Glamorous Hooligan – “Research and Destroy”

I found this while thumbing through the Miscellaneous G section at Silver Platters the other day, and for $3 I couldn’t pass it up.  I bought a copy of Glamorous Hooligan’s Wasted Youth Club Classics last year and really enjoyed it, plus I’ve been getting more and more into electronic/EDM stuff as of late.

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Call it what you will – downtempo, trip hop, or just electronic, the four songs on Research and Destroy are killer, with slower, heavier beats that just groove.  The kind of music you can’t help to move to while it plays.  The B side is my favorite, as it incorporates more vocal sampling, which I like.  “New Age Pension” with its repeated “is there enough space to have time” line is probably my favorite of the four tracks on Research and Destroy, though I’m also partial to the other side B track “Cosmic Trigger Happy,” which has a drum beat that I swear to god is sampled from a Led Zeppelin song, but I just can’t place it precisely and frankly I’m feeling too lazy to look into it any further. But it’s not the typical EDM beat, giving the song a unique sound.

I will definitely be making a point of checking the Miscellaneous G section looking for more Glamorous Hooligan.

Þórir Georg – “Tíningur”

tiningurThis is a link to a review of mine posted on ROK – Icelandic Music Review for Þórir Georg’s album Tíningur.  The album came out in October and I listened to it at the same time, though the review is just now seeing the light of day.  Georg is a talented musician to be sure, and these cool ambient tracks are just another facet of his range.  You can check out the link to the review HERE, and you can go listen to the tracks yourself free HERE.

The Freewheelin’ Mark Arm – “Masters Of War / My Life With Rickets” 7″

I’ve written before that my biggest regret about selling off all my records years ago is the loss of my Sub Pop 7″ singles.  So far I’ve resisted the urge to start buying these up again, thankfully, but if I find something interesting I’ll still buy it.  And I don’t think I ever had this release by The Freewheelin’ Mark Arm, which came out in 1990 – and most of my 7″ buying was done before that.  Plus Arm is the lead singer of one of my favorite Seattle bands, Mudhoney, so why not.

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This 7″ is actually a pair of covers – “Masters Of War” was written by Bob Dylan, while “My Life With Rickets” is from Bo Diddley.  Arm keeps both of them somewhat true to the originals, but a bit more lo-fi and with that classic, unconventional Mark Arm singing voice.  The entire reverse of the sleeve is written up like an old school record, describing the faux history and life of one Mr. Mark Arm, a kind of typical Sub Pop wise-cracking.

This is probably going to appeal primarily to people interested in Seattle and grunge, more as something interesting than a “must have.”  But I like Mark Arm’s approach to music, so I for one enjoyed it – it’s an interesting departure from his Mudhoney, Green River, and Mr. Epp material.

Christ Child – “Christ Child”

I’m not a very good record collector.  I say this because invariably I don’t spend enough time looking at the quality of used records before I buy them, and as a result sometimes come home to some unpleasant surprises.  Like yesterday when I took my newly purchased copy of Christ Child out of its sleeve to be cleaned.  And saw the massive gouge that runs from the outer edge directly toward the inner hole, covering about 2/3 of that distance.  You could see this thing from space.  It’s the goddamn Mariana Trench of scratches.  And I missed it because I just made a cursory glance at one side at the store.

But, amazingly, it still plays.  Ha!  Ironic.

But on to Christ Child.  Most of what I found online about these guys is people ripping this record as being some faux punks from Los Angeles trying to capitalize on the hype surrounding punk.  And frankly the band doesn’t do itself any favors with the write up on the jacket reverse, which is an embarrassment obviously written by someone in marketing who was trying to sound hip (and sober – many people don’t know this, but “marketing” derives from a Latin term meaning “three drink minimum”).  The song titles are trying way too hard as well – “Blow It Up,” “Crazy, Dirty and Dangerous,” and the obligatory “She’s Just A Bitch.”  Plenty of people crack wise about this as a joke and a pile of failure, but I have a different take.

Christ Child ain’t half bad.

