Thursday, July 28, 2005

I know for certain everything aint right


Janette Beckman

My mind, ready to go, it's time/ I gotta gotta know, where I'm going in L-I-F-E/ A constant headache for Charlie B/ But I take an asprin and sleep/ For a bit, then I dream about making more hits/ Wake up, it's not funny / The rent is due and I don't got the money/ The landlord says "Get out"/ Sorry to hear that, no doubt/ I WORK for a jerk that can't understand/ Pride and soul cause I'm a man/ Minimum wage in the age of the future/ Move too slow, damn, it might shoot ya/ Make fools out of me and you/ I sit relax and just continue/ To (to) think (think) that there is/ Just too much on my mind

Where did July go? Anyone know? If you find it, well, I want it back. Damn! Ok ok, i'm going to pipe down; i'm all about keeping things positive today. Honest. Things are starting to get a lot colder, and i'm not just talking about the weather. So then, something positive. I don't think things get much more positive that The Leaders of the New School. NY, rappers MC Charlie Brown, MC Dinco D, MC Busta Rhymes, and Cut Monitor Milo dropped their now seminal album, A Future Without a Past for Elektra back in 1991. While certainly in the vain of their contemporaries (Souls of Mischief, Main Source, A Tribe Called Quest) these guys still struggle to get the recognition. That's not to underestimate their importance though. They were barely out of school when they dropped this album when back when. And while this record might not have the same charm as say, Zevlove and DJ Sub-Roc delivered with "Mr Hood," it's equally as lighthearted and optimistic. Crucially though, The Leaders of the New School are also not a afraid to get serious, and keep the skits to a bare minimum. Kanye West. Yeah, you: Take notes. Anyway, this album is crammed full of choice samples, jazz infused beats and 'who's who' host of guest MC's. Get on this NOW and stuff.

BLASTIN THAT MIC, COLD ROCKIN' THE SCENE! (Also, check out the James Bond sample)

Leaders of the New School - Sound Of The Zeekers @#^**?!.

[BUY THE ALBUM HERE]

Oh yeah, the weekend starts here:

Bullet Union (London)
Bullet Union have toured throughout Europe and the UK with the likes of the Blood Brothers and Q and not U…expect stripped down infectious rock n’ roll punk in the vein of Hot Snakes, Drive like Jehu and Rites of spring. http://www.bulletunion.co.uk.

This Aint Vegas (Sunderland)
Coming from the same thriving DIY Post-Punk scene of Sunderland which gave birth to The Futureheads, This ain’t Vegas add a darker spin on that post-punk style with a sound which draws immediate comparisons to Joy Division and Gang of Four. http://www.thisaintvegas.co.uk and mp3’s at http://www.myspace.com/thisaintvegas

Twinkie (Derby)
Lo-fi indie-rock which is full of hooks, think the cool of The Pixies, the spikiness of Fugazi and Huggy Bear with the guitars turned up to 11..

Friday July 29th @ Green's Mill Old School Hall, Sneinton, Nottingham
£4/5 on the door
8pm start
BYOB

It's not one of their promotions, but go to Damn You! if you want to read more.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Every Midnight Song



All the time you felt so free / Did you forget how much you once loved me /And if you want something back /All the things that got cracked /When i felt like you lied to me


If you didn't already know, Portland based singer-songwriter Mirah (full name Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn) produced one of the most understated and beautiful records of last year in C'mon Miracle. I was lucky enough to catch her in Nottingham last month; a night which also coincided as the last night on that tour. Support came from Milky Wimpshake and Lardpony, who were similarly brilliant; but Mirah, well, to think that I nearly almost didn't even go. If I remember rightly, it was a Sunday night - not disimilar to how today is going actually - and I had to be at work the next day: you know, all the lame excuses that you always give yourself? Yeah, I had them all to hand. Luckily for me, I went; and it's the reason why I'm writing this. I hadn't heard of any of her stuff before that night. I'd been told I had to go, sure, but I wasn't really sure why. Actually, that's not completely true. I did have some context: I knew that she had some involvement in The Microphones, that she is on K Records , and that her new album was produced by Phil Elvrum. [I would later learn that she's been putting out records and performing since 1996 and that C'mon Miraclerepresents her fourth album - recorded in two studio sessions]

Once Mirah took to the stage that's all that really mattered. You see, once she starts to sing, you're utterly transfixed on her. I certainly don't remember anything else. You know how it is sometimes at a show: You look around to gauge what the crowd reaction is... I can't explain it really, but you're either in disbelief or you're not sure at what your seeing. You're just not sure, and you want somehow to confirm these deepest suspicians. I know those moments well; but it didn't happen on this night. I don't think I was even physically able to look at anything else. I just watched. I witnessed her pour her heart out on stage. On this occasion, Mirah was largely blessed with the luxury of her band; steeped in strings, guitars, xylophones, drums, and accordian and a host of other instruments. But the best moments, the moments which I think captured her best, where when she played unaided. Just Mirah: her body hunched over the microphone, eyes tightly shut, her voice, and the microphone.

