Drink Up Buttercup
Music Blogger, Year End Thoughts
Years ago it took an eternity for any publication to write about a band or write a live review. There is a place for those magazine relics, but for current up to date coverage the online community is the destination. Bloggers are now a very relevant part of the mix giving exposure to varying genres that are neglected by the mainstream press. Google has taken note and is offering new ways to find Blog content. There are music Blogs that have established a level of trust and a point of view. Matt and Mike at Ear Farm come to mind as one of the standouts. Ear Farm is honest, personable, informative and very entertaining. So Viva the Blog!
Romance of the DIY Movement
Another thought I've been pondering is the romance of the DIY movement. Doing music for the love of it. I think that all musicians agree that music will be apart of their lives no matter what happens to their future plans. The romance is perpetrated by the young and kept alive in houses, garages and alternative venues all across the country.
Talented and spirited bands embrace the ethic of non-commercialism. I understand this is a point of view but here is where I part company. Things start to sour, when they get older and have to find viable financial alternatives to live. Someone at twenty-one has different concerns then at twenty-seven. As many of their peers graduate from college, they find themselves financially lost. There is nothing wrong with music being a life long endeavor, without monetary compensation. If music is a career choice, money should be an important factor.
Commercialism, Strange Bedfellows
It is a sad state of affairs when bands have to choose strange bedfellows like commercials and TV spots to gain exposure. I welcome it but it does leave me with a bad taste. I realize it now is a staple in exposing new music. I also understand the reasoning behind using new music for such spots. The music is good and has had no radio play.
I work with young people whose musical taste is driven by pop culture and whose only exposure to music is what they hear on the radio or TV commercials. So it was quite interesting when I played the Feist tune, "Mushaboom" from her 2004 release Let It Die and watched their ears suddenly stand at attention. The voice recognition was powerful. Last year I played it with very different results. So exposure obviously works. Unfortunately, they are not open to new things they have never heard.
A Declaration of Independence
Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned forwarded the Declaration of independence via a myspace bulletin. It is from a site called 001 Collective. It is a very impassioned document, one I feel was written with the utmost sincerity. My only complaint is their assumption that creating and performing and doing what you love is not work. I beg to differ. Bands work hard! Their life on the road is grueling and the tenuous nature of the music business is stressful as well. Yes they are doing what they love but at a cost. Many have other jobs they do between gigs. That is called dedication and hard work.
The 001 Collective premise of offering music for free will ultimately be good for some bands. The concept is one that is being explored by bands like Beat Radio and labels like Team Love. This is a collective concept with one person being the arbiter of whose music is included. I guess the success of this collective all depends on his taste in music. I wish them luck.
Wish List Rant: Independant Music
- I wish bands and musicians, old and new, who have monetary success or a large fan base, would share the stage and help musicians/bands who are not as fortunate. Two great examples; are David Bowie and Bright Eyes.
- I wish that Bookers would be bolder and create eclectic and diverse lineups that are not genre specific but sound great together.
- I wish more Bloggers would take a chance and try not to present the same buzzed-about playlist.
- I wish that audiences would commit to listening.
- I wish that there were better venues for solo acoustic performers.
- I wish that more people that get music for free would find it in their hearts and reach into their pockets and support the music they enjoy. Go to a show, buy a tee shirt, and pay for a recording. Support the music you love, or it will not survive
- I wish that a wider audience could hear great music. (That’s a pipe dream). It could change the culture in a good way.
Hop Along Queen Ansleis/ Great Cover Song
Bright Eyes; Radio City Music Hall
Opening acts are always a treat at a Bright Eyes show / The Felice Brothers
I can think of a few other bands that welcome and support new, emerging, or underrated talent the way Bright Eyes does. They welcome these rogue originals with open arms.
The Felice Brothers expressed that playing Radio City was quite a bump up from performing in the subway. They thanked Bright Eyes for the experience and gave a very sweet shout-out to their grandmother in the audience, who was excited to see her grandsons play at the same venue as Frank Sinatra.
The Felice Brothers is a quartet of three brothers and a friend from Catskills, NY. They tell narrative tales blending Americana with a rusty homegrown sound. Produced by a blend of acoustic guitar, drums, bass, accordion, and piano. They played ten songs with three strong and distinct vocalists sharing the lead while the remaining members sang rough harmonies.
Despite the expansive stage in an overwhelmingly large venue, they connected with the audience and created a down-home and intimate staging peppered with theatrics. During “The Ballad of Lou the Welterweight,” James Felice, the accordionist, put a hat over his heart in tribute to the fallen boxer. When he introduced a song about hardship and depression, his soulful deep vocals were memorable. They ended their set with “Frankie’s Gun,” accompanied by Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes on trumpet. A very fitting ending with a full chorus singing, / bang bang bang went Frankie’s gun/ he shot me down.
