Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Black Time Tour The US For The First Time!

Black Time hails from London, England. They are skinny, black- clad boys and girls with bad attitudes and a desire to make intrusive, obnoxious rock’n’roll music. March brings the band across the Atlantic for their first ever US tour. All dates are with San Francisco's The Husbands except Oakland.

03/22 Arcata, CA @ Jambalya
03/23 Portland, OR @ Towne Lounge
03/24 Seattle, WA @ The Funhouse
03/27 Oakland, CA @ Stork Club
03/28 Los Angeles, CA @ Scene Bar
03/29 Long Beach, CA @ Alex's Bar
03/30 San Diego, CA @ Tower Bar
03/31 San Francisco, CA @ The Knockout

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beirut Bowery Ballroom Shows Announced

Indeed those that pupate in a cocoon must eventually escape from it. It appears that Zach Condon is ready to emerge from his winter hiatus. March will bring Beirut to Austin for a 4AD SXSW showcase and an Austin City Limits performance hosted by Seattle's KEXP. Beirut has also just announced two Bowery Ballroom shows on May 6th and 7th. No telling what's next.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Akron/Family Tour Press

In their relatively short existence as a band Akron / Family have logged in some serious time on the road. In 2006 alone they conquered numerous tours of the US, Canada, and Europe. Judging by the list of upcoming shows they don't appear to be slowing down any time soon. Mid West and European dates are listed below. Check out some recent tour press from their latest East Cost jaunt.

Akron/Family live preview
Feb 22/07
By David Malitz

The first (and only) time David saw Akron/Family was Dec. 8, 2005. Why does
he remember the specific date for a random concert? Because -- and sorry to
get all Zach Braff on you -- more than any other show over the past few
years, that one changed his life the most. Here's why: It wasn't necessarily
the best show I've seen during that stretch, although it certainly was
great. It was more the circumstances surrounding it. It was a Thursday
night, the forecast was calling for snow, it was a band I was into, but not
all that much. Still, I felt some pull to go see this show, to support a
good band that I hadn't seen before on a night when there clearly wasn't
going to be much of a crowd. So I went to Iota and was rewarded with one of
the most unique performances I've ever seen. The band certainly didn't care
that there were maybe 30 people in attendance. It went about its business as
it normally would, playing a two-hour-plus set that veered all over the map
from instrument-free four-part singalongs in the middle of the audience to
psychedelic noise freakouts that extended past the 10-minute mark. The
band's album didn't prepare me for that second half of that equation. I was
expecting mostly gentle, back-porch folk with some experimental undertones,
not the second coming of Blue Cheer. It was an awesome show and it served as
inspiration to check out more unknown, somewhat obscure bands on a regular
basis, because you never know when you'll have your mind blown. Tonight the
Family has a much more high-profile show at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Opener
Kitty Hawk flies under the radar in the Federal Reserve collective, but it
might just be the best of the batch, with fragile indie-folk songs that
exude that most intangible of musical qualities -- honesty. Deleted Scenes
rounds out the bill.

The Weekly Dig / Boston
All together now
by Michael Brodeur
February 07, 2007

“Quit your job, move to New York, we’ll live in the shittiest neighborhood
in the city, and we’ll start a band. It’ll be fucking great!”

Ahh, the mating call of the North American indie rocker. Who in the prime of
their youth hasn’t heard its sweet, completely impractical song? And yet, as
tired and done and old and over as the notion of leaving behind one’s
proverbial Pennsylvania to find success on the sticky stages and glossy
pages of the big city may be, that’s precisely what Akron/Family did.

They also did the requisite
crappy-apartment-in-Bushwick-right-above-volume-fascist-neighbors thing
until they could afford separate quarters and a rehearsal space; as well as
the 50-copies-of-their-demo-stuffed-into-an-Astor Place-mailbox thing,
complete with “here goes” finger-crossing and starry eyes. The thing is,
that shit actually worked.

From the 50 vellum packets sent out by the four transplants, they received
two replies: a friendly pre-printed “thank you”/“sorry” card from Merge
(“That was nice of them,” Akron multi-instrumentalist Dana Janssen says) and
a relatively detailed appraisal and critique via email from ex-Swans czar
and contemporary fringe impresario Michael Gira.

