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Archives for 08/12/2007 - 08/18/2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

the Magic Numbers @ the Croc

posted by on August 18 at 9:39 PM

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Last night’s Magic Numbers show was absolutely fantastic. If you’re not familiar, they are two brother-sister pairs from England who grew up next door to each other and now make immaculate pop/rock. Bassist Michele Stodart is probably my favorite bass player in any band right now, one of the few bass players that I feel are the main reason a band is great. They performed songs from both their albums with amazing ease - it didn’t even seem like they had to pay any attention to their instruments. Each song sounded as good or better than the recorded versions, every one with spot on three-part vocal harmonies. Both of their albums more or less start off with fast, catchy tunes and then meander into slow ballads for the second half. They mostly played their upbeat stuff (which are their really great songs), only going into a few of their super-ballads. When they closed the set with “Love Me Like You” everyone in the front half of the room was dancing and throwing their hands in the air, singing along with the band. The audience was giving the band great energy all night and the band put it right back out through their songs, especially this one, which they played faster than normal and with great intensity. This is my favorite song of theirs, and I can honestly put it down on my list as one of the best single songs I have ever seen performed live. At the end of the perfectly crafted, climaxing track my body let out a wave of satisfaction I can only describe as a sonically-induced orgasm. It was pure satisfaction.

Here’s the video for “Love Me Like You:”

and here’s one off their new album:


“You Actually Listen to That Seattle Bullshit??”

posted by on August 18 at 6:52 PM

I hadn’t watched it since I was in High School, so when Airheads came on the TV while I was cooking breakfast this morning, I caved and spent my Saturday morning doing laundry and re-discovering how stupidly hilarious (and aged) this movie is.

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I was a freshman in high school when this movie first came out and by the time I finally saw it, everyone was mourning Kurt’s death, watching Singles, and taking music (and life) really seriously. But Airheads, whether it meant to or not (but I’m pretty sure it was intentional), instead acknowledged the rock and roll lifestyle while also completely mocking it.

The premise is, should you not be familiar, a band can’t get their song played on the radio so they accidentally take a local radio station hostage. They intend to just use some fake guns, force the DJ to play the song, and then leave, but the cops come, the place goes under lockdown, the demo tape gets ruined, hostages get involved, and everything goes obnoxiously wrong while the band desperately tries everything in their power to get their song heard.

It’s got Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Judd Nelson, Ernie Hudson, Michael Richards, and White Zombie even makes an appearance. And there are so many laughable rock cliche quotes…

“Let me ask you a question: Who’s side did you take in the big David Lee Roth-Van Halen split?”
“What?
“Who’s side did you take: Halen or Roth?”
“…Van Halen.”
“He’s a cop!”

And…

“Who’d win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?
“Lemmy… God?”
“Wrong, dickhead, trick question. Lemmy is God.

And then, of course, Brendan Fraiser’s hilarious “Pity, I’m a wanna-be rockstar” rant:

“Do you know what it’s like to be on the bill and to play for 15 minutes and the only people there to see you are the other bands and their girlfriends? Don’t talk to me about rock ‘n’ roll! I’m out there in the clubs and on the streets and I’m living it! I am rock ‘n’ roll!

Next time you’re stuck at home with laundry and/or mindless work, rent it. Now, a decade and a half later, it’s so much funnier than I ever remember. It’s way better than Rockstar, at least.

Polly Doesn’t Want Kracker

posted by on August 18 at 11:31 AM

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From the Washington Post:

RALEIGH, N.C. — Uncle Kracker, a former DJ for Kid Rock, was arrested Friday on a second-degree sex offense charge. Authorities said Kracker was arrested after a 26-year-old woman alleged that he had committed a sexual act against her at a downtown nightclub.

Police detained Kracker, 33, at an Embassy Suites hotel in Raleigh. Kracker, whose real name is Matthew Shafer, was released after a district court judge reduced his bond from $5 million to $75,000.

Kracker’s hits include “When the Sun Goes Down,” a duet with Kenny Chesney.

There are also additional legal proceedings in the works to formally charge Kracker for being involved at all with Kid Rock. Class action.

Those charges might read:

Kid Rock sucks so bad it is illegal. Hereby, henceforth, irrevocably, here ye here ye. Furthermore, because the man sucks so bad, anyone who knowingly engaged or engages in music or performance with him will be prosecuted.

Chesney, you better run, boy. Pamela too.

From the mental flailings of Kid Rock’s “Cowboy Song”:

Well I’m packing up my game and I’m a head out west
Where real women come equipped with scripts and fake breasts
Find a nest in the hills chill like Flynt
Buy an old droptop find a spot to pimp

Local MCs House/Studio Fire

posted by on August 18 at 9:32 AM

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Peace to the homies in N/NW- Thursday night there was a fire at their Westlake house and recording space that has left them homeless. The story is here in the P-I(and here for video)

This, just a night before the best look they’ve yet gotten- opening up for MF Doom at The Showbox last night(MF of course cancelled, and Redman performed in his stead). Weak. Keep your heads up fellas.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Pelican @ Neumo’s

posted by on August 17 at 4:40 PM

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Growing up in Florida, you learn that a hurricane entails more than raging gusts and torrential rain. Major storms play out in a symphonic process, dramatically unfolding as they crawl scouring across the landscape: There’s the long, twilit buildup, ominous and uncanny in its stillness, there are minor movements that percolate with pelting rain or crash with falling tree limbs, there are crescendos of eerily howling winds and booming thunder, there’s the famous calm in the eye of the hurricane, there’s the renewed peace at the end. The aural dynamics of a big storm are fearful and awesome and quite entertaining—provided it hasn’t blown the roof off your house.

Pelican almost succeeded in that hurricane-like level of drama, rattling Neumo’s walls but ultimately leaving the place intact. The Chicago quartet are freakin’ loud—metal loud, thunder loud—but there’s the melody of shifting breezes and the delicacy of falling rain beneath their guitar-driven squalls. Purely instrumental, they’re out for epicness, for pure musical grandeur undiluted by words. Without vocals it’s easy for listeners to slip in or out of their music—a fact that allowed quick access into their monumental compositions, but also made it easy to lapse out of them, too. Pelican demand attentive listening for maximum effect.

And when you give it, the rewards are great. Among the crowd, there was less headbanging and more fully entranced, knee-bent swaying—if you’ve ever seen orthodox Jews in prayer, bowing their entire bodies in unison, the motion was about the same. At its best, the music was that encompassing.

Between song banter grounded the set on terra firma, but otherwise the music roared into the cosmos or crushed into the molten center of the earth. Hard to recognize songs without lyrics, though they played at least a few from their 2005 masterpiece The Fire in our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw. They’ve got a brand-new album out, too, but I have yet to hear it.

Only an hour long, the set was too short, just like the last time I saw Pelican. Music this deliberate, glacial, tempestuous—it takes time to develop, and once the storm comes you just want to be drenched to the core. Pelican shut off the tap too soon.

Nice ‘N’ Naasty

posted by on August 17 at 4:29 PM

The Salsoul Orchestra definately made it’s mark on the disco scene in the 1970’s. With classic cuts like “Runaway”, “212 North 12th”, “Salsoul Rainbow”, “Tangerine”, this 50 member orchestra became a huge influence on both disco and the upcoming “house music” scene. I think this group hit their peak with the 1978 released disco classic, “How High”. The original song was released, like many of their releases, by Salsoul Records as both the title track to their full length record, How High, and later as it’s own 12-inch single. Another solid version of the song was recently released as a 12-inch single by Suss’d Records, which consists of a seven plus minute edit by Larry Levan. This New York based orchestra which included an instrumental section, arrangers and conductors, disbanded in 1982, however, not before they left their solid imprint on the disco and house music scenes.

The Salsoul orchestra - How High(Larry Levan 12” Remix)

You’re Either Going Love This…

posted by on August 17 at 3:30 PM

or hate this!

But as a palette cleanser to all the Amy Winehouse this week I give you…

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Meco - Ewok Celebration (Featuring Rap By Duke Bootee)

“Too waaka Hans Solo
Keeba Haaba Yoda!”

Happy Birthday, Sportn’ Life

posted by on August 17 at 3:04 PM

Tomorrow night, Seattle hiphop label Sportn’ Life celebrates its fifth year grindin’ the grind by hosting a huge blowout at Chop Suey. Kelly O and Stranger-at-large Andrew Matson crashed last week’s Devin the Dude show to talk with Sportn’ Life co-CEO D.Black, Fierce Villain of Dyme Def, and the one and only Dude himself. Much slang ensues.

For the whole story on Sportn’ Life, check out Charles Mudede’s rundown in this week’s paper.

Stream the New Rilo Kiley Album

posted by on August 17 at 1:58 PM

Rilo Kiley’s latest album, Under the Blacklight, comes out next Tuesday, but you can stream it in its entirety on the band’s MySpace.

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“Portions for Foxes” was as really good tune from the last Rilo Kiley album, but I never dug past it to the rest. I never got past staring at screen shots of Jenny Lewis, actually.

Welcome Back 1997!

posted by on August 17 at 1:45 PM

Yes, it’s another post about Daft Punk. Deal with it.

Daft Punk’s Essential Mix for the BBC from 1997 has been making its way around the blogosphere recently, and I haven’t seen it here on Line Out, so here’s a link to it in case you haven’t yet downloaded it. Here’s the post that link comes from, which features a tracklisting.

Even without my renewed love for the duo, this Essential Mix is a wonderful throwback to a simpler time in dance music. It was before genres were so stratified, when a DJ was free to just DJ without concern for sticking to a signature sound. Sure, plenty of people still pull that off elsewhere, but that sure as hell isn’t happening in Seattle. Techno DJs play techno, house DJs play house, and they rarely get one another’s chocolate in the other’s peanut butter. It’s a damn shame really, since good records are good records, as this mix displays. Jumping from deep to funky to hard, Daft Punk’s mix is all over the place, including everything from disco-y jems to straight-up bangers. It’s great stuff. If all the other music posted here today isn’t enough, let this mix lead you into the weekend.

