this is not an indie rock magazine
My Morning Jacket America’s best live band
No Surrender have the cure
Gomez back in control
thoughts on The Killing
$4.95 | ISSUE no. 14
R.E.M., Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Fountains of Wayne,
Mike Watt, Paul Simon, Mickey Newbury, The Postelles, David Bazan, Atari Teenage Riot, Austra, Com Truise, Cults, FM Belfast, Eleanor Friedberger, Fucked Up, Greencards, Kids on a Crime Spree, Ladybug Transistor, Efrim Manuel Menuck, Old 97’s, Pictureplane, and more!
VIDEO PREMIERE S, NEWS, EXCLUSIV ES AND CONTESTS ! COMING IN JULY Enter to win a Neil Young test pressing (ends July 5) an autographed RUSH litho (ends July 12) adeth autographed guitar (starts July 12) Meg a WE ARE SOCIAL a Motopony custom bike (starts July 26) FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/RecordStoreDay TWITTER @recordstoreday 2
04 Dos How low can Mike Watt and Kira Roessler go?
14 The Best Medicine Indie hip-hoppers No Surrender have the cure
31 Lead Review Pictureplane’s Thee Physical hits… and misses
46 Red-Headed Stepchild Maybe Conan O’Brien should stop
05 Austra Diva act
18 In Plane Sight Rosebuds split up, then open up
32 CD Reviews Art Brut, Atari Teenage Riot, David Bazan, Butcher the Bar, Com Truise, Cults, Fountains of Wayne, Eleanor Friedberger, Fucked Up, Greencards, Kids on a Crime Spree, Ladybug Transistor, Efrim Manuel Menuck, Old 97’s, Owl City, Pontiak, Pursesnatchers, Rave On Buddy Holly, Seapony, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, She Wants Revenge, They Might Be Giants, Tyler, the Creator, Zomby and more!
47 Now Screen This Sam Adams with the best of what’s in theaters
06 FM Belfast Disco unferno 07 Postelles For sale at last 08 Antlers tk tk
10 Label Maker Meet Massachusetts’ Feeding Tube Records 12 Hit Me With Your Fest Shots Cowbell snaps up Bonnaroo
20 Mind Over Scatter Precocious Britpoppers Gomez get back to basics 22 The Ghost Writer Will outlaw country lifer Mickey Newbury get his posthumous due? 26 Eno + Neo = Eon Brian Eno laps the field, again
28 My Morning pg.
64 Rodney Anonymous goes Behind the Stupid
Jacket Come Alive
Jim James and his troupe of hirsute Southern gentlemen will rock your world this summer.
by sean l. maloney
Jim James, June 15, 2011, in Louisville. Photographed for Cowbell by Kriech-Higdon.
40 Reissues Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, R.E.M., True Soul: Deep Sounds from the Left of Stax, Neil Young and the International Harvesters 57 Books Ellen Willis’ Out of the Vinyl Deeps
50 Celluloid Corral Andrew Bonazelli on the best, worst, weirdest and wildest in home video entertainment 49 Love Your Work 13 thoughts for the 13 days of The Killing
> more 51 ComedyNorm Macdonald: album, asshole of the year? 52 Oh Brothel! Chester Brown’s “comic strip memoir” of life as a John 54 Number One with a Silver Bullet The Real Tuesday Weld soundtracks Glen Duncan’s werewolf tome
> from the editor
Rock Out With Your Hair Out No one forgets
their first My Morning Jacket show. Mine was 2001. Jim James and his motley crew crammed onto the tiny stage of Philadelphia’s Khyber. They’d found themselves in the opening slot of a fourband Sunday bill with three pop-punk/emo outfits. But that was indie rock in the early aughts. Outside of Will Oldham’s Palace/Bonnie “Prince” Billy franchise, “indie country” barely even existed as a concept, let alone a movement. That night, before a crowd my hazy memory puts generously at 15 (including random barflies), My Morning Jacket were raw; Jim James was still figuring out the massive, sonorous power of his bit-o-honey tenor, and the band were still honing their sound, still discovering their powers as a live act. I’d shown up intrigued by two gorgeous, if miserly produced, Darla Records country-ambient LPs The Tennessee Fire and At Dawn. I was expecting the haunting beauty of songs like “Death Is the Easy Way” and “The Dark,” which the first half of their set delivered. But no one there was prepared for the full-on Dixie rock barrage that came next. Despite the paltry attendance, My Morning Jacket went full head-banging, frizzy-haired berzerk on a collection of songs that channeled—and actually covered—Lynyrd Skynyrd, and at a time when that would have been seen as the height of uncool. It ruled. I’ve been talking about that show for a decade, and I guarantee everyone else in attendance speaks of it in the hushed tones reserved for, say, lucking into an unannounced Guided by Voices club date. And that’s the thing about these guys. They don’t care who or how many they’re playing to; each performance is a chance to commune with a higher power. Like church (at least the cool black Baptist kind you see on TV). And that’s why, as Cowbell’s Sean L. Maloney explores in this month’s cover story, My Morning Jacket have become the face of new Southern music, and perhaps the best live act you’ll see this summer or any other. And although they now play to tens of thousands, they’ve remained incredibly humble, and refreshingly free of rock-star attitudes—if not, as Cowbell’s art director Jamie Leary will attest, rock-star schedules; he gets this month’s gold star for coordinating our cover shoot. (A bonus star goes to our own Lucas Hardison, who shot the inside spread of the band on stage at Bonnaroo (p. 28). See more of his Bonnaroo pics on p. 12.)
Read Our Damn Blog!
Though we pour our hearts and souls into the print publication you’re reading now, we’re also churning out daily content on our Cowblog. Each week day, our intrepid interns Dan, Lindsey and T.J. scour the music interwebs for hot news, videos and downloads—when they’re not fetching my coffee or dodging the wiffle balls Andrew hurls at them. Head on over to cowbellmagazine.com (>The Magazine >The Cowblog), and follow us on Twitter (@cowbellmagazine), Facebook (Cowbell Magazine) and last.fm (last. fm/user/cowbellmagazine).
cover photo by Kriech-higdon
Alex Mulcahy firstname.lastname@example.org editor-in-chief
Brian Howard brian.howard@ cowbellmagazine.com 215.625.9850 ext. 115 managing editor
Andrew Bonazelli art director
Jamie Leary email@example.com designer
Melissa McFeeters production artist
Lucas Hardison writers
Sam Adams A.D. Amorosi Rodney Anonymous Brian Baker Shaun Brady Raymond Cummings Jakob Dorof Neil Ferguson M.J. Fine Jeanne Fury Joe Gross Justin Hampton K. Ross Hoffman Sean L. Maloney Michaelangelo Matos Michael Pelusi j. poet Michael Pollock Patrick Rapa Bryan C. Reed Sara Sherr Rod Smith Kevin Stewart-Panko Matt Sullivan photographers
Lucas Hardison Kriech-Higdon illustrator
Jim Tierney interns
Dan Brightcliffe Lindsey Colferai T.J. Gunther published by
Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850
THE EPIC STORY UNFOLDS... AT YOUR HOUSE. ON DV D
& BL U-R AY
HARRY POTTER AND THE
Chamber of Secrets
Goblet of Fire
Order of the Phoenix
Prisoner of Azkaban
LAUGHTER & THRILLS ARE IN THE FORECAST THIS MONTH.
Deathly Hallows Part 1
A true chronicling of the triumphs and tragedies of the band’s 16 year history, BACK AND FORTH chronicles FOO FIGHTERS’ entire existence: from Dave Grohl’s cassette demos to the band forming to play those songs to their ascent to becoming one of the biggest rock bands on the planet--and every Grammy win and sold out show along the way.
© 2011 Regency Entertainment (USA), Inc. in the U.S. only. © 2011 Monarchy Enterprises S.a.r.l. in all other territories. All Rights Reserved. © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, FOX and associated logos are trademarks of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and its related entities.
ON DVD & BLURAY AVAILABLE
NOW YOU HAD TO BE THERE. NOW YOU CAN BE.
The 1979 Paris concert, with over one hour of exclusive extras, including commentary and perspectives from some of rock’s greatest icons.
Bass Friends 4-Ever W Dos y Dos
Available now [ clenchedwrench ]
Dos get low on album numero quatro / by M.J. Fine
hen Mike Watt and Kira Roessler started Dos
in 1985, neither one expected the bass duo to become their longest-running musical relationship. Watt, who’d picked up the instrument at 13, was still in Minutemen; Roessler, who’d been playing since 14, was at the end of her tenure in Black Flag. Their boundless love for low-end bonded them for life. “That was something I think we got about each other, fundamentally, very early,” Roessler recalls. First their bands jammed onstage, and then the pair played in private; cross-country tape swaps followed, then studio sessions, marriage and divorce, and the occasional show. Throughout, the goal remains the same. “We are trying to make a conversation,” Watt says. “We’re also trying to make it so it ain’t a bunch of mud.” Much has changed in the 15 years it’s taken them to get from album numero tres to the new Dos y Dos, on Watt’s own clenchedwrench label. “When we made the third record, there was an attitude that that was our last record in some ways,” Roessler says. “It’s called Justamente Tres—Just Three—because our relationship had been so tumultuous that it was hard to believe that we were gonna keep doing this… That record almost killed us.”
In the meantime, she’s been working as a dialogue editor, winning an Emmy for HBO’s John Adams miniseries, while Watt’s released solo albums, battled a serious illness, joined the Stooges and made more records with more people than he can keep straight. For years, they’ve recorded a song at a time on Watt’s Pro Tools rig, which makes it easier to work whenever they’re free, and harder to commit to a stopping point. By design, Dos y Dos is more instrumental than previous efforts; Roessler sings on fewer than half of the tracks, including a gentle cover of Selena’s “No Me Queda Mas,” and Watt steps up to the mic just once. But though Roessler’s dog Enrico takes the lead on “Number Eight,” Dos remains a two-way conversation. “We’re not trying to do something where one guy’s rhythm and one guy’s the lead,” she says. “The alternative is both going, so we have to leave spaces for each other… You have to find the space both rhythmically and frequency-wise.” When they do, it’s a communion of souls. So, if it takes years of delays, disappointments and combat to get there, they’re up for it. They know what they’ve got and how rare it is. Says Watt: “We’ll sit there and hash it out… If you trust each other enough, it’s worth it. It’s not wasted.” shervin lainez
Ride the Darker Wave
Former opera prodigy Katie Stelmanis gets deep and dramatic on Austra’s debut / by Jeanne Fury
here was a time when Katie Stelmanis was every stage mom’s wet dream. At 10, the Toronto native was holding court with the Canadian Children’s Choir and regularly Feel It Break singing for the Canadian Opera Available now Company. Then she grew up. [ Domino ] In recent years, that imaginary stage mom would’ve had many a conniption fit. Cowbell spoke with Stelmanis while her synth-pop band, Austra, traveled between gigs. Gone are the lavish classical music venues of yore. Austra are hitting the club circuit and have likely encountered more broken toilets and crusty gear than velvet seats and perfect acoustics. But Stelmanis sees and hears parallels between the two worlds. “Electronic is a lot more similar to classical music than a lot of other genres,” she insists. “There’s so much you can do with the arrangements in electronic music, whereas in a regular rock band, you’re sort of limited to the instrumentation. With electronic music, you can access so many different kinds of samples. … Often, the layering and the way people write [electronic music] is very similar to classical music.” Stelmanis stopped singing opera at 19, when she discovered Björk and Nine Inch Nails. “It opened my eyes to whole new genres of music that I had never considered before,” she says, “and indie artists that were doing interesting things that were, to me, comparable in integrity to the classical music that I was studying and playing.” She cut her teeth in the all-female Galaxy, sang on Fucked Up’s Chemistry of Common Life and put out a solo album in 2008. But it was with drummer Maya Postepski and bassist Dorian Wolf that Stelmanis found the best catalysts in Austra. Reminiscent of Bronski Beat’s hits and other dark, synth-heavy British music of the mid-’80s, the band’s debut, Feel It Break, is bewitching in the way it envelops the air, with Stelmanis’ beguiling voice addressing wounded, yearning hearts. Though tracks like “Lose It,” “Beat and the Pulse” and “Spellwork” are lushly textured, there’s a chill to them. “I have a background in opera—everything’s a tragedy,” says Stelmanis. “It’s emotional, dramatic music, and that’s what I loved about it. That’s the music I’ve always taken refuge in.” Austra are on tour in Europe and North America through August. More at austramusic.com. photo by norman wong
The Next Days of Disco W Don’t Want to Sleep
June 20 [ Morr Music ]
Icelandic electro-thumpers FM Belfast are set to go all night / by Rod Smith
hen Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson and Lóa Hlín
Hjálmtýsdóttir recorded a Christmas song for friends toward the end of 2005, they had no intention of forming a band, becoming bastions of Icelandic electro pop or spending much of their time on the road. But they’ve handled each twist of fate well—including one that left Hjálmtýsdóttir’s most important piece of luggage missing at Heathrow on the eve of FM Belfast’s biggest tour to date. “It contained my computer and my phone, and a Zoom recorder, and micro-controllers, and some homemade equipment Árni made for our light show,” the singer and keyboardist emails from London shortly before the band leaves for Brussels. “About an hour later, a wonderful stranger called Harry found it and brought it back to me. He even charged my phone. Can you imagine? We invited him to the show and I drew a card for him, and we gave him an album.” The band’s ad hoc attitude serves them well on Don’t Want to Sleep, in the sense that you’d never guess they had one. Essentially picking up where they left
off on 2008’s How to Make Friends, Hjálmtýsdóttir, Hlöðversson, Árni Vilhjálmsson, Örvar Þóreyjarson and friends recombine enough pop and rock tropes from the ’70s (think: disco) through now to come off as Arctic Monkeys’ cousins—albeit from a way more electronic, party-oriented branch of the family tree. To wit: Almost-title track “I Don’t Want to Sleep Either” hints at a drunken Pixies/New Order hookup in the very best way imaginable. “We don’t all work on each and every song,” Hjálmtýsdóttir explains. “We make a pile of basic songs and pick out the ones we want to work with further. The people not present come in later, and if they feel like something is missing, it gets added. It’s good talking about ideas and looking at them through someone else’s eyes. I’ve tried recording and making songs on my own, but they sounded like they came from some suicidal grandmother.” FM Belfast will be on tour in Europe through September. More at fmbelfast.com.
Patience Is a Virtue T
he Postelles’ eponymous debut has been on deck
for nearly two years, and the New York quartet is finally celebrating the album’s release and the subsequent support required to promote it. It’s been such a protracted process that the band is already shifting into sophomore mode. “We’re actually recording,” says frontman Daniel Balk, 23. “And we’re rehearsing for the tour. We’re excited.” The Postelles began as a high school diversion that expanded into a serious gig when the foursome truncated their college careers and recorded an EP, ultimately leading to a Capitol contract. The band’s debut, produced by Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., was slated for last summer, but a release date never materialized. “We had an album release show in New York, then they pushed it to October,” recalls Balk. “They kept pushing it, so we just parted ways, but we got our album back, which was obviously great. It wound up being a blessing in disguise; they paid for two or three U.S. tours and a U.K. tour, and an album, so it was cool.” Maddeningly, the Postelles’ songs were all over
For nearly two years, New York pop sensation Postelles were everywhere but the record stores / by Brian Baker
television and films—“White Night” and “123 Stop” appeared on Vampire Diaries, Raising Hope and the trailer for How Do You Know—but there was no album to, pardon the pun, capitalize on the exposure. “We got these cool opportunities, but no one could buy the record,” says Balk. “Everyone was just downloading it... which is cool, too. As long as people are listening to the songs.” The Postelles’ uptown indie rock vibe is informed by the last five decades of music, and the proof is evident on their +1 debut, not to mention their opening slots for Chuck Berry, Kings of Leon and Vampire Weekend. “I could go on forever,” says Balk of the band’s influences. “The biggest band in my life is the Beatles; it was the first music that made me feel like this was what I wanted to do. For our live show, I would say the Rolling Stones. I love the Clash, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley... maybe a surprising one would be the early blues guys—Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters—for the way they phrased their guitar lines. I don’t know if a younger person would notice that.”
Available now [ +1 Records]
Tour dates and music at thepostelles.com. COWBELL
Spacing It Out I Burst Apart
Available now [ Frenchkiss ]
Democracy—and electronics—reign on the follow-up to the Antlers’ breakthrough / by Michael Pollock
n 2009, the Antlers earned notice with a deeply
personal concept record about, of all things, cancer (though whose cancer it is remains unexplained). Hospice was the dream-folk band’s third album, but first as more than a one-man project for lead songwriter and guitarist Peter Silberman, and it wasn’t forgotten when critics made their year-end lists. Which makes sense now—the album has an intimacy that reveals itself over time, a kind of wounded beauty that begs to be healed. Which is great and all, but what do you do for an encore? You make Burst Apart, a similarly emotional project that’s amassing similar praise. “We were stuck in a dilemma making such a specific record with Hospice,” keyboardist Darby Cicci says from his home in Brooklyn, shortly before the band—which also includes drummer Michael Lerner— embarks on a North American tour. “We toiled away trying to figure out how to follow it up.” Burst Apart is the convergence of two paths. The first lies in democracy. Where Hospice was built around Silberman’s prewritten songs, Burst Apart took in everyone’s ideas from the start. “We all got to do a lot more on this record,” Cicci says. “A lot of the decisions I made on Hospice were to not play on something. We
left spaces for verses and choruses on this record. We made them into songs.” The second path originates from the band’s interest in electronic music. You can hear it on the edges of “French Exit” and “Parentheses,” and in the atmosphere of “Rolled Together” (which the Antlers re-recorded with trippy gadget fiend and fellow Brooklyn ite Neon Indian). And while Cicci has reservations about that claim—“We listened to a lot of electronic music during the making of the album, but I wouldn’t call this an electronic record in the slightest, in that sense of [electronic music] having structure and pattern and repetition”—he also leaves the door open for interpretation: “I think electronic music is becoming more organic, where you can have more control and let your personality and these subtleties come through. I think it’ll get very blurring. I’ve always thought of electronic music as being very emotional. It’s just emotional in a different way.” More at antlersmusic.com.
photo by shervin lainez
So many reasons to visit your local record store
THESE SPECIAL, LIMITED EDITION PIECES YOU GET WHEN YOU PICK UP A NEW RELEASE ARE JUST A FEW OF THEM AVAILABLE JULY 12
AVAILABLE JULY 26
Incubus /// IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
Release the Sunbird /// COME BACK TO US
get a special limited edition litho when you buy the new IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
get a special 7” single with COME BACK TO US, the first record by this new project from Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave
AVAILABLE JULY 19
AVAILABLE AUGUST 2 311 /// UNIVERSAL PULSE
Drive-By Truckers /// UGLY BUILDINGS, WHORES
an awesome lenticular art piece when you pick up the new UNIVERSAL PULSE
& POLITICIANS GREATEST HITS 1998-2009 special litho treatment of the cover art is yours with the purchase of the Truckers’ UGLY BUILDINGS, WHORES & POLITICIANS GREATEST HITS 1998-2009
All release dates scheduled to change. All special added value items are limited in number and first come first serve, with purchase of the related title. Participating stores only. COWBELL
Cowbell rings up the month’s coolest indie imprint for your listening pleasure
Young Ted Lee, founder
northampton, ma | founded 2007 | website feedingtuberecords.com
ut-music label, record store and informal performance venue alike, Northamp-
ton, MA-based Feeding Tube began in 2007 as a means for founder Ted Lee to issue recordings by friends, compatriots and his own deconstructed-pop outlets (Zebu!, No Sound). Given that underground music guru Byron Coley and straightout-the-fridge daddy-o Thurston Moore live nearby, it’s hardly a surprise that Feeding Tube’s guiding principle is, essentially, “anything goes.” Id M Theft Able wield a kitchen sink-full of collaged scraps; Cave Bears press “record,” then drool/dither/ dissemble/murder nursery school classics and call it all art. Zebu! tease and torture verse-chorus-verse conventions, paying lip-service to trad-rock forms even as they stomp them to a pulp. Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Baer explore the outer limits of handheld tape recorder atmosphere and Surrealist poetry, while Mel Croucher & Automata UK Ltd. roundhouse late-20th-century pop radio, viciously mocking it and reimagining it as a puerile gay wonderland. And the going gets hairier still: Consider Wizard Prison’s bionic upending of Oneida’s cyborg funk, flipping it into something bloodshot and ferocious, Blue Sabbath Black Fiji’s cauterizing nuclear meltdown noise, or the phantasmagoric nature of Blood Stereo’s delirium tremens studies. —Raymond Cummings Noteworthy Imprints from Feeding Tube
GNASHING GNONSENSE Wizard Prison
Next Cycle LP On Cycle, the Seattle-based unit of Scott Colburn and Ben McAllister skirt between curled, curdled electronics manipulation and balls-out, shivering guitar thunder, sometimes allowing those elements to shine on their own, and at others combining them to form odd, compelling compounds. It’s the kind of album that’s pretty much impossible to explain to another person in even a couple sentences, let alone phrases. It would be necessary to mention “cyborgs,” “banjos” and probably “DJ Screw,” too, even though dropping this platter on the turntable at a DJ Screw tribute event would without question clear the room.
to begin with these jokers as any. Tune in for syncopated beats; squealing bursts of feedback; instructions for getting high on glue, followed by an admonition to not get high; talk radio snippets; depraved rants about wizards and crystals that devolve into rants about copping crystals; awkward stage banter before small or nonexistent audiences that veers, with Tourette’s suddenness, into bloodcurdling screams of the CD-R’s title; and gleeful, Casio SK-1 bastardizations of tunes you learned back in third grade. Awe-inspiring, though that will mean different things to different listeners; some may seek to have you committed, while others might want whatever experimental pharmaceutical trials you’re participating in. LONGFORM SOMNOLENCE Blood Stereo
Tape Hiss for Brainwash cassette DADAIST SPECTACLE Cave Bears
Get Out of the House CD-R Much as there’s little differentiation between live recordings, practice tapes or studio masters for this Easthampton, MA, wrecking crew, one is hard-pressed to identify an entry point into their macabre, situational melee. The Cave Bears website boasts hours upon hours of bonkers, Jerky Boys-qua-early-Ween MP3s wherein the line between “cutting a demo” and “fucking off with a tape recorder” is all but erased, if not pissed upon; you and your bros likely made a couple tapes like this on shiftless weekend afternoons, but you probably never took your show on the road. House, which packages a handful of 2009 and 2010 performances, is as good a place
If the name Dylan Nyoukis rings a bell, you’ve probably blown way too much rent money buying limited edition ear-canal rot from Forced Exposure. Nyoukis did time in Prick Decay, among many other projects, and runs Chocolate Monk; Blood Stereo is his duo with Karen Constance, and Brainwash makes for a decidedly entropic listen. Side A foists wobbly, unwieldy drones—comprised, in large part, of violins—that suggest the experience of being digested in the large intestine of some mighty beast in the bowels of hell. Sparser and somehow more sinister, Side B plays like a collaged cross between primalscream therapy, a fully staffed beehive and a high-fidelity recording of someone snoring.