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Mind you, it’s not punk.  Maybe, just maybe, the opening track “Let ’em Eat Rock” has a bit of that old school punk sound to it, but that’s it.  These guys obviously had rock influences – I’ve seen references to them as having been a metal band before putting out this record, and that may be true.  But metal in more of that early 70s style, like Deep Purple perhaps.  Personally I think there are some pretty obvious prog influences here.  “Star Whores” is a bizarre trip that opens with maybe a minute of strange electronic sounds, like what the computers sound like on 1950s sci-fi movies, and the whole thing has that sort of spacey feel of some of the 70s prog rockers.  So too “Blow It Up,” a song with the guitar played much like a bass, giving the whole thing the feel of being performed by two bass guitars and drums.

Christ Child are at their best when they’re not trying to hard to do the punk thing (like “Teacher,” which has some flat-out dumb lyrics).  Whether it was intended as something serious or just them mocking the whole thing almost doesn’t really matter, at least not on the more progish songs.  And hey, if you don’t go into it looking for reasons to hate it, you might actually enjoy some of Christ Child.  I know I did.

The Best of 2014

I had a very enjoyable 2014 – and I hope that the same is true for you, dear reader.  I got to do a decent amount of traveling again this year – Portland (OR), Philadelphia, Vancouver BC, Japan, Norway, Iceland… and in all those places I made sure to check out at least a few record stores.  Which meant also adding a new Ikea Expedit set of shelves to house all this vinyl.  And I’m dangerously close to needing another.

So, with that in mind, here’s my annual serious of Top 5 lists for 2014.

Top 5 New Releases in 2014

1.  Mexico – Gusgus
2.  MALLEVS – MALLEVS
3.  On Top! – Mudhoney
4.  Skálmöld Og Sinfóniuhljómsveit Íslands – Skálmöld
5.  Lese Majesty – Shabazz Palaces

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I was torn when it came to the top two spots on this list.  I really, really, really wanted to go with MALLEVS – they’re “the little guy,” they just got a limited vinyl pressing of their album, I randomly ran into the label guy in Portland… but at the end of the day, Mexico is just too good of an album to not hold down the top spot.  Staggeringly good.  Both the 2014 Skálmöld releases have been growing on me in a big way over the last month or so, and I could have just as easily gone with their studio album Með Vættum… but frankly the live CD with the orchestra is just too awesome to not make the list.  I feel like Sólstafir’s Ótta may have deserved a spot in the Top 5, but honestly I just didn’t listen to it enough, so maybe that’s on me.  This the second year in a row that Mudhoney made the Top 5, with Vanishing Point in the #2 spot last year, and Skálmöld also gets props for a repeat Top 5 appearance as they held down the #5 spot in 2012 with Börn Loka.  Honorable mentions go out for Shellac’s Dude, Incredible, Slow Dance’s Hunks, and the self-titled debuts from Börn and Kiasmos.

Top 5 “New To Me” Bands

1.  MALLEVS (US)
2.  Imaginary Friends (US)
3.  Big Black (US)
4.  RVK Soundsystem (Iceland)
5.  Lou Champagne System (Canada)

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MALLEVS definitely makes the top of this list, hands down, bar none, and I’m glad the band not only emailed me about their album, but then followed up with me when I failed to respond.  Because their record is awesome, and I would have missed it (though ironically I would have heard it playing at Crossroads in Portland in August… I wonder if I would have asked about it…).  Of the five on this list, Big Black probably sticks out the most since it’s not like they’re new.  I mean, they don’t even exist any more.  But I missed the Big Black train back in the day, so when I finally broke down and bought Songs About Fucking earlier this year (an impulse buy from the used CD section as I was standing in a seemingly endless line during Record Store Day) it blew me away and I went out and got the rest of their stuff too.

