Friday, May 20, 2005

Songs & Sounds of the Sea / Star Wars / Fresh KRUD

*whew* School's finally finishing up for the year, and even though I only take classes part-time it gets tough to take both school part-time while working full time during the year as well... hopefully now that it's summer I'll be able to keep up with this site a bit more now... then again, I end up saying that each time I update and then I disappear for another few months. Well, hopefully this post should make it worthwhile - two out of print albums and a radio show for your listening pleasure!

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Songs & Sounds of the Sea


I don't know if you remember, but the last proper update I did was of the album Mellow With Ale from the Horn by John Roberts and Tony Barrand... this album, published by National Geographic (one of the last groups I'd expect to be publishing music, most people - myself included - usually know National Geographic for their excellent articles and fantastic photography). This album also features John Roberts and Tony Barrand, as well as about another half-dozen folk singers, all doing sea shanties with sound-effects that make you feel like you're putting out to sea on an old whaling expedition. It's very authentic-sounding, and it was kind of amusing to read people's reactions to similar albums currently available for purchase and lament the fact that this album was so much better and how their record player has since died and they can't listen to it anymore. Yes, the effect this album has at making you feel as if you're at sea is that good...



The record album itself has a fantastic "booklet" (actually part of the album's cover, it opens for more pages with info and diagrams about old sailing ships as well as all the lyrics), and as part of the booklet it has several pictures, each awesome to see.







This has been recorded from an old record we've had here for ages, and I have to say that the quality isn't that bad - except for the rare skips due to regular use of the record, it's a pretty enjoyable listen. I would have had this album up here ages ago, except I was trying to scan in more of the booklet because it really is a nice addition to the music, and very informative too. Unfortunately, with the size of the album being too large of a size when opened to fit on the scanner, and attempts at combining bits and pieces of scans together not working well, you'll just have to settle for those few scans of images from the album and look at those when you listen to these:

Along The Pier / Clear Away the Track
The Dreadnought
Money in Both Pockets
Blow, Ye Winds
Boston Harbor (With A Big Bow Wow)
Jolly Roving Tar
Patsy Campbell
The Whale Catchers
Wheat in the Ear
The Little Beggar Man
Johnny Todd
Sail Away, Ladies
The Diamond
Deil Stick The Minister
Rio Grande
Old Molly Hare
Can't You Dance The Polka
Fiddle Medley
Captain Kidd
Liverpool Hornpipe
Queer Bungo Rye
Devil Among The Tailors
Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her


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Star Wars: by The Electronic Moog Orchestra

A Galaxy Far, Far Away has once again come to A Theater Near You, so to celebrate its return (ssh, I haven't seen it yet, don't tell me anything about it!) I've got another out o' print album for you to check out: "Star Wars" as performed by The Electronic Moog Orchestra.

If you don't know what a Moog organ is, this can help out much more than I can ever say about it, except that the music produced by a Moog synthesizer is very odd and unearthly... kind of like disco! This album - though it's all songs from the original movie - made sure to let people know that it wasn't the original soundtrack with a special notice on the cover notifying people... I could just imagine people buying the record hoping to hear John Williams and getting electronic beeps and boops instead!

Most of the songs on this album don't really translate well to a Moog synthesizer... "The Imperial March", for example, starts off ok, but soon it evolves into more of a disco hit, and even from there it soon sounds like a bad cover of "In A Gadda-Da-Vida" with random guitar twangs and such. Other tracks (or "Cantina Band" more specifically) sound like what the Moog synthesizer was specifically designed for, and as a result I think that it even surpasses the original version!

Main Title
Leia's Theme
Imperial Attack
Ben's Death & TIE Fighter Attack
Cantina Band
Throne Room & End Credits


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Fresh KRUD

Recently Dave and I were able to record our own mini radio show along with my friend and co-worker Keith - it's actually about 72 minutes long (fits perfectly on a cd!), and we go over a few different songs that we've talked about on here in a little more depth and also introduce some new stuff that we're going to be posting about soon as well. Keith also has a 'zine he writes for ("Undisputed") that covers some local goings-on for the Baltimore area, as well as articles on all sorts of various entertainment stuff - they've even got an interview with Baltimore Oriole Brian Roberts in the latest edition - not too shabby! They've been trying to give the magazine away (as in FREE!) at various record stores and such around the area, but if you're interested in getting a copy of the magazine or seeing what they're about you can send the crew an email at undisputed.magazine@verizon.net... if you'd like to check out our radio show and hear what we sound like as amateur radio djs, give us a listen here... not only would you get to hear what we sound like and hear us making fools of ourselves (as well as hearing my laptop's fan come on :P), but you'd also get to hear what we're going to be posting about in the upcoming weeks, and at the very end you get a special listening treat and info about hearing more of that listening treat, so give it a listen!

