12.29.2009

Bad Lieutenent -- The Best Film of 2009


I have yet to scribe my definitive best films of 2009 list (a favorite ritual of mine) because here in the Midwest, we're late to the late-season flick parade. I can rightfully put Role Models, Inglorious Basterds, Drag Me To Hell, Up, and Antichrist on there, but I've yet to take in the Hurt Locker or Fantastic Mr. Fox or Knowing for that matter. Knowing? Yes. Thanks to Werner Herzog, I'm back on a Nicholas Cage kick. Herzog let him run loose in New Orleans and the results are hilarious, intriguing, and as maniacal as any film in Herzog's oeuvre -- and it's all set against the canvas of a cliched made-for-tv cop movie. One thing I'm sure of, I won't see a better film from 2009 than Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. "His soul is still dancing."

12.28.2009

Lindstrøm & Christabelle - Real Life is Nø Cøøl


A few years ago I had the good fortune of seeing one of Lindstrøm's first ever U.S. performances in Austin, TX. Of course the frenzy of SXSW had him spinning in an ill-equipped, douche-ridden, cowboy bar directly on 6th St. and of course his mostly chill yet undeniably psychedelic-house rhythms, were too abbreviated to really get lost in -- the fully lit, wood-paneled environs, splayed with televisions airing March Madness games didn't help -- but I got the gist. He has a gift. The Norse DJ is a cut above his peers with a vision for craft that transcends beyond the electronique boutique.

That brings us to the now. The 2010. I'm not going to prognosticate all Indie Rock Nostradamus, because after all, what do we have to look forward to in the dawn of this new decade? Vampire Weekend? Spoon? Well, I am intrigued to hear how James Murphy has morphed LCD Soundsytem for a new era, but for now, the only release I'm genuinely excited for is Lindstrøm's collaboration with siren-singer Christabelle. Real Life is No Cool might actually supplant LCD as the party record of the near future. This LP is ripe with jams veering between the malleable parameters of Prince/Suicide/ELO/Moroder -- zig-zagging from fully disco-balled Italo skin-brands to spacey specked minimalist melodies that ravage the subconscious in sleep. I've listened to this multiple times since discovering it and have yet to find a clunker. Album of the Year? We still get the Pantha du Prince album any day now, so hold your Merriweather Post Pavilion applause until all the chips are counted.

Fan made vid here for "Music in My Mind" -- spliced with scenes from Vicky Christina Barcelona. I can't complain...it's not as if my adoration for Penelope Cruz is a secret.

12.23.2009

2009: My Year in Lists


It happens every year. I whittle down top twenty lists and still have tons left over that I want to purge about. Then the holidays roll around and you end up consuming even more music and things get itchy. Here's my personal page on the Agit-Reader, and what keeps intriguing me are the albums I suggested that I was pretty sure nobody heard. Please take the time to re-visit. Especially that Odawas record and the Night Control. Then's there's the case of Circulatory System making a welcome and dense return, while my fav idol runner-up, Alison Iraheta head straight to the cut-out bin though her debut is one of the best pop records of the decade. Seriously, "Beat Me Up" ? Please go read some of this, then go listen. I'm still calculating film lists and (gasp) decade lists (am I late?), so look for more soon.

12.20.2009

They Surely Know It's Christmas By Now....


I'm always amazed how iconic a song so utterly "British" is among the classic songs of Christmas. My ubiquitous mandatory workplace Christmas selections are heavy on the "christ" side of the holiday spectrum, but every four hours or so the sound of Paul Young's voice permeates the stale air. For that matter so does George Micheal's who dominates parts of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and has the second best British Christmas single in "Last Christmas." The voices on "Do They Know It's Christmas" are penetrating -- Bono, Sting, Boy George, Bananarama. This song is the regal Christmas we all see in provincial dreams of a snow covered London -- the bells, the swells, the choir of bad teeth.



Little did the rest of the world know there was Band Aid II (see if you can name more than five artists here, BROS.) Or that there was a Band Aid 20, with Chris Coldplay no less, and a repeat performance from Bono. Still, nothing touches the original.

12.13.2009

Late Night with Sade (Pronounced SHAY-day)


Sade hasn't released an album in a decade. Somehow, after looking over her astounding statistics as a platinum artist (every one of her five studio records was a top ten), I doubt the prolonged absence will steal her thunder. Who hasn't been enraptured by "Smooth Operator" once in their life? She is the ultimate quiet storm, but also a force on the pop charts, and bigger than life outside of the states. Why has it taken so long for me to realize the power of this luxury music. It may be the preferred luxury music for luxury people (imagine Tiger Wood's lover's suite), a smooth jazz staple, bourgeois exotica, but the force of her voice and the function of that voice to transport any listener to North African opium cabanas and Bangkok moonlight is something we need to reconsider as a cultural touchstone. Especially considering she's survived for decades and doesn't seem to age. I'll admit the "Soldier of Love" single is a tad out of touch, but I likely thought that the first time I heard "No Ordinary Love" (shit's like Tricky for your dad). Enjoy a tiny retrospective.









And now I've discovered her videos were as ambitious as Bjork's. W.O.W.

12.10.2009

Bristol Rise Up



Could I be somewhat bored with rock music, or just infatuated enough with the entire dubstep universe that I'm digging into 12"s and hour-long mixtapes more than I ever had before? A bit of both. Still just dipping my toes in this pool for now, but with each passing day I'm finding myself researching more and more, falling further down the rabbit hole. Pictured above is Joker --- and I heard a recent live show in Austin was nothing but his own material for two hours plus. That's something I can get behind. Is this the new psychedelic? Well, it's the warmest, most introspective and personal version of electronic music I've heard since....what....the Krauts.

So, I'll have to admit my base knowledge when it comes to "who" is the best -- I'm preferring Guido, the aforementioned Joker, the "legend" Burial, Gemmy, Zomby, Cooly G, Subeena, Rustie....and the list goes on. I'll have to admit I'm not sure how the sub-genres of dubstep are distinguished from one another yet -- I'm preferring "wonky." And, unfortunately, I've yet to see someone build these beautiful nightmares in a live setting. Don't think Columbus will ever be a magnet for the circuit. Maybe I'll try? For now, I'll have to trust things like the excellent Passion of the Weiss (an excellent L.A. writer who seems to have a grasp on all the up and comers), Resident Advisor (the global source for all things electronic), and staying up late with Mary Anne Hobbs on her BBC 1 Program, where she reports on the pulse of dubstep's epicenter in Bristol. Below is a primer, made by Hobbs, proliferating this "movement." We are on the brink.

