To celebrate this fantastic news about one of my favorite bands, I have decided to post their set, in it’s entirety from the 2009 Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, TN. It’s not without its flaws, but certainly worth a high volume listen.
And here is the setlist:
01. MC Intro
02. Band Intro
03. Nonpareil of Favor
04. Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider
05. Id Engager
06. Rapture Rapes the Muses
07. The Party’s Crashing Us
08. Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
09. October is Eternal
10. A Sentence of Sorts in Konsvinger
11. Beware Our Nubile Miscreants
12. Girl Named Hello
13. For Our Elegant Caste
14. Touched Something’s Hollow
15. An Eluardian Instance
16. She’s A Rejecter
17. The Past is a Grotesque Animal
So I get this email from this dude called freesoulJAH. He’s encouraging me to check out his 2007 release, Light Headed. Now I also put an album out in 2007, myself, and as far as the music reviewing business goes, that shit is dead. However, I can’t really resist mentioning this release for a couple reasons. First of all, you can download the whole thing, which is always a treat, no matter what it is. Second, I’m so conflicted on this release that it earns this strange categorization of being in both “Bad Music” and “Good Music.”
freesoulJAH signed his email to me, “with peace.” He doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy that seeks conflict, and maybe he’s trying to get on my good side in advance. I don’t know, but he doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy that deserves to have his feelings hurt either (unlike Buckcherry or Asher Roth). So though my case about this album could perhaps be more effectively made by presenting the evidence of “good music” before that of “bad music,” I’m going to cover the bad of it first. All in all, it’s because I’d rather freesoulJAH smoked his dope, read this review and came away saying, “Okay..that’s cool…that’s fair.” You know…instead of saying, “Those be some negative vibes, mon!”
I’ve got to poke a little fun at the guy though.
So okay. Bad news first. freesoulJAH initially comes across as a ridiculous stereotype and I cannot, in good conscious, argue otherwise. A visit to his website reveals a dread headed white Rastafarian looking dude. (“What does being white have to do with it, mon? Why you be such a racist? Jah’s love is for everyone!” Right?) His site decor is apparently fashioned in the colors of Ghana or the Congo, most likely. Maybe Bolivia, but I doubt it because Bolivia isn’t a very cool place to most enlightened Rasta homies.
“It takes a lot for me to really like modern reggae music,” I think to myself as I shake my head in a complete lack of faith in freesoulJAH. Then I read the titles to his music. Suddenly, a thought hits me…
“What is this crap?”
Here are but a small sample of song titles that make me sigh, roll my eyes and swear off weed forever so that I don’t ever act like this: “Peace to the People,” “Can You Feel My Love,” “Love Your Brother,” “Singing to the Birds” and the list goes on and on. (Those are just my favorite…to make fun of.) Alright! Peace and happiness and love and blah blah blah. That’s all fine and well, but can’t it be a little more poetic? A little more obscured? Of course love your brother. Of course peace to the people. Anyone that gives this album half a chance after looking at the album cover sure as shit isn’t hoping to meditate on Slayer.
What the fuck, freesoulJAH?
Okay. Then I gave this heaping pile of Jamaican wannabe shit a listen and was amazed to learn that it’s not actually a heaping pile of Jamaican wannabe shit! It’s just immensely misrepresented. Hence we move into that which makes this good music.
freesoulJAH is not another fly by night dumbass Rasta wanker and this is not a reggae album. Though everything this guy advertises is contradictory to what he actually does, he deserves some credit for throwing it back to a movement that everyone respects but few people attempt (or attempt well), the beat generation. On closer inspection, there is evidence that freesoulJAH may even be aware that this is his true niche, as he does have a song called “Next Beat Generation” tucked away among those other, more sterile titles.
Granted, his lyrics are still not all that prolific. Some of them are pretty much just the song titles repeated over and over again. Yet, I can forgive this because freesoulJAH is getting high and making shit. It’s minimal. It’s rough. It’s beat poetry…for better or for worse. That I can respect.
You listen to all this shit on the radio and you hear cookie cutter bullshit, formed to spec for the purposes of making more money and feeding more cocaine to superficial music executives. Focus groups and demographics testing can tell you that the beat in the new Miley Cyrus “song” should include a different kind of snare because children under the age of 14 will like it better. Then some guy gets in there with a computer and makes the change to make Billy Ray’s daughter a corporately constructed, achy breaky star.
