Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dusted Stacks The Opposing Elements With Hexlove.

Dusted Reviews
Artist: Hexlove

Album: Knew Abloom (Life's Hood)
Label: Holy Mountain
Review date: Jan. 30, 2008
Original review

Illinois native/California resident Zac Nelson is a drummer by trade, and fills that chair as a member of both Who’s Your Favorite Son, God? and Prints. Ever the multi-tasker, though, he also finds the time to run rhythm (and everything else, really) as Hexlove, a rather expansive solo project in which he focuses on oft-overstuffed pop miniatures that always teeter on the brink of a perilous explosion.

The 11 tracks that make up Knew Abloom (Life’s Hood), Nelson’s first disc for the Holy Mountain label, sound like they were spilled to tape as quickly as the ideas behind them were birthed. Hexlove’s creativity is boundless for sure, and with his manic drumming often as the backbone, each song here rifles through bizarre lexicons of outsider pop, spasmodic free jazz, and endlessly expansive psych moves, cramming more into quick two-minute snatches than most modern psych-jammers manage to bequeath in a pair of album sides.

While much of the disc threatens to boil over its nervous energy, Nelson still has a knack for crafting generally gorgeous mood pieces that pastiche intuitive percussion and shimmering strings into the subliminally transcendent. Tracks like “Hold Her, Sees Crane” best exemplify the man’s particular strengths, as a staggered, melodic guitar line and constantly bounding percussion gradually work to a unified climax near the piece’s end.

In one sense, then, that’s a large part of Hexlove’s most successful trick – stacking opposing elements to see how many steps it takes to bring them together. It’s something he works just as capably on “Pepper Hurts,” as carnival-esque asides mingle with an insistently shifting rhythm. The two find a quick communion near the track’s end, only to give way to a nimble drumbeat and several different cuts of Nelson’s voice.

The clear highlights in all of this, however, are “Excepting Eternity in the Relationship” and “Excepting Eternity in the Stretch,” together a miniature two-part suite that finds Nelson relaxed enough to, at long last, give his multitude of ideas enough room to breathe. During the first part, the drums slacken their pace while the guitars laze about, providing a laconic counterpoint to the growing cacophony of multi-tracked voices that swell beneath. Decidedly more euphoric, the album closes on extraterrestrial droning and scattershot drums of “Stretch,” gradually working to a climax after a patient exploration of all possible intersections.

If there is something for which to fault Nelson on Knew Abloom, then maybe it’s his oft-restless spirit, one that seems to derail potentially great ideas after a scant minute or two. The album’s finest moments are undoubtedly its longest ones, those in which Hexlove manages to find the pulse in an inspirational piece of drumming or guitar and pull it out over a few minutes, exhausting possibilities across a number of different tonal and rhythmic variations. It’s a minor complaint, though, and one that doesn’t even remotely stop Knew Abloom from being a pretty great listen from a prodigiously talented dude.

By Michael Crumsho

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mammoth Words For A Prolific Guy - Richard Youngs Interviewed On Pitchfork

Tue: 01-29-08
Interview: Richard Youngs
Interview by Grayson Currin
Original post

Richard Youngs is a 41-year-old librarian's assistant living in Glasgow. He and his wife, Madeline Hynes, have a new baby boy in the house, and, since his arrival, they sometimes spend evenings listening to Gregorian chants. Youngs wrote a vegan cookbook in the mid-90s, and it was re-published in 2001 with illustrations by Hynes. Such a life-- steady job, progeny, a productive hobby-- seems sufficient.

Except Youngs has another hobby: Since the release of a solo album, Advent, and a collaboration with Simon Wickham-Smith, Lake, in 1990, Richard Youngs has appeared on well over 100 releases on labels as small as his own and as big as Jagjaguwar. His collaborators include Jandek, Acid Mothers Temple's Kawabata Makoto, Vibracathedral Orchestra/Astral Social Club member Neil Campbell, and Skullflower's Matthew Bower. He runs No Fans, his second label, from his kitchen table, and he masters records by his friends. Later this month, he'll complete his first remix, a reinterpretation of a new Astral Social Club seven-inch.

Indeed, Youngs' massive body of after-work recordings is one of the richest and most intriguing collections of the past two decades. He seems as tireless as he does fearless, recording much more than he releases, he says, and moving openly between instruments, roles and forms. Youngs has recorded exquisite 18-minute guitar-and-voice pieces (see "The Graze of Days" from Sapphie) and puncturing 12-minute electronics experiments (see "Alban Stands Here" from Festival). But whether he's engaging acoustic or electronic, harmonic or harsh, collaborative or cloistered muses, he has gone about this creation with middle-class humility. He's put in a lot of work over a long time, and he's content just to be able to continue working. After all, it's the hurdy gurdy he'd like to explore most in the future: "But they're hard to come by, you know? Cost a lot of money."

Pitchfork: Something that interests me about your career is that it's not a career. You record a lot of music, and sometimes it fits together as an album. In the day, though, you work as a librarian.

