Tuesday, October 28, 2008

250 WORDS OR LESS REVIEW: Gang Gang Dance "Saint Dymphna" [The Social Registry, 2008]

The music of Brooklyn, NYC's Gang Gang Dance carries with it a strong whiff of Eastern/Mediterrainian mysticism. Blared in an open-air market in India, you'd expect it to charm snakes from their baskets or prompt bellydancers to gyrate their hips. Harnessing drum pads, keyboards, guitars, samplers, and the alluringly expressive vocal stylings of frontwoman Liz 'LZA' Bougatsos, the quartet specializes in electro-fractal, world-beat pop Until recently, the fruits of their labor were as profoundly improvisory as ocean waves. Saint Dymphna represents a seismic shift in GGD standard operating procedure, drenching the groups' propulsive exoticism in pop syrup while incorporating an even wider array of influences. (Afrobeat, anyone? It's in there.) The rough edges are polished lapidary smooth. Kaledescopic aural labyrinth 'Bebey' marries synths reminiscent of early Talking Heads to the delirious, jerky reverb employed by underground outfits like Black Dice and Growing; 'Vacuum' smears those Heads tones into a Surroundsound, headphone mindfuck. 'House Jam'? It really is a house jam; the track could slip into a club DJ's set unnoticed. And when London grime artist Tinchy Stryder leaps into the ivory-torrent spray, bongo-pummel, and jagged-synth shrapnel fray of 'Princes' - 'Oh shit, Gang Gang!' he enthuses - it somehow doesn't feel like a departure, but, rather, a natural progression.

Friday, October 10, 2008

FROM PTW, 7/9/07: Christy & Emily, “Noah”

from Gueen's Head (The Social Registry)
Avant-Folk // Out Now

Brooklyn duo Christy Edwards and Emily Manzo, a.k.a. Christy & Emily are a gauzy oasis in a somewhat disappointing year for avant-folk treats. Sure, Panda Bear’s soft-focus, loop-chutes charmed and Fursaxa’s wafer-thin folk operatics invited, but neither totally involved (“ephemeral” doesn’t necessarily equal “eclipsing”; if it did, we’d happily wear out a fresh set of headphones every month). If Gueen’s Head, C&E’s debut for hip psych-noise standard-bearers the Social Registry, is an arresting delight, then “Noah” represents its rippling, hazy pinnacle. Here, rock guitarist Edwards and classical pianist Manzo are positively drowning for each other’s thirsts. Delirious vocal glides emerge from opposing corners and meet in a languorous crisscross before vanishing back into the shimmy rue from whence they came. Both women are reading from the same lyric sheet, but their anesthetized deliveries smudge meaning into a gliding, lysergic paste that melts atop a bottomless, sluggish mass of simmering fret percolations, narcoleptic vibraphones and wobbly Wurlitzers. It’s a dizzily de-centered swim that shouldn’t have to end, but as with all things, it ultimately must.

Christy Edwards on “Noah”:

“Noah” sounds like a slow, delirious drowning—in a good way. Is this the feel you were going for?

We’d always imagined this being sung by a drunken choir of our friends and pirates. And yeah, the crew is drunk, so we’re all going down.

Who is Noah? Are you two harmonizing about the biblical Noah?

I’m glad that you are making biblical connections to the song, and there is a general nautical theme to the record as a whole. I almost don’t want to demystify it for you, but I wrote that song for my mother, prior to and in anticipation of a visit we made together to her family in Asia. Noah is a real person, and we named the song after him, because the initial recording we did was used in an art installation he did. All the heavy connotations the name brought along were a bonus.

Are you planning to see Steve Carrell’s new-Noah comedy Evan Almighty?

There’s a big billboard up for that movie that we see on the way to our practice space. I liked The 40 Year-Old Virgin, so yeah, I think maybe we will -RAYMOND CUMMINGS Monday, July 9th, 2007

Cheer Up, Thom Yorke!

