Sunday, December 31, 2006


I was cleaning today and noticed a small stack of CDs I'd never bothered to listen to during '06, just kinda filed 'em away when they arrived. So I popped a couple of 'em in the player. The first was Whit Dickey's Sacred Ground (Clean Feed). This is the third album Dickey’s done for this Portuguese label, and I can't even remember the names of the other two, never mind what they sounded like. They all have the same personnel, more or less: Roy Campbell on trumpet, Rob Brown on alto sax, Joe Morris on bass (on one of the other two, there was a different bassist, so Morris played guitar), and Dickey on drums. Five or even four years ago, I'd have bent over backwards to find something nice or at least encouraging to say about a record like this, but I don't have it in me anymore to cheerlead for guys who are running on fumes, creatively. (If they're not, they're jacking off just to get the session fee and the few hundred guaranteed sales, and that's maybe even worse.) Can free jazz be formulaic and faceless? You bet your ass, and this is the proof.

I got better results with Catacombs' In The Depths Of R'lyeh (Moribund Cult). This came out in February, but I didn't pay any attention at the time, for reasons I can’t accurately recall right now. (It might have been because the label sent me some goofy solo-black-metal stuff at the same time – Fear Of Eternity, Striborg – and I probably couldn’t muster the energy to slot one more of their offerings into the player). It's doom metal at its most ponderous - basically, the tempo of early Swans with a lot more sustain in the guitar lines - and the vocals go down into Cookie Monster's sub-basement until they don't even sound like a human voice, let alone discernible words. Six songs in 72 minutes and some change (Track Two, “Dead Dripping City,” runs close to 17 minutes all by itself). It's not as good as Ahab's The Call Of The Wretched Sea, but it’s pretty good, and the title of the last track made me laugh – "Awakening Of The World's Doom (Reprise)."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I grabbed just under 60 CDs & DVDs from Tower on 4th & Broadway in Manhattan, two days before they went under - most everything in the place was down to 80 percent off, and it was pretty sparse, but there were still some things worth grabbing if you really knew what you were looking for. I got, among other things, the latest Kinky album, Joselo from Cafe Tacuba's second solo disc Lejos, a really nice 2CD Table of the Elements compilation, and Priestess's Hello Master. How did I miss this album when it came out earlier this year? I guess it didn't get much play on Pitchfork or ILM. Anyway, they're four Canadians playing retro-styled hard rock - mostly 70s, with a little 80s in the solos. They're on RCA, for some reason I can't figure out; they belong on Tee Pee. (The disc in fact was initially released on a Canadian indie in '05.) Big riffs, fleet enough guitar work, thudding rhythm section, a more than decent bawler up front. Guest organ on "Lay Down" brings 'em close to Uriah Heep territory. As the old saying goes, "Those who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like." I figured I'd like this as soon as I saw the cover*, so I grabbed it for just over three bucks, and so far I like it just fine.

*External link because I'm posting from a laptop and this browser won't let me use Blogger's image-embedding capabilities.


No, not Pazz & Jop. Voice jazz critic Francis Davis's first (maybe) annual jazz critics' poll, in which I participated with somewhere around 25-30 other writers, mostly NYC-based but some from other parts of the country, too. Here's the breakdown; Ornette Coleman won in a landslide, as he should have. Davis has an essay analyzing it all, while giving himself space for honorable mentions (which we mere voters didn't get, otherwise I'd have mentioned Kenny Garrett's Beyond The Wall and Odyssey The Band's Back In Time, both omissions I regret). N.B.: I'm the guy who said "hate jazz vocals, always have" on my ballot. You can see that ballot, along with most of the other contributors' ballots, here.

Speaking of critics' polls, how fucked is it that Celtic Frost's Monotheist made it to #32 on The Wire's Top 50 of 2006? I would have almost bet money that I was the only person who voted for it, but maybe someone else (Edwin Pouncey, I'm guessing) did, too.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Twelve Tone Tales Volume One
Twelve Tone Tales Volume Two

A confession: I don't understand twelve-tone theory. I looked it up on Wikipedia once, but by the time I got to the retrograde inversion, I was already yawning. And while this may well mark me as barely one step above a bug-eating ape, I don't care. Neither should any prospective listener allow self-doubt to keep them from exploring this pair of solo piano CDs. They sound great whether you approach after years of brow-furrowing study, or hear them after being raised to adulthood alone, in an unlit basement with absolutely no instruction in rudimentary human social skills, let alone the niceties of improvised and 20th century classical musics.

