December 30, 2010

December 30th, 2010 : Cause & Effect : Neil Young

This posts also doubles as my favorite record of the year announcement.
When Neil Young’s long time friend, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Ben Keith passed away earlier this year, with him went 70% of Neil’s repertoire that he swears he will never do again with a band.
(from a Chicago Tribune interview Neil recently gave)
 “There is no sense in trying to redo what was already great. There’s no payoff in that. That’s not what I’m about. I’m thankful to have known Ben and played with him for 40 years. He was one of my best friends and I miss him very much. I don’t see myself playing those songs with a band in the future. I can play them by myself, but I can’t play them with a band. I just don’t think I could handle it. I don’t know anybody who can do what he did. It closes a door on a period of my life, and it also opens up a giant space for me to be creative in the future.”
Enter the making of Neil Young's 2010 release Le Noise.

Le Noise is like so many of Neil’s releases, it is a highly emotional passage exploring all his trademark themes in first person. There is grief, anger, love, frustration with a heavy  dose of contemplation from a man who has hasn’t led a perfect life and is trying his hardest to make peace with his journey through life. I think what makes this body of work so truly remarkable is this isn’t a record anyone one else could possibly make. It is Neil Young being himself as a 64 year old man, building upon decades of experience using just his voice and his guitar. Then, guiding him through this recording process was Daniel Lanois, another industry veteran who had worked with everyone from Eno to Dylan. When you have two masters of their trade working in harmony, their talents blend into something I can only describe as utter balance and perfection. It is sonically explosive and raw yet below the static rattles there is a tenderness brought on by layers of delay effects and the tortured vocal tones of a man who has been around and the around 3 more times. Neil’s playing style is confrontational but it is diffused gorgeously with great deal of reverb delay space in Daniel’s production choices. The overall final sound of the entire reocrd is disciplined yet unpredictable and free flowing.
There are few records are what I would pretentiously call a listening experience but this one of them. I refuse to listen to just one song from Le Noise, I have to play to it from start to finish. I have never even considered myself a huge Neil Young fan, none of his records have ever made my top 10 no less number one slot so selecting this as my record of the year comes as just as much of a surprise to me. In a year where so many records offered nothing beyond a rehash of something I have heard a billion times before, this old timer delivered something new born and one of a kind.
Tonight's show from 7pm to 9pm on WRIR ( / 97.3 in RVA) is a celebration of this stellar new release as well as a look at his 40 plus years in music and a sampling from the musicians he has influenced all the way. With a catalog as large as his and with so many artists he has inspired along the way there are probably a thousand different ways to approach this show but since I wanted to highlight his new record I started from there and tried to offer a 101 to Neil's wide spectrum of playing styles via some of his lesser known songs.
You can stream Le Noise / watch him perform every song via youtube here. 

Download the two hour radio show here.

December 29, 2010

Plantable Paper Records

How cute is this? Don't know what to get the record nerd in your life who seemingly already owns ever record know to man? How about this!

 Taken from ModCloth

"Change the tune of your home or apartment with with these plantable paper LP’s, stuffed with seeds for an easy and unique way to spruce up your space with some ‘live’ music. Delivered in eye-popping album artwork, each fresh 45 is packed with seeds for herbs - including basil, thyme, chive, parsley, and oregano - or flowers - with California poppy, Indian blanket, baby’s breath, baby snapdragons, and black-eyed Susan. Perfectly proportioned to fill your planter, these quirky LP's only need some soil and water to get in you into the gardening groove."

December 23, 2010

December 23rd, 2010 : Cause + Effect : Women in Music 2010 Edition

My obsession with women in music started in the late '80s with bands like L7, Babes in Toyland, The Lunachicks, Jawbox, Sonic Youth, The Pixies, MBV, Blake Babies, and Superchunk(although I grew up  worshiping Blondie, The Go-Gos,and Pat Benetar too). By 1990 I was spoiled to some degree because Riot Grrrl was starting to build steam and there were bands on the larger tour circuit with women in them so I had a distorted concept of how easy it would be to play music as a women. It was clearly possible, there were certainly girls making it happen, but when I actually joined a band and started playing shows, I discovered very quickly that in the bigger picture (meaning in the every day world of my community) there were actually very few ladies.

