Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Part Chimp : I Am Come / Rating 7.9

most just go from loud to louder

Unwound through blown out speakers. Lightning Bolt had they been on Gravity records in the mid 90’s. The Melvins if they called Dischord their bitch.

Holy fuck I love this noisy powerhouse.

PFM namedrops:
Mogwai – Mogwai didn’t invent the quiet/loud dynamic but my guess is since this record is on Mogwai’s label connecting the two bands is an easy mark.

Stooges – There is quite a bit of super fuzz big muff activity. Other reviews have tried to tag I am Come as a grunge record.

Black Sabbath – I have read several reviews that mention BS and my ears miss totally this taste test comparison. Both bands are heavy and their rock goes from 0 to 60 in seconds flat but I also see their label mentions Black Sabbath and Sonic Youth as a point of reference in the band’s bio so the mystery is solved.

Pavement – If Pavement had been a metal band I wonder if this is what they would have sounded like. “30 Billion People” perfectly answers this what if question with maybe a few classic Swervedriver minor chords channeled through the body of Karp.

A 7.9 rating is acceptable but considering how much time this cd has spent in my stereo since it came in the mail my at home rating passes out shy of a 9.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Link Wray dead at age 76

Read more about it here.

Le Volume Courbe (French for The Volume Curve) / I killed my best friend / Honest Jons Records

Red = hot Mustard = warm Blue = leaves me cold

Why Pitchfork hasn’t reviewed this is beyond me. (Hint Hint)

I think this import has been out since October but in all fairness there appears to be very little promotion behind this record in the states no less world wide thus far.

This mystery record was a gift for my birthday and came with a background story no more detailed than “I think you will like it.”

The LP jacket protects no informative inner sleeve, there is no clue riddled insert and the only revealing text lies in small print at the bottom of the back cover. Thank goodness for the internet.

The back cover lists such luminaries as:

Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), glockenspiel
Colm O’Ciosoig, drums (My Bloody Valentine)
Kevin Shields, guitar ( My Bloody Valentine)
Martin Duffy, piano (Primal Scream)
David Roback (Mazzy Star), guitar
Lascelles Lascelle (7 Hurtz), keyboards, drums
Nathan J. Whitey (remixer / graffiti artist / journalist) bass
Keith Tenniswood ( Two Lone Swordsmen, Radioactive Man),Engineer / production

A sample from "Caribea" by Moondog on the cover “Ain’t Got no life”(a Nina Simone cover)
and a sample from “The Anomaly” by Delta T on the track "Locarno"

A French woman murmurs in her sleep as her cinematic dreams shift from wistful to eerie.

Charlotte Marionneau, a chanteuse belonging to the same home schooled spirit of CocoRosie shoots and ladders from modern day lo-fi outsider to breathless little sister of 1970’s psychedelic folk artist Brigitte Fontaine . To paint an even more detailed picture I am reminded of Kazu (Blonde Redhead) singing over the Life Aquatic Casio-score with a touch of panic attack as if scored by Bjork for Medulla.

Le Volume Courbe first and only other release was a 2001, 7” on Alan McGee’s label Poptones. Poptones is the label Alan began after he sold Creation Records in 1999. These original two tracks Harmony and Papillion De Nuit kick of this debut full length entitled “I killed my best friend”

Thanks to the encouragement of friends in high places, Charlotte a now London resident found the courage and confidence to home record (over the last several years) the rest of the songs found on I killed my best friend.

The moods shift like the atmospheric changes of space travel and from planet to planet Charlotte's song- noir grain teeters between disturbing and delightfully delicate. Her all star cheerleading squad meets band creates damaged electro-folk that will not win over every listener but their beyond cult status following raises I killed my best friend to a must own status.

Listen to a few tracks
here and in the states I think this is available from Forced Exposure.

Death From Above 1979 / Romance Bloody Romance / Rating 0.5

Worst release of 2005. Beyond awful.

A U2 pun and a failed collection of rocktastic do-overs = glorified beverage coaster

To make matters worse I actually purchased this steaming pile of waste and I am left wondering if I can ask Vice for a refund or trade it in at the label office for something, anything else.

This remix record is basically a glorified long EP (AKA ill-suited remixes of many of the same songs) but is priced like a regular full length record. I quadruple pity the DFA79 fans who paid the 20$ plus price for the import.

Nick Sylvester is normally the last PF writer I agree with but no person or dance floor needs this record...though my double tall iced latte sits nicely upon it.

Please avoid this cd at all cost.

Municipal Waste + Darkest Hour + Converge / Chapel Hill, N.C. / Cat's Cradle / Nov.17 2005

Kurt Converge 11/17/05
“The day you realize you were born into this world alone and that you will die alone is the day your life will change too...” Jake Converge (singer)

Pure fucking genius right? Boot camp style long winded macho bullshit rants no longer hold my attention. Go figure. Why it took me until I was 34 to decide this, I can’t tell you but it was on my birthday as I stood watching not one but two unconscious bodies being carried out by a an EMT crew from the crowd that I decided it was time to retire my from the pit reports.

It was a few minutes later after Jake Converge basically urged the crowd of 300 to take on a minimal security crew standing between them and the stage that my disgust turned to horror. One of the security guards took a good 15 blows to the upper part of his body and head and it wasn’t until a different member of the band took a more grounded problem solving approach, told everyone to chill the fuck out or they won’t play anymore that genuine crowd control finally took place. It isn’t rocket science to understand exactly why venues are hiring outside security for their shows. A hatecore crowd reeks of a speeding testosterone car with failing breaks.

What’s different to me now is even though I love the band as people and love their music, they are part of a cocky car crash I no longer want to rubberneck.

Note to self : I AM TOO OLD FOR THIS.

What I can’t figure out is how Converge can find people to book their shows when acts of violence from their audience is almost a guaranteed part of their 20 to 35 minute performance. I don’t care how many records they sell or how many kids usually show up to see them play, an ambulance shouldn’t have be a part of any show. I think the ultimate example of a Converge crowd gone wrong is Adam the guitar player from Cave In’s Mom being punched in the face by somebody in the crowd during Converge’s set. ( Cave In was on the bill too)

But I am getting too far ahead of myself….let me start from the beginning of the night.

Arms folded and among the crowd Kurt Ballou and I stood stage left where we proceed to watch Municipal Waste play their entire set. Ask any touring band how many times they watch the bands they are on tour with play and the answer is usually a number around none so for a band member on this tour to tell me he hasn’t missed one Municipal Waste show all tour, it’s a metal miracle. Coming from a band (Converge) that isn’t famous for their sense of humor on stage or for playing anything close to Suicidal Tendencies this opposites attract line up of bands both on stage and backstage was a surprisingly successful partnership.

Boogie boards and beer bongs are the best thing to happen to thrashcore and Municipal Waste is single handedly bringing this classic genre to new heights of pledge week stupidity. Your basic ingredients to a MW show are beach accessories or pool inflatables, flip flop moshing, stage dives with pizza, and a band that talks like Spicole if he was a denim wearing pirate. This is all true unless you are in Chapel Hill, N.C. This sleepy college town equaled arms folded and kids staring blankly. The crowd played an unusually passive role for a MW show and disappointedly I didn’t see one inflatable shark or raft with cup holders damn it. ( I blame the Converge following for being waaay too serious and agro) The MW humorously poked at the crowd for playing dead until a small clockwise circle pit formed but it was such a sad display of energy the band retaliated with more jokes at the crowd’s expense begging them to stop.

“This next songs is named after something you guys wouldn’t know anything about, it’s about when you thrash so hard at a show you wake up with a stiff neck the next day. This song is called Bang Over.”

Even with a weak crowd response and the band clearly disappointed with the sea of people and no blow-up floating devices as far as the eye could see, new thrash doesn’t get much better or honest as this. As if the band wasn’t already working their way to being the next huge metal band from Richmond, the addition of Dave Witte (Burn By The Sun / Discordance Axis / Melt Banana drummer) raises MW talent to match their sense of humor and massive quantities of beer.

(Their cd Hazardous Mutation on Earache is 15 songs in 26 minutes and rivals any of the classic D.R.I. / Suicidal Tend. / Murphy’s Law heavy skatecore but in MW’s favor, none of those old school bands have the drumming power that MW has now.)

Darkest Hour played next ( oh yeah we missed the very opening band) but somehow I got lured into the backstage antics of beer bongs and shotgunning beer and missed their whole set. At the very least they were the perfect soundtrack for a high school hesher flashback, beer soaked hoodies and all. I have pictures but I will spare you what looks like rush week at a heavy metal parking lot convention. (air guitar here)

Last but not least was Converge but you already know how that story ends.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Early Man / Closing In / Rating 7.7

But as someone who still appreciates the keep-it-simple-stupid attitude of classic 70s heavy metal, Closing In is a resounding success.

Too bad this is last sentence of the PFM review because had it been in the first paragraph I would have known just a little sooner to ignore the contents of this entire review. Neither Sabbath or Maiden wrote “simple-stupid” heavy metal ditties for beginners in heavy.

