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Archives for 11/04/2007 - 11/10/2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

People Talking and Singing, Town Hall

posted by on November 10 at 8:28 PM

By Ross Simonini

It was adorable. First there was an argument between this little eight-year-old mop-headed boy named Elijah and John Roderick (The Long Winters singer) about who would host the evening. Elijah said, “I know who you are. I happen to be very up on my indie rock stars,” and Roderick said, “I am the right person to host this event, not you.”

Then Rosie Thomas came out and offered to massage the audience’s buttocks. She talked in a little squeaky voice about cute things, like how she just got a facial (“Is it supposed to feel this stingy?”) and sang in a really, low rich voice about sad things. She did a slowed-down sweetened Windham Hill style version of REM’s “The One I Love.”

Roderick came out and said, “As an M.C. I’m from the no-preparation school.” He asked the lighting guy to sex up the room, but no dice, nothing happened. He showed everyone his missing tooth—right in the front, very noticeable—and then played the first song he’s ever played without a tooth, so he said. He faked a lisp. He complained about how Gibson guitars (a sponsor) don’t include strap buttons on their loaner acoustic guitars and how he had to play in the “ye olde” style of holding the guitar while he played.

Then he introduced Sasha Frere-Jones, the New Yorker’s newly controversial pop critic, saying, “For years I read his column thinking he was an African American woman.” But Frere-Jones said zilch about music all night. He said, “I write for a magazine called the New Yorker, but tonight we’re going to be focusing on other writers,” and then two little kids came out and read stories and he interviewed them. It was like a hip version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

A seven-year-old girl named Ameera read a story that went, “The next day we skipped. The next day we skipped. The next day we skipped,” and Frere-Jones asked her questions about it—“So why do you think your friend wanted to stop skipping?”

A boy named Issiah read a story called “Food Dude” that went, “I’m the one who mourns when a buffet restaurant closes.” Food Dude’s arch nemesis is Paris Hilton, who sticks her finger down her throat and vomits moldy corn on the cobs and chewed up hot dogs in a defensive maneuver.

Euguene Mirman bounded out. “Somebody moved the fucking kids,” he said. “I was gonna come out her and talk about boners.” His topics included Russians, Bill Cosby, Meth Awareness Month, and Classmates.com. “We’re all one hippy collective,” he said. “Trying to save a generation of kids.” He left the stage, announcing, “My cat can rape people. It’s really cool.”

Dave Eggers laid out the whole 826 deal—a non-profit free tutoring center for kids up to 18 years old—emphasizing that they “STILL NEED MORE TUTORS.” He read three stories from his collection How the Water Feels to the Fishes. There was “Old Enough” about wanting to be elderly so he could do crazy things, like “kick dogs, even if softly.” There was “We Can Work It Out” about Yosemite Bears who don’t like E.M. Forester. There was “The New Rules” which said if you don’t read 10 books a year you might get “disemboweled by bears.”

He apologized for wearing a t-shirt and jeans, explaining that he had dressed in the dark and, consequently, put on a sweater with a hole in the elbow. “A t-shirt is better than a sweater with a hole in it,” he said.

Geologic of Blue Scholars took the stage solo, sans DJ Sabzi, and played his songs acappella. He said that Sabzi usually covers up his words. “Most of the time,” he said, “I could be saying anything up here…This is a chance for those who are familiar with us to focus on the words.”

He went through a spoken-word, slam-poetic version of “Inkwell.” His wife called in the middle and he looked at his cell phone and smiled. He did “Morning of America,” a song about the ’80s—“VH1 never played hip-hop at all”—and then one called “Joe Metro,” about Seattle’s public transportation, including the light rail, which he criticized for displacing people in southern Seattle (especially the ones living along MLK.).

Then there was the hugging part—this happened last year, too—where people donate money and get hugs for it. Roderick and Mirman auctioned off $20 hugs from Dave Eggers and Sasha Frere-Jones (“They cost $30 in New York,” Frere-Jones said). They wheeled out a mechanical El Vez (the real one?) on a dolly in a tiger-print skin-tight outfit, and he gave some hugs, too.

Todd Barry came out and talked a lot about how he’d performed at Carnegie Hall the night before, how playing Town Hall was, comparatively, “a huge fucking letdown,” and “how (he’d) done four events for 826 and still (has) no idea what they do.” All in the art of comedy, of course.

Everything ended with Rosie Thomas and John Roderick playing requests from the audience: “Thriller,” “Freebird,” “Stairway to Heaven,” etc. They admitted that they didn’t have any idea how to play the songs and sang purposefully out of tune and did a funky version of the “Charles in Charge” theme song. Then the whole crowd sang the first verse of “Silent Night,” gospel-style, where everyone stomped feet and clapped hands. It was adorable.


Tonight in Music

posted by on November 10 at 9:00 AM

From Stranger Suggests:

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Minus the Bear
(Music) This year has been good to Seattle’s Minus the Bear. Since Planet of Ice was released in August, the band has played over 50 shows in as many cities and was tagged “buzzworthy” by MTV. For once, MTV got it right. MtB’s new album is an exquisite composition with technical, intricate guitar parts and vivid dynamics that ebb and flow between melodic indie sounds and droning stoner rock. See them while you can—they’re disappearing to Europe for the remainder of the year. (Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave, 628-3151. 8 pm, $16 adv/$18 DOS, all ages.) MEGAN SELING

From U&Cs:

Annuals, Manchester Orchestra, the New Frontiers
(Crocodile) Like sex and scuba diving, any psychedelic voyage is best undertaken with a partner. Twenty-one-year-old Adam Baker is the sole songwriting force behind Annuals, but he’s recruited a band of longtime friends to mediate any mad-professor tendencies. Last year’s acclaimed Be He Me is a monumental mind trip of an album, conceived from Baker’s self-contained death-is-after-me paranoia but wrought by a studio-savvy six-piece band. Drifting on waves of slow-trotting rural balladry, breezy Beach Boy–ish pop, prog-rock bombast, and heat-warped tropicalia, the album—and Annuals in general—have the power to transport. JONATHAN ZWICKEL

Scout Niblett, MV & EE
(Sunset) MV & EE stands for Matt Valentine and Erika Elder, a couple of in-love hippie types from the Massachusetts boondocks who like to musically reminisce about the blues-rock of the late great 1960s. Their days in the free-folk collective the Tower Recordings connected them with a slew of musical collaborators, including J Mascis (who’s playing drums on everyone’s albums these days), John Moloney from Sunburned Hand of the Man, and Thurston Moore, whose Ecstatic Peace label releases the duo’s prolific ramblings. Their sound is a big stoned party of slapped-together blues chords, noodly 1970s rock guitars, and mumbled songwriting, but when they hit it right on, it’s like a good flashback. ROSS SIMONINI

From Bug in the Bassbin by Donte Parks:

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I nearly peed my pants when I heard that Kevin Saunderson was coming to town. Sure, I’m a bit obsessed with Detroit techno, but Kevin Saunderson isn’t just another Detroit techno artist. As one of the Belleville Three (along with Juan Atkins and Derrick May), Saunderson is one of the creators of techno, twisting the futurism of Kraftwerk, the instrumentation of new wave and Chicago house, and the musical legacy of Detroit into the genre that’s grown into what you (should) know and love today. He’s not just a producer or DJ; he’s a legend. The thought of interviewing him was absolutely terrifying.
Click here to read the interview.

Kevin Saunderson plays Krakt at Rebar (1114 Howell St, 233-9873) on Sat Nov 10, 10 pm, $10 adv/$15 DOS, 21+. With Travis Baron and Kristina Childs.


Friday, November 9, 2007

“Awww, What’s in the Box?!”

posted by on November 9 at 9:31 PM

While many of you were busy commenting up a storm this afternoon, Radiohead was being their sneaky selves and filming a live webcast, which I missed also. I tried in vain to update the intern iMac’s video-streaming technology in time to catch “Thumbs Down”, the two-and-then-some hours (!!!!!) of assorted footage, but no luck.

Pitchfork has a play-by-play. I’m still watching it, but they cover The Smiths and New Order, spin M.I.A. and Bonnie Prince Billy, and don helmets-with-cameras for “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”.

Then there’s this, probably the most hilarious they’ve ever been:

And this, as if the song itself wasn’t stunning enough:

Find it, watch it.

Congratulations!

posted by on November 9 at 5:43 PM

To all those who made yesterday’s Blake Lewis post the #1 commented on post in, like, forever! (62 and counting!!!)

Wow! Those are some great comments.

“watch yourself young one.”

“I would like very much to crack that person’s chest cavity open and take a huge steaming taco plop in their lungs.”

“this is all jay-z’s fault (this is true)”

“I don’t even think Ari would argue that she’s a bitch.”

“ya’all are bitches.”

“Alrighty then gang. Good rap session, right? Just remember that I can’t help you if you don’t help me to help you.”

It is definitely a must read! This totally made my day.

The Future of Blake Lewis

posted by on November 9 at 5:19 PM

There’s a lot of bullshit being thrown around after yesterday’s Blake Lewis album cover post, a very hilarious observation was just made by Mr. Larry Mizell.

Blake looks like Robin Williams.

Take a few years off Williams, add a little facial hair, maybe some brown contacts… I totally see it.

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“Me & a Gun”—A Capella No More!

posted by on November 9 at 3:19 PM

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After fleeing her late-’80s synth-pop group Y Kant Tori Read, Tori Amos kicked off her solo career in 1991 with “Me and a Gun,” the a capella track dealing with her survival of a rape at knifepoint.

Since then, Amos has become the crazy star at the center of her own crazy universe, and I hardly follow her shenanigans anymore. But as the Tori-loving Pink is the New Blog reports, Ms. Amos is spicing up her new tour by performing her hallowed rape anthem with a full band, in the character of her American Doll Posse alter-ego Pip, and employing disturbing props. (See photo above, shot by Bullocks Troy.)

And to see video of Tori—uh, Pip—performing the full-band, propped-up “M&AG” live in Chicago, go here.

Three Links for Detroit

posted by on November 9 at 3:07 PM

1) One of the fathers of techno, Kevin Saunderson, plays Krakt at Rebar tomorrow. But you already knew that.

2) Here’s a link to a great techno mix: DJ Catweasel - Live at OODE VIII

3) Archives from this year’s DEMF are finally being streamed from the festival site.

Are There Any Johnny Thunders Fans Out There?

posted by on November 9 at 3:01 PM

So, let me start by saying, I’m not dumb. I know enough about Johnny Thunders to get me through a conversation about The Dolls and Heartbreakers etc….

But I’m obsessed with this song right now and I can hardly find any information about it at all!

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The track is by a european disco group called Skyline. It’s off a self-titled album from 1978. Incredibly, it sounds like something The Rapture might be putting out now. It’s so contemporary feeling, that I was blown away when I discovered its date.

Here’s the track: (forgive the flange, it’s from a DJ set)

Skyline - I Think I’m Gonna Fall In Love

Here’s the thing. The group’s guitarist is none other than Johnny Thunders. But I can’t find any mention about this project on any Thunders related website or wiki.

Are there any Thunders fans out there who can shed some light on this track.

Another One Bites The Dust

posted by on November 9 at 2:56 PM

Following in the wake of Oink, down goes popular torrent tracker Demonoid. The same post mentions Pirate Bay is going to find some problems as well. This truly was a golden age for file sharing, and it’s sad to see it come to an end (although I have no doubts that replacements will pop up).

On Demonoid now:

“The CRIA threatened the company renting the servers to us, and because of this it is not possible to keep the site online. Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for your understanding.”

Sometimes It Sucks To Be A Parent…

posted by on November 9 at 2:03 PM

…especially in NYC.

