Monday, December 31, 2007

Pearls Before Swine - One Nation Underground (1967) + Balaklava (1968)

A tragically underlooked talent that is only now beginning to receive the renown he/they deserve, Tom Rapp and his Pearls Before Swine emerged from the oversaturated 60's folk-rock scene with a strangely timeless surrealist sound unlike any of their contemporaries. Rapp's echo-drenched lisp winds bittersweetly through a maze of styles and tempos here, from old-timey pieces ('Guardian Angel', see below) and faux-raga ('I Shall Not Care') to rousing garage/folk ('Uncle John'), and the moods achieved across these albums are simply too numerous to count. Located somewhere in the same sonic universe as 'Highway 61'-era Dylan and the 13th Floor Elevators, Pearls Before Swine are simply one-of-a-kind, the work of a bona fide rock'n'roll genius (I am tempted to say 'auteur') and a high watermark in the acid-folk tradition. On a personal note, these two albums - which represent the band's work on independent labels - were among the few I had with me on my journeys in India last fall, earning them an especially special place in my rainbow-colored heart.

get them here

The Trees Community - The Christ Tree Box Set (1975; reissued 2007)

One of the more unique musical statements you're likely to hear in this lifetime, The Christ Tree box is a retrospective collection of Christian acid-folk troubadours The Trees Community, a wandering band of Jesus People who composed haunting, lushen reinterpretations of classic and contemporary hymnals. With more than 80 instruments played by only seven members, The Trees Community explore a compelling space between religious and psychedelic consciousness, mixing hippie communitarianism with Christian agape to produce a powerful alternative to contemporary fundamentalisms. My own discomfort with devotional music aside, this collection ranks among the finest psych-folk I've come across, its lyrical tone serving as icing on an already freaky cake. Check out 'Psalm 42' below, guaranteed to soothe even the most Satanic beast within.

excellent allmusic review

downloads: disc one - disc two - disc three - disc four

Manuel Göttsching - Inventions for Electric Guitar (1974)

While technically credited to his Ash Ra Tempel / Ashra outfit, Inventions for Electric Guitar is in fact a Manuel Göttsching solo exercise, following the legendary space-rocker through a series of complex tape delays to produce three ambient prog epics somewhat reminiscent of Robert Fripp's 'Frippertronics' work with (and without) Brian Eno. While there are plenty of tape-delay masterworks out there to sort trhough, IFEG stakes out its own claim to worthiness on Göttsching's incredible speed and precision, along with a fine sense for mood and - dare I say it - negative space. What I love about this piece is its listening dynamism: while it can certainly be appreciated as an ambient piece, those who pay close attention are rewarded with countless intricacies that are all to more impressive when one considers that all sounds here were produced with a single electric guitar.


get it here

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Aural Fit - Livestock (Tokyo, 2004)

Another lucky internet find for yours truly, Aural Fit embody just about everything I seek in music, an insanely heavy, sludgedout headfest meant strictly for fucking minds. On this live album from 2004, the blues are lit aflame and then shredded through layers of bellowing squeal, descending into harsh, psychedelic noise before being twisted back into AMT Cosmic Inferno-like jams. Not for the faint of heart.


get it here

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

鉄アレイ (Tetsu Arei) - 鉄アレイ II

Heard about these Tokyo hardcore legends (whose name, by the way, translates as 'Iron Dumbbell') from my friend Kohei, who used to play with one of their former members in the equally ubiquitous Extinct Government. Apparently these guys were one of the original hardcore punk bands to form in Japan, and their super-heavy sound makes this a good deal more interesting than your average throw-away hardcore album. Don't get me wrong; these guys are as punked out as they get, but it's the way they combine typically catchy street-punk screamalongs with Sabbath-esque guitar sludge that gives them an edge up on the competition. Unfortunately, my inability to read Japanese makes finding album art and further info impossible, but luckily that won't prevent you from enjoying the songs.

get it here

The Klubs - Midnight Love Cycle (1968)

I found out about The Klubs completely by chance, stumbling across their album labeled as that of the "Best Freakbeat band ever," Freakbeat being the psychedelic variant of the Merseybeat sound most famously represented on the Beatles' earliest recordings. While I am hardly enough of an authority to verify this claim, it is hands down one of the best undiscovered gems of the late 60's UK psych scene, a melodic, fuzzy exploration fusing an early rock'n'roll backbeat with spacey vocals and eerie guitarwork. Throw in some of the warmest lo-fi production imaginable and one of the very best cuts of the era ("Can't Ebenezer See My Mind") and you've got yourself an unqualified forgotten classic. The expanded CD edition includes alternate versions and some unreleased tracks from subsequent spin-offs.

Official Website

get it here

edit: I left out Tracks #13-17 - some live versions from a 1999 reunion show - in order to post the album to Sharebee. At your collective request, here they are.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Melvins - Lysol (1992) + Houdini (1993)

Two classic slabs of steaming riffage from WA grunge godfathers The Melvins, Lysol and Houdini stand as two especially high points in an all-around stellar career, the former representing the band's heavy, sludgey excess while the latter (partially produced by, and featuring, none other than Kurt Cobain himself) shows the groups twisted pop sensibilities. Since making these albums, the two main Melvins (drummer Dale Crover and guitarist/singer King Buzzo) have cycled through a number of bassists, and the currently consists of a four-piece with the addition of Karp's Jared Warren and and drummer Coady Willis (formerly of the Murder City Devils). I'll be seeing the Melvs for the third time in about as many months on Dec. 30th, and if they come to your town you probably should too; the tandem drumming alone makes them one of the best acts around right now.

allmusic: Lysol // Houdini

get it here

Kawabata Makoto and the Mothers of Invasion - Hot Rattlesnakes (2006)

Yet another side project from Acid Mothers Temple mastermind/speed guru Kawabata Makoto, Hot Rattlesnakes takes Makoto's typically fuzz-laden cosmic riffing into intriguingly ambient territory, most notably on middle track Fripian Flipped Over Niffy Their King of Frippery. Those who like his material with AMT should feel right at home here, and these Mothers might even ending up converting an acolyte or two. Highly recommended.


get it right here

Boogie Down Productions - By All Means Necessary (1988)


Classic POLITICAL hip-hop, you'll be recognizing familiar samples left and right, nothing else to say really. 5 1/2 Stars (out of 5).


rock it here

p.s. This is my first actual blog post. I am very proud of myself right now.