Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Moondoggies Tidelands has kind of snuck into my list of favorite albums over the last few months. It's grounded in alt.country, but alt.country with some weight to it, and with a liberal use of amplification, like the Band maybe. It's got a lot of heart, too, and some really uplifting multi-voiced vocal arrangements. So anyway I interviewed the singer for PopMatters and it went up today.

Don't Feel Doomed: An Interview With the Moondoggies
By Jennifer Kelly 31 May 2011

Near the close of the Moondoggies’ excellent second album, Tidelands, at the tail end of “We Can’t All be Blessed,” singer Kevin Murphy and his band – Caleb Quick, Bob Terreberry and Carl Dahlen – erupt into harmonies, their voices criss-crossing in triumph over what has been, up to that point, kind of a downbeat song. It’s a fitting summation for an album that begins in dogged discouragement and ends in renewal.

Tidelands is, by any definition, a huge improvement over the Moondoggies’ 2008 debut Don’t Be a Stranger, a tighter, more cohesive statement from a band that is still carving out its particular niche in rock and roll. The album was written during the darkest months of the post-meltdown recession, as friends and family were struggling to keep jobs and houses and put food on the table. Yet it is by no means a depressing album. Listen to it from beginning to end and you’ll begin to get a sense of endurance, of persistence in the face of deep discouragement and even of joy.

“That’s right on. That’s exactly it,” says Murphy when asked about the complex mix of emotions that Tidelands captures. “We were trying to be constructive in the middle of negativity. We were trying not to be too much of a bummer.”


"It's a Shame, It's a Pity"

The Whines and a bunch of other bands

My write-up of last Monday's show at the Flywheel ran over the weekend. It was five bands, but two stood out, the Whines and Sore Eros. Here's what I had to say about the Whines:

"I'm really here to see the Whines, a lo-fi garage band out of Portland, OR, that seems, at least from what I've heard, to meld the sludgy aggression of 1990s grunge to the dreamy indefinability of girl-led bands like Black Tambourine. There's a little bit of country in there, too, and a shade or two of Neil Young, though filtered through a rough, chaotic punk aesthetic. In a recent interview at Victim of Time, bassist/singer Karianne mentioned the Meat Puppets, Lee Hazleton and Nancy Sinatra and Pink Reason as influences, and somewhere in that triangle is exactly what they sound like. The Whines have been kicking up a bit of dust lately with their debut full-length Hell to Play, which was recorded with the help of lo-fi mainstays from Eat Skull and Meth Teeth and which, apparently, made Ty Segall's 2010 year-end list.

The Whines are a three-piece. Jesse, the guitar player, is skinny, flannel-shirted and intense, wandering as far as his cord will allow, back and forth, looking for a spot where he can hear the rest of the band. If there's a shred of country in this band (and there is) it comes from Jesse, who veers from garage-rock power chords into splintery, glittery bouts of rustic contemplation. Blonde-haired, waifish Karianne is bundled up in a big jacket, looking very young behind a thatch of bangs, singing coolly above the murk. And Bobby, behind the drums, is the punkish wild card, banging hard, punchy rhythms under the band's storm and swirl."


Monday, May 30, 2011

Girl garage from Nashville, Jay's baby pics

Couple of totally fun garage rock items from the general direction of Tennessee...the first I found when cleaning off the tops of my upstairs stereo, apparently I'd meant to listen to Heavy Cream's Danny but never got around to it. It's awesome, if you like Motorhead-simple, blues-based r'n r, delivered by three very pretty platinum blondes and one guy.

Here's a video of "Watusi"

They're touring the east coast starting about next week.

The other thing is this Reatards reissue from Goner, which collects 39 tracks from Teenage Hate and Fuck Elvis Here's the Reatards. It's pretty rough stuff, especially the latter half, and there's more of the rage and frustration, less of the way with melody that Jay developed later one. Still, no one can deny that it rocks pretty hard.

Ben Donnelly, who was, I think, the person who first turned me (and a bunch of other people at Dusted) onto Jay Reatard, reviewed it for Dusted. It's sort of hard to excerpt, but not that long, so why not read the whole thing?

Here's a video of "Memphis Blues"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It’s a lot more fun with Indiana Girls

There are not that many songs about Indiana girls, because there are not that many bands from Indiana. This is not really fair, since up to about age 25 there are no prettier girls anywhere. Granted, it’s mostly downhill after that, but the ones that keep their weight down and don’t have half a dozen kids in their 20s can sometimes age fairly well. (Full disclosure: I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana from age 4-18 and graduated from South Side High School.)

