Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Hello all,

It's hard not to be weary of New Years Eve. As a friend reminded me last night they have often been filled with moments on the L with one girl puking on side of the car with another girl sobbing at the other while people inbetween eat greasy pizza to help sober up.

There were the screaming matches with now ex boyfriends over God knows what mixed with cheap champagne and whiskey.

There were Y2k scares, a dead stop traffic jam below the space needle in Seattle, and a long walk on the wrong side of Boston... so we could hear fireworks and midnight howls but could see absolutely nothing.

They each had their charm but it was the kind of sad charm like an Elliott Smith or a Wedding Present song.

Tonight I am DJing into the wee hours of the night and while there will be the traditional party songs included it only seems right I also represent the little bit of the Arab Strap and Country Teaser inside us all.

May your evening be more bubbles than bitter.

Happy 2006,

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Love Is All : Herd Alert

Attention all sheep : in case you missed it we have our first Pitchfork/Insound/music bahbahlogger buzz band of 2006. Okay technically this all started this year but the record doesn't even street until the end of January 2006.

I don't consider myself much of a computer person so when it comes to google searches I am rather basic. Trying to search out this band not even their own website comes up...which by the way is under construction so there isn't anything to see there is interesting to see what are the top serach results for "all is love" band.

Pitchfork and 9 other things that have nothing to do with the Swedish band.

If you search "love is all"+ "Nine times that same song" you get:

Pichfork, Brooklynvegan , Insound, and then lots and lots of blogs.

So with minimal press and a record not even out yet Love is All is at the top of Insounds top sellers list as a pre-order!!!! Wow. I won't even go into if the band deserves it or not, either you like them or you don't. Not liking them because they have hype is just as dumb as liking them because you think you are supposed to. I would love to think music peer pressure and trends don't work on adults but who am I kidding. It happens to the best of us and I will be the first to admit I have a few electroclash records in my collection.

Part 2: Is 2006 the return of Riot Grrrl or music influenced by it's British counterpart?

It seems to me that with the Comet Gain reissues, A Delta 5 collection on Kill Rock Stars at the end of Jan, that UK band Sounds (who already came and went), a riot grrrl influence shout it in a Four Tet interview and bands like Long Blondes and Valerie rising in popularity and press; with it comes the subtle reintroduction of the UK riot grrrl bands that perhaps are not a direct influence to this new influx of female friendly indie rock but certainly helped to pave the way.

Keeping this in mind I have been determined to put together a list of 1990s UK(ish) riot grrrl(ish) bands. Again it is all a matter of opinion as far as who was the biggest or the best but my list will reflect both the most popular / and some my favorites. I am was actually amazed I owned so many of these records and it is in hindsight I realized I own as many grrrl groups from over seas as I do American ones. I will expand on the subject in my next post but I wanted to at least let you all know a mega post is on the way!

Scouting around on line I haven't found many great lists of bands falling under this category so maybe for a few people this will be a great 101 introduction to UK ladies who rock(ed).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Skygreen Leopards / Jehovah Surrender EP / Rating 7.4

Naturalistic process is paramount; albums come with pithy back-stories haloed in hazy traceries of light, flickering with pastoral forest music, and whispering tape-hiss sprites.

I am a failed new folk enthusiast.

I don’t pay much attention to the cycles of the moon.

I shave and wear deodorant.

I do not like to wear bells or moccasins.

Wine is okay but in a glass not from a pigskin satchel that has touched 7 other people’s mouths sitting in a circle barefoot with a joint traveling counter clockwise.

I call my fellow creative friends… friends and artists, not a collective with a faux hippy Native American aura.

I am actually 1/8 Native American and still I don’t do it.

Hemp is not my favorite fiber.

I am a city mouse and nature scares me a little. I have never been camping, nor have I been compelled to embrace any form of nature, literally.

I have never done acid but I appreciate a good psych rock record regardless.

The Skygreen Leopards make sloppy fuzzy vaguely catchy psych rock but I cannot bring myself to say is better than mediocre.

A PFM 7.4 must be the rating for new folk fans who don’t know any better or are so lost in the trend that they welcome any and all bands from that genre.

Seriously there are a million better groovy folk rock records out there.

If you want to go old school seek out the Incredible String Band, Tomorrow, Twink, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Donovan, Comus, Gong, Pink Floyd, The Byrds, and Soft Machine to name a few not too obscure basics.

Any early Guided By Voices record will do you just fine as well.

PS: The word Jehovah doesn’t actually appear in the original text of the Old Testament. Scholars translating the body of work mistakenly combined a series of letters to create a word that read / sounded like Jehovah.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Fiery Furnces / Rehearsing My Choir / Rating 4.0

it's every bit as terrible and fantastic as it sounds.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?” coworker & friend

In 1993 actor Crispin Hellion Glover released Big Problem Does Not Equal the Solution. The Solution = Let It Be on Restless Records. The music was written and produced by Barnes and Barnes (the same folks who wrote such twisted comedy hits as "Fish Heads"), most of the vocals and words are Crispin’s (guest accordian by Weird Al), and while there are three cover songs ( Nancy Sinatra, Charles Manson, and George Leybourne) the rest of the record features snippet readings by from two of Glover’s books Rat Catching and Oak Mot. The themes jump from masturbation to clowns and the back record cover even includes a phone number where callers could take a stab at what the "Big Problem" actually was. ( FYI: the number no longer works)

Brutally out of this world and beyond bizarre Big Problem ultimately sounds like what one would expect from such a well documented freak but the release itself missed all commercial possibility and never broke beyond cult status. (cult status = sales bomb) Most people who bought the record didn’t actually love it nor did they ever listen to it unless it was to terrify friends and family. It wasn’t the music or the words winning people over, it was the fact that the creepiest actor of the day had recorded an equally as creepy record.

I still can't pretend I understand the artistic vision Crispin Glover was aiming but as a fan of the actor I was ready to accept and embrace whatever was attached to his name. What can I say… I 22 at the time and WFMU had raised me right.

Nearly 15 years later Rehearsing My Choir by The Fiery Furnaces is virtually a sequel to Big Problem with the addition of a female voice but the draw back is The Fiery Furnaces lack the eccentric possibly mental ill reputation / lure that Glover had built for himself over an extended period of time. To get to the point, people expect crazy things from crazy people but not from a certified quirky but still waaaaay more commercial duo like FF. Had a label like Ipecac whose dedicated fan base seeks out all that is unusual Rehearsing may have faced a more understanding audience but I fear neither Rough Trade or the band have such an automatic built in open minded listener. (though clearly some do exist)

Typical indie pop music fans will and have been cringing in horror upon hearing this very experimental Fiery Furnaces' release and PFM’s 4.0 review accurately reflects this. My guess is had Pitchfork been around in 93’ Glover’s farther than far out record wouldn’t have faired any better.

Customer reviews written on Amazon for Crispin Glover’s record
could double for Rehearsing the Choir so please allow me to cut and past a few lines:

Gisele M. Baxter (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada)It's closest to a combination of song and performance art/spoken word, but with none of the grim pretentiousness the latter so often implies. So park your expectations at the door, make yourself comfortable (or not) and enjoy the show. What I love about this is its almost complete lack of apparent irony: it's not a spoof or some contemptuous deconstruction, nor is it some sort of hastily slammed-together mess on a vanity label.

Michael Anthony "Hybridblues" (Tampa, FL USA)
"This is not your everyday run of the mill CD. In fact to some they may not like it the first time you hear it (or at all) but this will grow on you."

K. A. Sorenson "Little Hellion" (The Wilds of Michigan)
"I've listened to this cd approximately four times since I came home to find it waiting for me this evening. I'm still not any closer to understanding just what the hell Crispin's deal is, and I've probably done irreparable damage to my sanity, but I don't really care. If, like me, you really enjoy hearing the undeniably weird Crispin Hellion Glover reciting lines like "Only yesterday I had a lamb's skin removed" in his strange, oddly sweet voice over merry, almost pastoral music, get this album. Get it now. If, however, you don't go in for that sort of insanity, shun this album like it's the plague."

oompah_loompah "art student chick" (PA, USA)
"F*cked up" doesn't even begin to cover it. This is forty three minutes of pure, unadulterated insanity. There's no reference I could come up with that could possibly prepare you for this album. Not one. Now, I have seen and heard a lot of disturbing things in my life, but this *has* to have wormed its way to the top of the list.

