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Archives for 12/10/2006 - 12/16/2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The sparkling, spangled Supremes

posted by on December 16 at 10:54 AM

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As the publicity tsunami for Dreamgirls continues, this morning’s New York Times weighs in with a fantastic Fashion & Style piece on the influential look of the original Supremes. In particular, I loved this quote from founding member — and Dreamgirl: My Life As A Supreme author — Mary Wilson:

“As Diane used to say,” she said, using Ms. Ross’s original first name, “and a lot of people got angry “I know a lot of little old ladies went blind beading those dresses.’ “

The article says Dreamgirls costume designer Sharen K. Davis was a member of a ’70s girl group herself, but I don’t recognize the name. Anybody know which ensemble she might have been a member of?


Friday, December 15, 2006

RE: One More Week For Scavengers….

posted by on December 15 at 7:04 PM

Took mister Nelson’s advice and took a trip down to Tower to see what was left. I’d been there earlier this month and got some sweet Don Cherry and Alice Coltrane discs, but I was shocked at the wealth of good music I found today at the nearly dessicated Tower Records in the U-District. I even passed on some decent albums— mostly mid ’90s mathrock like Sweep the Leg Johnny and Turing Machine.

My scores:
This Heat - s/t
Frog Eyes - The Bloody Hand
Bookmobile - Keys
Get Hustle - Rollin in the Ruins
Cloudland Canyon - Requiems der Natur 2002-2004
Scott Walker - The Drift
Yellow Swans - Psychic Secession

Dope Emporium

posted by on December 15 at 6:56 PM

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Last night’s Dope Emporium at CHAC proved to be a success, despite the rain and wind. Those who missed the show missed some of the best local hiphop performances of the year. Oldominion did a dynamite set and made it clear that they are still a force to be reckoned with, still a powerful pack of rappers, still got love for the streets. Abyssinian Creole threw down their humanist hiphop, and Dyme Def, who are produced by Bean One, dissolved any doubt that they have the goods to make a big impact on 2007. Dope Emporium has all that it needs to become an important venue for new hiphop. Let’s hope that Jace, the event’s primary organizer, keeps at it, keeps making it happen.

Charles Mudede and Kelly O interviewed Grynch, Silent Lambs Project, and the mighty D.Black. Check ‘em out.
(Also stay tuned for Larry Mizell’s interview with Specs One)

Bad Band Name of the Week

posted by on December 15 at 3:35 PM

PC Load Letter.

WTF?

You can check them out at the High Dive on December 23rd. If they are any good, tell them to change their name, please!

Sad & Groovy Friday

posted by on December 15 at 3:25 PM

I’m depressed. Our talented art director, Corianton Hale, is leaving. And the surface/transit option has been tabled by the governor.

But still, it’s Friday: Dig the important teenage sound:

Anything that you wanna do, anyplace that you wanna go
Don’t need permission for everything that you want
Any taste that you feel is right
Wear any clothes just as long as they’re bright
Say what you want, ‘cos this is a new art school
Do what you want if it takes your mind
Better do it now, ‘cos you won’t have time
And never worry if people laugh at you
The fools only laugh ‘cos they envy you
Time is motion and the hands are fast
Young words are mumbled, they don’t always last
It’s up to us to be sure they understand
Who makes the rules that make people select
Who is to judge that your ways are correct
The media as watchdog is absolute shit
The TV telling you what to think
Anything that you wanna do, anyplace that you wanna go
Don’t need permission for everything that you want
Any taste that you feel is right
Wear any clothes just as long as they’re bright
Say what you want,
‘cos this is a new art school

Sing Sing Leaves Havana

posted by on December 15 at 1:56 PM

That’s Clayton Vomero on the left.

Seattle’s gutterest ass shaking competition, Sing Sing, is leaving Havana after successful run as a Tuesday weekly to move up to two Fridays a month at Chop Suey, with plans to bring live acts in once a month. The move should happen early in the new year.