This is the post script from an email sent to me by an acquaintance:

P.S. My friends Xxxx and Xxxxx (names withheld - T.M.) are riding the kindergarten admissions merry-go-round in New York. They recently attended a school orientation with four other couples — one of which was Matthew Barney and Bjork. According to Dave, Bjork was wearing “metallic leather pants, and a kind of red tent-like thing that I can only describe as a clown suit.” She never opened her mouth, because she didn’t have to — she had everyone’s attention anyway.

Country Legends Dropping Like Flies

posted by on November 9 at 1:58 PM

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Last week it was Porter Wagoner. Wednesday it was Hank Thompson, dead at 82 of lung cancer. Hank Thompson! Just in the last five years we’ve lost Waylon Jennings (2002); Floyd Tillman, Johnny Paycheck, June Carter, and Johnny Cash (2003); Jimmy Martin (2005); and my beloved Buck Owens (2006).

Last night my sister broke the news, and KEXP played several songs by Thompson and his Brazos Valley Boys. I used to listen to Thompson a lot, but not so much in the past few years; hearing him on the radio reminded me of just how much I like his brand of honky-tonk melded with western swing, with hits like 1946’s “Whoa Sailor” (later expertly covered by the Maddox Bros. and Rose), “Cocaine Blues,” “Total Stranger,” “Six Pack to Go,” his cover of Ernest Tubb’s “Driving Nails in My Coffin,” and 1952’s “The Wild Side of Life” (expertly countered later that year by Kitty Wells’s “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels”).

Thompson’s death is certainly a big loss to country music.

Here’s “Whoa Sailor”:

Today in Music News

posted by on November 9 at 1:41 PM

The Season of Giving: Sufjan announces “The Great Sufjan Song Xmas Xchange”

Latin Grammy Awards: Juan Louis Guerra takes five.

Radiohead… Something… Soon?: Webcast, test webcast, and other mysterious internet activity.

Raid on the Winehouse: Amy’s husband arrested.

Prince vs. The Fans: The battle wages on.

Viking Masters: The New York Times investigates Norwegian death metal.

Even your friends can give you viruses: Alicia Keys’ Myspace spreads Trojan Horse

Taking Pictures is Fun!

posted by on November 9 at 12:24 PM

Taking pictures also always gets you to the front. That’s a trick you learn as a short girl.

Here’s some pictures I took at two shows last night!
First:
PWRFL Power at Pony

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Look ma, no head!

Second:
Mr. Divisadero at the Comet

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Stefan Rubicz of the Pharmacy and Trent Coahran of Tv Coahran, just chillin’ before the Pharmacy’s set (which I didn’t take any pix of ‘cuz I was drunk and headbanging).

I know I’m not the world’s greatest photographer, but that isn’t stopping me from adding these to The Stranger’s Flickr Pool!

American Gagster?

posted by on November 9 at 12:18 PM

So I got an e-mail from someone about my election night coverage, wherein I was consulting the lyrics of Jay-Z’s freshly-released American Gangster album, which I referred to as ‘genius.’ Here’s the relevant passage from that e-mail:

The inclusion of Jay-z lyrics was an inspired touch. However, 2 points: 1) American Gangster is a terrible album. If you were being facetious, please disregard. 2) You need to have words with your ipod, or whatever. It neglected to cough up what could have been the most pertinent line relating to that fateful Tuesday night:
Bunch of used to’s, has been’s bragging bad ‘bout all the new dudes Talking tough on the YouTube bout what you used to do But that’s old school to the new crew They’re doing numbers like Sudoku

off of Fallin’, one of the 2 listenable tracks on the album.

That is all.

I responded that I loved American Gangster’s lyrics. I thought the first three songs on AG were really slow and uninspired, but that the album, as a whole, works really well. I did admit that I didn’t think it was genius (I hyperbolize more than literally any other human being on the face of the earth), but I thought that the election day release date was, perhaps, unintentional genius. I think that I might have to make listening to American Gangster an election day tradition, in fact, to go along with my other election day traditions of eating at Catfish Corner and getting stumbling-drunk while posting results on Slog.

Anyway, from there, he and I sent a couple e-mails back and forth (he thought that Jay-Z’s delivery was tired and that he sounded bored, I said that I thought he sounded like he was having more fun than he’d had in years, and blah blah blah,) but it really seems to highlight the reaction to American Gangster.
The critics love it, but most of the commenters on most of the blog posts I’ve seen about the album hate it. It’s interesting, I think, because Jay-Z is really the leading face of aging hip-hop superstardom, and unlike rock’s embarrassing tendency to embrace old age (maybe even as a direct response to it,) mainstream hip-hop culture is having none of this middle-aged rap stuff. I think we can all agree, though, that Kingdom Come was disappointing.

Now Let’s Talk About How Bad This Song Is, Okay?

posted by on November 9 at 11:40 AM

I couldn’t find an official video for Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” so this nearly torturous live performance will have to suffice.

Update: Commenter Left Coast found the official video (apparently it wasn’t hard, I’m just blind):

I really can’t stand the chorus of this song. I mean, it’s no “Built This City” (which, by the way, was co-written by Bernie Taupin?? I never knew! How’d you go from “Levon” and “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” to that, dude??), but it’s still pretty bad.

When I had a car, when I had easy access to a radio, I would hear that song at least once a week while station surfing, usually on a Friday. While it should bring happiness, since it’s usually used as a late-Friday afternoon anthem, it really just makes me wanna scream “SHUT UP! NO ONE IS WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND AND NO ONE WANTS A PIECE OF YOUR HEART!”

I’ve been working on my rage issues.

Anyway. That song is a waste of good cowbell.

Happy Friday!

(And to Left Coast, you’re so wrong about this song being better than the Pixies’ “Alec Eiffel.”)

Sound Off! Entries Due Next Week

posted by on November 9 at 10:58 AM

Hey underage bands, you have less than one week to get your shit together and enter EMP’s Sound Off!

Applications—which can be downloaded at empsfm.org—and a non-returnable CD with original music must be mailed to: EMP|SFM, Attn: Sound Off!, 330 6th Avenue North, Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98109 by Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 for entry into the 2008 Sound Off! competition. All participants must be 21 years of age or under as of March 1, 2008.

Twelve semi-finalists will be chosen to perform live on either Feb. 9, 16 or 23. The bands will be narrowed down to three for a live performance in the Sky Church at EMP|SFM on Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 8 p.m. Sound Off! is sponsored by, IKEA, Shure—“The Official Microphone of EMP|SFM,” 107.7 The End, 90.3 KEXP, Bumbershoot and Gibson. The first-place band will perform at Bumbershoot.

Go to www.empsfm.org for all the rules and more information.

Past finalists include the Schoolyard Heroes, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, Mon Frere, the Lonely Forest, the Lonely H, Idiot Pilot, Gruff Mummies, and more.

“The Glorious Pile-On”

posted by on November 9 at 10:28 AM

Somehow, the subject of hardcore dancing came up in conversation yesterday, perhaps because I was talking to our resident straight-edge/hardcore art director, Aaron Edge. I mentioned “Pickin’ Up Change,” and he was impressed. I mentioned this video for Sick of It All’s “Step Down,” and he was stumped.

My hardcore friends in high school hated the band, called them “Stuck Up Is All.” I never understood the politics—my friends were DRI fans (aha! that’s how Edge and I started talking about hardcore: there’s a piece of art in next week’s ish that resembles the DRI logo) who for reasons I don’t remember had a beef with the Sick of It All fans from another school. What I do remember is this video from a few years later, which spelled out a lot of the hardcore dance moves of the early ’90s.

They made fun of emo kids even back in ‘94!

Sick of It All missed “Grabbin’ the Golf Tee,” a goofy variation on “Pickin’ Up Change” that came from the Lookout! Records scene.

Hardcore: Still funny after all these years.

Tonight in Music

posted by on November 9 at 9:00 AM

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FCS North

Broken Disco: NAHA, Jerry Abstract, Truckasauras, FCS North, DJ Levi Clark, Kristina Childs, Kadeejah Streets, Plan B, DJ Same DNA
(Chop Suey) After last month’s killer Modeselektor show, Broken Disco is taking this month to focus on all local talent, and Seattle has plenty to spare. What may be surprising for an electronic dance night is how much of that talent will be playing live. In the 21+ makeout lounge, Plan B delivers a live set of hiphop instrumentals and sepia-toned sampledelia. In the 18+ room, FCS North groove on live bass, drums, synths, and guitar; Truckasauras wrestle booming beats and surprisingly deep melodies out of their array of ’80s machinery; and Jerry Abstract plays a live laptop set. With DJ support from Levi Clark, Kadeejah Streets, Same DNA, and headlining sets from Kristina Childs and NAHA. ERIC GRANDY
Gust Burns/Jeffrey Allport Duo
(Gallery 1412) A frequent traveler to these climes, British Columbian percussionist Jeffrey Allport micromanages his rhythmic and tonal gestures with a penetrating focus, as evinced in his rad showings earlier this year as one of the participants in the Seattle Improvised Music Festival. Allport is here presented again in concert with local pianist Gust Burns, whose playing is possessed of both a feverous technical diligence and a cumbrous emotional intelligence. In the world of modern free improvisation, which is often paradoxically traditionalized, it is musicians such as these who maintain the music’s potentially boundless vitality and progressive energy. SAM MICKENS

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JJ Grey and Mofro, Dusty Rhodes
(Neumo’s) Sweaty, swampy, low-down, and funky: JJ Grey and Mofro are everything Florida used to be, before the onslaught of AC and luxury high-rises and four-wheel drives that never leave the pavement. That Florida—old Florida—exists only in legend now, and in song, and Grey is one of the last homegrown troubadours to sing of its heyday and its demise. Rooted in Southern rock and Stax/Muscle Shoals soul, deepened by the glorious slide guitar of longtime musical foil Daryl Hance, Grey’s songs are relevant to anyone who’s ever cursed a condo. Their April show in Seattle was a scorcher; we could always use a little Florida heat wave. JONATHAN ZWICKEL
Young Fresh Fellows, the Tripwires
(Tractor) If you’ve ever wanted to test the theory that well-crafted pop music is contagiously fun, tonight’s the night. After four years, the Tripwires—a local supergroup consisting of John Ramberg, Jim Sangster, Johnny Sangster, and Mark Pickerel—are celebrating the release of their fine debut album with a release party that also features a rare show by local pop superheroes the Young Fresh Fellows. To list the Tripwires’ combined pedigree would take this entire page (and if you don’t recognize the names, you should be ashamed of yourself) but one listen to “Makes You Look Around” and you’ll be instantly smitten with their instantly infectious, ’60s inspired guitar pop. And if you can manage not to crack a grin during a Fellows show, you should seek help. BARBARA MITCHELL

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Black Dice, Calvin Johnson
(Vera Project) With Load Blown, their latest album (and their first for Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label), Black Dice have comfortably grown into their third phase. What began as audience-assaulting thrash and dissolved into bad-acid drones has now emerged as a kind of malfunctioning tribal groove machine. “Kokomo” churns blown bass, coughing car exhaust, and stolen chants into a loping rhythm. “Roll Up” and “Scavenger” melt steel drums and warp tropical guitar loops; the former swarms with mosquito treble, while the latter makes thunder from wobbled aluminum sheets. On “Drool,” the band summon bird chirps and cicada hum from their effect-pedal circuits. There are still noisy moments, but this is, by far, the most relaxed, easy-listening Black Dice to date. ERIC GRANDY

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A New Dutch Rhythm

posted by on November 8 at 4:56 PM

Dutch Rhythm Combo - Bonaire Remixes IIFelix Haaksman recently released a new 12” single under his known alias, Dutch Rhythm Combo, titled Bonaire. The single was released as a series of two 12-inches and one 7-inch consisting of numerous remixes. Some of the people doing the remix treatment consists of Blackjoy, Al Usher, Maximilian Skiba, and Soul Village, a nice solid collection of producers to say the least. The mix that touched me the most was Maximilian Skiba’s, taking the laid back original, and turing it into a funky nu-disco boogie. The other mixes aren’t anything to sleep on as well, each one taking the shape of each remixer. A solid new effort from this upcoming German producer.