Thurston Moore's Personal Vision Realized
In came Thurston Moore and his band of aural angels, playing songs from his new solo release Trees Outside The Academy. Staring at the two acoustic guitars, bass, violin, and drums, my eyes betrayed my ears. This acoustic band of deception laid down intricate compositions, replete with constant pulsating drums by Steve Shelley, bass rhythms, double guitar leads (Thurston Moore and Chris Brokaw), and darting violin treatments throughout. Samara Lubelski on violin played a haunting low register, rarely segueing into melody.
The scaffolding of instrumentation created a collaboration of the highest order. Every song had this never-ending quality, not like a jam but more like an organic improvisation within the song structure. The last song, “Trees Outside the Academy,” closed this impressive set and highlighted the accomplished musicianship. I closed my eyes and hoped this class act would never end.
This Bright Eyes show had no agenda. This was not a promotional tour but the last night stand of a year-long tour. And stand they did. They played a wide variety of the Bright Eyes catalog with added new arrangements. The collaborative nature of an ever-changing cast of players, with the anchoring of Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott, creates a fresh approach. I appreciate seeing live shows that don’t mimic exactly what is on the recording and Bright Eyes delivers.
At Radio City, the music was loud, but it was grand. Although Conor works very hard at phrasing and pronunciation, not all of the words were audible. The added restraint of coordinating with a vocalist can be tricky, and Bright Eyes did not sacrifice the live feel of the music for the lyrics. While I would have loved to hear every word from Conor, I didn’t feel deprived.
Starting with “Another Traveling Song” from I’m Wide Awake Its Morning Conor came out and took command of the stage. Having seen him over the years terrified, it is wonderful to witness the confidence, maturity, and ease with which he can now perform.
I just about flipped to hear “Song to Pass the Time” from Fevers and Mirrors. I have heard many versions of that song. The twangy flavor of the original song was changed considerably with the addition of the trumpet. “Lua” stood out with James Felice on accordion and Nate Walcott on flugelhorn, adding depth and distance to the sad tale. “Poison Oak” was moving. “True Blue” was infused with a strong pedal steel guitar and sung with conviction, / I don’t know much about you / but I like you because you’re true blue /.
Only one complaint I could have done without the Tom Petty cover. It was fun, rollicking, and exciting, but I would have been happier with an original. The stage festivities grew as The Felice Brothers joined in and the Radio City night lights strobe across the ceiling. The audience rose from their seats to join the celebration.
Bright Eyes ended the four-song encore with a new political power song of intensity and anger about the war and the future of many wars to come. / Nothing left but the cockroaches / in a movie with no sound /. As always, Bright Eyes has words that move, stating truisms like no other, employing all of us to take a hard look in the mirror. I left smiling but felt pangs of guilt thinking about the state of the world as I walked down Isle D.
Hop Along Queen Ansleis
I've seen her many times, but after seeing her that day, I was thrilled with the new direction of her singing, phrasing, and song structure. Without losing her originality, she has matured in her writing and delivery.
If You Make It
To all my readers, enjoy this Pink Couch Session of Hop Along Queen Ansleis. David Garwacke, creator of a wonderful new site called If You Make It, films the Pink Couch Sessions. If you stay tuned, he will upload Hop Along on the Pink Couch, performing her arrangement of Billy Idol's song "Dancing with Myself". This is an amazing cover!!
This site is true to its intentions, and Dave has been doing a great job sharing the talents of many independent bands and acoustic performers. If You Make It is on my radar.
Sasha Frere-Jones:The New Yorker Article Rant
Then I read a post by the Idolator published via the Internet. It was an amusing mockery of the article’s premise that gave me the impetuous to write the following assessment.
The article in question is in the New Yorker entitled, “A Paler Shade of White: Why indie rock lost its soul” written by Sasha Frere-Jones. It is a well-written article about the sharing of music origins between black and white musicians with some historic and correctly stated conclusions and observations. I take issue with several points.
1. Indie music is independent music. The term is still viable, and many different genres of music fall under its umbrella.
2. The general statement is that indie music has no rhythm or roots in soul.
3. The premise that independent music should be judged by the same standards applied to mainstream music; voice, musicianship, lyrics, and memorable, catchy hooks.
The term “indie rock” (Independent Music) came about as a result of bands and musicians being shut out of the mainstream media (Television, Radio) and major record label contracts. The bands and musicians that represent this genre are mostly white and male, and they are a minority within the broader context of the big corporate music enterprise.
This shutout continues today, with only a few of its originators signing on with major labels or their smaller counterparts, like; Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, and Rilo Kiley. Each group has spent at least ten years on the road with no Radio airtime, and their popularity grew from word of mouth. The level of their success is still small in comparison to pop performers like Ashanti or aging legendary rockers like Springsteen and U2, or the rapper heavyweights in Mr. Frere-Jones' article.
