Bitches Brewin': a monthly forum mix-tape


#1

So there's this marvellous thing called Spotify, and it has a function known as collaborative playlists. That gave me an idea, and I bet you can guess what it is.

So here's how it works:

You like music.

You have Spotify.

You let it be known that you want 'in'.

You choose one (1) album per month and add it to the list. You can do this at any time during the month, not just after list-wipe time.

The list is wiped and re-made every month, on the first-ish. By whoever gets to it first (I won't be able to this month).

There are some options:

  1. You may come in here and talk about what you've added this month. Please. Please do that.
  2. You may substitute your disc once per month for another one, if you absolutely must. Please don't do that.
  3. You do not have to choose a recent album. It can be anything you want people to hear. Anything. Anything at all. Any genre. Any time period. Please do this.
  4. You may submit a group of singles instead of an album if, for example, the artist(s) you want to highlight don't have any LPs on Spotify. Don't inhale this.
  5. You may use the list to arrange tracks in such a way as to form the summoning ritual of Kur'blezzen the Tumultuous but no other such entities. This is not advised as his avatar, Brian Blessed, already stalks this meagre plane.

There are a few people involved already and I think we have a few albums in too, with an accidental theme. So, anyone else want in?

NB: there may occasionally be regional issues that mean you can't hear an album someone posts.


#2

Wot I chose dis munff: If I Had An Atlas, Cats and Cats and Cats, 2011.

Glorious, joyous, infectious shouty Brit indie-pop. Shades of a manic Campesinos, but brilliantly summery and up-beat. I love it, although that might be a cultural thing.


#3

I'd like in.


#4

I'd like to get in on this.


#5

I just added an old record, one from 1998.

So there.

But wait, I can tie it in. My friends Dave and Whitey tweeted earlier this week that Ty Segall--who I've become a raving fan of over the last year--had just put on the best show they've seen in a year or more in NYC (at Webster Hall, maybe?)

So the band from 1998 I've added is The Photon Band. They were a Philly group fronted by a dude named Art DiFuria. They were friends and cohorts of Kurt Heasley and Lilys, and recorded an album with him, enlisted Heasley as a producer, and toured with him, serving as a defacto backing band as Lilys themselves.

The album I added is the first full length by the Photon Band, and it's called All Young In The Soul. It sounds as if it were recorded completely live by hanging a mic in the middle of their recording space and just banging out the tunes in a single night. The drums sound like Quaker Oats boxes. The guitars phase in and out and occasionally redline. The bass is about as deep as Maroon 5. Putting that lo-fi ness aside, though, you can hear the brilliance of Art DiFuria's songwriting shining through. These are magnificent pop anthems that combined with the raw sound manage to suggest nothing so much as....Ty Segall (or Thee Oh Sees or White Fence or Mikal Cronin).

Give "Exactly What Is Weird" a try. Listen to the amazeballs of "10,000 Buckets Of Rain". "(The Future's) Coming Round The Bend" is the best Donovan tune that Mr. Leitch never wrote. It's all so damn good, and all so damned unknown, and so damn worthy of having maybe a handful of folks listen to it and say "Aw hellyeah."


#6

Count me in.


#7

And how! I love it.


#8

Yes. I'm in.

I've been looking for a reason to purposefully reexamine what I was listening to in high school because I think some of those lost worn out cassette tapes plucked from the VCR'ed stream of 120 Minutes recommendations need more Spotify hits, if they even have them.


#9

You know, I've had the Lilys album 'eccsame the photon band' for about 15 years and never knew any of this. Thanks, triggy!

PS. Lilys changed their sound more often than my two year old changes his pants, but most of it was pretty great. I wish they'd stayed a little longer in their 'brief history of amazing letdowns' phase though.


#10

Sure, I'd like to give this a go. (Warning: I am not in touch with the musical zeitgeist and you probably already know most of the bands I listen to. Sorry in advance!)


