Friday, November 23, 2007

I really, really will return someday

But until then... Bomp Records has, along with Mick Farren, put out a Bomp! Magazine retrospective. I'm told the books are now in stock and if you order direct from Suzy Shaw, you get a T-shirt and CD to go along with it. Great thing to give or get for the you-know-what season. Here's some marketing verbiage from the widow Shaw:

When Greg died I knew it was the most important job I had, as this book is not just the story of BOMP and Greg Shaw, but a unique document of a time, place, and perspective in the history of rock and roll. This is a work beyond anything Greg and I could have dreamed of, thanks to the hard work and dedication of many talented people, and of course thanks to all of you, my customers, for making it all possible.

Order here

Other than that, I can't stop listening to that "new" (well, 2007) Shellac record... anyone else, uh,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sic Alps on WFMU! Sweet....


SIC ALPS recorded 10 songs (4 of em unreleased) live in the WFMU
studios last week for broadcast on Brian Turner's show today (tues
3-6pm EST) (in about an hour!) Listen @ 91.1 in the NYC area or at The set
will also be available after airing at:

check it out!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

True Confessions Mini-Mix #1

What's the most embarassing place you did a Number OneTwo?

Mine was in an under-the-stairs closet in a small Pennsylvania city on a Sunday, during the daytime in July. I was playing a gig in the area but it was outside, a bit impromptu and all of a sudden that queasy gotta-take-a-shit-feeling snuck up on me and ... I couldn't find a bathroom. It was in a downtown area, no gas stations nearby, nearly everything closed, too young to get into a Pennsylvania bar... Finally got into some decrepit old office building with an unlocked door, snuck around trying to avoid the janitor cuz I knew chances are he would kick me out and expediency was of the essence... so not able to get into the real bathroom cuz ol' mop bucket guy was between me and nirvana... and I went into the closest darkest place I could find. Shat it out in my tighty-whiteys and left it there for the poor janitor to find, perhaps months later by the look of that dingy dusty closet (you hadda stoop to get in).... had it been night time I might have just found some place outside but hey, you gotta go, you gotta go...

I was tempted to put up Dylan's "If You Gotta Go, Go Right Now" but the song isn't about that and it's a bit too obvious-literal don't you think?

If you wanna respond with your own horrifying experience, use the comments - suggest a song or two to go along with your "experience"....

Nice Strong Arm: Reality Bath

Nice Strong Arm came to my attention back in the '80s pretty much how many bands came to my attention - got a record made with Homestead or SST or Touch and Go. Hate to admit that's how shallow I was but there was no college radio of any merit in the Washington DC area (at least that I could tune in - University of Maryland had a real limited coverage) and WHFS rarely touched anything without a major label behind it - so you either had fanzines or just had to trust a couple of labels to come up with something you'd like.

Overall, I'd give this record a solid B. IT's got some problems - the two drummers sometimes have trouble syncing and keeping basic 4/4 time, the bass is recorded kinda flat and often seems limp and there's some of that "goth" basso-profundo style vocals that I never really dug (Bauhaus, Joy Division crap) - most notable offenders are on Side 1's "Disenchanted" and "Date of Birth" which adds insult to injury with use of a cheap-sounding reverb unit to process the vocals.

The band also took a great deal of guff for sounding too much like Sonic Youth - in fact I can't get through the whole sequence of songs on Side 1 without constantly being reminded of "Confusion is Sex" - it's sorta like a concept record of variations on the chord progression. But anyway such crititique was pretty small-minded and narrow-casting. They also have similarities to Live Skull, Swans and other NYC no wave outfits as well as other acts of the period - Big Black, My Dad Is Dead - what I'm saying is that they perhaps were lost in the noise because it was too easy to dismiss them - that and they didn't seem to play the personality game - there is no mention of the names of the band, they didn't pose for publicity shots and so in effect had no personality beyond what was presented in the albums, shows and songs - there was no Gira or Albini or Moore or Michael Gerard saying outrageous or interesting things in the zines and papers.

Others have pointed out some link to the jangly early 80's Athens sound as well and I've already talked about the horrorshow influences, though not just the Brit stuff previously referenced but Cramps as well. Overall, it's a moody gloomy bunch at work here.

Whatever. Like I said, solid B.

I might even given 'em a B minus if Side 2 didn't have this great 3-song sequence in which they kinda show they are more than just a one-trick pony - take these three songs and do some attention-getting cover song and they mighta had a hit EP on their hands... unfortunately I don't have a time machine or a smart pet dog to build one so I could go back in time and give them some career advice...

first cut: "Life is So Cool" is kinda this epic romp built around, like so many of the songs, Kevin Thomson's spacey pedal-effects and amp feedback guitar sound - and again, it's hard not to imagine a big floating Thurston Moore buddha appearing in the air during the recording of this song but again SFW. ... the fucking effect is still stunning, no matter who is doing it, duh?