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Good Ol' Days of Static-X


Ken Jay (Drums), Koichi Fukuda (Guitars, Programming), Wayne Static (Lead Vocals, Guitars, Programming), Tony Campos (Bass, Vocals)

I used to love Static-X back when they released their debut album, Wisconsin Death Trip. That album took a unique approach to industrial metal as it sounded more machine-like than anything I had heard previously. And Static-X has a warped sense of humor, which added to the music's personality. You only have to see the music video for "I'm with Stupid" to realize just how warped they can be.

However, their machine-like sound was gone when Koichi Fukuda left the band and was replaced by Tripp Eisen. The loss of their unique sound was especially ironic considering that Static-X's second album was called Machine. Then things just went downhill from there. I disliked Shadow Zone even more than Machine and I have no hope for their most recent release, Beneath... Between... Beyond..., which is just a collection of B-sides and rarities in any case.

But I still like to go back and listen to Wisconsin Death Trip every once in a while since it's such a good album. And the final track on the album, "December," is probably the best example of their talent. It has a harsh ambience that keeps building up until it reaches an emotionally chaotic climax, which is eventually taken over by ear piercing static. Wayne Static's whispered vocal delivery is much different from his singing on the rest of the album and makes for an interesting change of pace. It also creates a sense of overwhelming hopelessness when his whispering voice is being drowned out by the chugging guitars and ambient noise. This is one of the songs I usually listen to when I'm feeling very melancholy.

Buy Static-X's album Wisconsin Death Trip

Static-X - December

Additional KRUD
1) That band photo is terrible. Unfortunately, it was the only one I could find of the original line-up that didn't have horribly low quality.

2) I'm officially making the switch from MP3 to M4A. So all posts from now on, including this one, will have songs in M4A format. Yeah, not really that big a deal. Just thought I'd mention it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

American French Pop


Elinore Blake (a.k.a. April March)

The title of this post is somewhat misleading since it would have you thinking that someone in America was recording French pop. The truth is that this post is about an American artist in France. The American I'm talking about is April March who has had an interesting and expansive career which has included writing and animating for Ren & Stimpy, recording several unreleased demos with Brian Wilson, and playing with a number of bands (i.e. the Makers, Los Cincos, and the Shitbirds). Recently, however, she released her second solo album, Triggers, with the help of French pop producer Bertrand Burgalat.


Bertrand Burgalat & April March

On Triggers, April March and Bertrand Burgalat look back at the French pop of the 60's and reintroduce it to a new era of music. What results is a charmingly beautiful album with March's light, airy vocals adding the perfect dose of sweetness to each track. And every song seems to explore new musical directions while still maintaining the same feel as the rest of the album. The result is a varied and yet stable sound throughout Triggers.

Take, for example, two tracks that appear next to each other: "Somewhere Up Above" and "Coral Bracelet." The former sounds more like a pop flavored, uptempo indie rock song whereas the latter has a sweeter, more laid back sound that is not quite as heavy on the guitars as the former. "Coral Barcelet" also sounds like something from a spy movie in between the choruses, which demonstrates another point about April March's music: it can be stylistically frantic within a song. Like I was saying about "Coral Bracelet" it sounds like a spy movie song at first and then goes into sugary sweet, high spirited chorus filled with symphonic ambience. Then it goes back to sounding like spy movie material. The chorus also expands every time you hear it, so it will be much more complex later in the song than the first time through. But like I said before, the music maintains a steady balance no matter how adventurous it may get.

Buy April March's album Triggers

April March - Somewhere Up Above
April March - Coral Bracelet

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Madvillain(y)


Madvillain: Madlib (Beats) & MF Doom (MC)

If you're looking for something new and different from the hip hop scene, look no further than Madvillain, a collaborative project between Madlib and MF Doom. Mixing those two together results in some really strange music. You get Madlib's off the wall beats and MF Doom's crazy vocal delivery combining to form something so unconventionally pleasing that you will have a brand new appreciation for your sense of hearing.

