Monday, December 6, 2010


S/T 2x7"

2010 TSTF

This new Brooklyn based project is the latest from Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil). It's a three-piece this time, but there are no empty moments. The song subjects are all too familiar; Schwarzenbach pines over lost love and comments honestly on the real distractions surrounding the complications of modern emotion. The band lays down a powerful melodic punk landscape which Schwarzenbach decorates eloquently with his words. The overall feel is new, but musically reminiscent of mid-era Jawbreaker while the vocal melodies actually sound like the harder tracks off of JTB's Orange Rhyming Dictionary. Sound too good to be true? Well believe it, and take note of how wholesomely good the songs are. After a few listens you won't even notice that you are flipping each single record over after each track to hear the next. A truly relevant punk record.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"These are the kind of pizza prices I'd expect to see at a U2 concert" - Steph Cochrane on local pizzeria's decisions to raise the price of a slice to $4.00

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Haircut 100 sound like The Smiths meets the Saturday Night Live band" - Chip
Jeff Ogiba: "I get excited when I see that early Island label".

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Robbie Basho
"The Grail & The Lotus"
The Grail & The Lotus
Takoma Records [1966]

Early experimental and quite visual folk on John Fahey's label Takoma.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"I saw Frankie Goes to Hollywood... back in the 80's on that Welcome to the Pleasuredome tour. They played "Relax" during the set and then again at the end as an encore. Needless to say, the crowd went ballistic" - Anonymous Brooklyn Bartender

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gray Matter
Swann Street (Originally by 3)
Gray Matter Reunion [Black Cat Washington D.C. 9.12.08]

You can see me freaking out in the front row to this song. Definitely the highlight of that evening.

Dark Days Coming by 3 is finally back in print on Dischord. Thank the makers.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Jay Vons

"Maybe I Loved You"

2010 Cryptovision

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Vinyl Experience

I was lucky enough to get invited onto Paul Cavalonte's radio show at 101.9 WRXP this past Sunday to rep our shop. Paul was really genuine and his true love for all the things that come with the experience of listening to/playing/talking about records.
I've been a long time fan of another programmer on his station, Matt Pinfield, whose roots go back to my old stomping grounds of New Brunswick, NJ. I've always admired his knowledge and enthusiasm so I when I found out he'd be doing a show on RXP a couple years back, I tuned in regularly on my way to work. Getting a chance to meet Paul Cavalconte, who in an essence is a very similar wealth of record knowledge, was a real treat. Our conversations were healthy ones - from the "riverboat Reprise" labels on Hendrix's "Are You Experienced", to our mutual discontent with sound imperfections on the final tracks on either side of a 33 RPM Lp. I had a great time and look forward to future talks with a guy you should tune into a learn a little something from.

The Vinyl Experience 9am-10am 101.9 WRXP]

VE41 (Guest, Jeff Ogiba of Black Gold Records, Brooklyn)
Talking Heads: Once In A Lifetime
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: She Ain't A Child No More
Sonic Youth: Bull In the Heather
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: Young Adult Friction
Devo: Fresh
Real Estate: Atlantic City
The Byrds: Feel A Whole Lot Better
Wilco: War On War
Dinosaur Jr.: Pieces
Nirvana: On A Plain
Colin Newman: & Jury
Crystal Stilts: The Dazzled
T. Rex: Jeepster

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our new site is finally rolling. I'll do my best to stay opinionated on here, but a lot of energy has been going to the shop and this site: Black Gold Brooklyn

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Come out and be lonely and morbid with others just like you.

The last party was amazing. Music was perfect, crowd was energetic and positive, and drinks are always affordable.

Basement of 87 Ludlow

New York, NY

11:00pm 08.05.10 - 4:00am 08.06.10

For More info visit AFTER MIDNIGHT

I wanna see YOU there.

DEVOtees of the universe unite

"Fresh" [Live on Letterman 6.15.10]
Something For Everybody
Warner Brothers [2010]

This is the spudboys' first record in two decades and I think it's their best effort in nearly three. I generally forget about everything they did after 1981's New Traditionalists (wherein it is argued that their sound begins to fall off and become increasingly bland). Not only is Something For Everybody surprisingly listenable, it also doesn't fail to ignore the the topics of their original message of DEVO-lutio

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I never really heard this song the same way after getting that telephone call three years ago. Thinking about you my friend and wishing you were here to see how happy we all are.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I saw...