#11

I elected to add David Gray's debut album from 1993; A Century Ends. He's currently my favorite singer-songwriter and in varying degrees I love everything he's done. I discovered him for myself @ 98-99 when his White Ladder album put him on the radio with a few hits. To date that is his best selling effort. He does OK in the U.S. market, is much bigger in the U.K. (where he's from) and for reasons not quite understood he's like the biggest thing ever in Ireland; absolutely massive there.

When I discover a new artist for myself I like to find out about their entire catalog and am most interested in their first album. I just think there is something true and honest in that and sometimes it gets lost in later sessions after their label and producers sink their claws into them.

Anyways, it's a fairly raw, bare record; and I like that about it. It's very 'folksy' in a kind of Dylan vein (albeit, David Gray has an excellent voice, imo) and David's lyrics are always evocative. Nobody writes a sad song like him. That being said, it contains the song "Wisdom" which is the breath of fresh and happy air in there. But for my melancholy jones it doesn't get better than the first track, "Shine".

That's probably too much chatter. But I suspect even those who know of David Gray might not be familiar with his earliest work. Hopefully you enjoy it.

(Warning: Yeah, my tastes run fairly 'old'... I'll probably continue to throw stuff up from the wayback machine. Deal with it. :) I do enjoy the education I'm getting from those of you who are, dare I say, more 'hip'.)


#12

I'm thinking my role here may be to toss some German into the mix. I've long been a Rammstein fan, so when my parents moved to Germany for a few years, I took advantage of visits to do some shopping for other German groups in that vein that might not have made it overseas the way Rammstein did. In the process I wound up wandering pretty far afield to groups like this month's selection, Corvus Corax.

Corvus Corax is a group dedicated to reviving medieval minstrel music. They've done historical research to make it as authentic as possible, but keep it lively and heartfelt. They've done a zillion or so albums, but I settled on an album called Seikilos because it has the highest percentage of songs that really appeal to me - the titular song "Seikilos" particularly - while still maintaining their characteristic sound. I may later chip in one of their "Cantus Buranus" albums, which adapt the Carmina Burana manuscript and involve a full symphonic orchestra, or the rock-influenced side project Tanzwut, which are also favorites.

(Warning: Bagpipes. Did you know that bagpipes are a traditional German instrument?)


#13

It's funny, because that album title threw me for a loop back when the album came out; a buddy who'd paid attention in astronomy class in college clued me in on what a photon band was, and so for a year or so that was that. I think I just found that first Photon Band album by accident while browsing through the stacks at Reckless Records in Chicago and thought..."Hmm, I wonder" and then flipped it over and saw they were from Philadelphia (which is where Lilys were from) and that it was produced by Heasley and then I knew!

And yeah, it was funny watching the Lilys sound change dramatically over the course of 4 years.

First, shoegaze: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJJ3ujvWoYU

Then straight up indie pop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbub0S303MI (Calvin Klein used this song in a TV ad campaign waaaaay back in 1996; first time I heard an unknown indie song in a major TV commercial ever. Predates VW using Nick Drake and Spiritualized even.)

Then on to Britpop/dreampop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV-nmvKKF9o That's with The Photon Band as the rest of the Lilys.

And finally onto the vaguely retro freakbeat experimentalism that he sort of settled on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV-nmvKKF9o

That musical odyssey was over the course of 4 years.

As for The Photon Band, I guess they've broken up except for some rare 1-off gigs. Art DiFuria has a PHD in Art History and is a professor at the College of Art And Design in Savannah...which is a haul from Philadelphia.


#14

I don't know how much love my pick will get around here, but I just saw them live the other day and have been listening to the hell out of this band...so here goes.

