Friday, August 29, 2008

Paper Thin Walls RIP

One of my very favorite music web sites is going dark today...the great Paper Thin Walls, with its endless supply of mp3s and snarky headlines.

Say goodbye here

And in slightly better news, I'm interviewing Roy Harper today at noon...massive catch-up to do now. Here's a video meanwhile of Roy with some piker named Jimmy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yup, now I'm writing about breakcore...

Way off the beaten track for me, but kind of fun, this first full-length from the Detroit electro- type Todd Osborne. I asked for it because Ghostly does Skeletons and the Kings of Cities. It's very different from that, different enough that I am probably only marginally qualified to write about it. (Or, to put it more pointedly, unqualified.) Anyway, the review's from PopMatters, earlier in the week.

(Ghostly/Spectral Sound)
US release date: 13 May 2008
UK release date: 26 May 2008
by Jennifer Kelly

Big beats and slick surfaces.

"It's all outlined in my head," says DJ Todd Osborn (the "e" is only in his stage name), as "Our Definition of a Breakbeat", his process-unveiling collaboration with Ed DMX, gets into gear. "As long as I don't have an aneurysm, this song is going off without a hitch," he adds, then repeats, until it briefly becomes part of the song. It's an unlikely vocal hook, even juxtaposed against insistent handclaps, synthetic bass, and shouts. Still, it gets at the weird mix of physical and mental energy in Osborne, a wholly enjoyable though somewhat discontinuous trip through house styles of the 1980s.

Osborn is a Detroit-area electronic artist who also records under the name Soundmurderer. This is his first full-length, following the Ruling EP, which contains identical versions of four of these songs, and a handful of singles. He originally meant to call the record Multitasking, a reference not just to the album's one-guy-with-a-computer work ethic, but also the multiplicity of ideas shoe-horned between its covers. You could hardly find a more soul-slick, synthesized groove than "Ruling" or a spikier, drum-heavier percussive rant than "Afrika". It's hard to believe they come from the same guy.


MySpace streams are all I can find.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Funk get ready to roll

Another very, very good record from Pravda, the Chicago record label that issued Glenn Mercer’s solo album last year. The Diplomats of Solid Sound have been around for a while, in a very underground, garage-rock ghetto kind of way…but this time, they’ve added some female singers, which, if anybody heard the record, would probably kick them up into the lower reaches of the mainstream.

Here’s my review from Blurt…the only place a write for willing to take a chance on this…

The Diplomats of Solid Sound
Featuring the Diplomettes

Classic instrumental soul will only take you so far. Booker T and the MGs had a big solo hit in "Green Onions," but they probably made their biggest splash as the Stax house band, backing artists like Otis Redding ("Sitting on the Dock of the Bay"), Sam & Dave ("Soul Man") and Rufus Thomas ("Walking the Dog"). The Diplomats of Solid Sound, out of Iowa City, haven't found another Otis - who the hell could these days? - but they have figured out what they need to break through after ten years of laboring in garage funk obscurity: singers, girl singers, the prettier the better.

For their fourth album the Diplomats have recruited three Midwestern girls to coo and growl and strut atop their fiery Stax-ish grooves. Never mind for the moment that they're white girls or that they have no discernable track record at this sort of thing. (Sarah Cram has a self-released country album called Darlin' under her belt; the other two don't seem to have recorded previously at all.) They are, in fact, exactly what the Diplomats needed to push their sound over the top.


Can’t find any mp3s, but here are some streams from various WFMU shows
“Come In My Kitchen”

“Budget Fro”


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle Obama made me cry last night... I'm reading the blogs and people say she should have attacked more, she should have shared more personal details...I don't understand this country. I really don't.

And those Hillary people who want to vote for McCain...hello, Roe V. Wade, Supreme Court for the next 20 years, Iraq war forever unless we get bored and decide to invade Iran instead, drilling everywhere and no higher MPG standards, global warming as fast as we can get it, loss of any privacy we will have, and perhaps, a new cold it worth it just to have your little pout? You're supposed to be democrats. She lost. That's democracy. Get over it.

