Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wooden Shjips Reviewed By Left Hip Mag.

Once a one-man recording project, now a fully magnetized psychedelic rock outfit, the Wooden Shjips (pronounced "ships" to you newcomers) are pumping flesh blood into the Bay Area music scene. Below is an early review of their debut full length due out on September 18th. Expect more to come from this mighty band.

Wooden Shjips
Holy Mountain, 2007
Online review

Plodding, droning and psychedelic, San Francisco's Wooden Sjips sound like an impossible mix of brit-pop, garagey swamp rock, and acid-tripping gooeyness. The fact that they are on Holy Mountain should be enough to convince you of their quality - has the label ever mistepped? No, never, impossible.

Solid, repetitive riffs on organ and bass buoy washes of shimmering, treble-on-full nerve-damaged guitars, while incense-and-peppermints Eastern mysticism creeps gently into the soundscape.... Vague and non-committal vocals weave casually in and out of the spectrum. If you took all of the best elements of the sixties and Frankensteined it into a new beast it would sound just like Wooden Ships. Nice stuff.

Gordon B. Isnor

Great homegrown video for 'Dance California'.

And some killer Rallizes-esque live footage!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Beirut Video Posts Galore

Beirut's new video for "Postcards From Italy" from the Gulag Orkestar album has been blazing a trail throughout the online community. Check out the latest jazz from a few esteemed websites & blogs.

**Beirut on Video Static:
"There are really only three kinds of home movies worth watching: 1) Those featuring your own family; 2) Those featuring somebody extraordinarily famous or interesting; and 3) Those featuring spectacular groin injuries that Bob Saget shows you on lonely evenings. That's the essential problem when bands release music videos that are essentially nothing more than home movies synced up to a song. Unless it propels some already established personality or mystique, the video can come across as nothing more than an exercise in lazy narcissism. Director Alma Har'el and her cohort Zach Condon —frontman of Beirut — take a different tack on the form, elevating it to the level of an art project. "Postcards From Italy" consists of footage with Condon and his girlfriend — shot in and around the Har'el's Los Angeles home — that's doctored to be nearly indistinguishable from clips taken off archival home movie reels that the director has purchased over the years at various yard sales and the like. The activities depicted range from simple and beautiful to exotic and desperate, leaving little doubt which films are personal memory tokens and which were meant to impress an audience. As Pitchfork correctly pointed out in their debut of the clip: It's all kind of sad, especially when you realize that these are literally memories that have been sold on the curbside along with other unwanted goods"

**Beirut's premiere on Pitchfork

**Video of the day on "The daily tube" Youtube:
"If you were to distill your very best memories -- and everyone else's best memories -- and create a video montage of them all, it might look something like this. Beirut's music video for "Postcards From Italy" is beautiful and sweet and touching and...and...well it's a video about happiness! The nostalgia is all the more amazing when you consider Beirut's front man, Zach Condon, is only 21"

**Beirut on 'Boards screening room:
"Partizan's Alma Har'el splices together old home movies with original Super 8 footage in this beautiful promo for Beirut."

**Beirut on Twentyseven Views:
"With all of the hoopla over Beirut's music video for "Elephant Gun," it was forgotten as to what got the world swooning over this Beirut madness, "Postcards From Italy." Beginning with it's gentle Ukulele strokes and then lullaby vocal harmonies, it made you drift away into a hazy dream. The second collaboration with Alma Harel brings out a completely different vibe to the video. Using family and possibly random footage, there is an almost surreal dream like feel to the video. Even with the ukulele and horns and percussion parading in the background, the film feels quiet and at times like a perfect memory trying to be grasped."

**Beirut on Kids pushing Kids:
"Zach Condon, aka Beirut, will release the follow up to his gorgeous debut Gulag Orkestar (and Lon Gisland EP) on October 9. Weirdly enough, Beirut has just released the video to "Postcards from Italy," a single from the first album. It's directed by Alma Har'El, the same director behind his clip for "Elephant Gun." The video for "Postcards from Ital" matches the nostalgic feel of the LP artwork. The clips seemlessly mixes what looks like 1950s home movies with footage of Condon and his girlfriend (?). Their footage looks to be on Super 8 film, and they wear vintage clothing to match the look of the older clips. It's not as compelling or sexy as the "Elephant Gun" clip, but fits the tone of the track perfectly."