"Minds Lie" (the second cut on side 2 takes the band's sound into a different direction (here's where that early R.E.M. - Pylon reference might be drawn) with the bass handling the whole build-and-release structure of the song a bit more and bringing in some of that hurting style of singing that the Dischord bands had been peddling the previous year with Rites of Spring. The effect is this sort of one two punch - where "Life is So Cool" builds up the delusion of being cool and in a band or whatever and "Minds Lie" blows it all apart. The drummers actually sound somewhat in sync as well - maybe because the song is pretty short.

"Free At Last" then picks all the pieces up into something unlike anything else on the album - an almost acoustic guitar and bass riff that supports, what, ummmm ... uplifting vocals. I'm finding it hard to say I like "uplift" ever but there it is... there's a band that this reminds me of but I can't put my finger on it... I'll probably wake up in the middle of the night and remember who it is... any way.... these three songs are sort of like an EP within the LP for me and I more than I care to admit did the needle lift at the end of "Free At Last" to redo the sequence several times over the past month.

Vinyl Mine Recommended Mind-Blowing Nice Strong Arm Song Sequence Sample:
Band Photo:
This rare picture of the band was taken by, provided and used with permission from Derek von Essen who has a real cool archive of band photos from this time period

Assumed band line-up:
  • Kevin Thomson - guitar, vocals
  • Jason Asnes - bass, vocals
  • Jamie Spidel - drums (there's some female backing vocals I think here as well)
  • Steve McMurray - drums

Nice Strong Links:
The other band we got pegged with right off the bat was Sonic Youth, and at that time I think there was definitely a bit of an influence. We had all just learned to play our instruments, and you know, who impresses you the most when you start learning how to play is definitely going to have an effect on how you learn how to play. Which is why some people play a certain style of metal or rock, because when they first learned how to play, that's what they were hearing. Jason and I learned how to play our instruments at most four years ago - actually five, I'm gettin' older. Jason's been playing for even less than me.

Anyone who says they don't have an influence is lying through their teeth - unless they were living in a monastery, sitting with a Zen master who said, "Here's a Fender guitar and an amp...why don't you just figure it out, you know, think like one with the string." That doesn't happen. It wasn't like anybody tried to figure out what other bands were doing or anything like that, but that creeps in. It did on Reality Bath , and I don't think any one of us is gonna deny it that much. We don't think we sound like it, but we do feel that there is a bit of an influence there. It's not such a big deal, why does it bring so much derision upon your head, just because there's not twenty years between the two? Maybe some people should give it some thought.

  • Trouser Press's Nice Strong Arm entry covers their three subsequent records
  • Mr. Scaruffi has an Italian entry on the band plus some info (in English) on Kevin Thomson's post band activities
  • Spin from Afterbirth of the Cool gives his own reaction to Reality Bath and Nice Strong Arm - his MP3 links are still active.
  • Dana from Mystical Beast found the album too generic and "Homesteady" for his tastes.
  • Kevin Thomson's latest project is Enablers and its gotten some recent traction in the blogs. I've only listened to their Myspace stream and the spoken word story-telling complements Thompson's atmospheric guitar playing pretty well.
  • Jason Asnes current status is unknown but last I can tell he was in the ill-fated Crown Heights project with the late Jon Easley from Sorry.
  • Right now if you want to own this piece of Americana, your best bets are going to be on an auction site or used record store. Start here.
Bonus Album Insert Scans:

card stock insert:

additional xerox insert:

Monday, June 18, 2007

Airto: Identity LP (1975)

Hello? Airto? Anyone know him? If Downbeat magazine had a crossword puzzle, he'd probably be in every one given that he's won their drummer award and has so many vowels in his name. Met him while he was in Return to Forever, my LP initiation into jazz really, I was like 12 years old and got to see them somehow in Philly. Airto was was this drummer shaman, never seen anything like that shuffling around the stage with a massive percussive set of toys slamming things around. Things I never heard before and never heard again he had at his fingertips. He played with Miles Davis -- the Bitches Brews session no less, before my time, ah ha and I knew nothing about that shit just that he was jamming with this band that my Uncle had inadvertantly turned me onto (via a John McLaughlin album which made me seek out other stuff like it). Immigrated from Brazil, married or lived with and still does live with singer Flora Purim, another Miles/Chick Corea alum. He also played in Weather Report, a band I didn't like as much as RtF but just as seminal among most jazz fusion fans. Turns out he's not as weird as I imagined - his web site makes him out to be a pretty cool personable cat what with all his first person stories about his life.

Identity (1975) was to be, I guess, his breakout - produced by the then uber-crosserover hot Herbie Hancock (still sizzling from his smoking Chameleon album and later to be canonized with the biggest jazz crossover song in MTV history) -- Identity had lots of cross-overish poppy Latin jazz (what we would call "smooth jazz" in the '90s was often Latin-ish pop jazz in the '70s) . The album echoes in many ways both Hancock's recent work and the second incarnation of Return to Forever but is centered around Airto's effusive and celebratory drumming and percussion. A couple great guest stints from Raul DeSouza (trombone on "Flora on My Mind") and Herbie on his then familiar sounding Arp Odyssey synth.