...The Feelies play live at Maxwell's last night and they nailed it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Verlaines
"Death and the Maiden"
Death and the Maiden 7"
1983 Flying Nun Records

First and most popular single by New Zealand indie pop greats.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Black Gold Records is proud to sponsor Psychedelic Summer, an exhibition presented by Seattle-based Art Collective CMRTYZ . The opening will include work by John Malta, C.M. Ruiz, Cassie Ramone, and Matthew Volz, and feature limited edition vinyl provided by Bachelor, Captured Tracks, CMRTYZ, Family Time, Floridas Dying, Goner, HoZac, Psychic Lunch, Vice, and others. The show began June 24th and will continue until July 24th. Visit RARE GALLERY for more info.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Still Crazy After All These Years



1970 Epic Records

Folky blues rock group featuring mad man Gary Busey in his early days.

The First Edition


1967 Reprise Records

Rockin' popular psychedelic rock featuring a young yet already bearded and wasted Kenny Rogers.

The Hassles

Hour of the Wolf

1969 United Artists

The second album by a group who introduced the world to keyboardist Billy Joel. The Hassles music help explain what was really churning in Mr. Allentown's head while later faking songs like "Uptown Girl".

The Amboy Dukes

Journey To The Center of The Mind

1968 Mainstream Records

Long before Ted "The Nuge" Nugent traded drugs and alcohol for quads and venison, he was a part of this amazing group whose albums' subjects raise questions on the activities of the members involved.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Black Gold Records - Now Open

Here are some shots from this morning before we opened our doors for day two. Yesterday's turnout was far beyond anything we could have hoped for. We will be uploading pictures of the event shortly. Sincere thanks to everyone who came, friends, family, strangers...

We should have our website rolling shortly, but for now you can follow us on all the social networks available at

Photos by Daniel Santoro

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fucked Up

The cover of Matador's 2010 Record Store Day's "Spiral Scratch" by the Toronto Hardcore ensemble, Fucked Up, depicts a Buffalo, NY record shop which has recently become another piece of music history.

Last week, Spiral Scratch had a fire which gutted the shop and closed the doors on the recently spotlighted shop. Total bummer. Best of luck to you guys.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Swell Maps
"Midget Submarines"
A Trip To Marineville (1979 Rough Trade)

Excellent video for classic track off of these original post-punkers' debut full length release, A Trip To Marineville. Featuring two of my favorite musicians from that era, Nikki Sudden (guitar) and brother "Epic Soundtracks" (drums), Swell Maps arrive strong out the gate with this important yet often publicly ignored release.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

IMFA updates have been slow, but progress with the shop has increased. Follow us on all the fun social networks by visiting

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Only Ones

"Another Girl Another Planet"

"Space travel's in my blood. There ain't nothin' I can do about it...""

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Broken Bells
Columbia Records (2010)

This is the latest from Shins frontman James Mercer and producer/musician known most popularly as "Danger Mouse". I am a fan of both Mercer and Danger Mouse's past projects, but this record does very, very little for me. The album is primarily an audial montage of samples, studio loops, and clips by Danger Mouse accompanied by painfully boring vocals by Mercer.

I haven't been impressed with what James Mercer has done with his voice in the past seven years (making 2003's
Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins my most recent favorite by him), and this latest project, "Broken Bells" just pushes my interest off further in that unfavorable direction. The songs are soulless and unmemorable and the forced combination of Mercer and "Mouse" remind me of one of the not-so-great tracks off of the Judgement Knight soundtrack.

You can hear the whole record
HERE. And listen hard for the highlights in Mercer's voice that aren't highlighted at all, and try to stay focused despite the predictable compositions that seem to never end.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"The hurting never ends like birthdays and old friends"

Red House Painters
"Medicine Bottle" [Live at Black Cat, Washington, DC. 11.29.96]
from the 1992 album,
Down Colorful Hill

I bought the album when I was recording in D.C. in 2000 and listened to it every night on my headphones. It was the first time I had ever heard anything of its sort. The erie spaciousness, lengthy tracks, and nonconventional quiet mix still stands out to me to this day. Here it is live.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The New Age Steppers

The New Age Steppers
Statik Records [1981]

If the mention of satisfying grooves and relaxing hooks found within this spacey dub project doesn't catch your fancy, maybe hearing that this Staik Records release (Echo and The Bunnymen, The Sound, The Chameleons) features members of Rip, RIg & Panic, The Pop Group, and The Slits with do it for you. This is one of the more recent records I've stumbled upon that captured my attention and emotions like an erie nostalgia for something I'm just beginning to form history with.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Great Run: Alex Chilton 1950-2010

The world lost yet another great yesterday. Alex Chilton, the young front man of the sixties rock group The Box Tops, who later went on to play with power pop sensations Big Star, died of a heart attack yesterday. Chilton had teamed up with dozens of respectable artists over the past several decades and also had a very influential, and impressive solo career. He was fifty-nine years old.

MTV 120 Minutes (1985) promotion for Feudalist Tarts LP on Bigtime Records.

