Monday, December 29, 2008

January 2009 in Washington DC

An asterix indicates that this show/event is HIGHLY recommended.

Black Cat

Jan 17th Andy O's Birthday Bash, Back Before Dawn, Gist, Left of Avalon
Jan 20th Nappy Roots
*Jan 24th Black and White Jacksons with Ra Ra Rasputin, Four Fins Of The Rocket,Loose Lips

930 Club
*Jan 1st WU-TANG CLAN featuring Raekwon • Ghostface Killah • Inspectah Deck • RZA • GZA and Masta Killa w/ Cappadonna, DJ Mathematics

Velvet Lounge
Jan 15th Skeletonbreath (mem. of O'Death/Rad Racket), Whistlin Charlie, Bama (of Family Hemerlein), Armida & Her Imaginary Band, Andrew Bucket

*Jan 16th Velodrome Dance Party. Italo Disco, No Wave, Post-Punk featuring DJs Ed Porter and Scott Bauer. Special guest performance by Exactly

Jan 31st Beatnik Flies, Sister Ex, Dollar Bin

Rock and Roll Hotel
Jan 16th Middle Distance Runner with Mobius Band, The Black Hollies and The Nunchucks.

Jan 24th Via Audio w/ Modern Skirts

Solly's Tavern
*Jan 23rd Mittenfields with the Carribean.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Forgotten Greats of Liverpool, England: The Teardrop Explodes

In the spring of 1977, Julian Cope formed Crucial Three along with Ian McCulloch (later of Echo and the Bunnymen) and Pete Wylie (Wah!). The group rehearsed regularly, but they never actually got around to performing live.
Around 1978, the Teardrop Explodes came into existence. The initial lineup of the group included Cope on bass, drummer Gary Dwyer, Dave Simpson on keyboards and Mick Finkler on guitar. Simpson would soon be replaced by Zoo Records founder Dave Balfe, and Finkler was exchanged for Alan Gill.

The Teardrops quickly became popular because of their ability to fuse post-punk and disco rhythms with swirling pyschadelia. And like Echo and the Bunnymen, the influence of the Doors is quite noticeable. But what really set the band apart was their employment of a horn section. Like fellow Scoucers the Pale Fountains, they were huge admirers of Love’s use of Herb Alpert-style trumpets on 1967’s “Forever Changes.” This wild combination of sounds and styles was successfully blended into their debut album, “Kilimanjaro” which was released in 1980. (Interestingly enough, “Kilimanjaro” features a wild version of a song called “Books,” a joint composition with Ian McCulloch. This song is also featured on Echo and the Bunnymen’s first album, “Crocodiles.” Download both and decide which one you like better).

"Reward" (A single that was added to reissue versions of Kilimanjaro):

"Sleeping Gas" (Very rare video featuring live footage and shots of the band on tour in the USA. Embedding disabled by the fine people at Universal Music Group. Ugh....)

"Ha Ha, I’m Drowning" (Live on UK TV):

"Treason (It’s Just A Story)":

The group’s second album, “Wilder,” is a bit of a grower. While it does contain some of the horn driven bombast of “Kilimanjaro,” it also features more quiet and introspective songs and even a few synth driven numbers. It was a strong second album, but it failed to recapture the spark that made their debut so exciting. The hooks are not as strong and “Wilder” ultimately bewildered much of the group’s audience. Behind the scenes, the group was falling apart. In addition to several lineup shuffles, creative tensions were at an all time high. When the group reconvened to record a third album, Balfe and Cope argued incessantly about the direction of the group. Despite recording nearly an album’s worth of material, the sessions were abruptly terminated and the band was dissolved. These songs were eventually released as “Everyone Wants to Shag the Teardrop Explodes.”

"Seven Views of Jerusalem"(Live on the Old Grey Whistle Test):

"The Culture Bunker" (Live on the Old Grey Whistle Test):

Julian Cope soon went on to have a successful career as a musician and as a writer on music, the occult and ancient British history. Dave Balfe went on to start Food records, which was the home of Blur for most of the 1990s. Other members of the group would also continue make music well into the 80s. Despite a series of reissues and compilations, the Teardrops have yet to receive the kinds of accolades that Echo and the Bunnymen have received.

It should also be noted that there is a long standing feud between Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch. While they were friends and bandmates in the late 70s, their relationship soon became one of acrimony. In fact, the feud continues to this very day. In a recent Spin Magazine cover retrospective on Echo and the Bunnymen, McCulloch stated “There’s a certain group and a certain person I don’t want to talk about. He’s a thief and I always hated his group anyway. I thought they were rubbish. The initials of the group are T.E.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bands to Watch in 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart:
New York band puts a new twist on the buzzy British guitar pop of the 80s. This is the video for “Everything With You.” Kinda reminds me of the Wedding Present’s “You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends.” Speaking of the Weddoes, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart will be opening for them in the UK. They’ll be playing at the Black Cat in February.

Like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, I first read about Zarif in the Guardian. It seems as though the UK is chock full of soulful young ladies. Think of her as a less abraisive version of Lily Allen (And that’s not a knock on Lily. I adored her first album and had the pleasure of seeing her perform before she got freaked out by the boredom of touring).

Ida Maria:
I kept seeing Ida Maria's name pop up in Brooklyn Vegan and on other blogs. Apparently she's a very hit or miss performer. When she's on, she's intense and commands your attention. When she's off, apparently she's a bit of a trainwreck. If she manages to hit Washington DC in the near future, I'll make sure to be there so that I can make a proper assessment. Until then, this video for "Oh My God" will have to do.

The Spiritual Machine:
A DC trio who really seem to enjoy throwing darts at the concept of hipsterdom. They successfully manage to mix the braggadocio of funk with the buzzing guitars and heady lyrics of the Fall. They're a fantastic live act and they will crash your after party and totally drink all your drinks.

The Spiritual Machine - The Scene/That Wasn't Me from Jason Mogavero on Vimeo.

And as a bonus:

The Spiritual Machine, Ra Ra Rasputin and Friends - Crosseyed and Painless (live at DC9) from Jason Mogavero on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gallows Destroy Pub. Punk Rawk Idiocy Is Alive and Well.

Gallows, a hardcore punk band from Watford, Hertfordshire, have been getting quite a bit of attention in NME for a recent gig at a pub London’s Old Blue Pub. Singer Frank Carter was instrumental in leading the crowd to tear the place apart, destroying several chandeliers and a few antique chairs. Having been out of the hardcore/punk loop for many years now, I was a little bit surprised to see such wanton acts of old-school violence getting so much attention from NME.

For a number of reasons, violence has always been tied to the punk rock myth. In the UK during the mid to late 70s, punks rioted and spit to express their frustration with a faltering economy and a broken society. In the United States, much of the violence could be attributed to suburban boredom, as many of the influential hardcore groups came from the suburbs of Washington DC, New York and LA. While I do enjoy going to shows and seeing people dance, and maybe shake each other a bit. But seriously, I am bored by punk violence. There is nothing entertaining about seeing someone getting punched in the face while they’re trying to enjoy a show.

Furthermore, violence at shows is pointless because it can lead to the closure of venues. Thanks to Gallows, it may be possible that no other band may be allowed to play at the Old Blue Pub. That’s fine for them, considering that they’ve got a million dollar deal with Warner Brothers. But for all the little bands that may not have a million places to play this is another hurdle. I remember hearing about VFW halls in New York and New Jersey that refused to have punk or hardcore shows after kids did stupid things like shitting in a cup and leaving it for some old vet to find. It’s sabotage, and it’s stupid.

Gallows' "Staring at the Rude Bois (Ft. Lethal Bizzle)"

BONUS: Footage from the infamous North London Poly Riot, where fans destroyed an entire Student Hall during a performance by the Jesus & Mary Chain.