Dutch Rhythm Combo - Bonaire (Maximilian Skiba Remix)

RE: Blake Lewis’ Audio Day Dream

posted by on November 8 at 4:44 PM

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Strangely, this is the second time this album and its cover has come up in two days. Man, it’s awful. Doesn’t it look like Common’s hair is all conked out? It took me a while before I recognized his locks as a hoodie.

Blake Lewis’ Audio Day Dream

posted by on November 8 at 3:48 PM

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Idolator enters Lewis in the running for Worst Album Cover of the Year (sadly, there’s no text message voting in that competition), commenters let loose the snarks.

“Blake Lewis Breaks Anotha Copy of Photoshop” - Idolator

With All The Blowjobs…

posted by on November 8 at 1:13 PM

…we’re handing out to the 826 event tonight. I wonder if anyone will confront SF-J about his ass-hattery cultural criticism of Indie Rock (too white. HA HA HA) and Stephen Merritt (you know, he’s, like, a total racist) and taking The Gorillaz too seriously (seriously!).

Too bad it’s gonna be christian praise musician Ben Gibbard on stage with him instead of Win Butler of Arcade Fire.

I can only imagine the breathlessness with which these back slapping self-loving indie hipsters (Stevens, Eggers, et al.) will read his work. Thank goodness Geologic will be there so it will be “just black enough”.

And would someone please ask Eggers why there is only one woman (Rosie Thomas) booked for this event. If I were SF-J…I’d complain.

Coconut Coolouts Convoy

posted by on November 8 at 1:00 PM

Coconut Coolouts recently went out for a short tour and kept a diary of their adventures to share with us when they got home. Here it is, in all its barfing on walls, hanging out in tiki bars, fast-food gorging glory. Coconut Coolouts play Pony tonight with Partman Parthorse and PWRFL Power.

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Tyvek, Nice Smile, Coconut Coolouts

Day One:
The first show was at the Funhouse in Seattle with Tyvek and Nice Smile.

Nothing super exciting happened until after the show when we all came back to Lacey and Ruben’s and drank more beer, ordered a pizza, and made each other pass out by choking each other like teenagers.

Day Two:
We went downtown to pick up Ross on our way to Portland. We pulled up next to him on the street and he immediately turned around and began gazing into an empty storefront without noticing that we were there. When he finally saw us he said, “Should I load my instrument in the rear?” and we laughed and laughed. We head out down I-5 and made out first stop—the Red Lobster in Federal Way for all you can eat everything. I mean, what the hell, right? Let’s celebrate in style! We arrived in Portland to find that Dunes was not open yet so we headed down the street to Jiggles Hot Java to kill some time until we could finally get into the club. At 8 pm we were allowed into the Dunes and were told to leave our shit in the van until time to play because the place was so small.

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Pete and Lacey

Shortly after this it dawns on me that Popeye’s is just down the street so Lacey heads over for a biscuit and some red beans and rice. Back at the Dunes everyone was still sitting around until 11pm when Nice Smile finally decided to play, after fruitlessly trying to tune the Bugs’ drum. We play next and we’re doing a pretty good job but everyone’s spirits are crushed by a dude yelling about how the Bugs should play. Lacey, somewhat in amazement, ends up selling this guy a CD after we play and find out that he thought we were the Bugs—yeah! Spirits back up.

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Greco Roman Dudes

After we played we all went over to the dojo next door and took photos of Ian, Ross, and Pete pulling out some questionable wrestling moves on each other. No one got hurt but it looked totally real. After we loaded up we all went back to JJ’s to crash. Ruben ended this night just like last time we were on tour—on mushrooms, playing drums, and barfing on the wall at dawn.

Day Three:
We get up far too early the next morning (considering Ruben’s post-psychedelic haze and our general disinterest in being conscious) to drive to Davis. Bagel sandwiches for breakfast, a brush-off of the Tyveks’ attempts at riding in our far more comfortable van and we’re on our way. Driving sucks. Lunch was Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, Subway and Del Taco. This is when the Amazing Barnanas’ (Ian’s) hind quarters start to go completely haywire. We manage to make our only Lacey-requested rest stop at a porta-potty outside of a shack in the mountains in central Oregon. Ian manages to take a dump in the porta-potty before Lacey can get inside. Pete thinks it’s fine, arguing that “once it hits the blue stuff it evaporates.” Lacey disagrees.

After a lot more driving and somehow making a wrong turn on I-5 we finally manage to find our way to Davis. Davis seems tranquil, with a hint of girls-gone-wild edge. We note our approval of this by rolling down the van windows and playing DJ Assault as loud as we can as we make our way past campus. After eating a bag of jellybeans, Dr. Nuckinfutz (Ross) compulsively screams “Yo Quiero Blow Jobs” out the window. We find our way to the club, a house turned into restaurant/venue called Delta of Venus. Parking is nice as it allows us to have a serious conversation—with the giant jug of Early Times that’d been waiting for us in the back of the van. The venue is packed already as Tyvek is huge in Davis and we’re also playing with local favorites the Bananas. We play first. We are really, really good. Then some other stuff happens that I don’t quite remember. The other bands are real good too, but I may have been drunk.

(Keep reading, there’s more involving unicorns getting arrested, pineapples dressing like people, and Teen Wolf.)

Continue reading "Coconut Coolouts Convoy" »

You May Be Right; I May Be Crazy

posted by on November 8 at 11:38 AM

music-fol-2-500.jpgIllo by James Yamasaki

So yeah, I love Billy Joel.

Actually, I used to love Billy Joel. Now I cherish his music like a first kiss—an awkward memory that I’m happy to own, glad I got past, and hardly ever trot out anymore. There’s a reason that his peers—most significantly Springsteen—bask in continued critical praise and constantly refreshed fan adoration, which I get into in the story.

Megan quoted the piece’s main point in her post below, but here’s the part that most interested me:

Talking to friends and colleagues about this story, I learned that many people my age had an early period of Joel appreciation (surprising), though nobody’s rocking Glass Houses on their iTunes (not surprising).

It’s true. Several people—people you know, people who write for The Stranger about far, far different types of music than Billy Joel—had a thing for him way back when. Since writing the piece and talking about it further, more former fans have come out of the woodwork. But everyone agrees: They’re not listening to his music on an even semi-regular basis. The people I know who do are musically, um, unsophisticated, to put it nicely.

I look back at those songs, like the one this post takes its title from, and I love them, but only in a kitschy, nostalgic way. They’re teriffic songs, but they work better as artifacts than art. At one point in my life, he was an obsession. Then I grew out of Billy Joel.

Something I didn’t get into in the story: How much of my generation’s broken love affair with the guy has to do with Christie Brinkley? Joel was this hound dog-eyed goofball singing about Italian restaurants, as suburbanly awkward as anybody, and then he married the most beautiful woman in the world. He was slingshotted into idolization for that reason as much as his rock star status. Then she dropped him and he was just a regular schmuck all over again. Pretty disillusioning. But all Joel ever wanted from his music was to bag him a supermodel, so he succeeded on that front. His return to realness had just as much potential to lock in some cred as to cast him as a loser, but it didn’t work out that way.

A Note From the Blood Brothers

posted by on November 8 at 11:14 AM

Dear Friends,

After 10 years of making music as The Blood Brothers, we have made the collective decision that our time together has come to an end. We feel extremely fortunate to have spent such a deeply memorable and amazing part of our lives with each other. At this point, however, we feel it’s best that our futures move forward on separate paths. We’d like to express our sincerest thanks and gratitude to all the bands we’ve played with, individuals who have helped us make our records, and fans who have come to our shows and picked up our music throughout the years. Your friendship, support and love hold such a profoundly special place in each of our hearts. We hope that the memories you attach to our music are as fond as those you have given us. Thank you and take care, we’ll miss all of you.

Love,
The Blood Brothers

Mixing for the Radio

posted by on November 8 at 11:14 AM

Let it Bleed.

onair.jpgKevin Suggs is one of KEXP’s main audio engineers. He’s on Lineout today to talk about running sound for a band that’s playing live on the radio. Over the years, KEXP has amassed a mammoth and impressive archive of live in-studio performances. Suggs has engineered many of those sessions. He permeates a guru like calm that puts musicians at ease when the red light comes on.

When bands show up to play live on KEXP, they have one hour to set up and dial in their sound. Nerves get jumpy and heated. It’s live radio and the stakes are high. You’re live in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… You’re glad Kevin is on the other side of the glass.

Our room at KEXP is small enough that everything pretty much bleeds into everything else. There is no isolation for amps. This really affects the way I need to mix. The first thing I do when starting to get sounds is push up the vocal mics and leave them up. It makes little sense to work on the drum sounds without the vocal mics up because they will drastically change everything. I basically start with the vocals and build the mix around them. Also, any crazy vocal effects you use are going to be on just about everything else in the mix as well. Small reverbs and short delays work the best. It may seem like I have little control but I find this environment very pleasant to work in. For one, I don’t have to worry about feedback which can be a problem when wedges are used. Plus, bleed isn’t really a bad thing as long as it is pleasant bleed. I’m not fighting with the room sound like is the case at most larger venues. The fast pace also keeps people focused and the energy level high.

I always try to contact the bands ahead of time to get an idea of what the set up will look like. The band shows up an hour before airtime. I know this doesn’t seem like much time but I have found it to be plenty. We have one headphone mix available for the band. We can get up to two mixes but this is where the “keep it simple” idea really comes in handy. I find if I tell the group there is only one mix they are more apt to be happy with the mix much quicker. Most bands end up saying it’s the best they’ve ever heard themselves. I put vocals and any instrument that is going direct (i.e., keyboards, or bass without an amp) into the mix for them. Other things such as drums and guitar amps are going to bleed into the vocal mics enough that they rarely need to be in the cans.

Doing live mixes for radio broadcast combines the thrill of a live show with the control that a studio setting allows. My mantra for doing these sessions is always “keep it simple”. With an audience of several thousand for any given performance I do all I can to avoid technical difficulties.

Usually the most challenging part of the on air performance is the interview section, where the DJ has a chat with the band. You might have a lead singer who belts out his vocals so loud that you need to pot your mic pres way down to keep them from clipping. Then of course when he is asked a question he mumbles softly or even worse stands nowhere near the mic. At that point I’m pushing faders all the way up and cracking open mic pres to make them audible. Once the band goes into the next song I have to get all that stuff back to where it needs to be in a hurry.

Today in Music News

posted by on November 8 at 11:01 AM

Cat Power covers Hot Boys: Changes in the line-up of Jukebox, still to be released January 22.

Radiohead set a date: In Rainbows CD/LP in the UK on December 31, with US date yet to be confirmed.

Elvis Costello is Over England: Glastonbury turns him off playing the homeland… forever?

Erectile Dysfunction: Billboard honoring Muse doesn’t go up because of acronym.

The Blood Brothers Break-up: It’s confirmed.

Kings of Pop: Michael Jackson’s new record to feature Kanye West, Will.I.Am.

Because you always wanted to use “Porcelain” for the credits: Moby releases his music to filmmakers, for free.

“The Perfect Answer to ‘Control’”: A Joy Division documentary, Peter Hook says, “When I see things like that it makes me think how fucking good we were. Tell that to the Arctic Monkeys!”

Jay Reatard…

posted by on November 8 at 10:45 AM

…plays a Flying V, has one of the best stage names maybe EVER (Reee-A-Tard?), is touring an album named Blood Visions, started recording songs in his bedroom when he was only 15, has spent the past nine years putting out a shit-ton of records with a shit-ton of different bands (think straight 60s garage-punk, synth-pop, synth-punk, and straight punk), he posts lots of demos and free MP3s on his blog, and… what else, oh, he’s playing the Sunset tonight.

