Between here and the AR there should be much for you to chew on while I'm gone. In a few short hours I'm headed for Sao Paulo, Brazil, my second home. Hopefully I will be nowehere near a computer in the next two weeks (though I may spy in the comments here and there to see if any reader has given me tips on good record stores in the city, please?). Normal spew will resume sometime in January, and believe me, there's lots coming up. Bigger and better.
For now, please enjoy Brazil's Minister of Culture in the Anos de Rebelde...
The albums that will probably provide me with more sustenance in the future are the ones the have yet to truly reveal themselves, and as a consequence, were a bit off-setting upon first listen. A few of these are also recommendations late in the fourth quarter, and I'm unsure of the shelf-life. But usually, down the road, after multiple late night sessions and stone-soul picnics with these doozies, the real grooves eek out and layers get peeled back. So, in an effort to preserve my initial kismet with what can be considered amorphous psych -- here's a little primer on the deep jams that might one day define 2008.
Crystal Antlers - S/T EP (Touch and Go)
More than anything, the Crystal Antlers remind me of the kids back in the More Than Music Days (see Cave In, early Rapture, 90 Day Men) that were more concerned with post-punk and art-fuck, clean-living and anti-vivisection, than actually setting the stage on fire. They all possessed a heart and a passion to get cruddy and gooey in sick psych warfare, but never dosed drug number one to take them to that place. I'm not implying that it's only drugs that get you to atom heart mother, it's not, I'm just saying, Crystal Antlers found the gateway few hardcore punks ever venture through, the one that leads to this type of heavy lysergic abandon. OK. It is hard to trust anyone who's never once smoked a joint.
Alasehir - The Philosophy of Living Fire (Siltbreeze)
Speaking of dosing -- the Gibbons bros. need no introduction. Leading Bardo Pond through the ether all these years have made them a dual-headed piper to acid-freaks and heads lost in smoke for nearly two decades. In Alasehir the layers of morphined effect and endless waves get stripped to deep-grey raga-blues, repetitive wormwood fantasy, living room bong-stomp, non-frilled psych that hypnotizes without washing the soul. One of Siltbreeze's under the under-radar gems this year. Still playing.
Motorpsycho - Little Lucid Moments (Rune Grammofon)
Trondheim, Norway's finest might be one of the most underrated groups the world has ever seen with a massive discography (augmented by several double-albums, concepts, genre exercises, film scores) all of which has yet to have proper distribution in America. I would have never known about Little Lucid Moments were it not for the band's rare performance at this year's Terrastock 7 in Louisville, KY. There they basically played this epic album from beginning to end. Picking through their collection, I've always had a hard time finding a starting place for inquiring minds. Now I'm going to have to suggest this, while moving your way back in time. The average ear might pass this off as indulgent rock, nearly dinosaur in it's unabashed love of the eternal riff. It's extremely polished and journeyman, clichéd at points and put-on -- but it forms pure into an enigmatic tower of intricate beauty. It's something that needs digested in one sitting to truly absorb this record's power.
Magic Lantern - High Beams (Not Not Fun)
Like with the Shepherds, I would have never ventured back into the NNF camp without the glowing recommendation of the Moon's Dusty. The label was always intriguing, and pressed beautiful packages, but smelled more pretentious than mind-melting. Magic Lantern isn't like all the others, and compared to Shepherds they're the Ash Ra/Amon Duul side of the balance, coiling around a powerful mass of sturm und drang, and shredding within the center free of fear, but always sculpting intentionally instead of just pissing into the void like so many of their contemporaries. Somehow they've stolen the blueprints.
So....the first in the beginning of long series of Poolside...Shannon's "Let the Music Play"
Show of the Year? Close, but I’ll stick with the sticky summer triplet of V. Girls/Crystal Stilts/TNV – two of those bands were here on this night, it’s just the impending weather reports and the fact that this was a Monday knocked it down a few.
The Stilts though, are slowly winning the hearts of everyone they come in contact with. I’m a bit sick of hearing all the comparisons – Joy Division (duh), Jesus and Mary Chain (duh), the Doors (well I’d rather hear Alight the Night than most of that catalog honestly), Interpol (on the cheap). Yes, it’s obvious, it’s all there in spades, only this band stretches it into widescreen, almost meditative mantras. The basslines are tucked into the back, the guitar shimmering in shades of black, the drums simple and snappy, and those vocals – enough to scream mercy for the dourness. Yet when the noir gels, they become hypno-pop, erase the keys from the equation (which is their current form) and that rids the music of any distraction. And these guys (girl) seem to fit a niche that isn’t represented in Columbus. They could easily come from here or adapt to here and leave their Brooklyn address for good. They seem to radiate in front of Columbus crowds, even when the mope is forced through song.
Love is All, the sprightly quintet from Sweden, were perfect sandwiched between gloomy shadowplay and bouts of romantic nihilism. Don’t worry, as much as I liked them I’m not going to “overblog” them as one punter asked backstage – no need to, they spoke for themselves. One who was unfamiliar with the band’s distinctive “shit-pop” by way of any number of twee collectives (see Architecture in Helsinki, Arcade Fire, Fat Albert’s Junkyard Band) could have likely come away thinking their sound is a bit dated, played out like a late ‘90s ska band or perhaps the angular disco-punk popular less than five years ago. Yes, well, all might apply, you’d be half-right – I think it’s just the instruments they choose and the abundance of riffs they pour on that aligns them with that. What makes them a great band, on record and live, is their endless amount of energy and ambition. Few bands have that connect these days, but Love Is All looked genuinely thrilled in every one of their shows twists and turns, shifting into overdrive when the crowd allowed. Very noisy, extremely poppy and precious, eschewing anything trendy by stitching Contortions skronk to indie-rock clamor, X-Ray Spex and Archies -- dare I mention the Rapture mixed into the Sugarcubes. It may have wore a little thin towards the end, but I think that came from the crowd deflated from dancing feverishly the first 45 minutes. Come back soon.
