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Raised Eyebrows: NMASS 2017 (Randy)

July 14, 2017

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The dog days of summer are here in Austin, TX folks. It’s HAF. Overwhelmingly so. And though there may not be a way to beat the heat, there is a way to profoundly radiate over at the New Media and Sound Summit (NMASS) at Springdale Station (979 Springdale Rd Austin, TX 78702) THIS WEEKEND!

NMASS is entering it’s 8th year as Austin’s premiere 3-day collaboration and creation festival, celebrating and exploring the work of musicians and sound artists; both local and international. Over the years, the fest has been host to giant experimental talent including Jandek, Gary Wilson, and Man Forever.

This year, NMASS plans to host several experimental workshops, have a Q+A with N.Y. artists Rucyl, and present a discussion on 20th Century female composer Maryanne Amacher, with Amacher biographer Amy Cimini (Assistant Professor of Music at UC San Diego.)

This will be the first year the festival will be held at Springdale Station. Organizers are feeling positive about the change, saying “Our program is somewhat limited in quantity this year due to the space but the quality of this year’s performances should be really great.”

Big props to this festival and its organizers. In a city where commerce is becoming increasingly important and art less so, NMASS is a great example of an event that puts art, discussion, and community first.

See the full NMASS 2017 Schedule HERE

Here are my picks for NMASS 2017:

C Spencer Yeh
Who knows what the hell he will have up his sleeve for this performance. Whatever it is, you can bet it will be rad.

Alex Keller and Sean O’Neil
I’m a fan of Keller’s 2016 LP Indian Lake. From what I’ve heard, these guys create a space within a space. You know, like a door that leads to a room that has no door.

Amy Cimini’s Maryanne Amacher Presentation
UC San Diego Professor of music and Amacher biographer Amy Cimini talks about Amacher’s 30 year career as composer and installation artist. Should not be missed.

A/B Duo
One of the most accessible and exciting acts on the bill at NMASS this year.

Rucyl
Brooklyn artist Rucyl is RAD. Her mix of analog synth, hushed vocal, and minimal soul is ULTRA. She will part of a Q+A during the fest, installation and performing a solo set!

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Raised Eyebrows: 2017 So Far (Randy)

June 23, 2017

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2017 is looking pretty, pretty, pretty good thus far for records. Ambient music is having a true renaissance, some artists are making pure statements and others are successfully treading new ground. So let’s take a look at the some of the best releases thus far in 2017, shall we?

1. Hayden Pedigo – Greetings From Amarillo

My pick for album of the year without question. I don’t think this one can be beat. A highly authentic 30 minute contemplative journey that demands repeated listens.

2. Chuck Johnson – Balsams

A remarkable veer in direction for Johnson. Balsams is positive music. At his highest moments, Johnson’s steel is divinely reassuring.

3. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – On the Echoing Green

I can’t think of anything that blends ambient and shoegaze better than this LP. On The Echoing Green is completely addictive; as blurry as the highway lines in the Texas heat.

4. Happyness – Write In

These guys get my vote for best Pop album in 2017 until further notice. Write In hits that spot between Baroque Rock, Power Pop and Indie slack perfectly.

5. Brokeback – Illinois River Valley Blues

Illinois River Valley Blues is already one of those records for me that represent a specific time and place in life. That’s a very special thing for a record to do. This band deserves so much more attention. Since Brokeback and the Black Rock, they haven’t missed a fucking note.

6. Billow Observatory – II: Plains/Patterns

Totally gorgeous ambient workouts. Relaxation cannot be escaped.

7. Jake Xerxes Fussell – What in the Natural World

This one sneaks up on you and bites you on the ass. What in the Natural World is a reminder of the meditative spirit that eternally lives deep within southern traditional musics. Fussell has made a record that hangs as heavy as anything by Ry Cooder or Mississippi John Hurt.

8. Ryan Adams – Prisoner

I don’t give a shit. I love this record. Prisoner has more honesty than anything by Adams since 2005. In 10 years time, it will be considered the classic that it is.

9. Chihei Hatakeyama – Mirage

Another stunning ambient work to come out this year. Mirage sounds exactly like its title; an illusion.

10. Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness

Thurston Moore can do what he wants. So why/how does he continue to slay? I can only assume it can’t be helped. Rock N Roll Consciousness is Moore’s best solo record by a country mile.

See my 2016 picks – Here and Here

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Raised Eyebrows: Dick’s Picks Vol. 1-36 (Randy)

May 19, 2017

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Since the long-awaited release of The Grateful Dead’s historic May 1977 run a few weeks back, my eternal love for The Dead has been rejuvenated and endless ultraness has been revealed. 5/8/77 is without a doubt one of the Dead’s finest hours. It includes one of the few “New Minglewood Blues” I will proudly jam, the ultimate version of “Loser” in my book, and a peak version of “Brown Eyed Women.”

Beyond 5/8/77, I have continued to mine the wealth overflowing in the Dick’s Picks series started by Dick Latvala back in ‘93. I thought I’d share some of my favs & new discoveries from the series with a playlist that features a pick from all 36 releases. Buckle up!

Vol. 1 12/19/72 Tampa, FL

Finest “Weather Report Suite” they ever did IMO. Bob’s phaser is LOCKED. End coda is crucial and one of the few times they circle back to it to end.

Vol. 2 10/31/71 Columbus, OH

Highest “Dark Star.”

Vol. 3 5/2//77 Pembroke Pines, FL

This “Eyes” is a long one and I have a soft spot for it. Some of Jer’s most gymnastic playing.

