Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lee Ranaldo - 1997 - Amarillo Ramp (for Robert Smithson)

Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth)'s Amarillo Ramp starts with a 32 minute guitar layering epic. Followed by an abstract jam with bandmates Thurston Moore & Steve Shelley that fans of the SYR series will definitely appreciate. "Notebook" has him doing spoken word over a jangly guitar soundscape. "Here" is an acoustic instrumental bit. The album caps off with a fantastic cover of John Lennon's "Isolation".

Have a listen!

Here' a video for "Notebook":

Friday, January 30, 2009

Esquivel - 1957 - To Love Again

Esquivel's debut album is a fine showcase of his quirky and exotic music. Tight arrangement and nice dynamics. Plenty of horns and slide guitar. Great use of voice as an instrument. There are hardly any words - mostly syllables. Loungy, elegant and futuristic. Esquivel always aimed to harness the true potential of stereo sound, so do yourself a favor and listen to this on a nice system.

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Plus-Tech Squeeze Box - 2000 - Fakevox

Plus-Tech Squeeze Box makes zany, hyperactive pop music that brings to mind getting candy stuck in your teeth watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Wacky samples, excellent musicianship and cutesy female vocals. Perfect for A.D.D. moments and remedying bad moods. This album is a gem. You gotta hear it!

Have a listen!

Here's a video for "Early Riser":

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sebastien Tellier - 2001 - L' Incroyable Verite


In 2001, Air released this debut from Sebastien Tellier on their Record Makers label. One can't help but notice the similarity, but that doesn't mean this is a knock off. Tellier goes with a more minimal and intimate sound. There is no percussion and little vocals on this album. Those who caught him as the opening act for Air on their 10,000 Hz Legend tour (myself included) were in for a real treat.
He suggests you listen to this album alone and by candlelight.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for "Universe":

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult - 1995 - Hit & Run Holiday

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult provide the soundtrack for a fictional psycho beach party film. Sleazy, dangerous and sometimes elegant. Great for late night driving when you're up to no good.

Have a listen!

Here's an unofficial video for "Portrait of the Damned":

Friday, January 23, 2009

Toxic Lipstick - 2005 - Prisoner of Hormones

Electro-breakcore female duo Toxic Lipstick sing about sex, drugs and My Little Pony to a barrage of sassy beats. Imagine Captain Ahab and Hentai Cum Dungeon giving birth to two girls. I love it!

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Failure - 1996 - Fantastic Planet

Ken Andrews (ON/Year of the Rabbit) and Greg Edwards (Lusk/Autolux) wrote some great songs together. On their third and final (self-produced) album as Failure, they really showed what they were capable of. The album opens and closes with the sounds of a windup toy. Sci-fi themes meld with autobiographical bits. Great melodies and layers of guitar feedback. Tracks transition nicely and make for a solid listen. Standouts include "Blank", "The Nurse Who Loved Me" & "Another Space Song". One of my all-time favorite albums. Too bad they couldn't get along. Failure disbanded a little over a year after this album's release.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for "Stuck on You":

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gary Wilson - 1977 - You Think You Really Know Me

Gary Wilson pours his heart out to real (or imagined?) lovers. Fun, dancy and dark at times. It's like porno music for bad acid trips. Recorded in his parents basement. This album has inspired a league of home recording artists.

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kenji Ozawa - 2006 - Ecology of Everyday Life

Kenji Ozawa's (who played in Flipper's Guitar with Keigo Oyamada/Cornelius) instrumental "Ecology of Everyday Life" is a nice fusion of jazz, R&B and drum & bass. Exotic and loungy. Great background music for getting things done around the house.

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - 2003 - Vrioon


The pulsing bass and microscopic fax machine-like beats of Alva Noto compliment the sparse, emotive piano work of Ryuichi Sakamoto (Yellow Magic Orchestra). An exercise in minimalism, for sure, but sometimes less is more.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for "Trioon":

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Astroid Power-Up! - 2003 - Google Plex

Astroid Power-Up! makes some of the most interesting and complex music I've heard to this day. They claim the electronic programming in the music is an interpretation of a mathematical signal from outer space. Seemingly random computer tones, flute and saxophone set to virtuoso jazz drumming. No description can really do this album justice. You just need to hear it for yourself. This should be a must in everyone's collection.

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Jesse Hughes - 2004 - A Pair of Queens

Jesse Hughes (Eagles of Death Metal, Desert Sessions) covers two Queens of the Stone Age songs ("Go with the Flow" & "I'm Gonna Leave You") in the boogie rock fashion you'd expect from him. Good, but mostly for collectors.

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Radio Dept. - 2006 - Pet Grief

Swedish dream pop group The Radio Dept. make light and pleasant music. Nice drum programming and piano work. Layers of warm synthesizers replace the distortion usually found in this field. The guitars are there, but kind of take the back seat. For fans of Slowdive and Depeche Mode.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for "The Worst Taste in Music":

Like A Tim & Gina V. D'orio - 2004 - Bass Girl

Electro/IDM producer Like A Tim and Gina V. D'orio (Ec8or, Cobra Killer) do synthesized renditions of 9 American pop classics. My personal favorite is their cover of "Lonely Sea" by the Beach Boys. This would have gone over well at a prom in the 80s.

