July 31, 2008
Title - Amplicon (limited to 750 copies)
Hometown - Norway
Label - Utech
Street Date - Out now
RIYL - The dark part of your brain that has yet to be explored, The Exorcist, A kitten with a whip, Khlyst, James Plotkin, Thor's Hammer, Sunno))), things that go bump in the night, possessed children, Ulver (mixed by Tore Ylvisaker of Ulver), Diamanda Galas, cell studies
The Hits - None in the traditional sense
Richter Magnitude - Strong (I understand this won't be for everyone no less the traditional metal fan)
Just by placing the title of this record under the microscope you will learn that Amplicon is a piece of DNA that has been synthesized using amplification techniques (amplification = an increase in the number of copies of a specific DNA fragment IE cloning / in vitro). In case you were wondering females have only a single amplicon and as a reminder DNA is the genetic building block to all living organisms. I am not sure if there has ever been a recording to coincide with Molecular biology and the evolution of life but Runhild's Amplicon might be a good place to start. I think we have a new genre of music on our hands : moli-core. Genet-al? (there is a good dirty pun in there somewhere too)
The music found here is a battle between the light and dark, good and evil, right and wrong, woman and child, life and death. We find two separate elements being synthesized into one which ties directly into the theme of Amplicon. There are stories here told in a multitude of voices, some spoken at varying speeds (slowed down or reversed -v- normal), some spat with a growl buried deep within her throat (ala Thor's Hammer), and some sung as if a child's voice was a stone skipping playfully across the surface of a body of water. Terror teeters towards a playful side, something I have never heard before, ever. The cycle of life is complex, filled with mystery, and is a delicate balance of beauty and decay. Runhild has taken these elements and applied / channeled it through her voice and atmospheric rumbles.
I think most of my blog followers know Runhild is one of my best friends so this is a difficult review for me. It is a challenge to write about this record and pretend I know nothing of her, her recording process, or her influences. I tried to approach this in the spirit of the professional side of Runhild, a scientist of cell physiology, and just write a report strictly on what I have before me. Amplicon is a group of songs with titles reflecting a passion for science and the interest in amplifying the invisible and the abstract. The only catch with a record like this is I am not sure when and where to listen to it. It is clearly a truly personal piece of work and listening to it is parallel to opening up Runhild's head and taking a poke around. Its fair to say that experience won't be for everyone but I find it to be an immensely fascinating experiment and a hauntingly pleasurable one.
We will be working on a collaborative record under the band name Drekkingarhylur in the upcoming months. All the music will be written, recorded and performed by the two us accompanied by our own vocals and lyrics too.
We aren't sure why we didn't do this sooner but the time is now.
July 30, 2008
I was working my companies booth this year so I didn't get to go to any of the panels I wanted to (Watchmen, Battlestar Galactica (moderated by Kevin Smith) but I did get to our own panel (Mystery Science Theater 3000 Reunion moderated by Patton Oswald!). Last year was very exciting due to all the major geek properties they were showing off (Dark Knight, Ironman, Star Trek, Indiana Jones). This year was just a major let down. Other than Watchmen nothing was in the air that seemed cool. A Wolverine movie? Eh. Star Wars Cartoon? Meh. If you miss the panels all comic-con becomes is a shopping mall with tons of free swag. At our booth, if it wasn't nailed down, people would take it.
The real allure of Comic-con is the sheer mass of geekdom. I defy anyone to name a comic or movie character that I did not see someone dress up as. It is amazing. There are the straight forward ones you would expect like Storm Troopers (about 800), Indiana Jones (at least 2 dozen) and any generally super-hero. Also a ton Heath Ledger inspired Jokers this year, all with various degrees of home made make up and clothing. Then there is the less obvious costumes, including a giant tentacle (?), scantily clad s&m ladies (nice with so many little kids around) and waaaay to may Furries. What's a furry? Check it out : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furry_fandom
I am a geek and proud of it, but I still cant help but be amazed by the amount of people who are the exact stereotype of 'geeks' or 'nerds' at Comic-Con. It is uncanny. Like 50,000 Toby Radloffs. This was one of my favorite conversations with a genuine nerd:
PUPPET GUY (I call him this cause he was holding a puppet on his hand. He spoke in a very nasally voice): Um, excuse me, when is Dan Milano going to be here (Dan Milano is the creator of Greg The Bunny).
ME: He will be here at 11 to sign. Greg the Bunny will also be here, but he won't be signing.
PUPPET GUY: What?
ME: Greg will be here, but he won't be signing.
PUPPET GUY: I don't understand.
ME: He is a puppet so he can't sign anything.
He looks at me with a look of ABSOLUTE confusion.
