December 31, 2014

Electrical Spectacle >> Krafty twerk

Electrical Spectacle - "Transcontinental"
(self-released, 2001 / 2002; Backporch Revolution, 20__)

Note: I wrote this post on the same day I made my last post, the Paradise Vendors song, July 31st.  The only reason I didn't post this one was the Palestine-vs.-Israel conflict, as well as the rash of beheadings by ISIS.  It just felt inappropriate to post such a fun and flippant song at that time.  Then the Mike Brown fiasco happened, etc., and everyone on social media turned into an idiot, and I ended up spending the summer and fall adjusting my entire sociopolitical worldview to these eye-opening realities.  (Key terms I learned: Cultural Marxism and Identity Politics.)  However, it's now New Year's Eve and this song is the ultimate party jam and this is America, so here you go.

Electrical Spectacle was a New Orleans band consisting of Mike Mayfield and Anton Gussoni.  They made party-friendly electronic dancescapes that answer the question: What would Kraftwerk have sounded like if they had originated in New Orleans rather than in Germany?  Since Kraftwerk literally contains the word "twerk," you know they were a deranged party band in an alternate universe, and New Orleans is an alternate universe, so do the math.  This song sure does sound like it was inspired by Kraftwerk's "Ruckzuck".  That was the theme song for the science show Newton's Apple, which I watched religiously in the '80s.  (Check out this mind-blowing comment about "Ruckzuck" on YouTube by user dabidosan: "Can't believe I'm going to put this out here, but.....This used to be the theme song to the children's show Newton's Apple. Well....when I was little, every time the show would come on......I would take my badminton rackets and flap them on my back while hopping on one leg to this was my 'Mosquito Dance.'")

Mood Modulation EP (CD-R, 2001)

Electrical Spectacle (CD-R, 2002)

I heard this track a lot on WTUL in the early '00s.  I actually have it both on the Mood Modulation EP (CD-R, 2001) and the band's self-titled album (CD-R, 2002).  The mp3 I'm posting here is from the 2001 EP, just because it's surely much harder to find.  Both versions sound almost identical, though the first one was made entirely by Mayfield when it was a solo project, and the second version was made by Mayfield, Gussoni and drummer Louis Romanos when it had become a true band.  My copy of Mood Modulation has cool little pinholes punched into the cover near each corner around the atom design.  "Transcontinental" (even the title has an "international man of mystery" feel to it) is remarkably solid from an instrumental standpoint, down to the snappy drumming and the killer synth attack.  The fact that one person put this whole song together on his own is simply breathtaking.  Some vocals might've helped it to reach a wider audience, but may have also tarnished its aesthetic.  It should've been used in one of those Austin Powers movies, as Fantastic Plastic Machine's "Bachelor Pad" was.

L-R: Gussoni, Romanos, Mayfield; photo from 1/22/02 issue of Gambit

Local indie label Backporch Revolution says this (er, they did back in July... it has now been deleted) about the Mood Modulation EP: "From spaced-out krautrock to space age bossanova, the 2001 debut 4-track EP from Electrical Spectacle is arguably the most-played local release on WTUL in the last five years. It's never been readily available, though, so we're finally re-releasing it on the web."

Local newsweekly Gambit has a great article by Michael Patrick Welch (a.k.a. The White Bitch) which talks about how bands like Electrical Spectacle fit into the early '00s NOLA scene.

I never saw Electrical Spectacle, but I have seen Mayfield live, as a member of ambient droners Liteworks in 2009, and in '80s-style minimal wavers ((PRESSURES)) in 2014.  I don't think I ever saw any band featuring Gussoni, but I seem to remember talking to him about music right outside of the Loyola library in early 2001.  The full-band version of Electrical Spectacle featured amazing Jaki Liebezeit-esque drummer Romanos of chill local jazz/electronic duo Permagrin.  I saw the 'Grin three times, all in 2004, including once at Jazz Fest.

Planets with similar climates: Kraftwerk - "Ruckzuck" (1970), Fantastic Plastic Machine - "Bachelor Pad" (1997), Quintron - "Bug Attack" (1998), Telefon Tel Aviv - "My Week Beats Your Year" (2003), Aphex Twin - "Girl/Boy Song" (1996), Harald Grosskopf - "So Weit, So Gut" (1980).

July 31, 2014

Paradise Vendors >> I know what you need

Paradise Vendors - "Prozac" (a.k.a. "Proloft")
(self-released [Spartie Records], 2003 / 2005)

Paradise Vendors were a short-lived New Orleans band, or dare I say supergroup, named after the fictitious hot dog company for which Ignatius J. Reilly worked in the novel A Confederacy Of Dunces.  I read that book over 20 years ago and later unknowingly went to the same university (Loyola) as its author.  The book has always annoyed me a bit, but it's undeniably a classic of Southern literature.

I first heard this song on WTUL in late 2003, under its original title of "Prozac."  I was driving and had no cell phone yet, so when I got home I immediately called the station to ask what the song was.  I knew it'd go down as a local classic.  (This mp3 is from the impossibly-rare Music 1... demo EP CD-R.)  In 2004 PV played around town a lot and in early 2005 put out their one and only album, Candy.  It included "Prozac," but under the name "Proloft," presumably to avoid lawsuits, though the second name seems more likely stir up two lawsuits, if you ask me.  The semi-rapped ending verse of the song reminds of me of the surrealist "eatin' cars" part in Blondie's "Rapture," and the song in general has a playfully quirky, genre-busting feel like that of "Rapture."