In any case, Hoosier females now have their own modest version of “California Girls”, courtesy of the Happy Thoughts, a garage-into-power-pop outfit from the heartland. I’m getting a big-assed Flamin’ Groovies from this track, but you might be thinking Big Star. Either way, good times, good tunes, summer’s here.

Hozac, which is putting out the Happy Thoughts’ self-titled debut is giving away “One More Fish”, too.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Miracle Fortress

Whoa, I just wrote this one yesterday…
Miracle Fortress
Was I the Wave?
(Secret City)

Graham Van Pelt's second album as Miracle Fortress is all glamour and chill, leaving behind the indie pop sounds that defined 2007's Polaris-nominated Five Roses to explore sleek, futuristic landscapes. Was I the Wave? has a clean, underwater vibe for most of its first half, its wavering synth textures and burbling keyboards braced by dance rhythms. Yet lovely as these early album efforts can be, they lack sticking power. You have the sense of walking through beautiful, sunlit, empty rooms.



He’s touring with Junior Boys next month.
06/09 Toronto, ON - The Phoenix w/Junior Boys, Caribou (DJ Set)
06/10 Ottawa, ON - Maverick's w/Junior Boys
06/12 Boston, MA - The Middle East (downstairs) w/Junior Boys
06/14 New York, NY - Webster Hall w/Junior Boys
06/16 Washington DC - Black Cat w/Junior Boys
06/17 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's w/Junior Boys
06/18 Charlottesville, VA - Jefferson Theater w/Junior Boys
06/20 Atlanta, GA - The Earl w/Junior Boys
06/21 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge w/Junior Boys
06/22 Louisville, KY - Headliners w/Junior Boys
06/24 Chicago, IL - Metro w/Junior Boys
06/25 Detroit, MI - Crofoot (Pike Room) w/Junior Boys

The People’s Temple

More pretty good-to-excellent garage rock from Hozac, this time in the psychedelic, 13th Floor Elevators’ vein…Here’s my review at Dusted.

The People’s Temple
Sons of Stone

“The People’s Temple, out of Michigan, use a lot of reverb to make their psych-droning, proto-punkish garage rock, giving nods along the way to 1960s pioneers like Love and 13th Floor Elevators. Yet the good thing, at least on most of these 14 tracks, is that they use it (and other effects) to enhance songs rather than to cover up weaknesses. There are some sketchy efforts early on, where zoom and drone attempt to obscure a thin-ness of melodic imagination (“Visions of the Sun” and “Led As One” ). “StarScreamer,” later on, is a stronger song that nearly succumbs to effects. It sounds like a plausible riff-rocker that’s been trapped in a bug zapper, buzzing and butting against the noise barrier until it finally shorts out. Still, a really superb run of songs in the second half — everything from “Axe-Man” to “Miles Away” — illustrate how the People’s Temple’s wrong-end-of-a-telescope, garage-psych sonics can work. Here, the echo, buzz and hum makes strong material sound even better.”


“Sons of Stone”

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I had one of those “whoa, what is this…” moments the other day on my long-run, when I put all the stuff that I haven’t listened to and maybe should listen to on album shuffle and let it go. The one that came up was Witches Forever, a female led, guitar-centric indie rock record that flies mostly on the strength of Cara Beth Satalino. She’s got a raggedy, early 1990s edge to her voice, a la either of the Deal sisters or maybe Juliana Hatfield. There’s also more than a twinge of country vibrato in there, very rough and unstudied, like the emotions are too big for one note. Her guitar playing, also, has a casual violence to it, very nice, very rupturing sort of sound. Anyway, she’s got a band called Witches, which also includes drummer Michael Clancy and bassist Jared Gandy, who has been involved in some Elephant Six stuff.

The record will be out next month on tiny Bakery Outlet records.

Here are two of the best songs.

"Creature of Nature”

“Black Dog”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Couple of weeks ago, I marveled at the eccentricity of this final installment in the Jookabox saga. Today a more formal (not that formal, but more so) review is up at Blurt.

Eyes of the Fly
(Asthmatic Kitty)


The eyes of the fly are made of multiple subcompartments, each sensitive to a different spectrum of light. The information received through these multiplicitous organs is undoubtedly complex, intricate and utterly different from our own bi-optical view of the world...and so, too, is Jookabox's fourth and final album Eyes of the Fly.