Tonight in Music

posted by on December 15 at 11:55 AM

What going on tonight? Well, I’ll tell ya!

Singles Going Steady turns 10!

These Arms Are Snakes and Akron/Family play Neumo’stwo bitchin’ bands for one bitchin’ price.

Gay Beast try not to scare you.

Also, Carly Nicklaus of the Catch proves she’s even better than Beyonce:

THE CATCH, WHITE GOLD, NO-FI SOUL REBELLION, PARIS SPLEEN
(Comet) Say her name! The Catch’s Carly Nicklaus is like Seattle’s Beyonce: a woman of magnitude that does it all. But Carly kicks Beyonce’s assshe lures you into the bedroom with shy, sly new-wave guitar hooks, then knocks you out with one swing of her pillow, much like a Go-Go Mike Tyson. Yet again, the Comet provides a night of complete, full-on pop and rock activity. Particularly notable is Mark Heimer of No-Fi Soul Rebellion, a frontman who will entertain the ever-living shit out of you, for he is the artist currently known (at least in my world) as White Prince. TRENT MOORMAN

Ponderosa Stomp returns to NOLA

posted by on December 15 at 10:38 AM

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After a year in exile (well, Memphis, TN — which is hardly a bad address), the Sixth Annual Ponderosa Stomp — the kickass festival that celebrates lesser-known luminaries of R&B, soul, early rock, and other American roots music — is returning to New Orleans in 2007. The date? May 2, 2007, and from 6 PM to 2 AM the House of Blues will showcase a killer talent line-up that includes…

Master arranger Wardell Quezergue and the New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Revue, soul songwriter supreme Dan Penn, rockabilly wild man Dale Hawkins, R&B soprano Little Jimmy Scott, Texas Tornado co-founder Augie Meyers, Stax sessions guitarist Skip Pitts, Gulf Coast guitar empress Barbara Lynn, Mardi Gras king Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Excello harp master Lazy Lester, keyboardist extraordinaire Willie Tee, President of soul Rockie Charles, hillbilly bopper Jay Chevalier, tough Texas shouter Roy Head, and rockabilly wailer Joe Clay, with more to come.

More details here. Wanna share a hotel room, Nipper?

One More Week for Tower Scavengers

posted by on December 15 at 10:17 AM

Here’s what $139.26 gets a motivated scavenger at the just-about-dead Tower Records on lower Queen Anne, where all records are 70% off, all hip-hop records are $1, and all DVDs are 60% off. Tons of local stuff (the slightly sad consequence of Tower’s having been a national chain that seemed inordinately committed to selling releases by local/regional artists among its vast catalog, perhaps to its detriment in the end) and a fair amount of weirdo imports remain.

Though I’ve been hearing rumors of its imminent dissolution for almost 10 years, the fact that Tower is actually closing does seem kind of sad. Still, I can’t get too emotional about the passing of a big chain like this, however much better it was than most of the others, and however much time I have spent in its aisles over the years (as a teenager in Nashville, I had almost no other optionsTower was my Sonic Boom/Easy Street/Scarecrow Video; that doesn’t make it Sonic Boom or Easy Street or Scarecrow, which is part of why I moved to Seattle to begin with…).

For more heartfelt ruminations on Tower’s collapse, read this piece by a soon-to-be-erstwhile TR (not Teddy Roosevelt) employee who is also a really smart, funny bloggournalist, and also this one, by the great Ann Powers (the best!), who references the very location whose bones I was picking just last night while the great storm of ought-six raged outside.

