Wednesday, December 17, 2008

YOU'RE irrelevant!

Soundcheck asks the loaded question, staging the next round in the "everyone's a critic" vs. "no one's a critic" neverending title bout. Irrelevant, irreplaceable, both, none of the above, I don't know. I'm not sure it's really worth that much sweat, either, not in the way the question is currently being framed. I think the job, role, hobby, fetish, whatever it is has shifted. It's less gatekeeper, more curator. There's just too much, both in breadth and depth. I'd say what the grassroots armchair off-the-shelfers do is absolutely necessary for the salaried wordsmiths. Rolling Stone can do the Dylan worship without any support, but who's going to make sure Bon Iver goes from self-released to #29 in less than a year?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lode/Load: December 15, 2008

The whole "holiday shopping for myself" excuse is wearing pretty thin...

Also, I've reevaluated: I think Sound Fix is a pretty good record store. And Academy, too, I guess.

Anduin | Forever Waiting | Smtg Ltd | Purple Swirl
Animal Collective | Feels | Fat Cat | Black 2xLP
Bush, Kate | Hounds of Love | EMI | Black
Cold Cave | The Trees Grew Emotions and Died | Dais | Black | 427/500
Der Teenage Panzerkorps | Harmful Emotions | Siltbreeze | Black | Cut & Paste Artwork
Fennesz | Black Sea | Touch | Black
Fleet Foxes | S/T | Sub Pop | Black 2xLP
Hercules and Love Affair | S/T | DFA/EMI | Black 2xLP
Sic Alps | U.S. EZ | Siltbreeze | Black

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lode/Load: December 13, 2008

Positives: Putz and K-Rod make things look goooood in the late innings come April.
Negatives: Madoff, give Wilpon his fucking money back.

Real victory for the week: finding that Pink Reason EP, dick-swastika edition (it's a real charmer). Didn't think that would happen for a while.
Real bust for the week: Why didn't I pick up that Cold Cave?


Blank Dogs | Stuck Inside the World | Daggerman | Black
Condominium | Pupils | Self-Released | Black
Dead Luke | Record One | Sacred Bones | Black
Dead Luke | Record Two | Sacred Bones | Black
Dead Luke | Running Scared | Sweet Rot | Black
Drunken Barn Dance | A Winter's Tale b/w Evelyn Wears a Tiara| Leroy St. | White
Men's Recovery Project | Normal Man | Gravity | Black
Pink Reason | Throw It Away | Criminal IQ | Black
Pretty & Nice | Tora, Tora, Tora | Leroy St. | Black | 2nd Test Press, 4/10


Animals & Men | Never Bought, Never Sold | Mississippi | Black
Drunkdriver | Born Pregnant | Parts Unknown | Black
Invasion | S/T | La Vida Es Un Mus | Black
Los Llamarada | Take the Sky | S-S | Black
Los Llamarada | The Exploding Now | S-S | Black
Pretty & Nice | Pink & Blue | Leroy St. | Translucent Blue
Sex Vid | Communal Living | Dom America | Black
Sods | Recordings 78-79 | Kong Paere | Yellow Marble

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lode/Load: December 7, 2008

I have more things to say later in the week when my muscles reform.


Francis Harold and the Holograms | Nowhere b/w Pick Me Up | Punk Music | Black | /100
King Khan/Jacuzzi Boys | Split | Florida's Dying | Black


Blank Dogs | The Fields | Woodsist | Black
Chronic Seizure | Ancient Wound | Fashionable Idiots/No Way | Black
Mutators | Secret Life | Nominal | Translucent Red
Wavves | S/T | Woodsist | Black

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lode/Load: November 30, 2008

Closing out November with some rare scores and singles that I didn't plan on. Thanks, Academy.


Comet Gain | Love Without Lies b/w Books of California | What's Your Rupture? | Black
Jacuzzi Boys | I Fought a Crocodile b/w Blowin' Kisses | Rob's House | Black
Melchior, Dan und Das Menace | She's So Blank | Almost Ready | Black
Nodzzz | I Don't Wanna (Smoke Marijuana) | Make a Mess | Black


Big Black | Atomizer | Homestead | Black
Jawbreaker | Unfun | Shredder | Black
Sugarcubes | Life's Too Good | Elektra/Asylum | Black

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lode/Load: November 29, 2008

Things to be thankful for...


Limpwrist | Want Us Dead | Lengua Armada | Black
Middle Class | Out of Vogue | Frontier | Translucent Blue
No Talk | Tighten the Noose | AG82/Cutthroat/Death Exclamations/Psychowolf | Black
Secret Prostitutes | S/T | AG82/Cutthroat/Death Exclamations/Psychowolf | Black


Springsteen, Bruce | Dream Baby Dream | Blast First Petite | Black | 7243/8000


31Knots | Talk Like Blood | Polyvinyl | Black
31Knots | The Days and Nights of Everything Anywhere | Polyvinyl | Black
American Football | S/T| Polyvinyl | Black
Braid | Frame & Canvas | Polyvinyl | Black
Collections of Colonies of Bees | Customer | Polyvinyl | White
Eiafuawn | Birds in the Ground | Pillowscars | Black
Fischer, Kyle | Open Ground | Polyvinyl | Black
Jawbreaker | Etc. | Blackball | Black 2xLP
Jawbreaker | 24 Hour Revenge Therapy | Tupelo-Communion Conspiracy Theory | Black
Make Believe | Going to the Bone Church | Flameshovel | Black | 752/1000
Make Believe | Shock of Being | Flameshovel/Polyvinyl | Black
Nobunny | Love Visions | 1-2-3-4 Go! | Translucent Orange
Oooga Boogas | Romance and Adventure | Aarght! | Black
Owen | S/T | Polyvinyl | Black
Owen | At Home With... | Polyvinyl | Black
Owen | I Do Perceive | Polyvinyl | Black
Owen | No Good For No One Now | Polyvinyl Black
Rainer Maria | A Better Version of Me | Black
Rainer Maria | Long Knives Drawn | Black
Rainer Maria | Look Now Look Again | Polyvinyl | Black

V/A | Fight On, Your Time Ain't Long | Mississippi | Black

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I am listening to Chinese Democracy right now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lode/Load: November 23, 2008

My bones ache. Big scores en route this week.


Divisions | S/T | Human Crush | Black


Beirut | Gulag Orkestar | Ba Da Bing | Black
Better Beatles | Mercy Beat | Hook or Crook | Black
Cold Sweat | Severed Ties | Rock and Roleplay | Black
Have Heart | The Things We Carry | Bridge Nine | White/Yellow/Green
Love Is All | A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night | What's Your Rupture | Black
Nodzzz | S/T | What's Yourr Rupture? | Black
Say Anything | ...Is a Real Boy | Doghouse | White 2xLP
Shorebirds | It's Gonna Get Ugly | Rumbletowne | Black
Verse | Aggression | Rivalry | Grey

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Polyvinyl is having a Black Friday sale...

All those records I've always put off saying "Oh, I'll get them some other time..."

Forgive me, Lord, for what I am about to do...

