Thursday, March 31, 2005

MacRock MP3 Mix

Our little SXSW in the mountains is this weekend and I'll be there (thanks to Hilton Honors points). Just to compare, MacRock's keynote speaker is Amanda MacKaye (she's actually one of several) while SXSW's was Robert Plant. The line-up looks like its gonna be a rumble between the acid folkies and the retro-HC-punkers. There's a label expo on Saturday and hope to find some goodies. There's also the added benefit that the shows are mostly in large ballrooms, no smoking and drinking - alas, no photographs either.

Here's a car mix CD of some of the bands I hope to see. Note some of these cuts aren't all properly tagged so you may have to do some editing if you want to keep track of, you know, little things like band and song names. Sheesh.

Otherwise, they are all "free and legal"... MP3s I couldn't find were Black Mountain and Sunburned Hand of Man. Anybody got a hint?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Mysterious Matt Miller

Satan's Evil Twin, 4-song 7" EP
Chew Stick Records, 1991

Somewhere inside the unholy triangle of Gibby Haynes, Charlie Manson and Eugene Chadbourne resided The Mysterious Matt Miller, a one-shot 4-song 7" that was probably sent to every 25 cent fanzine in 1991. Four songs of pseudo-paranoid shock and schlock baby punk lyrics backed by manic strummed acoustic guitar and a white boy gutteral singing - perhaps what Jeff Dahmer, arrested in 1991, might have sounded like.

We still don't know who Matt Miller is although my money is one the guy who set up the original Internet shock-site ( a few years back that got geeks in a feeding frenzy. Besides, NPR Commentator Matt Miller has already denied any relation and I think we can rule out the bass player from Dreamwork indie ghetto band Sparta since this would be, like, a career killer to admit.

"I'm Going to Kill You" puts the infantilism of late '80s punk into an open mic night context. Way dated are "Let's Get AIDS" and "Amazing Disgrace" - what with refs to Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker and homophobic (probably pseudo but who cares) AIDs ranting, all those easy punk targets and anti-PC shock tactics from way back. But let's give Matt some credit for the clever "Goin' to Hell", about as good a summation of life in Lee Atwater's America. Substitute Ashley Simpson for New Kids on the Block and Desperate Housewives for "Steve and Marcy" (a Married with Children reference, I guess) and its just as current. And as Matt so rightly points out, at least in Hell they won't play Springsteen (or will they?). And anyway, if anyone deserves to go to Hell, its the guy for searing that image in everyone's mind.

But I have no proof he's the guy but Internet forensics (thank you, Wayback Machine) do suggest that the real Matt Miller morphed into a full-up Chicago band by the mid'90s and played shows with anarchist bands. Somewhere in the 90s, he formed a follow-on band called Catharsis and a record label (Fifth Column Conspiracy) that was releasing metalcore records as late as 1999 before it folded. Current whereabouts unknown.

"Goin' to Hell"
"I'm Going To Kill You"

The controversy (also here) tribute because we can never get too many variations of the original image
Wayback Machine's capture of Matt Miller's website

Daily Sonic podcast

I'm slowly coming around to podcasts. I haven't gotten so geeky that I'm like doing the whole RSS direct download BS but I play it at work in the morning. I like Daily Sonic despite the fact that they spammed me to get my attention.

DS is what NPR would sound like if they didn't suck. OK, some of their newsreading is college-y amateurville but they more than make up for it with the music and variety.

They've been at it for 15 daily podcasts. Today's has some great "library music" (an obscure genre I had never heard until this week), The Black Keys and news/comment with Aphex Twin and Belle & Sebastian in the bed. There are 420 MP3/Music Podcasts available at Podcast Alley. In case you have any recommendations of other Podcasts, leave a comment.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Bags return to Vinyl Mine

"Hide and Seek" b/w "I Know"
7" single, Staunton Park Records, 1989

Earlier this year I wrote about the Boston hard rock band The Bags and was happily surprised at the positive response I received. All those folks that were enthused will be happy to learn that since then, the band has reformed, launched a website and released a new album. I haven't heard it yet but The Noise gave it a good review and the original Vinyl Junkie Brett Milano has written an article on the band's reunion and calls their new album their best ever:

Imagine the post-therapy self-loathing of Metallica’s St. Anger played for laughs and you’d have the Bags’ "Believer" or "Ass Kicker" ("You’re gonna kick my ass, that I do know — Kung Foe"). So forget about this being just a respectable comeback and call it the Bags’ best album. Period.

Staunton Park has also got a nice bio up, some sound samples and you can buy the record directly from them.

This is from their 1st single on Staunton Park (actually their first single period) although they had released their crit. aclaimed LP Rock Starve two years prior. According to their website this is a"rare" single. The A-side "Hide and Seek" has been recently released in a live CD single. Here's the much better flipside song (aren't B-sides always better?) - so comb your hair forward so it falls in your eyes and start banging:

"I Know" - The Bags

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Slow Death!

