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the decemberists:

Colin Meloy reigns over the indie literati

indie rock with a slice of green

cowbellmagazine.com

How People’s champion Conor Oberst maintains his sanity

Bright Eyes

Swervedriver

The making of motor-gaze classic Mezcal Head

Green Mind

A call for less cattle? $4.95 | ISSUE no. 9

plus Tapes ‘n Tapes, Wanda Jackson, Minks Smith Westerns, Toro y Moi, The Walking Dead


WH ICH STO RES WIL L YOU VIS IT?

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Bright Eyes We all go a little crazy sometimes

cover and contents photos by gene smirnov

> music 04 Minks Friends in lo-fi places 06 Smith Westerns Undistorted vision 07 Tape Deck Mountain Happiness in slavery 08 DeVotchKa Big-time sensuality 10 Tapes ’n Tapes External drive 14 Decemberists Go ahead and crown them

> green mind 16 Wanda Jackson Earning her (white) stripes 24 Swervedriver Oxford’s grittiest alt-rockers revved up a classic on Mezcal Head 33 Lead Review Chazwick Bundick plays by his own idiosyncratic rules on Toro Y Moi’s Underneath the Pine

42 Meating of the Minds How low should we eat on the food chain?

> movies 46 Love Your Work Fringe dweller 48 The Walking Dead Gray matters 50 Memento Reverse psychology

34 CD Reviews Twilight Singers, Disappears, Tennis, Deerhoof, Drive-By Truckers and more COWBELL

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> from the publisher

Ouch, My Freakin’ Ears Perhaps it’s fitting that my ears are ring-

ing as I write these notes—I’m still trying to clear out some feedback from last night’s Yo La Tengo show at Philadelphia’s Trocadero. I’m old enough to know better. Maybe I’m old enough to know better and then to have forgotten. As I looked around the room of indie rockers, who ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-50s, I had one of those moments of realization that a friend of mine, a Dylan fanatic, said caused him great dismay. It’s the moment you realize: “These are my peers.” (I can’t help but think of the great Onion article “37 Record-Store Clerks Feared Dead in Yo La Tengo Concert Disaster.” It might have been my favorite piece of theirs until the very recently published: “A Sick Little Girl Fulfills Dream of Heckling David Wright.”) But, unlike my Dylan buddy, the moment didn’t cause me horror. True, there was some aggressive eyewear, plenty of indie rock beards and enough similar fashion choices to suggest a dress code had been implemented. But it was cool to see a still-vibrant band, one who is familiar but continues to evolve, playing for such a devoted audience. We all know that pop music, by its nature, is ephemeral, but we also know that not all pop music is created the same. In Cowbell, we’re trying to keep our eyes and ears open for the bands and artists with that elusive, know-it-when-you-hear-it quality. Maybe you’d call it integrity, if you were feeling bold. In the pages of Cowbell #10, I think you’ll find a number of bands that have that special something: Bright Eyes, Decemberists, DeVotchKa, Wanda Jackson—all wildly different artists, but, to my mind, all connected. I’m excited to announce that next month Cowbell will have a new Editor-in-Chief. Brian Howard, fresh off a stint running Philadelphia’s City Paper, will be at the helm. Not to build the guy up too much, but you can expect Big Things from Brian. In the meantime, I’m going to go wash the Troc stamp off my hand, plant some earplugs in my wallet and patiently wait for the harmony in my head to stop.

Alex Mulcahy Publisher 2

COWBELL

publisher

Alex Mulcahy alex@cowbellmagazine.com editor-in-chief

Brian Howard brian@cowbellmagazine.com 215.625.9850 ext. 115 managing editor

Andrew Bonazelli art director

Jamie Leary jamie@cowbellmagazine.com designer

Melissa McFeeters production artist

Lucas Hardison

customer service

Kevin Juliff kevin@cowbellmagazine.com 215.625.9850 ext. 105 writers

Brian Baker J. Bennett Raymond Cummings Jeanne Fury Adam Gold Nick Green Joe Gross Justin Hampton Brian Howard Sean L. Maloney Michaelangelo Matos j. poet Rod Smith Lee Stabert Matt Sullivan photographer

Gene Smirnov published by

Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850


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Anything Goes I

Peanuts scores and British Invasion heroes reside on Minks’ eclectic Hedge / by Michaelangelo Matos

ndie pop thrives on the amateur, but you don’t

By the Hedge

Available Now [ Captured Tracks ]

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just start playing it one day. There’s a lineage, an implication that you’ve heard the canon and know the traditions. Not that Sonny Kilfoyle, the singer-songwriter who makes lo-fi, dark-tinged indie pop as Minks, necessarily agrees. Surely, though, the songs on the act’s debut, By the Hedge (Captured Tracks), had to stem from some kind of steeping in mid-’80s British jangle? “It was entirely by accident,” Kilfoyle says while dodging train noise outside a Brooklyn cafe. (He lives in Williamsburg.) “I just started recording music one day, and a song came out of it. I liked the way it sounded. I never did anything with it, [though]—Jack [Tatum] from Wild Nothing heard it. That band is on Captured Tracks, and they asked if they could put out a 7-inch.” It wouldn’t be all. In the quickly mushrooming area Minks occupy, their post-punk leanings early on made them stand out, but on some of By the

Hedge it’s cannily countered by a dreamier affect. Kilfoyle claims his number-one album of all time to be the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas—and this was after the holidays—and his other favorites to be the Zombies, the Softies and John Coltrane. At least a couple of those artists are audible on Hedge’s better moments, though production-wise it’ll remind you more of earlier Wavves and Vivian Girls. Does Kilfoyle consider himself someone whose relationship with lo-fi is more as an artist than a listener? “More a creator, I’d say. It’s strange. There

might be a kind of cohesiveness to it, but I never intend to sound one way or other. Maybe as you start to get further into an album— six songs—you start feeling slightly loyal to the fact that it has a certain sound.”

photo by danielle harrington


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How the Westerns Win S

Young guns Smith Westerns find their voice on Dye It Blonde / by j. poet

mith Westerns—singer Cullen Omori, lead gui-

Dye It Blonde

Available Now [ Fat Possum ]

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tarist Max Kakacek, bass player Cameron Omori and drummer Hal James—got labeled as glamrockers after dropping their self-titled debut in 2009. Despite their fuzz-soaked post-punk take on T. Rex and Gary Glitter, they’re not interested in recreating the past. “The first album was like a bunch of demos,” Cullen says. “We recorded it in Max’s basement on his Mac laptop using GarageBand. We used noise and distortion as another musical layer, but that may have taken away from the sound we were aiming for.” The Chicago-based band made Smith Westerns after graduating from high school, before they’d ever played live. Except for Kakacek, they were still learning how to play their instruments. “We started writing our own songs right off, based on the bands we were listening to. At first, we were proto-punk. After a few shows, we retooled and started writing pop songs.” The glam-tinged tunes on Smith Westerns created a buzz. It led to better gigs and a deal with Fat Possum.

On Dye It Blonde, recorded with producer Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio), the Bowie and Bolan influences join ’70s Britpop for a more nuanced sound. “We’ve really gotten into the solo albums of George Harrison and John Lennon lately,” Cullen says. “They were a big influence on this album. We included a couple of slowed-down ballads like ‘Smile’ and ‘All Die Young.’ We like Top 40 and want to make accessible pop music that sill has substance.” The songs on Dye It Blonde have plenty of hit potential. Kakacek’s Harrison-influenced slide makes tunes like “Weekend” and “End of the Night” sound like familiar radio-friendly tracks. Elsewhere, they experiment with swamp rock, ’50s R&B and up-tempo dance tunes. “We don’t want to be genre-specific or revivalists,” Cullen concludes. “We want

to be our own category.”


Reel Men of Genius

There’s always a little darkness on the edge of Tape Deck Mountain / by Raymond Cummings

A Secret Serf

Available Now [ Lefse ]

sk Travis Trevisan how his band got his name, and the first words he offers in response are apologetic: “I wish there was more of a story.” “I took it from a Microphones song called ‘Escape From Tape Deck Mountain,’” the Tape Deck Mountain singer/guitarist explains during an email interview, admitting that he’s “never even heard the song—it appeared on their first demo tape.” This deceptively offhand nonchalance informs the San Diego trio’s music (the band also includes bassist Jordan Clark and drummer/ keyboard player Paul Remund) which runs the gamut from noisy tape-machine experiments to sleepy church-organ drift to 17th-hand shoegaze to rollicking, ragged indie rock—all of it infused with Trevisan’s deadpan absurdisms. “On My Honor”—from insidiously great 2009 debut Ghost—prefaced a should-I-stay-or-shouldI-go inner-monologue with images of wolves consuming injured football players, while “In the Dirt” Scotch-taped envious black humor to boom-bap rasp and “Dead Doctors Don’t Lie” cut its rampaging-outta-control id with gothed-up, back-masked nonsense.

“I try to toe the line between seriousness and tongue-in-cheek, although I’m trying to transition a bit out of the way I write lyrics and expand our palette a bit,” Trevisan says. Listen-

ing to the group’s newest release, you wouldn’t necessarily guess that; the Secret Serf EP (also Lefse) may sport a higher-fi finish (“We tracked the drums and guitars in a real studio this time, as opposed to various bedrooms”) and oodles of gratuitous glo-fi ambience—less punk urge, more Deerhunter-esque bliss—but glacial, dirgey “Trevor” is as eyebrow-raising as it is unsettling, and “P.I.” makes for a worthy addition to the stalker drone-pop pantheon. There’s more to come, of course: Tape Deck Mountain are prepping their second full-length and gearing up for SXSW performances, while their frontman ponders—not improbably—“an electronic Depeche Modeinfluenced side project.” COWBELL

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T

melting spot

he scene opens on a brightly lit stage, crowded with garishly dressed figures. Trapeze artists swing from the ceiling, sword swallowers and fire-eaters wan- A vast array of global influences conspire to make der through the crowd, while Dita DeVotchKa virtually uncategorizable / by j. poet von Teese, looking like a pinup from a 1940s movie magazine, begins to remove her outfit, backed by a chorus line of barely dressed musician. Scantily-clad women also draw huge crowds, and competing with [the strippers] made women. The band in the orchestra pit looks like they’ve just us concentrate on putting on a show. We played stepped out of a party on the Titanic. The men are wearing tunes we’d written already, but the freeform pertuxedos, and play accordions and tubas to create a unique formances forced us to improvise. It turned out to blend of dark cabaret music, rife with the sounds of Balkan be invaluable musical training.” DeVotchKa struggled for a long time to make wedding bands, wailing Mariachi trumpets and klezmerpeople pay attention to their unique musical viflavored R&B. sion. The band’s cinematic blend of gypsy jazz, The band is DeVotchKa and this imaginary scene from the band’s yet-to-be-made biopic portrays one of the early gigs that helped them develop their showmanship and singular blend of influences. “There are some who may think that playing for strippers and trapeze artists is weird,” says Nick Urata, the band’s founder, singer and main songwriter. “It wasn’t odd at all. It was a perfect match, and being around beautiful women who didn’t wear much of anything was a dream gig for a young male

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Hungarian melancholy, Latin romanticism, and asymmetrical funk and pop made them hard to pin down, but Urata came by his multi-ethnic influences naturally. He’s the son of an Italian father and a gypsy mother. “[My life] does sound cinematic, but the reality is quite messy. My gramps came [to the U.S.] alone when he was 10. I couldn’t even dress myself at that age, and he found a trade and started a family. My other grandpa was a horn player and bandleader. I wanted to be like him, so I started


I’ve never been a Luddite, but all of the best things in life—books, movies, music, TV, newspapers—are being shrunk down to zeros and ones, and becoming valueless.”

—Nick Urata

trumpet when I was eight. I was exposed to music from all over the world, and a lot of accordion, so that crept into the band’s sound. There was always talk of the gypsies in our bloodline. As I got older, I began to pine away for those old world sounds. My grandparents are all dead and long gone now. The houses and neighborhoods they lived in have been torn down or gentrified.” Urata grew up near New York City and slowly worked his way west to Denver, stopping for a while in Chicago. “I lived in a Polish-Mexican neighborhood that renewed my interest in the accordion and tuba, and the tempos of waltzes and polkas.” When Urata finally settled in Denver, he started the band that would slowly evolve into DeVotchKa. “When I started writing songs, I was still nostalgic for those old world relatives of mine and the brief glimpse of the world they showed me. I had a strong urge to form a band with non-rock instruments and travel to exotic places in the music.” Urata says that DeVotchKa started out as a revolving collective of musicians. “I had an open door policy for years,” he explains. “Anyone who wanted to play my songs was warmly welcomed, but I always dreamed of doing it ‘for real.’ One by one, the current members came into my life; something clicked with

each of them. They all bring a variety of skills and training, and some of our best stuff has been written as a group.” DeVotchka’s Grammy and Academy Award nominations for the music they composed for Little Miss Sunshine a few years back gave the band more mainstream credibility. Their latest opus, 100 Lovers, is so expansive that it, too, could double as a movie soundtrack. The band—Jeanie Schroder, Shawn King, Tom Hagerman and Urata—played an assortment of instruments to complement the usual bass, drum, guitar and keyboard lineup, including sousaphone, accordion, trumpet, bouzouki, upright acoustic bass, various percussion instruments and theremin. They worked again with producer Craig Schumacher (Calexico, Giant Sand), who also helped out with How It Ends and A Mad and Faithful Telling. Like those albums, 100 Lovers was captured on tape in full-bodied analogue sound. “We always try to record together and not be uptight about bleeding microphones,” Urata explains. “It forces you to play your best throughout the take. Anything you can do in the studio to humanize the technology comes across in the song. You have to play your part with skill and emotion. If you fuck up, it’s gone forever, but this is how all of our favorite records were made. I’ve never been a Luddite, but all of the best things in life—books, movies, music, TV, newspapers—are being shrunk down to zeros and ones, and becoming valueless. It’s alarming and it’s all going to be gone before long.” 100 Lovers sees the band continuing its dizzying upward arch with another collection of tunes with inventive arrangements that complement Urata’s soaring Roy Orbison-flavored vocals and compelling lyrics. The huge dramatic sound of “The Alley,” the opening track, nestles next to the mysterious tango of “The Man From San Sebastian,” the Latin soca of “Contrabanda” and the droning Celtic instrumental “Sunshine,” which sounds more sinister than heartwarming. “[Because we all play so many instruments], we can go a little overboard in the arranging department, but songs usually take on a life of their own and it becomes apparent which parts stay and which ones go. As far as who does what, it’s an all-guns-blazing type of approach with us.” Urata’s currently in Hollywood, scoring another film. As soon as he’s done, he’ll be on the road with DeVotchKa again, although they’re unlikely to duplicate the thrill of playing to a crowd of 90,000 in the Stade de France with Muse. “It was big and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless, but once they turned on the mics and I heard my voice echoing through that place, it was like a religious experience. The Parisians made us feel very welcome and the show was great. It was one of the defining moments in my life.” 100 Lovers will be released March 1 from Anti-.

COWBELL

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Reel to Real Tapes ’n Tapes frontman Josh Grier works more spontaneity into the process with Outside / by Brian Baker

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E

very band that has attained some discernible measure of success

eventually experiences the inevitable moment of looking into the relatively misty future and wondering what could possibly approach the moment they’re in. For Minneapolis quartet Tapes ’n Tapes, that moment came four summers ago when the band made their U.S. television debut on The Late Show With David Letterman. They were playing “Insistor,” the newly-released single from their self-released full-length debut The Loon, which had just been licensed for the U.K. by XL Recordings. To TNT frontman Josh Grier, the future suddenly seemed simultaneously shades-required-bright and ominously dark. “When we played Letterman, I was like, ‘Any professional goal that I even thought was in the farthest realm of possibility has been exceeded,’” he says from his Minneapolis home. “Now that we’ve done that, what more is there? There’s a whole lot more. And [you] get to do all these things, and that’s really cool, but what happens after you do them? You have to figure out what you want to do. We’re at the stage of realizing that we’ve done all this cool stuff and we want to keep making music we like, and hopefully we’re fortunate enough that people keep liking it.” Grier needn’t have worried about the success or failure of his next steps. Since that July evening over four years ago, TNT have gone from strength to strength—even after losing their founding rhythm section within months of the Late Show appearance—with their well-received sophomore album, the David Fridmann [Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips] -produced Walk It Off, and now with their intriguing

and energetic third release, Outside. At least part of the intrigue might be answered by this burning question: Is there any significance to the album’s 1/11/11 release date? “Other than it’s potentially the coolest day ever?” says Grier. “We were trying to figure out what date to release it on and time it, and the whole month of December everybody goes dead unless you’re Kanye or something, so it was like, ‘It looks like we’ll be in 2011, and 1/11/11 is a Tuesday, so let’s go for that.’” Outside doesn’t stray too far from the Pavement-meets-Wire indie rock territory that Tapes ’n Tapes had staked out previously, other than the fact that Grier and the rest of TNT (keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Matt Kretzman, bassist Erik Appelwick, drummer Jeremy Hanson) had a specific sonic direction

When we played Letterman, I was like, ‘Any professional goal that I even thought was in the farthest realm of possibility has been exceeded.’ Now that we’ve done that, what more is there?” —Josh Grier COWBELL

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in mind: namely simplifying their sound. With Outside, Tapes ’n Tapes factored the equation down to its most basic elements. “Really, the main goal was just to write another record, because we’re a band and we want to make more music,” says Grier. “It was letting everybody in the band have their own thing and letting the music breathe more. With Walk It Off, there was a lot going on for me personally and there was a lot of political turmoil, and I had a lot of frustration at the world. I think that all got funneled into Walk It Off. This time around, I wanted to take a step back and I wanted the process to be fun and enjoyable, and have the record reflect that and be a little more lighthearted. The world’s not going to end... well, maybe it is. But at least this time, I wasn’t in that kind of place.” TNT made the decision to selfproduce Outside rather than seek out a big-name boardsman to helm the controls. Lessons learned from Fridmann coupled with Appelwick’s production skill set gave the band a great foundation for crafting a sound that was more concerned with creating an expansive musical tapestry. The band also took a relatively long break after touring Walk It Off, fueled in large part by Grier’s marriage and desire for some degree of domesticity. “Being in the band and being on the road had kind of taken a toll on me,” says Grier. “I’d gotten married, so I wanted to be home and be, for lack of a better term, normal, and just do things and live life. I took my time writing the songs, and that slowed everything down.” Grier’s reduced emphasis on writing in a hurry meant that there was time in the process to generate more material. As a result, TNT had a massive amount of songs to choose from when they began recording. Not to mention with Outside, Grier made the conscious decision to streamline his normal writing process to arrive at the album’s rawer, more visceral sound. “I tend to overthink things when I’m working on songs,” says Grier. “It’ll be like, ‘We should change this, or tweak that,’ overmeddling with things. You can get yourself pretty far down a rabbit hole by doing that. I was trying really hard with this group of songs to let the songs breathe and be themselves. 12

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It sounds hokey, but it’s totally true. I think a lot about how our music sounds and making sure it’s exactly right. I was a math major in college, and I get really analytical as opposed to letting it be about how I feel. Letting things breathe and not being so hardcore about it was something Outside is in I was trying to focus on.” stores now from The end result is that Outside may Ibid Records. stand as the purest and most open Tapes ’n Tapes album to date, and could likely be an indication of the direction that Grier and his merry band of tapers are headed in the future. “It gives me peace of mind, because when you’re working on a record, it’s hard to get things to sound right,” says Grier. “I could mess with things forever until they’re tweaked just right, but listening back to it now, I’m totally at peace with it and very excited about it. This is exactly what was in my head and I think what the whole band was going for.”


RYAN REYNOLDS

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Regicide Is Painless

Colin Meloy and the Decemberists sidestep the hazards to walk the straight and narrow / by Brian Howard

I

n the six-pack world of indie rock, the Decemberists have always been liquor.

The top-shelf stuff. Finely distilled. Potent. ¶ And if you had to say which spirit the Portland, OR-based, five-piece embodied, maybe their earlier catalog—Picaresque, Castaways and Cutouts—was gin: elegant, complex, but clear with a hint of juniper. Then there was 2009’s The Hazards of Love, a spiraling, tangled epic featuring a shapeshifter, a forest queen and an honest-to-god rakehell. The Hazards of Love is Colin Meloy’s green faerie, the absinthe of his oeuvre. That the band’s new album, The King Is Dead, is a stripped-down, countrified affair born of wood aging—recorded in an actual barn with assists from Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Gillian Welch, this is their oak-casked bourbon—either comes as a total shock or as the natural rebound for a band and songwriter who seemed perched precariously on the cliff overlooking rock-opera land. “I think I’ve been wanting to write these songs for years,” figures Meloy on the phone from his home just outside of Portland. “It’s just that they hadn’t really been coming.” For Meloy, songs are things that happen. “Any time that I’ve tried to exert real control over my writing—other than The Hazards of Love, which was a sort of academic write-to-order sort of thing—but any time I’ve been like, ‘Y’know, this record’s going to be more this, or this record’s going to be more that,’ invariably I feel like it just starts sounding forced. I always try to avoid that and just allow whatever natural whims I’m having at the time to make their mark. And it just happens that it seemed like that was the direction this batch of songs was headed.” The band has become studio rats of sorts. This time out, they hunkered down to record in the planky rusticness of Pendarvis Farm, an 80-acre estate near Portland boasting views of Mt. Hood. “It was a big room, lots of wood,” explains Meloy. “I don’t know how tangible that is. The layman, the everyday listener, won’t be like, ‘Whoa, this sounds like it was recorded in a barn.’ There are ways to go about really doing that, like if we’d all set up in the middle of a room and strung a few microphones from the ceiling, then it would sound like it was recorded in a barn.”

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Photos by autumn de wilde


Instead they hung some baffles to isolate the sound a bit (“but there was no real isolation happening in there”), set a goal to use just a 24-track machine and let the big room, tall ceilings and old wooden floor seep into the sound. There’s the harmonica-tinged opener “Don’t Carry It All,” the fiddle-squonking “All Arise!,” the lush, finger-picked “January Hymn” and the R.E.M. cribbing of the apocalypsegazing “Calamity Song,” all announcing that there’s a very different folk tradition in play this time out. As if to make certain there are no misunderstandings, “Don’t Carry It All” launches with an harmonica blast into a churning, mid-tempo tambourine stomp. And though the song structure is much more straightforward, Meloy’s lyrics remain rich with subtext and allegory. “A there a wreath of trillium and ivy / Laid upon the body of a boy / Lazy will the loam come from its hiding / And return this quiet searcher to the soil,” he sings, evoking a child’s funeral shared by a village. “There’s a great bit in Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, which is Barrie’s prequel to the Peter Pan that we all know,” recounts Meloy. “In it… if any child were to be lost in Kensington Gardens and would lie down and die, Peter Pan would make a gravestone for him. And that’s actually how it ends. It’s totally bizarre. But a really kind of beautiful and solemn image. I think that’s where that came from.” Obscure literature isn’t Meloy’s only muse, though. “Rox in the Box” is a dark mining dirge inspired by a 1917 disaster at Butte, MT’s Granite Mountain Mine in

I think I’ve been wanting to write these songs for years. It’s just that they hadn’t really been coming.”