One last thing to drive this point home

Customers who bought this title (CHG's Big Problem) also bought:
Off The Charts Companion CD Soundtrack [Soundtrack] ~ Original Soundtrack
Innocence & Despair ~ The Langley Schools Music Project
B-Sides & Rarities [Enhanced] [Box set] ~ Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 [Enhanced] ~ Wesley Willis
The Best Of William Burroughs: From Giorno Poetry Systems [Box set] [Explicit Lyrics] ~ William Burroughs

The Last Temptation of Reid ~ Lard
Fun ~ Daniel Johnston
Rediscoverig Lost Scores, Vol. 2 ~ Wendy Carlos

I am personally adding The Fiery Furnaces to this list.

Friday, December 23, 2005

One for the road

As I head off for the holidays, I thought I would share my favorite memory of this year with you all. I had a few encounters with Musicians this year, but by far my favorite was seeing Scott Stapp at Sharky's.

For those who are not familiar with Sharky's it is a Mexican fast food restaurant. I had stopped in to fill my hunger, and had just finished my order when who should walk in but the handsome and robust former singer from Creed, Scott Stapp. I stepped back, but instead of finding a table i hung around to see what he would get. Already i was excited to discover that he shared my love of Baja cuisine. Would he be a man's man and get the Steak burrito, or show his sensitive side and get a grilled mahi taco? I literally shook with anticipation.

"Uh, yeah, can i get a Sharky's steak burrito with black beans."

YES! That is what i got! I was giddy. The same likes and dislikes were shared by us. It was as if after a long search i had found my soul mate. I gazed upon him with love.

And then it happened. Possibly the most devastating moment of my life.

"Hot or mild," the cashier asked.


It echoed in my brain. Mild...mild....mild. Why did he have to say mild. Mild is the choice of cowards. The adventurous soul choses hot! I had never know Stapp to choose the mediocre, quite to the contrary. But there was no mistaking what he had said. I stood there crumbling inside, holding in the tears. You broke my heart Scott Stapp, you broke my heart.

Happy holidays everyone,


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Excuses Excuses

Good grief there are still quite a few 2005 records for me to review but the problem is all this holiday season nonsense steals what little free time I have and before I know it the days is nearly over and I have yet to post something new.

I have zip going on next week so after this weekend it will reviews a go-go.
That is a promise.

Wishing you a most happy holiday season,

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cave In / Nanci Raygun, Richmond, Va. / Dec. 20th 2005

Photo of Caleb taken during the Cave In set by drummer Ben

I don't have much to say about a show where the evening ends with three drunk fans verbally attacking the members of Cave In after their mostly hardcore set for not being hard enough and not including their favorite song. (I know it sounds gay just repeating it) These very same “fans” literally carried out their grudge when they decided to toss a brick through the Cave In van windshield and piss on the doors. Awesome. Way to host a band who just drove a 10 hour drive all night from another city to play for this city.

The rest of the evening included three bands worth of boys and their local friends tracking down the inebriated vandals at another bar and in case you were wondering, a form hardcore community justice has been served.

We ( Cave In + me) have a busy day ahead of us. Coffee to get. A new giant hunk a glass for the van. (note to all bands: make sure you have insurance) Some sort of lunchy thing. And then the boys need to get to Baltimore to do this rock thing all over again. I just hope the Charm City kids know how to host a band a little better than this damn town.

Oh yeah….and as for the Doomriders who also played last night. Funny how a side project band of Nate from Converge can sound a lot like Converge only executed with flying V guitars and a hard-on for Thin Lizzy (minus the hooks). Imagine phallic stringed instruments held erect from their crotches and stroked madly for 45 minutes. Then picture two dudes with no shirts (taken off before the show even started) and there you have the Doomriders.
Boys LOVING this band I liken to ass tapping play during male sporting events.

I know I said after the Converge show this would be the end of my pit reports so damn me for having friends in bands who play music to crack skulls to.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Hello and Happy Holidays,

To be honest these end of the year best of lists are my worst nightmare. It brings out the darkest side of my manic obsessive-compulsive record nerd self on top of the must make most accurate list possible anal-retentive self. Did I forget something? Probably but I tried my hardest to remember it all. I sorted thru about 300 cds / 7’ers/ and LPs all month and if I don’t post it now…. I will keep messing with it and changing my mind.

Just a few things first; its been a heck of a year for the Tuningfork. We began this site as a joke between friends back in March of this year and here it is nearly a year later and the number of readers went from about 10 a day to up to 2000 a week. We even have our very first press piece about us in the new / out now issue of Black Book magazine. Go figure, I never in a million years expected anybody to find this site no less keep reading and leaving for the most part, really thoughtful comments. I don’t think anybody…including myself thought we could keep this up for more than a few weeks and if anything I feel more passionate about it than ever. While reviewing Pitchfork remains the key focus of this blog I am also pleased to have introduced other kinds of posts to keep the site fresh and to help remind people this isn’t meant to be about bashing one website, this is about a ridiculous love for music and having one place to organize and share those ideas and interests.

I can’t thank my amazing friends enough for helping me keep this blog going…no less dedicating time, energy, and wonderful writing talent no less for free. Secondly thank you nice readers for giving us the time of day. The emails and posts we have gotten thus far have been very kind. It is that sort of support that makes it all the more worth while to keep this crazy blog going.

To a new and improved year and again thank you thank you thank you,

My favorite records of 2005
1. Jesu – S/T – Hydra Head
2. Animal Collective – Feels – Fat Cat
3. Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger – Warp
4. Hood – Outside Closer – Domino
5. Broadcast – Tender Buttons – Warp
6. Life and Times – Suburban Hymns – DeSoto
7. Narrator – Such Triumph – Flameshovel
8. Frost – EP – Southern Lord
9. Doves – Some Cites – Capitol
10. Architecture In Helsinki – In Case We Die – Bar/None
11. Sigur Ros – Takk – Geffen
12. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary - Sub Pop
13. Part Chimp – I Am Come – Monitor
14. Books – Lost and Safe – Tomlab
15. Bound Stems – The Logic of Building the Body Plan - Flameshovel
16. Sunno))) – Black One – Southern Lord
17. Field Music - S/T – Memphis Industries
18. XBXRX – Sixth in Sixes – Polyvinyl
19. Arab Strap – The Last Romance – Chemikal Underground
20. Efterklang – Springer – Leaf

What can I say, it grew on me:

Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock & Roll – Fierce Panda

Some other stuff I listened to a bunch:

Xiu Xui – La Foret – 5RC
Rahim – Jungles – French Kiss
The Most Serene Republic – Underwater Cinematographer – Arts & Crafts
A Band of Bees – Free the Bees – Astralwerks
New Buffalo – The Last Beautiful Day – Arts & Crafts
Rogue Wave – Descended Like Vultures – Sub Pop
End of the World – EP – Risk the Rock records
Fear Before the March of Flames – Art Damage – Equal Vision
Haemoth – Kontamination – Southern Lord
Le Volume Courbe – I killed my best friend – Honest Jons
Trail of the Dead – Worlds Apart – Interscope

Single Songs I heart:

Low – "Monkey" – Sub Pop
Calvin Johnson – “Rabbit Blood” – K
Growing – “Freedom Towards Death”- TMU
CocoRosie – “K-Hole” – Touch Go
Bjork / Oldham – “Gratitude”- Drawing Restraint 9 - OST – One Little Indian
Akron/Family – “Future” – Young Gods
Black Mountain “ No Hits” Jagjaguwar
Vashti Bunyon – “Here Before” / “Lately” DiCristina
Wilderness – Arkless – Jagjaguwar
Mary Timony “Hard Times Are Hard” Lookout
M83 – "Teen Angst" - Mute
Ruts “ Babylon’s Burning” Rob Smith String remix – Groove Attack
Portastatic – “Center of the World” – Merge

Favorite Lyrics:

Bonnie/ Sweeny – “I Gave You” – Drag City
Anything Arab Strap

Bands to watch 2006:
Municipal Waste
Maximo Park
Okkervil River

Destined to be bigger than HUGE:

Animal Collective


Tall Dwarves – Fork Songs/Weeville – Cloud Recordings
Slowdive – Just for a day / Souvlaki – Castle
Mum – Yesterday was Dramatic - Morr

Worst live shows: Trail of the Dead, Mary Timony, Death Cab, Dungen, and CYHSY

Best live shows: Architecture in Helsinki, Calvin Johnson, Municipal Waste, Jean Grae, Kings Of Convenience, Caribou, Ted Leo, Torche, The Double, Sunno))) + XASTHUR, and Khanate

Most overrated: Antony and the Johnsons, CYHSY, Dangerdoom, Broken Social Scene, Sufjan Stevens (Sorry but I like a little less God in my rock)

Best Packaging – Fantomas – Suspended Animation – Ipecac

Favorite music blog : Coolfer

Favorite music website: Trouser Press

Guilty Pleasure music site: NME

Favorite Music Mag: MOJO

Onto the Pitchfork Yays and Nays.

