Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Best of SXSW 2006 (F-G)

Well, there's a second bit-torrent out - bringing the total to about 900 MP3s - incredible especially considering that many bands didn't even submit audio. I remember when you could advertise the entire SXSW line-up on a single postcard!

So far my I've culled about 100 from the first 700 or so. Here are the "five star" selections but there were plenty of "three star" songs that I'm holding onto but just weren't noteworthy enough to include here.

In this group for instance, that second tier of songs included stuff from Fires Were Shot, First Nation (Animal Collective fans may like this band), The Femurs, The Foxymorons (recommended by a reader as well), Gorch Fork (they have better songs elsewhere), The Gossip, Grand National, The Glass Family and about a dozen more. And on a slightly lesser account, Gerbils, Forward Russia and The Gun Shys. All good stuff just nothing that really inspired me to write.

Although they don't have an MP3 up, one thing I noticed is that Glass Eye, an 80's Austin band, are doing a reunion at SXSW.

F for Fake - "Rome" - Charley Roadman (Evergreen) takes inspiration from travel in this Wilco-ish soft boy song. Lyrics sublime: "In Prague / we saw the basement discotheques / where the SS used to rest / and now all the schoolgirls are taking X / dancing through the Gateway to the West." This song alone interested me enough to purchase his latest record.

Faith Kleppinger (pictured left) - "Pickup Blue" - On the surface, this is a f-u postcard to a former boyfriend but Kleppinger's slightly throaty voice is what grabs you, then the comparisons to Yo La Tengo come next. Kleppinger writes copy for CNN's Headline News as her day job - I always find musicians' day jobs to be a trip.

The Flairz - "Rock and Roll Ain't Evil" - Rock and Roll IS evil and these pre-pubes (pictured right below) will someday learn that awful truth -- perhaps they'll even meet a record executive or two in Austin. The Ramones were perhaps the most evil rockers of them all and they appears to be The Flairz's role model. Which is pretty damn encouraging for us old fogies (our local DC pre-pube band Lemonheads seem to emulate Green Day, yecccch). But then they probably wrote this song for their parents in the first place.

Flip Grater - "Bedside Table" - Cat Power can't play at SXSW this year (in fact, it sounds like she won't be playing this year at all) so you'll just have to make do with this Kiwi stand-in. Very much like early Chan "learning to play my guitar" Marshall. Everytime I hear her name, though, I think about my first job, flipping burgers and grating cheese.

Flogging Molly - "Seven Deadly Sins" - Anyone up for Irish punk fucking pub pirate rock? As a proud son of the Flanagan clan, I fucking well am. Hand me that Guinness, love. They encourage stage diving, so go for it.

The Freak Accident - "Chinese Phrasebook" - Oh, bitch, this song is too cool for this Earth. On the lam from Victim's Family, Ralph Spight makes about a half dozen walls of noise-skank simultaneously.

Friends of Dean Martinez - "Cabeza de Mojado" - I don't like to parrot back what their liner notes say but "parched ambiance" is a great description of this epic desert instrumental. If Alex Cox ever does a sequel (or remake) of Straight to Hell, this is the band to be playing in the bar. "Go boil yer 'ead!"

Funeral Diner - "Collapsing" - This isn't that bad of a song but there were better songs in this bunch that didn't make the cut. I call it epic screamo (or as they say in their snotty liner notes: "what some have tagged 'screamo...'") served up with all the fixings. But I just wanted to point out what has to be one of the worst band names of recent history. If there was a Funeral Diner, what would they serve? Would it be attached to a funeral home or would it be in a giant hearse? Or are they referring to a person who eats food at funerals? Tsk, such bad manners, that. Or is this some sort of witty reference to cannibalism? Wouldn't Funeral Dinner be a better name?

Gena Rowlands Band - "The Last Words of Lesley Gore" - For awhile DC had the B-list celebrity band name market cornered what with Edie Sedgewick, Adam West and the Gena Rowlands band but rumor is that Bob Massey has finally gotten disgusted with the DC scene and moved to L.A. which is yet another big minus for this city. First Ariel, then Bob. Guess he means it when he sings here, "gonna leave this party now." But hey, Monopoli are playing somewhere tonight, so like buck up.

Gingerbread Patriots - "Wax Lips and Hummingbirds" - The fey indie pop lyrics and the random electronic beats aside, this song pulled me in with the nearly inaudible "ah ah ah ahs" that come between the verse and the chorus.

