Thursday, December 14, 2006

playlist from 12-13-06

I filled in on the Random Acts of Music radio program and played the following


Magnolia Electric Co. - The Dark Don't Hide It - Trials & Errors
Lucero - Little Silver Heart - S/T
Frank Black & The Catholics - Manitoba - Show Me Your Tears
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Nevertheless - Tepid Peppermint Wonderland
Galaxie 500 - Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste
Marissa Nadler - Hay Tantos Muertos - Ballads of Living & Dying
Animal Collective - Grass - Feels
Mogwai - Like Herod - Young Team
Warmer Milks - Pentagram of Sores - Radish on Light
Comets On Fire - Whiskey River - Blue Cathedral
Dungen - Panda - Ta Det Lugnt
Black Lips - Boomerang - Let It Bloom
Skygreen Leopards - Places West of Shawnapee - Disciples of California
My Morning Jacket - The Way That He Sings - At Dawn
Howlin' Rain - Calling Lightening With a Scythe - S/T
Franklin's Mint - Carousel Baby - Gold
Flin Flon - Leading Tickles - Boo Boo
Ween - The Golden Eel - The Mollusk
Growing - Cutting, Opening, Swimming Southern Wrights - The Sky's Run Into The Sea
Spacemen 3 - Take Me To The Other Side - Perfect Prescription
The Gories - Goin' To The River - I Know You Be Houserockin'
The Dirtbombs - I Started A Joke - If You Don't Already Have A Look

Monday, December 04, 2006

playlist from 12-03-06

I sat in on the Mrs. Robinson show (indie & electronic) on 89.3 WHFR-Dearborn tonight while she was finishing up a paper for school.

(band - song - album - label)

1. Unrest - Can't Sit Still - Fuck Pussy Galore & All Her Friends! - Teenbeat
2. Unrest - Scott & Zelda - Fuck Pussy Galore & All Her Friends! - Teenbeat
3. The Black Lips - Boomerang - Let It Bloom - In The Red
4. Super Furry Animals - Sidewalk Serfer Girl - Rings Around The World - XL
5. Of Montreal - Requiem For O.M.M. 2 - The Sunlandic Twins - Polyvinyl
6. Four Tet - Smile Around The Face - Everything's Ecstatic - Domino
7. Stereo Total - C'est La Mort - Oh Ah - Kill Rock Stars
8. Cibo Matto - Birthday Cake - Viva La Woman - Warner Bros.
9. Miho Hatori - A Song For Kids - Ecdysis - Rykodisc
10. Tom Waits - Tango Til They're Sore - VH1 Storytellers
11. Tom Waits - Ol' 55 - VH1 Storytellers
12. Tom Waits - Day After Tomorrow - Real Gone - Anti
13. Death In Vegas - Help Yourself - Scorpio Rising - Sanctuary
14. Nouvelle Vague - Love Will Tear Us Apart - Self Titled - Luaka Bop
15. Spiritualized - Shine A Light - Royal Albert Hall, 10 October 1997, live - Arista
16. Early Day Miners - Return of the Native - Offshore - Secretly Canadian
17. Brian Eno - Deep Blue Day - Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks - E.G. Edition
18. The Vaselines - Son Of A Gun - The Way Of The Vaselines - Sub Pop
19. Orange Juice - Blue Boy - The Glasgow School - Domino
20. Felt - The Spanish House - The Strange Idols Pattern & Other Short Stories - Cherry Red
21. The Reindeer Section - Whodunnit? - Son Of Evil Reindeer - Bright Star Recordings
22. Edith Frost - Stars Fading - It's A Game - Drag City
23. Six Organs Of Admittance - Words For Two - School Of The Flower - Drag City
24. Joanna Newsom - Monkey & Bear - Ys - Drag City

playlist from 11-27-06

I'm now a DJ on WHFR Dearborn, a college radio station. Our internet address is, we stream live in realtime for those of you unfortunate enough to live outside of our broadcasting range. My first show was last Monday night, sitting in on the Cloak & Dagger radio show, whose DJs had prior commitments. I haven't got my own show just yet, so I'm filling in for other DJs who can't do their show for whatever reason. It was my first time being live on the air, and I predictably sucked. Since I'm a packrat who can't throw anything away I decided to keep a log of the songs I played for each show I do.

Playlist from 11-27-06, sitting in on the Cloak & Dagger show (indie rock)

(the format is band-song-album-label)

1. Spoon - The Beast & Dragon, Adored - Gimme Fiction - Merge
2. Arab Strap - The Shy Retirer - The Shy Retirer EP - Chemikal Underground
3. Luna - Lovedust - Romantica - Jetset
4. The Moldy Peaches - Lucky #9 - self-title - Rough Trade
5. Early Day Miners - Return Of The Native - Offshore - Secretly Canadian
6. Saturday Looks Good To Me - Since You Stole My Heart - Every Night - Polyvinyl
7. Tom Waits - The House Where Nobody Lives - Mule Variations - Anti/Epitaph
8. Hush Arbors - Broken Bones - Landscape Of Bones - Three Lobed
9. Marissa Nadler - Annabelle Lee - Ballads Of Living & Dying - Eclipse
10. Destroyer - The Sublimation Hour - Streethawk: A Seduction - Misra
11. The Magnolia Electric Co. - 31 Seasons In The Minor Leagues - Hard To Love A Man EP - Secretly Canadian
12. Songs:Ohia - Whip-Poor-Will - The Magnolia Electric Co. (bonus disc) - Secretly Canadian
13. The Shins - Turn On Me - Wincing The Night Away - Sub Pop
14. The Shins - Girl Sailor - Wincing The Night Away - Sub Pop
15. Elf Power - Peel Back The Moon, Beware! - Back To The Web - Rykodisc
16. Guided By Voices - Liquid Indian - Do The Collapse - TVT
17. The Renderers - Dream Of The Sea - A Dream Of The Sea - Siltbreeze
18. The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Sailor - Tepid Peppermint Wonderland - Tee Pee
19. Bonnie Prince Billy - Buried Treasure - Cold & Wet 12" - Drag City
20. Silver Jews - Room Games & Diamond Rain - Bright Flight - Drag City
21. Angels Of Light - Song For My Father - Doctors Without Borders box set - Durtro-Jnana records
22. SunnO))) & Boris - The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep) - Altar - Southern Lord
23. Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter - The Dreaming Dead - Oh, My Girl - Barsuk
24. Neutral Milk Hotel - Two Headed Boy, pt. 2 - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - Merge

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Dirt Road Ragas and Expatriate Gypsy Flamenco Blues

When I was a little kid, if my room was dark enough and I couldn't get to sleep at night, I would get a strange sensation that there were no walls around me and I was just floating alone in a big black void. Every now and then when I'm lucky enough I still get that sensation, and it usually has to do with music. I definitely got a big dose of it seeing Jack Rose perform last night. (for a laugh, check out what other musical act comes up when you google Jack Rose) He was playing in a really intimate, quiet room and the droning Americana infused ragas he coaxed out his 12 strings (well, 11 after one of them broke) were utterly transcendant. I had my eyes shut and lost track of time and my surroundings and found myself with that sensation that the walls around me had ceased to exist and I was all alone. It wasn't a hopeless feeling of complete isolation though, but quite the contrary. It's more in line with the Hindu concept of brahman, that we're all connected to the formless, transcendental, and immanent divine. That we're all plugged into the same life energy, like spokes on a wheel issuing from a central hub or those giant aspen tree groves whose root systems are intertwined. It's a really beautiful feeling that will probably last until I see someone with a Calvin pissing on Islam sticker on their truck or hear an Aerosmith song on the radio. It is nice to know it's there though (our connection to the divine no matter how distant, not stupid bumper stickers). He also played some really far out slide stuff on his lap guitar towards the end of his set but unfortunately for me my bladder was full to the bursting point and it was detracting from my blissed out mindset. Jack had a great new CD for sale available on the Archive label. Beautiful die cut and letter pressed packaging in a limited pressing of 1,000. Get yours now before the parasites have them listed on eBay when they're sold out.

