Alice In Chains was one of the great bands of the 1990s. Being a lead act in Seattle’s music scene, Alice In Chains released three albums and three EPs within the span of five years. Their music made an immense contribution to not only grunge, but rock music in general. They’ve influenced numerous bands, including already established Metallica. The harmony between lead singer Layne Staley and guitarist and backing vocalist, Jerry Cantrell was the most important asset of Alice In Chains. Their contrasts brought a compelling listen to their audiences. As Alice In Chains are mostly known for their heavy metal sound that was present in all three of their studio albums, the band, however, wanted to experiment with a softer sound, which ultimately led to the creation of their respective alter ego EPs, Sap and Jar of Flies. The band went into the studio in 1991 to record demos for their next album. However, the songs they recorded ended up being five acoustic songs. According to drummer, Sean Kinney, he had a dream about creating an EP called Sap. The band decided to leave the recordings as they were and release the short collection of songs as an extended play, Sap. Released in 1992, Sap was intended to experiment with a new sound, regardless the risk of losing fans of the band. Sap was successful and was certified gold. The EP had great acknowledgement in the light of the newly formed genre of grunge and Nirvana’s release of Nevermind in 1991. In 1994, another version of the song “Got Me Wrong” was featured on Kevin Smith’s film, Clerks. This brought more attention to the songs and the EP.
The groups involved with Georgia’s Elephant 6 collective sure have some strange names. Until recently, I only knew three: of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Apples in Stereo.
Then, one night, I found this song, off of the album Black Foliage: Animation Music.
The Olivia Tremor Control mixes jagged noise and primary-colored pop tunes, with excellent results. I’m definitely late on the punch with these folks, as these reviews indicate. But on the odd chance you haven’t heard of them, check them out. Check them out now.
-Love, Uncle Mike
She’s here! She’s family! Loretta Lynn’s album “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’,” has been added to WOBC’s folk vault! It’s an exciting time. For all of y’all who don’t know Loretta Lynn- this lady is a real gem. Lynn’s music is characterized by its honesty; set against the classic country twang of the late 60’s and 70’s are lyrics that discuss domestic abuse, alcoholism, and poverty.
“Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’,” hit Billboard’s #1 on the country album chart in 1967 and was given a “Gold” certification by the RIAA, the first album from a female country singer to receive this.
This album will not disappoint. Look for it on the new folk shelf, yay!
1. Don’t Come Home A Drink’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)
2. I Really Don’t Want to Know
3. Tomorrow Never Comes
4. There Goes My Everything
5. The Shoe Goes on the Other Foot Tonight
6. Saint to a Sinner
1. The Devil Gets His Dues
2. I Can’t Keep Away From You
3. I’m Living In Two Worlds
4. Get What ‘Cha Got and Go
5. Making Plans
6. I Got Caught
Kyp Malone of the independent rock band, TV on the Radio, worked on a project that was unexpected and released this as his solo album, Rain Machine, in 2009. Malone uses elements from the musical style of TV on the Radio, and incorporates his own ideas and thoughts much more in depth on his solo effort. He explores many of the sounds and themes that were found on releases of his previous projects. Malone played almost every instrument on this record, making it an interesting listen to what he wants to convey in his music. This record is different from any of his previous efforts in that it infuses acoustic sounds into the music rather than relying heavily on electric guitars.
The James and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection is the largest privately owned collection of jazz materials in the United States, and possibly the world. James Neumann, proprietor of the collection and an Oberlin Alumnus, decided last year to donate all of the materials to Oberlin. So far, the school has received about 45,000 vinyl LPs along with thousands of jazz periodicals and collectibles, which does not event amount to half of the entire collection. The recordings will not be available for students for some time, which is why WOBC has decided to give followers a regular taste of the collection’s rare gems. Disclaimer: Information and music posted are sourced from WOBC copies of albums also included in the Neumann Collection.
This week’s dig from the sea of Neuman’s jazz wax is Elvin Jones and Richard Davis’ Heavy Sounds, recorded and released in 1967 on the legendary Impulse! Records. Jones, who made his name as the drummer in John Coltrane’s Quartet of the mid- to late-fifties, and bassist Davis, who recorded with names as diverse as Eric Dolphy and Bruce Springsteen, are in top form on this exemplary hard-bop session. Jones and Davis are joined by tenor saxophonist Frank Foster and pianist Billy Greene on most of the tracks.
Overall, this record swings hard and gets weird just at the right moments. You can hear serious avant-garde intentions in the playing of Jones and Davis, but their music is still deeply rooted in jazz and blues traditions.
