Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Dheg Dheg Plas & Volume 2 (Sublime Frequencies, re. 2010)
For: The Beatles, Os Mutantes, The Kinks
Byline: The Brits invaded Indonesia, too. And holy wow, am I glad they did.
Koes Plus, Indonesia's most beloved pop music treasure, has an incredibly interesting history. Aside from the fact that this is a 70's Indonesian band unmistakably influenced by the British Invasion and that they were successful and popular enough to record over 40 albums during the 70s alone and spawn dozens of tribute bands over the years while remaining largely unknown throughout the rest of the world (peaked your interest yet?), the group's tale is somewhat legendary. Politics, rebellion, arrests, destroyed recordings, plane crashes… it's all very well documented in the liner notes to this smart package from Sublime Frequencies that collects the band's first two records (1969's Dheg Dheg Plas and 1970's Volume 2) following its reformation from the ashes of the all-brother Koes Bersaudara band. But as interesting as all that stuff is, it's really not the point of Koes Plus. The point is that this record is a damned good time.
The first half ("Dheg Dheg Plas") features a straight-ahead early Beatles approach. Songs like "Kelelewar" and "Awan Hitam" are stone-hits complete with snappy, highly danceable/sampleable backbeats and delicious four-part vocal harmonies. But even when the band is at its easiest to draw the Beatles comparison, the group adds its own little eccentricities… something just a little bit off, slightly obscured with the fusion of traditional Indonesian melodies and forms, not to mention the band's native language in the lyrics. In this way, the legacy of Koes Plus seems not unlike Caetano Veloso and the Tropicália movement during same time period in Brazil. Sometimes these eccentricities are just bizarre, like the completely random drum solo during the slow and sweet "Tiba Tiba Aku Menangis" (seriously, when's the last time you heard a drum solo during a ballad?). "Volume 2" showcases the Koes Plus as a different beast altogether, incorporating a multitude of different styles from ska rhythms to raucous punk and even a hint of Sabbath that comes as a hilarious and awesome surprise. The playful, Ray Davies-like nature of the songwriting makes this second half a little better, if also a lot weirder...
This review originally published at Foxy Digitalis. Used by permission from Digitalis Industries, Inc. Read the full review here.
Woah... these guys brought it live too. YEOWW!!!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The Way Out (Temporary Residence, 07.2010)
Friday, August 13, 2010
You Are A Brilliant Flower That Ever Blooms (???, 2009)
Well, my iTunes library is no different. It is officially out of control. So much music, and most of it I have a pretty decent idea of where it came from. But if you're like me, surfing around, checking other blogs (see right for a neat and tidy list of the ones we at the TOME frequent), on Facebook a lot checking out what other folks are sharing... you just start clicking. Well, I finally got around to hitting play on this album by an artist simply known as *e*. I don't know where it came from, who gave it to me, why I thought it might be a good idea to download it, how it magically had the awesome artwork with it... WHO. Who, I ask, gave me this gorgeous nugget of acoustic, lo-fi gold? More importantly still: WHO. Just who, may I ask, are you, *e*?
I'm not sure I'll get an answer here—*e* is a name that is basically impossible to Google. A search for this album's title yielded one blog post that offers little in the way of information, other than the fact that *e*'s real name is likely *e*-lizabeth Hill. MySpace, Facebook, Bandcamp... nothin'. So if anyone out there has any ideas on this for me, I'm all ears. For now... a quick review:
*e*'s music is as mysterious as to the reasons I've stumbled across her path. Acoutic guitar-based folk songs that are sometimes stark, sometimes quite full—of noise, rumblings, drums, synths, bass, stray voices, flutes, clitter-clatter, mallet instruments... The effect is one of weirdness in your general freak-folk-weird sort of way. But *e* doesn't really push away the way others in the freak-folk arena have been known to. *e*'s songs often begin with beautiful chords and hummable Jeff Magnum-like tunes, and then let the creepies set in to eventually overcome them altogether. But mostly, *e* chooses to let these songs get overwhelmed with beauty rather than ugly, stacking oddities and outlying sounds and effects that find supple harmonies within themselves and resonate deep.
This album is quite clearly DIY—tape hiss, static, slightly skipping glitchy digital info, "testing"'s, etc. "Phantom O' The Opera" is a bit excruciating, though the organ is quite nice. Same goes for closer "pretty kitties .deux," which is a gorgeous song, rudely chopped in spinning static. There are probably a handful of actual copies in existence, and one of those was miraculously uploaded to the throughs of the worldwide web from a scratchy CD-R. But like most treasure, this can also be beautiful because of its blemishes. You Are A Brilliant Flower sounds old and weathered, though the metadata from the mp3 files reveals this came out only last year. Like an old photograph, its the image that's what is important: an imaginative voice and one of the more creative songsmiths I've heard in months (and I've heard a lot of good ones) that is unmistakeable, if a little fuzzy. I'm sad to say that I have no idea why I even have this wonderful album. But like most of the piles of old stuff I've been going through in the past week, I'll find a dusty trunk to wrap this up in a blanket and gently tuck away somewhere inside my brain, in some deep corner of my subconscious. It's already there, waiting for me to open it up and remember... that time I forgot. Thanks, *e*. Whoever you are.
