Glorious existential bliss. Person Pitch could be looped for days and I would never tire of Noah’s endless harmonizing, endless waves of melody, and endless summer inside the machine. A new wave hippie that has persevered.
This one's kinda like Psychedelic Horseshit, in that there's not much more that I can say. I've tried many times to describe what I feel whilst listening to Kala but nothing comes close. A colleague of mine called it "omni-pop" and that's really that closest conclusion I can come to. If we reduce everything that's good in the world right now -- (the slow resurrection of Fela, the re-issue of all that's good in Brazilian musics, the uprising of Bmore, Blaqstarr, Mad Decent, Diplo, Switch, Rye-Rye, Mr. Devro, and all these wonderful things I've been linking to all year) -- it might get close. This album never fails to raise my spirits.
There are reasons I don't want to include the LCD in my top ten -- they seem lazy (replicating their debut almost to a fault), they're not even remotely hip (in terms of aesthetic), and they've fallen on almost every list I've read so far. So why do I still feel indebted? Is it James Murphy's second-life, comeback, triumph (R.I.P. Six Finger Satellite, one of my most beloved bands of the 90's)....?
No. Not at all. And Mr. Murphy would not want to dwell on that past. Or even the last LCD effort, or even last year. He's a perfectionist first and foremost. And though he's a prolific label-man secondly (through his now-oft-neglected DFA Records) he still funnels every bit of his quitodian life into his music, and for that Sound of Silver is a flawless hurdle. Seeing this live was enough. Hearing it over and over after said concert was complete...was a revelation. He's concentrated all the hipster forms of electronica, dance, and standard rock, into one overwhelming force. Try and not dance, shake your head, or mouth his easy to comprehend/understand lyrics. In LCD land every night is a party at the center of Manhattan, if you want it or not.
Hard to find a party starter that is a solid as Justice (but we'll get to that). The only reason this doesn't eclipse Mr. James Murphy's LCD is experience. While the debut by the Ed Banger Illuminati is exhilarating and above all else a fun trip, it lacks in songwriting. As a ephemeral piece of 2007 though, nothing will top it. SRSLY, take Daft Punk's Discovery and times it by a thousand.
I know what you're saying...This album needs no more press...but it's been quite a while since Radiohead has thrilled me (see the Bends tour, with David Gray opening at the Cleveland Agora). Sure, I was smitten with OK Computer and perplexed with the experimental duo of full-lengths that followed, but could only manage a yawn beyond that. In Rainbows came late one night, for free (but that's beside the point), and without warning. I'm pretty sure that the band knew they had a monster on their hands or else it all wouldn't have happened this way, it ebbs and flows with the finest releases of this year. Radiohead is fully aware of the corners of rock that they must re-establish and save. Could it be the closest thing to Pink Floyd our generation has experienced? OK. With the advent of computers, I'll accept that.
Henceforth...The lush atmosphere and lilting melodies In Rainbows pours over the listener is enough for a decade or more.
Lucas is a record that made much more sense months ago. I'm trying to imagine a fully realized version of all those Olivia Tremor Control excursions, only with an ear towards the Soft Machine, African High-Life, Tropicalia, and Danny Elfman -- instead of 60's nostalgia. Envision an orchestra balancing on a unicycle. Perhaps I need to take a few months off to research Sun Ra?
Fitting that a band that was becoming too art-rock for their own good (i.e. letting Berlin get the best of them), would surprise the world by removing the art from the equation. Still this record is dark and engaging as the band's most puzzling work, but twice as catchy, twice as heavy. The most intriguing thing about this, a self-titled work, is that they chose to pull out all the Wire and This Heat references this far into their evolution -- a sign that this is a band that is in complete control (both creatively and professionally) of their future/fuhrer.
I'm not a techophobe -- never have been. But I'd say this is the first year where I've embraced the electronic genre with open arms. Blame it on my time with Stylus or blame it on the micro-masterpieces of minimalism from The Field, Pantha Du Prince, Deepchord, Burial, and locally by Deathly Fighter, but I've become accustomed to finding truth within circuits and loops.
The title of this one suggests that this Brazilian composer has a fear of color -- within the cold and calculated structures that may be true -- but Boratto reveals human errors, a human hand that allows cracks through which vibrancy flows. Of all the brilliant releases this year, Chromophobia sounds the most organic, a prism through which all forms of melody are welcome even when traditionally shunned.
I'm not sure if there's really anymore I can spew about this record that wasn't addressed here. All I can say is that the Horseshit boys, should they cum in your area (now with extra-pinkness), are probably onto a whole 'nother batch of songs. These here continue to puzzle and amaze and make me shake my head in total fucking agreement. Not a better pop record made this year besides Ms. Brittany Spear's tantric-future-funk masterpiece, Blackout. Recognize.
Since there's not much left on the new releases front and I'm huddled inside master-minding a perfect year-end list for the public to peruse (my brother claims he will not make a list, but he's already "list"ed off his favorite 7"s of the year). I don't find the harm in such lists, in fact I love reading my favorite critics picks, and predicting how many magazines will laud over what (to me) is a fairly mediocre The National record.
So the programming here will change for the next few weeks. I will be pulling the fine-toothed comb through quite a hairy year of music. Not only will I keep you on edge, slowly leaking out the year's best records from 10-1 (imho), but I'll find some other worthy categories to indulge you with-- including 2007's "unheard" and "neglected" albums. As always, I encourage your comments as they pour. Please Pour. Regular rants and Made-Rite sandwiches will continue into the new year.
Perhaps the last bastion of Andy Griffith-esque life in Troy, Ohio -- K's Hamburgers, right there on Main St. hasn't changed much since it began in 1935. At least it hasn't changed a bit since the last time I had dinner there. I've been hankering for nostalgia every time I head home, and this seemed like it would conjure up the most. Was I making too big a deal out of their little crispy hamburgers, "wet" fried and smashed on a smallish bun? As of this visit, the answer is no. The interior remains the same, the malts still there, the grizzled 70-something wait-staff still cackle 'your order's ready' in no discernible direction, the tiny men's bathroom still reminds me of some back-alley in a more industrial baby-boomtown, the price so low you can eat like a king (at least king of the Trojan Square) for under $5. Now that the festival's have shut down, my latest obsession falls with the fabled eateries of Western Ohio. Stay tuned, as I'm destined to go that way as much as possible, if only for the comfort of the Elliott family fireplace.
When I first heard "Dance California" and read the description laid upon San Francisco's Wooden Shjips, I thought it was a collective of like-minded late-teenagers finally finding the truth in kraut, forgoing anything post in order to jam cosmic. Six months later I'm inebriated mere hours past noon, the Austin sun is beating down on the pavement, and I'm in a cave-like bungalow known as Beerland with only a handful of know-it-alls bobbing heads to a bearded forty-thirty-something bohemian with the raddest guitar seen in my life. It was Wooden Shjips -- in all their old-age, long-haired, infinite wisdom -- handing out free vinyl after the smoked had cleared. Well I played that 7" into the ground, and made many believers in its wake, but that full length? Let's just say it doesn't hold same sonic blister as does the live show.
