On the page, San Diego's Gogogo Airheart, in the eyes of revisionist history, are one to leave in the dustbin, a band that has grown more pretentious and forgettable with time. It's a shame though. Methinks they were just stuck in the middle, misunderstood, ahead of their days. The Airheart were wedged between the More Than Music post-rock legion and the dawn of the disco-punk flashpot. And while both of those poles haven't aged all that well (show me your Radio 4 records kids), Gogogo Airheart's ExitheUXA has become a swirling mess of rickety psychedelia and wiry punk trips played up like a teenage Amon Duul, occasionally dubbed-out and blown-out, scattered and shuffled, wonderfully dotted with hash marks where the quartet were truly pushing the envelope.
I imagine at the time they were slighted as being a West Coast copy of Make-Up, as singer Micheal Vermillion's screeching, warbled pants and chants closely resembled Ian Svenonious' wails. And by trying their best at modernizing the Public Image Limited, it was inherent that some of their rhythms would resemble the same beat being employed by lesser bands of the time like the Rapture and Moving Units -- it was something everyone was doing, a reason Gang of Four records were in vogue more than ever, and a simple trend that evaporated quicker than a Southern California rainstorm. ExitheUXA didn't dwell on those punctuations (except for maybe the record's most populous offering, "When the Flesh Hits")or pronounce themselves as a dance band, even if you could seizure your way through the crowd to what they did on the stage. The album was more obtuse, idiosyncratic, veering through some very heavy guitar jams ("Last Goodbye") before coming up for air with atonal no waving.
Let's face it, not much of the GSL/Troubleman/Hydrahead graduating class made a record worth keeping in this new decade. Being removed that long, it's easy to look back and laugh at the awful music we paid money to hear. Gogogo Airheart were different. They were attacking from different corners and listening to a much wider swath of older, obscuro records (and reggae!, check out "Witch Hunt"). I can even see their influence slightly in one of my favorite Columbus bands -- El Jesus De Magico -- a group that could harsh on a groove endlessly, appear to improv into the ether, but bring it all back as if it was in the stones all along. Seek this record out, by any means.
Sub. Ref. diggin'
If I had to name my all-time favorite athlete, it would have to be Mr. Bo Jackson -- he of the NFL Oakland Raiders and the MLB Kansas City Royals. It was a tragedy befitting Shakespeare when the Cincinnati Bengals injured Jackson's hip beyond repair and retirement was inevitable, ending his career far short of what it was destined to become. Perhaps the first man inducted into both Hall of Fames. Just look at how the man ran a football., the only other RB I can mention in the same sentence is Barry Sanders. There were other two-sport athletes, but none as prolific as Bo. Hell, I even have some long-standing resentment towards the Bengals for this blunder. He really was everything to everybody, never seemed to juice, never seemed to ego, just went about his business as a professional. In Tecmo Bowl he was legend. In merchandising he was king. So much was his influence I was forced to buy these atrocities at one point, not living another day happy until they were upon my feet.
Why this post? And why now? Well, he did pitch the first pitch at the Home Run Derby -- a small step towards regaining the frenzy once bestowed upon him in the late '80s. And he's speaking out about that past, especially so in this interview with USA Today. Before now he's successfully stayed out of the spotlight, but I encourage him to jump back in. Think of it. There's no allegiance to any team whatsoever. No LeBron controversies (Heat vs. Cavs). No Favre flip-flopping. No hating on the Red Sox and Yankees (and Braves, and Cards, and Astros). Just Bo -- a franchise unto himself.
Plus I thought it apt to include this here since he is the namesake of the most widely read column on this site. Let's just bask in his glory for a minute. Maybe buy up a jersey, break out the NES, and over saturate yourself in the infinite number of youtubes focused on his career. He is truly missed in the world of sports.
In writing this, I promised myself not to turn this blog into a foodie column as I already have enough...ahem...on my plate beyond W.O.W. Plus, the ongoing Chili Quest is enough eating to last a thousand summers. But, I wanted to expound the virtue of a food staple that has become a Columbus institution -- Jeni's Ice Creams. See, I grew up in an Ice Cream Family, with freezer always filled with Friendly's half-gallons and sundae cups spilling out of the basement unit. We were ever loyal to my father's brand, but ever since his departure from the company many years back we've been allowed to experiment past the Friendly's counter.
Jeni's signature flavor has always been Salty Caramel. It's a flavor that I actually crave. I'll drive miles to hit up a Jeni's just for a scoop, even in the middle of winter. I thought it was a flavor that couldn't possibly be topped -- that is until this summer. I must admit, the seasonal harvest blend of Ohio Sweet Corn and Fresh Black Raspberries (with a breath of honey and sea salt) might be the most incredible ice cream flavor ever concocted. It's honestly hard for me to explain here in words. The description claims it's trying to achieve "the essence of summer in Ohio" and I'd have to say that's fairly apt. Corn as an ice cream flavor might sound somewhat oft-putting to most, but my palette can assure you, don't be frightened -- it works. A pint of this will certainly be on my list of "things that made the summer of 2010 endless."
