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Archives for 01/28/2007 - 02/03/2007

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Rave Rap & Neon Lit Junkies

posted by on February 3 at 3:49 PM

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Clayton “Sing Titty Death Party” Vomero checks in from the harried streets of San Francisco, weighing in on rave rap, hyphy, and red chili flakes (from Go Out and Kill Tonight):

Last night, in San Francisco, was the first show of the tour. We played a party called At Large at the Madrone Lounge and got obliterated on Budweiser tall boys with a bunch of hip hop kids who were really unenthused when M!G!H! debuted his contreversial genre creation: Rave Rap, which is essentially rap acappella’s over weird Ed Banger-type instrumentals. It’s insane and it’s essentially what hyphy music is, so you would think playing it to a room full of kids trying to go dumb would get you a few thizz faces but noooooooooo. So, after a slight format adjustment, we proceeded to bludgeon them with all the dirty south and hyphy jams that they could ever wish for. Cam & Jody (our roadies) held it down, fed us shots, and went bananas at all the right moments. They’re like the dancing equivalent of canned laughter and make us seem like we are the biggest dirtiest party barrell to EVER go over the waterfall of hipster discos. By midnight the room was like a sweaty bag of smashed beer cans with people dancing everywhere.

After the show, we headed to this halfway house on Market called Carl’s Jr. We ate burgers, watched some junky play the flute, and probably gained 15 lbs. I’m doing that crazy red pepper chili flake fast when I get home and no matter how bad it is for you, it can’t be anywhere near as bad as eating burgers with a bunch of neon lit junkies at 3am. We came back to the hotel, Cam tried to light my feet on fire and then we all slept like weeeeeee babies.


Friday, February 2, 2007

The Future of DJing?

posted by on February 2 at 7:39 PM

DJ ! (pronounced Shift) presents wiijing. Yay, progress.

The Trip

posted by on February 2 at 4:19 PM

Words can only do so much to describe a place, but Kelly O’s video of the Maple Valley road trip described in this story actually takes you there. Check it out:


Sly Wants to Take You Higher—and He Does

posted by on February 2 at 3:32 PM


“Stand”

Go to YouTube. Type SLY FAMILY STONE in the search engine. Click on every video you see that contains footage of this multi-racial, multi-gender funkadelic soul troupe, preferably from the ’70s. Watch, listen. Get lifted—very high. Repeat as necessary.

I’m a straight male who’s never had man-on-man sex, but when I see group leader Sly Stone in action in these vids, I am overcome with a mad desire to engage in NSFW activities with him. This creative dynamo, this mutton-chopped force of nature, this singing/arranging/keyboard-guitar-playing genius exudes a sensuality and bonhomie that are outrageously magnetic and galvanic. I’m in the throes of an intense man-crush (with the dude’s large-afro’d ’70s persona), and I’m not ashamed to tell the world about it. Confession is good for the soul—and so is Sly & the Family Stone’s immortal music. (Plus, it has the added value of being so much cheaper than a therapist and anti-depressants.)

UPDATE: According to Pitchfork, Sly & the Family Stone’s back catalog is being reissued on March 20. Awesomeness.

“Awesome,” Sean Nelson, Dan Savage, and Neal Pollack at Chop Suey

posted by on February 2 at 3:29 PM

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Sean Nelson, MC’ing: “Hello, everybody, and welcome to WHO’S YOUR DADDY, a celebration of alternative fatherhood presented by The Stranger, a paper that has never made any secret of being a complete bastard. As you know, our proceedings tonight will be a parade of literature, or memoir at any rate, featuring two of the most self-involved writers the English language has ever known…”

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“Awesome” singing a song written in the voice of Neal Pollack. The chorus: “Oh. My. God. I’m. So. Baked.” (Or, alternately, “Oh. My. God. I’m. So. Stoned… Oh. My. God. I’m. So. High.”)

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Dan Savage reading about fingering his son’s, uh, very special place. With antibiotic ointment!

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Neal Pollack reading about getting really high on something strange in Amsterdam, feeling like his body was on fire, and dumping a pitcher of water over his head in front of an audience of Dutch literary intelligentsia.

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A self-portrait of photographer Malcolm Smith (he’s on the left). For more photos of the evening, check out Smith’s website.

Pea Soup and Frog Prostitution

posted by on February 2 at 3:25 PM

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Seattle’s DJ Pretty Titty (aka Clayton Vomero) is currently out on tour with Vancouver BC’s DJ My!Gay!Husband! (pictured, on the right), terrorizing the West Coast’s finer eating, drinking, and dancing establishments. During their tour, I’ll be reposting bits of Vomero’s tour diary and pictures from his blog, Go Out And Kil Tonightl.

The story thus far:

We got a late start at around 7pm last night to drive straight through to San Francisco. Stopped a million times, braved the pea soup fog with tractor trailers zipping by, popped trucker speed, shotgunned sparks, waxed poetically about colonial frog prostituion, saw the snow, a five car smash ‘em up and listened to some insane canadian rave channel on sattelite radio. All to arrive; bright and early around 9am; well rested and ravenously hungry at the pristine, white tiled monument to fast food: In N’ Out Burger.

After we gorged oursleves, we checked in to our hotel room at The Phoenix, proceeded to pass the fuck out like fat disgusting hogs and are now watching a giraffe give birth on Animal Planet. Although this seems like a perfect moment of zen, we just sent Cam to the store to buy a case of Mickey’s Grenades and a fifth of Canadian Club. I have no idea what this will lead to other than Jason getting wasted, making out with fat chicks and screaming the word “rave” over and over again but I’m guessing that I will have some video footage by the time I wake up tomorrow that the big guy will beg me not to post. So check back again tomorrow and I promise party pics galore, creepy video footage, and maybe a paypal donate button for the bail fund. We play the Madrone Lounge tonight, come watch the exclusive dance moves we choreographed for At Large and hear me beat juggle “We’re Not Gonna Take It” until vomit comes out of my nose.

Tonight in Music

posted by on February 2 at 3:15 PM

MENOMENA, S, SIBERIAN
(Crocodile) For years now, critics have touted Portland-based hip-pop band Menomena as the next big thing in indie rock. Well, it’s 2007 and Menomena are still one of stump town’s best-kept secrets. But after an amicable adieu to their erstwhile label FILMGuerrero, Menomena have settled in nicely with indie-heavyweight Barsuk records. And with the band’s label debut, Friend and Foe, receiving critical acclaim after only its first couple weeks on the shelves, this could easily be the year when all the cool hunters cash in big (Pitchfork gave it an almost pristine 8.5 rating). But don’t forget Menomena—they’re just three charming dudes who’ve been chugging along, keeping it real amid all the hype over the last few years. With a crafty, oddly lilting new record under their belt, Menomena may now be ready to take on the rest of the world. STEVEN SAWADA

GET DRESSED, GRAND HALLWAY, ELBA
(Ground Zero) Tomo Nakayama’s goose-bumps-inducing voice was what made the now-defunct Asahi so great. Their gentle song structures, bursting with both beauty and sadness, were always so carefully composed with lots of tender attention, but it was Nakayama’s voice that caused the shivers—delicate, sad, and gorgeous. Grand Hallway are the new project featuring Nakayama, and he’s joined by Erik Neumann, Bob Roberts, and Jeramy Koepping. Like Asahi, Grand Hallway are jaw-droppingly beautiful, but they’re also a bit more, er, grand—the compositions are sturdier, the melodies are even more sweeping, and Nakayama’s voice feels stronger and more present in the mix of well-crafted orchestras of piano and strings. It’s as though he’s embraced just how much talent he has and is no longer afraid of flaunting it. A few weeks ago we declared Grand Hallway one of the local bands to adore in 2007, and so far they’re making it really difficult, nay, impossible, to do anything but cherish their efforts. MEGAN SELING

Up Yours

posted by on February 2 at 3:09 PM

Someone was offended by my postings of band glossies from the wall at London Bridge Studios. All 2 of them.

This one’s for you:

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The hair, the 2 x’s, the rock. It don’t get no better.

Luke Vibert To Play Krakt!

posted by on February 2 at 2:48 PM

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Damn! Krakt, Seattle’s hardest, most grammatically-challenged techno night. has just announced that they will be joined in April by none other than Luke Vibert. Vibert will be performing a live techno set, as will openers Jacob London. Kristina Childs will handle the decks for the evening. This should be a hell of a show, and constitutes something of a booking coup for Krakt.

Deerhoof Direct Cosmic Traffic

posted by on February 2 at 2:26 PM

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Deerhoof, Black Black, Leti Angel @ Neumo’s

I was wrong about a couple things re: Deerhoof, the trio, and Neumos. First of all, I still think a band’s impact can get lost in a cavernous club, and I still think Deerhoof are uniquely immune to such a scenario, but I also must give credit to Neumo’s sound wizard, Scotty, who always ALWAYS delivers gale force sound at any show he’s working. Last night, he was twisting knobs with a supremely evil grin, fully immersed in Deerhoof’s epic sound waves. Hats off to you, Scotty.