Most people wonder why I didn't become more involved in the Riot Grrrl community if I wanted to be surrounded by more women playing music but at the time it was a scene I wasn't attracted to or felt a deep connection with. I didn't want to be involved in something where the politics of being a women came first and the music came second. I didn't want to define my career with WOMAN in bold letters.I wanted to be making music I was proud of and have people like it without focusing on my gender. I wanted and still would prefer to be a human making music who just happens to be a girl.

In the early to mid '90s I daydreamed of  a time when at least one other women shared the same stage I played on that evening but the indie rock / post hardcore world I lived in was a sausage party. I felt like a fish out of water feeling all the time but it really reached its peak when I spent 6 weeks on the road with a band who was 4 band dudes and a male roadie. This was on top of the fact that the number of women I had a chance to interact with outside of our van was next to zero. Day in and day out, every show, every place we crashed, every record store we visited, every music gear shop was mostly guys. I am not the kind of person that HAS to be around other women all the time, but it would have been less lonely and more empowering  for me as a women in music had I known about or crossed paths with other women sharing the same kind of experiences and tribulations. It isn't to say there weren't amazing girls going out to these shows or involved with DIY shows but the scene was 95% made of dudes and the 5% of women out there I only discovered if other people told me about them, we happened to play a show with them, or a read a fanzine article about them.

The flipside to this strange situation was often when people told you about the other bands with girls in them, they either assumed we all magically knew each other as if we were a secret society or they talked about these groups as if they were my rivals and these other women probably hated me or that I should hate them. It created such confusion for me. Were these other women who I had never met kindred spirits or the enemy? Having not been fortunate enough to meet these other girls at the time, there was no way to break bread with these other ladies, talk shop, and help shake away the myths of their being tension between us all. And because we all played in non Riot Grrrl bands there was a whole second line of attack, that I don't know if everyone faced; but I know I did. With Riot Grrrl all over the press (a total media frenzy!) there was a sudden expectation and assumption that if you were a woman in an indie band, you were a Riot Grrrl and with this came a political agenda and potentially a lesser focus on the quality of music being executed. I was hated and judged by some members of the audience before I even sang a note or performed each night. And yet there was another group of people who called me a traitor for playing with men / on mostly male shows because if I was a good feminist, I wouldn't waste my time in that circle. Honestly, all I wanted to do was play in a band and make music with my friends that really excited me so it was a shocking experience to understand how a scene digests you and depending on the time and place, how you are ultimately viewed.

While I have made some music and played a handful of shows since the '90s, it hasn't been nearly as often but as a passionate music fan I still follow the indie music scene as closely as possible. Not just because I am a girl but because of my experiences as a woman in music over the years, I find myself particularly drawn to discovering new bands with women in it and for some reason, 2010 has struck me as a particularly incredible year for women in music. Perhaps it isn't that there are more ladies in music than there were 5 years ago but the internet has made it that much easier to uncover these bands. Whatever the reality, I am thrilled to have so much inspiring music to listen to.

When I decided to do a Cause and Effect highlighting some of the best new music featuring at least one female member I couldn't believe how many groups there were to pick from. I could spend a year playing two hours a week of just women and I still probably wouldn't be able to play them all. Considering how I felt just two decades before, this is an exciting, no, stellar phenomena.

Tonight from 7pm to 9pm on WRIR (97.3 FM for Richmond, VA locals / to stream live) I will be spending two hours spotlighting some of my favorite (as well as many listener picks) records of 2010 that feature at least one woman. I really couldn't be any more excited for this one!

* A podcast of the show is here.

December 15, 2010

Black Metal Greeting Cards!

I can't believe someone didn't think of this sooner. The whole series is amazing and I deem a must have for all seasons.

