Friday, February 27, 2009

Cobra Verde Reviewed On Pitchfork.

Cobra Verde:
Haven't Slept All Year

[Scat; 2008]
Rating: 7.0
Original post

For a band of middle-aged Cleveland art-punk misfits born of record-collector rock tradition, Cobra Verde have adapted rather well to the new-school indie economy, turning themselves into a TV-licensing machine and landing plum placements on "Entourage" and "The O.C." But if Cobra Verde's eternally youthful swagger belies their almost two-decade pedigree, the story of the band's sixth album provided a sad reminder that you can't be a kid forever-- upon its initial completion in summer of 2007, frontman John Petkovic was forced to care for his cancer-stricken mother, who passed away that December. The album, and the band, were put on ice for over a year-- during which Petkovic through suffered severe, prolonged bouts of insomnia.

So that album title is no exaggeration. But if the songs contained within predate Petkovic's breakdown, they suggest that, even before his familial trauma, the singer was well-accustomed to an after-hours regimen of strip clubs and booze. Cobra Verde's music has always simmered with nocturnal menace and seedy suggestion, but on Haven't Slept All Year, there's a greater awareness of the price for staying up all night: Having to make amends in the morning. The result is an album plays out in a binary sequence of comically over-the-top drunk-rock benders and sincere, open-hearted pleas for forgiveness.

But until the morning comes, Cobra Verde are happy to appeal to the most base-ic of instincts: "Entourage"-approved opener "World Can't Have Her" is essentially a rewrite of AC/DC's "Girls Got Rhythm". But as certified students of rock'n'roll mythology (Petkovic is a journalist by trade; guitarist Frank Vazzano teaches pop-music history at Cleveland State University), Cobra Verde project a keen self-awareness: the Clash-city rocker "Riot in the Food Court" climaxes with a deadpan declaration of "I'm in love with strippers on drugs," while the Replacements-styled nightclub jitters of "Wasted Again" carry the admission that "drinking songs are so typical." The implication is that Cobra Verde aren't playing around with hard-rock conventions merely for populist appeal and easy soundtrack money, but because it's precisely the sort of music that you'd hear blaring in the peeler bars and neon-lit corner dives that Petkovic's protagonists inhabit.

Cobra Verde also realize their "drunken sex addict" anti-heroes are not the sort of people you want to spend an entire album hanging out with-- particularly when they start leaning too heavily on the bar-band swing ("I Could Go to Hell for You"). So for every time Petkovic is called on to play the sleazeball, there's a chance to redeem himself as the sweetheart, and for the band to apply the more expansive approach that marked 2005's Copycat Killers all-covers collection: "Home in the Highrise" colors in its sketch of skyscraper-living sterility with rich Byrdsian harmonies; the turn-a-new-leaf anthems "Something About the Bedroom" and "Run Away" outfit Pavement with skinny ties and keytars. By penultimate acoustic ballad "Can't Believe", Petkovic is seeking forgiveness for all his sins-- á la Lou Reed on the Velvets' "Jesus"-- from a god he doesn't believe in, at which point he's sentenced to an afterlife in the "Haunted Heavens," where he's surrounded by devils and dead lovers, but where-- judging by the pristine jangle-pop presentation-- they're spinning the Flamin' Groovies for all eternity. In light of Petkovic's annus miserablis, that's the kind of hell he can certainly deal with.

- Stuart Berman, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Larkin Grimm Answers Twenty Questions For PopMatters.

A fun Larkin Grimm interview regurgitated from the PopMatters site:

Larkin Grimm
20 Questions original post
[23 February 2009]
The eclectic and restless Larkin Grimm, a folk singer with a burgeoning career, talks to PopMatters 20 Questions about her inspiration, chainsaw art, and sex outdoors. by PopMatters Staff

In reviewing Larkin Grimm’s latest release, Parplar, last year, Matthew Fiander wrote that “it’s probably easiest to call Larkin Grimm a folk singer, but doing that fails to capture just how difficult she is to pin down. She can play the solitary, sad ballad like any good folk singer. But once she lets out that sadness, she seems to cut free of it, and the rest of Parplar is a fiery and energetic challenge to the listener.”

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
I’ve only cried for two movies: Winnie the Pooh and Dancer in the Dark. The last book that made me cry was written by my record producer, Michael Gira. It’s called The Consumer and is about apocalyptic sexual fantasy.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Probably Grushenka from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky or maybe The Cat in the Hat from Dr. Seuss. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Huckleberry Finn.

3. The greatest album, ever?
Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars was more about Zen, while Star Trek was based on a cheesier New Age spirituality. I was completely in love with Princess Leia as a child. She’s still my ideal woman. And my father looks like Luke Skywalker. But he watches Star Trek. I prefer real life. It’s much weirder than the movies.

