19 September, 2011

Mix CD Trade - Tracy Burke

At the Swans show last week, Tracy surprised me with a mix cd. I spent the next two days listening to it non-stop and she gets a solid 8 on a 10 point scale. This was the completion of our deal in which she received an Elbow live disc and a mix cd that to be honest - needed a lot more art work and time - but Travis helped me out with the art aspect.

This is what Tracy gave me:
Veruca Salt - "All Mine" - a solid offering from this band that is refreshing and almost is infectious as "Seether".
Thomas Winter & Bogue - "French Love" - this was completely new to me, but I enjoyed it. A French Nick Cave singing rockabilly.
Roland Orzabal - "Day By Day By Day By Day By Day" - everything slows down on this track. He has an amazing voice, and it reminded me of something - it was familiar - but I still can't place it. Musically - there is a recent Peter Gabriel element.
Massive Attack - "Pray For Rain" - this is from their new album, and when I bought this album I was convinced it was Peter Gabriel. This is my favorite track on "Heglioland" as well as this disc. I sing this song daily.
M. Craft - "Sweets" - okay, this is where the Peter Gabriel similarities get a little too numerous. Good song and the female accompanyment is refreshing - but I was hoping for some energy at this point.
Gay Dad - "Different Kind Of Blue" - another new band for me - but they seem a little too inspired by early Radiohead. Good song - but a little uninspiring.
French Kicks - "Oh Fine" - cool song - keeping in the U.K. pop-sound vein. This sort of reminded me of Plant's "Now And Zen" or the Honeydripper's lp.
Emiliana Torrini - "Fingertips" - completely unknown to me - but Bjork influenced and similar vocal style a la "Debut". Totally dug it!
Elbow - "Suffer" - sorry Tracy - didn't like this one. Was rather flat.
Editors - "Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool (Radio Edit)" - I like the Editors, they create infectious songs and this is no exception. Rythmically pulse driven, and Gabriel-esque vocals and quirky lyrics make this song #2 for me on this disc.
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse - "Just War, Metronomy - The Look" - I honestly don't like either of these bands individually, or collectively apparently. If I had something sharp to shove into the cd player at the point that Sparklehorse took the reigns - I may have destroyed the radio or electrocuted myself. Okay - it's not that bad - it's decent song - just a little irritating for me personally.
Broken Bells - "The Ghost Inside" - they are taking quite a hold on the music scene right now, aren't they? There's nothing wrong with that - they are quite a good band. Unique - perhaps vocally - but beyond that, it's not outside the box of old hat. Good song and fits perfectly in this compilation.
Bloc Party - "She's Hearing Voices" - this is one of those hot/cold bands. Tracy picked well, this song is on - and it's energy is a nice pick me up. The song sort of has a Hives quality.
Bad Livers - "Dancing Days" - comes at you completely from left field with rapid banjo and hee haw vocals. I sort of wish it didn't. He says "it's allright", but really - it's not.

So, all in all - a very cohesive disc up until the end - but it's okay to throw a curve ball at the end. What did Tracy get from me? Well, I can't recall the order but these were the tracks:
Basement Jaxx - Cish Cash
Blancmange - I Can't Explain
Calvin Harris - Acceptable In The 80's
Chemical Brothers (feat. Ali Love) - Do It Again
Cranes - Shining Road
Crystal Stilits - Sycamore Tree
Daucus Karota - Father Of Temptation ... you know Rozz had to be on there somewhere!
Jaill - The Stroller
Miike Snow - Animal
Munchausen By Proxy - Keystar
Naked Ape - Fashion Freak
Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes
Shriekback - Flowers Of Angst
The Creatures - Speeding
The Dead Weather - Gasoline
The December Sound - Kill Me (Before I Kill You)
The Faint - Paranoiattack
The Last Shadow Puppets - Gas Dance
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll

15 September, 2011

"The Cult" ...Bad Album or Bad Timing?


Prior to this album's release in 1994, the last invitation into The Cult was 1991's "Ceremony" and the tumultuous tour and break-up that followed. The drama that surrounded "Ceremony" developed a culture about The Cult that precedes them to this day. Difficult recording session followed by difficult tour followed by blow-up and break-up and date cancellations. It's simply the nature of Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury - a love/hate relationship that is extremely talented and creative and explosive. By the time "Ceremony" hit, hard rock and it's breathren heavy metal were hemorrhaging from all veins and response to the album was flat. So, would a reinvented Cult in 1994 find anymore success? When I purchased "The Cult" and it's preemptive single "Coming Down", it seemed pretty clear to me that the band was paying attention to trends and took pages straight from the Seattle post punk/late 70's metal/grunge play book. It took a few years before I realized how dismissive that was and wholly inaccurate. The tip off that The Cult were treading a different path was evidenced by the 1992 single, "The Witch". Many of the elements that comprise that track are mixed with the lo-fi/garage elements of Ian's Holy Barbarians to flesh out "The Cult". What lacks on this album is any sense of cohesion despite that it's been described by Ian Astbury as a deeply personal and emotional journey. It's a difficult question as to whether or not this album was simply bad or released at the wrong time. We all know the culmination of events that resulted in the band breaking up amid their performance in Buenos Aires. As I mentioned - a pattern they established on the previous efforts and subsequent efforts to hold it all together. "The Cult is by far not a bad album, though tracks such as "Universal You", "Real Grrrl", and "Emperor's New Horse" are a mess. The band sounds scattered and uninspired. The contrast to these tracks are, "Be Free", "Star", "Black Sun", & "Joy" are strong, cohesive and flat-out rocking. The songs collectively are full of swagger and dirty grooves... oozing with plenty of sleaze and sex appeal. Musically it's a rollercoaster, the electronic undulation of "Gone" is an companion to tracks like "Be Free" which is inspiring, upbeat and rocking. "Sacred Life" is a droning anooying memoriam to fallen musicians, writers and artists - and is like putting a speed bump in the middle of a freeway. Bob Rock brought this album to fruition, made it happen, and for the most part - succeeded in allowing The Cult to do what they do best- rock! The apparent trapping of following the trend is only superficial and the proof lies in tracks like "Gone" and "Coming Down" - The Cult slither beneath the veneer of expectations and provide strong tracks. Sadly, their efforts, are clouded by the perceptions that the public has of them;the drama that follows them on every tour; and the ideas that once a hard rock band, always a hard rock band. "The Cult" is anything but another hard rock album and deserves a listen, hell, I think everyone should own it - it's rife with undiscovered gems for the average Cult fan. ore over, it stands alone in the collective that is the Cult's discography. It's closest comparison is, "Electric" in it's sleazy, lecherous appeal.

14 September, 2011

California... Explained

Well, I got the calendar prompt when I opened my work email first thing this morning, "Call Rich at 11:30". The big moment! I wasn't sure what to expect, this whole process has been so convoluted like every time I've applied for a supervisor position in this company. In preparation for anything: rejection, promotion or interview - I jotted down some of the scenarios I'd thought out for those difficult, put you on the spot interview questions. 11:30 came in no time and I found myself talking to Rich, the hiring manager. He didn't waste a lot of time getting to the "it's not you" part - but that was fine. He explained that I was his top candidate, that I did better in my informal interview than every other candidate did in their series of interviews, and that I was the only one who possessed everything that would make me a great asset to their center. However, because of time constraints and the nature of the role - I was not the best fit. Their hope is to bring in someone green that can be brought up to speed slowly, not mind entry-level pay and devote a lot of their time to filling gaps that normally their reports would be doing. Because of those reasons - justifying the pay I requested for the work they needed was not approvable. However, he went on to explain that the San Diego supervisor was on the fence about whether or not to relocate which could potentially open the door to another position early next year. We shall see. I chose to believe nothing and continue to take everthing one day at a time. And yes, it's a little disheartening and disappointing - a world where top candidate doesn't mean you have a new job is... well... stupid. But, I'm otherwise fine. I like it here in Orlando - it's all still new and the people I've met are unique, interesting, creative, and most importantly - genuine. That's priceless to me.

