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Archives for 05/07/2006 - 05/13/2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Imaginary Box

posted by on May 13 at 5:11 PM

…and to close out Packaging Week here on Line Out: A number of artists, including Cheap Trick and the Allman Brothers, recently filed a class-action suit against Sony, alleging that they are not giving the bands their full share of digital downloading revenue.

From the press release:

Instead of paying its recording artists the approximate 30 cents of the 70 cents it receives for digital downloads (after deducting payments to music publishers), the suit alleges that Sony Music wrongfully treats each download as a sale of a physical phonorecord (i.e. a CD or cassette tape), only paying on 85% of such “sales” (due to a fiction that there is breakage of product), deducting a 20% fee for container/packaging charges associated with the digital downloads (although there are none), and reducing its payments by a further 50% “audiofile” deduction, yielding a payment to the Sony Music recording artist of approximately 4 1/2 cents per digital download.

To give Sony the benefit of the doubt, maybe all those “download boxes” and “damaged” audio files just got lost in an imaginary warehouse where they keep the leprechauns and fairies and the master tapes for Chinese Democracy.

Emerald City Soul Club

posted by on May 13 at 1:16 PM


Tonight one of my favorite retro-centric DJs, the inimitable Mike Nipper, spins, along with his knowledgeable crew of 45 aficionados (Kevin Jones, Gene Balk, the Soulcial) at one of my favorite Seattle spots, Lo_Fi Performance Gallery. These Emerald City Soul Club cats dig deep into the funk/soul well to bring you the choicest cuts. Even Stranger news editor Josh Feit is down with their selections. Highest recommendation, indeed.

Riskier Business

posted by on May 13 at 12:24 PM

All respect due to Riff Market, Nick Sylvester’s mind-bendingly hilarious music blog for posting this yesterday. It’s the most entrancing thing I’ve seen since they stopped making those “magic eye” posters…

Enjoy!

Robbie Fulks on “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp”

posted by on May 13 at 10:26 AM

Going to see one of the special screenings of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp at NWFF this weekend? Here’s a little extra treat: When I wrote this week’s Border Radio column about Danny Barnes and Robbie Fulks scoring and accompanying the 1926 silent film, only the former got back to me by press time. So, to amuse and delight Fulks fans, and to justify the great man’s time and thought, here—just beyond the cut—are Robbie’s (belated) replies to the same questions. (Sorry Robbie is “yelling,” but he e-mailed his answers back in all-caps.)

Continue reading "Robbie Fulks on "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp"" »

Southbound Head Like a Kite - Abdullah the Butcher, in the Observatory, with the 808

posted by on May 13 at 3:15 AM

4:00 am, outside Salem, OR. Albany. Full moon, must stay awake, I’m driving.

My name is Trent. I drum for Head Like a Kite. Head Like a Kite is a band, a two piece. Indie electronics using sounds and sights of super 8 movies. We’re on a tour down the west coast, to San Diego and back. I’m going to be posting here, Line Out, reporting back from the lull gnawing road of Tourland. Strawberry Yahoo helps down the hours in a van. So do fantasies of knowing how to breakdance.

Sounds of Japanese DJ, Cornelius, pad my vertebrae as I become scroll eyed and make the window orange.

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Played Portland last night. Place called The Towne Lounge.

The guitar player and the bassist from the opening band, Junkface, ended up wrestling each other around on the floor. They totally went at it. On top of their instruments. All tangled up in their chords and mic stands, screaming. A candle fell on them off a table they hit. Someone spit on them. They were wearing all white. Even white ties. A combination Butthole Surfers, Dead Milkmen, WWF. People were walking into the club and these two guys in white were on the floor yelling and rolling around on each other. They were on some sort of hallucinogen. They were pained in that way. One of them was yelling something about Telemachus and Ithaca. “Sacker of cities, slayer of Zeus.” That’s Homer’s Odyssey. The guitar player was much bigger than the bass player and completely dominated him.

As a kid in Atlanta, I watched wrestling on TV. They filmed it at a high school gym, before WWF was big. Fourteen people in the audience. One of the wrestlers was “Abdullah the Butcher.’ They would lead him out on a leash and he would eat the padding out of turnbuckle. He was obese. He was a world champion. In Lithonia, Georgia.

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It’s Juno keyboard, to SPDS drum pads, to KD8 kick pedal, to midi interface, to Ableton Live laptop. There are too many inputs. It’s too dark on the stage to see where I’m supposed to set up but there’s a goth chick with a pen light. Real goth. She says I can use the light if I play her in the house Clue game after the set. You know, Clue, like Professor Plum, in the observatory, with the lead pipe. I needed the light and lost at Clue. It wasn’t Professor Plum.

It came time for Head Like a Kite to play at Towne Lounge and there were no microphones. Someone in one of the other bands took the microphones when they finished. So we had an instrumental set. Looped the electric drums with analogue filters and took it into cookie snake pimp orbit. Love the loops. Invert the beat. Phaser divisibility. I tried to wrestle Dave and scream Odyssey quotes, but it didn’t work.

Got to the hotel and there’s an “Adult Shop’ across the street. Right off the highway. Always makes me feel better when there’s an Adult Shop close, in the middle of nowhere. Gotta get some sleep. Tomorrow the road. Sacramento. Sleep now. Feel like I’m still driving.

trent

(pictures by Marlon Schaeffer)


Friday, May 12, 2006

Fourcolorzack on the Internet Radio Thingy

posted by on May 12 at 4:25 PM

Rising Seattle DJ Fourcolorzack (of Death of the Party) is now streaming live on eastvillageradio.com. This is a big fuggin’ deal. Check it out.

Rocka Rolla Regrets

posted by on May 12 at 4:16 PM

In my column this week, I implied that I purchased the new issue of Bitch, a CD by underrated Bay Area punks Crime, and a pin emblazoned with the logo of equally underrated Bronx-based band ESG at Rainy Day Records in Olympia. I subsequently received an email from local Jive Time Records employee RJ, who kindly informed me that while I may have bought Crime at Rainy Day, I couldn’t have bought the pin there because they are made by Jive Time and sold exclusively to Easy Street Records in Seattle and Phantom City Records in Olympia. RJ is right, and in fact BOTH the CD and the pin were purchased at Phantom City Records. The only thing I bought at Rainy Day was a R. Crumb postcard and that issue of Bitch. Apologies to Phantom City Records, who I’m guessing often live in the shadow of Rainy Day. I regret the error. Here is the fabulous pin on my purse (click the photo for a closer view), along with flair depicting George Harrison, Dios Malos, the Cops, Randy Rhoads, Mclusky, Dusty Springfield, a bunny, Black Eyes and Neckties, Girlschool, and of course, Dan Savage’s “Impeach the Motherfucker Already” pin. Incidentally, the bag is made from the grill fabric from an old Fender guitar amp and was designed by local style queen Victoria Simons, who makes all sorts of lovely handbags.

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Sugar: It’s Very Clean

posted by on May 12 at 4:07 PM

So, as hinted in this post yesterday, I went to Sugar last night to check out the techno and electro promised by the new Muse night’s DJs, especially my sista Kristina Childs. Alas, fatigue overtook me before she hit the decks at 12:30, but Recess and Chompers did a solid job of making the old John Waters film on the idiot box above the bar tolerable.

