Monday, August 31, 2009

Peter Walker's raga resurgence

The Free Music Archive has a new mp3 from Peter Walker, the long-lost raga master who made three cds in the 1960s then, more or less disappeared for 30 years. (He was working on his licks in, among other places, the gypsy caves around Granada.)

It's about his friend, Karen Dalton, who was no slouch herself.

"Tune on Karen Dalton's Guitar"

If you haven't been harangued into reading my Peter Walker interview from a couple of years ago, what are you waiting for?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sleeping is so underrated

My son, Sean, just started high school on Wednesday, which means, among other things, that he has to catch a 6:22 a.m. bus and we are all getting up at 5:30 to see him off. (I believe they start early so as to get the kids home early in the afternoon, so they have a couple of hours to smoke pot and have sex before their parents get home.) Anyway, it’s been a little rough, getting used to this, though it does seem to make the day considerably longer and I’ve been getting a bunch of stuff done. What it makes really, really hard is going out at night, but last night I went anyway.

I went to see Black Moth Super Rainbow and Soundpool and had a really surprisingly good time. BMSR is, apparently hugely more popular than I knew…there was a line around the block to get in, and everybody in it was half my age…except for some people right behind me who seemed mostly to go to more established stuff (they were talking about the Allman brothers and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears) and were probably still younger, but less so.

I would highly, highly recommend going to see BSMR if you get a chance…everything airy and candy-colored and trippy about their sound solidifies and becomes a lot heavier on stage. You get way more of a sense of the bass and drums (the drummer is terrifically good, almost a break-beat style, very hard and dry and syncopated) and they have a pretty amusing video show projected onto a bedsheet behind them. Soundpool was also pretty good, though more pop, sort of an Asobi Seksu…School of Seven Bells-ish female-vocals, shoegaze-y thing with, again, an excellent funk-centric drum/bass underpinning and some pretty wild effect-y stuff going on with the guitar. It’s definitely got some disco, some super pop, but also shades of kraut and MBV…wish I could have heard it better and knew the music going in.

I’ll be writing more about all that later, but in the meantime, here’s a video of each

Oh, and this was cool, my son and my husband let me sleep through the 5:30 call this morning, and I feel like a human being again today. Also no football or anything until Tuesday, so maybe we will sleep in and go to the movies this weekend.

BMSR’s “Born on a Day in the Sun”

Soundpool’s “The Divides of March”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Somebody else reviews the new JOMF at Dusted

You can’t write about friends at Dusted, or at least you’re not supposed to. In fact, you’re not supposed to write about people you occasionally exchange emails with or see around town which, for me, probably knocks out Michael Yonkers, Reid Paley, Chris Brokaw, Amargosa, Black Swans and the Man Man dudes…But mostly, it excludes my friend Michael Dustdevil, who plays a fairly prominent role on the new Jackie-O Motherfucker record, reviewed by Daniel Levin Baker today at Dusted.

Hey, at least someone did it. He says:

Jackie-O Motherfucker is, at this point, one of life’s little inevitabilities. We can just kind of assume that Tom Greenwood, with a revolving cast of wayfarers who do their time with him in between more refined/less catchall projects (see Adam Forkner and Honey Owens, for two), will continue to follow some erratic astral muse, and that we’ll never go for too long without a new slab of exemplary industrio-rural drone to chew on, some more infallible, sun-deprived grooves for our campfires in outer space. No good reason to want it any other way.

The rest

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shelley Short

I’ve been enjoying the very quiet, very beautiful fourth CD from Portland’s Shelley Short. It’s called A Cave, A Canoo, and it’s coming out on Hush Records (who had the Decemberists before they got noticed) in October. Ms. Short has a voice as sleepy soft as puppy fur – she might remind you a little bit of Casey Dienel – but there’s a kind of jazzy sophistication underneath it. Nicely done…here’s the free mp3 from her website. It’s called “Time Machine/Submarine”.