Okay, no more, back to music tomorrow.

Feel the burn with Thank You

Very few bands remind me at all, in any way, of my very favorite band, Oneida...even the usual ones that get trotted out, Can, the Boredoms, etc. don't seem all that closely related to me, or maybe related to one part of what I like about Oneida, without accounting for the rest. So, it's sort of an event when a band like Thank You evokes what I like about Oneida, and the Boredoms and OOIOO without copying them at all.

Here's my review in PopMatters.

Thank You
Terrible Two
(Thrill Jockey)
US release date: 22 April 2008
UK release date: 19 May 2008

by Jennifer Kelly

Thank You, a noise-spazzing trio out of Baltimore, rides an adrenaline-coursing wave. Rhythm dominates from the first tom-pounding bars of opener "Empty Legs" to the last tones of the organ-pulsing, cymbal slashing "Terrible Two". This is not music for the faint of heart or short of breath. It hauls you through a panting, heaving landscape of physical exertion. You'll be tired afterwards, possibly sweaty.

Consider, for instance, the gym-whistling, drum punishing first salvo, "Empty Legs". Tightly repetitive, manically pushed, it spatters short 4/4 patterns of drum and keyboard in ratatat machine gun bursts. Soccer-stadium blurts of "ha ha... ha ha" turn even human voices into rhythm instruments. Everything is staccato, clipped and aggressive, except for a dreamy haze of wordless vocals over top. The mix intoxicates and confounds, pummels and illuminates. It's a close cousin to the percussive epiphanies of the recent live Boredoms album or the sheer rhythmic abandon of OOIOO's Taiga.


Thank You is really difficult to Google (though not as bad as The Band or The The) I'm not sure if there really isn't any audio available besides the MySpace, or I just can't find it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Calexico...a really good one

Calexico is right back to form with their new record, Carried To Dust, which is out in about a week on Quarterstick. I was a little concerned about Garden Ruin in 2006, which seemed just a too smug and polished. Still Carried to Dust has more experiments, more genres and is generally more's almost as good as my favorite, Feast of Wire.

Also, if you get a chance to go to see Calexico, take it. This is a great band. I've seen them live a couple of times and it was always wonderful...their sound guy is a genius, balancing all those instruments. Anyway, I'd recommend Carried to Dust to all Calexico lovers and, what the hell, just about everyone else, too.

Of course, I said all that with much more style in my review, which runs slightly ahead of the curve at Dusted today:

Carried to Dust

Calexico has always been best when it slips the leash. The group’s best albums are studded with brief, weird interludes of dub, jazz and unclassifiable experiment. John Convertino and Joey Burns’ most hummable songs contain oblique but jarring imagery. The weakest Calexico records – still pretty good – hew too closely to the middle of the road, populated solely with lapidary-polished cuts of AAA-friendly melody.

The good news is that Carried to Dust is a damned fine Calexico record. It is not as startling as 2003’s Feast of Wire or 1998’s The Black Light, but it is unpredictable and contrary. Where the band’s last record, Garden Ruin, seemed relentlessly on message and disappointingly conventional, Carried to Dust represents a refreshing return to eccentricity.


The lovely and mysterious "Two Silver Trees"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Juliana Hatfield

I had a pretty good interview with Juliana Hatfield, the Boston-area singer/songwriter who started with the Blake Babies, sang some backup on my favorite Lemonheads album (It's a Shame About Ray, what a great pop record!), and now, with How To Walk Way, has recorded 10 solo albums. I really like the new one, too, most of it...very pop, just about too slick, but not quite, and there's this one song called "Just Lust" that kills me. Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs guests on one song, but you can just barely hear him...Here's the interview in yesterday's Venus online:

One door closes and another opens for Juliana Hatfield By Jennifer Kelly

Published: August 21st, 2008 | 12:05pm

Though she’s been in the music business for 20 years, Boston singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield seems a bit young to release an autobiography. Still, her new memoir, When I grow up, in tandem with her 10th full-length album, How To Walk Away, mark a definite turning point in Hatfield’s career.