Flamin' Groovies, 1986

One of those 45s that I found in the Yesterday and Today bin decades ago that just sang to me even though I didn't know anything about the band at the time except that they had written "Slow Death" and "Shake Some Action" (one of the top songs of all time) and a lot of cool musicians would cite them in interviews. This turned out to be Flamin' Groovies (1966-1992), Revision 3.0 (mid-80s version), from an Australian recording studio take that ended up on One Night Stand. This is generally considered a fan club bootleg. The packaging is like a mini-LP hard cardboard stock with band photos on the front and back. The Groovies in case you didn't know, are one of the most greatest unknown bands. They started in the mid-60s with all the other San Francisco bands, mutated into a power-pop band in the 70s and then went to their roots in the '80s. To say that they inspired the mid-70's punks is pretty accurate, I suppose - Gizmos, Ramones, Dickies all owe a debt of gratitude to this under-appreciated band.

The only original members by the mid'80s are Cyril Jordan (co-writer of "Slow Death" with Roy Loney) and bassist George Alexander. "Kicks" - the a-side- is a so-so cover of an old Paul Revere and the Raiders song. It might suffer a bit from the "bootleg" sound quality.

The Flamin' Groovies are pretty much a half cover band anyway, so its appropriate to mix "Kicks" with "Slow Death". In fact, some would say after Roy Loney left, they were basically a Flamin' Groovies cover band but that's not nice - Cyril did a great job of keeping them together for so long and keeping them vital and non-sell-outy. At any rate, "Slow Death" was Loney's last song for the band and one of my favorites. I think I have about three different version of it not to count the cover versions from other bands. This is one of the better ones.

One Night Stand is widely available and worth picking up after you get the remastered Teenage Head.

Mp3 sample:

"Slow Death"

All MP3s are limited time only meant to encourage discussion, interest and research into the subject. If original copyright holder objects, they will be removed post-haste.

  • The Flamin' Groovies supplement is an active fan site for the true believers with links to the band members' current projects, a comprehensive discography, gigography and tablature. In terms of content, its one of the best fan sites around.
  • Trouser Press entry on Flamin' Groovies
Note: I'll be off the grid for a few days seeking a persistent vegetative state or something near enough... Cheers, all.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Best of SXSW, The Final Chapter

And, thanks to another day of sickness I'm able to finish this project. This time we'll group them.

The Philosopher Kings

"Workshy Wunderkind" - The Nightingales - Robert Lloyd was one, perhaps the only of the original Birmingham UK post-Sex Pistols punks and this would be a show worth checking out tonight. He's also associated with the Manchester scene (flirting for a time with joining the Buzzcocks and Joy Division) - the influence of which you can clearly hear on this cut.

"Coming Clean" - Gary Lucas with Gods & Monsters - Another major show since Lucas rarely plays North American shows outside of New York. All Jeff Buckley fans should know Gods and Monsters - this incarnation includes the drummer from Television and the bassist from the Modern Lovers. Perhaps one of the most prolific and innovative guys around, he, like Lloyd rarely gets enough love.

"Brother Jim" - Johnny Dowd - One of those originals that's been scruffing about writing scuzz-lit songs. Not as disciplined, if that's possible to say, from previous stuff I've heard - he seems to be embracing the Haze's early approach to production.

"Wildfire" - Michael Martin Murphey - No, this isn't a joke. I had totally forgot about this song that made it big during the John Denver-Pure Prairie League era of Top 40 radio. Brings back memories of 5th grade girls who had horses on their notebooks and would write out the lyrics to this song inside. I'm surprised Murphey would offer this for free since its his one hit. His shows are said to be in the cowboy storyteller vein if you are in the mood for that sort of stuff.


"Filamented" - Timonium - A sort of slow-core mini-opera from this under-appreciated bunch. Call it their Bohemian Rhapsody.

"Eyelashes" - The Panda Band - Recalls Flaming Lips with a less restrained hand on the synth controls.

"Identical" - The Winter Pageant - Not suprisingly, they appear on the same bill as Timonium. Sigur Ros, Death Cab, Snow Patrol are all invoked. Very crisp production right down to the bells.

"Eyes Wide Open" - Hot Young Priest - It's only been a year but Fiery Furnace sound-alike bands are popping up all around the place. If you ran a voice print of Eleanor against this singer, you'd probably get a 100% match. The band and songs are more traditional with an almost No Doubt feel at times.

They Rawk!

"Why Did I Listen to You?" - NRA - Get into Rollins stance, boyos - this Dutch band is gonna teach us how to rock again.

"zebra" - Man Man - Another cut from this enigmatic band complete with dog barks, marimba, jazz trumpet and what sounds like a snakecharmer. This could have very well fit into the the above and below categories.

It Came From The Garage

"Astral Man" - The Gore Gore Girls - 3-chords, 50's Sci-fi lyrics, fuzzed out guitar, a hooky chorus - how can ya go wrong.

"That Beast" - Faceless Werewolves - A bookend to the previous song. Maybe we can get a rumble going between the two bands.

"Unless" - Outrageous Cherry - Psyche fave. The band consists of two guys in their 30s and 40s and two pretty young girls in their 20's. Yeah, rock and roll!

Girls With Guitars

"how shall i love thee" - Rose Polenzani - Liz Phair's long lost guttermouthed sister. Impressive home recording skillz in play here.

"Not Going Anywhere" - Keren Ann - An MP3 blogger sweetheart (they wish) - this file has been available for awhile but makes for a nice late night tune.

