Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm a Cult Hero

Cult Hero 45
"I'm a Cult Hero" b/w "I Dig You"
FICS 006
UK 1979

The West Sussex godfathers of dark wave goth rock, The Cure has been my favorite band since I was a young kid. Over the years I formed this rule with collecting their vinyl that basically forces me to find vinyl releases related to The Cure without the use of the internet (auctions, buying in general, etc). So as a testament to the actual obscurity of this record, I recently found and bought the first copy of I'm a Cult Hero I have seen in real life in over twenty years of noticing The Cure and The Cure-related releases.

The record consists of musicians Robert Smith (leads), Michael Dempsey (guitar), and Lawrence "Lol" Tolhurst (percussion).- three of the founding members of the proto-Cure project known as "the Obelisk" and later "(The) Easy Cure". Interestingly enough, Robert's sisters Margaret and Janet are also featured on the recording. Simon Gallup (future Cure bassist who would go on to be the most long-standing member of The Cure besides Smith) was playing in a band called Lockjaw at the time. He was asked to contribute bass to this record and the rest is history...

Besides the record being amazingly phenomenal and avant garde (in both composition and production), it has an entertaining piece of history behind it as well. The guys in The Cure had noticed that local Surrey postman Frank Bell constantly wore a shirt that read: "I'm a Cult Hero". The boys conjured up a plan and asked Frank to contribute vocals. What they ended up with was a very highly sought after piece of wax.

Record Mirror, October 27th 1979:
"Better than being an upstart, I suppose. The vivacious free form bass line is reminiscent of one of the other of Fiction's three signings, The Cure, and surprise surprise they provide Cult's backing. Apart from the somewhat repetitive title, this is one very engaging slice of vinyl.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Weren't There

I recently caught a good portion of You Weren't There, a new documentary touching on the Chicago punk scene of the late seventies to the early eighties. Although I spent most of the time shouting out opinions and phrases like "I have that record" during the viewing of the film, the guys in the room showing me the video happened to be my good friends - friends who have come to terms with my ADD outbursts.

The movie talked about a ton of really great energetic punk acts who played at a club known as "Oz". The punk scene was very tight and mostly positive [with the occasional (and sometimes historic) band member vs. band member dispute]. Each band's influence spawned a new group and ideas just exploded exponentially. That is, until Oz started catching heat for serving alcohol to underage kids.

This is a picture of the Busted A Oz Lp that was recorded March 9th, 10th, and 11th of 1981. This was as quickly as everyone could get together to document the chaotic Chicago scene once everyone was aware of its imminent doom. It came out on Autumn records in 1981 and includes live cuts from Naked Raygun, Strike Under, Subverts, Effigies, Da, and Silver Abuse. Cat # is A0-2.

A few beliefs I previously had were completely reinforced by this film. Most notably:

- Subverts shred
- Effigies are amazing
- Everything Jeff Pezzati has been a part of and is a part of is absolutely incredible
- Da is definitely a band that tuned into their own station at the time but ruled hard
- Steve Albini is a total trash-talking jerk but still a hero of mine
- Chicago breeds some spectacular musicians
- no matter how old punk rockers get, punk rock in itself is eternally youthful

When the doors finally closed, graffiti appeared on the outside of the building that read: "OZ LIVES AND RULES".

Monday, December 28, 2009

This is the Way - Stone Pony 12.26.09

Now here's a show that came out of left field for me. I got invited last minute, and I am sure glad I was. Detournement opened the show with a bang, and played even better than their amazing recorded sound suggested they might. See my review for them HERE

Blacklisted played next and although I hadn't heard much about them before the show, the band tore it up as well. Once they were off the stage, I started to notice the faces of three people I've only seen in pictures. Brian, Rob, and Ernie - all of Black Train Jack.

I was a young kid in the early/mid nineties when my cousin showed me a local skate video that included Black Train Jack's "Leapfrog". We followed them closely even though we weren't old enough to make it out to their shows. They sang about good times, being straightedge, girls...basically all the things we were into at the time. They were also a bit more listenable to us as 14 year old kids than a lot of the NY and NJ hardcore that was going on during that time (bands that we would end up getting hooked on only about a year later). Black Train Jack's manic rhythms and ingenious melodies were a breath of fresh air to me, and I never thought I'd have the chance to see them live.

The 20 Anniversary - "Bouncing Souls Home For The Holidays" event made this possible, and I must say that I was thrilled. Again, I was completely blown away by all the bands that played, and the BTJ reunion was a really positive experience that fit the bill perfectly. The show was packed tight, with wall-to-wall positive and friendly vibes. Congrats to the Souls for keeping it real for so long (and what an amazing idea to have a fan-picked set list!), and thanks to Chunksaah and all the fans who made this show happen. It was really something

"Put your hands up... this is a Bouncing Souls show, there's no tough guys here" - Rob, BTJ.

Black Train Jack "Leap Frog" and "No Reward" - Stone Pony 12.26.09

Black Train Jack "Handouts" from You're Not Alone 1994 Roadrunner Records

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Little Wonder, Big Noise

I was out doing some Xmas shopping this afternoon, and of course I found something (small) for myself. Jazz Baby on Little Wonder - a five and a half inch, one-sided shellac phonograph record with an orange and black label depicting a child conducting an orchestra.

The record was only a few bucks, and between the really attractive center label and the patent info on the back dating back to as early as 1901, I had to take her home.

I did a little research and found out a few really interesting things about this record. First and foremost, this record in particular is from 1921. It's one of the more rare releases on LW, but even the rarest of these small records don't fetch much of a return. There are two main reasons for this. 1) The grooves are crowded on the small record and therefore the sound quality and actual song length is compromised, and 2) Many of the artists featured on LW were also available on RCA or Columbia, or Edison - the main players in the record game at the time.

The story goes that Henry Waterson (then co-president of a larger music publishing company) had a pretty ingenious idea. At the time, many people were interested in owning tangible recorded music, but the prices were off the wall. A regular full length record was about a buck back then (which would be a price that hovered around twenty US dollars today). So Waterson decided he was going to offer a smaller version of what was on the market for prices horrendously cheaper than his competition. The results were epic - with sales counts in the millions. He decided to hit up all the local five and dime type shops such as S.H. Kress, S.S. Kresge, F.W. Woolworth and J.G. McCrory. He also made them available through larger sales catalogs such as Sears, Roebuck and CO. etc. Sears especially loved Waterson's idea because their whole marketing strategy was the same - to undercut the competition.

This was the first time that a record company stepped up to bat and offered something substantially cheaper. Victor had been doing compatibility battle with Columbia and Edison by making it difficult to play opposing company's media on each others' respective consoles (from patenting spindle hole sizes to producing stylus-specific phonographs), but no one had done an undercut of this proportion. It would change the way the the industry operated from there on out.

No. 1142 Jazz Baby Fox-Trot Dance Music Orchestra
Little Wonder Record Company Woolworth Building New York, N.Y.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


My long time friend Matt and I are happy to announce that the website for our record label PSYCHIC VOLT has opened today. Our plans are to continue working with friends and bands (both local and distant) whose music says something to us.

The grand opening of the Psychic Volt website features a limited green vinyl pressing of Sticks and Stones' debut 7", World To Be Saved, Song To Be Sung. First come first serve on this one time offer.


Side One:
1. Saved
2. Less Than Free [MP3]

Side Two:
3. Contempt
4. Reason To Care

Here's to good times, now and forever...

