Friday, August 30, 2013

Miasma shot through with clarity

My review of the new Ghost Wave ran yesterday at Blurt. It's the first album in ages on the much beloved Flying Nun label...reason enough in itself to check this thing out.

Ghost Wave
Flying Nun


Ghost Wave, out of New Zealand, balances jangle pop with pulsing unease, bright dual guitars with a penumbra of rhythmic murk. Ages, the first full-band LP for this bedroom-project-that-grew, is noticeably darker than early single “Sunsetter,” grounded in a subterranean buzz that is more Jesus & Mary Chain than the Clean.


it's not top-ten, but I totally enjoyed listening...check it out:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The ordinary world made radiant

My review of CFCF's Music for Objects ran yesterday at Blurt. There's still a Popmatters interview coming at some point, but for now...

Music For Objects
Paper Bag


Working in intricate, pointillist textures primarily piano and electronics, CFCF’s Michael Silver finds emotional resonance in small, contained, repeated patterns. His Music for Objects turns from the large scale landscapes of earlier EPs (The River and, most recently, Exercises) to focus on the quotidian. Inspired by a Wim Wenders documentary on the fashion designer Yoji Yamamoto, Silver looks for the ineffable in the objects that surround us, things we can hold in our hands like keys, bowls and glasses.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Frankie Rose's surprising flirtation with musical theater

I have been enjoying Herein Wild, the third solo album from ex-Dum Dum Girl Frankie Rose, which, like last year's Interstellar leaves the punk edges pretty much behind and ventures into swirling, shoe-gazey atmospherics, more like Mazzy Star than L7. It's out September 24 on Fat Possum.

It's a sleek, polished kind of rock record, but still it kind of surprised me that Miss Frankie Rose grew up in musical theater geekdom. Says Billboard:

With stints with bands like the Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls, Rose possesses a predominantly punk/indie fanbase, though the roots of her stagecraft lie in a very different place – musical theatre. The singer/songwriter attended Los Angeles’ Orange County High School of the Arts, where she played the lead role in “Annie” no less than four times, and her classmates included “Glee’s” Matthew Morrison and actress Taryn Manning.

“I kind of got kicked out of the arts program I was in,” Rose remembers. “I just didn't like it. I thought it was corny. As I got older, I didn't want to do musical theater.” Soon after, she found that punk rock was what truly empowered her as a performer. “It all changed. I was like, ooh, I can play the drums! I can play guitar! If there had been a rock camp for girls, or a rock camp at all, I probably would have begged my mother to put me in.”

Strange world, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Afrobeat Airways 2: Return Flight to Ghana 1974-1983

We were jamming on this one pretty hard during the trip to and from Chicago...a collection of cassette recordings from Ghana and Togo made during the 1970s and 1980s that most likely would have been forgotten if not for Analog Africa.

There's a very extensive description at the Analog Africa blog (though not as extensive as the package itself, which apparently includes a bunch of essays, interviews with key players and photos...can't tell you much about it, since all I got was the DL.)

Anyway, here's a bit. Read the rest if that's what you do.
"Organ-driven Afro-beat, cosmic Afro-funk and raw, psychedelic boogie… just some of the flavours to be found on this highly danceable compilation by Samy Ben Redjeb, founder of Analog Africa.

To document these 14 irresistible tracks and the music scene from the’70s, Samy crisscrossed the lengths of Ghana and Togo in search of the producers and artists – or their relatives. In the process he recorded a dozen interviews, scanned 90 pictures and transferred 120 master tapes.

All the evidence can be seen in the 44-page full colour booklet (see pictures below) accompanying these 73 minutes of heavy West African sounds. Afro-Beat Airways showcases an amazing diversity of local rhythms spiced with Afro-American funk, soul and jazz."

The web is very short on sound samples, but I found a player at Juno Records. Check it out.

In other news, we went to see Much Ado About Nothing last night and it was completely wonderful...I was particularly taken with Amy Acker's Beatrice but really, there was hardly a wrong or self-indulgent or sloppy note in the whole thing. Go see it if you like Shakespeare at all and maybe even if you don't.

