May 31, 2008

20 Years Ago Today

Artist - The Sugarcubes
Title - Life's Too Good
Hometown - Iceland
Label - One Little Indian / Elektra
Street Date - May 31, 1988

RIYL - Björk, Iceland, one of the most spectacular and acrobatic vocalists of all time, The Pixes on ice, guys who walk all over a good song.

The Hits - "Birthday", "Motorcrash", "Deus", "Delicious Demon", "Mama"

Richter Magnitude Rating Scale - Great.2

Formats - Depending on the country and time of press the cover of the LP varied in color from classic neon green, to pink, to yellow, to orange, and blue.



Vocals: Björk Guðmundsdóttir and Einar Örn Benediktsson.
Trumpet: Einar Örn Benediktsson.
Guitars: Þór Eldon Jónsson.
Keyboards: Björk Guðmundsdóttir.
Bass: Bragi Ólafsson.
Drums: Sigtryggur Baldursson.
Lyrics and music: The Sugarcubes.

Acknowledgement: Friðrik Erlingson.

Personnel Engineering:
Kjartan Kjartansson, Gerard Johnson, Gail Lambourne, Mel Jefferson, Brian Pugsley and Ken Thomas.
Production: Ray Shulman and Derek Birkett.
Sleeve: P. White at Me Company.
Photograph: David McIntyre with collaboration of Pinks.
Publishing: Second Wind.

We have the UK to thank for breaking many an artist globally but 21 years ago NME, Melody Maker, and John Peel all embraced a little known band called The Sugarcubes from an even more unknown country at the time, Iceland. In fairness the experimental art rock band K.U.K.L. of which The Sugarcubes morphed out of had released music on Crass Records but the band fell under the radar to most of the mainstream.

The song “Birthday” (“Ammæli" in Icelandic) was their first international single released on One Little Indian. In Iceland this single was released on 11/17/86 but it became a UK radio hit in 1987; a rather disturbing song about a little girl having an affair with a man celebrating his Fiftieth birthday. It catapulted the band into a smashing international success and was the lead single off their forthcoming first full length record called Life’s Too Good.

This debut for the band was released 20 years ago – May 31st 1988. Before 1988 the world had no idea who Bjork was no less that she would become a music icon during our lifetime.

Life’s Too Good opens with a VERY quiet spoken word piece by Einar talking about teaching the little angels how to play harmonica which leads into a brief harmonica solo. The muffled absurd false start to the record suddenly erupts loudly into the true beginning of "Traitor;" a jarring direction for a first time listener who couldn’t possibly have been expecting it.

From this point forward we are introduced to the dive bombing dynamics of Einar speaking through each song who deconstructs whatever strong pop melodies Bjork belts out. The stage is set with what will continue to be 33 minutes of complex, strangely erotic black humored poetry presented from entirely two different kinds of voices, one male and one female. Together they both stomp and scream over keyboards, drums, guitars, drums, and trumpet. This is the basic Sugarcubes formula which remained through all of their discography.

Life’s Too Good featured a total of four singles which were released separately / singularly between 1987 and 88. They received decent radio play (all passing "Birthday" on the charts in the UK) as well as gaining attention on a still relatively new cable television network called MTV.
"Motocrash", track two and the last of the singles to be released is a prime example of the Sugarcubes famed dark lyrical content riding and bouncing on top of a driving, playful, chaotic rock song.

"Riding on my bicycle I saw a motorcrash. A proper motorcrash. Lots of spectators. I rushed to the center. Saw the injured parents. Cuts on the children. An awful motorcrash. So dangerous motorcrash. So terribly bloody Motorcrash"

While researching the record to write this piece I was rather shocked to read that "Delicious Demon" (think Nordic circus playing cowboy and Indians) was never released as a proper radio single. Like so many of their songs it trots along with Einar and Bjork dueling it out within the verses and then it breaks wide open into a full gallop during the chorus- cow bell and all. "Birthday" hinted at Bjorks unbelievable range but her true twisted sonic abilities explode like fireworks all over "Delicious Demon". I didn’t know a human voice could make so many sounds and it was the first time I had ever heard a girl spring from delicate whispers to a hurricane scream in a heartbeat. (for those of you who know my music there is no denying who my vocal idol is) I still don’t know how such a small person can make such a giant sound. Two decades later I continue to scratch my head over how she pulls off all those tones with just one throat and chest. It is as if her vocal chords are the size of our solar system- out of this world and massive beyond comparison.

"Mama" marches out of the gate with just a bass line leading the way with Bjork's voice on a leash behind it. Enter slowly stage right the rest of the instrumentation and suddenly the melody takes off like a race horse with terrifying screams and cries behind it. We have beauty being strangled and this too is a theme we see repeated throughout the band's career. Without this good verse evil push and pull we would have just another band but the Sugarcubes handcrafted and perfected this pattern.

"Coldsweat" and "Deus" were the final two internationally released singles. I never fully understood why or how the limping bump and grind that defines "Coldsweat" outpaced "Birthday" at radio back in the day. In hindsight it is a bit ironic since "Birthday" is THE song everyone associates the band with all these years later. I was 16 when I picked up this record in 1988 and "Coldsweat" which kicks off side B was the song I always skipped past (still do today) to get to "Deus". I have always considered "Deus" to be the sister track to "Birthday". They are similarly paced but "Deus" is less dreamy and more of this earth. This song, no matter how many times I listen to it, still surprises me. The Sugarcubes had an inherent ability to keep the listener guessing by not following the traditional verse chorus verse chorus song structure. Their unpredictability was part of their power and to this day offers the listener more of an exciting runaway train ride than a safe go round on a carousel.

It was somewhere today around track 9 or 10, between "Sick for Toys" and "Fucking in Rhythm & Sorrow" that I tried to place myself back in time. I wanted to recreate what band I would have musically speaking drawn a parallel to The Sugarcubes. The only band that comes to mind who barely matches their off kilter polar opposite energy of male –v- female as well as melody –v- aggression is The Pixies. It then occurred to me that a mere three months after The Sugarcubes released this record, Surfer Rosa was released, yet another classic record deserving of a post at a later date.

To this day I mostly prefer the first half of Life’s Too Good, after "Deus" the record loses my attention. The hooks become fewer and farther between and in wanders more experimental material including fog horn like sounds with even more spoken word banter. Considering the first 8 tracks are pretty much flaw free pure genius with female vocals never to be outdone again, the few weak tracks act more like petite speed bumps between the cataclysmic hits.

