Wednesday, December 16, 2009

V/A – Tumbélé! Biguine, afro & latin sounds from the French Caribbean, 1963-74

I just wanted to point out the existence of this amazing new compilation of 1960s-70s tunes from Martinique and Guadeloupe. I’ve been listening to it non-stop for days now and it’s been doing a pretty good job of warding away the winter gloom. I don’t want to upload the whole thing since it’s fairly new, but here are a few songs to check out. Mediafire/megaupload are fairly easy to find. Or you can choose to be a good person and buy it here.

Manzè Mona – Raphaël Zachille
D’Leau Coco – Les Leopards
Dima Bolane – Le Ry-co Jazz

Matingueiros – Pluri (2008)

A music and dance troupe from northeastern Brazil. My Portuguese is a little rusty and I had a hard time finding info online, but I really like their tunes. Check out their website for pictures.

Sadhu Sadhu – Live at the Hideout (2009)

Sadhu Sadhu are a noisy psych-rock three-piece from Chicago. This is a live recording that they released as a cassette/CD-R a while ago.
I guess monolithic is the key word when describing their sound. They’ll find a big groove and stick to it with few permutations throughout an entire song. The dramatic guitar riffs, hypnotic basslines and lurching rhythms remind me of a lot of 70s and 80s music that I like. Like a lot of sweet bands from that era, their music is bleak and somewhat devoid of colour, while at the same time hypnotic and exhilarating.
Their Myspace page says that they’re in the studio working on an album. This excites me. While I did enjoy listening to this, it’s a fairly messy recording, hard to hear a lot of what’s going on. I’d really like to hear what these guys can pull off with some actual production.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Boban Markovic Orkestar – Live in Belgrade (2002)

Gypsy brass band music is characterized by rapturous arrangements stuffed with beautiful, yet rocking, melodies against an often-pounding low-end harmonic backdrop, which, in spite of all the dizzying intensity, remains as Frank London describes it, “the unmistakable essence of funk.” (

Friday, October 16, 2009

Joe Meek

Joe Meek may well be the most important pop music producer there ever was. That’s not to say that he’s particularly popular or influential. Or that he ever recorded any kind of classic album. Admitedy, most of his recordings heard today sound somewhat cheesy and dated. But his legacy lies not so much in the quality of the music he produced, but in the way he revolutionized production itself.

In the late 50s and early 60s, when producers were almost always employees of the big labels, Meek was probably the first one to truly go independent. Back then recording was more about science than art, and these record company studios were inhabited by men wearing white coats who followed strict guidelines in attempting to replicate real life sounds as accurately as they could. Meek, however, was determined to explore new ideas and experiment with audio recording equipment. He chose to bypass working for the companies, and set up his own little independent studio above a hand-bag store in London. There, he set to work building all sorts of crazy contraptions, pioneering effects such as reverb, echo and compression. These tools, together with his unorthodox recording techniques (sampling found sounds, tape splicing, multitracking…) became his trademarks, and he was thus probably the first record producer to develop a signature sound.

All of this is on display in I Hear A New World, a 1960 album that he billed as an “Outer Space Music Fantasy”. Inspired by the then-nascent space programme, it’s a mostly instrumental record that tries to imagine what music would be like on the Moon (I guess folks back then still thought there might be Moon-people). Half a decade before George Martin began experimenting with tape loops on Beatles records, Meek’s vision was already fully realized, and the sounds and studio effects heard on I Hear A New World heralded the psychedelic era.

By the early 60s he had become an in-demand producer, and several of his tunes went to the top of the UK sales charts. The spacy Tornados instumental “Telstar” is particularly noted for being the first British record to hit #1 in the States. But by the mid 60s, despite big name producers like Phil Spector and George Martin praising him and admitting to his influence on their own work, he was clearly falling behind on what was hip. His records (which were still basically light pop music and often instrumental) lacked the depth of Dylan or Beatles albums, and the hits stopped rolling in. He sank into severe dept, which together with his personal problems (drug use, depression, extreme paranoia, being flamboyantly gay in a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain) led him to end his life in a distrubing murder-suicide.

I’ve included I Hear A New World and a couple of my favourite compilations. The first one has most of his big hits, and I suppose is a good place to start. The other one compiles a bunch of tunes he recorded with female artists and girl groups. Not as far-out with the production, but some really nice catchy songs.

Also, if you’re interested, you can watch the recent biopic Telstar for free over here. It’s pretty neat. Kind of intense; mostly deals with his being a crazy jackass and brutalizing everyone around him. Good acting though.

I Hear a New World (1960)

It's Hard to Believe: The Amazing World of Joe Meek (1995)

Let's Go! Joe Meek's Girls (1996)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Holden – The Idiots Are Winning (2006)

"Here, aesthetically at least, Loveless and “Windowlicker” collide at exquisite velocity... His buccaneering, semi-slapdash approach gives these tracks stacks of personality, and he excels at interpreting current ideas in new and fascinating ways. On masterful opener “Lump” and its sisters “10101” and “Idiot”, he seduces with vogueish minimal sounds before unfolding wave upon curdled wave of woozy euphoric grunge." (Piers Martin, Uncut)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mix #3

Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm a DJ.