1 x 31Knots - The Days and Nights of Everything Anywhere LP - Black
1 x 31Knots - Talk Like Blood LP - 180 Gram Black
1 x Braid - Frame and Canvas LP - 180 Gram Black
1 x American Football - American Football LP - 180 Gram Black
1 x Kyle Fischer - Open Ground LP - 180 Gram Black
1 x Collections of Colonies of Bees - Customer LP - White
1 x Make Believe - Shock of Being LP - 180 Gram Black
1 x Make Believe - Going to the Bone Church LP - 180 Gram Black
1 x Owen - Package: All 4 Owen LPs Package Deal
1 x Rainer Maria - Long Knives Drawn LP - Black
1 x Rainer Maria - A Better Version of Me LP - Black
1 x Rainer Maria - Look Now Look Again LP - 180 Gram Black


"Thank you for ordering from Polyvinyl."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

“Now we've seen what happens when tens of millions of choices are thrown in the air and land on the floor.”

This has been the dreamt-of shape of things to come. Digital music is supposed to break format and form, dissolving binds and allowing for more fluid audio consumption. It rewards quantities of quality over multitudinous shit yoked to a couple workhorse tracks. This is the saviour of the music; with the demise of the head, that strange oligarchy of predestined hitmakers, the utopian tail takes over. It's like playing on the floor in front of the stage. Power transfers from Empire Records' "The Man" to Radiohead, Brian Eno, and the little guys, from big-britched Sub Pop to Brooklyn bedroom operations. Diltettantism finds a charitable end.

Too bad that's what the tail actually looks like for digital music, maligned into resembling the exact same shape as, guess what, the brick-and-mortar industry dinosaur's sales curve. Turns out they're not that different. And what do you expect? Instead of non-purchases, you have "theft." Sampling, laziness, righteous indignation, general indifference, or maybe even just a different consumption paradigm motivate the savvy music downloader, while the people buying digital music are probably the same inclined to shop at Tower or Best Buy. Effectively, there's no real difference, just a different arena.

That's not to say that the long tail doesn't have its purposes, or even its truths. I think it just requires a different consideration of what the "industry" is, and how artists can support themselves. Trying to convert the historic model of superstardom and name recognition into a scalable middle class model doesn't work, because the tail doesn't necessarily pertain to economics. What it does pertain to, however, is the idea that the cottage industry can have a much bigger, albeit still relatively small, splash in a much bigger pond. I've said it before, but this is the Era of the Amateur. A return to multidisciplinarianism. The reintegration of music into everyday life as an art, a hobby, an honest-to-God passion.

The fallacy of the digital medium's vestigial tail speaks to the importance of both permanence and physicality that music now possesses. If you want that party jam, just because, you're still not going to pay for it. CD death doesn't necessarily mean that iTunes will be able to sculpt a phoenix out of the ashes. A real patron will still buy the record, with mp3 download now included. So keep on pressin' and rippin'. I'm buying in.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The dinosaur reflects...

With an attempt at amplifying the whimper, TRL went out yesterday. I didn't see it, nor did I care to, as its prolonged half-decade decline hadn't given me any reason to rush off the bus and catch The After School Special, competing in the same time slot as Christopher Lowell for the stay home moms. "Hegemony" gets tossed around a bunch when talking about TRL's run through the nineties and up to the less serious pre-9/11 years, and I think that's pretty fair. It was also the last bastion of music on Music Television; now with the surreality of "Paris Hilton's My New BFF" (rightfully) heading up the fleet, maybe the diaspora's actually finished. The ghost given up.

Idolator has the best analysis/nostalgia trip I've seen so far. They also provided me with the TRL Top Ten, as far as influential videos on the teen scream fest:
1. Britney Spears - Baby One More Time (1/12/99)
2. Eminem - The Real Slim Shady (6/30/00)
3. Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way (6/29/99)
4. N*Sync - Bye Bye Bye (3/14/00)
5. Christina Aguilara - Dirrty (10/15/02)
6. Kid Rock - Bawitdaba (2/15/00)
7. Beyonce feat. Jay-Z - Crazy in Love (6/15/03)
8. Usher feat. Ludacris and Lil Jon - Yeah (10/5/04)
9. Blink-182 - What’s My Age Again (10/17/00)
10. OutKast - Hey Ya! (9/15/03)
I gotta say, that's pretty damn good, even with the holes. No Aaliyah? And what about "The Boy Is Mine," or the Nas/Diddy crucifix controversy?

It's strange that I can still recall those incidental occurrences from almost ten years back in some cases, but maybe it speaks to the power of TRL, when it really served as the pop(ulist) forum for music that everyone could/should agree on. It was all about mass appeal, and they never failed, until new forms that allowed for even more direct contact than that television dinosaur.

Maybe I'll check in on it, after all...

Wear what you hear...

Sounds.Butter is my new favorite people.

Sound as artifact is such a fraught arena, because there's really no limits to what can be done, considering the impossibility of really capturing solid audio. Digital forms exacerbate this; it gets closer in proximity, but lacks the elegance of a wave. Using the sewing machine, which operates on its own pattern creation, turned into a speaker, or an oscilloscope, is really pretty ingenious. And sartorializing audio certainly makes you reconsider the vestigial trappings that really are rather arbitrary compared to the wave form's fidelity to the original.

TV on the Radio on the silver screen...

Jonathan Demme may have seen the inevitability of post-Election Day 2008 America before anyone else, though it's hardly an original premonition. Watching Rachel Getting Married made think first how unimportant and boring this kind of dead-sibling-rehab-trainwreck-life narrative of familial salvation is, but how it can be set in a truly mesmerizing melting pot world.

It doesn't explode for Demme. The sticks of butter he drops into the crock don't just merge at the seams, they homogenize thoroughly and are poured back into wholy recognizable casts. There's no depth, though, just a pure surface meaning that is intent on legibility and first impression. Here's a movie that is post-class, post-race, post-taste, even; there is something that is good, and there is something that is bad, and further distinguishment isn't necessary. Campy but expensive. Personal but expansive. Wholly inclusive but wholly insular, too. This is a petri dish that you could say was a success, but you still leave confined to the lab.

Where else are you picked up from rehab in an dusty, old-money Mercedes to be ferried to the rustic throwback suburban family manner? To be a part of an Indian wedding of your white tri-state area shrink sister and her black, Hawaiian, probably musician-entrepreneur husband? It's all so perfectly crafted to feel like home, that you never consider that this weird place doesn't exist. Where two strange families actually fit into the puzzle, adoring musical toasts from rappers, indie rockers, old jazz hands, and a couple of kids who contort Hendrix's guitar burning sound from a national anthem to a wedding march.

It's only right that Tunde Adibempe, lead singer of TV on the Radio, masters of cultural elision, is the bridesgroom, and delivers the best performance. His presence alone imbues the whole scenario with some kind of credibility, and when he speaks, it's as if to say "I don't need to participate in this fiction." If only he could've shown how on to something Demme was, and gotten the yawnful narrative arc dropped for the strangeness of this dramatized home video for the perfect hipster-as-mainstream wedding.

Note: Almost forgot to mention how fucking cool Adibempe is, clearly. Dude is legit.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jawshrine or Crimpbreaker?

Blake Schwarzenbach and Aaron Cometbus have a new band? And they played in Brooklyn this week? This should be interesting...