—colin meloy

which 168 miners were killed in a fire. “Good research,” acknowledges proud Montana native Meloy. “The legend of Butte looms large for any Montanan… Within a span of a couple of years, these huge, huge events occurred in this little teeny mountain town in Montana. I actually always wanted to maybe do some theater piece or something about it… and that was an attempt at writing a song for it. But then I decided that I didn’t want to write a musical about Butte, MT, and so it became a Decemberists song.” On the gorgeous “Rise to Me,” Meloy sings, “Hey Henry can you hear me? / Let me see those eyes / This distance between us/ Can seem a mountain size / But boy: You are going to stand your ground / They rise to you, you blow them down.” It’s a stirring song from a father to his son—and then to his wife—about strength and courage. Meloy has a son named Hank, and “Rise to Me” feels more overtly personal than past Decemberists offerings. “It is about my famThe King Is Dead is in stores now ily and about sort of from Capitol being brave and facRecords.

ing struggles,” says Meloy, pausing. “I guess I’m comfortable talking about this now—I’ve only talked to a few people about it—but, my son was diagnosed with autism two years ago.” “Rise to Me” is an uncharacteristically vulnerable moment for a man who seems at most times collected and unflappable. “That song is, to me, about the process of coming to terms with that diagnosis,” says Meloy, “of trying to discover a way forward and meditating on why and how these sorts of things happen to people.” And that may have as much to do with The King Is Dead’s new tack as anything. There’s a profound appreciation for the seasons and nature. On two somber “hymns”—one to January, the other to June—you can, respectively, see your breath and feel the sun on your skin. “It wasn’t so much that I wanted to write simpler music,” figures Meloy. “I was thinking simpler things at the time. My wife and I had moved just outside of town and were surrounded by the woods. We were putting in garden plots trying to figure out where the best place is, where does the sun hit. It was sort of a year watching the sun and keeping an eye on the arc that it took from east to west. That process plays as much into the songwriting as anything.” So, maybe that means The King Is Dead is a simple flask of whiskey: earthy, accessible, fits in your back pocket, and smooth, but with a little edge.

COWBELL

15


Nightlifer Legendary firebrand Wanda Jackson earns her stripes on the Jack White-produced The Party Ain’t Over / by Jeanne Fury

W

hile today’s artists are often concerned with image

above all else, rockabilly’s living legend, Wanda Jackson, is still going strong based on the one simple thing that made her famous: her voice. On her new album, The Party Ain’t Over, produced by Jack White, Jackson’s growls and snarls are as fiery as ever, whether she’s covering Little Richard or Amy Winehouse. As Elvis Presley knew back in the 1950s, Jackson is an artist who was truly made for rock ‘n’ roll.

16

cowbell


What’s the most rock ‘n’ roll thing about you, the reigning queen of rock?

The way I sing. We normally say I’m “the queen of rockabilly, the first lady of rock ‘n’ roll.” I was the first girl to record [rock music] back in 1956. ’Course, I didn’t get any hits. The disc jockeys wouldn’t play my record, and that was our main source of exposure in those days. We didn’t have all the media we have today. I continued to record ’em, but I only got one hit from ’56 to ’62 or ’63, and that was “Let’s Have a Party.” That didn’t happen, though, until, I think, 1960. It was nothing like a number one; it was bubblin’ around the top 20, I think. It was definitely a boys’ club, and there weren’t very many women recording on their own. The big western swing bands would have girl singers in them, and so this was kind of new to everyone in the industry. The lady that really broke through that ceiling was Kitty Wells in 1952, I think, with her recording “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” And when it became number one, then all of a sudden, the record companies were more interested in signing girls. So she did a lot for us. I was about the third woman in country music to come along. For a good while, it was just the men. Jack White has said you are a trailblazer, especially for women. What kinds of frustrations did you encounter as a woman playing rock ‘n’ roll?

I just wanted so much to have a hit. I had been working quite a few tours, not exclusively, with Elvis Presley. I did many tours with him, from ’55 until ’57, so I knew [rock] was the coming thing. This was what was gonna be big, you could see that. But I didn’t really think much about a girl singing it. To me, it was fine. My dad, who was my manager, wasn’t a fuddy-duddy—he didn’t call [rock ‘n’ roll] “devil’s music.” He liked it, and he thought that I should try. That gave me the okay, as far as I was concerned. I just wanted it very desperately. But my record sales were beginning to drop, so we decided, in order to keep the country audience that I’d built up, we’d put a country song on one side of the single and a rock ‘n’ roll song on the other.

[Jack White] wants a lot from you, which is fine, but he can get you to this in such a sweet, gentle way that you find yourself wanting to please him. —wanda jackson

What did rock ‘n’ roll offer you as an artist that country did not?

Well, I was a teenager [laughs], and this was my generation’s music. When I went out dancing, I wanted to dance to that music. So, I think it was only natural that I want to sing this, and I want to be successful in it so that I can sing it. They went over great [at live performances]—I had no problem, I was doing “Hard Headed Women” and “Rip It Up” and songs like that, and people loved ’em, but they couldn’t buy my records because they couldn’t find ’em! But [rock] gave me so much freedom and the ability to really have fun onstage. I worked with Elvis and I saw the enthusiasm it brought out in these young people. And here I was going onstage singing tearjerkers about drinkin’ beer and losing the love of your life and so forth, and I wanted to do this happy music. [Laughs] You had to be convinced to do this album. What were your reservations?

I knew that Jack White was one of the top artists in rock ‘n’ roll around the planet, and so naturally I’m thinking, he’s wanting me to do this new kind of rock stuff. My reservation was I could probably do it, but would my fans want me

doing that kind of stuff ? Well, I was wrong on both accounts. [Laughs] He did not want me doing the stuff like he does; he wanted that 18-year-old that was singing “Fujiyama Mama,” and so his term all throughout the recording was “Push, just push those lines a little bit more, a little harder.” We just had a take, and he said, “That was great!” and I kinda wiped my brow. I got what he wanted! Then he said, “Now give me one more, and just push a little bit harder.” [Laughs] So, when you hear him say, “We’re rollin’” [on the beginning of “You Know I’m No Good”], I say, “I always hafta push,” because I was getting frustrated. But a lot of times, I had to get either mad or just an “I’ll show you I can do it” attitude in order to get the performance out of me. [Laughs] What must a great rock ‘n’ roll song make you feel?

It brings out something in you that might be layin’ dormant. It might be like tribal, something like to pull out all the stops, have fun. Of course, rock has changed so much, I don’t know what it takes now. I don’t understand [modern rock songs]. I don’t know why they’re so popular. That’s why I was afraid to record with Jack. Then I found out, he’s a velvet-covered brick. He wants a lot from you, which is fine, but he can get you to this in such a sweet, gentle way that you find yourself wanting to please him. At that point I was just like, “I’ll show you, Mister Jack White! I can get this!” [laughs], and that was exactly what I wanted. If you could go back give your teenage self a single piece of advice, what would it be?

You rock, girl! Keep it up! I guess I’m not one to think real deep, mainly because I’ve been so happy all my life, and I don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong in my career.

The Party Ain’t Over is available now from Nonesuch.

17


story by Andr ew Park s photos by gene smir nov


scaping a bitter December breeze in New York’s East

Village—an area he called home, off and on, until a couple years ago—Conor Oberst asks if I’d like a drink. A deftly-poured draft already at my side, I say I’m all set and he sidles up to the bar alongside some late afternoon soccer fans. They’re all transfixed by the room’s TVs, so the Bright Eyes frontman flags the bartender down and orders some wine and a tap water chaser. Gazing into the blood-red glass, my thoughts drift to the last time I’d seen Oberst in person: February 23, 2004, an intimate Philly show featuring M. Ward and My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James. Billed as a round-robin performance, it set the tone for the trio’s Monsters of Folk project six years early, right down to the involvement of multi-instrumentalist—and soon-to-be-official Bright Eyes member—Mike Mogis. Several key differences marked the occasion, however; namely the fact that none of their full-time projects had cracked Billboard’s Top 50 chart yet (Ward crossed that threshold last in 2009) and the lingering sense that nothing will ever be the same after this. Flowery language aside, Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Tom Moon explained the evening’s exposed nerves quite well, writing, “If you arrived feeling sorry about the state of rock and roll, tired of its cynical regurgitation and discouraged by its abandonment of nuance, you couldn’t help leaving with a feeling of hope.” That’s probably because the perfor-

mance transcended its barebones setting by embracing the false starts and spontaneous flourishes you just don’t get when you’re playing massive theaters. In other words, a Monsters of Folk show feels like one—scripted but satisfying—whereas their early gigs unfolded like freewheeling jam sessions. “I can fake my way through my own songs if I have to,” explains Oberst, when asked about the quartet’s major concert run in the fall of 2009. “Those shows were nerve-wracking because I didn’t want to be the guy who plays the wrong bass note on a [My Morning] Jacket song or whatever. I didn’t want to let anyone down.” In the end, nothing catastrophic happened as the group skimmed crowdpleasing selections from their first proper LP and everyone’s weighty back catalogs. That said, Oberst’s fear of failure is why I can’t stop thinking about his wine glass. For some reason, it reminds me of how he wasn’t sipping a couple servings of Malbec in 2004. He was drinking straight from wine bottles, like a slightly more stable version of Cat Power, another bloodletting in-

die rock star who embraced the spotlight ever-so-slowly in the past decade. “I definitely felt sketched out by audiences for a long time,” admits Oberst, who turned 30 last February and clearly relishes the role of a steady-handed frontman these days. “Now people say, ‘Man, I listened to you a lot in high school. You really got me through a rough period in my life.’ Which is great, but it also makes me feel old.” Down in the Groove

Here’s the thing, though: The very idea of viewing Oberst as anything but a freshfaced kid is foreign to most people. Aside from the simple fact that he never stopped looking like a scrappy art student, Oberst has long been considered the penultimate forever-young prodigy of the post-Napster era, someone whose songwriting skills far outweigh his years. Or, as far-too-many publications have put it over the years, he’s The Next Bob Dylan, a loaded tag that gained some serious traction in 2005. That’d be the year Saddle Creek released two Bright Eyes albums on the same day—easily his most anticipated yet. While Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning both landed in Billboard’s Top 20 chart, the latter was the runaway favorite among critics (Rolling Stone called it “one instant classic after another”) and fans. Which is telling, as it reinforces Oberst’s reputation as a lonesome troubadour and practically punishes 19


any attempts at writing truly experimental music, from the frosted synths and speaker-panning drums of “Gold Mine Gutted” to the skittish programming and drunken harps of “Devil in the Details.” “I don’t feel like one record’s better than the other,” says Oberst, after I ask him if he wishes he’d combined the two LPs into one schizophrenic album. “Maybe the name tripped people up, but I never saw [Digital Ash] as an overtly electronic record. It’s not dance music and it’s not laptop-y, either. Those are real drums on there.” “The reaction to Digital Ash was kind of a funny surprise to me,” Mogis added in a separate email interview. “In the same magazine, it got one star, I’m Wide Awake got five, and Uncle Kracker got three. That alone tells me that some people listened to that record with the volume off.”

Keeping ’Em Honest

Mike Mogis has been one of Bright Eyes’ two official members (the other is multiinstrumentalist/classically-trained composer Nate Walcott) since their 2007 LP, Cassadaga, but he’s played in Oberst’s everevolving live band since 2002 and known him since he was 13 or 14 years old. At the time, Mogis was attending college in Lincoln, NE—he’s six years older—and Oberst was toying with an acoustic guitar in the dorm room of Saddle Creek co-founder Robb Nansel and Ted Stevens, a key member of Cursive, Mayday and Mogis’ old band, Lullaby for the Working Class. “He was writing well beyond his years and personal life experience,” recalls Mogis. “And since he has two older brothers, he became friends with their friends and put himself in the mix with older Omaha songwriters, which I feel gave him inspiration and encouragement to create and write.” Mogis also showed Oberst how to capture his raw basement recordings with a reel-to-reel 8-track and early bits of digital technology, forging a musician/producer bond that blossomed into a full-on friendship around the Fever and Mirrors era. Oberst was 19 by then, and seeing Europe and Japan for the first time as promising tour offers started to trickle in. (Up until then, his family had only traveled to California, and that was a “special trip.”) “Seeing that—how you could actually function as a touring band,” explains Oberst, “was when it turned from a half20

hobby to ‘this is what I do.’” That change meant quitting college after just three semesters as an English major, and fielding his first series of deeply personal press questions. Like an early Comes With a Smile interview that captures Oberst at a crucial crossroad. From start to finish in the rather revealing Q&A, he sounds like he’s been doing this for nearly a decade, and, well, he already had by that point. (His first cassette—a collection of four-track recordings called Water—was tracked in 1993 with Stevens and Oberst’s brother Matt.) “I’m scared of success,” he told the webxine at one point. “I think success has more bad things that come along with it than good things. I don’t know that I would be prepared to deal with it. I definitely like putting out records and sharing it with people and playing shows; it’s just that there’s a lot of shit that goes with it.” Sure enough, that shit hasn’t changed 10 years later. If anything, it’s only gotten worse, which explains why Oberst bounces between bouts of silence—he only did one interview for Outer South, the second “Conor Oberst album” recorded with the Mystic Valley Band—and the kind of mind-numbing press days that remind an artist just how hive-minded all of us writers are. I caught Oberst in the middle of an especially brutal photo shoot/phoner/ in-person/repeat cycle. And yet, things don’t seem as stressful this time around thanks to a brief, talking point-free bio— no cheat sheet means having a genuine conversation—and the few days writers were given to soak up initial promos of The People’s Key. To be fair, it wasn’t even mastered until a couple days ago, so it’s not like the band guarded the record to ward off intense rounds of questioning. And to be honest, it doesn’t seem like they’re looking for anyone’s stamp of approval, either. “It’s great if people keep enjoying what we do,” says Oberst, “but it’s never been about pleasing an audience. It’s impossible to create honest music with that in mind. He continues, after being asked about the extreme reactions that follow nearly every Bright Eyes record: “No matter what I do, I feel like I’m going to get a positive or really negative reaction. And at that point, you feel like, ‘Okay, I guess I can do anything.’”

Psychic Reality

It only takes a listen or two to register the refreshing level of freedom in The People’s Key. Recorded at Mogis’ new home studio over the course of nine carefully-paced months, it’s easily one of Bright Eyes’ most cohesive releases to date, a thrilling compromise between the lush orchestrations of Cassadaga and the welcome restraint of I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. And while Oberst thinks most writers will view it as “Bright Eyes’ ’80s album,” the group’s use of Depeche Mode-endorsed synths doesn’t amount to a dance record. It’s simply another tasteful layer in many of the songs, whether we’re talking about the shimmer and shake of “Shell Games”— a single that screams for a proper 7-inch pressing—or the Blade Runner-like backdrop of “Firewall.” The latter introduces the third eye ramblings of Denny Brewer. At first, he sounds like a wild-eyed preacher, a harbinger of the Four Horsemen and sin-cleansing scare tactics. Listen closely, however, and a different picture emerges—the portrait of a person who encourages tolerance and a tireless need to Question Everything. “A lot of people could brush aside what he says as weird conspiracy theories, but it’s so much more than that,” explains Oberst. “Whenever I meet someone like him—someone who’s on another plane—I get slightly obsessed with them and want to know what’s going on in their head.” Oberst and Brewer were introduced through mutual friends during the making of Outer South. As it turns out, Brewer is the frontman of Refried Ice Cream, an acid-drenched outfit that Oberst describes as “weird West Texas compound music—the genuine article.” Another easy comparison would be the more demented output of Roky Erickson, as captured on Refried Ice Cream’s Witness to the Storm record, one of the last releases on Oberst’s Young Love imprint. (The label signed Brewer’s band soon after their initial meeting, but Young Love is “taking a break” from any other releases for the foreseeable future.) To be clear, nearly every Bright Eyes record has started with an extended intro, a patience-testing passage that values albums in the age of the MP3. The People’s Key stands out from the rest of the band’s releases by splicing Brewer’s spoken word pieces—snippets of a 90-minute speech, cut in front of his son and Sonic Ranch’s


It’s great if people keep enjoying what we do, but it’s never been about pleasing an audience. It’s impossible to create honest music with that in mind.”

—Conor Oberst

The People’s Key unlocks on February 15 from Saddle Creek.

owner—throughout several tracks, and circling back to some of his mind-expanding ideas in Oberst’s own lyrics. “What some people might view as crazy, I view as profound,” explains Oberst. “That fine line is a very potent idea given the times we live in.” We start talking about religion, and how Brewer doesn’t subscribe to any particular belief system beyond enlightenment itself. “In a lot of ways, we all

have similar pursuits,” says Oberst. “Like the desire to understand the human condition, and how all of these different disciplines—scientific and otherwise—inform your own perspective. There really is no right and wrong when it comes to that. One person’s fiction is another person’s reality.”

21


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So Far Reaching The Making of Swervedriver’s Mezcal Head / by Kevin Stewart-Panko

F

ollowing the release of their debut album Raise

in 1991, which was actually a collection of new tunes alongside songs that appeared on previously released EPs and singles, Oxford, England’s Swervedriver were at a minor crossroads. The popularity of Raise had many placing them towards the top of alternative rock’s “shoegaze” faction. However, the band themselves had grown to dislike the album, not only because of the deficiencies that came with its self-production and how it was cobbled together, but they also opined that it was “too fast” and, therefore, “too heavy metal.” ¶ Not only that, but the North American leg of the tour in support of the album—which started in early 1992—was a bit of a disaster; original drummer Graham Bonnar walked away from the band at the Canadian-U.S. border only a few days into a two-month series of headlining dates. His replacement was Strange Boutique’s Danny Ingram, who quickly came up from Washington DC, learned the set and ended up staying with the band during repeated jaunts through Mezcal Head North America, Japan and Europe. Ingram A&M, 1993 even moved to the U.K. for a short time before his temporary status was up and he headed home. Later that same year, original bassist Adi Vines walked away, leaving Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge, both guitarist/vocalists, in limbo while the world around them clamored for more. It took almost a year, but Franklin and Hartridge reconvened with new drummer Jez Hindmarsh and the trio delivered their stunning second album, Mezcal Head, with Adam and Jimmy taking turning providing bass tracks for the still-vacant position.

Swervedriver

25


F

rom start to finish, Mezcal Head was equal amounts aggressive pummel and delightful shimmer. The songs were soaring and infectious, as effects pedal deployment played as important a role in the music’s efficacy as did note selection, riff construction and instrument interplay. Daring steps were taken along the way in the form of “Duel”’s dramatic bounce between seemingly disparate and incongruous halves, the way “Last Train to Satansville” utilized microscopic elements of alt-country, and the manner in which Franklin, Hartridge and Hindmarsh summoned their inner, droning Krautrock nerds on “Never Learn” and raucous balladeers on “MM Abduction.” And the public took notice. Mezcal Head became a fan and critical fave, as it garnered an inches-thick press kit spilling over with praise and positivity, “Duel” was NME’s “Single of the Week” upon its release, and the album charted respectively around the globe. Cowbell tracked down the three gentlemen who persevered through lineup turmoil and a bout with an uncertain future to produce one of alt-rock’s finest 50 minutes (61 minutes if you lived in North America and 70 if you lived in Japan).

At the time, what did you feel you learned from Raise that you wanted to do or avoid doing on Mezcal Head?

Adam Franklin: That the most important thing was to have a band. No, literally to have a band since there was only myself and Jimmy for a while. Jimmy Hartridge: We really wanted Alan Moulder [Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine] to produce Raise, but he wasn’t available. So, we kind of produced it ourselves, although we had no real idea at all how to go about it. It was our first album, so it’s no wonder, really, and the selfproduction wasn’t very satisfactory. We definitely wanted to get a third party in to work with on the second album, and this time we were lucky and managed to get a hold of him. I’m not sure really in retrospect how much of a “producer” he was in the way that one might imagine a producer like Brian Eno or something, but he was 26

brilliant at recording and mixing the music. I think the main thing really for us was to get the power right up—to make it sound bigger and richer. We decided to bring up the vocals a bit more, too, as we had buried them too much on Raise. There were rumors you had broken up at some point between Raise and Mezcal Head. Was that true?

Franklin: Those weren’t rumors. The band hadn’t broken up, as such, but we had lost Raise drummer Graham Bonnar on tour in the U.S., and though we carried on with American drummer Danny Ingram for the touring that followed, when [bassist] Adi Vines decided to concentrate fulltime on his other band, Skyscraper, myself and Jim decided we needed to take stock and find a couple of guys that at least lived in the same country. Hartridge: No, we never broke up at all! We lost Graham in the middle of an American tour and carried on touring with other guys filling in regardless, so when Adi left, it wasn’t a tremendous shock, in fact. Neither Adam nor I ever suggested that we should pack it in. We were beginning to demo stuff anyway, and that’s actually pretty easy to do with a couple of people; it’s probably easier than with a whole band. We just wanted to get on with the next album. We’d already been playing together at this point for eight years or so, and it would have been crazy to stop now that we had record deals and so on. Jez Hindmarsh: I think after Graham left, the band was determined to carry on. They were in the middle of a U.S .tour when that happened anyway. When the tours finished and they were back in the U.K., they were thinking of bringing Danny Ingram over from the U.S. as permanent replacement. Then Adi left, so Adam and Jim, I know, did think about giving it up. Instead they put bringing Danny on hold—a permanent hold as it turned out!—and started working on a few riffs with a drum machine in EMI’s demo studio in London. Generally, what were you looking to do differently on Mezcal Head?

Franklin: I recall having a conversation with Adi Vines about what the second Swervedriver album should sound like, and it was quite interesting what we dis-

cussed, although I have totally forgotten now what it was. Anyway, after losing half the band, the main thought in mine and Jimmy’s mind was to consolidate the sound we already had. I think there was a perception that our capacity to rock may have been depleted with the departure of the rhythm section, so we wanted to come back bigger and better. Hartridge: [I think it would have been] to get what we already had and distill it, you might say; to make the music more powerful and distinct. We already had something quite unique, but we hadn’t properly captured it on record, so that was the aim. What do you remember about the album’s writing sessions?

Hindmarsh: Jim, Adam and myself rented a storeroom in a Camden rehearsal studio called the Playground and I put together a little 16-track, -inch studio set up—a little desk I already had sat on a flight case, a couple of compressors and a few mikes. We jammed structures of riffs until they ran well, then I had the tape machine remote [set up] by the hi-hat, so we would hit record and just went for it as a three-piece. Then, we’d overdub some guitar/vocal/other noises and put together a rough mix. These formed the basis of the tunes we then re-recorded for Mezcal Head. Some of the sounds we’d created on the 16-track ended up being flown into the final 48-track recordings, and some of the sonic ideas we repeated. For example, we borrowed a Harley so we could record it. I managed to put about 500 miles on the odometer that day, which the shop found interesting because it was only 30 miles from the studio! Some of the guitar parts were originated in the studio “proper,” but they were mainly done as per the demo parts. We jammed quite a bit on the tunes in the studio and came up with very different versions of each song. Then it was just a question of selecting the backing tracks we liked the best and going for it with the overdubs. Hartridge: Well, it took awhile, but it was all one long session. I don’t really recall working on any new material whilst touring Raise, except perhaps “Last Train,” although that was only a riff, as I recall. It was pretty much all prepared after we’d done all that touring; it was all new stuff.


We worked pretty hard on the material in an 8-track studio that we block-booked in Camden. Five days a week; proper, serious music-making and very productive times indeed! Then, we took the ideas into Trident studios. Some of the demo takes were difficult to capture again with the same feel, so we had to spin the 8-track stuff into the new recordings. Franklin: The basic songs were all written sometime after Adi left, and then fleshed out after Jez joined the band. Some were home studio sketches and others more fully realized, but we spent a lot of time developing the songs as full band demos, and Jez’s drumming style helped make the songs come alive. His style was so much more expansive and all-encompassing than any previous Swervedriver drummer, and all the songs were of course expanded in the rehearsal room and the studio proper.