**Beirut on And The Ass Saw The Angel:
"This clip has been compiled of Super 8-images from family archives, which the owners have sold on eBay, by director Alma Ha'rel. Beautiful !!!"

** Beirut on Furrowed Brow Smile:
"Another spectacular bit of Beirut visual magic... this one is a new video for an old song, the mesmerizing, uke-led "Postcards from Italy". If you like the intimacy of viewing other people's old Super 8 home movies, this one's a keeper. Kinda moving too. Most of the footage is archival and some of it is recent of Zach himself (including getting a skateboarding raspberry)."

** Beirut & interview with Alma Har'el on Shots Ring Out:

"It's one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a while and all I
wanted was to try and keep it company." - Alma Har'el

It's been a bit since we've had a visit from our dear old friend Alma
Har'el, and ever the sweetheart, she's gone and brought us a fresh
slice of her newest Beirut pie for an oldie but goody, "Postcards from
Italy". Its a timeless companion piece to add to her previous work for
"Elephant Gun". Blending the past and the present and running it
through her distinct vintage filter, Mrs. Har'el shows us not only how
far we've come, but also how very much the same we are. Once again we
had a nice little chat with her about the video, the beauty of our
memories, and as always she gave us her advice on the certain outfit
that drives the ladies wild. So strap in for a timeless ride forward
into the past and don't worry, where we're going we won't need roads.

SRO: What did you set out to achieve with this video?

Alma: I've been collecting home movies on Super 8 and used some of
them in a music video I did for Taylor Hawkins but I felt they
deserved more attention, I wanted to preserve those memories so
they're not lost. Zach's song was a perfect match. I sent him a little
clip I edited from some of the footage and he loved it more than I
expected. "Postcards" is such a nostalgic song and it has that
bittersweet feeling we have when we experience beauty and intimacy and
know it will pass like everything else does. It's one of the most
beautiful songs I've heard in a while and all I wanted was to try and
keep it company.

After Zach saw the test I did with the footage he wanted to keep it
simple. He didn't want to add any gimmicky transitions between the
real footage and the new footage we were shooting with him and
Kristianna. I think he was right to want that.

SRO: So it seems you pretty much ransacked the different home videos
from your collection and spliced them together with recent footage of
Zach. Is this true?

Alma: Almost true. The footage was all bought from different families
on e-bay. I think they were getting rid of it because it was taking a
lot of space so they transferred it to tapes and sold the film. Some
people passed away and left boxes of Super 8 reels in their homes and
nobody wanted to start watching it. I was collecting these movies for
a while and I contacted the sellers and asked them if they would agree
to let me use a few seconds from them for a music video. After they
gave me their written permission I set out to watch hours of silent
movies. It was beautiful and some times very disturbing. It's so

SRO: Were those movies from other parts of the world? How old are some of them?

Alma: They are mostly from American families between the 40's and the
70's. They are from all over the country.

SRO: What did you do to make Zach's portions look antique? Was it the
camera or was it post effects?

Alma: We shot it on a Super 8 camera. I tried to shoot mostly wide
shots. I noticed most people were shooting their families that way
since it was a new format and people were treating it like a still
camera. Ghost Town Media did the post for it. They added a layer of
real film scratches and made the colors more saturated and contrast.
They're great and they have a new studio with couches you can fall
asleep on while the computer is rendering.

SRO: Nice, that should totally be one of their selling points. One of
my favorite parts is when the music plays to the black-faced people
dancing. That seemed a little risky to use, although to me it played
gorgeously. Was this tough to use or was it a perfect fit from the get

Alma: It was a hard decision to make but I thought it was an important
part of the whole and it should stay. I was showing people's memories
and moments that they thought were beautiful, you can't argue with
that, it's the painful side of memory. A moment you thought is
beautiful gets a whole new ugly meaning after time took it's toll on
The video has other moments like that, the little girl whose mother
grabs her face so she will look at the camera, the dad teaching his
little daughter to hold a gun, and the soldiers marching.
It's interesting because even if the person who filmed the black-faced
people was racist or ignorant, he was still a person with a camera who
looked at the world. We'll never know who he was and why he filmed it
- the beauty of that is shocking because it's so sad.

SRO: Okay, what's the story with Zach and the skateboard. Did he
really hurt himself? If so, do you know what he was trying to do when
it happened? Did that happen during filming as well?

Alma: Oh yes, he hurt himself pretty bad and I can't tell you what he
was trying to do because it's a stunt that was never done before. I
don't want other people to get hurt while trying to do it!

