Monday, April 27, 2009

New Arrivals list #317

Almost forgot... you'll find our latest New Arrivals list here, if you haven't already.

Records Of The Week:
Peste Noire "Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor" (De Profundis / Rosenkrantz) cd $16.98
French folk-flecked and fucked up, unpredictable black metal weirdness with twisted and tweaked elements of melancholic pop and post rock. Bizarre and brilliant. Something even the non-totally-black-metal-obsessed-with ought to hear, as long as they're into stuff that's really really strange and amazing.
Thee Oh Sees "Help" (In The Red) cd/lp $13.98/$10.98
Local faves John Dwyer and Co. have made their catchiest slab of garage pop yet, you bet. So good.

We've actually already run out of the Peste Noire, but have more on the way, soon!

And in the meantime, there's another French black metal recording we'd recommend, the new release from Andee's tUMULt label, Diamatregon! "Crossroad" is $13.98 on cd and is also available on lp, from the Paragon label, also $13.98.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grouper instore coming up!

As if Wavves and Dan Higgs and Bill Nace weren't enough, we're got another instore coming up before the end of the month! Liz Harris aka Grouper is going to pay us a visit, she'll be performing here at AQ on Tuesday, April 28th at 6pm. That's next week, so mark your calendars.

Here's our review of the most recent Grouper album, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill, released on the Type label:
Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill opens with an entirely characteristic yet coy swell of effected elemental smear, crumbling delicately yet forcefully, until giving way to what is, to date, and here is the coy part, Liz Harris' most songwriterly and structured album. As opposed to the rich swaths of drone that up until now defined her sound, Harris has shifted from the abstract towards a more distinct and figurative sound. True to the title, the record unfolds like a sort of mysterious and morbid fairytale, innocent in its clear and elegant melodies, yet creepy and highly abstract in its more droney and sublime interludes. For the most part, her guitar playing is laid bare, removed from the dense fog of effects that typically occlude them. And what we discover is actually a pretty strummy record, with plenty of clean guitar articulation though certainly the aroma of her previous tech heavy approach remains in what is relatively speaking still pretty effected. At times she even reverts back to the gorgeous icey crunchy string attack of some previous efforts. With so much space liberated in the absence of drones, we also get to hear her stunning voice. Furthermore, the occasional audible lyric creeps to the surface, one standout fragment being "Love Is Enormous," a somewhat shockingly affirmative sentiment from an otherwise darkly mysterious and abstract persona. From start to finish Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill lulls you into its graceful murmurings and hypnotic thrumming. An exquisite addition to an already compelling discography. Recommended.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking forward to next year

We'd like to thank everybody who came out on Saturday and made Record Store Day such a blast here at Aquarius (and everywhere else that participated, apparently)! It was a ton of fun, super busy, cool to hang out with peeps who made a special trip to visit, and all that. For those who didn't make it down, well you missed a whole lot of donut holes and beers and soda and chips and freebies of course all the special limited edition Record Store Day releases - although there's a few we specifically ordered up on and still have enough of to list on our list this Friday, you'll see...

We'd also like to thank the folks who thought up the whole Record Store Day thing and made it happen, last year we were a bit out of the loop on it, and even this year were wondering just what it would be like, and let's just say we're believers. Even though as far as we're concerned, every day is Record Store Day, Saturday was special.

Oh, and of course the Higgs/Nace instore on Friday was cool too, what nice fellas!

Friday, April 17, 2009

We're number 7!

According to Spin magazine (online), in their list of America's top 15 best indie record stores, just posted here! Thanks, Spin!

Aquarius regulars will note something funny about the accompanying photo of our storefront, though (at least, until Spin fixes it)... they used a picture of the fake-Aquarius-on-Castro that was mocked up for the movie Milk! Whoops. A Google image search must have led them astray. We emailed some pictures of the real AQ to Spin so they can correct that, no big deal anyway, actually kind of funny.