Now then:

Brand Nubian-Best of
Scritti Politti-The Boom Boom Bap (single)
Bonnie Prince Billy-Cursed Sleep (single)
Graham Coxon-You and I (import single)
Graham Coxon-Standing On My Own Again (import single)
Paul Williams-Someday Man (Japanese import)
Bob Dylan-Masked and Anonymous Soundtrack
Lee Hazlewood-The Cowboy and the Lady
V/A-Reaching For the Best Northern Soul compilation
Damien Jurado-Postcards and Audio Letters
King Kong-The Big Bang
Alan Price-A Price on His Head
People’s Choice-Golden Classics
V/A-Sur La Mer Samp-Le-Mer (5RC compilation)
Spoon-Loveways EP
Gary Reynolds and the Brides of Obscurity-Instant Happiness
Screaming Lord Sutch-Hands of Jack the Ripper
Sea of Love Soundtrack (notable for Tom Waits version of title song)
Thee Emergency-Can You Dig It?
Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands-Snake in the Radio (already own it, bought as a gift)
Psapp-Tiger, My Friend
Danielson-Ships
Steve Turner and His Bad Ideas-s/t
The Gossip-That’s Not What I Heard
Laura Veirs-The Triumphs and Travails of Orphan Mae
v/a-Angel of Ashes (Scott Walker Tribute)
Sandie Shaw-Puppet on a String
Sparks-Sparks
Beastie Boys-Ill Communication (I’ve never liked this album, but for $2 I’ll try again)
Afrika Bambaataa-Beware (The Funk is Everywhere)
Goldie Lookin Chain-s/t
DVD
Friends and Crocodiles (BBC)
My Name is Bill W (James Woods is incredible in this movie!!!)
Gangster Number One

I probably wouldn’t have bought a lot of these had they not been so drastically marked down (Paul Williams is an obvious exception), but then, I probably wouldn’t have been there if Tower wasn’t going out of business, so, as my erstwhile colleague Josh Feit might say, burn on everybody.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Non-Crappy Holiday Music

posted by on December 14 at 4:23 PM

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This originally came out last year, but Stones Throw has re-released Peanut Butter Wolf’s holiday mix as part of their podcast [direct MP3 link]. It features the only Kwanzaa carol I’ve ever heard along with some other atypical gems.

Also in Music Tonight

posted by on December 14 at 4:21 PM

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There’s no denying it’s crappy out. Frankly, ordering Pho, going home, and watching whatever metal-related programming VH1 Classic is airing tonight sounds very tempting, but I’m going to brave the elements because there are two great shows that I just don’t want to miss.

First off, the Turn-Ons, Cock & Swan, Arthur & Yu, and the Dirty Sleeves are at the High Dive. Not only did the handsome fellows in the Turn-Ons (pictured above) snag one of the most “gee-I-can’t-believe-it-hasn’t-been-taken” band names ever, they continue to make astonishingly beautiful, technically precise glam rock that is as soulful as it is seductive.

Secondly, the Tin Hat in Ballard is throwing its annual Fucked Jukebox bash. For the uninitiated, Fucked Jukebox is a tag team DJ night featuring local musicians and DJs playing their favorite disorienting choices to the bar’s reliably rowdy crowd of hecklers. Do not confuse this with guilty pleasures (though they are similar); the goal is to create a disjointed, utterly embarrassing and confusing collection of songs that one might find on say, the jukebox of a remote rural bar. This year’s participants include Lisa from the Hot Rollers, Ben from Visqueen, members of the Fatigues, Playing Enemy, and West, co-host of KEXP’s Sonic Reducer. It is always a hilarious and highly debauched affair, and unless locusts start falling from the sky, I’ll definitely be ending my evening there.

And Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye

posted by on December 14 at 3:26 PM

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Last October Hum reunited to do one free show in their hometown of Champaign, Illinois. My Hum obsession had already been renewed with my discovery of lead singer Matt’s Centaur project (if you don’t have In Streams get it, it’s a nice progression), but somehow I didn’t find out about this show until a few weeks after the fact. I’ve been kicking myself since for not being there, and have told myself that I’m not going to let that happen again. Therefore as of two days ago I’m all set to say goodbye to Rainer Maria at their final shows in NYC. I have high hopes that their last sets will lean heavily on the Past Worn Searching/Look Now Look Again era, but regardless of what they play they should be a good shows since the band has always shone brightest onstage. I have no idea what my Internet situation will be in NYC, but I’ll be posting my impressions of the show(s) afterwards for the other R|M fans that can’t make it (and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any tapers in the audience willing to share their recordings).