Jookabox is the nom de mic for David "Moose" Adamson, a Hoosier by birth and current living arrangement, which only goes to show that the strangest stuff can come from the most tightly buttoned-down environments. Indiana was still stuck in an endless loop of Whitesnake and Styx on my last visit home, so it's hard to say how Adamson came up with his weird hybrid of outsider folk, rough-neck blues, performance art and hip hop. Still, let's give him a big hand for a fascinating, highly caffeinated and individualist art form - in line with bands like Man Man for instantly accessible, body-moving oddity.




Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The new Jesu kind of bored me, to be honest. It's long, as an album, and all the tracks are long, and nothing seemed to be happening for really long stretches of time. Which is probably the point, somehow, but I didn't love it the way I loved Conqueror.

Anyway, my review, up today at Dusted.

Caldo Verde

It takes a certain amount of hubris to name your band Jesu. And even more to name your fourth album Ascension. It’s surely no accident that a Google image search of the two terms yields not just Justin Broadrick’s post-Rapture-ish cover art (a deserted playground, a fog-bound park without a trace of human life), but also Sunday-school visuals of Jesus rising up into heaven. The message is clear, if a little blasphemous. On the third day, the stone rolled away from the cave and the master appeared, wearing luminous white robes and floating skyward on clouds of glory and full-throttle guitar distortion.

Not surprisingly, then, Ascension reaches for the sublime early and often. Its slow-moving textures of guitar superimpose giant crashes of sound on the lightness of synthesizer, the faint reassurance of Broadrick’s singing. These songs move at a glacial pace, melodies evolving over multiple measures of sound. And yet, for all their self-conscious grandeur, the tracks on Ascension seem more turgid than revelatory. “Broken Home” moves at a ritual pace, a bell-clear synthesizer melody slipping in and out of the shadow of obliterating guitars, its plainsong verse and vocal flourishes lifting improbably under a ponderous weight. Yet lovely as these elements are, they don’t go anywhere. The song proceeds in a stately march to nowhere, its heaviness an end in itself. And that seems to be the problem with a good bit of Ascension -- that weight never transmutes itself into meaning or crescendo into illumination.


Monday, May 23, 2011

The Bats’ Robert Scott

Something wonderful from New Zealand, what a surprise!

Robert Scott
Ends Run Together
(Flying Nun)

The beef on Robert Scott - and indeed on his long-running band, the Bats - is that the sound never changes. Even if you enjoy the propulsive jangle of "North by North" or "Block of Wood," the canard goes, there's no reason to pick up the new one. It'll just be more of the same exquisitely droning, carefully modulated guitar pop. This argument has always seemed like ADD-addled analysis to me. If you listen carefully, it's easy enough to pick out subtle changes in the sound, and anyway, people who value gimmicks over quality deserve what they get.

But in any case, Ends Run Together, Scott's third solo album, is a surprisingly varied document, putting college rock jangle, next to wistful folk rock, next to driving guitar psychedelia, next to open-ended instrumental experiments. It's also quite good, end to end, emotionally resonant without being weepy, well-constructed without sacrificing a certain slapdash charm.


"Too Early"

I’m going to see the Whines tonight

It’s a garage band from Portland, female-fronted, primitive, minimalist…with ties to Eat Skull and Meth Teeth. Apparently they’re one of Ty Segall’s favorite bands…there’s a little write-up and some downloads at the Free Music Archive.

Of Hell to Play, the band’s Med Records full-length, Doug Mosurock (of Dusted-affiliated Still Single) said, “this record is goddamn great. It’s Nirvana by way of Heavens to Betsy and early Bugskull. What could be better?”

He also wrote some other stuff that you can read here.

Plus there’s this…

More later.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Two more at Blurt, one at Dusted

It’s raining reviews…I’ve had two up at Blurt in the last couple of days, and one more at Dusted.

Mars Classroom
New Theory of Everything

Two legendary songwriters - Guided by Voices Robert Pollard and Big Dipper's Gary Waleik -- join together here in one more swing for the fences. …New Theory of Everything is more lyrical, romantic and personal than most of Pollard's recent efforts - with Lifeguards, Boston Spaceships and on his own account - which may reflect the influence of Waleik.



Nodzzz, out of San Francisco, makes jangly, joyful one- and two-minute songs about any damned thing, evoking the jittery propulsion of early Feelies, the willful naivete of Beat Happening. Their 2008 single "I Don't Wanna (Smoke Marijuana)" - possibly the best song ever about not using drugs - was an addiction in itself, the kind of song you want to hear immediately, right now, again, the second it finishes.