Some Decibel festival folk (Sean Horton, Jerry Abstract) filtered into the club, mingling with the lesbians, gays, and a few curious hets. The crowd was pretty meager up until about 11:45 pm, with many potential patrons probably attending the Goldfrapp show. At Sugar, a few souls danced, but most simply drank (they pour stiff ones), chatted, watched that awful-looking Waters flick, and admired Sugar’s elegant layout and ultra-modern décor (someone accurately called it a cross between SeeSound and Neumo’s). The floors at this joint are cleaner than the plates at 4-star restaurants. Dunno about you, but for me, that is what clubbing is all about.

I asked Kristina if the tempo picked up once she commandeered the Technics, and she replied: “I had people dancing for a while, but they were pretty fickle. I’ve never had an on again-off again floor like that. It was pretty strange. I had fun, though, and got paid, so it made this morning’s hangover worthwhile. Sort of.”

Here’s hoping Sugar doesn’t give up too quickly on Muse, which has potential to broaden the usual gay club musical palette. Even if it does bring in more of those dreaded breeders.

Which Rock Show to Attend This Evening…

posted by on May 12 at 3:25 PM

…especially if you are Grant Brissey—but also because you have ears. Those Starlight Mints kids ain’t half bad either, and it’s their record release par-tay.

THE STARLIGHT MINTS, DIOS MALOS (Neumo’s) For reasons that escape me, normally astute Stranger contributor Grant Brissey chose to slam Dios Malos last time they came through town. We all make mistakes (hell, I once walked out of a Drive Like Jehu show before I knew what was good for me), but damn, dude. That band’s sophomore release was one of last year’s hidden treasures, evoking the Beach Boys’ latent gift for casting darker subject matter against a sunlit backdrop of sterling pop harmonics, but with a stoner-jam twist that made it all their own. What’s more, I’ve never heard a band reflect the genius of George Harrison’s stunning 1970 album All Things Must Pass with as much grace and guts as these California kids. Brissey: I love you, man, but you were way off base. Meet me tonight at the bar, say seven Hail Marys, and I might buy you a cocktail. HANNAH LEVIN

Circle of Fire at F.O.B.

posted by on May 12 at 2:57 PM

OK, I didn’t make it to the Uniting Souls thing last night. Instead, despite eating dinner a block away, I headed back to the Hill for F.O.B. at the Baltic Room. It was a little early when I arrived, but the music was already started and had already reached a groove (M’Chateau was dropping some great broken beat/downtempo gems). If you haven’t checked out the night, it’s well worth your time with a good mix of local and not-so-local talent (Jazzanova a couple of weeks ago, Foscil & Specs One last week, and Domu next week).

In any case the surprise of the evening wasn’t the music but the appearance of some of the ladies from Circle of Fire. The crowd was primarily upstairs and around the bar, so the pair of b-girls (eventually a trio) took over the dancefloor for a bit, practicing their moves. Neither they nor the audience made a big deal of it, and it all fit together into a very laid-back package. It had all the grace and athleticism of Soul City Mondays at the War Room but without the crowd, making it worth missing out on house music for the night. Maybe next week.

Speaking of Circle of Fire, here’s the rough edit of the trailer for their upcoming DVD.

More Thoughts on Packaging

posted by on May 12 at 2:14 PM

Several people have weighed in with good comments about the relevance of packaging:

Levislade sez:

Ideally It’s another way to get to know the artist, another extension of them. Sometimes I literally smack my forehead at the crappy packaging I see put out by good bands. I’m a very visual, tactile person, though, so it’s all of a piece for me.

and Ali Marcus sez:

Packaging is not just a complement to the music, it is an integral component to the listening experience. If you expand the notion of listening to include not just what you hear but how you hear it and why you hear it, the cover art and liner notes are key.

I do think there’s a distinction to be made here between music as a packaged retail object and the overall experience of music — where we enjoy it, why we listen, how it fits into our lives.

More on this after the jump.

Continue reading "More Thoughts on Packaging" »

Underworld Phones It In

posted by on May 12 at 12:50 PM

Underworld have been on a weird kick lately, not doing another album but instead self-releasing their material along with photo galleries and other digital goodies. (Hey, it’s packaging!) They’re gearing up for the third installment of their Riverrun series, and in the meantime they’re doing a live radio show / set / talky thing from their studio this Saturday at 2pm Pacific.

Focusing on digital releases (with digital cover art) and Webcasting is a pretty bold move for an act that could easily just tour the hell out of their solid back catalog instead. It’s also cool since it connects with the guy’s day jobs as arty multimedia types.

Check out their site for the details.

ABC at Fenix Underground

posted by on May 12 at 11:55 AM

I would have never found out about this show (does the Fenix advertise?) if a friend hadn’t told me about it at last nights Goldfrapp show.

ABC at the Fenix Underground, Saturday, May 20


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Reunioin tours are usually not that appetizing, but I have to say, I’m a little excited about this one!

I might just have to go down to Pioneer Square!

Does anyone else out there have fond memories of doing dramatic dance interpretations of Poison Arrow in their bedroom at 10 years old? Or the sound of Martin Fry’s sly voice announcing his presence in How To Be A Zillionaire?

My name is Martin Fry. F.R.Y.

The Rentals Return! Again!

posted by on May 12 at 11:00 AM

Pitchfork blows the whistle today on what faithful fans of Matt Sharp and The Rentals have known for a while now:

The Rentals have Returned!

The band quietly launched a new website sometime last year promising a full working return of the band, complete with new material and touring. Now, they’ve announced a handfull of live dates and plans for a world tour. Los Angelinos and Japaninos, get ready to rock!

7-02 Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
7-07 Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theatre
7-16 Yokohama, Japan - Yokohama Arena (Nano Mugen Festival)
7-17 Yokohama, Japan - Yokohama Arena (Nano Mugen Festival)

Sharp says the band plans to play “a limited amount of shows in the U.S. We’re not going to cover the whole thing, but we’re probably going to do the major markets.” As for new material, the band is currently at work remastering the arrangements of their two existing ablums, Return of The Rentals and , and they’ll begin working on new material after the world tour.

Many derided The Rentals as just a Weezer side project or a novelty, but a listen to either their flawless first album or their more ambitious (and uneven) second proves that they’re more than that. Their lush string and analogue synth arrangements and perfect pop sensibilites make Weezer sound positively simple by comparison (and that’s if we’re talking Pinkerton era Weezer, don’t even get me started on anything they did after that).

A Rose From the Mouth of Matmos

posted by on May 12 at 2:50 AM

Let me just tell you… Matmos’s May 9th release, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast, is gorgeous. Total genius. I’m buying it tomorrow. That means I won’t have money left over for groceries. That’s how good it is. ‘nuff said.

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But here’s some eloquent elaboration from The Stranger’s Nicholas Scholl.

And tracklisting from Matador:

1. Roses and Teeth for Ludwig Wittgenstein
(conceptual musique concrete)
2. Steam and Sequins for Larry Levan
(mutant disco)
3. Tract for Valerie Solanas
(booty bass)
4. Public Sex for Boyd McDonald
(porn funk)
5. Semen Song for James Bidgood
(weepy elegy)
6. Snails and Lasers for Patricia Highsmith
(jazz noir)
7. Germs Burn for Darby Crash
(power electronics)
8. Solo Buttons for Joe Meek
(surf twang)
9. Rag for William S. Burroughs
(Arabic ragtime psychedelia)
10. Banquet for King Ludwig II of Bavaria
(Wagnerian slapstick)

Miss Felt Mountain? Try 1970s Italian Cinema

posted by on May 12 at 2:06 AM

Is there anyone else out there who misses the sleek, sexy paranoia of Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain and wishes the band would revert from their current hyper-tetchy disco guise back to the old days of twilight-zoning out? I certainly do. I miss Felt Mountain’s surreal instrumental soundscapes and Alison Goldfrapp’s downright eerie yodeling and whistling. I miss that twisted croon, too. Black Cherry and Supernature just don’t do it for me. It seems like all the aforementioned elements that I loved most have faded from Goldfrapp’s repertoire. Am I wrong?

