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Originally released in 1984 as a cassette-only album, The Green Pajamas‘ Summer Of Lust received some positive reviews in its day, and 28 years after its release, it holds up incredibly well, if not more than it did way back when.
When I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1984, I immediately wanted to know who were the band that were making people rock out. The Green Pajamas were a band that was mentioned a lot in the Seattle magazine The Rocket. The group would try out a wide range of styles in their existence, but for the most part were a local phenomenon whose following was as devoted as any local band. There were fans elsewhere too, but The Green Pajamas were a part of a scene that just wanted to rock, drink, and rock some more so they can afford more drinks, and Summer Of Lust is an album that showed the band’s love of pop, rock’n'roll, an folk in a way that was reflective of the music they grew up with and listened to at the time. Even though the album is now available on CD and digital, it still has the feel of a demo cassette. If it sounds innocent to you, maybe because it sounds genuine, or at least music played by a band of good friends that wanted to just play. The drums may not be completely on beat in some sections, the mixing may sound like it was more 1966 than 1984, and those may be reasons someone may call this dated, but nothing wrong with being dated if it also means honoring an album that could easily be recorded today with the same enthusiasm.
Even though this is music from Seattle’s honorable past, each of the songs on Summer Of Lust sound borderless. To me it sounds like the Seattle I first came in contact with, but people from other locales may hear it and remember being similar to the sound of their city or town. Good music is good music, and maybe it will influence people in the next 28 years to bring the Green Pajamas to future generation.
Tom Kitty Oliver is a one-man project from Andrew Hamlet, who put together this 7-song cassette EP over the course of a year. Life On Loop is a title that could easily represent the cassette/analog-culture lifestyle, or perhaps a way to say that our lives can sometimes feel like a neverending tape loop, and it is our goal to break out of those loops every now and then, so that we do not simply exist within a vicious circle.
The first three songs are very lo-fi and sound like it was just recorded on a cassette deck, in a basement or closet, and whatever sounds Tom Kitty Oliver wanted to create, it went on tape, no questions asked. Just as things reach a level of murkiness, the midway point is celebrated with a nice burst of clarity with the nice sounding “Rowan Oak”, which sounds like him playing keyboards and an acoustic guitar with some maracas over a drum machine. Then as if by magic, it sounds like he has moved his instruments and microphone into the kitchen for a bit of morning glory.
The description for Life On Loop calls this music “the transcendence he seeks through the interplay of ritual and novelty”, and one can easily interpret it that way. It’s novel in that he sounds like he’s having fun creating these sounds, but the way Tom Kitty Oliver does it shows that this is not just a random assembly of sounds (although for all I know, one or two songs may have been done with the spirit of “fuck it, let’s see what happens”.) For Hamlet, his fans who know him for his work with Pressed And may find this a bit more “out there”, but my hope is that those who appreciate them for also being “out there” at times with their electronic trips will like Tom Kitty Oliver for his own trips too.
(The cassette for Life On Loop can be pre-ordered directly from Bandcamp, where you are also able to stream and listen to it in full, or buy the EP digitally.)
24 years: has it really been 24 years since this album came out? Most people in the mainstream had not heard of Jane’s Addiction when they made their major label debut with Nothing’s Shocking, and many new fans weren’t aware of their debut album on Triple X Records. But to come out with a major label debut featuring a sculpture created by vocalist Perry Farrell which portrayed two conjoined twins in the nude (they were modeled after his then-girlfriend, Casey Niccoli), was a very bold move at the end of the era of Reaganomics, and musically, right before the rise of a new appreciation for bold and daring music that would eventually be given the tag “alternative”.
The album and group made a huge impact, and now it can be re-appreciated again with a forthcoming remaster on Audio Fidelity. This remaster was done by Kevin Gray and will be released on a 24k gold compact disc. The album actually ends with “Thank You Boys”, but the cassette and compact disc versions had “Pigs In Zen” as a bonus track as the last song, so this new Audio Fidelity pressing caters to that.
With other bands (and I’m talking in a more mainstream sense), the music of Loop 2.4.3 would be so left-of-center, people wouldn’t know how to describe or what to do with it. What I hear is a group of studied musicians who understand different depths and textures, and how to shape it to create what they themselves want to create with it. American Dreamland is kind of an album that… I’ve described other albums like this before, but it applies here too, in that it sounds like tapping into a bunch of radio stations on a long drive out of town (back when it wasn’t expensive to fill up on tanks), wanting to create a mix of all of the great music along the way, and wishing there was a band who did it. Loop 2.4.3 are a group who do this and quite well, bringing in elements of rock, pop, exotica, lounge, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, and other little things that can be envisioned like the perfect musical score for a film to-be-determined. As I listened to the opening track (“Sakura (We Must Love)”), I was reminded of Pink Floyd‘s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” if Radiohead and what would happen if a wicked-yet-beautiful female voice entered the picture. There’s a sense of beauty and mystery in the song, for the percussion and xylophone/vibes may bring to mind a certain mood, the background vocals add different colors, and the crunchy guitars take it to yet another place. Move on to “So Strong” and all of a sudden it’s a page right out of Mr. Bungle‘s California album, as if someone wanted to combine lounge music with funk. Logically, you know it shouldn’t fit but you’re glad that in music, these different elements are having an orgy. “I Knew (We Shouldn’t)” then sounds like something you’d expect on your grandfather’s pop albums, or some soundtrack for a movie no one has bothered to release on DVD yet.
The many differences heard throughout this album is united by Loop 4.2.3 themselves. Now, when I was doing my original review, I had said the album was called American Heartland, and stated “while those differences may or may not be the reason why they called this album American Heartland, it would be nice if the heartland was as unified-for-a-common-cause as this group is. The differences also works because of how solid the songs are too, well written and structures so that it’s not just being random for the sake of.” I’ve been corrected (this is what I get for writing without caring for the press release), and it makes much more sense for this to be a Dreamland, for a Heartland would be in denial of this goodness. May the dreams within us come into the real life existence.
Bev Lee Harling‘s new album, Barefoot In Your Kitchen (Wah Wah 45′s) has just been released, and if you may have heard of the name but not what she’s actually about as an artist, good news. You can download one of her songs for free by clicking the Bandcamp player below (if the player is not showing up, click here.) This is an acoustic version of “Private Life Of A Puppet”, a derivative of what she’s about. If you like, check out what she sounds like in full.
First assumptions: when I saw the name Melody’s Echo Chamber, I wanted to know if the lady in the photo was named Melody. It is, and her name is Melody Prochet. Check.
Second assumption: is this Echo Chamber she speaks of a relative of Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber? Uncertain, will clarify once I find out.
Third assumption: “Crystalized” begins with a sound effet that sounds like an Atari 2600 game I played years ago, and I thought “oh, will this be on the electronic side of things?” Answer: no, but there is a thin platform of electronic sounds that coated on the bottom before it gets into a nice, distorted collage of aggressive alternative/indie rock with a bass that is force-fed like a clusterfuck of sound. Check.
What I like about the track is that it sounds like it was recorded in analog. Maybe it was, bust out the reels, but that it was done in a basement (maybe it was) on a cassette deck (maybe it was). It just has a nice late 80′s/early 90′s feel that may sound nostalgic for some, but really equals to a sum of some damn good music that I think people will like for those who miss this style of music being current and fresh. Quality music never dies anyway, so a treat from the echo chamber of one Melody.
Not an assumption: Melody’s Echo Chamber will release this as a single later this year on Fat Possum, and is also setting up dates for a Fall tour.
There are some accessible indie rock compositions heard on Jargon by Legato Bebop, but in order to find them, you have to go through a great obstacle course to hear them. It’s about the journey towards a destination, but initially my destination wasn’t to find something catchy. The album begins with various sounds moving in and out of the audio picture, and I’m enjoying how experimental and avant-garde things sound, very trippy but I like how it’s being done. When the second track (“Day In Day Out”) I’m hearing a mixture of an aggressive indie rock/pop song mixed in with a pinch of minimalism, a complete shift from what I expected. It’s a good one though, for it might come off as a just reward for listening to the driveway towards it. But again, it’s not about the final destination, but the journey itself, and the journey continues with what sounds like a rainy morning through an open-air shopping mall in “Empathy For Children”, complete with ringing/a jingle that could be a signal for a sidewalk, an ice cream druck, or merely a random bell. If the bell is meant to be to let listeners know someone is at the door, then opening the door reveals a distorted/muffled drum beat that takes us to “Teacher”, a song in 3/4 time that becomes an embrace of sorts when the guitar comes in about a third of the way into it.
“Haditha” could be a massive dirge metal track if it wasn’t for the fact there’s a synthesized voice that sounds like it’s going through an octave divider, but the drums are tribal sounding. “(A Defector Dreams)” is a pleasant song with nothing but a filtered guitar and a voice ripped in a river of reverb. As the album ends with “Disney’s Magical Gulag”, you’re unsure of how it will conclude but it sounds like all of the sounds in the form of “characters” walk up on stage to acknowledge its existence, and then you begin to imagine what these songs are trying to say, or at least try to say what you hear in the music. The repetition of some of the looped sounds makes it sound like things of the past are either trying to reach the present day, or it’s merely there to signify how much more distant we are moving from where we came. Or it simply sounds good to hear the collection of sounds end up in one place: the album’s final destination.
