Monthly Archives: September 2010

Ticket Giveaway: Pavement @ Mann Center, Philly, Friday, 9/17

In the last 36 hours I’ve listened to all the Pavement on my iPod in chronological order, albums, EPs, B-sides. 122 songs, seems both like a lot and not enough. Conclusions? Fewer low points than I had expected: Pavement hits relentlessly off the sweet spot in the bat. (Speaking off sports, did you know that Stephen Malkmus is a huge fantasy sports guy? Who knew? Chuck Klausterman, that’s who; his Pavement piece in GQ is worth a read.)

I have an extra Pavement ticket for tomorrow’s show at the Mann in Philadelphia, with Noise Narc favorite Kurt Vile opening. Section A, Row Q: 21 rows from the stage (and yes, you can use it to go sit on the lawn with your friends). And I’m giving it away.

Join our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and then tweet/post on our wall/write on a postcard: “Dad, they broke me.” Winner will be chosen tomorrow by noon, and we’ll figure some way to get you the ticket.

Three song picks, a forgotten B-side reworking favorite proving that Pavement could country barnstorm, a song about listening to your grandmother’s advice about Ezra, and a Kurt Vile tent revival.

Pavement, “Slowly Typed” [Buy]
Pavement, “Silence Kit” [Buy]
Kurt Vile, “I Know I Got Religion” [Buy]

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Google Music: LaLa on steroids

Billboard has an exclusive outline of Google’s in-the-works music service. Browser-based, ability to stream all of your music from any computer, also via mobile apps, and… the ability to stream any track once AND the ability to include in your library any music on your hard drive, legally acquired or no. Details are sketchy, not sure if the labels will get on board, but an intriguing replacement to Lala, for sure. MOG and Rdio beware…

[Billboard via Techcruch]

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New Stuff

My favorite album from last week, good experimental electronica to write to from Gold Panda’s mixmaster Derwin:

Gold Panda

Gold Panda: “You” [Buy]

The experimental:

New York outfit Mice Parade plays around with various genres on their well-titled album What It Means to Be Left-Handed, an interesting, although perhaps not start-to-finish compelling, release. The first track plays with African instrumentation and somewhere near the middle, they cover the Lemonheads’ Mallo Cup, what ends up being the most accessible song on the album, although a disappointingly straightforward cover.

Mice Parade: “In-Between Times” [Buy]

The hyped:

Kings of Leon: “Radioactive” from their upcoming (October) full release

The jury’s out on:

There’s nothing offensive or particularly intriguing about Junip’s release release Fields. Junip is Jose Gonzalez, whose music I like very much, plus two others whose contributions to the album are kind of hard to note, and that’s why my early reaction to the album is not terribly positive. Junip is basically Gonzalez with a little pip. What I love about an artist such as Erlend Oye is that in each of his side projects (such as Kings of Convenience), I recognize his voice, but the different sound compels me to ask, “is this Erlend Oye?” Not the case here. Although this track probably has the most aural interest:

Junip: “Sweet & Bitter” [Buy]

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New Music Tuesdays: the Black Angels, "Telephone"

Back at the end of June, when the Black Angels leaked “Bad Vibrations,” the first single off their upcoming third full-length album, I marked Sept 14 on my calendar.  Phosphene Dream is out today and right now they’re streaming the whole thing free from their website.

If you are a fan of the psychedelic sounds of the late 60s/early 70s, and I believe it has been conclusively demonstrated (with graphs!) that we are, then do yourself a favor and check out their performance on David Letterman of a song thematically similar to but in most other ways quite different from “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child.

Here’s the album version:
The Black Angels, “Telephone” [Buy]

Posted in Minutemusic, New Music Tuesdays | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Upcoming Shows I Can't Wait For: Bear in Heaven/Sun Airway

Back in March, I saw Bear in Heaven take the undercard for Cymbals Eat Guitars at Johnny Brenda’s. A few notable things happened:

1.) WXPN favorites Freelance Whales lived up to their name: intolerable, unforgivable cuteness.
2.) Bear in Heaven stole the show outright. Absolutely incredible. Seriously vying for my favorite live performance of the year. I liked the album going in; I loved it going out.
3.) So stunned by the Bear in Heaven show, especially their Animal-like drummer, I stumbled to the bathroom and struck up a conversation with a stranger. “So, which band are you here to see?” Note to self: Don’t ask the lead singer of the headlining band that.