"the littlest birds" - The Be Good Tanyas - Has that Cocorosie two-females-with-different-voices vibe but as if they grew up with Paul Simon instead of Suckdog.


"semaphore" - Jakob - Emyreal pop construct in search of lyrics. Recalls that Malaysian psychedelia I was blogging several months ago (Furniture). No surprise then that they are from New Zealand... - trust me, give it some time to build, it's got a great payoff.

"The Shining One" - Black Sun Ensemble - 10 minute long Middle-eastern blanket jam.
And Finally...the last song...

"Demographic" - Hard Place - Why not leave on a down note? A bracingly cold bucket of cynicism puts things in perspective. Sounds like something Tin Huey might have written after their major label experience and then given to Sparks to record.

Final thoughts: Whew! There's a lot of good music here and I've got a handful of bands that I'm going to add to my collection and keep an eye out for if they come to my region. I'm not a fan of all of it - a bit too much country and I'll be weeding out my library for the next few weeks of some of the rap and metal. If you were at SXSW and saw any of the bands I wrote about, I'd like to hear about it. And as usual, if I missed something (there were some good cuts here that I just couldn't get inspired to write about), just throw a word or two in the comments - I have thick skin. I'll get back to the vinyl after a little break.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Best of SXSW, Part Dive

Rules, rules, everyone talkin' 'bout rules. We have rules here in the Vinyl Mine. Always wear your protection; be anxiously vigilant towards germs and always clean your needle thoroughly after use. By protection, I meant headphones and by germs I meant dust - you cheeky monkey. Of course by needle, I meant... oh... forget it.

What? You means MP3 blogs rules? Well, let's break them all today.

Number 1 rule - never complain about your health or job. Since I'm not at work today because of my health, I'll limit my gripes to the former rather than the latter. Every cold, virus, flu, infection what have you seems to have characteristics that when you share them with others, they go - "oh yeah, I had that too" and strangely, it's always different each year. This year's "visitor" consists of a constant low-level headache, a foreign tasting goop in the back of the throat, a fumey sinus (fumes being created by that foreign goop) and infrequent sneezes that give you a Mike Tyson 1-2 body and head shot simultaneously. I hates it, Batman, makes it go away.

Rule number 2 - Never bleg. Never, ever, ever, bleg. Blegging is for cooties. But, I admit that I don't know it all and my tastes are just my tastes. If I missed a band you thought deserved more mention, just throw a comment in the ol' comments section. It will only take 45 minutes to load. Blogger has a head cold these days as well, doncha know.

Rule Number 3 - If someone yells stop or goes limp, the fights over. Oh sorry, wrong movie. But I am limp. It's because I'm sick! Really!

And with that TMI - its part five (or part 2 of Friday) from SXSW's massive collection of free and legal MP3s. These are the ones I'm a keepin - in a "mix CD" order:

"Night of The Arrival" - Jud Newcomb - There are tons of these Sufjan/Sam Beam/Devendra/etc influenced types. Here, the singer sings a sweet song to himself about a woman waiting for a mystery train.

"Flashes and Cables" - Centro-matic - Disregarding the lousy band name (what? was Jam-a-rama taken?), this is a good bridge into a more uptempo feeling. With that Wilco/Americana/80's College Rock feel, the song combines lyrics and chord progressions and a song bridge made for singing along (ba-ba-da-ba-dum) into a wistfulness that will certainly bring back memories years from now of being holed up in my apartment resigned to this year's head cold.

"Gigolo" - The Crash - Finns recall Emotional Rescue era Stones and late 70's Phillie disco which y'know in retero-spect doesn't sound so bad these days.

"Pan American Blues, Pt. 2" - Papercuts - A band with that afternoon Jeweled Antler sound taken out of the country and plopped into an empty practice space with only a Galaxie 500 tape to listen to during breaks. Soars in the chorus.

"Hollow" - Fires Were Shot - Opening at the Copa tonight, this looks to be the band you want to time your your first hit of acid for (Samadha for the second hit).

"Huddle" - The Go! Team - Remember that boy-girl band from several years back that was in the Disney stable? They did that treacly bubblegum song and rode around in a video on yellow scooters. I think the girl was pregnant. It was like the most annoying moment of that year, I think. The Go! Team are the revenge on those types of bands.

"Thirteen" - The Resentments - The statutory love that dare not speak its name as a gravely voiced adult sings an alt-country song of lurve to a pubescent girl. Usually, these things are wonderfully sleazy (remember The Original Sins? I do). But with lyrics like"Remember what we said about Paint It Black" and "Would you be an outlaw for my love" make it oddly platonic and cloyingly sweet. Jud Newcomb (above) is in this Austin band.

"The Money You Have Maybe Too Little" - Oxford Collapse - I've been digging my old Meat Puppets records lately so everything seems to sound like the Pups including this band even if the vox are falsetto-tuned and it tends more towards jamband than punk. That said, I'll forgive them their future embarassments if this comes up on the Shuffle every so often.

"happiness and misery" - Tywanna Jo Baskette - A girl with a guitar, some Bedroom Walls MP3s, a spacey voice and a song that sits so directly right in front of you that you swear its on its a ghost dog on its haunches begging for a treat. And ain't that a name for the ages? Nashville singer-songwriter that you're gonna have to keep your eyes on.

