Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A liquor-drenched review of Doubled Exposure

So, I got a little hung up on the idea of liquor as a metaphor for D Charles Speer and the Helix's latest album, Doubled Exposure, and may have gone too far. I really like the album, in part because it seems to balance really out of control intensity with, um I guess, control. Anyway, I wrote:
Doubled Exposure ends in a slouching, low-hitting boogie, the grime-crusted, whiskey-tilted swagger of “Tough Soup” taking this latest album from one-time NNCK-er Dave Shuford out in a round house punch, stars circling, cartoon birds tweeting. It’s a fitting climax to an album that lines up tumblers full of many different varieties of folk-brewed liquor, chugs them down and breathes them out with an intensity that could be lit with a match like a propane torch.

Here, in “Cretan Lords,” the retsin-scented guitar tremors from Shuford’s solo Arghiledes vibrate against an electric blues vamp redolent of Jack Daniels. There in “The Heated Hand,” a veneer of nightclub jazz sophistication slicks over a country two-step, like cracked ice cooling a serving of home-made moonshine. There’s even the sound of a bottle popping to open “Bootlegging Blues,” a dark, primitive slink through the dangerous side of country blues that recalls Charlie Feathers and Johnny Cash. And who knows what sort of intoxicants seep through the smoke and haze mysticism of “Mandorla at Dawn?” the album’s longest, loveliest track is a dead ringer for Rangda’s brand of mandala-spinning psych, though colored with twanging pedal steel.

There's more here

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ten mile run, three records

Yeah, so a little demon has been whispering "marathon" in my ear again lately...now that my hip is finally holding up through medium-long runs (6-8), I've been wondering if I could go longer. Today, I did a 10 with no problems at all (well, minor problems, I am a little sleepy this afternoon and eating like a madwoman), so I guess the next thing would be a 15 and if that goes okay I get out the competitive marathoner's handbook (a dog-eared edition from the late 1980s) and start writing mileage numbers on my calendar.

Anyway, I had forgotten how much time there is to listen to music on these long-ish runs. I got through all of two and most of one more records while out slogging. Here's what I listened to (it's bands in alphabetical order from a playlist of stuff that's either new or in my review pile, plus a few random things...like I got the Fall's "Bury Part 1+2" because it had gone over 30 play counts and I reset it to zero so now iTunes thinks I need to listen to it again...which is a-okay with me.)

Dead Rider, Chills on Glass
I'm reviewing this later, so let me be superficial...this is Todd Rittman's most polished and R&B redolent excursion into post-rock dystopia, it slinks and sashays through cratered desolation and recoils stylishly from bristling barbs of guitar noise. It reminds me of that W.B. Yeats poem, "The Second Coming" for some reason, perhaps I'll figure out why (or more likely it'll stop reminding me) before I write my review.

Ex-Cult, Midnight Passenger
First time through this, and oh hell yes, I like it a lot, a spikily corrosive kind of punk rock that reminds me of the Wipers, the Observers and (a couple of times) the Zero Boys. It's out in April. I have to figure out how I can write about it.

Frances Harris, Minutes of Sleep
Also the first time through...no, not quite, I had dipped into a couple of tracks before and gotten distracted by the sparseness of the beat, like wha? isn't there any music? but the good thing about running and headphones is that you're not distracted, you are using the music as a distraction from boredom and tired-ness, so you hear everything, and there's jazz blowing in the window on this, jazz like you'd forgotten it for a year or two and then suddenly remembered how it sounded...it's very soft, but beautiful...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gacha...just gorgeous

I have been a little bit transfixed with the 6-song EP from Gacha, When the Watchman Saw the Light lately. Gacha is an electronic producer originally from Tblisi, Georgia in the former Soviet Republic, but he now lives in Berlin. His EP is soft and beautiful, with really touching, engaging vocals from Natalie Beridze Tba, another Georgian, who reminds me of Mia Doi Todd on that first Dntel record or maybe Laura Gibson working with Ethan Rose. The record is out on Apollo this week.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Like Robyn Hitchcock but more Francophile and less strange

I've been really enjoying the upcoming Trip to the Coast by British songwriter Bill Pritchard. Pritchard has been around for a while, and he's got a very nicely weathered, rueful tone, songs well put together but unfussy, catchy in a very casual way. It's the kind of album that sneaks up on you.

