Tuesday, November 30, 2010

R. Stevie Moore - Suspicion

Felt - Ballad of the Band EP (1986)

Isn't this cover photo of Lawrence in his vintage fedora just splendid? I liked it so much I made a Felt-inspired painting based on the image. This “12 EP released in 1986 has a distinct dichotomy between its first two A-side and last two B-side songs and is probably my favorite Felt EP. The first two tracks are classic Felt, indie pop at its finest. “I Didn’t mean to Hurt You” carries a motif of apologetic acknowledgment of malfeasance, while “Ballad of the Band” is about the hardships of maintaining a band on the cusp of commercial success, but never attaining it and presumably about Maurice Deebank’s departure, considering this was released in late ’86 after Deebank had already left (my guess is Lawrence is referring to him in the early in the song “Where you been / haven’t seen you for weeks / you’ve been hanging out with / those Jesus freaks”) The marrow on the record, however, are the gorgeous Satie-esque piano pieces, scintillating with beauty and sadness, and subtly suggestive. They bring to mind lost memories, people and places long eaten by time and were, musically, another horizon tackled by the ever-eclectic band. I’m not sure if Lawrence himself is actually doing the piano work on these, but as Trains Above the City showed (which he didn’t have anything to with outside of titling the songs), its possible it was someone else who did the composing and arrangements. Whichever the case, this is a beautiful record with immense contrast, but which shines with equal measure on both sides.

Rating: 10/10


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Zazen Boys - I Don't Wanna Be With You

England's Glory - Legendary Lost Album (1973)

England’s Glory were the precursor to Peter Perrett’s The Only Ones. Although not widely recognized at the time, the unreleased Legendary Lost Album was recorded in 1973 and had a 1994 CD reissue long after The Only Ones achieved quasi-fame with their hit “Another Girl, Another Planet.” The two bands are not surprisingly quite alike, aside from the production, as the former was a tad bit looser and more lo-fi sounding. The inherent theme of girls and dope are still prominent in Perrett’s early material. If you’re a fan of the Velvet Underground, chances are you’ll dig England’s Glory. The guitar playing is almost identical and Perrett’s voice sounds uncannily similar to Lou Reed’s. NME’s Nick Kent was almost fooled into believing that England’s Glory’s demos were actually bootlegs of Velvet Underground B-sides and outtakes. If you didn’t know better, you might be duped as well.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Orange Juice - Rip it Up (1982)

Rip It Up is Orange Juice’s iconic and seminal sophomore LP. Released almost 30 years ago it has since influenced more bands than you can count on a handful of hands. The titular track was their biggest success as a group, rising to number 8 on the UK singles chart and is seriously one of the catchiest, funkiest, and jammin’est jams ever written. For those not familiar, their sound was a mix of post punk, new wave, funk, and disco behind Edwyn Collins ironic lyrics and low and deep tessitura. From start to finish, the album is a pretty eclectic record; from the super synthesized opening hit to the seamlessly blended African influences on “Hokoyo” to the almost country twang of the closing track, “Tenterhook.” In summary, a classic record from a classic group.

Rating: 9/10


Friday, November 12, 2010

Swans - White Light from the Mouth of Infinity (1991)

"There is no birth of consciousness without pain." - Carl Jung.

The cardinal rule with the Swans is that if you're in a good mood, they'll put you in bad mood, and if you're in a bad mood they'll put you in a good mood. In celebration of their first new material in almost 15 years, I'd like to share with you my favorite Swans album, White Light From the Mouth of Infinity. I'd forgotten how good this album was until it started raining today and I decided to bust it out. It's filled to the brim with ornate, obsidian gems that sound like black angels heralding songs from some banished, forsaken land after having just been exiled from heaven. The level of intensity, especially early on in the album is just through the fucking roof. Throughout their lengthy and caliginous career, Michael Gira and Jarboe made a name for themselves by hammering out dark and noisy post punk and later on more acoustic and experimental material with varying instrumentation. This record is unlike their harsher more abrasive early recordings, - its dramatic, dense, intense, and pluvious - definitely not an easy listening record. There are crescendos galore that will make you feel your blood pumping through your veins. It's fatalistic, epochal and almost comforting and cathartic in a nebulous way, despite its melancholy and violent nature. You can definitely tell that this was a transitional phase for the band's sound, as much of the album is polarized between this loudness and lushness and fantastic combinations of the two. I don't have enough good things to say about this album, besides that you should download it if you don't already have a copy.