"Go Go Evil" - DMBQ - You have to follow a haunter like that with some Japanese acid rock, right? Warning! Warning! Extended Jam in Progress! Do not download unless you actually watched and liked the entire Alvin Lee sequence in Woodstock the Movie!

"rice cake rabbit soul" - Dawn of the Replicants - And the songs just keep on getting weirder and "crunchier" (thanks South Park). I know this will become my new ear worm and there's nothing I can do about it. ricecakerabbitsooooow-oooll...

"Old Fashioned Morphine" - Jolie Holland - Although the songs on the SXSW download site have to be originals, you'll recognize this as a rework of an classic blues song by a woman with what can only be unrequited love for Tom Waits. Unlike Mr. Waits, Ms. Holland's voice though makes me want to rub my ears against her velvet gloves. And it has a shout-out to William Burroughs (and keeping with the current Friday night recreational drug meme).

"Lottery Winners on Acid" - The Crimea - Puppy love is like a drug too. The song captures that thought perfectly if not literally. If you could eat songs, this would be a tastey brownie.

"Ohh La La" - Ditty Bops - A more folky Tegan and Sara with promo pix that scream jailbait even more so than T&S but this song is capital-M Mah-tore (as my 8th Grade Geography teach useda say) and could just as easily be put on the closing credits for Deadwood as it would for The OC.

"The Story Of" - The Heavenly States - Some retro-swirly folk pop for y'all repleat with power chords, power violin and power guitar leads and even power vocal hook (the "Hey! Hey! Hey!" part). One of the bands that would be on my dance card if I were in Austin this weekend. They unfortunately open for Nicholai Dunger (shudder, getting sicker, fast - get the Motrin).

"Take These Thoughts" - Chris and Thomas - Well, the Kings of Convenience are playing elsewhere tonight so if you can't get in you might want to check these guys out (they open for the Ditty Bops). A nice plucked mandolin hook in this one.

"This Isn't It" - Giant Drag - So after all that ethereal folk pop and such, its time to get a little bit pop, a little bit grunge. I'd probably get tired of this L.A. "cool" band but this song sneers and cocks it hip at you just so that you feel like Annie Hardy's confidant and maybe that cool will rub off on you if only for three minutes. Breeders fans, take note.

"starting five" - dios malos - This came up on the Ipod shuffle twice. I think someone is trying to tell me something cuz it takes several tries to sell me on this type of jangly diddy pop. Foward onto Fluxblog.

"Swimming" - Gretchen Phillips - Just a smidgen of Teen Beat Happening Jad Fair Esmirelda weird (okay, alot more than a smidgen) infects the lyrics of this girl-with-a-guitar and a mad queer crush on a fellow swimmer. Reportedly (well, according to her website), an influence on Le Tigre and Pansy Division.

"Girl Talk" - Starky - OK, now its time for that infectious proto-Top 40 song from the vaguely punk band from Sydney with the awful name which probably dooms all their hopes and dreams of success. Might as well enjoy them now, eh?

"Vampire Beats" - The Mai Shi - They may think they're avant-experimental but this song is one slab of LOUD FUCKING DRUNK BAR ROCK.

"Televise" - Calla - No, you can't chill out now. Get the fuck up. Watch the golden watch go back and forth. You are getting sleepier yet oddly more energetic. You are shifting from side to side as if in a zombie trance. Moohaahhaa.... Dance, puppet, dance - dance the dance of modern destruction!

"No Name" - Picastro - Not exactly chill-out - its way too jagged and dissonant but certainly a breath catcher. Go get a drink of water, you and tell those people at the bar to SHUTTHEFUCKUP!

"New Slough" - The Blue Van - Epic garage-psyche Danish blues-rocker makes for a great pre-encore (what we used to call the final song in the set) raver.

"I Love You Cuz I Have To" - Dogs Die in Hot Cars - They win our "best band name ever" award (the prize is a PETA shirt). Ska-garage UK collective looking for some SXSW buzz. Buzzzzzzzzzzz. There.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Best of SXSW (is it part four already?)

My purpose-driven life this week is to try to get through all of this incredible music. I'm getting turned onto a lot of new bands but maybe the next chapter in my purpose-driven life (after getting pancakes made for me and hanging up some curtains for this lady I abducted) will be finding the scratch to buy records from all these bands I've discovered. OF course, the real question, pancakes or no, is will I be able to finish this quest before the incompetent Atlanta police come bashing down the door of the good Christian woman who has allowed me hole up here.

So without further's another batch - from the FRIDAY mix - this time with songs in alphabetical order. Great songs all:

"Alone and unaware, the landscape was transformed before our eyes" - Red Sparowes - I'm really enamored with this lengthy psyche rock instrumental - it was already available from their website and comes off their latest album - where the song names are all sentences which when put together form a coherent paragraph. Huh. I found it to be a great late night jam.

"Artificial Intelligence Agency" - Detholz! - A song that I almost clicked off after 30 seconds because the verse was somewhat of a rehash of '80's new wave but am glad I stuck around for the melodic hooky chorus. Give it a chance.

