Friday, March 29, 2013

Early year favorites

Not much going on today either music or workwise, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to recap my favorite records of 2013 so far...don't hold me to the order, BTW.  I haven't thought about it that hard yet.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away...Not anywhere near as loud and funny and entertaining as the Grinderman records, but I don't know how to say this and make it sounds positive...insidious. It just sort of seeps into your consciousness and takes up a dark slippery residence there. Bleak, gorgeous, doomed, desolate...wonderful stuff.  I like "Water's Edge" the best, but it's all pretty wonderful.

Waxahatchee, Cerulean Blue This year's amazing new female voice belongs to Katie Crutchfield...I went to a certain amount of trouble trying to describe it in my Dusted review, so it's just crib from there:

Katie Crutchfield’s voice is the kind of thing you love for its flaws, for the gusts of breath that blow in when she reaches for a high note, for the earnest crack when she goes for volume, for the catch in her throat that sounds like it hurts a little, though not enough to stop her from confiding, whispering urgently about life and love and obstacles. Even here, on a second album amped and distorted with rock instruments, Crutchfield sounds casual, private and unstudied. You feel like you’re eavesdropping on a phone call to a sister (maybe Crutchfield’s twin, Allison, of the also excellent Swearin’), as she mutters, rasps and croons. Her observations are poetic, but also rawly specific, like ideas she’s jotted down, worked on but not fussed over, after a fight with her parents or a slightly-off connection with a boyfriend.

Also loved Purling Hiss' Water on Mars, a surprisingly dead on, third-time's the charm iteration of Mike Polizze's blown-out yet tuneful aesthetic. I said:

Public Service Announcement looked at first like an identity crisis, like the work of a guy who couldn’t figure out what he wanted to be or do. Now, with Water on Mars it seems more like a jumping-off point, maybe even a straw man argument to help Polizze sharpen his evolving vision. Look at Polizze’s progression as thesis (Purling Hiss), anti-thesis (Public Service Announcement), and synthesis (Water on Mars). Polizze is making a powerful case for balancing guitar chaos with songs.

That just leaves Kinski's weirdly titled, awesome new album Cosy Moments, which I have played the crap out of and still LOVE, LOVE, LOVE...let's see if there's a video.  No, dammit, no video, so you'll have to listen to "Conflict Free Diamonds" again.; It could be worse..

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Matt Pond

Probably too late to write about The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand, but Matt Pond PA continues to make pretty high quality indie pop, as on this big jump to the majors.  Zachary Houle at PopMatters wasn't thrilled with the album as a whole, but he did like the single, "Love to Get Used." 

He said:  Even better, though, is the follow-up track, “Love to Get Used”, which is the lead-off single on the album. It’s easy to see why – it’s clearly the best thing to be found here. With a jaunty guitar line and saccharine female vocals in the chorus, this might just be a defining moment for Pond as a popsmith. It’s just one of those songs that will get stuck in your head, and one wishes that Pond had more songs like this in his arsenal.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thalia...back with a fury

This is unusual, three days, three reviews at Dusted...the last is the new one from Thalia Zedek, Via

Thalia Zedek
Thrill Jockey

Thalia Zedek’s solo career has, to date, been a more muted affair than her full-band dalliances with Uzi, Live Skull and Come, surrounding her sandpapered, survivor’s rasp with piano, drums and, particularly, David Michael Curry’s wild, emotionally charged violin-playing. Then with 2008’s Liars and Prayers, the no-wave icon began turning up the volume, her ravaged voice surfing over roiling tides of dissonant guitar. In Via, she continues her journey back into rock abandon, beginning in the relative clarity of first single, “Walk Away,” and ending up in the maelstrom breakdown of closer “Want You To Know.”
Zedek worked with two drummers this time, first with Daniel Coughlin, a long-time fixture on her solo work and also Come’s old drummer, and later, Dave Bryson who is best known for his work with Son Volt. The rest of her band is familiar – Curry on violin and Mel Lederson on piano. Zedek herself plays guitar and sings, as usual.
I’m not sure you can attribute the shift toward more chaotic, untrammeled rock and roll to a mid-album switch in drummers, so let’s lay it at Zedek’s feet. She, after all, spends most of the album singing about the past’s long reach, its way of reappearing suddenly as long-dormant relationships re-animate, or its surprising power to shape people, events and emotions. It’s not much of a jump to imagine her backward look leading to the heavy guitars, the irregular rhythms, the pummeling overload of her 1980s and ’90s work. Zedek’s past is not a light or easy thing, either personally or musically, and neither is Via.



