Monday, December 26, 2011

I'd Love To Turn You On - At the Movies #29 - Withnail & I (1987, dir. Bruce Robinson)

The 60’s in England is generally viewed as being quite "swinging" - dolly birds in mini-skirts, paisley-shirted mods hanging around Carnaby Street, Twiggy, Michael Caine. It is one of those times and places, even with the social conflict, drug busts and scandals, that is looked upon rosily - a multi-coloured cultural zeitgeist which gave us The Avengers and Sgt. Pepper. However, we are treated to a different view in Withnail & I, for what comes after the summer of love? The winter of discontent, it appears.
One of those “charming, little” English films, Withnail & I is a tale of two hopelessly unemployed (unemployable?), neurotic thespians and their various uproariously inept adventures. The action initially takes place in their Young Ones-esque North London flat - a living situation so dire they attempt to escape all the horror by retreating to the countryside. An idyllic holiday ensues? Not quite. In fact, things only go from worse to even worse, made worse by their complete lack of survival skills, a parade of unhelpful bucolic-types and randy Uncle Monty (the sublime Richard Griffiths).
Richard E. Grant is utterly mesmerizing as Withnail, a dementedly erudite degenerate, prone to manic bouts of drug and alcohol consumption and spouting delightful, crude Wilde-isms. It's a role of a lifetime and Grant rightfully shot to stardom upon the film's release. His roommate, Marwood (the titular I), played by Paul McGann, is the sweeter and not so hopeless of the pair. It has often been said that this film is (writer/director) Bruce Robinson's semi-autobiographical account of the Aquarian age twilight, and it is easy to see given the level of nostalgic detail. I've always assumed, given the film's title, that indeed Marwood is Robinson, adding yet another layer of pathos.
While I am generally not a big fan of those quotable type of movies - the ones one sees and endlessly recycles the dialogue with one's pals, that being the ultimate point of it. I am, however, guilty of this with some films - the ones I call the "cool quotables," that I find myself endlessly watching, endlessly quoting, etc. The esteemed titles on this list include Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Annie Hall, Blazing Saddles, Spinal Tap and this present gem. Witness: "I've some extremely distressing news...we just ran out of wine," "I demand to have some booze!," "I assure you I'm not, officer. Honestly. I've only had a few ales," "We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!"...and those are just the ones about drinking.
The next time you hear someone shout “don't threaten me with a dead fish!” across a crowded room, you'll know what it's all about.
Withnail & I is the archetypal British cult film, one ripe for discovery here in the States, if for nothing else than a view of England you won't get to see anywhere else.
- Ben S.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fables of the Reconstruction: Woodsman

While on tour earlier this year, the members of Woodsman pulled off to the side of the road in New Mexico on their way to Tucson and asked a local man where they could camp. The man pointed off into the desert and said, “Just drive.” They ended up in “the most beautiful silent place,” says Trevor Peterson, who co-founded the band in Denver about four years ago. “We had a bottle of whiskey, and we sat in the sand and listened to the silence. It solidified for us why were doing this.”
Woodsman is one of the freakier psych bands out there these days. Their brand new EP Mystic Places is a sprawling head trip that ventures through dense and dark spaces of heavy guitar noise that give way to lighter, oddly familiar melodies and breathtaking rhythms.
            “Our intention is to create an environment a listener can exist in,” Peterson says. “We want people to think and have a visual experience as well as an auditory experience. It’s drug music you don’t have to take drugs to get into.”
The band came together when Peterson moved to Denver to attend film school at UCD. He had been living in Frisco, but he couldn’t get a band going up there, even though “a lot of people wanted to jam. But they only wanted to jam Phish and Dead covers, and that gets pretty tired.” In Denver, he found a kindred spirit in
fellow film student Mark Demolar, who is a fan of the more experimental side of the art, in particular the work of Stan Brakhage, who remains a huge influence for the band. “Brakhage’s stuff is so rhythmic,” Peterson says. “It’s the way we approach the art in that there’s a certain omen of chance involved when we make a song. We don’t necessarily have a goal in mind. Brakhage’s films have this quality, this movement and, with the scratching on the film, more hands-on approach, like something pulled out of the ether.”
            They recorded their first album, Collages, over the course of three days in a cabin in Evergreen. “Nothing prepared,” Peterson says. “We just came in and set up the mikes. All fun. No record deal. Nothing to stop us from doing whatever we wanted. We played for three days, and for the next month we dug out the best pieces.”
            They embarked on a heavy tour schedule, crisscrossing the country many times in pursuit of a “vision quest,” which, Peterson explains, has been about existing “in a world so dominated by technology and still have an earthly existence. We keep innovating, but we never get comfortable with any one sound. It’s like we’re trying to create a movie soundtrack for a film without film. In between their travels, they recorded a follow-up EP, Rare Forms, as well as their latest LP Mystic Places in Denver, typically writing their new material while the tapes roll. Their sound has been evolving, Peterson says. “We have been getting into darker territory,” he explains. “The early stuff was open chords, loose strumming. Now it’s heavy. Thicker riffs. More Kraut influenced than Yo La Tengo or Tortoise influenced. Less airy.” They’ve also gotten tighter: “When you play together every night for a month, there’s an unspoken chemistry that develops.”
The band relocated to New York earlier this year, after a late-summer tour that ended there. Mark, the guitar player, was already living there, and they realized if they were going to continue as a band they’d need to be in the same city.  The move has been bittersweet. “I love Colorado,” Peterson says. “I definitely see myself moving back there in a few years. But in the spirit of who we all are as people, we want to explore other areas. And New York is where all eyes are on you.”
Still, Colorado remains a major influence on their music, not only because it was the longtime home of their favorite artist, but because of “all the expansiveness. There’s a lot 