...Well sort of. My Agit-Review of Deth Red Saboath is fairly glowing, mentioning that this might be the best pure Danzig record since the "classic" line-up did Danzig IV (featuring Eerie Von, John Christ, Chuck Biscuits, and Rick Rubin on production) and I'm sticking by that assertion. Since that time it's been rough for Glenn -- though he hasn't let old age or "creamy dressings" attack his chiseled physique. First, there was the loss of the aforementioned band. Then there was the series of releases with the "new" band, on a lesser label. Danzig was my first interview on KBUX my freshman year at the Ohio State University (if anyone has this tape? please?). He was touring for V: BlackAcidDevil and I distinctly remember his handlers telling me any Misfits questions were a "no go." Being that Danzig was as wide as I was tall (though I was taller than him) I refrained. I remember him being very cordial though and answering my questions with an invigorated sense of artistry that he attributed to this, his fifth solo album. Looking back, Danzig was trying desperately at that moment to remain vital -- adding hyper-distortion and mechanized beats to the overzealous playing of his latest guitarist Tommy Victor (of Prong fame)-- in an age when Marilyn Manson ruled metal (remember then?). The fact was, Danzig had fallen off, especially without Rubin to accent his crooner macabre. Why he didn't ever resurrect the "real" Misfits is a long-fabled soap-opera that may never be resolved. Now we have the cartoon Misfits wrecking it all for future generations.
Poor Danzig. Subsequent albums failed even worse fates, painting Danzig as a mockery of the foundation he sowed in that '90s heyday. Unfortunately, in most circles he has become a punchline. Maybe it was the infamous "punch-out" that knocked him from an immortal throne. There was once a time when I found his theatrics, his voice, his songs, evil as they come -- even though I knew it was an elaborate put-on. Damn if you didn't think the tape insert for II: Lucifuge, unfolding into an inverted cross wasn't masterful packaging. Opposed to the truly evil exploits of bands like Deicide, Morbid Angel, Carcass, and Death, Danzig's PR was all smoke and mirrors, a few well-placed skulls, a killer logo, and ample use of film noir (abuse of shadow). I suppose, if in fact this was all his doing, Glenn Danzig was the Orson Welles of '90s horror-metal.
But who shall remember that now? It's been six years since his seventh album, Circle of Snakes, and all we really know him for is his "grocery list."
That said. I've been listening to Deth Red Saboath for several weeks now and have not retreated to those first four albums yet. That is certainly saying something. There's enough here to warrant a comeback -- a yearning to see the man live, even if it's not the "best" band to back him. Reunion anyone? Here's a preview of the record, with snippets of each and every song. And below...the sole reason I'm still paying attention to Danzig in 2010.
I promised you a new mix and here it is. I've been thinking heavily about the chill and the relax and how not living within close proximity to beach culture really limits the Midwest's propensity for vibes akin to these sine-wave-curving upstarts. We be drawn to water no matter where we live -- just like the open road, the wanderlust of the river is usually overpowering this time of year. Head off and eventually you'll find the sea. So this mix -- even more of a nostalgia trip than before -- is synthetic in its attempt to re-live the sunset on the surf, and absolutely real in its mission of being poolside, or knee-deep in the creek. Or the Great Miami. Like the exhaling little brother to the last mix. Enjoy. (For those who still haven't picked up the Maxi Single Summer Mix, it is now located HERE. Right Click Link to Save.)
2010 Double River Rainbow Mix (Right Click to Save)
1. Ollie and Jerry – “There’s No Stopping Us”
2. Aaliyah – “Back and Forth”
3. My Mine – “Hypnotic Tango”
4. Goodwill Falcon – “Gameboy Camera”
5. Scarlett and Black – “You Don’t Know”
6. The-Dream – “Yamaha”
7. Emeralds – “Double Helix”
8. Sipho Mabuse – “Burn Out”
9. Double – “Captain of Her Heart (Extended Mix)”
10. Keep Shelley in Athens – “Fokionos Negri Street”
11. Twin Sister – “Lady Daydream”
12. Spectral Display – “It Takes a Muscle to Fall in Love”
13. Oriol – “JAM”
(A World of Wumme Production, 2010)
I'm trying my best to not turn into one of those dime-a-dozen empeethree blogs, that basically recycle every press release they get throughout the day into what they consider a newsbit. It's just an empeethree kids, posting it will get you hits, but not street cred. That said, I got very excited when I saw that Zola Jesus has yet another incredible release on the way -- Stridulum II, the follow up the Stridulum from earlier in the year. If you've read here or over at the Agit-Reader for the last few years, we've been in love from first bite. Nika has come a long way from that initial 7" from Die Stasi and this new track proves it. When I interviewed her last year, I asked her about being a pop artist eventually -- she has never ruled that out. Maybe the Dark Lord's Madonna? Well -- this re-recording of "Sea Talk" from the Tsar Bomba EP is the closest thing to "Live to Tell" I've heard since Madonna did it. The song has always been there, the vocals, the melody, but it just needed some black-light histrionics and inside-out neon to shine it into a late-night club classic. The Evolution will
Dixie Chili, my third try (fourth if you include Skyline, who are now in the running) in the Chili Quest, has been my most ambiguous pilgrimage yet. Its' been there, on Monmouth St. in Newport, Kentucky since 1929. Depending on your belief of Dixie's storied past, founder Nicholas Sarakatsannis was a defector or a loyal subject to his boss at Empress Chili and moved his operation far enough across the Ohio River to be an individual, bringing the "sauce" for the first time to Kentucky and what still seems like "Sin City" (more on that later). As for this parlor, it was spotless and inviting, set-up exactly as a traditional parlor is, with large white trays (that I wanted to steal) that ran through a typical lunch line. Every order is made to order, with a scant amount of hot spice and oyster crackers at hand.