In June, I saw Sun Airway play a set at Johnny Brenda’s. Two notable things happened:

1.) They played well but only a few songs.
2.) Their projected visuals, from Klip Collective (see above), were amazing.

How’s the math go? 3 + 2 = 6? New WXPN blog The Key just announced that Sun Airway, with an upcoming album’s worth of material, will be opening for Bear in Heaven at Johnny Brenda’s on November 17th [Buy Tickets]. Circle of life. WXPN, consider yourself forgiven for Freelance Whales.

Previously posted:
Bear in Heaven, “Lovesick Teenagers” [Buy]
Sun Airway, “Waiting on You”

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Hot Tub Rock Show Hangover

This past week, Noise Narcs answered the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see all of the responses, jump in the hot tub.

It always happens: you get in your hot tub, whack a few sixers, go back in time, see some shows, and Monday morning you’re hungover and all the talking you’re capable of goes towards figuring out what happened the past week.

It’s been a lot of fun reading everybody’s list this week. From Chris T’s insightful parsing of time travel desires to Matt’s run through of WMGK’s playlist (I keed, I keed) to Material Live’s reluctant but then overflowing list to Katherine’s jump into mod to Trent’s attempt to get in pocket to my own lists… it’s been a great and fun insight into the Noise Narcs’ hive mind.

A few observations among the six contributers and 29 choices: a surprising paucity of jazz, the century’s great live at (3), relatively few repeats (two each for Led Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, and James Brown), and an unsurprising cluster of acts in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, I think we could all be relatively happy in the period from, say, 1968-1972.

Thanks to all the Noise Narcs contributors for humoring me in this silliness.

If there’s anybody who understands our post-Hot Tub pain, it’s Johnny Cash, song courtesy of Kris Kristofferson.

Johnny Cash – Sunday Morning Coming Down (live)

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Hot Tub Rock Show: David G’s Last Call List, Pt. 2

This week, Noise Narcs answers the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see other responses, jump in the hot tub.

This is part two of David G’s Hot Tub Time Machine post, listed in chronological order. See Part 1 here.

3. Velvet Underground, 1966-1967

I’m not alone in seeing VU as the blueprint for our current generation’s music. All of the Hot Tub posts have been heavily slated to the ’60s. But if acts like the Stones and Beatles and Jefferson Airplane defined “60s music,” the Velvet Underground deformed it. As other music shot to the top of the charts, the Velvet Underground played music that would bubble up from the sewers: shaped noise, not pretty songs with sass and “substance,” was the real rock of the 1960s.

I can barely imagine the shock of their mid-60s live shows. This was the Billboard top 10 for 1966:

1. "The Ballad of the Green Berets," Sgt. Barry Sadler
2. "Cherish," Association
3. "You're My Soul and Inspiration," Righteous Brothers
4. "Monday, Monday," The Mama's and The Papa's
5. "96 Tears," ? and The Mysterians
6. "Last Train to Clarksville," The Monkees
7. "Reach Out I'll Be There," Four Tops
8. "Summer In the City," Lovin' Spoonful
9. "The Poor Side of Town," Johnny Rivers
10. "California Dreamin'," The Mama's and The Papa

Meanwhile, Velvet Underground was playing with Nico on Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable tour, with dancers (e.g., Edie Sedgwick), Warhol film projections, and miscellaneous performances by members of Warhol’s Factory. VU would play songs from their upcoming debut, and they would frequently end their shows with a jam they were calling “Booker T” (see my earlier Booker T and the MGs obsession), which would eventually form White Heat‘s chilling “The Gift.” What it comes down to, my fellow Narcs, is what side of the street are you on? The top 10? Or the VU?

