Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Lightning Bug Situation’s Right Words

WXPN’s The Key points us to Philly-via-San-Fan-via-Lancaster‘s  The Lightning Bug Situation, which brings me back to seventh grade and my English teacher’s Mark Twain words construction-papered on the bulletin board: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”  Well, The Lightning Bug Situation have found the right sounds, at least for my welldocumented need for gentle music on Monday mornings.  Their first Philly album, Call, is full of minimal electronic/folkpop pairings that evoke Iron and Wine, José González, and the softer side of Yo La Tengo. Confidential to Lightning Bug: we welcome your return, but the lyric “running through the city with the iPod in your hand” better be about Philly. Too gorgeous a song to be about the land of Giants. East-Coast-vs-West-Coast beef!

The Lightning Bug Situation, “For Nancy, with a Bruised Heart” [Buy]

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Turkey Daze

Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  The leaves have been stretching themselves out to catch as many timid autumn rays as possible before turning brittle and brown.  Pilsners and IPAs are giving way to porters and stouts.  Perhaps the hopes of Philadelphia sports fans, ultimately dashed by our beloved Phillies, are beginning to get up again, so that the Eagles may ultimately dash them.

And Americans from coast to coast are preparing to commemorate something by surrounding themselves with family to watch football, talk politics, and (most importantly) gorge themselves stupid with the year’s bountiful harvest.  We’ll feast upon all of the side dishes that made this country great and help ourselves to serving after serving of my least favorite poultry.

Except that this post isn’t about that kind of turkey, it’s about the country that Allen Iverson, strangely, now calls home.  Haha.  Bait and switch.

This past summer, Bouzouki Joe records released Turkish Freakout, an excellent and well-researched compilation of 1970s psych-folk singles, such as Ersen’s 1973 hit, “Gunese Don Cicegim.”

Check it out:

Turkey is often referred to as the meeting point between East and West, a statement verified by this selection of choice Turkish grooves. The western rock, psych, funk and jazz influences that began to be incorporated into traditional Turkish sounds during the late 60s and 70s can be heard here, as the Anadolu pop sound of Turkeyma balanced these new elements with the complex sounds and rhythms developed over many years. All tracks are referenced from their original 7 inch releases, painstakingly tracked down from various sources in and around Istanbul. The marriage of these styles is original, captivating and bound to freak you out.

Ersen, “Gunese Don Cicegim” [Buy Turkish Freakout]

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Faster than a speeding GoDaddy

…and we’re back.   NoiseNarcs, Hostgator.  Hostgator, NoiseNarcs. Now that we’ve all been introduced, it’s probably okay to note how the site looks like crap.  We’ll work on that.  But posting will resume.

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Putting Noise Narcs on the sidelines, Pulp will take us back

Bad news: You may have noticed that Noise Narcs has been incredibly unresponsive of late. So over the next week, we’ll be switching to a new host. Which means that this is the last post for this week.

Good news: Pulp has announced they’re touring next week. PULP!

“Is this the best news you’ve heard all year?” is one of many adequately cheeky questions popping up on Pulp’s official website right now. It’s an apropos query: All the original members of the iconic Sheffield band– Jarvis Cocker, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Steve Mackey, Russell Senior, and Mark Webber– are set to reunite for a string of shows next summer, starting with a headlining slot at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival on May 27. The only other date announced thus far is at London’s Wireless Fest on July 3, but more are to follow according to a poster on their Facebook (which you can view below).

This is exciting.

The band’s Facebook also states that this is the first time all original members will perform on a stage together since August 24, 1996. (The last Pulp gig took place in December 2002 at Rotherham, England’s Auto Festival.) You can sign up for updates on the reunion at the band’s site.


Pulp, “Mis-Shapes” [Buy]

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Upcoming Shows: Dandy Warhols w/ Hopewell, 11/7, Philly

Hopewell mound from Ohio

I was all excited, after Hopewell’s management asked us to write about their upcoming show with the Dandy Warhols this Sunday, to talk about the Native American Hopewell tradition. What a cool source for a band name, I thought. The Hopewell tradition spanned societies of the Eastern United States, from 200-500 CE, and was a sort of pax romana. A period of extensive trade throughout the area and, anthropologists suspect, significant peace. Plus, who doesn’t love the cool mysterious mounds the societies left behind?

Well, unfortunately for my desire to talk about 1500 year old Native American trading societies, Hopewell are from Hopewell Junction, NY, so the connection is… slightly less direct. Regardless (and shhh… don’t tell the indie rock police or they’ll take away all my Belle and Sebastian records), I do have a fondness for bombastic, psychadelic space rock. So Hopewell makes up for their name-tease. Filling space rock with the sounds of Jane’s Addiction (whom they cover on their new Hopewell Live: Volume 1). It certainly doesn’t hurt that on the downtempo songs lead singer Jason Russo has a definite Jason Lytle thing going on. And if you didn’t know Lytle’s work in Granddaddy, solo, or in last year’s Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse collaboration, then thanks to me you finally have an answer to the question: What’s your favorite song from the perspective of a broken machine?

Hopewell, “Of Course (Jane’s Addiction cover)” [Buy Hopewell Live Volume One]
Hopewell, “Synthetic Symphony” [Buy The Birds of Appetite]
Grandaddy, “I’m on Standby” [Buy Sumday]

Hopewell are opening for The Dandy Warholls on Sunday at the Electric Factory. The Dandys…. Well, I can’t say I listened to more than a track or two from their last two albums (with, um, good reason), but I still have a major crush on their hopelessly and wonderfully shallow take on bobo life in Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, from (oh my God I’m old what happened to the past decade) 2000. Plus, their most recent release is a greatest hits, which gives me hope that The Dandys will hit mostly their heart of the material. Plus, if DiG! is any indication, Hopewell probably threw a party last night on a Hopewell mound, and the Dandys showed up the next morning for a photo shoot of a party they didn’t attend. I kid, I kid: I love me some Dandy Warhols.

