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Archives for 04/30/2006 - 05/06/2006

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Queer Noises

posted by on May 6 at 7:49 PM

Jon Savage, author of England’s Dreaming and one of the few music writers who I actually get worked up into a lather over (sorry, I’m not one of those head-scratching Christgau disciples, kids), has done it again. Check out this new compilation CD, Queer Noises, which he assembled for the Trikont label.

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This is the secret history of queer visibility in pop music, from early comedy sides by Camp Records, up through not-quite-classics by Jobriath, Black Randy & The Metro Squad, and Curt Boettcher, and ending with Sylvester. Best of all, the folks at Seattle’s own Light In The Attic are now distributing Trikont in the US, so you can buy it very affordably.

Welcome Welcome Emigrante!

posted by on May 6 at 5:52 PM

In mid 60’s Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote Welcome Welcome Emigrante for her Many A Mile album on the venerable Vangaurd label. She herself was an emigrant, being adopted from Native Canadian parents by an american couple (she has since moved back to her homeland).

Famous for her topical folk songs, like Universal Soldier made famous by Donovan and Now That The Buffalos Gone, Buffy also won an Oscar for her song Up Where We Belong from the movie An Officer, And A Gentleman.

I had this song in my head at last weeks May Day Emigrant Rights March, and now with the upcoming Cafe Septieme picket it’s popped back in.

Some people think her voice is a little wacky, with too much vibrato. I love it, and have been listening to her since I was a child. (Thanks Mom!)

Here are some samples of the song which at 2 minutes 14 second is short but packs a big punch!

Verse 1

Verse 2

Verse 3

Sums up the way I feel EXACTLY!

P.S. Many A Mile is inexplicably a rare find on vinyl and only available on cd as an import from Italy.

What’s Your Take on Ass ‘n’ Titties?

posted by on May 6 at 12:57 PM

Sean Fennesey recently wrote a typically smart review of the new Spankrock record Yoyoyoyoyo in which he explores the strange cultural space in which dirty, even misogynist rapping moves hipster asses all over the place.

I remember when i was in grade school and a friend of mine got a 2 Live Crew cassette tape. I of course had no idea what to do with that music or lyrical content. I was maybe nine years old so not only did I not really know what they were talking about but I had yet to develop the necessary sense of irony to enjoy it.

Fast forward: my friends and I discovered Disco D a few years ago and spent much of that summer listening to his mix cd, A Night At The Booty Bar. What made it all right was that none of us took seriously the lyrics about ass, titties, gold-digging hos, and all-mighty dicks. We could laugh about (at?) the awful gender roles and stereotypes being depicted while still enjoying what was a truly bumping mix.* But does an ironic smirk on the listeners end absolve the artist (or even other listeners, who might be taking this shit to heart), or do we assume that DJ Assault, Spankrock, Disco D and the like are laughing along with us at the presumed inanity of their own lyrics? Do we assume 2 Live Crew was kidding? Do we care?

Fennesey wonders artists like Spankrock (which flourish as a something of a hipster novelty right now) “(have) been getting a pass” on their lyrics, or if it’s just the same pass that all really offensive music gets from enthusiastic critics and fans. What of The Ying Yang Twins or Louis XIV?

Personally, if I can sneak out from behind the decks at Chapel for a minute tonight, I’ll be down at Baltic Room for DJ Assault, grinning and dancing (but, you know, sarcastically) along to “Ass “n’ Titties” myself. Then when I get home, I’ll just cleanse the palette with a little Shoplifting or maybe the Gossip. I’m sure everyone else will be doing the same, right?

*Favorite offensive moment: “Keys To The Whip.” A female MC demands of a male MC “the keys to the whip.” He insists that she “ain’t gonna ride in this whip if (she) ain’t sucking this dick.” Hilarious! Not only is there misogyny, but things are further troubled by the addition of patriarchal capitalism. The Man owns the Whip, the Woman can only hope gain access by using/selling her sexuality. Awesome! Still, it does have a really good beat.

X317: Where a picture’s worth…

posted by on May 6 at 4:54 AM

…about 12 banded LP tracks. But, oh, what pictures they are. While trawling the web for good used record stores in the Washington DC-metro area (suggestions anyone? I want second-hand wax, not CDs), I stumbled across this site, 317X (named after a mysterious, possibly mythological, ingredient RCA used to add to their vinyl to reduce surface noise on LPs). It features beautiful images - not sound clips, just luscious pictures - of classic lounge and exotica album jackets. Searching through the X317 image gallery is akin to spending hours sifting through the bins at an untouched thrift store, with two big pluses: a) Your fingers don’t get all dirty and gross, and b) no Streisand or Evie records to pick around. I’m pretty smitten with it this morning, but then again, I’m the type of geek who uses the cover of the soundtrack to one of Dean Martin’s Matt Helm spy capers for his screensaver.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Downstream Disquietude

posted by on May 5 at 7:53 PM

I’ve just found a goldmine resource for free downloads of electronic and experimental music! AND gorgeous field recordings! I’m very excited. The most recent offering from is a glorious radio airing of Monolake. I’ll not bore you with my derivative descriptors. Check it out for yourself here.

I don’t even remember what I was searching for when I found this, but the original post that I stumbled upon was a field recording of bats that had been doctored by German artist Lasse-Marc Riek. The track, titled “Reitende Hölentiere,” gleans supersonic emissions from little batty bat-bats brought into human hearing range. The result is crazy interesting and provokes all sorts of batty bat-bat visualizations. Enjoy.

