Monday, December 29, 2008


Well, it's list-making time. Here are a few of the songs that I played endlessly in 2008:

"Campbell Lock" - Don "Soul Train" Campbell

A funky dance number from the creator of "locking" (soon to be paired with "popping"). Campbell was a founding member of The Lockers, a pioneering dance troupe that also featured a young Fred "Rerun" Berry and a pre-"Mickey" Toni Basil.

"Thrills and Chills" - Helene Smith

This is one of my favorite tracks from the Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label compilation. There's something about the insistent beat and reverberative organ that makes this track instantly memorable.

"The Shadow of Your Smile" - Jack McDuff

Speaking of reverberative organ, this song oozes with sensuality thanks to Jack McDuff's fluid mastery of the Hammond organ. I first heard this on the What it is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves box set, but it's originally from McDuff's Tobacco Road album. If you love soulful jazz, pick it up.

"Ice Cube Island" - Merrell Fankhauser & H.M.S. Bounty

I read about Merrell Fankhauser in high school (Richie Unterberger's Unknown Legends of Rock and Roll, again) but his stuff is so obscure that I didn't hear much of it until recently. "Ice Cube Island" is from the 1968 Things album, which is really just a great folk-rock record with slight psychedelic tinges here and there. This song, however, embraces the album's druggy subtext with a dreamy, sighing vocal and gloriously vague lyrics. (Why, for instance, does she "hate us all?") I also love the sunshine pop-esque backing vocals.

"Yokomo" - Yamasuki

I learned about this record from Oliver Wang's Soul Sides blog. Yamasuki was, apparently, a bizarre French project aiming to fuse Japanese culture with funky soul. There's a whole album of this stuff, most of it really freaking awesome. This is my favorite track from the record.

What did you keep on repeat this year?

La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela - The Black Record

This is an incredibly rare record from one of the original minimalist composers. La Monte Young was a little more out there, a little less formal than Philip Glass, or even Steve Reich. He spoke in interviews about the first sounds he remembered hearing. He was a pretty far out there guy.

This record, however, is captivating. The first track is the real reason to download it. It's very eastern influenced. In certain ways it's almost a space rock record, but it's also so completely stripped down to the basics. The second track is very much a noise composition. It's almost an early incarnation of industrial (think Einsterzende Neubauten, not nine inch nails). Anyway, download this gem and enjoy it, because God knows none of us can afford to buy it (I've seen copies go for as high as $650!).

download "The Black Record"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Rising Storm.

One of the books that I tore through as a teenager was Richie Unterberger's Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll. I learned about oodles of obscure and wonderful artists from this book. It pretty much established me as a record geek. It's worth getting.

Anyway, the book has a chapter dedicated to sixties garage rock. One of the groups that Unterberger profiles is Andover, Massachusetts' the Rising Storm. Composed of six prep school students, the band recorded and pressed an album just before their graduation. Recorded in a week for $1000, the record largely consists (typically) of covers.

Calm Before, however, also contains a few original compositions which are truly sublime. One of these cuts, "Frozen Laughter," was included on the CD that came with Unterberger's book. Quiet, mysterious, and vaguely gothic, these folk-rock originals sound otherworldly - especially for 1967. I've included three of them for your listening pleasure:

"Frozen Laughter" - the Rising Storm

"To L.N. Who Doesn't Know" - the Rising Storm

"The Rain Falls Down" - the Rising Storm


Edit: Updated links. Apparently two of them weren't working. My bad.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Walking Catfish - The R.I.A.A. Took My Baby Away

Download "The R.I.A.A. Took My Baby Away"

This is a collection of songs I've recently recorded. It's sort of a b-sides companion piece to the record I've really been working on. I just decided these tracks did not fit, so I'd give them their own home. they also seem to have a slightly more experimental feel to them. If you're interested, here's a track by track rundown.

1. I Can See -
This is an entirely vocal recording about someone who rubs me the wrong way. I recorded this song in 20 minutes, and for all its imperfections, I didn't want to go back and change anything for fear of losing any of the authenticity. It was sort of written in the aftermath of an altercation with this person.