December 9, 2010

December 9th, 2010 : Cause & Effect : Guided By Voices Part II

As promised, tonight will be part two of my radio show highlighting the influences and many off shoot bands to GBV. There was no way I could squeeze a catalog as big as the Pollard circle into just one two hour show so alas I will continue my celebration of this now defunct group from Ohio. Even though all the members appear to be as busy as ever with their new projects!

There are almost too many sideproject / new projects to the Guided By Voices crew to properly count them all but I managed to find 17 examples to share as a small tribute to all the various recordings they have out there.

Tune in to WRIR from 7PM to 9PM tonight to hear the show - 97.3 on your FM dial if you live in RVA or stream it live at If you are curious about last weeks set (mostly all influences to GBV) here is a link to the complete list of songs I played.

Written by Pollard and at long last, a girl is included in this boys club!

December 2, 2010

December 2nd, 2010 : Cause & Effect : Guided By Voices

There are a few bands I have dreaded doing a show on and GBV is at the top of the list. It isn't because I don't care for them, it's quite the contrary however working on a two hour show for them is a bit like wrestling an 8 armed beast only there aren't 8 arms, they have hundreds. By arms I mean number of releases and ex members and side project bands and a seriously ravenous fan base who is capable of eating me alive for not doing the band justice. I mean at latest count Bob Pollard alone has over 1300 registered to his name alone. THIRTEEN HUNDRED ! ! !

A friend is putting on a show below the radio station at the Camel next monday featuring bands paying tribute to GBV and he had asked me to consider doing a show to go along with theirs. Against my better judgment I said yes but then I had a stroke of good luck. I found a website that carried a list of bands Bob / GBV like to listen to on the road when they tour and that list reads like the ultimate list of Pysch-Rock and Pop from the '60s put together by the fading captain himself. Needless to say I have cherry picked some of the best tracks from that list (mind you I could have done a straight month of shows based on this list alone) for tonight's show and then next week I will finish out the list along with more of the side projects and off shoot bands.

The tough part about doing a show on a band as prolific as this one is there are really about a billion different ways to approach the show but I took the route showcasing the music I know best since so much of it is material I like to DJ outside of the station. I also want to offer a huge thank you to all my friend and listeners who voted and picked the 4 GBV tracks per show I will playing.

Its been an interesting academic journey working on this show for many reason but I realized yesterday that among all these hours of material there are very few women in the mix. It isn't that I think GBV doesn't like women but for whatever reason , the band and their following is very much a boys club and the only women who has managed to enter their arena is Kim Deal. As a female DJ I am not thrilled to create a show where there is not one woman among the set (although there are two in part two of the set) but hopefully since I am a woman creating this parade of dude rock it will help balance out the lack of ladies otherwise.

Tune into WRIR, 97.3 FM  on your dial from 7PM to 9PM to hear this show and if you don't live here in town, you can stream it live at

December 1, 2010

Out of the Vinyl Deeps

Its maddening that there more women in music - not just making it but behind the scenes writing, mixing, producing, running labels and etc but the good news is there has been some pretty incredible ladies who have braved the boys club so the rest of us could not only know it was possible but that our female voice is valuable to the world at large.

Ellen Willis was hired in 1968 to be a rock critic for the New Yorker and this new book chronicles her 7 years of music writing. More on the book here.

"More than simply setting the record straight, Out of the Vinyl Deeps reintroduces Willis’s singular approach and style—her use of music to comment on broader social and political issues, critical acuity, vivid prose, against-the-grain opinions, and distinctly female (and feminist) perspective—to a new generation of readers. Featuring essays by the New Yorker’s current popular music critic, Sasha Frere-Jones, and cultural critics Daphne Carr and Evie Nagy, this volume also provides a lively and still relevant account of rock music during, arguably, its most innovative period."

PS: Daphne has a 33 1/3 book coming out soon on NIN 's Pretty Hate Machine, so excited to read it and so thrilled to have such inspiring female friends.