January 31, 2008

Miracle Fortress - Five Roses - Secret City Records

Artist - Miracle Fortress
Title - Five Roses
Label - Secret City Records
Hometown - Montreal, Canada
Street Date - Out now

Bath taking isn’t exactly a secret pleasure of mine but it isn’t really one of those things I talk much about to friends no less strangers. Feeding my addiction to this relaxing past time has been a company called Lush from whom I mail order fresh handmade bath products just about quarterly. The trouble with them is they change up their catalog frequently so just when you fall in love with one of their products (in this case it was a bath bomb called No Worry Pas) they stop making it and replace it with something new.

First off what is a bath bomb you might be asking and what the hell does it have to do with a record review? A bath bomb is a giant ball of fizzy goodness and essential oils. You pop it into a filled tub and instantly it starts melting away like an Alka-Seltzer tab releasing fantastic smelling oils and occasionally dispensing things like flower pedals, seaweed, glitter, and or colorful confetti bits. The No Worry Pas bomb is difficult to explain because it didn’t really smell like the ingredients listed on its label of which I have now forgotten. What I do recall is the instant joy and pleasure it gave me. It smelled like baking bread being hugged by a giant comforter freshly washed and just pulled from the dryer. The scent and feeeeeel of cozy is a wonderful thing and the cruel people at Lush have taken this ever important sanity keeping product away from me. I've gone months without this bomb now and have been desperate to find something that blankets me in a similarly warm and snuggly fashion ever since.

This is where Miracle Fortress enters from stage left. Listening to a CD can be a bathing- like experience. The sounds and the core essence it is composed of wash over you- not just your ears but your entire body. I’ve been disappointed with reviews of this record so far (Pitchfork I am looking at you) because they fail to highlight the calming meditative melodies and warming layers of fuzzy goodness this record emits. This is more elegant than your typical shoegaze band and while I know people like to use Beach Boys references for Miracle Fortress, there are more modern day associations to apply here. White Birch, Rogue Wave, Aloha, Lavender Diamond, The Ruby Sons, and The Clientele all belong to that same dreamy club of textured sunshine pop that cast soft shadows along the way.

As coincidence would have it both Lush mail orders (back in the day) and Miracle Fortress come to me by way of Canada. Oh Canada!

It’s nearly impossible to say why it feels more like I am wearing this record than listening to it but ultimately this is how I embrace Miracle Fortress or I should say this is how Five Roses embraces me.

January 30, 2008

And Another Thing!

From Facebook:

Group Info Name: Independents Day 08
Type: Music - Indie

Description: Though we speak different languages, have different customs and backgrounds, our common bond is we all speak the language of independent music. We are the risk takers, the first not only spot trends but to start them. We take chances to open up minds and ears.

Independent music celebrates the cultural underpinnings of a country’s heritage. But how often, if ever, does independent music celebrate itself? How often has the world heard about us through a unified voice?

We'd like to introduce you to a very exciting special event, which we will be staging throughout the world, which needs your help and support to make this one of the most powerful initiatives the independent community has ever endeavored to create.

Independents Day will be a highly coordinated worldwide event to celebrate independent music through an historic on-line auction. We will be looking to you to offer items, such as rare recordings, autographed paraphernalia, night out with the band, etc., just use your imagination.... We will also create "official" Independents Day merchandise to be sold in conjunction with this event. A special steering committee is currently developing tools for all TA’s to use in order to make this event a smashing success.

During the weekend of July 4th, this multi-purpose event will raise money for WIN, the local trade organizations that host this event. Also, we will be creating a fund for developing countries who need our support to develop trade organizations in emerging new markets.

In addition, through a highly coordinated media campaign, Independents Day will provide our sector with unprecedented media attention spotlighting our strength, unity and growing importance in the global landscape.

With a lot of hard work and a little luck, this will be our shot heard around the world.

Contact Info Email: molly@simplesocialgraces.com
City/Town: New York, NY

National Record Store Day : April 19, 2008

Read all about it here.

Xui Xui Haiku

Hey wait that rhymes!

Check out this post from the band's website:


If you send in a photo of yourself holding a copy of the record "women as lovers" and answer a few questions, Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu will in return write a haiku about you.

January 29, 2008

Spicy Pork and Sweet Potato Chocolate Stout Braise

Soundtrack while cooking: Duke Ellington / John Coltrane S/T CD on repeat. For some reason melancholy Jazz was what I needed to hear while I cooked this.

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (SPICY!)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
3 garlic cloves
1 small onion
1 pickled jalapeno pepper stemmed
1 quick pour of olive oil
2 1/2 pounds of boneless pork shoulder or a loin could work too (boneless is key)
2 beer bottles of chocolate stout (12 oz ish) total (dark beer will work too)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of honey
2 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed

1.Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor for 1 minute until it thickens up.