Richard Youngs: I know what you're saying. I've always recorded, probably since I was about 10 or 11. I got hold of a reel-to-reel and you could change speed on it. I always kind of experimented back then with the thing. For at least a decade, I made music for my own enjoyment, completely different from any wider public. Maybe a few friends were entrusted, and then, having released Advent and Lake, I suddenly found that there was a public for this music. Other people wanted to put stuff out, so that was quite a change-- a very exciting change. I carried on as I had done before, but I had the opportunity to put records out. A record is a very nice thing. You've recorded something, and you have a record. It's closure on it, if you know what I mean. It excited me. It felt good.

Pitchfork: How do you feel about that physical byproduct of your hobby slowly becoming obsolete? I'm holding a copy of your latest album, Autumn Response, in my hands, but I could have just put it on my computer.

RY: With downloads, you mean? I've never downloaded music in my life, so it's strange. I remember growing up and to get music was really quite a process. I might hear something on John Peel or on an open university program, and then I'd have to make a trip to London and go to a specialist record store and part with hard-earned money. You know, I was cleaning my parents' house for this money. I'm a teenager here. You then get it back to your home. There would be a record player in the living room. It wouldn't be like the computer in your bedroom. And you get your chance in the living room to actually play the record. It made that record something you'd worked hard for, and it was a treat to play it. If you're downloading, I guess your relationship with it is different. Maybe it is more like reading a newspaper-- now what is the music for today? Then again, you could come across stuff that would be really special to you, and you'd play the download lots, I guess. Do you download?

Pitchfork: I do, but, like you, I'm still fond of the physical product. I still buy a lot of records. Holding music is quite an experience, you know?

RY: I think it is. Things have changed, and I probably haven't changed. I'm stuck in the past.

Pitchfork: Do you think that physical tie to music reflects itself in your job as a librarian?

RY: I work in a reference library, and there certainly is a lot of use made of resources that aren't physical. You might have online resources or resources on a CD-ROM, which you don't really hold. But there is the joy of the clunk of the microfilm or a nicely bound book.

Pitchfork: You called someone wanting to release your music "a change." Was it also a surprise?

RY: Oh, yes! Total. This was pre-internet days, and there wasn't the community out there which was easily accessible. Growing up in a small town and moving to Nottingham, which is like a city-- or is it a town, actually? It's a larger place from where I grew up. I did come across people who were interested, but it was just a handful of friends. I didn't really conceive that there would be other people. It was a social thing, something we did to amuse each other-- making music.

Pitchfork: How did it pass to the next level?

RY: Forced Exposure gave rave reviews to Advent and Lake. They suggested that we [Youngs and Simon Wickham-Smith] record them a single for their label. We recorded quite a few tracks and said, "Just choose what you want." Jimmy Johnson wrote back and said, "Why don't you just record a bit more and make it an album?" [Laughs] Pretty mind-blowing at the time. We did, and then he went on to release a couple of other things as well. He started suggesting us to people who wanted to do likewise, which was really quite something.

Pitchfork: Had you simply submitted those records to Forced Exposure?

RY: We were aware of Forced Exposure, and it was a very exciting magazine. You'd read about these records, and the way they were written about, you just wanted to hear them. Of course, it was very hard to get hold of the records, so you were reading about things you'd probably never hear. We were sitting on 300 records, and Simon said, "I'll send 'em. They might refuse 'em." That was that. He just sent them. We didn't know who else to send them to for review, and the rest is history.

Pitchfork: I'm quite younger than you, and I often hear stories from older music fans about reading about obscure records as kids and being fascinated but still not hearing them, even now. If you would have heard the records you were reading about then, do you think the sounds you've made would be different?

RY: That's an interesting one because back then you were probably exposed to a lot less. How old are you?

Pitchfork: 24.

RY: Oh, then you've probably grown up listening and had good access to quite a variety of stuff. Don't think we had that! There was the John Peel Show, and in Britain there were programs very late at night or very early in the morning through the open university. They would do a program on Stockhausen or Gaelic singing. This was stuff you'd never hear otherwise. John Peel played records you'd never hear otherwise. You came at stuff in a different way. I think one of the differences was that there was a certain filtering done for you, perhaps, where now you can just go online and surf, surf, surf away and come across stuff you wouldn't have come across back then. It's very hard to compare times, and I don't want to make out I'm some fuddy-duddy. But I don't download. Actually, as I've gotten older, I listen to less and less music. There comes a point where you get favorites which you go back to. The chance for music to shock you-- like, "Wow, that's something I've never heard before."-- becomes less and less. You don't hunt for new sounds quite so vigorously.

Pitchfork: Do you remember the last time a record shocked you?

RY: Yeah, yeah. My friend John Clyde-Evans sent me some recordings he had made. He went to India for a year. He always played very harmonic music. He went to India for a year, and your expectation might be that it would further mellow what was there. But he started making very harsh, brittle, shrieking music-- very strange. He's released a couple of these recordings, but I've got a CD-R that hasn't been released that he burned for me. I think it's the most definitive take on this period he's going through with music. It's very stately, and there are a lot of quite unpleasant sounds in there. It's quite unlike anything else, I think.

Pitchfork: And what are the records to which you return?