Monday, November 24, 2008


*Indicates a DON'T MISS THIS event.

*Mon Dec 1- Mittenfields, Teedo, Loose LIps $8 Backstage 9:00

Fri Dec 5- Sorted Dance Night: Britpop, Soul, Indie Pop w/ DJ Stereo Faith $6 Backstage 9:30

Sat Dec 13- Mousetrap: DC's Biggest Britpop Dance Night $10 Mainstage 9:30

*Sun Dec 21- ROCK'N'SHOP: A Rock'n'Roll Garage. free Mainstage 8:00


930 CLUB:
Mon Dec. 1-Vampire Weekend w/ The Teenagers
7pm Doors.Sold Out

Tues Dec. 2-Vampire Weekend w/ The Teenagers
7pm Doors. Sold Out

Fri Dec. 5-Nada Surf w/ Delta Spirit & The Jealous Girlfriends
8pm Doors. $20.00

Mon Dec.8-Ray Davies w/ Locksley
7pm Doors. $40.00

Sat Dec 13-Ghostland Observatory w/ Dmerit -DJ Set
7pm Doors., $20.00

7pm Doors .$25

*Sat Dec 20 - CSS
7pm Doors. $20.00

Sat Dec 6-KIDS Dance Party (Meistro of Dirty Bombs/Top ranking, Lil El, and Jackie O)

*Wed Dec 10-Ra Ra Rasputin w/the Spiritual Machine, Fffever and Exactly.

Velvet Lounge:

Tue Dec 9-PWRFL People, Kitty Hawk, Pree (of Le Loup), Hume
Doors 9pm/Show 9:30pm/$8/18+!

Sat Dec 27 -A.C.
Doors 9pm/Show 10pm/18+

Friday, November 14, 2008


I was bored at home the other night when I stumbled upon the Smoking Gun’s list of celebrity riders .(A rider is a contract that specifies a list of what amenities should be provided for the performer). The demands that some artists make on the staff at venues range from typical, easy to find comforts (booze, sandwiches, adult magazines) to the maddeningly trivial (special aged cheese, no leather). Some were simple (Guns N Roses, Eric Clapton) and others were very complex (50 Cent, Kiss, Paul McCartney).
As I glanced over these lists, I realized that there is no way I'd ever make it as an event coordinator. I'd probably just crumple up these lists and toss them in the garbage.

Complaints aside, here are some of the more amusing ones (Click to view the full document):

One container dried mangoes, one container of dried blueberries, aged cheese. What the hell? Eight (8) Ferro Rocher Gold Balls. Heaven forbid you provided MIA with six or seven.

48 Cold Strong Continental Lagers (Becks or equivalent, Not Stella, Not US Beers). Ugh, snobs

8 packs of sugar-free gum; 20 lint free clean backstage towels; 40 lint free backstage towels.

50 Cent
50’s rider demands that you not only provide dinner, but breakfast and lunch as well. And while his demands for Cuban cigars are somewhat reasonable, it’s actually against the law to obtain them.

U2 (1992 ZOO TV Tour)
Sadly, the entire rider is not posted. Thankfully someone was able to get a copy of the most important page: ALCOHOL REQUIREMENTS. Good to know that Bono and co. still know how to bro down after a show.

I understand that a good number of the demands for food and drink are somewhat reasonable. Just like how every employee of X office deserves health-care, sick days and the occasional promotion, a touring musician should be allowed certain comforts to make them feel at home when he/she is on the road.
However, I do believe that most riders tend to be incredibly wasteful. There’s no doubt in my mind that a sizeable percentage of the food, drinks and supplies that are provided backstage are thrown away. And while I wholeheartedly understand the need for towels after shows, why on earth do the Killers need forty towels? If your band has 4 people, that’s 10 towels per person. Who the fuck sweats so much that he needs 10 towels to dry off?

And as pointed out in the Sonic Youth biography "Goodbye 20th Century," expansive tour riders take money out of the artist's tour earnings. Despite the fact that Sonic Youth were on Geffen Records for a little more than a decade, they rarely asked for more than some light food and drink, maybe a bottle of hard alcohol here or there. In the end, the band continues to turn a profit while on tour, and even managed to finance their own studio. Then again, Sonic Youth and many other bands I admire come from the punk rock school of thought.
But it's something to think about. All that food and drink is coming out of your pocket! Spend wisely.

For the Smoking Gun's full list of backstage riders, click HERE

Tuesday, October 28, 2008



Black Cat:
Tue Nov 4- DEERHUNTER, TIMES NEW VIKING, KNYFE HYTS $13 Adv/ $15 DOS Mainstage 8:00

Wed Nov 12- DIPLO, NO AGE, ABE VIGODA, BOY 8 BIT, TELEPATHE $15 Mainstage 7:30

Tue Nov 18- LITTLE JOY (featuring Rodrigo Amarante of Los Hermanos, Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes, and Binki Shapiro), THE DEAD TREES $10 Backstage 9:00

Sat Nov 8- THE SEA AND CAKE, DEATH VESSEL $15 Mainstage 9:00

9:30 Club:
SUN. NOV. 2 Hercules and Love Affair w/ The Dance Party 10pm

MON. NOV. 24 Sondre Lerche w/ Sylvie Lewis 6pm Doors.

WED. NOV. 26 The Still High Tour • METHOD MAN and REDMAN w/ Termanology & Big Pooh
7pm Doors.

SUN. NOV. 30 Q-TIP w/ The Cool Kids & Pacific Division 7pm Doors.

FRI. Nov. 7 Velodrome Dance Party (Italo Disco, HI NRG, etc)
DJ sets by Scott B. and Ed Porter.

SAT. Nov 01 Murs, w/ Kidz in the Hall, Big Pooh of Little Brother, and Isaiah

SAT. Nov. 15 The Dance Party w/Ra Ra Rasputin, Greenland, and the Nunchucks
(and upstairs on that very same night)
Garutachi Indie Dance Night! with DJ Ca$$idy and Austin.
21+ | 930PM-230AM

Monday, October 27, 2008

Scottish post-punk legends Orange Juice to REUNITE

What an incredible piece of news I've just received (courtesy of Jason M. of the Spiritual Machine). According to Idolator Orange Juice will be reuniting when they are honored by Nordoff-Robbins, a music therapy organization. Edwyn Collins, the group's frontman suffered a debilitating stroke several years ago, and later contracted a serious infection while in hospital. While his road to recovery has been a difficult one, he has never given up hope. Furthermore, in recent years, the his work with Orange Juice has gained recognition from a new generation of post-punkers. Fellow Glaswegians Franz Ferdinand, for example, have repeatedly praised the work of Orange Juice.

Now the real question is, which version of Orange Juice will be performing with Edwyn? Will it be the scrappy Postcard era version of the group? Or will it be the awkward, yet more confidently funky Polydor lineup? Maybe both? I have no idea. I know this sounds a bit absurd, but I do believe that it would be worth the money to fly to the UK to witness this evening.

So please enjoy these clips from YouTube. We love you Edwyn!

"Poor Old Soul" and "Rip It Up"

"I Can't Help Myself"

"Dying Day"

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Smiths to reunite for Coachella 2009 ???

The Pixies
The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Smiths

These are among the messiest and most painful breakups in pop music. Frank Black dissolved the Pixies and informed his bandmates by fax. The Jesus and Mary Chain notoriously split on stage at a House of Blues show in 1998. But the Smiths, probably had the most difficult breakup of all. Johnny Marr left the group before their final album was released. And in the 1990s, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce, band’s rhythm section sued Marr and singer Morrissey claiming that they’d been jilted out of songwriting royalties.