Innings, the band's second album , is full of spiked and sweetened songs, anthems as artfully put together as they are casually tossed off. Instrumentation is basic. Staccato guitar lines stab and stutter, run amok on off-kilter riffs then scrabble back to strummy pop structures. Skeletal bash and pop drumming keep things moving. The whole enterprise is ramshackle, jerry-rigged, with lots of white space showing through the jangly mash.


and finally, at Dusted, my much-delayed take on the Sandwitches second album

The Sandwitches
Mrs. Jones' Cookies
(Turn Up)

….Throughout, Mrs. Jones’ Cookies is a bit less gutsy and grounded than How to Make Ambient Sad Cake, with vocals pushed mostly out of alto range and into breathy soprano territory. …Moreover, Mrs. Jones’ Cookies, despite the home-y title, seems eerier and less overtly adorable than its predecessor. Even its prettiest songs – “Black Rider,” for instance, or the doo-wop haunted “Joe Says” – have a spectral aura hanging over them. The songs are built out of well-worn, comfortable elements, down-home guitars, sepia-toned blues melodies, scratchy, regular rhythms. Still, faded to delicate hues like old photographs, they seem more ghostly than familiar. “


Thursday, May 19, 2011

King Creosote

My review of the electronically enhanced Scottish folk collaboration between King Creosote and Jon Hopkins ran today at Dusted.

Artist: King Creosote & Jon Hopkins
Album: Diamond Mine
Label: Domino
Review date: May. 19, 2011
“….All seven tracks on Diamond Mine are strong, but “Bubbles,” coming mid-way through, does the best job of bridging Anderson’s quavery humanity with lush, electronically aided textures. The song’s rhythmic bed marries traditional banjo plucking with scratchy, glitchy percussion. Its florid choruses augment Anderson’s tremor with lovely female harmonies, piano and washes of synthetic tone. Anderson’s bare melody seems to long for unearthly beauty and then find it, unexpectedly, in swells and flourishes of electronic glory. …”


Dusted also reviewed the career retrospective Thrawn this month.

Here he is at SXSW this year.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alexander Tucker

A while back, I reviewed an album by an outfit called Imbodogom, a cross-continental collaboration between UK-based alternative folkie Alexander Tucker and New Zealand-born noise experimenter Daniel Breban. You can read my review of The Metallic Year here, if you like.

Warning, though: it won’t help much with understanding Alexander Tucker’s new solo disc, Dorwytch, a strange and beautiful excursion into the more acidy realms of British folk, a bit proggier than the obvious name-checks (Incredible String Band, Syd Barett), and just a touch reminiscent of earlier Genesis. Anyway, it’s really good …another winner from Thrill Jockey.

I’m not sure why I didn’t review it, except that you can’t review everything. Here’s a bit, the opening song, which has a nice string-assisted tension to it, but I really like the more translucent cuts near the end of the album better.

“His Arm Has Grown Long”

Let see, that's two Alexanders in two days, have to try something different tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Alexander Turnquist

A fascinating and beautiful new album from acoustic 12-string player Alexander Turnquist, Hallway of Mirrors may remind you at first of James Blackshaw (especially the title track, which sounds very much like "Cross"), but there's an intellectual rigor and restraint in these five tracks that links him more to a minimalist tradition than any extension of folk or blues. Like Blackshaw, Turnquist is not just a picker but a composer, introducing the subtle warmth of violin, the luminous chill of vibraphone into his pieces. "Waiting at the Departure Gate," the album's 16 minute centerpiece has the same lucid lyricism, the same dazzling virtuosity as Jack Rose's "Cathedral Et Chartres" (and is said, per the label, to have borrowed some of Rose's technique from "Black Pearls.")

All in all, very nice. The album is out now on VHF records.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Laura Cantrell’s tribute to Kitty Wells

The exceedingly talented Laura Cantrell, a sometime WFMU DJ whose Not the Tremblin’ Kind was said to be John Peel’s favorite record ever, has a new record out called Kitty Wells Dresses. As the title implies, it is a loving tribute to the nonegenarian country star Kitty Wells, whose clear-eyed ballads steered remarkably clear of easy moral judgments and exhibited a short-story writer’s grasp of the complexity of human relationships. Cantrell’s album is all covers but one, the title track, which envisions her slipping into the shoes, clothes and accoutrements of the Grand Ole Opry sensation – the plainly made, modestly cut “robes of a queen.”