Schlippenbach sticks to keys and pedals throughout; no string-plucking or foreign objects to throw off anybody less than fully versed in avant garde pianistics. Occasional high-speed workouts like "LOK 03," which closes Volume One, are balanced by the title track and its three variations - each is as graceful and beautiful an exercise in balance as a cat crossing a ladder between two skyscrapers. The standards that close the set offer a 20 minute comedown from the occasionally stark heights scaled during the previous 90-100 minutes. They also serve as reminders that Schlippenbach can swing pretty hard when he wants to.

Trigger Trilogy
Conrad Schnitzler began his musical career in Tangerine Dream, though he left after their debut CD, forming Kluster with Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius. He quit that group after three albums, and since the mid-70s he's been the creepy guy down in the basement, flinging cassettes and CD-Rs this way and that. A lot of his releases have titles that begin with "Con," but there's no scam to his scheme; he's just the Bartleby of the avant garde. Tour? Do press? Collaborate? He would prefer not to.

This triple helping of untitled electronica comes in eye-popping packaging. Each disc, if you believe the press release, was composed using slightly different methodology, but given the sameness of the CD layouts and the lack of information included with the item itself, it's safe to assume the sounds, not the means of their creation, are the point.

Disc One, "Solo Rhythmics," features Techno tracks so minimal they make Basic Channel sound like Gamble & Huff. Each thumps and hisses, crackles and zooms and eventually hums away into the void, subtly filtered into the next. Disc Two, "Mix Solos," is less pummeling and more interactive, the tracks blending into each other more seamlessly, even as they differ in style. Some sound like burbling and hissing 70s movie soundtracks, while others seem to come from a decade later. The stylistic shifting, between discs and from track to track, give the music a somewhat timeless feel, as long as one understands time to have stopped around 1985.

Disc Three, "Con-Cert," includes some eerily Autechre-esque moments, as well as some stuff that could have been culled from his earliest released recordings. That's the trouble with hermits - they tend not to notice that the world has kept on turning while they've been inside. Still, each of these CDs has an unsettling quality that, over the long haul of repeated listening, turns into something a lot like fun. Whether the maker intended his product to be greeted by anything so vulgar as listener enjoyment is a question destined to go unanswered, though.


In the past couple of days, I've downloaded a bunch of records that have been highly rated by others throughout the year but which never landed in my PO box or crossed my desk. I guess I'm gonna spend some time next week listening to them. But the great thing is, I don't have to write about them, I just have to listen and either enjoy or not. Pure civilian consumption of music - a pleasure I haven't allowed myself much of lately.

My recent acquisitions:

Project Pat, Crook By Da Book: The Fed Story (gave this one its first run last night; it's great)
Z-Ro, I'm Still Livin' (checked this one out yesterday too, and was kinda disappointed but will give it another shot because the first song, "City Streets," is fucking incredible)
Blut Aus Nord, Mort and The Work Which Transforms God
Spektr, The Near Death Experience
Scott Walker, The Drift (I listened to the first song from this already, and I'm not sure I'm going to wind up liking it - the musical backdrop is really cool, sort of between "good" Jandek and a slightly mellower Abruptum, but the man's voice is just unbelievably annoying, both because of how mannered it is and because of his actual tonality.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I bought Pimp C's Pimpalation yesterday (no real reason why, I was just browsing around in Best Buy prior to pillaging the 4th & Broadway Tower Records for whatever I could find, which turned out to be just under 60 CDs and DVDs for just over $200), and like many Houston rap releases of late, it came as a 2CD set with the "Screwed & Chopped" version as Disc Two. The only other one of these twofers I've actually bought was Mike Jones's album, but that was more enjoyable than I'd predicted it would be (I only bought it after "Still Tippin'" worked its way into my skull over a period of several weeks of repeated encounters on MTV), so I figured it was worth another shot.

