The Walrus is a Philadelphia-based music blog written by Michael. You may send me stuff through the send a tip page or email me. All mp3s should be sent as links. NO ATTACHMENTS, PLEASE. If I like your music, chances are I will write about it.
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We have come to a point where we feel that The Walrus should come to an end. It has been a great run for over 4 years and a big thanks goes out to all the readers, subscribers, bands and labels for supporting this blog. A special thanks goes out to Robin McDowell, Emily Ounsworth, Joe Kusy, Brad Hilton, Sean Jordan, Jon Finnegan, Mark Hunt, Mike Ferry, Tim Gough, Ron Short, Justin Rosenthal, Dan Abraham and Steve Grasse/QCM for all their help in making The Walrus such a success!
BONUS VIDEO from The Walrus’ biggest fan, Atousa F…
The blog and my email address will be taken offline in the next week or so, but until then feel free to peruse the archives.
When I was in college back in the late ’90s, my friends and I were obssessed with the legendary and unfinished Beach Boys SMiLE “album”. Like many other SMiLE-enthusiasts we tried to re-construct what COULD HAVE BEEN the greatest pop album of all time. This growing phenomenon unintentionally turned it into what some may call the world’s first “interactive album”, an idea which makes perfect sense considering that Wilson originally recorded the music in a modular fashion.
Culled from various bootlegs and box sets that we had, my friends and I would make our own “SMiLE mixes” (with CDs and cassettes!) – album length versions of how we imagined the legendary, unfinished album would have been sequenced. For us and the rest of the Beach Boys SMiLE community this became a ritual and an obsession that.
Why was it so much fun? Well, not only could one rearrange the existing, beautiful fragments of music into endless combinations that all sounded different and amazing, but the music’s reoccurring themes and epic narratives (Birth of America, Cycle of Life, The Elements of the Earth, etc) made it feel like some sort of high concept sound puzzle. It was like we had a hands-on connection to a pivotal part of forgotten music history. In a sense we were lending a helping hand to Wilson and the boys – helping them finish what they never could. Crowdsourcing before Crowdsourcing.
We never really thought we could make a finished version, nor did we really want to. It was just fascinating to experience the music in different ways and in different arrangments. No mix was ever really the same as another mix. They all told a similar story in a slightly different way. The coolest thing about making them was that there was no right or wrong mix, so we were free to just explore the possibilities and have fun with it. After all, we were convinced that there never would be an “officially” finished version anyway.
This all came to somewhat of a halt, when, in 2004 a version of SMiLE was re-constructed and re-recorded by Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks and Wilson’s band. They mimicked the sessions tapes beautifully and did an awesome job of arranging and filling in the missing pieces of the “SMiLE puzzle”. Sure, that version has been an absolute joy to listen to since its release and is most likely the closest thing we will ever see to a “complete SMiLE”. But that isn’t what is cool about SMiLE. What makes it cool and a truly rich experience is the fact that it will never really be finished, thereby allowing the music to freely be re-interpreted and remixed by anyone.
With the full participation of original Beach Boys Al Jardine, Mike Love, and Brian Wilson, Capitol/EMI has, for the first time, collected and compiled the band’s legendary 1966-’67 sessions for the never-completed SMiLE album. Capitol/EMI and The Beach Boys are pleased to announce November 1 (October 31 internationally) as the release date for the long-awaited arrival of The SMiLE Sessions in multiple physical and digital configurations. Artwork and complete tracklists are also unveiled for what Rolling Stone magazine recently called “the most famous unfinished album in rock & roll history.”
In numerous sessions between the spring of 1966 and the summer of 1967, The Beach Boys recorded a bounty of songs and drafts for an album, SMiLE, that was intended to follow the band’s 1966 masterpiece, Pet Sounds. The master tapes were ultimately shelved, and The Beach Boys’ SMiLE has never been released. Drawn from the original masters, The SMiLE Sessions presents an in-depth overview of The Beach Boys’ recording sessions for the enigmatic album, which has achieved legendary, mythical status for music fans around the world.
For all of those who may be unfamiliar with the music, here is one of SMiLE’s most quintessential tracks recently re-issued as a 7″ leading up to the new sessions box set:
Visit the new SMiLE microsite to purchase unique versions or head to Amazon for the more basic versions and check out this cool unboxing video:
Like their Elephant 6 brethren Neutral Milk Hotel, the geniuses of Olivia Tremor Control are re-emerging. However, in their case, its with a full tour and brand new material! I guess there is something in the psychedelic air…
Listen to Olivia Tremor Control’s awesome new track “The Game You Play Is in Your Head, Parts 1, 2, & 3″ and get tour dates on Pitchfork.
Also, do yourself a huge favor and pick up their 1999 album Black Foliage when it is reissued in November. It’s one of the best psych-pop records ever recorded in my opinion.
Shaking Through is a video collaboration between Philly producer Brian McTear’s independent music production project Weathervane Music and Philly radio station WXPN. Local artists are featured recording a song over the course of a day and the newest video showcases the awesome talents of multi-instrumentalist Shai Halperin aka Sweet Lights. Awesome stuff:
“Could one person really have recorded this song in one day? Can’t say we are surprised, after all Shai Halperin, the multi-instrumentalist who records under the name Sweet Lights is one of the most talented musicians we’ve ever met. But we couldn’t keep this secret to ourselves. Have a look and listen to “You Let Me Down.” We think you’ll be blown away too.”
“No Wave chanteuse Lizzy Mercier Descloux flipping her hair and “performing” “Fire,” written by Arthur Brown, from Descloux’s 1979 album “Press Color.” Yes, that’s good ol’ Serge Gainsbourg grinning at the beginning. (via Holy Warbles)”
After five years of spreading world music to the masses, Awesome Tapes From Africa is finally launching a label. Starting this October, ATFA will re-issue select recordings to hold in your very own hands. Kicking off with an album from Malian singer Nâ Hawa Doumbia called La Grande Contatrice Malienne Vol 3, the label plans to distribute LP, CD, and MP3 formats via SC Distribution– with 50% of the profits going to the artists (yes!).
Ohhh very cool. Check out the show here and here is some background info via Pfork:
Network Awesome, the content-exhuming online TV network run by electronic music smasher-upper Jason Forrest, is hosting a salute to women in punk all this week. The site has performance footage, interviews, and essays; artists featured include Kate Bush, Patti Smith, Blondie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Runaways, Poly Styrene, L7, and, awesomely, Jem and the Holograms.
After Iggy Pop, Suicide were the first true punks. Beginning in the early ’70s Alan Vega and Martin Rev, heavily influenced by the Velvets and Silver Apples, created a brand new, post-apocalyptic electronic sound that pissed off everyone that heard it. No drums. Just Martin’s synthesizer and Alan’s gloomy, Elvis-like mantras. Nothing would ever be the same after that.
Watch Vega discuss the origins and more in the fascinating and highly entertaining video interview above.