Live in the crimson confines of Circle Bar on Oct. 26, 2004; photo by Jason Songe

I saw a subtly brilliant performance by a local band called the Vivid Prawns in March 1998 at the Mermaid Lounge, with fellow locals Sage Maas (proggy alt-metal) and Zoom (lame retro power pop).  The Prawns were basically a clone of The Sea And Cake (one of my favorite bands ever), and I was sure they'd get signed to Thrill Jockey Records, but they never released any official music, to my knowledge, and kinda faded away.  If anyone has any Vivid Prawns music or info to send my way, please do so.  They morphed into Veloka in the early '00s or perhaps late '90s.  So if you know about the two bands that made up PV, you'll understand how they got their hybrid sound: smooth tropical stylings from the Vivid Prawns, and burlesque-y edge from Veloka.  Paradise Vendors' bassist Dave Baker and drummer Elzy Lindsey were each in the Vivid Prawns and Veloka, as well as some band called Nuclear Choir.)  I'm sure I'm making this sound way too confusing...  So I'll put it this way: The bassist and drummer in any band comprise what is known as the rhythm section.  The following three NOLA bands had the same rhythm section: The Vivid Prawns, Veloka, Paradise Vendors.  And the synth guru from Electrical Spectacle, Anton Gussoni, was PV's secret weapon.  Add the dynamic vocal stylings and fashion sense of Jeanne Stallworth and you have the final piece in the Paradise puzzle.

I don't have any clips of the Vivid Prawns, but here's one of Veloka at the Howlin' Wolf (now called Republic) in glorious 144p:

Since I think it's rude to embed more than one video per page, see another super-psychedelic clip of Veloka here.

Hidden under a "Read More" tab at CD Baby is a great trove of info about Paradise Vendors, so I will simply cut and paste some of it over here, in case that page ever disappears.
First is a bio, presumably written by the band members themselves:

"If the illegitimate children of Martin Denny and Nancy Sinatra grew up in New Orleans and they formed a band... or you played turntables with LPs by Brasil 66, Dick Dale, The Pixies, and Burt Bacharach simultaneously and all the tunes were in E minor... or punks play bossa nova in the Irish Channel... or The Cramps fell in love with Doris Day... You might have pop exotica space rock.

When bassist Dave Baker (Veloka [alternative rock], The Vivid Prawns [Asian pop rock fusion], Nuclear Choir [new wave punk]) and drummer Elzy Lindsey (Veloka, The Vivid Prawns, Nuclear Choir, Fucus and way too many more bands to mention...) met thespian and chanteuse Jeanne Stallworth, (The Foxy HooHoos), guitarist Robert Vicknair (Veloka, Frank [digital garage], Merkins [post punk]) and last but not least, Anton Gussoni (Electrical Spectacle) on Moog and Rhodes piano... the eclectic collaboration of Paradise Vendors was born."

Here are excerpts from some local reviews:

Bunny Matthews (OffBeat magazine) describes our music as "excellent."
Anthony DelRosario (Turducken Productions) says "Paradise Vendors blends gypsy, surf, new wave, moog stuff, cabaret, world percussion, trashy girl rock & spacey instrumentals into an otherworldly hybrid too eclectic to readily classify."
Steve Perrin (rock journalist) says "P.J. Harvey meets Marlene Dietrich."
Jason Songe ( says "The music was a soundtrack to an underbelly... The band's music exposed what was under the city's black veil."
Keith Spera (Lagniappe / Times-Picayune) describes Candy as "eclectic, adventurous and artful modern pop..."
Alex Rawls (Gambit) says Paradise Vendors' music "evokes the luxuriousness of artists like Les Baxter or John Barry."

Songe is the affable booker at the Circle Bar, and he used to run the aforementioned site, which was an invaluable resource for reviewing under-the-radar local bands in the pre-MySpace/Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter era.  It has what are probably the only two detailed gig reviews that Paradise Vendors ever received, replete with photos:
Cafe Brasil (April 11, 2004)
Circle Bar (Oct. 26, 2004)

Last month I finally(!) got the original 2003 demo EP, Music 1..., whilst enjoying an in-store performance by What Moon Things at Euclid Records.  Afterwards, I convinced the band to snag a used copy of Candy for a few bucks after I had a Euclid employee play "Prozac" on the stereo.

This is of course the EP spread open; the front cover uses the same photo that's on the CD.
It's a purse with a Paradise Vendors 7" record (which doesn't actually exist) sewn or glued onto it, replete with the band's label, "Spartie Records." And a light-up ring.

Planets with similar climates: Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra - "Some Velvet Morning" (1967), Moonshake - "Exotic Siren Song" (1996), Blondie - "Rapture" (1980), Bleach - "Surround" (1991), The Cardigans - "Carnival" (1994), Furry Things - "Burn For" (1997).

April 19, 2014

Pure Bathing Culture >> You know it's your time, you're the one

Pure Bathing Culture - "Pendulum"
(Partisan Records [U.S.] / Memphis Industries [Europe],  2013)

It's a huge honor to present this song.  I first heard it in summer 2k13 on Sirius' XM U station.  I was immediately floored that an unknown new band could barge out of the gates with such a masterfully-crafted song.  (Though I secretly wondered if Pure Bathing Culture was Memoryhouse under a new name...)  And the opening jangly guitar chords made me think it was a cover of the Go-Betweens' brilliant "Streets Of Your Town" (see video embedded below), but luckily it turned out to be an entirely new song by an entirely new band, and it blew me an entirely new mind.

This truly should've been a massive radio hit.  If you're a fan of production like I am, you'll revel in every little detail of this song as it leaps out of the speakers with unmitigated authority, and it will truly be stuck in your head for the rest of your life.  I'm sure the band's manager or publicist is a nice person, and was smart enough to choose to work with such a talented band, but he or she needs to be replaced immediately.  In America's current musical climate, in which completely hookless, soulless songs by the likes of Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, and Arcade Fire are becoming hits or semi-hits left and right, it should be pretty easy for any trained squid to finesse this song onto playlists nationwide.  Obviously it did get onto Sirius, which is quite a taste-making entity, but the only times I've heard it on WTUL were when I requested it.  In fact, a DJ last fall played it back-to-back with "Streets Of Your Town," at my request.  I also got KLSU to play it last fall at my request.  It was on some sort of regular rotation on Sirius XM U, because I heard it several more times there.  In fact, Sirius was so devoted to this band that they hosted a live in-studio performance / interview session in September.  I recorded some of it, mainly because the lyrics to "Pendulum" were a lot easier to make out in the live version.  Watch it here.