5. Your ideal brain food?
When I’m on the road I eat nothing but organic beef jerky, nuts, and berries.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
A camp-out noise festival I organized in the forest during the summer of 2004. It was called Future Friends. I invited all of the musicians I admired most, and they remain some of my best friends today. So I gave it the right title, and it was my first magic spell that totally worked.

7. You want to be remembered for...?
Helping the music community to be a healthier and more magical place.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Martin Luther King Jr., Hildegard Von Bingen, Madonna, Geronimo. 9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece, or the Velvet Underground’s Loaded.

10. Your hidden talents...?

I can make woodcarvings with a chainsaw, I practice Thai massage, and I am a Reiki Master. I am also very good at origami, and can paint with both hands at once and write with a pen held between my toes. I am also a pretty good matchmaker, and can find a needle in a haystack.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Do what you love.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

My 12” Mac laptop, which has enabled me to record songs while camping in the mountains, riding in canoes, and sleeping on friends’ couches. It is the only material possession I have ever been truly attached to, and I’ve had the same one for six years. I bought it used. I am writing on it right now. It’s a beautiful silver color that reminds me of moonlight and allows me to communicate in countless ways with beings all around the universe. Not all technology is bad.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

My favorite clothes are the ones I’ve sewn, silkscreened, or dyed myself. But I have a thing for Austrian lingerie.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

The homeless guy from the street outside the building.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I’d go back and find Joan of Arc, slap her in the face, and tell her it’s not worth it. I’d teach her how to use her psychic abilities to change things from the inside out, invisibly, and tell her to enjoy her life. I’d nip the whole sexy martyr victim thing in the bud, right there.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Sex outdoors, under a tree, can work wonders. But I am trying to eliminate all stress, not manage it. Maybe… realizing that nothing is real. That might work. This is slightly embarrassing, but I actually use crystals. I keep them in my pockets all the time, with a stone that contains natural lithium salts. I talk to rocks.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?

Clean water from the spring, never bottled. Clean air. Clean food. Love, and shelter.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Wherever I am right now, that’s the best possible place.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Don’t let it go to your head.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

I am trying to be good to my friends, and to be generous especially during hard times. I am focusing a lot on laughter and gentleness.

02/27 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
02/28 Boise, ID
@ Neurolux
03/03 Portland, OR
@ Doug Fir Lounge (w/ Michael Gira)
03/04 Seattle, WA @ Wall Of Sound (In-store 6:00 PM)
03/04 Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern (w/ Michael Gira)
03/06 San Francisco, CA @ Swedish American Cultural Hall (w/ Michael Gira)
03/07 Santa Cruz, CA @ Crepe Place
03/08 Los Angeles, CA
@ Echo (w/ Michael Gira)
03/11 San Diego, CA @ Bar Pink
03/12 Phoenix, AZ
@ Modified
03/13 Tucson, AZ
@ Plush
3/14 Albuquerque, NM @ Atomic Cantina
03/18 Austin, TX @ Emo’s Inside (SXSW Leafy Green showcase 9:00 PM)
03/22 Orlando, FL @ Back Booth (w/ Vetiver)
3/23 St Augustine Beach, FL @ Cafe Eleven (w/ Vetiver)
3/24 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club (w/ Vetiver)
3/25 Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall (w/ Vetiver)
3/29 Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool (w/ Akron Family)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sparks' 'Lighten Up, Morrissey' Video Totally Rules.

One might think that after twenty-one studio albums and XXXX amount of years in music biz the Sparks' engine of creativity would've long since petered out. Nope, the Mael bros are chugging ever so forward in 2009. Case-in-point this new video for 'Lighten Up, Morrissey' from the Exotic Creatures of the Deep album released last year.

Robert Wyatt Hearts Damon & Naomi.

Killer photo pilfered from Damon & Naomi's website of Robert Wyatt sporting a More Sad Hits vinyl reissue.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Triumphant Return Of Themselves.

Themselves return after a six year hiatus with new mixtape, album, festival stops and more.

Themselves: Themselves, the Bay area duo of DoseOne and Jel (both also key members of the group Subtle), have returned from a six year hiatus with a flurry of activities and releases planned for 2009. It's no mistake that this resurrection comes hot on the heels of the Anticon label's tenth anniversary Themselves have long been one of the label's flagship groups.

First up for Themselves is a trio of festival appearances, starting with Noise Pop in San Francisco next week, then SXSW in March, and Coachella in April. In early March, theFREEhoudini mixtape will drop in various places around the internets, featuring a dizzying array of guests, including Slug, Aesop Rock, Busdriver, Why?, Buck 65, Passage, DJ Baku, Alias, Pedestrian, Sole, Serengeti, D Styles and The Lionesque. As DoseOne put it, "TheFREEhoudini is an inspired Themselves rendition of the classic mixtape medium, housing a medley of original music, it features every rapper we have ever shared a cause with in the past decade. It is also a gift, for these curious times in the consumption of music."