There are some other mp3s from earlier CDs here as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cool stuff I won’t be reviewing…

I’ve been listening to a big pile of CDs lately, most of them too late, too obscure or too popular to be reviewed…I seem to be off for the month at Dusted, so maybe I’ll just start posting about them here.

Volcano Choir, Unmap…Bon Iver was certainly the most popular record on my last year’s best list, and to be honest, I felt a little uncomfortable being on the same page with all those hipsters, no matter how lovely the record was. Here’s the cure, a new collaboration between Justin Vernon and the very avant Collections of Colonies of Bees. It has the same ghostly falsetto as Bon Iver, but a more open-ended and freeform instrumental structure…very beautiful and strange. It’s on Secretly Canadian, which is giving away this mp3 of “Island, IS”

The Reigning Sound, Love and Curses…another great one from Greg Cartwright, mixed with a lot more emphasis on the melody than Too Much Guitar…this guy is one of the best musicians working right now, and damn, I’m only halfway through the first time before I start to think about reshuffling my top 10. The turning point was “If I Can’t Come Back,” BTW. Here’s a preview video.

Shannon Stephens, The Breadwinner...really wonderful songwriter album by a long-time friend and former band-mate of Sufjan Stevens (where has he been, anyway?) Out next month on Asthmatic Kitty.

“In Summer in the Heat”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Risil, Non Meters, Vol. 1

Just discovered (like ten minutes ago) this very cool new electronic collaboration with contributors from Prefuse 73 (Guillermo Herren), Hella (Zach Hill), Battles (Tyondai Braxton), Tortoise (John McEntire) and others, we’ll have to think of some genre-tag with post- in it, eventually, but it’s not post-rock. The album’s out now on Important Records, which is sharing a few mp3s.

“There Has to Be”

“Everyone Else’s World”

“Oxygen Path”

The label page, if you want to learn more or buy or whatever…

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Bar-None is reissuing the first two Feelies albums, Crazy Rhythms from 1980 and The Good Earth from 1986. Both are quite good, but so different that they might almost be from different bands. I belabor this point endlessly in my review, which is up today at Dusted.

You can also read my interview with Glenn Mercer from a couple of years ago, if you want.

Or just skip to the music.

“Crazy Rhythms”

The Battery Park show, July 4th, 2008

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Catching up on my Blurt stuff

My not entirely positive review of David Berman’s graphic book, The Portable February

My take on Choir of Young Believers’ This Is For the White In Your Eyes

“Not exactly a choir, but rather like one angelic voice defines this Danish orchestral pop project. The voice belongs to Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, once the guitar player for synth-poppy Lake Placid, now part of experimental psych outfit Mit Nye Band. But even if you're a habitué of Copenhagen's indie rock scene, those names will hardly prepare you for Choir of Young Believers. Think instead of the fragile soul-stirring of Talk Talk's quiet moments blowing up somehow into giant Coldplay-ish pop triumphs. Through it all, there is that voice, cool in tone, fluttery with feeling, embellished at times with blue-eyed soul slides and flourishes and at others cutting through masses of strings with the high, melodically charged certainty of an indie Roy Orbison.”

"Action Reaction"

A review of the second collaboration between Helena Espvall of Espers and Masaki Batoh of Ghost. It’s called Overloaded Ark.

“A year ago, the self-titled collaboration between Espers' Helena Espvall and Ghost's Masaki Batoh looked a lot like mom, bucolically serene, folk-centric and gentle. Now little brother Overloaded Ark comes along and rights the balance, bearing a stronger resemblance to Ghost's impish rhythmic gambols and tending more towards unstructured, unvocaled free improvisations than songs.”

“Suenos Con Serpientes”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Akron at Night in tall Vetiver Grass…

Three of my reviews went up today at PureMusic.

