Speedwalking through the Jerusalem Mall

Nice that a band can, in the span of three minutes, carve out, in the lapse/lull between albums, a song that asserts that they kind of rule right about now. You know you're itching to hear everything Eat Skull is cooking up for their next act. "Jerusalem Mall" might not give prescience to what's coming, but it's also not 7" fodder. The biker gang guitar line that drunkenly sears through the song is mighty heavy, metal even, reveling in a carnal scrap-heap of Royal Trux and Chrome records -- still there's a melody encased that proves a narcotic clarity. Eat Skull live by the code of grotesque nihilism and here, the Woodsist debut, is a perfect example. The b-sides, once heard on the excellent Eusta Kill compilation, are leftovers from the Wild and Inside sessions, though not to be deemed b-sides. "Don't Leave Me on the Speaker," in particular, raises the stakes of the band's Guided By Voices fixation. Which I happen to love amongst the muck. More Same Place the Fly Got Smashed.


Poolside with Raw Thrills

We should'a made the kid in Raw Thrills a Rated-Rookie. Fact. Please enjoy NOW what you'll be bumping come SPRINGTIME. This guy's also responsible for the equally nostalgic Greatest Hits.


Romance is Boring

Romance is Boring will do little to change your opinion of Los Campesinos. That's not a slight, just the way it is. I do miss Alexandra, now replaced by the less breathy sister of Gareth, but I'm thinking it's the road across America that gives this version of LC! the heft. They are infectious to their core -- and their aggressive antics have been lassoed in a bit. I'd love to see them replace the Fall-Out Boys in the USA teen angst/melody sweepstakes. That's not a slight, just a hole in the fabric they could fill were they less literate. British punk/pop read books.


Post-Sweatheart Regret

Work and more work, coupled with a depressingly Viking's playoff loss (Hue Blanc is right, Farve did die earlier last year), prevented me from seeing two Columbus shows put on by Sweatheart. But let's not point finger at cross-body passes into coverage. The point is, I've yet to see Thom Lessner's duder charm and nostalgic wit come to life on the stage. I encourage all of you to pick up Tell Your Sister, it's pop with a fluorescent pink creaminess in a Vision Street Wear hoodie.

Luckily Lessner is back in town February 5th with an art show entitled Mall Curb, showing at the Mahan Gallery. Excited for this.


It's a Sweet Tee Kind of Day

As you can see by the quality of this video, Sweet Tee is pretty rare in the rap world. Still, this is one of those memories from religiously watching Yo! MTV Raps back in the day that has stuck with me indefinitely. She recently appeared on that Fly Girls compilation, but something tells me there was more to Toi Jackson than this elusive single. If anyone can find me a copy of It's Tee Time, or even a link to grab it, I'm more than intrigued.


Aboard the (Chill)Wave With Toro Y Moi

When I recently interviewed Chaz Bundick over at the Agit-Reader, I unfairly assumed that his music was constructed with manipulated loops and samples. Little did I know he's an accomplished guitarist and a wizard on the synths. I should have known, in my conscious/subconscious I can't remember something as beautiful as "Blessa" in my youth. He's mainlined all the new romantic I obsess over and managed to filter it through the dreamy world of "chillwave" without succumbing to the flimsiness of some of his "glo-fi" peers. (Neon Indian I'm looking at you). Stop stealing from Sonic the Hedgehog II.


Jay Reatard 1980 - 2010

This is still hard to accept. The guy could amaze and abhor with equal zest. I was always polarized by his music and his persona, but he was hitting his stride. I hope there's another album hidden somewhere in Memphis. Here's some footage I shot a few years back -- this show blew me away. You will be missed.


Bosa Mora - Idol Hopeful/Columbus Native

Just as news surfaced that Simon would be leaving American Idol I began severing all ties with my eight year love affair with this ubiquitous display of pop culture. Yes. I'm a fan. Yes. I sometimes weep when those with heartbreaking stories conquer and head to Hollywood, but I'm already thinking General Larry Platt's "Pants on the Ground was the climax of this season. I'm sick of the audition shows and just waiting for Hell Week when we'll get to see if Columbus native, Bosa Mora, will get any farther. The cards are kind of stacked against him -- he is slightly boring, with no flash or superstar traits -- but researching his career in music it's safe to assume he may have an in once the judges see his skill on the piano and guitar. He's an original composer, rare for the average contestants, so hopefully he can wow them with his own songs. Maybe so, maybe not. I liken his voice to that of the late Teddy Pendergrass -- he'll need to up the smooth operator motif is he wants to survive.

