Wednesday, December 21, 2016

MX-80 Sound - 'Big Hits and Hard Attack'

Ok, really, this is the real reason I started doing this blog again. I wanted to post this record, realizing I never did a few years back when I was heavy into these fellas.

Coming out of the oasis of Bloomington, IN (basically the ONLY good thing in Indiana, and a pretty strange place), this band is a combination of influences that I really don't like. I hear a lot of Captain Beefheart, whom I despise, and also maybe some Frank Zappa, who is ok but not my favorite, Velvet Underground, who I also hate, and an assortment of 70's radio rock. Somehow, all this ends up being awesome, and completely unlike anything else, no matter how many people say they 'sound just like Sonic Youth.'

This kind of music just doesn't happen anymore. Here you have some college dudes in the middle of nowhere, just making music and playing for their friends, without ANY real musical worldview. So out of touch with everything going on in '76 that they sound current in 2016. It's fitting that they were discovered by The Residents, who also put out the bulk of their material on their Ralph Records, after Island dropped the band.

Since I can't really relate their sound to anything else other than their influences (which really doesn't cut it), this might get a little detailed.

So, you've got scratchy, 'angular' guitar work that sounds half-improvised, but always inspired. It's also really never feels like the band is 'trying' to be weird, or experimental, they're just weirdos. You can tell there's a lot of early heavy metal influence in the guitar work as well. And yes, some parts sound strikingly similar to Sonic Youth drones, but more interesting, I would argue.

The bass player is ALWAYS busy, and actually has some of the 'lead' riffs while the guitar fucks around. Best, however, are the drums, which are SO FUCKING HEAVY. It sounds like an old jazz kit being played as hard and fast as possible. Like, I don't even really know, I was just smiling at this guy's playing the whole album, it's way funkier than you'd think for this type of music, and also REALLY idiosyncratic, maybe a little like Primus.

Primus is actually a good comparison, come to think of it. Except the vocals aren't super fucking annoying, and the songs don't feel as laborious.

Speaking of the vocalist, who sounds a little like Jesse Michaels from Operation Ivy, except crazy, he is VERY good at his limited style. He's not the best singer, but he doesn't just get the fuck out of the way like most noise-rock vocalists. If he's not conversationally joking about PCB's and kidnapping girls, he's honking on his out-of-tune saxophone.

I could just go on. I don't even know how many times I laughed at the bizarre jokes in the lyrics. Rich Stim has perfect comedic timing in the way that only the Dead Milkmen or The Frogs perfected.  When he does get serious, it's more creepy than anything, and makes the band seem sort of menacing, like their live shows must have been totally out of control.

Aaaaanyways, their second album, 'Out of the Tunnel,' and the third, 'Crowd Control,' are also very good. Their later stuff is spotty, but I'm glad they're still slightly active. Definitely my favorite band on Ralph Records, which is pretty insane considering their roster includes Tuxedomoon, Snakefinger, and of course The Residents.

NOTE: My version also includes their first EP, as 2 long tracks at the beginning of the album. It's good, but 'Hard Attack' is where it's at.

MX-80 Sound - 'Big Hits and Hard Attack'


1. Train to Loveland / You Turn Me On / SCP / Til Death Do Us Part
2. Myonga Von Bontee / Boy Trouble - Girl Trouble / Tidal Wave
3. Man on the Move
4. Kid Stuff
5. Fascination
6. Summer '77
7. PCB's
8. Crushed Ice
9. Tidal Wave
10. Theme from 'Checkmate'
11. Facts-Facts
12. You're Not Alone
13. Civilized / Demeyes
14. Afterbirth / Aftermath
15. Sad Girls (Bonus Track)


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Some shit I heard and didn't mind hearing in 2016

People who read this page probably know that it's a place to come for old, forgotten music. That's because I don't really keep up with modern shit or anything. Whatever. I dunno, I got bored though, so now I'm listening to new music again.

This isn't a 'best of 2016' because everything is subjective. It's not even 'my favorites of 2016' because some of these releases I haven't even heard all the way through. They're just things that caught my ear for one reason or another. People making art that reflects themselves instead of the shit going on around them. Sometimes I don't have the attention span for an album, or I'm not in the mood for a particular genre, but I'm trying to give props where it's due.

