Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Kickback (Chicago's Answer to The Walkman) are Recording Daytrotter Session in Advance of Full-Length CD / March Residency at Schubas in Chicago

"We recorded this after our fans helped us win a Deli reader's poll and got us some free studio time. The song was originally supposed to be a take on the song "Route 66" for a Red Bull tour diary, but they didn't seem to be down with our turning it into a six-minute ramblethon and not really using the words, and we can't really blame them. But they still suck. Thanks for making this yours." -- from The Kickback's Bandcamp page

The Kickback (Chicago's Answer to The Walkman) are Recording Daytrotter Session in Advance of Full-Length CD / March Residency at Schubas in ChicagoJim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "If your only exposure to the Kickback is via its recordings, including a dynamic, well-recorded, exquisitely arranged and very dramatic new disc called the 'Great Self Love' EP currently streaming on its Myspace page, you might think that guitarist-vocalist Billy Yost and his drummer brother Danny have escaped the usual sibling drama. But since the group, which is completed by guitarist Tyler Zee and bassist Zachariah Verdoorn, immigrated here from South Dakota last summer, the stories have begun to spread about its explosive live performances, with the members cheerfully owning up to the occasional broken chairs and bloody knuckles."

The Kickback made their SXSW debut last year but this year the band is playing a March residency starting March 5th at Schubas in Chicago. In a recent interview with Glide Magazine, the band was asked about the upcoming residency and said "Every show will be a little bit different, and the last show we’re going to perform our forthcoming LP in its entirety with a Craigslist Orchestra featuring a group of fantastic people who were willing to come and record brass and sax for our LP for nothing more than the joy of doing it. But each night will be something different, and that’s what’s most important to us. "

The Kickback

Dinosaur Jr. - "Bug Live at 9:30 Club: In the Hands of the Fans" DVD Review (MVD Video)

Dinosaur Jr. - 'Bug Live at 9:30 Club: In the Hands of the Fans' DVD Review (MVD Video) Last summer, Dinosaur Jr. went out on a small run of East Coast dates where they played their 1988 album Bug in its entirety. Bug was the band’s second release for SST and was the last disc to include bassist Lou Barlow prior to the band’s 2007 reunion album. Looking back, Lou Barlow reflects that the album that many fans cite as their favorite (and the disc is listed as one of the “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” was actually anti-climatic for the band. Barlow said. “In our own minds…we had already peaked, we had already become as popular as we’d ever wanted to be. The fight was over. The first two records represented getting the band over on people and not getting banned from clubs, all those torturous tours, that time was over.” In keeping with the band’s indie-rock aesthetic, Bug was reissued as a limited-edition, hand-numbered cassette last summer through Joyful Noise Recordings.

"Bug Live at 9:30 Club: In the Hands of the Fans" captures the band playing live at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC on June 25, 2011. The band has come a long way in the 13 years since Bug’s original release as they were playing small and mid-sized clubs at the time (Dinosaur Jr. played The Ritz on this tour) but this time out, the band played Terminal 5 (3,000 capacity). This DVD is the second in the “In the Hands of the Fans” series and the video was shot by six contest winners under the direction of Dave Markey (who filmed Dinosaur Jr. back in 1991 for "The Year Punk Broke").

The concert portion of the disc runs just over an hour and the band plays Bug from start to finish along with “Sludgefest” and “Raisans” from You’re Living All Over Me. As to be expected, there is the bare minimum of dialogue with the audience aside for some brief ‘thank yous’ from Lou. The longest bit of dialogue is when Lou explains that he blew out his voice early in the tour and he brings a fan from Arkansas on stage to sing “Don’t”.

The bonus footage on this DVD more than doubles the overall running time of the disc. This footage includes a live performance of “In a Jar” and “The Wagon” (I believed the band opened with these tracks), an interview with Henry Rollins where he talks about the significance of the “old” 9:30 Club, backstage interview footage where the six contest winners ask the members of Dinosaur Jr. questions, and a live on-stage interview where Henry Rollins interviewed the band prior to their set. The additional live footage is brilliant but the interviews are a mixed bag and the sort of thing you will scan through or skip the second time around. The Rollins interview footage is interesting in that it is amusing to watch Hank’s obvious hero worship compared with J, who looks completely disinterested in the interview and mumbles an occasional answer. The interview footage with the contest winners is a bit more interesting as Lou gives some insightful answers about his influences and whether some of the songs on Sebadoh’s first disc were considered for inclusion of Bug. J, on the other hand, delivers some pricelessly droll responses to seemingly innocent questions.

Track List:
01. Freak Scene
02. No Bones
03. They Always Come
04. Yeah We Know
05. Let It Ride
06. Pond Song
07. Budge
08. The Post
09. Don’t
10. Sludgefeast
11. Raisans

While Lou Barlow said “I do think there are some songs on Bug where I remember we recorded them and it was like ‘No we’re never gonna do that [live], that’s too weird'", the end-to-end live performance of the album sounds great. Dinosaur Jr. can still work up a wall of melodic noise (check out the number of amps on the stage) that lessor bands can only dream of.

Dinosaur Jr.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Black Bird White Sky: Brooklyn Electro-Rock Band Announces March Shows at Bar Matchless and Grand Victory

Black Bird White Sky: Brooklyn Electro-Rock Band Announces March Shows at Bar Matchless and Grand VictoryFormed in 2011 in Brooklyn, Ronnie Shingelo, singer and creator of Black Bird White Sky teamed up with producer/engineer/mixer Nic Hard (The Bravery, Aberdeen City, Church, The Ropes) and co-producer/engineer Jonathan Goldstein. Recorded on an MBox with software at Ronnie’s private home studio and later at Nic’s studio, they worked with what they had, and what results is a beautiful collection of new songs loaded with catchy hooks and in your face lyrics that stick with you long after you hear them.

Black Bird White Sky has two upcoming shows in Brooklyn in March:

March 10th, 8pm at Bar Matchless in Greenpoint
557 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222

March 22nd, 8pm at Grand Victory
245 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Black Bird White Sky

Friday, February 24, 2012

Prima Donna - "Bless This Mess" CD Review (Acetate Records)

Prima Donna - 'Bless This Mess' CD Review (Acetate Records)Prima Donna released their sophomore album Bless This Mess earlier this month on Acetate Records. While the band is often lumped in with bands from the Southern California post-punk scene, Prima Donna blurs the lines between glam-punk and garage rock similar to East Coast bands like The Strokes, D-Generation and Star Spangles.

Prima Donna is a five-piece band from L.A. that got together in 2003 and has toured aggressively with acts that include old-school punks like Glen Matlock & the Philistines, Sham 69, The Undertones and Eddie and the Hot Rods. Prima Donna toured Europe and Asia in 2009-10 with Green Day and, adding to the Green Day connection, Prima Donna guitarist/vocalist Kevin Preston is a member of Foxboro Hot Tubs, which is Green Day’s garage rock side project. Prima Donna was last in town in 2010 for a show at Bowery Electric and the band opened D-Generation’s California shows on their recent reunion tour.

The twelve songs (47 minutes) on Bless This Mess grab the listener’s attention as each song veers in different directions off of the band’s garage/glam punk core so there is none of that post-punk “sameness” which has weighted down discs from other artists. Lyrically, the band’s “mind” is firmly in the gutter with songs about sex ("Feral Children"), tumultuous relationships (“Puta, Te Amo”) and the killing urge (“Sociopath”). Musically, Prima Donna touches on quirky new wave (“Sociopath”), Bowie & the Spiders gutter-glam (“Crimson Lust”) and rich Beatles-style melodies and harmonies (“Maxine” and “Broken”). Adding to the mix, some songs feature predominate sax and organ/keyboards which leads to comparisons to the Heartbreakers or Some Girls era Rolling Stones and Kevin Preston delivers tracks “Feral Children” and “Miss Avenue” with a swagger that would make Johnny Thunders proud.

