Friday, March 31, 2006
So as you probably know i love music. The only thing that comes close to that love is my affection for film. So with the Blessing of Pitchperfect i have started my own little sister site for film review: ViewingFork.
Don't worry i won't be reviewing Ice Age 2 or anything like that. It is more along the lines of independent film and classics, because that is where my tastes fall. And of course there will be more of my random writings unrelelated to a particular film, as well as a good amount of articles about the intersection of film and music.
Most of this will be related to DVD releases. Because i love DVD's. Simple as that.
Why did i start this site you ask? Because i figured there weren't any people on the internet expressing their opinions about film. And i will be the first.
Hopefully very soon more people will join me in reviews, ala this site. Offers are being made, shady backroom deals brokered.
So please take a look if you have a moment and let me know if you have any feedback. Anything from 'Looks good' to 'You suck, sucko' will be taken into consideration. Thanks
I think I mentioned early on in the month that I used to have pen pals who worked at Sub Pop Records and lived in Seattle during the very early 90's. Besides sending me press photos and other silly trinkets like press kits I was sent many a letter writter on a band poster or flyer which at the time was the main way bands promoted shows all over the city. They would blanket telephone poles and sides of buildings up and down every major street so on your walk to work or buy coffee you would see flyers like the one above. My scanner isn't big enough to show the poster in full but at least you can see the bands listed. The only thing you are really missing out on otherwise is an autograph by King Buzzo, some gentlemen in suits and the location of the show.
The letter written on the back of this flyer goes on to explain that Bruce and Jon (Sub Pop owners) had just signed a few new bands: Afghan Whigs, Rein Sanction, and Rev. Horton Heat and that the Whigs and L7 are playing that New Years Eve. He goes on to tell me about the Ice Cube / Too Short show later that week and how he needs to get his ticket to see Janes Addiction and The Pixes before which he isn't certain but expects to sell out. Ohhh the early 90's.
It only seems right to end this as the letter to me does,
Thursday, March 30, 2006
The exclamation rose from somewhere in the middle of the room and near the front of the stage. We (the audience) were all thinking the same thing after the last note of the first Books song of the night had just been performed. Two men seated before microphones, one holding a guitar and one holding a cello sandwiched in a large mixing board while their film projector dispensed moving images. No really, MOVING images. The un-band end result was like listening and watching nature do the things it just does (meant to do) like an earthquake rumble and shake things or a river rush past while shushing you on the way.
I wasn’t planning on writing a review at all as I had seen Pitchfork’s senior contributor Mark Richardson greeting The Books moments before they took the stage and shortly following Grizzly Bear’s Beach Boy harmony overkill and affects pedal extravaganza. (yawn) Needless to say I am guessing Pitchfork will be offering readers a more formal review of the show but I had such a personal reaction to the event I knew I was going to go home a write about the evening regardless. A memory from childhood long forgotten came flooding back to me as the words Holy Shit!!! evaporated out into the air and into my ears. Doe eyed and open mouthed my flashback began.
My mother rarely cursed but the Pine Barrens of NJ were on fire. I mean seemingly every inch was up in blazes during an usually dry year and Holy Shit!!! was the sentiment my mother used as flames arced from one side of the two lane highway to the other. Wind was carrying the colors of orange, red, blue and black above our car; colors and a heat I had previously only seen / felt in miniature via a fireplace or a campfire. Real live larger than life fire was racing thru the forest and closing down just about every possible route in or out of the retirement home my grandparents lived in. My mother and I frazzled and fearing for both of our lives were stopped time and time again by road blocks, policemen, firemen, ambulance crews and the occasional helicopter sweeping in with useless drizzles of water. As I child everything already felt larger than life and humbling yet this supernatural event which looked both decadent and devastating captivated my attention and left me in a state of utter shock. I was sickened and excited, a deadly combination on a stomach filled with Capri Sun juice packs and pretzel rods. (my car travel food at the time) I was in complete sensory overload as I listened to a chorus of crackling, something like a million candy bars being unwrapped at once as sirens wailed, chopper blades thumped, wind whipped, the taste and smell of burning introduced itself to my nose and lungs, and ashy grey clouds stung my eyes (even with the windows up)… all the while my mother driving in tears quietly cursed.
Like most children I reacted in the most human of ways, my bladder told me I needed relief and my stomach told me I needed to purge. This magnificent display of sight and sound is my earliest memory of being completely over burdened with something inexplicably moving. I can’t explain exactly how I was moved as a child of 4 or 5 but I felt unbelievably alive, miniscule, human, and overcome with emotion.
We eventually broke free of this maze of fire, timber, and emergency crews arriving home several hours later safely. My body however chose to end this story with an upchucked exclamation. This was a pint size version, my version of HOLY SHIT!!!
I have only relived a feeling this obtuse in relation to seeing a band once before. A few weeks after September 11th I drove back to NYC to see Bjork perform at Radio City Music Hall in support of her album Vespertine. I say back to NYC because I had recently just moved from NYC to Richmond a mere 10 days prior to Sept 11th. It was obviously an emotional time for the whole country and I drove up to NYC via the Holland Tunnel shocked to see an unfamiliar still smoldering skyline of a city I no longer called home. Watching Bjork perform a nearly perfect night of music along side images was moving to the point where it took nearly ever ounce of strength to hold back tears and ignore my urge to either be sick or pee. I was a child again in awe of something one thousand times bigger and more stunning than I could ever possibly be a part of or create. It may not have been a supernatural event but it sounded and looked pretty damn close.
Fast forward 4 and half years and I was standing against the stage The Books were sitting upon and faced yet again this combination of man verse something naturally massive. It wasn’t déjà vu, it was the return feeling of a small girl being swallowed whole by her surroundings. We all have our dream combination of sounds and mine includes strings (cello + guitar), glitchy beats with samples, and gentle male vocals all accompanied by visuals (found footage and home videos) where on a huge screen examples of familiar life scenes play out and synch up to the music EXACTLY. It is impossible to fathom how two human beings can create something that naturally seamless and gorgeous.
After 4 soda pops and the old familiar feeling of sensory overload, a spoken Holy Shit!!! and the perfection that is The Books triggered this childhood memory of heady awe balanced with a body reaction of ache. I survived this show with all my body fluids in check but my gut reaction was still primal and childlike. This sensation of awe (a rare and sacred occasion) felt as massive and as moving as a sky papered in flames and while I can’t promise you anything close to my personal reaction to their performance if you see The Books play live, I can almost guarantee you the feeling of Holy Shit!!!
PS: Any of you Jersey types who were raised in the state during the 70’s and 80’s will cry for joy as brief footage from Action Park’s number one ride (and most deadly) The Alpine Slide offers a return ride down it’s twisting and turning cement trough. I never thought I would experience that part of my childhood again either. Amazing!
PPS: If you see The Books (please please do) pray they play their Nick Drake cover during the encore.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
So, after allowing the opener to evaporate, Boris jump-cut to the album's title cut-- a full-throttle psych riot.”
You are probably thinking Boris again? We’ve, well more specifically I have posted a few times about this release already but I swear this is the last time. I finally have the Southern Lord version in my hands and I wanted to give the final word on how this varies from the import and my thoughts on the record.
1.The artwork is different and the clever Southern Lord folks have created an acid tab packaging which once you hear the record will make total sense. The acid tab thing is a little hokey to me but then again the owner of Southern Lord plays in Sunno))) and they are grown men in robes bathed in two smoke machines so this Boris packaging makes double sense.
2.The last track of Pink "Just Abondoned My-Self" contains an extended version which appears in a much shorter form on the import.
3. The metal world needed a band to dare to reverse the Spinal Tap art of black on black to a modern metrosexual look of pink on pink. Boris doesn't need to prove they rock by using tradtional metal colors, they are secure with their high quality level of heavy.
4. The PFM review, the words and rating are about as perfect as it gets. I personally wish more of the record follows the Jesu vibe of the first track (Jesu was my favorite record of last year) but I love the kick out the jams Guitar Wolf meets The Melvins rock that follows the first track. I may not love PFM for their daily reviews but when they pick a must have release, they are almost always right.
5. I have listened to the first track "Farewell" at least 8 times since I got this cd in the mail yesterday.
6. Not to say Boris should replace your Dungen cd but do me a favor and put this Boris cd on top of it.
7. If Brandon Stosuy keeps his PFM review accuracy up he might become my favorite Pitchfork writer yet.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
No matter how much I follow indie music a few bands always manage to slip by me. Top sales charts are starting to roll in from stores all over the country and Band of Horses new record Everything All the Time is in just about all the top 25s. I don't have the record yet, I have heard a few songs but I haven't been inspired thus far to buy the record or even borrow it from a friend.
Be honest here:
A) How the hell did I miss this band's rise to fame and fortune?
B) Am I missing out on something really special? Don't just say yes, I want examples and reasons why.