And here's the video for "This Lonely Love"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fabulous Diamonds

Dusted has my review of the new Fabulous Diamonds EP, 7 Songs, today. Here’s a bit:.

Fabulous Diamonds
7 Songs (Nervous Jerk)
Seven echo-chamber grooves stretch endlessly, repetitively, on minimal, ritualistic rhythms, ghostly reverbed vocals and, for bonus points, blurts of detuned sax and organ. Drummer Nisa Venerosa sings primarily, her voice a bleached out, post-punk siren wail, unruffled by the fact that she is simultaneously whacking toms and woodblocks and cowbells. Jarrod Zlatic, the hairy one on the cover, builds the dark textures around her, in harsh sustained washes of keyboard and machine-like recorded rhythms. He also sometimes sings, with her, in unison and in primitive counterpoints (“Untitled 3”). As is often true in duos, there is a palpably charged space between the two of them, as if they are not so much listening and communicating with each other as fighting for common air.

More here

Couple of videos. Most likely both are called “Untitled”

Ravensingstheblues likes them, too. (There are a couple of mp3s at this post.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Whores, trains and scrap metal

Last year's 30 Year Low by the Mendoza Line was one of rock and roll's great divorce albums, right up there with Shoot out the Lights. (I don't actually know any other divorce albums, do you?) Shannon McArdle wrote most of the best songs for the album, spitting mad, funny songs about an under-30 rival who "wore a kittie on her shirt", among others, and she's back now with a much more subdued, sort of disturbing post-divorce album, reviewed in today's PW.

Shannon McArdle
Summer of the Whore (Bar None)

Rating: Solid, like the Liberty Bell.

After the divorce chronicled by Mendoza Line’s 30 Year Low, newly solo Shannon McArdle tries out all the break-up recovery strategies: revenge fantasies, self-pity and rebound sex. Still, when McArdle murmurs, “You can have me in the back of your car/You can have me anywhere” in the title cut, it doesn’t sound like she expects to enjoy it much. There’s a remove to these songs—even “He Was Gone” about a lost baby—like strong feelings filtered through thick glass, or maybe antidepressants. An incisive lyricist, McArdle gets post-relationship inertia exactly right. Problem is, nobody really wants to go there. (Jennifer Kelly)

A taste, though probably not good for you..."Poison My Cup"

This is fun, too, and not just because it's Project Jenny Project Jan (almost by definition a work in progress). They're backed by So Percussion, the avant-drumming outfit that recently charged $50 a ticket to people who wanted to watch them bang on scrap metal while riding a train from Brattleboro to Bellows Falls. Conceptually, interesting, but damn, hard on the wallet...

Anyway, onward here's the song, which is called "You Said"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The lord giveth, the lord taketh away...

Kind of a good news bad news blog today, but let's start with the good news.

WFMU blog is always one of my favorite time-wasters, but today is especially great there, because they have posted a whole bunch of free MP3s from Portland-area bands. I can vouch personally for Minmae, Minor Thirds, and Au, and I have no doubt that the WFMU crew, who have far better taste than I do, are right about the rest of them, too.

Here's the link.

And in less happy news, has apparently shut down due to a run in with the evil RIAA. Next, I hear, the RIAA is going after kids who write the names of bands on their school notebooks. Big money there.

Anyway, that sucks, and it's probably going to motivate me, eventually, to make another mix and put it up on sendspace.