RY:In the last year, I've been listening to a lot of Gregorian chants. I've got a baby boy, and it was one way that seemed to improve his sleep. We just started playing Gregorian chants at night and grew to really like it. In terms of rock and pop, Syd Barrett's first solo album I think I can come back to endlessly. I think the songs are really rich. It's got a lot of beauty to it. I've got possibly unquestioning love for Pink Floyd. It's one of the first things I ever heard in my parent's space. The Meddle album I really like and come back to a lot. When I was a teenager, I listened to Cabaret Voltaire and [Einstürzende] Neubauten, and I like to hear that once in a while now. I think, "That's exciting stuff," but I'm not sure I'd come back to it too often. It would be an occasional pleasure certainly, as would Metal Box by Public Image Ltd. Steve Reich...Anne Briggs.

Pitchfork: I've seen you mention Pink Floyd as an influence several times. What first struck you about that band?

RY: The first stuff I heard was the early singles. The next thing I heard after that was Animals, which was several years later. I heard "See Emily Play," and I thought that was all they had ever done. I didn't realize they had a career. I moved away from Cambridge and someone had Animals. It was very different. I remember playing along with Animals a lot. But if you asked me now what I liked about Pink Floyd, it would be the period from Atom Heart Mother through to Meddle, when they were just four middle class guys making music. They weren't necessarily writing songs or making concepts. They were just making music. Meddle is a really good example of that. You've got your side of songs, and then you've got a longer piece on the other side. It possibly doesn't all fit together, but it's all just very enjoyable. There's that video, Live at Pompeii, and I love that. Again, it seemed to me to be a fortnight just making music.

Pitchfork: The way you described Pink Floyd, it almost sounds like you're describing yourself, in terms of recording what you want.

RY: I'd go along with that. The other thing would be why wouldn't you make what interests you? Why would you make something that doesn't interest you? I might want to sing unaccompanied, or I might want to ram 24 instruments over one another. Whatever I want to do at the time, I'm free to do. I'm not chained to any preconceptions…or having to make any particular type of music. There are songs and more experimental elements, so whatever.

Pitchfork: Does it surprise you then that people still want to put these records out?

RY: I think so. If you do songs and people respond positively, that's very nice. It is a nice surprise.

Pitchfork: With John Clyde-Evans, you mentioned this movement from pretty to harsh music. There are a lot of examples of that in your music, like the abrupt movement between noise and a very beautiful acoustic track on your album with Kawabata Makoto. Is this a conscious thing for you, sort of a reflection on life?

RY: I don't know. I think it's reflective of the way the recordings turned out and nothing else. [Laughs] But life's very rich, isn't it? But I have quite a short attention span, maybe, so I get bored and frustrated. I go mad if I stick to one thing.

Pitchfork: Must be nice to have friends who want to make music with you then.

RY: It is, yes. I have a couple of regular sessions in Glasgow. One with a friend Andrew Paine and another with Alex Nielson. They're duos. It's very nice, and it's a social thing as well. It's not just business. Some people play golf. We play music. It's very much a part of my social life.

Pitchfork: When did music first become a social outlet for you?

RY: It would have been at school. We were probably about 11 or 12, and we called ourselves the Rejects. We had a drum kit built out of Tupperware and meccano, and we had some acoustic guitars which we strummed. There was four of us. They were very much songs-- three verses, chorus. I had classical lessons, and I didn't know any regular chords for quite a while. It was always a bit of a mystery how people wrote pop songs with chords, so I remember struggling quite a bit to come up with songs with chords. I was holding down two open strings and just one fret. I wanted that chord sound, but I couldn't quite get it.

Pitchfork: Did you have the normal adolescent rock-star dreams?

RY: No, I don't think so. I probably wanted to be able to make a different sound than I was managing to make. "Wow, wouldn't it be great to have an electric guitar and sound powerful? Wouldn't it be great to record with a certain degree of fidelity which I'm not getting at the moment?" Those were my thoughts of the moment.

Pitchfork: Have you ever dreamed of at least making music your career? Or, if someone offered you $100,000 for a record, would you take it?

RY: [Laughs] It's hugely hypothetical, but I've kind of drifted into having some sort music or recording career, I suppose. I certainly would be very interested in the offer. I'm sure there would be conditions attached to it, but, yeah, find me that person, and I'll talk to them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Three Imaginary Girls Reviews White Williams' Debut Album.

White Williams —Smoke
Original post
There is a lot to be said for taking things easy, to stay relaxed and to not let things get to you. This is especially true if you have a lot of eggs in your basket, and Joe Williams, the man behind White Williams, has eggs a plenty. Not only is he a singer, musician and graphic artist, but also he’s been busy touring with the likes of Girl Talk. Smoke, the debut album from White Williams is pretty much what you might expect when you look at the garish cover of the disc, the sort of music that you might expect to be playing when you a little bit off your head after inhaling a little smoke – whatever smoke that might be.

If anything can be said for Smoke is that its relaxed to the point of sleepiness. White Williams seems to thrive in that zone of lurid disco-funk and glam-rock that is an extension Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie. This is readily apparent from the opening track “Headlines,” a song that could feel very comfortable on the soundtrack to Velvet Goldmine, taking glam rock and blending it effortlessly with a slow R&B jam. This formula is repeated with varying results, like “In the Club” that sounds like an extremely forced Bowie homage (and remarkably similar to be much smoother “Headlines”) or “Danger,” which is a little more Gary Numan than Bowie, but still in that same arena. White Williams break away a bit on “Going Down,” a track that comes across more like a subdued revision of !!!, lacking the frenetic pacing of the !!! and replacing it was a mellow rhythm that works surprisingly well. There are some rather odd turns, like the cover of Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” that is turned into something like might here in a low budget porn flick rather than pop radio, becoming more like trance-rock, putting the song on a heavy dose of Quaaludes – effectively removing the infectious energy of the ‘80s original. However, White Williams does win back some points with “Route to Palm,” a real charmer that is catchy and energetic without being chaotic, almost as if he wanted to write a indie-pop classic rather than stick with the glam rock formula.