For the 6 years The Sugarcubes were an active touring band, they put helped to put Iceland on the map for music lover’s around the world. They practically gave birth to their country’s now booming tourist business and they also opened the door for bands like Sigur Ros and Mum to be excepted worldwide in the years to come. Without this parade of talent pouring out of Iceland I don’t think the now annual Iceland Airwaves Music fest would have existed no less be as popular and well attended as it is either.

What defines a classic album will vary from person to person but for myself, a record sounding as poignant to me now as it did 20 years ago certainly earns it the highest honor in my record collection. This record isn’t just classic though, Life's Too Good was a catalyst that introduced the world to not only Bjork (who in turn brought electronic music to the general public) but the culture and country that created a band unlike anyone had ever heard before. There is no copying such an extraordinary level of talent and creativity, so what makes this classic album so unique is that it would be impossible for someone to recreate. Ever.

May 29, 2008

Friday Flashcard - Name that Metal Band

This Swede is so bad ass that he doesn't go by a one word name like Sting or Beck, he only needs one singular letter for a name; "E".

And a quote from the man himself:

"Death is the key, the final and ultimate orgasm. Life is the painful part of the whole misery, it's just about dying. Death is the key... Commit suicide... "

I am a huge fan of any band that encourages people to commit suicide. A) Why then is this guy still alive if dying is so friggin awesome? and B) If people offed themselves who would left to buy their records, pay to see them live, bother to interview them, or bother to read interviews with them?

If a corpse painted singer falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does anyone give a crap about the sound either way?

I didn't think so.

Basil Kirchin / Abstractions of the Industrial North

Artist - Basil Kirchin (RIP)
Title - Abstractions of the Industrial North
Hometown - UK
Label - Trunk Records
Street Date - Out Now
RIYL - Experimental Jazz, far -out soundtracks to imaginary moving pictures, Broadcast recommendations, 60's groovy avante-composers, cocktail music to wow friends by
The Hits - A must listen to from front to back
Richter Magnitude Rating Scale - Strong

Several years ago I spent a great deal of time listening to the radio station found on the band Broadcast's website. I jotted down all the songs that really inspired me and added them to an ever growing list of records to track down for myself. Basil Kirchin ended up at the top of this list. I finally found the CD via Other Music but I think you might be able to still buy it directly from the label.

Here is what the label says about the record:
"At long last one of the most beautiful period Kirchin recordings is available. Never commercially released before this is Basil Kirchin in his "imaginary film" period. In other words it;s library music, but not as we know it. I cannot stress enough how awesome this album really is. The history of the music is simple - originally made as a library recording in 1966, it includes guitar work by a pre-Zep Jimmy Page, some sax by Tubby Hayes but names are not important here. The music ranges from blissfully sad to hypnotically weird in a pastoral jazzy odd way. This recording is strangely addictive, so consider yourself well warned. Some have said this is the best Trunk release to date, I am not saying anything. All I will add though is that it's essential and almost too stunning for words. And this CD is very limited. As was the vinyl, which is all sold out now."

For more of a backstory on Basil I suggest reading his obituary which offers a rich description of the artist and all of his remarkable accomplishments.

Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith

For those of us who have a bit of trouble understanding the words behind his slurrrrrrrr-rah, Mr. Mark E. Smith has written a book recounting his personal and professional life.

Check out the Amazon UK link here.

May 28, 2008

M83 / Saturdays = Youth

Artist - M83
Title - Saturdays = Youth
Hometown - France
Label - Mute
Street Date - Out Now
RIYL - You curious people who can't seem to shake the 80's
The Hits: Hitting this CD will not make it any better.
Richter Magnitude Rating: Light

Coincidence or quality control? My car stereo refuses to play this disc. I insert the disc and it instantly spits it out again as if to say "BLARGHHHHH - no thanks!"

My computer however is a slut, she will play anything at least once, assuming I can make it through the whole record. Saturdays= Youth isn't an easy comfortable listen for me. I feel like I accidentally put in a Sixteen Candles soundtrack or some crappy synthy wussy 80's band. The Thompson Twins? The Dream Academy? Oh....oh my...much to my horror it appears that according to the band's MySpace page that is exactly what they are going for. Ugh... it actually says this:

"If the doomy synthetic romance of his earlier work hinted at a fetish for Eighties goth staples such as Sisters of Mercy and The Cure, this album's chiming astro-pop finds Gonzalez taking a stroll on the sunnier side of the decade. Main influences for the album are English bands such as Tears For Fears and Cocteau Twins, as well as classic John Hughes teen movies such as "The Breakfast Club" and "Sixteen Candles" (The red-haired Molly Ringwald look-alike on the cover is no mistake). "

This is pretty much my worse nightmare. Unlike VH1 - I hate the 80s. Gone are the things I once loved about M83. There is no longer dramatic great swells on intensity or textured and exotic cinematic landscapes. In its place is wet weak sounding (reverbed out) drum machine farts along side like whale-like cries recreated by a keyboard and wait, is that a guitar solo or a simulated guitar solo? Either way I am no more excited by the occasional Aaron Spelling soap opera like theme music. More than half of the songs are over 5 minutes long which makes this record feel like it drags on forever, longer than a John Hughes movie.

Eno to Enya - my car is onto something. No thanks.

May 26, 2008

California Soul

Anyone watching the Stanley Cup playoffs with any regularity probably has the television commericals memorized by now; I know I do. The Dockers ad runs nearly every break so it isn't all that surprising that I find myself humming the track "California Soul" even when I am nowhere near a television set or a hockey game.

I knew I recognized the track to be an old soul song but I couldn't remember who it was by originally so I turned to Wiki for some insight. Marlena Shaw (Bluenote artist) does the new version featured in the commercial but the original version was penned by Ashford & Simpson in 1969 and released as a single by The Fifth Dimension as well as Marvin Gaye with Tammi Terrell. Mystery solved.