Girls from Hawaii - "Flavor" - They're from Belgium, their band name references Hawaii and they sound like American indie power chord pop. Warning: drum machine.

Goldenboy - "Summertime" - Wow, this guy has indie cred - not only was his band named by Elliot Smith but he's got the dead guy playing on this latest album. He's got the sweet California pop thing down so far, I wasn't sure if I was listening to Seals and Croft at first.

The Grates - "Sukkafish" - I jumped on their "Trampoline" last year and called them "new wave lo-fi for hot monkey sex" - although this song is 100 percent different from "Trampoline" - the best I can think of is Alanis Morrisette if she were likable and even more fey. It's the type of song that you want to put on leder-hosen and dance around the living room with the blinds open and a mug of beer in your hand. Not like I do stuff like that. You can stream the four song EP (The Ouch. The Touch.) that this came off at the band's website. Check out "Wash Me" and tell me whether they aren't channeling Lisa Suckdog.

Great Lake Swimmers - "Various Stages" - I've plugged these guys previously in my infrequent MP3 mixes and liked 'em so much I bought all their music as imports before it became available in the US. At their best they capture what I like about Neil Young. Not every song on this their second disc (Bodies and Minds) is a keeper but this song definitely is. I strongly recommend their debut CD.

Great Northern - "The Middle" - They sound like ELO at their least annoying and the Beatles at the height of their orchestral period. Great Northern is part of the The Ship studio "collective" that includes Earlimart and Grandaddy and if this is any indication, they are heads and shoulders above those two - and they ain't no slouches (well, Earlimart isn't).

Gretchen Phillips - "In Case of Rapture" - If you hate those smug Xtian bumper stickers ("In case of rapture, this car may be abandoned"), here's the revenge song for your car CD player. Gretchen made me laugh outloud last year with her dirty crush song "Swimming" and she continues here in her epic "rapture" - which starts out like a Joan Baez folk-rock strut, switches into a jazz waltz where Phillips suggests "why don't we stay here and try to make things work" and then stops cold to turn into a mock-gospel Dixieland rouser.

As for The Rapture taking away all those "Christians"... If only... if only.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Best of SXSW 2006 (C-E)

Cat Scientist - "I Saved An Airplane" - I really wanted to hate them just based on that band photo. It reeks of indie-self-satisfaction. Bearded and bespectacled hepcats rehearsing in the basement, living in AustinhomeofSXSW, the chick in the band with a goofy hairdo, the animal namecheck in the name, the whole snark and schmoo-bang ... and when I heard the toy keyboard drums leading off the cut I thought I was right. But now I can't shake the whole Jefferson Airplane feedback tinged vocals, the tongue-in-cheek topical lyrics ("I'm concerned about air safety / I worked on the problem for many hours") and the grooving rhythm stick, even the sitar and *sigh* Casio drums - hi-yah, ok I'm a believer. And they got extra points for not spelling airplane as "aeroplane" ((fun SXSW fact, there are two bands with the word "Aeroplane" in their names))

Catfish Haven - "Please Come Back" - There are bands with better names in this bunch (Coach Said Not To, f'rinstance) and while I hate the notion of calling them a lo-fi acoustic Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, I'm gonna have to and normally that would be an insult.

Charanga Cakewalk - "Belleza" - Some latin lounge music suitable for the Robert Rodriguez's next Desperado movie or the soon-to-be long-awaited sequel to Kill Bill.

Chas. Mtn. - "Mothure" - Quivering lo-fi folk (guitar and keyboards/handclaps) for the Western Vinyl showcase. Other songs available on their Myspace page are noisier urging comparisons to Akron/Family.

Chris and Thomas - "Take These Thoughts" - I hate when I agree with that Hollywood twerp on Morning Becomes Eclectic. I think their website mentions Nick Drake about 18,764 times just in case you don't get the picture but it ain't half as damaged or sad - mostly just good coffeehouse music. Yeah, I'm kinda resigned to the fact I'll be hating them in Starbucks in a year.

Christine Fellows - "Migrations" - A piano lady from Neil Young's homeland with a gift for unpredictable lyrics and pretty arrangements.

Crimson Sweet - "Eat The Night" - Take the singer from the Distillers, triple her whiskey and cigarettes intake and add an organ.