Dixie is likely, due to its location, an expatriate recipe, kept the same since '29 with little influence from the Yankees across the river. Though it had the consistency of your base (Skyline/Camp Wash) to a degree, it was minus the sweet, the tang. I grabbed for the Texas Pete for my second coney. The cheese, a neon tangerine mass, always is a constant. It wasn't a horrible experience, but I'll have to put it to a tie with Gold Star -- the lack of flavor, made up for with the freshly cooked beef, was to average to rank above Camp Washington (still the champ, for now).
But the visit was all the more worth it because of its location. I've always known Newport, KY for three things -- the Southgate House, cheap parking below the levee, and the occasional detour for cheap cigarettes and liquor. Never had I ventured down Monmouth St., the business district of this once bustlin' river town. Our casual walk down Monmouth was a bit of a revelation, a bit of a time-warp, and a bit of a sociological vacuum.
Not much has changed, as you can see in the turn of the turn of the century architecture that lines the streets -- old theaters left to rot, rehabilitated churches, scary but charming pubs, extinct business fronts turned to liquor stores. From what I've read, Newport used to have it all. It was a very active alternative to uptight Cincinnati, boasting gambling, bootlegging, prostitution, and the gangsters that ran it all. Those landmarks still dot the city today and it's as everything simply shut off once the sin was run out of town. Maybe that's why Dixie has remained intact? Not much at all has changed (as you can see below), and the state's first chili parlor has likely been adored since the days it was first opened.
Go ahead and chuckle – but if you aren’t aware of my soft spot for teen dramas, then you aren’t an avid reader here. Beverly Hills 90210, the OC, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, the meatier episodes of Saved By the Bell, Fifteen. Basically I’ll watch anything resembling a John Hughes film, serialized, brimming with pop culture references, period costume, unreal dialogue, and frequent star cameos. Why aren’t I writing one?
Actually I inquired about this once upon buying a Gourmet Scum bootlegged shirt from actor Pat Mastroianni, who has played Joey Jeremiah on Degrassi Jr. High, Degrassi High, and Degrassi: The Next Generation. When I realized who it was selling me the shirt (of the fictional Toronto band that made Shane McKay take acid and end up in a home) I asked about the gates that led to the writing team. He politely informed me that it was impossible to infiltrate that fortress, as for over 23 years the same Canadian force that began with The Kids of Degrassi St. (Playing with Time Inc.) has been at the helm all the way through to the present. Since 1987 the Degrassi franchise has been set the bar as the longest running and “most real” teen drama in television history – and my allegiance to the show, my knowledge of the characters and their relationships throughout the years, is testament to the quality of the program.
Yup. I still watch it, and for a number of reasons. Ever since I first watched edited versions of the show on PBS (way back in 1987), usually later on a Sunday afternoon, I’ve been fascinated with Canadian culture (and Ontario directly). All of the “aboots” and “broomheads” found in the speech, the infinite candy shops, the always mediocre inoffensive music, milk humor where Alberta is the butt of the jokes. This show has it all. That modesty is something that keeps the craft of Degrassi afloat, behind the quirky foibles of everyday life at Degrassi, these kids know they inhabit one of the greatest cities in North America – so their longing for Hollywood and NYC is usually balanced with a sense that Toronto and Montreal were built for them, not us. Makes sense that we are attracted to the little differences, because ultimately they have a superior quasi-socialist society.
Plus the tagline for Degrassi has been that they “always keep it real” – usually with “real” age-appropriate actors playing the kids in very “real” situations. Sure, they recycle storylines, but don’t they all? You name it, it’s been an issue on Degrassi at one point or another – and it’s dealt with in the most “real” way possible. The Next Generation has only taken it one step further:
This newer version of Degrassi has thus far dealt with more topics including online predators, suicide, censorship, gangs, self harm, school shootings, imprisonment, rape, abuse, drugs, drinking and murder, displaying the many challenges teenagers face in high school and the early years of college.