Conor Oberst of the group Bright Eyes, I believe, is one of the forbearers of this genre title. His group has gained exposure despite being on the Independent Label Saddle Creek Records, which he founded with others ten years ago in Omaha, Nebraska. He is still with that label in the US but has recently signed with Polydor for worldwide distribution. Over the years he tuned down major label interest and courting because he did not believe in their practices and, ultimately, felt it was bad for music in general. He wanted to maintain control of his original material and not have it commercialized and watered down for public consumption. That is the premise of most indie music standards. This is so the artist can maintain freedom of expression and artistic control and not appeal to the lowest common denominator.
The groups that Mr. Jones described, such as Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre, have had major mainstream radio play and backing from corporate interests. Their success doesn’t necessarily qualify them for judgment or comparison to the independents. The radio play they receive is not because the music is great it is because someone with about 250,000 dollars is willing to pay the radio stations to air it. This is an unfair advantage for judging success or quality.
With the onset of the Internet, blogging, Internet radio, podcasts, sharing Internet music communities, and myspace, that division is slowly changing. This democratizing of the music industry will ultimately be good for everybody. In the meantime, it is still a minefield for the independents to gain financial success despite their talent.
Judging music because it lacks a certain type of rhythm is not a fair assessment. There are different rhythms in indie rock. Indie rock has a different kind of soul. It relies on time changes and orchestral composition. Many of the groups described are not making music so people can dance but move them lyrically and musically. I love the song "Jesus Etc" by Wilco from the CD Yankee Foxtrot Hotel that Sasha described as being lyrically devoid of content. Showing a few brief lines from a song without hearing the phrasing and inference is not a good way to judge lyrics. Songs are created to be heard, not read. I love the song's simplicity and especially Jeff Tweedy’s delivery.
There are great independent bands today that are under the radar that combines folk /punk/hillbilly/roots, punk/blues, digital orchestration, and dance beats. People are moving but not in a prescribed method or in a formatted groove. Groups like Matt and Kim, Langhorne Slim, and The Dirty Projectors, o’death to name a few, are moving people differently. The musicianship is also having a resurgence as well with bands like Arcade Fire and The National. Yes, they know how to play music but in collaboration without the posturing of fancy guitar lead and drum solos of years past. That's a relief!
I take offense to his description of indie singers. Many do not have commercial voices but have individual voices, and that is just the point. The beauty of the voices I listen to has authenticity and originality. Just to name a few like; Joanna Newsom, Will Oldham, Devendra Banhart, Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, and Chan Marshall of Cat Power. Their voices are refreshingly different and appealing because of their individual approach to singing and phrasing. They all would be judged poorly by commercial standards and criteria.
The concept of indie rock producing a memorable hook so that the music can be catchy defeats the purpose of independent music. It is what sets independent music apart from the mainstream.
When the airwaves were free in the sixties, all music genres were played simultaneously so that people of all backgrounds were exposed to varying genres of music. The Supremes, The Jackson Five, the Beatles, Dylan, Aretha, Joni Mitchell, and bubble gum pop were all heard in no particular order of an authority. The radio was for everyone. We were not a boutique culture at the time.
Music and art are not made in a vacuum, and no one is original. So judging someone’s success based on what their influences might be is misguided. It is how they are inspired and what they do with that information, to hopefully forge new territory. Adding zest and vitality to a stale formula or genre, whether it is rock, metal, soul, rap, or country, is welcome regardless of the race of people that are doing it or where or how it originated. Changing music that begins to sound predictable or homogenized is a way for new forms of music to be realized.
Combining the genres, as Mr. Jones stated, led to a fresh approach like the combination of Aerosmith and Run DMC. It also broadened the exposure for both groups. Another great white/black crossover was Sinead O’Conner doing a cover of the Prince song "Nothing Compares 2 you". It got attention, not because of the beat or its roots in the soul. She changed the very nature of the song through her interpretation. It was so refreshingly beautiful. It is a good example of the sound and quality of indie, where words and music work and subtlety and nuance meet.
I appreciate rap as a genre of music. I see it as an art form, both musically and lyrically, in its earlier form. When it became more mainstream, it became less relevant to me as a listener or an appreciator. I have difficulty with words that value violence, are homophobic and Misogynous, etc.
I have been looking and waiting for the racial divide to change in indie rock and feel uncomfortable with the lack of diversity. Groups like TV On the Radio are changing that formula and adding to the dialogue. Many diverse groups receive backlash, including TV On The Radio, who go to great lengths to justify what they do.
I am a white female who listened to music in the sixties. I loved Ottis Redding, The Temptations, The Meters, and The Jackson Five. I listened to and bought their albums. I also listened to The Beatles, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, Dylan, The Doors, the Band, and Joni Mitchell. Those were very different times.