But that reminds us, if anyone does have photos of the actual AQ location(s) on Castro back in the day, let us know.

And we should remind YOU that tomorrow, Saturday April 18th is RECORD STORE DAY. Hence the timeliness of Spin's feature.

Since we're having an instore tonight (Friday) with Dan Higgs and Bill Nace, and also already had one on monday with Wavves, we didn't plan any special instore event for Saturday. Other than plenty of SHOPPING! And hanging out. The Barsuk label sent some root beers and we'll get some more snacks and beverages too, plus Andee will be here if anyone wants to challenge him at Joust, Ghosts n' Goblins or Tron. And of course you've probably already heard about how there's all these special Record Store Day releases, like Sonic Youth 7"s from Matador and a live Iron & Wine album from Sub Pop and a rad Thrill Jockey comp lp, that we'll have a goodly selection of for sale tomorrow - while they last! So c'mon down Saturday and help us celebrate Record Store Day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Higgs & Nace instore Friday!!

Our Wavves instore yesterday turned out so great. The band played a special "quiet" set (those who were here can believe that, or not, 'cause it was still pretty loud) and made do with our cleverly MacGyvered mic stand, which survived the duo's 20 minute distorto-pop onslaught.

So, we've already got another upcoming instore planned, and soon. It'll be a bit quieter, though. The day before Record Store Day, Friday April 17th, that's this Friday, at 6pm, we're super pleased to have Lungfish's DANIEL HIGGS playing solo.

He's on tour with drone improv dude Bill Nace, of Ceylon Mange and Vampire Belt. He'll also be playing a short solo set. Both should be cool, not sure who'll play first, so don't be late.

Although we're quite curious to hear Nace, it's Higgs that we're already enormous fans of, and it's really an honor to have him here. Can't wait!!

Here's our review of Daniel Higgs's last full-length, Metempsychotic Memories:
We'd be happy if Daniel Higgs would put out a new album every month. Every week, even. His songs can be long (up to 14 minutes on this disc's "Love Abides") but eventually they do end and we always want more more more. Because they are totally entrancing, his raw "Appalachian raga" folk picking style wending and winding while he chants his mystic lyrics repetitively, warbling with the outsider intensity of a Charles Manson... a dramatic delivery that eccentrically enhances the weird wisdom of his words, worth absorbing for their imagery even when their import is not immediately understandable. Well though he's not THAT prolific we're happy to have this new disc on Holy Mountain already, following Atomic Yggdrasil Tarot on Thrill Jockey earlier this year.
Metempsychotic Melodies (whatever that means, it seems like a good title for this!!) starts off with a stark and skillful instrumental, "Universal Salutation", which we're told was "recorded aboard the Starship Weep-For-Lucifer". Again, we believe it, that somehow makes sense. That leads into the aforementioned "Love Abides", an extended mantra for voice and banjo (in fact, banjo is the main instrument throughout), wherein Higgs sings lines like "Love is the secret seam between waking and dream / love is a breath that bears a boundless scream" and offers up further thoughts from his personal gnosis of love, notions guaranteed to never be repeated in any other "love song" ever!! Such as: "Love, like a basilisk hatched in the nest of a dove / love's got a bible it hides in the folds of a cloud" and "Love is your name when your name has fallen away / love tends the last dawning of the last day"...
As if allowing an interlude to let all that sink in, the third track "Leontocephaline Rhapsody" is a loping, psychedelic instrumental, a gentle jam densely droning and alive with electricity. Then comes the fourth and final song, "All Cherished Things", another display of Higgs' druggy, fascinating poetry. "There's a pearl in your head / the head between your double-head / it's flashing blue and red - hear it sing". He goes on to touch upon some favored themes, Christ, Krishna, coitus, his own dead body, love... Lyrics like "The skull at the foot of the cross is my own" could be creepy, or pretentious, as could be Higgs' unique vocal stylings, but no, not as far as we're concerned. Ok, maybe it is a bit creepy. He's on a wavelength that works (for him - maybe no one else could pull this off). If Higgs had a cult, we'd seriously consider joining it...truly a treasure of the US indie rock scene, and one of the realest deals in the "acid folk" underground. We'll be spinning this highly recommended album with ceremonial regularity as it takes its honored place in our collection of his music, and of course our anticipation of his next set of shamanic sermons remains high.