I’ve seen a lot of TNV shows this year. A ton. More than any other band. This is their home, their turf, and it shows. Not sure if it was post-tour stress disorder or all the strangers crowding up the front, but there was a tiny disconnect from the audience. That didn’t cause the performance to be anemic though, quite the contrary. They were tight and often transcending through noise and feedback. Jared’s riffs have become even more monstrous and euphoric than ever. I don’t think the disconnect, or lack of audience back and forth was on purpose, or because the trio was lacking sleep and sustenance or care, I just think they are riding the crest of this year long wave right now and there’s nowhere farther they can take these songs until they get into a studio, rip it up, and begin again. Ears still ringing and it’s Thursday.
Actually, this isn’t too different from that awful band – a quartet circle jerking around the Ween barrel, with a hot girl on tuba (is that a gimmick?). There’s a ton of genre-hopping on Cribshitter’s debut Cry a Little Rainbow, and some of it’s digestible, like the Spanish cover of “Oh Yoko,” or the band’s attempt at cutesy electro-folk, see “Jared is Different Around Girls” and “Will You Go With Me” – but then again the album’s a marathon thirty tracks with more than enough juvenile pranks (a botched attempt at “Hotel California”) to steer away from actual talent. Perhaps I’m being too harsh, but band’s gotta’ get with it, that name’s gotta’ go. Maybe it’s the association with the name that makes the music stink so much? Worst name ever.
Arrington went on to have a modicum of success with his Hall of Fame band, and then as a solo artist in the early ‘80s before finding Jesus and giving up the ghosts for his savior. He’ll argue against this claim, but because of this his career (at least in the mainstream and the funk circles, suffered). That’s what brings us to this little oddity known as “No Reason,” Arrington’s one-off single released in 1991 for RCA. Again, thanks to scouring the Elliott Museum I dug this up. This was always one of my favorites and in recent years remained lost until a month or two ago. Believe me, I’ve tried from the beginning of Napster till now to find this digitally to no avail. There’s barely any mention of it anywhere on the nets. So if you find one on vinyl, I’ve got ten dollars right here I’ll gladly give you.
Back to the matter at hand. “No Reason” was a local hit in Dayton, especially on U92 FM, my default go-to station at the time. My only theory is that Arrington was set on resurrecting his career by cashing in on the New Jack Swing movement that Teddy Riley just began. And “No Reason” is a bumping little track, full of New Jack hallmarks – like whistles and screech beats, female back-ups, and sex talk with a voice that was made for lovin’. One of the greatest gifts of Arrington was his sultry mid-range (think Johnny Gill for reference, just heard “My, My, My” the other night) and here he’s still got it. So what became of this shoulda-been-a-hit? It don’t think it even charted outside of Montgomery County, but I’m intrigued to know if this was just the tip of Arrington’s New Jack comeback. Are there tapes lying around somewhere with more of this gold? Someone let me know. I’m waiting.
I urge you to indulge and buy one of these before they’re gone – in the meantime get trenched at the mespace link above.
Past the millenium I became obsessed with '80s music again, the sounds of a second-grade boombox and John Hughes films no doubt. I discovered Pelican West, by Heyward's claim to fame, Haricut 100. If you go back you'll love it, even beyond "Love Plus On." (Seriously, go back and listen). A shame a band like Vampire Weekend get compared to them, because this album is kind of brilliant and disposable all at once. VW should be grateful.
And now, the album above has logged a lot of time on the turntable upon finding it. North of a Miracle was released as Heyward's first solo album, at the same time that Pelican West was climbing up the charts. Heyward left the band before that record was even released, opting for adulthood early. North of a Miracle is a fairly hushed affair, full of lush arrangements and almost jazzy smoothness, but never lacking in pop sensibility, fans of Prefab Sprout should attend. "Whistle Down the Wind" will have you wishing for 120 Minutes again, or at least that episode of Top of the Pops.
“There’s only two types of people in this world/Those that entertain and those that observe” and Britney Spears is a “put-on-a-show kind of girl.” That might be the only proverb Brit has learned in a decade long career. Still as vapid as a career that has become, whatever handlers handle her and producers that produce her, don’t allow her music to become as prosaic as she contends her life is these days (yeah I sat through For the Record). So Circus is the comeback? And unfortunately, last year’s Blackout, the pre-fab pop album of 2007 by default, suffered in popularity maybe because the world was more interested in Britney’s descent into the maelstrom of her personal hurricane. Circus is certainly not as stacked as Blackout, beginning with the insta-single “Womanizer” which is a veritable dentist drill of catch-phrase and quickly following that up with the title track, the “theme” or artist’s “intent” herein – “Hey, my life is a circus and I’m the ringleader” – it’s filed with dancefloor filler, but as a document of her coming clean, her Motley Crue confessional, it’s pretty infectious and hard to put down.
Those handlers haven’t abandoned the fact that Britney mouthing “baby” in an nth number of variations is paramount to her success (from “Baby One More Time” to a song about her kids here, “My Baby”), the key is what wraps around those coos. Of course having Timbaland’s protégée Danja will create some disposable sexxxy-back Timberlake-counter (“Kill the Lights”) and the indispensible Swede Max Martin waves Top 40 with his fingertips on the ode to (sic?) Amy Winehouse, “If U Seek Amy,” but the real treat comes with her tell-all chutzpah and the tracks that accent it with unlikely sources.
“Unusual You” would suggest that Brit has been listening to the Knife and Roisin Murphy (she probably thought this template was “hella cool” before the recording), it’s a mid-tempo disco ballad drenched in neon strings and micro-house beats. Likewise, “Blur” and “Amnesia” are absolutely stunning, kind of beating Christina Aguilera to the punch of pop queens finally succumbing to Talk Talk and Portishead backdrops. Throughout she drops little lines like “smoking up outside” or “doing him for seven years” then talking about forgetting her address or “f’ing” till dawn (yeah, no fucks yet). Overall she appears to be clear-minded about her chaos six months ago.
Maybe rehab does wonders, maybe the music she had dropped in her lap made her realize she’s got enough money to blind the public with the cream of the pop-candy crop, when her younger peers (It’s Miley) pull in the lucrative Wal-Mart booty now? Circus is certainly not a perfect record (Blackout was eerily close), but at least it’s current, tasteful, and unforgiving.