Alex Chilton in The Box Tops performing "The Letter" on Upbeat (1967)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


When some great friends got together and talked about about the future, it went something like this...

We are currently preparing to open our doors at 461 Court Street in Carroll Gardens, Brookyln. Please contact me with any questions/comments/requests/etc. Thanks for all your support thus far.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Baltimore musician performs "Ohio"

Dan Deacon
"Ohio" and interview
NBC Morning Show

Mark Mothersbaugh meets Atom from Atom and his Package on live television.

"I try to write music that I think if like really cool six year olds got together and had this stuff and they were like let's write the most awesome music ever this is hopefully what I hope they would could up with"

Pretty genius. Props: Dan. **Also check out the "Drinking Out Of Cups" video.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Sirs - She Gets Me High

The Sirs
She Gets Me High 7"
Devildance Records [2010]

This record could have been called "see the forest for the trees", because that idiom essentially spells out my refection on the place we were all in during the time we wrote the songs. Things were confusing for us as friends who had recently lost a great friend and band mate and also watched the vast chain reaction of negative events and further losses that occurred following the initial trauma.

The record isn't especially complex on the surface, but the emotions and situations that drove us to make these songs were very complex. My lyrics were the rawest, most real form of expression that I could bring myself to face. Times were so surreal and intense, that the brevity of my explanations were synonymous to that of a two-word description of an epic dream.

The songs to me, were about escapism and denial. They were also about the long drawn out chaos that came with self-destructive lovers. Some of which were affected by the events of the time, and both sets of whom could only stand one another in dishonest, impure forms. The songs did and do not promote any kind of abuse on chemicals or on others, but rather they attempt to capture the truthful nature of the nightmares that life presented us with at that time.

The record might only be four tracks, but it's one of the only tangible pieces of evidence that remain from the whirlwind we once weathered together.

This 7" will be available on Devildance Records by the end of the month. The album is currently available for download on itunes and CD Baby

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's all Family Fun and Games until someone loses the band bank.

Pretty hilarious coverage of a situation involving some old friends of mine from the Ellis Island, NY band "Family Fun".

Check them out HERE

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Fourth Horseman of the Emopocalypse

The fun indie pioneers, Cap'n Jazz surprised many last month with an unannounced 4-song reunion set (Little League, Oh Messy Life, We Are Scientists, and Que Suerte!) at Chicago's Empty Bottle. As you could imagine, rumors of the band reuniting and touring spread as quickly as they could, and more recently, reality has struck: There will be a tour and their Wilmington, Delaware Hardcore-gone-emo-gone-hardcore record label, Jade Tree will finally be pressing their anthology on vinyl.

I was eighteen years old when I bought the CD anthology title "Analphabetapolothology" after catching a few of their random tracks on 7" releases that were still readily available at the time. I thought it was great, and FUN if nothing else. It was a great piece of living history of a genre that was at its pinnacle. Or so we thought.

What turned me off from the beginning wasn't the music, but rather the attitude that the Cap'n Jazz fans some twelve years ago had. Before the days of Makeout Club, or Friendster, or Myspace, or Facebook, people hit up bulletin boards and joined e-mail mailing lists. It was always a pleasure to find an e-mail from the EMO-GROUP in my inbox, that is until I attempted to discuss the band Cap'n Jazz.

From day one, kids were really hardcore about these guys and I still don't get it. Sure, the Kinsella brothers went on to play in some of the more influential bands of the style's more recent days, and Davey von Bohlen ... well he pretty much ended up securing the cornerstone vocal sound for the style by the turn of the new millenium, but Cap'n Jazz, to me, remained a novelty band that was better left as a valiant first attempt. The kids who followed Cap'n Jazz (who had long broken up by the time the anthology was originally released) were just plain mean. They ripped into anyone who had anything to say about the band, insult or praise. To this day I still can't understand their reasons, but I chalk it up to the feeling of entitlement that a lot of fans of more sensitive, intimate indie music still possess.

The current state of the know-it-all indie fan base is bad enough as it is, and I cringe to predict a whole new world of back-tracking music nerds, but it is inevitable. If the band plays a few shows to sell a handful of LPs, I think we will all live. If they attempt to make Cap'n Jazz out to be something bigger than it was (which was essentially a birthday party sized sloppy, melodic singalong) then the past will be rewritten. And to that I say: "Let the thin kids get that skinny neck hex".

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Transmission: FAILED

Ok, so my alarm clock radio just woke me up by playing the song "Fireflies" by the band Owl City. This song and video really infuriate me to a degree that no song has been able to in a long time. Congratulations art boy - you got a rise out of me.

The Postal Service's popularity was always there and always strongly peeking out above the underground indie scene, and sure I got sick of them pretty quickly because of that, but I never for one second thought that they were a bad or unoriginal band by any means. I also never felt the embarrassment or disappointment in them that I felt when I first heard this Owl City atrocity.