After short break and a much needed trip to the bathroom, Peter Walker came out to play. I hadn't heard of this guy until a couple weeks ago when a CD of his came into the record store where I help out. The label on it had Ben Chasny heralding him as the biggest single influence on his music, so my interest was piqued. I hadn't heard him until last night and his performance was astounding. He had been in Spain studying with flamenco guitar masters in the early 60s, and was telling stories of clubs in caves that were hundreds of years old, where they beat you up and break your guitar if you disrespect their culture by playing poorly. His style was a seamless blend of Indian ragas (he had also studied with Ravi Shankar), gypsy flamenco, and American folk. He was also telling stories about how the gypsy music wasn't too far removed from Indian music, and the influence they had on flamenco music. I hadn't really made that connection, but it made perfect sense, and his guitar articulated it more clearly than anyone talking about it could have. It was his first time touring in the United States since the 60s, and it was very inspiring to hear an elder statesmen figure of the counter-culture talk about how he had been playing places like this all around the country, that it was nice to see the underground rising up again. It gives you hope that maybe we're not quite fucked yet. I should take a minute to talk about the venue, The Bohemian National Home. A couple months ago I figured out that I used to go there all the time when I was younger as it was a Lithuanian social club in the 80s. It's a non-descript brick building in a sketchy, very un-fashionable neighborhood that weeds out casual concert goers or someone just looking for a place to hang out and drink. You won't have to filter out overheard inane drunken chatter or cell phone conversations during the music because everyone there is going to be focused on the music. The crowds are always hushed and reverent at the types of shows like last night, but they also have punk and noise shows in the bigger rooms there. They also sell beer for a very reasonable price and keep admission prices low. I feel lucky that there are places like this in my city to go to.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Gravest Hits

Goooood evening...
I bet you all thought I was dead. I've just been sleeping. Like Lestat. My the rumblings of Altar have brought me forth from my slumber. Yup SunnO))) and Boris have collaborated. Not released a split, but all 5 have fused together to create a drony spacey masterpiece. It's good Halloween music. It got me to thinking about my favorite records to listen to around Halloween. So here they are, for this year (since none of these lists are ever definitive), my top 10 Halloween jams. I tried to stay away from stuff like goth (because I'm not 16 anymore), metal (duh, no brainer), or the Misfits (double duh, what song of theirs wasn't about Halloween or a horror movie?)

1. Warren Zevon - Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner
Yeah, yeah, I know that Werewolves of London is the one all the classic rock stations dust off this time of year, but let's give the man some respect. He wrote more than one tune.

2. Pink Floyd - Interstellar Overdrive
Awesome scary psych song. I love the formula of the introduction of the main musical theme, then an open-ended middle exploration before gradually making its way back to the original theme. Much like this next one....

3. Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
O.K. seriously. My dad saw Iron Butterfly with Canned Heat at the Fillmore East in 1970. He said it was a "drug supermarket" and that this song scared the shit out of him. I bet he was on a few barrels of Orange Sunshine at the time. (I think they should bring back barrels of LSD. Just for nostalgia. Like Wacky Packs.) But this song is the ultimate one-microgram-over-the-line anthem. I heard it on FM radio a few days ago but they pussied out and just played the single version so when I got home I put it on the turntable and cranked up to 11. That evil organ part is perfect for the season.

4. Flaming Lips - Scratchin' The Door
Another one in the same vein as the last 2. It's basically their version of Interstellar Overdrive. Creepy, crawly psych guitar lines and weirdo lyrics to boot.

5. Hawkwind - Masters of the Universe
This is my own personal drug freakout song. The first time I heard this song I was ripped on acid. It was terrifying. All I wanted to do was clamp my hands over my ears and go put on the Grateful Dead's "Anthem of the Sun" or something. But my inner Tyler Durden was urging me on, "This could be the greatest moment of your life and you're ruining it!" So I sucked it up and embraced the fear and came out the better for it. I mean, look at me, I got a blog now.

6. SunnO))) - Bathory Erzsebet
The whole BlackOne album is pretty amazing October music, and it's really hard to pick one track, but I mean they fucking locked Malefic in a coffin, miked it, and put it in the back of a hearse to record the vocals. Oh, and the dude has crippling claustrophobia. How does that not make for real terror in the vocals. Mixed with the deepest low end your puny human ears can pick up and the tolling iron bells, it's real mood music. Plus it's for Elizabeth Bathory, who according to legend, bathed in the blood of virgins to keep herself looking young. Cher took a beauty tip from her I bet.

7. Six Organs of Admittance - River of Transfiguration
This has more of a psychological scary vibe to it. It's not so much terror as it is the prelude to terror. You know something bad is going to happen in the movie when you hear this, and that moment is stretched out to nearly a half hour on this cut.

8. The Eagles - Hotel California
Don Henley. 3 guitars playing the most over-rated, overblown guitar solo in rock history. Everytime I hear this, I know there's a middle aged guy with a mustache and a business mullet working on his old Camaro in the garage and he closes his eyes and gets really into it at the end and shakes his head along with the notes and maybe makes a little bit of the lead guitar face. The horror.....the horror.

9. Tom Waits - like, most of the songs on The Black Rider
O.K. this one's got November, Flash Pan Hunter, Just The Right Bullets, Crossroads, and T'aint No Sin with William S Burrough's creepy old "I'm not dead yet" junkie vocals on it. Need I say more? This is the ultimate album for fall. For the cold rain blowing down your upturned collar. For scarecrows, rotting pumpkins, and grey skies. Just one more reminder like the thousands of wet leaves plastered to the concrete like thousands of advertisements for summer's demise. But goddammit, it sounds so good.

10. Faust - Faust Wakes Nosferatu
You can't really single out just one track on this album. It's more about creating an overall mood. Ideally there would be no track breaks on this album. Fantomas tried doing that but it didn't really work. It would for this. Plus, they're German.

Well that's it for tonight kiddies. I've got a few cans of beer and a mound of candy to eat (where the fuck are the trick-or-treaters? When I was their age we were out in force, dammit! Nowadays everyone is too scared from watching the news to let the kids go out) and some bad movies to watch. May the night fires and blood sacrifice of Samhain bring us a healthy crop next year! HAIL!


Friday, September 08, 2006

On PBR & Echoplexes

Comets On Fire played one of the scariest, most intense, fucked up, exhilirating sets I've ever witnessed the other night. It reminded me somewhat of Charles Baudelaire's book "On Wine & Hashish" in which he theorized that the only way to deal with living in a fucked up world is to get fucked up. He theorized that you should get intoxicated in any way you see fit, be it "on wine, poetry, or virtue" (I ran into my old roommate and he was on mushrooms but unfortunately he didn't have any more). Comets On Fire use outside sources I'm sure, but those thick, dissonant guitars, ear splitting echoplex and thundering rhythm section is a hell of a way to counter things like your own government doing things to you that they're supposed to protect you from, and soldiers and civilians alike getting blown away for no reason. It was a seldom relenting squall of noise that was like having an electric current passing through your ears and bouncing around the inside of your skull. They all looked like shamans in a trance, leading their small but faithful flock through some kind of ritual. I've listened to the new album Avatar a couple times and wasn't too impressed by it, but live the songs took on a ferocious new life. I'll have to go back and give it another listen and see if they sound different to me now that I've had my ears blown open to them. Another thing that struck me while they were playing is that I don't think there's ever been a band whose name describes what they sound like as well as Comets On Fire. Something from the reaches of outer space hurtling around the heavens at an ungodly speed with a seemingly indiscriminate destination while pieces of it break off and burn away. Today is the first day that my neck muscles don't hurt. I'd gladly suffer another two day bangover to be able to relive that set again.

Oh and I also need to type a few words on the opening act, Miss Alex White & The Red Orchestra. They came off like a faster paced, less polished version of Brian Jonestown Massacre. More of a garagey-psych-punk kinda sound, and instead of a junkie asshole for a lead singer they have a pint-sized curly headed ball of energy who didn't try to start fights with anyone there. Here's a video of a performance from Hamtramck a couple nights before opening for Comets On Fire.