Memorial Weekend Top 10

10. The first of the final Stanley Cup games.

9. A perfect excuse to sport my favorite color combo of red, white, and blue.

8. Wii Fit. Mock me if you like but I have really enjoyed my first three days of playing this "game". The four basic workout themes of Yoga, balance, strength training, and aerobics on a board with sensors that keeps track of your weight / weight distribution has already helped me shed a pound and a half in three days. Admittedly I thought just the concept of working out to my video game system was pathetic but so far I have truly enjoyed it and truthfully feel genuinely challenged by it.

7. Studying the French Language again for this first time in 20 years at home from an old textbook. Maybe a proper college class next Spring?

6. Chai goat milk soap purchased at a local farmers market.

5. Spicy Sausage, risotto, caramelized onions, shallot, arugula cooked in chicken stock and wine topped with lemon zest and Romano cheese. (We made ours with white wine)

4. Planting a whole bunch of new perennial flowers in our front garden. Gardening is a new hobby of mine that I find strangely rewarding and very relaxing.

3. Thee gorgeous days - sunny, warm, breezy, and work free.

2.The book Snoop by Sam Gosling which is not about the Rap artist but rather the art and science behind snooping AKA reasonably judging people using deduction via multiple techniques but mostly by the space they occupy. You wouldn't believe the fascinating psychology reflected in how a person lives in a space: how they decorate it, how they keep up with cleaning it, how it is organized, and the items collected in that space. Your office, your car, your home, your website or Facebook / Myspace page all give off clues to your character, how you view yourself as well as how you want the world to perceive you. Not only will this book teach you valuable ways to the view the world around you but it may also change the way you think about yourself, your actions, and the spaces you work, live, and play in.

1. My Yeah-Yeah Girl dj night at Ipanema this past Saturday. For a holiday weekend the turn out was really terrific (100+ through the night is my best guess) and I must thank all my friends for stopping by as well as all the new faces who showed up and Sam for sticking it out for all 5 hours. I had a blast and it was a treat to be given so much positive feedback about the records I was playing. One last thank you to Ipanema for having me and high-five to the girls who sported the super cute mod 60's outfits...too cute!

May 23, 2008

Gris / Il Etait une Foret - Friday Metal Review Rather than a Flashcard

Artist - Gris (Grey)

Title - Il Etait une Foret (He (it?)was a forest)

Hometown - Canada

Label - Sepulchral Productions

Street Date - Out Now

RIYL - Burzum, two piece metal bands, Niflheim (band morphed into Gris), atmospheric Black Metal, French Canadians equally influenced blasphemy and classical melodies / instrumentation, 10 minute songs which feel more like epic journeys, new age death, testing your knowledge of the French language

The Hits - The whole record needs to be digested in one sitting. Outing one or two tracks would be like seeing a play minus one its act.

Richter Magnitude Rating Scale - Strong

True Story.

To the left of me was a post-op transsexual woman (once man) in her 40s who looked suspiciously like Kathleen Turner with less teeth and to the right of me was the reincarnation of Tammy Fay Baker, a woman in her 50s sobbing quietly into her cell phone, dabbing her over done eyes with a tissue. I was sipping a beer in between these two women at a restaurant waiting for my take out order to be delivered to me.

It struck me at that moment how we are all made up of the same flesh and blood yet we can all be so incredibly different when lined up at a counter side by side. We are a complicated species and somewhere buried within us can be something both tragic and beautiful. This is life in all its imperfect awkward glory. It is an older woman wearing a mask of make-up crying in public because she is too emotional to hide her hurt. It is a man who chooses a very dark and difficult path to become a gender he wasn't born into just to be someone she knows herself to be. It is me drinking a beer which totally cancels out the good of having ordered a healthy salad over thinking the company around me at a bar before I review a black metal record when I get home.

The three of us were all sitting alone in the same place yet clearly sitting within three different head spaces and points in our life.

The band Gris, in a totally strange way fits into this concept of complex, rich, ugly beauty. It is catastrophe and doom carried out in a crushingly sad emotional screaming fit style yet presented in a way which plays out with a massive cinematic scope. The story this two piece band tells is constantly shifting into dramatic new dark places, sometimes with a brutal force behind it and at other times offered with a more delicate voice of acoustic instrumentation backed with strings and a piano. The dynamic range of Il Etait une Foret is staggering and enormous.

Much like the dinner portion of my evening, this record is filled with all sorts of surprises that test the boundary of safety and what you feel comfortable surrounding yourself with. It is all the things people want a black metal record to be: GRIM but it is also strange, haunting, deeply moving, and manages to maintain at a consistent level of genuine sincere soulful humanity; often hideous yet absolutely spell binding.

May 22, 2008

Le Confort Du Clip

Or in English, clip-on comfort.

It isn't this blog's habit to post product reviews but since this is music related I decided to share my new joy.

I hate almost all small headphones but trust me when I say not only are huge headphones grossly uncomfortable when working out; you look pretty much like a crazy person for wearing them to the gym.

Earbuds don't work for two reasons with me. 1) Most earbuds are too large to fit into my little ears. Maybe I have freakishly petite ears but most earbuds feel like a square peg in a round hole. 2) The few earbuds I have managed to shove into my ears for work out purposes eventually slip out when I begin to sweat. While I appreciate a reason not to work out to the point where I sweat, my spare tire around the middle begs to differ.

The solution to my earbud dilemma was found in Philips Clip-On Comfort headphones. The clips snuggly wrap around any sized ear while small soft cushions sit comfortably over your ear. It will take a few seconds to get used to the clip on earring feeling but ultimately these are truly comfortable and don't slip off, no matter how hard your exercising. You can even do the Peanut's dance where you bop your head from side to side with all the energy you have and they won't slip off. Best of all, beyond the comfort and reliability factor, they sound great...or as the label on the package says, it had "superb bass performance".

For the most part I dread going to the gym but with these affordable headphones ($20.00) I can finally work out to my own soundtrack rather that suffering through music like the Pussycat Dolls or Ashlee Simpson blaring through Gold's Gym. Oh and as an added bonus I can drown out the dude in front of me making gross sex-like grunts as he lift weights.

One last pet peeve of mine; I hate buying products sealed in hard plastic because they are nearly impossible to open without scissors, a blade, or a wrestling match with the packaging. The back of this Philips product is cardboard with a perforated outline which you gently poke with your finger to release the headphones from it's plastic casing. So easy and totally genius!

When did the equation become Emo = Suicide?

