Monday, January 18, 2010

Where have you gone, Jay Reatard?

It seems to be the season for loss. Not that any season is exempt, but it's hard to have to report (not that this blog can claim to be a source of actual news) so recently after my last posting, that rock persona Jay Reatard is dead at the age of 29. The sheer volume of his output is staggering; something like 22 full-length albums and some 1000 shows performed in his short but meteoric lifetime. How can we even say we'll miss someone who we are just in the process of meeting and whose trajectory indicated only vast amounts more to come? I like what I've heard from him so far. I recommend taking a look on YouTube for examples of his stuff. For a better job of journalism, check this link to Rolling Stone.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

R.I.P. Vic Chesnutt

I'm a music fan. I've got a bunch of records. I've been going to shows for many years but I would say that I haven't seen as many live performances as I would have liked to, considering my interest.
For a time in the 90s I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer as an usher for the Arts at St. Ann's, then still housed at the historic St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn Heights. I saw many shows there during that time. But I was blessed to have been in the audience (rather than working that night) for a performance by Vic Chesnutt, playing with his "skiffle band" which included his wife, Tina, on bass guitar.
Back then I had not heard any of Vic's music yet. I'd heard about him, and I think I might even have heard a snippet or two in record stores or on radio, but those left little palpable impression. I simply didn't get it. He was a singer-songwriter, clearly southern in drawl and attitude and what so different about that?
When Vic began to sing, in that usually underheated and slightly decrepit church, on that particular night, however, the impression was enormous, awesome, life-affirming. I cannot say that I've ever been as attentive at any concert as I was at that one. Every pore of my skin seemed to be open and waiting; I was like a baby bird, only more silently so, ears as wide as those chickadee's beaks can stretch, hearing a profound performance given by a brilliant performer.
What was it about that moment that caught me so powerfully? On hearing the album that he was promoting at the time, the magnificent "About To Choke," I realized that Vic had been performing the songs at about half-speed at St. Ann's. He really took his time with them. Perhaps, and one could guess this about a lot of what he did, it was because he was so badly crippled that he poured the kind of grace that a solo flamenco dancer displays into his vocals, simply because that was all he could still control to the degree that he clearly needed in order to express the depth of his convictions. He was spell-binding, blood-curdling, breath-taking and hilarious.
I miss him, never met him and wish you all could have seen him that night. It must have been a hell of a lot of pain to bring him to the point of taking his own life, a life that has so generously contributed to my own.

Friday, November 6, 2009


China vs. Canada

Here's an interesting post from the fine folks at the ARChive of Contemporary Music: "Alternative China in New York," about a current festival of "underground" music from China being performed here in NYC. I seriously want to check out these bands, and there are several opportunities to do so. As for tonight, I'm torn:
These Are Powers, Soft Circle, Carsick Cars, P.K.14, Xiao He  @  Glasslands – Brooklyn, NYC
Hidden Cameras w/ Gentleman Reg @ Brooklyn Union Hall 10PM – Brooklyn, NYC

The whole schedule for the Maybe Mars tour of Chinese artists is here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Catchy? Heck, yeah!

And if you haven't had quite enough of Bastardo, click here to see "The Making Of…"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chuck, Chuck, Bo Buck…

There's nothing new under the sun. Especially when it comes to clichés, old saws, maxims, aphorisms and truisms. Or maybe even more especially when it comes to band names. Can we stop with the wolves/bears/panthers and the crystals, please? Hey, you, over there planning to name your band something clever, just consider the fact that you may confuse someone into buying a record by a band named exactly like yours only a hair's breadth different; different enough to earn you a place on my list. What exactly is this list? I sometimes imagine these pairings as bills for fantasy concerts where I finally see the bands and am therefore never again confused. Or maybe just a very entertaining walk through a record store. Or, more probably, it is likely that these things have stuck in my head and now I can throw you the hot potato. Feel free to add your own in the comments. And, finally, here it is, the list of shame:

Crystal Skulls / Crystal Stilts / Crystal Antlers / Crystal Method /
   Crystal Castles / The Crystals
Xiu Xiu / Xu Xu Fang / Red Fang / Fin Fang Foom
Locksley / Loxley
Wooden Shjips / Wooden Wand / Wooden Stars
Young Widows / Young Galaxy / Young Knives / Young Gods /
   Young Marble Giants
Youth Group / Youth Movies / Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson /
  Sonic Youth
Windy & Carl / Cyann & Ben / Meg & Dia / Matt & Kim /
   Tuck & Patti / Willie & Lobo
Willy Mason / Mason Jennings / Mason Proper / Mason Williams
The Owls / Wow Owls / Owl Service / Low Flying Owls
Wye Oak / Rye Coalition / 18th Dye
Dopo Yume / Yume Bitsu
Wolf Eyes / Wolf Parade / Wolf & Cub / Seawolf / Seabear
Willard Grant Conspiracy / Joel Plaskett Emergency /
   Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Wild Beasts / Wild Light / Wild Colonials / Wilderness
Volcano the Bear / Volcano I'm Still Excited!
Ut / Ui
The Books / Books On Tape / Book of Knots / Book of Kills
The Killers / Kills / Thrills / Stills / Chills
Black Dice / Black Angels / Black Eyes / Black Grape / Black Kids /
   Black Keys / Black Wire / Black Lips / Black Heart Procession /
   Black Box Recorder / Black Rebel Motorcycle Club /
   Black Moth Super Rainbow / Black Ox Orchester / Black Tie Dynasty /
   Black to Comm / Blackstone Valley Singers / Big Black /
   Crippled Black Phoenix / Phoenix
Cliks / Click Five / Count Five / Ben Folds Five
The Field / Fields / Field Music / Magnetic Fields / The Nields
Sage Francis / Page France
Headlights / Razorlight / Softlightes
Gregory & The Hawk / A Hawk and A Handsaw
Say Hi / Say Anything
Telephathe /  Telepathique / Telepopmusik / Television /
  Television Personalities / Alternative Television / TV on the Radio
Prefab Sprout / Tobin Sprout / Amon Tobin / Amon Düül
Pele / Pela
Barr / Bauer / Baumer
Bradley Strider / Tinchy Stryder / McCarthy Trenching
They Might Be Giants / Under Influence of Giants / Standing on Shoulders
   of Giants / Giant Sand / Giant Drag
Le Tigre / Tiger Lillys / Tiger City / Tgr Lou
Deer & The Headlights / Dear Hunter / The Dears
Band of Horses / HORSE the Band
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness /
   Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin /
   Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her

I promise more later, but that's a good start.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Like a drunk in a midnight choir

Brilliant, elegant idea.

The composer/poster, Jarbas Agnelli, says it best himself:

"Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.

I sent the music to the photographer, Paulo Pinto, who I Googled on the internet. He told his editor, who told a reporter and the story ended up as an interview in the very same newspaper.

Here I've posted a short video made with the photo, the music and the score (composed by the birds)."

I'm glad he took the trouble.