tune in 92
CITY AND COLOUR
FLY FROM HERE
WHATEVER’S ON YOUR MIND
THE JAPANESE POPSTARS
CONTROLLING YOUR ALLEGIANCE
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
OWL CITY ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
TAKING BACK SUNDAY
TAKING BACK SUNDAY
WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN
QUEENSRYCHE DEDICATED TO CHAOS
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION 2
PORTUGAL. THE MAN
IN THE MOUNTAIN IN THE CLOUD
INCUBUS IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
Heat Cowbell snaps up Bonnaroo
Our very own Lucas Hardison is something of a Bonna-
roo lifer, having been to the last eight installments of the 10-year-old Tennessee music and arts festival. Hence, when he ditched work for the week in June, we insisted he take his camera. So, how was it? “Hot, dusty and awesome,” says Hardison of the three-day party that featured highlight sets by Gogol Bordello, Beirut, this month’s cover band My Morning Jacket (see p. 28), Mumford & Sons, Black Keys and others. “It’s a well-oiled machine at this point,” says Hardison. “It’s a beautiful thing to see such an enormous apparatus run so smoothly. Hippies get a bad rap, man. These guys have their shit together.” Hit cowbellmagazine.com for more of his shots. 1
photos by lucas hardison
1. The crowd at Bassnectar 2. Eugene H端tz
from Gogol Bordello 3. Zach Condon of Beirut 4. Low Anthem 5. Black Keys 6. Dr. John with Original Meters and Allen Toussaint 7. Sam Beam from Iron & Wine 8. Mumford & Sons 7
Off-the-wall indie-hoppers No Surrender have a prescription for what ails the world by Jeanne Fury
No Surrenderâ€™s Gnomad (left) and Seraphim
photo by davide bernardi
e’re midway through 2011, and as far as year-end ac-
this real sense of authenticity of struggle and colades go, No Surrender are a shoo-in for the WTF pain. All those things are often swept under the rug in popular music, but it’s authentic award. A dizzying combination of electro, hip-hop, and it’s real. By the time that translated to soul, indie rock and experimental twists, their new hip-hop in the ’90s, what was authentic and album, Medicine Babies, incites as much head-scratch- real was killing people and selling drugs and raping women. It was like, wow, OK, we don’t ing as booty-shaking. fit into that mold.” Enough of Seraphim’s peers felt the exact “I’m very into challenging the prevailing aesthetic of whatever’s same way that they unwittingly launched Afro-punk—the umbrella going on,” says main man Seraphim (Jamal Van Sluytman). “Music is term given to the movement-slash-genre that, loosely defined, refers so easy to make now because of technology that there’s such a cookieto African-American musicians (the Afro part) who make outsider cutter approach. I try to stay away from that.” art (the punk part). Mission accomplished. With solid-gold falsettos, silken female “When [Afro-punk] started, in the late ’90s to early 2000s, a lot vocals and bonkers-fast rapping sharing time in the spotlight, the of these bands literally came out of the spoken-word scene,” says songs are aggressively disorienting, but nonetheless make for a bad Seraphim, who name-checks Mike Ladd and Saul Williams. “Their musical tastes had a depth and breadth that was different from the ass party playlist. The eclectic mix and against-the-tide feel are what these veterans average hip-hop group. A lot of them went to private colleges. I went of the underground hip-hop scene in downtown New York City have to Columbia and NYU; my perspective was a lot different. We didn’t flaunted from the beginning. No Surrender was co-founded in the fit in with kids who were acting hard.” early 2000s by friends Seraphim and Gnomad (Pat Donawa), who No Surrender released White Power Black Magic in 2003 to faeventually brought in Eddie Steeples. They were part of a growing vorable reviews, but right around that time, Steeples’ acting career backlash against the thuggish hip-hop that ruled the airwaves and started gaining steam. He went to Los Angeles to make the movie MTV. “The idea was to make anything that sounded as far removed Torque with Ice Cube. Then he was picked for the part of Crabman on from that as we can possibly get,” says Seraphim of the band’s freaky the NBC primetime show My Name Is Earl, starring Jason Lee. “When that happened, we took a pause. We never wanted to break mélange of influences. “This might sound convoluted,” he continues. “Hip-hop and rock the group up,” says Seraphim. He and Gnomad did infrequent shows come from a blues background. On really old blues recordings, you get as a duo and became involved in other musical projects. A handful of
Must-Have Afro-punk albums by Seraphim of No Surrender
Welcome to the Afterfuture
This is one of my favorite records of all time. His first full-length contained a lot of the angst and confusion young adults confront with coming into their own. This record was more a haphazard balance of psychedelica, focused anger, despair and cynicism that comes after you find yourself. It is a musically confident record, yet unsure if it wanted to be a rock record, a rap record, an electronica record or some kind of ’60s happening. Esoteric references to ’70s and ’80s politicians, forgotten bits of ’80s pop culture, analog synth and heavy MPC drums. Musically, it was everything I was trying to be, executed with a precision I wasn’t capable of at the time. [Caroline, 2000]
I might call this the first Afro-punk album. The two black rock bands everyone knew of in the ’90s were Fishbone and Living Colour. I would argue that those bands came from a more traditional punk/hardcore lineage. The Veldt’s first major label record came out during hiphop’s golden era in the early ’90s. Everyone was into ’70s soul then, and hearing Daniel Chavis and the Veldt was like pouring your dad’s ’70s soul records into a blender with ’90s rock clichés and ’90s R&B, and getting a nice buzz off of it. The Chavis brothers went on to form Apollo Heights, the most criminally underrated band in New York. [Polygram, 1994]
It’s a balance, being able to hold hands with what’s going on around you, but having a magic trick in your other hand to offset that.” —Seraphim
years went by, and he got the itch to revive No Surrender. In 2007, the trio went to London and recorded “Godda Get It” with the Radioclit production crew. “We had that spark again, and we wanted to make another record.” The band came to the attention of musician/producer/visual artist Costanza, best known for her work with Tricky. She signed them to her label ZerOKilled and had a huge hand in crafting Medicine Babies. “It’s a marriage of sound: the dissonance and quirkiness that I’m known for,” says Seraphim, “and a much more mellow aesthetic that she’s know for, coming from that trip-hop background.” Accepting Costanza into the fold was a change of pace for Seraphim, a self-proclaimed “tyrant.” But the wider he opened the gates to guests, the richer the music became. Witness the cool, come-hither sexiness of singer Monica Sharp rubbing against unsettling synths on “Carousel”; the frenetic drum-and-bass beats trampling what sounds like a haunted accordion on “Silver Hall” (featuring TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe), turning the track into more of a séance than a song; and the bouncy, club-ready “Give It Up” breaking the rapid-fire rapping with the rousing pipes of Niki Darling (think Martha Wash belting the chorus of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vi-
I learned about Santi [White] and [her band] Stiffed around the time I was listening to a lot of early pop-punk like the Buzzcocks and the Damned. This album catches a lot of flak, but I think it has the playful energy she brought with her when she reemerged as Santigold in a much rawer form. Everyone on the scene was crushed out on Santi. Watching her bounce around like a lightning bolt in small rock clubs was magnetic. It’s catchy, short and sweet, and still manages to tease you with a lurking brutality that may never actually fully manifest itself. [Outlook, 2005]
brations”). These hybrids don’t become any less confounding after repeated listens, but their charm grows exponentially. “Obviously you don’t want to make a record that no one’s going to listen to,” says Seraphim. “It’s a balance, being able to hold hands with what’s going on around you, but having another magic trick in your other hand to sort of offset that.” And “what’s going on around them” isn’t limited to musical influences. The original concept of Medicine Babies was an examination of love in a time of war, and the idea of love itself. Such a lofty pursuit and the nature of the subject matter may explain why the album is so freakin’ bonkers. Suddenly, No Surrender’s jams begin to make sense. “We’re fascinated by the basic, everyday human interaction, this fear people have of love and accepting love,” says Seraphim. “All these things we talk about in abstract forms, and we get to a point where we’re philosophizing—like I am right now, very long-windedly—[but] they’re very simple things. To us, the medicine of the world is the simple things that we neglect, the simple things that we don’t believe we can obtain that are already within our grasp.” In other words, break the tamper-resistant seal and see your way to a brighter future. More at zerokilledmusic.com and myspace. com/nosurrender.
Sonic Sum was a collage of rock, soul and ’70s soundtrack samples with live instrumentation, analog synths and two DJs cutting records like their lives depended on it. Add to that Rob Smith’s suburban psych-rap tainted by life in the South Bronx, and it’s over. Listening to Sonic Sum records is like watching the love child of William Burroughs and William Gibson tripping hard on acid running through Harlem rapping. I’ll catch flak for calling this Afro-punk since the vocalist is white, but… meh. [Caroline, 2000]
Medicine Babies is available now from ZerOKilled.
Rapture Ready, I Gazed at the Body
The lead singer Autry was the bassist for Dragons of Zynth, and has a few other TV on the Radio family connections. The lead guitarist played for Santigold for a brief while. Autry also currently plays bass for […And You Will Know Us by the] Trail of Dead. This record is raw and maybe could have used a producer, but its rawness is what makes it work. Imagine a wayward preacher’s son losing his father. His friends console him by joining him in howling at the moon like the Beach Boys conducted by Mario Bava. [Team Love, 2009]
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In Plane Sight
The Rosebuds open up as their marriage ends / by M.J. Fine
fter four discs of romantic determination and dismay, the
Rosebuds seemed to be hiding something on 2008’s Life Like. Rather than the usual veiled references to their marriage, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp seemed to be writing about anything but: dead foxes, tiger bones, baby catfish. But one line from the title track, which the two sang slightly out of harmony, was telling: “I’m wild, but I’m not free.” When they finished touring to support the record, Howard and Crisp—who had been married since 2001—went their separate ways. He stayed in North Carolina, while she moved to New York for the winter to write in solitude. “That year was just a real hard year,” Crisp says. “The bond that we had for years and years—like 14 years—died. My dad died, grandparents died, we lost our relationship. Two years ago, all that stuff happened in one winter, the fall season leading up to the winter.” When they reconvened in North Carolina in the spring, they weren’t sure what to do next. “We knew that we wanted to make another record, but not what we were going to do with it,” she says. “We definitely didn’t want to write about our relationship, or at least we hadn’t thought of that… We didn’t have any wisdom about it at all yet. And didn’t want to talk about it. And definitely didn’t want to share it.” A season passed. The Rosebuds toured China. Another season passed. And then, while they were both messing around with guitars and vocal melodies, they shared an epiphany. “We just realized at that moment that there was nothing we could do on the record that wasn’t gonna be about us as people,” Crisp concedes. “And we were just gonna have to find some kind of consciousness to start talking about what we needed to say to each other.” The result, she says, was “A Story,” which appears on their new Loud Planes Fly Low 18
We definitely didn’t want to write about our relationship [ending]… We didn’t have any wisdom about it at all yet. And didn’t want to talk about it. And definitely didn’t want to share it.” —Kelly Crisp (Merge). It’s not so much a conversation as it is a way of getting to a conversation. “I want to know how you feel,” Howard sings. “I want to tell you how I feel.” Without getting to that point, Crisp says, there would be no record. “If we were afraid to take it to a place that would be personal, that fear went away the moment that we said something personal and it seemed OK. Or, indeed, necessary.” No, wait. That’s not exactly how Howard remembers it. Kelly was playing guitar, he recalls, but he was on the piano. “We just
kinda called it ‘The Breakup Song,’ and that was kind of like the first connection we had,” he says. “The first really strong emotional feeling from a piece of music related to this record.” And there were no words yet—it was an instrumental piece. But if they differ in the details, Crisp and Howard are both proud of the result, as they should be. Loud Planes Fly Low is a gorgeous record, incorporating everything listeners love about the Rosebuds—sensuous grooves, fiery rock and airy strings—and one that doesn’t cloak hurt feelings in metaphors. The key line of the dreamy “Limitless Arms” is “I feel like I’m losing love for the last time.” On “Without Focus,” Howard sings, “We overlooked it every day / A thing of beauty, it just went away.” If that sounds raw, consider the duo’s songwriting process. “We’re not like most bands,” Howard says. “We work on lyrics together.” Crisp goes a step further, admitting she put words in his mouth: “If he’d sing it, it took on this new meaning because, maybe subconsciously, I just needed to hear him say certain things.” If she were the vengeful sort, that would be a problem. But that’s not the Rosebuds’ way. “There’s nothing I said in any
The Rosebuds at their most memorable Make Out [Merge, 2003]
As early as the introductory acoustic guitar hook that leads off “Back to Boston,” the first track on their debut, it was clear the Rosebuds already knew who they were and what they were doing. In less than two and a half minutes, Ivan Howard plays the ambivalent romantic while Kelly Crisp’s melancholy synth lines sigh in sympathy. The hard-partying hipsters who populate good old-fashioned pop songs like “Kicks in the Schoolyard” and “Drunkard’s Worst Nightmare” could’ve easily become caricatures, but Howard’s full-throated delivery makes you give them the benefit of the doubt.
Birds Make Good Neighbors [Merge, 2005]
of the lyrics, or Ivan said in any of the lyrics, 300-page song or something.” But he says he that put the other person down or said someknows exactly when he realized Loud Planes thing that we wouldn’t be proud of later.” Fly Low would be not just therapeutic for the In fact, she sings lead less on this record former spouses, but a breakthrough for the than she has on the last few. Her star turn is band. It was two-thirds of the way through “Come Visit Me,” a bittersweet R&B numthe project, when Crisp brought in “Cover ber. “I need something to happen now, even Ears,” which gave the album its title. The if it fucks me up,” she sings. “Come visit me song hits a number of emotional notes, from way out here / I need you to see me, even if it numbness to guilt, and once again the pair is intentionally out of step on the most tellmakes it worse.” It’s in line with her belief that honest coming line. When Howard dares to ask, “Who’s munication is worth any temporary pain, and gonna love you if I go,” you know the love’s she appreciates the opportunity to document not gone—it’s just changed into a different the immediate aftermath of her marriage. kind of love. And that, they insist, will never end. Work“We’re really lucky to have this record between us, because most people don’t get an ing together as exes made them appreciate opportunity to say all the things what they have. “There’s a thing that we got to say,” she says. “Bethat Ivan and I have between us, which ended in our romantic recause living your day-to-day life, you don’t have to say things that lationship,” Crisp says, “but we are so important to each other.” share this really great creativity and we have creative consonance Howard can’t point to any one song to sum up their situation. with each other that’s childlike, “I think the whole record kinda that we can access with each tells it,” he says. “’Cause, I mean, other through music.” when you break up as a couple, Rosebuds are on tour this sumLoud Planes there’s no one thing that capFly Low is mer with Bon Iver. More at tures the whole saga, the whole available now therosebuds.com. story of it. It would have to be a from Merge
The gentlest entry in the Rosebuds’ discography finds Howard and Crisp asking tough questions about love and giving easy answers. “Will our love ever end? Will you stop being my best friend?” they wonder in “Shake Our Tree.” The reply’s always an “oh no” and a handclap, but the mid-tempo tune keeps it from sounding like gloating. And when they trade off verses on the jumpy “Leaves Do Fall,” they bear their desperation as bravely as X’s John Doe and Exene Cervenka did decades earlier.
Night of the Furies [Merge, 2007]
There’s always been a dark undercurrent in the Rosebuds’ work, but this is where the temperature plunged and the sky went black. Crisp’s voice is up front on the two strongest—and moodiest—tracks, “I Better Run” and “When the Lights Went Dim,” but it’s her keyboards that lead the way on just about every song. Never has the band sounded so much like children of the ’80s, with lessons learned from George Michael, Depeche Mode and nameless disco chemists. —M.J. Fine 19
Mind Over Scatter Gomez overcomes geographical distance and reasserts their studio independence on Whatever’s On Your Mind / by Brian Baker
hen Gomez won Britain’s coveted
Mercury Music Prize in 1998 for their debut album Bring It On, they were young adults together constantly, living in one house, touring in one van, evoking clichéd laddish behavior worthy of A Hard Day’s Night. That was over a dozen years ago, and Gomez’s success has scattered the vastly more mature band members to far-flung locations around the globe, from Los Angeles to Brooklyn to Brighton, which means they don’t walk down the hall to communicate anymore.
photo by brantley gutierrez
Technological contact across any distance has expanded expoband over 50 compositions to pare down to the album’s eventual 10nentially over the past decade, meaning that, although the members song set list. of Gomez are separated by an ocean and a continent, they’re con“I think that’s a nice retrospective reading of the title,” says Gray. stantly sharing musical ideas and concepts. As a result, the band’s “Obviously the title came from the track, but taken away from the latest album, Whatever’s On Your Mind, was created in what could track it had a different meaning, and I think that’s kind of it. It was a be considered the most high-tech conference feeling of this is going to go all over the place call in history. and talk about all kinds of different things, “I guess we’ve kind of been developing that and we can’t talk about this in a holistic way, for many years now,” says guitarist/vocalso let’s just draw a big ring around it. It makes sense.” ist Tom Gray. “It’s taken a long time for us Another cogent fact of Gomez’s artistic to fine-tune it as much as we did this time around.” evolution is the quintet’s separate living At 10 songs and a shade under 39 minutes, arrangements. Four of the five have started Whatever’s On Your Mind is easily the most families (only Blackburn remains offspringconcise album in the Gomez catalog. Its brevfree), and with that new perspective come ity is a direct result of the focused mindset fresh songwriting inspirations. And, as Gray that the band channeled in conceiving the points out, that perspective can be subdividmaterial for their seventh studio album. ed even further. “We were very determined to not waste “To be honest, whenever I sit down to time in the studio, which can be incredibly write a song, I try and do something differfrustrating, time-consuming and financially ent from the last thing I did,” he says. “So, I disastrous,” says Gray. “If you spend time in don’t really recognize the thread in my own the studio and you don’t know what you want work, never mind in others, and that’s really to do, you’re in pretty bad shape. Amazingly, the truth of it. More than anything, I think considering all our experience, we still manwe wanted to return to feeling a quirk that age to go into the studio and make records we hadn’t really allowed to come out in quite without really knowing what we’re doing.” a long time, maybe not since [2002’s] In Our At the same time, while the songwriting Gun. And a lot of that was because we hadn’t members of Gomez (Gray, vocalist/guitardone self-production in a long time.” ist Ian Ball, guitarist/vocalist Ben Ottewell Although Whatever’s On Your Mind wasn’t and drummer Olly Peacock; bassist Paul strictly self-produced—the band loosely coproduced with longtime friend/Phantom Blackburn puts his stamp on the quartet’s creations in the studio) were intently focusPlanet bassist Sam Farrar—it reflects a mode ing their creativity on crafting songs for the of working that Gomez haven’t explored in years. As a result, the album bristles with the album, the scope of the work was incredibly expansive. The open-ended nature of the energized classicism that defined the band’s early output, while revisiting all of the sonic songs they brought to the table is evident — Tom Gray in the title they chose for the 10 tracks that touchstones that have shaped their more remade the final cut. cent catalog, particularly their last two ac“That’s where democracy drops in,” says Gray with a laugh. “The claimed efforts, 2006’s How We Operate and 2009’s A New Tide, while songwriting bit, you’re a complete dictator, but then when it comes simultaneously transcending them. to choosing the songs, we’ve got a group of people and everyone gets “I think it genuinely is a return to taking the reins ourselves,” says Gray. “I like the eccentricity of it. I was a bit worried when we put a vote of one. We knew we wanted to make a record that was a bit all over the place. That added to the level of randomness. We actively out the last record, and I was like, ‘This is a very uneccentric record. were trying not to make a cohesive record. We were trying to make It’s a good record, a nice record, but it doesn’t feel slightly uncoma Gomez record.” fortable and a little bit strange.’ I think The other technological advance that has worked in Gomez’s favor, that’s naturally what we do when we’re in on the last few albums in general and on Whatever’s On Your Mind charge of our own outcomes. We’re all very specifically, is the advent of the home studio; all four songwriters in adventurous and playful. I found it hard making the last few records when we’re in Gomez have home rigs that allow them to record demos which they the room with somebody whose attitude shared with the rest of the band by way of a central online site. “What’s important to understand is that Gomez grew out of a bunch is, ‘Let’s do this more conservatively and of home recordists anyway,” says Gray. “That’s what Gomez was to be more adult about this.’ It focuses you start with. Rather than a bunch of musicians who formed a band, we in different ways creatively, but I have a shitload more fun doing it this way.” were more like a bunch of home recordists who befriended a couple of musicians and formed a band.” Whatever’s On Gomez will tour the U.S. in July and AusYour Mind is That concept has never been brought to bear on a Gomez project available now from tralia in August. More at gomeztheband. more than it was on Whatever’s On Your Mind. Each songwriter conATO com. tributed over an album’s worth of material to the process, giving the
I found it hard making the last few records when we’re in the room with somebody whose attitude is, ‘Let’s do this more conservatively and be more adult about this.’ It focuses you in different ways creatively, but I have a shitload more fun doing it this way.”
The Ghost Writer
Will unsung outlaw country lifer Mickey Newbury—the subject of a Drag City reissue series—get his posthumous due? / by Sean L. Maloney
t seems like a bit of stretch to call an artist a cult artist when he’s been cov-
ered more than a thousand times, ranks Elvis, Joan Baez and Ray Charles among his admirers, and has landed hits on pretty much every major chart. But then again, Mickey Newbury is something else altogether. One of the most influential songwriters of all time, a chief architect of the outlaw country sound and a writer/performer whose unique approach to the art of music— half boundary-pushing innovation, half deep-rooted tradition—laid out the blueprint for much of the sounds that would become Americana and indie-folk, Newbury remains one of the great unsung heroes of modern music. Which seems odd given the amount of respect and adoration he receives across the board—you’d think if your songs were being covered by Marie Osmond (“Blue Sky Shining”), Presley (“An American Trilogy”) and Nick Cave (“Weeping Annaleah”), people would be paying more attention. (That’s a weird spread, ami rite?) But that could change with four new reissues of Newbury’s classic late-’60s/early-’70s material—the albums Heaven Help the Child, ’Frisco Mabel Joy and Looks Like Rain, along with Better Days, a collection of rare and never-released material—now out on archindie label Drag City. (All four are also available in the limited-edition An American Trilogy box set). Newbury passed away in 2002, but Cowbell talked to his son Chris Newbury about his father’s life and legacy. Your dad was a unique artist whose influence is much bigger than his name recognition. Could you tell us a bit about his career?
