Category Archives: Album of the Week

Denki Groove Decade: 2008-2017

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On March 12, 2019, Pierre Taki tested positive for a small amount of cocaine. In America this would be no big deal; a temporary embarrassment as your mug shot floats around the ‘net, perhaps a limited-run reality series as you attempt to get sober. In Japan, you’re basically banished from the planet. Apparently this is big news, as sales of the PS4 game Judgment suddenly came to a halt, which seems grossly unfair to the hundreds of people who worked on it. More important to me is the complete vanishing of the Denki Groove catalogue from all retailers and streaming services. I was stoked to finally be able to buy DG stuff on iTunes (instead of paying import prices or searching high and low for a way to pirate it), and it was awesome that I could now point people to Spotify rather than dodgy live videos on YouTube. All of that, just gone overnight.  And they wonder why I insist on carrying that ol’ fashioned iPod around.
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Haruomi Hosono – Nokto De La Galaksia Fervojo (1985)

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Now that we’re in the throes of Polar Vortex 2019, I figured it was time to revisit a few of my favorite Winter albums. Not in the celebratory or romantic sense of the season, but rather the Wisconsin Winter in as it really is in the dead of January. The sheets of white that blanketed everything have turned grey and brown, the trees are bare, and there’s no one on the streets. As the subzero days pile up, people get crankier and more emotionally distant.  Outside of being able to store your beer outside, there’s virtually nothing good about it; shoveling snow sucks, and driving in it is even worse.

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Sifl and Olly – Songs of Season 1

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Sit down, children, and I’ll tell you a tale of a time when MTV used to play music videos. What’s that? Grandpa already told you that one? Huh? “What’s MTV?” Alright, let’s start over. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t really into the music videos at the time; even as a pre-teen dipshit, I knew when I was being pandered to. What I really liked was the oddball original programming they came up with. Daria, Celebrity Deathmatch, Tom Green, that one cartoon with the alien who lived inside the dude’s gigantic head, and so on. Too old for Nickelodeon, too young for…whatever this was, but I still preferred to punch above my weight class, so to speak.

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Avalanches – Wildflower (2016)

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It’s only appropriate that I pick this album for the return of Critter Jams, as Wildflower is also a highly anticipated comeback that many people said was never gonna happen. Can’t say I caught Avalanche fever the first time around, but these sort of constantly teased and perpetually delayed albums are always interesting to me, even when they turn out to be as overcooked and joyless as Chinese Democracy. I mean this thing was in the works for over a decade; I remember its release seeming imminent way back in 2007. By the time it actually came out they’d pulled the football so many times that its existence practically felt surreal.

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The ELP Permutations, Part 3.2: The Rules Have Changed (2018)

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Now for what this three-week trip down this strange tangent is really about. If you didn’t read the last entry about 3 (the one-off supergroup featuring Keith Emerson, Robert Berry, and Carl Palmer), here’s the gist of it: To the Power of 3 pretty much bites, but Live Boston ’88, released in 2015, kicks ass. Upon receiving a promo copy, Emerson phoned up Berry to say so himself, leading Berry to ask if he’d like to record another album together. He agrees, funding is secured, and soon the two start working parts out over the phone and saving them in ProTools. If you’re reading this, then you know what happens next. The album is shelved.
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The ELP Permutations, Part 3

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In 1988, Carl Palmer was free from his duties in Asia and ELP proper were set to reform. However this time Greg Lake came down with a massive case of “just not feelin’ it, you guys”, perhaps feeling burned by the Cozy Powell experience. This of course is a common occurrence in that camp. Something tells me that if ELP’s debut album hadn’t sold so well that Keith Emerson and Greg Lake would have never had anything further to do with each other; such conflicting personalities those dudes had. Hell, it nearly happened anyway when Tarkus was recorded. But money fixes everything, doesn’t it? Not even saying that to knock the guys…you’d be a fool to walk away from that.
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The ELP Permutations, Part 1: Emerson, Lake, and who?

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Emerson, Lake, and Powell will always be one of the funniest album titles to me. I remember encountering this at a used CD shop when I was 10, looking at the cover and wondering, “could it be…?”. At this point, ELP were one of the five or six bands I actually liked, thanks to my Dad playing them around the house all the time when I was young. But this was the mid-90s, and I didn’t have a record guide or anything like that, so really the only thing I knew about them was that they put out some cool albums before I was born. For all I knew they’d retired off to some island in the Caribbean, never to be seen again.  Seeing this in the shop answered a few questions for me.  Between the album title and the cover art (which resembled the cover of Scattergories more than the armadillo tanks and shirtless men of ELP past) I was able to figure that they’d likely fallen on hard times, and for some reason Carl Palmer didn’t want to play with them anymore, so they recruited another “P” and quickly dashed something out in the hopes that the fans wouldn’t notice he was missing.
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