2.In a dutch oven over medium high heat toss in some olive oil - enough to coat bottom of the pan and add pork cooking for about 6 minutes browning on all sides. Remove pork from pan.

3.Add chili mixture to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in beer as well as the sugar and honey. Scrape pan to loosen browned pork bits from the bottom. Add pork back in.
Add cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer - then reduce heat, cover, and walk away.

4.Stew should cook for at least two hours! Relax and have a beer. Watch a movie, listen to records...just don't keep checking on the pot.

5.Remove pork from pan and shred into larger pieces with two forks. After cooking for two hours the pork should be tender enough to tear apart easily.

Add pork back into the pot one last time and add the sweet potatoes. Simmer for another 20 minutes to soften sweet potatoes. Discard cinnamon stick and serve in bowls or in soft taco shells.

Serves 4-6 people depending on how big your appetites are.

A New Broadcast Record - YAY!

From the band site posted ages ago:

"Dear All, The new LP is still being recorded and won't be out until early 2008. Cheerio Martin "

All I can say is it is about time and I can't wait to hear it.

Add them to a long list of artists with new records coming this year: MBV, The Cure, Bauhaus (huh), Love is All, REM, Morrissey, Team Dresch, Alice in Chains (another huh.), Die! Die! Die!, The Breeders, Jason Collett, Los Campesinos!, Jay Reatard, Stephen Malkmus, Dead Meadow, Shout Out Louds (an ep), She & Him (Zooey Deschanel + M Ward), Kelley Stoltz, Xiu Xiu (out now I think), Sybris, Jamie Lidell, and Autechre to name a few.

Prinzhorn Dance School - S/T

Artist: Prinzhorn Dance School
Title: S/T
Label: DFA / Astralwerks
Hometown: UK
Street Date: Out now.

I've tried to add the band's site as a link in this post but it isn't working. Sorry about that!

Phooey on me. You can't hear every new record from year to year but God knows I try my best. Somehow Prinzhorn Dance School slipped by me. This gives me an extra feeling of sadness to miss since I spent ten years selling Astralwerks via Caroline but I digress. The end result is if I had heard this record last year it would have made my best of list.

During a shopping trio to Plan 9 a few weeks ago this CD was playing upstairs. It was towards the end of the night, the store was rather empty so the stark constrained tones of this two piece band sounded extra unnerving and startling. I knew it wasn't The Fall but the songs carried that kind if terse slightly uncomfortable vocal attack with a man shouting and a woman echoing the shouts hobgolbins, not liking change, and black bunkers. Why people yelling at me over minimal drums and bass/guitar repetitive lines spoke to me - who knows - but it did. I couldn't begin to guess who the group was so I became one of THOSE people at a record store. I asked what was playing and purchased it on the spot.

This is better than anything The Fall (in all its many incarnations) have done in years and is easily my favorite record DFA has have released.

January 28, 2008

Jack Penate - Matinee

Artist- Jack Penate
Title - Matinee
Hometown - UK
Label - XL Recordings
Street Date - Out Now

I have one word here. Chisel. If that doesn't ring a bell then I offer you Ted Leo. If that doesn't work either than Paul Weller is my final offer. Nothing in his press mentions Teddy or Paul as an influence or as an RIYL but I am throwing those names into the ring.
You can tell me "South London soul boy poet Jack Penate is the UK's best new singer-songwriter" all you want but my NJ pride is leaning towards the obvious. Nobody said it was a contest but Teddy Leo wins.

January 27, 2008

Thrash Sabbatical Box

Artists: Thurston Moore / Kevin Shields/ Barrabarracuda/ Men Who Can’t Love

Title: Thrash Sabbatical – Four Way Split

Label: Deathbom Arc

Street Date: Out Now and my guess is this is limited but to how many I have no idea.

Is the record playing at the right speed?
It is difficult to tell but I am following the instructions on each label.

Is the needle still on the record or is that the sound of my slip mat?
I keep turning around to double check.

Is that the sound of R2D2 being murdered?

Is that a deflating balloon run through pedals and an amp?
Could be.

Is that lawnmower trying to communicate?
Sounds like it.

Is that Thurston strumming away at something that is almost a song...completely collapsing the sound of chaos collected between two seven inchers and one 12”?
It appears to be so.

Most importantly I wonder how many people will buy this fancy pants hand screened box set thinking the shoegaze legend Kevin Shields has decided to collaborate with Thurston Moore. It seems totally plausible right?