Legato Bebop is a project from the mind of Patrick John White, and Jargon is a coded language that you’ll either understand on the surface or not. It’s my way of saying that the music will either want you to stick around, or scare you off to find a language more understandable. Those who stay will find Legato Bebop’s linguistic capacities to be extraordinary.
This album was a bit of a mystery to me. Despite having released a few projects before, I had never heard a full project by Mickey Avalon (I did post one of his videos last July.) To be honest, when I looked at the cover, I thought it was a lady. Then I looked for an artist name, it said Mickey. I saw a photo of Mickey spread eagle, sitting on top of the toilet tank with an open jacket and jeans and thought “okay, that’s not a woman.” What was this? Hollywood brat trying to make music and if so, what kind of music? The imagery made it look like a rock or indie rock album, but I was moved to listen anyway. I was plesantly surprised.
The music on Loaded (Banana Boat/Suburban Noize) sounds like someone who was high, went into the studio and said “hey, I got a funky new tune and a fly banjo” but this guy was/is serious. What made me truly listen? Even though he made a New Edition reference, I was more struck by the mention of Chi-Ali. You don’t make random Chi-Ali references unless you know who he is, and even the top hip-hop artists of the present day aren’t making Chi-Ali mentions. I went in.
Loaded isn’t actually a hip-hop album proper, but its influence is obvious throughout. One track may sound like some indie rock with a nice drum loop, another may come off like a Gnarls Barkley outtake, or something brand new from Beck. It’s quirky when it needs to be, but is serious in its execution. Avalon consumes countless pop references from the last 35 years, throws it up in a blender full of beer, vodka, bananas, and wheatgrass, and forces you to listen, or tickles you to laugh so that he’ll spew it back down your thrown without you knowing what hit you.
Simple words? It’s hip-hop, but sounds like someone who grew up with a lot of other music and refuses to make music that subscribes to conformity. 20 years ago, this would have been ranked up there with Justin Warfield‘s first and Divine Styler‘s second: cult favorites that wouldn’t be recognized until someone else 20 years later decided to shine the light. Don’t be late with Avalon. I don’t consider myself late to him as much as I was unaware. Now I’m aware and alert, I’m here for whatever he chooses to make next.
If you’re a fan of dingy, grungy, and dank rock with pinches of pop, garage, and even a bit of surf music thrown in, you’ll want to pick up the new 4-song 7″ by Sic Alps.
Pangea Globe (Drag City) is basically a tribute record to The Tronics, so if you are lucky enough to know who they are, you’ll get a kick out of this one. Sic Alps go in and cover “Squiddley Diddley”, “Spending Time”, “Shark Fucks”, and a song that doesn’t start with the letter “s”, “My Baby’s In A Coma”. The record would be a great find if it was some long lost record from 1964, or something you found in Mark Arm‘s record collection, or maybe a long lost artifact from the Sympathy For The Record Industry acetate archives, but this one comes courtesy of Drag City records, a plus.
(Pangea Globe, will be released on April 24th, and can be pre-ordered right now for $5 each directly from Drag City Records.)
This was a welcome surprise. I’ve been a fan of Glen Galloway since his days with Trumans Water, and when the group dissolved and he morphed into Glen Galaxy, I wasn’t aware of Soul-Junk until he/they had released a number of albums. By the time I discovered the Galloway/Galaxy connection, it was when Soul-Junk was in hip-hop mode with one of the best tracks released at the beginning of the new millennium. However, Soul-Junk has always been more on the indie-rock/alterna-noise crunchy whatever you want to call it, and that suits him and his fans just fine.
1961 (Sounds Gamilyre) now has Galaxy turning Soul-Junk into a family affair, with his brother Jon Galloway/Galaxy and two kids becoming a part of the Soul-Junk sound. While the majority of Soul-Junk’s music has been based on words from the Bible, for 1961 he decided to explore the Song of Ascents as a source of inspiration. Musically, one can consider it a collection of various influences he has had throughout Soul-Junk’s existence, along with brief glimpses of his work with Trumans Water.
Despite the spiritual themes, you don’t have to know the words or reasons for him singing this for you to enjoy this. To be able to appreciate his compassion and devotion is unique as the music itself, and that’s one reason why I have remained a fan all these years. Longtime Soul-Junk fans will be a fan of this too.