Indicative of Cincy's long racial divide, it's no surprise though that civic leaders have left the base of the groundbreaking record label and it's memory a boarded-up eyesore in a depressed part of town and an anecdote of unspoken folklore in the city's history. Little did I know King launched the careers of James Brown, Hank Ballard, Bootsy Collins, and are credited with a number of hit "hillbilly" '78s. Most of the music they released in the early '50s is commonly referred to as proto-rock (primitive futures?). Surely there's a basement in the Queen city full of this stuff (crate heaven?). Of course that's not my intention in the present. Just knowing the building is finally becoming a landmark and getting a face-lift is an improvement. Now maybe a symposium (could be in tandem with an inevitable Bubblegum retrospective), some stacked reissues, a tourist trap? I encourage any readers here to recommend any compilations that are known and any other research on the subject. I'm knee deep in Dayton these days.
Rapper MC Breed, who became famous for his sing-along collaboration with Tupac, “Gotta Get Mine” and "Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin,’” has died today [November 22]. He was 36.
Born Eric Breed, the Flint, Michigan rapper was found dead at a friend’s house in Ypsilanti Michigan, the Detroit News reports. His manager, Darryl Morris, confirmed his death, but the exact cause is still pending.
In September, Breed collapsed while playing basketball in his stomping ground of Atlanta, and was placed on life support for kidney failure. Friends got together to throw a benefit concert to raise money for his medical bills, but cancelled plans after his health bounced back.
Never fully reaching mainstream status, Breed rhymed proudly about the desolate town of Flint, an urban area usually masked under the wide belly of Detroit. His hit 1991 song, "Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin’” sampled Zapp’s "More Bounce to the Ounce" and the Ohio Players’ "Funky Worm.” On “Gotta Get Mine” off his 1993 album The New Breed, he hooked up with a young, thirsty Tupac, and spit the famous line, “They hate to see a young nigga, come up.”
Breed’s career spans 20-years, and 13 albums.
It was Silk Flowers that began the evening. I thought at first this was a light-hearted take on Black Dice with three dudes doing playful things with synths and drum machines, in a semi-circle, surrounded by (sic) silk flowers. There was plenty of day-glo and neon and the type of color and tropical robotics I associate with the Smell --- but none of that came out of the wallpaper this band was slopping up the wall. The “main” dude couldn’t even keep a beat among all the knob-twiddle and goofy dancing.
Even worse was Soft Circle. I’ve liked the songs I’ve heard from this one-man band, pseudo-meditative psych loops and gamelan gong fun, but on stage he reeked of the indie-equivalent to Keller Williams – playing a little line here, then looping it, another one on the keyboard, then looping it, another guitar, then looping it, an annoying little chant, then looping it, then letting it boil before exploding on the drums for another six minutes. Predictable art-wankery – if this guy takes himself seriously, like so many in the crowd did, he’s probably the product of parents who actually like the music he makes. Which we all know is the opposite of what constitutes good music. That’s about the time we left.
The only highlight of the night was smoking till my eyes turned purple and exploring Not Al’s II – a bar on High Street I’ve never set foot in during the 13 years I’ve lived here. It’s a hole, but with no one around, a quaint, quiet, almost charming little hole. Too bad the Wex doesn’t have a watering hole to crawl into during such catastrophe. Even if the lack of great support has taken the No Age down a notch (just not buying the Smell as revolution kick) – I’m sure they’ll last long enough to get a chance to see them again. Again guys, so sorry.
At first it was unknown if the band from Mexico would even show up as they had two options after their show in Philadelphia – either head to Columbus on a Sunday night to face who knows how many people, or simply finish the tour and head South with a belly full of whatever pickled gizzards and cave-aged gouda Woodbe chucked down their gullets, and probably a van full of obscure vinyl to start spinning once they got home. Around 10 it was looking pretty grim. Not a soul in the bar and no sign of Sagan and the crew. Matt Horseshit was getting prickly, worried, and unsure of himself as always. They’d show – it was in the cards.
To suffice Fey Gods stood to obliterate. Nick and Lula must be swimming in material, as now, with the FG they have created another outlet from which to slobber and moan, growl and throb. Fey Gods is more the electronic grinding/gruesome doppelganger, Suicide and Monster Truck Five colliding in the dive bar atmosphere. Soiuxsie minus the Banshees wailing along with the rhythmic choogle of motorik grunge. Since I’ve been wearing the grooves thin on the Grave Blankets “Our Love is Real” it’s getting hard to remember just exactly the difference, I love ‘em both. Fey Gods are more seductively brutal and hypnotic in tenacity. Be on the lookout for more tapes n’ shows – they’ve got a double-edged front from which to work with, and I’m tempted to say it will be the Fey Gods that end up with the long-player first.
If I were to say that the Psychedelic Horseshit set was one of their best, with Sugar Bear on bass, then I’d be one-upping my other claims as of late. Well it was, and as the new songs get polished and solid than it can only get better. Word is they’re looking to add players – and I like my bro’s comparison to the Rolling Thunder-type configuration they were working with over the summer. So here’s hoping to full-band chaos soon.
Finally – the Los Llamarada did arrive, tired and confused, happy to be headed back home with one last celebration/exorcism to perform. I’m not sure if they’ve yet become accustomed to demanding their pittance of beer from bars yet (they did claim to learn trade secrets from Hank IV) cause they asked very kindly if I’d get them some, and I happily obliged because I knew what they would give in return was worth my time and money. After a few “jazz cigarettes” courtesy of the freak LL fan who followed them to three shows using only the Megabus and a folding bike (Indianapolis natives are strange humans) I was well-primed for face melting and brain re-circuitry. I suppose you could now call their stage show “seasoned” as they’ve endured life on the road, with a set night after night. They blasted right into something somewhat familiar from their latest Take the Sky. Sagan was gurgling numbers, reaching within himself to and refracted that imploding energy towards the sizable crowd (for a Sunday). Estrella was pounding on keys with her head buried in her arms, never for a second looking at the notes or the people surrounding her. Mr. Noise knew repetition was paramount, his blunt chaotic repetition held it all together. At that end there was a lengthy “song” which was equivalent to Johnny tuning, long and drowning, but it worked – via feedback scratching at the walls. When I say face melting, that’s only figuratively, but that’s kind of what it feels like. Straining to understand and eventually giving way to the primitive form is a conflict that makes for confusion, sweat, briefs moments of unconsciousness and lack of oxygen. The room shrinks around them. Really, it does.