My #1 or #2 so far…Akron/Family’s Set ‘Em Wild Set ‘Em Free

The dependably wonderful Vetiver’s Tight Knit

And a kinda magic lo-fi disco debut from a young lady going by the name of Nite Jewel

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chrome Cranks

I was in kind of a time warp last week, listening repeatedly to the first two Feelies albums (more about that later, but what a way to spend a slice of August) and the Chrome Cranks reissue Murder of Time (1993-1996). The review of this latter album, which went up on Friday at Blurt, enthuses about the band’s “ unholy mix of punk, blues, rockabilly and noise”.

You can read the whole review here.

Here are the Chrome Cranks playing “Lost Time Blues” at Santos House in NYC in May

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Very cool stuff from Tonstartssbandht, a duo who are getting a lot of play on WFMU (I did a short post a couple of weeks ago after hearing a song there), and are, otherwise, a bit of a mystery.

I’m sort of excited about covering them early, with a review of their An When at Dusted. I said that the record, “bridges Animal Collective-ish choral clangor with lo-fi droning space rock, slips in Disney references and sly nods to Big Country, Spaceman 3 and the Police, yet remains completely original. An When is that rare sui generic kind of record, which sounds both perfectly current and unlike anything else you might be listening to at the moment.”

More on Tonstartssbandht, including how to pronounce the name, at the full review.

There’s a post with MP3s at Raven Sings the Blues.

The MySpace

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Those Darlins

This is the TN-based trio of rowdy country ladies, not the NYC-based garage rockers (Darlings), with a pretty fun debut which I called “as raw and sassy as Wanda Jackson in her prime.” There’s a song about coming home drunk and eating a whole chicken, which I don’t know why…really appealed to me.
Anyway, you can find that review here.

“Red Light Love”

Daytrotter session with Those Darlins’

There's a Those Darlins' song on my mix from June, which is probably still downloadable, if you're interested.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Six Organs of Admittance

Ben Chasny’s latest is what you’d expect (acoustic guitar) but also not what you’d expect (lots of electronic experimentation)…it’s also really beautiful. My review, which I wrote months ago because it also went into the fall print edition, is up now on the Blurt website.

Also, Dusted is doing this really interesting feature where artists get to react to their reviews, and last week it was Ben Chasny talking about his very album (but not this very review). Take a look here.

“The Ballad of Charlie Harper”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Best of the 00s

I hear that Pitchfork is putting together a two-month review of the zero decade, where we will inevitably read about how great Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Broken Social Scene and Fleet Foxes were all over again. So I thought it would be fun (and maddening…and impossible) to make a list of my favorite albums from the 2000s. I’d say that they are roughly in order, though it’s hard to really do a comparison test between some of these albums, which I love with all my limited ability and not in percentage terms. Also, I’m not saying they’re the best and certainly not the most important, just the ones I love the most.

Love to see yours…sure I’ve forgotten four or five of mine, as well. Look for a stream of apologetic updates starting right about ….now.

Dirtbombs, Ultraglide in Black
Oneida, Secret Wars
Kelley Stoltz, Antique Glow
David Kilgour, A Feather in the Engine
Devendra Banhart Rejoicing in the Hands
The National, Boxer
Mr. Airplane Man, C’mon DJ
Liars, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Put a Monument On Top
White Stripes, White Blood Cells
Queens of the Stone Age, R
Calexico, Feast of Wire
Wrens, Meadowlands
Jay Reatard, Blood Visions
Reigning Sound Too Much Guitar
Consonant Love & Affliction
Akron/Family, Set ‘Em Wild Set ‘Em Free
Bellrays Let It Blast
Mylab , Mylab
Vetiver, Vetiver
Espers The Weed Tree
Califone Roots & Crowns
Mission of Burma, The Obliterati
Calla Televise
Clinic, Internal Wrangler
Ponys, Laced with Romance

Malcolm Middleton

Malcolm Middleton is the other half of Arab Strap, and like Aidan Moffat, he's got a solo album out this year, which is dark, funny and moving -- altogether worth listening. Here's a bit from my Dusted review, which went up today.