The opener ("Wake Up Song") really makes a case for Brazilian Latin pop jazz that I didn't feel back in the day. I think that's Herbie cutting loose with an awesome synth solo and certainly that's Wayne Shorter doing his just a little schmaltzy thing on the sax near the end.

Airto uses three different bassists here and almost all of their work is uniformly good - it's just the liner notes don't give you enough information to provide credit where credit is due - the open bass work on "The Magician" is so fine that I almost forget about Airto's sappy and slightly off-key vocals and the lyrics ("let meee geeev you alll my luuuuuv") but he can sustain a note and someone (is it Gismonti) does the George Benson scat along with the guitar thing, only faster and better. Still, it's another fine sonic jam.

The lesser tracks "Mae Cambina" is very electric pianoish, ballad thing like what Hancock put into some of his albums (again with Airto vox) but has some of his cool bird calls so I don't dislike it too much. "Tales From Home" is Airto's biographical duet with Flora Purim that gets the funk on and Purim's vocals are worth the price of the tune even if it probably goes on a verse or two too long.

Two cuts stand out for me and they're the final cuts. The title track, written by Airto, short and sweet predicts Airto's work with Mickey Hart on Planet Earth, primal and tribal, it's the least pop thing on this album and so much more wonderfully messy than Mickey Hart's rather self-conscious efforts at ethnic music probably cuz its much more genuine. I can't place the African style guitar here and can't find anything in the liner notes as to what instrument it is but it fits really well with the layered vocals - the female chanting and screaming bores into the brain with repeated listens in a good good good way.

The final track, "Encounter", is co-written by Egberto Gismonti (who arranged everything here) and I think that's him on acoustic guitar and wood flute. Who knows who is playing the awesome bass line (they just don't make bass like this anymore do they?!). The singing here, also, cool Latin is well integrated into the rest of the jam and cuz its in a foreign language (at least for me) I don't hung up on any sappiness in the lyrics. You can hear Airto's awesome bird calls here and the drumming outro is sublime.

Some MP3s to try him out (recorded from vinyl):

"Encounter" - Airto
"Identity" - Airto

Buy it!

The album was remastered a few years back and is still available as an import.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Wrong Trousers

Here's a sweet little Internet find I discovered through the ever-awesome Neatorama - a buncha kids from one of my old stomping grounds in Coronado, California doing cool covers on harp, mandolin and stand-up bass. I would have written them off as a novelty had I not heard their original, "Calvin," a high school flirt song with, I guess, a big reference to Cal Johnson. They already appear to be well on their way to becoming a YouTube band - their myspace blog recounts how they were freaked out after being approached at Coachella by a fan who discovered them from the video site and started talking mandolin technique with them.

MP3s (downloaded via their Sonicbids site):

"Calvin" (Melodica solo written by Peter Sprague)
"Such Great Heights" (Postal Service cover)
"Handle With Care" (Travelling Wilburys cover)

The Wrong Trousers Myspace (also includes what appears to be another stellar original - "Had")


Busker version of "Video Killed the Radio Star"

"Peach Plum Pear (live)" (Joanna Newsom cover) and a version of "Calvin"

Saturday, June 02, 2007

In a Single Vein

The A-side comes off their 2006 Ace-fu release Be He Me and can be got here ("Brother") while the b-side comes off a lesser available EP Git Got. In case you've been hibernating from the indie rock world, Annuals are sort of America's version of Arcade Fire but angle in from the direction of Aphex Twin and Animal Collective rather than U2 and Smashing Pumpkins. Field and forest and mobile electric generator pop. An "It band" for a few seconds last year but don't hold that against them.

Packaging is pretty spare for this limited release single.

"Ease My Mind" - Annuals (buy this single here or here)
Bonus link: I prefer the insane studio version but this Coffeehouse version of "Ease My Mind" is a nice companion if only to suss out the chords.

Speaking of Aphex Twin, here's what's on that 7" giveaway if you bought the latest Blonde Redhead CD from certain outlets. Can't say I've fallen in love with their new CD ("23"), it all sounds so same-ish and lacks any of the punch (or hits) of their previous release but I'd have bought this single anyway, I think, since this song and to a lesser extent - the A-side (the sort of 70's soft rockish "Silently") are about the best results of those recent sessions.

"Signs Along The Path" - Blonde Redhead

Bonus link: Remix the "Signs Along The Way" and sample other people's versions here.

Stephen McBean's Pink Mountaintops has perhaps the best cover of the bunch. The A-side is a rocky, gargantuan sneering fuzz and organ tribute to the slacker/druggy life best listened to all the way up while B-side is where he downshifts, a hazey psyche slide guitar and organ trip. Both require copious amounts of pungent herb to fully enjoy. Looking forward with bloodshot eyes to his next long-player.