This 2006 humor piece, directed at Thom Yorke, originally ran in Clevescene, but for various reasons the link no longer works. I found it here.

Invert That Frown

Dear Thom,

You're probably staggering under weighty preoccupations — Iraq-botch fallout, Israel-Hezbollah imbroglio, Big Brother — but lay off the cryptic sourball imagery and cheer up already. Even in chaos, diversions and pleasures abound. We hoped you'd relax a bit after Hail to the Thief, but The Eraser's grim-faced tightropes confirmed our worst fears. Here are some suggestions on how to lighten up.

1. Join a paintball league. Then wear the spattered suit everywhere for a few weeks. No one — least of all you — will take you so damned seriously.

2. Post a photo of Zach de la Rocha on your wall. If you ever fret that Radiohead isn't releasing new material often enough to further "the cause," remember that the self-styled revolutionary has released only one measly song in six years.

3. Trash all those goth and IDM CDs and pick up Art Brut's debut, which is so bonkers it should be on Prozac. Bonus for your audience: Bring Art Brut on tour.

4. Visit conflict-ridden countries and streak. This will (a) earn Radiohead a certain roguish notoriety, (b) help you tap more adrenaline and dispel more stress than riding roller coasters, while (c) perhaps bewildering the warring parties into a ceasefire as they stare at the insane British rock star leaping, stark naked, from bomb crater to bomb crater.

5. It's hard to believe that the playful curiosity of your two children hasn't rubbed off on you. Joining their games and fantasies would do wonders for your mood; it sure beats skulking about the manor, mumbling "I will eat you alive" and generally scaring the bejesus out of everybody. — Ray Cummings

THE FRIDAY INTERVIEW: Mark Morgan, Richard Hoffman, and Jon Lockie of SIGHTINGS

Voguing to Danzig: How and when did you guys start playing together as Sightings?

Mark Morgan: Around March or April '97, I put up fliers at record stores around New York stating that I was looking to start a band. After getting a few rather disheartening phone calls ("the only band that has really influenced me is Babe the Blue Ox"), Jon gave me a ring and after talking a for a few minutes, we decided to meet up. Over the next year and half, we screwed around with a few different bass players who either couldn't commit or didn't share our "vision". Doubt began to set in after awhile as to whether we would ever get this thing going and then finally we met Richard in the Fall of '98 (also through a flyer). We had our first jam in November of that year but didn't start regularly practicing till January '99.

VTD: Babe the Blue Ox? Ouch.

Richard Hoffman: Did you ever see BTBO? That woman plays a mean bass.

VTD: How does the Sightings songwriting process work? Are songs conceived from jam sessions or do you each bring in separate ideas?

RH: We generate some ideas on our own but everything comes together in jamming. I might play a bass line on my own and try to work it into a Sightings jam, but we never do the "I got this song for you guys to learn" thing.

VTD: Mark, what can you tell me about Maude? Is that a going thing? I read a thing or two about it on the TLASILA blog but have come up short looking for more info. (Note: Mark is also a member of To Live & Shave in L.A.)

MM: Maude is very much a non-going thing. It would be the type of deal where I would want to practice and try to write songs with Tom but us living so far apart puts the kibosh on any notions of having band at the moment. Also, dealing with NYC rent and bills kind of hinders my movements.

VTD: What other bands are you guys in? Do you think of Sightings as your main project?

MM: I'm also in a band called Key To Shame which is with my friend Pat Murano of No Neck/Malkuth. Just two guys fumbling around with pedals, occasionally playing their guitars. We've done some recording, played two shows and hope to continue doing it. I sometimes play with An Alien Heat which is basically Northampton Wools with myself thrown in the mix adding another layer of racket. Just three guys fumbling with pedals, occasionally playing their guitars. While I generally prefer playing with groups that have some kind of strong plan/structure ideas, there is something to be said for getting up there to disperse tuneless guitar hell for half an hour.