Rating: 10/10


Cocteau Twins - Bluebeard

Monday, November 8, 2010

MIX: Sex Appeal


01) The Gist – Love at First Sight
02) Momus – Closer to You
03) Fanuelle – Dirty Loverstuff
04) Go-Kart Mozart – Summer is Here
05) The Freshies – Let’s Go Space City
06) Michel Polnareff – Hey You Woman
07) Chuck Edwards – Ooh La La
08) FX – Les Choces Ne Sont Pas Ce Quelles Semblant
09) Gary Wilson – As I Walk into the Night
10) Mtume – Juicy Fruit
11) Relaxed Muscle – Let it Ride
12) Way of the West – Cars Collide
13) Happy Mondays – Kuff Dam
14) The The – The Mercy Beat
15) Electronic – The Patience of a Saint
16) Sparks – More Than a Sex Machine
17) Paris Angels – Give Me More…Scope
18) The Lightning Seeds – Love Explosion


MIX: Baisers Cosmiques

I advertised this on my facebook as being “the best mix I’ve made in years” and potentially “music to get high and make out to,” however, its not the best mix I’ve made in years (I've made better) and aside from a few tracks which suited my initial intention, turned out to be “music to take a nap to.” So, sorry if I let anyone down. It's still decent and you can still get high and make out to this if you want, it’s just a little low key and slow paced. The title translates to "Cosmic Kisses" Hope you all enjoy.


01) Spectrum - Then I Just Drifted Away
02) Lansing-Dreiden - A Silent Agreement
03) Slowdive - Souvlaki Space Station
04) Michel Polnareff - Computer's Dream
05) Kate Bush - Egypt
06) R. Stevie Moore - I Go Into Your Mind
07) Felt - Spectral Morning
08) Maurice Deebank - So Serene
09) Nick Nicely - The Other Side
10) Ryuichi Sakamoto - Cesaria Evora
11) Simon Fisher Turner - Violet Crumble
12) Cocteau Twins and Harold Budd - Sea, Swallow Me
13) The KLF - Neptune


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Philip Roth - Portnoy's Complaint (1969)

"Come, someone, anyone, find me out and condemn me - I did the most terrible thing you can think of.: I took what I am not supposed to have! Chose pleasure for myself over duty to my loved ones! Please, catch me, incarcerate me, before God forbid I get away with it completely - and go out and do again something I actually like!"

The Fall (2006)

As you can see from the trailer below, this movie is visually astonishing. However, eye candy aside, it's quite captivating and powerful as well, not to mention terribly underrated (61% at Rotten Tomatoes). The plot revolves around Roy, a paralyzed stunt man who meets a mischievous young girl, Alexandria, who is staying at the same hospital as he is. Roy begins to tell her an ostensibly innocuous, yet epic saga in exchange for her getting him morphine so he can kill himself. Despite his ulterior motive, he develops a genuine affection for Alexandria, and she to him as well. The story is presented as Alexandria vividly imagines it, but eventually, fact and fantasy begin to blur and Roy's tale begins to intertwine with his own situation. Alexandria cleverly catches on and tries to save him and his story before its too late. It's a genuinely beautiful and haunting film, brilliantly directed by Tarsem (the mystic emerging from the fiery tree, the Balinese chant/dance, the whirling dervishes, oh my god), and featuring the best acting from a kid I've seen in a long time. "Tarsem's commentary indicates the film was made over a period of four years and incorporates footage shot in over 20 countries, including India, Indonesia (Bali), Italy, France, Spain, Namibia, China (PRC), and numerous others"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Chills - Kaleidoscope World (1986)