Well the old and out of touch me has since learned that “Kevin Shields” is in fact a Noise act from L.A.. Actually this whole box features bands from the Los Angeles Noise scene as channeled by Mr. Moore and packaged up in a hand screened pizza box by Britt & Amanda of Not Not Fun. The final pièce de résistance is the green plastic lei one might find at a Party City location near you. I have to wonder if the lei colors will vary per box or of every box comes with a different random thingy. I guess you will need to buy a box set to find out - and then you can tell me what fun item yours came with.

After all these years I still don’t understand the genre of noise or 98.764 % of Thurston Moore’s non Sonic Youth material yet my better half however enjoyed the box set – very much so. He digs the sound of being pummeled in a dryer full of feedback. Looks like someone is getting a limited box set for his upcoming birthday.

January 25, 2008

No Kids: Come Into My House

From: Vancouver, Canada
Label: Tomlab
Street Date: 2/19

As my 92 year old Grandma Irma would say "That'sss niiice".

She says that to just about anything that doesn't sound like you are taking an offensive tone with her. She is basically deaf, even with hearing aids in, so "That's nice" is more like her way of showing us she is still awake, and finding whatever you might be saying pleasant enough.

No Kids write polite feather weight songs orchestrated like Efterklang on their tippy toes. Add in a licorice twist of R&B smooth jams and barber shop quartets that never reach any sort of climax and there you have it - one tepid collection of music.

If this listening to this record was like our first date, there wouldn't be a second one. This record is meant for somebody, just not me. Could you take this band and their record home to meet your parents or grandparents? Absolutely!

January 23, 2008

Cat Power - Jukebox

All I'm saying is if you are going to put a sassy picture of yourself striking a classic Mick Jagger pose, at least throw on one song that is a genuine rocker. ("New York" comes close but barely)

The roster of covers go from slow to slower which is fine if you are looking to dance with your head on your partner's shoulder but me thinks Chan's jukebox is a sleepy one.

As far as I am concerned her cover art is false advertising and I want my money back.

January 22, 2008

VA / Bippp (French Synthwave 1979-1985)

A historian of New Wave as a genre, no less French "No Future" New Wave, I am most certainly not.

My introduction to this world of music came from Hollywood in 1983 and a little film called Valley Girl. For a good 5 or so years my whole concept of this scene involved a vision of Nicolas Cage with frosted hair and a montage of cute date footage with the teen anthem "Melt with You" by Modern English blaring behind it. I fell in love with this punk sub genre instantly but looking back I am pretty sure it was more about a crush on "Randy" from the movie, not the totally bitchen soundtrack.

I've never been a huge fan of New Wave though I certainly own a few records that fall under the category but I've never dived deep into it and dug for buried treasure AKA deep catalog rarities. To this day when I hear synthed out pop I cringe and picture one of the kagillion 80's dance nights that plague our city where some frat types are throwing back shots as they sing along to Flock of Seagulls. Its a daily event in these parts and I swallow a little vomit just thinking about it. I also blame New Wave for the birth of Electroclash which I believe as an art form should have been aborted upon its conception.

Gag me with a coke spoon.

Artist: VA / BIPPP (French Synthwave 1979-85) - samples of the music can be heard here.
Label: Everloving via Ryko
Street Date: 2/12/2008

Keeping all of the above in mind I wasn't expecting to be wooed by a French New Wave collection of 7" rarities yet not only have I played this CD more than 5 times (a miracle according my usual listening habit) but there are at least 4 songs I would be willing to shell out big bucks for if I happened to stumble across them on Ebay.

Right now my biggest problem with the comp is the lack of information I can find on it. I have a paper sleeve advanced copy of the CD so maybe the final version will have incredibly detailed liner notes but I have to ask why the hell a label who has a new release coming out in under a month would not bother to post anything about the record for people to check out on their web page! ? ! ? ! I struggled to find anything about this domestic version and all I could find were a few sites talking about the very pricey import version. Even the link to the comp I have above is to the import version of the CD, not the new one. Everloving's site has a clock counting down the days, minutes, and seconds to this release but nothing else. Maybe mystery sells records for some labels but it annoys the hell out of me. It could be that I suck at surfing the web but I couldn't find anything on this new version no less about the history of French New Wave music to share here.

So....what can I tell you about this comp? It pretty much sounds like anyone with a decent imagination could guess it might sound like.

Minimal electronic music ala synth and the occasional drum machine with mostly French vocals. Think sterile. Think robot. Think bad haircuts and Pong. I did however find it interesting as to how many variations of New Wave exist just within this sliver of its illustrious history. "Ping Pong" by Act has an Echo and the Bunnymen spirit while "Touche Pas Mon Sexe" by The Comix could easily translate into a modern day Blink 182 song if you added guitar, bass, and an over tattooed drummer. (That sounds more repulsive than it actually is) I could play the name game here for hours but other artists that popped into my mind while listening to this collection varied from Trio to The Normal and if you were making a mix tape it could snuggle up against any Adult, Stereo Total, Gary Numan, or even a Jay Reatard song. If I was wearing a backwards baseball hat and chasing my jagerbomb with a light beer I would probably think I was listening to Duran Duran on the wrong speed.

