I almost want to get into a whole rant bemoaning the distressing lack of any perverse "theatricality" in most underground music these days, or the abysmally scant amount of genuine creepiness coming from whatever passes itself off as goth at this point, but man, it must be said that they really don't make 'em like the Virgin Prunes anymore. Aside from their ingeniously flamboyant and unsettling nightmare of a live show, the band, especially in the early days, had a great post-industrial undercurrent seeping through their sonics (their Herese release is especially representative of the band at their most chaotically perverse). Anyway, here's Gavin, Gigi, and the crew doing what they do best, all with a slyly campy, deadpan creepy cool. Still hard to believe they were old buds of U2, eh?
When crunk hit big a few years back, Atlanta was the central city representing all of the dirty south. But a lot of what Atlanta took to the mainstream had already been simmering throughout the south in the underground for years. Houston's DJ Screw and SUC have gotten a lot of well deserved credit lately. Not as much attention has been paid to Memphis bump, likely because it was so hard and violent. I won't claim to be an expert on this shit, but I have been listening pretty obsessively to everything I can get my hands on in the past month or two. Funny enough, the internet's best primer on Memphis bump comes from some weirdo on a pot-centric message board. But hands down, my favorite rapper representing Memphis bump is Tommy Wright III, who released a ton of tapes back in the day but never got picked up nationally when Three 6 Mafia blew up. Below is 1994's AMAZING AMAZING tape Runnin and Gunnin. Enjoy this one, because I definitely am, again and again.
I'm also pretty blown away by this video too - Tommy leads a Cribs style tour of his house that is super surreal because he doesn't seem to own any furnishings at all. Also highly recommended is this "interview", where Tommy and his crew The Manson Family are pretty much just acting wasted.
Brave - 1. Willing to face danger, pain, or trouble; not afraid; having courage 2. showing to good effect; having a fine appearance 3. fine, grand, or splendid.
Daredevil - bold and reckless.
“America is a willingness of the heart” - F Scott Fitzgerald
Only in America could a man like Robert “Evel” Knievel exist. Brash, brave and bold, Evel Knievel is as American as apple pie, fireworks and the Las Vegas strip. Ceremoniously draped in his red, white and blue leather jumpsuit, he captivated the world with his jaw-dropping and death-defying motorcycle stunts. Flying over (or crashing and burning over) stacked cars, buses, semi trucks, deadly animals and deep chasms in the earth, he symbolized America’s core values and ideals: be true to yourself, don’t be afraid, suck in your gut and make it a BIG SHOW. If you succeed - great, you’ve done your job. If you don’t succeed - brush it off and and do it again, and most importantly - keep your word.
The call of the wild came early to a young Knievel kicking around in Butte, Montana. Apparently working in a copper mine is as exciting as it sounds, so the restless teenager decided to kick it up a notch. Driving
In the pop music pantheon, guitar gods are a dime a dozen, ditto great sax-men, drummers, or trumpet players, but if you’re looking for someone to sit in on the vibraphone in your ideal, hypothetical all-star band, there’s really no other choice than jazz legend Lionel Hampton. In part, that’s because he’s one of the only widely known musicians to be closely associated with the instrument, that there’s just not the same competition for the title as there is with others, the guitar in particular, and in part because he was the first to push the vibraphone’s unique, ringing sound to the fore, but it’s mostly because when he played it, he did so with the same joyful, unfettered, borderline obsessive love of music and performing that also defined every other aspect of his varied, trail-blazing career.
First, a bit of background on the man: After his birth in Louisville, Kentucky in 1908 (or thereabouts, his birth certificate was lost to the ages), Hampton’s family bounced briefly to Birmingham, Alabama before heading north, first to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a Dominican nun at the Holy Rosary Academy gave
One of my favorite things about the internet is that it encourages serious academic discussions about cats playing pianos. ROFLcon III happened in early May and I just got around to watching a good panel discussion on the Supercut - which is, put shortly, a comprehensive and thematic video montage. The coiner of the term, Andy Baio, and three notable supercutters go over their own work, themes of the supercut and the future of the supercut. Very nice! The video is in four parts, with examples taking up the first half-ish of things.
One point of contention from this supercut obsessed blogger - in part IV, the panel seems to agree that the supercut has run its course as an expressive medium. Disagree! Andy Baio's own Supersupercut is a fantastic example of the use of automation in supercuts. My Supercut-O-Matic software is another example of the power of automation to create thematic montages. Google is now able to crawl through videos and pick out clips of cats. Open source Music Information Retrieval frameworks like MARSYAS can automatically identify specific facets of songs. In the near future, computers will automatically find LOLLY content for us and compile it, putting even the aggregation website editors out of work. I do also think that interactivity will be introduced into supercuts, so that users can move freely through categorized media rather than watching a linear video clip. But hey, maybe I'm crazy.