And finally, I'm in a really good mood because I got to talk to my son today, who seems to be doing very well at CCPA. They are working hard, but he says he is going to the gym every day with one of his friends and enjoying life and he is not out of money yet. He is also really amped about his acting classes...says the faculty and students are extremely "high powered." So, of course, I miss him, but it makes me happy to think of him spending his time in such a challenging, satisfying way.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Alex Chilton Unplugged

This recently unearthed recording of a February 13, 1997 concert by Box Tops/Big Star songwriter Alex Chilton is unusually laid-back, goofy even...even without the clink of bottles you'd get the idea that most of the crowd had been drinking, and even Chilton sounds a little giddy as he searches for that "magic folk song that shuts this thing down." The show was at the Knitting Factory, and the power blew out just before the second set, so what you hear is completely acoustic, off-the-cuff and mostly acoustic. In it, Chilton re-affirms his love for the Beach Boys (with covers of "Surfer Girl" and "Wouldn't it Be Nice", classic country ("D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and "Walk the Line") and, er, bossa nova ("Girl from Ipanema"). He messes up -- and occasionally makes up -- lyrics, takes audience requests and is, generally, quite charming. More than a handful of these songs are well out of his range, but a squeak is more likely to elicit a laugh than a wince. It sounds like a good time, and though there are much better Alex Chilton recordings, you kind of wish you had been there.

The record is called Electricity by Candlelight and it's out October 25th on Bar/None

Am I cynical or did they dig this out just in time to cash in on the Big Star movie?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sundays are lovely, aren't they?

Just pottering around, starting to think about questions for my Weds. interview with Daniel Lopatin (any ideas anyone?), more likely to attack the crossword instead. We went into Brattleboro to get the groceries this a.m., and what a nice little jaunt that is on a sunny day in afterwards in Pliny Park, a scavenge through Basket Books (I bought Schopenhauer's Telescope by Gerard Donovan...could just spend the afternoon reading that, couldn't I?)

Also cleaned out my closet and got rid of a ton of stuff, lots of career-wear, sized four, circa late 1980s-early 1990s, way too small these days and anyway far too chic for my current life. The one that breaks my heart is a black Italian sheathe dress with a small short jacket over it, which I remember looking pretty fabulous in, but it was very tight even before I had Sean and impossible now. I think I got it at Century and it still had the runway label, in Italian, when I bought it. I'm going to attack one pile of garbage every day until I get through the house.

Had a nice run, too, though I cannot for the life of me remember where I turned around. I'm going to say it was a six. I was daydreaming and listening to the new Frankie Rose (pretty good on one time through).

Anyway, apropos of nothing, this song came on at random and I realized how much I love it.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Turning the grottiest clubs into cathedrals

Hearing angels? Want to? Got a high tolerance for songs that remind you of Enya?

My review of the ethereal, atmospheric music of Julianna Barwick (which I quite liked, Enya crack aside) ran last week at Blurt.

Dead Oceans

Julianna Barwick turns the grottiest clubs into cathedrals, with her weightless washes of indefinite tone, her spectrally altered choral elements, her slow moving angelic ecstasies. She fills the darkest spaces with pure white light. Nepenthe, her third full-length, she works and reworks a downward cascade of notes, in massed vocals that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere. It’s a motif that first floats by during “The Harbinger,” but which repeats later the album (in “Labyrinthine”, for instance),” falling endlessly in a suspended grace.

Nepenthe, in mythological terms, is an elixir for forgetting, but Barwick’s work seems to turn more on memory, the textures she employs evoking church music, children’s choirs and the gauzy scrims of daydreams. There are recognizable elements – piano, cello and violin, for instance – but seen only through the fog of more idealized sounds. In “Look Into Your Own Mind” a sustained, clarinet-like sound pierces the silence for nearly a minute, picking up friction with the throb of low cello. There’s an aura of the celestial, not just time-less but outside of time itself, in many of these tracks, as they blossom and fade without reference to meter or melodic development.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Grumbling Fur...possibly named after a chapter in the Pooh series

My friend Bill Meyer says that if he hates the band name, he almost always hates the band. A band that can't think of a good one or two word handle for itself is unlikely, he says, to have the intelligence and creativity to write a good song. Fair enough. But with exceptions. Grumbling Fur, for instance, is a cloying and awful band name. It is also a pretty good band (if "band" can be made to stand in for an occasional, loosely structured, two-man collaboration) with an excellent record out in Glynnaestra. I reviewed it last week for Dusted.