Now now. Lot’s of bands in the indie market have a song ( or 3+) appear in a television something or other. The OC, one of MTVs 8 million non music shows, and yes, commercials have become perhaps one of the biggest / most successful tools of the last decade to help break an artist to a mainstream audience. If Nick Drake was alive I bet he would agree with me. Spritualized and Polyphonic Spree would also applaud that. In recent terms I believe a Spoon track being used in the brand new Jaguar spots. Spoon? Um yeah sure, I guess that appeals to all those hipsters with mad cash to spend. Did any of these artists write these songs with the idea in mind that it will sell products or play soundtrack in an hour long episode of blah blah blah? I would really like to believe to the answer would be no and the while the PFM jab at The Concretes association with Target by no means is intended to say the band has gone too commercial (pun intended) on purpose, PFM still makes use of this product association in not even a back handed compliment kind of way, it is meant to be in insult.
The fact of the matter is not only does having a song used in a major national television ___ (insert name here) help to sell more records for an artist and expose them to a new audience, the money made from publishing rights is often the most money a band will see from making a record at all. The real point here is ad execs in charge of picking music for television have great taste in new music (not always but often) and if they are using a track to sell something, a product or an image, 9 times out of 10 the track is going to be catchy and memorable AKA a strong song. *
My friends let me be the first to tell you that there is hardly one strong song on In Colour and I can’t image Target or any other company wanting to use any of these mild mannered candy coated beyond the point of enjoyable material. Attention grabbing hit you between the eyes perfect pop never happens so PFM you have your use of Target in the review all backwards and shit.
The opening track “On the Radio” (ABBA for 2006) offers a glimpse of what could have been, something you might hit repeat to hear a second time while driving but a tease is what this song really is. It gives the false hope that something even better or at least equally decent awaits the listener and the reality is, there isn’t. The horns, humdrum lyrics, strings, mandolins, piano, slide guitar, yawned out melodies, glockenspiel…. and mid tempo beat after mid tempo beat crawl over the finish line of 12 tracks and play dead. “Chosen One” and “Fiction” make this tortoise race of a record something I don’t wholly regret wasting my time with but if I want plodding alt-country I will dig up a Ryan Adams records. Ha cha cha cha.
Needless to say I won’t argue with the PFM rating of 4.7. In Colour’s vibrant cover art of boxes doing their best to represent Technicolor is hands down the best thing going for The Concretes. Their band art is always meticulous and personally I would prefer to see this band move towards a career in the graphic arts.
* I should also mention companies prefer to license indie music tracks because paying for publishing rights to a track by say Madonna or Frank Sinatra cost more than you could possibly guess. Indie music = affordable. National name brand companies want catchy music while trying to keep their ad campaign cost to a minimum. Enter Radio 4 or Mr. Scruff or….
1. Memphis, TN, January 2005 (Ernestine's Portraits)
2. Memphis, TN, November 2004 (Sound Affects)
3. Memphis, TN, January 2005 (Nick's Records)
I've said it once before but I will say it again for good measure. Christian Patterson is one of my favorite photographers around today and kindly he has allowed me to share a few music related images for the Tuning Fork birthday month. Thanks again CP!
I have also said this before but it can't hurt to say it again so I remind you: using these images without the permission of Christian Patterson will bring you an ugly and untimely death.
Monday, March 27, 2006
What just happened? I was listening to this nice pop record, something decidedly 80’s English with lots of layers and horns (think Elvis Costello with Daryl Hall + Aztec Camera/ later Sciti Politi which moves into Cloud Room, Squeeze, and The Beatles, ) and suddenly the whining begins. I believe this was meant to be moody brooding swelling passion and embarrassingly enough their press one sheet tries to pass this off as “reminiscent of” artists like Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, and Rufus Wainright. Even Pitchfork throws out some heavy hitters like Beta Band, Badly Drawn Boy, The Doves, and Radiohead. Here’s the problem, those bands are all better, like ahead of the creative curve gorgeous and Guillemots aren’t quite there yet. A funny side note is their MySpace page AKA SpySpace mentions Bjork like 4 or 5 times (they are apparently big fans) but this is yet another classic example of how an influence can have nothing to do with what a band sounds like and they might as well list Morris the cat and the Easter Bunny because they are equally as (ir)relevant. I refuse to read the one band sheet any further because if they (the publicity company) dare to insult my intelligence with manipulating popular band names in hopes of paralleling greatness to the Guillemots, their out of their God damned minds. I would say the same about the Pitchfork review but since technically I am reviewing that first and the record second...I will carry on.
Its nearly 9AM, rather early for me and I am already further confused. The press sheet thingy which oddly enough seems to be geared towards bloggers, calls this EP and PFM calls this a major label release.* My Tuning Fork partner in crime Grettir and I have complained / questioned this before, when did a record over 30 minutes long start being dubbed an EP? (From The Cliffs actually clocks in at 40 minutes) No really, why isn’t this thing called a full length? Once upon a time most 80’s pop records called anything over 30 minutes a full length.
Secondly I am not wholly sure what to call a major label record any more. The band’s SpySpace page calls their type of label “indie” while the back of the cd lists The Verve Music Group as the company manufacturing and marketing this record. Websites are vague enough that a half hour on the Fantastic Plastic Records label site didn’t sway me one way or the other. Hmph.
Sorry for the tangent, I know I need to get back to the music at hand but without coffee these questions are taking up more space in the brain and to be honest the music isn’t holding my attention. If this was a really great record I wouldn’t be distracted with boring details like its running time or the fact that I need caffeine. I hope Guillemots singer makes those difficult pitch slides next time around and I am intrigued enough to look forward to whatever they record next. I see a band with potential but no matter what you call this - major or indie, an EP or a full length, it just isn’t something I would call great and a PFM 7.4 rating, like the one sheet, is trying too hard to paint a better than it really is image. Double Hmph.
* I really did stop reading the press sheet. I remembered the use of the term EP from my initial once over.
Friday, March 24, 2006
I’ve been friends of Aaron Turner for what I am guessing is about 7 or 8 years. I say guessing because I really can’t remember exactly how long to save my life. I have seen him play, Isis play so many damn times that it is impossible to set the shows apart. All I can remember is it was at CBGB’s on a bill with National Acrobat and Cave In and again I think this is the bill but wouldn’t swear on it. We have many a mutual friend but oddly it was a mutual affinity for Bjork that began some of our earliest email exchanges and like all friendships, we began ours with a mix tape, this one featuring the rarest of rare Bjork material. From there it was only a matter a time that we discovered we were both record addicts and Bjork was just a surface obsession; there were hundreds of other artists and other rare records we were actively looking to get our hands on. Okay and it doesn’t hurt that he bought a shirt from my old band when he was a kid at one of our worst shows ( we were the last band to play a three day hardcore / emo fest in Mass during the early 90’s.) ever.
I’ve learned since the true depth of Aarons obsession with music and if anything I think his label Hydra Head reflects all aspects his (and his partner Mark Thompson’s) genuine love and respect for music. Beyond putting out music that is consistently excellent and mind bending, their attention to detail, their ridiculous stellar packaging, artwork, and limited color pressings are a record collectors dream come true. After you read Aaron’s piece below you will truly understand just where Hydra Heads dedication for flawless releases comes from. To put it mildly, it ain’t no accident and just to be clear while a good addict loves company, Aaron’s record collecting ways sits at the bottom of a long list of things I admire the man for. The number of talents and skill Aaron has makes me feel like an ant along side a giant.
I'm sitting here in an airport, the Oakland airport to be exact...
I'm at the end of another short trip, one of many that I've made this year, and like many in recent years past. the purpose of this trip was to surprise a close friend for his 30 birthday, the arrangements having been made by his girlfriend, also a close friend of mine. Though the trip was just over 24 hours in duration (from my front door and back to it), I somehow managed, as I so often do, to rack up some more credit card debt by purchasing hundreds of dollars of records in a VERY short time. This particular time i was victimized by the cruel staff at Aquarius records, who certainly know a sucker when they see one, and who have swindled me many times over since my discovery of their shop 5 or 6 years back. Though I was only in the store for a matter of minutes, I predictably walked out with a fairly large stack of records and feeling about $250 lighter. the funny thing about this particular trip is, I somehow considered my spree "moderate", if that gives you any indications of how far my rampant record consumption has escalated over the course of my life, and more specifically in the last 8-10 years. You could say I have a problem, and addiction even, one which causes detriment to my wallet and causes all available spaces in my home to be filled with CDs, LPs, 7"s, cassettes, box sets, 8 tracks, flexi discs, and all manner of recorded media. It is not however, a problem I wish to escape, though I occasionally feel guilty about the excessive amounts of money I spend, the time I spend scouring the globe for these things, and the hours spent negotiating trades with other obsessives. once in a while I also feel as if some of the records I buy suffer neglect from too much competition, a coked listening field if you will - some CDs and LPs retain their shrink wrap for weeks or even months after being hauled back to my lair, and some of those that are emancipated from it are quickly relegated to the vaults after only one or two spins. That said, I feel that it's all worth it when I find that ONE record - the one that doesn't leave the cd player or turntable for weeks, the one that romps around the interior of my mind when I'm trying to fall asleep, the one that I seek out on all formats and import versions (with bonus tracks of course!), the one that I mention to anyone with whom I share ANY musical common ground for months after it's purchase, the one that inevitably ends up on my self important year end best of list - the one I wish I'd made myself, or somehow had participated in making....