Here's the Go-Betweens song I mentioned above.  Check out how similar the opening guitar part is to that of "Pendulum":

Note: That's the "big-budget" version of the video; there was also a more low-key original version that focused more literally on the streets of an Aussie town.  So, if the Go-Bees were able to get TWO videos made for their killer song, how come Pure Bathing Culture didn't even get one? Refer back to the criticisms I had for PBC's management...)

Download an interesting remix of this song called "Pendulum (Women's Hour Edit)" for free here.

Stairway left after bombing of Aleppo, Syria by the Assad regime. This reminded me of a pendulum.
(Posted by Tumblr user miymintimatmazel; photographer unknown.)

Planets with similar climates: The Go-Betweens - "Streets Of Your Town" (1988), Puro Instinct - "Slivers Of You" (2010), Cocteau Twins - "Heaven Or Las Vegas" (1990), Memoryhouse - "Heirloom" & "Sleep Patterns" (2011), Spiritualized - "Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space" (1997), Wild Nothing - "Through The Grass" (2012), Slowdive - "Alison" (1993).

March 19, 2014

Wild Nothing >> The past was folded up and in the twinkle of an eye everything had been changed

Wild Nothing - "Paradise" (feat. Michelle Williams)
(Captured Tracks, 2012)

Yes, this is the "video version" of Wild Nothing's shoulda-been-a-megahit, featuring ultramegafamous actress Michelle Williams(!).  M.W. recites from Iris Murdoch's 1975 novel A Word Child in the middle of the song, which is just a spacey instrumental passage in the album version.  This Michelle-fortified version is not available anywhere, and believe me, I looked high and low for it, so this is certainly a Blowtorch Baby exclusive.  The place I ripped it from rhymes with MooCube.

Counting days

The opening synth wash sure reminds me of the melody in Slowdive's best-known song, "Alison".  I first heard this song in my car while parked in a thrift store parking lot in Terrytown in summer of 2012.  Its amazing bassline and breezy overall feel prompted me to immediately text my sister to tell her to check it out.  I wasn't yet obsessed with WN, but it happened fairly quickly.  It ended up being a no-brainer to name Nocturne my favorite album of the year, and I think most followers of this blog would agree with me on that.

Last October, I finally got to see Wild Nothing live, opening for Local Natives at Tipitina's, and thankfully they played "Paradise."  Yes, the bassline is just as huge & badass live as it is on record.  Still amazed / saddened that they weren't headlining.  And next month the headliners are opening for Kings Of Leon at the N.O. Arena(!).

Mon. Mar. 10: Went to the Circle Bar to see Weekend + Nothing + AAN (pronounced "On").  AAN's singer has a beautiful voice, not unlike Wayne Coyne's, and the band cranked out multifaceted, Yo La Tengo-esque indie rock. The guitarist with the white Jazzmaster was almost a dead ringer for Damon Albarn, so I expect a strong female fanbase with this band.  Ashley had to leave to get to sleep.  I wanted her to see Nothing, who sound like a recreation of Slowdive / MBV on record.  Much to my surprise, they sounded more like Slayer live, so I was actually kind of glad she missed them.  They played five songs from the new album, and one from their 6-song EP.  Weekend were as streamlined and muscular as I had anticipated they'd be.  After the disappointment of no "Spiral" from Wye Oak the previous night, I had to deal with Weekend not playing the song I wanted to see, "Mirror."  Their singer seemed a bit drunk and angry, swinging his bass into the crowd at one point.  He got rather forcefully pushed back by them.  And each band only played for about 30 mins.  But overall it was a good night, and the highlight was Weekend's "Just Drive," which I got a full video of.  Nothing's bassist (also in Whirr and Death Of Lovers) was really engaging and we recommended shoegaze bands to each other.  Drove down Bourbon St. blasting "It's Alright" on Weekend's album Jinx, as I had just bought the CD at the gig.
Fun Fact: I sat next to local jazz drumming icon Johnny Vidacovich during Nothing.  Not sure why he was at this show...  Also met a guy who flew to L.A. just to see a recent reunion of the band Failure, so we talked about our love of Failure for quite a bit.

Tue. Mar. 11: Went back to the Spanish Moon to catch Weekend and Nothing again.  Right before this show, I stopped at F.Y.E. and got the latest CDs by Chairlift, CHVRCHES, and Danny Brown.  Seeing these bands on a stage in a much larger venue with a better sound system made quite a difference.  (Not dissing the Circle Bar at all, by the way.)  The crowd was only about two dozen souls.  No flyers for this show were spotted around the area.  You do the math...  Nothing played the same basic set again; one of their singers told me the previous night that they do the same 35-minute set each night on this tour.  And yes, just like the previous night, they sounded more like Slayer than Slowdive.  Traded more shoegaze recommendations with Nothing's bassist and merch guy.  Weekend's set, on the other hand, was quite different from the previous night.  They started with "Just Drive" (said the drummer, though I thought it was "July"), ended with "Coma Summer," and did a killer "Mirror" in between.  (The singer introduced that song by saying it was about his mom... then, after a short pause, said it was about his dad.)  Overall, they did more krautrock-y, jam-friendly songs than the previous night.  Afterwards I shot some pool upstairs by myself, then talked with Weekend's awesome drummer.  Some of the bands we touched on included CAN, Moonshake, Heat Dust, Belong, and Glish.  I didn't buy a drink at any of these three shows... Sorry, bartenders!  Had to spend a lot on gas and merch, and booze is very low on my priorities list.
Some of the excellent music heard on the club's PA on this night included lots of weird hip hop, The Cure's "One Hundred Years" (seguing into Nothing's first song), some Prefab Sprout, Flipper's "Ha Ha Ha," and the Chameleons' "Don't Fall."  I got a particular kick out of the Chameleons song, because I had just posted "Swamp Thing" on my Tumblr a few hours earlier, and I leaned over the second-floor balcony (this venue used to be a fire station) during the aforementioned game of pool while singing the phrase "donnnn't fall."  Kinda rad.

