Friday, October 30, 2009

The Impediments

Sort of forgot about this one, though it’s really good garage pop, and recently got a mention at Dusted as well. It’s the Impediments…get the hell out of the way.
My review at Blurt starts:
Four teenagers, crazed by guitars and hormones, slashing out two-chord, one-take bashers at Greg Ashley's Oakland Creamery, full of spit and sweat and balls-out, foul-mouthed aggression... By now, you're either suppressing a yawn or on your way to the MySpace. There's nothing specially new here, nothing not already attempted by the Dolls/Stooges/MC5 axis of good times, nothing not raked over in a million ways by garage dwellers of every decade. And yet, the Impediments - Nick Allen, Ray Seraphin, Mike Liebman and Rene Macleay -- do what they so with particular intensity and heat ... not to mention obscenity. (Yes, they are shouting "Don't you vomit on my cock" in the chorus to "Vom," what are you going to do about it? )

And goes on

The MySpace

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Went to see two Icelandic electro pop bands on Sunday…absolutely blown away by Múm and also enjoyed Sin Fang Bous quite a lot. There will be a review later at Blurt, but for now, here’s Múm’s “Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Video diary from my long run in the rain

Really dreary morning here, fog, cold, drizzly rain and of course, dark as midnight until about 7 a.m. I’ve been pretty disciplined lately about listening to stuff I need to listen to, but this morning I went a bit off the res and heard a bunch of albums that I’ve been done with for a while…here’s what came up random-style.

Thin Lizzy “Jailbreak”
I reviewed Still Dangerous, a recently discovered live recording of a late-1970s show in Philadelphia, earlier this year, and honestly, is there any better way to wake up?

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir’s “Ellen’s Telling Me”
Totally loving I Bet You Say that to All the Boys, SYGC’s debut, which reminds me, in turns, of Belle and Sebastian, the Kinks and the Lemonheads…later stuff is much twangier but still pretty good. Hope these guys are doing better.

Tyvek, “Stand and Fight”
Tyvek’s self-titled was at #3 of my mid-year list and may have slipped to low teens by now, but it’s still the best punk (or post-punk, what exactly is the dividing line, anyone?) album from this year, not counting garage which is a close call between the Ohsees and the Reigning Sound.

Red Red Meat’s “Chain Chain Chain”
This is actually just about perfect for a rainy fall morning…and perfect anyway. Look how young Rutili is here. Sic transit rock and roll.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Does anyone else really love this song?

So I was running again this morning and I had a bunch of random stuff on, and more than that, it was the same random stuff as yesterday – which is no way to listen to every possible song in the universe. But anyway, towards the end, this song came on, and I loved it so much that I played it four times in a row. It’s the Wrens’ “This Boy Is Exhausted,” and here they are playing it at the Knitting Factory half a decade or so ago. (No time at all in Wrens-world….)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Espers III

I've got a little piece about Espers' latest CD (III, out on Drag City) up now at Philadelphia Weekly.

I really like it, though it's a bit sunnier than II and neither is as wonderful as The Weed Tree, or particularly, their cover of "Flaming Telepaths."


Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jonathan Kane

My friend Holly just sent me this new video for Jonathan Kane's February. Kane was one of the founding members of Swans and has been in a whole bunch of other seminal no-wave type outfits. (He's Holly's husband, too.) Anyway, great stuff.

The woman playing guitar is Peg Simone, whom I've written about here and there.

I'm having some real problems embedding the clip, but it's worth watching, even if you have to leave my lovely blog. It's here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Up with the birds again

I may have mentioned that I am getting up at 5:30 these days. Mostly it sucks, and I am walking around like a zombie half the time, but there is one good thing: by 9 a.m. when I sit down to write this ridiculous blog, I have already listened to two, three records and run 6-10 miles.

About my run this morning, let me just say that I started out in fog and very dim light and that, with three miles or so to go, the sun broke through and everything turned to soft colors like the inside of an oyster shell. I ran from town, along the Connecticut River, and though we are somewhat past peak, the trees are still radioactively, psychedelically colorful, some of them as if they had caught on fire and others like they got some acid mixed in with the ground water.

About the music, I’m not going to talk about The Joshua Tree because I mostly listen to that with my son (who had to be at school early this morning, earlier even than the very-early bus, so I drove), and you have undoubtedly already made up your mind about it one way or the other.