This disgusting imitation of The Postal Service's novel unique sound by a pseudo-city boy transplant who calls himself "Owl City" is unbelievable to me. Not only are the tempos and the sequencing straight LIFTED from The Postal Service, but the the kid's voice is so close to Ben Gibbard's (of The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie fame) that it must intensely frighten the both of them.

If you think I am being too hard on this kid or you can't hear the resemblance with the given example below, consider this: The mainstream formulation of great music has historically ruined amazing songs, sounds, and groups. Imagine Britney Spears singing the Fireflies song and you'll understand what I am getting at. This day better get better fast. Puke.

The Postal Service "Such Great Heights"

Owl City "Fireflies"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Black Heart Procession "Not Just Words" Live at the Casbah [4.23.08]

Here's a band that just keeps getting better and better. Since their 1997 emergence in San Diego, California, Black Heart Procession has continued to impress me with every new release to date. Over the course of the band's first thirteen years, they've not only managed to develop their unique, honest sound, but they've also had the pleasure of collaborating with some very talented musicians. Matt Resovich and Jimmy LaValle (San Diego superstar who made his mark in bands like Swing Kids, The Crimson Curse, The Locust, Tristeza, and The Album Leaf - all long-time favorites of mine), and Joe Plummer (who would leave to play drums for Modest Mouse in 2006 and then for The Shins in 2009) are some of the more notable "Procession Participants".

(The) Black Heart Procession have a perfectly fitting name for an indie band whose lyrics and sounds depict something very visually dismal and real. Here is a live cut from "Not Just Words" off of their 2006 album
The Spell - a perfect example of the band's success and current maturity.

Days peel off and pass away
Like souvenirs from a distant place
Postcards from your memories

Just like an old love line
Or dividing wall that fell
This'll never be forgotten
These are not just words

Do you remember
The things we said?
Do you remember
The things we said?

The smoke and script changed through the years
The stories blend and lies were fed
I know some things can't be explained

Just like an old scar
Or this thorn in my side
This'll never be forgotten
These are not just words

Do you remember
The things we said?
Do you remember
The things we said?

I'll try to remember
The things we said
I'll try to remember
The things we said

Of all these things we have forgotten
There are no "just words"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rockin' Brunswick - 1983

Here's a documentary on New Brunswick, New Jersey's growing music scene as captured in 1983. Some of the more notable details of this video are the presence of music personality Matt Pinfield (who actually has SOME hair at the time), the New Brunswick skyline (with about two buildings), and the energetically vibrant new wave scene of the time. This was recently transferred from its archaic Beta format.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

True Definition of World Music

In 1977, NASA launched The Voyager Spacecraft into space and included something really interesting on Voyager 1: A 12" gold-plated copper record album with a vast library of information on our planet, Earth.

There are several sound clips followed by several dozen "analog" images on the disc as well as a cover that includes some simple related diagrams. The purpose of the record was to detail the story of life on Earth and the story of the humans who currently (1977-????) inhabit Earth. In 2008, The Voyager 1 and the Voyager Golden Record officially left our solar system and made for the closest star, AC+79 3888. Assuming it will travel uninterrupted, the craft is set to arrive near the star's system in approximately 40,000 years.

The Voyager Golden Record. Left Earth for the unknown in 1977.

A picture of Voyager Golden Record's cover.

The Record also contains:

Greetings in over fifty five languages.

An explanation of our then understanding of mathematics, a relativity chart indicting our records for the psychics on Earth, Graphs of our understanding of our whereabouts in the galaxy in relation to the planets in our solar system, a chart of the color light spectrum, information on our planets, images charting the human anatomy, comprehensive storyboard of how human reproduction works, diagrams of continental drift, Earth landscapes, pictures of animals found in the world, the Great Wall of China and other epic structures, cities and other architectural feats, modes of transportation along with bridges and roads,images of our space exploration, and information on the styles and the history of our world's music.

There are Famous rock songs, blues songs, classical songs, world songs and much more included at half the speed of a standard LP (only 16⅔ revolutions per minute)
Hear all audio HERE

The record also contains an hour long brainwave recording of author Ann Druyan and was sent with a uranium sample so in the event that it is discovered, beings could determine the age by using the principals of half-life.

For more info and a visual tour, visit the OFFICIAL VOYAGER GOLDEN RECORD SITE

Monday, February 1, 2010

Indian Summer - Live at Pitzer College [10.31.93]

I don't know if I'm just being nostalgic or if cycles of time in my life are swinging back around a familiar bend, but I've really been feeling these guys again lately. The mystery behind Indian Summer's honest yet distant sound pulled me in the first time I heard them play. Their hand-screened 7" covers and haphazardly typed and assembled liner notes made me want to delve deeper into that mystery.