Sat. Mar. 15: Bought some plants at the annual Parkway plant sale @ DIllard University.  At Bed Bath & Beyond that night, I walked right by the first person I ever got a New Year's kiss from and she didn't recognize me.  In the twinkle of an eye everything had been changed indeed...

Planets with similar climates: Catherine Wheel - "Flower To Hide" (1992), Slowdive - "40 Days" & "Alison" (1993), The Smiths - "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" (1985).

March 14, 2014

Poolside >> The starlight will guide us through the night

Poolside - "Slow Down"
(Day & Night Recordings, 2012)

I can't believe I never posted this.  I'll sheepishly admit I found out about this song thanks to a feature in Pitchfork that summer, and in my opinion it was the unquestioned slow jam of that year.  The more you listen to this song, the more you realize just how perfect every tiny detail of it is.  You will understand why Poolside calls their music "daytime disco."  They literally have a poolside studio, and in fact that's where their band name comes from.  Best line from the Pitchfork article: "They aspire to parlay their success into DJing high-end pool parties."

Note: This Poolside is a duo from Los Angeles consisting of Filip Nikolic and Jeffrey Paradise.  They are not to be confused with the indie pop group Poolside, whose boring CD Indyglow I bought a decade or so ago.
Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" is basically just a more disco'd up, cocaine'd up, and way less subtle, take on this song. Then again, this song is extremely similar to chillwave's defining song, Washed Out's "Feel It All Around."
Here's the video that started my obsession:

Incredibly, though they obviously made a video for it, this song was apparently not released as a physical single.  Record labels are fucking stupid, as I've said time and time again.  A few months ago, on Sirius radio's Chill station, I heard a Poolside remix of Black Sabbath's chillout classic "Planet Caravan."

Fri. Mar. 7: Went to new Central American / Mexican restaurant Mizado for my mom's birthday.  It was indescribably loud.  My dad, who is 61 and has been to probably thousands of restaurants around the country / world in his life, said it was the loudest restaurant he had ever been in.  I unfortunately missed Com Truise at the Hi-Ho Lounge that night because it sold out.

Sat. Mar. 8: Went to Euclid Records' sidewalk sale ahead of their move one block west later this month.  It turned out to be a stunning 5 CD's for a dollar bonanza.  And the stuff being sold was not garbage either.  Spent 3 hours loading up on tons of CDs, including ::reaches for big cardboard box:: John Coltrane, Sigur Rós, 2Pac, Steve Roach, the Pointer Sisters (x2), Diana Ross / Supremes, Opal, Ivy, Coldcut, Aphex Twin / AFX, Pole (x2), Vangelis, Dizzy GIllespie, Baaba Maal, Deee-Lite, Spearhead, Smashing Pumpkins, Tortoise, Goodie Mob, Royal Trux, Johnny Griffin, Steely Dan, the Crystal Method, Spiritualized, Foreigner, Aaliyah, the Pastels, Henry Mancini, the Telescopes, Adina Howard, Born Against, Beans, Plastikman (x2), Maude Maggart (Fiona Apple's jazz-croonin' sis), Carla Bley, Sponge, Iron & Wine, V/A - Lounge-A-Palooza, Edith Frost, Kings Of Leon, Dead Kennedys (x2), Nine Inch Nails, the Warlocks, Eisley, Sonny Rollins, Delerium, Sting, 702, the Seconds, Jaco Pastorius, the Crimson Curse, the Ocean Blue, Magik Markers, Gang Gang Dance, Amorphous Androgynous (a.k.a. the Future Sound Of London), Robyn, Mötley Crüe, Diana King, Rachelle Ferrell, Liz Story, Mary Lou Lord, Skinny Puppy (x2), David Toop, Foo Fighters, Gravity A, the Other Planets, Reception Is Suspected, Sade, Loop, Paul Simon, Rickie Lee Jones, Autechre, Black Dice, Chris Thomas King, Sam Phillips, Digable Planets, Nas, MGMT, Cex, Keith Jarrett, Primal Scream, Arcturus, the Donnas, Sage Francis, Fluke, Squarepusher, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Michael Gira, Transvision Vamp, Brass Bed, Björk, Davell Crawford, Mercury Rev.  All for only $11.  Wow.  Thank you, Euclid!  I also talked with DJ Lefty Parker about Chapel Hill's early '90s indie rock scene.  He said he worked at Schoolkids Records with members of Superchunk and other bands, told me some stuff about Polvo that kind of blew my mind, and said a band called Metal Flake Mother was the best band in town. This sale, combined with this recent find, has swamped me with CDs.  So I've been busily burning them onto the ol' MacBook so that people on can see what I listen to.  Afterwards, I went to Harold's Nursery and bought an echeveria.

Sun, Mar. 9: Saw Future Islands + Wye Oak + Ed Schraeder's Music Beat at the Spanish Moon.  ESMB play a hokey, primitivist rock n' roll that wears thin very quickly, much like the music of Beat Happening or the White Stripes.  Wye Oak were good, doing mostly stuff from their upcoming album Shriek, according to singer Jenn Wasner.  Plus an intense "Holy Holy."  But the entire reason I made the trek to Baton Rouge was to see them do their masterpiece "Spiral", and they did not.  Oh well.  I asked Wasner if they still play it, and she said they hope to start playing it again soon.  She was beaming after I told her I thought it was the best song of the last five years.  I bought a 7" by her solo project Flock Of Dimes.  Future Islands, fresh off an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, did their usual workmanlike synth-rock replete with odd dance moves from their singer.  I guess being on Letterman didn't provide a huge career boost, because I seem to remember just as many, if not more, people at their show at the Moon in Nov. 2012.  Weird.

