Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ponytail/Pains photos

Hey, did I mention I went to a show on Sunday...and that it was really good...and that I wrote about 1000 words about it and don't have anything else to say.

I'm going to see Mogwai and Twilight Sad on Sunday, so you'll likely get more of this nonsense next week.

Here are a couple of photos, though.

First Pains

Then Ponytail....ewww sweaty!

Phil Wilson from the June Brides

I think it was Michael who introduced me to the June Brides, so it seems only fair that I should post about a Phil Wilson cover I heard today on here. It was "It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl", a Faust cover. It appears on Industrial Strength, an all-covers EP that came out on Slumberland Records in 2008...after a very long post-Brides hiatus for Wilson.

There are two mp3s up for sampling at Slumberland, both rather fragile, lo-fi and very nice.

Here's "It's a Rainy Day Sunshine Girl"

And "Neon Lights", originally by Kraftwerk


I've got a review up at Dusted today of the very buzzy duo known as Crocodiles...whose Summer of Hate I enjoyed a lot more than I expected to.

Christ, this review takes a while to get going, but follow the jump and it'll all make sense:

Lately lo-fi has become the equivalent of distressed jeans. Where once it was an artifact of things like poverty, unfamiliarity with recording equipment and the mental instability that comes with not getting out much, now it’s just another fashion statement. It’s a signifier, an extra layer and, all too often, a way to hide substandard songs. There are probably textile workers in Guatemala who will run your CD-R through an acid bath for a couple of dollars, and it’ll sound just like Wavves. So, when I say that Crocodiles, out of San Diego, are another one of those reverb’d, lo-fi garage psych bands carrying heavy baggage from Jesus & Mary Chain, there’s a suppressed sigh in there somewhere. There’s an emphasis on the word “another.”

And yet, Crocodiles’ first full-length, is quite a bit better than fellow San Diegan Wavves, at least a couple of notches ahead of Crystal Stilts and, oh, far better than Vivian Girls (though maybe not quite as enjoyable as Pains of Being Pure at Heart). Its evocation of the Jesus & Mary Chain, “I Wanna Kill,” hits all the right notes: the subtle roar of feedback under sweetness; the claustrophobic echo of reverb in tight quarters; the dissonance between hook and lyrical murderousness. The main drawback, if there is one, is that it’s too perfect. It sounds an awful lot like “Happy When It Rains.” It’s a kick, but a guilty one.

Read the rest

Crocodiles (the band)

Crocodiles (the reptiles)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Allen Toussaint’s jazz album

I’ve got a review of Allen Toussaint’s The Bright Mississippi up today in Blurt, interview to come later.

Here’s a bit:

In The Bright Mississippi, New Orleans R&B composer and pianist Allen Toussaint revisits the classic jazz of his childhood, interpreting wonderful old-time cuts by Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington. Though Toussaint's band for this album includes avant garde heavyweights like Don Byron and Marc Ribot, the tone is quite traditional, the steady swagger of funeral march drums and percussion anchoring arabesque swoons and swoops of melodic improvisation. Toussaint himself conjures lush, extravagant textures of ragtime piano, his playing now staccato and rhythmic, now flowering into rolls and cascades and fluid runs of notes. And the rhythm section - David Piltch on upright and Jay Bellerose on drums - imposes a stately, restrained dignity over the whole enterprise, with widely spaced thump of bass, clicks on rims and musing, dreamy swirls of brushes on snares.


Here is Mr. Toussaint with one of my other favorite singer songwriters -- Elvis Costello – performing “Fortune Teller”

Toussaint was heading to the New Orleans Jazz Festival when I spoke to him, but was also looking forward to a series of concerts at New York City’s Vanguard, where he’ll have the whole band from The Bright Mississippi. Should be pretty great.

In other news, I went to see Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Ponytail last night…and loved both, though in entirely different ways. (Pains for the songs…Ponytail for skill, enthusiasm and transcendently complicated grooves.) More on this later...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fennesz finally

I was practically sure this would never run…better late than never.