We all have our perspectives and taste and bring different references to understand and categorize music history. Like in all classifications, we can never leave out the cultural, historic, and societal changes that contribute to what people listen to at any given time. The Clear Channel is just one example. Or do we need affirmative action for the great and talented bands and musicians being shut out?
Our global world gets much smaller via the Internet, creating access and exposure to all musical genres. The connections between race, culture, and art will be more difficult to classify. Indaba Music Site is a good example, and concept for the future direction and vision music will take. I welcome that concept and more that are on the horizon.
Audio version MP3
Many points I have mentioned are discussed in an audio version of the article. Only some concepts were clarified. Within the context of an article, not everything can be explained in full. I still take issue with many points revealed.
Two Gallants: Review
The recording, attitude, straightforwardness, raw quality, emotional levels, and full-bodied sound do not get better than this. I marvel at their musicianship because it has an immediate presence. I described their recently released EP, The Scenery of Farewell, as acoustic bliss. “Trembling of the Rose” is the only acoustic offering on this release, the other eight tracks are electric. The emotional and raw traits of this recording are even more striking because the music’s intensity and pace meet up with the highs and lows of the storytelling.
The flat-picking electric guitar leads echo in the desolate open air, allowing every note to resonate. Stephen’s harmonica bleeds with affectation while Vogel pounds the drums and clashes the cymbals with impending abandon.
Stephen is a raw folk storyteller who pens a hard-to-the-core palette, evoking ties that bind. The lyrical entries are of loss and abandonment, hate, lust, and heart-wrenching tales that are at times scornful with a vengeance.
Each track starts out differently, adding to the variety of the mix. "Reflections of a Marionette” shows off that diversity. Featuring a slew of styles so imaginatively synchronized to form an integral whole. Vehemently stating / I hope your gone by the time this song is through /. Then the scornful flurry in the chorus / I don’t want to see you fall/ I want you see you fail / catapults the song into a vindictive territory.
“The Hand That Held Me Down” describes the ultimate human betrayal with words that hurt like, / the heights to which you drag me / just to hurl your scorn /. The accusation of the chorus / did you hold the hand that held me down /, captures the essence of disloyalty while the harmonica simulates the vulnerable feelings expressed.
Rarely does Stephen’s use words that give an indication of time and place. In the last track, "My Baby's Gone,” he uses a contemporary reference quite effectively; he quietly moans, / I’ve lost my floaty, then he cries with a whisper / my baby’s gone /. The pace quickens epically, and the quietly whispered phrase becomes the roar of a relenting chorus.
“Fly Low Carrion Crow” is the most interesting from a vocal standpoint. Stephen’s trades in his strained throaty vocals for a more restrained lower register. In the song “Miss Merri” the cowboy bass line is an inferential musical clue reflecting the loss of America's soul in the sprawling fields of suburbia. / Oh miss merri don’t despair me / we got ways to numb your pain / same old story / blood, sweat, glory / just hope all your trials were in vain.
These collections of songs indulge my emotions. I revel in the lyrics and music to feel alive with pain. You don’t have to be there to go there. I would love the Two Gallants to write more about the state of the world, topics of great importance, and political and social unrest. They have the power in their writing and music to stir the nation, for now, they stir the soul.
Two Gallants 4Play Filmed by Saddle Creek Records:
Daytrotter Sessions: Two Gallants Encore
The Hand That Held Me Down MP3
CMJ Rants and observations
1. To be fair to the bands, the sound checks are almost non-existent, and the amount of time to play is very short. There is little time to get into the groove.
2. Seeing a band with an audience of fifteen or less is not the greatest way to judge their ability, musicians often feed off the energy of an audience and play off that dynamic.
3. Some groups are road veterans and are always relaxed and no big deal, another show of many.
4. Some are locals, so just hopping in a cab and meeting bandmates with their instruments is not too stressful. While others travel to perform at these events, hoping to catapult them into a new category of exposure.
5. Then there are different performers, like bands with local fans. Seeing them in this setting is great but an unfair advantage in judgment.
6. Solo and acoustic performers need an exclusive venue for listening.
7. Finally, some bands have been hyped beyond their current capabilities and are bound to disappoint.
I have read much of the coverage of the anticipated main events and lesser-known acts, only to realize that writers are fast to judge and tear down what they have spent so much time hyping. For instance, an act like Dan Deacon has received a slew of press and many new opportunities. I’m sure he is aware of some of the problems created by his insistence on performing on the venue's floor rather than the stage. It is difficult to change midstream, especially when riding on the success that has been a long effort. Changing what has been working is difficult and takes time and thought. He also has a philosophical bent being both a performance artist and composer.
The band Cut off Your Hands traveled from New Zealand and booked many shows to gain exposure and distribute their recordings in the states. They went for it and took a risk; they certainly got their name out there.