After the Jawbreaker and Crimpshrine break-ups, I've been more compelled by the other projects that have sprung up, as opposed to the respective principals' efforts. But with the supporting cast from each of those bands temporarily out of the game for now, I have to wonder if the team-up will be as wonderful as everyone wants it to be...or if it's just going to be two old guys singing about their feelings. Do superpowers still have superpowers?

The clip isn't enough to really judge anything, but it's got me optimistic that yes they can.

More details? From the 'breaker himself:
“I can say only that it’s loud and tender and we’re called the Thorns Of Life. whether it’s more Jetsesque or Breaker-like I honestly don’t know; It sounds like a storehouse of fond hatred from the last few years and in the now.”

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Somehow weird or sloppy..."

The idea is that now that we embraced a change agent-in-chief, we have to do the work of supporting the (hopefully evolutionary) transformation of the future. It's being tossed around all over the place, perhaps best by an article about Obamaism in New York magazine; it's our specific brand of what should be called Futurism except for the sneaky artists who stole it.

I always had a hard time imagining this kind of future. There's a fog of war that still shrouds anything past January 20th, but I can't help but hope that the gears really have started turning. Because it's a responsibility that the activist in everyone has to take up. Josie's review of the new Cause Co-Motion! collection of EP's, from 2005 to 2008, is notable not just because she writes with such grace and acumen, but also because her final critique of the oxymoronically named band challenges not just their ho-hum past sound, but the culture as a whole from the malaise of the past near decade:
Yet, the tiredness of this exercise as a whole, the extent to which it fails even when it succeeds, suggests that music, too, needs to stop reliving the psychodrama, fear and inward focus of the Cold War. Clinton’s election seemed to mark the end of isolation – the underground burst forth – but it was merely a respite. Punxatawny Phil saw his shadow, electro got eaten up in yet another wave of incompetent rock. Winter is over, and it’s time to figure out what, aesthetically, our generation is all about. Imagine: someone, a group of people, might come up with an entirely new mode of expression; how freaking exciting is that?! Yes, we can.
She also fit the word spandrel in there. Game, set, match.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lode/Load: November 9, 2008

If you see a kid riding around my green Mercier with gold wheels, probably around the East Village, with a Fuck It Tapes, Daniel Striped Tiger, The Vicious, and Government Warning sticker, punch him in the face for me. The past two weeks' mail order is now calling me.


Birth Control | Going to Target | Fashionable Idiots | Black
Buzzer | S/T | Douchemaster | Black
Chronic Seizure | Live on WHPK | Fashionable Idiots | Clear
Cult Ritual | 3rd EP | Drugged Conscience | Black
Herds | S/T | Fashionable Idiots | Black
Little Claw | Race to the Bottom | Siltbreeze | Black
Loser Life | Life Number Two | Rock Bottom | Yellow
Muslims | Parasites b/w Walking With Jesus | I Hate Rock N Roll | Black
N.N. | S/T | Lengua Armada | Clear
Timber | S/T | Something Crucial | Black
American Cheeseburger/Canadian Rifle | Rock Bottom | Black


31Knots | It Was High Time to Escape | Forge Again | Translucent Red | /200
31Knots | Worried Well | Polyvinyl | Black
Body | S/T | Obscurist Press/Mau Mau | Black
Clean | Compilation | Little Axe | Black
Des Ark | Loose Lips Sink Ships | Bakery Outlet | Black
Earth | The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull | Southern Lord | Gold 2xLP | Bible Edition
Exploding Hearts | Guitar Romantic | Dirtnap | Black
Failures | S/T | Clean Plate/Youth Attack! | Clear
FIYA | Better Days | Obscurist Press | Black
FIYA | Make Joy, Make Strength | Obscurist Press | Black
Hank IV | Refuge in Genre | Siltbreeze | Black
Have Heart | Songs to Scream at the Sun | Bridge Nine | Translucent Blue
Leusemia | S/T | Lengua Armada | Clear
Libyans | S/T | Upstate Chamber | Black | Paper Airplane
Mind Eraser | Conscious Unconscious | Clean Plate | Translucent Yellow
Music Tapes | ...For Clouds and Tornadoes | Merge | Black

Pink Razors | Leave Alive | Houseplant | Black
Psychedelic Horseshit | Magic Flowers Droned | Siltbreeze | Black
Ringers | Curses | 1-2-3-4 Go! | Translucent Red
Sisters | S/T | Parts Unknown | Black
Black Pus/Foot Village | Split | DNT | Black
Intelligence/Thee Oh Sees | Split | Mt. St. Mtn. | Black
Sidetracked/Dead Radical | Split | 16oh/Mangled Ankle | Black

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lode/Load: November 7, 2008

Change is good. Here's the San Francisco haul. Thanks, Amoeba SF, Amoeba Berkeley, 1-2-3-4 Go!, and Aquarius.


Lewis, Jenny | The Next Messiah | Warner Brothers | Black
Q and Not U | Book of Flags b/w X-Polynation | Dischord | Black
Crimson Curse/Festival of Dead Deer | Split | Three One G | Black | Square Format

Khayembii Communique/Vidablue | Split | Blood of the Young | Translucent Blue


Against Me! | As the Eternal Cowboy | Fat Wreck Chords | Black
Bananas | New Animals | Recess | Translucent Yellow
Bound Stems | The Family Afloat | Flameshovel | Black | 318/500
Braid | The Age of Octeen | Mud | Black
Brimstone Howl | We Came In Peace | Alive | Translucent Purple
Bum Kon | Drunken Sex Sucks | Maximumrocknroll/Smooch | Black
Crystal Antlers | S/T| Touch and Go | Black
Kidnappers | Ransom Notes & Telephone Calls | FDH | Translucent Peach
Lewis, Jenny | Acid Tongue | Warner Brothers | Black 2xLP
Minutemen | Double Nickels On The Dime | SST | Black 2xLP
Smalltown | The Music | Deranged | Black
Funeral Diner/The Shivering | Split | Unfun/Into the Hurricane/City Boot | Black

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ATTN: People more resourceful than me...

This has leaked somewhere, somehow, beyond the listening jam sesh that everyone is geeking out about, and while I understand that I should wait until January, you also need to understand that I will not wait. Promising leads? Get at me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lode/Load: October 29, 2008

Crucial, crucial records.


Brain Handle | Smiling b/w Smiling Again | Iron Lung | Black
Cola Freaks | Ingenting Set EP | Hjernespind | Black
Sex Vid | Drugging | Kill Test | Black
Sex Vid | Voyeur | Dom America | Black
So Cow | Commuting | Going Underground | White
Tyvek | Sidewalk b/w Future Junk | M'Lady's | Black
Vivian Girls | I Can't Stay b/w Blind Spot | In the Red | Black


Assassinators | Sigt Efter Hjertet | Alerta Fascista/Rebel Scene | Black
Socialcide | Unapproachable | Even Worse/Kangaroo | Black

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hardcore boys hardcore...

