Sunday, September 30, 2012

repost- my bloody valentine- 'surround'

Since this post from 2008 has gotten the most hits of any of the live mbv bootlegs that I've posted here I've reupped it. This CD is cursed as I am continually losing it and finding it again. Apparently when I edited the tracks (the CD is just one continuous track) I didn't bother to save them on my backup drive. Sadly the original CD that I had has some corroding audio all the way through. I had to get a new copy from someone I had traded it to before the CD got all fucked up. There are still some glitches, but they don't start until after '(when you wake) you're still in a dream.' There are clearer sounding recordings from this tour out there, but this one (to me) has always been the best. Enjoy!

1. intro
2. emptiness inside
3. you never should
4. cigarette in your bed
5. sueisfine
6. cupid come
7. lose my breath
8. nothing much to lose
9. thorn
10. soft as snow (but warm inside)
11. feed me with your kiss
12. (when you wake) you're still in a dream
13. slow
14. you made me realise
15. lovelee sweet darlene
16. paint a rainbow

Thursday, September 27, 2012

review- the dirty three at lincoln hall 9.26.12

Few news items this year have brought me as much joy as the return of Dirty Three with their new and excellent LP ‘Toward the Low Sun.’ With every project that Warren Ellis was wrapped up in with Nick Cave it always came with a bit of a bitter pill for me. As much as I loved Grinderman and all of the countless jaw-droppingly beautiful and terrifying movie scores that the pair collaborated on the news would always reach me with a twinge of sadness. Would Warren Ellis ever be able to find the time to get together with drummer Jim White and guitarist Mick Turner to make another Dirty Three album? Until that could happen the likelihood of getting to see them live again grew more and more hopelessly remote.

Seeing them in 2005 at the Metro was an unexpected delight that I wasn’t fully prepared for despite being deep in the throes of being swallowed up by the varied brilliance of their back catalogue. They played for two and-a-half hours and it was over in the blink of an eye.

‘Toward the Low Sun’ has logged repeated spins on my turntable and in my headphones. ‘Ashen Snow’ has been earmarked for my ‘best-of’ mix since I first heard it. The moment they announced a tour stop at Lincoln Hall (aka the best music venue in Chicago) I plunked down the money to make sure I got to go. Stefanie and I arrived early as always, got a few beers and staked out a balcony spot before openers the Cairo Gang. For this set they were in a full-band Crazy Horse-inspired type of setup. It was vastly different to the first time I saw them at the Empty Bottle when they were just an acoustic duo opening for Angel Olsen.

A friend found us on the balcony and pulled up a chair beside us. He had never seen the Dirty Three before; we regaled him with stories of Ellis’ affinity for truly odd stage banter. As we were recalling some examples I was beginning to worry that we were playing it up a bit. Then the band came out and Ellis asked the sound man to make him sound like Jim Morrison before launching into an extended story about how the first song was about being a hemorrhoid on Bono’s ass and wanting to play a song but ‘you can’t because hemorrhoids don’t have fucking arms or legs so it’s impossible’ before they launched into a blistering version of one of the more restrained tracks on the album, ‘Rain Song.’

From there they went right into the chaotic maelstrom of album opener ‘Furnace Skies’ without so much as a nod between the three of them. The beautiful songs grew into ferocious monstrosities with teeth and the chaotic, stormy songs revealed subtleties of raw, fragile emotion. This was serious business. How they are so in sync seems mind boggling and impossible. The control they exert while everything seems like it’s veering off into chaos is unparalleled. Ellis loses one of his shoes while kicking the air, only to casually walk over to where it’s fallen and slip it back on without missing a note. White stacks a tambourine onto every cymbal and drum in his kit, switches from brushes, to sticks, to mallets and back again in between beats, knocking things every which way and all with an effortless efficiency. Turner lopes in the corner pigeon-toed, switching from fingerstyle by pulling a pick out of his back pocket during a downbeat—I watched him wait until the right moment to recover a dropped pick from the floor at one point.

Finally, the graceful calm and aching sadness they can convey simply seems unreal. Case in point was the version of ‘Ocean Songs’ standout ‘Sea Above, Sky Below.’ It was impossible not to be held at rapt attention on the edge of your seat. Ellis would switch from kicking the air repeatedly while attacking his violin into a concentrated hypnosis where he would pull those beautiful melodies that are so familiar but never lose their affect. They played nearly every track on the new album save a few; all of them were extrapolated from their sparse arrangements to great effect.

When they played ‘The Pier’ they went right into ‘Rising Below.’ During ‘Sometimes I Forget That you’ve Gone’ Ellis and White communicated through the cacophony with anguished screams. All of the usual suspects made an appearance, but in nearly unrecognizable forms from their recorded versions or the live versions I heard in 2005—‘Some Summers, They Drop Like Flies,’ ‘Hope,’ ‘Sue’s Last Ride’ as well as the main set-ending couplet of ‘Doris’ and ‘Ashen Snow.’ Every song played as if it were the last they would play.

