Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Matt Milia of Frontier Ruckus uses the geographical nuances of Metro Detroit and all it's north-reaching disintegration as metaphor to tell a story that is both local and far-reaching, heartfelt and cold, and lyrically something of an odyssey to delve into.
With central themes of love lost, guilty lust, and growing old, Milia sings obscure references of Michigan landmarks as being packed with memory and over-brimming as physical representations of the intangible aspects of growing up in Detroit.
In Animals Need Animals, a chilling, wintery personal account of past love he sings:
my long-necked, freckle-specked, heavy-chested, trust-invested
sows her breath into my chest and hums
now what kind of county line
holds her remains
they absorb old phone calls
they spit warm laundry smoke to the cold backyards
County lines, and more generally geographical borders, mean a lot to Milia's metaphor of Orion Town. The touching towns which can be perceived as the suburbs that sprawl in all directions from Detroit, illustrate the present time, while Detroit itself represents the past. The touching towns at some point begin to blur into one another, but upon reaching their outward limits you've reached what Milia might refer to as the frozen north country.
If you missed them at MOCAD last week, you might have to wait a while. They've been touring extensively since their LP release, and their next Michigan date looks like January 21st in Grand Rapids.
I could probably write a lot more on these guys, but I've come down with an awful case of P1-N1 (Panda Flu) so I'm going to call it a night.
She's just so damn cool.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
1997, such an interesting year. We were riding a crest of richness, and America looked indestructible. Computers were rearing their ugly heads and it looked like the future had arrived! A brisk time of excitement and moving forwardness. Clinton was smokin' cigars and grunge was dead. No reason to be sad, or paranoid. Everything was Ok! Oh yeah, and we had a new album that just came out the was the opposite of everything positive, but instead was terrified of the future and saw our current global politics and culture as plastic and fake. This album from a cult British band, would turn to music industry on it's head. Critics would go on and call this album a watershed moment for alternative music. Ok Computer was born.
Ok Computer would go on to get a 10 out of 10 from NME and a 10 out of 10 from Pitchfork Media. Q would give it 5 out of 5 stars. Rolling Stone 4 out of 5 (later revisiting this score and giving it 5 out of 5). This album would be nominate for a Mercury Prize, and 2 Grammy nods in 1998 (including Album of the year). Thom Yorke had just indoctrinated a new generation of music-snob pseudo-intellectuals that could now wax on this album for hours. How beautiful it was. This legion would continue to grow until it overflowed with lust when the even darker Kid A came out in 2000.
There is a stark comparison between Ok Computer and Ladies and Gentlemen... One was based in paranoia and fear, the other was about the passions of love or the hate of failures in life. One was about non-living computers taking over humanity and turning us into robots, the other was about being overly human and being destroyed by humanism. Listening to these albums side by side today, one sounds more powerful than it ever has, and the other album is a frozen crystal stuck in time. There is two reasons for this, and they go together. They are both arranged as a composer would arrange a classical masterpiece. The instrumentation is there. Thom Yorke's voice is just as sweet and compelling as J. Spaceman's. So what makes difference in this? Soul and Emotion.
J. Spaceman makes you feel. Ladies and Gentlemen is all about the experience and the inners. Ok Computer all of that has been sucked dry by the frozeness of no hope. Ladies and Gentlemen gives us hope and serenity through out the whole album. Ladies and Gentlemen makes you cry for life. Ok Computer makes you forget what life was. Now, I know that was the point of Ok Computer. It is supposed to be cold and distant, that is part of the fear. Honestly though, I don't feel that distant 12 years after the album came out. I want to feel inside, anything, good or bad. Ladies and Gentlemen offers this. Strings, loops, saxophones, choruses, it is all there.
Cool cos I'm wired and I'm out of my mind
Warms the dope running down my spine
But I don't care 'bout you and I've got nothing to do
Free as the warmth in the air that I breathe
Even freer than dmt
Feel the warmth of the sun in me
But I don't care 'bout you and I've got nothing to do
Love in the middle of the afternoon
Just me, my spike in my arm and my spoon
Feel the warmth of the sun in the room
But I don't care 'bout you
And I've got nothin'
--- "Think I'm In Love" J. Spaceman
You look so tired and unhappy
Bring down the government
They don't, they don't speak for us
I'll take a quiet life
A handshake, some carbon monoxide
--- "No Surprises" Thom Yorke.