“He started coming to see us perform every Sunday at Pete’s Candy Store,
suggested we work together on recording and releasing and album, and we were
like, ‘Great!’” Janssen recalls, sounding residually dumbstruck even three
years after the fact.

Then the story momentarily pauses while Cameron Crowe goes out on the
balcony to have a cigarette and phone his mom.

Just kidding.

But this whole thing just seems so easy, doesn’t it? Gosh, what happens
next? Does Uncle Jerry die and leave the kids his decrepit old tour bus from
the ’60s? You wouldn’t expect one of the most original bands out there to
spring from the oldest story ever told, but if there’s one thing clearly
demonstrated by both the making and the music of Akron/Family, it’s that
cliché (cliché as it is) is hardly barren—it can be mined, refined and used
for fuel.

The debut record that rose from their initial encounters with Gira (as
producer) caught them at their songiest and most level—clear-minded but
elaborate, decadent but modest, noisy but controlled. It was a strategy, no
doubt, devised by Gira himself, whose flair for introduction could be
credited for launching that whole Devendra Banhart situation. Gira’s Young
God label, even with all 10 of its toes wiggling in the tepid freakfolk
puddle, would prove to be the perfect forum for Akron/Family to come into
their own. Interest swelled as label devotees were automatically curious
about what a Young God rock band could possibly sound like, while the
collaborative yet laissez-faire M.O. of the label ensured they’d never sound
like one thing for long.

Perhaps the best realization of the band’s ease with variety is last year’s
split album between Akron/Family and Gira’s own Angels of Light project (for
which the boys served as backing band). On the Angels’ half, the Family
holds down beaten slo-mo country grooves for Gira’s moany baritone to crawl
across. On their own songs, Revolver-ish arabesques collapse into storms of
noise that would make Glenn Branca giggle; limpid, croony ballads erupt into
mathy fits and stutters; and Jewish mystics crash an Appalachian hoedown.
Throughout it all, the band sings in unison. Sometimes this unison sounds
like a gospel choir from central Vermont; sometimes it sounds like the
occupants of a plummeting elevator—but it always sounds like Akron/Family.

“That’s directly related to Michael’s influence,” Janssen says. “[Bandmate]
Ryan [Vanderhoof] had worked a lot with harmonies in the past, but it was
something that Michael really wanted to pull out of us and showcase. That’s
the role of a producer, partly, but really, it’s a gift that Michael has for
seeing things.”

One song in particular from the split album, “Raising the Sparks,” features
a stretch where the instruments drop out entirely, leaving the four
hollering, clapping and practically leaping right off the recording. It’s as
explosively lonely as it is powerfully vulnerable—Akron/Family at their

“How can I put it—it means to uplift yourself,” Janssen says. “So often, you
have to deal with this whole image thing. People just want to be cool. And
that’s fine. I like cool people. I don’t want to be a preacher—the point is
to let it go, loosen up, not worry about what the guy next to you thinks of
your dancing.”

And, like the nightly climax of any rock dream come remarkably true, you can
bet there will be dancing at this week’s appearance—or some approximation

“People lose their shit,” he says, “and I think we’ve already lost ours.”

03/08 Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig
03/09 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
03/10 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
03/11 St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
03/13 Vermillion, SD @ University of South Dakota
03/14 Grinnell, IA @ Bob’s Underground at Grinnell College
03/16 Columbus, OH @ Little Brothers
03/17 Buffalo, NY @ Sound Lab
03/07 Annandale-On-Hudson, NY @ Bard College

04/10 Stockholm, SWE @ Debasser
04/11 Oslo, NOR @ John Dee-Oslo
04/12 Copenhagen, DK @ Vega
04/13 Berlin, DEU @ Festsaal Kreuzberg
04/14 Rotterdam, NL @ Motel Mozaique, Fest
04/15 Brugge, BEL @ Cactus
04/17 Brussels, BEL @ AB Domino Fest,
04/18 Tourcoing, FR @ Le grand mix,
04/19 Bourges, FR @ Printemps de Bourges Fest
04/20 Bilbao, ESP @ Azkena
04/21 Madrid, ESP @ Low Club
04/22 Lisbon, PRT @ Music Box
04/23 Braga, PRT @ Teatro Circo
04/25 Barcelona, ESP @ Auditorio
04/26 Turin, IT @ Spazio 2121,
04/27 Milan, IT @ Jail Club
04/28 Ravenna, IT @ Bronson
04/29 Romam,IT @ Circolo Artisti

Papercuts 8.3 Review On Pitchfork Today!