Fuck all that.
I imagine freesoulJAH’s process to be something like this: He plugs his guitar and a mic in his 8 track, hits his bong a few times, then lays it the fuck down. It’s great to him because he’s stoned and his overdubs make it better. Then other people also like it because they are stoned, which is a much better reason than liking something because everyone else likes it, or because the sound is like everything else you listen to.
As for me, I’m not stoned, and I can still hang with this. Not repeatedly, mind you. Not at a party. Not in my car with a girl. But late at night, as the evening winds down and the politics of the day resonate around, it’s listenable because it’s real.
You’re a quirky dude, freesoulJAH (and “State of the Union 2007″ is, like, uhhh yeah…) but as far as I’m concerned, you’re still in the cool club. Sorry for the negative vibes, mon.
Download freesoulJAH’s beatnik bullshit here. (Then burn it to a CD-R, write “New Unreleased Hannah Montana Album” on the front with a Sharpie, and give it to the nearest 12 year old girl.)
We’ve decided to start posting music podcasts here on GMBM. We’ve actually got a ton of them in storage, but we don’t want to overkill you with them, so we’ll see what happens. Each podcast will be presented in a single MP3 file, with a flow of the music in mind. You can usually get more information on the individual tracks (or the albums they are from) by clicking the titles in the tracklist.
Here is the first one we are throwing your way:
PODCAST: The Politics of Aging
“Sgt. Pepper’s Paradise” – Guns N’ Roses vs. The Beatles vs. Jimmy James
“Fine Line” – Paul McCartney
“Coffee & TV” – Blur
“Once Upon a Time” – Air
“Le Premier Amore” – Anaïs
“Golden Age” – TV on the Radio
“Strange Overtones” – David Byrne & Brian Eno
“A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” – of Montreal
“Just a Friend With the Clap” – Shirley Ellis vs. Biz Markie
“Go There With You (Radio Edit)” – Chin Chin
“Bull Black Nova” – Wilco
“Longing for a Frozen Sky” – Ernst Reijseger, Patricio Mura & Gianluca Frau
“Divine” – Sebastian Tellier
“Tonight” – Koop & Mikael Sundin
Anyway. You may recall that we recently reviewed their latest album, Dying in Fast Forward, as well as the release show for it. We told you that it was possible to download their entire catalog at senryu.bandcamp.com. That was totally true, until now.
Not yet posted there is Laughing in Slow Motion, the companion disc to Dying in Fast Forward. But guess what! We have an early leak, which we’re giving away in its entirety, right here…almost now.
Basically the entire disc is a full on remixed version of Dying in Fast Forward. The songs are in the same order, but are newly reinterpreted and/or reconstructed by the likes of Alkaline, Frozen Cobra, Arrison Kirby, Little Red Lung and Agent15. Though I will state that it’s a near impossible task to trump the original, we’ll leave it to you to review it yourself.
And here are the tracks so that you can do just that…
MP3: “Poor Embarrassed Bird” – Senryu vs. Alkaline
MP3: “Shiver And Shine” – Senryu vs. Frozen Cobra
MP3: “Dying In Fast Forward” – Senryu vs. Arrison Kirby
MP3: “Jericho Ruins Everything” – Senryu vs. Little Red Lung
MP3: “Simulacra” – Senryu vs. Agent15
In the not too distant past, I reviewed Dying in Fast Forward, the new album from Senryu. Well, the other night, I had the pleasure of attending its release show at the Pilot Light in Knoxville. The night opened with Katie and The Bass Drums. It’s actually just one dude, and his incredibly humorous musical musings, which were usually relating to sex. Arrison Kirby played next. One patron of the evening described his electro/guitar music as “tropical disco,” though I can’t say I agree with this label. Finally, the boys we were all there to see, Senryu, took the stage. The crowd closed in.