Malcolm Middleton’s fifth (and, according to some interviews, last) solo album revisits A Brighter Beat’s vertiginous juxtapositions of self-doubt and synthesizer pop, of jangling indie rock and foul-mouthed depression. This is, after all, the songwriter that hitched one of his jauntiest hooks to a chorus of “We’re all going to die now,” and made some want to dance to it. With Waxing Gibbous, he’s back at it, sitting morosely, like a poison spider, at the center of tweener-pink concoctions of pop, electro, folk and rock. And he’s so good at the bitter-sweet, happy-sad connection that it may take a spin or two before you hear much beyond good-time pop.


"Carry Me"

"Subset of the World" my favorite from Waxing Gibbous can be found towards the end of my august mix.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Box Elders

Never been so glad to see a Monday, here's my review of the Nebraskan garage pop band called The Box Elders.

Two brothers from Omaha and an organ-playing drummer make up the Box Elders. Their set-up, like their sound, gets the most from bare minimum components, churning fuzzy, sloppy, pop that seems to emerge from some 1960s vintage rec room or basement. The brothers – Clayton and Jeremiah McIntyre – sing in haphazard unison over jangling Nuggets guitar licks and calliope fills of thrift shop organs (that’s multi-tasker Danny Goldberg with one hand on the keys, the other clutching a drumstick). Lyrics flit from classic done-me-wrong love stories (“Ronald Dean”) to carpe diem eschatology (“2012”) to snarky love-through-death songs (“Necro” turns roller-rink organ gambols into funeral home trills). Nothing is nailed down. Nothing is entirely serious. It’s all in fun – and it is fun, fortunately. When this sort of thing falls flat, it’s dreadful.

Here they are playing "Hole in My Head"

Friday, August 7, 2009

I know about Pastels, but what's a Tenniscoat?

Really pretty new cross-continental collaboration between Scotland's Pastels and Japan's Tenniscoats has resulted in this cover of Jesus & Mary Chain's "About You."

The album Two Sunsets is coming out on Domino September 22, and it's just the thing for Sunday morning.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Coupla new reviews

Boy, did Dusted ever hate Nurses...personally, I kind of liked it, and didn't get so much freak folk as whatever Arcade Fire is...but whatever, in my Blurt review, I said:

“Nurses lavish lush, Beach-Boy aspiring vocals atop brittle minimalist percussion in a bedroom psychedelia that will remind you of Arcade Fire for its exuberance, of Panda Bear for its disheveled artfulness.”

“Caterpillar Playground”

And I also reviewed Marmoset's Tea Tornado, which figures on yesterday's mix.

Marmoset started out during the first big lo-fi craze, the mid-1990s days when GBV, Pavement and Sebadoh ruled the earth (or at least college radio). The band - Jorma Whittaker on bass and vocals, Dave Jablonski on guitar and Jason Cavan on drums -- had the loose-knit tuneful-ness of Pollard's band, the tarnished innocence of icons like Beat Happening, the slurred rock fuzziness of the Velvet Underground, yet never really put it over the top. Marmoset achieved a certain amount of acclaim for its 2001 Record in Red and again for 2007's Florist Fired, but these interludes of praise have been widely separated. Tea Tornado appears to be Marmoset's fourth full-length in 14 years. It comes, for better or worse, at the tail end of another lo-fi explosion, one that will most likely do Marmoset as little good as the first one. This is really too bad, since Tea Tornado is a prickly gem of an album, full of slanting slacker grooves and flickering surreal imagery. It slouches along unobtrusively, half-tuned vocals slipping over splayed out strums, unkempt charm glinting through fuzz and hiss.

The rest.

"Peach Cobbler"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Mix for August

So, what have I been listening to this summer? Hah, glad you asked.

DL here.