PUPPET GUY: Um, well, ok. I will be back at 11 for their autographs.
Keep in mind that during this entire conversation he flapped the puppets lips like he was talking, but made no attempt at ventriloquism. Fantastic.
I really spent all my time in our booth. We had 5 signings and that is just nuts. Hundreds of people, who you have to line up and then other booths complain because you are blocking them. At one point we had a Mystery Science Theater signing, across the way the Cartoon Network had a Powerpuff Girls signing, next to us there was a Star Trek signing and a couple rows down Keifer Sutherland was signing. All this was on Friday @ 1, the busiest time of the con. I cannot explain the sheer mass of people. It was worse than any concert. Insanity.
I did manage to get away from the crush for one night and venture to M-Theory Records and enjoy a California burrito (carne asada, french fries, guacamole) that cost about 1/5 of a pretzel inside the convention center.
July 29, 2008
You need this record. Like now.
July 28, 2008
ISIS news and Side Projects
ISIS and ISIS side project newsWe've been working hard on the new record. All five of us sweating away in a small windowless room in downtown Los Angeles. We're making good progress and will have more (and more exciting) news about that to report soon! There's new ISIS merch up in the WEBSTORE. We're excited to be heading to Chicago this weekend for a few shows! It should be a killer time!
In ISIS related news we have a few side project things to report:Aaron Harris along with our good friend and Cave In/OMG bass player Caleb Scofield have a record up for pre order from Hydrahead Records. The band is called Zozobra. Aaron along with playing drums on the record also recorded and mixed it. You can find the pre order HERE and to hear samples of the record you can go HERE
Aaron Turner has a new project he's been working on with James Plotkin and Tim Wyskida. The album is done and has no name as of yet. When we find out more we'll let you know! We do know that it should be released early 2009. House of Low Culture has some shows lined up for the Northwest in the fall. More on them to come as well.
Well that seems to be it. Thanks for listening. You can always find out what Mike is up to when he's not making eerie guitar sounds by going HERE and what Cliff is up to when he's not on tour HERE
Read the full story here: http://digitalmusicnews.com/stories/071608emusic/
July 27, 2008
Quite a few of the videos are disabled on youtube that I had originally posted, sorry about that! Here are a few links to the BBC clips.
You can also watch whole episodes broken down into three parts if you go to YouTube and enter in The Maightee Bewsh. As fas as I can tell there doesn't seem to be DVDs made for those of us without the non UK formate.
July 25, 2008
Think of the most stunning genius crazy cool thing ever and then picture the exact opposite. Its like a Hot Topic male model exploded all over your computer screen. Eeeeewwwwww.
And just to defend how I found this in the first place, I was looking up an old girl group song called "Lookin' for Boys" on YouTube and this video came up instead.
Then one bad video led to another....
Thanks Mr. Baconfat for the links.
July 24, 2008
July 23, 2008
July 22, 2008
My favorite two stores for used vinyl were hands down Primitive and Beatnick but Nice Music tops the list too.
Actually every store I stopped in had really helpful great people working at them too. All those tales you hear about record store people being nasty aren't true. I find when you show a genuine interest in learning about music from a store that carries used records...especially if it music from the region the store is located in, the people who work at the store are the best teachers in town.
Here is a list of record stores in Montreal.
Also remember the story about the Canadian guy who found a ridiculously rare Velvet Underground acetate? He has a record store that is kinda a dream come true. You have to climb crazy steep black metal stairs (oooooh black metal) to reach it so it is a bit like shopping in a tree house - even though it is really just the back room of an apartment AND they sell baked goods. Yessss.
I will post about some of the records I scored in greater detail later on. I am pretty burnt out from my first day back at work and too tired too write more today. I will say that I have a good hour of new music to DJ at my next night so consider yourself warned. My next DJ night will be the best one yet!!!!
Also thank you Mr. Sunshine for the bits from Chicago. Its the next best thing to actually being at the fest myself.
I also took took a few hours to shop for records in Burlington, VT but I have to say I was really disappointed. Not many used records to be found there although Pure Pop is a fine indie store in a traditional college town kinda way.
July 20, 2008
The Hits - Radio Heart, This is Not the World, Broke Up the Time
Its all about Stage B.
Union Park is split by a city street with the large stages (A & C) standing amidst 4 softball fields. Across the "street" (where the food vendors are set up) is Stage B. Stage B gets the lesser known acts, but it's also a nice relaxed place to listen to music. That side of the park is largely tree covered and has its own beverage stands. So for a good portion of the day, Stage B was the place.