Tonight in Music

posted by on December 14 at 3:20 PM

Feeling charitable? Go to this:

THE LASHES, ROMANCE, THE GIRLS, ICEAGE COBRA (Funhouse) Northwest Harvest is not only benefiting from the proceeds from our Strangercrombie Holiday Auction (visit thestranger.com/strangercrombie to bid on all sorts of excellent gifts for music fans), but also from the good folks in these local bands. Tonight they’re forgoing payment to put on a feel-good free show for their fans. Just show up at the door with two cans of food and you’re in. You can donate even more with every pint of Pabst you order; 50 cents from every $2 PBR goes directly to the local food bank. HANNAH LEVIN

Feeling Canadian? Go to this:

THE PWRFL POWER, TEETH AND HAIR, HOT LOINS
(Gallery 1412) Vancouver, BC’s Hot Loins soak their synth-punk arrhythmia in dirty psychedelics, layering spaced-out moans over twitchy guitars, wobbling keyboards, and chaotic drumming. The band unexpectedly shift between syrupy slow lurching and epileptic fits like a stumbling, potentially violent drunk. Less than two years old, the band have already played dozens of shows, remixed Deerhoof, and are working on a full-length for Sound Document due out this spring. Seattle’s adorably demented guitar whiz kid Kaz Nomura is the PWRFL Power, a usually one-man army of derailed guitar virtuosity, vast musical knowledge, and humble good humor. ERIC GRANDY

And there’s also Dope Emporium at CHAC, Telefon Tel Aviv at Chop Suey, and the return of Jenn Ghetto’s band, S., at the Crocodile.

And if you want to plan ahead for the rest of the week, check out this week’s web-only Setlist to hear music from the Reformation, White Knuckle Ride, the Johnbenders, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Library Science, and more.

So Cute, Your Head May Explode

posted by on December 14 at 1:40 PM

You’ve been warned—I will never hear “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden quite the same way again:

Thanks to the good folks at the Sunset for the link.

Rockin’ Around the Clock

posted by on December 14 at 12:21 PM

The unofficial theme of Rock the Bells last night at the Showbox was “Takin’ it back to when hiphop was good.” Most of the rappers on the bill can be forgiven for hating, seeing as their best-loved albums came out quite a while ago. And nobody was complaining about the trip back in time. The amazing MC Supernatural got the journey started with his impressions of ’90s MCs. He also treated the crowd to some improvisations from his fancy rhyming brain, freestyling on items from people’s pockets (a bag of weed!) and words offered by the crowd (“vainglorious!”).


Raekwon and Redman both gave energetic performances, periodically turning back the clock to pay tribute to the early ’80s and revisit the golden early to mid-’90s. At one point, Raekwon asked the crowd to shout, “Yo Rae! I really love fuckin’ hiphop!” which might be the most awkward and sincere thing I’ve ever heard a bunch of people try to yell together. During Raekwon’s long set, the crowd, in keeping with the theme of the night, freaked out most for the Wu-Tang songs. Ghostface was onstage for a painfully brief time, and unfortunately stayed mostly in the background.


Judging from the stage banter throughout the night, Seattle is known for more than just its weather. The alternate theme of the show could’ve been “Seattle’s got famous weed.” MC after MC paid respect to Seattle’s green, which is apparently world famous. And it was very cloudy in there.

What’s On Megan’s Desk?

posted by on December 14 at 12:11 PM

Welcome back for our new Thursday Lineout post, What’s on Megan’s Desk? Megan Seling is our interim music editor, and she keeps many wonderful things on her desk. Here is a picture of her desk in it’s natural, resting state. You may remember it from last week:
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Every week, I thrust my arms out blindly and reach for something on Megan’s desk, hoping I don’t touch anything gooey. This week I found (drumroll, please):

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A fresh-looking Mike Nipper!

