Author Archive for

25
May
17

jamaican me cray – a love letter to jamaican popular music

Jamaican Me Cray

side a

scientist – voodoo curse • king stitt – fire corner • augustus pablo – jah light • the pioneers – long shot kick de bucket • silvertones – smile • congos – congoman • prince far i – shake up the nation • ethiopians – engine 54 • augustus pablo – too late • upsetters – sipple dub • reggae boys – mamma look deh • dave & ansel collins – double barrel • roy shirley – hold dem • carlos malcolm & his afro- jamaican rhythms – bonanza ska • rulers – wrong emboyo • scientist – the mummy’s shroud • stranger cole & patsy dodd – yeah yeah baby

side b

desmond dekker & the aces — israelites • jamaicans — things you say you love • althea & donna — uptown top ranking • sister nancy — bam, bam • andy capp — pop a top • the maytals — pressure drop • congos — ark of covenant • augustus pablo — unfinished melody • prince far i — homeward bound • john holt — ali baba • victors — reggae buddy • stranger cole — rough and tough • jackie mittoo — drum song mikey dread/clash – version pardner • lee perry – (i am) the upsetter • valentines – gun fever (blam blam fever) • charmers – rasta never fails djkevinlee.wordpress.com

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25
Jul
13

The Devil is a Baldhead (a dub mixtape)

Baldhead Lee

Tracklist

 

Summer’s not over yet! Here’s a summery all-dub mix for ya. The digital version of my latest mixtape. Apple lossless format (full cd quality) as usual. All from vinyl.

**Click here to get this file for free from the iTunes podcast** or use the below link for a direct download.

Audio file of The Devil Is A Baldhead (a dub mixtape)
(To download above: mac users, control click and save; pc users, right click and save.  Some browsers will open it with a single click)

19
Dec
12

My Top 10 of 2012 (with reviews of the top 3)

maus

1. John Maus – A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material

This is a compilation of tracks John Maus apparently didn’t originally think albumworthy. That “A Collection” is so enjoyable is a tribute to the strength of his output. On its face, the material draws heavily from bygone eras.  It sounds stylistically derivative of classical, new-wave, and (intentionally or not) 80’s pop. And the recording techniques are not cutting edge, even for the times in which they were originally employed (the collection goes back to ’99).

Strange then, that listening to “A Collection” should be like looking at an arrow pointing toward the future. Not a fanciful retro-future. Our future. On opening track “North Star”, the title is the thing at which we are directed to “look up”. It’s a fitting start for a collection that – even in its disparateness – seems so singularly intent on guiding us somewhere.

With these sometimes barely fleshed out songs, it can feel as if we are being goaded into doing something important with our little lives. Lives filled with stories of people we knew “just for one night” but by whom we were changed (as Maus recounts on the beautifully crooned bridge of “Bennington”), lives in which we are sometimes utterly frustrated and adrift (as embodied by the hauntingly discordant “Lost”), or lives in which we while the time away with silliness (as Maus seems to do on the christmassy “This is the Beat”).

This is music of the people. It seems well within the means of the average person to obtain the gear necessary to make recordings in a similar style. There are even moments on “A Collection” when you may not be sure whether you’re hearing a high-end synth or a thrift store Casio ringing out through the layers of reverb, delay, and tape artifacts. Maybe the future Maus’s music foresees is one in which such distinctions aren’t all that important. Anyway, the message of his chosen medium seems clear enough: don’t be a casualty of “planned obsolescence”.

 

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2. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

Neil Young has spent his career with Crazy Horse perfecting the art of getting the right performance on tape and then not fucking with it too much afterward. Whenever he strayed from that formula, as on some of the Crazy Horse albums of the 80’s, the results – with few exceptions – had less impact than the material from, say, ’69-’79.

More than any of the post-70’s Neil Young and Crazy Horse albums, Psychedelic Pill feels like an affirmation of a process that just works. And while the lesser moments in the Young discography are sometimes recalled here (“Ramada Inn”, “For the Love of Man”), mostly what we get are lovely reminders of a certain magic that seems only reproducible by this particular combination of frontman and band.

Opening track “Driftin’ Back” so well conjures the hypnotic spirit of the long jams on “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere” that eventually we are convinced 27-plus minutes is a totally reasonable running time. About 20 minutes in, Neil takes a moment to vent his frustration with the mp3 format: “When you hear my song now, You only get five percent, You used to get it all”. The over 16 minute closer “Walk Like a Giant” may be the closest Neil Young and Crazy Horse have ever come to capturing their live essence on an album without actually using concert recordings.

Country-rock tunes “Born in Ontario” and the charmingly hokey “Twisted Road” would feel easily at home on “American Stars ‘N Bars”. Even down to the effects, the resemblance to that album is uncanny. The title track, with its unusual use of flange on the entire mix (think “Cinnamon Girl” meets “The Loner” meets jet engine), works as a brief interlude between jams. And in case you don’t like the flange effect, the album includes an alternate mix without it.

None of the similarities between this and earlier releases undermine Psychedelic Pill as a distinct work. It feels of the moment. On “Walk like a Giant”, when Neil sings, “Now I feel like a leaf floating in a stream”, it’s clear he hasn’t quite made peace with his new place in the world. You get the sense he values being honest above all else, and he’s extending a little trust that you won’t assume an aging rocker is an irrelevant rocker.

 

SYMMETRY

3. Symmetry – Themes for an Imaginary Film

Italians Do It Better label cofounder Johnny Jewel and Chromatics drummer Nat Walker are Symmetry. The 37 tracks of “Themes for an Imaginary Film” were rumored to have been intended as the score/soundtrack to the movie Drive, but a post on the label’s site says otherwise.

