Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No One Will Miss Me If I Don't Go Away

Sabbatical self-sabotage. A hiatus from self-hatred. I didn't plan on such a long silence, but I had neither time nor interest to post anything. I got into a funk at the end of the year, when I realized how estranged I have become from the tastes of the online music community. I don't feel the need to be part of the in-crowd, but the consensus among the cognoscenti was far afield from what I thought was good. I guess I'm minding the gap.

Some of my very favorite bands made very good records in 2010. It a great year for music, by my lights. But many of these artists were either ignored completely (Freedy Johnston, the Figgs, the Futureheads, You Am I), or they were labelled as derivative and behind the times (see, for example, the Tiny Mix Tapes review of the second Blood Red Shoes album, Fire Like This.) At least the Fall got good reviews for Our Future, Your Clutter.

I've always carried a torch for certain underdogs, but this past year just made me feel old. I haven't been to any shows in the last few months. I put them on my calendar and cross them off as they go by. I was planning to see Wye Oak, but they cancelled. I skipped the Obits show in Athens last month, but fortunately Sloan Simpson was there with his recording gear. I had free tickets to see Gogol Bordello last week, but I didn't go. Even the first ever Atlanta performance by Savage Republic couldn't get me out of the house.

I still get excited about new bands (like Red Fang and Jeff the Brotherhood), and it makes me happy when a group like the New Pornographers makes a great record like Together (my favorite album of 2010). I should just enjoy the music (and I do), without wondering whether other people are hearing and appreciating it. I'll continue to write here about the stuff I like, at least for a little while longer.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Two Thousand Goes to Eleven

Music bloggers everywhere are busy compiling their year-end lists and holiday mixtapes. Humbug, I say. I'm already looking forward to the records that are coming out next year. High Tension Wires will release their third album, "Welcome New Machine", in February on the Dirtnap label. High Tension Wires are three Marked Men plus a Riverboat Gambler.

Wire will release Object 48 on December 20, 2010, a full length called
Red Barked Tree. The Duke Spirit releases a new EP entitled "Kusama" on December 21, followed by a new album, "Bruiser", in early 2011.

Three new demos from Future of the Left have surfaced online. The band lost its bassist last year, and is now a quartet. No news on a release date or a label. Wye Oak has released an mp3 of a new song, "Civilian". It's the title track of the Baltimore duo's third album, which Merge Records will release on March 8, 2011.

And for those who feared the Fall might have made their last album, good news comes from Marquis Smith, who promises that at least one of the next batch of songs will sound like
"Greek heavy metal".

This seems like a good time to repost "I Heart MAO Inhibitors", my favorite song by High Tension Wires.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giant Sandy Devotional

I used to think of Howe Gelb as a Bob Dylan for my generation (or at least a John Prine). His lyrics are always literate and clever, and he staked a claim on the alt-country turf when the geography of that genre had yet to be mapped. Jason and the Nashville Scorchers released their debut EP (with its rocking revision of "Absolutely Sweet Marie") in 1982 (the same year the Kinmans re-emerged as the Rank and File). These were no doubt an influence on Gelb.

Howe ever, Giant Sand is always all over the map, and now I think of Gelb as more of a Willie Nelson type. He's no generational spokesman but an accomplished singer-songwriter, and as a player he crisscrosses the borders between the lands of Jazz and Country, sometimes emerging from a wormhole into a musical DMZ.

November brings a new Giant Sand album, Blurry Blue Mountain, and with it the announcement from Fire Records of a reissue campaign to round up all the Giant Sand releases from the past 25 years, a disparate discography that wanders from one record label to another, with lineup changes reflecting death, divorce, and desertion. "Giant Sand is a mood," quoth Howe, and sometimes he's in the mood to do other things that aren't quite Sandy. Collaborations under the names of OP8, Friends of Dean Martinez, and AZ Amp and Alternator, as well as solo Howe Gelb records, have appeared over the years. Some (if not all) of these diversions will be rekindled by Fire Records through this ambitious and auspicious reissue campaign. All told it will encompass thirty CD's, plus vinyl picture discs.

