Thursday, December 29, 2005

In an effort to "feel the love" and that all too elusive peace or stillness during this time of long days and bitter winds, and to acknowledge that there is such a thing as "beautiful noise," I give you seven albums that offer their own defined paths to the undefinable.

First up, yet another snapshot at the under-underground, as in the Australian/New Zealand noise/psych scene. It's a compilation that arrives with the same holy reverence that brought a few out of the region in the early/mid 90s--albums that offered harrowing glimpses at some of the most genuinely twisted, vibrant, bleak, raw, undeniably human pop/jazz/noise whatever the world has ever known. Going back to the early years of the Flying Nun label (The new "Where In The World Is Wendy Broccoli?" comp is an excellent introduction to those early daze) on down through the ages to the equally visionary likes of PseudoArcana, Celebrate Psi-Phenomenon and Metonymic, but what about NZ's much larger neighbor to the North? Oz is largely overlooked and ignored, at least around here, but 2005 has shown the likes of Rhizome, Kindling, MusicYourMindWillLoveYou and Spanish Magic to be every bit the spiritual, mind-warping equals of their kiwi predecessors. Only just scraped the top of the enormous MYMWLY discog, and the recordings on the Spanish Magic imprint are equally essential listening for those who favor the droning, squealing, dissonant blissout above all other methods of discourse. "It's Over, We Don't Care," the CD in question, is more firm proof that any so called golden age has far from subsided. "It's Over..." feels like a direct extension of that blessed era. This little comp (12 songs, just one CD) is chock full of trance inducing garage noise passages (see Hiss's "Burning Easter"--incredible!), and a track by the all too elusive, dearly loved Garbage and The Flowers (and it's a slow pop dream entitled "Elisabeth"). The always dependable Hi God People do the sort of space age minimal pulse that Stereolab and Jessamine perfected in the mid 90s. There's the roly poly Tortoise like post-jazz of ii, Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood's moody prog noise and Keith Mason's godhead guitar sorcery. Castings (the cats who run Spanish Magic) keep it short and stumbling with "Missive:Aside," and Anthony Guerra and Peter Blamey arouse a piercing fuzz scream of twin guitars that glares like the morning sun. Also on Spanish Magic comes the ubiquitous Robert Horton in his Egghatcher guise. The guy has probably released more limited CD-R's in 05 than any other artist, and be he conjuring screeching steel string meditations or unleashing a free jazz howl, his stuff manages to maintain a constant magnetic pull. On "Cat's Ear" Egghatcher bears some resemblance to Robert's solo material, only this is more of a sound sculpture thing, complete with some tasteful digital manipulation. Imagine Omit given a slightly more bubbly texture, which is shorthand for Horton has a lot of ideas up his sleeve that range from surrealist nightmare collage to fun with contact mics, field recordings, turntables, dulcimer, etc. It occasionally makes me think of the holy trinity of NWW/Coil/Current 93 at their most abstract. Praise be.

Next up an extended reissue of Fursaxa's "Amulet" (Last Visible Dog), without question a deeply spiritual journey. Tara Burke's vocal on opener "Rheine" takes on a somber, devotional aura, as a chant loop that could earn her another Popol Vuh comparison is slowly engulfed in shakers, percussion, flute and other harmonies. Definitely one of her most alluring, transportive trips, that commanding opera voice in full siren form. Other places we get the kind of strummy lo-fi pop I could copulate with ("Rodeo in the Sky"), organic chorals to the heavens ("Crimson," "Songs for the Cicada") and more mind cleansing, fuzz laden medieval arias, and guest contributions from the Brothers Gibbons of Bardo Pond. That explains things.

The brothers and lovers of Pelt bring us their own take on the holy holy with "Untitled" (VHF), which I'm going to go out on a limb here and say is among their top three or so albums to date. There is an air here, a noticeable tone shift towards the highest regions, that conveys some genuinely inspired chaplets of sound stretched out over 3 extended raga jams and 1 short dissonant drone. There's a noticeable influence (to my ears) of those wacky Euro improv/droners who seem to be on the constant sonic ascent, but Pelt maintains its patented trademark of growing, mutating, lysergic dream/nightmare music from the deepest spiritual realms. There is beauty and horror here, dark and light, ecstasy and despair. Acoustic guitars are often scaled back (save for the extended central second track) for sake of rippling, sawing, droning, bowing, buzzing tones that stretch infinitely across the heavens, earth and the heart/mind, all carefully and deliberately constructed. Extra bonus of ambient sounds (thunder, a dog barking, a cat's mew?) only furthers my admiration. For those longing for more Jack Rose, less drone, "Kensington Blues" (VHF) will satisfy with 8 impeccably performed finger-picking symphonies that range from bouncy ragtime ditties and toe-tapping blues jigs to bizarro pan-stylistic string trips and stupefyingly fast, intricate, jaw-dropping 12-string workouts that sound more like a small ensemble than just one guy. With KB (;P), Mr. Rose emerges as the true successor of the mantle of Fahey (whose "Sunflower River Blues" he covers with deep reverence here) and, at the same time, blows the whole mother wide open. Masterpiece.

Another young acoustic sorcerer who likely admires Jack as much or more than I do is James Blackshaw. His "Lost Prayers & Motionless Dances" snuck out at the end of 04 to relatively little hubbub, and knocked me over the head with its deft mastery of 12 string raga, arty drones and inspired fingerpicking. You can bet James has spent much of his life obsessing over, soaking up and exploring all manner of folk and world music, and I wouldn't be surprised if one day he and Jack toured the US together. It would make for an unforgettable double bill. "Sunshrine" (Digitalis) is officially his third album (it and "Lost Prayers..." were issued on vinyl this year by Bo'Weavil), two tracks--one very long, one fairly short. The title is the real draw here with a few warm strums building to some of the most liquid playing you will ever hear on a 12-string acoustic with rushes and lulls that make the heart rush and lie down on command. The guy is simply phenomenal, stretching notes out in endless spirals of dancing string tones, shifting to ornamental Brit-psych folk and well beyond, dropping to a drift of tinkling bells and bowed metal and closing things on a religious note with harmonium. "Skylark Herald's Dawn" is a gentle come down, a sweet little instrumental that arouses images of wind swept heather and hands interlocked. A slice of love, God, peace--take your pick.

Windy & Carl is a husband/wife duo that's come a long way since their modest beginnings in Detroit Shoegaze City. From their earliest recordings of the mid 90s on their music has maintained a dreamlike, narcotic quality that tugs at the heart/mind like a precious childhood memory or a particularly vivid dream that one hopes is never lost. The new "Dream House/Dedications to Flea" (Kranky) honors the tradition, but further abstracts and blurs the boundaries between dissonance and melody, waking life and dream, life and afterlife. This is an album of release and gentle glide, space time breaching, absorption, release. Four extended tracks of gorgeous harmonic wash comprised of guitar/feedback, e-bow, field recordings, Flea himself (their pooch who passed recently as explained by Windy in the sincere, touching liners) and more. Anyone who appreciates the subtler side of drone, gently shifting kaleidoscopes of sound and life in general should eventually be captivated by the deep listening possibilities residing here.
Merry Festivus, folks! And a Happy New Year to all. I'm having my own Festivus bash on New Years; if yr in DFW, let me know! We will be strobing to the greatest hits and near misses of 05, minus Kanye West (this is still Bush country!), though I can guarantee some marathon Curb Your Enthusiasm viewings. And all you haters out there--you know who--put it down, doggs. Feel the love.

In other news, some American Mothers are MAN! M.A.N. stands for Mothers Against Noise. They hate noise. And I must give these ladies props for at least studying up on their subject matter.
From the site:
1. Rebellion
2. Violence
3. Nihilism
4. Escapism
5. Drugs / Alcoholism
6. Perversion
7. Dissonant / Offensive Sound
8. Paranormal / Occult Activities
9. Anti-God / Anti-Authority
10. Cult-like Organization"
...all essentially true, but this list seems incomplete... No God? Doth not the noise embrace His Holiness as well? These ladies take a rather dim view, it's true, but then they seem to mostly get it right at the same time. I particularly like the suggested remedy for anyone who actually likes Whitehouse: "If your child has any Whitehouse CDs, stop everything and please think of getting them professional help (I suggest Military School over therapy)." On Merzbow: "Japanese noise uses a mix of technology, sex, nihilism, occult themes and violence to further their aims." Concise, but hardly spiritually probing. I thought noise was about catharsis, which is all about purging the body/mind of unholy spirits. Turn it up, sinners.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I'm glad no one left me any hate comments regarding my recent theistic declaration or whatever that was (wink, wink). Jesus was a social radical who was into hallucinations and mysticism. Hippies, punks and art-junkies alike should appreciate the culture jamming possibilities. I wonder if anyone ever tore John Fahey a new one for releasing two Christmas albums? Great albums btw! Tis the season to be fingerpickin'.