Certainly the panel doesn't give a very good history of the supercut. The earliest historical example they give is Christian Marclay's "The Clock". If the panel weren't all male, perhaps they would've mentioned Dara Birnbaum's 1978 cut-up of Wonder Woman transforming. To venture a challenge to the internet, here's what I'm calling the earliest supercut - the amazing, brilliant 1965 collage "Argh!" by Folke Rabe and Jan Bark. Listen here and do tell me if you know an earlier example of this concept. I only recently found ARGH! and I'm completely transfixed by its prophetic beauty.
I have to thank my buddy Travis Johnson for alerting me to this bit of incredibly surreal realness: extreme metal legends Napalm Death performing on a BBC musical program for children (apparently called What's That Noise?). I really have nothing more to add to that. Just, wow. Perhaps most amusing of all is the band's decision to play their infamous second-long masterpiece "You Suffer" from their classic debut Scum. Or just the fact that's near impossible to get extreme music on ANY television show, let alone a children's program.
Years ago, while I was still stuck in that “why can't I just fall down a flight of stairs” phase of high school which most of us seem to go through, I put on Joy Division while driving with my brother. After a few minutes of music, he said something along the lines of “What the fuck is this? This guy sounds like he wants to kill himself.” To which I replied “Well, funny story."
In reality, of course, the 1980 suicide of 23-year-old Ian Curtis, vocalist and occasional guitarist of Joy Division, is not a funny story at all. It's actually a really fucking sad story, one that revolves around Curtis's epilepsy, a love triangle between his wife, Deborah, and Annik Honoré, a Belgian reporter, and the pressures of being in a popular band. Worse, Curtis's often intensely autobiographic lyrics tend to plot out the depths and causes of his depression. “Existence, well what does it matter/I exist on the best terms I can,” he moans in “Heart and Soul,”while “Isolation” has him pleading “Mother I tired please believe me/I'm doing the best that I can.”
Even “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” a track which featured a music video and peaked at number 13 on the
I've been on a rather consistent Scissor Girls kick this past week, especially when it comes to continually penetrating the late, great Chicago no-wave/noise-rock trio's disjointed, schizo, brilliant 10" so that you can start to see what S-T-A-T-I-C-L-A-N-D (with recording help from one Tom Smith of To Live And Shave In L.A. fame, who's fingerprints seem to linger over the record's fractured aesthetic). There sadly are too few bands these days with both the sonic and visual audacity that the Girls possessed; here are some moving picture diversions from the band's archives:
Cryptic, amusing interviews and some short, but solid live footage from Chicago TV show Ben Loves Chicago:
For all the reasons to love Opera IX, it's really the keyboard sounds that pushes Fronds of the Ancient Walnut into !!!!! territory for me. I love how progressively Opera IX moves from blast beats and shrieks to operatic moaning over midtempo beatdowns. Certainly there's a lot of gothic posturing, pagan imagery and classical influx at play. But it's those fuckin keyboard sounds that sound like the "boss theme" from some RPG, mixed with the guitarist shredding in a completely different key...can't beat it. Makes me want to listen to some Enslaved By Owls, who more than anybody else know how to use ominous, outsider keyboards to make heavy and evil music without even needing a distortion pedal.
As a bonus, I've also got a free download of Opera IX's first official release, 1993's 7" consisting of Born In The Grave / The Red Death. No keyboards on this one, but hey, still some great, strange blackened sounds for ya.
"Yo Little Brother", according to the youtube comments, is a video where the at times psychotic looking narrator, Nolan Thomas, is following his wee leather clad brother around trying to protect him from the evils of drugs. As they parade through the dark alleys of some pastel colored cardboard urban landscape, he finds that the impressionable little one is not being led astray in the concrete jungle, but instead, breakdancing with a group of kids that dress up as Cyndi Lauper, Prince, and the Boss, upholding music as a preferrable high. While the wikipedia entry says different, it appears that Nolan Thomas (Marko Kalfka was his real name) was prototypical of Milli Vanilli, lip syching to the voice of Elán Lanier on this track, while he sang on all of the others.
It's not like The Offspring were ever a good band or that we should expect much from these dorks, but man, is their new single "Cruising California (Bumpin' In My Trunk)" somethin' else. This makes "Come Out And Play" sound like The Feeding Of The 5000 in comparison, or as The AV Club put it, it makes "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" sound like My War. Side B even! It's just that awful. The band's fan-boys are trying to defend the track as a "joke" single, but as it should be noted, there's little evidence of satire or irony at work here, so even if this was meant to be little more than a novelty laugh at the expense of modern-day pop music, it fails at whatever broad parody it was ostensibly trying to achieve. This is the Meet The Spartans of the music world. Sit through this if you dare/can:
Little Arthel, who lost his sight shortly after birth, had extraordinary skills at deciphering his world by sound, which led to his daddy saying that he had "Ears like a cat". Coming up from his "55 100ths of an acre of tobacco" on the farm to his beloved stature as flatpicker extraordinaire, playing with everyone from Bill Monroe to Norman Blake to just about anyone, especially his super-talented son Merle, who was lost much too soon to us; Mr. Watson was, for my taste, one of the most lovable, charming and entertaining of all of the many early 'folk revivalists' who, for one reason or another, strove to preserve the musical Americana that was mainly transmitted orally before his time.