Download You Are A Brilliant Flower That Ever Blooms here.
Minor Phase Patterns (Kimberly Dawn, 2010)
For: Evan Caminiti, Sean McCann, Pop-era Gas
Byline: A beautiful ambient painting on the canvas of a 3" CD-R. Don't have a CD spindle? Get one.
I feel a little guilty reviewing this, as the release from the 3" CD-r label Kimberly Dawn Recordings is (perhaps unsurprisingly and indeed unfortunately) already sold out of its limited run of 50 copies, and the only place I've been able to track down that has even but a five-minute excerpt from the piece is a YouTube video that's embedded into Kim Dawn's blog. So it's troubling to me that many who read this may never get the chance to hear this work in full, as Frank Baugh (aka Sparkling Wide Pressure) and Derek Rogers' ambient effort is quite the treasure. Minor Phase Patterns layers long, slender guitar and synth tones against one another, allowing individual voices to kind of massage themselves together. It creates a homogeneously smooth and creamy hum with flashes of fleeting melodies you almost create for yourself subconsciously. Beats and rhythmic devices are sacrificed in favor of very slowly developing chord progressions, tonally fluid and morphing with the waxing and waning of textures so soft and slight (much like the works of composers like Wolfgang Voigt or William Basinski), changes barely go noticed. The music does follow a trajectory, though, a remarkable feat for a sound that remains so consistently firm in volume and overall girth—it's never fat or lean, starving or engorged—simply full. Elements breathe for themselves and are independent, but they work in a delicate tandem to operate like an organism, all singularly participatory in contributing to a common, well-rounded and balanced whole...
...I have to admit, most of my music these days is either downloaded, loaded into my slot-fed laptop, or, you know, I'm always partial to vinyl. So it was a task for me to find a way to hear Minor Phase Patterns. But interestingly, I was also immediately drawn to this little gem. These 3" discs are hip artifacts—folkloric vessels in a way, transporting music to an emerging subculture through a stylized material format. They empower ritual in art, emphasizing specifically planned, exclusive sorts of listening practices, encouraging more interpersonal moments of sharing that the internet age might be guilty of destroying. These CDs can be a pain in the ass to enjoy for those of you with nary a tray nor spindle, but they're also a beautiful pain in the ass, completely worth the effort whatever you have to do to hear them.
Kimberly Dawn Blogspot (Lots of great stuff here - and these sell out quick. Get on it!)
An excerpt from Minor Phase Patterns for your listening enjoyment:
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Lemonade EP (Self-Released, 07.2010)
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Bachelor Pad Blue; Bent Pants & Stray Cats (Unreleased, 2009/10)
For: Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Giant Sand, Little Fyodor
Byline: Greyday rejected this? ... wtf?
Patrick Porter is one of those rare artists. He's a brilliant poet, a published writer, accomplished painter (word is that the drummer from Slipknot bought a ton of his work... which makes little sense to me. Even more perplexing is Porter's claim that he threw bananas at the band during the transaction), and a great songwriter. He's also incredibly prolific at all of this while somehow being something of a vagrant. He tours on Greyhound buses, holes up in vans or tiny studios, and manages to always keep his wandering mind focused on recording his memories in one way or another. Sometimes those are beautiful memories, sometimes ugly, nightmarish even, hilarious or sometimes they're just plain weird. All in all, Porter tells the stories of himself, and if you can bet one thing when you get a Patrick Porter disc spinning in your CD player, it's that it will be something honest. Whatever happened to him, what he was going through, if he's angry or uncomfortable where he is, even if it's unreasonable, he'll let you know.
His last extended stint (during which time these tunes were laid to tape) brought him back to Colorado where he slept in the extra room of an old friend's apartment, frequently played gigs at places like Wax Trax Records and the Skylark Bar for meager audiences quietly admiring his commanding (if also modest) presence at relating the world as he sees it unfolding all around him. I knew Mr. Porter during this period, and I found him to be remarkably friendly, incredibly interesting, highly intelligent, very funny, but, indeed as this record indicates, there was something a little off about him, too. He would hang around Gabor's Bar a lot back then, his A Swan at Smiley's LP was in the jukebox there, and we had some great times over games of rummy and bouts of Miles Davis, but I never really saw the loneliness his record harps on... which is a little sad to think about now, actually. I wonder how well I really knew him. But then you hear this record, and it's a window into who Patrick Porter really was on a much more total level at this specific time in his life.
And the record doesn't sound all that sad all the time, either, so don't worry, I think Patrick's doing alright. Opener "Hello" tricks you into thinking Porter's shifted gears to some kind of folk-ambient sound before blasting into a ho-down of an introduction, screaming and yelping "HELLO!"s to anyone who'll hear his story. And with a following spoken-word welcome, explanation of the record, an extended dedication, and a tip of the hat to Denver, I think Porter right off the bat wants to make sure he tells folks that no matter what happened during this "very feverish time... a time of great strife and complexity" (as he says), he wasn't taking any of it too seriously.