I reviwed each and every Tuningforkmedia post and tallied the number of times a Pitchfork writer was complimented or cursed. Please take note these are not personal attacks, this doesn’t have anything to do with the writers as people, we are only responding to their work. Logically the PFM writers with the highest number of posts written about them have been in turn given this final thumbs up or a thumbs down.

What makes us post against Pitchfork in the first place: The PFM writers who don’t fact check, those who plagiarize, those who use too many A-typical music review phrases or drop too many other band names…no less the inappropriate ones, those who offer negative opinions without backing it up with logical mature useful information, those who simply don’t seem to have any real knowledge of the band they are reviewing, those who pad a review with meaningless paragraphs and there are about a million other ways a record review can go wrong so it is almost silly to try to create a list.

You get the idea so lets move on to the good eggs.

Talent aside there is occasionally a level of humor, care, unique insight, thoughtfulness and knowledge that comes across in a great piece of work and it is important to celebrate those writers too.

Obviously some PFM writers have more reviews published than others so our list reflects that as well.

Which writers we liked the most:
1. Jason Crock
2. Ryan Dombal
3. Ryan Schreiber
4. Mark Richardson
5. Brian Howe

Which writers we liked the least:
1. Joe Tangari
2. Sam Ubl
3. Marc Hogan
4. David Raposa
5. Rob Mitchum

To be honest I really expected Nick Sylvester to make it on this list because his reviews always seem to get a rise out of people but he didn’t even come close to making it.

Favorite PFM post(s):

Portastatic: Bright Ideas[Merge; 2005] Rating: 6.9 - Review by: Brandon Stosuy

TTC: Batards Sensibles[Big Dada; 2005] Rating: 8.0 - Review by: Peter Macia

Thu:11-03: Live: Devendra Banhart by Brian Howe

Least Favorite PFM post(s):

Basement Jaxx: The Singles[XL; 2005] Rating: 9.5 - Review by: Jess Harvell
The swipe at the Astralwerk’s label roster is totally unproffestional bordering on slander and the sales number listed is a total lie.

Many a person found the Mars Volta review to be beyond obnoxious.
The Mars Volta: Frances the Mute[Universal; 2005] Rating: 2.0 - Review by: Sam Ubl

I still can’t believe how often writers basically take direct quotes from one sheets. This is was the worst of the bunch.
Hot Chip: Coming on Strong[Astralwerks; 2005] Rating: 8.0 - Review by: Sean Fennessey

The Kurt Cobain reference is shameful.
Earth: Living in the Gleam of an Unsheathed Sword / Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method[Troubleman Unlimited / Southern Lord; 2005] Rating: 4.9 / 8.2 - Review by: Austin Gaines

Morecredthanyou asked me to include this stinker, typos and all.
Richie Hawtin: DE9: Transitions[Mute; 2005] Rating: 7.8 - Review by: Johnny Loftus

Obviously every person has their favorite PFM writers, review style, and pet peeves so I look forward to reading your comments in regards to favorite or least favorite PFM moments of 2005. TFM writers I welcome you to post your own list of favorite records and your thoughts on any particular PFM posts that moved you in a positive or negative way.

Lastly just a few things I hope to see PFM work on and improve in 2006:

Finding a new person to pick on other than Tim Kinsella or even better, stop using anybody for serious repetitive target practice.

Check your facts: make sure you have some of the basic info right like the label a release is on, what country a release is from, a band’s history, sticking with one form of punctuation style…you know the straight up common sense stuff.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the bonus features on a disc.

Let people know if you are reviewing an import.

Remind writers that rewording one sheets or press releases does not make them a music journalist, it makes them a tool.

And stop picking on old people, we aren’t so bad.

Two days with Sunno))) [p.s. the "o" is silent]

On the heels of an 8.9 pitchfork rating and stellar review, I just spent two evenings with Sunno))) on their most recent mini tour.

Rex Ritter who normally tours with Sunno))) as their Moog guy was not present for these shows and his robe hangs empty in effigy backstage.

All photos are taken by me: Pitchpefect.

First Unitarian Church, Phili, PA. / December 16th 2005

Evening one was in Philadelphia at the First Unitarian Church .

Sunno))) with Xastur playing at a real church?

I couldn't pass that once in lifetime chance up so in the car I went. Be sure to click on the church link because truly there couldn't possibly be a more beautiful and perhaps ironic place for such a band to play. I also have to applaud the venue for having their staff dressed in black robes for this momentous occasion. The crowd filled every pew and practically every inch of of the floor and while I can’t be 100% certain the space looked very much filled to capacity.

Sunno))) does not tour very often and Malefic AKA Xastur is a genuine shut in and NEVER TOURS... so truly this was a show not to be missed. This particular line up and location was absolutely a one shot deal.

Thanks to holiday traffic I arrived 7 1/2 hours later; completely missing Jack Rose and Growing but making it just in time to catch Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley of Sunno))) making a few last minute adjustments on stage. Hearty hellos were exchanged and sips from a bottle of wine were taken before they left to change into their traditional show robes.

It isn't every day a person is asked to be the druid barer of smoke so I was umm...honored (?) to be in charge of their smoke machines that upon their request were to go off as often as their hands strummed their guitar in a downward direction. As you might imagine by the end of the show there was so much damn fog in the church one could hardly see from one end of the space to the other. I don’t know which part was most absurd…a long set of drone from a wall of speaker cabinets and men in robes or me crouched in a ball on the stairs leading to the stage triggering smoke machines and my lungs taking in geyser like explosions of smoke every few minutes. My nagging cough two days later makes for a swell souvenir.

Sunno)))'s performance was a sloppy compared to all the other times I have seen them play but the combination of the church environment with ungodly amounts of smoke, the inclusion of the church pipe organs being played over their set, and guest vocals by Xastur more then made up for Stephen and Greg’s visibly drunk antics.

The final 5 minutes of their set included throwing mic stands all over the stage / into the crowd, stage lights being smashed in and with amps off the band giving the crowd the finger and screaming FUCK YOU. None of this offend the audience and if anything the Neanderthal behavior led a more ravenous and thunderous applause.

As surreal and absurd as this show was it still wins best show of 2005 and the R5 crew are saints for not only making this show happen and securing the location but for putting up with the band's ritual of juvenile debauchery for their very first show of tour.

I will lovingly call both Greg and Stephen Drunky McDrone from this point on and just to make it clear I am not picking on strangers, these are fellas I have known for almost 15 years.

I think I saw Sunno))) play.

I tried to take pictures with my Polaroid but my camera couldn’t handle all the smoke in a space lit only by dim chandeliers hanging from waaaay above and few a gel lights on stage so basically every picture looks like a wall of colored smoke. There was something already enormously Spinal Tap about the whole evening but I had to laugh looking at my Sunno))) live photos of what could have easily also been a giant humidifier on the fritz. Xastur looks so utterly ghostly in person it is only appropriate that on stage in a robe and corpse paint his image vanishes from the film completely.

A new math equation.

Growing AKA Sunno))) lite or posi-doom if you will + Greg Anderson of Sunno))) + wine = men who will cuddle.


Anybody who knows metal would agree that discovering two of the leaders in all that is evil and misery minus robes and corpse paint at a piano playing Rick James is about as fucking awesome as it gets. Party on Garth. Party on Wayne. These pictures were taken about an hour after their Phili show in the back of the church. Malefic is on the left and O'Malley is on the right.

I am also now (un)officially Malefic's number one fan.

Ottobar / Baltimore, Md. / December 17th 2005

Evening two was at the Ottobar in Baltimore 12/17/05. Somehow this time I got stuck behind the merch table for most of the night so I can't tell you much about the show itself but here are a few highlights.

* Opening band Nachtmystium built their own larger than life inverted crosses wrapped in barbed wire during sound check.

* Note to bands who would like to use this stage prop. Venue sound guys do not appreciate working around massive pointy objects during a sound check so place all over-sized evil items on stage last minute.

* Ottobar bartenders do not like working in dense fog.

* Merch tables are where half finished drinks go to die.

*Nobody looks good in fake leather pants.

* Ian MacKaye was in attendance but my guess is he was there in support of opening band Hidden Hand. It was too smoky to tell if he stayed for all of Sunno))) set.

* Sunno))) makes more money in merch in one night than I do in a month working a fulltime job.

* The most popular merch item is the Sunno))) logo pin.

* The largest rats I have ever seen hang out behind the Ottobar parking lot.

* Calling all boys : Do not mix and match a mullet with short Betty Page bangs. I have seen this experiment first hand in Baltimore and it is bad bad bad.

* It takes about an hour with high powered fans (the electrical kind, not the people kind) to clear a room of smoke as thick as stew.