In other 1997-related news, earlier this week I bought tickets to see Underworld(!) down in San Francisco. Just another check off the list of groups I was dying to see in ‘97 that I’d long since given up on. Who’s next? Orbital? Portishead?

Geto Muppets

posted by on August 17 at 1:27 PM

My friend Sam just hipped me to a couple spoofs of the Geto Boys track I just selected as BSE(TW).

The first stars Star Wars action figures:

The second stars the Geto Puppets (namely Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Bert):

Sorry, but I had to do it for the sake of closure.

They’re both pretty funny, actually. It’s really the song—so fucking hard that to see a fuzzy muppet say “I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope” is gonna be funny.

This Week’s Setlist

posted by on August 17 at 12:51 PM

It’s ready for you, are you ready for it?

Here’s what you’ll hear:
The Little Ones - “Cha Cha Cha”
Bang the Mantra - “Endless Wanting”
The Dimes - “Forget Me”
Paris Spleen - “My Bedroom”
Sunday Night Blackout - “The Succubus”
Penetration Camp - “The Shiner”
Upwell - “Lotus”
Open Choir Fire - “Things We Have to Do”

And here’s a picture of your mom, I mean the Dimes.

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Get clicking, clickerson.

Banter Rat

posted by on August 17 at 12:02 PM

megaphone.jpgStage banter from a band is part of every show. How the singer or band engages and communicates with the audience can completely make the concert going experience. Conversely, it can also completely ruin it.

Tad was legendary for his between song dialogue. His super funnyness kept the crowd hanging and anticipating the next song break. The Posies’, Jon Auer, another gifted gabber, will string a thread of thought throughout a set, incorporating audience retorts, somehow remembering and using them four songs later.

The Saturday Knights also have finely tuned communicative instincts that make shows special, and make people at those shows feel special. They are leopards of humor - quick, nimble, and knowing when to strike.

Ben Harper, however, is a sloth. Not quick. A few Bumbershoots ago, he talked longer than he played during his Memorial Stadium set. He went on and on and on. Then there’s Axl Rose, kicking audience members in the mouth if he’s unpleased. More spectacle than special, I think. Special in a different way.

I saw a singer, this past week that topped them all. It is by far the worst stage banter I have ever seen. But it made the show, be it good or bad. After about thirteen beers, the guy took the stage. There weren’t that many people there which intensified his stumbling blabber filled attempts to be a rock star.

When the second song ended, he broke into a story about how he and his friends used to break into cars. He spilled a full cup of PBR all over his guitar player’s pedals, fumbled and said, “I hope we didn’t steal your shit.”

I thought to myself, “What a motherfucker.”

He was laughing and orating like it was a packed outdoor stadium. No one laughed. No one responded. The twenty some people there looked disgusted.

Finally, someone yelled, “You suck!”

And that he did. Big time. They broke into the next song, but it fell way flat.

Downloads To Make Your Rainy Weekend Sunny

posted by on August 17 at 12:00 PM

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Flora Purim - Sarara

Le Knight Club - Coco Girlz

Salt-n-Pepa - Push It (Donna Summer Remix)

Metro Area - Muira (L-Vis 1990’s Mums Gone To Iceland Mix)

Seldna - Yaz Gazteci Yaz

“My Mind Playing Tricks on Me” by Geto Boys

posted by on August 17 at 11:12 AM

There’s never been a song to better portray the dark side of gangsterdom than “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

This is one of those hiphop songs that you know EVERY. WORD. BY. HEART—an ensemble piece by three guys that live the life, that know the material they’re rapping from experience, that describe it in painful detail. And with a sense of humor—Willie D mistakes “three blind crippled and crazy senior citizens” for his arch-enemies.

There are so many awesome lyrical details and killer points of delivery, especially in Willie D’s verse: the way he pronounces the “W” in “sword,” for example.

I remember the first time I heard this tune—An older friend from New Jersey was visiting me in Florida, and he played it for me while we were sitting in his grandma’s car. I was immediately entranced, and I went out and bought the cassingle (that I still have, miraculously). I never got into NWA or much West Coast gangsta rap, mainly because it felt so cartoonish, caricatured, so far from my South Florida high school existence. Geto Boys certainly made larger than life music, but this track was the most real, honest, and prickly portrayal of G-ism that I’d ever heard. At the time I had just started smoking weed, at which point everyone not in your immediate weed-smoking circle becomes the enemy. Weed-headed paranoia ran rife in my crew of friends; it sounds bad, but that was part of the fun of getting high.

My favorite verse, by Scarface:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Praying for forgiveness
And tryna find an exit out the business
I know the Lord is lookin at me
But even still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift when I drive
Having fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
Then I’m worry free, but that’s nonsense
I gotta little boy to look after
And if I die then my child’ll be a bastard
I had a woman down with me
But to me it seemed that she was down to get me
She helped me out in this shit
But to me she was just another bitch
Now she’s back with her mother
Now I’m realizing that I love her
Now I’m feeling lonely
My mind’s playing tricks on me

That’s about as raw and real as hiphop can get—seeking solace at church, getting lost in thought behind the wheel, considering suicide but staying strong for family, missing the lost girlfriend… This was before “emo rap,” and this is Scarface, a motherfucking gangsta, but dude’s about as troubled as a human can be.

Interestingly, “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me” is an example of the radio edit being a stronger version than the original. A bunch of rhymes are way stronger without the profanity—“I got my hand on a chrome-plated trigger” is more descriptive than “I got my hand on a motherfucking trigger.” And in Bushwick’s final verse: “It was dark as death on the street” sounds a lot darker than “It was dark as fuck on the street.”

But that last line

“…My hands were all bloody from punching on the concrete. Ah man homie! My mind’s playing tricks on me…”

Damn! That’s hard.

And there’s no chorus! It’s all about that guitar lick, sampled from Isaac Hayes’ “Hung Up on My Baby.” That lick, and this song in general, has been sampled and suggested left and right since this song appeared in 1991, most recently by Clipse—direct descendants of Geto Boys—on Hell Hath No Fury.

A five-minute-long hiphop song with no chorus that’s totally unforgettable… minimalist, unique, one of the most visceral hiphop songs of all time—and certainly the Best Song Ever (This Week).

Readings From The Faber Book Of Pop Pt. 5: Sylvester

posted by on August 17 at 10:00 AM


It’s 1978, and disco rules. Donna Summer may be acknowledged as one Queen of Disco, but for gay men, Sylvester is the Other Queen. The falsetto singer has suddenly gone from drag infamy to hit records without giving up the gowns. “Dance (Disco Heat)” is hustling up the pop charts, and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” isn’t far behind. Sylvester and his background singers the Two Tons O’ Fun are whipping up audiences of every raced and sexual persuasion with spiritual voices and sinful rhythms. Whirling and twirling and shrieking out gospel-inflected dance floor exhortations like Little Richard’s kid sister, this San Franciscan man in glittering couture looks and sings as if he’s just seen God…boogie.

From a September, 1988 essay out of The Village Voice titled Stayin’ Alive by Barry Walters. This essay ends a week of readings from The Faber Book Of Pop.

Now it’s 1988, and Sylvester has AIDS. He’s joined the People With AIDS group of the San Francisco Gay Pride March in a wheelchair. Although he’s just 40 years old, his thinning gray hair, sunken features, and frail body make him look 25 years older. This is Sylvester’s first public acknowledgment of his illness, and the transition from glamour maven to out patient has made him almost unrecognizable. The few who spot him cry, or gasp in shock, or applaud his bravery. For almost 20 years, Sylvester has been an icon of San Francisco nightlife: outrageous, bold, proud. Today, Sylvester is a symbol of a totally different San Francisco – a gay man struggling to stay alive.

This beautiful, touching and sometimes maudlin essay replays Sylvester’s career highs and lows. How he started singing with his mother in church, how he was taken under the wing of an evangelist who molested him: “I was abused by and evangelist when I was seven, eight, and nine! He really did a number on me, but it never made me crazy. But you see, I was a queen even back then, so it didn’t bother me. I rather liked it”

He became a member of the hippy drag outfit known as the Cockettes. Eventually he recorded a few minor albums before laying down the disco gauntlet for all of the ‘Frisco queens with his hit Dance (Disco Heat). Every Record company had a gay-dominated disco department because:

The world wanted to party, and no one knew how like gay men.

Before he made his disco move, Sylvester was no of the music. “I was just not into those skinny black girl singers who would ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaaaah’,” Sylvester recalls. “I wanted some big bitches who could wail.”


But there was still something missing in Sylvester’s new r&b approach. He got what he needed from Patrick Cowley, lighting man at the City disco, the Bay Area’s largest and most important gay venue. Cowley had kept his songwriting and synthesizer experiments secret until his homemade remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” became the local rage. Impressed, Sylvester asked Cowley if he wouldn’t mind making similar synth additions to what was originally a ballad, “You Make Me Feel l (Might Real)”, and another uptempo cut, Dance (Disco Heat)”. The two songs became top forty singles and turned the next album, Step II, into gold. Sylvester had finally arrived in the lap of mainstream America, stiletto heels and all.

As Sylvester’s disco career seemed to fade, friends started to become ill with unknown, and uncommon illnesses.

”We had gone on a tour of South America around 1979 or ’80,” Sylvester recalls, “and during the tour, Patrick got sick. We all thought it was the food. When we got back, he never could get completely well again. Soon he was coming down with everything you could imagine, and no one knew why.”