I got there early, but didn't really catch anything good until Jay Reatard short but explosive set. Caribou put in a good set. The Fleet Foxes didn't sound so compelling for a live set, so we went to Stage B.
On B, the Icy Demons were wrapping up a very good dance oriented set. After them came the Fuck Buttons. They put on a solid set of groove-oriented noise (or noise-oriented groove?) that became perfect for drinking beer amidst the trees in a park. We hung out for the Ruby Suns and a good portion for Elf Power's set. I was tempted to stay for the rest of their set, but we went to see !!! instead. We were rewarded for our journey - they put on a great dance-oriented set.
We then returned to B for Extra Golden who were grooving solidly. Atlas Sound put on a great set as well. It was just Cox (no backing band), but he sounded great. Again, it was more drifting, floating music - good for drinking beer in a park. We stayed around Stage B for most of No Age's set then caught the last half hour of Animal Collective. AC was good (they had a great light show), but I heard from folks who stayed that No Age was pretty amazing.
So, while I've enjoyed the big sets that I've caught on the main stages, I've made more discoveries at Stage B.
It rained a lot yesterday morning, so there are some areas of the field that are mud. A small band of concertgoers who mistakenly thought they were at Bonnaroo decided to cover themselves in the mud. However, urban mud is a whole different deal from country mud. It's a dull grey color and I'm sure it has its share of nastiness. The sun did come out later in the afternoon, so the day overall has been really nice.
July 19, 2008
A couple of months ago some DJs at the station asked if I wanted to go to the Pitchfork Music Festival. I hadn't really thought about going - I'm generally not a festival kind of guy. But I thought about it and now here I am in Chicago at the festival.
The venueUnion Park is a real city park. The main concerts are on three softball fields (the porta-johns are lined up against the backstops of two of them). The market appears to be set up on the basketball courts and the beverage tents are amidst the tree covered areas near the road. Except for the massive video screens near the stages, this could be an ethnic food festival or a large church fair.
Oh, and beverage prices are beyond reasonable - they may in fact be lower than the surrounding bars. A 16oz cup of micro-brew beer is $4 and bottled water is $2! Sparks is the most expensive offering at $6 a cup, but I suspect that the combination of caffeine, alcohol and heat makes for some ugly dehydration (and a killer hangover the next morning if you overindulge).
Mission Of Burma
Friday night is the "Don't Look Back" concerts: three acts playing entire albums of material from the the 80s. Mission of Burma kicked off the night with Vs.
To fill out the slot, they started with some early singles, including "Forget" (one of my favorite MoB songs), then tore through Vs. Hearing it live, two things struck me -
1. The music on Vs. is meant to be heard live. The record is dry, minimal and aggressive on record, a combination that works so much better live.
2. It's music that ages very well. It's so angry and so intelligent that it somehow seems more appropriate to be played by older musicians. It becomes a post-punk, Blakean epic about the fall from grace and the doubt of any clear path to redemption.
If the goal of the "Don't Look Back" night was to provide a once in a lifetime musical opportunity, Mission of Burma succeeded.
Sebadoh - Bubble and ScrapeOut of Sebadoh's prolific output, I never got Bubble and Scrape so this set was more of an education. Actually, for the start of it, we went back to the beverage tents as did much of the audience. Sebadoh suffered for being in between the better known albums, but they did put on a great set. The main drawback to their set was that sticking to the album continuity involved switching instruments a lot more than you'd normally do in a live show.
It takes a million nation.The popular draw the the night was definitely PE. The Friday only tickets are pretty inexpensive, so the part filled up for Public Enemy; in fact, a lot of folks began staking out spots in front of PE's stage during the Sebadoh set.
It's an amazing album (though Flav can't seem to remember the name any more) and PE had the crowd rocking. They also went way over their time, playing all of It Takes a Nation Of Millions then going into what seems to be a regular PE concert. At that point, my gange of concert goers was too hungry, sweaty and tired so we grabbed the number 9 bus in search of pizza.
Overall, Friday night was worth the trip. I'm hoping today measures up. It's rainy this morning and it looks like scattered rain this afternoon.
July 17, 2008
The nasty tit for tat took place back in 1994 and the subject at hand is the battle over whether or not Liz Phair, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Urge Overkill are "unique in rock music because they are brazenly trying to sell records".
July 15, 2008
Title - The Age of the Understatement
Hometown - UK
Label - Domino
Street Date - Out now
RIYL - A British Western where the cowboys wear ascots rather than bandannas and pack martini's rather than pistols.