Both discs are good, and I'm thinking about also picking up Project Pat's Crook By Da Book: The Fed Story and Z-Ro's I'm Still Living, tomorrow, before I go home for a week's "vacation." The point of this post, though, is that I started listening to the intro track to the screwed & chopped disc last night, while walking from the subway toward Penn Station, to catch another train back home, and between the slowed-down voice, the equally-slowed-down electric guitar riff in the background (the first song samples Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'") and DJ Michael Watts' narration, which is all about Pimp C's recent release from incarceration...well, the whole thing reminded me of Funkadelic's "March To The Witch's Castle," from Cosmic Slop. The same feeling of resignation, bleak horror, and depression hangs over both tracks, even though Watts is clearly attempting to conjure a mood of celebration. And when Pimp C tries to get celebratory on the song "I'm Free," it seems unconvincing. I think Houston rap might be the new Goth, as far as lyrical fatalism and despair is concerned.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Beyond The Wall

It's rare to hear an album that causes you to reassess an artist's entire prior career. But based on this brilliant new release, alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett has hidden depths that must now be teased out of earlier discs like Songbook and Triology - which until now had seemed like glib technical exercises.

Beyond The Wall features the rhythm section of pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Brian Blade, and two very special guests: tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. These two are a direct link back to the first wave of free and avant-garde jazz in the early to mid-1960s, and they inspire their younger compatriots. The album opener, "Calling," is a modal piece based around Eastern-influenced melodic lines, exactly the kind of thing that inspired both Coltrane and Sanders to florid heights 40 years ago. Garrett has never sounded better than he does here, duetting with the older man as the rhythm section surges beneath them. It's not a screamfest - it's beautiful, spiritual music, the kind of thing jazz used to aim for all the time but rarely does anymore, except on indie releases that sell 1,000 copies to the same 1,000 people every time.

The rest of the album ranges from Latinate vamps like "Qing Wen" to gorgeous ballads ("Tsunami Song," "May Peace Be Upon Them"). The nearly 12-minute "Now" is the track that comes closest to matching the awesome beauty of "Calling," with both Sanders and Hutcherson soloing wildly as the rest of the group does its best to deserve such stellar company. Occasional and somewhat cheesy vocals can't diminish the impact of all these musicians working at the top of their abilities. This is a shockingly powerful album. Who knew Garrett had it in him?


Paperthinwalls has posted its year-end roundup, with every song downloadable so you can burn a nice 2CD holiday mix. My choice - Amon Amarth's "Runes To My Memory" - is toward the end of Disc Two.

Speaking of Amon Amarth, I saw them live last night, as the capper to my birthday weekend (I turned 35 yesterday). They played the Nokia Theatre, opening for Children Of Bodom (who I like, but didn't stick around for) along with Gojira, and Sanctity (who I deliberately arrived too late to see).

Gojira were good; heavier and faster than I'd remembered from listening to their newest album, From Mars To Sirius. Their riffs were almost Meshuggah-esque at times, while other times they stuck to a fairly routine Helmet-meets-Slayer thrash style. They're from France, but you couldn't tell by listening to them. Even their between-song patter was unaccented. I gotta download find a store that stocks their first two albums sometime soon; they impressed me.

I was there to see Amon Amarth, though. I saw them on their Versus The World tour in 2002 or so, at BB King's - one of five shows the Metal Gods tour (Halford, Immortal, AA, Primal Fear, maybe one more act I'm forgetting now) got to finish before the money ran out, or somebody's manager fucked somebody over some way or other - anyway, it fell apart all of a sudden after NYC, and since Immortal broke up not long after, I've always felt privileged to have been there. Even within the tight confines of BB King's, Amon Amarth were great, and won me over on the spot. The triple live DVD, Wrath Of The Norsemen, released earlier this year, showed them in their prime, though, headlining in Europe (numerous festival gigs, too) before ravening thousands-deep crowds. So I was really looking forward to seeing them on the Nokia's larger stage, and they delivered.

