Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jadea Kelly "Clover"

(Darth Jadea) Should be called "Jade-angel Shelly," because she sings heavenly and her songwriting is as seductive as the naked girl in the shell in that painting.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Paul Messis "Case Closed"

(State) Messis is no kinda mess at all, as the alchemy of his sublime, ornate (with the echo of sparity) 60s style pop production is the opposite of a mess. It’s neat! In both the tastiest martini and happiest pre-teen senses of the word.

Bronco Bullfrog “Clarifoil” b/w “Never Been to California”

(staterecs.com) The only thing better than a record collector’s wet dream of a vintage-vibe band sounding like the vintage Bee Gees doing power pop is a band that does that while actually singing about record collector wet dream subject matter! Namechecking bands, fetishizing objects, and romanticizing the Beach boys fantasy Los Angeles makes this Bullfrog jump into your heart!

The Higher State "Potentially (Everyone Is Your Enemy)" b/w "All Ties that Bind"

(State) If the Monkees were a "real" band playing on the SF scene opening for Jefferson Airplane in '67, but could still somehow write Brill building catchy songs, this is what I imagine they'd sound like to my cannabis-coated head.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Rape of Eve
 by Colin A. Ross

[Guest Review by Jonathan Poletti] (Manitou Communications)

Is there a weirder story than The Three Faces of Eve? — and not just because of the movie, which was fake. That no doubt helped it become a movie, from which lurid "multiple personality" sagas like Sibyl derive. And, too, powerful cinema about the merging & disintegration of personality, like Ingmar Bergman's Persona, and Donald Cammell’s Performance, and songs like Siouxie Sioux's "Christine." 

But none of it went near the real story. Christine or 'Chris' Sizemore told her side a few times, notably in a 1977 book, I’m Eve. Another was hiding in plain sight, like in a 1989 New York Times story when she's suing to get the rights to her life back, and her old doctor is asked by the New York Times how much he made off it? "Dr. Thigpen said he did not know..." After his death it became clear he made a lot of her story up, and kept her suppressed while he picked up the checks & awards. 

Colin A. Ross, a psychiatrist, starts the clean-up with The Rape of Eve, which reads like a prosecutor’s indictment. As a teenager Thigpen buys the book Joe Strong, The Boy Magician & his course is set. From supporting his family with a magic act, he graduates to psychiatry, then a free-for-all of experiments with everything from shock treatments to frontal lobotomies. But his showman instincts roar to life when a young woman diagnosed with schizophrenia is brought to him, having just tried to strangle her kid.

She comes off as magical too, as dangerous to herself, therefore, as others. I’m Eve includes descriptions of her psychic abilities, premonitions that comes true, distance healing, etc. “They were simply another confusing facet of her already inexplicable existence…” Ross notes her father was known across town for energy medicine. “He could heal diseases and could cause wounds to stop bleeding with the pass of a hand.” One begins to imagine, at least, a competing narrative of a girl from a shamanistic clan scooped up by a trickster who has no ability, or interest, in making her well.

If she was even sick? In I’m Eve, the psychotherapist she credits with her 1974 ‘integration’ appears to think her a victim less of mental illness than cultural repression of feeling. “She escaped reality by utilizing a very complicated and distorted lifestyle, classified by society as an emotional disturbance,” he writes. In a later book, she comes to her own realization that her personalities "were entities, whole unto their own rights, who coexisted with my birth personality before I was born.” She read Thigpen's book about her, and was dismayed. "The whole thing was wrong. None of them seemed like real people." 

The indecency of Thigpen's use of her is laid out for inspection, with contracts & letters comprising a chunk of Ross' book. The treatment with Chris was a little less than three years, less time (Ross thinks) than an "integration" could've taken, but Thigpen had little interest in therapy. If vaguely enamored, he also sniffed a product he could sell, and under the guise of writing a "medical monograph" gets her to sign away her life rights for $3. The movie earns her $5000 more, and that was it, with the studio trying to enforce its ownership of her for the rest of her life. 