As the new lineup gelled, did you find the songwriting process transforming in any way?

—Jez Hindmarsh

Hindmarsh: I mentioned the songwriting process, but Adam is always credited as the main songwriter, which he was in general terms, but Jim’s contribution is often overlooked. He came up with some of the most catchy, killer riffs on both Raise and Mezcal Head. Hartridge: A lot of the music took shape as we went along, taking in a fair amount of collaboration and discussion. I don’t think anything was really in finished form until we’d finished the recording at least. Franklin: Not that many songs came out of complete free-form jams, but certain sections were of course left open-ended, such as the ends of “Duel,” “Last Train to Satansville” and “Year of the Girl.” The credits read “all songs written by Swervedriver except ‘Duress,’” which was credited to the band and Marc Waterman. Who is Marc Waterman and how did he contribute?

Franklin: “Duress” was one of the songs that was already fairly comprehensively sketched out from my three-minute, four-track demo, through to a full extended studio demo that we recorded with programmed drums. It was, in fact, the main song in our arsenal at the time when the band was down to just myself and Jimmy. The two of us went into EMI’s demoing studio—a perk from our publishing deal—and laid down the version with programmed drums. Marc Waterman was the engineer down there; he programmed the drums, so he was credited. Swervedriver songwriting credits tend to reflect the source of the original song idea and everyone’s contribution to it. Hindmarsh: Marc was an engineer at Evelyn Yard,

We borrowed a Harley so we could record it. I managed to put about 500 miles on the odometer that day, which the shop found interesting because it was only 30 miles from the studio.”

the EMI demo studio in London. He worked with us a few times and also produced Elastica records and a Ride album, I believe. Hartridge: The demo studio was in Oxford Street, and Adam and I had some time booked there when we found ourselves as a two-piece. Adam came down to the studio with that riff, so we all worked on it together, Marc taking a share of the credits for his quite considerable contributions. It was originally intended to be an instrumental, the recording of which I found on a cassette the other day, funnily enough. Marc created the drum loop and also told us that we were crazy to waste it and not have it as a full song with lyrics, etc. So, he should take credit for that song’s actual evolution, too. With the album being done as a three-piece with either Adam or Jimmy playing bass, how did you decide who would play on which songs?

Hindmarsh: Whoever felt best about doing bass on a particular tune did it! I don’t remember there ever 27


being any real debate about it. It felt pretty seamless in terms of who did what—to me, at least. Franklin: I think I played bass on all but “Harry and Maggie” and “A Change Is Gonna Come.” We were working at speed, really, so it didn’t really matter who played bass, but perhaps we’d already got guitars down and I had already thought about how the bass might go. For a period I had played bass in Shake Appeal—the band that Swervedriver had evolved from—so the combination of myself on bass and Jimmy on guitar was something we were used to. Hartridge: We had no choice and it was really no problem adding bass later in the studio. We usually overdubbed it anyway on all the other albums, in order to get the optimum sound. I don’t think it raised any issues. I played on a couple of the tracks and Adam did the rest. We recorded the backing tracks either as two guitars and drums or one guitar, bass and drums—whatever came naturally for each song.

The Colombian currency [depicted on the back cover] is extremely exotic compared to our rather drab UK royalty-based notes. It’s all part of the band’s ‘escape from the mundane’ theme!”

—Jimmy Hartridge

You had developed a pretty decent relationship with [producer] Alan Moulder with the original lineup. Did that continue with Swervedriver Mk. II? What did he bring to the proceedings?

Hartridge: Actually, we only just managed to snare him for our last “Mk. I” recording, the Never Lose That Feeling EP. He was our dream producer, really, and I guess he still would be even today. Not only is he just phenomenally talented at mixing music, but he also has superb senses of humor and decorum, which are so important in the studio. You can’t simply walk into the middle of a highly complex social set-up like a band, with all the egos, ideas and opinions, and not be highly sensitive to that. But he could have been a member of 28

our band easily. Artistically, he knew exactly when to step in and when not to with us. I think especially for U.K. bands, it’s very important to be able to remove oneself from the professional proceedings and laugh heartily at the rest of the music business, as the whole thing can be so utterly absurd. Alan was very good at that, so we always had a blast in the studio. He nearly appeared in our “Duel” video, but I think he had to go and mix the Smashing Pumpkins the very day we finished Mezcal Head. Franklin: Alan worked on the Never Lose That Feeling EP, which we started with the Raise lineup but, by the time we came back from tour to mix it, Graham was gone. Alan asked, “What the fuck did you do to him?” Alan’s technical know-how when it comes to mixing is second to none, but a crucial element was him just being a great guy. We’d spend a lot of time sitting around laughing at the music papers. We asked him to play bass in the “Duel” video because we were still a three-piece when it came time to do that. Hindmarsh: Alan’s fantastic and a really good man all ’round. We tried to bribe him to join the band by offering him an Explorer bass! First and foremost, he’s an engineer of the highest order, so he has a great depth of knowledge regarding mics, techniques, amps, outboard… all that stuff. He was great at finding set-ups that gave us what we


wanted sonically. He’s also a truly wonderful mix engineer, something borne out by his amazing credits since those days. The skill involved in being able to find space in a mix for that many rowdy guitars cannot be underestimated! There’s a list of about five or six studios that Mezcal Head was recorded at. Why did you end up using so many studios?

Franklin: I’ve no idea. Hindmarsh: I think it all came down to money! Hartridge: I only remember using two actually: Trident to record and Swanyard to mix. Maybe we credited the Camden Playground rehearsal studio as well, as we used some of the sounds from those sessions, too? I don’t think any of them exist anymore. Trident—Trident 2, to be exact—was a notoriously great place to record, and Swanyard was a great place to mix. They were both in London and that was it, really. Every band that goes into a studio to record has one amazing story that, when they go to re-tell it, usually starts with, “Man, you gotta hear this…” What’s yours from the Mezcal Head sessions?

Hartridge: Those stories tend to be better from the touring side of things, I think! We worked really hard every day until 4 a.m. most nights. It was always a positive time, but I can’t recall any particular anecdotes, I’m afraid. Not from those sessions anyway. We made a few prank calls and so on, but you had to be there, really. Hindmarsh: There are a few—which I shall keep to myself. [Laughs] One highlight was watching, and listening to, our manager at the time try to get his dog to make a noise that sounded a bit like a police siren. He swore the dog did this whenever he heard the sound of said siren. So, we got them into the studio, set up a rather nice Neumann [microphone] and he went for it. After a good couple of hours, all we had was lots and lots of high-quality DAT recordings of our manager simulating the sound of a police siren and cursing his dog! Cost a few quid in studio time, but well worth it for the laugh.

What significance does the album title hold?

Hartridge: While looking through a load of pre-Swervedriver tapes fairly recently, I found one with a song called “Mezcal Head” on it. I mentioned this to Adam and he was surprised that I couldn’t remember it. Anyway, I guess a few years later it ended up being the album title. We occasionally drank the stuff in Oxford, and in fact celebrated the last day of recording the album by all eating the worms from the bottles. What is the cover photo supposed to represent?

Hartridge: It’s a pub in Hampstead with a bull superimposed over it. I have no great recollection of the reasoning behind it. The back cover has a 10 peso bill, and the CD itself has what looks like a Bank of Colombia coin printed right on it. We’re assuming something about Colombia held some importance at the time. What and why?

Franklin: As mentioned, the album title was my name for an earlier song, but the combination of title, cover art, CD art, etc. is all auto-suggestion, isn’t it? There’s an idea behind it, but you don’t want it spelled out, and some things are better left for you to figure out. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Hindmarsh: If I were in the U.S., I’d take the Fifth here. I’m not, but I’m going to anyway! Hartridge: The Colombian currency is extremely exotic compared to our rather drab U.K. royalty-based notes. It’s all part of the band’s “escape from the mundane” theme! Why, in the booklet, did you decide to print pictures with lyric excerpts instead of all the lyrics, but include the full lyric sheet printed in the Japanese version?

Franklin: It was just an artistic decision. Japanese versions always attempt to have full lyrics in Japanese and English. Hartridge: Japanese albums have always done that, I think, even back in the ’70s. My Japanese version of the first Clash album has all the lyrics on it—quite a revelation, as I could never work them out! I think

we decided that to give away all the lyrics would spoil the art of deciphering, somewhat. The chosen words printed hint at the full treasures that lie within the songs. Also, if you print all the lyrics, then you can read them all on the bus on the way home from the record store before you’ve had a chance to hear them in context, which totally spoils the art. It’s not such a problem when the lyrics are good, and Adam’s are always of a pretty high quality, but often when I read reviews of albums and so on and see bits and pieces of lyrics quoted out of context, I often literally squirm out of embarrassment as they look so bad on the page. It’s sometimes better not to know! Hindmarsh: That was great fun! Andy Vella, who did most of the Cure’s artwork, came up with the [excerpts and pictures] concept. It was always very exciting to go down to his little studio in SoHo to see what he’d come up with. Why were the songs “MM Abduction” and “Harry & Maggie” respectively retitled “Mickey” and “Dragging It Under” for the U.K. version of the album?

Franklin: They weren’t exactly. The real title was “Mickey Mouse Abduction,” but the record label feared getting sued by Disney, so we got playful with it and extended that playfulness to the other tune. They were only called “Mickey” and “Dragging It Under” on the label of the vinyl. I think “Harry & Maggie” technically had three titles, but I forget the third. Maybe it was on the cassette edition or something! Hindmarsh: “Dragging It Under”? No idea about that, unless Margaret Thatcher threatened to sue! Hartridge: “MM Abduction” was just legal protection in order to prevent A&M Records from getting sued by the highly litigious Disney Corporation. Fair enough, I suppose. I had no idea until now that “Dragging It Under” was used as a full title, so that’s news to me! Upon the album’s release, what do you recall about the way it was received by fans and critics?

Franklin: “Duel” got single of the week in both NME and Melody Maker, which seemed like a big deal at the time. I liked Keith Cameron’s description of my bass on 29


I liked [the U.K. press’s] description of my bass on ‘Duel’ as ‘purring like a V8 engine.’”

—Adam Franklin

who were very decent toward us. I had to fly home during that tour for a few days, as my girlfriend was giving birth, and I made it just in time. We played a great Reading Festival show at the time of release. I suppose we toured for a year, on-and-off. We were pleased with the record and it was good to play it live with a new band who all wanted to be a part of it. Touring at that point had not turned into a drag at all, as it later would. We had full record company support at the time, too, which helped. “Duel” was your most successful single at the time. How successful are we talking, and were you surprised?

“Duel” as “purring like a V8 engine”! Hartridge: It was released at a “dead time,” late summer, so it didn’t exactly fly. The critics liked it, though not as much as they should have done—in the U.K. at least—as I recall. I think the U.S. critics were smart enough to realize that it was a pretty special album. The fans went for it, as it was quite a step up from Raise. If you liked the first album, you were probably gonna be pretty impressed by the second!  What do you remember about touring the Mezcal Head material?

Franklin: The first show was in Hemel Hempstead. It was exciting because we had found [bassist] Steve George, so we were playing our first shows with the new rhythm section of Jez and Steve. It’s a testament to those guys that they ended up eclipsing Adi and Graham, because they were a hard act to follow. I think they brought something more to the pre-Mezcal material, plus we had this great new set to play. Hindmarsh: It was long, very long... Highlight for me was the Smashing Pumpkins support for six weeks on the Siamese Dream tour. It was great to get to watch them up close every night for 30-something nights. Hartridge: The tours were a lot of fun on the whole. We toured the U.S. with the Smashing Pumpkins, 30

Franklin: Well, we’re talking not-really-verysuccessful-in-commercial-terms, of course. It may have reached #42 in the U.K. charts or something, which was about the same as the previous EPs had reached. Hindmarsh: No one got rich, if that’s what you’re asking! It was only ever an underground tune, really, despite the extensive radio play. It is still, however, the only tune to get awarded “Single of NEXT week” by the NME! Hartridge: It wasn’t really particularly successful commercially, but it’s always been a great song. We got single of the week in both the U.K. music papers—and deservedly so, I think. I would have more been surprised if people hadn’t liked it, to be honest. What do you remember about filming the video for “Duel”? Were there fights with the record company about the video being an edited version of the song? And what did snowboarding have to do with anything, anyway?

Hindmarsh: We did two videos for “Duel.” One was the $7,000 snowboard video we did with Brad Steward, all ’round great guy and former owner of Bonfire Clothing. That was a great, fun week on Mount Hood. The record company thought it too lofi-looking, so we did another video involving a lawn laid out on a rooftop in downtown L.A. I remember the catering costing more than the first video, and I ate one grape that day. True story. Franklin: Actually, the decision to do a single edit was ours and is the version we always play live. Hartridge: I remember we edited it ourselves, so there were no fights over that, as a long single can be problematic for many reasons. Andy Allen, our manager, was heavily into snowboarding at the time and especially into the fashion that went with it— he was in clothes retail as well—and pushed us into that idea. It seemed like a good way to kick off the band’s “Mk. II” career by filming in the mountains


of Oregon and at the hotel where they had made The Shining, so we fell for it. Snowboarding seemed like a cool scene to us, although we really knew nothing about it at the time. It didn’t really strike us at that point that it was a sport purely for rich kids. I regretted it later when I saw that Jamiroquai had a video with the same idea! Anyway, we had a good few days up there and made a very low-budget video, which we edited in a London editing suite. We got it cheap, as a mate of Jez’s was using it during the day for something probably very expensive. We came in from 10 p.m. onwards, using downtime. The whole thing probably cost less than £5000 to make, travel and all. Of course, it wasn’t anywhere near good enough quality for MTV, so we got some Hollywood guy to shoot another one in L.A. that probably cost 10 times as much. MTV didn’t show that one either. That was a good education in the ways of the ’90s music industry. Whose decision was it to add “Never Lose That Feeling/Never Learn” on the American version and “Planes Over the Skyline” and “Year of the Girl” on the Japanese version? Was the Never Lose EP not widely available in the U.S.?

Hindmarsh: Quite a bit of the Swervie stuff wasn’t available in the U.S. Ejector Seat Reservation [the band’s third album] was never released in the U.S. at the time, a significant nail in the Swervedriver coffin as it turned out! I think those additions were simply to add value for people buying the albums. “Planes Over the Skyline” was originally intended to go on Mezcal Head, and at the last minute it was changed for “You Find It Everywhere.” Personally, I think we should have stuck with the original plan! Franklin: That was simply the norm for U.S. and Japanese versions back then. The Never Lose EP wasn’t released in the U.S., no. Hartridge: I don’t think any of the EPs were available properly in the U.S.—only the albums. I can’t remember who made the decisions, but I’m sure we signed off on them. Did it surprise you that “Duel” and “Last Train to Satansville” ended up being used in Sega’s Road Rash video game? Did you see any benefit—financial or otherwise—from that?

Franklin: The video game hook-up came from the Swervedriver camp, and A&M in the U.S. ran 31


/music with it and got a bunch of their other acts onto that game also. The game sold well, and the publishing income always went straight back into the band’s coffers. So, that game helped keep the band going. I’ve heard people say they first heard the band on that game also. Hindmarsh: It was no surprise. We were kept informed about the negotiations with EA [Electronic Arts] for the Road Rash game. Financial benefit? A little, but we wouldn’t be rushing out to buy a country mansion on the back of it, though! Hartridge: A&M were really into the video game tie-in thing, and of course it paid off, as it’s turned into one of the best ways of making money out of music in the current climate. We were fully aware of

those tracks being used on games, and were well up for it. Road Rash was an introduction to Swervedriver for many people who I’m sure otherwise wouldn’t have heard the band. We made some money from it, but not a huge amount by any means. Looking back at everything, was there anything you would have done differently? Or was everything you thought imperfect corrected on the 2008 reissue of Mezcal Head?

Franklin: I don’t think anything needed correcting; it is what it is, as they say. I haven’t listened to the remastered version, but I’m told it sounds good. 32

Hindmarsh: Personally, I think we blew way too much money in recording most of our stuff. It’s true that this was just as computer-based recording was coming in, so we did have HUGE two-inch tape bills, for example, but we could have been more fiscally prudent. Then again, we did have a great time and share some wonderfully privileged experiences doing these recordings. The studios were amazing places with really good people working in them, so we made some good friends. I don’t think Mezcal Head needed any correcting because I thought it pretty much rocked when it came out the first time! Hartridge: Well, at the time the album sounded as good as it could have done, I think. We could have done a few tweaks here and there, but nothing particular springs to mind, unlike the first album that could have done with a complete overhaul. I went in to oversee the remastering of the reissue and came to realize that albums now are simply much louder than they were in the early ’90s, and that would be the main difference between the two. I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with the original, and to be honest, I was pretty much waiting for guidance from the mastering guy in the studio. Having said that, I do think that the job done second time around is pretty damn good and the reissued version sounds way better than the first one. Now, it sounds as good as it can do in the present time. In 20 years time, maybe it will need remastering again. Isn’t that how all industries operate now? General Motors invented the “upgrade” thing, I believe, and the music industry isn’t much different from cars, computers or plasma screens. We worked as hard as we were able back in 1993 on the album. We took it as seriously as we could, being the people that we were, and the sessions were always charged and exciting. I believe that we worked better as a recording unit then than we ever did after that time. There are many reasons for that, but the main one was that after Mezcal Head, we decided to build our own studio rather than continue to rent them out at the high prices that they were at the time. Once we had our own place, there was no sense of a clock ticking and we could take our time, which is not always a particularly good thing!


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Causer Effects Toro Y Moi relax to the max on their capable second effort

W Toro Y Moi 9

hen Chazwick Bundick emerged as the cream of the blogosphere last summer with his

Toro Y Moi debut, Causers of This, there was something so otherworldly yet instantly recognizable about his blissed-out, glitched-up, gorgeously glossed compositions, it was hard to not take notice. People called it chillwave (because we must name things!) and marveled over the pastiche of classic pop, softcore electronica and hints of hip-hop. Bundick’s second album, Underneath the Pine, takes Causers’ all-sample formula and

Underneath the Pine [Carpark]

flips it on its head. While certainly of a piece with its predecessor, Underneath eschews the samples for instrumentation, adding dimension to Toro Y Moi’s disco-scape. If Causers of This was the work of a quirky laptop tinkerer, Underneath the Pine’s the product of a knob tweaker with some musical skills. “Intro/Chi Chi” throws down the gauntlet with reverberating guitar and a heavenly host of ghostly angels—an odd mix of euphony and cacophony— before shimmying into the ear candy roller-skating jam “New Beat,” thick with squiggly synths and photo by Bryan Bush

rubber-band bass. This is significant: There are two distinct ways to listen to Toro Y Moi. You can turn of your mind, relax and let your body move to the dance muzak of the downtempo “Go With You” or the Stereolabby wiggle and gyrate of “Got Blinded.” Bundick’s vocals are high and thin, his lyrics not particularly deep, his beats perky and danceable. But if you listen more closely, there’s something amiss, an odd timbre, a beat struggling to catch up, a tension unresolved. The lounge-y “How I Know” opens with the question, “Since when did you stop 33


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leaving your home?” then later drops, “This is where I want you to / take me when I die and I’m full of sleep / underneath the pine on a bed of leaves.” Listen to “Good Hold” on your headphones and be lulled by the dulcet-toned piano ballad until about 1:35, when your ears start to pop only to realize Bundick’s playing with the stereo phasing for an oddly pleasing vertiginous effect. That the album ultimately builds to its strongest song, the sprawling “Elise,” reveals Bundick to be either a man with a great sense of compositional purpose, or completely oblivious to modern album-tracking conventional wisdom (a win-win). “You knew this was always gonna happen,” goes the album’s best vocal hook and it’s most harddriving track—all pounding piano, dancing synths, flitting guitars. It, like much of the album, is exquisitely layered (that is Bundick’s best trick), riddled with off-rhythm vamps, one-off arpeggios, myriad guitar stabs. That Bundick is able to create such fully-formed thoughts out of a million little pieces is his art; that it ultimately sounds so cohesive is his genius. —Brian Howard

Adele

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Always double down A British bombshell who displayed enough talent on her debut 19 to earn Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2009 Grammy Awards, Adele is shaping up to be one of those artists who finds all her inspiration through heartache. On nearly every song on 21, she’s either on the brink of a breakup or two days into being dumped. On one hand, it’s a downer to hear such lovely, scintillating pipes ache over and over again to music that veers too close to the adult-contemporary ether; but on the other, Adele is really, really good at it. Still, she’s best on the more lively numbers (“Rumour Has It,” “Rolling in the Deep”). A mix of nightclub jazz, R&B and gospel never drowns out the luster of her voice—sometimes all she needs is a stark acoustic guitar and pounding kick drum to drive home her coulda-shoulda-woulda lamentations. —Jeanne Fury …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Tao of the Dead Richter Scale/Superball Music

Tao and/or die There was a time when Trail of Dead were the leaders of a new baroque noise rock era. Then there was another time where they were hasbeens searching for pop relevancy. Tao of the Dead is the band at their most extreme, two continuous

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With his eponymous 2005 debut, singer/songwriter Amos Lee was immediately elevated to the rarified status of opening for the likes of Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Merle Haggard and Paul Simon. After his third album, 2008’s Last Days Amos Lee at the Lodge, Lee contemplated whether or not he would Mission Bell ever record again. As we say at our sister publication Decibel, that’s extremely extreme. Thankfully, Lee took over a Blue Note Extended stay year off and continued to write, his songs reflecting advice from longtime hero Bill Withers to shake up his style, followed by a decision to accept a years-old invitation from Calexico’s Joey Burns and John Convertino to record at their Wavelab studio in Arizona. The result is the expansive and atmospheric Mission Bell, Lee’s most deliberate and mature album to date. With Burns at the console, Calexico in the band and a host of guests, including Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam and legendary R&B drummer James Gadson, Lee has realized the purest expression of his roots, soul and pop influences on Mission Bell. The emotional folk/pop gem “Stay With Me” and the ambient gospel “Jesus” quiver with wide-angle Brian Eno-meets-Gram Parsons desert intensity, while “Hello Again” and “Cup of Sorrow” sway with the late-night cantina sound of Withers singing Marty Robbins and Louvin Brothers songs from a dusty old jukebox. The threads connecting Mission Bell’s gentle diversity are Lee’s supernaturally soulful vocals—a caramel cross between James Taylor and Ben Harper, and evocatively eloquent and casually beautiful songs that are equally informed by loss and redemption. —Brian Baker

photo by Harper Smith


blocks of sound where songs are woven together into a heroic mélange that pushes against the mainstream, and loses itself through the effort. There are a great many riffs once they’ve been surgically removed. If there’s one thing the band doesn’t get enough credit for, it’s their ability to write an arena-sized hook. “Summer of All Dead Souls” is particularly powerful, and stands with their best material. But the album’s meandering, overstuffed structure never allows you to feel settled. Instead parts materialize out of the ether, stay for a certain period, and you’re thrust back into a self-indulgent psychedelic jam. While I can appreciate pushing back against the iTunes culture or whatever, there’s just not enough meat on the actual album to justify the abundance of filler. —Shane Mehling