Their limited Sol '07 almost did the trick, since it was an actual live recording, but it wasn't until their Sub Pop debut, Loose Lips, that I became devout towards their magnetic output. For some reason this is indicative of the performance more that anything before it. The keyboards and bass are far out front, the vocals not to intimidating (simply going with the flow), and the guitars carving on forever (the bread and butter of the band). Carving on forever, and ever, and ever. You'd think the song was 15 minutes.
For Siltbreeze Alasehir's The Philosophy of Living Fire is release number nine. It's fitting considering that the trio is pretty much Bardo Pond sans vocals and oblique instrumentation, things that might get in the way of the Gibbons Brothers living room meditations/excursions. I'm afraid if Mr. Woodbe (or Lax) has one soft spot in his body, it's kneeling at the temple of the Pond, a Philly institution that has become more religion than band. Really, this duo should pass around a charity plate whenever company comes over and they just so happen to both pick up guitars. Imagine what those Matador Records (there's four to dig into) would sound like stripped to their bare elements, endless blooze jams pounded out into endless mantras, those enormous amorphous miasmas sapped of colour and tinted black and white while the listener floats in infinite gray-space.
Who knows how much drugs play a part anymore? I don't know the bros personally, but I remember a dorm room, a bong hit, and a cassette copy of Amanita at a very impressionable age. It was enough to make a believer outta me. Within the three tracks of Philosophy the trio finds the core of freedom, some repetitive release from past musics, chiseling deep into dark space. An endless boogie? After all, Alasehir is the modern name of the holy city of Philadelphia, Turkey. Look it up. There's certainly something sacred about these recordings.
And that brings me to Siltbreeze, and how they've got the cache to receive such grail. Oh how you've done so much for my social life this 2007. May I suggest a couple ideas for your 10th release? Just to end the year in a nice round number? How 'bout a vinyl comp. of all the strange voice mails you must receive in a given week, or yourself reading the correspondence that gets shoved through your mail slot? Or better yet, a little comp. of the best of the trash you get sent on a regular basis. Surely there's a teen from Ulan Bator recording "collage-scape" that we all don't know about yet. It's prolly worth hearing. Basically I'm saying, you've saved a lot of independent face this year. Saved Matador. Written the greatest one-sheet in the history of music promotion (I've read through a million). And turned me onto DER TPK,Pink Reason, Sapat, Factums, all long-players of the year. What's your sweater size?
My time with Pre was brief. I wasn't expecting Pre, I wanted Pissed Jeans, but they had bedtimes apparently and when I arrived they were huddled around the dim lamppost outside the Bobo, looking like regular dudes, not the scum-rock fist-punk saviors found on Shallow. By all accounts their live show was great, but I'll stand by the razzing I gave Hope for Men, a disappointment that should be fully ignored. Shame on Sub Pop.
Back to the four blokes and nymphet from the United Kingdom that seized my attention in spastic spurts of proggy nihilism. I'd thought that I'd grown out of this Skin Graft state of mind -- I was once fascinated with the free-form skronk of Space Streakings and the detailed velocity of Melt Banana -- Pre however seemed to play with unconscious primal ism instead of studied histrionics. This is not Beefheart on 45. Each tiny knick and twist accelerated to Soul Disco absurdities. They've got Boredoms on the brain and that's a movement I can get behind.
Speaking of behinds, I saw the word "shtick" cleverly scrawled on a cocktail napkin to describe the singer's skimpy attire and sexual gyrations. Sure the sausage in the front row were drooling on their used shoes, but the sheer amount of sweat this girl shed allows her any uniform, any form of shock tactics she wants to throw down. The sleazy force of Pre prefectly fit the dingy environs and by night's end, or 25 minutes later, I had to crank my jaw back into place.
You're probably as sad as I am that Stylus is dead. They were a nice fit for me. And somehow, having this blog linked through that site I was getting a lot of traffic (spam). So I thought I'd start anew here with the mission statement as read on the Stylus link:
“Teenagers Unite” is the permanent mantra heard in the World of Wümme, for though we age gracefully and our tastes become more refined, we forever cling to that 18 to 35 demographic until we choke out our last breath. If anything, this blog is a resource for young soldiers fighting a daily culture war on the streets. It’s a document filled with detailed tactics and strategy handed down to future generations aimed at creating a brave new world. We have a responsibility to reverse the predictions of an Orwellian fate and to build, to unleash a vertical proliferation of kaleidoscopic colors and deafening sound.
I guess I'll keep the mood all-like fall-like and gush about my theory on autumnal playlists. Livin' in Ohio and experiencing each change of season I've found the fall a time when listening habits become much like the year before or before that. For some reason there are certain albums that just resonate better this time in the calendar. Albums or songs that evoke memories much stronger than others. Granted I've locked myself in the basement to master Guitar Hero III, but there's a reason I keep trying to conquer "One" by Metallica. Metallica just sounds better when the trees are slowly becoming bare and ominous. Right? Or Urge Overkill. Anything by the Misfits. The Posies - Frosting on the Beater. Megadeth. Geto Boys. Tammy and the Amps.
Sure there's plenty of new things to listen to that fit the mood:
A Mountain of One - perfect for a pre-sun commute, in morning silence, to one of Columubus' many fine public schools.
Tiffany Evans - "Promise Ring" -- my deep attraction to light-hearted quiet storm fare never falters.
Brittany -- Yes. Blackout is as neon-coated and darkly pop as the critics allow.
Psychedelic Horseshit and TNV's (new one) shitpop -- for the anxiety that precedes the anxiety of the holidays.
And that Black Swans record Change keeps me up late on the screened in porch through colder and colder smoke breaks.
But for me two songs have won out. The first from Anita Baker's landmark album Rapture. Listening to "Sweet Love" is being 10 years old again and in Tae Kwon Do. For some reason the sensei was a huge slow jams man, and his clock radio would always have the Dayton classic R&B station on stealth-like in the back office. No matter what we were doing you could hear it's soft whisper from beyond. It was most prevalent when we had our final meditation. Whenever I want I can hear Anita's voice in this rousing song and transport myself to a time when meditation was in a white cotton uniform on a bamboo floor, the only time to actually think and revel in a young boy's life. For a 10 yr. old, that was some peaceful shit. It was in that moment that I would dream off and find myself in the foreign locales I've been lucky enough to see. I owe it all to Anita.
Then there was Sepultura and "Dead Embryonic Cells." I was 14 and sitting shotgun with Big Tim Dafner in the Cutlass Supreme. I suppose like any half-way rebellious teen we were searching for dirt weed, cheap cigarettes and the supreme evil in heavy metal music. Back then it seemed like we had found it with Danzig, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, and our secret weapon, Pungent Stench. Sepultura was up there with the top three (Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth), but it wasn't until now that I know how potent and influential they really were. Seeing movies now re: the strife in modern day Brazil, the guys in Sepultura were speaking from the ultimate pit of humanity. Not Africa, but somewhere where opportunity is shoved in your face but yanked away at an instant. Belo Horizonte, where they originated in this late 80's/early 90's turmoil was the real deal for the type of apocalyptic imagery Sepultura conjured both musically and stylistically. It's only now that I've realized how devastating Arise truly is. I'd love to go on a little field trip through the creepiness of the Miami Valley we journeyed; be it tracing the ghost of Polecat Rd., the satanic ritual sites outside of Huber Heights, the head-shop in New Carlisle, or various gravel pits where underage kids could get high. Sepultura as a constant would have made all the difference, at least it does now.
