>>>>> Wednesday, August 03, 2005 >>

Still got an itch...

...that needs to be scratched?

getLevitation may be dead (at least for now), but that doesn't mean it's over.

Try this on for size.

>>>>> Tuesday, June 28, 2005 >>

Technical difficulties

We were "offline" for a few days due to Blogger erasing part of our template without our permission. Bad Blogger.

Anyway, we'll have a new post up shortly. Thanks for your patience. And in the meantime, enjoy our MP3s of the (last) Week. (See below.)

>>>>> Sunday, June 19, 2005 >>

MP3s of the Week: Dumb and the Ugly

I was first hipped to Dumb and the Ugly sometime last year, via the following blurb from the good folks at Aquarius Records, who had just stumbled across a hidden stash of their 1992 disc, Atmospheres of Metal:
In our experience a lot of the best (and, of course, worst) cds released end up languishing in a forgotten corner of some distributor's warehouse, or under the label owner's bed... It's quite possible for something great but obscure to get released in an edition of 1,000 and then ten years later there's still 700+ copies gathering dust in a closet somewhere. We suspect that this Dumb And The Ugly cd is an example of this (though that's just a guess, maybe it sold well and has been re-pressed). What we do know is that this came out in 1992 in Australia and we liked it then and it's still great and we somehow just got a hold of a few copies. Despite the title, this isn't a "metal" album per se. It IS quite atmospheric, its eight tracks almost alternating between sheer sinister ambience (shortwave sounds, distorted operatic singing, underwatery drones) and heavy-duty guitar riffage a la Helmet or Circle. It's lumbering thud-rock with definite weird arty dark psychedelic pretensions, successfully so. We've only got a few but presumably there's more where these came from...
At the time I was absolutely obsessed with the mighty Circle (who by the way are touring the States this fall!!!), and so jotted this down as a disc to watch out for. Well lo and behold, some three months later, while diggin' around the more obscure corners of ebay, I too stumbled across a copy.

Atmospheres of Metal is powerful stuff, sounding very much like what you might expect from its title. It's atmospheric as hell, loaded with heavy, lumbering, repetitive riffs that cut through the ambience and bludgeon their way into your head. In other words, Earth fans--rejoice!

As a tremendously interesting side note, lead guitarist David Brown was once a member of AC/DC for three weeks in 1976, before being kicked out for "excessive artistic endeavour." I'd love to get some more details on that spat! Nowadays, Brown pals around with KK Null and kicks it with other folks in Melbourne's experimental community.

Check out the songs in the sidebar, hear more samples at Aquarius, or buy the CD direct from Dr. Jim's Records!

N/P Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation

>>>>> Sunday, June 12, 2005 >>

MP3s of the Week: Beard-Folk Cult Grows Larger

While we're on the topic of favorites of the year-so-far, let me throw out the self-titled album by the peculiar-named Akron/Family. They're not a family--rather, four guys--and they're not from Akron--instead, Brooklyn. (Okay, in fairness, they could be from Akron; their bio simply says they migrated to NYC from "rural America".) Their album blew me away on first listen, and continues to do so with repeated spins. It's layered in captivating sonic textures and diverse and often-times subtle, really a perfect summer record for fans of The Microphones, Iron & Wine, and Sufjan Stevens. The fact that they're labelmates to Devendra Banhart on Michael Gira's Young God Records comes as little surprise. Their folk manifesto endorses an organic, homespun music that seems to blossom in big, beautiful bouquets with but a drop of rain. Hear for yourself (in the sidebar to the right).

Oh, how I'm a sucker for the ballad of any and all varieties--traditional, power, period, "thin man", and acoustic. It gets no better than "I'll Be on the Water":

Thinking of you
there's lightning bolts in my chest.
I know you know
I think our love's the best.
If you have to stay
I'll be on the water
catching the next wave.
You can meet me where it breaks.

Couple the lyrics with the simple, walking folk guitar line (very John Fahey as simpleton) and the washed-out electronics, and you have the making of a woozy wonder of a love song.

But, if you like your folk of the Animal Collective variety, check out "Running, Returning", a stunning, percussive number with an interesting background vocal arrangement. Just when you think things can't get more out-of-this-world, we hit the mellow, acoustic bridge which is as gentle as a kitten awaking from a midday nap. Then, cue the Palace Music influence as we head into the homestretch.

Last, but not least, is "Afford". I really could have chose just about any song off this album to wrap up this post. But, I plucked "Afford" because it really plays up the quietness that Akron/Family are capable of. They're the only contemporaries of Sam Beam that I've found to be successful with music so still and vulnerable.

