Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Fall
Your Future Our Clutter
Domino USA
9 song CD/LP (w/bonus tracks)

After 28 albums over the past three decades, Mark E. Smith is as acidic and bitter as he ever has been, and he surely has not mellowed one bit. This latest installation from The Fall only shows Smith's true age in his dissolving enunciation. Whereas in the past he would accentuate each syllable with a precise stab, now he seems to mumble and murmur his way through his abstract lyrical rants. Truthfully, it does not detract from the overall tone or message, because he never really made any sense to begin with. It only makes him sound more punk, more nonconformist, more crotchety.

His backing band (or should we say his band for the moment) is tight and focused, providing a solid groove for Smith to smash his meandering prose against. And smash it he does. He sounds as much like the raving mad lunatic as he did way back when, yet he somehow makes it seem so fresh and exciting. Like most of anything done by Smith and his Fall, you can't help but love to hate it.

MISH MASH Mandate: Fallout
The Fall @ Domino USA

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Changing Horses
The Nashville Sessions
Mixtus Media
6 song EP

Changing Horses delivers a wallop of fantastically funky folk in a mere six songs in their debut release. This UK-based duo, made up of Richard Birtill and Francesca Cullen, has mastered the art of quirky Americana, displaying a knack for folksy acoustic pop ditties that stick in your ears like glue.

Why does it work so well for these Brits? Perhaps it's the fact that they ventured across the sea to specifically record these tunes in Nashville, who knows? Whatever the reason, it works just beautifully. Birtill's vocals are delivered in a half-yell, as if he's a manic street preacher reaching out to whoever will listen, giving the music a feeling of urgency and desperation that makes it come alive when you listen. Can I get a witness?

MISH MASH Mandate: Dynamic Duo
Changing Horses on MySpace

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Chris MacAlister Band
E-mails & Killer Wails
11 Song Free Download

Chris MacAlister's sound is a finely blended mix of heartfelt singer-songwriter-styled music and raw power pop.
It's a catchy kind of pop, but not sugary or syrupy in execution, if anything it's a little quirky. His voice is unassuming and endearingly amateurish, sort of a boy-next-door who just happens to sing while strumming his acoustic guitar. If I had to make comparisons, I'd probably go with Alex Chilton/Big Star, without the big riff guitars.

The album started out as a solo project, but a band sprung up around MacAlister and his tunes, adding a group dimension to an already awesome group of songs. And, as it is available as a free download, you absolutely can't go wrong, only right.

MISH MASH Mandate: Acoustic Power Pop
The Chris MacAlister Band Website

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Margaret Little
Senza Continuo
ATMA Classique
23 track CD

This is a beautiful collection of solo works for the viola da gamba (or viol), as performed by Margaret Little, in her first solo effort. In case you're not familiar with the instrument, the viola da gamba is a cousin of the lute, and comes in a variety of sizes, from treble to contrabass. It looks like a cello, but has six strings instead of four, and has a different tuning. The CD booklet covers some of the history of the instrument, along with an overview of the composers that are showcased.

The sound of the viola da gamba in Little's hands is striking. There is a depth and range that surely sets it apart from other stringed instruments, with soaring high notes and resounding bass that jumps dynamically from the speakers. Her approach has a romantic feel, and her connection with the viol shines through, rich in emotion and feeling. The sound quality here is phenomenal, and I dare say this would be an audiophile's delight when showing off an audio system.

My favorite piece on the album is Little's rendering of Tobias Hume's The First Booke Of Ayres, where the viol is not only played with a bow but is also strummed. The piece is sometimes dramatic and at times playful, with titles of movements like Tickle me quickly and Touch me lightly. It's an adventurous piece that ventures outside expectations and makes this recording a must have for lovers of solo string performances.

MISH MASH Mandate: String Theory
Margaret Little @ ATMA Classique

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The World According To John Coltrane
Masters Of American Music

If you are familiar with Coltrane, you realize there is a spiritual element to his music that reaches beyond the notes into another part of the universe. But simply listening doesn't tell the full story, as this episode from the Masters Of American Music documentary series aptly demonstrates. Seeing Coltrane play adds a new dimension to the sounds, as we watch him put his heart and soul into the music.

