Here is a rundown of some of the great new and current releases for those of us who still spend our hard-earned dollars on building up our record collections. So if you are perusing your favorite local mom-and-pop this weekend and not sure what to pick up, please consider any of these titles worthy of your economically strapped cashola. –Ed.
Hooverdam (Invisible Hands)
Recorded at London’s infamous Toe Rag Studio in glorious analog, the latest solo release from the onetime Strangler is a barebones affair that is by far his scrappiest set in over 20 years. Though it was originally released in 2008, it has recently been made available stateside at your local independent record store in both vinyl and compact disc. Please note the CD version also comes with a DVD entitled Blueprint that chronicles the making of this most remarkable outing from one of British punk’s reigning icons. And oh yea, Hooverdam is also still available as a free download on Hugh’s Web site. But do yourself a favor and pick up the real thing as well. Your collection will thank you for it.
DEAD MAN’S BONES
Featuring the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir (Anti-)
Every now and again you get a celebrity who ventures into the music game and actually comes out with something worth his or her salt in acting chops. As Dead Man’s Bones, indie film darling Ryan Gosling (The Believer, Lars and the Real Girl, Half Nelson), together with songwriting partner Zach Shields and a bunch of kids from the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir create a wholly unique fusion of Odyssey-era Zombies, Nick Cave and the Langley Schools Music Project that is creepy and captivating all at once. It might take a minute to grow on you, but soon enough this Dead Man will have your bones rattling in no time.
Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (Columbia-Legacy)
Abruptly awakened from his slumber at 2 AM to calm a rabid crowd incited by an explosive performance from Jimi Hendrix moments prior, Leonard Cohen soothingly inoculated a crowd of 600,000 at the 1970 Isle of Wight music festival with a healthy dose of his poetic downer folk; in his pajamas, no less. Filmmaker Murray Lerner, on hand to document the event, captured Cohen’s brilliant, cathartic performance on celluloid while legendary Columbia Records soundman Teo Macero handled the audio. The result is this extraordinary find, beautifully packaged as a CD/DVD set by my pals at Legacy Recordings to be made available for public consumption this coming Tuesday.
Fluorescent Black (Big Dada)
Over six years after allegedly calling it quits as a group, the members of the celebrated IDM rap coalition Anti-Pop Consortium sign to Big Dada and make a surprise return to the recording studio with their tightest album since Tragic Epilogue. Note to Jigga: If you want to hear how to truly stage a comeback on wax, quit hanging out at hipster rock shows and check out Fluorescent Black.
Andy Warhol Presents Man on the Moon: The John Phillips Space Musical (Varese Sarabande)
Yes, yes, John Phillips is a scumbag who banged his daughter. That much we found out just recently. But if you have followed the trajectory of the Phillips brood over the course of their 45 years in the national spotlight, the fact that this is one fucked up family is nothing new. However, just because the man was a demon outside of the studio should not circumvent his brilliance inside the recording booth. The latest entry in Varese Sarabande’s ongoing reissue campaign of Papa John’s amazing solo catalog is a long-in-the-works collection of previously unreleased music from Phillips’ oddball 1975 off-Broadway musical produced by Andy Warhol entitled Man on the Moon. Stripped-down studio recordings and live audio recorded by Warhol himself from the audience of the Little Theatre document this weird and wacky ensemble augmented by a freaky combination of Phillips’ Nilsson-esque songwriting and outlandish Broadway-style numbers.
Abstract Expression (Important)
How to you reach the shortcut in your record collection that takes you from ABBA to Harmonia in just a few measures? By following the trail blazed by Texas art pop maven Dominique Leone, of course. On his second album and first for Important Records, Leone continues trounce such competition as Dan Deacon and The Go! Team with his uncanny sonic collages that contain a more refined songwriting ability than anything he has done prior.
Chicken Switch (Ipecac)
The mighty, mighty Melvins return in 2009 with an album that takes P. Diddy’s boast of inventing the remix by outright reinventing that shit! For Chicken Switch, Buzzo and the boys invite a host of their experimental pals to take one of the many albums from their seemingly bottomless back catalog and whittle the entire thing down to a single track. And while you might not replace Houdini or The Maggot with this in your regular rotation, it is certainly interesting to see how the likes of Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, Matmos, Merzbow, Eye Yamatsuka of the Boredoms, Panacea and Kawabata Makoto of Acid Mothers Temple break down and reconstruct their favorite Melvins album into a span of three- to six-minute increments.
Embryonic (Warner Bros.)
All I have to say about this is THANK GOD. After enduring a full decade of warm, fuzzy cuteness from a group we should expect anything but from, The Flaming Lips make a refreshing return to the kind of paranoid, tripped out psychedelic rock that made you grateful the punk rockers finally started taking acid in the first place. Sorry all you Soft Bulletin fanboys, but Embryonic is the group’s best album since Clouds Taste Metallic. And hopefully we’ll never get to see those cheesy-ass animal costumes ever again.
Childish Prodigy (Matador)
For his Matador debut, Philadelphia bedroom pop experimentalist Kurt Vile makes good on his CD-R salad days with an incredible full-length that submerges the sound of Blue Mask-era Lou Reed into a lo-fi bubblebath of psychedelics reminiscent of vintage Spacemen 3 if they explored more of a drum machine groove. Songs like “Amplifier”, the seven-minute “Freak Train” and a stellar cover of “Monkey” by the Richard Hell-led supergroup Dim Stars is everything that you want the sound of the downtown NYC rock scene to sound like. But since it’s been all sanitized for the boutique-shopping, Blue Condo-dwelling masses, it transplanted itself into the Suburbs of Brotherly Love.