Saturday, November 27, 2004

Medeski, Martin and Wood
End of the World Party (just in case)

The trio's latest album is less weird than their last two, Uninvisible and The Dropper (which they named it, I heard, because they thought they'd get dropped from their label when the managers heard it, if that tells you anything).

To my mind this album's more consistently brillant than anything they've done since Shackman, back in 1996. In between they've collaborated with turntablists, horn blowers, and percussion ensembles. This is back to the core trio, and it's better because of it.

Listen to clips here.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Is it rock? Electronic? Hip-hop? Ratatat layers simple but precise guitar riffs over old skool drum machine beats and synths. On their self-titled album, they tweak it a bit one way and it's rockin', another and it's ambient. On their bootleg-style mix tape they kick up the bass and back a bunch of rappers, from Missy to Ghostface. I picked this album up at their show for a five spot, but as far as I can tell they've sold out of it. It probably wasn't licensed in the first place, so don't bother looking for it at the store.
The Velvet Teen: Out of the Fierce Parade

Half the time I don't know what's playing on my iPod. My friends gave me a ton of music before I left for Europe and I listen to it on shuffle and bands come on and I don't know who they are.

So I was listening to songs on the noisy bus when a heartbreakingly beautiful voice began singing. Familiar, but difficult to place. Jeff Buckley? Did I get some rare Buckley tracks from someone? The music, once it kicked in from the quiet intro, was like OK Computer-era Radiohead. I had to pull out my iPod to see who this was.

Turns out it's The Velvet Teen. I got a lot of good music from my friends, but their "Red, Like Roses," is only songs that's inspired me turn my iPod off shuffle and listen to the whole album to see what they're up to. Like in the Tom Waits lyric, I wondered, "What are they building in there?"

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Do Make Say Think

Both these Canadian groups build monumental songs by layering deceptively simple guitar riffs, exquisitely-timed drums, and punchy horns. Godspeed's sprawling songs are slow to build, but cram epic drama into their climaxes. Do Make Say Think has shorter, tighter, more accessible songs. Though I don't know what to call this music, I know it's beautiful and disturbing and amazing. And cheap. Direct orders from their label, Constellation Records, get you the cds, post paid, for only $12.

Clips of Godspeed here.
Russian Futurists

Despite being named after an art movement, just one man is behind these atmospheric organs, tender voice, and solid beats.
Tom Waits: Mule Variations

A few months back I went on a date with a girl I met on the internet. She asked why I'd picked the screen name "Big in Japan" and I told her it's a Tom Waits song. She seemed disappointed and said, "He's kind of scary." That's when I knew it was not meant to be.