Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Clearlake / Amber / Rating 7.4

Frequently gorgeous but over-lubed, the album forges soundscapes so lush they're almost narcotic.

I keep putting off this Clearlake review because I keep telling myself I just need to listen to Amber one more time to grasp it fully. The problem is I don’t think 100 or 1000 listens will fix this problem. The songs are astonishly complex but it is the layer after layer of stunning and meticulous production that keeps my ears demanding a replay. I’ve given up playing this on my stereo or in the car and as of yesterday Amber has been upgraded to a headphones only release.


This is what I consider to be the audio version of mouth to mouth.


Over the past few days I have also read and re-read PFM’s Clearlake review in hopes to grasp it fully but I'm afraid that too isn’t possible. Sam Ubl has packed 4 paragraphs with wonderful words like frissons, atavistic, profligate, smogsets, folderol, and screed, but I can’t be certain beyond the number rating if PFM liked this record or not. I despise poor communication and as poetic as this PFM review reads I have no fucking clue what is actually being said. Feeling too stupid to understand a record review is as depressing as Clearlake’s inherently melancholy music.


Note to self: Do not play Scrabble with PFM writer Sam Ubl.


I think Sam liked the record, a 7.4 is decent but it falls painfully short of the PFM Cedars review which earned the band a gushing and gleeful 9.1.

There are a million ways I judge a record but I am going to let you in on a little secret. When I listen to a record I imagine how it would look if it were plugged into a life support machine measuring its heartbeat. Is there are strong heartbeat and soul to the music that would register in wild and jagged peaks or would it flat line? Does it have an irregular heartbeat that occasionally fails but eventually steadies out again? Are the blips so faint that the music is too weak to surive?

An album can also be recorded so fascinatingly and curiously well that it isn’t just the music that carries a spark of life, it is how the music was recorded that makes a record breathe. Amber has a healthy strong body of music but its bleeding human heart is kept pumping by its production.

Clearlake’s band site has several demo versions of songs from Amber available and you can hear first hand what I am talking about. Comparing demos to their finished product one can easily identify Clearlake’s recording techniques as something I won’t call their better half but a helping half none the less.

Clearlake had this to say about their record:"We wanted to make an intense record which we could lose ourselves in on stage and this is it. The music we were listening to this time was definitely more rock: Queens of the Stone Age, Neil Young, Low, My Bloody Valentine," Jason Pegg says.

The above quote explains why just about every other review mentions one or all of those bands I listening to the record on endless loop but I can’t say I clearly hear any of those influences. It sounds like the Clearlake I already loved took their recording and mastering sessions very seriously and in return an enormous sounding record celebrating the electric guitar was born.

Clearlake’s band site further explains that Amber was recorded and or mixed at 8 different studios between the UK and France including Peter Gabriel’s’ Real Word Studios.

In greater detail:
"Amber has been produced by the band’s lead singer and guitarist, Jason Pegg, along with Steve Osborne (of U2, Happy Mondays, KT Tunstall) and Jim Abbiss (Kasabian, DJ Shadow, David Gray) and recorded by Phill Brown (Talk Talk, Bob Marley, Led Zep, Hendrix, you name it)."

I don’t mean to dwell on how this record sounds verse the songs themselves but each song carries its own intoxicating balance of delicate applied with force. The guitar assault and rainy day vocals of The Doves (Check out "Widescreen") intersect with the fragile paper thin layers Bjork’s production teams have mastered over her past three records (The title track "Amber" personifies this) and the end result is Clearlake perfecting the art of darkness and light.

There are times even the best studio trickery can't save a song and “You Can’t Have Me” and “Dreamt that You Died” are perfect examples of flat liners but the good news is the record pulls through in the end beautifully.

I can’t say lyrically speaking Clearlake will ever live happily after but triumphantly, heck yes.

This just in:

I am super stoked to learn in an email from Josephine of Love is All that she is indeed a huge fan of all the UK Riot Grrrl stuff and the bands that inspired those bands...all of which I have been posting about over the past month. Its nice to hear first hand that occasionally I actually know what I am talking about and I really thank Josephine for taking the time to let me know.

More reasons for me to love this band and.....

you really should buy their record.

What should have been a Clearlake review / Some Girls @ Nanci Raygun in RVA

It seemed innocent enough; an all ages show starting at 5pm and to be wrapped up by 10.

I was expecting to be home and writing a review by 11 but things changed when I took two blows to my eye socket from a jackass in the crowd who was half my age and wearing eyeliner. This kid literally didn't know what hit him back. I've been going to hardcore shows (which Some Girls is not) for nearly 20 years and have survived Superbowls of hardcore as well as CBGBs matinees. One lone dude trying to sadly display his hormone levels in an otherwise passive crowd wasn't about to ruin my evening.

Anyhow after taking two hits to my face I being the classy 30 something year old that I am began throwing punches back and shortly there after a small fist fight followed. Friends jumped in, chaos ensued briefly and the incident was wrapped up by an apolgy from the guy who elbowed my face at full force. That was that.

The lesson? Don't fuck with me.

I spent the rest of the night with Some Girls (friends of mine) throwing back drinks and telling myself for the thousandth time that I am getting to old for this.

The Clearlake review will follow later in the day. Pinky swear.

Deerhoof / w/ Le Ton Mite, L'Ocelle Mare, Starter Set: featuring Leg & Pants Dans Theatre, Screenings by Martha Colburn. Black Cat 1/28 DC

One thing is apparent to me. Deerhoof have reached a point of popularity just shy of where Sonic Youth was around the time of their crossover hit record Goo. Deerhoof’s audience now fills to capacity large sized venues but yet I am confused. Where did these new fans come from? I understand Deerhoof has made their most commercial sounding record to date but this isn’t something MTV is behind nor is it fueled by a commercial radio hit. Secondly, this new and not necessarily improved larger fan base (at least in DC) didn’t seem to be there for the music at all. I think they thought they were but the crowd was constantly on the move and talking. And talking. And talking. In theory a multi-media show is a fantastic change of pace but it also lends itself towards crowd chatter and not surprisingly the whole audience practically ignored the ENTIRE show.

The dance troop managed to get most of the crowd to sit for their act but it certainly did not prevent those seated from opening their mouths.

Less than half of the room seemed to give a rat’s ass that anybody was on stage at all and as a pint sized member of the crowd, I found the constant motion of my verbose surroundings frustrating as hell. I left the show about 35 minutes into Deerhoof’s set feeling dizzy and disappointed. Not in the band but the people who think they support them.

I keep daydreaming about what an aerial view of the crowd must have looked like. I imagine a babbling water flow chart depicting currents that rely on certain paths over and over again with a handful of places that remain steady and help to channel these currents.

Also I am close to naming the Black Cat as having the worst sound of any club in the city. It always takes several songs for any band to remotely sound listenable and on target. Worst of all the Black Cat likes to ignore actual and definite sound problems. Poor film maker Martha Colburn (we chatted between sets) debated showing the second round of her films because the sound line was so poor. In fact the buzzing sound of a failed connection was louder than the music in her films. We joked that maybe people would think the static sound quality was part of the art film experience but I can’t be certain as to how many people directed their attention towards the screen no less questioned the sound quality over the sound of their own voices.

I do however have two words about what I did see of Deerhoof.
Obscenely proficient.

Broadcast was played between acts and it triggered an association I had never made before. Deerhoof has evolved into a fucked up version of the old Broadcast line up. In Twin Peaks terms Broadcast is to the White Lodge what Deerhoof is to the Black Lodge. Each band has mastered opposite ends of the jazz/prog/psych/math/pop spectrum and can perform it to soundtrack quality orchestrated perfection

Other notables from this show:
*Multiple boys wearing barrettes
*Men feeling the urge to mimic Satomi’s singing.
*Will Oldham look-a-likes a go-go.
*Advanced Flamenco level clapping from the audience which almost made up for all their talking.
*Women who should be models if they aren’t already. I’ve actually noticed this at many Black Cat shows. Its as if a local modeling agency post shows at the Black Cat to check out.
*This is cruel considering portions of male population were balding backwoods mountain men, plastic duck hair accessory wearing fellers, men who may legally be old enough to call men but actually looked about 16, and or dudes who had drank too much so by the time Deerhoof took stage they were swaying like trees on a windy day... if trees smoked and held glasses of beer that they spilled when they swayed.
And finally…
Pissed offf short girls who couldn’t see a thing but don’t realize that Satomi is so tiny that she is nearly impossible to see even when performing high up on a stage at a nearly sold out show.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Love Is All / Nine Times The Same Song / Rating 8.7

"Love Is All make it work cos they know their snags-- shitty equipment, love-lyrical cliché, inevitable Life Without Buildings and Yeah Yeah Yeahs comparisons-- and speed headlong into them regardless. "

THAT'S RIGHT, I almost forgot!!! This is the band that lit the fire under my ass to revisit all of my UK Riot Grrrl records again. FYI the UKRG list is now complete and in a few days will be organized in an easier to follow / one after another alphabetical grouping.