Some assumed that Cowley’s illness was a psychosomatic fear of success. In truth, the possibility of never recovering drove Cowley to produce more. But he kept getting sicker, and eventually pleaded with Sylvester to unplug his life support machines. To give him something to live for, Sylvester told Cowley that he had to recover so they could record together again. Miraculously, Cowley pulled through, and for $500, the pair made, “Do You Want To Funk?”

Shortly after it became one of the biggest dance hits of ’82 and gave Sylvester the needed career boost, Cowley’s death became one of the first publicized as resulting from AIDS. “At the end, he really got bitter, “ Sylvester says. “The doctors didn’t know anything – he died of some kind of pneumonia.”


After a minor club hit in 1986 off the album Mutual Attraction:

A hacking cough cut recording sessions for the next album short. Sylvester was hospitalized with pneumonia, and diagnosed with AIDS.

About his coming to terms with the disease he says, “Who was I gonna hide the disease from? I’m gonna die from it – if indeed that’s what will happen. If I kept it a secret, what good would that do? I’ve been doing AIDS benefits for many many years, long before it became fashionable. It would be ridiculous to be secretive about it now.”

With houmour he adds: “It’s not that I didn’t want to think the worst, because I’ve been a queen long enough. I’ve been gay for 41 years – I’m 41 years old. I didn’t need to take the AIDS antibody test. I know what I’ve done. Why would I waste those $90 when I could go shopping?”

The essay ends with a note of hope.

Just as his recording of “Do You Want To Funk?” with Cowley was an attempt to give his dying friend the courage to stay alive, the second wave of success Sylvester had from that song was a symbol of the struggle to keep the party alive despite AIDS. And for a while, the politics of dancing shifted from moving ahead to holding onto the small freedoms of pleasure. Now the party lives on in picket lines, in benefits and in rallies to keep those like Sylvester alive.

Sylvester died December 16, 1988, two months after this article appeared.

At my blog, T.M.L. you can find samples of Sylvester and Cowley’s work.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lily Allen Date Canceled

posted by on August 16 at 4:21 PM

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(Image Credit: Kelly Nestruck)

Remember when this happened?

Well, now this has happened:

U.K. artist Lily Allen is regrettably postponing her upcoming series of West Coast dates. U.S. authorities revoked her work visa earlier this month when she was entering the country. The reinstatement process has proven lengthier than anticipated, thus preventing her tour from launching on September 6th in San Diego, CA.

Refunds are available at point of purchase.

Saturday Knights Two Dolla No Holla

posted by on August 16 at 3:15 PM

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The Stranger’s second installment of the Fergiliciously-named Piss Your Pants concert series goes dows tonight at the Sunset. Two bucks gets you in the door, two bucks gets you ice-cold tallboys of PBR.

Getting all medieval on your ass will be the Saturday Knights, while Locke gets funky like only whiteboy rappers can.

Last month’s PYP drew a big crowd and got bodies moving; this month’s will surely do the same.

Unfortunate Hilarious Press Release Typo

posted by on August 16 at 2:48 PM

According to the e-mail their publicist just sent me, “Saosin Announce Natioanal Headlining Tour!!”

Natioanal.

NatioANAL.

Get it? Anal?

Haha!

Sorry. Sometimes dumb things make me laugh.

Bumbershoot’s Got Talent! Do You?

posted by on August 16 at 1:45 PM

Calling all performers in the Seattle area! This is your chance to be a part of the famous Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival. “Bumbershoot’s Got Talent” is a variety show that is looking for everyone who has a 3-minute act ready to be seen by industry professionals and our panel of celebrity judges. Music, juggling, tumbling, sword swallowing, magic and anything you can do in 3 minutes – we want to see it!

Compete to be crowned “Bumbershoot’s Most Talented Without Exception!”

To apply, please send a short description of your act, including number of performers and any instrumentation to programming@onereel.org. Write “Bumbershoot’s Got Talent” in the subject line. All acts selected to audition will receive further information via email.

Auditions will be held in Seattle on Friday, August 31. If selected, you must be able to perform 3pm – 4pm all days of the Festival (Saturday, September 1 through Monday, September 3.)

Break a leg!

And whether you got talent or not, you can check out the Stranger’s Bumbershoot guide here for profiles of performers, a complete customizable schedule, and everything else you might need to survive the weekend.

We Have a Winner

posted by on August 16 at 1:26 PM

As maddogm13 posted in the comments section of this post, Amy Winehouse has canceled her tour (via perezhilton.com).

You guys called it too. In yesterday’s poll, 56% of you thought she’d pull the plug on her tour before Van Halen did.

And now I’m never going to post about Amy Winehouse again.

Gay Record Covers.

posted by on August 16 at 12:50 PM

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For a list of the 10 gayest record covers, go here!

There’s some real nice ones there! But isn’t using Sylvester a bit too obvious….

Max Roach (1924-2007)

posted by on August 16 at 12:37 PM

The great Max Roach, stalwart percussion innovator, has died. Although a seminal drummer for Charlie Parker and other bebop legends in the 1940s, Roach continued to grow as a composer and improvisor throughout his life. He ranged, risked, and explored bravely and movingly, as great artists do. One of the first truly melodic drummers, Roach is central to the 20th century impulse (think Varèse and Cage) of transforming the percussion section from mere accompaniment into an orchestra.


Max Roach

Roach’s 1960 LP We Insist! Freedom Now Suite remains an underrated piece of overtly political 20th century music. His subsequent explorations found him in straight-ahead settings (such as with Dinah Washington in 1958) to drumming atop the “I have a Dream” speech by Dr. King to duetting variously with postbop innovators who were derided by other musicians of Roach’s generation such as Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, and Cecil Taylor.

I’m a fan of his percussion ensemble M’Boom (especially the album Live at S.O.B.s) and his Double Quartet. For more, read the NY Times obit.

Psychic TV Rools

posted by on August 16 at 12:34 PM

Can I just point out how awesome it is that this week’s Turn You On column is about motherfucking Psychic TV?!! You should definitely read that shit—every word Ivers writes is the god-given truth. And if you’re still not convinced, here’s some sweet videos that should pretty much make you declare your allegiance to Genesis P-Orridge (to whom you should already be devoted because of Throbbing Gristle, of course).

“Godstar”

“Your Body”

What else could you possibly be thinking of doing on Wednesday than seeing them play?

Amy Winehouse? Mandy Moore?!

posted by on August 16 at 12:27 PM

What is this, In Touch Weekly? How about a little Line Out palette-cleanser:

This Might Affect the Results of the Poll….

posted by on August 16 at 10:38 AM

Amy Winehouse has already left rehab, says NME:

Amy Winehouse quit her rehab programme last night (August 15).

The singer who was in Causeway centre on a private island on the Essex coast, left the rehabilitation unit with husband Blake Fielder Civil via a helicopter.

After her departure Winehouse assured reporters that she was OK, explaining, “Oh my God, what the hell happened to last week? I’m fine, don’t worry.”

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She’s fine, guys. Don’t worry.

(Thanks to hot tipper Matt.)

UPDATE: Amy Winhouse didn’t quit. She just went home to get a guitar. Now we can “look forward” to her rehab inspired record, I’m sure.

Bass Pedals & White Fur

posted by on August 16 at 10:37 AM

cpb2.jpgToday we have 01:50 with bass player Eric Corson from the Long Winters. He was dialing sound on his Crumar CPB-2 bass pedals and getting ready to record.

Taking its name from founder MARio CRUcianelli, the Italian company, Crumar, did well in the ’70s and early ’80s. I picture Mario Crucianelli on a cigarette boat in the Riviera. He smokes a vanilla cigarillo and pours Courvoisier XO Imperial. It is late afternoon. Waves break. There is fresh mozzarella and white fur.

The CPB-2 is an analog bass synth, similar to the Moog Taurus pedals. Its got good, warm low end hum and that electro beehive drone. It also has good flatulent dynamics. Bob Moog himself had a hand in the design of some Crumar products.

Jazz spaceman Sun Ra played a Crumar DS-2, and Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes played Crumar’s Performer.

Here’s Eric:



More Mandy Moore…!

posted by on August 16 at 10:18 AM

There’s an interview with Mandy Moore in the music section this week.

Wait! Put down the letter bomb!

You should know, she was interviewed by the wonderfully unforgiving celeb-stalker Adrian Ryan and it’s hilarious. There are no verbose blowjobs about how the woman reinvented herself from a shallow poptart into a “legitimate” and “soulful” siren.

He is completely in love with her, though.

“HI, ADRIAN! This is Maaaaaaandy! Hi! I am REALLY excited about playing Seattle… I love—love—Seattle SO MUCH! I can’t. Even. Tell you, man!”

Whoa.

I’ve met Mandy Moore three times: twice in the summer of 2004ish, the night her film Saved! opened the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Friday night immediately following, when I caught her partying her then-rather-underage moneymaker off on the dance floor of a unnamed Seattle gay club (Neighbours). I narked on her scandalously drinky underagedness in my column, Celebrity I Saw U, the following week. Good times.

“I had such an awesome time at the Seattle Film Festival that year… it is SO MUCH better than L.A. or Sundance… it totally has its own thing going on!”

She remembers! And lies!

You can read the whole thing here.

And if that isn’t enough Mandy mania for you, Ms. Moore recently covered Rihanna’s summer 2K7 hit, “Umbrella.” Enjoy!

Readings From The Faber Book Of Pop Pt. 4: Rave

posted by on August 16 at 10:00 AM

Today I’m coming at you from the early ‘90s, in the U.K.

Rave is in its dawn, and drugs are everywhere.


From and essay called Rage To Live: ‘Ardkore Techno by Simon Reynolds in a 1992 issue of The Wire comes this great description of how raves came to be synonymous with drugs like E and LSD.