Even in his book, Thigpen is creepy. Eve Black's legs were "attractive," though Jane was his favorite: “her smile was fresh and lovely…perfectly feminine…naturally sensuous.” In a documentary film he made of her, she's made to try on dresses, as he critiques, i.e. “You look mighty cute.” In the letters, he seems to feed off control of her as he navigates media & film to promote his version of her life. He writes her marriage counsel in 1955: “Perhaps by now you have learned that a wife cannot manifest any fierce independence. Whether she likes it or not a wife’s first consideration should be her husband’s welfare and desires.” Ross alleges Thigpen fondled her sexually, as well as facilitated an unwanted abortion & hysterectomy, while he watched. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Hollies: Look Through Any Window 1963-1975 DVD

(Guest review by  Gary Pig Gold) (Eagle Rock Entertainment) Never as naughty as the Rolling Stones, nor as pin-up perfect as Herman's Hermits; seldom as musically adventurous as the Yardbirds, nitty-gritty as the Animals, or full-on bombastic as The Who. Of course, as truly no-one was, they just weren't as precociously talented as those Beatles either.

In fact, throughout the entire artistic marathon which was 1960s pop, perhaps their only true competition – in the vocal department at least – would be from the all-American Beach Boys. And, like them, it seems the only true "crime" The Hollies ever committed during their illustrious decades-long career was that they solely concentrated on, well, just making good records.
For you see without the assist of a cut-throat manager, cutting-edge studio supervision, wily publicist or even with-it wardrobe consultant (as late as 1972 the Hollies could still be found touring North America in the kind of matching cream-colored suits even the above-mentioned Mike Love & Co. had jettisoned by 1969) Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, Tony Hicks, Bobby Elliott, Terry Sylvester et al were left more or less to simply let their own string of absolutely fab hit singles do their walking and talking for them.
And what's wrong with that, I'd like to know?
A whopping twenty-two (!) of those hits and then some now generously fill Eagle Rock/Reelin' In The Years' two-hour-plus The Hollies: Look Through Any Window, packed alongside enough behind the scenes reminiscences, vintage newsreel clips (including a fourteen-minute glimpse inside a 1967 Hollies session at Abbey Road) and even personal road-view home movies to please the most discriminating British Invader out there, I'd wager.
Well, then! Our story begins as a six-year-old Allan Clarke is fatefully seated next to Graham Nash in an otherwise nondescript Manchester classroom. A decade later, the two pals chance upon the Everlys' "Bye Bye Love" at a Catholic Girls School dance and their destinies, both musical and otherwise, are immediately and foreverafter bonded.
So, as teenagers did throughout late-Fifties Britain, Allan and Graham began honing their harmonizing in local pubs and social halls, eventually forming a series of increasingly sophisticated beat combos which, in the wake of the Beatles' initial success – and despite Graham having not a single unbroken guitar string left on his Harmony acoustic during their audition – won a recording contract with none other than EMI's Parlophone label (RIP).
A flurry of effortlessly pop-go-lucky Hollies hits follow, each lovingly illustrated within Look Through Any Window via a veritable goldmine of seldom-seen promotional and performance clips, unencumbered with annoying voice-overs and left to unspool in their pristine totality.
Watch a Queen Elizabeth look-alike stroll somnambulantly through what appears to be a flower shoppe for 1963's pioneering "Little Lover" jukebox video. See the band bravely face down various Stones, Searchers, and even Beatles at the 1964 NME Poll Winners concert, then see – and hear – the Hollies meticulously craft "On A Carousel" in the recording studio (…it seems the Granada TV crew had just been ushered out of a "Penny Lane" overdub session being held next door). Clearly, for an outfit so often dismissed as being image-less and/or less-than-charismatic, we recognize instead five guys who can more than hold their own against the antics of a Gerry and the Pacemakers or even the on-stage fury of a Dave Clark Five.
Between these astonishing clips we hear the tantalizing back-stories told in contemporary interview footage with Graham, Allan, utterly brilliant drummist Bobby Elliot and wiz-kid vocalist/guitarist Tony Hicks, the latter of whom actually picks up the nearest 12-string to demonstrate his trademark "I'm Alive" solo, "Look Through Any Window" Byrds lick, and still-astonishing "Stop Stop Stop" banjo/balalaika hybrid. The man was, and remains, a disarmingly soft-spoken yet nevertheless undeniable musical wonder.
Watch closely too and you'll see various Hollies cavorting around Japan to the accompaniment of "King Midas In Reverse," discover who "Carrie Anne" really began life as, and even watch Allan Clarke looking for said song's steel drum band hidden down his trouser leg at Yugoslavia's Split Festival, I kid you not.
Most unfortunately however, the fun and games – though thankfully not the hits – began ending circa 1967 as Graham suddenly got himself all "serious" (as in severely profound-o-delic); a curious, demoralizing change of attitude, not to mention altitude, which just didn't sit at all well with his pot-pie-as-opposed-to-pot fellow Hollies. No matter though: after a bizarre fling with DayGlo menswear and albums named after holometabolous insects, the man was soon sent packing aboard his Marrakesh Express to the supposedly hipper climes of Los Angeles …and into the welcoming arms of Messrs. Crosby and Stills. Good on ya then, Willy.
Enter ex-Escort/Swinging Blue Jean Terry Sylvester, straight into Graham's old white suit and bow tie as we watch the second chapter in Hollie History unfold with the UK # 3 hit "Sorry Suzanne" through "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (featuring Elton John's £12 piano part), "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress," "The Air That I Breathe" and, twenty-two years too late, induction at last into that Rock and Roll Hall of, um, Fame.     
Consider this entire package then, including Ben Fong-Torres' studious liner notes for the accompanying 12-page "Hollies Scrapbook," a (re-)introduction to the deceptively simple 'n' smiling musical magic which continues to be this band's stock in trade. An admittedly upbeat combo whose music, in Graham's well-put words, nevertheless remained "serious as a heart attack," with nary a vocal harmony configuration left unexplored or an instrumental note misplaced, overlooked, or thankfully overplayed. In short then, The Hollies exemplify the long-lost art of a band that did only what needed to be done; nothing more, but hardly nothing less.
Or, as Allan Clarke best sums up, "We were just a great group who sang great songs and had a lot of hits." Case closed.   
The Hollies: Look Through Any Window is but the latest addition to Reelin' In The Years' exemplary British Invasion series, so if you haven't already grabbed the rest of the set, what on Earth are you waiting for ??