Can't Go Back
[Gnomonsong; 2007]
Rating: 8.3
Online review here.

Papercuts (the lacerations) fall somewhere between painful and annoying on the irritation scale. They're one of life's great certainties, unavoidable no matter how much care you take in sorting sheaves or stuffing envelopes. It takes a few seconds after that first, fateful slice before the sting sets in, a throbbing, sometimes bloody reminder of the fragility of our fleshy frames.

Papercuts (the band) fall somewhere between pleasant and beautiful on the listening scale. They're self-consciously mysterious, no matter how much effort you put into making sense of the decidedly low-key yet somehow stirring songs. It takes a few seconds of Papercuts' second album, Can't Go Back, to think that maybe you've stumbled upon something special, a delicate mood piece made to slice through the din and chaos of modern life.

Or maybe it's just another gently indulgent bedroom production featuring a guy cribbing from a great record collection, cooing sweet nothings and coming off like some late 1960s summer-into-fall semi-obscurity sprinkled with a healthy dose of indie-dust. But like Papercuts' namesake, there's a nagging sensation there's more going on than first appears, and that the band's modesty can't disguise a gift for melody equal to its knack for channeling a host of half-familiar influences.

Perhaps that should be "his" knack for channeling, as Papercuts is essentially Bay Area songwriter Jason Quever, whose last name almost perfectly describes his high, thin singing voice. That voice is frequently double-tracked and cloaked with touches of ghostly reverb, the last refuge of the painfully insecure and a surefire way to hide yourself while imparting an otherworldly vibe. But the shy act-- "I'm always on the outside looking in," Quever sings on "Outside Looking In"-- may be just that, as no wallflower could accumulate the fans this guy has. Devendra Banhart and Vetiver's Andy Cabic are releasing the disc via their Gnomonsong imprint, and Grizzly Bear tapped Papercuts for their current tour. Quever's also collaborated, crossed paths, or intersected with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Cass McCombs.

He's also breathed deep from the stylish post-Summer of Love haze, when dope-smoking folkies traded tokes for euphoric doses, and when the VU started sharing (select) shelf space with Dylan albums and dreamy L.A. singer-songwriter projects. Not that you'd necessarily glean that from the first song, "Dear Employee", an anomalous chamber-pop kiss off that's got more in common with the Hidden Cameras (minus the "gay church" thing).

Halfway through second song, "John Brown", however, after a dramatic pause gives way to a double-time detour, the disc's trippy heritage kicks in. "Summer Long" channels prime girl-group pop for the coffee-house set, sounding like Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited players subbing for a Phil Spector session, while humming organ and airy harmonies underscore the deceptively bright "Unavailable".

With the shaggy, shambling "Take the 227th Exit", the fashionable psych and Basement Tapes touches really begin to meld and manifest themselves, and over the disc's latter half the shape and spirit of the songs such as the droning "Sandy" and the sepia-toned sunset of a eulogy "Just Another Thing to Dust" grow more and more diffuse, even if the winsome tunes keep them from floating off into the ether. The songs seem to proceed on a narcotic lag, with the subtle, shimmering backing instrumentation shifting ever so slightly in unexpected ways.

By "Found Bird", Quever's on another plane, his voice processed to an abstract warble that sounds like he's singing from the heavens, looking down, amused at the world he's left behind. The disc's extended denouement, with its protracted and seemingly improvised piano solo, achieves a certain transcendence before giving way to the statelier "The World I Love", a sign that Quever's still with us and not off counting butterflies or something.

Not that he sounds like he would embrace subjects so hippie-banal. Quever might run with the hairy-and-happy crowd, but "Can't Go Back" avoids unicorns and fanciful imagery for something simpler and more affecting. West Coast to the core, it's music for the journey, not for the arrival, the soundtrack to getting somewhere else rather than music to get lost to. Or maybe both.