Christian Fennesz’s latest album, Black Sea wraps translucent melodies with swathes of gauze and static, guitar chords rising out of indeterminate washes of sound. It’s a beautiful, serene sort of music, like the end of a dream when you begin to incorporate real-world noises into an ongoing narrative, and Fennesz says that both elements—the melody and the fuzzy scrim that hides it—are important to him.

“I’m not afraid of melodies,” he explained in a recent telephone interview that was, itself, occasionally obscured by static. “But I do like music where you can really search for something within the sound, where there is a melody buried within something completely different. I don’t like things that are too clear and too easy to find.” He added, “For me, it’s always interesting and challenging to hide a melody. How to hide it and how much to show and how much to hide ... all these processes keep me interested in the music.”


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sonic Youth ...very excited about this

Matador's put up the first single from their upcoming album.

It's called "Sacred Trickster."

It's a Kim song. She wishes she could be music on a tree, apparently.

I'm uncoolly hyped about this, can't wait for the whole thing, go ahead, make fun.

Haven’t got a clue

At least I hadn’t until someone sent me this link to a couple of MP3s from this Constellation Records band…Constellation, you may know, is the Montreal-based experimental label of choice for Godspeed! offshoots and other magnificently drone-y, multi-parted instrumental overtures, musique concrete and generally non-commercial excesses – in other words, when they’re pitching, pay attention.

Clues is a joint project of Alden Penner (of Unicorns) and Brendan Reed (of Les Angles Mort), with some of the strung out sweetness of Penner’s band, filtered through a haze of rackety distortion and clatter

Here’s “Remember Severed Head”

And “Perfect Fit”

You might also be able to catch them live, if you’re so inclined. Dates:

May-09 Montreal QC Ukranian Federation Hall w/ Elfin Saddle
21-May-09 Toronto ON Sneaky Dees
22-May-09 Chicago IL Schubas
23-May-09 Minneapolis MN Triple Rock Social Club
25-May-09 Winnipeg MB Pyramid Cabaret
26-May-09 Saskatoon SK Amigos
27-May-09 Calgary AB Marquee
28-May-09 Edmonton AB Brixx
30-May-09 Vancouver BC Biltmore Cabaret
31-May-09 Victoria BC Lucky Bar
1-Jun-09 Seattle WA Neumos
2-Jun-09 Portland OR Backspace
4-Jun-09 San Francisco CA Rickshaw Shop
5-Jun-09 Los Angeles CA Echo
6-Jun-09 Costa Mesa CA Detroit
9-Jun-09 Dallas TX The Loft
10-Jun-09 Austin TX The Independent
11-Jun-09 New Orleans LA One-Eyed Jacks
12-Jun-09 Atlanta GA Drunken Unicorn
15-Jun-09 Washington DC Rock N Roll Hotel
16-Jun-09 Philadelphia PA The Barbary
17-Jun-09 New York NY Santos Playhouse
18-Jun-09 Montreal QC La Sala Rossa w/ The Dead Science

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I’ve been busy, but nothing to show for it

So I’ve been writing up a storm lately, but no one’s running my stuff, so nothing to post.

(I have a really nice interview with Fennesz that PopMatters has been sitting on since January…I’m thisclose to saying fuck it and just posting it here.)

But meanwhile, I interviewed Allen Toussaint earlier this week and just finished my interview piece on him. He’s written some very famous songs – “Fortune Teller”, “Sneaking Sally through the Alley”, “Get Out of My Life, Woman,” “Southern Nights,” etc. – which have been covered by lots and lots of bands. This is maybe the oddest, and also one of my favorites…Devo covering “Working in the Coalmine,” which was originally written for Lee Dorsey.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Death by Papercuts

I've got a review up today at Blurt of the new record by the Papercuts, which I think I probably like better now than when I reviewed. (So give it at least a mental "7".)

Here's a bit:
“Like sometime tourmates and collaborators in Grizzly Bear and Beach House, Jason Quever makes music that is almost too pleasant to appreciate at first. Its extreme prettiness lulls you so that it's hard to concentrate on the details. Quever's fourth album as Papercuts is an even softer-focus affair than 2007's excellent Can't Go Back. He envelopes his languid pop melodies in billowing drifts of organs and eschews his last album's subtle guitar-based tension. Alex Scally, on loan from Beach House, is quite possibly a factor in the shift, lending his band's trademark gauziness to these dream-sequence tunes.”