Vol. 4 2/13/70 New York, NY

Though a little thin sound-wise, this “Dire Wolf” is PEAK. This has mostly to do with Jerry’s ability, around this time, to carry the whole crew on his back.  The man was touched.

Vol. 5 12/26/79 Oakland, CA

Not usually a choice for me but, this “Big River” is GREAT. Jer plays his ass off and Bob doesn’t stray.

Vol. 6 10/14/83 Hartford CT

A rare and rad version of “Althea.”

Vol. 7 9/9/74 London, England

One of my fav Picks as a whole. You can’t go wrong with much of anything here but the “Stella Blue” is PURE.

Vol. 8 5/2/70 Binghamton, NY

Getting into earlier versions of “Morning Dew.” This one is LOCKED.

Vol. 9 9/16/90 New York, NY

A No-Brainer. “Hell In A Bucket” opener. Great song that gets a solid treatment here.

Vol. 10 12/29/77 San Francisco, CA

Monster “Terrapin Station.” Complete with that sweet chill end they were doing in ‘77.

Vol. 11 9/27/72 Jersey City, NJ

Jer is unstoppable on this “Cumberland Blues” and the singing is good too!!!

Vol. 12 6/26/74 Boston, MA

Another almost perfect Picks release. I could have chosen a lot from here but this “To Lay Me Down” is DEEP.

Vol. 13 5/6/81 Uniondale, NY

‘81 was a good year for “Cassidy.” This one has got some HEAVY AURA through the pre-chorus/solo.

Vol. 14 12/2/73 Boston, MA

Top 5 “Half-Step.” Vol. 34 11/5/77 is another.

Vol. 15 9/3/77 Englishtown, NJ

More ‘77 HEAT. All-time “FOTD.”

Vol. 16 11/8/69 San Francisco, CA

Peak garage Dead RIGHT HERE.

Vol. 17 9/25/91 Boston, MA

Don’t sleep on ‘91 folks. Gold in them hills. Nice “Tennessee Jed” here with Jer sounding strong and the band on their game.

Vol. 18 2/3/78 Madison, WI

RAD early set “Cold Rain and Snow.” Need I say more?

Vol. 19 10/19/73 Oklahoma City, OK

When it comes to “Playing In The Band,” you can’t go wrong with ‘71 or ‘73. This is a strong one from ‘73 that goes WAY OUT.

Vol. 20 9/28/76 Syracuse, NY

I am in love with the jam that precedes “The Wheel.” Vocals and playing here are ON POINT.

Vol. 21 11/1/85 Richmond, VA

One of the worst Picks releases due to the band’s halfhearted performance. “Stagger Lee” manages to get Jer stoked for 5 minutes or so.

Vol. 22 2/23/68 Lake Tahoe, CA

KILLER version of “Viola Lee Blues.”

Vol. 23 9/17/72 Baltimore, MD

OH MAN. DO NOT MISS THIS “Sing Me Back Home.”

Vol. 24 3/23/74 Daly City, CA

This release is pretty rough due to it being a Wall of Sound-era soundcheck. The band manages a soothing “Black Throated Wind.”

Vol. 25 5/10/78 New Haven, CT

This “Deal” is a pleasure from start to finish.

Vol. 26 4/26/69 Chicago, IL

SG-era Jer is up there for me. This “Cryptical Envelopment” is one of the band’s best.

Vol. 27 12/16/92

Jer’s vocals in the early 90’s have just got this black magic. The band is TIGHT by this time. There was room to explore like there hadn’t been since ‘71. Check the solo on this “BEW” and my fav bridge in any song ever.

Vol. 28 2/26/73 Lincoln, NE

A celestial “Jack Straw” from a very solid show.

Vol. 29 5/19/77 Atlanta, GA

One of the best Picks in the series. YOU CAN’T GO WRONG. Highest “Peggy-O” they ever did IMO.

Vol. 30 3/28/72 New York, NY

Tight “Mr. Charlie” happenin’ right HERE.

Vol. 31 8/4/74 Philadelphia, PA

Not my fav Dead song but this “Scarlet Begonias” cannot be denied.

Vol. 32 8/7/82 East Troy, WI

A lackluster Picks release overall with a couple highlights. This “U.S. Blues” features Bobby on slide and Jer having an OK time.

Vol. 33 10/9/76 Oakland, CA

A crisp “Franklin’s Tower.” A grower.

Vol. 34 11/5/77 Rochester, NY

High flying and rare “Candyman.”

Vol. 35 8/7/71 San Diego, CA

‘71 versions of “Casey Jones” do not disappoint. SICK TONES.

Vol. 36 9/21/72 Philadelphia, PA

You know it’s on when “Black Peter” shows up in the set.

Read my other SOTO article on The Dead HERE.

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Raised Eyebrows: Choice Ra Cuts (Randy)

April 21, 2017

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Sun Ra was an artist who was way ahead of the curve. He was so ahead of the curve, that we may never catch up to his music or his views in our lifetime. But it’s fun to try! This month I’ve got some choice cuts from the realm of Ra spanning from 1956-1970.

Photo courtesy of lib.uchicago.edu

“Sunology Pt. 2” from Supersonic Jazz (1956)

This is an all-timer for me. The head on this tune is absolutely timeless. Sun Ra does not get credit for being an absolutely brilliant hard bop composer/improviser.

“Angels and Demons at Play” from Angels and Demons at Play (1960)

This album is where the Arkestra jump ship and begin going into their own territory. Without a doubt, one of Sun Ra’s finest moments on record.