Secondly, Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki made plenty of time for hand jive despite now being responsible for an entire third of Deerhoof’s monsters sound. And I don’t know what it means, but kids go absolutely apeshit for it, cheering and hollering when she points to the ceiling the way that fans may have once applauded guitar solos. Matsuzaki looked like she was directing traffic or landing planes (or trying to hitch a ride form a spaceship), and its still a fine counterpoint to Deerhoof’s epic squalls, but part of me feels like it s a corner that the band have backed themselves into—the gestures seem so unnecessary given how awe inspiring the music is, but they’re an expected part of the show. But maybe that’s just me.

Openers Black Black seemed to be wearing not just blackface but black all over. I don’t know if that makes it any better or worse then when Ted Danson does it, but whatever. Their sound was a fine introduction for Deerhoof: spacey, minor-keyed odd-rock with sort of a Wet Confetti meets shoegaze vibe. The highlight of their set was a cover—an inevitable shame for some bands—of the Misfit’s “Skulls,” and it was kick ass, a dreamy, arrested take on the hardcore classic.

This Week’s Setlist

posted by on February 2 at 2:18 PM

A new episode is up! Click here to listen.

This week hear our favorite naked-except-for-cloud-underpants band A Gun That Shoots Knives, along with the Sea Navy, the Turn-Ons, Gazebo of Destruction, the Feral Children, PBR Street Gang, and more.

Like it? Hate it? Let us know.

Mika Live

posted by on February 2 at 1:54 PM

I’ve listened to “Grace Kelly,” UK pop sensation Mika’s #1-in-the-UK single, about ten thousands times since first posting it here on Line Out. I fucking love it. Andy at Towleroad was lucky enough to catch Mika’s recent live show in New York City…

Mika’s bubble gum pop translates flawlessly live. We were sent away from the showcase with a gift bag containing a CD, a huge selection of candy, and a special Mika hacky sack, but bribes weren’t necessary. I think most of the audience was already sold. I am, anyway.

For those of you who become dangerously addicted to songs with catchy, fizzy, narrative lyrics that tell a story, Mika is your man. I drank the Kool-Ade, and now I’m hooked.

It will be interesting to see whether he can catch on in the U.S. The Scissor Sisters have seen chart-topping success in the U.K., while in the U.S. they remain niche artists. I think Mika’s optimistic songs should find a bigger audience here—they’re already playing as MTV promos.

For those of us not lucky enough to live in NYC or LA—the only cities Mika visited on his recent tear through the states—here’s Mika performing “Grace Kelly” live on British television…

Oh Caaa’nada!

posted by on February 2 at 1:28 PM

I just discovered TV show, Kenny vs. Spenny. Maybe it’s old news, but hoo weee, these Canucks are off the hook. In the episode, “Who’s the Better Actor” Kenny takes on the role of various characters to get on Spenny’s nerves.

Meet Helmut.
A spot-on depiction of *ALL* German techno musicians.
(I’m kidding!)

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WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

Sad Songs Say So Much: In Praise of Crybaby Rap

posted by on February 2 at 12:45 PM

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Fact: I’m a total pussy, and can be moved to tears by too many things to count. (Perennially effective tearjerkers: Lucinda Williams’ “Sweet Old World,” photos of orphans with flies on their faces, that part in “Welcome to the Terrordome” when Chuck D says “God bless your soul and keep livin’,” and the last five minutes of The Last Picture Show.)

But my most recent emotionally manipulative obsession has been what I’ve come to call Crybaby Rap—those downbeat hiphop tracks featuring sweet soul samples and otherwise hard-ass rappers dealing with deeply emotional subject matter: moms who gave everything, girlfriends who stuck around during the lean times, buddies now dead.

I’ve always had a house-sized soft spot for tough guys struggling to express their emotions (Chris Cooper’s 2003 Oscar speech nearly killed me), and hard guys showing their soft sides is the essence of Crybaby Rap. It’s also something of a rite of passage for rappers, who are challenged to deploy the same intricacy and wit they’ve used to chart their crimes and kills and cars and cheese in the service of much softer and much more vulnerable subject matter. If the rapper’s as good a writer as he claims to be, the results can be tremendous. If the rapper’s something of a hype job, the results can be cheesy cheesy cheese. Please indulge me as I propose a fledgling Hall of Fame of Crybaby Rap:

Cheesiest Crybaby Rap: 2Pac, “Dear Mama.” Call me a heretic, but if he hadn’t been murdered and looked good with his shirt off, this marginally talented rapper would’ve never made it to the Hiphop Hall of Fame. Among the allegedly great rappers, 2Pac’s easily the cheesiest, and his entry into the Crybaby Rap canon captures his cheese in full stink. Aside from a sharp acknowledgment of his mother’s crack use, “Dear Mama” is a parade of say-nothing cliches, climaxing with the telling line, “There are no words to express how I feel.” (Try harder, cheeseball.)

Most Literate Crybaby Rap: Ghostface Killah, “All That I Got is You.” It’s no surprise that the most intricately written Crybaby Rap comes from Ghostface, who, like 2Pac, flexes his soft muscles in tribute to his long-suffering mom. But where 2Pac brings cheese, Ghostface brings brilliantly gritty specifics—the line about young Ghost being sent to the neighbors with a note from his mom asking for food slays me. Proof of the richness of Ghostface’s imagery: Kanye West has pinched not one but two scenes from “All That I Got is You”—the bed crowded with cousins (“two at the foot, two at the head”), and the eating of cereal with a fork to save milk. (As what’s-his-face said, talent borrows, genius steals.)

Most Cinematic Crybaby Rap: Notorious BIG, “Me & My Bitch.” Biggie’s heartfelt tribute to his ideal girlfriend, who he not only calls a bitch for the entire song, but also has whacked at the end. Still, it’s all done with that cinematic lyrical richness that makes one Biggie worth 1,001 2Pacs.

Most Conceptual Crybaby Rap: Jay-Z, “Song Cry.” Like “Me & My Bitch” (which it explcitly references), Jay-Z’s crybaby anthem is a girlfriend tribute, cloaked in a meta-song about the nature and purpose of Crybaby Rap. “I can’t see ‘em running down my eyes, so I gotta make the song cry,” he repeats, bravely. (He’s not saying he never cries, he just never watches himself cry in the mirror.)

Most Surprising Crybaby Rap: Ice Cube, “Dead Homiez”. In the early 1990s, Ice Cube was a tornado of sociopathological fury, raging against whites, Koreans, fags, women, and whatever else you got, all of which makes his 1990 crybaby rap anthem all the more amazing. The great-grandpappy of dead-friend raps, “Dead Homiez” is the most humane work Ice Cube ever allowed himself to make, and one of the greatest tough-guy-goes-soft raps ever recorded.

Crybaby Rap’s Honky Underdog: The Streets, “Never Went to Church.” The best Caucasian-generated entry in the Crybaby Rap canon, Mike Skinner’s tribute to his recently deceased dad fits into the genre somewhat klunkily. In hiphop, mourning your beloved lost father must be kinda like complaining about the taxes on your lottery win: “You knew your father?” I imagine Jay-Z and 2pac and Ghostface screaming at Skinner. “Shut the fuck up, you crybaby!” Still, the song is gorgeous, and for those of us blessed with emotionally restricted fathers, it captures something unique and true. After lamenting his lack of anything to remind him of his dead dad, Skinner realizes, “You left me behind to remind me of you.” Sob, sob SOB!

Sorry for the ramble, I’ll be more concise in the future. (And if you know any great Crybaby Raps I missed, let me know. I’m working on a blowout hiphop Sob Mix…)

Zune Phone

posted by on February 2 at 11:27 AM

Microsoft is reportedly working on a Zune phone to compete with Apple’s coming iPhone. Because, you know, the Zune is competing so well with the iPod already.

No word on how “squirting” will be involved.

Ticketbastard

posted by on February 2 at 10:44 AM

Fed up with sticker shock when you want to buy tickets as advertised, and then get walloped with service charges and other fees.

This bi-partisan bill would require that the real cost is the advertised cost.

A hot-under-the-collar fan of this bill writes in: “HB 1978 would require that when a price is advertised for tickets, it’s the full price, including the facilities charges and convenience charges that Ticketbastard adds on. It would stop, say, The End from advertising tickets at $10.77 each when the real price you pay per ticket is more than double that (as happened with Endfest a couple years ago).”


Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Very Final Installment of “Awesome” Fact of the Day

posted by on February 1 at 4:48 PM

This is the very final installment of “A”FOTD. All good things must come to an end. The show with Neal Pollack, Dan Savage, and Sean Nelson is in a couple hours. We close on a sexual note, as Evan Mosher recently answered the question everyone’s been asked lately.

FACT: Evan Mosher, the trumpet player in “Awesome,” listens to DJ Shadow when he has sex. “Any DJ Shadow will do,” he says. “Otherwise I generally trust my shuffled iPod, even though it may cause mixed feelings (kind of like sex).”

[There you have it! This has been an “Awesome” Fact of the Day. Tonight at Chop Suey! Doors at 7 pm! Show at 8 pm! Free!]