Lee Perry doc, free tix!

We're curious to see this, a Lee Perry documentary playing the weekend after next at the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts down at 3rd and Mission:

by Ethan Higbee & Adam Bhala Lough
Fri, Apr 24 & Sat, Apr 25, 7:30 pm
Agitator. Innovator. Genius. Bear witness to the legend that is Lee “Scratch” Perry. From his early days as a mentor to the young Bob Marley, to his peak music making period of the mid to late 70s, known as the Black Ark Studio years (the studio he built out of a shack, and subsequently burned down during a drug-fuelled frenzy), this film is an intoxicating interview, reggae and dub filled extravaganza, venerating the life and times of a man once called “the Salvador Dali of reggae.” (2008, 90 min, digital video)
Here's the trailer, looks cool:

The nice folks at YBCA have asked us to give away 2 free pairs of tickets, one for each night. So, if you're interested in a chance to win 'em, please send email to by Tuesday, April 21st, with either "upsetter tix friday" or "upsetter tix saturday" in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name so that if we randomly select you to win tickets, we'll be able to tell the YBCA who to put on the list! Good luck.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Arrivals #316

Another fortnight, another New Arrivals list... here.

Records Of The Week x 4!!!
Amesoeurs "s/t" (Profound Lore) cd $14.98
The long awaited first full length from French black metal-ish shoegazers Amesoeurs.
Harvestman "In A Dark Tongue" (Neurot) cd $14.98
Outstanding 2nd album this band, aka Steve Von Till of Neurosis, who heads off into space with this one.
Red Red Meat "Bunny Gets Paid (Deluxe)" (Sub Pop) 2cd $14.98
Welcome reissue of a '90s Sub Pop fave, alt country for fans of Calexico and Souled American.
v/a "1970's Algerian Proto-Rai Underground" (Sublime Frequencies) cd $16.98
Now finally on compact disc, this previously vinyl-only (and out of print in that format) North African stunner.

Amocoma "Go To Hell" (tUMULt) cd $13.98
Reissue of an out of print cd-r, now on cd with bonus tracks, the most incredibly lo-fi stumbling mesmeric fucked up damaged pop flecked blackness to hail from San Francisco EVER we think. Mantric, trancelike, FX drenched DIY "black metal".

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wavves instore

This just confirmed - we'll be hosting San Diego's Wavves for an instore performance here at Aquarius on Monday, April 13th, at 5 o'clock in the afternoon!

Here's our write-up of the most recent Wavves record:
In the few months since we first gushed about our new found obsession, a weird little buzzy noise pop band called Wavves, it seems like a ton of other folks have been feeling the same way about the urgent, catchy, blown out and energetic sounds this young lad from San Diego has been whipping up. Already following up the great Woodsist debut is a new record on the bigger Fat Possum label, but not to worry the sound is still way blown out and in the red, and the songs still make you wanna sweat and jump and play with your friends in the burning sun. What makes Wavves so great is that they really are drawing from such classic sources yet infusing new life and energy into those sounds. Imagine the best parts of the Beach Boys, the Ramones and the Misfits, all channeled into some buzzy lo-fi shredder and you begin to understand the world Wavves calls home. Since we still have the debut on heavy rotation it caught us a bit off guard to find a brand new full length already, and another self titled one, but we get the feeling that Nate Williams (just 22 years old) is at one of those special creative peaks where songs are just bursting forth with no end in sight. And heck, we're not complaining, not one bit, cause when the songs are this damaged and catchy and kick ass, he can keep cranking them out FOREVER. Here's to a THIRD self titled record, BRING IT ON!!
Can't wait!