Hope you're enjoying the ass-end of summer. It's raining here, again, but we are sleeping late and hanging out and not writing a whole hell of a lot of music reviews here. (And, sort of incongruously, catching up via DVD on the complete works of Anton Chekov, more on that perhaps later.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

West Side Story...all weekend long

Most this weekend, I spent either at my son's production of "West Side Story" or driving there or home or waiting around for it to finish. My parents came out for the weekend. The electricity went out in the kitchen. By Sunday afternoon, I pretty much wanted to shoot myself...but it's over now, and let me just emphasize: the show could not have been better. Sean had a fairly small part, but he did really, really some kind of award from the director afterwards, and I think next time he may get a little more to do.

There's a DVD of Sean's production, but I don't have it yet, and anyway, not sure about the ethics of posting other kids faces on the web without their parents permission. (Or if it comes to that, putting my kid's photo up here for anyone to look at.) But here's a clip of the "Jets" song from the movie:

Sean was mostly a Jet, though it was an interesting production, where they tried to make sure that *all* the kids had an opportunity to be a Jet and a Shark, so that they would see both sides of the story. They did a lot of discussion groups about the issues in the play -- racism, sexism, urban violence, neglected kids. I think it was probably a real education just in those learning how to sing and dance like that, amazing.

I had a bunch of review records last month that were fine and interesting enough in their own ways...but not enough to justify all the work that was going into listening to them and trying to write about them. (Badly, for the most part. It's much easier to write about something you love or hate than something you just feel blah about.) Anyway, here's one of them, maybe the last one in a string.

LD & the New Criticism
Amoral Certitudes

US release date: 3 July 2007
UK release date: Available as import

by Jennifer Kelly

LD Beghtol, of Flares, is maybe best known for his work with Magnetic Fields, and particularly for the “Field Guide” he wrote for that 3-disc opus, a song-by-song commentary on Flares member Stephin Merritt’s work. Not many songwriters have their own dedicated explicators, so Beghtol, in his own work, must perform both functions, both writing the filmy, lo-fi tunes that bear his name and, within their lyrics, commenting on them. His statement of purpose, comes right up front, in the brief “Love Theme from LD and TNC”, when he says “It’s the song, not the singer/It’s the bell, not the ringer/It’s the text, not the guy who penned it/Now this one is done/So I’ll end it.” That’s an argument for close textural reading, an approach hinted at in the band name New Criticism. And why not, when there are ironic, self-referential nuggets embedded into nearly every line? “AKA Paradise” one-ups the world-weary with a winking, “Don’t tell me you’ve heard this all before/’Cause I’ve heard that ten too many times,” while short “Light Verse”, sums art and posterity in a sly brace of couplets, “The history of light verse/Is a bitter one, and terse/As life, unlike this song/Simply goes on far too long.” Not all the songs are quite so self-contained and smirky, though. “What You Will,” opens up nicely thanks to the soft country singing of Dana Kletter, while the Lisa Germano cover, “If I Think of Love”, imbues its thesaurus dump of words with wistful feeling. Brainy, intricate and faintly provocative, these are not so much songs as quotation-bracketed essays on pop.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two from folk's dark side

I've got an interview with Juliana Hatfield in 45 minutes, so not much are a couple of freak-folk-ish items from this week's Philadelphia Weekly, a show preview for Jana Hunter and a short review of the new Death Vessel (which I like okay, but not as much as Stay Close).

Jana Hunter
Fri., Aug. 15, 8pm.
With the Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez + Lillie Ruth Bussey.
M Room,
15 W. Girard Ave.

Got demons? Jana Hunter, the Texas folk blues songwriter discovered a few years ago by Devendra Banhart, knows all about them. She made her mark with the sunny “Farm California,” an otherworldly highlight of the freak-folk defining Golden Apples compilation. Since then, though, she’s been staring pretty directly at the void, singing harrowing songs like “Pinnacle” in a rough, husky voice that recalls Karen Dalton. She’s stunning on her own, but this time, she’s touring with a full band, including Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, the Baltimore folk picker who also opens the show. (Jennifer Kelly)

Some Daytrotter Session songs:

"A Goblin, A Goblin"


Death Vessel
Nothing is Precious Enough for Us (Sub Pop)

Rating: Solid, like the Liberty Bell.

