's psychedelic and Misfits-style American punk but no fear of guitar solos. This post-60's, post-punk approach to hard rock yields a bounty in obscenity-laden, high-octane drag rock with street punk attitude and arena rock power. (3)
Soldier of Midian
Badawi is a byword in alternative dub and this third album is a new plateau in production from the Jerusalem-born Raz Mesinai, AKA Badawi. Prayers of Sheikhs and Rabbis became inspiration for the New Yrok-raised musician who eventually spent time in the desert with the Bedouins. The wide spectrum of his sound includes Persian, Indian, Yemenite, Moroccan, and Afro-Cuban, especially the percussion styles of these cultures. Sampling and affecting his live playing on such instruments as flute, bendir (Moroccan frame drum) and the Persian drum known as a zarb, this album is a cornucopia of Middle-Eastern percussion. The organic, electronic transformation of these leads to an energetic yet hypnotic stream. The effective layering of this percussion includes deep, substantial throbs and the bright, upper-register beats we expect from the Mid-east. (3.5)
Last Beat Records, 2819 Commerce, Dallas, TX 75226
Chao is the d?but recording of the new group fronted by Regina Chellew. Formerly, she fronted Captain Audio. This is potent indie pop guaranteed to affect the listener with the clear, clarion vocals and quick-paced, bright beats. Captain Audio had a grand tradition of covers, sometimes doing whole albums in concert. Here, Regina includes a cover; an excellent rendition of "Lay Lady Lay." On this track, she sings in duet with Marcus Striplin (Pleasant Grove). The potent delivery on this album, crisp production and arrangements that effectively punctuate every rhythmic possibility make Hitsthemiss a superlative album. (4.5)
Singer-songwriter Amy Jane has an excellent offering in her concept album. This is a 16-axis theory of dimensionality exploring the different direction toward becoming emotionally "wide open." The emotional and interpersonal path through life has such geologic features as peaks and valleys and Amy charts the discoveries and sacrifices that map onto this textured landscape. Her included lyrics show her understanding of the difficulties and rewards in making this journey: "There were dark places/that we pushed through/Each time we reached the clear/I knew a deeper love with you." (3.5)
A Life Once Lost
the Fourth Plague: Flies
A Life Once Lost could be 'hearing once lost' for the unprepared listener that starts off this noise metal sludge fest at maximum volume. Potent over-modulated guitar chords supporting the piercing, pained vocals make for a devilish mix. Echoes of straight ahead heavy metal, vicious grindcore and pure noise assaults blend in this fiery mix. Sudden changes and lickety-split drumming all point to a well-rehearsed, tight group providing top-notch extreme metal. (3.5)
Chargers Street Gang
Holy the Bop Apocalypse
Get Hip Recordings
This is a dynamic, no-holds-barred debut by a quality quintet from Cleveland. This is pure, unadulterated rock-n-roll bristling with channeled, cathartic energy. This is over the top even given such high-octane R&B-based rock groups as Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Delta 72. The clear, dry drums are brought out onto Main Street in the excellent mix here, recorded by Tim Kerr and engineered by Mike Vasquez. This is the same team that gave us a similarly blessed holy destruction from Frigg-A-Go-Go. There's '60's Detroit in here (think MC5, Psychedelic Stooges) with wild, unleashed punk attitude and direct, in-your-face delivery. (4)
The Condition is Incurable
Bad Afro Records
Stockholm's The Maggots explode with energy and a snotty sneer on this premium garage rock revival disc. Their fearsome fuzz and gruesome guitar sound is vital, visceral rock-n-roll. There was a garage wave in Scandinavia in the '80's and M?ns P. M?nsson (guitar/vocals) was part of that movement as part of Wylde Mammoths (one of the first bands to record for Crypt Records), Crimson Shadows and Friends. Bassist Steffen Hellstr?m was also in Wylde Mammoths and Friends and Jonas Lundberg (drums) has a past in Slammer and A-Bombs. These journeyman psychedelic rockers combine their experience and vigor for this more-than-suitable follow-up to their excellent debut LP, Get Hooked (Low Impact Records). Also, available on 10" vinyl, this CD edition includes three bonus tracks taken from the Gonna Make You Pay 7" on (Bad Afro). While their originals rock sufficient to carry this disc to dawn and back, they include some righteous covers: a searing "Boy From Nowhere" (DMZ) and the workout for their two guitarists from The Turpentines, "Heading For The Texas Border," also covered by the Flamin' Groovies. (4)