12.09.2009

Last Minute Holiday Shopping with El Jesus


Every 'round here keeps talking about the best local albums -- if we parcel off records by TNV and the Psych-Horse as "national" then it's really slim pickings. Despite those on the peripheries "trying" to save the slump -- besides the gold mine that is Columbus Discount Records and a few stray releases from their roster (Cheater Slicks, Cheater Slicks) -- it's really slim pickings. I thought I liked Karate Coyote, but what have they given men in return? Love the Lindsay, but want some vinyl guys. Anyone else? Waiting for a Flu Faker record. A Nick Tolford record. Mike Rep bluegrass. Nudge UFO concept album. Tommy Jay two-fer. With the bounty of new bands that have propped up in the last 12 months, how come you kids can't start your own label? Where is the vinyl?

By default, but that would be an insult really, the greatest band in the land right now, and currently winding down their best year ever -- is El Jesus De Magico. With three excellent releases, Scalping the Guru LP, Unclean Ghost 7" and the recently released Klip Aught EP they kind of swept the "local" grammys. If there's one pile of records you want to surprise your sweetie with this x-mas, go with these -- you won't find better in this town.

Here's video of the boys and girls playing the Agit-Reader one-year anniversary back in June. Recognize.

12.08.2009

Redsfest and Potlucks



Notice "Box Seats" is a tag herein. I've changed my stance on seasonal highs -- it's no longer Opening Day, it's now Reds Fest. I felt maybe I was in St. Louis for a day. A place where the fans show up even in early December, even when the Cincinnati Bearcats can maneuver a National Championship bid, even when the streets of downtown Queen City are as barren as.....well, the streets of downtown Queen City is on Saturdays in early December. You've wasted your city, so let's not waste the team. Optimism seemed at an all time high. Even when getting photos and autographs with Drew Stubbs and Chris Dickerson.



While I'm a long-time supporter, I can honestly say these cardboard heroes are the closest I got to a team. All kidding aside, I have hope. Seeing Edison Volquez, broken as he may be, strutting through the promenade as the franchise, gave me hope. We missed quite a few legends (Tom Browning, GLENN BRAGGS (take that Wavves), and Joe Oliver) due to autograph hounds virtually clogging the lines (who needs an autograph these days? Adam just wanted to stare), but fortunately got within ear-shot of others.......



Like Eric "The Red" Davis, who looked as if he could still easily play CF in place of Willy Tavares. In all actuality, though I saw Brandon Phillips hamming it up in the Kid's Line, could have been named "Most Genial" Red of the entire day. Then there was George Foster -- the Redleg's HR King, who we glimpsed giving autographs through the entire Convention Center. The whole spectacle was kind of overwhelming. I can't imagine what it was like for a 10-yr old with a Beckett waiting to meet 1B Hal Morris for the first time.



The only bad karma that flooded the place was Bronson Arroyo's Stained covers (seriously, doesn't Arthur Rhodes make ghetto country, or something?) and the overwhelming buzz that Chris Sabo was total "dick" on Friday. The whole celebration was a little overwhelming, really. 'Specially when we heard the Bearcat's triumphant/lucky comeback on the "flat" drive home. At least Adam got his picture taken in front of the "biggest Reds jersey in the world."



The day was somewhat teetotal by the extremes of when the sun went down and I attended my first ever Rock Potluck. As a patron of the Columbus arts I am ashamed of my absence for those that came before this one. I've been invited to participate a few times before, but something (mostly work and/or Brazil came up) kept me from creeping. I will admit that one of those years I worked, got off early, and found a completely empty (and haunted) Milo, only to find out the "thing" was canceled. This one though? This town always finds ways to surprise me. As much of an old codger as I sound, re: the local scene, something like this is inspiring. Still, I'm intrigued more by the pieces of the scene being thrown together at a wall than the pieces real bands.

As the night wore on, and more packed, I was unable to hear the names of said assembled, off-the-cuff, day-of bands. Above though, is a pic of the monstrously towering Dusty, in the middle of his jam with Golden Nugg. The stage was flanked by guitarists who were ultimately "feeling it." Headbands, bell bottoms, and vintage gear in tow. I loved how this psychedelic love-fest started the evening off.




Besides some excellent highlights provided by David Holm (his ode to Columbus was spot-on) and a cover of "Mama Said Knock You Out" by Nick Tolford, the best memory of this year's Potluck came from Party Room -- Joe Peppercorn, Nick Shuld, Melanie Holm, Eve Searles, and one extremely talented participant who I was unfamiliar with. They started their set with a monolithic shoegaze rager complete with lyrics from the instructions from a Candyland board game -- then headed straight into a cover of Wilson Phillips "Hold On." Yes. That's true, and it was wonderful. I wish we could have Potlucks and Redsfests once a month/quarter, but then, what fun would that be?

12.04.2009

11.30.2009

THNXGVNG with AXEMEN



There’s always something unimaginably comforting about heading home for Thanksgiving (or for that matter heading home on any number of select weekends throughout the year). But the gluttony and relaxation that persists on this particular holiday can not be overlooked. As soon as I turn right off of I-75 and roll past the Waffle House and "hillbilly rifle outlet," I feel like I’ve entered a virtual safe zone, a hermetically sealed environment filled with naps by the fire and limitless liquor – all with none of the annoyances and stress inducers of “real” life. I could honestly do it every weekend if allowed. For me, it’s my wind-back. It’s not getting older or lazier or becoming less of a patron of the arts. It’s the opposite – naturally removing the over-stimulation of bustling “city” life from my horizon line. So arriving at Peters and High (Elliott Manor) for this year’s turkey trough was met with hesitation, as we’d be hosting four lads from New Zealand known as Axemen. I wasn’t as much worried about their settling into to a quintessential suburban ritual, as I was anxious how my parents might react to having America’s collector scum wet-dream tour (add one drummer from TNV to the mix) make a two-day stop in Troy. I shouldn’t have had any reservations. Patti and Jeff should get a medal for their hosting abilities. I never knew how liberal my parents actually are (now only if they’d align that mentality with their politics) until I saw them nurturing a gluten free meal for ol’ Dragan. But I digress. If you’re looking for tragic tales of drunken tirades and streaking through the town square or foul-mouthed kiwis looting the curio cabinet and tagging the doilies with pen knives – you aren’t going to find it here. Axemen are gentlemen. And though they may not be used to our ultra-consumer, warm and fuzzy, football coma shenanigans, they fit right in as adopted Elliotts.

