Friday, May 26, 2006


i've noticed the dividing island by lansing-dreiden has been receiving a somewhat steady stream of praise from other blogs around the net. and that sort of surprises me. i never would've predicted this as something that would end up being embraced by the mp3 blogosphere as a whole, what with them being so busy and all with their sufjan stevens, bloc party, gnarls barkley, and tapes n' tapes infatuations. sure, the dividing island boasts some pretty accessible songs (like the fantastic "a line you can cross" available below), but in the whole scope of things, i just figured lansing-dreiden were a bit too skewed and all over the board for most people's taste.
anyway, this was one of the releases that i was looking forward to most in 2006, after finding plenty to love on their previous efforts, the incomplete triangle and a sectioned beam (ep). i may have built up my expectations too much, as i was sort of underwhelmed when i finally got to hear the album, even though there are a few very promising tracks. but maybe after that initial disappointment wears off, i'll find myself gravitating towards it again and finding more to like about the album as a whole. so i will try to keep that attitude and enjoy it for what it is. i'm just glad to see them finally getting a little more recognition.

MP3: "a line you can cross"
MP3: "one for all"
MP3: "two extremes"
from the album: the dividing island
release date: 05/09/06
label: kemado
myspace: add as friend

Buy it at Insound!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


do not underestimate what i am about to tell you:
this album has blown me away more than any other release so far this year.
and i can only see it growing on me even more with additional listens.

here are two separate accounts of my initial experiences with helios, the alias of classically trained musician keith kenniff (a.k.a. goldmund):

the first time was in my car, during my morning commute to work two days ago. as i sat at a stoplight in the early morning, an old, beaten-down, rusted-out pontiac 3000-le sat waiting for the light to turn in front of me. it held a family of three, a young girl safely belted in the backseat. as "bless this morning year" poured through my car's speakers, my mind completely zoned out as i observed them, the sounds around me slowly and completely absorbing me. a feeling came over me that was so surreal, almost angelic. i felt as though i was being given a peek into the transient beauty and harmony of humanity.

yesterday afternoon. i set my imotion speakers up on the coffee table and played this record for the second time while i sat on the couch, my two-month-old son drifting off to sleep in my arms. somewhere around track 2, "halving the compass," the rich textures and gorgeous swells of eingya became a perfect match for the replete serenity and unquestionable comfort i could see on luke's face as he slept so peacefully.
the beauty of the moment almost overwhelmed me.

while i would not endorse the comparisons myself, i can understand why people will inevitably compare helios' sound to sigur rós'. the last time i felt so moved and overcome by a piece of music was the first time i heard ágætis byrjun.

MP3: "bless this morning year"
MP3: "dragonfly across an ancient sky"
MP3: "paper tiger"
from the album: eingya
release date: 06/07/06
label: type
myspace: add as friend

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


MP3: "rally"
MP3: "long distance call"
from the album: it's never been like that
release date: 05/23/06
label: astralwerks
myspace: add as friend

Buy it at Insound!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

the walkmen

simply put, the walkmen are the cat's meow. solid!

MP3: "louisiana"
MP3: "lost in boston"
from the album: a hundred miles off
release date: 05/23/06
label: record collection
myspace: add as friend

Buy it at Insound!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

king biscuit time

steve mason released two promising ep's under the name king biscuit time while his main job, the beta band, was still in existence. now that they're not around anymore, his time has been freed up enough to turn kbt into a full-time gig. it's been rumored that, since finishing black gold, mason has quit the music biz, making this both his first and final full-length record. ouch! that's one seriously cold slap in the face - and while our other cheek is still stinging a bit from the one the beta band gave us in '04. but who knows? maybe the rumors are only as true as the same ones which were aimed at dave chappelle after he hightailed it to africa.

and then a bulletin just posted on myspace...
"i want to say thank you all so much for the messages of support and love. it has been a whacked out time for me and the messages meant so much, really. i'm very lucky to have such people who are into the moosic i make. thank you.
i do feel alot better now and will return. want to apologize for cancelling the tour but it was not possible to do it at the time. but that will be happening at some point. working with a friend on her music right now which is helping me get back into it. album came out monday, very happy with it and hope you get on it.
peace and general warm vibrations to you all,

and the whole world breathed one big sigh of relief!

thought i'd share some of the moss that the rolling black gold stone is gathering on the world wide web:

"black gold is easily the equal to anything the beta band made, perhaps even better."

""rising son" is a psychedelic lullaby that will burn itself into your subconscious whether you want it to or not, "c i am 15" is an intriguing piece of lo-fi hip-hop that just about manages to out-gorillaz gorillaz."