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There better be head banging…

Tonight in Music

posted by on November 8 at 9:00 AM

TapeTevoTiVo The Office. There’s too much stuff happening around town to stay home tonight.

*The 826 benefit is at Town Hall with Dave Eggers, Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman, Sasha Frere-Jones, Rosie Thomas, and Geologic of Blue Scholars. Jonathan Zwickel had a conversation with Dave Eggers and the evening’s host John Roderick of the Long Winters. Here’s an excerpt:

THE STRANGER: Aside from you, John, it does seem like the musicians involved are of the tame, fuzzy-sweater rock variety: Ben Gibbard, Sufjan Stevens, this generation of lit rock that’s popular right now.

EGGERS: You know what—I’ve actually never seen Ben Gibbard in a fuzzy sweater. I have to say that. He’s never worn one around me. I don’t know what he wears at home.

RODERICK: I have seen him in a fuzzy sweater, but he wasn’t wearing anything else.

EGGERS: But there’s going to be some hiphop at this show. And 826 performers, students in some of these shows in the past, or songwriters who appreciate a good turn of phrase and are good at it themselves… that’s the connection. They’re very similar in the attention paid to the written word, whether it’s in hiphop or—what did you call it? “Lit rock”?—which I hadn’t heard before, but I like that. I think the students recognize the common DNA to all those forms. So many of our students also do spoken word. They can put words on the page and perform them, too. There’s a blurry line between all those forms, but I think the bottom line is that the words are important and they mean something.

Click here to read the whole thing.

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*Billy Joel is at the KeyArena. Zwickel claims you can’t appreciate him as an adult.

Billy Joel has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide. He set the record for sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden—12, two more than runner-up Bruce Springsteen—and had 13 Top 10 hits and 11 Top 10 albums. His songs are radio mainstays and his tours gross millions of dollars. But nobody cares about Billy Joel—nobody who matters, anyway.

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*Drop the Lime is at Chop Suey’s Club Pop and Eric Grandy interviewed him (Luca Venezia) for this week’s paper:

Live, Venezia rocks a laptop, turntables, and a microphone, mixing songs on the fly, triggering samples, and singing over his own tracks. But for an artist who chops and spews such disparate styles at an often breakneck pace, he approaches his live sets with a kind of casual spontaneity.

“It’s very loose,” he says. “I like to see how the crowd feels. Maybe I’ll drop a dubstep tune, and if the crowd really goes crazy for it, then I’ll focus on putting more dubstep into the set that night. Or if I play some old-school Chicago house and people really go crazy for that, then I’ll shift gears and take the set in that direction. And that keeps it really fresh for me; every time I play, it’s a different set. I’ll have a rough outline or certain combinations of tunes that I like, but I like to jump around and not stick to one method.”

sondre.jpg

*And finally, Sondre Lerche is in town too.

Sondre Lerche, Dan Wilson
(Nectar) Sondre Lerche might take a keener-than-usual interest in the daily machinations of opener Dan Wilson, given that Lerche composed the just-released soundtrack to Dan in Real Life. The Norwegian singer-songwriter’s sprightly instrumentals and earnest acoustic numbers intertwine with the movie’s action, proving essential to its heartfelt, casually comic tone. Lerche’s chamber-pop version of Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door” (which he coached Steve Carell to perform in the film) figures to represent Dan in Real Life live. Dan in Real Life follows February’s Phantom Punch, on which the erstwhile lounge crooner delved into noisy garage rock with his backing trio the Faces Down. Lerche left his band behind for this tour, but his charismatic presence and sensitive vocals, both magnified in a solo setting, should compensate for what the stripped-down Phantom Punch selections will lack in volume. ANDREW MILLER

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Just want to take a moment to thank you, Donte Parks…

posted by on November 7 at 8:11 PM

…for using the word “omnipresent.”

Oh sure, this post is great for a lot of other reasons—like, uh, the specific illumination of the manner by which someone might do something that none of us do, because it is illegal—but what I really like about it is a certain sentence that goes like this:

I’ve found this technique works best with albums that are brand new or omnipresent.

It’s funny, because there’s another word you could have used instead of omnipresent. In fact, omnipresent is so nice there, hits you in such a good way, because it sounds cool but also because there’s another word that most of the rest of the world would use there. Not that that’s bad—you know, whatever, words are words, they’re just supposed to convey meaning. But a word you haven’t thought of in a while—well, it helps your brain grow, because we think in words. (The more complicated your vocabulary is, the more complicated your thoughts can be.)

In a post earlier today, I confessed to hating the word “ubiquitous,” but unlike with “myriad” (how about just “countless”?) I did not put forward a lesser used and not-as-annoying synonym for “ubiquitous.” In the comments, flamingbanjo wrote:

“Countless” only has two syllables and doesn’t sound as pretty. These are the sorts of things lyricists obsess over. In the example you mention, obviously the euphony of the word was the motivating quality, since “myriad harbor” doesn’t mean anything (unless it’s a proper name.)

I guess “ubiquitous” is now a self-descriptive word (like “pentasyllabic”) but I’m trying hard to think of a synonym to replace it. Until I do I’ll probably keep using it.

We have our answer, flamingbanjo.

(Hats off, Parks.)

Midnight Rhythm: A Chicago Story

posted by on November 7 at 4:37 PM

Right Direction - Midnight RhythmGerman Reissue label, Past Due, recently released their fourth 12” record. This time the label showcases the group Right Direction, a local Chicago funk/disco sensation from the 1970’s. The track, “Midnight Rhythm”, which was the group’s original name, is a funky feel-good classic from the most obscure corners of the Chicago soul scene. The track at the time, never received any label attention, which eventually led to the demise of the group. However, now through the help of Past Due, we are able to enjoy this amazing gem. The 12-inch single also features a few solid re-edits by Underdog EditsDJ Part Sixx and Simbad (AKA Mowgly).

Right Direction - Midnight Rhythm (Part Sixx’s re-work)

How I Steal Music*

posted by on November 7 at 4:01 PM

In all the crying over Oink’s shutdown, I meant to post how I typically steal music and why Oink’s death didn’t impact me all that much. With all of the MP3 blogs out there, it’s easier than ever to find things without ever needing to mess with torrenting (which I don’t do at work). So here’s the rundown (all you need is Google)—I find it simple and remarkably effective, but YMMV.

In Google, search for the artist and album title, then (here’s the kicker), the name of a file upload service. MP3 blogs typically use the same services, and nine times out of ten you can find what you’re looking for with variation on the upload service you use.

So let’s try this with the new Burial album. Search for “burial untrue megaupload” and *BAM* you’ve got multiple options for downloading the entire album. Sure, some links go down and there’s some trial and error, but by and large you can find what you’re looking for. I’ve found this technique works best with albums that are brand new or omnipresent.

Here are some services I typically use in my query:
- Megaupload
- Rapidshare
- Sendspace
- ZShare

A side benefit of doing this is you discover a lot of new blogs to keep up with. Hope this helps someone out until Oink’s replacement comes along (and when it does, send me an invite!)

*Pretend this is a disclaimer about how stealing music is wrong and how you should support artists by purchasing their albums and seeing them live and how this information is only for research purposes. Put another way, RIAA, don’t come knocking on my door.

The New Pornographers Challenge Me to Jump

posted by on November 7 at 3:58 PM

Argue if you must, but “myriad” is one of those words you just shouldn’t use. It’s like “eclectic.” Or “ubiquitous.” To the extent that a single word can be a cliche, they’re cliches. They’re worn out. They’re overused. There are people who slip “myriad” into conversation all the time, or worse, write with it, thinking it’s sorta fancy, when actually “countless” would do just fine and “myriad” is a word that everyone is well beyond familiar with. Someone uses it and you kinda wince.

(Literary digression: In David Leavitt’s novel Martin Bauman, the main character gets a short story accepted by a magazine when he’s still in college. It’s referred to as simply “the magazine” but is clearly The New Yorker. [Leavitt’s first story was published in The New Yorker when he was a college student.] There’s a scene where the narrator is in the office of “the magazine” and he glances at the wall behind the editor, and tacked to the wall behind the editor is a list of rules, one of which is “TITLES NOT TO READ BEYOND: ‘The First Time’” and another is “WORDS NOT TO READ BEYOND: ‘myriad.’”)

All of which brings me to the New Pornographers: there’s a song on their latest album Challengers that I am obsessed with, and it just so happens this song is called “Myriad Harbor.” Which is really fucking with my ability to maintain my grudge against “myriad.” Last night I was walking down a very long, very wet street, pasted with orange and brown leaves, and it was dark, and I was under my rain jacket’s very big hood, and I didn’t know what song I wanted to listen to, so I put on my iPod Shuffle, and didn’t like the first song it came up with so I skipped it, and didn’t like the second so skipped that too, and then then “Myriad Harbor” came on, which was exactly the right song, the song I wanted but didn’t know I wanted. (The Pitchfork review of the album, which dismisses “Myriad Harbor” in favor of the song that comes after it, is bullshit.)

It begins with a kind of growling bass and then a very hooky guitar and then a guy sings “I took a plane, I took a train” and then a group of others (guys and girls) interrupts “Ah, who cares you always end up in the city”—although they pronounce it “sit-eeee“—and on it goes, in this lone-voice-versus-group-of-voices call and response, with again this very whistleable guitar line. The song has a subdued, warm, giddy center, and it’s about being in the city, and the chorus goes: “Look out upon the myriad harbor, ha ha/Look out upon the myriad harbor, ha ha/Look out upon the myriad harbor, ha ha ha ha ha…” I don’t really know what that means, but goddamn it’s catchy, and as I was singing along I randomly encountered a big leather chair sitting out in a patch of lawn in the misty dark getting wet. The kind of thing you come across in a city at night. It was missing its cushion and you could see the springs and the song was making me want to jump and dance, so I jumped into the center of the chair—into the springs—and then kept going. Like I was in Mary Poppins or something.

This morning on my way to work, I walked by way of the chair, to see if it was still there, to confirm its existence, and I snapped this photo of it. It seemed a lot less magical in the daylight.

leatherchair.jpg

The-American-Apparel-Ray-Ban-Phenomenon

posted by on November 7 at 3:50 PM

After finding out that the Backstreet Boys’ new record actually debuted at #7 in the US, (and #2 in Canada), I decided to do some investigation. Partially out of curiosity (how is this musical crime still occuring?), but also out of shameful nostalgia for those bygone days of waiting in lines to buy tickets at the Tacoma Dome, and watching “Live in Orlando” on VHS until it was a fuzzy mess (“I think that’s ‘Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely’ in the background!”)

Yeah, I wasn’t one of those cool ten-year-olds who actually listen to good music or whatever.

Anyway, I went to their website and discovered that from the ashes of those flowing rain-drenched silk shirts and synchronized chair dances there has a-risen….
bsb8.jpg

30-something Hipsters!

Q: How is it that these trend-following doppelgangers are still players in the Billboard charts despite achieving championed mediocrity with a string of awful has-been pop albums?

A: Because they are sneaky and know that obviously sunglasses make you look cooler.

Other Stuff Tonight: Konkrete Jungle and Bonkers!

posted by on November 7 at 3:05 PM

Two non-Ruff Gemz happenings tonight of note. Not sure which (or if either) of these will get my attention after watching vampires wreck shit.

Konkrete Jungle - Tonight’s the opening for the Seattle chapter of Konkrete Jungle, the NYC weekly that claims to be the longest consistently running jungle weekly in the world. Of note to the all-agers is that this night is 16+. Doors at 8pm, going down at the CHAC. More info on the MySpace.
EDIT: Reading is fundamental - this is weeks away on the 28th. Sorry for the confusion, but consider this a heads up.

Bonkers! - Described as “A Night of Fresh Hot Braindance,” they’re certainly going for a different market than the usual Club Sugar audience by booking Hakea and NDCV. Will the cops still have to show up, this time breaking up fights between techno enthusiasts over how “live” a live set is? Perhaps. 8pm-12am, $3.