The perfect pre-Halloween celebration. What better way that to celebrate pumpkins than with over-salted pumpkin seeds, cult desserts like pumpkins donuts and waffles, pumpkin burgers, pumpkin candles and helmets. You get the idea. I never knew the gourd was so edible and useful in the home.
So there's a pumpkin shortage this year? Not in Circleville. They had the things in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They had the precise scent of dying leaves and cold stone buildings wafting through the air. Wednesday was locals night maybe, the downtown cretins and dark back alleyways lent the town the feel of some place haunted.
But the parade through the city -- with marching bands from Logan Elm, Teays Valley, and Asheville, dentists in Chryslers with their high-school, Pumpkin Queen hopefuls on the hood -- became a microcosm of idyllic smalltown america. Congrats to Andrea Turner btw (really, read through this link).
Perhaps it's a sign of my old age that I actually enjoy such preciousness. Either way it's better than any fair. It's a show. Bring a flask though, for I searched for Pumpkin Beer high and low to no avail.
I'm thinking I skipped over this because it's such a solitary record, not for the masses, the proles. Thurston Moore has put out a great bunch of releases this year, half of them much like the split between 16 Bitch Pile-Up and Mike Shiflet, and half of them like the MV/EE's Gettin' Gone (rootsy, incense-burning, myth collections), and one that puts both sides together (Magik Markers brilliant Boss). The solitary albums have been vinyl only, pressed in tiny amounts and spit around to inquiring heads (i.e. Lambsbread R.I.P.) and for that Moore is philanthropist rather than label mogul. He knows these recordings have a purpose, not a mass audience, and judging by the amount of pure "noise" Moore ingests in a day (see Bull Tongue) the 30 minute romps from Leslie Keefer and this one here are his bliss-out moments (or cave retreats).
Solitary -- if someone says they listen to "noise" records at parties, with friends, they're lying. Even in a live setting, with crowd, and the "mercy applause" that concludes even the more irritating extremes of the "noise" sub-culture, a spectator is likely to get trapped and/or escape in a deeply personal singular experience. There are no knowing glances to the people around you, no high fives and critical mumurs. The only sign that the "band" is acheiving an altered state is within oneself. Quality noise is a conscious trip without medicine, measured by one's own enlightenment. It's telling that "noise" enthusiasts treat the genre like a religion. I would attend the next NO FUN FEST, but I'm not sure if I'm devoted enough.
Make Like a Fetus and Abort is the perfect break-out for the Bitches. A space odyssey on the outer limit's best morphine, portioned like a radio drama for the hearing impaired. I've seen a few Pile-Ups in my time and it's quite an emasculating live show -- not homicidal femme fatales out for male blood, but these girls got demons they need to release. Knives, screwdrivers, cross-stitch, a massively hot DJ de-grooving dollar opera records,fake blood, fake puss, fake bruises (have you seen the pictures?) boiling in a mess of chum and broken strings and howls. These are nightmare quasars, the primal screams that rush out the ears once you've pressed you palms against closed eyes. Childhood fear, adult-hood taboos. Space travel without any scientific data.
And Mr. Shiflet? Well he's been loafing on the pulse of "noise" for many, many, years. His Gameboy Records will one day be documented in some elaborate, gold-plated, box-set. Extract, Behold is a fitting a title as one can find in the "*****" world. The Ohio ex-pat, now in Japan, is an artisan of drone, through static and long, buzzing, chords, he reveals jazz-like melodies. You've got to listen hard, much like those hidden eye photos, to find them, but once you do you'll dispute the claim that one man's construction site is another's form of transcendental meditation.
It must be noted that though both artists now have different locales, the recordings found here were recorded in Columbus, OH, USA. Again, I of the B Holder.
Yes. Another big box concert, but I had legitimate hopes, expectations, 3/4 of Siamese Dream in ripe October moonlight. I can't say I was let down. Billy Corgan is a consummate showman. Really. He's the alt-rock generation's Jimi Hendrix. He fucking owned the guitar and even though this night he plowed through 3/4 of Zeitgeist instead, that lazer-beam tone was ever-present. "Hummer" alone was worth the price of admission and in the context of a live show coupled with half a fake reunion, those new songs actually worked.
But alas, Billy is a zombie, the "zero" of his song (and numerous t-shirts I've seen since), which might explain the awkward noodling through "White Rabbit," Joan Jett, and the Van Halen-esque hammer-ons. Honestly, the last twenty minutes of the "real" show were nothing but band jam, excursions through "Heavy Metal Machine" and whatever else Billy felt like playing. Just drop it all, contact All Tomorrow's Parties, and take the Dream on the road. Hell, I'll even take an exclusive Adore tour. Love that one.
Ga ga ga ga ga ga haven't been interested in Radiohead for years. Ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga asked me what I would pay for In Rainbows and I said 0.00 £GBP. Ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga late one night they discreetly and impersonally gave the album to me before I could (steal) borrow it from a friend. Ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga sounds exactly what I expected Radiohead would sound once OK Computer signed off. Ga ga ga ga ga ga as a result, I'm loving it, ga ga ga ga ga, it's simply not an album, ga ga ga ga ga, but truly an experience. Ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga, alright, alright, already, I'll shell out $80 for the discbox, get off my back. Ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga, have placed them on a pedestal as the world's most important band, ga ga ga ga ga ga, and such a gesture as In Rainbows has proven to be, ga ga ga ga ga (1.2 million (free) downloads), ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga ga, might just prove them right.
In recent years I haven't paid much attention to big box concerts. There's truly not a worthy venue to drag top-tier acts through town. The LC Pavilion (outdoors only) comes closest, so I was obliged to go see Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem. I've seen both before, in much more intimate settings, therefore entering with a feeling that neither have adapted to playing to 2,000. I've made such an obvious lackluster post to report only "goodness," this may rank up there with the best of them -- purely based on both bands ability to connect (and I was at least 100 yrds. away). LCD with a blown-out dance party -- featuring crystal clear, white-hot melodies met with the slightest shifts from James Murphy's soldiering electronic backbones (as a live band it's the man and machine forming one giant undulating wave). The now-nearing orchestra level (I think there were 13?) Arcade Fire (a Canadian E-Street Band?) brought a show that careened through an emotional roller-coaster, splitting evenly between dramatic renderings of the more sombre Neon Bible and the exultant hymns of Funeral. It was almost like a Flaming Lips show with much better taste and class. I haven't seen woodwinds rock a stage since Mercury Rev.
A brief moment containing "Intervention"...just to show you my point of view. Not bad for a lawn.
Ever since I laid ears on Heavy Winged'sWe Grow I've been intrigued by the going-ons of Not Not Fun. So infatuated in fact that late one night, drunk on CBC IPA, I ordered up a full-stack of their latest vinyl offerings (all limited and packaged with intricate bonuses). Now...I'm elevating on my daily commute to work via Robedoor's latest, Ritual Heirs, a four-part drone perfection, or am simply giggling at how the youngins in Belly Boat have laid waste to CocoRosie's career with something much more tuneful and intimately strange.
