TERRY REID – The Other Side of the River (1973; 2016)

Review by: Dominic Linde
Assigned by: Charly Saenz

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Subdued but powerful, soft but rocking, basic but not simple, and thoughtful while being emotive and down-to-Earth. These are the descriptive phrases that kept running through my head while listening to Terry Reid’s the Other Side of the River. Originally released as just River, the album has been reissued several times—with dubious reasoning, as far as I know, other than it being a good album. I feel compelled to say that usually I’m not very into roots rock (I mean, it’s OK and occasionally thrilling), but there is a lot of heart in this record while maintaining an earthy and unassuming tone. The opening track “Let’s Go Down” sets the record up perfectly: slight interplay between the lead and rhythm guitars, a simple counter melody to accompany the admittedly lackluster vocals. But the vocals still carry a certain amount of expression and interesting timbre (maybe something like a cross of Rod Stewart and Ryan Adams, though Terry Reid was recording long before Adams ever did), saving the voice from being a downfall. And how about that electric violin? And the bassist who knows exactly when to get busy with the instrument and when to lay it back. Just one of those unexplainable songs where there’s nothing new or spectacular in particular. It just works together in a totally satisfying way.

And really, that’s how the album as a whole works: unspectacular but satisfying, not revelatory but gripping. You’ll come back for more. My only complaint is that it starts to wane toward the end. Track-by-track, the album is a collection of strong songs, but there is a certain amount of sameness that comes out not only in execution but in the style of the songs. Granted, this disc is not only comprised of the River album (in the first seven tracks) but also what I assume were outtakes or B-sides. And really, it is around where the bonus tracks start that the disc starts to lose its quality streak. Still, the bonus tracks are far from duds and are worth the listen. They’re just not as strong as what came previously. Recommended.

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FAUST – 71 Minutes of Faust (1989)

Review by: Ed Luo
Assigned by: Dominic Linde

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The title pretty much says it all: seventy-one minutes of Faust doing what they do best, making noisy, raucous jam/sound collage mixtures. This album is actually a compilation of two earlier LPs, Munic and Elsewhere and The Last LP, both albums consisting of outtakes and alternative versions from their tenure in the seventies, taking out one track of each. Even so, this is a fun album for Faust fans that showcases all the various random shit the band does, albeit possibly not an album for newcomers of their music. Personal highlights include ‘Munic/Yesterday’ which sounds like their take on the Soft Machine’s ‘We Did It Again’, the totally fuckin’ wacked-out synch-grunting jams ‘Don’t Take Boots’ and ‘25 Yellow Doors’, the sixties garage deconstruction ‘Baby’, and the extended version of ‘J’ai mal aux dents’ from The Faust Tapes.

RICHARD STRAUSS – Four Last Songs (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, George Szell, Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, The London Symphony Orchestra) (1997)

Review by: Dominic Linde
Album assigned by: Sharon Durand 

I may be the worst person in the world to have been chosen to write this review, as I am not one for vocalists in classical music. There’s a tendency for words to be over-pronounced, vibrato to be applied liberally, phrasing to be inhuman and showy. But at the same time, I don’t speak German. I don’t know what it’s supposed to sound like. I just know I don’t like this. If the singing were replaced by trumpet or violin, just as an example, I think it would be much preferable and I’d be able to get through it. In fact, I enjoy the countermelodies Strauss employs with the string section. It’s just the infernal vibrato-tinged voice that makes this release unlistenable.

I know this is an unfair assessment, but I am simply not the person to be reviewing this. The music is moving, the motifs are slightly dissonant but ultimately pleasing. The energy is lilting and morose at the same time. Then Elisabeth Schwarzkopf comes in and it’s torture. I’m sorry. I can’t listen to it. I got through a couple of lieders, but my head hurts.

AKSAK MABOUL – Un Peu de l’Âme des Bandits (1980)

Review by: Dominic Linde
Album assigned by: Andreas Georgi

Aksak Maboul’s Un Peu De L’Ame Des Bandits starts strongly with a Bo Diddley beat punctuated by agonized singing/screaming and instrumental passages sounding like a cross between Faust and klezmer. And though the album continues to be filled with strong moments throughout, it really meanders as a whole. Avant jam after another make up the bulk of the album (though I can’t really say what is jamming here and what was written) culminating with the impressive “Bosses De Crosses.” Countermelodies and much of the guitar work sounds like it’s straight from the Residents and Snakefinger, but this collective is comprised of much better musicians than the earlier avant group.

I feel guilty for reducing the group to a bunch of comparisons, though those other bands came to mind pretty frequently upon listen. However, I do want to make it clear that this is interesting, enjoyable music. Dissonant, yet melodic. Saxophones burst into counterpoints that rub and run away. The electric violin is always a welcome addition. There are sound effects galore (I think I hear a toilet flushing in the final track?) and grunts and groans sneak their way into the mix. It’s avant-garde. It’s good.

THE STRATFORD 4 – The Revolt Against Tired Noises (2002)

Review by: Eric Pember
Album assigned by: Dominic Linde

This album is very much old-school indie rock, in the good way.

While old-school indie rock is generally middle of the road sounding, it nevertheless is at the core of my musical DNA. In fact, it actually is part my DNA more than the kind of indie music that is usually popular these days, despite me being of the age where I should prefer the latter to the former, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Consequently, this was a very pleasing listen for me. I did detect a sort of hooklessness, although that could well remedy itself with additional listens. After all, I didn’t get Yo La Tengo for the first couple of listens either. Regardless, it’s always nice to discover more music of this type.

Apparently, one of the members in this band played with the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, which might explain the hooklessness, because I detected a hooklessness in Howl too. However, this sounds a good deal more sonically interesting than Howl did to me. I’m aware intellectually it’s not THAT much more sonically interesting, but again, this sort of indie rock guitar sound really speaks to me beyond the level of common sense.

I also really dug the last track, since I dig long jams in general, particularly long rock jams.

I’ll definitely revisit this album at some point in the future. For now, I think I’d rather get to some more of this band’s better contemporaries, since I haven’t listened to enough of them yet.

BOREDOMS – Pop Tatari (1992)

Review by: Dominic Linde
Album assigned by: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Pop Tatari starts off with a track called “Noise Ramones”, which sounds nothing like the Ramones. The thing with Boredoms is comparisons don’t work with them. They don’t sound like anybody. However, like the Ramones in 1976, Boredoms is a revolution. Only they have been for decades, and nobody seems to have noticed.

Trying to make sense of this album is a fruitless endeavor, as it jumps from bouts of noise to explosions of sound to bursts of audio. Yelping gives way to extremely distorted guitars which are proceeded by multi-layered percussion. Boredoms has a penchant for the arbitrary, and listening to this album brings to mind experimental excursions such as Faust’s The Faust Tapes and Frank Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy. Compositions are fragmented (and are likely not usually compositions but more probably jams) and stop abruptly. New ideas seemingly come from nowhere. Once you start to figure out a fragment, another interrupts your thoughts.

Boredoms have more structured albums (Super AE being an exceptional example) and those with a more flowing emotion/ambience, but this album has the element of surprise. It’s fun because you never know what the next sound to emit from your speakers will be, and it’s exciting both because it touches places all over the musical spectrum and because it’s mixed in a raw and powerful way. Boredoms always sound like a collective letting loose emotionally and physically, and Pop Tatari is no exception. It’s about as wild as they get, and it’s enthralling.