If the following song persuades anyone to delve into her back catologue then great. C'mon Miracle strikes with an almost impossible balance of fuzzy rockers, and plaintive tear jerkers; but more than that, if she plays anywhere near you, just go! You won't regret it.

Mirah - Don't Die On Me

[BUY THE ALBUM HERE]

Oh, and before you go: There is an interview with Sam Jayne (Love As Laughter) right here. I was reading it earlier and thought it might appeal to a few people. I've got to admit that I wasn't totally enamoured with Laughter's Fifth, but that records has definitely won me over recently. I suppose I wanted them to record another Sea to Shining Sea, but I don't know why - all of their records are completely different to each other. Anyway, check out the new album is what i'm saying.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Spikes to you



Berthold Auerbach once said that music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life, and while this is especially true of Part Chimp, the more common side effects in this instance can include hallucinations, and mild nausea. (It doesn't say that in the album linear notes, but you have to wonder if they considered including a health warning to this effect). These guys are ultra-crude, genre-bending crusaders of old testament days. The music they create is a thick viscous frothy mess of bass heavy drones, smashing drums, mind-bending feedback, and plain fuzzed out angst rock. An orchestrated display of virtouso guitar crushing maddess; the non-stop freakout of Evol era Sonic Youth turned up loud loud LOUD and..and...Well, you get the idea.

Part Chimp claim to be getting rather embarassed over the press attention that their album is receiving at the moment, but I can assure you it's well deserved - especially for the self proclaimed hardest working band in the country. The truth is they've been threatening to make an album of this scale ever since they signed to Mogwai's Rock Action Records. If you've been fortunate enough to catch them live you'll know their reputation already proceeds them, but I am Come is were they should truly be judged. Still the rowdy noise-mongers of old, they also demonstrate their musical intracies; the album is jammed full of these moments, and that's what you take away once the noise relents. They might be deserve their "sludge-rock" status, but they certainly don't revel in it; well, not completely.

The follwing track has been released as the first single off the new album, and if you like this then you'll love the album.

"I WAS BORN IN A WITCHES CAULDRON!!!"

Part Chimp - War Machine

In other news: Tickets for Hot Snakes final UK appearance (ever!) are now on sale. They're playing London's Camden Underworld on Thursday 11th August, and joined by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (I actually think it's the other way around, but who cares?). I've already bagged a couple of tickets.

Part Chimp
Rock Action Records
Buy @ Simiotic

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Live the funk



Mike Watt, dude. Which kinda sounds a bit "Like what, dude?" I squandered the chance to catch the man himself earlier this year. SO VVERY VVERY STOOPID!

Read on...

For those unfamilar with SST Records, it's time stop everything, and join the human race! Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Blag Flag, Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust, fIREHOSE, Dinosaur Jr, Bad Brains, Husker Du and a whole host of other band's formative years were spent with SST. And more than anyone they seemed happy with their reponsiblity for getting folks 'safely' though the eighties. Well, at least, that's how I see it; I can't profess to have been there at the time, and there is obviously a heck out a lot of good stuff i'm still getting introduced too, but you know what I mean... There is a frankly great write up on the history of the label right here, There is a also a interview of sorts with Joe Carducci here. Carducci comes across as a fairly jaded figure. Well, at least in the articles i've read - I haven't been able to get a copy of Rock and the Pop Narcotic, which goes for extortionate prices over on Amazon marketplace. He was SST's manager from 1981-86 though, and for that alone, he deserves our praise. I think he might write for the Arthur Magazine too, but i'm not sure.