They’ve certainly got hours of practice under their belts, because once they switched – Sagan to synths, Estrella to the fore – things got incredibly punk. Actual anthems (like “Nobody Calls Me”) had semblance to choruses, albeit with Sagan convulsing in little patterns over his console. They were nothing short of liberating. Good thing Columbus put on notice, if only for this night, from what might just be the greatest live band on the planet right now. Tapes will be made once Horseshit and I get our audios together. Vinyl was selling like wildfires, so one of your friends can probably clue you in on this before it’s too late. Will it ever be too late? Hope not.
For now, here is a live performance they did for Brian Turner's show on WFMU. It's great.
Honestly, I'm all for the simple pleasures in life. Good coffee after work, a cigarette, a nice breeze, some Quiet Storm on the radio. Little Joy seem to search for that same simplicity. I really can't stop listening to this one, though I know it's too simple to treat as something I'll be touting years down the road. Still, it's as if the Strokes, soon after that Room on Fire peak, took the time off to chill in the suns of Brazil, enjoying those simplicities I just talked about. This is the Strokes inviting Gal Costa in for a take on smooth as coconut milk pop and bossa nova. And that I'm travelling down there very very soon, I can't think of how this one will get off the turntable for a while.
Thankfully we have Madison, Wisconsin to save us from old age. Those kids up there have not failed me yet and seem to exist in some ice cavern where oblique ideas and pristine arrangements co-exist with scruffy recordings and catchy songwriting, eternal youth – just aging in mind. Case in point is Pawn Shop Etiquette, the second record from Madison’s National Beekeeper’s Society. No offense to the latest from Pale Young Gentleman, it’s just that they seem to be aging as well, and faster than normal, it’s not bad, but I’m not seeing much progression there.
Pawn Shop Etiquette though, would fit nicely in 1998, with progression through regression, or at least remembrance – as they possess the nearly-patented Britt Daniel matter-of-factual wordplay. The shuck and jive, incomplete sentences, perfect pauses -- a post-collegiate wit beyond their years – it all appears to be here.
A handful of songs could be plucked right from Series of Sneaks, except NBS add horns and dusty loner guitar waft and their itchy attitudes towards fashion remind a bit of Trunk Federation, only on snow instead of sand. Maybe Pavement dotting the landscape with tiny guitar scrawls and twisted melody. There’s definitely some experiment going on, they’d just be pretentious to let the listener know. As a result, a song like “Lazy” packs it’s grandiosity in the last 30 seconds, kind of like thrifting and then pulling out a $100 dollar bill. Other highlights include “Sixty-Five” and “Suburbanite,” the latter cuddled by that lip of twang I referred to earlier, at least until it blossoms into a slouchy anthem of desperation. Madison does it again, and Pawn Shop Etiquette might just be the best of the bunch.
First, because this was one of my first purchases at the now legendary Headquarters, and there would be many more where that came from (still can’t find my long-sleeved Cannibal Corpse shirt). Funny though because I travelled all that way to buy a $13 cassette, only to drag it home and find the recording on the tape not Cancer, it was an early Dead Milkmen album. Even funnier because I dragged the tape all the way back to the store and got both a working Cancer cassette and Dead Milkmen’s Big Lizard in My Backyard, quite a clash of aesthetes.
Over the last few autumnal metal feasts I’ve participated in, I think I’ve drunk the death well dry – I’ve still got the go-to albums from Deicide, Obituary, and Sepultura, but there’s not much else in the vault that needs recovering. That is until I found Cancer again. They were a British trio that vanguished in obscurity until they decided to travel to the death-metal epicenter of Tampa, Florida to record their second album. It was there that they stumbled into a convergence of powers unlike any other in the death-metal cannon. Death Shall Rise was recorded at the world-famous Morrisound Studios and the production and engineering was helmed by equally legendary Scott Burns (his track record is proven). In America they recruited virtuoso James Murphy (Death, Obituary) as their lead guitarist. All the symbols of evil aligned to create one of the bleakest and loud metal albums of the era. To top it off, the single,"Hung, Drawn, and Quartered" is complete with background vocals by none other than Glen Benton of Deicide. Something you'll notice about the song is the melodic underbelly that wants to escape from the group's cadence but is held under in squeal and thunder. Cancer also had a knack for simple yet effective song titles, "Tasteless Incest," "Burning Casket," and my personal favorite "Corpse Fire." Coupled with the swarming guitar churn, the imagery they evoke this time of year is immpeccable. It's not all glorious as the first track, but it maintains the punishment long enough to keep this in the classix pile.
The local "live" critic (with whom I agree more than not) mistakenly stated that Gwar, in the fifteen years I've seen them at the Newport, have never gathered a crowd larger than the floor's churning slavepit. FALSE. My first experience with Gwar, the 1991 America Must Be Destroyed tour, for which I had to sneak out from Troy to Columbus, I vividly remember catching blood from the balcony. Since then, yes, the crowds have thinned, but the cartoonish gore and brutal social criticism remains intact. This year would be my tenth Gwar show (a stat I'm not sure if I should be proud of) and I've never been disappointed. Granted, I haven't bought a Gwar record since This Toilet Earth (save their early '90s peak, the show has always eclipsed the music) but I have rarely passed up an opportunity to be apart of the carnal atmosphere they bring to town -- gathering up the scum of civilization, in the crisp autumn air, pulling out all the stops to make sure everyone gets soaked. I'm sure there's a crossover with the Juggalos, though I'd like to think Gwar fans have a leg up in intelligence, possessing a refined absurd wit and allergies to Faygo. Who knows? At least Gwar now how to pepper their set with the classics and they've never resorted to rap(e)-rock.
