Cary Pratt as Prairie Cat

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.


Finally...Brazil '70

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.


The Diary of G.G. Allin >> Coming Soon

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.


Last Anthem of the Summer

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.


The Magik Markers Get Boss

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.


The Beach Shall Rise Again

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.


Live at the Piqua Heritage Festival

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.