When British youth first encountered the term “acid house,” they misconstrued it. In Chicago, the word “acid” derived from “acid burn,” slang for ripping off someone’s idea (i.e. by sampling it). In Britain, it was instantly assumed that “acid” mean psychedelics. Acid house became the soundtrack to the Ecstasy Rave-olution, another prime example of British youth mis-recognising (and re-motivating) a Black American music. Hardcore techno has reversed the classic drugs/music set-up: After four years of raves, the music has evolved into a science of inducing and amplifying the E-rush (rather than vice-versa). What’s more, the vibe has changed (from transcendance to mental-manic) as pseudo-E concoctions of speed, LSD, and who knows what. The subculture’s metabolism has been chemically altered, till the beats per minute (last count: 140-150 bpm) soar in sync with pulse rates and blood pressure levels.


From an essay on clubbing as lifestyle called Outing The In-crowd by Kodwo Eshun in another issue of The Wire:

Total Clubbing Space has arrived. It’s now possible to step into a club on Friday night and emerge 50 hours later on Monday morning, fit and—chemically?—readied for work. This is the new clubbing regime, courtesy of the updated licensing laws: along with juice bars, cinemas and board games, and environments which incorporate both boredom and frenzy, relaxation and euphoria. The tradition of the week-ender, that exclusive all-out rush, has been modified and democratized—everyone is invited, week in, week out.


And last from a 1994 article in the Observer Life by Andrew O’Hagan called Passing Poison about the death of drug culture and a select few of its participants.

James McCabe was already dead on arrival at North Ayrshire General Hospital, late on Saturday 10 September, after a night spent at the Metro. A 21-year –old DJ from Glasgow, he was often to be seen at techno-dance events and popular hardcore raves around Strathclyde. James had his own band, Reactive Bass, specializing in what one Glasgow magazine called “the sound of full-throttle techno terror.” In an interview given to the magazine, James, concerned at the deaths of three young ravers at the Hanger 13 club in Ayr earlier in the summer, advised his band’s fans to “take your time, life is for living.” On the night he died, the Metro was said to be especially chaotic, more than usually “mental.” Though toxicologists have still to prove it, those who hang around the club, the kids who take the drugs and know the scene, say James snorted between three and four large, broken-down tablets of what he believed was Ecstasy. He was spotted shaking and sweating at the side of the dance floor, and later collapsed. Three other punters took ill at the club on the same night, but signed out of hospital once they were in the clear.

So what is happening, why has the rave scene—formerly so florid and replenishing, so clever and communal—become the aggressive, crazy, and now and then deadly thing that it has? Half a million or so people are into it; why is something so apparently exuberant and lively now charged with such negativity? Why do people die?

Former and occasional clubbers now talk about “good E” the way some people talk about lost innocence. You can’t get it back. But the rave scene goes on, as it probably should, on its own terms. I suppose each new generation, or each coming phase of generation, should be free to choose its own poisons. It’s just that nobody really expects to die. In Amsterdam, little labs sit at the side of some clubs, cutting samples off the drugs that people buy, checking them, telling people what they are, warning them if they’re unsafe. In Britain, the children choose their poison in the dark, waiting for someone to kill them.

Samples which correspond with the above images can be found at my blog, T.M.L., here.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It’s So Good To Know

posted by on August 15 at 4:28 PM

About a year ago, Suss’d Records (who’s responsible for many of the Classic Salsoul Releases and compilations) released a 4 song EP entitled, Deep Disco Culture Vol 1: Underground Disco Rarities & Future Club Classics which featured some really rare disco classics. Some of these hard to find songs featured on this EP include Peter Brown’s production of “It’s So Good To Know” by Best Friend Around, along with The Miami Disco Band’s 1979 Salsoul classic “(I wanna) Go home with you” which was mixed by the legendary Tom Moulton. The rest of the record consists of some solid disco tracks, including Lemon’s “Freak On” and Shift’s “Roller Rink Funk”. Suss’d Records does a nice job once again in putting together a solid collection of some rare disco classics.

The Miami Disco Band - (I Wanna) Go Home With You
Best Friend Around -It’s So Good To Know

Overheard in the Office

posted by on August 15 at 4:10 PM

Christopher Frizzelle: What’s the story with Def Leppard?

Jonathan Zwickel: “Uh, they have a drummer with one arm.”

Christopher Frizzelle: “Do they suck?”

Jonathan Zwickel: “No! They rule! They’re fucking Def Leppard!”

Mudede’s Mix (I Hope He Doesn’t Kill Me For Posting This)

posted by on August 15 at 2:58 PM

Last Friday, as things around the office were winding down, Charles Mudede started playing DJ with, I assume, his iTunes. His set started with the Mr. Rogers theme song but he eventually played some good songs.

Like this…

This…

And this…

Van Halen vs. Winehouse: The Race to Inevitable Doom

posted by on August 15 at 1:10 PM

Earlier this week Van Halen announced a reunion and national tour with original singer David Lee Roth. That same day it was announced that Amy Winehouse is, in fact, in rehab for alleged cocaine and heroin addiction.

AmyWinehouse.jpg

Both artists are supposedly hitting the road (Halen has a December Seattle date, Winehouse a September one) and both artists are big balls of disaster. Winehouse is battling addiction and who knows if she’ll survive/get out of rehab in time/be healthy enough to tour come time to climb on the bus, and Van Halen, well, Van Halen and David Lee Roth have tried this before (a number of times) and it’s never actually happened.

vanhalen.jpg

The likelihood of either artist successfully playing even one tour date is slim, but I wonder, who do you think will pull the plug first?


Deadline Trancing, pt. 2

posted by on August 15 at 12:50 PM

Last week, when my mid-week deadlines rolled around, I gave myself up to the epic, sun-worshipping madness of Bordedoms’ Rebore Vol.0: Vision Recreation by EYE. And, damn that’s a good album. But this week, I’m sinking deep into the Field’s From
Here We Go Sublime
. It’s combination of cool, soothing tones and steady, pulsing beats makes it perfect for the insane work day—it’s both calming and propulsive. Lately, I’ve been geeking out on how each of the album’s sprawling songs are built from just a few choice, ultra-short samples, often culled from AM cheese (Lionel Richie) or at least highly recognizable pop (“I Only Have Eyes For You”). It’s a simple technique that yields complex, shifting compositions. Here’s a clip of the Field’s Axel Willner playing live (there’s not much to see, but it’s an easy way to get audio up here; anyone who saw him at Broken Disco recently knows that the live show sounds pretty much exactly like the record but with more bass thump, and that’s fine):

Open Choir Fire’s Music Isn’t Really So Terrible

posted by on August 15 at 12:25 PM

openchoir.jpg

Open Choir Fire are this week’s Band of the Week. Here’s why:

First of all, as their Stranger Bands Page attests, a drunk guy once told them they “are all scientific and shit like the Sea and Cake, except not so pussy!” One point.

Secondly, the first song they have posted, “Things You Have to Do,” reminds me of a more post-rock Mclusky via D.C., and I really like Mclusky, and I really like post-rock from D.C. Two points.

With the first song going over well, I listened to the next song, “Candle,” and that boasts a little more of a Jawbox vibe, and I love Jawbox. Three points.

While I do hear tinges of those bands in their sound, they’re not rippin’ anything off. In fact, the band claims to be inspired by a whole range of artists like the Pixies, Talking Heads, and Fugazi, and I can hear elements of all those artists in just the few songs they’ve got available, but they’re all done with the band’s own style. Four points.

Finally, they’re funny and they put up with my fangirl questions. Five points, FTW!

openchoirjump.jpg

So, like, what’s your guys’ favorite color?
The color of the eyes of each of our respective love interests at the time of this email. That was easy.

What’s your idea of the perfect date?
I know what’s NOT the idea of a perfect date. Going out alone with the fucking band after the West Seattle show last Friday and getting much more drunk and unable to make a coherent decision than was necessary at that stupid restaurant/pizza place/meat market where the tequila girls were who don’t speak English and give out shitty straw hats and touch my shoulder and I don’t want them to and my step-brother-in-law keeps buying rum and cokes we ended up putting in Amo’s Nalgene and then we spend an hour walking around looking for some karaoke bar that Brian doesn’t know where it is and I spend the whole time, when we find it, standing on the dance floor making the hand signal for “Terry Cry” and then being sick on the way home and we can’t make it to the bank on Saturday morning like we planned.

If you (as a band) were being cast off to a deserted island for a year and were only allowed to take two instruments to make music with, which would they be?
I thought about this one hard. If you are on a two engine boat (like one of those decent sized cruisers, doesn’t need to be a yacht) you can listen to how the two tones that the engine make mingle with each other, often getting so close in frequency just so close to unison that you get those cool “beats” in the tones and then every so often they are in unison and it’s quite a release. So by that measure you could say that an engine is an instrument and therefore we would take two engines with us to the deserted island and I’d take one and Brian would take one and use it to build two motor boats get off the island and we’d promise to send someone back to get Amo later because he writes most of the lyrics.

Do you think lolcatz are funny? (www.icanhascheezburger.com, for example.)
I’ve never heard of this before. “lolcatz” are just pictures of cats with funny captions? In that case, absolutely. I actually have a poster up above my drum set in the practice space, you know the one, the kitty is hanging from a tree branch by one claw and the caption says, “Oh, Shit.” Sometimes that’s how I feel inside, you know, and I’m sure it’s true for a lot of people you know, how at times you feel you’re just barely hanging on to sanity and you know that you’re just about five seconds away from your whole life falling apart and everything going to shit and it’s a terrible feeling. I got that poster in Rome on the first day I met Chris Hacker who does all our art work. He’s a nice guy, you’d like him. Thoughts like that are what bring people back from the brink and that help that little kitty to find the strength to pull itself up back on the branch and get back in the ring, as it were. You’ve got to make sure you surround yourself with good people who care about you, Megan.