What the hell is Mike Nipper, our extremely notorious receptionist, doing on Megan’s desk?
Is he rubbing himself on it?

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Is he perhaps confused about where his own desk is, and is trying to answer the phone for Megan?

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Perhaps. But I think he may just want to be “where the MAGIC happens!”

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Nipper says, “Something about this corner of the office makes me feel especially coy!”

Mike Nipper DJs every month at the Emerald City Soul Club at Lo_Fi. Check it out!

Ennio Morricone: About bloody time!

posted by on December 14 at 10:03 AM

Quick quiz, movie music buffs. How many Academy Awards does soundtrack legend Ennio Morricone (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, The Mission) have? Here are a couple hints: He’s scored over 300 films, and been nominated five times.

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Give up? The answer is: NONE!

Fortunately, the folks at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have announced they plan to rectify this embarrassing oversight by presenting an a Honorary Award to Morricone at the 79th Academy Awards on Feb. 25, 2007. About bloody time, Hollywood. Morricone turned 88 this year.

Thee Final Countdown

posted by on December 14 at 9:34 AM

It’s that time of the year for critics, bloggers, and pundits of every stripe to submit their year end “Best Of” lists. I’m not usually a fan of these but I’ve been enjoying the eclectic offerings over at Dusted Magazine, one of my favorite music websites. Sort of the anti-Pitchfork, Dusted tends to cover more experimental and obscure artists outside of the pop-cultural zeitgeist with an esoteric editorial style. In that same vein, I thought I’d post about some albums that I don’t think got enough attention this year but found some love on my stereo.


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P.A.F.
Fingerprints, Medicine (New World of Sound)

Scott Rosenberg is better known as reed player with a wild bent for free/improv music and avant composition work. While some touches of those impulses are present in this album, P.A.F. is first and foremost a rock band with deep roots in the soul searing confessionals of American folk and blues. With a voice that sounds like he’s been dulling his heartache by chewing the shot-glass instead of drinking the whiskey, Rosenberg and company lurch, jump and stumble through the most cathartic rock and roll album I’ve heard all year.

Listen to “Blue Plate Special” at myspace.com/paf


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Lords (UK)
This Ain’t a Hate Thing, It’s a Love Thing (Gringo Records)

While sharing a penchant for amphetamine speeds and frenetic guitars, the Lords of Nottingham, England are distinct from their like-named Kentucky counterparts. Lords (UK) play a propulsive prog-blues-punk something or other that just pummels you into the ground with swinging, swaggering polyrhythms and droning squalls of jammed out noise. Mixing a bit of southern rock strut with Sabbath-y sludge and a bit of latter-era Dischord mathe-magics thrown in. An especially heady accomplishment of sheer heaviness for a band that has no bass player.

Listen to them at myspace.com/lords or check out their label Gringo Records


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31 Knots
Polemics EP (Polyvinyl)

Fuck. This is just a great band. 31 Knots are virtuoso musicians and minds of rare verve and conviction. Their last album Talk Like Blood was an album about war that never fell into the trap of bland slogans or bald didacticism— but instead remained forthright and stridently articulate in all its vitriol and disappointment. Polemics fits perfectly into that place where you want EP’s to be between albums. It shows a band at work stretching and experimenting while simultaeneously tiding one over until the March ‘07 release of the upcoming full length, The Days And Nights Of Everything Anywhere. This is just a great band.

Listen to them at myspace.com/31knots or at their homepage 31knots.com


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We Are Reagan Youth?

posted by on December 13 at 4:25 PM

Apparently Reagan Youth are back together. They broke up in 1989, and their frontman, Dave Insurgent, has been dead for 13 years (addicted to heroin, he committed suicide shortly after his mom died in a car accident and his girlfriend became the last victim of prostitute-killing serial killer Joel Rifkin ).

