Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TV Buddhas

Ben Donnelly from Dusted really liked this 1960s-loving, psychedelic garage-punk-blues threesome, originally from Tel Aviv, but now based in Berlin, and now, so do I.

Here's the first single off their eponymous EP, which is called "Let Me Sleep".

And a video of "Fun Girls"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Everything at once

Finally got around to the new Superchunk album Majesty Shredding (out September 14 on Merge) and it's a killer...really aggressive power pop, hard guitars, soft melodies, and remarkably consistent, not a bad song anywhere.

Here's a video of "Crossed Wires" played live at the Seaport in NYC

And a live SXSW performance of "Everything At Once", which is the last song.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of summer? Time for a mix

Hey, who am i kidding...this mix has nothing to do with the end of summer, except that it's mostly stuff I was listening to at the end of this particular summer of 2010. It gets a little disco-y in the middle, but hold on for the strong finish.

1. "I'll Be Runnin'" Woven Bones
2. "Rusty Old Clock" Limes
3. "Five Foot Category Five" The Graves Brothers Deluxe
4. "The Mistress," Amelia Curran
5. "Downward Road" Mavis Staples
6. "Draw the Stars," Andreya Triana
7. "A Day at the Carnival" Dam-Funk
8. "Round and Round," Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
9. "Supergirl" Stereo Total
10. "I Hate the 80s" The Vaselines
11. "Baby I Got News for You," Kelley Stoltz
12. "Buried By the Blues," Black Mountain
13. "Big Sun Falling in the River," Richard Thompson
14. "Kiss Them All" Bottomless Pit
15. "Cicada" Versus

Download here

Enjoy. I made this before I went to Indiana and never upped it, so I've got almost enough for another one by this point.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How can I, how can I, stop in the middle?

I wonder if Graveface is really his name? If not, he sure likes the sound of it, since Ryan Graveface has named both his one-man band and his label Graveface. The label, you might know as the home of Black Moth Super Rainbow, a trippy, synthy, altogether fantastic psych-pop-break-beat outfit that Graveface sometimes plays bass in. The band, you also might have heard of, a year or two ago when I reviewed The Long Forgotten Friend for PopMatters. I liked it a lot. I like the new one modestly less, though it’s not exactly a throwaway. I noted, at Venus last week, that it has “a far more rustic aesthetic than on The Long Forgotten Friend, spurning the shimmer of sustained guitars and lulling prettiness of reverbed vocals for a four-square, heel-rocking country feel”

The rest of the piece

“Magnesium Light”

I’m back from Indiana and very glad to be here, though school’s started and we are all getting up at 5:30 again, ugh.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How does all the liquor make the heart grow fonder?

I had a review of the new Limes album Rhinestone River on Friday at Dusted. It's another of Goner's blues-garage offerings, led by Shawn Cripps (who played on one of my favorite albums, Mr. Airplane Man's Cmon DJ) and supported by Harlan T. Bobo, whom I've written about here before.

Here's a bit from the review:

Cripps slouches at the center of this casual mesh of talent, moving the songs along with slow blues-guitar licks and spoke-sung verses, widely spaced with contemplation and punctuated, occasionally by high hillbilly falsetto. His never-any-hurry delivery — he sounds like a bluesier Bill Callahan — twists ordinary imagery into vaguely surreal shapes…a cigarette machine’s lights turning psychedelic in “Rhinestone River,” midway lights and rollercoasters taking on mythic shape in “Rusty Old Clock.” Bobo is his chief partner in musical conversation, nudging the action forward with slumberous bass lines, adding ghostly commentaries on a variety of keyboards, and, at one point, banging on the piano like a cakewalk madman.

The rest of the review is here:

A video of Limes at SXSW


Monday, August 23, 2010


I reviewed a very nice noise-electronic-improvisational-type album from Imbogodom, a collaboration between Alexander Tucker and Daniel Breban last week...and it ran last week at Dusted.

A bit of the review...
More like one, long piece with movements than a series of freestanding compositions, The Metallic Year traces a conversation between organic, instrument-based sounds and electronic manipulations, improvisation and tape manipulation. Often lovely, occasionally dark and foreboding, the album seems to encapsulate the tenor of post-terror times, a thread of worry running through even the most serene landscapes.

The rest of the review is here:

I can't find any mp3s but there are previews of all the tracks at the Thrill Jockey page

(the embedded links feature doesn't seem to be working with my parents' computer, so I'm just putting in the URLs for now.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby on covers

PopMatters just put up my piece on Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby, specifically their new album Two-Way Family Favorites which consists entirely of covers.