Smoke is an album chock full ‘o smooth grooves that are locked into the ‘70s and ‘80s new wave and glam rock dimension. This kind of leads to a overall tone to the album that doesn’t waver too much from its goal, yet at times feels a little forced and repetitive. However, through it all, you can hear many good things in the White Williams sound, especially when he lets it vary from his obvious influences.
-Erik Gonzalez, January 16, 2008

The White Willimas band just hit the West Coast leg of their US tour. Still lots of dates to go.

01/24 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
01/25 Portland, OR @ Holocene
01/26 San Francisco, CA @ Cafe du Nord
01/27 Los Angeles, CA @ Echo
01/29 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
01/31 Austin, TX @ Emo's
02/01 Denton, TX @ Hailey's
02/02 Houston, TX @ Walter's on Washington
02/04 Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder (FSU)
02/05 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn (MJQ Concourse)
02/07 Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
02/08 Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
02/09 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's

The Dirtbombs New Album & Tour Announced On Tiny Mix Tapes.

The Dirtbombs Ready To Explode With A New LP & Tour. Do You Get The Whole Bomb Thing & The Fact That They Explode?

This could be quite the banner year for many established Detroit bands. Along with those rumors of a Jack White solo and/or Raconteurs album this year, we in the TMT newsroom also have more concrete info regarding releases from The Von Bondies, Pas/Cal, SSM, and others. But none of that should fill your heart with excitement like the news of a brand new LP from one of the local masters of rock ‘n’ roll and R&B (think Ike Turner, not Akon), Mick Collins. His current band, The Dirtbombs, are scheduled to release their fourth proper full-length record, We Have You Surrounded, February 19 via In The Red Records.

The 12-track platter, the band’s first since their 2005 clearinghouse odds & sods LP, If You Don’t Already Have A Look (In The Red), will no doubt be another raw, powerful, and moving (as in your ass) album from a man who has yet to disappoint. The title, We Have You Surrounded, could be a proper way of describing, sonically, The Dirtbombs’ live show. Two drummers (Ben Blackwell, Pat Pantano), two bass players (Troy Gregory, Ko Melina), and Collins front and center, blasting forth, as the sound fills every nook and cranny of the room, much louder and more enjoyable than most punk bands ever could be.

Don’t believe me? Your next chance to check them out will be coming soon. The band will be embarking on a small Midwest tour in late February, followed by a nine-day Australian excursion and a bigger tour of the U.S. East Coast in March and April. Western U.S. dates should be forthcoming as well, so stay tuned here for all the latest.

We Have You Surrounded tracklist:

1. It’s Not Fun Until They See You Cry 2. Ever Lovin Man 3. Indivisible 4. Sherlock Holmes 5. Wreck My Flow 6. Leopardman at C & A 7. Fire in the Western World 8. Pretty Princess Day 9. I Hear the Sirens 10. They Have Us Surrounded 11. Race to the Bottom 12. La Fin du Monde


02.16.08 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
02.21.08 - Chicago, IL - Double Door
02.22.08 - Iowa City, IA - Picador
02.23.08 - Beloit, WI - Pearson Hall (Beloit College)
02.29.08 - Melbourne, VIC, AU - The Tote
03.01.08 - Perth, WA, AU - Amplifier
03.02.08 - Adelaide, SA, AU - Rocket Bar
03.04.08 - Geelong, VIC, AU - Barwon Club
03.05.08 - Brisbane, QLD, AU - Phoenix
03.06.08 - Hobart, TAS, AU - The Brisbane
03.07.08 - Melbourne, VIC, AU - East Brunswick Club
03.08.08 - Sydney, NSW, AU - Oxford
03.09.08 - Melbourne, VIC, AU - Golden Plains Festival
03.21.08 - Bloomington, IN - Jake’s Nightclub*
03.22.08 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge*
03.24.08 - Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone Cafe*
03.25.08 - Little Rock, AR - Revolution Music Room*
03.26.08 - Dallas, TX - House of Blues (Cambridge Room)*
03.27.08 - Austin, TX - Emo’s Alternative Lounging*
03.28.08 - Houston, TX - Rudyard’s British Pub*
03.29.08 - New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jacks*
03.31.08 - Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel*
04.01.08 - Birmingham, AL - Bottle Tree*
04.02.08 - Atlanta, GA - The EARL*
04.03.08 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506*
04.04.08 - Baltimore, MD - Sonar*
04.05.08 - Washington, DC - The Rock and Roll Hotel*
04.06.08 - Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell’s*
04.08.08 - New Haven, CT - Cafe Nine*
04.10.08 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s*
04.11.08 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom*
04.12.08 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East*
04.13.08 - Montreal, QUE - Cabaret Music Hall*
04.15.08 - Ottawa, ONT - Babylon*
04.16.08 - Toronto, ONT - Legendary Horseshoe Tavern*
04.18.08 - Toledo, OH - Frankie’s*
04.19.08 - Ann Arbor, MI - Blind Pig*

* Kelley Stoltz
Posted by C. Schell on 01-14-2008

'Underdog' live off the Ultraglide In Black album.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Efterklang Video Posted On Pitchfork

An amazing video for Efterklang's "Illuminant" was posted on Pitchfork yesterday. Efterklang will spend February and March on a headlining tour of Europe and will continue to tour throughout most of 2008. Hopefully the band will make their way to the US this fall.