The simplicity of a muffled Billie Holiday record drowning in the backdrop of their explosively emotional performance spoke loudly to me. Their words were a disturbingly accurate representation of the way a lot of people were feeling in my close circle of friends around the end of the nineties. Indian Summer was punk, and really punk, but their approach was more intimate than anything I had ever heard before. There have been countless indie, punk, and screamo bands since then that have had me saying "Indian Summer did it first".




Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just You and Me Punk Rock Girl

Today my lady and I went to the Eastern State Penitentiary in the northwestern region of Philadelphia, PA known as Fairmount. We both enjoy our fair share of history lessons, along with ghost stories, tales of old time criminals, and of course arts and music. ESP quickly presented itself as a rich provider of these elements from the moment we walked up on the joint's thirty foot castle walls.

Entering through the one and only entrance (with the exception of a small escape tunnel that was dug by inmates in 1945) we began our scheduled tour. There were long eerie cells blocks all radiating outward from a central lookout hub, as well as paint chipped ceilings, rusted nineteenth century plumbing, and the expected remnants of an aged prison.

There are ghost stories about this place available, a peek into Al Capone's cell, and countless other attractive features included in the tours of ESP. Of all the stories they tell, they leave out one story I really like. It's the story of the video for the most commercially successful song by Philly fun punk pioneers The Dead Milkmen. The song is one we all know and love: "Punk Rock Girl" off of the Milkmen's 1988 album Beelzebubba .

The iconic video for this song was clearly filmed on location at the Eastern State Penitentiary. The prison was abandoned from 1971 -1994, so the filming of the video took place during a time when the prison was even more run down than what we experienced today. The most noticeable difference being the now cleared courtyards and hallways that were then filled with tall trees and plant life. I kept an eye out for other recognizable areas of the prison that I remember from the video and noticed quite a lot - including the "Worship Room" that is punk rock girl's "parents' house" in the music video.

All in all it was an amazing experience and my only regret is not checking it out sooner. My lady and I went to a pizzeria afterwards but didn't order hot tea and I didn't get her a fudge banana swirl, but she DID leave with a pretty sweet souvenir featuring "Pep" the prison dog, and a great memory of a really amazing place.

Wire 70's 45 releases

The London, England group Wire put out some of the greatest looking and greatest sounding post-punk singles of the late seventies. Almost all of these early singles were released on the Harvest label, with the exception of the 154 single for "Our Swimmer" which came out on Rough Trade at the very end of the seventies.

Mannequin Harvest [1978]

Dot Dash Harvest [1978]

I am The Fly Harvest [1978]

Outdoor Miner Harvest [1978]

A Question of Degree Harvest [1979]

Map Ref. 41ºN 93ºW Harvest [1979]

Our Swimmer Rough Trade [1979]

Live footage of one of my all time favorite performances of one of my all time favorite Wire songs "Map Ref. 41ºN 93ºW". [TV Allamande 1979]

Friday, January 22, 2010

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want

The Smiths [Live]

Dream Academy [cover]

Dreamy Academy [cover/instumental]
from Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is...A LOVE STORY

You've heard the rumors, now come get the facts...

[01.31.10] - [02.22.10]
6pm -8pm opening reception

A split exhibition
Daniel Albrigo / Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Renwick gallery nyc
Renwick Gallery
45 Renwick Street
New York, NY 10013

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express [2009]

Kraftwerk's 1974 masterpiece Autobahn made some serious noise in the experimental electronic music scene of the early 1970's. The album was a bold transition from their earlier Krautrock dabblings found in Kraftwerk 1, Kraftwerk 2, and the aptly titled Ralf und Florian release but it wasn't the first time that its type of music was achieved, nor was it the first time a concept of it's kind appeared in music. It was however, certainly different to see a full group of German men in a band sans rock instruments (but rather homemade electronic gear) doing so well.

My favorite Kraftwerk records remain
Autobahn, Trans-Europe Express, and The Man Machine. There is a European utilitarian feel to the latter two, but they soon moved on to embrace the futuristic theme that many other bands of the time would also attempt. Some of the group's work into the 80's and beyond became unbearable (the popular competitive sound of other cringe-worthy 80's groups could take the blame for this too). Following some mediocre Kraftwerk releases came the expected remixing and repackaging of their mid-period hits.

My friend recently pointed out the new cover art on the most recent [2009] pressing of
Trans-Europe Express. I'm sure there is an explanation for the decision to put out a version of the album that looks like this, but I think it's pretty bad. Is this just an unsuccessful minimalist piece by former Kraftwerker/group artist Emil Schult, or a modern-day outsider's interpretation of the epic album? It just plain lacks - Not just the new school image of the TEE, but the separation of the double line Title/Artist found on almost all previous versions. Most notably, the division of "Trans-Europe Express" and "Kraftwerk" found in the updated cover's layout seems eerily symbolic.