In other news, I finally gave up and joined Facebook.  I'm still not sure how the whole thing works, but my profile page is here, and I'm pretty easy about friending people. 

The other thing that happened yesterday was pretty great.  Sean got into another BFA acting program, this one at CCPA/Roosevelt, which is a very legitimate, Chicago-based, theater-centric program...certainly a vindication of the whole audition-school adventure that we embarked on after he got rejected from Northwestern.  I hope we'll have enough money for it.  I hope we don't have to sell the house.  But that's two performance-based programs that want him based on his acting ability...and a lot more positive response than he's gotten for his academics.  (Which are not bad.  4.4 weighted GPA, 5th in his class, 2020 SATs...but not good enough.) 

I can't believe what this society does to its kids.  It's criminal. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hiss Golden Messenger's Haw

Another really good into it mostly because of the cut on the Oh Michael, What Have You Done comp from last year, but I like the originals a lot, too.

Artist: Hiss Golden Messenger
Album: Haw
Label: Paradise of Bachelors
Review date: Mar. 26, 2013

“I come from the bottom of the river Haw,” sings M. C. Taylor in “Sweet as John Hurt.” Taylor was once of the hardcore punk band Ex-Ignota, later did time with SF’s twangy Court and Spark and now is comfortably ensconced in North Carolina’s alternative folk/country/blues environs, inviting locals like William Tyler, Phil Johnson from Megafaun, Nathan Bowles of the Black Twig Pickers and at least one member of the Bowerbirds in for this second full-length as Hiss Golden Messenger. Taylor and his long-time musical collaborator Scott Hirsch (also of Ex-Ignota, also of Court and Spark) have settled into a low-key but muscular country groove, spinning out shimmering mirages of wah-wahed overtones, blues-bent meditations on god and man, and light-footed country rambles.
Hiss Golden Messenger’s first album Poor Moon came out originally in November 2011 on the Paradise of Bachelors label in a limited run and was later picked up and reissued by Tompkins Square. The connection with Tompkins led to a spot on the Oh Michael! Chapman covers album. Hiss Golden Messenger’s “Fennario” was one of the few on the disc to capture Chapman’s rough masculine energy, the ragged wear and tear that makes his lines so memorable. Haw is, likewise, bristly, indelicate, often beautiful but never precious. It bursts with life.

Monday, March 25, 2013 this

Artist: Kinski
Album: Cosy Moments
Review date: Mar. 25, 2013

After a six-year hiatus, Seattle’s Kinski picks up more or less where Down Below It’s Chaos left off, building monstrous constructions of riff and feedback, repeating them to a Gnostic blur and layering on top some surprisingly melodic vocal melodies. Cosy Moments moves slightly toward pop-and-hook than the last Kinski album did, but more than maintains its integrity as an outsized purveyor of aggressive guitar rock. 

Over the last couple of albums, Kinski has made a transition from a dynamic-switching, mostly instrumental, experimental outfit – a peer of Bardo Pond and Acid Mothers Temple – to a more accessible, though still blistering rock band. The transition took a critical step in Down Below It’s Chaos with the addition of vocals – that’s Chris Martin singing – a step which led the band necessarily away from free-form, amp-torturing frenzies toward more structured songcraft. The model, maybe, is Sonic Youth, one of the few bands to balance experimentation and pop for any extended length of time. On Cosy Moments, Kinski continues to funnel noise and dissonance into surprisingly ear-friendly, easily grasped compositions. Even the instrumentals – and there are four of them – feel fairly tightly planned and structured. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Very cool drone-y, post-rock-y, post-punk-ish EP from's called Kone and it's a limited edition, self-release coming April 16th. There will also be a full-length on Kranky later this year. I guess Steve Shelley has split from the band, but it's at least as good, maybe better, than last year's Pre-Language.