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'd Love To Turn You On #46 - Boards of Canada Music Has The Right To Children

Music Has The Right To Children, like all of Boards of Canada's music, has many applications in daily life. It's the perfect soundtrack for exploring a new environment, reading, or simply gazing at the sky. All of this isn't to say this is mindless lifestyle music that lacks thought and substance. In fact, the closer you get to this record the more nuance you will hear. It's one of those rare albums that is revelatory as background music AND when placed under the microscope - and, it just gets better with repeated listens. 
Electronic music at its heart is about two things - the quality of the sonic palette and the placement of these sounds. Boards of Canada, the Scottish duo of Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin, have mastered both of these elements and rank amongst the best the genre has to offer. Recorded in 1998, the samples and sounds they choose on Music Has The Right To Children are steeped in elements of hip-hop and the early works of Autechre and Aphex Twin. While that may not sound like a relaxing sample base, BoC find a way to keep the urban edge just under the surface while allowing the warmer elements to bubble up.
Music Has The Right To Children, like all great albums, should be taken as a whole, but there are most definitely entry points if you want sublime snapshots of what BoC has to offer. At the top of the heap is the simple and dreamy "Roygbiv." If there was a "single" on this album this would be it. From here there are two directions you can go - ethereal or urban/beat-oriented. For a glimpse of the ethereal side of BoC check out the distant voices and gorgeous floating synth line in "Turquoise Hexagon Sun" or the rich and fuzzy synth washes in "Open The Light." For the grittier side of the band see the endlessly funky "Aquarius" or the glitchy "Telephasic Workshop" where vocal snippets provide the bulk of the percussion. But, ultimately, your best bet is to grab a nice pair of headphones, put this record on and head out for a walk. 
If you like this album I highly recommend the band's entire catalogue, most notably The Campfire Headphase. And, if you ever see me listening to headphones in an airport, walking around a museum or reading - you can bet I'll most likely be listening to Boards of Canada.
Paul Custer

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'd Love To Turn You On - At the Movies #28 - A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) (1951, dir. Brian Desmond Hurst)