“New Horizons” from We Travel the Spaceways (1961)

A beautiful ballad (recorded in 1956!) that makes a left turn towards funk/fusion.

“And This is My Beloved” from Bad and Beautiful (1961)

One of Sun Ra’s most accessible records. This tune (not a Sun Ra original) achieves a raw and haunting kind of sound. Brilliant playing across the board on this album.

“When Angels Speak of Love” from When Angels Speak of Love (1963)

This album is where Sun Ra and the duo of Marshall Allen and John Gilmore begin to veer farther from bop and more towards freedom jazz than ever before.

“Mu” from Atlantis (1969)

A very playful meditation from Sun Ra and his solar sound organ. A joyful noise.

“The All of Everything” from The Night of the Purple Moon (1970)

A wonderful record featuring the rare small Sun Ra group session. Roksichord and flute abound!

Sun Ra recommended albums:

Angels and Demons at Play

Bad and Beautiful

Interstellar Low Ways

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Raised Eyebrows: RIP Larry Coryell (Randy)

March 24, 2017

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Photo courtesy of @JYPSEYE

First wave fusion guitarist and Texas native Larry Coryell passed away in February at the age of 73. Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas and spent his formative years in Seattle before moving to New York in the mid 60’s. There he cut his teeth with Chico Hamilton, Gabor Szabo, and Gary Burton. Coryell is perhaps best known as the founder of The Eleventh House, one of the premiere fusion bands of the era.

In his book, Improvising: My Life in Music, there’s some really rad stories including when he turned down being in Miles Davis’ band and still doesn’t know why, where he turned down an offer to record a solo on one of Hendrix’s bigger tunes (photo of Coryell and Hendrix featured above) and the time he found himself ill-prepared in the studio recording with Robbie Robertson.

Coryell’s playing bridged rock and jazz unabashedly. Evidence of his unique, savage style lies on a number of recordings; ranging from his early 70’s Vanguard LPs to The Eleventh House to Mingus’ later recordings. He is missed and there will definitely never be another like him.

Here are my top 5 Coryell cuts.

“Lady Coryell” from Lady Coryell (1969)

This track is LC at his wildest and most PURE. Shit gets real at 3:30. The track features Roland Kirk’s drummer, Bob Moses and LC on guitar and bass. STUNNING.

“Ann Arbor” from The Restful Mind (1975)

LC in an acoustic setting. One of his finest compositions. Leaves me speechless every time. The track features ECM artist/guitarist Ralph Towner.

“Scotland I” from Offering (1972)

LC at his highest powers and his BEST RECORD. Offering finds Coryell and his band Foreplay, whose lineup includes the great Steve Marcus, just SLAYING.

“Stiff Neck” from Lady Coryell (1969)

Another from Coryell’s first solo LP on Vanguard. The track features the legendary Elvin Jones and according to Coryell’s book was also supposed to feature Jimmy Garrison on bass but he was late to the gig … so they went on without him. SO MUCH VIBE.

“Scotland Part One” from Aurora Coreyllis (2016)

Finding this compilation that was released just last year has been a revelation. The first four cuts find Coryell performing most of Offering at a jazz workshop in Boston, MA in September of 1972. Heavy improvs here and of course, Coryell is ON FIRE.

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Raised Eyebrows: Jazz Freedom (Randy)

February 16, 2017

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Things aren’t great right now for lots of reasons. I think often of a quote from Sun Ra that says, “The real aim of music is to co-ordinate the minds of the people into an intelligent reach for a better world and an intelligent approach to the living future.” I have little other commentary except than that to me, Jazz is the purest sound of freedom and one of America’s greatest global contributions. Below are some pieces (all from Bandcamp) that may aid in processing, coping, enlightening, accepting, observing, and ultimately resisting all negatives. Jazz continues to give our collective freedom new voicing against all evil.

Jessica Ackerley Trio – Coalesce

Ackerley’s “‘merica” is all form and chaos and may be a telling fortune of our trajectory.

Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio – Desire & Freedom

“Freedom Is A Two-Edged Sword” is not only a true statement but also a PURE expression.

Charles Rumback – In The New Year

“In The New Year” is a devotional piece that speaks directly to the hopes and disappointments we have had already or will have in 2017.

Sunwatchers – Tomb Howl

This band is not fucking around. “Herd of Creeps” is the second line at the jazz funeral for the current regime.

Bad Luck – Three

“Ideal City” by Bad Luck is a free drone worthy of every moment you’ve spent trying in vain to find the sliver of light.

William Hooker – Heart of the Sun

“Reflector of Truth” is immediately brilliant. If you need inspiration today, THIS IS IT.

Shabaka and The Ancestors – Wisdom of Elders

One of the best albums of 2016 and “The Observer” is one of its finest spiritual moments.

Henry Threadgill – In For A Penny, In For A Pound

Henry Threadgill won a Pulitzer Prize for this astounding LP in 2016. His works are embodied duality, much like the world we inhabit.

The Claudia Quintet – September

“The Coping Song” by The Claudia Quintet is a reminder of the passing of time and somehow clarifies how we got to now.

Makaya McCraven – In The Moment

“In The Moment” is an improv’d meditation and a good reminder on how to approach life under any climate.