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Landing - 1999 - Centrefuge

Landing makes some of the most soothing music I've ever heard. This EP is no exception. Subtle guitar delays play off of slow pulsing synthesizers. Sparse drums and simple bass lines bring it all together. This album is perfect for relaxing after a long day. Warm and floaty. One of my favorite records to fall asleep to.

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Cubismo Grafico - 2007 - Nuit

Multi-instrumentalist shibuya-kei producer Gakuji Matsuda delivers another diverse collection of pop gems. This time, set to the theme of night. Sounds range from shoegaze, rock, synth pop, techno and even Caribbean. Plenty of drum machines, guitars, & warm synths. Catchy and pleasant. This album would be great for AM driving.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for "Sequenced Time":

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fireball - 2006 - Blessed Be

Fireball is five girls from Brooklyn. On their debut "Blessed Be", they deliver four tracks of unforgiving, distorted psychedelic rock & roll. It sounds like they recorded this on destroyed equipment in a dumpster (I say that affectionately). If you're tired of the plethora of over polished garage rock options popular these days, this will be refreshing. Rock & roll the way it's meant to be. Loud! For fans of Amon Düül and Black Sabbath.

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Comus - 1971 - First Utterance

This album brings to mind a campfire scenario with arcane rituals performed by twirling gypsies. Psychedelic folk with nice strings, hand drums, flutes, and spooky male/female vocals. Very theatrical.

Have a listen!

Here's a video of recently reunited Comus performing "The Herald":

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Super Madrigal Brothers - 2006 - Baroque in Voltage

Classic baroque pieces recomposed in 8-bit form by Oliver Cobol followed by the abstract reworkings of Fashion Flesh. Essentially two albums in one! One is like a playful trip through medieval times, and the other a computerized trip on LSD. I've provided multiple playlists for alternate journeys.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for Oliver's version of "Sing Care Away":

John Maus - 2006 - Songs


John Maus' (who plays with Ariel Pink and Animal Collective's Panda Bear) "Songs" album is a nice exercise in 80s nostalgia. Old synthesizers and drum machines with simple, yet effective bass lines. Imagine Ian Curtis singing about grandma's inability to hold her bladder or the woes of job hunting over "Tony's Theme" from Scarface and you're pretty close. Apparently this album took five years to make. Take 45 minutes to listen to it.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for "Maniac":

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Yellow Magic Orchestra - 1978 - Yellow Magic Orchestra


On their debut album, Japanese trio Yellow Magic Orchestra blend exotica and synthpop - and with amazing results! Fun, tasteful and danceable. Peppered in here and there are nods to classic games that were modern at the time. Track 3, "Simoon" almost has a glitch-hop feel. This album is seriously great. Ahead of it's time.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for "Computer Games/Firecracker":

Dymaxion - 2001 - Dymaxionx4+3=38:33

A compilation of four 7" EPs. This sample-heavy disc feels like a soundtrack to a quirky spy movie. Awkward stop/start rhythms, surf guitars, electronic noodling and excellent lo-fi production. Definitely worth repeated listens, as it gets better with each one. Track 10, "Sm Head, Lg Torso; Crushing Grip" is a standout. Try tracking down Gay Beast's cover of it. Also really good!

Have a listen!

Sorry no video.

Gonzales - 2004 - Solo Piano

Gonzales is a man of many faces. He's released several pop and hip-hop albums, produced artists like Peaches and Feist and is a key member of all-star puppet rap group Puppetmastaz. Shedding the silly yet lovable "Chilly" persona, Gonzales takes a step in a more serious direction with his "Solo Piano" album. Here we have 16 beautiful classical pieces. Not a surprise considering he's been playing since age 3. This album is a pleasure from start to finish. My personal favorites are "Gogol", "Dot" and "The Tourist". Great for relaxing, late nights and candlelit dinners. A must for anyone's collection.

Have a listen!

Here's a video of him performing "Gogol":

YMCK - 2005 - Family Racing

YMCK is a three piece Chiptune group from Japan. Playful jazzy arrangements with cutesy female vocals. The amount of notes in each song is dizzying. It's impossible to be in a bad mood when you're listening to this. Great for bike rides!

Have a listen!


You haven't had the full YMCK experience until you've seen one of their videos (one of the three members is their video artist), so here's a video for "Milky Blue":

Kahimi Karie - 1994 - I am a Kitten: Kahimi Karie Sings Momus in Paris


Kahimi Karie sings the most charming renditions of five of the best songs later to be released on Momus' "20 Vodka Jellies" album. Cute. Fun. Breezy. This would make for great patio music on a sunny day.

Have a listen!

Here's a video for the title track:

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cornelius - 1997 - Fantasma

Keigo Oyamada aka Cornelius is a mastermind. On his 1997 album "Fantasma" he blends a kaleidoscope of sounds. Genre-hopping effortlessly. One minute you're listening to a funky hip hop instrumental and the next it morphs into lush string arrangements, bursts into all out rock and roll, then somehow finds it's way back again. All of the tracks transition perfectly. Solid from start to finish. The only thing I don't like about it is that it ends!

Have a listen!


Here's a video for "Star Fruits Surf Rider":