So Bill and I were killing time while Sean auditioned for Hairspray yesterday, and we went to see the movie, Burt Wonderstone (not terrible...Jim Carrey unexpectedly riveting), did the grocery shopping and then stopped for a pint at McNeils. A very neat thing was in progress when we got there, a group of maybe 20 people sitting in chairs in a square, facing in, and singing folk tunes, one person starting a solo the rest joining in, no talk between. Not sure who they were (it wasn't sacred harp, though not wildly different, except no harmonies and more secular), but it was very cool. We have been involved in some fairly grueling competition to determine who is good enough to sing or act at various places, and it was so great to see people singing just because they love it and because it's part of being human.

So that's that, on to Monday.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Shark? !!!

I like this, reminds me of the Soft Pack, which I know everyone loves as much as I do, to there...happy Friday everyone!

Shark? - Down Low from kevin diamond on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

John Parish's soundtrack album

John Parish, whom you may know mostly through his connection with PJ Harvey, has a new album of film score music out next month. It's called Screenplay and it collects music from a number of (very indie) movies he's worked on...Little Black Spiders, Sister, Nowhere Man and Plein Sud. It's mostly instrumental, but there are some dialogue snippets and a few striking vocals -- Tammy Payne (Jukes) on “The Girls Rehearse”, the Lebanese singer Nadine Khouri on “Baby’s Coming” and Maika Makovski from Spain for “The Minotaur pt2”. I really like the ragged guitars of "L’Enfant D’en Haut" (the original title of Sister), but then I would, wouldn't I?

The one they're giving away, "LBS End Titles" is considerably calmer and more atmospheric.

I'm not sure the album works very cohesively together, but it's definitely got some moments.

I interviewed John Parish for Flavorwire in 2009 if you're interested.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Legs...from Oakland not Memphis

So, yay for the slush pile...I was cleaning up the kitchen last weekend, ripping through a pile of promos, 30 seconds of sample and then either iTunes or wastebasket, and I found this CD, Pass the Ringo by Legs, a truly fabulous fug of lo-fi guitar pop that comes out of not one, but two of my favorite scenes, Oakland and NZ. Not kidding this is my favorite Slumberland-type record of the year so far, and here's the kicker, it's not on Slumberland but Log Lady. If you like the Pains of Being Pure of Heart, if you like the softer more melodic side of Jesus & Mary Chain, if you like the Bats (and hey, one of the guys in the band opened for the Bats once, so it's a legit comparison), you should totally check out the Legs.

How about now?

By the way, this is not the Legs that Jay Reatard used to play in once in a while, but something totally different.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Until I have something more interesting to say

...god bless the young. They struggle so.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hey, I'm back, sorry about that...Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper

So this was a big weekend for Sean's college search process, the weekend that Carnegie Mellon calls its 12 accepted acting students and drum roll....he didn't get a call. So we were nervous about it all weekend and then devastated (I know we were wrong to hope, it's a loooonnng shot, but he had such a good audition that we had allowed ourselves to consider the possibility) and now sort of numb. He still has a few balls in the air, but it's looking more and more like Savannah College of Art and Design for him, which not a terrible outcome, but not as good as some of the ones we hoped for.

This is a really terrible process, I have to say. I know I identify too much with Sean's success, and I'm trying not to but it's hard to see the person you love so much and who works so hard and tries so hard and is, goddamit, so very talented, have his heart broken over and over. But I have a lot of work to do so I'm going to shut up about it.

One other thing, Sean went down to the pre-audition for Hairspray on Saturday hoping for the Link part (kind of a heartthrob) but may have walked away with Edna, the best part in the play, the one that Harvey Fierstein got a Tony for and also his first cross-dress part. I feel for the costume girls who will have to find men's size 12 heels for him...Anyway, he's fearless, my boy, and you can't keep him down for long.

Meanwhile, I have a review up at Dusted of a record that I really didn't care for very much and which I'd sort of decided not to write about, except that Otis asked me to...It's Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper, and you know, lots of people do seem to like it.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
Ripely Pine
Ba Da Bing

I’m not sure exactly when freak folk died, but it’s a pretty good sign it’s over when even Devendra Banhart sports a shave, a haircut, a fiancee and a surprisingly cohesive and unwacky new album. So let’s say that freak folk has passed over to that great genre bin in the sky, and let’s not expect a revival much before 2025. What do we do, then, with the spiky, adrenalized, banjo-yelp-and-stomp overload of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper?

