Hello, fellow members of the small Cult of Toler—you know who you are and about the many faces of its figurehead: he rocked you as the singer for Bainbridge Island punk-rockers Pud. He gave you dark thrills in Cold Way Walking and as the diabolical vocal half of the hazy, gothic-country-rock band Blessed Light. (Toby Gordon, the angelic-sounding half, is still playing as/with the Blessed Light, but makes no mention of Gavin or the infamous "lost record"—a bootleg copy still exists and gets passed around by Seattle fans—on his website.)
Toler then dove into Los Angeles and "California mystic folk" with Winter Flowers. That's all I heard of Toler for a few years.
But a friend just forwarded me some new Toler recordings released online late last year—he's still singing high and delicately, as he did with Winter Flowers, but some of the dusky, dark shadings of the Blessed Light years has crept back into his voice.
Sorry some of them are hard to make out. They took away my computer with Photoshop on it and replaced it with a word processor when they moved me from the web department to the editorial department (aka, The Room Where Computers Go to Die). I found them in an old box. The rubber band holding them all together just crumbled when I pulled on it.
Click to see in a new window
The ones that are really hard to see are NOFX and Rockstock '94. All I remember about the latter was that we snuck into the hotel lobby bar, and because I didn't know what to order, I ordered what the older hot girl we were with ordered: a Midori Sour. That and the I think the Beastie Boys and Tool played. The one from Western was to see Good Riddance. We left before Less Than Jake even got on the stage. There you go, a bunch of my musical skeletons in the closet. Have at 'em.
If you can guess the show stub I left off because it wouldn't fit on the scanner bed, you win the next shopping cart I spot on Green Lake Watch and a paperclip!
There's some construction somewhere near 2nd and Vine. A friend of mine snapped this pic of a poster that emerged from a hidden wall.
Welcome to the Post-Mortemists Ball at CZ Gallery on 3rd. It makes me wonder what year this is from. Did Belltown used to have lots of fun shows (at non-Crocodile venues)? Excuse my naïveté, I didn't move here till '98!
Tell you what, if the U-Men were playing, I'd be there.
Touring in support of Bleach, it's "Sub Pop recording artists Nirvana!" This is a pretty solid recording as far as bootlegs from 1989 go—it even features audible vocals! This is pre-Dave Grohl—Chad Channing is on the drums. "You're in high school again."
If you like Kraftwerk and Yello, but find them a little too robotic and/or quirky, allow me to introduce another outfit that may meet your need for German synth-pop (assuming you share my need for same): Rheingold. Even if you prefer their better known peers, it's always interesting to hear from fellow musical travelers who found fame domestically, but failed to break out internationally.
Then there's their name, which brings to mind the image of a dry Bavarian beverage, misleading Wagnerian reference, or condescending cartoon character known for wearing a monocle (it's also the name of a Brooklyn brew that featured everyone from Jackie Robinson to the Marx Brothers in their advertisements).
Are you one of those assholes that thinks the '80s were complete shit? Have you always been into the more eccentric British songwriters of the '60s and '70s (Barrett, Hitchcock, Davies) than glammy aesthetics and cocaine? Do you not listen to anything with synthesizers "on principle"?
Get over yourself. Or, since that's not likely to happen, just check out Cleaners from Venus. This could be the your "transition band," the one that makes modern music start to sound palatable. Listen, I'm not saying Ariel Pink isn't completely full of shit. I'm just saying that once you get into this band, you pretty much stop caring about all other music for two weeks.
To be clear, this band isn't just for fence-sitters. Cleaners from Venus are absolutely one of the greatest (and least known) pop bands to come out of Britain in the 1980s. So why haven't we heard more from them? Well, bandleader Martin Newell was basically obsessed with DIY culture and self-releasing his music. After being jilted by the music industry with his former band Plod, Newell retreated and began to self-record albums "on a four track in a bedroom in shameful poverty." The reclusiveness of this approach translated into most of the Cleaners' early stuff being released in small batches of cassettes Newell dubbed in his kitchen, and they've been in heavy bootleg rotation since then. The band never knew any mainstream success, but more and more people are starting to take notice. With the reissue of Newell's Songs for... a Fallow Land earlier this year on Fixed Identity and a growing cult following in the US, it seems the band is finally poised to win over the listeners they've always deserved.
On March 13, 2012, Captured Tracks will release remastered recordings of the first three Cleaners records: Blow Away Your Troubles (1981), On Any Normal Monday (1982), and Midnight Cleaners (1982). The collection will be released on vinyl, CD, and digital, and includes bonus tracks, rare photos, and extensive liner notes.
Check out "Renee (Who's Driving Your Car?)" below, and make the time to do some reading up on your new favorite band.
Cleaners from Venus - "Renee (Who's Driving Your Car?)"
Now I like much of Blackalicious catalog, but my introduction to it was the 1994 Melodica EP. Here is the only track I can find a video for from it, and my CD copy has long since been lost. There's a wonderful track on it called "40 Ounces for Breakfast" that I really wish I could find. The rudimentary beats and hyper-mellow delivery and sharp rhymes grab me more than later-career stuff.
Blackalicious are at Showbox at the Market Saturday night. Tickets here.
No, not that kind of ball! If the Osmonds could go wig-out metal, their only sister, Marie, could surely go Dada, right? Well, she could and she did.
I've known about the 1993 soundtrack to Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces ("A Secret History of the Twentieth Century") for awhile now, but I didn't actually listen to the 27-track set until a few days ago, thanks to the keen archivists at UbuWeb. According to Richard Metzger (Dangerous Minds), "A twentieth anniversary edition [of the book] was published by Harvard Press in 2009."
Some of the tracks are great, some merely interesting, but all have some bearing on Marcus's mapping out of the connections between Situationist International, Surrealism, Dada, R&B, punk, post-punk, and other styles and movements.