Swans, 13 September 2011


I approached this show not fully sure what to expect. Swans were never one of those bands I'd have written down on some ancient scroll from my youth of bands I must see before I expire. Not until I found out they were coming to town - then it was instantaneously a deep rooted compulsion from my core. Anyone vaguely familiar with the no-wave scene out of New York, or the lineage that draws parallels from current alt-folk straight back to the early 80's neo-folk foundations have undoubtedly come across Swans and the swathe of their passion. The band's name evokes anything but what one would expect to hear - and that's part of the assault. As a result of this virtually transcendental evening, Maisy has been researching Swans members, and found that Michael Gira asks that the a/c be turned-off prior to their performance. Having been witness to the cacophony that initiated their set - it makes total sense. Layers of piercing, undulating soundscape coupled with heat and thick crowd created that delicate fringe where it's nearly riotous or an epihany. It's completely on purpose that this maintains for 20 minutes before the remaining members of the band take stage. And it's at this moment, the reality that the Swans are anything but pouty and brooding takes hold of your breath, your brain, and your heart. They quite literally beat you into believing that the frightening rollercoaster through Michael Gira's brain is quite real and quite in the moment. Gira captured the experience succinctly in labeling their show as a set of encounters. The idea of 'songs' was obliterated from the very opening to the passionate close. I was convinced that Gira was traveling the acid train - but he was completely lucid in the few pauses... I'm certain now that he was simply captured by the rhythms and noise and carried away into his core... he was in essence possessed by this procession that he was directing. There's really no words that could fully describe what I experienced, and it's rather pointless, because as I discovered on the ride home - Maisy was moved in even more meaningful ways. Swans created a personal journey for anyone that was willing to take part and allow themselves to be taken. How on earth this band, comprised of members in their 50s and 60s can find that passion and inspiration nightly and not just go through the emotions or have a massive embellism is completely beyond me. But I do thank them for the experience, and for not taking for granted that I was going to see the Swans and whatever they wanted to do was fine.

07 September, 2011

Dum Dum Girls - "He Gets Me High"



I swore off this band after seeing them live earlier this year. I was so disappointed with the live performance (save the drummer who was captivating) - that I assumed this was the 'new sound' I would be treated to with any new material. I was however swayed by the release of Les Demoniaques a couple of months ago. This incredible one-track JAMC cover convinced me that I had been too hasty in my swearing off of the DDGs. What do they say about gut instincts?

I found myself in Park Ave. CDs to buy tickets for upcoming shows, and came face to face with "He Gets Me High" straddling the used bin, invitingly. Manipulatively. I added it to my collection of other used items and headed home. I put it in the cd player and immediately - I was taken right back to the concert. "FUCK!" Okay, okay - silver lining - bought it used. Gone was the lo-fi, 60's revival girl group... gone. What bothered me really - after a few listens to this e.p. - I realized that the opening track, "Wrong Feels Right" had in a sense been remade from the track that originally sucked me into DDG's web, "Dream Away Life". Sort of like spitting on someone after you just kicked their ass. I didn't even care at that point that you butchered a Smiths song - and amusingly enough - The Smiths version got stuck in my head all day. Is that because the DDG captured them so well - no, I think my brain was crawling back in on itself to find something that didn't make it hurt. I don't think I'll even bother illegally downloading the new full-length when it surfaces, that's how little love we have left in our fleeting romance.

10 July, 2011

Where I Am

Seems, when I think I know what to expect, or at least mentally I've set myself up for dealing with the inevitable, fate throws me a curve ball. Suddenly, the distance that I thought would help me cope with being alone must be weighed against the possibility of a promotion. I've decided one thing - if I don't for any reason take a promotion that would have me relocate to California, assuming one was offered, then I have no business staying at the job I have. It's either do something new or give up ever wanting to do something better or different, and give up being challenged by work. At my age and my income, this may be my last opportunity to progress. All the pieces seem to be falling into place as if a sign that I should go. The money is likely there; the best idea I have at a Calif. budget suggests I can survive fine; even the hiring manager will happen to be in town in the next two weeks and we can meet; and I happen to be the only candidate who will likely not only know all the payroll platforms the new position will utilize, but I also have experience working in a brand new processing center and all the hurdles we faced. I know everyone that hears me is thinking I am chasing May across the country and all of this has more to do with her than any job - to be honest - I am trying to sort all of that out myself. Why am I really open to this idea of moving to California? I won't know that answer until I have time to myself to think about it. Wherever the truth may lie - if I don't apply - I will never know if I was good enough to have this promotion... if I do - at least I can still change my mind if things progress past the initial interview. Whether or not I want to start anew is not an option, what's best for me as I go through the process is up to me. Either way I will be among friends, which does put me at ease.

26 June, 2011

Goth.. Wave 3 (or is it 4?)

The argument is, did goth go to bed or has it been consistent and concurrent. Same question, supplement goth for metal. I guess it likely depends on what side of the fence you are standing on - a fan or observer. I'm both. Early 80's goth scene that emerged out of U.K. is easily definable - and it's closest domestic relative was the deathrock scene from L.A. However, the late 80's and early 90's offered a wealth of rebirths and new bands. Goth divereged into darkwave, synthpop, ethereal, neoclassical, goth rock, and so many other classifications that I'm sure I could write them for another 20 minutes. The whole scene became tied into bands like Marilyn Manson and Kittie and what defined goth in popular culture morphed into anything weird, anything in black, and anything that may remind you of Halloween or a Victorian dinner party. It was essentially a death knell to the scene - because what was truly goth was bleached away when the media tied the scene to the popular bands and murders in Columbine. Labels like Projekt and Dark Vinyl left the light on, but goth music was back to it's indie status. Oddly enough, it's the indie music scene where you will find the newest blood in terms of the genre. Whether or not you want to define the scene as goth - really the media and press will make the determination. It is irrefutable that the label has already been thrown upon band, Esben And The Witch. It is immediately evident when listening to any of their songs, that the late 80's goth scene a la This Ascension, Trance To The Sun, The Prophetess - are influences upon the band. However, the measure is equally goth as much as it is the current lo-fi and slo-core scenes. The result is something refreshing and new, whether or not it's a breeding ground for a new influx of bands remains to be seen. When the goth hipsters hit the streets - I will send up the warning flag. Esben is not alone though - there's a crop of bands that clearly were paying attention or at least were being weaned on 90's goth music. Early singles by Dum Dum Girls and Veronica Falls are rife with a good percentage of my record collection. Since I am only beginning to dent the surface of the current indie music scene - I've been certain that there's more examples out there. Today, Maisy handed me an album and eliminated any doubt; The Waves by Tamaryn. The familiar beds here are Rain Parade, Mira, and Mephisto Walz.

Like I said - is this a new wave of goth? It's unlikely in my opinion, but if the press wants it to be - it will be. Esben And The Witch are the only band I know of that could wear the tag that are indeed being proclaimed a goth band... however - they are as much an indie band as Tamaryn is. It doesn't diminish my excitement to hear those influences, and to have some current, relevant, undated music to cling to and not have to dig out the lace, lipstick and manic panic.

19 June, 2011

Fear, Freedom .. Follow

This morning I watched a several-hour documentary that explained the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. This wasn't the normal fare of familiar clips and Time Life journalism, this was an inside look at how it happened - and how Germany as a whole got enraptured by Nationalism. The footage was from journalists, residents, and party members within Germany. Much of the footage has never before been seen, and much of the documentary is illegal to show in Germany. Following WWI - Germany was destitute and left to their own devices - anarchy and viglante-justice were driving forces in dessimating any sense of normalcy for all classes of German citizens. It was in this atmosphere that the charlatans took stage and promised a new frontier for Germany - but only one managed to grasp hold of the hopes and possibilities of the populous. "An ugly, convulsive, and repulsive individual" was how even Hitler's own party members described him - but regardless - he showed the drive, passion, and understanding of how to rebuild a broken nation. Though he never won an election, and only achieved 37% of the popular vote - he still lead the largest political party in Germany and it led to his appointing of Chancellor of GErmany - a figurehead position without power. America's financial collapse sent shockwaves across the Eurpoean continent and left Germany's citizens desperate for change, and the only beacon of something new were Communists and Nationalists - and in a brilliant move - the Parliament was mysteriously bombed and the Communists were blamed. The populous suspected this as a cover-up, but immediately free press and free assembly were suspended. More concerning to citizens than the reality that their phones could be tapped and letters read - was that opposing the Nazi Party was hazardous to your health. And overnight - the population that wasn't already endorsing the new party - were supporting them out of fear. From then on - it was easy. The propaghanda machine kicked into overdrive and all Communists were expelled from the country, and then staged assaults on German towns were blamed on Poles, and Communists were nefarious rapists and murderers, on and on. As long as the war didn't come into Germany and people felt powerful and undefeatable - The Fatherland was infallable.

