Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 Releases of 2009!!!

A true countdown for the current year! This, the Top 10 records list, will sit at the top (as 12/31) all month. And I'll be counting up from #10 to #1, and adding them as I post each full write-up. The album title link will take you directly there. Most recent post overall should be directly below with normal date-stamp, etc...

And there will be much more year-end wrap-up listifying throughout December. Enjoy!!

The Next 10 of Metal 2009 is posted.

The Next 10 of Non-Metal 2009 is posted.

The Top 10 Live Shows of 2009 has been posted.

[Edit, 01/29/2010: Check it out!]

#1 Shawn Lee Presents Soul in the Hole

Shawn Lee Presents
No~Videos~At~All from Soul in the Hole (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Ubiquity Records
iTunes - Shawn Lee
Lala - Soul in the Hole

Genre - Soul
Location - London, U.K.
Review - Pop Matters

#2 MaseratibmoZ split, etc... - Maserati and Zombi

"Monoliths" from split and Passages (2009)
"Spirit Warrior" from Spirit Animal (2009)

Official - Maserati / Zombi
Myspace - Maserati / Zombi / Majeure
Purchase - Zombi: Relapse Records
Maserati/Majeure: Temporary Residence
iTunes - Maserati / Zombi / Majeure
Lala - Passages / Spirit Animal / Timespan

Genre - You got your Post-Rock in my Synth-Prog!
Location - Athens, GA vs. Chicago, IL
Review - Zombi: Rock Freaks
Maserati: Strange Glue
Majeure: The Needle Drop blog

#3 Wavering Radiant - Isis

Wavering Radiant
"Ghost Key" from Wavering Radiant (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Relapse Records
iTunes - Isis
Lala - Wavering Radiant

Genre - Thinking Man's Metal
Location - Los Angeles, CA
Review - Metal Sucks

#4 Hymn to the Immortal Wind - Mono

Hymn to the Immortal Wind
"Ashes in the Snow" from Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Temporary Residence Ltd.
iTunes - Mono
Lala - Hymn to the Immortal Wind

Genre - Cinematic Heartstring Post-Rock
Location - Tokyo, Japan
Review - The Antiquiet

#5 In A Dark Tongue - Harvestman

In A Dark Tongue
"Headless Staves of Poets" from In A Dark Tongue (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Neurot Recordings
iTunes - Harvestman

Genre - Mystical Pagan Dark Ambient
Location - Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Review - Stoner Rock

#6 "Children of the Sun" 7" plus 2xEP's- The Time & Space Machine

Children of the Sun
"Psychedelic Circus" from Volume Two (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Turntable Lab
iTunes - The Time & Space Machine
Lala - "Children of the Sun" 7"

Genre - Psychedelic/Psychedelic/Psychedelic
Location - London, England
Review - Fly Global Music

#7 Blue Record - Baroness

Blue Record
"Jake Leg" from Blue Record (2009)

Official/Myspace -
Purchase - Relapse Records
iTunes - Baroness
Lala - Blue Record

Genre - New Wave of Southern Boogie Stoner Prog Metal
Location - Savannah, GA
Review - Dusted Magazine

#8 Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World -
The Yellow Moon Band

Travels into Several Remote Nations
"Polaris / Chimney" from Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Boomkat (UK)
iTunes - The Yellow Moon Band
Lala - Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World

Genre - Groovy Jams for Psych Folk
Location - Britain
Review - Tuned Into Music

#9 Orphaned by the Ocean - Teeth of the Sea

Orphaned by the Ocean
"Swear Blind the Alsatian's Melting" from Orphaned by the Ocean (2009)

Official/Myspace -
Purchase - Boomkat (UK)
iTunes - Teeth of the Sea
Lala - Orphaned by the Ocean

Genre - Soundtrack Jazz and Noise Ambience
Location - The U.K.
Review - Ptolemaic Terrascope

#10 RTZ and Luminous Night - Six Organs of Admittance

"Anesthesia" from Luminous Night (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Drag City Records
iTunes - Six Organs of Admittance

Genre - Electro/Acoustic Freak-Folk Explorations
Location - West Coast, USA
Reviews - RTZ: No Ripcord
Luminous Night: Drowned in Sound

Luminous Night


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Shawn Lee Presents Soul in the Hole
(#1, 2009)

Somewhat anticlimactic, those videos I made have been sidelined by Warner Music's dispute with YouTube. And they were good ones!! Anyway, you can listen to samples of each song (and buy the album) at the label.