They'll be playing a string of dates along the eastern seaboard in mid-July. I've read that their live show is to die for. Read more about Akron/Family here. But not here.

>>>>> Thursday, June 09, 2005 >>

Songs of The Year, So Far

Though we're not even to the midway point of '05, my record-geekin' mind has already begun thinkin' 'bout best-of lists...though I know it's WAY too early for these things, I can't help myself...I have no self-control...

Anyway, I blame the following two songs:

The Raveonettes - "Ode to LA"
Feist - "Inside and Out"

I know that the Raveonettes track, at least, has been posted quite a few times on a number of mp3 blogs. So shoot me. This song rules the effin' planet! Without a doubt the drivin'-with-the-top-down song of the summer, this is one of those songs that you can sing along to the first time you hear it, and by the end of the first spin it's already an old friend. Much has been made of the fact that Ronnie Spector lends her mighty vocals to this number, and for good reason. She'll always be a goddess in my book, and her "whoa oh oh oh"'s will never grow old.

As for the Feist track, I picked up her much-ballyhooed record, Let it Die, not too long ago and promptly fell--HARD--for this song in particular. The rest of the album has some sparkling moments, but to my ears everything comes together right here. This song has an eighties AM radio feel to it and ultimately comes across like a Sade hit updated for the indie rock '00s...that's right--Sade--you heard me right. You'll know what I mean when you kick this tune over. Seriously, this has the sweetest chorus I've heard in quite some time. Can't get enough!

Well don't I feel like an idiot. The Feist song is a cover of a goddamned Bee Gees tune! Obviously I need to fire my research staff and get a new fact-checker!!! =) Thanks to T-Bon for enlightening me. Looks like I got a Bee Gees record to pick up! Gulp...

Both the Raveonettes' and the Feist records receive my high recommendations, yet neither album as a whole can sustain the brilliance of these two standout tracks. That's why, even though these two songs may very well end up at the top of my '05 singles chart, their respective albums will chart well below that. As for full-length releases, I'm still hooked on the Black Mountain and Antony & the Johnsons records--those would probably be at the top of my list so far--with some serious competition from the new Springsteen and the new Spoon (another band I finally "get"...).

N/P Sandy Denny - Twentieth Century Masters

>>>>> Tuesday, June 07, 2005 >>

Mick Farren's Iggy Pop Impersonation

Mick Farren - "Half Price Drinks"

By 1978, Mick Farren was looking for a different sort of thrill--possibly even turning a buck from this music thing. He'd spent a lotta time away from the stage in the '70s, working as an underground journalist. Vampires Stole My Lunch Money was his return to the recording studio after an eight year layoff. Coming off the success of Iggy Pop's one-two punch from 1977--Lust for Life and The Idiot--Farren's brooding guitars and guttermouth as heard on "Half Price Drinks" seem right at home with the times. This isn't to say that Farren didn't deserve to borrow from someone else for a change; afterall, his original group, The Deviants, more or less jumpstarted England's punk scene in the late-'60s with their brand of amateurish, haphazard, psychedelic blues.

If you're keeping notes at home, that's ex-Pink Fairies axeman Larry Wallis on guitar and Chrissie Hynde on background vocals during the bridge of "Half Price Drinks". As a whole, Vampires--which features some memorable cover art to say the least--is a bit varied, but remains a rock and roll record through and through. It bounces from the Chuck Berry-inspired "I Want a Drink" to the bizzare, Richard Hell-ish "Zombie Line" to the hard-nosed, harmonica-laden blues of "Let Me In, Damn You". For the fan of '70s blooze rock-cum-punk, this one is a must.

>>>>> Sunday, June 05, 2005 >>

MP3s of the Week: More from the Aussies...

Darknerd, my friend, you gots ta be lovin' this kick we're on here at getLevitation. Today's post marks the third in a row from Australian bands of one sort or another. First the fabulous Moles, next the almighty Saints, and now, a number of artists from a spectacular comp called Tales from the Australian Underground: Singles 1976-1989. This Aussie thang wasn't planned in any way, it just sorta happened, and you gotta love the synchronicity. Are there future posts in the works on Men at Work and Kylie Minogue? Uh, stay tuned...

So anyway, I drove down to Champaign again this morning for a Sunday powwow with the noiseboy. Tonight we'll catch a show by The Living Blue, just after we take in some T. Rex videos and the Russ Meyer flick Mudhoney, from which I assume the band took their name. Right now, he's in the other room recording some of my Deviants records while I post these mp3s of the week. And without further adeiux, here are some of my favorite songs from Disc One of one of my all-time favorite comps...we will most likely tackle Disc Two at some point in the future.

