Weekend at Westcott

Little did I know about the impact Springfield, Ohio had on the agricultural history of our country. It was where International Harvester was founded around the turn of the century and often battled Chicago as thee number one producer of agricultural implements. That boom resulted of course from the inclusion of Old National Road (RT. 40) passing directly through Clark County onto Richmond, Indiana, and a crossroads toward Chicago. So, as I discovered on my recent trip to Springfield, it was once home to some very wealthy men in the early 1900s. One of them was Burton Westcott, who traveled from his birthplace of Richmond, to start the Westcott Motor Car Company in Springfield.

What was most significant about his life however, was his decision to have Frank Lloyd Wright design a home for his family in the center of the (at the time) extremely progressive city. Westcott House was built in 1908 and remains to this day Wright’s only prairie style house in Ohio. While there’s a certain amount of modesty in Wright’s design for Westcott in terms of the use of space and the home’s exterior, he did not spare an ounce of detail when it came to the intricacies and Japanese influence that accompanies the interior – right down to the furniture that would fill the rooms and the type of stone used to make the fireplace.

Touring the home, which was restored after years of decay in 2001, was a great way to spend a Saturday with the family. I felt like a Sunday driver going beyond mere museums, but came out completely obsessed with finding as many Wright homes as I can see in my lifetime. I could go on about the various rooms, nooks and crannies or anecdotes about the Westcott family in the home, but Phyllis, our tour guide, is unparalleled in her knowledge of the house. I would highly recommend a visit in the near future, at least in time to see it when the flowers are still in bloom.

Our trip was so rewarding that we went on a hunt for a building FLW designed in Dayton, not too far down the road. While it’s been hard to find any info on the Kenneth Meyers Medical Center (now a clinic for plastic surgery) and even if it was somewhat underwhelming (especially after our visit to Westcott) it still was a structure that was accented by the environment around it, it still had a distinctive modern stamp that was all Wright, and if above all else, it still is an alternative to what we consider “normal” architecture – not a triumph in his career, sure, but nice to look at.

And of course, no leisurely weekend would be complete without a visit to Greenville -- Annie Oakley Days (another story, another time) -- and the Maid-Rite gum wall. Right?



Seriously....e-mail the Commissioner's office and ask that hack to think about it. I want to see this happen in my lifetime. My father deserves it.

That is all.

But bonus....just found this local news clip regarding his record breaking hit. This was the section I was in on September 11th (spooky coincidence I know) 1985. Unfortunately you can't see me on my uncle's (hero's) shoulders, throwing our scorecard and pencil onto outfield. Back then, we called it the green seats.


Blues Control Come Out of the Ether

While I'm still dissecting the infinite layers of Local Flavor, the third, latest, and greatest addition to the Blues Control mythology, one thing is for certain -- the duo of Lea Cho and Russ Waterhouse want out of the lo-fi junk drawer. This is found in the first couple minutes of the album when the blaring horns starts to swarm around their luxurious guitar/keys/burrow-beat combustion. Please go read my interview with them over at the Agit-Reader, then go searching for their other records if you don't already have them. Not sure if I could sum up Puff any better than this guy (watch this!). And further along, see them live, or scour the web for some live footage. I've provided a jumping point.