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mechanical//Cabaret “Selective Hearing//Best of 2002-2012”

(WTII) Dark humored (or “humoured,” to match the deadpan Brit accent) synth wave that could have been called “Best of 1982-1992” and I would have believed them…didn’t I bob my head to “Disbeleive” at the Medusa’s juice bar while hating my parents in ‘87? “See Her Smile,” with its spare electro beats and flatly melodic vocals is apparently one of the best known tracks by this act, and I can hear why, but everything on here is good, and if John Hughes rises from the grave and makes living dead-dark re-makes of his films, these might make nice soundtrack pieces, as the thick black eyeliner teens should be falling in love to these sounds.

SMP “Death of the Format”

(WTII) Industrial music, with an emphasis on music, in which dramatic, cinematic compositions lays a foundation for rapped, sung, and spoken pieces that harken back to the days when the Midwest became the leaders in in a new kind of industrial.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Baron Four “Yes I Do” b/w “Girl”

(State) Sounds like a snarling tuff 60s Nuggets/garage combo decided to beat the hell out of the Bealtes back in their Hamburg days, but things went wrong, and the beat down ended with some kind of scientifically improbable preganancy. And 45 months later they birthed this 7”.

The Luck of Eden Hall “Alligators Eat Gumdrops”

(theluckofedenhall.com) Like visiting the best psychedelic candy shop in dreamland with your pockets bulging with pennies.

Freedom Club "Control Burn Bored" EP

(Bulkhead) Savage garage hardcore (in the American teenage degenerate sense -- not some kind of British techno disco club wank definitions of "garage" and "hardcore") that sounds like punk rock smells. If you can find anything wrong with this record you are stupid.

Belle Adair “The Brave and the Blue”

(Single Lock) Ambient meets Indie Folk, and the ambiently indie fuck!  Bella!

Little Lonely

(littlelonely.com) Should be called Little Lovely, because these songs, despite the reverb and distant mournful lapsteel suggesting they were recorded in a desolate, emotional desert, are as pretty and enchanting as an Arid Americana Artist ever.

The Trophy Mules “Sorry Motel”

(reverbnation.com/thetrophymules) Like actual mules these Midwestern Americana storytellers aren’t afraid of hard work and make some distinct sounds. Unlike actual mules they are not impotent! Musically, I mean, I have no knowledge of band member sperm count or anything like that. But I have my suspicians (and they lean towards virility). 

Kevin Lee and the Kings “Breakout”

(kevinleeonline.com) Modern rockin’ local vets prove why Chicago Kings are better than LA Kings, Sacramento Kings and the entire faculty and student body of King’s College in North Carolina. Maybe not better than The Kings who did “Switching to Glide,” but they were from Canada, so for the USA, these well polished instant classic rockers help our city rule supreme!

Ben Caron

(www.bencaron.info)  Should be called “Ben Carry On”, because this soulful singer/songwriter will have your heart flying sky high…and is worth an additional $25 fee!