Curt Kirkwood - "Beautiful Weapon" - This isn't recommended but included for those who remember better days for this songwriter. Boring and bland.

Drums and Tuba
- "Four Notes of April" - If you've been paying attention, I've already linked to this MP3 in the past. Great music for driving - too bad the rest of the album doesn't measure up.

Duke Special - "Freewheel" - Awesome pop song that evokes Temptations, Beatles, Wings, Beach Boys, Country music (did I miss any).... whew. What Top 40 should sound like.

Editors - "Munich" - Franz Ferdinand in Interpol drag. And surprisingly, it works.

Elliot Brood - "Second Son" - This set is rife with folk and alt-country but even with a mandolin and bango, this rocks like a motherlover.

Erin Roberts / Porlolo (pictured right) - "Scratch My Back" - Can't you not be in love? She dances in flouncy thrift shop dresses, she sings like she has a mouthful of nickels and she plays trumpet and accordion. Fine, fine song, too.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Best of SXSW 2006 (A-B)

Well, I can't be there again - maybe when I retire? Until then I'll put together my homemade wristband and listen from afar. We're going alphabetical this year... you can browse ALL the bands, download the MP3s separately or as a bit-torrent (721 total MP3s), peruse the films, buy tickets, etc. from the main site. Just to be upfront about this - there's a ton of Coldplay/U2/Radiohed imitators, hip-hop, metal and pop-punk on the site - not my thing so you won't see too many of those cuts. Go watch MTV.

+/- - "I've Been Lost" - I have three other songs in my collection from this indie-pop outfit, this swirling and building confection is probably the best.

127 - "Coming Around" - Sam Beam goes to Southwest Asia and gets even more mellow.

A Hawk and a Hacksaw - "Portlandtown" - Proof that Neutral Milk Hotel was more than just Jeff Magnum and that Jeremy Barnes was perhaps behind much of the instrumental interludes. From their under-rated 2005 release Darkness at Noon. I caught them several months ago here in DC and was impressed - can't say the same thing of Magnum's "recent" live recording. Live footage currently here...

Adult Rodeo - "Buildings" - I have a general rule about not trusting bands with "rodeo" in their title. And they gotta come up with a better description than a "heavy but clean Buttholes and blurry Townes Van Zandt"... how about The Shins hoedown with The Hickoids?

An Albatross - "I Am the Lazer Viking" - The best tribute I've heard in a long time to Animosity-era Corrosion of Conformity singer.

Andy Pratt - "Avenging Annie" - No, it's not another Sufjan imitator - Andy has been around since 1973 and in fact this cut was a "hit" back then. Think the writers of Godspell meet Supertramp and form a Genesis tribute band - this is the song that comes 10 years later when they decide to branch out into writing originals.

Annuals (pictured left) - "x" - Nice little indie rock piece from the NoCar bunch who also front as Sedona when they aren't doing their Arcade Fire-with-electronics imitation. That's keyboardist Anna Spence in upfront picture (via myspace)

Antietam - "New Parade" - Included here only out of loyalty to what this band was. Boring down-low boogie and a crappy recording/mix. Where's Tara's guitar? UPDATE: Much better online tunes from this band can be heard here.

Ariel Pink - "Helen" - If you have Ariel's latest CD or you've been by his website, you may already have this but if you haven't heard this weird take on the Beach Boys recorded in a crappy 8-track home studio, here's your chance again.

The Arm - "Vile Lives" - I'm sure Mark E. Smith will like it that the kids are imitating him again. And at first I hated them for that but after repeated listens, I'm all over their website downloading everything else they got. Best self-referential line so far for SXSW: "I took a break from the art rock circuit / I took one look around and said fuck it."

Audion - "Tide" - Repetitive piece that perfectly captures the bored complacency and laconic apathy of electronic music.

Barbez - "Fear of Commitment" - Best song so far with a theremin and vibraphone. Comes out of that post-goth Russian cabaret East Village scene that no one else besides the performers has heard of. Really different. They're doing a whole March tour thing and I'm told the lead singer does part of the show in Victorian-era lingerie in case that's your thing. I mean, it's not mine.

The Bellrays (pictured right) - "Revolution Get Down" - Cool Animal House rock. If you saw footage of Tina and Janis rocking and thought that it wasn't such a bad thing, here's your next big thing.

Bexar Bexar - "The Krinkle of Henry's Heart" - Ambiance accompanying a lone acoustic guitar. From the whole Western Vinyl stable that includes Dirty Projectors and Madagascar who were previously featured here in Mp3 mixes.

