Saturday, December 31, 2005

Here Comes Everybody!

Happy New Year!

Play it safe.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Favorites of 2005 - Music Music Music - A Year in Review

1. "Keep Breathing" - the Durutti Column (Fulfill/Artful)
2. "Confusing Outsides" - Martial Canterel (Genetic Records)
3. "Another Day on Earth" - Brian Eno (Opal)
4. "Dreams Made of Paper" - Arbol (lejos discos/emilii records)
5. "Snow Borne Sorrow" - Nine Horses (samadhi sound)
6. "Tales From Turnpike House" - St. Etienne (sanctuary)
7. "Les Retrouvailles" - Yann Tiersen (Labels)
8. "Small Explosions That are Yours to Keep" - Mitchell Akiyama (Sub Rosa)
9. "CHASM" - Ryuichi Sakamoto (KAB America) *
10. "Musique pour 3 femmes enceintes" - Marc LeClair (Mutek_rec)

Honourable Mention:
"From Fuji to Roma LIVE" - [Swedish] Death Polka (Chat Blanc)
"Kiss Me Again and Again" - Polmo Polpo (intr_version)
"All My Bad Thoughts" - The Montgolfier Brothers (Vespertine & Son)
"Symbol" - Susumu Yokota (Lo Recordings)
"Eco" - Skipsapiens (Mutek)
"Dropsonde" - Biosphere (Touch)
"The Dreamhouse" - Windy and Carl (Kranky)
"Cathederal Oceans III" - John Foxx (Fulfill)
"Music of the Future" - Desmond Leslie (Trunk)
"Idyllatry" - Peter Principle (LTM)
"Dead Letters to Lost Friends" - Desormais (intr_version)

"Stilllysm"- Various (Stilll)
"Kiss The Future" - Mark Stewart (Soul Jazz)

"Lyceum + Singles" - The Orchids (LTM)
"Striving for the Lazy Perfection" - The Orchids (LTM)
"Unholy Soul" - The Orchids (LTM)
"Like The Others" - Winston Tong (LTM)
"100 Years of Music: Live in Lisbon" - Steven Brown and Blaine L. Reninger (LTM)
"Subliminal 1979-1982" - Eric Random (LTM)

Note: The date for Ryuichi Sakamoto's Album "CHASM" is 2004. However, it is new to me so I have made an exception and included it on my list.
Recent Obituaries of note:
Guitarist Derek Bailey - John Fordham remembers him in hisGuardian UK Obituary.

Also, Salvador Dali's Secretary and exploiter.

Best Wishes to All! Have a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas everyone.

Keep an eye on this-- next week my top discs of 2005 will appear.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tonight on "Off the Cuff" - the Durutti Column : Keep Breathing

The latest effort from Vini Reilly & Co. has arrived! I will play it on my radio show tonight. I've heard that its a real return to form for the Durutti Column. Its in my hands now. Get ready to hear portions of it from 7-10pm EST on WZBC 90.3fm live webcasting
via can be found on WZBC's website.

Stay tuned.


(Artful / FullFill)
6 February 2006 [official release date]

1. Nina
2. Its Wonderful
3. Maggie
4. Helen
5. Neil
6. Big Hole
7. Let me tell you something
8. Lunch
9. Gun
10. Tuesday
11. Agnus Dei
12. Waiting

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Orchids - A Look Back.

For cracking good pop you can't do much better than the Orchids. The classic Sarah Records band has finally come back into the picture for Act II. James Neiss's Les Temps Moderne (LTM) label just reissued all of their old releases. It is so good to hear their songs on CD with all of their non-album tracks in one place. The Orchids started in Glasgow in the mid-eighties-- dire years for any kind of independent pop. They were heavily influenced by other Scottish favorites like Josef K, Orange Juice, the Go-Betweens, essentially the Postcard Records stable of bands, as well as early Primal Scream. One touchstone band for The Orchids was the Wake, which was on Factory Records and later Sarah Records as well.

Their mini-album LYCEUM, here re-issued with early singles as bonus tracks-- including the songs from Bob Stanley's Caff label, is eight pitch-perfect songs of pure indiepop bliss. From the brilliant opening of "It's Only Obvious" with James Hackett's strident vocals to the ecstatic joy of "Caveman" with its oblique political references, and the genius chorus of "The York Song", this disc will put you in a happy mood. The bonus tracks available include the pure pop of "I've got a habit"-- with the line "I'm drinking Iron-Bru and I'm thinking of you", the song "Apologies" with its "Sha-la-la yeah" chorus, as well as an anti-poll tax song, "Defy the Law". This disc is a solid purchase for jangly indiepop lovers of all kinds.

Up next is UNHOLY SOUL + SINGLES, it sees the band experimenting more with synthesizers and samplers on occasion, getting more into echoing the finer points of Sixties pop. A few of the tracks also have the soulful vocal talents of Pauline Hynds, this is the disc that has "Peaches"-- with Pauline singing "Get yourself high, feed your soul, set yourself free", one of the tracks that introduced me to the Orchids as it also appears on the Sarah 100 compilation "There and Back Again Lane". The Orchids are clearly moving towards a more psychedelic sound, as the influence of Madchester tends to leak in on UNHOLY SOUL. This is also evident on the wonderful paring of "The Sadness of Sex (Pt 1)" with its dirty guitar and whistled chorus and "Waiting for the Storm", the latter being a nearly 8 minute epic of programmed beats and samples-- it nearly feels like Coldcut's remix of Eric B and Rakim's "Paid in Full". This album oscillates between jangly Sixties pop and electro pop that at first blush may seem slightly incongruous but really works as a whole the more you listen to it.