Buy Love is All now.

The PFM review was poorly timed and ran waaay to early. This record deserves your attention NOW that it is actually for sale and readily available. I however do appreciate PFM mentioning the manufacturing delay which held up this record for several months.

Buy this record now.

I will warn you know that finding this record in the average record store may not be an easy task so mail order might be your only option.

Still buy this record now.

PFM writer Nick Sylvester described this band in ways I would not. Daftpunk? ESG? Orange Juice? Yeah Yeah Yeahs? James Chance? No. Not really. Rolling my eyes. Sure, kooky female vocals. No wave + sax. Why not use the more appropriate X-Ray Spex or in musical theory Huggy Bear who a decade later have inspired the birth of cute and lovable bear cubs.

Buy this record now.

If I had the freedom to play producer and reshape bands I like into bands I love, Love is All has done it for me.

Buy this record now.

They are the Concretes with brass knuckles.

Buy this record now.

They are Arcade Fire with the vocal duties mostly carried out by the double X chromosome. (I prefer Regine Chassagne vocals over Win Butler )

Buy this record now.

They are the Sugarcubes minus the deconstructed pop distraction of Einar.

Buy this record now.

They are a more compact Architecture in Helsinki.

Buy this record now.

If you do not like the bands I mentioned thus far:

Do not buy this record now.

30 minutes of unbelievably infectious music isn’t enough, I WANT MORE.

Buy this record now.

I 100% agree with the PFM rating of 8.7

Buy this record now.

Love is all should have more MySpace friends than just 600+

Be their friend now.

When Pitchfork LOVES a band I have to confess, 7 times out of 10 I tend to totally agree.

But this record now.

I don’t really know the actual ratio of PFM favorite bands I also support and I really don’t like CYHSY but I agree with most of the other PFM major favorite and I suppose this is the thing that makes them the powerhouse that they are.

Buy this record now.

See, TFM likes PFM.

And loves Love is All.

Low feeling low

I’m often disappointed with the interviews found on PFM but this Low / Alan Sparhawk interview is rather astounding. The timing of the piece also could ‘t be more poignant as it discusses in great personal detail both mental health and religion (even Buddha Machine!); issues that have come up as of late on PFM and in turn TFM.

My favorite part of the interview:

Pitchfork: What do kids love?
Sparhawk: They love microphones. They like flashlights and they like microphones.
Pitchfork: Is it one of those toy microphones that make sound effects or an actual microphone you've taken from the studio?
Sparhawk: No, I actually like taking a mic and plugging it into an amp and giving it to a kid to see what they do, cause they flip out. They're way more in touch with their voices than we give them credit for. And if you give them something weird like loops and, I don't know, pretty soon you've got a --
Pitchfork: You've got a musical kid after a while.
Sparhawk: Well, it sounds a little bit like Gang Gang Dance. But she's doing it; she likes it.
Pitchfork: Does she like Gang Gang Dance? Do you play that in the house?
Sparhawk: No, Hollis is more of a Green Day fan.
Pitchfork: I can see that. She probably hears Gang Gang Dance and thinks, "I can do that," and she turns it off.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

From the office of Alex Vermitsky: Staff Intern

Dear Managing Editors,

And I use the term managing editors because I am, admittedly, a lowly intern whose one and only attempt to inquire about the identities of the powers that be here at TFM resulted in my exile to an empty white room where I was forced to endure a work day’s worth of Reel Big Fish’s new album played on what seemed like infinite repeat. So seeing as that I still have a long way to go to make up for past transgressions I was "commissioned" (or better put: reminded of the extensive Offspring back catalogue) into composing this letter on behalf of the rest of the TFM staff.

First let me say that working here at TFM is a blast! Sure I don’t get paid any money, and the recently implemented "cover charge" I’ve had to cough up at the front door can be frustrating, but how many people can say they’ve been granted the opportunity to carry box after box of Pitcperfect's nearly endless out of print record collection? Not many, I’d have to guess. So, yeah I suppose the guys here get a little rowdy and have fun at my expense sometimes (especially funny example: One of the staff members here told me my father was dead in a car accident, and when I made the frantic phone call to his place of work and found out that he wasn’t dead but simply "out to lunch" the other staff members laughed, and told me it was all in good fun and that it was my mother who was dead not my father. Those guys!)

But I’m sure you have better things to do with your time than listen to me go on about the great folks here at TFM. My real reason for writing is to the express my beloved co-worker's concern about our newest staff writer. When I questioned the guys decision to leave such an important communiquĂ© up to a lowly intern such as my self, I was told that I was the least likely to be "taken care of" since no one knew who I was anyway, and the fabled Tuningfork "problem solver" had only three bullets left and two were already reserved for Har-Mar Superstar on the off chance anyone allows him to record another LP. When I inquired as to why two bullets were necessary I was told that most here at Tuningfork were pacifists by nature, and there was a high probability the first shot would miss a vital organ.

No matter, there are more important things at hand than my own personal safety and I take this task upon my self with the utmost pride and dedication for my work.Please note: the intent of this letter is not to give you an overview of the day to day operations here at TFM nor is it to demonstrate the valuable input us interns ultimately contribute to the process. Like I said, the staff is generally concerned about our new colleague, and even though most of us have warmed up to the silly idiosyncrasies of Mr. Jon Bon Jovi, many of us simply cannot get past his effect on the overall atmosphere of our humble workplace. Now I understand that Mr. Bon Jovi or J-Rock (as he has asked us to call him for short) is a close relation to one of the unnamed higher-ups of our prestigious organization, so any negative comments attributed to his character have less to do with J-Rock’s personality (we have grown accustomed to his "Keep the Faith" pick me ups during deadline time and his "I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead" work ethic) and more to do with his overall influence on some of our writers here at "Team Tuningfork". A good example would be staff writer Thelonius Q Twittlebottom's piece entitled Adventures in Indie Rock: Issue 2 which reads, "The Frenchman looked back and forth at them as if he had encountered a rabid bear. Syd saw his confusion and held out his hand in a friendly gesture. "I am Syd," he said still holding his hand out. "And this is Timothy." The Frenchman took his hand hesitantly and they shook."

The first draft we received was slightly different in that it expressed Mr. Twittlebottom's desire to: "Lay you (The Frenchman) down on a bed of roses, and to be just as close as the Holy Ghost is," when said "laying down" commences. Now, like I said, we are a tolerant, caring, group of co-workers but even our trust has its limits, And when one considers the kind of talent and grace Mr. Twittlebottom has brought to his work thus far, it doesn't seem like a stretch to believe that Mr. Bon Jovi has, in one way or another, charmed the secretaries here into "lending" him a passcode or two. When we approached J-Rock about these troubling developments he implored us to "Stick to Our Guns" and "Blame it on the Love of Rock and Roll". Not really knowing what to make of any of this, we retired to our cubicles and decided it was time for Plan B.

"Plan B" as it turns out, was for me to compose this letter airing our grievances and stating, in no uncertain terms, that these are the concerns of each and every employee here, unless of course Mr Bon Jovi is the close relative of anyone who ultimately holds the power to hire and more importantly fire fellow staff members. If this is the case I am instructed to inform you that this whole "ridiculous" laundry list of complaints was solely my idea, and that I often drink at work, and that no one will be the wiser if I suddenly do not show up at my desk tomorrow.

So, essentially the ball is in your court. We do like Mr. Bon Jovi as a person, and we find his reminder to "Have a Nice Day" at the end of a long shift to be both inspiring and insightful. That said, workplace solidarity must be a top priority. We hope you agree

Sincerely,

Alex Vermitsky (Intern)

Uk Riot Grrrl and Friends : Bis : The list is now complete!!!

Band: Bis
Where: Scotland
When: 1994- 2003
Members: Steven, Manda, John, Graham joined for live shows later
History: Check their band site

More about the band: from Allmusic:
“Taking inspiration from the amateurish antics of Huggy Bear and then acting like they were seven years old, the Bis were one of the strangest phenomenons of late '90s British indie-rock. Aggressively primitative and defiantly childish, the Bis claimed to be at the forefront of "the Teen-C Revolution," which apparently translated as young adults wishing they were still in elementary school. Inspired by the Nation of Ulysses, Huggy Bear, Blur and the "cutie" indie movement of Sarah Recrods, the group crossed D.I.Y. aesthetics with the incessant bounce of New Wave dance pop. Bursting out from nowhere in early 1996, the Bis became the first unsigned band to appear on Top of the Pops, and over the first six months they became a sensation within the British music press. But just as quickly as they rose to prominence the backlash began, and by the end of the year, only a handful of supporters remained in the UK. However, the Bis had won fans in the Beastie Boys, who signed them to Grand Royal Records, positioning the band to join the ranks of the international pop underground, where the message was just, if not more, important than the music.”

Why I put them on the list: I associate Bis with coming into the picture a little after the initial Riot Grrrl explosion. More than anything I think early on in their musical careers RG was a huge influence but they moved onto electro-pop beat heavy dance music.