Video: Efterklang: "Illuminant"

This is gorgeous, really, every frame of this thing has something to take in. Yeah, the floating babies and two-headed men are familiar "weird video" territory, but the rich colors and mind-blowing detail make that easy to forget. Tobias Stretch, combining bits of Kubrick and Gondry in just the right proportions, directs. A higher resolution version is available on his webiste. This is the best way to hear Efterklang's music.

Monday, January 14, 2008

7.2 Intelligence Review on Pitchfork Today.

The Intelligence
[In the Red; 2007]
Rating: 7.2
Original review

As a title for the Intelligence's third album, Deuteronomy hints that it's time to lay down some laws in frontman Lars Finberg's recurring dystopian mayhem. Most notable for contributing vitriolic vocals to post-apocalyptic fetishists the A-Frames, the multi-instrumentalist Finberg has quit his job as doomsday herald to devote undivided attention towards Intelligence, which had previously subsisted on scrappy home recordings and spotty touring. Recorded in an actual studio, Deuteronomy's easily Finberg's tidiest, most civilized work, and it even retains most of his signature post-punk bile. Whereas his previous catalog glorified a cinematic, Terminator-like take on the future, here he's channeling something more like Total Recall or "Futurama"-- society's not succumbing to chaos, but it's rife with some pretty fucked up elements.

Finberg's clearly earned his lambskin from the school of asshole rock, and recent tour dates with the Fall have only amplified his Mark E. Smith malaise. Deuteronomy's filled with uncharacteristically catchy songs for Finberg, many of them reminiscent of the Fall circa Grotesque (After the Gramme), the Cramps' mutant rockabilly, or Brainiac's surf cyborg wipeout. However, despite an array of ear-grabbing instrumentation and Finberg's frugal use of yelling and screaming, the vocals make a concerted effort not to touch upon any accessible melodies. The easy-going ditty "Tubes", for example, bops along an organ vamp copping "96 Tears", but instead of climaxing at a hummable chorus, the song peaks with Finberg shrieking a nasally "Fuck!"

Oddly enough, Finberg cites the Zombies and Bee Gees as Deuteronomy's key influences, a statement that initially sounds ridiculous until you realize how loose and playful the album is in relation to earlier works. "Secret Signals" begins like so much garden variety post-punk getting exorcised these days-- the drums/bass/guitar arrangement sterile and predictable, the rhythm stubbornly four-on-the-floor-- but then Finberg unleashes a bluesy, chopped-up chorus that's probably his best approximation of a song like "Care of Cell 44"'s complex chord changes. Some tracks here, when stripped of their strident noise rock exterior, even resemble some of rock's earliest and kookiest personalities. The eerie haunted house organ on "Block of Ice" and "How to Improve Your Hearing Without Listening"-- coupled with Finberg's crazed howls-- channels Screamin' Jay Hawkins, while the cosmic surf riffs on "Our Solar System" and "The Outer Echelon" recall so many 60s sci-fi program themes.

Despite the newfound color in his songwriting, Finberg's still pissed off as ever. Unlike previous releases, though, Deuteronomy doesn't feel like one homogeneous rant, but rather a newly reformed psychopath hesitantly giving society a second chance. His scowl's always been equal parts tongue-in-cheek and fury, but Finberg really sounds like he's having fun here and, when the rhythm moves him, sexy to boot. Rising from the ashes of Finberg's apocalyptic oeuvre, the revamped Intelligence has become the best display of the journeyman's talents to date, worthy of being elevated from pet project to full-time gig.
-Adam Moerder, January 14, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sole Feature In The OC Weekly & Lots & Lots of Tour Dates.

Saved by Lord Byron and Lil Wayne
Sole and the Skyrider Band find poetry in the darkness


Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 2:10 pm
Original review

Lord Byron and Lil Wayne saved Sole.The 30-year-old rapper—who co-founded the young, gifted and white post-hip-hop collective Anticon—was over it. "I almost quit rapping," he admits. "I was like, 'Should I move on to [writing] books and get a degree?'"

Since it came into being a decade ago, Anticon has existed as a kind of parallel universe of hip-hop: white, bling-free, conscious, sometimes more electronic than soulful, but always interesting, as much like Warp as Def Jux.

Back in '98, Sole was just Tim Holland, a 17-year-old high school kid in Maine with a taste for Beat poets and other alt-lit to match his white-suburban fascination with rap. He was also a computer prodigy, so when he and fellow poetry-slam rapper Brendon Whitney (Alias) decided to move to Oakland and found their own hip-hop label, Holland took a 50k IT gig to finance the venture.