The Genius of DJ Assault

posted by on May 5 at 3:21 PM

The following aren’t work-safe in the slightest, but are worth seeing if you haven’t already. These tracks will either make you want to dance or make you show up tomorrow to protest. Dave’s already talked it up, so nothing left to do except see how crazy it gets.

Ass N Titties

Yo Relatives

Both animations from DJ Assault’s site

Songs for Late Nights

posted by on May 5 at 3:06 PM

Sometime in the last couple of weeks Mass Mvmnt posted their latest mix, Mr. Piccolo’s Learning to Share. It’s out and available for purchase, but you can check it out online in its entirety. If you’ve ever seen Mr. Piccolo live, you have an idea of what to expect, some very atmospheric instrumental hip-hop/downtempo, meant to keep your head nodding (it’s fitting that he’s the DJ/turntablist for Plan B’s Orchestra). He does lighten it up a bit with the inclusion of a version of Markus Nikolai’s “Bushes,” a more upbeat number near the mix’s close. The mix is well worth the download and space on your iPod (plus, it’s free). Here’s the tracklisting:

1. Mr. Piccolo - We’re Recording?
2. BlockHead - Triptych Part 1
3. Mr. Piccolo - Bad Vacations feat. Jessica
4. DJ Shadow - What Does Your Soul Look Like Pt. 2
5. DJ Food - The Crow
6. Amon Tobin - Slowly
7. Aim - Journey in to the end of the night
8. Markus Nikolai - Bushes (remix)
9. Mr.Scruff / Blackalicious - Make you feel that way/Beyond
10. Mr. Piccolo/Jessica Dolle - Tea with Scientific American

Songs for Cranky.

posted by on May 5 at 2:51 PM

For whatever reason, despite the warm and bright sunshine that’s melting away all of Seattle’s dark shadows this afternoon, I’m in a terrible, terrible mood. Terrible.

I could listen to pissed off boys screaming about fucked up things (which I usually do on days like this) but instead I’m going to try to counteract my lame mood with songs that are so happy and/or upbeat it hurts.

So far the playlist o’ happiness that I’ve been able to piece together from the pitifully small collection in my iTunes includes:

1. Goods (All In Your Head) - The Mates of State
2. Heavy Metal Drummer - Wilco
3. Generator - Foo Fighters
4. Center of the Universe - Built to Spill
5. I’m Not Down - The Clash
6. Dragonship - Fruit Bats
7. Trusty Chords - Hot Water Music
8. Cherish - Madonna
9. Apples in the Trees - Mirah
10. Sound System - Operation Ivy
11. Here Comes Your Man - The Pixies
12. Speakers Push Sound - Pretty Girls Make Graves
13. Don’t Stop Me Now - Queen
14. The Sprinkler - Sicko
15. Art Class - Superchunk
16. Dial Up - Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
17. American Girl - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

And I gotta say, it’s working. Sorta. I might have to go back to Majority Rule soon, though. Sometimes it’s good to have something to yell to.

What do you listen to when you’re having a stupid day?

On and On, South of Heaven

posted by on May 5 at 1:34 PM

For those of you still irritated from the National Day of Prayer, the nice boys in Slayer have the ideal salve.

A New Use for “(Theme from) The Monkees”

posted by on May 5 at 12:53 PM

A comedian named Chris Petrillo takes an unsubtle swipe at BushCo with this parody set to “(Theme from) The Monkees.” Have fun, Mr. Feit.

The Sea Navy? Yes!

posted by on May 5 at 12:11 PM

Who are the Sea Navy? Well I’ll tell you who they are! They’re a band. A trio, actually, comprised of Jay Cox, Andrew Rudd, and TW Walsh. Jay Cox was once in the Ivory Coast, Andrew Rudd was once in Aqueduct, and TW Walsh is from Pedro the Lion and Headphones. All-star line-up, right? I know. They play really upbeat pop with a vintage/lo-fi feel. It’s bright, fun, catchy—everything pop should be, if you ask me. You can hear songs here.

You can also see them play live this weekend at the Paradox with Rainer Maria, Aloha, and Ambulette. The show starts at 7:30 pm and costs $10.

Foscil’s Organic Goodness

posted by on May 5 at 11:29 AM

Foscil and Specs One: They played last night at the Baltic Room. Where were all you people? They mesmerized a relatively meager crowd, but the quality goods should’ve prompted full capacity.

The Foscil boys and Specs One delivered breathtaking synth and sampling ingenuity, broken into subliminal yet visceral swatches of beat-heavy brilliance, further whetted by Specs’ rivuletted rhymes. Few others have beckoned me so to the Baltic’s hardwoods.

I’ve been waiting months to hear “My Words” live. I was not disappointed. This treasure off the EP Discuss the Benefits of Said Collaborative Efforts Vol. 1 (Fourthcity) borrows a sumptuous sampling of “I Talk to the Wind” by King Crimson. The final rendering is a downtempo utopia of sweet vocal sincerity, aching instrumentality and sly, subtle breaks. “My Words” carries significant meaning for me as a budding journalist and is very close to my girlish little heart. I’ll admit; it’s become something of an anthem.

Feelies Fans: Prepare to Freak Out

posted by on May 5 at 10:58 AM

It’s not a full-blown reunion yet, but Pitchfork reports serious rumblings that front this morning:

Quanah Humphreys reports: This Sunday, May 7, sandwiched between the Sensational Soul Cruisers R&B revue and the “high energy rock” of Majorette, members of post-punk legends the Feelies will get together for an early afternoon performance at the Hoboken Spring Arts & Music Festival. Sounds like we’re in for some slightly-less-than-crazy rhythms.