They're a pretty stripped-down band, both musically and literally: the singer and bassist play shirtless, while the guitarists play in plain black T-shirts and jeans, and it's hard to see the drummer behind all the cymbals. Their sound is death metal, without any of the fancy time signature changes or wheedly-deedly solos; they're very much about chugging, machine-like riffs and occasional outbursts of Iron Maiden-style dual lead guitar arpeggios. Johan Hegg's vocals are guttural, but clearly comprehensible, which makes sense because he's always singing about Viking life and heroic exploits, rather than sociopathic wallowing in serial rape/murder or cartoon Satanism. (They're Norse, not Christians, after all.)

The set was 40 minutes, tight and energetic from beginning to end. They began with the same one-two punch of their new CD With Oden On Our Side: "Valhall Awaits Me" into "Runes To My Memory." They followed that with the song I, and most of the yelling dudes immediately behind me, wanted to hear - "Death In Fire," the single and opening cut from probably their best album, 2002's Versus The World. That was as far into their back catalog as they went; every song they played came from their last three albums. "Death In Fire" was followed by "The Fate Of Norns," the title track from their 2004 disc. Then we got two more from the new album - "Asator" and "Cry Of The Black Birds," with taped ravens screeching on the intro and all. The last two songs of the set were "An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm," the Fate Of Norns opener, and "The Pursuit Of Vikings," from that album. And that was it, they were out, and so was I. I was there for Viking metal, not Children Of Bodom's keyboard-heavy prog/power-thrash, fun as it can be in the right mood. I'd really like to see Amon Amarth play a two-hour headlining set, including tracks from their first three albums - Once Sent From The Golden Hall, The Avenger and The Crusher, as well as other recent favorites like "Thousand Years Of Oppression," "For The Stabwounds In Our Backs" and "Versus The World," but this short, concentrated dose was just what I needed last night. Hail the Vikings.

This post's title comes from "Heaven," by Talking Heads. I used it not because it had anything to do with Amon Amarth, but because my birthday also used to be my favorite aunt's birthday. She passed away a few years ago, and slightly less than a week afterward, I was riding the train to work and "Heaven" (the Stop Making Sense version) came up on my iPod, and I almost lost my shit. That song has always made me think of her, ever since, and it was playing in my head late last night as I was falling asleep.

Friday, December 15, 2006


United In Regret

Arsis are a two-man death-metal group from Virginia (they rent a bassist and second guitarist for live gigs). Their debut, A Celebration of Guilt, piled one knuckle-popping riff atop another like they were challenging peers and fans alike to keep up, but anthemic, almost arena-ready choruses were their secret weapons. It was a fierce combination...

Read the rest here.


Adolescents, "I Hate Children"
Bela Bartok, "String Quartet No. 4 - Non troppo lento"
Calle 13, "Electrico"
Prince Jazzbo, "Crabwalking"
Stereolab, "Wow And Flutter"
Iced Earth, "Watching Over Me"
Steve Reich, "Music For 18 Musicians - Pulses"
Thelonious Monk, "Monk's Dream (Take 3)"
Basic Channel, "Q1.1 Edit"
The Allman Brothers Band, "Midnight Rider (Live)"
The Mars Volta, "El Ciervo Vulnerado"
Blackbeard, "Cut After Cut"
Arsis, "Seven Whispers Fell Silent"
Van Halen, "Women In Love"
Cryptopsy, "Crown Of Horns"
3 Inches Of Blood, "Deadly Sinners"
Schoolly D, "We Don't Rock, We Rap"
Metallica, "Disposable Heroes"
Slayer, "Flesh Storm"
Xasthur, "Through A Trance Of Despondency"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I was asked to vote in one more year-end poll, being run by Voice jazz reviewer Francis Davis. Apparently the pool of voters is pretty small - only about 40 writers - so it's either gonna represent a really narrow consensus or a totally scattershot array of highly individualistic picks. My money's on the former; jazz is pretty arid lately. Anyway, here's what I submitted:

2006's ten-best new releases (albums released between Thanksgiving 2005 and Thanksgiving 2006), listed in descending order one-through-ten...

Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)
David S. Ware, BalladWare (Thirsty Ear)
Shot X Shot, s/t (High Two)
Frank Wright, Unity [recorded in 1974 but only officially released this year] (ESP-Disk)
Rudresh Mahanthappa, Codebook (Pi)
William Parker, Long Hidden: The Olmec Series (AUM Fidelity)
Nels Cline, New Monastery (Cryptogramophone)
Fred Anderson, Timeless (Delmark)
Art Ensemble of Chicago, Non-Cognitive Aspects Of The City: Live At Iridium (Pi)
Jason Moran, Artist In Residence (Blue Note)

The year's top three reissues, again listed in descending order...
Weather Report, Forecast: Tomorrow (Legacy)
Sonny Stitt, Stitt’s Bits: Bebop Recordings 1949-1952 (Concord)
Rufus Harley, Courage: The Atlantic Recordings (Rhino Handmade)

I was also asked to choose the best jazz vocal album of the year, but I didn't listen to any. I hate jazz vocal. Always have. Somewhat similarly, I defaulted the Shot x Shot disc into the "best debut" category, because, though it probably reflects very poorly on me indeed, I didn’t pay much attention to new artists this year.

So that's it. I'm officially finished assessing 2006. I can now move on to a solid two weeks or so of listening to music for pleasure, before I have to start logging new shit for next year's survey consideration.

Monday, December 11, 2006


"It" being the purpose of music writing: to make you hear with new ears. Go check out Hank Shteamer's blog entry about Rush. I know, I know. Go read, then watch the clip at the bottom, and hear that song like you probably haven't heard it in years.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I was asked to participate in both major music critics' polls for 2006, because I'm in with the in crowd like that. I submitted the exact same ballot to both. Here 'tis:

Amon Amarth, With Oden On Our Side (Metal Blade)
Celtic Frost, Monotheist (Century Media)
Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)
Decapitated, Organic Hallucinosis (Earache)
Deicide, The Stench Of Redemption (Earache)
The Melvins, A Senile Animal (Earache)
Napalm Death, Smear Campaign (Century Media)
Razor X Productions, Killing Sound (XL)
Various Artists, Total 7 (Kompakt)
David S. Ware, BalladWare (Thirsty Ear)

This differs slightly from the Top 10 I sent to The Wire for their upcoming January 07 issue, which ran as follows:

Celtic Frost, Monotheist (Century Media)
Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)
Decapitated, Organic Hallucinosis (Earache)
Deicide, The Stench Of Redemption (Earache)
The Melvins, A Senile Animal (Earache)
Naçao Zumbi, Futura (Trama/Circular Moves)
Nachtmystium, Instinct: Decay (Battle Kommand/Southern Lord)
Razor X Productions, Killing Sound (XL)
Various Artists, Total 7 (Kompakt)
David S. Ware, BalladWare (Thirsty Ear)

Then there was the Global Rhythm Top 10, which was chosen half by me and half by my co-editor. Here's that run-down:

Ali Farka Touré, Savane (Nonesuch)
Thomas Mapfumo, Rise Up (Real World)
Cibelle, The Shine Of Dried Electric Leaves (Six Degrees)
Mariem Hassan, Deseos (Nubenegra)
Nuru Kane, Sigil (World Music Network)
Marisa Monte, Universo Ao Meu Redor/Infinito Particular (Metro Blue)
Rosa Passos, Rosa (Telarc)
Patrice LaRose/Julia Sarr, Set Luna (No Format/Sunnyside)
Gigi, Gold & Wax (Palm Pictures)
NOMO, New Tones (Ubiquity)

I will also be filing a ballot for Francis Davis's Voice jazz critics' poll, which will likely differ substantially from all the lists above (though it, too, will contain nods to Coleman and Ware). When I finish that one up, I'll post it here, too. (Too bad I can't vote for all the great shit I've downloaded from Church Number 9 and Nothing Is in the past few months. Julius Hemphill's Dogon A.D. is probably my real jazz album of the year.)