Tell me a story about something crazy or fun or weird that has happened on the road or at a show.
I have video footage of the first night of our last tour somewhere in SW Washington of Amo waking up after sleeping in a barn and having covered himself in hay to keep warm. He looks like he’s a newborn fetus coming out of the womb. I swear it is the funniest thing I have ever seen in my entire life. I should post it on a website, oh man, it’s funny.

Finally, why should people go to your page and listen to your music?
We need the money for the tour and all in all I’d say the music isn’t really so terrible that you couldn’t at least listen to it while your doing dishes or something you don’t like doing already. We actually like it.

Open Choir Fire play their tour kick-off show at Jules Maes Thursday, August 23.

Reggie Watts - “What About Blowjobs?”

posted by on August 15 at 11:37 AM

Horace Andy Misses Gig

posted by on August 15 at 10:26 AM

51303_lg.jpg

Tonight’s humongous roots reggae bill at Neumo’s—Riddim Twins Sly & Robbie, plus sweet-soul vocalist Horace Andy—just took a blow. According to show promoter Papa Far-I of Culture Yard International, Horace Andy will not be appearing because of problems entering the U.S. Details are unclear.

Local dancehall MCs Collage and Indio will take the stage at 10 pm; Desdemona, a hiphop/spoken word outfit from the Midwest will hit at 10:30; and Cherine Anderson, Jamaican film star and dancehall princess, will perform with Sly & Robbie.

Far-I says he is trying to work out a lower ticket price due to Andy’s absence.

Fact is, even minus Horace Andy, Sly & Robbie will make for an epic night of roots, dancehall, drum ‘n’ bass, and general skankadelic vibes.

Stream the New Minus the Bear Album

posted by on August 15 at 10:22 AM

minus%20the%20bear.jpg

Planet of Ice won’t officially be released until the 21st, but you can stream the whole album via MTVU by clicking here.

MTVU also has the band’s new video for the song “Knights.”

The band are playing an 11 pm in-store at Easy Street Records (Queen Anne) on Monday the 20th, which will be followed by a midnight sale of Planet (you’ll be able to pick up a limited edition of the disc with bonus tracks), and the next night, Tuesday, the Vera Project and Suicide Squeeze host Laser Minus the Bear at the Science Center’s Laserdome.

Duuuuude.

Readings From The Faber Book Of Pop Pt. 3: Burnouts and Metal Heads

posted by on August 15 at 10:00 AM

It’s Thursday afternoon. After-school activities are in progress.

A group of about seven teenagers are sitting around a truck in front of the 7-Eleven. Burnouts. I know from the pose, the clothes, the turf. Yep, in another age they’d be hitters or greasers or hippies or heads or freaks. On another coast – they’d be stoners. Archenemies of jocks, dexters, rah-rahs or socs for all eternity.

So begins the exerpt from Donna Gaines’ book, Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia’s Dead-End Kids from The Faber Book Of Pop. This rather brilliant description of life in the hinterworld during the late ‘80’s is nothing short of breathtakingly “on”.

I knew these kids. I was friends with these kids. But I wasn’t one of these kids. I was the faggy little goth boy that a select few of these kids miraculously chose to protect in high-school. My junior and senior yearbooks still show the loopy, heart-inflected signatures and goofy drawings of these kids. “TTFN – BF4E” “English Blows! And you do too Fag! JK! (Heart) U!”

Guys with earrings, crucifixes, long hair hanging over a concert shirt or a hooded sweatshirt. Walking in threes with boom boxes blasting AC/DC, Bon Jovi, or Zep. Suburban rocker kids are patriotic – everyone wears denim jackets (a prized commodity among international rocker youth, proof of America’s pop-cultural world supremacy). Back panel is painted, a shrine to on’e most beloved band: Iron Maiden, Metallica, The Grateful Dead.

Ladies have bi-level haircuts. Long shags blown, sprayed, clipped to one side, teased, sometimes bleached. Grease & glamour. Where Farrah and Madonna meet Twisted Sister. Bergen Mall trendy, buy informed by the careful reading of albums and metal magazines. Earrings, junk jewels, eye makeup, leggings or spandex pants. Oversized cotton shirts hang down past a more stylized, unpainted denim jacket. Heavy cotton athletic socks slouch over whit or black leather ankleboots or white sneakers

Okay who didn’t know these kids in the ‘80’s, or better yet, if you didn’t know them, who wasn’t harassed by a group of these bad-ass, pot-smoking danger children.

There’d been a little mass suicide of four friends in a small city called Bergenfield, and Gaines is there to try to get to the bottom of why four teenagers, with seemingly nothing to lose, nothing to be so upset about would take their own lives.

Nicky slaps his girlfriend Doreen on the ass. A few feet away, out by the main road, another girl walks by. She hurries past the store. She is spotted by Doreen. Her friends, Susie and Joan, rush over to her. “You going to fight her?” Doreen knows that Nicky went with her the other night. She’d like to kill her. Bitch. Nothing happens. This is my first introduction to the girls.

We settle in. I say that I’m not really interested in interrogating them about the suicide pact. I understand they are sick of the reporters. I explain that I wanted to check out the town, to know what it’s like to be a “burnout”. Nicky understands my purpose at once. Pointing to his friends, he says, “yeah, well, you got the right ones” No doubt about it; They are “burnouts”

Of course the conversation turns to more important things….

Nicky and Doreen are making out. The Bon Jovi tape plays “Runaway” on the truck’s stereo. I check out the system. Impressive! More talk about music. We compare favorite bands. I ask if they like Metallica. Heads bang back and forth and we play air guitar “Batterrreee!” Nicky figures yeah, if I like Motorhead, I’d probably like Metallica. We are now at a regional hardcore- heavy metal – thrasher convention. What goes on next is a rock and roll version of “Paison…landsman…you like Anthrax?” You sniff out cultural heritage. Then you talk. You either know it; or you don’t; you can’t fake it.

Eventually conversation rolls around to what it always seemed to roll around to in the late ‘80’s. Hatred of authority and how to deal with them, whether they be parents, principals or cops.

”I know, but what can you do about it?” Joe asks. Doreen and Nicky come up for air, he taps me. “Hey, don’t you like us?” He’s insulted, I’m ignoring them! “I’m being respectful, you’re on a date.” He laughs. “A date!” And offers me gum.

I get serious. “You have to fight back.” Joe asks me how. I have no answer but I have to answer Joe. “I don’t know, but you can. You have to, or they win. They get to write history.”

Photo stills and video clip from Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

Go to my blog, T.M.L., here, to check out some audio samples from the golden age of metal.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Raving on NPR

posted by on August 14 at 9:08 PM

They’re talking about techno on KUOW right now. 909s, 808s, 303s. It’s a Canadian public radio program, so it’s overly earnest and lame (like someone will say sample and there will be an echo delay that goes “sample sample sample”), but still. Techno!

Update: Okay, sorry. I tried. I like public radio. But this show is just terrible in every way. Sorry.

“Soul Flower Remix” by the Pharcyde

posted by on August 14 at 2:53 PM

Another month, another wedding. No Talking Heads this time around—my guy Ari and his new wife Ani are more into the funk/soul/hiphop vein. The reception’s outdoor dance floor was set up by the Mackenzie River, 40 or so miles outside of Eugene, OR—prime real estate for watching the Perseids shoot across an inky black sky while boogying to Stevie Wonder.

Celestial bliss, sure, but the asteroids shook hardest when the Pharcyde’s “Soul Flower” came on, the high point of an already sky-high party. The final cut off the Delicious Vinyl re-release of Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, “Soul Flower” might be the most relentlessly upbeat hiphop track of all time. (Only “Scenario,” another ensemble pass-the-mic jam, comes close.) It’s all about those keyboard chord vamps—where the hell is that from? Is that a sample of the original Brand New Heavies version? Because it kills.

Lyrically:

Souped on the beat like a bowl of chicken noodle
I love Spanish dishes, but no I’m not Menudo.

and

I got more flavor than 7-11 Slurpees
If Magic can admit he got AIDS, fuck it—I got herpes.

Oooooh…

Let Them Sing it For You

posted by on August 14 at 2:36 PM

A reader just sent along the link to the coolest website in the world (for the next five minutes, at least).

It’s called Let Them Sing it For You. You type in the words, click the button, and your words get turned into a song using bits of lyrics from other songs. So far I’ve heard UB40’s “Red, Red, Wine,” A-Ha’s “Take Me On,” Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” New Order’s “Blue Monday,” Extreme’s “More Than Words,” the Temptation’s “My Girl,” and a bunch of others.

Also, props to them for using “Mellow Yellow” for the word yellow instead of that Coldplay shit.

UPDATE: Damn! Had I been paying attention, I’d have seen that Matt Corwine posted about this already. Still, maybe you missed it the first time around like I did. Maybe.

Re: Speaking of Tom Gabel

posted by on August 14 at 1:28 PM

So, Tom Gable, lapsed anarchist frontman of major label “punk” rockers Against Me! sees some defaced article about his band, tears it down (‘cause there’s nothing punks hate more than free speech and graffiti), and proceeds to rough up a kid who dares challenge his behavior? What a fucking douchebag. I’ll always cherish the couple of awesome Against Me! shows I was a part of, but this shit just makes me glad I gave up on them around …As The Eternal Cowboy. Reinventing Axl Rose indeed!

Compress This

posted by on August 14 at 1:25 PM

It’s bad enough that I have to keep my technophobic parents away from things like antivirus software installations, printer setups and CD burning. Looks like I have to keep them away from the Seattle PI as well.