Download the songs from the sidebar-->

The Riptides - "Sunset Strip"
A wonderfully catchy song with the revved-up, garage-R&B-meets-pop-punk sound of Stiv Bators' solo stuff. These cats from Brisbane were huge admirers of The Saints, like just about everybody else at the time.

The Scientists - "Frantic Romantic"
The Kim Salmon-led Scientists are probably the fourth-biggest classic Australian punk band, after Radio Birdman, The Saints, and The Birthday Party. A classic in the land Down Under, the vocal harmonies evoke the poppier punk of The Undertones, with a healthy dose of a Johnny Thunders-gone-British for good measure.

Tactics - "Standing by the Window"
One of the noisier and more discordant of the bands featured, Tactics were heavily influenced by the off-kilter art-punk scene in Cleveland (i.e. Pere Ubu), and it shows. This reminds me of the singer from the Crucifucks fronting an early version of Polvo. Genius.

Fun Things - "When the Birdmen Fly"
An ode to who else but Radio Birdman, featuring a 19-year old Brad Shepherd, later to find fame with the Hoodoo Gurus. A light touch of piano in the background adds some melody to the punk crunch. Nice guitar solo.

Makers of the Dead Travel Fast - "Taels of the Saeghors"
A five-piece art collective with the coolest band name ever, Makers of the Dead Travel Fast put forth some truly bizarro shit, totally unlike anything else you've heard. It's like the soundtrack to a John Hughes film played in an aquarium. Oh, and the bubbles, the bubbles! And this song was actually a hit!

This excellent two-disc compilation can still be ordered from Forced Exposure.

N/P Entrance - Wandering Stranger

>>>>> Friday, June 03, 2005 >>

The Saints Come Marching Back

The Saints - "(I'm) Stranded"

If you haven't yet met Australia's other punk rock princes--cousins in spirit to Radio Birdman--then it's time to get the introductions outta the way. The Saints were every bit as relevant as the more heralded Birdman, and their legacy was sealed in 2000 with the release of a two-CD compilation, Wild About You: 1976-1978 Complete Studio Recordings.

Boosted in confidence by the arrival of The Ramones debut record, which only solidified the group's opinion of itself, The Saints booked themselves studio time in June of 1976 and came out on the other side with the single, "(I'm) Stranded". By February of 1977, their debut full-length of the same name dropped and became a small international hit after receiving rave reviews in Melody Maker and Sniffin' Glue. The attention paved the way for the group to bolt for London that summer. Their timing was impecable, even though guitarist Edmund Kuepper didn't care much for being lumped in with Britain's "punk" rockers.

While The Saints never officially broke up, they did become a shell of their former self, all but abandoning their original sound as the band's core members moved on until all that was left was singer Chris Bailey. Fast forward 28 years and we find Bailey performing with a new group of musicians on WFMU's exceptional rock and roll variety show, The Cherry Blossom Clinic. The old tunes--like "(I'm) Stranded", "No Time", "Nights in Venice", and "Know Your Product"--still sound pretty fucking good. Click here, and scroll down to the bottom of the page to listen in.

>>>>> Thursday, June 02, 2005 >>

Retune the Moles

With Cardinal's lone self-titled 1994 record just recently reissued, and compatriot Eric Matthews having just released his first collection of new songs since 1997, now seems like a good time to revisit their work, alongside that of that other half of Cardinal, the Australian-born Richard Davies. I worked at a local record store for 2 1/2 years in the mid-nineties, so I was familiar with both of these gents, and actually owned the Cardinal record for a brief time, but never did delve into their work extensively, being too preoccupied with noisy indie rock of the Touch & Go/AmRep variety at the time.

It wasn't until last year, actually, that I finally got around to examining their respective non-Cardinal catalogs. I think I picked up Matthews' first solo record for a buck somewhere, and was a wee bit surprised at how good it sounded after all these years. My time in LA last spring then turned up a number of Davies' solo records for similar prices, and all of a sudden I had a collection going.

From there, it was time to check out Davies' previous band, The Moles. I managed to land a copy of Untune the Sky on ebay for, again, a ridiculously low price, and I was certainly not disappointed. Featuring material recorded between 1991 and 1992, these eighteen songs bounce around the guitar-based indie pop map, mixing up catchy melodies with occasional feedback and some noisy experimentation. Here's a couple of numbers from that record that I really dig.

The Moles - Bury Me Happy
The Moles - Wires

N/P Salamander - Bent Hemlock