Thursday, August 6, 2015

RJD2 - Deadsides

RJD2's Deadringer helped put instrumental hip-hop on the map and complimented works like Endtroducing... by DJ Shadow both interestingly being debut albums for the respective artists.  This sample-heavy album is among my favorites and I truly consider it a masterpiece.

Compiling a b-sides album anywhere near the caliber of Deadringer I figured to be impossible, but when I purchased the album I found two obscure hidden tracks and discovered the EP Here's What's Left, which had the Part 1 of Good Times Roll, likely my favorite track from Deadringer.

Deadsides is organized to mirror Deadringer, with an intro song as track 2, Rain replacing Smoke & Mirrors, etc.  The cut off date was his second album's release, for I use two rare tracks from Since We Last Spoke.

RJD2 - Deadsides

1.  Before or Since
2.  Intro
3.  Rain
4.  Here's What's Left
5.  Bonus Beat
6.  De L'alouette
7.  Find You Out
8.  Holy Toledo
9.  Bus Stop Bitties
10.  Poorboy Lover Megamix I
11.  Poorboy Lover Megamix II
12.  Poorboy Lover Megamix III
13.  The Good Times Roll (pt. 1)
14.  Counseling
15.  Sell The World
16.  Thine Planetarium

Gorillaz - Happy Radio (2-discs)

One of the inspirations for Gorillaz was American pop music.  It was Damon Albarn, who lead the britpop band Blur which remained rather isolated from the West, at least until Song 2 was released.  Even with the success of that single in America, they quickly evaporated into obscurity.  Sad, because Damon Albarn is one of the greatest musicians alive today.  But much of the pop radio of the 2000s in America was dominated by Gorillaz singles.

Gorillaz obviously takes inspiration from the pop music at the time, usually in an over-the-top way and always significantly more aesthetic and catchy than the songs they were sandwiched between on the radio.  The opening lines from their first single are "Finally, someone let me out of my cage," bellowed by Del, poking fun at the hype machines that are many current hip hop acts. 

Being one of my favorite acts, I really took my time with this set.  I will likely delete P-Sides because it is now obsolete (new leaks and songs I was unaware of have made it into this set that fit the time period for P-Sides), though I may just do an upgrade.

This is a two-disc set, the first being "rarities" and the second being "obscurities."  The first disc includes a few early demos and various super rare tracks.  The second disc includes more strange tracks as well as some remixes of both songs by Gorliiaz and other artists tracks remixed by Damon.

Gorillaz - Happy Radio

Disc I - Rarities

1.  I Got Law (Tomorrow Comes Today demo)
2.  Happy Radio
3.  A Rappy Song (demo)
4.  Rappy Song (fan mix)
5.  Dub Dumb
6.  Untitled (with Kid Koala)
7.  911 (with D12)
8.  I Need A Gun (Dirty Harry demo)
9.  Sumthin Like This Night (with Snoop Dogg)
10.  Whirlwind
11.  Applecarts
12.  Christmas Bonanza
13.  Gotta Get Down With The Passing Of Time (demo)
14.  DoYaThing (with James Murphy and AndrĂ© 3000)

Disc II - Obscurities

1.  L'Amour Est un Oiseau Rebelle (Gorillaz Remix)
2.  Let's Get Dirty (Gorillaz Remix)
3.  Shigoto No Ato Ni (Part I)
4.  Crystalized (The XX cover)
5.  Mr. Softee's Balloon Race
6.  Hand Clapper
7.  FM
8.  Electric Shock
9.  Gliter Freeze (Alternate Version)
10.  Gor Beaten
11.  Turns To Monsters (Gorllaz Remix)
12.  Shigoto No Ato Ni (Part II)
13.  Samba at 13
14.  Gorillaz On My Mind

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Updates Soon!

UPDATE:  Terribly sorry, all.  I had a last minute 2-month trip to White Bird, Idaho where I was helping run my Uncle's bar.  It was an obscure trip in a town of only 78 residents and five establishments.  I was able to film some footage on the side and I will be compiling a short documentary in the upcoming weeks.  There was no internet or cell service there, so now I am back with my interwebs!