Planets with similar climates: Washed Out - "Feel It All Around" (2009), Kool & The Gang - "Summer Madness" (1974), Ween - "Freedom Of '76" (1994), School Of Seven Bells - "Love Play" (2011), Janet Jackson - "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)" (1985), Dead Leaf Echo - "Act Of Truth (Extended Truth Mix)" (2009).

February 24, 2014

Hotel X >> Flute routes

Hotel X - "Iqbal"
(SST Records, 1997)

I wrote most of this post in 2012 or '13 but never posted it.  I got this album, Routes Music, on used CD in '97 for 2 bucks on a whim and found myself smitten by its haphazard blending of styles into a cohesive subtropical gumbo.  This was not long after I had spent a year at the University of Richmond in Hotel X's hometown.  The name of their first album, A Random History Of The Avant Groove, sums up their aesthetic quite well.  I once did an internet search for the band name (pre-Google... I have no idea what search engine I used back then), and I remember that it was a reference to some movie.  This piece is presumably named after Muhammad Iqbal, who helped create the 6th-most populous country on earth, Pakistan.

The coolest thing in my opinion was that SST signed a band like this.  I'm sure the SST logo is the reason I even picked the CD up and inspected it in the first place.  I only ever got one other album by Hotel X, Residential Suite (1994), but didn't like it very much.  Post-1997, the band is still sporadically together, but they seem to only perform live, not release new music.  Based on the insanely huge amount of people who have done time in the Hotel (62, says their website), it must've been some sort of revolving-door collective, apparently always led by Tim Harding.  To see the full list, click here.

Time to cut and paste...  On this album the band was:
Tim Harding: alto sax, bass
Ron Curry: bass, guitar, trombone
Chris Davis: drums
Pat Best: guitar, bass
Eric Ungar: guitar, flute

With guests:
Billy Fox: timbales, percussion
Steve Matthews: vibes

According to their website, "Hotel X toured regionally and nationally between 1992 and 1997, received reviews in Jazz Times, The Washington Post, Option, The Wire and Alternative Press among others; was nominated for Best Jazz Group by NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors) in 1996, and participated in the JVC Jazz Festival in NYC, 1997. National Public Radio selected soundbites of several songs from the Hotel X CD Engendered Species for use between news stories during Morning Edition in 1994. Richmond Magazine awarded Hotel X with the Pollack Prize for Excellence in Arts in September of 2005."
And "Hotel X has shared the stage with Bern Nix (Ornette Coleman and Primetime), Greg Ginn (Black Flag), Balla Kouyate (Super Rail Band), Papa Susso (Gambian kora master),The Roots, Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart, solo), Harvey Sorgen (Hot Tuna), Yellowman, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Ran Blake, Hasidic New Wave, Marc Ribot, Plunky Branch, Wayne Horvitz and Pigpen, Amy Denio, John Bradshaw and Bazooka, just to name a few."

Their website has a photo titled "The Routes Music line up" at the URL, but it won't load.  Oh well.  I prefer to not see what bands look like anyway.  So here's the highly memorable, primitivist album cover:

Here's a great pic I found on Tumblr recently.  If anyone knows what it's from, let me know:

Planets with similar climates: Frank Zappa - "Peaches en Regalia" (1969), maybe some Yusef Lateef (R.I.P.) due to the flute, Gil Scott-Heron, Fela Kuti, '70s Miles Davis, etc.

February 22, 2014

Miracle >> I'm watching the sun fall from the sky, as many have done in the eye of the mind

Alrighty, I'm back.  After realizing three years have passed since I started this thing, I've decided to stop beating around the bush and just post lots of my all-time favorite songs, since I've barely gotten to many of my all-time favorite artists.  Yes, Tumblr has been consuming most of my attention, since I can post major-label songs (recently by the likes of Ween, the Sundays, the Pointer Sisters, the Police, *NSYNC, Ride, PJ Harvey, the Church, Marvin Gaye, Goldie, the Bangles, the Future Sound Of London, Depeche Mode, PM Dawn, Daft Punk, Plexi, Sinéad O'Connor,  etc.), which is something I obviously can't do on here.  I'm going to start doing shorter posts on here.

Miracle - "Strange Taste"
(self-released[?], 2013)

Here is an astounding song from Steve Moore (Zombi) and Daniel O'Sullivan (lots of bands).  It effortlessly lays to waste most of the '80s-wannabe bands of the current era, as well as the output of most actual '80s bands.  I got it for free from Mixmag at SoundCloud.  The production is gorgeous.  You can tell the band did not treat this song as a mere throwaway.

Here are the young men

This song is not on any of Miracle's official releases (an album, an EP, and two singles), for some unfathomable reason.  I really hope they release it as a standalone single, because it could be huge on college radio.  The bio at the Planet Mu page says "In fact it was on a Guapo / Zombi tour in 2006 they first met, with the music starting to trickle out slowly around 2010. Initially the music was intended as an instrumental dance project, however the project started to take on a life of its own when Daniel started to add vocals and lyrics."  I would love to get an instrumental version of "Strange Taste," but the version with vocals is impossible to improve upon.  The long pause between "sun" and "fall" in the chorus is so tantalizing.