Before ‘Hope’ Ellis launched into one of his stories only to stop, turn to Turner and say, ‘Wait, what are we doing?’ to which Turner replied, ‘Do a request.’ ‘We don’t have a song called, “Do a Request,” Mick,’ replied Ellis. Throughout the night, people would simply say, ‘Wow’ with each song that ended. It was truly inspiring and special.

When the breakup of Grinderman was announced last year, the first thing I thought after the initial disappointment was, ‘Oh well, at least there might be another Dirty Three album and tour.’ It was worth the wait, most definitely. At the same time, I hope that we don’t have to wait another seven years for their next album and tour. This is music that I need.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

repost- my bloody valentine live at the axis in boston

I've noticed that this entry from 2008 still gets a fair amount of traffic. In the interest of that, and of sharing this thoroughly awesome show from their 1989 American tour, I've reupped the show to sendspace and reposted this entry (and also updated the old entry). setlist-

1. emptiness inside
2. you never should
3. cigarette in your bed
4. sueisfine
5. cupid come
6. lose my breath
7. nothing much to lose
8. thorn
9. soft as snow (but warm inside)
10. feed me with your kiss
11. when you wake (you're still in a dream)
12. slow
13. you made me realise
14. lovelee sweet darlene

I'm planning on reupping the Detroit St. Andrew's Hall recording from 1989 as well- just need to re-edit it into individual tracks. Stay tuned. And enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

'fuck it, i'm just going to say it...' a review of sloan on behalf of the taken-for-granted-who-don't-really-give-a-shit

Last night something truly odd happened- I left my house and went out to a show by a band that I'd always felt a massive, yawning apathy toward at a venue that I have never been terribly wild about. I have a feeling a lot of people feel this way about both as well, so let's just get the ugliness out of the way- I went to see Sloan's two-and-a-half hour show at Subterranean. They played all of their classic album that I've never heard 'Twice Removed.' During my courting phase with Stefanie she made me a copy 'One Chord to Another' after we went to see 'The Virgin Suicides' as our first date movie (go ahead and bask in the irony- I am). The album kind of confused me. It was made up of tightly-constructed, retro-sounding songs. It wore its heart on its sleeve. They didn't care about being cool, they just seemed to care about writing songs that they loved and that others would (hopefully) love as well. Plus, they were so damned Canadian with their earnestness and admiration of American and British music. It didn't really rope the 21 year-old me in, I have to admit.

Fast-forward to last night. On a lark Stefanie asked if I would like to go and, while at work, I said, 'Yes.' Once we walked in the door I saw a sign that read 'An evening with SLOAN 9:00- 11:30.' My terror at having to sit through a two and-a-half hour set by a band I didn't really care about filled me. Then they started playing 'Twice Removed' in order and announced after the second song that they were going to take a brief break after playing the entire record and then come back to play a 'party set.' One of my great beefs with Subterranean is similar to that of the Metro's- louder does not always= better. At least not if you have a cheap and shitty sound system (which both do). What's more the place smelled like a fucking toilet the entire night. No exaggeration. An odd thing happened when Sloan took the stage- the sound was subdued in volume. Their live sound was air-tight. They used vintage instruments and amps more effectively than most bands I've seen (possibly more effectively than even the Brian Jonestown Massacre) and didn't use the same stuff that most 'cool-dudes-playing-vintage-shit-you-could-never-afford-in-a-million-years' play. They all sang. They all switched instruments (except for the lead guitarist on stage left). Their harmonies were perfect. They switched styles on a dime with not a single visual cue. How many 90s bands can this be said about? FUCKING NONE THAT'S HOW MANY!

I feel safe in intimating these truths as this was a band I had NEVER claimed to like for many, many years. I can't even begin to explain how completely they won me over in a miserably crowded room that I loathe that smelled like a sewer. Plus, these were SONGS. One can see a million hot-shit young-dude bands, but rarely do they have a fraction of the volume of fantastically-crafted songs as were on display here. This show could've gone on all night and it would've been riveting. They lightly cajoled the audience into clapping and singing along and it wasn't cheesy or annoying in the least. Maybe the Canadians can teach US something about music after all. I certainly learned my lesson. Bless Sloan for being such a top-tier band with almost no recognition. I am now one of their biggest devotees and I walked into the doors with such a huge chip on my jaded, old, grumpy bastard shoulders. I hope they read this review because I mean every fucking word of it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

shalloboi- 'swing low'

Hoping this might help fund the 'field of flowers' 7" set. The first single from that bunch is coming up in a few weeks. Hard to believe it's so close. I also posted a trailer for the 7" set on the youtubes-

Sunday, September 16, 2012

psychedelic pseptember

The September diary playlist splintered off into two separate mixes. One of them was the folky sad-bastard variety and the other (this one) a straight up psych mix. Six songs of overlap.

song- artist- album

1. stairway to the best party in the universe- the brian jonestown massacre- 'aufheben'
2. beautiful son- peaking lights- 'lucifer'
3. best night- the war on drugs- 'slave ambient'
4. lights out- wooden shjips- 'phonograph' 7"
5. zoned- moon duo- moon duo/psychic ills split 7"
6. take me with you- psychic ills- moon duo/psychic ills split 7"
7. the dream- thee oh sees- 'carrion crawler/the dream'
8. diddy wah diddy- ty segall- 'slaughterhouse'
9. lizards first- white fence- 'family perfume vol. 2'
10. blue day- darker my love- '2'
11. taken too much- the heads- 'relaxing with...'
12. tantric porno- bardo pond- 'amanita'
13. hypnotized- spacemen 3- 'recurring'
14. stormy clouds- the verve- 'video 96-98'