Various Artists "Gold Leaf Branches" (Digitalis) 3CD

In a year that will surely be marked as the year of the wyrd compilation, one definitely takes the "freak folk" cake (pardon all hip-speak clichés). Not to suggest that the other three or four documents that've surfaced recently on like-minded labels aren't entirely definitive albums; they are. And don't even get me started on this! "Gold Leaf Branches," Digitalis Industries' stab at the all encompassing underground world music hypno-log, is a 3CD summation of all that is Foxy Digitalis the e-zine, Digitalis the label, and by extension a larger world community of avant trippers and sonic soul mappers. The constant release schedule of Digitalis and its Foxglove subsidiary has yielded some of the most consistently fascinating music of the past two years. Without FD, artists like Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood, Terracid, The Lost Domain, Hush Arbors, Keijo, Stuart Busby and James Blackshaw (just to name a few) might still just be obscure blips on the underground radar. Not to suggest that people wouldn't have caught on, but thanks to Brad Rose, his wife Eden and their team of sonic excavators, a lot of diligent work and aural intuition has yielded sweet fruit for the select multitudes.

Oklahoma is like Texas, deceiving in its iconic imagery, boundless in its artistic integrity. It's even mystical, this rectangular box of lakes and prairies where cultures clash, wheat grows, wind blows and illegal drugs are processed/consumed daily--and it's also the home of the Flaming Lips! But this here is not "drug music." This is closer to spirit music or--to borrow a phrase--old magic. Other labels in the region, namely Anticlock and Maritime Fist Glee Club have offered their own glimpses into the Middle American sonic headspace, but none has covered what's happening in the musical underground today with such range and devotion. Digitalis's output is simply inspiring, not to mention overwhelming, and this is precisely why a compilation such as "Gold Leaf Branches" is so necessary. It somehow touches on all of these local aspects, while flying off and leaving borders behind at the same time. From conception to sequence, quality to quantity, this is a brilliantly executed compilation, and a perfect introduction to the sprawling, elusive sound world that FoxyD and so many others have come to exemplify in recent years.

Each of these three discs would make a fine introduction into what's variously termed psychedelia, free noise, acid folk, avant sound sculpture, ethnic drone, minimal noise, fractured pop. Whatever phrase you want to drop into the porridge, it's probably at least touched upon here. Six Organs of Admittance turn in a crisp live recording of "Thousand Birds," sure to whisk any tormented soul to the holy mountain. And Ben Chasny isn't dead, folks! Kuupuu unleashes a smatter of dancing spirits and percussive clatter on "Haava" before Stuart Busby plays a haunted looped trumpet on "First Steps," brilliantly grafting restraint with probing spiritual investigation. Hala Strana's "Fanfare" is equally inspired with its rush of haunted drones and jangly acoustic meditation--classic Jewelled Antler ecstasy. Alligator Crystal Moth's (Mr. Digitalis and one half of the Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood) "Epicenter Crystal" breaks down the elements into pure cosmic energy. The Gray Field Recordings combine minimal acoustic plucks and ethereal chants on "Rune of the Moon and Endymion." James Blackshaw's "No Ghosts" is a Basho incantation of fingerpicking raga guitar that's as powerful as anything I've heard from the man. "Friday Morning" features Timothy, Revelator's spectral banjo plucking and haunted baritone vocal. Pefkin summons the ghost of early 70s Nico with her eloquent "Blast Beach," and Silvester Anfang turns in crusty acoustic guitars and coursing feedback that any Dead C fan should appreciate. Then there's the devastating "Ruination of the Runaways" by Elephant Micah, which was recorded live in one take and drips with heart-aching humanism every step of the way. Haunted, inspired, sad folk pop at its finest, but the same could be said for Kulkija's "Hijaa Hiivin Pois Aurinkoon," though it is a tad more Finnish.

The second disc features a genuine highlight in Charalambides' "Voice Box," which sounds like a rawer Mirror with Tom Carter's slide meshing against Christina and Heather's vocals and organ, all coaxing minimal striations across a luminous space. The North Sea (Mr. Digitalis himself) combines ethereal acoustic guitars, effects, birdsong and vocal into an ethereal pop blessing called "Guiwenneth of the Green Wood." The Weird Weeds (The Laudable Pus) layers two songs, one on top of another; the gentle art pop "Soda Jerk" is beset with the primal lust of "(Sex With Strangers)," making for a truly disturbing juxtaposition. A moody electro psych swirl is rendered in the Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood's "Missing Peace." Leighton Craig & Eugene Carchesio combine angular guitar thwacks, horn squawks and bowed strings on "Here I Give Thanks No. 1." Rameses III employs delicate floating acoustic guitars on "The Tidal Draw." Snowfox explore a dreamy shoegaze wash on "Love Style One." And then there's the fantastic trad folk psych of Ireland's The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree's "Being Here Has Caused Me Sorrow," a show-stopping moment of gentle acoustic guitars, accordion and gorgeous harmonies. Wax Ghost conjures a minimal tone poem of harmonium, voice and bells on "Fall city." The Golden Oaks meld high pitched tones with meandering acoustic guitars on "Grower's Communion." And folk chanteuse Marissa Nadler turns in the haunted "Lilly, Henry and the Willow Trees," from her brilliant "Saga of Mayflower May" album.

Disc 3: Drekka invokes the spirit of Current 93 and old hymns with its live rendition of "Possibilities." Anvil Salute conjures a gentle folk drift with "Vines Through the Window." Hush Arbors weaves a tender psych folk spell of longing and devotion on "Far Away I have Been," which eventually snowballs into a haunting windstorm of distortion. It's one of the most affecting tracks I've heard from Keith Wood yet. The Lost Domain gives us the damaged chamber jazz of "Death Dances," which segues to the haunted fractured folk pop of Lau Nau's "Hidas Kuula," assured to make some neck hairs stand at attention with its layered siren vocals. "Death Dealer Blues" is another choice moment, coming to us from Wood & Wand (featuring the Rose), as in Wooden Wand, Keith Wood and Aaron Rosenblum playing live in a backyard in Knoxville, TN, and getting philosophically tribal. Agitated Radio Pilot fashions a minimal glide of dreamy surreal feedback on "Innumerable Night." Terracid (one half of the Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood, solo) combines bows, jaw's harp and guitars on the short and sweet "Sky Love This Day," and Dead Raven Choir (who to me personally is incredibly inconsistent, and about as likely to amaze as grate) strikes cryptic gold with the clanky acoustics, fuzz and spoken word of "We Will Not Whisper." "Unborn Child" sees Nick Castro teaming up with B'eirth (of In Gowan Ring) for a live number. "Lullaby," a gorgeous moody psych folk number from The Does, features effects and slide guitar beneath a tender fem vocal. Mike Tamburo plays looped harmonica to reveal a shimmering aural waterfall in "No More Dripping From the Windsor's Beard," and continuously surprises with his various stylistic approaches. Beautiful and transportive in the best way. Closer, Finland's Braspyreet returns things to the oblique with "Kuu Putoaa," a nightmare of fractured folk guitars, off-key vocals and ominous metallic drones. In a word: WEIRD!

So there you have it, damn near the longest review I've written in '05. Not everything on these 3 discs is up to par, it's true, but more often than not I find myself truly impressed and occasionally knocked out by these numbers. There is so much range here, a seemingly endless reserve of DIY possibility. Each artist is unified in that they are doing it themselves, for themselves, and the precious few who might care to listen. The packaging is minimally characteristic of other Digitalis/Foxglove releases, with just enough information to reveal who’s doing what.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

God is Love......and love is action. I've been fighting them wintry blues in the form of microscopic bacterial lung infestation these last few days, but I think I'm getting better. First off, must acknowledge--as has the rest of the world--the anniversary of John Lennon's death. I deeply value the musical and/or other contributions of the Beatles here at the Womb. They're probably the first non heavy metal band I ever loved (though "Helter Skelter" is fairly proto metal and right malevolent at that!), and John Lennon was the hippest, most cynical cultural lovemaking junkie the pop world will ever know. His face, his glasses, his speaking voice, that nasally acid splashed singing voice, and his words define more than just a generation or time. I always get a tinge of sadness when someone says they don't like the Beatles, or worse yet, dismiss them as "creepy carnival music." These folks seem to miss the point that the creepy carnival bits were entirely intentional, and that these lads could trade in a half dozen other musical genres with equal depth and aplomb while never missing a beat. Lennon was the spunk, the caustic wit and even the unconditional love of the Beatles. And what can I say? I dig love. I dig Christ. Yes, I am gentile. If you don't believe, don't know what to believe, don't know, don't care, makes no real difference to me. Just try and have a little tolerance for those who might? Not all Christianzzzz are gun-toting warmongers. In fact, no Christians are, are they? Granted, some "Christians" are fucking lunatics, but you should just learn to appreciate their zany antics and think up clever punchlines to preface their introductions.