It occured to me how similar this was to recent events - and how the lessons of history seem to offer a blueprint on how to corrupt civil liberties instead of an education on history's mistakes and broken dreams. I recalled the Patriot Act - bringing a nation to follow it's president into an illegal war built upon lies and misconceptions and sacrificing our civil liberties without so much as a say so. I thought about the Taliban, how in their efforts to protect themselves from Soviet invasion, bonded together and developed a fighting guerilla force Al-Qaeda. Together - they became the saviors of the nation and thus - dictated Afghanistan's future. This happens all over the world - one person, one party determining the direction of a country. The revolution this incites is a natural progression, and it's the voice of the people being heard. Yes, it is frightening, devastating, and necessary.

24 May, 2011

She Wants Revenge - "Valley Heart"


To say She Wants Revenge has done another copy & paste job would be grossly inaccurate this time around. But that is almost a criticism as much as it refreshing. The pool of influences include "Joshua Tree"-era U2, the Psychedelic Furs, and incredidly enough a wash of peers that suggest Elefant, Uncut, and Audra. If you are going to borrow from another band, at least they chose wisely. Maybe borrow isn't the best choice of words - perhaps homage is more appropriate. This seems like a tour album - meaning it was written on the road. Lyrically, "Valley Heart" is far less provocative, musically mired in the She Wants Revenge cutting room floor. I'm not trashing this album, but I wish there were more tracks like "Take The World" and "Suck It Up" that offer a glimpse into stretching the boundaries instead of dumping some recognizable musical flavors into the SWR soup. It's like adding some spices to 3-day old leftovers; yeah - it's still tasty but it's awful fucking familiar and it's getting a little stale. There's no fucking in an alley, or mesmerizing under-age children into sexual experimentation on this album - it's all about the bigger picture... being alone; the stars and skies are endless; broken hearts; and the stars are endless (got it the first time). If this was my introduction to She Wants Revenge, I'd say, "Yeah, they're decent - I dig their influences." And probably never buy another album. They've clearly grown-up - a bit wiser and wizened in matters of love. It's not their fault, but next comes the sore joints in the moring and eventually the "approaching 40" mid-drift gut. Let's hope their vegetarians.

07 May, 2011

Levitation - "Need For Not"


1992 was a tough year for a lot of major labels. The standard fair of artists they were offering weren’t meeting the market demands of consumers. Nirvana had set the music industry on it’s ear, and old, set in tradition labels were playing catch-up to a trend they had all but ignored. As executives sent out reps to sign anything that didn’t fit a particular mold (and thus made it alternative and big $$$) – no one probably suffered more from the over-zealous efforts than Capitol Records. They brought on scores of bands; very good bands – but few of them connected in a way that translated into money or staying power. Levitation was one of those shining bands from across the pond that no one had heard of, and thus, refused to care about. Making a leap to America is challenging enough, but to do so when your care-givers aren’t accustomed to babying it’s artists sets you up for disappointment. Capitol Records failed Levitation and so many of their other newly signed “alternative” acts by relying on MTV and the populous’ clamor for new music to be enough to build a foundation. Instead of forcing their acts down the media’s throat via radio, television and press, Capitol left the weight of making it happen on artists that only knew how to promote themselves by playing really well. Not a lot of room for success to happen if no one hears you.

Having said all of that, this album does suffer from the band’s indulgences as much as it’s label’s shortcomings. Need For Not is nothing if not a melting pot of influences. Levitation was at the hilt of the dying UK shoegaze/noise scene, and emerged among of the crop of bands that found influence in the 60’s, musically and hallucagenically. However, unlike their peers, Levitation did not resolve to be retro, progressive or psychedelic; the wealth of their influences filled the cup and spilled over. Need For Not is rife with elements of 1970’s British metal, 1980’s goth rock and new wave, and a healthy dose of early 1990’s euro pop. It’s not a stretch at all for this band to take you places musically that peers such as The Boo Radleys, Radiohead, and Oasis fear to tread. But too much can be a bad thing. With so much diversity on one album, unless your listener is a fan of multiple genres, they will feel cheated. And not many people are going to shell out $10-$15 for an album that at best contains two songs they enjoy. Thus, you’ve alienated yourself from the audience as a whole… and the only people still listening are the one’s that can appreciate what you are trying to do. If Levitation found a way to pool their influences into a cohesive, irresistible landscape – then they may find a niche as other cross genre bands have before and since. Unfortunately, the bulk of what Levitation does musically blends like oil and water. That’s not to say it’s a train wreck – honestly, their worst songs are completely enjoyable, but are unlikely to impress anyone that is unwilling to trace the footsteps from so many paths in the road. They deserve at the very least respect for treading in those abandoned genres. When harmonic balance is attained – it is stunning and brilliant. The stand out on Need For Not is, “Smile”. It is equal parts beautiful and sinister. Breathy vocals and compulsive rhythms propel this track until it reaches a desperate and pleading apex. "World Around" fires out of the gate with metal angst a la Voivod, then catches you off-guard with bridge of melody and swirling guitars. Recalling the hey day of new wave and goth rock splendour is "Resist" - a staggeringly beautiful and danceable track.

Levitation at their best are without compare. They were a beacon of what was possible; what could be unique among a wave of cut & paste peers. Though, for all their talent; all their inspiration and ideas; and all their determination - striving so hard to be different is Need For Not's undoing, and sealing the fate of this diverse band was putting faith in a label that had no clue what to do with them. It's a sad legacy for this amazing band. If you feel brave and open-minded, seek them out... until then, enjoy "Smile".


12 April, 2011

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart vs. The Builders And The Butchers


The singles preceding "Belong" leaned in favor of the new release being another stunner. It was clear though that The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart had ramped up the stakes, ushering in Flood for production and Alan Moulder for the mix. They stopped just short of emerging on a major label - but the idea that the new album would be their proving ground to anyone of influence that might be paying attention was plainly evident. Today, without hesitation I bought the disc along with the new release from The Builders And The Butchers. From the first notes of "Belong", it's sadly clear that what was left out of the recording was what made all previous releases by The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart intoxicating and unique. The band was never what you'd quantify as lo-fi, and they were never wholly indie or shoegaze - but they did forge a new path that captivated listeners from tween to fans of early 90's shoegaze. Sadly, the uniqueness was sacrificed in lieu of a polished, painfully refined sound that strips away those facets that didn't fit in any one place and leaves a band that is almost cut & paste with any other band that tried in vain to capture what TPOBPAH perfected on all previous releases. I think this is where our roads diverge. The two tracks that I feel are worth seeking out are, "Heart In Your Heartbreak" (one of the singles) and "My Terrible Friend". I almost have to believe these songs were already done prior to Flood and Alan Moulder coming on board, because these two tracks capture the unique blend of a Pains Of Being Pure At Heart track. Honestly, and quite sadly, this one is better left on the shelf.

On a side note: this is the fourth consecutive release by Flood and Alan Moulder that has gone to hell. Ruined the latest PJ Harvey album (as if I would have ever believed that was possible), The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, YYYs and something else I can't think of at the moment. STOP!