I truly understand the reasoning behind un C. Em. J. Music Fest, 07 alternative events catering to the under-21 crowd with good music taste, who are basically shut out from attending many of the shows offered by CMJ. The curated Blogger shows present another alternative. Many of the Bloggers staged events to give exposure to bands they have seen and enjoyed so that others from across the country have the same opportunity.
I wish I lived in closer proximity to Manhattan. Within the year, that will all change but for now, driving for over an hour and parking present obstacles.
I made my outing to two venues The Gothamist House and The Indaba Loft. Both are low-key free events.
People might find it strange, but I love the band o’death and I love Peasant. It was nice to see Peasant perform before a small attentive crowd and just hear his beautiful voice without any distractions. He followed o’death and most of the crowd walked out before his set. I think that is too bad. It is difficult for acoustic solo performers without a band because people expect instant gratification and theatrics over substance. His voice and song arrangements are beautiful, sincere, and tender and might seem foreign to an older, cynical listener.
To see o’death while sitting on a couch sipping sparkling water with a twist of lime presented a predicament. I didn’t sit for long. I loved seeing them play in such an intimate and cozy setting. Instantly their style of Appalachian punk with elements of diverse composition altered the surroundings. They played two new songs that sounded wonderful. It was a nice treat to see a tuba player in the mix adding additional flavor to their original and invigorating sound.
Cut Off Your Hands played very loud power pop punk, with emotive vocals that sounded like a mixture of the Cure and Cursive. Seeing them just felt out of place in a small venue during the day. It was as if they were performing for a stadium. Watching the lead singer posturing and
going through MTV video antics made me chuckle. I still enjoyed their lively 4 song set.
Indaba was very friendly and relaxing, it really felt like a party. The crowd was getting too comfortable talking, so when Natalie Prass finally arrived for her set after being delayed in traffic, the audience couldn’t stop. That was unfortunate because I liked what I heard, even with a backing band, it was an acoustic sound, so the outside noise couldn’t be drowned out. She has an interesting vocal range and reminds me of Fiest and alt. country great Patty Griffin. Her song arrangements were also quite nice.
I came to Indaba to see Beat Radio, I like Brian Sendrowitz's songwriting and have seen him solo acoustic once before. I’ve been meaning to see the band for a while. I’m happy I did. The sound is very powerful and rich live. There are no rough edges. The music is not slick, it is real, and the musicianship and collaborative spirit of the group are a pleasure to witness. The smart and memorable lyrics are melded into a sonic mix of finger-picking, electronic echoes with an upbeat pulse. My notes read....................
Powerhouse Phil Jimenez on keys and Guitar. They’ve got chops!
In both venues, I found the CMJ networking annoying, like reading while someone is performing a few feet away or talking really loud and not stopping even when there is a quiet moment on set. I think most of the networking can be done between acts. Maybe my networking is more limited, but I accomplished a lot and received an awesome EP from Jukebox The Ghost. I will see them soon!
I ended the evening at the Pink Pony. They have the best reasonably priced home cooking, a great atmosphere, and a jukebox. I drove home listening to Peasant’s Three songs promotional recording looped all the way. Ahhhh …….Work the next day. Wake up at 6:00.
Peasant, Damien DeRose CMJ 07
Peasant will perform Day One at the Gothamist / WOXY CMJ, a four-day party at the White Rabbit. The show will not be a typical full-on rock show but a more intimate acoustic fare. If you can’t attend, WOXY will broadcast from the space and provide a podcast of The Best of The Gothamist House shortly following the event's conclusion. The lineup is really fine, including other bands I love o'death and Illinois.
Peasant will also be a part of the great CMJ lineup at the Indaba Loft, presented by Indaba Music, This Side Up, and Underrated Magazine. This four-day event also features the band Beat Radio headed by the accomplished singer-songwriter Brian Sendrowitz and the indie pop rock outfit Eagle Seagull from Nebraska.
Continuing in his distinctive folk-pop style, Peasant has a new recording, On The Ground, to be released on Paper Garden Records in February of 08. The sound is divinely dreamy, yielding an array of silky vocal harmonies paired with exquisite echoed instrumentation. The release includes eight songs from the studio analog 2” tape and seven home recordings. Three of the studio songs are featured on his updated myspace site.
Wildebeest, Matthew Winn / Sweet Mini Tour
So........... get ready for some serious raw, passionate and bluesy folk like no other. Matthew Winn is a stellar multi-instrumentalist and accomplished songwriter.
October: check myspace for more details.
13 RISD house show/Providence, RI
14 Worcester College/Worcester MA
16 Leah house show/Portland Main
18 51 Railroad/Johnson, Vermont
20 Smog @ Bard College/New York
21 Five Points/Albany NY
24 American University/Washington DC
25 House Show/Baltimore MD
26 Flemington Bucks County Coffee/ Flemington NJ
Wham City Site Extreem..ly Great!