In August 2009 Themselves will drop its third official full-length album, CrownsDown which Dose refers to as such - "CrownsDown is our statue - to rap as it reered us - and the arch and arrow, of what it is to be us, in a decade of music made and the temperature of these two thousands."

It's also worth pointing out that theFREEhoudini mixtape and CrownsDown will be the 19th and 20th releases of DoseOne's career, respectively.

02/28 San Francisco, CA The Apple Store - (Terrorbird / XLR8R Noise Pop Day Party)
03/18 - 03/21 Austin, TX SXSW
04/19 Indio, CA CoachellaThemselves

theFREEhoudini (Anticon)
Dropping March, 2009
Featuring: Aesop Rock, WHY?, BUSDRIVER, DJ Baku, BUCK 65, ALIAS, D STYLES, SOLE, Serengeti, Pedestrian, SLUG, PASSAGE, The Lionesque

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beirut Review Double Shot.

It doesn't get much better than positive Pitchfork and Dusted reviews.

An 8.1 from Pitchfork:

Beirut / Realpeople:
March of the Zapotec / Holland

[Pompeii / Ba Da Bing!; 2009]

Rating: 8.1

After the remarkable efforts of Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup, Zach Condon's offbeat hybridization of traditional Eastern European motifs and Western indie pop reached a glorious pinnacle. But where take things from there? Rather than resting on his laurels, the 23-year-old Santa Fe native packed his bags, hopped on a plane to the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, and began recording a selection of new material with local 19-piece collective the Jimenez Band. Aided by a translator to help communicate their compositional ideas, Condon and his cohorts worked tirelessly on March of the Zapotec, a slew of songs in the small weaver village of Teotitlan del Valle during the spring of 2008.

Condon's self-confessed Francophile leanings still run strong, particularly in his Jacques Brel-meets-Serge Gainsbourg vocal delivery, and Balkan folk patterns continue to remain at the core of his musical references. Yet his flourishing interest in Mexican wedding and funeral music, highlighted by the animated huffs and puffs of a "barely rehearsed" brass band, inevitably takes these recordings somewhere different. March of the Zapotec is the sound of a musician continuing to evolve and, most importantly, allowing himself to be persuaded by his inspirations without losing sight of his own creative personality. Like many young, culture-hungry travelers, Condon seems to be embracing as much as possible, re-shaping his interior musical landscape as he continues to learn the tricks of the trade from masters and street performers in various parts of the world.

Just as Mexican funerals are known not only for reflection and mourning but also for the celebration of life, the six songs that comprise March of the Zapotec sound as joyous as they do melancholy. The jolly three-step-waltz of "La Llorona" and "The Shrew" wouldn't sound out of place on a soundtrack to Emir Kusturica's dark and memorably shambolic wedding scene in the film Black Cat, White Cat. "The Akara" is similarly expressive, introduced by a bold but despondent trumpet fanfare that slips into a lively melody as Condon sings through his malaise, "so long, my fate has changed, it's hindering."

But March of the Zapotec is just one half of this intriguing and disparate 2xEP. The second is very different, and closer in sound to Condon's pre-Beirut bedroom recordings, when he went under the alias Realpeople. Having spent years making electronic music as a teenager before focusing on the elaborate acoustic inventions he is now known for as Beirut, it seems only natural for Condon's older methods to finally see the light of day. Although he has more than proved his mettle as a masterful, highly visionary musician, it will perhaps be a relief to fans of Beirut that Holland does not feel out of place beside the material that initially drew Condon to popular attention. It is after all, an extension of an already strong musical direction or, in his words, "different aspects of my personality."

These five songs, mostly recorded alone, begin with the lyrically superb "My Night With the Prostitute From Marseille" and take more than a few notes from the Magnetic Fields and, perhaps a little surprisingly, Boards of Canada. "Venice", with its dreamily atmospheric intro, which gracefully crackles in the background like old letters burning on a fire, is a fine example of Condon's apparent knack for constructing a home-- whether permanent or temporary-- on a wide range of melodic turf.

As a concept, this EP could be seen as rather puzzling with its marrying of such stylistically different material. However, listening to the two discs back to back allows insight into the development of Condon's burgeoning ideas. Rather than re-tracing the path that made him popular, he has hacked into the wilderness of his new inspirations, no matter how divergent, and emerged triumphant. As another of his favorite French luminaries, Jean-Luc Godard, once famously said: "It's not where you take things from, it's where you take them to."

