Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Flippin' off the wall like Marcellus Hall

Marcellus Hall led the bands Railroad Jerk and (more recently) White Hassle. Railroad Jerk released several albums of fine, fine music on the Matador label in the mid-90's, so if you see any of them you should snatch them up. Unless you already have them, because that would be greedy. The roots of Railroad Jerk are in that fertile intersection between "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and Grotesque-era Fall. Marcellus Hall is a compelling frontman, loquacious and funny, with the gift of gab and the gift of rhyme. Ponder with me why Railroad Jerk aren't at least as well-remembered as, f'rinstance, Soul Coughing.

I recall an interview in Spin magazine in which Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse said that the White Hassle song "Life Is Still Sweet" inspired him to write his breakthrough hit (and KidzBop staple) "Float On". Maybe you will be inspired to write a hit song when you listen to "Life Is Still Sweet".

Some people say Jack White sounds like Robert Plant, but I think Jack White sings like Marcellus Hall. Some people say little girls should be seen and not heard. They say Mark E. Smith rips off Johnny Rotten, but they only strike for more pay. They say they got control of you, but that's a lie y'know. They say you will never be free-eee. Bump chick-a-bump chick-a-bump chick-a-bump.

Back to the subject of Marcellus Hall: you will be tickled to know that this modern day Renaissance man is also an accomplished illustrator whose work has graced the cover of the New Yorker magazine. You can view some of his artwork at marcellushall dot com. You can hear his new solo songs on his myspace page. You can also buy White Hassle records from Orange Recordings, Fargo Records, or eMusic.

"Rollerkoaster" is from the excellent Railroad Jerk album One Track Mind.
"Why Don't We Do It in the Road" is not from any Railroad Jerk album, and yet somehow Underneathica has obtained it and is sharing it with you, and you are feeling very special right now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

High on a Mountain of Love

Back in the days when we traded mixtapes, my friend Paula introduced me to a lot of great music. She got me into Freedy Johnston when his first album, The Trouble Tree, came out. And she turned me on to Giant Sand.

Over the past twenty years, Howe Gelb and the shifting sands of his band's lineup have produced a body of work that ranges from the electrifying to the frustrating. Howe has collaborated with a slew of musicians, including Lisa Germano, Richard Buckner, Juliana Hatfield, Evan Dando, Grandaddy, M.Ward, Scout Niblett, Neko Case, Vic Chesnutt, Steve Wynn, Falling James, and members of the GoGo's and the Bangles. He gave guitar lessons to Keanu Reeves! Most recently, Howe has been busy with his new solo album, 'Sno Angel Like You, and his band Arizona Amp & Alternator. There hasn't been an official Giant Sand album since 2004, but as far as I can tell they haven't broken up.

To anyone interested in exploring Giant Sand's music prior to the popular Chore of Enchantment, I would strongly recommend Glum, Ramp, or Center of the Universe. Glum can be purchased (with bonus tracks!) from giantsand.com.

Today's song, Mountain of Love, was the first Giant Sand song I ever heard (courtesy of Paula). It's from The Love Songs (1988). Great lyrics and some off-kilter guitar from Howe. It's a rollercoaster rumble ride.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Is It Ever Too Early for Chri$tma$?

We got a Christmas catalog in the mail yesterday. Sweet baby Jebus! So I'm starting my Christmas list. Richard Buckner's The Meadow just came out, and I haven't picked up Game Theory by the Roots yet. Boys and Girls in America by the Hold Steady, and Live a Little by the Pernice Brothers, will both be released on October 3. The Pernice Brothers' label is offering a bonus disc of demos if you pre-order Live a Little by September 22. Live a Little is described as more rocking than previous albums by the Pernice Brothers, and the band performs "Grudgef*ck", an old Scud Mountain Boys tune, in a style that "out-Badfingers Badfinger". That Scuds remake and several other new songs are streaming on the Pernice Brothers website.

Kelly Hogan is back ... as "Marjorie the Singing Bee" in the kiddie supergroup Wee Hairy Beasties (which also features Jon Langford as "Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel", plus Sally Timms and Devil in a Woodpile). Their debut record, Animal Crackers, is coming out on October 24 on Bloodshot Records. Here's a sweet acoustic lullaby, Toenail Moon, sung by Sally and Kelly.

Here are some shows that I have vague intentions of seeing:

9/23 (Sat.): A Tribe Called Quest at the Tabernacle.
9/30 (Sat.): the English Beat at the Variety Playhouse.
10/04 (Weds.): the Hold Steady (with Sean Na Na) at the EARL.
10/18 (Weds.): You Am I at the Mercury Lounge (NYC)
10/19 (Thurs.): You Am I at the Mercury Lounge (again)
10/22 (Sun.): Etta James at the Tabernacle.
10/29 (Sun.): the Melvins & David Yow (plus Harvey Milk) at Whirlyball.
11/04 (Sat.): the Detroit Cobras (with King Khan & BBQ) at Smith's Olde Bar.
11/08 (Weds.): the Slits (plus the Apes and SIDS) at the Drunken Unicorn.

I don't expect to see and hear all of these things. Allen Toussaint has warned me against unrealistic expectations: Am I Expecting Too Much? Love that crazy beat. Sounds like the guitarist was hitting chords with a Slinky!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sake Tuyas Squeak by Stix in Suspenseful Season-Ending Skate Smackdown

It was SO close. The Atlanta Rollergirls' 2006 championship bout pitted my favorite team, the Apocalypstix, against reigning champs, the Sake Tuyas. These two teams were so evenly matched that I believe the score was tied at the end of every period. When the clock ran out, it was 97 to 97. There was a brief overtime, followed by a lengthy huddle among the referees, and then they announced that the Sake Tuyas had won it, 105 to 101.

I felt bad for the hard-skating Stix: Billie Clobberday and Lola Lixx skated through their injuries; Viva Hate led a lot of jams and took a lot of hits; and the rest of the team worked hard, especially Ash Kicker, Foxfire, Knockin Robin, Roxy Razor and Shank Ya Ma'am. But the Sake Tuyas skated just as hard: Belle of the Brawl and little Lily Punchter racked up the points, and Big Red and Pearl Reckless were knocking down skaters left and right, whenever they weren't in the penalty box! The excitement level was at a constant high. It was the best bout I've seen yet.

So the Tuyas are now two-time champs. And there is a post-season! The Rollergirl All-Stars Traveling Team will meet teams from other states on their home turf, the All American Skating Center in Stone Mountain, on these dates:

10/08/06 vs. the Sin City Neanderdolls from Las Vegas
10/22/06 vs. the Tragic City Rollers from Birmingham, AL
11/12/06 vs. the Dixie Derby Girls from Huntsville, AL

These shows are a damn good deal at $10 ($8 in advance). Sixty minutes of unbridled roller derby action, plus live bands. The Championship bout featured the excellent "psycho-surf" instrumental band Daikaiju. Come out to Stone Mountain on a Sunday night; the games start at 7pm. I took my friend "Sloop" Jon B., and he said it was like "Ultimate Fighting Championship on wheels".

Angie Heaton wants to Rollerskate.
The Figgs don't wanna Rollerskate.
More classic roller boogie jams at the mp3 blog I Am Fuel, You Are Friends