An article in yesterday’s edition examines the world of compressed music, and it’s full of complaints about the sound of MP3s being inferior to “uncompressed” CDs. The basic premise: Those MP3s hold only 10% of the actual song! You ain’t hearin’ shit! Blow up your computer and shop at Borders! The author even goes so far as to get a doctor’s opinion:

“Poorer-fidelity music stimulates the brain in different ways,” says Dr. Robert Sweetow, head of the University of California-San Francisco audiology department. “With different neurons, perhaps lesser neurons, stimulated, there are fewer cortical neurons connected back to the limbic system, where the emotions are stored.”

It’s as close as Joel Selvin gets to research and analysis in his journey of misinformation. Sadly, the people most likely to be confused and scared off of MP3s by the article are the ones who hate computers already and read the paper edition. They won’t enjoy the article’s bustling, online comments thread which clarifies many of the article’s wrong points.

I didn’t need to scroll down 16 comments to remember how MP3 compression actually works. The concept isn’t even full of high-level scientific mumbo-jumbo. Bottom line, MP3s can be so small because they cut out what the human ear can’t hear. Strip out super-high and super-low frequencies, and our ears still receive the exact same information.

Would’ve been good to include that basic fact, let alone ask audiology expert Sweetow whether the brain actually processes those impossible-to-hear frequencies (though the word “impossible” leads me to a certain conclusion). It might’ve also been good to remind readers that CDs use compressed digital audio as well, perhaps scaring everybody back to the clear, analog world of vinyl. And it might’ve been great to follow this unsubstantiated claim—“For digital audio to substantially improve, several major technological hurdles will have to be cleared”—with the ways that it already has.

I’d continue with conjecture about this article being part of a conspiracy plot by the confused, idiotic RIAA to sell more CDs, but Mom just called in a panic. She says she can’t find the Start button anywhere on her keyboard. UGHGHGHQ#W$%GKGHGH.

Amy Winehouse WILL Go to Rehab

posted by on August 14 at 12:36 PM

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Says TMZ.com:

Vampy trampy Amy Winehouse and new chav hubby Blake Fielder-Civil had a real rock-and-roll honeymoon –- a trip to rehab for alleged heroin and cocaine addiction. Party on!

Whinin’ Winehouse and Doherty-lite, according to a report in the Mirror, agreed to attend rehab after watching their fathers come to blows over their supposed shared addictions.

So that’s how the couple stays so thin…

TMZ has more.

Illegal Leak of the Week: Magik Markers, Boss

posted by on August 14 at 12:34 PM

Don't pee harder than 45 MPH, man

Used to be, you had to trip at least a few balls to dig what Magik Markers were smoking. The immature sludge, noise and cackling that composed the Hartford, CT band’s limited releases on such labels as Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace was certainly better suited for a sweaty stage than the home hi-fi. And even then, their buck-wild performances didn’t exactly make up for Jandek-ian guitars and histrionic yelps.

Last week, my most trusted stoner-droner of a buddy insisted over IM that I give the Markers’ new leaked record a shot, assuring me that Boss “actually has songs.” And wouldn’t you know it—my buddy was sober for long enough to type the truth. The material on this album is so captivating, I’ve barely touched the other candidates for leak of the week, choosing instead to sit with my hi-fi and dwell in the psych-drone cave of singer/guitarist/pianist Elisa Ambrogio.

Sonic Youth comparisons will come by the dozen with Lee Ranaldo’s name attached as producer, and with Ambrogio’s talk-and-cry vocals sounding the faintest bit like Kim Gordon, but the two acts’ avant-rock similarities end there. Boss is a neo-psych zig to SY’s art-punk zag, and the spare sound of Ambrogio’s guitar compositions, occasionally supplanted with thudding piano and lingering, background feedback, lends her poetry an appropriate sense of isolation. Nine-minute opus “Last of the Lemach Line” unravels by the minute, starting with somber singing and effortless strums and eventually descending into an explosion of feedback, cymbals and strained cries that make Ambrogio sound like she’s been pinned to a cross—“My mouth is open to show I’m hungry, all that peace just aches for the enemy, I stare crazy at things like they don’t see, I’m going to eat them up before they eat me.” Unlike similar, Velvet-loving groups of late like the Black Angels, this duo casts drone apathy to the side so they can heap on tension and make the noise tell a story of its own.

Mark your calendars for their October 10 show at Sunset Tavern; something tells me the duo’s sloppy, buck-wild nature hasn’t gone away yet, but at least fans will have actual songs to request.

First Shows at Showbox Sodo Confirmed

posted by on August 14 at 12:07 PM

Looks like they’ll have to have the renovations done by the fifth of October:

Friday October 5th - At Showbox SoDo, 1700 1st Avenue S. – Mike Thrasher presents DOWN. $28.00 advance at Ticketmaster. $30.00 day of show and at the door. Doors at 8pm. All Ages.

AND

Wednesday October 10th – At Showbox SoDo, 1700 1st Avenue S. – Mike Thrasher presents UNDEROATH with EVERY TIME I DIE, POISON THE WELL and MAYLENE AND THE SONS OF DISASTER. $19.00 advance at Ticketmaster. $21.00 day of show and at the door. Doors at 6:30pm. All Ages.

One thing that’s nice about the former Premier space (and there aren’t many things) is that it’s built the right way to have all the large shows there be all ages. Hooray for the young ‘uns!

UPDATE: They also just announced
The Pogues-Oct 17, $50/$60, all ages
Dashboard Confessional- Oct 21, $25/$29, all ages
Brand New, Thrice, Mewithoutyou- Oct 29-30, $23.50/$28, all ages
The Hives- November 1, $12/$15, all ages

Speaking of Tom Gabel…

posted by on August 14 at 11:52 AM

Via Punknews.org:

Sources are reporting that Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel was arrested last night in Tallahassee, Florida on a charge of battery after allegedly “smashing a man’s head against the counter of a coffee shop.”

The Tallahassee Democrat is reporting that Gabel tore down an article about his band that was hanging in the coffee shop. The clipping was reportedly defaced to mock the popular punk act. This lead to an argument with a patron who had asked Gabel why he tore the article down. The Democrat reports that Gabel started yelling at 22 year old Jared Smith, who backed away from the confrontation stating “This conversation is over.” Witnesses report that Gabel replied “I don’t think it is” and knocked a cup out of Smith’s hand. Smith told police that Gabel then grabbed the back of his head by his neck and forced his head into the wooden counter. A barista reported that a third individual then “came into the cafe, put Gabel in a headlock and headbutted him.” That man left the scene soon after.

Gabel admitted to police he intentionally knocked over the cup but denied hitting Smith, who did not suffer injuries. Smith told police that he was “more upset and scared than hurt.” Gabel was taken in by the Leon County Sheriff’s office after the band’s scheduled performance that night and released this morning on $500 bail.

The tour will seemingly go on as scheduled as the band continues to support their major label debut, New Wave.

Arthur & Yu’s Jacket

posted by on August 14 at 10:53 AM

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I received a letter from someone who thought Grant Olsen from Arthur and Yu was Jim James from My Morning Jacket.

The song is Arthur and Yu’s, “Come to View”. A beautiful, hearkening song. Grant and Sonya Westcott’s harmonies are natural and dream like. The song glides.

I gave it a comparative listen though, and do hear the Olsen – James similarities. Olsen would not be the first person to sound like Jim James, as has been previously documented.

The person who wrote me had been listening to KEXP, heard the song, and thought that it was new My Morning Jacket. They felt a bit duped by Arthur and Yu. “The vocal tone, the inflection, and use of reverb are straight Jim James. What a rip-off.”

I replied that Arthur and Yu have a female counterpoint, and that MMJ bring a little more rock. I also asked him if he had heard any music from the 60’s.

What do you think? Is Olsen copping James too closely? Or is that a tired, pointless comparison?

Readings From The Faber Book Of Pop Pt 2: Boy George

posted by on August 14 at 10:00 AM

During the 80’s the single star who seems to get the most attention in the The Faber Book Of Pop is none other than that nice young gentleman from South London, Boy George. There are roughly 4 articles in the sections about the rise of pop music during that decade which are about George O’Dowd.

Boy George, as we all know, was the lead singer of the group Culture Club whose rise to superstardom was fast and easy during the early 1980’s due to their massive hits, including Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?, Time and Karma Chameleon. The British loved them. “Loved” may be the wrong word, for Culture Club, and more precisely Boy George, were worshipped. Fans copied every ill-seeming fashion move George seemed to make. Long braids: check. Top hat: check. Extreme, black eyebrows: double check.

I’m highlighting two essays today about Boy George. The first comes from the fleet street tabloid The Sun. It’s an interview with George at the peak of his popularity by “journalist” Judy Wade from October, 1982 titled Mister (or is it Miss?) Weirdo

He is No. 1 in the charts an they call h im the Gender Bender. He is the sensational singer who looks like a girl, sounds like a fella and behaves like something strangely in between.

So when George O’Dowd fronts his group Culture Club on tonight’s Top Of The Pops you can be forgive if you are confused.

Is this prettily painted creature with flirty long lashes pouting over the microphone actually a bloke?

“I couldn’t care less if people think I’m a girl”, George, 21, says with a giggle.

The “interview” is one of those brilliant, classic quickies the british press do so well. They talk to you for hours, and hours, then pull together your best quotes from when you finally let down your guard for a piece of sensationalist and blunt reportage.

”I’m working so hard at my career that I’m too exhausted by the time I fall into bed for any of that. I lost my virginity with a girl when I was 16, but sex has never been an obsession with me. It’s just like eating a bag of crisps. Quite nice, but nothing marvelous. Sex is not simply black and whit. There’s a lot of grey.