A few tracks are grating, especially Gil J. Wolman's "Mégapneumies, 24 Mars 1963 (Face 1)" and the Mekons' "The Building," but the biggest revelation is Marie Osmond's recitation of a nonsense-word poem from 1916. (In Lipstick Traces, Marcus describes her as "an over-publicized exponent of traditional values.")
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 10:45 AM
Brian Joseph Davis has collated The Consumed Guide, "a text composed from thousands of negative words and phrases assembled from 13,090 reviews by Robert Christgau and turned into a single review." Christgau, for the unaware, is the self-proclaimed "dean of American rock critics." He's been writing about music since 1967 and is the proud subject of the Sonic Youth song "I Killed Christgau with My Big Fucking Dick," a slight variation on their track "Kill Yr Idols" off Confusion Is Sex. Choice line from The Consumed Guide: "The motherfucker realizes that metalheads will throw money at you long after your hip cachet has gone the way of your hard-on." Sate yourself on the hate here.
(Trivia: I proofread Christgau's Consumer Guide column [typed and sent via snail mail from New York City] when I worked for Creem magazine in 1985. His typewriter seemed pretty janky for an esteemed critic...).
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 10:43 AM
Back in the pre-internet age, record companies often solicited feedback from consumers by including forms inside LPs. Purchasers of records would fill out the questionnaire with a pen or pencil and then mail it, via the United States Postal Service, to the record company—which didn't even have the courtesy to provide a stamp. From our 21st-century vantage point, we can laugh at such crude methods of info-harvesting, but back in the '70s and '80s, this was a state-of-the-art business strategy in action.
I bring this up because I just found the form below in my copy of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians on ECM. Its quaintness (the questionnaire's, not the music's) struck a deep chord of pathos in me. The copy reads:
Dear Record Buyer:
Thank you for adding this recording to your library. We hope you will enjoy it for years to come. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, kindly fill out and mail the coupon below. We appreciate the time you take to send us your comments. They are extremely helpful to us and our artists. Thank you for your patronage.
Recently, Buzzfeed dug up this classic. The Westboro Baptist Church wasn't even a household name/national shame yet! Have a look:
Lenny Kravitz burst into public consciousness in 1989 as "that guy who's boning Lisa Bonet." His debut album, Let Love Rule, made enough of a splash to infuse the huckster hippie-wannabe with the deluded chutzpah to believe his own pose. Kravitz has been making a fortune giddily raping the graves of his elders (Jimi, Sly, Prince) ever since.
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 4:22 PM
A friend’s recent Facebook post about a Psychology Today article titled “Why Smart People Have Less Sex” spurred a train of thought that led to me think about the band Horny Genius for the first time since Bill Clinton occupied the White House. (Speaking of horny geniuses...)
I always thought that Horny Genius was one of the greatest band names ever, but the music didn’t really live up to the moniker. Still, any band featuring Brian Hageman, who later went on to play in Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, deserves your attention. And I do recall Horny Genius’ Burn Your Sister LP to be a decent slab of quirky indie rock ca. 1990. But, yeah, they’re not nearly as great as their handle would lead you to believe. Horny Genius... that is so much better than Black Crystal Ghost Whales.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 3:22 PM
The LA Times recently ran a worthwhile trend piece by former Stranger freelancer Andy Beta about the resurgence of interest in and impact of new-age music among and on hip, youngish musicians. Thesis statement:
Despite its association with crystals, color therapy, holistic medicine, incense, lucid dreaming and chakra manipulation, New Age music — once resigned to the dollar bins of record stores and the vitamin section of health food stores — has somehow entered into the misty echelon of coolness.
Beta makes some solid points, but this feature seems to be coming a bit late, as new age began accruing hipster cred at least a few years ago (right, Mr. Baxter?). However, if Beta's article lures virgin ears to the works of crucial composers and instrumentalists like Terry Riley, Paul Horn, Deuter, Manuel Göttsching, J.D. Emmanuel, and Edward Larry Gordon (aka Laraaji), his work will not have been in vain.
by Dave Segal
on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 10:55 AM
This year's Big Dig record show at Vermillion Saturday was probably the biggest and best one yet, if the amount of tears my wallet cried is any indication. (Kudos to the Dug crew for organizing this.) It was frustrating, for sure, to have to pass on Embryo's We Keep On, Pharoah Sanders' Elevation, John Coltrane's Infinity, and many others due to insufficient funds. But I'm damn happy with what I did obtain:
While rushing to post yesterday's Tonight in Music post before running out the door to catch a bus to visit my grandparents, I couldn't easily find a video or track for Olympia's LAKE. I did, however, find this, which I had completely forgot existed:
Lake was a German rock music band that formed in the early 1970s under the name Tornados, changing their name to Lake in 1973. They mostly covered material by other bands in their early years, but released three singles, Come Down/We're Gonna Rock, King Of The Rock'n Roll Party, and Sailor. In 1975 they were joined by lead singer James Hopkins-Harrison, who gave them their signature sound for the remainder of their recording career.
They achieved modest success in much of Europe from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, particularly in Germany where they were named artist of the year by the German Phono Academy in 1977. more info on link
by Dave Segal
on Tue, May 3, 2011 at 4:56 PM
Contrary to Nipper's comment here about Lollipop, the last great Amphetamine Reptile group is actually Love 666. They combustibly combined some of the best traits of the Jesus & Mary Chain and the Melvins, housed their music in fab artwork, and coined one of the finest album titles ever: Please Kill Yourself So I Can Rock. That one never gets old...
But, maybe Nipper and I are both wrong. It's been known to happen. Who was the last great AmRep band to your tinnitus-riddled mind? Tom Hazelmyer is dying to know what you think.