The good news is that being secluded for so long allowed me to also work on new albums!  Yay! Smiley Face!


Alright, well I have to apologize for the lack of completion in these posts.  I will try to slowly finish them as I add even more albums in the upcoming days.  These include RJD2, Sparklehorse, Gorillaz and an epic collection of over 60 obscure and rare Beatles tracks that is an exhaustion of years of collecting Beatles bootlegs.

I hope you all have been enjoying!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Elliott Smith - A Shot of White Noise

Elliott Smith, one of the few artists to be given the descriptive moniker "the fifth Beatle," is that of legends.  Helping found the indie genre along with Modest Mouse and The Shins in the early 90s, Smiths influence can be seen in many current acts.  His story is also one of the great musical tragedies, battling with alcoholism and heroine use through most of his career, his life seemed to amount to a balancing act between depressive drug use and meditating, emotive musical output.  And of course, one day in 2003, it was simply too much.

An ocean of unreleased material has been uncovered, from B-sides to radio sessions to demos to strange obscurities.  A Shot Of White Noise is named after the only live performance on the set, "Another Standard Folk Song" also known as Crazy Fucker.  The collection begins on a more cheerful, love-struck note and ends with the final haunting song he completed prior to his death, "Suicide Machine."

This is a representation of the pure genius of Elliott Smith, as this collection of some b-sides, outtakes, demos and a couple tracks from New Moon, could easily be compared to some of his greatest outings, Either/Or, XO, Figure 8, etc.  Though there are dozens more outtakes, much time and dedication was taken to select the absolute best (my opinion) of his outtakes to add to any Smith fan, as well as act as a good jumping point; An Introduction To Elliott Smith Through Rarities, you could say.

Elliott Smith - A Shot Of White Noise (37:33)

Side A:

1.  I Don't Think I'm Ever Gonna Figure It Out
2.  Either/Or *
3.  No Name #6
4.  Place Pigalle
5.  Grand Mal
6.  Another Standard Folk Song
7. Miss Misery *

Side B:

8.  Let's Turn The Record Over
9.  Figure 8
10.  Everything's Okay
11.  First Timer *
12.  Whatever (Folk Song In C) *
13.  Abused
14.  Misery Let Me Down
15.  Suicide Machine
* indicates track is from New Moon anthology

We begin with a lovely ditty that, though a b-side to Speed Trials, seems like it is more the sibling of Say Yes; a catchy, melody-driven love song that acts as a great opener.  The second outtake is also from Either/Or, but this time it is the self-titled track, which seems to be a theme for Smith, to omit the title track from the album.  No Name #6 is a well-known outtake that has some excellent vocals.

Place Pigalle was the original title track for Figure 8 (the name of the album was originally Place Pigalle), again being omitted from the album entirely.  It is among his most loved bootleg releases.  Grand Mal was the original name for the album XO, and again, when the name was changed, Smith seemed to omit the track.  Another fan favorite.  Next up is one of the live songs from the collection, which slightly mirrors Folk Song In C.  This song is also known as Crazy Fucker.  Side A finalizes with the acoustic version of Miss Misery from New Moon, in my opinion the more preferable version.

Side B begins with an outtake from Elliott's final album and posthumous release.  When From A Basement on the Hill was pressed, there were nearly twice as many songs from the sessions that were not included.  This lead many fans to believe that the album was meant to be a two-disc ordeal. 

Figure 8, is the eponymous track that again found itself on the cutting room floor.  Everything's Okay is another track left off of his last album and is a reworking of an earlier song called Pretty Mary K.  First Timer and Whatever are the same versions from New Moon.  First Timer was also reworked into a different song for Smith's last work.  Abused is probably the most famous song left off of From a Basement on the Hill.  It was obviously left out due to its depressing nature. 

One of my favorite unreleased tracks, a live radio recording actually, is the penultimate track on A Shot of White Noise.  One of those incredibly catchy melodies and an acoustic guitar.  We end with the last song Smith worked on, aptly and sadly titled Suicide Machine.  For how negative it is, it has a rather uplifting beat.  I'm sorry if putting it as the final song is inappropriate.

