July 2010

Focus on Guitars by Lester Peabody (8/10)

Format: CD

Lester Peabody is an excellent finger-picking guitarist from Finland. His technical ability is absolutely amazing. At times he sounds like Jimmy Bryant, other times Chet Atkins. My ear for this type of music isn't trained enough to distinguish if Lester brings anything unique to the style, but all-in-all is a rather enjoyable listen.

All-Time Greatest Hits by Les Paul & Mary Ford (8/10)

Format: CD

A nice little collection of Les Paul & Mary Ford. As one might expect, Lots of fast harpsichord sounding guitars and multi-tracked everything. Paul's music can sound a bit like a tech demo at times. But there are also quite a few slow numbers which my my daughter refers to as "night time music."

Trait by Pailhead (8/10)

Format: CD

Ministry with Ian MacKaye on vocals. Pretty much sounds like all of the Ministry side projects of that era. Better than later era Fugazi in my opinion.

The Other Ones by Other Ones, The (6/10)

Format: CD

This is one of the first CDs I ever bought. I really have no idea what I was thinking at the time because it's kind of lame. I guess I have to remember that in 1987 there weren't that many cool bands releasing their records on CD (at least not at Musicland in the Northwoods mall where I would make my ill-informed music consumer decisions). The shelves were stocked mostly with The Beatles and your typical major label pop groups—in the absence of "Ringo" on drums, I'm pretty sure The Other Ones fall into the latter category. Perhaps I am being somewhat harsh because they aren't really that bad. The single "Holiday" is probably what drove me to buy this CD and it is about as upbeat as a song can get. This single, like the rest of the CD, is awash with late 80's digital synths and chorus-y guitar effects. With my love of cheesy horror soundtracks, I actually am turning back on to this sound these days, but the problem is that they tend to fill the rest of the disc with ballads.

Sympathy Sessions by Oblivians (9/10)

Format: CD

This CD compiles all the Oblivians' Sympathy for the Record Industry records on one CD. There are quite a few "hits" here including "I'm Not a Sicko There's a Plate in my Head" and "Memphis Creep." The Oblivians play noisy, minimal, rootsy (but not retro) sounding punk rock. They are one of the few 90s era garage bands that still holds up. Listening to this again I am surprised by how similar Greg O's vocals sound to David Yow's legendary crooning.

The Best of Word Jazz, Vol. 1 by Ken Nordine (10/10)

Format: CD

This is a great Rhino Records compilation of Ken Nordine's "word jazz"—basically, spoken word stories told over free form beatnik jazz. Nordine's voice is deep and goes right to your brain. He could read from the phone book and I would still recommend this CD. But, on top of it all, the stories and poetry is great. At times the words truly become yet another instrument in Nordine's hep jazz combo. It's sooooo kooky man!

Days Away by Nonagon (9/10)

Format: CD

As you may know, I play bass in a band called Nonagon. Well, it turns out we weren't as clever as we thought we were when we decided on that name. There is also a San Francisco based electronical musician named John Brian Kirby also goes by the moniker, Nonagon. Rather than file angry cease and desist letters, our relationship with Nonagon S.F. has been quite amiable.

House of the Dead: Overkill on Nintendo Wii (10/10)

House of the Dead: OverkillThe Wii has two areas in which it excels: family friendly games and pseudo-lightgun shooters (meaning, you point the Wiimote at the screen like a gun, but you are really just moving a mouse pointer and not really aiming your controller at targets). House of the Dead: Overkill is about as far away from a family friendly game as you can get. The game is non-stop blood, gore, incest and cussing. You know... "mature themes." Fortunately, the depravity is backed up with some great on-rails shooting and pitch perfect grindhouse inspired art direction and humor. If you are going to play this, make sure to invest in a Wii Zapper or similar gun accessory for the Wiimote or risk some serious wrist pain.

Sex Mad / You Kill Me by Nomeansno (9/10)

Format: CD

Any Nomeansno record is going to get compared with their masterpiece, Wrong. No, they'll never match the perfection of that record, but Sex Mad comes close. This CD has some of their best songs: "Body Bag," "Dad," "Self Pity" to name a few. Where it falls short is in some of the longer, repetitive tracks and the fact that there is just a general lack of cohesiveness from song to song.

Nevermind by Nirvana (8/10)

Format: CD

The importance of this record cannot be understated, however, I do think the quality of the music might be slightly overrated.  It may just be that so many of these songs have been played to death on radio, TV and everywhere that I stopped caring about them. As much as the Rolling Stone editors pushed the idea, Kurt Cobain was no John Lennon. However, I didn't immediately eject the disk when it looped back to track 1 in my car this afternoon, so I must like it more than I think.

Nig-Heist by Nig-Heist (8/10)

Format: LP

This is quite possibly the most retarded band ever. They are like a friendlier version of GG Allin or, at their best, the musical equivalent of restroom stall graffiti. Most of their music is comprised of blunt, single entendres (Love in your Mouth and Hot Muff). It's dirty, vile, misogynstic and completely hilarious. If you get this on CD it comes with a second disc containing a single, 70 minute track of Nig-Heist live featuring some of the best audience baiting since Fear in Decline of the Western Civilization.

Bastard by Colin Newman (9/10)

Format: CD

This CD is a nice mix of electronics, processed guitars and throbbing dub-reggae style bass lines. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking here—plenty of standard drum and bass tropes—but, I find myself going back and listening to this album a lot. The guitar and bass keep it from the looped-sample boredom of pure laptop music but, at the same time, it never comes close to being a rock album.

Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish / Not To by Colin Newman (7/10)

Format: CD

This CD compiles two solo albums from Colin Newman. Singing Fish  is mostly just Newman noodling around with keyboards. The style is reminiscent of the synth work on 154 and A-Z, but the songs are more atmospheric and don't really go anywhere. Not To is better and more in line with Newman's work with Wire. Perhaps it's the absence of Mike Thorne as producer/keyboardist, but somehow this record doesn't quite match the brilliance or the quirkiness of A-Z.

Up (6/10)

If they cut this film off at about 15 minutes it would have been a near-perfect short film. Unfortunately, once the main story begins with the launch of the balloon house, everything gets bland and predictable. Although, admittedly, it was fun to make inappropriate pedophilia jokes while watching the old man/boy scout hijinks.