"My Best Friend" - Pink Mountaintops

(out of print - but still can be found)

(all samples recorded straight off vinyl so don't whine if you hate my cheap stereo equipment - go buy the originals yr damnself).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Holiday Drive Mix Tape

A sort of mellow late Spring - early Summer folk, Americana, electro pop mix, some popular well known artists, some not so well known for the holiday weekend drive home and something that won't hopefully be too objectionable from my fellow travellers - all tunes found on fellow mostly undersung MP3 blogs* you should check out - who also should have links to the artists and the where to buys (I can't do everything)...

*Disclaimer: Pitchfork is not an MP3 blog
**Yes, Avril
***Leaked from upcoming album
****Yes, I know it's a Christmas song but it's also a Memorial Day song. So say I.

Photo entitled Memorial Day by LoneBlueLady on Flickr (CC protected)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Raw Power: After Your Brain LP

(Toxic Shock Records, 1986)

I was walking around town today and apropros of nothing, the tune "Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" popped into my head, so I spent my liquor shopping time singing it under my breath. Not sure why it did that as I don't remember hearing it today on the ubiquitous radio-soundtrack-of-our-lives nor I'm not aware of anyone doing somebody wrong or even doing me wrong, though there's plenty of stuff I could gripe about in the past.

Raw Power was an early, early hardcore band from Italy, one of the first. The earlier tapes and releases lived up to the "Raw" part of their name and there's nothing intrisically wrong with this release, just nothing much to push it above the rest of the many records released in this time period of this genre. More metalish than previous outings - their Screams from the Gutter is considered a superior record, I guess. There's a lot of head-nods to NWoBHM here and a little bit of acknowledgment of the post-hardcore scene even (your opinion may vary). Some of the first use I remember of the cringey Satanic scream-vocals that were so in vogue in 2004 Headbanger's Ball videos came from singer Silvio - but back then when he did it, it all seemed quite new and novel. Mauro replaced Silvio here I think on lead vocals. Another novelty of the time, they did that call and response thing that System of a Down have turned into an (annoying) science.

Drummer seems to be one of those guys that if he has an instrument he wants to play it - cowbell fills and the use of those still-cringe-inducing Bad Company electric drums (the ones that sound like high-pitched castrated dog woofs) but other than he keeps the beat and you can mosh to it.

My fave song of the bunch is "We Shall Overcome" - that is if you don't try to over-analyze the title or the lyrics ... Italians singing about "red Indians" - their words -- is like me singing about, I dunno, Mario Roatta's persecution of Slavs during World War II... instead give them props for pushing out against the more prevalent exhausting polkas and guitar grinders on this album.

Here's some highlights from the record - which you can buy on a CD combined with the previous album here:

"Buy and Pay"
"Is There Anything You Like"
"We Shall Overcome"

Giuseppe (RIP) - guitars+vocals
Helder - drums
Mauro - vocals
Silvio - guitars + vocals

The band is still together although one of the founding members died a few years ago. I saw them live once and all the things people say about how albums can't capture a good live show are operative here.

They're heading out on tour on the West Coast this month - via Myspace:

May 23 2007 8:00P
Knitting Factory - Hollywood Ca
May 24 2007 8:00P
The Blue Café - Huntington Beach
May 25 2007 8:00P
The Juke Joint - Anaheim
May 26 2007 8:00P
Jumping Turtles - San Marcos
May 27 2007 8:00P
May 28 2007 8:00P
Thee Parkside - Berkely
May 29 2007 8:00P
The Phoenix Theater - Petaluma
May 30 2007 8:00P
The Haz Mat - Oakland
May 31 2007 8:00P
The Distillery - Sacromento
Jun 1 2007 8:00P
Hells Kitchen - Tacoma, WA
Jun 2 2007 8:00P
The Funhouse - Seattle
Jun 3 2007 8:00P
Mount Tabor - Portland, OR
Jun 4 2007 8:00P
The Stork Club - Oakland, CA

Further Research:

Raw Power official website is not kept up to date - The RawPower myspace appears better tended... here's a summary page on Raw Power from the always useful KFTH

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Thomas Truax and His Dark Tricks: Spook Show (entire album)

At the request of a reader and by kind permission of Mr. Truax (who is in the midst of a UK tour) and despite my reservations previously stated, here's the entire Spook Show LP. See the original posting here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rigatoni recipe with your chef Steve Albini

I tried this last night - but I used Canadian bacon instead of regular bacon - RECOMMENDED!

From the electrical audio forum:

Boil water. Salt it. Add rigatoni. while it is boiling, sautee some onions and apples (apples in 1/2-inch pieces cubes) in olive oil. Season (salt and pepper, maybe some thyme) everything. If you have some, throw in some bacon or pancetta cut in little cubes. When the apples are starting to brown a little bit, throw in a bunch of chopped garlic. If you have some, throw in a mess of diced celery.

Just before the pasta is al dente (it should still be firm at this stage), drain it and dump it into the skillet with the stuff, along with some of the pasta water. Toss to mix and continue cooking until the pasta is nicely al dente. Just before service, crumble a bunch of gorgonzola into the skillet and toss until it is somewhat melted and coats the pasta a little bit.