Their performance tonight (which I did not attend) got me thinking about how much I want that sound to return. And because I’m somewhat obsessive, I found myself scouring the internet in search of something comparable. A couple hours of fruitless effort later and I was ready to give up” until I found Ennio Morricone.

Continue reading "Miss Felt Mountain? Try 1970s Italian Cinema" »

Goldfrapp-er’s delight

posted by on May 12 at 12:24 AM

Did you blow off the Goldfrapp gig at the Showbox for fear the UK electro-rock ensemble might disappoint live? Ooh, bad call. The band was dressed (and occasionally played) like the love children of Add N to X and ELP, the light show was pure late-’70s Top of the Pops/Old Grey Whistle Test but with the wattage cranked waaaay up, and frontwoman Alison Goldfrapp sounded a-mazing. Amidst the luscious production of Goldfrapp’s increasingly excellent CDs, it’s easy to sometimes overlook what an awesome singer she is; tonight, from the operatic coda of the opening “Utopia,” to the platform boot-stomping finale, “Strict Machine,” she did not let the audience forget her formidable talents for a second. (Plus she occasionally throws in this wide-eyed vocal hiccup that is totally Kate Bush.) Want to talk about serving up some drama? This is who should record the theme for the next James Bond flick (despite rumors the gig is going to Tina Turner, or possibly my beloved Robbie Williams). Plus, girlfriend had electric fans strategically positioned to blow her hair back, a la Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons circa 1983. And just when you thought the evening couldn’t get any gayer (without the band busting into their cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical,” which, sadly, they did not), DJ Darek Mazzone decided to send the sold-out crowd home to the strains of… “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Still Sportin’ A Beanie

posted by on May 11 at 5:56 PM

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Seeing Cube a couple weeks ago made me reminisce on something close to my heart- namely, that good ol’ pre-Chronic LA rap. Cube, NWA, the DOC, ATL, CMW, King Tee, Ice-T & the Rhyme Syndicate, Kam, Low Profile. Funky, dusty sample-based production, with rhymes ranging from the insightful to the assaultive.

Low Profile’s MC Willie Calhoun was that night serving as O’Shea’s hype man. As he (backed by DJ Crazy Toones) performed a cut from his most recent solo Ghetto Heisman, I wished he and Toones would just cut the shit and launch into a joint from back when they (plus a pre-Pfeiffer Coolio) were known better as WC & The Maad Circle.

While Low Profile’s We’re In This Thing Together was undeniable, WC had a certifiable classic with the Maad Circle’s ‘91 debut Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed. Not as pissed or inflammatory as Cube, WC presented the laid-back perspective of an average cat on the LA streets- dealing with police, jail bids, sometimey females and posers. While he didn’t suffer fools or busters gladly, WC didn’t call women ‘bitches’, he didn’t kill a gang of mufuckas (tho he warned he was ‘still down to bust a cap’), and he didn’t glorify street life or prison.

But I don’t bang, y’all, so what can I say/ I’m just a funky rapper from around the way… Maad Circle’s “Out On A Furlough”(1991)

Fuck hidin’ it, I’m gang-related simple & plain… Westside Connection’s “Bow Down”(1996)

A lot can change in just 5 years. Now Dub-C plays the role of hardened OG, bragging on his G stripes, C-Walking, and coming up with entertaining twists on the word ‘nigga’ (i.e., neeya). The first Westside Connection LP was fun as fuck, but it definitely wasn’t WC or Cube at the height of their creativity. The second one was an insult to the Westside they claim to defend, its lazy rhymes almost eclipsed in their lameness by the garbage production. Now it seems the great WC is little more than the barrier between Cube and his next ass-beating from Threat. I’d call him a weed carrier but it’s doubtful that a square bear like Cube even smokes these days.

Free House Music

posted by on May 11 at 5:45 PM

Uniting Souls has a new weekly down in Belltown. I went by the first week they held it and was underwhelmed, which can be blamed largely on the venue still needing some work. Tonight they’ll get a second chance, since the lineup of “founding fathers of Seattle’s house scene” is pretty strong. Plus, it’s free and right near Shorty’s.

THURS MAY 11 - Housepitality @ Ximaica Cafe Free party with the founding fathers of Seattle’s house scene - WESLEY HOLMES, BRENT LAURENCE & PAPPA T. $3 wells, FREE (no cover). Come on by & kick it with us for some deep house goodness! Music starts at 9pm. Address : 2224 2nd Ave (on 2nd Ave bet Bell & Blanchard), Belltown, Seattle.

Help Cast a Reality TV Music Show

posted by on May 11 at 4:43 PM

Bert Klasey, casting director for a forthcoming reality TV show on ABC, is seeking unknown singers to appear on the program. He’s in Seattle Thursday through Saturday and hoping to catch some talent in the flesh.

Read his email below and respond in the comments (and email him directly, if you wish) if you have any suggestions for hot vocalists he should check out (or let him know if you are that vocalist).

I am a casting director for a new show on ABC that is for now entitled “The ABC Music Project” (obviously only the working title!) and I’m trying to find some local talent to check out over the next couple of days. I was thumbing through your paper and since I’m on a relatively short timetable and I don’t know who’s worth listening to and who isn’t - I was hoping you may be able to point me in the direction of a cool show or two. We’re only looking for singers at this point, and talented ones at that, so if you know of a shitty band with a great frontman, I’d be all over it.

Bert Klasey
Casting Director
ABC’s Music Project
bklasey@gmail.com
www.abcmusicproject.com

The Dolly Quest

posted by on May 11 at 3:04 PM

My Friend Jason was in town a few weeks ago and i took him to my favorite record store, Bop Street Records. He ended up dropping about $500. Ike and Tina Turner made up a big chunk of his purchases, as did vintage Elton John, but by far the largest chunk of vinyl was a huge stack of Dolly Parton records from her years at RCA in the 70’s and 80’s.

I promised him I’d ship everything to him in NYC, except for the Dolly records, which I wanted to upload to my computer first, and burn onto cds. Why? ‘Cause much of Dolly’s RCA output is completely out of print!

I’ve deccided to start in the 80’s with her first album of that decade, Dolly Dolly Dolly.

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If you asked me, Tripl D, as I call it, is a lackluster effort. Without a single self-penned song on the album, it just isn’t Dolly-ish enough. It’s full of famous pop sessions players, most notably Jeff Porcaro of ToTo and producer/arranger Nick Decaro who was made famous by his A&M work with the likes of CLaudine Longet.

The two song where Dolly seems to come to life are the slightly caribbean flavored Sweet Agony, and the country rocker Packin’ It Up. But with too many soulless slow jams, I’d definately give this one a 4 out of 10. However, this album did reach #7 on the country charts and #71 on the pop charts. Crazy.

Next up is Heartbreak Express.

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I couldn’t find much charting info on this one, but it does appear to have reached #106 on the Pop charts. I can’t believe that. ‘Cause this album is so much better! Most of the album, with the exception of 2 songs, Single Women and a texas two step cover of Eddy Arnold’s hit Release Me.