The new lineup features three former members of Reagan Youth: Paul Cripple on guitar (who originally started the band with Insurgent in the late ’70s), Johnny Aztec on drums, and Al Pike on bass. So, who fills in for Insurgent? Some guy named Pat from some NYC band called Distraction. Seems they’ve already played, too, on a bill with Agent Orange back in September.

It’s weird to replace the longtime frontman of an important and beloved group. (It’s not like a Black Flag situation, where they had four lead singers in almost as many years.) The frontman’s energy and personality often kind of make the band. I don’t like it. It’s like today’s Misfits without Glenn Danzig and Journey without Steve Perry (the voice of an angel)who the hell wants to see that?

Oh, but, Reagan Youth. An awesome band. One of my favorites. They only put out one album while they were together, Youth Anthems for the New Order (later rereleased as Volume 1 by New Red Archives); Volume 2, markedly different and not so good, came out in 1990, after they broke up. They played good ol’ ’80s NY hardcore, with political, smart-ass lyrics deriding the Reagan administration; condemning apathy, classism, and racism; and advocating anarchism. Volume 1 is an excellent album, from first song to last. My personal favorites: “Degenerated,” “Anytown,” “Reagan Youth,” and “USA.”

Mclusky Fans, Rejoice!

posted by on December 13 at 2:57 PM

No, they didn’t get back together, but this sounds pretty damn good to me.

M.I.A. Disses Diplo, Rambles in ALL CAPS!

posted by on December 13 at 11:30 AM

As Pitchfork reports today, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A. has dropped some very weird science on her myspace blog. Buried amidst the ALL CAPS tale of her recent documentary-filming trip to Liberia (?!) is a nasty swipe at her apparent ex-boyfriend, Diplo, which in a few words dismantles the celebrated beat maker more thoroughly than any music critic hand-wringing possibly could:

WENT TO SCHOOLS ,HOMES THAT WERE EMPTY BOMBED OUT BUILDINGS , VILLAGES WITH NO WATER ELECTRICITY, SAW THE MOST RAWEST THINGS SINCE MY HEAD AND HEART GOT SHAT ON BY MY EX BOYFRIEND WHO WAS GONE TO SAVE STRIPPERS IN BRAZIL (COZ they ALWAYS NEED MUSIC TO DANCE TO)…

Anybody know the Portugese word for “ZING”?

Sonic Elders

posted by on December 13 at 11:06 AM

This video will be most entertaining to those familiar with Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia” (AKA the first track on Sister), for whom it will be one of the weirdest and most wonderful things ever.

Thanks, as always, to Jake.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Callum Robbins Needs Your Help

posted by on December 12 at 4:50 PM

J. Robbins is an incredibly talented manhe was in Government Issue, Burning Airlines, and (one of my personal favorites) Jawbox. As a producer, he’s worked with bands like the Dismemberment Plan, the Promise Ring, Jets to Brazil, Against Me!, and many others. He also recorded the yet-to-be-released full-length for local Big Shots, Speaker Speaker. He’s hilarious, generous, and wicked talented.

He’s also a dadon January 27, 2006, Robbins and his wife Janet had their first child, Callum. He’s adorable, he looks just like J. In a heartbreaking twist of fate, though, this past September Callum was diagnosed with a genetic motor neuron disease called Type 1 SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). Type 1 SMA is usually fatal. It affects the brain’s ability to communicate with the voluntary mucles that are used for crawling, walking, breathing, and swallowing.

Most Type 1 babies will die before their second birthday. Those infants who survive into childhood are in for a long road of occupational therapy, wheelchairs, and assistive devices. Despite years of work on its treatment and “ongoing promising research,” it has no cure.

Friend and former-Jawbox bandmate Kim Coletta has posted more information about the disease on Desoto Records’ website. She’s also set up a Pay Pal account for those who’d like to help the family pay for Cal’s treaments.

