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Monday, August 20, 2012

Together In Electric Dreams

Bottom/ Faith and Courage is the fifth full-length album by Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O'Connor, released in 2000 on Atlantic Records. The album includes the single "No Man's Woman," and featured contributions from Wyclef Jean of the Fugees and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics. On the eve of its release, O'Connor came out as a lesbian, and then retracted the statement. Her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, was reissued in 2009 with an accompanying bonus disc containing B-sides and previously unreleased material. The Serenity Prayer, an originally untitled prayer, most commonly attributed to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, kicks off the album in the song "Feel So Different". Top/ "Produced under the universal influence of C.O.I.T. (Compagnie d'Opera Invisible de Tibet)", You (Virgin Records, 1974) by progressive /psychedelic rock band Gong is the third of the legendary Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy of albums, following Flying Tea Pot and Angel's Egg. Their music has also been described as space rock. From the infamous Camembert Electrique (Virgin, 1971) on, the Gong mythology is a collection of recurring characters, themes, and ideas that permeate the albums. Among them are the mythology's central character, Zero the Hero, the "great beer yogi" Banana Ananda, the Octave Doctors, Hiram the Master Builder, as well as a number of Pot Head Pixies from the Planet Gong. These pixies are green with propellers on their heads, and they fly around in teapots. In Angel's Egg, the second installment of the trilogy, Zero locates the Planet Gong, and spends some time with a prostitute who introduces him to the moon goddess Selene. Places evoked throughout the Gong mythology include the One Invisible Temple of Gong, Bananamoon Observatory and the Isle of Everywhere. The characters of the story are often based on or used as pseudonyms for band members.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

...And The Forest Began To Sing

Bottom/ The Lost & Found is an EP record by Rasputina, the first edition of which was self-released in 2001 and the second edition released in 2003 by Instinct Records. It consists of covers of songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, Marilyn Manson, Pat Benatar, The Velvet Underground, and Led Zeppelin, as well as a rendition of Mother Goose's nursery rhyme "This Little Piggy." Rasputina is a cello-driven band based in New York that is renowned for their unconventional and quirky music style as well as their fascination with historical allegories and fashion, especially those pertaining to the Victorian era. The group is fronted by cellist/vocalist Melora Creager, who also writes all of the lyrics and creates art for the band's albums, singles, and website. Album releases include How We Quit the Forest (1998), Frustration Plantation (2004) and Oh Perilous World (2007). Sister Kinderhook, the seventh full length LP album from the cello-rock outfit, was released on June 15, 2010 on the Filthy Bonnet Co. label. Middle/ Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts (Columbia, 1999) is the second album by the British indie and psychedelic rock band Kula Shaker. Like its predecessor, K, the album continues the band's hybrid of 1960s-style psychedelic rock, groovy indie pop, and Indian instrumentation, albeit with a more progressive rock slant than on previous releases. Musically, many of the songs make use of Beatles-influenced psychedelic effects, swirling guitars, and Indian chants. Top/ The Secret Migration (V2 Records, 2005) is the much-anticipated sixth album by American indie rock group Mercury Rev. With their early records, Mercury Rev offered experimental, psychedelic rock, which gradually shifted to a melodic, ornate sound. Labeled anything from chamber pop to space rock, their music is often compared to the Flaming Lips' lush, multi-layered psychedelic arrangements.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Beautiful Chaos

Bottom/ The Return of the New York Dolls: Live from Royal Festival Hall 2004 (Attack) captures the reunion of the U.S. proto-punk/glam rock group at the 2004 Meltdown Festival in London, curated by Morrissey. Formed in New York City in 1971, the New York Dolls prefigured much of what was to come in the punk rock era and even later; the Dolls' visual style influenced the look of many new wave and glam metal groups, and their playing style set the tone for many later rock and roll bands such as Kiss, Hanoi Rocks, Blondie, The Clash, Ramones, Guns N' Roses, The Damned, Japan and The Smiths. They were also a large influence on the Sex Pistols. Top/ Self-titled debut album Psychedelic Furs (Columbia, 1980) by English post punk band The Psychedelic Furs was produced by Steve Lillywhite and includes "India" and "Sister Europe". The band recorded their next album, Forever Now, with producer Todd Rundgren in Woodstock, New York. The Psychedelic Furs is an English rock band founded in 1977. Led by singer Richard Butler and his brother Tim Butler on bass guitar, the Psychedelic Furs are one of the more successful acts spawned from the British punk rock scene. Their music went through several phases, from an initially austere art rock sound, later touching on new wave and hard rock. They scored several hits in their early career including "Love My Way" and "Heaven", but were launched to international attention in 1986 when movie director/writer John Hughes borrowed their song title "Pretty in Pink" for his movie of the same name. The Furs went on hiatus in 1991, and the Butler brothers formed a new band called Love Spit Love. The Psychedelic Furs later regrouped in 2001 and continue to perform around the world. Richard Butler has released a solo album called Richard Butler, and has hinted at a possible new Furs album. In 2011, the band launched a spring/summer tour of the U.S., performing the album Talk Talk Talk in its entirety.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You Can Be Special, Too