-Joshua Klein, February 22, 2007

Paperucts are currently on tour with Grizzly Bear

02/23 Tucson, AZ @ Plush
02/24 Marfa, TX @ Ballroom Marfa
02/26 Norman, OK @ Opolis
02/27 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
02/28 Austin, TX @ Emo's Jr
03/01 Baton Rouge, LA @ Chelsea's
03/02 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
03/03 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
03/04 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
03/06 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Butthole Surfers Are The Jewel In The Lone Star Crown.

It must've been proclaimed five hundred trillion times since it's inception, but thank the heavens for YouTube. Already so much well deserving footage has resurfaced and it doesn't seem like the well is going to run dry anytime soon. Like this unearthed video for Fast Song by the Butthole Surfers. At ten minutes in length it's a bit more than the average Buggles video, but well worth every disturbingly genius second. It's been awhile since the Butthole Surfers have produced any new material but their incredible back catalog plus a fantastic rarities disc are available from the band's own Latino Bugger Veil label. May the legacy of Butthole Surfers live on forever.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Papercuts Top Ten On Dusted.

Mr. Papercut shares his top ten fav jams with today. The Papercuts embark on a nation tour opening for Grizzly Bear starting in Seattle next week.

02/16 Seattle, WA @ Neumo's
02/17 Vancouver, BC @ Plaza Club
02/18 Portland, OR @ Mission Theatre (2 shows)
02/20 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
02/21 Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
02/23 Tucson, AZ @ Plush
02/24 Marfa, TX @ Ballroom Marfa
02/26 Norman, OK @ Opolis
02/27 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
02/28 Austin, TX @ Emo's Jr
03/01 Baton Rouge, LA @ Chelsea's
03/02 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
03/03 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
03/04 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
03/06 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom

Papercuts' Jason Quever grew up in a Northern California commune and broke into music (literally) by prising the locks from a vacationing friend's house to record piano tracks for Cass McCombs. His first collection of home-recorded material, 2000's Rejoicing Songs came out on Owen Ashworth's (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone) Cassingles label, hodge-podge of demos and rough mixes that nonetheless harbored unexpected moments of gorgeousness. The follow-up, Mockingbird on SF's tiny Antenna Farm, broadened Quever's sonic pallette with lush country folk arrangements, earned a four-star rating from Uncut magazine and got the attention of Vetiver's Andy Cabic. Quever has since joined the free folk nation, playing and recording with Cabic and signing with Gnomonsong. With Can't Go Back, out this month, Papercuts becomes the first Gnomonsong artist to sound more like Vetiver than Devendra Banhart, the songs full of space and ease and Laurel Canyon lyricism. Papercuts is touring the West Coast with Grizzly Bear this February, a combination that makes us foggy-eyed and daydreamy just thinking about it.

My favorite songs right now. *Note: this shall exclude every song on The White Album minus "Glass Onion."

1. Blind Joe Taggart - "I've Crossed the Separation Line"
No one around me seems to know about this gospel blues genius. He's my Robert Johnson. Every song on the record A Guitar Evangelist 1926 to 1931 is a classic.

2. Curtis Mayfield -"We the People Who are Darker than Blue"
He really didn't need to do anything with the rest of his life after writing "People Get Ready", but to prove it was no fluke he wrote hundreds of other amazing songs. This song chokes me up a bit, not necessarily for any other reason than it's so heartfelt, and there's no finger pointing.

3. Bo Diddley - "Cadillac"
It's hard to pick a particular Bo Diddley song. But this one proves to me that Chuck Berry was pretty good, but this guy brought down the tablet from the mountain.

4. The Kinks - "Wonderboy"
In the 33 1/3 book about Village Green the writer refers to this recording as an uninspired disappointment and a low point that Ray Davies took solace in John Lennon saying it was one of his favorite tracks of the year. That's ridiculous, this has been a really uplifting one for me, a purely positive, loving, innocent song that influenced my outlook greatly in the past couple years.

