Saturday, September 1, 2018

"The Unveiling" by Noveller

After a month of publishing something daily, I'm going to slow down the pace. 

This should be more of a "when it strikes me" blog than adhering to a schedule.

With that said, here I am repeating a track already.  Sometimes I'll probably want to go over a track numerous times.

This is my favorite new piece of music of 2018, "The Unveiling" by Noveller. 

I found it originally in the Stasis Report playlist on Spotify, although by now it's in the Stasis Archive playlist.  It's in my playlist 2018 Picks by DJ Rushton.

During the summer of 2018, I've been sick with shingles.  I got the rash around July 13th, but I'd had symptoms and fatigue before that.  It was a relatively mild case, considering, but the ongoing fatigue after taking the anti-viral and having the rash heal has been a problem.  I can't go for walks at work like I did.  Lifting weights doesn't interest me.  I can barely do any yard work.  On a day I think I'm feeling better, and I push it a bit, I pay for it.

But I can still listen to music, go to my day job, make some paintings, and get along OK.

There's something special about this track.  I can't describe what makes it that way, at least not in this entry.  Maybe I'll have another post about it in the future.

You've got to have good headphones on for this track, and I don't mean earbuds but really decent cans over your ears.  It's better when it's more intimate listening than, say, in the car.

Friday, August 31, 2018

"'Tis A Pity She Was A Whore" by David Bowie

Outstanding.  Bowie goes into the studio with a bunch of awesome jazz guys and has a blast.  I'm not usually into dual wailing saxophones, but I am here.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Would That Not Be Nice" by Divine Fits

I didn't know they were a "supergroup" of sorts, so I was wondering why this fantastic piece of noisy pop/rock was released in 2012 and there's been nothing since.  I'm not familiar with Spoon, but I probably should be.  The whole thing's great, but that final 45 seconds really kills it.  Wow!

Monday, August 27, 2018

"Blue Tip" by The Cars

I only recently discovered this.

As one comment said:  

There should be a radio format that exclusively plays new music by older artist. The classic rock stations aren't going play the new Madonna, prince, or Duran Duran song. They have Like a Virgin, Kiss, and Hungry Like a Wolf they can play. The pop stations would rather play new music by new artists like Adele, Sia, or Florence and the Machine. So more established artists are screwed.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

"Earn Enough For Us" by XTC

One of my favorite Andy Partridge XTC songs.  Unlike the Alvvays song reviewed on August 25th, this just works from start to finish and doesn't sound like the era in which it was recorded (1986).

But since XTC never really played live again after 1982, their catalog should be ripe for picking cover songs from.

I have always envisioned "Earn Enough For Us" as a huge country hit by one of those hat-wearing, stadium-filling cowboys, but it's never happened.  They wouldn't even need to change that much - just add a little twang to the vocal and triple up the guitars.  Instant hit!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

"Not My Baby" by Alvvays

This is a great song, but has terrible production and needs a bit of a rearrangement in the latter half.

When I still had Sirius/XM satellite radio in my car, I'd listen to the Canadian "indie pop" channel and found a lot of great bands on there, but the channel seemed to be often coated in this dull sheen, like the EQ was all muted.  I hear the same sort of thing with "Not My Baby" (Alvvays is a Canadian band).

I'd chop out the motorcycle.  I'd re-record the drums so they sound real instead of fake.  Then whatever the hell is altering Molly Rankin's vocal so that it sounds kind of dull would be dumped.  It's like they're trying to recreate an early 60s country-style vocal and coupling it with what sounds like a drum machine.  Meanwhile, you've got those guitar lines BURIED in the mix.  Bring them out!  And why is the bass guitar sounding so thumpy?

At 1:54, when the song changes a bit, they should have hired a small orchestra rather than relying on the synths.  And on the way out, the song just sort of coasts.  It could have used a bit more revision and maybe an additional verse.

This is a song that wants to be grand.  She's making a big statement here!  But, sonically, it's stuck in a Canadian basement.

I realize the producers involved have worked with a lot of bands and have won Grammys and all that, and surely the band wanted it to sound like this.  But some young artist looking for a song to make as their own should cover this with my suggestions in mind.

Friday, August 24, 2018

"Tokyo Bay" by Nick Lowe

When I was a kid in the late 70s, I found a copy of "Pure Pop For Now People" at the Salvation Army in Des Moines and got it because of the cover, but discovered that I liked the music on it.  I've followed with his career (solo, Rockpile, production, etc) here and there since.

So it was a real joy to have this show up in my Spotify Release Radar weekly playlist.  I like it when older musicians (Lowe is 69 years old in 2018), kick out something new and catchy and awesome this late in their career.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

"99" by Föllakzoid

Krautrock from Chile?  Why yes!

