Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rob Crow hates the Beatles...and so do I

I had a pretty entertaining interview with Rob Crow a few months all about it at PopMatters today.


Seems like just the other day i was digging the Beets debut out of one of the piles on my floor, two years late, but just as enjoyable. They've come out with two albums since then and cleaned up their sound considerably. I'd say that right now, they're one of the really good, promising garage rock bands...sort of where the Fresh and Onlys were a year or two ago.

Anyway, I reviewed the third (very quickly) for Dusted and it runs today.

The Beets
Let the Poison Out
Hardly Art

“A collection of 13 songs about letting the poison out of your system by the Beets,” reads the line-drawn cover of this third album from the Jackson Heights band. The art, as per usual by Matt Volz, is colorful and primitive, showing grinning girls murdering ghosts in various ways (cutting, burning, whacking with a baseball bat). And so, right away, before even listening, we are confronted with the main elements of this album — the childish glee, the violence, the giddy-colored simplicity of its sawed-off garage pop.


Doing As I Do"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Erkin Koray

This was freaking great…a singles comp from one of Turkey’s foremost rockers.

Erkin Koray
Meçhul: Singles and Rarities (LP)
(Sublime Frequencies)

Erkin Koray is widely regarded as the father of Turkish psychedelic rock, a polyglot stew of alternate Eastern-tinged tunings and American- and British-style guitar bravado. Beginning in the late 1950s and continuing to this day, Koray has blended traditional Anatolian folk with the fuzz and swagger of amplified distortion. Like his home city of Istanbul, he stands at the conjunction of many different traditions, in geographic terms spanning the music of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, in temporal ones, the folk melodies of pre-history, the psych ferment of the 1960s, the progressive experiment of the 1970s, the new age-y ethno-explorations of the 1970s and 1980s. Using primarily Western instruments - guitar, bass, drums - but also an amplified lute-like instrument called an electric baglama, Koray juxtaposes the swirling, psychedelic excesses of Nuggets-era rock and roll with the primal longing and fundamental rootedness of Turkish folk. His music sounds at once like a lost 1960s band you never heard of, and a dazzled meander through a souk, foreign and familiar elements shifting second by second, measure by measure.


erkin koray - mechul - singles & rarities (album preview) by experimedia

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dan Melchior Und Das Menace

Checking out WFMU's Heavily Played 11/23/11 edition and found this right at the top, a new-ish record from Dan Melchior called Catbirds and Cardinals on the Northern Spy label.

I don't have the record, but the soundcloud giveaway is cracking me up...with some pretty good side swipes at Posh and Beckham, Liam Gallagher and others who arose a uniquely "English Shame." Anyway it's fuzzy and rough and primitive, but in a very smart way. Enjoy.

Dan Melchior und das Menace - English Shame by Northern Spy Records

Friday, November 25, 2011

Geoffrey O'Connor

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded a whole bunch of promos people had sent me, put them all in a file on my thumb drive and imported them simultaneously into iTunes. All of which was very time-efficient and practical, except that some of them hadn't been tagged properly (i.e. at all) so I had a bunch of stuff that I didn't know what it was and which album it belonged to, and all in all a big mess. One of the ones that got most screwed up was Geoffrey O'Connor's Vanity Is Forever. I'm still not sure I've heard the whole album and there are a couple of tracks that might or might not be part of the album, who knows? But in any case, what I've heard is pretty good, medium-sad synth pop which reminds me, at its best, of Scritti Politti, especially this give-away track "Whatever Leads Me to You."

"Whatever Leads Me To You"

Hope you all got to Walmart in time for the $300 laptops, if that's your thing, or if not, that you are enjoying a free Friday ...I know I am. Now for that Erkin Koray review.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving day, yeah, turkey's in the oven, half an hour done, four hours to go...and meanwhile a shout to the Dutty Artz label and DJ Rupture for discovering Moroccan singer and banjoist Hassan Wargui of the band Imanaren, whose mesmerizing, hypnotic, otherworldly self-titled album is out now.