* Greg and Stephen are not afraid to mix and match their drinks. Don't be shy, buy them wine, jager, and long island ice teas.

* When seeing a Sunno))) show DO NOT FORGET EAR PLUGS!!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

50 Foot Wave EP - Free Music

So we're sending free recordings off into the world to do their work. If people enjoy these songs and are excited by them, we ask that they share them with others. The music business is about fame and huge profits -- egos and greed -- music itself, is not.

Switching from major label back to online distribution - 50 Foot Wave is releasing their newest EP entirely under a Creative Commons license. All five tracks are available as both MP3 as well as lossless FLAC on Hersh's site as well as Hersh and the band actively encourage fans to post streams of the files and make copies for friends without CD burners or internet access. The band has even included cover artwork and photos so you can make your own cover. Just today, I played their CD Golden Ocean for someone else and won them yet another fan.

Kristin Hersh has been pretty philosophical about money recently - running into some sizeable home repair bills as well as money grubbing from the last time she played at the Birchmere in DC. You can theorize all you like about this move in terms of the music biz. Nonetheless, it seems like a very generous offer from Kristin, Bernard and Rob.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Please email us at your address so we can mail you your cd!!! If we don't hear from you by Monday the Cave In cd will be placed up for grabs a second time.


Liars - it fit when i was a kid

Oy. I can't tell what Brandon Stosuy is going on about here. Allow me to try and summarize his non-committal ramblings paragraph by paragraph:

"Overall, Liars deserve an award for most improved Williamsburg neo no-wave band. I used to think the Brooklyn-to-Berlin group was an obnoxious snoreful, but on last year's They Were Wrong, So We Drowned the boys unveiled a stirring drone-o-rific direction. At the time, those expecting more of the same-old panned the collection, and since that time the resentment has seemingly deepened."

Translation: When the Liars first album came out and everyone loved it i decided i didnt like them much. But now that they have made an album that alienated at least half their fans, i am more willing to give them a chance. I love an underdog.

"Ignoring these unadventurous critics, It Fit When I Was a Kid, a four-song EP, finds the trio of Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill, and Julian Gross trudging in a similar direction, perhaps with less punch in the percussion. But then, it's impossible to guess whether this single is indicative of the band's forthcoming full-length, Drum's Not Dead-- it just doesn't give us much to chew on. The EP's contents are the title track and its technocrat remix, plus two minimalist non-album pieces, and low-budget videos for the three non-remix tracks. (The 7" contains the title track and its remix.)"

Translation: This EP sounds similar to their last album. And like most EP's it is very short, and possibly very different from the forthcoming full length (boy i dont see why he needed 98 words to say what i could in 25.)

"From its timing to its packaging, the thing's an obvious stocking stuffer (check cupid-struck Santa on the back, crossed candy canes, sliced fruitcake) and its made-for-collectors censored gay-porn cover art PhotoShopped by Julian Gross will get more press than it deserves. Such is the general reaction to penises. If you want to see it uncensored, you can get a full art cover on edible paper from the band's website."

Translation: The only thing more exciting than a naked photoshopped Angus is the real thing. Nude 7 foot Australian art punks don't come along everyday.

"Musically, the lead track's a deep-space sea of vocal drone and plodding drums. Andrew's voice echoes, and occasionally his intonation-- "We were walking in the snow/ Down the street from your front door/ I jumped the neighbors' fence at dawn/ Danced my way across your lawn" -- lands in the area of newest A.R.E. Weapons single, "Weakest Ones". Only, this doesn't suck. Actually, for its seeming tepidness, it's somehow addictive. The sound of a malleted diamond has us thinking of "crystals flying everywhere." A spooky organ introduces the song's shadowy lumen-tree half led by Turkish delight falsetto. It's murkily seamless and understated, and denser than it appears on a first or second listen: A Christmas carol for the restless dead?"

Translation: This is boring and monotonous. Except i like that. And an additional 50 words that mean NOTHING, but seem like some sort of analysis. (And i am pretty sure malleted isnt a word. But i digress).

"The considerably rockier "The Frozen Glacier Of Mastodon Blood" lacks the opener's fluidity, though the Big Black-style drums are nice. "Bingo! Count Draculuck" turns up the echo for a repeated query, "Are you all right?"-- its ambient drone, factory-dub percussion, and video game blasts are ultimately nondescript. Finally, "It Fit When I Was a Kid (Don't Techno For An Answer)" fractures the original then dumps thump-thump-thump atop, burying things in 12 inches of snow."

Translation: Even though i said that the first track was plodding, i have changed my mind since i wrote that and now will refer to it as fluid. Oh its snowing outside. I should add snow to my review somehow.

"This nibble has me intrigued, but also kinda bored (again). I'm hoping Liars lodge a few more pieces like "It Fit When I Was a Kid" on the LP; if the supporting tracks are an indication, though, there's reason to nod off. Going with my gut, those lesser tracks ring more like filler than future promises, so let's keep faith and expect Drum's Not Dead to offer something sublime."

Translation: I liked it, but it wasnt that good. And even though it bored me, i want the entire album to be like this

Like it or don't, just make a definitive statement. I would hate to shop for shoes with this guy.

Menomena / Under an Hour / Rating 7.9

PFM says: "In late 2003, Menomena rocketed to acclaim from self-released obscurity in a matter of months."

True. Their first release I am the fun blame monster is absolutely pure genius (in the spirit of Prefuse tackling Radiohead) and deserved even more attention than it was given at the time.

While Pitchfork and music bloggers circled their wagons in the name of Menomena press for the band / the record on a larger scale was WEAK.

PFM says: "Under an Hour, Menomena's honestly-titled second album (it's 54 minutes long), is frankly so different from their debut that it's hardly worth comparing the two."

True. Very true. Had I been unfamiliar with this band’s debut release I would in all honesty listen to this “new album” once and not think much about the band or their music ever again.

PFM says: "it's made up of three long instrumentals composed to soundtrack the work of a dance troupe called the Monster Squad"

True. Though I find it difficult to accept Under an Hour as Menomena’s “new album” (hence the " ") because it was created as a soundtrack for dance troupe. Without getting into too many what ifs I don’t imagine Menomena would have created this very same record had they not been working under the strict guidelines of considering there will be movement of the human body to the sounds they produced no less restricted to the themes of “Water” Flour” and Light” .

PFM says: "unlike many soundtrack/installation pieces, it's quite listenable on its own, falling roughly in the same chamber music realm as Rachel's or Max Richter, though more stretched out and less orchestral."

If you call something that sounds like a Windham Hill sampler remixed by Morphine (AKA sax heavy) and a glitch-hop DJ “quite listenable” then I guess the above is true.

PFM says: "it's a logical extension of the way the band uses shifting textures and musical juxtapositions in the service of its pop songs."

False. Logical? I suppose it has to be plausible because this IS the music Menomena chose to produce and release for mass consumption but this musically goes far beyond a slight departure of their former selves and I don't think anybody could have projected the bands second release would be a moden dance score.

PFM says : "Each piece has multiple tension points and crescendos to keep your ear engaged for a hard listen, but it honestly works best as background music."

True. Background music is what this trio of songs are at best... but any score aficionado would tell you a successful soundtrack stands powerfully on its own. Under an Hour barely accomplishes this and in turn the 7.9 rating should be more like a 5.

Modern dancers might make these songs come alive but without the honor of seeing them work together I am forced to judge the music in pure audio form. This record fails on two levels; it neither surpasses the greatness of their debut release nor does it match the dymanic expertise of instrumental compositions by artists like Godspeed.

PFM says: Luckily, Menomena's artistic success doesn't seem to be changing them a great deal.

False? The term “artistic success” is a little vague and I don’t know understand if “them” applies to the band or the people in the band. This new record represents a definite and serious change for the band musically speaking and to be honest Menomena’s records have yet to really reach the masses.

Their first release and clearly their most accessible / listener friendly cd thus far has a minimal sales history (waaaay under 10k) and it goes to show that internet hype can be larger than life and doesn’t often / easily translate into a real sales success story or popularity that a band like Wolf Parade is basking in now.

Maybe I am incorrect for not considering Under an Hour to be a genuine second Menomena release but all bets are on as to what their third release will sound like. Personally I hope this all instrumental phase doesn’t become the bands life long carreer.

Okkervil River / Black Sheep Boy / Rating 8.2

1 Regarding "private madness," see Pauline Kael, For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies. (New York: Plume, 1996). p. 601.

It appears somebody at PFM has been reading a little David Foster Wallace, nice!

Also: since I already reviewed this EP in place of the full length I will spare you the re-do. I believe the original post in filed under November.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Confessions of a Record Addict : Menlo Park : Marc Weitz

Hey all,

This is part two of a running series we will be doing on record addicts. Let's have a big round of applause for Menlo Marc.

