Category Archives: Show Review

The Best of 2013

After careful consideration, here’s my list of top albums this year, as well as some other commentary on music happenings. Enjoy!

1. Boards of Canada, Tomorrow’s Harvest (WARP)
2. WIRE, Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)
3. Bombino, Nomad (Nonesuch)
4. Bill Orcutt, “Twenty Five Songs” (Palialia)
5. Run the Jewels, s/t (Fools Gold)
6. Zomes, Time Was (Thrill Jockey)
7. Marisa Anderson, Mercury (Mississippi/Change)
8. Endless Boogie, Long Island (No Quarter)
9. Daughn Gibson, Me Moan (Sub Pop)
10. Anwar Sadat, Gold (Sophomore Lounge)

Honorable mention: Matmos, The Marriage of True Minds (Thrill Jockey); The Dead C., Armed Courage (Ba Da Bing!), Jovonaes, Paranoia Makes a Crazy Gift (Sophomore Lounge); Steve Gunn, Time Off (Paradise of Bachelors); Call Back the Giants, “The Marianne” (Kye); Francisco Franco, s/t (New Images); Circuit Des Yeux, Overdue (Ba Da Bing!); Jaye Jayle, Jayle Time (unreleased); Glenn Jones, My Garden State (Thrill Jockey); Van Dyke Parks, Songs Cycled (Bella Union); Richard Youngs, Summer Through My Mind (Ba Da Bing!); Nathan Salsburg, Hard for to Win and Can’t be Won (No Quarter); Mammane Sani et son Orgue, La Musique Electronique du Niger (Sahel Sounds); Cian Nugent & the Cosmos, Born with the Caul (No Quarter).

Best Shows I Attended in 2013 (that I didn’t book):
1. Cropped Out Festival, Louisville, Kentucky — highlights being Mayo Thompson performing Corky’s Debt to His Father, Borbetomagus, Endless Boogie, The Endtables, Blues Control, Bill Orcutt & Chris Corsano, Superwolf, Montag, lots more.
2. Goblin and Zombi at the Varsity Theater, Minneapolis, MN.
3. Aaron Dilloway, Darin Gray & Raw Thug, Mike Shiflet, Jonathan Wood & Lowe Sutherland at the Louisville Experimental Festival.
4. Blondie and X at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN.
5. TIE — Run the Jewels and Bombino at Forecastle; Yo La Tengo at the Brown Theater, both in Louisville.

Worst Things to Happen in 2013: The deaths of Lou Reed, Ray Price, Zbigniew Karkowski, Bernard Parmegiani, Jim Hall, Junior Murvin, Richard Coughlan, Cheb i Sabbah, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Chico Hamilton, Butch Warren, Philip Chevron, Wadih El Safi, Gypie Mayo, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Makoto Moroi, Isamu Jordan, Forrest, Prince Jazzbo, Jerry G. Bishop aka Svengoolie, Jackie Lomax, Mac Curtis, Jimmy Ponder, Lindsay Cooper, Pavlos Fyssas, Zulema, Tim Wright, George Duke, Willie Dunn, Zev Asher, Batile Alake, Eydie Gorme, Aube, Allen Lanier, Eyob Mekonnen, Marian McPartland, Bernard Vitet, T-Model Ford, Steve Berrios, Mike Farren, Joey Covington, Arturo Vega, Darondo, Johnny Smith, Fatai Rolling Dollar, Alastair Donaldson aka William Mysterious, Claudio Rocchi, Slim Whitman, Mary Love, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Puff Johnson, Alan Meyers, Chris Kelly, Jeff Hanneman, Cedric Brooks, Steve Martland, Ollie Mitchell, Ray Manzarek, Andy Johns, Don Blackman, Dean Drummond, Cordell Mosson, Storm Thorgerson, Chrissy Amphlett, Richie Havens, George Jones, Bobby Rogers, Alvin Lee, Peter Banks, Clive Burr, Bobby Smith, Hugh McCracken, Cecil Womack, Donald Byrd, Reg Presley, Rick Huxley, Shadow Morton, Tim Dog, Kevin Ayers, Damon Harris, Magic Slim, Cleotha Staples, Virgil Johnson, Richard Street, Nic Potter, Bobby Bennett, Steve Knight, Gregory Carroll, Leroy Bonner, Butch Morris, Patty Andrews, Ann Rabson, and probably many more that I’m forgetting. Rest in peace.