If so anti-climatic, then why the post? Well, it was the well of anomaly that occurred at Troy, Ohio’s pre-eminent 18-35 yr. old hangout, The Brewery, the night before, which prompted this rant. Beyond simply wanting to tie one on in downtown Troy, beyond meeting up with an absent Justin Smith, beyond even the slightest want of nostalgic conversation with past peers whom I have nothing to converse, was a triple bill of Miami County’s finest “music.” Even then, the event of the week at the bar “everyone” goes to was pretty much split between dated booty music (first floor) and townie hard-lucks (second floor) and hardly a soul in the room with the stage, and the real instruments, and the performers. Still, it was a oddly intriguing trio of bands, going from karaoke rural gangsta’ rap to two-man Ween influenced mayhem, to standard issue thrash-emo-speed metal sludge.



Low Budget was first, featuring some kid who used to play basketball with my bro at the Lincoln Center back in the early ‘90s, replete with two hype men. They wore t-shirts emblazoned with Low Budget (were those made at the Troy Sports Center?) and hats reading the same. I thought the name was clever and their rhymes mighty inventive for what seemed like freestyle over the Ipod. In fact it reminded me most of another swang "low" duo from Cali, Low Profile, who went on to become W.C. and the Maad Circlen (a personal favorite). It did get tiresome, overwrought, and something I was happy stopped before it was too late. While I encourage all hip-hop troupes trying to make it in small town America (Teenage Soldiers R.I.P.), I would have liked to have seen them add some regional flavor to their oeuvre. I don’t know exactly what that would entail. In Columbus it’s a working-man, blue-collar, everyone’s invited atmosphere – so would this be sub-Columbus, or even sub-Springfield? I bet the gangsters thrive in Piqua. Explore there. Where’s Shane Darner when you need him?



Next up was the biggest surprise of the night. Electric Banana hail from Dayton, but seem to play most of their gigs at various submarine houses around Troy. Like the Weens, Chromeos, and Party Dreams that have come before them – most of what they do is borne of goofing and can only elicit good times, no heavy-handed criticism here. I’m sure if I were privy to the inane lyrics (I’m sure I heard “pussy” mentioned more than thrice) I wouldn’t have been as thrilled, and if they weren’t serving up PBR tallboys (just like home) I probably wouldn’t be expounding about their simple genius – but both factors were in place and the antics of Jimmy Spade, the mohawk-clad frontman of the two, made for a stellar evening. It was rudimentary funk worship and novel hip-hop in a stoner metal package, but they played it to perfection, knew how to work the “crowd” and had catchy melodies to off-set any whiff of scatology. I want them to come to Columbus, soon.



The last band of the evening could be wrapped up in one song. Through an Ocean of Plagues do what they do well, do it tight, and do it frenetic…..but I wasn’t in any kind of mood after the insanity of Electric Banana. I mean, c’mon, how you can take a band like this seriously? From their one sheet:

The phrase “Through an Ocean of Plagues” metaphorically describes the route humanity takes on its journey to self-destruction. Civilization evolves by consuming and destroying, usurping its power through the contamination and eventual erasure of its competitors. Rather than coexisting, Nature is enslaved, dissolved, and forgotten. Such is the legacy of future generations, once humankind has siphoned the last of the Earth’s resources. Without a target for destruction, we turn our sights to our own demise.

This rural Ohio quintet addresses these issues, translating the impending onslaught of disease, war, and social deconstruction into a medium by which they may express their opinions. The music is brutal, though it still retains a melodious quality meant to remind the listener that social harmony is lost but not forgotten. The live performance of the music parallels its subject matter, brutally portraying the bands frustration and outrage.


I did overhear the lead singer at 3 AM telling his friend he was headed home to “get fucked and fucked,” which I can only assume means he was continuing his quest for drugs and sex. So that was entertaining. But with all of this music, the highlight of the evening? --- HUGH KELLY, smartest man on earth.



But this was all about Axemen, right? Goodness. They played the Friday after the gorging in Columbus. I’m a bit out of words to go on and describe them, but it’s likely they showed a few “shitgaze” (sic) signifiers throughout their entire set of crust blues and the purest of kiwi protest/prank garage rock – but it all had the guise of a professional band playing like it was the last show of the tour. This is how you do it. Release the Three Virgins already. I don’t have it yet. Four of the most delightful men I’ve ever had the chance to meet.
Here’s hoping it gets this hopping over Christmas.

11.23.2009

Home Blitz Laboratory Test



Another lab test. This time with Home Blitz's Out of Phase. This one's simple. I was stunned by it back when I reviewed it on the Agit-Reader and now I can't stop listening to it -- and kind of ashamed I couldn't squeeze onto our year-end list in time. Richie Records is doing it up on vinyl soon, so I would wait it out until then. And the above video is the most recent I could find on the band, so please, if you go see him play, record it.

11.19.2009

The Electric Bunnies and the New Universe


We should probably take the title, Through the Magical Door, literally. In one glorious debut concept record, Miami's Electric Bunnies have laid waste to a decade of Black Lips backwash and defined an entirely new era of infected nuggets garage punk. I raved about it -- Primitive Futures style -- last week and it's become something of a staple since I got myself a copy on vinyl. Then you find out they constructed a board game on the gate-fold and went and made this video. This band deserves your attention.

11.16.2009

Brainiac Live Archive



I've written exhaustively about Brainiac. They shaped who I am in many ways. I still don't think music has caught up to what they were doing in the '90s, in Dayton, and eventually all over the world. Many bands have tried and most of them have failed. I always like to think about what would have happened if Brainiac survived past Y2K. Hypothetical I know.


The Braniac Live Archive is one man's project to keep it all alive and kicking. So far he's done an amazing job posting shows/set lists/videos -- all Brainiac, all the time. This is stuff you should be paying for.