To get to a point, I love and deeply respect the power of myth. My earliest memories of stories revolve around Sunday school and a fascination with Greek Mythology a few years later. I imagine most adolescent boys go through such a phase, especially those who had "Clash of the Titans" to spurn their limitless, nonjaded imaginations. But then we get older, "wiser," more cynical and independent. We realize we were essentially brainwashed as youths and we feel like fuckin' idiots. And that's fair. I mean we are 17 after all, and all those chemistry and biology classes are starting to leave their mark. Science and logic makes us feel like infinitesimal microorganisms in some labrynthian void where we essentially push the same button over and over, receive food pellets, shit and repeat. Fuck that H-bomb mentality, man. Fuck it right in the ear.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Folks, I'm sorry the blog is so boring/inactive these days. It's hard to pretend like you know what you're talking about on a regular basis. I have so much shit to review, so many things to consider, and so little time/desire to do it all, especially in the wake of other recent developments. I'm currently working on a feature on Current 93 for Dream Magazine that's drivin' me up the wall, and due inside of a week. I've received some amazing packages recently from 267 Lattajjaa and Digitalis but not sure I'll ever really get around to discussing them here, though rest assured a review of the "Gold Leaf Branches" compilation is coming. It's definitely an essential dish.

I'm going to be writing a column on more limited (mainly CD-R) releases soon for the musical visionaries over at Deep Water, hopefully by January. DW is run by Mr. Kevin Moist, a very informed, sweet and musically inclined fellow (he plays with Third Troll and The Clear Spots lately). The print version of his zine was extremely influential on how I view, approach and write about the rock. He also wrote the liner notes to the original "Harmony of the Spheres" boxset on Drunken Fish (featuring Bardo Pond, Charalambides, Loren Mazzacane Conners, Flying Saucer Attack, Roy Montgomery and Jessamine), which was recently name checked as a direct inspiration for the "Elegy Box" on Last Visible Dog, not to mention a spiritual precursor to the "By the Fruits You Shall Know the Roots" 3LP box on Time Lag/Eclipse.
I love Kitten War and watching "The Natural" with my Dad.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A random review...

Renato Rinaldi “Hoarse Frenzy” (Last Visible Dog) CD - Renato Rinaldi is an Italian sound artist/musician that fits in perfectly among Last Visible Dog’s diversified roster. “Hoarse Frenzy” is a single 40 min track broken up into various sections or movements, all seamlessly edited together, that run a gamut from the most homespun porch pop (complete with desolate stoned vocal) to heavenly distorted buzz tones and beyond. Rinaldi incorporates everything but the kitchen sink--harmonium, organ, acoustic/electric guitar, piano, dulcimer, field recordings, found objects, etc--into surging tone poems that never grow sterile or predictable. From gamelan swells and piercing minimal shrieks to the most sedated piano sonatas, “Hoarse Frenzy” maintains a constant magnetic pull. Maximum volume yields maximal results for this haunted little beauty.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

HOLY CHRIST! Lightning Bolt just got added to the Terrastock 6 lineup!

In other news: the new Corrupted album "El Mundo Frio" is a total blackened masterwork.

One love.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Review Haikus:

Ashtray Navigations "The Love That Whirrs" (Last Visible Dog) CD
phosphorescent squeal
concentrated sparkle chain
crumbling ascension

Sigur Rós "Takk..." (Geffen) CD
inverted word scape
cyan fruit bulb tender swell
alien awake

Mike Tamburo "Screwing Six Bolts Into Last Tuesday" (New American Folk Hero) CD-R
soft piano space
bathing as electronique
temporal transfer

Uton "The August Light" (267-Lattajjaa) CD-R
bottomless chasm
dimensional hollow bend
spectral under side

Robert Horton "Washed Out Headspace" (267-Lattajjaa) CD-R
free tonal jazz meld
elastic cosmic implosion
psychic gamelan

Islaja "Palaa Aurinkoon" (Fonal) CD
dancing moon shadow
voice glimmer tired shimmer
fractured earth tissue

Hush Arbors "Cleaning the Bone" (267-Lattajjaa) CD-R 3"
the earth is breathing
cathedral as vibration
this is what I hear

Christina Carter "Living Contact" (Kranky) CD
a backlit gesture
silhouette and dream mother
contrasting moments

Jackie-O Motherfucker "JOMF Live Radio" (U-Sound) CD-R
electric raga
fire dream is namaste
the frost dissipates

Lightning Bolt "Hypermagic Mountain" (Load) CD
holy fucking shit
my ears my exploding skull
erect volcanoes

Nurse With Wound "Drunk With the Old Man of the Mountain" (United Jnana) CD
I think I could die
crepuscular reaction
evacuate mind

The Stooges "Fun House" (Rhino) 2xCD
mongrel lava spew
big muff fetish arousal
"tv eye on me"

Loren Chasse "The Air in the Sand" (Naturestrip) CD
sand grains restless dance
arranged in spiral logic
erosion of time

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

So long, Link Wray. You taught me how to play (not literally, of course). David (late) Tibet digs Marissa Nadler. I told him he would months ago. They're apparently going to do something together in the future. He's also a bigtime Stephen O'Malley fan; who isn't today? "Black One" is an incredible album. Speaking of Southern Lord, Twilight also comes highly recommended for Leviathan, Xasthur, Sunn 0))) freaks or anyone into uber-lo-fi end of the world nightmare metal.

The Terrastock 6 lineup is the best yet, at least the most Broken Face influenced. I will be there, gods permitting.

Avarus (Finland)
Bardo Pond
Black Forest / Black Sea
Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood (Australia)
College Girls Gone Wild
Cul de Sac
Damon and Naomi
Ghost (Japan)
Glenn Jones
The Green Pajamas
Kemialliset Ystävät (Finland)
The Kitchen Cynics (Scotland)
Sharron Kraus (England)
Larkin Grimm
The Magic Carpathians Project (Poland)
Major Stars
Marissa Nadler
Jack Rose
St Joan (England)
Spacious Mind (Sweden)
Spires that in the Sunset Rise
Tanakh (Italy)
Thought Forms (England)
Windy & Carl

plus Special Guest Appearance by TOM RAPP

College Girls Gone Wild is actually Sonic Youth (isn't that funny!?!). Kitchen Cynics American live debut and Culdesac's Terrastock debut? They may have played one of the earlier ones, not sure. I've never seen them live, and they are hands down one of the most influential underground avant/psych whatever American bands of the last 20 years. This lineup speaks for itself, me thinks. Woot!

PS: Nice to see the original "King Kong" finally make it to DVD. It's a killer all the way around with a great print and snazzy extras.

Monday, November 21, 2005

This is very sad news. Glenn Mitchell was a great host, with one of the most signature voices in radio. I truly valued his show on NPR, even called in a few times. Shocking to say the least.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Well this is just great news.
Made it out to see Broadcast and Gravenhurst Friday night. Gravenhurst rocked.
Gravenhurst rocking.

It was an interesting set for these guys, because the only album I ever heard by them (the quite cool "Flashlight Seasons") is what might be dubbed "folktronica," ie acoustic mellow tunes with some interesting effects. They were in full on power trio mode this night though and invoked the spirit of plenty post punk greats through the course of their set (Joy Division, Wedding Present, Slint, Flying Saucer Attack, etc) with tight musicianship and even a few genuine psychedelic freakouts. Talked to Nick Talbot for a bit afterwards about some things, including the fact that the mean age for a Pitchfork writer must be 18 because they sure like to compare his band to Interdull, kind of silly considering Gravenhurst has been going for almost a decade now. Short memory spans I suppose, impressive vocabularies though! We also talked about image and facade and how that's all bullshit, isn't it? I tend to agree. I asked Nick what his favorite (post) punk band was: Husker Du.

Broadcast were simply awesome. I've gone back and forth with these guys/gal over the years, but agree with the consensus, "Ha Ha Sound" is some sort'a pinnacle. I suppose the pampering is deserved (they have a big pretty purple tourbus), as the music does have a certain scuzzy high brow charm. Broadcast simply hits all the right buttons for me, no pun intended, but they're admittedly a bit of a one trick pony. It's simply a good trick. The set opened with "Pendulum" and only got better from there with tons of hard rocking analog electrips and Kraftwerk inspired motorik freakouts doled out from behind a constant retro-projection.

And here's a very fuzzy pic of my friend Jessica with Ms. Trisha K. of Broadcast (this was right after we'd watched Trisha fumble with trying to shut the door to her tourbus for like 30 secs straight). She does look rather dazed (or annoyed). I love Jessica and her husband, Greg, two of my oldest and favoritist pals in the world. Always a fine, loud time with these people. And a shout out to Frank and Alicia, too. Had a blast hanging out with you whooping, festive alkies!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Whoa, doggies...I very occasionally wish I lived in New York:

Marissa Nadler dates...

Nov. 13th- Brooklyn Fireproof Gallery- 101 Richardson St., Brooklyn, New York, (718- 302- 4702) with the Big Huge, and Black Forest/Black Sea

Nov. 20th - NYC- Knitting Factory Main Space, with legendary band Earth and drone kings Pelt, featuring guitar master Jack Rose. Buy tickets at the Knitting Factory's website

...I mean come on. Pelt, Earth and Marissa on the same stage? Shiminy haystacks! After these shows I believe the fare maiden sets off on her European tour, so check her site and keep those eyes/ears open, Euro peepees.