Black Joe Lewis - "You Don't Love" - Well, he's black and his name is Joe Lewis and he sings/talks like James Brown doing the blues. He's also pretty damn young to be doing this (at least in his 20's). Not so enamored with the mix what with the Elvis back-up singers and the sax overpowering Lewis's sweat-on-the-walls wailing but it's different enough from the rest of the crowd to stand out here. An Austin local, so he's sure to bring out a loyal crowd.

Bound Stems - "My Kingdom for a Trundle Bed" - Apparently trying to conquer the world of indie-dork-pop, this cut is harmonically interesting enough that I'd go out of my way to hear more. I wouldn't crawl over broken glass or anything but...

Brother Ali - "Forest Whitiker" (sic) - A hip-hop Gospel tribute to being ugly as personified in one of our best actors - Ghost Dog is currently chewing up the scenery as this seasons "Big Good" on the Vic Mackey show. "He's is God's fingerprints..."

... and that's about all I kin take for now...

Link: I reprint some pages from Bill Callahan's fanzine Disaster here.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Suckdog: Drugs are Nice

self-released, 1990,

A slumber party for delinquent teenage girls (and a guy) who never had a slumber party. Their imaginary brothers are in the basement playing punk rock and the girls invade for a song or two to sing about dragons and beasties. They then go to the kitchen to suck on sugarcubes and bother Mom. Later, it's up to the bedroom to do those annoying things teenage girls do (scream, blather, scream, talk about boys, play with tape machines). The night ends in the proverbial attic contemplating love and death and listening to a music box as the New Hampshire winter snow falls. It's horrifying, it's retch-inducing, it's sad and makes for a great listen every few years.

Lisa Suckdog, ingenue, waif, then-pseudo-slut, performance-artist-as- Horatio-Alger- story, future sex authoress and companion of dangerous men corrals her New Hampshire freak family together and somehow produces a critically aclaimed vinyl release. Well, a few critics liked it (they've all since gone through detox and sell flowers on the street corner, though). Included in the line-up are members of GG Allin backup-band wanna-bes Insanicide. Think of this as sort of a King of Comedy with Lisa as Rupert Pupkin and Jim Hildreth as Sandra Bernhard (and GG Allin as Jerry Lewis, although he doesn't make an appearance, alas).

By the way, you can pretty much get the same experience of a good deal of this album, though, by going to Youtube.com and typing in pajama party, sleepover or farts (not that I've every done anything like that - ed.). Or you might, GG forbid, have a teenage daughter and have experienced it for yourself. Even so, this record and most of Lisa's life has been a kick in the teeth to the establishment. So, cheers.

Not much here really lends itself to iPodization - it's an album to hear all the way through and then go curl up in a corner and die. But the opening track ("Your Dragon") sounds like what might have happened had Julia Cafritz had the balls to strangle Jon Spencer and take over Pussy Galore and the closing track, "Brontes in the Attic", an early precursor to all those music box sounds that proliferate in music these days, makes the cut for me. Even before I had read Lisa's book. Ms Carver, who has since become an accomplished essayist and writer, described the making of this song in her recommended book, Drugs Are Nice (A Post Punk Memoir) as a soundtrack to a disintegrating adolescent love affair:

"Your Dragon"
"Brontes in the Attic"

  • Here's a link to Lisa's book Drugs are Nice in case you care to buy it. You should. You would understand so much more. And as the queen of branding, Lisa also has a DVD entitled, you guessed it, Drugs Are Nice: A Suckumentary. My friend Gordon Gordon (Teen Fag publisher) says it's "pretty good."
  • Lisa has succumbed to myspace.com fever to promote her book and documents her recent, and as per usual, storied "book tour" in her blog (she has run afoul of Satanists it would appear). There's a stream of one of her recent very punk rock recordings.
  • Lisa's Rollerderby site and her Suckdog site, where you can buy this album in CD format for $5.
  • Lisa is currently a hot commodity in da blogs. Number 1 Song has a typically confusing interview with her and Davy from Large Hearted Boy has her write about her book for his Book Notes feat.

Saved Round:

When asked about the similarities of the album cover for Drugs Are Nice to Roxy Music's Country Life, she wrote: I believe the same elements that caused them originally to pose or be posed like that caused similar posing in us.