Let’s Talk About How Good This Song Is, Okay?

posted by on November 7 at 2:51 PM

“Alec Eiffel” by the Pixes:

I’ll go first:

I feel like it’s an often overlooked Pixies song, and it really shouldn’t be.

I like singing along with the bouncing “little eiffel, little eiffel” that gets repeated in every verse. I like the re-occurring guitar solo (or is that more a glorified riff?) that first happens not even a minute into the song. I love the way Frank Black sings “Keeping low doesn’t make no…” and then screams “sense!”. But my favorite part in the whole song is the keyboard that sounds almost like a choir singing, and that melody that comes in just before Kim Deal starts softly singing “Oh Alexander, I see you beneath the archway of aerodynamics.” And the rush of distortion/feedback that ends the song… I like that too.

Now it’s your turn.

Are You Running a Vacuum Cleaner in There?

posted by on November 7 at 2:36 PM

No, Mom. I’m listening to Loveless over and over and over, now that I’ve heard the news:

My Bloody Valentine: the reunion confirmed

Even better, the band has a new album “due sometime before the end of this year.” Wonder if it cost $500,000 to make.

Oh, happy day.

Today in Music News

posted by on November 7 at 12:00 PM

Shambles: Pete Doherty relapses via YouTube.

Some people actually still care about the Backstreet Boys: This is actually news to me. But Unbreakable debuted at number seven in the charts.

Britney can’t catch a break: In a last-minute Billboard change, The Eagles’ Walmart-exclusive trumps Blackout

MJ talking about Thriller: ...and Akon? … and losing Neverland?

Quick Break-up: Hot Water Music is back together and touring.

Where is the Love? Courtney releases Nirvana’s music for a biopic, hates Madonna.

Best Damn Thing: Avril is on her way, with a tour starting and ending in the PNW.

(Giving you possibly two chances to see her, complete with back-up dancers…)

Ruff Gemz Institute of Techno-logy

posted by on November 7 at 11:25 AM

bam2.jpgTonight, the Baltic Room chapter of Ruff Gemz ends. Come, celebrate. Infiltrate with dance. 1207 Pine St.

DJ FITS and Sam Rousso Sound System will be excavating levitation from the molecules of wood in the floor. Feet and people will half float, stuffed with moves. Canyons of techno and punk will dip into hip hop tendencies.

FITS possesses prowess of spin, a cross weave of weighted beats and waves of sweated sound. Bass is plowed. Cuts are a geyser. Schemes batter and mash, splurging with low end syncopation. The granite bust of James Murphy presides.

Up and down in the Fitsian fold, get psychic with your moves. Get your modes nasty. Get nude.

Thanks, FITS and Sam, for a great run.

Tonight in Music

posted by on November 7 at 11:22 AM

denguefever.jpg

Dengue Fever, Yogoman Burning Band
(Nectar) Dengue Fever, a raggedy bunch of L.A. hipsters fronted by a sultry Cambodian pop diva, have just finished a documentary chronicling their only tour of vocalist Ch’hom Nimol’s homeland. Guitarist Zac Holtzman recalls poorer, less-Westernized locals watching the band “with huge eyes, almost if we landed on a different planet.” That’s probably because the whirling psychedelia of a Farfisa organ, droning horns, and driving surf guitar combined with Ch’hom’s lush vocals is a far cry from the sentimental pop videos that dominate the televisions of the impoverished country. Blame the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime for killing off Cambodia’s budding rock scene. Thank Dengue Fever for bringing it back. JASON McBRIDE

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Feist
(Paramount) According to the Washington Post’s recently published “Moby Equation” (a formula for determining the degree to which licensing a song makes its creator a sellout), Feist’s video for “1, 2, 3, 4,” appearing in an iPod ad, isn’t really that serious of a transgression. The client is fairly cool, the song is hardly “sacred,” and Feist’s indie reputation is as nebulous as anyone’s in these postmodern, late-capitalist times. She’s not exactly Bob Dylan rolling around in an Escalade. Besides, that song and especially that video—with its impeccably executed, color-coded modern dance routine—are the shit. Feist’s sound—largely acoustic pop that highlights her ranging, breathy vocals—could come dangerously close to Starbucks counter–adult contemporary, but her songwriting displays a depth and daring that sets her safely apart. ERIC GRANDY

Laid Back - …Keep Smiling

posted by on November 7 at 11:08 AM

In 1979 Tim Stahl and John Guldberg formed the duo Laid Back in Copenhagen, Denmark. It wasn’t until 1982 that they had their first hit, “Sunshine Reggae”, which was actually a b-side to one of the singles off of their first, self-titled LP.

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The next album, 1983’s …Keep Smiling, proved to be their greatest success in the U.S. spawning the monster club hit “White Horse”. The album has other great moments, though, like “High Society Girl”, a remake of “Sunshine Reggae” and the totally chill cosmic closer “Fly Away/Walking In The Sunshine”.

Largely seen as one-hit wonders in the U.S. Laid Back managed to put together a number of European Top 40 hits through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, most notably with the song “Bakerman”, which spawned a brilliant video by a very young, pre-Dogme95, Lars Von Trier. The video was shot in one take with multiple cameras as the band and friends jumped out of an airplane. It was covered in 2006 by the cheeseball handbag house DJ Shaun Baker and charted a second time throughout Europe.

laidback.JPG

Since then Laid Back have mostly worked on movie and TV soundtracks, winning the Danish equivalent of an Oscar for their work in 2002.

Laid Back - White Horse (Original LP Version)
Laid Back - Fly Away/Walking In The Sunshine


…And here’s the brilliant, funny video to “Bakerman”.

A Poll: Is Nas’ Forthcoming Nigger Really the Most Offensive Album Title in History?

posted by on November 7 at 11:00 AM

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Last week Nas announced he’s naming his new album Nigger. He says (to MTV News):

“I wanna make the word easy on mutha——as’ ears,” he explained. “You see how white boys ain’t mad at ‘cracker’ ‘cause it don’t have the same [sting] as ‘nigger’? I want ‘nigger’ to have less meaning [than] ‘cracker.’ With all the bullsh— that’s going on in the world, racism is at its peak. I wanna do the sh— that’s not being done. I wanna be the artist who ain’t out. I wanna make the music I wanna hear.

Still, the music community is torn on Nas’ choice. Jay-Z, LL Cool J, and more support his decision, but 50 Cent says it’s “stupid” and Rev. Al Sharpton doesn’t approve either. Some are calling it the most offensive album title ever and are planning to boycott should Island/Def Jam go through with releasing it (which they are).

Music’s history is wrought with records with names far more offensive than Nigger. Take a look at the list below. Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water? BAD! Fiona Apple and her 90 word diatribe? TERRIBLE! And Barbara Streisand’s Christmas album? She’s Jewish! Nigger’s got nothin’ on these.

Which do you think is a more offensive album title?

Sub Pop’s Digital Download Store

posted by on November 7 at 10:05 AM

As Pitchfork reports this morning, local mega-indie Sub Pop’s digital download store is open for business. The mp3s are available as full album zip files of 192 kbps mp3s. Singles and EPs are forthcoming, as are exclusive tracks, but for the time being it’s just albums. Still, Pitchfork rightly highlights one pretty neat feature of Sub Pop’s scheme:

Maybe the coolest part of all this, though, lies in this little detail: “You can download the files you’ve purchased from your account page at any time and multiple times— if we update the download in any way (think bitrate or bonus tracks or whatever), you can just log in, go to your download page, and get the new version of the file.” Ever lose a few paychecks worth of digital music files in one fell swoop of a hard drive crash? Sub Pop understands.

Sub Pop content will continue to be available via iTunes as well as those weird, musty places called “record shoppes.”

Get Your Mogul On

posted by on November 7 at 12:01 AM

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From this month’s Rolling Stone interview with Chris Rock:

Chris Rock: Music kind of sucks. Nobody’s into being a musician. Everybody’s getting their mogul on. You’ve been so infiltrated by this corporate mentality that all the time you’d spend getting great songs together, you’re busy doing nine other things that have nothing to do with art. You know how shitty Stevie Wonder’s songs would have been if he had to run a fuckin’ clothing company and a cologne line?

Rolling Stone: Plenty of rappers say, “I’m not a rapper, I’m a businessman.”

Chris Rock: That’s why rap sucks, for the most part. Not all rap, but as an art form it’s just not at its best moment. Sammy the Bull would have made a shitty album. And I don’t really have a desire to hear Warren Buffett’s album—or the new CD by Paul Allen. That’s what everybody’s aspiring to be.

We live in a weird time. No one knows who’s smart—we just know who makes money. “Hey, somebody invented Viagra! We don’t know their name, but we know Pfizer, because they make the money.” That guy made a pill that keeps your dick hard, and nobody knows who the fuck he is. The pharmaceutical companies are like fuckin’ record companies. There’s literally the Bo Diddley of medicine walking around, not getting his royalties. He signed all his fucking pill publishing away.

Couldn’t help but think of that quote while watching American Gangster tonight. Playing secondary roles in the film—which was pretty damn entertaining—was a trio of high-profile hiphop stars. I’ve read several reviews of the movie and none made mention of its rapper-turned-actor count.

There’s RZA, sporting a ‘Fro and a Wu tattoo (um, the film is set in the early ’70s) in the role of a streetwise narc. And hey, isn’t that T.I. as a young athelete tempted by crime’s easy money? Not much of a stretch, but the kid does an admirable job. And there’s Lonnie Lynn—you know him as Common—sporting the same paperboy hat and collared shirt as in that old Reebok ad. Weird.

Especially spot-on was RZA’s imitation of a junkie—limping, mumbling “hey man, it’s me, Boogaloo!”—during a climactic bust scene. You can’t mistake that voice.

Seems you could apply Rock’s mogul theory to acting, too. Did anybody hear the last Common album? Did anybody care? Maybe acting is different—at least it’s an artistic pursuit—but these days, the roles Common chooses are more interesting than the albums he makes.

Hat tip to the Lefsetz Letter.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The African Hustle

posted by on November 6 at 3:18 PM

Disco Soccer LPDisco from Africa? Sound interesting? In the mid to late 1970s, there was an underground African disco movement with groups like Black Blood, Oneness Of Juju, Pacific Express, and Buari that blended disco and funk with traditional African music and tribal percussion grooves.

I’ve been addicted to this genre of music as of late, leading to some amazing finds. One of my favorite albums from this genre is Buari’s 1979 LP Disco Soccer. This record consists of original and amazing disco rhythms and arrangements without becoming too much of a departure from the traditional disco sound we all love. The record features two dynamite singles “Koko Si” and “I’m Ready.” “Koko Si” is an exotic disco gem that could easily make its way onto a ’70s adult film soundtrack, while “I’m Ready” is a more straightforward dancefloor-ready classic with a driving groove. The rest of the record should not be forgotten, with solid tracks like “It’s What’s Happening,” “Feed My Body,” and “African Hustle” to help round it out.

Original records of this genre tend to be extremely rare and expensive but extremely good, especially because it consisted just a few different groups. After listening to a few tracks, you can see how this music helped influence not only disco and funk but dub, reggae, jazz, and house. I would highly recommend giving it a listen and indulge yourself in something new.

Buari, “I’m Ready”
Buari, “Koko Si”

Also Tonight: Chin Up Chin Up

posted by on November 6 at 1:44 PM

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Before they hide out for the winter to record a new record for 2008, Suicide Squeeze’s Chin Up Chin Up are touring one more time and they’re at the Crocodile tonight with the Ponys and Tall Birds. Tickets are $10 at the door, and it’ll be your last chance to see the band until next year.

Not sure what any of that means? Don’t know who Chin Up Chin Up are? Click to listen to “This Harness Can’t Ride Anything” the title track on their latest record (via SuicideSqueeze.net).