Fun Fact: The theme music to the Powerpuff Girls cartoon is Bis!

Discography: is absolutely massive. Go the band site listed above and click on output.

Uk Riot Grrrl and Friends :Bette Davis & the BalconettesBand: Bette Davis & the Balconettes

Band: Bette Davis & the Balconettes
Where: UK
When: 1996-1998
Members: I am ashamed to say I don’t have their records and in turn have don’t have liner notes to work from. I can’t find anything on line either so if you know who the members are, please post it!

History: Taken From Damaged Goods
“From Manchester they burst onto the scene in late 1996 with their first single Paul Power T-shirt on Baby Boom records, Melody Maker gave it Single of the Week and Everett True called them ‘the coolest boy grrl punk band in the world’. John Peel loved them too playing all their stuff over and over again.”

Why did I include them in my list: I’ll confess, this band escaped me in the 90’s and it wasn’t until I began researching my UK Riot Grrrl list of bands and records did I stumble across their name over and over again as being one of the best bands in the general RG genre. Having a record on Slampt gives them the final Riot Grrrl related stamp of approval and their link to Damage Goods connects them to Thee Headcoatees.

Sounds like: Also from the DG site.
“Ace single from Mancunion fuzzy scuzzy female shouty bunch. This record magnificently merges the groove of a lo-fi surf instrumental with the raw energy of their punky tribal cacophony.”

Discography:
Surf Surf Kill Kill 7” Damaged Goods
Shergar 7” Damaged Goods
Paul Power T-Shirt 7" Baby Boom
Celebrity Fuckers 7" Slampt
I Wanna Be Your Moog 7" Baby Boom
Va /Damaged Goods Cheap Sampler Cd
Va /Taking Chances on Chances Slampt / TMU
Va / Brighton Crawl 7" Melting Vinyl

Uk Riot Grrrl and Friends : Comet Gain

Band: Comet Gain
Where: UK
When: 1993-!997 – David continued band using the same name and this new line up is still active. The other member went on to form Velocette.
Members: Quite a list!
More info on their MySpace page.
Listen to them: Click on quite a list.

Why did I include them in this list: They are undoubtedly one of the founding / more well known bands of the whole UK Riot Grrrl scene and it doen’t hut that Kathleen Hanna makes a vocal gust appearance on Realistes.

Stlye: Goodness there are a lof of influences packed in there: Mod + 60’s girl groups = R&B/Soul/Pop with a touch of sass. Throw in other bands of the day from Huggy Bear to Heavenly and you have at the very least a starting point.

Pitchfork writers are not huge fans:
Comet Gain: City Fallen Leaves[Kill Rock Stars; 2005] Rating: 5.9 - Review by: Sam Ubl
Comet Gain: Realistes[Kill Rock Stars; 2002] Rating: 6.9 - Review by: Eric Carr
Comet Gain: Tigertown Pictures[Kill Rock Stars] Rating: 4.8 - Review by: Zach Hooker

TOUR DATES
March 2006
16 - Austin, TX @ Flamingo Cantina w/ Wooden Wand, Spider and the Webs, Knife Skills, Imaad Wasif (noon - six party)
20 - Gainesville, FL @ Common Grounds w/ The Gossip
21 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn w/ The Gossip
22 - Greensboro, NC @ TBA w/ The Gossip
23 - Washington DC @ Black Cat w/ The Gossip
24 - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church w/ The Gossip, Mates of State
25 - New York, NY @ Cakeshop w/ Partyline, Cortina, Shellshag, Direct From Hollywood Cemetary
26 - Cambridge, MA @ Middle East w/ The Gossip
27 - Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse w/ The Gossip
28 - TBA 29 - TBA 30 - Chicago, IL @ Abbey Pub w/ The Gossip
April 2006
01 - Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club w/ The Gossip
02 - Fargo, ND @ Aquarium w/ The Gossip


Discography: Too long to list here.

Uk Riot Grrrl and Friends : Thee Headcoatees / The Demonas

Band: Thee Headcoatees / The Delmonas
Where: UK
When: 1991- 2000
Members:
Kyra Rubella
Holly Golightly
Ludella Black
Bongo Debbie
All the ladies went on to record solo projects or play in new bands.
Semi-Official Members:
Billy Childish: guitar
Johnny 'Tub' Johnson: bass
Bruce Brand: drums

Listen them here.

History: “The distaff garage band Thee Headcoatees was one of the innumerable projects spawned by the one-man cottage industry Billy Childish as a vehicle for his inexhaustible catalog of songs. Originally dubbed the Delmonas, the girl group was created as a sister band for Childish's band the Milkshakes, serving similar duty as a counterpoint to his subsequent project Thee Headcoats.”

Why did I include them in my list? Thee Headcoatees fall under the friends of Riot Grrrl category. I think it’s important to remember this simple formula: a woman in the 90’s making music with attitude doesn’t automatically make them a Riot Grrrl band. It sounds stupid but this was a common misconception of the day still carried into this decade. This is a sticking point with me as I very much fell under this category too and resented every interview or article on my old band that assumed I was Riot Grrrl because I was in that general age group and occasionally yelled. Secondly I think age is a huge factor with Riot Grrrl and The Headcoatees were a little older than the A-typical RG and in turn had influences , friends, and other garage flavored bands creating a totally separate, more adult music scene. Lastly I think Riot Grrrl bands looked up to Thee Headcoatees and in sense heavily influenced many of the key UK Riot Grrrl players.

Sounds like: If Thee Headcoats were women / garage-rock with attitude to the core.

Discography: The size of it almost rivals Billy Childish himself and is too large to list here. Check this link instead. http://www.theebillychildish.com/headcoat.htm The record collector complete-ist in me gave up on buying records by this band by the mid 90’s because it was simply impossible and too expensive to keep up.

Uk Riot Grrrl and Friends : Huggy Bear / Phanton Pregnancies / Blood Sausage / Element of Crime







Band: Huggy Bear / Phantom Pregnancies / Blood Sausage / Element Of Crime

Where: UK

When: 1991 – 94 ( HB years)

Members:
Chris Rawley (Thee Element of Crime)Jo Johnson (Blood Sausage, Thee Element of Crime)Jon Slade (Almost Ringo, Comet Gain, ex-I'm Being Good, Mast, Small Things)Karen (Phantom Pregnancies)Niki (Blood Sausage)

Huggy Bear history: Wiiiji has the most incredibly detailed history of the band here.

Phantom Pregnancies: From the Troublman site
“A true cult band from England. Rumor has it they would crash other people's shows, set up between bands, and play one of their 5 minute sets. Free of the hot trends of the minute, they mix a raw garage/trashy sound with lo-fi, but dancy rhythms. Phantom Pregnancies includes members of Huggy Bear, Wat Tyler, Eggplant and Mambo Taxi.” All of the recordings I have heard are blazing VERY lo-fi recorded garage punk.

Blood Sausage: I think were active when Huggy Bear was still in full swing and featured Niki and Jo from HB. Blood Sausage was a more straight forward less agitated version of Huggy Bear. Modern Lovers meets Thee Headcoats.

Element Of Crime: Chris and Jo of HB w/ Dale of Blood Sausage. I don’t know much more about the band, I think a member of Linus was also in the group (???) and of all the off-shoot bands they remind me the most of Huggy Bear.


Why I picked this band / These bands: I couldn’t possibly make a list of UK Riot Grrrl bands and not include the best of the best of the bunch : HUGGY BEAR. They are a favorite among fans of this genre and personally speaking they inspired me 100x more than Bikini Kill. The guitar playing in Huggy Bear harkens back to a sound Gravity records made famous.

I had the honor of playing a house show with Huggy Bear in the 93’ I think but I have to say live they were terrible. All band have bad shows so I just chalked it up to a bad night. Regardless Huggy Bear remains at legend status with me.

Discography: Huggy Bear
KRS/5RC Releases

KRS206 Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah / Our Trou LP
KRS214 Taking the Rough with the Smooch 10"/CD/CS
KRS236 Weaponry Listens to Love CD/LP
KRS/5RC Compilations
KRS207 Stars Kill Rock CD/LP
Other Discography
WIJ 23 Don't Die 7"
TROUBLE001 Her Jazz 7"
WIJ 18 Kiss Curl For The Kid's Lib Guerrillas 7"
WIJ16 Rubbing The Impossible To Burst 7"
Long Distance Lovers EP (Gravity)
Main Squeeze CD EP (Fellaheen)
Shimmies in the Super 8 Compilation 7"x2 (Duophonic


Phantom Pregnancies
Bostic Surgery 7" (Incognito, Germany)
Rent Boy Assassin split 7" (Damaged Goods, UK)
Mr. Hanson (Beck)/J Church 3-Way split 7" (Honey Bear, only 100 made)
One-Sided Live 7" (came with a zine, UK)
Special Child 7" (Troubleman Unlimited, USA)
Assassination City LP (Damaged Goods, UK)
Cinnamon Imperials/Phantom Pregnancies split 7" (Honey Bear, USA)
The Garage Fell On My Foot compilation LP (Damaged Goods, UK)
Cheap Sampler comp CD (PP do 1 min. of silence) (Damaged Goods, UK)
I Gave You My Heart For Christmas... Comp 7" (DamGoods)
Compilation 7" with Helen Love and others (?)
The Compilation That Coulda Been A Contender LP (Dim Mak, USA 2003)

Blood Sausage:
Touching You In Ways... 7" (Wiiija)
Dennis Lavant 7" (K)
Happy Little Bullshit Boy 10" EP (Wiiija)
Huggy Nation cassette compilation


Element Of Crime
The Things You Do For Love 7" (Soul Static Sound)

If I skipped anything important please feel free to add. There is so much information attached to the Huggy Bear family tree that I am certain I am forgetting or missing something.