Serve with fresh herbs chopped fine as a topside garnish. I like mint and parsley together.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Some more SXSW selections...

I'm probably about a 10th of the way through these... no rhyme or reason to this, just the cream of the crop.

"I Knew" - 22-Pistepirkko. It has a gong in it and guitar played like bouzoki. What more do you need?

"Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here" - 65daysofstatic. A descriptive title for this ghostly electronica instrumental.

"Mystic Song" - The Berg San Nipple. French Indie-tronica in the Album Leaf - +/- style.

"Throw It Away" - The Pink Reason (photo via band myspace) Not reverb-drenched. Reverb-waterlogged. The kind of really awful good stuff that only works in lo-fi. I wasn't surprised to read after this made my hit list that the band has a 7" out via Siltbreeze.

"Wake Up Heroes" - Sally Crewe and The Sudden Moves. They sound like early Elvis Costello and The Attractions in this 1:19 chartbuster but she's got way better lines such as "If this car had a backseat, we'd be in it" - something I'm sure Ed Begley regrets about his electric car.

(photo via Village Voice via 12xu)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

SXSW 2007 MP3s, Edition 1

I'm way behind on the yearly daunting task of trying to listen to every MP3 up on the SXSW site... I think the festival is basically over by now but I've tried to ignore as much of the hype as I could so it didn't affect my listening parties.

Here's my first set... let me know what you like.

"Jim's Room" - Nina Nastasia & Jim White. Very quiet singer-songwriter folk piece with above-the-cut lyrics from former Touch and Go artist Nina Nastasia(left) - made extra-special by Jim White's understated drumming and Steve Albini's pristine recording. From last year's overlooked On Leaving.

"Catching and Killing" - Youth Group. Worst band name of the bunch but this several-year old poppy single from this aging Aussie band still wears well.

"Ecstacy" - zZz. This garage-tronica piece - think Jim Morrison fronting a trance band with 60's instruments makes you wanna put the lava lamps and colored lamps on and stick your girlfriend inna birdcage and say, "dance, Sister, dance"...

"Ping Pong" - x-Wife. Nice little pizzicato guitar riff frames this post-punker.

"Waste" - White Christian Romance. 10cc weren't really that bad of a band and this reminds me of some of their stuff - lush orchestral synths, cascading piano chords and vocals that provided whispered rhythmic counterpoint fitted in with a baritone guitar lead.

"Through A Keyhole" - Walter Meego. People might not like the nasal falsetto vocals here but it fits the whole paranoid mutant stalkerish vibe.

"Deen" - Wativ. Cutting edge jazz - don't get put off by the longish robot-analog reverb drum intro -- let it work for awhile --the aural payoff occurs when the strings made up to sound like wailing dogs kick in and the analog (moog?) synth starts cranking up.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

In An Aeroplane With My iPod and Soduku Book

Some random tracks/images that just sound/look too darn good in the earbuds not to share and encourage you to seek these artists and albums because I'm just a nice guy with nothing else to do on a Saturday morning...

note: this song is probably not a tribute to famous asexual philospher Simone Weil

"Simone" is a liar. You pronounce her name "See-Moan-Ay" and she's a double-dealing, cheating lying dirty dog. Two-faced, too. If I wasn't up high in some airplane, I'd wanna scrunch up over my guitar and scratch out some wicked stereo feedbackish riffs over some retread psyche-drone just to get even with the bea-atch... (Calla: Strength in Numbers - tour)

I couldn't find a picture of The Besnard Lakes, so this picture OF Besnard Lake (rife at is with phallic symbology) will have to do

"Because Tonight" - Bobby has some brass knuckles in the inside pocket of his school letter jacket and Donna can feel them as he slow dances with her in the roadhouse. This was the song the band was supposed to play before Bobby pulled out those knuckles and went after Big Ed. (The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse - currently on tour)

Daniels chomps down with some sharp teeth but finds he can't swallow until you look away

"American Pastime" - The guy who's girl was so into baseball that he had to write this breakup song for her. I don't remember the term "send a bullet across her spine" being some sort of sports phrase. (more bitter break-up music on David Karsten Daniels' Sharp Teeth - currently on tour)

Ian and Amy reveal true identiy as soul-sucking, corporate vampires

"Minding One's Business" I got both of The Evens new album at the same time but I find the first one way more interesting, experimental, together, cohesive (if that's a good thing) than the second one (Get Evens) which is more strident, less daring, more musically "competent" (if that's a bad thing) and, well, less interesting. It also sounds like the two songwriters are starting to go their separate ways and that's a bad thing cuz they really clicked together in the first album. Shoulda listened to it more when it came out, but oh well, there's still plenty in stock for everyone else to catch up. (The Evens: The Evens)

Deerhoof E.S.P. powers former guitarist's head explode - how sad, how bad
photo by Asha Shechter, NYTimes