Poolside with Dan Hartman/ Yah Mo

While all this talk about the “sunny” / “shimmering” summer musiques seemingly pouring out of all cisterns of the world, these writers are forgetting to mention what it is truly rooted in – something Simon Reynolds dubbed post-pop or massive statements made by the New Romantics or club jams turned upside-down, put to nap, and stuffed with feathers. I’m loving the bulk of it – if a bit derivative over the course of a full-length (I’m looking at you jj) – and just wish these groups would succumb to careers filled with 12” singles, chalk up six of ‘em, and be done. But we’re also forgetting another element of Poolside bliss – a genre of ‘80s pop. If John Hughes soundtracks can dominate one end of the spectrum, then the other side must be inhabited by what? Huey Lewis/Kenny Loggins ultra-slick, over-processed, faux-blue-eyed-soul-cum-e-street-bombast? When digging through the Poolside crates this summer I stumbled upon a mixtape made in the late ‘90s I dubbed the “My Two Dads Mix,” including such mellow hits as Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey,” Moody Blue’s “Your Wildest Dreams,” and two particularly ubiquitous songs from the ‘80s that most of us seem to have shoved back into our subconscious. Namely Michael McDonald’s “Sweet Freedom” and Dan Hartman’s “I Can Dream About You.” Both songs seem to ooze with station wagon vacation n’ beachside plastic euphoria – the eternal muzak of flip-flops and capri-suns, and/or sandy floormats and coppertone. This was certainly pop, just made by old white men for Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines fueled vehicles and lobster lunches in sweltering July. Surprisingly these, regardless of their fluff factor, sit well next to Madonna and MJ or any danceable UK import that was burning up the charts. Where are the British in this beach/romantic revival?

Bonus -- How about a little Rod Stewart (Beach Version)


Smitten With PENS

Make sure to watch this deliciously trippy and rightfully retro video for the PENS sing-a-long "High in the Cinema." Then go over and read the review I did with them on the Agit-Reader. They are soon coming stateside, but sadly, not through the Midwest. Maybe next time, as I think a pairing with Times New Viking would be ideal.


Fast Life Yungstaz Y'all and the State of Pop Culture

Disclaimer: In order to truly enjoy this post, it will be necessary to click on all links, in proper order, and likely (if you're at work) you'll need headphones.

So far, it has been a summer of discovering monstrosities in all shapes, sizes, genders, and colors. Have you witnessed Brokencyde yet? Did you see how Aquarius made it an album of the week? Or what about the Millionaires? I'm sure their fathers are proud (or dead/beats). And lastly, the crabcore brilliance of Columbus' pride and joy, Attack, Attack. Still, the train-wreck value is priceless, much like my obsession with the Secret Life of the American Teenager and slight fanaticism for those VH1 dating shows (Who's gonna' get Daisy's heart?) I can't stop digging for more pop culture trash. It's as if Idiocracy is happening right now, fuck 50 years down the road. But really.....we've had "trash" for a while...

I'm not exactly sure where F.L.Y., AKA the Fast Life Yungstaz fit into this spectrum. They've got a lot of things going for them. First -- they're from the South, Decatur, GA to be specific, sothere's that durty durty swagger in their walk and talk. Secondly -- they also appear to be blipsters more than cash money millionaires, check out the clothes they stole from Kanye's walk-in closet. And last but not least, my favorite attribute, they apparently know all to well about the latest beach craze sweeping indie rock. Search for "Party Time" and listen to them rap "totally gnarly" with "Chris Farley," or how they'll "ride the waves" and how it's "freakin' awesome dude," or how about a little "cowabunga" for good measure. For the trivia nerds "cowabunga" actually originated from an Indian with a mustache on the Howdy Doody Show (later adopted by surfers and of course Bart Simpson).

Once you get past the ignorant/hyper-ironic juxtaposition of Southern hip-hop and surf wax jargon, the music is quite intriguing mixing music box melodies with what sounds like a Nintendo sound card melted by the Georgia sun. These guys have promise once a Diplo remix drops. So, the question is, are F.L.Y. prescient of a new trend in hip-hop? Is the age of Beach Rap upon us? I mean the Shop Boyz did take things to a rock star extreme last summer, but this goes beyond that. The Yungstaz have even created their own dance, Swagg Surfing, which imitates, well, you guessed it....

And just so you know...I invented the "Whisper Rap" and want my money Ying Yang twins.