Decent sounding bootlegs for this era are scarce, but Youtube user groovemonzter has taken a riotous live recording of “Run, Run, Run” from 1969 and mashed it with Warhol video from the Exploding Plastic Inevitable show. Pick your side wisely:

The Velvet Underground, “Run, Run, Run (Live, 1969)”

Kölsch in a Can (yuck, yuck)

4. Can, 1971-1973, Cologne, Germany

I know: this makes me the worst, a cliché right out of LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” (“I was there in 1968 / I was there at the first Can show in Cologne”). But if, as Matt K observes, the spiritual end of the 60s was The Rolling Stones’ disaster at Altamont, then Can is the sound of the 1960s being torn limb from limb. Even their name is an backronym for “communism, anarchism, nihilism.”

The date range is arbitrary, I’d be equally happy with the 1968-71 lineup that featured Malcolm Mooney as the lead singer (before his nervous breakdown led his psychiatrist to conclude Can’s music was bad for his mental health). But the period from ’71 to 74, with the subdued intensity of Japanese street singer Kenji “Damo” Suzuki at the helm, is when they truly hit their stride. Sure, it’d have been amazing to have been at their infamous six hour concert in Berlin (a walk in the park for the band: classic “Yoo Doo Right” was edited down from a twenty hour improv jam). But I’d rather see them on their home turf of Cologne, drinking Kölsch after Kölsch, as Can played their hypnotic pysch-funk until the world was rendered senseless.


Can, “Paperhouse (Live)”


Can, “Spoon (Live, Cologne 1972)”

5. Morphine, 1989-1990, Boston

In every way this is a stupid, wrong answer. Go ahead and close your eyes and ignore this; pretend I chose wisely and picked Nina Simone and embedded her un-embeddable “He Was Too Good to Me” from her gig at The Village Gate. But I didn’t. Like many foolish men before me, I got seduced by a fantasy:

I’m in Boston, a town I like but don’t love. I’m alone. After passing dreadful Irish™ bar after dreadful Irish™ bar, I give up and enter one. “Hey, where you going, $5 cover.” Seriously?“Yeah. Band tonight. Morphine.” Stupid name, I think as I pay and belly to the bar. Band has just started its set. Bass, drum, and sax, a stupid gimmick that I ignore. I drink, elbows on the bar, trying to figure out what I’m doing in Boston, what I’m doing with my life, what my next beer will be. And then I hear it. That sound. That goddamn driving sound, that sax slipping into every crevice of a stone rock groove. I push the guy in the stool next to me, sure that this has to be the opener, Who is this? He shrugs. And then they switch gears. A ballad. All that rock drive, all that forward groove, disappears. And my heart drops into my stomach, and any hope of finding whatever I came to Boston for slips from the face of the earth.

You’re probably asking, how would this work? Would the time machine also be an amnesia machine? Don’t you think Morphine would probably have packed a crowd in their hometown even in their early days? What kind of lame variation on the gem-in-the-corner-bar dream is this?

And to that, I say: screw you and your belief in an imaginary time machine. Go listen to Nina Simone, you sissy.

Morphine on a really lame-seeming French TV show:

And the ballad that dropped my imaginary heart:
Morphine, “You Look Like Rain (Live, Bootleg Detroit, 1994)”

6-10. Pavement

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Hot Tub Time Machine: David G's Last Call List, Pt. 1

This week, Noise Narcs answers the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see other responses, jump in the hot tub.

This is part one of David G’s Hot Tub Time Machine post. See Part 2 here.

There is really only two good things about being a music blog’s editor: you can break your own rules and split a post into two parts. And every once in a while, you get to do what you couldn’t get away with at the bar: close out the argument and pretend your choices are the ultimate.

Even though I was the one who insisted on this list and have been asking barstool neighbors and bartenders this question for months, I’m having a lot of trouble coming up with my list of top 5 bands I’d time travel to see in their prime. Sure, it’s difficult to parse exactly what’s important (ha ha) in going back in time to see a show, as Chris and Material Lives have both pointed out. But that’s not my problem. My problem is that I’m going see Pavement next Friday. Pavement. And I have sweet seats. And did I mention that I’m seeing Pavement?