11.10.2009

Dear Eillie Goulding , Please Be Kate Bush

Someone in my Facebook universe stated that yesterday was a "Kate Bush kind of day." And though I couldn't quite put my finger on what made that quote correct, it was. A nice, semi-gray afternoon, that would be perfect for "running up that hill," splitting time between primal screams and earth-bound coos, circumventing English castles and graveyards. My usual indie-rock Nostradamus said a few years ago that the future would be made up of imitators of Beat Happening and Kate Bush -- I think by now I was half-right. While here, I've always been a champion of the globe-hopping, genre-toppling urbanized neon of artists in Diplo's stable (see former posts), I'm also a big supporter of the more Euro-centric, dance-club, electro-divas that have been sprouting up at a surprisingly fast clip (La Roux, Little Boots, Annie). Though many of those artist's singles were solid gold, full-length albums by them have had diminishing returns. Perhaps because they aren't sticking close enough to the Kate Bush mold. None of them seem as wildly eclectic as the woman who wrote a song called "Wuthering Heights" and turned it into a smash.

Ellie Goulding, probably best known these days (at least in the states) for remixing a Passion Pit (sic!) song -- this new singles, "Under the Sheets" is the perfect combination of that weird streak adopted from Bush and the blinking neon circuit sophistication want from those electro-pixies. Dig deeper and you'll see that Ellie is quite an accomplished musician, not just a cuddly prop in front of a phalanx of synthesizers. The first thing I had heard from her was mostly acoustic, her delicate voice the only thing fluctuating throughout. It's worth it to seek out "Guns and Horses" and "Starry Eyed." Amazing songs. High Hopes. Pop Park. Giving Lykke Li a formidable opponent.

11.09.2009

Fela the Musical?



I'm not exactly sure about the first time I heard Fela Kuti, but it was life-changing. There are few titans in music and he is one of them. After that initial contact I pretty much drowned myself in Kuti's life work and scoured for every scrap of information on his career and his politics. I even started working on a screenplay about him -- hashed out on a long inebriated walk back to downtown Austin from the Peacock. Someone beat me to the punch. His story on the screen should be epic. As for this recently opened Broadway show? I'm not sure. I'm not a big Broadway fan, so I hope it doesn't dilute his legacy, and especially his jams.

Still, the reviews coming in for this are nothing short of revelatory. So I suppose this is the closest I'll ever come to a wild night at the Shrine. Can't wait to see this.

11.08.2009

The Scrotum Poles Re-Discovered



I don't know much about the Scrotum Poles. I'm pretty sure I heard one of their songs on a Messthetics comp. some time ago? Did I? Well, seeing them compared to the Television Personalities and the Desperate Bicycles sparked my interest beyond belief. And since the DB aren't close to re-issuing the gold them mined way back when, the Scrotum Poles are quick to oblige. The above video is pretty much all you need to see to get the drift. I do know you can now find all of their recorded material on this recently released Dulc-i-tone compilation. Thanks to my brother for spotting this.

11.06.2009

High On That Sleigh Bells Hype

See. Here's where hype gets completely out of control. I actually feel a bit bad for Sleigh Bells, as they're about to get eaten and spit out by the blog-machine. (I'm entirely to blame) but it's kinda hard to ignore the ephemeral rush of their demo. And that's the point. This is a demo. I remember back at the dawn of the internet, when a group called the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sent their self-produced demo my way, and I tucked it aside as a personal treasure. It wasn't exactly something I sang the praises of immediately, but it was infectious and trashy enough to keep it like a secret. I've been getting the same feeling from this overly fresh and tragically hip duo from (where else?) BKLYN. They stormed CMJ, have been mentioned on all the sites "fit to print," and currently rule my playlists (at least "Crown on the Ground" does)-- but they likely don't even have a dozen songs to play at a live show. And by the looks of their recent appearances, that live show is little more than hellish guitar riffs, a few off-key chants, and loads of sequenced background music blared through the speakers. Pretty, pretty, flimsy after a song or two. Still, it's hard to resist the candy.

11.05.2009

Late Nights with Maxi Priest

With the seasonal closure of the Poolside clubhouse, it's time to move on to Late Night -- the imagined soundtrack of a 2 A.M. rendezvous in the penthouse jacuzzi. This might pertain to smooth jazz or adult contemporary deemed too "fatherly" for the hipster contingent, but I assure you, there are some gems Late Night. Just give me a minute to find them.

Recently I was fortunate enough to find Maxi Priest's "Close to You" 12" for a mere $.50. A bargain for the dub mix alone. Maxi started his career as the "king of lover's rock" -- and lover's rock is to reggae as smooth jazz is to jazz. Basically it's reggae completely stripped of sunshine and replaced with moonlight, gentler rhythms, and endless proclamations of midnight booty calls. Maxi has taken the lover's rock one step further, stripping it of any remnant of reggae and injecting it with a soaring and catchy chorus -- a little infectious rap and this thing's a number one hit (no lie). This was a ubiquitous single in the summer of 1990, a period in music when any fringe genre could be compartmentalized into a pop song. Keep in mind this was a year when Glen Medeiros, Wilson Phillips, Tommy Page and Nelson all had number one hits. So in comparison, "Close to You" was golden in it's purity. For some reason I can't relate this to any scorching sunlight, only suburban darkness and island breezes. I'm sure I had this on a mixtape en route to Clearwater Beach.

11.04.2009

Witness the Wisdom of Bangs



Between the time a friend of mine shot me a link to this wonderful video and today, Bangs has already become an internet/pop culture sensation. By far the best Sudanese import since....??? There could be question as to if this is elaborate put-on in a world of intense irony and quick gimmick or as genuine as they come -- a earnest artist emulating the bling and machismo of American pop-hop. I'm sticking with the later. "Take U To Da Movies" is not all that extreme when it comes to jokesters mocking rap, and for that I'd have to say Bangs means all of this from the bottom of his heart.