Spanish Prisoners Confuse Which Coast They're On

I’ve been sitting on this new Spanish Prisoners extended play for some time now. Perhaps it’s the fact that it was culled from a digital link and hence I have no physical format to sink my teeth into. Computer speakers will never do your music justice, for this moment forth demand your record label sends out actual packaged music (sorry for the rant). Anyways, I was also somewhat turned off by the direction I had imagined Columbus ex-pat Leo Maymind was headed by the title. Los Angeles Guitar Dream somewhat implies that he’s going for the beach, not our beach, but the West Coast bum equipped suncatchers who endlessly rustle the summer Mr. Wilson lost his mind – and that road only leads to the ocean at high-tide. I’m looking at you Black Canary.

I should have listened to the insistent e-mails from Maymind that I listen to this, ‘cause this ex-pat has made good with his new enclave of equally heartbroken/heartglowing NYC musicians. The title track does seem to soak up salty air, but as a vampiric wonderer, looking up at the moon instead of seeing the flesh-burning daylight. I’ve always suggested he has a hefty debt to pay to Oberst, here it’s getting harder to dissuade that thought, but his interplay between mood, be it shy shuffle in the reverberations of organ and effect he surrounds himself in like a comfy security blanket or when he shifts into a more direct point towards the subject of his misery – the city, the lover, the memories. He doesn’t exactly attack, but the guitars are crisp, clean, and punctual. If surf was the order of the day then “Ask Isaac Asimov” is the shell that echoes the waves. I was really taken aback at the amount of cheeriness and melody that floats here – especially considering the beautiful dread of his debut. This reminds me fondly of records by Beulah (sans horns) or the Tyde, bands that weren’t exactly pushing the envelope, but also weren’t exactly digging for pet sounds.

Go to the site. Buy this 7". Listen to their magnificent Daytrotter session. Profess your love, even if it's fleeting.


The Reason Washington Beach Exists

After somewhat obsessing over Circuit des Yeux’s sophomore album last week (see post below) it was par for the course that I go see Haley Fohr in her other incarnation – as one-half of Cro-Magnon. Never seen them as a duo before, and I’d always thought she was the drummer, but roles were reversed on this summer bummer of a Monday night. Why oh why do we drag ourselves out? You should. A bill such as this (with Fey Gods, Psychedelic Horseshit, Deathly Fighter, and the aforementioned Cro-Magnon) would play to packed houses in any other city, or so I wish. We managed to pull what seemed like a little over 20 lonely souls into the decrepit warmth of Bourbon Street. Of course, things started much too late, but besides that, it goes down in the book of legends as either the absolute worst or ultimately transcendent Psychedelic Horseshit show ever. Really. I suppose that was the only reason I was there on a school night.

Fey Gods don’t get represented enough in this town (and being snubbed for the coveted Band to Watch tag isn’t what I’m talking about). Maybe they tend to drag out their evil moog-n-gut-guitar stomp a bit too long for my tastes and maybe the Grave Blankets (with drummer) provided a bit more stank groove to satiate me, but I’m beginning to warm to their electronic tarpit as I see Lula is becoming more and more comfortable wailing away at the controls. It’s as if she’s becoming one with the machine, and though her warble down the well is devastatingly close to the line of the “crimson wave” (sic) haunted hummers (see Zola, CdY, US Girls) she’s got a distinctive voice. Not to mention her grisly counterpoint/companion, Nick, who slithers through ritualistic post-grunge like a man possessed. Perhaps that’s why these coarse blasts take so long to uncoil – they’re in the pagan zone. I don’t think there’s a harder working duo on the beach.