This came out in 2013 when I was exploring music on a variety of platforms, but I think I found Föllakzoid via Bandcamp and have bought most of their catalog.

"99" doesn't have as many streams on Spotify as I thought it might (about 138,000 as of August 2018), but it's such an awesome groovy, space-rock thing with analog synths everywhere.  I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing this every so often.  And if the final 3 minutes doesn't give you goosebumps then you're not listening.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

"In McDonalds" by Burial

I heard Untrue when it came out in 2007 and that was almost all I played for a while.  I had the music service Rhapsody at the time and I'd download DRM'd tracks to my little Sony Digital Walkman.  That's how we did things back then.

As you know, I love sound collages.  This is so haunting, and that Aailyah sample just makes it.  It's timeless.  The whole thing is built on samples, isn't it?  I remember reading interviews and the guy just used Sound Forge to cut things up and process them.  That's what I use!  When rap and hip-hop got away from samples due to all the court rulings, it was a bummer.  In my opinion, it ruined the art of it.  Somehow this slipped through.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

"Crazy People" by Phil Kuhlenbeck

This is one of my productions.  I've always enjoyed making sound collages, even before I bought an album of cut-up recordings by William S. Burroughs around 1986.  Back in the day, I'd do them on tape.

For "Crazy People", I took Phil's voicemails, drowned them in reverb, pitch-shifted it down, and then mixed various backing tracks and a beat into it.  The whole thing is cut-up and reassembled.  I probably should have titled the track "Crazy People Drive People Crazy".

Monday, August 20, 2018

"xoyo" by The Passage

I played this on my radio show in the early 80s.  How did I get away with that?  They're mostly forgotten because they broke up in 1983, their albums were long out-of-print, and they never reformed. xoyo has only had 16,000 streams on Spotify as of August 2018.  It really ought to be in every post-punk and early 80s compilation and playlist.

"How on earth XoYo missed the charts must remain forever a mystery" (Q, 07/2003)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

"Loading Zones" by Kurt Vile

I've been listening to Kurt Vile since after Smoke Rings For My Halo came out.  I've dug into his early DIY albums and they really have their moments that lead to where he is now.  But he really sounds great with a more slick professional production, starting around 2013's Wakin on a Pretty Daze.

This is an excellent return.  Nice to see him putting out a shorter track.  It's full of everything a Tom Petty fan would probably love if they knew about him, but it's totally Kurt Vile's signature sound throughout. 

"A Brass Band In African Chimes - Extended Version" by Simple Minds

The great thing about extended album re-issues in the streaming era is that everything can come out.  Like this - right at the tail end of their relatively experimental phase before turning into a Big Rock Band that I stopped caring about.  They should have done that album of instrumentals that was always promised.  They were capable of pulling it off at the time.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

"No Drums" by Tim Hecker

Some tracks I'd like to string together to make a 20 or 30 minute megamix.  This is one of them.

Friday, August 17, 2018

"Jazz in the Wild" by Linder Valley

Linder Valley is one of the field recording pseudonyms that I publish under.  The only thing I added to "Jazz in the Wild" is a dose of reverb.  This is one of my favorite field recordings.  It's got so much going on:  the rain drops, the gutters emptying, the distant highway drone, and all the other occasional sounds.  There's no "stereo mix" here - it was recorded that way.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Tom" by Fennesz

I often paint to Fennesz.  I'd like to think that his musical style and my painting style have a few things in common.  These were created while listening to "Tom".  They are titled Electrical Rhythms and Luminator.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"Top of the Hill" by Conduits

They are/were kind of a vaguely shoegaze-y band out of Omaha, NE, and released their album in 2012.

And then... nothing!

Somehow, I discovered Conduits in 2014 or 2015 and added them to a playlist.  I thought the whole album was excellent!  Why wasn't this released on a slightly larger indie label?  Was it even shopped around?

At the time, they had hardly any plays on Spotify.  Today, this track has over a million streams!  It must have made it into some playlist, but the rest of the album's tracks are sitting in the tens of thousands, so people haven't gotten that deep yet.

What happened to this band?  It's great to see their music is finding an audience - ever so slowly.  If this had been released 20 or 30 or 40 years ago the music never would have made it outside of Omaha.  People would be crate digging and buy it just for that album artwork, and then be surprised at how good the music is.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

"Out of Touch" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

I've always referred to Hall & Oates as "Superior Dentist Office Music" - they were everywhere in the 70s and 80s:  AM radio, FM radio, MTV, and especially in waiting rooms.  There was a lot of crap and schlock being played back then, but I never hated Hall & Oates.  It was kind of a relief to hear one of their tunes every now and then, even though I wasn't a fan to any degree.  Their heavy-handed 80s production, good tunes, and blue-eyed soul styling somehow worked well on the crappy, tinny speakers of the day.  Today, every now and then, I'll hear one of their songs in a store or in a waiting room, and it just makes me smile:  "This is superior dentist office music!" - and it's meant as a total compliment.

