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)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rocktobtlanta and Halloweethens

Monday, 10/18/10: School of Seven Bells at the EARL

Wednesday, 10/20: Los Campesinos with Johnny Foreigner at the
Variety Playhouse

Saturday, 10/23/10: Bettie Serveert with Magnapop at the

Saturday 10/30/10: E.S.G. at the New Earth Music Hall in Athens, as part of the
Next to Last Fest

Sunday, 10/31/10: Fiend without a Face at the
EARL Halloween Bash

Tuesday 11/02/10: JEFF the Brotherhood at
529 (for freeee)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Burning Down Your House

The Jim Jones Revue arose like a phoenix from the ashes of Thee Hypnotics. The JJR played four songs on Daytrotter this summer, including one from their brand new album, Burning Your House Down (which comes out this week).

If you usually avoid the type of performers featured on Daytrotter, do yourself a favor and make an exception. Or you can listen on myspace. I generally eschew "A meets B" comparisons, but if Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis fronted the MC5 or the New York Dolls -- or if the members of NRBQ were into truckstop speed rather than wacky tobacky -- the resulting musical maelstrom would sound a good bit like the Jim Jones Revue. No shit.

The JJR will be hitting a few major American cities this month: Sept 14 NYC; Sept 15 Chicago; Sept 16 Seattle; Sept 17 Portland; Sept 19 SF; Sept 20 Santa Cruz; Sept 22 San Diego; Sept 23 LA; and Sept 26 New Orleans. Then they return to Europe. You lucky bastards.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Punk Half of the Drainpipe

Although I haven't been blogging lately, I read music blogs every week. I was right pleased to be mentioned in three of my favorites: I Blog Econo, sIBlingshot on the Bleachers, and Last Days of Man on Earth. Last Days features the Underneathica theme song (circa 1981), so grab that mp3! It's nice to be remembered by your peers.

Ib (of SibLINGSHOT) wrote a comment on his blog about the sad state of popular music in the 1980's. I was immediately reminded of the brilliant Prolapse song "Deanshanger", with Scottish Mick rabidly denouncing the era: "D'you remember the 1980's?... The music was CRAP! The clothes were CRAP! The news was CRAP! The hair was CRAP!" and so on.

Lucky life was only for the rich and greedy/ Unhappiness reigned supreme among the needy/ The papal visit promised much but didn't deliver/ I'm glad it's all over, wrapped up in a box and put under the bed.

Mark E. Smith surveyed the music scene with a jaundiced eye in 1980's "C&C Mithering":

You think you've got it bad with thin ties/ Miserable songs synthesized/ or circles with A in the middle/ Make joke records, hang out with Gary Bushell, join round table/ "I like your single!" "Yeah, great." -- a circle of low IQ's.

Watch a fan-made Deanshanger video, or listen to it here: