Thom Martin, 1975-2015

We are devastated at the unexpected loss of Thom Martin this week. Thom was a dear friend and multimedia artist, whose works included the eponymous Dresden Dolls album and visuals for both Brainwaves festivals. He is a longtime friend and our love goes out to his family and friends.

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cover imageContinuing a strong and consistent period of activity that began in earnest with the third installment of the Read & Burn series, the legendary band's 14th album is yet another high water mark in their expansive (and extremely impressive) discography. Primary songwriting duo Colin Newman and Graham Lewis provide 11 all new songs that blend their artistic obtuseness with catchy songwriting and melodies, the type of sound that made Chairs Missing and The Ideal Copy so brilliant. With Robert Grey's steady drumming and an expanded role for guitarist Matt Simms, Wire is full of moments that are weird, sometimes challenging, but always fascinating and memorable.

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Ten years ago, launched The Eye, one of the first regular music oriented video features online. Over the years, close to 150 mini documentaries were produced from live and interview footage with some of the most innovative acts. In the last few weeks, the videos have been re-visited, re-mastered, and re-presented on YouTube. We're excited for the new resolution, sound, and clarity of these features, along with the portability afforded by YouTube. Over the next few weeks we will be randomly selecting features on the home page here of Brainwashed but you can always  Start at the beginning and see where it takes you!

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Pause for Silence

Brainwashed is taking a pause to remember those whose lives were either ended or forever changed due to the events over the last week. We thank you for understanding and encourage the support of legitimate, humanitarian, peaceful organizations.

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Jason Molina, 1974-2013 are saddened to learn of the passing of Jason Molina, as reported in Chunklet, today. Jason was best known as the singer/songwriter of Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs:Ohia and also released and toured under his own name. Jason was a friend of Brainwashed, allowing us a rare video interview for The Eye back in 2003. Jason was clearly one of the hardest working musicians in the business and for years had a touring schedule so rigorous that very few band members lasted long. In all his incarnations he has amassed an astounding 18 full-length albums between 1996 and 2009. Jason will be sorely missed.

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The Legendary Pink Dots, "Come Out of the Shadows" 1 & 2

Is there such a term for a Catch-22 with a Catch-22? One of the massive upsides to recording music in the current age is the ability to affordably multi-track in real-time. Studio time and money isn't burned in a studio recording demos and soon-to-be outtakes. Waste is decreased, or is it? Are those first versions unimportant artifacts? Is the final product any better because it was practiced less? As a fan of the Shadow Weaver albums these two collections are an exciting special treat, but I doubt any of these songs would have made a mix tape of mine for an LPD newbie 20 years ago.

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Bob Mould, "Silver Age"

I have fallen in love with Bob Mould again. I had the amazing opportunity of seeing Hüsker Dü as a teenager on their final tour and Mould's first two solo albums have a lot of outstanding songs, but for me it wasn't until Copper Blue that I became more in touch with his music. Twenty years ago, Mould was able to thread a collection of great songs into something much more magnificent. With Silver Age, he has finally, for me at least, been able to do this again.

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Ceremony, "Not Tonight"

I can't let 2011 go by without gushing about the newest music to come from this criminally underexposed Virginia-based group. This brief four-song EP is a walloping punch with an infectious lead title tune that is more of an honor to the wall-of-sound of Joe Meek's production for The Tornadoes claim to fame than it is for any '80s band. This has been accomplished without turning their back on their already established signature sound.