Allopathic (“conventional”) doctors, while energetically engaged in research into this condition, can offer no cure for Callum. There may be some hope even if only for a better quality of life in alternative routes and therapies. These, of course, are not covered by health insurance.

We at DeSoto feel that we owe it to J., Janet, and Callum to explore any and every avenue that might help their little boy. Pursuing alternative treatments will very plausibly bankrupt them.

Our hope is that people whose lives J., Janet, and Cal have touched - with their music, their friendship, their work in the independent music community - can help. Every dollar you give will provide Cal support to pursue treatment for this terrible disease. Perhaps more important, it will provide J., Janet, and Cal some of the hope they need to play out this horribly unfair hand life has dealt them.

To read more about Cal, SMA, or to make donations, please visit www.desotorecords.com.

Nelson Does Lennon

posted by on December 12 at 4:38 PM

The night of Sean Nelson’s tribute to Harry Nilsson coincided with the 40th birthday of one of my closest friends, so it just wasn’t possible to be in two places at once. I wasn’t happy about missing it, believe me. Luckily, someone was kind enough to video tape the last song, which was actually a John Lennon song in honor of the 26th anniversary of his death. It’s pretty fucking great—go Sean!!

VU Acetate Still Available

posted by on December 12 at 4:17 PM

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Don’t be fooled by the fact that bidding has ended on this VU rarity. Apparently the winning bidder flaked and it’s still up for grabs.

Be a Better Person (and Make Your Family Proud)

posted by on December 12 at 2:29 PM

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May I address a grievance in this forum? Yesterday night I attended the Jonathan Richman show at the Tractor and it was not sold out. This is criminal. You may remember Jonathan as the godfather of punk (the Ramones used the Modern Lovers song “Roadrunner” to audition bassists, for chrissakes), or you may know him only as that goofy guy playing the guitar in There’s Something About Mary.

What you may not know is that Jonathan Richman puts on one of the sweetass-est shows you ever saw He sings, he strums, he dances, he shakes some bells, he grimaces, he grins. Last night alone, he spoke in five different languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Hebrew, and American), acted out skits, and generally left his heart right out there on the stage.

And the place was half full. Do yourself and your family and all your dead relatives (upon whom you will heap shame otherwise) a favor tonight and go to Jonathan’s show (also at the Tractor). It will make you happier, more well adjusted, and more pleasant to be around. And you’ll be supporting one of the punkest gentlemen out there.

P.S. Get there early because Jonathan is a punctual man; last night he was on by nine.

Re: A Guilty Pleasure…Unicorns

posted by on December 12 at 10:28 AM

What to do:

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The Microphones/Mount Eerie scratch that same twee folk/pop itch, even touching on the incomprehensibility of life, death, and the universe, without dealing in overt religion (just a little mysticism/deism?). There’s the mythical song suite of Mt Eerie, in which Phil Elverum converses with Death and the Universe, but they seem like pretty non-denominational archetypes. Sure, the production is somewhat lacking raw compared to Sufjan’s immaculate multi-tracked symphonies, but Elverum’s lo-fi mumbling has its own subtle charm. Update: In case it’s not perfectly clear, let me just say that I find Elverum to be a fine substitution/antidote to Stevens. They’re not so similar, I just woke up and felt like listening to The Glow, pt. 2, and it was perfect.

Here’s my itinerary for the morning:
The Glow, pt. 2
Mt Eerie
No Flashlight: Songs of the Fulfilled Night

Grammy Battle 2007: Death Cab Versus Cuties

posted by on December 12 at 9:44 AM

So last week brought that annual parade of bewilderment known as the Grammy nominations. Key to the morbid fascination of the Grammys is the bizarre arbitrariness of the category groupings, illustrated most delightfully by this year’s nominees for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group, which pit local heroes Death Cab for Cutie against both the Black Eyed Peas and the Pussycat Dolls.