Prima Donna is currently touring in Europe before heading off to SXSW later this month, which will serve as the kickoff shows for the band's US tour.

Prima Donna U.S. Tour Dates:
Mar 15-16, 2012: Austin, TX @ SXSW
Mar 17, 2012 - Oklahoma City, OK @ The Blue Note
Mar 19, 2012 - Tulsa, OK @ Treehouse
Mar 20, 2012 - Columbia, MO @ The Blue Fugue
Mar 22, 2012 - Kansas City, MO @ Davey's Uptown Rambler's Club
Mar 23, 2012 - Clive, IA @ Bombay Bicycle Club
Mar 24, 2012 - Lombard, IL @ Brauer House
Mar 27, 2012 - Cleveland, OH @ Now That's Class
Mar 28, 2012 - Lansing, MI @ Mac's Bar
Mar 29, 2012 - Indianapolis, IN @ The Melody Inn
Mar 30, 2012 - Rockford, IL @ Kryponite
Mar 31, 2012 - Green Bay, WI @ Crunchy Frog
Apr 01, 2012 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Apr 02, 2012 - Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium (Dempsey's Upstairs)
Apr 06, 2012 - Spokane, WA @ Carr's Corner
Apr 07, 2012 - Bremerton, WA @ Manette Saloon
Apr 09, 2012 - Seattle, WA @ Funhouse
Apr 10, 2012 - Everett, WA @ Tony V's Garage
Apr 12, 2012 - Redding, CA @ Bombay's
Apr 13, 2012 - Stockton, CA @ Blackwater Cafe
Apr 14, 2012 - Oakland, CA @ Uptown
Apr 27, 2012 - Los Angeles, CA @ Redwood Bar

Prima Donna

Thursday, February 23, 2012

George Harrison: The Guitar Collection iPad App Released Today

Bandwidth Publishing, in conjunction with the George Harrison Estate, announces the release of a special iPad app celebrating the guitarist and his historical guitar collection. The Guitar Collection: George Harrison iPad app is available through iTunes today, two days before Harrison’s birthdate.

George Harrison: The Guitar Collection iPad App Released TodayThe app brings George Harrison’s private guitar collection to life through photographs, detailed descriptions, audio, and video footage. For the first time, with the help of unique 360° imaging by photographer Steven Sebring, fans can see the scratches, dings, and worn threads on the guitars as if they were themselves holding the instruments. The app features a number of Harrison’s best known guitars, including the Gretsch G6128 Duo Jet, the Gibson J-160E, the Rickenbacker 360/12, the Fender Stratocaster named ‘Rocky’, the Ramirez Classical, the Fender Rosewood Telecaster, and the Zemaitis Lotus 12-String; additional guitars will be added to the app in the future.

Fans can examine Harrison’s private guitar collection, through personal audio recordings from Harrison himself as he introduces many of the guitars and plays sections of songs.

The history of each guitar is laid out in great detail; including the origin of the guitar, when and how it became part of Harrison’s collection, modifications he made to it and why each was so important in creating his distinctive sound. Songs from his catalogue are organized by the guitars used on each track, which allows the user to appreciate the personalities of each instrument.

The video section of the app contains footage of Ben Harper, Josh Homme, Mike Campbell, and Dhani Harrison each playing and showcasing the guitars and exploring their feel and tone. In addition, Conan O’Brien and Dhani discuss what make these guitars so exceptional. Also in this section, guitar great Gary Moore shares his views on what made George Harrison such a distinctive and influential guitar player.

The app is selling for $9.99 at the Apple AppStore (click on the screen shot at the top).

George Harrison

Reptar Posts "Sebastian" from Forthcoming Full-Length "Body Faucet" / Show at Bowery Ballroom on April 14th

Reptar Posts 'Sebastian' from Forthcoming Full-Length 'Body Faucet' (Out May 1st on Vagrant)Athens, GA band Reptar has announced that their debut full-length album, Body Faucet, will be released on May 1st via Vagrant Records. Produced by Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley, Washed Out), Body Faucet is the follow up to the group’s heralded debut EP "Oblangle Fizz Y’all", which Rolling Stone praised for its “…blend of upbeat rhythms, reggae-infected vocals and psychedelic textures.

When we were recording the album, we tried to strike a balance between giving each song it’s own distinct character and identity and still having the album feel like a cohesive statement,” said the members of Reptar. “It feels like a long journey between a bunch of different parts of the same dream, some of them based in reality, some definitely not based in reality, and some based in space. We tried to keep a physical feel to all of the songs, where each one makes you want to move in a different way, while at the same time trying to create a specific and distinct feeling and atmosphere for each one.

Building on the infectious dance-driven melodies established by the band on "Oblangle Fizz Y’all", Body Faucet finds the band delving deeper into world-music influences to compliment their unique blend of danceable and electro infused pop. As put by Spin Magazine, “Their playful electro-pop channels MGMT’s debut-album psychedelic-yet-ready-for-the-masses sheen, and their rambunctious antics recall the Black Lip’s punk bravado.

Fans can download a new Reptar track “Sebastian” from Body Faucet, on their newly redesigned website at by entering their email address and signing up for the bands mailing list. The band also unleashed a live performance trailer for the album with the song “New House” as the music bed.

In celebration of the release, Reptar kicked off an extensive run of U.S. dates in Nashville, TN at The Basement on February 20th and will wind down on April 14th at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. Tickets for the Bowery Ballroom show are $15 and Reptar is sharing the stage with Quiet Hooves.

The band will return to Austin, TX for South By Southwest from March 15th-March 18th and are scheduled to perform at both “Sennheiser and Paste Present the Stages On Sixth” and “Filter Magazine’s Showdown on Cedar Street” with a complete list of events to be announced in the coming weeks. The band will also support Grouplove on a run of dates in May and June.

Hailing from Athens, GA, Reptar began playing music in late 2008. Since then, the boisterous quartet has gained a reputation for their riotous, must-see live show. Paste Magazine declared, “These Southern-fried electronic Afro-poppers are known for the sticky dance riots of their live shows.” Reptar likes to first and foremost make people dance, and have been likened to The Talking Heads, Animal Collective, Prince, and The Jackson 5.

In addition to the spectacle of their live show, Reptar are also known for their intimate house party performances. In true DIY spirit, the band has played countless shows in cramped living rooms and backyards around the country. Last week after the cops busted up one such Georgia house party, the band and over 600 fans continued the party at a local venue.

Reptar is Graham Ulicy (Vocals, Guitar), Andrew McFarland (Drums), Ryan Engelberger (Bass), and William Kennedy (Synth, Keys)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Residents - "Talking Light: Bimbos" DVD Review (MVD Visual)

The Residents - 'Talking Light: Bimbos' DVD Review (MVD Visual)The Residents - Talking Light: Bimbos DVD is a live concert film from the final night of the band's 2011 "Talking Light" tour. This show was filmed in front of a sold-out crowd at Bimbo’s in San Francisco on April 16, 2011 and runs just under two hours. While the show was filmed in 3D (and there was a limited 3D-DVD edition of this show that was made available to project Kickstarter supporters), the ‘standard’ version is beautifully filmed and captures the live experience of a Residents concert better than I ever would have imagined. There is a lot going on at any given Residents show - between the vocals, the instruments (which are generally off to the side) and any lights/visuals but Talking Light: Bimbos captures and seamlessly blends all of these elements to give you the best seat in the house.