Now in 2008, does the show still hold up? Of course. I was a bit skeptical that Gwar has devolved into forming a pro-wrestling motif for the Electile Dysfunction tour, but it was for a good cause. Never one to shy from politics, Gwar brought out the candidates (must have planned it before Sarah Palin, cause she was spared desecration) to battle for supremacy. Duly noted, Barack Obama was slaughtered but rushed off stage before drained completely (I guess that's Gwar's way of saying they do have preference). Meanwhile Hilary Clinton's tits were stripped to squirt cold blood about 40 feet from the stage, and John McCain was ripped clean apart (see below).
This was the maiden voyage for my wife and bro's girl -- so it was a special occasion. We were all dirty beyond self-respect by the end. They played "Ham on the Bone" and "Maggots," so all was well. This might actually turn into a family affair one day. As I saw one dad graciously hold his boy on his shoulders to catch more blood than we were allowed, I thought that my future child, will get the benefits Gwar provide that my parents forbid. And surely Gwar will last beyond the grave.
It was Gareth who designed this whole tour -- the Shred Yr Face tour. And it was Drowned in Sound who sponsored it. In England they try really hard to make a big deal out of such things, with in-stores in every city, blogs and diaries, even a worthy souveneir to remember it by -- in the form of a three-headed 7" on which TNV do a boombox version of the Clean's "Anything Can Happen."
Check out the blog for various videos and interviews with your three favorite bands of right now. It all might be a bit too cute, but a jaunt through the site is time well spent and the memories and friendships made will probably compose a new Los Campesinos album by the end of the year.
Check Gareth singing "Pagan Eyes" with the kids...
Long story short – I’m prone to reading the Dusted everyday, ‘cause they do a good job explaining jazz and avant-composition to me in a way Wire (the magazine) can’t. Every Friday they have my favorite column, Listed, where it’s usually some unknown up-n’-comers listing what makes them happy. Two weeks ago the guest was some white rapper from Indy, whose name I forget, but he kept talking about listening to records on 45 even when it didn’t call for it. The one he couldn’t get off his turntable was Marmoset’s Record in Red, because it was so fucking good on 45. I tried it out first thing, and now I may not ever listen it to it at normal speed again. He was absolutely correct. This is poppier and brighter than some amazing lost Kinks record found between Face to Face and Village Green – I’m not kidding. How did this guy discover such a treat?
I’m really starting to feel sorry for the poor saps who claim to be a part of our music landscape but fail to ever get out and take advantage of some of the city’s finest natural resources (that said, I'm guilty for not getting out enough). Matt Horseshit, in any configuration, most of the time with Richie, is perhaps this town’s greatest songwriter, really, he is -- the band you wish had a residency at the Summit. I think I’ve said that before, if so, I’ll probably say that again. He’s so concerned with putting on a good show, one that is completely different from the last. Perhaps that why he’s rattled and roughed-up a handful of bass players – every night he’s entering the club with the anxiety of running on half a tank, pondering how to captivate with a quick set of new songs, written that day, to be “formed” by any means necessary. Granted, dealing with the spontaneity of the songs can be a challenge. If you want to play bass with them, one can dream. As long as you “feel the flow” of what his colorful spew is "getting at" on any particular night, whatever atonal skronk you churn out is going to fit right in.
This night – 10.16.08 – he played by his lonesome, something I would later try to convince him to do for the entire tour. No dice. But I think many times this is the best, purest setting in which to experience his cracked whimsy. I’m rambling, but so is he, equipped with only a sampler and a guitar he is free to span his skull for the melodies and abstracts, piecing together deeply personal jams in his own space. Times are tough, only ten people there (including headliners, who?) made it tougher, depressing as fuck in moments (especially the “Borrowed Time” cover to close it), but this brief display was rich and textured and quite possibly the quietest I’ve ever seen the guy. Though I love the full band, losing their shit in a tangle of cords and keys, here under the spotlight, on his knees, under-drank clarity abound, he also tends to shine.
Still, when you first hear “Prizefighter,” you’re going to shake your head in a chuckle, is this the same band? Thankfully no, they are obviously doing more good drugs, have Oneida’s Kid Millions behind the controls, and are searching for an motley tribalism far removed from sweet emissions of C86. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve continued to be smitten with the V. Girls -- it’s just that Golden Triangle leave a lot for the imagination to chew on.
You can’t remake Tago Mago, but you can always come damn close. Still Ziant, or now Kodac, existed in drone, a direct opposition to rock, the guitar, and the roommate’s credo. Ducking downstairs to complete a drone was probably necessity at some point. Ziant drowned himself in industrial-grade drone – either whipping copper against the wall for hours on end or pressing pedals and reverb into long, meditative cycles.
Jaw is now agape. Kodac’s Tibet Tapes One is a showdown on the border between the grass and the pavement. In both arenas, this one-man show is in complete control over his environment. Man vs. Nature vs. Mechanics vs. Himself? The drones still win out, but they are nuanced, organic, Oval on blast (I’ve been listening to a lot of Oval again) void of technicality or process. Perfect titles set the mood for songs like “Aderol Horn” and “Artnam” – but the CAN wins out, the Silver Apples win out, Wire wins out. He’s flipping over steel trashcans and pounding away, creating loops with feedback and demon beats with a metal heart. Try not to get wrecked on the tribal “Watch Remain,” where people say “they found a way through the maze” with the “sand in their veins.” Ziant’s love for visceral chaos and slanted punk can be found in “New Crooks Same Hooks.” That’s just the sub-material in my mind, the Tibet Tapes One squeaks in anthem freak-folk with “Richard Brautigan Drawing a Flower” (veers on hippie jam) and the enthusiastic Pink Flag update, synth-doused speed-fever of “Rough Parade.” Press this immediately. Beg for one of these, it’s that essential.
In a word, Lindsey Buckingham’s latest solo album Gift of Screws is ridiculous. While such adjectives are not a stretch considering his former band was the symbol of 70’s excess, his post-Mac work has been spotty and subdued. Gift of Screws makes up for a reclusive career with a sonic triumph as the album is a relentless barrage of quadraphonic studio tricks and Buckingham’s signature guitar mazes.