Realness

posted by on February 1 at 3:36 PM

I’ve been erroneously hyping Fourthcity’s new Thursday night at Baltic Room as Stop Biting, based on some bad information (I still love you, Kinoko). In fact, the prolific collective’s new night is called REAL to REAL, and while it features many of the same players as their well-loved Tuesday weekly, the crew is hoping to establish a unique vibe for the new night. And, perhaps most importantly, Stop Biting isn’t going anywhere, it’s still every Tuesday at Lo-Fi, forever and ever, amen! Forgive me. This is the REAL REAL:

REAL to REAL:

EVERY THURSDAY AT THE BALTIC ROOM
A NEW NIGHT W/ HIDDEN HABITATS/FOURTHCITY DJS —- HIDEKI, KAMUI,
INTROCUT,
BUMBLE B, MADMAN, MC SAGE NOMAD + GUEST MCS, DJS AND LIVE ACTS!!!!!

All the hottest boys are/were girls…

posted by on February 1 at 2:38 PM

Do you know my good friend ROCCO Kayiatos? “Kaaatastrophe”? The San Francisco hip hop phenom? “Let’s Fuck and Talk About My Problems”? Have you? Where the devil have you BEEN, sweetheart?

Well, he (formerly she) will be performing his singular style of SUPER TRANNY HIP HOP TOMORROW NIGHT (Friday) at the Wild Rose, and you simply mustn’t miss it. Rocco’s website explains Rocco a little better:

Kaaatastrophe (aka rocco kayiatos) is a genre-busting, emo-hop mc, whose stunning lyrical skills merge with beats that slide from slick to raw to solid to eccentric, creating a sonic otherworld that snags you in a dance-trance while teasing your head…

Indeed.

Plus, he’s massively hot (especially for a former she). Check it out:

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For more pics, click here.

February 2nd, 10pm, at The Wild Rose. 1021 E. Pike St.

For The Knife Obsessed, Like Me

posted by on February 1 at 2:18 PM

You Take My Breath Away W/ Jenny Wilson

We Share Our Mother’s Health

Word is, this video is about abortion. What do you think?

This last one is the thankyou’s they got their friends to record for when they won six Swedish Grammies. Totally weird!

Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes Trailer

posted by on February 1 at 1:52 PM

The below video is the trailer for Beyond Beats & Rhymes, a very ambitious documentary by Byron Hurt analyzing masculinity in hip-hop. I saw the documentary in rough form a few years back and would recommend it to anyone wanting to hear hip-hop artists talk honestly (well, some anyway) about why their songs come out the way they do, why talk of bitches and bling are so prevalent. At this point I’d expect the documentary to be slightly dated, but the topic is no less relevant. If Oprah’s people read Line Out, get Byron Hurt on your show to follow up on that beef with Ludacris. For the rest of you, mark your calendars because Beyond Beats & Rhymes is going to be on PBS February 20th. Longer trailer here.

Around 86

posted by on February 1 at 12:45 PM

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In the day, Seattle’s Frostmaster Chill & Sir Lover the M.C. were pulling from Melle Mel and Kool Moe Dee. Also there were Emerald Street Boys, Silver Chain Gang and Deputy Rhyme. And of course, Mix-A-Lot getting toward the techno-hop.

The NW hip hop movement has been happening for 20 years. Right, Mr. Mizell? Please, fill us with your wisdom.

Where is Frostmaster now?

Tonight in Music

posted by on February 1 at 11:55 AM

Eric Grandy likes the new Deerhoof record, and they’re playing Neumo’s tonight.

DEERHOOF, BLACK BLACK, LETI ANGEL
(Neumo’s) Deerhoof’s live shows are one of the few concert experiences that actually approach something like transcendence. Their music, when amplified and live, is spine-tingling, skin-crawling stuff. Some bands’ physiological impact might get lost in the cavernous room at Neumo’s, but Deerhoof’s expansive sound could fill up a black hole, let alone a high-ceilinged club. Of course, their live shows are also notable for Satomi Matsuzaki’s bizarre, almost condescending broken-English hand-jive routines, such an expected staple of their act that an astute fan should have all her moves down pat by now. But now that the band are a trio it seems unlikely that Matsuzaki will have much time for comic gestures. Deerhoof redux still have an awesome sound to produce, and half the fun at this show will be seeing how their streamlined incarnation pulls it off. ERIC GRANDY

Also tonight:

Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death and Loving Thunder at the High Dive.

Dr. Lonnie Smith at the Triple Door.

And Dave Segal thinks you should go see the Noisettes at the Rendezvous.

Nobody in Seattle sounds like the Noisettes. They’ve undergone heavy exposure to classic sci-fi-film scores like Louis and Bebe Barron’s Forbidden Planet and Gil Mellé’s Andromeda Strain, and immersed themselves in Morton Subotnick’s Moog explorations, Raymond Scott’s avant-garde ad jingles, and Tangerine Dream’s stratospheric pulsations. The Noisettes’ alien gastric bleeps and spacey synth murmurs are simultaneously unsettling and oddly calming, poignantly forlorn yet slightly kitsch.

Listen, and Watch, and Love

posted by on February 1 at 11:09 AM

No?

The Cartoon That Never Stops Being Funny

posted by on February 1 at 7:30 AM

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This cartoon’s been floating around the ether for ages, but its luster remains untarnished. Savor the antique zeitgeistiness of it all.

I Believe the Children are Our Future…

posted by on February 1 at 1:30 AM

For Segal and any others whose faith in humanity is precarious at best— I offer the following evidence of hope and enlightenment in our otherwise disappointing and irredeemable world.


Sepultura - Refuse, Resist


Iron Maiden - The Trooper


Hat tip for the link to Seattle ex-pat Salah Mason, who is a genius on many fronts.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Spank Rock To Release Fabric CD!

posted by on January 31 at 8:06 PM

Everyone’s favorite naughty band is releasing a FabricLive mix in April!

The recent Glimmers was good (until about track 16). The Evil Nine was brilliant. Tiefschwarz was amazing. And the recent Luke Slater is very nice!

Can’t wait for the SPANK!

Ps. villalobos mix has officially been canned! Probably a good thing, no?!?

“A”FOTD

posted by on January 31 at 3:45 PM

FACT: David Nixon, the banjo player in “Awesome,” is a doctor. Of philosophy. (He’s standing at the back in the middle of this picture. And yes, he’s single.) Dr. Nixon’s dissertation was called Perceptual Knowledge: Explorations and Extensions of the Sellarsian Framework. Take it away, Dr. Nixon: “Roughly, it was an articulation and defense of a novel theory of perceptual justification—a theory of what it is that makes it epistemologically reasonable (reasonable from the perspective of wanting true beliefs that are likely to count as KNOWLEDGE) to believe the things you find yourself believing thanks to your sense organs.”

Got that? A further explanation is after the jump.

[This has been an “Awesome” Fact of the Day. Tomorrow night. Chop Suey. With Dan Savage, Neal Pollack, and Sean Nelson. 7 pm doors, 8 pm show. No analytic philosophy whatsoever. Single boys and girls. Free.]

Continue reading ""A"FOTD" »

The Creator of Extreme Bukake and Other Delights

posted by on January 31 at 3:15 PM

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Simon Wickham-Smith: drone on, star-gazing guru.

As an addendum to Josh Feit’s earlier post about tonight’s Gallery 1412 show, I’d like to say a little about Simon Wickham-Smith. This British multi-instrumentalist is a respected astrologer and a master of acutely modulated drones that waver in the sublime zone between Phill Niblock and Pauline Oliveros’ work. He also maintains a fondness for deconstructing various religious musics, which he does with brilliance on Extreme Bukake. Wickham-Smith’s music will make you see stars—and later he may even read yours, if you ask nicely. Here’s hoping he brings his didgeridoo, as well.

Yes, I Am Ashamed.

posted by on January 31 at 2:37 PM

I am giving myself up. I am the untouchable from whose lips escaped the words, “Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon,” before I could stop myself, and after which Christopher would not let me take them back.

I would like to say something in my defense, but everything I’ve thought of doesn’t really help. I have been with my man so long, we don’t listen to music anymore. For a while, we had some very funny times putting on random radio stations and seeing who would crack first under the hilarious pressure of some weird top-40 or oldies song or Diane Rehm show, but we stopped that, too. This makes me sound and feel very sad. (Patrick, are you listening? We have to improve ourselves.) (Is this TMI?)

For now, I will receive the lashes. Or worse, I will receive no lashes because my choice is so boring. The humanity.

All Right, You’re About to Have Sexy Time—What Album Do You Put On?

posted by on January 31 at 2:35 PM

Last Friday at Havana, the staff of The Stranger started talking about good music to have sex to. The question went around the table: You’re about to have sex. What album do you put on? You were supposed to say the first thing you thought of. Some of the answers were strange. Some made perfect sense. See if you can match the Stranger staffer with the first album they think to reach for when they’re about to have sex.

