Now This Is A Young Man's Summer Vacation

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 9, 2013 11:00pm | Post a Comment

Now this is a young man's summer vacation..

To someone who works as much as I do, summer is just a mere acknowledgement than a season. For instance, It is summer because it’s hot. It’s summer because the sun is out later and it’s because people are wearing less clothing. There is no summer vacations or lightening of loads for this working guy, just a little more sweat than usual.

However, this year I did take a summer vacation from this blog. The plan was to reenergize and come up with a fresh perspective of what to write about and whether I should continue to do so. It really hasn’t worked. Almost four months later, I still struggle in front of the computer thinking what I should write about. Clearly, there are better writers than myself, not only from all the great music blogs, newspapers and magazines from around the world, but within our pool of talented writers that work for Amoeba as well. They can write about the same artists and genres that I can, and with more eloquence and detail. Still, I don’t think that most of these writers have their hands in as many musical pies as I do. I came to realize that is my strength. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m the equivalent of one of those annoying foodies that can pontificate about the wonders of food cooked with liquid nitrogen then geek out on KFC Mac & Cheese. In the end, that what keeps me writing about music, the simple love of it.

So, I made it a point to listen to more music than usual, not pigeonhole myself and just enjoy what I enjoy. The following are some releases I really dug over the summer.

James Holden’s Inheritors and Destruction Unit’s Deep Trip

I listened to lots of Hawkwind, Can, Cluster and artists of that ilk over the summer. Likewise, I listened to all the bands that followed them, such as The Damned, The Stranglers, and Magazine. When I first heard my favorite late seventies/early 80’s punk bands, I had no idea how much they were influenced by Space and Kraut rock groups until I discovered them myself. Then it all made sense to me.

I’m not into retro bands that try to imitate the bands from that era. I don’t see the point. However, I love it when artists borrow from that era to take their music to another level. James Holden Inheritors is that thought process, taking electronic music not only to the days of Cluster and Popol Vuh, but to the days where musicians were trying to link into a pre-colonial past that they never knew. Inheritors can come off as imperfect at times but that is its charm. I love Holden’s use of analog instruments that have their own agenda mixed with the technology of today to keep it from going completely off the rails. It’s hard to describe their sound without making reference to some obscure 70’s electronic group. However, Holden shares the same sense of spatial concept with groups like Boards Of Canada. That is if Boards Of Canada took acid in the forest for weeks on end.

Destruction Unit has than Hawkwind lineage without trying to sound like them. In fact, their lineage comes from all the bands that were influenced by Hawkwind throughout the years. The former members of The Reatards that make this group lay it on heavy. It’s bad trip music but oh so good at the same time. The songs drone without boredom, like an amphetamined Spaceman 3 with layers of wah-petal and distortion. The best thing about Destruction Unit is that at the core, the music t is punk. While the psychedelia lies thick, the punk is there to slap you awake from a psychedelic slumber.

Matias Aguayo The Visitor  CD/ LP

I loved Aguayo’s last album, Ay Ay Ay and his style of sampling his own vocals to create his own sound. This time around, it’s less of the vocal sampling experimentations and more sounds of his environment. I’m not taking about nature sounds, but sounds that one hears on the urban streets everyday. I can help to think that moving back to South America has shaped his last two albums become less Eurocentric and more about the Americas. Still, much like The Meridian Brothers, who studied experimental music in Europe and now mixes it with the sounds of their native Colombia, it’s best not to shed all the layers of experimentation in order to be pure. The Visitor shows Aguayo complexities as a person. One who listens to traditional music. One who likes the band, Suicide. A person that likes mainstream pop music as well as hits from the hood. Someone who can take all those influences, mix them up and make for a great party record, albeit a party for weirdoes, freaks and nerds. I seriously not liked an album like this as since Manu Chao’s Clandestino, and that’s saying a lot.

Quantic & Ana Tijoux - Doo Woop (That Thing) / Entre Rejas (Sold Out)

Allow me to talk crap about the company that writes my check. Every year, Quantic comes out with something cool and limited. Every year, Amoeba only gets a few copies and then we get a billion phone calls asking for it. Before I get a ton of grief from the buyers, I do know in some cases, there are limited numbers each store can carry worldwide and there is nothing we can do about it. But when you get only three copies and one of them is the copy I will buy, then the chance of someone else getting it is now down 33.3%. By noon of release date, it’s “tough luck kid, sold out.” I figure we could throw out our, “Hey, we are Amoeba, we are the biggest record store in the world, send us more than three copies!” card and perhaps get more. But I digress.

I know the Lauryn Hill cover is all over the Internet and it’s quite good, but it’s the b-side, “Entre Rejas” which just slays me. It’s probably my favorite of all Lisandro Mesa’s songs, now with classic Hip-Hop beat and Ana Tijoux singing and not rapping, the lyrics. Already a great MC, Tijoux’s vocals has gotten stronger over he last few years. Natural phrasing is something that all MC should have. It’s that lineage to jazz vocalists and in the case of Latin American rappers, a link to the great Cumbia, Trova and Jarocho singers that improve just like Jazz singers. Had Mercedes Sosa been born in the time of Hip-Hop, maybe she would have been a MC? Anyways, if you can find the single, get it.

Steely Dan Aja

So this is my KFC Mac & Cheese segment. All summer while doing the mundane task of pricing used CDs, I listened to Steely Dan’s Aja on repeat. Part of it was to listen to something familiar to complete the task in hand. When I listen to something new, I want to dissect it and the next thing I know I’m listening and not working. Aja is exactly forty minutes long. By the time I get to the song, “Home At Last”, I better be rapping up a bin of priced world music CDs.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have thoughts in my head, but the thoughts in my head ended just as soon as the song did. Thoughts like, “I wonder what the women Donald Fagan sang about in the song, “Black Cow” looks like? I pictured her as a brunette with deep sunken eyes. Other thoughts, “I wonder what kind of car Deacon Blue drives?” “What does Peg’s 8”X !0” glossy promo picture look like? How is she posed?” “What the real name of the angular banjo instrument they talk about in the song, “Aja”?” I bet it’s not a Chinese instrument, it a Japanese instrument! Somehow I pictured Josie living in Jersey.
Whatever the case was, I soon was done with pricing the CDs and I was off to my next task.

A few weeks ago on a whim, my friend Jeremy and I decide to get tickets to see Steely Dan at The Nokia Theater the day of the show. I didn’t know it at the time I got the tickets, but they were going to play the whole Aja album in its entirety. When I found out, I was pretty jazzed. It was like it was meant to be. From the first notes of “Black Cow,” the first track off the Aja album, I was stoked. The musicians were amazing, as you would expect and Fagan’s voice hung strong. But after awhile, I didn’t know what to do without my pricing gun. All I knew is that after forty minutes or so, this experience will be over and I couldn’t hit repeat. I struggled with the “hits” portion of the program, as I’m not much of a fan of their earlier material. However, I felt a cleansing, like I quit cigarettes, coffee, booze and drugs at the same time. I felt I didn’t need that crutch of Aja to get through the day. When I return to work, I took the Aja CD out of the CD Walkman and I was ready for the next adventure. Maybe Chicago’s Greatest Hits??