Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ninc Inch Nails-Ghosts I-IV (for real this time)

Okay so I successfully DLed my copy of Ghosts this morning. And I just want everyone to know that i'm not going to rave about it just because it's Nine Inch Nails. I'm going to rave about it because it's really good.

Ghosts I-IV is a 36-track all instrumental collection. That may make it seem like it would be a long and difficult listen, but the total length is 110 minutes. Long yes, but the songs come and go at a pretty consistent clip. What makes this a successful album is that it doesn't fall prey to what ruins many instrumental albums, namely sameness and songs that never end. The songs are in a range of styles from Brian Eno-ish Ambient bits to all out rockers. Being that this is Nine Inch Nails there's also a lot of synth and piano. It's a varied batch of songs but they also all meld well together and the track order makes it so that no one group of songs sound like those around it. It sounds like Nine Inch Nails but is like nothing they've ever done before. Hell, there's even a few tunes you can shake your ass to!

I think this record, more than any other NIN release really shows what a studio whiz Trent Reznor is. He's had a reputation as such for a while but with his sometimes generic angsty lyrics stripped away from the music, the listener can really focus on all the levels and sounds that are coming at you. This is definitely a record for headphones, no doubt about it. Reznor has stated that he's wanted to make a record like this for a while and i'm glad he waited until he was free of record label meddling to do it because you know they would probably have had a shit fit after being presented with a double album of instrumentals. They wouldn't know how to market it and the album would thus probably disappear from the radar and miss a lot of ears that would really enjoy it. The fact that Reznor released it the way he did all of a sudden will generate a lot of press and hopefully a lot of new ears will check it out for the $5 DL fee that might not have been willing to drop $20+ on a double album. This album is truly a great one and I can't wait to hear what Reznor does next now that he's free of the bonds of the record industry.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Nine Inch Nails-Ghosts I-IV

So, much to my (and the rest of the world's) amazement when I woke up this morning there was a brand new Nine Inch Nails record out immediately. After I picked my jaw up off the ground I ordered my cd copy for $10 (plus $7 shipping). It won't be sent out for about a month but by pre-ordering it, you also got to DL the record right away. In theory. Of course the website crashed due to insane demand and pretty much everyone is having no luck actually DLing the thing. So as soon as I am able to DL my copy and give it a listen, i'll be back with a real review.

What we do know is that it's two-discs, 36(!) tracks long and all instrumental. And it will be awesome. I just can't tell you specifically why. Yet. So sit tight gentle readers!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ten Bands/Records That Need To Be Reissued

Even though the compact disc turns twenty-five this year, there's a surprising amount of amazing records that have never been issued on cd and/or were issued and immediately went out of print. Even though everyone loves talking about how the cd is dead and blah blah blah, let me tell you folks, it's going to be a long long time until the cd isn't the main format for music anymore. They're still the most profitable and it doesn't look like downloads are going to overtake them in that aspect anytime soon. So...PEOPLE THAT HAVE THE ABILITY TO GET THESE RECORDS REISSUED ON CD NEED TO GO AND MAKE IT HAPPEN RIGHT NOW! I could go on and on about this but here are just ten examples of stuff that really need to enter the digital age.

In the past five or so years there has been a lot (some would say too much) mining of the Post-Punk era. One group that has been largely ignored is bIG FLAME from Manchester. They only released a bunch of singles and eps, never a full-length. In 1996 Drag City released a compilation of their works entitled Rigour and it is now out of print in a big way and very expensive. So yeah, this needs to be re-issued. If that can't be done, then maybe they can put out a Peel Sessions compilation as these guys did four sessions. The work of bIG FLAME being unavailable leaves a crucial hole in the Post-Punk spectrum.

Chris & Cosey
When the utterly brilliant and terrifying Throbbing Gristle broke up in 1981, they split off into three groups: Psychic TV, Coil and Chris & Cosey. All are great groups and all are hard to find on CD. I have had no luck finding any C&C cds for a reasonable price. Their records may be in print in the UK (I don't know for sure) but they are damn near impossible to find on this side of the pond. So somebody *cough*MUTERECORDS*cough* need to get off their hineys and reissue these amazing records.

Desperate Bicycles
These guys are famous for two reasons: 1. Basically giving birth to the entire DIY/Messthetics Indie/Punk movement in the UK and 2. Refusing to have their stuff issued on cd. I have a couple of their tracks on comps but that's it. Guys, COME ON! Just make a singles disc. It'll sell a lot more than you think. Nerds like me have been foaming at the mouth over this for decades. Just do it!