Thursday, September 13, 2012

diary 9.8.12- your deck of trick cards

song- artist- album

1. stairway to the best party in the universe- the brian jonestown massacre- 'aufheben'
2. best night- the war on drugs- 'slave ambient'
3. alameda- elliott smith- 'either/or'
4. a mirage- edith frost- 'it's a game'
5. dear john- holly golightly- 'slowly but surely'
6. cracking eggs- my best fiend- 'in ghostlike fading'
7. zoned- moon duo- moon duo/psychic ills split 7"
8. the dream- thee oh sees- 'carrion crawler/the dream'
9. diddy wah diddy- ty segall- 'slaughterhouse'
10. i can't explain- the who- 'i can't explain' 7"
11. when the levee breaks- led zeppelin- 'iv'
12. johnssong- lower dens- 'i get nervous' 7"
13. lazuli- beach house- 'bloom'
14. rembihnútur- sigur rós- 'valtari'
15. stormy clouds- the verve- 'videos 96-98' vhs
16. i only have eyes for you- the flamingos- 'i only have eyes for you' 7"

Monday, September 10, 2012

the chromatics- 'kill for love'- ambivalence, hype and the sounds of the 80s

The new record by the Chromatics came into my hands almost entirely by accident. The cover seemed appropriate for the type of modern-day obscure psych that I am always in search of. The vinyl release garnered a mention on Permanent Records' latest recommended releases section of their weekly newsletter. If I'm pondering buying a release I know nothing about, Permanent Records' recommendation is usually what will push it over the top. I found it on the wall during a visit to Reckless and when I saw it was on coloured vinyl in a limited edition I figured I might as well snag it then as if I didn't like it I could always sell it later.

I'd never heard any music by the Chromatics and knew absolutely nothing about them. All I knew was that this record was conceived as their soundtrack for an imaginary movie. 'Dark' and 'foreboding' were the only adjectives I'd seen or heard thrown around about how this record sounded. The initial listen was split across a few days, as was the second. All I could glean from these scattered listening sessions was that the album had some impressive dark atmospherics that were always in danger of being interrupted by irritatingly 80s-inspired sounds that sounded either kitschy or half-assed. Usually once the vocals kicked in the sounds would layer in such a way that would support and sustain the creepy atmosphere, but it would always have to spend time recovering from those points where I was drawn out of the overarching mood. As someone who's taken the time to carefully construct and sustain a mood over the course of a set of my own songs I've always known that the most important rule in establishing and sustaining a mood is that you don't want to do anything to jar the listener out of the trance that you have spent so long drawing them into. On the surface it seems that the Chromatics are more concerned with using charmingly kitschy sounds than sustaining a mood over the course of such a sprawling set of songs that are clearly supposed to function as an extended piece. It's doubly disheartening as so few bands bother with an extended moodpiece any more AND with 'Kill For Love' pulling one off successfully is within the Chromatics' grasp. It has the potential to be their 'Disintegration.' The irony being that 'Disintegration,' despite being produced in the 80s, features fewer dated, 80s-associated sounds than 'Kill For Love' which was probably made last year.

Evidence of this squandered potential I believe can be found in 'No Escape,' the 14-minute bonus track included with the digital download of the album. If the glut of bands mining the sounds of the 80s were to apply their reverence for those production touchstones with enough ingenuity to wring something engaging and new from them, this track would be a good example of what they could do to push such sounds into new territory that artists weren't able to pull off in the 80s. In some ways it shows enough promise to do for synthesized music what 'Loveless' did for guitar music. The track bubbles along slowly, unfolding like a Mogwai song in three separate musical movements. It's similar to the mid-album instrumental 'Broken Mirrors' but far more daring in its sound manipulations and more successful. Isn't the point of pulling sounds and production flourishes from past eras to approach them from a more modern point of view and being able to push them into new territory that was impossible during their era of origin? This is something that artists in the psych revival camp have been doing for over a decade under the example of the Brian Jonestown Massacre's Anton Newcombe (who's actually been mining the past for new combinations of sounds for over two decades now). This is also what bands like Echo & the Bunnymen and the Jesus & Mary Chain were doing in the 80s.

The songwriting is obviously there on 'Kill For Love,' for me the flow of the album crumples under the gimmicky sounds of 'These Streets Will Never be the Same' (the vocoder and the poorly sampled drum sounds) on through 'Dust to Dust' and never really recovers the spell that was cast over the first half of the album. Even if these sounds were chosen deliberately they manage to relegate perfectly sound instrumental components to kitsch. It's like holding a room in a seance that you suddenly realise has Hello Kitty wallpaper. This is the kind of album that gets an 8.7 on Pitchfork and makes their 'Best New Music' category. True, it's a challenging album, but in all the wrong ways.