Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial day mix

Hope you're all enjoying the sun and grilling out and cracking a cold one before it gets dark this holiday Monday. (Unless you're from some other country, in which case, too bad, back to work.) To celebrate, I've put together a new mix which is about one-quarter country, one-quarter string-enhanced experimental pop and ...a bunch of other stuff.

Enjoy. Download here.

“In the Pines” Jack Rose with D. Charles Speer and the Helix. Another really great record from the late Jack Rose, this one a four-song collaboration with very country offshoot of the No Neck Blues Band (which has to rank as one of my most interesting, least comfortable interviewees ever). They toured together in 2008 and apparently spent most of the time in the van listening to Link Wray’s Three Track Shack sessions, from which this song was borrowed.

“Count the Days 1-2-3-4-5-6-7” Stephanie Finch and the Company Men. Nice little goofiness to this country rock ditty. BTW, Stephanie Finch’s band includes her partner Chuck Prophet and Kelley Stoltz, who is a particular favorite of mine.

“The Mermaid Parade” Phophorescent. Maybe Matt Houck’s best song ever, look for an interview someday at PopMatters.

“The Snowhen of Austerlitz” Rasputina. Very odd, cello-powered, folk goth from a woman who has played cello for all kinds of unlikely people, including Kurt Cobain. Here starts the string-obsessed portion of the mix.

“Kolnidur” Jonsi. Beautiful electro-space pop from the Sigur Ros frontman.

“What’s Out There” Nina Nastasia. What’s out there is this track, one of the wildest and most amazing from the new Nina Nastasia album, Outlaster which is out on FatCat later this month. Thanks Michael!

“Kansas City” Damien Jurado. The spookiest, most beautiful cut off of Damien Jurado’s new album St. Bartlett.

“Shock and Awe” Teenage Fanclub. Pretty sure this is a Gerard Love song, for those of you who keep track.

“Blood Dries Darker” Woods. Holy crap, did Woods take things up a step on their latest, At Echo Lake.

“When Amber Melts. The Art Museums. In addition to fronting Woods, Jeremy Earl runs the Woodsist label, which puts out all kinds of great lo-fi, low-key psychedelia, including this Skygreen Leopards offshoot.

“See Waves” Nice Nice. Portland-based, pound and chant free-formery, which might remind you of the Boredoms a bit. I’m pretty sure I reviewed this band’s first CDR while at Splendid, but damned if I can find it. They’re on Warp now.

“Boogaloo” Mulatu Astatke. Love this guy. Know nothing about him. Except he’s Ethiopian. And he plays jazz cut with African rhythms and funk and all the stuff I like.

“Living in Color” Frightened Rabbit. One of my favorite songs so far this year. (Though my absolute favorite is the Soft Pack’s “Pull Out.”)

What'd you do this weekend?

I ran the Vermont City Marathon.

#715 overall
#11 in my extremely decrepit category
#122 among the women
10 mile 1:20:12
Half Marathon 1:47:01
20 miles 2:50:25 (quite a BIT slower, but this is when I started seeing visions and hearing voices)
Finish 3:48:07
Pace 8:42

I've got a new mix coming, just checking the transitions.

Also I have been thinking about my top ten mid-year and might be ready to go public with that in a day or two.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dum Dum GIrls...better late than never

Damn, I almost missed this Dum Dum Girls CD, since Sub Pop kicked me off the distro list...but it's awfully good, fuzzy and sweet and a little bit nasty, and kicks the hell out of that Vivian Girls crap.

Here's the free giveaway, which is called "Jail La La"

Have a nice weekend, all. I'm running a marathon up in Burlington VT this Sunday, and not at all sure I'm ready, so wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I've been catching up on some big ticket recordings lately...not crazy about Sleighbells, but really liking Jonsi's Go (the new-ish album from the Sigur Ros front-person). It's really beautiful and dreamy and disembodied, but also kind of fun, in a pop-electro way that reminds me, a tiny bit, of Max Tundra.

Also, he's a shoo-in for the best make-up Grammy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Damien Jurado’s St. Bartlett

I wrote this a while ago, but the new Damien Jurado is good enough that I’ve listened to it a few times post-review (which doesn’t happen as much as it should, but you know tempis fugit) and like it, if anything, more than before.