Soulful Sleptember

Thanks Luke/John

Sleptember Vol#1


Sleptemeber Vol#2


Monday, December 14, 2009

Human Switchboard Operator

This is a very exciting record with a really interesting story. I dug this hand-xeroxed cover and record out of a heap of vinyl in a dingy central New Jersey basement, and was surprised to see that somehow it had survived almost thirty years against the elements.

This is a live recording of the band [1981, limited to 1,000 copies] that sounds good enough as a live recording to pass off as a studio release of moderate to good sound quality. Imagine garage rock with keys and vocal attitude reminiscent of Johnny Thunders or Richard Hell. It's really catchy and fun, and almost shocking that the band never caught on the way that other early eighties groups attempting the same vibe did... that is, until you read about the controversial and ironic story behind the band's front man, singer and guitarist Bob Pfeifer.

Find out more HERE and be sure to read the comments below the article.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jawbox "Savory" - Live on Jimmy Fallon [12.08.09]

Jawbox reunited last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to play one song, "savory" off of their 3rd release from 1994, For Your Own Special Sweetheart. The band has been defunct since '97 and this performance is said to be the only reunion show of the sort - singer J. Robbins has reported that there will be no tours, no shows, no nothing.

I was lucky enough to have a friend snag me a ticket to this one. A handful of my friends and I headed onto the set to witness the action first-hand. The live sound was ok - vocals were a little lost in the mix but the levels on both guitars were perfect. the bass was thundering, and the drums were blasting. There is even rehearsal footage available ( of "68" and ff-66" from earlier that day.

Jawbox was incredibly energetic and tight live. As a fan of many of the members' previous projects such as Rollkicker Laydown, Government Issue, Burning Airlines - to name a few, and as a fan of the vast and impressive list of albums that singer J. Robbins has produced, I took the opportunity to see him again and am glad I did.

Robbins shirt read: "FIGHT SMA Spinal Muscular Atrophy." Robbin's son Callum was diagnosed with the rare degenerative disorder, and some consider this appearance one of the shows in a string of benefits for Callum. Find out more about SMA HERE

Grab a copy of For Your Own Special Sweetheart, now on bassit Kim Coletta's own label, Desoto. It's back in their hands after a decade-long battle over rights and royalties with monster label Atlantic.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Screaming Response

Screaming Response 7" EP
2009 Chunksaah Records/Pirates Press Records

"Detournement" is a French term describing the action of an artist borrowing techniques and ideas from other artists and the popular culture and media, and creating a new and sometimes modernized version from the borrowed elements. Screaming Response clearly has its roots, but the work is fresh, and the composition complex.

The first track sounds like some of the better hardcore I remember going out to see in the mid-late nineties. Into the next track I start hearing all kinds of favorable influences in the band's sound. From melodic vocals reminiscent of a really good singing day for Duane Peters of U.S.Bombs, to early DC hardcore roots (Minor Threat, Void, Dag Nasty, etc), each song brought a new, positive memory out from my mind and re-presented it to me in a modern day fashion.

The list of influential greatness heard in every instrument on this record ranged from No Control era Bad Religion to the sounds of late 70's - early 80's British Reggae. This all sounds like a lot to fit onto eight tracks (which all hang around two minutes in length), but again, Detournement serve it up strong. A really original approach and presentation, and strong words about the state of the world and all those affected. The production and recording of this record is very good and perfectly fitting for their style and the feel.

Another interesting note is that the layout is nothing short of solid in design. From the simplicity and bold effectiveness of the intelligently presented liner notes to the textured and colored sandpaper covers, the record looks great inside and out. The sandpaper cover idea reminds me of a story relating to the album Return of Durutti Column by Factory records legends The Durutti Column [FACT 14]. The story with this sandpaper covered LP was that Tony Wilson at Factory Records tried to recruit as many hands to help glue sandpaper covers to the album. The guys in Joy Division needed some cash, so they took the job. Ian Curtis apparently needed the money the most (for cigarettes) and ended up gluing most of the covers while the rest of the band watched a porn and got wasted. Not sure what the idea or the story of the production behind or the origin of the Detournement 7" cover was, but it was a radical move nonetheless.

In short, it's a badass thrashy melodic hardcore punk record that you probably need.

Featuring members of Worthless United, Lifetime, Bigwig, Ensign, and Plan A Project.

Download Album HERE
Listen to their songs HERE

Up All Night

Six Cents and Natalie 7"
when punk fell to earth
1995 Rubber Goldfish Records

When I first picked this record up I figured it had to be a late 90's emo or post hardcore record. Something about the cover screamed Mineral's February 7" or any other record cover with similar features from that time period for that matter. What I read when I flipped the cover over is what made me commit to a purchase.

"Recorded entirely in my bedroom on my 1987 JVC cassette deck. All songs by Six Cents except: "living on video" by Trans X. Guitar by Gary. Special thanks to Stanley"

I also noted the label's location, (Lawernceville, NJ), and the band's Seattle address. Seattle has a great history of low-fi early indie so could put my trust in that as well.

The record is fantastic. It includes five tracks which all seem to have been done on a Casio SK1 or very similar 80's synth. The songs are really catchy and listenable and the singer, Sean Tollefson (later of Tullycraft) has a similar voice to that of Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen - maybe if Joe Jack was doing slower, more serious tunes, alone... with a keyboard.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Polskie Nagrania

Found this one by Polish prog/rock/glam group "General". They were apparently a big deal.

"In the summer of 1972, for the very first time before television cameras in Budapest, appeared 3 girls and 5 boys; ever since they have remained the focus of attention within the spell-bound studios of the world".

"W Lecie 1972 roku przed kamerami telewizyjnymi w Budapeszcie stanely po raz pierwszy trzy dziewczeta i pieciu chlopcow i na dobra sprawe do dzisiejszego dnia nie wyszli z zaczaro wanego swiate stuidiow."

The record is pretty average. Sounds like a Zeppelin attempt with some Rush progression bites and and anything else they could lift from budget 1970's rock that your nerdy older brother probably liked.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I've always been impressed with bands that have a dedicated and named following. In many cases it's pure phenomenon, in other cases it's just a pre-planned business move. Here's a short list (off of the top of my head) of bands and the names of their respective followers. Feel free to add to this list by commenting on this post.

The Beatles - Beatlemaniacs
Devo - Devotees
Gary Numan - Numanoids
Grateful Dead - Dead Heads
Insane Clown Posse - Juggalos
Jimmy Buffet - Parrotheads
Kiss - Kiss Army
Morrissey - Moz Heads
Phish - Phish Heads
R.E.M - Disciples
World Inferno Friendship Society - Infernites

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hunchback - Heart of Gold

Amazing footage of NJ's Hunchback covering one of my favorite Neil Young tunes at a local rock and roll wedding. Note the bride hopping on drums. Video by John Slover.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Return of the Wizard

NOT Gandalf as in the man behind the music in the 1986 Jim Henson film, Labyrinth featuring David Bowie, NOT the late 90's/eary 00's Finnish death metal band, and no relation whatsoever to the lovable wizard from your favorite fantasy thriller, but rather a 1969 Captiol Records American psychedelic flop that has since resurfaced and achieved an incredible cult following.

It was a total failure for a couple of reasons in the late 1960's.

1) It was apparently originally packaged and briefly sold with the incorrect record in the pictured LP sleeve.
2) Capitol basically used the band as an experiment in sales, forcing them to change their name from The Rahgoos to Ganfalf, thus furthering public confusion and increasing the damage done to the band's name and then assumed lack of integrity.

The record is great though. Pleasant psych rock with mild organ jams and really rich lyrics and creative content. It's currently back in print (Sundazed/Capitol) and yes, you need it.