Le Car
This cd was only issued in 2000 and thus has no reason to be out of print. It collects the eps/singles from Le Car, one half of whom was Adam Miller of ADULT. As far as I know this is the only out of print cd on Ersatz Audio. I have had zero problems tracking down the label's other releases. You know, I see Miller at shows occasionally and i'm this close to going up to him and being all "OMGWHYAREYOUSOAWESOMECANIHAVEYOURBABIES?" *ahem* I mean, "Me want Le Car cd! You give me! Hulk SMASH! Army strong!" Don't make me resort to that Adam, please.

This is Kraftwerk before it was Kraftwerk. Why this has NEVER been released on cd I have no idea. It's more of a weird "treated instruments" Psychedelic/Avant-Garde type of thing and really has little in common with classic Krafwerk. But it's Ralf & Florian from Kraftwerk. We need this! It was even released on RCA. So RCA, I know you're probably busy working on a Best Of Eve 6 disc or something just as exciting but let's just maybe consider reissuing this bad onto cd. kthanks.

The Plastics
Imagine if you will Devo if they were an insane Japanese Pop band. I don't think I really need to say anything else to convince you as to why we need these records back in stores.

The Pop Group
Considering that The Pop Group are one of the most important and essential Post-Punk groups ever their music is very hard to track down. Their first record, Y, was only available on cd in Japan for the longest time and just last year was issued on cd in the UK. It's still a pretty expensive import though. Their second record For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? has NEVER been on cd. Grrrr to that I say. Mark Stewert, if you're reading this, get 'er done!

Rip Rig & Panic
After The Pop Group broke up in 1980 after only two short years together, they split up into Maximum Joy, Rip Rig & Panic and one other band I think that I can't recall at this moment. RR&P's three full-lengths have NEVER been released on CD. I know I'm sounding like a broken record (LOLZ) at this point but geez, we're missing out on some damn good stuff here!

Squirrel Bait
Okay why this is out of print I have no idea. It was originally issued on cd back in the day on Homestead, who as we all know have been history for a while. But seriously, Squirrel Bait featured three dudes that went on to form Slint (among other groups) and another dude who went on to Bastro and Gastr Del Sol (among other groups). Hell, Drag City reissued the oop Bastro discography a few years ago so thus they (or someone) needs to reissue this bad boy pronto.

Whitehouse basically invented Power Electronics/Harsh Noise as we know it. Wolf Eyes, Prurient, Load Records and countless others owe him. Some of his later works are available on cd but the early stuff has never been reissued on cd. This stuff is some sick shit and needs to be reissued yesterday.

Well that wraps it up. I could list a lot more groups but maybe i'll save those for another day. Anything YOU want to see reissued?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Johnny Greenwood Is The Controller

For those of you not in the know, Trojans Records is the Motown of Dub/Reggae. They are the premier Dub/Reggae label and have released legendary recordings by all the biggest names in the genre. They also put out amazing compilations, mixes and box sets. One of their latest mixes was curated by none other than Johnny Greenwood, guitarist for some college rock band name Radioshed or something. I guess his band wasn't doing anything important so he took up the offer from Trojan Records to make a mix of his favorite Dub/Reggae tunes. So here it is.

First off, in the Reggae vernacular the "Controller" is the person who controls the record, aka the DJ. So now that the title of this album makes sense to you, let me take a moment to tell you how great it is and how much you should check it out, especially if you're not a Dub/Reggae fan. It's awesome. You should check it out. Especially if you're not a Dub/Reggae fan. Ha.

Anyways, on here you'll find classic cuts by legendary artists such as Gregory Isaacs, Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters, The Heptones, Junior Blyles and Demond Dekker & The Aces. One of the highlights is a cover of Fever (you know, the Madonna song...lolz) by the aforementioned Junior Blyles, the first time I can stand listening to that song. One of the things I love most about Dub/Reggae is the production, specifically the echoing vox and the bass. And for all you kids that think Dub/Reggae is crap let me tell you that if it weren't for this stuff bands such as The Clash and Public Image Ltd. would probably sound vastly different/suck. Even Johnny Greenwood's band, Radiationhead, is influenced by Dub/Reggae. Maybe they'll make something of themselves yet!