Get this video and more at

Friday, September 01, 2006

Missing The Boat

Yep, it happens even to nerds like me who are always online. Here's a couple reviews that I have missed the boat on.
Espers - Espers II The first time I had ever heard the Espers was today. They're one of those bands I know I'm supposed to like but I had never gotten around to listening to them. I've been missing out on some good shit. They're in the upper echelon of the whole freak-folk/new weird America whatever you want to call that scene. Very similiar to The Feathers. The one thing that really sets them apart is the exquisite trance inducing vocals. Musically they create dense, dreamy, fuzzy soundscapes that are infused with the perfect amount of electricity to keep you from drifting off into acoustic lullaby-land, like on the opening track Dead Queen from the new album.

The Coachwhips - Double Dead Sadly, this is a posthumous CD/DVD release by San Francisco lo-fi trashy danceable (but not dance) punk band The Coachwhips. The CD portion compiles 26 previously unreleased cuts, mostly b-sides, covers, and studio shenanigans. It's really a shame that this band decided to hang it up, as besides the Black Lips, there aren't too many bands pulling off this kind of thing nowadays. Every song on this disc is like the funnest party you've ever been to, raw 2 minute energetic blasts of guitars cranked up to the breaking point, indecipherable shouted lyrics, all pushed at a breakneck speed by an organ. There's even a Gories cover on it. If you don't love this, you haven't got a pulse. I haven't seen the DVD yet but I'm sure it's a blast. If you weren't fortunate enough to catch the Coachwhips live , you should definitely check out this DVD so you can cry into your beer about having never seen one of the most frenetic live acts of the past 5 years. Rest In Pieces, oh ye Coachwhips.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bummer In The Summer

So it's been awhile since I've had the time to update. I started school again. What kind of dope goes to school in summer? Me, I guess. Since it's been so long, this is going to cover a lot of stuff with some short passages, sort of a tapas style review. The title of this update doesn't refer to the paper I just wrote on the United States' Middle East foreign policy (although it could) but instead to this

Arthur Lee dead at 61
Arthur Lee, frontman for the legendary psych-rock band Love has lost the battle to leukemia. Lee's manager released the following statement:
"His death comes as a shock to me because Arthur had the uncanny ability to bounce back from everything, and leukemia was no exception. He was confident that he would be back on stage by the fall. When I visited with him recently, he was visibly moved by the stories and pictures from the NYC benefit concert. He was truly grateful for the outpouring of love from friends and fans all over the world since news of his illness became public. Arthur always lived in the moment, and said what he thought when he thought it. I'll miss his phone calls, and his long voice messages, but most of all I'll miss Arthur playing Arthur's music."
Arthur was a wild man on and off the stage. On the last tour he did, he would refer to himself as "the first black hippie", boasting that he beat Hendrix to that title. He also served time in jail for drug and illegal firearms possession. I was fortunate enough to see Arthur perform a few years ago with Baby Lemonade backing him. When push comes to shove, Forever Changes is probably my favorite album ever made, which I am listening to as I type this. You'll be missed, Arthur.

Moving on to news from the WTF? sector, according to Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr is now a member of Modest Mouse. Apparently Johnny had been lending a hand on the new Modest Mouse album and that was supposed to be it, but he had so much fun that he decided to become a full-fledged touring member. In other news, Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock has had to throw out all his old pants and buy a new set with a larger front area to accomodate the permanent boner he will be sporting since Marr's decision to join the band. I'm going to keep an open mind about this. I was a big fan of a couple of the earlier MM albums, maybe Johnny joining the band will be a shot in the arm. OK, onto what I've been playing lately:

Six Organs Of Admittance - The Sun Awakens Ben Chansy follows up last year's gorgeous, folky School Of The Flower with a visceral, dark psychedelic rock album. There are a couple pretty instrumental sections on here, and also stuff that sounds like Ennio Morricone recording with bedouin nomads, but the last track is a long instrumental ambient drone mind-fuck that sounds like those dreams you have where you're walking through a tunnel of living muscle tissue that keeps getting narrower while you're bathed in a pulsing red light. But maybe that's just me. It's heavy, heady stuff, even though the drumming isn't as good as the work Chris Corsano turned in on School Of The Flower. Check out the scorching electric version of the acoustic song "You Will Be The Sun" Chasny submitted to David Tibet's "Not Alone" 5 CD box set, titled "Black Wall" on The Sun Awakens.

Six Organs Of Admittance - Days Of Blood tour CD-R Incredible live recordings from last year's fall tour. Half of the disc is Ben playing solo electric, the other half featurs Keith Wood (aka Hush Arbors on bass and Sunburned Hand's John Moloney on drums. If you weren't lucky enough to see them this summer tour, try looking at Eclipse Records for a copy.

Sunburned Hand Of The Man - self titled? - also picked up at the Six Organs show, this just comes in a purple digi-pack case with a skull and crossbones on the disc that contains 4 untitled tracks of the unnerving, nail biting, heavy drug use induced stupors that you love this band for.

Om / Current '93 split 10"- Inerrant Rays Of Infallible Sun (Blackship Shrinebuilder - Om and Current 93 join forces on this incredible record. The Om side features the trademark rock solid drumming by Chris Hakius supporting Al Cisernos' heavy bass lines and chanted vocals on Rays Of The Sun / To The Shrinebuilder, a more faster tune that's heavier than the selections from their At Gize album. The Current 93 side features David Tibet's apocalyptic poetry atop a single riff repeated until the end of the song (perhaps influenced by Om?). Again, this is heavier than anything from "Black Ships Ate The Sky" that he released earlier in the year, save for maybe the title track. Also, he name drops Reese Witherspoon and Pol Pot in the same verse. I don't get it either, this guy is light years ahead of you or I.

MV / EE with The Bummer Road - Mother Of Thousands - if you only buy one of the dozen or so Matt Valentine / Erika Elder releases this year, make it this one. Available on CD or a 2 LP set, it's a collection of some structured hippie folk rock songs in the vein of The Tower Recordings, as well as long, free-form psychedelic excursions with weird instrumentations. There's a side long version of the traditional "Death Don't Have No Mercy" that was a staple for the Grateful Dead in their early days, but don't look for any Jerry worship on this version, it's a completely different species.

Suishou no Fune - Where The Spirits Are - Far-out and heavy Japanese psychedelic space rock trio on Holy Mountain. Goes from sounding like The Ventures if they were from a galaxy far, far away to ragged extrapolations of the middle freak out section of "Whole Lotta Love". I highly recommend this one for late night herbal influenced headphone voyages.

The Eccentric Soul series - Vol. 8: Wayfaring Strangers-Ladies From The Canyon and Vol. 9: The Big Mack Label - The Numero Group has put out a killer series of CD's re-issuing uber-obscure songs sure to surprise even the most jaded "I've heard it all" music snob assholes on these compilations. The first, Ladies From The Canyon focuses on early 70's hippie folk acts, some with a Jesus slant, with female vocalists. Every song on this is just beautiful, with the exception of Eternal Life by Shira Small, whose utterly tuneless vocals just make it painful to listen to. But the tune "And I A Fairytale Lady" by Propinquity will make your jaw drop. The second is a collection of tunes from a little known label from Detroit called Big Mack Records. Where Motown was slick, Big Mack is raw. They didn't have a rhythm section like the Funk Brothers or an excellent recording studio to work with. These 19 tracks range from raw garage soul to heavy funk. These aren't the most talented musicians that Detroit had to offer (anyone could walk into Big Mack studios with 15 bucks and get a 45 cut) but these recordings were made by folks with a fire in their bellies that supercedes a need for musical ability. Highlights are the Mae Young track "The Man Puts Sugar In My Soul" that out-Tinas Tina Turner, the thunderous, sax heavy instrumentals by L Hollis and the Mackadoos, and the porno funk version of the old jazz standard "Fever" by Essence, complete with Barry White-esque spoken word intro.

well that's it for now. everyone keep cool, especially those in the midwest/east coast.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Howlin' Rain