I said,

"Grumbling Fur is a one-off experiment that took root, a super group of unknown musicians. It started with a day-long jam in 2011 that brought together avant stalwart Alexander Tucker, epic art-rock multi-instrumentalist Daniel O’Sullivan (of Guapo, Aethenor and Mothlite), Jussi Lehtisalo from Circle and Dave Smith (also of Guapo), and resulted in an LP called Furrier. There was another record in 2012, called Alice. It was also recorded live and on the fly, this time just Tucker and O’Sullivan.

Glynnaestra has much of the sweep and mystery of Furrier as well as the close, lovely minor-key harmonies of Alexander Tucker’s solo folk work. As in Tucker’s Imbodogom, ordinary noises like speech, tea kettles, hand claps are worked into surreal and dream-like patterns. Instruments, too, are both recognizable and slightly altered, the jangle of guitar and harp blossoming into otherworldly overtones, the notes of piano dissolving like food coloring into an amorphous pool of inchoate sounds. Yet it moves in a way that neither Imbogodom’s recordings nor Furrier ever did — playfully, lightly, but purposefully."


Grumbling Fur - The Ballad of Roy Batty from Michael Lewis on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dirtier than the Dirty 3

Hey, wow, I've celebrated being back home by catching an awful cold, spent much of yesterday asleep (after idiotically going for a run in the morning and making everything much worse). So, pardon the typos. There may be more than usual. I'm still in a bit of a fog. Meanwhile my Dusted review of Venom P. Stinger went up last week (and it's still up because, apparently, we are on an occasional updating schedule).

I said:

"Venom P. Stinger churned the most corrosive, skuzz-crusted kind of punk, its fervid evocations of various sorts of madness jacked up on unrelenting, speed-maddened marching band beats. It was pure punk in energy, aggression and noisiness, but the band had some unusual elements. Jim White, later of Dirty Three, was already finding eccentric, abstract ways to keep jackhammer time; his drumming is both rigidly on beat and feverishly imaginative. Mick Turner, who also went on to Dirty Three, unspooled a hallucinatory free-formness from his altered rockabilly licks and blues-rock vamps; he is an element of chaos in a boxed-in, one-two punk structure. Both White and Turner added an extra dimension to the clatter that surrounded Dugald McKenzie, and he himself was almost surreally intense, maniacal and unpremeditated."


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Swimming Pool Qs...and As

My feature on the great southern new wave band, the Swimming Pool Qs, runs today at Blurt.

SURFACING AGAIN: Swimming Pool Q’s

Jeff Calder’s got big plans again for his long running band. But first, the Atlanta new wave heroes want to show us some snapshots from their early years…


“We came out of a very ultra-modern tendency on the periphery of pop music. All of our friends – Pylon, B-52s, all these groups — had ultra-modern ideas,” says Jeff Calder, the singer, main songwriter and one of two guitarists for the Atlanta phenomenon known as the Swimming Pool Q’s. “But at the same time, we were exploring an old world of regional concerns and southern concerns. There’s kind of a contradiction there and a tension that happens because of that. It’s one of the things that makes these records unique.”

Calder is speaking of the Q’s’ long out-of-print second and third records, The Swimming Pool Q’s and Blue Tomorrow. After a long struggle, both have been reissued in an expanded, remastered, meticulously documented compendium called 1984-1986: The A&M Years (Bar/None), available as a 2CD set or a limited edition 3CD+DVD box. He and keyboardist/singer Anne Richmond Boston talked to BLURT about the Swimming Pool Q’s’ early years in an Atlanta-and-Athens-based post punk scene, their arduous path to a major label signing with A&M and the even more obstacle-strewn effort to bring these records back out of limbo.