(A) Dan Savage
(B) Kelly O
(C) Bradley Steinbacher
(D) Mike Nipper
(E) David Schmader
(F) Erica C. Barnett
(G) Jen Graves
(H) Christopher Frizzelle
(I) Chris McCann
(J) Kim Hayden
(K) Ari Spool

(1) Greatest Hits, Leonard Cohen.
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(2) The Moon and Antarctica, Modest Mouse.
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(3) 1969: Velvet Underground Live, Vol. 2.
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(4) Ágætis Byrjun, Sigur Ros.
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(5) Loveless, My Bloody Valentine.
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(6) Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd.
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(7) Love Tara, Eric’s Trip.
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(8) Reject All American, Bikini Kill.
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(9) I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, Yo La Tengo.
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(10) The soundtrack to The Cook, the Thief, the Wife, and Her Lover.
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(11) “I don’t play music during that time.”

Original Blipsters

posted by on January 31 at 2:25 PM

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All of yesterday’s talk about hipsters and “blipsters” got me thinking about a book I read maybe a year ago, John Leland’s Hip: A History. Leland traces the origins of modern hipness back to the slaves imported to America in the 17th century, beginning with an anecdote from Jonestown about “the new crop” coming in, and working his way through jazz, the Beat poets, and Looney Tunes all the way to hiphop and Williamsburg. Leland paints hipness as a kind of byproduct of American race relations, a state that exists where boundaries are crossed and identities borrowed or exchanged (he discusses minstrelsy, the creative alliances of Jews and African Americans, and the white suburban reach of hiphop). Hip is also inextricably tied to capitalism and consumerism in his book, as identities are used to sell product or are products themselves, and the demand for newness, for hipness, becomes a motivation to consume beyond one’s needs. It’s a fairly fascinating book, encompassing history, economic analysis, cultural studies, and all sorts of other fun shit. It gets somewhat academic at times, and some chapters are inevitably more interesting than others, but it’s a good read.

The Most Dramatic Musical Experience Ever

posted by on January 31 at 1:57 PM

This is Drumscape. A drumming simulator. It’s karaoke for the drums. You pick out the song, and play to it.

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The ‘Sales Info’ on the brochure touts the reasons why you need Drumscape in your arcade:

How will you deal with new legislation banning gun games?
How many shooting, fighting, racing games do you need?
How many sports games do you have?
How many of your games are “hip”, non-violent, and educational?
Ready for something totally new?
A profitable alternative to gun games.

Is there really legislation banning gun games? Whatever happened to Frogger? You can’t beat Frogger. There are no guns in Frogger.

More from the brochure:

“Enter the Drumscape, representing the most dramatic musical experience ever available to the amusement marketplace. Our US and soon-to-be international patents insure that Drumscape will be pleasing crowds the world over for a long, long time. And speaking of crowds, ask the EXPERTS just how big the Drumscape’s “draw factor” is. It’s pretty typical to find a crowd gathered around the unit, watching and listening to the next “Ringo Starr” audition for the world.”

Ringo Starr?

You want to boost your arcade’s profits? Put in a Frogger.

Rainbows, Clouds, and Naked, Tattooed Boys

posted by on January 31 at 1:15 PM

In yesterday’s mail I received the best band photo I’ve seen all year (mind you, it’s still only January):

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And you people thought the Shins wearing lifejackets was weird? A Gun That Shoots Knives have topped even that, and I love them for it. Their debut full-length, Miracle will be released in March.

Tonight in Music

posted by on January 31 at 12:50 PM

U&C says:

THE HANDS, PLEASUREBOATERS
(Crocodile) Long live Pleasureboaters with their sweet little hints of Murder City’s swagger and Gossip’s stomping blues-plus-punk simplicity. Statutory, their self-released EP, is just four songs burned into a CD-R that’s wrapped in a computer-printed, hand-folded paper sleeve, but it’s still one of the best things I bought last year by a local band. With the Hands headlining this show, we’re batting two for two. MEGAN SELING

Data Breaker says:

MAD PROFESSOR, DR. ISRAEL
Dub be good to you tonight. Mad Professor (Neil Fraser) has earned his sobriquet with several albums and remixes that have carried dub’s mixing-board sorcery into the post-’70s era. Along with Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound stable, Mad Professor has made the UK one of dub’s hotbeds of invention since he began producing 25 years ago in his Ariwa studio. Prof is revered for No Protection (1995), his amazingly sensuous and psychedelic reconfiguration of Massive Attack’s Protection. His style is deep, disorienting, and sometimes daft. Brooklyn toaster/producer Dr. Israel was a key figure with avant-dub label WordSound. He’s as adept at forging rootsy dub reggae and dancehall-inflected hiphop as he is at lacing drum ‘n’ bass dynamics into King Tubby—style studio wizardry. Studio Seven, 110 S Horton St, 286-1312, 8 pm—2 am, $12 adv, $15 DOS, all ages.

What says you?

Local Composer

posted by on January 31 at 12:28 PM

Tonight at Gallery 1412 at 8 pm, British sound artist Simon Wickham-Smith joins local Fourth Dimension hepnotist composer Chris DeLaurenti for an evening of electroacoustic sound, field recordings, and small electronics.

It’s $5 at 1412 18th Ave E at Union.

Copies of DeLaurenti’s new CD, Favorite Intermissions, which I gushed about on Monday, will be on sale at the show.

Seattle Sex City

posted by on January 31 at 12:07 PM

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Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker has announced North American dates (via Pitchfork) and—miraculously!—they include Seattle:

04-23 New York, NY - Webster Hall
04-27 Indio, CA - Empire Polo Field (Coachella)
04-28 San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
04-30 Seattle, WA - Showbox
05-01 Vancouver, British Columbia - Commodore

I never got to see Pulp live—my buddy Sam did, and it sounds like it was a near religious experience—and according to everything I’ve found on the internet it looks like they never played Seattle. I remember seeing a poster for some kind of Pulp date here around 1996, but maybe it was just some DJ appearance or something—does anybody know what I’m talking about or is it just my fever acting up?

Despite never seeing the band, I was weirdly, prematurely into them in high school thanks to the mentoring of one Adam P Baldwin (also responsible for my early interest in Jawbreaker). Pulp were a total anomaly in my adolescent CD collection—literate, witty, sexually charged yet filled with ennui and bathos and other words I didn’t understand at the time—surrounded by the latest offerings from Green Day, Rancid, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, etc, etc. And that’s probably as it should be; Pulp were genius for their ability to be totally anomalous and yet still manage some success amongst the more easily digestible brit-pop of the time. I would listen to Different Class while walking home from school, and while I didn’t understand their very specific British class consciousness, I could relate to their righteous outsider posture and imagine myself a “mis-shape” among my athletic suburban peers. Of course, being a chubby, awkward teen I couldn’t infiltrate the privileged class the way Cocker’s seemingly autobiographical characters did—through charm and sex appeal—but I could appreciate his deft skewering of them all the same.

I lost interest in Pulp for a time—Cocker began making much darker work with This is Hardcore, and I couldn’t at all relate to his dismantling of the very characters he’d championed only an album before, the deflating of the sexual provocateur. Years later, I’ve developed a fondness for almost all of Pulp’s enormous catalog and (I think) a better understanding of Cocker’s songwriting. I’ve yet to fully digest his solo debut due to the piling up of too many records over the past year, but the tracks I’ve heard from it are a fine continuation of Cocker’s work with Pulp, thanks in part to the appearance of former bandmates Richard Hawley and Steve Mackey.

I was never much one for pop idols, but Cocker was always an example of how best to avenge oneself against life’s mediocrity—through style, learning, dancing, sexuality, and class war. I expect him to still be phenomenal live, even if “Babies” and “Like a Friend” aren’t on the setlist.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Shins debut at #2 (UPDATED)

posted by on January 30 at 5:22 PM

Music industry mouthpiece HITS Daily Double is saying that the new Shins album, Wincing The Night Away, has racked up 105,000+ album sales in its first week — which means it will enter at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart (which is officially released tomorrow morning).

Update: According to this morning’s Billboard article, sales for Wincing were even better than yesterday’s HITS item predicted: 118,000 copies in the first week.

Re: Re: The Idea of New Music In Time

posted by on January 30 at 5:16 PM

My dear Charles, no. Music can be made in as many ways as there are musicians. Those who do not know how music is made may perceive a “heaviness of playing, reading notes, practicing instruments,” yet for most of the players I know, this alleged heaviness is a delight - one that lifts with practice, experience, and wisdom.

To understand what music is “doing” - or simply what music is - one must first listen and then listen again. Alas my dear Charles, you have yet to refute my previous post, so I won’t belabor those points, though I’m surprised you remained mute on whether sampling is more essential to hiphop than the voice, the words, and the beat.

As for the “future music,” let’s give credit where credit is due: To Luigi Russolo who wrote almost a century ago, “We must break at all cost from this restrictive circle of pure sounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise-sounds.”

Contending that future music will be “a matter of information, of data, and drive space” is lamentably vague and says nothing new. In music, corporeal habits, mnemonic devices (did you know All Cows Eat Grass?), notation, recording, and reproduction have always been information.

So what truly changed in the 20th century? The kind of data that has been made into music: Earth’s Magnetic Field (a classic slab of 70s electronic music by Charles Dodge, soundwaves generated by the sun (Andrea Polli’s Retina Burn), seismic data from September 11, 2001 (Mark Bain’s STARTENDTIME), the periodic table of the elements (see the music of Andrew Stiller), genetic sequencing (Shawn Bell’s In Nubibus), and so forth. Xenakis’s UPIC project (the forerunner of MetaSynth) was just one in a long line of the great composer’s projects to translate data into music. And I could rant on about Nancarrow

Anyway, notation itself was radically transformed from simple practices like Stockhausen drawing mountains in the notation of “Gruppen” to Cornelius Cardew’s astounding Treatise. But this is a blog, not an encyclopedia.