SRO: Forever a mystery. When last you left us, we were planning an
elephant nose trend. Now this time you've left us with playing the
piano/instrument in a white undershirt, tucked in to tighty whitey
underwear and capped off with white socks. Is this what the ladies dig
these days? Will Zach adopt this trend for his stage show?

Alma: I recommend combining the underwear with the elephant nose for
real results with the ladies.

SRO: In Paris Hilton's own words "That's Hot." So young lady what have
you got in store for us in the future?

Alma: A few weeks ago I finished a music video for "Bajofondo - Tango
Club". It's a band lead by the composer Gustavo Santaolalla. He won
the Oscars for his scores on the movies Babel and Brokeback Mountain
and now he has a record coming out. It's an electronic Tango and has a
lot of guest artists and cool collaborations. You can see some photos
from the set on my Myspace page, but it will only come out next year.

Right now I'm directing the second unit on a feature film called
"Death in Love". My husband wrote it and he's directing it so we are
working together and I get to learn a lot. He's a great boss.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wingtip Sloat Reviewed On Pitchfork.

Fifteen years down the road Wingtip Sloat finally recieves some much deserved recognition.

Wingtip Sloat
Add This to Rhetoric
[VHF; 2007]
Rating: 8.3

As is often the case with concurrent, like-minded bands, a lot of the underground rock groups of the early 1990s felt pretty similar at the time, but eventually splintered widely. Some ventured above ground (Pavement, Sebadoh), some followed unbeaten paths (Sun City Girls, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282), and some ended up frozen in time (Trumans Water, Fly Ashtray). A rare few left behind music that remains inextricably tied to the era, yet is somehow transcendent too.

Virginia's Wingtip Sloat were that kind of band. Their brainy brand of indie/punk/grunge/math, married as it was to pre-computer recording and pre-dot-com slackdom, could only have happened in the early 90s. Yet it sounds uncannily fresh today, as if high-rises and strip malls shot up around the group's basement studio without tarnishing the beer-drenched walls and tobacco-stained bathroom, leaving their fantastic sound echoing there, perfectly preserved and surprisingly undated. You can hear that decently on the band's two later albums, 1995's Chewyfoot and 1998's If Only For the Hatchery. But the most convincing proof has up to now gathered dust on early, out-of-print 7"'s and cassettes.

Add This to Rhetoric collects those artifacts, forging a kind of living, sweating time capsule. As for what it actually sounds like, that's best left to Sloat's Patrick Foster, who in his liner notes calls the perfectly-titled "I Wish I'd Been There to Make It a Cliché" the prototypical Sloat song. "It's all there," he rightly boasts. "Arch/true/ironic song title, stop-start nervous discharge, chaos, self-referencing lyrics, kick-axe drumming, a gut-punching bass, a guitar hanging on for dear life and a ridiculous coda that even made us laugh most of the time." To which I'd add a proggy use of shifting tempos, an affinity for overlapping vocals, and a snarling energy more openly indebted to punk than anything Pavement would've ever copped to.

Otherwise, Wingtip Sloat and Pavement's influences were pretty similar, from the Velvet Underground across to the Fall and Wire and up through the Swell Maps, the Clean and Tall Dwarfs. But in contrast to Pavement's sly dodges, Wingtip Sloat owned up to their borrowings. Hence the inclusion here of their irresistible takes on the Swell Maps' "Read About Seymour", the Clean's "Anything Could Happen", Tall Dwarfs' "Beauty", and, in a nice show of team loyalty, Sun City Girls' drunken "Kill the Klansmen".

But Wingtip Sloat's originals burn most brightly through the haze of intervening years. Their 1991 debut 7", which opens the album, is basically perfect, four tracks full of rhythmic turns, spilling guitars, and savvy vocals. Sloat followed that up in 1992 with a 12-track double 7". Here the band's manic three-minute songs sit snugly next to one-minute toss-offs, much the way a stoned conversation turns profound musings and fleeting babble into sides of the same coin. (Such wordplay was a skill the group honed through their "pre-blog post-punk racing form" Sweet Portable You, which printed stories, rants, and other oblique ramblings under the guise of record reviews).

