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Listed: Crystal Stilts + Sun Araw

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: New York extraordinaires Crystal Stilts and Congos collaborator Cameron Stallones.

Listed: Crystal Stilts + Sun Araw

Crystal Stilts

The Brooklyn crew started summoning a haze of lo-fi, jangley psych-pop just shy of a decade ago as a duo. Brad Hargett and JB Townsend eventually enlisted help for live shows, blooming into one of New York’s finest bands. After last spring’s sophomore full-length, In Love With Oblivion, the Stilts backed off on the immense reverb just a tad. The end of 2011 and Sacred Bones brought along the gem EP Radiant Door, which showcased a swagger previously absent in Stilts songs, hinting at a whole slew of surprises that might one day be unveiled. Townsend took place in this week’s Listed.

1. The Outsiders - C.Q.
Not to be confused with the American pop combo who sang "Time Won’t Let Me," The Dutch Outsiders have been a huge influence on this band and especially on my rhythm guitar playing. As their name suggests, I think they were sort of freaks on the fringe of Amsterdam. Their style was kind of oddly cool in a square way — pants too short and stuff. They seemed to have really long hair before everyone had long hair by about two years as well. They were sort of Holland’s answer to The Pretty Things style middle ‘60s beat psych, not to say that they don’t stack tall against any group from that era. Wally Tax had a great voice and all their singles and first self-titled record are really outstanding, too. The cover design for this record is also a beautiful piece of art itself.

2. Cockney Rebel - The Psychomodo
Brad, our singer, turned me on to this back in the day and I really liked it then. But I sort of rediscovered it last year and started collecting their singles and thoroughly obsessing about this band. Blending Dylan, T. Rex, Bowie and the Kinks into a very well put together pop record from a time when recording techniques were reaching a really good place in ‘74… this record is ferociously underrated in the U.S. It’s a pinnacle British glam darkhorse, showcasing Harley’s peak songwriting cannon. The lyrics are pretty odd at times and can lean towards the dramatic, which I’m usually not a fan of, but it works with these guys. The quality of production is pretty flawless. I don’t know, this record kicks rump.

3. Sam Dees - The Show Must Go On
I wanted to include some soul because a hefty chunk of the stuff I listen to is soul & R&B but most of the stuff I have is singles. With exceptions, I feel like a lot of those LPs sometimes have mucho filler for a couple singles. This album is a good example of a full LP that stands up in its format. Sam Dees is sort of an anomaly because I feel like he should be more well-known for writing more than other artists, working at Chess Records, and this album being on Atlantic. But perhaps because of its lack of availability other than on vinyl, his legacy is a bit stunted.

4. Wolfgang Riechmann - Wunderbar
This is among my favorite of the late ‘70s krautrock albums. Its atmospheric, locomotive, feels easy going and punchy at the same time. It has the kind of mythology surrounding it that makes record collectors sweat... It was Reichmann’s sole LP under his own name before he was stabbed to death in a chance encounter with a drunken stranger. Given the success of the recent Kraftwerk shows at MOMA, the time is perfect to revisit our friend Wolfgang Reichmann.

5. S.E. Rogie - Palm Wine Guitar Music
A man from Sierra Leone in the ‘60s who wanted to be a country western cowboy. How could this scenario get better? Throw him a guitar and a bouncy band.

6. Vic Godard & Subway Sect - What’s the Matter Boy
A gateway record from Vic Godard’s punk years, this record is full of hammers—a lot of which appear on his Best of compilations. Apparently deemed too retro at the time of its release, it is in fact more timeless than most records released in the 1980 UK punk craze. People say it’s all been done with a traditional rock-and-roll band but this proves that you can still have severe originality making this kind of music. This guy knows how to blend taste, aesthetic and strong melodies, that’s for damn sure.

7. Broadcast - Tender Buttons
They are about the best band of the last 15 years. What a foolish, foolish boy I was to ignore them for as long as I did. This is a band that managed to get more complex and interesting with each successive release, all the while stripping away instruments to a bare minimum. There are certain tragedies in music history, and Trish Keenan’s early death ranks among the most heartbreaking in modern times. My utter ignorance of their spotless recorded output is another. More experimental than experimental bands, more catchy than pop bands, so composed and so perfect. My hyperbole doesn’t do them justice. Investigate!

8. Idle Race - Idle Race
Woosh, what a gem. Along with many other more obvious, more successful LPs from bands like The Troggs or The Kinks, this record idealizes the more pop side of a very British psychedelia for me. I feel like when everyone was getting into very heavy psych a la Hendrix, longer solos, extended riffing, etc., Jeff Lynne stuck to making short, simple and well produced pop songs. Much to the dismay of present day record collectors, this one didn’t do well as far as charts go, but as history has it, the ‘70s saw Jeff take off into wild success. I guess people caught up.

