Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Hey! It's Halloween, so here's some scary stuff. The Shining soundtrack initially saw the light of day back in 1980, but was quickly recalled due to licensing issues and has remained fairly scarce ever since, save the occasional bootleg or eBay listing (where I found my copy). You can find most, if not all, of the songs scattered on other releases, and Wendy Carlos features all of her and Rachel Elkind's work for the film (including a ton of un-used pieces) in her Rediscovering Lost Scores, Vol. 1 collection. But there's something nice about having it all in one place. And when I say "nice", I mean "frightening and unsettling as shit". The songs by Carlos and Elkind, Krzystof Penderecki, Bela Bartok, and Gyorgy Ligeti featured on the original soundtrack LP are just as terrifying outside the movie as they are steady-camming down the winding halls of the Overlook Hotel. Total unspeakable creepiness and traumatizing, bad haunted vibes right in your own home--doesn't that sound great? Hooray.

Krzystof Penderecki - "De Natura Sonoris No. 2"
Bela Bartok - "Music For Strings, Percussion, and Celesta"
Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind - "The Shining (Main Title)"

Bonus scare jams are Thrones' "Valley of the Thrones" and Ten Grand's "Scary Movie 4". Also, White Magic's "Very Late" is both the spookiest and best song of the week. Claymation allegedly banned from TV for being too creepy and satanic can be found here. Have a scaaaaarry Hannukah!

Monday, October 29, 2007

From the page in the book that I found.
Another real quick double-post, this time focusing exclusively on some chilled-out early '70s jams. First up is Layers, Les McCann's 1973 minimal space jazz spectacular, originally put out by Atlantic and recently vinyled-up again by the impeccable folks at 4 Men With Beards, with liner notes by Bundy K. Brown (!). I may even go so far as to say Layers is the jazz synth, funk bent, ambient groove record of my dreams. "Sometimes I Cry" sets the tone perfectly with some pre-Steve Curry, soft funk relaxation, while McCann's penchant for the harder stuff (and some Ray Charles worship) creeps up on a few of the later songs, especially on "The Dunbar High School Marching Band". But it's the open-air keyboard feeling of the more silent songs that really does it for me--those warped electronic notes echoing in an empty room that may as well be the entire universe, inner and outta spaces combined in a weird but totally familiar way. Also, Layers has apparently been mined a bit by the hip-hop community (for good reason), although the only sample I recognized right away was the one from "The Harlem Buck Dance Strut" used in part of Beck, Mike D, and Mario Caldato Jr's remix of the Blues Explosion's "Flavor".

Les McCann - "Sometimes I Cry"
Les McCann - "The Dunbar High School Marching Band"
Les McCann - "Before I Rest"

Also, I've really been wearin' the shit out of my copy of Francoise Hardy's gorgeous 1970 LP, Alone. Since I'm still a novice Hardy-file, I'll defer to the guy filling in for Justin Gage and his recent synopsis of why she's pretty great (I swear I'm not copying him; I've been planning this post for weeks!), though I will add that I'd been a stickler for her French-only stuff right up until I heard Alone, one of her (I think) first few English-language albums. As usual, her work on Alone is soothing and effortless, and her accented English adds a little something, beyond just me being able to understand what she's saying. It also feels a little less like her early, French-traditional Vogue pop, and more like an orchestral folk-pop collection, a la maybe Nick Drake or someone of that ilk, though without a lot of overly self-conscious bummage. It makes me want to shift my focus entirely to her pretty substantial late '60s/early '70s output, or, barring that, travel back in time, and I can virtually guarantee you will want to do the same exact thing.

Francoise Hardy - "Magic Horse"
Francoise Hardy - "Strange Shadows"
Francoise Hardy - "I Just Want To Be Alone"

Other songs are the Mary Timony Band's "Sharpshooter" and The Clean's "Platypus". Thurston Moore has a really nice office. Ken Burns needs to do a 12-part miniseries on him talking about things. Also, there's another stellar Ariel Pink video, and Black Dice's video for "Kokomo" melted my brain with its use of Fruity Cheerios commercial footage, among other things. It's like someone stuck their Gore book in the VCR.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sad dreams blow through dark trees.
I've been on a major David Lynch kick lately, which has involved a few different things--a couple weeks re-watching Twin Peaks, braving all three hours of Inland Empire yesterday afternoon, scattered portions of Chris Rodley's Lynch on Lynch interview collection, and of course, Monsterpiece Theater's presentation of Twin Beaks. What started all this for me was Julee Cruise's 1990 album, Floating Into The Night, produced and written by David Lynch and his frequent soundtrack collaborator Angelo Badalamenti. Floating Into The Night is almost a companion piece to Twin Peaks (a la The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, Tapes of Agent Cooper, etc.), evoking the dreamy '50s love vibe and often overwhelming emotional focus on simple things (owls, fire, darkness, the wind blowing through the trees) that were so integral to the show. Cruise even performs a couple of the songs from Floating in both the pilot and in the episode where we find out for sure who killed Laura, in the scene at the Roadhouse(?) where the Giant eventually shows up and says "It is happening again". Creepy shit. Actually the only thing missing from the album is the super terror of BOB, which is maybe a good thing, although he is thanked in the liner notes (gulp).