Bonus MP3s:

The Ponys - “1209 Seminary” (via matadorrecords.com)
Tall Birds - “Won’t Look Back” (via thestranger.com/bands)

Hip Hop Beef: The RAND Corporation vs Ja Rule

posted by on November 6 at 1:35 PM

From the New York Times (emphasis added):

Questions remain about whether hip-hop’s explicit lyrics encourage early sex. Last year, the journal Pediatrics published research from the RAND Corporation concluding that degrading lyrics, not sexual lyrics, were the problem.

The researchers defined degrading lyrics as those that portrayed women as sexual objects, men as insatiable and sex as inconsequential. One example they cited was from the rapper Ja Rule, whose song “Livin’ It Up” includes the lyrics “Half the ho’s hate me, half them love me.” Notably, lyrics that celebrated sex, like those crooned by the band 98 Degrees — “I’m dreamin’ day and night of making love” — had no effect on sexual behavior, the study found.

Last Ruff Gemz Tomorrow Night

posted by on November 6 at 12:49 PM

The shifting sands will forever continue to move back and forth beneath our feet, and the winds of change will never stop blowing and making our hair look just so, am I right?

I am.

And tomorrow, those sands and winds bring one of my most beloved dance parties to an end. Ruff Gemz, the sacred weirdo-fest full of the kind of dance music I want to hear (punk, electro, queer) and $1 beer, is coming to it’s prolonged end. DJ Fucking in the Streets (our own Eric Grandy, natch) and Sam Rousso Soundsystem will be spinning for free.

Do yourself a favor and go. Get stoned in the dog park, walk one block up to the Baltic Room, get a stamp, drink four beers, dance with Mr. Spazztastic (you’ll know him when you see him), get a slice at Juliano’s next door, go back and dance until they kick you out. You won’t regret it, and you will know how the section of the population you most admire lived every Wednesday night for approximately the last year and a half.

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Photo by Lauren Max.

Alan Stivell and Celtic Rock

posted by on November 6 at 12:44 PM

In the little village of Gourin, in the Bretagne region of France, Alan Cochevelou was born to play the Celtic harp. The year was 1944.

When he was a young boy, his father moved the family to Paris, where they lived until Alan was a teenager. As a teen, he became interested in his Breton background, its language, culture, and most importantly, its music. He studied the native language and practiced on the bombarde, an instrument native to Breton that’s a cross between a whistle and oboe that has a very distinct sound.

In 1956, his father made a Celtic harp in the Breton style. Alan began practicing and playing out in local folk clubs and became famous for his rock-leaning style. He changed his last name to Stivell, which means “fountain” in Breton, as a way of recognizing the growing resurgance of Breton folk music.

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In 1971, Stivell released an album called Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique, which took the folk music world by storm. The A-side had five traditional songs all arranged by Stivell, and the B-side was a suite of 11 folk songs from Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. The side starts out with harp only, but by the end an orchestra of traditional Celtic instruments joins in to jam. It’s a fascinating and monumental work that changed the way many traditional instrumentalist were playing folk music at the time. (Incidentally, one of the tracks on the album is called “Ys”, the same name as the recent album by harp-playing freak-folkist Joanna Newsom.)

Of course, it didn’t hurt that this was during the heyday of the British Acid Folk scene. Groups like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span topped the charts and vocalists like Anne Briggs and Shirley Collins were being rediscovered. The addition of an instrumentalist into the proggy vein of the scene seemed totally natural.

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In 1975, Stivell’s rock-oriented Celtic/Breton folk was so popular in Ireland that he recorded a live album from the National Soccer Stadium in Dublin, aptly called Live In Dublin. The sell-out crowd, very audible in the recording, totally loves Stivell and is heard singing along throughout the concert. (Around this same time Alan Stivell came to Seattle for a performance for the Seattle Folklore Society.)

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Stivell used his rock arrangements to his advantage with his 1976 Celtic Rock release on the highly influential prog/psyche label Vertigo. The album is a collection of some of his folk-influenced acid rock gems. It became the blueprint for many prog and folk musicians, combining ancient folk textures with rock’s heavy language. It’s a stunning album and includes some of his biggest and most influential tunes. Just listen to “An Dro Nevez” and see if you can’t hear it in a number of songs by artists like Kate Bush (who has both had Alan as a guest on her Sensual World album, and guested on his album Again), Steeleye, and Fairport Convention—not to mention the lilting solo albums by Sandy Denny. (“An Dro Nevez” was also used on the recent Andy Votel compilation of Vertigo records called Vertigo Mixed. It’s mixed into tracks by Affinity and Beggars Opera.)

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In 1980, Stivell wrote his Celtic Symphony—a dangerous prospect, as any well-known prog-rocker who went down this road in the ‘70s usually ended up ridiculed for their pretention (see Rick Wakeman). Miraculously, Stivell succeeds in his own way. The album includes a more rounded world beat arrangement, including sitars, African drummers, and chanting from the Algerian Berber women’s group Djur Djura. It roughly tells of the search for the mythical Celtic island of eternal youth, Tir Na n’Og.

In the Celtic myth, Oisin convinces the fairy Niamh to take him to Tir Na n’Og. After a few years on the island, Oisin misses his family and asks to go back. Time has stopped on Tir Na n’og, but on the mainland, 300 years have passed. Niamh agrees to let him go, but warns him not to touch the ground: If he does, time will catch up with him instantly. While back on the mainland, Oisin can’t help but dismount from his horse, with the expected consequences.

The album is a thinly veiled protest against nuclear destruction and was one of the first to combine many world influences, a trend that would lead to a larger world music community in the following years.

Since that time, Stivell has worked to bring the traditions of Breton and Celtic Music to larger and larger audiences, regularly selling out huge stadiums in Europe with tours that rival anything by Pink Floyd.

His most recent album—his 22nd—Explore includes his standard Breton and Celtic folk mixed with rock, but also throws in reggae and hiphop for the first time.

To hear what Alan Stivell has brought to the world of Rock, go to my blog for downloads.

Dumb.

posted by on November 6 at 12:36 PM

So American Idol teamed up with Pringles to give chip lovers a chance to win tickets to the next American Idol finale or something. Neat? So now Pringles has these limited edition music-themed packages.

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Rock is Original flavor.
R&B is Cheddar Cheese.
Pop is Sour Cream & Onion.

It bugs me. R&B should be Sour Cream & Onion because is “cool” and “smooth,” right? And pop should be Cheddar Cheese because it’s cheesy!

DUH!

I’m thinking about it too much, I know that. Still, I bought them and brought them to the office.

Josh Feit ate some cheese ones and when I asked him if they tasted like R&B he blissfully said “Yes.” Grandy brought up a great point: “Where does this leave Rap Snacks?” And Zwickel just shoved some in his mouth while saying “Rockin’ out with Pringles!”

Whatever.

Stupid musical “potato crisps.”

How Will The RIAA Spin This?

posted by on November 6 at 12:22 PM

“Man who used file sharing programs for identity theft pleads guilty”

Real story: You guys may remember Limewire, one of the many computer programs that popped up in the wake of the original Napster. Works the same, except it allows Internet file sharing for more than just MP3s. Thing is, if you configure the program without knowing what the hell you’re doing, you can share your entire hard drive, which means someone can pop on the search wire, look for terms like “passwords” or “IRS” and steal your information. Seattle’s Gregory Kopiloff got caught doing this very thing to rack up credit card charges.

Spin story: “Millions of consumers expose their sensitive information when they use P2P file sharing networks and thousands of potential criminals a day search and find this information to commit ID theft and fraud.”

Translation: OMG OiNK IS IN UR INTERNET STEELIN UR LOOTZ

Give me a break. Kopiloff is obviously a total tech douchebag, but, well…your computer on the Internet is like a car sitting in an unlit parking lot in downtown Detroit. Pay attention and lock it up—it’s truly not that difficult. What’s more, the popular BitTorrent protocol is actually designed to prevent Kopiloff-style searches. Scare stories are the RIAA’s bread and butter in resisting the inevitable, so here’s to hoping they don’t pick up on this story (which, to be clear, they haven’t just yet) and pollute the newswire with more misinformation about the evils of the Internet.

Started in ’87, Ended in ’89

posted by on November 6 at 12:06 PM

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I love Operation Ivy.

I could talk for hours about why they’re so great. I could quote favorite lyrics, I could tell you over and over again how I will never feel completely satisfied in my life because I never had the opportunity to see the band live (I was 8 years old in Lake Stevens, WA when they were in their prime), and I could tell you about the time I had to miss my great grandmothers memorial service two years ago because I got to/had to do a phone interview with the band’s former frontman Jesse Michaels (for another publication) and it was surreal and awesome.

Gush gush gush, swoon swoon swoon. I have a real, honest to god relevant reason for mentioning the band.

Hellcat has remastered the band’s self-titled full-length (that was originally released on Lookout! in 1991, almost two years after the band broke up), and it’s in stores today. In this week’s paper I “review” the album. By review I mean to say “examine why it is the 15 year old record has managed to stay not only good but relevant and one of Lookout!’s best selling records to this day.”

OPERATION IVY
Operation Ivy
(Hellcat)
****

The best thing Operation Ivy ever did for us was break up.

For almost 15 years now, Operation Ivy, the posthumous 30-track record released on Lookout! Records almost two years after the band called it quits, has survived as an authentic snapshot of the much-romanticized late-’80s to early-’90s Bay Area music scene where bands like Green Day, Crimpshrine, and Jawbreaker thrived.

Though Op Ivy’s founding members moved on to other projects—Tim “Lint” Armstrong and Matt Freeman found commercial success in Rancid while Jesse Michaels teamed up with ex-members of Squirtgun and Screeching Weasel to form the unmemorable Common Rider—their music remains untainted by age or later compromises and mistakes. This month Hellcat Records will rerelease a remastered version of the record that is one of the best-selling in Lookout!’s history.

Hearing it now, far removed from the Bay Area scene by both miles and years, you can still feel the fervor inside a 19-year-old Michaels as he sings to a pack of sweaty outcasts from the stage at 924 Gilman. He fearlessly questions authority and calls for social justice, while his bandmates take cues from the Clash and Madness, bridging the gap between ska and punk rock. They were and will always be a vital punk band with brains, big hearts, and an endearing naiveté. MEGAN SELING

So there. There’s that.

Now, here’s this… Rancid’s tribute to the Op Ivy years:

It’s the one thing that I can depend on.

Achy Breaky Dickinson Cheney

posted by on November 6 at 12:05 PM

This Week in Crack - Emily Dickinson is Reincarnated as Billy Ray Cyrus’ Mullet played by Mary Cheney:

hannah.jpgFourteen year-old Miley Cyrus, daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, stars in the Emmy-nominated Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana.” Hannah Montana is a teen rock star who doesn’t want people to know she’s a teen rock star.

Miley Cyrus plays Miley Stewart, the alter-ego of Hannah Montana. Miley Stewart is a normal teen with a secret - she doesn’t want the world to link her to Hannah Montana because she wants to have some semblance of a normal life. Billy Ray Cyrus plays Miley’s dad in the series.

With the writers on strike, they have asked me to rewrite the storyline:

Here it is. The secret has changed –

Forget the teen rock star angle. What Miley Stewart really doesn’t want the world to know is that her father, Billy Ray Cyrus (“Achy Breaky Heart”) is the CHEESIEST MOTHERFUCKER OF ALL TIME. She’s embarrassed by her relation to him and desperately wants to hide it.

mullet1.jpgThe new series focuses on Billy Ray’s mullet. The mullet will be played by Dick Cheney’s gay daughter, Mary. The mullet taunts and tantalizes Miley, telling her she can’t sing and that she should die. Miley in turn develops intense hatred for the gay Cheney mullet. Miley schemes and plots to cut the mullet off while Billy Ray is sleeping, but she can’t get past his ever present duo of body guards. The mullet laughs and jeers at her.