Capitol UK LP [1977]

Capitol US LP [1977]

EMI Capitol DE 7" [1977]

Mute/Kling Klang UK & US LP [2009]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Death Has Formed. Farewell Jay Reatard [1980-2010]

Jay Reatard Live @ Bowery Ballroom NYC - [04.21.08] - photo by Chris von Beidel

I don't want to speculate too much without the facts, but the indisputable truth is that today is a really sad day. Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr. a.k.a "Jay Reatard", the Memphis neo-garage whirlwind guitarist and songwriter was found dead in his bed in his Memphis home at 3:30 a.m. He came on the scene as an underground indie sensation and seemed to produce more records than any attentive fan could scramble to keep up with. Not only is the count of his solo releases massive, but his work with other projects and contributions to other groups over the past decade or so are in great and impressive numbers as well.

If you were there to notice, Jay not only made a visible transformation over the years, but he also seemed to dig himself deeper into a pit of self-destruction that became evident in his live performances, lyrical subject matter, and blatant disregard for his surroundings. We can leave it at that. The hype that came with the Jay Reatard explosion of the past few years was enough to turn me off for awhile, but I never forgot and never will.

Jay Reatard - "Death is Forming" - Blood Visions - [2006] In The Red Recordings

Alone in a room
Needless I sit
I close my eyes
and try to forget
Death is calling
get in line

Death is forming
Forming death
Death is calling
Death is forming
Forming death
Death is calling
Get in line

Alone in a room
Needless I sit
I close my eyes
and try to forget
Death is calling
get in line

Death is forming
Forming death
Death is forming
Death is forming
Forming death
Death is calling
Get in line

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Get PSYCHED on Roky Erickson: Then, Now, and Forever

Roky Erickson and his band The 13th Floor Elevators were truly one of the founders of psychedelic rock as we know it. Before they came on the scene and actually coined the term "psychedelic rock", there were only a handful of psych-surf and pre british invasion bands, avant garde early psych electronic composers, and the occasional free jazz session musician who weren't even grouped as psychedelic until much later. To give you an idea of how early this all occurred, Thirteen Floor Elevators considered themselves "Psychedelic Rock" before The Beatles released Revolver, before Pink Floyd did a single light show, before the Byrds released "Eight Miles High", before "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys was cut, before Blonde on Blonde by Dylan hit the stands, before Shadows of Knight got trippy with the release of Back Door Men, before Blues Magoos's "Psychedelic Lollipop" stole airwaves, before Electric Prunes had "Too Much To Dream" , and before the 3-Day Trips festival (that marked the start of the SF psych movement) even started. The boys were truly on to something. Unfortunately, after a stoned run-in with the police, Erickson landed himself in some trouble. He thought it would be a good idea to plead insanity to a marijuana possession charge and bought himself a ticket to hell - in the form of several years of hospitalization which included damaging experimental therapy for what they then thought was schizophrenia.

Above is one of my prized possessions. It's an original stereo copy of The Elevators's second album Easter Everywhere on the International Artists label. Although mono copies yield a higher return on the secondary market, the fact that experimental stereo tracking rock albums was young in the mid sixties makes this record remarkably interesting. One amazing example can be found with the lead guitar on the final verse of "Slip Inside This House". With the proper equipment and settings, the aforementioned riff sounds three-dimensional and huge.

"You're Gonna Miss Me" - 13th Floor Elevators [Live 1966]