However, I will mention Elliott Brood’s Mountain Meadows, a really very fine rough-house country-ish album, with banjo (expected) and garage-y group shouts of “hey, hey, hey!” (unexpected). Mark Sasso and the rest of Elliott Brood (a band name, not a guy) is from Toronto. They probably know the Sadies -- my guess is that they would all get along really well. Mountain Meadows is the band’s second album, and it’s out now on Six Shooter records.

Here they are playing “Write It All Down for You” which is just such a good song.

I’ve also been listening to Now It Can Be Told: Devo at the Palace 12/9/88 a good bit, since buying it for $5 in the bin at Turn It Up. I didn’t actually have any Devo anymore, and being the age I am, they obviously played a role in my formative years…so it’s been sort of fun, but I’d forgotten how kitschy they could be. The album starts with kind of an unplugged version of “Jocko Homo” but gets going about halfway through with “Girl U Want” and “Whip It.” It ends with a medley that includes “Shout” “Disco Dancer” and, oddly, “Somewhere” from West Side Story.

Here they are in their heyday, eight years before the concert that I’ve been listening to:

And finally, Introducing Brilliant Colors is absolutely kicking my ass. I had it on a random mix yesterday while I was running right next to the Au Pairs’ “You” (for reasons I won’t go into, I have to listen to random mixes in alphabetical order, by artist name, or my iPod gets very confused), and it won, hands down. So I listened to the whole thing today and it totally rips…hope I’ll get to review it somewhere. I wanted to do it last summer when it came out on some tiny little label, but they had run out of copies by the time I asked and anyway passed this band onto the slightly bigger time. If you like late 1970s girl punk, it’s sort of in that vein…really fun, have to listen to it 7-8 more times to get a handle on it.

Here they are in Brooklyn last summer

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My 20 minutes with Ari Up

I did a little feature interview with Ari Up a month or so ago, and while a shortened version will appear in the print issue of Blurt, the extended take is up today on the website. It starts:

There's a 30-year gap between the first Slits album and the band's third Trapped Animal, but that's just barely time for the world to catch up with the band's groundbreaking feminism, embrace of world cultures and fiercely independent approach to making music. But through it has been three decades since her gang of teenage revolutionaries posed naked for the cover of Cut, Ari Up says it's like no time at all has passed. "We were the first and now we'll be the last, too," she says. "It's all one big time to us...1979 or 2009."


Here’s some vintage Slits, live in Paris circa 1978.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fuck Buttons

Here I go embarrassing my kid again with my filthy mouth. Not my fault this time, it’s the band name. Their new album Tarot Sport out now-ish on the All Tomorrow’s Parties label.

Thanks, Simon, for the heads up on this band. Also, thanks Arjun for pointing out that the review was live. I wasn’t expecting this one to run until tomorrow.

With this second full-length, Fuck Buttons continue to move from noise to transcendent raves. Their early singles may have sounded like a less abrasive Black Dice, but Tarot Sport calls upon the beat-driven, spiritually-enflamed techno a la Moby and Underworld. Even the album name hints at Fuck Buttons’ volatile combination of mysticism and sweatiness. Here, glistening swaths of synthesized other-ness are punctuated by the driving, drum-machine pulse of vigorous exertion. (read the rest here.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Daniel Johnston yes, Ancestors no

I’ve got a couple of new reviews up at Blurt today, which makes this, all in all, a pretty productive week.
I liked Daniel Johnston’s collaboration with Jason Falkner a lot, concluding:
The bottom line: this is the most accessible, least squirm inducing Daniel Johnston record ever. That will undoubtedly be a problem for the folks who turn up primarily for the peep show, but if you come for the music, listen up. Jason Falkner has run Daniel Johnston's vision through a focus lens. The subject matter is still pretty odd, but you can see it better than ever.

The full review is here.

There’s a free mp3 of “Freedom,” too.

Not so crazy about Ancestors’ Sound of Mind, which is kind of a prog metal thing.

The review

The MySpace

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shelley Short again

I’ve been away all day, down in Northampton, nice day, nothing very reportable about it. Meanwhile, Blurt’s run my review of Shelley Short’s A Cave, a Canoo, which I enjoyed very much, albeit in a low-key way. I said:

Shelley Short makes simplicity look easy. Her gentle, minimally accompanied songs sound like they might have been composed on the spot, sung in a near-whisper so as not to wake the young ones up and recorded directly on the collective memory. Her soft voice flutters effortlessly over quick flights of melody and slides languorously into sustained notes, not a hint of artifice glinting through. Her guitar playing is soft and unassuming, a string of lovely notes left to hang in the air. Her lyrics touch obliquely on everyday natural images, often drawing the connections to love, life, death and memory through ellipsis and understatement.