Hang On To A Dream:

Magic From The Past

I just found out that a friend of mine Steve Boltz (currently one of the owners and artists at the wonderful SMITH STREET TATTOO in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn) was a guitarist in KIRK AND THE JERKS - a band featured in the epic 1989 H-Street skate flick Hokus Pokus. The band had three consecutive songs on the video, including one of the catchiest and most memorable of songs featured in the film, "Gun & A Tear". It's pretty great that my friends and I have been unconsciously rocking out to the Jerks songs for as long as we can remember, and it's now even cooler knowing who was actually behind some of the music.

Melodic mid 80's punk is king. Add a garage edge and dare I say "glam" -inspired feel and you have something to work with... amazing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Have Come For The Morning Light

After my pal Dan introduced me to this record, I got to HOSPITAL PRODUCTIONS in NYC as fast as I could to grab up a copy. I found a used, clean copy for a fair price and made her mine.

The cover could catch anyone's eye, especially with the gold foil (shown yellow in this picture) on green, the fact that the record is a gate fold, and the presense of occult imagery found throughout the layout. The record took a good two to three listens before really setting in as a great record, but has since been frequenting my platter. The production is perfect for a sound that appears to have been the (acheived) goal for this recording - Imagine dark folk with black metal and noise roots, and demonic clinks and chants echoing from the underworld. This and more all held together by a tastefully melodic (but sometimes harsh) guitar sound and pleasing and surprisingly listenable vocals. It's creepy, it's twisted, it's everything I hoped it would be.

Put it this way: Donovan is to The Shire as Cult of Youth is to Mordor.

This particular pressing is limited to 500 copies.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chuck Biscuits alive and well. Just trying to help tip the balance of truth back to the underground music world.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Metal or Not Metal?

Metal. This 1984 Attic Records comp includes tracks by Anvil, Ted Nugent, Killer Dwarfs, Accept, Mercyful Fate, Blotto, Lee Aaron, Saxon, Judas Priest, Quiet Riot, Y&T, and Ozzy Osbourne. I can get into most of these tracks. Thanks to B. Muirhead for the submission.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weezer Snuggie

I don't love Weezer so much anymore, but I do love this commercial idea. I own a couple Snuggies and they rule. I saw this commercial on TV in the middle of the night the other night. It's pretty hilarious.

There is Thunder in Their Hearts

A good friend of mine who currently lives on the west coast sent me a CD of her new solo project. She claims the songs aren't ready to be unveiled to the public, so instead I'll give you the first song that came to mind (besides songs from highlighted periods for Elizabeth Fraser/Cocteau Twins) when I heard the collection of songs.

Here is Kate Bush with "Running Up That Hill" and as a bonus I included Placebo covering the same Kate Bush cut. (More about my friend soon).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


My good friend Sean, AKA DJ Moustachio (Flavorsavor, Academy Records) made this happen last night. Soooo good! Crank this!

Killer blend of oldschool hip hop and electro

01.Life N Def – Money Beats
02.Mc Tee/Mantronix – Fresh Is The Word
03.Lil Jazzy and Cool Supreme – B Boys Style
04.Cat Stevens – Was Dog A Doughnut
05.Fresh 3 Mc’s – Fresh
06.Gifted 4 – The Arrival
07.T La Rock – Breakdown Dub
08.DJ Watkins &Amp; Crew – Jealousy (Rap) Dub Version
09.Dst – Rock The House In Japan (Version)
10.T La Rock – Breaking Bells
11.Mixmaster Gee – Like This
12.Natasha King – Am-Fm
13.Z-3 Mc’s – Triple Threat
14.Fearless Four – F-4000
15.Phase Two – The Roxy
16.Doctor Rocx and Co. – Do The Roxanne pt. 2
17.Rockmaster Scott &Amp; The Dynamic 3 – It’s Life (Think Twice)
18.Davey DMX – One For The Treble Inst.
19.T-Ski Valley – Cut It Up
20.Duce’s Wild – Gimmick Inst.
21.Rhythm Based Lovers – Calls of Love
22.Cd III – Get Tough (Dub)
23.Cat Claw – Out In The Streets
24.Masterdon Committee – Funkbox Party (Live)
25.Art of Noise – Beat Box
26.Jazzy Jay – Son of Beat Street
27.Eddie D – Cold Cash Money (Dub Mix)
28.Ice T – Cold Wind Madness
29.Masterdon Committee – Funkbox 2
30.Herbie Hancock – RockIt (Short Version)
31.Dominatrix – Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight
32.Grandmixer DsT – Crazy Cuts
33.Stockingcap – Wave Craze (inst.)
34.Webboes – Under The Wear
35.Sparque – Take Some Time
36.Strafe – Set It Off (Remix)
37.Project Future – Ray-Gun-Omics
38.Hi-Fidelity Three – B Boys Breakdance Inst.
39.Paul Hardcastle – Panic
40.Micronawts – Letzmurphacrossdasurf (Dub)
41.Aleem – Release Yourself (Dub)
42.Gaston – Smurfette
43.Newcleus – Jam On It Inst.
44.Afrika Bambaataa – Perfect Beat Bonus Beats II
45.Afrika Bambaataa – Looking For The Perfect Beat
46.Kym – Give Me The Dance (Dance Mix)
47.C Carlos Ward – A New Way (Dub)
48.Beautiful Swimmers – Horizon
49.Jonzun Crew – Pac Jam Inst.
50.Extra T’s – Flash Boogie Inst.
51.Willesden Dodgers – 122 Bpm
52.Tony Paris – Electric Automan (Dub)
53.Luke Vibert – C.O.R.N.

Doolittle Turns 20

For the 20th anniversary of The Pixies Doolittle, the band has offered a free live EP download HERE.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hey Hey, My My

It's incredibly overdue, but I finally bought a copy of Neil Young's Trans on vinyl last night. I'm familiar with the record and the mixed reviews it has received over the years (since it's release in 1982) but I figured I would buy it before I talked about it. I gave it a few really good listens last night, and I have come to the conclusion that it is a solid record. I've been a Neil fan since I was a kid; I overheard my father playing Mr. Young's albums throughout my childhood and have since remained intrigued. This particular record still receives a lot of whining from fans because it's a noticeably different concept. Just from the cover art alone, a Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep theme or some futuristic equivalent comes to mind.

When you play the record, it starts off with classic Neil Young style twangy rock, but by track two you are introduced to something very different from his arsenal of past recordings. It's the use of a vocoder.

The early days of the vocoder must have been exciting. Hearing Kraftwerk chanting robotic commands to their avant garde electronic sounds wasn't something the world expected at the time, but would soon be somewhat familiar with. The technique would be executed into the 70's and 80's with bands like ELO and Alan Parson's Project jumping on the bandwagon. The 90's would see some hints of a vocoder in popular, dance,electronic, and industrial music, but it wasn't until somewhat recently that the vocoder resurfaced with the public acceptance it received in the late 70's. Popular music and Hip Hop would (and continue to) play out the sounds of the vocoder, sometimes even using it to disguise vocalists who cannot stay in key. Neil Young's Trans did just the opposite. He took the tool and mastered it, the way he mastered his trademark guitar sound. He intentionally hit notes while using the vocoder that sounded better than others - notes he wouldn't normally hit when singing without the filter.

Trans is an incredibly genius creation. There are rumors about reasons for his decision to create the album that range from issues with Geffin to some grandiose comment on the inevitable future of electronic pop music and culture/humanity as a whole. I still think there are two simple reasons this record happened.