And why not, since it was a cover that brought them together.

When Amy Rigby heard that new wave legend Wreckless Eric was coming to her show in Hull a decade ago to DJ, she was understandably nervous. After all, Eric’s “Whole Wide World” had been a staple of her live set for years. She was planning to play it that night, by coincidence, in the very pub that Eric had launched it decades before, while a student at the Hull Art College.

Jumping in with both feet, the alt-Americana songwriter asked Wreckless Eric to join her for the song. After a bit of two-guitar fumbling, he said to her, “There are just two chords in the song and both of yours are wrong.”

Read the rest (and please do, Eric is very entertaining)

And here they are, playing "Whole Wide World"

I'm interviewing Michael Rother from Neu! on Monday, wish me luck.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Woven Bones

Somewhat ambiguous about last spring's Woven Bones full-length...here's a band that could probably go either way from here. I called it " all atmosphere and no song, or at least no songs that you can tell apart readily" with the caveat that, "The atmosphere, in the band’s defense, is rather fine, an ominous, echoing, fuzz-altered cave-sound."

The rest of the review, up today at Dusted, is here

"If It Feels Alright"

Ran eight miles today in the park that I used as escape hatch in high school...probably would never have started running marathons if it weren't such a nice place to avoid human contact for an hour or two. (Waving at other runners doesn't count.) Actually you can go home again and it's exactly the same, except for you and everyone you know, who is either much older or gone. the park looked just the same.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Live from the Hartford Airport...it's the Graves Bros. Deluxe

"The Graves Brothers Deluxe, out of San Francisco, is maybe the best band you never heard of, a bass-heavy, Beefheart-bent trio, reared on a steady diet of punk rock, New Orleans funk and late night jazz," sez I, just a day or so ago, in BLurt.

The occasion was a review of San Malo...the trio's latest album, which is just as skankily wonderful as previous efforts.

The rest of the review is here.

I interviewed Stoo a long time ago for Splendid. Want to read it?

Their Diana Ross cover always cracks me up

But this one is more recent, and actually from San Malo

I'm on my way to Indiana for a few days to see my parents, just now in the lovely Hartford Airport. (Which has free wireless!)

More recent stuff at the MySpace

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No Age

It kind of sucks that I don’t get promos from Sub Pop anymore, at least not regularly. (I did receive the very excellent new Kelley Stoltz and went to work on it immediately, doing a Blurt interview with the guy with almost no help from the publicist. My friend Stoo ended up getting me in touch with Kelley…what do publicists do? Remind me. Anyway, my point is that I have never been anything but a good proposition for Sub Pop and they cut me off anyway, so whatever…)

But the real point is that I won’t be reviewing, or even really listening to, the new No Age, despite the fact that I would most likely really enjoy it and give it a good review, at least based on this free mp3 which I got, not from Sub Pop, but from Large Hearted Boy, who is evidently still on their list.

It’s called “Glitter.” Enjoy it. Enjoy it more because you don’t have to write about it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bottomless Pit

I struggled with this one, a review of the second full-length from post-Silkworm outfit Bottomless Pit, but I think it turned out okay.

Yeah, I remember I was at a meeting on Wall Street one time and the conversation turned to a research analyst who had, a month ago, been killed in a fatal accident. "Is he still dead?" someone asked, and we all laughed...nervously.

Which is, in an oblique way, why this review was so hard to write.

I finished it like this:

And so, against expectations, Bottomless Pit has turned into an ongoing project, profoundly influenced by its macabre beginnings, closely linked to its predecessor band, but no longer defined by either. The grief that shaped Bottomless Pit’s first record hasn’t gone away. But it has changed. Cohen and Midgett have figured out a way of working together, post-tragedy, that at least allows for a Bottomless Pit record that’s not about Dahlquist’s death. And that’s something no Silkworm fan could have imagined five years ago.

The rest of the review is here

Comedy Minus One is giving away "38 Souls"

Thursday, August 12, 2010


First album in forever for this quintessential 1990s band...my review got bumped from Blurt's print issue to online. It was written for print which is why it's so short. I observed, "there's an aura of anachronism about this guitar-heavy concoction of math and cotton candy which can sound like Unwound crossed with the Trolleyvox as much as first-wave Burma."

The rest here

"Gone to Earth"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Purling Hiss...damn

I've got a little piece up in Philly Weekly's Music Issue this week about Mike Polizze who more or less is Purling Hiss and also plays guitar in Birds of Maya. I'm trying this new thing where I start with a quote, like Mojo always does, and it's harder than it looks.