Monday, February 25, 2008


The French may have contributed a lot of great music to the world, but generally one thing they've left little mark on is Rock. Yes yes, once in a while a legitimate rock band comes out of France like Metal Urbain but this is rare. And there are always synths involved. The French are more about dancin' (Daft Punk), beard scratchin' (Jean Michel Jarre) and lovin' (Serge Gainsbourgh) than rockin'. Which leads us to Turrzi. Turzi is described by their label as French Modern Psychedelic Music. They are a real rock band with guitar, bass, and percussion. That being said some of the guitars are synthesized, and there are also keyboards and something called a potentiometer. Don't ask me what that is, i'm not a tech head.

I heard about these guys last year and they seemed mildly interesting. I finally picked up the record and was amazed how really great it is. At first I dismissed the "Psychedelic" tag but it is pretty appropriate. They mix up traditional rock stylings with more Electronic/Avant-Garde bits & pieces. It's a cohesive record and it...well...rocks. Another aspect of their sound is a definite Krautrock motorik-type rhythm straight out of the Neu! songbook. I love how propulsive this makes some of the tracks like A Notre Pere and Atilla Blues. Oh yeah, and all the song titles start with the letter A so i'm sure this is some sort of a concept record. Typical artsy French!

I think I enjoy this record so much because it's Art-Rock but it still has the "oomph" of Trad Rock, which is something a lot of more Avant-Rock forgets. I think this would be a really good record to drive around in late at night. Amadeus just pulses with energy. Throbs really. There's also a definite Kraftwerk influence as well, but that can be said about 99% of the last thirty years of Electronic music. So check Turzi out, this is a band who mixes Art, Dance, Rock, Pscyh, Krautrock and more into a really compelling listenable record. I can't wait for B.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins-Zeitgeist

I reviewed this record right after it came out last summer on my livejournal and after re-reading it I would definitely say I like it more now. At the time I was just basically upset because it was a record i'd been waiting for seven years to see the light of day and there was no way it was ever going to meet my expectations no matter how great it was. Such is the price they pay for my uber-geekdom.

Listening to it now I'm still comfortable saying that it's not as amazing as my memories of first falling in love with the Pumpkins as a teenager are. Again, this is not Zeitgeist's fault. So let's talk about the actual record. This is probably the hardest rocking Pumpkins record so far. Gone for the most part are the Goth and Shoegaze influences that gave the Pumpkins such a unique sound in their hey-day. Tracks like Doomsday Clock and Tarantula rock and they rock hard. If anything, Zeitgeist brings out the the side of Billy Corgan who rocked out to Kiss and Iron Maiden records as a kid.

It's not all Detroit Rock City though. Death From Above rumbles by with big guitars AND some New Order-ish synths added to the mix. Bring The Light has a great intro but then just turns into another four-on-the-floor rocker. Throughout the entire record, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, the only other original Pumpkin on board, is probably one of most underrated drummers of his generation. Whereas most bands of the last twenty years have drummers who stylistically do little to define their band's sound, Jimmy's drumming has always provided the much needed backbone to Billy's guitar heroics. Overall, I like Zeitgeist and am glad the Pumpkins are back making records. I just hope the next Pumpkins endeavor has a wider array of sounds and genres that made them such a fascinating band to begin with.

Atlas Sound-Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel

This record really surprised me. I was assuming before I heard it that it would sound very similar to Bradford Cox's main gig, Deerhunter, all noisy Art-Rock and distortion. But this is one helluva a lush record. Think Caribou meets The Sea & Cake. Heck, their's even some soaring Post-Rock Sigur Ros-ish type vocals/sounds going on. I would say overall that I like this record in that it wasn't what I was expecting at all, but at the same time it sounds fairly generic and like a lot of 00's Indie Electronic records. It's not really standing out for me.

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice record and everything but it certainly isn't blowing me away like Deerhunter blew me away. And one thing that kinds of worries me is that Deerhunter recently went "On Hiatus" which could mean a lot of things. I'm guessing one of the reasons was that Cox wanted to work and promote the Atlas Sound record. Hopefully Atlas Sound won't be an ongoing concern and the more exciting Deerhunter will return to action soon.

I also have a feeling that this record is going to be a grower for me. I only got it earlier this week and haven't fully absorbed it yet. I feel like i'm being overly negative about this album because it's not Deerhunter and you should never review a record based on what it's not but what it is. Maybe I should review it again in six months after it's had time to sit in my brain for a while. I do think that this is a record that will be able to be appreciated by people other than Deerhunter fans and should be able to find it's own little niche. It's nice to see that Bradford Cox isn't just a one-trick pony and with Atlas Sound shows us he's as capable of making a pretty record as he is making a noisy record.