Is it even possible for this band to have made a darker album than all that have come before it? Maybe not darker, but when the subject matter has gone from city-sized epidemic to self-deprecation, the feel is that you are in the dark, poorly-lit room with this bard as the walls close in and your addictions take you across a bridge that is only one way. The albums' feel is one of a traveler, even conjouring images of a sea-faring spirit. There is not a huge departure here from what you'd expect from The Builders And The Butchers, lyrically it's an incredible journey - musically, the influences take you across the world and are birthed from a bluegrass, folk, and southern rock stew. It's not ever easy to isolate an influnce upon this band, it's closest relatives are Jay Munly and Black Heart Procession - but at best they are second cousins and it's okay for them to marry. The guitars and keys are looser, the drums more pronounced and pounding giving "Dead Reckoning" a seething, backroom boogie. The biggest departure is vocally, Ryan Sollee is more brave on some tracks, and explores his range...on "It Came From The Sea"; he offers up a sea-shanty. I wouldn't hesitate to suggest "Dead Reckoning" to a fan, but if someone was looking to experience The Builders And The Butchers for the first time, I'd still steer them towards "Salvation Is A Deep Dark Well". The reason is, "Dead Reckoning" finds the band exploring new musical elements and experimenting with song structure, and it may take another album until their comfort with it is more evident, it's clearly unfamiliar territory here. That doesn't suggest that "Dead Reckoning" should be shelved, it simply captures the band in transition and not at their most powerful. It's still an incredible album, and I hope a tour in support of it brings them my way - I will be there in a heartbeat. Producing their own album with assistance from Adam Selzer (who also mixed it), and releasing it on an indie label, it's a job extremely well done.

On a side note: it's refreshing that a band still records because it loves playing and sharing their music. It's not about being bigger or looking for someone to take them to the next level. The want to find more fans by word of mouth because their music stands on it's own. It's not about creating buzz with the art, the production, or the video. So - to all the bands and friends I have that are recording and doing so because it feels so good - thank you!

09 April, 2011

"Munki" - Bad Album or Bad Timing


When "Munki" emerged in 1998, it was after a long absence from The Jesus And Mary Chain. The world of music had changed dramatically between 1994's "Stoned And Dethroned", and the new album. Recording for "Munki" began in 1995, but Warner Bros. was immediately skeptical of the band's new tracks. Reality is, following the lukewarm reception and complete detraction from JAMC fare, Warner was likely already looking for a reason to throw the switch. The "I Hate Rock 'N' Roll E.P." emerged, and it served the same purpose as Prince writing "SLAVE" on his cheek. As JAMC began to shop themselves around, the internal turmoil grew and no one was really sure what to do with a band that was moving in a negative direction and made no secret about the tumultuous relationship between the Reid brothers - not to mention the fact that they publically threw Warner's reputation to the wolves and became public enemy #1 to the majors. It wouldn't take much effort for the world to forget about The Jesus And Mary Chain.

Suddenly in 1998, another entity the world had stopped thinking about, Sub Pop Records, announced that they would be releasing the new Jesus And Mary Chain album. A 7-inch and tour cd were sent out as teasers, and there was quite a buzz for the triumphant return of Scotland's bitter brothers. The new songs suggested that Jesus And Mary Chain hadn't become soft and turned off their amps and sold their electric guitars - but instead refined the sound they were already known for. Albeit, a lot less feedback and a lot more Weezer influence - but still very much JAMC that the world once loved. However, the cards were stacked against the success of this album. MTV had abandoned it's programming; Sub Pop was considered a non-entity and no longer making waves across the music scene; America was burning it's flannel in favor of rapcore and neo-goth; and the droves of bands early JAMC influenced had long since combusted. However, I think people were curious enough and hopeful enough to give "Munki" their love... at least until the interviews began to emerge. The picture that was painted and needed zero interpretation was that the recording sessions had been heated, difficult, and nearly abandoned on an almost weekly basis. The Reid Brothers were not talking, and refused to record together, so separate sessions were required to piece "Munki" together; and if that wasn't concerning enough, a few months following the album's release, a sold-out show at "The House Of Blues" in Los Angeles was preceded by a blowout on the tour bus; Jim Reid nearly incapable of standing during the show; and William Reid walking off the stage 15 minutes in and not returning for the rest of the tour.

All of that said, "Munki", a bad album? Hardly. The Reid Brothers have been notoriously murderous towards one another since their births, so it's clearly a muse from which they create. Perhaps that was less publicly known than at the time "Munki" was being met with such skepticism, but nevertheless, it was of no concern to me - I figured that was a news story that was the equivalent to someone reporting that ingesting pesticides is bad for the human body. "Munki" stands uniquely, and if pressed for a comparison, I'd explain it's a melding of "Automatic" and "Stoned And Dethroned". They may give you the idea that we're dealing with acoustic drum machines - but that is not the right image. Tone down the feedback in favor of late 90's post-punk bands like Weezer or Jawbreaker while maintaining the breathy decadence a la "Her Way Of Praying", and the general structure of "Munki" begins to take shape. The arguments that the album is poorly balanced as a result of the inbalanced recording sessions is crap in my opinion - I don't hear it. People are interpreting the inclusion of tracks sung by Hope Sandoval and Sister Vanilla as a dividing line between "Moe Tucker" and "Degenerate", and point to this as evidence of a fractured recording. More likely, William Reid's bond with Hope Sandoval and the hope to help Sister Vanilla launch her musical career lead to inclusion of these tracks, and point to nothing more than evidence that JAMC were not resting on their laurels, and that perhaps these songs were a bit older than most people knew. The band broadened their songs to include horns and sampling, resulting in an album that gives a dirty boogie feel. If I was a stripper - "Cracking Up" would be one of the songs I'd work my pole to. Moreover - I think "Munki" is a strong representation to the influences the Reid Brothers had amassed over the years and though these songs weren't recorded to pay homage, I do feel they were recorded to show that despite the perception that as a Reid your shit don't stink; they were paying attention and the Velvet Underground isn't the only band in the world they should be compared to. "Stoned And Dethroned" proved that they could play without a wall of feedback; "Munki" proved that JAMC could adapt and still be viable; they could change with the direction of indie music trends and remain fiercly JAMC, unfortunately, no one was paying attention; more importantly - taking a back seat to trends means you are the first one out of the car.

With the exception of some convoluted, Sonic Youth-esque tracks; "Commercial", or tracks that seem to lack emphasis; "Supertramp" - "Munki" is still a solid album. A victim of musical trends clamoring away from late 80's/early 90's indie bands; a victim of sleeping giant MTV; a victim of Warner Bros. who despite a reputation to support creativity took a blind eye to this band; and a victim of their own animosity towards an industry confused by emerging digital trends and changing tastes. "Munki" is no less a good album, just a good album at the worst possible time.


07 April, 2011

Passover

Funny, I was in the kitchen doing dishes last week, Maisy was in the living room watching Dinosaur Train… the episode was about anniversaries. It donned on me that it was the anniversary of when we finally met in person. This was a big day in years’ past, but in light of the paths we’ve chosen, it nearly went without notice. I have to be honest, that was a pinch at reality for me. I’m in auto mode, and though appearance-wise, I am dealing with the impending divorce with surprising ease and comfort, the truth of the matter is, I’m not really dealing with anything at all. When I think about being alone, it is in the context that, “I can have a desk in the bedroom again”, “When I get up in the morning, I won’t have to worry about waking anyone”, “I can come home and leave home when I want”, “I can work late and not have it ruin someone’s evening”. After about a day of all these claims coming to fruition – I will be left to deal with the idea that I am alone. I don’t have someone waiting for me, I don’t have someone to talk to everyday… and the idea of that sucks. Knowing that I could put on headphones and listen to music and not have to worry about missing a call is far more sad than it is liberating. That ‘pinch’ on our anniversary was a glimpse at how my brain is going to process the aftermath, and a reminder that I am currently not preparing or coping with it in the least.