The set for the "Talking Light" tour is Randy’s living room, which is complete with a fireplace, B&W TV showing just fuzz and an old couch. Keyboardist Chuck takes the stage first and turns on the lights in the living room but singer Randy Rose is the focal point of the show and he performs wearing an old man mask, underwear and a bathrobe (and oversized tuxedo shoes). Randy takes on multiple vocal parts (including that of the old woman in “Talking Light”) and dances like a demented aerobics instructor while Chuck & Bob build up a noisy cacophony. Behind Randy are video panels that alternate between dark-toned colors and “space scenes” and videos of creepy characters telling twisted ghost stories; some of these stories ended up on the DVD Randy’s Ghost Stories.

For this tour, The Residents were down to a three-piece - Chuck and Bob are off to the side, wearing matching costumes, blackout goggles and deadlock wigs and stay seated throughout the show. In the opening portion of the show, Randy tells the audience that drummer Carlos went to Mexico to be with his mother but ended the show with the comment “F*ck Carlos, that guy was an assh*le”.

The band played an eclectic mix of songs from Lonely Teenager along with songs from their back catalogue and ended the evening with the encore of the cowboy folk song “Bury Me Not (on the Lone Prairie)” and “Die-Stay-Go” (from 1985’s The Big Bubble). Here is the complete track list:

1. Smelly Tongues (from Meet the Residents)
2. The Sleepwalker (from Lonely Teenager)
3. Talking Light (from Lonely Teenager)
4. Six More Miles (from Stars & Hank Forever)
5. They Are The Meat (from Wormwood)
6. Lizard Lady (from Duck Stab / Buster & Glen)
7. Perchance to Dream (from Chuck’s Ghost Music)
8. Semolina (from Duck Stab / Buster & Glen)
9. My Window (from Animal Lover)
10. Once I Went to Barstow (I don’t have Babyfingers but presume this is “Death in Barstow”)
11. The Unseen Sister (from Lonely Teenager)
12. The Old Woman (from Gingerbread Man)
13. Lilly (I don’t have Freak Show but presume this is “Lillie”)
14. Bury Me Not
15. Die-Stay-Go

The Residents

Hidden Hospitals: Chicago Alt-Rock Band (x-Damiera & x-Kiss Kiss) Release Debut EP / Show at Sullivan Hall on April 13th

Hidden Hospitals: Chicago Alt-Rock Band (x-Damiera & x-Kiss Kiss) Release Debut EP / Show at Sullivan Hall on April 13th Consider their first release, "EP 001", to be a prototype. Written between Chicago, New York, and Nashville, singer David Raymond has taken this collection of songs and carefully crafted the sonic base for this band. “Addition by subtraction” is how producer J. Hall describes the orchestration within "EP 001". “Whenever a new sound is introduced, another must be scaled back to accommodate.” The result is an album rooted in the foundation of soulful rhythm and melody, orchestrated in a disciplined fusion of cohesive sound. Combining orchestral movements with razor sharp edges, while paying their respects to bands such as Jawbox, Thrice, and more, it’s a taut and potent sound that spans - from pop to electronica to progressive - the breadth of modern rock. Think a more buoyant Minus The Bear, or a more syncopated Mutemath, both informed by the better parts of turn-of-the-21st Century indie rock.

Amid 5 years of continuous touring, former Damiera frontman, Raymond and Nashville-based producer J. Hall formed a bond of mutual respect and purpose. This relationship made "EP 001" possible, with no need for outside funding or labels. Hidden Hospitals has chosen to forgo the traditional roads mapped by an industry in transition. They intend to forge new paths, leaving a trail that inspires others to follow.

Hidden Hospitals Tour Dates
(w squid the whale, american opera)
02.29.12 // Saginaw, MI @ Hamilton St Pub
03.01.12 // Kalamazoo, MI @ The Strutt
03.02.12 // Chicago, IL @ Township

03.09.12 // Dubuque, IA @ The Busted Lift
03.10.12 // Madison, WI @ The Frequency
03.11.12 // Dekalb, IL @ House Cafe

04.05.12 // Chicago, IL @ Underground Lounge

04.12.12 // Fredonia, NY @ BJs

04.13.12 // New York, NY @ Sullivan Hall
(show is with Gabriel the Marine, Those Mockingbirds and Abel)

04.14.12 // Danbury, CT @ Heirloom Arts
04.15.12 // Rochester, NY @ The Bug Jar
04.16.12 // Akron, OH @ Musica

Hidden Hospitals performed on Audiotree Live in Chicago on February 16th - check out the video below:

Hidden Hospitals

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Residents - "Is Anybody Out There" DVD Review (MVD Video)

The Residents - 'Is Anybody Out There' DVD Review (MVD Video)While I’ve reviewed a number of Residents’ discs over the past few years, the DVD Is Anybody Out There had slipped through the cracks. Prior to starting in on the band’s latest limited edition, Night Train to Nowhere, I wanted to close out the last of the Bunny Boy and Talking Light discs.

Is Anybody Out There follows the Bunny Boy story arc – a large portion of this footage was posted to the internet as a multi-part docudrama as a run-up to the Bunny Boy tour and these original videos have now been edited and sequenced with some live footage from the tour. For anyone who missed the original YouTube video series, Is Anybody Out There isn’t a full-length “music video” but rather a “feature film” that has a lot in common with Blair Witch Project. The Residents’ music adds to the increasingly uncomfortable story line (and was documented in the tour-only disc Postcards from Patmos) but the music is neither a prominent nor focal part of the DVD. The story line follows Roger (aka “Bunny”) on his descent into madness. Roger is living in the basement of his x-wife’s house, recovering from an accident he had in Greece that he doesn’t remember. The basement is particularly creepy as it looks like a torture chamber, with a variety of weapons on the wall and “John Wayne Gacy” style clown paintings of Roger and his brother Harvey.

The storyline follows Roger’s “self-made” videos that he is posting on the internet asking for help finding his missing brother Harvey. Harvey is described as being obsessed with the apocalypse and he went missing on the Greek isle of Patmos (home of the “Cave of the Apocalypse”). After filling in the back story of Harvey’s disappearance, Roger’s sanity progressively slips and he makes the later videos dressed in an adult bunny suit. After selling some possessions on eBay (this really happened – how’s that for a bridge between film and reality?), Roger raises money to pay The Great Carson (an internet psychic) who told Roger that Harvey is in Patmos, Arkansas getting ready to do battle with “The Beast”.

Note: There may be a “Part II’ to this disc as the DVD ends with Roger/”Bunny” boarding the bus to Patmos.

The Residents have enjoyed many attachments over the years, but none more unique than "Bunny." Their relationship flourished in the 70's when Bunny's eccentric ideas often pointed the group in unexpected directions, but Bunny eventually grew distant and his appearances at the El Ralpho Studios declined. Then, after a lapse of several years, a video tape arrived in the mail. Looking like the product of a discarded Korean surveillance camera, The Residents quickly recognized the unidentified video as the "work" of the long lost Bunny. At first amused, the group soon became disturbed by Bunny's obvious cry for help, attempting to gain support finding his missing "brother" Harvey. Hoping that a project focused on their lost friend might stimulate his reappearance, and subsequent psychiatric care, The Residents reenacted Bunny's plight in a series of internet videos, resulting in this DVD. Unfortunately after a CD, a world tour and the video series, Bunny remains among the missing.
The Residents

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tu Fawning - Download "Bones" from Forthcoming Sophomore CD "A Moment" (City Slang)

DOWNLOAD: Tu Fawning - "Bones" (from forthcoming CD A Moment - out May 15th)

Tu Fawning - Download 'Bones' from Forthcoming Sophomore CD Portland, OR's Tu Fawning will release their sophomore album A Monument in the US on May 15th, 2012 via City Slang. The album is preceded by the free MP3 download premiere of "Bones", a 7+ minute-long opus of fluttering and pulsing primal beats.