13 tracks later you too might find the genre a little goofy, stiff, and poorly aged but for some reason, in this form, it works. The tracks flow nicely from one to the next and my attention is held the entire time. I like updating my music education any chance I can get so while I can't find anything decent to read about French New Wave my ears are making up for it with every listen of the well put together track listing of Bippp.

January 21, 2008

After : Read Me Last

I am what some people may refer to as a person who doesn't travel well. I am basically uncomfortable sitting in any moving vehicle (plane, train, automobile, or boat) that I am not driving and to spare friends and coworkers from a seizure of panic mixed with anxiety I heavily rely on pills to keep me well grounded during extended trips. In turn this parade of pills every 6 to 8 hours can lead to a very fuzzy me by the end of the day and after several days of this pattern the activities that fill the space between sunrise and sunset become a blur.

Post two days of record shopping after work (Amoeba and Freak Beat) I had a chance to catch up with old friends who as you could probably guess are tied into the wonderful world of music because, well, I don't have much of a life outside of the bubble of music. These aren't bragging rights, this is just the sad truth and to be fair besides the joy of seeing old and familiar faces, seeing people as equally married to music as I pathetically am, is a relief.

One friend is tied to Amoeba and also works as an animal handler on movie sets but for this story's purpose the most stunning aspect to her this trip was her Iron Maiden Vans. Needless to say I have purchased them since and I can't believe I didn't know about these shoes sooner.

My second friend is my oldest friend by via the years we have known each other, not age, and she works at Southern Lord- the king of all Doom and gloom record labels. Besides the Burning Witch long sleeve shirt and an abundance of new releases I have yet to listen to, the most brilliant thing about her is her ability to remain a non conformist as we count down our thirties. Where I feel a little out of the norm wearing a Paul Revere and the Raiders cape jacket and 60's mod red rain boots while waiting for her in the hotel lobby, in she walks with a hand painted hoodie that features branches and a trunk of a tree. I see something on each shoulder and as she moves towards me I realize she has a birds nest with tiny squirming yellow fake birds on her right side and a bird house with a small bird popping out (I think) on her left side. You would think at this point I would be asking "WHAT THE HELL????" while dragging her to my hotel room to change but this is a friend I have grown to love and I have learned to expect to see her in costumes rather than something you or I might consider evening wear. I tried to not make serious eye contact with her shoulders and opted to make direct eye contact while sipping on my whiskey. ( I should mention here she is also straight edge so bar time with her is ironic and vaguely pointless) My theory has always been if I behave like her outfit isn't absurd, then perhaps others around us will do the same. For the most part it usually works and rather than get embarrassed all I can do is ask if that is a real birds nest (it is) and what sort of battery pack she is wired up to. What can I say, I love the girl... moving electonic parts and all.

I don't really know what other girls gossip about but we spent the evening swapping tales about Sunno)) members knocking each other out, how to handle a primate on set, and the terrifying community of people (ex cons and society outcasts) who have decided to call the California deserts their home. We didn't spend much time talking about the records we have been listening to lately or the shows we had recently attended. I think for all of us a music time out is a nice and much needed change of pace.

Seeing Cornelius and Plaid perform live wasn't the highlight of my last night in Los Angeles, it was the venue the show took place in. This event was the final show of a two week festival called Concrete Frequency and it took place at Frank Gehry's magnificent Walt Disney Concert Hall. Neither artist featured that evening are a personal favorite of mine. Plaid = two dudes behinds laptops and mixers with Ninja Tune like graphics circa 2002 behind them and Cornelius = extravagant light show and big screen images to disguise otherwise repetitive quaint but sometimes noisy electronic tainted rock/pop songs. They seriously love chimes and funky bass lines. Trust me when I say that combination grows stale relatively quickly. I want to say the high point of the show was "Star Fruit Surf Rider" but it was in fact the architecture of the hall itself that kept me wide eyed and inspired. I can hardly call it a venue, it is a work of art you get to sit in the middle of. I have been known to get weepy with the right song but I felt choked up by a piece of architecture that was more alive than the people playing on the stage below.

So there it is, my trip to L.A. highlighted in my version of a yellow marker. There will be later posts about the records I mailed home. If there is one lesson I can share with you from past experiences: luggage + records = bad idea.

January 20, 2008

During : Read Me Second

Picture was borrowed from here and this is just one section of the store!