In the last five years, however, we’ve seen the reunions of both the Pixies and the Jesus and Mary Chain. We’ve also been lucky enough to see Gang of Four, My Bloody Valentine and Mission of Burma return to the stage. So you can imagine that I was not that surprised when I checked out NME this morning to see a story about a possible Smiths reunion for Coachella 2009. Apparently “the buzz around the people who used to work for the band is they could play Coachella for a ludicrous amount of money.” Now, rumors of a Smiths reunion are nothing new. But given the current musical climate, maybe we need the Smiths to come back and remind us why they were so great in the first place. And it seems as though someone may've come up with enough cash to get them to forget about the fact that there was a showdown in a British courtroom a decade ago.

Now I saw Morrissey back in 2005, and he was pretty good. His voice was strong and he was very impressive as a performer. And yes, I sang along when he played songs from his old group. Nonetheless, those songs sounded incomplete without Marr’s jangling guitars, or Rourke and Joyce’s solid bass and drums. I they reunited, I know it wouldn’t be the same. But the Smiths broke up when I was 5 years old. They're all still very strong performers. I'd be a fool to miss a chance to see them live. And who cares about the money. If it means that they can live a little more comfortably, then great.

I have suffered horrible conditions and long waits for only a few bands (ahem, Radiohead). After all the Smiths have done for me, spending three days in the California deserts would be nothing.

“Bigmouth Strikes Again”
(From the Old Grey Whistle Test, 1986
Featuring Craig Gannon on rhythm guitar).

The story has just been refuted by Johnny Marr's management.
Click here for the whole story. Sigh

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kanye West Rips off Tears for Fears

About a week ago, Stereogum posted a new track by Kanye West called “The Coldest Winter.” The song is built around “Memories Fade” by Tears for Fears. Now, we’ve always known that Kanye has been down with sampling stuff that’s a little more adventurous than what we’re used to in hip-hop (e.g. CAN, Paul McCartney and Wings, obscure 70s prog rock). But it seems as though Kanye has basically nicked the entire song! Hell, he effectively rewrites the chorus with his own lyrics à la Diddy.

Tears for Fears “Memories Fade” (Live on German TV)

Kanye West “The Coldest Winter” (Ripped from the radio, so apologies for the less than stellar sound quality).

I think that one commentator on Stereogum hit the nail on the head:

After heartless and love lockdown i listened to this and was like "awesome" and got some faith restored in him, especially the awesome "goodbye my friend." then i clicked on that tears for fears link and was like "nevermind" because tears for fears wrote that great hook. this isnt like rapping over a sample, this is just like covering a really good obscure song and taking the credit for it. good thing that tears for fears link was there.

I do believe that Mr. West is finally starting to run out of steam. In my opinion, the quality of his lyrics has been sliding down hill since Graduation. The man is no longer as funny and audactious as he used to be. Production wise, he’s still very much on point, but ultimately the thing that drew a lot of us to Kanye was the lyrics. He rapped about hard times, being broke and hustling for better things. Certainly the man has been going through some very difficult times due to the loss of his mother. But this song doesn't sound very inspired and it sounds more like a demo than a track on an album that's due out by Christmas.

And what's with the heavy use of autotune/vocoder ? You have all the time and money in the world, Kanye? Why not take a year off and learn how to sing?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

VIDEO MAGIC: Hey Paulette "I Really Do Love Penelope"

Earlier this year, I had a lot of sleepless nights. The combination of a hectic social life and incredibly depressing job left me unable to lay back and close my eyes. On many nights, I used to watch videos on YouTube, in hopes that I would find something that would take my mind off the stress.

One night I decided to search for “C86.” For those of you who are unaware, C86 was a mixtape compiled by NME as a celebration of all the clangy, jangly guitar groups that had arrived in the wake of the Smiths. While many people complained that C86 was essentially a codification of indie clichés, the songs are not without their charm. Anyway, I digress. One of the groups that turned up on the video search was Hey Paulette, a quartet from Dublin, Ireland. “I Really Do Love Penelope,” is a tribute to a girl who couldn’t care less about the narrator. The lyrics are undeniably influenced by Orange Juice, yet musically they are a bit closer to the Smiths.

I’m not sure why I became so taken with this song. Perhaps because of my celebrity crush on Penelope Cruz. Or maybe it was because of Derrick Dalton’s melodic guitar playing. Either way, it felt really cool to hear something that instantly spoke to me. For a very long period, I was listening to albums that required repeated listens to get into. It was a relief to hear something so fresh. Even though the record is 20years old….

Click HERE for a nice little FAQ on the group

Hey Paulette’s complete discography is available on the compilation album “Long Ball Into Nowhere.” Believe it or not, you can actually download this on I-tunes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October Recommendations for Washington DC

Miraculously, I didn’t lose my hearing at last week’s My Bloody Valentine concert. If you’re interested in reading my review of the show, you can go here:

So, without further ado....

Black Cat:
Oct 11th: The Wedding Present
Oct 12th: Ra Ra Riot

930 Club:
Oct 11th: Wire
Oct 13th: Yelle
Oct 22nd: A Place to Bury Strangers

Rock and Roll Hotel:
Oct 3: Glasvegas (assuming that these guys don't have anymore visa problems...)
Oct 9: Laura Burhenn (ex-Georgie James) with Lode Runner, The Spiritual Machine (formerly known as KOKO), Olivia & the Housemates.
Oct 18: US Royalty, with Fever.

Velvet Lounge:
Oct 25th: Lode Runner, with Mr. Moccasin and Ringo Deathstarr

Oct 19th: The Little Ones
Oct 27th: Grammar (these guys are not headlining, but they are awesome).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Colonel K + Dell'ante Present: "Kiss Kiss Kiss to Make My Heart Shake"

This week's entry was co-written with my "smooth-brother" alter-ego, Dell'ante. I must admit, I hesitated to write this article for a long time. Every time I tried to write a draft, it came off like something you'd read in Maxim. Hopefully this version isn't too laddish.

What is make-out music? And why is it that when it comes to spending a little quiet time with that special someone, the first albums that come to mind are releases by Al Green or Maxwell? Now, I think these artists (as well as everyone mentioned in Kanye West's "Slow Jams") make wonderful, terrific music. But it's hard to believe that hot-buttered soul is the only appropriate music for a night in.
I'd be a fool to argue that there are certain albums that’ll make a night go perfectly. I will say, however, that the strong arrangements and unique production values of the albums listed below can definitely enhance the mood of your evening.
In other words: If your game is tight, putting these records on only enhances your cool.

Air "Moon Safari"
(Virgin 1998)

2 French producers
Analog & Vintage Synths
Singer Beth Hirsch
INSTANT CHILLOUT CLASSIC. What more do you need?

Take the opening track, "La Femme D'argent." This song is so perfectly arranged for coupling, that if you wait until the piano break around 4 minute mark, you'll be overcome by the desire to cease conversation and proceed to suck face.

My Bloody Valentine "Ecstasy and Wine"
(Lazy Records 1989)

Having disposed of their original singer, Dave Conway, My Bloody Valentine moved away from fuzz pop and towards their trademark ethereal drones. "Ecstasy and Wine" combines two EPs that were released during the run up to 1988's landmark "Isn't Anything." While the album is lo-fi, Kevin Shields and company were dropping hints that they were onto something otherworldy. Conway's C86 era yelps are replaced with Belinda Butcher's beautiful blissed out vocals. The guitars are still loud, but they're not as jarring as they were on earlier releases. And like much of their later work, the songs from “Ecstasy and Wine” sound great at a low volume, but are breathtaking when played really loud.

