Monday, June 18, 2007

5 A Day: Day 1

I should note before I start, these aren't all albums that I have had in my archive for years. The albums that I've chosen are albums that have no listens in my iTunes, even though I've actually heard all of the albums today. This won't be true on all days. It just worked out that way today.

Here is a really, really innovative video for the Band Fujiya & Miyagi. It's for Ankle Injuries.

Album Reviews:

Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things

Fujiya & Miyagi is a three-piece band that plays live electronic music in the vein of LCD Soundsystem and Stereolab. It is synth-driven and very Neu!-style kraut influenced. This is actually a very good, creative album. The primary problem with this album is that it is not consistent throughout. The beginning of the album is its strongest part. The first three tracks where the band locks into the groove are the strongest. The band falters when they enter into playing standard, uncreative indie rock fare, i.e. losing the groove or start-stopping. These songs aren't bad, but they are not interesting enough to return to. This is actually OK because the good songs are really, really good. Like mixtape material good (not every song can make it into mix tape consideration). I'm looking forwards to see where this band goes next because this album was a little bit raw and their sound could have been further refined.

Galaxie 500 - On Fire

I'm not sure that I can say anything new and insightful about this particular album. This is an album that means a lot to different branches of the indie movement. Galaxie 500 is considered a forerunner to two fairly important indie movements of the 1990s: slowcore and shoegaze. This album is G-500 at its peak, displaying its full talents as a band. Dean's voice soars over languorous guitars, solid bass lines provided by Naomi, and spartan drumming by Damon. It all came together to create a beautiful sound and show the simple depth and magic of Galaxie 500. Dreamy, evocative, creative, melancholy, experimental yet utterly listenable. This is a fabulous, beautiful album. A must listen for anyone who calls themselves a shoegazer or is into slow guitar jams.

Urang Otan - S/T EP

Urang Otan is a relatively unknown art wave band. This five-song EP is from Zoar Records and was released in 1981. This band has post-punk elements that remind me of early Talking Heads, Size, and Au Pairs. The band combined these with no wave components as it was in the same scene as those bands. Additionally, Urang Otan shares more than a little resemblance with Bush Tetras in their adoption of adding dance rhythms to angular sounds. The EP displays a band that uses lock grooves to make dark, intense songs about living the urban experience interesting, danceable, and challenging. If you are unfamiliar with no wave, I would recommend starting somewhere else such as Liquid Liquid, ESG, or something involving James Chance or Arto Lindsay (DNA, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, James White and the Blacks, early Golden Palominos come to mind). If you are familiar with no wave/early 80's Downtown NYC underground rock, it is worth your time to search this out.

Zodiac Killers - Radiation Beach

Zodiac Killers are garage punks from the tradition-laden Bay Area of California. Keeping in that history, Zodiac Killers reminded me a lot of some stalwarts of that scene the Mummies because they are raw, uncut, fast, loud, frenetic, swaggering, and really fun. This is one of the most urgent albums I've heard in a long time that wasn't made by a band that specializes in song blasts like The Locust, Dwarves, XBXRX, or An Albatross. Zodiac Killers kicked out ten songs of fury in only 20 minutes. And, even though the album was done quickly, it was packed with inventive lyrics, quality musicianship, and a good vibe. They were actual songs with verses, choruses, bridges, and rhythm. I was surprised to hear such talent on display in such a small package. I'm disappointed that this is their last album because I would have loved to seen where this band went from here. Definite recommendation.

Wolf Eyes - Burned Mind

Burned Mind is the first release by Wolf Eyes for the Sub Pop label and the difference from their early work is clear. The production of the tracks is sharper, allowing more space for the sound to develop and envelop the listener. This is to the band's benefit as the new space allows for terror and confrontation to develop within the rise and fall of the music, making the overall listening experience much more satisfying and interesting. Burned Mind is far more accessible than their other albums. This doesn't mean that you will find yourself cruising down the road, jamming out to Stabbed in the Face. But, it does mean that if you want to understand noise, this is probably the best opportunity that you will have to do so because it will not be easier. I should note that while Wolf Eyes did clean up their sound, this doesn't mean they've compromised their sound. In all honesty, I think that this is one of their most brutal albums as the beats and ambiance are both much more terrifying and intense. I recommend this album as much as I can recommend a noise album, which means that if you hate drum machines, squelches, violent music, dissonance, atonality, and discordance, you probably should stay far away from this one. If you are willing to branch out and experience the brutality, Burned Mind is more than willing to kick your ass.