Radiohead - No Logo

Usually considered to be the most fruitful and interesting output from Radiohead were their Kid A / Amnesiac sessions.  In 2000 nearly 30 songs were recorded during the same sessions that ended up cutting their most popular work, Kid A, and it's successor that is not meant to be taken as disc two or a b-sides album, Amnesiac.

No Logo, a book by Naomi Klein was a heavy influence for Thom and the rest of Radiohead at the time (it had recently been released).  At one point, they were thinking about entitling Kid A "No Logo."  The book deals with the over-branding of our culture, specifically focusing on the attack on youth via advertisements and other methods of propagating consumerism.

It seems that these concepts are peppered into some of the songs from the sessions, but in the vaguely metaphorical Radiohead sense, especially since at the time Thom was experimenting with using vocals as an instrument and many of the songs contain very few lyrics.

For my sake as a Radiohead lover, I compiled this album entitled No Logo, that collects all the outtakes from those sessions, exhausting them entirely (at least to my knowledge).  A lot of these tracks are available easily on the two-disc version of Amnesiac, but there are definitely a few surprises thrown in there.

Radiohead - No Logo (2003)

Side A:
1.  Fog
2.  Fast-Track
3.  Trans-Atlantic Drawl
4.  Monitor Operation
5.  Big Boots (demo)
6.  Worry Wort

Side B:
7.  Kinetic
8.  The Amazing Sound Of Orgy
9.  Cuttooth
10.  I Am Citizen Insane
11.  Motion Picture Soundtrack / No Logo

Jay-Z and Company present The Black Album

To clarify, "company" refers to:  Aesop Rock, The Beatles, Cannibal Ox, Radiohead, Redman, RJD2, Soul Position, Weezer & Yasunori Mitsuda.

The Black Album was slated to be Jay-Z's final LP and is probably one of the most anticipated hip hop albums of all time, and is probably one of the greatest hip hop albums thus far.  But what you get when you mix the remixing nature of hip hop with easily available and cheap technology is a lot of remixes.

Mashups are the name of the game with this compilation, and holy crap are there a slew of remixes of the entire Black Album and Jay-Z in general.  There's The Grey Album, a mix of The Black Album with The Beatles White Album; The Silver Album, mashed with RJD2 and affiliated projects; The Black & Blue Album, mashed with Weezer's Blue Album; and then various other mixes including Jaydiohead, a mash of Radiohead, and Chrono Jigga, a mix with the Chrono Trigger soundtrack.

The tracklisting is changed entirely to create a different experience, allow for surprise, and flow better.

Jay-Z (featuring Aesop Rock, The Beatles, Cannibal Ox, Radiohead, Redman, RJD2, Soul Position, Weezer & Yasunori Mitsuda) - The Black Album

Side A:
1.  Intro (w/ RJD2)
2.  Public Service Announcement (w/ Yasunori Mitsuda)
3.  My First Song (w/ Aesop Rock)
4.  Change Clothes (w/ The Beatles)
5.  Dirt Off Your Shoulders (w/ Radiohead)
6.  Lucifer (w/ Soul Position)
7.  Allure (w/ Redman)

Side B:
8.  Threat (w/ Soul Position)
9.  99 Problems (w/ The Beatles)
10.  Justify (w/ Weezer)
11.  What More Can I Say (w/ The Beatles)
12.  December 4th (w/ Cannibal Ox)
13.  Encore (w/ Radiohead)
14.  Moment Of Clarity (w/ Weezer)

Sufjan Stevens - The 50 States

In 2003, Sufjan Stevens released Michigan, an album meant to initiate his ambitious Fifty States Project, where Sufjan was to release an album based on each of the states. In 2005, he followed up with the sprawling Illinoise, perhaps his greatest album to date.

After these two albums, he seemed to drop the project for more obtainable goals and concepts, leaving a slew of songs planned for other states to never see official release, including the infamous track The 50 States Song, which for years only existed as a live recording.