Here’s Cantrell

And here’s Kitty Wells herself

Thursday, May 12, 2011

One more thing...my Times New Viking interview

GIVING 300% Times New Viking

With the hardest-working band in indie rock - Guided By Voices - as a guiding light, who wouldn't be willing to go the distance?


"We're all about keeping it simple," says Adam Elliott, singer and drummer for Times New Viking, the art-informed, punk-driven band at the center of Ohio's late 2000s lo-fi scene. "Minimalism is a big thing that we're into. Doing as much as we can with as little. We like the idea that pop songs are based off simple structures, yet they're endless."

To create these songs, Times New Viking practices a democratic creative process that its members call 300%. That is, each of the three members have 100% control over what they do - from the lyrics Elliott sings over his drum kit, to the keyboard lines Beth Murphy plays, to the guitar riffs that Jared Phillips creates for their songs.

"We all have our own snippets that we bring to the table, and we've got to paste them together in various ways," says Murphy. "But we want to keep it so everyone has complete control over what they are bringing, over their vocal part or their music part. No one arranges everything and tells everyone what to do. That's one of our principles; we call it 300% writer's control, in that we all have 100%."


"Ever Falling In Love"

Daniel Knox

I think I'd better start linking more than one review a day if I'm ever going to catch up...here's a real oddball gem from David Lynch collaborator Daniel Knox.

Daniel Knox
Evryman For Himself
La Société Expéditionnaire

It’s sort of fun to try to pinpoint exactly where Daniel Knox’s songs go off the rails, running like a railway car over well-trodden, pre-war music hall tracks until they suddenly leap for the canyons. These 14 songs vary in style, from Salvation Army band oompah marches to slinky rhumbas to Dixieland struts to piano balladry of a sort that went out with Brylcreem. Yet they’re all, to one degree or another, deeply weird and subversive, a kind of sentimental journey without the sentimentality.
Daniel Knox is a Chicagoan, an ex-film student who once accompanied David Lynch’s Inland Empire on organ at its premiere. His background in film may explain his taste for noire-ish scenarios, or for the realistic details that ground his unsettling fantasies. These are stylish meditations on the brutish-ness of life, written in tightly scanning verses with striking, unexpected rhymes. Knox’s piano playing, reportedly learned by ear and on the sly at the Hilton Towers Ballroom in Chicago, is fine and florid. His supporting players – most consistently drummer Jason Toth, bassist Paul Parts and sax and clarinetist Ralph Carney, but also including brass and strings and musical saw (that’s David Coulter) – are wryly capable, a band of straight men setting up Knox’s antics.


daniel knox - evryman for himself (bathtub) from Daniel Knox on Vimeo.

We continue to dominate the middle school track world of southern Vermont and New Hampshire...girls came in second last night with a much abbreviated team, boys also second at their boys-only meet on Friday but by only a couple of points, again losing, just barely to Keene, which has three or four times as many kids as we do. We have a 400 runner who runs the event in 60 seconds flat (in 8th grade!!), also regularly wins the 100 meters with a 12.3-12.5. Nice kids this year, too.

Another meet tonight. All I want to do is sleep.

Howe Gelb

Latest from the Giant Sand singer is a collaboration with a Band of Gypsies, literally, not like Hendrix's faux Rom.

Howe Gelb & A Band of Gypsies
You could think of Alegrias as a companion piece to Howe Gelb’s 2006 Sno Angel. That record, which many consider his best, reimagined Gelb’s desert country blues as gospel, with a full choir in tow. Alegrias reworks selections from the Gelb catalog, some new songs and one flamenco cover in the fiery, multiple guitar’d styles of southern Spain. It was recorded on a rooftop in Cordoba, with flamenco star Raimundo Amador along with a passel of gypsy players, in a series of laid-back sessions that find connections between American blues and Andalusian flamenco.


“Uneven Light of Day”

“4 Door Maverick”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wild Beasts

I've got a lot of stuff going up this week...here's a review of the very flamboyant, very beautiful third album from Wild Beasts. It's called Smother and, like about 200 other records, it came out on Tuesday.

Wild Beasts


Hayden Thorpe's falsetto flutters like a hummingbird, swoops and curls like a multi-colored kite in the wind. He is, if anything, more flamboyant and florid than ever on this, the Wild Beasts' third album, yet because he is working against a more meticulously plotted background, his vocal pyrotechnics seem less shocking, more fitting this time. Smother continues in the Mercury Nominated Two Dancers (2009) path of more disciplined theatricality, finding a way for Thorpe's wild fantasias to work as artistry rather than oddity.