The new project by Ethan Miller (Comets On Fire) and John Moloney (Sunburned Hand Of The Man) called Howlin' Rain can be succinctly summed up in two words: FUCK YEAH!. This is the second side project from brain damaging psychedelic bands to take a turn towards a pastoral classic rock sound. Phil Franklin (also of Sunburned) had released his Franklin's Mint album a couple months earlier, but these albums aren't really cut from the same cloth. As I stated earlier in the Franklin's Mint review that it's is a good hangover record, but the Howlin' Rain is a record to listen to while you're putting your body through what will cause you to be hungover the next morning. It has a hanging out at your friend's weird cousin's farm and drinking beer with your shirt off and blasting at your empty cans with shotguns and all the dudes have long hair and the chicks are wearing tank tops and cut off shorts and there's a barbeque and a bunch of dogs running around and at night someone rolls up joints on a Skynyrd album and everyone gets naked and jumps in the pond kinda vibe. They channel the same kind of energy running through early 70's Allman Bros. and Grateful Dead albums, but it's not without some of the Comets/Sunburned nastiness. (And say what you will about the Grateful Dead being boring hippie wankers. While in the mid-80's they turned into a parody of themselves and Garcia weighed 300+ pounds and was more interested in Haagen Dazs and heroin than remembering lyrics to songs he had been singing for decades, you can't deny that Workingman's Dead and American Beauty are some solid country tinged rock n roll albums). Ethan Miller's voice sounds like a red-lined, beat-up pick-up truck careening down a dusty road on a beer run, especially towards the end of "Death Prayer In Heaven's Orchard" and on "The Hanging Heart", the latter a blistering 9 minute plus epic with Miller dipping into his Comet's styled fuzzy freaked-out guitar tone. A couple tunes feature nice little touches of banjo, like on "Calling Lightning From A Scythe" before they wind themselves up into barbarous rock-n-roll abandon. Tim Daly brings the squalling saxophone sound that appeared on the Comet's "Blue Cathedral" record to a few songs as well, most notably on "Indians, Whores, And Spanish Men Of God", which also has the coolest bass line since Grand Funk stopped being relevant. The album closing murder ballad "The Firing Of The Midnight Rain" is one of my favorites. It's another one of the tunes that they're in no apparent hurry to finish up, with it's deep, head-nodding bass groove anchoring some guitar licks inspired by the aforementioned pair of Grateful Dead albums. In contrast to the gravelly vocals on most of the other songs Miller's voice is more soothing, and has an extended repetitive outro with the album's finest vocal harmonizing singing "all young men sleep easy / in the mud beneath the midnight rain / all love flows towards the ocean / with a smile upon my still face". And the second best reason to actually go out and buy this album instead of downloading it is the blotter paper worthy watercolor art work done by Arik Roper.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The events of my 6-6-06

Here's a quick breakdown of how I spent my 6-6-06:
12:00 midnight: camping on state land with some old friends. while we didn't quite adhere to all the slasher flick cliches (no booze, drugs, or sex) we did have the classic 3 dudes/2 chicks ratio and brought an axe to chop firewood with, but luckily for us the only blood drawn was from mosquitos. went to sleep uneasily with visions of dying at the hands of serial killers. Left the axe stuck ominously in the tree. I have seen far too many movies.
3 a.m. Awoken by a text message that read "Let him who have understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, six hundred and sixty six". as if I needed a reminder. Spend the next 5 hours tossing and turning because it's too hot under my sleeping bag and the coyotes keep howling and I can hear other things crashing through the woods.
11 a.m. Back in Detroit. Had my fill of sleeping without a roof over my head for a year. It's not natural to not have concrete under my feet. I sleep easier to the sound of gunfire and squealing tires. Win $27.50 in a single slot machine pull as I walk through the casino to get my parking garage ticket validated, so not only do I park for free, but make a tidy profit as well. Suckers.
6 p.m. Finally awake and really hungry. Go to the bar for "one quick beer" to strategize the rest of the evening. Want to play Slayer on the jukebox but there isn't any. Instead of going to get a nice healthy veggie burrito, the freezer at the bar breaks and there is a free feast of onion rings, fries, and chicken wings which I eat because I have been the world's worst vegetarian lately. 3 beers later I get a call saying I'm on the guest list for the Whirlwind Heat show so I make my way over there feeling like I may vomit from the grease.
9 p.m. Watching Whirlwind Heat. It looks like my friends and I are the oldest ones there, except for the one mom that is also in attendance. Their set was hot, but needed to be played in a smaller room. There probably weren't more than 80 people there in a room which holds around 450. Their spastic energy was somewhat diminished by all the empty space, but that didn't stop them from kicking out their fuzzy 33-rpm-porno-funk-cranked-up-to-45 jams to an appreciative audience. I guess it's hard to really get too crazy with someone's mom around. Still trying to figure out which side of the fine line that separates stupid from clever that the song about selling sperm is on.
10:15 Left the Stick before Be Your Own Pet played and made my way to the Lager House for Wolfbait. While waiting at the bar for their set to start, get a text message about how terrible Be Your Own Pet is from the door guy of the Stick. I figured as much, and there was no way I was going to miss Wolfbait on 6-6-06. I would pretty much be a fucking fraud. In a world where metal is in danger of taking itself way too seriously, all these brooding pasty boys with black hair and lip piercings screaming in bands with sentence fragment names (As I Lay Dying With My Bride In November or whatever), Wolfbait celebrates the glory days of metal with tongue in cheek reverence. When's the last time you saw a guy wearing Blind Guardian t-shirt and a black hooded cloak onstage while he cranked out Maiden and Priest worthy licks on his guitar? I didn't think so. He can even wax philosophical with the best metal frontmen with words of wisdom like "Midnight only lasts for a minute". You couldn't even see the fucking drummer because his kit was too big, and hell yes he has a double bass drum. They also have a song called "Eat Pussy Til We Puke" which is just as good of a name of any Anal Cunt song, but about a thousand times easier to listen to. I really wanted to stick around to see the new band featuring members of Rocket 455 (the greatest Detroit band you've never heard of who for all practical purposes should've been big rock stars) but I was just too worn out at that point. Wolfbait rocked my ass off.
11:45 p.m. Urinated on the tree in my backyard before wearily making my way to my bed for a proper night's sleep, free from the howling of coyotes and other things crashing through the woods.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Amplifier Worship

A bit late on the update from this one, but last Saturday had me driving down to Columbus to catch SunnO))) and Boris. I had been pretty excited for this show ever since I read about it a couple months ago. I was hoping for an unholy droning east-meets-west sludgefest and was not let down in the slightest. Boris brought the thunder from the east, alternating between Blue Cheer-y, wooly-mammoth-stuck-in-the-tar-pit heaviness and more spastic prog-with-a-fork-stuck-in-a-220-volt socket numbers. They had the younger kids moshing during the latter and the fat, long-haired & bearded dudes in black t-shirts with the sleeves cut off banging their heads slowly in approval during the former tunes. After a short break, the house lights went down and the stage began to fill with fog. Along with the blue stage lights and the numerous tiny red light bulbs hung around, it started to make the transition from concert hall to ceremonial drone cave where the evening's cochlea sacrifice would proceed. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Oren Ambarchi came out (shrouded in the de rigeur black hooded cloak) and began filling the air with piercing tones from his heavily processed guitar. After a few minutes of that O'Malley and Anderson, the High Priests of the Unholy Drone, came out, plugged in, and unleashed the power of the sunn amps. This was the first time I had seen them perform live and had heard how the sound manifests itself physically, but was completely unprepared for it. Up until that point, the loudest band I had seen was Mogwai, but that pain could be alleviated with earplugs. Not so with Sunn. The low end rumbles through your innards and vibrates your teeth. Like some sort of tribal shamans, they had their flock all resonating at the same frequency. If Shiva had an audio accompaniment to his work of destroying planets, it would definitely be SunnO))). (Curiously enough, someone told me that the word "sunno" in Hindi means "listen", but I've been too lazy to look into that. I prefer just believing blindly what he told me) Added to the steel string reverberations were Atsuo's (Boris' drummer) vocal chords and gong hits. Perched at the edge of the stage, and even jumping into the sea of outstretched arms at one point, his blasphemous shrieking-in-tongues whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