The press had a field day when the first Anticon group photos appeared: a bunch of Caucasian geeks in their thrift-store best, mugging like the Gamers Club in the back of any suburban high-school yearbook. And this when Eminem was hitting. "When people can't figure it out, you get this sort of backhanded criticism, like, 'Wacky white-boy backpacker-hop,'" Sole says, sighing. "Because it's not an easy story. It's a lot easier to tell the Joanna Newsom story," he jokes.

Anticon music, however, is no joke, even if at times it seems so. Unflinchingly indulgent and challenging, its artists vary wildly and tend to reinvent themselves with every record. "It's like a No Limit or Matador, where it's reached a level of respect," Sole muses. "But Alias sounds different every record depending on who he's working with; it could be a girl or a horn player. And SJ Esau is more like the Decemberists."

And Sole's own stuff? "It's not 'beatnik-apocalyptic-jazz,'" he says sarcastically, aping the kind of alt-press hyphenates with which he's been tagged over the years.

Previous Sole efforts have been all over the place, his flow often not even bothering to rhyme. "There was a time when I thought rhyming was really constrictive."

This is when the LL (Lord Byron and Lil Wayne) saved his Cool J. "When I was living in Spain, I'd read Byron all the time, and his rhyming was just ridiculous, like seven syllables," he says. "It's not like I traced rap back to Romantic poets, but I started thinking of rhyme as something more than just clever." That's when Lil Wayne came in. "He did this one mixtape thing, The Drought 2: It's, like, him rapping for two hours. He uses his New Orleans drawl to make shit rhyme that you never think would."

Of 2007's Sole and the Skyrider Band, his collaboration with Florida soundscape trio Skyrider, Sole says, "This was supposed to be my pop record," though from the lonely violins, high-plains melodica and street-person tirades (most of which do rhyme), it's anything but. "Somewhere along the line, it got pretty dark," he concedes. No shit.

Take "Nothing Is Free": "You can't feel new, nothing is free/You can't clean every toilet in the city/You can't be 30 and still making hip-hop/You can't kill God with a slingshot."

"The writing, to me, isn't very cerebral. I'll have six beats going at once and write four lines for each of them, just jumping back and forth," he says. "I don't write every day. What I do is kind of repress everything and just think and read and come up with an internal philosophy, something I can use to sort of reconcile myself to the world."

He's found a perfect backdrop/trampoline with Skyrider. "I'm really into gaudy, orchestral shit—drawn-out strings, brooding guitars," Sole says. "We just kept trying to make everything as full as it was melodic. I guess I'm just a dark person. . . . It all goes back to Beth Gibbons," he jokes, noting his infatuation with Portishead back in the day.

To lighten up a bit, he plans on moving to SoCal after this tour.

"I want a garden that doesn't die every year. Where I live now [rural Sedona, Arizona], it's just like a cultural void. I mean, for fun, people go shooting," he says. "I'm a little hungry right now for tons of shit going on."

01/16 San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
01/17 Pomona, CA @ Glasshouse
01/18 Los Angeles, CA @ The Knitting Factory
01/19 Phoenix, AZ @ Modified Arts
01/21 Tucson, AZ @ Plush
01/23 Santa Fe, NM @ High Mayhem
01/24 San Antonio, TX @ The Roadhouse Saloon
01/25 Austin, TX @ Emo's
01/26 Houston, TX @ Proletariat
01/28 Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
01/29 Pensacola, FL @ Sluggo's
01/30 Miami, FL @ PS-14
01/31 Orlando, FL @ Will's Pub
02/01 Atlanta, GA @ Lenny's Bar
02/02 Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
02/03 Knoxville, TN @ The Pilot Light
02/04 Raleigh, NC @ Downtown Events Center
02/05 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
02/06 Baltimore, MD @ Talking Head
02/07 Philadelphia, PA @ Khyber Pass
02/08 New York, NY @ Knitting Factory Tap Bar
02/09 Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands Gallery
02/10 Buffalo, NY @ Soundlab
02/12 Purchase, NY @ Suny Purchase (w/ The Apes)
02/13 Montreal, QC @ Zoobizarre
02/14 Portland, ME @ The Space
02/15 Boston, MA @ Harpers Ferry (w/ The Apes)
02/16 Providence, RI @ The Living Room
02/18 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
02/19 Pittsburgh, PA @ Garfield Artworks
02/20 Detroit, MI @ Scrummage University
02/21 Lansing, MI @ Mac's Bar
02/22 Chicago, IL @ Abbey Pub
02/23 Minneapolis, MN @ The Uptown Bar and Cafe
02/24 Iowa City, IA @ The Picador
02/26 Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
02/27 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
02/28 Missoula, MT @ Badlander
02/29 Seattle, WA @ The Nectar Lounge
03/01 Portland, OR @ Rotture
03/02 Eugene, OR @ W.O.W. Hall
03/04 Eureka, CA @ The Vista
03/06 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill
03/07 Visalia, CA @ Howie and Sons Pizza

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

John Wolfington NYC Residency Shows.

John Wolfington holds down a residency at Googies Lounge this month. Wolfington's sophomore full-length album American Dreamsicle features Steve Shelley (of Sonic Youth) on drums and Tim Foljahn (of Two Dollar Guitar) on bass. CD or double vinyl LP are available now.