Joel Thibodeau’s old-fashioned tenor may be the latest to earn the coveted Antony “Sounds Like a Girl” Award, but there’s much more here than gender oddity. Although less overtly old-timey than 2005’s Stay Close, Nothing Is Precious incorporates liberal doses of country sounds like acoustic guitar, banjo and shuffling snare. The best cuts infuse this delicate sensibility with fire. First single “Bruno’s Torso” flutters melodically over sepia-toned guitar, then digs in with power chords that rip through the nostalgia, while “Circa” floats big fluffy church choir harmonies over clanging guitar and pounding drums. (Jennifer Kelly)

"Bruno's Torso"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In Xanandu did Kublai Khan a stately pleasure dome decree

My long-awaited portrait of the great King Khan's in today's PopMatters.

King Khan & the Shrines + Live Fast Die
30 July 2008: The Iron Horse — Northampton, MA

When King Khan enters, after an extended jazzy vamp, all thunking bass and blast of horns, he’s wearing a glittery cape and mask…and why not?

King Khan has never been in Northampton before, and he is pretty sure he doesn’t like it.

It starts even before his massive band takes the stage, when he, still in Bermuda shorts and truckers hat, harangues us to get closer for the opening act, New Hampshire-scuzz punkers Live Fast Die. “C’mon, that’s the worst thing you can do…stand in the back,” he importunes. “Don’t sit at the tables. Don’t be like that.” Muttering darkly (and inexplicably, since we’re in Massachusetts) about “people from New Hampshire,” he has us pegged as recalcitrant squares right from the beginning.

Fair enough. He comes from Montreal and lived in Europe, both wilder, crazier scenes, places where, quite possibly, women don’t stand there like they’ve “got a poker up their pussies.” We are trying, to limits of our straightened abilities, to have the kind of good time that King Khan insists on…but we may just not be capable of it; so, sorry. It’s New England. People have been trying to get us to loosen up for centuries.

The funny thing is, it just about works.


Visit King Khan's MySpace

And Live Fast Die's, too. I don't think they're really from NH, regardless of what it says on their page.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What the hell decade is it anyway?

Here are reviews of a couple of pop records, one bedroom-esque, early 1990s Britpop in tone, the other late 1960s retro, both quite enjoyable.

From today’s Dusted:

Kids Aflame

Arms, the lo-fi solo project from Harlem Shakes guitarist Todd Goldstein, asserts the primacy of melody over arrangement, and intelligence over expertise. The songs are constructed out of the simplest materials: a smattering of drums, a slash or two of guitars, a questing, vibrato-laced tenor that’s always a half-step from breaking. Still the tools in play mask the skill it takes to construct sly, winning songs like these, infused by sensibility that is as individual as DNA.

Instrumentally, Arms is all fuzz and clatter, splayed power chords and strung-out jangle. Goldstein, the guitarist, pursues the reckless good-enough aesthetic of mid-1990s lo-fi. Vocally, though, there’s a hint of Morrissey, tremulous ironies looped into manicured music hall flourishes, mordant slyness played for broad laughs. It’s a studied sort of singing, calculated, elegant, effete and well at odds with the offhand bedroom pop that hisses and fractures around it.



The MySpace

And, in what I hope is my most clumsily written review of the 2008 (though there are still four months to go, so don’t bank on it), the excellent Starling Electric is bludgeoned to death with misplaced adjectives and endless clauses. Still that’s my fault. The record is very, very good…Here’s the Blurt review, the kind of the thing makes you vow to proofread stuff for at least a week afterwards.