Being in the airport now reminds me of so many other return trips, my bag bloated with records, my shoulder sore from it's weight, my anxiety over whether the corners of the LP sleeves are getting bent, the anticipation of the "session" when I get home - to sit down, to select a record from the stack (usually the one i'm most excited about - which I suspect could be on of THOSE, the holy ones), I'll ceremoniously pour over the liner notes and art of the first selected record, and when it's contents are exhausted I move on to the next.... or perhaps I'll just sit back and soak up the sounds. Sometimes if a new item has been acquired that has a particularly handsome sleeve i will display it, cover out, on the shelving that holds the stereo as well as the other "recent" acquisitions (recent meaning anytime in the last 18 months).....
I'm thinking of one particular return trip right now - coming back from a short tour of Japan - short, but not so short that i was unable to spend over 1,000 bucks on records, in 7 different stores in 3 different cities. Most of my purchases consisted of vinyl LPs - the hardest to transport of all formats, and of course my favorite as well. Due to my need to have my collection in the best condition possible, all the records I purchased on this particular jaunt had already been inserted into the requisite protective plastic sleeves and packed together in well padded bags in accordance with the self imposed requirements of my return voyage. I had in insisted that I did not want to put the records in the luggage that I was checking, for fear that the luggage would be thrashed by callous and even spiteful baggage handlers of whatever airline I was flying at the time, so I reasoned, the records MUST travel with me in my carry on.
As a result I had the pleasure of lugging around the heaviest carry on I've ever traveled with through the immense and winding maze that is Narita International Airport, and then through the long terminal, US customs, baggage claim area, and parking garage at our arrival airport, LAX. Not more than 10 minutes after I'd entered the sliding glass doors at Narita in front of our particular terminal a particularly distressing incident took place. I was limping along, crushed by the weight of my carry on, lamenting my inability to control myself at ANY of the record stores I visited, feeling as if this was somehow my penance for being a collector of records, when much to my dismay, my shoulder strap snapped, the plastic bits of latch shooting off into oblivion, the bag and it's precious contents smashing into the hard tiled floor with a soft thud, followed the unsympathetic laughter of my band mates who were only steps behind, and had witnessed the whole event. funny to them, near tragic to me, I cautiously opened the top flap of the bag, unwrapped one of the several bundles of bubble wrapped LPs, only to discover to my horror, the very thing which I sought to prevent at all costs: every fucking corner (lower left) of every fucking record in the bag had been bent, dented, smashed. I had done myself the very thing which i had feared would be perpetrated by the ruffian bag handlers - i had scarred my latest cache of LPs in it's entirety, for all eternity - for, as any record collector knows, there is nothing to be done for a sleeve that has suffered and dent, scratch or fold - no matter of fiddling, pawing, or flattening can mend these awful wounds. I grimaced and cursed my own stupidity once more, and shot resentful glares at my still chuckling band mates who were completely unaware of the severity of the blow I'd just suffered by my own hand. Now, I can stand a record where the vinyl itself might be a bit dinged up, a bit scuffed, the character that this adds to the recording and the experience of listening to vinyl is not undesirable - there's something warm and reassuring about the sound of a well worn record. Conversely there's nothing I hate more than an lp sleeve that is visibly damaged, ESPECIALLY if it's a sleeve of particularly pleasing graphic ingenuity. In fact if it's a record I like enough, I've been known to purchase 2nd and even 3rd copies of an album if i come across a one with a sleeve in better shape that my own. Stupid? Yes... satisfying to me, most certainly....
Now, who cares about any of this, my trials and triumphs, besides me? Not many I'm sure, BUT for those out there who suffer the same affliction as I, these may be tasty tidbits, reminders of similar experiences, reassurances of the existence of other souls following a similar path of scavenging, coveting, and gleeful acquisition. a record collectors collection is never complete, the quest never ends, the piles and stacks never cease growing, and the desire to hear, hold, an own that which has yet to be found is unceasing, infinite.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Dub Tractor – Hideout – Towerblock – Import cd out now
This is a nice mixture of shoegaze and dub.
Spank Rock – Yoyoyoyoyo – Big Dada – out 4/18
Baltimore is the new dirty South.
Rahim – Ideal Lives – Frenchkiss – out 4/4
The jury is still out on this cd. I LOVED the EP and while this cd is good it doesn’t wow me like the first release. I am hoping this will grow on me because I love a good DC (jawbox/ q and not u) knock off band.
Roger Sisters – The Invisible Deck – Too Pure – out now
I didn’t love the cd but when I saw them open for Cloud Room in DC I changed my mind. There is something obtusely Cramp-ish about this band and their guitar tones are to die for.
MF Doom – Special Herbs Box Set – Nature Sounds – limited edition now out of print
Why Pitchfork didn’t review this is beyond me, it is a total must have for MF Doom fans.
Envelopes – Demon – Brille – out 4/4
A similar charm to early television personalities and maybe a touch of the Vaselines, it is one of the surprise hit cds of the year for me. Surprise meaning I knew nothing about the band at all so I had zero expectations for this record.
Bridget St. John – reissue series on Cherry Red – Import – Out now
I am not sure I will ever need to listen to another Beth Orton cd again; these early 1970’s folk reissues are brilliant.
Takagi Masakatsu – Journal for People cd/dvd – Car Park – out 4/4
I didn’t know there could be a form or relaxing glitch but this Japanese composer and visual artist chops up soundscapes in quite a peaceful and devastatingly beautiful manner.
The Like Young – Last Secrets – Polyvinyl – out 5/9
I heart a good energetic pop duo. (insert your white stripes / mates of state comments here)
Human Television – Look At Who You’re Talking To – Gigantic – out 5/2
They remind me of an early 80's Brit pop bands (YAY!) though I am certain they will be called a third rate Interpol in some circles.
Figurines – Skeleton – Morningside records – out now
Why didn’t Pitchfork review this amazing cd yet? Modest Mouse minus the PBR and a fondness for Tom Waits.
Kokanko Sata – S/T – Honest Jons – out now
Pretty much anything on Honest Jons is worth a listen. Kokanko Sata from Mali is the ONLY woman in the world to play the African hunter’s harp and I am grateful that there is technology to record and share such a unique and foreign gift with the rest of the planet.
Va – The Celluloid Years – Collision – out now
Other Music puts it nicely “If you're a fan of NYC's Wild Style/Warriors/Style Wars-era, you need this. Classic outsider beats and grooves finally get a fresh look.”
The above sentence kicked off the PFM review but it was never backed up with any details to support such a statement. Details details…who needs them any way? Not Pitchfork, that's for sure.
I am still working on limited brain power post fever and since I am working against a time released multi-symptom cold / flu relief pill that could kick in any second and erase what little coherency I have left, I need to type this out with Godspeed.
In tribute to the Coolfer 4 word review I give you my own for the Sparks Hello Young Lovers cd.
Oompah Loompahs revive Queen.
If the above sentence doesn’t terrify you then who cares what the PFM rating or review says, you need this cd to keep your Shaggs, Mrs. Miller, Jandek, and Gary Wilson cds in good company.
A) Check the comments section to see if anybody claimed the cd you want to win first.
B) If the cd you want has yet to be requested leave a comment saying your first name and the cd you want. This will let others know the cd has a new home.
C) Email us at email@example.com your name / address / and cd you want.
You can only win one cd per contest and only if you haven't won a cd from us in the past two months. It is as easy as that. There is no creepy catch. I don't email spam in the future or mail you adult catalogs three months from now. You get a cd (sometimes more cds if I have some extra stuff sitting around) and a DIY fold / cut / and fill out tuningfork membership card that has zero meaning to about 99.9 % of the world but that .1 % who are record inter-web geeks too will totally be barely impressed. Awesome right?
Drift- dvd w/ Lee Renaldo & Leah Singer - Plexifilm (full art) WE HAVE A WINNER
Vashti Bunyan - Lookaftering cd - Fatcat (skinny jewel case promo cd) WE HAVE A WINNER
Coldcut - Sound Mirrors - Ninja Tune (full art cd) WE HAVE A WINNER
The Sword - s/t - Kemado Records (promo cd not real art) WE HAVE A WINNER
Man Man - Six Demon Bag - Ace Fu (no art/just promo cd) WE HAVE A WINNER
Rahim - Jungles - French Kiss - ( promo cd w/ art and I hate to say it but this single is better than the full length) WE HAVE A WINNER
Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit - Matador (promo cd no art) WE HAVE A WINNER
Good luck and yes I will mail cds to people living out of the USA. Non-American indie music fans deserve presents too!!! PS: Selling your prize to a local store makes you a bad bad person. If you don't like the music please pass it onto a friend who might.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The word apparently is a Slavic word that originally denoted the principal commander of a military force.