The fact that this is a score for an imaginary movie may be a good thing. The work becomes like a blank canvass onto which you can paint a world you’d like to escape to. That there is at least some kind of narrative to “Themes” is interesting in and of itself, regardless of how immediately clear that narrative is.

As the artwork would suggest, there is plenty of 80’s going on here. From the meticulously honed synth patches, to the musical motifs and arrangements so common to that period’s television and movies, to the beats that sometimes seem to pay homage to old-school hip hop (or perhaps to the krautrock that had influenced it).

There is a kind of brilliant minimalism to “Themes”. Sometimes we get little more than a melody, maybe with an added drone. The sounds are punctuated liberally with refreshing doses of silence. The lack of lyrics (save for the guest spot from Chromatics vocalist Ruth Radelet on the last track) makes it well suited as an accompaniment to reading or writing. Or driving.

 

4. Mississippi Records – Hasabe (Ethiopian R&B compilation)
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5. Grass Widow – Internal Logic





6. Mount Eerie – Clear Moon
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7. Gary War – Jared’s Lot
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8. Peaking Lights – Lucifer in Dub
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9. Fabulous Diamonds – Commercial Music
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10. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes

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27
Aug
12

’78-’83 Mixtape

mixtape tracklist

There is something about the way recordings from this time period sound that I really like. It’s like the studio equipment had just reached a perfect balance between warmth and clarity. A lot of the productions were pretty slick, and I thought these tracks had some great pop sensibilities.

 

**Click here to get this file for free from the iTunes podcast** or use the below link for a direct download.

Audio file of ’78-’83 Mixtape
(To download above: mac users, control click and save; pc users, right click and save.  Some browsers will open it with a single click)

Transferred from vinyl using a Technics belt-drive turntable with a Grado Red series audiophile cartridge, harmon/kardon phono preamp, into a Tascam DR-05 digital recorder at 24-bit/44.1 KHz. Mastered in Pro Tools using Maxim with dither on, and exported to a 16-bit apple lossless file.

25
Jul
12

record room, pdx 02/13/2012

Playlist:

The Nite-Liters – Excuse me while I do my thing, Curtis Mayfield – Little Child Running Wild, Scientist – Rocking Time Warp Dub, John Maus – Matter of Fact, Battles – Africastle, The Cure – A Forest, Ariel Pink – Menopause Man, Real Estate – Green Aisles, Wild Nothing – Drifter, Beach Fossils – Out in the way, Amanar – Ishilan N-Tenere, Yeli Fuzzo – Abandé, Ratatat – Shempi (E-Rock Remix), Kraftwerk – It’s more fun to compute, Animal Collective – Brother Sport, Truckasauras – A tree grows in Brooklyn? Never heard of it, Wire – On Returning, Gang of Four – Ether, Tyvek – Honda, Iceage – Collapse, The Slits – Instant hit, Jeremy Jay – Escape to Aspen, Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love, Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground, Scientist – East of Scientist Corner (II Pieces), The Nite-Liters – Valdez in the country, James Brown – Night Train, Surfaris – Latin Soul, João Donato – Sambongo, Astrud Gilberto – Agua de Beber, Antonio Carlos Jobim – One note samba, Bola Sete – A Noite Do Meu Bem (Night of my Love), Kurt Vile – Breathin Out, Ariel Pink – Cable Access Follies, John Maus – Crucifix, Velvet Underground – Train round the bend, Beat Happening – Revolution come and gone, Pavement – Conduit for sale!

 

**Click here to get the file for free from the iTunes podcast** or use the below link for a direct download.

Audio from Record Room set, PDX 02/13/2012
(To download above: mac users, control click and save; pc users, right click and save.  Some browsers will open it with a single click)

Flyer by DJ Kevin Lee

09
Dec
11

My Top 10 of 2011

With links to buy the vinyl:

1. John Maus – We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves
2. Beach Fossils – What a Pleasure EP
3. Battles – Gloss Drop
4. Com Truise – Galactic Melt
5. Peaking Lights – 936
6. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
7. Iceage – New Brigade
8. Real Estate – Days
9. Eric Copeland – Waco Taco Combo
10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – S/T

18
Sep
11

record room, pdx 08/30/2011

Playlist:

Curtis Mayfield – Move on up (outro), Bill Withers – Who is he (and what is he to you)?, A Tribe Called Quest – Baby Phife’s Return, King Tubby – Easy Dread & Check this dub, James Brown – The Big Payback, Run DMC – You’re Blind, The Sea & Cake – Hotel Tell, Sonic Youth – Pink Steam, Tame Impala – Runaway; Houses; City; Clouds, Ariel Pink – Gettin’ High in the Morning, John Maus – Streetlight, Animal Collective – Taste, Battles – Inchworm, Blank Dogs – Passing the Light, Bahaus – Dark Entries, Ratatat – Kennedy, Stone Roses – I wanna be adored, Wild Nothing – Chinatown, Beach Fossils – What a Pleasure, Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever, Bola Sete – Samba de Orpheus, Herbie Hancock – Sly, Dinosaur Jr – Start Choppin’, Pavement – Kennel District, Neil Young – When you dance you can really love (live), Velvet Underground – I can’t stand it, Blonde Redhead – Elephant Woman, Battles – Atlas, Interpol – Obstacle 2, Jeremy Jay – Lite Beam, Stevie Wonder – Superstition, Steely Dan – Peg, Wilco – Heavy Metal Drummer, Stephen Malkmus – Tigers, Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express/Metal on Metal

 

**Click here to get the file for free from the iTunes podcast** or use the below link for a direct download.

Audio from Record Room set, PDX 08/30/2011
(To download above: mac users, control click and save; pc users, right click and save.  Some browsers will open it with a single click)

Flyer by Benny P