Says Dutty Artz:

Imanaren is beautiful mystical music from the south of Morocco. Jace found them during our Beyond Digital residency project last summer in Casablanca- and after becoming close friends with the band leader Hassan, we decided to re-release their self titled, DIY full length. We traveled to Hassan’s hometown of Issafen via a grueling 12 hour drive into a sublime desert of martian rock formations and dusty oases. Nearly half way through our stay, Hassan’s father finally asked us why exactly we had come. Hassan isn’t allowed to play music in the house, so we recorded with his local friends and fellow musicians in a natural amphitheater carved out by a waterfall in a dry gorge. We will be selling an extremely limited number of the original Moroccan CD pressings that Hassan had distributed on a small scale through Morocco- other then that, stream it all on Hassan’s youtube channel – or cop it amazon, boomkat, or any other fine digital shop. Watch the video we shot in Issafen for “Flowering Of The Wise” and Hassan’s first collabo with Nettle below.

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Until the telephone started ringing, ringing, ringing

Yeah, so I'm interviewing Jimmy Tamborello in about an hour, supposedly, about the new deluxe reissue of Dntel's Life Is Full of Possibilities...which I bought when it came out but hadn't listened to in ages until recently...and it's holding up really well, I think.

You might remember the single "This Is the Dream of Evan and Chan" which Ben Gibbard sang and which formed the basis for the Postal Service (the band, not the mail delivery organization...remember the copyright wrangle over that?).

Anyway, wish me luck.

After that I'm going to do some cooking, so tomorrow isn't so busy. Have a good thanksgiving and drive carefully, if you're driving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Susanna...without the Magical Orchestra

I've got a review up today at Dusted of an interesting project from Susanna Wallerud...the "Susanna" part of "Susanna and the Magical Orchestra." This particular album is a cycle of poems by Guvnor Hofmo, one of Norway's foremost modern poets...and it's pretty good, though only so far released in Norway.

Susanna Wallǿumrod
Jeg Vil Hjem Til Menneskene>

With her Magical Orchestra, Susanna Wallǿumrod has made some of the 2000s most haunting music, transforming over-heard chestnuts like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” into evocative, nearly otherworldly experiences. She has, up to now, seemed strongest as an interpreter. Her last album with The Magical Orchestra, 3, was mostly originals and mostly fairly forgettable electro pop. With Jeg Vil Hjem Til Menneskene, Wallumrǿd sets herself to the task of interpreting the work of one of Norway’s leading modern poets, Gunvor Hofmo, whose earliest published work “Jeg Vil Hjem Til Menneskene,” or “I Want to Go Home to the People,” provides the album’s title.


There are some song samples at the Forced Exposure page.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nordic Nomadic

This one slipped by on Friday at Dusted, my review of the second album under the Nordic Nomadic name by Deadly Snakes' Chad Ross.

Nordic Nomadic
Worldwide Skyline
Tee Pee

A lattice-work of acoustic picking is ruptured abruptly by thunder-rumbling electric guitar. A nature journal’s litany of plant-and-animal-life metaphor shifts suddenly into talk of the devil. This second album from Nordic Nomadic explores the interstices of quiet folk and louder psychedelia, of ordinary life and its supernatural undercurrents. Chad Ross, the group’s sole member and a veteran of Deadly Snakes and Quest for Fire, inserts Six Organs-esque drones and Greg Weeks-like acid leads into placid country forms, in a transcendental meditation on the elements of freak folk.


I'm not really finding any media to go with this, but there's a clip in the Dusted review.

We had a pretty good time in Chicago. My son and I did our first college visit at Northwestern, and also saw my parents and went to a football game. The interview/tour went really well and though NU was Sean's first choice before this, it is probably even more so now. He wants to major in theater, which is a really, really strong department there.

Anyway, I'm already missing him and he's still here, but I can see him happy there, so that's something.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Amen Dunes

I had a pretty big week at Dusted, three reviews, including this one of the drony, folky, Velvet Underground evoking Amen Dunes, whose album Through Donkey Jaw is out now on Sacred Bones.

Again, I'm just going to give you my favorite paragraph.

"The main thing with Through Donkey Jaw is texture, a haunting, indeterminate mesh of sounds — usually electric guitar, sometimes keyboards, often shaken percussion — that coalesces around a dreaming, haunted mood. The primary colors vary — 'Not a Slave' is 'Venus In Furs' style Velvetiana, 'Lower Mind' evokes acoustic Kurt Vile, 'Baba Yaga,' the folkier elements of Michael Yonkers — but they are all smudged and strung out and attenuated to the point of dissolution. Even the more abrasive outings, nightmarish 'Jill,' endless, static 'For All,' are falling apart as you look at them. Decay is not just part of the sound. It is the sound. This is a boy in his bedroom fighting against entropy, dropping fragile observations about love into the roar of an abyss."