Track listing:

Dry Spells’ “Rhiannon”…yes, the Stevie Nicks song, got a problem with that?
Lights’ “Can You Hear Me”…fantastic second album from the Brooklyn freak-folk Lights, not the girl from Canada
Marmoset’s “He’s Been Napping”…a band that got left behind by lo-fi’s first wave (GBV, Pavement) now takes a shot at the second (Blank Dogs, Crystal Stilts), really nice album, very early 1990s
Grand Duchy’s “Fort Wayne”…hey, that sounds like Frank Black, and he’s singing about my hometown!
Susana Baca’s “Los Lagartos”…afro Peruvian diva singing words by Garcia Lorca, very nice…from Seis Poemas, out on Luaka Bop in a couple of weeks.
Rosie Flores’ “Halfway Home” Austin rockabilly/country/tex-mex diva singing a Jon Langford song, with Langford playing backup. The album Girl of the Century coming in November on Bloodshot.
Hoots & Hellmouth’s “What Good are Ploughshares?” Philly based string band with a helluvan edge.
Steve Earle’s “Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold” Townes Van Zandt cover (one of many on the new Townes)…thanks Rob!
Ty Segall’s “Untitled #2”…fantastic all-instrumental groove from the SF-based one-man band…though I think he’s got some other people now.
Jay Reatard’s “Man of Steel”…you can tell lo-fi is about over when Jay Reatard records a really clean, melodic pop record. Very nice, though.
White Hills’ “Radiate”…another one of those hard-to-find debuts reissued on Thrill Jockey in anticipation of the wide-release follow-up (see Pontiak)…nice bit of drony guitar rock.
UVVWWZ’s “Jap Dad”…the Deerhoof-y track from the album I reviewed yesterday.
Double Dagger’s “Vivre Sans Temps Mort”…another band that may have a Shellac record or two in the collection.
Talbot Tagora’s “Ichthus Hop”…boundless youth, boundless enthusiasm, vive la punk rock.
Malcolm Middleton’s “Subset of the World”…in which our favorite tobacco-y voiced Scot goes all existential but still rocks pretty hard.
Hallelujah the Hills’ “Allied Lions”…killer track from the band that reminds me most of Neutral Milk Hotel, without, you know, ripping them shamelessly or even probably trying.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Possibly the world’s most annoying band name, but still…

That would be UUVVWWZ, which doesn’t even scan in Polish. Their new album also called UUVVWWZ came out last month on Saddle Creek, and guess who reviewed it in Blurt?

I said:

UUVVWWZ (pronounced "double-you double-vee double-double-you zee" and not "you've whizzed" as we at first guessed) comes from Nebraska, but their sensibility is anything but heartland. The band's faux naïve melodies - carried by singer Teal Gardner - are chopped to bits by anarchic rhythms, exploded into gutty blues growls, firebombed by Jim Schroeder's staccato, off-riffing guitar. A hint of vulnerability drops in sometimes, as Gardner's voice flutters like a bird in a cage built of Tom Ambroz's drums criss-crossed with Dustin Wilbourn's skewed funking bass, but it is never long before she breaks out in screech or wail or vibrato-laced bleat.

The rest is here.

“Shark Suit”

“Jap Dad”

I’m supposedly interviewing Ari Up this afternoon, anybody got any killer questions? (It sounds like she runs her own interviews. I might not need much more than “hello”, but still, good to be prepared.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Struck by dust, covered in lightning

I consider the tremulous warble of Black Mountain's Amber Webber in her second album as Lightning Dust...which is called Infinite Lights, out tomorrow on Jagjaguwar.

My review at Dusted begins..
Lightning Dust takes a slight veer toward the pop on this second outing from Black Mountain regulars Amber Webber and Josh Wells. Where their self-titled effort was all eerie tremulousness, sparse arrangements and bleak lyrical visions, Infinite Light lets in the sunshine. Here, Appalachian rawness gives way to bright 1970s piano chords and runs, rhythmic slashes of cello and violin. The pace is faster, the drums more insistent. There are even handclaps, faint but there, in opener “Antonia Jane.” Webber’s soft, decadent vibrato still carries emotional freight, but Infinite Light is less gothic, less cobwebbed and spooky than the debut.

There's more, naturally.

“I Knew”

“Never Seen”