Monday, August 13, 2018

"Winchester" by Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians

"Element of Light" was one of the tapes stuck in my car's cassette player in 1986, and while "Airspace" is lovely and one of my all time faves, I'm always drawn to "Winchester".  It's so British, oddly collegiate, but oh so dreamy and timeless.  The bass grabs your attention, but check out those drums.

"This is Winchester..."

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"Tied Together" by Dave Douglas + High Risk

Dave Douglas played my town's jazz festival in 2015, but I wasn't aware of him at the time and I discovered the High Risk album not long after he and his band were here and likely played tracks from this album.  I've been kicking myself ever since.  The blend of jazz and electronics really works here, and in the future I hope this album will be rediscovered by more people as the masterpiece I think it is.

Three years after initial release and this track doesn't even have 17,000 streams on Spotify (!)  And how many of those were me?  Quite a few...

Saturday, August 11, 2018

"Don't Know Why" by Slowdive

"Put it in a picture, hide it in a story.  I don't want to know about..."

I was never into Slowdive at all in the 90s when they were around.  After their initial breakup, I had heard subsequent band Mojave 3 a few times, but the style was different.  And yet, I found their 2017 reunion album to be outstanding from start to finish.

Friday, August 10, 2018

"I Should Not Dare (For N.O.)" by David Sylvian

I've stuck with him over the decades, even buying that CD of him and Jan Bang moving boxes around on a floor.  That wasn't my thing, but this, based on an Emily Dickinson poem, is a classic.  And it's hiding on what is essentially a rework of one of his most difficult albums.  You never know what is hanging around unless you dig deep.

"They 'noticed' me, they noticed me..."

Thursday, August 9, 2018

"Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man

I like "popular" music, too.

What has 500,000,000 streams is usually wrong for me on Spotify, but this is right!

Compact, clever, and catchy!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

"Crossin' The Channel" by Bud Powell

My favorite jazz album is "The Scene Changes" by Bud Powell.  How many times have I listened to this album since I discovered it in the late 1980s?  And yet there's always something new waiting for me.  Some jazz people say that Powell's later stuff doesn't hold a candle to his pre-hospitalization tracks of the 40s, but I don't know.  This just connects with me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

"Jane 14" by Harold Budd

Budd thinks back to a particular piece called ‘Jane 14’ (from his forthcoming album, tentatively titled Jane 12-21), “I had injured my leg,” he says. “I could scarcely walk at all, and I did a piece with multiple wine glasses only, and that’s all there is to ‘Jane 14’.

“I recorded it laying on the couch with my leg in the air to get the blood flowing correctly, and no piano, nothing, just these wine glasses. And at random went through them six times, so I had a fairly thick track of just these random wine glass sounds – being hit by little teeny screwdrivers or thumbnails. I had no idea what was going to happen. So I have two and a half minutes, that was long enough for me, I got bored.

- FACT Magazine (title of the track in question is corrected here from the original interview)

Monday, August 6, 2018

"Subtext" by John Foxx & Harold Budd

When Translucence + Drift Music came out, in 2003, I had to buy it as a UK 2xCD import.  It was probably the last "import" I ever bought.  What a foreign concept that has become.

Also, nobody owned this record back then. 

And yet, in 2018, the streamers carry it for all to hear.

As of this writing, "Subtext" has over 25 million streams.  Yay!  That's a victory for this kind of music.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

"'83: Foxx and I" by The Magnetic Fields

John Foxx said he was "flattered and delighted" after hearing it.

That's sweet.

"Not like rock stars at all...  Why would we want to be?"

 From the playlist "2017 Picks by DJ Rushton"

Saturday, August 4, 2018

"I Can't Stay Long" by Ultravox

"Its influences are diverse and it emerged out of nowhere and led to nothing" said a review of Ultravox's Systems of Romance at the Head Heritage site.  That describes it perfectly.  I didn't explore John Foxx-era Ultravox until recent years, and it's touch and go for me, but there's something incredibly special about "I Can't Stay Long" - a band giving it's all in every capacity - the lyric, the vocal, the guitar work, the bass line, the driving beat... everything.  And it did lead to nothing - the original band broke up after this album.  This wasn't even a single!  And yet, 40 years later, I think it's awesome.  A true classic.

Friday, August 3, 2018

"The Beach" by Peter Hook & The Light

Peter Hook was always the most interesting member of New Order, what with his "low-slung, legs akimbo, bass manipulation".  I've read all his books, which were very entertaining, but I didn't know until recently that he and his band The Light had released live versions of all the old Joy Division and New Order tracks.  They're all quite good, musically, even if some the vocals here and there are far from perfect at times - although Barney was probably more of a shit live singer than Hooky.  "The Beach", of course, is the instrumental B-side to "Blue Monday", and only has an electronically processed voice, so no worries here.  I'm kind of amazed they covered this!

