Friday, July 29, 2011

The Rationales "The Distance In Between"

( I hope my ration is huge, because this lush, slightly strange, totally charming pop is delicious!

Tony on Fire "The Distant End"

( We don't need no water let the motherfucker burn!

Arrica Rose & the...'s

(Poprock) Should be called I-lik-a Rose, because anyone singing slinky, tumbelweeds tumbling, ghostworld cabaret music in a breathy voice (and, pardon my creepiness, awesome cutoffs) is someone I like-a! Note: The Buggles track is a cover, but "Sail Away" is an original, so sorry bicurious Dennis DeYoung fans obsessives, you don't get to hear Arrica sexily sing the word "lad."

Fungi Girls "Some Easy Magic"

(Hozac) Their name is a puzzle...they're not girls, they're fun guys...get it! At least I assume they're fun: the concept of hulking teenagers somehow getting their Bieber-era brains in position to craft ghostly, jangly, eerily-good, low-key garage rock magic seems to indicate good personalities (I'm also taking the online photo of the drummer ina Gumby suit into account). As far as the "ghostly" goes, whenever I hear production where eerie lo-fi-esque roomy awesoemness saturates everything i always check my speakers before I start a-praising just to make sure the record actually sounds this good/bad, and this one really sounds like that! Unless I died and am listening with ghost ears.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crisis of Conformity "Fist Fight" b/w "Kick it Down and Kick it Around"

(Drag City) So the question isn't whether the 7" of former Trenchmouther Fred Armisen's fake 80s hardcore band Crisis of Conformity's (the songs were originally performed as a skit on Saturday Night Live) is funny or authentic sounding. The question is is the 7" of former Trenchmouther Fred Armisen's fake 80s hardcore band Crisis of Conformity's funnier or more authentic sounding than the 7" of former Trenchmouther Damon Locks' 1995 fake 80s hardcore band Countdown to Chaos. While both sort of miss some 80s h/c alchemy (better executed on NOFX's 1996 fake 80s h/c 7" "Fuck the Kids" or Regress' 1997 fake 80s h/c 7" "Price of Power"),  since CTC (and NOFX and Regress) was less then a decade removed from the 80s I guess they should lose some points, because it was easier to remember how to do it back then. And while it's not ha ha funny for COC to call out Ed Meese, it's theoretically funny, and anyone riffing on Suicidal Tendencies "All I wanted was a fucking Pepsi" rap gets comedy points, so COC is technically funnier than CTC. As far as authenticity, Locks' visual sense did not allow him to have a shitty xerox collage cover for his own band (though he did help COC with their shitty xerox collage, go figure?), plus his lead track is Cramps-y not h/c (though side 2's "Punky See Punky Do" makes up for it), so COC also beats CTC on that count. Still it's hard to brand anything as an authentic 80s hardcore 7" when there's only two songs!  But this is all moot, because ultimately, my all time fave fake 80s h/c act will always be Fear, because they were fake 80s hardcore during the 80s, and the kids couldn't figure out the joke!

Azita "Disturbing the Air"

(Drag City) Moving music so sombre it turned me into a Sombie. Instead of craving brains I feast on sad hearts. Despite the melancholy tones, Azita's music doesn't seem depressive or even really down, there's something so uplifting in its beauty that it sorta kinda actually seems sorta kinda positive. But somebody better explain that to her piano quick, because I'm afraid he might kill himself after after having all those mournful notes played on him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Village of Spaces "Alchemy and Trust"

(Corleone) Taking madrigal-core music out of the Renaissance Faire and onto the Indie Rock Grammy stage, this is mandolin-cious!