Early Man bites both of those bands riffage and vocal attack hard but does so poorly; offering a dumbed-down / one trick pony version of metal... much closer the simple stupid metal formula mentioned above. (w/ a small dose of Bay Area thrash here and there)

I have four words for you:

FYI for those who follow metal: crossing Ozzy with Maiden comes at an ironic time when Sharon Osbourne has created a mega riff between both bands post 2005 Ozzfest.


PFM says: "It's a throwback to early 80s thrash, the era before speed often became a substitute for creative ideas. Every song is built around galloping riffs and booming power chords" and "There's only so much that can be done with mid-tempo, riff-driven metal"

Anybody who listens to this record and hears mainly thrash shouldn’t be allowed to review metal records. Surrender your boutique purchased vintage Metallica quarter sleeve and go back to listening to your Andrew WK records.


PS: Having your “metal” band produced by Matt Sweeney removes any real metal cred you may have once had. ( I don’t care how metal Matt was growing up in N.J.)


Shame on you Matador. I know you people have better metal taste than this and especially you Gerard Cosloy… I know you own the legendary NME : Unholy Death record!!! Don’t make me take back your NME long sleeve shirt I gave you eons ago!!! Redeem your metal roots and re-release that slice of metal history.

Closing In earns a 3.33 rating because it carries half the evil of 6.66. Had Early Man opted for a more traditional metal cover art ala Manowar or Priest maybe my rating would have been more kind but seriously a stencil logo is more Crass than (upside down) crucifix.

Friday, November 25, 2005

TRALALA / falala-la-la.../ Tralala Records

Red = hot Mustard = luke warm Blue = leaves me cold

Ever wonder what happened to the hot popular girls who won your senior year talent show because they were popular but not all that talented?

They moved to NYC and joined

TRALALA'S backbone is made up of three fellas (drums, guitar, bass) and up front and center are 4 very attractive female vocalists who offer a taste of femininity served with a well-dressed edge.

15 years ago this band would have won Sassy band alert and I’m not just saying that because of the obvious cute girl ratio. Bass player Marty Key is indie rock’s most eligible bachelor and can drink you under the table. If that wasn’t enough one of the owners of NYC’s elite record store Other Music is also a member.

This seasonal recording falala-la-la…with TRALALA follows up their S/T debut and carries more of the same ode to 50’s girl groups like the Shangri-Las minus the stellar vocal talent and Wall of Sound artistry.

“Christmas Never Comes (When You’re Alone) takes on a flat “Leader of the Pack” via sleigh bells. “Holiday Hearts” skips three decades ahead to something K Records would approve of minus the out of place guitar solo and “Everybody Christmastime” after enough eggnog might make you want to watusi or froog.

One would think 4 unique voices could really accomplish something special and dynamic but Tralala’s vocals don’t even match the impact of having one superb singer. This is where it becomes very apparent you are meant to see this band play in person not just hear them.

For those of you who collect Christmas records this cd ep will make a fine addition to your collection but otherwise the value of this recording doesn’t make it far beyond kitsch. I’m okay with novelty over quality; I like eye candy as much as the next but the best way to take in this band is to see them live. Their humor and attitude translates nicely on stage but minus the visuals their charm melts away to watered down fun.

Ho Ho Humdrum.

Confessions of a Record Addict

This will be an ongoing series of stories and stats from music junkies around the world. The next confession will be brought to you by the founder of Menlo Park Recordings.

What are some of the crazy dedicated things you have done in the name of record collecting, for a band, as a band…anything out of the norm just because you love music? Feel free to leave us details of your music addiction in the comments section.

Name: Pitchperfect
Occupation: Tuningforkmedia founder / 17 years in the indie music industry
First record ever: Go-Go’s - Vacation
Years collecting: 22
Most ever paid for a record – 50$
Number of records in collection – 4,200 ish ( 7” and 12”ers) I don’t really collect cds
Bonus – I do not own an mp3 thingy of any kind. Technology scares me.

  • I have never had any job outside of the indie music world.
  • I passed up a poetry scholarship to NYU so I could work in a record store.(I know my shit grammar, spelling, and punctuations reflects my lack of schooling but come on, like poetry was going to get my any farther in life, ha!)
  • At least 30% of my weekly paycheck goes to buying new and used music.
  • I will not loan out a record (lp) from my collection.
  • I will not combine my record collection with another person’s.
  • I go see bands play 1 – 3 times a week.
  • I will go back to a record store as many times as it takes to find at least one record a week that I love enough to play several times in a row. I am not kidding, if I take home a record and it doesn’t wow me right off, I will go back out again and keep trying until I find one. Some people call that OCD I call it dedicated to the cause.
  • Between work and pleasure I listen to 10 – 30 records / cds / singles a day.
  • I created a ridiculous blog (TFM), my first and only blog and it takes anywhere from 1 to 6 hours of my time a day.
  • I moved across the country as a 21year old to a city I had never been to just to work for a record label that put out my favorite band at the time. Like a religious zealot I wanted to help spread the good word of quality music. By the time I moved there the band had broken up. DOH!!!
  • Anyone who has spent time in a full time band can tell you the same love / hate story. Playing music I loved with friends seemed like a good idea at the time but it actually = 5 years of being in severe debt, the end of 2 relationships, created the loss of the best apartment ever and a move across country, doctor visits for throat bleeding and irreversible voice damage, 1 year of couch surfing and living out of suitcases, a charity donation of most of my possessions so I could easily move across county and back again, the sale of ½ my record collection at the time to pay for said move, and
  • …it actually hurts my head to think of all the other (often stupid) things I did thanks to my love of music…both making it, collecting it, and bringing it to others suffering from the same bad habits.

My name is Pitchperfect and I am an addict.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ladytron / The Witching Hour / Rating 8.3

keyboard basslines and polygonal haircuts are a gateway drug to dumb press


This record has been out for months, PFM reviewed it back in October yet here it is nearly December and I am still tripping over my words and wondering how I really feel about Witching Hour.

My notes from the first few passes at the record looked something like this:

Stop the college rock presses.
Melancholy gang of robots dubbed Ladytron cannibalized by effects rack!!!
Synth being held for questioning and may be an accomplice to crime.

Not only was I disappointed with the production but then the songs themselves. Here was a line from my notes round two:

Chipettes cover Lush, MBV, The Faint, Love and Rockets, J and M Chain, and Yazoo.

Then there was message I left to myself on my cell phone because I couldn’t find a pen.

1 part bat cave dorm room 1 part NJ shore boardwalk

And lastly there was this:

A perfect cruising soundtrack for cool kids with pimped out eco-friendly cars

Here are a few segments of a review I tried to write for Witching Hour back in late October:

PFM says: "If they lacked the horsepower before...The Witching Hour is the most urgent and immediate of their career. The earlier records were sort of toylike and plastic; this not only has a pulse, it has chilled blood in its veins."

Let it be known I hate blanket statements like"this is the most urgent and immediate" blah blah blah when attached to anything.

PFM says: "Every quantum leap record has a quantum leap single, and in this case, it's "Destroy Everything You Touch". With a charging chorus and shivery production that sounds as equally indebted to shoegaze as it does synthpop, this is probably the most confident and menacing thing they've ever done to date... And, for better or worse, the barely concealed cocaine metaphor of "Sugar" ("If I get the sugar, will you get me/ Something elusive and temporary") proves they could go there if they wanted to."

I liked the TV show Quantum Leap as a kid but I still don't like blanket statements like "most confident and menacing thing _____ have ever done to date"

PFM says: "That's as good an illustration as any of how far they've come in these last three years: if Ladytron of old was a truckful of ice, this one's a winter storm, bundled up people and all."

Here is some fun with google:
Results 1 - 10 of about 350 for glacial ladytron
Results 1 - 10 of about 50,700 for ladytron + chill
Results 1 - 10 of about 114,000 for winter + ladytron
Results 1 - 10 of about 139,000 for ice + ladytron
Results 1 - 10 of about 154,000 for ladytron + snow

Here is a quote from the Ladytron website summing up their new record: "This is a collection of songs that will cool you down in the summer and keep you warm in those dark winter months."

Deja vu.

I met up with a friend for drinks a few days ago and he practically purrrrred at the mention of Ladytron’s new record.

He heard a few tracks on line and fell in love with a band he normally didn’t think much of. This comrade in beer runs a local recording studio, sweats all that is MBV inspired, and to his ears Ladytron has entered the winner’s circle of stunning production.

Okay fine...but the songs themselves, the music hiding behind all that gloss and sheen, do they belong in the winners circle?

I told him not to buy the record because I will give him my copy but before I hand it over I am giving these song one last once over. Fast forward to the day before Thanksgiving and here I am back at my computer, listening to the record for the millionth time and still not loving it but hating it less and less.

I don’t care how many studio tricks were used to make this record have all the proper bells and whistles of a classic like Loveless but if Ladytron’s songs are placed side by side next to the best shoegazer hits they aren’t quite tall enough to ride the big boy/girl talent wave. They are in their teenage years of complex songwriting but considering how many years Ladytron already has behind them (7) they are behind the creative curve. Repetition no matter how clever and catchy the melody is reflects a verse chorus verse chorus pattern that is stagnant rather than a trademark to be remembered by.

