This Month's Picks

Commune (CD)

Goat

The second studio record by this Swedish based Avant-Collective whose cult-like presence and mysticism indicate that the band has been operating in a far off land for the last 30 to 40 years. Their first album, World Music, filled with fiery jams and afro dance grooves, seemed to journey through space and time, sending the listener traveling the vistas of the world in the acid wash past of the '60s. Commune, by comparison, transcends space and time. The opening tribal gongs of "Talk To God" create a sense of some sacred initiation. As the gong fades the eastern guitars and hypnotic percussion tumble you forward. It isn’t until the jarring gnarl of the other worldly chant hits your bones that you notice you are part of the ceremony. Meditative pace lulls you into a thirty minute hazy trance. All at once, swept up in the dance, you conjure memories of icy Swedish witch burning ceremonies. Your primal communing of all other beings talking to god. Your God. You chant “INTO THE FIRE! INTO THE FIRE!” A gong rings. The memory fades. You have been converted.

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Genre: Rock

Human Voice (CD)

Dntel

Dntel, solo producer by the name of Jimmy Tamborello has long been creating soundscapes for others to put their human voice over. With Human Voice Tamborello has refused listeners the rights to their own language. Instead, he has created a world where connection is fleeting, melody is deconstructed, and all “voices” mechanized. An interesting proposition when the bulk of your listeners associate your music with Death Cab For Cutie’s emotive crooner Ben Gibbard. Nevertheless, the gambit pays off. Amidst the bits and grids of Human Voice, the mechanized voices morph through layered synths and staccato beats from the unintelligible to a distinct melodic pattern and back again. After 8 tracks It gives the listener the feeling of having communicated with a being not unlike a robot Ben Gibbard.

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This Is All Yours (CD)

Alt-J

With a sophomore record, there tends to be quite a bit at stake. All too often an act tries in vain to access the same immediacy and power that they were able to flaunt in their first release. Not to mention how much time and energy a band has had to craft their first etchings into popular consciousness. A second record is somewhat of a second chance these days to prove that you can still do that thing people liked, or at least fake it. English Indie rockers Alt-J are clearly an exception. Their second effort, This Is All Yours, is an example of a band using their second chance as a “give ‘em an inch, take a mile” credo. Coming off the commercial success of An Awesome Wave the now trio is taking some chances with their already defined sound. This Is All Yours blends similar electronics and harmonies from the first record with sound collage ("Every Other Freckle"), folk ballads ("Choice Kingdom"), so-cal funk ("Left Hand Free"), and even a Miley Cyrus Sample ("Hunger of the Pine"). An Innovative leap from a band that otherwise could have left well alone.

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Genre: Rock

Too Bright (CD)

Perfume Genius

Aptly named third album from Seattle based Mike Hadreas. With his previous output Hadreas had depended heavily on his lyrical prowess to shine through his sparse piano compositions. With tracks like “Queen” and “My Body” the lyrical dependence of dealing with his place in society as a gay man remains, but the self-effacing and fearful panic is barely contained. Instead, it is let out in focused evanescent bursts. Aided by the production of Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Too Bright is a perfect example of an artist catching up with his thoughts and being able to express his deeper feelings through his craft.

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Genre: Rock

The Master (CD)

Ustad Sultan Khan, Warren Cuccurullo

Ustad Sultan Khan, India's greatest sarangi player of modern times, collaborates with former Duran Duran and Frank Zappa guitarist Warren Cuccurullo on this 1998 recording session. You've never heard either of these musicians in such a context.

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Genre: World

I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss (CD)

Sinéad O'Connor

Ireland’s most iconic female artists does not disappoint after 30 years in the business. Her latest album is passionate and direct, yet with an overarching fragility; her voice is a weapon, as powerful as it is tender.

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Genre: Rock

Lion (CD)

Peter Murphy

Bauhaus front man Peter Murphy’s latest solo album is richly emotional, dark, and romantic – but would you expect anything less from the undisputed King of Goth? Also prepare for some rabble-rousing pirate sea shanties.

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Genre: Rock

Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton [CD/DVD] (CD)

Various Artists

This documentary is for avid Stones Throw fans. You’re in for a surprise if you think they are strictly a Hip Hop label. It gives you a small peek of what goes on in the eclectic brain of founder Peanut Butter Wolf and insight into his start in the music industry.

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Genre: Hip Hop

This Machine Kills Artists (CD)

King Buzzo

It seems fitting that the debut solo acoustic full length from Melvins fronthuman Buzzo Osbourne has a title as unrepentantly snarky as it does, a cruel pun on the post-Guthrie/Strummer pretensions of the rocker picking up an acoustic instrument and going it alone for the sake of truth, earnestness, and simplicity, the tender ethics of "unplugging." Seems like the kind of thing Buzzo would snort at and yet he made the record anyway--and it's not particularly snarky past its title. TMKA is a sprawling collection of simply overdubbed raga-like meditations for steel string acoustic guitar, recalling mostly very serious music following the same pattern: Roy Harper, acoustic Led Zeppelin and, particularly, acoustic Hawkwind whose reverbed and echoed vocals are mimicked here with a far-away, ominous, psychedelic effect. The riffage has a lot in common with Buzzo's work with the Melvins: sounds from the same dark, occasionally bluesy wellspring where both grunge and stoner metal at one time met to hydrate. These days grunge is an anachronism, a performance of something barely remembered, but on this record, the listener gets a bizarre reminder that its roots were usually in mean classic rock; Buzzo's decidedly normal-guy-singing-metal vocals speak to grunge's regular "lazy guy" take on that mean classic rock in a way that normally gets buried in the soundwall of the perpetually timeless, electrified Melvins. At the end of the day, TMKA feels very traditional in terms of its dark 70s rock lineage, a new release in a large and growing family of angry midnight stoner ragas, the product of the aforementioned bards (Harper, Hawkwind, & Page, but also people like Peter Hammill) and time spent alone with a guitar. Exceeded expectations.

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Genre: Rock

Ishi (CD)

M. Geddes Gengras

Future new age/ambient classic from the LA modular explorer; known for his expansive collaborations with Akron/Family, Sun Araw, and The Congos. Ishi receives its name from the last "wild native American"... Ged succeeds in bringing natural instincts to technology; remember to forget.

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