For me, I love to hear the man talk and tell stories just as much as sing and play them, so I'm going to spotlight Doc talking about things, and also play a couple of cuts from a rare team-up lp with Bill Monroe. Coming from a large and musical family, Watson was a hard-working man who followed his father's advice to "Try every way to make an honest living first" before turning to music as a career. And thank goodness he stuck with the music. He will be missed a lot, but lives on in the hearts and strings of many of us.
First these mp3s, and then join me for some videos after the jump.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jayne County on my program on Thursday; she hit the stage at Bowery Electric on Thursday for the Max's Kansas City Alumni Reunion shows (which goes on through Sunday). Check the archive for the interview. I heard that Jayne might be at La Mama before her much anticipated Max's reunion performance, so it was off to the Ellen Stewart Theatre first! The La Mama show was- Jukebox Jackie: Snatches of Jackie Curtis -an exhilarating collage performance containing elements of the Warhol star's life; poetry, film snippets, songs and great vignettes. The final performance is on June 10th. With a killer cast: Justin Vivian Bond, Bridget Everett, Cole Escola and Steel Burkhardt, the production was a huge pleasure to take in. Jayne County did indeed grace the theatre-goers with her rendition of Max's Kansas City, as seen here as an encore to the show. She was gone in the blink of an eye (aye aye!) as soon as the show was done, and was soon to get onstage with her alma mater, so to speak, the Max's Kansas City Alumni Reunion show. The shows run all weekend at Bowery Electric, check their site for scheduled shows!
It goes without saying that Suicide were immeasurably influential for the worlds of industrial, dance, and electronic music as a broad, brilliant whole. And with that kind of path-paving comes the need from the students of such a singular act to give a little back, as Soft Cell fittingly do here on the BBC. Foetus mastermind Jim Thirlwell, a.k.a. Clint Ruin, joins Marc Almond in channeling Alan Vega's cryptic, snarling aura, both rendering with an amphetamine sheen the Suicide classic "Ghost Rider" into something approaching a dance-floor-enticing "Frankie Teardrop" (mainly through Thirlwell's flailing shouts). Wild and cathartic:
Watching an Otis Redding performance is like witnessing a force of nature, as if he’s channeling directly that very powerful, ineffable thing that gives soul music its name. The voice that pours out of him doesn’t describe an emotion, it is an emotion, a raw transference of yearning loneliness or excited passion, whatever the song calls for. It’s so organic, so unfettered, like a man possessed, that it hides another aspect of Redding’s live show, which is that a lot of thought and preparation and work went into it. It’s not contrived by any means, the feeling in he brought to the stage is 100% real, it’s palpable in every breath and every jerky movement, but it took years of consciously honing his craft to be able translate it to an audience in a way that they could understand.
Like so many of his peers, Redding’s first experience with singing and playing music came from the church, specifically the Vineville Baptist church, where his father was a preacher. He sang in the choir and a gospel quartet as a teenager, but not all of his influences were so clean cut growing up in a rough-and-tumble
Wyatt Howland is one of the best folks making harsh noise these days, sticking inflexibly to the genre's unapologetic sonic repulsiveness while engaging expertly in various shades of dynamism.
This video from 2010's Neon Marshmallow Festival in Chicago finds Howland utilizing my subconcious maxim for harsh noise live performance: always leave them wanting more...much more. Here Howland blasts the crowd with crude aural pain for a little over a minute before literally throwing his gear to the wind. A hilariously short set? Sure, but not one of us was disappointed. Take note charlatans:
"And you made me happier / Than Dolly Parton's guitar" (Lee Hazlewood)
"Malaguena will get you in every time." (Keth Richards)
Lately about our home here in the 'Holler full of musicians, we've been enjoying and studying all kinds of guitar playing styles, and my sweetie particularly likes the fantastic classical flamenco guitar playing of Maria del Rosario Mercedes Laura Jennifer Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza; of course we mean Charo for short. Why she would need to change such a convenient showbiz handle is still a mystery.
I suppose that it's pretty well known now that she is one of the world's top classical guitar players. She was lucky enough, after all, to study under Andres Segovia from an early age ( he taught music around her birthplace of Murcia, Espana, as a community service ). A colorful, flamboyant and outspoken personality, her musical ability is easily eclipsed by her overall showmanship. She has indeed come a long was since being brought to the states under the wing of her famous then-husband Xavier Cugat. After the jump you can find two video recitals ( from 1988 ) of the one and only Charo on the gut-string classical axe.