2. Song For Jeff Mangum (slow tape phase mix) -
this is a version of a song that will be on "zero...", but in this version it's been filtered through a tape recorder and slowed down on two seperate mono tracks, which go slightly in and out of phase with each other due to the inconsistent speed of the tape player. this version of the song has a different feel from the other. that doorbell sound is a kalimba.

3. Am I A Sedative? -
here is an old song from probably 8 or 9 years ago that I always liked and never did much with. I used some of an old recording and tracked new vocals and added more guitar, as well as ukulele.

4. Giant Midgets From Outer Space -
this is an old fashioned instrumental in the vein of the ventures or the wrecking crew. my goal was simply to make it sound old.

5. A Day In The Fog -
this is a tin pan alley styled cheesy little song inspired by the goofy voices paul mccartney would sometimes use. this song makes me feel like I've become my father a bit, but here it is in all its hokey glory.

6. Happy Song Blues -
I wrote and recorded this song in 4 hours... the first time. that recording was lost, so I tried to recapture what I had done before. I think it turned out quite alright, but I'm a horrible whistler.

7. Two By Two -
I wrote the lyrics with my friend Robbie about 4 or 5 years ago. I had these samples grouped together and no lyrics to put to them. when Robbie and I had originally written it, we were combining noah and the flood, the great depression, and some post-apocalyptic scenario into a weird little story song. when I went back to read the lyrics, I was surprised by how relevant they are now. the samples are from a spaceman three song, a harry nilsson song, and a jimmy cliff song.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gibbons continued.

Alright, so this is a bit of a continuation from last week:

In 1978, Walter Gibbons mixed a single by the Luv You Madly Orchestra, "Rocket Rock" b/w "Moon Maiden." The "orchestra" was basically an attempt at combining Duke Ellington compositions with the current disco rage (seriously). Novelty aspects aside, the single is spacy as hell and unmistakably the work of Mr. Gibbons. Both sides contain phased strings, odd sound effects and latin rhythms galore. "Moon Maiden" is arguably the more unusual of the two, but "Rocket Rock" isn't exactly mainstream material. Occasionally the songs (particularly "Moon Maiden") remind me of James Chance during his Off White period.

Take a listen:

"Rocket Rock" - Luv You Madly Orchestra
"Moon Maiden" - Luv You Madly Orchestra

And since I mentioned it:

"Contort Yourself" - James White and the Blacks

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walter Gibbons.

I've been researching the career of Walter Gibbons lately. His work remains largely unknown, but his unorthodox remixes of disco hits paved the way for house, trance, and the various electronic dance musics of today. Gibbons, like Kool Herc, used two turntables (and two copies of the same record) in order to extend drum breaks ad infinitum. Dancers went nuts and Salsoul Records understandably hired him to remix their disco releases. Gibbons was influenced by dub reggae and (as David Toop points out in Ocean of Sound), his remixing techniques came to be known as "New York Dub."

Gibbons later remixed a number of tracks for Arthur Russell, a cellist whose work runs the gamut from avant garde compositions to funky dance songs. I've included one of those pieces here.

"Doin' the Best that I Can (Walter Gibbons Remix)" - Bettye Lavette

"Salsoul 3001 (Mixed by Walter Gibbons)" - Salsoul Orchestra

"Let's Go Swimming (Walter Gibbons Mix)" - Arthur Russell

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Looks of Love

"Look of Love" - Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66

"Look of Love" - the Meters

"Look of Love" - Isaac Hayes

Here's a metamorphosis for you. "The Look of Love" is a fairly lightweight Burt Bacharach tune that was a huge hit for Sergio Mendes in 1968. It was soon covered by everyone and their mom - but a few of these covers ended up completely transcending the original. The Meters totally deconstructed the Mendes version, resulting in a soulful, gritty recording that's quite a bit moodier than a lot of their sides. They recorded the song in 1969, but it wasn't released until Sundazed started reissuing their material in the late 90s. Otherwise, one might wonder if it was an influence on Isaac Hayes' epic arrangement from 1970.

