Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bluck - "Blucked Up!" cassette

Bluck was a small-time punk rock band from Indianapolis, Indiana. And although they undoubtably had numerous shows around their home base of Indy, they played a single show in tiny Evansville, Indiana (where I was from) way back in 1988 or so, and were among the better skate/punk acts we'd seen, and some damned nice guys even! Consisting of Scott Courtney, Matt Price, Dave (aka Capt Chowder), and Matt Barton, these guys tore it up! I actually did a brief interview with Bluck way back when, for a local zine, Godsend, and their demotape has been in my collection ever since. It's really pretty good stuff, in a Descendents kinda pop-punk style. Since there's almost no way this will ever be in print again, I offer it here for your enjoyment. If anyone from the band wants it taken down, please let me know. It seems a couple of these songs ended up on a vinyl 7" compilation from Panx Vinyl Zine, which may've been a French mag, though I don't really have many details, and of course is quite rare and out of print. Enjoy le Indiana Punque!

Blucked Up! tape

A Bluck fanspace page!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wilco - "Wilco (The Album)" CD

Wilco are possibly the greatest American rock act you've never heard. They don't get much mainstream radio support, but their live shows sell out routinely across the country. Coming from someone who adores Wilco's 2002 masterpiece "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (maybe one of the most inspiring modern rock recordings of the decade -- seriously), and who thought their last album ("Sky Blue Sky") was boring classic rock (think the Eagles), this new Wilco is a welcome return to form. Combining the sensibilities of both their more abstract leanings and accessible rock, this pop-edged triumph has enough inventive little angles and sounds to make it an indispensable addition to my 2009's "best of" list. Beginning with the rootsy, rollicking feel-good hit "Wilco" (yeah, it's the band's ode to itself, tongue-in-cheek), it gets more serious with songs like "One Wing", which seems to be a reflective and spacious bit of wisdom. "Bull Black Nova" comes in loud and noisy, then is followed up by the plaintive "You And I" featuring lovely backing vocals by indie folkstress Feist. "You Never Know" brings to mind some of the Beatles' better melodies, and the chorus of "I don't care anymore" is typically strong, wedging itself into your head long before the song ends. "I'll Fight" is a beautiful love song to life itself. Jeff Tweedy's emotive everyman vocals are weathered/tempered perfectly, and the band's rich, expressive songwriting proves to be a perfect foil, enveloping his vocals with a diverse and lush set of sounds, tempos, and textures. From heavier rock to drifty laments, Wilco are masters of their craft. There's not a single dud here. My fullest recommendations! (Nonesuch)

Wilco World

PBK - "Under My Breath" CD

Containing a series of international collaborations with various friends and associates, this 11-track limited edition disc (500 copies) is among the darker and more satisfying PBK releases in some time. Opening with the tense and mysterious "Air Brings Sound And Soul", with Norwegian ambient wizards Origami Replicka, the disc gets more surreal and fantastic with "Poems For Painters", which includes the participation of John Wiggins. "Skin Meat Bones" (with Dale Lloyd and Wolf Eyes) is a weird and frighteningly glitchy walk into a digital funhouse, while "Fire Across Our Divide" (also with Wolf Eyes) is a subtle, creepy, and lonely alien nightscape. The beastly "Mechanism Of Concealment" (again, with Wolf Eyes) harkens back to the classic death-industrial days (think early SPK) with skittering machine noises and vinyl pops. The track with Nocturnal Emissions, "Let Me Live To Crack The Code: Revolution" is a twilight symphony of mechanical spiritflesh from the womb, simultaneously industrial and primitive in nature. In short, there's a wealth of dark soundscapes present here, and although it features a smorgasbord of participants, it's all mixed together (by PBK) into a spectacularly subtle and cohesive whole. Superlative. (Waystyx)

PBK website

PBK blogsite (with many free downloads)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Subarachnoid Space - "Eight Bells" CD