UPDATE, 12/24/2013: Rest in peace, Yusef Lateef, Diomedes Diaz, Björn J:son Lindh, Lord Infamous, David Richards, Herb Geller, and Ronnie Biggs.

UPDATE, 1/4/14: Rest in peace, David Wertman, Doe B, Benjamin Curtis, Wojciech Kilar, Jay Traynor, Al Porcino, Phil Everly, and Rita MacNeil (thanks to Alexander Campbell for informing me of her music).

São Paulo Underground Tomorrow at Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft

LEO Weekly ran my preview today of tomorrow’s upcoming São Paulo Underground concert at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (scroll down to Thursday’s entry):

Thursday, Sept. 13
São Paulo Underground
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
715 W. Main St.
kentuckyarts.org
$5-$10, 8:30 p.m.

Living in Chicago in the 1990s, it was nearly impossible to miss trumpeter/cornetist Rob Mazurek’s many projects. Whether he was gigging with Tortoise, workshopping at the Green Mill, or playing with drummer Chad Taylor in Chicago Underground Duo, Mazurek’s signature style (reminiscent of Dark Magus-era Miles Davis) was inescapable. After adding electronics to the mix, Mazurek’s sound got even bolder, charting a new course that wasn’t quite jazz in the traditional sense but was exciting in its boundary-crossing openness. After moving to Brazil, he started São Paulo Underground with Mauricio Takara (drums, percussion, cavaquinho, electronics), then enlisted Guilherme Granado (keyboards, electronics, samplers) and Richard Ribeiro (drums). The result is a smoothly rendered Brazilian/American melodic hybrid, held together by a fluid rhythmic sensibility. This rare performance — part of KMAC’s “Storytelling As Craft” exhibit — should not be missed. —Joel Hunt

I actually will miss the concert, due to work. Don’t be as unlucky as me. Read more about São Paulo Underground, and listen to a killer track, here: http://www.cuneiformrecords.com/bandshtml/saopaulo.html.

A CROPPED OUT Summary: Or Louisville’s Best Music Weekend Ever

Hey Louisville, if you weren’t at CROPPED OUT at some point during this past weekend, you really missed something quite special. It wasn’t just that there were a buncha noisy, arty bands and rock n’ roll and whatnot. There was actually a quite palpable community spirit, evidenced by the smiles, high-fives, and general fun it seemed that most everybody had. Didn’t hurt that some of the best weather of the fall made it possible for lots of bands to play outside, too. So here’s a quick rundown of best parts of the festival, complete with crappy pictures from my cellphone.

DAY 1 — FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11th: Though it got started way early on Friday afternoon, and there was some noise issues early on, Friday was a good start, especially for the Louisville bands on the bill. SAVAGES played immediately after LEARNER DANCER, both of which brought forceful, guitar-heavy rock (the former more in a pop vein, while the latter mined some heavy Sonic Youth-style dissonant territory).

Shedding

One of the early Friday highlights was, of course, Louisville’s SHEDDING (disclaimer: Connor and I are buds, but even if we weren’t, I’d still love his music). Despite his talk of being influenced by RUSH, Connor really brought more of a CURRENT 93 vibe, perfectly mellow yet eerie.

Shit & Shine

Another Friday highlight was Austin, Texas’s SHIT & SHINE, which featured none other than the BUTTHOLE SURFERS’ KING COFFEY on percussion. Tribal, BOREDOMS-esque throb with synth squiggles and CB radio nonsense. Totally fun.