Witching Hour should have been THE RECORD for Ladytron and instead it sizes up to decent hour worthy of a spooky 6.66 rating.

(The record registers in at exactly 60.00 minutes but track 14 is 9.03 minutes of nothing so the Witching Hour is actually 51+ minutes. Busted)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Lady Sovereign / Vertically Challenged / Rating 6.5

I heart the 4 word Coolfer reviews so here is my monthly ode:

Neneh Cherry does bubble-grime.


Yes to the 6.5

You Know You Want It !!!

Your friends at Tuningforkmedia would like to share some of our promo cd wealth with our!

All you need to do to win is:

1) Be the first to post a comment in this comments section naming the cd you would like to win. 2) If your comment appears first then you are the winner of that cd.
3) Then email us at your name and address as well as the cd you won.
4) We mail you the cd and a very special tuningforkmedia DIY thank you membership card.

There is no cost or creepy catch. This is a straight up something for nothing. All we ask is you haven't won something in 90 days and don't be selfish... pick just one title please. If you don't like the cd pass it on to a friend. Selling it will cause you to go to indie rock hell.

Up for grabs /format is all cds:

Mugison - Mugimama! is this monkey music - Ipecac Records WE HAVE A WINNER!!!

VA - I Love Guitar Wolf - tribute to Guitar Wolf - Narnack Records ( w/ lightning bolt, Jon SPencer, J Mascis and more) WE HAVE A WINNER!!!

Paul Weller - As is Now - Yep Roc Records - Promo cd no art WE HAVE A WINNER!!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Okkervil River / Black Sheep Boy Appendix / Re-review

It is all starting to make sense to me now...I was sent a promo cd sans art so little did I know the cd I have is not the cd PFM gave the below review of / 8.5 rating. They share the same title minus the word Appendix so I mixed the two up. My review is actually of the long EP not the full length. I will seek out the full length and give Okkervil a proper round two. Thank you anonymous for setting me straight.

I haven't given up on this band yet!


studiously literate, melodic, and concise

There is a feeling of defeat when I don’t love a record as much as the rest of the world seems to. Music publications and blogs from all over this planet lay praise upon this piece of work as if it was delivered to them with a halo.

“Isn't it exciting when a relatively unknown, but critically-acclaimed band goes from making a great record to an even greater one? In the fairly recent music past, this has been the case with Wilco, The Shins, and Radiohead (all name-checked for a reason, but we'll get to that). Now, it is also true of Okkervil River.”

"We will float until we learn how to swim. Yes, that’s an In the Aeroplane Over the Sea reference, and yes, Okkervil River has that sort of mythical genius." – Magnet’s Eighth Best Record of 2003

There are literally pages of e-battles madly dueling which band was better live on tour, The Decemberists or Okkervil River. Having missed O.R. live this past tour and not being a Decemberists fan I am wholly disqualified from taking either side.

Looking to understand the Okkervil River audio catnip to humans phenomena, just listening to Black Sheep Boy Appendix wouldn’t be enough; I needed to digest it completely. We spent several weeks of quality time together and since then I have grown to admire the Crooked Fingers’ smoulder, the achy Robert Smith vocal quivers, and the occasional raspy Bono-esque deep from the chest belt. (I am a U2 fan so that isn’t a jab.)

The recording nerd in me loves the spacious unpolished live feel of the entire record and it unmistakably adds an extra dose of vitality to these carefully worded tales.

“No Key, No Plan”, “Another Radio Song”, and “Last Love Song for Now” rise to the top of the track listing as my favorites but something struck me the last time I listened through the record in full. I had a Violent Femmes / Dead Milkmen flashback but I can’t really explain why either of those popped into my head. Maybe the dark to light ratio is balanced in a similar way?

I can feel the lot of you shaking your head at me in a shameful way but what can I say, this is the "special" way my brain works from time to time.

Just shy of 25 minutes, there is a lovely warmth found on Black Sheep Boy Appendix but it does not carry the kind of poetic charge that leaves my heart in a heap on the floor. I would sooner pull out a Cursive record if I were in desperate need of an intelligent emo outlet. (Sorry but I like my country a little emo and my emo a little less country.)

Understandably Okkervil River is going to make just about everybody’s end of year favorite list so one mediocre reaction will hardly taint the bigger picture. The PFM 8.5 rating is truly what I believe most listeners would give this cd so who am I to ruin a good thing.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Being haunted by The Van Pelt

Around 4 AM my room began to emit sounds. This is a regular occurrence thanks to walls that are so deli slice thin, I can hear everything going on in the apartment building around me.
Above my bedroom lives a 22year old student from Northern Virginia and apparently he suffers from a worse case of insomnia than me. He also tends to play the same cd when he either can’t sleep or when he is umm…entertaining his lady friend.
Last night was the latter.
Anyone who keeps me awake at least a few nights each week would normally earn a wrath of biblical proportions but his choice of favorite cd is so utterly random and surprising that I can’t bring myself to scold him.

The Van Pelt.
Who you might ask? The Van Pelt were an anomaly from N.J. in the mid to late 90’s who rose from the ashes of Native Nod and went on to release a handful of records on Gern Blandsten. Founder Chris Leo’s (Ted Leo’s brother) talents can best be described as the talkie of post- hardcore. Chris was a singsong out of tune pasture emoting often screeching from a moody mid tempo pulpit. An aquired taste of sorts, The Van Pelt’s popularity never truly expanded outside of the Abc No Rio / house show circuit and hardly lasted the test of time...or so I thought.

This one in a million chance neighbor a decade later and three states away claiming them heroes has me reconsidering.

The Van Pelt broke up in 1997 but during their 3 year stint they had parade of members coming and going. To my knowledge there were at least 8 line up changes but their mercurial roster is a talented bunch. Drummer Neil O’Brien played is quite a few N.J / N.Y. groups but I best remember him as drummer in another relatively unknown but none the less legendary band Greyhouse who paid homage to all that was Dischord. Toko Yasuda went on to form The Lapse with Chris Leo but divided some of her time with a brief spell in Blonde Redhead and landed as a permanent member of Enon. First bass player Barry London went on to play in the Knoxville Girls and Jah Division to name a few and bass player replacement Brian Maryansky became the second guitar player in Jets To Brazil. The Van Pelt family tree owns many more branches into the modern day rock community but this what I can confirm with absolute certainty. If anybody has any updates on what those people or other members like Sean Greene are up to please post a comment.

Up until this summer I had no idea what Chris Leo was doing as of late but I ran into him across from CBGBs. Chris hasn’t retired from the arts and instead he has entered the world of fiction writing. He has been touring the world behind the release of his book
"White Pigeons" and I was most excited to discover chapter 7 is a cd recording of a fictitious band. It’s not exactly Native Nod, The Van Pelt or The Lapse but it is still VERY Chris.

Expect another book from Chris in the not so distant future and oddly enough while researching some of the above I found an essay about CBGBs recently written by Chris so it is
here I will end this coming full circle.

Excuse me while I now try to go back to bed and catch up on some much needed sleep.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A music industry standard

For those of you not attached to the music industry here is a little fact you may or may not know.

As we near the holiday season most record labels (both big and small) put a halt to releasing new records. From this point on (Turkey Day) until the end of January a label will traditionally sit on new artists releases because they tend to get lost in the holiday shuffle. Instead labels want to direct music fans towards their key older catalog releases, box sets, greatest hits, and yes there will always be the usual proper holiday albums. Country stars and top 40 types love to cash in with their own versions "Little Drummer Boy" and the likes.

This constricted flow of new releases in turn slims down the number of records to review. I don't know the exact ratio but roughly there might be 300+ new records a week to possibly run a review of (in the world of PFM friendly music) and as we approach December this number could shrink down to something more like 50 records a week. The closer the year creeps towards its demise,the less records are released. That 50 could shrink down to 5.

There will never be a shortage of music to review but this standard music industry holiday season new release policy / holding pattern has a ripple affect. Less records to review can translate into a creative shift in magazine and website review policies. Records released several months ago may finally get some attention or there also might be curveball reviews of artists outside a genre one would typically expect from a place like PFM.

Over and Out.

Sun Kil Moon / Tiny Cities / Rating 3.0

Listening to Mark Kozelek attempt a full album of Modest Mouse covers is like watching a man wrestle a grizzly bear: It's a challenge that falls somewhere between courageous and stupid.

Modest Mouse = Grizzly Bear
This makes the MM band name all the more ironic to me. Maybe the band Grizzly Bear would be willing to switch names?

PFM says: "Modest Mouse's music, more so than with many other bands, is nearly inseparable from the musicians themselves."

I understand a review is all about opinions that are by definition subjective but this kind of blanket statement reflects zero understanding of any basic band chemistry. The musicians are what make a band a band period. End of sentence. Even if one person is the primary songwriter, when talking about a full band, the line up is what makes the music go. Modest Mouse is a fine example of a well-oiled machine that works well but all it takes is one member change in any band to shift the chemistry in a whole new direction. A band is a structure that requires foundation beams, floors, walls, stairs, windows, and decorative accents... and all parts are equally important. Like the band or not this is how a band dynamic works. Maybe Modest Mouse has a stronger more effective or attractive structure than many other bands but that’s about as useless as saying Modest Mouse has better songs than most. Building a review from this mute point fails to pass any proper review building code.