The rest of the review.

Amen Dunes - Christopher by sacredbones

In other, far less cool and acceptable news, I was listening to an NPR report on the demise of R.E.M. and decided that I just had to hear those songs again, so I have loaded Murmur, Green and Automatic for the People onto the iTunes. Because of my own OCD mental illness tendencies, that means I will have to listen to all of them at least three and preferably four times over the next couple of weeks, so expect to see the tilt noticeably towards Athens. Weirdly, my husband and Bill Barry were almost exact lookalikes roundabout Murmur, so looking at the photos in the expanded reissue are kind of like looking at the guy I decided to marry, all those years ago. No idea if they still look the same.

Also, I'm going to Chicago for the weekend and will probably not be around to post and/or respond to comments. (though who knows, I'll have an iPod touch with me and I do get bored....)

So have a good weekend and go Northwestern!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shocker: I love the new Bats

Yeah, I gave it all away in the title didn't I? After about half a lifetime of really enjoying the Bats, I am, unsurprising, quite taken with the eighth and newest album, which is called Free All the Monsters.

Here is my favorite paragraph from a review up at Dusted today, in which I fumble to explain why my favorite part of the album (which is not going to be everyone's favorite part) is so great. All together now..."Hey-ey-ey-ey-aye."

"You could spend a lot of time unearthing middle age insecurities in Free All the Monsters’s lyrics, the simple things that no longer satisfy, the days that drag on, the years that fly by. It’s all there, observed obliquely but accurately, and without self-pity. Still, I have to admit that my favorite line is the “hey-ey-ey-ey-aye” that brackets each verse of “Fingers of Dawn.” There’s a warmth and assurance in these meaningless syllables, a serenity that transcends any linear narrative. The song is about waking up from a dream, relinquishing an imaginary haven and coming to terms again with ordinary life. It’s an unpleasant process, this daily rebirth and reorientation, but I like to think of the “hey-ey-ey-ey-aye” refrain as the sunlight streaming through the window, making another day of the quotidian struggle possible, even somewhat attractive."

What, you still want to read the rest of the review? Inexplicable.

Here's an official video for "In the Subway," which raises the question, "Are there subways in Dunedin?" Who knew?

In other breaking news, I am also totally loving Ersatz G.B., the 900th (or is it 901st?) album from Mark E. Smith & Co. (Did I mention that I hung up on his wife once? No? Hah, get me drunk and I'll tell you about it.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crystal Stilts do Hazelwood, Blue Orchids

A five-song EP from the Brookyn drone-pop romantics who were, last time I saw them, dreadful live, but pretty damned good on record. The EP is most remarkable for its two interesting covers -- one of Lee Hazelwood's "Still of the Night" the other (the main reason I put it on the player in the first place) Blue Orchids' "Low Profile."

anyway, reviewed for Blurt a day or two ago.

Crystal Stilts
Radiant Door
(Sacred Bones)

Crystal Stilts has always worked in a glamorous murk, submerging spectral melodies in pools of reverb, shrouding strident post-punk rhythms in a penumbra of distortion. Their debut, Alight of Night, threaded hopelessly romantic hooks through a dungeon cavern of echo, the doomy miasma as much a part of the sound as the tunes themselves. Yet here, on this five-song EP, the band reaches for a measure of clarity. Perhaps it's the assistance of Gary Olson, he of the super-clean, super-clear Ladybug Transistor; perhaps there's more money for production; or perhaps the band just feels that their music has matured enough to bear closer scrutiny. In any case, Radiant Door is sharper and more focused than any Crystal Stilts recording to date. The hand-claps (yes, hand-claps) on opener "Dark Eyes" practically leap out of the mix, and the guitar strums that keep time with them are only a hair less startling. Yes, there's a fair bit of organ drone for blurry continuity and Brad Hargett is still singing as if from the bottom of a well, but this is a brighter, more lucid Crystal Stilts than before.


Crystal Stilts - Dark Eyes by sacredbones

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nathan Salsburg

Very nice solo acoustic guitar album from Nathan Salsburg

Nathan Salsburg
No Quarter

Nathan Salsburg makes intricate guitar figures sound uncomplicated and sunny. A veteran of Tompkins Square’s Imaginational AnthemM project, he picks with brio through a septet of front-porch blues originals (and one traditional cover). The notes fly thick and fast, landing with precision and a swaggering bit of swing, yet there is never any sense of hurry. Salsburg, who has worked as an archivist for the Alan Lomax project for more than a decade, and whose Root Hog or Die blog and radio program document historical picking styles, has clearly learned not just the technique but the pace of pre-automobile, pre-internet America. Whether bouncing merrily through buggy-trotting, country-lane evoking “Sought and Affirmed” or taking a more meditative turn in “Eight Belles Dreamed the Devil Was Dead,” Salsburg seems to have all the time in the world.