Eurythmics – Love is a Stranger
Gold Panda – Quitters Ragga
Virgin Prunes – Yeo
Jackson 5 – Pride and Joy
Daniel Rossen – Waterfall
Boris – Tokyo Wonderland
Fripp & Eno – Evening Star
Atlas Sound (with Noah Lennox) – Walkabout
Church Triumphant of Jah Rastafari And Haile Selassie I Theocracy – Fire Burn
Davy Graham – She Moved Through the Fair
Jean Yves Tourbin – Tiens, voila la Lune
Chihei Hatakeyama – Starlight Reflecting on the Surface of the River
Sly Dunbar – Herb
The Louvin Brothers – My Brother’s Will
Tim Hecker – Harmony in Blue I & II

Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Mysteries

Monday, August 17, 2009

African Head Charge – Songs of Praise (1991)

I’m a pretty big fan of just about everything I've heard off of Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound record label, and this is probably my favourite so far. African Head Charge usually gets classified as a dub or reggae band, but there's a lot more to them than that. Bandleader Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah was supposedly inspired by the cultural cut-and-paste of Brian Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts album, and by his vision of a psychedelic Africa. On this record he tried to reconcile the traditional with the modern; setting African, Jamaican and occasionally Western Asian religious chanting to multilayered and heavily effected rhythms that are informed by dub music.

Jorge Ben – África Brasil (1976)

Summer’s winding down, but it looks like we’ve still got plenty of hot smoggy days ahead of us (at least in my neck of the woods). So here’s an appropriate soundtrack, a steaming heap of Brazilian funk courtesy of Jorge Ben.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sibylle Baier – Colour Green (2006)

German songstress records a stunning collection of intimate acoustic ruminations in the early 70s and keeps them locked away in her closet for some 35 odd years, until they are compiled by her son and handed over to J. Mascis, who in turn passes them on to the people at Orange Twin Records.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

V/A-Take the Subway to Your Suburb (1993)

I have really been digging this compilation the past few days. To be honest I hadn't heard of the Subway Organization until a few weeks ago although I have been listening to a lot of their artists contemporaries for years like Primal Scream, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Felt. I guess the first time I heard anything from the Subway Organization was the Shop Assistants compilation "Will Anything Happen", even though they don't appear on this I would recommend checking them out. If you are into any of the bands earlier output I mentioned above than you will probably be kicking yourself as hard as I was for not finding out about the Subway Organization sooner. Apparently the label was active between the years of 1986 to 1989 releasing a bunch of great and underrated singles and full lengths by bands like the Shop Assistants, the Flatmates, the Rosehips and the Chesterfields. There is not a ton of information available about these bands or the label in general but anyone who takes the time to check them out will recognize a commitment to timeless pop songwriting as well as the incorporation of some of the best parts of modern Rock and Roll. From what I have read the Subway Organization kind of reminds me of Flying Nuns formative years, not just in sound but in the way it was run. If a certain track on this compilation stands out I would recommend keeping your eyes peeled because a lot of them are still in print on CD. Like a lot of my favorite musical phenomenon, it sounds like the Subway Organization was doomed from the get go to only exist a short time but from the looks of the amount of quality records they released they used their time wisely.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Broadcast - Tender Buttons (2005)

This record recently found its way back to my turntable after a few year long absence. I remember being really excited when "Tender Buttons" was released, luckily I was living around the block from an amazing record store so I could grab a copy on my way home from class. Although this is probably not their most popular record it is my favorite by far. Supposedly they are working on their fourth record right now but I haven't really heard anything about it. The music on this record is mostly electronic but it has a really heavy sixties pop influence. In this case the cold electronics and warm pop influences create a surprisingly organic sound. If you like this record I recommend looking into whatever else you can get your hands on by them. All of their records are great from start to finish and they have tons of EPs and singles out there which are all good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

People Take Warning: Muder Ballads & Disaster Songs, 1913-1938

I'm going to be in Europe for the next few weeks, so there won't be much posting going on here. But here's a parting gift, a wonderful collection of early 20th century songs of misery and paranoia.

Hope everyone has a good month of July.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Just a quick little post here. More stuff to come soon.

I’ve been listening to a lot of old blues/roots music lately and figured I’d share some. So here are Barbecue Bob and Clifton Chenier.

Barbecue Bob – Chocolate To The Bone (1992)

Clifton Chenier – Louisiana Blues And Zydeco (1965)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Richard Manuel – Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway 1985

"Richard Manuel was a whole show unto himself. He was hot. He was about the best singer I'd ever heard; most people said he reminded them of Ray Charles. He'd do those ballads, and the ladies would swoon. To me that became the highlight of our show."--Levon Helm

"He brought a lot of powers and strengths to the group. He brought in gospel music from his church upbringing. Plus, he loved to play and just come up with new things. It was like having a force of nature in the band."--Rick Danko

"Richard not only had the voice, he had this great rhythmic feel..."--Garth Hudson

While Robbie Robertson was their public face and Levon Helm sang all their big hits, there is no doubt that Richard Manuel was the Band’s heart and soul. His tale, though not atypical the annals of rock music, is a sad one: An enormously talented singer and musician, worshiped by fans and peers alike while somehow managing to remain genuinely modest and unassuming, he was nevertheless driven to despair by decades of drink and drug abuse, finally hanging himself in a cheap motel room following a gig early in 1986.