Starling Electric
Clouded Staircase
(Bar None)

“The good news is that Starling Electric, out of Ann Arbor, may have recorded the wistful-sweet album of the summer here, balancing drifty, hallucinogenic hooks with beefy surges of guitar. It's not hard to see why Jon Auer is such a fan -- just check the massive, fuzz-coated guitar that opens "St. Valentines Day Massacre" or the delicate, folk-modal melody that erupts from it, just like those Posies melodies used to drift out of amp-blitzed pop riffs. Or why it appeals to Robert Pollard, who invited the band on a whim to open for him in 2006. Surely he heard something of himself in Starling Electric's power-chorded whimsies like "Black Ghost/Black Girl." You can make other, older connections, too -- to the fey tunefulness of the Zombies, the elaborately instrumented pop of the Left Banke, the Gaudi-fanciful pop towers of Love.”


Kind of entertaining video of St. Valentine's Day Massacre


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Priorities, man, priorities

There’s a fairly active debate in the music writing world about whether writers should cover music because it’s good (rockism) or because it’s popular and people want to read about it (popism). I may have oversimplified…it’s very nearly as complicated as the Albigensian heresy at this point, and just as silly. Though as far as I know, no one has been burned at the stake yet.

But in any case, I am having my own little rockist rebellion today, because I had this record called Dark Smaland, by the Instruments, which was totally excellent. It was so good that I decided that rather than a pathetic little 150 word review that no one would read, it deserved a longer take…PopMatters didn’t agree. They didn’t cut the review, but they didn’t allow it a full-length slot either. Straight to the “short takes” ghetto. So screw them and their trendy little essays on much-hyped albums that blow and no one will care about in six months. Here’s my Instruments review.

Dark Smaland
Orange Twin

Surely one of the year’s best experimental pop records, Dark Småland enlists a long list of familiar names from the mid-1990s Athens, Georgia scene. Heather McIntosh, who has played cello on any number of Elephant 6 albums, is this time at the center of the action, writing, singing, arranging and playing. Her main support comes from Olivia Tremor Control drummer Eric Harris, whose abstract rhythms pace these songs and push them into unusual corners, as well as guitarist Derek Almstead, an Elephant 6 mainstay who has played with Of Montreal, Elf Power, Marshmallow Coast, and a long list of others. Other Athens regulars drop in for a song or two; even the reclusive Jeff Magnum sings a few harmonies.

Still, all that bold-facing would mean nothing if the songs were not so beautiful—and they are. For one thing, they’re arranged invitingly in cycle that flows one to another like a lucid dream that could not go any other way. For another, they have the same natural, wholesome loveliness of trees and seascapes, whether they are capturing the blurry, nocturnal melancholy of deepening twilight, or clarity of sun-drenched forests.

Dark Småland feels, if not conceptual, at least broadly linked together. There’s an arc to this record, a natural progression, so that it opens with the cello-rich, ocean-breezy sweep of “Ode to the Sea”, picks up rhythmic intensity in “Sounds Electric” and the instrumental “Arabesque”, then slows for the deep magic shadows of “Cello Ballad”, and finally dawns gently and hallucinogenically in “Northern Skies”. This latter cut is one of the album’s loveliest, and most redolent of Circulatory System, not surprising perhaps, given that all three principals played on that band’s sole album.

Still, this is no rehash, nor nostalgia trip, but rather a very original venture into cello-rich, visionary pop landscapes. McIntosh might have learned a thing or two about bending pop into psychedelia, or about adding instrumental density without weight to her arrangements from the Elephant 6 clique. But the songs, bright and beautiful, are her own.

