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  • Nowhere Man & A Whiskey Girl Just Like the Others
    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    ...cover records!

    It's a bold gambit to take a well-known song and cover it. In order to assure respect for taking someone else's work, it's best to make it your own somehow. Sweeten up the harmonies. Make it harder/softer/louder/quieter. Interpret it in a different genre. Resurrect a rare chestnut from obscurity--either from a local band, or some obscure band you happen to like. In other words, show us what you've got and prove to us what you can do.

    That's why I'm impressed by Arizona duo Nowhere Man & A Whiskey Girl's's newest record, Just Like the Others. It's been a long time since I heard that name; they released a wonderful record four or so years ago, and I never heard from them since--not uncommon when you write about music; bands come and bands go like the passing of the wind, and you learn to let devotion go. As such, it's always a treat when an obscure group like this makes an impressive return.

    That was then and this is now and Just Like the Others, with Edward Gorey-like artwork, is a stripped-down collection of songs by artists familiar and unknown, all performed in the duo of Amy and Derrick Ross's stripped-down acoustic style. I've heard of about half of the dozen artists covered here, and probably heard half of the songs they've covered, so, really, to me, only 9 of these songs are "new." Of the 'names,' most of the choices aren't particularly surprising; Jolie Holland, Edie Brickell, Tori Amos, Gillian Welch, and Fruit Bats don't shock as much as the Jimmy Eat World cover. Of the lesser-known numbers, I like the song "Girls Who Wear Glasses," even though I've never heard of World Class Thugs.

    Just Like the Others is a pleasant, impressive record, even if there's not an original song on it. This is the sort of record Gorilla vs Bear should cover; this is a record that you should hear. Amy Ross's singing will impress, and you won't care if you've heard these songs by others before. The duo makes these songs their own, and I can only hope their inspired choices inspire them when they decide to make their next record. I'm not too worried about that, though.

    Listen To: "Old-Fashion Morphine"

    Just Like The Others is available now on 727 Records

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 6:30 PM   0 comments
    Asteroid #4 Going Down
    Saturday, July 26, 2008

    Philly-based country-psych rockers Asteroid #4 is a band I've had an affinity ever since I heard their wonderful album Honeyspot. They have an excellent new record coming out in September, but before we get to it, let's talk a bit about their latest single. It's a two-track affair, and it's great. "Going Down" is a mellow rocker that's hazy and a little bit stoned. "My Love" isn't the Wings song, dammit, but it's a slow ballad that got a bit of reverb to it and reminds me of vintage My Morning Jacket, but not in a rip-off kind of way. I love the harmonies on it, too; it's a simply delightful and kind of sad song. You're going to experience my love of their music shortl, as I shall be writing about their two latest records, a singles collection and a new album. But I thought I'd introduce you now, as I recommend these two songs as a little tease. Enjoy!

    Listen To: "Going Down"

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 9:47 AM   0 comments
    House and Parish One, One Thousand
    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    House & Parish has a great pedigree, and if you do a little research, you'll see what I mean. I don't wish to downplay it, but please, let's let this young band stand on its own merits--excellent merits, mind you.They've got a wonderful little introductory EP, One, One-Thousand, and you should listen to it. Their sound is pop, a tad dark, a tad melancholy, not unexpected, considering who they are and where they come from--but it's a sound that's definitely their own. I quite like the swagger of "This Curse," and I dig the nice 'n' subtle hooks of "Summer Programme" But then, after three songs, things get a little different. "Standardesque" goes straight for a shoegazing jugular; less MBV, more Swervedriver or Kitchens of Distinction. It impresses for its quiet, burning intensity. The title track is a mellow instrumental that's dark and moody and not quite like the rest of the record. Then there's the final track, the utterly beautiful rocker "What Am I Still Waiting For?" It reminds me of a long-lost New Order outtake. I like it. I like it a lot.

    One, One-Thousand is an exciting little record; it's nondescript, it's brief, and it doesn't come close to defining the band's identity, yet it definitely whets my appetite for a future full-length, because these six well-written pop songs cannot possibly be a fluke.

    Listen To: "This Curse"

    One, One-Thousand is available now via Arena Rock Recording Company/Belle City Pop!