I’ve never witnessed perhaps my all-time favourite classic rock band in the flesh, nor have I seen Buckingham dazzle with one of his solo tour stops, so it was necessary to pack up the Herrmann and myself, and then head to Cleveland’s House of Blues for what was sure to be a magical evening. It takes a lot to get me to head to my least favourite city in America – so Mr. Buckingham consider yourself very special.
This particular venue was compact and inviting, almost like the Disney equivalent to a rock show. Outsider art cluttered the walls of the club, a low balcony floated directly over the stage, instructions on appropriate concert behavior were broadcast like before a theme-park ride bilingually. All of that sterility need not apply because Lindsey Buckingham is a family man and his show was wholesome entertainment anyone could enjoy.
As for giving up the hits he didn’t disappoint in either respect, pulling from everything from the first Fleetwood Mac album that bore his name (“Second Hand News”) to the stunning abstracts (“Time Precious Time” is his thirteen-fingered meditation on a Panda Bear drugging) and shimmering pop (“Did You Miss Me” is a hit in any universe) of Gift of Screws – you didn’t have to yell out "Tusk", caused he played it second. I suppose the biggest surprise was just how talented this man is in person, picking through the intricacies of his songs with his bare digits at lightning speeds. The opening number of the night and of the album “Great Day” may be somewhat generic in it’s intent, but it's built with shrift Buckingham solos packed between oddball vocal treatments and layered percussions.
Live it wasn’t any different, all these oft-overlooked idiosyncrasies that have made him a musical genius are put on display with nary a nod towards religious enlightenment or transcendental meditation or the clean-n’-sober sob stories. All that struggle-n’-strife could be told in his back-story for the rousing “Big Love” which he played by himself with zero convictions. Still, the reason I love the man and always will, is because of the perfection found in Rumour’s “Never Going Back Again” and guess what, he played that too. This fan almost cried at this moment. It was executed with the hushed intimacy he may reserve for a campfire, marked with just enough variation to show this was one of his favourites. In a word? Ridiculous.
That said. I've heard this. In fact I've heard them all in succession barring the final "bonus" song. And this is the bittersweet denouement of the series. "No Time" is the NZ scruff-pop being played from the toy aisle in a Memphis Dollar General, nylon strings and GBV fruit-loops only with a few more tracks than 4 -- dusty but clear headed, tired but ready to tackle what lies ahead. "You Were Sleeping" is again, a b-side superior, Jay's goodbye for now, a lullaby with whispered harmonies and atmosphere meted over what might be bongo-fueled campfire folk were it in the company of wolves. He's starting to show that he's just a wide-eyed kid with melodies overflowing in golden hues -- not the crust-punk he plays on TV. Maybe it took money and love and tours around the globe to pry that side out, because I'm assuming it's always been there just waiting to weep and smile. Can't wait to see how soft he can actually get, this is cream-puff but certainly not as sincere as he might be when he notices his first gray hair.
That was Little Claw first. And it may have been drunkenness, but they sorta resembled some MBV JAMC hybrid headed monster. Not the skeletal spoke-punk I expected, instead a fully engaging experience. This was my first experience with Little Claw and I couldn't have been more enthused by what they were doing -- a constant hummmmmm that blocked any sense of reality around me. Enraptured, encompassed, encapsulated in their full-band drone.
But...But...they are rookies to Portland (PDX) and Eat Skull seemed poised to make the Carabar seem like the raining, green-vomit, clime they come from. There was nothing organized or structured about their set -- they're set in their ways, to pummel with songs already recorded -- "Seeing Things," "I Licked the Spider," "Shredders on Fry" -- and crushing with a sound that no one has yet to hear. Those might be considered a stoner-metal pastiche that caters to Rob's organ-molded mind and between song mumbles. Even if it's traipsing through a decade or two of indie-rick'n'roll, they can easily hide aping. This ain't aping, there's a vision, they'd just rather rock than focus in on the nuances. Kooky and strange, they walk a line that verges on the comedic in their....uh....obvious aping, but redeem themselves in every hook and sweat-filled enthusiasm.
Yeah....at this point you can actually hear my drunkeness....and the quality is bad, but this song could transmit perfectly between two tin cans....
I feel obliged to mention the Horseshit in this post, only because this is a new era. Jared Phillips was on the bass. And I can't stress enough how this was the most focused and succinct Horseshit show I've ever seen. Why didn't I tape this?
I guess this episode of South Park was spot-on.
What you see above is Tuesday night, a true 48 hours after the power was gone. Time to rid the fridge, meat was Monday. Cheese was next. Here's our recipe for some damn good Amish Queso Dip:
Half Block of Dutch Smoke Gouda
Half Block of Grass-Fed New Zealand Extra Sharp Cheddar
Full Block of Wisconsin Sharp Cheedar
3 Slices of Colby-Jack
3 Slices of Swiss
2 Slice of Kraft American Cheese for good Measure
3 Fresh Garden Jalepenos (from the Elliott-Zagatto Garden)
2 Cans of Cuban Style Black Beans
Grill with gas heat until cheese resembles a dip, and cans of beans start boiling.
Serve with lime, fresh tomatoes, and blue-corn tortilla chips.
I bought a house.
“Three Sixteen is an early recording with one of the very original Pink Reason lineups. Shaun Failure played drums. Tim Triplett on the bass. I played amplified twelve-string acoustic. HFK. Hatefuck Crew. Zone 13 Rejects. Hatefuck. Pink Reason. Desperate Living. All the same, but all different in their own way. This song was recorded in the kitchen of a dope farm in remote Northern Wisconsin. During the recording my roommate “Dirtball” went missing and was assumed to be dead, so the police stopped by. We literally grabbed the cassette out of the 4-track, ran out the door, hopped in the car and were out the driveway before the police could say anything to us. There was probably twenty grand worth of dope in the basement and shotguns hidden beneath our pillows.
Thanks to this interruption the vocals were recorded in Tim’s closet in Green Bay. Shortly after his housemate drove himself into the woods and shot himself in the face. The police again showed up to ask questions. It was a strange and gloomy time.