RH: Sightings has been our main project regardless of how we think about it. I have played with Brian Sullivan of Mouthus since the late '90's when we both lived in Providence. We have kept our project--Chaw Mank--going on some level all along and lately seem to be picking up some more steam. I am also playing recently with my wife and Carbon from Metalux in a project that may be called Body Types, although I am expecting to hear any day that there are five bands called that.

VTD: I stole this question from an old Doonesbury cartoon: how are you able to keep body and soul together?

RH: I have no soul.

VTD: Do you guys have day jobs?

RH: Ha-ha…do you?

VTD: Good point, and fair enough. What do you do for day jobs? Personally, I'm a technical writer for a huge corporation. If wishes were horses, I'd just blog about music and books and politics and culture all day for more money than I make day-jobbing and freelance writing.

MM: I work at the office of a construction company that guts and remodels high-end apartments. The typical customer is usually a hedge fund manager who has more in the bank than half of the countries in Africa. My day usually consists of staring at Excel spread sheets (more exciting than you could possibly imagine) and scheduling plumbers, electricians, painters, etc. In summary, work sucks and are there any potential patrons out there who could release us from the bonds of our labors?

RH: I do a few things. Art handling, work at a junk shop.

VTD: I'm curious about your influences, musical and otherwise. No-wave is what comes across most strongly, to me, in your stuff, but also the Dead C. - in the sense that sometimes, and I'm thinking of Absolutes and End Times specifically, it can be hard to tell what instrument is causing what sound. It's like a big fused-together jumble of parts with no purpose but to annihilate everything on a sonic level - and I mean that in a very, very good way.

RH: Can't say I have ever consciously listened to much No-Wave, maybe The Ex qualifies? Influential for me is more early Industrial (Einsturzende, SPK, Cabaret Voltaire), Kraut (Faust!), some '90's stuff like Jesus Lizard and US Maple, and of course SST stuff like Black Flag and Minutemen. I think when the band started, Kollaps was probably my main reference point for the sound of the records. Joy Division was my favorite band in high school.

MM: All the no wave comparisons are probably my fault since I'm the unschooled, shrieking one of the band. Granted, Richard and Jon can also dump some of their own shriek but they can also play way more styles of music than I can. I think the guitar mangling of groups like Red Transistor or Mars are influential on me personally but that's only one chunk of my stylings (so says me) and taken as a whole, it becomes an even smaller part of the group aesthetic. I think the comparisons to the Dead C are only valid in terms recording technique. Record a band playing loud and vaguely off kilter on a shitty four track and you're going to get a semi undifferentiated whhooosssshhhh sound a fair amount of the time. Of course, we can hear the individual parts on the records you mentioned since uhh, we ourselves played on them but I can't necessarily fault someone for saying something like, "You can't tell what's going on."

VTD: Here's a two parter. What's the most surprising reaction to your music that you've ever received, and what’s the least surprising?

RH: Actually the constant reference to No-Wave is way up there for most surprising, but again, I never spent much time with that stuff.

MM: We've heard emo once or twice. Sure, it's emotional - isn't most of the best music emotional? - but emo as a music genre tag is utterly baffling but hey, is this really worth pondering?

VTD: You've been described as "the most dangerous band in America"; having trouble sourcing who said that. Is that a mantle you accept, reject, or dispute? If you dispute it, who would you say deserves that title?

Jon Lockie: The "most dangerous" tag came from an article written in a Cleveland paper and I believe the source is footnoted on the Wikipedia page.

RH: That's just utter fucking bullshit and I am not sure who wrote that or that Wikipedia entry. Harsh or weird music isn't dangerous since those who aren't interested simply tune it out. Bands pushing religion deserve to be called dangerous. We're not brainwashing anyone.

MM: Ditto.

VTD: Thanks to the miracle of discogs, I learned recently that Sightings issued a pair of early releases titled CD 1 and CD 2. Are there any plans to re-issue those?

