Friday, November 29, 2013

Magic Trick, C. Spencer Yeh and Snowbird

First the obligatory post-Thanksgiving thanks for having a roof over my head, a nice family, reasonable health and really excellent food at, as an added bonus, $600 to pay the first heating oil bill of the year!


Now, onto what I've been listening to lately, in the free-ranging, nearly-assignment-less interval of December, when I slap on whatever people send me...

Magic Trick, River of Souls (Empty Cellar) Kind of a headphones record, though I can't figure out why. It is not especially complicated or overstuffed or even hard to parse -- in fact, it is exceptionally, almost surreally clear sonically. But the fact remains that I listened to this once in the kitchen on speakers and thought it was dull, then twice on a run with earphones and thought it was remarkable.

What do you think?

C. Spencer Yeh / Okkyung Lee / Lasse Marhaug, Wake Up Awesome (Mexican Summer) Extended technique (i.e. banging, squeaking, scratching and, in general, playing your instrument in ways that would drive your orchestra teacher batty) and electronics make this an odd, twitchy, discontinuous listen...and weirdly, the breaks from abrasion make it all the more difficult to get situated. There's a hovering, half-focused loveliness buried in scratch and hiss on "Ophelia Gimme Shelter," a baroque throb of cello(?) in "Mission: Nothing" and even some kind of German music-box-y sentimental song in "Anise Tongue and Durian Wet Dream" in jarring conflict with the harsher elements of this album. Actually the soft pretty bits are just as jarring and the noisy ones. It's the constant back and forth that unsettles. Like when you're in Paris with your English-speaking friends and you'd be picking up a lot more French if you weren't always switching between languages. But it's interesting, and if you listen to it a few times (like three or more) it starts to make sense as a whole.

Snowbird, Moon (Bella Union) This is Simon Raymonde from the Cocteau Twins and Stephanie Dosen and it's very pretty, maybe too pretty, too soft? IDK. Guest shots from members of Radiohead, Midlake and Lanterns on the Lake, lots of gauzy, dreamy textures, but no spine, do you know what I mean?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

No thanks to Weekender

Weird, I was going to post about Weekender, a Philly-based neu-gaze outfit whose Spanish Peaks came out on Paper Cup Records about a week ago. It's a pretty great little EP, shades of J&MC, a bit of the softer, hazier 1990s overdrive (i.e. more Slowdive than MBV). But apparently the band has taken down all of its videos and soundcloud you'll have to take my word for it, or, more likely forget about it. Does a video with 318 likes really need piracy protection? IDK, seems silly.

Okay correction, there is a soundcloud:

Thanks to Derek Sheehan for the link.

The other thing that I have been listening to and liking this week is a four-song EP from Synkro, a Manchester-based, dubstep type whose real name is Joe McBride. The Lost Here is full of wavery, water-y tone and skipping reminds me a lot of Burial's great Untrue in that it inserts a great deal of soul, emotion and humanity into a cerebral artform. That's partly down to Robert Manos who sings on the title track and also "In My Arms."

We are going for Thanksgiving dinner to a friends' house in town, who still have their teenage son and also a couple of other young men, maybe exchange students, in the house for the meal. I am not sure whether this will make me happier or sadder. (I have been a little sad, lately.) Anyway, all I have to cook is scalloped potatoes, which I did yesterday and they turned out beautiful, so I'm going for a little run now. It's very cold, sunny and a crust of snow on the ground, pretty much ideal over-the-river-and-through-the-woods weather.

Hope everyone is safe and warm and surrounded by loved ones. 16 days until Sean comes home.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Entrance Band is back

The Entrance Band, that sepulchral electric blues outfit led by Guy Blakeslee, put out another album this week, the sublimely dirge-like, mandala-spinning guitar-psychedelic Face the Sun from whence comes this disturbing video.

I like it a lot, especially the sprawling, vaguely Middle Eastern flavored "Fine Flow" which sounds like Richard Bishop and the Doors in some sort of unholy mashup.