"Anonyme" - Samadha - You would think the Kenny G. sax that oversees this spacey instrumental jazz would be cause for turning all the 1's and 0's into neutrons but I was in the kitchen working on my pancakes so I couldn't turn it off. Like moss, it grew all over me until I just fell asleep in the forest surrounded by capricious critters wearing sunglasses and smoking magical white powder.

"Aye, Me" - Living Better Electrically - OK, I had put a ban on all songs that references "cracks in the ceiling" since I saw Jared Hendrickson perform but I'll make an exception for this piece. Ziggy Stardust writes a song for Queen and then sings it himself.

"Baaah-Sheep-Baaah" - Oh, Beast - A funny one especially when considering SXSW in general.

"Banging Everything in Sight" - Tomorrow's Friend - A kind of lo-fi answer to Fiery Furnaces. All-female (and growing) Brooklyn collective that is going to be on my watch list if only to protect myself when walking down the street.

"Banquet" - Bloc Party - Franz Ferdinand goes to bed with that bloke from Interpol that looks like Crispin Glover but wakes up in the morning to discover Andy Gill under the sheets. I'm not on the bandwagon but I'm walking covertly behind the bandwagon waiting for them to throw some remixes of this out hoping that no one notices.

"Bobbed Hair" - Titan's Go King - Puts the bop back into Shonen Knife if the bop were an inbred Japanese hillbilly.

"Bright Young Men" - The Arm - They are bright young men and you shall know them.

"Bring On Happiness" - L'altra - Gorked-up indie-pop full of little aural prizes that pop up here and there - like the little girl voice and the back and forth mix - stick in your headphone mixes.

"Curve That Byrd" - Head of Femur - Brit-style Orchestral rock as filtered through the Meat Puppets and then run through the Flaming Lips filter.

"Filthy Boy" - Punish the Atom - I'm on the fence about this one because it reminds me too much of the late unlamented Hooters and their reggae pop but then it reminds me of PiL, too so you can see how I'm torn.

"Fake French" - El Guapo aka Supersystem - Another headphone song that, not counting the sarcastic vocals, was probably made entirely on a computer. Plus its a Dischord band (now Touch and Go). First Edie Sedgewick and not this... I'm really becoming a wavo, aint?

"First We Must Meet the Elders" - Gorch Fock - If the new Dr. Who movie wants to be hip, they oughta have this avant-orchestral scorcher on the soundtrack. Great way to end the mix given what we started with.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Best of SXSW (Part Tree)

I would like to thank the academy, my bandmates, my Mom (but not my Dad), my dog and Suzie the paper delivery girl who once one early morning showed me the... oh... sorry, I mean to say that all the bands are great especially the ones that I downloaded and kept. But there still have to be some that rise to the top. Some that we share our special Jesus Juice with. Bands that help us find our comfort zone and that promote Democracy and Freedom. Because, um, freedom... oh shut up and get on with it.

In no particular order except that it makes for a great but just a little bit too big Mix CD, here's the REST of Thursday night at SXSW and I'm still waiting for my free plane ticket to Austin from whatever record label wants to sponsor me.

"Celebrate" - Maxon Blewit - Maxon did not blow it - he made a slinky, sexy song.

"Asleep in the Back" - Brent Palmer - oh that rising and falling cello note just starts to make my tear ducts choke up. One of those sentimental road songs that's just a little too sentimental but I'm pretty soft these days on singers that sound like Iron and Wine.

"Maremaillette" - A Hawk and a Hacksaw - Neutral Milk Hotel follow-on that sounds like it was by some Italian-Bulgarian-Greek small-g gypsies that wander to and fro through Thrace playing for, I dunno, shekels or whatever passes for money in that part of the world and then ascend into heaven in Anotonev flying flatbed trucks ...Instead they're from Albuquerque, the town we hate to spell.

"I Predict a Riot" - Kaiser Chiefs - This track has been around the block several times as a freebie MP3 and supposedly a big hit in their UK but its still pretty gamma - kind of a reworked ska meets Clash thing that serves as a sequel to "Ghost Town" - suffers a bit from a muddy mix.

"Love is an Arrow" - Aberfeldy - A more robust Kings of Convenience - not sure why they classify themselves as, this is like more slick Beat Happening pop.

"Yeah Yeah Yeah" - Greyhounds - Shame on you rockists for liking booty-shaking sleazy funkshit like this and not, like, listening to Gwen Stefani or sumpin'!

"Tales of Ordinary Sadness" - Electrocute - Hmmmm... any band that names their song after a Bukowski book deserves a listen. And although this is nothing like a Bukowski book, I'll remain a sucker for flippant girl garage punk TO MY DYING DAY. "Delicious Berlin brats" says their adblurb.

"Rock This Town" - The Late Great Daniel Johnston - Of all the old-timers in the Thursday line-up like John Doe, Chris Stamey and Judah Bauer good ol' Danny boy won't let me down. And while we don't endorse the use of illegal substances, we will fight to the death for Daniel Johnston's right to use pot if he continues to churn out weird bar rock like this.

"Man Don't Walk" - Low Frequency In Stereo - Had my finger on the "clear" key in the first couple measures but let it wash over you. The singer has this weird affectation where when she breathes in she sounds a tiny little heavy metal growl.

