Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Leftist Rants of the One and Only Jello Biafra

For most people my age punk rock represents the rebellious nature of youth. Before the marketing machine got a hold of it, Punk was the purest form of expression you could get in music. Bands like BLACK FLAG, X and THE DEAD KENNEDYS came at life from the viewpoint of the disenfranchised and disassociated in a way that most teens could relate to. Even if you were like me and grew up in a stable, middle class environment, there was still an appeal to the anarchistic cry of the punk movement. Where NY punk was more artistic in form, the west coast scenes reveled in the sheer energy of the moment and had a more direct political bent. Leading that charge was JELLO BIAFRA.

Biafra was the manic ranting front man of the Dead Kennedys up until their dissolution over money (insert your own ironic joke here). Biafra has since formed a new collective, JELLO BIAFRA AND THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE. Their latest ep is a 6 song collection called "Enhanced Methods of Questioning." Clearly time has not calmed Biafra down as the songs rip with the intensity and spark of the Kennedys. The music is a collection of punk shredding mixed with some blues and rockabilly not unlike THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT. on the 18 minute epic "Metamorphosis Exploration On Deviation Street Jam" the backing band noodles about like a house band for a spaghetti western as Biafra stretches out some his spoken word chops. Biafra still attacks the sacred cows of the day; corrupt politicians, mass consumerism in society, and the ever growing presence of technology in our lives. The highlight for me was the more straight ahead "Victory Stinks" which sounds like something GREEN DAY would record if they were allowed to be more adventurous.

Biafra has always been something of a Punk Rock benchmark for front men. His lyrical style is akin to a sledgehammer and he leaves nothing to chance. You will get his message through his sheer will or you just aren't paying attention. Either way, he will continue to push the envelope.

(mp3) Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine -- Victory Stinks

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Bjork!!

I have always had a soft spot for BJORK and her avant garde pop sensibilities. From her work with THE SUGARCUBES on through to her outstanding early solo work, Bjork has set the bar for the melding of electronic and pop. I have often thought that Madonna's later work was her trying to cop Bjork's sound for the mainstream. Here is the first new track from "Biophilia" due out later this year. It encompasses all wide range of genres as it starts with a tinkling piano before exploding into a full on Drum and Bass cacophony at the end. I have high hopes for the entire album.

Björk - Crystalline (Full New 2011) by El Ciervo Vulnerado

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cassettes Won't Listen and the indietronic movement

Indietronic is a new term I have come across recently. When describing a band or musician that makes music that is a bit retro 80's mixed with a dash of electronic noodling and a pinch of home producing magic, you get this new sound. Most people cite THE POSTAL SERVICE as the genesis of the genre and OWL CITY as the most commercially successful. From a creative standpoint, nobody beats CASSETTES WON'T LISTEN in my book.

Opening with the instrumental club number "Friendly Float", the record finds it's groove with the two singles "Perfect Day" and "The Echoes" which askew to the formula set forth by one of my all time favorite songs "Freeze and Explode". Jason Drake, the man behind the moniker, has a thin voice but he makes the most of it and doesn't try to make his lyrics the center stage. "The Night Shines" has a very DEPECHE MODE feel to it. The instrumental numbers come off a more assured than the vocal ones with standouts such as the trip hop flavored "Harp Darkness" and the blink and you'll miss it hip-hop of "Kingdom".

Cassettes Won't Listen will probably never make the pop charts. Drake seems to interested in sonic architecture to really ever dive into a true pop record. But his work should show up here and there enough to make him a voice to be heard from a long time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Smooth Summer Sounds of Vetiver

VETIVER is the brainchild of Andy Cabic. Cabic and his revolving group of musicians have recently released their fifth album entitled "The Errant Charm' as the perfect sound for warm summer nights. Vetiver specialize is a slowed down, folky kind of the indie rock that would appeal to fans of ELLIOT SMITH and FLEET FOXES. I can just imagine turning the record on while sitting on the porch watching the sprinklers dust the lawn at dusk.

The opening strums of "It's Beyond Me" echo an acoustic take on "Love Will Tear Us Apart' until Cabic comes in with his hushed vocals. From there the vibes of THE BETA BAND take over to find a nice little groove. "Worse for Wear" continues the acoustic strum joined by a kick drum and a synth line that washes over the whole proceeding. "Can't You Tell" almost seems to stroll along to a skippy beat as Cabic evokes BECK at his folksy best. "Hard To Break" has a BYRDS feel to it as the acoustic guitar is ditched in favor a picked electric line. "Wonder Why" is a pure pop gem that will be a summer staple for the next three months. The record quiets down with the ending instrumental, "Soft Glass", that seems to signal the coming fall after month of warm shimmery light.

Vetiver are the kind of band that you might forget about until a song of theirs comes on, but when it does, for those few minutes, everything seems a little brighter.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Digitalism Loves You Dude

German dance duo DIGITALISM have made a name for themselves remixing other people's work on top of having some success on their own merit. With DAFT PUNK abdicating the techno thrown in favor of collaborations with rappers and soundtrack landscaping, Digitalism is poised to ascend to the top of the dance music mountain with their second release "I Love You, Dude"

This record has everything a dance music aficionado could hope for. The opening track is a thumping repetition of a rhythm entitled "Stratosphere" which bleeds into the poppier "2 Hearts" which is akin to DELPHIC or a more sanitized FRIENDLY FIRES. "Forest Gump" featuring Julian Cassablancas from The Strokes is the second official single and sounds as if lifted from the chase seen of a Bourne Film if it was recorded by Gary Numan. "Reeperbahn" takes the CHEMICAL BROTHERS beat patterns and vocal sampling in a very industrial direction. The highlight of the record is the club thumping "Miami Showdown" which recalls the best of THE CRYSTAL METHOD.

Clearly these boys have been studying the dance heavyweights playbook and what the record lacks in originality it more than makes up for in ridiculously catchy dance grooves. I'm sure we will be hearing more of this record is summer movie trailers to come.