And now that you're an expert, name that sample:

"Stand Strong" - Smif-N-Wessun

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mirroribis - Let's K

Here's another local who is making quality electronic music. You would think we would have some sort of venue to cater to all this local talent, but you'd be surprised how many people have made our particular local scene their enemy. If there WAS a way to promote the scene here, people would learn that not only is this a very diverse artistic environment, but that some of those among us are at least as good as anything you'll hear anywhere else (I'd have to say, sometimes better). Mirroribis makes very minimal electronic music that seems to tie the atmosphere and glitchiness of Oval together with driving Aphex Twin influenced rhythms that sound like they are made out of rough samples reminiscent of early Mum. Also, at times there is a playful toying with the very foundations of electronic music, not unlike Pan Sonic. I know I'm throwing a lot of names out there, and unfortunately minimal electronic music is one of those genres that seem endlessly wrought with reference points and "influenced by" sounds. For fans of this kind of music, it will be a welcome addition to their listening. For those who think they could scratch an Enya CD and it would sound just like Oval, this will probably be lost on you.

Download "Let's K"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Long Time Gal/Boy

Here are two vastly different versions of the same calypso tune:

"This Long Time Gal A Never See You" - Monty Reynolds & the Shaw Park Calypso Band

(available on Mento Madness: Motta's Jamaican Mento, 1951-1956)

"Long Time Boy" - Nadia Cattouse

(available on Cult Cargo: Belize City Boil Up)

The first version is by Monty Reynolds & the Shaw Park Calypso Band. Technically, Monty Reynolds is a mento artist - mento being a distinctly Jamaican form of Caribbean folk music. His version of the song is upbeat - manic, even - especially in comparison to contemporary mento artists like the Jolly Boys.

In constrast, Nadia Cattouse's take on the song is slow, romantic, and folky. I love the flautist's emulation of birdsong throughout the recording. Go buy the entire Numero Group catalog - seriously.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Os Megatons (self titled)

Os Megatons were an instrumental rock and roll band from Brazil. This record was released in 1964. Much like The Ventures, they tend to lean toward surf on most of their tracks here. the quality of musicianship and production is pretty high, and their distance from the american scene seems to allow them a unique approach, free of the cliches that are commonly found in american surf rock. This is a tight, highly enjoyable record!

Download "Os Megatons"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

the steel and brass band.

i went to an estate sale a while back and found a really strange album called "steel & brass" in a stack of (mostly) worthless records. it was in decent shape and i was somewhat intrigued, so i bought it. turns out that "the steel and brass band" was directed by this guy, an influential steel drum player from trinidad. the record contains steel drum versions of popular songs from the late sixties and early seventies. the tracks are both bizarre and really, really awesome. enjoy:

"everybody's talkin'" - the steel and brass band (yes, the fred neil/harry nilsson song)

"aquarius" - the steel and brass band (from the musical "hair")

Saturday, October 18, 2008

'nard - bernard wright

bernard wright's 1981 album 'nard is an important document of an obscure and little studied era. in the early eighties, disco was over, funk was going electro and jazz fusion was starting to become really lame. the saving grace of dance music during this period was the rise of hip hop. bernard wright was not a rapper or a d.j. - he was, in fact, a sixteen year old jazz keyboardist - but this (his debut record) combined all of the innovations of seventies' funk and fusion with the latest sounds pouring out of ghetto blasters in new york city.

wright was an integral part of the jamaica, queens funk scene, which consisted of quite a few jazz players who weren't afraid to dabble in r&b. (one of the significant hits from this period - "funkin' for jamaica" - was by moonlighting jazz musician and queens resident tom browne.) 'nard is, in my opinion anyway, probably the best record to come out of that scene. it's been sampled to death, which ought to tell you about its popularity among collectors and d.j.s. check it out:

"haboglabotribin'" - bernard wright (sampled in snoop dogg's "gz and hustlas")

"master rocker" - bernard wright (slightly dubby jazz-funk number)

"just chillin' out" - bernard wright (apparently this was the single from the record.)

"spinnin'" - bernard wright (sampled in skee-lo's "i wish")

Monday, October 6, 2008

it's time for: REVIEW A REVIEWER!