A few other things. I've still not gotten around to covering some albums that were released in the last 3-4 months, and may not have time to. I imagine between Brainwashed, FoxyD, Dusted, Fake Jazz and onward, they've all been well documented anyway. In the meantime here are some links to reviews and features I've submitted to folks in the last couple months in case anyone hasn't found them through the usual means:

Marissa Nadler Terrascope interview

Marissa Nadler "The Saga of Mayflower May" (Eclipse)

Kinski "Alpine Static" (Sub Pop)


Mike Tamburo "Beating of the Rewound Son" (Music Fellowship)

Vocokesh "Through the Smoke" (Strange Attractors)

Urdog "Eyelid of Moon" (Secret Eye)

Volcano the Bear "Catonapotato" (Digitalis/Broken Face)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Had a really nice evening this past Thursday hanging out with the one and only, Mike Tamburo. He's an interesting guy (and YES, HE DOES EXIST!) with a lot of heart and soul, me thinks. He knows how to tell a good yarn, too. I had nothing to do with bringing him to the area, because last time I got even remotely involved in setting up a show, disaster's-ville: population me. His show was in Denton at a little coffee house called Art Six with an outside deck area. There were four of us that watched him play (with the occasional smoker dropping by for an abbreviated listen). He'd occasionally build up loops via acoustic guitar and dulcimer and played a selection that spanned his fingerpicking career and drew largely from the excellent solo debut, "Beating the Rewound Son" (Music Fellowship). He also played a solo rendition of a piece from his new duo, The Amazing Trapeze. I was struck by his control of dynamics, on top of his dexterous fretwork, and his ability to keep each piece flowing, even as he shuffled through his bag looking for something else to throw on top. I was especially impressed when he started playing dulcimer with mallets and created a beautiful shimmer of tones that actually resembled a gamelan orchestra. No shit!

Here's a pic of Mr. Tamburo doin' his thing on the leafy deck...

We hung out a while and talked about all sorts of things, including fingerpickers, the greatness of Jack Rose, spirit and humility. He gave me a fat stack of releases on his own New American Folk Hero CD-R label (including his last copy of the Kennan Lawler 3"--thank you, Mike!) as gifts, a couple Meisha albums, and the latest (and possibly greatest) Arco Flute Foundation Live CD on Music Fellowship. I gave him a CD by The Lost Domain in an effort to repay the love, but more than anything what Mike gave me was a warm night of kinship. I feel lucky to call him a friend.

He's going to be on the road for about another month. See here for remaining dates, mainly East Coast. I recorded 80 mins of the 90 min gig. I told Mike it was his storyteller set, because each song came with exposition. All in all, a good night.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Feels" (Fat Cat), this new Animal Collective album is doin' it for me. Like a warm tongue lashing the bung--billowy and light as air, but still bubbling over with enough frothy effervescence to catapult me way up into the crystal palace in the sky. No one else rips-off--or builds on, for that matter--ideas first pioneered by the Beach Boys ("feels" are what Brian Wilson calls isolated symphonic scores) and Eno as inventively.

A bittersweet old style songwriter's paradise gets mined in Franklin's Mint. "Gold" (Sunburned) is comprised of heart-tugging rootsy folk pop that harkens back to early 70s Dylan, the Band, Neil Young, Emmylou and more inspirational folk-rocker types with a warm analog glow. It's a Sunburned Hand of the Man sanctioned roadtrip, with rough and tumble contributions from a bundle of folks who usually play a sloppier, more avant groove, all backing singer/guitarist Phil Franklin. His dusted, stream of conscious lyrics are branded with a sense of weariness and humanism that would be the only logical outcome for any civilized creature living in America in the year 2005. Beautiful handmade silkscreen package folds into a 3D pyramid. Might be hard to find, but so is peace of mind. Limited to 1000; got mine from Fusetron.

Further down the rabbit hole we fall with The Iron Kite, spiraling and divebombing out of control through a red tinted underworld (and I don't mean hell, but it's close, baby!). This Austin "free noise" groop cranks a mighty rusted carousel round and round on "No Eyebrows" (Twilight Flight Sound), writhing in the clattery free metallic rush that builds in friction to a throbbing industrial/ krautrock surge and more lumbering heavy jams. Nothing prepares the listener for the sheer power and forward momentum of this single track live recording. Lots of acid fuzz and clattery percussion give way to metronomic thumping and back again with tribal howls and whoops resounding over top. Spontaneous, beautiful ROCK that sort of answers the question, "what if the Red Krayola's "Free Form Freakout" actually went somewhere?" No-Neckers and Sunburned Handies, rejoice!

Another loud ass Fuck Yeah! comes along with the reissue of Kemialliset Ystävät's "Kellari Juniversumi," (Fonal CD/ Beta-Lactam LP). Hailed upon its release in 2002 as a masterpiece, I'm prone to fall into line with this one; possibly the most perfectly realized trip through Chemical Land I've come across. KY (gotta love those initials) is without question one of the most fascinating and unique bands around today, and this seems to capture them in an ideal state. Possibly a transition album based on what I've heard till now, splitting things roughly between the kind of haunted free spirit blues they've conjured of late and a clanking (almost) art pop/folk. If Yahaweh was an early industrial band from Finland, they might have come up with something this dementedly beautiful, but then that's not even fair. This is a dense, ethereal trek through the warped sonic hinterlands that sounds basically like nothing else, save maybe for a few other KY albums and spinoff ensembles.

Speaking of some spiked punchbowl action, props to the mystical sound magi of Louisville, Kentucky's Eyes and Arms of Smoke, who conjur a rare magic indeed on their "A Religion of Broken Bones" LP, via the always reliable Cenotaph organization. This record easily exhibits a similar sort of scattered, what-the-hell(?) aura as the above, materialized in an unclassifiable instrumental sound that brings together chamber music, jazz, folk, crude electronics and more into a smoothly kinetic sound tunnel to the outer realms. Only two bands I can think of currently who even come close to this sort of downbeat dream: Comus (EaAoS occasionally features warbling high pitched vocals over rushing acoustic guitars, channeling the demented forest gnome spirits) and...

...Portland’s Rollerball specializes in a cryptic chamber/ nowave/ lounge jazz/ trip hop(?) on "Catholic Paws / Catholic Pause" (Silber) which I can't help but be completely transfixed by. These folks have almost no discernable style, yet maintain a constant musicality that's amorphous and engaging all the way through. Boy and girl vox occasionally appear in strange art pop songs that continuously ride the surrealist/ absurdist roads of the subconscious, passing through some genuinely disturbed back alleys along the way, and probably losing most who’d dare follow. Robert Wyatt and the Art Bears come to mind across the span of these rough and tumble, occasionally lo-fi, lounge/no wave excursions. This is definitely an acquired taste (pretty much all Rollerball is), but worth investigation if you like the weirdo art rock/lounge lizard thing.

Mmmmm August Born. This self titled album (Drag City) is a transcontinental dream meeting if ever there was one. Ben Chasny (Mr. Six Organs) and Hiroyuki Usui (Mr. L) come together (via post) to brilliantly combine their etheareal takes on blues and folk musics, and the results are really just about what you'd expect. Essential and haunted lo-fi tone poems for the impending cold months, and whatever else may loom on the horizon.

Hush Arbors/ Terracid/ The North Sea issued this untitled CD-R on newish upstart Barl Fire recently; all three of the contributors are bright new hopes in this avant folk whatever thing that's happening all across the globe as I type. Hush Arbors conjurs meditative electro dream swells before strapping on the acoustic and introducing beautiful tremelous vocals. I love to hear this guy sing. Terracid offers hushed winds and spacious ragas over quiet clatter that sounds as if the gods themselves decided to sing, and then drops a drifting vocal over a bed of percussive patter and desolate acoustic guitar to seal the deal. Fucking incredible. The North Sea offers three more direct paths to divinity, my favorite being the opening acoustic instrumental which combines a sweet melody with spectral raga tones in a blissful excusion to the soul center. The rest offers sparse melodies, shakers, rainsticks and distant vocals with a slight pop base.

George Brigman's "Jungle Rot" comes via the cult rock diggers at Anopheles Records; they definitely got a nack for recommitting weird limited pressings from the psych underground back into the wild. Couldn't think of a more deserving album than Brigman's mongrel blues psych punk tribute to the Groundhogs and other scuzz blues merchants (namely the Stooges and Blue Cheer). Low-fi before lo-fi was a marketing term, this is some seriously demented garage boogie with Brigman's volatile guitar skills at center stage. Absolutely devastating stuff that fans of Comets on Fire, Monoshock and Major Stars should especially dig. FUCKIN' SWEET!