"Splodge" is British slang for "mess," but there is little that is not tidy about this 8-piece early '80's group playing fun, varied post-punk British rock. They often let their multi-faceted songs fall apart into a mess on the floor, but it is a well-organized deconstruction with a winking sense of humor that flows from change to change and track to track. This is a reissue of their peerless debut experimental-Oi album, complete with proto-ska, that created enough of a sensation to resurrect the group itself from an unfortunately early disbanding. This is hilarious, crude but sophisticated entertainment that arose from the punk wake. (4)
Porn (The Men Of)
Experiments in Feedback
Small Stone Records
This excellent experimentation in guitar-based rock opens with a patient, exploratory, 12-minute take on Pink Floyd's "One of These Days." After surviving the death of Man's Ruin where their debut Porn American Style was born, newly named The Men Of Porn conjure blacklight moods and hard psychedelic experience. One member of the group, Joe Goldring (Swans, Out In Worhsip), is given over entirely to tape loops and effects, unusual for a rock combo but perfectly suitable for the weird and wonderful sonic journeys. Experiments in Feedback can take stoner rock fans to next level and make fans of vintage acid rock and psychedelia flashback to where it all began. (4.5)
Totally Alive in London
Featuring a two-pronged vocal approach from the squeaking singer Fay Fife and punkish Eugene Reynolds, The Revillos was the unpretentious comic relief of post-punk power pop. This peerless release of an entirely successful show by the reformed group in 1996 includes a 12-page comic by Vince Ray. The backup singers coo and the organ pumps and the guitar jangles or features single-note leads in total denial of everything that happened in the '90's from the time capsule group. Mixing pop with camp and featuring such pure-spun covers as "Glad All Over," this is unadulterated bubblegum punk in a set that includes all the group's best material at their first show in the West in over eleven years. (4.5)
Punk Rock Rarities
The Vibrators brought age and experience to their participation in the late '70's genesis of punk rock. As a result, these tracks from the time period already predict the post-punk '80's power pop sound of better production, hooks you can hang your hat on and solid verse-chorus-verse songwriting while dragging along that vital punk energy. Exuberance rather than angst fuel even their most menacing tracks, often ambitiously featuring analog electronic effects as on "Pure Mania" from the 2-track demos for V2. Much of this is demos, outtakes and even some late '80's stuff from an extra-group project. (4)
The Worst of the Yobs
This is the infamous, rude and crude Christmas albums and singles released by The Boys as The Yobs pried from the grasp of three record companies and released as one, single package. Their tasteless Oi takes on yuletide fare is the perfect antidote to noel overdose or hard-hitting pub rock any other time of the year. (4)
The Anti-Nowhere League
We Are...The League
As cartoonish in their exaggerated humor ("Woman") and pointedly obscene ("So What") as this group is some may not take them seriously, but there are creators of some of the most enduring and vital music of English punk rock. This reissue of their classic sophomore release including "So What" and single versions of "I Hate...People," "Let's Break the Law" and "Woman." The album version of their "I Hate...People" manifest is a remix here on the album that includes their insightful cover of the folk gem "Streets of London" (Ralph McTell). Classic anthems like "Let's Break the Law" perfectly encapsulates the alluring temptation of juvenile delinquency on this enhanced opus from the winning songwriting team of rabid vocalist Animal and guitarist Magoo. (5)
Teenage Fanclub & Jad Fair
Words Of Wisdom And Hope
The catchy indie pop of Scotland's Teenage Fanclub meets the winning oddball tunes of Jad Fair on this collaboration disc. Both centers of creativity approach this project with a long history of recording to draw upon. The result may be the most accessible Jad Fair album and the quirkiest Teenage Fanclub album. It was nearly two years prior that Fair and Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub first discussed this one-time union. The joyfully strange melding of Fair's cartoonish visions and Teenage Fanclub's crisp, upbeat arrangements is well worth the wait. (4)
Obvious Urban Landscape