I think this sums up Miracle's main influences pretty well

The concerts I've seen since I last posted on here 4 months ago:
Cat Power + Nico Turner at House Of Blues
Rihanna + A$AP Rocky at New Orleans Arena (rechristened Smoothie King Center [really] last week)
Bodhi3 w/ guest poet Moose Jackson at Siberia
Darkside + High Water at House of Blues
Julianna Barwick + Vasillus at Tulane's LBC Quad
Cobalt Cranes + Grooms at Circle Bar
The Body + Pyeya at the Mushroom
The Amazing Acro-Cats (yes, performing cats) at the AllWays Lounge's Marigny Theatre
Chelsea Light Moving + Merchandise at One Eyed Jacks

(After the Darkside show ended on Super Bowl night, I drove by Siberia to possibly catch High On Fire, but after seeing the huge throng of black-clad people milling about outside, I assumed it was a sellout and didn't even stop.)  Skipped Voodoo Fest, at which the Cure played "Burn," my favorite song by them, for the first time ever.  Out of the bands in the list, Grooms were the most striking and memorable.  Expect a song from them on here very soon.  The new Warpaint and Blouse albums are big disappointments so far.  And Grimes signed to Jay-Z's management team... No comment on that.

Planets with similar climates: Depeche Mode - "Blasphemous Rumours" (1984), National Skyline - "Metropolis" (2000), Tears For Fears - "Change" & "Start Of The Breakdown" (1982), Satisfact - "Dysfunction" (1996).

October 17, 2013

Orbit >> Shed your skin and let me in

Orbit - "Come Inside"
(Lunch Records, 1995)

This song takes the Pixies' sound a bit further by adding a rockabilly-style guitar riff and Sonic Youth-y flourishes.  Just an amazingly badass song overall, though it took a while to grow on me.  I actually overlooked this song for years because "Purge" was my favorite song on the EP (La Mano), which I bought at a thrift store ca. 2006.  "Come Inside" steadily grew on me over the years, with its simple, chanted slogan and well-placed "oh-ohh"s.  I think the rockabilly thing is what prevented me from loving it immediately.  Orbit were yet another Boston band that wanted to be the Pixies, even covering "Where Is My Mind?" in 1998.  But they came at it with their own personality and charisma, and created some of the flat-out greatest songs of the era.  I think they could've been legitimate stars.

Above is my 7" which I bought at Euclid Records a few months ago.  I had seen it there 2 years ago but stupidly passed on it, and only recently re-found it while spending a few hours digging through their endless boxes of used 7"s.  It's actually a split single with a band called Welcome To Julian (wow... and you thought band names nowadays sucked...), on Orbit's own label, Lunch Records.  It's a numbered edition and one of the hidden crown jewels of my record collection.  Marine biology buffs like myself know that starfish look cute but are relentless predators of bivalves, often expelling their stomachs out of their bodies to digest their prey.  (Info)  Hence the genteel cover art hides a violent secret, muahaha.  This song is likely about sexual assault, with Jeff Robbins singing from the perspective of the assaulter.  The opening line is "Why can I not come inside?  Beautiful, I'm beautiful like you."  The phrase "come inside" takes on a disturbing meaning when you think about the song this way.  This of course ties in with the disgusting way that a starfish feeds.

The music video is strange, pretentious, trippy, and NSFW, so I doubt MTV ever aired it:

Most people know Orbit for their 1997 MTV / alt-radio hit "Medicine", a.k.a. "Medicine (Baby Come Back)."  That album, Libido Speedway, also had the stunningly awesome song "Nocturnal Autodrive".  I can't post it because it came out on a major label, but trust me, go out of your way to track it down.  It's very dark, intense, and predatory.  It takes the sound of "Come Inside" to a new dimension of desperation and obsession.

So to summarize, here are Orbital's best songs, in order, from Libido Speedway and La Mano:
1. "Nocturnal Autodrive"
2. "Come Inside"
3. "Medicine"
4. "Purge"

Tue. Oct. 1: I photographed the most metal car in New Orleans on Tulane Ave.  (That elevated freeway is I-10.)

As best as I can make out, these are the band stickers on it:
Pestilence, Opeth, Testament, Iron Maiden, Terrorizer, Suffocation, Asphyx, Nuclear Assault, At The Gates, Skeletonwitch.  Plus four more that I can't make out.  But I can tell you without hesitation that they were all bought at The Mushroom.
Wed. Oct. 2: Saw Local Natives + Wild Nothing at Tiptitina's.  Jack from WN sang live exactly like he does on record, which for some reason really impressed me.  They concluded with a killer extended version of new cut "Ride," but sadly omitted personal favorites "Shadow," "A Dancing Shell," and "Disappear Always."  In fact, they played a mere three songs from Nocturne, my favorite album of last year.  (They opened with the title track, and later did "Paradise" and "The Blue Dress.")  We went just for WN, but were all won over by LN by night's end.  I inflicted a severely sprained ankle on myself in between bands by trying to jump up and touch the Napoleon Ave. sign on the median.  It was probably 11 feet high and the ground was slightly slick from rain.  I was able to see most of LN though.
Thu. Oct. 3: I opted to ditch my crutches and go to see Sigur Rós on two feet like a boss.  They played at Champions Square, which is outside right next to the Superdome.  Louisiana-born ambient vocal soundscaper Julianna Barwick was the opening act.  She cancelled her fall headlining tour (incl. stops in N.O. and Baton Rouge) to do this.  The concert was amazing; see a clip I took of SR here and a few pics I took of J-Bar here.  This made up for missing SR at the House Of Blues in early 2003, something I had regretted constantly since that night.

Planets with similar climates: Pixies - "Is She Weird?" (1990), Pavement - "Conduit For Sale!" (1991), Poem Rocket - "Appeal To The Imagination" (2000).