I can also tell you there are many a MM fan who liked Jeremiah’s (drummer) replacement in Modest Mouse better.

PFM says: Suffice it to say, Kozelek gets mauled on Tiny Cities.

Was Mark sitting on Tiny Cities when the bear attack happened?

PFM says: "but his band only takes one or two musical elements from the Modest Mouse originals, so the songs sound pale and diminished compared to your memory of their source."

A tribute to a band doesn’t have to sound like the original. In fact part of the fun of covering a band is seeing what you can do with it; it's like knocking down a house but keeping the curtains and building something new around it.

Secondly what if you had no idea what Modest Mouse sounded like, do Kozelek’s covers still fall short as songs on their own. The original version of a song does not have to remotely play the role of a blueprint to the new version, again that is part of the charm of a cover. If I wanted to hear an exact MM song, I would throw on a MM record.

PFM says: "Their tasteful Americana is long on atmosphere but short on real dynamics: Most of these tracks sound more or less uniform, which is odd considering the variety of the Modest Mouse versions."

It’s a little strange that not once in this entire PFM review is there a mention of Kozelek’s previous themed tribute album that features front to back AC/DC covers. I HATE AC/DC and this Mark’s particular take on their songs had me spellbound from beginning to end. I should also mention that uniformity is also a strong key feature to What’s Next to the Moon as well.

PFM says: "Despite the stumbles, Kozelek does get a few good hits in before the bear devours him. "

Damn bears.

PFM says: "These tracks are botched experiments that can't even function as interesting failures."

I like the AC/DC tribute cd better but there are still quite a few songs on Tiny Cities I would absolutely call a success story. “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes”, “Dramamine”, and “Convenient Parking” all work with a fluidity few songwriters could translate out of a Modest Mouse song. I won’t tell you this tribute to MM is flawless but it isn’t shameful either.

On it’s way to being something good Tiny Cities earns a solid 6 by my cover standards.

PS: Beware of the bears and what ever you do, DON”T FEED THEM!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Green Day / Bullet in the bible / Rating 3.0

nothingness beyond the fast food wrappers and blaring televisions.

Maybe I am feeling extra age sensitive because it is my birthday today and I am now 34 years in age.

PFM says about Green Day: “ Can they be effective punk revivalists when their biggest hits sag with the ennui of middle age?”

Billie Joe Armstrong (born February 17, 1972 in Oakland, California) is the songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist for Punk-rock/pop punk band Green Day.

Michael Ryan Pritchard (born May 4, 1972)

Tré Cool (Frank Edwin Wright III) (born December 9, 1972 in Frankfurt, Germany)

Awesome, all three of the members of Green day are younger than me which makes me I suppose middle aged too. ? ! What’s with Pitchfork picking on old people. You damn kids with your loud music and fast cars and those shoot em up video games. I shake my fist in the air at you!!!

Show a little respect to your elders.

I also don’t understand why the PFM review neglects to pay tribute to their respective non-major label stretch of Green Day’s carreer (The Gilman Years) but I don’t have the energy to expand on this today. I have cake to eat, drinks to drink, candles to blow out, and a Converge / Darkest Hour / Municpal Waste show to take in.

I better bring my cane.

Information Leafblower : Top 40 bands in America 2005

I was lucky enough to be included in this fun reindeer game along with :

THE PANEL(in no particular order):Gorilla Vs. Bear, Largehearted Boy, Music for Robots, 5500, My Old Kentucky Blog, Catbirdseat, Central Village, Bradley's Almanac, Chromewaves, Dceiver, Byron Crawford, Catherine's Pita, Jason and Rajeev from One Louder, Brooklyn Vegan, Soviet Panda, Melody Nelson, Seeking Irony, Coolfer and myself. ( Myself = Information Leafblower)

To see the complete list of the bands who "won" and how the vote worked, check out Information Leafblower.

To put it out on the table scroll down to check out the top 10 bands I voted for with a few bonus notes but to further explain my list. I only found out after I turned in my 2 cents that the concept should reflect " 10 bands FROM AMERICA that rocked your world in the calendar year of 2005, ranked 1-10, with 1 being the highest. This is not a longevity contest rewarding a band for having a great career. It's more immediate. In fact, it's entirely plausible that the bands you nominate for this list might not even be mentioned next year (or ever again)."

Oh well.

I went for a list of mostly bands I don't LOVE but seem to have a high impact on 2005. (Coolfer I blame you for this game of telephone...ha!) My personal top 10 bands of the year will be posted at a later Jan. 1, 2006. Obviously a ton of other bands fit this bill but these are folks that came to mind first.


Wait, America has important music right now? I thought all the good 2005 stuff was imported from Canada, England, and Norway.

And for my next joke...

I consider this to be a list of top ten American 2005 artists that have left a serious imprint on the music making and music loving community; be it pissing in the genuine talent pool (but the music buying public loves them) or honest to God DNA specimens for all that is genius.

In no particular order.

1) Sunno)))
Amplified subsonic vacuuming tones have not only sprouted forth into the realm of popularity thanks to this band but Sunno))) has redefined black and blue and doom all over. Metal isn't just for metal heads anymore, it can even earn a top chart position at Other Music.

2) akron/family
How one band can sound like every possible genre and pull it off gracefully is a beautiful illusion I pray will never be revealed to their audience. The Akron/Family are the Baryshnikov of sonic folk and they don't have the creepy crazy hippy hobo vibe that a certain label mate of theirs owns. A band to watch for 2006.

3) Xiu Xiu
Do you remember those anatomically correct clear plastic models from the 70's that were of the human body that offered an intimate look at our inner workings? Xui Xui captures the invisible human essence of grief in an uncensored form and allows us to listen to it from every possible angle. They are Antony and the Johnsons minus the Carnegie Hall, Lou Reed, and the Mercury Prize.

4) Will Oldham
Bob Dylan doesn't curdle my cream but I still know a legend when I hear one. Pick one or all of the five or however many incarnations Mr. Oldham's music goes by and I will show you an American folk infused classic. There are a lot of new beards in town but few can match his brand of apocalyptic beauty.

5) Silver Jews
Personally I would take Calvin Johnson's outsider music and poetry over David Berman's any day but I don't like classics like Keroac's On The Road or Burrough's Naked Lunch that much either. Without any hesitation I am certain Tanglewood Numbers will be counted among the highbrow music journalists yearend favorites.

6) Death Cab For Cutie
Nice guy better than average smart indietronica has never sounded so safe and inoffensive. In turn this makes Death Cab perfect for the brooding masses to gobble up and worship. Alterna-rockers and evening teen dramas could be admiring waaay worse so DCFC have my blessing.

7) Animal Collective
Not only is Feels one of my favorite records of 2005 but also I predict if AC remains on this path to blissful trimmed down epic pow-wows they could be the biggest commercial crossover success story since Modest Mouse.

8) Some Girls
Fist Krishna killed hardcore then eyeliner. Some Girls incinerate any preconceived notion of what crushing art-core should or could be. Prepare to be assaulted by something not just violent but virulent no less by dudes who are smarter than you. I am most scared to see what hideous second-rate knock-offs this band will spawn in 2006 and beyond.

9) Mars Volta
I have to pay tribute to a band that will undoubtedly and equally top the best and the worst of 2005 lists across the world... besides their music gives something for Pitchfork to teethe on for a day or two and blogs to comment upon for months later. Cave In has been officially out prog-ed.

10) Deerhoof
What did the hipster coffee shop, bar, eatery, venue, dorm room, car and etcetera stereo play before Deerhoof came along? Sonic Youth? This band can be heard everywhere and I think their vocalist Satomi may also be organizing whales to take over the world in 2006 with her ultra sonic squeaks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Make Believe / Shock of Being / Rating 4.8

Kinsella has made a whole landfill's worth of extremely unique music that has passion on its side but little else.

So many zings so little time.

PFM ends their review with: “Do I really need to spell out that anyone who never liked Kinsella in the first place shouldn't bother with this? As relatively direct as it is, Shock of Being is still hideously overwrought. On the other hand, Kinsella's past fans aren't going to be stepping off the wagon here, either, so the album doesn't really advance the plot on either front. Rather, it's just another bizarre curio from a guy who, as much as I'd like to root for him, can't seem to make a record I want to listen to more than once.”

As much as I would love to believe there is at least one Pitchfork staff member secretly rooting for the underdog among the enemy camp, excuse the pun but this impossible concept seems genuinely make believe to me.

I include myself among the many who firmly believe Tim Kinsella hasn’t released anything ground breaking since Cap’n Jazz but Shock of Being offers the first genuine glimmer in FOREVER that there still is hope for Tim. There are decent songs snuck in between the “disjointed, pretentious, and frequently unlistenable” ones. “One Zero”, “Fumio Nambata Had a Farm”, and “Boom! Sounds like Hiss from the Inside” are windows that reveal something dare I call talent.

If PFM thinks a bad TK record is ultimately predictable, try being a regular Pitchfork reader. Yet another crap review for Kinsella? Now that’s predictable. I will take failed visionary over safe hand me down reviews / reruns any day.

