Akron/Family Love is Simple [Young God Records]


Rating: 7.0

It is a bit challenging to introduce Akron/Family to those who may not be familiar with them. The group consists of four young men who mainly write a strange blend of folk-rock that most people will instantly lump into this trendy new category termed ‘freak folk.’ They are not from Akron, OH, and as far as one can tell, they have nothing to do with the town. Instead, they hail from various small towns in the US and have settled in New York City. Their new CD and 2xLP is their third full length album entitled Love is Simple, and it is a continuation of what we have seen and heard from the group on their previous releases.

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Roky Erickson and the Explosives Live at Bumbershoot

Seattle, WA – September 3, 2007

After spending the better part of at least a decade controlling Sputnik satellites from his remote position somewhere at zero gravity, Roky Erickson, of Thirteenth Floor Elevators fame, has decided to come back down to planet Earth in order to sing his wonderful songs about vampires, serial killers, ghosts, mythological beasts and other assorted creatures. In 2005, Erickson started performing again after disappearing from the public eye for many years. You had better be grateful for that because without his presence, rock music today would be missing an awful lot of character. Roky and his current group, the Explosives, performed for the first time ever in Seattle at the Bumbershoot festival, and they were incredibly competent, engaging, and touching at the same time.

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Bert Jansch Live in Portland, OR @ Lola’s Room


August 28, 2007

On a blazing Indian summer evening in downtown Portland where the second floor of the Crystal Ballroom became soggy with humidity and stagnant air, I had the privilege to witness the legendary Bert Jansch in concert. From the opening notes of “It Don’t Bother Me,” the title track from his second LP in 1965, it was like observing someone who invented the fucking guitar as his fingers were so agile that it made me never want to pick up the instrument again. His unique way of playing has almost single-handedly modernized the way that acoustic based music is played. The other thing about Jansch that makes him so amazing and untouchable is that he does not confine himself to merely be a member of one genre like so many artists do, rather he takes his folk, blues and rock influences and adds just as much of his own autonomous style to create an amalgam of music that is both highly varied and also instantly recognizable.

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Luke Temple Snowbeast [Mill Pond Records]


Rating: 7.9

Luke Temple succeeds where most modern folk rockers go astray. He concentrates on formulating visual music rife with vivid imagery instead of wearing his heart on his sleeve through acoustic slush. This is the reason why so many folk rockers turn out dreck and ultimately join the ranks of achy douches who happen to wield a Dreadnaught instead of a Strat. The strongest asset of Temple’s music is the dizzying gusto that comes out of the keyboards. The twittering organ harmonies skip, skitter, and bop to make Snowbeast less singer-songwriter fare and more along the lines of late ‘60s acid experimentation.

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Mick Harvey Two of Diamonds [Mute Records]


Rating: 7.5

While Nick Cave has been recording with a group under the name Grinderman, longtime Bad Seed and fellow Birthday Party cohort, Mick Harvey, has just released his fourth album (not including soundtracks). For this recording, Harvey has employed the Bad Seeds’ Thomas Wydler and James Johnston to assist him with another amalgam of cover songs and a few original tunes. His first two solo records contained reinterpretations of Serge Gainsbourg songs that were translated to English while his last album, One Man’s Treasure, followed the same formula of the new disc, Two of Diamonds.

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Memphis A Little Place in the Wilderness


Rating: 5.4

Soft rock has its place. It’s good in old folks homes, in the moving/inspirational/epiphanic moments of romantic comedies… but soft rock doesn’t fit in as the bastard child of one surprisingly good band, Luxe, a somewhat unknown early collaboration between Torquil Campbell, Chris Dumont and James Shaw (of Metric), and Campbell’s newest involvement, Stars. Memphis formed during Dumont’s vacation in Campbell’s hometown of Vancouver, B.C. They got together, spilled their creative juices (eek) and Memphis was born.

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Psychic TV/PTV3 Hell is Invisible…Heaven is Here [Sweet Nothing/Cargo Records]


Rating: 7.5

For those uninitiated to the upside down world of Genesis P. Orridge and his truly bizarre existence, he has been an instrumental influence on experimental groups ever since he started the highly controversial Throbbing Gristle in England in the late 1970s. Just when that seminal group imploded in 1980, Genesis went on to begin another seminal act called Psychic TV. In their original form, they released two proper albums, the strange, creepy and excellent Force the Hand of Chance (1982) and Dreams Less Sweet (1983), before two of it’s members moved on to form yet another influential experimental band, Coil. Orridge has spent the remainder of his career assembling other versions of Psychic TV in addition to multiple other projects. Hell is Invisible… is the first studio album, however, that Psychic TV has recorded in over ten years, and the most recent version of the group is being dubbed Psychic TV/PTV3.

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