Julee Cruise - "Floating"
Julee Cruise - "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart"

If you listen to any other songs today, they should be Family Fodder's "Savoir Faire" and Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood (RIP) doing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'". You could, should, and would hear "Savoir Faire" as part of Derek Erdman's guest set on WFMU, as well. It's on that page somewhere. Also mandatory is Anthology Recordings' new "astral folk goddesses" podcast, curated by Plastic Crimewave of Galactic Zoo Dossier fame. Even if you know for a fact you would hate an "astral folk goddesses" podcast, you will like it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fiery lovers will make you blunder.
Real quick: A couple re-issues from foreign lands. First is Soul Jazz's new Brazil 70 compilation, full of incredible post-Tropicalia folk strummings and crazy fantastic rock jams from the oppressive Brazilian '70s, featuring the usual suspects--Caetano Veloso, Tom Ze, Gilberto Gil, Rita Lee, etc. It's ok if you're not familiar with any of those names. I'd only heard a couple Veloso songs and only really liked one of them, and it was a Christmas song. Not to mention the lesser-known players in this collection are the real keepers. Also, I can't vouch for anything they're saying since I don't speak Portuguese, but I'm sure it's great. It's brilliant non white-boy shit from the best decade in music ever--you can't beat that!

Gilberto Gil with Gal Costa - "Sai do Sereno"
Jaime Alem and Nair De Candia - "Passara"
Alceu Valenca - "Punhal de Prata"

Of course sometimes you want to listen to white-boy shit, and that's fine. I was listening to The Promise Ring the other day and I'm ok with that. You could also do worse than Young Marble Giants' lone official album, 1980's Colossal Youth, originally issued by Rough Trade and recently issued again as a 3-CD set (including 7"s, demos, and a Peel Session) by Domino--although it's maybe not so much white-boy as it is white-girl, and not so much white as it is English (as in England). Young Marble Giants' work comes straight out of the sparse, intimate, sing-songy wing of the post-punk library--as Simon Reynolds describes it in the liner notes, "music by introverts, for introverts" and "the urge to cut loose checked by a native reserve and inhibition" and other comments that are totally correct. I would also add that it's music for evenings and early mornings ONLY, and that "Eating Noddemix" could pass for a Lily Allen demo.

Young Marble Giants - "Music For Evenings" (from Colossal Youth)
Young Marble Giants - "Eating Noddemix" (from Colossal Youth)
Young Marble Giants - "Cakewalking" (from the Final Day 7")

I like the Black Lips' "It Feels Alright" a lot, maybe or definitely because it contains the phrase "magic city titties". I like Black Sabbath's "Shock Wave" because it's like Sabbath covering Boston. It's the best of both worlds! Fitness freaks, check out Fantastic Family Fitness Fun, Session 1. Cool down with Dr. Dog covering REM. Look around and you can find Kaki King doing a cover with one of the Tegan and Saras.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I looked up and then looked down.
I keep going back and forth on the new Les Savy Fav album, Let's Stay Friends. On the one hand, it's a pretty good record--the songs are catchy, it's a major improvement over their last full-length (2001's Go Forth) in almost every way imaginable, and it even bests some of the more recent material from their Inches collection. You really get the feeling they're at the height of their powers (I could even say, as most other people are saying, that they're the Fugazi of the thing they do). On the other hand, it's not exactly what I wanted. I think what I was hoping for was something akin to their Accidental Deaths 7" (aka the Pop Frenzy Tour EP), released in somewhat limited numbers in 2006. Opting out of their usual crazed, verbose party punk and delving into a comparatively mellow, straightforward, almost meditative consideration of random death scenes resulted in two of the most compelling songs in their canon. On "Hit By Car" they take a mid-tempo look at a pedestrian getting struck by a passing car and feeling "like sea sprayed in the air from the blow-hole of some whale somewhere" before gliding out for two minutes without a word from vocalist Tim Harrington. On "Hit By Train" they sound like another band entirely, the only dead giveaways being Harrington's vocals and Seth Jabour's by-now unmistakable and incredible guitar work (he somehow manages to make his guitar sound like an oncoming subway train hurtling down the tracks). It's really striking, and I gotta believe a full album of stuff like the Deaths record would have been tits. But like I said, Let's Stay Friends does have its special moments. "Pots & Pans" is a good "something is very, very wrong here"-style opening salvo, like a more uplifting "Goodnight For Real", and it boils things down nicely with lines like "Has your skin grown thick from bands that make you sick?/Has your skin grown thick from a thousand stinging pricks?" (couple that with the fact that Pitchfork LOVES them, and interpret it however you want). And as briefly mentioned in one of my last posts, "Raging In the Plague Age" is the best of the best. I guess the thing to keep in mind is that, like the bulk of their catalog and like a lot of the big name shit in the indie world right now, Friends is written for an audience (maybe a particular audience, maybe just an audience period). It's Les Savy Fav trying to present something that'll affect everyone in the room in some way--melodically, intellectually, spiritually, spasmodically, etc.--and succeeding without too much pandering. Who they wrote for on Accidental Deaths (and why) is less clear and, for me, much more intriguing.

Les Savy Fav - "Hit By Car" (from Accidental Deaths)
Les Savy Fav - "Hit By Train" (from Accidental Deaths)
Les Savy Fav - "Pots & Pans" (from Let's Stay Friends)

Ennio Morricone song of the week is "Cavallina A Cavallo", which also features Ilona Staller. Two songs I never thought I'd hear at work are "Weightless Again" and "The Saturday Option". Ian MacKaye is indeed alive and well, and you should re-watch him on Soft Focus to see why that's such a good thing. Oh and I can't remember if I mentioned it before or not, but check out the Weather Report song ("American Tango") at Soul Sides. I was almost in tears just talking about this scene from Extras earlier. Don't forget to click the picture up above for an up-close adventure.