Wham City Site De Jour
Wham City is an Internet site that encompasses the OCD vision of an ingenious collective of musicians/bands, artists, writers, animators, filmmakers, comic artists, actors, and fashion stylists. A Drum Roll, Please! They can’t be stopped! Their trademark of inventiveness is extreme. Dan Deacon is their breakout music artist who is gaining national attention and press for his frenetic live shows. The magnetic force of his talent will draw people to the Wham City Website. Their projects are in full gear despite losing their physical headquarters in “Charm City” Baltimore, Maryland, the city of choice for low rent and large space.
The Wham City site menu displays uploaded projects, events, touring, creative videos, alternative TV shows, comic sites, and fashion sites that are updated regularly. Their uninhibited application of technology is a highlight, creating a site destination that is one of a kind.
The collective imprint is their kitsch aesthetic that creates a maze of visual and auditory entries. They Scramble images and sounds, melding the juxtaposition of; the new with old, found with consumed, high art with low, craft art with machine-made, trash with treasure, and commercial with lo-fi.
Through the scrambled web, the collective merges its obsessions of pop culture, consumer culture, treasured eras, comic book heroes, and video gaming into unique visual and musical affectations. They celebrate these obsessions and parody them with abandon. One of the great delights is melding the individual vision with the collective.
Living Large Resourcefully
The Wham City collective is comprised of its original founding members all (graduates of Purchase College), their friends, and talented Baltimore contributors who share a similar sensibility, vision, and lifestyle. They all live large without being weighed down by the materialistic standards driving others. They understand the inventiveness of living creatively on a low budget, which has guided their creative freedom.
To Highlight a Few of The Heavy Hitters
Dan Deacon is an absurd music composer. His music is created with a keyboard and mic plugged into a collection of discarded electronic equipment. He cranks the decibels and alters his vocal frequencies, speeding it up with whimsical nuance and childlike wonder. Creating a chaotic beat that is infectious to audiences all over the country. He combines theatrics and audience participation into a lively frenzied performance happening.
Jimmy Roche is a Baltimore based Filmmaker, Video Artist
Jimmy Joe Roche created Dan Deacon’s latest video release, "Crystal Cat," from the CD entitled Spiderman Of The Rings. Clocking in fast, the psychedelic kaleidoscope zooms in and out of Dan Deacon singing and convulsively moving his body. Through the lens are floating animation, puppetry, and guest band appearances by the Video Hippos and the Santa Dads.
Dina Kelberman: Web Designer for Wham City and so much more…..
Another founding member Dina Kelberman is their web designer and the creator of two spectacular links on Wham City. Her comic book site called Important Comics displays her small shape abstractions that communicate within the bubble, saying things like; I’m bored, I’m a loser, this sucks and you’re a dick. It is dry humor based a little on self-deprecation and is hilarious in the context of slacker culture. Somehow she manages to sprinkle sweetness into the dialogue, portraying an obscure moral. It is simple but smart.
Poor Choice Clothing features Dina’s clothing concepts. The paradoxical name magnifies her unique and insanely funny humor. The fashions are must-see. Dina’s detailed illustrations can be seen on the cover art of Wham City bands like the Santa Dads flyers for events and shows. She also creates
three-dimensional assemblies that are used for plays and video productions.
Ed Schrader Comedian / Talk Show Host
The Ed Schrader Show is an episode talk show spoof using the host formula format. He welcomes guests from bands like the Parenthetical Girls, locals, and the Charm City Roller Girls or presents a film by Meredith More with music tracks by Dan Deacon. Every show features his very own house band of rotating players. Done badly on purpose, the show looks like a late-night cable access TV show, only it is intended to be funny. Ed has unique personality quirks, like his obsessive, unhealthy love for David Bowie, and a comedic approach similar to the late Andy Kaufman.
Dina Kelberman Quote, Wham City Pipe Dreams
“There are always tons of pipe dreams being thrown around; it's hard to tell what's actually going to happen. There's talk of farms, legitimate venues, new warehouse spaces, another round-robin tour, a monthly multi-media curated exhibition, and a theatrical interpretation of Jurassic Park. Keep watching the skies!”
Wham City a Collective Spirit of Culture
Without a large budget and their philosophical bent intact, they have forged an Internet territory like no
Rants of a Music Blogger
My religion is in nature, art, and literacy
My religion is in science, music, and poetry
My religion is the mountain; my church is in the seas
My religion is to love you, yet my church is entropy
My religion is in your eyes, but my church ain't organized
My faith is in the sweetness that you might realize
but my faith it could be fiction, my faith could not be smart
My religion is the weather, yeah; my church is in your heart
Complete lyrics of "Rothko Chapel."