Top 5 Vinyl Purchases

1.  Tackhead Tape Time – Gary Clail’s Tackhead Sound System
2.  Icecross – Icecross
3.  Dead Comet – Dead Skeletons
4.  Seattle Graffiti – Led Zeppelin
5.  MALLEVS – MALLEVS

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There weren’t any major exciting rarities or collectibles this year, just lots of great music.  Tackehead Tape Time is so awesome we burned it to mp3 and it’s been in steady rotation on my iPod for most of the year.  The re-release of Icecross’ album is great, and Dead Comet is just as exciting as a piece of art as it is a record.  Seattle Graffiti is a five record box set of a live Led Zep show from my hometown of Seattle… which I wanted enough that I actually broke down and ordered it from overseas, a rarity for me.  As an added bonus it came with the entire thing on three CDs as well, making it easy to rip to my iPod.  I also picked up a couple of cool Icelandic 7″ records this year, notably Þeyr’s Life Transmission and Lunaire, both of which had been on my want list for a while.

Top 5 Live Shows

1.  The Kills – Neptune, Seattle
2.  Hillstomp – Nectar, Seattle
3.  Flaming Lips – Vodafone Hall, Reykjavik
4.  HAM – KEX Hostel, Reykjavik
5.  Sykur – Slippbarinn, Reykjavik

The Kills were unquestionably the top show of the year for me.  Period.  I’d wanted to see them live for a long time, and seeing them in an intimate old theater like the Neptune made it all the better.  It was full but not packed, and they absolutely crushed it.  The big surprise on this list for me is Sykur.  We’d seen them before, maybe in 2010 or so, and I thought they were fine, so I wasn’t expecting anything special.  But they were incredibly engaging and passionate in their set inside the packed bar of Slippbarinn and earned a lot of points with me.  An honorable mention goes out to RVK Soundsystem’s great hip hop/reggae set at Harlem in Reykjavik, which definitely would have held down the #6 spot.

Top 5 Favorite Places to Buy Records

North America
1.  Easy Street Records, Seatte
2.  Silver Platters, Seattle
3.  Mississippi Records, Portland
4.  Crossroads Records, Portland
5.  Sit & Spin Records, Philadelphia

The Rest of the World
1.  Lucky Records, Reykjavik
2.  Råkk og Rålls, Oslo
3.  Disk Union, Tokyo
4.  Jet Set, Kyoto
5.  Neptoon, Vancouver

I had to break this down into two lists this year, otherwise it just ends up being Lucky, Easy Street, and Silver Platters holding down spots every year and only leaving room for two others.  I didn’t want to leave my personal “Big 3” off the list, but we went to a lot of cool places this year that were worthy of recognition.  Hence two lists.  We got to meet some cool people in record stores this year, and that’s a big part of the experience for sure.  An honorable mention goes out to the newly opened Reykjavik Record Shop, which is a must-see if you’re in Reykjavik.

Lucky Records gets extra points for being a live venue during Iceland Airwaves AND having an open bar during their Tuesday night set this year, something which I took advantage of to the point that I even spilled on their floor (but thankfully not on any records).  They also offer up free coffee all the time.  Easy Street has an attached cafe, so not only can you get breakfast while in the store, they even had white russians on RSD Black Friday in honor of the vinyl version of the Big Lebowski Soundtrack.  Honorable mention’s for Tokyo’s Big Love Records, which serves beer, and Tiger Records in Oslo which was serving cake on the evening we stopped by.  Making your record store into a social space is both awesome and good for business.

Top 5 Music Books

1.  Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich
2.  
Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. and All That… by Joe Carducci
3.  Get In the Van by Henry Rollins
4.  Bootleg:  The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry by Clinton Heylin
5.  Dust & Grooves:  Adventures In Record Collecting by Eilon Paz

I read a ton of music related books this year, so it was hard to narrow the list to five.  These are sort of all over the board, with a few first-hand accounts from Carducci and Rollins, to books on collecting and collectors, to stuff about the record industry.  What they all have in common is a passion for the topic that comes through in the writing (and pictures in the case of Dust & Grooves).  Honorable mention for Mick Wall’s biography of Metallica which I just finished.

 

I hope you had a great year in 2014, both musically and personally.  And no matter how good 2014 was for you, here’s to 2015 being even better.