“A”FOTD

posted by on January 30 at 4:39 PM

FACT: Among the seven members of “Awesome,” David Nixon and Evan Mosher are single; John Ackerman, John Osebold, and Kirk Anderson are girlfriended; and Basil Harris and Rob Witmer are married. To make this information actually useful to you, here is a helpful photo. Beginning in the lower left and going clockwise are Ackerman, Osebold, Anderson, Harris, Witmer, Mosher, and Nixon.

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Ladies of Seattle: You’re welcome. Gays of Seattle: They’re all straight.

[This has been an “Awesome” Fact of the Day. Previous “A”FOTDs can be found here, here, here, and here.]

Tonight in Music

posted by on January 30 at 4:20 PM

From U&Cs:

ONLY CRIME, NEW MEXICAN DISASTER SQUAD, SHOOK ONES, MARGINAL WAY, DOWN WE GO
(Studio Seven) In 2002, when Good Riddance singer Russ Rankin and Bane guitarist Aaron Dalbec joined forces—and record collections—to map out a new hardcore side project, they had one inspiration in mind. But with Only Crime, the pair didn’t just capture the arty, dissonant grace of mid-period Black Flag albums like My War and Slip It In; they got those albums’ drummer, Descendents and ALL timekeeper Bill Stevenson, to join them and produce. Rounded out by siblings Zach and Doni Blair (both ex-Hagfish) on guitar and bass, respectively, Only Crime has so far cut two excellent albums for Fat Wreck Chords—2004’s To the Nines and the new Virulence—both of which don’t just venerate the godfathers; they prove how far ahead of their time Black Flag actually was. AARON BURGESS

From the Score:

DAVID SANBORN
Back in the 1970s, I thought Sanborn’s hiccupping sax licks—irruptions that occasionally teeter toward spastic squealing—marked him as a flash in the pan. I was wrong, but then, who is a prophet at the tender age of 12? Sanborn endures, turning out album after album of smooth, creampuff jazz and occasionally burning it up on funky up-tempo numbers. Through Sun Feb 4. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 pm, $30.50—$32.50.

(This post was brought to you by the new Fall Out Boy record, Infinity On High, which, despite the Jay-Z appearance in the beginning, isn’t good. But even knowing it wouldn’t be, I still had to listen to it at least once all the way through so when I say it isn’t good 1,000 times over the course of the next two months and some 14-year-old prick who, for whatever reason, I feel it’s necessary to defend my musical tastes to, snaps “Did you even listen to it!?” I could look them dead in the eye and say “Yes I did, and I’d like those 50 wasted minutes back. Especially for the song “I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You).”)

Singing Two Songs at the Same Time

posted by on January 30 at 3:14 PM

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Maybe it’s a greedy time-management issue or maybe it’s the natural result of the post-Girl Talk era, but to paraphrase Pete Townshend, all the best rock songs have two singers singing two different songs at the same time.

The grandpappy of the genre is, for me at least, is “The Murder Mystery,” the nine-minute double-warble tone poem that lands near the end of The Velvet Underground. But it would take a good 15 years for the two-songs-at-once formula to move out of the avant-garde icebox and into the arena of rockrockfuckingROCK (or in the case of example number two, the arena of folkfolkantiFOLK.)

Item #1: “The Lowest Part is Free!” the 1994 Archers of Loaf track whose double-decker bridge makes it the most exciting alterna-rock song ever.

Item #2: “Steak for Chicken,” the 2001 Moldy Peaches track featuring two complete sets of lyrics that intertwine so beautifully and hilriously, adding up to the most perfect realiziation of the two-songs-at-once formula except for:

Item #3: “Burn, Don’t Freeze,” the 1999 track by Sleater-Kinney, also featuring a different set of lyrics for each singer, and the most amazingly intense and intricate interplay between the two. I never got to see ‘em do it live, probably because balancing Corin’s shout with Carrie’s mewl live onstage brought up some serious sound-mixing issues. Still, the platonic ideal of the genre, for now.

If anyone knows of any other great double-decker songs, let me know. I’m working on a two-songs-at-once playlist to make my head explode…

Re: Re: The Idea of New Music In Time

posted by on January 30 at 2:55 PM

Delaurenti, to understand what music is doing one must see how it is made. It is in understanding the making that we come to understand the essential differences. Because hiphop does not make music, it does not make musicians. The term, “musician,” is dead to it. This is why at the level of the ear you can say that The Roots are hiphop, but at the level of practice we clearly see they are imitating the effects of hiphop. The Roots are dishonest and nostalgic. There is no such thing as a hiphop band. That is not how you make it. The rejection of this fact, the effort to connect traditional forms of musical production with the forms of new music (which, to be honest, is not even music) has much to do with the fear of decentering live performance. But the heaviness of playing, reading notes, practicing instruments—all this is on its way out. The future music will not need drums, strings, horns and other metal makers of noise. It will be a matter of information, of data, and drive space. As the Russian semotician Yuri Lotman once wrote: “Information is beautiful.”

DIS-Respect

posted by on January 30 at 2:26 PM

I’m so depressed. Hiphop vinyl superstore Respect Records has been closed for some time now. Okay. I guess I have to get over it. But DAMMIT. F*ck you Pine Street. Look what’s in its place…. Super DUPER f*ck you.

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No More Music

posted by on January 30 at 2:25 PM

The main of this post was composed sometime last year and I bring it back today because of the utterly enchanting and relevant passage from Ulysses that I rediscovered last night and included as entry #3:

1) At the end of “Don’t Stop The Dance,” the man whose dandyism and decadence inspired the black elegance movement of the 80s, Bryan Ferry, sings:

“Mama says love is stormy weather
Don’t know why there..s no sun in the sky
Footsteps in the dark come together
Gotta keep on moving or I’ll die

Don..t stop, don’t stop the dance
Don..t, more music, don’t stop the dance”


2) In his prologue to Chenjerai Hove’s excellent collection of short essays and sketches on life in Harare at the middle of the 90s (the deep dusk before the sun of the industrious Rhodesian economy completely sets on Zimbabwe in 2000), Shabeen Tales, Dutch publisher Jan Kees van de Werk gives this description of one night in a club in the capital of the country that was once known as the “breadbasket of Africa”:

One evening I go out with a couple of people to a township. The night club is a bare space with wooden tables, a bar and kitchen. The band plays non-stop from nine in the evening to four in the morning. Music gives time wings. Men dance with one another. Women dance with one another. Sometimes they mix. Dance, dance, dance. Alone with the music, Hardly any talk. One remark keeps coming back to mind: “..We are in shit, man. Deep shit. Come on, dance, man. Dance!..”


3) This is from one of the maddest sections of James Joyce’s Ulysses:

(FROM A CORNER THE MORNING HOURS RUN OUT, GOLDHAIRED, SLIMSANDALLED, IN GIRLISH BLUE, WASPWAISTED, WITH INNOCENT HANDS. NIMBLY THEY DANCE, TWIRLING THEIR SKIPPING ROPES. THE HOURS OF NOON FOLLOW IN AMBER GOLD. LAUGHING, LINKED, HIGH HAIRCOMBS FLASHING, THEY CATCH THE SUN IN MOCKING MIRRORS, LIFTING THEIR ARMS.)

HOURS: You may touch my.

CAVALIERS: May I touch your?

HOURS: O, but lightly!

CAVALIERS: O, so lightly!

The Pianola:

My little shy little lass has a waist.

(…THE TWILIGHT HOURS ADVANCE FROM LONG LANDSHADOWS, DISPERSED, LAGGING, LANGUIDEYED, THEIR CHEEKS DELICATE WITH CIPRIA AND FALSE FAINT BLOOM. THEY ARE IN GREY GAUZE WITH DARK BAT SLEEVES THAT FLUTTER IN THE LAND BREEZE.)

Maginni: Avant Huit! Traverse! Salut! Cours De Mains! Croise!

(THE NIGHT HOURS, ONE BY ONE, STEAL TO THE LAST PLACE. MORNING, NOON AND TWILIGHT HOURS RETREAT BEFORE THEM. THEY ARE MASKED, WITH DAGGERED HAIR AND BRACELETS OF DULL BELLS. WEARY THEY CURCHYCURCHY UNDER VEILS.)


4) To explain how to get out of the Cretan Labyrinth, the hero Theseus gave a dance on the island of Delos. The dance was called the Crane Dance, and it detailed the winding path out of danger, out of death, out of the labyrinth.

The thread is clear. Dance is to each of these situations what storytelling is to Scheherezade, who in the pages of A Thousand and One Nights must to keep telling fresh tales to keep her husband, King Shahryar, from killing her. Dance is the narrative shield, the narrative shelter from the “deep shit” of death. “Keep on moving/don’t stop like the hands of time.” Even when there’s “no more music,” even when out of the labyrinth, “don’t stop the dance,” the dance of what you will find at the end of all things great and small—life itself.