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Raised Eyebrows: 2016 Hangover (Randy)

January 20, 2017

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2016 was a year many of us of would like to have forgotten for a variety of reasons. But as stated before, for better or worse, 2016 was one of the finest years for music this century. I was able to wrangle together mixes featuring 90 different records from 2016 that needed your attention in a few articles for SOTO. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Now that the sun has set on 2016 and the shit is prepared to hit the fan in 2017, I’m taking a look at a few records that didn’t get their due and a few rad LP’s about to be released. Peace attack 2017.

Suzanne Kraft – What You Get For Being Young

After obsessing over Kraft’s wonderful 2015 LP Talk From Home, I was stoked to have this meditative effort around to close out the year/be hopeful for the new one.

Wovenhand – Star Treatment

Ex-16 Horsepower leader is now taking his solo acoustic project into foggy, whip chain noir territory.

East of the Valley Blues – EOTVB

A sort of acoustic instrument ambient record. Waging heavy peace.

Pete Astor – Spilt Milk

I was late to the game on this one. A superior pop record and a shooting star in the Astor catalog.

Immersion – Analogue Creatures Living on an Island

Each song a journey with no real destination. Every sound adds to the dream.

Chris Forsyth and The Solar Motel Band – The Rarity of Experience

Late on this one too. This band hits every pleasure point. Best descriptor is PURE HEAT.

Shearwater – Jet Plane and Oxbow

I am a sucker for the motorik groove found on Radio Silence.

Scott Hirsch – Blue Rider Songs

Hiss Golden Messenger engineer gets his Double-J Cale groove on.

The Mood Illusion – Strangers in the Night

Austin’s Bob Hoffnar leads you and his band through a non-ordinary trip through the places behind the places that you thought you were headed to.

Rob Noyes – The Feudal Spirit

Guerilla guitar soli.

Noveller – A Pink Sunset For No One

Drowning in sound, lost in dream, followed by land. Truly original scapes from Sarah Lipstate.

Brokeback – Illinois River Valley Blues

I love this band. Interplay for days from these Chicago heavies.

Michael Chapman – 50

Living legend Michael Chapman celebrates 50 years in the tunnel with an album made with friends and admirers.

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Raised Eyebrows: Top Albums Of 2016 So Far – Part 2 (Randy)

November 11, 2016

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2016 may be a bad year for many things but music is not one of them. It’s now confirmed (by me) that 2016 has been the best year for music this century! We haven’t even hit December yet and the amount of quality releases put out in 2016 is just GONZO. Back in August, I put together Part 1 of great 2016 releases and now here’s Part 2.

1. JH Guraj – Underrated Glances at the Edge of Town

This record is pure heat. These are guitar explorations to help you go way in or way out.

2. Shabaka and The Ancestors – Wisdom of Elders

The best spiritual jazz record so far this century.

3. Terry Allen – Lubbock (on everything)

A reissued TRUE classic from 1979 by Texan genius Terry Allen

4. Big Star – Complete Third

This record means the world to me. Some of what is revealed is truly terrible and some of it is what I’ve hoped to hear my whole adult life.

5. Hiss Golden Messenger – Heart Like A Levee

They did it. If this doesn’t put them on top, I do not know what will.

6. Jack Rose – Dr Ragtime & His Pals

This is THE entry point for the highly influential Philadelphian picker named Jack Rose. Three cheers for Three Lobed!

7. Fennesz & Jim O’Rourke – It’s Hard For Me To Say I’m Sorry

A truly moving ambient work by the best dudes.

8. Nathan Bowles – Whole & Cloven

A really personal record that takes the banjo into wholly new territories.

9. Mary Lattimore – At The Dam

A powerful record that requires some attention and multiple spins with continued payoff.

10. Nels Cline – Lovers

The artistry and attention to guitar tone and sound is totally sick on this record.

11. Jerry Garcia – Garcialive Volume 7

‘76 Jerry is the best Jerry.

12. Scientists – A Place Called Bad

Bout damned time this band got their due. Highly influential and killer slop rock.

13. Cavern of Anti-Matter – I’m The Unknown (Single/EP)

Tim Gane is on fire and bringing more kraut-inspired heat!

14. Indoor Voices – Auratic (EP)

The best Nu Gaze release this year BY FAR! Their LP that also came out this year does not touch the deep magic they hit on this EP. A must for those who love on Loveless.

15. Ultimate Painting – Dusk

A slightly darker record compared to Green Lanes. These dudes haven’t disappointed yet have they?

16. Phil Cook – Old Hwy D (EP)

This EP of instrumentals from HGM sideman and ex-Megafaun member is just wonderful.

17. Kacy & Clayton – Strange Country

This Canadian duo channels brit-folk and appalachian influences effortlessly.

18. Roy Montgomery – RMHQ

4 Discs of guitar explorations from ex-Pin Group leader.

19. Califone – Roomsound (Deluxe Edition)

This record informed so much that would come after. The band in their heyday creating high level hypnagogia country music.

20. Health & Beauty – NO SCARE

Radically strange mix of emo and indie with some truly BURNT guitar workouts.

21. Koen Holtkamp – Voice Model

Holtkamp makes up half of Mountains and collabs with folks here and there but seems to save the further reaches of his art for his solo records. This one goes deep.

22. Vanishing Twin – Choose Your Own Adventure

Really fun record full of twists and turns in the throwback dream-pop department. (See; Broadcast, Death and Vanilla)

23. V/A – Power to the People! A SURVEY OF ZIMBABWE’S REVOLUTIONARY 70S ROCK SCENE

Worth it to hear Wells Fargo’s song Watch Out! alone.

24. Federico Durand – Jardin in invierno

This is Durand’s second release this year and he continues to slay.