[Edit: Okay, I'm going to try out this Lala thing...]

I think some history is in order. Shawn Lee is a white Kansan, who has moved to England. He's sort of electronics, some sort of multi-instrumentalist, in a variety of styles. He's done soundtrack work for movies and video games, and his songs seem to get picked up for tv shows pretty regularly. And this year, Shawn Lee Presents Soul in the Hole. He's the guy in the tiger mask.

"A Phase Shifter I'm Going Through" from Lord Newborn & The Magic Skulls (2009), by the band of that name [Shawn Lee, Money Mark, Tommy Guerrero]

As the title might suggest, it's a soul album. Not "neo-soul," full-force retro-traditional soul. Apparently, it's a beloved music style for him, and he treats it right. Mostly inspired by the late-'60s, early-'70s heyday, but occasionally drifting into '80s (pre-slick) new-jack drum-machine beats. Title track, "Soul in the Hole" is a rousing anthem with a poppin' bassline and swingin' drums. Throughout the album, the sublime (vocals) is mixed with the ridiculous (lyrics), as expectations are upended while traditions are honored. Falsetto choruses croon "You exploo-o-ode my mind!"

"If This Ain't Love (Don't Know What Is)" by Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators

Almost all of the tracks have guest singers, with Nicole Willis doing a great job on the organ-and-handclap break-up of "Jigsaw." The song absolutely nails the mixture of pep and heartbreak that made a million girl-group hits in the '60s. "Land of Soul" finishes the opening trifecta, with Lee belting out about sunny Cali-as-promised land over strings and th' funky drummer.

"Ain't No Use" [live], by Orgone with Fanny Franklin

Then a couple of slow jams with the ladies singing. Fanny Franklin sells the two-timed-too-many-times resignation on "Too Tired to Sleep." And Karime Kendra sings on a respectful update of Al Green's "Something." With scratchy needle sounds and all!

"Freak" by the Killer Meters [feat. Karime Kendra]

"Whatever Side You're On" begins the drum-machine, and it's got a great falsetto lead vocal from Paul Butler. It's about love and commitment and feelin' right, and it's got a swelling groove that leads to the straight to the bounce. Fanny Franklin returns to explain the facts to her unappreciative man. The lilting not-quite-reggae skank stops and starts, while Fanny struts righteous. You will appreciate!!

"Didn't I" by Darondo

The next two songs feature vocals by '70s soul obscurity Darondo, and he is truly awesome. "Stay Away From Me" starts with Darondo hailing a cab to escape his mistreating woman. Funky. "Playboy Bunny" tells the tale that must be told, that eternal story of the naked magazine model stolen all your money, spending it on international high-life vacations. Of course. Darondo manages to be wry, deflated, angry, and amused by the whole scenario - which is all you could hope for. Karime returns for a break-up kiss-off, with bottom-end funk and sass: "Your friends are loud and brash, yeah they rude, I ain't gon' try to pretend."

"Kiss the Sky" by Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra

The music's great throughout, staying in the Soul wheelhouse but moving around the territory. The vocals stand out, but arrangements really shine on repeated listens, lots of great playing and surprises in there. If only my awesome videos could show you the way... O well.

"Kill Somebody" by Shawn Lee [old-skool, 2000]

Shawn Lee's also collaborated on a couple of albums with mystery enigma Clutchy Hopkins, who is rumored to be lots of different people (including Shawn Lee). Here's the 2009 one, Fascinating Fingers. More recently relevant is A Very Ping Pong Christmas: Funky Treats from Santa's Bag (2007). The Ping Pong Orchestra also did a cover album of contemporary hits in odd styles, like Outkast's "Hey Ya" as a rowdy-salloon barrelhouse romp. Then there's Lord Newborn & The Magic Skulls [first video above], a collaboration between Shawn Lee, Money Mark (former Beastie Boys keyboardist), and Tommy Guerrero (former hotshot skater). I gotta check some of these out!

Soul in the Hole
No~Videos~At~All from Soul in the Hole (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Ubiquity Records
iTunes - Shawn Lee

Genre - Soul
Location - London, U.K.
Review - Pop Matters

Maserati/Zombi split, plus... (#2, 2009)

Earlier this year, two Headspace favorites split an album: Athens post-rockers Maserati (#2, 2007) and Chicago horror-synth proggers Zombi (#1, 2006). You could call it MaseratibmoZ or ZombitaresaM, based on each side of the cover. And lo, it was good. And there was more too!