This was one of the best performances I've seen in awhile. Added to the fact that it's great music, the atmosphere they create just takes it up to another level. It's a lot more interesting that way than just a bunch of dudes who haven't showered in awhile in the same jeans and t-shirts they've had on for 3 days. With their stage theatrics, Sunn walks the line between over the top, Spinal Tap-esque heavy metal shlock and true reverence. Maybe I'm just some hack writer who completely missed the point, but the boundaries between taking the piss and exalting the dark forces were obscured by the fog machines. As always, the merch tables at shows like this get me into trouble but I was able to sufficiently restrain myself to keep a few bucks in my pocket for a post-show Waffle House stop. Nothing better to fill a post-drone rumbled belly with than a pecan waffle. If I was an enterprising opportunist I would've picked up a couple of the tour-only Sunn discs to flog on eBay (one went for over $140 bucks) but I was content to just pick up the one for myself, along with the picture disc LP of Black One and the high concept 2 disc Dronevil set by Boris. It's somewhat along the lines of the Flaming Lips' "Zaireeka", you sync up the 2 discs to play at the same time. They're impressive enough on their own, but when you actually do sync them up on 2 players, the result is stupefying.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

R.I.P. Desmond Dekker

Just a quick shout out to the memory of the man who turned me on to a whole genre of music I would've otherwise missed out on. I went to high school with a bunch of kids who were into ska, but they were all nerds with shaved heads and two-tone suspenders who listened to The Toasters and stuff like that. Not my cup of tea. Then the only experience I had with reggae was the Bob Marley discs that always played at my uncle's house while they all smoked pot. Bob Marley bored me to tears. Let's face it, he's basically the (half) black Jimmy Buffett. I know college freshmen everywhere will disagree with that statement (just look for any dorm room with a poster of Bob smoking a huge spleef), but it's pretty much the truth. My indifference to reggae all changed once I heard a little tune called "The Israelites" in a little movie called "Drugstore Cowboy". That snakey guitar line, repetitive rhythm, and soulful voice was cooler than Matt Dillon's outfits, and that's saying a lot because he looked pretty awesome in that movie. So I credit Desmond Dekker and Trojan Records (for all their amazing re-issues and box sets) for turning me onto a powerful, vibrant form of music that I otherwise would've just dismissed as the soundtrack to overpriveleged white college kids with dreadlocks preaching about the evils of "Babylon".
Here's an awesome video from a TV show show in the vein of "Top Of The Pops" of Desmond Dekker & The Aces performing "The Israelites" to a bunch of Dutch dudes with weird haircuts.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Black Ships Ate The Sky

David Tibet, the primary creative force behind Current 93 describes his newest album “Black Ships Ate The Sky” as “the closest I have come to picturing what I hope, and feel, and love, and fear.” It takes a certain amount of guts to do something like that, to tear down every shred of a protective barrier around your core and expose it to the elements and see what the end result is. What if no one cares? Or even worse, what if when you train that deep of an eye into the deepest recesses of yourself, the end result bores you? Luckily for us what resides inside of David Tibet is something so awe-inspiring, frightening, and magnificient that it’s resulted in the best album these ears have heard in the past 5 or so years. “Black Ships Ate The Sky” is the latest of Tibet’s prolific work with Current 93, released on his own Durtro-Jnana record label. The songs on this album are distinctly divided into two categories. The central theme is a rendition of Idumea (a hymn written in 1793 by the brother of the founder of the Methodist church), interpreted by the likes of Marc Almond, “Bonnie” Prince Billy, and Shirley Collins. Idumea is an interesting choice of a song to cover. It’s lyrical content is similar Tibet’s own lyrics (death, the afterlife/spirit world, eternity) but even more so when you consider the history of the song and who he chooses to interpret it. Idumea made a transatlantic journey and became a staple in Appalachian folk hymns (versions of it appeared on the Cold Mountain soundtrack) and by choosing both American and English artists to cover it, Tibet creates a musical bridge spanning oceans and centuries and left his own mark on an ever evolving art form. Even though this song appears 9 times on the album it never feels repetitive because each artists’ interpretation of it is quite different, the highlight being the almost a capella version sung by Antony. His voice is too beautiful to be human, it sounds like it’s coming from from an impossibly perfect blank eyed marble statue with angelic vocal chords. A modern day Pygmalion. The other half of the album is a song cycle concerning the mysterious black ships. At the peak of his song writing powers, Tibet is on par with the poetry of William Blake. The lyrics paint strange and wonderful and disturbing images of copper kings, umbrella ladies, and black ships devouring the clouds in your head, set to delicately picked folky acoustic guitars and the deep mournful tone of a cello. To the ever changing roster of musicians in Current 93, Tibet has added Ben Chasny. His style meshes so well with Tibet's that it's a wonder it has taken this long for it to happen. The album climaxes towards the end lyrically, musically, and emotionally with the title track, with corrosive, distorted guitars pounding the same chord repeatedly while the cello squeals and wails like John Cale's viola on "Heroin", with an impassioned David Tibet intoning “Who will deliver me from myself? “ over and over. At this point you're so far caught up in the web Tibet has gently spun, lulling you with soothing tones, that the industrial overtones of this song are rather jarring. After Tibet destroys the entire world he had created in the span of those 4 minutes, he uses a reprise of Why Caesar Is Burning as its requiem, and to ease your re-entry back into the "real world". I'm not exactly sure what the black ships are supposed to signify. The one theory I keep returning to is that it's symbolic of humanity's propensity towards self destruction. Of a fate we're almost certainly doomed for if we stay the present course. It's almost as if Tibet is hoping that there is in fact a deus ex machina to deliver us from ourselves.

Finally, the hippies have good record collections

Maybe it has to do with the fact that Phish broke up and the hippies with nowhere else to go have finally started listening to non-jamband fare. Maybe the hippies just decided that the String Cheese Incident wasn't doing it for them and started delving into authentic psychedelic weirdness. Dungen is championing Trad Gras Och Stenar, Devendra Banhart has Vashti Bunyan, Ben Chasny has uncovered Gary Higgins from whatever rock he's been hiding under. For the record I'm not calling Ben a hippie, just using that as a point of reference. And for the record, I think the term "freak-folk" is a really lame buzzword cooked up by lazy journalists who have to categorize everything. For good or ill, as of late there seems to be an overabundance of bands practicing a sort of hippie-ish/back-to-the-land ethos.  The problem with a glut of bands in any one “scene”, other than the inevitable backlash, is separating the wheat from the chaff.  Feathers, a collective from the white mountains of Vermont, fall into the former category. They were the backing musicians on the aforementioned Banhart’s most recent studio album “Cripple Crow”, but their self-titled debut released on Banhart’s gnomonsong label is far superior. This record has me almost ready to put all my metal records in a pile and light it on fire and dance around it barefoot drinking mushroom tea under a full moon. (almost).  Their songs have a psychedelic-folky vibe that makes them sound like they were recorded in a sunlit meadow amongst wildflowers swaying in a gentle breeze or in a circle of gypsy wagons around a campfire. The one track that has especially captured my heart as of late is the closing "Come Around". The harmonies are achingly sweet and the multi-layered instrumental arrangement is just perfect.  More importantly, they have an authentic quality to them that leaves you wondering if the songs were recorded now or in 1973.  They don’t come off as a fly-by-night bandwagon jumping act who all of the sudden started waving their freak-folk flag for an already built in niche audience.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mogwai and a really shitty band and a ray of hope to not end on a bummer

Sometimes the peripheral things happening at a show are just as entertaining as the main event. The bathroom lines at the Mogwai show last Thursday night at St. Andrew's were one of those moments. A few of the choice overhead comments:

"What the fuck is with this line? I walked past the ladies room and there isn't a line at all"
"That's because there's only like four chicks here"

a guy to another guy washing his hands after peeing:
"What are you doing? Is there something that wrong with your dick that you have to wash your hands every time you touch it?"

then one of the times I went down (I think I put down about 5 tall boys at the show, so there were frequent trips after a certain point) and there were 2 guys bitching about the wait, which was only about 3 minutes or so but that can seem like an eternity with a full bladder. Anyway, these guys were already INSIDE the bathroom waiting for the next available stall/urinal, but one guy egged the other guy on into pissing in the trash can. Then someone else started pissing in the sink. Pretty fuckin' punk rock. Needless to say it's the hardest I've probably ever laughed inside a bathroom other than the time at the House of Blues in Chicago when there were two guys arguing over who was doing more of their stash of blow in a stall next to me. As much fun as the bathroom was, the Mogwai set was even better. Easily one of the more powerful live acts still going today. If you subscribe to the theory that matter is neither created nor destroyed in a chemical reaction, Mogwai will completely remind you that every particle of your body (and everywhere else for that matter) has been around since the Big Bang. They're so fierce live, and the sheer volume of it is like the sixth member of Mogwai. It was simultaneously beautiful and violent. Of the brilliant new album all I recognized was my personal favorite Friend of the Night and a monstrous version of Glasgow Mega-Snake that closed the show, complete with an extended noisy ending. Other than the opening Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home, the rest was just a blur of their brilliant brand of tension and release. Paik and Film School were playing at the Stick that night as well, but after Mogwai I was just too shattered. Plus seeing anyone else that night (even Paik) would've just been anti-climactic.