11.02.2009

The Lindsay do Syrup Bag



The Lindsay’s micro-psychedelic masterpiece, Dragged Out, was quickly regarded as one of the finest homegrown records Columbus had heard in a long stretch of time. The stars seemed to start aligning for the fairly unassuming quartet – they had a stunning debut, a searing live show, and a label that appeared to be doing things right. I don’t know all the facts as to why Man Up dissolved, but it did, and with that, slowly it felt the Lindsay were crumbling molecule by molecule. Nothing happened. The logical next step was to get the rights to Dragged Out (as it will likely be reissued years from now as a one-off classic – damn, someone needs to press it on vinyl immediately, but I’ve been screaming that from the beginning) and tour, record, tour, record, release delectable sophomore album to critical acclaim and crowds across the country. Nothing happened. Sure, the band would play the occasional live show, and the songs from Dragged Out stood the test of time, survived on the stage past expiration, which is indicative of the group’s dedication to playing and the quality of their hooks. But truly, nothing was happening. They were the one band in town that didn’t seem to hew close to the burgeoning lo-fi movement who were actually worth venturing out to see (but also wholly embraced by the TNV/PHS/CDR/BOBO mafia). So it was almost depressing, at least extremely frustrating, to see it all squandered away.

Nearly three years later we get an explanation in the form of Syrup Bag. In that time the Lindsay have, for better or for worse, become a staple in the bars – no real progress when it comes to topping the tunes on Dragged Out, but raging in synchronicity and genuine energy. When I first heard about the Syrup Bag release show, I was already underwhelmed, thinking maybe it was a joke as the band is known to have an acerbic wit about them. But in seeing them on stage for the first time in months and subsequently going straight home to hear the seven songs that make up Syrup Bag – I realized they have been growing. Not exactly sure if they’re growing in revolt of their recent stasis, or if the growth is borne of anger and indifference – but this was certainly not expected.

The first thing you’ll notice is that Syrup Bag sounds as if it’s come from directly off the stage. Gone are all the effects and extra layers that glazed Dragged Out – intricacies that lent the songs an aura befitting the album cover’s paisley wonder illustration. But that’s fine when a scorcher like “Change My Oil” and “Thurston Moore Sez” piles on the guitar squalor till there’s little room to breath. The similarities to Sonic Youth continue unabated and unashamed. Just check out that last title, they’ve got a god and they’re going to use him – more like abuse him. I actually think what the Lindsay crib from Sonic Youth they put to great use. The lead “It’s Not Easy” is just as ferocious as anything on Daydream Nation, cut with the melodic sensibilities SY has found in recent years. I’m just imagining guitarists John Olexovitch and Tom Schmidt as a Moore/Renaldo destructo unit twenty years younger, with plenty more fire in their souls and hooks in their head. I may be in the minority here, but I never thought SY had that many hooks – intriguing atonal intangibles and hipster ooze sure, but hooks? No.

Look, this isn’t a competition, but right now I can’t hum you one song from this year’s Eternal LP. The seven songs from Syrup Bag? Won’t leave. I suppose it’s that the Lindsay add everything to their angular thrash that I’d wished Thurston Moore would add. Plus the Lindsay have that worn-in, homegrown, humility to them. That’s especially with bassist Gretchen Tepper bobbing, weaving, and shouting through all the boyz noise. She’s somewhat the Flavor Flav joy to Olexovitch’s Chuck D glum – and packed within the words are tales about why this all took so damn long. Local meta-indie rock about the little band that could, then couldn’t get it up. Too bad the life cycle of a band is so short. The Lindsay have only been around for a little over three years and I was already prepared to write their eulogy. Thanks for changing my mind…..kids.

By the way…..you can fetch the entire Syrup Bag digitally, right here.

10.28.2009

The Renaissance of Home



Last week I was blessed with some of the best news heard in quite some time. One of my all-time favorite bands from the indie era -- Home -- overlooked and underrated as they've been much of their existence -- is returning again.

Back when Sexteen was released -- two years ago -- I wrote a pretty lengthy piece on all of their albums up to that point. The announcement last week, while introducing the world to Seventeen, was bigger than I could imagine. They've just released Home I through Home VIII -- tapes that were nothing more than myth in the mid-90s, a box-set of memories I was promised many times but never received. I actually remember buying a $30 import disc of "selections" from the box-set from Mondo Kim's in NYC, just to get a taste. Now, at $14.99 this is a steal. That's a good four hours of music -- I'm still sifting through it all.

Seventeen is being released by Brah in January, and the band has planned some live show in celebration of this monumental occasion. Look for full reviews of both over at the Agit-Reader soon.

10.25.2009

10.21.2009

Allison Iraheta - "Friday I'll Be Over You"



I've never been secretive about my obsession with American Idol. Though I think the quality of the performers and the choice of material has waned in recent years -- I always have a favorite that I was sad to see leave. Given the circumstances of this year and the Adam Lambert/Kris Allen culture war showdown, I've almost tuned out enough to give up completely. Especially with no Abdul hysterics next season. The only hope I had this past year was that Allison Iraheta -- the 16 yr. old phenom -- would prevail through all the male dominated shenanigans. She may not have had the vocal chops of Mr. Glambert, but she had her own style. I thought that was enough to make her the dark horse.

Finally we are about to see the results of Ms. Iraheta's burgeoning recording career. Currently her first single,"Friday I'll Be Over You" has yet to set fire to the charts, but I'm in love with how they've projected her to the airwaves. While I'm a bit weary of the Pink makeover her handlers are giving her, I love the pseudo-Runaways vibe and the eerie Metroid music box ludes that frame the chorus. A bit more Avril than I wished for, but I'm predicting a long career. At least as long as Kelly Clarkson, and long(er) than her season 8 peers.

10.20.2009

Poolside with Washed Out

This might be the last Poolside for a long while. At least until I get the itch in March. This is actually more than Poolside, it's a chance to announce what I think is the single of the year -- Washed Out's hypnotic "Feel it All Around." That's hypnotic, no hypnagogic (and who knows what the fuck that entails). I've likely listened to this at least once a day since it was released. Goodness. It's inspiring, melodic, soothing, contemplative, nostalgic -- everything I want in a Poolside jam. This is a fan made video. Though I've never had the experience of scuba, and I didn't get close to a beach the entire summer, this is beautifully fitting.

FEEL IT ALL AROUND from Northern Lights on Vimeo.

10.15.2009

Where is Indian Summer?

I guess it has arrived this week. Thought with the frost and the rain that we might not see it this year. I was beginning to worry, as this is my favorite time of the year.Driving through the fall foliage with the windows down yesterday I realized why I love Ohio, if only for this seven day seasonal harvest. Can you imagine living in a place without seasons?