Name: marc weitz
Occupation: whoa, lots of stuff: national director of marketing(caroline distribution), owner/founder: menlo park recordings, partner/founder: unexpected feeling & sons.
First record ever: kiss - destroyer was the first that was mine that i remember....(my baby sitter gave me her 8 track of it i was around 5 or 6 i think....)
Years collecting: 25 or so?
Most ever paid for a record: $75.00 ( i really have no idea, but that seems right, though maybe it's more like $50.)
Number of records in collection: i would guess around 8-10,000 or so for my personal collection, but i never count.

i've been in the music industry for maybe 15 years now in a serious capacity, maybe 5-6 more years in some learning curve way, and i've been running my own label, menlo park recordings for a little over 10 years. for me one of my favorite, and at the same time, most nerve racking moments occurs when on the day i receive my first copies of a new record i'm putting out. it's better than christmas. much better. i find something incredibly beautiful about seeing 1000 pieces of the same vinyl, or opening up a 30 count box of cd's and seeing the same spine over and over. it's a mix of creativity and industry, and i find that irresistible. the nerve racking portion is that in my heart, i'm nervous, as i know something may be wrong...a color comes out lighter than you thought, the bleed was a little off, there's a spelling error somewhere, the vinyl is warped, the top spines are wrong, the booklets are inserted inside out, they give me plastic lp sleeves instead of paper (and i hate that)... all of these things have happened and then some, and it's all part of the fun.....i also know that if something does go wrong, a period of "working it out" begins, and that period is like going to the dentist. i was never the biggest client (or even close) at the pressing plant i used for all of my vinyl, and almost all of my cd's, but the person whom i dealt with was always super cool, and often gave me deals reserved for larger clients. that being said, when there was a problem, there was a problem, and it went to his boss who is his own mind, is never wrong. i normally had to "work something out" which meant, i normally got part of my money back, but to rectify the problem would necessitate some physical work on my part (like taking all of the lp's out of the plastic sleeves and re-inserting them into paper sleeves. yes, i didn't get charged for the paper sleeves, but I DID have to insert them all myself, which x1000 certainly =='s a chunk of time in the end...

when you run a small record label you learn to expect these sorts of things, and you just roll with it. you almost feel that the mistake makes it honest, like scars are sexy, and the stamp with the plane printed upside down is coveted. here are a couple secrets among many that exist: loren mazzacane/ keiji haino lp : there are 150 of them that have the year printed on the back. deerhoof - apple o lp. the first pressing has a white lp label, subsequent versions have a pink lp label. japanther - the first pressing of leather wings had a completely different cover that almost no one ever saw, cause we hated the way it turned out so much, that i cut them into pieces myself so the world would be spared, and turned them into inserts for the lp which were randomly inserted into the new artwork version (if you have a leather wings with an insert with a cardboard back and some color photos of the band you have one of them)there are many secrets, and that's all part of the fun, and turns the annoyingness into a tepid lemonade.

nothing prepared me for the call i got 6 months ago when i was informed that europadisk (my pressing plant) closed its doors. that it had been in financial peril for several years now, and the bank simply foreclosed without notice. europadisk was the only direct metal mastering facility in the country, so naturally even if i got my lp plates back from the plant they would be useless. whoa. what to do now? eh, there was not much i could do, i needed to spring into action, as i was just about to put out 2 albums, deerhoof - green cosmos, and icky boyfriends - a love obscene. luckily these were cd's and they i received them a couple of days before they were shutdown, but re-presses were an immediate concern. my hats off to imprint printing, who do a lot of my cd booklet printing. they have a good relationship with the pressing plant, and took any print that was still there and had it sent to his press in florida. bit by bit over the last 6 months,i have transferred masters for re-press to another plant. of course, since no glass masters exists, i have to pay for new ones to be made for the cd's. for the vinyl, it's likely that whatever was pressed is now out of print for good. it's a total mess, and as a label who survives by saving loose change, this seriously messes with my day to days. you always think about the little things that go wrong, but you seldom think that the orange tree will stop bearing fruit, or the man you taught to fish so he would never go hungry is fishing quite well, but apparently starving.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tonight for you stay at home types:

  • Death Cab for Cutie on Kimmel [ABC]
  • Nada Surf on Ferguson [CBS]
  • Spoon on Daly [NBC]

and on 12/16

  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on Conan [NBC]

taken from

White Stripes / Walking With a Ghost / Rating 6.1

As Walking With a Ghost lacks a genuine slam-dunk A-side, most listeners might be best served to just hold off entirely for now, saving attention for the inevitable lavish collection of White Stripes B-sides and rarities that's surely bound to appear sometime within the next couple holiday seasons.

I thought it might be fun to see what Pitchfork said about the original Tegan and Sara song so here is one funny clippety clip.

Tegan and Sara
So Jealous[Vapor/Sanctuary; 2004]
Rating: 3.4

"The first single from So Jealous, "Walking With a Ghost", sounds like one of those dummy mp3s major labels post on KaZaA to fool unsuspecting music lovers, where the first 10 seconds loop for five minutes. Remember when you thought "House of Jealous Lovers" was instrumental? "Walking With a Ghost" repeats three or four mundane phrases-- particularly "out of my mind"-- dozens of times in two-and-a-half-minutes, all over the same jerky, studio-polished guitar chords. I suppose it's almost as catchy as the latest McDonalds jingle, but it's also utterly boring." [Marc Hogan]

Then on 11/7 PFM had this to say about the White Stripes single track:

The White Stripes: "Walking With a Ghost"
genre: rock
3 1/2 stars

"Is it sexist to like the NBA over the WNBA because dudes can slam dunk? What about finding Juwanna Mann funnier than Eddie? The Whites' Tegan and Sara cover outshines the Canadian power-pop duo's flat, Stripes-minded original, with the gender-bending Jack sounding his most animated since Elephant. I wanna chalk up the cover's junk-to-gold transmutation to genderless qualities like the crunchier guitars or caveman drumming, but ultimately Jack's finely honed rock affectations seal the deal. Thanks to his searing Robert Plant cowls, trite and repetitive lyrics like "you're out of my mind" and "no matter which way you go" become improbable mantras akin to "wanna whole lotta love?". The whole gender-swap thing creeping you out? Too bad. In the words of character Puff Smokey Smoke, "Juwanna, you are one tall glass of water and I'm thirsty!"" [Adam Moerder]

Like any band with a rabid following, this single will satiate their Candy Cane Army or whatever the White Stripes mega fans call themselves.

For those of you who perhaps like me are on the fence about the last record but like the rest of their catalog, "Walking With A Ghost" will not cause your arm hair to stand on its end but you won't hate yourself for owning it either. I think that equates to about a 6.1 rating.

The only fun fact I can add to the PFM review is the two tracks recorded in Brazil were done the same day Jack married model Karen Elson.


Dear White Stripes,

Meg can't sing so please God please stop
putting her out of time / out of tune efforts on record.
Live it may be cute and of the moment but recorded
it sinks like a marble turd.

Thank you,

Growing / His Return / Rating 6.3

I win!

I reviewed this record back at the end of October and actually looking at the review I cut and paste below it was the first non PFM review we had posted to date.

Speaking of running things late, we ran the Danielson story weeks ago too and they just posted that today.

We double win!

To make this a normal PFM review I will attach a link to their post but I wilk keep my OG color rating system. Needless to say I liked this EP more than Pitchfork.


This is my very first non pitchfork review and my rating system will be simple. The review will be in RED if I love it. MUSTARD if it leaves me feeling luke warm. And BLUE if it leaves me cold.

displaces the amplifiers' murderous impulse

I can’t explain why I am attracted to a record where 2/3 of it sounds like bees tossing and turning on an organ bed with a rattlesnake pacing before it. There is a new genre radiating from its core of repetitive drone, something lighter than the traditional sound of doom. Posi-doom? I don’t know what else to call it without sounding like a ridiculous description from a Relapse mail order catalog. Maybe it has something to do with my affinity for two-piece bands. Maybe it’s the melody and notes that aren’t really there but my imagination fills in the blanks with. I can’t tell if new layers of sound reveal themselves with each listen or if I am genuinely making them up. In fact after 6 listens, this record hasn’t sounded the same twice and at the same time I am certain many people would listen to this padded mattress of thick tones and hear something that irks them like a car alarm with no owner to silence it in sight.

A mere 3 tracks clocking in under 30 minutes, I believe it was “Freedom Towards Death” that helped be decide this is my favorite Growing release to date, continents (and contents) away anything they have done for Kranky Records. Vocals, vocals where there have been none before; there is a lovely sadness buried but evaporating upward that I can only compare to a more stripped down but no less sonic Jesu.