What's it gonna take to get some Jerkoffs recordings? Fuck the rest of the playlist, gimme some of that. Mainstream queercore representation, true that. I believe "pigfuck" has hit closest to the mark (Wonder what Martin thinks of this). Now if only the LES, fictional or otherwise, fell in line with this again, we might be able to avoid the real clusterfuck that is the faux-fey, anemic, indie blah scene. Newsflash: that tussle look only works when you actually sweat to get it.

The best thing for us all may be for the tide to roll back. The danger's gone, I don't think I've ever really felt it, and maybe that's not so swell. Punk rock for the punks. And cheap food, too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lode/Load: October 19, 2008

Light week on the incoming product, heavy week on the outgoing funds. Much bigger update to come in the coming days.


Black SS | Foreign Object | Reaper/Organized Crime | Orange Splatter
Black Time | Double Negative | In The Red | Black
Harvey Milk | Courtesy and Goodwill Towards Men | Chunklet | Dark Grey 2xLP
Harvey Milk | My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be | Chunklet | Red & Gold 2xLP | /80

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Simulacra and the Name

It's a dubious coincidence that keeps happening at work, this butting up against musicians preying on the appellative arraignment of those that came before. First, it was the Better Beatles, a 1980's Omaha degenerative combo that was the Bizarro Four. These dudes didn't even bother with songwriting, going straight for the hatchet job, and recombining hits like "Penny Lane" into a much more visceral, physical hit. Always to the dome, be it bludgeoned or inhaled.

I blame this on Pandora, as I do the next one. The Dutchess & The Duke channel was on full tilt, with perfect picks rolling out of that robot, so when someone piped up to ask what was on, I got really confused when I read Boris Smile. This is some weird nameology here; what kind of commentary is going on when a folked out band takes band name and album title without any further permutation? How does this relate back to Boris at all, a band already fucking with iconography and its own musical ancestry?

I have no idea. But it has to, for some reason, big or small, superficial or endlessly philosophical. The relationship may be forced, but it's still there. We can't help but draw the connection, the way we can't help but read a word on a page. If you put a hat and a shoe next to each other, after all, you'll try to find meaning, even if the whole point is that it's pointless to try. Imitation is flattery, but I don't know what to call assuming the one concrete thing that can identify something as slippery as identity, a name.

And what the hell would we be thinking about The Offspring if they really had jacked "Chinese Democracy (You Snooze you Lose)?" We would've at least finally been able to put that name to a record, and maybe it would've been the right one. Finally.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The First Real Victim of This Economic Massacre...

Stock up on this like it was World War 3, motherfuckers. "Like with Polaroid film," Sophia says.

Goddamn right.

I don't have time to be sad yet, more moral outrage and righteous indignation are still full tilt.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lode/Load: October 12, 2008

In The Red, Siltbreeze, and Parts Unknown new releases are not included in this batch. Good for me, bad for the bank. I just need to hunt 'em down now...


Amdi Petersen's Arme | Blod Ser Mere Virkeligt Ud Da Film | Havoc | Black
Bonneman, P.J. | Jeg Kendte Dem Ikke | Spild Af Vinyl | Black
Inmates | Now We Talkin Hardcore! | Kangaroo/Even Worse | Black
No Hope For The Kids | Angels of Destruction/Das Reich | Hjernespind | Black
Young Wasteners | S/T | Hjernespind | Black


Dead Dog | S/T | Mauled By Tigers | Black
Dead Mechanical | Medium Noise | Toxic Pop | White
Golden Error | S/T | Shandi/Mind No Mind | Black
Hank IV | Third Person Shooter | Hook or Crook | Black
Imaginary Icons | S/T | Daggerman | Black | 225/500
Invasion | La Caza | La Vida Es Un Mus | Black
Turpentine Brothers | S/T | Alien Snatch | Black

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Silver linings, a futures commodity...

It's been a fun ride down, I'd say...mostly. The sad faces and blue balls on the Street are mildly entertaining (next stop, financial gladiatorial games), but the hammer poised above the heads of those near and dear is still a little too Poe-tic for me. No pendulum, no pit, no thank you.

I can't help but be curious what it looks like when everything breaks, though. I don't want an apocalypse, but I wouldn't mind seeing it. When's our escape from New York going to happen? Is there an end in sight? And more than that, now that the water's pulled all the way back, when does the wave come crashing back? I'm ready to stand on the beach for it.

Because all in all, things are still pretty normal for me. Even weirder, the underground seems to be teeming with even more energy than before. I mean, I can't keep up with all the new stuff coming out. Maybe we're already surfing the wave to the high ground. Maybe we're outside the storm walls, and the levees won't break, and the creative bloom that seems to be in full effect by the people will actually outlive all of these bumps along the road. I like to think that's all going to happen, especially since I'm living in the pecuniary moment, day to day. Savings is a dream. I consider myself investing in today.

Or maybe this is all wrong and I'll be selling apples on the corner wondering how anyone overvalued all that culture produce-waste. Maybe it really is back to basics, not back to the future.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Time Off?

I'm still around, I'm just taking the proper time to sit shiva and properly grieve. See above.

Also it's been one hell of a week at work. And at home. Anyways, the New Year's out of the way. Up next? Atonement. That includes you, Sterling Mets.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lode/Load: September 28, 2008

Another week, another slew of records. Nothing from the ol' brick-and-mortar, too much rain this weekend.


Autistic Youth | I Want to See Every Tower Fall | Rock Bottom | Black
Black SS | S/T | Third Party | Black
Estranged | Sacred Decay | Green Noise | Black


Autistic Youth | Landmine Beach | Sabotage/Taken By Surprise | Black
Estranged | Static Thoughts | Dirtnap | Black
Lucky Dragons | Dark Falcon | Marriage | Black
Lucky Dragons | Dream Island Laughing Language | Marriage | Black
Tranzmitors | S/T EP | Deranged | Black

Friday, September 26, 2008

Things I learned tonight about Republican self-identification, as shown through Hollywood imagery...

This is what the nominee sees in the mirror.

This is not what the nominee sees in the mirror.

So who's his Goose?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Like a mountain rolling downhill...

This space should be filled with me talking about the first Blank Dogs show, but instead I ended up staying in listening to the recordings and trying to get the train back on the tracks.  Regardless, you should listen to them, and find their records.  It took me a little while to realize how good they are.  Don't make that same mistake.  Or the mistake I made of missing the show.

Lode/Load: September 21, 2008

I don't know what happened, but I definitely maxed out my post office usage in the past week or so. There was a whirlwind of mail order that came rolling in, so now I've got a lot of listening material as I try to accrue some more funds to keep it going. 16oh, Deer Healer, Troubleman, and Bistro come through with the goods this time around. I'm laying off of Academy for a while. Sorry, recession.