JL: The two CDRs are 4-track recordings made around the time of the Arrived in Gold and End Times albums. "Failure of Words" from End Times first appeared on CD 2 here. Two other tracks are 4-track versions of songs on Arrived in Gold ("Odds On" and "Arrived in Gold, Arrived in Smoke"). The other 6 tunes don't appear anywhere else. They're just CDRs containing material that, at the time, had never made it on a record. I can always make more copies here but I usually only make them for tours.

MM: They are still available sporadically through Fusetron and at our merch table when we are on tour.

VTD: Mark, do you own a grandfather clock? See, "Brought a Grandfather Clock" has become one of my favorite Sightings songs, so much so that it's the first track on my current morning exercise iPod playlist. And it struck me, that titular phrase, as a killer line of throwaway dialogue for a low-budget slasher flick, for a scene before the bloodshed begins. Like, people are showing up at a house party and the guy manning the door is asking arriving guests what they have to share. One girl's got Mike's Hard Lemonade of Boone's Farm or whatever, one dude brought scotch, one dude brought weed, and then there's some dude who says, totally deadpan, "brought a grandfather clock."

MM: I can't remember what this song is about. Actually, it was probably about nothing.

VTD: What's the best album you've heard in the last, say, 72 hours that you really think I should buy?

RM: Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire.

JL: Cluster, "Sowiesoso" - just reissued on vinyl

MM: Mask of the Imperial Family "s/t" no longer available but can be downloaded from Mutant Sounds.

VTD: What's up next for Sightings? New album? A tour? Amused inner-band discussion of how inane my interview questions were?

RH: We're trying to figure out how to go back to the studio. Records cost money to make. Or we're trying to decide if another 4-track record a la End Times--which costs almost nothing to make--is something we're interested in. We're definitely due for a record, and we think our best is yet to come.

MM: At least you didn't ask what our favorite colors are.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

150 WORDS OR LESS REVIEW: The Vivian Girls "The Vivian Girls" [In the Red, 2008]

22-year old Ray couldn't have gotten enough of NYC's Vivian Girls; he'd have been smitten panting dumb by the groundhog tunnel-level production non-values, the smash/bash/dash song lengths, the hit-and-run songwriting, the love-sick twee vibe, the players' gleefully fake nicknames (cf. "Kickball Katty"). But 31-year old Ray - who's less wowed by an aesthetic that's been overdone, and would maintain that said nicknames should imply a greater sense of threat, i.e., like a Red Aunts degree of torrential malice - would just as soon send his Vivian Girls promo to 22-year old Ray via space-time continuum FedEx overnite than play the thing again anytime soon. He'll admit a soft spot for "No," because it's just 83 wild-out seconds of the Girls going "No no no, no no no!" No!

FROM PTW, 8/15/08: Restiform Bodies, “Bobby Trendy Addendum”

It’s been a little over a month since PaperThinWalls ceased to exist. The site is still up, but given that there’s no telling how long it’ll be there – and in the interests of personal posterity – I’ve taken the liberty of copying every article I wrote; I’ll be posting ‘em all here, bit by bit.

RESTIFORM BODIES - “Bobby Trendy Addendum”
from TV Loves You Back (Anticon)
Hip-Hop // Out Now

