Monday, January 28, 2008

Fessenden - v1.1

Fessenden has recently put out a full-length album, v1.1 on Other Electricities, a label that evidently has a fine ear for talent and originality. As soon as I was about a minute into the first track, it became immediately obvious that Fessenden is not just another group of jackasses who think that because they can make noise, they are experimental musicians. In fact, this trio has been making quality experimental improvisations and recordings for some time and this new effort is another welcome step forward.

Their Other Electricities debut is a well crafted, intricate collection of musical ideas that beautifully maintains a balance between sonic microsurgery and grand scope. The five compositions that make up this album form a cohesive musical whole while presenting unique, mature ideas that develop into musical microcosms, building intricate aural images that swirl and pool inside your head. This release is not to be missed.

9.5/10 more information at

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lamar Murphy - In Heaven There's the Sound of Harps...(On Earth the Sound of Screams.)

If Lamar Murphy was a guy that you might risk meeting on the street, he would probably be a sarcastic cynic who would make some unsuspecting passer-by weep at their own ignorance then, minutes later, would have them laughing at the same qualities in everyone else. Luckily, Lamar Murphy is the name of a band who recently sent me a surprising EP that contains some really unexpected music. Even more lucky is the fact that there will be no tears shed on its behalf.

The disc starts out with a couple of songs that are musically akin to recent Anathallo,if not even more light-hearted. The rest of the tracks are varied and well written, featuring some danceable electronics and some very impressive guitar tones. The singing is another thing entirely. The lyrics seem to mock the light-heartedness of the music, but bring such a unique feel to the songs that they cannot be dismissed as a mistake. The sound of the EP overall is very airy and contributes a lot to bringing one of the most pleasant surprises I've come across in awhile.

8/10 More information and ordering at

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Starving Weirdos - Harry Smith

Starving Weirdos have gained a certain amount of notoriety as one of the most interesting groups coming from the west coast right now. Their one-sided LP, Harry Smith, served as my first exposure to their unique sound craft apart from some music found on the Rootstrata website. This music was recorded live and served as a live soundtrack for silent horror films by the record's namesake, Harry Smith. The artwork on this record is as unique as the music itself, with a pasted-on collage reminiscent of older punk LPs. In fact, one of the saddest parts of the experience was having to poke a hole in the art to be able to play the record.

It becomes apparent in the first few minutes of this music that it is being created by musicians attuned to their own vision of sound, and is an exercise in musical patience as much as suspense. The music is as creepy as the films that inspired drove its creation and reflects a solid perspective on the work of Smith, himself. This record is one of the best examples of the development of drone music in recent years. The use of these drones is simultaneously subtle and spectacular. These guys are sure to be among some of the best drone bands out right now and help to keep the music respectable and enjoyable.

Highly recommended, this album is limited to 300 and its a wonder that it hasn't already sold out.

8.6/10 More information and ordering at

D. Charles Speer - Some Forgotten Country

This LP from Soundatone records is my first exposure to Mr. Speer and his work. I always really enjoy encountering albums that come free of preconceived ideas about the music attached, as is normal when reviewing albums and artists that are more familiar to me. This is also the first album that I have reviewed that could fall into the country or bluegrass idioms. Upon first listen, I was immediately pleased with the varied, yet consistent material presented on this album. The vinyl I received does the music justice as the warmer sound of this medium is beautifully matched with the texture and warmth of the music it contains.

The album is a well balanced mix of instrumental and vocal songs that complement each other quite effectively. In fact, while listening to the first track, a joyful banjo driven romp, I was perfectly satisfied with the idea of the record as an instrumental record. Then when D. Charles Speer unleashes his dark, personal singing style, listening to the album becomes a doubly satisfying experience. This album gives the listener a taste of both well written and developed instrumental compositions as well as some talented, lyrical songwriting.

Speer's voice, as cliche as it sounds, is reminiscent of Johnny Cash in some ways, but remains uniquely his own. The singing in this album is starkly personal and the technical imperfections that sometimes permeate his singing lend themselves well to a sort of "homeyness" that is lost on the majority of music that is being put out these days in similar genres. Album as a whole varies from dreamy blues textures to straight-ahead picking. Speer hold his own as both an instrumentalist and a vocalist here, and blows almost anything that feigns to call itself "country" out of the water. This is a great direction for the expansion of a genre that many listeners and critics alike may have long since written-off as dead.

8.7/10 More information and ordering at


Sorry guys, I have been extremely busy with school and Christmas and haven't gotten a chance to write in awhile. I am back, though and hopefully even better than before. Thanks for all of your support and time in reading these reviews, I hope they are helpful and even insightful in places.

Also I will be starting a series of reviews of older records that you might have missed or that are rare pieces of recent musical history worthy of note.

Thanks for reading!