It’s a partial Feelie formation, New Jersey’s Exit Weekly reports, with singer/guitarist Glenn Mercer and drummer Vinny DeNunzio performing a mix of Feelies songs and new material. Exit also reports that Feelies co-songwriter and guitarist Bill Million won’t be joining the duo due to personal and geographical restrictions (Million lives in Florida), dashing any chance of billing the performance as a full-fledged reunion.

The Feelies formed in the late 70s in New Jersey but quickly gained buzz in New York City as one of the most exciting bands in the city’s emerging new wave scene. The 1980 album Crazy Rhythms was a commercial failure but would go on to inspire countless young bands. The band suffered line-up changes and periods punctuated by on-and-off action but kept the core songwriting duo of Mercer and Million intact until the band skittered to a halt in 1991 with Million’s abrupt departure to Florida.

According to Exit Weekly, despite his absence from Sunday’s show, Million is interested in playing again with his former bandmates and might have larger plans for the Feelies than Hoboken festivals. For now, though, that’s all speculation. “It’s all fun at this point, and we’re going to be careful about the types of gigs we do,” Mercer told Exit. “We’re not just going to play for money. The shows have got to be fun.”


Thursday, May 4, 2006

The Sadness of Things

posted by on May 4 at 9:48 PM

Oh My. I’ve just been listening to William Basinski’s newest release The Garden of Brokenness (2062). Yet again, he brings us a mournful archival melody, the simplest of piano chords. The recording resurrects a tape loop from one of his first piano experiments as a composer, circa 1979. It’s another disintegrating piece of his history fragmented and fed into a new medium. The result is heartbreaking. The stroke of ivory in subtle chords resigns gently into sonorous analogue space, a high-frequency hiss of time lost, the random static of a splice, and one is burdened by the melancholic incongruity of it.

Basinski visited us around this time last year, at which time Data Breaker paid due homage to this mysterious master of experimental media. Read that here.

In the artist’s own words, he describes the melody of this recording as “one that evokes the Japanese concept of ‘mono no aware,’ which translates roughly to ‘the sadness of things’.”

Time to Get (Psychic) Ill(s)

posted by on May 4 at 5:49 PM

The Funhouse is the place to be tonight if you want to get your maximum dosage of psych-rock goodness, with Brooklyn ergotnauts Psychic Ills and Blood on the Wall laying down the lysergic noise. It’ll be the perfect capper to an evening spent ogling Kelly O’s scrotal photos. I think”

Left of the Dial

posted by on May 4 at 4:04 PM

KEXP DJ Kevin Cole just announced that he would play the new song from the Replacements at 5 pm. Can you, um, hardly wait? Or shall we color you unimpressed? I will stop with the poor puns now—discuss.


posted by on May 4 at 3:49 PM

…and speaking of video games, which of today’s bands do you think would make for good video game adaptations? What would Death Cab: The Game be like? Put your imagination to work in comments.

Call Me…Old

posted by on May 4 at 3:41 PM

My boyfriend just called me to share this disturbing moment that occurred in the midst of his lunchtime bartending shift:

“There’s a 22 year-old girl in here with her boyfriend. She went over the jukebox to pick out songs and was obviously happy to see Blondie as one of the selections—‘Ooh, I LOVE Blondie,’ she squealed. ‘My grandmother used to play them all the time when I was a little girl.’ “

Grandmother? While I’m glad to hear about the hip grandmas out there in the world, and I’m perfectly happy to be my age (35), it was, well, unsettling.

Journey Fact of the Day

posted by on May 4 at 3:36 PM

Love “em or hate “em, Journey are a spectacle on every level. Not only are they responsible for toxic earworms like “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Separate Ways” and “Faithfully,” the band’s massive success and dramatic history have produced a mountain of baffling trivia that I will occasionally post here, from now until they step out of their Scarab Escape Vehicle to rock Seattle on August 31.

Fact #1: In 1983, Journey were the inspiration for “Journey,” the first-ever arcade game designed around a rock band. Players traveled with the band from planet to planet, helping them recover their instruments so they can make it to their gig on time. The game featured a number of impressive technical advances. In addition to the synthesized versions of the band’s hits players heard during normal gameplay, the bonus rounds featured an actual tape loop of those hits in full fidelity. “Journey” also included innovations in digital imaging, with actual photographs of the band members superimposed on their pixilated in-game bodies. Early test versions of the game also included a primitive digital camera that allowed players to put a picture of themselves on the head of their in-game character. The feature was pulled before the game’s release when testers opted to superimpose their tiny adolescent penises instead.

The Killer List of Videogames describes this title as “uncommon” among vintage arcade game collectors.

My Trip To Zaireeka

posted by on May 4 at 2:48 PM

There’s a new album by The Flaming Lips, At war With THe Mystics. But I’m feeling a little ambivalent about it. Maybe Yoshima got too much airplay. Maybe the F-Lips got over exposed. Whatever the reason, it’s going to take me awhile until I care enough to purchase it.

Until then, I have a different, rarely heard F-Lips cd to listen through. Zaireeka.

Originally released in 1998, Zaireeka is a concept album made in a four cd set. Each cd contains the whole album, eight songs total, only with different mixes of all eight tracks.

Well, it’s more complicated than that. None of the cd’s are complete on their own. The songs are incomplete and you need all four cd’s playing together, simultaneously, to hear each song as The F-Lips intended.

Designed as more of a social experiment, you were supposed to join with three other friends, all with your own cd players, and work together to hear the complete Zaireeka. In theory that sounds like a good time. The reality, though, is that it was too much work for anyone who wasn’t a stoned college student. Online music magazine Pitchfork gave the album 0 out of 10 for it’s annoyance factor.