Other Friday night highlights included (in no particular order):
1. apologizing to KING COFFEY for talking his ear off at SxSW ’07
2. MOUNT CARMEL — and the revelation afterwards that KING has never seen ZZ TOP!
3. bonfires (more on them later)
4. hangin’ with MV + EE‘s dog Zuma
5. SHIT & SHINE‘s bunny suits
6. MV + EE singing “Fire on the Mountain” at the end of a fantastic set backed by TIM BARNES and CHRIS from the CHERRY BLOSSOMS (thanks for the beers!)
7. Locals ALCOHOL PARTY, NATIVES, ANWAR SADAT, and AXEL COOPER showing how it’s done
8. Chorizo taco from the Holy Mole Taco Truck
9. Good times with friends old and new
10. Beer

DAY 2 — SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12th: Saturday started inauspiciously as I showed up to the venue, the CRUMMY DEN, way early, so I wandered over to the FLEA OFF MARKET (where I bought an excellent book of photography from Louisville Hardcore’s poet laureate, Mr. BRETT EUGENE RALPH), then had lunch at the Blind Pig. Missed most of the early sets due to some errands I had to run, but caught a little bit of VIDEO DAUGHTER, who were okay.

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NO PLANES/BLUES CONTROL/WOODS/EVOLVE/ORGANS at the Art Damage Lodge, 3/9/08

Okay so I haven’t posted here in a while. That much is true. Sorry about that. However, just in case you didn’t realize it, I’ve been blogging a lot over here at State of the Commonwealth. While we cover music occasionally over there (mainly by covering who is coming to town), that l’il blog is really more of a general-interest thing (if you’re generally interested in a backwoods state’s politics, mostly). I’m not giving up on Other Side, though. Quite the contrary, I hope to do more bloggin’ and whatnot sometime soon. And hopefully sometime in the next few months I’ll have some digitizin’ capacity, and I’d like to put up lots of rare vinyl and tapes. So we’ll see. In the meantime, let me tell you about the show I went to in Cincinnati this past Sunday.

So for the past six months I’ve been living in the magical city known as Louisville, Kentucky. Especially when it comes to music, Louisville ain’t too shabby. At least it wasn’t, back in the day. There are definitely some good bands from here now, and there is a much better and greater draw for out-of-town bands now than there was when I grew up here. That said, there’s a lot of bands and music and whatnot that, especially if it’s on the smaller and noisier side of things, don’t make it here. For whatever reason, however, Cincy and Lexington get a lot of this stuff.

Now, I’m not complaining. I like getting out of town every so often (especially to check out other towns’ record stores), so that’s what I did last Sunday when my pals Blues Control were playing the Art Damage Lodge up in Cincy’s Northside neighborhood. Now I’ve been to the Art Damage Lodge a couple times already (most recently to see Six Organs of Admittance), and I gotta say, I wish we had a spot like that in L’ville.

I’ve wrote about being biased in the past, so I won’t really say a whole lot about Blues Control other than I really dig their new set — even though I think I need to take a little time to process it. It’s a little weird to see them play songs I don’t know since I was at their first show, but hey, that’s exciting. And I even made some really low-quality cellphone videos of stuff (yes, I know you can’t really see anything):

Someday I’ll own a proper video camera, but for the moment, my trusty Motorola Razr (it was close to free, give me a break) is the best thing I got. So there. Luckily for all of us, some kind soul upped Blues Control’s entire set at Philadelphia’s Big Jar Books from a while ago, and it’s a pretty fun thing to watch. Also, Blues Control’s first and long-out-of-print LP Puff has been reissued by Fusetron, so you should pick that up. And if you live in the following cities, go see ’em play:

Mar 13 2008 8:00P – Soho Lounge Austin, Texas
Mar 14 2008 3:00P – NiceHouse Austin, Texas
Mar 15 2008 1:00P – American Apparel Austin, Texas
Mar 15 2008 4:00P – Sound on Sound Records Austin, Texas
Mar 16 2008 8:00P – Fiesta Garage Monterrey, Nuevo León
Mar 21 2008 8:00P – House Louisville, Kentucky

Holy crap, they’re playing here! Tight!

So it was getting late and I had to bail and get back to Louisville (it’s about 100 miles to the Southwest) after Blues Control, and unfortunately I missed No Planes. Now I don’t know much about No Planes, but they feature Witt from Wild Gunmen, who I don’t know much about either, but they are from Cincinnati and Russ and Lea from Blues Control’s White Tapes label just put out a tape of theirs (which I snagged), so that’s a recommendation. Will let you know when I get a chance to play it (the only cassette player in the house is actually in the garage).

