Comfest Addendum

Due to obligations at my job and later obligations to my weed ravaged yard – I only attended Comfest on Saturday. But what a Saturday it was (so if you don’t see your band, I didn’t see you). Made my first “twit” to give the coordinates of my blue blanket and as a consequence my company/crew was deep. I was right off the edge of the Off-Ramp tent and could hear those solid sounds drift on the Summer breeze. Not all was kosher, but being at Comfest never puts one in the mood to complain.


Karate Coyote -- continue to get better, a nice way to arrive in the scalding sun. Watch Out Young World.

SHIN TOWER MUSIC !!! --were good enough to include three exclamation points.

Ginger Fetus - slow-burning psych warfare.

Hotel Eden - constructs some effervescent pop songs.

Flotation Walls – finally made that record, now tour.

The Lindsay – can’t get too angry about a missing in action follow-up when they sound this good live.

Jordan O’ Jordan – the consummate eccentric and troubadour storyteller.

Envelope – probably had the show of the weekend, but got cut off prematurely. Comfest owes him a huge apology, especially considering how much he’s done for this city.

Fried Fish Foodstuffs.

Columbus Pale Ale.

That the BYOB policy did not seem to apply to reefer or Bulleit Bourbon.

The Solar Stage. Shouldn’t all stages be solar by now?


Just about every other band I saw this past weekend either wanted to be the Replacements/Wilco/Social Distortion/Radiohead or some gruesome combination of the four.

And just because you have horns and a keyboard player does not mean you’ve got the E Street Band behind you, so you’re not the Boss and/or the Arcade Fire. (There’s only one band this does not apply to – Nick Tolford and Company, but alas, I did not see them this weekend – plus, he’s more Wilson Pickett).

I felt claustrophobic in Goodale Park for the first time.

If you want me to buy your beer, at least set-up another tent.

Again – have a curated stage. And let Ron House pick every band.

The Burlesque show before Envelope’s set was possibly the worst thing I’ve ever seen at Comfest. And likely the reason his set was abbreviated.

The Lindsay didn’t have a new album for sale.

The Bozo Stage is a joke. Who goes there?


Columbus Discount's Holy Grail

Singles Clubs are a crapshoot. Anyone outside of the Columbus City Limits may have been suspect to simply jump onboard to the Columbus Discount Records great space coaster of a singles club, if only because most of the reported offerings were homegrown – I’d be hesitant to sign onto a label from Omaha’s club without some knowledge of the roster. It’s a good thing that folk have trust in our scene, as it’s surviving and thriving and spreading its influence far from the stretch of road that connects Washington Beach to Rontown. The CDR YR One is almost coming to an end (I’m thinking only Psych Horse and the Slicks have obligations on the way) and there’s rumor swirling YR 2 is even better, at least bigger – it would be hard to top some of the singles this club has pressed for our amusement.

But likely the biggest surprise that has come from the whole subscription is “The Voices of Men” – and lo and behold it doesn’t even bear a CDR label, it bears no label other than a blank white label. It was privately pressed. It was given as a gift. It’s absolutely free if you want it. And it’s likely a piece of the Holy Grail that CDR is just now searching for. The only info one will acquire from the small rectangular insert that comes with “The Voices of Men” is that it was recorded by Nudge Squidfish and Jim Shepard somewhere in the ‘80s. That’s all you get. It’s one-sided, so no reason to flip, instead just soak in the two odd minutes of creepy wonder. Jim Shepard almost turns in a disco number here, with a pulsating synth-beat, a flaying of flanged guitar trails, and the munchkin voices of mischief cajoling behind him. His message, as always, is potent, out to rally the proles against the bourgeoisie, and get them all over to his side.

Listening through a smattering of older V-3 from older times, I’ve noticed the fascination, or perhaps forced parallelization of Shepard and Jim Jones. “The Voices of Men” ends with Jones at the pulpit – not sure if this was the final kool-aid procession. Nothing as harsh or massive, but from a Columbus bunker, Shepard plotted his inevitable (in his eyes) coup of the music industry and the detritus of celebrity and hyperbole that surrounded it. With his art – I distinctly remember the guy claiming Photograph Burns was one of the top five pieces of art in HISTORY, and I often believed him – he was bound to eventually topple the ideals of the ideal model, the penetration of unfiltered, unfettered, thought and pure expression through his words and music. This little unreleased gem may not change the world towards his ends, but it might just be the tip of the iceberg that opens the vaults for everyone to hear. For now, I’m game to get to pressing that Live ’97 Bernie’s bootleg, wherein V-3 literally destroys the dank club. That shit is brutal. Please CDR, next week? Let’s do this.


