So the year’s rolling on and I’ve noticed that a few magazines/people/blogs are starting to mention end of year lists already. This year has been a bit of musical low for me so far. I’m not suggesting that there hasn’t been a lot of good music being released or reissued, it’s just that none of it has particularly engaged me so far. This does feel a bit like some kind of personal failure. Last week I popped into Rough Trade East on Brick Lane with the intention of buying something that I hadn’t heard before as a way of maybe expanding my audio horizons. They were heavily promoting the new Grizzly Bear album. I’d never heard them but I’d seen that the album had good reviews and had appeared a lot on some of the aforementioned lists. Oh and it came with a “Rough Trade Only” live EP, so I eventually decided ‘what the hell’. It turns out it wasn’t really for me at all. I also ended up with a Spacemen 3 record too which featured a couple of ‘unheard’ demos but by far the best thing on it was Ecstasy Symphony which I have already. Though it has to be said the record sleeve which is made up of triangular Spacemen 3 blotters, ala Plastikman’s “Sheet One” is pretty cool.
‘Maybe it’s ennui, maybe I’m not looking in the right place. So this is a kind of ‘things I like list’ but really what I’m saying is “any ideas please let me know”…..
The one album that I’ve really been obsessed by so far this year is Mastodon’s ‘Crack the Skye’. I really think that this is one of the best Metal albums for years. It does that incredible thing of being more complex yet more accessible than the previous album, “Blood Mountain”. I think that this could be one of those huge cross over successes like “Songs for the Deaf” was. Maybe it already is. I don’t know. It certainly doesn’t hurt this album to have Scott Kelly from Neurosis singing on the album’s title track plus it’s really short so you’re missing it already before you know it.
Ok what else.
Dälek released “Gutter Tactics” pretty early in the year, on the back of some amazing live shows at the end of the 2008. It opens with the incredibly intense “Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children’s Heads Against A Rock” and ploughs on into a hugely dense production. No doubt this is great , the only problem for me being that I loved the previous album “Abandoned Language” way too much.
There have also been a bunch of new albums by bands that have been real staples for me over the last few years. Most notably Wolves in the Throne room, Sunn O))), Current 93 and Khanate. I think so far it’s been the Khanate album “Clean hands go foul” that I’ve enjoyed most.
On the reissue front my friend Andrew introduced me to Death’s “For the Whole World to See” last week. Don’t make the same mistake I did. When he said “Have you heard Death?” I replied “Of course, I love ‘Scream Bloody Gore’!” And he said “No not those guys.” This is not the Florida Death metal guys, this is a trio, the Hackney brothers, from Detroit who recorded this in the mid 70’s. They made the move from a R’n’b/Funk background to a MC5/Stooges high energy Rock sound to record this their only (I think) record. Proto Bad Brains? Definitely worth checking out.
And lastly, though I don’t think this ever went away is Comus’ “First Utterance”.
I include this as a reissue because Clare and I had the privilege of seeing their first London show for 37 years, at the Equinox Festival a few weeks ago. Inspiring and insane. What’s incredible to see is how all the strange vocal effects on the album were reproduced live with out any digital trickery. This is the first time I’ve seen a performer producing echo by repeated smashing his fist upon his chest! Apparently they are working on some new material which I look forward to.
That’s probably about it. I’ve been listening a lot this week to Marnie Stern’s ‘This is it and I am it and You are it and So is that and He is it and She I”, but that came out at the end of last year so I suppose that doesn’t count. So please, anyone is deeply enthused by something they’ve heard recently pass it on this way. I need your help. Any suggestions gratefully received.