Do I still have friends here without Maisy? I am not an artist, and that essentially constitutes our friends as a whole: artists. The belief among them is that I will simply disappear, and I don’t want to validate that assumption. I also don’t want a pity party, or a lot of awkward time spent at art events. So much of who I am has been as a supporter and provider to Maisy, that I imagine it would be hard for anyone that knows me on a social level to pin me down or describe me.

It goes back to having to find my passion for something, and connect with people thru that interest. Being myself should be enough, and if I don’t connect with people on that level, then I am among the wrong people. There is a handful of people I could certainly imagine connecting with, but there’s an arm’s length between us. I don’t think that connection is reciprocated. Mikey, Tracy, Ed, Ralph, Eric, Dillon – these are people I am beginning to be comfortable with; but I think that their love and support of Maisy makes things strange, and the knowledge that she’s leaving is furthering that awkwardness.

Complicating everything is the attitude my mom has taken. Similar to my days of always being in trouble: the air of disappointment and annoyance. I don’t know what I can tell her except to continue to be positive whenever we speak. Part of it is probably worry, knowing that in years’ past when left to my own devices – those devices were of a less than productive nature,

The one person I could seriously sit and talk to and get some support from is far-the-fuck away. Besides being happily married, the weight of the world is on his shoulders right now, and furthering burdening him with this seems cruel.

I’ve no succinct way to wrap all of this up. Making distance now is a poor choice, because I miss out on the time we have left and it makes the remaining days sad instead of fun; obliviously prancing into tomorrow seems reckless because then I am not coping or preparing myself for eventualities; putting on a brave face and accepting everything as it presents itself is the best I can do right now.

26 March, 2011

Opal - "Happy Nightmare, Baby"



I was introduced to this album around 1989...I wasn't sure at first to make of it. I knew I liked it, but I couldn't define it. I was completely oblivious to the whole paisley underground that emerged out of L.A. Well, to say I was completely unaware of it is a little misleading, I knew many of the bands associated with the scene, Redd Kross, Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate - but I didn't know they were from a flock of new and burgeoning musical directions. As my appreciation grew, so did my desire to find more... unfortunately, their release as Clay Allison was already obscure, and forget about trying to find the singles; truth is, you were lucky to find anyone who even knew who Opal were even at music showcases. This album stands in contrast to their other material because it embodies a more psychedelic and acid-tinged feel, whereas Early Recordings and the aforementioned singles drew from a more folk/hippie environment. Where Early Recordings may be an inspiration to new folk acts like Devendra Banhart or Vetiver, Happy Nightmare, Baby would be more appealing to bands such as The Black Angels or Sleepy Sun. It's hard to imagine that the relationships in the band were tumultuous, but given the abrupt end of the tour in support of this album - it seems it was exactly that. There is a lot of isolation in the vocal delivery as well as the lyrics through the album; musically it suggests you are somewhere you shouldn't be contemplating things you probably shouldn't do. Imagine the madcap whimsy of Syd Barrett and layer that with Jefferson Airplane.. it's a warm embrace, but the warmth is likely that from your own blood. Perhaps that sounds macabre or maddening... I am not suggesting that Happy Nightmare, Baby is the equivalent of swallowing a bottle of valium and slitting open your wrists. I am however attempting to paint a picture that illustrates the mood, the attitude, and delivery that not only embodies Opal, but also Opal's successor, Mazzy Star. Jellyfish, Redd Kross, Rainy Day, Susanna Hoffs - they belong to a paisley underground that wants you to enjoy the fragrance of the flowers and bask in the brilliance of being carefree and probably naked. Opal, on the otherhand doesn't look so good naked - is quite ashamed of itself; pretty much hates itself; hates you for noticing it; likes b & w photos of flowers; and would rather tear-ass across a field of daisies in a '69 GTO than a birthday suit. Did I paint a picture here, or was this my worst attempt at a review yet? ;Did I mention that I love this album? I do. If you knew me, you'd know I like all that mopey shit.

23 March, 2011

Vetiver, 22 March, 2011

Clearly - this night was a stark contrast to the previous night. We met two older ladies outside of the Social, and they talked about one of the opening acts, apparently she's the daughter of Arlo Guthrie and grew up on stage with him performing. The bands started rather promptly - which was quite a surprise... all 40 of us in the club were in for an intimate show. To say the opening band sucked would be a mischaracterization - but they heavily borrowed from traditional folk music and rock ala Neil Young. Members of Vetiver accompanied the group for about 2/3 of their songs, and they measured from standard fare to outright South-Western Desert Rock (a term I have coined to describe Los Lobos, The Sidewinders and Sand Rubies).

Vetiver came out and presented the crowd with their pleasing fare of Indie Folk, and if it had ever been muddled in my head the difference between traditional folk and indoe folk, it was quickly evident after but a few seconds into Vetiver's set.


As usual, The Social provided perfect sound. Vocals were strong and emotive, and not since Bill Callahan had I felt inspired creatively during a show. Vetiver invited 'the Guthrie' and friend back onstage to perform a couple of songs, it was enough to inspire two young lesbians to pull people out onto the dance floor. The show ended with high energy, and oddly early.
Another amazing show at The Social, and I will see Vetiver again.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, 21 March, 2011

I haven't been so excited for a show since Gogol Bordello, 2 years ago. My anticipation was over-the-top because not only was I going to see Sharon Jones, but I was seeing Sharon Jones at The Beacham. In my days of musicing - we played The Beacham twice, and both shows were incredible. Walking in through the foyer, it looked comfortably familiar, but entering the main hall was like coming home after college, everything was just as I remembered it.

We took a position at the front of the stage and refused to budge. We were immediately accosted by a "dude" touting the splendour that was Sharon Jones. I was happy just to find the boxset I missed out on, this guy took a train to Rhode Island to see her when she cancelled her only Florida date last year. He then began spreading his gospel to the people filling in around us, and that left us to enjoy the show.


Up first was Peter Baldwin, and he was the vocalist in the 3-piece (sans drummer) band. It was immediately that we realized we had an issue. Standing right up on the stage - everything except the vocals were crystal clear - the vocals were going thru the PA system which projected out into the venue and left us hearing only what was bouncing off the walls. That sucked. We had to decide whether we wanted to be close to SJ, or hear SJ. We decided on close. The Dap Kings played, then the two back-up singers each came out and performed a song. The energy was building to a fevered pitch when Sharon Jones emerged and immediately exuded a wall of tireless excitement. She danced and sang like a women possessed by Tazmanian devils. The band was tight and strong, and provided a foundation from which Sharon Jones was drawing her strength. She consistently pulled women and men on stage exciting the crowd to near orgasmic fervor. It truly was a surreal experience being so close to such a dynamo; I could smell her perfume, I was that close - and more amazingly - I felt her waves of energy pushing out into the crowd like waves, and the rush of that passion as it returned to it's source. I will she her again, but next time I will do so from a distance only because I felt robbed in not hearing her voice.

If The Beacham wants to sustain this time around, the $6.50 dixie cup liquor needs to go, and they need to find a way to accomodate the die-hard fans who not only want to be as close as possible to their idols, but they want to remember the show as without flaw. Otherwise, it's a great story, probably a great photo - but you won't have that audible memory that took your breath away.

15 March, 2011

Dum Dum Girls - The Social, 12 March, 2011


There were high hopes for this show. I had only recently discovered this all-girl band from California. I was lucky enough to get an original pressing of their debut LP and score the limited cassette through Sub Pop...so needless to say - I was full of anticipation. Doors opened timely, which was surprising, but the first band, Dirty Beaches, did not get started until 9:30.

Dirty Beaches was a one-man effort, Alex Zhang Hungtai to be more specific. From looks alone, which consisted of James Dean walking off the set of Twin Peaks, Maisy surmised we were about to be crooned. She was spot on with her assumption. Crooning may be too elegant a description for what we experienced. If Julee Cruise was an angry Asian male - she'd been standing on stage at The Social this night. Alex employed loop effects to deliver the soundscape, and layered that with his voice and guitar. The effect was absolutely mesmerizing. The only disappointment was (in retrospect)... he didn't play for the remaining three hours we were there. Little did we know Dirty Beaches was setting the precipice by which all other bands on the bill would fail to reach.