Single Women her poem to the Mr. Goodbar era this album came out in has some classic lines in it, like:

And it’s gettin’ near to closin’/ And the seconds pass like years/ Lots of friends to share the laughter/ Not a one to share the tears/ And you wish they’d change the jukebox/ ‘Cause you know every song it plays/ Can I drop you off at my place? What’s the matter, are you gay?

My favorite is the weeper, Hollywood Potters, that closes the album.

I’m not sure why this album didn’t do better, Heartbreak Express is more “Dolly” at it’s core than Triple D. I’d give it a 7 out of 10.

Of note: In 1980 Dolly actually released 3 seperate albums. Along with Triple D she also released a reunion album with Porter Wagoner called Porter and Dolly and the MUCH more popular, Grammy winning and Oscar nominated, 9 To 5 And Other Odd Jobs.


Muse at Sugar

posted by on May 11 at 2:36 PM

Tonight a new monthly launches at Sugar, the gay club on Pike between Broadway and 10th, across the street from Platinum (I always use record shops as landmarks, if at all possible). Called Muse, this night happens every second Thursday and promises to upgrade considerably the quality of music played there (what I’ve heard so far coming out of Sugar hasn’t impressed at all, but I’m a 44-year-old straight guy; your mileage may vary). On the decks will be Chompers (Comeback), St. J. Paul (Fascinator), DJ Recess (Simply Shameless), and Kristina Childs (Decibel, Krakt, Plasmodium).

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Ms. Childs says, “Tonight I’ll be playing techno, electro and pseudo-electroclash. Trentemoller, Miss Kittin & The Hacker, Green Velvet, Silicon Scally, Black Strobe, Audion, Alter Ego, and a Fischerspooner remix. It’ll be peak-hour stuff.”

Looks like I’m going to a gay bar tonight. Damn.

The Burial Begins

posted by on May 11 at 1:18 PM

On Thermostat is this wonderful review of the man of the moment in global music, Burial.

Burial - Burial (Hyperdub) Published by Seb April 16th, 2006 in Reviews Issue #14 Kode9’s Hyperdub label can seemingly do no wrong. Arriving in the mail last week was the first full length album release on the label, coming from the rather mysterious figure of Burial. Apparently put together entirely without sequencers and just using the wave editor software Sound Forge it is the missing link between early dubstep and late era garage and the new futuristic half speed dubstep of labels/production crews like DMZ. It is records like this that remind me of the radical potential of simplicity and making the most of minimal technology. Featuring a few tracks from the South London Boroughs 12” of last year, the album takes those ideas further ending up sounding as much like early dubstep/2-step producers like El-B as Maurizio and the other early Berlin Basic Channel/Chain Reaction sound. In Burial’s beats there is a swing that has disappeared from the newer dubstep sounds, but as they are produced unsequenced they move in and out of time, and they sound muffled and sad. This atmosphere of bleakness and grey skies overshadows the whole album, giving every track a mournful quality “ tracks like You Hurt Me should be energetic with bass drops and jittery beats but end up sounding contemplative and melancholic. Most tracks revolve around a simple motif or vocal sample and instead of being packed full of sound they echo with space, emptiness - a simplicity akin to that of early jungle then the result of technological limitations, but now a radical voluntary aesthetic. The hiss and crackle that permeates everything sounds alternately like rain, mist, fog, pirate radio static, tape hiss, and old vinyl all together, adding another layer “ much like those first Basic Channel records that really emphasised the sense of loss and lack. This is an amazing album and even though in the Southern Hemisphere we are far from the internalised grey skies “no futurism’ of London it is perfect for our impending winter.

Burial is the dub of my soul.

Best. Show. Ever?

posted by on May 11 at 11:59 AM

This morning I’ve been thinking about what makes for a great live show, that certain interaction of band, crowd, place, and time that elevates a regular concet into a transcendent experience. Maybe I’ll come up with a Unified Theory after some coffee, but for now here’s a list of some of my all time favorite shows:

Lightning Bolt @ No Space Gallery.

I watched this show from a tree! Lightning Bolt set up on the street out front of the No Space because, well, there was no space in the tiny gallery for the huge crowd that showed up. They blocked the street, fuck the traffic, and when a half dozen police cruisers showed up the band just kept playing. Three songs later, they packed it up and the cops halfheartedly told kids to get on the sidewalk. No one even got busted for anything. Amazing.

—-

Les Savy Fav @ Neumos.

Tim Harrington is a big, bald, bearded genius. A Bricks-stuffed-in-his underpants, money-chewed-up-in-his-mouth, clothes-stripped-off, impromptu-catwalk-building genius.

—-

Japanther @ The Punkin House.

They make me believe in punk rock again, like a virgin touched for the very first time.

—-


So what are some of your favorite shows and why?

The Trainwreck Machine

posted by on May 11 at 11:20 AM

A while back someone slipped me this flyer for an innovative new piece of DJ gear, and I can’t decide whether these people are for real:

therake_flyer.jpg

(Apologies for the folding, it’s been at the bottom of my desk for weeks.)

The Rake is a two-cartridge headshell for your turntable. Basically it means that you can play two separate parts of the same record simultaneously. But it’s designed so you don’t really get to choose which part the second needle will play. You get the part you want, then the part a couple minutes after that on top of it.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Without The Rake, your hot traxx would sound like this.

With The Rake, your hot traxx would sound like this.

How fuckin’ cool is that??!?!?! (OK, some of you might actually find that cool.)

I checked out their Web site and the only way I can find out if this is indeed for real is to buy one. Which makes me think they’re not for real. Or are they?

Da Vinci Code Soundtrack Rattles the Rugrats

posted by on May 11 at 11:04 AM

Part of me appreciates the fact that this recognizes the emotional impact of a film’s score, but another part of me thinks it’s just studio-generated controversy.

Kane Hodder Commotion

posted by on May 11 at 1:50 AM

The past week has brought some turbulent times for our Kane Hodder boys. Last weekend, the band unexpectedly cancelled their handful of shows with Boy Sets Fire (including the Seattle date on the 6th at El Corazon), and rumors started flying all around town and the internet about a possible split. Oh no!

The truth is, Kane Hodder hasn’t broken up. But, bassist Nick Cates and guitarist Jeremy White have left the band. And while that news did leave Hodder’s future looking a little shaky for a few days, after much (nail-biting) consideration, the remaining members—Andrew Moore, Eric Christianson, and Charley Potter—have decided to keep Kane Hodder going. Eric officially posted the news on their Myspace page late Wednesday night, saying:

“After a few days of trying to figure out what we wanted to do, we’ve decided to move ahead and keep the band going. We love doing it way too much to let it die. We’ve lined up some friends of ours to take their place in the mean time, and we’re going to continue writing and preparing our next record.”

No official word on who will take the place of the recently departed members.

As for that new material they’re currently working on, I have heard some of the early demos of songs the band recorded a month or so ago, and they’re unbelievable. Whistling, handclaps, spontaneous breakdowns… the band is really taking their courageous “hardcore colliding with pop” song structures to a whole new level while keeping things fun and completely danceable.

And as for Jeremy and Nick, while Nick is still unsure about what direction he’s going to go musically, he will most definitely continue to do the War of Attrition podcast with Jonah Bergman of Schoolyard Heroes. And Jeremy is already working on a new project, Alligator, with former members of Arper.