First up for re-release are the first three: Valley of Rain, Thin Line Man, and Storm, a Giant Sand LP that was originally issued by Fire Records in 1988. A pedal steel guitarist was playing with the Sand at that time. Check out the barnstorming "Three 6ixes", the tale of a young man who beats the devil (without a fiddling contest). Read about Howe's favorite Giant Sand songs
here. And buy Blurry Blue Mountain -- it's a wistful and mature (but playful) collection of new songs, plus Howe revisits his own "Thin Line Man".

Giant Sand: Three 6ixes

Monday, November 15, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different

Blogger tells me that I passed 300 posts somewhere back there, and it's only taken me the better part of five years to do it. I couldn't have stuck with it this long without my loyal readers, especially those daily comments from 独懸賞金ム and 分海賊なら. You guys are 男性の為が! !!

Apropos of nothing, here's a poem what I hath recently wrot:

Well, the Spaniard sported an unsightly 'stache
As he sweltered in the slum
And the thirst unspoken to the sickened and scared,
But the soap was salving, son.
Abandon the bum -- he slandered the scum!
In a county pub, Beelzebub
Was besmirching every s'more
He can't stand how it stung
As he crammed down a crumb
It tastes bland, but it's fun
When it lands on the tongue

The Nectarine No.9 featuring Jock Scot: Rocket No.9

And Now for Something Remarkably Similar

Every purse was loaded with almighty cash
As Ranaldo softly strummed,
And then Thurston bit into a blackened old pear
But he'd rather have a plum!
Fandom is fun, but it can cost a ton.
And we gently nudged the unsightly smudge
Until the stain was gone
From the pants that we won
In an online auction.

Stay tuned for "Unclabbered and Admirable Palsy".

The Nectarine No.9: These Days

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rectifying Monkey

Melvins - Youth of America

Mission of Burma - Youth of America (courtesy of

All the Saints - Youth of America (courtesy of Southern Shelter)

Regarding his dystopian punk/motorik masterpiece, Greg Sage wrote, "The song YOA itself is out of a dream I had about the future. A time where people 'over breed' themselves to the point that even the most simple thing had become the highest level of competition. The dream had such a sense of realism and intensity to it that I went overboard with the recording to symbolize it."

Buy Youth of America and other Wipers records.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Were the 1980's really that bad (see 8/19/10 below)? There's good music to be found in any decade, if you know where to listen. There are always forward-thinking musicians creating visionary sounds. Predictions of the future that were made in the past can be amusing when they're inaccurate (like the Jetsons, jetpacks, or Disney's Tomorrowland), but they're startling when they come true. Prognosticators, weathermen, and fortune tellers never have to admit they're wrong: they can always blame the future for failing to live up to their predictions.

The early 1980's, in particular, were actually a great time for music. After the first wave of punk dismantled rock convention, post-punk addressed the burning question, "What next?" One dedicated student of post-punk created
a ten disc collection of mixes from 1981 to point out the magnitude of musical invention in that year alone. In his book Independence Days, Alex Ogg describes "a cadre of groups who wanted to phase-jump to a new universe of sonic possibility." Ogg argues for "shifting the common perception of 'year zero' to 1978 or 1979 and the dawn of post-punk rather than the established reading of 1976."

Last month, I saw the band
Raymilland on the closing night of the Athens Popfest. Unlike our poor boy who believed in chance, the men of Raymilland fully grasped the intricacies of the modern dance. They absorbed the lessons of Father Ubu and took off for parts unknown, leaving a cosmic trail of datapanik in their wake. Raymilland was one of the openers for Mission of Burma. Having finally seen MoB, I realize that the horrible truth about Burma is their greatness. Have we failed to live up to the future that they predicted for us?

Buy the Raymilland compilation
Listen to Mission of Burma's set from Popfest
Buy the Moving Parts Wrong Conclusion

The Moving Parts: Max Ernst (1978)