As a writer, he’s maybe not the most successful, but he was really successful. As a performer, he wasn’t successful at all. He is, in a cult sense, because people buy those early albums and they love ’em, but nothing ever went viral, if that’s the right word for it. And it’s probably his fault—he didn’t want to tour, he didn’t want to do the 100 percent promotion thing, you know? He had a family, had just gotten married and refused to go out there and be a road dog for the record company. That probably pissed them off; that’s probably why he didn’t get any promotion. And having said all that about not touring, he made some damn good records—that was basically what he signed the contract to do, and then there was always more. I think he just got sick of it. 22
Did you grow up in Nashville? Were you surrounded by all the industry stuff as a child?
Not at all. We moved to Oregon before I could even remember. I was maybe a year old and we came back on a couple of trips when I was 5... it was probably a family decision. He didn’t want us growing up in Nashville and being children of “people,” if you know what I mean. I think he saw these kids and said, “I don’t want this for my kids.” We were just totally different people. When we grew up, people would say, “What does your dad do?” and we’d say he was a songwriter, and they’d say, “Yeah, right—what does he really do?” “We swear, he’s a songwriter.” “Well, we’ve never heard of him.” No one really knew who he was, no real attention or anything, just one of those weird jobs that people don’t believe he actually did, you know? They thought he played golf for a living, because that’s what he did when he was home. Play golf every day and come home. But he was making records the whole time, wasn’t he?
Yep, 30 years—if you want to start with Looks Like Rain—which is the first album that he’d claim as his own. That was ’68, ’69, and he didn’t stop until his death in 2002, so it was over 30 years straight, really. There was a lull there in the ’80s, where he went a whole decade without releasing more than one record, but he was always working, writing, polishing his songs. I’m sure he was always working on songs in his head. Did your father resent his lack of popularity as a performer and recording artist?
Hard to say. I’m sure a little piece of him did back in the day, but what can you do? There’s also the fact that he was a successful writer and he was not starving; he was making a good living off writing, which most writers can’t. But when you’re in that position, I can just see him saying, “To hell with it. I’m gonna make my own albums, make them the way I want to make them, make them for myself basically.” He was making something pretty for himself to listen to. He was pretty progressive in terms of demanding artistic control—especially in an era when country artists had very
little control over their careers—and went independent pretty much before that was a normal thing. He was pretty cutting-edge in that regard.
He was on the cutting edge of everything. He had these little things—I thought they were corny, but he played them because he loved technology and toys—but he was playing with MIDI way back in the early ’80s. Like MIDI that you could hook up to your guitar and have choirs and things playing when you hit a string. Nobody was doing that stuff. And then when the Internet came about, he had a busy message board with a bunch of people on it before Willie Nelson and all them even had websites. He was just way ahead of his time—he was that way with everything. He loved technology. I remember he paid thousands of dollars for an analog/digital converter, which was super high-tech at the time, as high-tech as it gets. You know what that is, right? Now they cost about $1.50. [Laughs] He had one of those Kurzweil [synthesizers] before anyone else, with like a thousand different sounds; you could loop things. His ultimate dream, musically, was to have the technology that we all have now. He wanted to be able record everything and be able to send it over the Internet to someone to lay down tracks; all that stuff that he wanted to do is now possible, and he just missed it, by a decade. Your father seems like he was really deft at navigating the edge of what was happening in music, especially on the four records that are being reissued this month.
Navigating the edge, I like that. He did that: writing, playing, everything… you never knew exactly where he was going. He could be blues one second, pop the next, country the next, and so on. You never knew exactly where he was going.
Heaven Help the Child, ’Frisco Mabel Joy, Looks Like Rain, Better Days and the boxed set, An American Trilogy, are all available now on Drag City.
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Eno + Neo Eon Only Brian Eno could create music that is simultaneously apart from its time, mind-bendingly new and yet utterly timeless / by Brian Baker
Based on his earliest works as well as his most recent output—last year’s gorgeous Small Craft on a Milk Sea and his just released collaboration with wordsmith Rick Holland, Drums Between the Bells—it’s not difficult to imagine Eno being teleported from some parallel reality like a hypercreative avant garde Mr. Bean, a man out of his time, advanced just enough beyond mere mortals to be frustratingly misunderstood and disdainfully bored with trying to entertain our primitive sensibilities. Eno established his pattern early in his post-Roxy solo career. His first four brilliant albums—Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World, Before and After Science—were wildly original extrapolations of contemporary pop/ rock conventions, and he could very easily have spent the next three and a half decades reinventing that four-spoked wheel without an iota of artistic evolution and still have maintained a loyal, healthy fan base. The problem with that scenario is Eno isn’t wired for repetition, at least not in the work ethic sense. His creative ADD is fueled by an antsy restlessness as constant as the tides, and he has an almost survivalist need to move on musically. Starting with his radical art school education, and continuing with his short but influential stint with Roxy Music, his otherworldly experimentation with Robert Fripp on No Pussyfooting, his solo excursions, his free-ranging work with the 26
s it mere coincidence that the mysterious Roswell, NM, crash
occurred in the summer of 1947 and Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno was born in the spring of 1948? Given his astonishing accomplishments over his nearly 40-year career—including his groundbreaking work as a member of Roxy Music and as a producer/collaborator with David Bowie, Devo, U2, Talking Heads, Genesis and dozens of others, his singular solo efforts, his development of an entirely new genre of music, his technological wizardry, and his uncanny ability to foresee new musical directions years ahead of prevailing trends—it often seems as though Eno is precisely described by the title of his recently released biographical DVD: The Man Who Fell to Earth.
Portsmouth Sinfonia, the Ayers/Cale/Nico/ Eno performance and many others, Eno’s modus operandi has been relatively the same; create and adopt a shockingly new paradigm, abandon it almost immediately in favor of some other exquisitely original direction, blowing a good many minds in the process, then repeat. And even as his methodology has remained consistent, Eno’s results have always been uniquely different, from his musical peer group and even from himself. Eno’s tools are as sharp as the contents of a surgeon’s tray; an engineer’s understanding of technology, an artist’s empathy for the ghost’s role in the machine, and a literal and figurative vocabulary that is erudite and surreal and nonsensical and poetic. Beyond the Rube Goldbergian electronics that actualize his conceptual visions, perhaps Eno’s most fascinating studio device is his Oblique Strategies cards, a tarot-esque deck containing non-linear and random advice designed to advance a stalled project or enliven one that has gone moribund; examples include “Abandon normal instruments,” “Disconnect from desire,” “Turn it upside down” and the first in the series, inspired by co-creator/ painter Peter Schmidt, “Honour thy error as a hidden intention.” Eno’s longest-lasting sonic obsession may well stand as his greatest and most influential contribution to the musical landscape;
identifying and shaping a new genre of music he dubbed “ambient.” Ambient music was born in Eno’s mind after a run-in with a cab sent him to the hospital, and old girlfriend Judy Nylon stopped by with an album of harp music to occupy him during his convalescence. Eno accidentally set his record player’s volume below a conscious listening level and, perhaps further enlightened by his own Oblique Strategies (“Listen to the quiet voice,” “Remember those quiet evenings”) and the competing sound of rain against his window, he envisioned a style of music designed to operate at both subliminal and conscious levels. In its most elemental definition, ambient music was Eno’s attempt to craft sound that would enhance one’s environment without necessarily drawing direct attention to itself as a sonic focal point. Some quiet instrumental music, like Windham Hill’s output, was deemed “aural wallpaper” by some critics, but it was often more forceful, actively meditative and overly pretty. Eno’s intention was for ambient music to draw on the melancholy melodicism that had always informed his work, while drifting in and out of focus as attentions within the given atmosphere waxed and waned. Of course, Eno didn’t invent the idea. At the turn of the 20th century, Erik Satie had conceived an environmental approach that he christened “furniture music,” and Eno drew plenty of inspiration from like-minded
Brian Eno minimalists like John Cage (whose use of the I Ching informed Eno’s development of Oblique Strategies), Steve Reich, the German electronic movement that came to be known as Krautrock, and Terry Riley, particularly his groundbreaking album A Rainbow in Curved Air. But like everything Eno has absorbed and reiterated over the course of his astonishing career, even though he was standing on the shoulders of giants, he was calculating new and breathtakingly singular formulas and paths with old inspirations—his 10-album series on his own Obscure label highlighting avant composers like Michael Nyman, Harold Budd and Gavin Bryars remains an impressive and courageous example of using one’s fame to open doors for like-minded artists— and marking them with the indelible stamp of his own incomprehensible capabilities. Certainly all of this would have easily cemented Eno’s reputation as an avant garde provocateur with a relatively cultish profile, but his work behind the console for and creative collaborations with Devo, Talking Heads and U2 thrust him into the rarefied air of superstardom. And although he has increasingly shied away from publicity and
the trappings of the fame that have been inflicted upon him, Eno has exploited that fame by making music precisely the way that he wants it to be, with no fear of label interference or disdain because his reputation transcends the need to move units or impress suits. Amazingly, but not surprisingly, Eno’s relevance continues to compound in the new millennium. He’s earned production gigs with Coldplay and, once again, U2, returned to team up once more with David Byrne (the ecstatic Everything That Happens Will Happen Today), scored Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones and, with Small Craft on a Milk Sea and Drums Between the Bells, proved beyond a doubt that he is still perfectly adept at assembling fantastic pop albums in his own image, while concocting exquisitely experimental works without compromising the artistic integrity of either endeavor. It is no idle wish to hope that Brian Eno sticks around to influence and educate the next generation; it is nothing less than music’s best possible chance for a bright, engaging and inventive future.
Drums Between the Bells Warp
Last year’s Small Craft on a Milk Sea was proof of Brian Eno’s powerful ability to once again access his inner pop child while maintaining a firm stance in his ephemeral green ambient world, while 2008’s Everything That Happens Will Happen Today was evidence of Eno’s collaborative brilliance, particularly where his crazy headmaster persona intersected with David Byrne’s twisted art student normality. Drums Between the Bells seems structured to showcase all of Eno’s considerable talents by knitting them together in a stream of musical consciousness that touches on the totality of his incalculable genius, sometimes all within a single wildly writhing composition. Take the disc’s ostensible title track, “Sounds Alien,” for example: A chugging synthetic beat gives way to thundering Chemical Brothers guitars and cryptically perfect lyrics from poet Rick Holland delivered by one of a cadre of warmly detached female vocalists. As usual, an album’s worth of this would kill, but Eno is far more interested in texture and atmospherics, so he utilizes his self-described role as sonic landscaper to shape the distinct yet connected songs on Drums into soft ballistic hymns for the electronic church of the new millennium. —Brian Baker
Brian Eno (left) and Rick Holland, Eno’s collaborator on Drums Between the Bells.
My Morning Jacket
Comes Alive Jim James and his hirsute Louisville rockers are the kings of the festival circuit. story by Sean L. Maloney
photo by lucas hardison
There’s an unexpected stranger draping
his arms across our shoulders, shouting in our ears. We can feel his beer spittle splatter against our cheeks, his armpits sweating down our backs. ¶ Usually, this sort of uninvited encroachment on personal space would be unwelcome, but we’re in a field in rural Tennessee with 70,000 other people at the annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, the sun has set on a sweaty day of over-consumption—music and, ahem, otherwise—and even our agoraphobia is no match for the overwhelming good vibes coming from the crowd and stage. The sound erupting from three-story-tall speakers is pure, epic Southern rock—but this is not your dad’s Southern rock. This is the sound of the new South, the South often ignored by coastal elites and cable news—because intelligent people doing creative things will never sell as much shampoo as a hillbilly hatemonger running for city council in the sticks, and it’s always easier to harp on centuriesold stereotypes than to get past them. No, this is the Southern rock continuum as written by Southerners themselves, where country, soul and rock ‘n’ roll aren’t genres, but synonyms; where Big Star, R.E.M. and Slint hold as much sway as Black Oak Arkansas and Skynyrd; where the humidity is so thick everything is half-a-beat behind; where sonic experimentation is part of the job description rather than an aesthetic choice. On their latest album, Circuital, My Morning Jacket—who’ve always understood that regionalism shouldn’t equate to parochialism— have taken a grand step in synthesizing all of the tension and release, joy and sadness, excitement and wariness that defines the South circa now into one of the best albums of the year, and certainly the best album of their career. As the banks of stage lights swirl and shift—a light show as entertaining as it is transparent, a support player rather than the show itself—and five sweat-drenched dudes attack their instruments with an ungodly intensity, it’s hard to not look like a slackjawed yokel as you take in the epic spectacle. We give in, throw our fists in the air, lean way back, join in the chorus of Circuital’s “Holding on to Black Metal” and let out a deep, primal “oh-whoa-oh-yay-oh” in unison with our single-serving friend, because the dude has a point: My Morning Jacket just might be the greatest festival band on Earth. Over the course of their decade-plus career, the Louisville, KY, quintet has risen from a couple of kids in a grain silo on the outskirts of indie rock to one of the biggest rock bands in America. And while it might be easy to write them off as having gone “mainstream”—that mostdamning of indie community slurs—it’s nowhere near that simple: My Morning Jacket’s success has always stemmed from their willingness to stretch their music beyond the expected, to push their own musical boundaries. Nope, they did not dive headlong into the mainstream, making concessions to the commercial decrees of the day. Like some grand engineering project, My Morning Jacket have actually diverted the mainstream, siphoning off fans and followers from the staid waters of commercial rock into a surging tributary of their own creation. Theirs is a motley following—young and old, hippies, heshers and hipsters—built one show at a time over years of nonstop touring, not through massive marketing campaigns or industry machinations. Now that following, assembled over five studio albums and thousands upon thousands of miles, has reached a critical mass. It’s no longer an isolated pocket outside the mainstream; in fact, it might just be subsuming the mainstream itself.
Circuital hit No. 5 on the Billboard album charts—the band’s highest ranking yet, fueled (sorta-ironically, but unsurprisingly) by huge support from indie record stores nationwide. Their album release show was filmed and directed by legendary auteur Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, HBO’s Mildred Pierce), featured a guest appearance from R&B provocateur Erykah Badu, and was streamed live on YouTube to thousands of international viewers. For all intents and purposes, My Morning Jacket are exploding— Circuital is by far their biggest album yet, and the media circus surrounding these five guys has become intense. The shows are bigger, the production grander and the crowds larger than at any time in the band’s history. From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem to be one of the craziest times in a musician’s life. But while the boys in My Morning Jacket may be charging full-speed-ahead into uncharted waters, there’s still a modesty and humility that you’d more expect from the baby-band you let crash on your floor last weekend. (Not the one who pooped in your dryer; the one who picked up all the beer cans before you woke up.) And that is the root of their success—despite the maelstrom of lights behind them, the storm of interest surrounding them and the oceans of fans flocking to them, they are just dudes who each night close their eyes, clutch their instru-
“[The music] starts off in a very small, focused way—first just my brain wrapping around it, then all five of our brains wrapping around it.” —Jim James ments and get lost in the world of sound. cool thing about this craziness, this time, is that we all saw it coming,” says guitarist Carl Broemel. “We kind of geared up for a summer tour, which officially in my brain starts tomorrow, by doing three or four festivals and small shows with breaks in between them. We kind of got the machine going—with the crew and the gear and everything—just incrementally.”
Broemel is on the phone from Nashville, TN, and it is the calm before the storm, figuratively and quite literally: Not only is it the last day before the band embarks on a two-month tour of festivals and amphitheaters, but moments after we hang up, the sky will open and golf ball-sized hail will pour down on Music City. Broemel’s been tending to domestic duties—fidgeting with light fixtures, rummaging through the attic—putting everything in order around the house the way pretty much anyone would before leaving home for months. The slow build to the summer tour seems to have worked perfectly; the machine Broemel alluded to above, with the crew and the gear, has expanded exponentially. “I try not to put any definitions on what’s going on,” says drummer Patrick Hallahan, “but it definitely feels wonderful. It feels like we’re in the right place for what we want to do, and with the right people.” Hallahan’s speaking from Milwaukee the next day, his plane barely on the tarmac before he’s on the phone with Cowbell. While My Morning Jacket may lack rock-star attitudes—you are unlikely to meet a nicer group of dudes—they certainly have rock-star schedules. Pinning the band down for this article about this record, for instance, required near-Herculean efforts from managers, publicists, art directors and photographers. And that’s likely because, even as their ma-
photos by Kriech-Higdon
chine has grown and their reach broadened, the band has maintained a hands-on approach, not willing to surrender the communal attitude that launched them to a phalanx of industry-jerk handlers. “[Circuital is] certainly the most involved we’ve ever… I’m trying to think of the right adjective, because we’re involved with every album cycle… I feel like it [required] a level of energy that we had never put into a release before,” explains Hallahan. “I wouldn’t call it chaotic. It’s definitely busier than we’ve ever been in terms of the amount of energy, the amount of set-up we’ve been doing alongside management and the record label. It’s just been a very custom-tailored record launch, and in order to do that, everybody’s got to be all hands on deck.” Call it a labor of love, a love the band imbues in its ever-expanding universe. “We’ve got a great group of people around us that are really excited about the record and really giving it their all,” says main Morning Jacket Jim James, the big man with the angelic voice, speaking on the phone from Chicago, prepping for day two of the tour. “It’s just crazy to think about people releasing records—so many more people than just the band are involved, and the record kind of becomes this big project that everybody is working on.” It’s a heady concept, especially since—even as My Morning
Jacket have evolved from the quiet, country-ambient band of 1999’s The Tennessee Fire and 2001’s At Dawn to the hirsute fest rockers of today—each record begins as a communion of sorts between the band members, with Circuital being even more so than their previous efforts. Recorded in a church gymnasium last summer in the band’s hometown of Louisville—a first for the group—Circuital is the band’s most natural and organic record to date, done with minimal demo-ing and maximum collaboration. The result is an album of unprecedented fluidity and feeling—and an album that was born ready for the road. “Every record is a close and personal experience for us, because we make it in a very intimate way,” says James. “Originally, it’s just for the five of us. But at the end of the day, we know we’ll be trying to play it for people out on the road, and hoping people can connect to it, too.” It’s this dichotomy that’s at the heart of the My Morning Jacket paradox: the band that makes it big playing by its own rules. “I think that’s where both feelings come from,” says James, “of [the music] feeling really intimate, but, when you see it with a bunch of people, hopefully feeling big, too. It does start off in a very small, focused way—first just my brain wrapping around it, then all five of our brains wrapping around it, trying to figure out what it all means and how to best do it.” And once that’s been determined, thousands of rabid, spitting, sweating fans wrap their brains around it. And that’s where a bit of musical magic becomes an act of grand alchemy.
never really know how it’s going to turn out,” says Hallahan of the process of translating a record to the stage. “The recorded realm and the live realm are so different.” It’s not surprising that My Morning Jacket view their songs not as mere products, but as children, nor is it so shocking that they see their stage show as recess. “It’s sorta like releasing new kids onto a playground,” says Hallahan of working new songs into the rotation, “where the older kids know the rules and know how they exist with each other. You put this new flock in there and you want to see how they play together, and if they make good sets.” You could say the new kids and the old kids are making fast friends,
or the rarity that they’re into. I mean, that’s really lucky. We’re fucking lucky. It gives us a ton of license to keep exploring and keep figuring it out, rather than having to replicate some magic that’s gone.” In Broemel’s mind, a record is a document of a moment of time: “When you make records, you’re capturing a time and you can’t redo it. You can’t go back. There’s just no way to do it and have it resonate at all.” It’s this constant progression that makes My Morning Jacket—on record and onstage—such a consistently exciting and engaging band. While many artists are content to find a formula and run it into the ground, My Morning Jacket take each new benchmark of success as a jump-off for further exploration. Each album has its own feel, its own creative space, that is built upon its predecessor without recycling or rehashing the previous efforts. Circuital sounds different from Evil Urges, which —Carl Broemel sounds different from Z, which sounds different from It Still Moves, and so on. Yet there is a conadopted with equal vigor by band and audience alike. tinuity and consistency of vision that ties the entire catalog together. “These new songs are a blast,” says Hallahan. “[They’ve] just opened Likewise, the My Morning Jacket show you see this year will be differa whole new realm of possibilities for us. The songs were written live, ent from the one you saw last year, and different from the year before anyway, so the transition to the live realm was pretty fluid, but to see that—from the setlist to the light show, the evolution is constant. them mix in with the old songs so well has been a real treat.” “There’s always a transition period with new music,” adds Broemel, music should always be first, but the lights are a really “and for whatever reason it seems like the transition was really short great part of the concert experience,” says James of the with this record. That’s kind of like the dream, you know?” band’s evolving conception of the live experience. “Our lighting diWhat’s more of a dream is that My Morning Jacket find themselves rector Mark gets really keyed into the music. He loves the music and in that sweet spot where the fanbase is as stoked about the new songs becomes another member of the band each night, playing along with as the band is. us. Same with our sound guy Ryan; he’s playing along with us, too, “I realize… that there are people who are fans of, like, certain reyou know? cords, a few of [our] records,” says Broemel, “but a majority of the “And at the end of the day, that’s all of our mission statement and people are just as excited to hear the new stuff as they are the old stuff our goal—the music is first. And that is kind of what we pride our-
“A majority of [our fans] are just as excited to hear the new stuff as they are the old stuff. I mean, that’s really lucky. We’re fucking lucky.”
selves on: being a live band… and it’s fun to support that with a really cool light show or really cool imagery to tie it all together.” For instance, aforementioned lighting director Mark Janowitz pushes the band outside of their comfort zone. “He’s always coming to us with really brilliant ideas,” says Broemel. “Sometimes we’re like ‘I dunno, man,’ and then we see something and we’re like, ‘Dude, you were right—that is so cool!’ We’re just really lucky to have people like that, people who spend hours and days dreaming stuff up to make the show look a certain way, and then we can just relax and play.” Which is how the band prefers it. Or, as Hallahan puts it: “We love it. We love it, we love it, we love it—that’s where we’re happy. Put the instruments in our hands and, well, we’re happy people.” When it comes right down to it, it’s this enthusiasm—for their work, for their team, for their art—that bubbles over into the crowd and is sent right back to the stage, creating a positive-feedback loop between band and fans. This is a band that refuses to rest on their laurels and an audience that would be sorely disappointed if they did—a rare relationship in these days of carefully focus-grouped pop stars and constant/immediate repackaging of even the most marginal successes. This is the rare band that thrives on expanding their own horizons, broadening their audiences in the most natural and organic ways, and still staying humble despite their wild success. “I love looking out there and seeing all sorts of different kinds of people, and different age groups,” says James. “Just hearing from different people, hearing from kids, hearing from teenagers, hearing from older people—I’m just always really thrilled that anybody wants to listen to us. [Laughs] I’m just grateful for whoever comes out.” My Morning Jacket will be on tour through August and play the Austin City Limits in September. More at mymorningjacket.com. photos by Kriech-Higdon
We’re back in that
field, back at Bonnaroo, and we’ve got a new friend, jumping up and down, swinging her hair, freaking out as the guitar solo to “One Big Holiday”— from 2001’s It Still Moves—hits a fever pitch. Again, this random stranger has a point: There is something about acres upon acres of people singing “If we holler loud and all make our way, we’d all live one big holiday” that will renew your faith in rock ‘n’ roll, in the music industry, hell, in humanity in general. In an era of divisive self-interest and isolationist discourse, the power of communal experience—of collective release—is more important than it’s ever been. And while industry analysts are quick to scream that the sky is falling, and that music is dying, it’s clear to us—to those in the audience, raising our voices in a field of strangers—that, if anything, the music is more alive than ever. But all the market analysis in the world won’t do you any good; spreadsheets, SoundScans and social media surveys will never capture what makes music work. Art is the domain of artists, not accountants, and at least someone, somewhere, knows that. And as the final strains of feedback ring out, the road crew takes the stage and the lights come up, we notice that our newest friend is gone. But as we slowly shuffle out amid a crowd still shocked, still shaking their heads in awe of the spectacle they’d just witnessed, we see a familiar head popping up over the crowd, jumping up and down, unable and unwilling to rein in her enthusiasm for what she just saw. And as she bounces through the crowd, doubtless on her way to a late, late night and a groggy, foggy morning, we can hear her refrain: “The good guys are winning! The good guys are winning!” Indeed, friend, it seems that they are.