Whoever was quoted as saying "to travel is better to arrive" has clearly never been anywhere worth going to. It wasn't my turbulent flight to Iceland that warmed my heart nor was it the anorexic roads I often pondered "wait, are we still driving on an actual road?" that made my spirit soar. It was standing at Thingvellir among enormous tectonic plates spilling forth water at tremendous and angry speed that I thought yes, this very moment is the climax and release I had been waiting for.

Destination Amoeba may sound less exotic than sacred viking territory but it is sacred to me none the less. This kind of relationship with record stores may be disturbing to many but think how dull this tale would be if I said I went to some big record store and it was pretty cool I guess. I may own a sub par intellect and have even less of a talent to express it with words but darn it I am one passionate record collector. It brings me great pleasure to turn my obsessive love for music inside out and put it on display for all to shake their heads at.

As we searched for a parking space inside a multi level garage near the store I began my typical anal retentive check list of preparing to shop. Do I have my record wish list with me? Check. Do I want to keep my jacket on or suffer momentarily in the cold so I can shop without the hindrance of an extra layer? Jacket remained on. Do I leave my bag in the car and just bring my wallet or shall I lug the whole purse with me? The small bag came with me as it also carried my cell phone which may be needed at a later time. You never know what records you might find for a friend and a quick call to them will tell me whether or not a purchase should be made for them. My last personal shopping tick is making sure I have chapstick. This isn't a record store thing, I just hate having chapped lips. Once this list has been mentally worked over from beginning to end, I prepare to shop.

Entering Amoeba feels a little like what I imagine a kitten feels like when entering an airplane hanger. There is so much room to explore and play, so many stimulating items to investigate that for a brief moment anything seems possible and the feeling that follows is nothing short of bliss. There is something absolutely addictive about a controlled environment where literally endless discoveries await you. Your mining for sounds that your ears could exponentially benefit from hearing. Your senses could potentially be tickled in a way that is the audio equivalent to tasting Pop Rocks for the first time. One of the records you purchase and add to your collection could contain the song you walk down the isle to or rely upon during a bad break up. To the point, you just never know and I love the gamble of entering a store and unearthing God knows what.

The day after my trip to Amoeba a friend who works there was telling me some 300 people work at the L.A. location. Mind you they are not all there at the same time but I think that should help to give a stranger to the store the impression that this isn't your basic hole in the wall record store. Your experience there is truly the Moby Dick of record hunts only there isn't just one white whale, there are hundreds if not thousands.

My friend also shared with my a slightly intimidating bit of news as well. An older man recently collapsed and died at the Amoeba counter (or was it in line to the counter?) from a heart attack. People give up the ghost every second of every day, I understand this, but at a record store?


I have seen all types at record stores over the years but never a dead body. There doesn't seem to be an official news report about this incident (I hear death isn't great for business) but I can understand how one's heart might give out at this place. It truly is that epic and overwhelming on every possible scale.

One last tidbit of information about the store and it really doesn't get any more L.A. than this. They have a rule that reality TV shows are not allowed in their locations with cameras rolling. In fact they can't shoot inside at all. Celebrities are stripped to music fan status at this location (maybe all of them?) and realistically the star status people are the ones with name tags who get paid to be there. Take that Hollywood.

I spent just slightly over 2 hours weaving myself in and out of each row occasionally cursing under my breath because I am not tall enough to read with ease the CDs and LPs at the back of each row. I lost my friend within seconds of walking though the front door so my limited time there was spent alone without any distraction. (excluding the girl with black lip liner and no lisptick carrying something that looked like a whip who was blocking a portion of the "B" section) I moved as quickly as possible from isle to isle yet barely saw more than 1/10 of their stock. As someone who enjoys the feeling of completion in anything I start, I pouted on my way to the checkout section feeling like I had failed in my race against the clock.

On a good note, I made it out alive which is more than I can say for everyone.

Before : Read Me First

My countdown to shopping at the Los Angeles record store called Amoeba was a poorly lit one.

My coworkers had organized something I believe they considered to be a bonding time with me. Me being a comrade who works from home on the other side of the country and in a rare visit was working from their office for the week.

We crammed into cars some time after 6 and off we red light-green lighted down Ventura Boulevard towards a restaurant whose name I have already forgotten but has something to do with George Clooney. More importantly a generous friend was picking me up at the end of my meal and driving me with God speed to record store heaven. In a desperate attempt to grasp just how much shopping time I would be limited to with an 11 o'clock closing in addition to a guestimated hour and a half meal I noted the drive to the store was a mere 20 minutes away. If I skipped dessert I would have a maximum amount of 2 hours and 10 minutes to scavenge through their bins.