How is this for a startling number when you put in emo + suicide in google?
1 - 10 of about 4,010,000 for emo suicide

The suicide of a 13 year old girl from the UK who considered herself emo has ignited all sorts of interest in and attacks against this genre which apparently no longer means 1st generation emo like Rites of Spring or 2nd generation emo like Cap's Jazz, but rather My Chemical Romance. (Huh? Is that even music???)

Metal and Goth kids can sigh in relief because there is a new teen killer in town according to parental units and the coroners of the world and it wears guy-liner.

How about we do a study about teen depression and how music doesn't create suicidal kids, suicidal kids find music that appeals to their already depressed nature. Parents are in denial and looking to point the figure at anyone else but the chemistry of their child, the family atmosphere he or she is raised in, and how they themselves were too blind to see or scared to admit that all the signs of a mentally ill person living under their roof was right there in front of them and missed it.

May 21, 2008

Odds and Ends

Love of Diagrams have posted two new demos here.

Camera Obscura talks about recording their new record here.

Serena Maneesh update fans about their upcoming records and next studio album here.

Love is All is always up to something fun here.

Check out new music from Clearlake - first new material in years - here.

Efterklang first US tour dates are here.

May 20, 2008

Spiritualized / Songs in A&E

Artist - Spiritualized
Title - Songs in A&E
Hometown - UK / death's door
Label - Sanctuary / Spritualized Limited
Street Date - 5/27
RIYL - Spacemen 3, Heroin, self destructive behavior, Harmony Korine tributes (this record was made side by side to a Korine soundtrack J recently scored and A & E features short instrumental interludes dedicated to the director), The Rolling Stones at their not very best, Lou Reed with a higher register
The Hits - Soul on Fire, Don't Hold Me Close, The Waves Crash In
Richter Magnitude Scale Rating: Moderate

Seriously, can we get this man some help? I know Jason Pierce AKA the man behind Spiritualized had been hospitalized due to double pneumonia (see, this is what long term drug use can do to you kids) for a lengthy stint but these songs don't give me a sense that we have ourselves a healed, healthy, and happy man. We have a decent body of work here but this sixth record, The Songs in A & E, have me a little worried. His body is a broken one.

The orchestrated choral power we know Spiritualized for is still there but this time it is minus the famous space and reverb. In its place is the stripped down ragged and aching voice of J Spaceman dispensing morbid lyrics spread out among 12 different kinds of laments. It hurts to hear a man so broken and while I wish I could say hurts so good (who doesn't like a little Mellencamp reference?) certain songs stretch into a desperate grating whine that I can't bare to take. ("I Gotta Fire", "Sitting in Fire"...what's with the fire thing anyway?)
Actually in a interview with J he responds to the fire question:

Wired: I'd say you've been through a trial by fire, but judging by the number of songs on A&E that have the word fire in their titles, I'd say you beat me to it.
Jason Pierce: That is accidental. I didn't even notice it until I wrote down the titles.

Wired: Seriously?

Pierce: Totally serious, the whole thing was written before my illness.... It wasn't easy to get back into what for me was an old record. I had to make it contemporary to where I was at the time.

"Death Take Your Fiddle" a song title that gives an obtuse hint to the unhappy theme the song carries a rhythm track that sounds like a person on a breathing machine. The sound someone of struggling to breathe, a sound associated with a person at death's door is an incredibly disturbing layer on top of the music. It takes the life struggle / death theme to a much higher level.

"Soul On Fire", the first single of the record states that "Baby, you never should say never, I got a hurricane inside my veins and I want to stay forever." This could be an IV drip dedication but it could just as easily be a heroin anthem too. Good or bad drugs, J needs to find a new, slightly healthier obsession either way. J says these songs were written three years ago, before his illness so maybe at the time he had love and passion pumping through his body. Maybe? The optimist in me hopes this is the case but any knowledgeable Spacemen 3 fan would probably laugh in my face for trying to stray away from the drug theme.

"It's so hard to fight when you're losing. And I gotta a little tear in my soul. And in my own time I am losing fast and I can't even hold what I own." The song "Sitting on Fire" goes onto repeat and ends on "It's so hard...with the addition of "in my own time I am dying and I can't even hold what I own."

"You know I got the scars to say I'm here" ("Baby I'm Just a Fool")

"Daddy I'm sorry I borrowed your gun again...shot up your family.....shot up my mother, my beautiful Mother. Hold out your hands I'm coming home. Hold out your arms, I am all alone. My mind is made up and I'm down on my luck. I've run out of bullets again." ("Borrowed Your Gun")

The lyrical examples of darkness and depression go on and on. Sure one could also argue there are statements of a fighter among his choice of words too but that hope lies on a razor blade's edge.
I wonder what his friends and family make of a record like this. I couldn't listen to these songs in a passive manner. I can only hope that the man who wrote these songs three years ago has been left behind in a retired hospital bed and the man who walked out of the infirmary is a new and revitalized being. Hopefully Songs in A & E will be his last celebration of the needle and the damage done.

There are two version of the records, a regular as well as a deluxe version plus there is a limited run on vinyl too. (UK only)

About the special edition :

"The main format for Spiritualized’s new album will be a typically lavish affair with a 32-page booklet (above) referencing Pierce’s recent illness – a bout of double pneumonia that necessitated a lengthy stay in intensive care and nearly killed him, hence the title, Songs In a&e. The starting point for the design (which was an 18-month process, work in progress shown above) was a set of photographs of Pierce in the icu taken by his girl­friend. Pierce had countless needles coming out of his arms, connected to various drips. He, Farrow and the main designer on the project, Gary Stillwell, were struck by the beauty of these functional objects. “The idea was to elevate them and draw attention to them,” says Farrow. “They are incredible things … on a completely la-la level I love the fact that [in the photographs] they look like pinned insects, they take on a beauty when you see them presented in that way….” The jewel box edition of the album will feature a fold-out poster of the needles on one side"

May 19, 2008


What - Yeah-Yeah Night (girl group records from all decades / from all over the plantet, 60's rock / psyche /garage, Tropicalia with a touch of who knows what thrown in. I DJ alone all night, ladies are offered drink specials and chocolate if they are lucky. Boys are more than welcome. I can promise you great girl watching and the coolest ladies in town will be out in full force. THIS EVENT IS FREE

Where - Ipanema - 917 W. Grace St, RVA

When - May 24th (This Saturday /Memorial Day Weekend!!!) 10pm (ish) -2am

Who - ME! (And seriously the ladies of Ipanema alone are worth the night out)

Hope to see you there!
Lightning's Girl

El Guincho / Alegranza

Artist - El Guincho

Title - Alegranza

Hometown - Barcelona

Label - Discoteca Océano

Street Date - Out Now

RIYL - Headache inducing repetition

The Hits - I don't know - it all blurs together.