Led by Corrina Repp and Joe Haege (31Knots), Tu Fawning expands upon the dark, vaudevillian vibes of their 2010 debut LP Hearts On Hold with A Monument. The album marks the first release written and recorded collaboratively as the four-piece of Repp, Haege, Liza Reitz, and Toussaint Perrault, who came together shortly after the duo of Repp and Haege returned from Tu Fawning's first tour. A Monument is steeped in the band's love of music from around the world, and wastes no time making its impact with the dynamic opening trio of the billowing, hypnotically rhythmic "Anchor", the warped R&B/soul cadence of "Blood Stain", and the moody and sensual "Wager". The spooky theatrics of "Build A Great Cliff" and the choral loops and scaling of "Skin and Bone" segue into the mesmeric second half, which closes with the epic "Bones". Repp's formidable, smoky voice leads the charge throughout, at once ethereal and earthly.

The songs of A Monument were found in the practice recordings made by Haege, or in Perrault's home-recorded demos, and - in addition to the usual guitars, keys, horns, and drums - feature instrumentation such as a ragini, a tuned-down marching band drum, old '80s synths, and South American chant samples turned into chords. Some of Perrault's recorded loose ideas ended up somewhat defining the album: to use synths more heavily but with no intention of making an "electro" record. The band employed four tracks, old tape recorders, and dying guitar pedals in documenting the songs, and sometimes recorded vocals by turning their backs to the microphones and yelling - always finding character and a sense of timelessness in the unusual and sometimes less than perfect means.

Repp set out to put a true sense of tenderness front and center in the album, frequently writing lyrics while listening to mixes through headphones in the dark. While working on the words over a concentrated period of time, a common thread began running between them. Each track explores different permutations of what a monument is: the idea of something revered, something that represents something else, something pure. In their mix of the sincere and mildly unconventional, the songs explore the connection between the good and bad, the light and dark, the sensuality and earnestness in being alive.

Tu Fawning recorded A Monument with friends at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, CA, and at Type Foundry in Portland last summer, with some additional recording at Menomena's Justin Harris' house - all factors that lent a warm, familial feel to the recordings.

A Monument Track Listing:
- Anchor
- Blood Stain
- Wager
- A Pose For No One
- Build A Great Cliff
- Skin and Bone
- In The Center Of Powder White
- To Break Into
- Bones

Tu Fawning

The Jettisoundz Promo Years - "The Promos From 1983 Onwards" DVD Review (Screen Edge)

The Jettisoundz Promo Years - Anyone who didn’t grow up in the 80’s may not appreciate how important music videos were to discovering new bands. While MTV predominately catered to mainstream artists, there were programs like 120 Minutes and Headbangers Ball that featured bands that fell outside of FM-radio standards and USA Network showed a mixture of videos from punk and indie-artists and concert films like "Urgh! A Music War" and Johnny Thunders live on its Night Flight program. In addition to the various cable programs, enterprising “Mom & Pop” record shops in my area sold bootlegs of the British video programs like Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops which showcased bands that were predominately unknown to an American audience.

The Jettisoundz Promo Years DVD reminds me of these British video programs as it contains 50 videos (just over 3 hours running time) of live and studio videos from a wide assortment of predominately British post-punk bands (“Fifty of the top names from the independents”). There is an eclectic mix of bands on this compilation which includes artists from the space rock, death rock, garage, rockabilly, roots-rock, hardcore and punk genres. As to be expected, some of these artists were regretfully overlooked at the time and others will have you chuckling ruefully. It is a great document of the DIY “anything goes” era that took place in the mid-80’s as, later in the decade, most of the first wave punk bands broke up, the larger indie labels had either collapsed or gotten acquired by the majors and indie-rock morphed into a style of music rather than an aesthetic / way of life.

Some of the stand-out cuts are two live Hawkind tracks (“Night of the Hawk” and “Needlegun”), a couple tracks from Nik Turner’s Inner City Unit (I.C.U), two tracks from Psychic TV’s acid house phase along with a delightfully bizarre cover of “R. U. Xperienced” which is sung by Genesis’ daughter Caresse. Some of the other bands include Guana Batz (UK’s answer to the Stray Cats), Cherry Bombz (Andy and Nasty from Hanoi Rocks along with Terry Chimes from The Clash), goth/batcavers Alien Sex Fiend and football hooligans Macc Lads. Jumping back over to this side of the world, US bands include NYHC stalwarts Crumbsuckers, Mark Linkous’ pre-Sparklehorse band Dancing Hoods and garage rockers, the Raunch Hands.

Brilliant stuff for anyone who “shot up” on college radio in the 80’s.

Screen Edge

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Residents - "Coochie Brake" CD Review (MVD Audio)

The Residents - 'Coochie Brake' CD Review (MVD Audio)Coochie Brake is the latest CD from the Residents and this disc marks a clean break from the band’s recent "Bunny Boy" and "Talking Light" related output. To put this disc in context with the band’s recent releases, The Residents toured as a three piece on their "Talking Light" tour with long-time vocalist “Randy, “Chuck” on keyboards and “Bob” on guitar. During the "Talking Light" live shows, Randy announced that, while the Residents had been a four piece, the drummer “Carlos” had retired to Mexico to take care of his mom. With “Randy” touring solo late last year with his Sam’s Enchanted Evening project, Carlos has returned to the band on drums and vocals.

Coochie Brake is an actual place – it is a swamp located in southwestern Louisiana and its 800 acres is totally unrelated to the surrounding terrain. According to the CD liner notes "A million years ago, a big rock fell out of the sky and landed right in the middle of Louisiana. Well, it wasn't Louisiana at that time. But that rock fell, and it hit hard making a giant dent. It gradually filled in but no matter what, it still left a dent. And that dent held just enough water that it became a primeval swamp known as Coochie Brake...Some young guys used to camp in Coochie Brake. They climbed the massive granite boulders that common sense said should not be there. They explored the caves that some said still hid a fortune in Spanish gold. Most importantly, they sat still and let the Brake speak to them as only the Brake can. Those teens grew up to become The Residents. Their music is full of memories. Memories of misty fog, dark shapes and the unexplained sounds of Coochie Brake."

The album is predominantly comprised of dark and uneasy instrumentals and it sounds heavily influenced by Spanish Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) music. Carlos’ “vocals” are all in Spanish and consist of spoken word and murmured phases. There is also a very brief smattering of vocals in English which sound like Randy may have ‘snuck’ in some brief contributions. Like many of the Residents’ instrumental releases, there are “songs within songs” as the band drops light piano, jazz and rock guitars, mariachi horns, complex percussion, crickets, birds and other swamp noises and chanted/ritualistic backing “vocals” into some of the songs. Cohesively weaving all of this together must have been a herculean feet but the end result is that The Residents push the boundaries further than I’ve heard them do so in years and a comparable reference point would be Eskimo.

The Residents haven't announced any shows in support of Coochie Brake but Randy is bringing Sam's Enchanted Evening to Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street) on March 24 - 27. "With four decades of album releases, world tours, and museum shows behind them, the pioneering performance collective The Residents presents a work-in-progress of a new music-theater event. Sam’s Enchanted Evening is the story of one man's fumbling journey through a wasted life consumed by years of pathetic self-deception, unrequited passion, and rock 'n' roll. Performed in character by Randy Rose, The Residents’ lead singer, and set against a cycle of aggressively deconstructed American pop songs, Sam’s is a relentless, violent mash-up of laughter, pain, and elusive redemption, sometimes all in a single song." Tickets are $25 and the show starts at 7:30PM.

The Residents

George Clinton: Awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music

George Clinton: Awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of MusicLast night in Boston, Berklee College of Music awarded funk icon George Clinton an honorary doctor of music degree and celebrated his music with a performance from the college's P-Funk Ensemble. After the presentation, Clinton traded his doctoral robes for a silver suit to perform with student musicians on "Testify," "Give Up the Funk," and "One Nation Under a Groove," among other P-Funk hits. Clinton's longtime horn players Bennie Cowan and Greg Thomas, and many other members of his current band, joined him on stage for the career-spanning, sold-out show. The concert was the culmination of Clinton's four-day residency at Berklee this week.

