Nuggets 300 – Drone / Psych

I got an email from Don (we are old school, none of this DM stuff). It’s just the usual banter, he describes the raised garden he has built for his wife at the bottom of the section. Don mentions that he is enjoying Nuggets 300, he shows me a picture of the mix CD I sent him way back when.

So I think, whatever happened to that mix? Digging deeper I see it was discarded because of technical problems I was having with WordPress at the time. Things are still not going smoothly – just check out the weird formatting – but here is Nuggets 300 from back in 2016.

In these days of cheap digital cameras and cell phones with a camera built in its easy to forget that in recent history (i.e. the 1990’s) bands could blow up and fade away with very few images surviving. Bedhead is a good example. To save you looking, there are only two videos of Bedhead playing live on YouTube (and perhaps anywhere). On the first one they play Bedside Table, whilst the next compilation includes a few more tracks and a drunk and not very appreciative audience.

Anyways, a live album was recently released (more) and also a  box set (which is great).

Captured during their Transaction de Novo tour, Bedhead’s Live In Chicago finds the group upon the fabled stage of the Empty Bottle. For their April 16th, 1998 performance, recording engineer Bob Weston set up in the facility’s basement, tracking the entire performance onto a mobile 16-track ADAT unit. Mixed by the band and mastered at Chicago Mastering Service, these previously unreleased sessions celebrate the band’s live show in ultrahigh fidelity. Limited to 1,000 copies. Includes a download coupon, and three additional tracks recorded in similar fashion at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill on March 14th, 1998.

The track I have chosen highlights their slow burn very well.

Brothers and guitarists Matt and Bubba Kadane still make music, both as The New Year and (with David Brazen) as Overseas

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Tearjerker are a band I got a bit fixated on a few years back because of their relentlessly sadsack, sludgy emo sound. When I first made this compilation in 2016 I included three of their tracks. Still working for me.

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Saw these guys in Austin back 2012; will they come and visit?

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I am a big fan of anything from Analogue Africa. This is the work of Samy Ben Redjeb, a DJ in love with the many many sounds of Africa and a devoted crate digger. All the music is on Bandcamp. Dig in for some great tunes.

Here is a review of this compilation (not now sure who wrote it).

The subtitle here, intriguing as it is, isn’t completely accurate, since the emphasis is actually more on soul and funk than raw garage rock and psychedelia. Indeed, there’s a strong James Brown fixation for many artists here, and Roger Damawuzen should have won an award (or a lawsuit) for his uncanny imitation of the Godfather of Soul. It does get a little wild at times, as with “Congolaise Benin Ye” from Le Super Borgou de Parakou, but one thing that never falters here is the groove. Once a band latches onto it, they don’t let go, keeping it rock-solid, but with plenty of polyrhythms happening as part of it, giving it a wonderful, flexible feeling. There’s no a bad cut here, and it’s obvious that this is the result of a labor of love — the result of two-and-a-half years work and nine trips to the countries. It may be the Francophone influence that steers the musicians away from the more obvious English and American rock sounds, although you can definitely hear the Afro-Latin percussion of Santana in the mix (and the fiery guitar work, too, at times). But whatever the artists are doing, they thankfully never try to ditch their Afro roots — which, of course, are the bedrock of soul and rock. This all takes it in another, fabulous direction. In many ways it proved to be a bit of a dead end historically, but the music that came out of it is nothing less than sublime.

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The Cult Of Dom Keller. Great band name and wonderfully mushy sound.

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An unusual collaboration between Alan Vega and Alex Chilton.

In 1996, the fine Thirsty Ear label — never motivated by commerce, always driven by the need to issue what was new, odd, and fresh, even if it is that rare freakish and fractured thing — released Cubist Blues. It was the unholy union of future roots music wailer Alan Vega with a pair of terminal rock & roll outsiders in Ben Vaughn and Alex Chilton. Since almost everybody else in the indie and pop worlds were still wandering around in shock after the death of Kurt Cobain, almost no one took notice of this terrifyingly great record made in two consecutive dusk-to-dawn improvisational sessions at Dessau Studios on the Lower East Side of New York in December of 1994. Like the best of jazz when the cats in the ’50s would just show up to see what would happen (more often than not, it did: check the Norman Granz Jam Session albums and the Prestige All-Stars). What does it sound like? Crazy voodoo ghost music. It sounds like Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent, and Johnny Burnette fighting for a place at Elvis‘ table someplace between heaven and hell that isn’t earth. Vega‘s a poet of the other side of rock & roll. In the grain of his voice is the cry, weep, and wail of the blues as it met speed, cars, rocket ships, and the inside of Papa Legba’s drum. Forget for one moment he was in Suicide, if you can, and listen to these freaky, screwed-down guitars, ramshackle pianos bearing their low keys like a dog’s teeth, basses that rumble instead of pop. It’s messed up — check tracks like “Fly Away,” where Jim Morrison meets Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the rebel squall of the south wind; the steam-shovel rockabilly of “Fat City” that is as streetwise as any hip-hop crew’s boast shop, or creates a roaring sound Dion would have loved to have heard in his head in the Bronx in the ’50s. It is poetry, man. There’s the noir-ish blues of “Sister” that stumbles, falls, and breaks its leg before it ever starts, and the post-nightmare retake on “Dream Baby,” where nothing is as it seems in the mirror. The live disc howls even more primitively, with the crew trying to force the audience through the eye of the space needle with them. Brilliant, disturbing, obsessive, and addictive; Cubist Blues is an album that time forgot, but was never more in time.

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Agitation Free
Agitation Free

As we get further and further away from the source it becomes harder and harder to fully understand exactly how a band like Berlin’s Agitation Free came to be. For here is a truly cosmic music, a blend of Krautrock, psychedelia, jazz and a strikingly well-structured ambient sort of funkiness that can only come from fantastically talented musicians spending hour upon hour upon hour playing for no one’s pleasure but their own. As a young band Agitation Free would play galleries and conservatories as often as they played student halls or club shows and so they don’t sound in any way tied to either. Drummer Christopher Franke – who would later go on to huge success with Tangerine Dream – was still a teenager when this LP was recorded, but it’s his loosely precise/precisely loose grooves that allow his band-mates the room to, well, blow a few minds, to be honest. While their debut, 1972’s Malesch, had been influenced by the band’s interest in Egypt, the follow-up was a much calmer affair. What’s important is that, rather neatly, Agitation Free sound entirely free of agitation – indeed, they sound free of almost everything else, up to and including gravity itself. Around six glorious minutes into Laila Part 2 a sweeping guitar part sails in and lifts the whole piece like a warm current lifts a sea bird, it’s an extraordinarily beautiful moment in an album liberally blessed with them. Found sounds and bird song appear in songs like In The Silence of the Morning and First Communication, positing the band’s own experiments as part of a very natural ambience, while Haunted Island is the sort of fantastically doomy, Floyd-like freak-out that no band has even attempted for 40 years. Considered for decades to be among Krautrock’s second-string artists, Agitation Free are, on this evidence alone, one of the most deserving of your attention.

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Occasional visitors  to NZ – haven’t managed to catch them yet..

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They came to Womad a few years back – would have been a good gig

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Nuggets 204 –Troubadours 5

Nuggets 204 - Troubadours 5

More men / women with guitars. Gene Clark on the cover.