"Sought and Hidden"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oneohtrix Point Never

A short review of Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica at Blurt today...

Oneohtrix Point Never
(Software/Mexican Summer)

Synth wizard Daniel Lopatkin injects a sense of rhythmic play into Replica, turning the boundless, water-colored landscapes of last year's Returnal, just like that, into kinetic sculptures. Early single "Sleep Dealer" dusts synth-washed undercurrents with glittery-high keyboard flourishes, transforming deep mystery into primary-colored child-like wonder.

More (but not much more)

A lot of people really don't like this video, apparently.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kathryn Calder

Sometime New Pornographer Kathryn Calder has a pretty good album out now in Bright and Vivid, which I reviewed for Dusted and it ran today.

Kathryn Calder
Bright and Vivid
File Under Music

Kathryn Calder makes bright, uneasy pop. Its surfaces glitter, its interior a spider-web of hairline fractures. Her second album, following 2010’s Are You My Mother?, explores existential dread in the chipper textures of synthesizer and diva pop.


"Who Are You"

We were going to see the Feelies tonight, but the roads are still out from Hurricane Irene and I couldn't figure out how to get there. So we're watching more of Season Three of Fringe instead...and I'm kind of psyched about it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Like that dreamy psychedelic pop? Willing to brook sweeping, Liberace-style piano runs and even the occasional harp flourish? Obsessed with the fact that someday, you and everyone you know will die? Boy, have I got a band for you.

It's Sunbears! (punctuation required), a Florida-based duo whose lavish, cosmically-minded debut You Will Live Forever (no you won't) debuts next week on New Granada records. It's large scale, pop madness, along the lines of Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev and MGMT, though obviously on a smaller budget.

Why not "Give Love a Try" a try?

"Give Love a Try"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lemony Snicket weighs in on Occupy Wall Street

I love this.

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance

1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.

2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.

3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.

4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.

5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.

6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.

7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.

8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.

9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.

10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.

11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.

12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.

13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

Jennifer O'Connor -- I Want What You Want

Female singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen, but very few of them as are raw and honest and intelligent and just good at what they do as Jennifer O'Connor. You might remember, she used to record for Matador, but has lately been releasing on her own Kiam label. Her latest, I Want What You Want came out yesterday, apparently her birthday, so in addition to everything else, we're practically twins. (go team scorpio!)

Anyway, you can stream the whole thing here on Soundcloud. I've been enjoying it a lot and may try to review it somewhere when i finish up some other stuff.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Buraka Som Sistema

Pretty good afro-electro-dance type stuff from Buraka Som Sistema, out today...

Buraka Som Sistema

The Angolan-born, Lisbon-based Afro-dance collective Buraka Som Sistema makes a "day of the dead" style offering of the year's spookiest, butt grooves. Komba, the band's third album, ups the techno factor from 2008's Black Diamond, pushing Buraka's infectious kuduro-samba-house-rave hybrid into shinier, more modernistic directions.

At the same time, though, the band digs deep into tradition, mining Angolan theories of the afterlife. The first song, an insouciantly, body-moving cut called "Eskeleto" concerns a skeleton. The second, "Komba" describes a ritual party held seven days after a person's death, graveside, with singing, dancing, food and drink. A clear highlight, the song rattles with street parade snare cadences, burbles with organs and quick-steps to a better world on chant of "We're setting up the komba, they cry for me, the komba, they dancing at the komba, celebrate my life, the komba." The komba sounds like fun. It's a shame you have to die for it.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Look my Bonnie Prince Billy review turned into a feature...

It's up at Blurt

I concluded..."These are subtle songs, sparely arranged and underplayed, murmured, sighed and spoken as much as they are sung. There are a few showy passages, but mostly Oldham whispers to you. He gives you space to lean in and listen. He allows time between the notes for you to ponder along with him, the transience of life, the cruelty of disappointment and the saving grace of music. Wolfroy Goes to Town haunts you quietly, in a private way that is, somehow, all the more devastating."

