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by Stefan Nickum

16 Mar 2011


This week I return to bring you a strong trio of electronic gems, as usual in the categories of an official release (album or EP), a DJ mix from the week, and an unofficial, free, or bootleg track, hopefully available to download. There is clear overlap between these three selections, something I make no apologies for—I like what I like, but the influences coming in on these artists music are notably varied, and connecting those dots will, I hope, be the fun part. 

FaltyDL - You Stand Uncertain (Planet Mu)

Brooklyn a la London producer Drew Lustman a.k.a. FaltyDL put out his second LP for the Planet Mu imprint this week, the follow-up to his 2009 debut Love Is a Liability. What was clear from that record—and a series of EPs he put out leading up to that release—was that 2-step and UK garage were the focal point of Lustman’s rhythmic palette. But despite the obvious nod to these sounds in his productions, they always seemed to be informed greatly by avant-garde jazz drums and hip-hop, two great reasons to choose New York as your jumping off point, and even greater reasons to flesh out a UK breakbeat already greatly indebted to hip-hop and its roots.

by Zachary Williams

15 Mar 2011


Bud Powell was one of, if not the, greatest jazz pianists we’ve ever known. Most likely, you’ve never heard of him. The man they called ”the Charlie Parker of the piano” had his career damaged by many unfortunate events. The most disheartening were at the hands of the police. At age 20, a drunken Powell was brutally beaten by cops going far beyond the acceptable call of duty. Following the incident, Powell was institutionalized for several months.

Later in life, a marijuana bust was perhaps the last straw. According to his NPR’s Jazz Profiles: “In 1951, Powell was arrested with Thelonious Monk for drug possession. Charges against Bud were dropped, but he was sent to a psychiatric hospital for a year and a half. Finally, it all caught up to Powell and his life took a turn from which he would never fully recover”.

by George de Stefano

14 Mar 2011


“Shake for Me” is a rocking blues that packed dance floors—on Chicago’s South Side and elsewhere—when Chess released it as a single in 1961. “The Red Rooster”, with its slower tempo and down home lyrics, takes the listener back to the origins of Howlin’ Wolf’s music, the Mississippi Delta. “I have a little red rooster, too lazy to crow for day”, Wolf announces. He repeats the line, and then informs us that the titular fowl “keeps everything in the barnyard upset in every way”.

“The Red Rooster”–also known as “Little Red Rooster”—has attained classic status in the blues repertoire. The song is credited to Willie Dixon, but the rooster—a symbol of male sexual potency—strutted his stuff in the blues long before Dixon and Wolf recorded it, in 1961. Charlie Patton, Howlin’ Wolf’s mentor and running buddy in the 1920s, released his “Banty Rooster Blues” in 1929. Memphis Minnie’s 1936 “If You See My Rooster” also seems a likely model for Dixon, her lyric “If you see my rooster, please run him on back home” nearly identical to Dixon’s “If you see my little red rooster, please drive him home”.

And why does the red rooster need to get back home? Well, “there ain’t no peace in the barnyard” since he’s been gone. Puzzling, no? How can this rooster, who’s too lazy to crow, keep the barnyard upset and be its peacekeeper, too? “Watch out strange kin people”, Wolf warns, “the little red rooster’s on the prowl”. Who are these strange kinfolk, and why should they be wary of this prowling yard bird? Good question. All I can say is that the elusive (and allusive) quality of the lyrics is a big part of the song’s fascination.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

11 Mar 2011


Mendelsohn: The Doors’ self-titled debut is one of those albums where I understand why it’s in the Top 25—they surfaced in the hey-day of rock, they had a different approach to the music and they had a charismatic singer whose legacy overshadowed the music—but I wouldn’t have been surprised/upset if it ranked in around the mid-50s or even out of the Top 100. I don’t want to use the word ‘overrated’ by itself so how about the compound adjective ‘slightly overrated’?

Klinger: Ah, Mendelsohn, ours is not to question the level of rated-ness. The Acclaimed Music site has mathematically determined the place of The Doors in the canon, and somehow the album has consistently maintained some degree of cachet. But I see what you’re saying as far as the Doors as a group are concerned. It seems that their stock has fluctuated wildly in the forty years since Jim Morrison lit out for rock & roll heaven. And that’s not altogether surprising to me.

Ever since I went through my brief but obligatory teenage-boy Doors phase, I’ve vacillated between thinking that the group was a solid L.A. rock combo and a pitiful laughingstock whose sound was one step above a lounge act. “The End” has, to my ears, sounded both chilling and absurd. And we’ve already established what we think about Jimbo’s skills as a poet.

by Josh Antonuccio

10 Mar 2011


In his book Orthodoxy, author G.K. Chesterton explains the inevitable travails of “The Maniac”. He describes the problem of the madman that believes the whole world is involved in conspiracy against him, and that in order to live in that world, an individual has to shrink their perceptions down to an ever-tightening pattern of logical reasoning that eventually they cannot break out of. Thus we are left with a spiraling prison of logic, whereby we are left trapped, unable to escape.

On Talking Heads’ third album, Fear of Music, the band traces a similar journey as described by Chesterton.  Released in 1979 on the heels of its first two records and its first charting single, Fear of Music careens with conviction into a suffocating and paranoid masterpiece.  From the opening Hugo Ball-inspired chants of “I Zimbra” (featuring King Crimson’s resident guitar maestro Robert Fripp) to the closing anxiety-ridden sound-scapes of “Drugs”, the album plods into ominous and dark arenas similar to those once traveled by David Bowie on the album Low. The cover says it all: a bleak and black metallic floor laden only with quasi-industrial and pre-PC green lettering.

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