The idea is now close to completion.

Shelagh McDonald—Stargazer

posted by on January 30 at 1:01 PM

I wanted to call this post about Scottish singer/songwriter Shelagh McDonald something like, Life Is a Strange Trip or …And the Bad Trip, but that kind of cheekiness isn’t deserved by such an amazingly talented woman with such a sad story to tell.

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As the liner notes in the execptional 2005 compilation, Let No Man Steal Your Thyme state:

Still, everyone loves a mystery, and it’s that frozen-in-time, Nick Drake-ish combination of doe-eyed beauty, singular musical talent, and unsullied youthful promise that conspires to make the tale of Shelagh McDonald such a highly arresting one.

Who was Shelagh McDonald? Not much is known of her childhood, only that sometime in the 1960s McDonald managed to make her way down to London where she got involved in the burgeoning British folk scene. Without finding too much success, the exception being two songs recorded on a long out-of-print BBC record entitled Dungeon Folk, McDonald moved to Bristol on the west coast, where the live folk club scene was thriving.

During her time spent there, she became what one could arguably call the farthest east “Lady of the Canyon” in the world. She started writing and performing her own music under the inspiration of Californian singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell. It’s during this period that McDonald probably met and started dating another soon to be popular singer/songwriter, Keith Christmas. They both got signed up under the management of Sandy Roberton of September Productions.

In 1970 Roberton booked time for McDonald at Sound Techniques in London (this is the infamous studio run by legends Joe Boyd and engineer John Wood) to record songs for her first album, The Shelagh McDonald Album. With this album she also worked with Nick Drake’s arranger, Robert Kirby.

The album got great reviews. Melody Maker even claimed:

We’ve been a long time waiting for a successor to Sandy Denny since she abandoned solo singing to join a band (Fotheringay), but at last, in the lovely form of Shelagh McDonald, someone has come forward to fill the solo singer’s place.

It was expected to do well because of the public’s insatiable appetite, at the time, for all things “folk.” But it wasn’t in her cards. The album was ignored by wider audiences.

In 1971 McDonald released one of the best singer/songwriter albums of all time, the exquisite Stargazer. Stargazer includes participation by such guest artists as Keith Christmas, Danny Thompson, Dave Mattacks, and Richard Thompson. There is not a single throwaway track on the entire album. It is a stunning piece of work one could easily compare to Mitchell’s Blue or Court and Spark.

In the liner notes to Let No Man Steal Your Thyme Keith Christmas talks about McDonald at the time, just after the release of Stargazer, when McDonald began to dabble in drugs.

That wasn’t really her—she was too nice for that. But she went and did an acid tab, had a bad one, and wound up in the hospital—which I can only imagine is the worst bloody place to be while tripping. Her parents came down from Scotland and carted her off—never to be heard from or seen again…”

That’s right. Shelagh McDonald disappeared forever.

In 2005 David Wells ends those same liner notes with this:

“As well as a fantastic musician, she was an amazingly nice person—an uncommon combination,” reflects Robert Kirby. Notwithstanding the fact that we’ll probably never know for certain, somehow it’s difficult not to see that remark as something approaching an epitaph.

Or so everyone thought.

In the past few years, tracks by McDonald have been popping up on all sorts of folk compilations by various tastemakers like Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley, and her story was getting a fair amount of attention in publications as mainstream as the London Times and The Independent. With 30-plus years since her last appearances, many rumors swirled around about what had happened to this beautiful and talented woman.

Check out this fan website in the internet archives to see how determined one person was to solve the mystery of what happened to McDonald.

Then read his transcription of an article in the Scottish Daily Mail here to learn what really happened to McDonald in the intervening 30 years. What an amazing story. I can’t even paraphrase it. Just go to the site and read it.

As proof as to what a talent McDonald was, I’m giving you some of my favorite tracks to sample from her second and best album, as well as a track she recorded with Keith Christmas, on my blog.

$233,078

posted by on January 30 at 12:45 PM

That’s the preliminary count on how much money the Vera Project raised this weekend at their first annual Viva Vera Auction.

The evening was pretty incredible. Going into the event, the Vera Project had already raised $1.2 million of the $1.8 million goal they set about 18 months ago. They were hoping the auction would close a big chunk of the remaining gap, and it certainly did thanks to generous donations by Sub Pop (who matched the money raised during the evening’s “Raise the Paddle” fundraiser, totaling over $100,000 for Vera) and all those who also bid generously on items like a two-week stay in a cottage in Ireland, signed Pearl Jam posters, a basket of rare Sub Pop releases, a trip to the Cayman Islands, gift certificates to local restaurants, tickets to the 2007 Grammys, and tons more.

I’ll post the final grand total as soon as all the numbers are crunched and official, but a huge congratulations goes out to Vera for meeting this incredible goal, and an even bigger thanks goes out to the people in the community who helped make it happen.

Visit www.vivavera.com for more information and updates.

Yes Way, Jennifer Holliday!

posted by on January 30 at 12:30 PM

I know this is very en retard and à l’esprit de l’escalier and Why the fuck am I using French unnecessarily?, but since I discovered this on YouTube yethhhderday, I have played it just under 10 times for myself, once for my boyfriend, and once for my girl(_space_)friend.

Because the records that existed in my household as a child can be found in the following array: (The Sound of Music, The Man of la Mancha, Amy Grant’s Age to Age), I am missing about 20 years (and a good part of the history) of standard/mainstream pop music. But something that absolutely did not escape my attention was a true and real discernment for an excellent soul/R&B/gospel singer. Was it because I was a budding heaumeau or because I am Mexican and all my friends and I were obsessed with Video Soul on BET? Whatever. Anyway…

I knew of Jennifer Holliday back in those early ’90s primarily as a sort of old-school songstress—one who would give me a taste of what singing was like when it came up out of the earth. But she always stayed in periphery. I was into more graceful stylistic devices when it came to singing—Minnie Riperton, Terry Ellis of En Vogue (mostly because they, unlike Mariah Carey, took their above-the-staff pitches in full voice, without post-prod tidying).

So nothing—NO WAY—could have prepared me for this—a live performance on the 1982 telecast of the Tony Awards of a scene from Dreamgirls. No, not that tired-assed movie that’s in theaters now; the original Broadway version, in which Jennifer Holliday created and played the role of Effie (now taken by the drab and unremarkable Jennifer Hudson). After the two-minute-plus setup, Holliday launches into her solo—her signature song hereafter, “And I’m Telling You (I’m Not Going).” This is at least one of the greatest performances of the 20th century. Holliday has a stentorian voice which she loads up, fires off, dampens, twists, stretches, and burns. To match: a masterfully shaded, pained, and powerful facial expression for every word. Her size helps her to create a character, a persona, and a performance that conjures every spirit of the theater dark and light. If you do not recognize the greatness of her gift and of this artifact, you may give up every endeavor you have ever dreamed because you have no seed and no soul. And if you do not watch her ending, you will have missed the prize altogether.

Now Mizz Hudson can be Oscar-nominated till the end of time, but remember, she recorded her performance in a studio, where you can just yell “Cut!” and try it again, both musically and dramatically. But Jennifer Holliday did this live, several performances a week, for four years. Think Jennifer Hudson could do that? In your dreams, girl.

Huge Drum Sounds, Anyone?

posted by on January 30 at 12:16 PM

The drum room at London Bridge Studios, in Shoreline, makes your drums sound like John Bonham’s. You could play a tin can in there, and it would be epic.

The room is 50 ft long by 25 ft wide by 17 ft high, with a brick wall on one end and a gymnasium wood floor. “And she’s buying a stairway, to heaven.”

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Engineer/producer, Geoff Ott, AKA “Dr. Empire,” knows the room well. He’s quick with mic placement and getting sounds. Before you know it, you’re Bonhaming straight to tape. Can you say, Neve 8048 mixing board with a Neve 1081 eq/mic pre? The board is very large and very acclaimed and makes everything very pretty.

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Photo: Dan Tyler

Some bands have recorded at London Bridge: Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Blind Melon, 3 Doors Down, and Pearl Jam.

Pearl who?

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Korn Unplugged

posted by on January 30 at 12:05 PM

Was this really necessary?

Yeah, I Like That Ashlee Simpson Song, but…

posted by on January 30 at 11:30 AM

David Schmader listens to the Backstreet Boys!

Last week, Schmader forced me to justify some of the most embarrassing songs on my iPod (well, technically my iTunes). He called me out on Ashlee Simpson, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and screamo Christmas carols.

Well in this week’s Justify Your Pod, I catch him wasting precious gigabytes on the Backstreet Boys, Ciara, M2M’s “Girl of Your Dreams,” that “Born to Add” song from Sesame Street and… Morgan Fairchild? Revenge is so, so sweet.

Click here to listen and find out what song Dave thinks was written to “hit white people’s g-spots.”

And when you’re done listening, you must enjoy “Born to Add” in its entirety.

There’s a Little Bright Spot on the Sun Today

posted by on January 30 at 11:17 AM

The Police are reuniting—“23 years after breaking up amid internal conflict”—to play at the Grammy Awards in two weeks.