Beans

End It All Anticon

Not-so-magical fruit Since his early days as an MC with Anti-Pop Consortium, Beans has keenly understood the demands the alternative hip-hop audience makes for its adopted orphans. It may come naturally for him to play xylophone with your ribs and a pair of golf clubs, but he also senses his people expect nothing less. So, in an effort to keep himself on point, Beans has enlisted a host of rock experimentalists (TOBACCO, Tunde from TV on the Radio) and art-school beatheads (Nobody, Fred Bigot) to back him up on his latest effort. The results are hit and miss: occasionally you’ll

hear Beans trip up as he attempts to match his verbal barrages to the beats, and some of the productions, such as Sam Fogarino’s (Interpol) efforts on “Electric Bitch,” sound messy and selfindulgent. It does click, however, with the Four Tet-produced “Anvil Falling,” which builds into a desperate crescendo in only a minute, but that’s all you get.—Justin Hampton

British Sea Power

Valhalla Dancehall Rough Trade

Partying sorta-hard What’s in a name? Well, let’s just say British Sea Power are a band so pathologically British it’s a shock to the system every time one of Valhalla Dancehall’s 13 tracks doesn’t fade out into a backannouncement from John Peel. But since the Brits have always excelled at this whole rock ‘n’ roll thing (and since the name Wedding Present could only be used once), it was perfectly acceptable when BSP set about justifying their audacious moniker with 2002’s jaw-dropping single “Remember Me” On Valhalla Dancehall, they plead their case once more. Dancehall is frontloaded with frenetic rockers (“Strunde Null,” “Who’s in Control?”) as affected as anything off their debut; tempered by the occasional C-86 homage (“Living Is So Easy”); filled in with shoegaze-y dream-pop (“Mongk II,” “Baby”); and rounded out by moody torch ballads (“Georgie Ray,” “Luna”) that would give Coldplay a run for their millions. —Adam Gold

Back in 2006, Cold War Kids were one of the first bands to owe a significant chunk of their popularity to bloggers. While their success wasn’t exactly overnight, it was pretty damn rapid. As sales for their fulllength debut Robbers & Cowards crossed the six-digit mark, they also were one of Cold War Kids Mine Is Yours the first to learn that blog-based backlash comes just as fast. After a while, opinions Downtown about Cold War Kids—whether or not Giving pledge they’re a Christian band, whether or not it should matter—seemed to push their music to the background. The passions that the band stirred were curious given how innocuous their songs are. With Mine Is Yours, the self-described soul-punk band stays safe. The exception is the big production on “Out of the Wilderness,” with its slick strings and orchestral percussion. The bombast suits them better than aloof indie-ness. “Louder Than Ever” recaptures the swagger of Robbers’ “Hang Me Out to Dry,” and there’s no denying that the Kids have some guitar pop chops. But their tendency to take few risks too often finds them veering off into sorority rock.

photo by Lucy Hamblin

Cage the Elephant

Thank You Happy Birthday Jive

We love the ’90s Nü-ternative, is that a thing? From here on out, can we use that as the term representing any band/ album that sounds like it was Frankensteined out of old CMJ New Music Monthly sampler CDs? Pretty please? It has a much nicer ring to it than classic modern rock or neo-indie or whatever the kids are using to delineate bands that are acutely Clinton-ian in sound and aesthetic, yet are, you know, new. Like if a band makes you wonder if the Toadies ever cut tracks with Fun Lovin’ Criminals, or if Green Apple Quick Step got remixed by Geggy Tah—could we just go ahead and declare that band “Nü-ternative”? Cuz we’re just gonna go ahead and declare Cage the Elephant the Kings of Nü-ternative. Songs like “2024 and “Aberdeen” manager to bring back a fun, angsty flannelness that’s been missing from mainstream radio. —Sean L. Maloney

Deerhoof

Deerhoof vs. Evil Polyvinyl

One-sided fight The narrative that follows the release of a new Deerhoof album usually addresses how the one-time no-wavers have become more accessible. While it’s true that everything

“Broken Open” is the worst offender. The lyrics careen from embarrassing metaphors (“When I was the fire, you were the wood / So, when I was petrified, you understood.”) to lines stolen straight out of Anthony Kiedis’ notebook (“Picasso don’t premeditate, he just paint”). Then there’s the opening title track, which sounds like Train covering Maroon 5. No one’s digging out of that hole. —Matt Sullivan

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reviews

With the fractured guitar shards and buried-soOf course, there is more to sing, and the Kids acdeep vocals of “Tithe”—the opening salvo of their quit themselves well on 11 more songs that range first studio album in six years—one gets the sense from the slow-loping keyboard jaunt “Shatter that the Get Up Kids are making amends. Since Your Lungs” to the arrhythmic guitar stabbing of getting back together for a 2009 reunion tour, the single “Automatic” to the somber parable of “The emo godheads have made no secret that they’ve Widow Paris.” The standout track might be “Keith The Get Up Kids got some regrets with regards to the path punkCase” (“You can lie to the liar, but know your There Are Rules pop has taken—glammy, overwrought—since the tell”), which, okay, was released on the appetiteQuality Hill whetting Simple Science EP last year. But it’s the KC five-piece were the weep-along darlings of the Mile markers malaproppy pair of “Pararelevant” and “Rememrunny-mascara LiveJournal set. And “Tithe,” an angry, blistering fist-pumper, is, yes, an offering orable” that demonstrate the resurgent Kids’ at we’ll accept. “But after we sing this song / I’ve got their back-in-the-saddle best, with the big-swellso little left / but I’ve got this!” spits vocalist/big kid Matt ing guitars, the swirling keyboards and an admirably subtle Pryor, and as a statement song, this could be one of the more sense of that ol’ self-effacing wallowing. No, there’s nothing genuinely punk gestures of his life. here that screams “play me on repeat”—nothing to, ahem, write home about—but plenty to like like. —Brian Howard

they’ve done since 2003’s Apple O’ has shifted gradually toward the poppier side of things, a lot of folks are going to miss the bombastic guitars that were reintroduced into the playbook on Offend Maggie. With Deerhoof vs. Evil, subtlety is the battle plan. Guitars still blast through the choruses of “Behold a Marvel in the Darkness” and the obscure Greek film soundtrack cover “Let’s Dance the Jet,” but keyboards and electronics are as prominent as ever. The recordings are slicker and more polished than anything the band has produced (self-

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produced, in fact), and the dreamy chorus of “I Did Crimes for You” proves that, even within the band’s playfulness, the melodies still carry emotional heft. —Matt Sullivan

Designer Drugs

Hardcore/Softcore Ultra

Preferential treatment Aggression takes on all sorts of forms in the world of dance music. Some will

load up on guitars and tons of attitude, and others go down the gothic-industrial route with gray atmosphere and menacing vocals. Designer Drugs, on the other hand, integrate it all into the electropunk on their debut LP, and to their credit, make it all work without sounding contrived. The single “Drop Down,” for instance, evokes Sisters of Mercy with its opening choral drone, but moves quickly into a headbanging groove that discriminates against no one. The interstellar rap on “Through the Prism” melds well with the track’s gelatinous bass, and they even pull off a Europop

photo by Forrester Michael


track with blogger fave Annie (“Crazy for You”) without a hint of ironic punch-pulling. Branching out in many different directions at once, this debut should pull in crowds well beyond DD’s clubhipster fanbase. —Justin Hampton

Destroyer

Kaputt

Merge

Not done for yet Dan Bejar’s reputation as Canada’s resident sonic oddball has been estab-

lished with his wonderfully strange contributions to the New Pornographers and his eclectic solo/ band catalog as Destroyer. Bejar’s previous Destroyer outings have been fascinating indie-pop excursions that weld his lyrical pretzel logic to a compellingly quirky soundtrack, giving him Robyn Hitchcock’s mad studio scientist tilt. With Kaputt, Bejar ventures into weird soundscapes of ’80s dance-pop synths and jazzy rhythms that nod in the direction of Simply Red and Prefab Sprout while maintaining his schizophrenically entertaining sense of wordplay, exemplified by this couplet from “Suicide Demo for Kara

Walker”: “Enter through the exit and exit through the entrance / When you can, you consort with your invisible manhole / Fool child, you’re never gonna make it / New York City just wants to see you naked, and they will.” Bejar weaves sinewy guitar into the smoky melancholy of “Poor in Love,” a track Bryan Ferry could ride into chart history, but Kaputt is very different musical territory for fans expecting the same old Destroyer. —Brian Baker

The Dirtbombs

Party Store

In the Red

Logical techno advances When live-instruments bands cover electronic dance music, it can be gimmicky for sure—see LCD Soundsystem’s well-intentioned, but stiff, version of Carl Craig’s “Throw.” Detroit garage rockers the Dirtbombs’ new disc, in which the band takes on nine techno classics either from or associated with their hometown, succeeds because the group covers the tracks with their own grubby pawprints. “Sharevari,” by Euro outfit A Number of Names—a big influence on early Detroit producers Juan Atkins and Derrick May—is remade as a guttural stomp, while May’s rave anthem “Strings of Life” is reduced to Mick Collins and Ko Melina’s squalling guitars over Ben Blackwell and Pat Pantano’s fizzing dual drums. “Bug in the Bass Bin,” by Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra, stretches to 23 minutes on the back of Craig’s own synth programming and Collins’ feedback lobs. (The album is available on DJ-friendly triple vinyl, needless to say.) Highly recommended to anyone who thinks they have a handle on what “black music” might consist of. —Michaelangelo Matos

Once in a generation, America births a comedian that cuts so close to the bone—while running so far afield from the rules of decorum—that they’re able to expose an entire nation’s neuroses and foibles while sending them into stitches rather into the corner for a good cry. Twain, Bruce, Carlin, Pryor and Hicks all managed to tap into America’s deep Louis C.K. reserves of hypocrisy, confusion and idiocy to dredge up Hilarious universal truths about us as a people as well as individuals. Louis C.K.—the stand-up genius behind Hilarious, the Comedy Central Black heart recently-renewed FX series Louie and, most importantly, procession the surrealist-sploitation masterpiece Pootie Tang—is the first, and so far only, entrant into that rarefied fraternity of humorists the 21st century has yet produced. C.K. is an artist who pulls no punches in search of a raw, naked verisimilitude, a fact well-known by his cult of fans, but which becomes glaringly obvious to even the newest of newbies mere moments into Hilarious when he reminds the audience that “You’re just dead people that didn’t die yet.” From there, C.K. riffs on the dichotomy between Ray Charles and Hitler, unsuccessfully jacking off to Girls Gone Wild, and American’s seemingly endless ability to complain about firstworld problems like cell-phone service, ATMs and “the miracle of human flight.” Each topic—from his own divorce to raising his daughters and “the dudes that walk in packs of nine” on a mission to get laid—is dealt with the most graphic of candor and the most cunning of insights, which makes this concert performance a generation-defining piece of social commentary. —Sean L. Maloney

photo courtesy www.LouisCK.net

Disappears

Guider

Kranky

Not gone, not forgotten Chicago quartet Disappears’ debut album Lux displayed a stubborn and singleminded commitment to their sonic fingerprint, which yielded great, drone-y garage rock that owed as much to Can and Neu! as it did to the Velvet Underground. The problem with that singular focus is that the 10 tracks on their debut got a little same-y. Aside from honing in on their reverb-drenched attack with even more exactness, nothing much has changed on Guider. That is, aside from the length of closing track “Revisiting.” Despite Disappears’ use of open spaces and repetitive guitar lines, they’ve typically placed a high priority on concision. Both albums clock in around half an hour, but the newest one stretches out on the sixth track, which comprises half the record’s playing time. It works. They eliminate some of the repetition from before because this time around it mostly is the same song. And it’s a good one, too, flexing their Krautrock chops to even greater degree than before and closing the album in a hypnotic swirl. —Matt Sullivan

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THE

reviews

Drive-By Truckers

Go Go Boots ATO

Walking all over you Drive-By Truckers have always had two sides—sure, they write some genuine barnburners, but they also have their more reflective, often sinister moments. Never have they channeled that dark energy more effectively than on Go Go Boots, a record sure to rival Decoration Day for the hearts of the band’s more contemplative fans. This is an album that just oozes late-night desperation, whether it’s a veteran begging his friend to come “take that gun back,” the man with a temper and a twitch who “used to be a cop” or the small-town girl from Pulaski, TN destroyed by the big city. Then there’s Patterson Hood’s “Go Go Boots” and “The Fireplace Poker,” a mini song-cycle chronicling a preacher’s murder-for-hire scheme gone horribly awry. It’s a southern gothic novel boiled down to shuffling, sultry rhythm and Hood’s masterfully dry delivery. DBT have never released anything this immersive or cohesive—it’s a record to get lost in, preferably late at night; stiff drink in hand. —Lee Stabert

Gang of Four

Content

Yep Roc

That’s still entertainment Gang of Four emerged from 1977’s punk scene as one of Britain’s most musically mature and politically aware bands. Contrasting the Sex Pistols’ gobsmacked tumult, GOF were erudite and restrained, adding spiced funk, dub reggae and ambient minimalism to their post-punk recipe, but their left wing sloganeering on “At Home He’s a Tourist” and “I Love a Man in a Uniform” was censored or banned, selling better as American club tracks than English rallying anthems. GOF have reformed twice since their 1984 demise, with Content just their third album in 15 years, but time has not diminished the band’s musical integrity and political/social commitment. Jon King’s raspy pronouncements and Andy Gill’s juddering guitar spikes remain potent as ever (particularly on the propulsive “I Party All the Time” and “You Don’t Have to Be Mad”), while the new rhythm section of bassist Thomas McNiece and drummer Mark Heaney provide a malleable yet sturdy foundation. As for the title, emphasis goes on the first syllable; Gang of Four will thankfully never be content. —Brian Baker The Godless Girl

Splendor in the Grass Deadline

Repress for success Ascites trade in immersive, molten-lava noise;

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there’s a hydrogen-peroxide bite to this prolix Dallas-based trio’s scrabbling powerelectronics. The Godless Girl—the Cecil B. DeMille-inspired side project of Ascites’ Nathan and Randa Golub— is a more tactile proposition, if no less bracing. On Splendor in the Grass, this noise couple and their punishing machines simulate the illusion of perpetual breakage, of cracks, fissures , and splinters that surface and replicate themselves into relentless infinity. If Ascites’ m.o. is hard subdermal unrest, Godless Girl opt for sadomasochistic dermal Armageddon. Sampled b-movie hysterics set the stage for each half of this cassette: Side A sprinkler-spritzes out a half-hour of numbing, burrowing rupture, while Side B responds with an equal measure of the sort of rampart-shelling, Judgment Day roar that ruins pregnancies, friendships and primo AIWA speakers. —Raymond Cummings

The Go! Team

Rolling Blackouts Memphis Industries

High outage probability Ian Parton of the Go! Team may be a victim of his own success. The group’s 2004 debut Thunder Lightning Strike was a lab experiment in mixing painstakingly arranged samples, cheerleader chants and potent echoes of everything from vintage Stax sounds to old-school hip-hop. Three years later, the group presented the same sounds writ large on an equally whimsical and overstuffed major label follow-up. Guest vocals by Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsusaki and Best Coast’s ubiquitous Bethany Cosentino help to disrupt the static on Rolling Blackouts, but the best of the rest (the galloping instrumental “Bust-Out Brigade” and the anthem “Apollo Sunshine”) feel like variations on some now gratingly familiar themes. Well, except the title track, a noisy, discordant fusion of the Ronettes and Sonic Youth—that’s clearly a new addition to the playbook. Rolling Blackouts is another pocket full of sunshine, but we deserve double rainbows, dammit. Get back to the huddle, guys! —Nick Green G-Side

The One… Cohesive Slow Motion Soundz

Lovely sexy futuresounds While most of the nation would have never seen it coming, in Southern hip-hop circles—usually in outside clubs, when the conservation tends to turn to the new hotness after a few beers and a chain of cigarettes—Alabama’s ascendancy as a hotbed of cutting-edge hip-hop was imminent. Only a few hours away from major rap exporters like Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans and chock full of fucking rocket scientists, it was really only a matter of time before Huntsville launched a group made coastal critic-

types jettison their preconceived notions. G-Side’s mixtape Huntsville International and the album Starshipz and Rocketz put them on the national and international map, but nobody could have seen One coming. Echoing the jazz-classical collisions coming out of Chicago in the late ’60s and the ruggedness of pre-pimp-cup Southern gangsta rap, One is on the bleeding edge of 21st century hip-hop. —Sean L. Maloney

Tim Hecker

Ravedeath, 1972 Kranky

Hate crimestoppers Ravedeath, 1972 opens with the pot boiling over. Where sub-bass rumble has often been a looming threat in Hecker’s ambient work, it’s rare that it ever spills over the way it does right off the bat here. With lead track “Piano Drop,” the record introduces itself physically, but quickly drifts back into the enigmatic spaces in which we’re accustomed to finding the Vancouver, BC producer. The plot points are vague: Ravedeath 1972, “Analog Paralysis, 1978,” “Studio Suicide, 1980.” The press release accompanying the album says that it’s “partly an attempt to confront a pervasive negativity surrounding music,” which fits the twotrack suite “Hatred of Music” into the puzzle. As for what it all means, tough to say—but there is a lot going on in the negative spaces. The edges of these soundscapes bristle with activity, as a sizable chunk of the album was recorded with fellow ambient maestro Ben Frost in an Icelandic church. The result is one of the densest, most varied and most engaging albums in Hecker’s already impressive catalog. —Matt Sullivan Iron & Wine

Kiss Each Other Clean Warner Bros

Sold out and radical For all the merciless commercial exposure Iron & Wine have received in recent years—on the tube (House M.D., Ugly Betty, etc.), on the Twilight soundtrack, in M&M’s ads and Miley Cyrus movies—one might expect the sound of Sam Beam’s hushed film professor’s cadence to cause some kind of heinous indie rock skin rash. Luckily, those of us who don’t watch TV and aren’t teenage girls suffer no so such calamities. Thus, there are moments on Beam’s latest fulllength that are just as mesmerizing as 2002’s The Creek Drank the Cradle, the one that more or less introduced our man’s soft Americana to the world. Opener “Walking Far From Home” is a fittingly trancelike lead-in to the oohs, aahs and flute interludes that pepper Kiss like the sweet morning dewdrops Beam seemingly sings about on every album. He could probably lose the goofy saxophone on “Big Burned Hand,” but that’s hardly


a complaint. Removed from his retinue of cringeworthy contexts, Beam can still write a compelling song. —J. Bennett

The Jayhawks

Hollywood Town Hall + Tomorrow the Green Grass American/Legacy

Reassessed for the best The expanded editions of the Jayhawks’ 1992 breakthrough Hollywood Town Hall and 1995 masterpiece Tomorrow the Green Grass are evidence of the Minneapolis quartet’s lasting influence on the subsequent roots/Americana scene. That they’re likely to be bigger hits in this incarnation than when they were originally released points to the grave injustices that the Jayhawks suffered in their own time; co-frontman/songwriter Mark Olson left after Green Grass and its exquisite shouldabeen-hit “Blue” failed to generate any significant impact. Both Hollywood and Green Grass are appended with bonus tracks; “Leave No Gold” is the highlight of HTH’s extras, while Green Grass offers non-LP bsides including the album’s title track and “Sweet Hobo Self,” and a quartet of interesting archive nuggets. Green Grass may draw more fans with its second disc of widely bootlegged/officially unreleased demos, a beautifully unvarnished set of familiar Jayhawks classics and new finds, but both reissues are clear justification for long-held critical praise regarding Minnesota’s favorite Americana sons. —Brian Baker

The last time the Twilight Singers released an album, some songs were recorded in a vacant area of New Orleans durDynamite Steps ing the immediate wake of Katrina. Power generators were used to keep the studio running. Five years later, there’s Sub Pop nothing gripping about the process to record follow-up He’s the bomb Dynamite Steps, but it shows that band leader Greg Dulli can create impressive music in bad times and good. Coming off his pseudo-supergroup stint with Mark Lanegan as the Gutter Twins, Dulli’s skill with indie grooves and bleak soul has yet to fade. He also still sings like he doesn’t give a shit. Opener “Last Night in Town” has him reaching for the stars with his vocals and slightly missing, an off-key croon wonderfully juxtaposed with the electronic thump and pouncing piano. He’s a singer with emotion stitched to every note and it’s always a pleasure hearing him warble wherever he pleases or slink through another nicotine-stained seduction. There isn’t much that will surprise listeners, but the band is firmly in the pocket, moving between the phaser-fuzz of “Waves” to the sonorous Britpop of “Beginning of the End” to the rock hymnal “She Was Stolen.” But for a 50-minute record, some songs seem unfinished. There’s always the requisite verses and choruses, but even on the almost seven-minute title track it’s like the record is worried about overstaying its welcome. Hopefully this signals that the Twilight Singers have more material, and are planning a sooner-than-later follow-up to Dynamite Steps, rain or shine. —Shane Mehling The Twilight Singers

photo by sam holden

Phil Manley

Life Coach

Thrill Jockey

We would not say “delete that” Best known as a member of Trans Am and the Fucking Champs, composer, guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist, producer and engineer Phil Manley has never tried to keep his love of Krautrock secret— nor could he. The San Francisco-based 37-yearold’s affinity for the likes of Can and Neu! permeates his every involvement on one level or another. Life Coach marks the first time he’s given full rein to his passion. It’s a testimony to Manley’s depth and breadth that his completely self-made solo debut never seems quaint or contrived—even when he’s Krauting it up old-school, as on Kraftwerkian opener “FT2 Theme.” Still, the real payoff comes when he unleashes his inner soundtrack composer—which is often. “Commercial Potential” and “Lawrence KS” could earn a place in any sufficiently noir scene on melody alone. Like the subtle interplay between guitar and keyboards, the tracks’ perfectly tweaked sonic colors are pure gravy. —Rod Smith

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THE

reviews

Jessica Lea Mayfield

Tell Me

Nonesuch

Calm through the storm Well, this is a beguiling one—otherworldly, but definitely based in American roots music with an indie rock sense of adventure and a major label budget, Tell Me is a stunning piece of post-Americana. You can almost hear the empire crumbling under the weight of each piano strike, and feel the foundation of our civilization eroding with each guitar strum; yet none of the impending doom really seems to matter once you’re cocooned in Mayfield’s gorgeous voice. On songs like “Somewhere in Your Heart,” “Trouble” and the title track, Mayfield and band channel the classic Lisa Germano/Giant Sand collaboration OP8, if that under-recognized masterpiece had been produced by Peter Gabriel. Awash in reverb and delay, Tell Me’s subtle textures and astounding emotional depth make it the perfect album to drown out Nero’s fiddle. —Sean L. Maloney Mogwai

Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will Sub Pop

Someday, you may be ready Mogwai’s seventh studio album finds them paired with Paul Savage (Franz Ferdinand, the Twilight Sad) for the first time since Mogwai Young Team. Hardcore and the Glaswegian post-rock quintet’s ’97 debut inevitably share a few traits—the interlocking melodies and extreme dynamics underpinning most mostly-instrumental groups’ work, for starters. Still, evidence of band and producer’s growth abound. Though reproducing Mogwai’s crushing live presence in the studio is impossible, Savage adds extra texture whenever appropriate, as on sludge processional “Rano Pano.” Plus, the band largely eschew the slow ‘n’ stately strategies that help define so many entities they’ve influenced—as in everybody from Mono to Explosions in the Sky— in favor of (surprise!) momentum. On standout rocker “San Pedro,” they use ’60s tropes as a starting point much as Arctic Monkeys did on “Dangerous Animals,” offering enough sweetened earhole lube upfront to make the ensuing storm seem like a kiss. —Rod Smith

Outside

Go! Pop! Bang!