When I initially agreed to review this movie, three months ago, I thought, “Hey no problem; December, my favorite X-mas movie - easy peasy right?” Then when I got closer to the due date, I started freaking out - “Oh what the hell can I possibly say about this movie? Everybody knows this tired story.” So, it was with some trepidation that I approached it. I hadn’t seen it in about five years, so as it opened I immediately started seeing things that I had forgotten about or new details about the sets I’d never noticed before. But, as usual the things that draw you into this movie are the almost miraculous writing by Dickens and one of the great performances in movie history by the sublime Alastair Sim.
First Dickens. How rare is it that a short work of fiction so accurately sums up a facet of the human condition that it speaks to literally everyone? How often does a fictional character’s name become an adjective, an insult, a state of mind? What level of genius does it take to think “I’ll take the happiest, most important day in western culture and use it to point out the worst inclinations of mankind?” Dickens did all these things when he wrote A Christmas Carol. All men have the tendency to turn away from the joy of his fellow man and instead see it as the foolishness of simple minds. When one is not happy, it is so easy to see the happy man as an idiot. And that is the lesson of this wonderful parable: one makes the life one has, and your life will be what you make of it. Ebeneezer Scrooge was a crabby old skinflint who hated people and in return was hated by the society he inhabited. It takes an intervention of supernatural proportions to convince him that he is wrong. When he is shown the folly of his ways, he has a revelation and becomes a better person. One might claim that Dickens copped out by resorting to the supernatural, but the three ghosts that visit Scrooge during Christmas Eve merely show him things that are true, and that he already knows. Dickens is really saying, if we look at the world around us, we will see the truth, and the truth can only lead a soul to kindness. This is a simple message that so few have heard, and even fewer have persuasively written about. That Dickens’ tale is so universally accepted as the embodiment of this message speaks volumes about his effectiveness as a writer. Scrooge’s experiences have a universal appeal to all who have seen darkness when looking in the mirror.
Dickens, like Shakespeare, was successful in capturing a fundamental truth about human nature, but bringing this truth to life is actor Alastair Sim whose portrayal of Scrooge accurately takes us from bitterness to fear to joy in less than two hours. Sim, a Scottish actor who made literally dozens of movies gets it just right. In the beginning he can barely contain his contempt for his fellow man, spitting out insults and looking down his nose at anything but the pursuit of wealth. When the spirits begin to visit him he beautifully follows the arc from fear to incredulity, to denial, to anger, and finally being broken down into acquiescence. The movie moves along at a breathless pace, whizzing us through the shame that is Ebenezer Scrooge’s life, as each painful detail registers on Sim’s rubbery face. Through his superb acting we watch a man go through a life changing series of events and find each change in his demeanor credible and heartbreaking. The real revelation of the movie comes in the last twenty or so minutes, when Ebenezer Scrooge, realizing he has made it through the night and is still alive, now has a chance to make amends for his bad behavior becomes a different man. His performance borders on hysterical, yet he shows just enough restraint to make it completely believable.
It was during this last fourth of the film that I found myself crying uncontrollably. I didn’t realize it, but I was taking the journey with Scrooge. Sim’s performance is so accurate, so true to the human frailties that plague us all, and his conversion at the end is so cathartic and joyous that we weep with him, not for him. Here I was dreading this movie, and at the end of it I am having the reaction that I desire from all the best art and yet so rarely get. It’s a small trick - it just requires the best writing in the English language coupled with a career making star turn by a great actor - no biggie.
- Paul Epstein

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Twist & Shout Employee Best of 2011

Our Number One winner for 2011, with 9 votes:
 Tom Waits – 
Bad As Me

Paul E. sez: “The poet of the back alley returns with his first album of new material in quite some time. There is enough clanking, barking and yowling to satisfy fans of his modern style, and the songwriting and lyrics are as intelligent and poignant as they have ever been. He is a mystery: the less he cares about public expectation, the more the public loves him.”

Our Number Two placer for 2011, with 8 votes:
Wooden Shjips – West

Adam sez: “Wooden Shjips are the kings of the new psychedelia.  Hailing from San Francisco (of course) their 2011 release West has shorter songs than previous releases but still plenty of guitar fuzz and trippy atmospherics.  Perfect for your next Freak-Out or Be-In.”

Our Number Three shower for 2011, with 6 votes:
Beach Boys – Smile Sessions

Ben S. sez: “Easily the most anticipated album of my lifetime and beyond. After 45 years, the original Smile recordings got to see light of day in a finished (as possible) form, and showed that not much has really changed in that time. Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks and gang had a mind-expanding vision that is still vital, and even visionary these days. Available in die-hard deluxe and regular casual editions, every fan of 60s pop, psychedelia and anything outside of the box need to pay attention to this.”

Our Number Four mentions for 2011, with 5 votes each:
Destroyer – Kaputt

Christian sez: “New Romantic pop lushness with soft horns and dreamy synths. If you liked Frazier Chorus and Black, then this is right up your alley. ”

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Christian sez: “If you are not a fan already of PJ Harvey, then this is the kool-aid you are looking for. Harvey is known for her soul-baring, gut-wrenching howl, so when she decides to come at you soft and sweet, your ears perk up. Don’t let the sweetness fool you – this album is fierce.”

Our Number Five mentions for 2011, with 4 votes each:
Dengue Fever – Cannibal Courtship

Chris B sez: “Cambodian Pop fueled Beach rock fun with great female dominated vocals and a variety of beats that have you humming along in no time!”