Let's take the Maserati part first. For their side, they brought two big songs, soon to be live staples, and an intro/outro section attached to each. For some reason, the videos with the complete studio pairings have been taken down (maybe because they had advertisements for video).

"No More Sages" [live, without "Join Us, Mystic Sister" intro]

Kinda quiet, but decent sound once you turn it up (especially the bass). Whole show is streaming here. "Join Us, Mystic Sister" is almost Grails-ish, with chanting, droning, and tribal rhythms. It segues perfectly into the chug and thump that kicks off "Sages." But then there's this!

"Monoliths" [without "Thieves" outro]

That's one of the four, straight from the studio. A definite highlight song, with many nice live versions on YouTube! The Passages referred to on the video image is Maserati's other release for 2009. It contains the extremely rare, OOP, vinyl-only split-album's four songs on CD, and an apparently unreleased song. Plus three remixes, ranging from the decent/interesting (Zombi's Steve Moore remix of "Monoliths") to the horrible and unlistenable (Thee Loving Hand's butchering of "The World Outside"). At least the unreleased final track is really good, although uncharacteristically mellow for the usually hard-driving band.

"Do You Hear the Nightbirds Calling You?" from Passages (2009)

For their side, Zombi put it all into one 14-minute tune - with an extended drum solo opening.

"Infinity" [live in Pittsburgh, PA - 8/29/2009]

But Zombi wasn't done either! They had their own full album out this year, Spirit Animal. It took them into fairly new directions, adding guitars, stretching songs out even more prog-like, and seriously expanding beyond the John Carpenter-horror soundtrack vibe. You can listen to its entirety streaming here. As much as I like the album (and I do), I don't think it plays to the simpler strengths of previous albums' more focused mood-making.

"Spirit Warrior" from Spirit Animal (2009)

That's got a bit of the old-school sequencing, with a bit more Italo disco peppiness. Three of the five tracks are more epic jams, too long for a YouTube clip (11-18 minutes). That one and this one are the two more concise tunes.

"Cosmic Powers" from Spirit Animal (2009)

But then, late in the year, drummer A.E. Paterra released a 1.5xLP (three vinyl side-length jams, and a fourth side with etched art), Timespan, under the name Majeure. This is the shortest one, and I guess the single, although no better than the other two bigger helpings.

"Teleforce" from Timespan (2009)

Now, I don't want to say definitively that I prefer the solo side-project to the new Zombi album. But there's something about how it's split off from the basic roots of Zombi, in a different way than Spirit Animal has evolved, that has made me preliminarily like it more. I can see the two competing, give and take, many years for my preference. Right now, Timespan holds the edge.

So, of course that's not the end of the weirdness. Around the time Spirit Animal was released, Zombi also put out a 12" single. The A-Side was "Sapphire," which was a B-side to the 2007 "Digitalis" single, a song off of Surface to Air (#1, 2006). So, of course I made a video for one of the B-sides. Enjoy!

"Long Mirrored Corridor" from "Sapphire" 12" (2009)

I'm not calling it my favorite Zombi song, but it does show a different side. And I think it's the 2nd most obscure song in their library (I'll probably make a video in 2010 for the most obscure). And I think it's weird to be a B-side of a single for a 2-year-old B-side of a 3-year-old song.

Zombi also played some live shows this year, in both August and December. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend. I did get to catch Maserati though - see Top 10 Live Shows post. But unfortunately, didn't go to Austin to see them and Mono finish their joint tour together. O well...

What could top all that? One more day to learn the truth!!

Official - Maserati / Zombi
Myspace - Maserati / Zombi / Majeure
Purchase - Zombi: Relapse Records
Maserati/Majeure: Temporary Residence
iTunes - Maserati / Zombi / Majeure

Genre - You got your Post-Rock in my Synth-Prog!
Location - Athens, GA vs. Chicago, IL
Review - Zombi: Rock Freaks
Maserati: Strange Glue
Majeure: The Needle Drop blog

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wavering Radiant - Isis (#3, 2009)

Well, something doesn't want me finishing the Top 10 before year-end... internet breakdown, unexpected surgery, the dulling effects of painkillers. I'll see what I can do.

Isis is perfect painkiller music, or something. Often called post-metal, mainly because it's heavy and tweaks traditional song structures and imports non-metal sound textures. They've made at least a couple of really great albums, adding more ungrowly vocals and more undistorted sounds as they progressed. This album might be the culmination of both those trends, and it works!