White Mystery "Blood & Venom"

(www.whitemysteryband.comWhen Alex White first hit the scene it was her youth that made her stand out: a tiny teenager playing gutsy guitar and leading (and composing for) brilliant trash rock bands like a burly veteran. And it wasn't just her actual youth that was awesome, it was her youthful attitude. Though she commanded stages she also conducted herself with refreshing positivity and innocence: a gee whiz kid in a pottymouth man's game! But as fans of Jordy, Gary Coleman, or that perennially changing white little kid blues guitarist with news stories about him sitting in old black men know, being the youngest something has an expiration date. When she and her brother Francis started White Mystery it was awesome to see a brother sister duo with huge red hair flyin' doing their thing, but it was also hard to hear, see, or read anything about them that didn't mention they were a brother sister duo with huge red hair flyin'. Now you can't blame anyone for being young, having good personalities, being related, or having amazing hair. In fact you can't blame the relentlessly self-promoting band for pointing all these points out themselves. But as amazing as WM was, their singles and debut LP coulda been better. But with the self-released Blood & Venom the pair has finally crafted material worthy of the worthy hype they worthily receive. These songs match their charms. Someone has to sing about snacks and birthdays and parties and balls, and though the tunes on the record have improved since these recordings (I've seen the band perform fifty times in the last month, it seems, and have never tired of them), barring their debut LP's transcendent tribute to taking a walk, this is the best stuff they've ever done. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tom Goss "Turn It Around"

( Should be named Gom Toss because whatever it means to toss your gom, this music made me want to it.

The Millingtons "Play Like a Girl"

( Jean and June Millington were officially awesome not just because they were in the all lady rock band Fanny or because they were ridiculous beautiful (see the back cover of 1978's "Ladies on the Stage,"or better yet, the b&w portraits on the sleeve of 72's "Fanny Hill"), or because June was a queen of the Womyn's Music movement. The main reason for their magic was that their single "Charity Ball" was glam rock n roll boiled down to the simplest, catchiest, most chugging-along perfection. So it's magic to hear on their new album that in addition to still wailing as guitarists (especially the boogie solos on "Let Love Linger") they also have made the Fanny formula even simpler and more direct. The title track is so straightforward it's almost a cheer or a jingle, sounding like pure, potent, uncut rock n roll at it's finest. They get awesomer with age!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anamanaguchi/Starscream split single

(Insound) I always consider split singles a Battle of the Bands, with a clear winner and loser. In the case of two 8-bit video game dance music nut rocker acts going head to head it's more like one of those arcade battles from King of Kong. And though both acts get to a kill screen, I think despite the intoxicating rapid blipitude of Starscream, the trophy goes to the cinematic skateboard theme music by Anamanaguchi which manages to convey both the technology of the flying skateboards from the Back to the Future trilogy and the whimsy of Teen Wolf, making this Michael J Foxtastic!