Ask any hipster his/her favorite season and 9 times out of 10 they'll answer with Indian Summer. I myself am guilty of siding with that one week after our first "hard freeze" when the harvest sun warms dying foliage and the air is crisp with simultaneously hints at life and death.
Not not sure if Not Not Fun has a premier artist at this juncture, as every other one of their releases gives off a anonymous, tribal, organic vibe. Kinda like "We were Providence natives before Providence natives were cool," rally round the totem pole and chaos pad, type stuff. Mudboy is the real deal. Look, it says "Get Your Mind On," and from what I can gather this is a one-man show. Well this guy's made what might just be the finest noise record of the year in Hungry Ghosts! These Songs are Doors, not to mention the most meticulously crafted piece of wax I've seen in sometime (die-cut, hand-colored, oh my). Volta be damned. Anyways, Mudboy's gone and made the perfect soundtrack for the inevitable Indian Summer, a piece of music that will at once sooth you into frantic meditation and calm you into welcomed terror. Got that? There are prayer bells circulating, howls in the horizon, back-masked whispers of devil-blasted children, throbbing electronic scribbles at every darkened corner. In essence, Hungry Ghosts is the haunted house I'm not able to attend because of my wife's asthma, nestled somewhere in Southeastern Ohio, near a Shawnee burial ground uplifted by extra-terrestrials. On a more manageable level (and not in my over-active psyche) he falls neatly between the Finnish forest-freak-folk that's still under-appreciated and the loop-crazy sedation of Excepter, who have yet to craft their masterpiece.
Needless to say, Not Not Fun is providing essential listening, artifacts that serve as diversions to modern mediocrity.
I'm just saying. I would be speaking in toungues here about recent Siltbreeze releases from Factums and XXNOBBQXX, but neither record has been found near my mailbox. So I have to pimp the only way I know how. There are copies of Magic Flower Droned floating around the greater Columbus metropolitan area, and I'm sure they're making face-melting believers out of most listeners. This shit is golden trash. Give me time. I've got a plan. More to come. Psychedelic Horseshit still have four or five or six more local shows before they become slaves to the road. I'm just saying. Besides Sword Heaven and the obvious, PHS be saviours. For reals.
Prairie Cat - Attacks is yet another stellar, and preciously unassuming, release from our friends at Catbird Records. A shame the limited 100 copies hand-painted, presumably by Mr. Ryan Catbird himself, are gone before the world even has a chance to procure them, because mine is a thing of beauty. But you still can acquire the second pressing via the record's co-contributor, Fuzzy Logic. You all should because Vancouver's Cary Pratt is a trimmed and crafty toss of bedroom pop that could only emanate from Canada.
Then again, before I did my research, I swore this was from Chicago. Got to reminiscing about Kleenex Girl Wonder and how I can score a real version of Graham Smith's buried opus Smith: The Album. Or maybe Pratt listened to tons of Sam Prekop (as his tunes have the breezy glide of early Sea and Cake) or maybe Liam Hayes of Plush (where are they now?). These are dudes that basically make their own musical world in the confines of a 8X8 loft, hopefully overlooking the hustle and bustle of urban living.
Catbird has an ear for finding this brand of pristine twee-pop, but it's usually far more troubled, less innocent, more confused by sex than social networking and cardigan sweaters. Cary Pratt or Prairie Cat is a character in some middle-aged man's heartfelt memoirs, only Pratt is really commuting via subway, internet savvy, and infinitely hip to sushi and Kanye West.
Soul Jazz Records, responsible for perhaps one of the most essential compilations of the last decade, Tropicalia: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound, has trumped itself once again with it's latest dig on Brazilian musics. Brazil '70: After Tropicalia is even more essential than it's predecessor if only because many of the artists included have rarely been spoken of outside of their homeland. The first batch of Tropicalia pioneers, on the other hand, have been involved in a renaissance of re-issues over the past few years. That crew, including Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Tom Ze, Rita Lee and Gal Costa, are all represented here, showing their progression from the psychedelic garage nuggets of the late 60's into a wide swath of genres that defined the 70's such as funk, soul, folk, prog, and even wild proto-metal (i.e. Lee's brilliant "Corista de Rock"), all without turning their backs on traditional sounds like samba, bossa nova, and the rhythms of the Northeast.
Where Tropicalia was a vibrant rebellion versus the oppressive military government, this strand came at a time when it was simply better to keep one's mouth shut, opposed to imprisonment, complete censorship, and violent ramifications. In turn the songs here are more varied, abstract, almost subversive in their expression of a country suffocating. Brazil '70 is predominantly influenced by hippiedom adapted from our own counter-culture. There's a deep attraction to free love, blatant drug use, and tapping into the metaphysical throughout these songs, maybe even more so because in Brazil the reality was more dire.
Raul Seixas led the pack, claiming several times he'd encountered aliens providing him spiritual truths. He went on to become Brazilian music's mythic journeyman, a South American Jim Morrison (even died an untimely death), but his representation here in "Mosca No Soba" and "As Aventures De Raul Seixas Na Cidade De Thor" are taken from his "experimental" album Krig-Ha Bandolo, a strange mix of biker rock, tribal unity, and soft-hued psych trails. Highly recommended.
Elsewhere on Brazil '70, Novos Baianos flirt with Yes-esque complexities adding regional flavors throughout, Nelson Angelo and Joyce (pronounce Hoy-say) paint a paisley jungle acoustically, and Erasmo Carlos sings a precursor to Tim Maia's forgotten afro-soul records (the obvious next path for Soul Jazz is to sift through these). Still, no matter what was being ingested from their neighbors to the North, Brazil '70 is uniquely Brazilian. To get a feel for what I'm talking about, I found this little compilation video of Secos and Molhados....really, stuff like this can't be found anywhere else in the world.
No one ever believes me that as a young, impressionable teenager, I wrote a letter to G.G. Allin's record label and said letter (a typical fanboy list of questions regarding his validity) was forwarded to G.G. during his stay in Jackson State Prison (1989-1991). G.G. wrote back -- a number of times, with artwork and lessons on life (go for the highest rung, beat down all those in your path-type shit). He even tried to call once, though my parent's intercepted and didn't accept the charges, said he was destined for Troy once he got out. Years later, I've not been able to locate these letters, so my correspondence with Allin is pure myth, though it constantly comes up in conversation with people who knew me then. My fascination with his music and his martial-law antics waned as I have grown older, but this video jolted me into re-evaluating his artistic genius.
I'm kinda hoping Psychedelic Horseshit sound like this tonight.
Though Hated provides a graphic summarization of his life, a film I've watched ad naseum, I'm tempted to write the man's biography. Even if it has to be a work of fiction.
Much praise has been hurled towards my favorite anthropologist/dee jay, Wes Pentz, AKA Diplo. And for good reason. Just last week he dropped an incredible little mix over at Pitchfork. But prior to that he's had a busy year; lending a hand to M.I.A.'s spark-fed scorcher, Kala, the summer's indecipherable party record, Bonde Do Role With Lasers, running his increasingly up and coming label, Mad Decent (with bar none the web's best mp3 blog), teaching kids in the Australian Bush how to make hip-hop, and putting the finishing touches on his Favela on Blast doc. (Not to mention the Santogold album, sure to be the next big thing).