"Hall of the Dead" [plus the rest] from Wavering Radiant (2009)

Since I'm all doped up on codeine, there's the whole album in playlist form, and I'll just find some cool videos for highlights... It looks like Isis fans have done my work for me!

"Ghost Key"

"Hand of the Host" [live in Montreal]

Title track interlude...

"Stone to Wake a Serpent"

"20 Minutes/40 Years" [official]

"Threshold of Transformation"

Ugh. Hope I have more for tomorrow, because #2 and #1 will take more effort than this!

Wavering Radiant
Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Relapse Records
iTunes - Isis

Genre - Thinking Man's Metal
Location - Los Angeles, CA
Review - Metal Sucks

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top 10 Live Shows of 2009!!!

...that I attended.

10. Thee Oh Sees / Young Mammals / Wild Moccasins
March 16 - Notsuoh - Houston, TX [poster]

"Block of Ice" from Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion (2008)

A couple of local H-pop bands open for someone I never heard. All brought the energy and sounded good, despite playing directly into a brick wall just across from the stage. I bought Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion LP/dvd (2008), from whence the video above. The Fresh & Onlys cancelled - never heard them either. Cook attended.

9. Baroness / Dark Castle
December 8 - Warehouse Live - Houston [photos]

"A Horse Called Golgotha" - Baroness live, SF, CA (12/1/09)

I was expecting this to be top 5 material, but the guitar-weak mix and endless arty interludes wore thin... Still a very good show when it was rockin'. Two-piece opener Dark Castle was heavy, hilarious, outrageous, and seriously entertaining. So I bought the Spirited Migration cd (2009). Missed Texan metal maniacs Iron Age, though. CNL, MR, TN and BB were there.

8. MV+EE / Linus Pauling Quartet
January 31 - Rudyard's - Houston [poster]

"Drone Trailer," MV+EE live, NYC, NY (1/20/09)

More local heroes opening for unknown touring bands. This time, the quieter, droney, freak-folkers MV+EE headlined by playing before the heavy noisemaking of LP4. It worked well. I liked the mellowness, the occasional noise, the steel guitar, the folk and the freak. Linus raged hard. I bought a couple of live cd's: Black Ark/White Egg (L.A., 2007) and July Cottenflower ("Psyraguse" NY, 2006). Alone.

7. Mono
September 22 - Walter's On Washington - Houston [poster]

"Lost Snow," Mono live, Walter's, Houston (5/21/06)

You can read the original review of a great show. I bought the vinyl for You Are There (#5, 2006). MS went with me.

6. Bob Dylan / Willie Nelson / John Cougar
August 2 - Mitchell Pavilion - The Woodlands, TX [setlist]

"If You Ever Go to Houston," Bob Dylan live, 2009

My only complaint was too many legends! A looong show, got there at 5pm for an unknown country-ish band, who were pretty decent. Mellencamp was better than expected. He's a real showman, and his adult contemporary folk mixed well with the crowd-pleasing roots-rocking. Willie Nelson had a weird band set-up, but he's the man (as always). Dylan actually played guitar on the first couple of songs, then switched to his now-usual keyboards. Probably the best I've seen him since the first time, also at Cynthia Woods Mitchell. D&E made it to this one!

5. Isis / Pelican
May 21 - Meridian - Houston [poster]

"Hall of the Dead," Isis live, Atlanta, GA (5/28/09)

Pelican was so-so, remaining at the periphery of my musical interest. Isis was spectacular, everything was so perfect. Definitely one of the best-sounding concerts I've heard recently, and probably the best of the year. All the quiet stuff was super-clear, and the heaviness pummelled - without ever becoming painful. They played really well, all together the whole way. I bought side-project releases: taiga's hsheal LP (2008) and House of Low Culture's Submarine Immersion Techniques, Vol. 1 CD (2000). MR attended.

4. Dungen / Woods
August 21 - The Mohawk - Austin, TX [poster]

Dungen live, The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY (8/14/09)

I went in with high expectations for Dungen (#5, 2008), but Woods blew me away with their skewed psychedelic-folk-rock-pop. Dungen then exceeded expectations with a sprawling, diverse mass of live jams, pure pop, and excellent playing in the band. We also saw several groups beforehand do a Pink Floyd cover-fest next door. I bought the vinyl release of the full "Samtidigt" jam (2009), available on the first Astral Headspace comp! DB made the trek.