Had an interesting conversation with the PR contact on this one, that apparently it’s hard to get people to review things by established, relatively mature artists like Jurado, when there are flash-in-the-pan geniuses like Wavves around. I believe the term “dinosaur” came up, even, and Jurado is considerably younger than I am. So, anyway, how depressing, but don’t fall into the trap. This is good stuff, regardless of who was president when the artist was born.

An unexpectedly lush set of tunes from a determined minimalist, this ninth full-length by Damien Jurado paints delicately the indeterminate outlines of remembered love, broken connections and imagined release. Recorded more or less in isolation at producer Richard Swift’s Oregon studio, the album nonetheless is well populated, teeming in its understated way with translucent textures of strings, piano, acoustic and electric guitar, and scratchy found sounds. It suggests and evokes rather than delineates. From transcendental “Cloudy Shoes” on down, you are not always sure what is happening in a song, only that it is freighted with rumination, rue and fond remembrance. One gets the sense that the narrative – in story-ish songs like “Rachel and Cali” or album-stopping “Kansas City” – continues in the pauses, that what Jurado tells you is only a scrap or two of what he’s seeing, thinking, recalling.


“Cloudy Shoes”

Monday, May 24, 2010

This Moment in Black History

Kinda cool aggresso-punk album from Cleveland’s This Moment in Black History – the review ran last week at Blurt.

Eight years and three full-lengths in, these blistering punk-rock-screamers show no signs of slowing down. Harder and more metallic than Cleveland's post-punk forefathers (Dead Boys, Ubu, Easter Monkeys), This Moment in Black History toys occasionally with the pure distorted glories of classic rock ("Pollen Count"), but more often pushes faster, harder, more discordantly into angsty, thrashy nihilism. "Theophylline Valentine" runs roughshod over hammer-jammer beats, double speed, double volume, while "MFA" hauls its full-on mayhem into abrupt, head-spinning dead stops.

“Public Square”

“Pollen Count”

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Magic Lantern

So this morning, I was at the library listening to WFMU, which I can't do at home anymore since they upped their bandwidth (I have dial-up and live in a place that is apparently not profitable enough for anyone to ever upgrade the service). It's one of my favorite things to do, and usually, I just listen until I hear something I just have to have...this morning it was the very first track on Liz Berg's show from Monday, a wonderfully trippy, drony, psychedelically rocking cut called "Dark Cicadas" from Magic Lanterns new album Platoon, out now on Not Not Fun.

Check it out

THis particular track isn't on the Free Music Archive, but there's another one called "Feasting On Energy" which is, and is almost as good.

Have a nice weekend, then, we're going to Brattleboro later for some sort of beer-related event.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Plants & Animals

I had a little interview with Plants & Animal’s Warren Spicer up at Blurt for about five minutes…if you missed it, and undoubtedly you did, check it out here.

Here’s a bit to get you started:

Plants and Animals, out of Montreal, have been on the road almost continuously since their first full length Parc Avenue got the "next big thing" tag in 2008. A glowing Pitchfork review, shortlisting for the Polaris Music Prize, and a Juno nomination: all might have convinced a less hard-working band to sit back and bask in the glory. But not Plants and Animals, a threesome that has used the two-year interval to hone a harder-edged, more rocking and distinctly more "live" sound for a second album La La Land (Secret City; read review here) - and to connect with audiences.

“Tom Cruz”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wave Pictures

Pretty interesting angsty pop from British Wave pictures...reviewed today at Dusted.

The Wave Pictures make nervy, hyper-articulate pop, with long intricate lyrics that unspool in perfect sync with jangly, syncopated rhythms. The two albums combined in this set — Instant Coffee Baby from 2008 and If You Leave It Alone from 2010 — catch the band shifting from the jittery, punk-leaning angst of, say, the first Feelies album towards a calmer, folkier style. Yet even as singer/writer/guitarist David Tattersall yearns for songs that get “sweeter and simpler and softer and slower and younger” in the title track to If You Leave It Alone, he can’t resist complication. His lyrics turn litanies of photo-realist detail into surreal melodrama.