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 6:08 PM   0 comments
    Joe Lapaglia Day Behind
    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    My recent write-up of Benoit Pioulard's Enge reissue led me to discover a wonderful new talent. His name is Joe Lapaglia, and he recently released a digital EP entitled Day Behind. So impressed was I by "Birds Flew By" on Moodgadget's website, I promptly bought the rest of the record. His music is folk tinged with gray atmospherics that at once recalls Elliott Smith (sorry for the cliche) and, at times, such as on the excellent "Moonflower," Pioulard's labelmate Boduf Songs. From what I've heard I'm going to guess he's the only person performing here. Regardless, I love the rich textures of his music; it's sad, but it's hopeful; "Shaking Ghosts" is the sound of walking down a dark dusty New Mexico highway, while the instrumental "Lights in the Road" is as beautiful and as gentle a song you could meet. Some might think folk is a bit 'heard it all before,' but Lapaglia has a deft songwriting touch, and I'm intrigued by this offering.

    Listen To: "Birds Flew By"

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 8:24 PM   0 comments
    Four Tet Ringer
    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    I thought Kieren Hebden had retired the Four Tet moniker, but apparently not. With takes a turn away from the tribal sounds and the improvised jazz of his recent work, turning instead back to the dance floor of the past. The four-song Ringer EP reminds me of the vintage WaxTrax! Records sound and other Belgian underground dance music. It's electronica, but it has an edge; it's not really industrial, but yet these songs--especially the pulsating, relentless ten-minute title track--clearly have a heritage. "Ribbons" has a twinkly melody, and "Swimmers" has a swirly drone of a beat. Only one song, "Wing Body Wing," blends the tribal elements of his excellent work with Steve Reid, and I love it! I like Ringer a lot; it's perhaps my favorite Four Tet release, partially because, like its title, it is a total, utter ringer.

    Listen To: "Ribbons"

    Ringer is available now on Domino Recordings

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 4:50 PM   0 comments
    Benoit Pioulard Enge
    Saturday, July 19, 2008

    It's been a while since we last heard from Thomas Meluch, aka Benoit Pioulard, whose album Precis was one of the highlights of 2006. He'll be releasing a new album, Temper, in October, but in the meantime, Moodgadget has digitally reissued his debut EP, Enge. The four-song EP captured four wispy glimpses of a young man’s muse, with "Pinconning" leading off with a bang. The songs are all jingle-jangle mornings of songs, with the trademark hazy sound firmly in place. This digital reissue expands the original release by adding three remixes, one of which is a remix from Precis, and one new song, "Aeolian Death Song." The remixes add different elements; "Kids Are Getting Younger" is enhanced by a clapping beat, while "Pinconning" is expanded into a trip-hop kaleidoscope of sound. While it maybe only a brief thing, Enge is still a nice little trip and a lovely diversion while we wait for what’s surely one of this fall’s anticipated new releases.

    Listen To: "Pinconning"

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 10:13 AM   0 comments
    In The Nursery An Ambush of Ghosts

    In college, I lived on the ninth floor of a high-rise complex. It was small and it was cramped and I loved it. My room overlooked the patio below and the security lights sat underneath my window. I had Venetian blinds, and, at night, the lights outside would illuminate these blinds in a rather ominous way. It didn't bother me, but some who occasionally stayed found it to be a little creepy. I liked the ambience created by the dark glow, because the light cutting through the dark. If it rained, the mood would be even sexier. To me, the whole vibe reminded me of mystery movies and detective shows; inevitably, the darkened high-rise apartment illuminated by lights through blinds would be used. Hey, if you're going to live a solitary, reclusive life, you might as well try to make it interesting!

    Recently, as I looked through a box of CDs I had packed away, and found my beloved copy of the score to An Ambush of Ghosts, a crap movie with a beautiful and disturbing soundtrack composed by In The Nursery, an industrial-turned-neoclassical experimental duo led by twin brothers Kilve and Nigel Humberstone. I never saw the movie, but then again, I never felt a need to do so; the soundtrack was more than enough for me. I developed the ritual of listening to this record at the midnight hour on Friday nights. Until last night, I hadn't listened to this record in nearly a decade. Revisiting this record has been a pleasant experience, and I feel compelled to share the experience.

    I can't really say why that trend developed; it just sort of happened, because, well, I was a dark person then and I liked dark things and this was a relaxing bit of darkness. I never bothered to look at song titles; the album was long enough to lead me to sleep when I needed to sleep. Yet, in a weird way, the starkness of the music played well against the ominously weird backdrop of blinds illuminated by soft light at two in the morning. Fortunately, the music was never too scary or disturbing; if anything, I found the music strangely reassuring. The spooky clips of dialogue didn't bother me, either.