Top/ The album cover for Aion (4AD, 1990) by Dead Can Dance shows a detail from the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch's triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Assigning a musical genre to Dead Can Dance is difficult, as its style is particularly eclectic. However, its early work could be considered darkwave. In their later work, including and subsequent to the release titled The Serpent's Egg, Dead Can Dance would take ancient or various musics from around the world as primary sources, with contralto Lisa Gerrard singing glossolalia (commonly called "speaking in tongues"), giving it a very distinctive style. As a result, their later albums such as Into the Labyrinth (1993), Toward the Within (1994) and Spiritchaser (1996) sound quite different from the first three. Various sources have labeled those latter releases as neo-classical, or ethereal. Bottom/ "More Than This" is a single from Roxy Music's eighth studio album Avalon (Virgin, 1982), generally regarded as the culmination of the smoother, more adult-oriented sound of the English art rock group's later work. Cover painting ‘Veronica Veronese’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1872. Bill Murray performs More Than This in a memorable karaoke scene in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation, directed by Sofia Coppola.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Kiss In The Dreamhouse

Floored: Something Wrong (Recall, 2003) is the second album by electropop darlings Bang Gang from Iceland, starring songwriter/producer Barði Jóhannsson who formed the band and lives in Reykjavík. Middle/ Mixing influences from trip hop, rock, rhythm and blues and pop, Dive Deep (Echo, 2008) is the sixth studio album by English group Morcheeba. It is also the second studio album recorded without former lead singer Skye Edwards. Dive Deep features many guest vocals, such as acclaimed singer-songwriter Judie Tzuke on the first single "Enjoy the Ride". Billboard described the album as a "gorgeous collection of folk- and blues-inflected electro-pop ballads". BBC Music noted that guests "appear chosen less for who they are than what they can bring, sweet and soulful voices that supply an emotional backbone to the Godfreys' languid, slo-mo funk grooves." Morcheeba's most popular albums include 1996 debut Who Can You Trust? and 1998's Big Calm. They achieved huge international pop crossover success with the single "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" in 2000. Top/ Always in style: high priestess of punk Siouxsie explores a variety of musical styles, including pop, glam, industrial and electronic in her first solo album MantaRay (Universal, 2007), preceded by the "Into a Swan" single. Siouxsie Sioux is the lead singer of Siouxsie & the Banshees, formed at the advent of the British punk scene, and that soon became one of the major bands in the post-punk erea. The Banshees' music influenced a wide range of very diverse bands over the years, amongst them The Cure, Massive Attack, Garbage and more recently LCD Soundsystem. Key albums by Siouxsie and the Banshees include Kaleidoscope (1980), Juju (1981) and A Kiss in the Dreamhouse.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever

Bottom/ Album title The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (International Artists, 1966) by The 13th Floor Elevators is purported to be the first use of the word "psychedelic" in reference to music within. The 13th Floor Elevators was an American acid rock band originally from Austin, Texas, from late 1965 until 1969. The band found only limited commercial success before dissolving amid legal troubles and drug use. However, as one of the first psychedelic bands, they have been cited as an influential proto-punk group. Their biggest hit "You're Gonna Miss Me", a Billboard #55 hit in 1966, was later to be considered a landmark in the history of garage rock and the development of punk rock. The band's classic line-up featured singer/guitarist Roky Erickson and electric jug player Tommy Hall. The "electric jug" sound would become the band's signature and trademark. Middle/ Starring Jeff Bridges as "The Dude", The Big Lebowski has a soundtrack (Mercury, 1998) that was composed by Carter Burwell, a veteran of all the Coen Brothers' films. T-Bone Burnett, who also worked with the Coens on O Brother, Where Art Thou?, is credited as music bibliographer. Top/ Gazeuse! (released as Expresso in the U.S.) is an album by Pierre Moerlen's Gong, issued in 1976 on Virgin Records. ‎ Pierre Moerlen's Gong is a jazz fusion outfit which is very different from the first incarnation of Gong, the psychedelic space-rock act led by Daevid Allen. Amid a flurry of lineup changes in the mid-1970s, including the departure of founding members Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth, Moerlen was asked to co-lead the band with Didier Malherbe and Steve Hillage, guitar player of Gong, who himself left shortly thereafter, only appearing on a couple of tracks on the next album Shamal. Pierre Moerlen (1952 - 2005) was a French drummer and percussionist, best known for his work with Gong and Mike Oldfield. Pierre Moerlen's Gong is notable for the prominent use of mallet percussion, such as marimba, xylophone, and vibraphone.

