Today marks the first in a weekly series called Friday Finds where I make a mix of those items that have, amidst my musical travels and explorations, peaked my interest in celebration of that day of all days, the day that gets God the most props, the day they call Friday. Here's your playlist for this week. 

Mongo Santamaria - The Windjammer
Bonzo Goes to Washington - 5 Minutes (C-C-C-Club Mix)
Goodie Mob - Hat Low
Silver Apples - Ruby
Sun Ra - Island in the Sun
The Eloise Trio - Chi Chi Merengue
I Led 3 Lives - 5 Curious Red (In Flagranti Mix)
Big Daddy - Twister's Ball
Onra - Super Genesis (Feat. Häzel)
M. Templeton + aA. Munson - This Will Pass
The Sea and Cake - Weekend
Raekwon - Blue Eagles
Bullion - Wouldn't It Be Nice (J Dilla and Pet Sounds mashup)
Emeralds - Alive in the Sea of Information
Moondog - Tress Against the Sky

Click here to download the zipped mix

Here We Go Magic is a band I've been listening to for the past few weeks but for some reason have been avoiding posting about. Partly, I think that's because I wasn't sure whether they were just another DIY indie pop group bound for the south by southwest paper shredder, or whether their early hyped track "Tunnelvision" was the only good thing going for them. Admittedly, when I heard that they were opening for Department of Eagles, I thought a bit differently about them - Dept. of Eagles and Grizzly Bear being certainly one of the most imaginative, compositionally and orchestrally sensitive bands in indie rock right now, and took a closer listen to the rest of their self titled album out on Western Vinyl. Tunnelvision is such an effervescent track, but I had a few issues with the low fi production. Don't get me wrong, going low fi works to several advantages. For starters, the way to succeed in low fi is to have your musicianship match the recording quality, so it's ok, if not preferable, to play like shit on a low fi recording. It fits the whole ethos of the thing. Secondly, low fi has a kind of empathetic power to it by being warm, crackly, of a different era. It's like a mangy dog, you feel sort of bad for it, you wonder where it came from, and how it got that way. Likewise, a low fi recording calls attention to its creation, thereby humanizing the dudes who recorded it, and by extension the music itself. But in this case, the production on "Tunelvision" is so aggressively compressed and overdriven that it loses a lot of the warmth and approachability that it was trying for. It becomes almost annoying. Can you imagine the track with the same production style as Grizzly Bear? Where the sense of DIY is still present but the bass is rich, the instruments are perfectly spatialized, and the high end isn't so piercing? The real benefit to sounding like you recorded with a four track (whether you did or didn't, in this case it appears that they did) is that people will assume that you're up and coming, that they've "discovered" you. But what happens after that buzz wears off, then you're stuck with some really great songs that sound like shit and that's now your signature aesthetic. You can always go hi-fi, but what about the backlash from low-fi fans, the label's desire for continuity, not to mention whether your low-fi work was hiding deficiencies in your musicianship.
Thankfully, Here We Go Magic's has enough musical interest that the problems in production are largely overshadowed. The track "Fangela" is a beautiful song, with a real careful sense of harmonic and instrumental color. The whole song is framed around a repetitive beat/bass structure. But the details are shifting all around it. For example, the synth arpeggios that come in in the coda really open the song up to the heavens. The clap/wood block rhythmic hook that mimics the chorus "Fan-ge-LA!" is actually the catchiest part of the song, by virtue of being a percussive element that turns so refreshingly melodic, partially because it's in direct response to the melody itself and also because it just pops. The constant 16th note zither line (or is it a mandolin?) that snakes round every chord change and propels the whole rhythm section, also gives the song a welcome scent of evil. Elsewhere, the album is less immediately fulfilling in terms of full tracks, but there are superbly interesting textures and colors to appreciate. From the rubbery guitar lick in Ahab that is somewhat undercut by a pretty lackluster chanted vocal harmony that sounds like a bad Pink Floyd b-side. A similar problem pervades the track "I Just Want to See You Underwater" where the underwater part is clear and vividly drawn in the swirling guitar cross patterns, but once the beat gets going its sounds less like a river than a clogged up brook, and the melody fits in as just another piece of the larger groove. This isn't true of "Tunnelvision" or "Fangela", where the melody isn't burried but soars above the rest of the accumulated braid. I've heard some strange comparisons online but to me, this record owes everything to Paul Simon Rhythm of the Saints. No where is this more true than on "Only Pieces", which is not only the best produced track on the album, it's also my favorite. I wish it was 3 or 4 minutes longer and had a B section, but hey, the name of the game these days isn't song writing but groove making. Wish we all could agree to do both.

Only Pieces
I Just Want to See You Underwater

Here's a remix I did of Bon Iver's (who's pictured above, defaced by yours truly) gorgeous auto-tuned track "Woods" off his Blood Bank EP. I'm trying to think of a good name to put this (and anything else of this ilk) out under. So if anyone has any great suggestions let me know. Hope people likey.