Bizarro Jerry's 2016 List:

King - "We Are King"

Throwback R&B by two sisters and their friend who write and produce all their own songs. Their debut album has a dreamy, almost 'hypnagogic' vibe that out-hazes Sade at times, which I found impressive.

Andy Stott - "Too Many Voices"

Genre-less electronic music with bits and pieces from a lot of unlikely sources (i.e. 80's New Romantic music, Memphis rap, outsider house) that I like a LOT. I'm really excited to see what this dude does next.

Yves Tumor - "Serpent Music"

Further proof that music is transcending genres. Faded R&B mixed with industrial, lo-fi, field recordings, vaporwave-ish looped samples, religious records and creepy beats.

Zomby - "Ultra"

Stoned-out, insular dance music with elements from trap rap, 90's rave, dubstep, and ambient techno. I feel like I should hate this, but it's so tossed-off and weird that I don't. Just seems like this dude has fun with what he does.

Demdike Stare - "Wonderland"

I've learned to appreciate music that I might initially write off as 'boring' under the right circumstances. Normally I'm not too into the kind of ambient creep-fests these two guys usually cook up, but they're perfect for late-night driving. I think I'm finally sold on them with this release, though, as it's a lot more musical and beat-driven. Still creepy, but in a car-thumping, menacing kind of way.

Nicolas Jaar - "Sirens"

I have no idea what this dude is on about, but I got major feels off this. He seems very angry. His music is...strange. More shapeshifting, genre-bending weirdness that encompasses Suicide-esque synth punk, IDM and ambient, and somehow has a lot of chaotic jazz drumming and saxophone, too.

Immune - "Breathless"

Kind of like if you took the vaporwave recording aesthetic and applied it to 90's dance music. I guess a lot of these are slowed-down remixes of old dance tracks, but whatever. It's got a rainy-day kinda vibe, and I fall asleep to it a lot.

Spark Master Tape - "Silhouette of a Sunkken City"

Spark's experimental take on mainstream rap continues, and gets even darker. This came out after a 2-year hiatus where nothing was heard from him at all. I still think he's Kai Skywalker.

2 8 1 4 - "Rain Temple"

This is like the soundtrack for some 90's made-for-TV tech-thriller film, and I love it.

callasoiled - "Vapor Reflection"
callasoiled - "音響効果芸術集"

I don't know a whole lot about this Japanese producer. I don't even know if I correctly typed his or her name, because sometimes it's stylized as 'Calla Soiled,' sometimes as 'calla soiled' and sometimes like I have it. I do know that the music they make is super-luxurious, maximalist electronica that seems (to me) very modern, but also very natural. Even with trap drumkits and dubstep wobble bass popping up here and there, callasoiled's best tunes feel like a forest broken down into mathematical components, then turned into music. Last year's 'Lucoq' is the best release I've heard, but they've put out like, 5 things this year that are all pretty good.

Babyfather - "BBF Hosted by DJ Escrow"

I am apparently just as baffled by Dean Blunt's music as everybody else. I dunno, this kinda seems like he just freestyled really badly over some songs he had that sort of resembled rap music, but taking into account his public persona, it seems that wouldn't be the case, and that this is a carefully planned release. I don't know. Parts of it are obnoxious, but then it gets very disorienting and weird. It's interesting, at the very least.

Moe and ghosts X 空間現代 - "Rap Phenomenon"

Okay, it's headache-inducing math rock with female, Japanese rapping on top. It's insane. This could have only come from Japan.

Vektor - "Terminal Redux"

I've heard about 4 songs, and they were all good. Vektor has consistently been solid, and this might be their best release yet.

Deftones - "Gore"

Every time the Deftones put out a new record, it ends up being my second favorite, after "White Pony." This time, for real, this is my second favorite Deftones record. Okay, maybe third, because I have a soft spot for 'Adrenaline,' but SERIOUSLY, this is a good Deftones record. Any minor complaints I had about "Diamond Eyes" and "Koi No Yokan" (namely over-production, auto-tuned vocals, and a few kinda samey songs) are resolved here.

Floating Points - "Kuiper" EP

Like, some weird combination of film noir instruments and ambient electronica? I don't really know. It's got a movie-feel to it, and it's pretty dark and dreamy. I dig it, along with the full-length they put out last year.