I reviewed the Entrance Band's Prayer for Death a sort-of-astonishing seven years ago, saying:

To the hallowed triad of sex, drugs and rock and roll, we should maybe add a fourth: death. Like the other three, death has certainly been a source of innumerable song lyrics and the intoxicant of choice for mystics, bluesmen, rockers, folk singers and assorted other scruffy geniuses. It's certainly Guy Blakeslee's drug this time out. Prayer of Death, as its title implies, doesn't just face the great inevitable, it embraces it, celebrates it, psychedelicizes it, becomes giddy on its poison fumes. "I want to die without no fear / I want to die rejoicing," he sings on the title track, perhaps the most gospel and straightforward blues number here, and he's not kidding. He really is happy about the whole idea.

You can read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lovers ...who says electropop has to be chilly?

I've got a review of the all-woman Portland band, Lovers, up today at Blurt.

LOVERS – A Friend in the World


Like a handmade Hello Kitty lunchbox, Lovers, out of Portland, splices pop ephemera with DIY freshness and honesty. A Friend In the World’s perky synthetic keyboards and dance rhythms conjure princess pink diva-pop, but singer Carolyn Berk weaves knowing cock-eyed melancholy through it all. It’s like Mirah’s peppiest dance party ever, like cold wave synth revival warmed to bath temperature. Someone never told the women of Lovers – Berk, Emily Kingan and Kerby Ferris – that electropop had to be chilly and inhumane. Their version breathes and sighs and confides, even as it urges the girls to dance.


Monday, November 25, 2013


I've been pretty vocal about Waxahatchee's Cerulean Salt ranking high in my top ten (it's #2 behind Nick Cave at the moment), but how about the other Crutchfield sister, Allison, whose band Swearin' put out a pretty fine blues-rocking album called Surfin' Strange a week or two ago on Wichita. It reminds me of the Moaners, which I know, is probably no help to anyone, but here try this...It's blistered, dissonance-altered guitar sweetened by longing, softened by understanding. It's what you hear at one a.m. from the radio, the crackle of static popping like acid as it eats through melody, leaving holes that just reinforce what you've lost. Yeah, like I said...reminds me of the Moaners.

Or you could just listen for yourself, eh?

Oh and how about that Waxahatchee? I just spent 45 minutes on ILX looking at year-end and it seems that I'll be alone again on this one (but not the Cave).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Eiko Ishibashi

Eiko Ishibashi is multitalented -- a well-regarded drummer (There are a number of really interesting female Japanese drummers, aren't there? Wonder why?), pianist, singer and composer. Her album Imitation of Life came out last year in Japan. I'm guessing that the fact that Jim O'Rourke plays on it got her a hearing at Drag City, which is now releasing it in Japan.

The album reminds me a lot of Petra Haden and Yuko Honda's If By Yes project, which is to say, proggily complex, intricately arranged, and yet oddly welcoming and soft. Imitation of Life pits pillowy soft vocals against spikily difficult arrangements of piano, drums and strings, so that you feel like you're in a sort of pop song where the floor is always shifting and the mirror-walled contours are showing you bits and pieces of things that might be you, yourself, or might be infinity.

Anyway, it's interesting. Have a listen.

We had our first snow last night, just a dusting really, though we caught a pretty dense squall on the way back from Northampton. Sean is safely arrived in Indianapolis, where it sounds like it will be non-stop fun stuff with his aunt and uncle. I had a pretty good week last week -- got paid from three different clients and have since paid all my outstanding bills and maybe able to spend a little on Christmas. I also think, though I'm not sure, that I've picked up a new client who, if I do everything right, could be pretty substantial. Also we continue to muddle through with Dusted. A few of us are trying to set up a Tumblr, Dusted in Exile, to publish the backlog of reviews and see where it goes from there.