The Hits - My Mistakes Were Made For You, I Don't Like You Anymore
Richter Magnitude Rating Scale - Moderate
Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and the Rascals' Miles Kane + Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford on production and drums + Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy fame arranging strings + the 22-piece London Metropolitan Orchestra = The Age of the Understatement
It is insulting when every lazy music journalist follows the bouncing ball of a band’s press kit. The false hype swears that The Last of the Shadow Puppets is a terrific take on Lee Hazlewood and Scott Walker. I am here to tell you that this comparison is an insult to both of these iconic songwriters / voices. I suspect that most of the writer's using that limp parallel don't actually own records by either artists but probably have the Arctic Monkey's record leading off their lame home collection of CDs. Just because a band says they listen to Bowie or Bond records doesn’t make them the next coming of anything. Let’s focus on the music on The Age of the Understatement and how this won’t last the test of time like the artists they are trying to align themselves with.
#1 – Lee and Scott are LEGENDS. You can’t beat their clever lyrical content no less their voices that are so unique to themselves that you could recognize either in the time it takes to blink. The Last of the Shadow Puppets don’t come up to the knees of that kind of talent.
#2 – An orchestra doesn’t make your songs better or more poignant. It just makes your weak kitchy songs sound bigger - not majestic or cinematic as some will try to convince you of.
#3 If there wasn’t a Arctic Monkey’s connection I am rather certain reviews would not be as kind nor would the press take this record under their wing at all.
#4 Pitchfork says : “vivid 1960s symphonic-pop pastiche” NME says:” tongue-in-cheek pastiche of late-’60s orchestral lounge pop zips” Hmmm…a nice example of how all the reviews must have been written by people on a conference call with each other to agree on how this record should be approached. Come on people, your readers deserve a more personalized review of the music.
#5 There isn’t anything less interesting that a singer who approaches a vocal melody as if it was a tennis game. There is a core note which is then slid up or down into a new note and back we go again to the core note. It is a yo-yo trick worthy of a yawn.
#6 A photo of an artist looking like the artist he or she is trying to emulate does not make them as good as the artist either. (See Scott Walker like centerfold in The Age of booklet)
What we have here is a band playing dress up in a style that is borrowed heavily rather than owned. The opening track starts of with a gallop and off we go barebacked across the dusty plains yelling Rawhide to the wind with an orchestra as our posse. Somewhere along this journey we get lost among the cacti and Indians only to die of boredom in a ghost town.
In 1984 Terry Hall of The Specials and Fun Boy Three formed a band with two members of the Swinging Cats and took a stab at pseudo-Spanish 60’s influenced pop songs highlighted by a bit of orchestration. The Colorfield, even though their sound was wrapped in retro, managed to write songs that stood out on their own. The lyrics strayed the listener away from tagging them as just another fun 80’s UK rock-lite band and took them down a pessimistic path; middle finger extended to their contagious, more hooks than a tackle box, acoustic guitar backbone.
Paul Weller of the Jam tried to take his post Jam band Style Council in a semi-similar direction but belly flopped with all its bloated over indulgent R&B / Jazz flavor . The Colourfield's best record Virgins and Philistines which was released on Chrysalis in 1985 is a lost classic and is your best bet if you are seeking a record to take you in a time machine to the a timeless era where drinks were shaken, not stirred.
July 13, 2008
Title - Sunshine Girl: The Complete Recordings
Hometown - The golden state
Label - Cherry Red / Now Sounds
Street Date - Out now
RIYL - Sunshine Pop, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, The Roger Nichols Trio, Small Circle of Friends, Phil Spector, The Rockford Files, Planet of the Apes. The Left Banke, Bubble Gum Beatles
The Hits - Sunshine Girl, Kinda Wasted Without You, Hallelujah Rocket, She's got the Magic, Love is the People's Choice,
Richter Magnitude Rating Scale - Moderate
The planets need to be aligned just so for an early in the AM walk to be considered nearly perfect. In this case it is a sunny cool Sunday summer morning in the Fan, the part of Richmond I live in. College kids are gone for the summer, much of the rest of the neighborhood is in church, and what's left behind is an incredibly peaceful time to take a stroll. The few who are out and about in their gardens, reading papers on the porch, and taking a morning jog are friendly bunch. I can't begin to count the number of GOOD MORNING EXCLAMATION POINT, HELLO EXCLAMATION POINT, or toothy grins I get. It is a Leave it to Beaver kind of way to start the day and I can't picture a more appropriate way to end the morning than to come home and play The Parade. They were a trio of songwriters from California who during the mid to late 60's helped to define the Sunshine Pop genre.