Dig deeper into the well of Wes and you'll find he's pretty big on Bmore producer DJ Blaqstarr (also responsible for many of M.I.A.'s zulu-beats), who's building his own little empire thanks to teen sensation Rye Rye. Via her myspace, you'll be quickly introduced to the last anthem of the summer, her hypnotic and primitive ghettotech revamp, "Shake it to the Ground." It's already been subject to a number of remixes, and now Diplo's got into the game, producing a follow-up in "Wassup Wassup." So I'm just saying. I believe the children are our future.
When the three moons of Magik Markers aligned they were a mighty triptych of enlightened chaos. Shapeless noise catharsis dreaming in dull color. Then Leah crawled into the desert and only Elisa Ambrogio and Pete Nolan remained. Now it's a cross, tilted it's an X -- one's sipping snake oil, the other holy kerosene. Boss means big, and that's big purging, skin shedding at the expense of drifter lullabies and still-hardening exteriors that shelter three-chord punk songs.
The duo does their damnedest to breath life back into the experiment. This is their Bad Moon Rising and the unfurled teenage riot in "Body Rot" predicts they might just stumble into their Daydream Nation. "Axis Mundi" and "Last of the Lemach Line" teeter between hum-able rock dirge and improv's natural luck. There's still a stab and kill first, hide the corpse later, fog to their more challenging movements, though now inflated sonics (Lee Renaldo plays and produces here) make them stick to the bone.
It's "Empty Bottles" that burrows through to the bar that never closes; piano and voice and field/alley recorded silence. Ambrogio is rich with imagery, tiny prayers to new age pagans, or perhaps the whole bulk of words is just a plea to a friend to meditate on something other than mental scar. About time we all meditate this wayward way.
Give Mark Van Fleet and Aaron Hibbs the keys to the Rock HOF, the MOMA, the Smithsonian, every club in town, because not only are they Columbus' most intriguing/important artists and musicians, they are also impeccable curators.
Last Saturday's Entrance release party, built by Sword Heaven, starring Sword Heaven -- kinda felt like the center of the musical universe -- if just for that moment. It was a battle, not of good vs. evil, but of black vs. white. I've puffed on plenty of death metal in my time...some strands of Norwegian and South Floridian. Nothing is as dark (and emotionally heavy) as Sword Heaven. They are the complete absence of light. The sound of coal miners choking through inevitable suffocation in endless night. Demon exorcisms given in Arctic Ocean submarines. Whenever I encounter a Sword Heaven virgin, I usually guide them towards this clip, which is as good an introduction as I can think of...
Yet...this is not even close to what they've evolved into. On Saturday they added one tiny chirp, skree, clip, sample, scream to their anti-mantra and it was enough to send them into a completely different realm. I was compelled to call it hip-hop even, if in fact early BDP instrumentals were being screwed and chopped at the gates of hell. Heads simply bang, then roll, then chant, then cry, then you start searching for your own core while your standing their, mouth agape. Inner-soul music.
Well, Van Fleet and Hibbs know their cosmic opposites, Times New Viking, the white hot heat, the beacon light in this equation. The Outer-soul music -- you search for energy bouncing off the tips of your fingers and hairs of your head. Like I said, this night, two of the world's most important bands were absolutely on, and where Sword Heaven were the nuclear holocaust of color, TNV funneled every bit of the rainbow and prism, the crystal and clouds, into their blistering set. I've got to stop with the pre-requisite "I'm biased" bullshit, the nights up late debating whether I should include Paisley Reich in some worthless year-end, top-ten, just because I know the drummer used to hide his dinner in his underwear drawer when he was seven. This is a trio that has criss-crossed the USA a few times this year and come back to Columbus, hobbling, in debt to their eyebrows, bruised, scarred, cocky and wise. But what a wonder it did to those songs. A sticky, oozing, psychedelic gel -- ecstatic and buzzing, hippie-swirls and Manchester pogos -- every piece a thousand new ideas, every break as precise and calculated in the best way possible. These is tight. Shoegaze made rebellious melody. Idiosyncratic noise rock made nursery rhyme timeless. They're dumbing it down, dulling the sharper edges, so that you'll sing along. Funny that guitarist Jared Phillips seems to always pluck the beginning of "Paranoid" between songs, then I realize the monstrous ending they've tacked onto "Fuck Books" is Sabbath. Little Sabbath for now, but in the confines of Bourbon St. I'd like to think it's the Royal Albert Hall or something like that.
"We've never played Mexico before so we'll play all the hits."
So I forgot to count the other ways in which the fellows from Sword Heaven made this world/beach a better place; Swamp Leather (send me something, I'd like to think you're the worthy substitute to a town without Lambsbread), Deadsea (you should already know my love for America's greatest metal band), and the Providence kids that were squirming around like extras from Fraggle Rock -- you all made the night one to write home about.
Hmmm...Blame it on my upbringing that I'm especially suspect...nah...prejudice against people from Piqua, OH. Of course it's full of dirtier, less-educated, proletariats than its more bourgeois neighbor to the south, Troy. We did after all invent the industrial mixer, the bar code, and the strawberry.
But during Labor Day, Piqua slays my hometown with its history. The Piqua Heritage Festival re-creates those bygones that Troy never knew existed. Being a former Indian conquest, a village conquered by the French, and (still) a vital point of dock along the popular Miami-Erie Canal, Piqua breeds history buffs; pure Caucasians that dress like natives and mountain-men (no mountains in Ohio?), full-on pre-colonial, overnight camps (that prolly rage on homeade moonshine after dusk), and farmers that pride themselves on organics (my father grinned ear to ear with his ear of field corn).
This is the end of my festival season (with perhaps the late arrival of a demolition derby, fingers crossed), but its always the most humbling. My mother remarked this hobby, of re-enacting the life of a plumbing-less nation, is just as much a hobby as golf (for the rich and famous). I tend to agree, though hopefully my future here is behind the lens -- little chuckles towards the guys in buttless chaps, smoking cracklings, churning butter, and telling kids 'bout the good ol' days, will be suitable fantasies with which I'm better off avoiding and (through mindless observation) generalizing for my own amusement.
Let's use first names. Dusty wanted me to send him some shots of his band that he thinks I took after hours waiting for him to finally take the stage (on a Tuesday no less). Sadly Dusty, I took no pictures, only a non-representative, poorly videotaped portion of your band's second song. Jeff looked over at me and said that I'm probably loving this because I'm a big fan of Yes. Yes, he was right on. I'm also a fan of the long list of obscure psych bands you channel (Captain Beyond, hello). I just got done reviewing the latest album of faceless drivel by some French uber-psych hacks named Turzi that can't hold a candle to your love of Guru Guru. Ummm....can I start a label and sign you already. SRSLY?
Other than the Deathly Fighter, the only Columbus band I've been head over heels for in the past few months is The Moon and Bad Times, though I wish they'd shorten it to just Bad Times (10X more killer, trust me). Be known, this is only the first time I've seen them in the flesh. And to the bloggeratti, there's simply no audio for you to dwnld right now. Simply wait, good things come to those that. Or venture to Columbus to say you were there, as I'm sure some higher profile shows will come their way once the Columbus Alive (sic) finds out how good they are. Until then -- my lo-tech addition.
