GOLD SOUNDZ: Our Favorite Music Of Right Now

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So, I walked into a.k.a. Music, and grabbed a copy of the new two CD re-issue of Some Girls by The Rolling Stones. My first thought was of the time I bought the original release 33 years ago at Third Street Jazz, which was located just one block away from a.k.a. Secondly, I recalled that when the Stones went into the studio to make Some Girls, and how they ended up recording nearly 70 songs, the bulk of which formed the nucleus of the albums that would come after, namely Emotional Rescue in 1980 and Tattoo You in 1981. I then examined the package and took notice of the titles of the unreleased tracks on Disc Two, and I figured if these songs didn’t make it to the previous three releases, then how good could they actually be? Feeling somewhat dubious, I turned around, held up the album and asked a.k.a. owner Michael Hoffman, my friend of 40 years, “Do I need this?” Mike just smiled and said, “Yeah, I think you do.”

During the years 1976-1978, The Rolling Stones became The Rolling Sponges and soaked up a lot of the punk and disco that was spilling in the culture at http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7031/6521901335_77808f9cdf_m.jpglarge back then. Some Girls absorbed those two genres, and the result was a fiercely raw and indubitably energetic record and frankly, the last great Stones album. This new re-issue brings a greater sense of clarity to the Some Girls listening experience. Kinda like when you first heard the album on compact disc after years of only knowing the sound of the record from vinyl. There’s a silkier separation between the guitar weaving of Keith Richards and Ron Wood, but not too much; they left all the grittiness in. Mick Jagger’s vocals are slightly brighter, and on “Miss You” he even has a breathier whisper. The star of this remastering job is Charlie Watts’ percussion. His snare shots seem to snap harder with crispier loudness, and his offbeat rolls just flourish throughout the entire record. I guess this is what happens when you get more bits for your bucks.

Now, as to Disc Two and these twelve unreleased tracks? It’s like jumpin’ back in a flash to 1978, and finding out the Stones just released a true companion to Some Girls. Most of these songs were either unfinished outtakes, or bits and fragments of songs. Consequently, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and producer Don Was recently went into the studio to make completed songs from the material recorded during the original sessions. The Jagger/Richards songs are heavy on blues and country like “When You’re Gone” and “No Spare Parts,” or the fiery boogie of “Claudine.” The cover tunes are straight out gems. Whether it’s the sad beauty of Keith Richards’ interpretation of Waylon Jennings’ “We Had It All,” or the Glimmer Twins and their wonderful treatment of Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” or the romp and stomp of Freddie Cannon’s “Tallahassee Lassie,” they all embellish this delightful dozen. The result is a replete extension of the original work which contains no alternate takes, no overly familiar poor quality songs first heard on bad bootlegs, but a new Rolling Stones album that is truly terrific. — COLONEL TOM SHEEHY

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7157/6521901403_47e5931158_m.jpgTHE DIRTY BEACHES

Badlands

The debut full-length by Taiwanese-born Canadian lo-fi minimalist/one man band Alex Zhang Hungtai, slightly better known by his stage name Dirty Beaches, sounds like a speakers-blown transistor radio tuned to The Geator stuffed into the back pocket of some poor fucker whacked-and-hacked by Joe Pesci, tossed overboard and currently resting in pieces at the bottom of the sea. No wait, it sounds like prom night 1958 on angel dust right before the flying saucers land and worlds collide. Scratch that. It sounds like there’s a David Lynch movie in my pants and everyone’s invited. No, no, no. WTF does that even mean? Here you go: It sounds like Chris Isaak has fallen down a well — all fractured waxen pompadour and contused pretty boy Presley cheekbones and up to his neck in the mossy wet — singing Sun Studio b-sides while waiting for little Timmy and his dog Lassie to bring back help. Run, boy! — JONATHAN VALANIA

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7004/6521979501_791bec89cc_m.jpgKING GEEDORAH