3. Jandek
April 5 - Rudyard's - Houston, TX

Jandek live, Rudyard's, Houston (4/5/09)

Jaw-dropping. The first hometown show ever by independent underground avant-garde weird-music icon Jandek. And it's three epic funk jams, with serious-style backing band. My jaw was quite literally dropped! MS in the house.

2. Maserati / Golden Cities
October 19 - The Mink - Houston

"Monoliths," Maserati live, Denton, TX (10/16/2009)

Sure, I liked Maserati (#2, 2007) already, quite a bit. But I could convince no-one else to go with me. Having been burned by super-early starts, I went at a normal time. And waited... then grabbed dinner, and went back... and waited. Then the first of three bands wasn't sounding so good. More downtime. Ok, I liked Golden Cities' album okay, and they were good live, but there were several times I thought about giving up and going home. But I was so glad to have stuck it out. One of the best (albeit short) shows I've seen in a long, long time! Read the original post from just afterwards. I stocked up, buying both vinyl LP's and a rare 7", plus the nice poster from their previous show in Austin opening for Mono. (Still regret not going... but I would have been all alone there too.)

1. Roky Erickson
June 24, 2009 - Continental Club - Houston, TX [review]

"You're Gonna Miss Me," Roky Erickson live, Houston (6/24/09)

Having been a fan of Roky Erickson's for well over 20 years, loving the music, empathizing with the man, expecting never to see him live, then watching him right there on stage, maybe six feet away... playing and singing with a strength I could never have expected... it was huge!! Many times more than just seeing a favorite performer and/or living legend. One of the most unforgettable, magical, and stunning experiences of my life - nevermind live music, nevermind 2009. Fortunately, a ton of friends got to share the experience.

I bought a poster, which hilariously misprints the date as "2008!"

Roky Erickson

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hymn to the Immortal Wind - Mono
(#4, 2009)

I've covered Tokyo's Mono here quite a bit in the short history, primarily because they are practically flawless. Now flawlessness might not be what you're looking for in music, but it's a rare quality indeed. Up until now, You Are There (#5, 2006) has been accorded
"best Mono album" honors, and it's terrific. But I think that might change going forward...

"Ashes in the Snow" from Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009)

This year's offering is a grand 2xLP package, with a very nice set of painting/prose inserts that complements each song's cinematic sweep. The lead-off song, "Ashes in the Snow" [live], opens with a quiet storm of noise distortion and delicate xylophone before the lyrical, entwining guitars begin the long journey. This album also boasts the largest orchestra set-up they've used, and they employ it to maximum emotional effect. As with most of their tunes, quiet sections evoke sadness, loneliness, and the snow-muted calm of winter. Those parts then burst into explosions of bombast and guitar volume. Other than the improved/expanded use of strings, the main technical achievement here is that all the abrupt edges have been smoothed down. Everything flows even more songlike than ever before. I won't go on about each song's quiet/loud, sad/outburst dynamics. Each song flows differently despite structural similarities, just consider it a given.

Like in the second track, "Burial at Sea," which takes a long march of swells and retreats before the battery really commences. "Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn" provides a relatively shorter, subdued break in the action.

"Pure as Snow" from Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009)

When I saw Mono earlier this year, "Pure As Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)" was one of the unexpected standouts. It had never especially grabbed my attention, but the live version has really made it one of my favorites here. Then, there's the very short (for Mono) highlight track, "Follow the Map." I assume it's the highlight track because there's an official video for it.

And the album ends with two more excellent epics of instrumental post-rock finesse, "The Battle to Heaven" [live] and "Everlasting Light."

"Everlasting Light" from Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009)

So, fantastic album... #4 of the whole year, in my estimation. Not much time for the top 3, so I'd better get cracking. I heartily recommend this one, Mono's previous few albums, seeing them live, and so forth!

Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Temporary Residence Ltd.
iTunes - Mono

Genre - Cinematic Heartstring Post-Rock
Location - Tokyo, Japan
Review - The Antiquiet

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In A Dark Tongue - Harvestman (#5, 2009)

Harvestman's In A Dark Tongue, subject of the premiere Cover Art post! One of the solo side projects from Steve von Till, of Neurosis. He calls it Heathen Psych, and it's mystical earth-ritual dark ambient guitar music.

"Karlsteine" from In A Dark Tongue (2009)

I put together videos for quite a few of the songs, while my internet was disconnected. Feel free to browse around, there's good music afoot.

"Birch-Wood Bower" and "Music of the Dark Torrent" from
In A Dark Tongue (2009)

Someone else did a song: "Headless Staves of Poets!" And the one after that comes from back in the early days: "The Hawk of Achill."