5. Gris Gris - "Baby You're Mine Now"
You think you've heard all the good songs and then the guy gives you the 7" for free and there's another amazing song on the b side. It was so exciting to hear a local band I liked this much.

6. Black Lips - "Boomerang"
Someone just turned me on to this. Like a great lost Troggs song, but still unique, I can't wait to see them now. If I wasn't so uptight this is the kind of music I'd be making.

7. Franciose Hardy - "Voila"
Maybe my most listened to song of the past 4 years. I don't know what it's about but i feel like I do just because of the way it sounds. It's like how a great film should let you know what's going on without dialogue, I feel like the melody and her tone of voice says it all.

8. Beach House - "Saltwater"
I would have liked to write this song, now I don't have to, I can go buy some Funions now instead. Can't wait to play with them.

9. Barbara Mason - "You Better Stop It"
I Found this 45 at a thrift store and sold it for $250 on ebay at a desperate moment. But that guy got a bargain, hits me every time and makes me want to stop it.

10. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - "New Years Kiss"
Best opening track. MF went and done it right, and at 2:02 minutes.

11. Leonard Cohen - "Chelsea Hotel"
I Drove my band mad listening to this song over and over again on tour. Lots of dead people around me I guess. There is an impossible to find movie of his 1972 tour and the version of this song on it would make anybody cry. Totally different and better lyrics too. I guess it's about Janis Joplin, which doesn't do much for me one way or the other, but I thought you should know.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Gojogo Reviewed On

All Is Fair

One of the more overlooked releases from the latter part of last year, All Is Fair is music created by classically-trained musicians that's not stuffy at all. Using mostly Indian percussive instruments (including the pakhawaj, tabla, ghatam, and others), and violin and double bass, the quartet of Gojogo has created an album that floats somewhere in between modern and traditional, playing things mostly straight while augmenting a couple tracks with horns, guitar, and even electronics.

The opening section of the album is easily the best, and after a short introduction track of violin and viola, "Tezeta" follows and is flat-out stunning. The track introduces a more playful rhythm with the double bass and indian percussion while the graceful violin melody is at times playful and at other times more melancholy. "Puppets" continues the strong batch of tracks with a long violin/bass intro before some polyrhythmic percussion slides in alongside nicely and moves things forward more briskly.

About halfway through, it seems that the group might derail themselves a bit by straying too much from their more standard sounds. "All Is Fair In Love And War" brings some rather distorted guitar into a track that's much more aggressive, but just about the time you think it's going to go over the top, the track dissolves into silence and a slinky, jazz-inspired second half takes form. The unfortunately-titled "Yangsta" brings some sampled loops into the mix and although they add another unique layer to the groups sound, the track itself just doesn't seem as strong until some more second-half redemption.

Fortunately, the album closes out strongly, with the standout being the nine-minute "Aviary." With only sparse violin playing, the track goes to town rhythmically, with some extended sections that really highlight the unique sounds of the Indian percussive instruments. Although it has a few freshman flaws, All Is Fair is nonetheless a great debut that's a little bit different than everything else out there.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Everett True Weighs In On The Finches

Big man, tastemaker, reviled and revered music critic, ahead of the curve rocker, published author, editor-in-cheif, Everett True writes a glowing Finches review in the new issue of Plan B Magazine.

Words: Everett True
The Finches
Human Like A House (Dulc-i-Tone)