Smother is the Wild Beasts' most restrained, refined effort yet, paring down hot-house atmospheres to lush essentials.



There is a full album stream, at least for now

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gary Lucas

I've got a review of Gary Lucas' new album up today at Dusted...in which I conclude that the best things in life are the simple ones.

As if I had any direct experience with simplicity...but anyway.

Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters
The Ordeal of Civility
Knitting Factory
Much is made of the technical virtuosity of Gary Lucas, the guitarist for Beefheart’s extremely difficult “Evening Bell,” the co-writer of Jeff Buckley’s incandescent “Mojo Pin” and freewheeling “Grace,” the collaborator with downtown heavyweights and global syncretists. His ease with multiple, difficult idioms — rock, free-jazz, classical, blues and various kinds of folk music — is impressive, a tribute both to finger skill and a restless, omnivorous intelligence.
Lucas’ band members are capable, too, in a variety of genres. Billy Ficca, Television’s drummer, holds intricate, conflicting rhythms accountable in the more difficult songs, then backs off to a rumble in the quieter ones. Ernie Brooks, the bass player from the Modern Lovers, plays off these rhythms in interesting, often unexpected ways. Saxophonist Jason Candler switches from jazz to pop to the subtlest suggestion of texture, while Joe Hendle plays organ and piano and occasionally trombone. They are all capable of the wildest kinds of cacophonies, spinning out every which way yet somehow landing safely and in one piece. And yet, despite the display of skill here in The Ordeal of Civility, the most striking songs are the simplest ones.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Jerusalem & the Starbaskets

Very fine stuff from DeStilj, the third (but first you’re likely to have heard much about_) album from Columbia, MO’s Jerusalem & the Starbaskets.

Jerusalem and The Starbaskets
De Stijl

Country-loving duo Jerusalem and The Starbaskets wraps sharp-edged guitars and meandering vocals in layers of fuzz and distortion. Guitar vamps ride the horizon in the more driving, psychedelic outings, while in other more laid-back efforts, they circle endlessly over bleary waltz-times. The band — at its core singer and guitarist Jeremy Freeze and drummer Kim Sherman — have made a string of cassettes, singles and two limited distribution LPs. DOST is their first album to be widely available (or at least purchasable outside merch tables), and it’s a good one.


Here’s that WFMU show I referenced in the review.

Friday, May 6, 2011

David Kilgour

This is maybe my favorite songwriter.

David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights
Left By Soft


Beautifully understated, tinged with psychedelic colors and harmonies, amplified to rock volume, but relaxed to the point that you might miss how well it is put together, Left By Soft is another milestone in the criminally underappreciated (at least outside of New Zealand) career of David Kilgour. This is the first full-band Kilgour album in quite a while, bringing together old hands like Tony De Raad of the Mad Scene, long-time Heavy Eights bass player Thomas Bell (who also produced), drummer Taane Tokona and Kilgour himself. Left by Soft is a good deal louder and more rock than The Far Now, but it has the same mystical shimmer, a sense that more is here than immediately meets the ear.


“Diamond Mine”

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The last time I wrote about D. Charles Speer, AKA Dave Shuford of NNCK and other bands, it was because he was collaborating with Jack Rose on the really great Ragged and Right EP. This time, he’s got two fairly new records, one a solo effort in which he explores traditional Greek music, the other a band affair with the Helix, where he ranges all over traditional Americana styles – folk, country and zydeco.

Read the double-header review here

“Markos’ Cave” (from Arghiledes)

“Freddie’s Lapels” (from Leaving the Commonwealth)”

Looks like he’s going out on tour this month, mostly through the Midwest and south.
May 12 Washington, DC - The Velvet Lounge
May 13 Pittsburgh, PA - Howler's
May 14 Oberlin, OH - TBA
May 15 Milwaukee, WI - Franks Power Plant
May 16 Dubuque, IA - Monks Kaffee Pub
May 17 Minneapolis, MN - Medusa
May 18 Iowa City, IA - White Lightning Warehouse
May 19 Chicago, IL - The Empty Bottle
May 20 Detroit, MI - PJ's Lager House
May 21 Columbus, OH - The Summit
May 22 Nashville, TN - Betty's
May 23 Chapel Hill, NC - Nightlight
May 24 Blacksburg, VA - The Cellarw/ The Black Twig Pickers
May 25 Baltimore, MD - Golden West

One Hundred Flowers

In the realm of baroque indie pop, with swirly contrapuntal vocals and giddy blares of synthesizer alongside more conventional guitars and drums, comes Austin’s One Hundred Flowers. The band started as a bedroom inkling of one Harrison Speck, but now numbers five, namely Speck plus Eva Mueller on keys, Amber Nepodal on the piano and trumpet, Gary Calhoun James on bass, and Curtis Henderson on drums. I’ve missed the sell-by date on their album Mechanical Bride (it came out last November), but what the hell…it’s pretty wonderful.