Skidoo DVD

OliveFilms) (Guest Review by Gentleman John Battles) I said Hell had frozen over when The Phil Silvers Show and Car 54, Where are You? finally got the DVD treatment, but, this time, the impossible has happened. Skidoo, one of the most enjoyed, and openly reviled psychotronic films of the late 60s, can be had, without a prescription, and without a letter of apology from Paramount, who have withheld the movie's commercial release since the dawning of the video age. It did turn up on late night TV in the 80s (I still have my SLP, censored copy with commercials intact, on VHS, from well over 20 years ago) garnering a small cult following. Director, Otto Preminger's biographer made it clear that a very rare screening of the film in Chicago a few years ago would, most likely, be our last chance to see it at all.  Russ Meyer once stated that 20th Century Fox swore they would never release two movies to home video, his own Beyond The Valley of The Dolls and the seldom seen Myra Breckinridge. They're both available now, and Paramount too, finally caved to public demand, it seems.
Skidoo, released without fanfare to DVD recently, has to be seen to be believed. (MORE HARD-TO-BELIEVE SPOILERS THAN IMAGINABLE FOLLOW!!!) It's the only Gangster/LSD/Comedy with a soundtrack by Harry Nilsson, most of the supporting cast of Batman, and not one, but two "Great Ones," Jackie Gleason and Groucho Marx (in his final movie appearance), and that's just a start. OK, a lot of actors in this movie are well past their prime, but, it doesn’t affect the "What The Fuck..." factor one iota. I showed my VHS copy to a friend once, noting that the frequent lack of natural structure and hilarious LSD imagery made it comparable to Head. My friend told me Head couldn’t touch Skidoo for madcap psychedelic hijinks. It's always good to get a second opinion.
The plot (You mean there IS one?) involves Jackie Gleason (whom Mad Magazine once called, with stinging accuracy, "Former Funnyman," just as Dan Akyroyd and Eddie Murphy have been for years, now) as Tough Tony, a retired gangster, who's called by "God," the head of The Syndicate, played by Groucho Marx (who was still funny), to put the hit on his former best friend (Mickey Rooney), as he's about to turn state's evidence, and, in so doing, blow their whole operation.  Gleason tells "God's" Messengers (played by Caesar Romero and Frankie Avalon, in Halloween color-coded Italian suits) to go screw . He then gets a call to his "Office", a car wash, where he finds his buddy, Arnold Stang, the Nebbish King, with a bullet in his head. Knowing he and his family would be next, Gleason changes his mind . No one can get to Rooney, who's in a maximum security prison cell, so Gleason has to commit a crime (represented by a fast- movingĂ‚ 1920s "Keystone Kops"-style sequence) and be sent to prison to attempt contact with the rapidly aging (but, as of 1:28AM June 26, 2011, still living) former Andy Hardy star. He's quickly met by wiseguy Frank Gorshin, and uber-thug, Richard Kiel. Gorshin could have had more screen time, which goes double for Burgess Meredith as The Warden. A plan is quickly laid out for Gleason to get to the untouchable Rooney and take his life ("Hey, Kramden, I survived 17 wives. Good luck to ya!). Gleason's new cellmate, a draft dodger, turns out to be an electronic genius, capable of contacting Rooney from their cell, but, not so smart that he can tell Gleason that his stationary is soaked in LSD before Jackie licks the envelope.
If nothing else, the payoff in the movie comes early. Seeing Jackie Gleason "Tripping Out" is almost as hilarious as the time Ralph Kramden tried to recapture his youth by dressing as a 1920s Joe College in the 50s ("This is what ALL us cats are wearin', Alice!”). But, there's a poignant moment, too. Tough Tony has a revelation, and decides not to kill his old friend. He also seems to come to terms with a lingering doubt (joked about early in the film, amidst outrageous commercial pariodies) that his beautiful daughter (Alexandra Hall, who unceremoniously becomes an item with hippie, John Phillip Law, who's actually  very funny, here) is really his. His Wife is played by Carol Channing, so, I'm sorry, he should have been wondering whether or not his Daughter was HERS. He hallucinates Channing telling him that their daughter has his ears, making her his natural child. It doesn’t matter, as Rooney is wise to his plans, and Gleason is looking at a longer sentence than planned. BUT…he and his cellmates hit on an escape plan, burn the LSD-laden stationary in the incinerator, and let the smoke waft throughout the prison. Soon, the entire prison is laughing hysterically, including a guard played by Nilsson and a switchboard operator played by an underused Slim Pickens. Meanwhile, back on the oceanfront, John Phillip Law and his hippie friends plan a strike against God (the one played by Groucho). God has been hiding for 20 years on a yacht in a secluded position (future Real-Life Convict George Raft, plays his First Mate). He's not hurting for company, though, as the beautiful, though impossibly thin, Luna (also seen in Playboy and The Rolling Stones' Rock'n'Roll Circus), is his mistress and general caretaker. She makes an easy meal of John Phillip Law (who doesn’t mind) as well as Frankie Avalon (ditto), while Alexandra Hall tries to get Groucho to spill the beans about her missing father. Soon, unbeknownst to her, her father is high as a kite…sailin' a makeshift balloon, leaving the prison grounds. Will the escape attempt fail? Will the Hippies figure out what to do with God, now that they've found him? Will John Phillip Law sell out to the corporate business regime? Will Mickey Rooney live to topple The Enterprise? And will Nilsson go on to a successful solo recording career?  You can find out for yourself, I've told you too much. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cliffie Swan "Memories Come True"

(Drag City) This is a really good album marrying spare, groovy rock instrumentation with ABBA vocals in a way that makes one appreciate just how difficult-to-achieve and rare a good ABBA-style vocal really is. I need more Swan songs, so I hope to never hear their swan song.