This compilation, along with several other pre-Creation EPs, has been out of print for sometime. Emphasize this when discussing My Bloody Valentine. Make it apparent that you'll go a long way to get something you really want.

Antena "Camino Del Sol"
(Les Disques Du Crepuscule 1982.
Reissued and expanded by Numero Group, 2004)

Originally released as a mini LP in 1982, "Camino del Sol" was one of the more interesting curios to come out French "Cold Wave" scene. Though the group was short-lived, their unique blend of chanson, Brazilian rhythms and lo-fi electro was years ahead of its time. Tortoise sampled the drum loop from "To Climb the Cliff" on one of their early singles. And some of the tracks on this album would fit comfortably in Stereolab's vast back catalog (given Isabella Antena's tendency to sing in both English and French).

Reviewer's jargon aside, the reissue of Camino Del Sol could ideally serve as background music to a dinner and stiff drinks night. Isabella's voice is playful, yet undeniably seductive. Even more alluring is how fantastic samba rhythms sound when played on synths and drum machines. One would never think that such frigid instruments could accommodate the soul and bounce of Brazilian music.

If you decide to put on this lost classic, don't be surprised if you're overcome by the urge to samba with your parter. And we all know that dancing close usually leads to other things…

Stereolab "Transient Random-Noisebursts With Announcements" (Duophonic/UK and Elektra/US, 1993)
Stereolab is the sort of group you get into when you have a little bit more time and money to explore surrealism, Dadaism and other philosophical reactions to the horrors of modern life. Stereolab's highly referential approach to music may leave some folks cold. But I don't think that Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier ever intended to make music for people with a passing appreciation for good music.

"Transient Random-Noisebursts With Announcements" is a compelling soundtrack for those nights when you wanna chill with someone on the intellectual tip. You could spend hours discussing Stereolab's love of Neu!, The Velvet Underground and European easy listening music. Thankfully, this album isn't so brainy that it's unlistenable. This album is bustling with attractive and inviting sounds. Take the bustling Farfisa organ on "I'm Going Out of My Way" or commanding sound of a picked Fender bass on "Golden Ball."

Potential mood killing moment on this album: The sudden burst of out-of-phase noise on the 18-minute opus, "Jenny Ondioline."

Cocteau Twins "Treasure"
(4AD, 1984)

Elizabeth Fraser's strongest point as a singer is her ability to make nonsensical sounds and syllables sound positively beautiful. Singing in a mixture of English, Gaelic and gibberish, Fraser's vocals are often unintelligible, but they are a fine compliment to Robin Guthrie's heavily chorused guitars and Simon Raymonde's crawling bass. I once tried to track down printed versions of her lyrics, but soon realized that there was no point. Even if I did learn the words, I would never be able to sing them like she does. Come to think of it, have you ever heard anyone cover a Cocteau Twins song?

While I've come to appreciate their earlier albums and EPs, I'll always have a special place in my heart for "Treasure." I feel like everything went downhill for the Cocteaus after this release. Granted they did release a few good EPs and a really nice collaboration with Harold Budd. But the later albums were nowhere nearly as strong, especially after they left 4AD.

The songs on this album are either quiet and laced with hushed vocals and washed-out guitars OR rely heavily on pounding drum machines and quasi-yodeling from Liz (see "Persephone"). Make your moves accordingly.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Pale Fountains "…From Across the Kitchen Table" (1985)

The Paley's first release, "Pacific Street," received critical acclaim upon its initial release. But despite their best efforts (and a healthy financial push from their label, Virgin), the album stalled in the UK album charts and none of the singles charted.

"…From Across the Kitchen Table", band’s second and final effort for Virgin is a rather difficult album to dissect. For starters, it shares very little in common with its predecessor. Andy Diagram's trumpet, which had been prominent on "Pacific Street", is only featured on a handful of cuts. And further more, there's a lot less orchestral work on this album. So while the group doesn’t sound as “cabaret” (a tag which the group regularly dismissed) they ultimately they don’t sound as distinct as they once did. In a sea of synthpop, post-punk, and hip-hop, the Paleys were proudly gauche.

Production wise, however, "From Across the Kitchen Table" is a much stronger than the group's early singles and debut album. Fellow Liverpudlian Ian Broudie is responsible for adding some much needed "oomph" in the band's sound. The guitars are lot more wiry and erratic, giving several tracks, such as "Stole the Love" and "Jean's Not Happening" a more confident "rock" dynamic. The drums are much more prominent in the mix and sound a lot punchier." The result is an album that sounds strong and confident, even when the lyrics are unfocused and the sequencing is questionable.(Broudie also managed to reign in Echo & The Bunnymen's inconsistencies on 1983's "Porcupines").

"From Across the Kitchen Table" was, at best, a transition album. We're really left to wonder “What this band could've done had they held it together?” Were they on their way to establishing their own eclectic brand of pop music? But thanks to drug abuse, disagreements with the label and a continuing lack of commercial success, the Pale Fountains eventually disbanded. Bassist Chris McCaffery died of a brain aneurysm in 1986 and brothers Mick and John Head went on to form Shack, and at one time were part of Arthur Lee's touring band.

"Jean's Not Happening"

"...From Across the Kitchen Table"

Postscript: In February of 2008, the Pale Fountains reunited for a series of well-received concerts in Liverpool and London.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Colonel K Approved: September Shows

This month in Washington DC:

Black Cat


9:30 Club

w/ Darker My Love & The Upsidedown

TUE. SEP. 23 BUILT TO SPILL performing Perfect From Now On
w/ Meat Puppets & The Drones

w/Ra Ra Rasputin (ahem, cough cough) and KOKO.


Um, the best band in Texas is coming back to DC!!!!
Sep 5 Comet Ping Pong Washington DC
Sep 6 WMUC @ University of Maryland w/ The Flying Eyes Baltimore, Maryland

Friday, August 29, 2008

GREAT MOMENTS IN PARTY MUSIC: The Avalanches "Since I Left You" (Australia 2000, US/UK 2001)

I begin to yawn when I hear people discuss Girl Talk's "Feed the Animals." It is, at best, a spotty and patchwork affair that fails to show any glimmer of imagination. (It should be noted that every time this album comes up in conversation, someone has to rave about how it's being marketed. Further proof that the economic boom of the 1990s unleashed a virulent strain of gung-ho capitalism that has managed to infect the hip set).

The most tragic aspect of "Feed the Animals" is that it’s a very crappy mashup album masquerading as a triumphant piece of postmodernism. The beatmatching is so-so, and there is no element of surprise or inventive recontextualization of sound. It’s nothing more than a bunch of annoying pop songs from past and present thrown together in one long blah mix. The result is an erratic and sometimes frustrating listen. I highly doubt that anyone will be listening to “Feed the Animals” two years from now. This album will probably be looked upon with less favor than the old 'Stars on 45' and 'Hit Parade' compilations.

By this point it should be painfully evident that I’m someone who begs for complexity and innovation in his party music. In my opinion, to use a sample well is to breath new life into a piece of dialogue or a guitar lick. The Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique" and De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising" gave us a glimpse of how powerful sampling could be. But thanks to a series of lawsuits in the late 1980s, it's prohibitively expensive to make records that rely heavily on found sounds. Since then, artists have been forced to find increasingly clever ways to release sample-heavy material. This is done by being signed to a smaller label and doing limited pressings) OR by utilizing such a mind bogglingly array of sounds that it would be nearly impossible for a listener to dismantle the record. Two records that have successfully managed to do this: DJ Shadow's landmark "Endtroducing" and RJD2's "Dead Ringer". But neither of these albums would count as party music as they’re both rather cerebral, and a bit depressing at times.
The Avalanches "Since I Left You" is definitively a party album. But it also has enough depth that you can spend hours trying to figure out what sample came from where. The samples range from the obvious (Madonna's "Holiday") to the obscure (the keyboard solo from the end of John Cale's "Ghost Story"). Where “Endtroducing” and “Dead Ringer” come off as grey, and slightly drab, “Since I Left You” is unabashedly Technicolor. If there are any moody moments on this album, they are fleeting. When I spent a semester in Nice, France, this album was on regular rotation at my friends Angie’s apartment. I seem to remember spending a lot of time on her couch drinking kalimotxos (red wine and Coke) and raving about whatever girl I was crushing on at the time.