"Carved in Aspen" and "Light Cycle" from In A Dark Tongue (2009)

Psych guitar solo noise project ambience, and one of the albums I listened to the most in 2009.

In A Dark Tongue
Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Neurot Recordings
iTunes - Harvestman

Genre - Mystical Pagan Dark Ambient
Location - Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Review - Stoner Rock

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Somethings Free or Cheaply

Haven't done a Free Music post in awhile, so in the spirit of the season... my gift to you!

"Botanomancer (Sap Cave of the Magi)" from Snailface (2009)

Not sure how I went without ever posting my #18 Metal record of 2009, Snailface's self-titled debut. Well, it's a side project of Kowloon Walled City, a band I still haven't listened to. It's dope-y doom metal, and really good for a 6-day record-making challenge. GO HERE for the free music!

Machinarium Original Soundtrack (2009)

Next up is a free bonus EP of songs from the awesome independent videogame puzzler, Machinarium. Along with a special deal on offer! You can get the game, a second Samorost 2, the .MP3 soundtracks for both, and some other - all for $10!! Until Christmas... Try before you buy: Machinarium demo, Samorost 2 demo. And the FREE BONUS EP of Eastern European ambient electronics!

"Beautiful World" from Ballin' Outrageous (2009)

Finally, in the meta-list of lists, I mentioned Artrocker's ambitious Top 100. It ended up that their #1 album of 2009 was Ballin' Outrageous by the Zookeepers... Uh. I haven't really given it a chance, but kind of seems like Animal Collective mixed with brokeNCYDE. You can buy it or GET IT FREE HERE.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Children of the Sun" and Volume Two
The Time & Space Machine (#6, 2009)

Sorry for the delay - internet outage makes internet blog posting rough. Fortunately, I had some alchemical components for some video-makin'...

Beyond the Wizards Sleeve, #1 in 2008! But here, it is only the Richard Norris half, as The Time & Space Machine. And here, he's tweaking and compiling more purely classic '60s psychedelic pop, rather than the BTWS genre grab-bag. Let's start with this year's 7" single: "Children of the Sun" b/w "Zeitghost."

"Children of the Sun" & "Zeitghost" from the 7" (2009)

Totally groovy and hippy, and irony-free! The B-side was originally on Volume One (2008), which is also worth it. Great stuff, and I think Top 10 standing alone. But this year, the Machine also gave us Volume Two!

"Time & Space Taxi" and "Only Dreaming" from Volume Two (2009)

Even before putting them in a video together, I linked the first two tracks... in my mind! The spacily floating astral taxi'ing seems to lead naturally into the nightmare freakout of bizarre nugget unearthing. That's one hell of a retro-cover-reimagining being remixed and compiled. I'm almost afraid to find out who did that. Volume Two also boasts a hearty slice of exploitation-a-go-go organ 'n' audio-collage, "Psychedelic Circus." There are a couple more songs on the EP, but the final homebrew from Two is the closing epic: "Through (Your Mind)." [Full credit: I did nothing creative with the source video loop, by Alonzo E. Houston, found here.]

And then, right as I was starting to prepare the preliminary Top 10, BAM!! The Time & Space Machine released another EP, You Are the One (Nov 2009). I haven't spent as much time with it, but it goes a little closer to traditional remix electronica for what I seek. Here's the title track. Still pretty spacey psych, so we'll see... Let's just call it a bonus gift for the holidays. It does have a song called "More Cowbell," which I found unexpected.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something in my dash to catch up, but it's probably not The Time & Space Machine's remix work for modern bands. So far, like BTWS, the new-music mixes just don't really grab me (although I haven't heard his one for The Yellow Moon Band yet).

Volume Two
Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Turntable Lab
iTunes - The Time & Space Machine

Genre - Psychedelic/Psychedelic/Psychedelic
Location - London, England
Review - Fly Global Music

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Year-End List o' Year-End Lists

What would December be without lists, to summarize? And especially lists that summarize other lists?? So, here are 10 Year-End round-ups - some from places I go-to regularly, others for various other reasons...

#10 Drowned in Sound is up to #3: It's Blitz, by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

#9 Tiny Mix Tapes' Favorite 50. #1... Merriweather Post Pavilion.

#8 Paste Magazine has a Top 25. #1? The only album better than MPP!!

#7 Treble Zine's Top 50. Up to #21: Actor from St. Vincent.

#6 The A.V. Club's Top 25... topped by Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix!

#5 One list from Dusted Magazine's many contributors'.