So that's pretty much it, except that last week, I had this weird dream that I had written a musical and I remember nothing about it, except that John Boehner was a character and his show-stopping tune was called "The King of No." Pretty silly.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fela covers and Dylan-ish rasp

I've got a couple of reviews up today at Blurt, one of the Fela Kuti-honoring Red Hot & Fela which I found mostly kind of tepid with a couple of really good songs. I wrote, "despite the abundance of good intention, Red Hot & Fela is only intermittently compelling. Listen to any of these cuts against the originals, and they sound chilled, glossed, smoothed and, especially, much abbreviated." There's more here.

Here's video of a concert at Lincoln Center which featured the disc's music...

There's also a new review of Ezra Furman's second Harpoon-less endeavor, The Day of the Dog, which I quite liked. I wrote: "Ezra Furman turns existential angst into roadhouse bravado on this second solo LP, framing burnt black lyrics with vamping sax, rollicking piano and double-time romps. Furman may be “broken, wide-open, bleeding everywhere” (per “The Mall”), but he’s still thrashing around in protest. The protest, in this case, takes the form of rousing, blustery, forget-yourself-in-rock-and-roll arrangements that recall everyone from electric Dylan to classic gospel to Bo Diddley (“At the Bottom of the Ocean”)." There's a bunch more here.

We finally hit Season 3 of The Good Wife last night, which I am enjoying immensely, especially Archie Panjabi and Alan Cumming, but also that the show has guest cameos from so many great theater actors, not to mention a running gig for Julliard-educated Christine Baranski. I'm a little worried about the two-main-characters-finally-having-sex thing, which has ruined so many good shows...I don't want to know anything about what happens, but does it suck from here or not?

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Hey, this is kind of cool, a two-disc compilation of electronic music whose proceeds benefit Dalit (untouchable) children in Southern India. Lots of good people on the comp -- Deerhoof, Califone, White Hinterland, Four Tet, Doseone -- and they all incorporate vocal samples from the Light of Love Children's Choir, which is comprised of kids who might theoretically benefit if you were to plunk down for this thing. I am personally really loving the way that the kids' voices thread through so many different kinds of material. The exact same little melody floats through Deerhoof's whimsied geometries and Califone's weathered junkyard folk, but it sounds completely different.

Here's the Four Tet song.

BOATS is out in January on Transgressive North

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Zachary Cale

My interview with Zachary Cale runs today at PopMatters. I thought it turned out pretty well.

So after a really long dry period, I got two pretty substantial checks yesterday, enough to pay all the bills and live on for a little bit. We might go down to Springfield and get a case of wine for the holidays on Saturday -- nothing very grand, but it's always fun.

Also Sean has a slot to audition for the Texas Shakespeare Festival, which, good news, has an intern program for college students so he's not competing against seasoned actors. it's a lot better known than Arkansas, though, so will probably be a pretty tough get in any case. I do think that more good things happen to people who try harder, though, so best of luck to him and hope that something breaks for him.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Too free-rangingly ruminative to ever play out on a public stage

Love this album, and rather like the way the review turned out...up today at Blurt online and also in the soon-to-hit-your-newsstand print issue.

MICK TURNER – Don’t Tell the Driver

Drag City


Don’t Tell the Driver is not an opera, whatever Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner might tell you. This languid, introspective, loosely drawn series of musical mood pieces is too diffuse and glancing, for one thing, insinuating but never quite laying out a story line of remembered love and idealized connection. For another, there’s not that much singing, just a couple of impossibly tender, breathy, vocal caresses from Caroline Kennedy-McCracken (she of the Plums, Deadstar and The Tupils), and one rather stunning performance Oliver Mann (who is, as it happens, an actual opera singer).

And lastly, Don’t Tell the Driver is far too gorgeously personal, too hushed, too subtle, too free-rangingly ruminative to ever play out on a public stage. Instead its chaotic swirls, its muted flares of brass, its clackety storms and ebbs of drumming (three percussionists, Kishore Ryan, James Wegener from Laughing Clowns and Ian Wadley all sound remarkably like the D3’s Jim White) seem destined to play out in private theaters—ours and Turner’s. In the dreamlike space this album inhabits, we, too, recall liaisons so immediate and overwhelming that a line like “Sometimes lover I can’t tell where your hair ends and the rest of the world begins” is not poetry but a literal description of the way things are.