Dandy Warhols, “Godless (Extended Outro) [Buy The Capitol Years: 1995-2007]

Dandy Warhols w/ Hopewell, Sunday, November 7th, 8PM, Electric Factory. Buy Tickets.

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Leon Russell and Elton John, "There Is No Tomorrow"

Has anyone ever seen Leon Russell and Walt Whitman in the same place at the same time? Think about it.

Upset about election results?  Living in a “blue state” [see what I did there]?  In what turned out to be a real nail-biter of a race, Pennsylvania is sending Washington its newest Most Conservative Senator, and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act, has been replaced by someone who thinks it “inappropriate” for a member of congress to be publicly critical of taking military action.  Also, the bootleggers, prison union and alcohol lobby proved too much for California’s Prop 19.

Well, then here’s something to pick up your spirits.  “There’s No Tomorrow” is from the recently released Leon Russell/Elton John collaboration Union.

Elton John and Leon Russell, “Theres No Tomorrow” [Buy Union]

I actually saw Leon Russell a few years ago at a pretty awful Allentown, PA venue with a name that strangely foreshadows this year’s collaboration, Crocodile Rock Cafe.  I remember an awesome rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.”  As a bonus, here’s one of my favorites, from Russell’s Carney (1972).

Leon Russell, “This Masquerade” [Buy Carney]

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Fretboards & Circuit Boards

Chico Mann - Analog DriftBack in March, pop critic Oliver Wang posed a question to readers of his blog, Soul-Sides.comCan any of my musicological-oriented readers out there opine on why “electro” production is appealing? By “electro” I mean things like synthesizer chords that are clearly mechanical in source (i.e. can’t be created using any acoustic instrument, amplified or not).

It’s a great question — what’s the appeal of inorganic sounds? Thinking back to that Raymond Scott collection that came out a while ago, I’d have to say novelty and otherworldliness are two big elements of that appeal, or at least were at the start.

In Jon Pareles’s review of this weekend’s Moogfest he covers this very topic, and drills down further. There’s the analog vs. digital synthesizer debate — do you prefer your synthetic tones to be continuous electronic signals or chopped up into 0s and 1s? Which is more real? Pareles seems to come down on the side of the analog purists, writing that “Analog sounds are a funky corrective to sterile digital tones; colliding waveforms make a beautiful noise.” But overall, for Pareles, the festival was one of “synthetic tones that grew to feel natural.”

Of course, now certain synthetic sounds are just another part of the pop palette, they do feel natural, and thanks to their widespread use, especially in the ’80s, they can readily evoke a host of meanings, from retro cool (think 808 hand claps) to straight-up cheese (see “Red Rose for Gregory” in my previous post).

Antibalas guitarist Marcos Garcia has been mixing afrobeat and Latin grooves with drum machines and synths for a few years now under the moniker Chico Mann. Last week his latest album, Analog Drift, was released on Wax Poetics Records.

Chico Mann - Analog Drift: Muy...EsniquiAn earlier version of this album, called Analog Drift: Muy​.​.​.​Esniqui, dropped in 2009, and I listened to it a lot when it first came out. It was released on CD in limited quantities, and it was also available on the Chico Mann bandcamp page. That album has since been taken down, but the individual tracks are still up and findable with some Googling (e.g., here and here).

The songs on the new Analog Drift, like the old version, and most of the stuff on the artist’s Manifest Tone series, follow a simple formula: one or two guitars lay down an afrobeat-style groove, an 808-sounding drum machine provides the beat, synth bass, leads, and pads fill out the sound, and (sometimes) repetitive, chant-like vocals (in English and/or Spanish) float on top. Some of the tracks have enough bleeps and boops and buzzes for an old-school video game, and the album art of both versions — Sim ziggurat and 8-bit caricature — clearly evokes that aesthetic. It’s fun and hypnotic. Novel and retro. Warm analog and cool digital. Spacefunk en Español.

Chico Mann, “Guardalo (El Silencio)” [Buy Analog Drift]

Just ’cause, here’s some Earth-bound, down-and-dirty Antibalas:

Antibalas, “Pay Back Africa” [Buy Who Is This America?]

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Don't Vote

Cass McCombs Catacombs

Your Uncle had an old saying:
“If you don’t vote, then you can’t complain”
Sizing up candidates first election day,
you thought, “I’m 18 and have no opinion either way”

You had a lot of friends but no peers
Could you imagine this could drag on four more years!
If one day you had more peers than friends,
It’s because your means caught up with your ends

Jaws are wagging, “The 1 or the 2?”
Eager to put John Hancock on the “who’s who”
Voting seemed almost like a disease
An absolute a day, if you’re feeling ill-at-ease

You thought about becoming a cop
Any job with a helmet in case of a drop
You did what anyone else would do in your place
You toyed with the idea of entering the race

Instead of living in your own filth,
You had the nerve to think crop could spring from your tilth
You were called “Diva” by a protective young man
They still call you every name they can

It must be hard sometimes not to complain,
But that’s the deal your Uncle once explained
If not choosing was accepted as a trade,
Not voting would be the smartest choice you’ve made

– Cass McCombs, “Don’t Vote” (from my third favorite album of 2009 Catacombs)

Cass McCombs, “Don’t Vote” [Buy]

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