We can’t just drop the freak part, even if the Boston Globe named the band — essentially one shout-singing dynamo named Aly Spaltro — the best folk act in 2011. After all, the designation “folk” implies a certain selfless conservatorship, an abnegation to old songs, old instruments and old ways of presenting oneself. Spaltro is in no way bound by these conventions, breaking mid-barnyard strum for an electric blare borrowed from Hendrix, attacking concepts like verse and chorus with such ferocity that she literally blows song structure apart. This is not folk, not even anti-folk, but rather a kind of acoustic prog crossed with cult-of-personality diva-pop. Never mind the banjos. There is nothing down-home (or Down East, given Spaltro’s origins) about this lady.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Guitar!!! (Purling Hiss)

I've been on a roll with guitar-centric albums lately...reviewed Kinski yesterday (awesome, more later) and today Dusted is running my Purling Hiss review.

Purling Hiss
Water on Mars
Drag City

Purling Hiss, the guitar-squalling offshoot of Birds of Maya’s Mike Polizze, first caught most people’s attention with a roiling, overdriven self-titled album put out by Permanent Records in 2009. Tracks like “Almost Washed My Hair” nudged at the intersection of noise and hard-rock anthemry, with the distortion and feedback pushed to the foreground, the vocals nearly buried in volcanic chaos. Hissteria, released a year later, continued in the same promising vein, all stomp and churn and obliterating amplification.

Yet, Polizze also unveiled Public Service Announcement, an older experiment in folky melody and acoustic strumming, more like sometime touring partner Kurt Vile than Comets on Fire or Hawkwind. It was at least a confusing move, and maybe a confounding one. Ben Donnelly, reviewing Public Service Announcement for Dusted, closed this way: “If the word-of-mouth continues, this will be the record where the conversation goes: ‘Well, I heard this one album, and I don’t get what the fuss is about.’ ‘If it’s the one where the guy on the cover is sitting, you gotta hear the other ones.’”

Listening to Water on Mars, however, I’m not so sure PSA was a significant detour. This fourth Purling Hiss album takes a lot of what was exhilarating about the self-titled and Hissteria and adds some structure and melody. It bridges the considerable distance between Purling Hiss and Public Service Announcement -- and, in the process, improves on both. The hard stuff (“Water on Mars,” “Lolita”) is easier to parse. The soft songs have significantly more spine.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Billy Bragg....not done yet

I posted last week about a Billy Bragg song from a long time ago, here's my review of his new album (which also touches on "Ideology". What can I say, I only have one or two ideas at a time if that).

Billy Bragg
Tooth and Nail
Cookin' Vinyl

A year or so ago, during one of our many manufactured government “crises” – I think it was the first debt ceiling fight – I stumbled onto Billy Bragg’s “Ideology” and found in it an almost perfect encapsulation of everything that’s gone wrong with Western democracy. “When one voice rules the nation, just because they’re top of the pile,” Bragg sang, a good three decades before Occupy took over Zuccotti Park. “Our politicians all become careerists. / They must declare their interests / but not their company cars. / Is there more to a seat in parliament / than sitting on your arse?” he continued, a full generation ahead of Tea Party gridlock. “Ideology” comes from what is maybe Billy Bragg’s best album, Talking With the Taxman About Poetry, and if you are looking for a model on how to slide acerbic political commentary into proletariat love songs, it is not a bad place to start.

Of course, a lot of water has gone over the dam since then, and while still politically active, Billy Bragg is no longer manning the barricades. (He has been pretty vocal, in interviews, about the need for a younger generation of artists and musicians to engage with politics and social justice.) Tooth and Nail is Bragg’s first album in five years, and like Love & Justice, which preceded it, this grapples more with personal, emotional scenarios than world politics. The CD, recorded with Joe Henry in a sepia-toned palette of Americana tones, is more country and confessional than Bragg’s best rabble-rousers. It errs occasionally on the side of tastefulness and maturity – you can easily imagine it playing at Starbucks – but still contains a good bit of Bragg’s spunky, rebellious intelligence.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Javelin's High Beams