The rest of Add This to Rhetoric doesn't quite hit the same highs, but it's never less than compelling. The band continually finds the kind of mini-epiphanies that can only come from basement music made outside the sterilizing light of pro studios and promo budgets. That effect is summed perfectly by the album's back cover, a track listing made simply by piling up the individual, hand-decorated cassettes each song was recorded on. It's enough to transport you back to a time when cassettes and handwriting still mattered. But Add This to Rhetoric is no nostalgic reverie; it's less like faded ink than wet paint, still dripping with vivid sounds and ideas.
-Marc Masters, August 17, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Excellent 8.0 Review Of Angels Of Light On Pitchfork.

Michael Gira's Angels of Light received a respectable 8.0 review on Pitchfork today. There are just two weeks to go before We Are Him hits the record store shelves on August 28th.

Angels of Light
We Are Him
[Young God; 2007]
Rating: 8.0
Online Review

A year ago, writing for Perfect Sound Forever, Brian Hell buried himself in a series of questions about lyrics with Michael Gira. The Angels of Light Sing "Other People"-- the fifth album from Gira's prime project since Swans' end in 1997-- had just been released. The most telling question and answer refer to "Simon Is Stronger Than Us", a playful song with Akron/Family, then Gira's backing band, teasing his broad baritone with yelps for harmonies. Hell inquired if the line "And Francis did that, too, though Francis drawed London and made no excuse" was a reference to Irish painter Francis Bacon: "Well yes, I am referring to Francis Bacon there, very astute of you," the singer replied.

Of course Gira would reference Bacon, call him by name even: Articulating with screams, something Bacon specialized in while painting, has been paramount to Gira's aesthetic for a quarter century now. On We Are Him-- his sixth and arguably most engaging album as Angels of Light-- he lands some of the best of those complete releases. Gira seems more empowered and commanding than he has in a decade, the emotions he's conveying coming in huge fits that, like Bacon's, are as powerful as they are draining. He's backed by one of the most impressive guest lists of the year (Akron/Family providing the basic tracks, plus new friends or longtime collaborators Larkin Grimm, David Garland, and Bill Rieflin), but one must understand that this is Gira's album. He lets it all out and wastes little time: Four seconds into the colossal opening track, "Black River Song", for instance, a thick electric bass knock pumps against every heavy drum hit and compacted guitar sinew: "Black river runs/ beneath this ground/ Black river flows forever/ But he makes no sound." The chorus-- some variation of the series, "Fading, growing, breathing, flowing," sung by Gira and female voices-- is sinister, challenging and almost sexy.

A track later, a rocking-chair rhythm moans beneath Gira's snarl. He's rarely sounded this foreboding: Prodded by a scathing, raw violin drone and a daring chorus of sirens, it's an escalating dirge for the collapse of society, full of floods, blood and mouths too stupid to scream. Beneath an electric guitar twitter, heavy drums and furious strings on "My Brother's Man", Gira hands down these imprecations: "I walk through the thick black mud. I walk with my brother's blood. I see with my brother's eye. I scream at my brother's sky." Swans, anyone?

But this record isn't so simple. "My Brother's Man" notes that the brother is capable of murder and so is Gira. But it embraces the relationship, vowing to crush god "in my fucking hand" for the sake of fraternal legacy. It's protective, triumphant. The subsequent "This Is Not Here"-- a dark duet with Gira's wife, Siobhan Duffy-- offers the lovers choices and endings: Will the world steal the sun, or will the lovers touch the light? "Will you dream that we breathe?" It's not about anger or fatalism. In 1984, Gira screamed about burning and eating hearts on "Raping a Slave"; in 1995, he sang about supplication to God while witnessing the fragility of the world during "Our Love Lies". We Are Him is a near-perfect, totally committed summation hammering at the same unresolved archetypes from someone who's now a father.

That's not to say that this album is without its share of misses, or at least the occasional artistic anomie that has, by now, become a requisite of Gira's work. Those songs aren't better left unsung: "Goodbye Mary Lou" has a purpose, its rhythm an uneasy country twitter that leaves Gira little room to do much but say exactly what he's feeling. The first verse ends "Mary Lou, I renounce you"; the second, "Mary Lou, fuck you"; and in closing, the indiscretions of young anger that have been boiling for a lifetime come crashing down with a wink: "Oh Mary Lou, I forgive you."