Anyways, this post is just an excuse to show a Beat Happening video. Funny this fits autumn perfectly.

Do Not Do It Yourself

While a little culture war continues unabated (over at Donewaiting.Com) regarding this tidy documentary and the validity/quality/ability of Times New Viking -- the band continues their umpteenth tour of the entire U.S. Do not believe in the myth that things are happening in Columbus -- for the most part they are not. For every Times New Viking and Psychedelic Horseshit there are a dozen bands made up of middle-aged men (infants) who came from a dozen other failed bands to form a Voltron of Midwestern mediocrity. Don't get me wrong, there are a handful of excellent bands in this town -- but few escape the bars and make something happen. I would love to write an essay on the fountain of suck that is created once a band in Columbus breaks the boundaries of I-270 and makes something happen. Nevertheless haters come out of the woodwork and keep their identities and their insufferably shitty bands hidden. Please, break-up your band.

Back to this doc though. Granted, TNV is not for everyone, but those who "get" it, adore it. Explaining this band to squares is always a challenge, so I'm glad something like this now exists because in the future I'll just direct them this way.

Faust Surprises in Old Age

I didn't expect much from Faust. I didn't expect a solid ratio of original/hired members or old/new compositions. So hearing a haunting version of the gaseous "Jennifer," no matter the arrangement, was thrill. Here's a full review.

I thought of this as a once in a lifetime experience, but then again, the more discovered and exposed Faust becomes (Pavement just announced them in their line-up for ATP), the closer I believe they'll get to the "authentic" Faust. Considering the "band" was more a concept, a reactionary form of dadaist art, defining "authenticity" is really impossible. That's especially true when found Uwe Nettelbeck passed last year. The myth still live through, through the first 4 Faust LPs and bit of film such as this.



(Editor's Note - I named this here blog after their country jam hut in Wumme, Germany.)

10.12.2009

MJ One More Time? Why Not?

Yeah. Losing Michael Jackson was a huge chink in my armor this year. Don't know why, since I haven't gave a damn since maybe Dangerous. I even shed a tear. I even wrote an obituary. I said he shaped my life more than any other celebrity I grew up with. So happy to start teaching this Autumn and see high school seniors clad in tribute t-shirts and Thriller era garb. That's a comeback. But he was going to have a "real" comeback, and I was almost willing to head to the UK to see this. This weekend at an IMAX viewing of Where the Wild Things Are, my wife and I saw the preview for This Is It, and we both got goosebumps. The This Is It tour was going to be HUGE. Had he lived, he would have certainly made it over to the states, a new album, why not?

10.06.2009

On Kurt Vile (Gash)



I don't think enough has been said about Mr. Vile. Trying to spread the gospel in my feature last week, I'm convinced Childish Prodigy is merely the closing of the first chapter in his career -- there are certainly higher peaks to reach. Take the time to laugh at Pitchfork decree that he should be MORE lo-fi. What's the point of that? Especially for a band as heavy and heady as the Violators? Has it gotten so bad that we're discouraging increased sonic exploration? Go buy this record now.

I'm listening to Springsteen now Kurt. Thanks.

9.30.2009

Endless Boogie on a School Night



For starters, I should not have gone to this. On a schools night, after two plastic buckets of overpriced Budweiser at the sweaty and solid Arctic Monkey's show (journalistic hardship), but it's hard to turn down a Psychedelic Horseshit show, especially when they're opening for Endless Boogie at the last minute. Not sure when PHS will get their sea legs back and get off the house music -- love it, but after hearing Too Many Hits for the very first time I prefer a rambling band behind the brother. I was already a bit blotto anyways, so it didn't make much difference. Those infective blips are worth any lost sleep.

BUT....it was the nonchalant mosey to the stage made by Endless Boogie that proved the night's worth. Nicely (scantily) attended for a Monday night in Columbus, I only lasted through the first two 15 plus minute openers before submission -- a 70 MPH date with 71-N. I decided not to research too much into what is exactly going on live with these guys. They are Matador affiliated, record obsessives with a sweet tooth for kobe beef. The magic is in the magic man, the axe in the front, who reminded me of any of the guitar gods scribbled on the trading cards that come with the Galactic Zoo Dossier. I'd rather remain ignorant to anything the man has done before -- hopefully some forgotten blues-psych metal LPs will be re-issued when the time is ripe. Oh wait, there are three perfectly groovy Endless Boogies records to keep me occupied into my '50s. And two of them, the first two, priceless artifacts well worth tracking down. I can't be sure but I think they led off with my favorite "Stanton Karma," though after a while it all blends into one-mammoth solo that never breaks for conformity or uh...squareness. I need to make it out on more school nights.

Live through this:

9.26.2009

Dominique Young Unique Indeed



Let’s list ‘em – a half-decade list of female “of this moment” lightning bolts in bottles – Rye Rye, Lil’ Mama, Lil’ Sister, Yo Majesty, Amanda Blank, Santigold. All have achieved at least an ephemeral minute of notoriety, but only an artist like M.I.A. has really taken it to the finish line or at least close for now. Not sure if it just starts of so white hot, that the burn-out is immediate – hip-hop sparklers? Not so much letdowns, they just haven’t followed through. So then, another? Sure, Dominique Young Unique is wilder. The Tampa- native, Yo Majesty-affiliated, seventeen year- old just won Florida’s artist of the year. This is not surprising as her debut platter “Music Time” is wilder than anything I spoke of previously. Of course, as stated, it’s much too early to predict or even hope, but so far these hyper-booty-dub-sides by way of Danny Elfman pinball is enough to make me let loose. Let loose.

9.25.2009

Ashes Grammar Laboratory Test



A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s Ashes Grammar is my first specimen for the “lab test.” Gushing over it a few weeks ago, I have to give it a second time around to assure myself the album has a safe secure spot on the year end list. Confirmed.