Senryu entered the stage, donning a strange assortment of costumes and accessories. White lights shining up from their feet gave a bright, ethereal feel to the stage arrangement. Then, from the beginning to the end, they exploded. Granted, I’ve seen Senryu several times and would, frankly, expect nothing less from them. This time, however, the explosion was so well calculated that I swear there was an IED specialist on hand to see it through. (But maybe that was just Wayne Bedsoe.)
Most of the material performed was from the new release, as well as Pssst and The Guilty Party Rages On, the two full lengths that preceded it. Yet, it seemed there was something intrinsically different going on behind it all. Their upbeat, indie pop was certainly in tact. Surrounding and weaving within it, however, were moments of what sounded like prog rock. There also was epic abstraction in spots, slipping and sliding around the stage, but never cutting its umbilical cord from motherdrummer, Steven Rodgers.
Rodgers’ drumming is something that deserves a special mention here. Always precise and forward anyway, this evening left me in particular awe of his abilities. It wasn’t just that he could keep a beat, but that he could fire off a machine gun into that aforementioned explosion. So quick and direct, it boggled my mind at how he could fit so many nuances into any single moment.
Amidst and despite all of this, Senryu remains a strange paradox. They are a nationally touring band, who can certainly bring it with the best of them. Frontman, Wil Wright, is an incredibly gifted song writer and musician who is incredibly dedicated to his craft. There are few musical units out there who can touch this level of showmanship and ability. And yet, Senryu has still but only chipped away a relatively small bit of that proverbial glass ceiling, even though they hail from the same town as Bonnaroo creator, AC Entertainment. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure they are quite capable of making their own way to where they ultimately need to be. Damn, though. If Ashley Capps, or some other industry mogul, would just spare a little bit of their own precious firepower for these kids, Senryu’s awesome explosion could just maybe evolve into total rapture.
Do yourself a favor and download Senryu’s entire catalog by clicking here.
The new album by Senryu is technically not going to be released until the night of their show on September 18th in Knoxville, TN. You know what, though? I already have a copy, suckers. So let’s get to it…
My first impression of this disc is that it’s coming from some place very minimalist. Yet it seems to carry a rather varied array of musical moments, just not at the same time. In any case, it’s certainly the most abstract and experimental Senryu disc to date. The space between the sounds is of particular importance here. While they started moving into that area with their last release, The Guilty Party Rages On, the notion of space becomes fully realized with Dying in Fast Forward. While I am certain the band (or at least frontman, Wil Wright) was aware of this dynamic shift, I must also credit the engineers, Mike Agentis and Aaron Thompson, for their keen sense of production. It is, indeed, not just the sounds, themselves, but the sound of the sounds.
Without being a full on emulation, the whole disc smacks particularly of Modest Mouse, with some of Montreal caulked in around the perimeter. Don’t get me wrong. It is intrinsically Senryu, which is its own very distinct thing. There is homage throughout, though, intentional or not, popping up and subsiding again. This is particularly documented in the single, “Shiver and Shine,” as well as “Jericho Ruins Everything.”
The closing track, “Simulacra,” begins as a Thom Yorke inspired electro-beat song before expanding into something lighter and dirtier. You really feel it, then suddenly it is gone. Gone with it is the entire disc. Clocking in at fourteen minutes, there is the inevitable desire for more. Especially with such an abrupt, yet elevated, end. The whole things works so well as a whole that, since you can’t have anymore, the natural response seems to be to just hit play again.
It’s certainly not a superficial listen. There is a lot going on, however subtly applied. Perhaps that is the gimmick of the whole thing. It takes multiple listens to really map it out in one’s head. It’s not catchy sing-along pop. It’s art. And if there is a structure underneath it all, it’s either meticulously dictated from phrase to phrase, or it’s haphazardly flung on to the canvass. If nothing else, the ambiguity of the process makes this a deep and interesting listen.
If you’re in the Knoxville, TN area on September 18th, come check out the release show…
Contributors to the disc include Dirty Projectors, Pattern is Movement and Xiu Xiu, among others. The styles and sounds are expansive here, without ever veering from the central core of Björk’s ethereal musings.
I could yap on and on about Liars’ sludgerocking “Army of Me” or the soft, subtle touch White Hinterland gives to “I Miss You,” but what’s the point when you can download it yourself and draw your own conclusions? And you really should do precisely that…by clicking here. Enjoy!