Wild stuff. And now? A rebranding, dubbed, Degrassi: The Boiling Point, a take on Degrassi even more amped up than in previous years. The older I get, the more I felt I might stray from the newer characters, but Yan Moore, Kit Hood, and Linda Schuyler have a knack for creating characters in which you have an emotional interest. Just watched the two-hour movie for this season (now new every weeknight, another first for Degrassi) and I must say, marrying two of the originals, Emma and Spinner, was a twist not expected – and a very emotional start to the summer series. Warning: watching an “Every Degrassi Episode Ever Marathon” will get you hooked.
There's truly nothing like a night game in Great American Ballpark -- especially when the home team is coming back from the All-Star Break in first place and you're celebrating the last time the Cincinnati Reds won a MLB Championship. Has it really been 20 years? My bro and I saw some Nasty Boys, a little Sabo, and a lot of winning. I Love Winning.
Ironically enough -- the last time I saw MC Hammer, I was 13 years old, and it was in U.S. Bank Arena, right next door to GABP (with Vanilla Ice no less). On this night, after years of ridicule for excessive bankruptcy and his eventual cultural currency headed the same direction, Stanley Burrell, was destined to regain some of that glory, if only from a small stage in right field. Even if it wasn't the summer of 1990, a time when "U Can't Touch This" ruled the charts, it sure felt somewhat magical to be a few yards away from the guy. He may have aged, but it has been gracefully. Gone are the pants, the luxurious gold chains, the blast pots and elaborate stage lights. Hammer instead sported a Reds track suit/jersey combo, some blipster spectacles and a bandanna, which he needed to keep off the sweat. This man can still dance with the best of 'em -- in fact the guy should probably have his own dance competition show, but that's beside the point. With a cadre of back-up dancers in tow, Hammer proceeded to make the ever increasing crowd to go bananas for even the slightest set that he put forth.
You can't fault the man for knowing that his post-game show was going to be the highlight, so this was just a taste -- "Let's Get it Started," a bit of the Death Row mishap "Pumps n' the Bumps," "Have You Seen Her" complete with falsetto'd soul singers, and "They Put Me in the Mix." Alas, no "Turn This Mother Out," but it was a "free" performance, a taster for what was to come later in the night. Not once did he look out of breath, not once did he hawk a new song, not once did he seem too big or too jaded for his Cincinnati audience. Maybe that's why I adored him so much way back when -- he is a true showman and seemingly genuine person. For the better part of the brief set, he was out in the crowd, letting people dance around him, shaking hands, taking pictures, all the while belting out his "positive" pop-hop. Please Reds Organization -- do something like this again. This was easily the best pre-game I've ever had in the park.
(A Multitude of YouTubes of Hammer at GABP)
But the game....? How can we forget the Reds of the present? It was our first time in the Bleachers, and I must say the view and atmosphere is unlike any other in GABP. It's a bit rowdy, which I loved (especially yelling "steroids" for Rockies starter/has-been, Jason Giambi)being right behind our favorite LF Johnny "Sombrero" Gomes. It made for a celebratory game from beginning to end. I don't think I'll ever venture from that section the rest of the year. It just feels right up there. And the SledgeHammer? Well, after Bronson Arroyo pitched a magnificent 7 innings, he got into some trouble. In came Arthur Rhodes with two on and no out. He walked a batter, but then went on to pop-up, and strike out two in a row to end the inning. Talk about a hammer....it was likely the most electricity I've ever felt in this place.
I Love Winning.
I usually lose friends because of my love for Harmony Korine. "Please rent Gummo. It will change your life." I like the feeling that I feel like I'm one of 10 people in the world who feel that way about Gummo. Needless to say I didn't invite my wife to see Trash Humpers, but she might have actual liked this "screwball comedy." It's 75 minutes of Korine absurdity, almost as if his fanzines come to life, with nameless, badly made-up elderly characters, nihilists, fornicating with garbage and alley weed, trees and street lamps. For a few fleeting moments that premise felt sincere, even pure by sexualizing the "stuff" around us or destroying it. Those two extreme emotions towards inanimate objects is really just an act of youth. To see Korine, in the role of the slightly younger videographer, explain why these people do this with their lives, is kind of enlightening.
The rest is what Korine calls a "ode to vandalism," nostalgia full of VHS memories, so vivid you can almost hear the analog tape cranking in the machine. As surreal as Korine imagines these darkened streets and empty lots, broke-down cars and decrepit homes, there's something very nightmarish and tangible about these blurry, lo-fi vignettes that hits close to home. It's as if Korine has captured the juvenalia, the films we would have likely made as children were we equipped with cameras. On Walnut St. and in the alleys and train tracks that twisted through the neighborhood, we would play "Teenagers." It was basically a "game" or play-acting, using rocks, busted glass, dead animals, splintered wood, abandoned garages and factories, tunnels and tresses, inoperable machinery, creeks and concrete, younger, more impressionable neighbor kids, as our props. This was our world and my how we could imagine a wasteland that we ruled, Lord Of The Flies-like. That's all you've got in small town life when left to your own devices. It's a reflection and reminder of those memories. Even the portly kid mutilating the baby doll reminds me of the time Micheal Peters flung his cat seven feet in the opposite direction. It was a chance to be the adults, only without the adult provisions or moral code to keep order. I doubt we ever humped trash, but it's likely one of us did at some point. The fine line between innocence and abject discovery.