All you Hodder fans can reminisce a little bit by reading the feature I wrote about the band back in 2004. Awe… good times were had while researching that piece. Middle-of-the-night basketball games in Montana, Face to Face sing-a-longs while driving through Eastern Washington, and more terrible jokes than you can shake a stick at.

Here’s to a bright future for all those involved.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Tale of Two Sinatras

posted by on May 10 at 9:43 PM

First, the really cool news: Nancy Sinatra is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Now, the really, really bad news: Bolton Swings Sinatra to be released May 23.

I’m Glad I Don’t Manage Rock Bands Anymore

posted by on May 10 at 4:56 PM

Though I’d like to think I’d never make this unfortunate choice and receive this sentence. Frankly, it seems like the violent loss of that many lives warrants a significantly longer sentence.

Re: I see guys and girls dancin’.

posted by on May 10 at 3:51 PM

Megan, “Doowutchyalike” has some fine lyrics, but the best Digital Underground lines ever are from “The Humpy Dance”:

“I get stupid. I shoot an arrow like cupid. I’ll use a word that don’t mean nothin’ like luptid.”

Genius.

Is The Weekly’s Cover Too White?

posted by on May 10 at 3:00 PM

I’m trying to figure this out. The Divorce, a white rock band, is on the cover of the Seattle Weekly’s music awards issue, which can only mean The Divorce got the most votes from the paper’s readers. But look inside and it’s the Blue Scholars, a hiphop duo, that actually won the “top vote getters overall,” not the The Divorce—they won the most “pop/rock” votes. So what does this mean? I called Blue Scholars, who are on tour in California, and explained the odd situation.

DJ Sabzi, who is Iranian American: “That’s very interesting.”

MC Geologic, who is Asian American: “I’m not surprised, that’s how they treat hiphop. They are always privileging rock over rap.”

Blue Scholars promise to take a deeper look into this matter.

Caro Remixes the Juan Maclean

posted by on May 10 at 2:54 PM

Seattle tech-house savant Caro (AKA Randy Jones) has remixed DFA Records artist the Juan Maclean’s “Love Is in the Air.” Because you’re special, I’m presenting a link to the remix for you. Have at it, my lovelies.

data-22523.jpeg

Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival

posted by on May 10 at 2:22 PM

With all the talk of festivals here on Lineout, it seems proper to mention that locals SunTzu Sound are going to be playing this year’s iteration of the DEMF Memorial Day Weekend. After all of the annual stress over whether the event was going to happen, it’s on once again, with them acting as our Seattle ambassadors in front of fifty thousand festival goers. Congrats to them for the festival slot. As you can see by the lineup below, they’re in really good company.

LINE UP AS OF MONDAY 5-8-06

Adam Beyer
Adam Marshall - live
Adam X “ live
Ark - live
Bluetech - live
Carl Craig
Collabs Tour (Speedy J / Chris Liebing) “ live
Dandy Jack & the Junction SM - live
Daniel Bell
Deadbeat “ live
Derrick May
Donald Glaude
Insideout “ live + dj
James Holden
Jay Haze
John Acquaviva - introducing Dan Diamond
Josh Wink
Krikor “ live
Kooky Scientist - live
Le Petit Orb “ live
Mike Clark
Neil Landstrumm “ live
Nitzer Ebb - live
Pantytec - live
Pascal F.E.O.S.
Pepo Lanzoni
Photek
Rob Acid Live
Robert Hood “ live + dj
Ron Trent
Someone Else - live
The Cynic
The Planet of the Drums Tour 2006 - Featuring:
(AK1200, Dara, Dieselboy & MC Messinian)
Tortured Soul - live

Continue reading "Movement: Detroit's Electronic Music Festival" »

I see guys and girls dancin’.

posted by on May 10 at 12:26 PM

By no means am I a Digital Underground aficionado, but they are the group responsible for some of my all-time favorite lyrics… ever.

“Ladies, for once, forget you got class. If you see a guy you like, just grab him in the biscuits!”

You can hear the song, “Doowutchyalike,” here.

Also notable, Digital Underground play Chop Suey Saturday, May 13. Tickets are $15 adv.

Question of the Year (If Not the Decade)

posted by on May 10 at 10:32 AM

A drunk twentysomething woman approached Hank Guthrie from Book of Black Earth, who was DJing at Viceroy last night, and asked, “So, how do you know where to put the needle?” His response could not be discerned.

Your Other Favorite DJ/Blogger

posted by on May 10 at 9:34 AM

Should be this guy:

Jace Clayton aka DJ/Rupture publishes the blog Mudd Up! where he writes about music, politics, and culture with acerbic wit and scholarly insight. His posts range from the terrifyingly factual (geopolitics, peak oil) to the delightfully sureal, and he unearths music every bit as worldly and weird as his writing.

Does Packaging Matter?

posted by on May 10 at 9:33 AM

Continue reading "Does Packaging Matter?" »

Debbie does “Dirty & Deep”

posted by on May 10 at 7:18 AM

Blondie’s Deborah Harry has recorded a song in support of incarcerated rapper Lil’ Kim, entitled “Dirty & Deep.” Admittedly, the tune is no “Rapture.” Hell, it ain’t even “Backfired,” but it has a low-key charm. Download it for free here (scroll down to the entry for April 18) and marvel at the odd lyrical references to ancient Greek history and mythology. Perhaps Kim will take a cue from Debbie’s homage and call her next LP Black Aphrodite? Or at least spend sometime in the prison library figuring out what the fuck the Oracle at Delphi is, and why it gets a shout-out in a track about America’s favorite hip-hop jailbird.

Your Life in the Bush of Ghosts

posted by on May 10 at 1:38 AM

Brian Eno. David Byrne. Two phenomenal musicians and one phenomenal collaboration. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts was originally released in 1981. It has now been remastered and re-released with bonus tracks.

Bush of Ghosts with writing.jpg

But that’s not all. There is a brilliant experiment afoot. Read:

In keeping with the spirit of the original album, Brian and David are offering for download all the multitracks on two of the songs. Through signing up to the user license, and in line with Creative Commons licenses, you are free to edit, remix, sample and mutilate these tracks however you like. Add them to your own song or create a new one. This is the first time complete and total access to original tracks with remix and sampling possibilities have been officially offered on line. Visitors are welcome to post their mixes or songs that incorporate these audio files on the site for others to hear and rate.

The remix site is easy to navigate and is visually appealing. Check it out for yourself here. Download and actively collaborate with two aural legends. What an amazing opportunity.


Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Three 6 Mafia Sweep Seattle Weekly Music Awards!

posted by on May 9 at 11:42 PM

I just got back from the Seattle Weekly music awards at that undisputed hub of Seattle’s music scene, The Fenix in Pioneer Square.

I showed up too late to pick up my own award (best DJ, natch), but I did stick around to see the rest of the ceremony. If I had known the results would be up on the Seattle Weekly page by the time I got home I would’ve split way earlier. Let me just say that Reggie Watts can do more with only his voice and a sampler than most musicians could do with the London Philharmonic and that the powder blue tux will never go out of style.

***

Here’s who Seattle Weekly readers picked:

Hip-Hop/Top Vote Getters Overall: Blue Scholars

Americana/Folk/Country: Jesse Sykes

Best New Artist: Common Market

Blues: Alice Stuart

DJ/Turntablist: DJ Fucking in the Streets

Electronica: United State of Electronica

Jazz/Experimental: The Dead Science

Guitarist: Leif Andersen (of Vendetta Red)

Metal/Hard Rock: Kinski

Indie/Garage: Minus the Bear

Lifetime Achievement: Jack Endino

Punk/Hardcore: These Arms Are Snakes

Singer-Songwriter: Rocky Votolato

Soul/R&B: Altered States of Funk

World/Reggae: Clinton Fearon and Boogie Brown Band

Vocalist: Geologic (of Blue Scholars)

Percussionist: Ben Hooker (Of Visqueen)

***

Who do you think should’ve won for in these categories?