A video of “Future Primitive”

Here’s a remix of “Future Primitive” by the Ruby Suns

I'm going to see Papercuts and Vetiver on May 4 in Peterborough.

Friday, April 17, 2009

chrome cranks

oh hell yes, happy friday...

A retrospective, The Murder of Time: 1993-1996, is in the works at Bang! Records. Chrome Cranks are doing a few shows this spring, too, mostly relevant if you live in NYC or Lyon, France

May 2 Backstage Studio Productions, Kingston, NY.
(w/ Frankie & His Fingers, Venture Lift)
May 8 Santo’s Party House, New York, NY (w/ The Friggs)
May 15 Glasslands Gallery. Brooklyn, NY.
(w/ Woman, Headless Hookers, Brownbird Rudy Relic + special guest DJ)
May 22 Nuits Sonores Festival in Lyon, France
(w/ Boss Hogg, the Drones, Holly Golightly)

Ghost Box…very cool, very free

Wandered somehow into the Ghost Box Records “greedbag” page of free downloads today (start here and sign up for the mailing list). This offbeat British electronic label specializes in odd little collages of archival sounds…

Right now, they’re offering a three-track Ghostly Box EP, with two short cuts from The Focus Group and one from the Advisory Circle. The Advisory Circle’s “Spider’s Web,” plays with lucid electronic keyboards, their clear tones criss-crossing like arc lights over a velvety black horizon. The Focus Group kicks in two, the found-sound mirage of “Broohahja” where luminous bells and malletted percussion materialize over electronic click-clackery, and “Hava Take” built on densely layered textures of guitars, synthesizers and bells…all familiar, recognizable sounds but abutting each other in odd, asymmetrical ways.

There’s a lot more, too, if you like this kind of thing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pink Frost…refrosted

Morr Music has put together a two-CD tribute to New Zealand pop called Not Given Lightly…in which Morr-ish artists (Tarwater, Lali Puna, Wooden Birds, B. Fleischman) cover beloved songs by kiwi bands. There are two covers of “Pink Frost” which I’ve been enjoying quite a lot. It seems kind of hard to mess that song up.

Here are the Chills performing the original

Masha Qrella’s version

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Peaking Lights

I was fooling around yesterday listening to WFMU, and I found this really beautiful, fuzzy, dreamy electro duo , Peaking Lights, whose first full-length Imaginary Falcons is out now on Night People records. (They have a cassette on Woodsist, too.) The two (married) principals – Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes – have been in a long string of bands that I’m not familiar with: Numbers, Dynasty, Rahdunes, Unborn Unicorn, Face Plant. If you like things like Beach House, Nite Jewel, Paper Cuts and so on, you’ll probably enjoy this, too.

I don’t have the record, and you can’t swipe any mp3s from the label, but check out the MySpace for streams:

Raven Sings the Blues likes them, too, and he’s put a couple of mp3s up. Try here

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One more thing...Fresh and Onlys

I've got a review up of the new (and only) Fresh & Onlys full-length...didn't know until I started writing this that the main singer Tim Cohen was also half of Black Fiction...but there you go. Here's a bit of the review.

"The Fresh & Onlys shambles barefoot through Summer of Love-style guitar and tambourine jams, strewing lyrical oddities and flower garlands along the path that leads, if not to where Syd Barrett lives, at least to Dan Treacy’s neighborhood. Led by Tim Cohen, ex of the underrated Black Fiction, and now sometime supporter of Ty Segall, the band channels the zonked hippie overload of the 13th Floor Elevators and the lo-fi whimsies of Treacy’s Television Personalities. Shayde Sartin and Wymond Miles, both of the extended Skygreen Leopards family, join in for dense jangles of psychedelic guitar and half-tuned, echo-canyon harmonies. A plurality of band members seem to have worked with Kelley Stoltz at one point or another, and picked up a bit of his funhouse pop aesthetic."


