Friday, August 29, 2003

As usual, I enjoyed reading this week's Dustbin. I know I've mentioned this already but I've been following his column regularly ever since I discovered it a few months back, and now after reading his line about chanting pygmies and hiccoughing throat singers, I decided that, out of all the record collections I can think of, his would be the most interesting to explore.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

ENON, JAH DIVISION, and ROXY PAIN @ Mighty Robot (Brooklyn NY) - Aug 22, 2003
John Fitz of the Twisted Ones has been promoting shows in Brooklyn for the past few years and has finally decided to leave New York. As a result, the Twisted Ones put together a two night going away bash at the Mighty Robot.
The Mighty Robot is essentially a cleared out living room on the top floor of a two story house, complete with a makeshift stage and a sound/light system. A visual crew was on hand to project lights and films onto the bands and surrounding walls, creating an atmosphere I often associate with Andy Warhol-era Velvet Underground shows.

I showed up just after Roxy Pain started and was treated to a makeup wearing band playing very primitve rock with droning guitars and boy/girl speak/scream vocals. Combined with the visual experience, it was very exciting.

Going into the show, I was a bit intrigued about Jah Divsion -- I imagined some sort of cross between Bob Marley and Joy Division, or at least how the Clash may have sounded were they five years younger. A Yahoo search on Jah Division revealed a Russian band with the same name.
Instead, it was a bass/drums/keyboards/sampler quartet clad in Jamaican headbands and wristbands. Upon taking the stage the bassist announced it was their last show and then proceeded into a set of instrumentals. After a few songs of looping basslines and noise, including a cover of Joy Division's Transmission, I got a beer and stepped out onto the roof to wait for Enon.

I discovered Enon by accident three summers ago and fell in love with the band. I try to see them everytime I can because they are, consistently, the best band I have ever seen live. And so the excitement built as they set up their gear. Just as they were about a minute or two away from starting, some of the Twisted Ones pushed their way to the front and started talking to the band and then made a horrible announcement. The police were shutting down the party and if we didn't leave in next five minutes, we'd be arrested.
Dejected and upset, we filed out of the house and a handful of us regrouped outside about an hour later. After a long period of waiting and watching the promoters talking amongst themselves, we were let back in. With the threat hanging over us that the police could show up at any time and arrest us, I somehow felt a romantic notion about getting arrested for rock and roll.
Enon finally went on around 2am, but announced they would only play three songs. Understandably, it wasn't their greatest show but still managed a lively version of Old Dominion as well as two songs I'm guessing will be on their upcoming album.

They finished up around 2:30am and while the Panthers were still scheduled to go on, I was too tired to wait for them to set up only to play an abbreviated set. I listened to one of the mp3s on their website this morning and concluded that, under different circumstances, they could be pretty good to see live. Maybe next time.

The going away party concludes tonight with the Sightings, Vaz, and Saccharomanic Targets.

Friday, August 22, 2003

PASSENGERS Original Soundtracks 1 (Island)
Over the years, I worked at being a completist for a number of different artists. U2 was of them, so when this album came out I just had to have it. The Passengers was a side project/collaboration between U2 and Brian Eno, with a few extra people thrown into the mix, including Luciano Pavarotti, Howie B, and Holi.

The main premise of the album lies in the idea that each of these songs were written to accompany a film, and the liner notes are filled with brief synopses of the films. To make things interesting, some of them are real and the rest only exist within the liner notes. Either way, each description is written in a humorously pretentious manner and the fake films are peppered with disguised references to the musicians.

Musically, it suggests what Kid A may have sounded like had it be recorded by U2, rather than the band formerly heralded as the new U2. There are a few traditionally structured songs here, including the minor hit Miss Sarajevo, but for the mostly stays in the left field and/or electronica range. All in all, it sounds like the then-biggest band in the world collaborating on a good idea and having a lot of fun with it.
It's an underappreciated and overlooked, yet very good, footnote in the history of rock music.