As with most indie labels, some of bands would eventually leave the label to sign to majors (often with varying results), and a lot of other bands would struggle on underneath the radar - even disbanding and forming other projects. fIREHOSE were such a band. They were born from the ashes of Minutemen - after the 1985 death of Minutemen guitarist D. Boon in a car crash. Mike Watt and George Hurley would later be persuaded to return to making music by Minutemen fan Ed Crawford (known as Ed fROMOHIO), and the rest is history. The first album is a celebration of what the Minutemen were all about. The trio blended a seemingly chaotic mix of punk, rock, country, jazz. They were unique in every respect. fIREHOSE, while clearly indebted to the Minutemen sound (two thirds of the band, and their biggest fan will surely do that), were also a great band in their own right. Listen to the following track. You hear EVERYTHING! Mike. George and Ed sound like they've been playing together for years, and you can't deny the chemistry. Fuckin A.

fIREHOSE - Locked-In

For more Mike Watt madness, look to the Hootpage
To read the full SST Story, click here
Buy fIREHOSE @Amazon
Click here to read an early interview with the band

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Murky punk rock squawl



I've been turned onto loads of sites this weekend: Sweet Nothing, Worlds of Possiblity are particularly great, but i've got to give a massive hand to Small Bedroom for further alerting me to the genius of Nisennenmondai. I suppose you could label this Japanesse noise girl collective as 'post-punk', but i'm really at a loss as to how to describe them: maybe Tussle meets Comets on Fire and Sonic Youth on a rollercoaster ride to oblivion? I wouldn't say they were neccesarily that loud on the decibel scale, but it's geniunely ferocious stuff. I recognised the name as having some connotations with Million Tongues Festival compilation - of which you can hear snippets of here. Recommended for fans of Michael Yonkers, Matt Valentine (Tower Recordings), Ben Chasney (Six Organs of Admittance, Comets) Josephine Foster and a ton of Midwestern psychedelia that I know next to nothing about.

Anyway, down to business. Crime are generally regarded as one of key precursors to that 'Swami' sound. If you're a Sonic Youth fan, you'll know they covered "Hot Wire to my Heart" in spectacular style on Sister (God I love that record), but you should also know how important this band were to early nineties punk pioneers, Drive Like Yehu and more recently the powerhouse that is (or was) HOT SNAKES!. We owe it all to this band. And it comes as no suprise that Swami are responsible for the re-release of San Francisco's Still Dead - a reissue that catalogues what little this band did leave behind in their original lineup (two rehearsal sessions (one from March '78, and one from July '79) - 20 tracks in all) As you might expect, the vocals and drums often find themselves suffocated by the sheer power Frankie Fix's lead guitar squawl and biting riffs. Despite the lack of media interest at the time, these guys clearly lived it live; and it comes across really well on this record.

Crime - Piss On Your Dog

Get yourself over to Swami if you want to indulge yourself in some sweet sounding Crime. Following on from this Interview, Swami have plans to re-release some live material aswell as a new studio album and DVD. Bring it!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Thousand Pieces of Gold



Through his many guises, William Oldham reigns supreme as the most prolific and consistantly brilliant singer/songwriters of this generation. Oldham's voice is a part strained and part moan of rage, loss and despair; his lyrics insightful, and while wildly contested, concievably based on his own personal experiences(?). Oldham actually maintains that his songwriting is a product of his imagination, and that writing in any other way would be an perversion of life (listening to songs like "A Sucker's Evening," you're inclined to agree with him). And without sounding like a manic depressive Dylan fan - they have book deals - what I think i'm trying to say; in a roundabout way, is that I don't think you find a better example of music that's as ramshackle and heartwarming then Viva Last Blues. There.

He abhors the notion of celebrity, but whether he likes it or not he found hipster infamy in I See Darkness(and rightly so), but it's for Viva Last Blues that he earns my eternal respect. Here, he really shines. Viva Last Blues was released under Palace Music on Drag City (a label which he is had long lasting relationship with) and recorded alongside Liam Hayes (piano & organ), Sebadoh's Jason Loewenstein (drums & additional singing) Ned Oldham (bass, slide guitar & additional singing) and Bryan Rich (lead guitar). Steve Albini actually holds production duties on this album, and while his influence isn't immediately apparent, there are some tracks that hang loose and rock on this album, Neil Young style. "Cat Blues" is probably the best example of this, but tracks The Brute Choir" and "New Partner" are just as dark and plaintive as his Bonnie "Prince" Billy recordings.