25. Daniel Lanois – Goodbye To Language

Lanois returns to his beginnings in ambient.

26. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Pronto Monto (Reissue)

This one flew under the radar. SO GLAD it’s back in print.

27. Daniel Bachman – Daniel Bachman

This one will be is gonna blow minds everywhere.

28. V/A – Imaginational Anthem Vol 8 – The Private Press

Tompkins Square digs deep and pulls out some true next level finds.

29. Game Theory – Lolita Nation

A 1986 classic is now back in print with a complete reissue.

30. Yussef Kamaal – Black Focus

Out of this world beat oriented jazz

31. Ulrika Spacek – The Album Paranoia

To the letter indie rock that will scratch an itch for anyone already into that kinda thing.

32. Flyying Colours – Mindfullness

Another GREAT Nu Gaze record out this year that leans more toward psych than most.

33.  Jon Keliehor – The Beginning of Time

Superb end-of-the-world ambient release

34. Botany – Deepak Verbera

This one is beautiful. Just Beautiful.

35. XAM Duo – XAM Duo

Ambient music is the best it may ever be right now. New heights are being reached. This one is killer.

36. The Early Years – II

10 years after their first album, we get II. It achieves what every Here We Go Magic release promised but never delivered on.

37. Wye Oak – Tween

This band came out of nowhere for me. This record sucks you in.

38. The Comet is Coming – Channel The Spirits

Shabaka Hutchings’ is quickly grabbing the torch being passed by Sun Ra and his Arkestra.

39. Imarhan – Imarhan

Desert rock that is as close to funky as Tuareg music’s ever gotten.

40. Philippe Edison – Bad Decisions

Houston’s own jazz/beat originator turns in an inspired LP that embraces Soul and RnB in unorthodox ways.

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Raised Eyebrows: Recalling Franco (Randy)

October 21, 2016

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This month we honor the passing of one of Africa’s finest musicians. Franco Luambo Makiadi was a phenomenal Congolese guitarist. He was a founding member of of the rumba group OK Jazz and leader of TPOK Jazz, which were both among the most successful and influential Congolese groups of the 20th century. His death on October 12, 1989 was acknowledged with four days of national mourning in Zaire. 27 years after his passing, Franco’s fluid leads remain scorching and elemental.

Here’s some excellent cuts from his immense catalog:

Tcha Tcha Tcha De Mi Amor – An early 60’s rumba with some truly joyful guitar from the maestro.

Motema Fa Ya Ya – A slow burning B-side off an OK Jazz 1961 single that features some soulful playing from Franco.

Likambo Ya Ngana –  A divine song from the early 70’s that warns of the harm that can happen when you carry around the stuff of others.

Azda – A gritty rumba released in 1973 containing almost all of Franco’s signature moves.

Mabele-Ntotu – Franco’s Orchestra T.P.O.K. Jazz gets hypnotic on this cut from 1974.

Kamikaze – Released in ‘76, this tune is an instant dance party.

Alimatou – One of Franco’s most memorable solos and one of TPOK’s finest melodies.

Tokoma Be Camarade Pamba – There is so much happening here. It’s an incredible thing and it was released in 1980. Amazing.

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Raised Eyebrows: Rad Jazz Guitar (Randy)

September 23, 2016

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This month we delve into some of Jazz’s most pioneering and exploratory guitar players. Jazz music has and always will be an American concern. The U.S. continues to be home to the greatest players to ever be associated with the mammoth musical genre. Here’s a playlist of past and present day players who are all incredibly singular, challenging, and totally badass.

Sonny Rollins – The Bridge (featuring Jim Hall)

Sonny’s three year hiatus from recording found him practicing over 15 hours a day on the Williamsburg Bridge from 1959-1962.  When he returned, he involved the great Jim Hall. Hall does just about everything on the title cut of this Rollins LP.

Pat Martino – Baiyina

Pat Martino gets far out on his fourth Prestige LP. The album includes flute, tabla and tambura, not to mention some truly rad improvs from Martino himself.

Philip Cohran & The Artistic Heritage Ensemble – Unity Live 1968 (featuring Pete Cosey)

Pete Cosey is not a household name. He is however a volcanic guitarist who played on many must-hear 70s Miles Davis albums. Here we find Cosey let loose on this essential recording by Philip Cohran & The Artistic Heritage Ensemble.

Larry Coryell – Lady Coryell

Here it is ladies and gentlemen, the highest peak of expression from a guitarist in the world of jazz circa 1968.

Sonny Sharrock – Who Does She Hope To Be?

Sharrock’s last LP is an astonishing disc that featured both Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones and was released in 1991. No one sounded like Sonny and here is the prime example of Sharrock’s ability to make you stop dead in your tracks and listen!

Marc Ribot/Noel Akchote – Song for Marc

The 1997 LP credited to Noel Akchote/Marc Ribot/Eugene Chadbourne called Lust Corner is an important reminder about the infinite freedom one can have once the rules are understood.

Chicago Underground Quartet – A Re-Occuring Dream

Jeff Parker is best known for being a member Tortoise. His tone is so instantly recognizable and his work remains an important bridge between jazz, experimental and indie.

Bill Frisell/Ron Carter/Paul Motian – Worse and Worse

All three of these dudes are legends. They all kick ass on this LP. The contrast of consonance and dissonance on this track is unreal.

Rudresh Mahanthappa/Steve Lehman – Circus

Liberty Ellman is a NY guitarist. He plays with Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Steve Lehman, and countless others. He’s a genius.