Tomorrow, Ladies and Gentlemen comes out with a 3 disc set (plus a 12 disc 3" CD set!!) to commemorate their great achievement that is still cast aside. Radiohead earlier this year with a re-issue of Ok Computer and that gathered much fanfare (despite the ongoing war between Capitol Records and Radiohead over their past catalog). Ladies and Gentlemen will come out, and a few aging gen-xers will pick it up who are still longing for sounds of that magical album. No one else will really buy it, hipster will continue to argue Kid A versus Ok Computer (The Bends is actually the correct answer), yet this magical piece will be on shelves somewhere, just hoping to be rediscovered.
I will leave you with what I think is possible the greatest and most heart-wrenching song ever written. Enjoy:
Thursday, November 26, 2009
the latest release from brooklyn's best, a triple album and the second in their 'thank your parents' trilogy (claimed to be a statement on music in the 21st century). the songs are varied in length and sound, and blend and bleed together like an audio laffy-taffy. things start with 'brown out in lagos,' an almost dancehall track with blown-out bass drum, cowbell, sci-fi rayguns, and a hard rubbery bassline that steps in midsong. along the way is 'the life you prefered' with a guitar riff that sounds like something local siezure inducing heroes wildcatting/bars of gold would drop, in its decptively light playful power. my favorite: the 20 minute super jam 'folk wisdom.' it doesn't so much pull you in, it's not what your world becomes, it is your every perception, impulse, and concious ideal for the extent your time listening to it. those are but a taste of what is explored on this record, which there simply is not enought space to describe here. super duper psych jams for your temple of drunken mind melt worship, man.
wilderness - (k)no(w)here
part of a collaboration with visual artist charles long (who aslo worked with stereolab on a another exhibition at the witney in 1995) and a continuation in the band's serpentine drone rock. wilderness present epic soundscapes of reverb drenched gutars, minimal bass lines, and slow quaking drums with hollering vocals challenging the worlds self-absorbed living patterns. this, their third album, blends every track together in a cascading wave. wilderness has some how melded less and more, with the songs being barer than on the previous two albums, but the whole record comes off as full and omnipresent. 'own anything' is almost a pop tune in it's directness and catchiness, whereas 'soft cage' is a simmering seven and a half minute creation that subverts it's own tension two-thirds of the way through to become calm and resevered. the movements in each song come together into a tapestry, turning into one piece that takes multiple listens to decode. with two other releases that are different from most anything else but still uniqely their own, wilderness is in their own way holding true to the statement best associated with the fall: always the same, always different.
both bands i am totally obsessed with, and can be found on the jagjaguwar label, which houses oneida's pet label brah records and put out 'the lord dog bird,' solo album of colin mc cann, wilderness' guitar player. brah has all sorts of awesome different wierd wonderfuls, and the lord dog bird album is looped guitar and powerful wavering vocals on a plate of warm 4-track hiss. do yourself a favor and get into this shit. thanks for reading!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Joe Meek was an early 1960's record producer from England. He was became known for a sound that used lots of reverb, echo, close miking, multiple overdubs, and strange sound effects. Once you've heard a Joe Meek product, it's easy to spot another.
He had some success, most notably with "Telstar" recorded by The Tornados, which hit number one on the US Billboard Top 100. A popular story at the time of the record's release was that the weird distortions and background noise came from sending the signal up to the Telstar satellite and re-recording it back on Earth. More likely, it has been claimed that the sounds intended to symbolize radio signals were produced by Meek running a pen around the rim of an ashtray, and that the "rocket blastoff" at the start of the record was actually a flushing toilet, with the recordings made to sound exotic by playing the tape in reverse at various speeds. I don't remember "Telstar" every getting played on oldies radio, but I definetly remember "Have I The Right?" by the Honeycombs. To me this is his poppiest song.