Psychedelic music is frequently seen as silly, hippie peacenik stuff. Not so with Portland's Subarachnoid Space. They dispense with that notion with reckless abandon on this, the group's 8th full-lengther. Now, I hadn't heard any of this group's music for probably nearly a decade, so I was surprised to see them still around. "Eight Bells" brings a more song-oriented direction, and also finds them with an even heavier approach than I remember. Leader Melynda Jackson and cohorts lash a ferocious, fuzzed-out, instrumental guitar rock attack with dark, aggressive, and screeching psychedelic effects and an appropriately strong rhythm section -- Jefferson Airplane this ain't, kiddies. "Lilith" opens with an oppressive and scalding series of riffs and rhythms. "Akathesia" dives in for more overloaded and dense guitars with lysergic effects, while "Hunter Seeker" is an ultra-heavy set of doomy, drone-metal riffage and thunderous drums -- a truly heavy psyche track that smokes more than a little reefer, man. Subarachnoid Space's mind-melting, brain-scarring jams are enough to please even the sturdiest metalheads, and spacy enough for fringe travelers anywhere. Unequivocally a wild (and worthy) trip. (Crucial Blast)


Deborah Martin & Erik Wøllo - "Between Worlds" CD

The sound of "Americana" is really a new development, and though it does reflect many of our "roots" in this country, it's not altogether accurate. On this series of recordings, composers Martin and Wøllo pay tribute to the true Americana - the music and spirit of the Native Americans. The worlds of healing, magic, and ritual are reflected here in these compositions, and with fellow ambient/ethno sound sculptor Steve Roach assisting, the duo explores these ceremonial spaces with location recordings, native instruments, chants, and even old 1894 cylinder recordings. "In Between Worlds" is just that -- an audio travelogue examining the spaces between the inner and outer planes, life and death, and the natural and spiritual worlds. It's a fairly relaxing, ambient sort of sound here, and tracks like "Gathering At Sunrise" are simply beautiful and uplifting collages of chant, light percussion, and an irresistibly uplifting groove. These are songs full of reverence, light, love, and peaceful oneness. Wonderful. (Spotted Peccary)

Deborah Martin bio

Deborah Martin website

Erik Wøllo bio

Erik Wøllo website

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jim Carroll 08/01/49-09/11/09

photo by Eric Thompson

Proto-punk poet, musician, and writer Jim Carroll passed away on 09/11/09. His influence on the counterculture music and literary arts was widespread and profound. He was among the legends, cavorting and collaborating with names like William Burroughs, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsburg, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Blue Oyster Cult, Sonic Youth, and many many more - some of the greatest artists of their times. Jim was in fitting company. He is best known for his song, "People Who Died", as well as for being portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in his biographical Hollywood film, "The Basketball Diaries".

"There will always be a poem
I will climb on top of it and come
In and out of time,
Cocking my head to the side slightly,
As I finish shaking, melting then
Into its body, its soft skin."
--Jim Carroll, "Poem"
from Void of Course (1998)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Nói albinói (Noi The Albino)" (director: Dagur Kári)

This award-winning 2003 Icelandic film examines the life of the intelligent but troubled teenager Noi, who lives in an isolated village with his dysfunctional family, and with little to do but slack on his schoolwork, commit petty crimes, smoke, and drink. His drab existence is altered when he meets the pretty young Iris, who he finds working in a small gas station one day. They begin a romance, and with the help of a Viewmaster given to him by his grandmother, Noi dreams of visiting Hawaii, escaping away with Iris to a better life. A massive avalanche forever alters Noi's dreams, though, and the closing scene shows him dreaming still of a faraway place. It's quite a well-done film, and although entirely in Icelandic, I could easily pick up the storyline. Tomas Lemarquis plays the albino Noi with both vulnerability and a youthful swagger, and this indie film is well worth a look as a coming-of-age tale full of tragedy and danger.