Posi-doom. I hold the rights to that name but you may borrow it at will, ha! And while the subject is still fresh, file this under a descendent of Earth.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Amandine / This Is Where Our Hearts Collide / Rating 7.6

It’s a pity really. Any band that doesn’t come from the United States automatically gets labeled exotic bordering on novelty (to varying degrees), will typically be compared to whatever bands the reviewer knows from said country, and often the band review will be molded and shaped into one part music overview one part national geographic travel essay.

Pitchfork has posted a better review than most online publications but is still basically a more trumped up version of all the other Amandine pieces I read. I am beginning to wonder if there needs to be music journalists when we all have access to Wikipedia , press releases, band sites and their My Space page.

Each review checklists the same basics:

Location: Malmö, Sweden
Band: 4 piece whose line up has changed ove the years.
Genre: Alt-country RIYL ( just like the one sheet says) : Songs: Ohia, Damien Jurado, Iron and Wine, and CSNY. Had this been released 5 years ago this would have said Son Volt, Jayhawks, Wilco, and Uncle Tupelo.
Band History Basics: Originally called Wichita Linemen, FatCat signed them after hearing a demo, and this is the bands first long player.
Label: FatCat, also has Animal Colelctive , Vashti Bunyon, Mum, Songs of Green Pheasant, Sigur Ros, and more.

See for yourself, one review doesn't differ that much from the next.

Getting back to the Sweden topic, at this point I think it is fair to say with this not so new global trade act in place, with air travel being relatively affordable no less reaching all points on the map, and the widespread use of things called computers connecting us on a global level, our cultural exchanges and influences have fewer boundries separating us than ever. Yes Amandine does alt-county / folk but this isn't a new genre to Sweden by any stretch and instruments like the accordian, violin, and banjo has been a part of Swedish music making community for more than a century.

I don't expect American writers to be experts in world music history and what trends are happening in every country but underestimating the musical diversity of a country reflects a shamefully sheltered opinion and lack of real insight.

And people wonder where phrases like ugly American come from.

With a little digging I found an interview with Amandine that briefly touches on the genre subject and while it doesn't expose any uber exciting facts it does shed a little light on the present Swedish music scene Amandine comes from.

BH: is there a scene for country/folk/americana music in Sweden ?

A: Not really... well there are a few bands who play somewhat similar music and there is definitly an audience, but its not based around any city or any particular group of people. Some bands and artists are doing quite well, such as Christian Kjellvander or Kristofer Astrom, but we dont feel closer to them than other bands.

(and if you google alt-country and Sweden quite a few bands come up actually)

To promote this get to know another country AKA Sweden concept, check out this music blog site dedicate to the cause :

The Amandine "This is Where Our Hearts Collide" PFM review offers an on point review of the music and the rating wise I have to agree too but I will say this: I passed along my promo of the Calexico/ Iron and Wine cd to a friend but I kept the Amandine cd.

Amandine makes me wish I had a working fireplace to curl up to and hot toddies to sip. Much like I think of my Neil Young records, the darkness that comes with winter begs for this kind of a soundtrack and a band like Amandine lights the way.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Akron/Family at Cafe Iota, Arlington, VA (DC) Dec. 8th

Among Pentecostal Christians, a sure sign of baptism by the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. A friend of mine who spoke in tongues at the height of her belief was so freaked out by it that she turned into a drinking, pot-smoking, fornicating atheist within weeks of the event. Based on her story, baptism in the spirit was not a mellow buzz. After seeing their show at Café Iota in Arlington, VA, I am convinced that Akron/Family are the Pentecostals of Indie Rock – distinctly American, a little bit crazy and baptized by powerful spirits when they perform. Watching them, you wonder a little if the band is comfortable with the power of that baptism or if it scares them a little.

My friends and I missed the opening act while we ate in the café. We walked through to the performance area to find it slightly less than half full. Since Iota is already a small venue, that meant there were only four or five dozen people in the audience. Looking out at their small crowd, the band talked, made strange noises into throat microphones and played with plush birds that play back the birds’ songs. After a couple of minutes of this, the band started off with a wave of noise that eventually sprouted into a song. They then broke into an odd combination of a Monty Python routine and equipment fiddling that lasted for a number minutes. They then played their next song.

Throughout the night, the band was quite fond of their between song hijinks – shedding shirts, donning/removing bandanas and swinging from the rafters by their arms. At one point, Ryan asked the audience if anyone was bored and someone by the bar sheepishly raised a hand. This provoked the band into further discussion of disrobing – often with several members talking simultaneously. They also enjoyed referring to Washington as Baltimore and using the word “y’all” to their own amusement. These prolonged breaks probably dragged out what would have been a little over an hour of music to an hour and a half long show.

Did the band’s shenanigans take away from the show? Yes, a little. Did the ecstatic music they made for the rest of the night overshadow their antics? Absolutely.

The nervous energy of their banter crept into their performances – they swayed back on their chairs occasionally leaping out of them to dance on the stage or in the midst of the audience. However, Akron/Family retained control of their energy when it was channeled through their instruments and voices. They went from an ear-shredding wail of guitar noise of one song to the quiet acoustic whisper of Afford with bird chirps from their plush toys. During Moment, they performed a precise turn from a wailing psychedelic chorus to dueling prog-rock guitars then another turn to CSNY harmonies to end the song. For every song, they seemed capable of dashing towards a precipice only to make an abrupt turn and run skipping along the edges of the cliff.

As much as Akron/Family’s hijinks may have annoyed the audience, the band seemed more than capable of winning back that love with each song. Couples hugged each other while the band played Running, Returning. Under Ryan’s urging, the audience sang along and clapped to Future Myth. When the band jumped into the audience with an acoustic guitar to play a song to a friend, they quickly drew the crowd into their chant of “love and space”. On the next to last song, I’ll Be On The Water, they charmed the audience into doing the “wave” during the entire song. So instead of the organ that accompanied the recorded version, the audience made a shushing noise as they threw up their hands.

Akron/Family is on my list of favorite new bands this year. Overall, I am delighted to have seen them in such a small venue with a crowd that received them so warmly.

I’d also like to thank the band (I think it was Dana) who let my friend take pictures of their plush birds.

Lastly, hats off to the Café Iota for giving us ideas for reusing bad CDs. To the left and right of the stage were lit Christmas trees with shiny CDs as ornaments.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Captain Scuttlebutt and the Island Fortress