This is in my Spotify playlist 2018 Picks by DJ Rushton

Thursday, August 2, 2018

"The Unveiling" by Noveller

I discovered this via the excellent Stasis Report playlist on Spotify.  I'd go for a walk at work and play this track. It was near the top of the playlist for a few weeks.  I'm not one of those people who walks around looking at my phone all the time, so I didn't know the name of the track or the artist.  Then that guitar line just kept re-entering my head when I wasn't listening to it, so I had to figure it out by going through the playlist.  And I like how the guitar disappears about halfway through the track, replaced by a haunting ambient collage of bells and wind and other sounds.

This is in my Spotify playlist 2018 Picks by DJ Rushton.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

"Dreamland Avenue" by Bill Nelson

Back in the early 1980's, when I first discovered Bill Nelson's early solo albums, I thought he was the epitome of a future-thinking artist:  he broke up his famous 70s rock band because he didn't want to be a human jukebox, went New Wave, and then went completely indie and released album after album of instrumental and home-spun recordings.  Along the way he got jaded by the industry through bad contracts and lawsuits.

Sadly, Nelson never graduated to the internet era, and has purposefully kept what seems like 98% of his controllable recordings, a huge number - the guy seems to come out with a new solo album every couple of months - off the streamers.  He'd rather release limited edition CDs from England.  While it's perfectly within his rights to do such a thing, I find it to be a goddamned shame.  Nelson's completely missing out on the rest of the world.

You look at somebody like Harold Budd, who is friends with Nelson, and yet Budd has most of his recorded oeuvre on Spotify and everywhere else.  Somehow, Budd's music has seeped into various playlists, found a new audience, and he has a ton of tracks with more than a million streams, and quite a few above 10 million.  I'm sure his royalty checks today are a dream he couldn't have imagined back in the 1980s.

I really think the same thing could have happened to Bill Nelson.  "Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights" should have zillions of plays.  It's not even available.

But "Noise Candy" is available - a boxed set of home-made albums released in 2002 - and the only "modern" Bill Nelson recordings on the streamers after the early 80s - a micro-fraction of what he's produced and released since then.  Noise Candy is not for the uninitiated, but individual tracks can be, like Dreamland Avenue. 

If there are guitars here, they're well-disguised as synths.  The singing is almost quiet talking.  But the whole thing has a lovely psychedelic and jazzy feel.  There should be an audience for this kind of music, but sometimes the artist makes it so difficult for themselves.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Waltz No. 9" by Dubstar

18 years after calling it quits, Dubstar shows up with a new single via my Spotify Release Radar playlist.  I liked their blend of dark-ish pop in the late 90s, and this continues their style.  At the present time, their back catalog is totally unavailable on Spotify.

This is in my Spotify playlist 2018 Picks by DJ Rushton

Monday, July 30, 2018

"Hahaha" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

I was a big fan of OMD until they changed their style to become more overtly commercial in the mid 1980s.  I checked in over the years, even after their reformation in 2006, but have mostly stayed on the sidelines.

Then I happened across this - a sprightly instrumental with sampled voices buried at the end of a "B-sides and Bonus Material" album released in 2017.  It has all the earmarks of their earlier, experimental work, while being irresistibly poppy and commercial, and yet sounds modern and fresh.

This is in my Spotify playlist 2018 Picks by DJ Rushton

Sunday, July 29, 2018

"Semifinal" by The OO-Ray

I've been listening to The OO-Ray (Ted Laderas) since at least 2009 when he showed up on SoundCloud.  The Orrery, from his 2011 album Astoria, still gets regular plays by me.

Lately, I've been working my way through his latest album of cello+electronics and happened across this spectacular nugget of gorgeousness.  Among all the other sounds, I love the seemingly syncopated bass line in the first part, and the appropriate glitch near the end.  It's one of those tracks where I keep hitting the 'repeat' button over and over.

This is in my Spotify playlist 2018 Picks by DJ Rushton.

"Dealer" by Scott Walker

It's a dreamy, beautiful thing from the early 80s that bridges Walker's late 60's gloomy orchestral output and his descent into Euro intellectual industrial madness in the 90s to present.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A Wire Of Knots - A Music Blog by Mark Rushton

Hi, I'm Mark Rushton.  

"A Wire of Knots" is my music blog.  

I'll be regularly posting music recommendations of old and new recordings here.  

Most music will have links or embeds to Spotify.

As you'll discover, my tastes are idiosyncratic and eclectic.  

I'll try to keep the writing as brief as possible.