"this belated debut album defies you not to join the canonical dots that start, perhaps, with george harrison's lesser-known revolver songs, proceed to pink floyd's pastoral scarecrow, take the scenic route round can, kraftwerk and augustus pablo's wistful melodica, swerve off to gerry rafferty's baker street, then hit the home straight through talking heads and brian eno to arrive next door to strumming melancholics elliott smith and eric matthews."

" album of skew-whiffed pop that grabs fistfuls of electronica, reggae, avant-business, sunshine-drenched melodies and square-shouldered funk - then presses them through a cookie-cutter of oddball goodness that can't fail to satisfy."

"mason's creaky, lonely voice...was always the rubber cement that held the betas' rickety balsa wood genre constructions together. and he's yet to lose his knack for gentle beauty."

"his droll delivery is cunningly balanced by the intricate vocal harmonies which make a 33 year old scot sound like a chorus of, slightly scuffed, angels."

listen to these tunes, then say thanks and wish him well by buying his record.

MP3: "kwangchow"
MP3: "rising son"
from the album: black gold
release date: 05/15/06 (import & digital download)
label: pop tones
buy it: hmv / amazon uk
myspace: add as friend

bonus MP3: "pirates" (available on myspace)

Friday, May 12, 2006


this post really needs no explanation, does it? they're freaking GRANDADDY.
they were awesome. they were loved and had a ton of fans, but apparently only broke fans who did not have enough dough to buy their cds and t-shirts and stickers and tanks of gas. because as hard as they busted their asses for 14 years - hard to believe, isn't it? - to bring everyone some good music, at the end of the day, they didn't have much to show for it. you can only take that kinda crap for so long, you know? so they're taking their ball and going home. just like the beta band. and i don't blame them, either, but i will miss them terribly.

MP3: "jeez louise"
MP3: "rearview mirror"
MP3: "elevate myself"
from the album: just like the fambly cat
release date: 05/09/06
label: v2
myspace: add to friends

Thursday, May 11, 2006

drowned alive...or not

did anybody watch the david blaine special on monday night? that boy was hooked up to a feeding tube and a catheter (in case he had to go #1), living in an 8-foot spherical aquarium for 177 hours. i'm pretty sure that is a new world record.

as a finale to his underwater endurance stunt, blaine also attempted to set a new record by holding his breath for nine minutes - the mark was set at 8 minutes and 58 seconds by germany's tom sietas. if you saw the special or read the news, you know blaine didn't quite reach his goal - two minutes short, actually. but seven minutes and eight seconds is still pretty impressive in my book. his time was a whole minute or so better than his trainer's record and his trainer was an expert free-diver from performance freediving. it's worth noting that there's only a small handful of people who can hold their breath for more than four minutes. let's also not forget that david was chained up, too, and had to free himself from those binds while simultaneously trying to break the record. towards the end of the seven minutes, blaine began to convulse underwater, at which point the rescue team went in and pulled him out. blaine's trainer said that if they had not, he would still be in the bottom of that sphere holding his breath.

while blaine's attempt fell short of the record, i still maintain that the whole stunt was very intriguing to watch, albeit a little too stretched out for dramatic effect and just *begging* for stu scott's jaw to be duct-taped shut. throughout the whole performance, though, i found myself glued to the television to see how it would pan out.

since his release from the hospital, blaine has already been quoted as saying that he wants to give it another shot, after he's in better shape and sans the week underwater prior to the attempt.

so maybe this is a little late for this, but while the event is still fresh in people's minds, i'd like to share this playlist that i created on monday night but just didn't have a chance to upload to the web until earlier this morning. enjoy, people.


david blaine: drowned alive...or not
01 badly drawn boy - magic in the air
02 spoon - 30 gallon tank
03 pinback - soaked
04 red house painters - bubble
05 idaho - wet work
06 belong - i'm too sleepy...shall we swim?
07 múm - sleep/swim
08 m83 - i guess i'm floating
09 two lone swordsmen - hope we never surface
10 boards of canada - aquarius
11 colleen - bubbles which on the water swim
12 colleen - summer water
13 pan*american - lights on water
14 the dead texan - the struggle
15 velour 100 - sky from underwater
16 my bloody valentine - lose my breath
17 adorable - breathless
18 british sea power - fear of drowning
19 the knife - you take my breath away
20 ellen allien & apparat - bubbles
21 namelessnumberheadman - going to breathe again
22 havergal - drowned men
23 pedro the lion - winners never quit
24 the smiths - i started something i couldn't finish
25 the walkmen - we've been had