Captain Scuttlebutt stood near the back of the boat, one leg lifted as he surveyed the approaching shore. In the seats below him sat four of the foulest smelling pirates you would ever hope to meet. Each one rowed as hard as they could, grunting as they did so. The crew had been at sea for nearly 3 months and it was time to feel the solid purchase of land. The British navy had been pursuing them the whole while, and they were low on food and needed more powder for their muskets.
Scuttlebutt surveyed the island before him. It was a lush dot in a vast sea, a haven to his band of piratefolk. He had discovered this uncharted spec two decades before when he was a deck hand on the HMS Poppycock. To him that seemed someone else's life, someone else's memory. He had been convicted of mutinous speech and had been sent off in a small boat with Paco Jones, addfrift and without hope. But fate had smiled on them that day and the island had welcomed them with pineapples and fresh Tapir meat. They had lived like pagan kings, swimming by day and making sinful man-love by night. When finally rescued by a passing caravan of native fisherman, they were reluctant to leave. But leave they did, though Scuttlebutt had never forgotten the island. When he took over command of the Privateer Ticonderoga he had searched for the island and when he found it his crew built a vast fortress in the heart of the jungle, a base of operations for their illicit nautical deeds. Now once again he had returned to the island, his island.
The small boat ran aground on beach.
"Stay with the boat Chomp." Scuttlebutt said to one of the pirates, a small man with yellowing teeth and a toupee made of fox hide. "The rest of you come with me." Scuttlebutt and the 3 other pirates moved off the beach and into the jungle. No path was evident, but the Captain knew exactly where he was going. He kicked vines out of the way with his thick leather boots, and used his cutlass to clear the way of overgrown ferns. Bird of all sorts fluttered over head, and their vioces filled the jungle. Behind him silently went the other three; the brothers Ole and Christafør, as well as Joao. The brothers he had found brawling in an Panamanian pub, and took them on board as his muscle. Joao spoke no English, though he constantly spoke in his native language, and was a cunning man of many skills.
"Você cheiro de peixes inoperantes" Joao said as he walked behind the Captain. Ole and Christafør giggled like schoolgirls. Scuttlebutt ignored them and kept going. Ahead the large stone walls of the fortress loomed. Suddenly the Captain stopped. Coming from inside the fortress was a blaring noise, the type of which he had never heard. His mind raced. Someone else had found his secret refuge. He reached into his coat and took out his Blunderbuss. Seeing this the other 3 did the same.
"Eu necessito fazer exame de uma merda," Joao said loudly.
"Be quiet!" Scuttlebutt said between clenched teeth.
"Coma meus testículos," Joao muttered under his breath.
Scuttlebutt ignored him and took slow purposeful steps toward the large wooden doors that marked the entrance to the fortress. He pressed his hand against the door and slowly pushed it open, enough for him to peek inside. What he saw nearly fractured his mind.
Four young men were convulsing in the main hall, bashing on instruments the like he had never seen. Each was dressed in a manner that was foreign to his eyes. Unnatural lights blinked on and off from the ceiling, in many different colors. And the noise, dear Jesus the noise. Screeching and pounding, it seemed to Scuttlebutt that it had come from the depths of hell. He raised his hands to his ears, hoping he could stop the demon noise from entering his head. As he did so his Blunderbuss fell from his hands and landed on the floor. The noise stopped and the four men looked up from their devilish noisemaking. Scuttlebutt took his hands from his ears and picked up the gun. He opened the door wide and waived his companions in.
"Who are ye, and what are you doin' in my fortress?" he asked pointing his Blunderbuss at the them.
"Hi, I'm Eric," one of them said. "We were just practicing."
Scuttlebutt eyed him suspiciously. "Practicing what?".
"Our music," the one called Eric said.
Scuttlebutt laughed. "Ye call that music? That is noise for noise sake!"
Christafør nodded his agreement. "Seriously my Karelian Bear Dog makes less noise when she is in heat."
Eric shook his head. "No its music. Check it out." The four suddenly started in on their instruments again. The horrifying sounds started anew. The pirates recoiled. Joao screamed and let loose a shot from his Blunderbuss. It hit one of the strangers in the chest and sent him hurtling back. The noise stopped and the remaining three strangers stood in shock.
"Oh god," Eric said. "You killed Sebastian."
"Eu necessito ainda cagar," Joao said arching his back. Eric looked at Scuttlebutt hoping for a translation. Scuttlebutt just shrugged.
"Ye have defiled my inner sanctum and you must pay," Scuttlebutt said moving closer to Eric. "Do you speak for these two as well?" He pointed to the other frightened young men.
"Uh," Eric started. "Yeah. That's Bjorn and Hisham."
Scuttlebutt tucked the Blunderbuss back in his coat and smiled. "Well my boys, your now mine."
The frightened young men were seized by the hulking Norwegian brothers and the Joao.
"Take them back to the ship," Scuttlebutt ordered. "And send more men ashore to clean up this place. I be needing some grub tonight. Put them in the hold. Dress them in the finest ladies gowns and bring them back this eve to dance for my pleasure."
He laughed a hearty laugh. Eric, Bjorn and Hisham looked at each other, scared of what lay ahead.

Will this this quartet turned trio escape from the clutches of Scuttlebutt to once again play their peculiar brand of "music"? Find out in Episode 2: The Daring Men of the Ticonderoga

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ennio Morricone / Crime & Dissonance / Rating 8.0

melodramatic church organ pieces and free jazz to wah-drenched psychedelia, stiff funk, and abstract avant-gardism

Ipecac might be onto something by choosing to release cds where the artwork is as integral to the release as the music is. What immediately comes to mind is the Fantomas’ Suspended Animation cd which came packaged in a 30 page spiral bound book / calendar illustrated by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara but in truth every single release they press has unusually high quality art and or packaging. The Ennio Morricone Crime and Dissonance cd carries this high art tradition and while I know PFM opts to focus on the music in their reviews; the cd booklet is too beautiful not to mention. In fairness not all advance copies / promo cds come with the finished art so perhaps PFM was not fortunate enough to see the fantastic final product. (Let this be a lesson to you label folks, if your cd has great packaging send music journalist the final goods!)

The booklet features 12 pages of full color art, sexy glorious stills from the movies the songs on this disc partner up with. The glossy thick paper smells like those 1970’s vinyl peel and stick decals and if psychedelic images steeped in sex and violence don’t do it for you I think the paper has an acceptable amount of sheen capable of housing modern day puffy and scratch and sniff sticker collections.

In an increasing digital world it is becoming harder and harder to convince music fans, especially the under 25 set that a clunky cd or lp is worth the money and anti space saving hassle. What then can a label do to turn this escalating negative attitude towards antiquated physical products around? They could create a cd or record so incredible, so one of a kind and worthy of taking up space in a home, office, or car that a consumer feels obligated to buy it.

We have all seen labels take steps in the past year or two to turn around the old fashioned cd. We have seen the birth of the double disc (be it a failed idea or not), the reissue enhanced cd with screensavers, pictures, bonus tracks, live cuts, and so on, the double cd with all the bonus material a fan could ever want, and last but not least, we have the limited edition pricey but eye candy decadent cover art with packaging to die for. The problem with any of the above things is it is expensive to produce, or in some cases reproduce if it is a title a label is releasing to bring new life otherwise drooping sales.

It is impossible to predict if plain and simple cd and vinyl releases will remain an active part of the music marketplace but with a label like Ipecac stepping up and transforming their catalog into genuine pieces of art, then perhaps customers will have a reason to keep buying them well into next decade. As a record collector I have my fingers and toes crossed. Besides what will the next generation of music collectors call themselves, computers?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jens Lekman / Oh You're So Silent Jens / Rating 8.5

Jens is cheese, chocolate, strawberries, and something tangy to wash it down with

Sex And The City Quotation
Charlotte: I am so confused. Is he gay or is he straight?
Carrie: Well, it's not that simple anymore. The real question is, is he a straight gay man or is he a gay straight man?
Carrie : The gay straight man was a new strain of heterosexual male spawned in Manhattan as the result of overexposure to fashion, exotic cuisine, musical theatre and antique furniture.

The indie rock community has a boy version of this. He collects K records as dutifully as he keeps track of Belle and Sebastian’s newest releases. He is better at finding great vintage dresses at the thrift store than his girlfriend. His baked tofu actually has flavor and this kind of boy doesn’t just know what a skin product line is, he owns it and uses it twice daily. Modern furniture collector, expensive lifestyle magazine subscriber, and open crier at movies, this is the twee-as-you-wanna-be modern day cuddle-core man. (Twee as fuck was the 20th century man)

Enter Jens Lekman, a man who sings about love and woman but also can be quoted in a PM interview as saying :

PM: Speaking of fighting, you and the Kings of Convience are playing Boston on the same night. Who'd win in a fight between you and the Kings?

JL: I don't wanna fight the Kings. I wanna sleep with them. Erlend is a good friend and he's hot.

So you tell me is Jens a gay straight man or a straight gay man? When we are talking about this kind of this sexless yet romantic indiepop channeled into crowd pleasing songs, the question at hand is better left unanswered and this ongoing mystery feeds into the music’s melodramatic androgynous charm.

Sixty plus minutes of Depeche Mode piano ballads and arrangements that make Morrissey and the Magnetic Fields sound macho didn’t have the aura of an instant hit record for me. I like music to hug platonic friends by as much as the next but the bitter I heard it all before music nerd in me approached Jens Lekman with a raised eyebrow and arms folded.

With each song my body language softened and by the third listen I have decided I am a fan. My original instinct to attack the PFM 8.5 rating has virtually been erased and while the actual review has traces of teenybopper fluff (the whole no girlfriend angle as its foundation) I will spare it any harsh criticism.

I am not quite as awe struck by it on the whole (a 7 by my rating) but each song’s unique personality leaves me feeling as satiated as I feel when I listen to the Rough indiepop 1 collection. Quaint, perfectly imperfect, cleverly stated, and from an oversized heart “Oh you’re so silent Jens” will thaw even the most jaded frosty critic.

(Spare me your frigid jokes please)

My only question is this. Track 4 "Pocketful of Money" uses a Beat Happening sample but there is no credit given for it anywhere in the cd booklet or cover art. What gives?

My Apologies

Not sure what the exact number of hours were but this site was down for at least 6 if not more yesterday early evening into the night. It appeared the whole blogspot community was effected byt this outage but things appear to be business as usual today.

The bad news it made winning cds impossible but the good news is most of them are still available....just scroll down a wee bit to see what is left.

50 Foot Wave/Golden Ocean/7.3

there's no denying that it is ridiculously loud-- squealing and slamming all over the place.

I have a friend who’s a cop – a detective to be specific. When he’s not solving property crimes, he digs around on the Internet for music, often surprising me with what he finds. A little over a year ago, he told me that Kristin Hersh had a new band. They had only released a six song ep with half of the tracks available for free on Epitonic. I downloaded the free tracks. Awestruck, I bought the EP – even though I had half of it for free already.