We Are Him is ultimately about getting by, about trying to survive with a family and a faith at a time when "the dogs...howl as the street fills with blood." Gira, at 53, continues to evolve, to challenge himself, to question his beliefs. As long as he does that, every song won't roar like the perfect first two tracks of We Are Him or have the brilliant gospel insistence of the title track. The slight, charming chamber pop he tries won't always work as it does on "Sunflower's Here to Stay", a song that pushes for persistence. Luckily, doing otherwise has never been an option for Gira.

-Grayson Currin, August 14, 2007

Beirut Vids Hosted & Posted On Pitchfork.

If you haven't already checked it out on Pitchfork, below is a link to live footage of Beirut performing with the Kocani Orchestra in Paris. If you don't recognize the song it's because they're performing "Sunday Smile" off the yet to be released The Flying Club Cup album: Live Video

And if you can't get enough here's a link to the new video for "Postcards from Italy" directed by Alma Har'el: PFI Video

Beirut and Colleen will be touring together this fall.

09/24 New York, NY @ Society for Ethical Culture (Wordless Music Series)
09/26 New York, NY @ Delacorte Theater
09/30 Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa
10/02 Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
10/04 Chicago, IL @ Portage Theater
10/08 San Francisco, CA @ Herbst Theater
10/09 San Francisco, CA @ Herbst Theater
10/10 Los Angeles, CA @ Avalon

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Dead C Review In Spin

It's definitely a new area, for the Dead C have found their way into Spin. An unlikely destination but no one is complaining. Below is a review posted on

The Dead C
Future Artists
(Ba Da Bing!)
Online Review

August 6, 2007
Eternally kranky Kiwi punks prefer noise over pop.

The Dead C

From the late '80s into the 90s, this clamorous, lo-fi New Zealand trio flailed agains the country's thriving indie-pop scene (centered on the Flying Nun label), occasionally creating an outright squalid masterpiece like 1995's White House. They've not budged an iota since, as the cheekily titled Future Artists attests. An overdriven guitar resolutely obliterates the verses of "The Magicians," leaving room aplenty for long, unyielding excursions like "The AMM of Punk Rock" and the apt "Eternity." Throughout the Dead C's din of slow and stubborn drum-thud coupled with wheezing chord organs is as cantankerous as Grandpa himself. ANDY BETA

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Miss Alex White Reviewed on Pitchfork Today.

Miss Alex White & the Red Orchestra
Space & Time
[In the Red; 2007]
Rating: 7.0
Online review

It doesn't take much to make a great rock'n'roll record, but to succeed at getting the most out of not a lot, an act's got to have guts. That's what fueled such self-styled 1960s primitives as the Stooges and the VU through the Jesus and Mary Chain. Not technical innovation, per se, not instrumental skills, not necessarily even melodies, but guts. Guts to play like the music you're making is the greatest the world has ever heard even if deep down you suspect it'll take a few decades for everyone to catch on, if they ever do at all.

Like countless others, Miss Alex White & the Red Orchestra owe a debt to all of the above; needless to say, like those countless others, they don't come close to their idols, either. But Space & Time propels itself along with such heart, such swagger, and such, yes, guts that its shortcomings don't really matter. For a tidy half hour or so, it's the greatest thing in the world.

As befits White's placement on the In The Red roster, Space & Time begins pushing the limits of comfortable fidelity and rarely lets up for a breather for its duration. At a little over a minute long, "In the Snow" is all overdriven guitars, steady rumbling drums, pounding piano, and White's own attitude-drenched wail, dropping you right into the middle of the maelstrom, an audacious start to any record. As if to punctuate the point, the disc quickly continues with "I Dig History", just a few well chosen chords, repetitive bass, and enough of a racket (including some buried maracas) to make it a perfect set closer instead moved up front and shoved in your face.

Horns appear on "Future Talk", like the Stones at their most stoned with Jagger's vocals replaced with White's sweet but tough girl-group styled bark and an overdriven guitar solo that ultimately steamrolls over the brass honks and blurts. "I'm not sure I understand/ What it takes to be a man," White shouts out from the murk. "I don't know why you can't try," goes the withering payoff.

"Submarine" slows things down to a mere trot, Velvet Underground-style, the four-minute length downright epic compared to the bubblegum garage fuzz of "She Wanna", the galloping "Trash Bag", and the concentrated raw power of "Candy". Lest you think the pretty chords and opening tremolo of "Poison Arrow" will evince a change of pace, don't worry. Thirty seconds in it erupts into a more familiar squall.