I was drawn to the cover, the insert, at first.
Chipboard and paper, of course - inside, a series of woodcut drawings depicting a windswept girl, a deserted makeshift playground and black geese, it reminded me of the work of French-Canadian chanteuse WOELV and Olympian human archivist Nikki McClure and her gentle, evocative nature calendars. There's a barely readable transfer stuck across album front, drawing parallels with Vashti Bunyan, The Marine Girls and US performance artist Mirah. Sure, the second name has been overused in recent years (doubtless because of the tenuous Nirvana connection), but it still draws me in, makes me listen to a few notes if only to curse roundly at the mendacity and/or cloth ears of PRs because…well, you know. The Marine Girls recorded songs about rock pools in a shed. Plus, it's a better name to drop to indicate awareness of silence, independence and melody than, say, Young Marble Giants - who no one ever gets. The other two names clearly are there to signify folksiness and a vague zeitgeist, but that's OK. The more I hear field recordings from past decades, the more I eschew the violence and clamour of indie-boy guitar pop.
So I place the album in my CD-player and I'm hypnotised. The woodcuts are the work of singer Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs - a graceful talent, for sure. Her rich, pastoral voice lilts and caresses over 12 slow-burning, resonant melodies - sometimes Sixties (The Mama And Papas) pop, sometimes Seventies folk, sometimes even recalling the spooked military rhythms of former Careless Talk cover stars Young People ('The House Under The Hill', where Carolyn's mother sings back-up). Guitars chime and burr in circular motion. Lyrics sing of mix tapes ('June Carter Cash'), atmospheric disturbance ('Two Ghosts') and distant hometowns ('Goettingen, Du'). Ennui deliciously saturates every groove.
Carolyn has a way of singing a little too closely to the microphone, her carefully enunciated words distorting slightly - as on the sweet farewell song 'Last Favor' - but this only serves to increase a feeling of intimacy. Often, it feels like the San Francisco duo have set up camp in your living room, so crystal-bright is the sound. It probably helps that Carolyn's songs are so stately, considered, stripped bare of all but the necessary - her guitar, the guitar and bass of fellow Finch Aaron Morgan, maybe the odd pedal steel or recorder or cello. I'm reminded of Phil Elverum's analogue recordings in Mt Eerie - the same sense of wonderment, the same joy in nature - but The Finches' sound is more rounded off (courtesy of Aaron's dad, producer David Morgan), conventionally 'finished'.
Sometimes appearances and hastily thrown-off words don't deceive. This is an enchanting, rewarding and uplifting album.

Monday, February 05, 2007

AHAAH Review In The Weekly Alibi

A Hawk And A Hacksaw get some hometown support from local Albuquerque rag.

Sonic Reducer
By Amy Dalness

A Hawk and a Hacksaw The Way the Wind Blows (Leaf Label)

If you're ready to step out of the alt.rock music rut you've been stuck in for the past decade, The Way the Wind Blows is your first foot out of the hole. A Hawk and a Hacksaw draw from global influences(most notably Balkan) without making The Way the Wind Blows a one-way ticket to the old world. The Albuquerque-born duo masterfully interlaces delicate violin with the potentially overbearing cry of the accordion to create a lively, organic and entrancing experience. This isn't your momma's heavy-handed, new-agey folk—it's folk for the rest of us.

The gipsy jammers at their best at Palimpsest Festival:

AHAAH play their last US show before moving to Hungary on February 8th at Colleg o' Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Timout New York Reviews Essie Jain's New Ablum.

Essie Jain
We Made This Ourselves (Ba Da Bing)

For all the good the freak-folk contingent has done-from resuscitating
the careers of forgotten pioneers to reclaiming the Birkenstock from
Phish fans-it's a shame that Devendra Banhart and his buddies have
taught indie kids to greet simplicity with suspicion. These days,
people assume that a singer accompanying herself on acoustic guitar
must've given the African-percussion team the night off.

On her enchanting debut, NYC-based English transplant Essie Jain makes
a compelling argument for the merits of minimalism. Most of the tunes
on We Made This Ourselves are built around nothing more than guitar or
piano; occasionally, drummer Jim White of Dirty Three supplies a
whisper of groove, while "Haze" sports a lovely splash of muted Bryter
Layter brass. Even the song titles, such as "Glory," "Sailor" and
"Talking," eschew decoration.

Yet the music hardly feels unfinished, thanks to Jain's voice, a
richly nuanced instrument that packs far more emotion than your
average freak-folk warble. Jain's best trick is establishing a precise
melodic line, then bending it with unexpected blue notes; in those
instances, the story the music tells is of a woman straining against
decorum to express herself honestly. That might be a smaller narrative
than Banhart's flower-child revolt, but in Jain's hands it's no less
gripping. - Mikael Wood

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dead C Collection Receives Pitchfork Praise

Kiwi noise legends The Dead C received an amazing Pitchfork review today!

The Dead C
Vain, Erudite, and Stupid: Selected Works 1987-2005
[Ba Da Bing!; 2006]
Rating: 7.9

In my teen years, Chicago store/distributor/label Ajax Records was
like a treasure map: Amid their brief catalogue descriptions I first
stumbled upon Pavement 7"'s and then, just as importantly, located the
impossibly varied, amazing bands coming out of New Zealand.
Summer job dollars spent, records labeled Xpressway, Feel Good All
Over, Flying Nun, and Siltbreeze arrived on the doorstep containing
music by everyone from Alastair Galbraith to Wreck Small Speakers on
Expensive Stereos. Each had its place in my nascent view of the
country, but the holy NZ trilogy consisted of the Jefferies brothers
(Peter and Graeme), Chris Knox, and the Dead C (and their various

The Dead C should go first: Michael Morley, Bruce Russell, and Robbie
Yeats' ramshackle, half-speed, and scary racket externalized what was
teeming inside my head. (Tellingly, favorites were DR 503, Eusa Kills,
White House, Trapdoor Fucking Exit, Harsh 70s Reality, and The
Operation of the Sonne.) Really, I've probably mentioned the band in
more reviews than any other group, excepting the Sun City Girls. That
critical shorthand could strip references to the trio of all nuance,
but each time I've name-dropped, I hear "Max Harris" or "Power" and
remember exactly the way they fucked with my conceptions.

As a testament to that fandom, I own all the individual albums,
singles, magazine editions, and the like collected on the two discs
that make up Vain, Erudite, and Stupid: Selected Works 1987-2005. Some
of my favorites are here, some aren't; it seems like a waste of time
to harp. In fact, the band selected the songs-- so, no matter the
ostensible gaps, it's fascinating. Founding member Bruce Russell also
penned notes and diaristic reminiscences for each track-- he speaks of
process, instrumentation, the weather. (You can also read opaque and
anecdotal reminiscences from Bananafish editor Seymour Glass,
Siltbreeze founder Tom Lax, and The Wire scribe Nick Cain.)

I bought the vast output as it was released, but experiencing it again
as a sort of time-lapse listening experience is incredible. You can
trace a history and see overlaps, divergences from the slow-mo bedroom
psychedelia of "Max Harris" to the warping, snare-scuffling Throbbing
Gristle swarm of "Maggot", punctuated by Morley's shrieking, monstrous
taunts. Tracks and fragments jump from chattering ambiance to
real-time collage to spoken Mark E. Smith phaser shifts to scrawling
handfuls of dust-- songs cut or continue unexpectedly; some soar from
the trash heap, as is the case on the almost 11-minute "Helen Said

Haven't heard the band? The sound's difficult to describe. One thing:
Nothing is ever aurally spiky or sharp-- every feedback twang's draped
in this weird NZ dew. They eke the loveliest distortion tones from
guitars and tape echo, and much occurs on the spot: They're amazing
improvisers, upchucking Twin Infinitives-sized messes at will. It's
garage rock, maybe, but the garage is burning down and you're in no
rush to escape. For me, the mournful stuff's the best; and when
they're tapping sounds from a ham radio, giving themselves the space
to open entirely as on the slow burn of "The Marriage of Reason and
Squalor" and its sci-fi Shadow Ring weirdness. The rarely just rock--
well, but what about "Bitcher"?-- and even then there's almost always
some kind of swerve.

Praise singing complete, I hadn't really listened to much of the
band's most recent output. The last couple of songs on disc two, from
2001 and 2003, respectively, find the band getting more spiraled and
"tight." See, they started using laptops a bit and, bubble popped, my
interest waned. That's a minor purist gripe, though-- the approach
remains impressively aggressive even if the ambiance is partially
lost. Plus, it's interesting to see just how cohesive the practice
largely remains over twenty-something years (distilled into this
two-plus hours).

Sure, collections are never complete and you can't replicate
discovery, but damn if this fucker doesn't seem plenty full. Until
someone does a Please Kill Me for the period I alluded to at the get
go, documents like this (and back issues of Forced Exposure) are our
aural/oral history books and lessons: Vain, Erudite, and Stupid feels
extremely primary.

-Brandon Stosuy, February 01, 2007

The Dead C wail away on New Zealand television.