“Two Hearts in ¾ Time”

“Flight Tonight”

Unfortunately, this Australian DJ collective has been pretty quiet for the last seven years. While they've made a handful of live appearances, the group has shown little evidence that they're working on anything new. There’ve been rumors about a full length follow up to "Since I Left You," since 2006. However, no new tracks have surfaced, which is rather disenheartning. Why would a group with so much talent allow second-class acts like Girl Talk to emerge?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Sold Our Souls for Rock & Roll. And We Like It.

*Wilco in a VW commercial.
*TV on the Radio as dramatic background music at the end of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
*The Shins as the centerpiece of an awful movie by Zack Braff. (There, I said it-I hated Garden State)
*Sonic Youth's approval of a celebrity compiled “Best Of,” to be sold exclusively at Starbucks.

Given the current state of the economy it could be argued that most musicians no longer have the option of turning down a paycheck for the sake of their ethics. For those of you who don’t bother to open a newspaper every now and again, the global economy is in shambles. Inflation is rising, wages have stagnated, and numerous industries are failing rapidly. And this directly affects how musicians are making decisions on allowing their music to be used in movies, television advertising and video games.
Moreover, due to a number of factors (less disposable income, online downloading, poor marketing), CD sales continue to decline. People are no longer buying music in the same quantities or in the same mediums as they used to. As a result, many artists have had to make some difficult decisions. The licensing of a song to a commercial may or may not generate album sales, but those residual checks are guaranteed.

Part 1: The Ethics of Selling Out. Why Punk Rock No Longer Applies to Generation Y.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Internationally known: Mel-1 and PK The Mixtape Maniacs"

Who we?


We’re both are O.G. New Yorkers by birth (Him-Harlem World, Her-Shaolin)
We both possess MA’s from overpriced private universities.
We both know what goes down in la banlieue
We are both are the oldest of four children.
We know all about the CRS and the Guardia Civil.

It’s pretty apparent that Mel-1 and myself live parallel lives. When we found out that we had both delivered very important mix tapes to people within one month of each other, we were like “Oh, word?” So in celebration of our efforts, we’ve decided to dissect and discuss each other’s mixes in a joint blog entry. Run on over to Melissa's blog, Public Witness Program, to read her thoughts on my mix., without further ado, an analysis of "Use With Caution" (May 2008)

Name of Mix: “Use with Caution”
Author: Melissa B. Friedman aka Mel-1
Nature of Origin: “Trying to impress someone. Cool, I know...”
Length: “56 minutes and some odd seconds if I remember correctly”
Most difficult challenge during compilation:
“It was hard for me to decide on the general mood I wanted to convey. I also had some difficulty in deciding the order of the last few songs. I felt like the mix CD turned into Lost in Translation Part II thus I tried hard to avoid duplicating an oeuvre that more or less already exists.”

Two favorite tracks:
“Tout n'est pas si facile” -NTM
“Windowlicker (demo)” - Aphex Twin

Full Tracklisting:
1. Machine Gun - Portishead
2. 5:55 (The Black Ghosts Remix) - Charlotte Gainsbourg
3. The Guns of Brixton - The Clash
4. Tout n'est pas si facile - NTM
5. Requiem pour un con - Serge Gainsbourg
6. Sexual Sportswear - Sebastian Tellier
7. Windowlicker (Original Demo) - Aphex Twin
8. Knife - Grizzly Bear
9. Sometimes - My Bloody Valentine
10. Ceremony (New Order cover) - Radiohead
11. After Class - Deer Hunter
12. Just Like Honey - The Jesus & Mary Chain

Colonel K's thoughts:
As long as I’ve known her, Melissa’s always had the most amazing taste in music. From her collection of obnoxious punk 7-inches back in high school (e.g. “John Wayne Was a Nazi” by MDC) to her more recent appreciation of all things French, it’s always been “class” with Mel-1. So when she told me was trying to impress someone, I just shrugged my shoulders and said “Well that shouldn’t be too difficult.” But I quickly realized that it was flippant for me to say that. Apparently the girl was really breaking a sweat over making this mix flow just right. The night before it was due, I received a frantic text that read “Should I put Fugazi on this Mix? I’m being so neurotic about impressing him.”

Having only seen the tracklisting, I can already tell that this compilation is dope. The main reason is the leadoff song, Portishead’s “Machine Gun.” I’d wanted to put this on a mix I made a few weeks ago, but I ended up cutting it because it was too jarring. I also like the fact that the first half of this mix is so menacing. The aforementioned “Machine Gun”, “Guns of Brixton”, and “Requiem Pour Un Con”, all these songs are badass.
The second half, on the other hand, is much more ethereal and kinda sweet. The sorta stuff that you’d want to listen to on a cloudy spring afternoon. And yes, I know that “Sometimes” and “Just Like Honey” were used poignantly in Lost in Translation. But just because a song was used in a Sophia Coppolla movie doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
Oh, word. Bonus points for including the demo version of “Windowlicker” and Radiohead’s cover of “Ceremony”: as much as I enjoy the originals, it shows a lot more depth to use a really good cover OR an alternate version of a well known track.
If I were the guy who received this CD, I’d probably be speechless. I mean, yeah, there are plenty of real chill girls who like good music. But it takes just as much thoughtfulness and talent to take those songs and sequence them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Rain Down, Rain Down": Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion. May 11th 2008

I’d become so accustomed to standing up in mud that every step on a solid surface sent a jarring shock to my ankles and knees.

The previous sentence was not lifted from an account of trench warfare during World War I. This was a description from last night’s Radiohead concert at Nissan Pavilion.

When I looked at the weather forecast, I knew that there was going to be rain. What I didn’t realize was that it was going to be a non-stop torrential downpour. Within minutes of handing in my ticket, I was soaked to the bone. My shoes were waterlogged, my thermal undershirt soggy, and my Lacoste rain jacket useless. When Liars took the stage at approximately 7:30pm, the rain had let up slightly, but a massive chill had come over my body. I was shivering so hard, I had to bite my tongue to keep my teeth from chattering.

When Thom Yorke and company finally took to the stage, I felt a tremendous sigh of relief. Not to say that Liars were no good. (On the contrary, they put up a pretty decent show, given the size of the crowd. Moreover, I loved their pre-show music. I believe it was North African, perhaps downloaded from Awesome Tapes from Africa?). But alas, I digress; I was here to see how Radiohead would pull off their songs live. I’ve been listening to this band since high school, and I’ve welcomed each new sonic direction they’ve taken. Seeing them live, however, has always proved elusive. Either I couldn’t get tickets or I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But listening to countless bootlegs and watching Grant Gee’s Meeting People is Easy, I knew that one day it would be totally worth it. And, if you ignore all the drama I described above, it was. Visually, this was one of the most well thought out shows I’d seen in a very long time. Even from the edge of the lawn, I could see the beautiful details of the hanging lights and video screens. As per the band’s performance. they were tremendous. They cherry picked songs from every album since The Bends and played the fuck out of them. When I concentrated hard enough, I actually forgot that I had lost nearly all feeling in my right foot.