“Ode to the Sea”

“Sounds Electric”

And here’s the full-length that they ran the same day about an album which, in my humble view, blows:

Douglas Armour
The Light of a Golden Day, the Arms of the Night
(Social Registry)
US release date: 20 May 2008
UK release date: 20 May 2008
by Jennifer Kelly

Dance, You Sad Bastard

The Social Registry label has long been known for arty, experimental bands like Gang Gang Dance, Sian Alice, and Growing—challenging, rule-breaking outfits that sometimes fail but even then do so in an arresting, thought-provoking way. It’s an outpost for edgy, dissonant musical bomb-throwing to the point where some reviewers (okay me) will gladly sign up for whatever they’re peddling. Douglas Armour, an LA-based electro songwriter, fits into this aesthetic uncomfortably to say the least. If his whisker-thin pop breaks a rule at all, it’s the rule that Social Registry’s bands should be interesting.

More here

The MySpace, but really don’t bother…

Monday, August 11, 2008

Two legends, one dead, one still here

One of soul’s greats, Isaac Hayes, passed away over the weekend, way too young, apparently collapsed over a treadmill…here’s a video of “Shaft” his best known song, well-beloved by guitar players learning how to use the wah wah and drummers seeking out that perfect 70s hi hat sound…What a great song. (I know he recorded a lot of other stuff, probably some of it better on objective terms, but this is my favorite, so there…)

I’m trying to figure out how to get guest listed for a September show in Northampton at which everybody’s favorite Northampton guitar wizard will reprise his 1995 solo album Psychic Hearts. I’m listening to the final, epic track “Elegy for All the Dead Rocks” on the headphones right now, and it’s (let’s see if I can say this without the “f” word) transportingly, annihilatingly great. …You folks will have to make due with this video of the title track, though.

Thurston Moore’s “Psychic Hearts”

As usual, Mr. Moore has assembled a really interesting set of opening acts.

Little Claw, who can be glimpsed in performance somewhere in Mexico here

And, Siltbreeze’s Eat Skull, who seem not to have left much trace on the web except for this MySpace page

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New stuff from Roedelius

Hans-Joachim Roedelius, sometimes called "the quiet man of Krautrock", anticipated much of ambient electronic music and trip hop with in his 1970s work with Cluster and Harmonia. He's got a new record out with Ohio composer Tim Story (they've recorded together as Lunz), which I reviewed in yesterday's Blurt.


Krautrock innovator Rodelius, now in his mid-seventies, seems to have journeyed through a half century’s worth of musical styles and experiments – with Kluster, Cluster, Harmonia and Brian Eno – to arrive at absolute simplicity. His third collaboration with American electronic composer Tim Story aligns liquid piano motifs with a shifting counterpoint of organic-sounding electronics. For example, the title track, “Inlandish,” juxtaposes the organic melancholy of traditional piano with a soft ambience of just-audible electronic manipulations, burbles of synth and subliminal hiss. Similarly, “Trouvé”’s melancholy piano chords are joined to electronic keyboard tones and tremulous, shivery washes of sound.

More here

“As It Were”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The OC (not that one), boob scotch and Steve Earle’s kid

Bunch of stuff up at Philadelphia Weekly today, all happily from artists who are giving away free mp3s…enjoy.

Oxford Collapse
Bits (Sub Pop)

Rating: Solid, like the Liberty Bell.

The OC’s fourth bangs out clangorous old-style indie rock à la Superchunk and Archers of Loaf with a shit-eating, not completely ironic grin. Bits is more disciplined than 2006’s Remember the Night Parties, but just as scruffily exuberant. The guitar scramble and detuned harmonies of “Young Love Delivers” will take you back to early 1990s college rock, while loosely strung “Featherbeds” harks to the golden age of Flying Nun. There’s a cello nattering away on acoustic “A Wedding,” but mostly this is the guitar-centric indie rock you packed up in cartons two decades ago. Nice to see it back. (Jennifer Kelly)

“The Birthday Wars”

Bob Log III
Wed., Aug. 6, 8pm. $10. With Scott H. Biram + Left Lane Cruiser. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave. 215.739.9864.