Alegranza is:

A skipping record of jungle sounds

Animal Collective

Battery powered symbol crashing monkey toy

Animal Collective

Carnival rides that go round and round during Carnivale

Animal Collective

Conga Lines

Animal Collective

Afro-pop with the hiccoughs

Animal Collective

May 16, 2008

Friday Flaschcard: Name that Metal Band

It pretty much blows my mind that black metal bands or for that matter any band associated with such evil would break down and set up a lame user friendly MySpace page but for the sake of my Friday posts, I sure am glad that they do.

This band hailing from Greece only has a demo. It appears they have spent a great deal of time on their logo rather than recording an actual record.
Here is what the band has to say for themselves:
"Formed in 2007 in order to play black metal exclusively"
See name of band in the comments section.

May 15, 2008


Seeing the Kermit covering Elliott Smith video made me think of this classic Muppet Show sketch featuring Robin, Kermit's cousin.

I am so going to cover this song one of these days. The world needs that, right? Right?

May 14, 2008

Good Shoes

Angular. Twee. Punk.

Make me a story about a mixtape

Cassette From My Ex is a relatively new website about mixtapes. But a specific type of mixtape—the one made by a former flame. The site's contributors give a little backstory on the tape in question and provide images. Even better, you can stream each tape (one side at a time, natch) to get a real feel for what the maker of the tape was trying to say. One semi-famous contributor so far is Claudia Gonson of the Magnetic Fields, and Damon Locks of The Eternals and Trenchmouth is due to post soon. Maybe they'll get Nick Hornby in on the action one day.

Monkey See / Money Do

Above : Allison from The Kills

Above: Jennifer of Royal Trux

Check out these wanna be RTX pictures of The Kills. Friggin Poncho and all.

Pete & the Pirates / Little Death

Name: Pete & the Pirates

Title: Little Death

Hometown: Reading: UK

Label: Stolen Recordings

Street Date: Now

RILY: The Shins, Franz, The Futureheads, cuddle-core with strong beat and hand claps, short songs, a less ivy league version of Vampire Weekend

The Hits: Pretty much the whole kit and kaboodle

Richter Magnitude Scale: Strong

I am always a little suspicious when I meet someone approaching their middle age who is heavily aware of pop culture like the name of Paris Hilton's dogs or how the dance to the newest Lil' Wayne video goes. A part of me thinks there has to be 1000 better things to invest your time and brain power in by this point in your life but the other part of me is filled with all sorts of guilty pleasures and appreciates the urge to keep up with the mundane for the lighthearted distractions these things can offer an adult. I hold myself to these same standards and feel equal parts pleasure and guilt when I buy Star magazine or purchase hoop hearings from a store I am pretty certain is geared towards the Tweeners stuck somewhere between the world of Barbie and Britney.

Aging gracefully is so abstract to me that I can't be sure how to do it no less well. Is it avoiding crows feet for another year? Is it choosing Shakespeare in the Park over R. Kelly at the Coliseum? Perhaps it is deciding that with maturity comes a taste for the finer things but then what exactly defines the finer things? Am I supposed to be sipping a $100.00 bottle of wine while preparing Coquille St. Jacques and listening to Edith Piaf? That doesn't reflect the grown up I have become and I am happy to sit upon my thrift store chair in an apartment I rent rather than own, drinking soda pop and listening to Pete & the Pirates...a group I imagine would be loved by a 16 year old before a woman of, well lets just say over 30.

The songs found on Little Death are contagious bursts of melody that could duel any song on Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins or Franz Ferdinand's debut release. On Little Death the verses compete against the choruses as one hook battles another. Confectionery sing alongs nestle against one another like Oreos still in their package. Mmmmm...genius pop songs without the calories of a bag of cookies.

The title of the album Little Death cleverly takes their youthful pop anthems to a very adult place. La petite mort translates into the small death which refers to the fainting spells some lovers have after they have climaxed. In short (pun intended) "Little Death" is a post orgasm unconsciousness and Pete & the Pirates offers the listener 36 minutes of refined pleasure that probably won't cause you to black out but it will at least leave you feeling incredibly satisfied.

Pete & the Pirates- mature but young at heart. I think I have found myself a record to age gracefully to (whatever the hell that actually means). Eye patch not included.

See them play (behind) Closed Doors:

May 12, 2008

Why isn't this band more popular?

Under Byen! They sound like all the best parts of Bjork, Mum, Sigur Ros, and Blonde Redhead yet they aren't red wood tree huge not even maple tree huge. They have a new live EP out called Under yen & The Danish Radio Sinfonietta with 5 tracks on it which is a nice bridge between their last release and what I hope will be their next full length.

Bend It

Is it just me or could this song work at a Jewish Wedding? I don't which I like more, the dancing or the clothes.

I give you Dave, Dee, Dozy,Beaky, Mich & Tich

Spider Man

Read the full article here:

"An East Carolina University biologist, Jason Bond, discovered a new species of trapdoor spider and opted to call the arachnid after his favorite musician, Canadian Neil Young, naming it Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi."

Monkey Man

I liked the original Maytals version.

I liked the energetic Specials version.

The blog over at WFMU posted another fantastic version of this classic song by MELT BANANA that needs to be heard, as any attempt at describing it would be an injustice.

This is another example of how a well written song can translate across genres, styles, recordings and decades.

So go ahead, hug him up. You know you want to.

P.S. It looks like Amy Winehouse is intentionally draining the life out of this musical masterpiece. But even her best attempts to destroy the Monkey Man can not kill this powerful song.