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Collections of Colonies of Bees, "Customer"

Just like their previous album, Face.(a,this year's release from Collections of Colonies of Bees manages tosqueak in very quietly just underneath the radar, without a lot of hypeor fanfare, to surprisingly become one of my top albums of the year.The formula holds close to the last album: taking an instrumental rock"band" setup and mutating it through inhuman editing. It's a setupwhich has gained popularity in the last couple years with groups likeRadian, Nudge, Trapist, and Supersilent, but Collections of Colonies ofBees have become masters at the art. Pele have decided to call itquits, however, the Collections lineup is now almost identical to Pele,with Jon Mueller and Chris Rosenau bringing other Pele alumni Jon Minoron board this time along with Jim Schoenecker. (Perhaps they weregetting tired of being in TOO many bands—see above review!) Bright andspringy guitar melodies live harmoniously with manipulated twitters,beats and whirrs, while miscellaneous unidentifiable objects providerhythm colorization in spots. Fans of both the upbeat Pele andMuller/Rosenau's improvisational experimental outings find a mediumhere, as the line is delicately walked between pop melodies and nerdyimprovisation. Some songs, (nine out of ten are named "fun") are mostdecidedly organically driven, while some are clearly more electronic.The story of the recordings is that the band took a number of differentapproaches to each composition, and the Japanese version of Customer,on Some of Us, uses the more electronic versions of the more organicsongs here and more organic versions of the more electronic songscontained here. If that's not confusing enough, a vinyl edition of therecord contains only the "electronic" songs from both. While a disclike this might be good for an afternoon read at home, I highlyrecommend playing at loud volumes to fully enjoy some of the fantasticlow frequency bass sounds and alien ticks which dance around the ears.Like a fantastic sushi dinner, at the end I'm eager for more, andunfortunately that means getting a hold of Customer's Japanese counterpart.


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Cranes, "Particles & Waves"

While the days of guitar maximalism are long in Cranes' past, Particles & Waves showcases a band who is doing a very good job when they attempt to recapture the stunningly haunting sound that drew so many fans a decade ago. On songs like "K56," and "Here Comes the Snow," Alison Shaw's piercingly high pitched voice is fragile and lonely, almost naked against the patient and pretty melodies. However, there are certain points where I simply cannot connect with the music.

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A major tragedy of thelast few years is the growing usage of computers as exclusive musiclistening environments. Kids are growing up in a world withoutexperiencing true high fidelity, a life without listening to anuncompressed music source through a stereophonic amplifier with warmroom speakers. It's all MP3 to them and why the hell not: it's freeright? Ikeda is probably onto this, which prompted him perhaps torecord something like 'Matrix.' Disc one, "Matrix [for rooms]"stretches about an hour over ten tracks. It absolutely cannot beexperienced to its fullest intent without a relatively decentstereophonic sound system with appropriate space between speakers,placed well inside a room. Well who the hell are you to tell me how tolisten to this? Track one: the pulses are established, elements fadein, space is established between the speakers. Walk around the room andhear pulses changing sequence or solidifying into one solid tonedepending on where you stand and how you hold your head. Track 2: thewood on a coffee table starts vibrating, rattling a pen. Track three:pitches change, earlier tones fade out, this guy is either a fuckinggenius or I'm going crazy. Track four: where can I get somehallucinogenic drugs? Track five: blissful massaging of the inner ear.I think I'm going to stop here and reccomend that you try your ownexperience now. Think of this CD as a movie you buy on video or DVD tohave at home, to watch every now and again, to entertain guests with(this disc does sound different if there's multiple people in the roomversus being alone) or just to pull out on a Saturday afternoon betweenlunch and your evening plans. Do not, however, listen to this on yourcomputer or in your car or anywhere 'convenient.' It demands your fullattention. For fans of Ikeda's head bobbing, almost poppy rhythmicmulti-tonal work, there's always disc two. ".Matrix" also features tennew tracks, a half hour of cleverly-crafted beat friendly gems, stylishand intoxicating. It is in no way less spectacular than disc one, bothof which make this package well worth the wait and an excellent bargainfor the inexpensive price.


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Can't say I'm terriblysurprised that a label run by the Autechre folks would put out an EPlike this. Team Doyobi's style is relatively remeniscent of an older,more squarish 4/4 beat-filled Autechre sound, yet the group exploresmore with melodic motives than Booth and Brown seemingly did back in"the day." The release is an eight track mini-lp stretchingapproximately a half hour. The music is enjoyable, bright and bouncey,with innovative usage of sampled and synthesized sounds tapping out themelodic rhythms. Fans of glitchy Mouse On Mars beat music willdefinitely be keen on this one as there's various video-game esquesamples and over-processed primitive sounding analogue syntheticstossed in to color the tunes. As good as it is, however, it's nice tohave it short and sweet. There's not an incredible amount of variety interms of tempo change and feeling between the different songs, sosomething like this would be a bit heavy to digest had it been twice aslong.