Pumice's "Worldwide Skull" (Audiobot) features various live recordings by Stefan Neville. Think Xpressway, early Chris Knox, solo and slightly pissed (read as drunk) and maybe, Alastair Galbraith. There's a chilling quality in Stefan's songs, often times just him and guitar with some primitive effect on the vocals or whatnot, and the intimacy and ramshackle arrangements are all painfully necessary in conveying a sense of crude wonder and naked honesty. Worth the hunt for any damaged soul.

And finally comes a fantastic split CD between Breathe Stone (should sound almost familiar to some) and The Does via Hand/Eye. This one's been out a while now, but it's still available. Breathe Stone is a Stone Breath alter ego (think plugged in), and The Does (as in female deer!) are a smoking blues/ garage/ noise punk trio that probably has a few Birthday Party and Swans albums on their shelves, but that's not to say the three songs on "Sleep Deprivation Blues" are copycat material. They churn and rock with some tasteful slide guitar, lacerating rhythms, kicked up beats and a heart-throbbing fem vocals pushing everything over the top of the mountain. Breathe Stone's more likely to hang out up there with "Crow Omens," offering a slightly expanded version of their trad folk delirium, including some pretty burly fuzz guitars. Considering the typically more acoustic (but no less psychedelic) approach they're known for, this makes for a swell detour.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Clipped from somewhere:

"A site claiming to be 'the official website for Vincent Gallo,' the controversial filmmaker, is offering Vincent's sperm for sale.

The Internet site, VGMerchandise, has listed the sperm for a whopping $1 million. The website has listed a detailed agreement informing mothers of their options at Vincent's sperm. Gallo will reportedly inseminate them through in vitro fertilization or naturally. The natural route will cost and extra $500 thousand, which he offers to waive if he finds the woman attractive enough.

VGMerchandise also offers a detailed description of the director, saying 'Mr. Gallo is 5 feet 11 inches and has blue eyes. There are no known genetic deformities in his ancestry and no history of congenital diseases. If you have seen 'The Brown Bunny,' you know the potential size of the genitals if it's a boy (eight inches if he's like his father).' His 'essence' is said to 'blend well with a softer, more subtly featured female.'"

My favorite bit: "To be clear, the purchase of Mr. Gallo's sperm does not include the use of the name Gallo. The purchaser must find another surname for the child."

--So, is Vincent Gallo a fuckin idiot or one of the greatest minds of our time? I like some of his movies/music (mainly Buffalo 66), but it appears his true value is measured in his outlandish persona. He hangs out with Paris Hilton and thinks she's a genius. He's a card carrying republican. Punk rock incarnate.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I actually saw Shonen Knife open for Nirvana back in 1993. Very sad news:

RIP DMBQ/Shonen Knife drummer Mana Nishiura

"I'm merely the messenger. Keep her, her bandmates and their families in your thoughts.


It is with a lot of grief and weariness that I announce that tonite's DMBQ and friends show @ Club Exit has been cancelled following a tragic car accident today.

DMBQ's van rolled from I-95 in Delaware en route from Baltimore to Brooklyn this
afternoon. All members of the band have been hospitalized, as well as Michelle Cable from Panache Magazine and booking, who has been managing their tour.

Mana "China" Nishiura did not survive the accident. China was DMBQ's drummer,
as well as the drummer in Shonen Knife. China will be missed.

Michelle Cable is conscious following surgery for a head injury. The other members
of DMBQ are stable but sedated and are expected to recover.

That's all the information I have.

None of the bands tonite nor I felt up to a rock show following the news.

We are tentatively planning to continue with tomorrow's show @ Kingsland Tavern
as a benefit to cover DMBQ's travel and medical expenses. If the bands and I decide we can't go through with the show, I'll send out a cancellation.

Thank you for you support and your understanding."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Could be worse...
I'm having one of those "I feel dead inside" days. It is nothing new, but sharing this sensation with the blogopshere is. Send me candy, drugs and/or special limited CD-R promos.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

So Miers is gone and I loathe to see who her replacement will be. Looks like Dubya will have at least enough time to get his second justice appointed before the impeachment proceedings begin.

In different news, clipped from a Myspace message board:

The new Throbbing Gristle album is completed, delivered, ready to got into production and is titled: PART TWO. Official worldwide release is January 2006 on Mute Records. The initial pressing will be an extra-special edition. Live dates to be announced very soon!!!..please check and for latest info soon ..its VERY EXCITING!!!!!

Adds me: Yeah!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Jackie-O Motherfucker Live, Motherfuckers!

and some merchandise... Vol 20 of the U-Sound Archive series, featuring a nifty impromptu cover drawing of the state of Texas by Tom Greenwood. Apparently the members of Jackie-O first came together to make fine smoking products, and only later did a proclivity towards more musical activities reveal itself. Well rounded and psychedelic: Made in America.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I did make it out to see Devendra Banhart and his Hairy Fairy Band the other night, though the best part of the evening was the drive out there when we rocked some Townes and the new Lightning Bolt and smoked superdank till we turned green. The new LB in particular is something to be reckoned with: a CHARGING primordial SHRED METAL post hardCOREkrautROCK assault!! They should use it to reanimate expired corpses.
At the Devendra show I observed:
The club was too small. It was overcrowded and sold out (last time I saw Banhart in Dallas, 30 people were there, and most didn't even pay attention as he played crosslegged on a table top).
A cute blonde with big byoobs brushed against me as she danced.
She couldn't help it.
We talked some.
A fight broke out and some poor fella was cracked over the head with a beer bottle. Blood everywhere! As a result the cramped club immediately became looser and easier to move around in. I jumped in front of big byoobed blonde as large protectors tend to, tried my best to see where all those loud "thuds" were coming from. At the time it occurred to me that this was a Devendra Banhart show, supposed hippie dippie love dream blah blah, dismissed the whole torrid affair as sign o' the times.
Devendra and his frazzle haired gaggle of craggles were not so bad, playing through the melee. Big byoobed blonde disappeared to the front of the crowd, was never seen or heard again.
Shouted: "What happened to Woody Guthrie, Devendra?" in a cockney accent.

My Pops came through his operation just fine.

np: TWILIGHT "As The March of Worms"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

SHEESH...I really need to get some new friends or somethin'. Wolf Eyes played here Saturday night, and NO ONE bothered to inform me just in case I wasn't up on the concert calender thingamijig, and I wasn't. I LOVE Wolf should too unless yr a pussy. They're playing Austin in just under a month, so all may not be lost. Sure wish they'd bring Comets on Fire with 'em.

Seeing Devendra Banhart and his Hairy Fairy Band tomorrow with the one and only Bunnybrains should serve as some sort of compensation. I quite like the new one, Cripple Crow. Not as good as the first three, but the good songs are really darn good.

Got the "Invisible Pyramid: Elegy Box" today. This is definitely doing the trick. Doesnt hurt that so far every contribution (listening to Up-Tight on disc 3 currently) has rivaled the best material from each artist I've been exposed to before now. Well, almost... Also got the new Tetuzi Akiyama on Locust, been LOVING "Buck Dharma" by WWVV, The Eyes and Arms of Smoke LP on Cenotaph, this three way split Cd-R by Hush Arbors/Terracid/The North Sea on Barl Fire; August Born is beautiful stuff... The latest live Current 93 album is a sad dream. More on all this later, mayhaps. It's a shame I'm not going to be able to see C93 in SF in a few weeks. Real life is like that sometimes... fuckin' lame.

Finally: "Garden State" sucked. I hope Zakk Braff dies and becomes a zombie and eats Natalie Portman alive.

np: Up-Tight "Le Bleu du ciel"
Feelin': saucy

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Don't ever let anyone tell you that the world is a cruel and unjust place:

Old bird face-slapped with a tofu pie in France!

As some of you may or may not know Brian Wilson has come up with a rather bizarre/cool plan that only he could dream up: He'll match anyone who makes a donation of a hundred bucks or more to the Red Cross and--the kicker--make a personal phone call to that person so he/she can ask Mr. Wilson any question of thier choice. Pretty rad, and apparently he's already raised over $200,000 and been making lots of calls. Tempting...

Kelley Stoltz, a recent Sub Pop signing that I quite like (early Bolan crossed with late 60s Kinks based on the couple songs I heard, with nice throwback production to the days of my infancy), made a donation. Here's the story, hijacked from the Sub Pop site:

"So Kelley’s girlfriend paid for him to do that Katrina benefit deal where you donate $100 to the Red Cross & he matches your $ & gives you a phone call & let’s you ask him a question. So the very same day they pay for it Kelley is sitting around the house spacing out & he gets the call. “Hi Kelley, this is Brian Wilson…”. He was apparently pleasant & asked what Kelley did etc. Kelley hadn’t worked up a question yet for him but in a rush he remembered that after getting his piano tuned he could no longer play a song he plunked around on called “Meant for You” so he asked him what the chords were. Brian’s response was “I wouldn’t know”. So that conversation kind of ground to a halt & Brian said “thanks for donating etc.”. Kelley was pacing around going wow, that was weird, what a trip etc. & the phone rings again. “Hi, Kelley it’s Brian Wilson. The first chord is an A-minor”. So Kelley goes over to the piano & smacks an A-minor & starts playing the song & sings a little bit of it & Brian joins in & they sing a 4-5 verse duet!!!!!! What the fuck????"