In the synthy, trippy, sunshine-y electro vein of Cut Copy, here comes Javelin with its Hi Beams on...released on Luaka Bop (am I missing something tropical here?) this week. I can't say I'm going to listen to this over and over and over, but it's reasonably enjoyable on a rainy day that needs brightening up.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bobby Sutliff and Big Star

I spent a couple of hours this morning finishing a piece on Bobby Sutliff, the once and future Windbreakers songwriter who suffered a near fatal accident last year. Anyway, as you know if you spend much time writing, the structure of the piece kind of took over, and I could not find a way to hammer in a few very intereseting paragraphs about Bobby's fascination with (and later friendship with) Alex Chilton of Big Star. So, while I'm in a bit of a publishing dead spot with Dusted updating occasionally, Blurt off to SXSW and PopMatters...well, who ever knows what's going on at PopMatters, anyway I thought I'd share a bit of the interview and some clips of both Bobby and Mr. Chilton doing what they do (did).

Me: Can you talk about how you got into that jangly, folky, punky kind of music?

Bobby: Well, you’ve got to say, how did I get there? Being from the South. When I learned how to play guitar, I wanted to sound like…I wanted to play the blues. I still do. I’m not kidding. I don’t know how to play the blues very well. But that was the music when I was 14.

Me; You’d think that in Jackson Mississippi, you’d have the opportunity?

Bobby: I know many of them, trust me, they’re friends of mine. I used to go have lunch with Eric Clapton on a fairly regular basis. Tell me I get some kind of points for that? I knew just about everyone. Anyway, I wanted to be a blues player, but then the damnedest thing happened. A friend of mine loaned me this record, from a band north of us. They were called a silly name, Big Star. And he loaned me their second album, and it was right after it came out. I’d read about them in all the rock magazines, but you couldn’t find their records anywhere. The label went out of print almost immediately after they put it out. So I’m listening to the second album and I hear…well, it’s a perfect album. Suddenly I knew that I was not going to plahy the blues as a career. I was going to learn how to play stuff that was as good as the Beatles.

Me: What was it about Big Star?

Bobby: The singer was great. All the singers were great, but their lead singer was great. The lead guitar was better than great. The lead guitar was perfect. The drums were perfect. Everything about the band was perfect. It was the Beatles ten years later. It may have been even better. And that’s a stupid thing to say because the Beatles were like talking about god.

But anyway, this friend of mine loaned me the first two albums. The third one hadn’t come out yet. And I tried finding copies. I ended up ordering them through the mail. It was a lot of money. And by the way, I still have them. But I’ve got to tell you that not too much longer after that, I …even before, very briefly, before I hooked up with Tim Lee. John Thomas and I went to this really good concert, and he had this other friend who said, “Hey there’s this other band you might like.” It wasn’t Big Star. What was the weird band that Alec played with for a while…this after Big Star and another guy from his hometown but they were kind of a rockabilly band, Panther Burns.

But anyway, they played in Jackson, Mississippi and I went to see them. Actually I was playing with a band…I didn’t play with this particular Jackson band, but I knew they needed a bass player. So I said, I’m coming to the show anyway, I’ll play bass for free. So I ended up playing bass for a two-night show and wound up lending my amp to Alex Chilton. And that was the start of it. And Alex became one of my best friends. We would run into each other all over the country,. Whenever he was in Jackson, he would come over and play records. He was a huge Beach Boys fan. He knew them. He knew them well from being in the Box Tops. They used to open for the Beach Boys. And he would show me the chords to some of the songs. And I used to sit in with him in his solo band for years. I don’t get any points for that. He was my friend. And then…we still hung out together. It wasn’t like I was trying to impress him or anything. He was my hero. I’ve got a lot of heros. You can probably figure that out from listening to my music. It’s called copying. Okay, it’s not copying, but it’s similar.

The rest of that interview will run at some point, probably after SXSW, at Blurt.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Black Box Revelation sure doesn't sound Belgian

Another stripped-down, bass-free, blues battered duo, drowning, as one song puts it, in a sea of reverb (and elsewise sometimes extolling a young lady who is really good at swimming)...I thought that Black Box Revelation was from New Orleans (I was thinking of Black Fire Revelation) until I read the bio and found they hail from Brussels. In any case, their fiery but somehow smooth album My Perception is a pretty good ride all the way through, and out now on the Merovee label.