Attention Death Cab: I understand your placement in the pop category was beyond your control. Neverthless, if you lose to either “My Humps” or a bunch of lip-synching strippers, don’t bother taking another in-breath.

For the full list of nominees, go here.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Paradise City, Indeed

posted by on December 11 at 5:30 PM

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After many anticipatory months of enduring a combination of anxiety and excitement, I’m happy to say I’m feeling entirely satisfied with G ‘N R’s show last night. It wasn’t flawless or without embarrassing momentsopener “Welcome to the Jungle” was a little scattered, the soloing even more gratuitous than I could have expected, and the lead guitarist made the idiotic choice to wear a curly black wig and top hat for the first few songs, a awkward costume that only emphasized the fact that he wasn’t even in the same league as original guitarist Slashbut the rest of the 2-hour-plus set was exhilarating.

Axl’s voice was in fine shape and he kept the emphasis where it needed to be: on Appetite For Destruction. He howled and growled his way through most of that record and cherry-picked the essentials off of everything else, including a sing-along—inducing version of “Patience” and a joyously bombastic rendition of “November Rain.” Thanks to the kind ladies in the Suicide Girls (the deliciously depraved anti-burlesque troupe opened the show and has been touring with G “N R for nearly three months), I was able to watch the entire thing side stage, a perspective that included a view of Sebastian Bach dashing on stage to join Axl for “My Michelle.” Given the impressive length of the set and the strength of Axl’s performance, it almost felt like he was deliberately trying to erase his long-standing reputation as an unreliable narcissist. Realistically, I doubt he truly gives a shit what anyone thinks of G “N R 4.0, but I was pleasantly surprised by what a great show it was.

**One note on the crowd—the age range was wide—I saw quite a few adorably excited, junior high-age kids and far too many older peeps of both genders who were seriously, seriously wasted. I support the enthusiasm, and I certainly didn’t turn down the vodka backstage, but I wonder how many ticket holders woke up this morning with only vague memories of attempting Axl’s snake dance and then heading to the bathroom to throw up. Who cares how hard you partied when you can’t remember the show?

A Guilty Pleasure, or I Don’t Believe in Unicorns

posted by on December 11 at 1:25 PM

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I heard Sufjan StevensCome on Feel the Illinoise last night at the bar, and it got me fretting.

I love the song “Chicago”. I believe that “all things go” and it causes me no end of existential dread, but I do not believe that “you came to take us…to recreate us”, where “you” is Jesus, or any other religious figure. It’s a sweet, touching song, and the the dilemma, if not the conclusion, is poignant. Still, part of me always feels like a sucker for being taken in by twee christian indie rock. What to do?


Sunday, December 10, 2006

You Don’t Have to Change At All

posted by on December 10 at 12:16 PM

This video of Michael Jackson and Roberta Flack (from 1974’s Free To Be…You and Me) brought to you by insomnia and the joys of late night cable television. It’s only slightly less surreal in the daylight hours than it was when I stumbled across it last night.


Christgau’s Consumer Guide Premieres at MSN

posted by on December 10 at 11:08 AM

As I mentioned last week, Robert Christgau’s Consumer Guidethe legendary, letter-graded album-review column that many of us have been reading for as long as we can remember, the fate of which has been up in the air since the idiotic dismissal of Christgau from the Village Voicewill continue at Microsoft’s music site, where the debut installment landed this week.

Since the column’s been on hiatus since late summer, he’s playing a bit of catch-up. Among the winners: OutKast (he’s a staunch Idlewild defender), the Hold Steady, and Bob Dylan (whose Modern Times earns that Consumer Guide rarity, an A plus, making Dylan the first artist to get double-whammy top grades with two consecutive studio albums since the New York Dolls in ‘73/’74.) Among the losers: The Who, North Mississippi All-Stars, and my beloved Scissor Sisters.

Check out the whole thing here and look for new installments every other month.