"Believe E.S.P." Trying to avoid making lists but this new Deerhoof album is def. got me by the shorthairs for 2007's best overall CD. Don't know how else to describe except as an anti-breakup album (maybe DKD's album is still resonating in my head as I write this). It features some surpringly great arrangements, incredible drumming and percussion and some really wild multi-vocals and makes their "weirdness" go beyond just something "special" into something truly mindblowing. It's like the band blossomed from this little petite crooked tulip into a giant skyscraper-sized multi-hued sunflower in the space of two years. (Deerhoof: Friend Opportunity)

It's true that he was born this way...but don't laugh at him at least to his face

"Pocket Knife" Notable for several things - one being that this is one of the coolest one-man band songs I've ever heard and this, along with his stellar work recording harp for J. Newsom, adds yet another notch in Steve Albini's recording belt. (Phillip Roebuck: Fever Pitch)

Did someone say Kinky Vans?

"Kinky Vans" - A mindless meld (Pfork called it "derivative", ha ha) of what sounds like a live string quartet, classical guitar, piano with bleets and blats, instrument samples and a high pitched drum machine. It all should make as much as sense as the title and it does and it doesn't. But it's quite a pretty thing for floating above the clouds. Released in 2005 in the UK. (Tunng: Mother's Daughter and Other Songs - short US tour happening this week)

FINAL THOUGHT: "A mind enclosed in language is in prison." - Simone Weil

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Thomas Truax: Spook Show

(PsychoTeddy Records, 1988)

Here's one I forgot I had - an EP (or is it a mini-LP?) of very badly recorded synth-goth -- think of the most overwrought Cure song and then imagine it recorded on a 4-track cassette with Radio Shack microphones... This promo came to my post office box in the late 80's from Thomas Truax, whose PR photos (see below, too) suggest he was trying to cast himself as a pretty boy Edwardian vampire.

Truax has since been sporting more of a Mad Scientist personna - inventing instruments such as his "Hornicator" (a video showcasing the instrument is here) - he's also gotten better in his recording techniques. Drowned in Sound calls him a "one man anti-folk machine." At any rate, his website disavows this recording - there's no mention of it in the discography.

Couldn't really bring myself to digitize much of this except for the pretty little music box instrumental (unintentionally made prettier by the "vinylizing" effect) called "Above My Bed." Listening to it reminds of music you might have heard on a Tim Burton movie of which I was a big fan in the late 80's even though I never got much into the "goth" thing.

I've included a newer song below from Mr. Truax (hope he doesn't mind), which I kind of enjoy, called "Escape from the Orphanage" and it's readily available at his website here.

An accompanying Truax show review to the Drowned In Sound page compares Truax's live performance to Tom Waits saying, "because there's a creativity about it and an attractively skewed aesthetic at work..." He appears to be playing 'round UK and Ireland at this point in case you want to check him out.

"Above My Bed" - from the out of print Spook Show
"Escape From The Orphanage" - from the 2002 Full Moon Over Wowtown

For your enjoyment, here's some of the PR material that was included in this promo EP I received when I was still doing a fanzine:

Love the "cat and mouse photo" above. I've researched but can't find any reference to co-producer Frederic Harris having been associated with Klaus Nomi.

Promo photo from Spook Show package
Although all the parts on this record are played by Truax, his touring band line-up is in the promo materials above. Bassist Stephan Wichnewski (believe that is the guy second from the left but go ahead and correct me if I'm wrong) played on Yo La Tengo's New Wave Hotdogs and the President album in the late '80s.

There was also a nice little hand-crafted lyric sheet put together in a format like a mini-zine.

More links:
Saved Round:
Truax claims in his bio he is an illegitimate son of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and works as an animator on Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Charles Gocher, RIP

Shit, I come up for air from my current project surge and see this:


With deep regret, we must announce that Charles Gocher passed away yesterday in Seattle due to a long battle with cancer at the age of 54. He is survived by the two of us who adopted him as a brother 25 years ago and his many friends around the world. He will be missed more than most could ever know. Our thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement during the past three, very difficult years. Many of you were not aware that Charles was ill and that’s because he wanted it that way. Details of a memorial in his honor will be announced soon.

---Alan and Richard Bishop

"Space Prophet Drogon" - Sun City Girls

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Apple Insanity

Everybody loves Apple, right? I admit I use iTunes as my music library and even download an occasional song. More recently, I've used it to keep up with some fave TV shows like The Office, Heroes, Ugly Betty and Lost -- stuff I've been missing because one of my projects is coming to fruition and I'm reaching roll-out phase (sorry for the lack of postings).

Anyway, yesterday I fired up iTunes, hoping to burn a drive mix CD and after five seconds the thing crashed and gave me one of those "we don't know your problem, sorry for the inconvenience, please contact Microsoft (HA!)" boxes.

I tried again. Again. Again. Panic starts to set in -- not because all is lost but because I know nothing else but iTunes and didnt want to spend the weekend farting around trying to either fix the problem or load up some alternative media player program.