I purchased the set 5 years ago, after hearing The Soft Bulletin. Thinking of the fun I would have with my friends on some tripped out evening. It never happened.

The music on the album is supposed to surround you in sound, some good, some threateningly harsh, to create a new enviroment. Being difficult to manage, however, gave the internet and tech savvy kids the chance to do what should have been done in the first place. A mixdown version of the album that could be played through on one set of speakers, on one cd player.

Rumour has it that eventually The F-Lips will be releasing a 5.1 surround sound DVD version of Zaireeka. But no release date has been set.

I searched in vain in the last few days for a site where I could download this bootlegged mixdown, but couldn’t find one. So I decided to make one myself.

First I uploaded all four cd’s into itunes. To hear a sample of what each cd sounds like on its own click the links below. This track is the final on the album, The Big Ol’ Bug Is The New Baby Now. (Note: if you listen to these, please listen through the whole file, sometimes there are blank spaces on purpose in the tracks.)

Zaireeka CD 1 Track 8

Zaireeka CD 2 Track 8

Zaireeka CD 3 Track 8

Zaireeka CD 4 Track 8

After that, I moved all four tracks of each song individually into Garage Band. I synched them all to start at the same moment. When finished, I exported the completed songs back to itunes. The end mixdown sounds like this:

Zaireeka Track 8 Final Mixdown

Now after five long years welcome to The Flaming Lips, Zaireeka!

Panic at the Podcast

posted by on May 4 at 1:42 PM

In this week’s Underage column I talked to a local podcast host, and found out how easy it really is to start up your own podcast show. It’s so easy, I’m working on getting my own going. More on that later, though.

If you’re also wanting to start your own show, but need inspiration, both Never Forget and War of Attrition have new episodes posted this week. While Never Forget features some great punk rock from Lifetime, the Minutemen, and Hot Snakes, War of Attrition has “huge cuts” from soundtracks, including songs from Kenny Loggins (“Danger Zone”), Queen (“Princes of the Universe”), and Joe Esponsido (“You’re the Best,” of course).

I’ve been hyping these two shows for awhile now, and while they’re great and all, does anyone else have a podcast they wanna share with the rest of the class? I’m sorta addicted…

Don’t Write Off Eugene…

posted by on May 4 at 11:37 AM

There’s a lotta junk that sprouts from the muck that is the “valley of sickness” (good luck this allergy season). However, if you spend enough time observing the music scene, the dregs (jam bands) will settle and the gems begin to shine. Eugene, Oregon, home to the UO, Ken Kesey’s dead body (unverified) and a basement where Black Flag supposedly once performed, harbors a bevy of obscure and talented artists who deserve at least regional attention. You need to do some digging, but once there, you’ll realize Eugene is home to a lot of grassroots, DIY artists toying with interesting and unique sound.

Case in point — Noise artist, Cryptic Weevil and his Obscurica label. According to Cryptic Weevil, “OBSCURICA is a CDR nano-label with the mission of establishing a forum for experimental and adventurous musicians. To this end, we’ll distribute a select array of hopelessly obscure but cult-deserving recordings to the discerning listener.”

As far as pushing the local pallet beyond its Nancy’s Yogurt limits, CW has truly nurtured the local noise underground by promoting, and releasing the works of, numerous local artists. In addition, the recondite weevil has brought a slew of notable noisters to the area including Caroliner Rainbow Scratched Soaproot and Candle Dinner, The Yellow Swans and Emil Beaulieau.

For all aspiring noise-icians out there, check out CW’s most ambitious project to date, Sloppy Seconds. Compose a one second track, seal it up and drop it in the (e)mail and you may be included in the 80 minute long CDR. That’s right folks, one artist a second for 80 minutes… 4,800 separate artists. A monumental task… But if anyone can do it… count on Eugene… count on Obscurica.

Imperfect Sound Forever

posted by on May 4 at 11:35 AM

Stylus magazine’s Nick Southall has written a provocative essay about audiophilia and the lousy sound inherent in many recordings and playback devices today. Can you say “dynamic range compression“? Neil Young’s anti-CD screed in the ’80s turned out to be prescient.

At the risk of inspiring yet another debate about the merits of analog vs. digital, Southall makes some scathing indictments about the flaws of CD sound production, in which extreme frequencies get compressed to sound louder on the radio:

Music isn’t meant to be at a consistent volume and flat frequency; it’s meant to be dynamic, to move, to fall and rise and to take you with it, physically and emotionally. Otherwise it literally is just background noise. Compressed CDs grab your attention in the same way that people who shout grab your attention, and they’re just as tiring and annoying in the long run if you’re standing too close to them. They sound fine if you’re playing them back through some satellites and a subwoofer hooked up to your PC, or through a half-decent pair of headphones and an iPod, or in your car where the compression helps the music rise above engine and road noise; but if you push them through a system designed to reproduce sound as realistically and effectively as possible, they can and do sound pretty poorforced, lifeless, wearing, and flat.

And this:

Dynamic range compression may be responsible for a multitude of recent record industry sins but it’s a difficult phenomenon to identify if you’re not aware of what you’re looking for. Aside from making records simply sound louder and flattening the delivered frequencies, it also sucks all the space out of music, but many people simply aren’t accustomed to listening to what isn’t there.

Southall’s piece is a long, interesting read, and it just may change the way you listen to music. Has the convenience modern technology offers come at too high of a sonic cost?