However, the story isn't all weird sound effects and layers of reverb. Meek was obsessed with the occult and the idea of "the other side". He would set up tape machines in graveyards in a vain attempt to record voices from beyond the grave, in one instance capturing the meows of a cat he claimed was speaking in human tones, asking for help. He had an obsession with Buddy Holly (claiming the late American rocker had communicated with him in dreams) and other dead rock and roll musicians. He had growing amounts of paranoia and was even convinced that Decca Records would put hidden microphones behind his wallpaper in order to steal his ideas. For reasons exactly unknown, on February 3rd, 1967 Meek took a single barrel shotgun and took the life of his landlady before aiming the gun at his own head. A sad and tragic ending for sure.
Friday, November 20, 2009
here's their song 'dagger' from their 1993 release souvlaki.
also worth noting - they do a cover of lee hazlewood & nanci sinatra's 'some velvet morning', another recent obsession of mine.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Reminds me of this time of year especially, the oddly prideful feeling of knowing you'll have to stand up to winter again, even as cold and dark threatens to devour your soul.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
a little info on this group from connecticut:
Sunday, November 15, 2009
My roommate Kyle showed me this song tonight and it's truly unbelievable. It was written by Leon Payne, a Texan song writer who wrote a couple hits for Hank Williams. After hearing about the Charles Whitman massacre that took place in Austin, Texas he wrote "Psycho" but denied anyone from recording it until after his passing. I couldn't find much information on the performer, Jack Kittel, outside of him being from Muskegon, Michigan, but that's irrelevant to how haunting his performance is.
Jack Kittel, "Psycho"
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Detroit-60's-garage. It's been hard to dig up much more information on them. Apparently they only pressed around 80 or so 45's, and there are less than 10 floating around these days. . .
Either way, it sounds like how a weekend should feel.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Alvin Lucier - I Am Sitting In A Room
express version: first 5 minutes, last 5 minutes.
recommended listen: take 45 minutes and spend it on the couch with alvin and the beverage of your choice. do some thinking.
Monday, November 9, 2009
The song in the video, “The Boy Who Never Forgot,” and its fostering album, "The White Songbook,” is some of the most intricate and layered pop music I’ve ever heard. While most electronic music’s punch is held in empty space, timing, beats and build ups, Joy Electric is just an out-of-the-gates, wild-horse-race-of synth melodies.
What really gets me is that, at any point in a song, there are usually three or four great synth lines unfolding at once. More impressive is that everything you hear is generated using only a Roland System-100 - talk about a media study. But what about the lyrics? Are they steeped in buzz-killing religious symbolism?
The answer is: sometimes, but it’s usually not too overt. More surprising are songs about Austrian scientist Nikola Tesla, minerals, telescopes, Arthurian legend and other historic/esoteric/philosophic territories. It’s so unique and great that it gets little traction in the Christian world or otherwise; too weird for them and too Christian for everyone else. We make our beds…
1- otis redding - the otis redding dictionary of soul
i procured a grand majority of the otis redding catalog for getting in character for my holloween costume, 'duckie' from 'pretty in pink.' the music is tight but smooth, total in the pocket from booker t. and the mgs. otis himself: on fire. chompin and stompin, spitting every word out and lickin it back up again. contains 'try a little tenderness' which is what duckie dances to in the movie. boys listen up, this song will get you the girl of your dreams (or just that terribly cute one at the other end of the bar who seems so elusive...).
2 - mogwai - my father, my king
my heart has always been with godspeed of all the 'post-rock' bands i first heard, for their emotional reaction. mogwai though, are pure raw power. they can be pretty too, but this, recorded by steve albini after their relase of the album 'rock action,' will clentch your fists, dilate your eyes, grit your teeth, and pucker your asshole. an old jewish hymn taught to the band by their touring manager (i think?), that goes from quiet and ominous to loud and ominous, to a quiet refrain, a loud refrain, a louder refrain, a louder refrain, an deafening refrain, and an explosion of knob twiddling amplifier prayer. i wish i could fuck as good as this song plays. (sidenote: i've seen them perform it live, and words are not appropriate).
3 - bark psychosis - hex
amazing 'band' from england. put out this, a handful of singles/eps/compliation tracks before it, and another album nearly ten years later. all i can say is it's beautiful music to walk around and look at the leaves on the ground to. read the wiki or allmusic entries for more of the story. also, really good at doing that thing where the song takes a right turn into someting totally fucked up but sounds completely natural.
thanks for reading!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Sweet James Epps. Motor Pool Records. Detroit, Michigan.
Do you believe?