RIP MJ -- fuck.

It will likely take me a week to fully digest this....

(Read the Agit-Obit)


Who Needs the Comfest....When You Got the Beach

Let’s get one thing straight. The headline of this post is not supposed to be snarky, cause though I’ve butted heads with certain bands in the local scene lately (I’m not touching the Josh Fitzwater and the Shambles disc – we don’t want to go there, ‘nuff said) I am still in love with Comfest – I just don’t think the magic is still in the air, at least if you’re facing the Bozo Stage, and the breeze that comes with it. To contradict – we do need Comfest, if only so all the (insert demeaning expletive) bands that usually draw a crowd of their closest friends (10-20) can play in the sunshine to a handful of strangers. If only so I can have a fishboat. If only so I can sneak into the port-o-johns and load the flask. If only so I can see a million different people I’ve worked with over the years to chit-chat about working together five years ago. I will be there, spread on a blanket, zoned.

But the great thing about Columbus, when it comes to shows of quality, as said here before, when it rains it pours. Last weekend I could’ve lived without Comfest, as it seemed like the city was treated to a rare, stacked, night of locals and touring acts – all within a mile radius. Let’s start with what I saw, and end with what I wished I saw. If you’ve been reading here, you’ll know that Ipps are fast becoming the best of the next generation Beach bands. It may look like an incestuous CDR pile (or Necropolis without the grizzled one and the technician), or a side-project, but forming great groups out of boredom or stasis and finding fruit in that new realization deserves it’s own corner of the scene. Flanked by Necro’s Bisaro and El Jeezy’s O’Shaw on dual-headed drums, Bo and Emily Davis have crafted some serious pop songs. I balked and balled with the syrupy drip of their slower tunes (on that tape) but the first half of this set displayed volume and muscle, velocity and melody. Again “Bluebirds Over the Mountains” was doom, the centrifuge from where these cretins operate when in Ipps mode. Record Record Now Please. No pics as I was frozen – even this early in the evening.

After that I made my way over to the Summit, where there was another show going on. I missed Deathly Fighter’s short set I suppose. Can’t be in two places at once. They were followed by the first out-of-towners of the night, the Guitars, from Cincinnati. From what I was told, they sound like the Monkees. The drummer was sporting a vintage Pete Rose “4192” shirt (Sept. 11, 1985 – Never Forget) so I was already somewhat in love. I didn’t hear the Monkees, but the certainly know their way around a sugary pop song. I was reminded more of the High Strung, or the Cusacks, or a little Cardinal/High Llamas/Starlight Mints thinking-cap oddity from where I stood. There wasn’t much of a crowd, as if those in the back or to the side weren’t sure what to do with a band not utilizing distortion. Maybe Columbus is afraid of semi-orchestral pop?

As for the next band – now nearly legendary upon the “scene” – the Unholy Two seemed to be having an off night. Don’t hear me wrong, I still adore the “Kutter,” but I just wasn’t feeling it. I’m supposing/assuming that all the elements need to be aligned for Lutzko to take the piss properly – 1. Summit is not the stage/soapbox for him. 2. The crowd was sparse (and soberish), the lights weren’t low, and the sound was meh. 3. The Unholy Two can only go on post-midnight for the werewolf to come out. I thought recent clashes in Iran would be enough fodder to fuel the vitriolic banter that usually pours from mouth of our hero. Guess not. No worries. There’s a meth lab a half a block down likely cooking up some late summer death jams. Still, their performance was a slaughter compared to Austin’s Strange Boys. Keep in mind, the SBs are a young, more than adept, twang-n’-slop garage rock band, coiling in the psychedelic derangements of their central Texas forefathers. The only misgiving is they readily admitted – at least on this night – to never hearing the original acid king, Roky Erickson (a guy who is still kicking and kicking quite well). That’s a crime. Especially since this band apes the United Artists catalog like they could whip out a Sir Douglas cover if the times were tough. They aren’t, the Strange Boys profile keeps growing (signing to Domino?) and exactly what they do, revisionist or not, they do quite well. John Michael couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