The Rest Should Have Been Noise

posted by on May 4 at 11:07 AM

Yesterday Jen Graves kindly posted a link to Alex Ross’ playlist. I perused the list, here’s my response:

I didn’t attend Alex Ross’ talk inspired by his upcoming book on 20th century classical music, The Rest Is Noise, at On the Boards, but I have perused his playlist, which looks passable. Alas, Ross falters where most classical music writers do, which is in the second half of the 20th century.

Continue reading "The Rest Should Have Been Noise" »

Sacraments of Sound

posted by on May 4 at 10:30 AM

Morocco, Anyone?

In the ancient city of Fez, the arts capitol of Morocco, the music of the great spiritualists from all over the world will merge metaphysically for the 12th Annual Sacred Music Festival, sure to have spines scintillating from June 2 “ 10. This is no new-age circle jerk. Atheist? Agnostic? Who cares. Prepare to be haunted. This year’s transcendental tribunal includes Salif Keita from Mali, Japanese Taiko drumming from Za Ondekoza, Sufis from Pakistan and India, Yungchen Lhamo from Tibet and a smattering of French classical and Gregorian-style chant. Check out these aural samples, sure to stun and transfix all you infidels (including myself).


Driving with the “rhinos”

posted by on May 4 at 6:53 AM

I’m on this crazy road trip back East this week, and I was hoping my rental car would have XM satellite radio, but no such luck. Fortunately, I grabbed a couple promo CDs before I dashed to catch my crack-thirty AM flight outta Sea-Tac yesterday. This morning, rooting through my bag, I discover one of my random choices is by French dance-rock act ‹‹rinôçérôse››. Um, okay. I’ve dug most of their singles, and found their mix of electric guitars, flute, and hard disco-house beats enjoyable, but insufficent to sustain interest over a full-length. Well, lo and behold, their new, self-titled US release is a best of (although not labeled as such), with cuts from their last four albums. So in addition to kick-ass recent imports like the fuzzed-out, pumped-up “Bitch” and the current iTunes TV jingle “Cubicle,” you also get all the best cuts (the swirling “Le Mobilier”) from previous releases—and no filler. It makes an awesome soundtrack for long drives. And that’s the extent of my review for now, because it takes longer for me to type out the HTML for the name ‹‹rinôçérôse›› (it requires almost 70 characters) than to formulate my thoughts about their music, and I’ve got someplace else to be.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

All Things Lead to Arthur Russell

posted by on May 3 at 5:17 PM

Arthur Russell is a musical methuselah.

There is a mathematical scale model of evolution called The Game of Life. Models of evolution are comprised of configurations of cells that take on a life of their own, needing no further facilitation. A methuselah is a seminal pattern of cells that takes generations of evolution to stabilize. The name Methuselah means “when he dies, it shall be sent.”

Arthur Russell died of AIDS in 1992 in New York City, at the age of 40. During his lifetime, Russell created some of the most emotionally resonant avant-garde cello music ever produced. He practiced Buddhism and joined a monastery at one point, only to ditch the scene when he was told that everyone was pooling their possessions; Russell couldn’t part with his cello, his true religion. He moved to New York City in the early 1970s and became something of a disco muse, but he infiltrated many genres. He collaborated with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, David Byrne, Phill Niblock and Phillip Glass.

Listening to the cello on World of Echo is like lying in the shallows as the tide ebbs and flows over you, except it’s not a tide of water, but sound. And dissolved in that is his intimate humming of a voice.

He’s been gone for years, but I’ve just discovered him. And I keep discovering him. Since I first heard him, serendipity keeps leading me back to him. Now there’s a brand new release, titled First Thought Best Thought (Audika). It includes some previously unreleased stuff that I am very excited to hear. There is an evolution of Arthur Russell occurring. It perpetuates itself and needs no facilitation.

What’s New with Kinski?

posted by on May 3 at 3:02 PM

Lots of new activity in the Kinski camp. Chris Martin, guitarist for the Seattle psych-rockers, is now strumming the ax for the Unnatural Helpers, who play the Sunset on May 11. Martin and Kinski bassist Lucy Atkinson have formed a new group called Liverburst, featuring Jeffery Taylor (from the Climax Golden Twins) and Andrew McInnis (from Lemons & Stallions and Girth). They debut at the Sunset in Seattle on June 6 with Ethan (Comets on Fire) Miller’s new project, Howlin’ Rain.

Mark Your Calendars

posted by on May 3 at 2:51 PM

Journey and Def motherfuckin’ Leppard play at the White River Ampitheatre on Thursday, August 31.

Set aside your Hagar/Roth arguments over whether Steve Perry or Steve Augeri rocks harder and get your tickets now.

Don’t Sleep on Blueprint

posted by on May 3 at 2:40 PM

A follow-up to Keenan’s post on tonight’s show. Blueprint is a very quality MC that perfectly accentuates RJ’s beats. His solo work is top-notch as well, with the same sense of humor and reverence for the art of MCing. His last solo outing 1988 was a concept album, creating an LP representing the lyrical styles and production techniques of his favored year in hip-hop history. He managed to make an old-school album that didn’t feel dated, and songs like “Big Girls Need Love Too” kept his sense of humor right in the forefront, where it needs to be. I’m hoping they bust out a few of those tracks as well tonight, along with some bits from Blueprint’s moody, atmospheric, largely instrumental Chamber Music (an album made for rainy days and quiet nights).