HEAT UP YOUR SUMMER CLASSIC TWO-DISC
ALBUMS ON SALE NOW!
new music reviewed and graded for your aural pleasure
The Right Fit?
Travis Egedy’s latest mash of flashback electronica is predictably inconsistent
Thee Physical Lovepump United
hee Physical, the second widely distributed album from Denver-based producer Pictureplane, is a dirty, murky, delirious mess. There’s a lot going on here, and it all tends to happen at the same time. Take the first few seconds of album opener “Body Mod”: brightly chintzy house piano stabs in a faltering rhythmic loop; a crudely cut-and-pasted, instantly recognizable hip-hop vocal snippet (the same sample that powered Fatboy Slim’s block-rockin’ 1998 remix of Wildchild’s “Renegade Master”); some churning, fuzz-toned synth throbs; a pinging Nintendo bassline; a distant, warped, divaesque wail. All this hangs in vague, uneasy suspension for half a minute; then come the manic rushing snares, jump-starting a syncopated, jacking breakbeat that suddenly harnesses everything into a tight lockgroove, making the next three-plus minutes feel as propulsive and inevitable as they are disorienting. It’s a striking, effective collage and—better—a bluntly obvious dancefloor killer. It’s also, by some distance, the most immediate thing here, though not necessarily a misleading introduction.
Like just about everybody making electronic music at this point, Pictureplane’s Travis Egedy is an unabashed nostalgist: every element of “Body Mod,” like the rest of Thee Physical, hearkens more or less explicitly to the popular dance music of the 1990s— diva house, Hi-NRG, hip-house, rave, big beat, drum ‘n’ bass, two-step garage—not coincidentally the last time, until recently, that electronica had anything to do with this country’s cultural mainstream. But he’s not, by any means, a revivalist—at least in any straightforward sense. Besides slap-chopping all of these styles together in an ecstatically sloppy, anti-formalist jumble, just about every sound that passes through Egedy’s decks comes out grimy, roughed-up and sonically distressed, recalling the
same impulses fueling the amorphous chillwave movement. Adding to the general sense of woozy bewilderment and stylistic abstraction, most of these grooves are surprisingly slow—closer to dubstep than disco, tempo-wise—rendering them less oddly danceable than they feel like they should be, though allowing for some thrilling double-time freakout moments. Throw in occasional bouts of wobbly, manifestly non-mechanical imprecision— like the just-slightly-off bass breakdown midway through “Black Nails”—and a certain political/ critical subtext starts to emerge. If all electronic music functions, on some level, as a mediation of the endlessly mutable relationship between human and machine, the thrust here seems to be “retain
Familiar Guys Unoriginal U.K. dancepunks Friendly Fires are burning out and fading away T h ough Pala marks a nominal improvement over the dancFriendly Fires
ey Brit trio’s much-hyped 2008 debut, Friendly Fires can’t seem to shake their tragic hamartia: This music feels dated from day one. 2008 sounded an awful lot like 2002 on Friendly Fires, as the pristine production, drum circle percussion and disco yawp vox harkened back to the DFA glory days of LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture. Now, with
the throbbing, emotive heart of ’90s club music, while utterly fraying and distorting its vapid, faceless façade.” For all the mileage Egedy gets from this premise, though, Physical’s best moment is also its most conformist, at least structurally. “Real Is a Feeling,” named for Egedy’s ongoing Denver DJ night, reins in the chaos for a blissful outpouring of grubbily shimmering synth-pop; the album’s sole, shining club anthem. Elsewhere, for better and worse, the album can’t quite decide if it wants to be music for the mind or the body. On the other hand, if “we are all post-physical”—as Egedy intones amidst typically dark, sweaty electronic churn—then perhaps it shouldn’t matter anyway. —K. Ross Hoffman
Pala, 2011 calls to mind that moment in ’08 when neu-disco and nu-rave started getting old. Lead single “Blue Cassette” paraphrases Cut Copy over what sounds like Daft Punk’s “One More Time” being steamrolled in reverse, while “Running Away” blends the production precision of James Murphy with TV on the Radio’s hazy atmospherics, throwing in a Rick Astley synth drumroll and Chromeo-grifted hook for good measure. “Hawaiian Air” especially pushes its luck, recalling Murphy’s very public Brian Eno fetish, and resembling LCD in everything from the mix to the progression and vocal melody (“All My Friends” in particular). Whether reference or rip-off, precious little here sounds fresh. Still, it beats Friendly Fires, the biggest boon of which came by way of inspired remixes from Aeroplane and Air France. Here, the Fire boys do it all by themselves, if only through clearly owed debts: “Hurting” condenses Passion Pit, Discovery and a Toro y Moi sample into a Junior Senior outtake prime for any closet Maroon 5 fan, and the beguiling title track makes for a sultry poolside tryst. Nicking this mid-record twosome will make for the beginnings of a fine summer mix—though you’d do just as well to cut out the copies and reach back to In Ghost Colours, too. —Jakob Dorof
photo by Satoshi Minakawa
Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
World Garage K
Global folk, pop and rock in a blender Three songs into World Garage, Angelo Spencer asks himself, “Am I supposed to play traditional punk-rock songs?” The question is so thoroughly rhetorical that it’s ludicrous. Olympia, WA’s Spencer and his able players swirl a grab-bag of musical ingredients—French vocalisms, African rhythms, Indian tonalities, fabulously distorted guitars, trippy Auto-Tune wormholes—into a delirious global bouillabaisse so rich, lived-in and defiantly alive that it’s difficult to believe it’s seeing release on the same imprint that gave us Karp, Tiger Trap and the Microphones. (Somehow, Yume Bitsu doesn’t seem like quite as much of a stretch.) “Transmission” blares out of control; “Dirty Blues” lives down to its title, an effects pedal-enabled, dog-mean groove looking for trouble; the lightly psychedelic, pealing “3 Herures” proceeds at a horse-trot pace even as it threatens to heave listeners into man-eating weeds. Given all that, who needs three-chord flail and mashed-note twee? —Raymond Cummings Art Brut
Brilliant! Tragic! Cooking Vinyl/ The End
Too common people When you’re a band like Art Brut, it’s hard to keep up the momentum and ethos of a debut like Bang Bang Rock & Roll, to play like you just formed five minutes ago and you’re doing it for the kids. Who can? On their fifth release, there are those moments, like “Clever Clever Jazz,” which could be the cynical, jittery sequel to “Formed a Band,” the short, sharp “Martin Kemp,” which has nothing to do with Spandau Ballet and everything to do with old schoolgirl crushes, and teenage angst anthem “Axl Rose.” Paired once more with producer Frank Black, another former shouter-turned-singer, frontman Eddie Argos is attempting to sing in a rasp that many will compare to Jarvis Cocker, which takes the air out of the proceedings. In other songs, like “Bad Comedian,” a darkly humorous, greeneyed portrait of a man checking out his ex’s new boyfriend online, he evokes a shouted blog post. —Sara Sherr Atari Teenage Riot
Is This Hyperreal? Dim Mak
Taking the power back Just the name alone should command your respect, but there’s so much more to commend about the unhinged and unnerving all-out assault of Berlin’s newly reformed Atari Teenage Riot. Their modus operandi has always been, and still is, pretty simple: wave after wave of relentless digital hardcore mayhem, a bowel-
churning barrage of white noise designed solely to bludgeon the listener into whimpering submission. It’s a twisted, hellish marriage of Teutonic Viking Berserkers rampaging through a club full of gurning Belgian Happy Hardcore fans. But more intense. Apparently, this album is a pointed and scathing diatribe on corporate greed in the Internet age. Not that you’d know it, what with all the Germanic shouting and chainsaw guitars. What rhetoric that does emerge from the tsunami of noise frequently possesses all the political sophistication of the average irate 14-year-old. It frequently borders on the downright cartoonish, but ATR pull it off— just—through their wide-eyed sincerity. Give in to it; resistance is futile. —Neil Ferguson
Strange Negotiations Barsuk
David Bazan vs. God, round two For nearly a decade, David Bazan proselytized for his spiritual beliefs as Pedro the Lion, and the resultant brilliant, often challenging albums earned him a boatload of adoring fans and a press kit crammed with glowing mentions. Five years ago, he retired PTL and began performing under his own name; not long after, he had a messy break-up with God, detailed in his first solo full-length, 2009’s vibrant and chaotic Curse Your Branches. With Strange Negotiations, Bazan continues to ratchet up the intensity (“People,” “Eating Paper”) while focusing his jaundiced eye on exterior as well as interior concerns. On opener “Wolves at the Door,” Bazan rails against the rapacious corporate attitude that has crippled America and our tacit allowance of it, but he doesn’t miss an opportunity to break a commandment and piss off his former employer (“You’re a goddamn fool / and I love you”). While Bazan’s philosophy has shifted, Strange Negotiations shows that his heartfelt message and ability to set it to a compelling soundtrack are completely intact. —Brian Baker Butcher the Bar
For Each a Future Tethered Morr
Charming us softly… very Joel Nicholson’s recorded output suggests that he’s a perfect gentleman. As with 2008’s Sleep at Your Own Speed, the Manchester-based folk-pop auteur doesn’t raise his voice once on his second album, even when addressing cops, drugs, sleep (again—it does, after all, factor regularly in our lives), or the cessation of life. He breathily brushes past the last on “Giant” before launching a bouncy, clarinet-and-mandolin-enhanced interlude that, if only a few hours longer, could easily pass for something by Akron/Family. His restraint can be a bit much. Without its deeply textured, polychromatic arrangements, we might be tempted to stomp on the album’s toes, just in the hope of getting a response. Nicholson’s sense of humor provides another counterweight.
It’s hard to resist somebody who begins a song with “The earth’s an ugly face / a great ghastly place,” as he does on “Blood for the Breeze.” —Rod Smith
Galactic Melt Ghostly International
The tuna: not so good At first listen, it would be easy to find nothing but funky cold nostalgia in New Jersey musician/composer Seth Haley. There’s the old-school computer games, the jarring rhythmic heft that Haley has self-titled “mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk,” and the conceptual aspect of Galactic Melt that focuses on the planet’s first robot astronaut. “VHS Sex” and “Cathode Girls,” in particular, come across like brighter versions of New Order’s flat-lined soul. For all the chilly vintage equipment and stilted ’80s ideals, there’s something mussedup and unfussy about Com Truise’s look backwards that sounds altogether too present, a set of patchwork notions that make the likes of “Hyperlips” and “Brokendate” freaky, fresh and new, despite the fact that Haley runs titles together like he’s Prince or something. —A.D. Amorosi Cults
See you at the chickie run Ah, young love. It’s the essence of Cults, the duo that found its way to a Sony imprint in less than a year. Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin’s music is a winning formula, stolen from Phil Spector’s lunchbox and fed to Brian Wilson, who summarily purges the goods into a tin bucket for production purposes. A small dose of new wave and electro/hip-hop beats meet twist-able pop, finger-snaps that sound like cap guns and singsong girl-group grooves. Follin’s voice aims for Dusty Springfield and Mary Weiss’s greatness, but there are moments when her insecurity is downright pathetic. “I tried so hard to be happy,” she laments on the doo-wop “You Know What I Mean.” Even when Follin asserts herself to her good-for-nothing heartthrob, she reeks of naiveté. On “Oh My God,” she proclaims, “I can run away and leave you anytime.” But honey, then what would you sing about? —Jeanne Fury Fountains of Wayne
Sky Full of Holes Yep Roc
Still got it going on The poets laureate of the Northeast Corridor, Fountains of Wayne have painted themselves into a well-furnished corner. They have few peers when it comes to crafting hook-filled pop songs, and they’ve mastered the art of reducing a life to rubble in the space of a well-turned couplet. “The Summer Place,” which kicks off their fifth album, Sky Full of Holes, is a characteristically acid depiction of middle-class
disaffection, but there’s something cold and a little cruel about the precision with which they fillet their targets. The aimless entrepreneurs in “Richie and Reuben” more or less have it coming, but it’s hard to find too much glee in their repeated failures, no matter how cleverly sketched. With its majestic piano octaves and soaring harmonies, “Cold Comfort Flowers” opens up more melancholic territory further explored in “Cemetery Guns.” Even the touring lament “A Road Song” works some wistfulness in between rhyming “Cracker Barrel” with “Will Ferrell,” and “Radio Bar” observes dive-bar denizens from the next stool over rather than through a plate-glass window. It’s not as insanely catchy as their halfmasterpiece Welcome Interstate Managers, but Sky finds a few spurs off the main road still well worth exploring. —Sam Adams
Last Summer Merge
Fiery Furnaces countess goes solo If there’s an adjective that encapsulates Last Summer, it’s “bittersweet.” This solo debut from NYCbased spazz-rockers Fiery Furnaces’ sister half plays like a perpetually paying-out slot machine on the top floor of a crumbling casino: detachedly melancholic short-fiction sketches couched in the kind of vaguely hallucinatory, sublimely addictive melodies the Furnaces have been inching towards since 2007’s Widow City. Disco-fied and strewn with funk-guitar hiccups, “Roosevelt Island” tracks transients hooked on smack and the rattling rumble of subway-train rides, while the sleepy countenance of “One-Month Marathon”—laconic strum, tambourine shakes, two-finger tapped bongos—belies a swath of casually psychotic imagery; it’s like skimming the diary of a victim of child sexual abuse. When Friedberger allows sunlight to illuminate the worlds of her charges—check the skeletal, cowbell ‘n’ handclapcharged clop of “Early Earthquake”—it’s as though the XX-chromosome George Saunders of frazzlepop just can’t help herself: she’s just got to dole out a happy ending or two. —Raymond Cummings
David Comes to Life Matador
Mad, bad and dangerous to know Canadian punk veterans Fucked Up are known for their self-destructive tendencies—the unmarketable band name, the dumbass Nazi imagery on impossible-to-find 7-inches, the lead singer who strips down and cuts himself on stage, then gets friendly on Fox News’ Red Eye. But this band of people who apparently don’t even like each other that much, who seem so allergic to success and stature, cannot
It’s Australian for Newgrass Down under roots stars put their spin on Americana sounds
fter making a splash on the Australian roots music scene, mandolin player Kym WarThe Greencards ner and vocalist/bassist Carol Young relocated to The Brick Album Austin, TX, and started the Greencards. The quartet, which darling street includes Americans Tyler Andal on fiddle and flat-picking guitar champ Carl Miner, blends country, bluegrass, folk and jazz for roots music with a poignant edge. Young’s soulful country vocals are the highlight of “Loving You Is the Only Way to Fly,” which recalls the early work of the Everly Brothers, and “Mrs. Madness,” a jazzy blues number with a taste of ragtime in its syncopated rhythm. Special guest Sam Bush adds his mandolin to the mournful “Make It Out West,” an ironic look at the hardships of life on the road. Vince Gill duets with Young on the intensely romantic “Heart Fixer.” The tune has a hint of Tex-Mex in its melody, with Miner’s guitar weaving in and out of the gorgeous harmonies Gill and Young lay down. The band’s understated virtuosity is evident on every track, especially on the two instrumentals; “Adelaide,” a Celtic-flavored reel that shows off the work of Andal’s fiddle and Miner’s guitar, and “Tale of KangaRIO,” a lilting blend of bluegrass and bossa nova featuring Warner’s lyrical mandolin work. The album was tracked live with all the players in one room, and if they didn’t get a take, they did it again, just like in the days before digital recording. The result is an album that sparkles with the energy of an onstage performance. —j. poet
run from their latest fuck-up: David Comes to Life is a great album. Like modern-classic great. It’s what they’ve been building up to for the last decade: a sweaty, magnetic barrage of proggy arrangements, muddy guitars and Damian Abraham’s
grouched-out sing-along lyrics. Everything comes together on heavy-hearted anthems like “Serve Me Right” and “Running on Nothing,” and nobody gets you shouting “I’m dying on the inside! Dying on the inside!” like these guys. —Patrick Rapa
Gardens & Villa
Gardens & Villa
Soundscape architects Five dudes from Santa Barbara make their debut with a band name that recalls a Home Depot department. But Gardens & Villa are far removed from banal homeowner duties. Their property is brimming in an atmosphere of coolly coiffed British new wave and Summer of Love psych vibes, the latter most likely a result of all the damn California sun nourishing their garden. But along with taut bass lines, crisp snares and synths straight out of a John Hughes flick lies a decidedly kooky side à la Kaleidoscope-era Siouxsie and the Banshees. “There’s a 24-hour buffet with a fountain of chocolate for the fruits of your heart,” sings Chris Lynch on “Cruise Ship,” a Love Boat theme with DayGlo schmaltz. Though the album hardly sounds fresh, it gets points for the crystalline chimes, pastoral woodwinds and high-pitched vocals that save it from being tossed in with the ubiquitous ’80s crap permeating popular music. —Jeanne Fury
Kids on a Crime Spree
The Ladybug Transistor
We Love You So Bad
He says goodbye, we say hello Indie-pop lifer Mario Hernandez has already recorded as Ciao Bella (with Jamie McCormick) and From Bubblegum to Sky, but as Kids on a Crime Spree he gets a little more dirt on him than usual, and the result is more becoming than ever. He plies the same handful of Phil Spector/Archies/ Ramones/Orange Juice tricks—cutie-pie melodies with words to tweely match (it’s called “Sweet Tooth” for a reason), head-nodding beats and spyflick fuzz bass (even the title of “To Mess With Dynamite” evokes a circa-’66 night at the movies), fey pseudo-English vocals and semi-crunchy guitar (“Dead Ripe”). Normally, this sort of thing is par for the course on Slumberland’s behalf. But even in a year of big steps forward from Crystal Stilts and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, this EP’s so nonstop it deserves its own spotlight. —Michaelangelo Matos
Clutching Stems Merge
A somber but hopeful funeral for a friend The Ladybug Transistor’s sonic path over the past 16 years has shifted with the band’s rotating membership. Under the constant tutelage of founder Gary Olson, LT have embraced sugary psychedelia and varying degrees of baroque indie pop, but Clutching Stems exhibits a lush simplicity and dark undercurrent. Stems is LT’s first album since the death of longtime drummer San Fadyl, a tragedy that nearly ended the band. Instead, they channel their grief through brilliantly spartan pop that bristles and soothes like a summit meeting of the Smiths, Lou Reed and Burt Bacharach. The album’s lyrics betray a palpable sense of loss and pain, but often balanced against an upbeat musical accompaniment; Olson sings “I left my heart at the station / You move away with the leaving train” on “Fallen and Falling,” but the soundtrack is more jaunty than dour.