R.I.P. Grant McLennan

posted by on May 9 at 8:31 PM

Grant McLennan, founding member of one of Australia’s finest bands ever, The Go-Betweens, passed away in his sleep on Saturday, May 6, age 48. In the words of Slog Forums regular fnarf, “with Robert Forster, [Grant] was the sweeter half of the best songwriting partnership since Lennon-McCartney.” For extended obitiuaries, visit the memorial message posted on the site for the Go-Betweens’ most recent U.S. label, Yep Roc, or check out this thoughtful homage from The Australian. I had the pleasure of meeting Grant (who looked like a much cuter version of Bob Hoskins) several times during his career, while promoting his work with the Go-Betweens, as a solo artist, and during his collaboration with Steve Kilbey of the Church as Jack Frost. He was a very charming man—as Stranger scribe David Schmader learned when he spoke with Grant last year. In light of his passing, the final quote in David’s piece seems especially poignant.

What Does Minimal Techno from Argentina Sound Like?

posted by on May 9 at 5:50 PM

Find out tonight at the Baltic Room where Seattle’s finest techno weekly event, Oscillate, goes down. Argentinean producer Barem (who records for foundsound records) will be bringing the humid South American beats. He’ll be supported by local laptopper Ronin (G. Sachio Crowe), who “melds thick hip hop flavored beats with hi-resolution computer production to create glitch-heavy soundscapes that are both danceable and intelligent without losing any of his signature sence of humor.”

Wooden Octopus Skull: A Preview

posted by on May 9 at 5:07 PM

Last year The Wooden Octopus Skull Experimental Musick pFestival debuted, giving Seattle-area (and beyond) noiseniks and lovers of anomic/atomic sound a four-day spectacle in which to indulge. The event drew noisicians from all over the globe; the turnout was phenomenal considering how uncompromising the lineups were.

We just received info for the 2006 edition of WOS, and we’ve bought a gross of Etymotic’s finest earplugs in preparation for it. It’s never too early to start getting psyched for this cochlea-shattering extravaganza. Here’s the press release, uncut.

Well it’s getting to be that time again….time for the old Wooden Octopus to rise from the murky depths of the Puget Sound and wreek havoc on the listening land dwellers…Here’s a peek at what’s in store…

PsychForm Records and Enterruption & the Electric Heavyland present:

The Wooden Octopus Skull Experimental Musick pFestival
Sept. 7th - 10th 2006, Seattle Washington

Thursday Sept. 7th ~Japanese New Music Festival featuring:
~Acid Mothers Temple SWR
~Ruins Alone
~Zubi Zuva
~Akaten
~Seikazoku
~Zoffy
~Shrinp Wark

Friday Sept. 8th ~ Ladies Night a.k.a. Girls Rule, Boys Drool!
~Replicock (Jakie of Smegma & Angie Sharkieface)
~Midmight (from Hans Grusel)
~Tolva Olsen (Dead Machines, Wooden Wand…)
~16 Bitch Pile Up
~M.V. Carbon (of Metalux)
~Leticia Castanede
~Dialing In
~Friends Forever

Saturday Sept. 9th ~ Surrealist Folk Night featuring:
~Chrystal Belle Scrodd (first ever live performance!)
~Irr. App. (Ext.)
~Waldteufal
~Amber Asylum (awaiting confirmation)

Sunday Sept 10th ~Overwhelming Noise Night! featuring:
~Wolf Eyes
~Dead Machines
~Double Leopards
~Cherry Point
~Hive Mind
~Yellow Swans

A Recent Exchange

posted by on May 9 at 5:06 PM

Hannah: “Charles, is Pete Moss the one you are writing about?”
Me: “No, it’s Pete Rock.”

Specs One Rocks The House Drunk As A Motha Fuck

posted by on May 9 at 3:39 PM

Last night at the Green Room, I watched the local rapper Specs One throw down a great show while toe up from the floor up by whiskey. That emcee is the drunken master. Specs One posted this comment on his myspace site:


word. i drank whiskey and rocked a show last night. four shots. it was called GRANDMA BROWN’S corn whiskey. i have to say it was my best drunk in years. just go to the WHISKEY BAR on 2nd ave and ask for the jar. shit’s real.
SPECS ONE

Linus Loves The Waterfall By 10CC

posted by on May 9 at 2:15 PM

One of the best new dance cd’s of the past 2 years, just now making waves in the states is Destroy Rock & Roll by Mylo. The first time I heard his, now classic, Drop The Pressure my jaw hit the floor. Brilliant.

On May 22nd Mylo’s label, Breastfed will be releasing a new cd by Mylo’s best friend Linus Loves, Stage Invader.

It’s a stunner, full of the same cheeky, clever sampling that made Destroy such a sensation.

My favorite song on the cd is the second track, Waterfall. The first time I heard it I wondered who was singing the slightly warble-y vocals? Obviously a woman, but whatever effect he was layering on top of them, it made her sound so fragile.

Listen to a sample of it here.

So I called a friend who helps run a club night in Glasgow, Scotland called Death Disco near where Mylo and Linus are from. They DJ the night on a regular basis, so I thought this friend might be able to tell me what’s up with the vocals on the track.

It turns out he had the same question for Linus and the answer is revealed below.

Listen to it here.

It is, literally, the 10CC original, from vinyl, played at 45rpm. Totally simple, and amazing. It completely transforms the song.

Check out more samples of Linus Loves, Stage Invader at his Website.

Mirah Appreciation Post.

posted by on May 9 at 1:39 PM

I love Mirah. Absolutely love her.

Does anyone else love Mirah?

I could write a long-winded post about how wonderful she is, but instead, you should just click here and listen one of my favorite Mirah songs “Cold Cold Water.” Better yet, get a copy of Advisory Committee (her best record, in my opinion) and hear that lovely tune as well as many other great songs… like “Mt. St. Helens,” another personal favorite.

Oh Mirah. Thank you.

She plays at the Tractor tomorrow night with Spectratone International (featuring members of Black Cat Orchestra), Evolutionary Jass Band, and the Toids. The 21+ show costs $8.

Lorelai, Kim and Coco Too

posted by on May 9 at 1:29 PM

Say what you will about Amy Sherman-Palladino’s recent resignation from Gilmore Girls, but I definitely plan on catching tonight’s season finale with a live performance from Sonic Youth. Full story and adorable photos on
Pitchfork.

On a related note, SY have confirmed a June 30th date at the Moore Theater and the Stranger will be running a review of their new CD, Rather Ripped, in an upcoming issue.