Chicago and kind of a turning point

Well, okay, as I mentioned over on Facebook, we're back from Chicago. We have settled into the routine a bit, going to the YMCA early this morning and watching Breaking Bad on Netflix last night (we are a season back from everyone else, but isolated enough not to have heard much about what happens next). It's going to be a different routine though, because we left Sean in Chicago and after being the heart and soul and center of our family for 18 years, he is now starting his own life. I mean, obviously, he's still our beautiful, wonderful boy and we love him, but we aren't arranging our schedule around him anymore, and that will take some getting used to. I'm sure I will miss some aspects of it (not getting up at 5:30 a.m., not driving 13 miles to the high school to sit in the car while he goes to school board meetings) but it will also be an opportunity to do more of the things that we like -- movies, I think I mentioned, music, running races, seeing friends (making friends, I hope, I'm a little out of practice). So we are feeling our way with this, but I think it will be okay and more than okay, given that Sean has such a very good opportunity to be happy and productive and to learn to be better at the things he loves best. You can't be sad in a room with him these days, because he is floating on about six inches of air.

So, let me tell you a little about our trip. We arrived on Thursday after spending the night in Fort Wayne with my parents. (Mom made one of those amazing Indiana-type meals, nothing fancy but everything really fresh and delicious -- steak, caprese salad, corn on the cob and peach pie. Did I mention I learned how to make pie crust from my mom? She tried to teach me how to sew, too, but I never could get the knack of that.) My mom and dad are both in their eighties, but still very mobile and active. They love Sean so much, though like people who don't see kids for a while, they love him at an earlier stage than he is currently (this will undoubtedly happen to me now). Sean, who has an uncanny grip on what will make people happy, went out and sat on the swing that my dad built for him maybe a decade ago, which held despite a perhaps quadrupling in weight. I got to go running in my park with Bill that's maybe the only part of Fort Wayne that I really love, and it was nice. Bill said he'd forgotten how pretty my old neighborhood was, and it is.

So Thursday, we drove to Chicago. Our hotel was right next door to Roosevelt University and on the lake, which was good, since we had to move all of Sean's stuff, including a bicycle, into his dorm the following day. We got on the subway and rode out to the Lincoln Park neighborhood where we had a really great, casual-ish Italian meal at Sono Wood-Fired...salad, pizza, ice cream and, for me and BIll, a three-glass flight of white wines each. I think with tip, it cost $100. Definitely not in NYC anymore. Then we went to see "Buena Vista" one of three new plays in the Steppenwolf New Works Series. This particular one was intense and physical in a very Sam Shepard-ish way, though not as well-put-together as, say, Buried Child. One very good actor playing the crazy manipulative mother, interestingly cluttered and claustrophobic set.

Friday, we moved Sean in to his dorm, met his roommate Lance and his family (very nice people from Florida), bought Sean a few last minute dorm things (bookcase, hangars, laundry soap) and then said goodbye to Sean. We met Bill's brother Brian and his wife Maggie (up from Indianapolis) for lunch, then went to a reception for new CCPA parents. This was possibly the most reassuring part of the trip. We got to meet some parents, all nice people, one guy who was four years behind me at Dartmouth (we did a jinx outburst of "I couldn't get into Dartmouth now" in perfect simultaneity at one point, and he was also drinking Goose Island out of a bottle...) Bill and I also got to talk briefly with the head of the drama program whose name is also Sean Kelley (with an "e"), and he knew exactly who our Sean was, what he was good at and seemed to have some definite plans for him. So that made me feel like Sean had landed in the right place and the rest is up to him.

We got to have dinner with Sean one more time, this time with Brian and Maggie, too, and we had had such a good time the night before that we ended up going to Sono Wood Fired again, and it was juat as good. (Though no play this time.)

Saturday, we went to the Art Institute and decided to join so that we could skip the line (if you go twice in a year, it's cheaper to join). So we got to see all the impressionist art and the modern wing, which is my favorite stuff, and Bill had never been, so it was all new to him. They also have a really nice member's lounge in the basement with a garden and free coffee and tea and wifi, so we went there and checked Facebook and email and stuff, and felt like kings and queens. We took the train out to Welles Park, which is in the Lincoln Square area. they had Shakespeare in the Park that night, "Comedy of Errors" which was, weirdly, Sean's first Shakespeare play. He was one of the Dromios in the younger cast at NEYT the summer he was 12. So I cried a little at the end, thinking about little Sean discovering how much he loved Shakespeare, but mostly laughed, because it's a funny play where everything goes wrong until it goes right. Which is sort of what happened with Sean's college search. WE found this amazing burger place afterwards called The Bad Apple, which has literally hundreds of different craft beers on the menu, and since, for once, we weren't driving home, we each had two.