May 11, 2008

Summer Jamz

Everybody loves to get excited about their favorite summer jams around this time of year. Typically, the winners in the summer jam sweepstakes come from the pop universe, especially those spheres inhabited by folks like Timbaland and Missy Elliott. Being that I'm an antisocial hermit who rarely ventures out except to see shows, I don't have the same emotional investment that lots of folks do in their warm-weather listening. However, I have found a track which I think qualifies as my first bonafide summer jam of 2008:

Holy Fuck's "Lovely Allen (Brothers Remix)"

This remix of a 2007 song by Holy Fuck really threw me for a loop when I first heard it a couple of weeks ago as part of a mix that Brothers did for FADER. After unsuccessfully trying for a while to find an MP3, I ended up ripping it from the mix itself, though the sound quality and wonky ending leave a little to be desired. Regardless, it's a monster remix of an already fantastic track and whenever it starts up, I basically end up wishing it'll never end.

Check the Brothers FADER mix here.

And here's the video for the original "Lovely Allen":

Landmark Preserved?

For anyone who grew up going to or playing shows at CBGB it is difficult to fathom the legendary shit hole, I mean infamous NYC venue morphing into a top end boutique paying homage to rock and roll using the same well worn space . The original flyered/stickered/graffiti walls are now protected by glass suggesting an illusion of respect and preservation to the room's former life. Chandeliers now hang from the ceiling. A small stage doubles as a shoe display. Guitar amps live a stifled life acting as a table for a bottle of Jack Daniels; an accessory to the store's trying too hard bad boy image. It has been said that the filthiest bathrooms in the history of mankind have been turned into storage rooms but what I really want to know is how or who had to clean up that repulsive 30 plus years in the making mess.

Ironically an outfit at John's Varvatos 315 Bowery Boutique costs more than what the bands who once performed at a typical night at CBGB were paid, even if they were to pool all their money together along with the tips from the bar staff. For a touch of true CB's nostalgia I can only hope that they bus in homeless people to beg for change and potentially point homemade weapons at you just like the good old days when the residents from the homeless shelter above the club would hang out in front on warm nights- creating one of the strangest rock meets not mixers on the planet.

Varvatos truly believes that by playing R&R dress up with the old CBGB (which houses three of his fashion lines within its walls) he is now a part of the club's mythic history. That's sort of like someone buying John Lennon's iconoclastic round glasses and saying they are now a part of The Beatles history. Nope, you are still just a fan with clearly a lot of money to toss around.

Commercial rent has skyrocketed to astronomical proportions (40K to 150K a month!!!) in the East Village so in my mind it is just a matter of time that this landmark to New York's music history is doomed to become the bank or newest Starbucks conquest that John Varvatos was trying to spare it from in the first place. John is only delaying the inevitable. To be blunt, his store won't last the test of time. If some of the most famous bands in the world couldn't save CBGB why would a designer's utilitarian sleek silhouettes be able to do it? I don't care how modern your fabrics are or how much you think people will be willing to pay for them in a "famous" location, it simply can't last more than a few years.

I suggest we go ahead and take all the salvaged parts of CBGB now embarrassingly used as a backdrop for rich people to shop within and ship to the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland where the club can be given a decent memorial in a place that actually pays tribute to ROCK.

For kicks the museum should also recreate the CB's bathrooms by placing them at the hardest to reach / furthest point in the building where those with full bladders will have to snake their way through a packed house only to make their way down dimply lit stairs to the pits of hell otherwise known as the latrine. Men could then face the humiliation of public urination since the stairs ended at a door-less men's bathroom and women could look forward to relieving themselves in a half standing / half squatting position (Because God knows what was smeared or dripped all over the toilet seat, assuming there even was a toilet seat) while holding the stall door shut with one hand because there isn't a lock and cursing because there isn't any toilet paper, the toilet isn't flushing, and there is only one working sink with a faucet spitting nothing but scalding hot water. Now that is the CBGB I remember.

I am a nostalgic person but the more I reminisce about CBGB, the more I am convinced it is time to send it off to greener pastures. New Yorkers need to create a new legendary space for bands to play and stop beating a dead horse with a couture fashion line.

May 10, 2008

Muxtape: 60's Fuzz

Listen to 11 songs of fuzzy 60's goodness here.

FYI: You need to join Muxtape to hear the songs but it only takes a minute to get set up.

PS: This is some of the kind of music I DJ at my Yeah-Yeah Girl Night at Ipanema.

Love is All East Coast Tour Dates - Hooray!

Tue-Jun-10 Baltimore, MD Otto Bar
Wed-Jun-11 Washington, DC Black Cat
Thu-Jun-12 New York, NY Cake Shop
Fri-Jun-13 Philadelphia, PA The Barbary
Sat-Jun-14 Brooklyn, NY Market Hotel
Sun-Jun-15 Boston, MA Great Scott

May 8, 2008

A dozen brushes with the once rich and or I guess kinda famous.

These stories are all true, all from random points in my adult life, and all ranging from the good, the bad, and the ugly. Now that I am much older, living in a small city, and am more of a homebody it is hard to believe that any of this stuff was the norm or at least my norm. These bits and pieces are far too obscure to be considered hard cover book worthy memoirs but they are little shards of memories I want to jot down before I forget about them all together. I have a shamefully poor ability to recall anything from the past so it is remarkable that any of this silly stuff has lasted this long in my memory bank. Who knows what I have already forgot.

1) Twink of The Pretty Things / Pink Fairies came into one of the record stores I used to work at pawning his solo records autographed, seemingly desperate for money. Besides thinking his name sounded like a yummy snack food, as a kid in my early 20s, his fame was lost on me at the time. After rediscovering S.F Sorrow rather recently and realizing it is a psych-rock masterpiece, I could kick myself for not spending more time chatting with him.

2) On more than one occasion I watched Dee Dee Ramone stumble up to CBGBs with a guitar in hand begging to be added to a bill so he could make a few quick dollars to support his serious junk habit. As a side note, the club always turned him away at the door.

3) L'amour, a classic metal venue in Brooklyn not only holds a special place in my heart because I saw one of my first small club shows there in the mid 80s but I stood next to Bjork during a Cannibal Corpse set. Her son and boyfriend Matthew Barney are both into metal but I don't recall seeing either one of the at that show. I did however sit a few rows behind Bjork and Barney at an Iceland opera in Reykjavik the day after the Sugarcubes reunion show.

4) In the late 90's I was standing around a NYC small club called Brownies (RIP) to see a friend play (Tiffany Anders, daughter of daughter of independent filmmaker Allison Anders) and she introduced me to a circle of people she was friendly with including a bloated sorta unwashed looking fellow named Kevin. We all stood around chatting for about ten minutes and when we eventually walked away I realized she seemed terribly nervous and was shaking. It turns out that the Kevin I was introduced to was Kevin Shields and he being a mutual friend of one of hers, had come to check out the show. She was terrified to play in front of a man she considered to be a musical genius.