Tim Foljahn breaks out of a three-cassette series on Old Gold with this full-length CD of strange electronic visions. Portions of those previous cassette releases are reprised here. The building blocks of these strange little pieces are robotic synthesizer sounds, affected voices and such environmental sounds as a construction site. For reading along, as well as the lyrics to the first track the thick CD booklet contains 50 enumerated paragraphs summarizing dreams had by Foljahn. These all-electronic compositions feature no traditional instrumentation and only occasional words. This is a limited edition of 500. (3.5)
Kracfive is an outlet for four talented and out-there electronic composers Christopher Graves, Noah Sasso, Joe Miragliuolo and Reimer Eiseng. After 10 solo releases collaborations and compilations on the label, the four got together to form a representational Kracfive super group and record this CD. The base element in this mix is the human voice. No other source is used, although the distortions and effects rendered recall mechanical and electronic sources. In statement of this fact, the group provides "lyrics" which are the nonsensical syllables 'sung' in these transmogrified tracks. Like peculiar wave-bending treatments of film dialogue or old broadcasts recycled and rearranged after bouncing off the Plutonian surface, Original Instrument is innate surreal soul of the most basic human sound stretched and formed to be tacked down at unexpected corners in these aural collages. (4.5)
Mo' Wax/The Beggars Banquet
This lo-fi trip-hop CD EP of downbeat creations features three new compositions. Along for the ride is an unreleased remix of "Numb Millennium" from John Herndon (Tortoise, Isotope 217). Also here is "Seasick." Previously a rarity, this track was only available in Japan on the Art of War Mo' Wax compilation. Let Junk Collector take you out of the fast lane to a slow cruise curb-side, you don't know what you might find. (3.5)
If I Was Prince: The Tribute Album
RexRecords/The Beggars Group
On this tribute album lie ten tracks of indie-freaks revisiting the songs of The Artist Formerly Known As Price for fun and frolic. A streak of hedonism and respect runs through the tribute. Interestingly, there is no "1999" or "Raspberyy Beret." However, there is a funk-psychedelic "Annie Christian" by Fort Lauderdale and a melodic take on "Controversy" from Hefner. These are all talented groups digging deep into their record collections to come up with not the obvious choices not the obvious renditions but eminent success in incarnating the spirit of the 5' 2" giant in a new way. The excellently packaged disc includes each group's answer to the question "If I was Prince..." and the reasons they chose their particular song. The fan of Prince that truly appreciates his mercurial, poly-genre genius will appreciate this disc. (4)
Jewel Recording Studios, 1594 Kinney Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45231
Cincinnati, Ohio singer-songwriter Belinda Scroggins has a full, rich voice with which she expresses herself powerfully. Nicely accenting this rich vocal ability is subtle background vocals by Belinda and two other vocalists. Acoustic piano, synthesizer strings and the exotic percolations of bright ethnic percussion more fully augment the dynamic arrangements on this well-wrought CD of personal and revealing songs. Beyond the varied instrumentation, much of the success of this recording comes from the authentic feeling Belinda pours into delivering these lyrics (included in the CD booklet) that she also poured her heart into writing. The feeling of these tracks ranges from soul-bare poignant ballads ("The Wanting Never Fades") to tougher declarations with a rock edge ("A Stranger to Myself"). (3)
Linda Smith made this home recording during a month-long residency at The Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, New York. The Millay Colony is the former home of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and it is with a poet's care that Smith penned the provided lyrics to such tracks ripe with emotion as the title song. It is the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay that Linda breathily delivers in "The Time of the Year." Linda also sets to music the work of another poet, Louise Bogan's "Night." Linda, a moody, dusk-toned vocalist, brightens her pieces with tambourine and understated guitar accompaniment. Taking on at times baroque sounds ("No 2 People"), a newly acquired keyboard appears in place of the trusty Casio used on earlier recordings. Way ahead of the curve, Linda began making her own 4-track recordings inspired by 60's radio pop in 1986 and continues her work based on that varied tradition of sounds sweet and memorable, pop and nostalgic. (3)