Sirsy “Coming Into Frame”

(Funzalore) 2 person co-ed rock n roll is usually minimalistic and raw (with the Dresden Dolls exception, but that was just ridiculous), but drummer/vocalist Mel from Sirsy is so polished and dramatic and big sounding that Sirsy, even on a bluesy spare tracks like “Cannonball” or a “sing-along-with-the-pre-programmed Casio-setting” tune like “Gold” seems like mega-rock superstars. On this, their latest, best CD (and I have releases by them going back to around 2008 – these are vets!) the theatrical, emotional vocals, often with matching guitar sounds, raise the Sirsy bar!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Smoke Fairies "Blood Speak"

(yearsevenrecords.com) Fairly ghostly for fairies, this haunting helping of spooky phreak pholk can get groovy or magical or mad, as it gives you ecto-chills.

Max Load “s/t”

(BDR) This Southern Illinois band existed from 1979 to 1983, ostensibly making punk music, but the hardcore that took over teen get-togethers up in Chicago must not have meant much to them. My colleague Jeremy Nobody at Ugly Things recently reviewed this record through 60s psyche-tinted sunglasses, which is not unfair, but not super accurate. Although there are a few 60s/garage sounding numbers, or even a few things with classic Illinois poppy undertones, what makes this band so crazy is how thoroughly goth and dark they were able to get five minutes after making a track that sounded like low budget Cheap Trick. Dark synthy tracks that might as well have been making declarations about Bela Lugosi’s state or mortality, (or been sandwiched between necrophilia nuggets on TSOL’s “Dance With Me” LP) are somehow crafted by cuties with feathered hair. Known among collectors for the great “X-Rod” b/w “Magazine Sex” new wave single (which precedes TSOL by a coupla years), this package features those tracks and more on a handsome vinyl edition, a CD with bonus tracks, and a DVD of a cable access appearance from 1981. The songs on the LP, from the snot pop majesty of “Va-Va-Va-Vicky” to the hardcore-esque “Mini-Fad” to the jangle-psyche “Wishing Machine” are wonders. But the bonus tracks on the CD delve into straight up goth chick in the dungeon material! Yet the DVD shows them looking like dudes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (while being a lot smarter than Spicoli as they demonstrate that they are pretty important to keeping whatever scene Belleville, IL had chugging along). A beautiful insert of archival flyers and liner notes makes this one of the must have releases of the decade.

The Cannanes “Small Batch”

(exro.fm) For almost thirty years Stephen and Frances have been the favorite band of anyone who has ever seen them live, as the lovely, infectious, enchantingly beautiful music they create is matched only by their similar adjective-worthy personalities. Recordings by the Oz-dwellers are rare these years, but this exquisite EP proves it is worth the wait. In some ways the songs here are so perfect that I want to make bold comparisons (Stereolab?) or hold this up as their best work and make some kind of absurd declaration about superiority, but rather, I’ll just urge everyone to listen to their smooth, groovy, mellow, deep, basic tune called “Basics” and get into the awesome zone. Awesome, isn’t it?

Environmental Encroachment “Bunny XII”

(www.encroach.net) Falling somewhere between hoboes bashing garbage cans, jam bands, and Louisiana high school marching bands on mushrooms, Chicago’s longtime sound project/collective/weirdOH! society has come together to make an exquisitely oddball sound slab. This will relalign your brass!

Flabby Hoffman “Coup De Ta-Ta’s”

(flabbyhoffman.com) Flabby Hoffman, for more years than I can recall, helmed one of the most eccentric, oddball, offensive-to-conservative-sensibilities public access shows in Chicago, and his rock n roll performances involve masks, comedy, and game show prizes. He should qualify as a novelty artist and an outsider musician, but there’s one hitch. His music, presented here in an epic helping of 4 hours on three discs, is sincere, exquisitely produced, catchy, thoughtful classic rock. The only thing outsider about it is that it ignores trends, so it’s more timeless than hip. And also that it’s packaged with Flabby’s signature bizarre, filthy illustrations (as featured in video segments on his access shows). The cover art is him in a bikini with giant boobs giving first aid to a bloody Statue of Liberty, and inner art includes drawings of a fat mermaid eating fast food, a stoned Ronald McDonald, and a poop cartoon titled “Bridget Jones Diarrhea.” Thus, he will remain on “the outside,” due to sensibilities, politics, and weirdo-ness, but as far as making un-self-aware music, this is about as outsider-ish as late Beatles.