But if you're like me you didn't actually know that until a few hours ago. How about that there world wide web huh? (Look Mom, I'm on the internet!). No, if you're like me the word Voivod summons images of some weird ass sci-fi future where a robotic tank crushes everything in it's path, where some robot-astronaut hybrid leaves beyond a post nuclear holocaust world to wreak havoc in outer-space, and where far to many hours are spent perfecting a font on a binder. It summons memories of the sounds of what is essentially one of the best metal bands to ever emerge. As a teenager (way to many years ago), to me there was no other band that so perfectly bridged the gap between my love for trash metal and my love for progressive rock. Throw in the aforementioned post-apocalyptic humankind enslaved by technology vibe and I was totally fucking sold. And unlike most of what I put on that teenage pedestal it's stood the test of time. I remember seeing Voivod twice in the mid-80's, first with Celtic Frost, and secondly with Soundgarden & Faith No More. That they were headlining the later mentioned show is testament to how poised they were to be as massive as bands like Slayer & Metallica and others that rose to the top of the metal & rock ranks.
Various lineup changes, unfortunate accidents, and most recently an untimely death have sometimes made it seem like there's a curse hanging over the band. Just when it seems like it's starting to get back on track, it isn't. I remember seeing them open for Motorhead & Entombed in Montreal about three years ago and neither of the other two bands could even compete with the energy in that room when they hit stage and the rumors of Snakes return were found to be true as he came out of the wings. I like to think that show was the start of new era.
All this came back to me after catching an art exhibition last week which featured Voivod cover art and other artwork by Michel "Away" Langevin (drummer for Voivod). Michel informed me that a new Voivod record is being released this summer and that some back catalog is finally getting issued again. I'm convinced it's not to late for them to finally obtain the wider recognition they always deserved.
All this is to say that I'd like to declare this week (and I'm sure the lovely Pitchperfect would support me) as International Buy A Voivod Record week. Anyone who knows what I'm talking about will agree, and anyone who doesn't..."they're from Montreal" (hipsters tell that counts for a lot... actually they're not really, but from a town close enough and unless you're from Quebec you'll have never heard of it anyway...).
I recommend "Dimension Hatross" or "Nothing Face". And for now I give you these photos from the art show, including one with Mr Away himself.
As the opening to War & Pain says... "Voivod!!!!!!!!!!"
And yeah, I missed you too.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Sometimes its hard to be honest with myself as a music fan. Sometimes I want to love something so much based on past performance that I can't see what is right in front of me. For you sports fans, and don't worry I think non sports fans will get this as well, the analogy goes like this: I love the Dodgers, and even though they have pretty much been a bad to mediocre team for the better part of the last 18 years I am still devoted and with each new year convince myself that they are great, despite the fact that my eyes can see that they are definitely not.
Well sadly the same goes for Ray Davies. I have listened to Other People's Lives four times now. The first two times I nodded my head and said to myself "oh, that was good, I think " or "ooh I guess I could like this, maybe." And then I listened to it again and realized that if it was anyone else but Ray Davies I would have listened once and, content that I didn't like its adult contemporary leanings, passed it on to someone who might enjoy it, like my dad. The fourth time made me kinda sad.
But here is the thing. I L-O-V-E the Kinks. I don't go two days without listening to them. I am not gonna blah blah blah you with my well thought out treatise on how awesome they are (e-mail me if you want the manuscript). Suffice to say they are a top 5 band for me. And as their leader, Ray Davies has a special place in the TQT Pantheon of cool (He's next to Leonard Nemoy and across the way from Fernando Valenzuela. Its a special place.)
Well that's too much baggage to take with me into an album. I am not going to track by track this sucker, but suffice to say songs like 'Stand up Comic' and 'The Tourist' are cringe worthy for a man who wrote some of the best subtle bits of social commentary of his era. I believe the term is 'too on the nose'. Possibly subtlety is something you lose with age. My evidence to back this up is simply that my dad has always been a pretty subtle guy and now that he is in his 60's he likes to point and people and say "wow he's fat" or "I hate his shoes". Thanks Dad.
Anyway I don't want Ray Davies to stop making music. If he makes another album I will buy it and listen to it, cause he sure has earned that from me. But Other People's Lives will sit on my shelf, perhaps waiting until I get a little older to enjoy it.
So i think the 6.7 was a little generous, but I understand. Its hard not to want to love it.
PS. I racked my brain for revered rock artists who had late career artistic breakthroughs. I drew a blank. George Harrison's last album was good, but didn't break any ground. Ditto Dylan's last few. Any thoughts?
Monday, March 20, 2006
Neko Case/Fox Confessor Brings the Flood/7.4 -- Catfish Haven/Please Come Back/7.6--Destroyer/Destroyer's Rubies/8.5
Tying together Destroyer's and Neko Case's latest releases makes some sense. Both are members of the New Pornographers with prominent solo careers. Both write rich, nuanced pop songs influenced by past styles. Both records have earned immediate critical praise. Musically, there are some significant differences. Dan Behar is far more influenced by 60's and 70's rock; Neko Case draws on Country and Western music. Also, Neko Case's voice is a more breathtaking instrument. Both records draw from me an equal degree of awe at the songwriting, performance and production that has created them.
However, no matter how much I listen and re-listen to these records, I find myself going back to Catfish Haven's EP Please Come Back.
Confessional only in the most roundabout sense, Case's songs set up strange anecdotal skeletons that beg listeners to connect the dots between.
while Destroyer's Rubies is by no means a flawless record, its most glaring flaws are for the most part mercifully self-contained.
I mostly agree with the PFM reviews for Destroyer's Rubies and Fox Confessor... I could go after LeMay for his post-collegiate vocabulary; we Tuningforkistas get frequent flyer miles for purple prose as well. However, I had to chuckle reading Dombal's review that was critical of Case's lyrics in one of the most purple sentences imaginable -
the rapturous belter's high-minded lyrical aspirations often undermine her throat's unhindered veracity.
While Dombal's language is a little overrich for my tastes, he makes a good point - no matter how lovely the lyrics or rich the melody, Fox Confessor doesn't give you anything hummable. The album is beautiful, thoughtful and complex - however, it didn't quite hook me.
I would expand that observation to Destroyer's Rubies as well. 3000 Flowers and Painter In Your Pocket have the most catchy melodies to my ears. However, the record is a little overwhelmed by its own brilliance. Sure there's some moments of wit, but occasionally they don't quite resonate emotionally. Take as an example, the oft-cited line "Those who love Zeppelin will soon betray Floyd" - yep, it's a clever dig at album rock, but clever isn't the same as emotion to me. That's not to say that the whole album is bereft of emotion - however, sometimes the brilliance of the songwriting gets in the way.
Now, a lack of singalongs does not make either of these two records bad. I'd give each an even 7.4 - well, maybe I'd give Destroyer an extra tenth because it name checks an early My Bloody Valentine EP. Both reward a listener who's willing to sit quietly and listen closely - the kind of thing music critics do for a living. However, that awe-inspiring craftsmanship means that you have to put some time into these records. Please don't leave them on as background music; they deserve attention.
Take away quirky instrumentation, genre experiments, and yelping vocals; what's left in the modern guitar band's arsenal? Catfish Haven remind us: Tuneful, passionate singing, lucid songwriting, and engaging riffs.
On the other hand, Catfish Haven's six track EP compels me to listen to it. Catfish Haven's recipe is simple - guitar, bass, drums, a whiskey-voiced singer and lots of love songs. While the band's name hints at a Southern influence, their music is really just rooted in Rock and its prior influences. If Catfish Haven are Southern, they're Southern in the way that Big Star was Southern. My ears hear traces of great minimalist rock and roll from Big Star to early Replacements to The Minutemen to Nirvana. Don't believe me on the last one? Listen to About A Girl from Nirvana's Unplugged then Still Hungover from Catfish Haven - you'll get it (yep, it's something I've tried on my digi-music-thingy already).
My only beef with the Pitchfork review is that it's too brief and a little too low. If there is some rule that an EP can't get an 8.0, then Please Come Back solidly breaks that rule. In fact, Brian Howe seemed a little more enthused about the record on a blog than on PFM. My only advice to Brian would be my advice to all of PFM's writers - share your love for a record with us. We know you all are smart - we like even better to hear from other people that adore music.
As an extra, you can go to Catfish Haven's website and download two of the standout tracks - Please Come Back and Madalin - along with an early version of Still Hungover and Paper Thin, a track from their earlier EP. Still Hungover was originally titled Too Hungover To Headbang - a great title, but not quite right for the song. The earlier version also has a slightly different production which made me appreciate the new version on the record even more.