As for opener One Be Lo, boy’s got skills. I first saw him open up for Blueprint at the Vera Project a couple of years back and he stole the show. In non-participatory Seattle he managed to get people waving their hands in the air and participating in some call and response. He’s got charisma for days, and his album S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. rightfully earned the heavy play it received in my iPod. It made for a much more even release than the prior, equally anagram-friendly Project- f.e.t.u.s. Even though One Be Lo’s show involves just him and a mic, it’s entirely compelling. If Keenan didn’t get it across enough, don’t sleep on this one.

Stuck Off The Fakeness

posted by on May 3 at 12:21 PM

I’m trapped, in between two worlds, tryin to get dough y’know…
-Havoc, “Survival Of The Fittest”

Today I got up and plopped down in front of my shitty laptop, with the sole intention of downloading 2 albums: Husker Du’s New Day Rising and Mobb Deep’s brand new album Blood Money. I used to have the Du CD so I knew what to expect, but I was clueless as to what Blood Money would be about.

Well…sorry Charles, i know Havoc and Prodigy made one of your favorite albums- and you’ve analyzed their output ad nauseam- but the Mobb has dropped a hot, corny turd here. They could’ve shortened the title to just B.M. and conveyed this more effectively.

In ‘06, the once-Infamous Mobb Deep is hindered by a couple factors: their newly minted G-Unit affiliation, and Prodigy’s shattered confidence. The quickest route to zero credibility is to sign up with 50, and Hav and P have made it worse by getting G-Unit tattoos like proud babymommas, boasting of their newfound ‘Hollywood’ status, and continually namedropping their new boss- who incidentally, halfway dissed the Mobb not long ago on “Piggy Bank”, his diss against Fat Joe and Jadakiss. Not even the big budget Interscope gave them could repair Prodigy’s pride, however. Never in history has an MC been as clearly demoralized by a diss as P was by Jay-Z’s infamous Summer Jam performance years ago. Once one of NY’s strongest wordsmiths, Prodigy has been reduced to mumbling flaccid, non-rhyming threats ever since Hov put a picture of a young P, decked out in ballet togs, on the Summer Jam screen.

Full of brassy, clubby production (as opposed to Havoc’s gloomy dirges), G-Unit affiliates (as opposed to Queensbridge cohorts like Nas, Littles, and Big Noyd), and unconvincing atempts at crossover (as opposed to hauntingly nihilistic soul-dead murder music), Blood Money falls flat on its face. Even the pre-release promo stunts of having the two diminutive thugs ride the NYC subway(surrounded by security, natch) reeks of relevance forever, irreparably lost.

The Fall of Troy haven’t fallen.

posted by on May 3 at 11:57 AM

This week at least a dozen people have told me the Fall of Troy have broken up.

What a bunch of liars!

“We’re not breaking up…” said a statement the band made to their fans via Myspace. When I asked singer Thomas Erak about the possible split, he confirmed the band is still very much a band and said “Shit happens, we got over it…” He even talked about resting over the summer and writing new material (the band has been on tour practically non-stop all year).

Now stop spreading nasty rumors, will ya? The Fall of Troy have not broken up.

Who Still Cares About Pearl Jam?

posted by on May 3 at 11:34 AM

Something very strange happened the other day: I asked my stable of writers if anybody wanted to review Pearl Jam’s new self-titled album. Nobody bit. I know, I was shocked, too.

I’ve never been a fan of Pearl Jam; Eddie Vedder’s buffalo-in-gastric-distress voice always has repulsed me (even as I acknowledge his good intentions and righteous political leanings) and the music has struck me as pedestrian, lumbering hard rock. Since their debut album, Ten, I’ve considered Pearl Jam to be the Bad Company of grunge and have given them a wide berth. Vedder’s ex-wife Beth Liebling, on the other hand, played in my favorite rock band of the ’90s, Hovercraft. Oh, how I miss them.

Pearl Jam rocks in a manner to which millions of PJ fans have become accustomed. The single “World Wide Suicide” ain’t bad in a rousing, AOR way, and “Comatose” ironically has admirable energy and drive, but this new collection is ultimately yet more earthbound rock with absolutely nothing surprising or distinctive about it. So it’ll probably go Platinum.

Maybe you think my view is horribly misguided. Or perhaps you think I’m on the money. Whatever your opinion is, please weigh in with your observations. Should we still get excited by new Pearl Jam music in 2006? Or are you, like me, shrugging your shoulders?

Deeper Into the Noisettes

posted by on May 3 at 11:04 AM

The Stranger’s Band of the Week, the Noisettes, explore the rarely traveled (these days anyway) regions of outer-space soundtracks. These mysterious Seattleites remind me of that era (late ’60s/early ’70s) when American academic electronic composers and acid-gobbling German rockers attempted to blow minds and evoke galactic atmospheres. Keep all three of your ears cocked toward the Noisettes.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

How to Insult an Anthem

posted by on May 2 at 4:59 PM

Forget translation into something as benign as another language: The greatest way to besmirch a national anthem is to record it as a MIDI file.

This site is a cornucopia of anthemsmost of them are dull and monolithic, but a few are incredible.

Morocco’s sounds like the opening credits to a vampire movie, while Saudi Arabia’s is like the theme song to some Japanese children’s show. The Netherlands’ is weirdly bombastic, not homey at all. The Vatican’s sounds like a wedding march (appropriate, since the Church is the bride of Christ and all), but Myanmar’s sounds like an old Catholic hymn. You could pogo to Togo’s. I really like Senegal’s, which seems geometric and layered and pretty in a Phillip Glass kind of way.

Then there are those fuckers in Lichtensteinwho totally ripped us off! Or, wait, did they rip England off? Or did those fuckers in England rip us off?