“Rat Trap” (via BandCamp)

You think they’ll get sued by the Urinals?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Another review up today at Blurt...

(Ninja Tune)

Well-made, excellent, effortlessly stylish - it is, perhaps, no accident that Alfred Darlington, the electronic artist known as Daedelus, chose high-end tailoring as a metaphor in his 12th full-length Bespoke. Like the hand-sewn items of clothing he celebrates, Daedelus' art-form combines meticulous, detail-sweating intricacy with the sensuality of fine fabric close to the body.

You might be tempted to say that Daedelus fits his creations to the artists that make guest appearances on these tracks - Inara George, Baths, Busdriver, Bilal and Milosh - but the truth is that they do more to fit themselves into his singular, luxurious vision. Inara George, in album standout "Penny Loafers," is transformed into a marcelled and fabulous 1940s songstress, her lovely voice flanked in by nightclub maraca beats and stylish radio choruses. Milosh is surrounded by gleaming, pulsing 1960s soul sounds, his "Tailor-Made" turning sleek and chic and faintly ironic. Even Busdriver basks in sartorial splendor on "What Can You Do?," his retro soulful voice braced by a breathless, forward-rushing, movie-soundtrack glamour.


“Overwhelmed (featuring Bilal)”

Slug Guts

Pretty great new band from Australia, in the swampy, feverish, echo-ridden garage vein. You can download a whole live WFMU set here.

Here's the write-up from FMA

Slug Guts hail from the baron, heat stricken confines of Brisbane, Australia, a town as desolate as it is depressing and suburban. Slug Guts began when four degenerates had little else to do but form a band in the tradition of Pussy Galore, X (Australia not L.A.), and Birthday Party. In the first four months of the band Slug Guts recorded their first LP Down on the Meat which was released on Stained Circles Records (Jay Reatard, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Dirtbombs).

After numerous Australian tours and one Japanese tour playing alongside Lightning Bolt, Dead Meadow, Primitive Calculators, Flipper, and Eddy Current amongst others, the band went back into the studio and recorded this thirteen-song sophomore album, Howlin’ Gang. The LP was recorded in a railway carriage on the outskirts of Ipswich. Taking partial influence from Christian Death, The Scientists and The Triffids, this new LP sought to take a different direction than the harsh swamp rock which characterized their first release. Howlin’ Gang LP features a duet with Angela Bermuda (Circle Pit) and guest appearances by Sarah Spencer (Blank Realm). In this recording session Slug Guts also finished a split 7-inch with iconic Australian 1980’s experimentalists Primitive Calculators, which features both bands doing Primitive Calculator’s single “Ugly Pumping Muscle” and a third rendition which is Stuart Grant (Primitive Calculators) singing “Ugly Pumping Muscle” with Slug Guts live in Brisbane. We are proud to announce the US debut release from Brisbane’s finest dirge-e-mites. Later this year, the Sacred Bones Australian love affair will continue with releases from Naked on the Vague and Circle Pit, in addition to a compilation of our favorite Australian contemporary artists. Slug Guts will embark on their first US tour in March of 2011, including the Sacred Bones showcase at SXSW.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dengue Fever

Another day, another interview...this one at Blurt and dealing with the Cambodian surf/funk/psych outfit Dengue Fever.

May 03, 2011

Haunting Cambodian fever dreams, the funky strut and shuffle of James Brown and the psychedelic garage rock of 1960s bands.


Zac Holtzman used to play guitar in Dengue Fever but now he plays the Mastodon.

No, not the Ice Age hairy elephant; don't be silly. Holtzman's mastodon is a double-necked guitar, the top half a Fender JazzMaster, the bottom a traditional Khmer lute known as a chapei dong veng. The instrument, which can be seen on the front of Dengue Fever's fourth and latest album Cannibal Courtship, is a metaphor for Dengue Fever's globe-trotting syncretism. The band is anchored by Holtzman and his Farfisa-toting brother Ethan, both of LA, but fronted by singer Chhom Nimol, a striking and graceful woman born in Cambodia and schooled in a native Khmer music and dance tradition. Supported by bassist Senon Williams (also of Radar Brothers), horn player and multi-instrumentalist David Ralicke and drummer Paul Smith, Dengue Fever brings on the haunting fever dreams of Cambodia's octave leaping ghost singing, the funky strut and shuffle of James Brown and the psychedelic garage rock of 1960s bands like Love and 13th Floor Elevators.

