Listening Notes, Ultra-Brief (Pt. 137)


Dub Thompson, 9 Songs     (Dead Oceans)

Anybody dismissing Parquet Courts as little more than the sum of their influences should steer clear of this teenaged Agoura Hills duo, who kick off their full-length with a shout-out to the drummer for This Heat. Smart alecks who name songs after distal end protrusions, they set aside antediluvian principles enough to allow for overdubbing, meaning they don’t sound much like a guitar/drums duo - ah, sweet bass lines (single-minded rocker “Mono” could be primo Delta 5). Their love song steals the organ setting from Max Romeo’s “Wet Dream” and goes “Baby, you’ve got no time for love”. Their funk song rhymes “dog races” with “sick faces”. Their song about Ash Wednesday has them feeling “like Jesus’s son” (where’d they get that one?). Acid-surf demo tapes left inside the dryer: the punk rock aesthetic strikes again.


Craig Leon, Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1: Nommos/Visiting     (Rvng Intl)

After producing Suicide and introducing The Ramones to Sire under Richard Gottehrer’s watchful eye, producer/composer Craig Leon eventually left Max’s Kansas City for starchier venues - the last fifteen years have found him arranging microphones for Sony Classical and Deutsche Grammophon. But wedged between those gigs was this auspicious programming tour de force, in which John Fahey’s Takoma label tentatively opened its doors to punk-informed electronic minimalism. With used copies now fetching small Ebay fortunes and having long ago lost the rights to his original master tapes, Leon did what any self-respecting hardware specialist might do, which is re-record both 1981’s Nommos and 1983’s Visiting note-for-note using original studio transcriptions, meaning his arsenal of Rolands, Oberheims, ARPs and a LinnDrum prototype sound fuller than before. Sure, Leon’s Dogon fantasies are even less based in reality than Julius Hemphill’s. But those machine-like ostinatos and kosmiche washes remain iconoclastic. You may hear harbingers of industrial’s tin and din, or the cold Downtown pulse of Suicide itself (“Donkeys Bearing Cups”). And while “Visiting” proper wobbles along the thin line separating Cluster & Eno from Steven Halpern, “Region Of Fleeing Civilians” suggests Mercer Arts Center kids eating to the kraftwerk beat.   




Sia, 1000 Forms Of Fear     (Monkey Puzzle / RCA)

Having effectively ironed out her weirder flourishes, this poppy first-in-four-years return won’t endear itself to the alt kids who once pinned their hopes on “Breathe Me” or the club kids who banged to “The Girl You Lost To Cocaine”. But as Sia herself once opined, some people have real problems - if she still claims an ability to swing from any light fixture within reach, “Chandelier” itself mines adult gravity if not outright misfortune while detailing an around the way girl slogging headlong into alcoholism. Shutting out The Weeknd’s guest appearance on glitch-hop “Elastic Heart,” informing Frankie Valli that “big girls cry / when their heart is breaking,” and taunting “hit me like a baseball” like Lana Del Rey’s urbane auntie, she’s still the downtempo queen, although not exactly chilled out.