The MySpace

New mix

I made a new mix yesterday...tracks:

Obits' "Widow of My Dreams" (My new favorite song)
Mystery Girls' "I Took the Poison"
Ty Segall's "The Drag"
Fresh & Onlys' "Endless Love"
Arbouretum's "Song of the Pearl"
Tortoise's "HIgh Class Jim Came Floatin' In"
Akron/Family's "Everyone Is Guilty"
Lotus Plaza's "Different Mirrors"
Papercuts' "Once We Walked in Sunlight"
Laura Barrett's "To the Stars!"
Broken Spindles' "A Beat Down Break Up"
Joker's Daughter's "Under the Influence of Jaffa Cakes"
Mika Miko's "Totion"
Crocodiles' "Soft Skull (In My Room)"
The Reigning Sound's "Black Sheep"


Here's the link:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Double Dagger

I’ve been really liking Double Dagger’s More, a noise-fused, clatter-drumming, politically charged post-punk third album from a Baltimore vocals/bass/drum trio of Bruce Willen, Nolen Strals and Denny Bowen. It’s out on Thrill Jockey on May 5th, but meanwhile here’s a taste.

“The Lie The Truth”

A video of “Luxury Condos for the Poor”

And “Camera Chimera”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Baron…sort of 007 lite

No music today, but PopMatters is running my review of the 1960s television show, The Baron.

The Baron, which ran for one season from 1966 to 1967, came from the same studio as The Saint, the television serial that launched Roger Moore’s career, and it shared many of that show’s basic elements: baroque spy plots, improbably beautiful women, fantasy jet set lifestyle accoutrements, and a fascination with – but not any real knowledge of – foreign cultures. It also had a certain amount of technical infrastructure in common with The Saint, including one alley-like set that appears in a slightly different guise in almost every episode. And as in The Saint, the Bond series and other spy fiction of the era, there is a then modern, but now old-fashioned whiff of the ‘60s.”

The rest of the review:

And, in an only tangentially relevant attempt to add some tunes, here’s Devo doing “Secret Agent Man”

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Joker’s Daughter

My review of the collaboration between singer Helene Costas and Dangermouse ran in yesterday’s Blurt.

I liked it somewhat less than Pitchfork.

Me: “Not that there aren't pleasures to be had. The Last Laugh is damned near nothing but pleasures. Costas' clear voice, folky here, blues swaggering there, mother-in-the-other-room-humming-lullabies there, is a sybarite's silk pillow, edgeless, soft and comforting. Danger Mouse has wrapped this languid, lucid instrument in the gentlest of swaddlings, baroque rushes of strings, jaunty jangling guitars and, to keep everyone awake, percolating electronic cadences. Listening is like falling into a pile of feathers, sensual, enveloping, but ultimately insubstantial.”

(The rest)

Them: “a sparkling debut for her and one of his most interesting collaborations.”

(the rest)

Oh, hell, you decide…
“Worm’s Head”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just the right amount of guitar

My review of the Reigning Sound’s Live at Goner Records, the band’s second live album in five years, runs today at Dusted.

“The last time Reigning Sound made a live album, for 2005’s The Reigning Sound: Live at Maxwell’s, the playing got so heated that Cartwright ended with just three working guitar strings. (He is apparently not the kind of guy who travels with a rack of guitars and an underling to tune them for him.) This time is much mellower. He only nearly gets electrocuted, right in the middle of ‘Two Thieves.’

“Live recording is fraught with difficulties, unpredictable and occasionally dangerous. Most bands do one live record, two at most, and certainly not two in a row. But the Reigning Sound is so clearly a 'live' band, that it sort of makes sense. Even their studio records sound like live records, minus only the crowd noise and banter. And weirdly, the sound on this particular live recording, laid down at Memphis’ Goner Records store in June 2005, is sharp and clear, much less fuzzy than Too Much Guitar. This version of ‘We Repel Each Other,’ (coming right after the electrical problem) is spectacularly tight, fast and aggressive. The album’s take was like being bludgeoned with a baseball bat – this one is like being cut to pieces by razors. You’ve never heard the words this clearly, never felt the gut punch of the whole band shouting ‘Hey!’ like this.”