Sunday, we went running again on the Lakefront Trail, where Bill has become fascinated with the open-water triathlon swimming lane between the Oak Street Beach and the Ohio Beach. (He is, literally, ready to buy a wet suit and move to Chicago.) Later we met Bill Meyer and his wife Jess for lunch, and then Bill told us how to get to the Jazz Records Mart in River North, where you could probably kill a week or so, but we only spent an hour or so. Bill picked us up later at the hotel and took us to the Hungry Brain for some improv jazz... in Bill's words, Frode Gjerstad (boisterous Scandinavian free jazz saxophonist), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello/tenor guitar/electronics), and Michael Zerang (percussion). I do not probably know enough to write anything sensible about the music, but I enjoyed it a lot, especially the drummer, and we would never have found it on our own.

So, then on Monday, we left and drove 900-plus miles in two days and now we're home. I've had half a dozen reviews run in various places over the last few days, so I'll be posting some of that later.

Monday, August 12, 2013

White Hills turns onslaught into serenity

I liked the new White Hills So You Are...So You'll Be a lot, ending up my Dusted review like this...

he trick of So You Are… is not so much to make quiet interesting, but to turn an onslaught into serenity, to launch multi-pronged, multi-textured attacks at the senses which seem, even as they deafen, to hint at a meditation. All of what you might have liked about White Hills is here — the Hawkwind-ish guitar excesses, the free-form Kraut drones that go on and on, a la Wooden Shjips or Bardo Pond. It’s just that this time, all the cotton batting has been stripped off, the fuzz removed to reveal structure and complexity underneath.


We are leaving early tomorrow for Chicago, so I'm not sure how much I'll be blogging this week.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Scout Niblett

Four in one week...Scout Niblett at Dusted today.

Scout Niblett has always known how to make use of negative space, whether it’s inserting long, reverberating pauses between guitar eruptions or stringing out elliptical phrases like connect-the-dots puzzles. When she’s on, she’s white hot intense, a head back in a banshee howl, a fingers slashing a Bleach-purloined guitar riff. But when she’s off, she’s dead quiet, stock still, unembellished. She’s a serial multi-tasker, not a simultaneous one. When she plays guitar, sings and drums, she takes them by turn, never picking up the vocal line until the guitar distortion has faded, not crashing into the drums until her last “oh-oh-whoa” has trailed away.

So, on It’s Up to Emma, her sixth album, songs like “My Man” and “What Can I Do” are a bit of a shock – lusher, denser, subtler, their gut-punching intensity smoothed with sustained sounds. She sounds, on these tracks, a good bit like Sinead O’Connor, which is to say, wild and unpredictable but within a sleeker context. There are bits of cello, more intricate guitar parts, rapid-fire, martial drum beats tucked within these songs, so that they sound less like the ninth round of a middle-weight boxing match, more like unusually passionate pop.


Couple more electronic records...Shigeto and Ensemble Economique

That's right, it's time for me to struggle against the use of the word "blippy" and fret pointlessly about which instruments are "real" and which ones come out of computers. I've been listening to a couple of electronic albums with the raw enthusiasm of an Iron Age warrior contemplating his first iPod. I love the way that both of them sound, which I will try to describe to you in a naive and non-genre specific way that real electronics writers will find amusing or offensive, depending on how much they hate women. (And yes, actually, most of them do.)

First up Shigeto, who pulls heavily from jazz as he creates slinky, syncopated meshes of percussion. Elements of the sound suggest glockenspiel, marimba, xylophone and Fender Rhodes, all cool, serene and tonal, slightly idealized versions of the sounds they evoke. I like the way the beats drag behind, then step up sharp to the twos and fours, a succession of hesitations and slaps that feels unhurried, laid-back yet structured. It's quite sensual, but you'd have trouble dancing to it, sexual without heat, sweat or bother. The record is called No Better Time Than Now and it's out on Ghostly on August 19.

Disturbingly, given recent events, it includes a "Detroit Part 1," but no "Part 2" or subsequent.