The early to mid 2000s emo scene brought a lot of shitty, forgettable bands out of the woodwork. Brand New isn't one of them. In fact, I would easily consider them one of the most interesting bands of the last decade. Their evolution has been so dramatic that if you listened to each of their four albums, you would have a really hard time pegging them as the same band. In 2001 they established themselves firmly in the genre with their first album, Your Favorite Weapon. It's an unmistakenly emo-pop-punk album filled with catchy hooks and witty lyrics if you're a fan of that kind of music. In 2003, they proved they are much more than just your average pop-punk band with the release of Deja Entendu. It is a significantly darker album that shows a lot more maturity and a willingness to bend genres, and it is packed with solid musicianship and songwriting (I highly recommend you listen to the closing acoustic track Play Crack the Sky and try to tell me it isn't brilliant). It was a big commercial success, and considered an absolute classic by myself and many others. But Brand New still had greater things to achieve.

It is their third album, The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, which really put Brand New in a class of their own. This is where the band is feeling confident coming off the success of Deja Entendu, and their record label is pleased enough to let them continue taking chances. There isn't really anything I've heard that sounds quite like this. It is a very dark album, even more so than Deja Entendu, and can be downright heart wrenching at times. You can really tell that there was some serious emotional investment poured into creating this. The music is brooding, with deep bass lines and drums, and does a spectacular job reflecting the dark themes. Guitar and vocal melodies are intricate and layered, frequently harmonizing to great effect. There is a clear influence of bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, and The Smiths - as well as harder modern rock like the Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Jimmy Eat World, and Sunny Day Real Estate, and even more progressive stuff like Pink Floyd and Radiohead. There are few bands I've heard that use soft/loud dynamics to such great effect. "Luca" is a prime example of this. It is a dreamy song with an acoustic arpeggiated guitar, rolling bass line, and vocals and harmonies that swirl throughout the first couple minutes. Around the halfway point, it strips down and drifts along for a few minutes with just vocals and acoustic guitar, until the song abruptly explodes with a damn near frightening scream into an incredible, heavy, instrumental finale. "Limousine" is one of the aforementioned heart wrenching tracks, based on a true story of a 7 year old flower girl who was killed by a drunk driver on her way back from a wedding. It's quite depressing, but beautifully written. The last half of the song features a repetitive vocal melody that begins with just an acoustic guitar and slowly builds layers as it goes until the tension becomes unbearable and it explodes (yes, more exploding - it is a common trait on this album) into a fantastic guitar solo. I could go on and on picking out highlights, because the entire album is amazing, but I'll stop there. It can be draining to listen to, but if you're in the right mood, there's nothing else like it.


#15

Definitely a lot more interesting than some of his more recent work. I can't profess to being the biggest David Gray fan (we're overexposed to him here in the UK) and I wish he had stuck more to that track or delved more into the interesting, more raw aspects. Thanks for providing it.

He also sounds a bit, well, Irish to my ears in this album. A little bit like Glen Hansard.

I did; one of the contenders for the Scottish national anthem is a song very popular with military bands, the Highland Cathedral. People like to mock the Scots a little by pointing out that it was written by Germans; the Scots tend to stick to Flower of Scotland as their unofficial anthem (it's what their rugby team sings, for example). Like it, in a quirky, odd way. I can see maybe revisiting it in the future, but it made me want to go and find some traditional Gregorian plainchant (which I have heard, live, sung by Benedictine monks) and relax, so it had the intended effect. There's a a good number of interesting little bits and pieces running through it, and it sounds an awful lot like party or dancing music. Occasionally a bit of modern sheen passes into it.

I do like that it's done without being too straight-laced or too knowing, either. There's a nice emphasis on just letting what they're doing speak for itself without sacrificing the interesting bits of the music.

Delirum: yours is next.

I'm away at the start of the month; can someone wipe the list and add my choice (We Are Nobody, The Chap) at the beginning of the month? I'll explain it when I get back.


#16

Let me in!


#17

As requested, cleared the playlist and added Kirian's choice. I'm going to have to think about mine - my first choice was a band called E Nomine that does sort of choral electronica with spoken interludes, pretty neat stuff. I discovered them in a music store that was basically just one room of someone's apartment in a German town I was visiting - I think it might have been Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which is a popular tourist destination because of the medieval walled city at its heart. Unfortunately only a few of their songs are available in the US on Spotify.