Like this:

“I wanted to do something ridiculous and over the top, recording in the red with the gain all the way up,” says Mike Polizze, explaining the guitar mayhem that defined Purling Hiss’ self-titled debut.

A veteran of Philly’s psych boogie monolith Birds of Maya, Polizze began his solo project as a way to use up ideas that didn’t quite fit into the other band’s aesthetic. There are subtle differences between the two outfits, he says, if anything this magnificently loud and distorted can be said to be subtle.

The whole story is here.

Let's see what have we got for Purling Hiss media...

Do you believe it? just the Myspace.

But hold on, just play "Almost Washed My Hair" once on your crappy little computer speakers and tell me if it does not absolutely rule.

It does.

More coming soon, on Richie Records and Woodsist, stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I spent a lot of last week, or maybe the week before, trying to get a handle on odd, prog-jazzy Curlew, a 1979 to the late 1990s mainstay of downtown clubs like the Knitting Factory. (Fred Frith and Bill Laswell both played with the band on occasion, though not on the album and DVD that I reviewed.)

Cuneiform is re-releasing Curlew’s mid-1980s album A Beautiful Western Saddle, the only recording in the band’s catalogue to feature vocals and lyrics…the album comes packaged with live performance video of just the band (no singer, no lyrics), which went a long way towards convincing me about Curlew. I’m not sure that the album, by itself, would have done so.

Anyway, the review ran today at Blurt. Here is the usual attempt to draw you in with the good parts…

clarity, simplicity, melody...none of these are really Curlew's strong suit. The band is most comfortable when executing polyrhythmic counterpoints, every instrument in the band punching out in slightly different, but inter-related directions.

The rest of the review is here.

Here’s a bit of the DVD, which will maybe show you what I meant..

I'm in a bit of a lull review-wise, since I sort of ran out of records at Dusted a week or two ago, at the same time that Blurt was focusing on a far-distant print edition (i.e. the reviews I write now will show up in a couple of months). That gap is now working its way through the system...but I'm back on the case now, so it shouldn't last long.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Shannon Stephens

I’ve got a little review of Shannon Stephens first album up today at Blurt and, surprise surprise, I liked it a lot more than Pitchfork did.


You can start with Stephens' voice, pure at its core but smudged with shadows, as it veers off unexpectedly from breathy lyricism to darker, jazzier slides. She sounds young here, occasionally blunt and unfinished, but lovely. You can hear bits of Linda Perhacs' unearthly sun-splotched bluesiness in cuts like "So Gentle Your Arms" and "Welcome to NYC", traces of Lou Rhodes' gutsiness in "Panic." Stephens has a jazz singer's skill with dramatic swoops, lifting up or flying down in octave intervals and landing lightly, without effort. She sounds, most of the time, fresh and untouched, though her lyrics can be dark, even mordantly funny at times.

The rest of the review

“Catch the Morning Line”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Endless Boogie

Another good one from Endless Boogie, progenitor of sprawling, blues-based, diesel-fumed jams....

My review of Full House Head ran today at Blurt.

Seldom has a band been named so well as Endless Boogie, whose blues-clogged, diesel-fumed, body-moving grooves run on into infinity. Named for a John Lee Hooker song and inspired by blues rooted oddities from Beefheart and Canned Heat on down through ZZ Top, Endless Boogie allows its ideas to develop slowly and through repetition. Full House Head, the band's second full-length, satisfies some primal thirst for guitar-bending, hard-chugging, wah-wah wailing rock ‘n roll that, if you've been listening to the current crop of chillwave, C86 clones or chamber pop, you may have forgotten you had.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mountain Man

Aren't you tired of all those boy bands with the words "girls" or "women" in their names? Well, payback is only fair. There are no Mountain Men in Mountain Man, just three very well-educated ladies who sing like angels. I reviewed their debut, Made the Harbor for Venus and it ran like this:

Mountain Man, the all-female trio of Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Amelia Randall Meath, make bright, beautiful harmonies, their voices woven tight in haunting, traditionally rooted compositions that play with folk, gospel, and plainsong forms. There’s very little accompaniment to these songs—just a bit of guitar—but that’s all they need. Any more instruments and it would be harder to focus on their best quality: the vocals, well matched in high, inflected folk purity, meet and jostle and harmonize around melodies of disarming simplicity.

The rest of the review

Listen to "Soft Skin" if you like.