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  • Northern Portrait The Fallen Aristocracy
    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Ah, Denmark. A lovingly gray country well known for its stance on sex and drugs, not so well-known for its rock and roll. A look at the sleeve for Northern Portrait's debut The Fallen Aristocracy makes me think of a beautiful Smiths sleeve. "Which one?" Any of them. "I think that's what they're going for, Joseph." I quite agree. Once again, Matinee Recordings releases a corker, once again the band is lazily compared to the Smiths, and once again I yell "No! More like The Ocean Blue!" I will concede the lazy's point on "Waiting for a Chance," although I stand undaunted and unconvinced. I do like this band's way with an arrangement; they have, without fail, layered their songs with a lovely little jingle-jangle. I think I love the final song, aka the title track, the best. Saying I think one song is "best" would be like dating an identical quadruple and saying she was the prettiest of the lot. An auspicious and frustratingly brief debut--here's to more!

    Listen To: "Crazy"

    Labels: , ,

    posted by joseph kyle @ 4:18 PM   0 comments
    John Fahey The Mill Pond

    Back in the 1990s, I discovered the gentle, beautiful guitar stylings of John Fahey. Introduced to his best records, it was hard for me to deny that his music was anything less than a special joy, a fragile little secret only a select few knew. I hate obscurist-types, but I must confess to having suffered from such afflictions. Of course, addicts and people with problems have a way of finding those who will feed such afflictions, and as such I happened to be enticed by the shiny "super-limited edition" sign at a lovely little store called 33 Degrees. The record advertised was entitled The Mill Pond, by my new discovery, John Fahey. With disposable income in and a friendly demeanor that both disguised my snobbery and confounded yet charmed the posturing record store clerk, I purchased this double seven-inch delight. I left happy. I must admit I was a bit confounded by the music found in the record's grooves, as it certainly was not quite like my other Fahey records. I felt it had more in common with another band I'd recently discovered about the same time, Stars of the Lid. Droning, weird, and with odd vocals that sounded like a cross between Tibetan throat singing and an incoherent deranged homeless man's noises. It was beautiful, it was interesting, it was weird. I listened to it a few times, put it on cassette tape, and enjoyed it--never fraying in my preference of his older, more traditional records. I took pride in knowing that I was one of probably a thousand people in the world to actually possess and appreciate this record.

    The record now sits, undisturbed, unheard, sandwiched peacefully between records by Unrest and Flying Saucer Attack, in what was once a box of Rolling Rock. I failed to remember that I owned it. 33 Degrees shut its doors a few years ago. John Fahey died. Life goes on. It happens that way. Important Records reissued this record on CD, packaged with a booklet of Fahey artwork, and once again the record is a limited edition release. I haven't bought the reissue yet. I may do so. WFMU had the EP on its blog a while back. I downloaded it. I coupled it with Ya Ho Wa 13's Penetration on iTunes. It segued seamlessly. It was good to hear it again. It's a beautiful record.

    Listen To: "You Can't Cool Off In The Mill Pond, You Can Only Die"

    Labels: , ,

    posted by joseph kyle @ 2:02 PM   0 comments
    Thank You For Your Patience
    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    We apologize, your operator is currently busy. Please, enjoy the music as you continue to hold. Thank you for your patience. We will be with you shortly...

    Listen to: Frank Mills-Music Box Dancer


    posted by joseph kyle @ 9:28 AM   0 comments
    Richard Swift: Richard Swift as Onasis
    Saturday, April 5, 2008

    Oh, Mr. Swift, how you do go on. The excellent singer/songwriter follows up his fascinating but divergent Instruments of Science & Technology album by releasing a two-EP set...of rough, raw, primarily instrumental garage rock and blues???


    I won't say I don't like Richard Swift as Onasis, but I do want to ask, "Richard, where are you going with this?" Challenging and confounding your audience is one thing, but underachieving is another. Twenty songs in thirty-eight minutes, most of which are fungible, almost all of which feel incomplete, with some of them simply ending. The record feels like someone broke into a studio, stole rehearsal tapes, and bootlegged 'em. It doesn't sound a bit like the Richard Swift you might expect, so be forewarned.

    I'm willing to accept records like this because I know that Richard is an artist and that he's following his muse, and it's only a matter of time before he releases another mindblower. Of course it all could be a joke on his audience; it's hard to not see the song title "Ha Ha Suckers" without thinking it reveals a primary motivation. Musical japes like this, though, not everyone will like. Caveat emptor.

    Listen To: Even More Sign Language
    Listen To: Phone Coffins

    Richard Swift as Onasis is released April 8, 2008, on Secretly Canadian

    Labels: , ,

    posted by joseph kyle @ 10:18 AM   0 comments
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