1) He claimed his autistic son could connect more closely with his music when using the vocoder


2) He was doing an awful lot of hanging with the DEVO boys at the time. Watch Human Highway and you will understand.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Here's a groovy Vincent Collins animation that was backed by The United States Information Society for the 200th birthday of our nation. Get free.

Monday, November 2, 2009

French Synth-Wave 1979/85

Here is an amazing compilation that is now available on vinyl.
It's a random collection of French Synth Pop (or Synth Wave) groups from 1979-1985. Some of the songs are sang in English, some are sang in French, and some are sang in both languages. If you are a fan of foreign pop, minimal synth, new wave, or electro, I would highly recommend finding this one.
The album comes with a booklet that includes a short bio on each group, and a picture of the original record the songs are taken from.

This record is available from Born Bad Records.
Here is a short promotional video for the comp.

Where Pies Go To Die

It was the spring of 1998 when my good friend and I decided to take our interest in the Massachusetts band Piebald to the next level. We had been following them for some time, and we had both found interest in other (mostly hardcore) bands on Hydra Head records, when we found out that Piebald would be playing a show in a local legendary hall at a nearby community college. That same week, my friend found a bunch of satin butterfly collared disco shirts in a box on the side of the road. He coincidentally had an assignment in his graphic design class that required him to screen print an edition of shirts at that time as well. He took the opportunity to print the design found on the patch that came with Piebald's Sometimes Friends Fight 10" release right onto the back of the disco shirts.

Our girlfriends at the time were very good friends as well. There was a senior class trip to Europe the week of the Piebald show and since all four of us were fans of the band, my pal and I did everything we could to rub in the fact that we were going to get to see the band while the girls were in Europe. The girls eventually left the country and my pal and I went on to see the band. Before the show we harassed the band (as we usually did back then) and convinced them to play their entire set in the shirts that my friend printed. They agreed and the show was a great success. Once they were finished playing we cornered them with copies of their "Aftershave" 7". We requested that they wrote something to further our girlfriends' jealousy and they gladly complied. The girls would eventually come home and receive their gifts, along with the story of the night.

A couple of years ago I was doing my rounds at a local record store when I came across a very familiar record. It was an early copy of the same "Aftershave" 7" by Piebald. When I inspected it more closely I was stunned to find that it was the exact record that my friend had gifted his former girl almost a decade ago. It even had her name and personalized message on it. I brought it up to the counter and asked the guy working if he knew anything about the origin of the record. He replied: "Yeah, some girl was in here yesterday. She sold us some records to help her get some money up so she could move to Philly".

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ministry - All Day [Live 1987 @ Numbers in Houston, Texas]

Very interesting performance of this Halloween A-side favorite. A few years ago this guy tried to tell me that Ministry was formed in the mid sixties and that the group wasn't recognized until the 1980's. I responded: "No way dude. The band formed in early 1981 as a dance/synth pop group. They had nothing to do with the 60's or even the 70's for that matter and furthermore, front man Al Jorgensen turned something like two years old in 1960 - I think he's only like 50 now dude". He responded: "I heard them on the bus to 'Nam. Were you in 'Nam?!?!? I chalked it up as a loss and just changed the subject.

Regardless, please enjoy and Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Metal or Not Metal?

This one is probably "Not Metal".

Universal Language

My brother's job recently took him to Cape Town, South Africa. While there, he was nice enough to explore some music shops for me and even brought some treats home. Of the records he scored, Universal Men by Juluka is my favorite. The music is clean and poppy, and blends afrobeat with folk and European/American rock of the mid-late 70's. The actual style that Juluka play is derived from a few South African genres. One of those interesting influential styles is known as Maskanda. Maskanda was originally a type of music played on inexpensive but practical instruments and was initially only one long song containing a changing, growing story from start to finish. Modern music that is influenced by Maskanda follows the more contemporary, "twelve songs per album" formula.

The most interesting thing about this record is its story. Juluka existed for many years before this debut LP release. South Africa was in the dead heat of apartheid and interracial music groups were unheard of. Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu were so determined to play together that they played in secret underground venues, the same way an American speakeasy would operate during prohibition. Despite countless physical attacks and verbal assaults by disapproving South Africans, the two trekked on in the name of music. To me that's a true punk rock story that should not go untold.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Suburban Lawns - "Janitor" [1981]

Check out these early 80's post-punkers fronted by Su Tissue. The faces she makes are just about as weird as the sounds that come out of her mouth. Props to my roommate's friend Dani who linked this video to him.
The story goes:
"She asked me what I did for a living. I said 'I'm a janitor' and she thought I said 'Oh my genitals.' Frank [guitarist] overheard this and wrote the song".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Toronto - Waterloo - Niagara - Syracuse

My friends Matt, Sarah, and I headed to Toronto at the break of dawn this past Friday. The drive was easy, the border patrol was cool, and Canada was really amazing. My brother lives at the Lawrence station stop off of the Toronto subway, and a few of our days were spent just hopping into various parts of Toronto for food, records, and various entertainment. We hit a total of four record stores in the immediate Toronto area. One of these stores was called Kops Records. The store's prices were a bit high, but we soon recognized that this trend would continue throughout all the stores we would visit. Kops carried a large variety of soul, funk, and reggae 45s as well as a bunch of new punk and indie LPs. There was a section of "five for twenty dollars" records as well. This is where I spent most of my time. A few of the more notable records I took home were a 12" by a Canadian dark/synthwave band "Vital Sines", and an LP by "Dead Man's Shadow", an early 80's Canadian KBD-style punk group. The store carried a ton of 45s that were all indexed by artist's name and spanned the entire back wall of the store. I spent a few minutes going through the 45s and didn't find anything especially impressive.

We also hit up a strip off of the west side of Toronto. There were three stores in a row there. One of the stores was closed, but we were able to get in and check out the other two shops. The first place was run by a middle aged man with pretty terrible taste in music. The entire store (of, say 15,000 used records) was inventoried. The conditions of the records were pretty disappointing, and the selection was more of a selection I would expect from a one to three dollar bin at a store in the states. The owner insisted that I check out the crate of new arrivals he had behind the counter. He then attempted to push some medicore U.S psych rock on me. That's when I broke the news that I was from New Jersey and not exactly up here trying to buy things I can find, or already have back home. He gave me his card at that point and I told him I'd shoot him an e-mail if I needed anything.

The next store was incredibly similar. Another older man sitting alone in a giant room of mediocre records. The only difference was that if you dug in this spot you'd actually find something. The prices were mostly higher than I prefer to pay at a store, but again the selection (once you dug) was decent. Buried in the sea of common rock titles were new wave and punk records, some bootlegs, and a pretty decent selection of 12"s were situated on the floor as well. Another funny thing about this place was that the records were in absolute alphabetical order. They weren't just filed under letter cards, but rather each record was individually organized alphabetically. The owner yelled at me or Matt about putting them back exactly how we found them, to which we both ignored. My pet peeve is being in a record store that has low quality records and standards and having the owner tell me how to handle them. I was close to responding "I take better care of my records than you do", but I just decided to ignore him, finish up there and leave.

We found a music magazine on the subway, and as my brother was scanning the upcoming concerts I saw an ad that read "SHONEN KNIFE - JAPAN RAMONES". Not only did I not know that these ladies were still playing, but I was shocked to see that they would be at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern the next night. We rolled up to the show when they were a few songs into their set and had a really great time.
Between their matching outfits, obsession with flying devil horns between each song, and their ability to rock as hard as they did twenty years ago, I was very entertained. They are coming back to NY (Brooklyn) in November so catch them if you can.