Perfect Sound for 44 Minutes Pursesnatchers keep mannered indie-rock classicism alive
f Pursesnatchers are enamored of anything, it’s
the thrill of forward motion; their fluorescent guitars pace and tremble and flutter; the drums combust in slow-motion; Pursesnatchers Doug Marvin’s wan, gliding non-sequiturs slice like scalpels even A Pattern Language as they charm. The Brooklyn foursome’s sweet-spot debut evokes Uninhabitable sustained tugs on heartstrings and fishing lines, space shuttles Mansions rocketing into the clear blue yonder, arrows loose in flight. Or
think of line-drives, home runs, fouls: the bumptiously sprawling “Baseball on the Radio” equates a romance with America’s favorite pastime, experienced blind. As with most albums written by twenty somethings, love and nostalgia are Language’s stock in trade; the roiling “Forever Overhead” and surging “Mechanical Rabbits” celebrate both in one fell swoop. There’s a woozy, panoramic whirl to songs like these, and to “Kissena Park,” where the pace dips to anemic carousel-speed and entreaties like “We could split a can of beer / and linger awhile” feel like the surest advice in the world. But Language is at its best when its starry-eyed narrators wander into duplicitous disarray. Witness how “Third Body Problem” spills its bizarre lust triangulations into glistening, ascending-chord freefall, revealing two male suitors as playthings in their beloved’s Machiavellian imaginings. Consider Language a triumph of compromised linearity, the sedated, mid-tempo lovechild of Is This It-era Strokes and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One-era Yo La Tengo; when it’s playing, you’re as good as theirs. —Raymond Cummings
Elsewhere, the lyrical message and supporting music is more synchronous—the sweet sadness of “Ignore the Bell,” the exquisite melancholy jangle of “Breaking Up on the Beat”—but ultimately Clutching Stems finds the Ladybug Transistor in a quietly hopeful frame of mind. —Brian Baker
Efrim Manuel Menuck
Efrim Manuel Menuck Plays “High Gospel” Constellation
Matt Sullivan writes “record review” Even as Godspeed You! Black Emperor reunited last year after a seven-year hiatus, band founder Efrim Manuel Menuck’s other band, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, has now been active longer and put out more albums. So, with that it comes as little surprise that Menuck’s first solo album, Efrim Manuel Menuck Plays “High Gospel”, sounds a lot like Silver Mt. Zion at times. Most obvious is Menuck’s quivering and nasal vocals, the surefire mark of authenticity on any SMZ record. But where that band grew from brooding chamber music to big exercises in dynamics, Menuck’s mostly in a meditative mood on “High Gospel”. Half the album leans on hypnotic layers akin to the tape-manipulated parts of GY!BE recordings, while the other half finds him getting more personal than usual. While it’s tough to decipher the lyrics that appear after the three-minute mark, “Kaddish for Chesnutt” mourns friend and late bandmate Vic Chesnutt. But the best track is the closer, where Menuck celebrates fatherhood, repeating the lyric “Look at my boy / Look at him smile / I am no longer a motherless child” as gleefully as you’ve ever heard the post-rock gloomster sound. —Matt Sullivan Motor City Drum Ensemble
Dispense with the pleasantries What, exactly, is the point of mix CDs? More to the point, what’s the point of the glut of rote dance mixes churned out to a frequently unsuspecting and undiscerning public? Having sat (“sat” being the operative word) through Motor City Drum Ensemble’s tasteful but deeply dull DJ-Kicks set, this reviewer is none the wiser. It’s not so much as it’s awful—it’s not—it’s just that it’s so unremittingly restrained, which by rights, should be anathema to any self-respecting DJ. Is it too much to demand at least a hint of audacious genre-mashing, a sense of playful experimentation, and a handful of peaks and highs? It can, and has, been done—look to
the likes of Coldcut, Optimo or Soulwax for definitive proof. This, however, never really kicks into gear. There are occasional glimpses of greatness— a touch of Sun Ra, the skittering, mercurial afro beat of Tony Allen, but overall it’s a distinctly underwhelming mix of the lighter end of silky smooth Chicago House, and as such, amounts to so much aural wallpaper. And no amount of pills, poppers or powder will change that. —Neil Ferguson
Trouble in Mind
The sounds of yesterday, today The easy way out is by comparison. Seattle trio the Nightbeats make no secret of their influences and affiliations. The band’s ’60s-revival psych impulse comes free with purchase of Nuggets, and to say the members are probably 13th Floor Elevators fans is an understatement. Singer Lee Blackwell yelps like Jack White or Davila 666’s Carlito Davila; his screaming guitar solos evoke a more on-this-planet Human Eye. But even as the Beats stretch “The Other Side” past the seven-minute mark, losing themselves in a slithering surf riff and their album’s echoey just-right-fi production, they never once lose their balance. Opener “Puppet on a String” quickly launches into a supersize hook and accompanying ahh-ahh gang vocal. Even Blackwell’s crazed guitar spurts are instantly hummable (also, not that crazed, after all). Nobody’s going to accuse the Night Beats of pioneering anything. The band, clearly, isn’t ready to step outside the garage. But they’re in good company there, anyway. —Bryan C. Reed Old 97’s
The Grand Theatre Volume Two New West
Twang-pop tunesmiths get a third wind On record, at least, Old 97’s had been coasting for a decade. 2005’s Alive and Wired gave a taste of the band’s tremendous stage presence, but the studio efforts on either side of it felt like halfhearted excuses for touring when Rhett Miller’s solo schedule permitted. The Grand Theatre Volume One, released in October, was a step forward, with a solid mix of twang and pop, but with a title like that, it was only a matter of waiting for the other shoe to fall. So, here it is: Nine albums in, Volume Two gets closer than ever to capturing their manic live energy and camaraderie, as Miller and guitarist Ken Bethea sneer and teeter through “The Actor” and “Bright Spark (See What I Mean).” And while you
can always count on bassist Murry Hammond for a weepie or two—“How Lovely All It Was” graciously complies—the spirited “Whiteport” finds him yodeling in joy instead. Can’t blame him. —M.J. Fine
All Things Bright and Beautiful Universal Republic
Whitebread and roses In your ongoing search for all-purpose summer jams, you could scarcely do worse than Owl City’s latest, All Things Bright and Beautiful. The good news is that Adam Young—the one-man band/synth pad aficionado behind the municipal nom de plume—has abandoned his cheap, imitation-crab take on Postal Service electronics and Ben Gibbard vocals that made Owl’s 2009 major label debut such a hit (Billboard #1 “Fireflies” even cribbed lyrics from Gibbard’s ancient bedroom side project, All-Time Quarterback). The bad news is that he’s replaced it with yet cheesier lyrics to fill the boxes beneath the profile pics of wayward Warped Tour teens (“Reality’s a lovely place, but I wouldn’t wanna live there”), asphyxial layers of sterile synths (try not gagging on the bittersweet symphony of “Dreams Don’t Turn to Dust”), and many gauche, focus-grouped mashups of hip-hop cool and Disney Channel poptimism. Recommended only if you’ve thoroughly worn out your 180-gram vinyl of the last Bieber album. —Jakob Dorof Pontiak
Comecrudos EP Thrill Jockey
Band of brothers goes road trippin’ Pontiak don’t make things easy. The Virginiabased band, made up of siblings Van, Lain and Jennings Carney, fits into any number of boxes while still managing to roam free. Bluesy, doomy, fuzzy, folksy—check all that apply, and leave room for others. Further complicating things is Pontiak’s overwhelming release history: five full-lengths in five years, with a penchant for limited-edition vinyl. Comecrudos, the band’s first EP, untangles the mess a bit. It’s four tracks (labeled “parts”), spread over 25 minutes, conceived during a drive the brothers took from Phoenix to Texas’ Big Bend. True to the landscape that inspired it, the EP is both sprawling and intimate. “Part I” is eight minutes of panicky drone that gives way to Floydian folk (“Part II”) before “Part III” finds a way to knot both: building an elastic groove into a creepy texture, then laying vocals over top for comfort. The Carneys don’t want your love; they want your undivided attention. —Michael Pollock
Go With Me Hardly Art
Beary Unnecessary Teddybears overtly commercial ambition leaves plenty to be desired
e have entered a new Golden Age for
pop music as an irritant, where the most successful musicians on the FM band tend to Devil’s Music take a very simplistic, careerist approach to extending their brand. Artists like Ke$ha and Rick Ross pummel their lisBig Beat/ teners into submission through repetition. What critics and Atlantic industry observers have taken to labeling as the “earworm effect” has proven to be extremely divisive: There’s an increasingly growing disconnect between what people actually enjoy and what they’re able to rationalize as “good” music. How you digest the sounds of Swedish trio Teddybears—who bathed frothy dance tracks in irony to great effect on 2006’s Soft Machine—depends on your vantage point: They’re either geniuses or pariahs. Or, perhaps, a bit of both. They’ve certainly pulled out all of the stops with guest artists on Devil’s Music, which features contributions from B.O.B. (who was added to the rerecorded and resequenced U.S. version of the album), the Flaming Lips and, on “Cho Cha,” Cee-Lo Green and the B-52s. It’s all colorful, if a bit gimmicky. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Teddybears paying homage to spiritual forefathers Kraftwerk on a pair of drab instrumental tracks, “Glow in the Dark” and “Cisum Slived.” Devil’s Music is much more successful when Teddybears zero in on the essential attributes of their collaborators and amplify them slightly with goofy beats and samples. “Rocket Scientist” features Eve’s best verse ever: “I keep it cool like Eskimo chicks on Discovery Channel.” Robyn—who guests on “Cardiac Arrest”—is much better when the Åhlund brothers are ghostwriting her lyrics (as on last year’s Body Talk), too. Of course, all of Devil’s Music has a brilliant future as video game music, commercials and Entourage soundtracks, but it’s high time to break the formula with more sincerity and less bullshit. —Nick Green Teddybears
photo by chrissy piper
Seapony, you’ll be a seahorse soon Every aspect of Seapony is elegant in its simplicity. The Seattle trio without a drummer has the feel of a perfect triangulate that’s cutting and precise. Precision is a large part of their economy. Songs fall under the three-minute mark. They use a maximum of three chords on each of their 12 breathless major key songs. Maximal minimalism, too, figures into their lyrics. No, “Dreaming” isn’t exactly a haiku, but at six lines that say all that Jen Weidl can say, it’s damn close. There is the feeling (or criticism) that the songs all sound too similar, and stringently follow the stricture of sharp verse-chorus-verse. Not really. There are just enough slips of sentimental surf pop (“Into the Sea”) and haunting reminiscence (“I Never Would”) that remove Go With Me from a run-in with non-emotion. Danny Rowland’s fuzz guitars borrow from shoegaze, and their taut steadiness takes liberally from Young Marble Giants. Sounds like heaven, really. —A.D. Amorosi Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
From Africa With Fury: Rise Knitting Factory
Bless the rains down in Africa As if being the youngest son of legendary Nigerian afrobeat-er Fela Kuti and becoming the de facto leader of his late father’s band at the age of 14 (and probably dealing with band members enraged at nepotism) isn’t enough pressure, listeners of From Africa With Fury: Rise are being asked to get up and dance to the misfortunes of Africa. Dude’s got the musical interpretation of the woes of an entire continent on his shoulders! Misfortune is definitely a driving force here, but so is the theme of perseverance. It can be heard in “Mr. Big Thief,” a song tackling the topic of corruption, yet sounding upbeat and optimistic in its distillation of funk, afrobeat, jazz and ’70s soul. Where men of less sturdy constitutions wallow in grief and helplessness and curl up in the fetal position, Kuti and his charges are sweating out compositions of resilience that take a stand in the arenas of opinion and dancefloor hook-ups. —Kevin Stewart-Panko She Wants Revenge
Five Seven Music
We want a reprieve Along with Adam Bravin’s programming prowess and elegantly tailored arrangements, Justin Warfield’s twisted lyrics and creamy baritone carried She Wants Revenge through 2007 dark-dance placeholder This Is Forever with enough momentum to often make them seem like more than the sum of their ’80s influences. Easily their most focused album to date, the
duo’s third is also their least exciting. Part of the problem lurks in Valleyheart’s premise. A paean to their beloved San Fernando Valley, the album starts out all sunny. Oops! It’s not that SWR do “uplifting” poorly: the likes of “Take the World” and “Must Be the One” might have kept Simple Minds going long enough to get produced by Brian Eno. Still, bad fit. Even clunkier is that when they finally bring the darkness, it’s too little, too late—especially the former. Nobody with so much sickness in their souls wants comparisons to Peter Murphy’s solo work. —Rod Smith
They Might Be Giants
All kidding aside Brooklyn’s esteemed and eclectic pop duo has been putting out more music for kids than adults in the last 10 years, so fans old enough to feed themselves have a right be skeptical whenever They come waltzing back. On that point, rest assured: Join Us is a worthy, if unsurprising, entry in the TMBG prime canon. Mostly the lyrics are weirdly funny, the music is weirdly catchy and the subjects are weirdly dark and weird. “Can’t Keep Johnny Down” and “You Probably Get That a Lot” are the big rock numbers. Banksy and Anonymous get shouts on a silly party tune called “Celebration.” “Old Pine Box” starts with a percussion bed of ticking clocks, and sings wistfully of punching cops and ditching your car in a field… that’s one that’s gonna take some contemplation. And that’s what TMBG do best: putting puzzling words to peppy music and letting you take your best guesses. Sometimes the answers are obvious; while there’s no parental advisory sticker, you’ll probably wanna keep the kids away from “When Will You Die.” —Patrick Rapa Various Artists
Rave On Buddy Holly Fantasy/Concord
Even the Kid Rock cover doesn’t suck Buddy Holly, who would have been 75 this year, was the first to prove that skinny guys in glasses could be rock stars. Because he made his guitar revolutions look so easy (all with a smile) is why his music inspires generations of punks, hippies, cowboys and indie kids. Paul McCartney, playing the very music that made him want to form a band in the first place, sounds recharged on “It’s So Easy.” Fiona Apple and Jon Brion provide Everly Brothers-like harmonies on “Everyday.” Cee-Lo Green is an unrecognizable chameleon on “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care.” Karen Elson, Jenny O. and She & Him provide a sweet, pink-frosted girl group sheen on their contributions. Nick Lowe, the Black Keys and
Odd Present Hip-hop provocateur Tyler, the Creator stops making sense
ow hype is a double-edged sword, right? It
lands money, fame and sexual favors in one’s pocket, but it doesn’t slay one’s dragons for shit. Moreover, the rapid, Tumblr-fueled ascent of Tyler’s Odd Future hipGoblin hop/skatekid collective has attracted a sort of attention from unlikely corners like the New Yorker and venture capitalist xl Bryce Roberts that Tyler is right to sense in public comments as vaguely pedophilic. This gives Goblin, Tyler’s highly anticipated follow-up to his self-released debut, Bastard, an intriguing tension, but also a brittleness that keeps Tyler’s music and perspective from escaping its self-defeating sullenness. Even then, Tyler proves himself one of his generation’s foremost musical talents. His production can pogo from spare, anarchic fuzzbombs (“Sandwitches”) to somber, depression-gilded dirges (“Fish”), and “Radicals” documents one of the most powerfully caustic tantrums ever recorded in hip-hop. But don’t blame yourself if you find Tyler’s refusal to think through the contradictions in his message frustrating: One minute he’s hating his dad, the next he’s wondering if the dude would ever like him. He hails his “60-deep” posse, yet turns guns on them at the end of the album, embracing an alarming solipsism as the final solution. Being a leader means more than making a living, and a generation of kids need Tyler to lead them away from the confusion and anger he has depicted so well so far. I hope he can one day. —Justin Hampton Tyler, the Creator
the Detroit Cobras are natural stylistic fits, while Patti Smith brings both gravity and optimism to “Words of Love.” And non-fans of Kid Rock will
be pleasantly surprised by his soulful Detroit-byway-of-Bob Seger version of “Well… All Right.” —Sara Sherr
photo by Julian Berman
Within and Without Sub Pop
The heights of lovin’ The cover of Within and Without shows a photo of a prototypical indie rock couple engaged in dewy, tasteful bedroom activity. This scene is fitting, as the music created by one Ernest Greene in his bedroom studio down yonder in Perry, GA, is the sort of understated and soothing—yet soaring—experience that coffeeshop baristas and library science students will throw on to accompany their fumbling in the dark. Essentially a mixture of Air, M83 and various parts of the Trainspotting soundtrack, Greene uses trip-hop influences to sculpt effects-heavy layers into a chillwave comedown. “Amor Fati” is especially reminiscent of “Born Slippy,” whereas “Soft” flutters rhythmically and takes its up-tempo beats from the Polish electrojazz scene. Greene’s melodic simplicity catches up to him in the form of disheartening similarities as the album proceeds, but it’s a safe bet that Within and Without is going to feature in more than a few conception recollections. —Kevin Stewart-Panko
When Saints Go Machine
When frogs drink codeine Be not afraid: Just because Copenhagen’s When Saints Go Machine start out Konkylie sounding like Kermit the Frog’s Enya cover band doesn’t mean that they stick to sounding like Kermit the Frog’s Enya cover band. Nope, it getters weirder. And better. Think the quirky, worldly playfulness of postgenesis Peter Gabriel and the lush electronics of Future Sound of London or the Orb. But with Kermit singing. Okay, it’s not really Mr. Miss Piggy on the mic, but there is a Muppet-invoking vibrato that pops up all over Konkylie that manages to distract from the otherwise entertaining deep electro-pop. There’s a lot of cool things going on here— beautiful strings, intriguing synths, meaty beats—but we just can’t shake the feeling that they let a puppet sip some sizzurp in the vocal booth. —Sean L. Maloney
Foregone Conclusion Viva Voce’s foray into freak folk yields mixed results
The Future Will Destroy You Vanguard
ince 1998, Portland (by way of Alabama) husband and
wife team Kevin and Anita Robinson have split the difference between indie pop and psych rock, eventually paring things down on 2009’s Rose City. After a brief hiatus with country side project Blue Giant (featuring the Decemberists’ Chris Funk, Swords’ Evan Railton and Corin Tucker Band’s Seth Lorinczi), Viva
photo by Sarah Jurado
Black holes and supernovas The parts that make up White Hills are easy enough to pick apart. There’s Hawkwind’s heft, Acid Mothers Temple’s sprawl, a bit of Spacemen 3’s shoegaze and Faust’s adventurousness. But the group’s newest album, H-p1, doesn’t sound like a simple cut-and-paste job—taking cues from these daring bands requires some derring-do on White Hills’ part as well. And that’s what you get on the slow-burn slabs of meticulously layered atmosphere and noise on tracks like “Hand in Hand.” “Paradise” twists and bends a dozen minutes of sonic barbs over a Krautrock rhythm. But then the band melts steel on fuzzed-out riff-monsters like “Upon Arrival,” sounding almost like a Crazy Horse song before rising up into a never-ending fist-pump. This is space-rock through and through, meaning there are plenty of open spaces to find yourself lost in, but those come after more than a few big bangs. —Matt Sullivan
Voce return with the spare-yet-mysterious atmospherics of their fifth full-length, venturing into freak folk territory. The Future Will Destroy You opens with the percolating Feist-y “Plastic Radio” and segues into the Yo La Tengo-like fizz of “Analog Woodland Song,” which is a theme running throughout: getting back to nature/innocence, and the failure to do so in 2011. But once they get there, things aren’t as they seem. Both “Black Mood Ring” and “No Ship Coming In” have the foreboding vibes of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, where no escape is really possible. Anita’s voice and guitar can sound both ethereal and menacing, especially when she asks, “Who’s gonna save you now?” This is punctuated by Kevin’s marching drum beats of the title track and her winding guitar. “Cool Morning Sun” is Future’s country rock hangover. The electro-pop and flamenco guitar of “We Don’t Care” make for one of those songs with a melancholic delivery that convinces you otherwise. “Viking Love Song” is gentle bongwater haze, but not quite hearty enough for Vikings. However, the Neil Young-like guitars on “The Wondering Soul” will tide them over. While at times the tempos are too much of the same, and can drag, the Robinsons have created an impressive canvas of sound. —Sara Sherr
The Wooden Birds
Two Matchsticks Barsuk
Andrew Kenny’s Americana analog porch set Andrew Kenny became a beloved minor indie deity with the synth pop quietude of American Analog Set, but he was simultaneously stockpiling stripped-back folk tunes, which ultimately informed Kenny’s next-generation Americana pop experiment, the Wooden Birds. Their 2009 debut, Magnolia, was subversively understated, Kenny’s singer/songwriter vision of AmAnSet’s edge of consciousness methodology. On the Birds’ sophomore effort, Two Matchsticks, Kenny, AAS cohort Leslie Sisson and new addition Matt Pond flesh out Magnolia’s bones, but maintain a hushed acoustic groove that suggests Iain Matthews, Lindsey Buckingham and Joe Pernice collaborating on demos for a Jimmy Webb tribute. One of Two Matchsticks’ distinguishing factors is the increased profile of Sisson, who provides a Sam Phillips vibe to her contributions (“A Lie”), but Kenny ever-so-slightly bumps up the Birds’ sonic ambition, offering engaging melodies and bouncy rhythms to counter the consistency of the tempo (“Folly Cub,” “Criminals Win”), while drawing on their proven qualities: great songwriting, reserved confidence and a reverence for the folk/ roots sources that inspire them. —Brian Baker
Beyond the Paul
Four classic Simon reissues offer meager extras
Last night a DJ saved my life Something funny happens after the fifth or 20th time hearing a plinking track like “Digital Rain,” from Zomby’s third proper album. Not funny, maybe, but it’s definitely of the emotional variety—a deeper, warmer understanding of the motives behind the bass-beat squirts and farts the British dubstep producer employs, sometimes ad nauseam, on his tracks. Mystery is Zomby’s muse, in an odd way, and Dedication is pregnant with it. Moodier and more serious than 2008’s Gucci Mane-sampling, Gagaendorsed Where Were U in ’92?, the record puts Zomby’s strengths (repetition as catharsis; see “Mosaik”) next to new interests (a lonely piano in “Haunted” and “Basquiat”). Not everything works—Panda Bear collaboration “Things Fall Apart” manages to capture both artists at their most cloying—but nothing hangs around for too long, either. Just when you think you’ve got something figured out—a sound, a pattern—it’s gone, Zomby with it. —Michael Pollock
There Goes Rhymin’ Simon
Paul Simon in Concert/Live Rhymin’
Still Crazy After All These Years Columbia / Legacy
ven diehard Simon fans don’t have to rush
out and buy all of these “new” reissues of his first four albums. Paul Simon and Still Crazy duplicate the Warner/Rhino reissues of 2004, remasters with Rhino’s trademark attention to the best sound possible. There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and Paul Simon in Concert/Live Rhymin’ do have new bonus tracks, but nothing essential. The live album includes unheard versions of “Kodachrome” and “Something So Right”: solid, but not earthshaking recordings. More interesting are the acoustic demos from Rhymin’ Simon. “Let Me Live in Your City” is a love song with a melody that sounds like a variant of “Something So Right,” but with a strong lyric that explores Simon’s familiar theme of love’s power to overcome feelings of alienation and loneliness. There’s also a laid-back demo of “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” without the syncopation of the familiar studio version, and a version of “American Tune” without the finished lyric. Simon sings random syllables for most of the track, which highlights the beauty of the melody. On the demo of “Loves Me Like a Rock,” he sings some of the backing vocals that the Dixie Hummingbirds provided on the album, an interesting look at his unfolding creative process —j. poet
photo by Don Hunstein
McCartney II MPL/Hear Music/ Concord Music Group
Significant departures It’s a bit surprising these reissues weren’t subtitled Macca: The DIY Years. Bookending the first decade of his post-Beatles career, the 1970 McCartney and its 1980 sequel find the future Sir Paul playing all the instruments, while forsaking the perfectionism that’s characterized much of his career. Now the albums have resurfaced in slightly expanded Special Editions and extra-stuffed Deluxe Editions. McCartney has the more dramatic back-story, emerging in the wake of the Beatles’ messy divorce. While the album may be dominated by fun, if somewhat slight instrumentals like “Hot as Sun/ Glasses” and “Momma Miss America,” the loose, funky playing elevates the proceedings. And McCartney contains some bona fide classics, not just “Maybe I’m Amazed,” the most famous song on the album. “Every Night,” an utterly disarming love song, is even better, as is “Junk,” an elliptical waltz that dates back to the White Album era. McCartney II is a whole other kettle of something vegetarians eat instead of fish. By this point, he’d discovered synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines. The album has since earned seminotoriety, due to robot-sex jams like “Temporary Secretary” and “Darkroom.” Even big hit “Coming Up” is pretty weird. It’s possible to overrate McCartney II slightly—there are still awful lyrics, hammy vocal mannerisms and other McCartney Achilles’ heels to contend with. But it contains a playful, offhand strangeness that’s hard to resist. And bonus tracks like “Secret Friend” and “Mr. H Atom/You Know I’ll Get You Baby” reveal an even stranger version of the album. —Michael Pelusi R.E.M.