Uk Riot Grrrl and Friends : Golden Starlet / International Strike Force






















Band: Golden Starlet / International Strike Force
Where: UK
When: Early to mid 90s
Members: Golden Starlet thru the years
Rachel ( Also in Pussycat trash)
Sarah - Guitar
Janet Planet – Bass / Vocals
Nikki P – Drums
Wes - drums
Ms C – Guitar / Voice (also in Pussycat Trash)
Cheryl - drums
Nathan Rockstar - drums?

International Strike Force
Blackberry – bass/vox/drums
Tracy – Drums
Ms. C – Vox
Sarah – Guitar /vox
Pete – Castanets
Richie - Vocals

Why did I pick this band: Their packaging, their music, their lyrics, the labels they were on, the Riot Grrrl comp records they had tracks on, and the bands they played with.

Sounds like: ", the classic SLAMPT sound if there ever was one (if there ever is one!) This collection puts together both of their classic singles andtheir demo tape. Imagine SHOP-ASSISTANTS-style tribal drumming pushing alongcrazed female vocals and wall of noise punk guitar. Sorta likea more extreme HUGGY BEAR, with very clever (often ironic, never self-aware or at least never admitting it) lyrics"


Discography: I don't think this is terribly complete but it is close. Feel free to post any additional records I may have missed.

Golden Starlet
Token Gadgy 26 song LP + comic
Hot Stuff 7”
Va / Elastic Jet Mission - Slampt
Va / Scandalized, Traumatized, Baptized - Paroxysm Records
Va / Seven Unlucky Sevens - Slampt
Va / Astral Angora - Nana

International Strike Force
Treat Yourself 7" - Slampt
Soeur 7" - Slampt
Love Is - LP/CD? - Slampt
Radio Finland 7" - label?
Va - Coffee Coffee 7" - label?
Black Cat #13 split 7" - Proic
Va / Taking a Chance on Chances - Slampt / TMU cd

Friday, January 27, 2006

What all awesomely cool people do on a Friday night:

Work on their taxes.

White hot, I know.

Looking over my spending habits for 2005 in my daily planner it was only then did I realize how much great music I managed to see and most of which required a two hour drive each way.

I suddenly feel like I owe my car a big thank you and a relaxing day at auto-spa. (shhh... that is code for a tune up.)

This list is not 100% complete but its a pretty darn good look at how I spent 2005.

Diverse, Jean Grae, Hidden Hand, Delegate, Kings of Convenience, Mecury Rev, Black Dahlia Murder, Mark Kozelek, Avail, Lucero, Lock & Key, The Comas, Vietnam, The Panthers, Calvin Johnson, Menomena, Interpol, Golden Republic, 22-20s, Blood Thirsty Lovers, G. Coxen, Bloc Party, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, M83, Ulrich Schnauss, Now Sleepyhead, Paint it Black, Animal Collective, Death From Above, Q and not U, Isis, Josh Small, Caribou, Cult of Luna, Khanate, Mastadon, Alabama Thunder Pussy, Growing, Sunno))), Phoenix, Mice Parade, Boom Bip, Built To Spill, Blonde Redhead, The Double, Big Business, Zombi, Red Sparows, Teddy Leo, Futureheads, Eye Hate God, Maximo Park, M. Timony, Medications, Radio 4, Japanther, Caesars, Joel Phelps, Ris Paul Ric, Holly Golightly, Toshack Highway, Narrator, Cloud Room, Cave In, Doomriders, Torche, Architecture in Helsinki, Life and Times, Four Tet, Dungen, Mia Do Todd, Gravenhurst, Wolf Eyes, USA is A Monster, Kites, Octopus Project, Gang of Four, Doves, Trail of the Dead, Warlocks, New Pornographers, CYHSY, Confessor, Death Cab, Stars, Fascist Fascist, Partyline, Broken Social Scene, Broadcast, Akron/Family, Converge, and Municipal Waste.

Thank you 2005.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bonnie Prince Billy and Tortoise / The Brave and the Bold/ Rating 5.4

Ultimately, The Brave and the Bold is a collection of not-particularly-compelling cover songs, rolled out by two of contemporary indie's most uncompromising and rewarding forces. Or, in short: We all really wish this was better-- less tiring, less dour, less sluggish-- than it actually is.


Dear Overcoat Recordings,

In this modern age of htttp:// WWW. a good label website is as important as ever. In an attempt to research one of your newest releases (and certainly a high profile release) I am surprised to see no mention of the Tortoise / Bonnie Prince Billy collaboration on your label website at all.

In fact it looks you haven’t updated your site in FOREVER. The Calexico / Iron and Wine split was released by you as well, wasn’t it? I can’t find that title on your site either. Please don’t tell me you have become one of those MySpace page only labels. Hang on….I can answer that question myself right now… nope you don’t appear to be there either.

Hello??? Anybody home????

I have searched the Touch and Go page as well as Drag City's and Thrill Jockey's just in case there is a connection with one of these fine labels and all I found was next to nada zip zero. I understand Domino released this for you in the UK but their webpage doesn’t tell me much about this project either. In fact their on-line description of the record is one sentence.

“Will Oldham teams up with Tortoise, the acclaimed Chicago post-rock/neo-Kraut rock collective and the result is this beautiful collection of 10 cover songs.”

I did however find endless information and updates regarding this Artic Monkeys band. Deja- Franz.

The next logical place I searched for information on your newest Overcoat release was each band’s websites and if I may speak from the heart here, the Bonnie Prince Billy site scares me a little but I feel that way about the artist as well. The crazed mountain-man vibe terrifies the person who has never gone camping in me and I find it hard to imagine Will Oldham at a computer at all. Any-hoo…I can’t find mention of this release on his site and the Tortoise site provided me with this so little its hardly there blurb:

"Tortoise will be releasing a collaborative LP with Will Oldham on Overcoat Recordings, scheduled for release on October 11, 2005. The album consists of 10 cover tunes, ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Lungfish. You can check out this piece about it from the Chicago Reader."

There is not a more recent update about this record on the Tortoise site and to further the confusion the street date was actually bumped to 1/24/06 so this above tagline isn’t even correct.

I want to trust the press, read reviews of this record and feel satisfied with the information being spooned to me but truthfully I am one of those people who like to read facts from the band and or label as well. There is something very Twilight Zone about researching a collaborative record between two big name indie artists / 7 very talented people and finding next to nothing but music journalists taking a hack at it.

In fact the best background story I found thus far was this:

“The idea for The Brave and the Bold was first brought to life by a simple request by Howard Greynolds (owner of Overcoat Recordings and the same panderer who put Calexico and Iron & Wine in bed together) for Oldham to record his then live coverings of Springsteen's "Thunder Road." What started out with the intentions of being a seven-inch single - with "Thunder Road" as the A-side and a cover of Elton John's "Daniel" as the flipside - quickly spun into a full-fledged project. Sessions were booked, deals where done and eight more songs were carefully selected to fully embody the concept.”

And Pitchfork reported this as a news story last fall:

"Initially concieved as a half-joke between Overcoat Recordings owner Howard Greynolds and Oldham, the record has ballooned into a full-on but unnamed collaboration, featuring 10 cuts from artists as disparate as Elton John and Lungfish."

I was hoping to find reviews of the record that would further educate me but thus far they haven't been terribly kind and it appears an entire album of covers has been met with the same kind of enthusiasm reserved for live records, myself included.

While the music peeked my curiosity enough to buy it the day it came out, the musi-holic in me still has a million questions like to know how this particular track listing came to be. I don’t think anyone could have predicted a Lungfish cover no less back to back with Elton (yuck) John. Did each band member pick a song? Were titles thrown into a hat? Was there a show of hands? Do you wonder how manypeople buying this record without reading any press will even now this is a covers album? And lastly whose idea was it to produce an entire record that sounds like I have cat hair collected on my record needle????

Ohhhh ohhh ohhh .....I don’t want to forget to ask about the cover art by Native American printmaker Woody Crumbo either, what an incredible choice!

The maternal creature in me worries; why hasn't your label site been updated? Is everything okay? TFM hopes all is well at the Overcoat Recordings camp and the people who make this label go are just so busy with wonderfully terrific good fortune that updating their site business can wait. I know you must love music in order to run a label in the first place so I do appreciate your efforts in keeping quality music alive.