Madonna / Confessions on the Dance Floor / Rating 6.2

trying to predict the next dominant style instead of confidently setting it.

Pitchfork covers Madonna, sure why not. Major label releases are welcomed into their review pool whether their readers care about it / approve or not. The only question that arises from this mixed message policy is if they are going to review the Destiny Child’s and Madonna’s of the world why not include their tour dates or their breaking news too?

Does PFM want to be Rolling Stone or not? It’s hard to be elite AND just like every body else.

PFM says: “At 47 Madonna is playing the role of someone 25 years younger, and those retro space leotards and that feathered hair only make her look more mature and matronly, like your friend's mom dressed up embarrassingly for Halloween.”

If anyone has the body that Madonna does at age 47 then I welcome you to dress any way you damn well please. I didn’t realize that in the year 2005 there were rules for aging and if we really want to stop inappropriate clothing let’s focus on the people who try to squeeze into pants and shirts too small causing a donut like ripple of skin around their middle to spill messily out from under the suffocating material.

Seeing that eye sore pains me, not Madonna.

Anyhow what does her age to fashion ratio have to do with her music or is PFM lacking any other real angle to intelligently discuss her music. I know some people are rolling their eyes as I use the word intelligent and Madonna’s music in the same sentence but I would have expected a more academic approach to such a top level artists. If Pitchfork is going to step up to the plate with a review of a record a million others are going to cover too why in the world wouldn’t they try to dish out a competitive fresh take? PFM has covered Stuart Price of Les Rhythmes Digitales / Zoot Woman in the past so it wouldn’t have been out of place to expand upon this aspect of Confessions on a Dance Floor, something I am certain few mainstream publications would be able to expertly comment upon.

Secondly who the hell expects brilliant lyrics from Madonna? Anyone?
Oh right, Pitchfork.

PFM says: “The young Madonna pops up repeatedly on Confessions, a foil to her older self. "How High" plumbs the motives behind her headline- and crotch-grabbing behavior of yore, but it only reveals how deeply she has embedded herself into the establishment.”

A Madonna review on Pitchfork seems pretty darn “embedded into the establishment” too so to really stick it to the man it looks like everybody involved is going to have to try a little harder the next time around.

Reminder: Madonna makes relatively mindless mainstream music to dance to and for those of you who care Confessions on the Dance Floor successfully extends this tradition.

Danger Doom / The Mouse and the Mask / Rating 7.8

I'm trying to sprinkle sugar on my corn flakes-- not cocaine.

“Why did you buy this album? I don’t know why you did, you’re stupid.”

“Where’s the keyboards, and the tambourines, and the guitar and you know I mean the stuff white people like. Something badass, like... eh uhh. I don’t know. Like a Reo Speedwagon or something.”
Carl / Aqua Teen Hunger Force

I know that some of you are thinking, Adult Swim is the “stuff that white people like” and that is why some people bought this album.

Obviously people of all color and creed like these late night cartoons (though adult should not be mistaken for mature) and like hip-hop but Danger Doom is a clever product designed to lure in the music fan (of any color, duh.) who may not normally like or buy a rap release.

If you listen carefully I am certain someone somewhere in the world is saying to a friend right now “I normally don’t like rap but this Danger Doom record is really good.”

Just how good is the debatable part, especially when the glowing reviews are often coming from people who don’t own or know much about rap yet they know the all words to the Sealab’s opening theme.

Danger Mouse and MF Doom both have a sizable following but this is overshadowed by the chocolate in my peanut butter collision of never together before talent. This is exactly what makes this cd tempting to a wider audience and in turn cultivates a genius cross-cult marketing commercial hit.

The underground music community is once again digging a tunnel a little closer to the surface of the mainstream and maybe that’s why even though the humor found on The Mouse and the Mask is often R-rated in theme, the powers that be opted to bleep out the FCC regulated curse words. Does anyone else find this curious? It appears every copy of this cd is "clean" but if I am wrong please leave a comment saying so.

As a huge Daily Show fan I would be drooling over a collaboration of the Shins, Animal Collective and John Stewart (if such a thing existed) but I would also have unbelievably high expectations from the final product. I expect great things when great talents combine forces and in the end Danger Doom has a lesser impact than that of twisted Sesame Street or Muppet Show record.

Just substitute vowels with the subject of urine, Miss Piggy for Master Shake, and the Cookie Monster for MF Doom.

Pop culture addicts will get a quick fix but in 10 years will The Mouse and the Mask be as clever and will the beats and rhymes sound as palatable as De La Soul's Three Ft. High and Rising more than a decade later? Most of us can hum "Rainbow Connection" and probably know at least a few of the words but I’m not so sure Danger Doom has produced something quite as timeless and classic for the sub-culture set.

Lets be honest, how great is DD if you had never heard of Adult Swim before and or knew how many better rap records exist in the world?

PFM says: Danger Doom won't change your life. It's not as revealing as Doom's other work, and Danger Mouse's big, Technicolor productions here are a little too trivial to be immortal. But for what it attempts-- which is basically a comedy record with no-joke skills-- it exceeds expectations.

Doom has done better. DM has done better. Adult Swim’s comedy minus the moving image survives well enough but this complete package called Dangerdoom does not have the shelf life of a Twinkie however Danger Doom is as yummy... even if we all know it lacks any real substance.

The 7.8 rating works for me but it should drop one tenth of a point with each passing new year.

Monday, November 14, 2005

TFM notes from the weekend

*Akron/Family December U.S. Tour
Fri 12/2/05 Bard College MPR Annandale-On-Hudson, NY
Sat 12/3/05 Lunt Basement at Haverford College Haverford, PA
Sun 12/4/05 Smith College Northampton, MA
Mon 12/5/05 AS 220 Art Space Providence, RI
Tue 12/6/05 PA's Lounge Somerville, MA (Boston)
Wed 12/7/05 SUNY Purchase Student Bldg Purchase, NY
Thu 12/8/05 Iota Cafe Arlington, VA (Washington DC)
Fri 12/9/05 The Khyber Philadelphia, PA
Sat 12/10/05 Tonic New York, NYS
un 12/11/05 Bar Nightclub New Haven, CT

* Check out this new Frenchkiss band:
-The Plastic Constellations album, entitled Crusades, will be out on January 24th, 2006. Check out a new track called Sancho Panza, be sure to check out their site and old MP3s here. They will be on tour in November, playing a few shows with Murder By Death in the midwest.

* From Secretly Canadian: New Danielson Singles, Full-length and Documentary in 2006

In case you haven't heard, 2006 will be the year of Danielson. The mammoth new Secretly Canadian full-length by the Southern New Jersey enclave, entitled "Ships" (produced by Danielson chieftain Daniel Smith), is being released May 9. Prior to its release, in March, three unique 7" singles will be released simultaneously on Anticon (with a song performed and produced by Why? and an album track remix by Christiaan Palladino), Kill Rock Stars (with two songs produced by Kramer) and Sounds Familyre (two songs recorded with Steve Albini). These singles will include non-album tracks and a remix. In contrast to the Br. Danielson album "Brother Is to Son" from last year, the songs on "Ships" are not solo songs, nor are they recorded without the help of his Famile. "Ships" is pure Danielson, created with the help of no less than 34 of Smith's closest friends and family members.

1. Daniel Smith- Danielson
2. Andrew Smith- the Famile
3. David Smith- the Famile
4. Megan Slaboda- the Famile
5. Rachel Galloway- the Famile
6. Elin Smith- the Famile
7. Christiaan Palladino- the Famile
8. Melissa Palladino- the Famile
9. Lenny Smith- the Famile
10. Lilly Smith- the Famile
11. Ida Smith- the Famile
12. Jedidiah Slaboda- the Famile
13. Ted Velykis- The Ladytron / Leopulde
14. John Ringhofer- Half-handed Cloud
15. Greg Saunier- Deerhoof
16. John Dieterich- Deerhoof
17. Satomi Matsuzaki- Deerhoof
18. Chris Cohen- Deerhoof
19. Sufjan Stevens
20. Josiah Wolf- Why?
21. Yoni Wolf- Why?
22. Doug McDiarmid- Why?
23. Matt Meldon- Why?
24. Brian and Amy- Miner Street
25. Emil Nikolaisen- Serena Maneesh
26. Tom Eaton- Goodeaton
27. Steve and Dave- Gradwell
28. Alan Douches- West Westside
29. Ben Swanson- Secretly Canadian
30. Darin Gray- Grand Ulena / Brice Glace / Dazzling Killmen
31. Kramer- Bongwater / B.A.L.L.
32. Steve Albini - Shellac
33. Edith Frost
34. Jon Galloway- Soul-Junk

Also on the horizon for 2006 will be the release of the feature-length Danielson documentary. Directed by JL Aronson over the course of the last 5 years, "Danielson: a Family movie (or, Make a Joyful Noise HERE)" will also make its premiere on the cinematic circuit in early 2006.

* BBC interview and performance w/ Vashti Bunyon

* In studio performances @ Minnesota Public Radio w/ Magic Numbers, Mugison, Broadcast and more.

* Check out the The Brunettes, a band from New Zealand and newly signed to Sub Pop.