Mary Halvorson Quintet – Crack In Sky (No. 1)

Mary Halvorson is the most exciting guitarist currently living on Earth.

Nels Cline – Why Was I Born?

Cline’s newest album Lovers is Cline’s definitive statement as a player.

BONUS TRACKS:

Sandy Bull – Blend

Not jazz, just awesome and features jazz drummer/legend Billy Higgins

The New Philadelphians – The Hustle

Marc Ribot and Mary Halvorson set fire to this disco classic.

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Raised Eyebrows: Top 50 Records Of 2016 – So Far (Randy)

August 12, 2016

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2016 has been a RAD year for new music. Maybe the best we’ve seen this century. With several months still left to go and a TON of wonderful records still to be released, I thought it’d be good to play catch up with the wonder that’s happened already.

50. Body Awareness – Evening Raga

One half of Skeppet. Late night wanderings.

49. Sam Moss – Fable

Gentle folk jams from the kinda-legendary Boston dude.

48. Dave McDonnell Group – Eidetic

Far out post-jazz from the former Chicagoan.

47. Marissa Nadler – Strangers

A lovely record with a voice you can just get lost in.

46. Joan Jeanrenaud – Visual Music

Modern classical does not get much better.

45. Paul Menska – Travel Memoirs

Absolutely stunning synth workouts.

44. Anenon – Petrol

One of the best ambient releases this year.

43. Qluster – Echtzeit

Roedelius does not ever disappoint.

42. Federico Durand – A Traves Del Espejo

A grower, but man does this hit hard when it hits.

41. C. Joynes/Nick Jonah Davis – Split Electric

Really great solo electric guitar workouts in here.

40. Chris Abrahams – Fluid to the Influence

Thoughtful modernism from a member of The Necks.

39. Ben Lukas Boysen – Spells

Between his two 2016 releases, Spells is the winner. Cinematic is an understatement.

38. TSU! – Dadebe

Charming ragas from Istanbul.

37. Orchestra of Spheres – Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon

Weird as fuck and totally amazing.

36. Kikagaku Moyo – House in the Tall Grass

Japanese psych rock. Kinda like a fried candy bar.

35. Horse Lords – Interventions

Mind-bending meditational math rock.

34. FOG- For Good

Welcome back Andrew Broder!

33. Spacin’- Total Freedom

Cutting-edge classic rock.

32. BADBADNOTGOOD-IV

Fusion jazz for millennials.

31. The Greg Foat Group – Cityscapes/Landscapes

Stunning jazz from one of the best modern groups going.

30. Jeff Parker – The New Breed

Member of Tortoise since 1998. Beat-oriented spiritual jazz.

29. Spray Paint – Feel The Clamps

Austin, TX dudes! Absolutely gnarled.

28. Deerhoof – The Magic

A great American band turns in another great record.

27. Gunter Schlienz – Augenblicke

Totally amazing release. Full of ZEN.

26. AF Ursin – Aura Legato (Reissue)

Reissue of 2005 release. Completely peaceful journey.

25. Nap Eyes – Thought Rock Fish Scale

Recorded live to tape with no overdubs. They pull it off!

24. Chris Cohen – As If Apart

His first in 4 years and it does not disappoint.

23. Parquet Courts – Human Performance

These guys ebb and flow. This one FLOWS.

22. Khun Narin – II

Thai psych cranked out of a handmade traveling sound system.

21. Terry Allen – Juarez (Reissue)

Terry Allen is a fucking genius.

20. Fred Locks & Brizion – Roll Call

One of the best reggae tracks to come out this year.

19. Sidestepper – Supernatural Love

Their first album in close to a decade. Lovely Caribbean jams.

18. Fatou Seidi Ghali & Alamnou Akrouni – Les Filles de Illighadad

Recorded in the open air of Niger. Charming and chilling Tuareg.

17. Tim Hecker – Love Streams

The Brian Eno of this century.

16. Julianna Barwick – Will

This album is another grower but once it sinks in, its power can’t be denied.

15. Cian Nugent – Night Fiction

Nugent moves to the most song-oriented material of his career and it’s RAD.

14. Thousand Foot Whale Claw – Cosmic Winds

This one has been in constant rotation. Hits all the chakra points.

13. Cross Record – Wabi~Sabi

Emily and Dan are amazing. They did it up on this one. Oh man!

12. Daniel Markham – Disintegrator

Markham’s finest record to date.

11. Marisa Anderson – Into The Light

The sequel to Bruce Langhorne’s The Hired Hand.

10. Cavern of Anti-Matter – void beats/invocation trex

Ex-Stereolab member makes an all out krautrock record!

9. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

Though a total downer, this record is undeniable. There hasn’t been a full-on rock record this good since Light Up Gold.

8. Tortoise – The Catastrophist

Great Chicago band makes another great record! Their first in 7 years.

7. William Tyler – Modern Country

In order to “Make America Great Again”, just listen to this record.

6. Stephen Steinbrink – Anagrams

Easily the best pop/songwriter to come out this year.

5. Heron Oblivion – S/T

Smouldering psych from members of Espers and Sunburned Hand of The Man

4. The Skiffle Players – Skifflin’

Cass McCombs and members of Beachwood Sparks do their best Dead interpretations to songs both old and new. So Good!!

3. Trad Gras Och Stenar – Box Set
Extraterrestrial outer limits band from Sweden. DO NOT MISS THIS!

2. Steve Gunn – Eyes on the Lines

Probably the most pleasing record of 2016. A perfect ending to an incredible trilogy of songwriter LPs by one of the greatest artists going right now.