Ibid

N.E.E.T. Recordings/Interscope

Swagger like her Unlike her flamboyant, polarizing mentor M.I.A., Rye Rye—née 20-year-old Baltimorean Ryeisha Berrain—doesn’t go in for radical-chic provocation of agitprop noise; she breaks off hectoring, Gatlinggun rhymes about showing off and showing out. So, debut Go! Pop! Bang! proffers a fierce, acrobatic procession of you-just-got-served sass. On the Krump percussion clinic “Shake Twist Drop,” courtesy of the Neptunes, she acknowledges then blithely brushes off Tyga’s ungainly pick-up attempts: “I don’t know what you came to do / I came to work,” she shrugs, sweat flying, limbs akimbo. On “Sunshine,” Rye flouts doubledutch, sing-along ’tude; the cinderblock electro of “Hardcore Girls” extols the delights of being a dancefloor spectacle even as torrential rhymes batter the beat like Money Mayweather’s fists. “Shake It to the Ground” hits still harder while proving harder to pin down, a woozy, flurried delirium of curled-lip confidence and b-girl braggadocio so nonchalantly imperial—it’s like Lil Mama’s “Lip Gloss” to the three-hundredth power—that Rye comes across like a XX-chromosome 50 Cent in waiting: “I’ve got a bangin’-ass body that the boys can’t resist / That’s why all around town, I’m known as chocolate kiss,” she explains as if she’s doing us a favor, which she is. Rye’s indomitable, no-bullshit bluster is her battle armor; its shine is nothing short of intoxicating. —Raymond Cummings Social Distortion

Manimal Vinyl

Epitaph

They’re just like us As the primary singer-songwriter behind papercranes, Rain Phoenix has a lot to overcome in a record review. First, there’s the fact that she insists

side of the tracks. The band’s seventh album, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, feels like the culmination of all the tales the Orange County band has told over the past 20-something years. Songs like “California (Hustle & Flow),” “Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown” and “Diamond in the Rough” are imbued with the knowing wisdom only age and experience can afford. Musically, the old dogs flaunt new tricks: they get Stones-y with a backing choir of female soul singers and lots of vocal harmonizing, and peel off the kind of rousing, road-burned Americana punk that Kid Rock would give his left nut for. At times too hokey and nostalgic for its own good, Hard Times nonetheless portrays Social D as a band of veteran outlaws that will no doubt survive the next chapter. —Jeanne Fury

Tapes ’n Tapes

Rye Rye

papercranes

Let’s Make Babies in the Woods

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upon all lowercase letters in her band’s name. Then there are the inevitable but completely irrelevant mentions of her more famous brothers (whoops). And of course the almost-uncontrollable urge to refer to her as “Bonanza Jellybean,” her character from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. (She was awesome in that movie.) But we’ll be damned if Jellybean hasn’t done it. With a cast of storied fabulons that includes Hollywood character actors Flea (on bass and trumpet) and Dermot Mulroney (on cello), she’s crafted a sparse collection of rainy day chick-rock that manages to be both whinier than that of Alanis Morissette and more tedious than that of Ani DiFranco. The instrumentation is mostly tasteful, but the songs seem to be primarily about “feelings” and trying not to cry. Who could ask for less? —J. Bennett

Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

Same balls, same chains Social Distortion’s head honcho Mike Ness was always something of a neck-tattooed Mother Goose, spinning rockabilly yarns of kids born on the wrong

Yesterday’s news? In 2005, Tapes ’n Tapes set the then burgeoning blogosphere alight with their über-hyped debut, The Loon—a college rock record of the day, tailor-made for dorm-dwellers and their ever-deficient attention spans. Inevitably, a 2008 follow-up, Walk It Off, was met with a cold case of sophomore-slumpitude. Did Tapes ’n Tapes get a raw deal? Well, if it’s style you’re looking for, the band’s latest, Outside, doesn’t have a fresh skin to offer your iPod. But if you’re still in the market for their familiar arsenal of disjointed grooves, spaghetti western swings, immediately urgent hooks and whimsical takes on quarter-life woes, TNT keep on rockin’ in the first world. Between album opener “Badaboom”—a herky-jerky homage to the Cure’s “Close to Me”—and its closing lilting waltz, “Mighty Long,” Outside’s cuts alternate between yearning tension (“Nightfall,” “Desert Plane”) and the breezy release of bouncy pop ditties (“One in the World,” “People You Know”). —Adam Gold Telekinesis

12 Desperate Straight Lines Merge

Parallel universe Speaking of lines, the New Pornographers are a hell of a drug. Then again, so is Paul McCartney, and it was at Macca’s Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts where Seattle drummer and obvious Beatles fan Michael Benjamin Lerner (a.k.a. Telekinesis) started writing while studying audio recording. This egg carton contains 12 power-popping orbs full of the kind of bounce (“Gotta Get It Right Now”) and croon (“Patterns”) most closely associated with the Pornographers’ epics. But Lerner also has a thing for a fuzzy, post-punk bass lines (“Country Lane,” “I Got You”), and not since Teen


Beat’s Factory Records worship has one act figured out how to blend hooks and hypnosis so smoothly. He talks about being heartbroken, but desperation or no, the powerfully upbeat music couldn’t sell melancholia if it tried. Not that he is. —Joe Gross

Tennis

Cape Dory Fat Possum

They prefer grass The cheesecake album art recalls Roxy Music by way of the Cars’ Candy-O, and the sound of Cape Dory is equally suggestive: On “Marathon,” singer Alaina Moore sounds like a cross between Brenda Lee and Ronnie Spector. Cape Dory had its genesis in an eight-month sailing trip Moore and her husband Patrick Riley completed before cashing in the rest of their life savings on vintage Fender guitars and a Farfisa organ. The result is both a concept album about the pair’s adventures—“Marathon” highlights an evening spent listening to the Shirelles on the Florida coast—and a canny clarion call for an endless summer that echoes the naked arrangements of the Magnetic Fields (“You can play in the sun / On the sun-baked sand,” coos Moore on the title track). The unique narrative behind the album’s creation is impossible to ignore, but it’s how the story unfolds—through Riley’s elegant leads, finger snaps and endless sha-la-la-las—that gives Cape Dory its impressive emotional heft. —Nick Green Tristen

Charlatans at the Garden Gate American Myth

Potion in motion Part of a wave of sophisticated songwriting talent coming out of Nashville’s underground, Tristen channels lush ’60s pop and coy orchestration on her full-length debut Charlatans at the Garden Gate.

photo by dustin adams

The lead single, “Eager for Your Love,” is the perfect showcase for the young singer’s pure, playful voice; there’s maturity here, and real talent with melody. A lot of songs channel a nifty acoustic groove, or sly country accents—as with the honky tonk shuffle of “Matchstick Murder.” Then there’s the welcomed strangeness of “Doomsday,” the sultry throb of “Baby Drugs,” the swooning nostalgia of “Special Kind of Fear” and the sweet, vintage charms of “Battle of the Gods.” An impressively assured first effort, Charlatans is rife with zippy pop bliss—it’ll sound even better when spring rolls around. —Lee Stabert

Wire

Red Barked Tree Pink Flag

Iconoclasts from the past When Wire disbanded in 1979, the explanation for the split wasn’t that the group couldn’t work together anymore—they claimed to have simply run out of new ideas. Given the wildly different sounds of Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154, Wire were a band that not only had a lot to say, but were dead set on never repeating themselves. The band has since reformed twice, working their way through new wave, proto-techno and industrial music. Wire version 3.0 (sans guitarist Bruce Gilbert) marked the first time in the band’s 30-plus-year career that they were willing to revisit old sounds. With Red Barked Tree, the punk icons crystallize their original trilogy, making the connections between the short blasts of threechord rage and their eventual dark and brooding post-punk. Where the younger Wire might have cranked out these ideas in a surge of creativity, the elder Wire seems more methodical. Though the album’s lack of urgency might rob it of some of what made Wire’s more classic albums great, it’s solidly the fourthbest record they’ve ever made. —Matt Sullivan

Peter J Woods

Songs for Nothing After Music

Voter discontent There’s no way around it: since volume is life in noise-rock’s skewed paradigm, it follows that silence corresponds to danger. Given this logic, Milwaukee-based conceptual artist Peter J Woods might be one of the genre’s most dangerous practitioners. Silence—a monolithic, accusatory silence— is Woods’ molding clay; everything else, from bolts of scree to doomsday pianos to electronic snarls to the sound of tearing paper, is employed to drive home the fact that silence is, ultimately, all we have. Over the course of several prior solo albums, Woods refined his unique approach to silence, but with Songs for Nothing—a meditation on the futility of political action—he finally comes into his own. “Miles Traveled/Earth Beneath” splits the difference between Xasthur-ian vocal fury and whinnying violins before collapsing into a void that’s slowly but never entirely filled with intelligible cyborg hordes and grated blare; “Once Removed and Never the Same” reimagines Autechre’s interminable comb-tooth “Vi Scose Poise” as a metaphor for a civilization that’s simultaneously falling apart and going up in flames. —Raymond Cummings Young Prisms

Friends for Now Kanine

The way they see it The “slow plus feedback equals bliss” equation can be a useful one. Sometimes, though, you need to inject a little dread into things in order to keep them from falling dead asleep. Not that it always prevents that from happening, but it never hurts to be on your toes, however relatively speaking. The droning Californians of Young Prisms give their debut album some additional momentum by sequencing it to open slowly and then rev up. The title track opens Friends for Now with gradually rising guitar overlays and fogged-out voices, a kind of incantation that seems to announce that a seance is in session, but “If You Want To” picks things up—the drums kick into a Velvets shuffle and the guitars eventually billow into cloud-dust at the song’s climax, just like Stef Hodapp’s ghostly vocals. Terrain now defined, Young Prisms reel out a couple of surprises. The biggest and best comes on “Sugar,” whose “I-I-I’m still hi-i-igh” refrain is served first with glazed amniosis and then, after the beat shifts into third, as if being lovingly shaken out of Hodapp. The spooked-out overlapping vocals on “Feel Fine” could have come off My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything as much as the stinging, constant buzz of a guitar note could have from the Jesus & Mary Chain’s Psychocandy. If it sounds like the Young Prisms are still working out what they might contribute to the sound they love, they’re already showing some skill even at this underdeveloped stage. —Michaelangelo Matos

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Don’t Have a Cow Is Meat Murder on the Environment?

F

/

by Bernard Brown

ind an older hippie, someone who has been into sustainable

living since before it was hip. I’ll bet you that back on their bookshelf, maybe tucked behind a Moosewood Cookbook, you’ll find a yellowing, dog-eared copy of Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé. In 1971, this landmark polemic/cookbook laid out the core of the social justice and environmental case against meat: Animals are relatively inefficient at turning plant matter they eat into flesh, milk or eggs that we can eat. Thus we would have ample food for everyone on the planet if we stopped wasting so much grain and agricultural resources on raising livestock for the world’s wealthy. We’d also save water, soil, fuel, pollution and land (a.k.a. rainforest, prairie, wetlands).

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The logic applies to global warming. The more fuel you burn, the more CO2 you produce. Pasture and amber waves of feed crops generally store less carbon than the prairies, wetlands and forests they replace—particularly less than the Amazon rainforest, where deforestation is largely driven by cattle grazing and soy farming to produce livestock feed. And then there are the cow burps. Ruminants like cattle produce large quantities of methane as a natural part of their digestion process. Methane is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than CO2, so, the veg logic goes, the fewer cattle we have, the less global warming—another reason to tuck into the tempeh. More and more, though, environmentalists are starting to question the old line, taken up by vegans as well as our crunchy elders, that we should eat “lower on the food chain.” Could it be that the problem isn’t meat per se (or milk, or eggs), but how we grow it? Locavores, grass-fed ranchers and now English author Simon Fairlie in Meat: A Benign Extravagance are telling us the right meat can help the planet. Can we close this chapter of eco-asceticism with a big juicy, grass-fed burger, or should we stick to the tofu? A QUESTION OF RESTRAINT In 2006, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) wowed environmentalists and thrilled vegan advocates with a mammoth (408 pages of mind-numbing detail) report called Livestock’s Long Shadow (LLS). LLS catalogued the myriad ways that the global livestock sector is damaging the planet: everything from water pollution to biodiversity. What

really got everyone’s attention, though, was the now-famous 18 percent. LLS asserted that the global livestock sector can be blamed with 18 percent of global warming, a smidgen more than transportation’s 17 percent (the report did not recommend producing less meat, rather producing it more efficiently and focusing more on chickens and hogs, less resourceintensive than cattle). Others had already compared eating meat to driving, but LLS did it in comprehensive, incredibly thorough style. Fairlie’s Meat is the most comprehensive counterargument to LLS, but it’s not the first. The most prominent protests have come from the pastured-livestock

less CO2. They avoid the problems of concentrated manure management (Google “Hog Lagoon” next time you want to ruin your appetite), and she notes that there are promising new methods to reduce the methane that their cattle burp up. As for the rainforest, she claims that farmers like her “generally use less soy than industrial operations do, and those who do often grow their own, so there are no emissions from long-distance transport and zero chance their farms contributed to deforestation in the developing world.” Hahn Niman also lobs out the accusation that soy from the Amazon makes it into soy-based vegetarian foods. While this may be strictly true, the U.S. imports less

Can we close this chapter of ecoasceticism with a big juicy, grass-fed burger, or should we stick to the tofu? producers. The vast majority of the meat, eggs and milk products we consume come from industrial factory farms that bear no resemblance to the barnyards and greengrass pastures we remember from picture books, and as rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman put it in a New York Times op-ed, “You can reduce your contribution to carbon dioxide emissions by avoiding industriallyproduced meat and dairy products.” At first glance, her argument sounds about right. Hahn Niman claims that pasture-based systems use less energy than industrial operations, and so emit

than one percent of the soy we use, so the bulk of the soy we consume is from right here. In Europe and the U.K., however, soy is generally an overseas import. Fairlie rests much of his argument on manure, in particular that well-managed manure can take the place of mined or manufactured fertilizers. The fertility of the land occupies the most important sections of his book, in which he meticulously compares a livestock-based permaculture system with a vegan one utilizing “green manure”—nitrogen-fixing crops such as buckwheat—to maintain fertility. When 43


you take away artificially-produced fertilizers and fossil fuel power, the livestock-fueled system produces about as much food on about as much land as the vegan system. But what about those cow burps? Though he ultimately cedes the point on methane, Fairlie expresses considerable doubt that emissions from animals in traditional agriculture could really be a problem in the grand scheme of things. Indeed he waxes eloquent about the “soothing cadence of mastication, farts, belches and showers of piss” emanating from a flock of sheep. (This guy really loves livestock.) Hahn Niman essentially claims that deforestation isn’t her livestock’s problem. Fairlie goes one step further and contends that it isn’t anyone’s livestock’s problem. He writes that the FAO improperly counted the deforestation driven by ranching and soy cultivation—he discusses several reasons, but foremost that the land is cleared only once. Ranching and farming continue, so that the damage of deforestation is not an ongoing problem, just a one-off atrocity. He goes on to write that the complexity of the political and market forces driving deforestation makes it difficult to pin it on livestock at all. Emissions from clearing and burning rainforest should be in another column altogether.

Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie

[ Chelsea Green Publishing ]

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NUMBERS GAMES Here I throw a flag. Although some day we might run out of rainforest to chop down, we’re not there yet, and those emissions are still very much part of livestock production. And even though the causal chain from flesh to forest is complex, we should still err on the side of caution by including those emissions in the livestock column, particularly for the U.K. consumers Fairlie is addressing in his book. Hahn Niman’s position makes more sense on this side of the pond, and indeed Gidon Eshel, who coauthored a paper comparing going veg to driving a hybrid, rates livestock at about 10 percent of U.S. emissions. That said, other researchers make the counter-claim that the markets for soy, beef and other agricultural products are so internationally intertwined that it makes little difference where they’re grown and consumed. Fairlie does take a point away from Hahn Niman and gives it to the vegan team by doubting a claim

we see a lot from the pasture-based producers: that pasture stores carbon. When we look at grass, we see green blades reaching for the sky, but the tangled roots grubbing towards the earth are just as important. The claim is that happy, healthy grass, munched at just the right time (but not too much!) grows strong, deep roots that trap carbon in their tissues and around them as other organic matter. Fairlie notes that studies disagree on how much storage actually happens, and how long it takes for the soil to stop absorbing carbon as it reaches equilibrium. Moreover, this is a fragile storage system. It all evaporates if you plow it under or overgraze. Fairlie deserves a lot of credit for his system-scale comparison of livestock agriculture to its vegan alternatives, even if he is comparing two highly idealized systems. This kind of lifecycle analysis (LCA) is maddeningly complicated work. Let’s give you a sample headache: If you only feed cattle grass that they have to go out and graze themselves, you save CO2 that would have been emitted by industrial feed production (Hahn Niman’s point). These cattle eating grass and hay produce manure that emits less methane, but they actually burp up more methane per unit of forage/feed compared to the unhappy steers gorging on corn in a feedlot. Those grass-fed cattle grow more slowly, so you can multiply the daily cow burps of methane by the extra days each steer lives. Pastured cattle are often slaughtered at lower weights, though, so maybe subtract a few days. It goes on and on like this. Ultimately, Fairlie makes livestock work (if we accept his interpretation of deforestation and methane) by presenting a completely different vision of how we could grow food. Instead of vast fields of crops feeding livestock raised somewhere else, consider village-scale systems. We could rotate pasture and crop fields and use virtually no machines or fossil fuels. We wouldn’t need fertilizers mined or manufactured elsewhere, since we’d recycle all waste (sewage, manure, etc.) back into the fields. We’d all eat about half as much animal protein, and much of it would come from pigs and chickens eating food waste and byproducts. Cattle, sheep and goats would also graze areas not suitable for crops, and the oxen could provide labor. When you do the math for stuff we can actually buy (and few studies have), you can end up with some surprising results. A recent study compared feedlot beef to pastured beef in the Upper Midwest and, assuming the pasture was recently converted from crop land, the pastured beef ended up with a slightly better environmental impact. Assume the pasture has reached carbon equilibrium, and the advantage disappears. Either way, as the study authors put it, “none of the systems analyzed can be described as ecologically efficient relative to most other food production strategies.[1]”

[1] Pelletier, N., et al. Comparative life cycle environmental impacts of three beef production strategies in the Upper Midwestern United States. Agr. Syst. (2010), doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2010.03.009


cautious carnivore

Eat Less Bee f

Free-R

ange

n! io pt m su on C ct du ro P al m ni A e at er od M Pro-

e r u t s a P SOLVING INEQUALITIES Fairlie clearly favors traditional agriculture, and more broadly is an advocate for traditional farmers. This is his day job, assisting low-income people practicing small-scale agriculture in the U.K. This is heartwarming work, but his bias towards the traditional (Fairlie goes to the point of defending whaling, essentially claiming that cruelty is no reason to stop a traditional practice) weakens his argument. The farm of the future might not have fossil fuels, but it still might have industrial-scale tractors and combines, perhaps charged by solar and wind power. Moreover, like many of the pasturedlivestock advocates, Fairlie is impossibly optimistic about the potential environmental impact of traditional methods of feeding ourselves. The fact that one can graze cattle and raise hogs without necessarily causing erosion and water pollution doesn’t mean that everyone will resist the temptation to overstock or let the cattle graze down to the water. Even the Pennsylvania Dutch can overdo traditional agriculture; their livestock practices contribute much of the water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The cattle whose overgrazing contributed to the Dust Bowl would be considered “grass-fed.” As historian James McWilliams, who

I

Meat

(But I try to eat it only occasionally.)

wrote Just Food about sustainable agriculture, put it in a recent conversation, “Often it can be a false choice. Rather than try to split hairs, it is so much easier not to eat it.” McWilliams started off as an average meat eater in the heart-of-barbeque Texas. “I started to do research five years ago, and within a few weeks of scratching the surface, I backed away from beef and chicken. A few weeks later, as I started to explore the impact of supposedly environmentally-friendly meat, I was moved enough to make it simple and cut out meat altogether.” So what should you do? Will that burger destroy the planet? Should you go vegan? Maybe take a cue from your response to other forms of resource- and pollutionintensive consumption. How about paper? It’s hard to justify cutting down a tree for the sake of a memo (let alone wiping your ass), but we still do. That said, we do it a lot less by reducing, reusing and recycling. Don’t let me stop you from going all the way, but we can make a huge environmental impact by shifting strongly towards a more plant-based diet even if we don’t go cold-tofurkey ( though it’s worth pointing out that highly-processing veg food can erase any benefits compared to more-ef-

ficient animal products such as poultry). In other words, even if the environmental arguments that vegan advocates generally make are valid, they don’t necessarily take us all the way to veganism. “Moderate Animal Product Consumption!” doesn’t look good on a bumper sticker, but it is more powerful than eating pastured livestock or even eating local. Of course, the same goes for eating your leftovers. In this country we waste almost half of our food, most of it at the consumer level. That’s another way of saying that a big chunk of the resources and pollution involved in agriculture are completely wasted because we forget about the lasagna in the back of the fridge before it grows a beard. The cost savings from eating a more plant-based diet might help the non-vegan eater reach a harmonious conclusion. You may have noticed that the more ethical qualifiers we add to our meat, fish (seafood is its own environmental disaster), cheese or eggs, the more they cost. The veg option, however, is almost always the cheapest thing on the menu. So, keep going to the farmers’ market or Whole Foods for the animal products you do eat, but the lower you eat on the food chain, the more money you’ll have for the rest of it. 45


/movies

* Directors often get

all the credit when it comes to great films, and great TV shows are often seen as ensemble pieces. But what about the actors who help elevate a flick to classic status, or the unsung stars who take a show to the next level? Each month, Love Your Work looks at the actors who rescued a project from failure or added that extra layer of awesomeness.