Lifes Rich Pageant: 25th Anniversary Edition Capitol/IRS
Little mister sunshines When R.E.M.’s fourth LP was released in 1986, it met with resistance from critics who’d been spellbound by Murmur and Fables of the Reconstruction. But where those earlier efforts maintained a more consistent mood, Lifes Rich Pageant is a truer summation of the band’s strengths as a live band: muscle, impeccable timing and a sense of humor that had rarely surfaced on wax. Reissued to mark its 25th anniversary, Pageant opens with four signature tunes: Peter Buck’s propulsive guitar and Bill Berry’s insistent drums launch “Begin the Begin” and “These Days”;
photo by Sandra Lee Phipps
Michael Stipe’s gorgeous vocals and Mike Mills’ tender harmonies drive the environmental circa Life’s pleas “Fall on Me” and “CuyaRich Pageant hoga.” These four tracks have remained touchstones for R.E.M., often strategically placed at the start of their shows and in the encore. But while the rest of Pageant has been all but neglected in concert, it’s not clear why. “I Believe” leaps seamlessly from banjo-and-accordion-laced folk to a rare strain of Southern rock; “Underneath the Bunker” has a slinky, tenacious melody; and the meditative “Swan Swan H” is as soulful as anything in their catalog. A disc of demos reveals how ill-prepared the band felt before working with producer Don Gehman. They revived some of their earliest compositions; the rollicking “Just a Touch” and pastoral “Why Don’t We Give It Away?” (here called “Get on Their Way”), which made it onto Pageant, predated anything on their previous releases, as did rock ‘n’ roll throwbacks “All the Right Friends,” which wouldn’t surface until 2001, and “Wait” and “Mystery to Me”—both unreleased until now. It’s worth noting that Gehman helped trim and tighten the LP’s key songs, but R.E.M. were on the right track all along—even if they didn’t know it at the time. —M.J. Fine OH, THAT’S RICH R.E.M.
True Soul: Deep Sounds From the Left of Stax, Volume 1 & 2 Now-Again
Obscure things make our hearts sing Certainly there are R&B reissue and soul rarity labels like Numero, Rhino and such that frisk assorted arcane-centric catalogs for the gristle. Count Lee Anthony’s NowAgain independent record label among the marrow mongers that go beyond skin deep. Anthony is Willie Mitchell, Al Bell and Berry Gordy without the authority or slickness of pop on
his side. Now-Again songs were densely packed and gritty, without a hint of sleekness about them. Even when the label found its way into disco with the likes of Le Chance and Portrait, both documented on Vol. 2, the melodies were murky (yet memorable) and the arrangements were slimy. Anthony’s way-back machine begins in the funky furrowed brow of Arkansas’ groove scene of the ’60s: regional rural stuff that shook the rafters of Little Rock to their foundation. This was the time and label of swamp soul and gut-bucket funk that saxophonists Ren Smith and York Wilborn were brewing up in their basements—raw anthems such as “Smog” and “Psychedelic Hot Pants.” Unsung heroes of the original Dirty South like vocalist Thomas East make you scratch your head in wonder at how the harshed mellow likes of “Slipping Around” and “Just a Trip” didn’t get national acclaim. In a better dirtier world, perhaps. —A.D. Amorosi
Neil Young and the International Harvesters
A Treasure Reprise
Truth in titling Archival Neil Young releases come along so frequently these days that casual fans can be forgiven for wondering if he might have passed away. Last year’s Le Noise proved that Young is still kicking, but he’s intent on eulogizing himself all the same. Recorded on the road in 1984-5 with a country-oriented backing band including Spooner Oldham and the late Ben Keith, the solid and sometimes spectacular performances here include five previously unreleased songs, from the epic “Grey Riders” to the shuffling lament of “It Might Have Been.” Although the set list spans albums as diverse as Old Ways and re-ac-tor, Young and his ensemble’s grasp of the down-home idiom is flawless; there’s no hitch in this hoedown. At this point, it’s difficult to separate Young’s truly essential recordings from those that are merely great, but A Treasure’s title doesn’t overreach. —Sam Adams
The Red-Headed Stepchild Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop living in the past, and it’s getting old
/ by Jeanne Fury
t’s old news, but it bears repeating: NBC screwed Conan O’Brien. Even
people who don’t own televisions know that. When O’Brien assumed hosting duties of The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in June 2009, Leno moved to a prime-time slot, where his ratings tanked. Cut to January 2010: NBC decided to give the late-night slot back to Leno and push O’Brien’s Tonight Show to midnight. O’Brien said no, NBC said goodbye, and Jay Leno, well, nobody cares about Jay Leno. The mighty Conan was contractually banned from appearing on TV, radio and the Internet for six months, so he set off on the “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” and hit the road with a full band and backup dancers. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is a snapshot of his life during the tour, courtesy of filmmaker Rodman Flender.
For all of his lovable underdog appeal, O’Brien is a textbook narcissist. He can’t stop, because if he did, he’d cease to exist in his own mind. “That’s all I know,” he says, “being in front of an audience.” When directly asked if he thinks he can have fun without an audience in front of him, Conan goes silent for an uncomfortably long time. It’s like that scene in Truth or Dare when Madonna doesn’t want to talk off-camera and War-
ren Beatty breaks it down for us: “She doesn’t want to live off-camera, much less talk. There’s nothing to say off-camera. Why would you say something if it’s offcamera? What point is there [in] existing?” The approval of strangers has such a lock on the vast majority of showbiz personalities that it cripples them, and Can’t Stop makes O’Brien look a severely addicted fame junkie. When NBC took away the vehicle by which
photo courtesy rodman flender
Now Screen This he got his nightly fix, he freaked. Throughout the movie, we watch him chase the dragon. In a yikes-worthy moment, O’Brien’s private jet lands at the airport and he pretends there’s a frenzied crowd of admirers there to greet him. Sigh. And yet, when the throngs of fans show up for meet-and-greets and want nothing more than to lavish O’Brien with attention, he gets sick of engaging them. But, shocker, he can’t stop. “I can’t shut up,” he says. Before you say, “Cut him some slack—dude’s exhausted from touring,” consider this: On his day off, O’Brien goes to his college reunion and volunteers to play the talent show. Then he gets pissed because he’s told he can’t take the stage until after midnight. Is he pissed because he’s simply tired or because he can’t wait to get his fix? Sitting through scene after scene, I decided that Conan O’Brien is really goddamn annoying. Yes, he makes me laugh, and I love him for sticking it to The Man, but the Conan O’Brien guy is a handful. Case in Can’t Stop is in theaters now. point: There’s more than one incident of him hitting people. The guy literally hits people. Like a kid who needs attention or a reaction, O’Brien swings his fists into the arms of his friends (or the people who work for him— I’m not sure there’s really a distinction). Sure, he’s just fooling around, but there’s a sincere desperation behind those punches, and he doesn’t look like he’s in control. At one point, he catches himself. “Why do I do that? It’s not acceptable,” he says (after hitting someone). It’s sad, but also truly irritating. Of course, the guy is fuming over the whole NBC fiasco, and he has every right to work out his demons. But it’s never certain whether anger and revenge are fueling his manic desires to be successful and adored… or whether that’s just Conan being Conan.
Sam Adams with the best of what’s in movie theaters this month
Beats, Rhymes and Life Unlikely director Michael Rapaport does a bang-up job with the history of A Tribe Called Quest, whose laid-back, jazz-inflected hip-hop hit the airwaves like a velvet bomb. The film gives ample props to adenoidal MC and inveterate cratedigger Q-Tip, but its real hero is Phife Dawg, who has struggled with health issues and his former colleague’s public visibility since the group’s dissolution. Footage of their 2008 reunion plays like a marriage counseling session gone wrong, with slights real and perceived magnified out of proportion. The positivity of Tribe’s music is untouched, but it only exists on record.
The Future Those who balked at the faux-naïve tone of Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know probably won’t be swayed by her second film, but here it feels more like a device than a default. Despite the fact that it’s narrated by an injured cat, The Future tethers its twee to the framework of a young couple (July and Hamish Link later) facing their 30s and onward with a mixture of anxiety and dread. July’s attempts to choreograph a viral video provide desperate comic relief, and Linklater’s puppy-dog charm has just enough childish anger mixed in.
Page One: Inside the New York Times An unbridled valentine to the paper of record, Andrew Rossi’s documentary (re)makes a star of gravel-voiced media reporter David Carr, whose sharp tongue reduces many a glib web aggregator to shredded newsprint. Rossi bizarrely omits any mention of the paper’s attempt to master the web, focusing instead on old-school virtues and ginning up drama out of daily deadlines. The trouble is, while the movie makes an ironclad case for the value of print (whether or not it’s on paper), it offers no ideas for keeping it alive.
Terri The world hardly needs another high school misfit movie, but Azazel Jacobs’ Terri shows the others how it’s done. As an obese, maladjusted teen being raised by his off-kilter uncle (The Office’s Creed Bratton), Jacob Wysocki has real problems, not some screenwriter’s trumped-up idea of them, and John C. Reilly plays the part of a well-meaning but self-sabotaging principal to perfection. Terri is a major step toward the mainstream from Jacobs’ Momma’s Man, but luckily, it’s also a leap towards truth.
More at conanobriencantstop.com.
Love Your Work* Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden on The Killing
/ by Joe Gross
Mireille Enos as Detective Sarah Linden
Thirteen thoughts for the 13 days of The Killing:
Not sure if the character starts—if the audience’s interest starts—with her eyes, or the pale cast of her face, or what. She seems expressionless at first. But only at first. That’s not it; it’s not a lack of expression. It’s the smallness of them, the way they creep out of the stillness of her affect. She has the cop’s curse, a curse that goes double for the murder police: She sees people at their lowest every day, be they murderer or victim’s family or ice-cold corpse. Detective Sarah Linden wears this curse in her eyes.
Mireille Enos was raised in Houston, a Mormon who studied theater in high school, then at Brigham Young University. Not a lot of modern plays there, so she cut her teeth on Shakespeare, Chekhov, that sort of thing. Enos stuck mostly to theater, scoring a Tony nomination for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 2005, but her IMDB page screams “itinerant bit player”: Sex in the City, CSI: Miami, Without a Trace. A lot of one-name parts: Karen. Fern. Dana. Yoga Instructor #1.
* 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.
Everyone has secrets on The Killing. Everyone is a suspect in his or her own life. Everyone is guilty, everyone is atoning. Everyone is very, very damp. Then came Big Love, wherein her (let’s not kid ourselves) somewhat Mormon-American looks came in mighty handy playing identical twins Kathy and Jodeen Marquart. At first, they look of a piece—two women completely within the domain of the compound. But Kathy revealed herself as a brilliant and tragic figure. Bold and caring and purely devoted to her moral code, Kathy married Henrickson and helped care for his increasingly insane wife. When she was kidnapped by Roman Grant, she was brave enough to attempt escape, only to be killed in a particularly cruel car accident. Jodeen was nearly destroyed by her sister’s death, only to start her own small acts of rebellion while married to the much older Frank.
photo by Chris Large/Courtesy of AMC
movies Editor’s Note: This piece was filed before the June 19 finale which, for the record, Joe Gross thinks was a bit of a letdown, and extremely poorly marketed by AMC, but not the goddamn betrayal everyone on Twitter seems to think it is.
We learn a little about Linden quickly: She jogs, she is ready to start a new life with a man who loves her and her son in Sonoma, CA, away from the (truly relentless) rain in Seattle. She looks far too used to the cold and damp. It has taken her a long time to trust even the idea of love, of a life with sun. We do not know why. Her face doesn’t let us know.
Enos was jaw-droppingly good as the Maquart sisters, so good that those of us who had no idea who she was thought maybe the show simply found a Mormon gal who may have spent time in polygamist compounds. But no, it was all acting. Just take a look at the photos on her IMDB page: standard actress glamour shots.
Some critics have complained about the lack of action on the show. I submit this is a misreading of how the show is paced, not a lack of action. (You want to see a lack of action on an AMC show? Check out the first and only season of Rubicon. Now that is poor pacing.) It’s vital to remember that show takes place over the course of 13 days. I suspect it will “read” as well or better than anything of its kind in DVD form.
Then the information comes slower. Linden’s a good and dedicated officer, so dedicated that her boss makes her take One Last Case before she splits the force. She gets a new partner, a seeming jerkoff previously from undercover named Stephen Holder.
It’s not a perfect show. There are plot holes (a dead kid’s Internet history is among the first things you check, not the last), there are plot holes that almost become character misfires ( just how out of Linden and her son Jack’s lives is her ex-husband?), there are plot twists that
Photo by James Dittiger/AMC
Detectives Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos).
border on absurd (the email is coming from inside the house!). But it is worth watching for Enos.
Linden holds much of her life close to the vest—too much, perhaps—and this is where Enos shines. In the first few episodes, she tries to keep her distance, tries to stay objective. She cannot. The scene in which Linden discovers “the Cage,” a basement room where it is strongly suggested teens party and girls are raped, is an exceptional bit of work. The camera holds on Enos, where she blends horror, fear and determination all at once. There is also resignation. She cannot leave this alone.
It takes her forever to trust Holder, and who can blame her? He seems like a doofus, a mediocre cop and possibly corrupt. Then she sees him at a 12-step meeting. She’s followed him, convinced she will find sin. Instead, she sees his humility as he slowly redeems himself. Again, the camera knows how much it can trust Enos’ face. Her look of guilt and shame is complicated, almost panicked in its barely concealed self-loathing, and she does all of this while shot through a frosted glass window.
a digression into Linden and Holder’s inner lives as they drive around Seattle looking for a missing child. We learn Linden was raised in foster care, a pure product of the child welfare system in Seattle, her closest friend is her social worker who lives on a boat. These revelations are as close as Linden comes to showing her cards, and Enos almost spits out the words to Holder (a character whose richness and humanity has grown by the episode). This, then, is what Linden has been hiding. Her distance is part professionalism and part defense mechanism, but it is also to protect the world from her: She has spent her life trying to control her rage, channeling it into work. When she starts to sob hysterically when she sees a dead body she thinks is the kid she’s looking for, the tears are as much anger and frustration as grief.
It’s not a perfect show. Far from it. But Enos has delivered a fantastic character. This is not Jane Tennison from Prime Suspect. This is not Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks. This is something else. Bring on season two. The first season of The Killing just ended on AMC. Episodes are streaming for a limited time on amctv.com.
The revelations come quickly in “Missing,” the third-to-last episode. It’s a done-in-one,
This month’s best, worst, weirdest and wildest in home video entertainment by andrew bonazelli
Hobo With a Shotgun Our esteemed Cowleague Joe Gross immortalized Rutger Hauer’s iconic Blade Runner turn way back in Decem ber. Hobo director Jason Eisener is a devoted Love Your Work reader (Jason Eisener has never read Love Your Work), and smartly gave the veteran character actor acres of scenery to chew in this adaptation of the Grindhouse trailer, which is roughly as hilarious, kickass and pointless (but whatever; we’re not that snobby) as the other movie adapted from a Grindhouse trailer, Machete.
Rutger Hauer in Hobo With a Shotgun
Source Code Duncan Jones: hell yes. Even though the sprog of famous artists should by rule be forcibly restrained from recording studios, word processors and video cameras, David Bowie Jr. is two for two now with this thoughtful, heartfelt follow-up to Moon. Despite the high concept— Jake Gyllenhaal inhabits the last eight minutes of various folks’ lives to identify a Chicago train bomber—Source Code is less hard sci-fi than a paean to honor, love and ambition. Just be prepared to suspend the shit out of your disbelief.
Limitless Like Source Code, more-high concept wackiness. Unlike Source Code, this looked real shitty. Yet Limitless works by doing what Hollywood “think pieces” (barf ) must do to succeed: engaging audience wish fulfillment. Bradley Cooper is a loser who gets his hands on a pill that temporarily allows him to use 100 percent of his brain (as opposed to the usual 20). His resulting success is “kick ass, bro,” yet universally relatable, and forever slumming De Niro engages our Cooper hate by trying to take him down. Kinda like Jumper, but not a complete abortion.
Insidious I’d like to say we can trust Patrick Wilson—who started so strong in Hard Candy and Little Children—but he’s a working actor who requires the Hollywood equivalent of “putting food on the table,” hence once in a while he “has” to do a Poltergeist rip-off conceived by the “minds” behind the Saw franchise. Rose Byrne is in this drivel, too, and she went on to kill it in Bridesmaids, so Wilson will probably be OK. After all, there won’t be a Watchmen sequel.
Take Me Home Tonight Topher Grace didn’t have a chance to do broad coke ’n’ mousse parody in the mercifully shortlived That ’80s Show, so the writers of the equally soulless That ’70s Show kindly concocted this D.O.A. dud. That said, this film does get minor style points for skewering Suncoast Video, the dead-end job of Grace’s lovelorn protagonist. Can’t wait ’til the 2020s, when all the comedies are about ironic ’00s “indie kids” satirizing the ’80s. Yes, this town/country/planet is completely bereft of originality.
photo by KarimHussain, Courtesy Magnet Releasing
comedy Comedy Album of the Year?
Pod People Tig Notaro—the Mississippi-born, L.A.-based standup who signed a three-album deal with indie rock label Secretly Canadian—just became the one millionth comic to start her own free podcast (number rounded up). So what? Well, this isn’t the usual comedy pod fare. Instead of a bunch of underemployed comics interrupting each other’s in-jokes about shitty clubs, “Professor Blastoff” is all about stream-of-consciousness ruminations on science, philosophy and psychology. Neither Tig nor her co-hosts Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger have any kind of relevant background in academics (though they plan to bring in some guest experts), but it’s funny and smart. (earwolf.com/show/ professor-blastoff)
It’s early, but Norm Macdonald’s new Me Doing Standup (Comedy Central) is the one to beat right now. It’s mostly new material, presented in that boozy, delayed-draw Norm Macdonald way, and a lot of it’s pretty damn dark. Not personal or poignant, just beautifully morbid: sexual shame, pissing blood, agonizing death. (On alcoholism: “It’s true that you have a disease and everything, but I think you got the best one.”) The best stuff might be his dissection of the way the news covers missing persons cases. Good advice to prospective murderers: Dig deeper graves.
Norm Standing Me Up
But, seriously, fuck that guy. Dude was supposed to do a quick phoner, but ditched me. Nothing worse than waiting by the phone and watching the guy who’s supposed to call you tweet random bullshit the whole time instead.
But Seriously The album’s great. Oh, and there’s also a DVD version, which includes the pilot for Back to Norm, a low-budget sketch show you can also find on YouTube. The thing opens with an awkward homage to suicidal politician Budd Dwyer and just gets weirder from there.
My report card on comedy shows that haven’t even aired yet, you guys.
WTF Yeah, Freudian podcasting king Marc Maby
ron made a pilot version of WTF with Ken Jeong (Community, The Hangover) and Ed Asner (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), and is shopping it around. I love the podcast, but visions of Shit My Dad Says give me pause. C+
Nerdist Another pod pickup is Chris Hardwick,
whose popular tech-dork talk show is in development with BBC America. I predict Top Gear for mathletes. A-
The Heart, She Holler Next fall, standups/acNorm Macdonald not doing interview
tors Patton Oswalt and Heather Lawless are doing this live-action hillbilly soap opera spoof kinda thing for Adult Swim. I bet it’ll be weird and hilarious à la Eagleheart. B+
Untitled Odd Future Project Hip-hop’s great
overhyped underwhelmers are working on a sketch show pilot for Adult Swim that’s supposed to be a mixture of Jackass and Chappelle’s Show. I bet it never makes it to air, but D+
NTSF:SD:SUV:: Remember when Cartoon Net-
work showed cartoons? Spinning off from Adult Swim’s runaway hit Childrens Hospital is another super-short live action comedy parodying Minority Report, 24 and every other show or movie where people with guns run around being serious. The title stands for National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle::, by the way. Stars Paul Scheer (Piranha 3DD, Human Giant). Look for it this summer. A
Got Bits? Send ’em to Patrick Rapa, firstname.lastname@example.org
photo by patrik giardino
Oh Brothel, Where Art Thou?
Chester Brown’s “comic strip memoir” about his life as a John is as uncomfortable as it is thought-provoking / by Sam Adams
hester Brown’s Paying for It isn’t the kind of work you’d
show to a prospective girlfriend. Lucky for Brown he doesn’t intend to have one—ever. ¶ Exposing himself, so to speak, in cartoon form is nothing new for Brown. After making a splash in the late 1980s with the surrealist fantasia Ed the Happy Clown—the story of a greasepainted innocent who, among other things, has the tip of his penis replaced with the talking head of an extradimensional Ronald Reagan—Brown became part of a vanguard of comic book autobiographers, cartoonists who exposed their personal struggles to an awe-inspiring and sometimes alarming extent.