Woods (Remix)

New Odd Nosdam out on Anticon. I've been a fan of this dude since cLoudDead's first record. He's the other beat head from the original anticon crew other than Jel, but I've always had the feeling that he's more of the boom-bap lover than Jel, who I think would rather be making music like Fennesz if he could. The music for this record was made for the Skateboarding video This Is My Element, but it doesn't need to read like that if you don't want it to. It's got a lot of the bitcrushed, fuzzwad earthiness that you'd expect from him, but there's also such a lovely degree of nostalgia thrown around. Some old dub ("Top Rank"), CSNY ("Root Bark"), some old hardcore from some friend's band I imagine he listened to back in high school ("We Bad Apples"), an old Egyptian Lover 80's rap bit ("Trunk Bomb"), and something from a long lost tropical/western tune that I wish Harry Belafonte had sung on ("One for Dallas"). It has become passé almost among beatmakers to crate dig into far away lands (just to be clear, I'm not sure whether he's digging for his samples or making them himself, but the nostalgia/genre recognition effect is somewhat similar regardless - the difference is only in the process), it's cooler now to remix new tracks with the sample out in front rather than hide it as Odd Nosdam has done, or make your samples from scratch. But it's refreshing to hear someone do it right, with a style so linked up with the origin of anticon and everything they do. It's precise but spaced out, melancholic but emergent, and altogether soulful in ways that make all these glossed up, clean as a whistle beat records look sterile or poncey. Good eats beats.

Top Rank
Root Bark
One for Dallas
Ethereal Slap
Fly Mode

Food of the Gods is a project from Miho Hatori (of Cibo Matto), Thomas Bullock of Map Of Africa/ARE Weapons, Tim Koh on guitar, plus a supergroup of percussive warriors including DJ Harvey, Eddie Ruscha Jr. and others. Their 12" is out on Whatever We Want Records. It's a hard piece of music to find on anything other than a £17 British import and I still can't get my paws on the B side cut "Poison Apple" which on short listen sounds just as much the psyched out motherland jungle fantasy as "Boy from Brazil" the track included here. Someone's driving a BMW too fast through dirt roads in thatched roof enclaves in the middle of this recording session. Hatori's voice is sometimes post bong hit, sometimes on the verge of an emotional meltdown, sometimes channeling Robert Plant. It's got all the style of Can without the fetishistic. What is it about German globetrotting that it always feels like somehow it's just so hard for them to fully inhabit another place. Even the Karl Hector & the Malcouns stuff I posted the other day is starting to feel more and more tight assed the more I listen to it. It's part of what I love and hate about stuff coming out of Germany. It's easy for us, exploiting other culture's riches while we collectively forget our own comes so naturally!

Boy from Brazil

Some fresh new disco from DFA (their Death From Abroad contingency), London's Cage & Aviary have a stupidly enjoyable EP out called 'Television Train'.  We're talking white boy funk here people, a flat, shy delivery, sloppy playing, tempo just a few clicks slower than a house track, and moments that spring from nothing all stupid and giddy (find the Prince/Tom Tom Club guitar wackawacka in "Television Train").  I sense a delirious taste for the absurd in these dudes and that makes them as refreshing as the hail storm that just blasted through L.A.  Wtf?

Television Train

Boston based dude who (possibly) shares the name Emil Hirsch with the famous actor and likes to fuck with blogs about it.  He's one of about six thousand dudes who go to Emerson and are making electro records but for some reason this one hits it right on the money.  It's like a less pretentious MGMT (leave it to Boston to toe the line).  I just get a special warm feeling when a Boston band does something truer AND doper than their far more hyped cousins from Brooklyn.  His EP called Downed Economy is out on Sweet Touch, and it's available at this location
The title track "Downed Economy" and "short order cooks" are my favorite but I've got some high hopes for a long player sometime this year.  

Hamilton Yarns are an oddball folk project from Brighton, England that has one of the most idiosyncratic sounds I've heard in quite a long time.  Marrying found sounds, drone, modern composition and collage with simple repetitive folk figures and orchestrations, storytelling, conversational call and responses, and a good deal of bedroom indie pop.  It's a strange basket of fruit I'll give you that, but it really really works.  It's mysterious and playful without being precious, compositionally engaging despite feeling nearly void of predetermined structure (how do they create these songs?  is it improv? do they even try to perform them largely the same way they were recorded?  or do they appear out of the air once, during the solstice, then wisp away on the wings of forest sprites to a castle guarded by fearsome gnomes??).  Are they an apparition?  A prayer or meditation?  Or are they merely like a drippy watercolor from an illustration in a children's book?  Unlike drone oriented freak folk outfits (like Six Organs of Admittance), Hamilton Yarns aren't interested in embellishing timbre for the purposes of a sensory overhaul, some kind of enlightened thinking, or a spatial projection of landscape or auditory architecture, they're writing songs.  Even the found sounds aren't meant to evoke a specific scene, they're just the beautiful small workings of everyday things animated by the everyday.  I imagine them getting up and ritually cranking out these songs with the ease of folding laundry.  And unlike bedroom folk pop, like Lullatone, or Mum, Hamilton Yarns aren't exploring their inner six year old by putting on funny hats and having tea with a table full of dolls.  They sound more like a group that's utterly comfortable doing just about anything in the studio together.  Now this may include jibber-jabber, counting from 1 to 3, and attempted solos on instruments they've never played, like a bicycle wheel (although something tells me they've got a resident bicycle wheelist in the group).   And while these are most certainly songs, within each the structures are sprawling and various.  They don't just find a pretty idea and roam till their high wears off.  They've got definition, they've got a shape.  On paper, the similarities between this band and the Books, one of the other great found sound folk experimentalists, are quite marked, but by ear, they're super distinct.  The Books have a greater emphasis on virtuosity, on narrative, and on emotional catharsis.  Hamilton Yarns are far more elusive instrumentally, conceptually, and especially emotionally.  None of these songs are overtly sad, none happy either, none nostalgic (unless you are in fact a gnome), and none futuristic. They're simply a strange, frequently lovely, frequently fascinating dialogue between calm, focused, inescapably musical people.  
These tracks below are from various albums since 2001, but the band is anticipating three releases this year alone.  Go to their website where they offer free downloads of most of their catalogue.