George Clinton

Town Hall: Brooklyn Indie-Folk Band Release Valentine Video Tribute to Ja Rule

Town Hall: Brooklyn Indie-Folk Band Cover Jimmy Eat World's 'The Middle' / New EP Available as Free DownloadTown Hall "sold me" with their acoustic re-interpretation (and the vocals trade-offs between Stefan Weiner and Phoebe Ryan) of Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" and the band is playing a CD release show for their new EP "Sticky Notes & Paper Scraps" sometime next month. This new disc is a mellow "late night" listen that is powered by the two vocalists with instrumentation like mandolin and omnichord carefully woven in beneath the vocals. Most of the songs fall into the "alt-folk" genre but the exceptions are the Appalachian/alt-country track "Pandora" and the indie-pop of "Mary A. Longden".

Town Hall released a cover of Ja Rule and Ashanti's "Always on Time" earlier this week to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Town Hall

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spiritual Beggars - "Another Way to Shine" CD Review (The End Records)

Spiritual Beggars - 'Another Way to Shine' CD Review (The End Records)I probably would have found Spiritual Beggars’ second disc, Another Way to Shine (1996), more satisfying if I hadn’t recently reviewed the band’s fourth disc, Ad Astra (2000). As compared to the hard-rock/grunge of Ad Astra, Another Way to Shine is more of a psychedelic outing that doesn’t have the same pummeling intensity of this later release. The difference in the sound between these two albums is somewhat akin to comparing Alice in Chain’s debut album to the arena-grunge of later period Soundgarden.

The music on Another Way to Shine wears its 70’s roots with pride - the disc opens with “Magik Spell” which kicks off with a cowbell intro before jumping into the band’s blend of groove metal and Southern boogie and this sound caries throughout the disc. This is a guitar-rock album and most of the tracks are built around Michael Arnott’s psychedelic leads and vocalist Spice’s blues-metal vocals. The core sound of most of the songs is similar but each number branches out with different flourishes and leads. Some examples are the heavy reverb on Spice’s vocals on “Misty Valley” and bass and drum groove on “Entering into Peace” but the jam-oriented, groove metal foundation of the songs makes this a disc to nod off to rather than jump into the pit. There are some exceptions though as “Picking from the Box” and “Entering into Peace” have the fist-pumping, driving urgency that made Ad Astra a smash. The one dud track is “Past the Sound of Whispers”, which sinks under the weight of its hippy-dippy mysticism.

Earlier this month, Spiritual Beggars announced that they are "busy in the studio...writing new riffs and coming up with new songs"

Spiritual Beggars

Sex Pistols - "Live: The Broadcast Archives" DVD Review (IMV Blueline)

Sex Pistols - 'Live: The Broadcast Archives' DVD Review (IMV Blueline)As dozens of poorly labeled or incorrectly labeled Sex Pistols' archival releases have hit the market over the last twenty years, it always takes a bit of detective work to figure out exactly what material is covered on any new archival release.

This new DVD from the Sex Pistols, “Live: The Broadcast Archives” (how’s that for a descriptive name?) is a great addition to the band’s catalogue as it captures a full concert from the band on their 1996 Filthy Lucre reunion tour. The show was filmed toward the end of the tour (as opposed to the Filthy Lucre Live CD which captures the band at the start of the tour) at Budokan Hall in Japan on 11/16/1996. This concert was originally released on VHS in Japan and this is a pro-shot, crystal-clear show that is MTV/TV-broadcast quality.

To be honest, I thought we'd be playing to empty halls. I didn't care if no one even came. The aim was to resolve certain issues within the band, which we did. All the old animosities came out. By the end of a nine-month world tour, we knew we really did despise each other." - John Lydon (The Times UK)

For anyone who missed the band’s 1996 tour, this disc captures the experience perfectly. There is no comparison in how the band’s musicianship had improved since their 1978 show at Winterland (the band’s previous concert video). Appearance-wise, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook have aged well but Steve Jones looks like he got lost somewhere on the Sunset Strip and ended up in Tracii Gun’s wardrobe closet. As for Mr Lydon…he has a red and green Mohawk and comes on stage dressed in a Swiss mountain climber’s outfit. While he slips in the occasional zinger (i.e., he pulls a banana out of his trousers during one song and later hands it to the audience, has "A Load of Sex" written on his thigh in what appears to be magic marker and briefly plays with his nipples during the later part of the show), Johnny is actually fairly restrained with his audience baiting as compared to some of the PiL shows that I saw in the 80’s. All-in-all, the Sex Pistols have become a ‘serious’ musical outfit and Matlock and Cook are particularly outstanding.

As the Sex Pistols have just one studio album along with a handful of non-LP singles, the set list on the 1996 tour was 90%+ same each night. At Budokan, the band played:

01. “Bodies”
02. “Seventeen”
03. “New York”
04. “No Feelings”
05. “Did You No Wrong”
06. “God Save the Queen”
07. “Liar”
08. “Satellite”
09. “Steppin Stone”
10. “Submission”
11. “Holidays in the Sun”
12. “Pretty Vacant”
13. “EMI”
14. “Anarchy in the UK”
15. “Problems”

John Lydon closed the Pistols’ final show in 1978 with the now immortal phrase “Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?". In the case of this DVD, I rather enjoyed it.

Sex Pistols

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

HELLYEAH Announces Third Disc, "Band of Brothers" Out in June on Eleven/Seven Music

Fingers crossed for this release as I found the band's 2007 self-titled debut such a snoozer that I didn't bother with their second disc.

HELLYEAH Announces Third Disc, 'Band of Brothers' Out in the Spring on Eleven/Seven MusicHard rock supergroup HELLYEAH is back with a their third album, entitled Band of Brothers. The album, the band’s first effort for their new label home, Eleven Seven Music, was recorded in Dallas at drummer Vinnie Paul’s home studio, VP’s Upstairs Studio, and was produced by the band and Jeremy Parker (Godsmack, Evanessence), who also served as engineer.

Having produced track after track of heavy-hitting, in-your-face, feel good rock and roll on their previous two albums (2010’s Stampede and 2007’s self-titled debut), Band of Brothers sees HELLYEAH taking a slightly different musical direction. Drawing on their former bands’ collective metal roots for inspiration, the influences and style of Mudvayne, Pantera, Damageplan and Nothingface are immediately recognizable in tracks such as “Band of Brothers,” “War In Me” and “Rage Burn,” while the party anthem “Drink, Drank, Drunk” retains the essence of earlier HELLYEAH.

Frontman Chad Gray comments, "I'm really excited about what we've done on this new album. I've always separated Mudvayne and HELLYEAH as much as I could, even though it was my voice. Melodies, lyrics and just the overall style of writing were different. With Band of Brothers, I just quit being afraid of who I am in relation to this band. I think we've all really gotten back to the original roots of what we've done individually and brought it together on this album. As an artist, as long as you’re painting with your own brush, no one can compare or challenge you. I just painted with a bigger, heavier brush than I had with HELLYEAH in the past. I think this is what fans have always expected to hear from us, and now were giving it to them."

Vinnie Paul echoed the sentiment in a recent interview for “On our first two records, we were a new band. We really wanted to branch out and expand and experiment with all different styles. We all come from traditional metal bands and backgrounds, so it was a great breath of fresh air to play in a band that was rock ‘n’ roll, blues and Southern rock. We got that out of our system and got really focused on going back to our metal roots. It’s heavy, focused, groove-oriented and I’m excited about it.