DOWNLOAD: all of it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Found long-lost Gary Higgin a pile under the desk

This record Red Hash was lost for, oh, maybe 30 years...a whispered-about folk classic recorded just before Gary Higgins was hauled off to jail. Ben Chasny dug up the songwriter (and the music, subsequently released on Chasny's label Drag City) and now Higgins sometimes even plays live (I saw him at SXSW once, and gotta say, if he takes that long to tune, it's no wonder he's only cut three albums in 40 years). So yeah, I didn't lose the album for that long. It's probably only been on my floor for 3-4 years, but it's good to have it back.

In other good news, I figured out Skype (I'm not expecting a prize for over-50 use of technology or anything, just saying), and had a video chat with my son last weekend, an unexpected joy. The big storms had just cleared over Chicago, and Sean had, being my son, just gotten back from a run through the apocalypse (and almost, per facebook, got himself blown off Navy Pier). The other cool thing (besides going for a jog through the tornado watch) that my son did this weekend was try out for the Arkansas Shakespeare Festival. He did something from Romeo and Juliet and his Trinculo monologue ("man or fish") from the Tempest and sang something by Scott Allen. It was for the regular company, not an internship, so it would be surprising if anything came of it, but how great that he tried. I should mention, maybe, that he did not get an audition slot when he applied, but went anyway on Saturday to see if they had walk-ins and they did. That kind of thing will pay off someday I think, and I am prouder of his grit than his talent (and, as you probably can surmise, I am plenty proud of his talent).

So onward and upward. Maybe I'll get paid for something this week.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shade Perennial
Bottomless Pit
Comedy Minus One


“Rolling along like a middle child, happy as we had been in a while, forgot about you, myself too,” sings Tim Midyett in “Null Set,” sounding calm and centered in the space carved out for him. He sings in the midst of crashing guitar chords, blister-y bass, monstrous drum beats and firewalls of feedback, a typical maelstrom for this band formed in the wake of Silkworm drummer Michael Dalquist’s tragic death. This third full-length allows no let-up in the bludgeoning dissonance, the melancholic aggression that has characterized Bottomless Pit from the beginning, and yet it also has an edge of triumph to it, a brutal clarity that celebrates as much as it mourns.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Clara Hill's Walk the Distance

Really beautiful new album from Berlin's Clara Hill...pitched somewhere between Schneider TM (who plays guitar on one track) and My Bloody Valentine. (Which is to say, it's electronically based, but has some very interesting wall-of-sound elements.)

This is maybe the most acoustic and song-like of the album's tracks, with the most overt vocals

This one's a bit rowdier and shoe-gazier. (Erg, shoe-gazier!)

If you're looking for more about Clara Hill, the Quietus -- fast becoming my favorite source for background on emerging artists -- just published a long interview.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Scary rabbit...the Nobunny conundrum

Nobunny the recording artist makes some of the music world's catchiest bubblegum garage, his albums, including the latest Secret Songs, a nonstop 1960s sock hop with nary a five o'clock shadow's worth of ambiguity or the most passing glimpse of hell. Nobunny, the performer, is truly disturbing, however, clad in a pants-less get-up with bondage gear and the world's dirtiest bunny mask.

So who is this guy, dissolute furry or uncomplicated party rocker? Both, neither. Just check the album out. It's a good one. (Out on Goner now.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sumie...softly devastating

A fragile, lovely collection of songs that might, a few years ago, have been described as freak folk, just guitar and a simple, ice-pure female voice. Sumie is the sister of the singer from Little Dragon, which, perhaps, will mean more to you than it does to me. She started singing and writing and recording songs after having two children, so she's stubborn and focused if nothing else. There's no sense of strain or chaos in this album,'s clear all the way through like water and beautiful. Check it out.

Her self-titled debut is out December 2nd on Bella Union

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jazz, lounge, dub...and a guest shot by Bad Brains' H.R.

