“I guess my earliest memory of vinyl began as a child. My father was a toy sculptor and made some of the most well-known action figures—Spawn, Batman figures, and so many more. My dad would work his best when accompanied by a record or cassette player.”
“Some of the vinyl he would spin wasBruce Springsteen, Warren Zevon, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles. I have fond memories of hanging out with my dad in his studio, listening to music with him. I guess that was when I developed my love for music.
Beyond that, I did not get into buying my own vinyl for the longest time. I lived in an age of CDs and MP3s. I remember the first couple of CDs I bought. The first one was Dude Ranch by Blink 182 and the second, the Pokemon movie soundtrack. And since then, I have grown to love Sonic Youth, Electric Wizard, and Ty Segall. For the longest time music was merely a sonic thing for me. I would listen to songs to dissect them and really understand the songs themselves. I wasn’t really concerned about the platform I was listening to it on.
Incoherent hushed vocals, tape hiss, and high-pitched feedback? I’ll leave it up to you to decide if “Esotro” by Lucrecia Dalt is music or nonsensical audio collage.
Around the two-minute mark the song does coagulate into a lo-fi spaghetti western riff on the Pong theme but remains unnervingly avant-garde in its approach to “normal” song structure. This signature jerky minimalism is attributed to the native Columbian’s travels across Spain and Germany, attempting to isolate certain moments in time and weave them into her personal musical tapestry.
Dalt’s new EP, entitled “EP,” explores similar non-musical tones, patterns, and prototypes. A surprisingly inventive product that places more emphasis on atmosphere than melody or arrangement. The haunting vocals and bass driven minimalism of her tunes seem to be the one linchpin holding it all together—an approach that lends some palpable weight to the enveloping clouds of white noise.
I love microwaveable serving pouch. I love box of mac and cheese. But most of all I love Can. Formed in Cologne in 1968, Can—which was one of the first Krautrock bands and in my opinion the best—integrated psychedelic, experimental, and avant-garde influences into its great and hypnotically raucous music. Can’s methods were radical—you’ve got to love a band that spent 6 hours without a break spontaneously improvising “Yoo Doo Right” in the studio, only to pare it down to 20 minutes for release on vinyl. Hell, I don’t think even the Grateful ever played for six hours straight. Can dubbed such spontaneous jams “instant compositions,” and I beg to differ. Six hours is not instant. Soup is instant. Six hours is almost a goddamn workday. Hell, if it took six hours to heat soup, I’d starve to death.
Most people consider Can’s golden years to be those when the great Damo Suzuki—whom the band discovered busking outside a Munich café and was playing with them live that same night—was the vocalist. It was during these years that Can released such legendary LPs as 1971’s Tago Mago, 1972’s Ege Bamyasi, and 1973’s Future Days. I love that trio dearly, but have always had a soft spot in my heart for Delay 1968, which was supposed to be the band’s debut album and would have been the band’s debut album had they been able to find a single record label willing to so much as touch it, even while wearing biohazard gloves. (It wasn’t released until 1981, by Spoon Records.) Often labeled a compilation album, or an album of outtakes, Can bassist and recording engineer Holger Czukay has gone on record as saying Delay 1968 was intended to be Can’s first LP and bore the title Prepared to Meet Thy PNOOM.
My reasons for loving Delay 1968 have much to do with the band’s first vocalist, the American sculptor Malcolm Mooney. Mooney’s hoarse vocals, mad rants, and odd utterances added an element of derangement to Can’s often repetitious and strange songs, which are less propulsive and Autobahn-friendly, and often bring to mind German Captain Beefheart. And Mooney wasn’t just faking those lunatic vocals—following the release of Can’s proper debut, 1969’s Monster Movie, he returned to the United States, after receiving a strong recommendation to do so by his psychiatrist. Evidently he wouldn’t stop shouting, “Upstairs, downstairs,” which I imagine must have gotten on his fellow band mates’ nerves. In any event he left, and didn’t rejoin Can until 1989, when he returned to assume vocal duties for the band’s Rite Time LP.