Borbetomagus, "Aimi Studio, 9/22/81"
Godflesh, "Spite"
John Coltrane, "Stellar Regions"
Agoraphobic Nosebleed, "Freeze Dried Cemetery"
Merle Haggard, "Teach Me To Forget"
Knut, "El Niño"
Alice In Chains, "Rain When I Die"
Rufus Harley, "Eight Miles High"

Monday, December 04, 2006


A lot of folks have been spending a somewhat unseemly amount of time shitting on the Voice since Christgau and Eddy were shown the door. But by now, I've written as much under Harvilla as I did under Chuck, and I feel just fine about that. Even if I believed New Times Corp was evil incarnate, which I don't, I'm not the kind of guy who's gonna turn down a paycheck out of moral urgency. I spent five years editing a porn mag, after all. And external politics have nothing to do with the quality of my work, for good or ill. Anyway, here's my latest piece in the paper everyone loves to run down these days: a review of the Robert Plant box from Rhino.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Technical death metal pioneers/gods Atheist played their first U.S. show in over a decade yesterday, at Baltimore's Auditory Assault Festival. I wasn't able to make the Amtrak journey down to see them, but I did interview the extremely friendly and utterly unpretentious bandleader Kelly Shaefer for this piece in the Baltimore City Paper. Shaefer mentioned the potential for other shows while on the phone with me, including a gig at BB King's in NYC sometime in early '07, but there's been no kind of announcement as yet, so all us obsessives will just have to wait and see.

Friday, December 01, 2006


While discussing the new rival-Pazz&Jop critics' poll Idolator is putting together (I expect to be invited to contribute to both the upstart and the OG poll, and probably will do both, in addition to contributing to Francis Davis's year-end jazz roundup), Simon Reynolds writes:

everybody, but everybody i know--including matos himself, usually a poptimistic sort--seems to be agreed that twas verily the shitest, dullest, nothing-a-gwan year they can remember

Pardon me while I call bullshit. I don't get this at all. I think there's been barge-loads of fantastic music this year. The trouble is, Reynolds and Matos and whoever else the two of them have been talking to haven't been checking for it because most of the best music in America right now is (shock, horror) METAL.

Just kicking through the Metal section of my iPod, I come up with the following great albums from 2006:

Arsis, United In Regret
Celtic Frost, Monotheist
Deftones, Saturday Night Wrist
Deicide, The Stench Of Redemption
DragonForce, Inhuman Rampage
Iron Maiden, A Matter Of Life And Death
Isis, In The Absence Of Truth
Lamb Of God, Sacrament
Mastodon, Blood Mountain
Motörhead, Kiss Of Death (there's no such thing as a bad Motörhead album)
Nachtmystium, Instinct: Decay
Napalm Death, Smear Campaign (there's no such thing as a bad Napalm Death album)
Slayer, Christ Illusion
Tool, 10,000 Days (remember when Reynolds was all about prog?)
Trivium, The Crusade (they're basically just doing early Metallica, but since Metallica stopped being Metallica about 15 years ago, somebody's got to pick up the slack)
Xasthur, Subliminal Genocide (Xasthur is pretty much metal's own Burial; if you want hauntology, check out his cryptic wailing)

In non-metal news, the new Pitbull album is great, the Calle 13 album (OK, November 2005, but everybody really discovered them this year) is amazing, and I've heard a couple of dozen brilliant discs from other parts of the world this year, too.

Folks gotta stop expecting US and UK mainstream pop to give them everything they need. That's pure laziness. "This pablum you're spoon-feeding me sucks! I demand you spoon-feed me a higher grade of pablum!"


Arch Enemy, "Marching On A Dead End Road": A just-under-two-minutes instrumental interlude. I always think, whenever my iPod starts me off with something like this, that it's got a plan for the rest of the sequence.

Darkthrone, "Sno Og Granskog (Utferd)": Maybe not, though. This is from one of Darkthrone's more ambitious albums; it's the final track, and it's a weird Laibach-ian chant-and-pound-the-big-drums thing, not a staticky-guitar-and-hoarse-screeching thing.

Eddie Henderson, "Omnipresence": A track from the extended Mwandishi family of albums (see Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi, Crossings and Sextant; Eddie Henderson's Inside Out and Realization; Bennie Maupin's The Jewel In The Lotus, which I just copped three tracks from the other day courtesy the fine folks at destination out; Buster Williams' Pinnacle; Julian Priester's Love, Love; and probably a bunch of others, too. Those three Herbie albums are the best things he's ever released under his own name. Fuck the Headhunters; Mwandishi was a progressive, staggeringly talented ensemble that did damn near as much to make fusion worthwhile as Miles himself.