The downside of such a gleefully abrasive back-to-basics devil-may-care parade is that any deviation from form, like the comparatively leisurely "Lips & Crime", comes off a relative drag. But those tiny little moments pass quickly. With 33 minutes to work with there's not a lot of room to mess around. Hell, keeping things so to the point while maintaining an over-the-top approach underscores that messing around is the last thing White and crew are up to.

Indeed, this is Delta Force rock delivered with a smile: In and out before you even know it, inflicting maximum damage and satisfaction while it's there before fading out. Your ears will hate you for it, but your heart will love you. And your guts, well, they'll churn in appreciation at the fun slash and burn guitar violence of it all.

-Joshua Klein, August 09, 2007

Hunter Shares Roaddog Stories In Plan B Magazine.

Above is an entertaining tour journal from Jana Hunter which appeares in the current issue of Everett True's Plan B magazine. Double click on the images to enlarge. Hunter goes back on the road this October opening for Devendra Banhart.

10/04 Nashville TN @ City Hall
10/06 Dallas @ Granada Theater
10/07 Austin @ La Zona Rosa

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Nancy Elizabeth Reviewed on Dusted.

Doug Mosurak checked out the new Nancy Elizabeth single on

Nancy Elizabeth
“Hey Son” b/w “Live By the Sea” 7”

Two short tastes here by a new UK folk singer with a decent, if familiar, vocal style (think Chan Marshall, really, a lot) and dour, studious backing musicians. “Hey Son” is the dirge, “Live By the Sea” the drone, and with its fields of harmonium and dreamlike plod, it's the winner of these two.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

More Angels Of Light Pre-Release Press.

A great pre-release Angels of Light We Are Him review posted on yesterday.

The Angels of Light, "We Are Him"
Written by Lucas Schleicher
Tuesday, 07 August 2007
Online Review

The sound of a western town at dawn gone mad with isolation, We Are Him is a
document of Gira's manic undulations through blues, country, blackened rock
'n' roll, and primal exorcism. It is a sullen, fallen, redemptive,
contradictory plea to touch the light and joy of God or to know that
suffering is our final and only fate.

The Angels of Light come to this record with all guns blazing: a brief and
dramatic piano run introduces a pulsing, violent, aquatic rhythm scored by
an erupting organ and a near prophetic vocal delivery. It's a stream of
sound that comes complete with undertow, its unrelenting stomp dragging the
music out towards the endless sway of the sea. "Black River Song" begins the
album in medias res, the tumult of what is to come foreshadowed by the
thick-veined madness in Gira's voice and the boiling hysteria in the band's
crashing skulls. The world has either come to an end or it is already
falling apart at the seams with paranoia, sickness, and red, red rivers.
When "Promise of Water" begins all the craze of We Are Him's opening song is
tempered; the gnashing of teeth is here a slow march through the desert with
the light of hope still lifting the world's feet forward. As the music
progresses, Gira and his entire cast of characters slowly transform day into
night and chart a slow decline into bitterness, resentment, and perpetual
doubt. Bit by bit the curtain begins to fall on the stage and then, in a
sudden and unexpected twist, the sun rises, the rain falls, and The Angels
of Light transform perverse chaos into celebration.

"Joseph's Song" turns the band on its head. A Beatle-esque brass section
opens the song up with a kind of brightness I wouldn't expect from anything
Gira touches. The lyrics betray the cheerful arrangement of the song, but
all in all it casts a new light upon the rest of the album, marking the end
of its descent and the beginning of its ascent towards something like
reconciliation. "We Are Him" begins with the celebratory chant, "Let him in
/ Let him in / Let him in" and is propelled by the country twang of a
silver-tongued guitar and a choir's bristling response to Gira's throaty
dirge. It's as though all the darkness of the first five tunes has been
temporarily alleviated, all inward movement directed outwards and upwards
towards the heavens. Even the languishing "Sometimes I Dream I'm Hurting
You" is colored by mention of prayer and love. As it pirouette's into an
organ sparked rock tune, Gira calls out for a flaming sword: if there must
be end, let us all hope we can accept it and slip into the fold of life
without hesitation.