Busy Signals | Can't Feel a Thing b/w All the Time | Shit Sandwich | Black
Cola Freaks | S/T | Hjernespind | Clear
Cola Freaks | Dodt Batteri b/w Nej | Local Cross | Black
Die Kreuzen | Cows and Beer | Barbarian | Black
Dutchess & The Duke | Never Had a Chance b/w Scorpio | Hozac | Black
Eddy Current Suppression Ring | Demon's Demands b/w I'm Guilty | Iron Lung | Black
Estranged | Entranced | Dead Ideas | Black
Fever | SES | 16oh | Black
Herds | Spring b/w Katmai | Deer Healer | Black
Jacuzzi Boys | Island Ave. | Hozac | Black
Muslims | Extinction b/w My Flash On You | Sweet Tooth | Black
Sheryl's Magnetic Aura | Like You Mean It + 3 | Loose Change | Black
Sleepwalkers RIP | Play Our Sound | Dead Ideas | Black
Sleepwalkers RIP | Young and Old b/w Life or Death | Hovercraft | Black
Sojourner | Tour EP | 16oh/Animal Style | Black
Waste Management | Get Your Mind Right EP | Painkiller | Black
Autistic Youth/Estranged | Split | Black Water | Black
V/A | PDX | Black Water | Black


Mt. Eerie | Black Wooden Ceiling Opening | P.W. Elverum & Sun | White


Davila 666 | S/T | In the Red | Black
Eddy Current Suppression Ring | Primary Colours | Goner | Black
Mount Eerie | Lost Wisdom | P.W. Elverum & Sun | White
No Hope for the Kids | S/T | Feral Ward | Black
Observers | So What's Left Now | Vinyl Warning | Black
Wax Museums | S/T | Douchemaster | Black

Primitive music will one day require primitive reactions.

Side rant:  Shows are social events and everyone wants a good story and maybe even a good lay out of one, but what the fuck is up with the total lack of class and respect in so many Ritalin-addled, reject, cool kid crowds lately?  I mean, I'm happy to see my friends and catch up, but it's a show.  A show that musicians are playing.  Musicians that you allegedly like.  So why not pay attention?  You can hear where the noise wall is erected, the amorphous line where the audience has tuned out and become completely engrossed in themselves.  Punk rock shows, whatever, throw people through a wall, for all I care.  But at an obviously quiet, intimate performance, shut the fuck up or go outside.  Julie Doiron was all but inaudible last night, which is a goddamn shame, because all the kids who were "there for the music" totally should have been into her, especially considering she's part of the Mt. Eerie line-up on "Lost Wisdom."  Todd P actually had to get up on stage and tell people to quiet down because Julie was way too polite, and once it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop, she launched into one of the most moving and beautiful songs of the whole night.

It doesn't make sense, because this music isn't that "hip," so why are people showing up just to be seen and heard?  It's Williamsburg, there's plenty of other street corners you can stand on with your incandescent retro threads and purposefully poorly groomed hair growth.  Don't turn the venue into the ball pit, because there's actual value lost from the bullshit antics.  The void incarnate that is nearly every individual painting their pants on and "being" for a living should remain in the quarantine and stop the blight before it gets too serious.

Because it's not cool when these kids are either willfully destructive or retardedly unaware with their actions.  Todd P is the backbone of cheap, quality shows, and if he wasn't doing what he's doing (for the love of it, mind you) there wouldn't be any scene.  So when he asks people to respect the neighborhood and be mindful of the neighbors, it's infuriating when two All-American Rejects rejects more or less spit in the face of the request and do something stupid, like burn a showpaper.  Not only are you destroying a labor of love that keeps your dumb asses informed, you're also destroying any goodwill that was formed.  You really have to wait for Todd to come over and tell you that that shit doesn't fly?  You, with the atrocious thrift gold leather jacket and the horrendous mustache that screams "I have no personality to speak of and I'd give my right hand to get laid if it didn't fuck me over for good?"  Or you, the chubby sidekick unaware that your bushy facial weeds are anything but appealing and that American Apparel makes XL purple hoodies with the intent of selling to the not-small masses like yourself, the perennial not-a-fan music fan who works at a record store because it's easier than dieting and just as mindless?

I'm usually pretty good at tuning out, but sometimes, when I spend a little too much time as a stranger among us, I can't wait to get back to Prospect Heights and wait for the fences to go up around that wasteland.  Hope I don't see you at Academy anytime soon, asshole.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Can we turn the other two down?"

Got stuck at work talking about everything and watching a mild amount of crunk gettin' got, so I ended up getting to the Mt. Eerie show a little bit late.  Thank God I wasn't any later than I was, though, or I would've been shut out of the candlelit, hauntingly appropriate Lutheran Church of the Messiah in Greenpoint.  A big space, and a lot of people, and a glowing light of our saviours coming from the stage had me confused as to why so many people were leaving.  I missed Woods, which is a bummer, but I've also seen them a million times.  The exodus still made no sense to me, but such is life.  Eight bucks later, I was in, when I saw some familiar faces including one who's been in Tibet for a year.  Ten minutes later, and another twenty-three bucks out of my pocket and into P.W. Elverum's, I was working my way towards the front for the rest of the show.

Julie Doiron came on with shadows being thrown all over and Fred Squire on drums.  Now, Eric's Trip I'm no stranger to, but Julie's solo stuff I never had heard, really.  And I had definitely never heard her like I did on Mt. Eerie's "Lost Wisdom," where her duets with Phil took the usual Eerie sound somewhere I didn't think it could go.  So needless to say, I was excited, and summarily enchanted and dragged around by my heart strings for the next hour.

I've got a soft spot for female singer-songwriters, but I guess I didn't really expect material as good as Julie's.  Feist, et al. comparisons don't really do justice, as she's really combing the depths of both the personal and collective American psyche.  Mournful melodies housed in her voice have seemingly infinite depth to them, and it comes effortless and hitherto as she moves back and forth from the microphone.  Her songs are less compositions and more journal entries; the twang she wrenches from bent chords is voluminous and speaks to a greater emotion than the standard singer-songwriter fare.  I understand why she's one of Phil's favorite singers; it's the same reason that Jason Molina as Songs: Ohia is so important.  The stripped down guitar and drums versions of things carry a little extra something that isn't there on the full fledged recordings.  It's like the skeleton being on display.

And, on top of that, Fred and Julie switched instruments and gave a brief preview of their new band "Calm Down It's Monday."  Unsurprisingly, it was great, a strange blend of western rollick with the bared emotive force of their other collaborations.  Only a couple live recorded demos, but apparently an album by Christmas?  Swoon.

So then it was Mt. Eerie's turn, which basically meant setting up a couple chairs for the on-stage duo and getting Phil to abandon the "souvenir table" as he called it and tell the young fools in the front to sit down so the rest of the seated assembly could see what was about to happen.

I was never a huge fan of the Microphones, but the transformation into Mt. Eerie, along with the establishment of P.W. Elverum & Sun Co., had me hooked pretty much instantaneously.  Phil seemed to move into a mythic frontier, where American history is still being composed and reconstituted, sometimes even destroyed.  A timelessness emanates from all of his projects.  Historicity provides weight.  You want to care about these songs, these artifacts, and the quality fulfills that wish.

Mt. Eerie on the new "Lost Wisdom" record, my favorite so far, consists of Phil and Julie and Fred, so it's something of a treat to see the first show of all three together.  They played the entirety of the album in a tender and heartwarming fashion.  It wasn't perfect, which made it that much more real, that much more identifiable.  To err certainly is human, the performers seemed to say, and there was a lot of humanity on display, both on stage and in the crowd and in the ether passing back and forth.  Even a well-crafted spell can be brittle and transient despite the power behind it, so the little lyrical slip-ups and false starts made the energy on display that much more genuine.