Reveling in his latest PR clusterfuck, Matt Horseshit was sans band, sans Rich, and sans discretion for this show. He’s looked to assemble an arsenal of samplers and fantastical loops to inject into his rather primitive songwriting formulas. All those wires and connections though, got splintered and spoiled this night. It was Jesus Jones for sure, and given that he’s got a penchant for the Panda Bear/El Guincho line of enlightenment, he’s veering towards an all-inclusive electronic album. I certainly wouldn’t mind. Still, pulling it all together is a comedy of errors, as it was on this night. The first song had incredible promise (the Major Lazer album is in the playlist) but was frequently interrupted by BoBo’s immaculate sound system – so fifteen long, tedious, uncomfortable minutes went by, and Mr. H seemed to not even acknowledge his small audience. After the technical difficulties were resolved, the crowd had stuck with him and were ready for more disaster (ed.note – disaster in a PHS show is a compliment). What proceeded was the equivalent of Matt spinning around his practice space, baked to a crisp, pushing buttons and looping lines, twisting knobs and chanting from his notebooks (or are these quips from memory). There were a couple of insanely chaotic shoegaze risers that were layered and layered beyond comprehensible melody – he was hoping to open the M83 show this weekend methinks. All I can translate is that this foray into “making a Radiohead album” is not a pipe dream. It soon might be a reality. That is if the KLF and Shadow Ring hijacked the sessions. Keep watch kids.

Things get kind of blurry after Psychedelic Horseshit shows, not exactly from imbibing (though that helps), but from the blur that escapes from the stage. Warp zone to Cro-Magnon. They’ve grown chops from some hardcore touring and though Haley is the maestro, strangling the guitar on this side of Lambsbread, Katie rules the roost of this outfit – playing drums standing up, keeping the boat afloat, in their (way more) primitive distillation of Kleenex anti-punk. Whoa, Lambsbread came to mind only because it was a joke tossed repeatedly from the stage that night. Cro-Magnon sound nothing like that defunct band, instead of shredding they pound. Imagine the earliest snarls of Sonic Youth tabbed out on slam-books in a rural Indiana group-home for teen runaways. Pre-meditated mutilations, scabs and nicks, oil-drum fire choirs, under-age death prattle. By now it was way past my bedtime, but this duo knows when to say when (at least from a performance perspective) and shut it down in swift fashion, highlighting “A Hole” in the first fleeting moments and rumbling to a halt about ten minutes later. Late night stunner. Keep watch kids.

Unfortunately…..it was rumored that Deathly Fighter were playing their last show. Frown. I don’t think this was the arena for that to happen. And double-unfortunately the siren call was beckoning me to Lil’ Vegas, so if this was the last show I missed it. All I can do is apologize. All you can do is beg for them to stick around. And drop that record at least.

Here's a new rendition of Horseshit's "I Hate the Beach"...


Circuit des Yeux/Cro-Magnon = World Domination

Today over at the Agit-Reader, I used this week's Primitive Futures column to fawn over the new Circuit des Yeux album on De Stijl and the 7" just released on Dull Knife. These are two records that work quite well in tandem by exploring all sides of Haley Fohr's warped sense of creation. Given that I wasn't the biggest fan of her debut, Symphone, her latest, Sirenum, is all that more powerful by simultaneously creeping the hell out of me (her vox) and blowing me away (her sonics). Such a leap forward. So please go read the review. Then use these links to go buy the records. And if you find yourself in Columbus on Monday night, go see her band Cro-Magnon live at Bourbon Street. Psychedelic Horseshit, Deathly Fighter, and should'a been Band to Watch, Fey Gods round out an excuse to have a Tuesday hangover.

Cro-Magnon are devastating live. Here's proof:


Wrapping Heads Around Oneida's Rated O

Not exactly sure what to call the fans of Oneida? Is there a word that defines us? Those who, no matter how lackluster an Oneida album may be(i.e. Secret Wars), cling to every release as if it's psychedelic treasure. Finally had to the chance to talk with the band and see them live last summer at the fabulously surreal Terrastock in Louisville -- all that time waiting for this bomb to drop. They've been talking about Rated O for years, maybe as far back as their last extended album, Each One, Teach One. Rated O was released this week. Here's my review. I'm completely under the impression that haven't had nearly enough time with this monster. I mean, c'mon, it's six sides of music. Even the excellent review over at Dusted had some reservations about the scope and size of this thing. It will take much more time to fully digest, and it will also take the effort to put in the time to digest -- a feat many casual fans of the band will likely not possess. Does this mean Rated O is indulgent or already a misunderstood masterpiece of psychedelia? Dusted has even gone as far as debating/second-guessing their review with Kid Millions of the band. It makes for an interesting perspective and I'm irked I didn't think of a column like this first. Go buy this.