“Hey, you got your boob in my scotch.” Yes, that’s what the scratchy voice from inside the motorcycle helmet just said. You heard it right. But really, scotch seems a touch refined, because if guitar blues were a liquor, Bob Log III would be Everclear, as industrial-grade strong and harsh as it gets. The monkey-pawed avatar of Bukka White bangs out mammary-obsessed, scatologically vivid songs on a pawn shop guitar/bass/drum contraption that might be miked with jumper cables. Tom Waits, well acquainted with eccentricity himself, called Log’s music “the loudest, strangest stuff I ever heard.” Likely you’ll just call for another drink, boobs and all. (Jennifer Kelly)

“Boob Scotch”

“Log Bomb”

Justin Townes Earle
Tues., Aug. 12, 8pm. $15. With Lucero + Glossary. North Star, 27th and Poplar sts. 215.787.0488.

It can’t have been easy growing up as the son of seven-times married, substance-addicted country legend Steve Earle—or stepping out of his considerable shadow, for that matter. Yet today, after beating his own drug problem and recording two remarkable albums, Justin Townes Earle seems to have survived remarkably well. He’s more traditional than his dad—or his other namesake Townes Van Zandt—hitching sepia-toned melodies to banjo, pedal steel, string bass and drums. Yet his latest The Good Life breathes new life into prewar country traditionalism, infusing old-time shuffles with rowdiness and finding the aching center of ballads like “Lone Pine Hill.” (J.K.)

Some live recordings from

“Lone Pine Hill”

“Your Biscuits Are Big Enough for Me” (which seems oddly compatible with “Boob Scotch”, see above)

“Turn Out My Lights”

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Still here, still listening to music

No reviews, but here's some stuff I've been enjoying lately off the clock...

Pravda Records, the label that put out Glenn Mercer's very excellent solo album out last year, sent me a new record by the Diplomats of Solid Sound...Featuring the Diplomettes. It's sort of a funk-garage-soul kind of thing...if you're into Booker T & the MGs, Sharon Jones, you should check it out. My favorite cut is this killer remix of "Hurt Me So" at the end. We've been listening to it in the car all summer.

Here's a video of the Diplomats (and Diplomettes) performing "Lights Out"

Vivian Girls are a new garage band out on In the Red...that judging by one MP3 and this video, I'm probably going to like a lot:

And finally, Angela Desveaux, a country-ish singer out of Montreal, has a new album called The Mighty Ship coming on Thrill Jockey this of Neko, Laura Cantrell, etc. should check this out.

Maybe tomorrow somebody will run a review or something, who knows?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Like the Windmils of My Mind

Okay, let’s come clean. I have been in a bit of a slump lately, in terms of finding music that excites me. This morning I realized I had mostly blown through my iPod earphones, so that pretty much everything sounds tinny and awful, so that might be part of it. And, no question, I have been running full-out, reviewing 4-7 records a week for a while and even my week up in Montreal wasn’t enough to get me hungry for new tunes again.

But despite all this – which maybe explains my indifference to a whole string of records that other people like – I did really enjoy a new record by the British bedroom act known as Windmill, which balances a cutting-sharp, high voice against the conventional pop elements of strings and piano…very odd, very nice.

Puddle City Racing Lights
(Friendly Fire)

There’s a doomed romanticism running across these songs, as if Matthew Thomas Dillon (aka Windmill) was the only living organism left in a dead-white plastic universe. He is, not surprisingly, upset about this, his nervy, piccolo-sharp voice raised in anguished protest of fluorescent lights, airport departure lounges and plasticine earplugs. His voice is so razory, so unusual (though Wayne Coyne is obviously a reference point) that it cuts through lush arrangements of piano and strings and bangs right up against the limits of song.

More here

Tokyo Moon

And I also had a pretty good time at King Khan and the Shrines, which I’m going to try to write about today, but meanwhile a couple of photos. (Probably not good enough for PM, but you get the idea.)

And one of the NY-area punk band Live Fast Die whose general bent may be suggested by the fact that they closed with the Ramones "Do You Wanna Dance"