When Phil kept going after the trio stopped, it was fitting that he wound down the night by playing "Human."  The crowd recited the personal incantation with Phil, and I was happy to watch the bootlegger sitting next to me recording the show on a Zune.  A record of something like that seems most needed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Thin Line Between Symbiosis and Parasitism

That's the view I have from my browser window every time something new and important gets released.  I don't normally big up that which drains me, but in the case of Bistro Distro, you have to appreciate the job Troy does.  The music's non-stop, simple as that, by design.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Selling old things new for a killing? Or, tapes are popular now, too, so I guess it's back to CD's...

The following rumination brought to you by the good people at VLV and also the reason why I didn't buy pretty much any of SFJ's collection.

Increased vinyl production is not the new phenomenon most mainstream media wants it to be, but it's finally worth thinking about for two reasons: 1) It's getting noticed like it's new and 2) It's getting priced like it's new. Not only are major labels throwing their hats back in the ring, but so are major retailers. Is there really such a demand? Observational wisdom says yes; just check out the cost to maintain a collection now, it's incredible. Economic downturn, inflation, and all other reasoning aside, record prices are sharply increasing. Why? Let's discuss.

"Audiophilia." The number one front for the average impressionable new collector. "It just sounds better, man. You can really hear it." I'm not going to argue against the science behind this, but I will argue with the science being the actual impetus for audiophilic purchasing. Digital music is not far off in regards to quality, really. But it's the promise of purity, even if its imperceptible, that gets collectors opening up their wallets. 180 gram multiple LP gatefold mega releases are these hulking mammoths of "quality." Nevermind that most of this is either incomprehensible or irrelevant to the average buyer. If it's top notch, it's a gotta-have, so what's a couple extra bucks for the prestige that such a gem imparts? It's not like you can grab all these re-releases in every dollar bin across America.

Oh wait...well, actually, maybe not. That's not nearly as sharp a dig as it used to be, because while mainstream retailers are taking advantage of huge mark-ups on these deluxe new re-releases, used retailers are scaring up prices on classics due to increased demand. Routine dollar bin records I saw everywhere just a few months ago are now pulling in eight or ten bucks. That may not seem like a lot, especially compared to their deluxe companions' exorbitant tags, but it's still a 1,000% increase. And for what? Dusty classics that were produced by the boatloads thirty or forty years ago? Give me a break. Seriously.

I still don't own a lot of my favorite records because of an imperfect premonition/scientific calculation I make to figure out the best time to buy. I refuse to buy most major label albums (Dylan, Springsteen, Bowie, etc.) because I know that they're everywhere; it's just a matter of getting the deal. The same even goes for indie albums. Songs: Ohia's "Didn't It Rain?" is top five material for me, and I still don't own it, because I know it can easily be gotten, and I need that fifteen dollars, and maybe I'll find for only three. What ends up happening is my collection of obscure /500 records, some of which I don't even like that much, keeps growing, because the eBay mark-up is more terrifying than the initial cost.

I'm getting closer and closer to saying collecting as a trend is turning into collecting as a racket, as it becomes more and more of a quantifiably lucrative and trackable field. Music as art object is also music as commercial object. How ironic that the vinyl uprising, instigated largely by punks for economic reasons (can you believe records used to be a fraction of the cost of CD's?), is undermining its own initial foundation. Seeing common Dischord releases carrying double-digit price tags over covers reading "Never pay more than $8ppd" is a pretty huge bummer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prospecting, also known as taking advantage of someone else's incomprehensible choices.

When a critic puts his collection out to pasture, it's time to get to work. Discernment is key, but I'll let you know how the haul shapes up to be (if there is one; thanks for the scare, financial world).

Short sell? I'd say that's a good term for this.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On individuals who get back up when they haven't even fallen...

I feel like most people write off Kanye more than...well, let's just leave it at that. According to the man he was getting hated on before he even released "The College Dropout." The underdog mentality: start at the bottom even when you're at the top. It's the American way.

So yeah, album one, classic Kanye production and some green jollity. What's not to like? The new guy at the table, he's alright. Let him on in. So Kanye got his inch, and went beyond taking the mile. I mean, he's past the horizon at this point. He took himself from victim through the wire straight to martyr. Critics say if he ran his mouth on his records like he did to the media, maybe there wouldn't be so much to complain about.

So yeah, album two, and Kanye's mixin' it up. The honeymoon period over, but there's some definite growth in delivery. But the strength comes, again, on the beats. Keep it interesting, and when you have to call in the artillery, do it. Who thought AAA format could be integrated like that? No wonder Michel Gondry loves him.

So what, album three? Dude is starting to leave orbit for I don't know what. But that piano? The live instrumentation? Gone. Who needs that? It's the 21st century, motherfuckers. Get with the synth. Daft Punk, "Flashing Lights," and some real hyperkinetic album art mark this strange beast lumbering towards God knows what. It's got the Mark of Wayne, too; Kanye's coming out on the other side of the weird. It's beyond hip-hop now, it's art. The Artist would agree with this, I'm sure.

So after searching for a Britney meltdown from the 2008 Video MusicAwards and only getting a letdown of normaled proportions, I find a real notable: Kanye came back to MTV (going against his VMA snobbery due to repeated Moon-Man snubbery). This is what I got:

We've officially lost contact. Kanye's "Love Lockdown" premiere has the same kind of identity-shifting grandeur as when Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' folk-turned-glam 70's conglomeration passes beyond conventional rock star into extraterrestrial in "Velvet Goldmine." It's the same root as Prince losing his name, or Ziggy Stardust losing David Bowie. Self-conscious artist syndrome lifted beyond normal realms of consciousness. We're left with the artist as art.

It's a modernist pose, and a damn good one at that. Kanye references everyone from Ray Charles to Bowie to Kanye. The medium is the message. The words don't count, but the sound certainly does. Vocal delivery was "eh" live, but the beat and the look got me to the single. Now I'm hatin' on the fact that I can't keep hatin' for much longer.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lode/Load: September 6, 2008

Barely beat out former hurricane Hanna for today's scores.  It was worth it though.  All from Academy.


Bear Proof Suit | Objects in Mirror May Be Fucked Up | Repulsion | Black
Bear Proof Suit | Science Is Dead | Criminal IQ | Black
Romance Novels | Another Summer EP | Pizza Party | Black
Romance Novels | Peggy Sue EP | Hozac | Translucent Red | 146/200
Smith Westerns | Irukandji EP | Hozac | Black
Submarine Races | S/T | Shit Sandwich | Black
Wax Museums | Magnet EP | Fashionable Idiots | Black
Wax Museums | Traffic Violation EP | Douchemaster | Black


Broken Strings | S/T | True Panther Sounds | Black | 111/300
The Dutchess & The Duke | She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke | Hardly Art | Black

On "Groovy Hate Fuck" and the blueprint for western decline...

It's funny that Pussy Galore blew up (as in dissolved) and then The Message got out. Black Flag's "Damaged" is obviously the cornerstone for a hardcore of nihilism (PG was wont to cover their fair share of the Rollins era) but Jon Spencer and Julia Cafritz kept that rolling. Then came the inevitable break-up, the establishment of new projects that continued on to great renown (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Free Kitten), and the recognition of what was hiding in plain sight all along. I feel like so much nihilistic, dystopian rock music really speaks to the idea of prophecy in the American voice as outlined by Greil Marcus in "The Shape of Things to Come." So many of these musicians are far from outcasts, often integrated into broader culture but also the seedy underbelly. Perhaps it's a more holistic awareness combined with a certain cynicism that leads to this kind of sound; if you could take what you saw and extrapolated it out twenty years down the line, how would you feel?

All this comes from a really great interview of Julia Cafritz, relevant due to Free Kitten's recent resurrection. If you were wondering the new album "Inherit" is worth checking out, especially since it's a major shift stylistically. Cafritz admits that sonically it takes a turn for the worse, especially poignant considering she says "Free Kitten is an opportunity to express more dark as we live lightly." Life and art are imitable, but they're at their best when in discourse with each other.

What caught my eye, though, was the lead quote, which turned out to be the most poignant segment of the entire interview. Some of that old-fashioned prophesying is still at work, both in Free Kitten and Cafritz's life, continuous with a lot of ideas that came out in the days after punk got broken. What's it like to see a future and then watch it dissolve? What takes its place? Cafritz has this to say, and I'm still thinking on it:
New York was going to get taller, there would be sex clubs in buildings that catered to hospital fetishes. And there would be freeze-dried drinks at bars. In reality, because of 9/11, it's a run for comfort. It's the proliferation of cupcake shops. New York has tried to recast itself to look like the rest of America. Instead of rising like a phoenix, it retreated into itself.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The White Noise Ensemble

Longevity of distinctive sound produces a curious dichotomy in critical opinion. For a darling band, album one is just the start of it, album two separates the real deal from the other sophomores, and albums three through infinity just add to the legend. But it's albums three through infinity where it becomes mirky and contradictory: depending on the ears, it's either progress or stagnation. How exactly does that divide work?

At the root of this is the coverage of two new albums, "Worried Well" by 31 Knots and "You & Me" by The Walkmen. First, the part I'm on board with; nearly everything I've read agrees that these albums, numbers seven and four for each respective band, firmly fit into a signature sound. As Slant Magazine says, this tautological statement remains intact. Readily recognizable and easily fitting into the discography. That's not to say surprises and/or growth can't exist (the worms find the top of the can), but it's safe to say that you get about what you came for.

Now the perplexing; why are the Walkmen getting heaps of love and 31 Knots some serious second-guessing? First listen for both, I was pleased. More specifically, I thought the Walkmen album did the same thing it had done for the previous four albums (which I count as good), and 31 Knots continued to blow my mind. I mean, that band's been golden since the first release. So I wasn't that surprised to see Walkmen praise, but the assault that came at "Worried Well" from more than just a few prominent sources was definitely cause for consternation.

A look back at previous releases and their reception is necessary, and I think I'm starting to get it, as unpopular as it sounds. It's not necessarily each individual release's quality, but the ebb and flow of popular opinion to the general straight line that a consistent band draws through history. There's bumps, sure, and I'd never try to deny that some songs and albums are inevitably better in a distinguished discography, but generally speaking, the Walkmen and 31 Knots have been as strong a unit now as they ever were. So why does "You & Me" get the almost universal green light, while "A Hundred Miles Off" somehow smacks of staleness? With 31 Knots, the randomness and maybe general ignorance is even more pronounced; "Worried Well" gets trashed for overproduction, but the gap between 51-40 or Fight! releases and Polyvinyl releases for the band is all but ignored. Sequencing across albums provides a continuity of idea and sound that shows a sharing of strength and weakness, in different proportions for sure, but nonetheless there.

What I think it all comes down to is that no one wants to say "more of the same, and that's great." There's no such thing as even keel. The boat rocks, and it either crests the wave or it turtles. The onward march of progress demands quantifiable differences. But when no one's certain as to what those gains or losses are, it becomes arbitrary as to the value assigned. It's one confusing divide in the critical voice, and maybe just another reason why the only subjectivity that matters is your own.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"The name of the band is Failures."

Sean said it best: "They call themselves Failures when any one of their many projects is more than enough to retire on and look back on." Charles Bronson, Orchid, Ampere, Das Oath, Cut the Shit, Cancer Kids...and that's just the short list. Could we go on? Sure, but what's the point? You know the deal. Failures has a pedigree.

So it's not hard to figure out that the music rips. Loud, brash, and much more than just the sum of its parts. What is more intriguing, though, is what the sound means, where the aesthetic comes from, and what it means for the future of hardcore punk. Mark McCoy and Will Killingsworth are salty pillars of the community; the two of them responsible for Youth Attack! and Clean Plate, respectively, more or less the standard-bearers for the bright bleak future. It's a wedding of strict concern for punk ethics but more importantly punk art, and I think it all comes out in the music.

And the performance. The recorded material, complete with all its well-designed trappings, are more than enough, but this ain't no studio project; these motherfuckers mess shit up for real. At the live show, the electricity actually boils over. The noise is actually assaulting; none of that full wall overload nonsense, but razor sharp, brutally nihilistic jabs at your very core. If the buzzsaw riffage doesn't cut you up entirely, Mark can take care of that. He's the consummate frontman, all arms and legs attached to a flailing torso and equipped by an angry but brilliant head. More than anything, though, it's his snarl and grimace that never leave his face that really leaves the impression. It's the face of a generation, and it's all his movement.

All of this came out in the Cake Shop show today, and more. No pictures, because a camera can't survive that. Not when beer bottles are flying, Mark is assaulting the crowd, tearing at lights, and even running over Andrew. Even on stage, it's a kill or be killed game; protect yourself, even if it's from your own frontman. More than failure, it's about survival.

Friday, August 22, 2008

No Bunny? No Problem.

No Bunny's "Love Visions" is an album you're going to say up front that you don't like and that you don't want to hear. But you're going to listen to it, and then you're going to listen to it again, and...well, it'll be a routine before long. I mean, look at this dude; clearly knows how to party, and that's all I need.

Further evidence of partying. Seriously, what more do you need? Image source says that costumed back-up band support is provided here by the Wax Museums, who sing songs about real problematic teen shit like getting locked in the mall.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eisenhower is the father of the interstate highway system...

Heavy rotation; Best Friends Forever sings about touring and love, but they're really talking about any ol' memory.

Would you think it was stupid of me
to suggest that we don't get any sleep?
Even though we're getting up at 6 A.M.
to drive all the way to Michigan?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"This is like a last stand for webcasting."

Been down this road before, once hopeful, once despairing, and it looks like the third time's the charm, this time towards an elegy. If you haven't seen already, The Washington Post reported that Pandora will most likely be shutting down thanks to the draconian royalties of SoundExchange. It's a pretty dark day for digital music and radio and any internet-hopefuls who were looking forward to Music 2.0. Internet music start-ups can be rounded up by the barrel. They run the gamut from practical but boring to revolutionary and thus illegal. The thing about Pandora, though, is how effective it was: the Music Genome Project actually worked. The jaded masses will agree.

Next up on the industry's sado-masochistic plate? Muxtape. The recording industry's left it's black dot on Muxtape currently; visiting the site returns an image of an suitably unplayed cassette and the last words of "Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA." Great. Whereas Pandora did a lot of the legwork for you, Muxtape put musical exploration directly into the hands of those on the ground. You remember mixtapes, right? No? How about just "mixes" that powered you through long drives and maybe into a few lovers' beds? The chance of discovery of not just new intimacy but new tastes was the mission statement for Muxtape, and it was rather ingenious, rather simple: streaming mixes. Throw a bunch of songs into the easy user interface, click a few buttons (I'm going off of memory here), copy/paste the link, and BAM! New music for the masses. And it's streaming so except for the savvy out there this was all about the discovery and not the ownership. Guess that gig's up, too.

Pandora and Muxtape may not be completely out to pasture yet, and let's hope they don't get forced into the glue factory. I can't help but wonder what the industry might find out about itself if it spent half the time getting a long-overdue facelift instead of going after good ideas that illustrate the potential at the music/internet nexus. Until then, though, PopMatters is right:
The end result is another example of the industry and labels stupidly killing themselves off. But don’t worry, they’ll be sure to scapegoat everyone except themselves. And ultimately it won’t matter because they’ll be shrinking and bleeding more each day. Good sound business policy it ain’t.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Movies about records that will never get old.

This past year saw a definite 180 in my opinion of Todd Haynes. "I'm Not There" had me seeing red at first; whence comes these transgressions about iconography of icons? But that didn't last long. It starts to make sense when you see the machinery turning in all his features. "Far From Heaven," "I'm Not There," "Velvet Goldmine:" they all take a pastiche of a monumental time or thing, throw it into a blender, and pour out the essence of it all.

It's on mind after seeing "Velvet Goldmine" at McCarren Pool tonight. Part Citizen Kane, part glam, the time gets spent picking apart the different threads in Ewan McGregor's and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers's characters. It's not just the individuals - Bowie, Eno, Iggy Pop - all screwed up with each other, but the different times and places. The mythologies are boiled down, distilled, and poured out over the perfect superficies.

An experiential note: there was probably no better venue than McCarren Pool at dusk to watch "Velvet Goldmine." It's the kind of communal experience that brings out something fresh from sometimes familiar material and venues. The rumor mill has it that the Pool will once again become a pool after this summer, which is a real shame. There aren't many such places as characters like it.

Starting the collection isn't the problem, it's finishing it.

What I found today at Academy Records:
Add that to what I found at Eat Records the other day:
Granted, that's the easy part. Filling in the blanks of the truly hard finds should provide more than enough sport.

Also, in case you were ever wondering why you should never spend real money on real pop records:
Found on the street on the way back from Park Slope. There were a bunch of others, including Thriller, but it was too scratched for my taste. Always wait for a relative or a relative unknown to liquidate before dropping anything above the dollar mark on something like this.

And why is Sascha Frere-Jones dropping his collection? I'll refrain from libelous conjecture.

I still want a sticker that turns my ride into a national security threat.

So I mean, really, what's better on a Friday night than a bunch of earnest beard punk? Is that a proper term for this? Planet Plan-It-X, maybe. What is for sure is that a summer evening can certainly bring out the party and the olfactory in an otherwise dull side of town.

It was the first time I had been to The Fort, and it took a second to reacquaint myself to the familiar-but-different trappings of the punk house. Photographs and even descriptors don't really do much justice to the subtle and glaring differences between various abodes, but then again, who's really looking that close if you're on the outside? In any case, this particular spot definitely belonged to the Bloomington school; decor and odor both differed wildly from the noisy artists' residences in Providence and the crusty 80's revivalist basements in Boston to which I'm much more accustomed, despite the abundant eclecticism shared by all.

Half the show takes place on the stoop. There's an element that is always outside to serve as signpost, town crier, and skeptic for newcomers. Sometimes even as guard or look-out. I tend to go to shows alone and the approach can sometimes be a bit harrowing; these are all strangers, and since punk houses to tend to support a small army, they're all strangers that collectively don't know you. I ended up missing most of artists-in-residence opener Stupid Party, but having previewed the material, I was alright with missing the enthusiastic if generic set. The Gainesville-Bloomington axis on which the sound is firmly located isn't too hard to find, and that's why This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb was here.

Brief aside: Even beyond decorative and odorific differences was the anarchical crowd behavior. In Boston, where four-on-the-floor punk and hardcore is having a heyday of massive proportions, etiquette is a little more puritan. This is a given for dress (patches, Boston sports, and second skin denim to boot) but also for dancing. Channel that energy into the circle pit and get the two-step going. Here it was just mayhem: D.I.Y. hair cuts, uniquely mangled wardrobes, and alcoholic containers of every shape and form pogoed, thrashed, and generally bounced without any uniting theory except chaos. Even standing on the wall was no good; delineation between crowd and observer wasn't just protean, it was non-existant.

Northern Liberties followed and I can honestly say I wasn't really expecting what ended up happening. The set-up was typical: basic drum kit, overly stickered bass, and marching band drums to be manned by the dress-clad, Stardusted lead singer.

What followed was an extended space jam complete with snake charm bass riffs and a whole lot of vocal reverb mixed the occasional drum solo freakout. I don't know if anyone else saw it coming, but it didn't take long for the crowd to adapt, the battleground being defined by the grey area where exuberance and violence meet. Also, where the unacquainted and unabashed set the stage for night-long faux pas.

Case in point: leather sandals, heat trap jeans, and a sweater shirt disposed of once bad dancer guy decided this weird shit was too much for him not to be a part of. As if the rest of the kids losing their minds wasn't enough, we've got a human pinball causing much consternation by both excessive ground movement and excessive sweating. At least the ultra-aggro drunk kid knocking back the Yuengling in the white Partisans tee was misantrhopic enough to say fuck the world and stay out of the pit after being excised by consensus.

A compatriot on the wall demonstrates the only way to combat the ultimate trump card, a sweaty and naked back.

Here's a punk Statue of Liberty play. In case you couldn't tell, it's time for This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb. I'm waiting for the new album to come out on vinyl, but early listening shows it's more of the same, and in this case status quo is A-OK.

More anthems, more politics, more folk creeping into those oddly melodic bellows. That's what everyone was here for, and that's what everyone got...mostly. The old standards still set everyone in motion (how can you NOT be moving for Star Song), but there's something lacking nowadays in the live-set. The last time I saw them was at Plan-It-X Fest about three years ago with a radically butchered line-up, and I don't know if the supergroup I saw then was just infallible or they're losing it or maybe The Fort just couldn't provide the support necessary, but the band definitely sounded a little milquetoast. Too much liquid courage or maybe not enough, but I wasn't nearly as stoked as I thought I'd be.

Closing up was Shellshag, but by that point in the night I was exhausted and had to ride on home. My bad, at least I think. Checked 'em out later and ran across the record in Academy today, and I don't think I'm done with them. Apparently a two-piece, it seems they specialize in anthems: piano-driven, sludge-powered, even epic riffage, there's more than a few engines going on this thing. Hit or miss, but the LP on Starcleaner (which is also responsible for the Stupid Party 7") looks like it'll be worth it when I'm not so far in the red.