September 30, 2013

The Sheila Divine >> I'd rather have a fatal than a life unstable

The Sheila Divine - "Back To The Cradle"
(Arena Rock Recording Co. [U.S.] / Rykodisc [Europe], 2002)

Sorry for neglecting this site yet again, but I'm back in the fuckin' saddle, baby, and all it took was thinking about this song.  The lyrics are about someone who is on life support due to being in a coma or persistent vegetative state.  (In the class on medical ethics that I took in college, the difference between a coma and a PVS was one of the most frequently discussed topics.  See the famous Terri Schiavo case.)  "If you were sent to prison, [and] prison was your mind, would you try escaping or would you do the time?" is a boldly chilling way to open a song.  For what it's worth, this song is similar in topic to Metallica's masterpiece "Fade To Black" (which is of course based on the book / movie Johnny Got His Gun).  The delivery of the line "WAAAAKE UPPPPP!" at the end of this song is the most stunning thing I've ever heard in music, singing-wise.  Singer Aaron Perino could've tried to end it with some sort of pretentious bit of phrasing, but the fact that he chose just those two primal words really makes his sentiment hit home.  He summoned up his internal passion and just let loose.  I'd pay to see video footage of him laying down this song's vocals in the studio.  One would never guess that Perino is a blond guy in a suit and horn-rimmed glasses.  Frank Black is rightly considered the gold standard for the shrieking style of vocals in indie rock, especially in the Boston scene, but I'd say Perino swiped his crown with this song (especially the very ending).  Though hardly anyone knows about it, of course.
This song gives me the energy of 7 PowerBars and 3 to 4 cans of Jolt cola.  And it is my personal fuck you to all the shitty imagecore "indie rock" bands of the '00s like the Strokes, Spoon, Arcade Fire, the Hold Steady, etc.  Those bands and most of their fans should pretty much be slaughtered after being sent to dig ditches for a few decades in Siberian prison camps, but that's another topic.  Search out better music and you shall find it.

I downloaded the EP Secret Society from eMusic in 2003, and was immediately knocked out of my chair by this song, especially since it comes a few tracks after the very cool, restrained and elegant "The Swan".  I had read about TSD going back to '99, when their album New Parade was released to somewhat frenzied acclaim in the music mags.  In fact, that album predated the whole Interpol / Editors suave Britpoppy post-punk revival thing by several years.  (Makes you wonder if Paul Banks & Co. ever caught any gigs by TSD in Interpol's formative days...)  Of course, the Sheilas broke up the same year I finally heard them, which was the same year that Interpol became international icons.  Not picking on Interpol, by the way.  TSD never played in the New Orleans area as far as I know.

AllMusic Guide's terribly-written review starts off by comparing the band to Weezer, then mentions "politely anguished vocals" and John Hughes soundtracks.  And of course, the author doesn't even mention "Back To The Cradle."  (Guess he was busy answering the door or hosing off his latte machine in the backyard when that song erupted onto his hi-fi.)

Fun Fact: The band's name is Aussie slang for "faggot."

Image I found on Tumblr that has been weirding me out / cracking me up for weeks

Some more songs that end with alarmingly tortured screams like this one does:

You Am I - "Embarrassed" ("Gonna tear it, you'll forGETTTTT ITTTT!")
Pixies - "Tame" ("TEHHHAAAAAAME!")
Nirvana - "Territorial Pissings" (A better WAAAAYY!")
Unwound - "Feeling$ Real" ("The world starts coming DOWWWWN!")
Helmet - "Murder" ([some yelling])

If you hate amazingly tortured screams, go to this concert on Thursday:

Planets with similar climates: Black Flag - "Room 13" (1981), Hole - "Violet" (1993), The Sound - "The Fire" (1981), Buffalo Tom - "Taillights Fade" (1992) & "Summer" (1995), U2 - "Like A Song..." (1982), Catherine Wheel - "Chrome" (1993).

July 31, 2013

Caspian >> That was the sea, this is the ocean

Caspian - "La Cerva"
(Radar Recordings, 2008 [split 7"] / The Mylene Sheath, 2009 [CD / 2xLP])

Note: I wrote almost all of this post on July 2nd.
Note 2: The title of this post is a vinyl etching from the stunning "Columbus" 7" by one of my favorite bands, the Church.  I found it here years ago and made myself memorize it.  See, the band Caspian is named after the Caspian Sea, and... uh, yeah, you knew that.  Did you know that seas are smaller than oceans?  Ah, you did.  Moving on then...

I've seen this rock band three times in New Orleans.  They played "La Cerva" the first two times (as their opening song in March 2010 at the Dragon's Den; at an unknown part of their set in April 2011 at the Howlin' Wolf), but alas, they did not the third time (February 2013 at Siberia).  Hopefully it's still in their setlist from time to time.  Right before Caspian went on at that Dragon's Den show, I helped to save a guy who was overdosing outside on the Esplanade median.  I then bounded up the winding staircase as "La Cerva" rained down upon me, just as it is about to rain down upon you.

I first heard this song after on a split Caspian / Constants 7" (upper left in pic above) that I bought at a Constants show in New Orleans in Oct. 2009.  I highly recommend this single, as you could imagine.  Constants are badass as hell.

Lots of so-called "post-rock" / "post-metal" bands get (justly) criticized for just relying on climax after climax, but son of a bitch if it isn't awe-inspiring when done right.  Caspian wastes no time frittering around before getting right to the heavy stuff in this track.  I bet even Beavis and Butt-head would've lost their shit over this one.  The jazzy drumming (à la Tristeza, Dif Juz, Tortoise) gives this track a certain cool swagger that most furrow-browed "post-rock" bands fail to achieve.  The cello playing is credited to a guy named John Rogers.

LIVE PIC (2013) [coming tomorrow]

Planets with similar climates: Trans Am - "Trans Am" (1995), Metallica - "Orion" (1986), Mogwai - "Mogwai Fear Satan" (1997), Sonic Youth - "Death To Our Friends" (1986).

June 30, 2013

Swirlies >> She's got a gun in her drawer that's meant for me

Swirlies - "Park The Car By The Side Of The Road"
(Taang! Records, 1992)

I wrote this post last September & October, but for some reason never got around to posting it.  So since I'm doing Massachusetts bands, here it is.  Sorry for the 2-month delay since the last post.