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Following the energy fromthis year's spectacular full-length offering, "And then Nothing Turneditself,..." Yo La Tengo have come up with three pleasant newinstrumental gems. The group called all three songs Danelectro andcoupled them with a remix of each to round out the CD EP. A short butsweet hip-hop variation is brought to the table by somebody who goes bythe moniker of Q-Unique, while a rather intense jazzy cut, spliced andover-layered version has been treated by San Fran's Kit Clayton. Myfavorite however would be the 11+ minute electronic sunshinereinterpretation from Nobukazu Takemura. In my opinion, whileTakemura's work was in no way 'cut out' for him, he did have theprettiest source material to work with. While I'm fond of Yo La Tengo'sLPs and this EP, these songs might sound rather out of place on analbum from the group known for their vocal pop rock material. There'ssomething that's somewhat indescribable about the brightfulness of themelodies themselves, it's almost as if they possess a certain Holidayspirit. Perhaps this EP was intended to be a Christmas-type releasefrom the NY threesome. I'm not aware of this yet I'm not convincedotherwise.


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High Llamas, "Buzzlebee"

It's tough to try to talk about a release from the High Llamas without mentioning Stereolab, but when you've got Sean O'Hagen leading a chorus of girls singing pretty "la la"s combined with airborne melodies, loads of chimes and vintage organs, comparisons are as unavoidable as the moose standing in the middle of the highway as you barrel towards it at 65 miles per hour. I quite like this disc however.

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Talk about variety, thesecond Echoboy album of the year once again follows a seeminglymulti-genre'd blueprint as Volume 1. Richard Warren, who goes by thename of Echoboy has gathered another ecclectic collection of nineself-recorded self-produced delves into audio experimental popinfluenced rock tunes. Whether it echoes early 80s electro pop a'laPeter Schilling's "Major Tom" or 90s analogue synth retro, Warren'senergy is fiery and relentless, his talent as a songwriter and musicianis undying. Some songs carry a feverish pulse, with a utilization ofguitars and vintage keyboard sounds not entirely unlike good oldSuicide or Trans Am. When the slower paced tunes creep through thespeakers, the music is never less saturated. The usage of variousorganic drums with electronic drum machines, guitar filters, bass linesand special effects . Echoboy's loved by critics and adored by collegeDJs all over the world, I assume because it seems like the guy's arabid music fan like the rest of us, and hasn't decided to make a'band' to only focus on one style. If I only had one complaint aboutEchoboy, it would be that this guy has way too many limited editionsingles and EPs of which many tracks will probably be lost, never tosee the light of day again. Brilliant asshole.


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With a fondness of vintage analogue keyboards and rockin tunes is this defunct (?) Detroit duo. Herein lies 23 tracks recorded between 1996 and 1998, pulled from various out of print 12" and EP releases. Le Car's automobile has been retrofitted with analogue keyboards, but it drives quite smoothly and is exciting to show off.

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electric company, "62-56", "(new)", "Greatest Hits"

You might recognize the name Brad Laner from Medicine, Savage Republicor possibly the 300 albums he has allegedly played on. As ElectricCompany, his first notable release surfaced in 1997 as part of theKahanek Incident series on the now defunct Trance Syndicate label,backed/with Furry Things. Receiving the attention of (the now alsodead) Supreme Recordings (remember that division of Island that had RedHouse Painters for an album?), his debut full-lengther, "Studio City"was issued in 1998. Since then, there's been a mess of releases on (thealso pretty-much dead) Vinyl Communications, Planet-Mu and Tigerbeat6.The most recent bonafide full length album, 'Slow Food,' was releasedearlier this year on Mike Paradinas' Planet-Mu in the UK.