Even in the worst of worst record stores that isn't enough time. Yes, crap indeed. To be honest I have learned after multiple visits to Amoeba that a short amount of time is almost equal to no visit at all and if anything it is a cruel tiny taste of what should be a satisfying shopping experience.

Back to the bonding...

First of all it amazes me that most people valet park at L.A. eateries. I can't remember the last time I did something so decadent with my car but up to the door we drove and out we hopped with the car keys still in the ignition.

The second surprise of the evening was the large letter "A" grade posted by the door. Apparently instead of the normal listing menus and 4 star reviews in the window it is the law for all Los Angeles restaurants to post their health inspection grade. I have been told by the locals to never eat at a place that has anything below a "B" and with a "C" grade you are risking your life. I can only imagine what the various hot dog, gyro, and peanut carts I have eaten at during my stints in NYC would be grades as and more recently I have become paranoid and suspicious that Virginia does not offer restaurant goers the same courtesy.

We were seated immediately and never before have I been to a "posh" place with plastic rented wedding tent style walls. I imagine the dining room is usually open air during any other time excluding the Winter season and the permanent rippled metal roof (think crinkle cut potato) is in place to protect the pretty people (who don't really eat food) from the ever so occasional passing rain shower.

The 7 of us were seated around a table intended for a group closer to 5 in number. Knees touched under the table and instantly I lost track of whose glass belonged to who. Curiously the light was so dim we were forced to read our menus by cell phone light (I guess Mr. Cloonely prefers mood lighting set on moonless night). The food was excellent and delivered in a timely manner but it was honestly no more extravagant than any other fine food establishment I have been to in secondary cities. In comparison our "A" eateries have walls, bigger tables, and heat that doesn't exude from imposing heat lamps. Our fellow diners may not be "A", "B", or even "C" listers but on my side of the country we also have lighting that affords us the opportunity to see our menus and the gourmet priced like gold food on our plates.

The company I was among was easily the best part of this dining experience (even with their obsessive blackberry glances) , well that and my pour of Jameson on the rocks that matched the size of my clenched fist. I don't mean to sound like I am complaining but this hot spot felt more luke warm to me and poignantly too many miles from my final destination of the night.

Luckily and gratefully my ride appeared on time and off we sped to Hollywood. Yay!

January 13, 2008

Comus Reunion

It appears that the UK founders of damaged folk Comus are reuniting after 33 years of broken upedness to play a Swedish Fest in March of this year.

I have posted a track from their first record "First Utterance" on my MySpace page. You can listen to "The Prisoner" here.

January 12, 2008

Only in Richmond

would grown ups play Civil War reenactment in conjunction with the Virginia Historical Society Museum's exhibition on "Lee and Grant" opening day. At least that is the best answer I can come up with being that I have looked at 10 different "this day in American history" sites. Nothing monumental happened on January 12th during the Civil War ...unless you count General Kilpatrick being promoted in 1865.

Driving down Monument Ave. today in Richmond you can't miss the men dressed as Confederate soldiers pacing around the Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues as if they are protecting and guarding a sacred living being. Ohhh and then we have a pseudo old timey Civil War camp site set up at the base of the Lee Monument today too. Children carry little Confederate flags as they toddle around the statue holding tiny tribute to something they couldn't possibly fathom as sick or wrong.

This will be my 7th year living away from the Hoboken, NJ / NYC area and in Richmond Virginia and yet I still haven't gotten used to the nearly quarterly events that take place around town commentating the Civil War or more specifically the Confederacy.

I get it, Richmond was the Confederate capital but was is the key word there. This is 2008 and we live in a united country now. In this modern age you can't deny that generally speaking people associate the Confederacy and it's symbols with supporting slavery and to see men in that uniform today doesn't remind people of Richmond's rich historical past, it looks more like a shrine to white power while holding a bayonet. You can tell me that these people are celebrating some other aspect of the Civil War all you want but the the me who grew up living North of the Mason Dixon line finds this tribute to this racially charged war and the men who led it, sickening. Its like commending Hitler as a non meat eater because he was a vegetarian too. Sure he may have not eaten animals but he still stood for something despicable and murdered millions of people. You can tell people the swastika is an ancient symbol for power and good luck predating World War II by centuries but regardless of its once innocent past the symbol has been forever tainted. A swastika means hate and spilled blood now. Period. I find romanticizing the Civil War troubling to say the least and to have it literally marching in my front yard today is vile, plain and simple.

January 11, 2008

I always wanted to know ...

what Love is All would sound like as a funk band. I think? Check out the Make Out Fall Out remix by the Bees!

Remixes don't really do it for me (IE the Spinning Scratching track posted today) but at this point I am desperate for anything new and Love is All related. New record in 2008. I can't wait.