UPDATE: Bosa did not make through the first round of Hollywood week, but assures his fans, via the Columbus Dispatch, that you will eventually see his name in music one way or another.


Things That Make Me Happy: Aroldis Chapman

Just waiting for Aroldis in his head-to-toe Red's uniform. Spring can't come soon enough. Guess this makes up for a disappointing Bengal's season?

Gucci's Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I'll admit to being a full-on virgin when it comes to Gucci, but in the course of a few mixtapes and one listen through this beauty I'm hooked. Of course, as learned on the pages of W.O.W., anything that Diplo touches is pure platinum in my book. I was almost engaged enough to his genius to declare M.I.A.'s Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape the album of the decade (it's still one I listen to at least a few times a week). Well here Diplo takes a handful of tracks from Gucci's Cold War mixtape series, divvies them out to some of his favorite producers (Zomby, Memory Tapes, Flying Lotus, Salem), and then pieces it back together into an instant party jam as only Wes Pentz can do. The empire is being built. Get the whole thing for free here. Well worth the time to download. And it makes a nice case for the cadre of intelligent hoodlums tearing up Atlanta these days. Though I think Pitchfork missed the mark on their review of the Adult Swim: ATL RMX comp. I think it also sits on a pulse where hip-hop and a new generation of abstract thinkers intersect. It's not just bling and syrup....that's ingrained...there's also the future to think about.


Bloggin' on Ke$ha is Required

Like it or not, Ke$ha is ubiquitous in the world of pop these days. It’s like it happened instantaneously. Fast forward two weeks and your mother will be all “I really enjoy that “Tik Tok” song, but what’s with the line about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack?” Well mom, that’s how teenage pop divas cum fragmented electro-hip-hop cyborgs talk on the radio now. Their sexual exploits and hard drinking is commonplace among the water cooler fodder of grade school kids and office workers alike. Extremes of this can be seen as innocently as Miley dry-humping the pole on an ice cream push-cart on the Teen Choice Awards to the Millionaires blatant party antics. If I called it out-of-hand I could also start to call myself old. I actually don’t object to this sort of behavior – women’s rights and all that, but if I had a daughter I might be distraught about the images my kids were seeing day in and day out. In contrast Ke$ha isn’t all that bad, just a bit dirty, a bit of a drunk, a bit reliant on the love of a boy, a bit of a bad speller. Now she’s got a number on hit in “Tik Tok” and a number one album in Animal. But to be fair, I prefer her to the Fergies, Katie Perrys and Lady Gagas of the pop universe, there’s much more pop and innovation in the songs of Animal than one would suspect – that’s likely the work of Dr. Luke and Max Martin, Scandinavian songwriting forces who could resurrect the career of Jordy if that challenge were given to them. As a result, with the prescience that songs like “Your Love is My Drug” and “Kiss and Tell” project, I predict Ke$ha will be around the charts for a while. And words like slut, dick, and Jagermeister will become a staple of pop vernacular. Just you wait. Everyone’s talking ‘bout her, but few will admit there’s some gold in the grit.

But then there’s the case of poor Uffie. I was listening to the Justice/Ed Banger affiliated chanteuse’s body of work this weekend (which amounts to about one good EP of songs) and was floored to realize she’s been kicking around for over five years. There are highlights for sure, but it looks like she’s missed the boat to stardom, ‘specially since Ke$ha has pretty much swiped Uffie’s penchant for raps that don’t rhyme (Paul Barman-syndrome) and bratty euphemisms that make little sense but sound cute under auto-tune (M.I.A./Missy) rolled into a somewhat suburban Caucasian blockhead flow that sounds remotely street-influenced – it’s effective, but it’s Uffie who perfected it first, there’s really no mistaking that. Check out the video below. While I’m digging on Ke$ha these days, I’m still holding out hope that Ms. Uff can regain the throne she never got the chance to sit in. Stay tuned.