Anvil Easter

We mentioned this before when we did a ticket giveaway on our list, but just a reminder (especially if you don't get VH-1, who are sponsoring it). The documentary Anvil: The Story Of Anvil is playing this Sunday, April 12th at Slim's in San Francisco - followed by a performance from the band Anvil themselves! That's right, it's a package deal billed as "The Anvil Experience". A clever idea, 'cause an audience that has just watched the hilarious, sad, depressing, touching documentary will be the most adoring (or at least sympathetic) audience that the veteran '80s Canadian speed metal act could ever hope for.

The movie we've already seen - more than once - and we really, really recommend it. It was just reviewed in today's New York Times, and they liked it too. And actually some of us have seen Anvil before too, years ago, and they were great.

Seriously, when we first heard about there being an Anvil documentary, even those of us who were Anvil vans wondered if it would be all that interesting. Turned out to be one of the best films we'd seen in a long time, about dreaming dreams and (foolishly?) never, ever letting go. Even when you're in your 50's. It's about friendship and love and family (all kinds of family). Oh and metal. 

Imagine a cross between This Is Spinal Tap, The Wrestler, and Some Kind Of Monster.

It's really really funny. They're a real life Spinal Tap - with enough inadvertent references to said band/movie to confuse the heck out of some folks who weren't paying attention to metal in the '80s when Anvil was briefly popular, like the fact that Anvil's drummer is named Robb Reiner and that Anvil is shown visiting the actual Stonehenge whilst in England... plus it IS a movie about a heavy metal band, so there's bound to be similarities. Except, again, it's REAL, not a mockumentary.

Being real, it also can be - and is - really really depressing. But ultimately... well we won't spoil it. Go see it. God we hope people go see it, and them.

Anvil, with Anvil: The Story Of Anvil
Sunday April 12th @ Slim's
Doors at 6:30, movie at 7:30, followed by live performance

Here's the movie preview from YouTube:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Free Qulfus

Our pal Dominic Cramp (of various projects including Qulfus, Borful Tang, Arthur Dent, and Modular Set) passed along this link for us to share:

It's free album download of his latest Qulfus creation, a sort of plunderphonics meets John Cage-ian style chance determined composition called One Day At A Time, each "day" (track) utilizing as source material a randomly selected cd from the Berkeley Public Library. Follow the link for more information! Pretty neat.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday krossword

We know we've mentioned before just what big fans we are of Julian Cope's hipper-than-thou Head Heritage website, in particular the Unsung section with all the reviews. Especially Cope's Record Of The Month reviews. Sometimes he picks a disc we already knew about and are happy to see get the extra recognition of a J.C. endorsement (like Vincent Black Shadow, Jex Thoth or To Blacken The Pages). Sometimes it's something we had never really heard of before and then go order for AQ, review, and sell a ton of (like Cadaver In Drag, Orthodox, and Gunslingers). Once in a while it's something we don't know about, and still don't know about, or can't get (and maybe don't exist as a real release?). Occasionally it's an old classic, like the Melvins' Lysol. And then there's the times he creates his own cool compilation and writes up a review about it, like his recent "Glamrocksampler". (Fortunately, in all cases, Head Heritage provides a mp3 stream of the Record Of The Month, for that month only.)

So, 'round about the first of the month, we're always excited to click on Head Heritage and see what's gotten the Record Of The Month treatment this time. Cope's reviews, even if you don't agree with (or understand) 'em, are always entertaining, enthusiastic and esoterically erudite, complete with footnotes.

All this by way of saying that the April 2009 pick is one we were stoked to see: KISS! Remember last year, when Allan reviewed a klassic Kiss album on every AQ list for a month or two? Dynasty, Music From The Elder, Destroyer, Love Gun, Hotter Than Hell, Kiss, Rock And Roll Over? Well, if he didn't convice you that Kiss are kool, maybe you'll believe Julian Kope, we mean Cope. He's made his own Kiss "best of" kompliation called Krossword and reviewed it as the current Record Of The Month. So, check it out! We would have included "I Want You" from Rock And Roll Over, but it's still a pretty killer comp.