#4 Pitchfork has done their Honorable Mentions, and starts a two-day Top 50 fest tomorrow.

Monoliths and Dimensions
#3 The Quietus has an un-list of 20. Which un-counts up to Sunn O)))'s Monoliths and Dimensions.

#2 For ambition, Artrocker's list of 100, currently up to #41: Watch Me Fall by Jay Reatard.

#1 And finally, the Pop Matters smorgasbord, including an overall best sixty (MPP), 20 best Metal (Cobalt's Gin), and top 10 Pyschedelic (#2 is Woods' Songs of Shame). Plus more!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blue Record - Baroness (#7, 2009)
Warehouse Live, 12/8/2009

Baroness, #1 in 2007!

You can read my initial impressions, because they're about where I've ended up on this one. It's consistently great, mixing in some quieter stuff, bringing in some cleaner back-up vocals, and generally progging up the brutal, modern metal.

So, here's the official video for "A Horse Called Golgotha," which lends more credence to those Mastodon comparisons than I'd credited. Mystical, epic, narrative, wacky!

Also got to check out Baroness last Tuesday, live in Houston, at Warehouse Live! When rocking the songs, they were really good. But I could have used about 50% more guitar volume throughout. Also, the psychedelic interludes didn't do much for me, "Steel That Sleeps the Eye" ending up just a mess (both instrumentally and vocally). Dark Castle opened and were an interesting act. Female sludge-effects guitar and Black Metal vocals, with male grooveless, free drumming and back-up hollering. Missed Iron Age though...

Since I couldn't find a video from the show, there's one from last year at Rudyard's!

Blue Record
Official/Myspace -
Purchase - Relapse Records
iTunes - Baroness

Genre - New Wave of Southern Boogie Stoner Prog Metal
Location - Savannah, GA
Review - Dusted Magazine

Monday, December 14, 2009

Witch Cults of the Radio Age

This indecision's bugging me! I can't decide whether to buy the new collaboration, Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (2009), from Broadcast and The Focus Group (obviously).

Very cool new video today, via Pitchfork:

Here's the "audio trailer," which has intrigued me...

And finally, a whole song - "The Be Colony." I've never listened to Broadcast, but I've heard about a good reputation. Nor The Focus Group, though I like other hauntologists on the Ghost Box Music label.

It's kind of cut-up, kind of Pink Floyd... kind of crazy, kind of sweet. Maybe next year?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Next 10 (Non-Metal) of 2009

So we've had the Next 10 of Metal list. And now... the Next 10
(#'s 11-20) of Non-Metal music!! Quite the festival of diversity.

#20 Checkmate Savage - The Phantom Band

Checkmate Savage
"Folksong Oblivion" from Checkmate Savage (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Amazon
iTunes - The Phantom Band
Lala - Checkmate Savage

Genre - Post-Punk Folk-Prog Power-Pop
Location - Scotland, U.K.
Review - Drowned in Sound

A new band that does a wide variety of stuff fairly well, building a pretty good debut album as a whole. I realize that doesn't sound like high praise. But for every time it seems like a re-tooled Stranglers, there's two times to sound like a mod Wall of Voodoo or a krautrock Human League.

#19 Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective

Merriweather Post Pavilion
"My Girls" from Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

Myspace -
Unofficial -
Purchase - Domino Records
iTunes - Animal Collective
Lala - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Genre - Sunny Loopy Electro-Pop
Location - Connecticut/Portugal
Review - Pitchfork

Sure to top many a year-end list, I like this better than I did originally. But it's no Person Pitch (#10, 2007). Still, Animal Collective generally misses a mark with me, being a band I like the idea of better than the actual music. Of course there's a full album playlist, so you can check out what's hip in 2009!

#18 Siegfried - The Calm Blue Sea

Siegfried: An Original Score (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Offical Site store
iTunes - The Calm Blue Sea
Lala - Siegfried

Genre - Post-Rock
Location - Austin, TX
Review - AWmusic

A double-cd score for the 1924 silent film by Fritz Lang. The playlist embedded above has the whole movie synched to the album. Nice package and a lot of really good music, if you dig the post-rock. Which I do.

#17 From an Ancient Star - Belbury Poly

From an Ancient Star
"The Hidden Door" from From an Ancient Star (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Greedbag
iTunes - Belbury Poly
Lala - From an Ancient Star

Genre - Hauntological Electro-Experimental
Location - Britain
Review - Weirdo Music

A little more beaty than usual, but not really in any danceable way. Somewhere on the spectrum between the BBC Radiophonic Workshop of "Doctor Who" and the proto-Moog sequencer-rama of Hot Butter
"Popcorn." There always seems to be some simple melody way upfront, which repeats until it blurs into the background, and then you notice all the crazy stuff going on in the background.