Pritchard also sounds a good bit like Robyn Hitchcock, the same growly bottom, the same pitch and timbre in the mid-range...I don't think they really have much else in common, except maybe a pallette of late-1960s influences, but their voices are similar.

Anyway, check it out if you like

The record will be out on Tapete Records early in March.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wish me luck

Today, I am doing something that terrifies me. I am speaking via a phone webinar to the Public Relations Society of America.

I spent most of Sunday practicing, and I think it will be okay, but I will be so, so, so glad when it's over.

Anyway, here's the announcement that Kent Wissinger sent to publicize the program.

Financial Communications at a Crossroads

Feb. 18, 2014

Markets have been surging and profits at financial institutions are up, so why haven’t opportunities improved for communications professionals? Employment challenges, increased job pressures, and a convergence of media continue to limit communicators in workplace and marketplace. Join us for an insightful presentation by veteran financial writer Jennifer Kelly of Kelly Communications who will provide an in-depth look at this issue and steps we can take to improve our positions. Kelly has more than two decades of experience serving a diverse client base of investment banks, mutual fund managers, insurers, private equity firms and related service companies. For her presentation, Kelly will review:

· Overview of financial services industry

· Shifting trends in communications

· Taking advantage of emerging opportunities

Back to music tomorrow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Angel Olsen

I had what I considered kind of a big, important review for Dusted, which ran at the inexplicable hour of about 10 p.m on Sunday (It's PFK's lead review today...), so I guess no one will see it, but here it is:

"Angel Olsen has a prickly kind of intensity. She reveals herself in hushed confession then flutters away in vibrato-laced trills and abstractions, leading you into quiet contemplation one minute and shattering your serenity with a banshee keen the next. She has a beautiful voice when it suits her. Her work on Bonnie Prince Billy’s Wolfroy Goes to Town was pure lushness and pleasure.

Still, there’s a danger there, an unmoored, unhinged flood of feeling that spills over the edges of her songs. By 2012’s chilling Half Way Home, you could sense a feral energy just under wraps. When I saw her last fall, performing mostly that last album, but a few tunes from the current one, that wildness had come much closer to the surface. Sharpness poked out of even her softest songs. A punk yelp, a rockabilly yodel slipped glass shards and knife edges into her folk-leaning murmurs. For about half the set, she had a rock band, the same on that appears on Burn Your Fire for No Witness — Joshua Jaeger on drums, Stewart Bronaugh on additional guitar."


This record is probably going to be on my top ten for 2014, not that anyone cares.

I think I am probably putting too much time into Dusted. I may back off a little.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wow, it's been a while

So, today started with four album's worth of snow shovelling, a wet, heavy mess that couldn't be pushed or thrown very far and so took forever to remove from the driveway. We've woken up a number of times this winter, looked out the window and said, "Well, it could be worse," but this time, it was worse.

Anyway, that gave me some time to listen to stuff, and I am really enjoying New Electric Ride's Balloon, which is kind of a 1960s bubbly psych thing, reminds me of Pretty Things' "Baron Saturday", Dukes of Stratosphear's "25 O'Clock" and Pink Floyd's "Lucifer Sam." They are British and perhaps travel around in the bus on their album cover, but beyond that I know nothing.

Also listened to Angel Olsen's new one, which I like a lot, but have to write about, so I'm going to hold my fire...as well as a new improvisational thing with David Grubbs on it and JoyCut, which is an Italian band much enamored of synths and pounding rhythms.

I've been really, really busy lately, and have not had a lot of time to blog. It's starting to feel like the late 1990s again, which is good from a financial standpoint. We had a wonderful time in Chicago and felt that Sean has clearly grown and developed as an actor, even in the short time he's been there. He had some very out-there parts -- a schizophrenic, a POW and a sexually abusive father -- and I thought he did really well in going to the dark side without being cartoonish or overacting...as people often do. But I'm his mom, what do I know?

He also has a really lovely girlfriend now, per Facebook, and is making some really interesting progress on his summer work plans, which I am not supposed to talk about.

So that's that. I'll try to get back here more often.