La Sera was second on the line-up. I'd call them an indie band, but nothing about them made them unique.Though proficient and solid as a band, they simply didn't manage to impress me. None of the songs connected with me lyrically or musically. The crowd seemed to enjoy them well enough, but for me personally, they played too long. I may simply be too old to appreciate this band.

Tennis was the third band on the bill. Apparently Tennis' roots are in Marathon, Florida, and it sounded like it. I imagine Marathon as sleepy, boring, and forgetable.This was a three-piece that had a tiny pixie at the helm and was keyboard-guitar-drum driven. Though significantly more impressive musically than Tennis - I still felt disconnected from them. I'd measure half the crowd as being here to see this band. Two of the songs would be something I'd own, but amid the blandness that was the rest of it - I'd rather pass. Their set was too long as well.

Finally, the Dum Dum Girls. While I will admit they looked amazing, and out-performed the previous two bands, they certainly didn't sound amazing. I was looking for the indie/lo-fi 60's girl-group pop revivalists I adored from their studio releases. What we received was a heavy dose of an indie band burning at both ends. I don't know if it's their standard fare, but they was zero chemistry between the members, and the hot mess that was the bassist looked like she was ready to walk at the drop of a hat. My favorite songs were nearly unrecognizable because the bass was too heavy, the vocals were too lifeless, and the delivery so aggressive. I imagined a band that played pop songs to be the life of the party - but all I felt was that even if one of these girls would give me the time of day, they'd stab me afterwards and then talk bad about me to my friends. The only mesmerizing aspect to watching the Dum Dum Girls performance was the energy and playing style of their drummer. She was absolutely captivating.



I'd go see Dirty Beaches again in a heartbeat. The rest of the bill - not on your life. Even the new material that the Dum Dum Girls presented was done so in such a poor fashion, I can't even envision buying their new e.p. This was the first of four shows we have this month, I hope it doesn't set a precedent.

11 March, 2011

Disc Exchange- "Ralph's Stupid Crap"

Ralph and I exchanged our discs today. Not sure what he's going to think of his, the only comment he had upon receiving it was, "I don't know any of these bands except Muddy Waters." I maybe went to obscure? Hopefully not. All Ralph really knows of my tastes are that I like Gary Numan and don't like Elbow - so I'd say he had the bigger challenge between us. He did however turn out an awesome disc filled with post-punk and new wave gems. I will cherish this for a long time and given that he used an archival 300-year disc, I can rest assured that I can still enjoy it on my deathbed, and my childern, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great... and so on and so forth can do the same.

Here's the setlist for, Ralph's Stupid Crap:
1. Simple Minds - Theme For Great Cities
2. Clearlake - Almost THe Same (Never heard of this band but I loved the song)
3. French Kicks - Oh Fine
4. Killing Joke - Adorations
5. Magazine - Back To Nature
6. Ocean Colour Scene - Up On The Downside (I've tried to get into this band on more than once occasion, and just can't.)
7. XTC - This World Over
8. Sneaker Pimps - Superbug
9. The Chameleons - Swamp Thing
10. The Cinematics - A Strange Education
11. The Jam - Scrape Away
12. Supergrass - Prophet 15
13. The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition
14. Ultravox - Slow Motion
15. Wire - In Vivo (Under recoginized and under appreciated band!)
16. The Posies - For The Ashes
17. God Is An Astronaut - From Dust To The Beyond

24 February, 2011

Haul

Well, for about $40 invested, and not really certain what would be showing up - I have myself about 200 cassettes in excellent condition. It's interesting to have insight into someone else's musical tastes. There's everything from Motown & Chicago Blues to Country & Western; '80s Pop to Metal, and a sprinkling of oddballs. Quite a span. I lucked out and maybe four or five of the albums are already in my collection. What I didn't take into account is that I now have to add all these into Music Collector. That somewhat kills my enthusiasm - but at least May and I have a lot of new things to check out over the next year. So if you see us pulling up at some art event and something dreadful is blaring out of the car - you'll understand that we're just giving everything it's fair shake.

05 February, 2011

Christian Death - "Beauty Of Temptation" Demos

Christian Death sans Rozz Williams reached it's zenith in 1989. What had been a torrent of recording, touring, and proselytizing the end of humanity culminated in a tumultuous night at The Marquee in London. Following the band's performance, Gitane Demone left Christian Death forever, and more impressively, the life she had known for 10 years. People that stayed in following Christian Death began to see the train leaving the tracks... what was a surreal swathed goth-rock band, began to offer a much heavier, metal-tinged sound a la Metallica. But following this June night, the din fell silent. Had Valor indeed moved to Antartica? Fueling the mystery was Rozz's return to Christian Death and a flurry of new material and releases. Without access to internet - this couldn't have been a more puzzling point in time for a Christian Death fan. There was literally no where else to turn for information except the musical press. That was where I found interviews with Valor in 1990/1991 - talking about the new record, titled, "Beauty Of Temptation". I waited... waited... searched in vain - it never surfaced. However, in 1994, clearly in response to Rozz's new run with Christian Death, Valor emerged with a new look, a new band, and a much different sound. It turned out that in addition to a much needed hiatus to rest and spend time with his children, Valor was rehearsing new band members, recording demos, and refining what would become a new era for "The Official" Christian Death. These demos hint at the building blocks that would become that foundation. They are strikingly good, and I think I would have preferred this album as opposed to what it became, "Sexy Death God". I'm not sure why "Beauty Of Temptation" was tossed as the new release, but I imagine one day when Valor is putting together an extensive anthology or box set of the band's 30 year span, some of these hidden gems will surface. Until then... enjoy until I'm told to take it away.

Oh - you can thank Shawn for helping me to pull this out of oblivion, and I believe The Graves for sharing it with me.

01. Temples Of Desire
02. The Memories Of Time (Teacu)
03. Heaven Or Hell
04. The Lovely Enchantress
05. Wicked Ways
06. I Am Everything
07. (Voyaging Through) The Void
08. (Beauty Of) Temptation

03 February, 2011

"Closer"

I finally watched 'Closer' this past weekend... I only recorded it about 3 months ago. I knew it was one of those things I'd have to watch on my own, and it's rare that I have that kind of time to myself. Joy Division was one of those bands I missed the boat on, I didn't really discover them until around 16 or 17... and even then, it was sporadic tracks here and there in one club or another. One afternoon, I picked up a tribute to JD, and I was blown away by the lyrical content. It prompted me to pick up 'Substance' and 'Unknown Pleasures'. Joy Division became a mood piece for me - angry desperation dictated when I would crack those jewel cases. Now having seen 'Closer', I feel a deeper empathy in his death, and even moreso for the family he left behind. Ian Curtis is no longer an enigmatic and tragic post-punk turned goth hero. The direction of his life was steered by impulsiveness, fear, and selfishness. Certainly Joy Division would of made much more of an impact on mainstream music if that tour to the U.S. had happened, it wouldn't be a band you'd have to explain to anyone over 40... but perhaps no bigger influence could have been made on underground music if Ian Curtis had not unknowingly martyred himself unto the tortured, self-loathing, and dimished masses. What should have been a tragic post-punk story a la Sid Vicious, instead evolved into an amorphous, square in a round hole gothic love tale, complete with a broken and tragic hero. Amazing that at only 23 years old, Ian Curtis and Joy Division made such an indelible mark to have become an industry that has spanned and thrived over 30 years and certainly grossed into the millions of dollars.

I am dubbing this phenomenon, Reverse Elvis Syndrome. Elvis is HUGE in Europe, and I think it's because all Europe ever saw of Elvis was his time spent in the Army in Germany. He never performed in Europe. They feel cheated but also have a tremendous longing for something they missed out on. Elvis died prematurely. America was so close to being exposed to Joy Division... but the events that unfolded made that impossible. We will never have that experience; we've been cheated and are left longing. Kind of pathetic when you break it down that way. And I can only say, if Ian Curtis hadn't been a remarkable writer, an amazing performer (an aspect I was oblvious to until 'Closer'), and truly just a troubled, normal young man - I wouldn't care less if Joy Division had ever existed. But the reality is, I've spent a lot of time on eBay this week trying to score first pressings of Joy Division's albums, and I doubt it's simply because they didn't make the flight to The States.

