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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hymn Of The Big Wheel

Top/ Tormato (Atlantic, 1978) is the ninth studio album by British progressive rock group Yes, issued as the follow-up to 1977's acclaimed Going for the One. The original album title was to be Yes Tor, referring to a geological formation in southern England. The photographs taken by legendary design group Hipgnosis for the album cover were seen as so unimpressive that keyboard player Rick Wakeman, in frustration, threw a tomato at the pictures. The cover and title were adjusted accordingly. Yes are an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968, generally regarded as one of the archetypal bands and pioneers of the genre. They have sold over 60 million albums. The band's music blends symphonic and other "classical" structures with their own brand of rock music. Although the band's sole consistent member has been bass player Chris Squire, Yes are also generally noted for the distinctive high-register vocals of former lead singer Jon Anderson and the eclectic musical stylings of a succession of guitarists (including Steve Howe), keyboard players (including Rick Wakeman), and drummers (including Bill Bruford and Alan White). Long-term band members Squire, Howe, and White are currently touring with a lineup featuring vocalist Benoît David and keyboardist Oliver Wakeman. Bottom/ Despite acquiring a reputation as an example of the worst excesses of "prog rock", Tales from Topographic Oceans (Atlantic Records, 1973) became the band's fourth consecutive gold album. The album's concept, a two-disc, four-piece work of symphonic length and scope (based on the Shastric scriptures, as found in a footnote within Paramahansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi), was their most ambitious to date. The four songs of the album symbolise (in track order) the concepts of Truth, Knowledge, Culture, and Freedom, the subjects of that section of text. On release it received notably hostile reviews. Gordon Fletcher in his review in Rolling Stone described it as "psychedelic doodling". Artwork for the album (design and illustration) was done by Roger Dean. Dean designed many of the group's album covers, forming a continuing story in pictures. Dean had also created the Yes logo. The cover of Tales from Topographic Oceans has often been included in lists of the best album covers of all time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lady Dada's Nightmare

Bottom/ Moderat (BPitch Control, 2009) is an album by the electronic project of the same name with origin in Berlin, Germany. Moderat started as a collaboration between Sascha Ring, also known as Apparat, and Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, also known as Modeselektor. The album has received mostly favorable reviews. Fishpork calls first single "A New Error" one of the best tracks of 2009. Modeselektor is an electronic music band formed in Berlin, featuring Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary. The group draws heavily from IDM, glitch, electro and hip hop. In an interview the group said regarding their sound: "Happy metal, hard rap, country-ambient, Russian crunk. We don’t like it if people tag us as being a certain style or school or scene or whatever. We don’t really care about all that." Top/ Congratulations (Columbia, 2010) is the second album from MGMT. MGMT (officially pronounced em-gee-em-tee, but colloquially pronounced 'Management') is an American band based in Brooklyn, New York, consisting of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden. MGMT began writing for the album in early 2009 in a "small cabin in the woods", eventually heading to Malibu to record with Pete Kember, ex-member of Spacemen 3. VanWyngarden has stated that the album is influenced by the band's massive rise in popularity since Oracular Spectacular's release. MGMT stated that they would prefer not releasing any singles on the new album. In an interview with NME, Goldwasser explained: "There definitely isn't a 'Time to Pretend' or a 'Kids' on the album. We've been talking about ways to make sure people hear the album as an album in order and not just figure out what are the best three tracks, download those and not listen to the rest of it." On March 9, 2010, the band released the song "Flash Delirium" as a free download. MGMT have described the album as "a collection of nine individual musical tours de force sequenced to flow with sonic and thematic coherence." Writer Shelby Powell noted the group's homage to British pop musicians Dan Treacy of Television Personalities and Brian Eno of Roxy Music, complete with faux accents in MGMT's delivery on a few songs.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Get The Balance Right

"Rock The Casbah" is a single from the album Combat Rock (Epic, 1982) by The Clash. One theory is that the song was inspired by the banning of rock music in Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini. The song gives a fabulist account of the ban by the Sharif or King being defied by the population, who proceed to "rock the casbah". The King orders jet fighters to bomb any people in violation of the ban. The pilots ignore the orders, and instead play rock music on their cockpit radios. The song's lyrics feature various Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, and Sanskrit loan-words, such as sharif, bedouin, sheikh, kosher, rāga, muezzin, minaret, and casbah. According to the album notes on the box set Clash on Broadway, "Rock the Casbah" originated when the band's manager Bernie Rhodes, after hearing them record an inordinately long track for the album, asked them facetiously "does everything have to be as long as this rāga?" (referring to the Indian musical style known for its length and complexity). Joe Strummer later wrote the opening lines to the song: "The King told the boogie-men 'you have to let that rāga drop'". The Clash made low-budget music videos for several of their songs, and the one for "Rock the Casbah" may be their most memorable. Filmed in Austin, Texas, it depicts an Arab, played by Austin actor Titos Menchaca, and a Hasidic Jew, played by local stage director Dennis Razze, befriend each other on the road and skanking together through the streets to a Clash concert at Palmer Auditorium, often followed by an armadillo, interspersed with the band performing in front of an oil well.
Top/ Once described as "the sound of the earth vomiting", English post-punk band Killing Joke's music influenced many later bands, such as Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica and Korn. Ominous single "War Dance" was released on Malicious Damage in 1980. Jaz Coleman's vocals are sometimes a malevolent-sounding growl and sometimes emotional and melodic. Killing Joke's music typically consists of metallic guitars and heavy, tribal, and danceable rhythms.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Loops Of Fury