The record begins with a mid-tempo latin-swing rendition of Foster’s “Raunchy Rita”. This 11-minute, blues-drenched jam immediately confirms the album’s title; Jones’ groove layers dark rhythmic textures over Davis’ low-rounded bass tone, providing a heavy background for Foster to improvise with serious force. But perhaps the heaviest moments for this record come three tracks later on a 12-minute bass-drums duo version of “Summertime”, on which Jones takes an intense, pitch-oriented drum solo. Davis colors the track with exceptional bowing and subharmonic techniques, making for a highly unusual and improvisational journey through the classic Gershwin tune. Other highlights include Jones’ delta-blues style guitar playing on “Elvin’s Guitar Blues” (his first and only recorded performance on the instrument), and Foster’s heartbreaking lyricism on the Van Heusen ballad “Here’s That Rainy Day”, a welcome relief from the weight of the preceding tracks.
Tomoyuki Tanaka, better known by his stage name FANTASTIC PLASTIC MACHINE (or FPM) was once a prominent electronic music artist in the late nineties, piggy-backing off the novelty music fad known as Shibuya-kei. Created singlehandedly by Pizzicato Five, Shibuya-kei was an ironic form of pop taking cues from swinging London, Burt Bacharach, Serge Gainsbourg, and every producer driven act in sixties Europe. It died almost as quickly as it appeared.
FPM chugged along, churning out two successful shibuya-kei style albums, his self-titled debut and Luxury, a sort of bizarre concept album about commercialism. Soon he shifted from quirky, retro-pop artist into super-DJ-mega-club-house-producer. beautiful. (period included!) released in 2001, vividly represents this change.
A sort of mish-mash of 70s pop and club-soul, beautiful. is a weirdly hyper-produced album. Absurd orchestral arrangements over a battery of cut-up samples, insane lyrics that are entirely non-sequitirs, thumping club beats, grating midi strings, and porn grooves dominate. Beginning with a weird vocal sample that intones, “I, AM BEAUTIFUL”, the album opener, beautiful days, sets the tone: a summery, up-tempo club song with cheesy strings played on a keyboard. A deep voiced man and woman sing about memories, childhood and other such nonsense. This continues consistently until they recite the word BEAUTIFUL ad nauseum. It’s so annoying that it becomes stunning. Continue reading FROM THE VAULT: Fantastic Plastic Machine – beautiful
The tale is of a young man coming of age and facing, for the first time, the harsh circumstances surrounding his life. Feeling helpless to positively affect his abusive home life he resolves to run away, abandoning the emotional wreckage of his past in favor of a new life. On his own he quickly discovers that the outside world is not the warm and welcoming environment his youthful naivete had foreseen, but rather a cold and indifferent urban wasteland filled with specious comforts and perfidious companions. Far from achieving a paragon of success he realizes that indecision and insecurity are inextricable components of the human experience. Unable to reconcile his past, and struggling with growing regrets, his optimism is replaced with cynicism. This situation is further exacerbated by the drug induced death of his girlfriend. Then, after reaching the epitome of self-deprecating despondence, our main character awakens. His harrowing journey has been nothing more than a dream and he is left to contemplate the challenges of being a contributing and loving individual in a detached and hostile world.
This story reads like a post-modern novel exploring the growing alienated isolationism and the burden of optimism individuals face when attempting to navigate a path of goodness through the mechanics of a super-industrialized and thoughtlessly consumptive society. That this is the plot of a concept album titled “Zen Arcade” by the band Husker Du may not appear particularly striking, but noting that it is the focus of a double album by a band with roots deeply embedded in the early 80’s hardcore punk counterculture is practically stupefying. Hardcore, that bastion of youthful moral superiority, 50 second long songs, and unabashed musical inability, had never seen anything so ambitious. At the time of its release Zen Arcade was a breath of fresh air for a scene that had, in the name of nonconformity, developed a rigid and dogmatic doctrine governing the acceptable behaviors, appearances, and expressions of its participants.
In 1983 Husker Du, a hardcore band from the twin cities, began to explore melody while simultaneously experiencing a constantly expanding fan base. The band had just released their first record for Black Flag’s notorious label SST when they returned to California to lay out two dozen or so tracks for their most inspired and melodic release to date. Zen Arcade was recorded and mixed in a mere 85 hours with all but two of the recordings being first takes. The idea that a punk band could dare anything so indulgent as a double album concept record so impressed labelmates The Minutemen that Mike Watt and D. Boon furiously doubled the material they had prepared for their forthcoming album “Double Nickels on the Dime”.