For more info:
There's no official webpage for the Passengers, but the All Music Guide has an entry for them. I was also surprisingly unable to find an offical site for Brian Eno, but came across this unofficial site. Of course, U2 has an official website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The latest Dustbin rambles on for a bit, but for some reason I found it incredibly interesting and it gave me lots of musical ideas.
I'd heard of Steve Reich before, but never heard any of his works. I just found his website and will have to take a closer look once I get a little more time.

Speaking of tape manipulation, earlier today I discovered Delia Derbyshire and she's become my latest fascination. I listened to most of the mp3s on her site and found them rather interesting, especially considering the sort of technology around at that time to make electronic music. Moogie Bloogies (a collaborative effort with Anthony Newley and not at all representative of the rest of the songs I heard) is one of the quirkiest pop songs I've listened to in a while and quite fun.

And speaking of mp3s, the Motel Creeps recorded their first ep and posted it on their website. I like it.
They're also playing at Siberia Bar (New York NY) next Wednesday and I plan to be there. The show details are on their website.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Here's another site worth checking out: No Night Sweats
Phil Turnbull was a part of Sydney's post-punk scene from the late 1970's through the mid 1980's, his biggest band being Voigt/465. This site is mostly dedicated to the music from that era, and rumor has it he'll trade you copies of those bands' cds in exchange for blank cd-rs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

My friend recently sent me a link to the Wonders of Brazilian Music and I just got around to checking out the site. It's pretty cool and very informative.
Although the author's main emphasis is on the music of Brazil, he also has a less exhaustive section on other types of world music.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

BRITISH SEA POWER, the FIERY FURNACES, and JEFFREY LEWIS @ Northsix (Brooklyn NY) - Aug 11, 2003
It was Rough Trade night at Northsix and Jeffrey Lewis was the first up. Sometimes playing solo and sometimes with friends (and his brother), his songs suggested there might be some gray area in between Bright Eyes, Robert Johnson, and Devendra Banhart.
The set began with a muddy sound and an overall messy feel to it, but things would quickly pick up. Lewis announced he was a low budget documentary filmmaker and wanted to show us his latest creation. As we crowded closer to the stage, he displayed an oversized comic book adorned with the Rough Trade logo on the cover. Saying he hoped to achieve for Rough Trade what 24 Hour Party People did for Factory, he proceeded to sing about history of his label, accompanied by plenty of hand drawn visual aids. After that, he was unable to do anything wrong and tore through an assortment of songs -- including an epic about him getting raped by Will Oldham, all the while spitting out about 100 words a second. And just when I thought things couldn't have gotten better, he closed with another visually aided song about the happy-go-lucky Champion Jim. It was the feel good low budget film of the year and one hell of a set.

I was actually there to see the Fiery Furnaces, having read about them a while back and thinking I might like them. Unfortunately, the sound was off and the keyboards were drowned to inaudible levels. The band themselves were alternating between just okay and really interesting, but as a rule of thumb sounded better on the songs where they only employed the use of one guitar rather than two. The big expection was their next to last song, which sounded like 10 different songs played at once, alternating brother/sister vocals, and an almost chaotic sense where only the band knew what was going to happen next.

British Sea Power created high expectations for themselves before they even set foot on stage. Besides having a roadie(!), the stage, amps, and drum kit were adorned with plants, trees, a plastic flamingo, and ceramic owl. Not only did this create an especially long set up time, it convinced me they were either going to be: 1) really good, or 2) a pretentiously lousy band who need an elaborate stage to hide their flimsy songs. A pre-recorded British voice introduced them and they came out wearing pseduo-military garb. I dismissed them as a joke and decided to give them two songs before leaving. Then they played the first song.
Definitely the most melodic of the three acts that night, BSP's songs were good. How good, I'm not sure and will have to wait until their debut lp comes out next month to make that call, but watching them perform live convinced me they were the greatest band in the world. They played with energy and reckless abandon, yet maintained control the whole time, and were an incredible amount of fun to watch. I'm not going to bother trying to describe them, because you should just really go see for yourself.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The WALKMEN and ADAM GREEN @ Pier 54 (New York NY) - Aug 7, 2003
I could hear the Oranges Band playing from two blocks away, but they were finished by the time I made it through the entrance. I was expecting the pier to be packed, but the overcast skies and, later, rain kept the crowds away. I made my way to the front just as Adam Green took the stage.