* Hooray...Bound Stems on Flame Shovel is finally out this week!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tender Forever + Calvin Johnson / Nanci Raygun, Richmond, Va./ Nov. 10th 2005

Red = hot Mustard = luke warm Blue = leaves me cold

“Calvin has two voices. If he carries on with a regular voice this means he likes you and will want to maintain a business relation but if he uses his deep booming voice this means he wasn’t comfortable talking to you and you should never bother him again”

This was my “official” introduction to Calvin. I was 20 years old and fresh blood from a record store in NJ. I had moved to the northwest to work for a small record label and task number one was to call Calvin at K to introduce myself.

I loved Beat Happening and owned the most of the K Records catalog but Calvin up until this point had been an out of reach / across the country idol; an intimidating comic book character of a man I was already nervous to approach. A more seasoned co-worker who used to work with Calvin was kind enough to prep me for our first communiqué.

The phone was dialed and Calvin spoke tersely. He maintained a Lee Hazlewood-esque rumble for the entirety of our call and I hung up in tears... absolutely devastated. The best indie rock prank of all time had successfully been pulled off and suddenly my co-workers burst out laughing.

Calvin only has one voice and it is ALWAYS freakishly deep.

Fourteen years later I still have no idea how to comfortably talk to Calvin. I recorded a handful of songs in his basement studio what feels like a lifetime ago and it was on my walk to his show that I realized this was last time we had seen each other no less talked.

Over the past 10 years very little has changed. Calvin is and forever will be just 100% Calvin. I don’t know how else to put it. He has always dressed like a 1960’s bible schoolteacher. His arms with a personality of their own explore his head, side, and the space all around him whether he is alone or in the company of others. His voice to this day cannons out random alto phrases that tumble into a conversation like misused quotes from an English as a second language slang book written by Andy Warhol and a boy scout.

Our conversation of small talk quickly ended as his opening act began chatting into the microphone from her position on the floor in front of the stage. The audience semi circled around her and Melanie Valera AKA Tender Forever’s verbose habit continued on and occasionally off for over 40 minutes.

A not so distant cousin to Team Dresch in spirit, her beat-heavy prerecorded sing alongs are the Le Car of pop meaning the songs are ultra compact. (She is also French and rather small in frame.) I can’t decide if her jumbled long winded rants between song are intentionally used to fill time or are a nervous habit but it did lead to an acappella version of the Different Strokes theme in French. As Melanie would say, “That was cool.” (She says the word cool enough times during her set to circle the world twice)

Tender Forever’s performance was energetic and passionate but she could stand to practice the mantra less talk more rock. I wonder how you say that in French?

Two events are often booked at this venue for the same night (one early/one late) and just about 3 songs into Calvin’s set of: man, acoustic guitar, and a bullfrog trapped in a well voice; he was told he was out of time*. Feeling just warmed up and dedicated to finishing his set in full, he offered the crowd a quick solution.

The small park across the street tucked between two buildings (A pregnant brick alley with sparse foliage and a couple of benches) would be home to Act II of his performance.

About 40 of us bundled up and headed outdoors where Calvin did just as he promised. He stood atop a park bench beneath a lit street lamp and the rest of his set was completed sans interruption.

A family of confused birds chirped madly and excitedly in the yellow light above our heads. Cars inched by behind us on a busy main drag with blasting stereos. Confused pedestrians coming from the parking garage and ATM stopped briefly to tilt heads and whisper to their friends. A campus police officer strolled by without so much as even a pause. Autumn leaves shifted impatiently from tree to body and eventually rested on brick.(Richmond loves its brick) Couples huddled. A few teeth chattered. Hands were shoved more deeply into pockets. It was nearly 11pm, beyond chilly, but listening to an often accapella serenade of mostly new (but not excluding a smattering of older Calvin material) in a movie-like perfect setting made this unbelievably special event all the more spectacular.

I can’t imagine how this appeared to an unsuspecting passerby. Here was a middle aged white man standing on a wooden bench strumming an acoustic guitar and doing something many non-fans of CJ refuse to call singing to a huddled but happy crowd of kids.

We must have looked like a crazy cuddly cult sponsored by The Gap and Goodwill.

I can’t think of anything more 100% Calvin.

* This is what happens when the show promoter stalls the start time of the show in hopes of a larger turn out.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Calvin Johnson's Act II

Both pictures were taken by Richmond's very own Chris Lacroix.

Ahhhh crap.

It doesn't happen very often but I just don't have the time to blog properly today. To make up for it there will be postings this weekend and hopefully extra stuff all next week. You can look forward to the usual PFM reviews, several live show reviews, a new /hopefully semi-regular post called Confessions of a Record Addict, and who knows what else.

Until next time,

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Matt Pond PA/Several Arrows Later/4.0

maybe Pond really is just another ordinary-guy exemplar of the ongoing post-Coldplay adult contemporarization of indie

A coffee shop in town makes a remarkable grilled cheese sandwich – homemade wheat bread with slices of cheddar and thin slices of Granny Smith apples. This time of year, the apples are freshly picked from the Shenandoah Valley just 100 miles away, bestowing on the sandwich their full range of tartness and flavor. That sandwich combined with a cup of foaming latte is one of the perfect autumn lunches. However, I am also a fan of the plain-old homemade grilled cheese with processed cheese, mushy grocery store bread and margarine. It’s a sandwich that’s seen me through childhood, university, a couple of years of temp jobs and many bowls of soup. Matt Pond PA’s latest CD is a grilled cheese sandwich sort of album. Regrettably, PFM’s review of Several Arrows Later seems to fault the album for its lack of exotic ingredients while missing the delights of basic ingredients put together appealingly.

I do give the review credit for listening through the album and properly comparing it to Pond’s previous work. Several Arrows Later covers little new ground for Matt Pond lyrically or musically. There are love songs sung to his beloved and quotidian observations while walking through the city. There are gentle steady drumming, strummed guitars, and flourishes of strings. Tracks from Emblems would blend in between tracks from Several Arrows Later with little problem. If you are looking for challenging listening, this album does not have it. However, all of the cuts have an undeniable pop sheen. Unsurprisingingly, the first time I played a track on my radio show someone complimented me on it. On an individual track basis, the record will grab many listeners.

Now, because Matt Pond PA does their one thing exclusively and intensely, I can see how that one thing might not be to some listeners’ tastes. However, it’d be nice if Pitchfork had some system where reviewers could just wave away a CD that wasn’t their thing. Pitchfork’s compensation structure probably doesn’t encourage that kind of thing from its writers.

Based on past reviews, it seems that PFM can’t restrain themselves from giving Matt Pond PA a bad review. For example, PFM quotes the line “Heard it's modern to be stupid” and points out its inconsistency with another line in another song. The line ain’t the greatest lyric in Rock history. However, the key is in its delivery – even, calm, only letting the melody give the slightest sense of disdain. In fact, Matt Pond’s singing relies on the melody far more than his delivery to carry the emotion of the lyrics. While this makes the singing less dynamic, it allows the melody to stand out more.

Putting aside my defense of this record, Several Arrows Later is not a contender for album of the year. While Matt Pond PA do what they do well, they’re still doing the same thing as their previous albums. I’d give this something hovering around the 6.5 range. If you’re a Matt Pond PA fan, buy this album. If you’re looking for something poppy and easy, but are short on scratch, you can spend your money better this fall.

Lastly, the quip about “a newly savvy freshperson .. in Dad's Lexus RX that first Thanksgiving home” sounds more like someone gripping about urban parking than an insight about the music. I’ve met enough interesting people with unexpected tastes in music, that I’ve come to disdain using music to label folks as much as I dislike other facile labels about people. I’m also frustrated at attempts to link music to “lifestyle marketing”. While I think PFM’s comment reveals a similar disgust, it reinforces the assumption that our choices about real aesthetics – art, literature, film and music – must mesh into our tastes about consumer goods – cars, coffee and clothes.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings -v - Breakestra

Red = hot Mustard = luke warm Blue = leaves me cold

Who will win the funk battle of 2005???

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings' Naturally (Daptone) and Breakestra's Hit the Floor (Ubiquity) are both 2005 records and both do the live full piece classic but mostly original heavy funk right.

I am talking get down, get naked, get good and sweaty all night long to these two records right.

Sexier than a tie, I will call it a dead heat.

Actually Dead Heat would be a great title for a split record between these two bands. I call dibs!

AFX / Hangable Auto Bulb / Rating 8.9

That tension, between the otherworldly yet effortlessly tuneful melodies purring along beneath drums that constantly struggle to frame them, is what the ensuing era of James' music is all about, and Hangable Auto Bulb is a hell of an intro.

PFM's Mark Richardson is one of the few writers who cover a genre (electronic music) that I tend to consistently trust and agree with. The truth is I am not enough of a serious electronic music fan to comfortably review / combat the non-indietronica titles anyhow but for what it's worth I concur with the 8.9 rating.

AFX Hangable Auto Bulb is a remarkable cd to me but specifically for these two reasons.

1) Ten years after its original limited release as two separate EPs the music doesn't sound shamefully dated. The impressive thing about being a pioneer to a genre is working 5 to 10 years ahead of the curve makes your releases 5 to 10 years later sound relatively fresh and now.