25 January, 2011

Washed Out - Pissed Off


We headed out to Backbooth on Saturday, a last minute decision to see Washed Out. Maisy had shared some songs with me and I was excited. Doors were at 7 PM, we arrived a few minutes late; doors weren't open. In fact, despite the cold - doors didn't open for another hour. When we finally got in, we nursed two ciders a piece for another hour.

Finally - the first band made their way to the stage, Emily Reo. Of course, with lo-fi bands, you will experience a mix of tapes, electronics, and live band - Emily Reo relied heavly on pre-recorded music and disappointly, vocals - and her actual voice lay so buried in the noise that she not only unimpressed me, she also made me annoyed that I waited two hours for her. Mercifully, she played only 3 songs.

Next up, Holiday Shores. I totally dug song one. I totally did not dig anything that followed. It was two keyboardists facing off to one another, and a drummer. Not the worst thing I've ever experienced, and May mentioned that she thought they were fair and would like to hear studio material.

The Tenant. Clearly - one of these bands is not like the others. The Tenant is odd man out. I imagined tattoo artists that should be opening for The Black Crowes - but musically, it was an odd journey.
We started out lo-fi with a tinge of rock... but then the set was turned on it's head. Midway through a hipster's wet dream of light rolicking beach fare - we went dark into Faint territory and exploded into a frenzy of breakbeat electronics bordering on techno. Last two songs were fucking awesome!

Last up, Washed Out. Mind you, I left my watch at home, but Maisy's internal clock was ticking close to alarm. Four songs in, everything is noce, the band sounds awesome, the energy is high, and we discover the venue has sold out. "We're in for a treat!", I convince myself. Then the bottom falls out. Our singer explains that he is having "computer issues, as I'm sure you noticed, so this is going to be out last song... but we're going to jam for awhile!" The pieces come together. Anyone that frequents Backbooth knows that the venue has a midnight curfew. Maisy's alarm and this bit of info from the singer puts these two puzzle pieces painfully together into a portrait of BS. If Washed Out had sucked, it might have been a blessing, or perhaps fuel my anger on this asshole trying to maintain his cool (or geeky) image by blaming his pc (probably a Mac) - but they were good and it left me wanting a longer show. I will see them again - but I will be looking down my nose at them.

16 January, 2011

Weekend Of Music

This is one of those coping mechanisms - I choose not to think about 'problems' - so I will buy a lot of music instead. It's only slightly cheaper than heroin - but it does last a lot longer. Friday - for a mere $30 investment - I picked up 18 cds. Maisy and I decided on a listening party so we stacked the cds and went one after the other. Amazingly - the manner in which we stacked them somewhat dictated the appreciation in which we'd have for them. The were stacked as follows:
1. The White Mice: ASSPhiXXXEATATESHUN - personally, I wasn't over the top on this one. Maisy quite enjoyed it though. It is experimental hardcore, and it is the creation of three men who have taken mouse names and wear mouse heads. The tone for my album was Satanism and it's indulgences and it was brought to me by Anonymouse, Euronymouse, and Mouseteratu.
2. Eagles: Desperado - a good album but I picked this one up for my dad.
3. Cafe Tacuba: Reves/Yosoy - I can't believe I found an original of this release. It dates early in their career and this is truly the indie album among their selections. It's musically experimental and there's hints to the direction the band would go.
4. Sixpence None The Richer: Tickets For A Prayer Wheel - When I was a DJ - I would sneak Christian acts into whatever I was spinning. It's where the monicker Haloe originated. Sixpence was one of the better groups putting out music in the early 90's...and R.E.X. music were pioneers in finding the coolest bands.
5. Odd Nosdam: No More Wig For Ohio - this is an awesome find. I knew nothing about this project, who is in fact one individual; David P. Madson. He has worked on countless projects but most notably, Peeping Tom with Mike Patton. This album is in the vein of DJ Shadow - dub/hip hop/sampling. Very nice. A cross between Mody and DJ Shadow.
6. Run Lola Run (Soundtrack) - I've had a cd-r copy of this for ages - how nice to finally have the original! I love this score and when I need to be pumped for a day - on it goes.
7. Courtneys: Shake It If You Got It E.P. - Bought this on looks alone. Imagine my surprise to find out they are local. This band is fucking awesome! I WILL GO SEE THEM THIS YEAR! Total indie band that brings every influence you can imagine into their music. They are not frightened to frolic through the genres in a whimsical fashion.
8. DJ Shadow: You Can't Go Home Again - A 3-song single, with some tracks from The Private Press. Track 2, "Disavowed" features Zack de la Rocha - but before you get too wet with excitement - it's his percussion prowess, not vocal angst featured here. He did however cowrite the song and it's worth checking out!
9. Viking Moses: The Parts That Showed - this is a wonderful album. It's new folk, and if you can imagine Smog singer Bill Callahan doing a solo show after throwing back a few, you can pinpoint exactly what Viking Moses sounds like. Actually - I was so captivated by the similarity, that I had to listen to Bill Callahan the following day.
10. Viking Moses: Swollen & Small - honestly, this is where the stack of cds take a turn for the bad. This e.p. is all cover songs of Neutral Milk Hotel - and well, it's a hard listen. Actually - I don't recommend listening at all. No Bill Callahan here - more like a studio filled with confused people teaching autistic adults how to sew with musical instruments. Doesn't make sense, right? Exactly.
11. Keleton DMD: Dirtriders - oooh. Too much Jawbreaker in their diet. Skip. Don't let the track Sex Hawk fool you into thinking you are in for anything other than a fantasy about your lunch lady from high school.
12. Walter Sickert & The Army Of Broken Toys: Walter Sickert & The Army Of Broken Toys - Neither Maisy nor myself knew what to think of this upon appearances alone. She went with Dresden Dolls - I steered toward Stabbing Westward. It's unfortunate that we were both wrong, and how sad is that? It is not goth, it is not new cabaret, it is not industrial or even indie. It is pretty lame though. You've probably heard the term steampunk - it probably makes you want to drink your own pee like it does me... this however is a group of steampunks with too much free time and access to drugs... they have developed steamcrunk. Nuff said - go kill yourself now.
13. Shannon Murray / Ryan Harvey: Love & Fear - yeah. nice little b & w paper cover had me thinking, "cool", and I flip it over to see a coinage of words that had me say outloud, "COOL!". Those words were, "RIOTFOLK". Awesome - I am imagining Devendra Banheart getting ahold of some bad acid. Bring it on! Then you listen, and you realize the riot is meant for you - I wanted to go burn some buildings and torch some hippies for making me think this was going to be cool.
14. Sunburned: GLEK - You should win some sort of prize just for figuring out who in the hell this was. Once you do figure it out - you then simply need to filter out the 130 other releases since 2002 to find out more about what you're holding. I wish 131 releases in 8 years was an exaggeration, but it whole-heartedly is not. This is ambient experimental music - not bad...but definitely something one has to be in the mood for.
15. Ultralyd: Chromosome Gun - Free Jazz, Funk, and suck.
16. Myndsight: The Wicked You - turns out this is another local band. Obviously Maynard from Tool and Layne of Alice In Chains had children - who knew? I bet I could sell this has unheard Alice In Chains and Tool demos on eBay! The sad part is, they waited until 2005 to jump a burned and buried bandwagon.
17. Mommy And Daddy: Fighting Style Killer Panda E.P. - a two-piece band. They should hire more musicians. They are stuck somewhere between hard rock, post punk, and alternative rock - but none of it blends too well at all.
18. Mommy And Daddy: Mommy And Daddy E.P. - this is better than the other e.p. actually. When "daddy" sings - he emulates Johnny Rotten, whom I like. When "mommy" sings - it's not good at all. I actually can't figure out how out of all the bands in NYC, this found it's way abroad.