The Cars, "Shake It Up": Not my favorite Cars song - that'd be "Candy-O" - but pretty solid.

Twilight, "Winter Before": Twilight is a black metal supergroup of sorts, a collaboration between five guys each of whom records as a solo act. The combination of approaches doesn't actually yield anything world-shaking, but they do come up with some surprises, like this cut; it almost sounds like the psychedelic doom of Esoteric, particularly when the hellhounds-roaring-in-the-fiery-pit vocals come in.

Scorpions, "Mysterious": A mid-90s experimental track from these boys. "Experimental" in this case means it's a cross between U2's "Mysterious Ways" and the Cult's "The Witch" (you know, that weird track from the Cool World soundtrack that was the best thing they'd done since Electric, so naturally it represented a direction they immediately abandoned).

Howlin' Wolf, "Tell Me": What can you say about the Wolf? Some of his phrasing and rhythms are so weird they make Captain Beefheart wholly unnecessary, that's what.

Ved Buens Ende, "You, That May Wither": Arty death metal, recently reissued to little or no fanfare. The vocalist sounds kinda like Mike Patton.

Miles Davis, "Side Car II": One more nugget of awesomeness from Miles' mid-60s acoustic quintet. Some days their stuff is too pretty for me, and I prefer the raw headlong mania (and frequent clams from the so-called leader [so-called because come on, Tony Williams was in charge of that band and we all know it]) of the live Plugged Nickel box, or some of the bootlegs I've got around the house. But this track, from Circle In The Round, is more than a footnote, and well worth checking out.

Son Of Bazerk Featuring No Self Control And The Band, "The Band Gets Swivey On The Wheels": This guy sounds so much like DMX that frankly the dog should send him a royalty check. I love love love this album, and couldn't believe my luck when it popped up on a hip-hop file-sharing blog a few weeks back.

The Jesus & Mary Chain, "In A Hole": The best thing about this song is the echo that comes in on the vocals toward the end, which hits like a steel garage door slamming shut, over and over and over. And the drumbeat and the guitar noise are so brutal at the beginning that when this first started playing, I thought it was early Godflesh.

Pitbull, "Que Tu Sabes D'Eso (Feat. Fat Joe & Sinful)": El Mariel is one of the top five hip-hop albums of the year, for real. The Clipse are fine, but Pitbull's tales of Miami are just as hard, and just as pithily phrased. Seriously, don't write this guy off as a bilingual party clown. This album is the shit.

Can, "Bel Air": A pleasing 20-minute interlude.

Slayer, "Temptation": A great riff emerges about 2/3 of the way through this. It's a very good song from a very good album (the weakest of a trilogy that, taken as a whole, pretty much smokes anything any other metal band's ever put out). The lyrics are dumb, but ignorable (not always the case with Slayer - they've come up with some fascinating lyrics in the past, and even on their new album).

Gang Of Four, "History's Bunk": I like the off-beat ranting vocal on this. He's not even attempting to make it into a "song," he's just yelling about all the anonymous ones who got it in the neck. That's as it should be. Real injustice outweighs melody. Napalm Death knew that on their first couple of albums, too.

Rammstein, "Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen": Rammstein are just great. My wife hipped me to them after getting seriously into their discography while studying German, and now that I've read translations of their lyrics, I have a lot more respect for them than I did after I interviewed them. A horrible experience, that; Till Lindemann (vocals) just sat there staring at me and smoking in Nasty Little Man's conference room like Peter Stormare's character in Fargo. Occasionally, he'd make some guttural joke at my expense. The guitarist was moderately personable, but I'm not even sure any of the others spoke English, because they didn't say a word the whole time. The piece never ran.

Deftones, "Street Carp": The new album is their version of Disintegration, and this comes from White Pony, which was their version of Amnesiac. Electronic soundscapes, crunching guitar riffs, and agonized wailing from a weepy fat Mexican. You can't fuck with that combination.


I don't know why these Chicago bands keep trying to be chamber jazz ensembles: Cheer-Accident at PTW.