February 5, 2009

Customer Picks No. 3

This is Jake. We love him...

The Hold Steady, Stay Positive. Dudes have been awesome pretty much since jump and yet missing their shows always seems like a good idea at first ($28 at the Electric Factory?). This jawn makes me feel consistently stupid for doing so. Seriously, Craig Finn should get shot outside Hot 97 for spitting lyrics like these. They've always been conspicuously aware of their place in the rock matrix, making sure to give props to their forebears and influences, but on this album they've made steps toward diversification by incorporating punk rock into their world view. By repping HC dudes like Husker Du and 7 Seconds they're trying to move beyond all that "world's greatest bar-band" half-praise and demonstrate their full commitment to rocking people's faces off. In Finn's almost obsessive referencing of the past he's like a Midwestern Nas, minus the whole imaginary-drug-kingpin thing but with better beats. And solos! Sweet, sweet guitar solos arching heavenward to ball-tap Jesus. I don't think I'll ever get tired of listening to this. And hopefully they'll start a heavy "in '88 you was gettin' chased in your building" beef with with like Vampire Weekend or something.

EROC, EROC 1-4. Though not the harshest Krautrock releases, these are probably the strangest in terms of stylistic variety. Covers the distance between "Peking O" freakout stuff and the more deliberate, heavy keyboard Michael Rother post-NEU! stuff. All four of these albums rule so hard. They also have funny liner note pictures. And sometimes sound like a German Swell Maps. Really silly, unexpected and forehead-smacking. Accordion jams, reverb experiments, glass-breaking noises, uncomfortable orgasm noises, children singing... all awesome! The fourth album is the best album I got in all of 2008, especially the unholy quartet of songs coming in the middle of its second half; "Detleft Ist Weg", "Die Kinder Zeihen Fort", "Der Prophet" and "Sonntagsfahrt" gracefully transition from dorky proto-hip-hop to dorky big drum "Owner of a Lonely Heart"-kinda thing to the undisputed champion of minimalist funk to a tune perfect for a jaunty ride on the sun, respectively. Breathless! Seriously, "Der Prophet" is so smooth it's illegal. I heard some jerk on the train say that he had "the most diverse musical taste ever... from Carrie Underwood to Atreyu". These EROC albums were probably made to hospitalize that kid. Buy them!

Endless Boogie, Focus Level. Non-stop post-ZZ Top-rock. These guys are pretty old, which is cool, and rock on each riff for a really long time. Like Circle's extension of Priest/Motorhead biker-rock on Sunrise, dusty Billy Gibbons-isms are expanded to incredible lengths and effect. Probably the only record whose FFO recommendation lists both Mogwai and George Thorogood. But they're freaking zillions times better than each. Best part: "Gimme the Awesome". Song circles around amiably but with definite purpose until bursting out with great volume. One of the best builds since Electric Wizard's "Funeralopolis", which is totally crazy because that song is the greatest.

Kreator, Pleasure to Kill. This didn't get reissued this year or anything but I didn't get it until around October or so so I'll count it anyway. It basically puts together most of the coolest aspects of thrash and early black metal, so you can have the imprecise, wind-tunnel blastbeats and unearthly vocals of the black stuff but with the low end of thrash! Like if you could hear the bass on a Bathory record! Kreator rocks super hard. Playing "Under Pressure", "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" and the title cut from this album at the same time is a very worthwhile experience.

Om Shanti Om. Probably the funniest and funnest movie I've seen in the last seven months. If you don't know your Prem Chopra from your Johnny Lever most of the jokes won't really seem very funny but the film has such a chillin' attitude that it's easy to overlook the barrage of in-jokes and cameos. Plus, Shah Rukh Khan, the king of '90s Indian cinema, is back in action and ready to rock to a ridiculous extreme in this movie. The dude is ripped like Hulk Hogan's shirt. It's insane. Aaaaaand, the film features an incredible song called "Dard-E Disco", meaning "the pain of disco". Or maybe "the disco of pain". Either way it's the best. Somewhat like a slicker Lindstrom.

Steinski, What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006. Given that this is predominantly a samples and scratching record it could follow that his jams succeed or fail solely on than the sum of their parts. And since he's dropping in samples of super-sweet stuff like Rufus Thomas, Gilbert Gottfried, "Stop in the Name of Love" and, best of all, "Break Dance Electric Boogie" it's easy to get down with this jawn from a parts-to-whole standpoint. Yet when we engage this comp more holistically it totally holds up, qualitatively speaking. Like the best modern mash-up stuff, shit's got a really smooth internal flow, avoiding the feeling that he's just artlessly clumping samples, no matter how neat, into a piecemeal ball. I told my dad about this record and he said, "Oh, so it's like that Girl Talk guy?" Go my dad! The stuff on the first disc that Steinski rocked without Double D has a couple embarrassing moments, most notably a track with Chuck D that sounds like the trailer music for a late '90s rave movie. But the first tracks are so sweet that who cares?

February 2, 2009


Celebrate RECORD STORE DAY on April 18th, 2009 with Repo Records.

Exclusive CDs, 7" singles, and posters...get 'em while they last...only on April 18th!


Matador Record Store Day Limited Edition Vinyl:

Pavement: Live in Germany [Cologne, 1997]

Pay No Mind 7"

A1: Sonic Youth: "Pay No Mind" (Beck cover)
B1: Beck: "Green Light" (Sonic Youth cover)

Hang Them All 7"

A1: Jay Reatard: "Hang Them All"
B1: Sonic Youth: "No Garage"