Murray Macleod, Jerry Riopelle, and Smokey Roberds were not a band and they didn't perform live. They were strictly interested in writing and recording feel good hits for A&M Records. Murray was a member of both the Roger Nichols Trio and Small Circle of Friends and went on to act in several popular TV shows of the day like Gidget and the Munsters (he had a three year contract with Universal). Jerry was a staff producer for Phil Spector as well as a session keyboard player, and Smokey was another actor (Planet of the Apes/The Proud and the Damned) who was also a disc jockey, running a publishing company, and was a songwriting on top of everything else.
Smokey and Murray brought in a song to Phil Spector's studio where Jerry was working at the time and the three of them clicked. "Sunshine Girl" was recorded in 1967 and this demo earned the trio a record deal for A&M. This instant hit peaked at #20 on the Billboard charts but their 4 other singles never charted which in turn caused The Parades' first and only full length record to be "shelfed indefinitely".
Sunshine Girl: The Complete Recordings compiles the group's entire recording career, including the lost full length recording. While the collection has plenty of duds, any fan of the genre of Sunshine Pop probably knows this group already for their singles and will embrace the opportunity to have all of the collectible recordings with great liner notes and pictures in one place.
July 10, 2008
Recently my company gave me a year subscription to both Napster as well as Rhapsody and I now have the opportunity to listen to all these records I would never actually bother to buy but am happy to finally give them a listen. The hope here was that I would find at least a few gems among the hot, happening and chart topping popular.
Here are the records I have recently listened to:
Coldplay - Viva la Vida
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
Fleet Foxes - S/T
Al Green - Lay it Down
Aimee Mann - Smilers
Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles
N.E.R.D. - Seeing Sounds
Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony
Black Keys - Attack and Release
Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
Raconteurs - Consolor of the Lonely
Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Jamie Lidell - Jim
R.E.M. - Accelerate
Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum
Earlimart - Hymn and Her
Foals - Antidotes
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
And here are the number of records I will ever listen to again / was able to sit through in one sitting / would be willing to purchase:
One - Sigur Ros...for the opening two tracks alone; Gobbledigook / Inni mer syngur vitleysingur.
Maybe I am having a bad month or my ears are being particularly picky. I won't say I hated everything because that isn't the case but if honesty is the game here, I wouldn't go back to one of these records on my own. I truly don't appreciate My Morning Jacket at all. I can't understand their popularity and they push all the wrong buttons for me. If I was on a first date with the record I would have excused myself for a trip to the bathroom and booked out the kitchen for good instead.
The records I thought were better than the rest : Wolf Parade, R.E.M., Black Keys
July 9, 2008
July 8, 2008
The line up for the Bike Plot show was Parasytic (missed them which is a drag because Erik Larson...first drummer of Avail and now member of Alabama Thunderpussy opened) Clouds (Hydra Head band) and Torche. Torche, the band who has made my favorite live band of the past years and whose newest record Meanderthal will make my top 10 for the year.
Here are some picture - Because I am small I had a hard time taking any decent pictures but thanks to Andy of Robotic Empire and his lady who were standing up high, they were able to snap me a few pictures.
The first two images are Clouds, as you can see by the tires in the background, this really is a bike lot.
If you want to see any of the pictures all blown up, just click on any of them.
Here is Torche and as you can imagine by the number of amps they play through, LOUD doesn't do the volume justice.
Here is the drummer from Clouds joining Torche.
July 7, 2008
If ACDC is topping the charts in Australia as one of the most popular songs played at people's funeral, what song would I want to go out to in a blaze of glory? Blaze because I am all about cremation. I don't really want a funeral, I would much prefer a party with music and food for friends to celebrate me / my life / life in general but if I had to pick one song it would be Della Reese doing a version of "It was a very Good Year". You can hear it here. www.myspace.com/lightningsgirlblog
I would love to hear what songs other people would want played at their funeral. Please post them in the comments section.
PS: My plan B song would Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?". Plan C - Lee Hazlewood "We All Make the Flowers Grow". This might turn into a grim muxtape at this rate.
July 3, 2008
The new Peter Beste book is out via Vice and the deluxe edition is pretty spectacular. Limited to 666 (I mean what other number could it be limited to really?)
Taken from Peter's site:
"True Norwegian Black MetalTNBM includes 126 Norwegian Black Metal Photographs by Peter Beste;Introduction by Metalion of Slayer Magazine; Essays by Editor Johan Kugelberg and Peter Beste; 3 Panel foldout black metal time line by Tara G Warrior; 32 page section of old black metal ephemera including rare and obscure photographs, flyers, letters, and interviews. "
The deluxe version also includes hand numbered silkscreened slipcase, a silkscreened poster, and a signed print. $200.00. You can order it by hitting the link above. You know you want it. And my birthday is a mere 4 and 1/2 months away so if you don't know what to get me...hint hint.