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Love Your Work*

John Noble as Walter Bishop/“Walternate” on Fringe / by joe gross

I

t’s not exactly news that, historically, science fiction and

they were the exception to every rule. Noble was born in ’48, Jackson and Torv in ’78—the math works perfectly. Even as Walter gets lost taking the bus or loses his temper, Peter is torn. For Peter, Walter’s career of arrogant acid-fueled experiments brought his son little but misery and abandonment. Then there’s the brilliant detail that (spoilers, folks) Walter stole the other dimension’s version of Peter after this earth’s Peter died. (Talk about Boomer entitlement!) Peter’s options are death, which happened to him in this dimension, or not really existing except at the will of his father. While Fringe is ostensibly a sci-fi And then the game changed at the end thriller, those first few seasons were really about a thirty-something son taking of season two, in which we meet “Waltercare of his increasingly-addled Boomer nate.” This is the Walter Bishop of the other dimension. The Walter Bishop whose father, about the ramifications of Boomer indulgence on the younger generation, an son was stolen by “our” Walter. In grief and idea that Noble manages to embody with rage, he has become a de facto dictator, a cold and calculating defense secretary subtlety and grace. Take, for example, this determined to destroy our world. Where argument, from the show’s February 2010 “winter finale.” FBI agent Olivia Dunham our Walter putters around in sweaters and (Anna Torv) has just found out that she takes orders, Walternate wears sharp suits and commands. He sits at his stylish headwas experimented on as a child by Walquarters on Liberty Island (!), the Statue of ter. She looks pained, as if sifting through Liberty shining in gold or brass, and wages memories she can barely access. war on our dimension. Our Fringe division “We gave you the ability!” says Walter, is a shabby crew of three or four, theirs is a as if trying to argue an unwinnable case. “Illegal drug trials on children; don’t paramilitary force. The stunning part is how well make that sound like charity Noble sells this version of the work,” Peter says. man, and how completely it is “We were trying to make you indeed the same man, not Noble more than you were!” Walter says playing two different characlater, as if this is a justification. ters. This is Walter Bishop mi“I was a defenseless child!” Olnus the guilt, plus the rage. This ivia screams. is the Boomer entitlement as Now, Fringe is a fantasy show; imagined by its most draconian Walter is talking about granting far right. Our Walter is chaotic Olivia the ability to see an alterFringe: The good, theirs is lawful neutral, if nate universe. But he might as Complete Third not lawful evil. Ours is Jerry Garwell be talking about his genera- Season is on DVD cia, theirs is Dick Cheney. Noble tion’s insistence that every breath available now from Warner is both, completely. they took changed the world, that Home Video.

fantasy television don’t get much respect from the awardsindustrial complex. For a spell, it looked like this was changing. The X-Files did OK and Lost won a bunch of Emmys and other awards for generally being the most psychedelic show on television. Battlestar Galactica—which was, for a while there, by far the best thing on television—did fine in genre/niche awards (the Hugo! the Saturn!), but was all but ignored by Emmy for anything other than effects. Meanwhile, Tricia Helfer is straight killing it as the Cylon Six, and playing three or four other copies, all very different characters. For shame. This insanity is happening again over at Fringe. Let’s be plain: The fact that John Noble has not been nominated for an Emmy as deranged scientist Walter Bishop is a crime of taste for which everyone involved will be deeply embarrassed one day. In the show’s shaky first season, the Australian actor was the only one who seemed to have a rock-solid take on his character. First seen being liberated from the asylum by his son Peter (Joshua Jackson, also better than anyone thought possible), Walter Bishop is a man in his 60s. He looks fragile, somewhere between deep intelligence and disconnection. His mind has been ravaged by drug use and 17 years in a mental hospital, where he was put after a lab accident killed an assistant. Eventually, it comes out that Bishop spent much of his pre-hospital years gobbling acid until he found a parallel universe. In that first season, Noble started off playing what first seemed like your basic mad scientist role. He even had a strange accent, an Australian doing Boston Brahmin mixed with the vaguely European cast of a man who has traveled the world. But his has become a nuanced, powerful performance as the character has become more complicated by the week.

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/movies

Brain Food

When there’s no more room in remake hell, The Walking Dead will rule TV / by Sean L. Maloney

B

raaaaaaains! And in a television writer’s room no less! While AMC has cer-

tainly had success with boundary-pushing shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and the criminally underrated spy drama Rubicon, one hardly could have considered that The Walking Dead—a show about a scrappy group of survivors in a zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic world—to be their biggest win yet. Sure, the undead have seen a resurgence over the last decade—frequently in a bastardized high-speed version of the traditional ghoul-type, still more tolerable than the whole sparkly vampire thing—but rarely do they crawl out of their shallow critical grave to feast on the noggins of so many viewers. Most of the show’s success is rooted in its format (one story arc over six episodes, which allows for more depth than the nonstop shocks we expect from our 90-minute zombie narratives), the source material (Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charles Adlard’s Eisner-award winning comics of the same name) and the guidance of the show’s creator, threetime Oscar nominee Frank Darabont. Darabont— whose credits include directing the film versions of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and writing, um, Nightmare on Elm Street 3:Dream Warriors—has an uncanny knack for drawing out the humanity from underneath the horror and hocus pocus of his subject matter. We’re talking about a knack that is only rivaled by masters like George Romero in his original Deadtrilogy days (let’s just pretend that Diary of the Dead never happened) and David Cronenberg at his headexploding, Videodrome-ing best. Decapitations and 48

The Walking Dead: Season One arrives March 8 from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

splattered innards are still de rigueur—this is a horror series after all—but they function as a way of moving, rather than subsuming, action. Every bullet to the brain of an undead ghoul is a jumping-off point for deeper character development, an exploration of broader emotions than just pure, primal fear. Yes, the show is called The Walking Dead, but its true focus—the real star of the series—is the varied, emotional responses of its human characters. While Darabont’s guidance can’t be undersold, the series would have been nothing without such a stellar cast. Their acting elevates the characters beyond the cardboard cutouts and genre tropes fans have come to expect—plain and simple. Lead actor Andrew Lincoln, as Deputy Rick Grimes, who spent the zombie outbreak in a coma only to awaken to a world he doesn’t recognize, gives a complicated and endearing performance as a hero driven as much by duty as confusion and fear. Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Lincoln’s wife Lori, toes a line between maternal and mortal that makes every Lifetime mom-inperil made-for-TV movie look like a Benny Hill sketch. Augmented by veteran character actors like Laurie Holden, Jeffery DeMunn and Michael Rooker, and working with such outstanding material, The Walking Dead delivers the best shows on television. And plenty of brains. It’s still about zombies after all.


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IN STORES

2/8

DESTROYER

CUT COPY

DAVID LOWERY

KAPUTT

ZONOSCOPE

LET FREEDOM REIGN

THE SCRIPT

MOTORHEAD

IRON & WINE

SCIENCE AND FAITH

THE WORLD IS YOURS

KISS EACH OTHER CLEAN

IN STORES

2/8

Produced By

Grammy

JACK

NOMINEE

WHITE

KATY PERRY

SICK PUPPIES

WANDA JACKSON

TEENAGE DREAM

TRI-POLAR

THE PARTY AIN’T OVER

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What Were We Saying? If memory serves, Christopher Nolan’s breakthrough Memento still rules / by Sean L. Maloney

O

kay, so it all starts off with a dream. But it’s really a dream within a

dream, about one of the world’s biggest comic book franchises and a wellknown actor with a little pill problem. Okay, it’s a big pill problem. He’s dead. Is it too late for a spoiler alert? Sorry. Anyway, there’s these two magicians and a girl, and, for some odd reason, David Bowie pretending to be Nikola Tesla, and somebody dies and somebody disappears, and it’s all very Victorian, but not a lot of people were really paying attention.

But the superhero comes back—he’s, like, superpissed and it sounds like he’s been gargling rocks— and tries to wrestle his reputation away from the evil clutches of Joel Schumacher’s rubber nipples. Then shit gets super-weird and Al Pacino starts chasing Robin Williams across the Alaskan Tundra. Then someone starts shaking a Polaroid, the picture slides back into the camera, blood drips up the wall and shells jump back into a gun. A lot has happened in the 10 years since the opening sequence of Christopher Nolan’s sophomore film Memento—the Polaroid, the blood, the bullets— first hit screens. No one could have predicted that by decade’s end he would be a household name and one of the reigning kings of the box office, cranking out blockbusters that would infiltrate our collective psyche and inspire a seemingly endless stream of critiques, tributes, parodies, throw pillows and poorly-executed political Photoshopping. When Memento hit, with its non-linear narrative about an insurance investigator (Guy Pearce) with short-term memory loss, it was exactly the opposite of what Hollywood was pumping out. Seriously, we’re talking about the year that Wild Wild West and The Phantom Menace came out. Mission: Impossible 50

cowbell

II was the highest grossing movie of the year, and for some odd reason the Oscar-voting knuckleheads thought American Beauty was the Best Picture. In Y2K, Hollywood was a vapid wasteland of halfbaked brianfarts, and we would never have thought that the brilliant mind behind Memento would get invited into the clubhouse. But 10 years later it’s easy to see why Hollywood would hand over the checkbook and the keys to the Bat-Beamer: Memento is still a compelling mystery, built from the ground up with the most minimal and eloquent ingredients, unfurling like no film before it or since. Augmented by two of the finest character actors of this or any other generation—Joe Pantoliano and Stephen Tobolowsky—and foiled by Carrie-Anne Moss, Guy Pearce creates one the most enigmatic protagonists in cinematic history, and Nolan creates a high watermark for an entire medium.

Memento (10th Anniversary Edition) will be available on Bluray February 22 from Lions Gate.


beards are cool Music from Iron & Wine,

on sale this month for $9.99 or less

The Creek Drank the Cradle

The Shepherd’s Dog

Our Endless Numbered Days

Around The Well

Titles and prices vary by store. More music from bearded guys $9.99 or less every day at indie record stores. COWBELL

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/movies

Celluloid Corral

This month’s best, worst, weirdest and wildest in home video entertainment by andrew bonazelli

The Social Network It’s official: David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin can make anything interesting. Does anybody remember when this project was announced and the chorus of “Who the hell would go see a Facebook movie?” was so universal that TSN looked like a potential Razzie sweeper? Frankly, we’re still kinda stunned that people left the house for this deposition-a-thon, not because it was boring or stilted— quite the contrary—but because Fincher’s rare turds (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Panic Room) routinely outgross his more interesting work (The Game, Zodiac). Everything went right here, especially the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook co-founder (the “co-” element supplying most of the drama) Mark Zuckerberg, a young man of otherworldly focus and vision. Despite thick dramatization from Sorkin—Zuckerberg is hardly the sexless Vulcan he’s portrayed as here—The Social Network earns its hype via subtle meditations on the many facets of friendship. In stores now from Sony.

Let Me In If you want intelligent, evocative horror, it’s unlikely that you’ll find it in stateside—the industry appears more than a little confused in this nebulous post-torture porn/ “reimagining” era. A potent antidote reared its head in the form of 2008 Swedish sensation Let the Right One In, a film of constant unsettling chill, stark and shocking imagery, and easily identifiable pathos regarding a lonely, bullied child and his mysterious neighbor. Bad source material for an American remake: cult enough to piss off the few cool enough to see the original, and off-putting enough that even a faithful re-creation would probably equal box office poison, which is exactly what happened here. Great casting helped what little Let Me In had to offer: Hit Girl Chloë Moretz as Abby and Road standout Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen. As for the adaptation, it’s closer to LTROI than the far more risqué source novel, a predictable disappointment. Cloverfield helmsman Matt Reeves had fine intentions in introducing this to American audiences, but ultimately the whole exercise was Psycho-pointless. Learn to read subtitles, people— Christ. In stores February 1 from Anchor Bay. 52

cowbell

Catfish Trailer of the year, which is how we’ll prefer to remember it. This much is revealed, so no pertinent spoilers ahead: a hipster photographer embarks upon an online romance with a smoking hot singer-songwriter, the whole e-fair documented by his snickering buddies. Ultimately, they decide to show up unannounced at her farm. The driveway is desolate, impossibly long, beset with crunchy gravel. The grounds are dimly lit. The photographer gets out and slowly approaches the windows of an extremely dark garage, and… title card! Holy shit, right? Looks like The Big Twist will usher in a handheld horror mindfuck in the spirit of the first Blair Witch Project. Well, there’s a twist all right, and it’s simultaneously not at all what fans of the trailer anticipated, yet simultaneously exactly what they expected after enduring the first hour of Catfish. And then pretty much everyone found themselves leaving the theater talking about a very different form of exploitation than they thought they were originally in for. Perhaps the most infuriating movie of the year, which makes the postmortem so entertaining. In stores now from Universal.


Dances With Wolves

(20th Anniversary Blu-ray) Oscar dorks will never forgive this movie for pistol-whipping GoodFellas in 1990, but enough of the revisionist carping that Kevin Costner’s entire back catalogue sucks. While he has a limited skill set, to say the least, he excels at this sort of modest, open-minded everyman role—in this case a formerly-suicidal Union soldier who’s rewarded for a misinterpreted act of bravery with a post on the frontier. His only neighbors are a likewise curious Sioux tribe, and his gradual assimilation into their culture is natural and unforced, unlike the garish Avatar, which aped all of DWW’s notes but none of its grace. Sure, there are clunky translations, and the director’s cut is inexplicably about as long as fucking Once Upon a Time in America, but this touching, insightful epic was far from mere white guilt Oscar bait. In stores now from MGM.

Buried We’re big fans of low-low-low-budget films that utilize minimalist single locations. Cube and Tape did it right in the ’90s, 12 Angry Men is the all-time classic (okay, there are a few exterior shots—sue us). Of course, sometimes Hollywood gives this conceit a whirl, and instead of sustained suffocating tension, you get Phone Booth. While Buried premiered at Sundance, it did star Ryan Reynolds, who is as nondescript a non-personality as Tinseltown has given us in quite some time. The premise is that RR is buried alive in a coffin somewhere in Iraq, given only a cell phone, lighter, flask, flashlight, knife and glow sticks (useful for humming Prodigy tunes). The singular horror of being buried alive has already been covered in Kill Bill and The Vanishing, albeit not for the duration of an entire film, and while Reynolds actually tries to act for once, Buried is more gimmick than compelling narrative. In stores now from Lionsgate.

Stone Ed Norton is starting to rival Kevin Spacey in the what-the-hell-happened category. Primal Fear, American History X, Fight Club, Rounders and The People vs Larry Flynt doesn’t rival Stone co-star De Niro’s early filmography, but it’s pretty damn formidable. The notoriously “difficult” actor exhibited an impressive amount of range and passion before a series of awful choices and vanity projects essentially rendered him irrelevant. Here, Norton goes back to Primal Fear territory as a dreadlocked con who very likely isn’t what he appears to be. He sics über-sexed wife Milla Jovovich on Jesus freak parole officer De Niro to grease the wheels (so to speak) for an early release, and a modestly intriguing triangle of deception and lust ensues. Not exactly the big comeback Norton fans have been waiting for, but passable enough. In stores now from Anchor Bay.

Machete How many times have you left the theater and remarked to your friends how it would be so cool if such-and-such character actor finally got a leading role? Robert Rodriguez is rad enough to actually make that sort of shit happen, with AARP-aged Mexican-American heavy Danny Trejo as the beneficiary in Machete. As you’re probably aware, this is the first trailer from Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse—shit, possibly ever—to be adapted into a feature film. (Eli Roth is allegedly punching up a script for Thanksgiving, which should at least temporarily distract him from another Hostel.) This may seem strange given that Grindhouse bombed at the box office, but “Rebel Without a Crew” Rodriguez is beloved for bringing his flicks in at a pittance of most action blockbusters’ budgets. The story is deliriously, delightfully exploitative—practically every white character is a vile, unrepentant racist asshole and every character of color is a burgeoning freedom fighter nobly struggling to make ends meet—and the stunt casting of Lindsay Lohan and Steven Seagal is deeply entertaining. If you laughed your ass off at the ludicrous kitchen-sinkery of From Dusk Till Dawn, Planet Terror, Desperado or even Once Upon a Time in Mexico, this is probably the easiest 90 minutes you’ll spend in front of the tube all year. In stores now from 20th Century Fox.

Saw: The Final Chapter For the last zillion Halloweens, one of these things has come out to a $30 mil opening weekend. Now it’s over. The first one was god-awful, the sets cheaply rendered and the acting howlingly bad, with Cary Elwes and Danny Glover in particular in career self-destruct mode. The second one was a marginal improvement, with an actually somewhat well-conceived twist. The last, we don’t know, 40, have basically been retreads, flogging Tobin Bell’s ridiculous kill-random-morons-to-make-them-better-appreciatetheir-lives dogma, executed in later films by his weirdo disciples. Like we said before: now it’s over. Except in 3D. In stores now from Lionsgate.

Paranormal Activity 2 Remember that goofy link that went around a few years ago with a static videocamera image of something blasé, then BOOM, some idiot in a devil mask popped into the foreground and gave multiple geriatric women coronaries? That’s this entire movie, which you’re paying $12 for the privilege to experience. The only genius lies in these figures culled from Wikipedia. Budget: $3,000,000. Gross revenue: $169,226,966. In stores February 8 from Paramount.

cowbell

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/movies/new_releases

FEBRUARY 1

10 11 Harrowhouse 2012 and the Shift: Prophesy, Challenge and Blessing Abba: Thank You for the Music Abbott and Costello Show: Who’s on First Airwolf: Season Four America at War Best of Soul Train, Vol. 2 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 Big Momma’s House/Big Momma’s House 2 Birthday Gift Blue Murder Complete Collection Bonanza Vol. 1 Bonded by Blood Bordertown 2 Bordertown Vol. 1 Bullshot Butch & Sundance: The Early Days/ Death Hunt Bynum Carole King: Intimate Performance Chain Letter Client List Clifford the Big Red Dog: Best Buddies Cold Dog Soup Conviction Culinary Horizon: Tuscany Discovering Hamlet Door County: Traditions of a Rugged Pioneer Past Drug Wars Elena Undone Essence Music Festival Vol. 3 Everyday Black Man Farm Girl in New York First Encampment Flockton Flyer: Season One Flyabout Forgotten Pills Garrow’s Law: Series 1 Giulia Doesn’t Date at Night Gold Gong: At Montserrat Hatchet II Hercule Poirot Coffet 7 Hit Action Pack Hit Friend Pack Ikki Tousen: Premium Box Initial D: Second Stage James Taylor: Live in Germany 1986 Kings of Rock ‘N’ Roll Legends in Concert Leonard Cohen: Early Years Let Me In Linkin Park: Lost in Translation Long Good Friday Lorna the Exorcist Love and Honour Lucky Lady Marillion: Live From Cadogan Hall Mark Lowry: Unplugged and Unplanned Matisyahu: Live at Stubbs Vol. II Mean Girls 2 Mona Lisa Monsters Never Let Me Go NFL: Top 10 NFL’s Greatest Players Night Catches Us Nirvana: Teen Spirits North Over Washington D.C.

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Patti Stanger: Married in a Year Pink Floyd: Reflections & Echos Pokemon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life Power of Words Precode Hollywood Double Feature: Hell Harbor/Jungle Bride Pregnancy Pact Quantum Apocalypse Red River Renaissance: Kings and Queens Rhineland Ronald Reagan: An American Journey Saturday Night Live: Best of Chris Farley Saturday Night Live: Best of John Belushi Sesame Street: Silly Storytime – Rapunzel Shipping Single-Handed: Set 1 Six Feet Under: Wake the Night Skin Sleey Eyes of Death: Collector’s Set Vol. 2 Speed of Life Swishbucklers TCM Greatest Classic Films: Legends – Lassie TCM Greatest Classic Legends Collection: Errol Flynn TCM Greatest Classic Legends Collection: Jean Harlow TCM Greatest Classic Legends Collection: John Ford Westerns Thoreau’s Walden Tillman Story Time Bandits UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida Virus X War Classics: Crusade in the Pacific Welcome to the Rileys Withnail and I Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop You Stupid Man You’re Under Arrest: Fast & Furious Season 2 FEBRUARY 8

1 A Minute 100 Years That Shook the World 1950s: A Year to Remember Alfred Hitchcock: The Master of the Macabre Alice in Murderland All Aboard! Great American Train Journeys America, America American Civil War American Experience: Dinosaur Wars American Experience: Panama Canal America’s Classic Hero Amira Mor: Behind the Veil Angel Eyes Arctic Mission: The Great Adventure Azorian: The Raising of the K-129 B-52’s: Live Germany 1983 Bad Day to Go Fishing Bamboo Bears: Forest Adventure Barbie: Fairytopia Barney: Shapes and Colors All Around Beautiful Flowers & Gardens Beauty & The Briefcase Best of Bonanza Billy Gardell: Halftime Blood Pledge Bringing Up Baby Bruce Bruce: Losin’ It – Live From Boston Bruce Lee: Box Caillou Saves Water & Other Adventures Cake Calling Care Bears to the Rescue Carole King: Live in London 1975

feb 1 Mean Girls 2

Directed by Melanie Mayron Neither the director, writer or principal cast of the wellreceived original (aside from Tim Meadows… sigh) are back for this DTV affair, which is always a sign of the utmost quality. If you were, like, really interested, you probably caught the premiere via ABC Family’s “Mean Girls Double Feature” on January 23. Celtic Voyage: A Fascinating Journey Through Ireland Century of Flight: 100 Years of Aviation Chrome Shelled Regios Part Two Chrome Shelled Regios, Part One Chrono Crusade: The Complete Series Chuggington: Let’s Ride the Rails Classic Educational Shorts Vol. 3: Safe… Not Sorry Classic Educational Shorts Vol. 4: The Celluloid Salesman Code Geass Leouch of the Rebellion: The Complete First Season Columbo Mystery Movie Collection 1991-1993 Curious George: A Bike Ride Adventure Deep Blue Sea: The Best of Undersea Explorer Dirty Pair: The Original TV Series Part 2 Doctor Who Doctor Who: The Mutants Double Wedding Down for Life Dragonball: 4 Movie Pack Drop Dead Gorgeous Easter Parade Enchanted Enter the Dragon Eyeshield 21: Collection 4 Eyewitness to Jesus Farewell Fire Place/Aquarium Five Corners FLickan For Colored Girls Four Seasons French Gigolo Frontline: Facing Death Frontline: The Confessions Gina Yashere: Skinny Bitch Great Battles of WW2 Great Railways: The Age of Steam Gregorian Vol. 1; Video Anthology Group Marriage Guardian: The Complete Series

Guardian: The Final Season Hallmark Hall of Fame: Kiss Me, Kate Heroes of WW2 High Lane Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows Hollywood Classics: The Golden Age of the Silver Screen Hollywood Westerns Horror Movies: Box I Spit on Your Grave (1978)( I Spit on Your Grave (2010) I Spit on Your Naked Corpse Ibiza 2011 It’s Kind of a Funny Story Kalamity Killers of the Deep Kinks: Waterloo Sunset – The Singles Collection Last Play at Shea Legends of the Silver Screen: The Biographies Collection Life As We Know It Live a Little Steal a Lot Loba Mafia: Coming to America Marines in the Pacific Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie’s Masquerade Mission Discovery Monte Carlo Rallies 1958-65 My Soul to Take Nahual Nancy Lamott: The Don’t Tell Mama Shows Nature’s Palette Nick Jr. Favorites: Sisters and Brothers Nora’s Hair Salon 3: Shear Disaster Nuclear Blast Clips Vol. 1 Nudes of the World: Skin Deep Ocean Wonders Ominous Ong Bak 3 Only Love Pacific Battlefront: Marines in the Pacific Pacific Warriors: Hell to Victory Paranormal Activity 2 Pleasantville Political Promise Private Function Project Runway: The Complete Eighth Season Real Cannibal Holocaust Rebel Without a Cause Refuge Repo Chick Right Stuff Riot River Wild Rock the Paint Role/Play Romantics Ruta TJ-NY Samantha Brown’s Asia Savage Holocaust Secrets of the Dead: Lost Ships of Rome See You in September Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Space Jam Speed-Dating Still Walking Strangers on a Train Sudden Death Super Hero Squad Show Vol. 3 Tamara Drewe Thesis Tom and Jerry Vol. 2: Fur Flying Adventures Trapped: Haitian Nights Ultimate Jordan Unmade Beds Victorio Vietnam: The Battles/The Courage Vietnam: War in the Jungle When I Rise Wild Target Women of Brewster Place


feb 22 Due Date

Directed by Todd Phillips One would think the alliance of Hangover director Phillips with suddenly-hot-again Robert Downey Jr. and way-too-ubiquitous Zach Galifianakis would equal box office gold. Instead, Due Date was a mere blip on the frat-com radar. America just wasn’t ready to see Planes Trains and Automobiles “reimagined,” we guess. Wusa WW2: Battlefront WWE: Biggest Knuckleheads Year of the Fish You Again Zen Garden FEBRUARY 15

Abbott & Costello Alan Parsons: The Art & Science of Sound Recording Andy Griffith Show Armida Around the World in 80 Days (1989( At the Sinatra Club Beethoven’s Big Break Best of C.O.P.S.: The Animated Series Best of Soul Train Bill Moyers’ World of Ideas: Writers Bill Moyers: In Search of the Constitution Biloxi Blues Boxer Brat Pack Movies and Music Collection Brick CB4 Charles Bronson Citizen’s Rule: Symbols of America Classic Adventures Collection Vol. 4: Jason and the Argonauts/ Merlin Daylight Robbery Death Tube 3 Diana Rigg at the BBC Dirty Movie Disconnect Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol Drive-By Truckers: Secret to a Happy Ending Dungeons & Dragons/Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God Evan Almighty Felicity: An American Girl Adventure

