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  • Grails Take Refuge in Clean Living
    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    I like the music of Grails, even though, at times, the music gets a little too heavy for me. I'm at a point in my life where I don't want to be punished by music, and Grails can definitely be heavy. That's why I like Take Refuge in Clean Living a bit more than Doomsdayer's Holiday; Clean is heady and heavy on the mellow atmospherics. This LP has also made me realize why I like Grails: they can be extremely efficient with the time within a song. All of these songs hover between the 4-9 minute mark, but each song feels much, much longer than that--in a good way. The band's trademark mixture of Eastern rhythms with Western rock elements is also put to use here; on "Take Refuge" the band starts of iwth a slow Eastern drum-style pattern, which then halfway turns into an almost Gospel-tinged organ and guitar jam, which then incorporates trumpet and atmospheric manipulation that sounds like a voiceless choir. Very nice, indeed! All in all, Take Refuge in Clean Living is a downright satisfying half-hour of music.

    Listen To: "PTSD"

    Take Refuge in Clean Living is available now on Important Records

    Labels: , ,

    posted by joseph kyle @ 6:40 AM   0 comments
    The Asteroid #4 B-Sides & Singles 1997-2007/These Flowers of Ours
    Monday, November 24, 2008

    I do not think I have to prove my love to the band The Asteroid #4. Their wild, unique blend of psychedelic country-folk freak-out is one that is well worth the investigation. Two records as of late most definitely make the case of The Asteroid #4's greatness.

    The first record is a digital-only release, B-Sides and Singles 1997-2007. I don't know exactly what singles they released, or what era each song is, but I really don't care. You'll find it all here: noisy shoegaze ("90 Colors"), mellow Syd Barrett-esque folk ("Tinkerbell Meets Reality"), gorgeous dreampop ("Car Thief Millenia"), and country swagger ("Lady"). There's a lot to be found here--well over an hour and a half of music--and it might be a bit much for one sitting. But if you put it on random and let it skip around, you'll hardly find anything that's a disappointment.

    Listen To: "Lady"
    Listen To: "Car Thief Millenia"

    Much more concise is These Flowers of Ours. It is the work of a mature psych-rock band; none of that superfluous crap that litters bands that try to be "psych"--no posturing, no posing, no phony irony, either. This is the real deal, and it's obvious from the opening "My Love"--no, not the Paul McCartney classic, but I'm sure they'd do an excellent job of covering it! The next ten songs range from ballads to rockers to what could provisionally be called "bootgaze"--yes, a wonderful mix of shoegaze and Byrds-style country-rock! There's heaviness and there's tenderness, and all of it sounds really, really good. Few American "psych-rock" bands are this good, and they got this way by practice and experience.

    Listen To: "My Love"
    Listen To: "Let It Go"

    Labels: , ,

    posted by joseph kyle @ 11:03 AM   0 comments
    Slow Dancing Society Priest Lake Circa '88
    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Last night a New Age record saved my life.

    Okay, so maybe it didn't save it, but it certainly enriched an atmosphere in need of relaxation. Priest Lake Circa '88 (a title that sounds like it belongs on a Flaming Lips bootleg) is the latest record by Drew Sullivan, who records under the moniker Slow Dancing Society. This latest opus is a collection of gentle but occasionally restless instrumental pieces that tread the line between new age and ambient. But those are silly titles, have nothing to do with the music. For me, though, records like this are more about the mood than the compositions; the eight numbers found here are all wonderfully beautiful pieces. There are a number of epics, like "Sun Spots" and the utterly fantastic "The Iridescence of Innocence," that will simply melt your brain. Honestly, I put this album on and I'm instantly relaxed. This is a good thing, my friends--especially in stressful times like ours.

    Listen To: "This Lilac Life"

    Priest Lake Circa '88 is available now on Hidden Shoal Recordings

    Labels: , ,

    posted by joseph kyle @ 7:45 AM   0 comments
    Civic Duty
    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Every man is evil, yes, every man's a liar...

    Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.-- John Quincy Adams
    posted by joseph kyle @ 10:45 AM  
    Harold Budd and Clive Wright A Song For Lost Blossoms
    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Few musicians can rightfully be called Masters, but Harold Budd is definitely a master of his craft. For nearly three decades, he has produced some of the gentlest, prettiest piano music of the Twentieth Century. He is a master of ambient piano; his melodies are simple, yet they say so much in saying nothing. His compositional style is so basic and so minimalist, you might mistakenly think you could do what he does. You can't. I have been infatuated with his music for two decades, and in that time, he has yet to produce a bad record. The simple charm of his work will only make you want more.

    A Song for Lost Blossoms, his latest work, continues a trend he's developed over the past few years: collaboration. This time, he's enlisted the assistance of Clive Wright, a fellow minimalist, and the record they created is a labor of love. When you've loved a musician's work as long as I've loved Budd's, it becomes difficult to find the exact words to describe his music--you simply take what they do for granted, and you simply want to say, "Here, it's Harold Budd, you know what you're getting," and that's true here. Unlike Budd's recent collaboration with Eraldo Bernocci (Music for 'fragments from the inside'), or his notable collaboration with Robin Guthrie, Wright's collaborative element isn't obvious; instead, Wright helps to accentuate Budd's melodies. When you collaborate, sometimes it's good not to stand out; sometimes it's best to simply accentuate the best elements of the greater talent.

    Of course, the music on A Song for Lost Blossoms is utterly mind-bendingly beautiful. The album starts with one of Budd's biggest singular pieces to date, the epic 32-minute "Pensive Aphrodite." I have Budd records that are almost as long as this one, and by the time the song finishes, I feel reinvigorated. Hell, the rest of the record is just a little bit longer than this one song, and, really, it could stand apart as a singular record. The melodies are deep, the compositions lush--everything you expect from the Harold Budd name. Two of the songs, "Forever Hold My Breath" and "At This Moment," are live recordings; it proves that Budd is simply no studio composer.

    I like the trend of Budd-as-collaborator. There are a ton of people I'd love to hear him work with. A collaboration with Marc Byrd of Hammock? Ulrich Schnauss? William Basinski? A new Andy Partridge record? Stars of the Lid? All of these collaborations would produce beautiful aural fruits, and I'd freak out like a teenager if he were to record with any of them, but for now I'm extremely satisfied with A Song for Lost Blossoms, this year's best Harold Budd record, and one of those "best of 2008" records to boot!

    Listen To: "At This Moment"

    A Song For Lost Blossoms is available now on Darla Records

    Labels: , , ,

    posted by joseph kyle @ 8:07 AM   0 comments
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