1. 75 Dollar Bill – Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock

DO NOT MISS THIS POWERFUL RECORD OF PAST FUTURE MUSIC

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Raised Eyebrows: Remembering Fela Kuti (Randy)

July 15, 2016

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It’s been almost 20 years (August 2,1997) since the godfather of Afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, passed away. He leaves behind a wealth of musical and political inspiration. Kuti preached peace and human rights through powerful grooves and transparent lyricism that reflected both the joy and struggle of his homeland.

Alu Jon Jonki Jon (from Afrodisiac 1972)

This contains some of Fela’s most refined and FRIED keyboard playing. It gets “out there” for a few minutes in a REALLY good way. One of The Black President’s best.

Confusion Pt 1 (from Confusion 1974)

The intro to this one has a darkness and beauty that few/none of his other works have. A high point in the Fela catalog.

No Agreement (from No Agreement 1977)

One of Fela’s funkiest tracks. Drummer Tony Allen is unreal here.

No Buredi (No Bread) (from No Bread 1976)

Some of Fela’s finest sax playing and singing can be found here. The man was a master.

Noise for Vendor Mouth (from Noise for Vendor Mouth 1975)

This one is tremendous! It’s twin guitar rhythm and thrift moog sounds are KILLER.

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Raised Eyebrows: Private Press Primer (Randy)

June 10, 2016

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Hey, It’s June! Where in the hell did the time go? You ever wonder about all those odd records you see floating around resale shops and vintage stores? The ones that feature photos of strange men and women and incredible fonts. There are many of these kinds of LP’s and most of them SUCK, but there are some exceptions. I’m here this month to give a little sample of the ridiculous wealth private press records can offer. Here we go!

Anonymous – J. Rider (from Inside The Shadow)

This LP is a slice of homemade pop/prog/psych heaven. Recorded in Indianapolis in 1976. This was recently reissued by the good folks from Light In The Attic.

Eddie Callahan – Santa Cruz Mountains (from False Ego)

This song is an incredible christian anthem that features a truly serious synth solo. Fans of Chris Bell and Badfinger are encouraged to listen. Time-Lag reissued this puppy not too long ago.

Larry ‘Sunshine’ Rice – Listen Sister (from Here’s Sunshine)

Legend has it that Texan Larry Rice opened up a church dedicated to marijuana in Justin, TX after recording this record in Dallas in 1969. Time-Lag has also made this one available again!

Jandek – Lavender (from You Walk Alone)

Jandek may be the most legendary private press artist EVER. Among his many many LP’s, this one stands tallest with it’s twin guitar “blues rock” approach. 2012’s Maze of the Phantom is also highly recommended. Both are available on Corwood Industries.

Jim Sullivan – Rosey (from UFO)

This record has it ALL: The Wrecking Crew, alien abduction, and INCREDIBLE songs. Read the whole story HERE

Ted Lucas – I’ll Find a Way (To Carry It All) (from Ted Lucas)

Known or unknown, this song is simply one of the finest songs written by just about anybody.

Sound Ceremony – Miss Vickey (from Guitar Star)

There’s something about this song that makes me want to believe that Alex Chilton used it as reference for his own chintzy classic Like Flies on Sherbert. This song is such cheap boogie and that’s cool with me.

Timbercreek – Stone Cold Turkey (from Hellbound Highway)

Heady 1975 Grateful Dead worship from these Laurel Canyon hippies.

Kenny Knight – Carry Me Home (from Crossroads)

This song is all about pain and moving past it in a positive way. It’s sort of this Taoist country rock jam that can really puts things in perspective. Paradise of Bachelors reissued this one.

Perry Leopold – And Then, The Snow Came (from Experiment in Metaphysics)

Some fine Guitar Soli and many-a Basho’d vocal.

Steve Tibbetts – Sunrise (from Steve Tibbetts)

Before his career with ECM, Steve Tibbetts released an outstanding recorded-at-home LP in 1977. This was reissued by Cuneiform in 1995.

Bob Desper – It’s Too Late (from New Sounds)

A loner folk masterpiece from Portland songwriter Bob Desper. His 1974 album New Sounds was reissued in 2009 by Discourage Records.

David Kauffman / Eric Caboor – Kiss the Day Goodbye (from Songs From Suicide Bridge)

This out-of-time, singular work of art was recorded in 1983 in Burbank, CA. There may be nothing as melancholy and pure as this. It’s available through Light In The Attic.

BONUS:

Bill Madison – Low Days Down (from Sunday Mornin’ Hayride)

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Raised Eyebrows: The Jazzmaster (Randy)

May 13, 2016

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Photo of Lizzy Mercier Descloux courtesy of http://mydisdain.tumblr.com/

It’s May! Given the wonderful weather expected by this emerald month, I thought I’d investigate one of my favorite guitars, the Jazzmaster, and the music created by it. Making its debut in 1959, the Jazzmaster was first made to rival Gibson archtop guitars preferred by jazz musicians. It didn’t catch on, but over the years, it has found a home in a number of genres and on a ton of great records. Here’s a few highlights:

Johnny Cash – Katy Too (1959)

Luther Perkins of Cash’s Tennessee Three was an early user of the Jazzmaster. There’s some photos floating around dated as early as 1958.

Roy Clark – Twelfth Street Rag (1963)

Roy shreds on this! This comes from his 1963 album The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark.

The Staple Singers – Whatcha Gonna Do? (1965)

Pops Staples does the tremolo Jazzmaster better than any other human being on the planet. This is proof.