With the second, Fever Logic from Ensemble Economique, I feel myself on somewhat firmer ground, since it is exactly the kind of landscape-y, outrageously gorgeous drone meditation that I tend to like on guitar, transposed to booming synths. Really, it could be Jesu in parts. There are even vocals. Lots of kissing on the video, lots of long hair flying around...enjoy.

ENSEMBLE ECONOMIQUE - We Come Spinning Out Of Control from PɨK on Vimeo.

The record has been out on the Not Not Fun label since July, but nowhere near enough people have heard it.

Back to guitars and banjos and such tomorrow.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I brush the fuzz off Jackson Scott

Quite enjoyed this debut CD from an NC-based songwriter, working in the same general area as Woods, White Fence, Lotus Plaza and King Tuff. The production is super foggy, but you can hear the songs through it if you concentrate, and anyway, sharpening things up for this kind of artist is almost always a mistake.

My review at Blurt begins...

Jackson Scott, a 20-something home recorder from Ashville, NC, slips radiant bits of pop melody into a slushy mix of static, cymbal clash and jangle. Pretty lines drift in and out of focus, subsumed in an inchoate rainbow hash of unstrung bedroom pop. You live, during this short but intriguing album, for the moments when a song rises up out of the mess and fuzz, the melody taking shape like a cloud takes shape if you look at it long enough. And then, just when you’ve got it (“It’s a frog!” “it’s an angel!” “it’s the guitar lick from the Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’”), the wind shifts and the outlines dissolve. Melbourne is easy to listen to, but hard to make sense of.

More here.

A not-quite-a-video for "Together Forever."

We are going to try to see the Evens at the Flywheel tonight, though there's no way to buy tickets ahead and I'm worried about getting shut out.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Garifuna Collective's "Ayo"

A wonderful album saying goodbye ("Ayo") to Garifuna Collective's founder Andy Palacio, who died shortly after the release of Watina in 2007. Garifuna is a hybrid of African and Caribbean styles, born out of the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries and now mostly practiced in coastal communities of Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. The album's been out on the Cumbancha label since early July.

Speedy Ortiz on a roll

A few months ago, Otis asked me to think about reviewing some self-release-ish/EP-ish type recordings from Speedy Ortiz, a semi-local (guitarist Matt Robidoux is from Keene, the rest from Northampton and thereabouts) punk-pop-noise-math foursome already making some waves. (You get the irony that Otis, who lives in Brooklyn, had to tell me about a local band, right?) Anyway, I reviewed the first three recordings when hardly anyone was interested, but since then, they have started to gain some traction. For instance, they got an 8.4 and Best New Music from Pitchfork about a month ago. So now, with the Dusted hiatus and all, I am actually a little late to proclaim my admiration for Major Arcana. It came out last month. It's a monster.

My Dusted review runs today. Among other things, it says:

Speedy Ortiz, the Western Massachusetts foursome fronted by Sadie Depuis, power blasts through its debut full-length with an unsettling combination of force and vulnerability. Major Arcana is simultaneously cleaner and denser than earlier EPs, its parts blistered with distortion yet easily audible as separate elements. An early 1990s fascination with wandering hooks, loud-soft shifts, disconsolate lyrics and dissonance swathed melodic hooks continues to make comparisons to Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. apt, yet the fizzy exuberance of the choruses (though buried in fuzz) is more like The Breeders. Depuis, in particular, is a volatile and fascinating performer, singing softly, sardonically, knowingly in the spaces between firewall blasts of volume, or picking her way carefully among sharp-edged, off-kilter constructions of post-rock guitar.


Check this out

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Monochrome Set

I've got another review up at Dusted today, this one of the very fine, very odd debut by the Monochrome Set, reissued three decades plus later by Water Music.

Strange Boutique, the 1980 major label debut from a band that will forever be associated with its offshoot (Adam and The Ants), begins in a stew of jungle sounds and a relentless pounding. “Monochrome Set (I Presume)” is still, 30 years later, the band’s calling card and the kick-off to its live set. It’s an idiosyncratic blend of punk aggression and new wave suavity, a Dada string of surrealist imagery set to irregular bursts of guitar jangle and syncopated drumming. “Monochrome Set (I Presume)” resides at the spikier end of the band’s continuum, more jitter than swoon, but still altogether too florid to really fit into early 1980s punk. It’s an intoxicating combination of eloquence and brute force, manicured and ironic but also explosively chaotic.


