March 1, 2010

March Madness!

Helloooo down there...! What on earth is going on down there...?!?!? From my vantage point up here on the satellite it appears your world is literally turning upside down. Up is down, black is white, Republicans and Democrats living together... it's ANARCHY! Fierce partisanship, corporate hegemony, blatant greed, blind ideological allegiance, Darwinian economics, and utter disdain for the very ecosystems that give it life is emanating from the human "race" (is this a contest?), the only earthly animal that thinks itself above all matters mundane. It's so big it's visible from space...! And it's an ugly aura folks. Too big for your britches is what the human race is... it's time for your mama (Mother Earth) to deliver a beat-down.
(UPDATE: I wrote this BEFORE the Chilean earthquake.)

And down the rabbit hole we go...

Ah well, might as well have a cathartic dose of the ol' psychedelicious space rock as a soundtrack for your armageddon, eh?

We begin with a double shot of downhome Oklahoma psychedelica, with the Flaming Lips' front man Wayne Coyne's nephew's new band Stardeath and White Dwarfs (sic). Rumor has it the two bands recently collaborated on a song-by-song cover of the Pink Floyd's bar-setting epic Dark Side of the Moon... well, it's not rumor - I streamed it a while back and it's phenomenal - but I can't seem to get my hands on a hard copy. Yet. You'll be the first to know when I do. Continuing the juggernaut pace is SF's Citay, returning with their triumphant third album of sunshiney spacepop, replete with homages to Queen and other classic rockers of the multi-tracked guitar persuasion (here supplied by the talented Tim Green of the Fucking Champs). Closely following is a band I just can't seem to get enough of, Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, also from SF, with yet another track from 2009's album of the year (I had the distinct pleasure catching them WITH Citay last fall at the glorious Frisco Freakout festival). Up next is a departure for the enigmatic Woods, a band mostly dedicated to folksy yet unhinged pastorals, who here meander on a lo-fi spacerock improv worthy of an Ash Ra Tempel jam.

The always-reliable Joan of Arc put out a gem last year, which I somehow overlooked, perhaps attributable to multiple reviews calling it a cynical collection of outtakes from their previous album Boo Human, and while it does include a modicum of throwaways and instrumental workouts, it's still chock full of the usual oblique lyricism, abstruse guitar figures and downright Kinsella-cious weird rock that Tim Kinsella and the ever-revolving Last Supper of cohorts that contribute to Joan of Arc recordings. This track is a rare-enough foray into folky/freaky/Faheyesque good-timey rags from a prolific and unique outfit. I keep stumbling across sporadic gems among the catalog of Piano Magic, a loose ensemble of British musicians in various combinations that come off like a post-millennial post-ROCK This Mortal Coil, and here's another one of those gems.

And that's where this set really plummets deep down the rabbit hole, with the uncategorizable Bear In Heaven, here from their first album, a track from the amazing new Clipd Beaks album, and a self-released recording from my personal buddy Professor Ben's project Guitar Vs. Gravity. Another of 2009's winners was Japandroids' bro-rawk opus Post-Nothing, so I dropped another standout from it here. Also blowing minds last year was the side project of Portishead's Geoff Barrow known mysteriously as Beak> (unclipped), sounding absolutely nothing like his main band and showing off his diverse influences. And we pretty much hit rock bottom of the WTF dimension with a limited-release CDR by experiMENTAL improv weirdos Scantily Clad.

Then... howzabout a long-awaited space-tronica section for you oft-neglected 'lectro lovers...? Joakim diverges from its more dancefloor-friendly postpunktronica with this noisy leadoff track from its new album. The Field, with its very live-sounding bass and percussion sequenced in with the warm electronics, owes as much to the klassic kraut of Kluster and Kraftwerk as it does to the postmodern techno of Underworld. Oldschool noisemongers Black Dice take us on a speaker-blowing journey through Beaches And Canyons, and Portland's White Rainbow lulls us into ecstatic bliss with his amniotic waves of sound.

Okay... the world seems a bit less chaotic now. Better keep my distance.

The following tracks should appear in the player below:

Spacerock Continuum Intro - bRambles - BeeDub's Spacerock Continuum
The Birth/Those Who Are From The Sun Return To The Sun - Stardeath And White Drawfs - The Birth
Careful With That Hat - Citay - Dream Get Together
Two Stage Rocket - Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound - When Sweet Sleep Returned
September With Pete - Woods - Songs Of Shame
Flowers - Joan Of Arc - Flowers
You Can Hear The Room - Piano Magic - Disaffected
Bag Of Bags - Bear In Heaven - Red Bloom Of The Boom
Blood - Clipd Beaks - To Realize
World Of White Walls - Guitar Vs. Gravity - City Of The Future
Heart Sweats - Japandroids - Post-Nothing
Blagson Lake - Beak - Beak>
Mint Volcano - Scantily Clad - Two
Back To Wilderness - Joakim - Milky Ways
Sequenced - The Field - Yesterday And Today
Things Will Never Be The Same - Black Dice - Beaches And Canyons
Tuesday Rollers And Strollers - White Rainbow - New Clouds