Thursday, November 5, 2009
There's something special about Springsteen's music. It's easy to get swept up by the Born In The USA hype, however, there are a lot of powerful, moving numbers of his that have slipped through the cracks and gone unnoticed by people our age. Perhaps I have stock invested in him; that he reminds me of my dad. However, I digress... this song is live at the Hammersmith-Odeon in London, 1975, right after Born To Run was released, but before his career started to blow up.
Springsteen and the E-Street Band are known for playing three hour plus shows with no breaks, often including some kind of medley -either comprised of his own songs or others -one of the reasons he's earned the title "the hardest working man in showbiz." Here's a Medley featuring the music of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. Enjoi.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
There's a joke: "Knock, knock - who's there? Knock, knock - who's there? Knock, knock - who's there? Knock, knock - who's there? Philip Glass." That pretty much sums up his musical style - minimal, repetitive...amazing. I've had a strong obsession with him lately. I just recently watched a documentary and saw him perform solo piano numbers at an art museum in Chicago. But maybe the best thing I've discovered by him is this film: "Koyaanisqatsi."
Created with Godfrey Reggio, Koyaanisqatsi is a visual tone poem with no dialogue or vocal narrative that relies heavily on time-lapse and slow-motion. Its shots of cities, natural landscapes in the U.S., people at work in their daily lives, are stunning. If ever there were a candidate for IMAX, "Koyaanisqatsi" is it. In the Hopi language the word means "crazy life" or "life out of balance." That's pretty much the premise of the film. It'll make you cry.
The segment I have posted above is called "The Grid" and it is somewhat a climax for the film. Filled with overhead night shots of skyscrapers and traffic patterns, it shows the sinister side of our creation. The song used is called "Pruitt-Igoe" and is my favorite from the soundtrack. Even if you don't want to watch the whole thing, I suggest jumping to about 2:10 to hear the apocalyptic choir and damming string section. If you wanted to ride a burning chariot into hell, this would be the song to do it to.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Soul! » November 1, 1972 | THIRTEEN
"Soul!" ran from 1968 to 1973 and was intended to be "not only a vehicle to promote African-American artistry, community and culture, but also a platform for political expression and the fight for social justice. It showcased classic live musical performances from funk, soul, jazz, and world musicians, and had in-depth, extraordinary interviews with political, sports, literary figures and more. It was the first program on WNET to be recorded with the then-new technology of videotape, and most of the shows were recorded in real-time—not live, but unedited."
In its six years "Soul!" aired a staggering number of amazing musicians, vocalists, and cultural icons - Mary Wells, Odetta, Dee Dee Warwick, B.B. King, The Delfonics, Pharoah Sanders, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Betty Shabazz, Herbie Hancock, Nikki Giovanni, Max Roach, Stevie Wonder, and many more.
I haven't watched all of them yet, but I was digging this one (those outfits!) and the episode featuring Rahsaan Roland Kirk, in which he plays a nose flute as well as three saxophones at once (and it sounds good!). Check it out.
One of the most haunting doo-wop songs I've encountered. It was written in the 50's by Johnny Bragg, while in the Tennessee State Penitentiary on wrongful conviction. A radio DJ swung by the prison to do a news broadcast and heard Bragg and his friends singing. He was so moved by the song that he had them perform on air. It was such a hit that Bragg was effectively let out of prison (albeit only on "day passes" to tour).
On a more personal level, I have the impression that certain songs find their way to people at exactly the right time/place in their lives--- at least every once in awhile. This song found me on a particularly gloomy day last spring. (After all, people say April is the cruelest month.) This song, I think, echoes that melancholy and, in it's simple beauty, makes a sort of peace with it.
This is a video of my favorite twee band, Tiger Trap, playing a show in what appears to be someone's living room. It’s a real document of the time (early 90s) – the band’s dress, how they move, their energy. I love the song, of course, but it’s the esthetics that are captivating. It’s like a fond memory of something that never happened to me.
It takes me back to now-defunct basement venues in Lansing that few remember the names of. The claustrophobia of the stage reminds me of what it’s like to be packed tight in a space that wasn’t meant to accommodate so many; tripping over furniture, wondering if the owners will later be pissed about the beer some guy just spilled on their carpet. Heartwarming.
Monday, November 2, 2009