It bothers me that thoughtful words can be reduced to a rating or discounted by a catchword. I don't care about Spin .com reviews, they do not influence what I buy or listen to. What is discouraging is that young people who could benefit by listening to music that generates reflection might be swayed by this review.
We are a society of vacant minds spoon-fed in music, education, politics, and religion. We are manipulated daily by our government and the media. The ramifications of the religious right have infiltrated our lives and laws. Religion is used to justify atrocities, divide people, and encourage hate rather than understanding.
What is so wrong with listening to inspirational lyrics that pose questions and that leave listeners to reflect on their beliefs? New or old words are powerful. Words and ideas can effect change. Let’s give Folk a chance to matter.
Spread this song around.
Rothko Chapel MP3
The Rothko Chapel website
Dinner With The Band
Music Site Scavenger: Series 2
No Junk Food or Muzak At This Site
Dinner With The Band is a site destination that features great music and great food. The formula is simple. Invite a band to a spacious loft for dinner and ask them to help prepare culinary specialties with the guidance of a master chef. Sit down to eat, converse and drink adult beverages. When the band is satiated, they will do what they do best: play music. This is the recipe for an entertaining and musically informative show. The simple formula is full of surprises and made fresh with the arrival of each new band. Although this site is professionally produced it is not watered down for mass appeal. That can ruin anyone’s appetite for either food or music.
Dinner With the Band is created based on the combined passions of two brothers Darin and Greg Bresnitz with credentials in both food and music. Sam Mason the shows host is a well-respected pastry chef, owner of Tailor Restaurant in Manhattan, and a music fan. The fun begins in his homey pad, when the band members take on the duties of ad hoc sous-chefs. Mason’s relaxed amiable personality and style fit right into the mix. Seeing his beautiful tattoo sleeves, one might think he is a band member, brushing a snare drum instead of basting soufflés.
The show has a boutique feel and is produced with high quality digital film and sound by the top-notch outfit Super!alright! Media. Karaoke type graphics appear on the screen, to highlight each ingredient of Mason’s creative recipes. The music performances are vividly filmed, giving the viewers a close and detailed look into every aspect of the playing dynamics. More interesting then just straightforward filming, the camera picks up communication between musicians with close up footage and fresh camera angles. No gimmicks necessary, just the music.
Matt and Kim: Newest Episode Entry
The latest episode is with the band Matt and Kim a catchy dance punk duo, featuring Kim playing drums and Matt on keyboards and vocals. They are well known in the DIY circuits and have been gaining national attention for their lively energetic heartfelt sets. The striking film segments capture the duo’s obvious deep connection to each other. Their unbridled energy is so forceful and honest, that this intimate private session feels like a performance for a large crowd. Their infectious music and fun-loving spirit thrive on the screen.
Matt and Kim help chef Mason prepare black olive cobbler and homemade almond ice cream. The pitting of the olives is comical as they try to negotiate the special tool. We find out little quirky details, like Matt has sensitive teeth, while we watch him try to politely hold back the pain the hot and cold dish has triggered. We learn that Kim started to play drums three years ago and get to witness how far she has progressed, only by touring and relentless practicing. My favorite anecdote is that they toured the country for three years with one self-released EP. That is DIY ethic in all its glory!
Life Affirming Combination
The winning formula of Dinner With The Band would have a different outcome in the hands of mainstream media. Think of the mass marketing of food and the mass marketing of music, you know that both appeal to the lowest common denominator. In contrast, at this site you are treated to a life affirming combination, where great food and great music is sustenance.
It's A Fact - mp3
Matt and Kim ~ It's A Fact
Drink Up Buttercup @ The Cake Shop
Without a moment to waste they started with the song "Mr. Pie Eyes” that was delivered with gusto, playing garbage cans, big shakers and their vocals in full throttle. Especially enthralling is their ability to slow things down and instantly pick up the velocity. They are FUN to watch.
They combine theatrics. experimental instrumentation and rough percussion with added Beatle like harmonies. Yes, their harmonies and vocals are always on pitch and that good. They sound like Animal Collective goes pop.
It is great to see a young band with so much promise and enthusiasm, who are eager and ready to make somebody's day. They made mine.
Langhorne Slim - Phenomenal at Club Europa
The threesome of guitar and vocals (Langhorne), stand-up bass (Paul Defiglio), and drums (Malachi DeLorenzo) became a foursome with Sam Kassirer on a Rhodes piano. Kassirer rounded out the sound, and stylistically he was right on queue. What sets Langhorne Slim apart from other groups is their great musicianship and affable camaraderie. They are a brotherhood of soul, grit, hard work, and passion. They bring that ethic to every show.