Here they are older but still pretty 2011.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dusted is back!!!

Very exciting, Dusted is off its several-months-long hiatus, and I have a review up...the reissue of Come's 11:11.

The album is remarkable for its unvarnished fury, its firehouse spray of emotion. Zedek’s voice is feral and catlike, now crouched in a corner, now spitting and hissing, now leaping through the air at you, claws out for the attack. No one has ever sounded more lost and desolate than Zedek, singing the last line of “Bell” all alone, naked, a tumult of guitar noise still echoing in our ears, as she murmurs, “Do you remember what I’m waiting for?” No one has ever sounded fiercer or more triumphant than she, as she belts “Just relax! Just relax! Just relax!” in the drum-clattering coda to “Submerge.” No one has wailed, before or since, in exactly the same way that Zedek does in “Power Failure,” as she exhorts her listener to “Find the switch.” The bleakness that pervades Come emanates mostly from Zedek’s voice, and it is very bleak, indeed.


Let's see, what else? I haven't been blogging much lately, but lots going on. I saw the deeply weird, disturbing, ultra-modern Marnie last week, surely one of Hitchcock's oddest, least accessible films and marveled at Sean Connery's animal vitality (as well as Tippi Hedron's convincing psychosis and chill).

I read August Wilson's "Fences" of Sean's assigned plays for next year, which he let me borrow before packing it up for the trip.

I'm getting very excited about "Richard III" which starts on Friday and runs through Sunday. It's Sean's last play at the New England Youth Theater, which is kind of sad, but I'm trying not to think about that part of it.

I have been extremely busy on the work front, all good, though I'm still waiting on a very large check. In other financial news, I finished paying off Sean's first semester at CCPA. We also bought him a couple hundred dollars worth of books, mostly plays, and a leotard and ballet shoes, since he will be taking Ballet 1 this fall. (!!!)

We are getting ready to go to Chicago, leaving on the 13th, will be there over the weekend (and Sean will be there, essentially, until Christmas).

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Qs, Cale, R3

I am limping my way to the finish of my Swimming Pool Qs feature, both helped and hindered by the fact that my interview with Jeff Calder ran well over an hour (I also have some email quotes from Anne Richmond Boston). So I'm sort of lost in early 1980s Athens/Atlanta this morning, pogoing at least in my head to the sounds of R.E.M., Pylon, B-52s and, naturally, the Swimming Pool Qs. It's not a bad part of recent history to get lost in, though I'm hoping I can surface in a couple of hours and do some paying work.

Meanwhile, I've been listening to the alphabetic end of my to-do pile...Venom P. Stinger (the first band together for future Dirty Three mainstays Mick Turner and Jim White), White Hills (awesomely rock outing for the more typically drone-y guitar band) and Zola Jesus.

All three of these are albums that I think I'm going to review and send to Dusted, which has been dark for months but may be reviving soon. I've done the initial what-the-fuck-is-this listening, now I'm trying to figure out what to write...but the new one in the stack is from Zachary Cale (hah, you thought I was going to write about JJ, didn't you? RIP, but no.) He's a really good songwriter, well connected (last album had a guest shot from Christopher Brokaw and a couple other musicians' musicians) and just a quality act. this album Bluerider is also possibly named after one of my favorite mini-periods in modern art (or maybe not) and it's a lot more laid back and acoustic than the last. If you like Kurt Vile, and these days who doesn't, you should check it out.

Try this one, then.

We are also heading down the stretch for Sean's very last New England Youth Theater production, which is Richard the III. He was initially pretty bummed to be playing King Edward, who has one really good speech before kicking it in the first act. However, he has gotten a couple of other parts as he's gone along. He has picked up Richmond who kills R3 and takes over, and a little bit of Henry the VI, so now he is all the kings but Richard (which is the one he really wanted, but oh well). Anyway, they're doing it Mad Men-style in sharp suits and it's going to be super super cool and now I want to cry because it's the last one ever and then he's leaving.