Somebody ripped us off, and rightly so. My Country ‘Tis of Thee has a bitchin’ hook.

Deep Space Music from Seatown

posted by on May 2 at 2:36 PM

Chris Hanis (ex-Soov) often sends me MP3s of beautiful drone-based tracks. They have yet to see official release, but they certainly deserve a wider audience. Check out his newest piece. Dim the lights, sonic voyager.

Happy Mon Frere CD Release Day!

posted by on May 2 at 2:12 PM

Yeah, there are a lot of new records hitting the stores today, including Pearl Jam, Tool, and uh… Brian Littrell of Backstreet Boys’ solo record, but the one I’m most excited about comes from Seattle’s own Mon Frere. Read about the band here, then go to Sonic Boom Records in Ballard tonight at 6 pm for a free in-store performance! And if you buy a copy of the new record, Blood, Sweat and Swords (which is great, by the way), you get a free ticket to their CD release show on the 13th at El Corazon with the Emergency, Siberian, and Wallpaper.

And speaking of local releases, Posies member Jon Auer is also releasing an album, his first solo record titled Songs From the Year of Our Demise. You can preview a few songs here.

Isn’t Seattle great?

Techno Event of the Week

posted by on May 2 at 2:03 PM

Seattle minimal-techno producer Jon McMillion makes his live debut tonight at Baltic Room. I ramble on about his prodigious skills in this week’s Data Breaker. I sincerely believe he will be a star on the level of Orac Records label mate Bruno Pronsato, who’s currently devastating crowds in Europe.

La bandera de las estrellas

posted by on May 2 at 2:03 PM

Nevermind what Bush thinks. It turns out that “Nuestro Himno” did not set the precedent for Spanish-language lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The U.S. Library of Congress has in its online archive the sheet music to “La Bandera de las Estrellas,” published in 1919. The translation into Spanish was done by Francis Haffkine Snow. The music itself was arranged by none other than Walter Damrosch, who was, at that time, one of the most prominent conductors in New York (New York Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera). And get this: the LoC description states that “This version of the song was prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Education.”

On top of that, the Spanish lyrics to the 1919 version are virtually identical to the those used in “Nuestro Himno.”

Por lo tanto Bush puede chuparlo! Of course, none of this erases the fact that “Nuestro Himno” sucks.

Return of the Dirty Gentleman

posted by on May 2 at 1:09 PM

While I’ve always enjoyed Greg Dulli’s post-Afghan Whigs work with the Twilight Singers, it seems like he’s been holding something back, either because of mourning the passing of his dear friend Ted Demme or simply because he was slowing down creatively. There’s been nothing wrong with quieter works like Blackberry Belle and Twilight, but I’ve sorely missed the aggression and overt sexuality of the Whigs earlier albums. I’m extremely happy to report that Dulli’s sound is taking a dramatic turn for the better with the release of Powder Burns, the new Twilight Singers release for One Little Indian Records. Appropriately enough, the song that announces this new vigor is “I’m Ready,” a thick, guitar-heavy rave-up that sounds like both a libidinous promise and a cocky threat—similar to the twisted, majestic misogyny of 1993’s Gentlemen, but with a brighter edge and tinged with the maturation of his long-fermenting love of old soul music. Although the official release isn’t until May 16, you can purchase the entire album through I-Tunes now. You’ll be able to catch them live on June 17 at Neumo’s.

How Was Coachella?

posted by on May 2 at 12:49 PM

I’m smacking myself for not making it to Indio this year. Did you go? Will you tell me who lit up the desert? Who blew you away? And what Madonna’s show was like?

R.I.P. Low-Life

posted by on May 2 at 11:14 AM

Planning on going to Low-Life, the kick-ass Tuesday night weekly at Viceroy tonight? Too bad. According to an early AM post by Death of the Party promoter Clayton Thomas Vomero, “everything has its shelf-life.” So effective immediately: No more Low-Life. We called Clay-Rock lickety-split to make sure we weren’t missing out on any juicy scuttlebutt, and he assured us that no, there wasn’t a conflict with the fine folks at Viceroy, it was simply time for Low-Life to go bye-bye.

Before you start weeping bitter tears, save your strength. Clayton (aka Glass Titty), awe-inspiring Low-Life resident DJ Curtis, Fourcolorzack, and DJ N8 will be launching a new Tuesday throwdown (“we own Tuesday night, bitch”) starting the second week of June. The location is as-yet-unannounced, but it will be on the Hill, and if you know the, ahem, high-flying circles these cats run in, it isn’t hard to guess. Vomero promises the still-nameless new party will be “like Low-Life, but bigger, better, and more crazy.”

Need more incentive than that? They’ll also be doing occasional runs of free promo T-shirts. If you’re familiar with the sick design aesthetic this crew loves (DOTP recently got censored by MySpace for one of its posters), you know these will be de rigueur fashion accessories this summer.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Johnny Cash, dead but not gone

posted by on May 1 at 8:51 PM

Johnny Cash’s posthumous American V: A Hundred Highways is scheduled for U.S. release on July 4. These are the final sessions Cash was working on with producer Rick Rubin before he passed away on Sept. 12, 2003. Among the selections are two final Cash originals (“Like the 309,” “I Came To Believe”) and covers by artists including Rod McKuen, Bruce Springsteen, and Hank Williams. But the real carrot is the lead single: Cash’s rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s 1971 hit “If You Could Read My Mind.” That song has been successfully repurposed as a dance floor track not once, but twice in its history—by disco singer Viola Wills in 1980, and Stars of 54 featuring Ultra Naté in 1998—as well as being covered by Glen Campbell, Olivia Newton-John, and others.