Singer "Mindreading"

(Drag City) This low key, hinky time signature-core, electro-biology chill out music could be described as blissful if one could experience bliss and creeped-out-edness at the same time, because this is kinda disturbing for some unidentifiable reason. And since I've never seen them live i know that feeling has nothing to do with Robert Lowe's awesome hair, which has intimidated me in the past.

Bachelorette "Bachelorette"

(Drag City) The Bacjelorette crafts intimate folk-ish music that leans more freak than coffeehouse, though it ain't too freaky. Unlike her folkie friends, however, this music is totally electronic in ways that defy that form's clinical-ness while totally engaging it at the same time. Thus, this may be the warmest cold record I've ever heard.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brian Wilson Songwriter 1962-1969 DVD

(MVD) Guest review by Gary Pig Gold


 1.  Veteran SoCal socio-musical historian Domenic Priore, sitting alongside a tiki totem beneath a strategically placed orange branch, more than ably launches our story over a wealth of Eastmancolor’d freeway and beach footage, drawing, as only he can, that all-important connection from Gidget to Dick Dale all the way to teenage Brian’s Hawthorne, CA music room. 

 2.  We see some very cool vintage Four Freshmen footage, and the undeniable influence that quartet’s equally cool jazz vocal stylings had on Brian and his Boys, explained to us by none other than First Lady of the Wilsonian Bass Guitar, Carol Kaye.    

 3.  Next, back-to-back clips of Chuck Berry serenading “Sweet Little Sixteen” at The TAMI Show and the young B. Boys themselves belting out their just-released “Surfin’ USA” in full deck-swabbing gear illustrate, as thousands of words over the years have til now failed to, why CHUCK’S name is the one listed as composer of the latter hit.

 4.  Similarly, Inside The Music of Brian Wilson author Prof. Philip Lambert takes to the piano to juxtapose Phil Spector’s “Be My Baby” with Brian’s equally ingenious “answer” song “Don’t Worry, Baby” …as Phil’s former Wrecking Crewman (and Brian’s drummist of choice) Hal Blaine gets a little Prison Wall of Sound joke in at his ol’ boss’ everlasting expense.    

 5.  We get to hear lots of fly-on-the-acoustic-tile recording studio chatter, stretching all the way back to the making of that very first Beach Boy record “Surfin’” itself. Not to mention, I’m afraid, a terrifying example of father / manager / producer [sic!] Murry “I’m a Genius Too” Wilson putting the psychological screws into Brian’s brain at the infamous “Help Me, Rhonda” vocal session (which ended at least one person’s career).  

 6.  Why, we even get to hear Winterreise by Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe used in the very same sentence as Pet Sounds !

 7.  Three Dog Night tripper Danny Hutton, however, has an even better word for this all:  “Marijuana!!”

 8.  "Lost" Beach Boy David Marks talks about all the treble Capitol Records liked to put on the band’s Fender guitars, while current Beach Boy Bruce Johnston talks about all the trouble Capitol Records liked to put Brian Wilson through whenever he dared stray from his original musical sun-n-fun formula.

 9.  Which reminds me:  Brian’s most note-worthy by far collaborator Van Dyke Parks is shown in the old Tower Records parking lot off Sunset Strip circa 1976 in an attempt to explain why Mike Love never could get a lyric such as “Over and over the crow flies uncover the cornfield” in to his head, let alone out of his mouth.   

10.  And, as if the Seventies weren’t cruel enough already to all concerned, we end with lifelong Beach Boy friend, confidante, and concert promoter Fred Vail still, forty years later, shedding a righteous tear recalling how he failed to get the band’s “Add Some Music To Your Day” single added to a powerful East Coast radio station playlist back in the daze because, he was told, “The Beach Boys aren’t hip anymore.”