And Julian Cope has indeed also included a special Kiss krossword puzzle as a pdf download to go along with it. Haven't worked on it yet, looks pretty challenging, with such clues as "66 down: Confusing vocational surname of post-post-Peter Criss drummer" and "25 across: The colour of Ace's aura, as revealed on the sleeve of his solo LP". It's not all about Kiss, either.

So, something do this lazy Sunday afternoon. Along with browsing more of the Unsung reviews... definitely crack open the Book Of Seth when you get the chance, too.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Some aQ April Fool's Day tomfoolery comes true, AGAIN! Sort of... Introducing CHORD!

Not sure if everyone remembers an April Fool's Day aQuarius New Arrivals list from a few years back, where one of the made-up highlights was a record featuring three doomdronedirge bands, all playing a single chord. It was Boris, SUNNO))) and Earth. A drone doom dream team for sure. Then lo and behold, shortly thereafter, those three bands were in fact found sharing a record together (although not sharing a chord), on Altar...

So here we are, a few years later, and whatta ya know? One of our pals in Pelican has a new band called... wait for it... CHORD! A band in which each member plays a single chord! We hope they each play one note, creating a chord together, although they're probably just all playing the same chord. Either way, it's pretty awesome, very meditative and heavy and of course drone-y. Definitely owes a little to the late great San Diego band Physics, whose shows routinely consisted of a single chord (often a 'C' if we remember correctly) Not sure when the CHORD record comes out, or if there even is a record yet. There may have been some live performances too, we're not sure... but for now, enjoy these ringtones. Courtesy of aQ and CHORD. That's right, ringtones. The perfect telephonic accoutrement for the discerning dronelord (or lady!). So without further adieu...


Listen (Try playing all 4 at once!):








Thursday, April 2, 2009

Skweee publicity

Check out page 30 of the new, April 2009 issue of SPIN magazine, the one with U2 on the cover - there's a piece about skweee. You know, our favorite Scandinavian underground electro/techno/hiphop subgenre. Aquarius gets a mention, 'cause they interviewed me (Allan) for the article. The quote they ended up using doesn't amount to much ("It sounded so fresh... customers loved it." Did I really say that?), but it's still cool to help promote the skweee scene...

Here's some YouTube skweee action also, from Swedish TV:

Too bad we don't speak Swedish, or we'd understand why they're going on about a Cat Stevens record. If you poke around some more on YouTube, you'll find a lot more skweee, with more music, less talking too.

AQXWFMUXSXSW video on Aural Suppository

Ok, back from the uber-low-end-noir-jazz Bohren & Der Club Of Gore experience last night. So much BASS! Wow. Amazing set, mostly in total darkness, with little Ikea-style colored lights suspended above each musician's head. They had a glowing Bohren skull logo in the middle of the stage, and you could barely see the black, spikey heavy metal bass guitars they had. Pretty cool that a band we've been into for ten years, finally came over from Germany and played at the Great American here in San Francisco. Their between-song stage banter was amusing, at least what could could be understood due to the German accent involved. "Even if you expect nothing out of life, you will be disappointed."

But, I'm supposed to be writing more about our SXSW showcase, not what I saw last night... except that with all that bass still echoing in my ears, it's been hard to think straight.

So, first off, we should direct you to a different blog entirely that's doing a better job of documenting said show that we are:

That blog (which you'll also find in our "blogs we like" sidebar to the right) already has stuff about the sets by Wildildlife, Absu, and Woven Hand. Write-ups, video clips from the performances, and video interviews with Matt from Wildildlife, Gregory from Gunslingers, and Proscriptor of Absu, too! And that's only what's been posted so far, maybe there's more. All done by AQ customer Denman C. Anderson who got a lot of good use out of his Flip video cam during SXSW. Thanks Denman!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yet more SXSW - our show!

