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?