Monday, June 4, 2012

C'mon Feel The Noize

Bottom/ Kimono My House (Island, 1974) was Sparks' third album, scoring a number 2 hit with the glam single "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us". In contrast to the esteem in which they are held by such peers as Morrissey, Depeche Mode, New Order and the Pet Shop Boys, who all cite the L.A duo of Ron and Russell Mael as a major influence, Sparks' almost constantly changing styles —including glam pop, power pop and electronic dance musicand unique visual presentations have sometimes seen them dismissed as a novelty act. The album title is generally assumed to be a pun on the Rosemary Clooney hit "Come on-a My House". Sparks have been highly influential on the development of popular music, in particular on the late 1970s scene, when in collaboration with Giorgio Moroder (and Telex subsequently), they reinvented themselves as an electronic pop duo, and abandoned the traditional rock band line up. The 2002 release of Lil' Beethoven, their self-described "genre-defying opus", as well as the more recent albums Hello Young Lovers (2006, their 20th studio album) and Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (2008) have brought Sparks renewed critical and commercial success, and seen them continue to "steer clear of pop conventions." On August 14, 2009, the band premièred the radio musical The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman. Middle/ LP It's Only A Movie (Raft Records, 1973) is the last original studio album by English rock band Family before they disbanded that year. Top/ Single "Afrodiziak" from debut album Glee (Audiogram, 1997) by Bran Van 3000, an electronica collective from Montreal, Canada founded by the DJ James Di Salvio.

Monday, January 9, 2012

That Great Love Sound

Bottom/ Chemical Chords (Duophonic/4AD, 2008) by Stereolab includes the tracks "One Finger Symphony", "The Ecstatic Static", "Fractal Dream of a Thing" and "Vortical Phonotheque". Stereolab are an alternative music band formed in 1990 in London, England. Called "one of the most fiercely independent and original groups of the Nineties", Stereolab were one of the first bands to be termed "post-rock". Their primary musical influence is 1970s krautrock, which they combine with lounge, 1960s pop, and experimental music. They are noted for their heavy use of vintage electronic keyboards, and their sound often overlays a repetitive "motorik" beat with female vocals sung in English or French. Stereolab often incorporate socio-political themes into their lyrics. Some critics say the group's lyrics carry a strong Marxist message, and songwriting team Tim Gane (guitar/keyboards) and Lætitia Sadier (vocals/ keyboards/ guitar) admit to being influenced by the Surrealist and Situationist cultural and political movements. However, Gane is sceptical of labels such as "Marxist pop", and defends the band against accusations of "sloganeering". Top/ On Pretty In Black (Columbia, 2005), Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo from Danish pop duo The Raveonettes lay down hard-edged electric guitar songs overlaid with liberal doses of noise. Characterized by close two-part vocal harmonies inspired by The Everly Brothers, their songs juxtapose the structural and chordal simplicity of 50s and 60s rock with intense electric instrumentation, driving beats and often dark lyrical content, similar to another of the band's influences, The Velvet Underground.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Detour Thru Your Mind

Top/ Scorpio Rising (Concrete, 2002) is the third album by British electronica band Death in Vegas. The album takes its name from an experimental film by Kenneth Anger. Scorpio Rising features guest vocalists Liam Gallagher, Hope Sandoval, Nicola Kuperus, and Paul Weller, as well as string arrangements by Dr. L. Subramaniam. "23 Lies" includes a sample from "Goin' Back" by The Byrds, written and composed by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. "Scorpio Rising" takes its main riff from "Pictures of Matchstick Men" by Status Quo. Several songs on the album have appeared in television advertisements and on film soundtracks. "Girls" is featured on the soundtrack to the 2003 film Lost in Translation, directed by Sofia Coppola. "Hands Around My Throat" is featured on the Animatrix soundtrack. Middle/ Tuning in with Clearlight Symphony (Virgin Records, 1975) by French progressive rock band Clearlight, led by keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux. Featured on Clearlight Symphony are friends from the Gong family, among them saxophonist and flutist Didier Malherbe, f.k.a Bloomdido Glad de Brass, one of the founders of the Canterbury sound band Gong. Malherbe is currently performing his own brand of wind-led, acoustic ethnic-jazz under the name Hadouk Trio with multi-instrumentalist Loy Ehrlich, and percussionist Steve Shehan. Clearlight's music has been called symphonic, sometimes psychedelic. Artwork by Jean Claude Michel. Bottom/ 10 000 Hz Legend (Astralwerks, 2001) by French electro band AIR is the follow-up to their debut LP, Moon Safari, once called a "pop masterpiece". On this album, more electronic-oriented experimentations find the duo expanding their capacities and working with other artists including American musician, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Beck and Japanese rock band Buffalo Daughter.