Canadian band STARS has reached star-status with the release of their seventh studio album and a North American tour.
This week, STARS released their seventh LP, titled No One is Lost. The album comes two years after their last release, The North. For No One is Lost, the five-piece, composed of Torquil Campbell, Evan Cranley, Patrick McGee, Amy Millan, and Chris Seligman, pursued a more electronic approach. The album has also been pressed on neon pink vinyl, a process the band recorded and published on YouTube, which you can view below.
To promote the album, the indie-pop band is heading out on tour next month, playing shows across the U.S. and Canada. Want to see Stars on their upcoming North American tour? We’ve got a pair of tickets to the show of your choice to give away. And as a bonus, the winner will also receive an autographed copy of No One is Lost on pink vinyl.
Captain Planet’s long-awaited sophomore album has finally hit the shelves and we’re looking to send one your way! Released on October 7, Esperanto Slang takes you for a spin around the globe as this “transformative LP illuminates the ‘Gumbo Funk’ producer’s fluency in breaking boundaries between genres and bridging continents through rhythm.”
Best known for drawing from a wide range of musical styles, it’s no surprise Planet’s latest album seems to effortlessly combine everything from “NY hip-hop, UK bass and Turkish psychedelic, to Nigerian afrobeat and Amazonian funk.”
“Led by the smashing Latin-House single ‘Un Poquito Mas’ featuring Spanish lyrics from fellow international beats don Chico Mann (Soundway), the album also finds Captain Planet traveling South to join forces with esteemed Argentinian electronic chanteuse La Yegros (ZZK) on ‘Que Quiero Volver,’ as well as Brazilian artists Samira Winter and Nevilton on the Samba heater ‘Tudo de Bom.’
Released a quarter century ago by the Def Jam label, Brooklyn trio 3rd Bass’The Cactus Album stands as a hip-hop classic. Due to this stature one might assume the full story behind its creation has long resided in the historical record, but that’s not the case. To get the complete scoop on this and assorted other hip-hop achievements one needs seek out the books of Brian Coleman. Aptly subtitled “more liner notes for hip-hop junkies,” Check the TechniqueVol. 2 is freshly available from Wax Facts Press.
Anybody having spent hours inspecting the treasures in a jazz-centric record shop knows LPs in the multifaceted style regularly came adorned with notes (Hentoff! Williams! Jones!) on the back of the sleeve. And folks devoting time, energy and dollars to keeping up with deluxe reissues and box sets in multiple genres understand that extensive annotation of and commentary upon background specifics was/is an expected component in the retail price.
As a relatively young art form, hip-hop has suffered from experiencing its burgeoning stylistic era(s) in a business setting that wrongly assumed buyers of contemporary music (as opposed to those dropping cash on older material) cared about little more than the sounds, the labels mostly throwing context and packaging to the wayside.
This was an easy assumption to arrive at if one’s only concern was making money. But those spending it were reliably left at mysterious loose ends. Producer credits, thank you lists, and cleared samples were a start, and interviews and articles in Spin, Vibe and The Source brought a modicum of enlightenment, but the deep investigation, which often simply entails sincere interest and respect for the subject, becoming comfortable with the artists and then asking the right questions, was lacking for years.
I’m not a dance guy. You can ask anyone. And they’ll tell you my dancing brings to mind a man in bare feet leaping about on hot coals while being attacked by a swarm of apoplectic hornets. But I do like me some good industrial/dance/noise music on occasion. So I recently checked out the defunct Düsseldorf band Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (“German American Friendship”), and boy, was I glad I did.
Not only did they release scads of great electropunk dance noise, but they actually wrote a song about dancing with Adolf Hitler! That’s right, they were Germans with an actual sense of humor! And not only that, but the brutal Thump! Thump! Thump! of their drums evoked the sound of 88-millimeter shells falling on Stalingrad. What’s more, vocalist Gabriel “Gabi” Delgado-López kinda sounded like what I imagine Josef Goebbels might have sounded like had he forgone the whole loser Nazi propaganda shtick and gone the club music route instead. In short, they made WWII rock!