Esperanza Spalding - "Emily's D+Evolution"

Why aren't more people talking about this?? Really, REALLY cool jazz-fusion from a young bassist/singer. Like, for one thing, how many female singer/songwriter/bassists are there? And how many of them sound like Prince's weirder moments and play like fucking Jaco Pastorius?

Joao Donato - "Donato Eletrico"

I just stumbled across this album, and it's just super chilled-out Latin jazz that could've come from any era, if it weren't for random moments of record scratching and other strangeness. It's just very unassuming and enjoyable.

Autechre - "Elseq 1-5"

Okay, I've only heard a small fraction of this because I haven't been in an Autechre mood, but I love these dudes, and what I've heard is classic Autechre. In some ways, it's even noisier than they usually go for. Less chaotic and alien than something like "Confield," but definitely more experimental than their early albums.

18+ - "Fore"

What the hell is this? I'm not even sure if I like it. It might be super pretentious. Or it might just be some drug addicted, idiosyncratic weirdos. I guess it's R&B?? It's a guy and girl half-rapping/half-singing over these really strange some outsider couple version of Bones or something?

Nu Guinea - "The Tony Allen Experiments"

Cool jazz-funk with a lot of African vibes that reminds me of Bill Laswell's classic recordings. Nothing new, but not bad at all.

Burial - "Young Death / Nightmarket"

It took me a lot of listens to get into Burial. I still think his debut is better than "Untrue," which kind of bores me honestly. This...kind of bored me too...but it's just neat this reclusive dude is still putting tunes out, and it's cool to be able to get excited about new releases again.

Ho99o9 - "The Dope Dealerz / Double Barrel"

This is what the teens are doing now, and it's fucking terrifying. Like OFWG if they were actually as 'punk' as they think they are. These dudes do rap songs, and then they pick up instruments and do punk songs. Sometimes it crosses over, but not usually. These two tracks represent their two sides perfectly, much better than their previous EPs.
Melt Yourself Down - "Last Evenings on Earth"

Afro-post-punk wildness. EXCELLENT sax playing, complex rhythms, and a lot of anger. Sometimes the vocals are a little annoying, but these folks have a cool sound.

Yello - "Toy"

I didn't even realize these two weirdos were still doing shit...they must be in their 60s or 70s now. You remember 'Oh Yeah' from 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' of course, but the rest of their classic output was more like the Residents Lite. I haven't heard this full album, but it sounds just as yuppie-ish, lush, and goofy as they always did.

I dunno, there's other stuff, but I don't wanna start doing the 'music journalist' thing and write about albums I'm not familiar with. This is stuff I've been ACTUALLY listening to.

Singers and Players - 'War of Words'

I've also been listening to a lot of Jamaican music. All the way from ska and rocksteady to the dub and roots reggae of the 70's. Of course, I wouldn't post something here unless it were a little out of the ordinary. Lots of dub has strange qualities...I mean, it IS a genre founded on getting high and doing the craziest mixes you can think of to pre-recorded tracks. It just sounds like pure fun. This album, however, is not fun at all.

Initially I saw this described as 'gothic reggae,' and I guess that's not far off the mark. It's got a very skeletal, sterile dub sound. The echo and reverb is all harsh and digital, and for some reason there's also a lot of super-distorted guitar, which is atypical of dub. The lyrics are all performed in creepy whispers, or a really deep, smoked-out toasting voice.

Everything, down to the black and white cover photo, conjures up a deeply depressive vibe, something also atypical of dub. While it's normally bass-heavy and minimal, this is heavy in different ways.

If you're looking to get into reggae, but want to start with the furthest possible point from Bob Marley, this is probably a good bet.

Singers and Players - 'War of Words' - 1982

1. Devious Woman
2. Quante Jubila
3. Sit and Wonder
4. Fit to Survive
5. Reaching the Bad Man
6. World of Dispensation
7. '91 Vibration


Terje Rypdal - 'Descendre'

Going to try summarizing what I've been listening to for the past 2 years...until I get bored anyways. Winter always gets me in a jazz mood, especially ECM stuff. This label specializes in clinically-produced, note-perfect jazz that a lot of people find too sterile. That's true if you stick with stuff like Pat Metheny and Oregon, but a lot of the Scandinavian artists featured on the label are pretty innovative.