January 10, 2008

How do you record shop?

My trip to LA and Amoeba Records is next with and the most daunting part about shopping at this airplane hanger two level store is creating my shopping list of CDs, LPs, and DVDs.

Does anybody have a special way they create their record wish list? I am looking to improve upon what looks like a crayon drawing of a grocery list. Does anybody take to the EXCEL grid level? I need some help. Anything to help me move through the bins in an organized and speedy manner.


January 9, 2008

The Pale Saints : Whaaaa Happened?

We hypothesized every possible angle over lunch yesterday. This is what my friend Bob and I like to do from time to time; we wonder why one band makes it and lasts the test of time where others fade into obscurity. The obvious answer would be the band must have sucked, right? But so many times this really isn't the case.

Why aren't The Pale Saints more widely recognized and respected?

People still talk about the nearly one hit wonder band Swervedriver (and their recent reunion doesn't hurt this point either) and the over hyped band from Oxford, Ride. Multiple reissues have been constructed for the ultimately hit or miss Slowdive and Chapterhouse. MBV have been practically placed into Sainthood. And yet the Pale Saints with all of their shimmering tremelo drenched layered melodies and complex dynamic shifts have fallen under the radar of fame. More realistically they have been dropped from it completely. How did this happen to a band that owned nearly all the trademark bedroom eyed tones of a classic 4AD artist?

I will get their basic stats out of the way first.

What: Pale Saints
Where: Leeds, England
When: 1987 - 1996
Who: Ian Masters - Bass, Vocals, Graeme Naysmith - Guitar, Chris Cooper - Drums
Then Who: Meriel Barham - Guitar, Vocals (Lush's 1st singer) Colleen Browne - Bass, Vocals
Discography (taken from Wikipedia) with comps excluded:

1990: The Comforts of Madness
1992: In Ribbons

1994: Slow Buildings

1988: Children Break
1989: Barging into the Presence of God
1990: Half-Life (12" contains a bonus spoken-word track "Colour of the Sky")
1991: Kinky Love
1991: Flesh Balloon
1991: Porpoise
1992: Throwing Back the Apple
1994: Fine Friend
1994: Fine Friend (US promo including "One Blue Hill" live acoustic @ KCRW)

So what went wrong between 1996 and now? Where is the much deserved torch for this band? Our conversation spanned from our car ride to the restaurant to in between bites of grilled cheese sandwiches and we still couldn't find an answer that satisfied us. They made beautiful icy bombastic sonic landscapes, they were on a well respected label, and they actually toured.

The best I can guess is they fell victim to poor timing . They were born into a time when you couldn't swing a stick and miss a Shoegaze band. During the early half of the 90's it seemed like every record out there was one big fuzzy blissed out cliche of super-maxed guitars and buried dreamy vocals.

And well, few bands should plod on without one of the key original members. When Ian left the band, the original vocalist and guitar player, I don't think the band ever fully recovered.

Perhaps it was the combination of both of these factors that helped to The Pale Saints live up to their ghostly name ten years after the fact. The band deserves at least one nice reissue package - maybe the classic Comfort of Madness remastered with bonus cuts partnered with a second disc compiling all their tracks scattered on various compilations.

Just throwing it out there.

January 4, 2008

I Break for Well Dressed Hippies!

A few months ago on a used record buying binge I picked up two LPs that haven't really left my turntable since. For those of you with a low tolerance of cavity creating 60's psych pop I would suggest you look away now. . . but for those of you who love it as much as I do. . . let's hug. Or skip and hold hands. You decide.

I bring you two sunshiney bubble gum platters of pure sparkling joy. The Sugar Shoppe and Love Generation.

Both bands came from the late 60's and as far as I can tell The Sugar Shoppe were from Toronto, Canada and featured Peter Mann, Lee Harris, Laurie Hood, and Victor Garber. They released a few singles and this one S/T groovy long player. I don't think this record has ever been reissued and it is a crime really. It just begs to be cleaned up and given fancy liner notes littered with pretty technicolor pictures.

The Love Generation was a California group and they too fall under the sugar coated vocal pop group category. They don't just dabble in happy - they radiate it in every verse and chorus. This cd appears to available only as a pricey import from Japan but the song "Magic Land" alone almost makes it worth the splurge.

Even better - I bring you song samples. My blog doesn't host mps3 or I should say I have no idea how to make that happen... so I decided to create a myspace page where you can hear a full track from each band.

My goal from this point forward is this - when I find a kooky old record...either dusted off from my personal collection or unearthed from a record store's used bin - I will post a track from it on my blog's myspace page. I will only be posting out of print or really rare material and certainly if it is available in any way shape or form as a reissue I will point you in the direction of where to buy it. If someone knows of a reissue that I am unaware of please please please correct me and I will post the information for all to have.

