Alec Rojas is afraid to sleep. With a law degree and a philosophy degree, he works in law during the day and writes by night. You can find him DJing in downtown LA or on top of a California mountain, probably talking about Hegelian Aesthetic philosophy as applied to the Snoop Lion record.
Morphing into folk, bluegrass, country, western, or even the blues, “Americana” takes much from it’s environment and the instruments that populate it. In that regard, the native Appalachians of Old Crow Medicine Show, one of the best live acts in the country, are as much punk as they are country and old-time music. The band are real DIY-ers: they got their start busking in Nashville over a decade ago, like the medicine shows at the turn of the 20th century. This is a 21st century take on that classic music. If anything, Old Crow Medicine Show charge their music with veiled political references, foot-stomping rhythms, and corn liquor. In other words, all the good stuff.
As a tribute to one of the hotly contested states in this years election, Carry Me Back seems like a classic from the old-time string bands, extolling the excellence of Virginia. Based off the old Virginia state song, Carry Me Back to Old Virginny, it tells the story of a young man filled with pride to fight in the Civil War and the accompanying false nationalism. But by the end it is a staunch anti-war song – dead horses, starvation in prison camps, and bayonets can’t shake the love of country and home. Carry Me Back isn’t just a faced paced hoe-down but exalts the love of country and home – that America is for you and me.
Another member of the Brainfeedercult. Flylo’s former roommate and maybe chief inspiration, Teebs, hails from Chino, California. It’s been exactly a year since this Collections 01 dropped in all of its meditative glory. Pretty Poly exemplifies the beat of Los Angeles like few other tracks before it. It’s fast or slow depending on whether you listen to the drums or the scratchy beats. It’s precise or loose depending whether you listen to the rhythm or the vocals. He presents a musical contrast more expansive than any of his contemporaries, tearing a massive canvas of ideas into two minute sound bites.
Pinback can pull a vanishing act like none other. Five years since the solid Autumn of the Seraphs and 11 years since the breakthrough Blue Screen Life (I admit – I stared at many a ceiling fan with a girl I may have liked and made her listen to Penelope), the current offering Information Retrieved rolls on with the shoe-shuffling, starry eyed metronomic bass and guitar
In this case, with a bit more oommmmphhhfff – the running guitar riff decays into an upbeat run of staccato notes, only to return with the rocking chorus. This melodic technique, though, takes a lyrical shape. This is a song about moving forward, past times of your life, even those as as constant as the seasons. Thank God these guys are that consistent, an unchanging singular sound in the sea of rock.
Running Back is a German electronic music label run by Kool DJ Pink Alert. Based in Darmstadt, a community outside Frankfurt, the label seems to pick up choice beats from the baleric variety to deep house. One of their premier releases in 2012 has been a new album from the Frankfurt-based artist Lauer.
The record, Phillips, takes the disco house vibe a variety of different ways. For instance, Miamisync has a clear eye for Miami mid-eighties kitsch, while Hafflinger keeps a hypnotic groove with some funky xylophones. Frontex Slowfox, however, has the cheese down to a science – big drum sounds, a dirty bass, a swaying rhythm. To me it’s a sleazier, dirtier instrumental version of Wicked Games. Or really just a wicked twist to electronic dance music, subtle yet addicting.
1968-1969: 4 Germans and a New Yorker meet in Cologne, put down their avant-garde classical influences, and start an “avant-garde” improvisational band based off Zappa, Hendrix, and James Brown. The New Yorker, smug and disappointed at the rock influences, leaves the band. An American vocalist joins the 4 Germans and Can is formed. They start recording. Said American vocalist leaves and is replaced by a nomadic Japanese dude with some serious pipes.
1969 – 1974: Can records their most well known work, including classic records Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days. “Krautrock” as a genre is born, a blend of psychadelic rock, jazz, fusion, and insanity. Everyone from the Sex Pistols to Sonic Youth to Spoon claim them as an influence.
2012: When the German Rock Museum wants to enshrine Can’s studio, they take everything from the studio and put in the museum. Master tapes are found. Mute records finds them. Record collectors everywhere have nervous break downs, more than just my omission/dismissal of every Can record after 1974. That rare B-Side they paid 40 bucks for 10 years ago becomes worthless. But new tracks, like Millionenspiel and Dead Pigeon Suite (above), emerge, and everyone is stoked – it’s a new Can record, funky, fresh, and worthy of your next psychedelic freak out.