Your friends in rock,
TFM

For those who are curious here is the exact track listing and OG artist.

1. Cravo e Canela - Milton Nascimento
2. Thunder Road - Springsteen
3. It's Expected I'm Gone - Minutemen
4. Daniel – Elton John/Bernie Taupin
5. Love Is Love - Lungfish
6. Pancho – Don Williams
7. That's Pep! - Devo
8. Some Say (I Got Devil) - Melanie
9. Cavalry Cross – Richard Thompson
10. On My Own - Quix*O*Tic

I love the Lungfish and Melanie cover, "Cravo e Canela" is delightful, but the idea of this recording project far more inspires me than the music itself. Reardless I still can't give this a rating as low as PFM's, I say 7.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

volcano!/Beautiful Seizure/7.4

Even if With shows indulgence in the lyrics (or by reprinting them in fucking IPA on the band's Web site), it's forgiven and forgotten after hearing how sharp Volcano! are as a trio, yanking With up from "$40,000" by the scruff of his neck and tossing him into the marching chaos of "Red and White Bells", anchoring "Apple and a Gun" with an infectious two-chord stomp, and elevating the leaden title of "Pulling My Face In and Out of Distortion, I Blink Too Much" with a woozy horn section, almost inaudible above the arresting wreck of the finale.

We like Jason Crock here at TFM. Really, we do. But he needs to stop eating cheetos while writing reviews. A 98 word sentence tells me that his period "." key is stuck. Some of that canned air stuff should blow those crumbs out, lickety-split.

Otherwise, I am glad to see volcano! getting covered at PFM even on a week full of other releases. volcano! (yes, the first letter is deliberately lower case) released this debut back on early November. However, they've just been released in the UK on iTunes this week, so I guess there is some timing to this. They won't be on CD in the UK until late February. The record has stayed out of the usual buzz, though it's picked up tidbits of coverage here and there. Nonetheless, this record deserves more attention and I'm hoping that a review on PFM is a good start.

Crock's review gives you a decent idea of the record, but it's a tad rushed for an album this rich. (Jason, are you regularly eating and writing? Do we need to talk about work/life balance?) The longer, more song oriented tracks - Fire Fire, 40,000 Plus Interest, and Red and White Bells - are definitely the highlights of the record. However, the track that draws my thumb to the "skip back" button is Apple or a Gun. The track starts slowly then quickly peaks into frantic drumming accompanied by guitar and keyboards. The track then proceeds along its straight ahead, nearly danceable drum line, with explosions of guitar skronk, hyperkinetic strumming, and keyboard noise. That track (which is on volcano!'s myspace page) represents the quality they can reach throughout the record.

As for PFM's review, I just have a couple of things to add -
  • Yes, the band's lyrics are in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). However, I found that if you listen to the songs and read the pages, you can actually understand the writing. It's a weird effect, but I actually felt like the songs were decoding the alphabet for me. And no, I haven't ingested anything more mind-altering than coffee today.

  • Crock uses the phrase "shredding the strings of his guitar" in the volcano! review. Ubl uses "riff" and "licks". Are there old copies of Guitar Player laying around the PFM office?

While I appreciate how positive the PFM review is, I would rate this record in the low 8's. volcano! manages to pull off avant-guarde indie rock as well as Animal Collective and better than Broken Social Scene. Better still, they manage to do it with just three members and very little multi-tracking. The record may not be for everyone - they do change moods and styles throughout the album. However, if you're willing to stretch your ears, Beautiful Seizure is a great listen.

Hurry up and wait.

Topic 1. Artic Monkeys

The Artic Monkeys cd PFM reviewed today doesn’t come out until Feb 21 in the US.

Topic 2 : Cloud Room

I knew the PFM story using Cloud Room as an example in "The Smash that Wasn't" would turn out to be a promotional tool for the band, I just wasn’t certain to what degree.

No shocker to anybody: It turns out press is press is press.

Looking at Sound Scan numbers this week verse last week Cloud Room’s full length sales rocketed up 64 % while the digital sale of their most popular song “Hey Now Now” jumped up a whopping 187% .

Plastic Constellations / Crusades / Rating: 7.8

"Crusades corrects some of Mazatlan's most compelling failings, like its done-on-the-cheap warmth or its penchant for sloppy genre-hopping."

And in one corner is Sam Ubl weighing in on Plastic Constellations and in the opposing corner is.... oh, Sam Ubl again. I love the consistency of having the same PFM writer over time review a band’s catalog as it grows but at the same time it’s interesting when a writer seemingly ignores their earlier judgment and previous ratings. It isn't exactly shadowboxing but here is a ring side look at the Sam- V -Sam anyhow.

-Sam Ubl, January 25, 2006 ( The modern Sam)

PFM says: "Here's a band that lives and dies by anthemic riffs, yet understands perfectly the hollowness of their gestures. Even (or especially) Crusades' best licks have difficulty connecting with their rank-and-file underpinnings."

"Riff" and "lick" used in the same paragraph makes me feel icky on the inside but personal issues with word associations aside, I began to wonder what Sam thought about PC’s style and influences in his initial review of the band. If Crusades corrects their first record’s "most compelling failings" why did the old record out rate the new one?


The Plastic ConstellationsMazatlan[2024; 2004]Rating: 8.5

Sam Ubl, June 29th, 2004 (A younger Sam)

PFM says: “Mazatlan runs the gamut of post-punk influences, from elder heroes Sonic Youth and Fugazi to latter-day stars like Les Savy Fav and Slint. But what makes these songs truly intriguing is The Plastic Constellations' eager exploration of odd tunings and contrasting, often atonal guitar harmonies.”

And

“In fact, The Plastic Constellations make a valiant effort to resurrect that sadly neglected element of effective, sophisticated pop music, bearing a bucketful of robust enjoinders.”

Rereading Sam’s first review I get the idea that Mazatlan bordered on some kind of greatness. There is nary a shortcoming in site according this first review.

Check out this glowing bit:
PFM says: "The Plastic Constellations aren't merely a strong outfit for their respective niche, but a mature, well-coordinated group that show great talent and even greater potential. The songs on Mazatlan resemble something conceptualized in a budding musician's hotwired brain-- virtuosity and communication between musicians being, naturally, no object-- but which so rarely get penned for the intensive and fleeting nature of the young imagination. Remarkably, the record is impressively cohesive, despite a couple questionable instances of quasi-rapping ("Movement Momentum", "Vicious Devotion") and a feeling of persistent breathlessness from the breakneck tempos."

Sam IS right about the vocal timing bordering on “quasi-rap” but my ears translate this into early Avail and now I can’t get Avail’s “Connection” out of my head.

“No one turned your rally of peace into a, into a…”

This classic hardcore vocal technique is incredibly dressed up in a crisp pop uniform by Plastic Constellations and the more I listen to Crusades the more I also hear something more akin to
melody savvy Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters. Come to think of it with Rye Coalition having been recently produced by Grohl, PC sound like the new less-emo more ROCK Rye if singer Ralph C. could carry a tune. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Rye but Ralph has his vocal limitations.)


Modern day Sam says:

“But conviction and technical certainty enable Plastic Constellations to play off, as a kind of no-regrets transient indulgence, the chiffon rapture of even their most blustery lines”

I wanted to include this Sam line because it sure reads pretty. It doesn’t mean anything to my brain at all but it satisfies the girl in me who loves pure silk and Winnie the Pooh. I will forever associate the word blustery with AA Milne stories of Christopher Robin and his stuffed friends.

Back to Modern Sam:

“Anyway, rarely do albums come this taut anymore-- 35 minutes, no acoustic pussyfooting or tortoise-tempo sensitive moments.”

It may be "taut" but whatever Crusades corrects from Mazatlan isn’t enough to earn the band a higher rating.

I don’t hear a magnificent shift in the bands playing style at all. I hear a logical progression that will neither shock or offend, a movin’ on up deluxe apartment in the sky production value improvement , but still a band who makes me want to play my old Avail records rather than listen to their 2000 something brand of an age old rock formula.

Plastic Constellations do it...ROCK! that is decidedly well but they rate at slightly above average 7. 5 to this old fan of Dixie.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tuesday January 24th, so many new records to buy, so little money.

Hello hello,

Some days I'm just not feeling it. I don't feel particulary reactionary to any of the reviews up on PFM today so I don't intend on trying to post a volley review if I don't really have something to say. If a reader feels otherwise feel free to leave your own meta-review in the comments section.

To make up for this scarf of "eh" wrapped around my head I will be giving away an Acid Mothers Temple and the Cosmic Inferno cd. It isn't the same one up for review pn PFM today but if you want the one on Alien8 Recordings called " Starless and Bible Black Sabbath it is yours for the taking. Just one note, it is a promo with no art.

Bright Eyes and or a member of's name was used FOUR times in the PFM review section today. If you can tell me where these BE bombs were dropped you can have the Acid Mother cd. The first person to post the answer in the comment section wins and then email me your address at tuningforkmedia@hotmail.com .