I was there for Mika Miko -- a band, along with the Strange Boys, who will be more comprehensively represented on the pages of the Agit-Reader in the coming weeks. These girls talked my fucking ears off (but in the best possible way). I even cut the interview short for brevity’s sake. I would’ve never expected how they operate on stage. Michelle, the hardcore-loving overlord of the group, keeps things afloat – cribbing riffs from Black Flag to Jan und Dean and stashing them into a half-broken po-mo blender of sorts. I couldn’t believe how die-hard they were to execute authenticity. This wasn’t cute. This wasn’t a hardcore approximation. This wasn’t for fuck-god the Donnas or even the Runaways for that matter. This was the real fire-breathing, snot-wielding, blood-letting, deal, and they kept it up for a good 30 minutes straight, never once going up for air, all the while squeaking, wheezing and grunting out pop hooks atop the melee. Go see this band. Much more entertaining in this setting than trying to smash your head to the record. We Be Xuxa is still a stunna’ though.

Signs of my old age bubble up when I’m too whipped to go see the tail end of Saturday’s other monumental show – Psychedelic Horseshit, Circuit des Yeux, Puffy Areolas, and the Yuppies at Carabar – but a risky drive South (the opposite direction of home) and the possibility of not seeing a damn note sent me packing.

Sunday. Father’s Day (refer to Father MC for soundtracking purposes) was spent with Jeff and a Spanish Dog, before shuffling home for the Dirty Projectors show. I had my reservations, seeing them numerous times over the years I was well-aware of the air of pretention that followed the group. Even in March at SXSW I was suspect, as it never seemed as if the group was on the same page. Though it was intriguing and beguiling music, I’ve kept my distance. I was hoping that post-falling-in-love-with-Bitte-Orca would impact the live performance. Weeks on the road, late-night long-hour rehearsals, and the Wex’s glorious sound-system proved me right. Just the vocal acrobatics alone of David Longstreth’s “choir of angels” made the night successful in my eyes. It was a beautiful mess totally rambling and rushing out of control at each turn – bulking up those moments when Longstreth would make his guitar go Yes-crazy and the rest of the group had to struggle to get back in line with his whims. That looked like a feat in of itself. But it held together, loose joints and all. Remaining suspect is his voice. I would really cool it bro, leave it to your ladies. Africa would be proud for once.

To end my weekend, I sauntered over to Summit to catch the Tyvek, who were playing with Pizza Slayer and the Guinea Worms. I rarely miss a Tyvek show, but with the daily grind that was approaching Monday morning, I was exhausted and couldn’t do yet another night of after twelve. Sorry guys (and girl on bass). The cap was my rendition of Bruce Hornsby’s depression-era epic (we’re in one kids) “The Way It Is.” You missed it.


Will You Do 4 Father MC?

Kindo’ wishing we had all this technology back in the spring of 1990 – I’d likely cringe at my outfit from 8th grade (the ubiquitous Malcolm X hat atop a suburban cracker) but would give up my coveted copy of Space Ritual just for a glimpse at what I was carrying around in the Logitech cassette carrier. Even better, to see what I was carrying that in, and what I was playing the collection on. I do know about that time (almost two decades ago!!!) I was bleeding into Danzig/Slayer/Sepultura obsessions and my penchant for hip-hop had been whatever was the most vulgar. Yeah, it was that summer I got busted for possession of G.G. Allin’s Freaks, Faggots, Drunks and Junkies. But for all the contraband I was hording, the metal I was slowly degenerating towards, I was a sucker for New Jack Swing.

At the time it was hard to shake. I could easily post a history of the genre, of which I’ll credit to Teddy Riley (of Guy and Wrecks-n-Effect fame), but you’ll likely know all the major players. In a lot of ways, the fusion of hip-hop with trad-soul, quiet storm come-ons, gospel, and pre-blipster street sense was the result of New Edition’s break-up and growing-up – look at all the splinters that came from that: Bobby started it with Don’t Be Cruel, but Bell Biv Devoe followed up shortly with Poison, and even Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant got in on the fun with “Rub You the Right Way” and “Sensitivity” respectively. New Edition though is already in the Bo Jackson HOF – likewise with Teddy Riley. So here we make the case for Timothy Brown (aka Father MC).