I've been listening to the hard-to-classify Chaliwa from John Zorn protege Jamie Saft's New Zion Trio a good big lately, and just noticed that the singer on "Chant It Down" is H.R. from Bad Brains.

That's a surprise, because, for the most part, Chaliwa is wonderfully reticent and insinuating, an acoustic simmer of piano, stand-up bass and drums. The album lives in jazz but visits reggae -- you hear the dub influence mostly in a slinky backbeat.

Anyway, it's a really good album but fantastically hard (at least for me) to write about. Let's leave it to Sean Murphy at PopMatters, who wrote:

"An ostensibly straightforward ensemble, featuring [Jamie] Saft’s keyboards, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Craig Santiago, the trio manages to pull off a variety of sounds, ranging from narcotic lounge music (in a good way) to traditional piano jazz (think Bill Evans by way of Kingston) and darker-than-dread reggae meditations. On Chaliwa, the players double down on the dub, and the results are every bit as satisfying this time out."

You can read the whole review, including a good bit about Saft's other project Slobber Pup, here.

The album is out now on Veal Records.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Blind Joe Death

When I cleaned up my office last week, I found a bunch of pre-iTunes albums in a pile on the floor, which I had probably intended to rip at one point and never got to...really good stuff, it is finally in my hard drive (and also refiled upstairs in the "permanent collection"). The best of the three is John Fahey's The Legend of Blind Joe Death. It's his first album, a double recorded in 1959, when folk revival mostly centered on field recordings of elderly blues players. Fahey, then, recorded Blind Joe Death incognito in the person of an imaginary old-time blues-man. One side of the album was credited to "Blind Joe Death", the other styled as Fahey's covers of this hypothetical musician. Many of the songs are traditional -- there's a wonderful cover of "in Christ There Is No East or West", a couple of versions of "St. Louis Blues" etc. -- but Fahey hints at the whole open-ended folk-raga-blues of the 1960s and 1970s in his epic "The Transcendental Waterfall." None of the latter day pickers -- from Jack Rose to Glenn Jones to Daniel Bachman and William Tyler-- would be playing the way they do (or did in Rose's case) without this record.

Anyway, good to have it back. Apparently there's a Fahey documentary called In Search of Blind Joe Death that will be airing next month on the BBC. Looks pretty interesting.

Here's that "In Christ There Is No East or West"...just radiantly simple and beautiful, don't you think?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ghana ingests funk and soul, inspires Fela

So, just to follow up on what has become my all-time most clicked blog post, I recently wrote a full review of Afrobeat Airwaves 2: REturn Flight to Ghana, the Analog Africa compilation of 1960s and 1970s Ghanaian funk-soul-highlife music. I close with the observation:

This is a wonderful survey of a fascinating era when Ghanaian highlife opened up to incorporate a wide range of new influences, funk, soul, reggae, the desert blues of Nigeria. Later, the liner notes say, Ghanaian bands began using more electronics and synthesizers, a development that subtracted and watered down the music, rather than adding to it. But here, pan-global curiosity pays off in complex celebrations of syncopated groove, as raw as they are brave, as emotionally resonant as they are adventurous.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Body...astonishingly volatile, obliterating

My review of art-punk-metal-chorale, The Body, ran yesterday at Blurt.

"The Body, out of Providence, fuses three varieties of heavy music – noise punk, metal and classical choral arrangements – into an astonishingly volatile, obliterating mix. The two principals Body parts — Chip King and Lee Burford – supply the first two elements. They are a guitar and drums duo, not as fast as their neighbors in Lightning Bolt, nor as light-footedly playful, but possessed of the same sparking, smoking intensity. King is, among other things, a superlative screamer, shrieking a trebly, half-human overlay to the disc’s most exhilarating onslaughts. Yet in between these bursts of white-noise, blur-speed, shriek fests, the Body turns slow, heavy, metallically weighted, as drum beats slow to dirgeful marches and guitar notes splinter into blatting firestorms of feedback and dissonance. “Bearer of Bad Tidings” shifts from antic, frantic speed punk to monstrously distorted heaviness. For a bit more than a minute, the Body threatens to blow itself up into a million shimmering, shattering particles, then it pulls up, blaring single blistered tones across slow measures, landing so hard on the ones that the floor shudders underneath."