After the brilliance of Mogwai on Thursday, I witnessed one of the WORST live acts I've ever come across. I had gone to Small's for the purpose of seeing Light play, and one of the openers just ruined my night. They were called Canada, which is a slight on our neighbors to the north. Knowing that Canada is basically a nation of pacifists that don't shoot each other over sneakers and wouldn't howl for blood over the fact that their name was attached to such a horrible band. If a group of tuneless Canadian pseudo-hippie pot smokers who thought that their THC addled "jamming" in the basement was worthy of putting a group together to torment people who drink at bars formed a band and called themselves U.S.A., I wouldn't doubt a full-on minutemen type assault to put an end to it. As an act of good faith I think their heads should be mounted on pikes in Hart Plaza, facing Canada, with a big banner that says SORE-REE (the phonetic Canadian pronunciation of "sorry") over top of it as an act of good faith. Maybe spare the two lady cello players, but the guys must go. They all switched instruments, which included a fucking xylophone and one of those melodicas that only sound good in dub reggae tunes or if used by Brian Eno. Maybe if they would've all stuck to focusing their effort on one instrument it might've been easier to listen to, but probably not.

As promised I'm not ending on a bummer (well, not exactly). Jason Molina, this generation's Springsteen, has another solo album coming out in August, similar to the Pyramid Electric Co. album from a couple years ago. Molina talks about it here.

thanks for reading, if anyone out there is

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Never underestimate the insanity of an obsessive Morrissey fan(atic). Remember all the crazy shit that supposedly linked Lincoln and Kennedy? Well, some crazy Smiths/Moz fan with a bit too much time on their hands has established a link between Morrissey's lyrics and the death of Princess Di. Here are just a few examples:

Morrissey started THE QUEEN IS DEAD with audio from the film THE L-SHAPED ROOM
about a woman - played by actress Lesley Caron - who moved from France to England.
Diana's body was moved from France to England.
Lesley Caron was born on July 1st.
Diana was born on July 1st.

Morrissey's lyrics to THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT from THE QUEEN IS DEAD concern:
two people
on a date
at night
in the city
driving in a car
fantasizing about getting killed in a car crash
gripped by fear in an underpass

Over a decade later we have Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed:
two people
on a date
at night
in the city
driving in a car
getting killed in a car crash
in an underpass

In 1987, this very same song - THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT from THE QUEEN IS DEAD -
became the 'A'-side of the only Smiths single ('B'-side: HALF A PERSON) in the lifetime of the band to be
released exclusively in France.
Princess Diana died in France.

Oh boy. I wouldn't poke fun if I wasn't completely obsessed with The Smiths myself. It really just makes me feel a whole lot better about it. If ever I think I've gone too far, I can always fall back on the "at least I didn't make a whole website about Moz predicting Princess Diana's death" defense. If you want to read the rest of the material, by all means visit THE DIANA-MORRISSEY PHENOMENOM website.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Acid Mother's Day

What is it with some of my countrymen? I think it comes as an honest-to-god SHOCK to some of them that there are people who don't speak English out there. Before the Acid Mothers Temple show Sunday night (dubbed Acid Mother's Day, clever huh?), I was at the merch table checking out what they had for me to buy when some duder was having a really hard time trying to find out why there was no Acid Mother's vinyl for sale. He kept talking very sloooowly as you would to a child who is mentally retarded and was visibly flustered and kept saying "Well you know, it's a rather common practice for bands to press their albums on to vinyl." I could just see Higashi and Kawabata sitting there thinking, "Fuck you guy, we're going home where we can play pachinko and buy school girl's worn underwear in a couple weeks." The opening act were some band called The Antarcticans who weren't bad but they kinda need to get over the whole Godspeed thing.
The Acid Mothers took the stage to Atsushi-san greeting us in perfect Engrish by saying "Herro Detroit Rock City, happy Acid Mother's Day, how many of you are mother fuckers?" It was already shaping up to be an interesting show. Half the fun is just watching them play. They're not the types of dudes you see every day. I was thinking about what it must be like on tour for them in the middle of nowhere when they stop for gas at 3 in the morning and the guy working at the gas station sees a tall Japanese guy with long silver hair and long pointy beard in pyjama pants walking around the store. Some people just aren't ready for that. I find Japanese hippies to be infinitely cooler than the American brand. I guess when you have a culture that's already a little weird to begin with and then you add LSD into the equation you're just bound to come up with something more fun than kicking around a hacky sack in your birks and twirling devil sticks with a Bob Marley disc playing. But I digress. I was hoping to hear more of the heavy, sludgy, Black Sabbath-meets-Flower Travellin Band type of stuff (which there was some of) but the majority of the show was more along the lines of jazzy free form psych space rock with a lot of feedback freak-out breakdowns and just pure Eddie Hazel-style cosmic slop rock-n-roll. Another thing that's great about Acid Mothers is how their brand of psych isn't blues based like so many of the 60's American and British bands, but is based more on droning eastern ragas, and fed through Marshall stacks and loads of effects pedals it turns into whole different creature. I like to think of it as some form of electric Zen buddhism, because it has that effect on the mind. It occupies the front part of your brain with its mantra (the part that worries about your bills, putting gas in the car, paying rent, etc. etc.) and lets the rest of the mind wander. It's a little reminder that there is a lot more to being human than slaving away to buy a false sense of happiness. That there's more of "us" than there are of "them" and if everybody one day decided to burn their passports and their flags and their credit card bill, that there's nothing "they" will be able to do about it. They got the guns but we got the numbers. I know it all sounds really naive and utopian but it's not a bad fantasy to have, and besides, everyone loves an underdog. That's why I'm glad there are bands like this. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. You just have to throw those seeds to the wind and hope they find purchase somewhere. You'll have to forgive me for all the hippie drivel, my mind is still reeling from the dose of Acid Mothers. Oh and by the way that's all I was on Sunday night, just the feedback, no drugs of any sort so this isn't some sort of post-lysergic revelation or anything. I'll be back to my jaded, cynical self in a couple days I'm sure. It's just nice to know you can slip into that every now and then when you need a reminder that it's not all that bad. That if you free your mind, your ass will follow, no matter what sort of limitations the material world has placed on you. After the show I stopped by the merch table to try and pick out one of the 2 dozen or so CDs for sale. I settled on the Acid Mothers Temple Soul Collective Tour 2003 disc, mainly because there was a pic of Cotton Casino on the cover and I sorta have a thing for her. There are 3 long pieces on it from various Acid Mothers side projects. The first is a gorgeous electric guitar space symphony done solo by Kawabata Makoto that starts off with what sounds like an improv for about 15 minutes before breaking into the familiar melody of Pink Lady Lemonade. The second piece is a side project of Cotton Casino and Higashi Hiroshi called Duo. It's a moog/synth/keyboard soundtrack for spacewalks, ethereal blips and bloops for floating weightlessly through the starlit black void. And finally, as almost an antithesis to the previous 2 pieces is Tsurubami, a 3 piece with Kawabata and Higashi and Emi Nobuko. This is an all improvised, recorded live, corrosive metallic noisy sonic punishment. After a couple minutes it mellows out and settles into an uneasy truce with your ears in an electric drone before going back into the cacophonous squalling and ending on a note of screeching feedback.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Nothing is worse than being outside in the rain. Unless of course you're walking a stupid fucking dog who walks into the biggest puddle in the field and lays down and will not come when you call so you have to wade in there to collar him again and get soaked up to your fucking ankles. I would've been in way more of a foul mood had it not been for the new Stills to keep me musical company. I'll admit, I rolled my eyes when I opened the envelope that this came in. I had seen these dudes open for Echo & the Bunnymen a couple years ago and was thoroughly unimpressed, and really could've cared less for their last album. So I listened to it thoroughly preparing to hate it, but what I heard when I pressed play was quite a pleasant surprise. It didn't even sound like the same band. Where their debut seemed overly somber, calculated, and derivative, their follow up disc Without Feathers has a completely updated sound. It actually reminds me a bit of The Jesus & Mary Chain's "Stoned & Dethroned" album. The opening cut "In The Beginning" starts off with a chugging rhythm, then adds a marching cadence of a drumbeat, and swirling organ chords and guitar licks that turns it into a triumphant psychedelic pop rock tune, complete with a false ending to assuage your disappointment when you think it ends too early and say "Awww, man, that's IT?". While not a perfect album by any means (some of the slower songs seem a bit tedious and "The House We Live In" is sort of a weak tune to end on) the good far outweighs the bad. "Oh Shoplifter" and "Baby Blues" especially stand out.

