Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Johnny Dowd - Wrong Side of Memphis

Dark tales spun by Death's troubadour from the land where the Power's in the Blood.

"An anomaly in contemporary rock right from the start, Johnny Dowd, a 49-year old moving company owner, debuted in 1997 (in Europe in 1998) with this sparse (most of the songs feature only Dowd himself) and often morbid collection of country noir. More closely related to Nick Cave, Sixteen Horsepower, and Tom Waits than to Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, or The Jayhawks, Dowd’s twisted tales of murder, obsessive dedication, and other sinful behavior can be truly disturbing. The music is a fitting match for his lyrics: “Murder” sets the awkward tone with a hypnotic country-blues rhythm accompanied by Dowd’s distorted slur, as he reports a murder (“there’s been a murder here today, the weapon was a knife, the woman wore a wedding ring, I don’t think she was his wife”). “Ft. Worth, Texas” is the story of a convict on death row reflecting on his sinful life. The protagonist “shot and killed (his) girlfriend, then (he) sat and watched her die”. There’s no time for repentance (“there’s still too many people I hate”), although his only company is the ghosts in his head. The minimally executed and bluesy “One Way”, which contains several biblical references (a thorny crown, a sword in the side, the burden of the cross), is followed by “Sick Like a Dog”, one of the album’s scariest songs by virtue of its hypnotic percussion, eerie synths, and Dowd’s croaking voice informing us that “Momma Death ain’t got no respect”.

Songs like “Average Guy” and “Wages of Sin” are other ventures into the neo-gothic religion-obsessed worlds of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood or A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Nick Cave’s The Ass Saw The Angel, where mentally scarred outcasts try to live with their obsessions (often women, liquor, and their own sinful past).“Ballad of Frank and Jesse James,” in which the murderer of Jesse James asks to be buried next to his victim, reminds me of Lou Reed’s calmer work, with a guitar tone that’s a ringer for VU’s “Jesus”.
In “John Deere Yeller” a man expresses his lifelong commitment to a girl, whom he describes in a set of comparisons that could be a proof of his love, but sound rather peculiar (“Cotton candy sweet are the taste of her lips, like Brigitte Bardot are the shape of her hips, her mind is as blue as the Texas sky, gonna love that girl ‘til the day I die”) and ultimately obsessive ("Gonna love that girl 'til the day I die" sounds wicked, coming from Dowd's mouth). This is made even worse by Dowd’s almost drunken slur. “Thanksgiving Day” is another album highlight whose central line “Be content with your life, it may not get any better”, combined with the repetitive finger-picking and shards of electric guitar, provides an eerie and utterly original atmosphere. In “Heavenly Feast,” Kim Sherwood-Caso is introduced as (co-)vocalist. While she would play a prominent role on Dowd’s later albums, her role is limited here to three songs. Notwithstanding that fact, she does make an impression, as her clear and icy voice is the exact opposite of Dowd’s broken voice, and it’s particularly weird to hear that girlish voice (combined with the gently paced music) utter phrases such as “hung me in a courtyard, they let me hang up there a while” (“First There Was”). “I Don’t Exist” might as well have been written by Ennio Morricone, as Kim Sherwood-Caso’s soprano, and Dowd’s melancholy melodica and classic guitar strumming reminds of the composer’s classic Western-work.

All this makes Wrong Side of Memphis, despite a few minor shortcomings (“Idle Conversation” and “Welcome Jesus” are lightweight collages that merely function as atmospheric mood pieces), one of the most intriguing debuts of the past few years. It's not that Dowd's main themes (love, loss, death) are that remarkable, but the uncanny way in which he presents them, often combining seemingly contradictory instrumentation, makes sure he's out of step. With a lo-fi debut like this, it was hard to predict where he’d go next, but very few people expected him to choose the path he chose for his subsequent albums." Guy Peters


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tom Zé - Se O Caso E Chorar/Todos Los Olhos

And here I give you a twofer from the most insane practitioner of the original Tropicalia. Amazingly creative sound-searcher with the melodic gift deep within him, no holds barred. In my opinion, superior to Os Mutantes, Veloso et al. If you can guess what's the cover of "Todos..." you get a no-prize :-)

hanging gardens

Cocteau Twins - Treasure

The ethereal classic.


Chrome Children

Stones Throw & Adult Swim comp featuring MF, Dilla, Madlib & others.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Shellac - Excellent Italian Greyhound

another nicely overdriven bad-ass production from the Shellac of North America band. its all about the attitude.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bachi Da Pietra - Non Io

"Bachi da Pietra (“stone worms”) is a two-man band whose dark and resonating music wraps around tunes of desolate candour and lyrics (in Italian) as dark and imaginative as broken love can be. A relentless drumming hovers over a huge wash of ride cymbals and a deep, plaintive voice, which is able to capture sadness, anger and yearning. The entire album is a visceral emotional journey: the dissonant blues-based songs develop around the steady drone of the singer’s voice, a trance-inducing vocal presence singing of grim meditations on life that are crafted and performed with disarming sincerity. Just like the mysterious and enigmatic characters that orbited their doom-laden, disturbing world, Bachi da Pietra is an unpredictable band that leaves the listeners feeling vulnerable, moved, and sometimes totally spaced out" [Last.FM]

Non Io

Friday, June 11, 2010

Caribou - Swim

caribou did it again with a nicely sounding production but very different from his earlier works. it seems he got pretty influenced by this new electro-club fad and he did his own take on it. its full of his trademark mixture of acoustic and ethnic sounding instruments along with a tribalist percussive feel that gives his music a unique vibe.

Shellac - 1000 Hurts

steve albini is the producer man behind the magic of many albums including Slint`s Tweez, Nirvana`s In Utero, Don Caballero`s American Don and Surfer Rosa by the fucking Pixies just to name a few. he actually estimated that he has worked on like 1,500+ albums by underground artists. anyway, THIS IS HIS BAND (yeah, he actually has a band) and its pretty rough sounding, distorted bass packing, spoken word cursed and overall fucking bad-assly performed. it`s an interesting listen. give it a try.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fucked Up - The Chemistry Of Common Life

this punk-ass hardcore band from Canada shows some mad skills in music making. its a little hard these days to start a punk band and actually stand out from the rest. pushing the limits of its hardcore roots and making some good ol` noisy piss music while having a beautiful cover art for their debut album makes it worth to listen to. their live shows are a bit of a spectacle; things get destroyed and people get hurt. good times. the campo-formio boys are going to love this.