Boooooo....pictures still don't want to post for some reason! (3/22)
Ahhhh Molly. I swear to you this woman does more in a day than most people accomplish in ten years and you kind reader might know her name via these avenues:
The rock (just to name a few) : bratmobile, lois, frumpies, peechees, prehistoristas, and soon something new that has yet to be named with carlos of the peechees.
and then their are her companies: indivision management, lookout records , simple social graces discos
I never realized how hard it is to talk about friends to strangers until I started this month long Tuning Fork anniversary project. I had to have Molly remind me where we first met because to be honest I feel like I have known her my whole adult life when in fact it has been just shy of a decade.
Like most people not located in the Northwest during the very early 90’s, my introduction to Molly came through the endless barrage of press about Riot Grrrl and its founding moverrrs and shakerrrs. Our bands never played shows together as we were a part of two different music scenes so our paths never crossed during what I would hazard to guess most people would consider the heyday of Riot Grrrl or post-hardcore. I had been an audience member at many of her shows, a fan of the label she was a part of but none of things led to conversation between us no less a friendship. (I mean really how many bands or record labels you like become your friends?)
In hindsight there is almost a sense of comedy in the fact that my formal face to face introduction to Molly took place in a formal conference room setting during a Lookout label presentation. I am not one for heroes but meeting any woman who tackles a male dominated anything and has endless amounts of drive and creativity is instantly a person I can be inspired by and hope to befriend. It was never just Molly’s bands or the label that wowed me to the core, it was and remains this ability she has to take on 50 projects with the kind of life force of an electrical storm. This isn’t just about being impressed with a person filled with a genuine passion for music or having a fellow female in what is still a very male dominated scene but rather a person who at least since I have been familiar with her lived by a creed of action not just words.
I give you Molly’s guest post and thanks lady for taking the time to do this!
Where it's happening: ESPAÑA BABY
Last summer I went with teddy (leo) to the Sant Feliu hardcore fest in Sant Feliu Catalunya Spain. It is a beach town of maybe 5,000 thousand and every summer for the last 9 years Tule has put on a festival for the underground and hardcore punks in Spain. If you are not familiar with the politics of Spain I won't attempt to explain it properly here but it's enough to know that there are regions that are their own countries historically and culturally within Spain, such as Catalunya, Galicia, and the Basque Country. They have their own languages and identities and are fascinating in their own right. There are similarities within the regions of the Iberian Peninsula but it is amazing how many differences there are and how strong the traditions are. I have been drawn to Spain for a long time (I'm a wino and I love cheese and olives, Picasso, Miró etc), but learning about these things has inspired a whole new fascination.
So anyway, blah blah, we went to this festival and I was really excited because my friends Les Aus were set to play and I hadn't been able to see them the year before when they were in the U.S.. My friend Arnau who is the drummer for Les Aus has a label called Ozono Kids from Barcelona and he has sent me the records he released before but it wasn't until I got to the merch table in Sant Feliu that I really began to understand the breadth and depth of the Spanish underground. It's all about these bands and labels and personalities and they are so strong and so funny, it's like a virus you get infected with. Here is a short and sweet list of some of the bands to check out:
*Les Aus: On tour now with ted leo/rx. New record out on the about to be launched simple social graces discos in June.
*Grabba Grabba Tape: brilliant and goofy and infectious and I was grabbatized which sent me into this whole spin... Also a record on SSGD in July
*Campamento Ñec Ñec (pronounced nyec nyec): their music makes me feel like I am flying. Record out on SSDG in August
*Margarita: from Madrid, powerful
*Veracruz: sorta garagey, sorta incredible! From Barcelona.
*Sybyl Vane: From Barcelona, all girl rockers
*Las Perras Del Infierno: also girl rockers from Barcelona
*Anticonceptivas: Sergio and Nacho making music Asturian music in Catalunya. Sort of surf-y and definitely brilliant
*DNSR TRN/Musicca/Country Mejicano/Applied Asturias/sad believers
There are tons more too... There are also some incredible labels such as:
*Afeite Al Perro
Info/links to all of these and all of my other obsessions are available at my website http://www.blogger.com/www.simplesocialgraces.com.
News on my new label Simple Social Graces Discos will be forthcoming!! (start here tho)http://www.myspace.com/simplesocialgracesdiscos
Friday, March 17, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Passing judgment is as easy as passing wind. Passing credible judgment takes talent, knowledge, experience, a unique insight and I can’t help but ask this: what have you Zach Byron done for anyone lately? Do you have a massive dedicated following built up over years and years of hardwork and thanks to a genuine gift to move people?
The shitty part about a music journalist (besides the fact that anyone with a means to type and the ability to form sentences can call themselves a writer) is they get the final word. No matter how off the mark they are, how uneducated and lazy their string of paragraphs can be, they are the firing line rather than being the gun.
Speaking to PFM writers: It is the musicians who breathe life into your work so before you throw your punches, I beg you to at least not do it blindly. Talk about the music, the actual piece of music at hand, not the people, not their old bands, and not the invisible expectations you have decided to suffocate their new record with.
What exactly does a band owe the listener? I consider this a rule for all artists: You owe those outside of yourself nothing. You make the art you feel that you have to create, the art that is true to you or the chemistry you have with others if you are a band, and if people like it or get it than that my friends is the gravy. Some Girls don't owe Zach or any other listener anything. Got it? They made a record that was for themselves like it or not and none of us should have it any other way.
My disclaimer is this: I am friends with Some Girls or at least members of so while this is personal, the entire PFM review is an insult whether I knew the band personally or not. It takes courage to make art and share it with others but I can tell you this after being on both sides of it, life is EASY behind a desk / laptop. Sitting in a chair musing about others art is a comfortable position to be in, writing music, recording it, and touring behind it is not. I’m not saying you need to be a musician to write a decent review but you need at the very least a thoughtful, intelligent approach to the thing you are reviewing.
There is so much bullshit in this PFM review I am forced to take on several paragraphs.
PFM says: "Some Girls play blast-bleated, quick-moving songs that feature the odd harmonic-driven repetitive breakdown or grisly feedback buzz, and they employ a vocalist who probably loses his voice after loudly spweing stream-of-horror-consciousness, body-fixated lyrics at every show."
Blast bleated? Bleat according to my dictionary says it means a wavering cry of a sheep,goat, or calf. If Zach meant blast-beat meets petting zoo then somebody needs to actually go back and listen to the Some Girls record without a preconceived notion of what should sound like or what the press release tells you it sounds like. Heaven's Pregnant Teens is a thousand times more complex than a steady stream of noise, beats, and screams. There are maddening time changes, dramatic pauses, skipping needle points of repetition and half smile fuck you attack on what we as listeners are used to deeming heavy, noise, or even hardcore. Most bands in this general genre lack the talent to tackle or the balls to experiment with a song's structure and what an ex members of new band is suppose to sound like is an assumption no listener or "writer" has the real right to make. This is an important question to ask yourself every day: Who are you or what gives you the right to judge anyone else fairly? As a music journalist this goes double for you. Have you earned the right to write?
PFM says: "With some alcohol and jaded friends around, you could play battle of the "celebrity" hardcore bands…"
Get a life. At least these ex-members of people kept on making music where most other people give up on making music no less following it as they approach their 30’s.
PFM says: "Here's the thing: dudes want to grow up. Come your late-20s, the adoration of a sea of kids with Crudos back-patches and spock-rocked hair means nil. For scene vets like Some Girls, there's been an ex-band tag on every flyer they've graced: The band members own labels (bassist Justin Pearson's Three One G), maybe own their own houses, and sport fake moustaches (all of them). No wonder they're done with childish things like hooks and being nice to kids at shows."
I would like to think everyone wants to grow up eventually and maybe Zach should consider this as a positive option in his near future. I repeat, most artists make art for themselves and if kids come to applaud it and buy your record… than that is a minor miracle and a great side note. Some Girls don’t owe you or you or you a hook. Oh and I hate to break it to you but we all age. Hopefully with it comes maturity and growth and thank fucking God that with this an artist eventually moves on to try new things. I don’t want any artist I love make this same kind of art year after year. Personally I want to be challenged and surprised.
Secondly this is an industry standard: If you are in a another band, a bigger band, or a popular old band 9 times out of 10 your record will be stickered on the cellophane to reflect / promote this. The Witch record (also reviewed the same day as Some Girls) is stickered and promoted as a J Mascis side band. What exactly is the crime there? Your record one sheet will call attention to this fact in an effort to educate the reader and hopefully inspire them to purchase or play on air said record. And lastly band fliers include the ex members of tag because people can be lazy and live in the past. (I am looking at you again Zach) People don’t follow artists as closely as they use to, attention spans are shorter than ever, and getting people to buy music or get them out of their houses to see a band is more difficult than ever. Whatever it takes to bring people to pay a few bucks to support an artist, the venue or label or band is going to do it.
Justin P owns a label. What is the problem there? Did anybody at PFM decide to look up just how long he has been running a label? How exactly does that tie into what this new Some Girls record sounds like?