The rest

“Time Machine/Submarine”

I’ve put this mp3 up before, but if you didn’t catch it, here it is again.

Blurt has also got another live review of the Lightning Dust/Cave Singers tour up today. Whose do you think it better, eh? (Don’t answer that, I don’t really want to know.)

Jud Cost’s


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Three Dusted reviews in three days…a record I think.

Today’s is Grooms, a Brooklyn-based up-and-comer that used to be known (in a slightly different configuration) as Muggabears. Their new album Rejoicer is out this week on the Death By Audio label. My review begins:

For many of its best moments, Rejoicer separates into layers. Here, warm, melodic guitars are heard dimly through shimmering curtains of noise; there, strangled pop vocals trace a wandering path through dissonance; over there, sticks on rims beat a nervous pattern against gauzy washes of sustained sounds. In general, more than one thing is going on – either sequentially, as songs stop, then start up again in entirely different directions, or simultaneously, as sparse parts interlock only casually, as if built separately first, then hammered together at the joints. There is a constant tension between song and sonic splatter.

And continues

“Dreamsucker” (courtesy of Stereogum)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another day, another Amazing

I posted about an LA punk band called The Amazing a month or two ago, then saw “The Amazing” on the Dusted list and decided to jump on it. To my surprise, this was an entirely different Amazing, one comprised mostly of people from Dungen, with a little bit more pop thrown into the mix. My review went up today at Dusted. Here’s a bit:

The Amazing filters psychedelia and California pop through a cool Scandinavian lens, wrapping eddies of drumming and rampant guitar in fuzzy serenity. The band’s combination of styles is perfectly understandable when you consider its members: four guys from Dungen and former Granada frontman Christoffer Gunrup.
It’s hard to overstate how damn pleasant this record is -- the very thing, if you’re so inclined, for staring out the window mid-morning on a nice Saturday. Little tempests of noise brew in the harder, more psychedelic tracks, but never disturb the tranquility. Dungen’s Johan Holmegard drums, often, as if he’s in a much louder band, building a busy, clamorous friction under watercolor washes of temperate sound. Reine Fisk, also from Dungen, strews globs of bent guitar sound over sunstreaked melodies, sometimes surreally lucid, other times explosive, yet always subsumed within an unruffled whole. And singer Gunrup has one of those cool, unhurried, effortlessly carrying voices suited for the backward-looking emotions of pop – regret, nostalgia, distant fondness.


The MySpace

Monday, October 12, 2009

Heavy Trash

I'm back, had a pretty good time in Chicago with my family (my old family, Sean and Bill didn't go). We went to see Northwestern beat Miami of Ohio, but not as badly as they were supposed to, ate barbecue and Chinese and saw a very funny show at Second City. (It was not the main Second City, but a secondary troupe, so maybe second Second City?) I met my brother's new girlfriend who seems very nice and super good for him, so that was cool, too.

On the music front, I have a review up today at Dusted of the third Heavy Trash album. Heavy Trash, if you're coming in late , is what Jon Spencer has been doing for the last several years, along with Matt Verta-Ray from Speedball Baby and Madder Rose. I opined:

With this third album, Midnight Soul Serenade Spencer and Verta-Ray heat-warp all kinds of hoary traditions, their old-time rockabilly sincerity twisted with the green gleam of madness, their shout-along soul choruses redolent with sexual violence. The music is vastly entertaining, devilish, solder trickles of white-hot intensity running through cracks in its nailed-down façade. It’s contained, but at the same time, so over the top that you never know whether the record – and, by extension, the whole Heavy Trash project – is some kind of baroque kind of practical joke.

The rest

“Gee I Really Love You”


Friday, October 9, 2009

Post #401

I'm in Chicago. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. The hotels are all full of skinny marathoners (the Chicago Marathon is on Sunday, but I am not even going to be a spectator.)

I have a review of Lisa Germano's Magic Neighbor up at BLurt today, which, try as I might, I can't seem to excerpt, so you will have to at least scan the whole thing (or skip it).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Random stuff and pictures of me in the rain

Hey, look at me, running in the rain. Awesome, huh? Nice hair. This is the end of my marathon, and I am picking my feet up at least 2 centimeters off the ground, so you can tell I feel great.