Monday, January 07, 2008

'Tis The Season For Murcof According to Tiny Mix Tapes.


[Leaf; 2007]

Styles: musique concrète, electronic composition

Others: György Ligeti, JLIAT

Original review

The holiday season is here once again. Snow is settling quietly outside, stockings are being hung, kitchens are thick with the smell of mince pies. Lists are checked and gifts are bought: it's a time for giving, while we grind our teeth into a fine powder, dredging up the willpower to maintain selfless affection for three sanctioned weeks.

My December is being spent as usual: rounding up waifs and vagrants on the street and ushering them into my beautiful manor, where I can sing carols at them and wash their feet with my hair. After being invited into the dining hall for an afternoon meal, watching Wentworth lift the pewter covers from each platter, one of the little wretches piped in.

"What…what is that?"

The audacity! The cheek! The nerve of the boy! As I was uncovering my bejeweled walking stick to administer a beating the likes of which he would never forget, Wentworth began to describe what lay before them. "Cosmos, sir…" he began with a sneer.

"Drained from the melodic juices of previous works, Cosmos is left to bubble atop of a seething pan of sharp shards of metal, to be later buttered with a mechanical hum. It is then combined with the corpse of Hungarian composer György Ligeti and left on a light simmer, shucking the traditional use of samples for a variation of musique concrète, as organic sounds and original classical instruments are fed into the meal.

"We then make sure to thin all acoustic elements until they become an almost unrecognizable porridge of lock grooves and mathematical precision. Strings are layered overtop of a vast recess of humming silence: a conceptual interpretation of a cosmos that is occasionally sparked to life with the sloth-like passing of a pebble, curving with gravity, only to be plucked back into a black pool of space minutes later, leaving you to dip your toes into the sucking whirlpools of yet even more echoing silence. Once fully cooked in polytonal vibration, this is to be served as a giant, faceless black monolith. Not to be eaten, of course, but to stare down at you forebodingly until you begin to cry."

The look of doe-eyed panic befell them as they recoiled in terror and bolted in to the white afterglow of the frozen streets.

It's the same thing every year.

1. Cuerpo Celeste

2. Cielo

3. Cosmos - (I)

4. Cometa

5. Cosmos - (II)

6. Oort

by Cor Limey

Friday, January 04, 2008

2006 Birdman Feature Worth Revisiting.

Here's an article about archiving obscure Delta blues that focuses on Dave Katznelson of the Birdman label. The feature originally ran in the SF Weekly over a year ago. So what if it's 2008.

From the Devil's Music to God's Country
Local label Birdman connects with divine gospel


Published: December 27, 2006

The folk-blues revival of the 1950s and '60s generated an awful lot of crappy music made by earnest kids; this is fact, as clearly documented in the film A Mighty Wind. But the revival also empowered dozens of people to arm themselves with tape recorders and go forth in an effort to record the source of this music, a bunch of little DIY John and Alan Lomaxes. These well-meaning folks were often part academics (taking detailed, census-type notes or tracing every single variant of individual Appalachian ballads) and part cons (perhaps adding their own names to publishing rights on songs they never wrote, or paying for a phenomenal recording with a shot of whiskey). At the risk of sounding corny, a few were simply record-collector enthusiasts obsessed and in love with American music and intent on finding its living, breathing source — or at least its remnants — and who were perhaps not against partying with and befriending these musicians once they found them.

Back in 1969, 19-year-old Bengt Olsson (who you can lump squarely in with that latter group of collector-fans) was a bit late to the folk-blues archiving game. Most surviving, documented Appalachian folk/Delta blues musicians had been rediscovered, including such stars of Harry Smith's celebrated Anthology of American Folk Music as Dock Boggs and Bukka White. But Olsson, from Malmö, Sweden, was so in love with American music, he just had to visit the U.S. After saving up money by working extra shifts at a printing plant, he headed to the States with a fellow enthusiast. The two bought a used Chevy in upstate New York and headed to Chicago, where they encountered the great electric-blues musicians Hound Dog Taylor and Magic Slim in nightclubs that stayed open almost 'til sun up. "We slept in the daytime and went to clubs at night," Olsson relates over the phone, clearly still excited about that time even though it was almost 40 years ago. After a week spent in the apartment of the guy who ran Delmark Records, the duo headed to Memphis and then further on to places in the South they'd never heard of before. Olsson returned to the region by himself in 1971 and '74.

Self-financed and operating without much of a plan, Olsson didn't always have it easy. He got kidnapped once in Mississippi, after attending one of fife and drum patriarch Otha Turner's harvest picnics, where moonshine and goat meat were as much a part of the rowdy festivities as the hypnotic, polyrhythmic sound of the music. "I was having too much fun to go back to Memphis, and told my friends to go on without me," he relates. "In the morning Otha drove me up to the highway and said a bus would come along in 20 minutes. But as this was Labor Day, it turned out the buses didn't run on schedule. So I figured I should hitchhike. I got picked up by two white guys and as soon as I got in, it was clear they were real drunk. They said they'd been up all night, and that the car was stolen. They pulled a gun and started making threats like, 'You're never getting out of this alive,' but we soon started to get followed by a police car. The boys tried to shake the police on side roads and when that happened, I jumped out and started running!"

