Friday, December 28, 2018

Favorites Recordings from 2018

Cut Worms-Hollow Ground
Harsh Mistress-All Roads Lead To This
Outrageous Cherry-Meet You In The Shadows
Paul Collins-Out of My Head
Dear Nora-Skulls Example
The Number Ones-Another Side of The Numbers Ones (ep)
Mystic Braves-The Great Unknown
Peach Kelli Pop-Gentle Leader
La Luz-Floating Features
SOLEIL-My Name is SOLEIL (Japan)
SOLEIL-SOLEIL is Alright (Japan)
Jonathan Richman-SA

Reissues & Collections
Webster's New Word-Columbia & RCA Singles
The Striders-Columbia Singles
The Wildlife-Columbia Singles
Andre Tanker Five-Afro Blossom West (Trinidad)
Lee Hazlewood's Woodchucks-Cruisin' for Surf Bunnies
Don Cole-Something's Got A Hold On Me - The Don Cole Story

Music Books read and enjoyed

The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing-John E. Dugan
White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day-Richie Unterberger
Mexican Roots, American Soil: A Quest for the American Dream-Ernie Bringas (The Rip Chords)
Beastie Boys Book-Michael Diamond/Adam Horovitz
So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-by-Day, 1965-1973-Christopher Hjort
A Spy in the House of Loud: NY Songs and Stories-Chris Stamey (The Seeds are not from TX though)
Siren Song: My Life in Music-Seymour Stein

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Kent 3-Spells

Never fitting in with any sub-strata (with built-in devotees) the Kent 3 have been taking the dark ol' state routes off the Western musical map for the last decade. Their should-be-legendary albums are too musically adventitious to neatly land in the usual RnR/garage/punk slots while too spry, agile and lyrically keen to fit in with their lumbered region predominated by gang grunge.  While they offer no manifestations of cheap hope, happy endings or pretensions, they do offer some vivid vignettes with coursing lyrics-informed as much by Frederick Exley as they are by that Pickwick poet Lou Reed. This is street poetry for undercover punks not on the streets. These are vigorous yet free-flowing songs for uniting those who will never be united. Spells can rouse listeners to the short-cut depths of the contradictory and skewed turn-of-the-century West-that takes place off the I-10 between open dumpsters and closed unidentified warehouses. Its surf-rock drumming, trebly, but tough guitars, and literate Beat-inspired lyrics are splattered on the blacktop and reign-in everything from a low desert midnight mass to a brackish Pacific Northwest mountain pass.  While this band only published praises might be found between the smudged ink and yellowed pages of a Fiz zine, attuned ears and a miner's light on the lyrics etched into this compelling and convincing album might finally give this band some long awaited due.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Modern Sound Quintet-Otinku

In general, recordings of steel drum bands usually end up sounding thin while failing to capture and convey the dynamic live experience. Over the years I have purchased albums like Liberace presents the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band, only to donate them right back to the thrift stores.  Still, the appealing description of this 1971 album on the Bear Family Records website recently enticed me to reconsider and re-investigate recorded steel drum sounds.  Modern Sound Quintet actually formed in Stockholm, Sweden and was led by Rudy Smith who hailed from Port of Spain, Trinidad-the epicenter of the steel drum/pan sound.  This international quintet was comprised of musicians from Barbados, Ghana, Surinam, and Sweden.  They conspired to make a churning sound that endures as their jazz orientation is not just a mere accessory, but a bedrock foundation underneath the gleaming steel pans.  The recording itself fastens the melody-carrying steel pans with the shingled percussion to avert the usual shrill ping and rapid evaporation that plagues many recordings of unaccompanied steel drums.  “Flowers in the Rain” presents percolating pans seemingly submerged in liquid to create a shimmering effect. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” previously recorded by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, and the Buckinghams, features a pronounced piano setting the scene before the steel drums deliver the signature sweeping chorus.  “Flamenco Groove” is one of the album’s original compositions and serves as a testament to Rudy Smith’s full command of the pans-working within and beyond the tension & release framework of the flamenco tradition.  While originally available only in Finland upon its initial release in 1971, multiple reissues of Otinku have proven these radiant Afro-Caribbean sounds too panoramic, durable and adventurous to stay bound to one particular place and time.