The new Whirlwind Heat record "Types Of Wood" has also been in heavy rotation over here lately. I don't think these guys get enough credit. At it's best moments "Types Of Wood" will make you feel like you're seeing Erase Errata after they fired their guitar player and got Mark Mothersbaugh to play with them at a crowded house party with a lot of shitty beer in kegs in the basement and everyone's good looking and horny and going nuts and swinging from the rafters and sweaty bodies flailing everywhere. Take a listen to "My Electric Underwear" if you don't believe me. It's that kind of party. Porno funk basslines, brain frying Moogs, and stupid lyrics. That's not a bad thing either by the way, just listen to "Gene Pool Style" to see what I mean. They also have an awesome, hilarious, self-directed video for the spastic "Air Miami" that has more edits than that movie "Spun" but it's a lot more fun and you don't have to see Brittany Murphy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

We Dream In Sound

If I was a lot smarter and knew more about politics I would be blogging about the resignation of Porter Goss, but since my time in college was spent on other pursuits I'm blogging about seeing Elf Power last night. So I ended up going to see them even though it was a last minute decision on my part. And a better decision couldn't have been made on a whim on a Thursday night. I have quite a weakness for Elephant 6 bands. Everyone remembers their first time listening to "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea". That was basically my Fisher-Price My Very First Indie Band Album. And through that I devoured anything from that collective (and their like) that I could get my hands on. Olivia Tremor Control, Of Montreal, Apples In Stereo, Dressy Bessy, and of course, Elf Power. The show last night was just FUN. It brought me back to being in my early 20s (not that they're that far behind me or anything). It sounded like going to sleep and waking up to the sound of babbling bongs, of having a job that afforded me the luxury of setting my own schedule and striking out to whatever destinations caught my fancy. It sounded like smoking cigarettes on a warm sunlit porch with nothing at all to do but maybe scrape together some change and go get a 40. It sounded like optimism and infinite possibilities, which everyone needs a dose of every now and then, no matter how hippie it sounds. There wasn't as much of the really heavy, grimy psych sound from the organs that I liked so much from their earlier albums. They had a lady playing cello which put a different twist on stuff like "We Dream In Sound". I haven't heard much of the stuff from the new album, but the couple songs they played sounded not too different from the stuff on "Creatures" (really nice clean tone from the electric 12 string and a much fuzzier sound from the lead) which was my favorite album of theirs. They did play "Everlasting Scream" and closed with "Let The Serpent Sleep" from that album. I unfortunately didn't have any money left to pick up the new LP (daddy likes his whiskey) but I will definitely keep an eye out for it when my next check comes in.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Plugged in & ready to fall

Last night saw the Alkaline Trio. I was sort of indifferent about going, figured it would just be something to do on a Sunday night, but I ended up having a really good time. They played the Goddamnit album in it’s entirety, Matt and Dan each did a few acoustic songs (which brought back memories of the in-store performance at Desirable Discs in Garden City from way back) then played for about another half hour after that. It was funny hearing all the cheering from the crowd when Matt was talking about all the great fans that had been with them for the last 10 years. When the average age of the people in the crowd 10 years ago would've been about, oh, 9 or 10. on to what I'm listening to...

The new Om album "Conference of the Birds" is quickly becoming my favorite of the year so far behind Current 93's "Black Ships Ate The Sky". (and as luck would have it, those 2 bands are appearing on a split 10" record to be released in May). It took a few listens for it to really click, but this is nothing short of a masterpiece. How Chris and Al can do so much with just drums and a bass is beyond me. It's like building a full sized Eiffel Tower with matchsticks and Elmer's glue. The opening "At Giza" is aptly named. It has a definite middle eastern influence to it. It sounds like the pyramids. It's gigantic, it's mysterious, there are secrets to it that can be revealed if you're willing to explore it. They're tapping into something ancient, timeless, that was here long before you and will be around long after your bones have turned to dust. The bass is utterly hypnotic, starting off soft and slow, lulling you deeper and deeper into its trance and the mantra-like vocals pull you further in. Then it just keeps building and building into a motherfucker of a crescendo about 13 minutes into it. If you're a believer, you can feel it starting down in the small of your back and slowly rising up your spine until it explodes out the top of your head, opening your third eye in the process. The release is almost orgasmic. Om is taking stoner metal to the astral plane, dudes. After that, it's "Flight of the Eagle", no teasing this time, just a thick, Sabbath worthy bass line and the drums anchoring it like the stones of a pyramid while the vocals chant and lock you into the trance created on the first track until you don't even notice that 17 minutes have passed. Lather, rinse, and repeat. This is metal for the mind and soul.

I'm not exactly sure what's going on with music writers at places like Entertainment Weekly and other mags of that caliber, but all the reviews of the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Show Your Bones" album I've read kept comparing it to the White Stripes/garage rock stuff. They couldn't be further from the truth. Sure a few songs have big, gnarly, dirty hooks (Fancy, Honey Bear) but it owes a lot more The Pretenders than the White Stripes. I have to say that my favorite on the album is the single, Gold Lion. Like any great pop single it burrows itself into your brain and you'll still be singing the "ooooh OOOOH" vocals hours after you last heard it while you're in line at the bank. Top to bottom it's an incredibly solid album and shows a lot of progress from Fever To Tell. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs clean up pretty good, the slicker production on Show Your Bones does a lot more for me than the post-punky/electro sound from Fever To Tell, and also shows that they can progress beyond a flavor-of-the-month trend and evolve into something else. Some other New York bands should take note. (I'm lookin' at you, Casablancas)

O.K. so I like a lot of what could be called "pussy music" (Belle & Sebastian, Elliot Smith, Iron & Wine, etc) but even I feel like a bit of a ponce listening to Keane. I mean sure it's well crafted pop songs with pianos and stuff, but come on lads, grow some balls. The Guillemots must've felt the same way. Their debut "From The Cliffs" is definitely worth a listen. They write really catchy tunes with piano (and horns and synths and great string arrangements) that don't make you feel like you're in a khakis commercial when you listen to them. "Trains To Brazil" is my favorite on the album, referencing mid-90's brit pop in the vein of Pulp.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

when you say ALRIGHT it makes me feel ALRIGHT!