The Ohio State Fair has been an Elliott Family tradition for as long as as I can remember. Unfortunately the 2007 pilgrimage was met with plenty of rain, therefore we spent much more time with the cattle and pork, than we did with the midway and the colorful people that inhabited it.
So, even though my summer of festivals has become a bust (sorry festival fanatics but I bought a house), I decided to leave you with a picture of my adventures at the largest state fair in these Great United States. It's a junior pig handlin' competition, jus' so y'alls know.
Just look at that picture; a cello, stiff postures, period clothing, a guy in suspenders gripping an acoustic. The Pale Young Gentlemen had me scared before I even cracked open their eponymous debut. Would this be the work of a cut-rate Decemberists, drooling over literature and making parlor games out of pop music. Or could it be the work of some group huffing the same Eastern-Euro fumes smelt by Beirut's Zac Condon? Truth be told, it's a little of both, but in the best way possible. You're going to get a bit sea-sick within Pale Young Gentlemen's adherence to trad-instrumentation and Muse Machine pretension (the kids gotta latch onto somethin'), still it's charming, pulling a listener into a forgotten time that sounds equally like today.
There's plenty of drama, pure melodrama, to be seen here. As if Madison, Wisconsin lends a man nothing in environmental atmosphere and forces one to the stages hidden in stuffy high schools and community theaters. Let's think of those Great Lake States as a mini/little Scandinavia, taking great pride in the stoic...the nuance of songwriting, expressing human tragedy through artistic means. Bergman on overdrive, or Red Bull. Matthew Reisenauer has that voice, much like Rufus Wainwright or Antony, it's arresting in its theatrical grip, a tad of acting (the faux-Brit enunciations, the stuttered emotion), but perfect foil to the weeping melancholy of his piano playing.
There's really no need for cello, or chanted choir, or bass, or guitar for that matter on this disc. Songs like "Saturday Night" and the gripping finale, "Single Days" get their point across simply through Reisenauer's fragile narrations. Randy Newman gets many props from the band and as such it's warranted. Imagining Randy Newman's soundtrack to The Point, maybe Pale Young Gentleman should be producing their own show of morality amongst the societal -- only it would include characters named Nikolai and Fraulein, clad in knickers and cravats. It's totally cool to hearken back to a time your generation never knew as long as you can sense it into song; making us all wonder what it felt like.
It was last week that RN'R Robertson and I were commenting on this show and many other things from our childhood. He thought it was more jake than it actually was, and I thought it was less jake. Then we realized we were using an adjective that probably derived from Cleveland. Jacob's Field? Lo and behold, this was a syndicated show and was more than likely sandwiched between Small Wonder and This Week in Baseball on Saturday mornings. It was my dream to be a contestant on this show an lip-sync Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," just like the video.
Fortunately/Unfortunately the be all, end all, resides with the New Pornographers. And I really can't argue against such a statement. Mass Romantic was the supergroup at the height of their powers and everything after that has been akin to cool water (it's hard to admit you don't like it or need it, right?), but it's not something you bring up in normal conversation.
"Oh I had some great fucking water yesterday."
With Challengers though, I'm getting a bit sick of the cream and sugar (not to mention the worst album cover in the history of album covers). It was such a relief to get the latest project from Jason Zumpano. In the Co. of Ghosts is nothing to get excited about, it's simply a quaint album of piano instrumentals from the guy who lent his namesake to possibly the most underrated band in the realm of Canadian Pop. Geez, listening to Goin' Through Changes for the first time in maybe seven years brought back a tidal wave of memories. Slept on for sure.
But back to Ghosts which is another quiet triumph for the equally slept on Catbird Records. The CD is a dying format for sure (can't remember the last one I bought), but Mr. Catbird always has something up his sleeve. Jason Zumpano's latest was not intended for public display, it was an artistic trade with friend Jason McLean. Now that it is available for thrifty consumption by the rest of the world, we get both halves. Zumpano's extremely cinematic penny arcade scores (very Vince Giraldi) and hand-numbered, hand-pressed, prints from the mind of McLean (very Seussian, Goldbergian, and Kolchakian). Not something you'll be putting on your year-end top-ten or pumping on the car stereo, but something that will be cherished as a artifact of artists bucking the trend when most people are hard-driving the past in search of fast-money for the immediate future.
The brother and I had to make an emergency trip to Birmingham, Alabama for reasons I won't divulge here. Another story, another time. We were to leave on a Sunday and return on a Monday. Thirty-six hours in the Suburban with the Elliotts and Co. This wasn't a vacation, far from it, but knowing I would be traveling South, visions of touristy pit-stops to Rock City and Graceland passed through my head. But I've been to both (highly recommended btw), and the line to B'ham kinda pinballs between the two.
Muscle Shoals was the only destination in the entire state (besides the beach, but that's not too lovely) I could desperately think of. Then again, I wasn't sure what (if anything) was there. I knew a lot of music was recorded there (and later have discovered a ton of music was made there), but in terms of a landmark, a museum, a famous diner, I had no clue. Neither did any of my companions. And when my caravan finally obliged to my wishes of driving 90 miles off of I-65 to take a little adventure, there was already tension in the car.
When we rolled into the thick humidity of Muscle Shoals, it looked like every other, small, depressed, and rustic Southern town. There wasn't a mention of music, or music legends, or even a convenience store that sold little guitar magnets. My family was bit miffed, frustrated, ready to strangle me, till we spotted a fairly unadorned studio down the road. It was Fame Studios, the home of the original Muscle Shoals sound. There's a laundry list of artists who recorded there, simply to be backed by the Swampers; the studio's renowned session team. Aretha, Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, Candi Stanton, (to my mother's amazement) Paul Anka, all logged time there for it's room effects and the mix of country, soul, and funk provided by the owners.
Further into the 'burg, tucked away on Jackson Highway was Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, perhaps better known as thee M.S. place of refuge. Many including Dylan, Cher, Traffic, Jimmy Cliff, and Paul Simon traveled there for similar reasons. Being a point on what is known as the Mojo Triangle, it's a city nestled directly in the middle of Nashville and Memphis, so the miscegenation of black and white style was more apparent here than anywhere else during that time. Alas, it was closed, and we didn't get to see inside the final piece of the puzzle. We also never made it to Shiloh. (Sorry Uncle Jeff).
I've read and been told by a few people now that the definitive Muscle Shoals track is "I'll Take You There" by the Staple Singers. In case you're unfamiliar, or need a recap I've provided it for you.
Too much time apart. I know. Being separated from the internet for a good two weeks opened up some horizons. I rejoined nature, bought a house, traveled to the deep South (more on that later), and tried my best to have some semblance of a summer vacation, all without a computer screen staring me in the face. Excuses, excuses. As a result, I've got plenty piling up to talk about and a mailbox spilling over with new music. So bear with me.
First though it would be inappropriate of me to ignore Robert Pollard. I owe him heaps of gratitude. Once again though he's inundated the indie palette with a gobstopper of new flavors, to lukewarm responses. The Takeovers, the Circus Devils, the Silverfish Trivia, it's really all too much. Not that it's all bad (in fact it's somewhat of a banner year so far, compared to the past few), it's just not all gold. Not to mention another double dose of Bob on Merge in October (hope it's gold and platinum). And a fucking singles club? Flooding the market? Who knows? There was a time when I would purchase every single piece of wax the man created (I've got a full shelf of releases to prove it, even the Howling Wolf Orchestra record), but as of today, the Guided by Voices geek in me has subsided. Is it age? Quality of material? Is the GBV Geek an endangered species?