    I miss those college days; I didn't have the direction I felt I needed, but I do have a few good memories, and my ritual of listening to this record is one of them. It relaxed me after a week of hard work; it made me forget my misery when I felt down; it made me feel moody and bleak when I wanted to enjoy feeling miserable. Unlike other records of this sort, I'd never fall asleep during it; I'd make it all the way to "'Hallucinations?'" and would usually knock out by the time the ubiquitous Harold Budd record would start to play.

    I didn't follow In The Nursery beyond this point, and I can't explain why. Perhaps because An Ambush of Ghosts was such a superior artistic statement, I simply didn't need to examine further; that their records were rather obscure and hard to find didn't help, either. Though I can't say anything about what they've done since releasing this record in 1993, I can most confidently affirm that An Ambush of Ghosts is a special record. And, if you follow this site and the music I like, you can see how this record influenced and shaped my musical tastes.

    Note: In the Nursery remastered and reissued this record last year. Well worth your time to find, friends....

    Listen To: "Sedation"
    Listen To: "Running Scene"
    Listen To: "Funeral II"
    Listen To: "Casus Belli"

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 2:03 AM   2 comments
    Joan of Arc Boo Human
    Friday, July 18, 2008

    I guess that it was an eventuality that Joan of Arc would make a record like Boo Human. By that, I mean that they'd eschew the artistic "growth" and the experimentalism that has, well, defined Joan of Arc. "Traditional" has never been the adjective to describe Tim Kinsella's muse. I've liked some Joan of Arc records, and I've hated an amount that probably equals that. Joan of Arc's past few records have felt forced; plenty was there to like, but the fire of enthusiasm seemed to be missing.

    Boo Human fires on all pistons, and it captures a band that's aware of its past successes, its strengths, and doesn't really seem to care about trying to push the experimental envelope. To my ears, it's a sign that Joan of Arc fully understands itself; Kinsella and company aren't doing anything different, because they know who they are. For my justification of this belief, I use the mantra of "and you know when you know but you know that you know and you know and you know what you know but you know that you know" in the gorgeous opening "Shown and Told." To my ears, it just about says it all, no?

    Better still, unlike their recent albums, Boo Human is quite varied. I like stripped-down, acoustic JOA, but not an entire album's worth. Same thing with the quirky experimental rock. So yeah, you'll find the quirky herky-jerky rock on "Insects Don't Eat Bananas," the mellow jazz-rock on "Just Pack or Unpack," the gorgeous mix-tape worthy love-folk on "If There Was a Time #1," the groovy rock on "The Surrender #2," and the weird political experimental punk freak-out on "9/11 2." As always, Kinsella's lyrics are obtuse, abstract, and make you say, "that's a weird way of saying that, but yeah, i totally know what he means!" I think there's a Destiny's Child reference or two to be found, too.

    I've seen comparisons to How Memory Works and A Portable Model Of. I can see that, and those comparisons are definitely apt. Thankfully, with Boo Human, the band's not caught up in trying to create a pastiche of past victories; they're simply being themselves. A surprising, refreshing return to form, this.

    Listen To: If There Was a Time 1

    Boo Human is out now on Polyvinyl Records

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 12:15 PM   0 comments
    Taro Kawasaki Sing Me a Song
    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    I recently received Sing Me a Song, a little 4-song disc of wonderful, mellow glitchy electronica from Japanese artist Taro Kawasaki, and I mean little: a limited-edition 3-inch CD with four gentle songs in less than ten minutes. With an emphasis on guitar and glitchy patches, Kawasaki explores a sonic landscape that is soft, supple, and innocent; these four songs are lovely little lullabies, and work well with those who are seeking a trip to the Land of Nod. If you're a fan of the Leaf label, Morr Music, or Windham Hill, even, you'll enjoy this little record. I definitely do look forward to hearing more from this young man.