With his friends Joe Matt, whose Peepshow comic was the only rival to Brown’s Yummy Fur for cringe-inducing personal revelations, and Seth, now a prolific illustrator as well as a cartoonist, Brown created an interlocking world. The three frequently appeared in each others’ work, sometimes as confidants and often as challengers, drawing one another out in long conversations that laid bare their own inconsistencies. But even by Brown’s standards, Paying for It is a startling confessional. Over the course of the graphic novel’s more than 200 pages, Brown details, sometimes excruciatingly, his decade-plus history of paying prostitutes for sex. Focusing in particular on the years 1999 to 2003, Brown chronicles his encounters methodically, in succinct chapters titled after the women he visits. His monochrome panels float in a sea of white, images drawn with simple, clean lines that shed any hint of sentiment. The depiction could be clinical, were the subject matter itself not so fraught. “Personally, I respond to work that doesn’t feel overly emotional,” Brown says from his
home in Toronto. “When I’m watching a movie, I like actors when they’re restrained, when they’re not going over the top in their performance. In a way, that’s what I’m doing in the book. I’m using this artificial, stilted way of depicting people as a way of avoiding the comic-book equivalent of overacting.” In a sense, Paying for It is a manifesto of anti-emotionalism. Beginning with the breakup of Brown’s long-term relationship with former MuchMusic VJ Sook-Yin Lee—
a conversation rendered entirely in word balloons—the book essentially chronicles Brown’s liberation from the ideals of romantic love, a notion that he decides causes far more unhappiness than fulfillment. Prostitution, he decides, should not only be legal, but encouraged. Longtime readers of Brown’s work will know that he’s no stranger to sexual hangups. The Playboy, which was collected in 1992, dealt with the conflict between his mother’s devout Christianity and his formative exposure to pornography, which was all the more obsessive because of the shame and secrecy attached to it. (The book also recounts his mother’s worsening schizophrenia and eventual institutionalization, providing ample ammunition for those who see Brown’s behavior tending towards the pathological.) The inescapable question with Paying for It is where Brown gets the courage—or, if you like, nerve—to write about a practice that invariably takes place in secret. He’s far from the only man to pay for sex, but one of very
It seemed like I was, in a way, above the concerns of the world. All these people walking around thinking about their romantic relationships, or wanting to be in romantic relationships—suddenly I was free of all that, concerns about sexuality, and how I was going to find sex.”
few to admit to it publicly. “It didn’t seem like it required that much nerve, because I’d already been open about the subject with my friends and family,” Brown says, pausing for a moment. “I guess that’s the more weird thing. Because I’d been already talking about it freely in my private life, it didn’t seem like that much of a jump to do a book about it.” To judge from his work, Brown is something of a cold fish, ceaselessly analytical to an almost Spock-like extent. As it turns out, that presentation is something of a device, based on Brown’s disdain for art that tries too hard to yank out an emotional response. He deliberately avoids close-ups, and draws his eyes as vacant circles behind his wirerimmed glasses. Increasing the sense of alienation, he avoids showing the prostitutes’ faces, protecting their identities, but also disembodying them. Brown cites two primary artistic inspirations: the French filmmaker Robert Bresson,
wanting to be in romantic relationships— suddenly I was free of all that, concerns about sexuality, and how I was going to find sex. I hadn’t known it was going to be that sudden, but it definitely felt that way.” In Paying for It’s ample endnotes, which run for more than 50 pages, Brown lays out an articulate if not airtight argument for the legalization of prostitution—less of a jump in Canada, where streetwalking and brothels are outlawed, but it’s legal for sex workers to visit johns (known as “outcalls”). But apart from a lengthy chapter in which Brown debates the subject with a flustered Seth, then discusses it with a prostitute named Edith whose own views are equally underdeveloped, Brown frames the book as a personal who coached his non-professional actors to narrative and not a political tract. It’s just as well, since he never quite puts avoid all but the faintest hint of visible emotion, and comic-strip artist Harold Gray, best to rest the possibility that he’s simply conknown for Little Orphan Annie. It’s hard to cocted an elaborate philosophy to justify his think of another artist who would combine personal desires. But the sudden announcethe creator of Daddy Warbucks ment in the book’s final pages that he’s spent the last eight years inand the director of Diary of a Country Priest. volved in a quasi-monogamous Even Paying for It’s pivotal morelationship with a prostitute ment, where Brown visits his first named Denise casts an entirely prostitute and realizes that doing new spin on what’s gone before. so has freed him from a lifetime Due to Denise’s reluctance to be of shame, is presented in an esdepicted in Brown’s work, that’s sentially undramatic fashion, as not territory he’s likely to explore a series of thoughts filling the air further in print. But as fascinating as the story in Paying for It can be, above Brown’s skeletal head. “It definitely felt like a very sudthe one Brown doesn’t tell sounds Paying for It: den thing,” Brown recalls. “I really even more intriguing. A Comic-Strip did feel transformed. It seemed Memoir About More at drawnandquarterly.com. like I was, in a way, above the conBeing a John, cerns of the world. All these people walking around thinking about their romantic relationships, or
with introduction by Robert Crumb, is available now from Drawn & Quarterly.
Number One With a Silver Bullet The Real Tuesday Weld soundtracks Glen Duncan’s new werewolf tome / by Shaun Brady
ake Marlowe is 34 years old, but, to steal a line from
Let the Right One In’s perpetually 12-year-old bloodsucker, he’s been 34 for a very long time. The protagonist of Glen Duncan’s new novel, The Last Werewolf (Knopf ), is, as the title suggests, the final member of a noble if man-eating race, and has grown weary enough of the whole monthly transformation shtick over his 200 years to welcome the end of the line. The cruel ironies and bitter humor (you don’t get through two centuries of snacking on your fellow man without being able to laugh about it) of Duncan’s book are perfectly summed up by “(I Always Kill) The Things I Love,” one of the tracks on The Real Tuesday Weld’s simultaneously released soundtrack, which frames Marlowe’s homicidal lament as a ’40s-style torch song. Given TRTW mastermind Stephen Coates’ penchant for mu-
sical time-traveling and blending cabaret electronica with jazzy indie-pop, he is probably the songwriter best suited to compose for a character who’s survived from Beethoven to Radiohead, but the gig came about through the much more casual means of Coates’ and Duncan’s lifelong friendship. The two grew up together in northwest London in devout Roman Catholic families and, “both began to deviate from the righteous path at around the same age,” according to Duncan. “So, like with any close friend that you’ve had for that length of time, there’s a shared grammar, a shared frame of reference, a similar sense of humor and a similar take on the big questions in life.” The Last Werewolf is the duo’s second “collaboration,” following TRTW’s soundtrack for Duncan’s 2003 novel I, Lucifer, which the author wrote while staying in Coates’ flat in the Clerkenwell section of London. Despite their close proximity at the time, the two remained fairly independent throughout the process beyond discussing themes and ideas from the stories. “They’re sort of like twins separated at birth who enjoy a kind of uncanny telepathic connection, but don’t have very much face to face contact,” Duncan says of the two works. “You don’t have to have read the book to get the album, and you don’t have to have heard the album to enjoy the book, but if we get it right, then you end up with this nice symbiosis between the two objects.” “It’s very important to me that the record works completely independently of the book,” Coates adds. “I’ve got soundtracks for above: Author films that I haven’t seen, and you Glen Duncan; left: The Real still have the sense of the narraTuesday Weld’s tive somewhere behind the music. Stephen Coates There’s that hint of something else.” The idea was born on Coates’ roof as 2009 dawned, during a traditional New Year’s Eve round of self-assessments and predictions for the year ahead. Before Duncan had set a single word to paper, the two had formed a casual, unstated agreement that Coates would record a soundtrack—a tacit understanding that extends to the book’s two planned sequels.
With The Last Werewolf, the musical aesthetic is the same range of styles I’ve been working with, from electronica through Django Reinhardt swing.”
Coates has penned music for several films and animations, and wrote several songs for Rockstar Games’ recently released L.A. Noire, so marrying his music to someone else’s narrative is nothing new. “I personally find it a really useful way to write songs to be inside a character’s head,” he says. “Of course, you interpret that character through your own personality and your own history. I think with The Last Werewolf, the musical aesthetic is the same range of styles that I’ve been working with through The Real Tuesday Weld, from electronica through Django Reinhardt swing, so it’s that stuff blown a bit wider this time. I was trying to use my own palette to represent the spectrum of things in the book.” Duncan’s novel works both as a genre piece and as a caustic subversion of that genre, and the range of Coates’ music reflects its tonal ambiguities. Marlowe is introduced by the full-throated roar of the blues-rock pastiche “Wolfman,” his twisted love affair by the wounded Billie Holiday croon of “Save Me.” “The thing that depresses me is that he can get into three verses and a chorus what I just spent 120,000 words on,” Duncan says. “So, it’s a bittersweet pleasure.”
The Last Werewolf will be published July 12 by Knopf; The Last Werewolf: A Soundtrack will be released July 12 by Six Degrees.
Out of the Vinyl Deeps:
Ellen Willis on Rock Music
Edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz University of Minnesota Press
Most discussions about the birth of rock criticism usually evoke male names such as Bangs, Meltzer, Christgau, etc., but late journalist and NYU professor Ellen Willis was the first pop music columnist for The New Yorker in 1968, and went on to write for Rolling Stone and The Village Voice, and pen liner notes for artists like Janis Joplin. While critics like Christgau and subsequent generations of writers cite her as an influence, Out of the Vinyl Deeps is essential reading to any music fan for clear-eyed, perceptive takes on the rise, fall and reverberations of the ’60s counterculture and the start of punk, from someone who lived it. Unlike the tireless boomer tomes before her, Willis doesn’t romanticize the ’60s or ask for nostalgia; she asks only for acknowledgment, at the same time taking on issues of race, class and gender in ways that still ring true today. —Sara Sherr Ellen Willis
Duncan and Coates will do a mini reading/concert tour: July 12 at the Strand in New York; July 13 at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn; July 15 full moon reading at Skylight Books in Los Angeles; July 19 at City Lights in San Francisco. More at thelastwerewolf.org.
13 Assassins According to Jim: Season 4 Aida Alan Berliner Collection Alice in Wonderland/Thumbelina All That Jazz/Roxie Hart America: The Story of Us Vol. 4: Cities/Boom America: The Story of Us Vol. 5: Bust/WW2 America: The Story of Us Vol. 6: Superpower/Millennium America’s Godly Heritage American Flyer American Heritage Collection American History in Black & White Anniversary at Shallow Creek Bat Shit Crazy Ben Hur/The Story of Moses Bloodlust Zombies BMF: Street Certified Bond of Silence Boy Meets World: Season 6 Camaleones Cape: The Complete Series Carnival of Souls Carolina Cats 101 Commitments/The Full Monty Compassion in Emptiness Crazy Heart/Walk the Line Deadmau5: Live @ Earl’s Court Dogs 101 Drive in Horrorshow Dynasty: The Fifth Season E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Elephant Dreams Empire of Assassins Eureka: Season 4.0 Eureka: Season One Eureka: Season Two Fall: Live at the Hacienda Ferocious Planet Fireman Sam: Brave New Rescues Flight Four Centuries of American Education Frankenstein Syndrome Frogs & Toads: Max’s Magical Journey Gentlemen Prefer Blondes/Moulin Rouge Gettysburg/Gods and Generals Girl Who Leapt Through Space Vol. 2 Hello, Dolly/Star Hit Favorites: Preschool Fun Hobo With a Shotgun Hustle Illegal Ingreedients James Bryan Film Festival James Stewart: Screen Legends Collection Jaws John Wayne Collectino Kid King Kong (2005) Kite Liberator K-On! Vol. 2 Land Girls: Series 2
Last Supper/The Miracle of Jesus Lies in Plain Sight Live to Forget Love Me Tender/Seven Year Itch Making of the President Mannix: Seasons 1-5 Mannix: The Fifth Season Marillion: Somewhere in London McMillan & Wife: Season Five McMillan & Wife: Season Four Memoirs of a Lady Ninja 2 Millennium Meltdown Miranda Mummy Mummy Returns Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Mysteries at the Museum: Season 1 National Geographic: Witchcraft – Myths and Legends Nymphs in the Mist Oblivion Once/That Thing You Do Orphen: Complete Collection Out of the Blue Paramedics: Vol. 2 Passion of Darkly Noon Physics of Motion Physics of Warfare PJ’s Season 2 Playing by Heart Rickie Lee Jones: Live in Stockholm Riding Tornado Robin Hood Romeo + Juliet/(500) Days of Summer Sacrifice Science of Death Serenity Sesame Street: The Best of Sesame Spoofs Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 Sound of the Sky: Complete Collection Staring Into the Sun Tales of the Abyss Part 1 Ten Pimp Commandments Third Wheel Tiara Tahiti Time Lost and Time Remembered Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures Vol. 2 Trailers From Hell Transformers: Headmasters – The Japanese Collection Tsotsi UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields Ultimate Impact Pack Victorious: Season One Vol. 1 Witchmaker Witchville Without a Father Woman’s Guide to Adultery Word, Vol. 1 World of Horses: Season 2 JULY 12
[REC] 2 Aerosmith: You Gotta Move Air War: Vietnam 1964-1972 Alice Alice in Chains: Music Bank – The Videos Allison & Lillia: Generation 2 America’s Test Kitchen: Season Eleven American Rebel Animal Atlas: Animal 1 2 3’s Animal Atlas: Animals ABC’s Apollo 13 Aretha Franklin: Live in Paris
JULY 12 Rage Against the Machine:
Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium Here’s a reissue of a 2003 DVD featuring Rage ATM’s final two shows in 2000. Time for these guys to shit or get off the nostalgia tour pot. Get Tom writing some riffs, Zack. The last thing we need is an Audioslave reunion. [Epic] B.B. King: Live Barney: 1-2-3 Learn Battle Beyond the Stars Best of Caillou: Caillou Goes Back to School BFF Black, White and Blues Blood Shed Bloodrayne: The Third Reich Bob Dylan: The Other Side of the Mirror Bob Marley Vol. 30 Bourne Identity Bourne Supremacy Bourne Ultimatum Brainy Baby: Music Brainy Baby: Spanish Brother’s Justice Buju Banton & Sizzla: Living Legends – Live in Concert Buster Keaton: The Short Films Collection 1920-1923 Caminos Perdidos Card Subject to Change: Pro Wrestling’s Underground Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!: Wings and Things/Up and Away/Tales About Tails Classic Western Round-Up Vol. 1 Classic Western Round-Up Vol. 2 Clint Eastwood: Western Icon Collection Color Purple Courage Cult Classics Collection Curse of the Puppet Master Cypress Hill: Live Damages: The Complete Third Season Damnation Alley Daniel’s Lot David Bowie: The Road to the Railway Defcon 2010 Derek Trucks Band: Songlines Live Dinocroc vs. Supergator Doctor Who: The Awakening Doctor Who: The Gunfighters Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Big Party
Pack Elvis Four Movie Collection Vol. 1 Entourage: The Complete Seventh Season ER: The Final Season – Season 16 Extreme Habitats Fabulous Betty White Collection Field Trips With Recess Monkey: Episodes 5-8 Figaro: Living in the Moment of a Character Foreigner: Live Frozen Kiss George Romero’s Deadtime Stories Vol. 1 Georgia’s Civil War Ghostbusters: So Much Fun It’s Spooky! God’s Bloody Acre/Tomcats Gong: French TV 1971-73 Gordon Glass Gordon the Garden Gnome Grandja De Los Zombies Groovie Goolies Heartland: The Complete First Season Helicopter War: Vietnam 1964-1972 Hollies: The Lost Broadcasts Iced Earth: Festivals of the Wicked Incredible Hulk Insidious Inventing Cuisine: Nadia Santini James Brown: Live in America James Taylor: Live at the Beacon Theatre Jersey Shore: Seasons One and Two John Denver: The Wildlife Concert Journey: Live in Houston 1981 – Escape Tour Lady in Black: The Story of Darlington Raceway Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1990 Legacy Lincoln Lawyer Luther Vandross: Live at Wembley Mad, Mad, Mad Monster Maneater Men Who Collected Food Mi-5 Vol. 9 Midnight Horror Collection: Puppet Master Vol. 2 Minty: The Assassin Miral Mobile Suit Gundam 00: The Movie – A Wakening of Trailblazer Mrs. Brown My Dog Tulip Naruto: Shippuden Box Set 7 National Geographic Classics: Ocean Neil Diamond: Live at the Greek 1976 Nova: Power Surge Okefenokee Owned Pastor Jones Chronicles Perras Por Ellas: Perdi La Cabeza Puppet Master 4: The Demon Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter Rage Against the Machine: Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium Rd Hot Chili Peppers: Higher Ground Rigoletto Robin Gibb: In Concert with Danish Choir Robin Hood Robot Chicken: Star Wars III Roni Ben-Hur: Chordability Sade: Live in Munich Scenic Scotland
JULY 26 Life During Wartime Todd Solondz’s avant sequel to the wonderfully disturbing Happiness (same effed-up characters, entirely different cast) was woefully underseen in theaters. Thank you, Criterion, for the deserving posthumous props. [Criterion]
Secrets of the Dead: The World’s Biggest Bomb Seven Sins of Kieronymus Bosch Sgt. Frog: Season Three Part 1 Shanghai Red Skatopia Sociedad Mortal Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985 Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: Live at the El Macambo 1983 Stevie Ray Vaughan: Live From Austin, Texas Stevie Ray Vaughan: Pride and Joy Strip-Tease Surviving the Cut Sweet Life Talking Hands TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Literary Romance TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Shakespeare TCM Greatest Classic Legends Collection: Burt Lancaster TCM Greatest Classic Legends Collection: Elizabeth Taylor TCM Greatest Classic Legends Collection: Lucille Ball Tech N9ne: Eurotech Tour Terranova Theatre of Tragedy: Last Curtain Call Third Wave Thomas & Friends: Thomas in Charge Thundercats: Season 1 Part 1 Twisted Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Unique Island Destinations Unique Travel Destinations Waking Madison War of the Roses: A Bloody Crown Western Collector’s Set Vol. 3 White Irish Drinkers Wisconsin Project X Women in Prison Triple Feature World War II Commando Collection WWE: Rey Mysterio – The Life of a Masked Man Yo Gabba Gabba: Party in a Box Zombie Driftwood
2011 NBA Championship – Highlights Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Movie Collection Set 6 American Indian Collection American Muscle Car: The Complete Series Arthur (2011) Beneath the Mississippi Best of Travel: South Africa Bill Moyers: God and Politics Brave New Voices 2010 Clifford the Big Red Dog: Dog Days of Summer Con Artist Cracks Dala: Girls From the North Country – Live in Concert Dark Days Desert Flower Dive! Doctor Who: Season Six, Part One Don “Donzilla” Tjernagel: Filthy Dragonball Z: Dragon Box Vol. 6 Duda Dumbstruck Durakovo: The Village of Fools Elephant DVD Epitafios Season 2 Ferry to Hong Kong Firepower: The Complete Series Frontline: Kill/Capture – Can the U.S. Get Out of Afghanistan? Gaudi’s Barcelona Girls Next Door: Season 6 Go Diego Go! Fiercest Animal Rescues Gungrave: The Complete Series Hey Dude: Season 1 Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird HIdamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu: Complete Collection House of the Rising Sun I Want to See Icarly: The I<3 Icarly Collection Jann Akkerman: Touch of Class Jesse James: Off Road Racing Around the World Just Us Justice League 3 Pack Fun Kids Grow Up Life and Work of Claude Chabrol Limitless Lou Lou Reed: Lollapalooza Live Man, Woman, Wild Mandrake: Season 1 Mayor Cupcake Melrose Place: Sixth Season Mighty Machines: Super Pack MLB: Reds Memories – The Greatest Moments in Cincinnati Reds History MLB: Yankee Stadium – Baseball’s Cathedral Monsterwolf Mountie NHL: Stanley Cup 2010-2011 Champions Nick of Time/What’s Eating Gilbert Grape Noir: The Complete Collection Pathe Pictorial: Britain in Colour in the 1930s Peep World Penny Princess Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune Phillies Memories: The Greatest
Moments in Philadelphia Phillies History Pippi Longstocking: Pippi Goes to the Fair Poky Little Puppy & Friends Politics of Love Potiche Punky Brewster: Best of Season 2 Punky Brewster: Best of Season 3 Queen’s Blade 2: The Evil Eye – Series Part Two Rango Red Sox Memories: The Greatest Memories in Bosox History Reef Reggie Perrin: Set 1 Robbery Under Arms Rockpalast: Krautrock Legends Vol. 1 Royal Air Force in the 1960s: Definitive Short Film Sci-Fi Invasion SImba Simon & Simon: Best of Season 3 Skidoo Small Town Murder Songs Smurfs: A Magical Smurf Adventure Sniper: Unseen Warrior Sound of Insects: Record of a Mummy Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story Stockard Channing Show Sweeney Todd/Sleepy Hollow Take Me Home Tonight Tekken There Were Nights Timeless Animated Tales TNA Wrestling: Immortal Forever? Toddler Favorites: The Movie Top Gear USA: The Complete First Season Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series Ultraman: Series 1 V02 When Animals Strike Back Vol. 1 When Animals Strike Back Vol. 2 Wind Jammers Word: Volume 2 – Shows 5-7 Young Justice: Season One Vol. 1 Young Leaders Zonad JULY 26
African King of Comedy Michael Blackson: Surviving America – Season One Afro-Latino Music in Peru & Colombia: Sons of Benkos/Hands of God American Bully American Grindhouse American Grindhouse/Nightmares in Red, White & Blue American Metal: Classic Car Commercials Amours Imaginaires Angel Beats: Complete Collection Anger Another Take on Catherine Art of Piano: Great Pianists of the 20th Century Art of Singing: Golden Voices of the Century Best of Collection: Here’s Lucy Best of Collection: The Color Honeymooners Best of Collection: The Honeymooners Lost Episodes Big Box of Wood Bio-Dead