On Madvillainy, their only full length release to date, Madvillain flows through 22 quick tracks that, despite their short play time, leave you feeling completely satisfied. For instance, the second track, "Accordion," clocks in at just under two minutes, but its unique musical arrangement combined with MF Doom's incredible lyrical skills provides a full meal within the confines of a snack.

"America's Most Blunted" featuring Lord Quas is a hilarious song about... well, you can probably guess what it's about just by the title. But this song shows just how wacky Madvillain can get. Take the lines, "DOOM nominated for the best rolled L's / And they wonder how he dealt with stress so well / Wild guess - you could say he stay sedated." Not only are those line funny as hell, they are also very well written. Needless to say, "America's Most Blunted" is an odd song.

And the oddities continue with "Do Not Fire!" which is a solo instrumental done by Madlib. Filled with samples from all over the spectrum, including Street Fighter II, it's the perfect example of just how crazy Madlib's beats can get.

Then there's "Eye" featuring Stacy Epps, which is probably one of the most conventional tracks on the album, but it still maintains that insane, Madvillainous quality. It sounds like a slow jam, but in the typical, radio friendly slow jam the lead singer's voice isn't usually affected and distorted to the point where it's hard to tell what she's saying. That's what happens in "Eye." Usually in the typical mainstream slow jam, the lead singer is the highlight while the beat is just there for support and could never really work on its own. That's what's awesome about Madlib's beats: you could remove MF Doom's vocals from all of the tracks and the album would still be interesting. But Madvillainy is definitely better with MF Doom in the mix since that's the way it was recorded.

Buy Madvillain's album Madvillainy

Madvillain - Accordion
Madvillain feat. Lord Quas - America's Most Blunted
Madvillain - Do Not Fire! (Instrumental)
Madvillain feat. Stacy Epps - Eye

Raised Fist


Raised Fist

There's nothing quite like some kickin' hardcore punk. That's why Raised Fist really hits the spot when you've got the urge. This Swedish band is incredibly fast and aggressive while still being acceptable to a more diverse audience, because even though they viciously assault your ears with a brutal sonic attack, they have a very clean delivery. You can make out every note and every beat throughout the frantic drumming and roaring guitars. Each song isn't just a mish mash of noise, it's a carefully arranged musical strike that will blow you away.

On their most recent album, Dedication, Raised Fist provides a strong sampling of what they're capable. Take the raging first track "Get This Right!" as an example. The intensely quick drum solo that starts it off is enough to sum up their sound; it goes at a million miles a second but is so smoothly performed that you can make out each beat. Then, soon after, the lead vocalist comes in screaming in a voice that would make Fred Durst go cry in a corner. Backed by roaring guitars the song speeds along and never slacks off, especially near the end when the song fades away with a very strong riff. The lyrics are also pretty decent. They flow well with the song and add to the ride. The title track, "Dedication," plays just as hard as "Get This Right!" and has a very memorable chorus filled with hooks. I guarantee that it will be going through your head on repeat after just one listen.

Buy Raised Fist's album Dedication

Raised Fist - Get This Right!
Raised Fist - Dedication

Monday, May 02, 2005

Wolf Eyes


Wolf Eyes

Whenever I feel the urge to bring myself closer to being deaf, I listen to Wolf Eyes. Okay, I'm not exactly starting off with a ringing endorsement by saying that, but trust me when I say that Wolf Eyes is a good band. The chaotic volumes they reach are part of their draw.

Some people refer to Wolf Eyes as industrial, but I would file it under noise or experimental (maybe even experimental noise) because even though they have the deep, grinding, machine-like sound of industrial, their music possesses the harsh, abrasive qualities that are typical of the noise genre. Take "Stabbed in the Face" as an example. After listening to that song you feel more like you've been stabbed through your ear drums and into your brain. That's the kind of effect that the noise genre leaves on you. And whereas most bands wouldn't consider this a compliment, I think Wolf Eyes just might: they do an excellent job of leaving you with a head ache.

So if you like noise, you'll like Wolf Eyes for they are masters at what they do. If you don't like noise, put in some ear plugs and get the Tylenol ready.

Buy Wolf Eyes' album Burned Mind

Wolf Eyes - Stabbed in the Face