2) Where was I in 1995? Ten years ago I was coming out of my post hardcore coma and learning phrases like drum and bass, jungle, house, and trance for the first time. My just above average knowledge of electronic music in addition to my basic understanding of how to make it is still shameful when placed in a time line against the music found on this cd. I am just now wrapping my head around how superior and advanced Richard D. James' talent really was/is.

I am a fan of AFX and Hangable Auto Bulb but I am certain this cd deserves to be in better hands then my own. Be the first to post a comment about wanting it and the cd will be yours. After posting the first comment email me your name and address at .

I will mail it to you by the end of this week for free. WE HAVE A WINNER!!!

Dawn Smithson / Safer Here / Rating 6.8

In an artistic progression strikingly similar to that of former Eric's Trip bassist Julie Doiron, Smithson has crafted a home-recorded, bittersweet songcycle in reverence of solitude.

Julie Doiron and Dawn Smithson were both in bands during the early to mid 90's. Eric's Trip registered somewhere in the MBV fanclub with an obvious nod to Sonic Youth and other notable shoegazers while Jessamine liked Can and the Silver Apples A LOT.

Julie and Dawn originally played bass and have since moved on to other instruments. (including and mainly playing guitar)

They are both woman still making music but now in a semi-solo fashion. ( semi-solo = w/collaberations)

PFM says about Dawn: "Smithson has crafted a home-recorded, bittersweet songcycle in reverence of solitude. Utilizing a skeletal, percussion-less backdrop, the album centers its hermetic gaze upon Smithson's serene vocals and intimate, plainspoken lyrics to create an inviting haven, while coolly ignoring the fact that in music such safety is not necessarily the highest virtue."

PFM says about Julie : Like Bettie Serveert's Carol van Dijk without the sunny smiles, Beth Orton without the reverb chamber and the Chemical Brothers connection, or Jenny Toomey on Xanax, Doiron has a natural ache in her voice that manages to sidestep both wistful whimsy and wretched despair.

PFM gave both Dawn's record a 6.8 and Julie and the Wooden Stars record a 6.8.

The comparisons end here.

A strikingly similar "artistic progression"starts and ends with bass player girl from underground 90's band going solo and home recording sad songs. More importantly neither woman makes art identical to the other nor did they share the same path along the way.

Julie has been making music, playing guitar and writing her own songs since the mid/late 90's. She has steadily recorded new material ever since.

Dawn started Safer Here in 2004 and has not released any solo material until this year. She has been on hiatus for more than 6 years and as much as I want to love her work post Jessamine, she simply isn't a strong singer or songwriter...yet.

Safer Here sounds like a first record and she will need a good 10 years to reach Doiron's skill level. Smithson is on the right path but even knowing this is her first solo record doesn’t excuse the final product which barely chalks up to mildy provacative AKA deserves a rating of 4 or 5 tops.

PFM tried their best to find compatible indie female artists ( The Safer Here review also mentions Cat Power and Christina Carter) but in the modern world of sad singer songwriter types I think they could they have dared to compare a few male artists or focused on the music beyond the vocals.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Rewind : A band to remember : HEAVY VEGETABLE

Who: Heavy Vegetable
Where: Encinitas, California
When: 1993 - 1995
Members: Rob Crowe - singer / guitar player ( Future member of Thingy + Pinback to name just a few), Eléa Tenuta - singer (later Thingy), Travis Nelson - bass, Manolo Turner - drummer
What: Swirlies gone math-rock. Those suffering from ADD take notice, practically all of their songs run under the 3 minute mark. Heavy Vegetable's music is a complex jigsaw puzzle composed of maddening and unpredictable time signatures nestled against tight male / female vocal harmonies.

I don't understand how a pre-Pinback band this fantastic could go so under appreciated for so long. Please do yourself a favor and check out any of the records mentioned below. Frisbie is my personal favorite.

Key Discrography:
*A Bunch of Stuff EP7 (The Way Out Sound) 1993
*The Amazing Undersea Adventures Of Aqua Kitty And Friends (Cargo, 1994)
* Frisbie (Cargo, 1995)
*Heavy Vegetable - picture disc 7" (HED 1995) 'Couch', 'Headrush', and live acoustic 'Crash', 'Excess'
*Eyesore - VA / A Stab At The Residents CD compilation (Vaccination Records Co 1996) 'Times Up' Residents cover
*Mondo Aqua Kitty : a collection of rarities and singles (Cargo, 2000)

Listen to samples here

ps: If anybody knows what the non-Rob Crowe members of Heavy Vegetable are up to these days, please post it in the comment section. Thanks!

Angels of Light & Akron/Family / Akron/ Family & Angels of Light / Rating 8.0

hyperkinetic mini-opera

The question isn’t what does this record sound like; it’s what doesn’t it sounds like:

Neutral Milk Hotel, The Band, Devandra, Pink Floyd, Byrds, The Dead, ZZ Top, Beatles, Beach Boys, Allman Brothers, My Morning Jacket, Steely Dan, Unwound, Animal Collective, Radiohead, Smog, Flaming Lips, Beefheart, and the Kinks to name a few. These are all bands mentioned in various Angels / Akron reviews and the scary thing is I can defend 95% of those RIYLs. This pendulum swing of assorted styles and decades seems unlikely and impossible but no matter how terrifying this list looks, it somehow is accurate.

Not mentioned in the PFM review: This entire record was recorded live in NYC and according to M. Gira “with a few overdubs - mixed and finished in nine 8-hour days.” immediately following an Angels of Light & Akron/Family 2005 tour.

Tracks 1-7 Akron/ Family
No Neck Blues snake charmer spiritualists lullaby then shout hymns for the city mouse while bathtub moonshine Americana is Christmas caroled a few blocks from the L Train. Barebacked joy, these song tickle, stomp, sway, clap, noodle, and koombiya from start to finish.

Tracks 8-12 Angels of Light backed by Akron/ Family.
A Dylan cover (“I Pity the Poor Immigrant”), A deconstructed Swans cover (“Mother/Father” which PFM doesn’t mention), Pastor Michael Gira sets forth his aged wisdom in the form of a sonic folkafied sermon.

If art-gospel with its dedicated hippyster (a friend coined that phrase) following question which church of rock to pray to, Young Gods Records has already built up one hell, I mean heck of a flock and they have a choir worthy of your donations.

The PFM 8.0 rating earns an Amen.

Monday, November 07, 2005

From Monument to Masses / Schools of Thought Contend / Rating 6.4

acerbic assault on political injustice

Here is my 12 step listening program in semi-real time:

1)During the very first listen late at night I was tempted to hit forward button around 12 times but listened all the way through regardless.

2) Second listen I began connecting more deeply with each track.

3) Third listen the stand out tracks are "Deafening", "Old Robes" ( Nano Machine Remix), "To Z(Repeat)"(65 Days of Static remix).

4) I Began wondering how I could have oringally wanted to skip across so much of Schools of Thought Contend.

5) Holy ESG bass / beat combo at the end of Automato’s remix of The Spice Must Flow remix.

6) Listening to FMTM with headphones on a long walk I had a flashback to a time when I was listening to Rodan and had CNN on in another room. (I often keep the news on during the day while I work when our political climate is heated) The sounds of the record and news collided to form a disturbing but powerful collage.

7) More thoughts while walking with headphones: I wonder if this is what a rock band tribute to M83 would sound like if it featured members of the Books and Euphone.

8) One last thought with headphones on: How would this record match up if I played it along to the movie Koyaanisqatsi?

9) New favorite songs are immerging "The Quiet Before" (both versions) and "The Noise Thereafter".

10) Second Flashback: I remember taking a drivers ed. class in high school and the teacher firmly telling us during the fall season to never drive through massive piles of leaves swept to the side of the road no matter how tempting it is because children might be hiding or playing inside them. As morbid as this image is, it has never left me and I imagine the tragedy as an adult if it could be a scene in a movie. As pretend music director I would suggest a track from From Monument to Masses to guide this collision of rusted innocence and unspecting gore.

11) Back at home I find myself clicking over certain tracks to get to my favorite tracks. Not making the cut because I don’t have the focus for a 70 minute record all in one shot: "Comrades & Friends" and tracks 9-12

12) From Monument To Masses name may sound like a bad late 90’s emo band but I assure you this is emotional and moving music minus the high water pants and back pack.


PFM artfully rehashes the band’s my space bio but also accurately states "Schools of thought contend is not some "throwaway" remix album but a true notch in FMTM's discography that the band attests is as vital, representative, and artistically challenging as its last two albums.”

The final paragraph PFM states: “Even if it isn't enough to stand on its own, Schools of Thought Contend has a ton of strong, interesting, and exciting material. Its biggest drawback is the length. At 15 tracks, it's just too bloated, especially considering the source album only had seven. As a companion piece to its predecessor, Schools works, but without that support, it will probably find trouble standing on its own.”

The entire FMTM review is positive and with a closing comment that includes “strong, interesting and exciting” it would be easy to conceive a rating higher than a 7, not the 6.4 it actually got.