Are adult band people not suppose to own houses? To be honest, I don’t think 95% of the full time bands out there can afford to do that. I hate to burst the fantasy that playing in a rock band is all about girls, money, and fame and while their might be small % of all of those things out there for some bands, money is usually not a part of the equation. Unless you are Death Cab or Interpol most other bands do not tour in style or have an endless supply of cash for hotels and 4 star meals. Most bands travel in cramped vans, sleep on dirty floors, and eat garbage because that is all they can afford or this is all the venue gives you to eat. Feeling tired of this circus of a music industry just to pimp a record is natural and I am suspicious of anyone over the age of 25 who would dare to disagree. When you grow up you realize that maybe there is a better life, that a body isn’t meant to be treated like shit night after night, and yet as a musician this is what you know and do best it’s almost a cruel position to be in and for the most part it sucks. There I said it. Sure touring when your band makes a shit ton of money is fabulous but that simply isn’t the case for most bands. When you haven’t slept well or eaten well in weeks and you are hung over for the 20th day because drinking softens the absurd blows a touring band suffers through each night than you tell me how you might appear to an audience? If a band doesn’t kiss your ass at show keep the above list in mind. Life in a band isn’t easy and its especially frustrating when people (AKA PFM) don’t seem to get or appreciate these aspects. Seriously I dare any music journalist to take the being in a band challenge. I bet 99.9% of the reviews you read would change if a writer actually knew what the fuck he or she was writing about.
And as for the fake moustaches comment, seriously what the hell does any of that paragraph have to do with a record review? What does over half this PFM review have to do with Some Girls new record. Zach B stop living in the past, stop comparing a band to just the bands they used to be in or other bands in their genre you decided are better then them already and focus on what you are suppose to be reviewing: Heaven’s Pregnant Teens.
Not only does Zach ignore what the music actually sounds like but takes a stab at the lyrics which perhaps as a “writer” thinks he knows something about. EE Cummings wrote poems that often looked like his typewriter had a few keys that stuck and spit out nonsense but for those who actually give a damn about challenging what art should sound or look like, diving into the unexpected or the unexplored is what makes an artist ground breaking and original Something legends are made of. Making safe art is boring and I am grateful to the artists who are willing to take those chances and risk being attacked for it.
Hiding behind 6 paragraphs that maybe took an hour or two to write is slap to those who have spent years building a career and a following, to those who have the courage to step out before an audience live and in person to present their art no less too thousands of hours making music for people who in the end sound ungrateful and thankless.
Think before you write people, is that so much to ask for? Spend a little time with a record and research a band properly before you dare make a public statement about the music they make.
I can respect a 7 ish rating but not the words which fail to back it up. If you care about the music and not PFM's personal issues with the band as people or ex memebers of , go here and explore for yourself. Go where not enough Pitchfork writers have gone before.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
As Pitchforkmedia reported today, Brooklyn band TV on the Radio will be touring with Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus. An interesting decision to say the least. I sat down with a visibly angry Elton John to talk about this.
TQT: Thank you for joining me Elton.
ELTON: That's Sir Elton you bastard! Don't push me! I could snap at any moment. I've killed before!
At this point Elton approaches me, his eyes displaying the rage of a wounded cougar.
TQT: My mistake. I apologize.
Elton returns to his seat.
So what do you make of the news that TV on the Radio will be supporting Nine Inch Nails on an upcoming tour?
ELTON: Its insane I tell you! Absolutely fucked! I mean what's the point? I met Trent Reznor once. He didn't even compliment me on my purple blazer. Well screw him! Did he write 'Candle in the Wind'? No!
TQT: He has written some very successful songs. And people love his live shows
ELTON: What a bunch of crap. You call screaming in black mascera a show?
He spits in my face to show his disdain
A show is 50,000 screaming fans at Wembley and me in a Donald Duck costume. That's fucking art! Do these two bands really have similar fan bases? No!
TQT: Well Elton, I do think both bands have a similar dark tone, and the point of a tour like this is to open eyes of people who may not of heard the smaller band before. I think Nine Inch Nails fans may very well enjoy TV on the Radio.
ELTON: Are you calling me a liar?
TQT: What? No not at all. Its just-
ELTON: You filthy pig! You're a filthy pig! I'll kill you.
At this point in the interview Sir Elton took out a concealed cricket bat and cracked me over the head several times. After he was pulled off me by his own security I continued slightly dazed.
TQT: Um, Elton, are you a fan of TV on the Radio?
ELTON: (Taking a mocking tone) I don't know, is Bernie Taupin in the band?
TQT: Uh, No.
ELTON: Then what do you think you git?
TQT: Then why did you agree to this interview?
ELTON: Why do think? Your stupid site is going to pay me $25K for your five minutes, which I would like to mention is almost up.
TQT: I don't know who told you that but we do this for free. We're pretty much broke.
Elton sits silently for a moment before the cricket bat re-emerges. It was at this point I left the room in haste.
I wonder if Delta 5 was Corey Flood’s favorite band. You may perhaps know Corey better as the “Joe Lies” girl (played by Lili Taylor) from the movie Say Anything. I love Delta 5, they were the first female post punk band I really fell in love with years ago (I mean they have two bass players for double your dub pleasure, yeah!!!), but when you line up all their songs in one place as Kill Rock Stars has done for us, one thing becomes abundantly clear: all of their songs are seemingly about relationship issues and feelings about another person. The spectacular 18 page liner notes try to put an intellectual spin on the one track mind approach to lyrics but it is hard to ignore the obvious: Delta 5 were the emotional damaged goods of post-punk.
One sided conversations that yes "you can dance to" these are some of the greatest angular rock songs around but their lyrics carry a repetitive theme that doesn’t exactly help to solidify these tracks as a group. Instead it sheds a rather one dimensional light on their song writing skills, even though their one dimension is a mighty fine one. This isn’t meant to trash the band or this collection; I am grateful to have all these songs in one place with thoughtful packaging (including a brief note written by Jon Langford of the Mekons), but hearing all of Delta 5’s material back to back made me wonder if their music was meant to be heard in this fashion. Some bands give good singles and the record collector jerk in me prefers to think of D5 in this way. These are undeniably great songs but I stand by my preference for D5 singles and my disappointment in their singular focus on feelings and more feelings. (with a wink towards politics)
The PFM review does what most reviews do and deservedly should- kiss some legendary ass and give credit where credit is long over due. If you buy this singles+ collection you will also realize that A) the PFM review is basically short hand notes of the cd’s liner notes meets Allmusic and B) the liner notes are impressive enough that they should be considered a key point of interest and therefore should have been mentioned in the PFM review. Then again if your review is basically the liner notes rewritten maybe you don’t want to reveal your source of inspiration.
Licensing an entire band’s catalog is often impossible due to legal restrictions and publishing rights scattered all over the place but if you are going to do a retrospective of a band that released a handful of material over a span of 3 years, why not go for the bold and put it all on one disc with the disclaimer that some songs are better then others but here they all are. Follow the red bouncing ball through their entire career as a band; now that is what I would call a cd worthy of an 8.3 rating.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Memphis, TN, April 2004 (Graceland Monkeys)
Memphis, TN, February 2005 (Lamplighter Jukebox)
Memphis, TN, January 2005 (Nick's Flyers)
All images are by Christian Patterson and using them without his permission will cause you an ugly and untimely death.
I will spare you a long speech and let these pictures speak for themselves but I should tell you that Christian Patterson is my favorite modern day photographer. Not only does he do color like no other, he is a human jukebox of American pop/rock classics and has damn fine taste in that new music stuff we here at Tuning Fork like so much.
Thank you CCP for allowing me to share these photos with the class and just cause I am such a fan there will be three more images next week!
Allow me then to reveal the Skeleton hiding in my indie rock closet: Trip hop, 'Electronica' and Drum n' bass do stir warm feelings for me. Like really warm and in my belly, were warm feelings live.
Now i totally agree with the rating on this Coldcut album. In fact i would have agreed at 6.0. When its good i think its fantastic. When its not (see Robert Owens track) my finger meets the forward button quickly.
But was the mid 90's boon of electronic music really something to look back on in shame?
Not to me. An argument can be made that i am a sucker (and trust me many have made this argument) but i still have Roni Size on my i-pod. I still wish AMP was on MTV (actually i wish anything was on MTV). Was the whole thing that cheesy? Was Keith Flints haircut really that more hilarious than Sunn0)))'s robes?
I have shed a lot of music over the years, especially after the first wave of excitement hit. Hell half my 'garage rock' cds were sold long ago. But i still have almost all my electronica, and yes i listen to it, and yes most of it makes me nostalgic. Am i the only one? Oh god i am.
As to the question 'What the fuck were we thinking?', well i can only speak to myself. I lived in a town that had one Werehouse store and nothing else. MTV sucked. The Radio sucked. I could only listen to my punk and grunge albums so many times before i got bored. I stopped listening to music for 2 years (except, oddly enough, early B-52's. I was a weird kid). So when all these electronic acts came along it was new and interesting and at the very least different. I was in the outlands, so i didnt hear any of the hype that surrounded it. I just honestly liked the music. And, shhhhhh, i still do.
