Friday, December 26, 2008


The Rachel's consists of a main trio: Rachel Grimes on piano, the late Rodan's Jason Noble on bass and organ, and Christian Frederickson playing violin. In addition, each of their album features various horn players, percussionists, and other musicians playing what eventually makes up a small orchestra. Orchestral is one of the best ways to describe this band. At the heart, there is absolutely a post-punk approach to the songwriting and cadence, although the intricate composure of the songs, chord and time changes as well as the sheer diversity in the instrumentation makes the album more like a orchestra rather than a punk band. Selenography is one of their best albums, but I will post the first album I heard of theirs.

The Sea & The Bells (1996)
I first listened to the Rachel's, particularly this album, one day as I was falling asleep, trying to take a nap after school. The melodies were enchanting. I suspect this may have been a concept album, the songs too powerfully create an atmosphere of an open ocean to go unnoticed. You feel the ebb and flow of the currents, the high and low tides, and the crushing of the surf. As I was drifting off to sleep, I suddenly awoke truly frightened by the ghostly and haunting melodies of some of the later songs. It isn't often that an album has the power not only to create such positive but also harrowing emotions in the listener. Truly a great album. Check out their other albums, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Face to Face

I listened to these albums last month for the first time in probably 12 years. It was great. I remembered all the words and it brought back some great memories of playing in my first bands. One of my earliest bands when I was in 9th grade covered Disconnected for a little while. So fun! I actually saw them in a small bar in Philly in 1995. They were recording a live album that night and I think you can hear my friend Ed yell about the place smelling like feet on the album...

Don't Turn Away (1992)
This is the first Face to Face album I heard. It has the quintessential photo of the guy with his head resting on crossed arms (see also Minor Threat, Neurosis, etc). This is by far their rawest album, and many say their best. Originally released on Dr. Strange records, and re-released on Fat Wreck Chords.

Big Choice (1995)
This is a poppier album with less of an edge. This is more melodic, and the songs tend to get stuck in my head more so than Don't Turn Away. Really fun album, if I ever start lifting weights this will be the album I listen to during working out... How I remember all the lyrics to these songs while not listening for 12 years is crazy. I wish I remembered other things half as well...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Francisco López

My good friend (Mikey C) turned me on to Francisco Lopez years ago when we both went to the University of Pittsburgh. We both had radio shows on WPTS and I believe that is where he first heard of Lopez. Francisco Lopez is an avante-garde minimalist composer who uses many field recording in his works. I have three albums of his. Some may find these unlistenable, others mellowing and soothing, others confused. Many of his records come with no artwork and he often performs in total darkness with blindfolds passed out to the audience. These three albums were released on Alien 8 recordings.

Untitled #123
This was the first album that I heard from Lopez. The instrument in this album was a grain silo in Montreal that was microphoned in various ways. Over the course of one year, many artists utilized this grain silo for various projects. This album (like many of Lopez' works) utilizes silence, sub-frequencies inaudible to human ears, and sound textures to create a canvas opening itself to the listener. I once listened to this album alone in my apartment while studying. The opening few minutes are mostly silent, so I soon forgot that I was listening to an album. I suddenly was hearing a hissing noise that was becoming slowly louder. I started freaking out because I couldn't figure out what it was. I honestly thought that my stove had developed a gas leak and pulled it out to look behind the oven for a broken gas line. I was trying to smell where the gas may be leaking from. After several very nervous minutes, I remembered that I was playing a cd and soon discovered that the gas leak was just the silophone. Amazing.

Addy en el pais de las frutas y los chunches
"Addy in the land of fruit and thingymmujiggs"
This is a collection of field recordings made in Costa Rica during the rainy season of 1995. Lopez layers these landscape recordings together to create a soundscape where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This has been reported to be Lopez' favorite work he has done.

Untitled #104
This album is very different from the above, and probably the most unlistenable. Instead of using field recordings and sound textures, this album consists of layers of Metal- and when I say metal I mean death, black, doom, and dare I say new wave of british. I am not sure if he took samples of albums, created the sounds himself, or simply mic'd 3 or 4 bands playing at the same time. Harsh, but still creates swells and troughs with these tones...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Savage Republic

Tragic Figures (1982)
This is the first LP of the LA based no-wave/ industrial/ punk band fronted by Bruce Licher. They had numerous lineup changes and their shows often utilized handmade percussion instruments (pieces of metal, garbage cans, etc). They play droney melodies supported by tribal like repetitive percussive rhythms. Bruce Licher released the Independent Project label. Most of the albums he released were hand letterpressed and numbered. The artwork for his records is always great.

Ceremonial + Trudge (1985)
This album is the follow up LP to Tragic Figures. The songs on this album continue the general feel and many people believe it to be a stronger, more accessible album. I picked up all of the Savage Republic albums at a single store in San Francisco- great find! These guys were said to have influenced Godspeed You! Black Emperor- not the easies connection, but it comes out at times.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Double Cassette: Above Sea Level/Below Sea Level
Growing was a two piece instrumental minimalist band that released some pretty great albums. I believe they added a member or two and possibly vocals (?) to their later works, but I haven't heard them. This is a limited edition double cassette released by growing back in 2005ish. These cassettes were recorded with the intentions of both being played simultaneously. The liner notes state that synchronizing the cassettes is impossible. Because I do not own two cassette decks on two different stereos that happen to be within the same proximity of each other, I decided to rip each cassette and combine them. The left stereo speaker is Above Sea Level and the right speaker is Below Sea Level. [combined=above/below sea level]. Less atmospheric and captivating than their other albums, but still really good. I am sure this is better when listening on two different stereos, but this will work...

Christie Front Drive

I think I first bought 'Stereo' when I was in 10th or 11th grade. Such an amazing record (minus the filler tracks). Last year I wanted to start a band that sounded like CFD crossed with Tiny Hawks. I still think that would have been incredible. The melodies in this record are great. I think this album is great for autumn weather driving.