We have had two days of sunshine for the first time in about a month and you can hear water running everywhere as the snow melts...very nice.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Some bands just have the perfect names, you know? Like Endless Boogie with its time-bending jams, or Psychedelic Horseshit with its abrasive, pointless, dissonance, or, well, let's see Herbcraft, a band meant for the herb if any band ever was.

Astral Body Electric is this Downeastern psych outfit's second album, a blossoming, as second albums often are, from bedroom solo endeavor to full-blown band-oriented reveries. The main, extremely trippy coloring comes from founder Matt LaJoie's pedal-fucked electric, but there are also other elements -- organ, flute, voices -- that sound like the ghosts of themselves.

Astral Body Electric came out this week on Woodsist, and if you're into bands like Barn Owl, Eternal Tapestry, Spires that In the Sunset Rise etc., it's worth checking out.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ólafur Arnalds

A really beautiful electro-pop-classical album from the Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds has recently crossed my desk in For Now I Am Winter. It's the kind of record that I don't have the vocabulary to adequately describe. It builds airy, luminous landscapes out of sustained tones and strings, then sets them into whimsical motion with blipping, glitching electronic beats.

The kinetic aspect of this music will float to the surface in this video of the dancer Lil Buck interpreting an Arnalds composition...on the Colbert Report, no less.

Anyway, if you're into that whole new classical continuum -- Nico Muhly, Colin Stetson, Bang on a Can, et. al. -- this is worth checking out.

The album is out April 2 on Mercury Classics.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Does apple pie have a history?

Does it ever stay around long enough? Not at this house.

Well, okay, dumb band name, but pretty good band. Their debut reviewed today at Blurt by yours truly (who should really make an apple pie again soon.)

Out of View
(Marshall Teller)

"See You," the most recent single from London's History of Apple Pie, pits the sweetness of a young girl singing (that's Stephanie Min, backed in fragile harmony by bassist Kelly Lee Owens) against a blinding sheen of distorted guitars. It's a twee-pop song blown up in a mushroom cloud, a cross between Camera Obscura and Sonic Youth, and its biggest selling point is that it doesn't seem like a hybrid at all.

"See You" has an edge that earlier singles like "Mallory" and "You're So Cool" didn't, a willingness to let blistering instrumental feedback share sonic space with dreamy melodies. The template, obviously enough, is My Bloody Valentine, and while not even "See You" has the churn and roil of, say, "Loomer," you feel the pull of the same sweet, violent undertow.


Is "Ideology" the perfect song right now, or what?

So I'm reviewing the new BIlly Bragg album, Tooth and Nail, for Dusted, and as usual when I'm listening to his latter-day material, kind of wishing it was still 1987 and he was still brash and sardonic, and I still weighed 110 pounds and had perfect skin...but whatever. THe new record is actually not bad at all (this from a person who vehemently hated Love & Justice, the last Billy Bragg), though a bit too tasteful and mature to really matter. It's got a few good songs, one a Guthrie cover, one a Bragg protest song and one a lyrically clever, slightly twisted love song in the vein of (though not as good as) "Greetings to the New Brunette."

But what it all made me think of was how great Talking to the Taxman About Poetry and, in particular, how well "Ideology" captured our current fallen era, oh, pretty close to 30 years ago.

Check out the lyrics and see if you don't think Boehner, O'Connell, Ryan, McCain etc.

When one voice rules the nation
Just because they're top of the pile
Doesn't mean their vision is the clearest
The voices of the people
Are falling on deaf ears
Our politicians all become careerists

They must declare their interests
But not their company cars
Is there more to a seat in parliament
Than sitting on your arse
And the best of all this bad bunch
Is shouting to be heard
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

Outside the patient millions
Who put them into power
Expect a little more back for their taxes
Like school books, beds in hospitals
And peace in our bloody time
All they get is old men grinding axes

Who've built their private fortunes
On the things they can rely
The courts, the secret handshake
The Stock Exchange and the old school tie
For God and Queen and Country
All things they justify
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

God bless the civil service
The nations saving grace
While we expect democracy
They're laughing in our face
And although our cries get louder
The laughter gets louder still
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

Above the sound of ideologies,
Above the sound of ideologies,
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

Remember when Billy Bragg did Letterman and just tore the roof off the sucker?

