Tuesday, May 30, 2006

He keeps the noise out

ALELA DIANE "My Tired Feet"

Today I lunched at Valentine's with Alela Diane, a twenty-three-year-old singer/ songwriter from Nevada City, CA who's been in Portland for about seven months now. Alela's going to be featured on the next YETI CD. I've only heard her disc once through thus far, and not seen her live yet. But clearly she's a talented vocalist, perhaps in the vein of Foster or Spektor or the Casady's or Holland, and maybe even Dalton...

Got turned on to her music thanks to writer/ man about town Matt Wright, who'll soon be doing PR for the release of her disc The Pirate's Gospel on the new and naturally rather electronic-oriented Holocene label (I say naturally, as that's more or less what the club itself caters to). Their interest in Alela (pronounced Uh-lee-luh -- am guessing her parents were hippies or something?) is testament to Scott from Holocene's great taste. I am psyched the label's not going to get too tangled up with one sound (and please, can no one else ever say "importland" or "pornland" again? thanks).

If you ask Alela nicely, maybe she will sell you one of the lovely, very hand-made editions of her second album before everything gets mass-produced and she's on the soundtrack to the new Wes Anderson flick and graces the cover of Arthur and the Wire simultaneously (that is, unless those pubs've already forsaken "folk")??? It's worth a try.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Don't want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde

DESMOND DEKKER "Israelites" (Tv show lip sync): YouTube
...And here he is lip sync-ing to the Stiff Records re-recording some years later: YouTube
...And here he's playing it live on Jolls Holland's show more recently: YouTube

I was just listening to this song earlier today, working on a piece about the influence of the Bible in general and gospel more specifically on Jamaican music, when I was forwarded a note saying that Dekker had passed away. He was only 64, and a great fucking singer.

More on gospel and Jamaican music later; if anyone knows where this has been explored elsewhere, please let me know. Ohhh and speaking of Jamaican religious tunes I think I'll break out this one when I DJ the Delta Cafe on Saturday, as well as a few Dekker tunes of course... and maybe "Wings of a Dove" by Prince Buster? We'll see.

Everyone started placing bets

EGOPLEX "Simplexity"

Ummm, if whomever sent me this demo CD of tunes by "Egoplex" would please contact me, that would rule. I'm seriously considering this track for the YETI 4 CD (which is looking to be THE! BEST! ONE! THUS! FAR!) but I can't figure out how it got to me and Internet searches for a site or something by this artist have been fruitless thus far. Organized, rational type people must have such easy lives...

Read my first Daniel Woodrell book the other day; he's definitely fun. Super excited to finally read the new David Mitchell this coming week. After that I start to work in earnest on my next book, the YETI Guide to Gospel Blues thing. Expect to see little bits of it here first. Aiming to do it in 4-5 months, and am going to attempt to channel Julian Cope's superb (especially for the time) Krautrocksampler in an oblique/ formatty way. (Jeez, look at the insane prices that thing is going for today! Someone needs to reprint that thing...)

Really glad I have the season closer from Lost saved on my Comcast tivo thingie; that'll come in handy some upcoming Wednesday to assuage my withdrawal a little bit. "I don't know what is more disquieting; the fact that the rest of the statue is missing, or that it has four toes."

I am DJ'ing the bar area of the Delta this Saturday. Expect eclectic, fun jamz to make the fried catfish go down even more easily. No bones.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

You couldn't believe me if I tried

NOTE: The following are all YouTube links, just to shake things up a tad.