Trash Humpers could easily be seen as a primitive precursor to Gummo. Post-Dogme '95, it's his most stripped naked film, with no real story or climax, but somehow maintaining a heart and a endpoint. As good as Korine's oeuvre of "whore" can get.
I realize I've done a lot of rah-rah-ing for Trash Humpers already, but if you haven't listened to the interview below, it's well worth the time spent.
OK. So I'm slightly partial to the Double Rainbow video. It was the single most important day for the internet so far. I'm keeping it here in my corner of the web just because I know I'll need it for when I'm asking those prophetic questions about life and it's meaning. There's so much inspiration in the guy's voice, it's almost as if he's coaxing the rainbow to be even more intense, even more enlightening. Anyways, it's not worth searching for more of this guy's videos because he seems to have blown his load here -- and any subsequent videos will likely be put-on. But he did give a hilarious interview about how this all came about. Long live the internet.
I'm still spewing the same superlatives about Procedure Club's Doomed Forever that I did when reviewing the album a few weeks ago for Agit-Reader. Since that time I've been inundated with similar girl-pop shimmy washed in Spector's overused dirty water wall-o-sound that it's getting hard to stomach anything with a sweet cooing female and a truckload of reverb. Procedure Club is the alternative. Believe it. They have their knobs turned ever so slightly towards the sinister and that's a trait that makes all the difference.
(photos courtesy of Matt Slaybaugh)
It’s hard for me to say what hasn’t already been said about the 5th annual Columbus Music Co-Op's Parking Lot Blowout. This is a glorious event, at which I had the pleasure of volunteering this year. If the Comfest Gestapo were in attendance they have learned a thing or two about how to plan a party. Perched right next to the Surly Girl Saloon, the PLBO is essentially placed upon an alley that doesn’t seem like it should be able to accommodate such an event. At times last Saturday, when that alley brimmed to capacity, doubled with the blaring July heat, it was a struggle to get a good view of what was going on up front. Sound issues were also apparent – but I couldn’t tell since I’d never seen the Gibson Bros. before. The communal vibes alone were enough to discard complaints about such things. To me, what the Gibson Bros. were doing was reflective of the entire day/crowd, and that was having a sloppy good time. Ripping through bluesy psychedelia with little regard to coherence and form, the Gibson Bros. emanated yet another ray of Columbus nostalgia too important to ignore. I imagine this is exactly what is was like back in the day, the only difference being Jeffrey Evans would stand and strut the way Jon Spencer does now.
This weekend I learned to truly love and respect the New Bomb Turks with all my heart. If there was a preference when I was younger, it was for Gaunt, and the Turks were merely the other punk band in town – with a few good records. Over time, ‘cause you know it heals everything, I’ve grown to love just about everything the Turks have done (except for those album covers, woof). The two shows I had the pleasure of partaking Friday and Saturday, just secured my adoration. Of course it was the weekend of Eric Davidson’s newly minted genre – “gunk punk” – and as forefathers to that movement the Turks displayed the tenets of “gunk punk” in a fiercely destructive whiplash over a two day span. Destroy Oh-Boy!! Isn’t that right? Not sure if it’s Sam Brown that truly makes them tick these days, but NBT have gotten better in the time being away – managing to keep the vitriol and goofiness intact, while blending in a hidden nuance and refinement that can only come when punks start manning day jobs. Davidson doesn’t look a day past 27 and his antics remain as obvious and endearing as ever. And in the folds of a NBT reunion, there was enough Gaunt love (killing myself for missing Necropolis’ doing Sob Story front to back) in these rooms to feel that spirit rise up as well.
What I did get to see up close and personal were sets from the newly formed EYE and the reunionized duo, Fat Girls by the Snack Table. Back in the day when sets by the Fat Girls were commonplace I can say with absolute dismay that I never got to witness one. I’m kicking myself in regret – as it sounds like Gretchen Tepper and cohort (apologies for not knowing your name) took Kim Deal’s wing to the Pixies and turned it into a rec-room full of broken down synths and ham-fisted riffs. Hilarious that Tepper, a raging NBA fanatic (a shot for Manute Bol?), dedicated most of the set to dissing LeWrong instead of ex-boyfriends and healthy lifestyles that normally inhabit the songs. To say that the Fat Girls were ahead of their time back in their day is an understatement – this stuff dwarfs any of the Le Tigre electro-schlock with a looming shadow of melody and welcome discomfort. To see them re-living re-making the model of songs past was just as entertaining as the blips and beats beckoning the crowd to get closer and quiver along with them.