So right now, I’m having a lot of difficulty not just ranking Pavement 1-5. Or, for that matter, using my imaginary time machine to jump a week AHEAD to the show (and, why not, travel back in time first, so I could switch my 12th row tickets for 1st row). But, well, that’s probably not entirely a good idea. And, since I set up the rules, I might as well obey them.

My list, in chronological order, is guided by three principles. That choosing a live show should both be about the brilliance of the artist live and, to a lesser degree and in the most etymological playful of the word, the momentousness of the show. And that there’d be some lack of 20/20 vision about the concert: at a fickle artist, you could end up time traveling back to see a dreadful show. In short, I’d time travel to see an act with it feet planted fiercely in the now of the past, with one eye cocked to the future. Of course, my list cheats all over the place.

John Coltrane's house in West Philly: Did they stay here?

1. The Miles Davis Sextet, Philadelphia, 1958

Tenet #1: No musician in the twentieth century had as great an artistic output in a year as Miles Davis did in 1958. Go ahead, ignore that he created his greatest album, Porgy and Bess, that year. But playing with a (drug-free) Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Philly Joe Jones, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Red Garland, and Jimmy Cobb. Recording Milestones? Undeniable.

Tenet #2: No group of musicians ever assembled played together were as great or played as well as the Miles Davis Sextet of 1958. John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Miles Davis. I’ll respect you if you’d argue the first or second Classic Quintet, but not that much.

Tenet #3: Some of my friends have been replaced with pod people. For the Noise Narcs who love Miles Davis (Chris T, Trent W) and wouldn’t use a time machine visit to see Miles in this incarnation, I have to wonder: what have you done with my friends? There are at least three musicians in this lineup worth wasting a time travel trip separately for.

In 1958, Davis invited my favorite jazz pianist, Bill Evans, to try out for the sextet in Brooklyn. Several days later, Evans joined them in Philadelphia as part of the greatest sextet of all time. I love Philly so much I’d probably waste a time machine trip just to see it in its 1950s heyday. Getting to see Bill Evans first gig with the sextet in Philly? Sign me up, friend, and how do you want me to deliver my first born? FedEx? Delorean? Also, do I get to stay at either Coltrane’s or Philly Joe Jones’ Philadelphian homes?

I can’t find a recording of that Philly show, but these recording at New York’s Plaza Hotel in 1958 and Newport 1958, will have to do. Oh my will they do.

Miles Davis Sextet, “My Funny Valentine (Live, 1958 Sessions)” [Buy]
Miles Davis Sextet, “Two Bass Hit (Live, 1958, Newport)” [Buy]

2. James Brown, Apollo Theater, 1962

Jesus’ Son is not a very good movie. It does, however, have the definitive line on music.

FH: I wanna know everything about you. All of it.
Michelle: Ask me.
FH: Like, like, what do you like?
Michelle: Like what?
FH: Well, like, what kind of music?
Michelle: James Brown

Exactly. What kind of music do I like? James Brown.

Specifically, the kind of music that James Brown was playing in the early 1960s, while he was still transitioning from soul to funk, when soul was bleeding through his funk, and funk through his soul. Specifically, the kind of music that he was playing with his spotless band on October 24th, 1962 at the Apollo Theater, which he captured, using his own money, on arguably the best live disc of all time. But really, the specifics don’t matter: my kind of music is James Brown.

James Brown, “Try Me (Live at the Apollo, 1962)” [Buy]

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Hot Tub Rock Show: Material Lives

This week, Noise Narcs answers the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see other responses, jump in the hot tub.

I have to admit that I’ve not been keen on making this retro-fit bucket list and have been dragging my feet a little, largely because I am not obsessed with live performances, for the very reasons that have likely influenced all of our lists: shows these days are largely stripped down, more about selling merch, and involve bands getting on stage and sounding exactly like themselves. I keep trying, but it’s a rare case when a show in Madison or Milwaukee that should be uproarious (Of Montreal, for instance) is outfitted with a crowd that’s not totally footloose.