The next day my brother drove us a little over an hour (easily 100 KMs +!) to the town he lived in before he moved to Toronto. The place was Waterloo, and it was super nice as well. He somehow found out about a place called Orange Monkey - an upstairs record store off of a side street that carried mostly rock, new wave, and punk. The place was pretty awesome for a tight little record store. It was another one of those "too many file cards" shops though, and I am more of a fan of discovering records than being told exactly where each one was. I also didn't like that the vinyl was taped closed in a bag with the condition description on the outside of the bag. I asked the owner if I could open a record that I wanted to see if "his VG grading was similar to my VG". He seemed fairly unamused but went for it and I was surprised to find that he had heavily under graded his records. The record was more of a VG+ to EX if anything. Of the few records that I snagged, The Cure's Let's Go To Bed Canadian pressing (with a little maple leaf on back and weird variation to front cover) was the neatest thing. It was cheap, and now fits nicely between my stack of other versions of that record that I currently have.

We spent some time doing other things like visiting my brother's girlfriend and friends and even hit a skate park. We ate well, checked out the Kitchener Oktoberfest (2nd largest to the German original) and had a blast. On the way home from Toronto we hit the city of Niagara and viewed the falls from the Canadian side. That was pretty neat as well.

On the way back down we stopped in to a couple stores in Syracuse, NY. The first one was a hip hop shop that did not carry vinyl. After a few minutes of kick'n it with the owner, we made for Syracuse's The Sound Garden music store. We had all been to the Baltimore Sound Garden shop so we knew what to expect. Although it upsets me that they don't carry used vinyl, I must say that their new vinyl selection is pretty smart. We spent some time there and then headed straight home to hear our finds and relax. Thanks Greg for the great time!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ladyhawke "My Delirium" [2008]

The first few seconds of this video starts off a bit predictably. Then, without warning, the video's art jumps into "a-ha" mode. This is the type of band that I would prejudge and never give a chance, but I happened to catch this video again late last night and it stuck in my head all day today. The hooks are perfect, the single-note chilling guitars in the choruses work really, really well, and although I feel that the opening verse is the weakest point of the entire song, I consider the song a success. I am also really feeling the animation of her hair blowing. Very cool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Philly, Allentown, and NJ

Here are a few really great records that I picked up on some recent local visits to Pennsylvania and back home.

Richard Bone "Digital Days" b/w "Alien Girl" Rumble Records RUM-01

This is some really amazing 1981 minimal synth. It's the first release on Brooklyn NY's Rumble Records. It's incredibly listenable and ranks with the quality of the better minimal synth bands of the early 80's - not the endless list of bad bands from the early eighties that only had a keyboard or two and very few ideas.

Heroes of Cranberry Farm "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" b/w "???" Lancelot #201

Here is a pretty interesting score. It's a white label advance copy (and labeled as such) of a pop psych band doing the familiar burner that The Shirelle's popularized in 1960. This fantastic version was actually written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and covered by a ton of bands over the years (The Prophets, Bryan Ferry, and The French Kicks, to name a few). The B side is pretty good as well but track title was not listed.

Terry Hughes "Time To Turn" b/w "So Glad" 1982 Rubber Ball Records

My Aunt found this one for me. It came with a note from the bass player asking her out on a date. I guess it didn't work out because he's not my uncle. The record is really incredible and reminds me of So Alone era Johnny Thunders. I can't seem to find any other information on this record.

Willie Loco Alexander "Gin" b/w "Close Enough" 1980 Varulven Records

Willie "Loco" Alexander was most notable for playing in The Velvet Underground during the Doug Yule era. Alexander picked up on keyboards where Sterling Morrison left off on guitar in 1970. The record is a cross between glam and minimal synth with Alexander being credited for "vocals" only. Very amazing record, especially the A Side "Gin".

The Faint - So Sexual [Live 08.08.08]

The Faint were one of the most important bands in the late nineties emo explosion/hip indietronic transition that is still going strong to this day. November 1999 marked the arrival of their third studio effort, Blank Wave Arcade -an album that would shock and rock a lot of people, musicians and fans alike. Partially because it was a very different Faint record than it's mid-west emo/indie predecessor, and partially because no one was really experimenting in this fashion surrounding the time of its release. Countless numbers of aspiring indie and electronic bands today are influenced by this milestone in underground alternative music since it was one of the first times these specific genres converged.

This song, "So Sexual" depicts the struggles of aging female dancers. To me it will always mark the start of the current behaviors of all the hip girls found in all of our hip cities.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Urban Trash

I had no choice but to grab this ridiculous thing. The record is actually a split with Global Holocaust on a mid-nineties Canadian grind label. The Urban Trash side is pretty good. It's more grindcore than thrash as opposed to the GH side which is thrashier than it is grindy. The apocalypse-themed sample placed between GH's "Mother Earth" and "Dying Nature" is also quite entertaining.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wavves - Wavvves

I am torn between really liking this record and really hating it. Here are my reasons:


1) Nostalgic 80's skateboarding imagery on front cover and very cool and very skilled pen and ink graphic on back cover.
2) The fact that a San Diego kid in his early 20's is pumping this out is quite impressive.
3) The song structures are very simple and catchy.
4) The entire package he calls "Wavves" is drenched in talent.


1) The insert and label artwork is a super trendy/hip "look I can't draw but that's the point" played out, sick of it, style.
2) I love low-fi bedroom recordings as much as the next music creep, but some things get too low-fi, too abrasive. I wish I could hear these songs a little more polished up (with a hint of that hip "anti-popular, sounds like I dug this forty year old record out of the trash and attempted to play it despite the scratches and filth that have accumulated on it over the past four decades" thing).
3) I wish there was more of the distorted intro sequencer work and more clarity to the record overall.

Check it
So Bored MP3

Friday, October 2, 2009

Liquid Liquid - Cavern [1983]

The only music video commissioned by 99 Records, "Cavern" was originally released on their 1983 Optimo 12". It was covered the same year by Melle Mel and deceitfully credited as a Grandmaster & Melle Mel production and released on Sugarhill Records. Grandmaster Flash had actually already left the Gang by the time this was recorded, and had nothing to do with the production of the record whatsoever. Liquid Liquid's original version chanted "slip in and out of phenomenon" and the lifted vocal melody was rewritten as the more widely recognizable lyric: "something like a phenomenon". The song was originally set to be written about the cocaine-addicted lifestyles that many led at the time, but was changed by Sugar Hill Records to promote an anti-drug message. "White Lines (Don't Do It)" by Grandmaster & Melle Mel even included lyrics that told of the story of stainless steel car company DMC's CEO John DeLorean's bust involving the smuggling of large quantities of cocaine through the gas tanks of his cars. The lyric hinted at the group's discontent with DeLorean's release on bail after being busted with a couple dozen kilos of coke. Here is Liquid Liquid's original.

1977 NYC

This happened. Wish I could have made it out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ian Svenonious "Plays Pretty" for the gang.

I had a birthday this month and my good pal Matt was nice enough to buy me a ticket to see Ian Svenonious's new project "Chain and the Gang" perform at Space 1026 in Philly.

I first heard of Ian through my friend Mike and his crew back when I was a teenager. As supporters of the insanely creative Washington D.C. scene, Ian's band "Nation of Ulysses" quickly became a band that was often heard when we all hung out and blasted records late at night. At times, and at the very least, certain songs would make the track listing on countless mix tapes exchanged between our friends. NOU was great. They were essentially a punk band (who liked being considered a political party versus a musical group and) who wrote songs about conspiracies, unique and varied political stances, international relations, and even love. Their shows were rumored to have been nothing short of intense, with Svenonious's stage presence rivaling that of D.C. label mate's Guy Picciotto's (Fugazi) legendary dangerous on-stage antics. We're talking broken bones.