“I Love You Like a Madman”

“Strange Fruit for David”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stephanie Finch steps out in front

Stephanie Finch is Chuck Prophet’s partner in life and music – an integral part of the Green on Red vet’s current touring band Mission Express. She’s also a pretty good songwriter on her own account, as demonstrated by Cry Tomorrow, where she takes the front spot, supported by Prophet, Kelley Stoltz, Rusty Miller and J. J. Weise. Here’s a bit of my review, up recently at Venus.

Cry Tomorrow saunters through the shadowy backlots of country and blues, with occasional touches of ‘60s pop in the keys. Finch’s voice, a bright alto that smokes a little at the corners, stays wholesome and true while tinged with a knowingness and self-deprecation. She keeps it pure, light, and fluty on the country cuts “So Do I” and “All Is Forgiven,” but dips into gutsier blues tones for the roadhouse rockers “Tina Goodbye” and “Don’t Back Out Now.” The Company Men follows wherever she leads, going rough and smooth by turns, filling in the gaps, and joining in the choruses, always swallowing a Cheshire Cat-sized grin..


Here she is singing “Don’t Back Out Now” with Chuck Prophet

Monday, May 17, 2010

Have you ever fallen in love?

I had a little blurb on the Buzzcocks reunion tour up at Philly Weekly over the weekend.

9pm, $21.50-$24. Trocadero.
Are you ever really too old for “Orgasm Addict”? Thirty-five years ago, Manchester’s Buzzcocks started their pop-punk rampage, churning out endless, brilliant singles like “Boredom” and “Have You Ever Fallen In Love,” launching new wave and paving the way for pop-punkers like Green Day. The band’s second life has been longer than the first now, with original members Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle teaming up for sporadic, well-received reunion shows since 1994 (when they opened on Nirvana’s last tour). For this one, they’ll be performing the first two albums, Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites, all the way through. (Jennifer Kelly)

If you’re not in Philly, you might still be able to catch this…here are remaining dates:
5/17, Boston, MA (Paradise Rock Club)
5/18, Montreal, QC (Le National)
5/19, Toronto, ON (Opera House)
5/21, Cleveland, OH (Peabody's)
5/22, Detroit, MI (St. Andrews Hall)
5/23, Chicago, IL (Double Door)
5/24, Minneapolis, MN (Fine Line Music Café)
5/26, Winnepeg, MB (Pyramid Cabaret)
5/28, Edmonton, AB (New City Compound)
5/29, Calgary, AB (Republik)
5/31, Vancouver, BC (Venue)
6/1, Portland, OR (Berbati's Pan)
6/2, Seattle, WA (El Corazon)
6/4, Oakland, CA (Uptown)
6/5, Los Angeles, CA (Club Nokia at L.A. Live)
6/6, Anaheim, CA (House of Blues)
6/7, San Diego, CA (House of Blues)

And as to the question of whether men in their mid- to late-50s can pull off (ahem) a song about self-love…two exhibits.

“Orgasm Addict” (first run)

“Orgasm Addict” (more recently)

What do you think?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Crazy Dreams Band’s War Dream

Holy crap, an actual review…the first one this week.
It’s of the Crazy Dreams Band’s War Dream, out now on Holy Mountain.
Second outing from this Baltimorean all-star noise-psych-experimental offshoot slows things down to a slow blues grind, building long-ish dirges around brutish guitar riffs and Lexie Mountain’s bruised and rasping alto. Alternate vocalist Chiara Giovando is out, taking with her much of the lightness and play from the self-titled debut, and guitarist Jorge Martins (of Fish & Sheep) is in, most strikingly in “Awkward for Everyone”’s blistering solo. Core members – Lexie, Nate Nelson (Mouthus), Jake Freeman and Nick Becker – remain, continuing to pursue their warped and distended take on 1960s psychedelia.


Arthur Magazine’s got a DL of “Feels So Good”

And speaking of crazy dreams, I went back to sleep this morning after Sean got on the school bus and had this panicky one about trying to read clocks and not being able to see what time it was…finally woke up and it was 8:17, late but not disastrous.

I finished my Phosphorescent interview piece yesterday and was really pleased with the results. I think the last time I interviewed him, it was so short and content-lite that I ended up talking about his car. This time, I feel like I sort of broke through.