A brief timeline of Roky's psychedelic life so far*

[07.15.47] Roger "Roky" Kynard Erickson is born in Austin Texas
[05.1964] quits high school and joins garage rock band The Spades
[1965] starts a band quickly named 13th Floor Elevators (drummer James Walton brainstormed idea "Elevators" and jug player/"manager" Tommy Hall's wife Clementine came up with the rest.
[01.66] "Psychedelic Rock" is written on members of the Elevators's business cards. This is the first known use of the term.
[02.10.66] The Austin Statesman local Texas newspaper reviews an Elevators gig: Unique Elevators shine as "Psychedelic Rock" This is the first documented public mention of the term "Psychedelic Rock" 11/30/66 Psychedelic Sounds of 13th Floor Elevators is released
[02.22.69] Roky is arrested for possession of a "marijuana cigarette" this ends the Elevators.
[03.12.69] Roky is court ordered to Austin State Hospital for examination
[03.13.69] Dr. Erwin Toboada diagnosis Roky: "Schizophrenia acute, undifferentiated"
[05.23.69] Roky outwits personnel at Austin State Hospital and escapes.
[07.15.69] Roky is arrested in Austin and returned to Austin State Hospital
[07.29.69] Austin State Hospital discharges and transfers Roky to Rusk State Hospital.
[10.08.69] Roky is ruled "insane" by the 147th Judicial District, court of Travis County Texas.
[11.28.69] Austin District Court rules Roky sane and he is released from Rusk State hospital. At some point shortly thereafter Roky is readmitted to the same hospital where he undergoes years of electroconvulsive therapy and treatment with Thorazine - a drug that causes a "chemical lobotomy" and has turned cases of permanent brain damage.
[07.07.72] J. Grady Baskin M.D. of Rusk State Hospital states: "Recommended dismissal from hospital" but Dr. J.A. Hunter states: "Patient was thought to be floridly psychotic at the time of his admission here - psychosis on a toxic basis, due to multiple drug abuse. After admission he had a number of frequent visitors, including his mother , his attorney, and his girlfriend, along with members of his musical group. Following these visits his psychosis became much worse and we began to suspect his visitors were smuggling drugs to him... Erickson is legally sane , but I feel he still requires hospitalization for the welfare and protection of himself and others".
[03.1975] Roky claims he is a notarized alien from Mars and that his songs are ESP transmissions from his home planet. He starts a band called "Bleib Alien"
[1979] "Bleib Alein" is renamed "Roky Erickson and the Aliens"

People who were close with Roky claim that he was never the same after his hospitalizations, and although many blamed his drug abuse on his damaged mental condition, there is speculation surrounding what really happened to the genius behind the music. He has continued to make was he calls "Horror Rock", another genre that still exists today that he helped popularize.

Above is a hand silk screened poster for the Roky events. This is an edition of 110.

I was lucky enough to snag tickets for Roky's show at Southpaw in Park Slope Brooklyn on New Years Day (01.01.10) and his show the next night (01.02.10) in Hoboken at Maxwell's...

The night in Brooklyn was ridiculous. It was three great friends of mine and me along with a small crew of friends from New York who met up earlier and rolled up in time to catch all three bands. I can't make up my mind about the opening band, The Back C.C.'s. They were really tight surfy garage fuzz with lo-fi fuzz vocals. I thought they were talented, but boring. I heard reviews throughout the night from friends such as "sounded like one big song" and "would have been good fifty years ago but long forgotten now". They were decent, but nothing else really. The Fleshtones were a different story. I've never been a huge fan of theirs, but I thoroughly appreciate their unique sound and their ability to maintain their originality over the past thirty-three years. Any band of animated white men who claim to be garage rock yet get filed with the likes of James Brown and other soul/freakbeat acts is ok in my book. (Ironic that the band named themselves after the long discontinued Crayola Crayon color, huh?!) I mean it was weird to see dudes that are old enough to be childhood friends of my father 's parading around in loud, tight paisley silk shirts, but that was quickly forgotten once their antics kicked in. That along with my hysterical visions of these men taking their sweethearts to their Pocono Mountain retreats to show off some killer ski stunts that the 90's weren't ready for came to an end once their performance really kicked in. Let's just say that their band practices must be a spectacle and that this was the first human guitar solo pyramid I've seen carried out successfully by men over fifty...ok, I'll admit it was the first one I've ever seen. But it was unreal.

Roky playing 01.01.10 at Southpaw in Park Slope Brooklyn. Photo by Fran Mark.

After we all had a few minutes to recover from the Fleshtones, Roky took the stage slowly and was assisted by band members once he approached his mic. His over-sized work shirt, gnarly hair and beard spoke loudly yet he had not even said a word. Actually he would go on to not say a single word the entire set. People cheered and called out their favorite hits and he just turned his back nervously and nodded to his band. Once the drummer clicked off, Roky let out howling authentic vocals and stared out into the crowd. It didn't help that our friend Peter, the second tallest guy in the entire bar (which was packed with a sold out crowd) was standing next to me up front near stage right. We laughed at the fact that Roky appeared to make several rounds of eye contact with us, making the experience that much creepier.

Roky played out of a smaller amp that although seemingly achieved the best tone of all three string players, was turned down too low as a handicap to his slightly sloppy strumming. The lead guitarist was sensational, not only nailing the roots of all the songs, but even improving on the solos and really getting into the bends and hammer-ons of the more intense breakdowns. The lead guitarist's tone wasn't as good as Roky's, but I'm not complaining. The guy ripped. The drummer kept the beat and did his job but did little to impress me, and the bassist, oh the bassist. This guy was a clown. I felt bad for him at one point but then he was quickly demoted back into the "why did THAT GUY get to play with Roky" category. The dumb things he said on the mic embarrassed me for him and really took away from the show. Plus he looked like a misplaced late nineties Andy Dick impersonator and that really does nothing for me. His playing was sub-par and he didn't seem to remember a lot of the timing and counts on the back up vocals he attempted. In all fairness, I'd say Roky was stoked with the lead guitarist and drummer and just oblivious to the tool clowning the bass.