Sweet Sinister was an ode to a particular substance that helped keep us awake through these rough times. It was recorded in Shaun’s bedroom at an apartment we shared with our friend C. “Reich” who played the handclaps on the recording. “Reich” was a convicted domestic terrorist and a neo-nazi, but most importantly, our friend. 3-D “David Lee Fuckin” Ralph Puke also clapped his hands and provided “ahhhs.” He was the “singer” for a while in Zone 13 Rejects. We asked him to “sing” because he could puke on command. This song has the distinction of being the only Pink Reason song not written by me. I came up with the words, but Shaun wrote the music himself. We were all tight up on speed and slamming Jagermeister and cheap beer (Meister Brau? Mister Beer?). I played bass guitar and sang falsetto. It seemed to make sense at the time. “
Only a few know if this is truth, but all the talk of shotguns, domestic terrorists, and dope farm leads me to believe remote Northern Wisconsin is the wild west or at least Baghdad of the 90’s. All this just reminds me of Jim Shepard’s equally blunt literature. Even if it is fiction, even in the slightest, you sit here and believe it to be true. Dude, write a book.
Pretty thrilling when that single arrives in the mail, especially when it’s the first one from the revamped – and fabled – “singles club” version 3.0. Too bad they had to start the proceedings with OM. Not that I’m not a fan, only slightly, but they just don’t seem apropos for kicking off what could be the smartest move the label’s made in years (besides signing Fleet Foxes). For anyone that’s familiar, they’re the discerning splinters of Sleep – the hard to digest stoner doom lords that once made a 90-minute masterpiece (Jerusalem) with one monolithic riff. This duo, who I think have a new drummer, is capable of the same lethargic/transcendent haziness, but across seven measly minutes they barely get off the ground. I nearly fell asleep during side one – a meandering bass line that is equivalent to a teenage doper crawling along with a Geezer Butler instructional tape, while his best friend spent way to much money at Drum Circle for a kit whose pieces he’ll hardly use past the ride cymbal and the floor tom – okay, I’m exaggerating. OM are obviously studied sturm n’ drangers, as they do create an atmosphere, just not one that creates awe.
Only on side two does it get interesting, and that’s in the last 30 seconds. The first three minutes of this flip is exactly the same song, just different – the more reverbed and flanged version. There is a fireworks finale, when the guitars finally warm up and the melodica gets pulled into the magnetic black hole the duo has stirred for the entirety. But then, it duds. The End.
Of course the title “Gerbel Barkal” is in reference to the sacred mountain of Northern Sudan – imagined by the ancient Egyptians as the birthplace of Amon and the rest of his gods. And this exercise is a bit of a prayer and filled with the energy that might come with spiritual beginnings. So this could essentially be a cleansing for Sub Pop – they promised OM the glory that comes with being the first and these two mystery men banged the gong, ditched the medicine bowls, and zoned on bass and drum for the length of a seven inch. Non-instant karma. Sub Pop’s still got eleven months to go.
...Nu Shooz for a day, playing Mega Man (that might actually postscript this music), hanging out with Parker Lewis (that might postscript it too). ahem. Regardless, I spent a large chunk of my youth lusting to be in the same Saturday School as Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. I often fantasized as an 10-yr.-old that Troy High School would be like that fictional Illinois high school as I threw shows in the dark during "Idiotic" with Justin Smith, and the bros, in the Wrestling room (padded from floor to ceiling). We would raid the poor saps who left their lockers unlocked on a Sunday afternoon while the dads played basketball in the best gym in the city.
Futurecop (best myspace ever) is probably one popular guy in England who can conjure these memories for anyone who gets goosebumps during particular scenes in the Karate Kid or even Superfuzz. He pays homage not to the Huey Lewis' and Wang Chungs' of the era, but the techy geeks who scored the films like Transformers: The Movie and Critters and War Games. The background music, the oddball ephemera playing on a boombox or a Wallman or a 3-inch color TV in the kitchen. My wife knows the rap from Revenge of the Nerds: II. I know too much about Jan Hammer and theme-song wizards like Max Tepper Sr.
At first I thought this was most definitely Gil Mantera without the party dream, as I'd like to attribute this whole blantant revival of our first digital pop playground to that duo. This isn't so much 8-bit, chiptune, but full-fledged fleshing out of 80's plasticity and gaudiness, toned for Spring Break and buffed for Prom.
I would post a track, but he's asked to hold off till the official release of his first EP. Till then, I urge a trip to the myspaces.
Number five then, is the redeemer. As a whole it the finest since the first, and the a-side "Trapped Here" is his first watershed moment as a solo artist. In a recent interview (found on the Matablog) he claims it took him ten years to conquer punk, and it will only take him a few months to conquer indie rock. In contrast, an inside source reports Jay's been releasing lesser material as the singles get smaller. "Trapped Here" begs to differ, as it's the most realized song Mr. Lindsey has written. If he conquers indie rock he can potentially do it in three minutes. The song is catchy and sharp as all the recent Reatard hits (has surpassed former favorite "An Ugly Death") but wrapped and creased in a disorienting haze of cave-pop, reverb and endless bliss, shambollic on every beat. The blistering end comes like a Beijing grand finale of distorted fireworks, building up a metropolis in a few short measures (there's a new Mogwai album coming out?).
That's not even touching the b-side, in which Jay returns to stripped punk. "Hiding Hole" a bit more 50's herky-jerky bop and "DOA" self-explanatory swift-boat of snot, cleaned up remeniscience of the first band to bear his name. Let's say now that Number Six just might explode in one's hands. In that same interview, the band says more than once, conquering metal is next.
We were certainly obliged to hear the latest from the Moon and Badtimes, then and now shortened to Moons! (good reduction). White is basically Moons! Who knows how many others played here, 1-2 maybe, so you've got to imagine multiple versions of the lanky, skywalker, playing drums, guitar, basslines, and keys, to fully ingest this limited release EP (mines 11 of 50). There's a new touring band every week.....(???)...