HUSKER DU, "I Apologize," "If I Told You," "Folklore" (live in London ca. '85)
LES ROCKETS, "On the Road Again" (live on TV)
SHOP ASSISTANTS, "I Don't Want to Be Friends with You" video
JOHN & JAMES WHITNEY, "Lapis" film
ROSETTA THARPE, "Down by the Riverside" (live on TV)
NORMAN McLAREN, "Dots" film
X-CLAN, "Funkin' Lesson" video
JUNE BRIDES, "In the Rain" video
BRUCE CONNER, "Valse Triste" film
LES RALLIZES DENUDES, short TV documentary clip
JACK SMITH, "Scotch Tape" film
REPLACEMENTS "Careless" (live in Mpls., '81)
TELEX, "Moskow Diskow" video
POP GROUP, "She's Beyond" video
NAM JUNE PAIK, "Videotape Study #3" film
ODB (live at the Grammys)
EDIE SEDGWICK, lost footage from "Ciao Manhattan" with commentary
FRED McDOWELL, "Down to the River" (live on TV)
FUGS, "Crystal Liaison" (live on TV)
BROADCAST, "Papercuts" video
WS BURROUGHS, "Towers Open Fire" film
VILLAGE PEOPLE "Sex Over the Phone" video
ED EMSHILLER, "Sunstone" film
WANDA JACKSON, "Rock Your Baby" (live on TV)
SWELL MAPS, "Midget Submarines" video
HAWKWIND, "Silver Machine" (live)
WERNER HERZOG, "Measures Against Fanatics" film
Some East German COMMERCIALS from the '60s
NEGATIVLAND, "Gimme the Mermaid"
NERVOUS GENDER (live in LA in '83)
RAM JAM, "Black Betty" video
FEELIES, "Crazy Rhythm" live footage
STANDELLS, on the 'Munsters'
POPOL VUH (live on TV)
NAM JUNE PAIK, "Electronic Moon #2" film
SON HOUSE, "Death Letter Blues" (live on TV)
DEAD C, "Sky" (live on TV)
WU TANG CLAN, live interview on TV
CHICAGO, "If You Leave Me Now" (live on TV)
Why Richard Hell didn't last too long in TELEVISION
KEVIN AYERS & JOHN CALE, "Howlin Man" (live on TV)
FLIPPER, "Way of the World" (live footage)
THIS HEAT, playing live and stuff
ELO "Turn to Stone" video

Word hit the blog-o-street this week that Kevin Shields and Sofia Coppola have teamed back up, for the soundtrack to her new (romantic) movie. I'm the last person in the world to begrudge a man his hack-work (being a total hack myself). And as work goes, I'd much rather Mr. Shields do remixes or record other bands than play sound effects guitar in a sometimes great but often shoddy retro-rock band. In an ideal world, Shields would be able to live entirely free of commercial pressures and restraints, but I doubt I'll blow your mind when I say this might not be an ideal world.

I definitely wonder how the fuck people could seriously be that psyched to hear the dude's two remixes of Bow Wow Wow? Yes, he is an utter genius, somtimes, but it's really come to this? Let's face it, Sofia Coppola is a pretty dreadful filmmaker. Like most folks my age (and younger), I enjoyed Lost In Translation while I watched it. But afterwards, it kept coming back up, like bad cafeteria food. And then the xenophobia and the fake-artfilm moodiness of it all just bummed me out, a lot. These criticisms have of course been mademuch more succinctly elsewhere, and Lord help me before I fashion myself a movie critic. Though, those folks actually get sent on junkets you might want to go on (not to mention getting loads of promo-schwag people might actually want to buy later)... Hmmm.

While procrastinating last night, I googled myself (wait, is this like confessing to jerking off? well I never...) and found that not only did people like my EMP ELO paper, they really liked it! I guess I should publish it somewhere... Hmmm. Who has a magazine that prints pretty much anything, regardless of "release dates" and which publicists might be working it? Damn, can't think of a single place. I saw also that some people were discussing the Loveless book on the main MBV fan site's forum thingie, and I found it interesting that one person wonders how many times I use the word "shoegazer" in the text. You ready for the answer? Once. Really. I threw quotes around it to show my "disdain," too. Hah.

I used to rather dislike that term, shoegazer, though it is fairly evocative and descriptive. And it's one of many myspace genres you can slot your band's music into... Back in the late '80s/ early '90s, the two little rock writer genre words that used to really twist my goat were "indie rock" and "lo-fi": the first one because it surmised that a means for distributing music could somehow be flat-out descriptive of all of it, and the latter for even more reductively assuming the same for the way that certain kinds of music might appear to be recorded. These terms seemed almost totally arbitrary, and to paraphrase Dubuffet, about as useful as saying there was a kind of music made by dyspeptics, or people with knee problems.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Man who lived and suffered

SWAN SILVERTONES "Love Lifted Me (live)"

Build me a time machine and send me back to see these guys at their peak. Pretty please. Cherry on top!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I want to marry your daughter

JOSEPH SPENCE "Good Morning, Mister Walker"
PSYCHIC ILLS "January Rain"

As mentioned before, there's a chance I'll get an unreleased Spence track via Elijah Wald into Yeti #4, the release date for which has slipped to August 15, by the way, since releasing anything in June or July is really dumb (so much for being "quarterly," this year at least.) Once you stop laughing at/ with this Bahamian, there's so much else to captivate the listener, I think -- he plays music like he invented the stuff himself, and there's a lot going on that's really on here, I promise -- pay attention to what he's doing rhythmically, for instance. Ooops, did I just sound like a friggin school teacher? Lo siento. Next up we have a song off the album Dins, on the oft-great label Social Registry, by Psychic Ills. I don't know anything about them.