Fu Manchu continues on California Crossing to keep alive '70's rock sounds that can pass for stoner rock today but work with the heavy surf rock theme of this beach bacchanal. You could just as easily call it skate-rock, this driving guitar rock with the nihilist vibe out of Southern Cali'. Twiddling the knobs for that monster sound is producer/engineer/mixer Matt Hyde (Porno for Pyros, Monster Magnet). Fu Manchu plotted a more melodic sound for this record but left none of the heaviness fine for a mature, accessible hard rock sound. Interestingly, a cleaner sound is here due to the fact Scott Hill's fuzz pedal for his Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar was stolen. "It was a bummer that it got stolen, but I ended up really digging the cleaner sound," explained Hill. Keith Morris of Circle Jerks fame shows up to sing on "Bultaco." (3)
Side One Dummy Records
A Gaelic group playing high-octane, punkish rock celebrating hard living and hard drinking begs comparison to the legendary Pogues. In this case, Flogging Molly fronted by energetic vocalist Dave King comes up worthy of such comparison. Signing up Steve Albini to keep this pub rock potent at his own Electrical Audio Studios was a smart move, too. This sophomore Irish-folk-punk opus features a seven-man lineup including violin, accordion, mandolin and some pennywhistle sounds. Not every track is an over-the-top explosion of traditional melody and old-fashioned angst. "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" is a sincere if still sharply swaggering ballad of slowly building examination of love lost. (3.5)
Big Jack Johnson & Kim Wilson
The Memphis Barbecue Sessions
On this first recording from the two bluesmen, Big Jack Johnson plays on mandolin, acoustic and electric guitars while singing along with the harp-song provided by harmonica maestro Kim Wilson. These two are in the business of providing serious, lowdown blues closer to Big Jack's style than Wilson's popularized sounds in The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Pinetop Perkins shows up to play piano on t of the tracks and pair fish around in the gutbucket to come up with such classics as Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning" and Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man." (4)
Sonic Circuits IX
This ninth volume in the compilations produced by the International Electronic MusicFestival. It is a full, multi-media experience programmed to be enjoyed parallel to the enhanced CD portions ready for visualization and interaction on a PC or MAC. For the first time, two of the festival's commissioned media works appear with the document of the electro-acoustic portion of the entries. The wide variety on these twenty tracks represents the gamut of sophisticated electronic composing currently being done. Often challenging and even bracing, for the adventurous ear Sonic Circuits IX is a revealing headphones journey into the bizarre, conjured worlds of sonic alchemists. (4)
Strange Neonatal Cry
Strange Neonatal Cry is a 60-minute spoken word text erupting with vivid metaphors. The action described and unexpected angles make this a compelling, riveting presentation backed by angular, break-jazz. While the narrative is a riot of abstract description, the story is a linear tale of a woman witness to a parking lot attendant's assault. The spiraling architecture of the ramped parking structure is an analogy to the curvilinear tangents taken in the telling. Supporting this scary story is emphasizing, reactive tones of Hammond B3, hurdy-gurdy and more. Belgum's "ambient fiction" is enveloping, transporting us to be a fellow-witness with the unfortunate woman unexpectedly pulled into an overpowering situation. (4)
Speaking Extravagantly: String Quartets of David Stock
David Stock is a polymath composer fluent in Ives' experimentalism, serene minimalism, Bartok's advances and jazz. He artfully blends these vocabularies together into his own sophisticated language. Closely tied to Cuarteto Latinoamericano he finds in them an excellent vehicle to express the suggestions Charles Ives made, "perhaps music is the art of speaking extravagantly." The world-class chamber quartet revels in the extravagance of these polyglot compositions. "Speaking Extravagantly" is the title given to Stock's second string quartet and it is that which where hear here with the third and fourth quartets serving as bookends. Recorded in late night sessions during December 1999 in Mexico City, this album transports us to magical sessions where skilled musicians so fully realized a composer's vision that is hard to imagine this music better performed. (4.5)