Terje Rypdal is a Norwegian jazz-fusion guitarist with several albums out on ECM. The double-LP 'Odyssey' is maybe his best work, but I think this one from 1979 distills that album's best ideas into a one-album set, without any 20-minute ambient soundscapes. Despite that, it's still very dreamy. Although Rypdal developed his style in a totally different time, his playing is very shoegazey.

According to the information I can find, most of his recorded material is at least partially improvised, which is pretty impressive considering how focused the mood here is. Well, it's not just here...most of his work has a late-night, creepy vibe, that would be taken to extremes by dark-jazz groups like Bohren and Der Club of Gore in the 2000's.

Good stuff to zone out to. I'd recommend it even if you're not a jazz fan, because this reminds me a lot of post-rock, which makes sense because a lot of the best post-rock seems to come from Scandinavia as well.

Terje Rypdal - 'Descendre' - 1979

1. Avskjed
2. Circles
3. Descendre
4. Innseiling
5. Men of Mystery
6. Speil


Thursday, November 17, 2016

It's the return?


Should I start doing this thing again? I dunno...does anybody even read it anymore?

I really fell off w/ listening to new music, although I never really paid it much mind to begin with.

Been through a lot of jobs, musical projects, and weed in the past 2 years, but who cares about that?

Anyhow. Recently, I started to get back into newer stuff...mainly jazz and electronic, because new rock music is weaaaaaak.

Here are some things that came out this year, which I am enjoying. Maybe it will turn into a 'best of 2016' list? I dunno. We'll see how bored I get at work.

Andy Stott - 'Too Many Voices'

I can't decide if I like this or his previous album, 'Faith in Strangers,' more. That one has the track 'Damage,' which is probably my favorite SONG by him, but this one is more consistent. It's also not as dark, and more of just a nighttime cruising record, I guess. That's what I do with it, anyhow. I don't really know what to call it, which is why I like a lot of stuff coming out this year. It's got murked out 808 drumkits, weird vintage synth tones, detached female vocals, and even some 80's post-punk bass guitar. It's too slow to be techno, and while it thumps like a rap record, the mood is more similar to The Cure or something.

Zomby - 'Ultra'

Ok, so the first two tracks are pretty obnoxious. A lot of stuff that's being tagged as 'UK Bass' is like listening to someone play Call of Duty from the other room. Lots of super-modern effected drums and gun clacking type shit. Sometimes it feels really random. Other stuff, like the previously mentioned 'Too Many Voices,' is super cool. Zomby falls prey to the UK Bass gun sounds and obnoxious synths on the first two cuts, but then this record turns into a pretty neat combination of trap-style drums, creepy, cold, synths, and unconventional song structures that seem pretty off-the-cuff, like he doesn't ever go back and re-edit things. There's even a Lil Ugly Mane sample, which sold me on it. People seem to prefer his last release, the 2xCD 'With Love,' but I dunno, it's pretty damn long, and a lot of it sounds the same. This is a pretty nice distillation of that, and 'Fly 2' (ft. Blank Banshee) is better than anything on that record.

Nicolas Jaar - 'Sirens'

Some of this is really not my, ambient soundscapes I guess, but I still appreciate that this dude is doing something really unique in a time where that's pretty hard to achieve. That being said, 'The Governor' fucking rips, and I could smash a bunch of stuff to it forever. This, to me, is the beginning of a new kind of anger. Probably just as off-putting as the beginning of punk rock, and just as hard to pin down. Jaar calls his music techno, I guess, which seems weird, because it's more like a really modern take on minimal wave. Some of it drags a bit, but when it comes together (like on 'The Governor',) it's pretty much everything I want from music. Cool, detached, Suicide-esque vocals, Detroit techno-style electronics, and some seriously wild drumming and clarinet(?) playing. This dude is pissed but instead of yelling and hitting a guitar, he's making music that literally feels like it's about to break.

Yves Tumor - 'Serpent Music'

While this might not go down as one of my favorite records, it perfectly illustrates what I love about recent music trends. It's perfectly fucking okay to wholesale jack some old soul song and just sing over it and morph it into a depressed, introverted stew. And, it's perfectly okay to stick that song on a record with cut-up marching drum field recordings, and some seriously haunted industrial-influenced R&B. Tumor is an associate of gender-fluid rapper Mykki Blanco, and has produced for them. This is a very strange record, but I like all the ideas on display, and it reminds me a lot of Divine Styler's 'Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light.' Even the album cover, with its soap-opera soft focus, combines a bunch of eras into a nonspecific whole.