Scott Jensen - "Nothing Gold Can (or should) Stay"

the first thing I have to point out is that this outright unwarranted attack on Santogold comes to us from the same publication that gave the new kings of leon record 4 out of 5 stars (sorry scott harrell, but you admitted it was sort of biased, no?). to go on a rampage against mediocrity and celebrate it elsewhere is just inconsistent.

also, the piece in question assumes that to tear something down and spit on is to enlighten. santogold sounds nothing like either cyndi lauper OR lil wayne, but mr. jensen seems to think Santogold could be their lovechild. she has her similarities to a lot of folks, and no one is claiming her to be some sort of creative messiah. m.i.a. did the electronic stuff better, but I still think she's kicking gwen stefanie's butt in the rock arena. to site her dub influenced work as "sublime on acid (paraphrased)" not only misses the point completely, but also thinks that lee scratch perry and bob marley are the same thing. look, I don't even particularly enjoy any kind of reggae, but I still know there's a huge difference between the two. john (crayon) made sure I at least knew that.

I have another bone to pick with this article. it says that people only like Santogold's music because they're stuck up "pitchfork's ass". first of all, p4k didn't give her record the best review either. secondly, why try to set yourself apart from someone else who basically does the same thing you do? it's all radical statements to upset people into wanting to read your rag. get real. stop being such an attention whore.

-edited: correct link

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pride - Pride

It may sound like some sort of pretentious music snob joke, but there actually HAVE been records by bands that never existed. This is one of them. It was actually a project put together by David Axelrod in 1970. The vocalist is rumored to have been a former member of Love. It's a spanish style influenced psyche record with really great production (this is a surprisingly good transfer for such an extremely rare record). Enjoy!

Download "Pride"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lucifer - Black Mass

now this may sound like a sinister title, but I assure you that it's no more frightening than waiting in line for space mountain. it's an odd little electronic record from 1971. for the most part it's fairly dated, but the second track gets pretty rhythmic and almost reminds me of IDM. there are lots of moog sounds here, so if you want something kitschy to put on for the holiday season, I highly recommend this one.

Download "Black Mass"

I know I've been putting lots of weird old electronic records up, but as far as things that are so obscure that I don't have to worry about people losing money from my posting, there's a whole lot of this stuff out there. I'll try to put up something a little more accessible next time. in the meantime, enjoy the creepy goodness!

Video - from the Joon scrap book

this video is kind of old now (about a year and a half, I think), but it's a funny little artifact from our time as a three piece.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Georges Rodi - Electronic Sounds

Here's a weird old record of library music. It's almost entirely electronic (one track has guitar) with some pretty cool arrangements. I think it's from Italy, but that's just a guess. I don't know anything about Georges Rodi, so if anyone has any information about him, please comment and let us know!

Download "Electronic Sounds"

Fine Journalism

This morning I heard a news anchor use the phrase "a whole 'nother". I was confounded, really. I'm sure many of you could venture to guess which network I was watching. I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with rocks, as in "dumb as a box of..."

It's only a matter of time before Mike Judge's prophecy comes true.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Synthesizers Unlimited - Electrik Bazaar

Here is a bootleg of an unreleased, uncredited electronic funk fusion band from France. Apparently it was recorded in the early seventies (I think 1974). The Only name attached to it is Anthony King, of whom little is known. The music is surprisingly modern (especially the opening track!). Don't be surprised if you hear this sampled in the near future.

Download "Electrik Bazaar"

Missing No. - The Clatson Winic

Missing No. record their own sample sources. I'm not sure how they do it, but they make incredible electronic music out of their own home recordings. I guess I'd call it bedroom IDM. Be sure to check out the track IDX, which is a personal favorite. 

Download "The Clatson Winic"

1. Yellow Jacket
2. Outside Films
3. Suite B
4. Rose Broom
5. IDX
6. Jeighemm590
7. Kronos
8. Purple Jacket
9. Dan's Cup of Gems

Jay Tholen - Your Sonic Residence

One of the more talented and prolific artists in our area is an electronic musician by the name of Jay Tholen. This is probably my favorite of his e.p.'s (he has a good handful of them). Download it and enjoy!

Download "Your Sonic Residence"

Go, Fi, Go, Fi, Go.

I am Shayne. I play in a band called Joon. I am also in the process of starting a band called Walking Catfish, but that's sort of a slow-going process. I have a friend who plays with me in Joon. His name is John. He will be posting here as well. Together, we will tell you about music we love, music we make, and about other good music from our area. There will be lots of FREE MUSIC posted for download, but it will be posted with permission from the artists or will just be so darned old and/or obscure that copyrighting won't be an issue. Guilt Free Good Music, ya hear?