Their final album was STRIVING FOR THE LAZY PERFECTION, released here with their Thaumaturgy single plus some demo tracks. Their experiments going forward and backward that came through in UNHOLY SOUL are further magnified in this release. It opens with the noisy guitar of "Obsession No. 1" and moves to the programmed bliss of "Striving for the Lazy Perfection", finally nearing an end with the haunting "I've got to wake up to tell you my dreams" then sliding into "the Perfect Reprise" with its recollection of the earlier track. Pauline Hynds also appears on this album to bring a feminine touch to a handful of songs. This disc has its jangly songs like "The Searching" and "Welcome to my Curious Heart" but it primarily leans toward electronic pop. The classic track "A Kind of Eden" is here, which was the Orchids' contribution to Elefant Records MONTECARLO compilation. My favorite track on this disc has to be the pretty electro-pop of "Avignon", which contains a sample that was also used on Acuarela Records' mainstays Emak Bakia's second album "Despues". The electro tracks on this disc also remind me of a pop-friendly Ultramarine.

Too many good songs are on each of these releases to do without one. LYCEUM provides a good introduction and will please any lover of good lo-fi pop, UNHOLY SOUL builds on the earlier template with more instrumentation and female vocals, STRIVING FOR THE LAZY PERFECTION further carries these experiments out to a heavenly conclusion. I've been told that the band has reformed and is currently working on new material. With a potential release in 2006, LTM's reissues provide the perfect refresher course for one of the most overlooked and consistently excellent indiepop bands out there.


66 minutes, features the 1989 mini album Lyceum plus their early singles.
Full tracklist: It's Only Obvious, A Place Called Home, Caveman, The York Song, Carrole-Anne, Hold On, Blue Light, If You Can't Find Love, + I've Got a Habit, Apologies, Give Me Some Peppermint Freedom, Defy the Law, Underneath the Window Underneath the Sink, Tiny Words, Walter, What Will We Do Next, As Time Goes By, Yawn, An Ill Wind that Blows, All Those Things.

70 minutes, Originally released in 1991.
Full tracklist: Me and the Black and White Dream, Women Priests and Addicts, Bringing You the Love, Frank De Salvo, Long Drawn Sunday Night, Peaches, Dirty Clothing, Moon Lullaby, Coloured Stone, The Sadness of Sex (Pt 1), Waiting for the Storm, You Know I'm Fine, + Bemused, Confused and Bedraggled, Pelican Blonde, Tropical Fishbowl, How Does That Feel, Sigh, Something for the Longing, Farewell Dear Bonnie, On a Sunday.

67 minutes (18 tracks) Originally released in 1994, The five bonus tracks are culled from the 1992 single Thaumaturgy plus demo tracks.
Full tracklist: Obsession No. 1, Striving for the Lazy Perfection,The Searching, Welcome to my Curious Heart, Avignon, A Living Ken and Barbie, Beautiful Liar, A Kind of Eden, Prayers to St Jude, Lovechild, Give a Little Honey, I've Got to Wake Up to Tell You My Dreams, The Perfect Reprise,+ Thaumaturgy, I Was Just Dreaming, Between Sleeping and Waking, It's Ours, The Letter.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ghosts of Christmas Past - Tonight

I'll be back on the air tonight playing new music and old favorites. I have several releases from the new Belgian label Stilll: Off the Sky - "it is impossible to say just what I mean", Arden - "conceal" (Arden is Jeuc Dietrich, Jurgen Heckel (aka Sogar), Christophe Bailleau, Jerome Deuson (aka Amute), Mitchell Akiyama and Sebastian Roux), and Stilllysm, the label compilation featuring works by the aformentioned artists as well as Peter Principle, Benjamin Lew, Ghislain Poirier, Aoki Takamasa, wixel and others. I have also finally acquired Ryuichi Sakamoto's album from 2004 "chasm", which has a lot of interesting tracks, along with a few new interpretations of "World Citizen". Last, but not least, selections from Les Disques du Crepuscle's "Ghosts of Christmas Past" compilation will be scattered throughout the set.

That's WZBC 90.3 fm from 7-10pm (1900 to 2200) EST.

Please listen.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Fairness Doctrine

The December 1, 2005 issue of the New York Review of Books has an excellent essay by Michael Massing on the current state of the American News media titled "The End of News". The paragraph below is the one that's been stuck in my mind for the past couple of weeks.

"An even more consequential, though much less visible, change took place in 1987, with the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine. Introduced in 1949, this rule required TV and radio stations to cover "controversial issues" of interest to their communities, and, when doing so, to provide "a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints." Intended to encourage stations to avoid partisan programming, the Fairness Doctrine had the practical effect of keeping political commentary off the air altogether. In 1986, a federal court ruled that the doctrine did not have the force of law, and the following year the FCC abolished it."

Michael Massing's full essay can be found online here. The abolition of the Fairness Doctrine contributed greatly to the current political climate in the United States of America.