In addition to such tastes of rural outlaws, Olsson discovered and documented a wealth of obscure traditional music over the course of two more trips throughout the South. He found blues-based musicians no one else had recorded, players of astonishing force. There were even a few overlooked greats from the '20s and '30s, such as Dewey Corley from the once hugely popular Beale Street Jug Band. "We were really interested in finding out where no one had gone before," he explains. Until recently, Olsson's recordings had only been released on a few comps on the European label Flyright in the '70s. David Katznelson, who runs the local label Birdman (home to garagey records by the Cuts, the Gris Gris, and Howlin' Rain), first came into contact with Olsson when Birdman released It Came from Memphis Vol. 2 in 2001, a disc compiled by blues scholar Robert Gordon; it contained a few of Olsson's field recordings. Katznelson, who'd put out two excellent Otha Turner albums, quickly realized the worth of Olsson's tapes and bought the rights to them.

After transferring the tapes to disc for reference, the first CD Katznelson popped in was by someone named Perry Tillis, a blind blues musician Olsson discovered living alone in abject poverty in rural Alabama. Tillis sang beautiful spiritual numbers in the style of prewar Delta blues. "I felt like I'd just unearthed a pot of gold," Katznelson enthuses. "It was almost hard to listen to; it was so real with feeling, purity, and sound. His guitar playing is like a fragile mosquito, and his long, monotonous riffs explore Velvet Underground territory." Released last month on Birdman — two years after Bishop Tillis' death in 2004 at the age of 85 — his CD Too Close is a thing of great, ragged beauty. It's amazing that Too Close is a debut album. But as Tillis himself told the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture's publication The Field in 1995, "I never did want no records much. There just wasn't enough in it. See, I could get out there with my guitar; I played the blues and I'd get out there in a club or some building and make myself $2,000 a week. I couldn't get that on records."

The music consists solely of Tillis' voice and guitar, with occasional percussion caused by his feet stomping the loose floorboards in his house. From the first song, his take on "God Don't Like It," a track that advises against drinking moonshine, to "Kennedy Moan," a rousing political number, it's all stirring stuff. Most folks into this music see the "sanctified blues" of the '20s and '30s (Ed Clayborn, Blind Willie Johnson) as a stillborn bridge from the devil's music to God's, between the sound everyone knows is the blues and the stuff we all recognize as gospel. But if you look for it, it's obvious that bluesy, visceral gospel music was made on into the '50s (Ola Mae Terrell, Utah Smith), the '60s (Staple Singers, Rev. Overstreet), the '70s (Charlie Jackson), and even today (Rev. Isaiah Owens). Asked about this music's rarity, Olsson says, "I think sanctified blues as a tradition lived on as long as 'regular'] blues," but surmises that maybe "sanctified people didn't buy the records as much, plus you didn't have sanctified records on jukeboxes except for maybe Sister Rosetta Tharpe."

Too Close is one of those releases that not only redresses historical wrongs by giving this unheard artist broad release, but that also should be listened to on repeat. It's astonishing stuff. Birdman plans to issue multiple discs culled from Olsson's recordings over the next few years; there's a lot to dig through. If the other releases — by the likes of Lum Guffin, Perry Tillis, and Lattie Murrell — are even half as good as Close, it'll be cause for serious celebration for fans of roots music. Olsson admits he was a little shocked at the interest in his recordings. "But when I listened back, I was pleasantly surprised," he adds. "[The tapes] sounded better than I imagined!"

Daydream Nation Box Set Best of 2007 Clips.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Damon & Naomi Reviewed On

Life beyond Galaxie 500: The enduring beauty of Damon and Naomi

Over two decades --- first as the rhythm section of Galaxie 500 and then on a series low-key studio albums --- Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang have mastered the art of intimacy.

But on Damon and Naomi’s sixth studio release, “Within These Walls” (Domino), the couple pulls off a neater trick. If any album can be said to sound “quietly bold,” this is it.

The guitarist Michio Kurihara, a full-time member of the Japanese psychedelic band Ghost, has been partnering with the couple for several years, and his playing is more integral to the Damon and Naomi sound than ever. Kurihara’s solo punctuates “Stars Never Fade” with the kind of ferocity rarely heard on the group’s previous albums. And when his guitar curls around Yang’s beautifully deadpan voice on “The Well,” they evoke the plangent interplay of Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson in the iconic folk-rock band Fairport Convention.

The arrangements are also fleshed out by strings and horns, which at their best help the couple’s somewhat plain voices underline the complex emotions in their lyrics. But occasionally the soprano saxophone comes off as a sugary jazz-lite distraction --- surprising, given that the musician in question is the normally reliable Bhob Rainey.

But that quibble aside, “Within These Walls” does a good job of escorting one of rock’s most self-effacing couples out of the shadows and into a more brightly lit space, where their exquisite songs can be more properly appreciated.

Damon & Namoi will end their Within These Walls tour in Japan. They will be joined by Michio Kurihara (electric guitar), Bhob Rainey (soprano sax), and Helena Espvall (cello) .

01/19 Osaka, JPN @ Knave
01/21 Tokyo, Shibuya, JPN @ O-Nest
01/22 Tokyo, Shibuya, JPN @ O-Nest