    Listen To: "Plouf"

    Sing Me A Song is available now from Drifting, Falling

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 7:33 PM   0 comments
    Keith Canisius Ferris Wheel Makeout
    Sunday, July 6, 2008

    Keith Canisius follows up his utterly wonderful Rumskib debut with an equally impressive solo album, Ferris Wheel Makeout. Thankfully, Keith doesn't use this opportunity to make Rumskib 2. It would have been easy for him to repeat the same sorts of formulas found with the band, but instead, he takes his music in a poppier, headier direction. Incorporating softer melodies with complex guitar techniques, as well as dance beats (!!), Ferris Wheel Makeout shows that Canisius is no mere retro-shoegazer. Indeed, there's a definite pop element explored here; listen to the catchy-as-hell "Naive Struggle" and try to resit its charm! Same thing with "Watching Old Films with New Eyes"--that guitar turns a nice trick, the beat is dance-worthy, and the vocals are heavenly!

    But don't fret if you miss those strong elements of Rumskib; simply flip over to "Far From" and "29th Escape," and you'll find a little bit of that, too. For the most part, though, Keith has slowed it down, mellowed it out, and made a really wonderful record that further explores and promotes his talents as a songwriter. A fine record, this!

    Listen To: "Naive Struggle"

    Ferris Wheel Makeout is available now on Quince Records

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 5:51 PM   0 comments
    A moment of your time for Sub Oslo, please
    Friday, July 4, 2008

    If you would, a moment, please. Divert your attention to the following website, Sub Oslo dot com. Sub Oslo was/is a dub band from Denton, Texas; they've been making music for well over a decade, and though their releases are both sporadic and scarce--I've seen albums of theirs go for well over 50 bucks--they are all pearls of great value, and are available digitally. Sub Oslo's style is dub, and dub-styled instrumental music. What is or isn't dub does not matter; Sub Oslo's music is very moving and transcends easy description.

    I call your attention to Sub Oslo for one reason: it's hot outside. Their music is very, very cool, very refreshing, and goes along nicely with outdoor cookouts, parties, or other social events. I would also like to add that the live recordings available on their website show the band's different sides, with "Control This" reminding me more of Durutti Column than Lee "Scratch" Perry. All of these live recordings are excellent, and they form a wonderful little mini-album of sorts. I'd love to hear the rest of the shows these songs are taken from, or at least more live recordings. Having seen them live, I can attest--they're an amazing live act. So, please, take a few minutes and download their music!

    Listen To: "Control This"


    posted by joseph kyle @ 3:45 PM   0 comments
    Earles and Jensen Just Farr a Laugh, Volume 1 &2: The Greatest Prank Phone Calls Ever!

    I guess it's because my birthday is August 15th, but I have to say I find Earles & Jensen's Just Farr A Laugh Vol. 1&2: The Greatest Prank Phone Calls Ever! to be one of the funniest things I've ever heard! I appreciate a good laugh, and you don't always have to go blue to be funny--if you use a subtle touch, you can produce a ton of laughs. That's why I didn't care much for Jerky Boys--the humor was just too obviously stupid. What Earles & Jensen have done here is produce a series of calls that are occasionally obviously a prank (Bleachy comes to mind), and a number of calls that aren't.

    There are fifty-eight calls and two and a half-hour's worth of material here, so I'm going to focus on one call in particular, "Bedroom ETA:A Jermaine Stewart Cover Band," because it's my favorite. Having been tangentally involved with the music industry for a while now, I can attest to the validity of the scenario of "Bedroom ETA." In its heyday, Mundane Sounds received a ton of records that could best be called, well...crap. A lot of these people believed in themselves so intensely, it was painfully obvious that they were disturbed. I appreciate believing in yourself and if I don't like your band, I don't like your band. But there are people who exist in this industry who are insanely happy in beleiving in themselves, much like you'll hear. I played this track to a friend of mine, someone who hasn't been involved in 'the biz,' and their reaction was a blank, "So?" I played this to a fellow music writer and concert promoter, and they exploded with laughter, because, well, there are a lot of people like "Roger." They're sincere, but they're sincere in a way that makes you wonder if they're sane. I have a feeling Cosloy appreciated this track as well. Some of the less-sane characters in these calls are funny to me, because I've found some of these characters coming into my office on a daily basis. Other calls are equally as funny, many are often music-industry related, and overall,Just Farr a Laugh is a 58-track laugh-riot! And if you don't laugh at some of it, that's okay. If you don't laugh at something in it, then you're an idiot.

    Listen To: "Bedroom ETA:A Jermaine Stewart Cover Band"

    Just Farr a Laugh is available now on Matador Records

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 7:42 AM   0 comments
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