Be forewarned. I’ve recently tried, without much luck, to listen to his debut Father’s Day in its completion. I’m surprised I choked it down way back then. Truth be told, most albums of this genre – fuck -- most hip-hop albums from the era were littered with filler – and besides the obvious two hits – Father’s Day is no exception, which is somewhat a shame because despite the bad rap the era’s lovermen received from their harder counter-contingent (Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D, Candyman), Father MC was skilled – and responsible for launching the careers of Mary J. Blige and Diddy (can’t vouch for the later though). To this day I still jam a ton of NJS and continue to pursue some of the lesser known. A recent summer mix finds Troop butting up against Hi-Five. The highlight of said mix are the two songs by the Father, namely “Treat ‘Em Like They Want to Be Treated” and “I’ll Do 4 U” (a Prince rip if ever, at least in title). While I prefer the gentlemen approach and soulful refrain of “Treat ‘Em,” by sampling the disco hit “Feel So Real,” it would’ve been impossible for “I’ll Do 4 U” not to be a hit on its own, especially with lines like “Introduce me to your mother and I’ll say hello Maim.” Not exactly sure how much Christianity was jostled around in the background, but the Father does get preachy, and seems a little too nice to be a hip-hop celeb, perhaps why a good portion of the album is wholesome choir practice. For a brief moment in time, he had his spotlight, but like his New Jack Swing practitioners, the tune changed rapidly and soon sophisticated safe rap became an endangered species.


Right Now Weird Tapes Rule the Summer

Here comes yet another relatively mysterious and anonymous (one-man?) mixmaster who is eternally indebted to the many frivolities of youth in the 1980s. Weird Tape’s sprightly boogaloo remix of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll” is the one that got my attention – before that I’d never heard of this guy behind the curtain. We do know he’s from the Philly/Jersey side of the tracks.

Linked is his We’re Tapes blog, wherein various remix and originals pop-up among you-tube finds and various exotica. Most of it is tits. If you’re looking for one complete work I highly suggest the two EPs he has for free download here. While I do see similarities to Futurecop, Vega, and the Twelves, I’m also hearing a bit of Girl Talk (he’s using some good samples here) but on an entirely different level – in all there’s a dark side among the synthetic baubles and roller-bounce neon, and if you listen closely you’ll recognize the snippets, sped and chopped, mending into wild climaxes of fluorescent melodies.

To top that off – he’s also the solo Memory Cassette. I suppose this would be his rock project, veering close to the heart of that new romantic, post-pop sound. But going even further, it’s the combination of the two – Memory Tapes – that holds the most intrigue. Go and make sure to listen to “Bicycle” to see what I mean. And considering Memory Tapes have a full-length on the way, it feels he’s funneling all of his effort into this.


Happy International Day of Slayer

June 6th is a holiday I can get behind. I've never really been disappointed by this band, in any capacity (even God Hates Us All had it's moments). Seeing as it's going to be scorching in Ohio today, I can't see myself making it any more hellish by holing up in the basement with South of Heaven. But I do need a fix. I'm thinking Decade of Agression will do. Two discs of greatest hits live. They're touring again this summer -- with a Columbus date. I can vouch for them on stage. Gods.


Summer Jamz '09 - Poolside Bounce

It's that time of year again. Time when all of us former Stylus writers get super-geeky and assemble our Summer Jamz mixtapes. I was lucky enough to be coupled with John Cunningham, who, like me, shares a warm fuzzy love for '80s synth-pop. I think our back and forth meshed well. He suggested some Lisa Lisa for the stew -- so I knew we were one in the same. But alas, no Lisa (you can always add your own "I Wonder if I Take You Home" for good measure) though I think we still kinda killed it.

You can find our Poolside Bounce mix here. Jeff Weiss has been kind enough to host all of our various Summer Jamz on his always excellent Passion of the Weiss site. Believe it.


Ganglians - "To June"

Last Friday I did an interview with Sacramento's Ganglians, where I basically gush about their latest album, Monster Head Room. While not to discredit their debut on Woodsist, Monster Head Room just sounds like a quantum leap forward for this band -- there's a magically creepy and joyous tribal pop vibe going on here. I highly suggest you buy this vinyl before they're all gone. They're almost all gone. While you're at it, convince them to come to Columbus to play on their upcoming, late-summer, East Coast jaunt. I'm more than curious to see how this adventure hippie troupe unfolds in front of me. Above is the video for the Monster Head Room track "To June"