World Of Wild Beards Incorporated

posted by on May 9 at 12:21 PM

It took some time, but I finally came across a copy of the famed, final Neutral Milk Hotel performance recorded at the King’s Arms pub in Auckland, New Zealand. In 2001, at the beseech of Chris Knox from the Tall Dwarfs, Mangum agreed to one final NMH performance (done under the pseudonym, World of Wild Beards Inc.). The resulting recording is possibly the most endearing and poingant Mangum performance ever to grace tape (There are tons of bootlegs out there” the E6 site is a good place to start searching). Between sets he ruminates on his nervous breakdown, and in a way dispells some of the mystery behind his condition as well as the circumstances that brought about his reclusion. It’s interesting to contrast this performance with the commercially available Live At Jittery Joe’s, where a seemingly more starry-eyed (although still jaded) Mangum offers a very raw preface to the monumental In The Aeroplance Over The Sea. The King’s Arms performance re-introduces Mangum as a much more haggard soul, someone who despite his earnest searching will never find any comfort or answers. At Jittery Joe’s, I think Mangum held some hope that the forthcoming Aeroplane would help excorcise some demons. Damaged yet still utterly passionate about each song, with the King’s Arms performance, it sounds as if Mangum has kind of resigned to the fact that those demons will never leave. The performance offers some solice for concerned fans — it proves that at least in ‘01, Mangum was alive and well. Hopefully in a few more years, he’ll decided to surface again” if only for a few songs.

The quality of the recording is quite pristine and I’d like to help propagate it if anyone’s interested” Comment.

Vice’s Intonation Festival

posted by on May 9 at 11:44 AM

Virtually every summer music festival trumpets its “diverse” or “ecclectic” line-up, but the reality is that a mix of big-name draws and more obscure acts can often have as much (or more) to do with a promoter’s budgetary constrictions than an honest endeavour to create a truly unique blend of genres. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Chicago’s Intonation Festival, scheduled for June 24-25 in Union Park. The curators at Vice magazine have understandably included acts from their own label like Panthers, the Streets, and Bloc Party, but they’ve also taken care to book such seemingly disparate artists as Def Jam darling Lady Soverign next to the angular piano fetishists in 90 Day Men, along with scheduling a reunion appearance from metal midwives Blue Cheer and a rare performance by the often-evasive Roky Ericson. Someone really should send a Stranger staffer there to cover it (cough, cough).

Sasquatch Anticipation

posted by on May 9 at 11:11 AM

Who’s excited to see which acts at this year’s Sasquatch fest (May 26-28)? I’m particularly stoked about Jamie Lidell, and am curious to see if Beck still has any juice left.

You?


Monday, May 8, 2006

Does Muzak Still Suck?

posted by on May 8 at 8:25 PM

I, like many bloggers or not-quite-superstar DJs, have a day job. I have had to work many of them, and no matter what the nature of the work, the hardest part of any job is usually the music. I’ve come to realize that the background music at my place of employment is at least as important as the work I’m actually required to do. Almost all of my workplace conflicts have, in one way or another, revolved around what music was playing. Good music can make the dreariest tasks bearable; conversely, bad music can ruin even the most pleasant of occupations.

When I worked for a certain locally based multi-national coffee company (oblique, no?), we had an assortment of specially made 4-hour CDs to play over the sound system. The CDs had names like Big Band, Acid Jazz, and Contemporary Grind. This was the late 90’s so there was a lot more “swing” and “trip-hop” than any person should have to listen to. My salvation there was Contemporary Grind 4, which featured Tom Waits, Belle and Sebastian,Elliot Smith, The Cardigans, and Beck (Mutations era only, sadly there was no “Sexx Laws” at the corporate cafe). Unfortunately, even on that one tolerable disc, these artists were the exceptions in a sea of mediocre “coffee-house” crap.

Now I work at a non-corporate cafe, and the music comes via satellite radio. The station we’ve all agreed upon is an “80s alternative” station, and for the most part it’s okay. Every once in a while I’ll hear The Smiths or Pixies (once I even heard Sonic Youth! At my place of business!), but for the most part it’s a lot of 80s cheese and way too much Psychedelic Furs (I constantly feel like I’m Molly Ringwald, working after school to save up for prom).

So what do you think? Does muzak still suck? Have you found a way to curb mediocre music where you work?

Godsmack, Arthur Magazine and a Whole Lotta Vitriol

posted by on May 8 at 5:46 PM

Arthur Magazine editor Jay Babcock recently published the complete transcripts of his phone interview with Godsmack frontman Sully Erna. They didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the issue of bands selling their songs for use in military recruitment ads. In fact, Erna hung up on Babcock and left the room screaming, according to the band’s publicist.

Buckaroosters!

posted by on May 8 at 1:29 PM

This past Saturday night at the Tractor I saw the Buckaroosters (a Buck Owens tribute band) for the first timethey were so great! Their steel guitarist was amazing, the lead man played a mean guitar, and their rhythm guitarist was exceedingly handsome in a 1940s-actor kind of way. They’ll be playing again June 22 at the Little Red Hen, and I would highly recommend checking them out. They were a lot of fun and played classic country just the way it should sound. Whereas contemporary, commercial country is possibly the worst music ever made, I find the older stuff from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s to be complete bliss, so this night was like heaven to me.

Almost everybody at this show was dancing, and they were having a whole lot of fun. I can’t dance, and neither could anyone I was there with. I tried, but it didn’t work. I used to square dance back in San Francisco (anyone know anything about the monthly square dance in South Seattle?), but this wasn’t happening here. This was country cha cha/two-step/almost-swing dancing. It really looked fun.

So, my sister, my boyfriend, and I are going to the Little Red Hen to learn some country dancing. They’ve got free lessons Sundays and Thursdays at 8 pm (Monday nights they teach line dancing, which we will be avoiding). Anyone have any experience dancing at the Hen?

Global Warming Pop Music

posted by on May 8 at 11:57 AM

The Unicorns released one of my favoirte pop records, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, a few years ago and then (as they had foreseen!) they broke up. I love their record for the way it sneaks heavy lyrical matter into fluffy pop songs through recurring themes, symbols, and characters. “Ghost Mountain” turns a spooky camping trip into a rumination on failed imperialism, “Jellybones” examines human fragility, and “I Don’t Wanna Die” confronts possible death scenarios and the inevitability of the thing itself. Ghosts abound on this album, as do Death and The Sea, and they are each key players in the albums almost-narrative.

I could go on and on about this record (like, with footnotes), but The Unicorns are dead. (Long live The Unicorns!)

Reborn, they are Islands!

This new project from Nick Diamonds and J’aime Tambour picks up literally where The Unicorns left off. “I woke up thirsty on an island in the sea” from the The Unicorns coda becomes “I woke up thirsty the day I died” on “Swans (Life After Death)”, the sprawling opening track of Return To The Sea. “Humans,” a funeral march for the titular species, tells the imagined story of our civilization’s end time.

Things lighten up (musically and titularly, at least) with “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” and “Rough Gem.” The former tackles individual frailty in the form of osteoperosis (“bones, bones, brittle little bones/it’s not the milk you seek, it’s the sun you need”), while the latter takes a simple pun (his last name is Diamonds, get it) and turns it into the best jam on conflict diamonds as modern cultural sickness since Kanye West. There’s a fine instrumental track, and then there’s “Where There’s a Will (There’s a Whalebone)”, a good song interupted by an awkward, tacked on, and overly dense rap interlude featuring Subtitle and Busdriver, who seem totally lost here but who I’m told are usually quite good.

The albums centerpiece comes in the form of “Volcanoes,” another end-of-the-world number, all climate change and geological disruption set to an incongruously triumphant score. Things wind down with “If” and “Ones,” and an untitled bonus track. The latter two of these both sound like The Microphones in the best possible way.

I love this record. I love that there’s pop music for those of us who read Adbusters and are kind of freaked out all the time. I love hearing songs about dying and the end of the world that somehow make it seem like it will all be okay.

