Well, it seems as if 2009 is suddenly half-way over. Here’s some of what I’ve enjoyed thus far:
Thee Oh Sees – Help [In The Red] / Zork’s Tape Bruise [Kill Shaman] / Tidal Wave 7″ [Woodist] / The Drag 7″ [Castle-Face]: It’s already been a productive year for John Dwyer and company. I can’t get enough of their reverb-heavy psyched-out garage goodness and it seems as of recent, they’ve had no problem being productive. John Dwyer even claims he already has “the whole new LP worked out already.” Expect it to have “a glazed summer feel.” Possibly another LP by the end of the year!? We can hope for it.
Ty Segall – Ty Segall [Castle-Face]: Released on John Dwyer’s label, Castle-Face, this is probably my favourite somewhat recent release (did it technically come out in 2008?). His one-man-band noisy blown-out garage-rock can’t be beat. Look for his follow-up, “Lemons”, coming out in July on the Memphis-based Goner records.
Magik Markers – Balf Quarry [Drag City]: “Boss” was my favorite album of 2007. This pretty much sounds like a sequel to that album — more focused (for them) noise songs that recall the work of the fabulous 1980s pre-Mazzy Star band Opal. [guitarist/vocalist Elisa Ambrogio pictured above – thanks ThisRecording]
Amen Dunes – DIA [Locust]: Apparently this mysterious “loner psych grit” release was the result of a single man’s retreat into the Catskill mountains armed only with a 12-track, some magnetic tape, and a variety of instruments.
Condo Fucks – Fuckbook [Matador]: I expected to listen to this haphazardly recorded Yo La Tengo garage session once or twice. It ended up being a drive time commute favourite.
Sonic Youth – The Eternal [Matador]: They’re back again with no apparent signs of letting up. ‘Nuff said.
Black Lips – 200 Million Thousand [Vice]: Fuck the hipster backlash, Atlanta knows how to rawk.
Wooden Shjips – Dos [Holy Mountain]: krautrock-esque repetitive jams for the masses
Douglas Rushkoff – The Media Squat [WFMU]: Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff’s new radio talk show, The Media Squat, is something you should start tuning into frequently. Talk ranges from the benefits of using local currencies, to views on the current economic crisis (and why it is actually an opportunity), to why regulation of the toy industry hurts old-fashioned toy-makers. It airs on WFMU Monday nights 6pm EST. Stream and podcast here. While you’re at it, check out his new book, “Life Inc.”
Science is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painleve [Criterion]: Finally this comes to DVD in the states. These are really fabulous avant-garde aquatic documentaries from the 1920s-1960s. The 3 disc collection has everything you need, including alternate soundtracks by Yo La Tengo, just in case you missed seeing them perform it live for the Webster Film Series back in 2005.
“Observe and Report”, Jody Hill: I had no desire to see Seth Rogen play a mall cop but a friend dragged me to this movie. I expected another lame attempt to cash in on the recent successes of Judd Apatow. Surprisingly, I left the theatre having seen the best film of 2009 (so far). Sure, it’s basically “Taxi Driver” set in a shitty mall, but it’s one of the best dark (and I mean dark) comedies I’ve seen in quite some time. Trust me, this movie is destined to be a certified Cult Classic. You’ll understand when you finally catch it on video five years from now.
The Vaselines – Enter The Vaselines [Sub Pop]: It’s nice get everything the Vaselines ever did on vinyl (3 LP too!). I hope this is among the first of many nicely compiled Sub Pop Deluxe Editions.
Various Artists – Electronium: A Complete Guide to Audio Composition [unknown]: I have no idea where this release came from and apparently no one else does either. The LP came in a nice box with room for two more LPs which are to be released at a later date. It features a bunch of classic Raymond Scott analog synth bits as well as a couple of tracks from Dick Hyman and an LSD public service announcement. Let’s hope those 2 additional LPs actually happen. I don’t know how I’ll even find them if they do.
Peter Walker – Long Lost Tapes 1970 [Tompkins Square]: Peter Walker studied with both Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar and was Timothy Leary’s music director. He was an important figure of the American folk underground, but unfortunately, he only released two albums, including the wonderful “Rainy Day Raga.” Walker finally dug up the tapes from this Woodstock, NY recording session for another full-length release — 39 years delayed.
Mississippi Records: If you ever come across any release by Mississippi, snatch it up. Their small-run vinyl-only releases are always reasonably priced (~$10) and excellently packaged. I can guarantee you’ll then find them spinning on your turntable constantly. This year, I’ve enjoyed another installment of pre-war blues, “I Woke Up One Morning in May”, and the guitar-based gospel of Bishop Perry Tillis, compiled from hours of cassette tapes and released as “In Times Like These….” I also finally found a copy of their 2008 vinyl release of “Compilation” by The Clean. They don’t have a website, but a librarian at the University of North Carolina Asheville as lovingly compiled an Illustrated Discography here.
Galactic Zoo Disk: Psychedelica archivist Steve Krakow (aka Plastic Crimewave) has teamed up with Drag City to reissue several long lost psych gems this year on limited edition vinyl. I had never heard of either J.T. IV (“Cosmic Lightning”) or The George Edwards Group (“38:38”), but that what makes this stuff so interesting. Krakow will continue to deliver the goods later this year with Michael Yonker’s never-issued “Lovely Good”. Also expect the always informative “Galactic Zoo Dossier” #8 in July.