WE HAVE A WINNER!

In other news it is a darn big day for new releases. I will be wandering the floor of my local record store on lunch break looking for all that is new, affordable, and ideally on vinyl. I've also been blessed with some great advances/new releases and what I am digging thus far is: Clearlake, The Ladies (Rob Crow and Zach Hill), Film School, Liars, Loose Fur, Tuung, The new Built To Spill song on their MySpace page, The new Rahim track that is on their band page, Jason Collett, (The Sounds Of) Kaleidoscope, and The Long Blondes 7"Seperated By Motorways.

Not sure how I feel about the new Mudhoney yet.

Your pal,
Pitchperfect

Monday, January 23, 2006

Uk Riot Grrrl and Friends : Kenickie

Band : Kenickie

From : UK

When : 1994- 1998

Members : Marie Du Santiago – vocals / guitar
Lauren Laverne – vocals / guitars
Emmy-Kate - Bass
Peter Gofton AKA Johnny X – Drums

Discography

History: Named after the character 'Kenickie' from the musical 'Grease', these high school friends formed a band that turned down a Creation records offer to instead sign with Slampt and years later were one of the only bands in this scene to jump to a major label. Their major label move equated to the loss of much of their original following who at the time were very pro DIY and not supportive of the prototypical concept of selling out.

More band history is available here.

Why I picked this Kenickie: While the music from their major years reflect a more studio savvy mature rock / pop band (Elastica minus Wire) their first two singles remain some of my favorite Grrrl related records of all time. Do yourself a favor and find either the Catsuit City 7” single or the Come Out 2 Nite 7” record.

Style: Trashy, meldodic, the right balanace of heavy and delicate, charming pop with a knife behind its back... they knew how to play their intruments and write songs that John Peel loved for a reason. Listening to these records now I can imagine the Donnas would sound like this this had they liked Blondie more than the Ramones.

Cat Power / The Greatest / Rating 7.9

"These soul legends have played with Al Green, Booker T. and the MG's, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young, and more; in other words, they don't seem like the kind of people who would put up with tortured diva bullshit from some no-name white girl on Matador Records."

A LOT OF CHEMICALLY CHALLENGED PEOPLE MAKE ART.

Is this really a news flash?

We paint, dance, write, make music…you know what I am talking about… ART. Art is or can be a place to pull emotional splinters out, vent, blood let, release demons, and work through things that are too difficult to easily put into words and talk about otherwise.

For others making art just happens. Art isn’t a choice, it’s something the body does like breathing or requiring food. Art can be a natural function of the body and the person carrying this trait is more like a possessed host than just a creative spirit looking for something to do or get famous from.

For many of us it is a combination of both.

I am Pitchperfect and I am bipolar II and that hopefully is the least interesting part of who I am or the art I make. I don't want to speak for anyone else but I am pretty sure I am not the only creative chemically challenged person who feels this way.

PFM dwelling on Chan’s mental state for over three paragraphs is an insult to the artist and the reader. There are lots of books on this subject (creativity + mental illness), lots of information can be found on line but if I want a psychology report I would read medical journals, not Pitchfork. Also treating a human being who struggles with balancing their emotions like a circus side show is actually sick. Half baked theories spotlighting mental illness does not make for a great music review besides the fact that PFM already wrote one piece on this issue bordering on slander called Separating the Stefs from the Sloths.

TFM also weighed in on the subject on 11/2/05. (scroll way down)

Now I too have spent too many paragraphs on this subject. My question is this. Is Cat Power or her publicity people putting this spin on her new record or do music journalists lack the skill and creativity to come up with a new angle or even better actually review the record and not the personal life of an artist? I can’t imagine Marshall approving this angle as a selling point of her art.

Reading through this Cat Power PFM review there is no way the words of the review match the rating, and I wonder if the 7.9 is actually applauding Chan Marshall getting her “shit together” and not her music at all.

Here is another age-old issue with us TFM types, why does Pitchfork hate old people? (Get it, age old? Hahahahaha.) It’s about time old people got what was coming to them. We have to wait until they die to score their vintage threads, records, and furniture. They take too long to chew their food AND they get a discount at the movie theaters when the rest of us vital types don’t.

Fucking old people.

Pfm says: “Unfortunately, the middle chunk of The Greatest just feels old. It's beyond "adult": These songs seem musty and out-dated, like stuff my grandparents would have danced to during The War. "Could We", "Empty Shell", "Islands", and "After It All" are all finger snaps and jazz hands, Marshall twirling her umbrella in the park as Fred Astaire woos her with clicked heels and a top hat.”

There is a hint of Moon River (Henry Mancini) in the title track's strings but 99.7% of the rest of the record sounds like legendary Memphis players left unchallenged and musically backing up the same old Cat Power we know and some of us love.

PFM writer Amy Phillips has her decades and genres confused. This isn’t a swingin’ jazzy big band record of the 20’s,30’s, or even the 40’s. Think Dusty Springfield, Otis Redding, or hell I would take Carole King before I would accept anything compared to a Ginger / Fred soundtrack. Cat Power’s “Where is my Love” leans towards “Send in the Clowns” which I am rather certain my Granny knows the words to but still this adult ballad blanketed in strings is a far cry from a WW I or II head on his shoulder dance floor favorite.

I appreciate CM’s recording concept of heading to Memphis to play with some regional greats but the core of this record is still the traditional Cat Power found on every one of her other records. Her backup band changes the undertone of her music but don’t expect an Al Green record circa 1970. This is still a Cat Power record to the highest degree and the presence of an organ and some horns doesn’t erase that. I wasn’t expecting a SOUL record in the traditional sense but I will confess “the Greatest” falls short of my personal expectations but I don’t believe its fair to under rate the record because I think it could have or should have been something else.

The Greatest is still very new to me, two days to be exact but with spectacular songs like “The Moon” and “Hate” I suspect I will warm up to this record more than I have from these initial plays.

As I stand with this record right now, I would give it a 7.5 or something around there.

Personally speaking my favorite aspect of The Greatest might be the iridescent artwork. I like shiny and my fingers are crossed that the promotional knick-knack people over at Matador make boxing glove charms just like the front cover.


Ps: What does Eddie Vedder ( or Dave or Steve for that matter) really have to do with anything? Check out this PFM quote in reference to the players on The Greatest: They're beyond professional-- they're professional's professionals. (A far cry from Steve Shelley and Dirty Three, or even Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl.) That both helps and hurts The Greatest. "

This silly PFM line should have been omitted by the second rough draft.

John Cale/Black Acetate/4.4


his work has always been so reliably eccentric and inventive that even his all-too-frequent misfires have held a certain peculiar fascination. Nevertheless, it comes as a disappointment to hear on Black Acetate how readily Cale has moved from the role of unsatisfied innovator to that of willing follower.


Local papers across the country are filling column inches with a story about today (January 23) as the worst Monday of the year. By a simple formula (1/8W + (D-d)3/8 x TQ / M x NA - QED, no?), Dr. Cliff Arnall at Cardiff University has calculated today as the year's emotional lowpoint. If 2006 had a biorhythm chart, this would be a profound trough.

Perhaps, this annual slump makes the ginormous number of new releases this week entirely necessary for us music addicts. Shaky and weak, we can shuffle into our local music emporium and immerse ourselves in new music. At the least, we'll have ample jewel case inserts to distract us from cold, precipitation and post-nasal drip over the next few days.

Today, PFM is filling up their column inches (or in a digital world, is it column pixels?) with their review of John Cale's Black Acetate - a record from back in early October. Yes, yes, we Tuningforkistas harp incessantly about timing; bear with me, I too feel the fat thumb of the season pressing down on my creativity and originality. If anything, I may be more sympathetic to Murphy and his colleagues today more than ever. Black Acetate takes a while to review - mostly, because it isn't especially good.

I mean, it's John Cale. The fact that he played on any of VU's albums makes him a colossus of Rock. And he's recently had a decent record with Hobo Sapien. So, I want to enjoy Black Acetate - but I do not. Track after track, I feel my finger twitching over the skip forward button, my brain seeking out some beam of music sunlight (or engulfing darkness). Instead, what I hear is a rainy parking lot - ordered, sprawling, damp and inanimate.

There are a couple of tracks on the record that I like - mostly for very bad reasons. "Perfect", which Murphy pans as being derivative and trite, is a forbidden pop pleasure for me. I also like hearing the word "pajamas" in a song lyric. I feel similarly about "Turn The Lights On". John Cale unabashedly rocks out on it and I have to admit that I approve. These tracks may seem undignified for someone of Cale's stature, but I have a soft spot for unabashed indulgence. Actually, unabashed indulgence is probably my own tertiary vocation. However, unabashed indulgence has been done better - in fact, I'll be expecting a modicum of it on Robert Pollard's new record.

So, Murphy's 4.4 seems like a fair rating. Could you rate the record a little higher? Sure, but I don't think John Cale would ask for that charity.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The saga continues: UK Riot Grrrl and their friends!