12 January, 2011

Screen Vinyl Image - "Ice Station"


What's cooler than picking up the new 7-inch or 12-inch and pulling out some deliciously colored vinyl? Well, if the current trend among indie bands is one to covet - then it's a deliciously colored cassette. Numerous bands on a variety of labels; Sub Pop is no exception - have chosen to offer limited releases on cassette. So far, to the best of my knowledge, these releases have consisted of live material, demo material, b-sides, or remixes - this is no exception. Ice Station inludes 2 new tracks, 4 live tracks, a demo, and 4 songs recorded during studio sessions. What I wasn't prepared for was how incredible this cassette was going to be. Every song is masterfully executed, and this release outshines anything the band has done previously. It leaves me coveting a new full length.

Screen Vinyl Image, for those unfamiliar with them are among the crop of new shoegaze bands to emerge - carrying with them the best of elements of the early-nineties darlings MBV, Lush, Slowdive, etc. and integrating the soundscape with electronics, and JAMC Psychocandy-esque noise. It's an exquisite visit - and though few can come close to the perfection that A Place To Bury Strangers has mastered, there is enough deviation and experimentation by their peers to provide fodder for those seeking more. "All Places", the final track on this release is so gentle in it's approach, you're barely coherant for the abrupt end. Sort of like having the adrenaline syringe stabbed into your heart to bring you back from places unknown and all too comfortable. "Siberian Eclipse (Demo)" would serve well as the soundtrack to "2001: A Space Odyssey", or any Kubrick film for that matter. As a whole - this release is amazing. It is still available through their site, and you will get a download code so you don't have to tear into your cellophane if you don't want to. I haven't (yet). I hope to see them live this year. I don't think they've been through my neck of the woods, but hopefully that will change.

04 January, 2011

Death Of Samantha - "Where The Women Wear The Glory And The Men Wear The Pants"

In the late 80's/early 90's - I was struggling to find new music. Major chains like Record Bar and Tracks had created a small section of "Alternative" music. At the time, finding any of it on cd was damn near impossible, not to mention extortion - so cassettes were my only course of pursuit. This has actually worked out, in that this all was taking place when the tapes from the 80's were going out of print, labels were going under, and these two chains were about so die a quiet death.

Death Of Samantha; this cassette in particular was one that I picked up at least a half dozen times over the course of a year...and put down. I was intrigued by the way they looked (the album's cover made that intrigue possible), but there was no track listing on the j-card. It was completely unheard of for any of the tapes in the "Alternative" section to be anything under $9.99. I think out of complete lack of curiosity about anything else, I finally bought this. I played it - and didn't play it again for about 8 years. I didn't dig it then. Thousands of years passed, the internet was invented, and my friend Shawn began throwing me musical curveballs from all directions. In an effort to show him I wasn't utterly lame and had some music of interest, I started digging thru the dusty side of the tape rack. I rediscovered this cassette. The band is a mix of post punk/glam rock, and it's actually quite good. There's touches of Bowie, T-Rex and The Stooges, and progressive rock. I don't think 1988 was looking for a band the flew the flag of 70's glam and thus were forced to swim the rivers of obscurity. It seems like Death Of Samantha would be one of those bands that has a small, hardcore fanbase. "Lucky Dog (Lost My Pride)" is an epic flow across genres and stands out amongst the others.

However, this tape (mine is on Homestead/Dutch East) - suffers from sound level inconsistency. Quite annoying. It even starts getting wavy - grrrr.

Fields Of The Nephilim - "Laura"

I bought this cassette, new, in probably '90. I have to be honest, I had never heard of FOTN before this point, and upon listening to the tape, I wasn't a believer. "Laura" was a good song, but nothing else won me over. The tape got relegated to the dusty side of the tape racks and now and again would be pulled out to dub "Laura" onto one comp or another. I think when I saw Hardware, I once again gave the tape a listen. Still, "no!" I read this week that FOTN did some shows around Christmas throughout Germany. Made the tiny gears in my brain creak to life and spit out the thought that I should try this again. I'm sorry, it's still not there. I dig the image, hell, I even dig that this is one of those bands that to the outside observer is Sisters Of Mercy, but I'm sorry - maybe this is a horrible choice to be representative of Fields Of The Nephilim - but it isn't good. It's not dark, moody, brooding, or atmospheric, I'm pained to even call this gothic rock. Buy a 12-inch of "Laura", put on Hardware, and think about how awesome this band should be. If I am missing the magic - enlighten me, point me to a more accurate representation of The Nephilim and if I'm wrong, I'll say it.

02 January, 2011

A Test...

Not sure if this will work. If so - this is a song that best describes how I feel today. If it doesn't work, then I will likely be deleting this post and no one will be the wiser...

01 January, 2011

Happy New Year!?! ...

I spent the first seven hours of it at work; the usual celebratory routine for an operator in my field of work. It is the efforts of people like myself that get employees their W2s and 1099s timely as well as employers their tax information for their records and filing with various levels of government. We decimate a small forest to do so - well over a million pieces of paper will be printed in a 24-hour period. For the past 8 years, this has been my routine. I am good at it and I do like it - it's a test of physical and mental endurance. How sharp can you be on no sleep for 24-hours? Can you still throw around a 40 lb. box after doing so for the past 10 hours on the worst food choices possible? When I can't do it anymore - that's when I'll stop enjoying it. I was surprised last night/this morning - the co-worker I fully expected to have to dog was fully up to the task he was assigned and amazed me. The employee with tenure and only a year or two shy of me - was lazy, apparently dyslexic, and completely unprepared for the physicality I expected of my team. He spent 2/3 of his night in a chair listening to Aerosmith (late 80's Aerosmith mind you) and barely functioning as a Q/E operator. It doesn't help that he has a tainted touch, in that his mere presence amongst machinery wreaks only the most bizarre of events to unfold to cripple the machine. But we did a memorable showing last night and once again I buried the other shifts in what we accomplished. Probably 10 x the first shift and we didn't leave enough work for the following shift to even make a dent in what we did. I'm not boasting, it's just reassuring when I get an opportunity to show what I can do and my knowledge. Sort of like - "Here's what the person who wasn't qualified to be a supervisor can do compared to the shift with the supervisor. I hope it hurts a little going down." I will have to go back either tonight or tomorrow because one of the products we produce completely crashed and had to be restarted. The work it produces, only I am qualified to print. I'm debating returning tonight or doing it in the morning. We have a party to go to tomorrow night, so I don't know how full I want to make this weekend. If I go tomorrow-  that's 2 weeks without a day off. If I go tonight, I will have even less time to spend with May this weekend and I am already dragging ass.

Today is the first of what will soon be pretty commonplace in my life. I'm by myself. I don't know if I am not enjoying it because I am so run down right now or if because I know this is how it's going to be more often than not and there's been truly few instances in my life when I have been alone. I don't have a good repoire with myself and I talk myself into doing pretty idiotic things in bouts of self-loathing. I believe someone cannot fully love someone else, or more appropriately have a healthy relationship with someone else if they are lost themselves, or don't have an identity anymore. I need to find mine again. I was a writer; a musician; and I was responsible for someone incredible. I callously murdered that personality and only have the moody, dark, serious shell that most people see. It takes some doing to see me goof off. I have reasons for being that way that really aren't anyone's business, but my complete lack of responsiblilty and care for anyone but myself paid me a number of frightening wake-up calls up until about 10 years ago. I needed to prove that I could be responsible and loving and take care of someone, I've spent the past 9 years doing that. I failed unfortunately. I did not learn the lessons from my reckless youth... putting my life on hold and absolving myself from all wants and needs created a bigger issue...losing my identity. You don't realize how pale a portrait you paint until all the color you've known seeks a new canvas.

Life is just one lesson after another, and I've the bruises, scars, and memories just like anyone else. The difference probably between myself and most people I suppose is I never figured out how to care about myself and instead decided to let my care be the cares of whomever I was sharing my days. Big hearts = bigger chance you'll be reminded of just how big.