5)Macaulay Culkin in a drunken state once harassed my ex-husband backstage of a White Stripes show for drugs - convinced he was a member of The Strokes...which he is not...nor does he / did he ride the white horse.

6) Part two of this was being on a short tour with the White Stripes was because my ex was in an opening band at the time. My only lengthy exchange with Jack and Meg involved a box of Powerpuff Girl cereal which popped in your mouth like Pop Rocks.

7) A co-worker of mine back in my C/Z Records days was old friends with Eddie Vedder and his wife to be at the time. We were dying her hair from blue to brown for their wedding and while we were in the process of this Eddie called looking to speak to her. She couldn't talk because her head was covered with dye so I played middle man between she in the room with me and Eddie on the phone.

8) I had the responsibility of getting this guy a cab after he made an appearance at the music distributor I was working for at the time. Believe me when I tell you NOBODY wants to pick up a guy who looks like a villain elf that lacks a hair brush. Seriously, he looked just like this picture.

9) J Mascis lived around the corner from me in NYC and after having brunch together (his girlfriend was a friend of mine) we all went shopping at a dollar store where J was on the hunt for slippers which I want to say ended up being pink.

10) In the early to mid 90s I went up to Montreal to see the pop punk band The Doughboys play with Joan Jett. A French speaking man proceeded to try to pick me up, I mean he was the wouldn't leave me alone kind of creepy pest, and when I said I didn't speak French in my crappy I took French in grade school broken baby French, he began to curse at me loudly for a good minute and stormed off. A few seconds later a stranger approached me and asked what I did to piss off the hometown hero from Voivod. To this day I can't recall which guy from Voivod it was.

11) There is nothing quite like standing next to Kathleen Hanna and Adam Horovitz at a late 90's Fugazi show in NYC and watching annoying frat dudes AND third generation Riot Grrrls circle them like birds of prey.

12) Once upon a time my old band was popular enough to warrant ridiculous A&R types to come and check us out...or at least we were on bills with bands who were being wined and dined by the major label community. The funniest of the industry bunch was not one but two members of Blondie acting as talent scouts for some major label. They proceeded to walk out of our show with a look boredom meets more boredom in a matter of minutes. The next Deborah Harry I was not.

Friday Flashcard: Name That Metal Band

I love it when a band (RIP) takes themselves a little too seriously - check out this quote from their MySpace page. "Too technical for the grindcore/crust crowd, too unironic for the indie/noise scene, too weird for the conservative death metal scene, too chaotic and destructive for most, Hatewave seemed to be highly misunderstood during its existence."

Yet the band has song titles like "cock vs cunt" and "face fucked" and have a logo that looks like a retractable crown.
For the name of this band please see the comments section.

A Haiku Review

Artist - Night Marchers

Hometown - San Diego, CA

Label - Swami

Venue - Mercury Lounge, NYC

Date - 05/07/08

John Reis has returned.
Skinnier, more aggressive.
Blood sugar too low?

Much like a Snickers bar, a Night Marchers show really satisfies.

May 7, 2008

MBV- These Are Your Bloody Rarities Vol 2.

Artist - My Bloody Valentine
Title - These Are Your Bloody Rarities, Vol. 2
Hometown - UK
Label - Peacock Records (let's call it an import label wink wink)
RIYL - Rare MBV, shoegaze
The Hits - Never Say Goodbye, Strawberry name a few
Richter Magnitude Scale - Moderate

Tracks 1-18 represent the all the music from Ecstasy and Wine, the You Made Me Realize EP, and the Feed Me With Your Kiss EP.

The sound quality for everything is decent but obviously lacking the depth, warmth, and bass of the original recordings. Since the MBV boxset doesn't look like it will be released anytime soon this collection and Volume 1 (which has all the other EPs on one disc) might be worth while for the serious fan who can't afford to buy all the rare EPs and singles.

I would normally never review one of these kinds of records but for you hardcore MBV fans this might be worth tracking down for three reasons. (listed below)

1) Track 19 is from a 7" flexi "The Catalogue #67 and is called Sugar and relatively rare.

2) Track 20 in an instrumental track from a 7"

3) Tracy 21 is another instrumental track taken from Pensioners on Ecstasy CD.

A Totally Useless Fun Fact

Rob Dickenson of Catherine Wheel is the cousin to Bruce Dickenson of Iron Maiden. The only reason I would even mention Rob is he is releasing his solo record in the States finally and it will include 6 Catherine Wheel tracks re-recorded. Um yeah.

May 6, 2008


A Bardot classic.

Le Loup - The Throne of the blah blah blah

Artist - Le Loup

Hometown -Washington, DC

Label -Hardly Art (Division of Sub Pop)

RIYL - The Books, NPR approved artists, panda bear's bedtime stories, Tunng, folktrnicana, a one man Menomena, Angels of Light

The Hits - Planes Like Vultures., Outside of this Car, Le Loup

It isn't the best sign in the world that after 10 or so listens (nine more lives than most new records get in my home) I am still left mostly uninspired by Le Loup. Le Loup which is a semi-clever way of disguising the fact that this is yet another band with an animal name, only in French. Le Loup means the wolf. (I am politely hiding a yawn behind my raised hand to mouth right now)

The veteran listener in me says The Books do this whole experimental folk-pop better and did it first but there is undeniably some substance to the songs written and performed by Sam Simkoff, the man behind Le Loup. These are not big splashy pop songs, they are a more humbled offering where melody wears a harness and is dictated through a banjo, a computer, and what sounds like a bedroom studio with just one mic. His lyrics rise up in cloud form billowing like smoke signals overlapping nightmares with daydreams.

The atheist academic in me is tempted to make connections between the record's heavy ode to Dante's Inferno, the lengthy album title which is a tribute to a folk art piece created by a man whose art was a religious vehicle, lyrical content which clearly reveals the author to be amidst a spiritual journey ,and wonder if this is a Christian record.* This could just as easily be a conceptually dense piece of work by a well read cultured individual. And really it isn't any of my business what the belief system is of any artist... but as a matter of personal taste I tend to leave artists like Sufjan at the door. No offense to my Christian Rock friends but I admittedly tend to sit on the secular side of the fence.