Since then, I’ve repeated the same conversation whenever I play 50 Foot Wave’s debut lp Golden Ocean for people-

“Yeah, 50 Foot Wave is Kristin Hersh’s new band.”.

“Really? I’ve never heard of it.

With every new band rolling through Brooklyn getting blogged, this record seems to have stayed below the radar of buzz. Blog coverage has discussed how unfortunate their name was; promo copies of Golden Ocean came out just before the south-east asian Tsunami. Critical buzz has been generally positive, but I’ve only read two reviews - Popmatters and Blogcritics – that “get it”. Most critics are stymied – 50 Foot Wave sounds little like the Throwing Muses and nothing like Hersh’s solo records. However, even the more lukewarm reviews offer what sounds like high praise to me –

it's about as restrained as early Husker Du [Alternative Press]

you can feel bludgeoned by the band's blunt force. [Uncut]

50 Foot Wave is the sound of three people roaring. Hersh plays her guitar with ample overdrive and sings the same way. Throwing Muses bass player Bernard Georges rolls and fills in the rhythm. However, the main culprit behind the surge of energy is drummer Rob Ahlers. Ahler’s drumming is forceful and direct – no mustard, no relish, no bun – all meat. They conjure up some of my favorite power trios with their playing – Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, Nirvana – while still sounding potent and original.

It could be some people cannot get over Kristin Hersh’s voice. I recently listened to the Throwing Muses’ debut alongside Golden Ocean. Kristin Hersh’s voice has weathered unkindly over the last 20 years. She now has two singing voices – a hoarse whisper and a roar. Her voice on Golden Ocean is solely that roar. The poet Frederico Lorca used a Spanish word to describe a Flamenco singer who sang without art or technique , just pure emotion –Duende. Literally, Duende means a devil or spirit. However, Lorca used it to describe some other dark force that comes forward in great art.

Duende is not in the throat; duende surges up from the soles of the feet.

Hersh’s voice on this album isn’t subtle or pretty. However, it feels like it comes from some place deep in the earth; she simply channels that force with the remainder of her vocal cords. There is undeniably Duende within her singing.

I admit that I am unable to listen to this record with any level of detachment. Perhaps I’m in awe of this record because I can remember spinning the Throwing Muses debut on a college radio station the year that it came out. Perhaps, I’m in awe of any artist who finds a way to reinvent herself after playing music for more than two decades. Perhaps, in this year of new bands that sound like a thriftshop of musical styles, I hunger for an elementary rock record with loud guitars and drums. Nonetheless, this is a record I find myself telling people about constantly.

You don't have to take my word for it; just listen for yourself.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Various Artists / DFA Holiday Mix 2005 / Rating 7.5

For the sensible types who don't fuck with remixes, the DFA's Holiday Mix 2005 collects, sequences, and beatmatches the better ones that the New York-based label commissioned for three of its primary artists: savant-noise trio the Black Dice, drizzly electro-funker the Juan Maclean, and dancerock flagship act LCD Soundsystem.

The winter does terrible things to my brain. Once the heat kicks on in my apartment the dust from the radiators attack my body and severe allergies rage a war against the basic process I once called thinking. I lose like 40 IQ points this time of year because of it but needless to say after reading this PFM review 10 times over, I still don't think Nick mentions that DFA Holiday MIx 2005 is not available on cd or lp. (in the USA)

According to the Astralwerks website this is a digital only release ... out now for a limited time...48 minutes of music for only 99 cents from your favorite Digital Service Provider.

***THIS JUST IN : A nice person in the comment section has let me know this is available on cd as an import.

Rosie Thomas / If Songs Could Be Held / Rating 5.9

Oh man, I knew this would happen. This Rosie Thomas cd had a mid September street date and I figured since plenty of time had elapsed, PFM wasn't going to review it. In turn we gave away our copy months ago. I don't remember much about it other than I didn't like it enough to keep it but that doesn't count as much of a review so sorry about that.

Speaking of giving stuff away, its about that time again.

Your friends at Tuningforkmedia would like to share some of our promo cd wealth with our!

All you need to do to win is:

1) Be the first to post a comment in this comments section naming the cd you would like to win. 2) If your comment appears first then you are the winner of that cd.
3) Then email us at your name and address as well as the cd you won.
4) We mail you the cd and a very special tuningforkmedia DIY thank you membership card.

There is no cost or creepy catch. This is a straight up something for nothing. All we ask is you haven't won something in 90 days and don't be selfish... pick just one title please. If you don't like the cd pass it on to a friend. Selling it will cause you to go to indie rock hell. And one last thing, we will gladly ship out of the USA.

Up for grabs /format is all cds:

Breakestra - Hit the floor - Ubiquity (paper sleeve promo w/ art) WE HAVE A WINNER

Edith Frost - It's a Game - Drag City WE HAVE A WINNER

Orenda Fink - Invisible Ones - Saddle Creek ( press copy w/ photo but not art) WE HAVE A WINNER

Fall - Heads Roll - Narnack WE HAVE A WINNER

Cave In - Perfect Pitch Black - Hydra Head (paper sleeve art) WE HAVE A WINNER


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Map to the stars : Tuningfork Gets Lost On Line

*CBGBs consider moving legendary venue to Vegas

*Insound posts their top 100 sellers. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is #1 but that isn’t a shocker considering Insound was one of the few places to buy this record before it received proper national distro. Mars Volta #2, ummm.... huh. What is surprising: Animal Collective way out at #39 (though this is a new release so sales have yet to earn them a better position), My Morning Jacket at # 56, Deerhoof #86 (also a newish release), and Books barely making it on the list at #93.

*Rough Trade posts their top of 2005 which includes both sales and staff picks. Brakes “Give Blood” is their number one and CYHSY found their way in at #27.

* This just in: Le Volume Courbe - I killed my best friend on Honest Jons will finally get a proper domestic release in the states at the end of Feb. 2006 via Astralwerks.

*Kanye West makes me wonder why Beans ( of antipop consortium) didn’t become a commercial success story first; both rappers share a certain left of center je ne sais quoi.

*From Troubleman : GLASS CANDY has some new tracks on their myspace page. Go there to check it out. A new record is expected in 2006.

Also Away from Voivod is still working on his long overdue art book, coming out on Troubleman Unlimited in 2006.

* Listen to Calexico + Iron and Wine on NPR

* Blood Brother remix Gang of Four listen here

*Red Sparowes (featuring members of Isis, Neurosis, and Halifax Pier) tour Europe in Spring 2006 but not before heading into the studio to record their next record for Neurot Recordings. Also Neurosis are writing their new record as I type this and recording begins in the summer of 2006. Lastly at the end of February Neurot will release Final Final3 which features Justin Broadrick from Jesu /Godflesh and MGR Nova Lux which features Mike G. of Isis.

*What the heck happened to Joanna Newsom? Its been awhile since we have had much news on her yet. The Drag City website says: White Magic and Joanna Newsom are settling down for a long-winter’s record session, in hopes of each of them also contributing to the big parade of ’06.

*From the FatCat website:
Songs of Green Pheasant and Aoki Takamasa have each contributed Beatles covers from The White Album as part of a special radio programme dedicated to the life and work of John Lennon who was killed on the 8th of December 1980.

31 artists recorded tracks for a very special One World radio show that will be broadcast on Monday the 5th of December on BBC Radio 1, the show will go out at 1:00 am and will be available online for seven days after it's been broadcast. You can gets all the info hereThe programme is presented by Chris Thomas who engineered the White Album.

You can check out three new MP3 session tracks by Vashti Bunyan via the FatCat Audio player. The three tracks are 'Hidden', 'Lately' and 'Brother', and are home-recorded acoustic versions featuring Vashti on vocals and guitar and Max Richter on piano and additional instrumentation. These are sparser versions of the album tracks and were recorded live for use as radio session tracks. we think they sound great, but don't take our word for it - go and check for yourselves.

*Finally news about one of my favorite bands / releases of 2005!!! From the Sonic Unyon site :


Sonic Unyon is pleased to announce we have secured the rights to release Aereogramme's album Seclusion for North America set for release on March 21st 2006. Along with six brand new tracks - Seclusion also sees the band realize their love for films with the addition of a feature film that is played twice on the CD with two separate musical scores.

Music is a reflection of people's lives - and the deep emotions of joy and despair that run through Aereogramme's music illustrate the levels of intensity that these four Scotsmen experience in their existence.

*Bright Eyes literally keeping it real for the kids on Pancake Mountain. If I liked kids or Connor I would think this was the coolest thing ever.