- Mia Clarke, February 20, 2009

Favorable review by Dusted:
Artist: Beirut
Album: March of The Zapotec and Realpeople Holland
Label: Pompeii Records
Review date: Feb. 16, 2009

Zach Condon is one of those people who draw a lot of inspiration from the places they visit. His much-adored debut Gulag Orkestar was ostensibly an homage to Balkan folk music (although it also reflected other European orchestral and big band influences). His second full-length, The Flying Club Cup, was his western Europe album, a gloss on the catalogs of Jacques Brel or Charles Aznavour.

After he released The Flying Club Cup, Condon announced that he was taking a break from Beirut, citing difficulties from his constant touring schedule. Now, just a year later, Beirut is back and apparently refreshed. Condon’s released a new EP of Beirut material and an EP of songs from Realpeople, the synthpop band that, before Beirut, was Condon’s primary outlet.

March of the Zapotec bills itself as “new recordings from the state of Oaxaca,” and the album was inspired by a trip that Condon and some friends took to the town of Teotitlan del Valle, just outside of Oaxaca. The EP contains one field recording of a band playing in El Zocolo Plaza, and a local ground called Band Jimenez makes a contribution on several tracks. Condon wrote the songs, inspired by what he heard in Oaxaca, and recorded them either in Teotitlan del Valle or back home in Brooklyn.

Going back to his first album, Condon has often had more success as an individual songwriter than he has putting together a full album’s worth of material. In part, this is because his work claims inspiration from a specific place but almost necessarily romanticizes it and elides the more unpleasant aspects. The Flying Club Cup, for instance, evoked an imagined France of 75 years ago, in which all the people are roguish sophisticates who listen to only the best music. This idea inspired very good individual pop songs but it’s difficult for a contemporary songwriter to work in this style without a lot of it sounding the same, or without the conceit wearing thin.

It’s an easier thing to pull off during the course of a 15-minute EP, however, and the songs on March of the Zapotec have a looser, more experimental feel. Some, like “La Llorana” and “The Akara” are divided into several movements, such that part of the song may be the work of Band Jimenez while another part may be Condon recording at home in Brooklyn. Other songs are entirely instrumental. None of them are likely to go into heavy rotation, but they do show Condon expanding his band’s creative reach.

The second EP, Holland could not be more different, at least in terms of its backstory. Realpeople was a bedroom recording project that Condon worked on before starting Beirut. He has already released some of this material; “My Night With the Prostitute From Marseilles,” a song not as risqué as that title would lead you to believe, was part of a charitable compilation last year, and “Venice” was on a compilation given to subscribers to The Believer. Those are probably the two strongest songs, each reminiscent of early Magnetic Fields albums. The rest of the songs are enjoyable, although perhaps because this is a side project, they have an unfinished quality to them that sounds like it was purposeful: the last song, “No Dice” is just a repetition of a few simple hooks. “The Concubine,” with its accordion and trumpet, seems like a draft of a Beirut song left unfinished.

The two EPs here may be just a palette cleanser, or a chance for Condon to try out some new material after a hiatus. March of the Zapotec and Holland won’t get people as stirred up as Gulag Orkestar but they do suggest some interesting new directions.

By Tom Zimpleman

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pansy Division Doc Trailer & Gioni Spring Book Tour.

The DVD release of the documentary Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band will be released on Alternative Tentacles at the end of Marc. Undeniably one of the most gay music acts in the last twenty years, Pansy Division pioneered queercore before others had the confidence to come out of the closet. This humorous and fast-paced yet intimate portrait of the band features newly shot footage and archival footage spanning 15 years.

In conjunction with the movie
founding member Jon Ginoli has written a book entitled Deflowered which highlights his experiences in the band. Ginoli will embark on a national book tour this Spring.

03/20 San Francisco, CA @ The Booksmith
03/21 West Hollywood, CA @ Book Soup
03/22 San Diego, CA @ Obelisk Bookstore
03/23 Whittier, CA @ Whittier College (reading, film clips, acoustic set)
03/24 Bakersfield, CA @ Barnes And Noble
03/25 Santa Cruz, CA @ Bookstore Santa Cruz
03/26 San Francisco, CA @ Books, Inc.
03/27 San Francisco, CA @ A.T.A. (film screening only)
03/29 Corte Madera, CA @ Book Passage
03/30 Portland, OR @ Powell's Books
03/31 Vancouver, BC @ Little Sister's Bookstore
04/01 Seattle, WA @ Elliott Bay Books
04/02 Missoula, MT @ The Zacc Gallery
04/05 Minneapolis, MN @ The Bryant Lake Bowl Theater (reading, film screening, acoustic set)
04/06 Northfield, MN @ Carleton College
04/07 Chicago, IL @ Homolatte
04/08 Chicago, IL @ Quimby's
04/09 Chicago, IL @ Borders Books (Halsted)
04/10 Cleveland Heights, OH The B-Side (reading, film screening, acoustic set)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

La Otracina Vinyl Reviewed on Foxy Digitalis.