Remember flamboyant, antagonistic fashion designer/interior decorator Bobby Trendy from The Anna Nicole Smith Show? Restiform Bodies—the Anticon second-stringer supergroup of Passage, Now, Bomaar Monk and Telephone Jim Jesus—are reuniting and are resurrecting him, too, on “Bobby Trendy Addendum.” But they could just as easily be raking any number of other bitchy celebs or quasi-celebs over the coals here. In other words, if Bobby Trendy didn’t exist, they might’ve just as easily invented him. The ear-teasing Noah’s Arcade-on-fire electro-noise crunch of “Bobby Trendy Addendum” is pure pop-cult concept, overwhelming Information Age bombast as constructed reality. The song sounds like living today feels: too much, too fast, too loud, too bright, nothing making any definite sense—but like watching Anna Nicole, it’s guilty-pleasure, button-slamming fun, you know? It’s excitement in excess. Bars are jammed together, independent of one another, so that Passage’s narrative comes off like a provocative string of ideas and exclamation points more than anything else. “Apple of my mother’s eye, even if they convict,” he spits—bitterly and blithely and carelessly, all at once—before all logic gets gone and you just grab onto whatever scraps of language you can in the advert-jingle flood of splintered images: “Most oblivious, neurotic,” “smash my maths,” “juicy, delicious,” “appetites lashed to the hood of the Bentley,” “charm a snake, weave a basket,” some buckshot-blasted bullshit about Joan and Melissa Rivers. Overthink at your peril. Just hold tight to your swivel chairs, enjoy the ride, and regard the experience as the musical equivalent of the Internet/nightly news/ celebrity-factoid shuffle we're all pretty much caught up in.

Restiform Bodies’ David “Passage” Bryant on “Bobby Trendy Addendum”

Is the title character a strawman for American pop-culture avarice?

I didn’t intend to paint him personally as an icon of greed, avarice or anything exactly—certainly not anything negative, if that’s what you mean by “strawman.” I wanted to beam a signal off peripheral, absurd characters on the D-list, hoping it might bounce off them and hit us in the retinas. I was saying I feel like Joan Rivers on the red carpet, digesting entertainment and shitting out celebrity caricatures. You’re supposed to want to be them, but you hate them or you don’t give a fuck, but you want to be something you’re not, or can’t have. Bobby Trendy and Joan and Melissa Rivers seemed like perfect personalities to channel that through. I think it plays as funny satire.

Can you envision a future in which expensive automobiles are no longer presented as chart-rap status symbols. Like due to sky-high gas prices, everyone's rhyming about tricked-out Vespas?

Sure, absolutely. Jay-Z has the Euro taking over for the dollar, why not the Vespas? The Cool Kids give bike culture a nod with “Black Mags,” which is almost as huge as “Throw Some D’s,” at this point and cooler all around in my book. That’s where I have to hope it’s all going. Nas is calling out Fox News on Stephen Colbert. I think everybody can look forward to big change for our culture. I am not into causes and such—no pictures of Mao for this dude—but a Hummer in a video is the same as Pyrex measuring cups in your inlay. It’s insult-to-injury. Our record seems a lot like an indictment in some spots—which could be construed as insult-to-injury, too—but I hope it’s not received as rubbing the problem in. All the information on TV Loves You Back is stuff I’m trying to make peace with as a person, and that I think we all have to make peace with as a society. And you know artists have to be feeling a little ridiculous with all the car shit by now. Big old Caddy and shelling out all that dough to fill it? That's starting to hurt; no matter who you are, it’s just dumb. Bikes, Vespas, all that is smaller, more agile and creative, that’s the shit I want to see.

Do you watch much television?

Yes, I watch a lot of TV. I try not to, but when I want to shut my mind off or get inspired by the media, TV is my go-to device. I watch Comedy Central a lot and E! I love The Office and 30 Rock, but don't get to see them much. My guiltiest pleasure might be Intervention, though. I was all about Shooting Sizemore, but I guess that got too fucked up to be on TV or something because it disappeared. Good TV exists, but bad TV is usually better. - RAYMOND CUMMINGS Friday, August 15th, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

MP3: Joan Didion on the 2008 Election

Worth a listen, and dryly eloquent as always. I hope she'll write more about our soon-to-be-former president and this election, and soon.

Friday, October 03, 2008


"How now, America?" - A Voguing to Danzig Real Talk Exclusive

As a voting public, the United States of America occasionally gets it right. We rightly crowned David Cook and Jordan Sparks as American Idols. Of course, we also elected George W. Bush to the presidency twice, though that could be disputed endlessly. Point is, we can be counted on to get the ballot-casting shit right - sometimes.

