A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Luca Cimarusti, Reader music listings coordinator
Bob Mehr, Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements This huge volume on the Replacements by former Reader staffer Bob Mehr is the best rock biography I’ve ever read. Chronicling every minute detail of the legendarily inebriated Minneapolis indie-rock band’s rise and fall, Trouble Boys is as dark and twisted as it is hilarious and fascinating. I managed to fly through its nearly 500 pages in less than a week.
Various artists, Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music The Numero Group’s latest compilation of forgotten American records in its Wayfaring Strangers series focuses on the psychedelia-tinged country-rock that bubbled up in the wake of Gram Parsons’s brief career. The songs on Cosmic American Music pay homage to the country-rock giant’s sound, beautifully fleshing out tales of heartbreak and hard partying.
Chris Bell, I Am the Cosmos Chris Bell’s only post-Big Star LP was released in 1992, more than 13 years after his tragic induction into the 27 Club. It picks up where he left off with his famous band’s #1 Record and journeys to a whole new spaced-out realm. Bell beefs up his power-pop formula and adds studio experimentation, dreamy synths, and a bummer vibe that feels even eerier with the knowledge that these would be the last songs he recorded.
Luca is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
John Lombardo, host of Rubbed in Dirt, Dipped in Sugar at CHIRP Radio
Comfort Food, Waffle Frolic This one’s been rattling around in my skull for months—mostly I just feel stunned while trying to figure out how this local duo produce their ear-catching cacophony. Their latest Already Dead tape mixes primitive, repetitive structures and modern sounds, punctuating off-kilter horns with guitar skree and looped cackling—it’s primal, mechanical, and explosive. Imagine Beefheart jamming with the Books.
Apryl Fool, The Apryl Fool Shortly after discovering this Japanese psych band, I was crushed by the realization that this twisted 1969 album is the only one they ever released. It runs a wicked foundation of American blues through a trans-Pacific filter to create its slow-smoldering grooves. Damaged organs pounded into smeared bass lines recall early Can, and the band switches direction on a dime on the LSD-drenched nightmare “The Lost Mother Land Pt. 1.” Its wobbly synths and garbled vocals give this Eastern psych classic a disorienting “lost in time” feeling.
John Olson, Life Is a Rip Off: The Complete Book John Olson‘s homespun post-gonzo style makes this 400-page collection of 12 months of daily record reviews feel like something else entirely. The longtime Wolf Eyes noisenik uses his enormous set of self-created slang as he recounts everything he knows about each album and how he came to have it. His range of interests is staggering—Jimmy Dawkins, Cryptopsy, youth-crew hardcore demos, bootleg dancehall—and he covers it all without changing tone or breaking stride.
John is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Rodrigo Palma, bassist for Saves the Day and Into It. Over It.
Wolf Eyes I saw Wolf Eyes in February and haven’t stopped thinking about their brain-erasing power since. The music sometimes invokes Albert Ayler, Suicide, or Godflesh. Sometimes it tickles me: A dude with a drum machine strapped to his chest is playing solo soprano sax? Now the sax is looped and layered into painful dissonance. Then, as if the audience had uttered a safe word, a throbbing pulse arrives, deafening and physical, with no definite downbeat or backbeat. A roaring guitar fills out the sound, prohibiting mental escape into an uninhabited frequency. It’s a release of sorts—total, primal, essential.
The quarter note The quarter note is the pulse we instinctively nod our heads to. Your heartbeat is already playing along. Sometimes it’s in plain sight, as with boots-‘n’-cats dance music. Other times it’s suggested via syncopation; James Brown was a master of this (see “Mother Popcorn”). In reggae it’s oft omitted but omnipresent. The quarter note is there even in the trickiest compound meters. It’s an analytical tool to remember to not be analytical and instead to feel and communicate.
Stella Mozgawa Stella is the supremely musical drummer of Warpaint. She’s a master of color and groove, more tasteful than flashy, and her patterns are conversations built around the cyclic movements of her limbs. She has a Roland drum pad in her kit, and plays sampled sounds with a human feel. I regularly return to “Hi” from the self-titled Warpaint album in awe. Also, her Instagram (@steezmeez) is pretty funny.