Esben & the Witch – Violet Cries

Brian sez: “This year saw several excellent Goth-styled releases, and the debut by British trio Esben & the Witch is at the top. Their music is both ethereal and engaging, and stunning vocalist Rachel Davies is a true presence. File this proudly next to Bauhaus and Siouxsie.” 

Martyn – Ghost People

Peter Black sez: “Los Angeles based Brainfeeder records released Martyn’s sophomore album near the end of 2011 and it's a stunning addition to their current catalog as well as a perfect of summary of the post-dubstep scene. Representative sounds touch down across the spectrum from West London style 2-Step, dark Croydon rude-boy Dubstep, Drum & Bass, gritty mechanical Detroit Techno and expertly programmed deep house. This album presents a strong experimental edge that expresses Martyn's futurist vision while simultaneously satisfying the listener with repeated exploration. Highly recommend.” 

Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’

Ben S. sez: “In the tradition of great artists, Raphael Saadiq follows up a stone cold classic The Way I See It with an adventurous, idiosyncratic gem. Instead of creating a formulaic clone, Raphael goes beyond the classic soul territory that has served him so well, and dishes up lashings of psychedelia, Prog rock, Gospel and Blaxploitation funk. A riotous success, Stone Rollin' is even better than his previous best.”

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

Doug sez: “St. Vincent continues in the tradition of strong artists such as PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, and Joni Mitchell.  All these women have the ability to write songs that are catchy and artistically detailed.  These may ring as heavy names to be compared to, but over the course of three albums St. Vincent has shown strong vocal abilities, shredding guitar chops, and the ability to write a diverse set of intelligent avant pop songs.  Strange Mercy, the latest, is a definite treat and check out Youtube or her website for covers ranging from Tom Waits to the Beatles.  When I saw her in Denver I was blown away by a solo cover of Nico's ‘These Days’ at the Bluebird Theatre.”

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

Paul E. sez: “Vile plays rock with immediacy and guts, and his attention to sonic detail and vintage equipment lends his psychedelic compositions an air of authenticity. He is creating an impressive body of work, and Smoke Ring might be his finest yet. Pick up the deluxe edition which contains another EP with 6 more songs including an excellent cover of Springsteen’s ‘Downbound Train.’”

Our Number Six mentions for 2011, with 3 votes each:
Battles – Gloss Drop
Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow
Danger Mouse/Daniele Luppi – Rome
Miles Davis – Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

Devotchka – 100 Lovers
Lady Gaga – Born This Way
Little Dragon – Ritual Union
Lou Reed/Metallica – Lulu
Dex Romweber – Is That You In the Blue?
Talk Talk – Laughing Stock (reissue)
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
Tune-Yards – Whokill
Tyler the Creator – Goblin
Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest

Our Number Seven mentions for 2011, with 2 votes each:
Sorry Bamba – Vol. 1 1970-79
James Blake – James Blake
Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical
Cults – Cults
Cut Copy – Zonoscope
Dirty Projectors/Bjork – Mount Wittenberg Orca
EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints
Brian Eno – Drums Before the Bells
Feelies – Here Before
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Francyst – The Bob Special Remix
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
Merle Haggard – Working in Tennessee
Hail Mary Mallon (Aesop Rock & Rob Sonic) – Are You Gonna Eat That?
Black Joe Lewis – Scandalous
Man Man – Life Fantastic
Mastodon – The Hunter
Onemanna – Docking Your Mind With Dirty Thoughts
Panda Bear – Tomboy
Radiohead – The King of Limbs
Sigur Ros – Inni
Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
Skinny Puppy – Handover
Smiths – Complete
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake – Sineater
Britney Spears – Femme Fatale
Stepkids – Stepkids
White Hills – H-p1
Wilco – The Whole Love
Wild Flag – Wild Flag
Lucinda Williams – Blessed
Zomby – Dedication

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fables of the Reconstruction: Grab Bag of New Weirdness

I did same new music gambling recently and hit the jackpot a few times. Here are a few of the big winners:

Rangers – Pan Am Stories
One of my favorite hipster bloggers wrote that this sprawling double LP “evokes something one would expect to hear if Stephen Malkmus led Pink Floyd, fetishized Chic instead of The Fall, and invited Curt Kirkwood to tag along on tour.” Honestly, I can’t hear a preponderance of any of those referenced artists on this album, but that doesn’t mean the blogger wasn’t correct. Pan Am Stories sounds oddly familiar throughout, eerily similar to dozens of different musicians and genres that I can’t quite put my finger on, and, as a result, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. The vocals are somewhat low and flat, like a posturing new wave band from the early 80s (think: “Don’t you want me baby. Don’t you want me, ohhh-oh”) that’s been souped-up with a healthy dose of echoes. Comprised entirely of drums, bass, electric guitar, a bit of low-end synth and an array of effects pedals, the rangy songs here are simultaneously melodic and droning, stimulating and trance-inducing, spritely and dark, bright and brooding, punk and hippy. Which is utterly contradictory and absurd, I know, but it’s true, and on this album it works. I’ll describe it this way: I like to play it late in the evening after I’ve dimmed all the lights except for the one I bought in Mexico that is made out of a gourd with tiny holes drilled into it in the shapes of flowers through which light streams and casts glowing flower shapes on the wall that seem to breathe and shift colors in my increasing mellowed-outedness, like homemade nebulous orbs at the edge of my universe. It’s that kind of record.

Rangers: Pan Am Stories (LP1) by alteredzones

Quilt – Quilt
The full-length debut from this Boston band has an undeniable “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair” 60s vibe, due mainly to the boy-girl vocal harmonies that soar through all ten songs, calling to mind the Mamas and Papas or It’s A Beautiful Day or Jesus Christ Superstar, with a few turns here and there into more artsy East Coast territory a la Nico or Pearls Before Swine. The tunes have a lot of that 60s folk-pop structure, too—upbeat melodies woven with jangly strands of lightly amplified guitars and a bit of tambourine thrown in here and there. But it’s also unmistakably new. Despite all the peace and love cheeriness, there’s a brooding, droning quality that lurks just below the surface and exposes Quilt as a product of the contemporary underground, especially on side two, where the song structures start to mutate into more unusual configurations. Some of the songs are slowed and stretched nearly to the point of being ambient or gothic, while others are quicker and shorter, fast and edgy enough to make a crowd black-clad Brooklynites start bobbing their heads. What I love about this album, though, is all the weird little psychedelic interludes they mix into the tunes. A song will be bopping right a long when a spaceship sound will come swooping in to subsume the melody and deliver the song to the chorus, or the song will break down all together into clouds of spacey-ness. Very groovy.

Quilt - Quilt by Mexican Summer

Wet Hair – In Vogue Spirit
Remember the Dieter character Mike Myers played on Saturday Night Live? Dieter was a disaffected German artist talk show host who would tell his guests “"your story has become tiresome," exclaim "liebe mein affe-monkey!" and jump up and dance to spazzed out synth music. I think Dieter would love Wet Hair. Their music is very synth heavy and artsy almost to the point of pretentiousness. The vocals are similarly European sounding and extremely weird, kind of a cross between a flat 80s new wave voice and punk and an Eastern European psychopath. Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first whether I even liked this album because the “singing” seemed so bad on the first few listens, and the overlapping patterns of synth sound seemed so overdone and, like I said, pretentious. But the music is continually shifting into new territories, seamlessly switching from one song to the next, so just when I would think I couldn’t stand it any more it would become borderline good or, at very least, interesting, so I’d stick with it. I’d get distracted and start surfing around on my laptop or flipping through a book when the music would suddenly swell into a cacophony of mesmerizing freakiness that completely commanded my attention. Then the record would end I’d be wondering what the fuck just happened, and I’d put it on again to see what I missed. By and by, the album opened up to me, to the point where it’s now a strong contender for my album of the year. For one, it’s unlike any album I’ve ever heard in my life. Second, once you crack its code, so to speak, it transports you to an exquisitely otherworldly place, which is, in my way of looking at things, the ultimate goal of psychedelic music. And lastly, the vocals aren’t really that bad after you’ve listened a few dozen times and kind of get used to them. You have to put on your punk ears. If you come at the singing from that angle, the vocals actually sound quite lovely, and for the right weird-music-minded person, it’ll became one of those records you keep coming back to and hearing something new.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'd Love To Turn You On #45 - Roxy Music – Roxy Music