You could compare it to the act of boiling water. Mundane analogy, sure. But I'm thinking of it as heat energy, cosmic awareness. Moons! and the man (I'm referring to Mr. White) can't be pressured, if you stare into the aqua nothing will happen, if you're expecting a full-length tomorrow don't bother. You must step away from the pot and just let thangs happen as they will. Naturally. Eventually you'll get what you want. Maybe that's why this review took so long. Things this grand take time.
White swims liberally in Topographic Oceans on this first recorded introduction. Though I know the guy is always down for a discussion on direct-to-vein psychedelic immersion (we go on for hours about indulgent kraut), he's more likely to let his flavors stew for minutes before getting under the skin. White is somewhat fanatical, meticulous, and introverted (to his studio lair) -- then again, "Carousel to Rebirth" gets the tape going on overdrive right from the first note with a thick haze of reverb and smoke before entering those Wakeman arpeggios he's so fond of. Anyone with the slightest interest in the Yes keyboardist's fluid excursions will find plenty to chew on here. The synths are pristine and cosmic, exploring space from a Columbus' backyard yearning to travel if only to get closer to closest dwarf star.
Moons! is of the mind-set that everything has it's place, every little melodic strain of mellotron must be put back where it belongs, there is a constant order and White is simply orbiting it all, sucking it up with magnetic force. "Pyramids are Forever" is that universal perfection -- Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra -- for now belying the ultimate heaviness that is sure to (soon?) follow in the fourth part of some nine-part suite for the "album" already mapped out in his infinite wisdom. Still, let's not call this an EP, it's epic in its four songs, it's epic in just this song. If you see the guy on the street you might want to coax him back into the lab -- there's a classic afoot.
Moons! - "Pyramids are Forever"
Anyways -- here's what's fascinated me the most -- those follow-up singles that have had zero lasting impact, but upon re-visiting them -- glints form in the eye's, tears might actually well-up, but for the most part, rememberance connects to some part of the past (and that moment is re-lived in the mind, like it or not). These were released to the wilds of pop radio, but failed to chart past a week or two. Let's not get too heavy, cause the subjects here were ladybug hucksters, purely not-worthy, both formed in Canada (but still possessing that one hit that keeps them around the history books). I suppose this challenge is more or less judging the shelf-life of 80's one-hits with their marginal second singles. Can you even tell these two apart?
Episode One: Cutting Crew vs. Glass Tiger
Cutting Crew - "Been in Love Before"
Glass Tiger - "Someday"
Yes, it wasn't exactly last night, but it was last night, last week and unfortunately/fortunately (remember that book?) Psychedelic Horseshit played around 10:30. Fortunately I've been following them around like the Dead this summer, gobbling up each different configuration on a tinny, digital recorder. So far (save the Wright in Detroit that I missed) this night, with the mono-nomed "Michael" from New Zealand on bass, things were simplified and rich. For those new songs, a kowtow bassline is inherent, if only to provide a backbone to whatever Matt Horseshit has up his sleeve. Beach Boys and Billy Idol. Bobby Dylan and Suicide -- even when it's overload, saturated, and repugnant, the song oozes out. And goodness that ooze get's easier to chug each time.
The out-of-towners were equally triumphant granted it was a Monday night in Columbus, OH. Even if Crystal Stilts get slagged for their forced disconnect and aloof posturing, I thought their purpose in life was to bring it freezer-cold and correct. Which, though a bit tiresome at first, built into a blissful experience. Cymbal-less and non-emotive, the Stilts maintained a constant chill that lent the songs their steely melodies.
Maybe that was a in-the-van on-the-road pre-conceived contrast to the Vivian Girls rambunctious set. Despite any venue lending them the benefit of infinite reverb, the walls of Boo-Boo were enough to echo the echo. The trio seemed genuinely psyched to have kids taunting them, circling the front of the stage, and fisting the air. The Vivian's oft-harmonies balance the oft-rhythms that make-up their pretty punk-fumed world. There were tons of "yeah-yeahs," "oh-ohs," and beer swigs to keep them in the boyz club, and even more dreamy choruses to sing along with in the night's whisky humidity.
Headliners are headliners, and Times New Viking are headliners. The kids played over-long, but managed to blister through an EP's worth of next-step new tracks. They've always been of the mind-set of leave tehm wanting more, and still, we wanted more, but we wanted every bent neu-note Phillips could muster. The road has sharpened them to a lethal tip, and in a perfect world they would have played (KBD covers) all night when they run out of material.
This first photo shows Tee in a confident swagger with his sawed-off though all he's bound to do is kill the bottle of rum - no dead homies upon this backyard. In typical South Central fashion, at least for the time being, Tee is light-hearted (with plenty of comedy skits about mommas and getting too drunk), boasting about his DJ (deejay Pooh, who went onto g-funk fame), and at the precipice of violent revenge only if you can out battle him. His best weapon is his cadence, certainly not the breaks (that said, the duo was the first to sample a generation of recycled samples) -- here Tee shows exactly why he is quoted as wanting to be a East Coast rapper on the West Coast. There's a grunting eloquence and strident head-bop to Act a Fool's lyrical flow, a broken edge that follows the scratched-in corners more than a full-room. In other words, a get-in-your-face braggadocio with an boomerang voice.
King Tee was an outsider, maybe too clownin' drunk. The last legitimate time we've heard from him was Chronic 2001. There might just be a comeback on Detox, because Tee has always had the backs of those who came after him, and always been, at the very least, a shout-out away. Dumb and minimal, diluted ganster-rap before it's fermentation, Act a Fool has lingering charm -- even if his best single, "Bass" (let us not forget "Ruff Rhymes" from At Your Own Risk) is here given the remix treatment.
King Tee - "Bass (Original Mix)"
Oh I forgot...King Tee also did one of those awesome/controversial St. Ides commercials.
Class of Nuke 'Em High Trailer y'all. The mid-80's Troma output was simply pure nihilism, you never really had a good feeling after watching one of these, like you were doing something horrible to humanity with your night. This one tends to be the one where I get the ickiest feeling of them all -- totally had nightmares about the imfamous "belly scene."
Am I regressing because I want to see all of these AGAIN?