Thought we'd get to finishing up our SXSW-blogging-about sooner - it was over a week and a half ago now, wasn't it? But what with the New Arrivals this past Friday and other stuff going on, well, you know... And now it's April 1st so we probably should make some stuff up about, like, how Metallica actually also played OUR show at 1am calling themselves "Elm" (and did only Diamond Head covers - you shoulda been there!) but as it is we're behind with the blogging so we'll stick to the actual facts, no foolin'.

So, the show. We're happy to report it turned out really well!! Not exactly without a hitch, but no major ones anyway. Does John Dwyer taking a tumble off one of the concrete steps of the Spiro's "amphitheatre" count? He was ok, does stuff like that every day no doubt...

Bands started turning up at the venue around 5 o'clock, with the show due to start at 7pm. It was nice to see those Gunslingers guys from France once more, we'd met 'em for the first time the previous week in San Francisco. And cool to finally meet Proscriptor McGovern and the other dudes in Absu, and all their wives! (Absu Wives, that sounds like another band name right there...) 

Anyway, there wasn't that much for us to do before the show, just some last minute fiddle faddle. Most of the difficult stuff had been dealt with already by the WFMU folks, who'd already been at Spiro's the previous day getting things set up to do their live radio broadcast. We did have to help solve some minor issues with the backline, particularly making sure that the drum kit on the outdoor stage was up to Proscriptor's exacting specifications. And then there was the business of locating the guy from the club who had all the drink tickets for the bands, very important! (One bummer - the club only would allow the tickets to be redeemed for Miller Lite...). And we had to find the box of Gunslingers LPs we'd shipped from Aquarius to Spiro's when they showed up in the mail in SF the day after those guys left for LA.

Then suddenly it was 7pm and the AQXWFMUXSWSW 2009 showcase was officially underway! Prizehog on the outdoor stage, Gary War on the indoor stage. We were a little worried that 7 was sorta early for a start time, people might still be out at afternoon parties and stuff, but lo and behold, folks showed up. By 8 o'clock, when Wildildlife and XYX were scheduled, there was definitely a decent crowd, and it kept getting bigger. The highwater mark crowd-wise was probably during Absu's set, when the outdoor area was TOTALLY packed, with Woven Hand likely getting the biggest indoor-stage crowd, later on. 

All the bands rocked. We knew we liked all of them (well, took WFMU's word on a couple we hadn't really heard before, and were right to do so, and vice-versa) but hadn't seen all of 'em live before. Even Ovens from San Francisco, it was Andee's first time seeing them play and he had already put out their cd! So we weren't sure what to expect in all cases. Fortunately, all the bands definitely delivered. We were rushing back and forth between the two stages to try to see it all. We could have not seen any other bands at SXSW and been satisfied (actually, that's pretty much what Andee did).

You may have already read Andee's Twitter tweets about each band, he kinda reviewed 'em as they played (hmm, 140 characters max, maybe we should do our New Arrivals list reviews Twitter style too, whattya think?). You can find 'em here if you missed his play-by-play account of the evening. My camera's battery crapped out pretty early on, but I got some pics with my phone. Also our friend Denman managed to take video of some of the sets which we'll link to, too.

Here's a few shots...

The outdoor ampitheatre stage area empty, while things were being set up. I think that's Ovens sitting against the wall on the right.

A blurry Andee chatting with the sound guy outdoors.

Prizehog! Awesome droned out guitar/synth/drums sludge. A nice start for our "heavy" part of the evening, outdoors. And until we saw 'em, we had no idea there was a woman in the band.

Gary War!


Ok, gotta run now (otherwise I'll be late to tonight's Bohren & Der Club Of Gore show at the Great American). So, more pics/posting tomorrow...