Complimenting the raucous music is Slim’s phenomenal showmanship that stirred the crowd to enthusiastically stomp, shake, and smile. The last three songs were a bonus and part of an impromptu encore, that he started with a request to turn on the disco lights, which hung like artifacts from another era. The mood was established, and as the song progressed, members of the audience joined him on stage. Ending the set with the crowd pleaser “I love to Dance,” he said he should retire. The ravenous crowd was pleased he didn’t.
Langhorne Slims’ shows are always great, but headlining makes a difference. It is not too often that I see that kind of enthusiasm for music or have a night out that is so memorable.
Music Site Scavenger
I have found the time to explore the Internet for musicians and fans who have an interest but don't have the time. So I hope this will give you all something to look forward to. Part one of my series is The Big Purple Van Club (the post below this one). My previous article about Daytrotter in July 2007 is the first.
The Big Purple Van Club
Obsession Collection -
Music Site Scavenger Series #1
The Big Purple Van Club is a French Internet music site that features videos of awesome underground music acts, filmed in a 1970s Van. While the van drives through the streets of Paris, it becomes a moving theater. The interaction between the musicians and the colorful crew replicates a contemporary version of "The Magical Mystery Tour." The Big Purple Van Club site is a destination where viewers will see all genres of music captured in an atmosphere of love and celebration. The authenticity is potent. It is like seeing a band in a basement, living room, or garage show, where few boundaries separate the audience from the musicians.
The creative staff that makes it all possible includes: Pablo Nicomedes (creator/cameraman), Mc Load Le Pirate (the van conductor), Joaquin Lola (sound), and Muchachos (lights). The chic hobo-styled foursome brings artistry and personality to the fray. They have designed ingenious ways to film and edit impromptu music sessions while layering humor in the mix.
I regularly visited their myspace site and wrote glowing comments. With a few communications in broken English, we discussed the possibility of doing an interview. Some time passed and I went back to the site and was a little concerned, it was looking a little strange.
Surprisingly, all their top friend icons were beautiful women posed in funny and provocative positions creating a parody of myspace. I was offended and didn't quite get the joke. My rush to judgment was a little embarrassing. I have grown to appreciate their zany antics. They don't take themselves too seriously, which is one reason the site is so refreshing. You almost never know what they will do next.
My interview took place with Pablo Nicomedes, the creator/film director of The BPVC via email.
As a teenager in the sixties, a van symbolized freedom and the awaiting open road of possibilities. Gas was cheap, there was the call of the sexual revolution, and young people decorated their vans as lo-fi love shacks, unlike the customized vehicles of the “Pimp My Ride” generation.
The Vans Torrid History and Karmic Upgrade
When Pablo found the van, he was surprised by its history. It was a destination for prostitutes to do business in Pigalle, the red light district in Paris. This was a love shack of a different order, and in Pablo’s mind, it represented the love of sorts. While viewing the van, He had an epiphany, he thought it would be wonderful to film musicians and poets in the van and share their energy and passion via the Internet. The dull old van got a face-lift and was painted purple. That was the inauguration of The Big Purple Van Club.
Finding and presenting music not found in commercial media is the primary focus of The BPVC. Their music selection is not genre specific. They are open to music of any category and what suits their fancy at a particular moment. So far, many filmed sessions have included musicians respected in the underground scene, like Ramona Cordova, Francois Virot, and David Fenench. The uploaded videos offer exposure to their music.
The original concept has evolved and has enabled the fluidity of ideas. This year The BPVC presented “The Big Show,” which included twenty-five recent live-in van performers to participate. Affording pop, underground, hip-hop, strange electro, comedic, and rock to share the same stage in one night. The collective created a pre-show event with the purple van parked in front of the Le Club Des Chats. This theatrical red carpet staging area added momentum for the line-up to follow.
The BPVC has just updated its website, making it a necessary pit stop that showcases all its creative endeavors. They have recently added a French radio broadcast that presents a different artist weekly, along with podcasts of each performance. For the future, they are planning to bring the purple van to New York in the summer of 2008, culminating in a big show in September.
This madcap crew knows how to have fun, and their eccentric frolics can be outrageous and campy. The van interior and their costumes change to accommodate the varying line-up. This collective has discerning taste and creative vision. Most importantly, they share their love of music with viewers worldwide, hoping to make purple a symbol of music passion.
Rants of a Music Blogger
I am very opinionated, extremely loyal, passionate, a little insane, foul-mouthed (to make a point), and frankly too old to be doing this. Let me just say, some music makes me ill. I have seen live acts that are not ready for the printed word. I will politely listen, or exit discreetly.
This industry is tough. So many of the musicians I write about are broke. Their commitment to music has rewards and sacrifices but is not for the weak. So…why hurt or criticize? That was never my intention. Obsession Collection is a platform for me to write about music that I think is exceptional and often ignored. Writing thoughtful articles takes time and effort, and I think the music deserves that kind of care.