Friday, October 07, 2005

The leaves are growing old and deathly again as we all come together for the seasons of mischief. This was originally to be Part 2 of my Summer's End Pop Roundup, but now it's simply:

Part One of The Fall:

Old friend Øyvind Holm (Ringleader of Norway's masters of psych pop delirium, Dipsomaniacs) returns with his solo debut, "The Vanishing Point" (Camera Obscura), a heartfelt collection of rustling folk pop and psych rock that draws from the likes of the Byrds, Love, Dylan, John Lennon and maybe Guided By Voices for influence, but of course the biggest inspiration on Øyvind's songs is his life, and it's one lived with emotional clarity. These ten tracks easily rank among his best, but then he's probably one of the most consistant tunesmiths on the planet after all is said and done. "Self-Mutated Summer Breeze" goes from a jangly uptempo rush to fuzz implosion before the rousing chorus takes us to the fade. Elsewhere he employs harmonica, ivory tickles and tasty string swells to give everything a nice warm push into the coming cold season. For fans of Cardinal (excellent s/t'ed album recently reissued), the more structured side of Elephant 6, Beulah, later REM, etc... I'd also like to give a quick nod to Dungen and the reissue of their lovely breakthrough, "Ta Det Lugnt" album here in the states on Subliminal Sounds/Koch. It comes with a bonus EP of material (not as good as on the album, so not really essential if you already scored the import version) in a lovely digipack. What I said before still applies: "Some might dismiss "Ta Det Lugnt" as too retro or, the horror, too Swedish; fair I suppose given Gustav Ejstes sings everything in his native language in a nasally Lennon-esque tone, but I hesitate to see these traits as shortcomings. In a way similar to maybe Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Dungen relishes all the retro trappings with glee and, by extension, so does his audience. The pummeling Jack Bruce meets Keith Moon drum work, the ornate strings, astounding guitar work and reverb drenched vocals are all lovingly employed in a dish crammed full of inventive ideas....easier to get into than a Volvo."

Every one of Mercury Rev’s six albums to date brings something interesting to the table, though the last one definitely showed them floundering a bit. "The Secret Migration" (V2) is a step back in the right direction me thinks with booming, shimmery pop constructions conjured with an ear towards classic 60s symphonic psych and all our favorite musical auteurs. The results are upbeat with a deep production, if not a tad overly familiar. This could be the best thing they've released since "Deserter's Song" and not necessarily just another rehash of what's come before; either way, it’s definitely a Mercury Rev record, with an almost mythical quality cascading throughout. I still like what they have to say, but it largely seems the rest of the world has moved on, or regressed, depending on your perspective.

This Delaney girl is new to me, but I like her moxy on this self titled debut, released by the Pehr Label. A Frenchie playing jangly pop songs that fall somewhere between Cat Power and PJ Harvey, all sung in the native language, mind you, which I suppose would make this French pop! Sensual and catchy, sad and a little pissy, she manages to transcend her predictable origins, and occasionally rocks out in the process. Better than expected, though not that original. What is today? Not Of Montreal, but they're still fun to shake yo booty to. "The Sunlandic Twins" (Polyvinyl) is a funky, freaky, poppy dance fix that combines their previous Beach Boys worship with an ever growing slide into 80s post disco. Still timid and loveable, less maniacle than earlier albums. One of the songs is titled "Knight Rider" (a likely nod to George Romero's cult classic). Almost there... "Oceans Apart" (Yep Roc) comes to us via everyone's favorite Aussie guitar pop export, The Go-Betweens, and it’s another solid effort from these legendary Monkees obsessives. The Go-Betweens are definitely one of those bands that bridged the gap between DIY punk and modern day meloncholic/ melodic indie rock (The Clean and REM are two others), and these 10 songs perfectly convey just why that is; particularly the rousing acoustic jangle pop of "Finding You" and the gorgeous swoon of "Boundary Rider," both radiating a lingering sense of loss as they knock you out with their harmonic splendors. The whole collection is a gorgeous slice of seemingly effortless mid-tempo guitar pop the likes of which too few bands can muster these days, but that hardly stops them from trying, does it? Pay attension, folks. Master Forster and McLennan wrote the book. This version comes with a bonus disk of live material recorded in London in 2004 with a solid selection that spans their storied 27 year career. There you have it: Melodicsm incarnate.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Two omissions in the Dylan doc worth considering:

Ramblin' Jack Elliot
, and the controversy surrounding the suggestion that Dylan's early act was actually more acquired from this one time playing partner to Woody Guthrie. He supposedly was called "ramblin'" because he was known to go off on long stories whenever he struck up a conversation with someone. Strange they'd include Odetta and Woody but no Jack. I haven't seen "The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack," a film made by his daughter that goes into more detail, but want to.

Also no mention of Richard Farina, the author/folksinger who was married to Joan Baez's sister, Mimi. They recorded a few great albums in the mid 60s before, get this, he died in a motorcycle crash (the same year Bob was in his own crash!) Now that would've made for an interesting twist. The book "Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina" by David Hajdu goes into greater detail.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Quite enjoyed the Dylan doc. All those clean-cut, pasty faced Brits accusing Bobby of selling out are worth the price of admission alone. And poor Pete Seeger!

I suppose for the Dylan obsessive there's not much new information here, but as someone whose exposure to 60s Bob largely starts and ends with D.A. Pennebaker's brilliant "Dont Look Back," it was quite revelatory, not to mention self-aggrandizing and hypnotic. There really is a lot of confusion surrounding Dylan (he likes it that way), so this attempt to set some things straight--and further confound at the same time--should be welcome by most. Also, young Dylan is simply the most photogenic hipster of all time.

I do love how his most popular song--as are most meaningful pop hits--is a cryptic indictment against a culture who doesn't really know how it feels to be "like a rolling stone," or want to know for that matter. A culture that doesn't get it, but loves to sing along. Who can blame 'em. Life as a rambler ain't no party.

Here's a great article, published earlier this year in The Nation that explores the many possible meanings of the song through a review of Greil Marcus's most recent Bob opus and a couple other recent bios which over-ponder the meanings of pop songs. Good stuff.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Dylan is IT...
Should've posted this earlier: Tune into PBS tonight (9/26) and tomorrow to see Martin Scorcese's "Bob Dylan: No Direction Home." It's not just the history of how Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan; it's more like the history of American folk music in general, at least the first half, anyway. It's also on DVD.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Two weeks ago it was the Finns; last night it was the Swedes. Saw Dungen (DOON-GEN) play at the Gypsy Tea Room with Mia Doi Todd opening, though we arrived too late to see her set. As Dungen walked on stage, looking very thin and Swedish, I shouted "FUCKING HIPPIES!" to which the long haired, bespectacled bass player murmured, "fuck oaf." He was sheepish and adorable. Head DUNG, Gustav Ejstes was positively princely in his faded Max's Kansas City tee shirt. It was obvious from their stage demeanor and the hotshit tourbus outside these lads fancied themselves superstars in the making. And as far as I'm concerned, that's not a problem. Their set was comprised almost entirely of the best songs off "Ta Det Lugnt" ("Take it Easy"), but my favorite parts were the extended jams. At least one track went off into Canterbury-an (and Swedish) prog psych utopia complete with flute and distended acid leads for a good 12 mins, and made me feel like it was 1971 all over again. Lovely stuff every step of the way...

Phone Pix:

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Frances Ford Coppola (the guy responsible for all those "Godfather" movies and the incredibly creepy/brilliant "The Conversation") is writing and directing "Youth Without Youth," based on a novella by Romanian author Mircea Ellade and starring Tim Roth. The auteur claims it will be his creative resurgance: "I have come here to rediscover myself as an artist," he told a gaggle of Romanian uni students recently. Fingers crossed, Frances! He's also producing a film version of Kerouac's Beat bible, "On The Road," directed by Brazilian Walter Salles, responsible for "The Bicycle Diaries," which was kind of like 'Che Goes On the Road'.

Full story.

More reviews someday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

When you have some spare time, goto and type in 'failure' and click 'I'm feeling lucky.' Ha!
Two upcoming events of note:

First off, Instal 05, scheduled October 14-16, is gonna be incredible. Birchville Cat Motel/Black Boned Angel, Tetuzi Akiyama, Sun City Girls, Jandek, Up-tight, Miminokoto, Alan Licht, Tom Bruno and more(!), all playing the Arches in Glasgow. Sheesh! Maybe next year, mates.