No real theme connecting these things today. Am in a bad mood right now, for no reason aside from a protracted and mangled exeperience with a corporation who want me to do much more than send an invoice to them before getting paid. Not a fan. I think I need to "make a meeting," and toot sweet, if I may speak in the parlance of my secret society for a second. Later.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Angels In Heaven Done Wrote My Name

FLIPPER "The Lights, The Sound, The Rhythm, The Noise"
BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON "Let Your Light Shine on Me"
BOXCAR WILLIE "I Saw the Light"

Not to be confused with the Sensational Six of Arkansas, of course, the Sensational Six from Alabama let loose a slightly mocking take on this song more affiliated with Southern gospel. It's taken from Let Us Talk About Jesus, a super fascinating compilation assembled by Kevin Nutt (a premium from WFMU's 2005 pledge drive) that explores the influence of country on black gospel. The Flipper tune is from Blow'N'Chunks, one of the four or five best live albums of ever. Then we have yet another B.W. Johnson tune and finally we end with an authentically caucasoid take on the song we started out with. I was going to post a lot of other "light" and "electric" songs but this is all the server space I have right now.

Record high temperatures were reached here in Portland today and yesterday. Across North America, last month was the warmest April since records were first kept some ninety years ago. So, being one of the freckled and fair, I am to the best of my ability avoiding the sunlight altogether, though I do enjoy the stuff and of course it is a rare commodity here in the Pacific Northwest. Too many people I know have melonomas, I guess, and I just prefer to take my little exercise walks in the early evening rather than high noon.

But, that's not the reason that today's loose theme is (electric, well, angelic, mostly) light. When in Seattle for the EMP (where, yes, the subject was Electric Light Orchestra, but this coincidence is purely nominal and surface-like), I swathed myself in that consumer-happy glow you get while you're on vacation. Among other things I picked up the new issue of Cabinet. Now, I always buy that thing -- it is probably my favorite magazine and not at all expensive for what it is. I guess I shouldn't just spend every cent I have as soon as I get it, whether I'm on vacation or not. By the time I'm forty I need to learn if not how to save then how to spend, no? (Forty is sooooooon, by the way.)

The (excellent) piece by Wolfgang Schivelbusch in Cabinet (new issue's themed electricity: very excellent) looks like it might be an excerpt from Schivelbusch's new book, Three New Deals : Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939, which I am offically stoked about. I first got into this cultural historian 'cause his 1992 book Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants seemed such an obvious companion piece to Piero Camporesi's own social food history woorks like The Bread of Dreams, the tome I've mentioned on here at least once before that posits thanks to a magical combination of hunger, poor diet when food could be had, and hallucinogenic herbs or spoiled grains like ergot, every person in the Middle Ages was essentially tripping their balls off, especially the poor. Schivelbusch's Paradise book shows (among other things) the history of spices and intoxicants that first came into use after the discovery of the New World. I just instantly dug the way he writes, since it's so clear and smart and free of the kind of Jungian leaps Camporesi's prone to (though the two of them are totally apples and oranges).

Since I never even finished undergraduate studies, I appreciate smartypantses who you don't have to have read twenty other books or get teached at for years in order to "get," and yet who also aren't watering their ideas down too much either. I guess it helps that Wolfgang is (or was) a freelance writer rather than a professor somewhere? Schivelbusch's 1988 book Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century, which I got into next, is among my summer re-reading plans. I post these songs in honor of that great little book. In case you care, I also aim to re-read Emmet Grogan's self-mythologizing autobio. Ringolevio, a sporadically brilliant large book written by the founder of the SF Diggers. I also aim to actually read the far larger still Man Without Qualities, instead of just getting a few pages through it and giving up. Do wish me luck. Or laugh at my folly. Or both. And stay away from the sun!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Memory wastes

GO-BETWEENS "Cattle & Cane"

Bought this 1983 single on a whim around when it was released. Back then, so many purchases were made along the lines of "I think I've heard of this, and it's on a label that's cool, plus it's only a single," and that remains one of the most perfect singles I've ever gotten, really. As you very likely know by now, Australian singer-songwriter Grant W McLennan from the Go-Betweens passed away on Saturday in his sleep. You can see the video for this and some other Go-Betweens tunes on this YouTube index page here.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

With her face to the living room floor

WE/OR/ME "Aimless Day"

Had a week filled with predominantly and wonderfully aimless days, which I very much needed after weeks of working as close to non-stop as I could, capped by watching Elaine May's 1976 film Mikey & Nicky tonight. You ever see that flick? It's just come out on DVD -- Cassavetes, Falk, Beatty. A really nice little gangster paranoir, sweetly Fr. New Wave-ish, wow.

This song by the Chicago-based We/Or/Me is not gonna be on the next YETI CD, but space-willing, something by them/ him will be. It's sweet, isn't it?