Silly intro…but you get the idea

Monday, April 6, 2009

Grrrrls rrrrule…the Coathangers

I’ve got a review up today of Scramble, the Coathangers new album, out tomorrow on Suicide Squeeze. I called it, “raw but self-assured, its finger-in-the-socket electricity channeled through rambunctious melodies.”

The whole review is here.

My SXSW write-up which includes the Coathangers.

Coathangers at SXSW, playing “Stop Stomping” which seems to be everyone’s favorite.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Brian Jonestown Massacre

Not at a PTA meeting, but there's the shirt.

I went to see the Brian Jonestown Massacre last night. I couldn't figure out how to ask for press credentials, so I just went to enjoy photos, no notes. But here are a couple of observations:

First, the opening band, Asteroid #4 was way better than I remember them on their last record, much louder and trippier and the music still really pretty, even as it pressed down on your eardrums. Either I slept on the record (which I can't find) or they've gotten better or they've always been better live, but they were super fun. Special props for the girl tambourine player, taking big slugs from a communal bottle of Jack Daniels and chasing them with beer. Enough of these "I'll just have a mineral water" bands.

Second, I was ambivalent, as I suppose most people are, about whether I wanted to just see a solid BJTM show, or whether I wanted Anton to freak-out somehow. I really like the music, you know, but there's something appealing about a meltdown, too, especially if it doesn't happen really early in the show.

We sort of got both.

The sound took some work to get right. For the first couple of songs you couldn't hear either Anton's vocals or those wonderful looping lead guitar lines, two of the main elements of their sound, I think. (By the way, this is an unbelievably guitar-dense band -- at times, they have five guitars going at the same time, often a couple of them 12-strings...some very beautiful guitars in play, too, it must have been a terrible loss when their equipment got stolen a copule of years ago.) But anyway, they got that right eventually, which not every band does at Pearl Street, and we all settled in for the ride, which was pretty nice.

As people got comfortable, people started yelling out requests. (One guy near us must have asked for "Feel So Good" at least a dozen times.) And Anton apparently doesn't like being told what to do. "That's not it," he said, at one point, to a song title, and then, with breathtaking speed, he arranges something with his sound guy, drops the guitar, three of four other guitarists (plus the tamborine guy) walk off stage, and he begins to do a very kraut-ish, just-a-little-too-white-and-psychedelic-for-hip-hop rant to a bare-bones, thumping beat, bass, one guitar and drums. It seems like kind of a fuck you gesture, and yet, up to this point, the show has been a little dull, a little too by-the-numbers "here are our freaky 1960s jams" greatest hits oriented. It also feels a bit like Primal Scream, BJTM's tour partner for most of these dates, and once you get used to it, very, very cool. People clap at the end, and Anton seems to forgive us. "Thanks for coming out," he says in one of his rare, no-eye-contact acknowledgements that there's an audience at all. And then the guitarists come out again and they play a bunch of my favorite songs. "Who" and "Servo" stand out, but as I say, I wasn't taking notes.

So the show almost went off the rails, but it swerved at the last minute, and from that instant on, got better and better. We left about four songs after someone announced that "We've got anywhere between one and 21 more songs. We're just not sure" because we left Sean at home by himself for really the first time ever, and we were both getting a little nervous, but it was a wonderful show, especially towards the end. The almost-meltdown even felt like part of it...that brief veering into unpredictable that was as much part of the attraction as the main show.

Oh, I bought a tee-shirt. I'm going to wear it to PTA meetings.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wow, was I sick yesterday…

Better today. Here’s the Boys’ “Sick on You”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Akron/Family at SXSW

Here's a video of Akron/Family playing SXSW, the single best set I saw all during this year's festival. Larry Kubin from shot the film. You can find a lot more videos at his website.

I'm interviewing Miles Seaton in about half an hour.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A new song from Bill Callahan

It’s called “Eid Ma Clack Shaw”

The album, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle, will be out on Drag City later this month.

Sorry so short…I’m finishing my taxes. We’re getting a big load of money back, looks like. Yay, for realized capital losses.