Pink Mountaintops- Axis of Evol (2006)

Is there anything Jagjaguwar puts out that doesn't fucking rule? As a home to Dinosaur Jr.'s Farm, Women, Black Mountain and Sunset Rubdown, it's not hard to distinguish what the true answer may be. Pink Mountaintops is also not immune to this truth. Starting out in 2004 under the control of Black Mountain's crooning frontman Stephen McBean, the band released a self-titled under the name of The Pink Mountaintops, but since the release of Axis of Evol, they made a good call to drop "The" from their name.

Even though I started as an initial fan of McBean's similarly named band, Black Mountain, there was still room to be pleasantly surprised by Axis of Evol's continuous flair. It wouldn't be right to say it's more chic than a Black Mountain album, but it's definitely a little more controlled. You can really tell this is all McBean, from the solo acoustic opening tune "Comas" to a psychedelic voice overlay with Black Mountain bandmate Amber Webber on "Slaves." Contrary to what McBean's roots may suggest, the album's foray into electronic undertones is what really sets his side project apart from the stoner rock label he might have gained in his other involvements. But there's definitely a balance of those undertones with gentle acoustic ballads between these funky tracks. No nonsense here; McBean made a hell of an album.


R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country (2006)

One thing I love about Robert Crumb more than his drawings is his taste in music. Without him, I probably wouldn't have dared venture into weeding out the good blues/ragtime artists, even though I consider them one of my favorite styles of music. This CD came with a book I bought of the same title, which was based on a trading card series Crumb drew of old blues artists. It's a fairly good sized book, each section split into labeled sections (Heroes of the Blues, Pioneers of Country Music, and Early Jazz Greats), so it makes it easy to reference an artist if I need to. Each picture is drawn by Crumb himself, along with a small biography of the artist with their origin and time of activity. All of this, and a free CD! But for those of you who may not read, or who wouldn't want to trouble with a book, I'm being nice enough to offer this fantastic compilation for free. All songs were arranged by Crumb himself, all of which are highly regarded recommendations from the brilliant cartoonist. So, you have nothing to lose. And if you find yourself craving more, it wouldn't hurt to check out the soundtrack to Terry Zwigoff's disturbing and moving documentary, Crumb, based off the artist's life (conveniently found here). Enjoy!

1. Memphis Jug Band- On the Road Again
2. Blind Willie McTell- Dark Night Blues
3. Cannon's Jug Stompers- Minglewood Blues
4. Skip James- Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues
5. Jaybird Coleman- I'm Ganna Cross the River Jordan/ Some O' These Days
6. Charley Patton- High Water Everwhere
7. Frank Stokes- I Got Mine
8. "Dock" Boggs- Sugar Baby
9. Shelor Family- Big Bend Gal
10. Hayes Sheperd- The Peddler and his Wife
11. Crockett's Country Mountaineers- Little Rabbit
12. Burnett & Rutherford- All Night Long Blues
13. East Texas Serenaders- Mineola Rag
14. Weems String Band- Greenback Dollar
15. Bennie Monten's Kansas City Orchestra- Kater Street Rag
16. "King" Oliver's Creole Jazz Band- Sobbin' Blues
17. Parham-Picket Apollo Syncopaters- Mojo Strut
18. Frankie Franko & His Louisianians- Somebody Stole my Gal
19. Clarence William's Blue Five- Wild Cat Blues
20. "Jelly Roll" Morton's Red Hot Peppers- Kansas City Stomps
21. Jimmy Noone- King Joe


Holopaw- Quit +/or Fight (2005)

While you'd have to be pretty hard-pressed to not know who Modest Mouse is, there is sometimes the occasional fan who hasn't been exposed to Isaac Brock's side stint with Ugly Casanova. In fact, it's even easier to discredit its eclectic cast of cabin rockers. Brian Deck produced two of Iron & Wine's most critically acclaimed albums (Our Endless Numbered Days and The Shepherd's Dog), while Tim Rutili remains as the driving force of Califone. John Orth of the Florida-based band Holopaw is a grand element to Ugly Casanova's sound; with writing credits on four songs, he accompanied Brock on the microphone with a wavering voice that will soon be unmistakable to your ears.

Only formed just a year before Sharpen Your Teeth's release, Holopaw provides soothing, mellow folk jams and ballads with a certain grace and majesty that is as fragile as it is powerful. Maybe that's milking it a little too much, but every once in a while, "that" kind of music just happens to be composed and is left waiting to be discovered. The band's sophomore release, Quit +/or Fight, was and still is mostly forgotten, especially on the tails of their latest 2009 masterpiece, Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. They're both excellent tapestries of pure musical charm, but today we'll be unearthing the former and giving it some extra necessary exposure.Quit +/or Fight may only run for half-an-hour, and it may be too delicate for some in terms of its cushiony execution and Orth's feminine croon, but underneath lies 11 resplendent tunes that beg to be loved. If it rubs you in the right spot, return the love and share it with others; Holopaw is far too brilliant to fall into the unknown.