Arts Desk

Tuesday Rock City: Mi Ami, Lithops, Group Bombino

Way back before the internet caused record release dates to become elusive, abstract, and largely disregarded by the music loving public, Tuesday was the big day. And whether it began at midnight while you were pounding on the door of Tower Records (now deceased) or hurrying over to an indie-store like DCCD (also deceased) after work, so long as something decent to listen to came out, Tuesday was a day to look forward to. This column, which will include brief reviews of new records on the day that they're set to be physically released, is an attempt to get back to those hallowed pre-broadband days when gratification was just a little bit more delayed and when Tuesday rocked.

To set the mood, I've included this clip from The Rondelles song for which this column in named.

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Mi Ami: Echonoecho 12" (Quarterstick)

San Francisco's Mi Ami, seen regularly on this blog, drops a new 12" teaser for its upcoming full-length Watersports. The ingredients are the same as usual–feedback, delay, plenty of roto toms–but they're lovingly assembled into an extended eight-minute dub-punk odyssey that soothes with one hand but uses the other to slap you in the face with stereocilia-ravaging guitar. The flip is a deconstructed dub version, spruced up by some spacey synth drones. Overall, an excellent precursor to a full-length that is sure to be one of '09s finest afro-technological/mystic-punk records. (Aaron Leitko)

Pitchfork is streaming the a-side in it's entirety here.


Lithops: Ye Viols! (Thrill Jockey)
Jan St. Werner made his name producing squelchy beats for the electronic groups Mouse on Mars and Von Sudenfed, but Ye Viols!, which compiles several scores that Werner composed for art installations, is mostly just squelch. If I had to guess what the accompanying art works looked like based on songs like "apps 1" and "indutech", I would probably guess that they involved either a room full of giant orbs or SEM images of bare-scalped Mutek attendees. But when it comes to conjuring an abstract geometry of blips and hums, Werner might as well be Frank Gehry and the songs here, weird as they are, have enough juice to stand alone outside of the gallery. (AL)

Thrill Jockey is currently streaming the whole record here.


Group Bombino: Guitars From Agadez Vol. 2 (Sublime Frequencies)

Not every African band has a revolutionary backstory, but this one does. In early 2007, Sublime Frequencies co-founder Hisham Mayet discovered Group Bombino in Agadez, a Niger city accessible only by traveling a landmine littered road with a military escort, according to the label. Mayet recorded the group—led by guitar genius Omara Mochtar— live in Agadez and the surrounding desert with generator-powered equipment, and pressed 1500 LPs of the music that was made.

The first half of the record features an almost mournful Mochtar playing acoustic or "dry" guitar, his rhythms punched out with handclaps, the songs sung out in layered voices. The second half is reserved for the thumpers, with Moctar plugged in persistently sustaining a groove, trilling notes over the thick bass. The LP joins two other recent Sublime Frequencies releases that focus on modern African guitar sounds and the Tuareg scene. Years from now, Tuareg may be viewed as this century's new Delta or Mississippi Hill Country, with Mochtar in the role of R.L. Burnside and Mayat as its Alan Lomax. (Jason Cherkis)

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