According to this illustrated letter to Seattle-based band Aerobic Death in 1984, Dave Grohl was compiling and selling mixtapes with his friends at the age of 15 — this particular compilation bearing the name "John Denver's Nightmare." Two years later, 17-year-old Grohl dropped out of school to become the drummer for punk band Scream. A few years after that, he was a member of Nirvana.
Dear seasoned Seattle punkers: Know anything about Aerobic Death (Beside that they had an excellent name)? Please share in the comments.
For a good part of the 2000s, you could go into a record store and pick up Arthur Magazine, the free bi-monthly magazine that served as a catalyst for the blossoming "New Weird America" scene, spotlighting folks like Six Organs of Admittance and Sunburned Hand of the Man before they became under-the-counter culture kingpins. Then there was blues legend T-Model Ford's advice column. And recipes that artists like Greg Cartwright (Oblivians, Reigning Sound) have been cooking in the kitchen. The running commentary by album reviewers C & D was one of the funniest, nerdiest ways I've ever seen record reviews written (they were dead-on with almost everything they said).
But it wasn't just the music that made Arthur so great. At a time when the United States was ruled under the slack-jawed power of George W. Bush, Arthur printed some of the the most insightful and provoking political commentary from the minds of folks like Douglas Rushkoff. Additionally, co-publisher and editor Jay Babcock conducted a heated, interrogating interview with Godsmack singer Sully over his stance on the war and selling Godsmack's music for military recruitment ads. The past few years have been tough for the magazine and Babcock, who was forced to buy out departing co-founder Laris Kreslins' half of the magazine in 2007. He then had to rebuild the financial stability of the magazine to get it printed again (which happened), until he finally decided put the print magazine on hiatus and focus his efforts exclusively online. While online, it continued to generate some terrific articles from the solid stable of contributors (who by this point were doing it gratis, for the love of the Arthur itself.) Arthur curated ArthurFest and other inner-stellar music events, and continued to release their sought-after, impeccable compilations. But it still wasn't enough. This morning, I learned that Babcock has exhausted his efforts on Arthur, who released the brief following statement to his readers and fans:
After years of service, Arthur departed the material plane today.
He died as he lived—free, high and a-dreaming of love, ‘neath vultures’ terrible gaze.
Thank you, and love to all.
I asked Babcock some questions regarding the recent state of the magazine, which was established in 2002, and what ultimately brought it the magazine to its knees.
…A rail-tailed Negro named Michael Jackson sold more copies of a single album than any singer or instrumentalist in recorded history…a blind Negro named Stevie Wonder has earned more dollars than the most popular composers and instrumentalists in both jazz and European concert music…a horse-faced Negro from the South named Lionel Ritchie pulls down millions for songs that contain so little melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic character that even the most imaginative jazz musicians haven't tried to use them as bridges to a larger audience in the way they could when the best of Tin Pan Alley was in flower.
Yes, he called Lionel Ritchie a horse-faced negro. Crouch does not like black popular music or Ritchie's face. In Crouch's world, you will not find a single jazz musician who has the face of a horse.
Jennifer Maerz, Stranger music editor alum (and, a lil' bird tells me, soon to-be Stranger contributor again) penned an excellent piece in today's New York Times about San Francisco kings Thee Oh Sees, The Fresh & Onlys, and Sonny & the Sunsets. It's a great read.
Bands, don't forget to experiment. Très importante!
Johnny Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees fiddling, I mean experimenting with, some knob-thingies at The Crocodile
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 3:33 PM
Seattle/Portland cosmic-post-new-age-synth duo Brother Raven received a justifiably glowing review from Keith Moliné in the January 2011 issue of The Wire for their Diving Into the Pineapple Portal LP. In his review (which isn't online, for fuck's sake, but appears on page 70 in the "Avant Rock" column), Moliné wrote:
There are inevitable echoes of late 1970s Tangerine Dream (Encore, say) but they stray into all sorts of interesting areas. "Speaking Whale From My Sea Canoe" spins out feedback swirls through a delay line in a way that Soliloquy For Lilith-era Steven Stapleton would have appreciated, while the cranky "Happy Astronaut" layers stiff metallic basslines in a quietly ingenious way.
Congrats, Bro Raven. You are now on your way to infamy and misfortune.
[The track in this video isn't on Pineapple, but it's certainly worth hearing.]