Jeremy Parker said, “It's impossible not to have a good time jamming this record. It has the anger and violence of Pantera and Mudvayne, but a party vibe that can only be HELLYEAH!

Band of Brothers is set for worldwide release in early June. HELLYEAH will be announcing North American tour plans soon. They are confirmed to tour Australia and Japan in the coming months. Dates are as follows:

Feb 25 -- Brisbane, AUS -- RNA Showgrounds
Feb 26 -- Sydney, AUS -- Showground
Feb 28 -- Melbourne, AUS -- The Forum
Mar 01 -- Sydney, AUS -- The Metro Theater
Mar 02 -- Melbourne, AUS -- Showgrounds
Mar 03 -- Adelaide, AUS -- Bonython Park
Mar 05 -- Perth, AUS -- Claremont Showgrounds
Mar 31 -- Jakarta, IND -- Carnaval Beach Ancol
Apr 02 -- Nayoga, JAP -- Diamond Hall
Apr 03 -- Osaka, JAP -- Big Cat
Apr 05 -- Tokyo, JAP -- O-East
Apr 06 -- Tokyo, JAP -- O-East


Paul McCartney Played "My Valentine" at The Grammys / Posts Video from "Kisses On the Bottom" Photo Shoot

(Photographer: Mary McCartney)
Paul McCartney - 'Kisses on the Bottom' CD Review (Hear Music)Earlier this month, Paul McCartney released his first new disc in five years, Kisses on the Bottom. The disc takes its name from a lyric in the Fats Waller song “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” and McCartney’s cover of this song serves as the lead-off track on his new disc. This new disc is predominately comprised of little-heard cover songs and Paul’s approach to this disc is similar to his 1999 disc Run Devil Run on which he covered 50’s rock and roll songs and wrote some originals in the style of that era.

Paul played "My Valentine" from the new album on The Grammys earlier this week (along with a medley of his back catalogue hits) and posted a video from the Kisses On the Bottom photo shoot.

Paul McCartney

Harley's War - "Harley's War 2012" CD Review (MVD Audio)

Harley's War - 'Harley's War 2012' CD Review (MVD Audio)Cro-Mags/Harley’s War bassist/vocalist Harley Flanagan posted a new track, “Comfort the Children”, to YouTube in late 2008 but little was heard after that. Seemingly out of nowhere, Harley’s new disc, Harley’s War 2012 (MVD Audio), hit the streets earlier this month. There isn’t much in the way of liner notes with this release so I’m taking some guesses as to the source of this material.

The disc’s first five tracks are previously unreleased studio material that feature Ryan Krieger (Drums and Rhythm Guitars), Will Dahl (Rhythm Guitars and Leads), Sean Kilkenny (Rhythm Guitars and Leads) and Rocky George (Lead Guitars). Given this lineup toured with Harley’s War in 2007, I’m guessing that the band may have had an unreleased studio session in the can. The songs are a solid mix of NYHC and experimental (almost bordering on black) metal. “Life is a Struggle” and “Comfort the Children” sound like the early Cro-Mags and have “from the streets” lyrical themes. “Extinction”, “Purpose of Your Life” and “The End is Drawing Near” are dark-themed metal tracks which include Tibetan Monks “OM”, quotes from Floyd Red Crow Westerman and Maha Mantra from His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

The next six tracks sound like a live rehearsal where the band touches on multiple point from the Cro-Mags back catalogue. The band sounds great and blasts from one song to the next – my only (minor) ‘complaint’ is that Harley’s vocals could have been better mic’d.
- “World Peace”
- “These Streets”
- “It’s the Limit”
- “My Life”
- “Street Justice”

The disc’s final tracks are from a live show recorded in Japan which I’m assuming this is from Harley’s 2007 tour. This recording appears to be from the soundboard as the crowd is only audible between the songs. The tracks on this segment are:
- “Survival of the Street”
- “Days of Confusion”
- “No Sympathy”
- “Premeditated”
- “Jones”
- “Hard Times”
- “Life of My Own”

It is great to see Harley back in action and these new studio tracks add to his legacy. One would assume that Harley will head out on the road once his first release for Southern Lord drops so the live and demo tracks serve as a good teaser for what is to come.

Harley Flanagan

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GEORGINE - Debuted Her Fall/Winter 2012 Collection at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12th

Head designer Georgine Ratelband of GEORGINE debuted her Fall/Winter 2012 collection as part of New York Fashion Week on Sunday, February 12 at 7Eleven Gallery in Chelsea. It is an impressive collection (photos below) and I can see why Georgine's designs hang alongside those of Jason Wu.

The evening kicked off with a performance from DJ Mia Moretti and Caitlin Moe (who opened for Janet Jackson at The Louvre and played at Chelsea Clinton's wedding) and complimentary Brooklyn Brewery beer and cocktails by One Stop Beer Shop were served all night.

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

About Georgine:
Head designer Georgine Ratelband of Georgine graduated from Istituto Europeo di Design this past June, just after her thesis collection was bought by the prestigious boutique SIEN in Antwerp, Belgium. Her designs now hang next to those of Proenza Schouler, Jason Wu, and The Row. Georgine is dedicated to the synthesis of culture, travel, and femininity. She divides her life between America, Europe and Asia, always spending the majority of each year in Bangkok to personally oversee and collaborate on the production of her clothing. The electricity of New York, sensuality of Paris, and chaotic passion of Bangkok fuse together in every one of Georgine's collections, thanks to the inspiration that the designer draws from such an eclectic synthesis of culture. Georgine's intentions are simple: to create perfectly executed clothing that every woman can feel great about wearing.

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012

GEORGINE - Fall/Winter 2012 Collection Debuted at 7Eleven Gallery on Feb. 12, 2012


Margot and the Nuclear So and So's Premier Video for "Prozac Rock" / Show at MHOW on April 11th

Margot and The Nuclear So and So's premiered the first video, "Prozac Rock", off their upcoming fourth LP Rot Gut, Domestic earlier this month which was directed by Dom Bloink.

A "Prozac Rock" single, featuring B-side "Fingertips", is currently available digitally via iTunes and Amazon. Rot Gut, Domestic will be released on March 20th, 2012 on the band's own Mariel Recording Company.

The band has also announced a spring headlining tour throughout the eastern US and into Canada. The tour will launch on March 31st with a performance at the sold out CD101 Day Side A at the LC Pavilion in Columbus, OH, and wrap up on April 21st in Atlanta, GA, and includes an April 11th show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY. Full tour dates are below.

Rot Gut, Domestic is the Nukes' rawest take on their evocative, soaring brand of guitar-centric pop. The album follows in the footsteps of the more brazen, rocking songs that comprised 2010's Buzzard (called "masterpieces of controlled tension" by SPIN) and the first four tracks provide a fittingly booming intro. Opener "Disease Tobacco Free" is a propulsive low-end led rumble; squealing guitars and rough-hewn edges augment the sinister air of "Books About Trains"; "Shannon" is a bleary-eyed and grimy, fuzzy bass stomp; and the undulating "Prozac Rock" is a modern pop song's frenetic, slightly spooky sister. The swinging, sweetly twisted tale of "A Journalist Falls In Love" and the rolling "Ludlow Junk Hustle" ease the album's pace, and The Nukes still pen some of the most moving, lush songs today, heard here in the gorgeous, sweeping guitar lilt of "Coonskin Cap".

Singer/songwriter Richard Edwards wrote Rot Gut, Domestic over 26 days in Pismo Beach, CA last spring. Plagued by chronic stomach pain, he'd headed to Pismo Beach - which had become a somewhat mythical place for the band, a respite of calm and healing where they'd somehow always been drawn - following the last days of the band's touring around Buzzard. The album was conceived as the second installment of the band's 'panic pop' trilogy, Edwards composing a new set of songs about Midwestern fringe characters set to his skewed version of the pop music on which he was raised. Upon returning to his current hometown of Chicago, IL, Edwards and the rest of the band headed into Electrical Audio studio with producer/engineer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Bill Callahan, The Walkmen). The Nukes churned out these 12 resounding tracks over 10 days in July before Congleton returned to his Dallas, TX studio to mix the album.