There are times when sitting in a seat and passively listening is good, like when I’m in the dentist’s office and rocked out on nitrous oxide. Or when the music calls for it, as was the case when I saw Sigur Ros, whose purpose seems to be to call for the type of reminiscence that only happens when you’re glued to one spot. Otherwise, you might fall down.

But there’s also something to venue fit. A number of years ago, we lost our indie darling venue, the Catacombs coffee house, when the church that housed it decided that the young kids who ran it were not “evangelical” enough. Turns out that “evangelical” meant “We want to rent this space to Subway and make $$$.” We lost the $3 daily organic, local lunches the coffee house provided and also the space where I first saw Stars, Smog, and Ida. The only other performer who of late got outfitted with just the right spot was Joanna Newsom, who played in our student union’s Great Hall, a remarkable room, one that provided the quiet echo her music demands.

So when I think about what shows I’d like to have seen, I’m not thinking about technical skill; I’m thinking about the energy of a particular moment in time, a time when people were hearing something new or thinking they were, experiencing the transformative power of a crowd, or witnessing an artist on the verge of popular or underground stardom. And I’m thinking about the sensory aspect of place. Or so I am telling myself in order to make this list cohere.

1. Elvis. Despite people’s claims that Elvis simply rearticulated the musical forms and body movements he learned from the blues musicians whom he learned his trade from, Elvis still popularized rock-n-roll and transformed the musical landscape of his time. If you ask your parents or grandparents what it was like seeing Elvis in the 50s, they’ll likely tell you how shocking it was to see a man move his hips the way he did and sound like he did. Katherine Hepburn once said, “I don’t know what starpower is, but whatever it is, baby I’ve got it.” And she is so right that it’s hard to fault her hubris. When you are faced with a performer with starpower, charisma that is beyond anything knowable or traceable, it is something else. I felt this when seeing Phoenix’s Thomas Mars perform live the year of the band’s debut album’s release. I must admit that every time I see Elvis’ face, I turn into a melty teenager. He had the looks, but he had that indefinable something else. And that’s why I understand both the police force presence in the below vid, but also the sentiments of the woman who storms the stage, which he seems to find amusing.

2. Björk, circa early 1990s. Björk is one of our genius vocalists and performers, a person who bends her chords in unimaginable ways. I knew a girl whose father took her on a trip to Iceland and then, mid-plane, surprised her with Björk concert tickets. I wanted to trade parents. I accidentally saw Björk perform with the Sugarcubes in the late 80s, when my cousin and I stayed out later than we were supposed to at New York’s Jones Beach (at least that’s where my memory is telling me this took place) and happened upon their concert. And believably, Björk was just as audible from the parking lot. Still, the Sugarcubes do not equal Björk, and Björk’s recent albums do not equal what her debut, Post, and Homogenic were.

Björk, “The Modern Things (Live)”

See the rest of Material Lives’ picks after the jump…

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Umm…Sort of.

I realize it is Hot Tub Time Machine week, but this story couldn’t wait.

One day last year I noticed that one of the students I teach was wearing a The Dead Milkmen t-shirt in class. If my memory serves me correctly it was this shirt: Dead Milkmen

He is a very cool, intelligent, and curious kid. I still found it a little odd for an 11-year old to be wearing a t-shirt from a Philadelphia punk rock band. I asked him, “Do you like The Dead Milkmen?”

His response was, “Umm…Sort of.” And that was pretty much the end of that conversation. We went on with the lesson and I pretty much forgot about the shirt.

Today while checking out the lineup for the Northern Liberties Music Festival, which is this Saturday starting at 5 pm, I figured out that what was hidden in his classic, deadpan “Umm…sort of” was the fact that his father was in the band!

Here is the video for The Dead Milkmen’s biggest commercial hit from 1988, “Punk Rock Girl.” It’s more than “sort of” good.

Posted in Random Noise | 2 Comments