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Lamp, broken circa 1988

THE ALBUM CLUB.

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The first place I heard about this was an end-of-year top ten list from some guy on the internet, that had like four or five albums that I thought were good, and then Flashbulb at #1.  At the time, I'd never heard of that artist, but since this guy and I seemed to have common tastes, I figured I should check it out.  Ended up liking it a whole bunch, and I think it's the one album that I own that I'd feel comfortable playing for pretty much anyone.  

 

With 28 tracks in 72 minutes, it's probably an example of what DFA was talking about a few weeks back, artists unnecessarily packing a cd nearly to its limit, and it is kind of exhausting to listen to the whole thing in one sitting.  But, to my ears, there are no bad songs on here.  I could almost do a top ten favorites list of the ones I like.  Passage D, Kirlian Shores, Autumn Insomnia Session and Parkways would be my top picks.  There are a couple of (musical) themes that pop up more than once, but for the most part, everything is pretty distinct, and each track gets in and out without overstaying its welcome or feeling incomplete.  I also enjoy how it starts as a breakcore album and by the end it's abandoned the drums and become something else.  

 

Also always wondered, and this is probably a dumb question - the drums on Autumn Insomnia Session and the piano on Shortcuts, those are studio assisted, right?  There's no way a person can play like that, is there?  It sounds like just on the edge of being humanly possible, so I was never entirely sure.

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I mean, this is possible on piano, so I don't see what's impossible about what was happening on Shortcuts? But given how the drums are mechanized for the rest of the record, I would expect he's overdubbing very high quality synthetic drums instead of using live recordings. The sound on it feels... too particular, if that makes sense? The panning on the individual drum pieces on Autumn in particular feels more like attempting to simulate being in front of the drumkit, as though at a show, but the drum sounds are panned so sharply that they don't feed into other channels. So either they were recorded individually (in which case he is a time-lord and perfectionist) or they're just synths.

 

I like large parts of this! I find the slower it gets and the more jazz-like it gets (like the Kirlian Isles tracks, the two just mentioned, and My Life of Loving Ghosts), the more interested I am in it. The pure high speed techno stuff, not as much. I also felt like... there was very little in terms of coherency of the album? Like, it didn't entirely feel like the songs on the album had much to do with each other besides the year of release and the songwriter. This is a personal idiosyncracy of mine, it's not at all a demerit against the artist. All it means that, because it was so long and because I didn't really feel the connective tissue, it took me about four days to finish it because I would just lose track of where things were going. It's entirely possible that I'm missing the through-line.

 

maybe a little bewildering that this ended with a slow jam after all them big fireworks throughout the record

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Swamped right now. The above is their one hit. Below is my favourite.

 

 

Will actually comment soon (seriously).

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I'm listening to it now, and I like Goin' Bye a lot.  I like most of it, but that is probably my favorite so far.  It has a darker feel to it.

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Transition'll be late because I am a big jerk who forgot to stay on top of this. Trying to get back into a gym habit, been busy aching.

 

So I wasn't sure which one was the actual recommendation, the four track EP or the 13 track live album. I've made it over halfway into the live album. Proto-punk is all still fascinating to me, because it's beginning to rub against what we now know as rock construction (constant marching chords, bass in lock with those chords, etc) and I don't know that the form is better off without punk. So far I really liked So Sincerely Yours, Heaven, and Thrill. The only song I've reacted negatively towards is You're So Great, which is just so corny 70s punchworthy rock bullshit that I took a break and got back to this album tonight. City Slang the song is alright I guess? I dunno, I guess the main thing that I take from all this is Scott Asheton was a perfect drummer and that it makes the music of 1978 that I treasure feel even more out of place than it already did.

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Intriguing!

 

So admittedly, the main thinking behind the choice of Sonic's Rendezvous Band was the hope that you, like me, would be like "wait wait wait guys from MC5 and the Stooges formed a band and I didn't know about it"? And they're really good. They definitely tend towards a kind of sleazy "rawk" music that can't be made with a straight face today, but it seems very of its time and place.