I did manage to catch Cincy wildman C. Spencer Yeh‘s new outfit Organs, which is a duo with fellow WKRP-er Ron Orovitz aka Iovae. Check out some crappy cellphone video of them, too:

That’s some harsh stuff, to be sure. But I liked it. Hopefully they’ll have some recordings available soon.

Also on the bill was New York’s Woods, who were great in a very shambolic Neil Young-y kinda way (and that’s a compliment), and some locals called Evolve, who were, well, I’ll just say they were unique. All in all, yet another good show at the Art Damage Lodge, and another reason to get outta town.

New Links and Live Stuff

Blues Control with Brian Turner

(Blues Control with Brian Turner covering Unholy Swill at the Bowery Ballroom, 7/11/07)

Yeah, stuff. Instead of taking a planned road trip, I ended up stuck in New York all week, so got to see a couple good shows and whatnot. Wednesday’s Deerhunter/Ex-Models/Blues Control show was a hilarious clusterfuck of epically later’d proportions. Congee Village eats beforehand with Lukas were crucial, then BC’s smoky jamz left us all ready to pound beer after beer (esp. their cover of an Unholy Swill song — forget the title — with WFMU main man Brian Turner on lead ax). Fortunately we were ready for beer pounding, because Ex-Models made us wanna sit downstairs, say hi to our friend bartending, and lament. Just not into ’em. Deerhunter were pretty good, basically sounded about the same as the record, but the best part of the evening might’ve been the singer’s 45-minute-or-so-long monologue from the stage after the band was through. Poor kid only wanted some G.I. Joes, not to be dressed up like a girl! Parents can be so cruel. Nice retardo Germs cover, too.

Friday night it was time for jammin’ at Cake Shop in a basement get-wrecked stylee. First two bands were a pretty deec female moan trio (some combo involving Child Bride and I don’t know who else). Don’t really know nothing ’bout the players, but they were enjoyable enough. After that was a metal band called Fogeaters which wasn’t really my thing, but at moments the guitarist had some great Mainliner-style moves. The main thing I was there to see played third, and that was Tobogan, a total retarded mess consisting of Russ and Lea from Blues Control, Brian from Mouthus, Don from DremCron and Big Whiskey, Allison from Awesome Color and Ryan from King Crab. Headbanging sludge plus stylish moves (esp. from Lea on guitar and handbag!). Two more bands played as well, Portland’s Night Wounds (not really my thing though not bad — and it’s nice to see a tight punk band with a saxomaphone) and New Jersey’s own Home Blitz (already written about here, though now Daniel’s got a new trio lineup, and is much more confident than last year). Oh and Max from Violent Students and Richie from Clockcleaner played records and mp3s too, so that was the perfect soundtrack to a night of beer, beer and more beer.

So what else? Not much. Skipped Excepter tonight, feeling way too wrung out to get my mind blown, unfortunately. Thinking about Jack Rose/D. Charles Speer/GHQ/This Invitation (see Todd’s page for more info), but haven’t decided yet. Oh and I’ve been adding lots and lots of links lately to the the right side over there, take a look at the following:

Direct Waves – Lots of full album downloads of obscure shit
Mutant Sounds – ditto
Neglected Books – just like it sounds like, buddy
Awful Tattoos – also pretty self-explanatory

Check ’em out and get nerdy.

Harry Potter is for fucking nerds

P.S. did you know that Channel 11 plays “The Best of Soul Train” at 2 AM on Saturday nights?!? Me neither, but now I know and it’s awesome! Next up, Yellow Magic Orchestra!

No One at the Venue May Look Jandek in the Eye

Jandek

Last night I saw Jandek at the Abrons Arts Center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The mere idea of getting to see the mysterious entity known as Jandek play sometime in my lifetime would’ve been laughable a few years ago, but since 2004 the representative from Corwood Industries has made intermittent appearances in such far-flung locales as New York, Glasgow, Austin and Chicago, all with a different cast of musicians each time. For his third (I think?) appearance in New York, Jandek teamed up with Pete Nolan (of Magik Markers) on drums and Tim Foljahn (of 2 Dollar Guitar) on bass, in what turned out to be a rather inspired grouping. Initially I was a little wary as the trio launched into the first number, which was rather squall-some (in a good way), thinking it would be the only mode they’d be in all night. But over the course of the ten “songs” they played that evening, all three showed a lot of stylistic diversity while remaining true to what could undoubtedly be called Jandek’s very singular sound.