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Classic Overheard at the Record Store

posted by on January 30 at 10:22 AM

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I witnessed the following scene while running some errands at Sonic Boom in Fremont:

An older, 50 to 60ish gentlemen enters the store and loudly asks, “Do you have any Kenny G?”

A record-store employee checks through the stock via computer and (clearly trying to be polite) answers, “No, not right now. I’m sorry.”

The older gentleman walks down the aisle and starts skimming through some CDs before he turns to another employee and asks, “Which Rush album is the most musical?

The employee clearly has no idea how to respond (although he almost laughs), overcome by the sheer nonsense of the statement. He (the record store employee) tries to offer a bit more information on which are the most technically impressive and accomplished of Rush’s discography while the old man tries to clarify what he meant by “musical.” The old man offers helpful descriptors like “more orchestrated” and “you know.”

After perusing the aisles quietly again, the old man asks, “Is this where the Billy Joel is at? He’s really good that Billy Joel.” An employee then shows him the proper place to find Billy Joel’s Glass Houses.

Now, it seems too clichéd to have really happened. This scenario with the clueless old man and the record-store hipster is the sort of thing you see in bad teen movies where one of the main characters (who never gets laid) is all edgy and into underground music and has to deal with this sort of zany crap all the time. It’s also the perfect setup for another sort of well-tread scene: the know-it-all record-store employee snarkily dismissing the tastes and ignorance of a clueles customer whose tastes and values are impugned as the equivalent of eating shit straight out of the toilet.

But throughout this genre exercise, the guys at Sonic Boom attempted to be as respectful of the man’s questions and questionable taste, even if at times they couldn’t disguise their confusion with the situation. The employees I talked to thought the guy couldn’t be real—that he had to be a secret shopper or something. Maybe a performance artist? The most likely explanation is that this was just a clueless old man and some clichés are clichés for a reason.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see which Rush album the old man ended up buying.

But Can She Sing?

posted by on January 30 at 8:27 AM

Hillary Clinton, on the trail in Iowa, tries her hand at the Star Spangled Banner:

Depeche Mode Goes Minimal

posted by on January 30 at 2:18 AM

Last year Mute Records commissioned remixes of Depeche Mode. Minimal techno producer Ricardo Villalobos (known for his hard-partying lifestyle as much as his extended DJ sets and productions) completed a remix of “The Sinner In Me.” At this point what’s become the legend behind this remix is that the band didn’t like the remix (it is a pretty big departure from the original), so it never saw official release. There were a few promos released however, leading to the song’s play in a number of Europe’s summer festivals and the inevitable arrival on P2P networks. It’s been getting constant play in my apartment ever since I downloaded the track for “preview purposes.”

I first heard the track in the latter portion of an 18-hour New Year’s afterparty. The song stands on its own in daytime hours, but hearing it at 3am is absolutely sublime. Like a lot of minimal, the defining feature isn’t what’s there, but what isn’t. In the full thirteen minute version, it takes three minutes before the vocals kick in, and even after that point the track doesn’t vary much, lulling you in with the pairing of the subtly-shifting beat and the now-less-brooding vocals. It makes for a completely engaging listen because you feel like “it” is just a four-count away. But it isn’t, leaving the whole track as ultimately a bit of a tease, a date that never goes beyond second base.

Here’s a snippet (but get yourself a copy of the whole song for the full effect):


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Lord Have Mercy! I Like a Gospel Album

posted by on January 30 at 12:35 AM

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Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal has a prayer of making a believer out of you.

I don’t believe in any god humanity has thrown up for worshipful purposes, but I’ve fallen hard for Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal (released last year by the excellent Numero Group label). Which goes to show the power of funk: It can seduce even this staunch atheist to repeatedly play an hour-long CD full of Jesus-big-upping lyrics (I do, however, keep a bowl nearby in case the urge to vomit becomes overwhelming).

I’ve never heard of any of the 18 artists on Good God! before this comp (whose songs span 1968-1981) came along, so Numero Group deserves major props for exposing unjustly obscure talents like Mighty Voices of Wonder, LaVice & Company, Horace Family, Preacher & the Saints, Shackleford Singers, Modulations, Brother John Witherspoon, and others. Most of these God-fearing funkateers can hold their own with their more ostensibly secular counterparts. The impressively packaged Good God! is bursting with stellar and earthy soul music; it has the power to charm even if you don’t give a damn about its “praise the lord and pass the collection plate” messages. Amen, brother.


Monday, January 29, 2007

“A”FOTD

posted by on January 29 at 6:18 PM

FACT: In addition to playing guitar and violin and writing songs for “Awesome” to perform and record, John Osebold dazzles crowds with a theremin, the electronic musical instrument you play without touching that was invented in 1919 by Leon Theremin, a Russian émigré kidnapped by Soviet KGB agents in 1938, taken back to the land of his birth, imprisoned at Butyrka under Stalin’s orders, forced into labor in the gold mines of Kolyma, then put to work doing research and development for the science wing of the Gulag, where he developed a covert listening device (a “bug”) that was secretly embedded in a wooden plaque of the Great Seal of the United States that was gifted to the U.S. Ambassador as a “gesture of friendship” by a bunch of Russian school children, after which it hung on the wall in the ambassador’s Moscow residence for 7 years, recording everything, before the CIA learned what was inside it. It took the CIA a while longer to figure out how it actually worked.

[This has been an “Awesome” Fact of the Day. Don’t miss them Thursday night at Chop Suey, where they’ll appear with a lineup of well-known pot-smokers.]

Once Again

posted by on January 29 at 3:05 PM

Girl Talk @ Chop Suey, Sat 01/27

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If someone had told me five years ago that I’d be watching 500 people lose their minds, rush the stage, mosh, and crowdsurf to one dude playing a laptop I might’ve laughed at them. Probably the first live laptop set I ever saw was Secret Mommy at the Punkin House. Secret Mommy’s Andy Dixon had some credit with the punkhouse kids for his having been in d.b.s. and Red Light Sting and for running Ache Records, so a bunch of kids who normally wouldn’t have given live electronic music much of a chance were willing to watch him do the old hunch-and-peck for an hour, but very few of them actually dance, and nobody was crowd surfing.

Secret Mommy used punk cred to sneak his laptop nerding into the basement; Girl Talk uses Top 40 pop appeal to make his productions into something like a Nirvana music video (specifically I’m thinking of the clip for “Lithium,” which when I was a kid looked like the most amazing concert ever)—dancers onstage, a sea of people moving on the floor, and an eager swarm of limbs ready to hold Gillis aloft. Make no mistake, Girl Talk is a motherfucking rock star.

But now, we must consider the Idea of Girl Talk in relation to the Idea of New Music in Time:

Gillis insists that his compositions are original music no matter what their constituent elements; his shirts proclaim, “I am not a DJ.” Girl Talk is the epitome of Charles’ “meta-music,” music which is sample-based—that is, made from other music rather than organically (let me know if I’m being overly reductive here). Charles suggests:

Burial is now the point at which the genius of meta-music has arrived from the past and from which it will depart to the future.

But Girl Talk is the absolute conclusion of meta-music, sampling, and the mash-up (a particular highlight for me was his use of the riff from Elastica’s “Connection,” itself a sample of Wire’s “Three Girl Rumba”). His work is proof that sampling and mixing are truly creative, that new music can be made from nothing more than old music, and at the same time he sets the bar so insanely high that we must consider the mash-up and the simple sample to be all but dead—a burial for Grandmaster Flash.

To see Girl Talk perform is to realize the truth of Christopher Delaurenti’s response:

Electronic-based music can be (and often is) performed live but the tools and techniques differ. Don’t ask a Juilliard trained violinist to roll off the bass, pan certain channels to the left-front and left-mid-side, re-postion the mic on a kick drum, match a beat, or hammer the faders for a lightning fast segue - all within 90 seconds in front of an eager (or at least interested) crowd.

You could hear (and from the right vantage point see) Gillis manipulating samples, matching beats, and layering sounds in real time—playing his instrument—to create new music.

Girl Talk is live.

DJ Sabzi’s Bucket of Yuks

posted by on January 29 at 1:33 PM

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Last night brought the “Week of Fun“‘s Celebrity Open Mic Night to the Comedy Underground. Among the alleged celebrities taking the stage to deliver five minutes of comedy were Stranger writers Cienna Madrid (who burned the place up with her legendary junior-high erotica), Charles Mudede (who almost killed me with his riffing on punching pregnant women), and yours truly, who read some old shit from Best Gay Erotica 1997.

Among the actual celebrities showing up to make with the funny: DJ Sabzi, aka Saba, the local hiphop hero who makes the beats for both Common Market and Blue Scholars, and who was impressively hilarious. I was about to write, “I wish I could remember some of his jokes,” but recounted jokes suck, so I’m glad I can’t remember any actual lines, just general subject matter, which included honkies, non-honkies, and the arbitrary invention of racial stereotypes. He also did funny stuff with his arms and legs.

Thank you, DJ Sabzi, for teaching a whole bunch of people crowded into a lightly smelly underground room that hiphop artistes who adhere to the Baha’i faith can also be funny as shit. (Thanks as well to the night’s real-life comedians, the majority of whom were damn funny, including but not limited to Jeff Dye, Hari Kondabolu, and that guy who read letters to Seattle celebrities who failed to show up.)