Firesign Theatre: Duke of Madness Motors Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season Vol. 2 Game of Death Gangland Glorious 39 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete First Season Hit Favorites: Jump Into Spring Hoodwinked Jackson Sisters: I’ve Tried Jesus Jeff Bates: One Day Closer Live Johnny Test: Super Smarty Pants Johnny Test: The Complete First and Second Seasons Junior Ken Hensley: Blood on the Highway Kiss Before Dying Kiss of Chaos Kiss the Bride Kites Lady Hermit Land Before Time Chomper Double Feature Land Before Time: 2 Big Dino-riffic Adventures Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu Lemmy: 49 Percent Motherfucker 51 Percent Son of a Bitch Love at First Kill Mercury Rising Middle Men Murphy’s Law Series 3 Music From Another Room/ Autumn in New York My Blog: Internet Bullies?! (Just a Click Away) Needless: Collection 1 November Son One Night at McCool’s Paddington Bear: Marmalade Madness Paddington Bear: The Complete Classic Series Paper Paradise Alley Paroled Promised Lands Queen’s Blade: Complete Series Real McCoy Renee Fleming: Portrait of St. Petersburg Respire Revolution Rich Little Show: Complete Series Rock Symphonies Rodney Perry: Nothing but the Truth Sabrina: The Animated Series: A Touch of Magic Screwed Sgt. Frog: Season One Shooting April Skulls Spin City: The Complete Fourth Season Stag Night Storm Warriors Sudden Death Sugarland Express Summer Wars Taggart: Cold Blood Set Taggart: Complete Original Series Taggart: Death Call Set Taggart: Evil Eye Set Taggart: Killer Set Taggart: Root of Evil Set Terrorism in the UK: The 4th Bomb Time for Drunken Horses TNA Wrestling: Turning Point 2010/ Final Resolution 2010 Top Gear: The Complete Season 14 Top Gear: The Complete Season 15 Traffic: The Miniseries Understanding Slavery in America: Abraham Lincoln Understanding the Constitution: Legislative Branch Unstoppable Untold Secrets of the Civil War

Virus Waiting for Superman War Web of Death White Lion Wicked Beats Wiggles: Let’s Eat William S. Burroughs: A Man Within Wishbone Women Without Men You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger FEBRUARY 22

2011 Cotton Bowl: LSU vs. Texas A&M 2011 National Championship: Oregon vs. Auburn 2011 Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Stanford 2011 Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU 2011 Sugar Bowl: OSU vs. Arkansas 2011 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: OU vs. UConn 4192: The Crowning of the Hit King 7th Hunt After the Wall: A World United Agatha Christie Alien vs. Ninja All-Star Superman Andre Previn: Kindness of Strangers – Portrait by Tony Palmer Anywhere USA Armless Avril Lavigne: Life of a Rock Pop Star Unauthorized Barbarossa Being/Cop Killers Big Speech Birdemic Black Rodeo Blaze of Glory Bon Jovi: DVD Collector’s Box Boudicca British Metal British Rail Journeys: North Wales – Chester to Aberystwyth Brutal Beauty: Tales of the Rose City Rollers Call Me Salome Cam Girl Carl Palmer: Drum Solos Carmo, Hit the Road Caution: Show Dogs Celtic Thunder: Heritage Change of Plans Changi Chautauqua: An American Narrative Chyornaya Molniya Climate of Change Clover Clowns Constant Sorrow Cop and Badman Count Basie: Then as Now, Count’s the King Crack #10: Midwest Xplosion Crack #9: New York Meets Philly Crazy Like a Fox Crying Freeman: The Complete Collection Cyro Baptista: Solos – The Jazz Sessions Darling Buds of May Depeche: Rewind – 30 Years at the Edge Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Larry “Wild Man” Fischer Dewey Redman: Dewey Time – An American Jazz Life Discreet Douglas MacArthur: Return to Corregidor – One Man Show Due Date Duke Ellington: Reminiscing in Tempo Duplicity E. Grieg: What Price Immortality Eckhart Tolle: Creating a New Earth Eeddie Griffin: You Can Tell ‘Em I Said It

Eyes of the Mothman Fernando Di Lio Crime Collection Finding God: The Enlightenment Fish Tank FLCL: Complete Fourth World War French Art of Seduction Fresh Fields: Set 1 Ga-Rei Zero: The Complete Series Get Low Ghost Month Gintama: Collection 4 Glenn the Flying Robot Goatherd Great White: Live and Raw Guild: Season 4 Have Gun, Will Travel: The Fifth Season Vol. 2 Heaven 17: Live at Scala, London Histories of the Holocaust: Dauchau – State Within a State Hot Metal How to Score With Girls/White Rat Huge: The Complete Series I Am Alive; Surviving the Andes Plane Crash Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Four Ikue Mori: Kibyoshi Independent Lens: The Longoria Affair Invader Zim: Operation Doom It’s a Long Way… Jeff Beck: Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul John Cage: One/Seven Talks About Cows Johnny Cash: The Man in Black Jonas Brothers: Journey Unauthorized Juan De Marcos/Afro Cuban All Stars: Absolutely Live Just Laugh Kartemquin Films Collection: The Early Years Vol. 2: 1969-1970 Killing Jar Kings of Leon: Iconic Unauthorized Kings of Pastry Last Train Home Last Winter Leaving Legacy Lickerish Quartet London in the Raw Luke and Lucy: The Texas Rangers Making the Crooked Straight Maroon 5: In One Life Time Unauthorized Massillon Megamind Memento Mesrine: L’Instinct de Mort Metropole Orkest: Live in Concert 2003 Midsummer Madness National Geographic: Border Wars Season Two Nature: Elsa’s Legacy – The Born Free Story New Tricks: Season Three Nurse Jackie Season 2 One Week Job Patrice O’Neal: Elephant in the Room Patriot Phantom of the Opera Pink Floyd; Whatever Happened to Pink Floyd? Pleasures of the Damned Psych: 9 Purple Sea Quest for Love Reggae Rap Vol. 3 Rising Stars Rites of Magick Road, Movie Robben Ford Trio: New Morning – The Paris Concert Revisited Room in Rome Running With Wolves See What I’m Saying: The Deaf

COWBELL

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Entertainers Documentary Senso Serpent’s Egg Sid the Science Kid: Sid’s Sing Along Soul in the Hole Stargazers Stars in Action: 2nd Anniversary Pt. 2 Stars in Action: 2ned Anniversary Pt. 2 Stieg Larsson Trilogy Stubborn as a Mule Sunny and Share Love You Suspicion Sweet Smell of Success Temptation of St. Tony Ten Inch Hero This Is What Democracy Looks Like Timmy Time: Timmy Steals the Show Tower of Power: 40th Anniversary Tree Safari: The Koa Connection Two in the Wave Tyler Perry’s House of Payne Vol. 6 United States vs. BMF Waiting for Hockney Water Waves Weeds: Season Six Where Were You, My Son? White Boy Rick: “The King Rat” Breaks His Silence WWE: Big Show – A Giant’s World Zapatista Zenith MARCH 1

2 Weeks in Hell Allman Brothers Band: Live at the Beacon Theatre Alonzo Bodden: Who’s Paying Attention? American Experience: Triangle Fire Angelina Ballerina: Ballet Dreams Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes Bambi Battle for the Atlantic Beautiful Life Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter/Little Bigfoot Blaze of Glory Bleeding Brenda Starr, Reporter Burlesque Cake Boss: Season Three Canterville Ghost Celtic Crossroads: World Fusion Central State: Asylum for the Insane Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice David Gray: Live From the Artists Den Desperate Escape Dinosaurs 3D: Giants of Patagonia Dr. Black and Mr. White Flipper: Season 1 Gaiam Portraits of Inspiring Lives: Bob Proctor Gaiam Portraits of Inspiring Lives: Marcia Wieder Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould Genshiken: Complete Collection Ghosts of Goldfield Harry Connick Jr. In Concert on Broadway Hollywood Safari If Tomorrow Comes Infinite Justice Just Before Nightfall Kaboom! Kids: Favorite Friends Kaboom!: Awesome Adventures Kiss My Blood Leave It to Beaver: Season Six

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Mado Manhunt Munecas De La Mafia Part 2 Murder Investigation Team: Series 1 My Blog: Dangers of Texting My Blog: Dealing With Bullies My Girlfriend’s Back My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Napoleon and Love NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins Greatest Games Vol. 2 Noah’s Castle: Complete Series Norman Conquests Pioneers of Television: Pioneers of Children’s Programs Pioneers of Television: Pioneers of Crime Dramas Pioneers of Television: Pioneers of Science Fiction Pioneers of Television: Pioneers of Westerns Reboot: Seasons 1 & 2 Road Trip Trilogy Robert Kennedy and His Times Samurai Champloo: The Complete Series Satin Scooby Doo! Curst of the Lake Monster Shin Koihime Muso: Complete Collection Stargazers Tattoo Odyssey Thomas & Friends: Pop Goes Thomas Two Bits & Pepper UFC 125 Ultimate Wave: Tahiti 3D Undercover Angel Walking on Water WWE Royal Rumble 2011

MARCH 15

mar 8 Faster

Directed by George Tillman Jr. A rare return to R-rated bloodletting for Dwayne “The Tooth Fairy” Johnson and, not surprisingly, an extremely derivative one. The Rock gets out of jail and kills everyone who put him there. Most amusingly, his adversaries are named for their job titles: Warden, Cop, Killer and so on. We’re not joking.

MARCH 8

Abducted Akane Iro Ni Somaru Saka: Complete Collection Alien From the Deep Atlas: Uncovering Earth Babysitters Beware Backyardigans: We Arrr Pirates Beyblade: Metal Fusion Vol. 3 Black Butler Season One, Part Two Caja Negra Chaperone Chilly Thrillers Climate Change: Our Planet – The Arctic Story Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts David Murray: Saxophone Man Doctor Who: Seeds of Doom Doctor Who: The Ark Dragonball Z Kai: Season One, Part 4 Elina Garanca: New Year’s Eve Concert 2010 Every Day Explitation Cinema: Where Time Began/Encounter With the Unknown Exploitation Cinema: Supervan/ Jailbait Babysitter Faster Film Unfinished Four Lions Frank Sinatra: Man & His Music – The Collection Grim Hannah Montana Forever: Final Season Haunting of Marsten Manor/ Haunted From Within He Who Finds a Wife 2: Thou Shall Not Covet Heart: Night at the Sky Church Helena From the Wedding Home Fires Burning/Harvest Inside Job Jackass 3D Jonathan Goldman: Harmonic Visions

Judge John Deed: Season Three Junjo Romantica: Season 2 Letters to Father Jacob Life: The Greatest Gift Madeline: On the Town Man From Nowhere Maneater Series: The Hive/Vipers/ Rise of the Gargoyles Matty Hanson & The Invisibility Ray Morning Glory Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Collection Vol. 20 Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime Nature: Birds of the Gods Next Three Days NFL: Super Bowl XLV Nova: Emergency Mine Rescue Off Limits On the Double Pacific Battlefront Past Lies Pelt Primeval Paradise Railways Rediscover the Ancient Mysteries of Egypt S.W.A.T.: Fire Fight Sex and Black Magic Sexy Pirates Shriven Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff Son of Terror Speed Grapher: The Complete Series Spongebob Squarepants: The Great Patty Caper Tales From Earthsea Terminators/Universal Soldiers Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman Transgression Triangle/2103: The Deadly Wake Vampire Boys Walking Dead Season 1 Zombie Farm

100 Years That Shook the World 50 First Dates/Mr. Deeds Absent Alfred Hitchcock: Master of the Macabre Alice in Wonderland Arctic Mission: The Great Adventure Baker Boys: Inside the Surge Barbie: A Fairy Secret Barney: Mother Goose Collection Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Season One, Part Two Battle of Los Angeles Best Food Ever BMX Bandits Boat House Detectives Candlelight in Algeria Child in My House Clannad Coach: The Fourth Season Complete Civil War D. Gray-Man: Season Two Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain’s Final Years Exploring Alaska: Great Outdoors Fast Track Food Wars Season 1 Franny’s Feet: Home Sweet Home Freestyle Gamera vs. Zigra/Gamera, Super Monster Great Battles of WW2 Gunslinger Girl: The Complete Series With Ova Hemingway’s Garden of Eden Hereafter Hidden Love Hitler’s Defeat Hollywood Comedy Classics Hollywood Westerns Collection Horror Classics House of Mirth/Les Miserables Human Trace Humpty Dumpty & Other Fairy. Adv. I Shouldn’t Be Alive Season Three Il Profumo Della Signora In Nero Indochine Interplanetary Killers of the Deep Lighthouses of America Little Rascals Vol. 1 Mafia: An Expose Marine Story NASA: Triumphs and Tragedies Nature: Extraordinary Birds Neil Young: Like a Rolling Stone No One Knows About Persian Cats Parking Lot Movie Pink: Alive & Kicking Pokemon DP Galactic Battles Vol. 1 Pokemon DP Galactic Battles Vol. 2 Railway Journeys: The Vanishing Age of Steam Red Green Show: The Delinquent Years Seasons 1997-1999 Rhyme and Punishment Rugrats Trilogy Movie Collection Shadow Sharktopus Skyline Snoopy, Come Home/A Boy Named Charlie Brown Soul Eater: Parts 1 & 2 Spooner Step Off Story Songs and Sing Alongs Sugar Boxx Super Why: Humpty Dumpty and Other Fairytale Adventures Switch Thunder in the City TNA Wrestling: Genesis 2011 TV Nostalgia Vampire Knight: Guilty, Vol. 1 Vanquished Vietnam: War in the Jungle Who Do You Think You Are? Seas. 1 Wildest Dream Wrestlemania Story Yes: The Lost Broadcasts


Films That Have That Independent Spirit On Sale Now At Independent Record Stores

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

WINTER’S BONE

NOMINATED FOR

NOMINATED FOR

NOMINATED FOR

Best Feature Best Director Best Screenplay Best Female Lead: Annette Bening Best Supporting Male: Mark Ruffalo

Best Feature Best Director Best Screenplay Best Female Lead: Jennifer Lawrence Best Supporting Female: Dale Dickey Best Supporting Male: John Hawkes Best Cinematography

Best First Screenplay Best Supporting Female: Daphne Rubin-Vega Best Supporting Male: John Ortiz

PLEASE GIVE

GREENBERG

NOMINATED FOR Best Screenplay

JACK GOES BOATING

CYRUS

NIGHT CATCHES US

NOMINATED FOR

NOMINATED FOR

NOMINATED FOR

Best Feature Best Male Lead: Ben Stiller Best Cinematography

Best Male Lead: John C. Reilly

Best First Feature

MOTHER � CHILD

THE LAST EXORCISM

GET LOW

NOMINATED FOR

NOMINATED FOR

NOMINATED FOR

Best Supporting Female: Naomi Watts Best Supporting Male: Samuel L. Jackson

Best First Feature Best Supporting Female: Ashley Bell

Best First Feature Best Supporting Male: Bill Murray

Film Independent Spirit Awards

February 27, 2011 COWBELL

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MARCH 22

AC/DC: The Interview Sessions Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer Adventures of Ma & Pa Kettle Vol. 1 Adventures of Ma & Pa Kettle Vol. 2 Affluenza Air Alien 2 on Earth Animal Atlas: Family Time Bashment: Fork in the Road Bat Bedrooms Big I Am Big Noise Dispatches 07 Black Oak Conspiracy/The Great Texas Dynamite Chase Bleach Uncut Box Set Vol. 8 Boudica Brady Bunch Movie Collection Carl Verheyen Band: Roaddivides Chloe’s Closet: Super Best Friends Classic War Collection: 4 Film Favorites Classic Western Collection: 4 Film Favorites Comedy Favorites Collection: 4 Film Favorites Consinsual Creep Creepersin’s Frankenstein Criterion Collection: Eclipse 26 – Silent Naruse Crossing the American Crises: From Collapse to Action Cult Horror Collection: 4 Film Favorites Dark Comedy Collection: 4 Film Favorites Dark Fields Darker Than Black: The Complete First Season Death Will Have Your Eyes Deeper Love Defiled Design & Vision Development & Testing Devolved Doodlebops Rockin’ Road Show: Let’s Rock! Doomsday Earth 2010: Apocalypse Rising Eco Energy Explosions Eyehategod: Live Fairies: Meet the Fairies Family 4 Pack Vol. 1 Family Comedy Collection: 4 Film Favorites Family Fun Four-Pack Collection Family Secret Fast and the Furious (1954) Fathers of the Sport Frontline: Battle for Haiti Future Flight! Future Tech! Ghost Sweeper: Mikami Collection 3 Grace O’Malley the Pirate Queen Great Steam Locomotives of France Guns & Weed: The Road to Freedom History Lesson Pt. 1: Punk Rock in Los Angeles Hollywood Look I’m Smiling Horror 4-Pack Vol. 1: Midnight Movie/The Attic/Carver/Outrage Born in Terror

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House of Sin I Spy! Iron Maiden: The Interview Sessions James Brown: Body Heat – Live in Monterey 1979 Joan of Arc Julian Assange: Modern Day Hero – Inside World of Wikileaks Kanokon: The Girl Who Cried Fox – Complete Series Katy Perry: Girl Who Ran Away Kenichi: Season Two Kid Rock: Complete Story Kiss: Interviews Kiss: Meet the Press Kluge In the Beginning Lick It Up Little Engine That Could Looking for Palladin Lost Missile Lozen: Apache Warrior Medical Advances Meskada Michael J. Fox Comedy Favorites Collection Nature: Himalayas Newsreel History of the Third Reich Vol. 10 Nova: Secrets Beneath the Ice Oscura Seduccion Our Hospitality Palestine Is Still the Issue Paranormal Planet: Psychics & Supernatural People I’ve Slept With Positive Force: More Than a Witness Psych: The Complete First Season Psych: The Complete Second Season Punching the Clown Quiet Arrangement Randy & The Residents: Randy’s Ghost Stories Real Mulan Reinactors Return to the Dunes Rin: Daughter of Mnemosyne – Complete Series Robots for Progress Robots That Move Robots: To Serve Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Jackson County Jail/Caged Heat Romantic Comedy Collection: 4 Film Favorites Saragossa Manuscript Sasha Scandalous Impressionists Scarecrow & Mrs. King – The Complete Second Season Sherlock Holmes and the Great London Crime Mysteries Siren Streetcar Named Desire (1995) Tales From the Gypsies: Colossal Sensation/School of Senses Teen Comedy Collection: 4 Film Favorites Teenage Paparazzo That Kind of Girl Times of Harvey Milk UFOs & Extraterrestrial Threat: Battlefield Earth UFOs Do Not Exist! The Grand Deception Uncle Farts’ ‘70s Grindhouse Sleazefest Vanquisher Venture Bros.: Season 4 Vol. 2 Walking Dead Girls War on Democracy Windmill Movie WWE: Elimination Chamber 2011

mar 29 All Good Things

Directed by Andrew Jarecki Ryan Gosling continues his comeback (where did he go after Half-Nelson anyway?) with this underseen but poignant drama about a moody real estate heir who romances, then possibly disposes of, Kirsten Dunst. SNL’s Kristen Wiig stars in a rare straight role.

MARCH 29

Ace Ventura 3-Film Collection Afterlife Alan Bennett Collection All Good Things Allt Flyter American Experience: Lee and Grant – Generals of the Civil War Antony and Cleopatra Apocalypse: World War II Assassins Creed: Lineage Austin Powers Collection Becoming Eduardo Beneath the Dark Big Time Rush Black Fox: 3 Pack Black Whole Bureaucracy Capone Capture of the Green River Killer Civil War: A Film Directed by Ken Burns Clear and Present Danger/Patriot Games Colgate Comedy Hour: Anything Goes Colony Cool It Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide Country Western Collection: 4 Film Favorites Criterion Collection: Mikado Criterion Collection: Topsy-Turvy Dead Awake Dennis the Menace: Season One Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman – The Complete Season 2 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman – The Complete Season 3 Earth: Its History and Future Emergency: The Final Rescues Excel Saga: The Complete Collection Fatal Secrets Father of My Children Friday: 3 Movie Collection Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 4 Funny Face

Gangland: The Final Season Genius of Design Good War and Thos Who Refused to Fight It Guin Saga: Collection 1 Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown Heaven Ain’t Hard to Find Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Season 2 Here’s Lucy: Season Four Hulk vs. Thor Human Experience Hunt for Red October/Sum of All Fears In Plain Sight: Season Three Inferno Ingredients Kids Sports Collection: 4 Film Favorites Kurt Russell Collection: 4 Film Favorites Linebarrels of Iron: Seasons 1 & 2 Love Affairs Collection: 4 Film Favorites Love Affairs Collection: 4 Film Favorites Loveless: Vocal Collection Loveless: Vocal Collection Loving Lampposts Loving Lampposts Machine GirlLinebarrels of Iron: Seasons 1 & 2 Mad Men Season 4 Mega Disasters Midnight Run Movie Marathon Midway to Heaven Mother Lode National Geographic: When Rome Ruled Ocean’s 3 Film Collection One Week Owls Paris When It Sizzles Police Academy 3 Film Collection Randolph Scott Collection: 4 Film Favorites Resident Restaurateur River of Darkness Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends – Fifth Season Roman Holiday Rush Hour: 3 Film Collection Sabrina Scar Scorpion: Double Venom Sgt. Frog: Season Two Shigurui: Death Frenzy – The Complete Collection Solitary Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan/ Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country/Star Trek VIII: First Contact Sublime/Believers Ten Commandments Tiny Little Lies Top Gun Treme: The Complete First Season UFC: The Best of 2010 UFOs and Aliens Ultimate Collection: The First Days of Christianity Ultimate Collection: The Real West – Cowboys and Outlaws Upstairs Downstairs Complete Collection: 40th Anniversary Upstairs Downstairs Series 1 Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 Vega$: The Second Season Waste Land Waterhold Western Movie Marathon: Into the Badlands/Dead Man’s Revenge White House Collection: 4 Film Favorites Who’s the Caboose Xena: Warrior Princess – Season Two Zombie Women of Satan


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/music/new_releases FEBRUARY 1