The twist in the series is the discovery that the gay Cheney mullet is the reincarnation of Emily Dickinson. Emily Dickinson has been reincarnated as Billy Ray Cyrus’s mullet played by Mary Cheney.

The jeering and the taunting from the mullet turn into non-stop poetry. “Achy Breaky Heart” becomes “If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking” :

Dickinson.jpgIf I can stop one heart from breaking

I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one pain

Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain

Miley can’t take it. She goes insane and becomes a female wrestler called “Tundra”.

Today in Music News

posted by on November 6 at 11:33 AM

Radiohead on ATO? Probably. And expect a box set by Christmas.

“The album is basically a sort of … it’s like the ‘Ghostbusters’”: The Mars Volta wrote their new record with inspiration from “the Soothsayer”.

There goes the neighborhood: Former space of CBGB’s becoming a men’s boutique.

Vocal cord cysts are the new acid reflux:Meat Loaf’s got one, cancels tour

Mick Jones’ new band
:Former Clash guitarist’s Carbon/Silicon described as “the Rolling Stones jamming with a laptop”?

Take that Prince tat off your Myspace: You might get sued…

Love Will Tear Us Apart

posted by on November 6 at 11:20 AM

Courtney Love has sold the rights to Nirvana’s catalog and Charles Cross’ Heavier than Heaven to Universal Pictures for use in a forthcoming Love-produced biopic.

Oh well, whatever. Everett True’s book is better.

(Hat Tip to Idolator)

Tonight in Music

posted by on November 6 at 9:41 AM

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Jens Lekman, Throw Me the Statue, Viktor Sjöberg
(Nectar) Jens Lekman can fly. Not like Superman or R. Kelly—more like a new character on Heroes discovering his abilities. When the Swedish dreamboat launches into a song like “You Are the Light” (from his debut, When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog), or the new “And I Remember Every Kiss,” and his vibrant, kitchen-sink orchestrations kick in, joy audibly surges in his humble voice—like he jumped out a 10th-story window, only to be lifted over the city by an updraft. Even when hopelessly earthbound, squirming his way through posing as the boyfriend of a lesbian chum for her family (“A Postcard to Nina”), there’s a spring in his step. A huge chasm divides melancholy from bittersweet, but Lekman sails over it time and again, always touching down lightly on the latter before ascending once more. KURT B. REIGHLEY

And Eric Grandy profiled openers Throw Me the Statue and their label Baskerville Hill a couple weeks ago:

Indeed, Throw Me the Statue’s live show is wildly energetic. Live drums, electric guitars, and four-part harmonies replace Reitherman’s multitracking, and the able, athletic band switch instruments, add extra percussion, and throw in melodica and glockenspiel with an abandon grounded by serious musicianship.

Lekman is also playing an in-store at Easy Street’s Queen Anne location at 6 pm.

Find more in Get Out, our searchable calendar.

Altered Beats

posted by on November 6 at 9:20 AM

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I may have made a mistake, or at least an omission, in my review of Alter Ego’s new album, Why Not?! in this week’s CD reviews. See if you can spot it:

ALTER EGO

Why Not?!

(Klang)

***

Alter Ego, the German duo of Roman Flügel and Jörn Elling Wuttke, have been producing electronic music for more than a decade, but they didn’t make a popular impact until 2004 with the release of club anthem “Rocker.” The track’s name, as well as the heavy-metal guitars sublimated in its squealing portamento synths, placed the duo in that fertile (but not yet overcultivated) crescent between rock and techno. If Justice are the Christians, then Alter Ego are the Sumerians: Without “Rocker” there would be no “Waters of Nazareth.”

In the three years since “Rocker” and the full-length that contained it, the formidable Transphormer, Alter Ego’s brand of aggressive drum machinery and growling synths has ushered in a flood of like-minded producers, many clustered around the Ed Banger and Kitsuné labels. So where does that leave Flügel and Wuttke?

Judging by their new album, Alter Ego aren’t feeling inundated; rather, they’re floating along on the high tide with the same crushing sound and acidic humor as always.

The 74-minute, 11-track Why Not?! is front-loaded with the ridiculously fun title track, a pitch-sliding techno banger tied to an unmistakable Bavarian beer hall oom-pah, and the lush Tubeway Army tribute of “Gary.” These are more jovial songs than anything from Transphormer, and they set a lighter mood for the new album. The drunk swerving of “Fuckingham Palace” and the synthetically chuckling “Jolly Joker” only heighten that mood.

The album loses some steam heading into the halfway point with the acid workout of “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” and a problem starts to reveal itself: Alter Ego, for all their good humor, make some seriously punishing techno. It might work best in smaller doses.

With the exception of the squawking “Chicken Shag” and the air horns and artificial fog of “Pleasure Island,” the album’s second half works into a less grueling but still rewarding groove. You just might want to give yourself a break before flipping the record over. ERIC GRANDY

It has to do with my take on “Gary.” Line Out tipper Dave writes, “It’s actually a tribute to Gary Glitter. The rhythm’s lifted directly from the Glitter Band’s ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah!).’”

Damn! I was certain the song’s ’80s synth pads were a nod to Gary Numan.

“That’s very possible,” concedes Dave. “But the rhythm is from the Gary Glitter Band, lock, stock & barrel. Although that title could make it a dual tribute, come to think of it…”


Monday, November 5, 2007

Photos: Art Brut & The Hold Steady

posted by on November 5 at 7:55 PM

(all photos by Justin Dylan Renney)

Art Brut

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The Hold Steady

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Hot Water Music Reunion

posted by on November 5 at 4:07 PM

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The defunct Hot Water Music has a collection of old material called Til The Wheels Fall Off coming out January 22, 2008, and the band has confirmed that they’re playing a few reunion shows around that time (via punknews.org) too.

The dates are:

January 19, 2008 Orlando, FL House of Blues
January 25, 2008 Sayerville, NJ Starland Ballroom
February 2, 2008 Chicago, IL Metro

No other dates have been announced and the band says they can’t promise there will or won’t be others added.

I hope, I hope, I hope they tour again. But I’m not really rooting for new material, personally. Their last album, The New What Next was unmemorable, and I’m only into about half of the Draft record (which is the new band formed by HWM members after singer Chuck Ragan left). Still, the band puts on a stellar live show and I wouldn’t mind seeing ‘em one more time.

Animal House

posted by on November 5 at 2:19 PM

Clipd Beaks, Partman Parthorse, Casy & Brian @ the Comet - 11/03/07

So, it all worked out fine. Nobody got hurt, not even in the feelings department. Brian tells me I may have gotten the wrong version of Casy & Brian’s new cd, Catbees, and that I should give the proper release a listen before I judge it too harshly. But I forgot to grab one at the show. Their show was tighter than I’ve ever seen them, and the very things that make their cd drag a bit for me—barked raps, wild drumming, simple synth hooks—make their live show pretty fun. There’s still something about them that seems bitter or jaded compared to the posi-pop of Brian’s former band Dalmatians. When he sings about not sending press releases (“we don’t play that game”), playing in basements (“literally underground”), and not bowing to external pressures (“we made the record that we want to hear”), there’s something almost sour about it.

Partman Parthorse are more sneering than sour, and with good reason—their show was the rawest, most radical set I’ve seen from them yet. Singer Gary Smith was stripped down and singing while hoisting a monitor over his shoulder (he’s in obscenely good shape), while the band progressed from brute drone to rhythmic riffing to total noise freakout. Their combination of dark drones, repeated riffs, and half-sung half-spoken vocals reminded me a little bit of Pissed Jeans’ bad rock vibes.
They’re recording new material right now, and if last night’s show was any indication, their next album should be a blast.

Oakland’s Clipd Beaks were a hash-stoned mess of sound, way more loud and aggressive than last time they played Seattle, when they may have been toning it down for the sake of Gallery 1412’s neighbors. The band were an overwhelming force of pounding percussion, fractured guitars and keys, echoing vocals, and occasionally trumpet blare. Individual members thrashed and flailed at their instruments, and singer Nic Barbeln moaned into dual microphones when not beating a drum, playing trumpet, or messing with effects pedals. I was missing the precision post-everything prog of Battles across the street, but Clipd Beaks felt like an alternate, ghetto-blasted version of that band, one just as dedicated to dense sound manipulation and progress but completely given over to animal instinct rather than refined robotic impulses.

You Gotta Do What? I GOTTA BELIEVE!

posted by on November 5 at 2:16 PM

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10 years ago, I would sit with my buddy Jason, smoke weed and play PaRappa The Rapper on his Sony Playstation for hours and hours. ‘Twas bliss.

PaRappa The Rapper is a game in which you play as a little dog named PaRappa. He wants to do a bunch of stuff that seems out of his reach: beat up bullies, get his driving license, buy a new car, go to the bathroom…. And to do so, he has to rap just like his teachers in each situation. It’s hilarious and awesome. And cute as a button.

Imagine my excitement when I found out it was released for PSP last month! Whoowee! It’s got awesome extras like songs you can download to your PSP into the game from a special website you can access from your system. (Okay, the only thing different about the songs is the music, the raps stay the same).

I was never able to get very far in the original, but last night I hit the jackpot bonus! That only happens when you reach the “U Rappin’ Cool!” level of each stage. At that point, my teacher kicked down the walls of the dojo and I was able to just “freestyle” for two minutes just goin’ crazy on my PSP! I wish I could have recorded it, but this will have to do.

This person doesn’t go to bonus, but his dope beats gave me inspiration on my journey to freestylin’ as a puppy dog rapper.

Enjoy!

Tonight in Music

posted by on November 5 at 2:00 PM

Monday is empty in this week’s U&Cs, but you know what? There’s still stuff happening! Just not stuff we can necessarily vouch for. Checking out Get Out, our online database of every show in the world… I mean Seattle and the surrounding areas, I see:

The Intelligence are playing at the Rendezvous for only $5. Click the link to visit their Bands Page.

The Octopus Project are headlining Chop Suey with Foscil and Square Wail.

Ben Lee is at Neumo’s, and if your lucky (or not) he’ll play a couple of his Against Me! covers for you.

Brides of Obscurity (featured on this week’s Setlist) are at the Funhouse.

There’s more! Just see for yourself

The Time For Burial

posted by on November 5 at 1:06 PM

Now is that time!
HDBCD002.jpg What to say about Untrue? A few words from Alain Badiou:

This event has taken place, it is something which I can either evaluate, nor demonstrate, but to which I shall be faithful.
With this music, the new music, and the new moves inspired by this new music—with it is the end of all the rest. Burial means the burial of all that happened before him. He is this death, this earth upon which the sun that rose over Düsseldorf now sets. Even hiphop suffocates in his tomb of inhuman sounds. Buy Untrue.

Custom Was the Case That He Made Me

posted by on November 5 at 11:43 AM

Moving gear and instruments from place to place is one of the necessary evils of playing music. The hassle of transporting that gear can be dicey, especially on a plane. Equipment must be packed, and packed right. You love your gear and you want it to be safe. Your gear is good to you, and deserves a decent case.

Can you say shock mount?

Mark DeHart at Rock Hard Cases in Albany, OR can make you that case. He can make any type of case for any type of gear. He will keep your gear-child safe. He is the Shock Mount Man. He’s also nice as hell.

His stuff is rugged, functional, and made for years of use. High-grade plywood case walls are riveted to aluminum framework. We’re talking double channel aluminum angle, heavy duty zinc plated steel corner protectors, and recessed latches and handles.

WARNING: The picture you are about to see is graphic in nature. For those who are gear sensitive, you might want to look away. Two Fish Studios were driving to record a concert and they had an accident. $65,000 worth of gear was dumped out onto the highway at 65 mph:

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The trailer landed on a Rock Hard case and nothing was harmed. The wreckage was removed, the gear was powered up, and everything worked perfectly. Unbelievable. They made it to the show the next day, like nothing happened, and are still using the same case to this day. Let us give thanks.