Bodyguards and Assassins Born to Ride Breaking Point Bretts: The Complete Collection British Rail Journeys II: Weymouth to the Isle of Wight Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe Charlie Chaplin Vol. 1: Premium Collection Clone Returns Home Colditz Escape of the Birdmen Colosseum: The Complete Reunion Concert – Cologne 1994 Conan: The Adventurer: Season One Crack #11: Rap’s New Generation Cuba: Island of Music Dayereh Mina Dead and the Damned Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis: 19501955 Death Angel December: Vengeance Kill Death of Andy Kaufman Dennis the Menace: Season Two Do Dooni Chaar Dooley and Pals Show: Being Our Best Dooley and Pals Show: Brighter Days Dot… and More Stories for Young Artists Drumbassadors: One for the Money, But Two for the Show Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Elevator Empty Epitafios; Season 2 Extraordinary Minds: Jared Diamond Fast Zombies With Guns Fested: A Journey to Fest 7 Fish Child Fist of the North Star: The Series VOl. 3 Flesh Wounds Flying Deuces Forbidden Knowledge of the Lost Realms: Legacy of Conspiracy Frontline: WikiSecrets – Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 5 General Glorious Battle: The Siege of Fort Erie Goblin Herculoids: The Complete Series High Times Presents: Nico Escondido’s Grow Like a Pro Hitler’s Twilight: The End of Nazi Germany How to Club Dance #1 Beginner Hype: 4th Anniversary Invasion of the Blood Farmers Iran Darroudi: The Painter of Ethereal Moments Ironclad Jackboots on Whitehall Jalsaghar Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler Jersey Shore: Season Three Jetsons Meet the Flintstones John Holt and Freddie McGregor: Living Legends – Live in Concert Johnny Winter: Live at Rockpalast Just William Kanye West & Pharrel: Super Producers in Hip-Hop Kate Bush: A Life of Surprises Kinetik Festival Vol. 1: 2008 Edition
King of Fighters Leon Morin, Priest Life During Wartime Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man Louis Armstrong: Live in Australia Machete Maidens Unleashed Malevolent Creation: Death From Down Under Mandrake: Season 1 Mao’s Last Dancer Mark of Love Matrimony Michael Jackson: DVD Collector’s Box Middle Line Ambient Lazergraphics National Geographic: Civil Warriors Nephew Tommy: Just My Thoughts Nightmare Ombibus: American Profiles On the Buses: The Ultimate Collection Once Upon a Warrior One Piece: Collection 1 Orquesta De Guitarras De Barcelona: Concert al Palau Park Benches Party Day Phasma Ex Machina
Pointer Sisters: Live in Montana 2004 Popovich Brothers of South Chicago Prayer to a Vengeful God Psychopaths: Sex With Hostages Puppet Monster Massacre Rio Eterno Riverdance: Live From Beijing Roaring 20’s: Mick Jagger’s Glory Years Rockpalast: Krautrock Legends Vol. 1 Rose Jang: Broadway Comes to Seoul Arts Center Royal Air Force in the 1960s: Definitive Short Film Scream of the Banshee Sentiment of the Flesh Sesame Street: Big Bird Wishes the Adults Were Kids Sesame Street: The Best Pet in the World Shake Shark Week: Relentless Fury Shaun the Sheep: Animal Antics Shinchan: Season 3 Part 1 Shrinking Violet… and More Stories for Young Performers Sites of the World’s Cultures: Athens – Mother of Western Civilization Snapped the Killer Collection: Complete Season 1 Snoop Dogg & Ice Cube: Gangsta
Rap Icons Sodium Babies Soul Eater Parts 3 & 4 Source Code Strange Girls Strangers Online Street: The Complete Second Season Supernatural: The Anime Series Taras Bulba Task The Box/Fe Theater of Transparency Tortilla Flat Trust Turbulent Skies Twisted Sister: Double Live – Northstage ’82 & NY Steel ‘01 Ultimate Comedy Tour Live Vampire Knight: Guilty, Vol. 3 We Are What We Are Weapon Masters Wedding Present: Drive Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up? Wimbledon 2004 Men’s Singles Final: Federer vs. Roddick Wish Me Luck Series 3 Women Do It Better WWE: Capitol Punishment 2011 WWE: Greatest Stars of the New Millennium Zokkomon
JULY 26 Once Upon A Warrior
A little girl and a blind swordsman team up against an evil queen in a movie that there’s no way we’re ever watching, but assuredly beats the hell out of most of the dreck you expose your kids to.[Disney]
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For the Damned, the Dumb & The Delirious Chllngr Haven TheDeer Tracks The Archer Trilogy Pt. 2 Draconian A Rose for the Apocalypse Gardens & Villa Gardens & Villa CJ Mackintosh Nervous House 20 Memory Tapes Player Piano Pipes You See, Pipes … Lost in the Pancakes Pop Evil War of Angels Pure X Pleasure Julia Stone The Memory Machine Stream of Passion Darker Days Big D … Kids Table
13th Floor Elevators 2 Strong 94 East Art Abscons Jan Akkerman Dennis Alcapone Alkaline Trio Daevid Allen Amen Corner Amen Corner Amen Corner Anderson, Bruford, … The Animals The Animals The Animals Joan Baez Ginger Baker Marty Balin Baring Teeth Shirley Bassey Beatle Jam Stephane Belmondo Black Uhuru Graham Bond Org Ken Boothe The Breakers David Bromberg Del Bromham Dennis Brown Buzzcocks Jim Capaldi
Reverberation 2 Strong If You Feel Like Dancin’ Der Verborgene A Real Elegant Gypsy Wake Up Jam Damnesia Time of Your Life Bend Me Shape Me Hello Suzie High in the Sky Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe Almost Grown Night Time … Right Time Raw Animals Debut Album Plus Dust to Dust The Witcher Atrophy The Magic Is You/Thoughts of Love Live at BB King’s
Same as It Never Was Before
Dub Album One Night at Klooks Kleeks Ain’t That Lovin’ You The Breakers Use Me Devil’s Highway Africa What Do I Get (CD/DVD) Short Cut Draw Blood/ The Contender Kasey Chambers Little Bird Lou Christie I’m Gonna Make You Mine Jimmy Cliff Shout for Freedom Patsy Cline Across the Airwaves Bruce Cockburn Anything, Anytime, Anywhere Bruce Cockburn Breakfast in New Orleans Bruce Cockburn Life Short Call Bruce Cockburn Speechless Bruce Cockburn The Charity of Night Bruce Cockburn You Pay Your Money Bruce Cockburn You’ve Never Seen Everything Crack the Sky Live: Recher Theater Lavell Crawford Can a Brother Get Some Love? Creepersin/Diem… Triple Threat of Terror Rick Danko & Friends Iron Horse: North Hampton 1995 Rick Danko & R Manuel Uncle Willie’s 1989 Decapitated Carnival Is Forever Declaime Self Study Desmond Dekker Gimme Gimme Dillinger Some Like It Hot Dr Midnight & Mercy … I Declare: Treason Mickey Dolenz Plastic surgery Dr. John New Orleans Man
Neutralize the Threat All My Tears Loot Can’t Get You Out of My Head ELO Part II Last Train to London ELO Part II Rockaria Fair to Midland Arrows and Anchors Billy C. Farlow You Better Run Chris Farlowe Ride On Baby G Farr & The T-Bones Rare T-Bone Flotsam and Jetsam Dreams of Death Eleanor Friedberger Last Summer Fusion Absolute Fusioon Fuzztones Preaching to the Perverted Gathering Britannia The Bridge Between Zack Glass Southern Skies Golden Palominos Celluloid Collection Gong Opium for the People N Gravenites/J Cipollin Nick Gravenites/ John Cipollin Graveyard Boulevard O.G.R.E. Great Commission Heavy Worship Lee Greenwood I Want to Be in Your World Grobschnitt 2008 Live 2010 Woodie Guthrie Great Dust Storm Woodie Guthrie Old Time Religion Woodie Guthrie Vigilante Man Eric Harland Voyager: Live by Night Haunted Heads Songs Playing in My Head Hawkwind Space Chase 1980-1985 Hawkwind Spacebrock Hawkwind Urban Guerilla Hekate Die Welt Der Dunklen Garten Levon Helm Take Me … River 1978-82 Hence Seelenfutterung Jimi Hendrix & Lonn… Jimi Hendrix & Lonnie Youngblood Johnny Hiland All Fired up Hipower Ent. Pres. Summertime Party Music Bobby Hird Heartbeat Away TheHollies On a Carousel 1963-1974: The Ultimate Hollies Buddy Holly Raining in My Heart Buddy Holly True Love Ways John Holt Just the Two of Us Human League Live at the Dome CD/DVD Humble Pie Home and Away I Roy From the Top Iced Earth Festivals of the Wicked Icon in Me Head Break Solution Impossible Gentlemen The Impossible Gentlemen In the Nursery Blind Sound Gregory Isaacs Let Me Be the One Gregory Isaacs My Day Will Come Gregory Isaacs Steal a Little Love J.D. Overdrive Sex, Whiskey & Southern Blood J21 Beyond the Holographic Veil Johnny & Hurricanes Beat Johnny & Hurricanes Hot Johnny & Hurricanes Rock P Kantner & M Balin Great American Music Hall Carole King Best Is Yet to Come Carole King Crying in the Rain Carole King Up on the Rof Dave King Trucking Co. Good Old Light Kruk It Will Not Come Back Lady Gaga The Document Rosie Ledet Come Get Some Lil Cuete Stay Out of My Way Lil Keke 713: Volume 5 Little Richard Baby Face Little Richard Rip It Up Little Richard She’s Got It The Living Fields Running Out of Daylight Lock Up Necropolis Transparent The London Souls The London Souls Magma Uber Kommandoh JD Malone & Experts Avalon Mama Doni Band Chanukah Fever Mama Doni Band I Love Herrin Manes Vilosophe Manufactura Pleasures of the Damned Bob Marley African Herbsman Bob Marley Concrete Rebel Bob Marley Dub Collection Bob Marley Keep on Skanking Earth Crisis Alton Ellis Steve Ellis ELO Part II
Stream of Passion july 12
Darker Days These guys aren’t American? You don’t say! Despite the unbelievably awful awesome moniker, the Dutch symphonic/prog/ goth crew continue to capably serve the interests of their symphonic/prog/goth audience. [Napalm] Bob Marley Bob Marley Bob Marley Bob Marley Bob Marley Bob Marley Bob Marley Mayan Brian McKnight Mechanical Poet Megadeth Meters Guy Mitchell Guy Mitchell Guy Mitchell Van Morrison Van Morrison Stuart Moxham Mr. Capone-E National Health Nectar Negura Bunget Rick Nelson Willie Nelson Neranature Neville Brothers Nice OFTB Buck Owens Augustus Pablo Paragons Carl Perkins Carl Perkins Carl Perkins Lee Perry Pharaoh Gene Pitney Planet 9 Poets Predator Billy Preston Billy Preston Billy Preston R.E.M. Radio Dead Ones Rapid Ric Red Krayola Rhapsody of Fire Tommy Roe Leon Rosselson Samael Sameti Santa Esmeralda Santa Esmeralda Santa Esmeralda Santana Santana
Natural Mystic Rainbow Country Small Axe Thank You Lord Touch Me Trench Town Rock Volume 1 Lion Quarterpast Just Me Woodland Prattlers Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying A Message From the Meters Music Music Music One by One Singing the Blues Here Comes Madame George Six Winter Mornings Tears of a Soldier Dreams Wide Retrospektive 1969-1980 Poarta De Dinc Garden Party Face of a Fighter Foresting Wounds Hook, Line and Sinker Hang On to a Dream Damn Near Dead Before You Go/No One But You Message Music: Digital Productions 1986-1994 Island in the Sun Blue Suede Shoes Caldonia Matchbox Enter the Dragon Ten Years A Street Called Hope Planet 9 Baby Don’t You Do It Born in Blood Drown in My Own Tears Slippin’ & Slidin’ Soul Meeting Life’s Rich Pageant (Deluxe) AAA Whut It Dew (The Album) Hurricane Fighter From Chaos to Eternity Jam Up Jelly Tight World Turned Upside Down Lux Mundi Hungry for Love Gloria Hasta Luego Querida Te Quiero Acapulco Sunrise Jingo
Attack Attack! july 19
Attack Attack! Westerville, Ohio’s demigods of crabcore (there’s a Welsh band of the same name that has to be hating life for the last three years) returns with more reheated deathcore breakdowns and unfortunate skinny jeans. [Rise] Latin Tropical Kairos Independence Ska Can You Hear Me Kingdom Days in an Evil Age Sly & Robbie African Culture Small Faces Here Come the Small Faces Snowball Cold Heat Snowball Follow the White Light Soft Machine Shooting at the Moon Soil Throttle Junkies Sol Invictus The Cruelest Month Sons and Daughters Mirror Mirror SSS Problems to the Answer Amy Stroup The Other Side of Love Sessions Suicide Silence The Black Crown Swck Unicorn Chasers T’Pau Sex Talk Tesla Twister Wires George Thorogood … 2120 South Michigan Avenue Toots & The Maytals Pressure Drop: The Golden Tracks Trachtenburg Family … Lost and Found Travelers Journey Into the Sun Within Elan Trotman Love and Sax Tommy Tutone A Long Time Ago Ultravox New Frontier V8 Wankers Iron Crossroads Townes Van Zandt Buckskin Stallion Blues Townes Van Zandt Live in Texas Townes Van Zandt Poncho and Lefty Various Artists Best of Brit Blues Volume 1 Various Artists Best of Brit Blues Volume 2 Various Artists Best of Sun Records Vol. 2 Various Artists Best of Sun Records Volume 1 Various Artists British Blues Breakers Various Artists Champion Records Various Artists Classic Memories Vol 1 Various Artists Classic Memories Vol 2 Various Artists Do You Remember Various Artists Hip-Hop, Freestyle & R&B Platinum Classics Various Artists Holy Hip-Hop Vol. 11 Various Artists London Social Degree Various Artists Paul McCartney’s Jukebox Various Artists Psychedelic Chemistry Volume 1 Various Artists Psychedelic Chemistry Volume 2 Various Artists Reference Sound Edition: Voice Various Artists Reggae Fever Various Artists Roots of Trash & Garage Various Artists Sounds of ‘60s Various Artists Sun Records Collection Various Artists This Is London Various Artists Ultra Weekend 7 Santana Sepulture Skatalites Skyscreamers Sleeping Giant
Various Artists Virgin Steele Wages of Fear Washed Out John Wetton William E Whitmore Robin & L Williams Wishbone Ash Bobby Womack Yardbirds Yes Zombie John Zorn
White Boy Blues Noble Savage Wages of Fear Within and Without Raised in Captivity Field Songs Stonewall Country Blosn Preacher Stroll on With the Yardbirds Fly From Here Dedication Enigmata
Antony & Johnsons Attack Attack Big Talk Chus & Ceballos Crystal Antlers Dangerous Summer Delusions EDM Fall on Your Sword Giacomo Gates Ben Leinbach Milk Maid Pictureplane Rev Peyton’s Big … David Rotheray Spiro That’s Outrageous Cedar Walton
Swanlights EP Attack Attack! Big Talk Back on Tracks Vol. 2 Two-Way Mirror War Paint The Language Barrier Night People Another Earth The Revolution Will Be Jazz Ben Leinbach Pres. Sangha Yucca Thee Physical Peyton on Patton The Life of Birds Lightbox Teenage Scream The Bouncer
All Shall Perish Allure America Jon Anderson Ani Lo. Projekt A Hadzichristos Armored Saint As Hell Retreats Black Rob Will Blunderfield Bodeans Borgore Boss Hogg outlawz Boys No Good Brainticket Broadway Cast Brothers of Brazil Mark Burchfield E Burdon & Animals
Joss Stone july 26
This Is Where It Ends Kiss From the Past Back Pages Survival and Other Stories Miracle Rembetika 6- Selected Recordings March of the Saint Volition Game Tested, Street Approved Hallelujah Indigo Dreams Delicious Serve & Collect 3 Never Felt Better The Vintage Anthology 1971-1980 Million Dollar Quartet Brothers of Brazil Country Piano Memories Athens Traffic Live (CD+DVD)
Normally we wouldn’t give Joss much ink in these parts, but for god’s sake, two dudes were arrested in June who were planning to rob and murder her. For real. Hope this album’s a nice, successful distraction for her. [Stone’d Records / Surfdog]
The Burritos Sound as Ever Cadence Rhetoric Cerebral Ballzy Cerebral Ballzy Eric Church Chief Cipher Elemental Forces City of Prague Philh… The Music of James Horner Cumberland river The Life We Live Darkthrone Goatlord Reverend Gary Davis Ragtime Guitar/Children of Zion Dead Letter Circus This Is the Waqrning Falling in Reverse The Drug in Me Is You Dominick Farinacci Dawn of Goodbye Fever Tree Live Flux of Pink Indians Not So Brave Fullforce One Dobie Gray Drift Away/Loving Arms/ Hey Dixie Jack Harrison The Enchanted Island Heartsounds Drifter Hipower Ent. Pres. Hoodtimes Music Homo-Futura Der Neue Mensch The Horrors Skying Hrizg Inferno Iwrestledabearonce Ruining It for Everybody F James & Mary-Ann … We Belong Together Jasta Jasta Karmakanic In a Perfect World Karthago Live at the Roxy Karthago Rock ‘n’ Roll Testament Kindred … Family Soul Love Has No Recession Carole King Pearls: The Songs of Goffin and King Greg Lake Greg Lake Greg Lake Manoeuvres Little Dragon Ritual Union Mariza Fado Tradicional Mark Masri Intimo: Love Songs of Italy Neighb’rhood Childr’n Neighb’rhood Childr’n Ni Hao Marvelous Nitzinger Kiss of the Mudman Nosound The Northern Religion of Things Alex O’Rion The Bigger Room Oscar & Majestics No Chance Baby Pantommind Shade of Fate/Lunasense The Pineapple Thief 10 Stories Down Poco Head Over Heels/Rose of Cimarron Popul Vuh Revisited, Remixed 1970-99 The Quill Full Circle Buddy Rich Different Drummer/Stick It Craig Richards Pres. Fabric 58 Rival Sons Pressure and Time Dex Romweber Duo Is That You in the Blue? Roxette Greatest Hits Klaus Schulze La Vie Electronique Vol. 10 Severe Torture Feasting on Blood Severe Torture Misanthropic Carnage Soundtrack Being Human Soundtrack Werewolves on Wheels Terry Stamp Bootlace Johnny and the Ninety Nines Joss Stone LP1 Survivor Caught in the Game Survivor Premonition Survivor Survivor Survivor Vital Signs Survivor When Seconds Count Unholy Rapture Jai Uttal Queen of Hearts G Vannelli & Metrop… North Sea Jazz Fest 2002 Various Artists Kirtan Nation Various Artists Om Yoga Vol. 1: Modern Music for Vinyasa Various Artists Rough Guide to Sufi Music Various Artists Rough Guide to World Lullabies Various Artists The Spar Records Story Victory Don’t Talk Science T-Bone Walker The Essential T-Bone Walker Collection WASP Inside the Electric Circus WASP The Headless Children Muddy Waters Muddy, Brass … Blues Mitch Winehouse Rush of Love World Under Blood Tactical Wu-Tang Legendary Weapons Zounds The Redemption of Zounds cowbell
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Set It Off
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Trick ‘r Treat
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The Adjustment Bureau
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Blue Crush 2
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Two Minutes of Hate
Behind the Stupid “Hey! You! What the fuck is wrong with you?” —Combichrist
uickly, what’s the biggest secret in rock ’n’ roll?
The drugs? The sex? The fuck you say. Thanks to VH1, I can name practically every pill that Nikki Sixx has every ingested (these include ’ludes, Ecstasy, Oxycodone and Flintstone’s Chewable Vitamins), as well as provide a rough estimate of his sexual conquests (3,789— not counting handjobs). No, gentle reader, rock’s best kept secret is the stupidity. For a generation now, music writers have successfully fooled the general public into believing that anybody who can carry a tune or pluck a string is a deeply introspective amateur historian and physicist, instead of the drooling idiot that 99.999 percent of all musicians actually are. This is probably because if writers on the music beat had to admit to themselves that nearly everyone they’ve ever interviewed had the IQ of a paramecium, they would succumb to terminal ennui. This is also why Madonna is often presented as a pensive soul on an intense spiritual quest instead of as a moron who dropped a bundle of cash on magical red string. (Google it, shitbird.) Don’t believe me? Well, fuck you in the cochlea with Nikki Sixx’s penis (thus bringing his total to 3,790—again, not counting handjobs). I’ve personally met dozens of musicians who had been described by the press as “literate,” “profound” and—my fuckin’ favorite—“deeply in touch with the human condition.” Of these, roughly half couldn’t read at a fourth grade level. Another third had never read a book other than a comic book (the same admission we rightfully mock Snooki for making). And one, Mr. “deeply in touch with the human condition,” actually asked me if farts had lumps. Now, if I were Sting or Bono, my word would probably be enough for you. But since I’ve never been called upon to pontificate on the plight of the rain forests, I can sense that further proof will be needed. Below are four musicians and the incredibly stupid shit they believe in: You might remember Billy Corgan as the cue-ball-headed former frontman for the Smashing Pumpkins (you also might remember the real name of the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island was Jonas Grumby), but did you know that when Billy’s not busy tweeting insults to Courtney Love (the only acceptable use of Twitter), he’s enlightening the world about the hazards of “chemtrails,” which, according to Bill, are dangerous emissions from airplanes, but which pesky non-guitar playing killjoy science types insist are merely condensed water vapor? 64
Another believer in chemtrails is the artist currently known as
Prince. Apparently, in the Purple Universe, chemtrails have an ad-
verse effect on group dynamics. As Prince told talk show host Tavis Smiley, “…you started to see a whole bunch of them, and the next [thing] you know, everybody in your neighborhood was fighting and arguing and you didn’t know why.” And those silly sociologists thought all those riots stemmed from poverty and racial tensions. But when it comes to raw paranoia, Charlie Daniels makes Corgan and His Purple Highness look like a pair of purple pikers. About twice a week on his “Soapbox” (known to kook enthusiasts as “The Shithouse”), Charlie diligently warns his inbred readers about the Gay Muslim plot to overthrow America’s fiddle playing contests… or whatever. And last (and probably least), we have Sammy Hagar, who recently contributed his share to the utter bullshit that is extraterrestrial visitation by claiming that aliens “downloaded something into me!” “Hey Zoork, we can’t find Stephen Hawking. How ’bout if we just download this shit into somebody with the same initials?” Rodney Anonymous is the singer for Philadelphia punk rock
legends the Dead Milkmen (though not the guy singing on “Punk Rock Girl”), the hurdy-gurdyist for 25 Cromwell Street and the guy behind the Philadelphia City Paper’s world music column, “Aid or Invade.” He tells you how to live at rodneyanonymous.com. illustration by jim tierney
Jill Scott /// The Light of the sun
I N S TO R E S J U LY 19
Alicia Keys /// songs in A minor 10th Anniversary Edition
a v a i la b le f o r
Jagged Edge /// The Remedy
NEW RELEASES FROM SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT
IN STORES JULY 12
LEGENDS AND LADIES... ROCKERS AND PURISTS...
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SARAH JAROSZ Follow Me Down ALSO ON
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LEVON HELM Ramble At The Ryman
Highly anticipated CD and DVD release of the legendary performance featuring Sheryl ALSO ON Crow, John Hiatt, Buddy Miller, Sam Bush and more
VINYL IN STORES JULY 12 IN STORES NOW
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NICK 13 Nick 13
Long awaited solo release from the frontman of Tiger Army. Featuring guests Sara Watkins, Lloyd Green and Josh Grange
indie record stores in your own backyard
Hereâ€™s where to find a local retailer that carries the MonitorThis! Sampler and even more treats!
Silver Platters Seattl e
Gallery of Sound
r i c h m ond, va
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
Monster Music & Video
Sac r amento
Ch arl eston , SC
The Exclusive Company
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
Published on Jun 29, 2011
Published on Jun 29, 2011
"This is Not an Indie Rock Magazine." Cowbell Magazine features My Morning Jacket, Gomez, No Surrender, Conan O'Brien, Brian Eno, Tyler the...