Second, scope the new mega box set release from the Last Visible Dog empire:
The Invisible Pyramid: elegy box 6 CD compilation

LVD's second compilation and spiritual successor to Drunken Fish's Harmony of the Spheres box (EP length submissions), but instead of 6 artists, there are now 31. The set features all exclusive material, and the total running time clocks in around 7 hours and 36 minutes. This compilation, like the first Invisible Pyramid comp (2003), finds its inspiration in the writings of Loren Eiseley (naturalist, anthropologist, and essayist); for whom an elegy to the first victims of the still-escalating wave of man-made mass extinction seemed appropriate. Each artist has dedicated their track to a recently extinct species (with a short bio), and Jeff Knoch (Urdog) has written a substantial essay to accompany the set.

Disc 1: Black Forest/Black Sea, Birchville Cat Motel, Wolfmangler, Loren Chasse, Bardo Pond
Disc 2: es, Andrea Belfi & Stefano Pilia, Sunken, Kulkija, Tomu Tonttu
Disc 3: UP-TIGHT, Flies Inside the Sun, Uton, mudboy, Steven R. Smith
Disc 4: Keijo, Doktor Kettu, My Cat is an alien, One Inch of Shadow, Fursaxa
Disc 5: Ashtray Navigations, Peter Wright, Geoff Mullen, Urdog, Miminokoto
Disc 6: Area C, Ben Reynolds, Seht, Avarus, Renato Rinaldi, Matt De Gennaro

All for only $40...Wow!
I've been reading "American Splendor": I love the movie, but it must be said the comic (er, graphic novel) is where Harvey and his many collaborators really shine. The movie works more as a postmodern comment on life, art and "happiness," but the actual stories are closer to genuine literature with visual aids and keen observational moments that hit too close to home. Harvey Pekar (along with the visual style of R. Crumb) is as visionary as they come. His comic stories are all a tad more primal and ridiculous than reality...or maybe just painstakingly accurate representations of how life really is.

It was a gift from Travis: He lives here: While visiting St. Louis I encountered: And of course: (percussionist for Islaja).

Other pictures from my St. Louis trip. I also have live recordings from the weekend-- Islaja, The Skaters, Kuupuu, etc--for share on slsk. It was fun.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Louisiana 1927
What has happened down here is the winds have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and it rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangelne

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tyrin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away

President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say, "Little fat man isn't it a shame what the river has done
To this poor crackers land."

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana

They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
-Randy Newman

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Lot of tragic shit has gone down over the last 10 days, fingerpointing and politicizing's galore. When it comes down to it, no matter what side of the aisle of you might fall on, some things need to be said, and not necessarily by me. MSNBC's Keith Olberman nails the stink of this mass tragedy more accurately and interlligently than anyone else I've encountered so far. Courtesy of Crooks and Liars:

Just the facts, ma'am.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Thursday, September 01, 2005

About 10 days later than planned, but here it is. Another Summer is ending. Wasn't too bad for the smoldering, but then if you'd told me New Orleans would be 75% under water today, I'd probably just have laughed nervously. Painful times. Shattering times. I feel so small and useless right now. "Thousands without food or water"..."Corpses on the streets"...And apparently snipers are shooting at rescue workers and shit's just going downhill. If this isn't hell on earth, it's far too close for comfort.

But it's important to move forward and look to any bright spots on the horizon. To send in those donations to the RED CROSS, too. Can't believe some of the hate rhetoric I've heard on "talk radio" today. The arrogant, heartless Monday-quarterback attitude needs to go. As for the rise of gas costs, take a bus. Take a walk. Blow up every Hummer you see. Nothing like this has EVER HAPPENED before. NO ONE can truly be prepared. The govt sure as fuck wasn't. If you aren't affected by this on a personal, compassionate level, you're probably not someone I want to invite over for dinner. [rant over]


...Been a while since I've covered anything remotely pop in these archives, so let's dare to toe-tap in the wake of disaster:

Summer's End Pop Roundup, Part One:

A band I've finally discovered, only about six years too late, is The Radar Bros. They pretty much perfected trance inducing Floydian psych rock on their self-titled debut way back in '96. Remarkable how well that minor masterpiece holds up today with its vintage tone and immaculate arrangements. "The Fallen Leaf Pages" (Merge) is not as good, but it's still a compelling mixture of their earlier atmospherics and bouncier psych pop. The Pernice Brothers weave a similar spell with "Discover a Lovelier You" (Ashmont Records), and come from a more upbeat perspective, sewing a melodic tapestry that's as informed by dreamy synth swirls as power pop and early 70s folk rock. This is the first PB album I've heard that feels like more than just a pastiche of eras and styles. The glorious "There Goes the Sun" and the funkier "My So-Called Celibate Life" are basically modern art pop classics. File under: Beach Boys, Flamin' Groovies, Aztec Camera.

I dug Sleater-Kinney's "Call the Doctor" album way back when it came out and then largely lost interest as the trio got more ambitious and became indie rock icons. Not much for such institutions. "The Woods" (Sub Pop) knocked me out of my chair though. One of the more masterfully bombastic punk/psych/noise pop albums released this year. Pretty much everything about it sounds right, from accessible pop nuggets to crashing power chord blowouts. Like Nirvana or even Cheap Trick, the trio defines melodic, radio ready fuzz and kicks burly ass in the process. Dave Fridmann's raw production helps greatly, but it's these ladies' chops and hooks that leave me head-banging and hand-clapping.

Cobra Verde is one of America's best kept secrets, as heard on their brilliant "Easy Listening" album, a raucous glam metal punk mash that you should ckeck out asap if you haven't. So potent was its creative expulsion that the boys decided to release "Copycat Killers" (Scat) next as they considered their next move in the studio. As you might've guessed by now, it's a covers collection that features everything from Pink's "Get This Party Started" (Think Faust goes reggae and then crank it to 12) and Leonard Cohen's "So Long Marianne" (sounding like mid period Church or Jesus and Mary Chain with big booming percussion and boatloads of reverb) to the Flamin' Groovies "Yesterday's Numbers" (note for note and exquisite!), but the pick of the litter is probably their creeping/sensual take on the Stones' "Play With Fire." These guys rule because they're a "punk band" that obviously has a deep affection for the best newwave, glam, garage boogie and good old fashioned songwriters. This version of New Order's "Temptation" is pretty much perfect. "I Feel Love" (the old Giorgio Moroder disco hit) is an absolute blast of house beats and blistering Bonham-esque gallops. Closer to Hawkwind than any disco I've ever heard. There's so much affection in these tight, thunderous performances, such masterful production. These guys pretty much deserve every ounce of recognition they receive.

OH WOW! 30 sec Quicktime sound clips:
"I Want You"
"Play With Fire"

"La Forêt" (5RC) by Xiu Xiu should be the breakthrough Jamie Stewart and his capable ensemble have been promising for years now. I've been a fan ever since the first time I heard "Hives Hives," a howling clash of desolate post punk defiance and crumbling industrial grime from their "Knife Play" album, but Stewart's alienating, sexually confused perspective could be as daunting as his musical inconsistency. My response was usually something along the lines, "get over yourself already and just do what you were born to do!" And that is sing pretty/cryptic songs over a lacerating bed of pulsating rhythms, rabid acoustic/electric guitars, seething synth and other sound-makers. Folks might get pissed when listening to Xiu Xiu because it's just so obvious that they could step beyond confrontational shock into sheer greatness if they really wanted to, but that's not very pfr [punk fuckin' rock], is it?

Thematically "La Forêt" is just as bilious as all that's come before, but it's sweetened with an influx of strummy acoustic guitars and hypnotic pop hooks that are consistently compelling. Opener "Clover" makes the point obvious from the outset with distant guitar strums and Stewart's tense vocal murmur (think Talk Talk's Mark Hollis on antidepressants) giving way to the most languid vibes and cello interplay. If the hair on the back doesn't respond aptly, you probably don't have a pulse. Elsewhere, a sparkling percussive glimmer segues into a thumping beat, blaring synth, impassioned vocal eruptions and, finally, total noise overload on "Muppet Face"--a title that has a special resonance with me because I used to describe a character from one of my recurring dreams as "muppet face." Synth and indie pop guitars merge perfectly in the jangly laserbeam woosh of "Pox."

Where previous Xiu Xiu albums seemed designed to occasionally shock the listener out of any perceived comfort zone with jarring sonic terror and lyrical anguish, the juxtapositions on "La Forêt" are more subtle and carefully thought, without sacrificing any of Xiu Xiu's paranoid intensity. "Saturn" is a barage of crumbling industrial groans and buried vocals, but it's followed by the deep synth swell of "Rose of Sharon" which is closer to early Eno and Nico's classic 70s albums than Joy Division or Throbbing Gristle. It's a beaut, for certain. And then there's "Bog People" (a video of which is included with the CD), which is probably my favorite kind of Xiu Xiu song--frenzied and freaked out--but with a vibrant humanisim running through its core that can't really be denied. To Mr. Stewart: Thank you for listening.
You scored as Young Buck.

You are the crayziest in your crew, noone messes with you. If a person messes with anyone with your crew u make them pay, and if cops get involved well you just add them to the problems.