EYE on the other hand, is the future – and gives credence to my theory that the Columbus metal freaks constantly evolve into hybrid monsters eclipsing their previous bands output. EYE consists of two parts Pretty Weapons and one thundering monolith from Teeth of the Hydra et al (goodness, can we get a Lack retrospective together next year? an LP re-ish?). A recent run-in with an ex-pat metal overlord, who was in town just to catch a canceled Pentagram show, was perhaps a omen as to what to expect from EYE, as their slogging, throbbing, pulse was like molasses dripping from the hash pipe. This was Pentagram on 33 1/3 if you ask me, usually vocodered out into darkened hills and valleys, worshiping the night sky and abandoning the stars. While not knowing much of their material (I was an EYE virgin, mind you) I found it easy to keep up. The undulating swing between pure doom drone and sick little hints of prog had me thinking King Crimson at their most sinister and Sleep at their most distracted. Translated that means this stuff is potent. I need to see this in a cramped, sweaty, dimly lit club sometime soon. Vinyl please – soon.
Yup. I booked it during Scrawl. Just never explored them all that much. And after a night and a full day’s worth of music, I was too cooked to make it to the Oblivions. So, I’ll keep it at that. Everything else (from my beer pouring shift, to the other volunteers I was fortunate enough to work with, and even the Late Night Slice sauces) was absolutely kosher beyond compare. Though I’m gearing up for the CDR BBQ (coming soon), I’d likely be happy if this was the end to my summer – but alas, this summer is endless.
If you read my previous review of Harlem, about when they rolled over (and sucked) in Columbus, then the scene is pretty much already set for my review of Beach Fossils. It was another lonely Monday night at the Summit, while outside it poured rain until 3rd St. was flooding. Perhaps that kept the kids at bay, at least for a little while, because by the time Dustin Payseur and his band of tightly clothed followers took the stage the club magically filled with those very same kids who were whopping it up for Harlem last month. These were kids I didn’t know. Kids that make me feel young and old simultaneously. Kids that think hats are an acceptable accessory at places other than baseball games and the beach. Really, what’s with the hats? Is Nathan Williams the cause of all this?
I’m assured though that Wavves are not in the slightest responsible for Beach Fossils. Payseur, whom I had the pleasure of speaking with last month in the Agit-Reader, was raised on classic R.E.M., Beat Happening, the Feelies, Orange Juice, Josef K., Pavement b-sides, transcendentalism, Buddhist meditation, haiku, meadow romps and swift breezes, tofu, quinoa, IKEA, Robert Frost, black tea, and ephemeral loves. Does that cover it? I knew that live his recruits tended to speed up the process of enchantment found all over his debut album. While that’s certainly true as there was a particularly manic energy that had the kids up front dancing and shaking (in ways I’ve never seen before – where do they learn this?), the constant was kept in Payseur’s phrasing and playing. Every note from each the two guitars politely crossing paths at just the right moments and intertwining like a cutesy embrace when the opportunity presented itself. Twee as this may sound on paper, it was actually somewhat hypnotic and mesmerizing. I wasn’t expecting this much chemistry from such a young band, so much matured and idyllic songwriting from a kid just getting his wings. And the kids who ate at the band’s bare feet knew as well, that this was a sort of pop utopia, as they went a bit bozo when it came time to play “Vacation,” “Youth,” and the crowd favorite, “Daydream.” I would do this every night if I could. Just look at those song titles – if that’s not heaven on the sand I don’t know what is. Beach Fossils restore faith in the notion that the young are digging into real genuine ideas instead of computer generated trend fodder. There wasn’t a keyboard in sight.
Yesterday was an interesting day in sports. First Joey Votto's wrong was righted and he was voted in as an all-star. Then, at about 9:25 P.M. EST, LeBron James destroyed any hope for human survival in Cleveland, Ohio. I wasn't particularly convinced he'd stay a Cavalier -- but this ego-boasting "Decision" played up by ESPN and Jim "Fucking" Grey of all people, was just the absolute wrong way to go about ripping the last gasp for salvation out of the throats of Cleveland sports fans. I'm not a Cleveland sports fan. I'm not a Cleveland fan. I find very little redeemable about the "mistake on the lake." But I did follow the Cavs with a fervor only reserved for my Vikings and Reds. And now? There is literally nothing left worth of value in that city besides maybe Emeralds and that entire scene who are building something out of literally nothing but industrial waste and urban blight. I'm not being fair-weathered. I'm not following Mr. James down to Miami. I am abandoning the Cavs though, because I think this is just as much their fault as it is the King's (ugh). Can you imagine what those games will be like next season?