Sorry this has been so spread out. I have a new computer, my scanner isn't hooked up yet and I still have files related to this post in my old computer. None the less here is a little something to hold you over.

Band – Linus

(FYI: There is a new band from Honolulu with the same name as well as a metal band from Texas. Boston even has a Linus band but none of these band are Riot Grrrl related or off shoots of the original band. Not even close.)

Where – UK

When -1992 – 2005

Members :
Tammy Denitto – vocals & lyrics
Andy Roberts – guitar, vocals, keyboards, lyrics ( also played in Element of Crime)
Deb Van Der Geugten – bass, vocals, lyrics
Andy Withey – drums
Jennifer Denitto – ( Tammy’s sister ) bass, guitar, founding member and is the only member who has played every instrument in the band at least once.

They had about 10 other drummers see here.

Discography

History : Linus actually have their own website telling their history in their own words. Yay!

Why I picked this band – They played with other Riot Grrrl bands of the day, Played RG related fests, were on RG comps, and their assorted record labels put out other RG associated bands. Their early records also had awesome RG fanzine quality to their packaging.

Style - From their website: “An amalgamation of influences such as X, Buzzcocks, The Partridge Family, and Gang of Four have made our music difficult to categorise. Let's just call it 'punk-pop', shall we?”

They don't sound much like their influences but you can check them out for yourself here .

Friday, January 20, 2006

Pitchperfect: An expose

FACT 1: Pitchperfect (if that is her real name) claims to be veteran hipster, with many years experience in the trenches and a real laminated card to prove her cred.

FACT 2: Pitchperfect owns an obscene amount of records, thereby re-affirming fact 1.

FACT 3: In all my interaction with Pitchperfect both in person, via phone and over e-mail she has said all the right things to make me think she was "cool" and "hip" and occasionally "hungry" or "thirsty", but that's beside the point.

FACT 4: Pitchperfect started this here blog, surely something someone with high musical tastes wouldn't do and maintain at such a high level.

FACT 5:Pitchperfect was in a band. A good band to boot. Tons of hipster points. You can only get more if points if you punched Danzig (the guy who did that has a hall pass for life).

I present these facts to show that Pitchperfect has built a persona as one cool chiquita. Yet today that facade crumbles.

You see not a month ago did I receive a Christmas gift from Pitchperfect. See she is nice and giving. The gift in question? A 2006 daily flip calendar that recommends good music to download. So far the calendar hasn't steered me wrong.

Until today.

Today the calendar recommended "Seniorita" by Justin Timberlake.

How dare you calendar!

Does the calendar not know that when my girlfriend moved in with me I refused to let the accursed "Justified" (oh god what an awful pun of a title) into our shared living space?

Does the calendar know that the cd lives now with her 17 year old sister?

Does the calendar know that my eyes roll into the back of my head and i start to convulse whenever i see Timberlake on tv?

Does the calendar know that when i saw a picture of a shirtless tatooed Timberlake on a movie website the other day i spit oatmeal all over my computer screen?

No of course it doesn't, its just a calendar. But Pitchperfect should have known better!

So Pitchperfect...what do you have to say for yourself???

ps: I know that some hipsters will try to defend Justin Timberlake as a guilty pleasure. Well guess what? Uh uh. No. He is the creepy musical theater kid who really wanted to be Michael Jackson. He wore the glove and did the dances and everything. Not cool.

A first time for everything.

Thanks to the keen eye of Colin who posted a comment on our site earlier today it appears Tuningfork has its very first mention on Pitchfork. I could be wrong but I am rather certain this the first time we have ever made it to PFM article or review.

Honored? Surprised? A little of both? I don't think this is exactly a pass out cigars and buy the bar a round kind of moment but at the same time I seemed silly not to mention it.

Hooray !?!

On the front page of PFM there is a column on the right hand side entitled "Get That Out of Your Mouth" by Chris Dahlen. The piece is about God and religion in indie music and the TFM shout out comes in the form of a quote from yours truly.

PFM says: "A couple of years ago, you couldn't even find many indie rockers who identified themselves as religious. The Danielson Famile were always far out anyway, and 16 Horsepower almost count as a country band. But then came Sufjan Stevens. After Seven Swans' moving piety and his breakthrough with Illinois, Stevens became "the Jesus guy." New fans shared stories about how they learned to get past his faith and enjoy his music, while bloggers like Pitchperfect cracked that she likes "a little less God in [her] rock." And the journalists couldn't get enough of the God angle, until, as Nick Sylvester reported on his blog, Stevens' publicist started asking reporters not to bring it up."

While I did say that in reference to Sufjan Stevens in an end of year wrap up post I will have to confess that I LOVE ME SOME DANIELSON FAMILE. Always have.

I haven't seen them play live in years but hot damn (wait that might not be the appropriate phrase to use in this context) sisters in matching nurse outfits doing matching dances is eye candy to the highest degree. A modern day Partridge family in medical costumes and surrounded by school play props helped me to further enjoy their fantastic songwriting when otherwise their 100% out of the closet God rock lyrics didn’t connect with me at all.

Their openly religious nature seems to fuel their music and that shameless pride and joy is still something I respect and admire. Being that open and free of some hipster shield of cool to the point of wonderfully freakish makes them that more endearing to me. (By freakish I mean the school play angle not them being down with Jesus and company.)

Sufjan, Pedro the Lion, and much of the Tooth & Nail roster all fall under this netherworld of a more obscured faith. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any artist who chooses to place their beliefs in a more subtle form but the message IS still there. The subliminal Christian rock lyric can be abstract enough to be about anything BUT it could just as easily be about God. I don’t have a logical eloquent way to explain why this disturbs me but as a non religious individual I prefer to know exactly where an artist is coming from.

Personally speaking music is already sacred to me so adding an outsider’s personal belief or agenda can be unsettling, especially if it feels like it is being done without my knowledge. Just to set the record straight, I am not against any form of music but like all things it boils down to a matter of taste and I stand by my statement. I do like a little less God in my Rock.

I’m not scared of the message these talented people carry I just don’t want to buy the thing they are selling.

Also one quick thing, the Christian rock movement at least in indie rock terms has been around for more than a “couple of years”. I remember attending a few different Tooth & Nail showcases back in the mid 90’s and thinking who the hell (oops) heck are all these kids? The indie music world isn’t very large so to be at a huge show and not recognize even one person in a crowd of 500 felt like a Twilight Zone episode.

And don’t even get me started on Krishna in hardcore. I still have a shirt somewhere that says "keep Krishna in airports not hardcore". How’s that for old school?

Paul Weller / As is Now / Rating 7.2

"As Is Now is Weller's eighth studio solo album, and it does very little that you could call unexpected, but does it all very well nonetheless."

This is becoming a morning ritual but without the perks of say the life giving power of coffee. PFM has posted yet another review of a cd which street dated back in October. ( 10/11/05)

There are is only thing I should tell you straight away about this Paul Weller cd. I give away cds on this site for two reason: 1. because somehow I ended up with a second copy or 2. because I didn’t like the cd enough to keep it.

In dashing mod idol Paul Weller’s case it was the latter.

By 4am this morning I mimed a thing called sleep. It was a quiet performance completed with both eyes closed but the rest came in sprint form; a few minutes here, a few minutes there. My cat unimpressed with this tossing and turning opted to explore the contents of a kitchen bag containing chicken bones from a sub par southern fast food chain whose claim to fame is fried chicken made with the original original KFC recipe.

Where was I...oh yes...PFM writer Joe Tangari has passed my fact checking test with flying colors and his opinions of As is Now mirror my own completely.

To continue with the confessions of a shut in I should also include this meal of grease and crunch was consumed while watching NBC prime time television; a guilty pleasure on Thursdays and a much needed rest from music which plays for 6 to 12 hours of my day. Waiting for The Office I sat covered in blankets, head cocked to the right as two characters on some show called Four Kings talk about knowing obscure bands and attending an Arcade Fire concert. I was originally suspicious that this was an uninspired fever dream but alas according to blog search engine Icerocket it was very real. Huh.

My lack of focus today is punishable by music critique law, forgive me.

PFM says : "What really struck me as I listened to As Is Now, though, is how much it grew on me."

I agree but in my on going act to be realistic about what I will listen to again, to our blog contest it went.

It is now nearly 10am and there is nothing more I would like to do than return to bed but a pair of morning doves are playing windowsill musical chairs. In flight they surprisingly sound like my first car when my catalytic convert was on the outs. Temporarily nestled their coo sounds closer to a crappy bird call I learned to make by cupping my hands together in a certain formation and blowing through it while fanning my fingers circa summer camp 1977 . I’ll be damned if I can sleep through that racket on top of knowing the torture my cat suffers while watching these meals with wings inches behind the bedroom curtain dance from window to window.

“As in Now”, post PFM review, lack of sleep riddled, and a new day of zombie ahead I am missing that Paul Weller cd and secretly wondering if a music reviewer in 20 years will be saying the same thing about Teddy Leo.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tall Dwarfs / Weeville / Fork Songs / 7.0 / 6.9

Two reviews of the same records for the price of one!