Seattle “Blipster” Speaks Out: “Not a Big Deal”

posted by on January 29 at 12:58 PM

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The dubious New York Times Style piece on “blipsters” begins with a quote from Seattle musician Douglas Martin, and now Martin responds to the NYT story:

so, i’m actually working on a piece on my band’s website about the whole article [apparently, if you found me, you know i was interviewed in it], but i’m willing to give you my take on it:

i genuinely feel that there was no harm intended for the term “blipster.” it’s just a label, and i think that just because it’s race-related [the only topic in america that is still taboo], everyone wants to get up in arms about it. do aging hipsters get offended when they’re referred to as “indie yuppies” or “yupsters”?

i’m black and i like indie-rock, that’s not a big deal. i don’t feel like i’m changing the world or “fighting the good fight” or anything. i’m a black folk-singer who is actually listening to the decemberists as i type this. it’s just who i am.

here is my band’s website. my post should be up within the next twenty minutes.

Pretty Girls Make Graves. Indeed.

posted by on January 29 at 12:00 PM

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Pretty Girls Make Graves have officially announced that their end is near.

The band just posted this announcement on their website.

“We are sorry to announce that our upcoming tour in May will be our last. Nick quit the band and the rest of us feel like it wouldn’t be right to continue on without him. The 5 of us feel very lucky to have met and worked with some truly amazing people over the years. Thank you all so much….”

May dates weren’t posted on the site, however, so I’ll post them as soon as I get them.

Second Shins Show Added

posted by on January 29 at 11:23 AM

Everyone is going nuts over the Shins’ new record, Wincing the Night Away. By popular demand, they’ve added a second show at the Paramount on February 18. Tickets go on sale on February 2, so get your Ticketmaster autodialer ready—the first show sold out in a flash. It’s 25 bucks, and Viva Voce will also be playing. Hurrah!

“Blipsters”

posted by on January 29 at 10:40 AM

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Kyp Malone is sooo blip.

Over the weekend, the New York Times broke the news that some black people make/listen to indie rock music, not just jazz and hip hop or whatever.

But 40 years after black musicians laid down the foundations of rock, then largely left the genre to white artists and fans, some blacks are again looking to reconnect with the rock music scene.

Ah yes, how noble of them to “leave” the genre to the white man. Given the need for categorizing fans based on race, the NYT rushed to deliver some nomenclature for these musically-inclined race traitors, and the word they came up with is…wait for it…Blipster! As in “Black hipster,” get it?

there is even a new word for black fans of indie rock: “blipster,” which was added to UrbanDictionary.com last summer, defined as “a person who is black and also can be stereotyped by appearance, musical taste, and/or social scene as a hipster.”

Finally! Now when I’m at a show instead of having to say “the black guy” I can just say “that blipster”—anything that keeps me from having to know people of color by their actual given names. Thank you, Urban Dictionary, and thank you tireless geniuses of the New York Times.

The Gutter is the Concert Hall

posted by on January 29 at 3:56 AM

On Saturday night, I ran into the Stranger’s Romantic (as in Brahms) circuitry clairvoyant, Christopher DeLaurenti.

While DeLaurenti certainly writes an excellent classical/experimental/head music column for us, his true talent is writing radio halo orchestrations (check out “Gray Angel for electric guitar and prerecorded sound.”)

I asked DeLaurenti what his latest was, and his answer blew my mind. Get this: He’s taken the subversive art of field recording to its perfect double reverse back flip conclusion. Rather than the “traditional” conception—Steve Reich 1960s-style or even Eno/Byrne My Life in the Bush of Ghosts style—of holding the microphone down to the gutter and bringing the sounds of the real world into the concert hall, DeLaurenti sneaked his field recording set up into concert halls and bootlegged the players as they warmed up during intermission. The result? DeLaurenti’s new CD: Favorite Intermissions. Music Before and Between Beethoven - Stravinsky - Holst

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So, you’ve got that clashing intermission ritual on record: musicians (either solo or in small groups) all going at the same time—practicing the tough phrases that are coming up in the second half of the program. improvising, tuning, or just plain jamming.

Here’s an excerpt from DeLaurenti’s essay about the project:

I have spent the last several years at orchestra concerts and ballet performances on my own singular plane of existence. Furtive, vigilant, with my eyes everywhere (for I might get caught!) and my ears carefully attuned to “playing” the orchestra, I’m on a secret mission: to surreptitiously record intermissions.

At concert halls across the country, symphony musicians often return to the stage during intermission, sometimes mere moments after the entire orchestra has officially exited. Individually or collectively, clarinetists, trumpeters, timpanists, and others warm up and work through difficult passages that await on the remainder of the program. This soundscape is not limited to American orchestras, though in my experience, visiting European orchestras, after the program’s first half, usually remain backstage until the second half of the concert begins.

Why record intermissions? One duty of the composer is to expose the unexpected, overlooked, and hidden skeins of music woven in the world around us. Culling sounds from the world as a composition subverts long-standing, essentialist notions of music as comprised of notes, melody, traditional instruments (violin, guitar, drums, piano, etc.) and so forth as well as flouts contemporary expectations of abstractly agglomerated, musique concrète-ized sound.

Throughout history, the definition of music has remained a moving target. I hope recording and presenting these intermissions in some small way abets and accelerates the ongoing re-definition of music in our culture towards moving, meaningful, coherent listening.

Making such recordings is illegal, a result of rules negotiated by the Musicians Union and various venues, yet I believe the importance of documenting these intermissions trumps antiquated copyright laws and misguided prohibitions.

Indeed, I asked DeLaurenti if he’s worried about getting sued. Nope. He doesn’t identify what recordings are what and so, no orchestra will be able to come after him.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

“A”FOTD

posted by on January 28 at 11:38 PM

FACT: Basil Harris, the bassist in “Awesome,” is married to a woman who knows how to make fawking GREAT guacamole.

[This has been an “Awesome” Fact of the Day. They play in a show on Thursday at Chop Suey with Neal Pollack, Dan Savage, and Sean Nelson. Fer free.]

Random Encounters with Young DJs

posted by on January 28 at 8:13 PM

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Within the span of an hour at Friday night’s Subtle/Truckasaurus/Pigeon John show at Neumo’s, I had inspirational conversations with two young area radio DJs. What are the odds?

The first occurred with Gavin Dahl of Olympia’s KAOS, who used to host the Yes Yes Y’all show on KBCS. He now handles three shows: Breakfast Special (music, news, Mondays 6-9 am); Movements (electronic, hiphop, funk, ska, Wednesdays 3-5 pm); Digital Crossroads (media tech activist talk show, Fridays 12-1 pm). Dahl rapped in my ear at a rapid rate about wanting to boost awareness throughout the nation of local hiphop artists. He emanated a selfless, overpowering zeal to promote Seattle’s scene. Dude seemed utterly sincere and bursting with energy and good intentions.

The second jaw-wagging session was with Alex Ruder, an intern at KEXP who also ran the electronic-oriented Something for Your Mind show for two years and then a morning variety program on UW’s Rainy Dawg until June 2005. He’s been at KEXP for a year and a half and is itching to get airtime. Meanwhile, he’s written hundreds of CD reviews for internal use among programmers. Chatting with him revealed a young man with impeccable musical taste and the sort of passion and curiosity essential for quality DJing. Ruder expressed a burning desire to fill local airwaves with more hiphop and electronic music, even if it has to be done during the graveyard shift. I have the highest expectations for Ruder; it would be nice if KEXP eventually gave him a shot on the mic.

Both of these youthful talents give one hope for the future of local radio.

Dan Savage Does a Fancy Dance Move at Chop Suey

posted by on January 28 at 3:57 PM

Here is a picture of Savage right after he did a jeté at the Girl Talk show last night. He didn’t actually stay to see Girl Talk—which is too bad, he woulda loved it since Girl Talk’s samples are familiar to everyone alive (Hall and Oates? Fleetwood Mac?)—but he was there for the opening bands. Even though the show was sold “the hell” out, there was a weird moment after the opening bands and before Girl Talk when a bunch of people left (fans of the opening bands, prolly) leaving enough room in the crowd that you could do a jeté. I said this, and then Savage—never one to miss a musical theater cue—did one. Leaped, kicked a leg out behind him, threw his arms overhead. Beautiful.

When I asked him to do another one so I could take a picture with my phone, he flipped me off.

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Yeah, it was dark. Two hours later Girl Talk dove from a table into the crowd and then his body went vertical and he was bouncing around in the human sea like an upside down tree. The photos my phone took are useless, so check out Grandy’s pictures. This one’s awesome:

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Straight Outa Kenmore

posted by on January 28 at 12:38 PM

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Notice the race car gloves.

Race car gloves denote ass kicking and mullitude.

He just got out of his Honda Accord Hatchback, and is ready to throw down.

Little Suzie’s on the Up.

Smash Your Head

posted by on January 28 at 7:00 AM

Girl Talk @ Chop Suey

(Pics now, full review soon)

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(these are dude’s shoes, he was barefoot)

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