Combining out takes from both Michigan and Illinoise, as well as a handful of compositions produced during this era, a grand new album has been compiled as a catch-all, entitled The 50 States.  In my opinion, this is Sufjan's best era, so this is hands-down a recommendation for anyone not familiar with Sufjan Stevens.  You won't believe some of these are outtakes for Christ's sake!

Oh and it's a confusing release:  two mini-LPs

Sufjan Stevens - The 50 States

Side A:
1.  The 50 States Song
2.  No Man's Land
3.  The Lord God Bird
4.  The Midnight Clear
Side B:
5.  Presidents And Magistrates
6.  Niagara Falls
7.  Lakes of Canada
8.  The Mistress Witch From Mcclure (Or, the Mind that Knows Itself)
Side C:
9.  Adlai Stevenson
10.  The Avalanche
11.  Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in His Hair
12.  Maple River
Side D
13.  The Star Spangled Banner
14.  Majesty, Snowbird

Many years ago I indulged in the rarities of Sufjan Stevens via various places on the web.  At that point I had been heavily into his epic Illinoise, spanning over 20 tracks and exploding with musical excellence.  This album, along with Greetings From Michigan, were the first albums of the proposed but later dropped concept albums of The 50 States Project.  It was to be one album per State, an overwhelming endeavor.

I originally compiled a second disc for Illinoise, using many of the songs from the album The Avalanche, which is a catalog of the outtakes from Illinoise.  At this time the only version of The 50 States I could find was a rough live recording, so I just took a few out of place tracks from other b-sides and made a part two that satisfied me.

Upon further gathering, I discovered a studio version of not only The 50 States Song, but of The Star Spangled Banner.  Immediately I began compiling, this time taking tracks from both The Avalanche and the outtakes from Michigan.  A few other tracks recorded during this lovely period are also included.

No Man's Land (2), The Mistress Witch From Mcclure (8), Adlai Stevenson (9), The Avalanche (10), Springfield (11) are from The Avalanche (AKA Illinoise outtakes).  Presidents and Magistrates (5) and Niagra Falls (6) are from the LP exclusive Greetings From Michigan second album of outtakes. 

The Midnight Clear (4) is from Sufjan Steven's Christmas EP recorded just after Illinoise.  The Lakes of Canada (7), Maple River (12) and Majesty, Snowbird (14) are live recordings.

Theme was very important when compiling this album, as there are at least a dozen other songs I could have selected from.  The opening track, The 50 States Song, and the penultimate track, The Star Spangled Banner, lay the scope fully.  This is an album about the fifty states and everything in between. 

Presidents and Magistrates and No Man's Land were obvious choices, and The Lord God Bird (3), from a radio session, is one of Steven's best-known bootlegs.  It was a necessary addition, fitting the theme perfectly.  Many songs of the two albums officially released had to do with personal stories and trials. 

The Midnight Clear, though recorded for a Christmas album, has very little imagery other than winter, and when you think of Christmas, you think of America.  I included very particular songs from The Avalanche, songs that focused on personal conflict as well as upbeat songs that lyrically connected to the American theme.  Springfield was a choice made merely because of the name, though the song is really excellent.

The set ends with Majesty, Snowbird, perhaps one of Sufjan Steven's greatest recordings.  I pray for the day a studio version is released. 

Sufjan Stevens is one of my favorite artists, and in my opinion, one of the best artists around today.  It seems that for the time being, like so many other artists, he has entered the realm of electronic music.  Though excellent on its own merits (really, The Age of Adz is great), there will always be a soft spot in my heart for his folky, more acoustic outings.

The Unicorns - Unicorns From The Future (2-Disc Set)

Happy New Year and here we go again with hopefully a fruitful amount of posts!  With this new slew of conceptual bootlegs, I may focus on more recent artists, but if you are not familiar with these artists, this is an excellent way to do so.

The Unicorns recorded the cult-classic and incredibly valid indie-rock album Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone in 2003, and released it in 2004, being their only heavily produced album.  Earlier this year, it was reissued and is readily available at most record stores, so sample on youtube if you must, but it is an album I consider a masterpiece; not many of those.