"The songs on Cannibal Courtship are about struggling in relationships, about people in relationships that are feeding off one another," says Zac Holtzman, who uses the double-neck for songs like "Uku," off the new album, where he has to switch quickly between Western and Cambodian axes. "But that's a theme that also seemed to make a lot of sense with what we do. We are inspired by and feed off each other's cultures. As a band, we are inspired by Cambodian culture and by Cambodians being inspired by garage and psychedelic music. So it all seemed to make perfect sense."

Read the rest.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Kilgour and Davila 666

Couple of good things up at Blurt now.

First, though I didn't write it, is an interview/feature on David Kilgour whose Left by Soft is on very heavy play in this house at the moment. I'm wondering if it was email, given the time difference and the sparsity of quotes, but anyway, it's a nice piece.

Second is an album review that I did write about Tan Bajo, the latest album from Puerto Rican garage-istes in Davila 666.

Davila 666
Tan Bajo

(In the Red)

This gritty, fuzz-fogged, anthemic garage punk from Puerto Rico really needs no translation, even if the lyrics are in Spanish. For "Obsesionao," you can read Clash-into-Dirtbombs swagger, fuzz guitar blasting through fists-in-the-air chorus. "Yo Seria Otro" dips further into rock ‘n roll history. It's a snotty, bratty romantic kiss-off in black-leather-clad, motorcycle-revving early 1960s style. "Los Cruces" slips an Elvis-y rockabilly hiccup into its head-long Nuggets-vamping rush, while "Patitas," the best of the album's undiluted rockers splits the difference between the Ramones and the Buzzcocks.


"Esa Nena Nunca Regreso"

Arbouretum, Carl Jung and the great outdoors

I interview Dave Heumann about his really excellent new-ish Arbouretum album The Gathering today at PopMatters.

The Natural Order: An Interview With Dave Heumann of Arbouretum

By Jennifer Kelly 2 May 2011

“The feeling of being out in nature and disconnected from the man-made world can create different thought patterns. It can generate a different state of mind,” says Dave Heumann the songwriter for Arbouretum. “If I’m out in the woods and go to a quarry for a swim and hike around, my mental state is going to be qualitatively very different than if I sit inside my apartment and screw around on Facebook all day.”

Aptly enough, Heumann is walking through the woods when I ask him about his connection to nature. Yes, he’s on a path in north Baltimore, not an Appalachian trail. Yes, he’s on his way to a coffee shop, not about to cook porridge over a flintlock fire. But the fact remains that he’s in a forest, which is exactly where you’d expect Heumann to be after hearing even a fragment of Arbouretum’s guitar-wrenching, distortion-fuzzed take on rustic rock and roll.

Heumann is the kind of songwriter who, when he slips in a lyric about a tree or a bird or a running river, seems to have actually observed such objects, not just read about them in books. There’s something elemental about his fuzzed-drenched, Americana-infused anthems, something both grounded and deeply mystical. His fourth and latest album, The Gathering fuses the guitar heroics of Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young with the weathered calm of Kris Kristofferson or Michael Hurley. It also includes a good helping of the otherworldly, partly inspired by a fascination with Carl Jung and his Red Book.

A link to the rest

“Destroying to Save”

In other news, we won our first track meet at Keene Middle School on both the girls' and boys' side. Also Saturday at our big home relays meet (an enormous headache getting everybody onto a team with two boys and two girls and then a quarter of the team doesn’t show up and we have to rejigger everything at the last minute), we tied with Keene for the win. Keene is probably twice as big as our school, so tying is like winning. So track is off to a pretty good start. Aside from feeling exhausted and like I’ve been nibbled to death by mosquitos (for an inkling of the experience, get someone to ask you: “Is this a relay?” thirty times in a row and each time, answer, “Yes, everything’s a relay today.”), I’m enjoying the coaching. I really like the kids, even when they’re driving me crazy.

Also, on Sunday, I bought a new laptop to replace one that finally died last month, so I can download promos again.

And finally, I’m reading This Band Could be Your Life right now and enjoying it immensely, but could use some Black Flag if anyone wants to share.