Immune - 'Breathless'

From what I can tell, there was a lot of hype for this album, then it kinda disappeared once people found out this producer just stole a bunch of old techno and trance songs and kinda mixed them together half-assedly. Whatever. Art is art. It might be plunderphonics, but it's pleasant to listen to on a rainy afternoon, or even to go to sleep. Maybe Immune should have released it as a DJ mix instead of a proper album, but I would rather listen to this than spend hours digging for rare 90's techno cuts and slowing them down myself.

Melt Yourself Down - 'Last Evenings on Earth'

I got bored about 2/3 of the way through, but that's still a pretty good run all things considered. Recently, I've been pretty bored with rock music, and afro-funk, jazz and soul has kinda taken its place, so it's cool to see that stuff influencing modern groups. This FEELS like punk to me, even though it absolutely doesn't sound like it. The sax lines are like a cross between Morphine and Fela Kuti. The bass and drums, although playing pretty standard afro-funk patterns, are SUPER blown-out and huge-sounding. The vocals are sometimes cool, sometimes meh. Even if it's not a 'favorite,' it's a very creative record.

Spark Master Tape - 'Silhouette of a Sunkken City'

I've been a fan of Spark since his first mixtape, 'Syrup Splash.' Not that that matters for any reason, it's just been fun to watch the development of an artist from the beginning. To be sure, I'm not really sure what the fuck Spark is doing or planning. Disappearing for long periods of time, then coming back anonymously with another record of radio-friendly trap filtered through the avant-garde. This time around, songs are longer, more fully-formed, but also less fun. Spark seems really depressed, and I guess who can blame him? This is more of a 'greater than the sum of the parts' album than 'The Serengeti Swoup,' and probably because of this, there are fewer stand-out tracks. 'Chalkk,' 'Goin' Robbin'' and the absurd 'She Started Talkin'' are some of his best tracks, and Paper Platoon's production has just kept getting weirder. There are less of your favorite mixtape sound effects, but there are more obviously-stolen accapella 'features,' including a track that has all the surviving members of NWA together. Also of note, he seems to have some better pitch-shifting software this time around.

Well, I might be back with some mixes or downloads. You should buy any of these releases if you dig 'em though (except the Immune one, cuz fuck it.) I did, which makes this the first year I've paid for music since like 2011. There's some good shit out there for once.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bizarro Jerry's Memphis rap faves

If you like all the rare Memphis rap stuff I post here, you should check this list out:

Bizarro Jerry's Memphis Rap Faves

I made it for the RateYourMusic website, and if you're deep into this shit like I am, it's got some obscurities you might not have heard of. Alternately, if you're just getting into Memphis rap, I think it's a pretty good starting point, since there are also some of the classics.

Reader submission: Avant-garde strangeness from the deep web

Got another reader submission the other day, this time from someone who found me on the RateYourMusic website. He sent me a few albums, and a link to his weekly podcast.

He goes by the name of Tunnel Rat, and his music is somewhere in between bizarro Jandek outsider improv and the early chaotic releases of Beck. I'm actually not sure where he's based, but he's had records put out by labels from Florida and Canada. The one on Panama City's Fork and Spoon Records, called Rothko, features free form improvisation on bass, and some very strange spoken word sections. There are also some field recordings and odd samples, giving it a definite vibe of 'bedroom music.'

It's a very short affair, with the longest track being just over three minutes. Despite the amateurish recording quality, Tunnel Rat sounds pretty proficient on the bass, and some of this stuff reminds me of 60's avant-garde jazz. The poetry set to it gives the whole thing a completely different feel, though.

The other release I was sent, which is titled Hide The Syrup Spacemen, is even more avant-garde and strange. This was the one that reminded me of Beck's early sound experiments. Odd in-jokes are combined with distant-sounding field recordings and some spastic mandolin playing. I don't know what to make of it all, but if you were a fan of the Obscuro! radio program, you'll definitely be into this.

His internet podcast is sort of a discussion on experimental and spoken-word music, but it also touches on conspiracy theories, current news events and the benefits of the RateYourMusic website. It's every bit as strange as you'd think it is from hearing the music.

Thanks for the submission, Tunnel Rat, and to everyone else, keep 'em coming!