Times New Viking Announce Born Again Revisited

Finally. 'Tis not going to win the band any more fans with the addition of "25% more fidelity," but those who are fans will undoubtedly chalk this up as a grower, and then a masterpiece. Songs just keep getting better.

Via the Matablog:

A pox on those who claim the venerable VHS format is dead -- in fact, Times New Viking delivered the master recordings to their forthcoming LP/CD/digital album ‘Born Again Revisited’ (OLE 860) on a Video Home System cassette. Addressing the mountain of constructive criticism they’ve received from self-styled musicologists wanna-be producers and persons with my initials, the Columbus based trio promise their 2nd Matador album (and 4th overall) features “25% higher fidelity”, a percentage our own engineering staff has confirmed after hourse of exhaustive laboratory tests.

Much has been made in the press of late of Cheap Trick’s attempts to steal Adam, Beth and Jared’s thunder by releasing their upteenth comeback album on 8-track, but with all due respect to the state fair fixtures Rockford’s finest, it’s been a generation since they’ve come up with anything as provocative as ‘Born Again Revisited’’s “Move To California” or “No Time No Hope”. While Times New Viking continue to make-it-look-easy, I can assure you it’s anything but that. A cursory glance at the American rock underground reveals a landscape littered with well-intentioned but vastly inferior bands who’ve caught the lo-fi bug ; Times New Viking are well advised to disavow responsibility for the epidemic, but whoever the guilty party is, the ferocity of TNV’s shows and their sheer quality of their songwriting should be enough to win them a presidential pardon, not unlike the one ‘Born Again’ author Chuck Colson never quite received.

Preview "No Time, No Hope", one of many classics on BAR, out September 22nd.


Huntington Park is a Gem

Infrequent posts? I’ve been enjoying my summer and the lower-than-average temperatures the Ohio weather has provided. I began my Independence Day weekend with my first trip to Huntington Park – besides the arena (I despise hockey) it’s the crown jewel of the Arena District. First of all, it’s perfectly located (though I would have preferred it along the river or in the Brewery District) at least within this neighborhood, with very easy access on and off the interstate, as not to brush up against the frog-bear white collared crowd. For future Clippers games, I can simply check-in and check-out. And when there is traffic, I’ll just lament Cooper Stadium and the absolute isolation that field battled with our suburban folk. With Huntington Park everything’s “safe,” everything’s shiny and new, and for me there’s nothing wrong with comfort.

It seemed from the time we entered, there were multiple spots to view the game, not just your standard “sections” and “bleachers,” but benches perched in odd, but high enough to see, locations, a grassy knoll in the outfield, a Roosters standing room only bar, even views from the exit where those who didn’t choose to buy a ticket could watch. And within those “reserved” sections it appeared the field was designed with maximum sight lines. We say in Section Two, down the right field line, and were angled for a perfect shot of home plate and the scoreboard. It reminded me quite a bit of Dayton’s Fifth Third Field, but on a larger scale, with PLENTY of food stands (dogs on pretzel buns, elephant ear fries, local brew in big cups) and ephemera to attract the bored children – you could even leave to smoke and come back. All of these luxuries seem to be non-existent from both big league parks in our immediate vicinity.

As for the game – I’ve always been a hometown Clippers fan, even when they were the Yankees. I’m still a fan of the Clippers, even if they are the Indians (Ohio pride I suppose), but will refuse to root when the Louisville Bats are in town. This contest was indeed a titanic struggle for the Toledo Mudhens, who gave up 8 runs in the first and were unable to recover till the end. The amazing thing is, even with the smack down the Clippers provided there was enough to amuse our posse in the stadium to keep us there till the end. Fireworks would’ve been nice, but the ketchup, mustard, relish race had to suffice.

I’ll be back.