Monday, September 29, 2003

THE GLOVE Blue Sunshine (Polydor)
I became a Cure completist many years ago and, as one, grew intrigued when I found out about the Glove. A side project involving Robert Smith of the Cure and Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees, it was never released in the States and quickly went out of print overseas.
This being the days before Ebay, I was unable to finally hear it until I visited London six years ago and bought a used copy on vinyl. Bringing it home was a logistical nightmare as I imagined the airline people throwing my luggage around and snapping my fragile record (no matter how securely I packed it). After a very anxious flight and baggage retrieval, I was delighted to learn the album made it home safely without a scratch.

The collaboration itself seemed quite natural: Robert Smith had a couple of stints in the Banshees, and the Glove sessions took place around one of those times. Joined by then-Cure drummer Andy Anderson and the Nico meets Siouxsie Sioux vocals of Landray, Blue Sunshine imagines a place where goth, 80's pop, 60's psychedelia, and drug fueled madness could meet.

Admittedly, I'm more likely to pull out a proper Cure album than the Glove to put on my stereo, but it's still a very welcome addition to my collection.
Favorite tracks: Like an Animal, Sex-Eye-Make-Up, Mr Alphabet Says, A Blues in Drag, Orgy, Relax

For more info:
This site does a good job of providing the story behind the project.
There are also the official sites for the Cure and Steve Severin.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

I've spent the past few days looking around the internet for new music, and here are a couple of things I found which I'd like to share:

Musical Taste
I could really get lost in this site. You may register and, once a registered user, recommend songs to visitors of the site. There are sound clips available, as well as a lot of interesting links. Additionally, the site's creator has his own music blog.

I actually found this site a few years ago when Magnet wrote about it, but I had a dial up at the time and trying to listen to music online was incredibly frustrating. The website is devoted to helping introduce indie bands to listeners and has a large database of mp3s. I recently revisited the site but unfortunately had some problems with my MusicMatch jukebox, but the site will probably work for you.

I Hate Music
Another music blog. Music and misanthropy never went together so well.

News, features, reviews, as well as audio and visual clips to enjoy.

37 Songs, 37 Singers, 37 Years of Radio Iran
This is a compilation of Iranian songs, all recorded before the revolution, available for purchase in either cassette or cd format. This page allows you to listen to some of the songs, and the ones which I have listened to are quite beautiful. I'd like to buy the cd set someday soon.

Maya Label
An old bandmate and I are attempting to put a new band together, and I did a little internet espionage on a potential drummer after he told me he put out a record in France a few years ago. Depending on the artist, there are either sound clips or complete songs available for your listening pleasure. Some are good and some are not so good. The link above has been translated into English by Google. If you want to see the original site, click here.
PS: If you play drums, live in New York, and like any of the music I write about, send me an email.

Soviet Panda
Another music blog, devoted to the newish rock bands of today. He also has a lot of links.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

It was brought to my attention that I've neglected to link to the last couple of Dustbin articles. So, without further ado, here are the links for your reading convenience:
The throaty singing of the Tuvans
Classic Scots Ballads by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger
Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I was in Seattle three summers ago and wanted to see some shows. After reading an article in the Seattle Weekly about 764-HERO, I decided to go check them out at the Sit & Spin (which, by the way, is the coolest venue I've ever visited). The other bands on the bill were Enon, Love as Laughter, and the Shins. I'd never heard of any of the bands before, and for all I knew, assumed they were all local.
The Shins were charmingly quirky, Love as Laughter were good, 764-HERO was amazing, but Enon...
The first thing I noticed is how long it took them to set up, and that they had about three times more gear than any of the other bands (including a black and white tv which played an endless loop of cartoons). Their pop music meets electro-noise freakout was good enough, but I couldn't decide which held my attention more: Matt Schulz's drumming or John Schmersal's antics. I've seen lots of charismatic frontmen before, but Schmersal is by far the best and well worth the price of admission. By the time they finished their set, I was completely stunned with what I had seen. When I returned home, they were the band I told all my friends about.

About a week or so after I returned home, I learned Enon would be playing at Brownies and I wanted to see them again. When I got to the venue, I recognized Matt Schulz hanging around outside so I went up to him and told him that I saw them in Seattle, they were really good, etc, and asked where they were from. To my delight, he said Brooklyn. The show that night was even more high energy than the Seattle show, and I fell in love with a band. I bought Believo! and made a point from then on to try to see them whenever they played, and they rarely disappointed.