This is a remix of "Quail and Dumplings"

Agent Ribbons

A week or so ago, i put on the two disc Friend of Friends compilation from the Tender Loving Empire label, 47 tracks in all, and, to be honest, most of it pretty high on the "meh" factor. However, There is one cut on the second disc that has caught my attention, called "I'm Alright" by Agent Ribbons.

Agent Ribbons is not, technically, a Tender Loving Empire artist. They're on the uniformly excellent Antenna Farm instead, and Antenna Farm is, very generously, sharing this track.

"I'm Alright"

I won't bother you with the other 46.

Hey, it's my birthday. It's a big round one, too (hint, the last one that is a factor of 100 until I actually hit 100, if I am so lucky) that may just tip me over into the "too old to write about music" category, I don't know.

I'm still younger than Michael Gira, Thurston Moore, Ian MacKaye...but older than pretty much everyone else.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Emperor X's Western Transport

A very late addition to my year-end list, this more or less one man effort from hyper intelligent Chad Metheny. Emperor X reminds me a lot of Hallelujah the Hills in its overpacked, nervous upbeat-ness and the way it runs roughshod over a very dense mesh of references and associations. I called it, "an intricate, but convoluted kind of pop, in my review at Dusted, and noted that, "There’s a buzz of feedback at the back of many of these percolating melodies, a sense they could turn feral at any given moment, that they’re held in check only by the intense concentration of their multi-talented ringmaster."

The rest of the review is here.

Anyway, the album, which is called Western Teleport has been out for a month or two on Bar/None records. There are a couple of free downloads ("Erica Western Teleport" and "Canada Day") at the Western Teleport website.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gringo Star

In the category of not life-changing but really, really fun, I offer Gringo Star, the Atlanta-based shamble-pop outfit, whose second album Count Yer Lucky Stars is out now on Gigantic Music.

My fellow Blurt writer, Barry St. Vitus, reviewed it effusively a week or so ago, saying "Folks that frothed over the first album will find that the band has ripened some in their songwriting, but that it still carries the exuberance, as well as the Puckish mixture of Brit-pop, a la Supergrass and The Kinks, some ‘50s ducktail, and the surfy-garage sound they're keen on. Fans of Harlem, the Sorrows, the Soft Pack, and the Gringos' fellow Atlantans The Black Lips, will eagerly clamber on board for these guys."


I like "Got It" the best, and it reminds me of something that I absolutely cannot put my finger on...but of course, they're pushing "Shadow" instead.

They're supposed to be pretty good live, too, if you happen to live in any of these towns:

11/3 - Urban Lounge - Salt Lake City, UT
11/4 - Triple Nickel Tavern - Boulder, CO
11/6 - Turf Club - Minneapolis, MN
11/8 - Club Garibaldis - Milwaukee, WI
11/9 - Firebird - St. Louis, MO
11/10 - Subterranean - Chicago, IL
11/11 - Loading Dock - Traverse City, MI
11/12 - MOTR - Cincinnati, OH
11/13 - Black Cat - Washington, D.C.
11/14 - Kung Fu Necktie - Philadelphia, PA
11/15 - Slim's - Raleigh, NC
11/19 - Star Bar (Album Release Party) - Atlanta, GA

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Human Instinct reissues

The great reissue house Sunbeam has resurrected the New Zealand psyche-blues-acid-prog band Human Instinct's three full-lengths including the classic Stoned Guitar form 1970, which featured the antipodes best response to Jimi Hendrix in the guitar work of one Billy TK.

Here's Human Instinct's page at Sunbeam.

The official Human Instinct web page (warning, no music of any kind, not even streams or 30-second samples on offer.

A promotional video

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Time is round and space is curved

You could do a lot worse than spending a week with Robyn Hitchcock's new best-of collection, Chronology...which is what I've been doing. My review runs at Blurt this morning, but there's actually not much to say about this, except it's a good listen, a reasonable entry point and an excellent, manageably-sized reminder.

I wrote, "There are no real surprises here, nothing new for the devoted fan to chew on. Still pretty much every track is a winner, from the opening salvos of punkish "I Want to Destroy You" through the spare melancholy of acoustic "Queen Elvis" through the shadowy, charcoal smudged mysteries of "Goodnight Oslo." Look at Chronolology as the world's oddest Whitman's box sampler. Choose any one of these truffles of eccentricity and bite down. You can hardly go wrong."

The rest