The revolution is just a tee-shirt away!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Orange Peels' Sun/Moon

If you like power pop of the psychedelic persuasion, you really shoould check out Sun/Moon from the Orange Peels. The Orange Peels, as you may know, is Allan Clapp's band, and Allan Clapp is sort of like Anton Barbeau...a terrific songwriter and performer who makes very accessible music that a lot of people would probably like and yet, somehow mostly languishes in semi-obscurity.

The record is Kickstarter funded, so if you've got $500 to burn, you can get Allan Clapp to perform and produce your single at his own Mystery Lawn Studio. ($250 will get you a private concert in the SF Bay area.) Oh, wait, the fundraising is closed, so you can't do that anymore, too bad.

Well,maybe I should stop blathering and put up the Soundcloud?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bought a bunch of $3 records

This is two weekends in a row that I've payed cash money for music, working my way through the bargain bins at two local used CD stores. I got some good stuff, too, and because I was sort of on hiatus at both Blurt and Dusted (over now, I got assignments from both this weekend), I actually had some time to listen to the stuff.

My favorite is Graham Parker's Acid Bubblegum, the return to bile-and-amplification album for this chronically under-rated songwriter. I really like "Obsessed with Aretha" in which we learn that no one has quite as much soul as the Queen of Soul, including her latter-day, car-commercial-appearing, big-band-supporting version of herself. (But "Sharpening Axes" is pretty good, too.) Looks like the reviews on this record were mostly negative...whatever.

I also got A Date with the Smithereens, which okay, is just fair and not nearly as good as Especially For You (which I love). It does have its moments though, like "Miles from Nowhere" which is the best psychedelic Who since the Who stopped doing it round about 1969.

And I bought an early Ted Leo EP (he was still on Ace Fu at this point, whatever happened to that label?)called Treble In Trouble, mostly notable for the blistering and topical (for 2000) "Abner Louima Vs. Governor Pete Wilson".

That was weekend before last. This weekend I only bought one, which is still in my bag, but I'm kind of psyched about it. It's Railroad Jerk's 1995 EP Bang the Drum.

Oh, yeah, and despite having pirated the files, I also picked up a physical copy of Nick Cave's Push the Sky, which is my favorite thing so far this year. (It was not a $3 record.) How about you? Heard anything good lately?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mikal Cronin' MCII

This new album from Mikal Cronin (who is Ty Segall's bass player and songwriting partner) is awesome, way more power pop than Ty's stuff...reminds me of Brendan Benson and Jason Falkner (who I love, so there). I asked somebody if I could review it, either Dusted or Blurt, but nobody's getting back to me, so it looks like I might get to listen without thinking too hard about it.

Want to hear the single? Sure you do.

The album's out on Merge on May 7th.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Home by Hovercraft's theatrical pop

You know I've been immersed in theater lately, right? That my son, Sean, is anxiously awaiting answers from theater conservatory programs at CCPA, Carnegie-Mellon and Syracuse (he got into Savannah College of Art & Design, so the pressure's off a tiny bit, but still...)?

Well, okay, let's say you didn't, or that you did and you don't care, or that you hate theater and routinely ignore any discussion of it.

You might still like Home by Hovercraft.

This is a duo basically, a husband and wife, who play tuba and piano/xylophone respectively, but who, with friends, make up a whole big orchestra pit band. They also write some really wonderful, eccentric, imaginative songs -- you hear Beirut as a comparison and it's a pretty good one. The songs are out March 12 on the album Are We Chameleons?, and some of them are also part of a musical which will be performed, oh, who the hell knows when? (We have been watching Smash lately and hearing, pretty regularly, that it can take years to get a new musical on stage, so we are not expecting anything very soon.)

Okay, here's Rocket.

Looks pretty fun, live, too

This can't be good for the piano

...but the song is kinda pretty. Bill Ryder-Jones from the Coral sets up solo shop, apparently in a mud flat. The song is from A Bad Wind Blows Through My Heart (alternate title: a wave of salt water slops through my piano) which will be out on Domino on April 8th.

Glad it's the weekend, aren't you?