Clarence Carter – Snatching It Back (1969)

Here the Jazzmaster surpasses country and blues to enter the wonderful world of rhythm and blues. The twined soapbar tone and Carter’s voice are a match made in soul heaven, and check out that album cover!

Danny James – Soul and Wine (1970)

I heard this on the Fai Do Do program on 91.7 KOOP recently. Came out on the Goldband Records label in 1970. Dude is holding a Jazzmaster on a compilation CD so I figure …”lay down some soul and get some cheap wine.”

Elvis Costello – Watching The Detectives (1977)

The Jazzmaster fell out of fashion in the 70’s. Les Paul’s and Strats became the norm until this nerdy dude named Declan MacManus declared himself to be Elvis Costello and sported a Jazzmaster on the cover of his landmark 1977 album, My Aim Is True.

Television – Foxhole (1978)

After their seminal 1977 recording Marquee Moon, Television brought their intergalactic guitar interplay back for the sophomore record Adventure. It doesn’t get the love that their classic does, but Verlaine’s guitar work on Foxhole is PURE HEAT.

Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Wawa (1979)

Legend has it, Lizzy (from Paris) decided in order to make it as an artist, she had to move to New York. There she met Richard Hell and bought a Jazzmaster. Her tune Wawa is a prime example of what the Jazzmaster was capable of, in both No Wave and New Wave.

The Cure – 10:15 Saturday Night (1979)

Believe or not, Robert Smith was known to sport a Jazzmaster early on in the career of The Cure. This track captures some of the harmonic uses of the Jazzmaster that other bands would take to further limits in the near future.

Sonic Youth – Silver Rocket (1988)

Almost ten years later, Sonic Youth hits with their biggest record, Daydream Nation. Here the Jazzmaster goes from being a cheap anomaly to an icon of underground rock that’s still being seen today. The techniques this band forged with the instrument helped to not only reinvent it, but also send its value soaring.

Luna – Sideshow by the Seashore (1995)

Sean Eden of Luna is a well known Jazzmaster user. This tune is a high mark for American rock music.

Yo La Tengo – Cherry Chapstick (2000)

Ira Kaplan wields a cherry red Jazzmaster for this tune at shows. One of YLT’s purest tunes.

Nels Cline – Cause for Concern (2002)

I was on the fence with Nels as a member of Wilco, but after hearing The Nels Cline Singers album Instrumentals, I was convinced the dude is one of the finest Jazzmaster players around today.

Marnie Stern – The Things You Notice (2010)

FACT: Marnie Stern is a completely unique Jazzmaster player. Her playing and approach is unlike anyone else and that makes her polarizing for folks. I’m down with the Marnie sound.

Noveller – Concrete Dreams (2015)

Sarah Lipstate has recently been seen sporting a Jazzmaster. Her solitary soundscapes are incredible examples of where the instrument could be headed. Her latest album Fantastic Planet is BEYOND.

Note: Yeah, I left off some people. Tell me who and why should they have been mentioned?

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Raised Eyebrows: Sound-Alikes (Randy)

April 8, 2016

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As we approach “spring”, I thought we could discuss a more lighthearted subject of musical nerdery. This month we’ll discuss songs that sound-alike. There are some well known instances like Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure and Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby, but here we’ll take a closer look at 5 instances that I’ve noticed recently.

Cat Power – The Greatest vs Andy Williams – Moon River

I was a big fan of Chan Marshall’s 2006 LP The Greatest. It still stands as one of her best works. When listening to the title track, it has always reminded me of Moon River. The strings tag before each verse is almost identical to the beginning melody notes of Moon River. Take a listen and tell me I’m wrong.

Holy Modal Rounders – Nova vs Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers – Baltimore Fire

Folk music is a lot more forgiving of folks borrowing progressions and melodies for their own devices. It’s all part of the tradition. Here The Holy Modal Rounders steal directly from the North Carolina Ramblers 1929 recording of Baltimore Fire. The Rounders take the tune originally found in a 1905 songbook by the Ramblers and turns it on his head. Still using the same arrangement and melody, Weber and Stampfel discuss space travel, the CIA, and ocean waste.

Carson McHone – Bouquet vs Sandy Denny – Listen, Listen

Austin singer-songwriter Carson McHone has been making a name for herself both locally and nationally as of late. Her 2015 LP Goodluck Man boasted a simple beauty by way of charming vocals and narratives. After hearing Bouquet, I had to run over to the turntable and grab my copy of _Sandy_. It’s pretty clear when you play the two songs side by side how similar they are. Though it was probably coincidence of their likeness, it is not a coincidence at all to think that these two extraordinary women would find the same lasting melody.

Beck – Paper Tiger vs Serge Gainsbourg – Cargo Culte

From the beginning bass line, Beck’s Paper Tiger is an almost carbon copy of Gainsbourg’s Cargo Culte. Everything about Beck’s track nods to Gainsbourg, from the bass to the drums to the strings that emulate the subliminal guitar found on the OG. Thanks to Justin for the heads up on this one!

Songs: Ohia – Farewell Transmission vs Earth Opera – All Winter Long

Jason Molina’s passing in 2013 is still felt today. His music remains a beacon for those searching but not lost. Perhaps his highest point hit in 2003 with Magnolia Electric Co. It was interesting when I came upon Earth Opera, an SF band that contained both Peter Rowan and David Grisman, and heard their tune All Winter Long. It was almost immediate to hear the similarity to Molina’s Farewell Transmission.

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