"Losing a Year" - Jeff Hanson - This one brought me to a full stop. First of all, its incorrectly titled as Hiding Behind the Moon, a song from his previous album that's been available on his website for a year or so. This is actually from his NEW album (self-titled) so maybe he's pulling one over on his label or somebody just fucked up. The other reason it brought me to a full stop was because its one of the better songs here building from a quiet acoustic guitar haunter into an astonishingly powerful band piece.

"Wonderful Night" - Fatboy Slim - yeah, he's not cool anymore but anyone who's a friend of Spike Jonze is okay by me. And given that this was a big ol fargin' hit from his newish album and not previously available to my knowledge in MP3 format, better snatch it up.

"The Hidden Track" - Earlimart - Oh, this is like O.C. soundtrack bait, right?

"bombs" - Impossible Shapes - An already garage-psyche classic - it's been out for awhile as a freebie download but here's another chance to snag it.

"When The Earth's Last Picture Is Tainted" - Milton Mapes - Austin band that must worship Neil Young & Crazy Horse but hate his voice and add an additional wall-of-fuzz to the mix.

"Jayne Field" - Paik - One of the few instrumentals in this mix so you voxists will hopefully forgive me. One of those "I can't believe three people can make that much racket" bands. If you've got a doobie, smoke it before the show.

"Black HOney" - Mainline (IRE) - Part of the "Music From Ireland" set at the Soho lounge though I can't hear anything "Irish" in it and I don't just mean that in a U2 or Trad. or Pogues sense. I mean, they sound like a Brit post-Jesus and Mary Chain band. Fucking posers.

"My Delusions" - AMPOP - Antony (of & the Johnsons) with a weird accent fronting Sigur Ros with songs written by Jeff Lynne hopped up on prescription medication.

"Walk Away" - Experimental Aircraft - Sounds Brit but its really, wha? Austin?? You mean you can listen to this and eat rosemary taco carnitas?

"I'll be Yr Bird" - M. Ward - OK, so it's bit derivative of everything that's been happening in the past few years in the folk acid world, but who isn't? And its mercilessly short - I almost thought it was an edit but no.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Best of SXSW (Part 2)

Well, see the previous post for background - I got through about half of the Thursday night downloads. No promises about getting through everything before burning out. The best track is the last one!

"Alive with Pleasure" - Viva Voce - Cheery enough two-part song (a la Arcade Fire) that reminds me a little of "Funeral For a Friend" (Elton John) as done by some refugees from the Polyphonic Spree.

"I'm so Funn" - Tuxedo Killers - Lives up to its title if you're example of "funn" is ripping apart better No Trend into a sort of Ska damage. Sure, I can buy that.

"Safari 3" - Thunderbirds are Now! - Don't just eat the rich - eat this city, whoa. For those who last dined on Detroit Punk and had indigestion over the Von Bondies, here's some to chew on instead.

"Most People Over 40" - The Sundresses - Isn't it about time somebody replaced that tired Kill All Hippies phrase with Kill All Punks?

"Going Back Home" - The Priests- Ray Manzarek's organ is pulled out of the basement and Jan Savage gets a new, noisier and louder guitar. A male Tex Jones sings.

"Said The Spider to the Fly" - the pAper chAse - An acidic, paranoid cynic with a Billy Corrigan voice falls apart in 4.2 Megabytes. I'm almost surprised the file just doesn't corrupt itself.

"Blue Collar Butterfly" - The Oktober People - At almost six minutes, this slow indie shimmer-pop piece takes some patience but worth a try.

"Terrier" - The Moaners - I hate Quizilla but I can't help but haveta wonder after hearing this song, what kind of dog am I? God, I hope I'm not a terrier? Garage punk with a bite - hilarious because tis so true.

"The Swish" - The Hold Steady - A song that references everything from Nina Simone to Robbie Robertson to the Tuscan Raiders can't be all that bad.

"Try Telling That To My Baby" - The Heavy Blinkers - Freda Payne, The Temptations and Edison Lighthouse could have written this and played it in Phillie's greatest Top 40 radio station, WFIL in 1970.

"Trampoline" - The Grates - New wave lo-fi for hot monkey sex.

"Comm. Jet (Creepykid Remix)" - Single Frame - Modest Mouse with a ton more fuzz and synth that somehow works.

"Free Man Now" - Southern Bitch - You might be surprised I liked this - I had a girlfriend that loved Skynrd and I could even handle them being overplayed but that damn Rossington-Collins band broke my fucking back and I never looked back.

"Same Fears" - Shellshag - Minimalist snot-rock. Sounds like 1/2 a drum set, one guitar and vocals. One of this bunch's standouts if you like that sort of stuff.

"Rings of Symbols" - Pilotdrift - A fusion of Ravi Shankar with acid folk yields a stunning track - if you download one, try this. If I was in Austin on Thursday, I'd be at the Hideout at 11PM. Arcade Fire - Flaming Lips fans, take note - this band will be mentioned in the same breath soon enough.