Still, lines like "Make my next meal a loaded gun" are delivered cold enough to shake you to your core. There's plenty of sadness and a lot of frustration to be found in tunes like the toe-tappin' "Big Frowny Face," which is something of an assault on an ex-girlfriend. "Zero" and "No One's Ever Gonna Love Me" are pity parties that Porter's pitching to no one but himself through country balladry twinged with the sting of stark lonliness and ghostly backing vox. Sometimes doubled vocals are off-tune just enough to grate the nerves, which might mirror Porter's own internal, ugly demons. Another plus is that Porter's tales are well adaptable to a range of styles from prettier, hazy ballads to more uptempo banjo or guitar-based riffs. Then there's a healthy share of stone-gorgeous moments that make it all worth it. "Fogelburg" is a simply wonderful light-rock tune, and "Lizzy Turtle Laylo," aside from being about a turtle that actually lived in my apartment for a few months, might just be the purtiest piece of music I've heard all year.
Sorry for the lengthy post here, we usually try to keep them below 500 words.. I don't owe Porter anything, and he doesn't owe me nothin' neither, so maybe it's a little odd that I had this much to say. I guess this record just resonates a little more deeply on a personal level. And the best part is I have a feeling it will do the same for a lot more pairs of ears if they're willing to put up with the guy... many have tried and failed (even his own record label, Greyday—they rejected this album). I don't think Patrick wants any of us to feel sorry for him. But it's a pretty interesting thing to hear him being sorry for himself for some reason. Plus, it's usually positively beautiful, even when he's at his weirdest.
Patrick Porter Official Bandcamp (stream/buy this here)
p.s. Dear Patrick, plz come back to Denver.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Mare (Olde English Spelling Bee, 06.2010)
Stream/Buy Mare Here
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Mines (Barsuk, 07.2010)
Good day, lovely TOME readers!
First, another thanks is due for continuing to read our blog here. Our stat counter thingie is currently broken (lord... we hope), but we're quite certain you're all out there looking at these funny little characters we type about the wonderfully wild and weird world of music.
We love doing this so much that we've decided to up our game. With the help of our beautiful friends Kinsey Hamilton and Eric Peterson, the TOME you've grown to know and love is about to undergo a major makeover. We have a brand new site layout and design, as well as our very own fancy-schmancy tometotheweathermachine.com URL, and we can't wait to show it all to you on August 22nd. So mark your calendars! To celebrate, Tome to the Weather Machine is throwing a site re-launch party in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver at Crawf's favorite watering hole Gabor's. The fateful date will also mark the release of a new set of mix CD-r's we will have prepared and lovingly placed in the bar's famous juke box, complete with nerdy notes about why we chose which tracks. I also plan to burn several copies of the last mix Crawf had in there for folks to take home as a parting gift. Drink specials, friends, and fun. Your three favorite things, remember?
So stay tuned, big changes are a-comin', and we hope to see you at Gabor's bar on August 22nd.
—Crawf and Ryan H.
Tome to the Weather Machine Re-Launch Party - Facebook Event Page
p.s. Endless thank yous to the lovely Danni Chandler for helping us organize this momentous occasion! She's also in a rad band we plan to post on in the coming days: The Manxx. Meeeeeoww!
Carousin' USA Single (Self-released, 2010)
For: Neon Indian, Talk Talk, Zola Jesus
Byline: Last "summer jam." Triple-promise.
Here's a quickie but a goodie. Baltimore's Dead Drums and its new single "Carousin' USA" sounds like what our generation's front porch rocking chair music will be when we're all old and fat and lazy (can't wait). Slow, easy-going, delicate, and beautiful. It's damn-near the simplest song I've heard all year—two bass notes, mild-pop groove between a bass and snare samples, and gently wafting strums of a tremolo-drenched guitar. The voice comes from behind you, almost massaging your shoulders as you lounge the evening hours away in a coma-inducing swelter. "Perfect" is a word I hate using. I'm using it now: this is so perfect.
You can download this hot little number via the link below at Dead Drums' Bandcamp page. It also comes with an amazing remix of a track called "Edna" that makes use of some really unique rhythmic ethno-hop beats a-la Tortoise' John Herndon.
Dead Drums Official Bandcamp Site (download here)
p.s. I downloaded Dead Drums' Fashion Defense EP from last year, and it's also quite good, however much different - lots of weirdly dark ambient sounds. Dead Drums could really take their sound with either this, or the "Carousin' USA" route and I'd be happy. Also, Dead Drums mastermind Caleb Moore has another similar project called Lands & Peoples that is definitely worth a listen.
Monday, August 2, 2010
And Everything Feels so Sublime (Self Released, 07.2010)
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Chance Reconstruction (Tench Records, 08.2010)