D.A.F., as Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft are more popularly known, were formed as a five piece in 1978, but attrition soon whittled the band down to a duo consisting of vocalist Delgado-López and Robert Görl on drums, percussion, and electronic instruments. D.A.F. released seven LPs over the course of its career, and said LPs run the gamut from quite listenable to dead-raising cacophonies. My fave is 1981’s Alles Ist Gut (or “Everything’s Cool”). And not just because the “Deutsche Phono-Akademie,” whoever they are, awarded Alles Ist Gut the coveted “Schallplattenpreis” Award, whatever that is.
For a US lad of the late-‘80s, the indie pop of The Primitives was a welcome pleasure. Most folks know them for ’88’s Lovely and its accompanying hit single “Crash,” but after breaking up in the early-‘90s the band reformed roughly half a decade back. The group’s latest LP Spin-O-Rama is out this week via the Elefant label; if it doesn’t reach the heights of their best material it also doesn’t fall short by much, the record’s 11 tracks continuing to vindicate the rekindling of the whole endeavor.
Naturally the point is arguable, but of all the ‘80s indie pop acts to have missed the original cut for the New Musical Express’ genre-defining C86 compilation, The Primitives are a very likely candidate as most deserving of inclusion. As evidence, earlier in 2014 the Cherry Red label assembled a 3CD expansion of that release, and three tunes into the second disc one can find The Primitives’ nugget “Lazy” standing proud.
Not that one needs to buy the set to hear it. The group’s pre-RCA period as self-documented on Lazy Records has been collected and reissued numerous times and is currently in print through, wouldn’t you know it, Cherry Red. And for this writer’s money, the Lazy stuff, which contains the dandy singles “Thru the Flowers,” “Really Stupid,” “Stop Killing Me,” and a bunch more (a double CDs worth, including demos and an ‘87 live show from London’s ICA) is their strongest work.
But I will readily declare that Lovely is a fine LP in a style/scene where excellent long-playing records are, if not exactly rare, then far from common (the concept of the indie pop compilation as a spotlight for a succession of individual highpoints has endured up to the nonce). Plus, the band’s classique thrust once Aussie Tracy Tracy (born Tracy Cattell) was fully established as lead singer (replacing Keiron McDermott) made them palatable to US listeners, particularly those with an undying jones for prime-era Blondie.
Scottish indie-rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks not only have a song titled “Safety in Numbers,” they’ve found safety in numbers—by adding another band member.
Formerly a four-piece, the band has added one more member to their lineup. Now a quintet, We Were Promised Jetpacks is composed of Adam Thompson, Michael Palmer, Sean Smith, Darren Lackie, and Stuart McGachan. On the addition of McGachan, lead singer Thompson says, “It has just been the four of us since about April 2004, so having someone new with us has been an enjoyable part of the process.”
The band is kickstarting their North American tour this Friday, October 17, and they’ll be playing shows from coast to coast and Canada.
Want to see We Were Promised Jetpacks live? We’re giving away a pair of tickets to not one, but three winners to the show in the city of your choice. Find out how to win as well as what cities the band will be playing below.
“My relationship with vinyl is really new, but I kind of jumped into it head first. This time last year I didn’t even own a record player. And then a little spot called Jupiter Records opened up a quarter-mile from my house, in Wilmington, Delaware.”
“I walked up there one day and copped a copy of Dinosaur Jr.’s Bug before I even had a table to play it on. In the next few months my roommate got a job there, and as soon as there was another opening I jumped at the chance. I’ve been working at the shop for four months now.
My roommate and I got our system set up and then started handing a majority of our paychecks right back to our boss Steve, in exchange for records. That store, and vinyl itself, really changed the way I explore music. My coworker Jamie has been collecting vinyl for years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy that likes his job so much. He loves hooking people up with music that they’ve never heard before. He threw on Fresh Fruit For Rotten Vegetables one of my first days at work and I’ve been hooked on ’80s hardcore and punk ever since. He found out I never heard Minor Threat and was visibly pissed off. Now he spins a punk or hardcore record I’ve never heard of every one of my shifts.