By the way, my mp3 hosing service, DivShare, has a new policy: "All your files will stay online as long as they are viewed at least once every 30 days. (Upgrade to keep your files online forever.)"  So it looks like most of the songs on this site will be deleted gradually, since I doubt anyone downloads or streams them very often.

Swirlies are the only band that I know of that has a song called "Chris R." (my name), but this song is much better. If there is ever a noise pop box set on Rhino -- Yes, I love saying "If there is ever a [genre] box set on Rhino..." -- this song ought to make the cut.  And its title could even be used as the name of this box set, since operating a motor vehicle while listening to such angular riffage could be dangerous.  Apparently the band named itself after the prank of putting someone's head in a toilet and flushing it.  I only recently learned that a melvin is a particularly severe type of wedgie, so I guess highbrow rock outfit the Melvins were named after that.  The name of this blog is a lyric in a song that's named after a wrist-abrasion technique.  Smashing Pumpkins are named after a prank in which you smash someone's pumpkins.  Bands... They're so funny!

The first time I ever heard of Swirlies was in a review of Modest Mouse's Interstate 8 EP in Alternative Press in fall '96.  I immediately bought that M.M. EP just because I assumed that any band that sounded like a band with the name "Swirlies" must have a really swirly, unique, shoegazey sound.  Yes, I bought a CD in large part because I liked the name of a band to which they were being compared in a review.  (Gotta love those pre-internet fumblings...  People these days have no idea how easy they have it.  One can now literally become an expert on some obscure old band in 20 minutes by just reading up on the right websites.)  That rationale turned out to be not quite accurate, but I'll still vouch for the quality of that Modest Mouse disc.

Jumping a year forward... In fall of '97 I decided to finally get into the Swirlies, after having heard about them in AOL's indie rock chatroom quite a bit that year...
October: I bought their Brokedick Car EP for about a dollar at a booth at the French Market in New Orleans and was fairly impressed.  (This purchase was overshadowed by the fact that I also bought You Am I's stunning Coprolalia EP from the same seller on the same day.)
November: I saw Syrup USA, a band helmed by former Swirlies singer Seana Carmody, at the Mermaid Lounge.  The crowd was about 10 people and it was freezing outside, but the Syrup still rocked out in a cutesy sort of way.  Syrup USA had a very keyboard-based sound, not the fuzzy noise-pop of Swirlies.  I even bought a t-shirt and both of their 7"s.
December: I bought this CD, Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (named after a guitar pedal) for my sister for Christmas.  I kind of soon "borrowed" it back and I don't think she ever really dug it.  The noisy guitar textures made me sit up and say "Dayumn," even though I was a huge Sonic Youth, MBV & Dino Jr.  fan and I had thought that genre was tapped out.  Swirlies obviously proved me wrong.  Anyway, Swirlies' heyday was a little before my time, so I never got to see them.  After Seana left the band, she was replaced by a soundalike named Christina Files, and uh, well, I don't like to sit here and give band bios unless I have some cool factoids to add, so you can go read an exorbitant amount about them on any number of fine websites.  If Swirlies hadn't been so in thrall to the early '90s slacker ethos popularized by Pavement, Archer Of Loaf, etc., they could've really been great.  They probably have the worst cover art of any band ever, aside from Pavement, and some irritatingly pointless song titles too.  In fact, my favorite Swirlies song overall is "Jeremy Parker", but I name-specific song titles annoy me so much that I couldn't allow myself to post that song.

This one goes out to the local band Glish, who apparently arrived at a similar sound as that of Swirlies without all members even knowing about them, or at least without trying to emulate them.  This could be compared to the biological concept called convergent evolution, a prime example of which is the similar appearances of the green tree python (Morelia viridis) from the Indo-Pacific and the emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus) from South America, which each evolved separately to sit in trees and be green while waiting for prey to pass below.

So, last month my sister got married and the band was Meschiya Lake and The Little Big Horns.  The first-dance song was the Cure's "Just Like Heaven."  Yes, it was weird seeing a female-fronted 1920's-style jazz band covering a Cure song.
In other musical news: The weekend before that, I went to Jazz Fest and caught Fleetwood Mac, Frank Ocean, and some Terence Blanchard and Stanley Clarke / George Duke.  Saw Pure X (chilled-out desert pop) + ArchAnimals (angsty emocore) at the Circle Bar.  This month I saw a typically kickass performance by A Place To Bury Strangers, opening for Japandroids at the Spanish Moon.  Also saw an incredibly fun and strange performance-art-y headlining set by Prince Rama at Circle Bar.  (The opening band, Spaceface, ended with a cover of David Bowie's glam classic "Moonage Daydream.")  Also saw a few songs at the AllWays Lounge by a promising band called Jane Jane.  They have recently relocated to New Orleans and shortened their name from Jane Jane Pollock.

In May and June I missed lots of concerts: Broken Water + Glish at someone's house called the Stripped Mall; Twin Shadow + Elliphant at Maison; Glish (opening for Coliseum) at Circle Bar; Faun Fables (headlined over Jane Jane but played first for some reason); Des Ark at the Big Top and at the Spanish Moon; the Record Raid on Piety Street.

Planets with similar climates: Mystery Machine - "Shaky Ground" (1992), Sonic Youth - "Silver Rocket" (1988), My Bloody Valentine - "Feed Me With Your Kiss" & "(When You Wake) You're Still In A Dream" (1988), Glish - "Future Things" & "Swings" (2012), Polvo - "Bend Or Break" (1992) & "High-Wire Moves" (1995), Pond - "Sideroad" (1995), Sebadoh - "Rebound" (1994).

Currently obsessed with: Sacred Grinds coffee house.  It's the size of a closet, but has some of the best food and smoothies in town, and two of the best baristas ever.

R.I.P. Maple Street Books Mid-City and Maple Street Books on St. Claude Ave.  Both closed on June 28th.  Not to be rude, but wouldn't it have helped if they had changed their names to fit into their respective neighborhoods?