Some other bands that had good tracks in this bunch were pluto, The Things, The Spades, The Salteens, The National, The Oranges Band, The Ladies and Gentlemen, The Have, The Heatseekers, The Deathray Davies, The Get Hustle, The After Party, Strikeforce Diablo, The Business Machines, ST 37, Stan Ridgway, Seki Solagbade, Run Chico Run, Rachel Loy. I'm gonna give 'em a second chance if there's enough time. But I still have 3 1/2 more nights to go.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Best of SXSW (or at least Day 1)

SXSW has over 600 MP3s available for free download. Some of them were already available on the band's websites. Others were available only on streaming audio and in some cases, some are newly offered.

I went to just the Wednesday, March 16th page and ended up downloading 168 files (about 600 Mb). Out of those files, two were not properly tagged, so I threw them away. After an initial listening, I pared the list down to 78 files and from there I whittled it down to 32 standouts songs, in reverse alphabetical order.

Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt - We Are Scientists - recalls late '80s English rock (Red Lorry/Yellow Lorry, Love and Rockets). Drums and Bass are tightly connected at the hip bone with the guitar providing the swing.

The Ghost of the Girl in the Well - Willard Grant Conspiracy - Cavian/Cashian Western song with Stephen King lyrics/story about a ghost haunting her killer through the wasteland.

They Got Cameras in their Pocket - Whitey Houston - Cymbal slammin' bar band rock - makes you want to gulp down a pitcher of beer, wave your first in the air and forget that your jeans have ridden down below your crack and your t-shirt is riding up. It's okay cuz no one really notices.

Lie In The Sound - Trespassers William - Lucinda Williams woke up and found she was 20 years old again, had only a pea-sized hangover and had only smoked one cigarette in her sleep. She's still alone, though.

Night is Over - The Urgencies - Holy shit, the Divine Horsemen have reunited? Maybe no but they've sure got the Chris D. - Julie C. vocals down.

Move that Strut - The Real Heroes - I counted four hooks. Vocalist is a dead ringer (in sound) to Lou Reed. "Flash Flash Flash"

Teenage Oddball - The Sweethearts - Not punk in the current MTV sense but in that Little Steven sense. Not the first band that has discovered that "teenager" and "stranger" kinda rhyme and probably not the last.

The Rockstar Guide to Falling Apart
- The Pretty Please - If Katrina and the Waves were harder edged and had sleazier lyrics. Great song title.

You've Got to Want to Be A Star - The Besnard Lakes -Longish track that shifts and melts from something to something else entirely, bringing in vocals, does this and then does that. If it were wallpaper, it would be wallpaper with an LCD HDTV large screen attached playing clips from some TV teen drama where the kids listen to stuff that 30-something writers and producer adults thing they should be listening to instead of Avril.

Backdoor Carni - Tarantula - Soundtrack to a documentary about artists working in an autocratic Balkan or Caucasus country with an unpronounceable name. This is the montage where the brave young artists are shown creating vaguely revolutionary modern art intercut with scenes from an wedding, troops facing off against protesting students and old wizened farmers confronting their guerilla art in public places. The final scene has the artist collective gathering for a meal of food we have never heard of. They hoist their dirty glasses of clear liquor and the sun sets.

Massive Cure - Smoosh - The best of the lo-fi recordings here.

Television - Robyn Hitchcock - I don't normally like him but this is a nice almost Norah Jones w/o the piano-ish love song to the boob tube. I did get a kick out of seeing him in that Denzel Washington film - maybe he can be the next Bond villain.

I Am The Queens of Comparisons - Rescue - The best of the neo pop punk songs here and one of my favorite cuts here. More!

Impossible - Pleasant Grove - Not the most challenging song in the bunch but one of the better indie pop songs here. Has an effortless hook, pristine production and an interesting soundscape.

I Am A Gun - Parker and Lily - And now, live from your basement its Willie Nelson backed by Galaxie 500.

Keep Happy - Papa Mali - Reminds me of that New Sounds from the Delta CD that came out on Fat Possum.

Halycon (Beautiful Days) - Mono - I love all these quiet bands. Nice build from acoustic guitar duet to shimmering mandolins and what sounds like a full string orchestra backup and then back to a quiet cello and then it explodes into a feedback-loaded send-off - sort of the theme to Twin Peaks rethought and stripped of its melody.

Ciudadano - Maneja Beto - Laid back, alt-Latin space age jet car music... How long before David Byrne fronts them?

Old New York - Luke Temple - Wonder if Paul Simon knows how many hipsters out there dig him and his older urban folk solo career.

Bring Me Down - Jupiter and Teardrop - If Aimee Mann had a sex change and wrote slightly dumber lyrics, would she be this guy? Perhaps. Or maybe she's just in town to serve him.

I Do Dream You - Jennifer Gentle - Here I thought I had heard just about every take one could make on garage rock and then I heard this. It's like a band purposely trying to sound like a 33 RPM record being played at 45 RPM by Herman's Hermit's offspring.

Mr. Atom - Hurts to Purr - Now if she sings this in a long cocktail dress and walks around the audience sitting on people's laps and messing up their hair AND pulls it off to boot, I'd be really impressed. As such, its the first lounge lizard sci-fi song I've heard in good while. We shall rule the galaxy, indeed.