Top/ Tarot Sport (ATP Recordings, 2009) is the second studio album by the English experimental band Fuck Buttons. The album was produced by Andrew Weatherall. The songs "Surf Solar" and "Olympians" were released as singles. Fuck Buttons are a two-piece electronic group formed in Bristol, England early in 2004 by Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power. Hung was influenced by Aphex Twin, while Power was a fan of post-rock band Mogwai. Immediately after forming, they played live whenever possible, soon amassing a cult following. New-Noise said that "rarely have two men sounded so much like the end of the world" and British newspaper The Observer called their sound "A joyous racket of swirling atmospherics and percussive gunfire" in an article highlighting them in a new wave of intelligent, literate British pop music. Hung and Power use a variety of instruments including Casiotone keyboards and children's toys such as a Fisher-Price karaoke machine. Their name was chosen to sound "playful and abrasive". Mojo Magazine called Street Horrrsing, the band's 2008 debut, "A 50 minute melange of iridescent synths, psychedelic drone, distorted vocals and tribal rhythm." Time Out magazine described the band's live sound as "adrenaline pumping, ear purging slab of towering, pristine noise…". In 2009, the band appeared at the Australian All Tomorrow's Parties event, alongside acts such as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Necks and Spiritualized. The group are confirmed to play the ATP New York 2010 music festival in Monticello, New York in September 2010.
"Do It Again" (Astralwerks) is a song by the English electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers and was released as the first single from their 2007 studio album We Are the Night. The song also features Ali Love. The video for The Chemical Brothers"s "Do It Again" is similar to that of Fatboy Slim's "Ya Mama" video, which includes a tape that causes uncontrollable dancing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Big Beat From Badsville

Bottom & Top/
"Bikini Girls With Machine Guns", "The Creature From The Black Leather Lagoon" and "Her Love Rubbed Off" are some of the songtitles included in The Cramps' ninth album Stay Sick! (Big Beat Records, 1989). A punk rock band originally formed in 1976, starring lead singer Lux Interior and lead guitarist Poison Ivy (pictured above), The Cramps were part of the early CBGBs punk rock movement that had emerged in New York, along with other emerging acts like The Ramones, Patti Smith, and Television. The band is sometimes credited as one of the founders of the psychobilly genre of music. The content of their songs and image is campy, trashy Americana (alternately in the style of filmmakers John Waters and David Lynch), sexual fetichism, clever bad jokes, and cheap, retro horror B-movie clichés. Their sound was heavily influenced by early rockabilly, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll like Link Wray and Hasil Adkins, 1960s surf music acts such as The Ventures and Dick Dale, 1960s garage rock artists like The Standells, The Gants, The Trashmen, The Green Fuz and The Sonics, as well as the post-glam/early punk scene from which they emerged. They also were influenced to a degree by The Ramones and Screamin' Jay Hawkins, who was an influence for their style of theatrical horror-blues. In turn, The Cramps have influenced countless subsequent bands in the garage, punk and rockabilly revival subgenres. The band split after suffering the sudden death of lead singer Lux Interior in February 2009 aged 62. Middle/ Elvis Presley's self-titled debut album was released in mono in 1956. The cover design was borrowed, and commented on, by The Clash for the front of their 1979 album London Calling (see below).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dance This Mess Around

Bottom/ Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (Warner Bros, 1978) is the first album by New Wave musicians Devo from Akron, Ohio. The album was produced by Brian Eno, and featured a radical cover of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and the controversially titled "Mongoloid". The name "Devo"(pronounced DEE-vo or dee-VO) comes "from their concept of 'de-evolution' - the idea that instead of evolving, mankind has actually regressed, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society." Their style has been variously classified as punk, art rock and post-punk. Devo's music and stage show mingle kitsch science fiction themes, deadpan surrealist humor, and mordantly satirical social commentary via sometimes-discordant pop songs. They are best known for their 1980 hit "Whip It", and their work has proved hugely influential on subsequent popular music, particularly New Wave and alternative rock artists. Middle/ Sacrebleu (Yellow Productions, 1996) is the debut album from French producer and DJ Dimitri From Paris. His musical influences are rooted in 1970s funk and disco sounds that spawned contemporary house music, as well as original soundtracks from 50s and 60s cult movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Party. Dimitri fused these sounds with electro and block party hip hop he discovered in the 80s. And voilà! Top/ Kitschy lyrics and mood, and hook-laden harmonies, abound in The B-52's (Warner, 1979) eponymous New Wave debut album by Athens, Georgia-based rock band The B-52's. Because the words "Play Loud" appear on the original LP, this album is sometimes erroneously referred to as Play Loud. Shortly before his death, John Lennon considered the album to be his all-time favorite. Standouts include "Planet Claire", "Rock Lobster" and "Dance This Mess Around".