Margot and The Nuclear So and So's Tour Dates:

(Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 DOS - support acts are Ezra Furman and Writer)


Margot & The Nuclear So and So's

X - "The Unheard Music": Interview with Alizabeth Foley (aka Paulene)

Silver Anniversary Edition Liner Notes from Director W. T. Morgan:

A quarter-century ago THE UNHEARD MUSIC premiered at Sundance.

To get there, Angel City Productions – Chris Blakely, Everett Greaton, Alizabeth Foley and I – spent a lifetime in wolf years shacked up with X and their uniquely charged punk poetry. We found kindred spirits in John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom and D. J. Bonebrake, and tried to capture lightning in a bottle during that electrifying run when they made Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under the Big Black Sun and More Fun in the New World.

This was our first film, and we put everything we had into it – blood, sweat, 96 tears in 24 hours, our bottom dollars, thousands of film fragments...I’d say everything but the kitchen sink, but there is a sink in We’re Desperate. It’s literally and figuratively hand- made: shot on film, cut on film, fx created in-camera – analog all the way.

With the release of the Silver Anniversary Edition of "The Unheard Music", I had the opportunity to interview Associate Producer/Actress Alizabeth Foley.

Foley did double duty on both sides of the camera, appearing in the film as Paulene, a fictitious character whom Morgan describes as “an archetypal – and over-identifying – X fan.” The character was inspired by the confluence of several factors: an anonymous fan letter from an emotionally disturbed young woman convinced that all of the songs were about her; an actual hit and run accident in front of Johnny’s Pastrami witnessed by Morgan and Foley, where a woman was tossed or fell from a speeding car, and then run over; and the lyrics to X’s song, “Johny Hit & Run Paulene,” which found pulp friction in the collision of punk outcasts, drugs and violent rape. In Foley’s mind it all crystallized in two key lines: "She wasn’t what you’d call living really / But she was still awake...."

BrooklynRocks: What is the history of Angel City Productions? How did the members come together? Did you do any work together after ‘The Unheard Music’?

Alizabeth: I’m not officially part of Angel City. My husband, Bill Morgan, the director, is one of the partners. He went to Stanford where he became friends with Chris Blakely and Everett Greaton, the other two partners. They spent time together in Palo Alto and also at Stanford in Italy. Later, Bill and Chris shared an office in Ocean Park. Bill was writing scripts and reading about the music scene, thinking about X’s music for one of his scripts. Chris had just come out of law school and realized he didn’t want to be a lawyer. He came up with the idea to do a short film on three punk bands: the Alley Cats, X and one other one, I forget, as an exploration of why these bands couldn’t get airplay or record deals. This is 1979/1980. Bill suggested focusing on only one band, X. Chris invited Ev down from Frisco to help him out and the two of them got on option to use X’s music, soon after.

One of the first pre-production meetings was at the apartment I shared with Bill. I was an aspiring actress so I lobbied to make it a full-length movie, with fictional elements, i.e. Paulene–which didn’t go over so well. So, they went off and shot their documentary for three years while I thought about how to get Paulene into the movie.

BrooklynRocks: What attracted you to X (as opposed to any of the other punk bands of the time)? I can’t imagine many bands today letting anyone get such a personal and up-close look at both their on-stage and off-stage lives. How did you cross this bridge with X?

Alizabeth: I like the idea of control, but fate is the master and can only be viewed in hindsight. X wasn’t something I went after; The Unheard Music came to my house.

X was, maybe, the first punk band I ever saw in the flesh. I just remember not digging punk, except for The Sex Pistols, which I liked. It seemed like so much posing, the clothes and stuff, but I hadn’t really experienced it, just magazines and TV, passing people on the street or at parties. High fashion models with safety pins on their leggings. I lived through the sixties, so was superficially a hippie, then glitter and glam, but had gotten kind of "conservatived" out by this time. I mean not really, but I was working at William Morris and learning about movies and taking acting lessons.

Bill and Chris wanted to see X, so the four of us, including Betsy, Chris’s wife, went down to the Whiskey to see them. It was a small crowd; the music was dissonant, I didn’t like it. Anyway, I was bored until I heard what sounded like an animal. It might have been "Nausea" or "Johnny Hit & Run Paulene", but Exene’s voice was like a tractor beam, which drew me to the stage. I got up close and just looked at her. Her hair was uncombed, she had on torn clothes and her little flat Buster Brown shoes. When she moved, I couldn’t tell if she was beautiful or ugly. She wore a leather motorcycle jacket, and when she turned away, “Society’s Outcast,” was emblazoned on the back. Well that was it. I wanted to be her. I said in my head: I want to be her. We bought Los Angeles, which I played every waking hour, every day. Everything about it fascinated me: the lyrics and art on the album sleeve, the photograph of them under a bridge, in the dirt or something. It seemed to be the answer to every question and hope I’d grown up with: Religious, political, social, emotional, it just hit me on many, many levels. “X” has so many meanings, all organic: The unknown, the first variable, the female zygote, a kiss, shorthand for Christ as in Christine and xmas, girders in bridges; the shape and symbol is everywhere. Anyway, three days later, or a week, or a month, I don’t know, Bill told me Chris got the rights to X’s music and they were going to have a production meeting at our house.

As for X’s cooperation: Chris, Ev and Bill are pretty smart and personable guys. What was being shot was good, which X could see, so I think they just had a lot of patience and faith that it would all work out. Also, they are professionals. I think they saw us working. It was trying for them, though, towards the end but everyone was very respectful of each other.

BrooklynRocks: In the film (and the 25th Anniversary look-back), John Doe seemed to be "creeped out" by the note from the person who claimed that the song “Los Angeles” was based on her life story. Was that the original note that you showed in the film and how did you come up with the “Pauline” sequence?

Alizabeth: That was the real letter, but it was about the whole album, Los Angeles, not just the song.

She thought all those songs were about her. I understand John being creeped out by someone like that because he was the focus of that insanity.

One person’s insanity is another person’s reality.” ––Tim Burton

Since I wanted to be an actress and knew nothing about documentaries, I related to X’s music and personae emotionally, in images, memory, fantasy, story and projection. I knew the political and social elements would be covered in other songs, but I thought Paulene was a way to make it personal. I just had to find the story and make it compelling enough to persuade the others to film it. It was also a chance to make something different, like X.

Many things happened while the guys were shooting the documentary parts that made Paulene possible, some of them weird coincidences, although the exact order of them is blurry, now.

The letter in Exene’s studio was the first way in. Bill had seen it and put it on the bulletin board to be filmed. He told me the gist of it because you can’t see what was on the following pages. So on film, we now have a character or outside consciousness.

The next thing was Bill and I were sitting in the middle booth at Johnnie’s Pastrami on Sepulveda, at 2 or 3 in the morning. It was summer, the sliding doors were open with birds of paradise on either side and the tiki torches and fire pit were flaming. A black man in a big Olds or Buick made a u-turn and jumped the curb right in front of us. He looked across the street where a girl was laying on the double yellow line. I thought the man had hit her, but the guy in the booth behind us said he saw someone stop in the middle of the street and throw her out of the car. Then another car ran over her and kept on going. The man who jumped the curb was stopping to help her. An ambulance and cop cars arrived and parked so their lights shown on the body in the middle of the street. We didn’t know if she were dead or alive until she started groaning really really loudly – like an animal. We watched the whole thing through the open sliding door in Johnnie’s Pastrami. A hit and run right in front of Johnnie’s.