It's been a while since I saw him play. As I partly mentioned a few days ago, I started going to the Sidewalk's open mic night (the hub of the famed Antifolk scene) in early 1999. I was never too impressed with most of the performers, but there were some talented songwriters there who kept things interesting. Adam, playing under the name Moldy Peaches 2000, was one of them. By the end of the year, I stopped going to open mics. About a year and a half later, just as Strokes hype began to reach these shores, I was duly impressed to learn the Moldy Peaches signed to Rough Trade and were on tour with the Strokes.
I didn't quite know what to expect of him now, four years later. I figured he would've grown beyond the silly, yet impossibly catchy, pop songs I looked forward to hearing from him at the Sidewalk. He traded in his acoustic guitar for a backing band (complete with string section). And while his lyrics were as absurd as ever, the music stayed in a mid-tempo, pleasant pop song rut for most of the set. Occasionally, the songs would break into moments of pop brilliance, but those times seemed to be the exception rather than usual.

My sole introduction to the Walkmen was the day I downloaded Revenge Wears No Wristwatch. Probably one of the best songs I heard for the first time this year, it gave me very high expectations for the band. Unfortunately, the sound -- which was clear for Adam Green -- was very muddy for the Walkmen. And even though they played with convincing energy, the instruments bled together and the vocals were drowned in the mix, and I just had a feeling they're the sort of band who sounds much better on record than they do live.
So, as if to test my theory, I bought Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone. I'm on a second listen right now, and the album is much more minimal and less (for lack of a better word) rocking than the band sounds live. But then again, who wants to stand out in the pouring rain for minimalism?
If I lived in North Carolina, this show would be worth checking out: People Who Should Not Play Acoustic Guitar

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

As promised, here is this week's Dustbin.

Also from the New York Press, there's a breed of more famous music bloggers.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

MY BLOODY VALENTINE These Are Your Bloody Rarities Vol. 1
I came across this cd (I'm assuming it's a bootleg) a while back and knew there was no way I could live with myself had I passed it up. This is a compilation containing MBV's first album, This is Your Bloody Valentine, as well as their first three eps: Geek, the New Record By, and Sunny Sundae Smile. All of these recordings are, to my knowledge, out of print and can be very expensive should you come across an original copy (I once saw a Geek 12" in the store for $70).

Like most people, I was introduced to MBV through their last two albums and came to know them as the band who forged new musical ground with layered guitars and buried vocals. This is and isn't the same band.
The main worth in This is Your Bloody Valentine and Geek, respectively released in 1985 and 1986, is the curiosity factor. Original frontman David Conway sings in a Nick Cave-like baritone (vocals pushed to the front of the mix) and the rest of the band bears sonic resemblence to the Birthday Party, Cramps, and Doors. Overall, neither release is very exciting, and both sound mediocre at best.

Things pick up with the New Record By, also released in 1986. The band heads into poppier territory, but armed with lots of noise. By the time they release 1987's Sunny Sundae Smile, MBV evolved into a jangle pop band suggesting they had more in common with their contemporaries on Sarah Records than with either earlier or later incarnations of themselves.
While neither of these eps will ever be viewed with the same respect reserved for their later, more influential albums, both are pop music gems.

For more info,
My Bloody Valentine doesn't have an official website. There are numerous fan sites, however, devoted to the band. You can visit some informative sites by clicking here or here. Of course, the ever useful All Music Guide has an entry as well.

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