SET LIST (Thanks to Chip from Brightest Young Things)
All I Need
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
15 Step
Pyramid Song
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Faust Arp
Paranoid Android
Everything In Its Right Place
Bangers + Mash

Like Spinning Plates
Karma Police (This is when we left)
Go Slowly
Planet Telex
Fake Plastic Trees
The National Anthem
House of Cards

When I finally got into the car and took off my soaked shirt. I was relieved, sort of. It would be nearly an hour before we left the Nissan parking lot, but at least we had HEAT. My experience certainly doesn’t make me think any less of Radiohead. But I will probably never attend another outdoor, festival style concert again. And my heart goes out to all the people who a) sat in traffic even longer than I did and b) those who didn’t even make it to the show due to washed out roads and horrendous traffic.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Guest List by Colonel K

While I no longer read Pitchfork for the reviews, I still read it every morning to catch up on industry gossip and read the interviews. Since the essay I had planned for this week is not yet ready, I decided to poach some questions from Pitchfork’s “Guest List” and interview, um, myself.


>> Favorite Songs of the Past Year
Kanye West “Flashing Lights”
I lost interest in Mr. West after Late Registration. I dunno, perhaps I grew tired of his incessant bragging and public temper tantrums. But personal criticisms aside, this is one of the standout tracks on Graduation. The video is hot, too.

Portishead “Machine Gun”
I know Portishead were working on “Third” for a really long time, but upon listening to a pre-release copy, I can see why they were under so much pressure. How do you beat “Dummy” and “Portishead”? I know a few people who are pretty disappointed with “Third,” but I think it’s wonderful reinvention of the group's sound. It's still depressing, but I like that they're using much more jarring

Chromatics “Hands in the Dark”
When I first heard “Hands In the Dark” in my friend Scott’s car, I asked what year it was released. To my surprise, he said “2007.” It’s one of the most beautiful and haunting dance songs I’ve heard in a while. It’s perfect for night drives, too.

>> Favorite Older Songs at the Moment
The Gist “Love at First Sight”
Not to be confused with the DC band, Gist. This was Stuart Moxham’s solo project after Young Marble Giants broke up in 1981. It reminds of the grey and dingy RER stations outside of Paris. And the synth line does sorta remind me of that weird deer in headlights look when you first make eye contact with someone you're attracted to.

Blur “You’re So Great” and “Death of a Party”
These songs are back to back on 1997’s “Blur,” and I really like them because they both deal with reexamining your personal and social life, respectively. “You’re So great” is Graham Coxon lamenting his alcoholism while proclaiming his love for an unknown person. “Death of Party” is Damon Albarn shrugging off Britpop as a lame party that no one should’ve attended in the first place.

>> Favorite Song Ever

“Loaded” by Primal Scream.
I think I was at a Britpop dance night when I first heard this over a full PA system.
It always reminds me of really amazing nights out.

“Red Sleeping Beauty” by McCarthy
First time I heard this song was sophomore year of college. I was so blown away by the intro, that I asked my friend to play it 2 more times.

>> Best Recent Concert
Ghostland Observatory at the 9:30 Club.
This show was so over the top, that I had no excuse to not enjoy myself. Strobe lights, smoke machines, lasers. The works.

>> Favorite New Band
Ringo Deathstarr. Ra Ra Rasputin opened for them back in February, and I was really impressed on two counts. First, their equipment and guitar tones. Second, the songs were all really good.
I tend to be dismissive of most shoegaze revival groups, but these guys had “it.” I ended up changing my listening habits because of them. I started listening to My Bloody Valentine and Ride again; something I hadn’t done in about a year and a half.

>> Last Great Film I Saw
Control by Anton Corbijn. Every shot in that movie is flawless. He did a fine job making the transition from music videos to the big screen.

>> Last Great Book I Read
The last book I really enjoyed was “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” The story was so moving, and the descriptions were so vivid. It’s incredible that the author was able to transmit all that information simply by blinking one eye. Then again he had no other choice. I’ve also been working my way through George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia.”

>> Favorite Piece of Musical Equipment
My Rickenbacker 360. I’d wanted a Ric for years, and during the summer after Freshman year of College, I got a job that paid really, really well. I found one for a reasonable price, and it’s been my main guitar ever since.

>> Favorite Record Shop

There are actually a lot of really good record stores in Washington DC, and they’re all located within walking distance of one another. But the one I spend the most time in is Red Onion Records & Books. I got two records that I never thought I’d see: David Bowie “Heroes/Heroes/Helden” 12” (with French, English and German versions of his 1977 classic) and the US version of Teardrop Explodes “Kilimanjaro.”

>> Best Purchases of the Past Year
1. A pair of Sperry Top Sider Boat shoes
2. A Univox 335 Custom Copy 12-string electric guitar.

The Sperrys are the most comfortable and versatile pair of shoes I own. It’s so great not having to wear socks. The only hang up is that I have to moisturize my feet so that they don’t look ashy.

The 12-string electric was something I picked up simply because it was a very good deal ($300 vs $1200+ for a Rickenbacker 12-string). It's taken some time to really get that "jingle-jangle" sound, but it's worth it.

>> Best Thing I Did This Year
Move myself to the top of my list of my priority list.

>> Favorite Venue
Black Cat. It’s close by and I’ve seen more good shows there than at any other venue I’ve frequented in the last eight years.

>> Favorite TV Show at the Moment
Well, since The Wire ended, I have no reason to watch TV anymore.

>> Favorite Video Game at the Moment

I was never into video games. We never had them when I was younger. I still can’t be bothered to play them.

>> Favorite Radio Show
I don’t listen to the radio anymore. Even though I have an AM/FM receiver, I never use it. It’s a real shame, you know?

>> My Ringtone
Beep once, then vibrate. A phone is just that, a phone.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Colonel's Orders....WEEK of 2/25/08 TWO EVENTS, NO COVER

...because Friday is a long ways away.

Ringo Deathstarr
Ra Ra Rasputin
830 PM
Wonderland. 11th and Kenyon NW
Metro Columbia Heights

Question. How many people have remixed music by my solo project, the Norm and the Shake.
Answer: Two. Come see one of them spin @ St. Ex in DC.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

HEY!!!!! I want my money back: The worst, the most boring, most disappointing shows I’ve ever attended

I curse the fact that I was not allowed to go to big concerts when I was younger. Sure I got to go to a bunch of local shows, but never anything memorable. Hell, I remember when all my friends in junior high went to the No Doubt, Shelter and Unwritten Law show at Rockland Community College. Sure I didn’t like any of those groups (still don’t) but I really felt left out. To make matters worse, by the time I was allowed to start hanging out in Manhattan and Brooklyn, most of the amazing venues, like Coney Island High and Wetlands, were being shut down.

Thankfully, my concert-going habits changed when I arrived at University of Maryland, College Park in fall of 2000. Since then, I’ve kept a detailed list of every show I've attended. And while there were some groups whose performances changed the way I think about music (Q and Not U, Joe Strummer, British Sea Power), there have been quite a few that have left me feeling disappointed.

DISCLAIMER: Please do not take offense to the strong opinions that you will read below. They are merely a reflection of what I was feeling at the time.

December 22nd 2000
Shopping Cart Catastrophes, PF 113,DDF, Lanemeyer and others
American Legion Hall,
Norwood, NJ

My first semester at U-Md proved to be incredibly eye opening. I was brimming with new musical ideas, and I was really looking to move away from the punk and hardcore that had come to define my last year and a half of high school.
But attending this show at the Norwood Legion Hall felt like a huge step backwards.
Shopping Cart Catastrophes started out as a fun, catchy pop-punk band that reminded me of the Descendents or the Queers. But at this show, they were very self-consciously trying to become a “serious and articulate” emo band. In other words; a Rockland County version of Jets to Brazil. Man, I thought it was dreadful; a total betrayal of everything they stood for. I understood their desire to change their sound, but the lyrics were just sounded trite and they just weren’t the same group anymore.*
PF 113 and Lanemeyer? I wrote them off instantly because of their names. DDF, well those guys were part of the Nyack scene, so I sorta had to give them a chance. And while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the studs and Mohawks, I thought they sounded ok. However, I took issue with the fact that they had a song called “1977.” Come on guys, I don't care how young you were. You just don’t write a song with the same title as one of the best Clash b-sides ever.

