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.