There was once a time when these mutants roamed the earth in considerable numbers. An indie-rock equivalent to Dead Heads (I've met tape-traders). They could name each of Bob's gazillion drummers in chronological order, owned Bee Thousand on multiple formats, made covert pilgrimages to Pollard's former home on Titus Ave. in Dayton (Mullet Graceland?), subscribed to his "literary" magazine, EAT. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, Not-Guilty. Some went as far as making music inspired by Uncle Bobby's DIY, regular-guy, thrift-store arena rock. Semi-Guilty. I love the fact that such mania spurred a community of non-musicians to buy a four-track the first time they heard "Game of Pricks." But alas, it seems the love has waned, these days listening to Guided By Voices is more nostalgic trip than new and exciting. Sad but True.
The Knights of Infinite Resignation however, still find Bob's well half-full. I've met this guy in some capacity, and it's likely we spent most of that conversation drunk (years ago?) discussing the hierarchy of Mr. Pollard's output. It's refreshing to know that shameless adoration for GBV can still be placed in song without a hint of self-consciousness or irony. Coming across as Cheap Trick-lite, alone at the Tascam, TKOIR's latest single, "Paris Hilton and Captain Beefheart" is a humorous side declaring "there was always something wrong with my GBV shirt/ you thought my Chuck Taylor's weren't so cool." From a songwriter who readily admits to talking about the Cleveland Browns during concerts, oddly quotes from Camus in his liner notes, and survives on mac & cheese, this is quite entertaining power pop -- a one-man Franklin County Art Brut. Sure, this might never escape the basement, it probably won't and he's probably fully aware of that reality, but as a reminder that the GBV nation is alive and well and anticipating and creating, this is a tiny, piece of ephemera sorely needed.
Tampa, Florida, June, 1991. It was my first real vacation without the parents when Jeff and Patti allowed me to pick a friend (I chose Doug Jackson) and fly down for a week with Uncle Bruce and Aunt Pam. The usual Florida tourist sites were seen, Disney, Universal, Clearwater Beach, Hooters...but by that time in my life I was more interested in finagling my older cousins into taking us to a concert. Like a sign from God himself, that week Tampa was hosting one of the most bewildering package tours of the decade. Imagine my surprise when Michelle and Sean were obliged to chaperon my friend and I to see the Sisters of Mercy/Public Enemy/Gang of Four/Warrior Soul, in a multi-cultural, genre-bending, precursor to Lollapalooza (more on this show in an upcoming edition of WTF). First on the bill though were Young Black Teenagers, a hip-hop quintet from the Bronx clothed in matching army fatigues. They were neither young, black, nor teenagers.
Despite being lambasted by their peers, virtually excommunicated from hip-hop, and generally regarded as novelty simply for their name, Young Black Teenagers had plenty of talent to go round and a PE connection that should have made them household names on par with 3rd Bass. They were the first act signed to Hank Shocklee's Soul for Urban Listeners label and their Bomb Squad produced self-titled album is brimming with the same cathartic edits and air-raid samples that made Fear of a Black Planet such an apocalyptic good time. Bad business deals, bad press, and bad blood with their benefactors (don't fuck with the gift horse) led them down a quick path to the cut-outs. They did score a minor-hit with "Tap the Bottle" (well known for sampling "Tom Sawyer" without Rush's permission) and DJ Skribble went on to become MTV's resident turntable jockey (remember The Grind? me either).
Listening over this record for the first time in many years, I'm actually shocked at how socially conscious and politically adept the group's lyrics were. Of course the themes are dated (reminiscent of the Goats topical jeep jams), but it's easy to conclude that YBT's Achilles heel was that they were far ahead of the game. I'm not quite sure that Eminem could get away with "Daddy Called Me A Nigga' Caused I Like to Rhyme" in the new millennium without the Rainbow Coalition kicking in his door.
(Editor's Note: Trying something new. So you'll have to quickly create an Imeem account to hear the songs I'll be posting. It's well worth your time though.)
Just posted this "sweeping generalization" of Cleveland's Exit Stencil Records. It had one glaring omission. What's going on with Blake Miller? He was excluded because he's from Columbus, right down the street. But the label did send me a stopgap split 7" with Julie Sokolow, anticipating the October release of Blake's sophomore album, Burn Tape.
"Tomorrow Sorrow," is apparently also the first song on the album, a soft, purple folk prayer, proving he's found a comfortable seat between the beards (Sam Beeeeam) and the bearded (Devendra), all the while spanning-off, eerily getting witty with reverb, bells, and tape loops. Go on, it gets stranger. The second track, "Chilly April" almost naively attempts to become his one man lisa frank animal jug band, but saves it with the mist of a skeletal pop dirge in its center.
After listening to some David Thomas Brougton on recommendation, I'm thinking Blake Miller is destined to be his haunting American counterpart. Both singers are homely familiar, but still sound like they're singing, and creating, from some distant, mystic, crawlspace. Apologies to Ms. Sokolow for not flipping sides yet. I'm simply over-anticipating what's sure to be an interesting full-length (his new site features the first four songs). The real dark-horse.
By no means was this an anti-Comfest fest, and in order to handle the local scene with kid gloves, Comfest was not a bust. It's hard to fault "anyone" who's trying to make this city a better place. No utopia of course, but every town has it's share of lot lizards and bad poets. Full disclosure: there's nothing better than seeing "most" of your favorite bands in a sunny park with your wife, a fishboat, and mug full of CBC pale ale close to the hip.
The Washington Beach Community Festival filled all the voids. Curated by Times New Viking, and pretty much birthed by Siltbreeze Omnicron, Tom Lax, it could've been subtitled, "Losers Whom Love Forgot." The Unholy Two, (now with even more guitar), started things off. Mr. Chris gives new meaning to the post-punk, making all the best punchlines blistering minute-and-a-half songs, forcing crowds to shield their eardrums, spitting improv-comedy from the cutting edge (what's being cut exactly? And why are you defending Officer Bobby Cutt$ Jr.?) Who really cares? This is everything you really want to hear/say in one quick knife hit from the electric stove. They should basically own CDR for the next year or so.
The second-coming of V-3? Kevin DeBroux is currently making Columbus his home, and Pink Reason, his ongoing journey, is beginning to sound like a descent, one that he will take, with all of you, kicking and screaming, moaning, and chugging puked-up vitamin water, along the way. Sporting a mohawk and the face of a young Tom Cruise, his incantation on this night went solo, playing a brief set of forgotten punk covers on an un-tuned acoustic guitar. This is the guy mother told me to stay away from (and eventually that guy, G.G., wrote me letters from prison), but I'd be damned if I didn't strain to hear the gospel that comes from his mouth. Honestly, this guy eats the truth for breakfast each and every day, then funnels it into eternally bruised, soul-rattling, deep-depression rock. Consider yourself fortunate the author of one of the year's most evocative albums might just have a post-office box here.