Backcover - liner notes

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Battle of the Nearly Forgotten 80's (sort of) Bands, Covers Version

Since our last edition of the Battle of the Nearly Forgotten Retro/Punk Bands feature was so popular, I couldn't wait to bring it back in 2006. This time we concentrate on great covers. We have four contestants - three actual 80's bands and another band that wishes they were an 80's band.

As before, please vote for your favorite in the comments section.

1. Urge Overkill - "Lineman" - Glen Campbell originally covered this Johnny Webb song as a treacly, prime-time TV show friendly version replete with annoying syrupy strings. Urge Overkill strip off the gloss, replace it with bombast via sustaining guitar noise and near-feedback. Doing so reclaims the sad blue collar weariness of the original composition and rescues this song from Jukebox Hell. This came out during the prime period of this bands' (artistic) career arc - and was part of a great run of 7" cover releases by Touch and Go.

A legal 128 DRM version is available on iTunes. Urge Overkill's official website.

2. The Original Sins - "Sugar Sugar" - You may remember "Sugar Sugar" as originally performed by The Archies - but did you remember that it was the number 1 song of 1969 in many radio markets? Pretty funny considering how sacrosanct 1969 is to the Rolling Stone generation. Ironically, the song that included the lyrics "Pour a little sugar on it baby" was also made available as a flexi-disc on the back of cereal boxes. Ha ha. Anyone else kicking themselves for throwing that flexi-disc away when you "grew up"? Anyway...as a backing cut to one of the most blatant odes to pedophilia ("Just 14") ever written, the song seems part of Original Sins singer/writer J. Terlesky's plan to seduce the little Color Guard girl who lives across the street. "Pour a little sugar on me baby" takes on its more sinister second meaning. The Original Sins were all about sinister, though. If only they were more popular, they would have garnered the attention of the PMRC and become, like, REAL big. Don't worry, J.T. got the permission of the girl who appears on the cover photo.

This was one of the first releases from the venerable Bar/None Records. Here's a little history of The Original Sins... Terlesky performs mostly as Brother J.T. but website announces new Sins shows in Eastern Pennsylvania this month.

3. Poison Idea - "Kick Out The Jams" - Poison Idea won the last contest, so its fitting that they be measured up for a rematch. Here they respectfully take on and conquer MC5's most recognizable song. This song has something for everyone - solid drumming, Jerry A's powerful singing and a Tom Pig guitar break at 1:30. The picture disc has this on one side and a picture of Jerry A"Just to Get Away" on the flipside.

This song also appears on the Pajama Party LP.

4. Sons and Daughters - "Nice 'n' Sleazy" - They're not an 80's band, but they sure sound like one. The question is which one? X? Split Enz? Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds? Oingo Bongo?!? How about The Stranglers? Or better yet, how about a cover of one of my favorite Strangler's songs? Anyone ever notice that the verse - which reads like an Irish epic poem - seems to have nothing to do with the bar-band chorus? Too bad as I'd nominate this for the theme song of the current administration and their friends - feel free to rewrite the verse to fit.

Sons and Daughters website. Buy this single (which appears to be sold-out)... Their first album Repulsion Box is uneven but has some great tracks ("Medicine", "Monster", "Dance Me In" and "Regally Used"), though I admit the other songs have been growing on me over time. Unfortunately, it doesn't include "Nice 'n' Sleazy" either.

VOTING IS NOW OPEN (in comments section)


Announcing a new blog: Teenage Gluesniffer - it will discuss and reprint (under fair use guidelines) classic out-of-print fanzines and out-of-print underground comix. The first post features the fanzine Damp and reprints a Byron Coley interview. I'm going to try to do weekly updates - it's meant to be a TEAM BLOG, so if you got stuff buried in a drawer or in the back of your closet that's just itching to be scanned in and displayed for all the world to see, drop me a line in the comments section with your blogger ID. Everyone who participates gets a link on the top of the blogroll, of course (and can suggest / change the blogroll and template).

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Pig Champion, Guitarist, Poison Idea Died January 30th

"Laughing Boy" - Poison Idea from the Drinking is Great compilation

I contacted them once and offered my place as a crash pad if they would only come to Washington and play. They wrote back and said sure but suggested I instead come out there and see them (no offer of a crash pad, though, ha ha). "Laughing Boy" is the best representation of Pig's sizzling guitar work in their seminal early period.

The creatures gather: