Also the title of Phil Manley’s first solo album, Life Coach is now a (mostly instrumental) rock duo comprised of the Trans Am / The Fucking Champs guitarist and former Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore.
The duo’s first album, out today, features a helluva jam as its lead single, as Manley lays down a wicked groove that’s topped by a raging rock solo from Isaiah Mitchell (Howlin’ Rain, Golden Void). Meanwhile, Theodore — a distinctive drummer in his own right — calls to mind John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and John Stanier (Battles, Tomahawk, ex-Helmet) with his propulsive beats. Enjoy the live-action video as projected landscapes paint the boys’ white-robe canvases.
Last month ALARM presented its 50 favorite albums of 2012, an eclectic, rock-heavy selection of discs that were in steady rotation in our downtown-Chicago premises. Now, to give some love to tunes that were left out, we have our 50 (+5) favorite songs of last year — singles, B-sides, EP standouts, soundtrack cuts, and more.
Another year, another torrential downpour of albums across our desks. As always, we encountered way too much amazing music, from Meshuggah to The Mars Volta, Converge, Killer Mike, P.O.S, and many more.
It may seem strange that the members of Hella have gotten poppier and poppier since the height of their impenetrability from 2005 to 2007. Long-time fans, though, will recognize a penchant for melody amid complexity that dates back to its full-length debut in 2002.
Solos is a new project from Hella guitarist and cofounder Spencer Seim and avant-folk artist / temporary Hella singer Aaron Ross. Following the overt melodies of Seim’s synth-core project sBACH, Solos is a jaunt into slightly more avant-pop territory, combining Led Zeppelin-ish acoustic rock with psych-pop and Seim’s pounding, distinctive beats.
Because the world needs more awesome super-groups, Christian Eric Beaulieu of Triclops!, Cedric Bixler Zavala of The Mars Volta, and special guests Mike Watt (Minutemen) and Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun) have coalesced as a project called Anywhere.
Percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Martin Dosh, better known as simply Dosh, is known both for his electronic-based solo venture as well as his work with Andrew Bird, with whom he’s toured and recorded. The instrumental track is Dosh’s specialty; “Simple Exercises,” which first appeared on Dosh’s 2004 release, Pure Trash, reappeared on Bird’s Armchair Apocrypha in 2007 as “Simple X” with an addition of lyrics. In the piece below, Dosh explains what drew him to instrumental music and how a few classic, lyric-less tracks continue to inspire his own music.
The Alchemy of Instrumental Music by Dosh
I think my interest in music and sound really began when i was around nine or 10 years old; that is to say, that is when I really began LISTENING to music, to the ways instruments and voices worked together, trying to separate the sounds in my mind, trying to understand which sounds were being made by which instruments, and even what the people that played the music may have looked like. I can’t recall what the first song that really captured my imagination was, but it was likely by Devo or The Cars, maybe Billy Squier. I’ve always listened to the music first and digested the vocals and lyrics later. When I first discovered Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, I found the vocals to be distracting. I couldn’t understand why they were there; they seemed like an afterthought.
Once I started playing drums, when i was 15, that was all I really heard when I would listen to a song: the drums. And I played a little bit with some friends, but I didn’t truly discover the joy of volume until I went to college two years later. I spent more time listening to music in my first two years than I spent doing anything else — usually as loud as possible. I was lucky enough to have a few friends who had massive record collections, and I listened to everything.
On “Pieces of String,” a track from Alela Diane‘s 2004 record, The Pirate’s Gospel, she sings, “If I had one, I’d play this on piano.” Consider it wishful thinking. Whereas her first few albums, including the self-released Gospel and Forest Parade, are characterized by spare, plucked guitar and airy harmonies about simpler times, Alela Diane‘s newest, Alela Diane & Wild Divine, stretches its legs with a greater sonic palette and higher production value. Despite the warmth and homeliness of her folk tunes, Diane’s a troubadour, and she’s got the playlist to prove it.
Songs to Pack a Suitcase to, with Anticipation for the Highway by Alela Diane
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Atmosphere_Just_for_Show.mp3|titles=Atmosphere: “Just for Show”]
The land of independent hip hop is a dangerous, inconstant place. Giants like Rawkus Records and Definitive Jux, once considered among the most vital sources of hip-hop innovation, have collapsed into footnotes. But Minnesota-based Rhymesayers Entertainment has managed to hold its place in the world of underground rap for more than 15 years, thanks in part to founders Slug and Ant’s flagship duo, Atmosphere.
Atmosphere’s previous album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, broke into the Billboard top 10 — an impressive achievement for an underground hip-hop group, and, as a result, Atmosphere represents to the general public what underground hip hop is. Its latest album, The Family Sign, typifies all of the strengths and weaknesses of indie rap, but it’s unusual and accessible enough to be easily enjoyed. If the genre must have a face, it could do much worse than Atmosphere.
Giving service to the music and the musicophiles who go in search for it, Now-Again Records has released a stunning overview of 1970s Indonesian funk, rock, and psychedelia recordings in an anthology titled Those Shocking, Shaking Days. The title is a perfect summation of the sounds coming from the compilation; deep funk gems and gritty rock riffs are captured in the lowest of lo-fi senses, driven to the head by relentless fuzz guitars, psychedelic howls, and all kinds of general weirdness.
Helmed by Now-Again’s head honcho Egon, with research and crate digging from producer Jason “Moss” Connoy (and the not-to-be overlooked assistance from Indonesian rock legend Benny Soebardja, who secured all the necessary rights), the compilation is what happens when the record-collector gods align everything just right. Add in a thick booklet with groovy album art, eccentric band photos that could only belong to the ’70s, and extensive track-by-track notes from Holland-based Indonesian ex-pat Chandra Drews, Those Shocking, Shaking Days does an incredible job of giving listeners the whole package.
Each week, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.
For Gloucester, MA-based Mystery Train Records, vinyl is the name of the game — it always has been and probably always will be. In fact, the store doesn’t order any new records. If you’re in the area and want to thumb through some carefully selected records — and maybe unearth a true vintage gem or two — look no further. We spoke with one of Mystery Train’s employees, Tim, and he gave us the lowdown on how the Train just keeps on runnin’.
What are the origins of Mystery Train?
Mystery Train began 30 years ago in Harvard Square, Cambridge selling only used vinyl (CDs did not exist), expanded over the years to five stores, then settled back to one large (most vinyl in New England) store in Gloucester, MA. Jack Evans, who originated the business, is now partners with Tim who will continue to focus on providing interesting vinyl for current and future generations of record fiends.