Ian went on to dabble within several experimental projects once the arrival of popular alternative rock destroyed his chances of touring and catching on the way he initially envisioned NOU would. One of those bands was "Cupid Car Club" - a band that would only release one 7" and contribute a few songs to a couple K records compilations released at that time. The imagery and vibe (another concept group that encouraged membership) of the release was similar to that of NOU, taking guitarist Steve Gamboa from NOU with him. Another change was that Delta 72's Kim Thompson would add vocals while playing bass. This would mark the beginning of Svenonious's preference to female bassists/singers. The band didn't last long as work with Make-Up took priority and eventually strangled CCC and left it for dead.

The Make-Up (sometimes referred to as simply "Make-Up") would become the most successful group to date in Svenonious's career. Gambona would join this time on drums for another round with Ian and groovy bassist Michelle Mae would come aboard. The band's catalog would become impressive quickly, with over fifteen releases (four being full length studio albums) and about a dozen appearances on compilations. They also released an amazing short film in 1998 Blue is Beautiful wherein the members perform live, experience a run-in with customs while crossing international lines, all while shot on 16mm camera.

Seeing the Make-Up was a real treat. They played at an eating club at Princeton University in New Jersey. It was Thursday March 2nd, 2000 and the other bands that performed were All Scars and the Gunga Din. Ted Leo introduced them M.C. Style and the second that the funk, garage bass kicked in Mr. Svenonious was wailing at the top his lungs like a hysterical James Brown. Clad in a vintage suit and sporting thick black sideburns with a wild bouffant hairstyle, he quickly climbed into the crowd with the assistance of a small wooden stool that he barged out onto stage with. He tugged at people's collars begging people to "reach deep down inside and find the seed that each one of us has planted in us". We bopped, danced, screamed, and rocked to the garagey riffs and "Gospel Yeh-yeh" ways of The Make Up. It was incredible. But it didn't last forever...

Ian released a solo record in 2001 under the name David Candy. The album: Play Power. Some bubble gum rock meets sixties espionage music and all tied together by "David's" restraining order worthy lyrics. Super creepy words with incredibly tasteful samples and riffs, Play Power is a complete success. There is also an incredible cover of the theme song to Rosemary's Baby. Even if you hate everything on the album, the cover song alone is worth the price of the record.

Ian continued with another band with a similar idea to that of The Make-Up, keeping Mae on bass but tapping more into the more colorful, less serious indie scene. They ironically first called themselves the Scene Creamers but quickly became Weird War. Their most popular song AK-47 can be seen performed in Brandon Canty's Burn To Shine Vol. 1 01-14-04. This band has proved to be another very productive project (releasing four studio albums on Chicago indie label Drag City) and has made no mention of disbanding.

Ian Svenenious's newest project to date is "Chain and the Gang", and seeing them was fantastic. Down with Liberty... Up with Chains is the album name, and jailhouse rock is their M.O. With songs ranging from conspiracies reviewed both outside the big house walls and behind bars, these crooks rock with a bland emotionless power that only hard time could be to blame. Imagine garage meets R&B meets Vietnam era classic rock with some hints that Svenonious aka "Chain" still has some gospel soul running through his poisoned veins.

I stood right up front and instantly did whatever I could to avoid eye contact with Ian. He historically enjoys incorporating the crowd in his somewhat improvised performances and being up front, I was basically asking for it. It turned out great, as his hugs and yells and pointing affected just about everyone,leaving no one to really stand out other than himself. What a time.

P.S. Do yourself a favor and watch as many episodes of Soft Focus as you can and read The Psychic Soviet.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Smashing Pumpkins - Stand Inside Your Love [2000]

Silent film style video shot in the vein of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, featuring a great song by a well known band. This video is for a song off of their much overlooked 2000 full length release Machina/The Machines of God.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Day I Stopped Breathing

Dear Sunny Day Real Estate,

Although you've mostly served as soundtracks to past relationships gone bad, tonight I tried my best to see in you in a new light and was successful in doing just that. Tonight's positive experience may have something to do with the fact that my first live SDRE experience in 1997 did not include Nate Mendel, (my bass playing idol as a young teenager in the mid nineties) and tonight did, or simply the fact that I got a solid unbiased chance to check you guys out with the simple company of good friends. Regardless, the anxiety surrounding my original worries of my favorite band as an awkward, dark teenager subsided the instant I heard the first riff of LP2's first track "Friday" kick in.

Your music kept me up at night as a kid, pondering the origin and thought processes you carried out when writing your music, and later I found myself hypnotized by Jeremy's ability to channel a pure emotion through his vocals when nearly speaking in tongues to wail the mysterious words found within the tracks of your second LP. Jeremy's words touched me like no other band could at the time and I felt as if I was experiencing a colorfully gloomy ride through life in some parallel dimension while all the changes in his life were occurring.

I remember meeting the first girl I loved through a radio broadcast of your song "Seven" back in 1995. I remember driving through New Mexico in 1996 on tours of the dessert while listening to LP2 on my headphones. I remember my initial fascination with "How it Feels...", and then things begin to fade. It was hard for me to embrace that third album knowing that Nate had left to play with "his other band" but I gave it a chance and it grew on me. After that I gave up, did my best to live my life, and didn't really look back.

When I heard of the reunion earlier this year, I did everything I could to get a ticket. I wanted to see you guys in NYC because that was the place I sped to in 1997 when I had just received my drivers licence. Tonight was epic. Terminal 5. 56th and 11th. It wasn't only because you played self-released or Sub Pop-era material (essentially Nate-era material sans "Guitar and video games"), it was for "Grendel", "Spade and Parade" (one of my all time favorites), and the new song you introduced us to. The new song felt like the dark hard pop elements of Diary came crashing into the dreamy atmospheric landscapes found within LP2. It was perfect.

Not only were you guys tight and real, but you came together with more energy than the past four shows I've seen you play over the course of the last twelve years. Thank you for being a forerunner in a genre of music I still get into, thank you for being the first band to get me into obsessively collecting vinyl, and thanks in advance for all the new memories. I wrote down all your songs as you played them tonight and intentionally refused to listen to you guys for the past several months to experience tonight as honestly as I could. The words came to me the second you took the stage.

SDRE, "although you hit me hard I'VE come back."


Song about an angel
Guitar and video games
Theo b


In circles
Spade and parade

Monday, September 21, 2009

Section 25 - New Horizon [1981]

Ambient waves roll into the ghost of Joy Division.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To Boston and Back

The drive up to Boston was a pain thanks to CT rush hour traffic that came to a crawl for about twenty miles at one point. We passed way too many fast food joints and once the sun went down, we made it into Boston. My cousin Matt and his lady Ashlee were nice enough to put us up, show us around town, and even recommend some really great record shops that weren't on our list to visit.

Needless to say (as depicted above), the stores were a hit. One of the most noticeable trends among the stores was the availability of mid period punk, indie, and post punk records as well as an expected surplus of local labels (Throbbing Lobster, Taang!, Modern Method, etc). We scooped up as much stuff by both bands we knew were great and bands we instinctively knew would be at least decent and we headed back home late Saturday night. I had set myself up to expect to find mostly hardcore and classic punk records in Boston, but left quite impressed. Boston is keeping up on great music just fine with no prospects of slowing down.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stockholm Monsters - Partyline [Live]

Watch the front man of this little known Factory band pull off his best Barney Sumner impression complete with 5 chord wonder solo.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


This weekend was great. I bought records off of some guy in a part of New Jersey that I have never been to before, checked out a bunch of NYC flea markets and record stores (and scored a handful of amazing records!), AND was lucky enough to have my buddy DAN SANTORO make my passion for those "obsolete discs" an official commitment. There are a lot of great things going on between my best pals and me concerning music and good times right now, and it's an understatement for me to say "I am excited".