La Otracina "Blood Moon Riders"
Holy Mountain
Original post

The LP opens with a punch drunk rock epic that feels as fresh and ageless as the greatest Flower Travellin’ Band sides. A schizophrenic Mise-en-scène keeps you in swathed surprise for all of a rolling quarter hour. A primary set up of guitar, drums and bass play through and off each other with blissful psych surf-rock shapes. This is exciting instrumental rock that quakes the feeble ‘lounge’ musak of so many post-rock protagonists. Glorious arcs of guitar that wouldn’t feel out of place on an LSD March or
Bardo Pond (circa Lapsed) jam abound with tireless creativity. Some of the sickest bass formations are driven by the fingers of Evan Sobel, without feeling trite or glam. The sun-drenched energy and unabashed bravado of this group’s sound has me on my knees, praying for summer evenings and crates of ice-pearled beer.

The pace dissolves to an ambient tremble as you feel a sense of relief after the chaotic primary chunk of sound. Eventually flange guitar sounds echo and search your psyche with drifting moments in a fade-out - always hoped for but never quite realized in some of the greatest psych outings of the late 60’s. This is continued into the third movement, and then tranced upwards with a classic pounding drumbeat under bird-like guitar and liquid bass. Some incredibly contorted squeals are heaped upon a relentless percussion. Then all explodes into a head swaying bliss-out that tumbles with a damn groovy bass line and heart wrenching lead that will have you punching the fuck out of the air!

The final track is drenched in slides of experiment feeling like a lost Ghost classic. Reverb drenched hypnotica is jumpstarted after a few minutes with another killer riff that demands body spasms. The ability to shift so comfortably through various styles and tempos, gives this band the right to embrace and deliver post-rock as a term to be proud of. 8/10 -- Peter Taylor (12 February, 2009)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Colossal Yes Song On NPR's Second Stage.

Colossal Yes: 'Smoldering Steeps'
By Rachel Kowal, February 10, 2009 - Utrillo Kushner is best known as the drummer for the neo-psychedelic rock band Comets On Fire, but he also heads up a different musical project: Colossal Yes. The band, based out of Oakland, Calif., features Kushner trading in the drums for the piano. It might seem like an odd move, but the transition is smooth for Kushner, who says he's played piano for roughly a decade now.

On its second LP, Charlemagne's Big Thaw, Colossal Yes continues its retro-tinged, indie pop trajectory, carefully honing its tracks to fit into a more conventional three or four minute time frame, a change from the band's first LP, Acapulco Roughs. Though Colossal Yes has less of a psychedelic slant than Comets On Fire, it, too is rooted in the past, hearkening back to the days when a catchy piano melody took center stage instead of being overshadowed by guitar solos or ambient droning.

Upcoming show on Feb. 26th at Swedish American Hall, SF, CA. as part of the 2009 Noise Pop festival.

The New Yorker Reviews Beirut's BAM Show.

February 9, 2009
Beirut, Brooklyn
Original post

During their hour-long set on Friday night at BAM, indie alternative-folk band Beirut was more than equipped for a street carnival. Between the six of them, they had: two trumpets, a trombone, a tuba, and a French horn; one string bass, an electric guitar, a ukulele, and an accordion; two keyboards, a set of drums (incl. concert bass), and a xylophone. As if that weren’t enough, the band was joined by three-dozen brass and strings players from Vassar College. The only thing missing was a cymbal-crashing wind-up monkey.

Beirut was performing at BAM as part of the "Sounds Like Brooklyn" festival, a weeklong showcase. While the Howard Gilman Opera House seemed like an incongruous setting for Beirut and their iPhone-toting fans—who usually come face to face in stand-room-only venues like the Music Hall of Williamsburg, where the band played Wednesday night—it also seemed appropriate given the band’s quasi-orchestral nature. “It’s very nice to be in a theatre,” Zach Condon, Beirut’s lead singer, told the crowd. After opening with “Nantes,” a low-key favorite, Condon gave the seated audience an almost-sheepish sideways glance and gestured for them to come closer. On cue, a surge of fans rushed the stage creating placid mosh pit. “Now that feels like home,” Condon said.

The band played most of the favorites, including “A Sunday Smile” off their second album, “The Flying Cup Club,” and the title track off their first album, “Gulag Orkestar.” They also played a song off their upcoming third album, due out later this month, which was recorded near Oaxaca, Mexico, with a nineteen-piece brass ensemble. Beirut developed its unique sound by layering French, Balkan, and Mexican folk traditions on top of each other—I found their music reminiscent of Manu Chao, Yann Tiersen, and even Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Westerns—but what really gives the band its character is the timbre of Condon’s voice, which seems to come from an older, more experienced singer. Listening to him leaves you awed and despondent: awed because it sounds so effortlessness; despondent because he’s only twenty-two years old, and already has accomplished more than you have.