It’s hard to not be hyperbolic when talking about The Chills. In my mind, they’re a superior pop band than the Beatles, and Kaleidoscope World is one of the best compilation albums ever put out. But then again I have to confess that I’m avid Beatles hater, so maybe I’m a little biased. Heavenly Pop Hits is another great (and aptly titled) compilation of theirs, but I think Kaleidoscope World has a bit more range and personality. From hearty pop to punk, from vivid, sunny choruses (“Kaleidoscope World,” “Doledrums,” “I Love My Leather Jacket”) to darker, more stygian sounds (“Whole Weird World,” “Dream by Dream,” “The Great Escape”), this collection of early singles captures the subtly of Martin Phillips’ and crew’s diverse and unique ferocity. Sometimes lead by jangly guitar playing, other times with organ melodies at their songwriting forefront. The album goes all over, but you always get the feeling that you’re listening distinctly to the Chills mainly because of Phillips’ subdued vocals, engaging lyrics, and catchy arrangements. If you’re new to The Chills, or if you’re only slightly familiar, this compilation is a must have for all; highly recommended stuff.

Rating: 9.5/10


Updates, or lack of

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. It's been midterms week for me, so I've been swamped with studying and schoolwork and all that fun (read: tedious) academic stuff. Also, my internet connection is still pretty shoddy. I'm working on getting that fixed, but for the time being bear with me on the uploads - I'll get it 'em up as soon as I can.

The good news, however, is that Bigger Splashes has a new team member, good friend, seasoned blogger, and man of exquisite taste, Jezy Gray. We have some plans for the future, involving podcasts and eventually (nerdy, awkward) live broadcasts, but more to come as that develops. Until then, keep reading and listening; we'll keep posting.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

– Ira Glass

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms (1980)

I came across Crazy Rhythms in a coughing fit of serendipity during my Junior year of college. I was sifting through the university’s music library in a fruitless pursuit of some material by The Freshies, when I happened across a charming sky blue album cover with four goofy-looking white guys smirking knowingly back at me. I knew nothing of the critical fawnery this album had inspired over 30 years ago; I was going off little more than a dumb gut reaction to some interesting artwork and a vague familiarity with the name. And that title, Crazy Rhythms – how could I not be a little curious?

It turns out that happenchance wins out again, because this is the kind of album that inspires genuine thanks for your luckily-aligned musical stars. The Feelies’ 1980 debut is at once maniacally restless and unfailingly well-mannered. The constant momentum of the band’s frenzied rhythm section, composed of two full drum kits and an exhaustive arsenal of auxiliary percussion, lays the framework for a viscerally exciting record filled with equal measures of patient slow-burners and momentous ruckuses.

That said, Crazy Rhythms doesn’t play hard to get. Each song, from the jittery in-and-out pop gem “Fa Cé-La,” to the nearly instrumental and all-around ass kicker “Raised Eyebrows,” are all instantly likeable. Somehow the record’s competing dynamics never seem engaged in a shouting match with each other; they sound impossibly cohesive, always operating in conjunction rather than competing for space, even as Glenn Mercer mumble-croons about “The Boy with Perpetual Nervousness” over a seasoned layer of busy – nay, crazy – rhythms and bright, jangle-buzzed guitars.

You could say that these nine muscular pop songs sound like The Modern Lovers trying to break out of an afro-beat drum circle, or that they’re an early nod to the rash of nice-guy alt-rock that populated much of the early-to-mid-90’s. But the safest thing to say about this album is that it is consistently forward-looking. It’s brainy, but not egg headed; accessible, but far from pedestrian. And now seems a better time than any to throw some well-deserved bloglight at Crazy Rhythms, considering last week’s press release announcing that Bar/None will be the proud home of the newly-reunited Feelies’ first album in nearly 20 years. This will be the band’s first release featuring the full original line-up since 1980. Get excited and keep your ear to the grindstone.

Rating: 9/10