These records came out back on Oct 25th....blah blah blah....I ran a review of these titles at the end of November because silly me, I figured a month past their release date that PFM wasn't going to review them.

I am a fan of the New Zealand 80's and 90's rock so I jumped at the chance to spread the good about these reissues. Here is my exact post from November and my review system is Red = YAY! Yellow = Eh. Blue = Nay!

PFMS says: "Here's the caveat: Most of you reading this will not like the Tall Dwarfs, even on these, some of the most accessible of their releases. To most of you reading this, these songs won't even sound challenging or interesting-- they'll just sound like a couple of freaks banging out rickety crap at a rate of an album a weekend. "

Hog wash, that's right I said HOG WASH. Tall Dwarves aren't a circus sideshow act. Their music is simply home recorded pop music bordering on experimental but never terrifying. Keep reading below for my bigger picture.
_________________________________________________________

Vive le home recording!

In 1981 Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate home recorded a 3 song EP on their Teac four-track recorder under the band name Tall Dwarfs. These founding fathers of the New Zealand punk scene (both were NZ's The Enemy) scene morphed into pioneers of the DIY lo-fi recording movement, a practice which soon infected much of the indie music making world's population.

Often nary a drummer in sight, TD tangle the jangle-pop leash around the likes of The Velvet Underground and it wasn’t until years later I connected sounds like parallels to artists such as Robyn Hitchcock, The Clean, The Chills, and Television Personalities.

Semi-hot on the heels of a recent Olivia Tremor Control / Tall Dwarf reunion tour, Cloud Recordings have recently reissued two Tall Dwarf records; the first being Fork Songs. Originally released in 1991 on Flying Nun Records this new version includes the classic 1987 Dogma EP as a bonus.

Weeville is a remastered version of the 1990 release on Homestead. An impressive document to the bizarre yet somehow related to Simon & Garfunkle , this new edition includes a 20 page booklet.

Followers and fans of TD include : Pavement, Elf Power, Unrest, Ween, Apples In Stereo, Yo La Tengo, Smog, REM, Neutral Milk Hotel, Lambchop, and Mojave 3 to name just a few.

After spending a few weeks with these Tall Dwarfs reissues it’s easy to hear their influence over the modern day bedroom rocker. My 4 track has been dusted off and I plan to pay a little tribute to them tonight.

Vive le home recording!

Last time I checked the cloud recording website was down but perhaps some time soon
http://www.cloudrecordings.com/ it will work. In the meantime you can check out their catalog here.

Tall Dwarfs/Weeville/Fork Songs/7.0/6.9

"When we spotlight reissues like these, it's usually for one of two reasons: Either the music is historical (seminal, groundbreaking, definitive, influential), or it's the exact opposite -- unique enough to stand outside time, feeling just as distinct and fascinating today as it did when first released."

Every New Year, I make a list of things I want to get done in the coming year. Usually, the year passes by and there are few checkmarks on that list. This year, I wanted to point out a good PFM review and Nitsuh Abebe has made it easy for me. His review is solid, well written and well thought out - even if I disagree with it a little, I can't find any fault in it.

Rather than pad the review with a clever intro, Abebe starts with a nice explanation of the rationale for reviewing reissues. This leads into a discussion of why these reissues merit review. The whole topic of reissues has been on my mind for the last couple of week. With so many reissues on CD - in fact whole labels devoted to them - as well as digital only reissues, I've been wondering why and how they're important and whether or not they merit coverage. It's gratifying to see someone at PFM thinking about the same thing and putting those thoughts clearly into words.

Abebe has done some homework on the Tall Dwarfs as well. Providing a modest amount of background - especially on a more obscure reissue- helps give the reader some idea of musical context. It also gives me more confidence that the reviewer has put some serious work into the review.

As far as the review of the CDs, I've only listened to the Fork Songs CD. When I'm dispassionate about the CD, I have to agree with the reviewer. These reissues are for Kiwi-rock completists or perhaps avid fans of lo-fi pop. I don't think that I'll be playing this CD for many friends, scanning their faces for a look of enjoyment.

Dropping my objectivity, I freely admit that I have a soft spot for the Land of the Long White Cloud. I lived in New Zealand as an army brat. When records from Flying Nun began winding their way across the Pacific in the eighties, I was smitten. The Verlaines, the Chills and the Tall Dwarfs seemed to come from some strange alternate universe of Rock. While the Flying Nun imports were outrageously expensive, I snapped up domestic releases on Homestead. Unfortunately, the Tall Dwarfs output in the late 80's were mostly very pricey, import-only eps - an expensive proposition for a poor college student. Since then, most of that material has been terribly hard to obtain, especially on CD. To have two CDs with the Tall Dwarfs later material is a true treasure to me. That "diverse crowd" of "unreconstructed record geeks"? I'm a member. Guilty as charged.

How would I rate Fork Songs? The dispassionate side - the side that would be reluctant to play this for friends at dinner - agrees with Abebe's rating. However, the Kiwi rock fanatic in me would bump each rating by a full point, open up a Lemon and Paeroa and fasten his head phones in anticipation of bliss.

Miles Davis The Cellar Door Sessions/ Dominique Leone/ Rating 9.4

Miles Davis The Cellar Door Sessions 1970[Columbia; 2006]Rating: 9.4

Dear Pitchforkmedia,

I’ve recently read Dominique Leone’s review of Miles Davis The Cellar Door Sessions and I have a few questions/suggestions:

1. Can you please stop reviewing expensive box sets I cannot afford?

2. If you are going to review expensive box sets I cannot afford can you give them a bad rating so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the fun?

3. Can you please lend me the money to purchase expensive box sets I cannot afford?

4. Thank you for reviewing individual disks of aforementioned box sets I cannot afford. The reason being it is much easier to steal individual discs.

5. Can you mention the obvious irony in the fact that it most likely costs more to buy this box set I cannot afford than to have actually seen Miles Davis play these shows?

6. Why are we leaving out obvious Donnie Darko “Cellar Door” connections?

7. Can a straight man go see Brokeback Mountain?

8. Can I go see Brokeback Mountain?

9. I was kidding about Brokeback Mountain.

10. There is no hidden meaning between questions 7 and 8 being separate questions.

11. Did you really listen to the whole box set I cannot afford?

12. Did you do something else while listening to the box set I cannot afford being that Jazz is great music to study, clean your house, and get in girl’s pants to?

13. Can I be called a Jazz expert simply possessing the knowledge that Dave Brubeck is white?

14. Can you at least send me your copy of this box set I cannot afford?

15. Is their a God?

16. Is Pitchperfect a substitute for God?

17. Can you at least make me a copy of the box set I cannot afford?

18. Would you consider hand rewriting the linear notes?

19. Is Dave Brubeck white?

20. Can I live?

Yours,
Alex Vermitsky

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Gogogo Airheart / Rats! Sing! Sing! / Rating 6.3

Gogogo Airheart have played for 13 years, but never to the same ecstatic reception as Futureheads or Franz Ferdinand.

Jan 24th, as in next Tuesday is a big day. It marks the first major street date of the new year meaning instead of the holiday season Tuesday dribs and drabs the music industry has thousands of brand new titles coming out on this date. In PFM world this means a potentially gi-normous amounts of new music to review.

Keeping this in mind I have to say reading a review of a Gogogo Airheart record that came out last October makes me think...Really? There isn't anything just a tiny bit more recent or coming out any second now that you wouldn't rather review first?

With only 5 new PFM reviews posting each day why not start looking at these Jan24th titles? Check out this list from CMJ ; good-bye 2005 and let’s get 2006 started already.

According to GSL’s biography on Gogogo Airheart the band is actually 10 years in the running, 9 years since their first release not 13 as the PFM review posts.

The band's press release says : "Still toying with the punk/funk/dub mash-up they perfected early on."

Pfm says : "blending familiar sounds-- bratty discopunk, brooding college rock, white boy dub"

I have to pity a band that yes has been at it for a long time, has been outshined artists that once opened for them but to compare them to Franz and The Futureheads? Ouch. It’s a nearsighted comparison to say the least and not wholly accurate as well. I know the one sheet says something different, there are traces of angular dance but after listening to the record I hear something much more trashy, raw, and rather the opposite of Gang Of Four / XTC uptight pop or a knock off brand of “college rock”.

Seven songs into Rats! Sing! Sing! Royal Trux pops into my mind first and The Make Up minus a manifesto and Princely moans second. ( The Make Up live especially)

Obviously every set of ears will hear something different so why not check it out yourself http://myspace.com/gogogoairheart ( top track); that is if you aren’t saving your focus and hard earned pennies for something a little more recent that a record from last fall.

Regardless of what I think of the PFM review, I agree with the PFM 6.3 rating. Considering I have had this promo for ages today is the first day I played since it arrived in the post and had PFM not reviewed it I can't be certain I would have played the entire record again ever. I hate cherry picking from a record because I really do believe in listening to an entire record as one completed puzzle but in this case one or two pieces is all I need for the bigger picture.