So, America, real talk, and please heed me here: fuck folksiness in politics when it masks a lack of basic competence. Fuck down-home, aw-shucks bullshit in politics when it's a smokescreen for idiocy. Fuck that. This is 2008. We're coming off of nightmarish eight years led by an imbecile president. Tick off the abominations with me: Hurricane Katrina, Iraq War, Plamegate, extraordinary renditions, violation of civil liberties, weak-sauce responses to the South Asian tsunami and any number of other international calamities, blown-off subpoenas, slashing of environmental regulations, Don Rumsfeld in general, Alberto Gonzales and U.S. attornies fired for political reasons, Swift-Boat tactics, blithely stolen elections, deficits ratcheted to alarm-bell levels, our present economic catastrope, and lots of other shit I'm forgetting right now because I'm tired and hungry and it's Friday afternoon.

Fuck folksiness. I'm sure that Sarah Palin is a good person, but she doesn't belong anywhere near the Ultimate Seat of Power; as far as I'm concerned, she's already too goddamn close. If you've been awake the last month or so and watched the vice presidential debate last night, you understand what I'm saying. John McCain's a dangerous enough potential chief executive, but were he elected in November, and were he to drop dead, we'd be in even more dire straits in Palin's hands. It shakes me to my core to realized that the possibilty - even the very hint of a possibility - exists that America might vote these lunatics in. Confidence is a trap. History backs that up. John Kerry had it locked up, we thought, in 2004; he won his debates. But the electorate bought it hook, line, and sinker.

Will the majority of registered, voting age Americans allow themselves to be conned again? Will underlying racism, "just-folks" pandering, and outright lies win the day and plunge us over the abyss? Let's head that likelihood off at the pass. Let's vote on Election Day. Let's make sure that every Democrat we know does the same. Let's donate. Let's light up the internet. Let's fight for truth, for justice, for a president who's on our side. I'm not going to turn this rant into a Barack Obama advert; that'll come in a week or two. But if you're buying the McCain/Palin maverick doctrine, and if you're buying their change rhetoric, there's no nice way to say that you're a sucker. Don't be a sucker.


HOLLIS HAWKINS - 7lbs, 14oz - arrived at 12:12pm on Oct 1, mother and baby are in good health

A bit late posting this! Congratulations to Thom and Linda for bringing American another foot soldier in the war on Communism! God knows, we need the manpower.


"The Friday Interview" is a new feature in which I interview someone I know - well or even just slightly well or maybe even not really well - about stuff via email, then post the interview here. The aim is to be informative, entertaining, and to further my goal of taking over the world or becoming rich and famous - whichever comes first. Enjoy!

Voguing to Danzig: We first met - in the non-physical sense of that phrase - back in 1997, when I sent Matador a zine slating that GBV/Cobra Verde album, and you sent me a promo for Helium's The Magic City. Then you left Matador to do promo for The Leaf Label, right?

Ben Goldberg: Yup. I worked at Matador from 1998-2004, then left to run the U.S. operations for The Leaf Label. Your zine was really funny, and our rules for sending promos to people were mostly based around if what we read made us laugh. So you easily got added to the list.

Tell me about how Ba Da Bing! came about. And I must admit - every time I see or think about that name I get a glowering mental image of Tony Soprano. You handle Leaf simultaneously, don't you?

Just for the record, I started the label in 1994, before The Sopranos (existed). I was a senior in college, and I formed a band with the main goal of being able to put out a 7" of my own music. After that, and doing a friend's band, I put together a compilation. I pretty much had the goal from the start to do a regular label. I had interned at Matador and was just excited to be around records and figuring out how they got made and marketed. And yeah, I oversee Leaf US operations, do Ba Da Bing, and manage a few bands - Beirut, Damon & Naomi, and Shearwater.