PS: Looks like in general the next YETI will be more weighted toward freakouts, drones and archival material than this sort of folk-dude sing-song. I love the good folksy stuff I just don't want to be pigeonholed, you know? Plus there's tons of awesome kinds of music that hasn't been featured on the YETI discs yet -- like gospel, for instance...

PPS: Looks like I'm gonna be helping to put together a really fun three-day festival of music/ film/ art/ etc. at the awesome Hollywood Theatre in Portland, OR over Labor Day weekend -- that Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- with Blackbird Booking. Working name is HALLELUWAH: A Festival of Enthused Arts (OK, Mostly Music). There will be three theatres with stuff happening in them pretty much all the time; the headliner looks to be Vashti Bunyan, who'll be in the area to perform at Bumbershoot in Seattle that weekend.

It could all fall apart of course, but I don't think so. I have a pretty great feeling about this thing, actually -- especially because Chantelle from Blackbird is so experienced and we both seem to have very similar ideas for the thing. At least partially it's gonna be a benefit, we think. More on it later.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm afraid the shining sun might burn and scorch his beauty

STEELEYE SPAN "The Blacksmith"

Of the two versions that Steeleye Span recorded of this traditional British Isles tune, this sparse and weird take is my favorite by far. It's probably most easily found on that Early Years CD, though the entire original LP it's on, Please to See the King, is a delight throughout. It's very unfunky, but that doesn't mean it's not great.

No, I didn't forget about this place, this blog, and thanks a ton to those who wrote inquiring what the fuck. I just had to leave it be for awhile, as I worked on the new YETI (looking great by the way), and yeah, it pretty much took me as long to finish my book on Loveless as it did for the band to record it. And no, I didn't get nearly as much money as they did for the actual thing!

As you've undoubtedly heard, the EMP Pop Conference was most excellent this year despite the lack of too many academic and/ or international peeps; my presentation on ELO went over far better than I thought it would. "Papers" by Drew Daniel, Peter Doyle, Douglas Wolk and RJ Smith were among the highlights, though I missed half of the conference for various reasons (mostly, last-minute writing my paper)...

Seattle's loss is L.A.'s gain, but I do hope that Eric and Ann can keep the conference going, and if possible at the EMP (assuming it doesn't next get turned into a food court after the "sci fi museum" fails to lift lagging attendance). Xgau is totally right in saying it's the best thing to have happened to music criticism in years (together with this here Internet, I'd add, if I may be a Master of the Obvious--which I may.)

I am thinking of starting a monthly review 'zine along the lines of the lamented Sound Collector Audio Review: newsprint, cheap (like, $2-$3, or free?), mostly music-based but also books and other stuff, long form essay-friendly, with an aim to pay people pretty well though to start out that may not be possible. Kind of YETI meets Bookforum, I guess. Several people I brought it up to last weekend seemed interested, which is encouraging.

At the conference, the writer Elijah Wald, whose Dave Van Ronk book is kind of awesome --and who just MIGHT be able to hook me up with an unreleased Jospeh Spence track for the next YETI CD!!!-- had really good points about the next book I'm writing, a YETI guidebook for what I've always just called "gospel blues," which will also encompass what's traditionally been called "sanctified blues." He cautioned that in the gospel community that term, "blues," is def. frowned upon, and countered with the idea of calling it something like "outsider gospel" and broadening it to include shout trombone bands, sacred steel music and the like. Now, Luther Magby fits in better perhaps with a term aside from "blues," as it's not that bluesy, and yeah I love trombone gospel bands and the sacred steel stuff as well as its roots in Wille Eason and the like. But I personally have issues with the way the term "outsider art" has travelled so far from when the great critic Roger Cardinal first coined it in the late '60s/ early '70s, as an English language approximation for Dubuffet's "art brut." And I spent a lot of time in the late '80s/ early '90s arguing with Randall Morris (in my very brief tenure as US editor for Raw Vision) as to whether a thing such as "outsider music" exists -- this being of course before Irwin Chusid decided that yes indeed, it does.

Sooooo, my point here is: what to call this amazing stuff? Raw, bluesy, gospel; gospel songs recorded by blues musicians; Blind Willie Johnson; Sister Ola Ma Terrel; Rev. Charlie Jackson; Fahey's American Primitive V. 1 comp; Wash Phillipps--what is it, if not gospel blues? Should I not worry about possibly offending the gospel community? Is there an audience for this stuff outside of folks who are not at all offended by the word "blues" anyway, who're more likely to shie away from "gospel" -- are those the people it would be trying to reach??? Would love feedback on this, even/ esp. if you have no fucking clue what you're talking about (it's never stopped me before).