PS: Tricky and Goldie fighting over Bjork was way more fun than anything indie rock has thrown at me in the last few years.
Tuning Fork has quite a Canadian readership so this one goes out to our friends to the North. May your snow and ice melt early this year.
Thank You Enits; the piece below is EXACTLY why you were the right person for the job.
I will say I can't believe PFM writer Raposa used the oldest music journalist line in the book In reference to Clogs' Lantern: "most fully realized" ; gag.
"Lantern is the most fully realized version of Clogs' aesthetic, seamlessly mixing their musical reference points-- classical, European folk, post-rock-- into a unique sound. "
Unclassifiable is what my i-Tunes spits out at me when I put in Clogs' new album “Lantern.” Thank you apple for making this review a bit easier to write. Before even plunging into this record I unfortunately read the one sheet provided to me by Pitch Perfect. Damn labeling and all that it entails. You see, I love music and have some education in the field; supposedly that’s why I got this disc to review. After spending some 9 years toiling in the halls of a university the scholars, as they like to call themselves, let me out into the world with a graduate degree in classical performance. Does this mean that I’m going to perch myself up on a soap box and wax about everything that’s not classical about this alleged “alt-classical” record? Hell no...Why? Because I don’t give a damn what we classify Clogs.
Upon listening to the first track i was already intrigued...you see, I’m a classical guitarist by trade and guest Luca Tarantino provides an nice intimate rendition of a piece by renaissance lutenist Johann Hieronymous Kapsburger. I could go into a review track by track, but i won’t...David Raposa does a moderate to good job describing Clogs' record. yes, there are references to classical ensemble pieces and folk, and post-rock...(sure, I don’t even know what post-rock really means...after the rock? Can you still rock if it’s post-rock?). Again, this is all just beautifully executed music from four musicians who met at Yale University while completing their master’s degrees. Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner got the brilliant idea to create a group from different backgrounds who could improvise yet be able to read written music if it was put in front of them. And Clogs are born. Yeah! (seriously...yeah!)
Four records later and you have “Lantern” and my first introduction to the band. This record takes you on a journey through bare classical quartet ensemble (guitar, violin, bassoon, and percussion) to new age type pieces that are drenched in electric guitar washes and dyslexic percussion to grand simplistic folk forays. I don’t even know where to begin for me to expel my kudos to these four musicians.
. The mad hatters jazz fusion race with the bartok inspired violin melody of “5/4” to the brilliant juxtaposition of odd meters clashing without you even knowing that the floor is moving underneath you in “2:3:5.”
. The use of a Schubert melody that puts you into a 1930’s Piazolla niteclub in “Death and the Maiden” where the piece crescendos to such a high that you can only imagine the dancer/maiden collapsing from exhaustion at the end.
. Getting to the title track in the middle of this record to hear Newsome’s plaintive voice sing a sailor’s plea to finally see the lighthouse and go home.
. Or “Tides of Washington Bridge” which was originally a solo piano piece and finds itself reworked with the delicacy of ukulele, mandola, melodica, guitar, and piano. The original is found at the end and one can see how Newsome is fascinated with recycling and repeating melodies. Putting a piece within a different context of instruments can present an originally melancholy piece into a light with a shimmer of hope.
I can’t hear “downbeat” in this record and I’m not sure what Mr. Raposa is referencing here. Sure there are some quiet thought provoking moments, but if I wanted levity I would’ve gone to the Motley Crue show last night and sang a long to “Girls, Girls, Girls,” but alas I was snuggled up with Clogs and being taken on a journey through moments of jazz, classical, rock, fusion, and free improv.
I think that this band can and will make you think, but I also believe that they will have you feeling something within you that you don’t have to think too much about as well. I’m throwing the devil hands up in the air and giving Clogs a studious big ten.
p.s. I lied about going into a track by track review...so sue me. It's my first time and I did leave a couple of tracks for you guys to ponder and research on your own. Take care and till next time...
Friday, March 10, 2006
Enter Honor Role. It was the first band he played for me when we moved into a small one bedroom in Hoboken, N.J. together. Honor Role terrified me, they were melodic in ways I recognized from guitar driven bands like Fugazi or Superchunk but there was an underlying darkness, a seethng rage spoken and spit between gritted teeth. I don't think I knew what post-punk was at the time but whatever this was, it was moody and mathy, the opposite of shiny and pop which was the blossoming sound of the day. I had a new favorite band and to this day Honor Role's The Pretty Song lp remains in my top 50 records of all time.
Check Out what Trouser Press and Allmusic say about them and if I remember correctly Spin named them one of the most influential bands to the genre kids today just call emo.
If you had told me as an 18 year old that one day the singer of Honor Role, Bob Schick and I would be close friends no less speak nearly every day, I would have been both terrified (listen to the records and you will know why) yet in a total state of bliss. I mean how many people get to befriend their creative heroes? It's funny how things work out sometimes but then again if you live in Richmond long enough you are bound to meet everyone in the music scene, retired or not.
Below is a little story from Bob Honor Role about a show in Lafayette, La. - 9/86
I know it was the first date after we (Honor Role) left for our first tour the second time. Chip had mono the first week, so we played down to Athens, Ga. where we played with 86 at the 40 Watt who were great, but about as popular in Athens as we were in Richmond. We drove from Richmond straight to New Orleans, where we weren't playing, walked around, sold some singles to Toxic Shock distributor in the French Quarter & then drove to Lafayette. I don't think anyone in the band had been that far south before & I thought the scenery was beautiful. I can remember seeing flamingos along the standing water next to the highway & how green everything was.
We arrived in Lafayette, found the club & loaded in. I know I was always in a hurry to get out of the van because we had brought 3 of our friends with us, making a normal passenger van with all our equipment especially crowded & hot. The bartender was telling somebody at the bar about the Jell-O wrestling that had occurred the night before & I started noticing the residue of that Jell-O way up on the walls.
I remember walking out the door of the club into what I thought was a pretty deserted area & began wandering, o.k., I was trying to find a quiet place probably with a bathroom. As I turned the corner I felt like I was in a Western.The street was completely deserted. I kept walking & found a bar; it even had the old west style swinging doors. I stayed a little bit but it was too dark to read & there might be something interesting going on at the club so back I went.
I wrote the set list, changed my shirt & we went & did our set. There weren't many people so they sat on the ground in front of us. When we finished, a girl walked up to me & gave me a piece of paper & then turned around & walked out, if I was smarter I would have followed her, but instead I looked at the piece of paper. It was a drawing of me from the waist down while we were playing that said "you are very honest people". I was a bit confused by it & showed it to the rest of the guys who laughed about it for a long time.
On the way to the promoter's house, Doug & I sat in the back of his pick-up & watched the trees & smelled the smells of Louisiana, it was great.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
"Black. White." is basically "Race Swap"; two families switch races with the help of Hollywood magic and see what it's like to wear really tacky body make-up all day long".
Granted I haven't heard the track in question, but I'm willing to accept it's probably as crap as the review suggests.
Oh Ice Cube what happened. I mean you went from pouring 40's on the corner for your dead homies and telling us to Fuck The Police, to saying shit like "they got snakes that big" in Anaconda.... and did I totally imagine this... but did you also call the giant anaconda a "bitch" in that movie?... if so, I refuse to accept that as 'street'. "Are We There Yet"... don't get me started. Did you and Cheech Marin swap notes on how to reinvent yourself and erase history?
But here's the thing I'm most angry about. Your new MTV show "Black.White" seems a lot like an idea I had that I told a few people about. Now I'm pretty sure we don't know any of the same people within at least 3 degrees of separation, but I'm suspicious. And granted it's my own fault for being to lazy to do anything with this idea, and ad to that your idea seems like a bit of rip on that classic SNL skit where Eddie Murphy goes undercover as a white guy and discovers everything is free and there's party's on buses when the last black guy leaves... but all that's to say I think your new show will guarantee that I'll never be able to sell my idea for...
"Survivor : Compton"
You know that show would be better then yours. 2 teams of players and Jeff Probst descend on Compton and make 2 camps in the hood. Fuck Borneo, survive your night time walk to tribal council through South Central while having to perform some 'tasks' and then call yourself a survivor. Task #1 : perform 3 songs by Skrewdriver outside a 7-11. Now that Mr. Cube is television people will want to watch. Run with it my friend. You have connections where I have none. I will reveal my identity strictly for royalty cheques from you.
Every so often, someone else says something that sounds like it should have come out of my own mouth. For me, it's often my fellow Tuningforkistas, but 37 Signals has a great article on "fancypants analysis" and guess who they focus on?
You didn't have to think too hard about that, I hope.
37 signals is a web design firm in Chicago; I check their blog from time to time as a part of my paying gig. Their hallmark is keeping things simple - writing included. In keeping with that philosophy, the article is direct and to the point: if you can't making something clearer about a piece of art, then don't write about it. Academic purple prose is no better than corporate gobbledygook.