OK so add this to the long list of reasons why I have a hard time leaving Detroit:
Even though we're at double the national unemployment rate and it really is just an ugly city that no one could love unless they were born here (seriously, have you ever been to San Francisco?), where else can you can go see the

The Hard Lessons play a free show on a Monday night and just completely annihilate the place? You know, I've always thought that The Who would've been the greatest power trio ever if Roger Daltrey had never been in the band. Sometimes, you just DON'T need a fourth member. Seeing the Hard Lessons tonight kinda made me feel like that's what it would've been like. And I'm talking early Who, where it was all proto-punk rock-n-roll energy mashed together with that raw mod/soul/driving your car into the pool of the Flint Holiday Inn on your 20th birthday thing they had going on in the beginning. Have you ever seen Quadrophenia? You know that part where Phil Daniels is wasted out of his mind on speed and booze and jumps off the balcony of the club that's playing northern soul while everyone there is going wild? That's what it felt like tonight, but imagine that moment stretched out for about 50 minutes straight. That was easily the best show I have seen in months. The Belmont is a small enough place, and seeing the Hard Lessons there just now was like watching a fireworks display in a studio apartment. Their timing is a bit off, they just missed the rest of the world caring about Detroit music by about 9 months or so, but if there's any justice in the world, some A & R guy will catch a set like the one they just played and sign them to a lucrative record deal You'd figure after 6 weeks on the road they would be tired out, but the performace tonight was like the burn of a straight shot of Everclear. Ugh, I'm out of lame metaphors, it's really almost pointless for me to write anymore about it, you kinda had to be there. All I'm saying is, catch this band the next time they're around. If it was a tenth as good as it was tonight you're in for a treat.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


So, living in Detroit, it's easy to hate life in the months between November and April. The sun is replaced by a thick, low hanging layer of grey clouds, it's fucking cold, you're part of the 14% unemployment statistic, etc., etc., etc. And it's not helping much that I've been listening to lots and lots of drone/doom/sludge. I've basically been turning into Gollum (and we forgot the sound of trees, the softness of the wind...) Anyway, a little ray of sonic sunshine came to me in my e-mail the other day. The new Envelopes album is out as a reminder that winter pays for summer. Coming from Sweden, they know a thing or 2 about brutal winters. They combat that by making bright sunshine-y pop music. "Free Jazz" has sort of a late-era Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club vibe to it, lily-white funk rhythms with really cool spaced out keyboards. "Isabel & Leonard" and "Sister In Love" are reminiscent of classic Elephant 6 indie pop, bouncy, fuzzy, songs with sugary sweet melodies and fun/stupid lyrics that get stuck in your head for hours afterward. For those living in northern climates, this will remind you that soon you'll be riding your bike and eating sandwiches on the grass in the park and watching girls walk around in skirts and tank tops again. mp3s / videos here!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

read up, there's a contest in this one!

I've got fuck all to do with myself this morning so I figure I will catch up on blogging. I'm about recovered from last night's Arab Strap show and the related festivities. It was a pretty good show, nothing mind blowing and they're actually a bit better on record than live, but it was still a good way to spend a Monday night. My only gripe was that they played "The Shy Retirer" with just an acoustic guitar and Aidan singing. I like it better the other way. Anyway I woke up with the slightest touch of a hangover that I knocked out with a strong cup of tea and "Gold", the new Franklin's Mint album. It's Phil Franklin's (from The Sunburned Hand Of The Man) new side project. It sounds nothing like Sunburned's frenzied, terrifying acid trip freak outs, it's more like the most soothing, laid back country/psych tinged folky rock you can imagine hearing. It's so good that a time machine should be invented so someone can go back in time and kill The Eagles when they first started and replace them with Franklin's Mint. It's seriously tied with Velvet Underground & Nico as my favorite album to hear after a rough night out. The acoustic guitars are tempered with organs, strings, a touch of fuzz, and just the right tempo drums to ease you into the day. It also comes in a beautifully silkscreened package in a limited edition pressing of 1,000, available at Eclipse Records .

On to the new Morrissey. Been listening to this one pretty much non-stop for the past week. I'm really not capable of giving a non-biased review of this as I'm pretty much queer for anything Smiths/Moz related. In short, I love it. After sort of a weak spell for awhile, "You Are The Quarry" found him back in top form, and the new "Ringleader Of The Tormentors" is even better. As is evident from the cover art (showing Steve The Nutter playing a violin, bedecked in a tux) there's a lot of strings on this album. He even got Ennio Morricone to write and arrange the string section on "Dear God Please Help Me", the song that probably has the most sexually explicit lyrics to appear in a Moz song. "Now I'm spreading your legs / with mine in between / dear God if I could, I would help you." However, still no mention on the gender of the leg spreadee, so the debate rages on.
One thing that I do have to bitch about politically (other than the requisite PETA plug in the liner notes) is the photo on the inner booklet of Steve sitting on a Vespa with the words SMASH BUSH spray painted on a wall behind him. The word BUSH seems suspiciously photoshopped, the wall behind it is considerably darker than the rest of the wall so the letters are a bit blurred, and the rearview mirror from the Vespa somewhat obscures the B so it's not easily read at first glance. If anything they should've photoshopped it to stand out more, to really get the point across. Maybe the label didn't want to alienate the Republican For Moz fanbase, but somehow I doubt that minority would care much. Don't underestimate the rabidness of the Morrissey disciples. Even the hardline right wing Morrissey fans (of which I'm sure there are, somewhere) are cheerily singing along to "If your God bestows protection upon you / and if the USA doesn't bomb you / I believe I will see you somewhere safe". It all comes down to the fact that underneath all the narcissism and militant neo-fascist vegetarianism, the dude is just a really great singer/lyricist and that transcends even the most mundane aspects of the baggage that comes along with it.

Here's a fun little game to play. Which of the following are real Morrissey song names, and which are phonies? see how many you can get right! e-mail ( me and I'll send you a mix tape if you get them all right, and no fair cheating with search engines and what not. If anyone is even reading this.

1. The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores
2. The Maitre d' Has Killed Any Chance I Had At True Happiness
3. Russian Hands, Roman Fingers
4. Pregnant For The Last Time
5. The Last Of The Famous International Playboys
6. I Will Lay My Dreams To Rest Next To You On A Bed Of Nails
7. Satan Rejected My Soul
8. No One Will Ever Fill Your Shoes
9. Won't Anyone Ever Take Me To Tea With The Queen?
10. Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

not feeling too clever tonight

all right enough bullshit, i'll get to the point
Trad Gras Och Stenar - Got a re-issue of an album called "Djungelns Lag" recorded live in 1971. These guys are a band of Swedish hippies and can get a bit wanky at times, but it's pretty solid even if it is a bit longwinded. The shorter songs are easier to listen to but even the longer songs are worth sticking out til the end because they're still really interesting and well played and trippy.

Wolfmother - "Dimension" EP - Right, I know what you're thinking, ANOTHER fucking band with the word "wolf" in their name. It was about enough to make me not want to play the advance copy I got but I did anyway and was very impressed. They come off sounding something like Deep Purple without the classic rock baggage. Cool keyboard parts and really heavy fuzzed out guitar riffs to feed your head. The EP "Dimension" should be out now at your favorite Local Indie Record Shop. Apparently these guys are great live but I couldn't tell you. However what I've heard on the new EP is definitely worth a listen. Stop by their page on the new crack (myspace) for a listen. Wolfmother

Some Girls - "Heaven's Pregnant Teens" - Holy shit would I ever be into this band if I was about 10 years younger. Even being a jaded old jerk I can still appreciate this. It's like metal with all the fat trimmed and smashed into minute and half long spazzed out thrashing blasts of sonic torture. It's also got really cool, dark lyrics that aren't all stupid and sounding like they were pulled from a sullen high school sophomore's notebook. Go here to hear a couple of the tracks. But as usual the better songs aren't up there and you're better off just getting the whole album and listening to it. On vinyl from ThreeOneG records and on CD from Epitaph.

The Cloud Room - self-titled - So this is a Brooklyn band, but they have an England thing happening. It's tough to pin down, sorta the midway point between the early 90s musical forces from the other side of the Atlantic, brit-pop and shoegaze, but with more energy than either. "Hey Now Now" is catchier than syphilis at a Thai whore house, but a lot more fun. click here to see what I'm talking about

Cat Power "The Greatest" - I can't really say enough good stuff about this record. I can't wait to make out to it. Amazing blue eyed soul to make you fall in love with Chan Marshall, as if you haven't already. More to follow once my review gets published in the A2 Paper.

I saw Low tonight and was pretty underwhelmed. I love sitting at home listening to them in a dark room but I don't think it really translates so much to the stage. At least not in a club with a bar where people are being loud and drinking. Also, Alan Sparhawk said that opening band His Name Is Alive were a bunch of dicks and I don't think he said it in a friendly, joking manner. Maybe he was mad about having a tough act to follow. Does anybody read this?