You can thing what you like about me. I’m not bothered.”

There’s even a cheeky little snippet with his mother, the amazing liberal-minded Dina O’Dowd. She says:

”People do nudge each other and make owful comments when they see him. ‘Doesn’t he look like a girl?’ they say to me.

My answer is always, ‘Yes. I’ll bet a lot of girls would like to look as good as George does.’

But I don’t think he is homosexuall. Anyway, who he chooses to sleep with is his business.

He has always been such a loving son. He phones me very day and visits us every weekend.”


So… What the hell happened?

From a feature in the Sunday Times (a more reputable, less frantic paper) in April of 1987 called Poor Boy, Rich Boy George which details his fast decline into repeated drug abuse:

In Paris, George, now world famous, was the centre of attention among models, photographers and hangers-on, all of them sharing cocaine. At a nightclub, a photographer palmed him a packet of heroin, which he snorted for the first time. He was violently sick, but not discouraged. Within a month he was taking up to a gramme a week. Soon it would be more.

It details the things that started to become more obvious to the world at large, a Boy George that was ballooning in popularity, hubris and weight, was more frequently getting caught doing things the public in general didn’t approve of. Among the unsuccessful trips to detox there was reportage of something I had completely forgotten about. A friend of George’s, Michael Rudetsky a supposed ex-junkie, had come to London to help George record a new solo album. His management was skeptical, but let them start to work together.

(Rudetsky’s) behaviour the following day was to give more cause for concern. In rehearsals at a studio in Brixton he began drinking heavily and passed out. George poured a carton of orange juice over him to revive him. They returned to George’s Hampstead house. At midnight, George left to go to his other home in St John’s Wood, leaving Rudetsky with (George’s) brother Kevin. Later Kevin, too, left. He returned at 4:45am, drunk, to find Rudetsky’s corpse in the lounge.

The inquest recorded death by misadveture, after his body had been found to contain a fatal level of morphine. No explanation was given about where he had acquired it.

By Christmas of 1986 George had finally seemed to get himself into order, joining a Buddhist group in London.

”What I went through was terrible: physical fits, being jerked about and having no control over my body; screaming at people and throwing things. To want to go through that again, you would have to be crazy.”

He performed in a musical pantomime of Alice in Wonderland and the interview ends on a hopeful, determined and, in the end, telling note.

…there was a line from one of the songs that kept running through his head, and runs there still. “People who live in glasshouses,” it goes, “shouldn’t…” Just shouldn’t.

Samples of Culture Club’s music from these two periods can be found my blog, T.M.L., here.

Van Halen to go on a reunion tour. Again. With David Lee Roth. No, seriously this time.

posted by on August 14 at 9:46 AM

Here’s the BBC:

Legendary rock band Van Halen have confirmed they will reunite with the group’s original singer, David Lee Roth, for the first time in 22 years.

The Chicago Tribune has more analysis:

A few attempted reunions went bust, most recently last January. An expected tour announcement was derailed when guitarist Eddie Van Halen entered a rehab clinic for undisclosed reasons in March.

Despite racking up more No. 1 hits on Billboard’s mainstream-rock chart than any band, and releasing two 10-million-selling albums (Van Halen in 1978 and 1984 in 1984), the quartet has had a fractious history. After Roth was fired in the mid-’80s, he was replaced by Sammy Hagar, who parted ways with the band a decade later. Van Halen regrouped to record new music with Roth, only to have that brief reunion dissolve in acrimony. Gary Cherone took over as vocalist, and lasted for one album before being ousted in 1999. Hagar came back aboard for a reunion tour in 2004, and then split again. The lastest twist is that founding bassist Michael Anthony has been given the boot, and Van Halen’s teenage son, Wolfgang, has replaced him.

More internal politics could be read into the four-page press release announcing the tour from the tour promoter and two public-relations firms. The release mentioned neither Hagar nor Anthony, and focused exclusively on the six albums the band recorded with Roth from 1978 to 1984, even though the band subsequently scored nine Top-40 hits with Hagar.

Though the band has not recorded an album of new material since 1998, the renewed ties with Roth are expected to command instant sell-outs along the lines of the current Police reunion. The arena tour with Hagar three years ago brought in more than $54 million.

Here’s David Lee Roth at the press conference:

Roth clarified, “This is not a reunion; this is a new band.

And:

Roth promised that the reunited Van Halen would not disappoint. “The bar is set unbelievably high,” he said. “We know what your expectations are. Are you prepared for it to be better than it ever fucking was?

Van Halen’s Seattle stop is Key Arena in early December.

New Against Me! Video (Or, Why I Will Consider Giving Up Straight Edge)

posted by on August 14 at 9:30 AM

BEGIN POST

Against Me! has released their new video for “Thrash Unreal,” the catchiest song (and one of my favorites) on New Wave. Check it out.

And if you want more Against Me!, check out Ari Spool’s #1 Fan interview with the band from the Block Party. It’s quite funny.

END POST

Now aren’t you proud of me for not using this Line Out post to verbally drool all over the fact that a) Tom has his shirt off the whole time and b) he’s being doused with wine in slow motion? Yeah, I’m proud of me too. But if there was ever a reason to start drinking, a shirtless, wine-soaked Tom might be it. Ahem, sorry. I’m kidding of course. I’m totally kidding.

Fiddy vs. Kanye

posted by on August 14 at 9:00 AM

This tidbit has been making its way around the blog circut: Both 50 Cent and Kanye West are releasing new albums on September 11, and if Kanye outsells 50, Mr. Cent promises to stop releasing solo material.

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Via SOHH:

“Put it like this,” 50 told SOHH. “Let’s raise the stakes. If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11, I’ll no longer write music. I’ll write music and work with my other artists, but I won’t put out any more solo albums.

“And I bet this, when Kanye West’s sales come in, he’s gonna have a 70% decrease [the second week] ‘cause Def Jam is gonna buy records to keep him closer to 50 Cent,” the Queens rapper added. “So watch the first week and then watch the second week. Watch his @#* drop off the planet. We keep our angles covered before we make a decent bet.”

Remember that time in 1999 when Oprah said she’d quit TV in two years because she had it with rival Jerry Springer and his “vulgarity circus” that got higher ratings than her? And now it’s 2007, and she’s still going? And remember the time I said I’d get drunk if George W. won the 2004 election (I’ve never been drunk in my life), and then he won (ugh), and I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol?

All I’m saying is people lie change their minds all the time. This isn’t a threat, it’s a marketing plan. And a pretty smart one too. Even though both artists are already all over the fucking place, now everyone is finding yet one more reason to talk about them and anticipate the records.

Apparently getting shot something like eight times and/or saying on live television that the president doesn’t care about black people doesn’t cause enough of a gossip frenzy.

I think both 50 and Kanye are in on it (they have worked together in the past, after all), and even though there’s a bunch of other records being released that day, they’ll probably debut at one and two partly because of this little challenge, and neither of them give a shit who gets what standing just so long as they reach the top together.

Sneaky little fuckers.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Because I Love Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, I Care

posted by on August 13 at 5:33 PM

According to Pitchfork:

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Ted Leo Bassist Dave Lerner Leaves Band

…Leo announced on Sunday during a show at Brooklyn’s McCarren Park Pool that this would be Lerner’s last performance with the band. No hard feelings—Leo toasted Lerner with a bottle of bubbly, and fans rushed the stage. Leo and co. were in a celebratory mood, even treating fans to a cover of Daft Punk’s “One More Time”.

No replacement for Lerner has been announced just yet. But the Pharmacists have a few weeks to regroup— their next show isn’t until September 1. A lengthy North American trek awaits in November.

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists are scheduled to play Bumbershoot Mon September 3rd.

Can’t Fake The Feeling

posted by on August 13 at 3:49 PM

Many of the songs and artists that I like to feature on both this blog and the American Athlete blog are the disco gems that became staples at the New York clubs in the late ‘70’s, i.e. The Paradise Garage, The Loft, The Gallery, etc. One of the songs you could have been expected to hear sometime during a common night inside a ‘70’s NYC Discoteque, would have been Geraldine Hunt’s soulful disco classic, “Can’t Fake The Feeling”. This song was released by a few different labels, including the New York’s Prism Records in 1980 as a 12-inch single. The classic disco song was also featured on David Mancuso Presents The Loft Volume 2 compilation, released by Nuphonic in 2000. This is a great song that helped define an era of early New York club culture.

Geraldine Hunt - Can’t Fake The Feeling

Showbox SoDo is Official

posted by on August 13 at 2:19 PM

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Showbox makes official the news Zwickel broke last week:

THE SHOWBOX ACQUIRES SECOND LOCATION

The Showbox is excited to announce the addition of a 22,000-square-foot concert and event facility to its ranks, located at 1700 1st Avenue South. The 1511-capacity venue, previously named The Premier and The Fenix, will be called Showbox SoDo and is slated to open in September for 21+ and all-ages events, as well as corporate events and private parties.

The Showbox will continue to operate in its downtown location, to be re-named Showbox at the Market, and the venues will run concurrently. A major renovation is planned at Showbox SoDo for early 2008 that will enhance the overall concert/event experience through improved sightlines and interior design.

Booking and promotions for both venues will continue to be managed by Chad Queirolo and Brian McFadin. Holds for Fall 2007 and beyond are currently being accepted.

Showbox SoDo has confirmed the following events for this fall:

Wed Oct 10 – UNDEROATH with special guests EVERY TIME I DIE, POISON THE WELL, and MAYLENE AND THE SONS OF DISASTER - All Ages!

Wed Oct 17 – THE POGUES – All Ages!

Sun Oct 21 – DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL (solo) with special guests AUGUSTANA and JOHN RALSTON – All Ages!