7. Sidenote: I am still waiting for some kind underpaid soul to make the distinction between Kanye West the excellent hip-hop producer, and Kanye West the just average writer of vocal melodies. I would attempt to write this piece myself if I knew I could be paid at a rate higher than whatever some 14-year-old makes working his first job at White Castle. This is not the reality of any music writer’s situation though. A piece like this would mostly serve Kanye West, and people who want to make music like Kanye West, and to a much smaller extent, people who are interested in the tics of West’s music. Not anyone else, at least immediately. It would start from the premise that Kanye West can, in fact, get much higher. It would start from the premise of wanting good music to be better music. Music in this piece would not serve as mere fodder for Ideas Inspired By Music. It would be technical as fuck. There would be no “takeaway.”
8. Instead you get something called “cultural criticism.” And cultural criticism on the internet is mostly a parlor game. It can’t afford to be anything else. It is entertainment for smart people with day jobs. A lot of that entertainment? Pretty entertaining. The ideas it produces are often meaningful on their own. There are Good Guys doing good things. Most of it is noise though — digital artifacts from the conversion of sound to text.
9. But right now I feel like I’m not one of the Good Guys. I’m dangerously close to becoming another noisemaker. Another person on the internet who writes about music he hasn’t fully processed — not even “about” music but “in the vicinity of” music. I am in grave danger of being slightly more full of shit than everyone else. My best idea about music this year is to stop having ideas about music. As for Kanye, I am glad I didn’t pull that trigger.
Hello Everyone! Before you blow all your cash on Four Loko this weekend (topical humour) won't you please consider giving a few bucks to our music video project? New $20 pledge level with t-shirt gift added. Thanks and have wonderful weekend.
In fact, Quarters might be even more of a straight-up party record than its predecessor, a welcome relief that Truckasauras aren't trying to overcompensate for working within a niche that's almost entirely defined by its novelty. While "instrumental hip-hop" often brings to mind Dilla heads or the bugged-out experimentalism of the Brainfeeder scene, Truckasauras have always put themselves forth unironically as "crunk." It's not the most accurate description, but they do share a sort of kinship with more slithery but no less hedonistic Atlanta sounds, as tracks like "Dom P on Your Backneck" and "Show These People Who's Springstein (Yes We Can)" boast enough 808 and B-A-S-S bass to soundtrack a night cruise to Magic City.
Truckasauras have a record release party for the vinyl version of Quarters on Wednesday November 24th at Chop Suey with THEESatisfaction and guests.
The "clean" version (no "menage a trois," even?!) of Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy leaked yesterday. It's the talk of the office* today. Right now the "can we get much higher (oh oh oh)" refrain from "Dark Fantasy" is battling it out with the horn fanfare from "All of the Lights" for real estate in the part of my brain that plays bits of songs on loop when other people are talking. (Kanye's brain is, apparently, made up entirely of that part—it's his X-Men mutation). I'm not even really fucking with the lyrics yet.**
Also, Kanye was on the "Today" show this morning, and then George W. Bush was on, and George W. Bush called Kanye "Conway" (twice!), and then Kanye took to his Twitter feed about it (or, really, about Matt Lauer playing "MTV" at him or some typically incomprehensible awesomeness***). All of which is a very long set-up for this humble pun: "Conway Twitter."
Good night, y'all.
*Well, Mudede, Schmader, and I, at least.
**EXCEPT, FOR FUCK'S SAKE, "FAT BOOTY CELINE DION/SEX IS ON FIRE, I'M THE KING OF LEON"?!
***"I feel very alone very used very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very very misused."
To anyone who believes, because of ease of access to clips online, music writing is inconsequential, I defy you to read Ben Ratliff's New York Times piece on Salome, a sub-genre-crunching metal band from northern Virginia. In it, Ratliff not only offers not only a fine primer on metal's many forms and function, but puts Salome's personality fully into context.
I almost never listen to metal of any kind. This article made me.