Thank you, Mark, I am rock hard.

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Heebee-Jeebees to Bee-Gees

posted by on November 5 at 11:27 AM

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Seattle soft-rockers Arthur & Yu hit the road last week for a three-week U.S. tour opening for Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene. We’ll be posting dispatches from Grant Olsen (Arthur) and Sonya Westcott (Yu) as we receive them. Here are the first…

So far we’ve managed to avoid the Cracker Barrels and Waffle Houses on the way to Boulder, CO. After a pleasant stop in Boise and a very chilly night in Cheyenne, we were ready to play our first show—especially after I had assaulted everyone’s ears with the soundtracks from Xanadu and Labyrinth.

Boulder is beautiful and we lucked out on great weather. Grant lived there before and he showed us around for a bit. Fortunately, we had some time to check out Boulder before we loaded in. Finally, we met Kevin Drew and crew for the very first time, and they seemed to be a very sweet bunch. Immediately we got down to the important subjects: Where can we eat in this town other than a burger joint? Who has tequila? And will there be a late night dance party after the show? Yes! I think we will become fast friends!

For not having played with each other for a couple of weeks, our first night went pretty well. Having family and friends in the crowd helped ease the nerves—or maybe magnified them. Whichever, it was fun. We have 12 more shows to look forward to!

Broken Social Scene presents Kevin Drew played a super great show. Even with fewer members, they sounded incredible. Faces were definitely melted. I’m still amazed that we’re on this tour and lucky enough to watch them play night after night.

c30 c60 c90 go!

—Sonya

Hello Stranger,

I always feel better after the first show is done and the heebee-jeebees turn to bee-gees. As Sonya said, Boulder is old stomping grounds, which made it a big deal (personally) to play on the same stage I had watched old-whips like Lee Scratch Perry play when I was under 21. Boulder is full of friendly ghosts, one of which I made mention of before we played our song about Bull Lee—a different Lee—who lived a few doors down from the theater in the early ’90s—a ridiculous and fitting place for a dirty old man to take residence. Regardless of what Dave Eggers wrote about William S. Burroughs in the forward to his book everyone went ga-ga for, he made his way into our song and I still think there’s cause for trying to raise that ugly spirit from the dead on a dull day. It’s yet to work, but maybe we’ll give it another go in Chicago where I find myself right now, writing this dear-diary to who-knows-who, which brings me to another first: I’m just getting my feet wet in the blog pool, so I apologize if these are rough reads. I am a shit-nostalgist with ugly grammar and we’ll see how it goes.

If I’m to reminisce on anything that has happened, I would tell you that we drove through the vagrant roads of eastern Colorado into Nebraska and as we sat down to eat at a restaurant full of Budwiser-Baptists, a group of a dozen transvestites took the table across from us and we were reminded that America is not just beautiful on the outside.

Yours truly,
Grant

Fall Back? No, GetBack!

posted by on November 5 at 11:01 AM

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North Cackalack’s favorite sons Little Brother, fresh off the release of their third album Getback, were good enough to wreck Chop Suey Saturday night. The show was hotly anticipated, with some of Seatown’s favorites-DJ Topspin, The Physics, Grynch and Dyme Def (a perfect lineup to compliment LB IMO)- opening up. A sold out crowd eagerly awaited a good-ass time, and gotdammit, they got it.

Continue reading "Fall Back? No, GetBack!" »

We Know the Website is Acting Goofy. Sorry.

posted by on November 5 at 10:51 AM

You may have noticed that when you click on the comments link, it makes the comments page appear twice (in both the already open window and a new pop-up window). We know it’s happening, and our tech guys are on it. Bear with us, it will be fixed.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Post-everything: Battles @ Neumo’s

posted by on November 5 at 10:50 AM


Updated with video of “Atlas”

Inexplicable: Battles caused a blip in the matrix, a disturbance in the force, a fold in the space-time continuum. They started their set at 11:30; instantly, an hour later, the set was done. The music—so unprecedented as to be ridiculous, hilarious—absorbed the time that passed without the universe taking notice, part science, part fiction.

Every instrument (the quartet switched off on three guitars, bass, a pair of keyboards, a battery of digital consoles, and drums) was a drum beating out rhythms. Every rhythm braided into stuttering helixes, every helix curved into endless, arcing oblivion. The music’s digital filigree was as intricate and self-referential as a pulsing fractal and as elegant as mathematics. To open, they played for what was probably 20 minutes straight without stopping and there was no telling what they had just done to make the sounds they just made. During only a handful of moments throughout the night, what was happening on-stage visibly synched with the sounds coming from the speakers. John Stanier’s drumming—precisely off-kilter, propulsively unpredictable—was the only clear indicator of direct human causation.

That doesn’t describe it right. I was briefly aware during the show that there would be no proper way to verbalize Battles’ music, an inarguable fact in hindsight. There was no pre-existing word for the way or the words Tyondai Braxton sang: It’s scatting, it’s chanting, but it’s neither of those, it’s simultaneously machinelike and munchkinlike. There was jazz structure in the song development, and there were heavy metal aggression and prog-rock timing and techno cyclicalism. The band chewed those styles and spit out a sound beyond them all, post-everything. It was intellectual but totally natural. It was populist enough to sell the place out, accessible enough to send the crowd into a pogoing, fist-pumping frenzy during “Atlas.” The music’s brains and brawn couldn’t overshadow its sense of humor.

Overheard from the crowd between the last song and the encore were dumbfounded comparisons: “Miles Davis, In a Silent Way.” “T. Raumschmiere.” “Fugazi.” “Tortoise.” “Bebop.” “Dub.” These too were accurate but incomplete.

Outside the show it was this: “I respect the technical aspect, but what about soul?”

The soul is there to find. It’s not old-guy-with-an-acoustic-guitar-and-an-alimony-payment soul, it’s four-spectacularly-professional-guys-honing-a-relentlessly-novel-sound soul. There’s soul in the music’s willful difficulty and its resulting humor. Nothing sounds like Battles; Battles sounds like everything. It’s a brand-new thing.

That’s still not describing it right. It’s hard to tell how influential the music will be—it’s almost too monolithic, too much of itself to leave a legacy beyond itself. Which makes it really fun to be in the presence of while it’s happening, especially after you realize that time vanished and you witnessed something inexplicable and will never be able to describe the experience properly to anyone. Pure WTF??? moments are all too rare. Last night was built of them.

Don’t Ask Me How the Hold Steady Show Was Because I Didn’t Get to See the Hold Steady Show

posted by on November 5 at 9:40 AM

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The UW campus makes no sense unless you are or were a student. I am not, I never was. For 45 minutes last night I wandered its paths, looking for the Husky Union Building (HUB) where the Hold Steady and Art Brut were scheduled to play. I got to the campus late, I was in a hurry, and I really, really didn’t want to miss the show, but I had no idea where to go. I asked a couple people where it was, but one gave really confusing directions that just got me more lost and another (must’ve been a freshman) didn’t know where it was.

Perfect.

I finally found a soccer team of boys who knew the way—it was all the way on the other side of the campus.

Perfect.

10 minutes later I eventually made it to the HUB. I made it to the HUB just in time to see the college students drizzle out of the building and walk away saying things like “I love bands like that!” and “That was so much fun!’

“Is the Hold Steady show over?” I asked a trio of dudes.

“The Hold Steady show is over,” they confirmed.

Perfect.

I went inside anyway. I walked past the really happy singer of Art Brut as he carried out the last of the band’s equipment, and I bought a t-shirt from the merch guy who was starting to pack up for the evening.

Then I stared at the empty room for a minute.

I bet it was the best Hold Steady show ever in the history of all Hold Steady shows that ever existed ever. I bet they opened with “Massive Nights,” I bet they played “Chips Ahoy” and “Stuck Between Stations.” I bet they played “Southtown Girls” and “Citrus” and I bet they played a perfect version of “First Night” and brought out a baby grand piano and maybe even Elton John discreetly came out to take the piano parts.

I bet Craig Finn had witty things to say to the audience between songs, and I bet the audience was full of girls wearing colorful plastic bead necklaces and boys wearing glasses and sweaters who danced hard and sang loud and loved every second of it just like I know I would have.

I bet Finn’s old Lifter Puller bandmates came out to play a few tracks, I bet they played “Space Humping $19.99,” and I bet when the Hold Steady came out for an encore (because I bet they were called back for an encore) they had confetti cannons and a balloon drop and pyrotechnics that would make Van Halen jealous. And I bet as everyone left, they were handed a potty-trained Golden Retriever puppy with a big red bow around his neck.

I bet, I bet, I bet.

But I’ll never know. Because I went to the Hold Steady show and all I got was a lousy t-shirt with a mustache on it.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Battles, Pleasureboaters, Bronze Fawn @ Neumos

posted by on November 4 at 3:34 PM

Last night’s Battles show was sold out before the doors even opened, and there were a lot of bummed out kids who didn’t plan ahead sulking away from the will call window. Word of mouth must be working pretty well for the band; their last show in Seattle filled the Croc but wasn’t nearly as huge as their return at Neumos. Locals Bronze Fawn opened with their building, emotionally swollen instrumental rock a la Explosions In The Sky and the Mercury Program. They let the crowd know that one of their members was in Thailand (I assume a second guitarist), so we weren’t “getting the full Bronze Fawn experience.” The band had its moments, but I don’t have anything particularly positive or negative to say about them. They sounded like several bands I’m into (specifically Mercury Program), but weren’t able to keep me more interested than a conversation with visiting friends from out of town.

Pleasureboaters were an odd choice to open the show, but I was personally excited to see them for the first time as I have been really enjoying their debut album “Gross.” They’re dance music, but also punk, and their sound is completely abrasive. Overall I was a little disappointed with their outing. The vocals were too high in the mix, and were noticeably more shrill and out of key than on the album, losing the gritty quality I was used to and replacing it with high-pitched sass. This was their first show with albums available, and it was a big break to be playing for a sold-out Neumos crowd, but I don’t think they won over as many fans as they might have been able to. The main problem was that the band simply played for too long. If they would have chosen their best 7 or 8 songs and called it a night it would have left a much better impression than playing probably every song they’ve written. I know it’s hard when there’s a huge crowd watching to show restraint, but when you’re opening to a crowd who are dying see a band like Battles it’s always best to leave them wanting more, not wishing you’d wrap it up already.

News flash: Battles are still one of the best live bands in the world. The way the four of them read each other’s movements and play off each other’s parts is truly inspiring to watch. Their set wasn’t as solid as the one at the Croc; there were a few noticeable flub-ups and extra-long transitions that are inevitable for a band trying to weave together as many complicated parts as they are. Really though, unless you are intimately familiar with Battles songs and/or are watching their expressions and interactions closely it’s probably not likely anyone would notice. Stanier keeps the drums going steady as they work out the kinks, and then they transition seamlessly into a new song. It wasn’t as perfect as before, but that’s hardly a complaint. You can’t be bummed about a show being “merely amazing.”

I was on the floor by the stage, as close to guitarist Ian Williams as I could get so as to watch his magical hands. Unfortunately, the attention of myself and everyone in my close proximity was hijacked by some piece of shit kid who couldn’t handle his mushrooms storming around the floor headbutting people, stepping on everyone’s feet, and generally being a real fuck. It wasn’t until the band started playing “Tonto” that the drugged out idiot started really losing his shit, hands on his head like he was having a mental breakdown, knocking people around in a furor. A security guard came over, and with the help of several audience members pushing him from behind, dragged the asshole out of the pit. Everyone in the section threw up their hands, hi-fiving and cheering. It was like a malignant tumor had just been successfully removed from out collective body. For the rest of the show we were free to dance respectfully and devote our full attention to a band that deserves no distractions.

Turn Back Time

posted by on November 4 at 9:21 AM

Fall back, duders.

Here’s an appropriate video to enjoy while you reset all your clocks.