Vaporous colours trapped in a sphere of iced glass. In that headspace melodies stream in and out of consciousness, somewhere in the distance a band is playing, but even with binoculars their visage appears out of focus, ghostly, transparent. Wisps of whimsical genius – “Failure,” “The White Witch,” that finale – they never really cement, bringing about an amorphous atmosphere, reminding me fondly of the Swirlies. They’re a band I discovered at Second Time Around on Brown St. in the three dollar bin. That Boston band created a similar shoegaze intoxicant. Blonder Tongue Audio Baton is at the other end of the spectrum though – thick, abstract, abject, slippery psych-sludge. No need to really re-evaluate both. Get Ashes Grammar, Find Swirlies (it’s all pretty good).


Below -- 120 Minutes standard video for the Swirlies "Bell" -- Sunny Day should be making film like this.

9.22.2009

Today is Times New Viking Day (Equinox)



YES. It's been ringing in my ears for the entirety of the summer, but today, you can, and should, walk into a physical record store and buy a physical copy (preferably vinyl)of Times New Viking's fourth and decidedly darkest record to date, Born Again Revisited. I highly recommend it, though I'm the slightest bit biased. Fuck your blog.

And in the spirit, we did an Agit-Feature on them.

Below, the video for "No Time, No Hope"



They'll be back in town Oct. 14th at the Summit. Take the next day off work.

9.15.2009

More on the Clean...



In conjunction with the Agit-Reader's excellent feature with the Clean, I decided to go scouring for the old snuff on the band. Above, a nice primer, and below the story of Flying Nun, which may or may not have survived without the Clean. Regardless of your opinions towards Mister Pop - I happen to love the slow-burn melodies intertwined in each bit of psychedelic-lite they make -- these clips are necessary viewing.

9.10.2009

Os Mutantes Coming to a (American) City Near You

Though, in my own mind, I've become somewhat of an expert of Tropicalia, and would likely talk your ear off for an hour or two if you asked for some recommended albums from the era -- I couldn't likely pull myself away from what made me all in love with the genre -- and that would be Os Mutantes. I was completely nonplussed with their first announced reunion at a Pitchfork festival way back when, but decided to give them another chance this second time around -- since, at least Sergio Dias Baptista, was considering recording a new album. Well, Haih or Amortecedor has finally seen the light of day, and though reviews have been somewhat mixed, and I think that's due to ears not being hip to what's currently popular in Brazilian sound, I'm loving the variety, the diversion to our perceived "weird" underground and ethno-tastes, I'm thinking, though it's not up there with the top 3 Mutantes records, it's certainly better than the output they were outputting whilst falling apart in the '70s.

Still, nothing can match those magical moments in the late '60s.

9.04.2009

Polvo's In Prism is That Good



If you read here regularly, you might notice I'm in a constant struggle with my teenage love for Polvo. I've often thought their music might not make it in a modern world, but I'm here to say that, yes, each and everything they did has aged well. Judging from my interview with Dave, guitarist from Polvo, the men of the band have, themselves, as well too. Now, a month or so after the release of In Prism, their 12 year comeback record, I can easily commit to adding the album to any subsequent year-end list. This is especially true when it is listened to on the thick vinyl issue of this behemoth. Each song sounds like craft-work, as if each song has been poured over and loved since they day Polvo threw in the towel back in '98. It's rare that a group, who seemed permanently cased in amber back then, can re-e-Merge and sonically compete - and nearly ravage -- any of their contemporaries who currently ape their "sound" and/or peers who angled and shone right beside them back in those days.

I say -- let the Polvo renaissance begin. We'll start with their humble beginnings. Keep in mind I didn't say their '90s video output aged well. Pure 120 Minutes mis-e-scene here.

9.01.2009

Casual Vikings Blog



Yeah. It happened. I don't care about the opinion of the public, or the locker room for that matter, on the return/disappearance/return of Brett Favre. Everyone knows this is the right fit for my Vikings and everyone knows they're going to win a lot of games this year -- even if he sits some of those games out. Look. I'm over it and Brett Favre has been my most hated player in the NFL since he started wearing a Green Bay uniform. But I'm accepting, especially if my team is winning. Mike Vick I might have a problem with -- but Favre? Get ready AFC North.

I'm just posting this to warn you that World of Wumme may in fact become a "casual Vikings blog" for the remainder of the season. I've also decided to root for the Bengals. Go figure.

8.31.2009

I Saw a Juggalo Car Today...

If someone can explain for me my maniacal fascination with the Juggalos, I may finally arrive at some semblance of peace. All this mind you without listening to perhaps no more than two minutes of their music in my lifetime. The clown make-up, the hatchet man, the Faygo, the missing teeth. Honestly, this subculture might just represent the absolute lowest rung of our society. Not sure if I ever posted the infomercial for this year’s Gathering of the Juggalos, the 10th Annual mind you – if not here it is. It’s truly a masterpiece of cinema. For the last ten years we’ve always thought it would be a lark to head to the Gathering and document all the mayhem as some sort of warped sociology project (Ohio is in the heart of Juggalo country), but never had the nerve to do such a thing. Think of the diseases that you might catch there, the Faygo. This year a guy finally decided to take the perspective of an active participant in the event and record a compact and enlightening mini-movie of the 10th anniversary. I’d say it’s pretty accurate of what you could expect at this thing. Who are these people? Where has taste gone to die? Are their ranks growing because I see Juggalos everyday.

8.27.2009

Caught Up in Caustic Resin



This is in no way an advertisement for Resin Road, the boogie band I’m about to start with some like-minded individuals – it’s about another “resin” band, the Idaho trio known as Caustic Resin. I felt they should somehow be immortalized just for making The Medicine is All Gone way back in 1998. Most people don’t know, but Brett Netson’s crew actually pre-date Built to Spill, the band who were likely the gateway into even hearing a Caustic Resin track (remember the split?). Well this whole post came to fruition in my quandary with Built to Spill. When it was announced that Built to Spill were going to play their seminal Perfect From Now On at the Pitchfork Music Festival I actually got kind of excited. That was quite an important record when it was released, epic in its psychedelic undertaking but still laced with Doug Martsch’s somewhat huckster bittersweet pop hooks. It was, as suggested, perfect. But, despite the outrage I might endure from Built to Spill apologists, he hasn’t made a good record since. In seeing there’s a new Built to Spill record on the way, one that’s being described as “heavy” and “dark,” I’m always anxious to see if he can reignite that spark. The last one was close, but seeing as I can remember the title of it without looking it up does not a great album make.