 

And I love "Clock with no Hands" because of the intro, and the drum fills. I'm a sucker for drum fills.

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I didn't like everything from the Angels of Light album, but there were a few songs that I dig.  My favorites are "Not Here / Not Now", "Sometimes I Dream I'm Hurting You", "Black River Song", and "Star Chaser".  Listening to them again, the songs that appeal to me tend to have a similar style: slow and dark.

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my first thought when listening: "akron/family is on this record." Not as a question, or a guess. That first electric guitar line on Black River Song is the most Akron/Family shit ever.

 

I loved this pretty much start to finish. This is what I'm talking about with instrument choice and total choices. The album cover presents the mood, of an idyllic world not quite right, and then the songs are written accordingly. They're traditional but Gira's Giraness slowly corrupts them into discomforting things. And as far as insidious but measured pop music goes, Akron/Family is 100% the right backing band to have for that. Favorite song is, by a damned mile, "Sometimes I Dream I'm Hurting You." That moment when the song drops and picks up speed on it's way before crashing down on the ground is fantastic. I don't... really have a least favorite song? I mean, the ending is a ballad but at least it gets noisy so I'm alright with it.

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I like this album quite a bit. The thing about it that strikes me first is the emotion that he puts into the performance of the songs. Thematically, it seems to morph from songs about the loss of a personal relationship in his life into songs about religious faith. And it's not very linear; these themes flow in and out. I'm still trying to reconcile the placing of the most aggressive song on the album, "Eternal Life", that talks about the twisting of faith right after the traditional hymn "Corpus Christ Carol".

The stand-out song is the cover of "Hallelujah", but I also really like "Lover You Should've Come Over" and "Grace".

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I will have to check that out.

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This is not the entirety of my opinion of Grace but so far I'm amused at like the radical differences of what a good guitar album is between the album club this go-round, between this studio hugeness, the Flaming Lips pedal warfare, the live sound on Sonic's Rendezvous, and Faux Fur's... thing, which I'll speak on once I'm done with Grace.

 

EDIT: Also, Grace does not sound like what I always assumed it would sound like.

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I decided not to press queue urgency or anything after Lemmy's passing, and then REALLY after Bowie's passing, to let people just hang out and listen to those old catalogs as much as they felt they had to. I think it's safe enough to start talking about other music on here now?

 

ok so grace

 

So like I said, it didn't sound how I expected it to sound. I was bracing for a "blues is for whites too" toothless thing. It's not that. However, this is one of those albums where it's impossible for me to seperate the work from my environment. Music like this was the dominant thing in my childhood, so, I'm sort of incapable of absorbing it as a work outside of how many people were aping it. It's like... someone invented the highway layout, but I've just rode on highways all my life so they're just There. That said, there is really good musicianship and really expensive production on here. I am unmoved but it's not like it's impossible to see how this works or the impact it's had on other musicians in its time..

 

A brief aside: Hallelujah is one of my all time least favorite songs and there's no cover that's going to keep me from gagging at "it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth."

 

i'm about to make some friends this'll be great

 

In my life I have heard two records I would call perfect. One is Milo's “cavalcade.” The other is Faux Fur's self-titled and only record. The kicker is, I know precious few lyrics on the Faux Fur record, and would still call it perfect.

 

The first thing to understand is that when this record was recorded, the oldest member of Faux Fur was 20. This continuously blows my goddamn mind.