*They also fired their tall and quirky guitarist, Kevin. Me and my crew always liked him. He was the joker of the group.
**(NOTE: Allegedly, this legion hall stopped holding shows cuz some punk kid took a shit in a cup and hid it behind the bar. Upon hearing about this, one angry old Vet grumbled something along the lines of “I can’t believe we went to war against the Nazis for the sake of you people.”)

July 6th 2001
Stinkfest 2: Shabutie, Salty Black Flour
The Fire House
West Nyack, NY

Shabutie, now known as Coheed and Cambria, were considered to be one the best bands in Rockland County. And I fucking hated them with a passion. I loathed everything about them: Claudio’s ridiculous falsetto, the band’s self-indulgent muso tendencies. I could go on for days. But most of all, I despised the fact that their sound was becoming so influential. It was around this time that the Nyack scene was becoming obsessed with their style of playing and singing. In my opinion, it set everybody back a couple of years. Moreover, people who booked shows would only hire bands that sounded or looked like them, effectively leaving everyone else out in the wilderness. It was at this show that I realized that it was going to be an uphill battle to try and get any sort of scene love for my group, Scam. I suppose I was just jealous...

March 29th 2002
Fanshen, Insults, Youth Crüe, Project Mayhem (NJ),Black November
Rutgers Univ. @ Livingston Campus Quad 1 Dorms Main Lounge
Piscataway, NJ

On this particularly warm March evening, I decided to take a trip with my good friend (and sometimes bandmate) Kevin Rankin. At the time he was in a group called Project Mayhem and we were both curious to see whether the New Jersey band with the same name was any good.
Turns up they weren’t. In fact, every band on the bill played a rather tuneless variety of hardcore. I seem to recall a group that featured two linebacker-sized lead "singers" who made it a point to show off their meathead tendencies by slamming into each other during their entire set.This was easily one of the most pointless shows I’ve ever attended: All aggression and no talent. In retrospect, we probably should've spent the evening at a diner somewhere.

April 23rd 2004
Blonde Redhead, with Secret Machines
Black Cat, Washington DC

This was the show where I realized that I was no longer liked Blonde Redhead. From the winter of 2001 to spring 2004, I was crazy about them. Man, I used to spend hours digging up information about their equipment and trying to figure out what sort of tunings they used.
Now here’s a lesson for all you live music fans: try to avoid concerts that are scheduled towards the end of a band’s tour, for most musicians are physically and emotionally drained by the time their final dates roll around. I learned that the hard way at this show. (April 23rd was the last date on Blonde Redhead's lengthy US tour).
I had really liked "Misery Is a Butterfly" (their first record for 4AD) but hearing it played live didn’t sit well with me. Kazu, Amadeo and Simon looked bored and detached when performing. As a result, the new material suffered. Where was the sexy and exotic aggression from "La Via Vita Violenta" and "Fake Can Be Just As Good"? Since then, I haven't bothered to see them play live or buy any of their records.
In retrospect, this experience reminds me of the time I had a crush on this girl. Then I found out that she was fucking around with this dude in a band I hated, and I was over her. And to make things even more awkward, I had to work with that dude for an entire summer. Homeboy told me some wild stories.

July 15th 2004
The Unicorns, Erase Errata, Moving Units, Weird War, Les Georges Leningrad, Blood on The Wall.
Some warehouse, Williamsburg, Brooklyn NYC

During the summer after graduation, I was living at my parents’ house and working a crappy data-entry job in order to save money for my upcoming trip to France. A lot of my spare time was spent working on music with friends, going to lame parties and getting into all sorts of funny shit (e.g. The Jewish Deli incident at NYU Alumni hall).
My friend Jerry and I heard about the show through MySpace and made it a point to attend for three reasons: hipster girls, "free Red Stripe (till it runs out)" and the Unicorns. We left the 'burbs at a reasonable hour, flew down I-87, transferred to I-278, found a tight parking space and bee-lined it to the warehouse only to find a line going around the fucking block. And while it was 730 PM, it was still 90 degrees outside.
When we got inside nearly an hour and a half later, we found that all the free beer was gone. After duly purchasing a few cans of Brooklyn Lager, we made our way to the stage, where Moving Units were struggling to keep the audience interested. The acoustics in the cavernous main room were terrible, and the band knew it. Every instrument sounded like mush. To make matters worse, the Unicorns wouldn’t be on till at least 2:00 AM.
We attempted to make good of the situation by hanging out in an adjacent room where a DJ was spinning garage and post-punk. We made some idle chatter with a couple of girls I knew, drank a few more beers, and finally decided that the whole shindig was not worth our time. We went home in the middle of Weird War's set.

October 27th 2005
Swollen Members, opening up for Ghostface Killah
Baltimore, MD

(From Wikipedia)
Swollen Members is a Canadian hip-hop group hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, consisting principally of the duo Mad Child and Prevail. They have been called "two of the most innovative people in hip-hop".


You see, Swollen Members are loosely affiliated with the Red Dragons skate/snowboard crew from Vancouver Canada. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Red Dragons gained notoriety in the Skate and Snowboard world during the 1990s for their hard drinking, hard partying ways, much of which was documented in the Whiskey video series. But history aside, Swollen Members is responsible for some of the most unimaginative and unbelievably awful music ever put to tape. Oh, and they have ZERO street cred.
These guys didn’t last more than twenty minutes***. We were booing and hissing throughout their entire set. Some of the harder dudes in the crowd decided to toss around their skater-brah fans. It’s probably a good thing that Swollen Members didn’t try to stay on longer than they did, otherwise a riot would’ve broken out.

***And according to my people in New York, Swollen Members barely made it through two songs before being booed offstage at Hammerstein Ballroom.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

In Defense of the Nano: Why Less is more with Apple’s I-Pod

The problem with modern society is that we’re constantly being pressured into buying bigger and better versions of things we already own. But upon closer inspection we often find that we’re being duped into purchasing an inferior or unnecessary product.
Nowhere is this trend more evident than with the ubiquitous little box that has changed, for better or for worse, the way that we listen to music: The I-Pod.


The Saga Begins:
My first I-Pod was a 4th generation model with a 40 gig hard drive. Initially, I was thrilled to have portable access to such a large amount of music. But the technical flaws soon came to outweigh the benefits. Every now and again, the thing would just stop working or inexplicably refuse to connect to my laptop. And over time, I began to realize that I had more music than I could ever hope to fit on it.
Eventually, my I-Pod died at the end. Thankfully I was able to replace it without paying a cent because the warranty didn't expire for another two weeks. But four months later, the replacement inexplicably died as well. And to make matters worse, this was a few days before I went on vacation !!! I shook my head and cursed myself as I hiked out to the Apple Store in Bethesda, MD do the inevitable to purchase a brand new 30 gig.
(Ed. Note Unsurprisingly, the 30 joint started showing signs of early retirement this past December. It was then that I decided to start doing some research)

On the Technical Tip:

In case you didn’t already know, the larger I-Pods (20GB+) are nothing more than portable hard drives with a little view screen and a click wheel. If you listen carefully, you can hear them whirring, and huffing and puffing; making the same noises that your computer might make when it’s unhappy. And while a larger hard drive means that you can carry more music with you, it also has its drawbacks. As the folks at MacIntouch.Com pointed out:

“Carrying around a device powered by a delicate spinning drive does seem like a recipe for disaster”.