There's little I can say about We Are Him that is negative. Akron/Family's
influence on Gira's music is more evident than ever, but his song-writing
ability is far beyond the band's own and the two talents exist in near total
harmony. Hearing Gira more fully embrace the country and blues roots of his
recent output is welcome and the songs are stronger for it. "The Man We Left
Behind" and "Star Chaser" are in competition with each other for song of the
year and both open their arms to the buzzing tilt of American music. If
there is anything to complain about, it's that some of the aggression on the
record sounds forced, especially in the case of "My Brother's Man." Gira's
lyricism has progressed since his sadistic chants to love and violence with
Swans, but now and again he deems it necessary to fall back on
self-destructing metaphors and unnecessarily crude deliveries. The
performances of many of these songs demonstrate profound intimacy and
delicacy, the nimble cadence of their procession is capable of reaching into
madness and joy more completely than any forced profanity could. Hearing him
deliver "Mary Lou / F-f-f-fuck you" with such a flat tone is disappointing
(almost embarrassing) when positioned next to the more effective subtlety of
"The Visitor."

The Angels of Light have, however, crafted their most perfect and
fully-realized album. Fans of New Mother and other purists might have my
head for such a comment, but after 25 years of near continuous output Gira
sounds most sure of himself on this record. The confidence in the music is
naked, its multi-faceted elements each shining through without hindrance.

Check out Michael Gira's special guest appearance on David Garland's WNYC show Spinning On Air. Michael preforms a number of solo songs (including "Promise of Water") along with being joined by the Akron/Family for a few Angels Of Light numbers and a Dylan cover.
Listen to full show:

Thursday, August 02, 2007

AHAAH Review On

A Hawk And A Hacksaw
The Hun Hangar Ensemble
Online review

Originally a member of Neutral Milk Hotel, Jeremy Barnes has been releasing Eastern-European influenced music for over half a decade now under the name A Hawk And A Hacksaw. Continuing his prolific pace of the past couple years (his The Way The Wind Blows came out last year, and his fourth full-length is expected in the relatively near future) The Hun Hangar Ensemble EP finds him teaming up with four Hungarian multi-instrumentalists for this aptly-titled mini-album. Limited to 4,000 copies, the release is eight songs and thirty minutes of what you'd expect from Barnes, with a few new wrinkles.

In addition to being joined by The Hun Hangar Ensemble, Barnes has been added Heather Trost as a full-time member of A Hawk And A Hacksaw, and the sheer density of musicians has allowed for much more elaborate arrangements on several songs of this release. After starting out with a more stripped-down track, things really get going with "Zozobra," a spastic klezmer-sounding track that finds pumping accordion mingling with drums, bagpipes, glockenspiel and a breakneck arrangement that emphasizes melody and rhythm with see-sawing effect.

"Serbian Cõcek" finds the group interpreting a traditional song with a load of bright horn arrangements while "Romanian Hora And Bulgar" is sort of a two-part track that emphasizes melancholy strings before a rowdy finale. Mixing both styles and instrumentation (as well as recording formats, with some tracks recorded live while others are studio), this eight-song set is about as varied as they come. All the songs tie together relatively well due to their influences and origins, but there's everything from "Vajdaszentivány" (a solo glockenspiel track of traditional Hungarian melodies) to the bagpipe-laced "Dudanotak."

In addition to the CD, the release comes with a DVD featuring over twenty minutes of footage from tours of the group from the past couple years that mainly acts as sort of an introduction to their music. Because of the varied nature of the songs on the release, it's hard to tell where the group will go from here. The more layered tracks (with the Hun Hangar Ensemble) are the pieces that show the most promise, so hopefully the next album from the group takes full advantage of the even more hands on deck. As mentioned above, it's strictly limited, so fans will probably want to snag this one up soon.
rating: 7.25

Damon & Naomi Tour And Album Announcement On Pitchfork.

Damon & Naomi reveal their future plans to Pitchfork today.

Boris / Kurihara / Damon & Naomi Tour Revealed
New Damon & Naomi album out in September
Online article

Boris have collaborated with Ghost's Michio Kurihara (see Rainbow), and so have former Galaxie 500 members Damon & Naomi. And now, all three acts have announced their previously mentioned tour together. The tour begins September 30 with an appearance in Chicago at The Wire's Adventures in Modern Music festival. Kurihara will serve double duty, as he'll be playing with both bands each night.

As for Damon & Naomi, they have a new album coming out September 25 on their own 20/20/20 label, titled Within These Walls. Naturally, it features Kurihara as a guest, in addition to contributions from Helena Espvall (Espers), Bhob Rainey (Nmperign), and Vashti Bunyan collaborators Margaret Wienk and Katt Hernandez.