You have to ask yourself, what kind of world do we live in where a girl was with someone who cared so little about her that he threw her into the middle of a busy street, and then someone else, a total stranger, comes along, runs her over and keeps on going? ––And then, why were we, of all people, there to see it? These things aren’t supposed to happen but they do. X writes about them. That definitely helped my case.

Then, Angel City shot the backstage interview with Exene on the closing night of the Whiskey , which was to be her interview only because they didn’t have sound equipment to shoot the show. I prevailed upon them to shoot the performance of "Johnny Hit & Run Paulene", without sound, anyway, which they did, along with "Soul Kitchen". Craig Smith cut them so well, sound-wise, that Ray Manzarek thought he was hearing his own voice—even though they were the album versions he produced. So now we have X’s performance of "Johnny Hit & Run Paulene".

The next thing, I shot the housemoving on Super 8, re-shot wonderfully, by John Monsour, which was Paulene’s consciousness.

Lastly, and another coincidence, if you want to call it that, was that the moving company parked the building temporarily on a vacant lot on Broadway, overlooking downtown. Across the street was a bar named, Johnny’s, with a neon sign that spelled it out just like the song title. So now, we have two more elements, a location, Johnny’s, and the housemoving, that match up in a nice way.

Believe me, I was a broken record the whole time. I was working on "We’re Desperate" and generally helping out every which way, but everything I did was geared toward Paulene. I guess enough connections were made that it became easy enough to film.

I realize this wasn’t John’s or Exene’s intention for the song, but I purposely kept myself away from X and most of the documentary filming, so I didn’t really know that––and didn’t really want to, so I could concentrate on a story.

BrooklynRocks: After watching other docu-drama films that make the Los Angeles punk scene out to be “sex, drugs and violence” and the live shows as “battlegrounds”, how true is this depiction and how difficult was it to film the live footage of X?

Alizabeth: Politics is personal. It happens between the classes and even some families are battlegrounds as horrible and violent as any war. It’s something people hide or gloss over and don’t talk about, esp. those in power. So the punk scene was a place where I could be honest, more who I really was and not the nice front I felt compelled to put on. I imagine that the anger, drugs and violence came from real experiences that others needed to respond to, as well, on a personal level as well as on social and political levels.

Also, this is just me, but it didn’t seem so violent on the inside. I went into a mosh pit, once, and it wasn’t necessarily so violent. It looked very intense from afar (I was in the balcony sections of a club), but up close, in the center, the boys were moving down low in a circle, swinging their arms up and back, their expressions and bodies moving with the beat. I didn’t see it until I was in it: It was a dance! Like an M.C. Escher drawing, The Skank. Before I realized it, I felt a push from behind, really hard. I took it as my clue to leave. If you don’t know your limits, or what you bring to things, you can get hurt. But that’s true of everything.

The four live songs were shot at SIR Sound Studios, with three cameras, recording equipment, and a lot of planning. The audience was invited. X came with those amazing crosses, and Exene decorated her own mic. (X is the art directors of this film—though not credited!)

"Soul Kitchen" and "Johnny Hit & Run" were filmed during the closing night of the Whiskey, so it was a normal audience. We had only one cameraman, Marino Colmano and no sound equipment. The audience was fine, in fact they were respectful. I loved the audience and felt very maternal towards them. These people needed and appreciated the outlet, just like me.

BrooklynRocks: After five years of work, what were your reactions upon finishing the film? (Was it ‘thank God we’re done’ or were you ready for ‘more’)

Alizabeth: We were done. The movie was done. We were all exhausted and broke and it was time to move on.

BrooklynRocks: What sort of distro did the original issue of the film get and what were the reactions of critics and fans? (Apologies as I consider myself an X fan and I never heard of the film until I ran into a rental copy in Tower Video in the late 90’s)

Alizabeth: (No apologies necessary.) We had a really nice distributor, Skouras Pictures, part of an old Hollywood family. They were great and treated us well. They put up the money to pay for the finishing of the film, the titles, negative cutting, and music licensing, which was pretty expensive, probably more than the whole movie. They were located on a real movie lot and since none of us had made films before or went to any film schools, it was pretty cool to us.

The only thing I didn’t like was the publicist. He didn’t get me. He had this template and if you didn’t fit that, well….And I wish I realized that an advance really means you are paying for stuff, which means they are working for you. The distribution was small and depended on box office in each venue, I believe: One theater each in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and maybe some other cities. We went to Sundance, which was great, Italy, Japan.

We got mostly good reviews, some rave ones. People either loved the film or hated it. It was punk, after all. And the fictional element was kind of a surprise to some people.

Skouras went bankrupt pretty soon after that and they sold their rights to another company that also went bankrupt and on it went for about twenty years. Some weren’t so honest I think, more like LBO-types. It was painful because we were locked out of any say in what happened to the movie for all that time. Image was the best and last video distributor because at least they gave us reports, although the money went to another entity that also went “bankrupt.”

BrooklynRocks: Your film ends right around the end of the original lineup of X. What did you think about Billy Zoom leaving the band?

Alizabeth: Dave and Tony are great, amazing guitarists. No one can sound like either one of them. And no one can sound like Billy Zoom. Can you imagine Led Zepplin with a different singer singing "Stairway to Heaven" at a concert when you have the original album version with Robert Plant? Doesn’t work. Has nothing to do with the capability and artistry of the other guitarists. Different personalities, different sounds. X’s sound had become iconic by then, so it was a no-win for anyone trying to step into Billy’s shoes.

John and Exene broke up, before that, though, so, it was a bad time for the band.

BrooklynRocks: Can you talk a bit about some of the other projects you have been working on and what’s next for you?

Alizabeth: I co-produced, with Bill, an interactive CD-Rom for Microsoft and Kevin Costner called, 500 Nations, from the original Jack Leustig 8-hour documentary on the history of Native Americans, which I’m proud of.

Bill and I are working on a documentary on Indian gaming and how it affects various tribes, which is an interesting phenomenon, controversial, even amongst the tribes. So, I like that. We all have a perspective, it just depends on where you’re standing.

I’m toying with an app for the iphone and iPad, which I can’t talk about unless it gets further along.

Someone approached Bill about doing a sequel to The Unheard Music. At first, I couldn’t see it and didn’t see a way in. But now I understand documentary a bit more and can see other ways to create the personal perspective I need to identify with. I’m not willing to do it for free, or to work behind the scenes for so long anymore, so we’ll see.

X (the band)

Monday, February 13, 2012

HotChaCha - Cleveland Agit-Punk Band Plays Two NYC Shows in March

HotChaCha is a Cleveland-based art punk band composed of Jovana Batkovic (vocals), Greg Gebhard (guitar/keyboard) and Roseanna Safos (drums). The band does not have a permanent bassist, but utilizes fill-in bassists on tour. The band plays a progressive rock influenced by a blend of shoegaze and punk. -- Wikipedia


HotChaCha has been touring incessantly over the past few years --- traversing the East Coast, the South, and Midwest countless times --- refining their over-the-top live show. Front woman Jovana Batkovic is one of the most engaging live performers we've ever seen --- out in the audience, up on the bar, or down on the stage --- she has the unique ability of making the audience an integral part of the experience.

The band is playing two NYC shows in March - the first is on Saturday, March 3rd at Brooklyn Fire Proof (119 Ingraham Street) and the second is March 25th at Cake Shop where the band is playing with Electric Eel Shock from Japan.

The band has undergone a few lineup changes in the past year but they continue to incorporate elements of post-punk, dance, and new wave that creates an entrancing environment that brilliantly balances the delicate and the forceful.

*Joining HotChaCha on the March 3rd date will be Upstate New York's, Summer People. These two bands have spent a lot of time together on the road in the past year that led us to release the limited edition 12" Split-EP, "Do It", which featured 4 songs by each band.