That's right ! Hard drives are sensitive to pretty much everything. Heat, cold, sweat, water, soda, you name it; your hard drive will probably hate being exposed to it. And while the folks at Apple designed this world class mp3 player with the active user in mind, the average I-Pod owner probably forgets that they’re dealing with a piece of sensitive electronic equipment.

Thankfully, Apple has offered more durable alternatives for several years. The Shuffles (1GB) and Nanos (1,2,4,and 8GBs) are both based on flash technology.Because flash drives do not contain any moving parts, and are therefore less sensitive to being jostled because there is no lag or whirring,they are much better suited for the average (and abusive) Joe or Jane.
In other words, I propose that we, as music fans, sacrifice our desire for “bigger, better, faster, more,” and settle for smaller models.
Oh, of course, some people will argue:
“ Well what if you wanna listen to a specific song and you don’t have it on your small mp3 player. Wouldn’t you find that to be a bit annoying?”
My response?
“No, not really. Besides, there are plenty of times when I wanna hear a song and don’t have it readily available. I’m used to that.It's not the end of the world, you know?”
Moreover, I believe that having a smaller mp3 player is more beneficial to both the casual listener and obsessive fan. The casual listener (read: most people who buy mp3 players) isn’t really that obsessive about how their music, and probably doesn’t need to have everything on hand. The serious music fan, on the other hand, probably has too much music (in various formats) to fit on one handy device.
Besides, having a smaller I-Pod ultimately means that you have to constantly cycle through your music. And in my opinion, this allows you to get better acquainted with your collection. I mean, come on. There's nothing more irritating than meeting people who boast about having 150 GBs worth of music and are unable to discuss any of it with any sense of depth or feeling because they have no attachment to it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Colonel K Approved: Lode Runner & Fever

A quick glance at the event listings for this first weekend in February could easily make your head spin. But worry not; I've picked out one show that will actually be worth your time.

This Friday night @ Velvet Lounge in DC, Lode Runner and Fever will be playing a pre-game set. That's right, by the time they're done playing, you'll be buzzed enough to make moves to the next concert, party or whatever else is in your day planner.Plus, yours truly will be there taking photos and hangin' out.

Doors are at 9pm
Lode Runner (Giorgio Moroder influenced post-punk)
Fever (Straight up gorgeous pop)

Don't front:

Velvet Lounge

915 U St NW (Metro; U-Street Cardozo)
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 462-3213

Monday, January 21, 2008

Great Moments of Racial Harmony in Pop Music

You know, it's a bit funny: music is supposed to be the great equalizer among people, and yet TODAY, it's rare to see a group with black and white members. Come to think of it, you don't see blacks playing instruments in mainstream rock groups. Maybe in indie groups (TV on the Radio, Bloc Party, Black Kids, etc.) but never anything that would be played on MTV or BET. What happened? Why don't young black kids have guitar heroes anymore? Where are today's Ernie Isleys, Jimi Hendrixes and Nile Rodgers??????

I suppose that's another essay for another week...

So, as a tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr I have compiled a list of five groups who forgot about race and decided to make beautiful music together.

I’ve always found it rather unfortunate that the Doors became the superstars of Elektra records during the 1960s, and not these guys. But it seems as though Arthur Lee and company were thoroughly uninterested in fame outside of LA. In fact, the group rarely left the Sunset Strip. And thanks to constant infighting and drug use, the group would splinter, leaving Lee as the only original member.
In spite of the drama, Love was one of the best psychedelic groups to emerge during the mid 60s. Their masterpiece, 1967's Forever Changes,was dark mix of jangle-pop, proto-punk and mariachi music (really). While the album failed receive much press in the US, it was well received in the UK, where it would serve as strong influence on the so-called "quiet-pop" movement of the 1980s (See my essay on the Pale Fountains).

Sly & The Family Stone
Black and white
Men and women.
Side by side.
One nation under a groove.
The first song I ever heard by Sly and the Family stone was “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” It was featured in the closing credits of a skateboard video, Second Hand Smoke by Plan B skateboards. I thought it was amazing…until I heard it on vinyl. And Vive la difference!!! The funky bassline, the sneaky rhythm guitar (which was nicked by Janet Jackson for “Rhythm Nation”), and THOSE horns.
It’s difficult to write about Sly and the Family Stone without launching into hyperbole. So much of what they did was unprecedented and just so damn SOULFUL AND FUNKY. But because their albums were out of print for so long, a lot of people began to forget how powerful they really were. Thankfully, the folks at Epic/Legacy reissued all seven of the group’s albums (you only need the first five) in 2007.

The Specials
Starting in the 1950s, large numbers of Caribbean immigrants came to cities like England to work in the factories. As a result, a large number of white kids from the Midlands were exposed to ska and reggae through their black friends.
The Specials, some of whom were children of these factory workers, were among the first to successfully combine island grooves with the DIY spirit of 1977. Lyrically, the group was in a different class. With songs like "Gangsters", "Working for the Rat Race" and the landmark single "Ghost Town", the group effortlessly described the ennui and frustration of life in Thatcher's Britain.

Talking Heads (live 1980-1985)

With albums such as Fear of Music, Remain in Light and Speaking In Tongues, Talking Heads fused African polyrhythms, gurgling synthesizers and sharp, angular guitar playing. They were, without a doubt, one of the funkiest groups (black or white) of the early 80s. In order to faithfully reproduce these albums on stage, the Heads recruited a wildly diverse eight-piece band. Among the members of the “Expanded” lineup were Parliament keyboardist, Bernie Worrell, bassist Buster “Cherry” Jones (who briefly played with Gang of Four), vocalist Nona Hendryx and Kentucky guitar wizard Adrian Belew. The result was nothing short of fantastic. Many of these people, particularly Bernie Worrell would continue to work with the band, both live and in the studio, until their breakup at the end of the 80s.

NOTE: While I do love Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense, I think it's a lot more fun to look for clips of the group's jaunt through Europe. Especially the 1980 performance in Rome that was recorded for Italian television.
Highly Recommended Listing: The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads

3RD Bass
Vanilla Ice may’ve sold more records, but 3rd Bass had the street cred and the style that the Iceman could only dream of. This New York based trio was unique in that they had not one, but two capable white MCs. And even more importantly, they were embraced by the New York hip-hop community, which at the time was in its imperial phase. If you watch the video posted below, you’ll notice cameos by Zev Lov X of KMD (later MF DOOM), a pre-VH1 Flavor Flav, and numerous other heavy hitters.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Don’t you Forget about: Simple Minds

This is a new series for my blog. In addition to my usual essays, I’ll be posting YouTube videos by bands that I believe deserve a second chance.

THIS WEEK'S VIDEO: Simple Minds “I Travel”
It’s rather unfortunate that Simple Minds are only remembered for their cover of “Don’t You Forget About Me” and their shameless arena rock grandstanding during the mid to late 1980s. When they started, Simple Minds was one of the most intriguing and challenging groups around. Their first five albums, recorded between 1978 and 1982, boasted the influence of American New Wave, Giorgio Moroder, avant-garde jazz and punk. Yet their music never came off as contrived or frigid. There was always a believable emotional edge to their songs.

The song “I Travel” was the first single from Empires And Dance (1980). Vocalist Jim Kerr wrote the politically charged number after noticing the stark differences between East and West Berlin. While Kerr would later regret his “unmoved” vocal performance on the album version, he certainly makes up for it in concert. I stumbled upon this German TV performance a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to stop watching it since.

More Information on “I Travel”