The reason for only one album is the strenuous recording sessions with the two singers seemingly always fighting or upset with each other.  The music they were able to make has some strange charm to it that is not present in many other indie or post-alternative (lol) rock album.  Something like a nostalgically innocent feeling of being a kid and for the first time acknowledging what death is.

Of the hard to find and/or out of print material, there is their other semi-official album Unicorns Are People Too, two much rarer EPs called All Parts and Collision and Three Inches of Blood, and a slew of loose songs leaked via the internet. The only release after the 2004 Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone, was a 4-track EP entitled, simply, 2014.

Well to celebrate the last 365 days (happy new year! by the way), and our transition into 2015, I have a special 2-disc set entitled Unicorns From The Future.  Disc one is an album entitled simply 2014 including the entire EP of the same name along with songs from solo work and the aforementioned rare releases.  Disc two is entitled Return To The Sea, and is nearly the entire WWCOHWWG album in demo form, with three unreleased songs to fill the gaps.

The Unicorns - Unicorns From The Future

Disc One: 2014

Side A
1. #ORANGE ***
2. The Unicorns: 2014 *
3.  I Do It **
4.  Thunder & Lightning **
5.  Piste 21 ***
6. Do The Knife Fight ***

 Side B
7.  Ruff Gem
8.  Emasculate The Masculine *
9.  Bayou Billy ***
10.  Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby
11.  Big Kind Death ***
12.  Evacuate The Vacuous *
13.  Ebb Tide, Azure Sky *
14.  Bonus: 2014 (Demo) *

Disc Two:  Return To The Sea

Side Not Ready:
1.  I Don't Wanna Die ***
2.  Tuff Ghost ***
3.  Sea Ghost ***
4.  Ghost Mountain **
5.  Jellybones **
6.  Child Star **

Side Ready:
7.  Let's Get Known ***
8.  I Was Born A Unicorn **
9.  Let Me Sleep
10.  Innoculate The Innoculous **
11.  Les Os **
12.  Peach Moon *
13.  Let It Go ***

* From 2014 EP
** From an "official" release (see above)
*** Leaked via internet

The first disc is a collection of songs from Unicorns Are People Too that aren't from their recently reissued LP, the songs from the EP 2014, two songs from their rarer EPs and two songs from the solo project Islands debut album Return To The Sea.  These songs are Ruff Gem and Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby; both of these songs were recorded in demo or live form during The Unicorns existence.

The second disc is an attempt at an early-draft version of the epic Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone.  The entire first half of the album (Side Not Ready on the official album) is available in early form, except for The Clap.  The opening I Don't Want To Die was leaked via the internet and to my knowledge does not exist on any actual release.  Tuff Ghost is from a radio sessions, as no demo was available.  Sea Ghost was also leaked online.

Ghost Mountain is the last song from Unicorns Are People Too, and the demo/early version of Jelly Bones is from Three Inches of Blood EP.  Child Star is also from Unicorns Are People Too, ending side not ready.

Side Ready has a few more absent songs, where there just simply wasn't an existing alternate version I could find.  Let's Get Known is present, being leaked online in a very rough demo form.  There are also radio sessions of this song but they are so similar to the actual version that this lo-fi track will do.  I Was Born A Unicorn is the definitive version from Unicorns Are People Too.

The first track to be missing is  The Clap from the first side, which is simply omitted.  Tuff Luff sadly does not exist either, so Let Me Sleep is added in here, a bonus track from the deluxe edition of the remaster.  Innoculate The Innoculous is from Unicorns Are People Too and Les Os is from All Parts And Collisions EP.  A track entitled Peach Moon is placed after Les Os. Originally I had Big Kind Death here, but Peach Moon seems to be more befitting of this album.

The final song on the album, Ready To Die, had no alternate take that I could find, although there was an interesting leaked track called Let It Go.  When I added it to my iTunes, it had the album Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?, leading me to believe at one point it was to be included on the LP.  It works perfectly as a closing track, though much more somber than the official release.