 

The second thing is the particular scale of the thing they've accomplished: a sound all to themselves. I've gone on about Calgary plenty of times in the past, and this does have a lot in common with other bands from that scene and cohorts (Women, Viet Cong, Freak Heat Waves, The Diet). A quick analysis of the Calgary sound: Leaning on cleaned up guitars with reverb on guitar and vocals, quick shallow chorus effects on occasion, and a reliance on the amps for gain boost. Vocally, obfuscated through cavernous reverb and largely dour lyrical themes (a sample women lyric, from their only song with a chorus: “but those cruel tricks could not avoid me loving you a lot / I just could not tell against your will / Give out your number now”). Structurally, things veer away from chords, solos and chorus format. Guitars are used primarily as melodic instruments, winding around the root notes of chords being made from the vocals and bass. The guitars are bright and treble-heavy, shimmering dramatically next to the rest of the instrumentation which is purposefully muddied. When these bands try to create unease, they do it through structure instead of loud feedbacking distortion. They aren't afraid of those pedals necessarily, as the records tend to use drone composition as a breathing point when one is needed. They just don't rely on the overdrive sound at any point. At the same time, for as winding and peculiar as the rhythms get, the songs are very rarely dance proof- heavy rhythm sections hold the tightrope guitar act together (Freak Heat Waves especially is amazing at this). Also, the melodic complexity of the pieces disallow the space for something like soloing, because there's not a need to create a separate melodic hook. What you are left with is a shining sound with air-tight structure, mysterious lyricism, and ego-less band-effort rock music. It is My Shit.

 

For those familiar with some of these bands, Viet Cong (or whatever their name ends up being) is the Arena Rock version of this whole tone profile.

 

So where Faux Fur differs is, first, in moving away from indulging in drones. The record is 30 minute and it's all muscle. Second, they're significantly faster than most Calgary bands- they have a few tracks that barely reach two minutes, but they're so densely packed and shifting that it doesn't feel like they left anything out. The most important difference between Faux Fur and most bands is their handle on melodic counterpoint. The way some bands use the two guitar set-up leave a lot to be desired. Usually one person's playing root note chords and another person is playing a tiny melodic phrase over and over. The guitars in Faux Fur interplay with baffling intricacy. From the first track, Rosemary, the guitars whip against the vocals in a single impossible guitar line. The rest of the album is full of similarly wonderful construction: the call and answer lines in Laundromat, the wild dance off in ending Fold Paper, the slow fusion of themes in Reeling Phase, and it's immediate pay off in the ecstatic I Saw You Standing where the guitars take turns dressing up as rhythm or lead guitars before filling the outro with the same tight interplay they've filled the rest of the record with. It's as if they're showing off they're just as capable of Pop Rock, they just don't want to.

 

For the rhythm section, they hold tight for the whole record record, but their shining moments come back to back on Stoop and Burnt. Stoop is a machine that slowly accelerates for the duration of the track, driven by the sparse drums and a slowly elaborating bass line. The explosion at the end of Stoop is probably the highlight of the first half. Burnt is it's own different beast, secretly concealing the most brilliant modern time signature switch I've heard. In a flash, a drowsy 4/4 sway morphs into a punching 9/8 boogie. Yet, it's implementation in the music is so smoothed out that it just feels… natural. It's enough to make me want to quit writing, that I'm hearing such incredible sophistication from goddang teenagers.

 

This record is so goddamn good, I even think the ballads are high points on it. Each ballad has a very distinctive character and mood. Discolouration's atmosphere feels surreal but grounded, like witnessing a prom or high school reunion. Formal and surrounded. A slow build to necessary relief with a hyper mechanical precision. This contrasts super strongly with Worn, a large dream sequence of a track. It's built on long sustaining chords and steady arpeggios, rhythmically a palette cleanser from the rest of the record. When the record begins it's final ascencion, with the rhythm section cutting out for just the bright guitars and the mourning vocals, it feels earned after the 25 minutes of lightning fast, near-architectural counterpoint that preceded it. Ending on dissonance after all of that is a real goodbye that I'm not sure if they knew they were going to need, as the broke up soon after this record came out.

 

So that's like nearly a thousand words on Faux Fur? And I left off several songs from all of that of which I could expand on similarly. I love the holy fucking hell out of this record. I want to make records like it. I want to visit Calgary at some point just to see if I can understand how this music is possible, or at least give something to that community that's been changing how I feel about the guitar for years now.

 

so idk maybe you'll like it too idk

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