Take Me To Your Leader

Recently, I’ve thrown myself headfirst into MF DOOM’s universe, which contains some of the most rewarding hip-hop of recent years, but his vast amount of output will take over your life for a while. On this 2003 record, he appears not as DOOM but King Geedorah, the three-headed dragon monster from the Godzilla films, with even more sonic and lyrical left-turns than normal. The album plays as a transmission from another world, varying from smooth soul beats backing monster movie samples to rapidly shifting space-fucked rhythms left stuttered light-years ago from the trip down to Earth. – BRYAN BIERMAN

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7150/6522151899_a317f30f1e_m.jpgTHE FALL

Ersatz GB

The Fall’s sole surviving member, irascible frontman and head boss in charge, Mark E. Smith delivers his 29th (or so) record in more than as many years. On this his latest missive against the modern life in general and Great Britain in particular, Smith continues to confound, exhilarate, mystify, engage, and even thrill the listener to dancing. Targets of his lyrical derision include various “malefactors”, among them Danish rock TV, Snow Patrol, pets, and the state of New York. Supported by a relatively stalwart line-up (they’ve lasted several records, which is rare and deserves a medal or a monument), MES’ trademark vocals are distilled into equal parts acerbic bark, menacing gurgle and enigmatic slur. Wobbly mutant rockabilly? Check. Reverently tender English pop song? Aye. Phlegm-choked heavy-metal curses and imprecations against humanity? You betcha. Long-time fans may be surprised to learn that Smith hasn’t yet drowned in the Atlantic ocean’s worth of lager he’s surely swilled over the years, nor has he lost his uncanny ability to conjure a racket that sounds refreshingly like right now. These days, sounding Fall-ish may be close enough considering their long history, but John Peel’s description of his self-avowed favorite act still holds true: Always different, always the same. — BRIAN MURRAY

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7015/6522016495_b83ffae174_m.jpgTHE GREEN MIST

Next Stop Anarctica

This debut by Australia’s The Green Mist rattles its way across the Tasmanian prairie like the devil himself.  From the album opening notes of “Black Louie’s Ambergris,” you know we ain’t in Kansas anymore. The Green Mist is one of many projects by Aussie artist, filmmaker and musician Julien Poulson. With help from Spencer P. Jones of The Beasts of Bourbon on slide guitar and the Violent Femmes’ Brian Ritchie (who now lives down-under and has a day job selling tea) on acoustic bass, Poulson creates a dusty, guttural soundscape that will drop you straight through the planet and land you firmly on the other side, where the toilets flush the wrong way.  I had never heard of Poulson before I happened upon this disc while perusing Myspace back when that still seemed like a good idea. I immediately fell in love with it, actually bought it (if you can possibly believe that in this day and age) and four years later I still find myself coming back to it time and time again. I just put it on again today as a matter of fact, while I was I was building my getaway car in the shed. Getaway car, you ask? Oh, you’ll see.  — PETER MARSHALL

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7014/6522041831_d79b8495e5_m.jpgTHE WHO

Quadrophenia

I realize this album is about a zillion years old by now, but with the so-called “directors cut” about to be released on remastered digital and vinyl along with lots of other collector’s edition goodies, I figured it was time to give this album some love. It’s a loose concept album based around the character of Jimmy, a late-teen mod living with his parents in London, who really just lives for looking sharp, brawling with the rockers, jerking off face down, taking uppers and dancing. On paper he’s a loser. But The Who still bothered to write an album about him so he obviously has some redeeming value and here it is: He’s you and he’s me, he’s every square peg getting pounded into a round hole world with the hammer of encroaching adulthood. But when you turn it up to 11, none of that really matters. It smells like miserablist teen spirit but it feels like freedom. — JAMIE DAVIS

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7160/6522131995_c0237e4343_m.jpgBLACK MILK & DANNY BROWN

BLACK & BROWN

Danny Brown is hip-hop’s answer to Roger Rabbit. Coming fresh off of two free LPs, XXX and The Hybrid, his newest album is a collab EP with Detroit super-producer Black Milk. The mixture is fantastic, and both bring their A-game. Both Danny Brown and Black Milk are known to go apeshit at the drop of a hat, but they hold each other down on this one. Whether discussing the cunnilingual advantages of having a chipped tooth or baking cookies with Louis Vuitton oven mitts, Black and Brown contains the type of wordplay you’ll remember all your life, for better or worse. Ultra-dope, this shit gets a thumbs-up and a golden-star sticker from your boy. — MATTHEW HENGEVELD

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7028/6522628425_0a238b3125_m.jpgJULIUS HEMPHILL

DOGON A.D.