Or as they put it-
If you’re not making things clearer, stop typing.
Once upon a time cool was something you had to work hard at or be born into. You had to cultivate it by actually going to a record store and scoring a used Serge Gainsbourg lp. You had to go to a book store to find that book of essays by a political revolutionary. Thrift stores had to be carefully picked through for the proper attire and this was before cable TV showed re-runs of Dark Shadows (a goth-mod soap opera from the 60s/70s) where vampire mods were first unleashed upon America. There was no internet with instant access to a world of out of this world. Now it is all too easy to fake your way into a hipster façade where square is a fashionable side of a Pentagon. (FYI : Make Up song reference at work here)
Astrology charts, mathematics, beat poetry, ascots, the Bible as the first dirty book, the bigger the hair the closer to god mentality, dance moves not even Prince could pull off…. these are not things Make Up invented but they sure as hell brought them to a generation of kids who bowed down to their freakish level of never seen / heard before hottt. While the rest of us were racing towards the finishing line of fabulous Make Up were already there sipping sparkling water from slippers and combing their hair and yawning. The Make up were so ahead of the curve it was if they were bored with themselves and already onto the next by the time you saw them play again a few months later.
I don’t know how anyone could be that around the clock cool but holy fuck they were.
All these years later it is still impossible to crack the Ian code of absurd imagery and maze like abuse of the English language but getting lost in it, the ultimate "IT" was just, is just, another part of the band’s snake charm.
Their live shows were like erotic tent rivals where the best dressed teens and 2o somethings you have ever seen in your life danced as if it was they were extras in the uncut x-rated version of Quadrophenia. Bras and panties were thrown. YEAHS! from the crowd responded to every YEAH! called from the stage. It was a happening unlike anything happening at the time and little has come close to it since. It never translated 100% on record but in a venue… on a stage… they were a band to dress up and get down to.
A live Make Up record is the worst tease of all time and a bad idea period. It removes the ever so vital visuals and takes their audio performance down two notches. The energy and lyrics are in place, the audience participation echoes in the distance but the gospel meets live sex act dwindles to light petting in this format. Shame on Sea Note for not making this a DVD and shame on Make Up for thinking this needed to come out as a legit cd release 6 years after the fact and shame on Pitchfork for applauding a lousy apparition of a legendary band.
Their last hoorah deserves a proper AMEN and brothers and sisters this ain’t it. My rating is five fingers at the end of an extended arm. Say it to the hand cause this sister doesn’t want to hear it.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Please pass this info on.....feel free to cut and paste.
Sorry for the multiple bulletins, but we're just about ready lose our minds.
To recap, our van was stolen this morning around 8am from the Comfort Inn on Delaware Ave in Philadelphia. It was a white, 2003 Ford E-350, California license plates. ALL of our gear was taken. Here's a list of what's missing:
-1966 Ludwig drum kit, blue sparkle
-23" Paiste ride cymbal
-1976 Fender P-bass, no finish, beat down, Bartolini pick-up
-1993 Gibson SG, black
-1973 Fender Telecaster Deluxe, cream, with marble pickguard, humbuckers
-Fender Twin Reverb amp, 70's silverface, master volume
-Fender Deville guitar amp
-early 70's Ampeg SVT bass head with 2 massive metal handles on the sides
-Ampeg SVT 410HLF bass cabinet
-Peavey keyboard amp
-3 boxes of effects: 2 Line 6 delay pedals, Memory Man Deluxe, Big Muff, SansAmp
-Bass DI, Rat, MXR distortion, Cry Baby wah, 2 Boss EQ pedals, Boss Digital Delay, 2 Boss Tuners. These were in 3 different suitcases.
-Kurzweil K2000 keyboard
-Boss Dr. Sample
If anyone in the Philadelphia area has any info where this stuff might surface we'd really appreciate it. Or, if you find our van or our gear we can pay you handsome reward. Seriously.
As for the rest of the tour, here's what's happening:
Wed-DC - cancelled (Tonight)
Thur-Providence - cancelled
Friday-Wellesely College - cancelled
Sat-Mercury Lounge - still on
Sun-Mercury Lounge - still onMonday-
Memphis - ???all SXSW shows are still on.
If anything changes or the equipment fairy makes a special delivery I'll post a bulletin here to let everyone know. Thanks to everyone who wrote to us. It really means a lot. Thanks again.
A. Devandra Banhart stood outside the entrance, mouth agape, looking for all the world like a latter day Charles Manson waiting for his "children". His companion eventually showed up, a cheerful chap with bleached blond hair that reminded me of the 'Scotty' character from Boogie Nights. (Personal aside: Congrats to Philip Seymour Hoffman on winning an Oscar. My favorite PSH role is the blackmailing Mormon mattress salesman/phone sex entrepreneur in Punch Drunk Love)
B. At the end of Animal Collective's 3rd twenty five minute ambient jam, Deacon took to the mic and told the audience that it was time "to shake some rumps" at which point the band launched into a scorching 35 minute cover of "Come on and Ride it" by the Quad City DJ's. At least 3/4th of the crowd was doing the tootsie roll. Fantastic stuff.
C. For some reason the venue for this show was a warehouse that is usually used for techno nights and DJ sets. When you see a DJ, who cares what they looks like on stage? You're there to dance. But Animal Collective are highly entertaining to watch in the same way its fun to give your 6 year old nephew a fist full of pixie stix and watch him dance himself into a stupor. Sadly unless you were in the front or tall (I missed out on both fronts) you had to settle for brief glimpses of the band or watch the screens set up behind them which looped crappy visuals that seemed to be left over from the last time Sasha played there.
D. PJ Harvey stood behind the soundboard dancing. She is aging very well. Easily one of the most oddly attractive women I have seen. Kudos to her for enjoying the show while two thousand people took turns looking and/or pointing at her.
E. For their encore the band brought out an actual panda bear. It was pretty disappointing as all it could do was play a little tambourine, and then only if its keeper fed it bamboo as it played. Plus I think it mauled a bunch of people in the parking lot after the show. But parking lot bear maulings are a fact of life in the LA indie scene.
F: Judging by the confused looks on peoples face I would say 60-70% of the crowd had only heard 'Feels' and none of the more "difficult" AC releases. This led to a lot of people mouthing variations on the theme "hey, where are the songs?".
G: The opening act, Tamba Cha Cha, blew a lot of peoples minds. A lot of older men in suits were there for them, A+R guys obviously. Mark my words the band is going to be huge. They have their CD on consignment at Amoeba and it has been #1 for three weeks. Animal Collective were wise to have them open. They really got the crowd going.
I’ve never been an air drummer or air guitar player but if there was one record born for hands to tap out at shoulder level and fingers to form invisible chords to, The Ladies have provided the mother load.
A drummer’s drummer, a guitarist’s guitarist- why shouldn’t two guys that are already in too many bands add one more to their resume? So many artists try to take on side projects believing they have talent to spare but how many really had talent in the first place no less extra to spare. Zach Hill and Rob Crow however are gifted to the point of absurd and I fear their band touring will cause riots in the venue because people will want to stand as close to as possible to the stage in hopes of soaking in a tenth of their playing skill. I can’t imagine how these songs look like live and my ears still don’t fully comprehend these songs as being possible to write, play, and or maintain for a whole song no less an entire set. I suspect they each own an extra set of arms to make all that glorious racket.
They Mean Us showcases what I think both musicians do best and their unique combination of playing styles (the label one sheet calls it “magnetic chemistry) form a head banging beauty I am just barely beginning to wrap my head around. Lullaby vocals over advanced algebra rhythms ((cosθ + i.sinθ)k+1), a hook will fall out of the sky, erupt into chaos and work its way into something epic which isn’t easy to do when your songs often fall under the two or three minute mark. (Is something 17 seconds in length even a song or is it a stacatto hiccough ?) This isn’t predictable pop music that relies on a simple and organized grid system, this is a study in filling in as much space as possible with guitar or drums while absolutely contagious slivers of vocal melodies stretch out and connect the scattered constellations of noise.
I have written about my love for Heavy Vegetable (Pre Pinback/Thingy) in past posts and while I still love HV more than anything Crow has done since, The Ladies are the next best thing. Lyrically speaking the subtle sense of humor Rob sneaks into every record is not lost here. (Listen to "Non-threatening" for a prime example)
Hill’s drumming as overbearing as anything that verbose should be remains surprising tasteful and I am certain jazz drummers like Buddy Rich would be impressed.
The PFM review has a lot to say but it describes The Ladies rather than letting anyone know beyond the number rating if it is worth your time or not. Their closing statement “the Ladies' rampant precision will suffice” doesn’t exactly scream a 7.2 rating. Beyond the “rampant precision” perfect pop melodies bloom where one would suspect it impossible and They Mean Us earns at least an 8.0 for it’s fantastic freak of nature. I’m better than pleasantly surprised, I already want more than just a little over 30 minutes of music.
See you in the front row.