Actually, no sorry, this is the one I wanted.

In other news, I am recovering from food poisoning, spent all night Tuesday throwing up, all of yesterday asleep and feverish, feel okay today, but haven't eaten in a couple of days. Also it's my birthday, yay for me. Bill got me a couple of really interesting books and a new hoodie for running. Sean sent me a nice note on Facebook. Mom and dad and my brother Edward called.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elephant 6 is everywhere

The late, great, sprawling psych movement known as Elephant Six may have made its biggest splash in the mid-1990s, but its imprint is everywhere the day-glo garage scene of the Bay Area (see Sonny Smith's great new comp I Need You, which I am not supposed to talk about until after Thanksgiving), in the still unwinding, long-awaited tour of Neutral Milk Hotel, in the surviving, still working bands like Elf Power and in one other called Rickolus, whose Troubadour: Roads is giving me a serious, very welcome whiff of In an Aeroplane Over the Sea. Let's take them one at a time.

Polyvinyl has very particularly asked reviewers not to cover I Need You Bad for a couple of weeks, but it's pretty great...with tracks from Sonny himself, Magic Trick (that's Tim Cohen from Fresh & Onlys), and Warm Soda (who had a really wonderful, way-under-appreciated LP out on Castleface last spring, and, god knows I tried, but no one would let me cover it). The very best track, to my ears, is "Dreams" by Jessica Pratt, which is not available (yet?) on soundcloud or youtube, but here she is singing "Hollywood" from her debut album, which will maybe give you an idea.

And, oh, Neutral Milk Hotel, for a decade, Jeff Magnum wouldn't tour, now you can't stop him with a stick. Here are dates through February 2014:

November 12, 2013

w/ M. Ward, and Superchunk
The Tivoli
Brisbane, Australia
tickets >
November 14, 2013

w/ M. Ward, and Superchunk
Enmore Theatre
Sydney, Australia
tickets >
November 15, 2013

w/ Superchunk, and M. Ward
The Forum
Melbourne, Australia
November 16, 2013

w/ Superchunk, and M. Ward
The Forum
Melbourne, Australia
tickets >
November 20, 2013

Dunedin, New Zealand
On Sale at Cosmic
tickets >
November 22, 2013

Wellington, New Zealand
James Cabaret
On Sale at RPM and Slowboat
tickets >
November 23, 2013

Auckland, New Zealand
The Kings Arms Tavern
On Sale at Real Groovy
tickets >
November 24, 2013

Auckland, New Zealand
The Kings Arms Tavern
On Sale at Real Groovy
tickets >
NOVEMBER 28, 2013

Taipei, Taiwan
tickets >
NOVEMBER 30, 2013

Tokyo, Japan
Hostess Club Weekender
Yebisu Garden Hall
tickets >
January 13, 2014

Ithaca, NY
The State Theatre
On Sale October 25
January 14, 2014

Jersey City, NJ
Loew's Theatre
tickets >
JANUARY 16, 2014

Orpheum Theatre
Boston, MA
tickets >
JANUARY 17, 2014

Orpheum Theatre
Boston, MA
tickets >
JANUARY 18, 2014

Olympia de Montreal
Montreal, QC
tickets >
JANUARY 19, 2014

Kool Haus
Toronto, ON
tickets >
JANUARY 20, 2014

Kool Haus
Toronto, ON
tickets >
JANUARY 22, 2014

The Capitol Theatre
Port Chester, NY
tickets >
January 23, 2014

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
Brooklyn, NY
tickets >
JANUARY 24, 2014

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
Brooklyn, NY
tickets >
JANUARY 25, 2014

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
Brooklyn, NY
tickets >
JANUARY 27, 2014