Out of Sight - Hilary York - Sad, sad girl with sad guitar sings sad, sad song about sad girl and her sad boy as observed by a sad girl...

Stone Age Bug - Fantasy's Core - This celebrity rocker thing is out of hand. First Juliette Lewis and now Bob Goldthwait is fronting the Panther Burns?? What's the world coming to??? Oh, its just another crazy-azz Japanese band.

18 and Drastic - Carter Tanton - If lo-fi was all that was played on the Top 40 radio stations and people listened to it like they listen to, say, hip-hop these days, this song would ride the charts for a few weeks and years later people would remember the song fondly and write about it in their weblogs.

In Spain - Buttercup - Paul Westerberg but without the inflections and sense of shame. Ends with a funny, Beatles-ish marchout.

It's Christmas Time Again - By the End of Tonight - Prog-rock instrumental with a sense of humor and an ability to steer clear of all the cliches. It take a while to warm up to - especially the recording choice they made with the drums. File into background music playlist.

Eve's Rib - Bikini Atoll - At first I'm thinking pretentious twaddle but its got a nice propelling structure and that jaw rattling bass in the beginning. Not the best song here but a keeper.

Dance On - Asleep in the Sea - The funniest cut - like Modest Mouse but on ludes. Shambles around and then all of a sudden their crooning in perfect Lennon-McCartney harmonies. Weird.

Ep[i]phany - Appogee - There's lots of indie-pop synth shoogazer stuff at SXSW. These even has the whispered lyrics and despite the pretentious title, it's pretty good.

Ladies and Gentlemen - American Music Club - Is it possible to make a hybrid of Elvis Costello and Nick Cave with a jazz-noise outfit? I leave it as an exercise for the listener to determine the answer.

2/3 - Album - ..., wha?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

BASTRO: "Shoot Me a Deer" b/w "Goiter Blazes"

Homestead Records (7"), 1989

This single came out to herald the release of Bastro's 2nd album Diablo Guapo (translated: Handsome Devil). While Drowned in Sound says Bastro inspired Shellac, I always saw Bastro as a Big Black/Rapeman stalker band but without the baggage, snide vocals and confrontational nature of Mr. Albini. But they had everything else down pat, even down to the drum machine, irony, hats, strip clubs and autopsy photos. This album, though, canned the rhythm black box for a real live drummer, future Tortoise/Sea Cake dude (and then Oberlin music major) John McEntire. Even with the live drummer (um, hello Rapeman...), I'd warrant that it wasn't until Gastro del Sol that Mr. Grubbs truly found his voice. That said, he does have a distinctively different guitar style than Albini even if I can find little difference between their bass players. But I'm willing to put up with a Big Black stalker band any day of the week and a pretty good one at that. I mean consider the alternatives (i.e. the 2nd Squirrelbait album).

"Shoot Me a Deer" appears on the recently re-released (and re-mastered) Diablo Guapo (coupled with swansong 1990 swansong Sing the Troubled Beast). Its on Drag City supposedly released last month but is now curiously "temporarily available". Oh well, until then, enjoy "Goiter Blazes" -- it's co-authored by Mark Robinson (Unrest) and oddly left off the Drag City release.

Bastro was:
David Grubbs - Guitar/Vox
Clark Johnson - Bass
John McEntire - Drums

"Goiter Blazes" - Bastro (Bastro/Robinson)

Disclaimer: Limited availability - two week timeframe. Recorded directly from vinyl so do not take this as representative of the final sound quality.

Bonus MP3:
"Tobacco in the Sink" - Bastro Live, October 1991 from Fidel Bastro website

References and Links:

Decemberists album set to drop...

The Engine Driver - legal download via Kill Rock Stars

The Decemberists launch their long awaited (well, it hasn't been that long and it's already been much heard thanks to file sharers) pop-folk album, Picaresque on March 22nd. KRS has their tour dates and has announced that early copies will go out via mail order. The main KRS page has some of their latest characteristically goofy photos.

While much of the neo-folk community seems to want to revive the more obscure acts of the '60s, "The Engine Driver" (and indeed much of the album) instead recalls classic '60s country-folk. Grok Glen Campbell - one of the verses is even about a lineman for the county - and Johnny Cash if you need to (although I'd prefer to remember Crystal Gayle and Cher).

Its the oft-repeated story of the guy who loses at love and buries himself in his work - but rather than just focusing on blue collar losers, the song makes the story universal - standing or sitting in the boots and shoes of the train engineer to the rich banker - and most centrally the songwriter himself. And it further asks the question - do we become defined by our work or our love - and what if our only solace is our work when love fails? And... is it really solace when all we can do in our work is think about... well, you get the picture. The repeated verse:

And I am am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I've written pages upon pages
trying to rid you from my bones

brings it home to the song writer himself.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Oh, you live for the weekends...

Or at least that's what someone told me at work today.

Little did she know I spend my Friday's surfing the net looking for a song to blast out my windows with and announce to my neighbors that well, I live for the weekends. This post-hardcore hardcore hosanna comes fresh from one of the top bands on the KL scene - not one of my favorites, mind you, but this song hits the sweet spot.

"Reconcile" - Love Me Butch

Photo used without permission from The Star - articles on band here and here