Palace - Brute Choir

Palace Records for all your Will Oldham recorded needs.
The Royal Stable Stable - William Oldham archive
Will Oldham Interview - Does exactly what it says on the tin
Steve Albini article - For your leisure

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Be Sure To Loop



"While on paper a combination of dub, drum and bass, IDM, the occasional banjo, jazz, chamber strings, and strong guitar fueled melodies seems like it might result in a tangled morass of sounds and styles, the Notwist pull off this combination without so much as a stutter." - Greil Marcus (Dusted)


I don't know how I managed to miss out of The Notwist when they first released Neon Golden. I must have been sleeping, or listening to something else (I don't which is worst really). If you want comparisons they've been described as part indie, krautrock, post-punk, lush electronica, ambient pop and well, is that not enough? It should be enough for any band, but on this, their sixth studio outing, they manage to somehow be as much jazz and oriental in origin than any of those previous descriptions - That could just be me though. If you trawl around the internet for some more information on them, you'll discover that this German band - supposedly indebted Metal and eighties punk - shared bills with Fugazi and The Jesus Lizard in the early nineties, so there certainly a dramatic shift somewhere along the way.

They actually branched out with various side projects such as Lali Puna, Tied + Tickled Trio, Village of Savoonga, and Console; allowing their music to incorporate these different sounds and textures. Of course change, at least on this scale, is normally the death of a band. If you believe this, just don't take Neon Golden as your case in point, because you're liable to get very upset. If I was permitted one adjective, it would be this: Incredible. Unfortunately, you're getting this longwinded mess. "Consequence" is a melting pot of influences, with sporadic bits of horn, guitar, violin, percussion, and electronic noodling. And the whole album is genuinely is one of those records you just pick up and play without thinking about it. Sustained brilliance.

The Notwist - Consequence

The Notwist - One With The Freaks

I find it even more incredible that a band like The Notwist can have label issues and even problems with distribution. Too marginal I expect. If you want information on how to purchase their album then City Slang is your best bet. YOU MUST HUNT THIS ALBUM DOWN. www.notwist.com

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Art Of Easing



"He's mischievous, he's badly behaved," ponders 'Lib. "He's the reason I don't have to act shit out, huh huh huh." - Lib (Plan B)


Does comedy have a place in music? I'd say yes, but looking at the music I tend to listen to, no would probably be closer to the truth. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. I do know that you can't really answer the question without considering Madlib's incarnation as Quasimoto - you know, Lord Quas, The Loopdigga! The Beat Conductor. And, you get the idea. I read a fantastic Quasimoto interview in the most recent issue of Plan B which has not only forced me into digging out "The Unseen" but also reassess why at one point last year, you couldn't stop me playing this album. It's understating the obvious to say that I have always enjoyed this album, but you know, i've never really broken down why I love it so much. I suppose I was always of the opinion that it has a 'mood' that negates any real attempt to take it seriously. First impressions are that it's funny, and the humour is a really important aspect of the whole album, but I think i'm finally coming around to understanding it's twisted genius too.

You see, it plays at being cloying and overly simplistic, but at the same time it delivers some frankly amazing beats, choice sampling and seemingly inane lyrics: "I'm always lookin' under some girl's dress/ With a vest, cause some ducks wanna put me to rest/ Now I'm a soldier in the town drinkin' Butterfly Snapple/ I walk around the streets passin' out poisoned apples." It's nuts! An oddity then? You're damn right! Quasimoto is an oddity of comic book proportions. In fact, fuck, I loved Sin City but wouldn't it have been cool if they'd done something interesting with the music. I don't want to hear how it's noir, and silence is intergral to plot in offsetting the violent scenes with moments of contenplation. No, Robert Rodriguez should have have had Quasimoto blazing in the background - Well, it's an idea...I think it could've worked. The music though: If you can't get a handle on the vocals (electronically or helium altered, you decide.) then, I doubt I can say anything that will change your mind. It would be wrong to say his music is anything but an acquired taste, but hell, just listen to "Real Eyes" 'caus not only is it a highlight amongst an album of highlights, but it's jazz altered and perverse on the lyrical tip. Lord Quas, for life:

Quasimoto - Real Eyes feat Madlib

Look to Stones Throw Records or Amazon for all your Quasimoto needs.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news (or just telling you news you already know), but Hot Snakes are calling it a day. On brighter note, Breath of Life is fully endorsed this week. Check out the review for "Blowout Comb" because it's spot on. Classic album. Err yeah, I realise this must seem like a afterthought but get thee over to Strange Reaction for all your hard rocking needs. Ifankyou.