The show started promptly at eight, and ran over two hours. Latecomers—accustomed to shows that run well past midnight—continued to stream in a half-hour into Beirut’s performance, hoping to have missed only the opening act. As the show drew to a close, Condon told the cheerful crowd, “This is our last song.” A mournful “Noooo” reverberated through the house. “I love that sound,” Condon replied.

Check out Revovler USA Podcast #15 which features a Beirut exclusive track 'Vassar Orkestar'. The track is a rough mix of song off Zapotec done with 32 Vassar students recorded in a chapel on campus.
You can stream or download an AAC file of this podcast and all other Revolver podcasts at:

Monday, February 09, 2009

Drowned In Sound Reviews Gira's ATP Australia Performance.

According to DiS, Michael Gira still has the dark lord magic touch.

ATP Australia:
the DiS review
by Rebecca Pellman

Artists: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Michael Gira, Harmonia, The Saints


It all kicks off during ‘Nations’. For 30 minutes we’ve been sitting here – same venue as previous night – wondering quite why we’re sitting here allowing former Swans frontman Michael Gira to regale us with a collection of vaguely engaging, vaguely tepid blues/folk songs – acoustic guitar, seated, foot tapping the floor, strained expression. We’ve been admiring the way he’s able to embarrass fidgety audience members with a few well-chosen words and a shit-eating smile – he’s already explained to us that he prefers the house lights on and the air conditioning off, because it helps his art – but frankly, we’re bored. Little do we realise that Michael Gira – he strides on stage in a massive fuck-you cowboy hat, greeting us like a creepy born-again preacher – is just warming us up, working himself up into a state of semi-frenzy so that he can begin to howl and moan off-key. Little do we realise that Michael Gira will really begin to unsettle us – with the odd, old Swans numbers (‘God Damn The Sun’, ‘Raping A Slave’, made even nastier and purer by our ability to understand every word) and new Angels Of Light numbers (one, a prayer dedicated to patriot, as an example of the terrifying beauty and disease of life), looking possessed now, his face contorted, his voice gone – shouting, shouting demented. He might be playing acoustic nowadays, but he’s lost neither the intensity nor the loudness of Swans.

"God That Was Cool" Says Letterman.

Beirut performing 'A Sunday Smile' on The Late Show with David Letter Friday Feb. 6th 2009.

Friday, February 06, 2009

It's A Nationally Syndicated Night For Beirut + Zapotec Podcast.

Who still owns a VCR? Who can afford TiVo? Youtube's quality always blows. SurfTheChannel - no way. Might as well watch Beirut's performance on David Letterman live tonight. Rock your local CBS channel (still with an analog signal).

While on the subject, check out highlights from March Of The Zapotec plus an exclusive live track on the all Beirut podcast just posted on the Revlolver USA pod-page. You can stream or download an AAC file of this podcast and all other Revolver podcasts at:

Wildbirds & Peacedrums Amoeba In-store Flyer.

A very special in-store performance at Amoeba Music
6400 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood, CA.
February 16th 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Crosby, Young, Valentine & Elder - MV & EE Review on Dusted.

Dusted Reviews
Artist: MV & EE with the Golden Road

Album: Drone Trailer

Label: DiCristina Stair Builders

Review date: Feb. 5, 2009

When listening to the prodigious output of Matt Valentine and Erika Elder, I always end up reaching some fairly simple, yet somehow confusing conclusions, particularly about the MV & EE ‘vibe,’ if you’ll excuse so gauche a term. Simply put, they’re one of the few duos/groups extant who manage to combine a communal, rural take on rock ‘n’ roll with the kind of heavyweight mystique that means you’re never entirely sure what they’re going to drop next. Staying faithful to your art while remaining open to what falls from the sky can make for a rewarding (if at times befuddling) relationship between performers and their audience.

You’ll also have a pretty different take on MV & EE depending how deeply you’ve been chasing the trip. If you skim their ‘major’ releases (for the DiCristina, Time Lag and Ecstatic Peace labels, amongst others) you’ll get some pretty good indicators as to how their thing’s developing, but burrow down into the sodden earth of their Child Of Microtones CD-Rs and you’ll end up with a more honest – or at least, more rigorous – reflection of the MV & EE totality. And I’m not about to encourage sending anyone broke from chasing limited editions (particularly regarding our current socio-economic impasse), but that expanded context lets MV & EE really flower. (Though the answer to that key question – how many live recordings [now taking on the totemic status of MV & EE’s “Dark Star”] do you need to hear? – is simple: all of ‘em.)