Be sure to go see them live at Neumo’s on May 10th. Brookyln Vegan has footage of a show they played recently in which the band led the crowd on a march around the block for their encore, and it looks like a pretty good time. (As an aside: Does all this post-world music and taking back of the streets remind anyone else of Tchkung?)

Yusef Lateef’s “Nubian Lady”

posted by on May 8 at 11:57 AM

I have a tendency to focus obsessively on one song for a few days at a time, during which no other music can interrupt the ceaseless loop of it running through my mind. Right now that song is Yusef Lateef’s “Nubian Lady.” I finally scored a vinyl copy of Lateef’s 1972 Atlantic LP Gentle Giantwhere the track in question residesat the Capitol Hill Jive Time (Rhino has reissued the album on CD, and you may also locate “Nubian Lady” on the Heavy Flute compilation on Label M).

What hooks me with “Nubian Lady” (which is written by Kenny Barron) is the utterly languorous and seductive flute motif Lateef blows out like a post-coital sighor maybe a love note expressed in calligraphic incense smoke. That, along with the wondrously lackadaisical funk rhythm and the Rhodes keyboard that burbles like whispered declarations of eternal lust, make “Nubian Lady” one of the sexiest chillout tracks imaginable. Whenever I need less stress in my life (which is basically 98 percent of the time), this piece always comes through.

Supernature. Not That Supernature. No, Not That One Either.

posted by on May 8 at 9:51 AM

Not to be confused with other Supernatures from Goldfrapp and Cerrone, Solenoid’s Supernature, out later this month on local techno powerhouse Orac, is a refreshing trip back to the familiar sounds and arrangements of early “90s “electronica” (cough) like Orbital, Speedy J or (Incunabula-era) Autechre, with a little bit of Italodisco flavor thrown in for good measure.

While a lot of techno is designed to be like Cameron Frye’s house — very beautiful and very cold, and you’re not allowed to touch anything — Supernature is comfy and welcoming. Post-ravers like me feel right at home with its slightly lived-in synths and drum machines, its familiar strings and chord progressions and its unfussy arrangements.

July’s War Butterflies is available now as a free MP3. Best enjoyed out in the backyard, with a strong cup of black coffee, taking in the fresh Cascadian air. Get that now, and save your pennies for the full-length when it comes out on May 22.


Sunday, May 7, 2006

Everybody Knows

posted by on May 7 at 4:58 PM

Leonard Cohen has the kind of voice that makes you want to get naked and wrap your legs around someone—preferably in a dank hotel room in some god-forsaken urban landscape somewhere.

The sleazy hotel-room scenario is part of his mystique, after all. He’s one of the greats who got their juices flowing in the “cauldron of creativity” known as The Hotel Chelsea. Others who have waxed legendary from these roots include Moondog, Bob Dylan, Nico, Janis Joplin and artists of other mediums like William S. Burroughs and R. Crumb. The artists who have staggered down the notorious New York hotel’s hallways all seem to have been imbued by its inherent grit and rebelliousness. No doubt ravaged by the dust mites of Chelsea Hotel mattresses, Cohen’s coarse-velvet voice and somber lyrics have entranced and inspired countless musicians.

People unfamiliar with the Cohen name immediately recognize “Everybody Knows,” off the 1977 album Death of a Ladies’ Man, in which Cohen’s hot coal of a voice coaxes licking flames out of even the most dormant of embers.

Since his Chelsea days, Cohen’s music has morphed from ragged acoustic folk-rock to synthed-up funk stylings to its current jazz incarnation, which I shrink from. Nevertheless, his late ’60s and ’70s stuff is just like honey: you have to get stung a little in order to taste its sweetness.

With that said, we can all get really excited about going to see the new Leonard Cohen documentary “I’m Your Man,” scheduled for release June 21, right? Wrong. Whose fault is that? It’s Bono’s fault.

Watch the film’s trailer here and you’ll see that the miserable mug of U2 ring-leader Bono gets almost as much airtime as Cohen’s. What I want to know is what the hell Bono is doing there in the first place. How on earth could U2 be even remotely associated with Cohen? I find this very disturbing. I will never understand how U2 continues to rake in millions with their washed-up, megalomaniacal cringe-fests.

On the film’s website, U2’s The Edge spits up trite biblical quotage like, “Cohen comes down from the mountaintop with the tablets of stone.” WTF is that?! And why is U2 placed above Nick Cave and Rufus Wainwright on the list of featured artists? This is obviously not an underground documentary about an underground great. It appears to be a very conventional, yuppified, red-velvet showcasing of a film.

It all makes me a little sad, but perhaps I need to get over it. Cohen isn’t writing downtrodden lyrics back at the Chelsea anymore.

R.I.P. Neptune Records

posted by on May 7 at 3:11 PM

One of America’s finest record stores, Neptune Records in Royal Oak, Michigan, has announced it is closing in late May. Why should you care? Because it signals the continuing trend of indie record shops folding in the wake of increased digital downloading (legal and otherwise), which has been eroding said shops’ bottom lines this decade. That, in addition to the Detroit area’s abysmal economy and other financial pressures, has forced Neptune owner Brett Marion to bow out of the precarious business of selling obscure music to a mostly indifferent public.

Neptune is the metro Detroit area’s equivalent of Wall of Sound, although it is bigger than that Seattle treasure: it carries a phenomenal selection of underground electronic music, psych rock, Kraut rock, dub, indie rock, out jazz, and select classic titles from the soul, funk, hiphop, African, reggae, tropicalia genres. Its extensive vinyl section catered well to DJs, and many of Ghostly International Records’ roster regularly scored their wax here.

Neptune’s staffwhich includes my brother (and occasional Stranger illustrator) Michaelis one of the most passionate, knowledgeable, and funniest I’ve encountered (if you knew how much time I’ve spent in record stores, you’d understand the magnitude of this praise). In its nine-year history, Neptune had become a kind of informal gathering place for heads to check out the latest haul of great tunes and to exchange knowledge and banter.

Over its last four weeks of business, Neptune is having a clearance sale. There are plenty of amazing deals to be had, so have a look. I realize record shops are closing like crazy nowadays and a lot of people are all “whatevs” about it, but this phenomenon is disturbing to analog/vinyl aficionados like me who enjoy chewing the fat with record-mad geeks and rifling through LPs instead of scrolling down computer screens for musical treasures.

Anyway, enough maudlin reflecting. Have fun downloading.

Speaking of Lalo Schifrin

posted by on May 7 at 7:39 AM

Yesterday I was geeking out about the LP jacket for the soundtrack of Murderers’ Row. Coincidentally, the score for that Dean Martin comedy was by legendary film composer Lalo Schifrin—and there is an interesting article in today’s New York Times about the influece of Mr. Schifrin’s score for the original TV show Mission: Impossible, and how it is reflected in the non-Schifrin music that accompanies the latest installment of the MI cinema franchise, complete with comments from Lalo himself.

Trans Am Transfusion

posted by on May 7 at 1:05 AM

So I was riding in my friend’s car tonight after having moped around all day in a gloomy state. General despondency all around. But then my friend, the genius, turns on her car stereo and this driving, riff-heavy, god-like music comes on and I’m like, “What the hell is this? I know this!” It was Trans Am’s “Motr” off Surrender to the Night (Thrill Jockey). I hadn’t heard it in forever and even then I hadn’t really let it sink in. It was so exactly what I needed. Nothing like a little Trans Am to put the Bad Ass back in your step.