I go to Apple "Support" page and find that REAL hard to find anything but ended up in a forum and eventually found someone who posted what seemed to be a similar problem and followed the solution that was posted because the original poster and others said it worked.

Do all that shit, wank, wank, point, click, install, deinstall, start, restart, stop, start, rinse, remove, scrub, bleep, blop. You know... computershit.

Nothing helps.

Finally I search long and hard and find an actual phone number for iPod support. Well, I have an iPod so I called up, got the usual guy who was probably English as a Second Language tech support. Of course, the first thing he tells me is the shit on all the message boards. While I'm googling, I'm finding what appear to be other legitimate solutions such as use Windows Install Clean-up to delete stuff, etc.

Anyway, after several minutes with the guy, he says there is a solution to fix iTunes but... my iPod is out of warrentry and would I like to get the solution for $30.

THIRTY DOLLARS?! For you to help me fix your STOREFRONT? What kinda shit is that? It's like paying admission to go shop at Trader Joe's (and I'm sure there are people who would actually do that). I asked to speak to a supervisor and after about 10 minutes got online with a lovely woman who asked me about my system, blah blah and then said, well, we don't normally do this but since you seem pretty riled up about this (well, she didn't say THAT), she would give me the magic $30 formula to reinstall Apple's "free" software...

To quote a recent appearance by Ian MacKaye in front of a DC Council Member "This is INSANE, that place is INSANE"... oh, and ef Steve Jobs...

Here's how to totally uninstall Apple shit from your Windoze computer and save yourself $30 bucks or 45 minutes on the phone harruanging their tech support:

  • Open up Windows Install Cleanup - delete all iPod, Quicktime, iTunes stuff
  • Open up Control Panel: Remove Programs Window - delete all iPod, quicktime, iTunes stuff
  • Open up Program Files under your Cdrive and find all iPod, QT, iTunes, Apple folders and delte them. If you can't delete them, go to the Process Manager (ctrl-alt-del) and remove any related processes such as iTunes, Quicktime, etc, etc.
  • Empty Trash

(and optional: Reinstall iTunes/quicktime)
yeah, I'm too dependent on the program to quit and too lazy to switch... any suggestions what I should do to break the iTunes dependency (the solution should allow me to DRM-remove my TV shows and few music tunes).

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sufjan/NSO and others at the Kennedy

Well, there was a little concert last night in my neighborhood. I didn't see the headliner but had an awesome night at the symphony... Above is the Washington Post picture of Sufjan doing his thing looking all like a hick going into the Big City. You can read their review of his performance but here's an excerpt:

To listen to Stevens is to wonder what it's like to live in his head. It must get loud in there, with all those Beatlesque references, the baroque instrumentations, the darkly rhapsodic lyrics and those lushly romantic medleys all competing for attention. One gets the impression that Sufjan played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons as a kid. If he spent his adolescence toiling in rarefied geekdom, banging out Mozartean sonatas on a toy Casio in Michigan's Lower Peninsula (as his MySpace page suggests), then his Kennedy Center performance last night was a nerd's sweet revenge.
The Symphony played Pictures at An Exhibition - rock fans will remember the Emerson Lake and Palmer album of that same name (well some rock fans will remember it). But this was the real deal - nine movements based on a different painting. If you've never heard the symphony live -- and it's a rare thing for me -- it's something else especially in a decent acoustical theater.

I can't get it to work right now - but when they fix the link or I figure out what's wrong with my RealPlayer (sigh) the Sufjan performance is available here

The NSO performance is here.

Photo used without permission - but here's a link for purchase in case you want a version suitable for framing.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

New Stuff: Sic Alps: Pleasures and Treasures CD (2006)

This CD, coming as it is from a two-man band with roots in The Hospitals and Coachwhips - both of whom I adoor - is the reason I gut blistahs on mah fingahs... and NOT what you are thinkin. West coast guitar and (mostly) drums bliss-noise-garage-psyche, simply put - tailor made for my ears, tired as they are of uber-cold indie emo-pop and meandering Americana that's soooo prevalent these here days. A test of a good try at this type of playing is that it can induce a natural high if listened to correctly (distance from the two speakers, volume, that type of stuff, trust me). - I'm pretty sure that van on the CD cover is where they recorded this - that is after they ripped everything out and coated it with machine oil, lit a few hundred candles and set up a 30 year old 4-Track, is my guess at least. And yeah, that gives the whole thing a rusty, found-in-a-musty-basement aural sheen and smell (might as well go for broke in mixing metaphors).

CD was purchased via Forced Exposure. Visit the Sic Alps 'n' get you info on some of their other recordings -- I have their Semi-Streets 7" in my stack-o-vinyl for future listening parties. Big ups for the band for deleting their Myspace site because of "crappy ads, Madonna videos, and the fine print about them owning your tunes"... (1/2 snicker).