Drone Trailer comes off as one of MV & EE’s richest conciliations of primal rock impulse and agrarian drift – the kind of record that a confused major label would have leaked out into the world in the early 1970s, the last time the underground had any chance of seriously warping the mainstream milieu. There’s something in the whole deal that reminds me of a small clutch of hazed-out solo-record masterpieces – a touch of David Crosby’s If Only I Could Remember My Name here, an unhinged Neil Young on his most maxist folk/grunt form there – and traces of other acts who’ve picked up on that loner/loser mood and moved it along, from Opal (in the slow motion sway of the title track) through J Mascis’s solo navel gazing (“The Hungry Stones”).

It’s MV’s guitar that keeps things moving along. His playing’s a little more reined-in than I’d expect, but there’s something nice in the way he perpetually infers the kind of full temporal-psychic expansion he can reach at his most ‘out’ without really breaking the mold. Valentine’s restraint is a potent device here; there are some beautiful stretches in the title track, where Valentine’s playing tangles with Doc Dunn’s pedal steel, weaving through chord changes that sound like the song taking sharp breaths due to a change of altitude. If you’re looking for a song to add to the Valentine ‘canon,’ to slot alongside “Sky Ain’t High” and “Get Right Church,” then “Drone Trailer” is the latest addition. But it helps that it’s surrounded by great material, like the woozy, unraveled “Weatherhead Hollow,” or the late night ritual of “Huna Cosm.”

Chalk it up to reaping the rewards of single-mindedness and dedication – this one’s a winner. Then hunt down a batch of those live recordings ‘from the taper’s pit.’ They’re a whole other universe unto themselves.

By Jon Dale

Getting mellow in Santiago de Compostela last year:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Beirut Gets A Quick 3.5 Out Of 5 Reivew From Spin.

Beirut/Realpeople, 'March of the Zapotec/Holland' (Pompeii)
Global pop voyeur nods to 'corridos de muerte'.

By Jessica Suarez 02.01.09 6:00 PM
Original post

Thank God for that voice. Without such caramel pipes, Beirut's Zach Condon would never be able to own his shape-shifting styles -- elegant French pop and Balkan folk on past albums, Mexican funeral marches here. But like a musical version of conceptual photographer Cindy Sherman, he embodies the essence without disappearing completely. The first half of this double EP was recorded with a 19-piece Oaxacan band, who pull the songs away from Condon's reflexive melancholy; but next to their pomp, his sparse bedroom electronics on Holland (under the name Realpeople) feel a tad thin.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Whole Lotta Kylesa.

Metal Sucks Reviews
Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 12:00pm by Sammy O'Hagar

The excellence of Kylesa’s new album, Static Tensions, is rooted just as much in what it doesn’t do wrong as what it does right: Kylesa’s two drummers could have made them the Allman Brothers of metal (metal doesn’t need an Allman Brothers, as far as I’m concerned); their super down tuned guitars and classy, evocative amps could have lead to drone metal wankery; their sludgy riffs and clear penchant for marijuana could have lead to an entertaining, yet directionless, riff fest. But they eschew that whole thing all together, instead opting to make a concise and brilliant metal record, plain and simple, without indulging themselves in the sort of excess the genre can be known for. The best parts about having two drummers in a heavy-footed metal band, the best part about having lower-than-hell guitars and sweet amps, the best part about composing an album of wall to wall top shelf sludge riffs are all that’s present on Static Tensions, an admirably lean and to the point album that’ll rattle around your rib cage until it sticks there.

At times, Static Tensions brings to mind fellow Georgians Mastodon (the opening riff to “Insomnia for Months“ sounds straight off Remission), but only in the respect that they both worship at the alter of classic capital-”M” Metal, dusting bits of prog and Sabbath swagger on top of their riff-heavy concoction. But the two bands are by no means derivative of one another; while Mastodon suckle at the teat of thrash, death metal, and even grind as well as old school metal, Kylesa are content to stay nestled in the old school, riding mammoth sized grooves and briefly dallying in psychedelic bits before diving back into the primordial ooze. And the songs retain their own personalities while managing to work well together: “Running Red” is what Fugazi would sound like covering Iron Maiden, “Said and Done” is vintage stoner rock with the menacing bellow of Philip Cope keeping it focused, “Scapegoat” is venomous metallic punk rooted in a wonderful two step, “Only One” and “Perception” both have almost offensively simple-yet-effective riffs that beg the question, “How the hell can a band in 2009 still pull this sort of shit off?” There’s not a song among them, though, that stands as filler. Every song is essential to Static Tensions, and every fucking one is great.