9. The Fall - Slates
It’s really difficult to pick one Fall album among so many. I could have easily picked Hex Enduction Hour or This Nation’s Saving Grace. Doomed from the get-go being a 10-inch, this record is the band hitting an uplifting, more complex and optimistically forward feeling batch of songs. It stands out a little bit to me for some reason in their vast discography.

10. Tronics - Love Backed By Force
The most uniquely brilliant, pleasantly odd and mysterious record ever made. Untraditional but grounded in tasteful familiarity, it resides on its own planet for me —where it has its justified area to breath and flourish. This record conjures an alternate reality’s surrealism in a mist of medieval space, woven together by a lunar love. It’s magical to hear an artist like Zarjaz furthering trajectories into the Mars Age with sparkling grace.

Sun Araw

Cameron Stallones, the central component of Sun Araw, is a mad man. Hailing from Austin, Stallones harmonizes strange, soporific symphonies, most recently with M. Geddes Gengras and dub icons The Congos for FRKWYS, Vol. 9: Icon Give Thank/Icon Eye. The reworked, rewarped record came out on RVNG Intl. last month.

1. Miles Davis - On the Corner
Premiere Chief Minister of all solos/no solos ethos, birthplace of the wiggle. Every piece of the groove placed on a separate hook, pulled in opposing directions, so splayed. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. Not one bit. The organ leans in from the left and burns the whole thing in place, one solid mass of scars. The promise is, if you believe, the groove will survive whatever wood-chipper you got. This is how to make music.

2. Ablution - Ablution
They’re taking some solos but you can’t blame them; someone gives you a voice, you gotta talk. But at least they talk sideways. laming prog-funk from Sweden that’s not afraid to glaze over and start creeping for the gutter in a shower of bells and clip-clop percussion, moving into total crest-of-second-wave-pyschedelia exploratory space. This is the only record I care about right now.

3. Mahmoud Ahmed with Roha Band
Truly perfect music, love glowing stronger with every cycle. Roha Band recordings of this era have a heavy glimmer of American Soul radiating softly from the guitars, just enough to be burning embers at the edges of the Ethiopian scales. I don’t [know] the proper music theory name of this characteristic of Ethiopian tunes, but the way Ahmed’s vocal phrases always end half a measure early, leaving room for a single melodic response/flourish from sax or keyboards keeps the whole enterprise constantly suspended—the "entranced" function of the trance structure. There is a moment halfway through the A-side when the slow honey-drip of a romantic burner whips into double time, and Ahmed pushes a single note against the cyclical ascending disco bass until it breaks. This is a wonderful moment in the history of music.

4. D’Angelo - Voodoo
In the name of love and war took my shield and sword / From the pit of the bottom, that knows no floor / Like the rain to the dirt, from the vine to the wine / From the Alpha to creation, to the end of time, yeah / To the end of time

5. Bayeté Umbra Zindiko - Seeking Other Beauty
Jazz keyboardist Todd Cochran whips his rhodes through wah-pedals and dons the Bayeté robe to preside over one of my favorite jazz-funk-free-form-freakout albums ever. Complete with a perfect slow burner that has the nastiest little stereo delay chasers skittering back and forth around achingly lovely group vocals. The whole thing is leaning for the ground, nodding off, snapping back to attention. But later in the record Master says its time to burn it all, all of it. Don’t need NO-"body." Indeed. Portals towards the end of that track can’t accommodate the human form, so lose that skin.

6. Henry Flynt - You Are My Everlovin’
One-idea bliss. Flynt is a genius, all of his tunes burn me up. This one, though… Appalachia by way of Bombay, with nothing but a human heart holding the tension between them. He seems like an ideological dude but all I hear is a lover climbing that long ladder.

7. Popol Vuh - Sei Still Wisse Ich Bin
Another one, like Voodoo that hits so close to the bone I have nothing to say. How about this: My favorite part is the first minute of "Garten Der Gemeinschaft," every note played, every element of the mix. That kettle drum. All will be well, all manner of things shall be well.

8. Exuma - Exuma
The Obeah Man sent his strongest transmissions of fierce Bahamanian conjuring on this first record, the jungle haze hangs low on every track, chaotic organic warfare. There definitely is a séance on the sixth fret.

9. Captain Beefheart - Lick My Decals Off, Baby
About once every two months this becomes the only piece of music that makes any sense to me.

10. R. Kelly - Happy People
A record of unbelievable spiritual ambition. Steppin’ into heaven because it’s right there, don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s far. He wisely allows the masked dancer in black to have the final dance at the end of the "Step In the Name of Love" video, showing that he not only understands the immensity of what he is asking of us from track one to close, but also how to get there.

By Dusted Magazine

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