Top 5 Adds is a weekly section of the WOBC Blog that displays the Top 5 most played new albums at the station. Each album links to the band’s myspace, Last.fm, or other music player so you can check them out for yourself!
1. Pure X – Pleasure // Austin, Texas’ Pure X–though you may remember them as Pure Ecstasy–finally released their debut full-length album: the aptly named Pleasure. Regardless of their slight name change, these dudes are still making the same signature dreamy garage pop, washed out in reverberating fuzz. Check out ‘Easy’ or ‘Dream Over’ if you’re sitting on a porch and just want to exist.
2. Memory Tapes – Player Piano // The biggest difference between Player Piano and 2009’s hit Seek Magic is the prominence of Dayve Hawk’s voice; while previously obscured behind echoed filters and glistening chillwave (back when we were still excited about it), on Player Piano you can actually… hear it. Whether or not this is a positive thing remains to be determined.
Curtis Knight was a guitar player who’s musical output was sadly overshadowed by his connection to Jimi Hendrix. This entire album is consistently amazing, with floor-shaking drums and bass (play it in the booth), and top-notch songwriting by Mr. Night. The WOBC copy is cleaner and more crackle-free than the youtube clip.
Calvin Keys – Proceed With Caution! (Jazz)
Calvin Keys is a Jazz and session guitarist from the Bay Area who has played with greats like Ray Charles and Bobby Hutcherson. This is his second solo album on the label. Again, this has a sweet cover, with a leapord skin-clad Keys scowling straight at the camera. The music is equally good. It was released in 1974 on the famed Black Jazz label. Like other early 70s Black Jazz titles, this record is full of loud drums (provided by the talented Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, who would go on to play drums on Michal Jackson’s “Billie Jean”), and Fender Rhodes. Most of the album is straight-ahead jazz, but tracks like the soul-influenced “Aunt Lovely” depart from that format.
Top 30 is a weekly section of the blog where we show the 30 most played artists and albums on WOBC. Each entry links to the artist’s MySpace (or other free music player) so you can check out some of this music for yourself!
To say that time forgot Lee Hazlewood isn’t quite right, but he’s not exactly a household name, either. He’s the other half of the Nancy (Sinatra) and Lee tandem, the relatively obscure pop genius behind “These Boots Were Made for Walkin.’” His crotchety baritone and air-tight lyrics put him in the same league – in a lot of ways – as Leonard Cohen, or at least Tim Hardin, but he’s got a wry streak that you’d be hard pressed to find from other late-‘60’s/early-‘70’s troubadours.
To say that time forgot his 1971 album Requiem for an Almost Lady is a little more on-point. Originally only released in Sweden and the UK, it was re-released in 1999 on CD in the US. When the board was rearranging CDs in the pop vault, I found the station’s copy. His name rang a bell, since I’ve been on a Nancy Sinatra kick for the better part of a year now, and the greatness of her collaborations with Hazlewood has never been lost on me. This was the first Hazlewood solo I’d come across, and it seems as good a place as any to start.
There’s a self-consciously campy quality to Requiem that will endear some, and no doubt irk others. It is, first and foremost, a breakup album, and Hazlewood never minces words (though he doesn’t give any names). He introduces each of the ten songs on this album with some self-styled platitude about romance, and that’s where most of the camp lies. He could be your creepy uncle, the wizened dude pounding Wild Turkey at the end of the bar, or the poet laureate of something in between. “In the beginning there was nothing,” he says in the album’s opening seconds, “but it sure was fun to watch nothing grow.” He offsets those kinds of wistful remembrances with deadpans like: “I’m glad I never owned a gun.” I happen to like this combo. It works best songs like “I’m Glad I Never,” “Little Miss Sunshine (Little Miss Rain),” and “If It’s Monday Morning,” the latter two of which rival any of Hardin’s or Kris Kristofferson’s hits. While the album isn’t all gems, these cuts alone make it worth the listen.
Given his status as a niche songwriter, it makes sense that Hazlewood doesn’t carry the name-recognition that Kristofferson, Hardin, or Cohen do. Still, he’s a nice foil to these guys. For every great songwriter inspired by the craftsmanship of these songwriters, there are others who tend to embody only their more lachrymose and affected moments. If there were more songwriters like Hazlewood, people might write pop songs better able to express the conflicting emotions – a little more sunshine, a little more rain — that come with heartbreak (save his concession that he’d “rather be her enemy than have her call me friend”). But Lee’s all we’ve got, and that’s really not so bad.
RIYL: Tim Hardin, Kris Kristofferson, Leonard Cohen, Nancy Sinatra
“It’s been nearly four years since Cleaning the Mirror came out, and in that time Kevin Failure’s production has been slow but steady, a half-dozen singles and EPs, each of them a concise statement, each of them different from the last. Put those postcard missives together and you can chart an atlas of depression, of a guy’s struggles with a darkness that threatens to swallow him up every… day. Or you can map Failure’s travels around the globe, from Wisconsin and Ohio, through Melbourne and Santiago de Chile, and finally to New York City, places where Failure has been both catalyst and receptor to a global scene’s underground energies. The evidence of those four years, and then some, are inscribed in the six songs of Shit in the Garden, the new Pink Reason LP and Failure’s best work to date.
Unlike the myriad bands dumping product into a ceaseless internet datastream, Pink Reason demands and repays scrutiny. Try and dissect it like an owl pellet and you’ll give up in frustration: it won’t disintegrate into a million parts, into a vomitous bundle of “influences,” effects, and references. It holds together, it resists description, analysis, generic classification. It writhes away and gives you the slip, only to blossom in your memory when you least expect it. Listen to these six songs and you’ll hear weeks, months, even years of labor and experience compressed into five- and six-minute songs. Great songs, songs that reveal themselves to you little by little and then close up again, songs that will probably stay with you for the rest of your life. Pink Reason rewards that attention and dedication because Failure doesn’t repeat himself, and because, like all the best punk records, each release feels like a hard-earned victory over indifference, depression, and self-destructive rage.
Now that the dust is settling and the commercial concerns of a thousand “lo-fi” projects have vacated the underground for a better life in the dorm rooms of America, the influence of Cleaning the Mirror on the past half-decade is clear. Failure is still here, using the cheapest technology imaginable to create rich, enveloping psychological environments, to give voice to a restless inner life, his music blooming like sunflowers amid the debris.”