#18

I've made an addition. I'll let Scott Miller tell you about it instead of my own yakking:

"Lola", The Kinks

I'm confident that if this weren't so gigantic a hit that it makes Kinks fans nervous about liking it, I would take the position that even with this fabulously rocking and humorous gem, they still can't get their obvious due. The whole Lola/Powerman album is terrific if you ask me--"This Time Tomorrow", "Strangers"--I think it's my favorite whole Kinks record. Blasphemy. There were two lessons in commercial success for the Kinks here that they didn't capitalize on: first, people love narrative concepts in pop music, but they generally accept it in the scope of a single song and reject it in the scope of a whole album, and second, American audiences need more banjo than they're getting. The Kinks whetted our appetite with "Lola", but then Eric Weissberg came along with the Deliverance theme and ate their lunch.

Seriously, just drop the digital needle on "Strangers", "This Time Tomorrow", "Get Back In Line" (which might have one of the most gorgeous and majestic melodies Ray Davies ever wrote), "Rats", "Apeman" (which somehow got past the censors in the UK and USA--sure Ray; the "air pollution is foggin' up your eyes...suuuuuure), and "Powerman" and you've got an amazing record even without the hit single.


#19

Sweet! Always up for some vintage Kinks and I don't know that album yet. But it looks like only Strangers, This Time Tomorrow, and Powerman are showing up in the playlist. Maybe the full album is region locked or something?

I've bid farewell to last month's undocumented selection (Weird Dreams CHOREOGRAPHY - favorite album of the year so far) and replaced it with the spacey drone stylings of Motion Sickness of Time Travel...

...in which a gnarled hunk of aged wood visits Candyland and attempts to orient himself on a park map.

Four 20-minute tracks of experimental noodling that I think is really quite wonderful and engaging, moreso than you might expect as it likes to shift around on itself rather than fade gently into the background, and even if it's not typically Your Thing, I hope you like it too and furthermore, isn't that the whole goddamn point?

I first read about this double LP over at Other Music so I'll let their write-up take it from here...

MOTION SICKNESS OF TIME TRAVEL

Motion Sickness of Time Travel
(Spectrum Spools)

Rachel Evans' Motion Sickness of Time Travel project has been one of the best examples in recent memory of a female sound artist utilizing the capabilities of the drone as a springboard for deep textural, harmonic, and emotional resonances. Comprised of four sidelong tracks, each clocking in at twenty minutes and change, this music dispels the ominous epic clouds of such a running time in order to give you music that organically shifts and mutates as the music progresses, finding core sonic anchors but never clinging to them for safety. The synthesized textures quaver, pulse, and hum with rich, colorful texture, but retain a harmonic quality that is quite beautiful as well. It also doesn't hurt that her voice has never sounded better, at times crying out from a distance amongst the waveforms, but at one point even coming to the foreground for actual discernible lyricism. It'd be lazy to lump this is with the current crop of noise kids discovering new age synth music, as this is not music to be relegated to the background; it is meant to be paid attention to fully, and its symphonic nature at times recalls the majesty of prime Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, and Suzanne Ciani's classic Seven Waves album. Fans of Grouper and Julia Holter's recent work will also find much to love here, and I can honestly say that this ranks up there with Holter's Tragedy and Grouper's A I A albums in terms of necessity. This is a surprisingly wide-reaching set of music, and is easily one of the best releases on Spectrum Spools yet. This is not just music to listen to, it is music in which you can fully inhabit. This absolutely stunning work stands as one of the best releases of the year in the outer limits, but with a surprising amount of accessibility to those who don't normally get very experimental.


#20

Yep, region locked. God, I hate region restrictions in this new global digital age.

Edit: But Spotify does have 13 discs of songs spanning "The Arista Years" and "The RCA Years", so maybe the songs in question are available in that form?