#16 Faking Gold and Murder - AEthenor

Faking Gold and Murder
"Faking Gold and Murder I" (2009)

Official/Myspace -
Blogspot - /aethenor...
Purchase - VHF Records
iTunes - AEthenor
Lala - Faking Gold and Murder

Genre - Experimental Dark Jazz
Location - Miscellaneous
Review - Metal Reviews

Four more slabs o' weird, this time with surreal incantations from Current 93's David Tibet. A bit more song-oriented than Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light (#7, 2006), what with lyrics and everything. And more trap drum kit. But still really experimental and spacy, and nuts. Part IV is probably the mellowest thing they've done.

#15 Summer Sessions, Vol. 1-3 - Causa Sui

Summer Sessions, Vol. 3
"Red Valley" from Summer Sessions, Vol. 3 (2009)
"Cinecittà" from Summer Sessions, Vol. 2 (2009)
"Everglides" from Summer Sessions, Vol. 1 (2008)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Elektrohasch Records
iTunes - Causa Sui
Lala - Summer Sessions Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3

Genre - Jam Danish
Location - Denmark
Review - Aural Innovations (Vol. 1)

Only volumes 2 and 3 were released this year, on very limited vinyl. But now a re-release CD of all three Summer Sessions Volumes is available, directly from Electrohasch. And Vol. 1 (2008) is really the best one... especially the kick-off epic "Visions of Summer!" But get them all.

#14 Black Devil Doll OST & Euro Slash - Giallos Flame

Black Devil Doll
Trailer for Black Devil Doll (2009)

Official/Myspace -
Soundtrack Myspace -
Blogspot - /giallosflame...
Purchase - Film's official store
iTunes - The Giallos Flame
Lala - Euro Slash

Genre - Horror Soundtrack Italo
Location - Dunwich, U.K. Lovecraft
Review - FearNET (Euro Slash)

As I always say, The Giallos Flame are the Lucio Fulci's Fabio Frizzi as Zombi is the Dario Argento's Goblin. Black Devil Doll is more funky, but it's an all different sort of exploitation soundtrack. And really, they do an admirable job in a different genre, while staying pretty true to that Giallos sound. Very little on YouTube, so maybe next week I'll put some 2009 stuff together, but for now:
this and that.

#13 Embryonic - The Flaming Lips

"Convinced of the Hex" [live] from Embryonic (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Flaming Lips Store [CD / 2xLP]
iTunes - The Flaming Lips
Lala - Embryonic

Genre - Maximum Freak-Out Guitar-Pop
Location - Oklahoma City, OK
Review - The Guardian (UK)

I think I summarized my feelings in the original review (click album title above the cover). This could have been a Top 10 of the year, and a top-tier Flaming Lips album, with some editing and polish. But who knows where that would have ended up? As is, a solid package with a lot of good material, and some interesting variations. Good listening when the mood strikes.

#12 Wilco (the album) - Wilco

Wilco (the album)
"Bull Black Nova" from Wilco (2009)

Official -
Unofficial Myspace -
Purchase - Kung Fu store
iTunes - Wilco
Lala - Wilco (the album)

Genre -
Location - Chicago, IL
Review - Spin

Best Wilco album since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)! They were kind of losing me there for awhile. Great batch of songs, and I always like hearing something Quiet Beatlesque. Also, the Ashes of American Flag dvd was released and is more than excellent, if you like mixed performance-interview movies.

#11 Totem One - Master Musicians of Bukkake

Totem One
"Schism/Prism" [live] from Totem One (2009)

Official/Myspace -
Purchase/.mp3 - Conspiracy Records
Lala - 30-sec samples of Totem One

Genre - Psychedelic/Acoustic/Black Metal
Location - Seattle
Review - Monochrom

Eastern-tinged experimental jams, from a 20-person collaborative (or thereabouts). All of the songs sound pretty different, but they're all weird and groovy and trippy and mystical. Lots of desert-nomad drums and bells, ululating tribal chants, plucked strings and soaring psych solos.

Embryonic Litho
Out of town for the weekend, except for a record convention. So I'll get more posts and videos up early next week. I'll try to get missing stuff from this list on the YouTube, and hook you up.

Have a good one!