The documentary was produced about twenty years ago, and it has been restored and digitally remastered for release on DVD. It features interviews with a number of musicians who knew and played with Coltrane, including Rashied Ali, Tommy Flanagan, Wayne Shorter, and his wife Alice Coltrane. As they expound on the spiritual side of Coltrane and his musical history, their interviews segue into live performances of Giant Steps, So What (with Miles Davis), My Favourite Things, and Reverend King Alabama. The power and scope of his talent comes leaping off the screen --- you see the sweat, the effort, and the emotion that went into creating his sound.

My only complaint is that it's only an hour long, which is barely enough time to scratch the surface. At any rate, it is an excellent introduction to Coltrane if you are not familiar with him, and if you are already familiar with the music, this will give you more insight into the man as an artist.

MISH MASH Mandate: Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
John Coltrane Masters Of American Music

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kill Rock Stars
Best Sampler Ever

Kill Rock Stars
Free Download

Just because I love you, dear readers, I'm passing along this link to a free download from Kill Rock Stars. There's some great stuff on here from a big pile of KRS releases, including Elliott Smith, Sleater Kinney, Deerhoof, Xiu Xiu, and Bikini Kill. Sure to tick off your parents, or maybe even your kids if you're an older music hound like myself. Play it loud.

01 ELLIOTT SMITH "Angeles" from Either/Or
02 THE THERMALS "Now We Can See" from Now We Can See
03 GOSSIP "Standing In the Way of Control" from Standing In The Way of
04 THAO "When We Swam" from Know Better Learn Faster
05 SLEATER KINNEY "Oh!" from One Beat
06 PANTHER "Love Is Sold" from Entropy
07 UNWOUND "Corpse Pose" from Repetition
08 THE PAPER CHASE "What Should We Do With Your Body? (The Lightning)
from Someday This Could All Be Yours (Part 1)
09 XIU XIU "Dear God, I Hate Myself" from Dear God, I Hate Myself
10 DEERHOOF "Believe E.S.P." from Friend Opportunity
11 QUASI "Repulsion" from American Gong
12 MARNIE STERN "Transformer" from This Is It...
13 STEREO TOTAL "I Love You, Ono" from My Melody
14 LILIPUT "Ain't You" from Liliput
15 BIKINI KILL "New Radio " from New Radio
16 BRATMOBILE "Die" from The Real Janelle
17 COMET GAIN "Kids In The Club" from Realistes
18 THE SHAKY HANDS "Allison and the Ancient Eyes" from Let It Die
19 THE DECEMBERISTS "16 Military Wives" from Picaresque
20 HORSE FEATHERS "Curs In The Weeds" from House With No Home
21 JEFF HANSON "Hiding Behind the Moon" from Son

MISH MASH Mandate: Killer Diller
Direct Link To Download
Sampler Page @ KRS

Birthing Of Millions
Birthing Of Millions
5 song EP

Birthing Of Millions is a Brooklyn-based progressive rock quartet, led by guitarist/composer/music teacher Brian Naas. The tracks are all instrumental, with a focus on fairly straightforward rock. While they would fall under the term "progressive", they don't go out of the way to be weird or offbeat, as would be the modus operandi of many modern prog bands out there. Instead, they concentrate on a more thematic approach: evolving dual guitar melodies and harmonies that work in conjunction with the rhythm section. Also, you get a feeling that the guys holding back just a little --- like they could show off a little more if they wanted to, but have opted for discipline instead of pointless histrionics. On the surface, this may seem rather cold and calculated, but there is a soulfulness stirring around under there, and it shines through the intricacies as you listen to the EP in its entirety. I can only imagine that these guys really cook in a live setting where they can let loose from the restrictions of the studio.

MISH MASH Mandate: Shine On
Birthing Of Millions On MySpace

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Kristi Callan
with The Jigsaw Seen

Vibro-Phonic Records
2 song iTunes download

Former Wednesday Week vocalist Kristi Callan has teamed up with our favorite modern-day psych garage band The Jigsaw Seen for a double-edged single release called Sleep. Side one (as it were) is the title track, a self-described "edgy lullaby" that has wall-of-sound guitar lines set against a string section, creating a dreamy atmosphere for Callan's soothing vocal lines. The perfect little indie rock lullaby.

And to help with waking up again, the group does a kinder, gentler version of Oasis' Morning Glory, which turns the big guitar powerhouse original into a purring kitten, complete with a hurdy gurdy droning in the background. Just in case you need a little time to wake up.

MISH MASH Mandate: Sleep Perchance To Drone
Download Sleep @ iTunes