Leveling the Plane of Existence Acid … Temple/Stearica Split Arabrot Revenge Arthur’s Landing Arthur’s Landing Bardo Pond Bardo Pond Chris Barron Pancho & The Kid Big Sky The Source Blood Command Ghostclocks Karka Bonoff New World Botticelli Presenting Botticelli/ Unlimited John Boutte At the Foot of Canal The Bridge National Bohemian Pieta Brown In the Cool David Caceres David Caceres Norman Candler Try a Little Tenderness/By Candlelight Carmen Cavallaro Cavallaro With That Latin Beat Frank Chacksfield Glory That Was Gershwin/ Plays Berlin Clarence Clemons Live in Asbury Park Steve Cole Moonlight Eli Cook Miss Blues’es Child Cowboy Mouth All You Need Is Live Cowboy Mouth Easy Cowboy Mouth Fearless Cowboy Mouth Live Cowboy Mouth Mardi Gras Cowboy Mouth It Means Escape Debbie Davies Grand Union Mamadou Diabate Courage Kurt Edelhagen Ballroom in London/ Ballroom in Paris Kurt Edelhagen Dancing Percussion/ Olympic Hits Terry Evans Fire in the Feeling Steve Forbert More Young Guitar Days Aretha Franklin Great American Songbook Full Blown Chaos Full Blown Chaos Kathie Lee Gifford Born for You Thomas Giles Pulse Jackie Gleason Torch With the Blue Flame/ Best Of James Grant Sawdust in My Veins Nate Harasim Rush Paul Hardcastle Desire Mic Harrison Pallbearer’s Shoes Paul Haslinger Score Paul Haslinger World Without Rules Ted Heath That’s My Desire: Rare Transcriptions Tish Hinojosa A Heart Wide Open Hot Club of Cowtown What Makes Bob Holler Hotel … Laughing Tree Terror and Everything After Danielle Howle Thank You Mark The JaneDear Girls The JaneDear Girls Brian Keane Into the Deep S Kilbey & M Kennedy White Magic Ladysmith…Mombazo Songs From a Zulu Farm Lazarus A.D. Black Rivers Flow Les Six et Demi Toi Ma Vie Bobby Long A Winter Tale Mario Lucio Kreol Lumin Hadra Maceo Plex Life Index Michelle Malone Sugarfoot Manowar MMXI Mantovani Classical Encores/ Christmas Album Matisyahu Live at Stubbs Vol. II Paul Mauriat El Condor Pasa/Love Maysa The Very Best Of James McMurtry Childish Things James McMurtry Live in Aught Three Me First & Gimme … Go Down Under Men Talk About Body George Michael Faith (2 CD Version) Nathan Moore Dear Puppeteer Mox Mox Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers Hymns From the Hills Trish Murphy Girls Get in Free Naby Dem Naa Abysmal Dawn

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New Birth Family Anthology Windows Subvert the Dominant Paradigm North Miss. Allstars Keys to the Kingdom Overcome The Great Campaign of Sabotage Phish Live Phish 8/13/10 Verizon Wireless Music Center , Noblesville, IN Phish Live Phish 8/6/10 Greek Theatre, Berkeley Phish Live Phish 8/7/10: Greek Theater, Berkeley Charlie Pride Pride’s Platinum Red Until We Have Faces Revolting Cocks Got Mixx Katey Sagal Room Paul Sauvenet Nomad Paul Sauvenet Tristesse Seefeel Seefeel Jules Shear Saying Hello to the Folks Darden Smith Xtra Xtra Todd Snider Live: The Storyteller Spokes Everyone I Ever Met Squeeze Domino Rod Stewart The Best of the Great American Songbook Suspended Memories Earth Island Suspended Memories Forgotten Gods Tiger Riot Look Up Tim/Clemen Brah The Spell Transendental Steam: Soundtrack Tristen Charlatans at the Garden Gate Tuck & Patti Dream Juliet Turner Season of the Hurricane Various Artists Autumn Thunder Various Artists Heart of Innocence Various Artists The Fan Album Various Artists The Sound Healing Collection Maria Volonte Portrait Don Walser I’ll Hold You in My Heart Chris Whitley Perfect Day Helmut Zacharias Tea Time in Tokyo/Melodies From Famous Films New Birth Brass New Model Army Steve Nieve Noisear

FEBRUARY 8

S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey Of Allen/Lande The Showdown American Pinup Strange Creatures And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead Tao of the Dead Anenzephalia Ephemeral Dawn Artas Riotology Jeff Arundel Bomb Nicole Atkins Mondo Amore Hoyt Axton Snowblind Friend/Free Sailin’ Ginger Baker Live at the Jazz Café 2009 Battlelore Doombound Belphegor Blood Magick Necromance Blut Aus Nord Mystical Beast of Rebellion Celeste Ray Ensemble Strings The Coasters Baby, That Is Rock N Roll Eddie Cochran Twenty Flight Rock Con-Dom The Eighth Pillar Contrastate A Live Coal Under the Ashes Crowbar Sever the Wicked Hand Miles Davis Bitches Brew Live Defiled In Crisis Der Blutharsch First Der Blutharsch The Pleasures The Dictators Manifest Destiny/ Bloodbrothers Ebsen and the Witch Violet Cries Edguy The Legacy (Gold Edition) Eyes of a Traitor Breathless Falkenbach Tiurida Fire + Ice Hollow Ways Fire + Ice Runa Foghat Last Train Home Four Celtic Voices Four Leaf Billy Fury Turn My Back on You Godfathers Shot Live at the 100 Club Murray Gold Doctor Who Series 5 Akron/Family

Bardo Pond feb 01

Bardo Pond Philadelphia’s often unfairly overlooked stoner-shoegazers have brought their fair share of paintpeeling noise over two decades of existence. It’s never been more potent than on this eighth full-length exercise in sound. Soundtrack Sleepwalker Cheru Gun Clap Der Dorn Im Nebel Zweige Der Erinnerung The Glory of Chaos Gangster Love 7 Chasing Someday The RItualist Live & Cookin’ at Alice’s Revisited Hurtsmile Hurtsmile Michael Jackson Do You Remember Tommy James Three Times in Love Janitor Qoumran 4-Ever Sean Kent Waiting for the Rapture Les Chasseurs de … Les Chasseurs de la Nuit Yasmin Levy Sentir Lil O Blood Money – Retold Macabre Grim Scary Tales Made of Hate Pathogen Manuscripts Don’t … The Breathing House Jessica Lea Mayfield Tell Me Modern Superstar 1 Part Saint 2 Parts Sinner Monster Magnet The Lowdown Moonbeam Space Odyssey Most Wanted Most Wanted Motorhead The World Is Yours Motorjesus Wheels of Purgatory Mountain Live in Texas Mr. Big What If Mr. Sam Opus Quarto Michael M. Murphey Michael Murphey/Lone Wolf/Peaks Valleys Honkey-Tonks Neither/Neither World She Whispers Objekt Urian Agitation Onslaught Sounds of Violence Over the Rhine The Long Surrender Katy Perry X-Posed Anthony Phillips Missing Links Vol. 1 to 3 Richard Pinhas L’Ethique Poor Genetic Material Island Prospero Turning Point Re-Animator Condemned to Eternity Refugee Refugee/Live in Newcastle Rhino Bucket Who’s Got Mine Danny Schmidt Man of Many Moons Alison Scott Chinese Whispers Bon Scott Forever Shakatak Greatest Hits From the Playhouse Silent Stream of Godless Elegy Navaz Silk Flowers Ltd. Form The Sing-Off The Best of Season 2 Soundtrack The Nanny Diaries Soundtrack The Rite: Score Starsailor On the Outside Stranglers In the Night John Surman Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop Goldenboy Graumahd Hell Rell/J.R. Writer Helrunar Helrunar Helstar Hi-Power Presents D Holcomb & Neigh… Hour of 13 Howlin’ Wolf


Svart Crown Witnessing the Fall Sway Machinery fear. Khaira Arby The House of Friendly Ghosts Vol. 1 Ya Tafari Millennium Thompson Square Thompson Square Tho-So-Aa Identify Todtgelichter Angst Tribe of Circle Children of a Weakened God Diego Urcola Quartet Appreciation Various Artists Biutiful/Almost Biutiful Various Artists Miami/Southbeach Tunes Vol. 1 Various Artists Now 37 Various Artists Now… Modern Songbook Various Artists Rock & Roll Train Various Artists Sonic Sci-Fi Various Artists Twelve Versions of Ceremony Various Artists Ventis Secundis, Tene Cursum Vortex Phanopoeia Wailin’ Jennys Bright Morning Stars Wild Nothing Gemini Yanni Truth of Touch FEBRUARY 15

Shake You Down: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Agesandages Alright You Restless Arbouretum The Gathering Dave Ashby The Sound of T.Rex: Hot Love Asobi Seksu Flourescence Ava Inferi Onyx Awol One & Factor The Landmark John Barron Ballads for You Jeff Bates One Day Closer Bright Eyes The People’s Key Bullet for My Valentine Fever Tour Edition Buzzov-en At a Loss Cauldron Burning Fortune Celtic Woman Lullaby Chixdiggit Safeways Here We Come Stacy Clark Connect the Dots Close to Home Never Back Down Pat Coil Java Jazz Jamie Conway Elegant Piano Romance: The ‘70s Cowboy Junkies Demons Darkest Era The Last Caress of Light Sarah Darling Angels & Devils Death The Sound of Perseverance Deicide To Hell With God Desultory Counting Our Scars DJ Marky Fabriclive 55 Dom Sun Bronzed Greek Gods Dr. Acula Slander Drive-By Truckers Go-Go Boots Due West Forget the Miles East River Pipe We Live in Rented Rooms Eddie Spaghetti Sundowner Terry Edwards Cliches Peter Eldridge Mad Heaven Tommy Emmanuel Little by Little Emmure Speaker of the Dead The Famine Architects of Guilt DJ Mark Farina Mushroom Jazz 7 Kyle Fischer Open Ground Five O’Clock Heroes Different Times Duke Garwood Dreamboatsafari Ken Hensley Blood on the Highway Humanity Falls Ordaining the Apocalypse Impiety Worshippers of the Seventh Tyranny Infernal War/ Kriegsmachine Transfigurations Al Jarreau L Is for Lover/The Deluxe Edition Jack Jezzro & the Nashville Players Country Heart Korpiklaani Ukon Wacka La Sera La Sera Shawn Lee & The Ping Pong Orchestra World of Funk Lars-Luis Linek Harmonica Globetrotter Maks and the Minors Good Morning, Samsara Robert Miles Th1rt3en Mindflow With Bare Hands Gregory Abbott

Jerry Bergonzi Betzefer Bizzy Bone Bloods Present Blues Magoos Blues Magoos Alonzo Bodden Bonefied Presents The Books The Builders and the Butchers The Caribbean Johnny Cash

Death feb 15

The Sound of Perseverance A special reissue of the influential, often uncategorizable metal band’s swan song—deceased frontman Chuck Schuldiner is immortalized via an exclusive Death oral history in the March issue of Decibel.

Evil Is Crowned Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will Negative Plane Stained Glass Revelations Nelson Before the Rain Nelson Lightning Strikes Twice Nelson Perfect Storm – After… 1991 Neuraxis Asylon Occult Detective Club Crimes Ben Ottewell Shapes & Shadows Austin Peralta Endless Planets Powerdove Be Mine Primordial Storm Before Calm Project Hate MCM… Bleeding the New Apocalypse Rabbits Lower Forms The Rattles And the Beat Goes On Red Line Chemistry Dying for a Living Runner Runner Runner Runner Saigon The Greatest Story Never Told Scheepers Scheepers Paul Schwartz State of Grace The Singing Loins Stuff Sirenia The Enigma of Life The Skull Defekts Peer Amid A Skylit Drive Identity on Fire Soundtrack Blue Valentine Soundtrack Lost Boys: The Tribe Soundtrack No Strings Attached Jeff Steinberg Dancing Under the Stars: Tango Stockholm Syndrome Apollo Stryper The Covering Svartsyn Wrath Upon the Earth Swing Combination Yesterdays Telekinesis 12 Desperate Straight Lines Ten Stormwarning Shugo Tokumaru Port Entrophy Torben Freytag Life As It Is (2000-2010) Total F’ing Destruction Haters The Twilight Singers Dynamite Steps Uptown Swing Gang Time on My Hands Zoey Van Goey Propeller Versus Wings Ben Vereen Steppin’ Out Live The Warriors See How You Are The Wildebeests Gnuggets Yoso Elements Young Galaxy Shapeshifting Cho Young-Wuk Oldboy Soundtrack Yuck Yuck Misery Mogwai

FEBRUARY 22

Adele Astrosoniq Julianna Barwick Bayside Jeff Beck Bee Gees Bee Gees Bee Gees

21 Quadrant The Magic Place Killing Time Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Bee Gees 1st Horizontal Idea

Johnny Cash Johnny Cash Johnny Cash The Cave Singers Chain and the Gang Cosmic Gate The Crips Present Crystal Viper The Crystals Cult of Youth Danielson Darkest Hour Defaced Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows Devildriver Earth

Convergence Freedom to the Slave Makeers Mr. Ouija The Right Side Electric Comic Book Psychedelic Lollipop Who’s Paying Attention? Thugz N HiPower The Lemon of Pink Dead Reckoning Discontinued Perfume American IV: The Man Comes Around American V: A Hundred Highways Bootleg Volume 1: Personal File Bootleg Volume 2: From Memphis to Hollywood No Witch Music’s Not for Everyone Back 2 the Future The Left Side Vol. 2 Legends Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best of the Crystals Cult of Youth The Best of Gloucester County The Human Romance Anomaly

D.R.U.G.S. Beast Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light Eat Sugar Levantense Eis Patina Ektomorf Redemption Elvenking Red Silent Tides Emerson, Lake & Pal. Live at Nassau Col. ‘78 The Enid Journey’s End The Enid Salome The Enid Six Pieces The Enid Something Wicked This Way Comes The Enid The Spell The Enid Touch Me The Enid Tripping the Light Fantastic The Enid White Goddess Ensamble Maraghi Anwar Evergrey Glorious Collision Floating Action Desert Etiquette Aretha Franklin More Gospel Hits Earl Gaines You Got the Walk The Good Old Boys Live at the Deep Purple Convention Gutbucket Flock Marcellus Hall The First Line Hate Erebos Hipower Collectables Hipower Soldiers Gang Stories I See Stars End of World Party INXS Original Sin The Irish Tenors Belfast The Irish Tenors Dublin The Irish Tenors Ellis Island Gregory Isaacs The Sensational Extra Classics Miles Jaye Attenergy Ella Jenkins A Life of Song King Creosote Thrawn Lady Gaga X-Posed Layzie Bone The Definition Layzie Bone The Meaning Sarah Lee and Johnny Bright Examples Lil C Keep on Stackin’ Greatest Hits Los Chicharoons Roots of Life Darlene Love The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love The Low Anthem Smart Flesh The Luyas Too Beautiful to Work Magic Kingdom Symphony of War Malachai Return to the Ugly Side MIss. Fred McDowell Downhome Blues 1959 Brad Mehldau Live in Marciac (CD/DVD) The Monkees Headquarters The Monkees More of the Monkees

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/music/new_releases Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. The Monkees The Monkees Necronoclast Ashes Dustin O’Halloran Lumiere Joell Ortiz Free Agent Pitom Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes Psychic Paramount II Riley Puckett Country Music Pioneer Featuring Gid Tann Puro Instinct Headbangers in Ecstasy Putumayo Presents Acoustic Dreamland Quarterfly Do You Believe Eric Reed The Dancing Monk Alice Ripley Daly Practice The Ronettes Be My Baby: The Very Best of the Ronettes Sean Rowe The Magic Place Saashwathi Prabhu Vedic Mantras M Schenker Group Heavy Hitters G Scott-Heron & J XX We’re New Here Matthew Shipp Art of the Improviser Slug Guts Howlin’ Gang Phil Spector Wall of Sound: The Very Best of Phil Spector Colin Stetson New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges Swishahouse Presents Fam 420 Tankard Volume 14 Timo Tolkki Saana: Warrior of Light Pt. 1 Toro Y Moi Underneath the Pine Tower of Power 40th Anniversary (CD/ DVD) Trae Give ‘Em Da Business Ike & Tina Turner Sing Great Rock and Pop Classics Phillip Walker Big Blues From Texas Wicked Minds Boxset Wildfire Crash Course in the Blues Gary Wilson Electric Endicott Johnny Winter Live Bootleg Series Volume 7 Wive Pvll Z-Ro & Mike D 2 Da Hard Way The Monkees

MARCH 1

Lives and Treasure Late Nights & Early Mornings Mark Ballas Hurtlovebox The Baseball Project Vol. 2: High and Inside Count Basie Ultimate Big Band Collection The Be Good Tanyas Blue Horse Big Head Blues Club feat. Big Head Todd 100 Years of Robert Johnson Black Dots of Death Ever Since We Were Children Blood Ceremony Living With the Ancients Anna Calvi Anna Calvi Christopher … Wolves Reiki Healing Music Cirque Du Soleil Totem Harry Connick Jr. In Concert on Broadway Devotchka 100 Lovers Tommy Dorsey Ultimate Big Band Collection Dropkick Murphys Going Out in Style Dukatalon Saved by Fear Dum Dum Girls He Gets Me High Dying Fetus Grotesque Impalement Reissue Dying Fetus Killing on Adrenaline Reissue Linda Eder Now Eisley The Valley Father Befouled Morbid Destitution of the Covenant Firebird Double Diamond David Foster Hit Man Returns Gideon Costs Go Radio Lucky Street Fred Hersch Alone at the Vanguard Images of Eden Rebuilding the Ruins David Ison Relax Acrylics Marcha Ambrosius

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Harry James Scott Kempner Kopek Kottonmouth Kings Present the Dirtball David Lanz Left Lane Cruiser Less Than Jake Less Than Jake Aaron Lewis Liquid Mind Los Peyotes The Loves Lumerians Lykke Li Kermit Lynch Middle Brother Buddy Miller Neema Opnium Gatherum Papercuts Paris Suit Yourself Walter Parks Deva Premal & The Gyuto Monks Elvis Presley Rings of Saturn The Rural Alberta Advantage Rwake Scale the Summit Scene Aesthetic Ron Sexsmith Artie Shaw

Ult. Big Band Collection Tenement Angels White Collar Lies Nervous System Liverpool Junkyard Speed Ball Hello Rockview Losing Streak Town Line Dream: A Liquid Mind Experience Garaje O Muerte Love You Transmalinnia Wounded Rhymes Kitty Fur Middle Brother The Majestic Silver Strings Watching You Think New World Shadows Fading Parade My Main Shitstain Walter Parks Tibetan Mantras for Turbulent Times Elvis Is Back (Legacy Edition) Embryonis Anomaly

Departing Hell Is a Door to the Sun The Collective Brother (Deluxe Edition) Long Player Late Bloomer Ultimate Big Band Collection Gina Sicilia Can’t Control Myself Stateless Matilda The Tellers Close the Evil Eye Tigertailz Bezerk: Live… Burnin’ Fuel Rick Trevino In My Dreams/Whole Town Blue Various Artists Dance Mix USA Various Artists Le Pop 6 The Ventures Hawaii Five-O Mike Watt Hyphenated-Man We Still Dream Chapters Withered Hand Good News M Wonder & Friends True Stories Of MARCH 8

13: Featuring L Butler 13: Featuring Lester Butler Ann-Margaret & Al Hirt Personalities: The Velvet Lounge The Antikaroshi Per/son/alien B Lan 3 Library Catalog Music Series Bang Tango Ain’t No Jive Bang Tango Dancin’ on Coals Bang Tango Psycho Café Beehoover Concrete Catalyst Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys Best Of Tommy Bolin Teaser Deluxe Bon Jovi The Lowdown Cam’ron & Vado Gunz N’ Butta Marco Capelli … Trio Le Nuages en France Exene Cervenka The Excitement of Maybe Ray Charles The Soul Explosion Bruce Cockburn Small Source of Comfort Bobby Collins I’m on the Boat The Color Morale My Devil in Your Eyes Creepersin The Rise of Creepersin The Curious Mystery We Creeling Stoney Curtis Band Cosmic Conn3ction Matt Cusson One of Those Nights Dance Gavin Dance Downtown Battle Mountain II Neil Diamond The Bang Years Diversecity Welcome Fats Domino Rare Dominos Vols. 1 & 2 Dornenreich Flammentriebe Eis Kainsmal D Elfman & T Burton 25th Anniversary Riley Etheridge Jr. Powder Keg Sara Evans Stronger Factory of Dreams Melotronic Fen Epoch

Grails mar 08

Deep Politics Always unpredictable, the Oregon-based band offers little in the way of conventional metal (considering they ply their wares on Neurosis’ boutique label Neurot), but startle nonetheless with strings and triphop elements.

Lasers The Breeze Preaching to the Perverted WW Thank You The Yoga Sessions Deep Politics Drift Away/Loving Arms The Ragtime Cowboy Jew Crazier Than Thou Hobo With a Grin/The Candidate The Hollies Bus Stop/Stop! Stop! Stop! The Human Abstract Digital Veil Isomer Face Toward the Sun Jag Panzer The Scourge of the Light Tommy James In Touch/Midnight Rider Jib Kidder Library Catalog Music Series Rolf Julius Music for a Distance Eartha Kitt & S Rogers St. Louis Blues – Velvet… Earl Klugh Dream Come True/Crazy for You/Low Ride Al Kooper Easy Does It/New York City Lifelover Sjukdom Lil Keke 713 Volume 4 Billy Love Gee… I Wish Phil Manzanera Diamond Head Stevin McNamara Prana Groove Micachu & Shapes Chopped & Screwed Morning Teleportation Expanding Anyway Steve Morse High Tension Wires Steve Morse Band Coast to Coast Steve Morse Band Southern Steel Mournblade Anthology Vol. 1 Mr. Capone-e & Mr. C… South Side’s Most Wanted Murder Junkies Road Killer Alexi Murdoch Towards the Sun Rick Nelson Million Sellers/Rick Is 21 Jim Norton Despicable Daniel O’Donnell Moon Over Ireland Parts & Labor Constant Future Danny Peyronel Make the Monkey Dance Charlie Philips Sugartime Ponytail Do Whatever You Want All the Time Charley Pride Choices Quiet Sun Mainstream R.E.M. Collapse Into Now Raiders Country Wine… Plus Red Lili Une Vie De Reve Glenn Reeves Johnny on the Spot Keith Richards The Document Rival Schools Pedals Kathy Sanborn Blues for Breakfast The Shangri-Las Remember Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (40th Anniversary Edition) Snoop Dogg Snoop Doggy Dogg 3 Disc Set Sorcerer Sorcerer Jimmy Spellman Doggonit: Gonna Shake Lupe Fiasco Champian Fulton Fuzztones Gehenna Glen Galaxy Go-Ray & Duke Grails Dobie Gray Stefan Grossman Halfbrother Sid Steve Harley


02.15.11 Available for

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THAT ROCK AS HARD AS

YOU DO WWW.MYMETALCLUB.COM

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THE LAST LIVE PERFORMANCE

LIVE FOREVER: THE STANLEY THEATRE Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980

Recorded 30 years ago while Bob Marley was touring in support of his last studio album UPRISING, this never before released audio collection offers an incredible snapshot of one of music’s most influential performers.

B UY

LIVE F

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Features 19 unforgettable performances including “No Woman No Cry,” “Jamming,” “Is This Love, “Redemption Song,” “Could You Be Loved” and many more!

ET A

BUTT O PACK N WHILE S UPPLIES

LAST

BOB MARLEY BURNIN’ (Remastered)

CATCH A FIRE (Remastered)

EXODUS 30th Anniversary

LEGEND (Remastered)

NATTY DREAD (remastered)

COWBELL

3


indie record stores in your own backyard

Here’s where to find a local retailer that carries the MonitorThis! Sampler and even more treats!

Silver Platters Seattl e

BK Music

Gallery of Sound

r i c h m ond, va

Pennsylvania

Sunrise Records

Bull Moose

Graywhale

Toronto, On tario

Maine, N e w H a mpsh ire

Salt Lak e City

CD Warehouse Ot tawa , O n tar io

Independent Records Col orado

The Sound Garden Syracuse & baltimore

Dimple Records

Monster Music & Video

Sac r amento

Ch arl eston , SC

The Exclusive Company

Rasputin Music

Zia Record Exchange

San F rancisco & berk el ey

Ariz ona & Las Vegas, NV

wi s c o nsin

Vintage Vinyl fords, nj

For a complete locations list, special offers and more, visit www.monitorthis.com 4

COWBELL


Cowbell Magazine, February 2011