Needless to say said program director – not to mention his station (and Top 40 radio in general) – is long long gone, Fred for one survives to tell this and many other poignant Beach Boy tales and, of this there can be NO doubt, Brian Wilson’s magical melodies are poised to enter their second half-century of faithful, never disappointing service to one and all.

This magnificent 190-minute, two-DVD package, and the fine cast of musicians, historians, and Wilson pals and players therein, do a most remarkable job in explaining to us exactly why. It should indeed be considered Required Viewing by all who still love to add good vibes to their days.

FOUR WALKS – Uptown to Downtown
by Thomas Kiedrowski

(guest review by Madeline Bocaro)

  Andy Warhol made New York City his home. New York City made Andy Warhol a superstar. He embraced the entire metropolis; uptown to downtown, high life and low life. He mingled with the glitterati, and also befriended junkies, drag queens and street hustlers and brought them fame. In many ways, it feels like Andy is still here.

  The author, Thomas Kiedrowski is the host of the Andy Warhol Sites Tour of New York City. His new book is a refreshing twist on the Warhol legacy – focusing on all the places and faces in Warhol’s life, from the time he took up residence here in 1949 as a commercial art illustrator on Madison Avenue until his death in 1987 as a pop/art icon.

  A majestic photo of Andy Warhol and two of his ‘superstars’ appears on the cover; Edie Sedgwick, the star of Poor Little Rich Girl, and the Empire State Building, the star of Warhol’s 8-hour long film Empire, which inspired his infamous line, ‘Always leave them wanting less.’ The guide is divided into four sections for easy navigation; Upper Upper East Side, Upper East Side, Midtown and Downtown.

  The book is a convenient size (resembling a Zagat guide) for walking in Warhol’s footsteps. It not only includes residences, but also theatres, museums, galleries, churches, antiques shops, hospitals and eateries that Andy frequented…and we can’t forget Hairpieces By Paul, the shop where Andy bought his infamous wigs, and Max’s Kansas City. A useful star key code indicates whether a building still exists in its original form, is still standing but re-purposed, or sadly, has been razed. Architectural details of each building and the legacies of previous owners provide wonderful history lessons and lots of interesting trivia!

  We learn many details about his legendary workspaces. The first was a sparse, run down firehouse. There are fabulous facts about the ‘Factory’ buildings. The iconic ‘Silver Factory’ on East 47th Street (occupied by Warhol from 1964-1967) was razed in 1969 to build 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. At the Union Square ‘White Factory’ (1968-1973), Warhol began his foray into film, and took a bullet in the name of art. The MTV television show, Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes was also shot there. Part of the final Factory (1984-1994) housed the offices of Warhol’s Interview magazine.

  Another of Warhol’s favourite haunts, Bonwit Teller on Fifth Avenue was razed in 1980 to build Trump Tower. The guide also covers the abandoned project, the Andy-Mat - an international fast food chain of automats planned in 1977, which was inspired by another of Andy’s hangouts, Schrafft’s…but at the modern Andy-Mat, you could eat alone in a plush booth and watch television!

  Besides vintage photos of the locations, Vito Giallo’s gorgeous original ‘blotted line’ trace drawings of several historical New York City buildings (made specially for this book) endow the guide with a certain authenticity. Giallo was once Warhol’s studio assistant - and later, his antiques dealer. He provided the same artistic technique for Andy.

  One of the great secrets of New York City is that there are several aged, infamous 1960s Warholian superstars still out and about, who jump at the chance to share their legendary stories of ‘superstardom’ with us young acolytes, who listen wide-eyed and in awe. Most recently, Ultra Violet and Taylor Meade attended the dedication ceremony of The Andy Monument - a glistening silver statue in Union Square. Warhol joins fellow icons George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and the Virgin Mary, who are all bronzed in New York City – dull memorials in comparison to Andy’s shimmering chrome effigy. This statue indicates that Andy Warhol Superstar still haunts New York City, and probably will be famous for at least fifteen more centuries!