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Un record fantastique!

So a few nights ago I was getting ready to cash in for the night and I thought about some of the records that I really wanted to add to my collection.
The Fantastic Planet soundtrack has managed to hang around at the top of my needs list for some time now. I was ready to ask my parents if they could shell out some cash and get this for me for my birthday or for Christmas - that's how badly I've wanted this thing. Well anyway, tonight a little dream came true. Not only did I find the soundtrack to one of my all-time favorite psych cartoon films, but I actually scored the original French gatefold pressing. Le Planete Sauvage, which translates exactly (and differently from the American version) as you think it would, sounds très
incroyable on vinyl!

If you have the patience, please enjoy the movie clip below before some angry film man makes me take it down.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

Little Record, BIG Hit.

Here's an interesting record collecting curiosity. After going through some crates of recently purchased rock 45s, out fell this little guy.

The packaging looks like a type of seed pouch that a gardening center would carry. It's a Philco-Ford Corporation product ("Hip-Pocket Records") and the back instructs: "FOR SINGLE PLAY PHONOGRAPH ONLY". Inside, there is a fitted piece of paperboard and a four inch, two-sided flexi record. Side 1 is Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" and Side 2 is "Midnight Special" by the same artist.

It's just too bad it couldn't have been a track by his earlier project "Them" or even a Van Morrison single off of
Astral Weeks. Now THAT would be Hip (pocket)!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hip Hop on the Turnpike

After investigating a large collection of 12" hip hop singles that were for sale, we headed down to Delaware. I have had very few positive experiences concerning purchasing 12" collections for a few reasons. Firstly, they are almost always destroyed because they are DJ'd and partied on harder than most records (except maybe some funk, heavy metal, or certain psych records where the listener(s) were generally pretty hit up when enjoying them).

We heard enough about the titles,condition, and quantities to make the three and a half hour round trip, and it was a success. I did, however, feel like I had entered another world when we got there. Just some huge emptiness in the air...and some local crackheads trying to swindle us out of some money. Regardless, we ended up with a car full of solid mid-period hip hop (and a couple earlier OG cuts), and the rest of the evening was quite "chill".

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Golden Oldie?

As if the term "oldies" wasn't annoying enough for you, how about when some no-name company repackages overstock of hit singles from the 80's and pushes it off as a "golden oldie". The Human League's "Don't You Want Me" is a far cry from an "oldie". Even now - roughly 15 years from this repackaing to hit the shelves. They even went as far as printing the song title AND their cat# on the packaging. The printing is really what pushes me over the edge. The fact that they printed the name of the song and group on the packaging means that the packaging and advertisement of a 1981 mainstream pop dance hit as a "golden oldie" was a conscious decision by this company. Imagine the startled elderly.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Wealth of Misinformation with Chris Leo

I had plans that I could not break the night that The Van Pelt reunited in Brooklyn so it was an instant mission of mine to catch them live wherever they played next. Their next show was scheduled to be in Washington D.C. at a venue that I knew all too well - The Black Cat. I as well as two of my best pals Mike and Tom have always dug the D.C. music scene and so convincing them to join me on a last-minute voyage to our nation's capital was a simple task.

We used to make it down to D.C. for every Fort Reno show we could, sleeping in the back of our friends' cars, sneaking ten people into one hotel room, or just plain not sleeping at all. We've tried to make it to every Fugazi show we could, accidentally and coincidentally caught a ride in the rain from Minor Threat's drummer Jeff Nelson's ex girlfriend, ran into the same people year after year, and never hesitated to act on any excuse we could find to head down there. A really interesting reoccurring factor on these trips has always been torrential rain. For some reason there have been more incredible rain storms on our trips there than not. Our June 2009 trip to see The Van Pelt would tally up another rainy trip down there.

Once we checked in at our hotel, we took some time to record shop, and like magic the sky cleared up completely. It was dark before long and so we made our way to The Black Cat. The idea of The Van Pelt reuniting was such an epic concept for me that the fact that Frodus was headlining the same show hardly excited me. Once I saw The Van Pelt setting up, I got right up front and saw something I thought I would never get to see.

Some music is with you always. It never fails you. This is how I feel about The Van Pelt. From memories of screaming the line "she's going away!" from "Don't Make Me Walk My Own Log" while getting into my Tux for my senior prom, to countless nights that were rescued by the cryptic, insightful lyrics found within all their songs. I consider The Van Pelt a work of art in every sense and this show furthered my feelings on the matter.

It wasn't long until the genius of their live performance in D.C. became apparent to me. The band lightly began strumming and playing "Let's Make a List" while rumblings of conversation in the crowd were still clearly dominant. This was the most perfect presentation of the song imaginable. On record, the song "Pockets of Pricks" ends with a track of what sounds like conversations being had at an interesting party. The track overlaps into the beginning of "Let's Make a List". The start of their set over the noisy crowd was a perfect live translation of an amazing recorded sound. The show continued on, and the band played songs from Both LPs and their EP. My eyes and ears gave full attention to this glorious time.

I went to see a noise show/ spoken word in NYC this past weekend. Chris performed there, showing words on index cards and reading prose that coincided with the words. His performance was interesting, entertaining, and very original. If anything, my reports on his efforts are simply DEBELLISHED.

IMFA: Tell me about your childhood. More specifically, what it was like growing up surrounded by your incredibly talented siblings Amy, Danny, and Ted?

CL: Kept you on your toes. My tinnitus began young from peripheral household cacophony. The tv was always on even if no one was watching it to keep the noise level comfortably constant. Our individual projects rarely overlapped though. Though we were all making shit, our personal MO's have always been of slightly different hues.

IMFA: Who or what were your first creative influences, do you feel that they are responsible for the shape of your current artistic state, and why?

CL: This would be a difficult thing to pinpoint, kind of chicken or egg type thing: did I choose my "artistic influences" because I'm already heading in a given direction or do/did they blindside me and set a new course? That being said, I can't remember ever being leveled by an entirely new way of thinking, except possibly losing my virginity late (18). New influences may have nudged me in new ways, but would I have even been receptive to them if they didn't already in some way ring true?

IMFA: Your band Native Nod stood out to me as a unique and thoughtfully creative band during a time when most bands in the underground hardcore and post-punk scene were collectively going for something completely different. How did this affect Native Nod?

CL: I guess we found our niche because of it. We never knew we were hardcore or punk though until much later when people told us we were. We thought we were melodic artsy grunge!

IMFA: What happened during or after The Van Pelt's release of Stealing From Our Favorite Thieves that resulted in the clean, minimalist approach The Van Pelt took when writing and recording Sultans of Sentiment?

CL: We approached each album as "albums" not "collections". So Stealing was our final go at the anthem, which felt like a dying breed of song. We were in our early 20's so, though we were fans of Branca, Gastro Del Sol, Philip Glass, et al, we were still American kids fresh from puberty and not ready to abandon the fight just yet. Stealing was our interrogation of the anthem as well as our declaration thereof; i.e. what role does it serve?/ it still serves a role! schizophrenia. Sultans was magic. I have no idea what we were doing, I have no idea how we all agreed upon our choices, I just know for being so lost thank god we still had enough residue of direction to glue it all together.