I'm going to chicago for the weekend tomorrow and not getting a lot done today, so I thought I'd leave you with a taste of some stuff that I've been enjoying lately...and which I will not be writing about, so I can't tell you who the bass player is and stuff like that.

Here's a live track of Buraka Som Sistema, courtesy of the Free Music Archive, which is, you know, better than coffee and St. John's Wort.

The Thermals "Now We Can See."

Tune-Yards "Sunlight"

And, for Simon, who is evidently keeping a very close eye on my page, this video:

To answer his question, yes, sort of...I am a very casual fan of Dexy's Midnight Runners and I just found Too Rye Ay on my hard drive and had to play it at least once.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Terrible news about Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

I've learned over the last couple of days that Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, who are a really excellent indie-pop/jangly kind of band on the Bloodshot label, have been involved in a really terrible van accident. Two members of the band are still in the hospital, the van and much of their equipment/instruments is ruined, and they are unable to tour to support their new album And the Horse You Rode In On.

Apparently both the people who had to be hospitalized have health insurance -- which is great -- but they're not working, either at their day jobs or the band, and when they get better they are going to need to buy guitars and a new van and pay rent and all that...So Bloodshot is raising money for them, both through some benefit concerts and through a PayPal donation account. If you want to help out, go here.

If you're not familiar with this really terrific band, here is "Stop" from their new album.

Music Go Music

I have a little feature up today at Blurt in which I helpfully point out all the differences between Music Go Music and Abba.

Here's Music Go Music's "Warm in the Shadows", which, you may notice, sounds kinda like Abba.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

She regrets the error

I made a pretty big, pretty stupid mistake in my Dusted review of the new Mission of Burma today (fixed now, I called Vs. and Signals late 1970s albums, eek!), but I think the basic argument still stands: another very good album from a band that seems to be getting better all the time, notwithstanding decades of history. All of which proves a) nobody's perfect, b) you only really screw up the stuff you know and c) people actually read Dusted, even early in the morning, and care when it has dumb-ass errors in it.

Anyway, you can read the new amended review here if you want. Try not to find any more mistakes, okay?

“1,2,3 Partyy!”

Also, pretty funny, Sunday was apparently "Mission of Burma Day" in Boston.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Slaraffenland...more milk, more honey from Danish fusionists

There's a new record by the Danish quintet Slaraffenland which seems to be slipping, quite undeservedly, under the radar. It's called We're on Your Side and it continues, at least in my view, the more melodic and vocally driven elements of Sunshine while retaining Private Cinema open-ended, multi-instrumented, quasi-jazz feel. It's on the really quite wonderful Home Tapes label, which is moving up in the small-but-beautiful category alongside some of my other favorites (Locust Music, Strange Attractors, Language of Stone).

Check out "Meet & Greet"

Read my review at Blurt here

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thinking about heading to Rio for the Olympics?

You might want to have a look at this audio slide show from the favelas up at the New Yorker's site. It accompanies a really stunning article in this weeks edition in which reporter Jon Lee Anderson interviews one of the gang bosses (and a bunch of other people) in one of the notorious slums of Rio. People have been killed (and chopped up into little pieces) for less. Anyway, there's a link to the article in the slide show and you should read it.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Consensus on the new Califone record, All My Friends are Funeral Singers seems to be more of the same, but also more of the excellent. I’m not finding it as compelling, one listen through, as Roots & Crowns but it is still damned good.

Here’s “Funeral Singers”, my favorite cut and also sort of the title.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beat Circus

From the Boston chapter of New England’s weird folk organization…Beat Circus’ Brian Carpenter used to work with Alec Redfearn and finagled Larkin Grimm into singing back-up for this one. My review of Boy from Black Mountain ran in today’s Blurt.

Skewed traditionalist Brian Carpenter's third album under the Beat Circus name draws its inspiration from both past and future. Its righteous backbone - one-two bass, rackety clattering drums, gospel harmonies, oompah brass bands and the swell and squeal of fiddle - hails from the backwoods hymns and hoedowns of his agrarian childhood. The jittery modernity comes from Carpenter's close ties to Boston's multi-instrumented underground - and to his anxiety over a son diagnosed with autism during the recording period.


“Boy from Black Mountain”

“February Train”