From there things get blurry. Not from alcohol, but from exhaustion. All's I can say, is that, for me (personally) Psychedelic Horseshit, owned the night. With new recruit, Laura (pictured above), filling in on bass duties, they seemed to physically say, "fuck a keyboard, play it yourself," throwing their cheap speak-n-spell into the decks for a new germ of crowd participation. I'm a tad bit partial, but this may have been the most engaging Horseshit show to date. Their energy (kinetic, poppy, yet wholly unrefined) can shine through any technical difficulty/drunkenness thrown in their path. They truly create their own fidelity. If this town has Zimmy, it's Matt Whitehurst. Keep in mind, Magic Flowers Droned, keep in mind. Fuck folk.
From there the heavy-hitters took center. Jerusalem and the Starbaskets caressed quotidian staples (i.e. White Stripes compounded blues riffs, Jeff Mangum's compounded inner-world-psych) and made them malleable for underground heads (like most in attendance). I could swear the duo played the same two-chord jammer for at least an hour, but I'm prolly quite wrong. Right? At this very moment they're doing the same thing for a crowd in flood-ravaged Oklahoma, and some kid is having his mind blown. Hmmm....Pavement and Elephant Six......and Lightning Bolt...for the micro-generation. Just don't blog it, keep it a secret. Please.
I could rant infinitely about the cons of Comfest (would love to start with that website, seemingly created at the turn of the century), but can only comment on the clueless entertainment committee and their quixotic quest to make everyone in town happy. Sure it's a hard feat, but do any of you have the pulse on what's good and what goes well together? I've posited the idea for curated stages time and time again, and honestly think the variety would be even greater while the quality would increase tenfold. Get a Ron House Stage, a Rick Cautella stage, a Paul Brown stage, a Hot 107.5 stage. Get WOSU involved, the Other Paper, fuck, even let the Alive writers pick some bands. Ok, I'm ranting. Get a clue. Seek out the talent instead of wading through applications from the X-Rated Cowboys.
Regardless, if you cherry-picked through the deluge of horrid cover bands and "new wave" hippies (Psychedelic Horseshit TM), you were able to find some worthy Columbus bands taken from their natural habitat and displayed for all-agers (who never get to see this sort of thing) and old-agers (who never go to see this sort of thing). Not sure if I would theoretically want my five-year old high on whatever fumes John Whitzky and El Jesus de Magico were huffing, but they would have learned a great deal about doo-woop and police brutality through the seamless theatricals of Hugs and Kisses "breakthrough" performance.
The legendary Cheater Slicks provided the most awkward of these "out of body" experiences. Imagine their surprise when they were asked to play the Bozo Stage (ugh, change that name pronto) at 2 PM in some blistering sun. My brother has always remarked Tom Shannon is the "greatest bummer in the world" (a compliment) and seeing him sweat through some instantly classic garage burners from their recently released Walk into the Sea, was proof enough. Temperatures warped any chance at cohesion, it was more like a prolonged seizure in slow-motion, convulsions in reverse, cough, cough, cough.
Mike Rep and the Quotas (pictured above), on the other hand, embraced the family cook-out atmosphere. It was 1984 or 1994 or even 2004 all over again. They really fry the reverb without any oil down in Harrisburg, to the point that it sounded like a plane was constantly in take-off. Here's a guy who just loves to get up on his tree-stump and share his love of music with anyone who will listen.
Then again, "trying is pathetic," or so said Will Foster's t-shirt. The Guinea Worms were the weekend's MVPs. I've always adored Foster's ability to flip a repetitious three-chord chant into apocalyptic party rock. Slowly but surely, the Worms get better and better each time I see them. A long progression, but I'm thinking the pay off (a new 7" on CDR, a greatest hits of old material?) is well worth the wait.
I'm forgetting some things. Night of Pleasure are the only punk band in town worth noting. The Lindsay made sure everyone now knows their name, 'bout time if you ask me. And of course this guy....
My Comfest could have began and ended with Dead Sea's early Friday set. Somebody sign this band already. Scheduling snafus aside, Comfest tends to win back my heart every year. I'm much too tired to bitch.
Perhaps the last of the fests which I can walk to, bellied up to Bicentennial Park to little fanfare. Unless you dig cumbia or Mexican forro, and large intimidating crowds after dark (I know plenty of guys who go apeshit for it), there was little cultural value in Festival Latino, at least in the two hours I was there. Again, it was daylight, an anonymous latin-jazz group was covering Santana, foods which have pretty much become a staple of the Columbus menu were being served (every modest taqueira in the city in one place), and trinkets from South of the border were sold to adoring (clueless) Caucasians. There was scant representation from Brazil (to my wife's dismay) and the eternal underdog of South America, Uruguay, or for that matter any other country that isn't Mexico. I did see wax worms whipped into a strawberry desert though.
Fortunately the Capoeira community stopped by to show us all how it's done.
What's it gonna' take to get a job with the amazing Numero Group? Month after month they keep discovering, and gloriously repackaging, crate finds that are essential puzzle pieces in the evolution of modern music. They seem to have all the bases covered, lost power pop (Yellow Pills), lost femme-folk (Wayfaring Strangers), lost world funk (various Cult Cargo comps.) and the label's biggest undertaking, the Eccentric Soul series.
Numero already unearthed the amazing Capsoul Label (their first release), so who would've thought there was another Columbus imprint that needed digging up? The Prix Label began on 921 E. Broad Street in the now defunct Harmonic Studios. Over a four year span (1969-73) they released only a small handful of singles. Pretty much all of them are compiled here, along with a batch of master tapes found only a year ago at a local estate auction (the owners apparently had no idea what a goldmine they possessed). Of course there is a bit of overlap with Capsoul, session players and band members were an incestuous bunch in the small but vibrant Columbus scene (Marion Ray, a star of Bill Moss' label, also recorded a single for Prix), but that's not to say Prix isn't an entirely unique entity.
For one, they had Eddie Ray, who began in a trio with the legendary Sam and Dave. On "You Got Me" he shines like a legitimate star over a slightly psych soul groove. The album also boasts two tracks from OFS Unlimited, who were precursors to the big-band, multi-cultural, funk sounds of the Ohio Players and Sun. Their "Mystic" is a barreling slice of instrumental jazz blasts and polyrhythm, something that wouldn't be out of place on a Tarrantino soundtrack or necromanced into a Go Team sequence.
Basically, whether you're a fan of lost soul or not, Numero has provided both a rich history few knew existed and another seamless compilation of hidden treasures that would otherwise remain buried.
Father's Day is approaching, and there is no better way to achieve paternal remembrance better than digging into soft-rock. This is in no way designed to steal my brother's thunder, for the letter he received from Gerry Rafferty is essential reading. Yes, Mr. Rafferty was robbed, but so was Gino Vannelli's "Living Inside Myself" (pictured above), and a number of others that I learned about a few months ago over late nights with the Time-Life Classic Soft-Rock Collection infomercial (starring, btw, Air Supply). So, in tribute to Doug's masterwork here's an epilogue of forgotten soft-rock, a mini-mix (for a limited time only) that includes among other things, Benny Mardones' tribute to pedophilia, "Into the Night," which broke the top ten in both 1980 and 1989, and Boz Scagg's classic "Low Down," which should be a staple of sampling hip-hop entrepreneurs for years to come. Let me know what you think.