IMFA: There is evidence of atheism or a struggle with human belief found in the lyrics and titles of many of your works. From the subject matter discussed in "Yamato (where people really die)" to portions of song titles and details found within (heathens, fear, blindness, mourning, suffering, heaven ain't happenin', etc). What experiences or circumstances can you credit to this topic?

CL: I worked construction during my summers in High School. Everyone on the crew were public school raised God-fearing protestants. I was the only Catholic school raised ex-Catholic. They always asked me why so many Catholics were lapsed and I'd respond, "That's because we know what our religion is about. We study it, we learn it, and when you learn the nitty-gritty of anything you eventually doubt it."

IMFA: I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and hearing The Lapse, as well as the Octalapse project you did with Dalek. Did you and Toko have a plan of action for The Lapse, or was it essentially an obvious route for the two of you to travel as a couple once The Van Pelt disbanded?

CL: Toko and I were both at a similar point musically when the Van Pelt disbanded. I never stopped loving what Neil and Brian were making, but we were just on different pages at the time of collapse. We had been restraining ourselves for so long I was ready to burst. Again, music has always been more exploratory for me than intrinsic; that's to say pushing and testing my theories were more important to me than crafting perfect songs. We started the Lapse, honestly, because I had no idea why people came out to stand around and "see" bands when they could just listen to music at a space much more conducive to talking and getting laid. The Lapse may have been cruder than it needed to be (in retrospect), but I needed to test social crudeness and the musical side was an inextricable casualty of cross-fire.

IMFA: What is the story behind "The Speeding Train" being credited as both a Van Pelt song and a Lapse song?

CL: I thought and still think "The Speeding Train" was the apex of the Van Pelt's career. I couldn't get off enough on the idea of me playing my own song (as The Lapse) without anyone else on board (as The Van Pelt) felt like a cover, not an original. I also thought that as soon as a song gets covered it joins the public cultural canon, so by me covering my own song I thought I was adding the necessary distance to the song myth building mandates.

IMFA: I've noticed that in your more recent work (Vague Angels, and later Lapse) that you've gravitated toward subject matter that reflects sexuality and your interpretation on its place in society. Would you care to comment on that?

CL: Man, some kids develop a love for butterflies and they're encouraged to study entomology. Others like building things and they're encouraged to become architects. Some want to save the world from the top down and we push them towards politics. My passion is ass and all its related ripples that bleed into every other field. No one encourages you to pursue ass though. Ass, god knows why, is still incredibly discouraged. Little by little, but it is taking a lifetime, I am growing comfortable with what has always been my main motivation: ass.

IMFA: What can people expect for the future? More Van Pelt, more Vague Angels, another book?

CL: My next book will be called "Tales of the Vox Super Voltus". It's a collection of vignettes presented in the form of definitions. While that's being printed I'll duck out of sight for awhile and hopefully finish up a quasi-dormant novel I've had to lay aside called "We Pulse In Pink".
Also, Historics are releasing a series of 12"s with artwork by Mark McCoy and a serialized story called "Infinidelity" written by me. Regarding my own music, a final Van Pelt album and a Vague Angels album called "The Sunny Day I Caught Tintarella di Luna for a Picnic in the Cemetery" will be out in 2010. I'm sure I'm overlooking some massive opus I sweat over daily as well.

IMFA: If you were to die tomorrow, who would make it to your funeral, and what would be said?

CL: No dying for me, not manana, not ever.

Set List from The Black Cat. Washington, D.C. Saturday, June 20th

Let's Make a List
We are the Heathens
The Young Alchemists
The Good, The Bad and The Blind
His Steppe is My Prairie
It's a Suffering
Do The Lovers Still Meet at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
Yamato (Where People Really Die)
Magic Fantasy (We are Provincial)
Nanzen Kills a Cat
The Speeding Train

Friday, July 17, 2009

He's a Mess

Wreckless Eric - 07.16.09 - Asbury Park, NJ

My friends and I are kicking ourselves for letting Wreckless Eric's debut brown vinyl Stiff Records 10" slip through our hands a few years back when we came across a copy in a collection. Not that it is an obscure record by any means, nor are most copies of colored vinyl releases by any of Stiff's power pop/pre-new wave artists scarce in the least, but we are kicking ourselves on principal: Wreckless Eric was a solid pop artist for a good couple of years and tonight our faith in him was reaffirmed.

A lot of Eric's early work is where most people focus their attention and appreciation. The early stiff singles ("Reconnez Cherie", "Take The K.A.S.H.","Hit and Miss Judy", and "A Popsong" - to name a good few) are the songs that have stuck with most fans over the course of the past thirty-odd years. By the time Eric teamed up with new groups and released records on labels such as the French New Rose Records (home of Willie Alexander, Alex Chilton, Sky Saxon, and Roky Erickson), most people's attention had strayed. Eric Trudged on, toured and kept on writing, writing, writing.

At the end of the 1990's Eric was surprised to hear a very familiar song being covered by a female singer/guitarist in a low-key east coast club. It was his infamous 1977 single "(I'd Go The) Whole Wide World", but something was a little off. "You know there are only two chords to this song, don't you?" he asked the woman. Confused but interested, she turned to him for further advice, and he provided exactly that - showing her the chords she should be playing. He sang the song with her, and once he realized that she had no idea who he was, he remarked: "I wrote this you know." The woman was Amy Rigby, a veteran to the NYC punk movement/scene of the late seventies, and ex-wife of db's drummer Will Rigby. Four years would pass before the two would meet again, but when they finally reunited, they married and relocated in France.

Last night I purchased a few records from a friend. In those records was a copy of Eric's 1980 single "A Popsong". I played it last night, admiring not only the boasted A side, but I also discovered a new found appreciation for one of his earlier singles found on side B titled "Reconnez Cherie". This, along with a Wreckless Eric video that a friend e-mailed me today was enough to get me in the mood to catch a few live songs down at The Asbury Lanes.

For the past few years, Amy and Eric have been collaborating their efforts, writing songs individually and recently released them collaboratively. 2008's Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby, includes five songs written by Amy, three songs written by Eric, and three tracks that they wrote together. The songs are heartfelt and real, capturing a nostalgia in a folky, psychy, powerful fashion by way of big acoustic strumming, vintage 60's pop vocals, and unforgettable melodies. It's easily the best works for both of them in some time.

Tonight the duo sound checked with "Red Rubber Ball" by The Cyrkle. It was a great way to capture the attention of my friends and I, and although their set ended up being particularly lengthy and did not include "Red Rubber Ball", I remained entertained until the last track. The songs were a mix of songs from their 2008 album including a brilliant cover of Johnny Cash's "I still Miss Someone", numerous Wreckless Eric singles, a Flamin' Groovies cover, and plenty of hilariously wacky banter between songs. Their stage presence and chemistry was phenomenal. Amy's voice complimented Eric's beautifully, as did her hard alt-rock/alt-country guitar shredding.

I was able to chat briefly with Eric after the show. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey man. You killed it up there. Great stuff.
Eric: HUh..wuh? oh. Hey.
Me: Yeah I just wanted to say "hey" and let you know I thought you guys were great.
Eric: (laughs) ummm. well thanks. you know it's... well... yeah.
Me: Cool if my pal here snaps a picture of us?
Eric: yeah...ummm. pictures are... well. (laughs)

I shook his hand and walked away... leaving him to blast back off to whatever planet he came down from momentarily to play music for us all.