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


i guess you could safely say that daniel smith was ten years ahead of his time. he's been doing his thing since way back in 1996, playing the role of father figure to christian music's bastard stepchildren, the danielson famile. the only quandry for smith was that back then most people, especially the christian listening community, shrugged his work off as pure novelty. they never saw the genius in it. while sitting at the christian bookstore's listening station, going through demo tapes, you put a prayer for every hour into the deck and suddenly found your ears lambasted by some whacked-out freaky falsetto-ness. you passed the headphones to your friend, who then asked you "what the heck is this?" and after replying, "i don't know, but it sure is weird, isn't it?", you got a nice hardy-har-har laugh and then slapped that five iron frenzy tape into the walkman and got your ska-lleluia on.

i like what the allmusic guide has to say about danielson:
"the danielson famile is unmistakably a christian band, but in the same way that flannery o'connor was a christian writer. they reject the conventional set of christian symbols and subject matter while at the heart of every song, underneath the weirdness, is a perfectly orthodox christian message; and smith's falsetto vocals are downright shocking, an effective tool in cutting through the barriers to convey these messages. no contemporary christian radio station in their right mind would ever play danielson, they're just too out there. they sound like captain beefheart's magic band joined by the partridge family at some roadside revival along the jersey turnpike -- definitely an acquired taste."

flash forward to today, ten years and one sufjan stevens later, and - thanks to the likes of animal collective, deerhoof, devendra banhart, the microphones...and i would even include clinic - weird, experimental free-form music is "in" and daniel smith suddenly finds himself in the thick of things. honestly, who would've thunk it?
and that, my friends, is the only explanation i can find for why smith is finally getting some of the respect, attention, and admiration from fans and peers that he has always been due. ships is smith at his grandest and most grandiose, and it includes contributions from every member of the danielson famile tree over the years (yes, that includes stevens), as well as many other artists (why?, serena maneesh, the aforementioned deerhoof, etc.), is probably the most accessible and accomplished thing he's ever done and arguably the strongest batch of songs he's ever put together on a single record.

noteworthy update (thurs., 5/11): well, well, well. what do you know? the almight pitchfork has just recognized the brilliance of this record, as well. editor ryan schreiber gave it a whopping 9.1 rating this morning, welcoming it into the prestiged halls of their best new music list.

MP3: "cast it at the setting sail"
MP3: "did i step on your trumpet?"
MP3: "kids pushing kids"
from the album: ships
release date: 05/09/06
label: sounds familyre

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


i have a feeling that whenever i post tunes that are more electronic in nature and less rock-oriented, visitors of the camera as pen just sort of gloss over it. i seriosuly hope that's not the case. i actually listen to a LOT of electronic music ranging from minimal, ambient stuff to heartpounding dancefloor. and i have just as much appreciation and passion for these forms of musical expression as i do for any other form. techno is all about pulsing through your system and making you feel something, taking over your senses and your attitude. the men and women behind the decks and laptops are using the most advanced technologies our society has to offer a musician to transmit that and express that in a different manner than most would employ. that's extremely appealing to me.
perhaps that's why i've enjoyed uusitalo's tulenkantaja as much as i have.
vladislav delay - a.k.a. luomo and/or uusitalo - lies somewhere between those two extremes mentioned earlier. tulenkantaja, delay's second album created under the 'uusitalo' handle, is an intriguing and pleasureable excursion through some of his favorite pieces of finnish literature. he has basically translated these narratives - excerpts of which fill the beautifully designed cd sleeve - into "tekno" (techno heavily informed by that of berlin, cologne, and detroit) via some fairly straightforward grooves and basslines, clubby dancefloor rhythms, washes of noir-ish minor-key synths, and field recordings. there's a tremendous amount of warmth and vitality in these tracks that certainly counteracts the frosty-looking photography that adorns tulenkantaja's cover artwork.
for delay, this is a remarkably personal record. both his father and mother have roots in finnish literature; his father was an author, his mother a member of the fairly well-known, freethinking literary group of 1940s finland, the "tulenkantaja" (from which this album gets its name). for the listener, the intimacy definitely comes across, making this a very human affair, considering that techno usually has a very cold and computerized feel.

MP3: "kalajuttuja" ('fishing stories')
MP3: "lumimies" ('snowman')
from the album: tulenkantaja
release date: 05/16/06
label: v. delay's own imprint, huume recordings
BUY CD (only $12.98!)