 Roxy Music arrived on planet earth in an explosion of sight of sound, unlike anything ever seen before, sometime at the birth of the new decade. It was somewhere in between 1952 and 1992, and Roxy remarkably, seemed to be about both; doo-wop and electronics, Sinatra and space.
England 1972: there is a lot of music going on - earnest singer-songwriter stuff, progressive rock, hard rock. Thanks to the influence of Marc Bolan's T.Rex, there was another, more colourful scene bubbling up - glam rock. And because Roxy Music, on the surface at least, appeared to fit into this new, fun fad, they enjoyed massive exposure and chart success in Europe. However, this subversive crashing onto Top-Of-The-Pops merely allowed them to bring art-school weirdness into the British charts, just as Syd's Pink Floyd had done five years earlier. Like another glam star, David Bowie, Roxy Music immediately transcended this bubblegum trend and became something altogether cooler and more sophisticated. These two acts would, in England at least, change the course of music and influence nearly everyone there for decades to come. It's all here on Roxy's stunningly realized first LP - blueprints for punk, new romantic and new wave synth-pop can all be found in these grooves.
Roxy combines elements of the new gaudy Glam fad, European Prog, English surrealism, 50’s American Rock 'n' Roll and the old-timey songbook. On one side of the stage, there was Bryan Ferry - the impossibly cool crooner with a philosophical twinkle in his eye. On the other, there was Eno - futurist egghead and saboteur. In the middle, there was one of the great rock bands of the 70’s - Phil Manzanera and Paul Thompson, guitar hero and tubthumper. They kept it real and rocking.
The album begins, like some nightclub Pepper, with light chat and clinking glasses, before kicking into the rip-roaring "Remake/Remodel," which not only is a corker of an opener but also lays out the conceptual ethos of their band; musical pastiche, post-modern quoting (Duane Eddy, Wagner, The Beatles) and esoteric lyrics (“CPL593H”). If you didn't notice any of the intellectual content, it's still killer rock 'n' roll, that still sounds cutting edge today.
Next, comes the amazing "Ladytron." A mutated love song, this track exemplifies everything Roxy were about in '72 - bizarre song structure, twisted romance, monstrous guitar and outré electronics. With Andy Mackay's exotic oboe and Eno's moogy noodling, it's the final word in Avant-garde pop music.
"Virginia Plain" was a giant hit in the UK and something of a standard on radio over there. This debut Roxy single (not on original UK copies of the LP, but on most CD versions) is another giant statement by Ferry and the boys. A fade up intro with fuzzed out bass leads into a proto-punk track filled with stops, starts, a shocking guitar solo and a surprise ending. Classic.
Side 1 ends in style with "2HB," an electro pop gem nostalgically dedicated to Bogie, highlighting Ferry's undead Bing Crosby and Eno's treated keyboards. Heady, beautiful stuff, which sounds as if the 60’s never happened.

Side 2 is another flawless batch of songs; highly experimental, highly tuneful, totally cool. "The Bob (Medley)," "Would You Believe," and "Sea Breezes" (later covered by Siouxsie and the Banshees) are all beguiling, radical tracks that you can hear the future of British music in. "Chance Meeting" is an amazing sonic picture drawn with a wash of guitar feedback. The album ends on a weird note - the 50’s vocal group charmer "Bitters End." When the backing vocals come in singing "bizarre" you know things are not as they seem. The album ends as it began, with a cocktail bar scene, bringing it full circle.
Eno's contributions to this world of sound mark the beginning of his illustrious career but he was never so brash or daring again, and Ferry's twisted nightclub persona was never again so edgy. Of course, Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry went on to conquer charts and hearts with further art rock classics, and later, the occasional AOR masterpiece, but this is where it began - on one of the most original, creative debut albums in the history of rock.
Start here and continue on.
- Ben S.

Wrap-Up for Ian Cooke Live at Twist and Shout 12/02

Local artist Ian Cooke performed a solo set last Friday.  He started off the set playing keyboards and switched to his signature instrument, the cello.  His lovely voice and complex melodies sounded excellent in our room.  We were celebrating the release of his new album Fortitude and 70 fans joined us for this stripped down version of Cooke’s live set.  Cooke plays with a band for larger shows, but I have to admit I enjoy his solo work even more because it really shows off his talent.  The crowd was eager to hear new music and to give thanks to Ian after the show.  I had a chance to meet his parents and I can see where he got his pleasant demeanor and charm.  The Greater Than Collective brought a keg of beer from Great Divide Brewery, so it went from a fun little in-store to a super fun party.  People enjoyed free music and free beer - I couldn’t ask for a better way to end our 2011 in-store season.