Young Buck-----------------------81%

50 cent--------------------------75%

Tony Yayo------------------------75%

Lloyd Banks----------------------69%

The Game-------------------------44%

Which G-Unit member are you?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

8/28/05, Austin, TX:

Like the night, he crept onto the stage slowly and deliberately. There were three other performers in his band (two drummers and a bassist), but he still loomed solitary and apart. His frame was tall and slender, like an emaciated prisoner or a wilted dustbowler.

He approached the guitar case carefully, opened it, placed a book on the music stand, took strap in hand and attached it before sliding the ax over his shoulder. He said nothing the entire night. But oh, how he sang.

(Thanks to Nick H. for this awesome pic. Yes, that's Nick's pretty head popping up in the lower back.)

I could say more, but somehow it'd betray the sacredness of the evening. 90 mins: some genuine rock-out moments, a constant stumbling aura that was as nerveracking as it was mystifying, as based in the blues as jazz. Jandek is the most angular of them all. His shadow projected against the side curtain will haunt me for many moons. Nick Hennies and Chris Cogburn (two of Austin's finest avant percussionists) were on skins, and a boy named Juan Garcia was on bass.

The show was here:
The Austin Scottish Rite Temple and Theater is a beautiful historical Masons lodge situated in the heart of downtown Austin. The night was filmed and recorded (but not by me! *wink, wink*). Barry Esson from Scotland even made the trip.

For obvious reasons, the New Orleans show (9/02/05) is canceled, though such an apocalyptic setting somehow seems proper for a Jandek concert. In Austin all the desolation just tends more to be internalized. My heart goes out to all those suffering through the floods and rising tides in NO. It's a beautiful city, and I pray she can recover, but I'm really afraid it will never be the same there.

Make a donation for the victims of Hurricane Katrina here.

More info on the Jandek shows can be found here.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I love how when you look at someone, and you're on say, LSD or mushrooms or whatever, and all you see is that person...not the layers of bullshit they present to the world...just who they are. You can look at a beautiful woman and you don't see this vision of pornographic lust; you just see a woman, a beautiful woman, a cute girl, a nervous smile, plenty of lovely shapes and curves. The great equalizer....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The two best movies I saw this Summer were the unlikely pairing of "The Devil's Rejects" and "Grizzly Man."

"The Devil's Rejects" is a solid slice of b movie shtick galvanized by a well chosen southern rock soundtrack and moments of tortured sadistic brilliance. The movie this is a sequel to, "House of 1000 Corpses," was a passable homage cum rip-off of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (without a doubt the greatest over the top psycho horror freakout ever conceived. The opening scene alone is worth the price of admission) but hardly memorable.

Rob Zombie has slightly altered his genre this time out to a road movie / crime spree romp across the West Texas flatlands, and it works a lot better thanks to some lovably disturbed leading characters (mainly Bill Mosely's "Otis" and Sid Haig's "Captain Spaulding"), gallows humor and a bizarre supporting cast of familiar faces from the American b movie/sitcom wastelands. This drops him squarely in Tarantinoville, though Zombie is not near the filmmaker Tarantino is; for proof of QT's genre mastery, just check out the final sword fight blow-out that concludes "Kill Bill Vol. 1"--phenomenal! Rob makes up for it with his own ridiculous sense of excess and style (which is about what you'd expect after seeing a White Zombie video). That being said, he uses too much slow motion for my taste, but then it's a genre convention, and I'm all about genre. Favorite moments: Hearing the Allman's "Midnight Rider" over a montage of Otis and Baby running through yellow fields as they evade the law, broken up with 70s styled action stills; Otis torturing and slaying two good ol' boys in an industrial area as he philosophizes about what it really means to be free.

""Grizzly Man"" is inspired by a similar desire to exist outside of society, to know "true freedom," but it's an entirely more haunting and impenetrable work. Werner Herzog's latest documentary is among his very greatest films, and that's largely because of Tim Treadwell, a self-made naturalist superhero who is at once noble, tragic, comedic, pathetic. He's damaged, as we all are, to the point that he'd rather hang out for months at a time with gigantic grizzlies and foxes in the Alaskan wilderness than deal with the world of man. His life is a metaphor for so many ideas and desires--and Herzog too, someone who is at once enthrall and deeply resentful of nature.

Treadwell is the ultimate Herzogian protagonist. He's sensitive, self made, ostracized, alienated, living on the line between domestication/the wild, reality/fantasy, sanity/insanity, love/loss. He's a character that I think will stay with me always. Just like Aguirre or Fitzcarraldo or Kaspar Hauser, Herzog has found someone who not only represents the many boundaries we all negotiate through the "grizzly maze" of life, but himself too--a larger than life persona and fiercely independent filmmaker. It's easy to see why Herzog was so drawn to Treadwell. He [Treadwell] still had hope long after society had broken him; he just had to travel deep into the heart of darkness to find it. But as Herzog says in his haunted, often strangely humorous narration, "violence rules the universe," or some such, and ultimately there is no line between the wild and civilization: The same rules apply everywhere. For more info, here's a fascinating article from the Christian Science Monitor that shows that Treadwell and Herzog's kinship runs deeper than even the film might suggest. Thanks to Ben Judson at Eat Worms for forwarding this.
Happy birthday to my Dad, the most honest guy I know.
No spoilers...

There's a telling moment in the recently broadcast series finale of HBO's "Six Feet Under" (which will soon be on DVD), where Claire, the youngest, most artistic of the Fisher clan, tells her decidedly opposite Bush-voting boyfriend that he "possibly has the most unhip musical taste ever." I don't know if you've ever seen "Six Feet Under," the series set in and around a mortuary home and the family that works and lives in it. It's a kind of surreal soap opera lent weight and depth by great acting, deep characterizations, constant unpredictability and both a human understanding of death and a willingness to laugh in its face. Within the three Fisher children (and the rest of the clan) just about the entirety of emotional existence for the so-called everyman is explored. By "everyman" I just mean those of us who stumble along our paths regularly but for whatever reason maintain hopes and desires that reach for the sky. We don't give up.

Elder son Nate is most like "us," or at least me. He's a likeable, impulsive guy with a big heart and not the best judgment. He's also a bit of a fuck-up who gets away with it most of the time because of his charm and good looks (I may be charming, but cute is a stretch). When he comes back to work at the funeral home because of the inevitable family tragedy, he literally faces death, and his own inadequacies, the only way he knows how: honestly and emotionally. It's Nate's desire to be so true and "emotionally available" with everyone--but himself--that often pushes people away. He's the most troubled character on the show, which in a way makes him the most accessible.

David, the middle Fisher child, is something else, both uptight and upright, and an in the closet homosexual till the show's beginning (the first season is largely devoted to his coming out). David and his on/off/on boyfriend, a former cop (!) named Keith, are good people in the truest sense, but they make mistakes just like the rest of us. Every impulsive act, meltdown and mending is lent a universal depth that makes them utterly human and transcends any sexual boundaries or stereotypes. The songs of the great Magnetic Fields come to mind in David and Keith's scenes of domestication. Stephin Merritt may be gay, but he's a person first, and the gender of the characters in his songs is almost a moot point in light the poetry of their words and actions. "Six Feet Under" works just like that. It's a show that strips away all the layers and facade of who we are--that as the things we most see in our day to day interactions--to reveal the soul and humanity beneath.

Even though Claire knows her boyfriend is a total dork, the kind who simply "hears a song on the radio, likes it, and goes and buys the CD at the store," she can't help but respect that simple logic. The purity of an action that isn't tainted by more elitist considerations that might drive the choices of the uber-hip undergroundist, possibly like some reading this here diary of indulgence. And ya know what? I know this guy. He's a friend of mine. He's a lawyer. He's money obsessed and kind of a dork in the art sense, but he's true to himself in a way that I often doubt in the indie/art scene. There's a lot more posing here than there ever was in so called mainstream society. I sometimes think I'm still a poseur too, and that I always will be. And I'm not sure it's a bad thing if I at least recognize that it's a natural impulse to want to be something else, be it better, beautiful, intelligent, "profound"... The goal is to step beyond the boundary of pretending to being, or to be more accurate, doing. Claire sees a guy that's comfortable with being, and who can blame her for wanting to have some of that in her life? Especially after a year or two of art school.

One of my favorite story devices in SFU is the inclusion of ghosts, not the kind that moan or go bump in the night, but they certainly haunt. These ghosts are merely an accumulation of memories as refracted through the minds of whoever sees them. What a concept, eh? It gives me shivers just thinking about it. One day we will all just be an accumulation of memories in someone's mind. Each person in the show sees his or her ghost a different way because their relationship to that person is unique. In other words, the ghosts are just surrogates for his/her own conscience. We all strive to be better, yes? At least I do, and I often wonder if my own judgment is enough. I tend to look to others for approval and dismissal, but always wish that my own was enough as I do so. Needless to say "Six Feet Under" gets to the heart of being and loving in a way that no other show ever really has, though the ones that come close are also HBO original productions.

Which reminds me, I love HBO. Last night I watched a show about porn stars with John Waters. Life is good, if not cheap.