This morning I considered leaving the NBA for good. After all, the dominance of the Lakers/Celtics/Magic axis is wearing thin -- it's not that entertaining. But I knew deep in my sports-loving-soul this would never happen. So, once you eliminate Cleveland from the equation, the closest franchise to Columbus is Indianapolis, and their beloved Pacers. When I think back far enough, they were actually my first love. Reggie Miller, Detlef Schrempf (pictured), Rik Smits, Chuck Person (greatest NBA name ever), Wayman Tisdale -- the list goes on and.....well it kind of stops there, but you catch my drift. It's time we jump ship, start a clubhouse, buy up all the vintage Pacer gear we can. What are you going to do? Wear a Mo Williams jersey? I have no beef with you Clevelanders continuing love for the Browns and Indians, but the Cavs? Did you read what Dan Gilbert spewed out this morning? I'm all for the tirade against LeBron's "decision," but that's just unprofessional and indicative of the city of Cleveland's way of dealing with the dumps. This is the dumps. I understand. I'm heartbroken as well, though it's good to know LeBron's true character before he took us down three more years of two-round playoff runs and a poor attempt at teamwork. Believe me, I bought into it all, I "witnessed." I just think it's about time to burn it all down. Who's with me?
Sub. Ref. box seats
Not much to really report here. Just show you some pretty pictures of my favorite band recording in a "real" studio. I only say "real" because previously recordings have occurred in living rooms and basements, but this as-of-yet-untitled fifth LP from Times New Viking, has now been recorded at Mus-I-Col Studios ("A" specifically) where they have a control deck and separator rooms, full pianos and headphones that play in stereo and mono. "Real" living if you ask me. On this night they were mixing with Proglegs (he being Dusty of Moons) and Adam Smith (he being Adam Smith of CDR, Necropolis, and the Unholy 2, and best ear in town). What I heard, and now have been hearing all day, sounds like their masterpiece -- the one where everything falls into place. This should hit your ears sometime in 2011 -- from whom and by whom is still up in the air. So stay tuned. You get a sneak preview in the clip below. Thee Romantic Nihilist Album.
Yes. With Menudo. I know what you're saying. It's not possible that anything by this Puerto Rican franchise worth salvaging and for the most part you would be right (I took the trip down their YouTube rabbit hole to investigate/get proof). But for one measly single, over the course of their decade-long, switcheroo, plastic pop, (Latin) world-dominance, they broke through to America. I think it was Nick Rocks and not MTV that played "Hold Me" incessantly. It's puerile and sickly sweet, but there's something about the synths and ugh-beats coalescing that does it for me. Plus they went towards the English language for this track (and Ricky Martin makes an appearance in this configuration), even when they didn't need the English speaking world to fly in their personal jet. I don't really remember this Poolside -- it wasn't even a radio success, just a blip, a joke, an anecdote that most of us Northerners could care less about, but whoever wrote this song knew the definition of pop hit.
As a child growing up in Troy, Ohio USA, I had always dreamed about living in the River House. It was situated right along our city's south levee, mere feet from the bike path and the Adams Street Bridge, across from the Troy City Park, Hobart Arena, Troy High School, the beautiful Riverside Graveyard, and a few block from the Library and our glorious (well if architecture's your bag) downtown square. Basically, if you were to live in Troy all of your life, this would be one of the most centrally located houses you could have, while being close enough to the Great Miami River to take up canoeing and act like your Earnest Hemingway stuck in small town life. Years later I've come to find out 119 Jackson St., the only house on Jackson St., has been for sale for years. Reality has set in and unfortunately the house is in a sad state of disrepair that might take a small fortune to fix. But even in that dilapidated condition, even the industrial smell of the cross-the-street Hobart plant, and the threat by Tony Frey of a rat-infested basement, if the price was right, I could see a refurbishing in my future. A man can dream. Momma said I has "vision."
Sub. Ref. I Bought A House
While I'm surprised that I'm pretty much in agreement with my nemesis/colleague Chris Deville and his assessment of this year's Comfest, I'm not surprised by the absolute lack of creativity found on my lackadaisical Saturday on the grounds. I was already a bit nonplussed by the Entertainment Committee's being strong-armed by the law, the Comfest mafia, the community surrounding Goodale Park, to cut-back hours significantly, therefore cutting 30 odd bands in the process, but once I looked over the line-up, I was even more bewildered. This was not Columbus' brightest being represented. There were some ringers, but it was mostly glad-handing to bands that have been playing the same tired sets for years and a few newer "fresher" faces who had no business being there even if they are tearing up the Peach District.
Quite honestly, and I say this with the straightest face I can, the Shazzbots early Saturday morning set, packed to the gills with the hardcore under-10 set, was the closest thing I saw to originality in my entire day. Maybe childrens' indie-rock is where it's at -- you get to dress up in wacky outfits, take on new personas, use props, act a fool, and write excellent songs about numbers, bugs, and cats named peanut butter. Please go check out this video for "Everybody's Talking 'Bout 5" to see what I'm saying. And bonus, your fans have to be escorted by mom or dad, so that's double the audience. At 10 a.m. the Shazzbots had a bigger crowd than any band I've ever watched played the Treehouse. From what I can gather the 'bots are made up of an imploded Poophouse Reilly -- a band I frequently smirked at despite having the absolute worst name in Columbus music history, but are now tearing up the Wiggle's circuit looking to make inroads with Yo Gabba Gabba. I'd really like to get them in a dive bar at midnight -- just to show the jaded what it means to have a good time on stage. (If you're reading this Shazzbots, I'm serious, seriously).
