A HIGH FIVE:
1) NEIL YOUNG - Chrome Dreams CD-R
This a well-known Neil Young bootleg a friend burnt for me last week, and whilst I'm against the whole CD-burning schtick in general and in principle, when it comes to bootlegs I could care less. If the artist doesn't want to release it officially and do a better job of it themselves, then fuck 'em; until they pull their finger out I'll burn 'til the cows come home. Chrome Dreams is a mixture of '70s studio recordings Young put down on tape, only to scrap for either later, cleaner versions on albums like Comes A Time, or as live renditions on the Live Rust double LP. Whilst not an official album, Chrome Dreams stands as probably the best Neil Young disc I own, even surpassing previous life-changers like On the Beach and Zuma. The studio version of "Like A Hurricane" is one of the greatest pieces of music I've ever encountered, the looping guitar lines and cagey, claustrophobic sound quality possessing an unearthly feel I can't fully express. It is simply a fucking stunning slab of avant-garde rock music, the sinewy guitar lines moving throughout like a heavenly combo of Eddie Hazel, Tom Verlaine and Keiji Haino. You gotta hear it. I saw Neil Young in concert last year and it was one of the most brain-expanding experiences of my pathetic life, his encore set being a 40-minute noise jam/medley that'd give every Krautrocker or Jap-psycher you care to mention a serious run for their money. I never thought I'd hear anything from him that could top such a performance. Maybe Chrome Dreams doesn't, but it comes mighty close. Beg, borrow or steal.
2) SUNNO))) - White 2 CD
I was a bit hesitant about this release. Much as I love all of SunnO)))'s previous outings, putting out yet another album of guitar feedback and barely-structured amp drones sounded, well, just a little too easy. It seemed like a rent-paying exercise, but I'm glad to report that the worrying was wasted energy. White 2 is possibly the best SunnO))) release yet. Again, three long songs, a horde of evil guests from the fields of noise, doom and Black Metal and a white-hot combination of acidic power chords, abstract groans and sheets of gloom. As for how much longer they can keep this kind of shenanigans up, that remains a triviality to ponder; for now, the well is not yet dry.
3) MEAT PUPPETS - II / Up On the Sun LPs
Back in high school, I had a Holy Trinity of bands whom I'd bore anyone within earshot senseless with: Black Flag, Minutemen and the Meat Puppets. For me, they were pioneers, nomads, heroes, gods and icons of whom I stood in absolute awe. Then the '90s happened, life started and I hardly listened to any such nonsense for over half a decade. It wasn't like I didn't still dig the 'Flag and their cohorts; it was just that after a thousand spins and a world of music to explore outside of the SST stable they fell by the wayside. I'm glad I had that break, because spinning these two gems in the year 2004 is a pleasure I didn't anticipate.
4) THE FALL - The Real New Fall LP (Formerly "Country On the Click") CD
Umm, yeah, it is the real new Fall LP, or CD at least. Prior to my purchase of this about a month back I hadn't investigated any new Fall album since '97's Levitate (a fine disc), but after some incessant pleading from a friend who said with absolute earnestness that "the new Fall album is really good, believe me", and then hearing it being played in a store and mistaking it for the Flesh Eaters (seriously!), I figured I'd take the plunge. You know, to state the obvious, The Fall will never make another Hex Enduction Hour or Dragnet, but this is a pretty good pale imitation and probably better than 98% of the garbage you or I will consider buying in the next 12 months. I don't think Mr. Smith even keeps track himself of who's in the band anymore, which unfortunately results in the rather sterile, inorganic sound they've suffered on and off from over the last decade, but at least the keyboards are turned down, the guitars up, and the opener, "Green Eyed Loco-Man", is a Fall classic in the making. Too many people say it already, but Mark E. Smith truly is one of the coolest dorks rock music ever produced.
5) ORNETTE COLEMAN - Crisis LP
Much like my collection of LPs and CDs by Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Coltrane, Miles and Sun Ra, I've got a shitload of Ornette discs and I haven't bought any since about 1997. It's the old story: impressionable douchebag discovers "jazz"; said douchebag spends five years of life buying every disc in sight from "legends of jazz"; douchebag then realises that owning at least a dozen albums a piece from all said legends is enough to keep him happy for a lifetime; douchebag is content. One day it'll be a feature-length film, believe me. I bought Crisis off a friend for a pittance back in the mid '90s some time, and it remains one of my favourite Ornette outings. Recorded live at NYU in '69 with the classic Quintet (Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Ornette Jr.) and Ornette himself screeching away on violin on the amazing "Space Jungle", Crisis is an album the geniuses at Impulse have decided not to reissue so far.