Roseanne is Comfort Food/Insulation

I’m in no respect a television commenter thought I follow along with more shows than I should in maintaining a healthy diet. During the winter months in Ohio, the tv glow can be just as warming as the furnace vents – looking out the window into icy desolation, hearing a live sports broadcast or thirty minutes of local news seems to keep me connected to the outside world. Lately, the same blanket of comfort has come from hearing Roseanne Barr’s laugh at the end of the sax-crazed intro to her self-titled sitcom. Thank goodness TV Land has re-indoctrinated me into this blue-collar masterpiece. With an average four re-runs a night, I can fall asleep to the bickering of middle America, circa ’92, and doze off with a feeling I’m living my youth all over again. There’s a reason Roseanne is so ingrained into my psyche. In the last season, one I can honestly say I was too grown to notice back in 1998, Roseanne is approached to do a show about her life because “people want to see themselves on prime time” (the role of the television producer was played by Super Dave Osbourne/Funkhauser). And that’s likely the reason my family tuned in week in and week out. We may not have been as working-class and hill jack as the Connors, but there was certainly a coupon-clipping/pizza-ordering/cramped-quarters culture to the Elliott’s while living on Walnut St. in Troy, OH. All those early seasons were filled with situations that involved working overtime at the plant, fixing broken shit around the house, and parent-teacher conferences because of Darlene’s proto-alternative behavior – it was real life, it was a reflection of our life, and many times you wondered if the Connor’s actually lived next door. In a strange coincidence, Roseanne and Dan even invested in a loose-meat sandwich luncheonette modeled after Greenville’s Maid-Rite parlor. It’s even rumored she flied there during the week to stock up on boxes full of the things.

But along the way, something happened to the funny, something happened to that reality. I was lucky/unfortunate enough to catch TV Land’s re-run cycle during the final season of the show – but the Connor’s world had changed dramatically. Things started getting a bit too real on the show. Dan has a heart attack, the family wins the lottery, Dan cheats and leaves, Roseanne’s mother becomes a lesbian (albeit befriending the only hilarity of this season – the gay coupling of Martin Mull and Fred Willard), Jackie discovers it’s her fate to die a lonely, single, mom, Darlene and David have a nearly-dead premature baby that only faith can revive…and meanwhile the only interesting plotline is DJ discovering indie film and sex with Weiner Dog (but he was terrible child actor to say the least). Pure bummer, all of it. To top things off, the last episode reveals the entire season was one big story written by Roseanne after Dan dies from his heart attack. What? Are you kidding me? How did I not know this? Here are those final moments to choke on. You’d think maybe a reunion is in order to see exactly how the Connors have survived these hard economic times or who would play Becky this time out or if they could pull off the comic genius that was (at least) the first four seasons of the show. I think Roseanne Barr owes that to the world.


Wild Nothing is Seasonal Bliss

Captured Tracks have seemingly gone off the deep end recently, releasing more records than they logistically should in such a small span of time - three months. So many, I would have to basically dedicate most of my Primitive Futures column to keep up. That's something I wished I had the time to do, but I'm not going.

In the last batch there was one particular stand-out -- almost as if this breezy 7" had been a summer leftover. Virginia's Wild Nothing do channel all the wonderful shambolic dream-pop that others have recently mined -- Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Memory Tapes, jj) but the measure of this type of nostalgic pining comes in the details, the subtleties, the amount of arm hair raised in a throwback like the wonderful a-side "Summer Holiday." Had this come in the middle of July it may have been lost in the shuffle, as it's somewhat nameless, action-less, veiled in gauze. Here, amongst the deep freeze, those jangled guitars and lush waves of vocal indifference and heartache provide a thaw, a remembrance that sun-filled skies will reign again. But it's not a seasonal thing, you can warp yourself back to that time with any music. Wild Nothing's first breakthrough, and subsequent singles (as well as a cover of Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting") is about transport, transcendence, bliss and love -- things that can easily survive in feet of snow, just depends on the mood of the listener. So maybe this is mood-ring music. It still feels, smells, and sounds, like eternal happiness to me.


Wolf People in the Midnight Circus

Tidings, the first U.S. release from London's Wolf People, isn't released until February, but there is plenty on the 'nets and in the vault that will suitably prep you for the album's arrival. My conversation with Jack Sharp was enlightening. I was worried that Sharp may be taking the entire psych-blues revival of his band a bit too far -- and I've never really been one for the retro-feelin' it-headband motif. But Tidings is different and Sharp, formally a hip-hop producer, knows the exact roots he wants to ferment. Namely, that would be the Ladbroke Grove circuit that included bands like Mighty Baby, Spooky Tooth, the early Hawkwind, Edgar Broughton, The Deviants, and Pink Fairies -- diamonds I really dig but know little about. I knew our conversation was going in the right direction when we started discussing the need for children to know about that history -- about the Groundhogs and the Family, and especially an album like Parachute by the Pretty Things (one of my all-time favorites). In fact, a colleague of Sharp's compiled a Ladbroke retrospective Cries from the Midnight Circus back in 2007 (which coincidentally takes it's name from a song from Parachute). It's essential listening, if only to dig a little deeper into what was, until now, a British treasure unearthed in the States. Here's a fairly comprehensive essay on the Ladbroke scene and links to find a copy of the comp.

And here's a little Wolf People to whet your appetite in anticipation for Tidings.