Street Eaters "rusty eyes and hydrocarbons"

(Bakery Outlet) The streets must be delicious because this daring duo sounds joyou and satisfied. I certainly appreciate SE adding some garage rock attitude to the salvageable sonic remnants of interesting 90s rock (not to imply the streets they are eating have Pavement on them, I mean more interesting than that). Plus I just recreated their album cover on the side of my van.

Cave "Neverendless"

 (Drag City) Sounds like the space car chase music in an all-robot version of French Conncection.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jealousy "^iles"

( Creepy noise/psyche /glam/goth/monster movie soundtrack music that made me groove...fearfully!

The Paperhead

(Trouble in Mind) You would really expect a band that is s-o-o-o psychedelic -- we're talking psychedelic to the balls-to-the-cosmic-wall, 6th dimension, walls-are-melting/I taste colors, inside out genius degree -- to have a way more psyche-oriented band name than this, though I suppose these cats and kittens likely all are heads and likely all would answer affirmatively if one inquired if they had any papers. Nomenclature aside, this is a record that's almost too good -- my mind has expanded to room capacity! Absolutely can taste the sonics!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

GoDIYRecords Europe 1, Europe II, Europe III, Norway

( This series of pay-to-play comps has in the past released compilations devoted to bands from specific places, like "Wisconsin" or "Ohio & PA," so to see one that's just "Europe" is surprising. But it's not surprising that the bands are worse than ours! Or maybe not, but it's just so much more charming to hear a bad band from a town you've visited. These CDs don;t even say what the countries the bands are from, you have to go to their Myspace pages see. All that said,  I like the name, song, and absurdity of Rathole's "Dr. Love," hate the name but like the tune by Taliban Airways, I dig the happy Hippo Family, the Physicists, and Labcane, and I', mabivielent about the otherfifty ir si bands. The Norway comp at least gives some context and continues to demonstrate that even at the lowest level, the Norwegians know how to fake American pop and rock better than anyone. Standouts are Action Five, Deathtrack and Hollywood Vampires.

John Paul Keith "The Man That Time Forgot"

(Big Legal Messs) He's such  a great rock n roll songwriter he should change his name to John Paul Heith Mick. If he starts slipping then he can change it to John Paul Keith Mich Gene Paul or John Paul Keith Mick Gene Paul Edge Bono.

Night Beats

(Trouble In Mind) Ballsy psychedelia that genuinely messes with your cranial cavity yet never loses its groove. You can move to this -- hallucinatory and horizontal need not intertwine!

The Wrong Words

(Trouble in Mind) These Wrong Words are song birds whose awed chirps and strong verbs are more charming than Hmong nerds! Basically this is masterful power pop without the sad Beatles convention vibe. And every song is awesome.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fred McDowell "The Alan Lomax Recordings"

(Global Jukebox/Mississippi) Obviously it would be difficult to argue Mississippi Jack McDowell as the  Lomax family's greatest "discovery" (papa John, sons John Jr. and Alan, daughters Bess and Shirley, and several spouses collected over 10,000 field recordings, bringing scores of geniuses to the ears of America, notably Lead Belly), but this digital and vinyl release makes a pretty good argument for him being the best recorded cat in their collection. Of course, the fact that this was recorded in 1959 and not in the 30s has something to do with that, but the clear, striking style of McDowell and his amazing talent were the main factors. More hypnotic and recognizably African than most archival Delta blues stuff, McDowell's resonant minimalist blues songs are discombobulating in their weird power. Known for the Rolling Stones covering one of his tunes and for his folk scene career in the 60s and early 70s, with this collection perhaps McDowell will know be known as a man whose raw, unadorned first recordings stand up to pretty much any blues recorded before or since, and far surpass his pretty great 60s output.

Sal Valentino "Dreamin' Man"

( Though Valentino sung with the Beau Brummels in the 60s this is anything but an oldies album. Valentino's voice is a magnificent instrument, a high falsetto that's crisper than most non-falsetto's, and while I'm not usually invested in this kind of mature adult pop, SV's voice lifts the material out of any rootsy or singer-songwritery ruts.