'62-56' was first to surface after that, materializing from Tigerbeat6in July. While it's billed as an Extended Play single, the disc haseleven tracks and totals over 45 minutes. What does separate it frommost album characteristics is the whole array of different styles Lanerchooses to let loose with, rather than limit himself to a coherenttheme. Here, Laner's unafraid to play with beautiful melodies,Kraftwerkian/Mousey punchy beat-friendly tracks, glitchy cutups andeven toy with the power of suggestion with the spoken vocals on thedisc's closer. There's even a rather interesting 15+ minute improvbetween Brad and other noteworthy local laptop owners Blectum fromBlechdom, Lesser and Kid 606 which would easily please anyexperimental-Stockhausen worshipping musique concrete fan.


(new), on the other hand is Laner's contribution to Fällt's 'InvalidObjects' 3" CD series. If I've learned anything from Raster-Noton, it'sthat I never need to buy all the albums in a series ever again.Especially with 'Invalid Objects' where the series consists of 24releases, all priced over $10 here in the USA. Only 250 of each discwas pressed, however, and the series includes the usual gang of idiotslike Pita, Scanner, Kim Cascone, and Richard Chartier. This timearound, I only bought the three I cared about (this one, V/Vm andPimmon) instead of wasting my money on piles of crapola like the 20' to2000 disappointment. Laner's contribution consists of 14 one-minutelong tracks, ranging from low sub-frequencies, frighteningly loudabrasions, live drums, tone bursts, electronic twitters, playgroundrecordings and orchestral samples. It's entertaining and no lessendearing as his other releases, as with each track running right intoeach other, completing the whole more like one intricate 14-minute longtrack. At the end of the day, however, it's not something I'd pull forfrom the shelves frequently.


Tigerbeat6 released "Greatest Hits" in October, but the cover andpromos were being passed around before September 11th. Unlike any otheralbum which bears the same name, this one features reconstructions by ahost of friends as opposed to collecting old, previously releasedthings. Perhaps it's quite appropriate the cover features a collapsingbuilding, as the "remixes" on this disc are completely reformed piecesfrom the bricks supplied by the Electric Company, himself. (Of course,the back should probably include the new building erected in itsplace.) In addition to the proverbial TB6 posse, re-erectors includePhthalo's Phthalocyanine, Tom Recchion, µ-Ziq, Geoff White and thenotoriously erect Leafcutter John. The erections [you were waiting forme to use that word] aren't a clever display of genre-straddling likethe conventional remix record, but do showcase the reinterpretivestyles of each artist. Like the broken record sounding Pimmon track,the acoustic guitar loops of Electric Company himself. Okay, so it'sreally just a remix album, but it's very nice to listen to.


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Jason Noble

We are sad to learn of the passing of Jason Noble on Saturday, August 4th, after a three year battle with cancer. Noble was a full time member of Rachel's, Shipping News, Young Scamels, and had his own project, Per Mission. Jason is noted for being part of Rodan, whose only album, Rusty, has been incredibly influential to the Louisville, KY and mid-western independent scene of and beyond. I can't say I was friends with Jason Noble but every time I met him, he was a very kind, and gentle man. He will be missed.

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Sugar, "File Under: Easy Listening"

Once again a remaster job with meticulous attention to detail along with a set of bonus material and copious first-hand accounts have allowed me to appreciate a release much more than I originally had. Sugar's last album can still be a difficult listen but I think I'm ready to love it.

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Help Tom Carter Carter, founding member of Charalambides with an extensive catalog of solo and ensemble recordings, was hospitalized in Berlin while on tour in Europe in June. Tom has complications due to pneumonia, and while his condition continues to improve, he remains hospitalized for the time being. The bills are quite extensive, however, and Tom needs everybody's help. Tom, a long time friend of Brainwashed, is on a long road to recovery and needs financial assistance from anybody who can donate whatever they afford (from a little to a lot). A PayPal account is established for donations. Please visit for updates on his condition. All donations are welcome and appreciated. Thank you for your support.

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