While Believo! (2000) was very good, my main criticism of it was that it lacked the energy they were able to produce live and it probably wouldn't had won me over had I only listened to the band through a stereo. High Society (2002) was the album that would've won me over, even if it traded in some of its noisiness for more coherent melodies. That album also introduced Toko Yasuda to listeners and her songs snuck into the mix while managing to stand apart from the other songs. By the time Hocus Pocus (2003) came around, John and Toko's songwriting merged into the band's most cohesive album to date. Gone are the noise and the samples, but some pretty good rock and roll was left in its place.

For more info:
Enon's official website
Touch and Go Records
All Music Guide entry

PS: Enon is/was comprised of members from Brainiac, Skeleton Key, Blonde Redhead, etc, but I really didn't feel like getting into the history stuff. Anyway, if you're interested in that, lots of articles I've read about them mentions that to some degree and you can read more about that there.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I've often said that bands should have a lifespan of 10 years or less. A decade is more than enough time to create an impressive body of work, yet short enough for the band to get out before growing stale.
Perhaps the most glaring example of this (to me, anyway) happened a few years ago whilst watching some tv show about the Beatles and Mick Jagger criticized them for breaking up so soon. Here is a perfect example of two bands, both very young and exciting in the 1960's, growing up in two very different ways. The Rolling Stones are known more today as the band who won't go away than as the rock and roll legends they were. Yes, they were very good in the 60's and 70's, but they became musically irrelevant for the past quarter century or so. They just slap out an album of mediocre songs every few years and then go on tour to play "Satisfaction" for the one millionth time in their life. On the other hand, the Beatles left on a high note and were subsequently immortalized as the magical band who could, and were elevated to deity-like status. From their breakup in 1970 to the death of John in 1980, hardly a day passed when one of the Beatles wasn't harrassed about a reunion, to which they always declined.

Unfortunately, not every band follows the Beatles suit and the results are often embarassing. Do we really need to see a middle aged Johnny Rotten sulking around stage like a cartoon parody of his younger self? Or the Doors going out on tour with a new singer?
Two years ago, I went to see U2. They're one of my favorites bands and although I didn't care much for their last album, I still wanted to see them live. Over the course of the night, I grew depressed at the thought of how many times they must've played each of those songs before they played them for us that night. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was 18 years old then and there was no conceivable way the band could've played that song with the same conviction they had back in 1983. It was no longer rock and roll; it was just showmanship.

So, in a roundabout way of saying things, I can't say I'm too excited about the Pixies reunion tour/album and even less excited that Simon and Garfunkel have mended ways as well.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I was in London two winters ago and made sure I visited one of the Rough Trade record shops. To make a long story short: I didn't have much time in the store, my mind blanked out on me, I couldn't remember what I wanted to buy, and I began to panic that I would leave the store without buying anything worthwhile. My only criteria for purchases that night was that it had to be something not readily available in the States.
As I rummaged through the selections, I came across a cd by Meanwhile, Back in Communist Russia.... The band name was rather catchy, I'd never heard of them before, and the blurb stickered on the album read something like, "This 6 piece art-rock ensemble from Oxford recently found fans in Pulp and Radiohead. Think Mogwai meets Arab Strap with a female vocalist." Sounds good enough for me, I thought, and added it to the pile of cds in my arms.

I tell you the above story because it seems like a most random introduction to a band and the least likely way to encounter my favorite release of 2001. Yet that was how I came across the album which would receive disproportionately large amounts of play over the next few weeks.
Musically, Rough Trade's blurb is a fairly accurate starting point: take Mogwai's loud/soft dynamics and Arab Strap's spoken monologues and you're on your way to MBICR's sound. While the whole album itself is very good, there are definitely a few standout songs: the frenetic sampled beats of "Delay-Decay-Attack" make the music sound cold and inhuman, a stark contrast to the song's very organic lyrics. "Sacred Mountain," on the other hand, is a sparse song fleshed out by a tale of infidelity. Finally, the album closer "Morning After Pill" is a funeral march which builds up to a scream and then starts running headfirst towards the end.
Highly recommended.

For more info:
www.meanwhilebackincommunistrussia.com was the official website for the band. It's currently down, although I don't know whether it's down for good or just temporarily. In the meantime, All Music Guide has a short capsule about them.
Jitter Records has an extremely minimal homepage.

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