Webster Hall
New York, NY
tickets >
JANUARY 28, 2014

Webster Hall
New York, NY
tickets >
JANUARY 29, 2014

Tower Theatre
Upper Darby, PA
tickets >
JANUARY 30, 2014

Union Transfer
Philadelphia, PA
JANUARY 31, 2014

DAR Constitution Hall
Washington, DC
tickets >
FEBRUARY 1, 2014

Cat's Cradle
Carrboro, NC

FEBRUARY 2, 2014

Cat's Cradle
Carrboro, NC
FEBRUARY 4, 2014

Ryman Auditorium
Nashville, TN
tickets >
FEBRUARY 5, 2014

The Pageant
St. Louis, MO
tickets >
FEBRUARY 6, 2014

The Riviera Theatre
Chicago, IL
tickets >
FEBRUARY 7, 2014

The Riviera Theatre
Chicago, IL
tickets >
FEBRUARY 8, 2014

Orpheum Theater
Madison, WI
tickets >
FEBRUARY 10, 2014

First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN
tickets >
FEBRUARY 11, 2014

First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN
tickets >
FEBRUARY 13, 2014

Uptown Theatre
Kansas City, MO
tickets >
FEBRUARY 14, 2014

Cain's Ballroom
Tulsa, OK
tickets >
FEBRUARY 15, 2014

Majestic Theatre
Dallas, TX
tickets >
FEBRUARY 17, 2014

ACL Live at the Moody Theater
Austin, TX
tickets >
FEBRUARY 18, 2014

ACL Live at the Moody Theater
Austin, TX
tickets >
FEBRUARY 19, 2014

Warehouse Live
Houston, TX
tickets >
FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Elf Power started just about the same time as Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control. The main differnce is that they're still going. I reviewed their latest Sunlight on the Moon a couple of days ago at Blurt. I said:

Sunlight on the Moon is Elf Power’s 12th full-length, and while it still sounds exuberantly, defiantly amateur (in the best, “for the love of it” sense), the band has clearly gotten better at what it does. These fuzz-toned, delicately arranged melodies curve in a gratifying ways around bizarrely evocative imagery. They are well-constructed, tightly knit songs that fizz with eccentricity and bubble with subconscious impulses. “Even in the dreamworld, you will not comply with my commands,” sings Andrew Rieger on the mesmeric “Strange Designs”, and you do get a sense of dreams that permeate the music, infiltrate it, co-opt it, and refuse to cede to the real world.

And finally, for those who really long for MORE Neutral Milk Hotel, or at least something that sounds like it. time to check out Rickolus. The album's called Troubador: Roads...and I like it a lot.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Golden Bicycles

How about another sad case of unacknowledged excellence?

I give you Johnny Bertram and his Golden Bicycles...even I, a fan after the debut, let this one sit on my desk for a year and a half. Neon City is as good as anything the Moondoggies have ever done and a hundred miles ahead of all the other country-tinged Neil Young-loving rock bands. (I am not saying he's as good as Neil Young, just better than the wannabes.)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Damian Jurado should really write the next Bond theme

One of my lost causes (Kelley Stoltz, Mike Uva, Graves Brothers....), the guys that really ought to be much better known than they are, is Damian Jurado...he's been on a spooky, atmospheric roll since St. Bartlett and it seems likely to continue with Brothers And Sisters of the Eternal Son. I have to say that with both St. Bartlett and Maraqopa his songs took a little time to catch on, but this one is grabbing me right out of the box. The lead-off track is called "Magic Number" and it's got this wonderful, slinky, decadent Goldfinger-ish aura that is both completely out of character for DJ, but also completely right. It's not out until January, and I will most likely to be writing about it in more detail, but for now, check this out...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Yo Baby Yo...a brief meditation on Chicago house music

My review of Kill Yourself Dancing: The Story of Sunset Records 1985-1989 runs today at Blurt...I opine, "It’s a mystery how music this physical, this raw and this primal could emerge out of a rig of synthesizers, but for a brief period in the late 1980s in Chicago, it certainly did."

The full review (which is kind of dry and expository, honestly) runs here.