The man himself, an apparition of a ghost, was one of the most uncharismatically charismatic and powerful performers I’ve ever seen. He entered the stage wearing all black, with a black fedora and black guitar – indeed it’s almost as if the clothes wore him, seeing as he was basically a skeleton, only defined by what was not there. His shiny belt buckle was the only accoutrement, sticking out a little past his chest. Lyrically, he sang words that were almost as physically alienating as his entire appearance – and this worked beautifully with the music, which only rested at points to give him space to sing. He’d play a guitar squall – very “amateur” in terms of technique but disciplined and focussed in terms of sound and intention, then drop his strumming hand to his side while delivering a lyric like “Starve my body/Starve my mind” in his uniquely mournful moan.

Towards the middle portion of the set, after a good three songs or so of similar construction, things took a very abrupt turn. Lyrically, Jandek moved away from the rather impersonal description of general alienation that had been the theme, and went specifically into songs about prison, all from different narrative perspectives. This was kind of unexpected, at least for me, and really gave the overall set a depth that it might’ve otherwise missed. These songs ranged from description of a hairy, tattooed prisoner “From wrist to neck/From neck to belt/Sides and back” to an amazing jailhouse lawyer’s dialog with a prisoner in for being “provoked.” Really harrowing stuff, in Jandek’s very non-descriptive descriptive way: “There’s a shower and a sink/But you don’t want to USE them” (which got a few chuckles from the crowd).

After this short suite of songs, Jandek moved lyrically back towards general themes of alienation, but the trio moved in a more rock, less free direction, which I found fascinating. One song, anchored by Foljahn’s bass and Nolan’s drums, was basically a primitive punk song – which did not throw Jandek one bit, and his guitar playing became appropriately even more spiky than it had been already. He even cracked a few smiles, and seemed to engage the other players, without giving too much away or even saying anything – not the least acknowledging the audience, whose applause he seemed visibly shaken by.

I looked over at his amp, and noticed a small travel clock set to Houston time on top. After three hours, ten songs and a gripping sound that seemed to revel in every detail, no matter how nuanced, the three sheepishly walked off-stage, and the evening was over. Somebody else’s music – hopelessly inferior to what I’d just witnessed – was played over the PA, and the audience shuffled out into the New York night. I felt like I’d just woken from the best nightmare I’ve ever dreamt. And unlike those who think Jandek’s recent live shows have somehow destroyed the mystery (which isn’t even as interesting as his music), I was left with more questions than before.

Jandek

Bill Callahan at the National Arts Club, 3/30/07

Bill Callahan

The Fader magazine threw a party to celebrate their 45th issue last night at the National Arts Club, a pretty snazzy beaux-arts building on Gramercy Park South. Since I didn’t get a chance to see Lavender Diamond there earlier this month (too jet-lagged from vacation), I thought I’d check this out.

I haven’t seen Bill play in almost four years (since I worked with him), and it was refreshing to see him doing his thing, which he does oh-so-well. The trio of Bill, Joanna Newsom on piano and Jim White on drums was very subtle, but very beautiful, providing a new treatment/interpretation of Bill’s older songs (favorites included “Bathysphere,” “Cold Discovery,” “Leave the Country” and “Rock Bottom Riser,” among others). I was seated up in front, between Jim and Bill, and I gotta say just getting to watch Jim up-close was pretty amazing. Obviously I’ve known of his awesome drumming for years and years, but when you actually get to see him up-close and pay attention to all the thing’s he’s doing, it’s pretty mindblowing.

Other highlights of the evening included free beer, the djing antics of Mr. Joshua Wildman, watching a bartender duct-tape a piece of paper to a Tiffany lamp in the bar, and seeing Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson look sleepy.