But Cash’s version (sans dance beats) is reportedly gut-wrenchingly good. A colleague who has heard the music was reduced to tears on the first listen: “It’s so moving. At first I thought, ‘Why did Rick have John record “If You Could Read My Mind”?’ But after hearing it, it just aptly illustrated why Rick is so good at what he does,” she writes. “I mean, who would have thought that John would have recorded Trent’s ‘Hurt’?”

For those of you who prefer your Johnny Cash in his younger, rawer incarnation, start setting aside your paychecks for ROCKIN’ BONES: 1950s PUNK & ROCKABILLY, a new 4-CD set from the small part of Rhino Records that still strives to do more than just repackage old Fleetwood Mac albums. In stores June 27, the 101 song set list includes Cash’s “Get Rhythm,” but hardcore fans will probably be more excited about the rarities and more obscure artists, including 33 tracks previously unavailable on CD in the U.S.. Pertinent details and track listing below:

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The Edge of The Knife

posted by on May 1 at 12:14 PM

You may not have heard of The Knife, but you have heard their music. At the moment, Jose Gonzalez is helping them mint Swedish Kroner, with his popular cover of “Heartbeats” which Sony used in it’s bouncing balls commercial.

Now The Knife have released a new album, Silent Shout . It is the best new electronic music cd i’ve heard so far this year. It is quite dark, both lyrically and musically, and has sent chills down the spines of friends I’ve played it for. Now you can wonder at the aural beauty of the first single and title track, Silent Shout, by watching the freaky new video!

Somehow it’s eerily perfect that I first saw this video on the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

P.S. For even more freakish fun from The Knife, check out this video from their last album, Deep Cuts. In which a transvestite wows, then woos, a room full of thuggish looking young men into dancing with her.

Kucinich Looking Out For Anti-Bush Musicians

posted by on May 1 at 10:43 AM

Mifune, an Afro-beat band performing as part of Cleveland, Ohio’s Tri-City Jazzfest, was ordered to end their set prematurely by the venue’s management when their anti-Bush t-shirts were deemed inappropriate. Ohio congressman and former presidential aspirant Dennis J. Kucinich has written a letter to the managers of Tower City Center sharply protesting their actions. Read the full story here. Hat tip to Ben London at the Grammy Foundation.

Radiohead announce U.S. tour dates

posted by on May 1 at 9:58 AM

But the bad news for local fans? None of the shows are in Seattle, Portland, or even bloody San Francisco or Vancouver, BC. Oh well, it’s summer, right? So take a few vacation days and that “rainy day” money and go see ‘em at Bonnaroo, which has a pretty awesome line-up this year, including Tom Petty, Cat Power, Common, Dr. John, Nickel Creek, and Gomez. Plus the greatest novelty act that is anything but a novelty, Hasidic rap-reggae sensation Matisyahu.

Tickets for the earliest shows go on sale May 6. And while there are no plans for a new Radiohead album in 2006, the sets will reportedly feature lots of newly written material, which one imagines is earmarked for future release. Specific dates and details—for those of you who a) reside in other cities or b) are dripping with disposable income are below the cut…

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Handsome Family… and pets

posted by on April 30 at 10:20 PM

Eccentric country duo the Handsome Family have another brilliant album due to drop shortly. Last Days Of Wonder will be released in the U.S. by Carrot Top on June 13 (in Europe it comes out May 29), and as the lucky holder of an advance copy, I assure you it is among the finest work in their already superlative catalog. Seriously. The disc opens with the lines “Like four million tons of hydrogen exploding on the sun/Like the whisper of the termites building castles in the dust.” (Note to lyricist Rennie Sparks: Why not “beetles building castles in the dung”? Or am I an imbecile who stoops to the obvious?) And Brett’s voice sounds especially mellifluous this time out, particularly on the three tracks featuring vocal harmonies by his brother Darrell.

What to do while you’re waiting for the release of this fine, fine album? Why not commission Rennie to paint a portrait of your pet? I’ve visited the Handsome Family homestead in Albuquerque, NM, and I can heartily endorse the high quality of the finished products—I mean, artwork.

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Alternately, you might like to spend a few minutes perusing Rennie’s guest editorial contributions to this website of anonymous love letters.

Rolling Stone Falls Out of Tree, Lives

posted by on April 30 at 5:21 PM

Keith Richards took a nasty fall out of a coconut tree in Fiji, the BBC reports, and is recovering from his injuries in a New Zealand hospital.

What the 62-year-old guitarist was doing on a coconut tree remains unanswered at the moment.

Public Image - now less Ltd.

posted by on April 30 at 9:55 AM

Back in seventh or eighth grade, growing up in Nowhere, VA, I remember my friend and punk rock-mentor Laura S. telling me about the second album by Johnny Lydon (né Rotten) and his cohorts in Public Image Ltd., Metal Box. It came packaged as three 12-inch, 45 RPM discs nestled in a film canister, she said, and was (allegedly) nigh impossible to open without scratching at least one disc. (The packaging was, among other things, a sly homage to German musical innovators Can.) This experimental punk-dub touchstone was subsequently repackaged as the simple gatefold double-LP Second Edition, and original copies of Metal Box now fetch anywhere from $50 to $200 on Well, lo and behold, on June 27 the vinyl version is being reissued (via Runt Distribution’s excellent 4 Men With Beards label)… in the original metal box.

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Hooray! Because the only thing geekier than being an obsessive record collector (and I say that as a proud one myself) is an obsessive record collector with a fetish for esoteric design and packaging.