Shazzbots serve as a nice segue into Super Desserts, since they of the kinder-core, have actually blossomed somewhat into a full-blown orchestra. On this sunny afternoon they required nth number of members up on the Bozo stage to translate the whimsically sharpened melodies found on new album Twee As Folk. Like it was stated in that Alive article, the Desserts taste best in small echo-plexed rooms, but I was amazed at what they accomplished so far away from the intimacy of five-feet of audience. They couldn't use their indoor voices this day, so it had to be epic. Right?
From there, especially during my shift on the off-ramp stage, it went completely downhill. One violin after another after another. Now -- the Super Desserts are completely exempt here because they are an orchestra of sorts, and what they do is mainly of the acoustic variety, rarely, if ever amplified, even through a PA, but there is no need for violins in rock music (I wouldn't call the Black Swans "rock" so don't get all bunched up kids). But what I saw were bands influenced by -- I don't know??? -- Sufjan Stevens, the Decemberists, Bon Iver (heard a Bon Iver cover btw, gross!!), Grandaddy. Goodness, this went on for four to five hours. Monolithic Cloud Parade, Historians, Old Worlds, Trains Across the Sea -- it was like a Paste Magazine come to life before my eyes. None of this was original or creative or hopeful or hummable or catchy or memorable. Fuck...it was sickening the amount of skinny jeans and goofy hats accompanied those violins up on stage. I did see some "property of Ohio State University music program" stands back stage, so maybe that explains all of the sheet music, but it's no excuse for the awful tastes these kids have. We have done the next generation a disservice, and I'm not exactly sure how it got to this, but we need to really step it up thirty-somethings.
The next act -- Wild Goose Creative -- was neither a band nor a collective, it was two overly cherubic hustlas who were neither "wild" nor "creative." What the audience was subject to hear was a diatribe about why "they" deserved to have time on the "entertainment" stages that weekend. They constructed a solar-powered jukebox? Couldn't that have been spoken on the "solar" stage? Then came the Peach Tree District's vaudeville/improv bullshit, which included a failed flash-mod, bad hipster-mocking comedy, and bland karaoke -- followed directly by soft-shoe Joe and the Trains Across the Sea with a rousing rendition of the Wonder Years theme song. Are you kidding me? While I'm all in favor of these non-profit organizations (of which I don't think the Peach Tree kids are one?) organizing and doing deeds for the whole, this stage was meant for "rock" and there were two hours of suck in place of that "rock" this year. And while I know the hours put in by the Comfest entertainment committee, and applaud them for the gargantuan task of booking and slotting all of these bands (not to mention putting up with all the bitching), I do think this year's slight could have been alleviated if they just went out and asked the "best" bands to play. There's a huge list of artists who could have done this -- just saying. Where the fuck was Envelope? He's like the de facto mayor of this city.
All I saw after that debacle that was worth writing home about was Flu Faker. Full disclosure - friends of mine - but about the noisiest and most original act that graced that stage all weekend. Alas, I didn't see Descendre or Shin Tower Music or 13 yr-old folk phenom Rain, but I did get to hear more than my share of shitty covers. And I'll be there next year, so, step it up community.
The annual summer jam mix tape assemblage has become the rite of passage into these scalding and shimmering months ahead. This year it seems stress prevails -- brown pelicans, world cup follies, ulcer-baseball, skin tight budget, sweat, sweat, sweat -- so in the making of my Maxi Single Summer Mix I went to exhale, gathering together songs that extend with bonus beats and, for lack of a better term, chilled anti-ambition (a few blasters in place to keep it in the now). This is the summer to unwind, reset to zero, and keep hope alive (even if already dead). Please don't see this as doom-speak, quite the contrary -- it's a quiet retreat, for lack of a better term, off the grid, away from screens and phones and deafening trends and nostalgic whims. All of that fodder remains, because it has to, but for now it can sit in the rear until September. Here's to no shoes, horseshoes, fresh lime, and raw sugar.
2010 Maxi Single Summer Mix (Right Click to Save)
1. Peter Godwin – Images of Heaven
2. CEO – Illuminata
3. Wally Badarou – Chief Inspector
4. Golden Aces – Africa
5. Carly Simon – Why?
6. Sky Ferriera - One
7. Dominique Young Unique – Blaster
8. Everything But the Girl – Missing
9. Michael Francis – Survivor
10. New Edition – Once in a Lifetime Groove
11. Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off
12. The Alan Parsons Project – Don’t Answer Me
Please download (or just hit play while you read on further) -- place on your nearest compact disc or empeethree player -- jam and repeat as often as necessary. This is my first attempt at the seamless mix, so bear with the edits. You should enjoy it nonetheless. Proactive comments will be rewarded with more of these in the near future.