The best metal of any kind feels like it comes from below and wants to pull you down there. “Terminal,” in its first track, “The Message,” rises slowly out of silence with underwater sounds: a sonar ping, twisted and looped until the sound degrades and decays. (The pings come back later in the record, as well, tying it together.) The loop speeds up and flies away over Rob Moore’s first guitar riff, two minutes into the song, uneven and heavy and simple and colored in by the drummer Aaron Deal’s short and hard-hitting fills. Then the band quiets down, creating a space, and Kat comes in with her caustic, electrocuted howl, one word per line:
Here she downshifts into her guttural voice. The lyric sheet says that the following words are “the visible,” but it sounds more like “eeugheeughawwwww.” In her deep voice the lyrics become completely obscured. When she does it live, she’s not pantomiming, not becoming a character; she becomes transparent, and music flows through her. Put it this way: It’s rare to see someone rock this way, top to bottom, inside and out. It doesn’t necessarily mean provoking your crowd or being an acrobat. It means giving yourself completely to your task.
Kat, 26, whose last name is Katz, grew up in McLean, Va., exploring but not fitting in with the metal scene in Virginia and Washington; in high school she admired Runhild Gammelsaeter, the striking Norwegian woman who sang in the doom band Thorr’s Hammer, and J. R. Hayes, the singer of the local Virginia grindcore band Pig Destroyer. She is a small woman, with small hands. (I bought some vinyl from her after a show; commanding onstage, she looked tiny behind the merchandise table.) She teaches yoga and takes physical therapy courses at a community college. She doesn’t drink or smoke. She doesn’t sing more than six songs in a row — about an hour, max. She says she thinks of her singing as part of her spiritual practice, though she is reluctant to talk about it. (There’s not a lot of spirituality in Salome’s corner of metal. In fact there’s a lot of anti-spirituality.) But she did anyway.
“When I sing, it allows me to be present,” she said in a phone interview. “I think of music as a way to connect. In yoga they believe that emotion is just energy, and if you raise your energy, you can get closer to reaching God.”
Anyway, local electronic duo Tumble Dry just pointed me in the direction of their new name-your-price Bandcamp EP Color of Sky, and, if nothing else, its further evidence that our fair city—which, after all, is home to the fucking Decibel Festival—is not wanting for solid knob-twiddling acts.
Color of Sky is a buoyant, boisterous assortment of groovy jams, notable mostly for the sassiness of its generously LFOed high-end synth melodies and the melodramatic indulgence of its vocals (dig the harmonies on opener “Wait!”). The cheesy, laid-back breakdown of “SXYMTN” is about as hard to resist as a fresh Rancho Bravo quesadilla. Here’s a taste of the lyrics:
Sexy mountain, sexy mountain / Sexy mountain, you’re a sexy mountain / I’m a river, you’re a fountain / ‘Bout to climb a sexy mountain
Damn, now that I think about it, Rainier is looking gooood today.
The beat of “3X” has a shuffling edginess worthy of clap-and-high-hat-happy youngsters Teengirl Fantasy and “Simultaneous Dream” wraps post punk moodiness in a blanket of layered synth melodies and mildly Longstreth-ian vocalisms.
If this sounds like your kind of trip, you can download Color of Skyhere.
Seattle electronic artist Jon McMillion's self-titled debut for upstart label Nuearth Kitchen just got an 8.0 review in Pitchfork today from resident techno expert Philip Sherburne. A fine review, but two troubling trends:
1. The front page link to the review still refers to Seattle as "an unlikely locale" for electronic music.
2. Sherburne can't resist the low-hanging food metaphor lead: "If Seattle's Nuearth Kitchen were a restaurant, it would surely belong to the slow-food movement." (Of course, neither could Dave Segal, writing in an article titled Organically Cooking the Dancefloor: "McMillion's music comes across like a gourmet meal composed of the finest organic ingredients compared to the microwaved, fast-food DJ tools that many producers pump out.") All I'm saying is, Nuearth Kitchen better, ah, prep themselves for more of this sort of thing in the future.
Mr. Butler was joined onstage by Tendai Maraire, who primarily played a pair of congas, and two female rappers, Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White, who on their own make up the duo THEESatisfaction.
They made an awkward mess, fascinating in the details but harsh enough to thin an already thin crowd. When Mr. Butler wasn’t staring down at the MPC and laptop in front of him, he was casually charismatic. When he was staring, though, he was even better, invested and inventive, especially on songs from the self-titled EP like “4 shadows’noah mission as told by plcr dougie frum up the block from granny’s Subsonic custom crowns” and “32 leaves dipped in blackness making clouds forming altered carbon.” They were dense, curious, emotional and a little ferocious.