Have a nice weekend all…looking forward to a little more sleep.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Neverever…or at least very rarely

Just got this mp3 from a band that’s got the singer from C86-obsessed Bricolage (Wallace Meek) and his wife/girlfriend/purely platonic musical partner? (sorry, not sure) Jihae in a kind of pop headlock…(Wow, look at that crap intro. I haven’t had a review up for ages have I? Editors have undoubtedly caught on to what a fraud I am.)

Anyway, here’s the mp3, which is called “Young and Dumb

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Dreams

Stumbled on this very cool, no-wave-ish, French band called The Dreams on the WFMU website. They’re apparently also in A.H. Kraken, which I’ve heard of, and The Anals, Plastobeton, Scorpion Violente, Crack Und Ultra Eczema, which I haven’t.

There are a whole bunch of MP3s over at the ever popular Free Music Archive. I am particularly liking “Satan Lied”. If you’re into the whole Zola Jesus, Naked on the Vague, lo-fi industrial trip, check it out.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Everybody likes High Violet but me

Reviews are up today at Pitchfork (8.7) and PopMatters (my friend Ian Mathers), and probably a lot of other places, universally positive...what can I say, out of touch again.

Meanwhile, I picked up a copy of Harlem's Hippies on Saturday...a Matador promo, which I had to buy, because Matador apparently sends promos only to the most important writers in the greater Keene, NH area, not me. But it was only $5, and kinda fun, so why not?

Here's the giveaway, which is called "Friendly Ghost."

Pretty sure they're from Austin, which connects, vaguely, to my new obsession, Friday Night Lights. We're watching Season One on DVD and totally, totally hooked, what a good show. Good music, too.

Okay, off to interview Matthew Houck, whom I think I've talked to before, and I think he was sort of monosyllabic, but maybe this time will be better.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I’ve been busy, sorry

Missed a couple of reviews that went up this week at Blurt

Sierra Leone All-Stars’ new Rise & Shinewhose music doesn’t quite live up to the inspiring back story

And Black Swans’ Words Are Stupid….also touched by tragedy but much more enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My painful week listening to Apples in Stereo

Boy, you thought I was mean to the National, you should see me when I really get mad. Here’s a review of the new Apples in Stereo, a band which has now used up all of the (considerable) goodwill it earned with the wonderful Discovery of a World Inside the Moone. My favorite track, by a large factor, was the one by drummer John Duhfilo, because it sounds a lot like the Deathray Davies.

The review:

Here’s a depressing thought. Robert Schneider has seen the future…and it looks a lot like 1970s AM radio.

The seventh full-length from the Elephant 6’s psych-bubblegum survivors owes a heavy debt to polyester-era acts like Hall & Oates, Michael Jackson and, especially, ELO, all shipped off in a Ed Wood-style tinfoil spaceship. It’s futuristic, but only in a jokey Planet 9 sort of way, with repeated use of vocoders and gleaming, plasticky synths. But in the more important, musical way, it’s a rocket-sized throwback to a period that, really, does anyone miss?


Monday, May 3, 2010

Track, life and Standard Fare

I’m in the midst of track season again, so much more harried (get it?) than usual. This is my first year coaching a team that doesn’t include my son Sean (I coach middle school and he’s moved on to high school), so I was wondering how that would go. Turns out, it’s been pretty good. We’ve got a really nice group of kids, a very large percentage of whom actually want to run. We’ve been doing two small-ish runs on the trails pretty much every practice, with 10 to 15 kids participating, many of them in both. They also stay together better than earlier years, so there’s not so much circling back and making sure the slower kids don’t get lost. We had our first actual meet on Saturday. We were supposed to have one on Wednesday but, bizarrely, were snowed out.

Anyway, I’ve been doing that in the afternoons and running on my own account in the mornings (I’m running another marathon at the end of May), and feeling just kind of dragged out and vaguely ill, but I think I might have turned the corner. I had a pretty good week last week…five reviews, a bunch of work projects and, as I mentioned, a pretty heavy schedule of extra stuff. I ran 18 miles yesterday.

I also had a review of Standard Fare’s Noyelle Beat up on Friday at Blurt which I liked for the way it “matches twitchy jangle pop to defiantly cheerful rants on love gone awry.” Here’s the rest of the review if you’re interested.

Also a very amusing song called “Fifteen