Mon Oct 29 and Tue Oct 30 – BRAND NEW with special guests THRICE and MEWITHOUT YOU – All Ages!

Thu Nov 1 – THE HIVES – All Ages!

Missoula and Back: Three Nights on the Road with Akimbo and Cicadas

posted by on August 13 at 12:59 PM

I had the pleasure of tagging along with two of my favorite bands, Akimbo and Cicadas, on their trek east for three shows this weekend. The first night was in Spokane, at a coffee shop called the Empyrean. They had a really great stage setup off to the side of the building, the perfect amount of space for smaller-scale rock shows. Spokane also wins big points for having much better liquor laws than Seattle, as the coffee shop sold beer that you could drink wherever you wanted inside.

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Cicadas played an amazing set, blowing the minds of several kids in the audience. Their frenzied, crazily technical thrash-prog was in full form, and it was truly a sight to behold. After the show, kids buying their CDs were heard to remark: “I’m gonna go home and throw away my guitar,” and “I’ve never heard anything like that. It was like a perfect mix of everything I like.”

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Akimbo’s wall of sound is mighty impressive. It’s not so loud that it gives you a headache or anything, but they’ve done a real good job of filling out the right frequencies so that you feel surrounded by their songs. They mostly played tracks from their new album, Navigating the Bronze, to an overwhelmingly positive response from the crowd.

The next day we made our way across the state and into Missoula, Montana for Wantage Records’ annual Total Fest. Unfortunately, Cicadas’ van crapped out 50 miles shy of Missoula, leaving the boys stranded for seven hours waiting for a tow truck. They had to cancel their show that night, but were offered a slot the following night which they graciously took, as their van wouldn’t be fixed in time to make it to their Saturday gig in Wenatchee. The boys took their misfortune gracefully, and I was bummed I only got to see them for the one show. I could watch them play every night.

Total Fest is one of the best rock festivals I have ever been to. 43 bands from across the country over three nights, with three stages in one giant bar called The Badlander. There were two stages next to each other in the bar area so there was no load times, as well as an all-ages stage in the pool hall in the basement. Every day there were barbeques for the bands, free beer donated by Pabst, river floating, and an afternoon record swap where I picked up some great stuff. I had no idea Missoula was such a cool city.

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Old Time Relijun had some seriously intense energy. Their new songs were driving and pulsing, capturing everyone in the room’s full attention. The kids dancing up front seemed to be having some sort of backwoods Pentecostal experience; it reminded me of Ozark snake-handlers dancing and singing in tongues I saw on the discovery channel. I especially enjoyed when the sax player played two saxophones at the same time.

Bellingham’s the Narrows played a good set of their slow and brooding rock, building up into the climaxes they’ve perfected over the years. Denver’s Kingdom of Magic had a lot of people digging their repeating riff metal, but I got bored of it pretty quick.

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My favorite band of the night was Spokane’s Belt of Vapor, who have taken all the best parts of These Arms are Snakes and left out the snotty parts. They had winding, mathy riffs and a great combination of dual melodies from the bass and guitar. I eagerly bought their new EP.

The bass player of Fitz of Depression bailed on them the morning of the show, so it was only guitar and drums for most of their set. A local bass player figured out a few of their songs and filled in for the last bit, but their stuff didn’t grab me enough to really pay attention to it.

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Fleshies, however, had my full attention. The singer was constantly running out into the crowd, writhing on the beer soaked floor, and jumping onto people’s shoulders. I especially liked when he ran over to the adjoining empty stage and started singing to the few people milling around and chatting over there. The power kept cutting out on stage, ending their first five or so songs early, but they just rolled with it. Why get mad when you can run into the bathroom mid song, grab some toilet paper and roll yourself up in it while singing?

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This show was probably the most hyped I’ve ever seen a crowd for Akimbo. The whole audience was screaming like crazy for them before they even started playing. People threw bras at them, there was dancing (which for some reason Akimbo doesn’t usually get a lot of) and people were crying out for more songs at the end of the set. Akimbo was stoked on the output, saying, “That was like Europe in America. We haven’t had that sort of response since we played France.”

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The final night of the trip was in Wenatchee, where they played a saloon that was four giant rooms of people eating dinner. One kid specifically came out to see Akimbo; the rest of the bar (which was fairly crowded) just kind of looked at them with a collective “What the fuck?” They blared through their songs anyway, not holding back due to lack of crowd interest. Adding salt to the wound, they had to deal with some jackass journalist in their van all the way home to Seattle, puking his guts out through the four-inch side window opening after taking too much advantage of the saloon’s free drinks for the band. Serious party foul. Aaron Akimbo: I’m sorry I got barf on your pillow everything.

Brand Upon the Brain

posted by on August 13 at 12:22 PM

David Cotner, mastermind of the essential Actions list profiled earlier this year, has a new blog devoted to band logos.

He’s done 24 so far, including Squarepusher, Inspiral Carpets, Joy Division, Faust, Blue Öyster Cult, 7 Seconds, and The Specials. With so many logos out there - Yes, Prince, Miles Davis, and Scelsi also come to mind - Cotner’s blog could easily become a book.

Here’s the signet of the enigmatic Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1982).


Scelsi's signet

When asked to draw an emblem depicting his late-in-life serial music, Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) drew this.

Joanna Newsom Playing Benaroya

posted by on August 13 at 10:33 AM

With an orchestra!

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The show’s Monday, October 29, and tickets go on sale this Friday, August 17, at 10 am via Ticketmaster.

Duran Duran + Timbaland + Justin Timberlake

posted by on August 13 at 10:13 AM

Equals?

Go to Entertainment Weekly to stream the song, “Night Runner” exclusively.

Readings From The Faber Book Of Pop Pt. 1: Afrika Bambaata by David Toop

posted by on August 13 at 10:00 AM

In 1995 during a trip to Glasgow, Scotland, I found this amazing compilation of essays about music, done in a year to year, era to era fashion called The Faber Book Of Pop.

Consisting of writing, mostly non-fiction with a little fiction thrown in, it wholly encompasses music criticism and writing in a way I’d never quite experienced before. Traveling in time from the year 1942 with it’s opening essay by Malcolm X, who writes about black dance halls during the war and the freedom of movement he saw there, to1994’s essay by Andrew O’Hagan about the amount of ecstasy taken at raves in the U.K. and how it happened to be killing British teens.

At 862 pages it is quite the tombe. Though most essays in the book range in the area from 2 to 6 pages, so you can pick through it at your leisure. When I get interested in an old band from the ‘70’s or ‘80’s, one of the first things I do is look them up in the index and see where and how they were mentioned in this book.

This week I’d like to introduce you to The Faber Book Of Pop with edited selections chosen from this amazing resource, and some samples so you can get the vibe of music writing through the last few decades.

Today I’m starting with an essay from the section of the book about the Early 80’s called Baroque Proportions. It’s an essay about Afrika Bambaataa and his 1982 cult hit Planet Rock written by David Toop in 1984 from the early Hip Hop magazine Rap Attack.

Sharing the twilight zone of 42nd Street movie houses, drug dealers and seedy subterranean record stores are the video arcades. Video games have had a big influence on latter day hip hop – the arcades are bleeping, pulsing, 24-hour refuges for the obsessive vidkids with nowhere else to go. Since the Japanese exploitation of American Nolan Bushnell’s original games, a major part of the populated world has been saturated with Space Invaders, Gorgars, Missile Commands, Dragon’s Lairs and Ms Pacmans. Along with their addictive properties, their imagery and their insatiable appetite for coins goes an e-z-learn induction into the world of computer technology.

Toop goes on to describe the beginning of the love early hip hoppers had for early electronic music as coming from the “notorious Death Mix” made by Bambaataa which used a song by Yellow Magic Orchestra called Firecracker. This inevitably lead to the discovery by many early hip hoppers of the German group, Kraftwerk.

Below is Bambaataa’s recollection of Kraftwerk’s influence as quoted in the article:

”I don’t think they even knew how big they were among the black masses back in ’77 when they came out with “Trans-Europe Express”. When that came out I thought that was one of the best and weirdest records I ever heard in my life. I said, ‘scuse the expression, this is some weird shit! Everybody just went crazy off of that. I guess they found out when they came over and did a performance at the Ritz how big they was. They had four encores and people would not let them leave. That’s an amazing group to see – just to see what computers and all that can do. They took like calculators and added something to it – people pressing it and start playing it like music. It was funky. I started looking at telephones – the push button type – they really mastered those industrial type of machines.”

Toop concurs:

Kraftwerk were the most unlikely group to create such and effect among young blacks. Four be-suited showroom dummies who barely moved a muscle when they played, they were nonetheless the first group using pure electronics to achieve anything like the rhythmic sophistication of quality black dance music. They were fascinating to kids who had grown up with the incursion of microchip technology into everyday life. The George Clinton funk empire and its theatre of excesses had taken sex, sci-fi and comic-book abandonment about as far as it could go on stage; four Aryan robots pressing buttons was a joke at the other extreme.

He ends the essay with his thoughts about Planet Rock and it’s impact on further dance music and Hip Hop.

”Planet Rock” was so strange on first hearing that it was hard to believe anybody would buy it. Not only one of the massive hits of 1982, it also shifted dance music into another gear.

From the opening moments of Bambaataa shouting, “Party people, party people – can y’all get funky?” “Planet Rock” is as addictive and as hypnotic as a two-screen miniature Donkey Kong.

Here’s the original video for Planet Rock.

As per usual audio samples of the songs that both inspired and were sampled by Afrika Bambaataa can be found at my blog, T.M.L., here.

“Says it Was Good to be Alive”

posted by on August 13 at 9:15 AM

Over the weekend, I dreamed that Jeff Mangum came out of hiding to perform as Neutral Milk Hotel, and I was at the concert. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.