Le Loup in this debut recorded form is pregnant with talent but The Throne of the Third Heaven does not give birth to it. Since the making of this record Le Loup has grown from just one man into a 7 piece band and after seeing them just once live you too will ache for a recording that puts six more layers on top of this one man's sturdy foundation. I appreciate The Throne... but it won't makes its way onto my stereo all that often if ever. I will however continue to see them live and look forward to their sophomore release.

* Please see comments section for a Le Loup band member reply to this question.

May 5, 2008

Animal Collective - Water Curses EP

Artist - Animal Collective
Title - Water Curses EP
Hometown - MD/PA/Boston/NYC/Seattle/the world
Label - Domino
Street Date - May 6, 2008
RIYL - Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Avey Tare
The Hits - Water Curses, Street Flash
Richter Magnitude Scale - Major

In an average workday I would say I listen from anywhere to 5 to 12 records a day- easy. Unfortunately much of the time I am only half listening, forget what I have thrown on, or tune out whatever I intended to listen to in a matter of minutes.

Today I put Animal Collective's Water Curses EP on and about 2 minutes in I found myself thinking GOD, ANOTHER BAND THAT WANTS TO BE ANIMAL COLLECTIVE!!!! I am utterly over this. And then I quickly realized, ooops, this is Animal Collective and they have ever right to sound like themselves. It isn't the band's fault that every other new band seems to be borrowing heavily from their trademark tribal atmospheric ethereal melodies.

The four songs found on Water Curses are perfect stepping stones from Strawberry Jam, moving farther away from their jam band drum circle tendencies and closer to a more structured, more palatable mosaic of textured sounds.

The song "Cobwebs" repeats the line ping pong style "I'm not going underground" and I can attest that they speak the truth. Animal Collective have spun a delicate silvery psychedelic web between the world of cult following and the mainstream.

Bill Callahan AKA Smog Fun Fact

This is old news but a fun little fact I had forgotten all about until I have lunch today with a friend. Back in Bill's teenage days in fabulous Silver Springs, MD he was a huge Replacements fan and ran the band's first fanzine called Willpower.

A 7" in 7 Words or Less

Artist - Jay Reatard
Title - See/Saw BW/ Screaming Hand
Hometown - Memphis TN
Label - Matador
RIYL - Garage punk bands with keyboards, Gary Numan, Dinosaur Jr., and Devo
The Hit - Screaming Hand
Yay or Nay - Yay

The Review:

The Only Ones
on krank.

Web In Front

A friend keyed me in to this gem of a performance by Eric Bachmann.
This is an Archers of Loaf song that gets stuck in my head from time to time, even if I haven't heard it in forever. It is very good to hear/see this re-interpretation and to find that it works so well in this solo format. The original recorded version from the Archers of Loaf album 'Icky Mettle' is rather quirky, but this acoustic version shows that the song stands on its own and wasn't reliant on the specific sound/style of that recording/era/scene.

Thanks Chuck.

May 4, 2008

No Age / Nouns

Name: No Age

Title: Noun

Home: L.A.

Label: Sub Pop

Street Date: May 6

RIYL: Shoegaze, sonic pop, two piece bands, The Liars, Wives, bands named after SST Records collections, and duos who collaborate as artists without instruments too.

The Hits: Miner, Eraser, Things I Did When I was Dead, Sleeper Hold, Impossible Bouquet

The definition of art rock(Wikipedia):

"Art rock is a term used to describe a sub genre of rock music with "experimental or avant-garde influences" that emphasizes "novel sonic texture."[1] Art rock is an "intrinsically album-based" form, which takes "advantage of the format's capacity for longer, more complex compositions and extended instrumental explorations.[1] The Golden Age of Rock lectures define art rock as "a piece of music in the rock idiom that is appealing more intellectually or musically, that is, not formulated along pop lines for mass consumption. It's usually somewhat experimental. It often employs a long structure with several themes like classical music, though sometimes it's a suite of individual songs. One unifying feature is that Art Rock almost always features keyboards more than guitar." As well, art rock is "not so much for dancing as for listening and it often tells a story or has a philosophical theme to the lyrics.""

No Age, Considered an art band by scenesters and critics alike is a label that I am uncertain they fully deserve. They are noisy, unbelievably so for just two guys, but somewhere buried beneath the cacophony of sound are old fashioned pop songs.

Lyrically, if in fact we take the definition of art rock seriously, read more like spam accidental poetry. Come to think of it, accidental poetry might be the best way to genre-fi this group musically; it is a much more honest tag than art or noise band.

No Age sounds like if every K Records and Sub Pop band played all at once as a symphony, one half playing EVOL and the other half playing Loveless. They are a beautiful sonic mess with vocals for those who aren't so worried about pitch and CD packaging as layered and thick as the music on the disc itself.

I've been trying to work out an angle or the reasoning behind the record being named Noun and I'll be damned if I can find something clever to say about that. A CD is a noun. A band is a noun. Some of their song titles refer to nouns. Together they form a pack of nouns. Maybe everything doesn't have to be for a specific reason and I should just leave it at that. A little mystery in art is a good thing.

Perfectly imperfect Nouns is an enormous collage of color, sound, and concepts just abstract enough that it leaves plenty of room for your imagination to work with it.

If you pre-order the release from Sub Pop by May 6th (tomorrow) "you’ll receive a limited-edition poster featuring an Ed Templeton photograph of No Age, covered with a drawing by this same, broadly-talented artiste, Mr. Templeton."

May 1, 2008

Rollerskate Skinny

Oh to be a band who was best known for once featuring the brother of Kevin Shields, Jimi Shields. Rollerskate Skinny named after a line from "Catcher in the Rye" was an Irish band formed in 1992 only to disband after a few EPs and 2 long players by the late 90s. Sadly Jimi left the band early on - feeling that the press attention due to his relation to a My Bloody Valentine member overshadowed Rollerskate Skinny who were rather fantastic in their own right.

After the demise of this band member Ken Griffin went on to form Kid Silver (Jetset Records) and now plays in a group called Favourite Sons with 4 members of Aspera on Vice.

Friday Flashcard : Name That Metal Band

To see the answer - and no, the band name isn't hot but it is equally as terrible - check the comments section.