The guys played through over a dozen songs, including a version of 13th Floor Elevators "You're Gonna Miss Me" with Fleshtones Front man Peter Zaremba on harmonica. When I first saw him hop back on stage I was like... "oh man... not again..." but he impressed all with his amazing rendition on harmonica. The show was surreal to say the least and Roky belted out each line of lyrics like he really meant it.

The crowd cheered for an encore, but Southpaw closed the curtains and threw on their house system (which seemed to be blaring amazing garage and soul for a lot of the night).

The next night I rolled up to Maxwell's with my friend Matt and our respective girlfriends. The place packed in pretty tightly for the opening act "Love City" and then really tightly once "Love City" left the stage. They were decent, but again I'm gonna be real about this and just put it out there that beyond what seems to be some sort of quiet rock band/venue nepotism lies many-a-band dying to get on a bill with Roky. Just food for thought. Regardless, the crowd squeezed and released as if it were breathing huge, anxious breaths of air. Luckily my lady and I got a spot near some old Elevator fans and had the luxury of hearing about their personal wishes for the show they would see in the relatively short future on the stage just right in front of their faces.

The crowd erupted and parted for Roky (when he entered through the venue entrance and trudged through to the stage). Hipster dorks and overzealous hippies alike praised his entrance. The hippies knew his deal and gave him space. The hipsters flashed cameras in his face and reached out to touch him and annoy him, unbeknownst to and or disrespectful of his condition. It set me off right away but once he took the stage and started shredding with the guys I was happy again.

The lead guitarist rocked harder than he did in Brooklyn, the drummer hit a little harder than he did in Brooklyn, and the bassist annoyed me a little harder than he did in Brooklyn. Luckily the crowd noticed and heckled the bassist until he basically "zipped it". It was the fact that the bassist was talking about Roky the way my mom talks about my hearing-impaired grandfather - she acts like he's not there. It was insulting enough to the crowd that someone spoke up. I was thankful because if I had to hear him introduce Roky one more time, I was going to say something. It just got old and annoying. Not to mention he was worse on his back ups and bass lines, and made more stupid faces and comical contributions to an event that was supposed to be DEVOID OF HUMOR. Well, at least for the most part.

Anyway, Roky tore it up again, but I noticed he was really, really nervous for this show. He wasn't committing to the final notes or chords on each song and would turn and face the drummer to hide his fear and insecurity during the end of each song. in his defense, the crowd was loud and demanding, the space was small, it was late and freezing outside, and they played a huge set. His vocals were dead on for most songs and his guitar playing overall was pretty good. They played some really amazing cover songs really well, and I was overall very pleased with the night. When they closed with "Don't Slander Me" and left the stage, I swear I saw tears in Roky's eyes. I really hope they were out of happiness because the man has really left a great mark on my soul, and I know I speak on many other's behalf.

Thanks Roky, for taking one for the team and doing things that directly and indirectly caused not only psych to live on in many forms, but for punk rock, grunge, and alternative to have an influential history that predates the rock of the seventies. You are one of the most important musicians of our time.

Roky Erickson - Maxwell's Hoboken, NJ 01.02.10 Set List
(all songs credited to Roky Erickson and The Aliens unless noted otherwise)

1) Cold Night For Alligators
2) Creature with the Atom Brain
3) The Wind and More
4) Bloody Hammer
5) The Beast (Roky Erickson & Evil Hook Wildlife E.T.)
6) Stand For the Fire Demon
7) Night of The Vampire
8) Don't Shake Me Lucifer
9) I Walked with a Zombie
10) Oh! My Soul (Little Richard cover!)
11) I'm a Gonna Love You Too (Buddy Holly cover!)
12) Splash 1 (13th Floor Elevators)
13) You're Gonna Miss Me (13th Floor Elevators)
14) Red Temple Prayer / Two Headed Dog (Roky Erickson & Bleib Alien)
15) Don't Slander Me (Roky Erickson)

Roky Erickson Interview and live Cold Night For Alligators by Roky Erickson and The Aliens.
Thanks to WhollyGhost for this edit. These are some clips from a VHS that was in circulation a few years back. It also includes other interested local access cable show clips, live Aliens clips, interviews and more. There is a currently a DVD compilation of much of this footage available on the secondary market.

*Please note that these facts and figures have been taken from various REAL printed resources including interviews with Roky and other band members, news paper clippings, and archived billboard charts. These are not heresy and some dates and facts vary from the entries and websites found online. I did my best to only post what I was confidant in being 100% correct regardless of what seems to be popularly believed online today.