It ain’t all about Blue Note, Verve, and Impulse, ya know. Case in point, one of the monuments of jazz history is saxophonist/composer Julius Hemphill’s 1972 debut, Dogon A.D., originally issued on the Mbira label, now reissued by International Phonograph. The album is the fruits of The Black Artist Group (BAG), a multi-disciplinary art collective from St. Louis that would soon invade New York to seed the 1970’s “Jazz Loft Scene.” Dogon A.D. gives you an idea of how flat-out shocking their talents were. The 15 minute title track is a piece of slow-loping funk, driven by Abdul Wadud’s moaning cello and Philip Wilson’s cracking snare. Baikida Carroll’s trumpet clears the way to the monstrous Mr. Hemphill; strutting, and blowing a blues-infused strings of ingenious choruses. Like Nile Rogers, Neu , Fela, or Super Bad James Brown, the tune has one of those 1970s beats that you hope never ends, and at 14 plus minutes, its feels like it never will. — DAN BUSKIRK

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7149/6522189441_c361f10704_o.jpgVARIOUS ARTISTS

WRDV 103.7 FM

If you’d told me when I was a 14 year old punk rocker with an almost unhealthy Dead Kennedys obsession that I’d grow up to be a 41-year-old man who spends most of his time listening to Glenn Miller and the rest of grandma’s big band collection, I would have probably puked from laughing so hard. But that’s how it’s worked out, which is why my jam is 103.7 WRDV. It’s a tiny community radio station, with a signal from Warminster, Hatboro, and a very weak signal in South Philly. Ninety-nine percent of the playlist is big band: Betty Hutton, Glenn Miller, Louis Jordan, Dinah Washington, and buckets of Gershwin. In many ways, it’s like hopping 70 or so years back in time, and it’s not just the music. The DJs don’t talk to you like you’re a toddler. They don’t yell either. The few ads they run are from small, local businesses. And there’s very little in the way of news. It’s my secret oasis at the top of the dial…and now yours. — BRENDAN SKWIRE

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7005/6522216419_b96b77c242_m.jpgLAURA MARLING

Creature I Don’t Know

A spectral collection of fables and revelations, A Creature I Don’t Know hints at existential mysteries far beyond this mortal coil. Simultaneously transparent and opaque, indie Brit-folk phenom Laura Marling displays a wit and wisdom far beyond her 21 years. Her voice ranges from lilting to gravelly and straddles musical eras of past and present, channeling Fairport Convention sorceress Sandy Denny (most notably in the album-closing “All My Rage”) and the anarcho flair of Ani DiFranco (à la “I Was Just A Card”).  From the foreboding “The Beast” to the playful “Sophia”, Marling’s shape-shifting vocals and mesmerizing guitar-picking is the closest you can get to the ecstatic dream logic of schizophrenia without being prescribed Haloperidol. — MEREDITH KLEIBER

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7003/6522232873_7ced27545b_m.jpgTERRI LYNE CARRINGTON

The Mosaic Project
Drummer, composer, producer and vocalist Terri Lynne Carrington has been on the scene for over 20 years, and her interpretation of jazz has always blurred the alleged boundaries of the genre. She’s a self-proclaimed jazz head who creates complexly evocative melodies and harmonies cross-bred with funk, soul, and pop elements. Her latest effort, The Mosaic Project, is an ambitious, multifaceted CD featuring a distinctive, all-star female ensemble that includes Anat Cohen, Linda Taylor, Nona Hendryx, Angela Davis, and Esperanza Spalding, among others. They each provide a myriad of pigments, shapes and textures that coalesce into a heady mosaic between your ears. The Mosaic Project is mostly comprised of originally works, but there are also some flavorful covers of classic tunes by The Beatles (“Michelle”) and Al Green (“Simply Beautiful”). For those of you who claim you don’t really like or understand jazz, this is the perfect bridge between bebop and hip-hop. Pay the toll and walk across.  — ZIVIT SHLANK

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