In the meantime, there is at least one Caustic Resin record worth your time, two if you include the excellent stoner trip in Fly Me to the Moon. Netson though, found a worthwhile balance between the dreadful, druggy, raging, nearing-PacNW aggression (think Wipers/TAD/Butterfly Train) found in his earliest records, and the more hokum melodies he would eventually share with Martsch and run into ground on subsequent records, on one compact document – the aforementioned The Medicine is All Gone. Alias released this one to little acclaim and it took some digging to find it again, seeing as it’s been tough to surface anything on that label (I’m looking at you Throneberry albums), this one is a missing artifact, especially if you’re a fan of BTS. The beauty of songs like the lead-off “Cable” and the stand-outs “Man from Michigan” and “Niacin,” comes in the trio’s instability, the constant wavering of Netson’s (eerily similar to Martsch) vocals – where he almost screams alley-cat minstrels, but manages to wrangle it all in – the monolithic riffs that near a Sabbath wallop but kind of fizzle in a billowing mess of grungy smoke-signals, the psychedelic bong-worshipped guitars going in every which direction that recall the earliest of Butthole Surfer madness. There’s a lysergic trail (I’m sure but not sure of substance abuse in Netson’s history, so don’t quote me) that flows through the penultimate one-two punch of “Mysteries Of…” and their cover of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” that is really all one needs for convincing. And there's a heap of excellent snaggletooth-jam on the finale “Enough,” that you might find yourself searching for the even looser/darker expanse of the record that came before this. You might even find yourself sending fan mail to Mr. Doug egging him out of his decade funk to give us what we all really want – a proper follow-up to that hour of bliss he gave us way back when.

8.25.2009

Maluca Going Live



We are now under six months until yet another SXSW. Hard to believe how time flies. One of my highlights from this past March was the unveiling of Diplo’s latest ingénue, the Dominican born, Brooklyn bred, Maluca. On stage at the Fader Fort she started the party by ripping through a set of island madness, a dance party complete with her set of dancers. Finally, now, with the release of her first single for Mad Decent, “El Tigeraso,” Diplo takes great strides in distancing the soft-spoken, bilingual diva from “the others.”

The track ups the bpms and consequently the energy – similar to baile funk in the horn-laden attitude and to Latin freestyle in throwback disco. But if anything this is your favorite DJ positing Maluca as ambassador of Soca (calypso with soul). While it won’t start a revolution, as it’s without any trademark hook, it will hijack the night into the upper rung of euphoria. Not sure what goes on “up on 182nd” but given Maluca’s sultry coo I’ll follow her anywhere. Like a sophisticated Lorna, or Lisa Lisa without the Cult Jam (her's is a one man cult jam). The girl’s a chatterbox on Twitter. Can’t wait for a full-length.


8.20.2009

Yo La Tengo Loves the Kids

If you haven't noticed already, I'm pretty hyped on the kids. Not sure if it is the kool-aid, or a long, introspective summer (yes, it was somewhat long, still not over) of more chilled do-it-yourselfers -- whom I all consider derived from Times New Viking at this point. Of course, though they'd hate to admit it, TNV's direct inspiration comes from Guided By Voices and the Siltbreeze peripherals that they came to discover from Robert Pollard's Trader Vic tweets in 1994 (NZ, Harry Pussy, Fieldhands, Echoes from Rep and Shep), so all of these youth owe a little St. Ides on the curb for Elephant Jokes. What's that Metallica song? "Sad but True" ???

It all comes down to the songs, right? I've spent a long, and finally "hot," summer with Born Again Revisited, and I must say, these are the best "songs" that Times New Viking have written. Coming home from work this day, it's nice to see a reputable internet "authority" like Peefork call them "lo-fi titans." But I know there's somewhere in the last week (week and a half) of turmoil, melancholy, ecstasy, and stoicism that Me and "some other person*" discussed the actual fidelity of said band. The "kids" have kind of defiled fidelity and pushed it beyond the realm of good taste (or even "play for your "radio station's" programming director's" taste). You're either "on" or you're "off." When "your kids" riddle those "Elliott Smith" compact discs you've stored away (and subsequently ask if you know how much a copy of Dig Yourself goes for on Z-BAY), you'll likely say you were "off."

This video they did, playing "Yo La Tengo," transports me back to late night weekends with 120 Minutes. YLT videos from the '90s are quintessentially indie -- blurry landscapes, underground comedian cameos, and pastels. So it's actually no surprise that a band like TNV is playing into that mythology (in this new century (and dawn of YLT most brilliant album in years (though none of them are "that" bad))), adored by the Clean, touring with the Breeders, and releasing their best record yet in a mere month. Go Forth, I Guess.

8.18.2009

Already Gearing for a Major Lazer Sequel

Ever since I first laid ears on Major Lazer way back at SXSW in March, I knew it was destined to be Diplo's break-out on his own type of record. Then he went and established a mascot to keep him in Switch somewhat in the shadows again. The wizards behind the curtain. Either way -- read this interview with Major Lazer himself over at the Agit-Reader to get a bit more insight to the project. Party record of the Summer. Soon as I have a party.

And perhaps the best video of the year, the Eric Wareheim directed clip for "Pon De Floor."

8.14.2009

Montreal in Pictures

Lots of words could be written about my magical weekend in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I've always been fascinated with Canadian culture, now even more once I met their French factions in this world-class city. Instead of a lengthy essay on the slight differences in everything from crosswalks to convenience stores, I'll school you with pics. (and if you notice, I've now added my Flickr photostream to the right column -- access to every single photo taken).



Notre Dame Basilica




Olympic Park and Stadium (AC/DC was appearing that night)




Like a left-over set from Logan's Run






The Jadim Botanical de Montreal was as big as Central Park. Amazing, truly.





Poutine in 30 varieties at the 24 Hour haunt La Banquise.






Dinner at Au Pied de Cochon. Foot of the Pig. I had too much Foie Gras here. Full review coming soon.





Took the Montreal bagel challenge. I'm going with St. Viateur for the win. The myth that these are better than in NYC is truth.




The Schwartz's smoked-meat sandwich -- worth a wait out the door.






Everybody's got a terrace. Curious to know what goes on in the winter.





Vieux Montreal. Nice, but tourist trap.



If only Columbus had half as much public art as this city? If only.

I'm headed back as soon as possible. It was that good.