Drummers Eric Hernandez and Carl McGinley, as I mentioned before, certainly know how to utilize everything that’s great about having two drummers: they make monolithic beats that stand twice as massive, skitter about pensively (like they do in what sounds like an ADD blast beat on “Said and Done”), or briefly indulge in tribal-sounding rhythms. Kylesa’s sense of when to reign it in puts them head and shoulders above their hipster metal/beard metal “peers,” too obsessed with art school pretentiousness to fully grasp the primal spirit of great metal. While unafraid to put a toe into the outer reaches, they make sure that their other foot is firmly planted on the other side. Static Tensions, despite its occasional genre-flexible tendencies, is just a solid fucking metal record. Though it’s hard to tell at this time of year, it may be an early contender for one of the year’s best.

(four out of five horns)

Marathon touring schedule for 2009:
02/06 Nagoya, JPN @ Huck Finn
02/07 Tokyo, JPN @ Earthdom
02/08 Tokyo, JPN @ Kameido Hardcore
02/11 Gifu, JPN @ 51
02/13 Fukuoka, JPN @ Graf
02/14 Yamaguchi, JPN @ Club Squad
02/15 Osaka, JPN @ Club Drop
02/28 Masquerade @ Atlanta, GA
03/13 Charlotte, NC @ The Milestone
03/14 Johnson City, TN @ The Hideaway
03/15 Nashville, TN @ The Muse
03/16 Little Rock, AR @ Downtown Music
03/17 Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone Cafe
03/18 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
03/19 San Antonio, TX @ Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar
03/20 Austin, TX @ Red 7 (SXSW Tone Deaf Touring Showcase)
03/21 Houston, TX @ Numbers
03/22 New Orleans, LA @ Candle Factory
03/24 Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
03/25 Savannah, GA @ The Jinx
03/26 Wilmington, NC @ Lucky’s Pub
03/27 Asheville, NC @ Rocket Club
03/28 Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
04/02 Pomona, CA @ The Glasshouse
04/04 San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
04/05 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
04/06 Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s
04/07 Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
04/08 Edmonton, AB @ Starlite Ballroom
04/09 Calgary, AB @ The Warehouse
04/11 Winnipeg, MB @ Royal Albert
04/12 St. Paul, MN @ Station 4
04/13 Mokena, IL @ The Pearl Room
04/14 Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theatre
04/15 Toronto, ON @ Opera House
04/16 Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
04/17 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
04/19 New York, NY @ BB King’s Blues Club
04/21 Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small’s
04/22 Springfield, VA @ Jaxx
04/23 Raleigh, NC @ Volume 11
04/24 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade

Blown out dual drum solo footage:

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Thorns Of Life At Thrillhouse San Francisco CA.

Photos by Matt Eggers.

After playing a string of secret house shows in Brooklyn, Thorns of Life - the new band featuring Blake Schwarzenbach of Jawbreaker, Aaron Cometbus of Pinhead Gunpowder, and Daniela Sea from the Cypher in the Snow (and Showtime's "The L Word") - brought their speak-easy extravanganza to the Bay area, playing a full week of shows on the hush-hush. Some were less secret than others (last Monday's show at the Hemlock sold out about an hour before the doors opened) and last Thursday's show at Thrillhouse Records probably fell somewhere in the middle, filling up the small not-for-profit venue but not closing the doors on any unlucky fans. The sound definitely had more in common with Jawbreaker than Jets to Brazil - fast, sweaty, and familiar - and the set was short but just right. No plans to record yet, but maybe they're just keeping it all a secret. heart - dave

All Anticon Revolver USA Podcast #14.

Revolver USA's Podcast #14 features Shaun from Anticon Records. Shaun spins upcoming, rare, and released tracks from : Why?, Themselves, Odd Nosdam, Anathallo, SJ Esau Remixed by Bracken, and Restiform Bodies. We're talking 34:22 minutes of unadulterated Anticon awesomeness.

You can stream or download an AAC file of this podcast and all other Revolver podcasts at:

Whoa, Coachella Might Actually Be Halfway Decent This Year.

The fable goes that many many years ago Coachella was actually a cool underground event. Basically a bunch of LA hipsters would haul generators into the desert and spend a weekend making a whole lotta racket. But no original idea can escape the clutches of exploitation for long. In a reality short amount of time the mellow camping hootenanny metamorphosed into an ultra-commercial-corporate-friendly-$99-a-day-ticket monster festival that it's known for today. Last Friday's lineup announcement was somewhat of a shocker. It appears that someone behind the scenes made a conscious effort to make 2009 the year to win back some indie credibility. Sure, there are some major insiders performing (it doesn't get any bigger than Sir Paul McCartney), but there's also some major head scratchers like: Throbbing Gristle, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti & Superchunk. Fucking Superchunk! Not to mention a handful of Revolver bands will be playing this year. Lets hope the experiment works. The complete lineup can be found here.

evolver bands scheduled to play Coachella 2009:
The Bug
Drop The Lime
Genghis Tron
Hercules And Love Affair
Vivian Girls