My brand new Myspace blog page (drum roll please): http://myspace.com/lightningsgirlblog

Ummm... and yeah I know how incredibly lame "my blog has a myspace page" sounds. I am actually gagging as I type the phrase again but what can I say I am a technology failure and apparently manipulating teenage networking sites is about as clever as I get.

January 2, 2008

I dream of a day

when not one website or blog fires off something about Radiohead. NME mentioned them 5 friggin times on their news page today. I can't even begin to count how many sites posted a link to Scotch Mist... AKA TOO MANY. What is the point of posting if you are going to cover the same crap as everybody else?

I am begging the music community for a Radiohead time out. Just 24 hours off is all I am asking.


Mark E. Smith Reads H.P Lovecraft

January 1, 2008

Best Live Acts I Saw in 2007

I didn't see much in 2007 thanks to two different injuries that made standing / going to shows very difficult and painful.

Worth the high ouch factor:

Vashti Bunyon - Charlottesville, VA
Jesu - DC
Torche - DC
Art Brut - RVA
Isis - DC

The Soul Power monthly DJ night at Ipanema in RVA is the only happening I am dedicated to on a regular basis. For local RVA'ers I would say these funk/soul parties are a must to check out.

Honorable Mentions of 2007

1.Feist – The Reminder
2.Life Without Buldings – Live
3.Cortney Tidwell – Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up
4.Joanna Newsom & the Ys Street Band – EP
5.Charlotte Gainsbourg- 5:55
6. Taken By Trees – Open Field
7. Nadja – Tocuhed
8. Jesu – Conqueror
9. The Angelic Process – Weighing Souls With Sand
10. The Horrors – Strange House

Favorite Singles / Songs of 2007

The Lionheart Brothers – Down at My Place / Hero Anthem
The Blue Ribbon Glee Club – Waiting Room (Fugazi cover)
Liechtenstein – Salking Skills 7”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 10 x 10 - Fontana / Interscope
The Violets – Foreo
Gundrun Gut – The Wheel
Vampire Weekend – A-Punk
The Twilight Sad – That Summer at Home I had Become the Invisible Boy
Sigur Ros – Hljomalind
Panda Bear – Comfy in Nautica
Miracle Fortress – Have you Seen In Your Dreams
Low – Murderer
Grizzly Bear - Alligator
Amiina – Hemipode
The Arcade Fire – Black Mirror
Battles – Rainbow
The Blow – Hey Boy
Good Shoes – The Photos On My Wall
Electrelane – At Sea / Saturday
Guitar – Watch the White Bird
Lavender Diamond – Open Your Heart
Los Campesinos! – It Started with a Mix / You! Me! Dancing!
Love is All – Nothing to Be Done
Caribou – Melody Day
Magic Weapons – Cloudy People
Monkey Swallows The Universe – Science
Pet Genius – Walls of Etiquette

Top Reissues / Collections of 2007

In no particular order:

1. Native – Rockstone – Pressure Sounds
2. Lee Hazlewood – The Very Special World Of – Water
3. NWA – Straight Outta Compton - Priority
4. VA – Shit Happens – Bear Family Records
5. Elliott Smith – New Moon – Kill Rock Stars
6. Lee Hazlewood – Its Cause and Cure – Water
7. Va – People Take Warning – Tompkins Square
8. Va – Brazil 70 (After Tropicalia New Directions in Brazilian Music in the 1970s) – Soul Jazz
9. The Dance – Soul Force – ReRelease
10. Lee Hazlewood - Strung Out On Something New: The Reprise Recordings- Rhino

Top 10 of 2007: # 1 - Welcome - Sirs

Welcome as quoted from the label site and band's one sheet:

"Their sound is melodic, and rhythmically and sonically ambitious, sitting somewhere between the fractured, exploratory idealism of 60's psych pop (THE CREATION, 'Revolver-era' BEATLES, SYD BARRETT's PINK FLOYD), and such non-conformist alt-rock luminaries as UNWOUND, THE BREEDERS, DEERHOOF or LILYS."

When looking at reviews on line I found Pitchfork's. Per the norm, lazy PFM copped all the sound comparisons right from the label while missing the genius of the record completely.

Luckily Aversion got it right.

"A million writers could write a zillion column inches breaking down Welcome's influences and making a long list of its rock'n'roll ancestry, and miss the point entirely. It doesn't matter which psychedelic pop acts and avant-garde noise-makers are Sirs' predecessors. Welcome digests its roots so thoroughly as to make them irrelevant. Sirs is a new chapter in the great book of rock. It should be a good read. A very good read."