Personally I would have been content with a mere 10 tracks on this remix collection but the beauty of the forward button on any stereo is 15 tracks can be cut down to whatever number of songs makes you happy. No matter which will be your favorites there is enough impressive material on Schools of Thought Contend to make this a better than average full length release.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A less productive me

I had every intention of cranking out reviews this weekend but between the week long radio station fundraising efforts and a diminished coffee intake all I can muster is a few random bits of info I have stumbled across over the past week. I promise that with a new week upon us and a large cup o' joe in the AM tomorrow, it will be business as usual here at TFM headquarters.

* Hear new songs from Christopher Paul Richards of Q and Not U's new band Ris Paul Ric. "PURPLE BLAZE" is out now Academy Fight Song and his tour to support this record is happening NOW.

* News from Pancake Mountain
"Halloween+Baltimore+Rufus+Juliette Lewis=Kooky. We thought she was gonna do the PM theme song but she gave us this little ditty instead. "

* From Bjork's site:
On November 21st, the label Rephlex is releasing an EP featuring the 'Shooting Stars & Asteroids' remix of 'Who Is It' (catalogue number CAT 174 EP). This song is the first version from 2001 - back when it was known as "Embrace Fortress" - with music by Bogdan Raczyinski. You can listen to it here.

* I love my state. Court rules fighting is 'integral part' of hockey

* What is the best band most likey to steal Q and Not U's fan club up to?
From November 9 to 15 NYC's Rahim will be in Baltimore recording with J. Robbins. The full length record wil be released on Frenchkiss in 2006.

* Any of you Hydra Head Records fans know their website isn't the easiest place to browse for information about their releases no less upcoming releases. I had to make a call to the owners do get the scoop on the Jesu domestic vinyl release. (Jesu will be in my top 10 of 2005) You heard it here first: the lp is a double picture disc with die cut jacket and should be ready for sale by sometime in December. There will only be 1000 available and I can pretty much promise you they will sell out in a matter of a day or two. Jesu fans and HH lp collectors should start checking the HH web store starting December 1st.

* Electric President is a new band to Morr Records with a S/T record due out in early 2006. You can check out a song on the Morr site or browse the artist site which also contains side project info, art, writings, and more from Ben Cooper, Alex Kane, and friends. For once Jacksonville Florida churns out something that doesn't sound like a pop punk band or a tribute to Leatherface. Electric President home record lo-fi acoustic electronic pop with soft boy vocals and fit into the Morr roster as if they were the label's long lost children.

* From

Saturday, 05 November 2005
"We are sad to report tragedy has struck DMBQ. According to Todd P "DMBQ’s van rolled from I-95 in Delaware en route from Baltimore to Brooklyn on Friday afternoon. All members of the band have been hospitalized, as well as Michelle Cable from Panache Magazine and booking, who has been managing their tour. Mana "China" Nishiura did not survive the accident. China was DMBQ's drummer, as well as a former drummer in Shonen Knife. China will be missed.Michelle Cable is conscious following surgery for a head injury. Shinji Masuko is still in the hospital but is expected to be released soon. Toru Matsui and Ryuichi Watanabe have been released from the hospital." "

* Fourtet interview / plays live on NPR. Listen here.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Test Icicles / For Screening Purposes Only / Rating 8.1

train hard and eat a big pasta dinner before hitting the parquet

Here we go again. This is a review of the import and the American version which will remain on Domino isn't coming out until 2006. As far as I know it doesn't even have an actual street date yet beyond sometime next year.

In the meantime we have a cd single and 7" for Boa vs Python with three other tracks, also on Domino.

Half the music blog out there are already loving this band and discussing how brilliant or stupid the band name is. Next.

Live The Faint have more of a sandpaper volatile edge but on record it never really happened. Test Icicles shove some other influences in there AKA circle pit material with a metallic hate-core twist but I also hear The Faint I had always hoped for.

NME has a news story on this band just about every other day meaning this band has already broken in a big way over seas.

PFM says: "For development's sake, the band ought to call Frenchkiss, which has this kind of slanted and chanted dance-punk all but vertically integrated"

That little band Franz Ferdinand that Domino broke a few years back pre-major label jump didn't have any of that dance-punk baked into their angular rock goodness. Also if PFM is going to review an import from England then they should consider the UK roster which varies from the American line up.

ps: Speaking of Frenchkiss, I am digging the new Tangiers cd. Go Canada.

pps. If I didn't know better I would say Frenchkiss either owns or is dating a key staff member at PFM. Actually maybe this all stems from Pitchfork's hard on for all that is Les Savy Fav.

It's pointless to point out that imports of bigger profile records aren't suppose to ship to the States when the cd is eventually coming out domestically but it is going to happen any way. I guess all I can do here is tell those of you who can afford to shell out the $ for an import that this time the money will be well spent. Behind the Test Icicles grade school humor word play and 77' punk attitude is a band that is genuinely too good to pass up.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Why? / Elephant Eyelash / Rating 7.8

You too can write about music, all you have to do is rearrange / expand upon the words from the label / PR one sheet and own a thesaurus!!!

Why? Elephant Eyelash Quotes taken DIRECTLY from the one sheet / press sheet:

*Jangley psych-rock, folk-hop- peculiar pop
*Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel, kraut rock, dub
*Instruments- guitars, turntable, piano, glockenspiel, pedals, pots and pans

Ahhh, the power of suggestion. Here is a selection of clips taken from several online reviews. See a pattern? I am not saying this is always a bad thing but I think it is interesting to see just how similar / uncreative / possibly lazy music journalists as a group can be.
Pavement, Radiohead, Fiery Furnaces - these names aren’t as sacred to me as they are to some indie rock fans, but I’m still invoking them for a reason. “Gemini,” “Sanddollars” and “Yo Yo Bye Bye” are likely the three catchiest indie rock songs I’ve heard this year, and there are so many surprising twists in the melodies, time signatures, lyrics and production that I'll keep returning to these songs for months. Elephant Eyelash is a terrific rock record, especially for a guy who's known as an MC.
Yoni Wolf finally realizes his hip-hop informed indie-pop aesthetic with Elephant Eyelash.

The Anticon crew have never been ones to create hip-hop according to what is expected of the genre, and Why? is no different. In fact, one could argue that on his past couple releases he's very nearly created an entirely new genre that is grounded in indie rock, but dips into hip-hop and several other genres for something that's refreshing and unique (but maybe a bit frustrating for fans of one genre or the other without an open mind to accept the other). Elephant Eyelash is no different, with Why? pulling together all his previous influences into something even more focused and cohesive.

Influences are more than evident, but are all tweaked with Why?'s unique wit and wide-eyed view on composing. Beck's Spanish rhythms and slacker country guitars make Rubber Traits the perfect Summer tinged soundtrack, Waterfalls is the psych-folk oddity of the Animal Collective and elsewhere, Pavement, Radiohead, hip hop, country, post rock and blues all make appearances.

If you can appreciate hip-hop and indie-pop equally, and you need some good music to get over that former special someone with, this album was made for you. Get thee hence to the record store!

Why?'s Elephant Eyelash is a surrealist pop composition that's endearing & twisted in its own unique way. Appealing to fans of Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel and They Might be Giants alike, the group is fronted by Yoni Wolf, who first cut his teeth as a member of the critically-acclaimed cLOUDDEAD.

Why?'s quirky indie-pop is hard to place. At times the band sounds like Pavement and later a one-singer Fiery Furnaces. Why? uses an odd assortment of instruments to create its sound — a turntable, piano, glockenspiel and steel pedal to name a few.

12 songs in 41 minutes is just the perfect length for an album. Elephant Eyelash opens with "Crushed Bones", which is a, uh, bone-crushing smash of pop-song in the crossover terrain of pop and hip-hop, think the Streets meets Pavement meets Eels meets Neutral Milk Hotel meets Beck meets Sparklehorse. Why? plays jangly pop-rock, and bouncy folk-pop with a slight 'sike' touch, light indie-rock, mixed perfectly with rhymes and rhythms from smart, modern hip-hop.
There is a ton of piano on here (think Pavement “Range Life”), chunky power-pop rhythms, and enough vigorous acoustic strumming, booming bass drum and washy cymbals to make people think of Neutral Milk Hotel or The Microphones.

The indie-pop-crowd will definitely like this record. It will make them think of Pavement, and they always like that, don’t they?

Holy crap….hip hop meets indie rock??? That is some crazy cutting edge shit. I didn’t know that was possible. Geesh, there aren’t a kagillion other mixing and matching of genres happening out there in the modern age of recording??? What year is this? I understand Elephant Eyelash is indeed an obvious cross between these genres but it doesn’t have to be the primary focus of almost every piece, does it?

Pitchfork at least had one of the more creative non cookie cutter reviews out there so hats off to them. Below is a quote that technically puts them in the ring with all the other Why? reviews but at least they put a more intersting spin on the theme. I suppose thats what makes PFM a heavyweight contender and in this case, the winner.
In fact, forget about whether Wolf's career belongs in hip-hop or indie rock or jangle-psych or whatever: By now his music has oozed so far away from a clear-cut genre that the whoom-pa beats he's sometimes fond of could have been inspired by polka.