This album, the only one to be released under his name so far, captures an intimate live performance in the town of Saugerties, New York, five months before his death. His voice by now is hoarse and crackly, and the electric piano he plays has an annoyingly sharp sound, but he still manages to put in some absolutely stirring performances. The set includes songs he played with the Band and a bunch of R&B standards (including a few of his idol Ray Charles’ songs). Rick Danko guests on a couple of tracks, providing charmingly sloppy harmonies on “I Shall Be Released” and "Tears of Rage".

Then there’s a touching moment when someone in the audience calls for “Whispering Pines”, his haunting falsetto showcase off of the Band’s self-titled record, to which he chuckles and replies “I don’t know if I can hit that one”. He accepts the request after a bit of goading, but only after asking the audience to hum along if he screws up. The song is probably the highlight of this disk: a bit hoarse, a little off at times, but overflowing with emotion (that last line pretty much sums up the entire set).

While maybe not a great album in itself, this is an essential document, not only of the man’s substantial raw talent but also of his genuine kindness and modesty. If you didn’t know any better, the goofy, self-effacing banter between songs would make you think he were just playing a batch of tunes for a bunch of friends.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

V/A - I Learned It All the Hard Way (2007)

I just wanted to give you a quick introduction before I start posting here.  My name is Matt and as I have read ZZYRUS in the past I have came across many records here that I never heard of but quickly became favorites as well as a good amount of records that I already own and love.  Hopefully you will find that my posts compliment the quality sounds already discussed here.  

This is probably my favorite tape that I have come across in the whole Mississippi Records tape series.  I have heard there are around twenty eight volumes out there.  This particular tape is titled "I Learned It All the Hard Way" and its a collection of early soul music.   If you are familiar with Mississippi records you know that everything they put out is amazing due to their dedication to rescuing of out of print and hard to find obscurities and hand assembled artwork.  I think the first time I heard of Mississippi Records was in an article where Jason Pierce of Spiritualized/Spacemen 3 was profiling several of their records that he considered his favorites out of their catalogue.  I even remember that the author of the article included a little scene from hanging out with Mr. Spaceman during their interview in which Pierce was playing the records and holding their sleeves in the air proclaiming his love for them.  Another thing that I especially like about the tape series is that all of the tracks are hand picked which to me seems like kind of a stark contrast to what Mississippi records has done in the past.  Usually I find their releases so interesting because they stay devoted to giving a true representation of the original record.  It almost feels like they give you a second chance to buy records in their original form that you might have missed. I know that in the past they have released compilations containing songs that might not have appeared on the same record like The Clean anthology and The True Story of Abner Jay but I feel like the tapes in this series give us a more intimate glimpse of the record collections and collectors behind Mississippi Records.  Some of the songs on this record might be familiar and some you have never heard before making it really fun to listen to anytime.  

New Contributor

Welcome Matt.

Be sure to check out his site, Pacific Radio Fire. Lots of cool stuff to be found there.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Can – Future Days (1973)

Probably Can’s mellowest album; a surprising direction after the Stockhausen-inspired garage rock of Tago Mago and chaotic future-funk of Ege Bamyasi. The album is made up of four long, hypnotic tracks that are founded on repetition, slowly expanding and contracting in a way similar to ambient music. The ambient music comparison is deceiving though, because while the songs here are easy to zone out to, they're really dense and packed with ideas.

It’s also the last Can record to feature vocalist Damo Suzuki. He doesn't figure as prominently here as on previous albums, but does put in some really strong performances. And while his vocals on earlier albums consist mostly of rambling and bellowing like a rabid homeless person, here he matches the laid-back music with some really pretty and understated singing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In Heaven and You – Vena Cava Parts I & II (2008)

Here’s a reader submission that I’ve been enjoying quite a bit. In Heaven and You are a group from Washington D.C. that play brooding, nocturnal folkish tunes. Emotive vocals and nimble, accomplished fingerpicked guitar that occasionally erupts into cascading flamenco-like passages. Check it out.

Hideo Shiraki Quintet + 3 Koto Girls – Sakura Sakura (1965)

Here’s a really cool little Japanese jazz record that I found on Soulseek a while ago. The band is led by drummer Hideo Shiraki and features three girls playing the koto, which makes for an interesting combination of sounds. The kotos tend weave in and out of the mix, figuring prominently on only a couple of tracks (notably “Sakura Sakura”).
Most of these tracks are done in a sort of airy hard bop style, though there are also some definite modal Miles Davis-ish influences (parts of the last track “Suwa” sounds eerily similar to “So What” off of Kind of Blue).
Anyway, it’s a pretty good album. Great drums, really spirited trumpet playing, and an interesting melding of musical traditions. Recommended.