MP3s posted with permission of the band - other highlights from the album are "Down Comes The Perm" (available on their website), the stomp-drunk "Stories" and the two guitar screecher "Reconnection Land.":

"Semi-Streets" (video) - Ever been lost and confused?
"Surgeon And The Slave"- At some point, masters will run out of slaves

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Liner Notes...

If you read my site review post on Sunday, I said I had some problems with the store. Whatever the issue was, it's been fixed now. Just wanted you all to know in case I scared anyone off. Also, thanks to Alec (the site codeslinger) for contacting me.

I'm not a big blog for comments and that's cool but sometimes they come in many moons after a post. And it's really sweet when someone in one of the bands I wrote about leaves a message (even Pillsbury Hardcore). It appears Jeff Weigand from the Volcano Suns has left a comment on my blog posting on the All Night Lotus Party LP explaining what some of the songs were about:
hey...not a bad review of lotus party...tho' your readings of songs is abit off...ride the cog is about two things...I wrote it as a sorta anti minor threat manifesto about jon and me going on some pretty good drinking binges while we were digusted with the music scene and girls...and the infamous train ride up Mount Washington which tends to cut loose ever so often and kill its thrillseekers (sadly, due to modern innovations and safety inhibitions, this rarely hapens anymore)....four letters is about a fucked up relation pete had with a girlfriend...sounds like bucks is just about living in america and all of the money is you bullshit...crotch on fire is about beating off too much, again a sorta offshoot of the girl theme...and room with a view is about me being a young boy and watching the neighbor divorcee masturbate thru her window for many years jeff
As Kevin Costner said about Madonna, "neat," huh?

Speaking of Pillsbury Hardcore, the angry comments continue. here's the latest from Anonymous:
I'm sure you're befuddled by Crucial Youth and Stikky as well. After all, any band that used the Pillsbury doughboy as a logo must have wanted to be taken completely seriously.
I wasn't befuddled by Crucial Youth (they just kinda sucked, joke band or not, so I guess the comparison with PH is apt) and I never heard Stikky (isn't it something they give horses so they poop better?). And hey, I said some nice deserving stuff about Bob Durkee recently, so I can't be all that befuddled.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

New Dischord Records Website

Dischord Records discovered that the year 2001 was over and updated their website. I can't fault them for waiting so long - the label has always been a labor of love and who has time for computer shit when there's music to be made.


- downloads! A HUGE amount of downloads from the entire catalog (even the 25 year old stuff). There's also a promise to bring in videos and stuff from the archives. This is really the most exciting thing about the new site. They made it so you can't "hotlink" to an mp3 or download (you have to right click on the flash arrow thingie to download - something they don't tell you about unless you experiment).
- clean and simple design wins the day
- they've kept the band pages pretty much the way they were and as I had no complaint about it (except perhaps they should have links to MP3s), that's an upside

Downsides - as they say here, this is a work in progress so take this as constructive criticism

- the store which was hard to deal with before now seems totally inoperable. Stuff you select for your shopping cart doesn't get in there (I'm using Firefox so maybe this works with other browsers). CORRECTION: Whatever the problem was - whether it was on my end or theirs, it's fixed now and I justed busted my budget on some Evens CDs... kidding, $10 each and free shipping - sweet.

There's no email links on the store page to make a manual order (there is a street address and phone number though). There is an email address for them but it's kinda hidden. Really, I know you guys see commerce as being icky but we want to buy your records at your great prices - make it easier for us.
- I hope they are planning to sell DRM-free digital (loss less or high bit rate Mp3s, please)
- no RSS feed for the news page - boo. Really, this is 2007. I want new announcements to come to me not have me have to go to their page. That can't be too hard to fix.
- the tour page is great and it does offer a way to subscribe but it's with icalendar?! Not a bad idea for the band manager and real fanatic fans but most people don't need to know when The Evens are going to be in Pittsburgh (unless you're in Pittsburgh). Wouldn't it be cooler if new tour announcements was also delivered to an RSS reader? Bloggers who love you guys would get the word out. And yeah, I know publicity and advertising is icky, too.

Well, this wouldn't be an MP3 blog with something I plucked from their download page. Embrace was a band I wished had stayed together longer but it was not to be. Viva la Revolucion Summer. I got to see them live at least and somewhere I have a soundboard tape.

"Dance of Days" - Embrace (see here also)

Coffee and Cigarettes MP3 Mix for January 2007

photo by me

It's been awhile... here's some cool tunes I've come across in recent days... all the songs here are also available at artist websites (except for the first one which points to the blog I got it from) - I've just rehosted them temporarily to help out the artist's bandwidth:

"Besame Mucho" - The Fairfax High School Marimba Band
"Hit My Country (edit)" - aMute (via The Wire's Tapper 16) (also available here)
"The Orchids" - Califone (via Tapper 16 as well) (also available here)
"Different Daylight" - MAHER SHALAH HASH BAZ (via k records here)
"Bar Ice" - Silkworm (also here)
"Ain't It Strange" - Dr. Dog (more tunes over here)