Damon & Naomi - Within These Walls:

01 Lilac Land
02 The Well
03 On the Aventine
04 Within These Walls
05 Red Flower
06 Defibrillation
07 Stars Never Fade
08 A Silver Thread
09 The Turnaround
10 Cruel Queen

Boris, Kurihara, Damon & Naomi:

09/30 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle (Adventures in Modern Music)
10/02 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
10/03 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
10/04 Pittsburgh, PA @ Kelly-Strayhorn Theater
10/05 Columbus, OH @ Wexner Center for the Arts
10/06 Milwaukee, WI @ Mad Planet
10/07 Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
10/10 Bellingham, WA @ Nightlight Lounge
10/11 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
10/14 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
10/15 Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
10/18 San Antonio, TX @ The Ballroom
10/19 Austin, TX @ Scoot's Inn
10/20 Baton Rouge, LA @ The Spanish Moon
10/21 Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
10/22 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
10/23 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
10/24 Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle
10/25 Charlottesville, VA @ Satellite Ballroom
10/26 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
10/27 Annandale-on-Hudson, NY @ Bard College
10/28 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
10/29 Boston, MA @ Middle East Downstairs

Matteah Baim Reviewed In Mojo Mag.

Matteah Baim's Death Of A Sun received three glorious stars in the August issue of Mojo Magazine. Look out for Baim opening select dates for Devendra Banhart this September.

09/18 Chicago, IL @ Portage Theater
09/19 Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theater
09/21 Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
09/22 Montreal, QC @ Theatre National
09/23 Burlington, VT @ U of VT Davis Center Grand Ballroom
09/25 Boston, MA @ Roxy Ballroom
09/27 New York, NY @ Grand Ballroom
09/29 Philadelphia, PA @ Theater of living arts
10/01 Washington DC @ Sixth and I Historic Synagogue

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Press Quotes For Patrick Cleandenim

Word is spreading about Patrick Cleandenim's new album on Ba Da Bing. Here's a sampling of what the young songsmith has received so far:

“I honestly can't imagine how Patrick Cleandenim will ever be able to follow this work up, as debuts of this caliber are pretty rare. No use worrying about that now, however, as this album has far from overstayed its welcome in my CD player. Baby Come Home is one of those records that reveals itself a little more with each listen, and I'm still listening” Other Music (NYC)

“He enlisted a cast of old pals and some music students and this timeless, cracking album resulted….The collision of expansive arrangements, smart songwriting and slightly amateurish sound quality makes for something truly original” (The Times)

“Music that swings (remember that?), all sleighbells, vibraphone, and sophisticated brass and vocal parts, topped off by Cleandenim's rich delivery and lush strings, testament to his skills as a classic-pop arranger based on an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from Motown to movie soundtracks to gritty mid-60s R&B.”
(The Guardian)

“An unexpected gem of an album” (WORD magazine)

“This newcomer has created a songbook with class, Rat Pack sass and a self assuredness that will make the Scissor Sisters check their shadow” (The Stool Pigeon)

“Cleandenim has crafted a magnificent album” (Alternative Ulster)

“Like debuts by The Strokes, Oasis, and even The Beatles, Baby Comes Home is a wall-to-wall clinic in songwriting…It’s an instant classic – a page from pop’s golden era brought to life in the 21st century” (Daytrotter)

.“Patrick Cleandenim will remind you of The Association, David Axelrod, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Darin, Prefab Sprout, early Todd Rundgren, ELO with soul and any number of legendary Brill Building singers and songwriters. The connection between The Delfonics and Rufus Wainwright, Cleandenim's debut is big and sweeping and oh so Sixties. The stunning album is called Baby Comes Home “(Some Velvet Blog)

“it's certainly only a matter of time before Patrick Cleandenim's big tunes are big news.” (Turn The Page)

“'Baby Comes Home' is so utterly accomplished, it comes over like a master-class in songwriting, albeit a very enjoyable one.” (Urban Junkies)

“For the second year in a row, it seems that the small Ba Da Bing! Records has a big time winner on its hands.. Who knows where he'll go from here, but this is one heck of a great start.” (Almost Cool)

“one of the most authentic pop albums in what feels like decades.” (Rant Magazine)

“Like Scott Walker joining arms with Divine Comedy, 'Baby Comes Home' has a depth and eloquence above and beyond.” (Flux)

“Patrick Cleandenim is an orchestral pop prodigy and Baby Comes Home should be your new best friend” (Swell)