How'd you wind up signing the Dead C.?

Jon Dale did this great article on them in Signal To Noise a few years ago. In it, they said they didn't have anybody to release their new record. Through a friend, I sent them an email, and they replied saying they were planning on releasing the album themselves, but were giving thought to a retrospective release. I ended up doing that with them, and it went so well, they offered me their next release. Getting to work with a band like that, and getting to visit New Zealand and actually stay with them and meet their families....it's been a pretty mind-blowing year.

About how many releases does Ba Da Bing! put out annually?

Usually six to eight. I've done more and it's gotten hella busy. I've done less and have been twiddling my thumbs. Luckily, it seems to work out with the bands I work with that their timing on finishing up albums works into this frame nicely.

What kind of commitment is it - in terms of time, resources, money, etc. - to run your own record label? Does it ever seem untenable, especially given the scary state of the economy and illegal downloading?

It's so relatively cheap to put out records. Do it smart, and you really have a low rate of success you need to achieve. Like, to manufacture 1,000 CDs costs about $2,000 all in. So, I get back around $6 from my distributor for every album I sell, so I only need to sell 333.33 copies to break even. Not every record does that, mind you, but it's a lot easier to achieve when people are also using eMusic and iTunes and all that. I try to avoid extra costs - like I rarely advertise, I almost never hire out jobs that I can do myself, and I offer the bands a 50/50 profit split, so it's in their best interests for me to spend as little as possible up front. The economy is in a scary state right now, but luckily, music is cheap. People are going to keep going to the movies, and they're going to keep going to shows - albeit, maybe fewer - but when you're talking about buying a $10 CD or download, it's just not all that much compared to other forms of entertainment. And illegal downloading is inevitable and unavoidable. But it also helps, in that it spreads the word about your bands and lets people hear them. And, weirdly, whenever I've made a mp3 available for free to blogs and websites, it's always those tracks that end up being the most purchased on iTunes and eMusic. That's strange economic logic, but it tells me that the more people know about something, the more it will sell, even if a lot of those people are getting it for free. There's got to be somebody with an economic scale they can create of this somehow. I have no idea what it would look like. The only bummer of late has been how difficult it is to get coverage for bands. Beirut, Dead C, that's no problem, but for releases I've put out by bands which aren't either huge or hugely influential, and I find it harder than ever to get anybody to pay attention to them. I think there's a full-capacity point right now with bands people like to cover. Blogs/websites needed to get their own bands to write about, so while they would still cover Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth, they also adopted groups like Sufjan Stevens and Cold War Kids as being the bands unique to their presentation. Now, the canon of Bands You Must Cover has grown so large, new bands aren't getting written about as much as they used to be, just a couple years ago, because all the space is being taken up by the reigning kings and queens. I find it a bummer just as a music fan, since I'm hearing more new bands these days from friends and accidental MySpace discoveries than from websites I really enjoy reading. It could always be that I just have Old Man Taste at this point - that's actually extremely possible.

Artists on your label aside, what're some of your favorite bands, records, and genres? Are you a noise fan? I'm thinking of the CD sticker for Erudite, Vain, and Stupid, where you sort of make an entreaty to Dead C. newbies by throwing a couple noise heavies out there...

I've tried to put out anything that strikes my fancy, irregardless of music genre, but I still have yet to find (1) a metal band I like as much as Slayer, (2) an avant-pop band I like as much as Talk Talk (luckily, I get to work with Shearwater by managing them), (3) a Krautrock band I like as much as Can, or (4) a folk singer I like as much as Jackson C Frank. Luckily, I found a noise band I like as much as The Dead C (and, honestly, working with them has been a complete highlight of doing the label, on par with getting to work with Damon & Naomi. The 22 year old me would find the 35 year old me incredibly cool, and that's always been my main goal, to impress the younger me.

You used to be in a band yourself, right? Cash Money, maybe? I'm blanking on the name at the moment...

You're thinking of the estimable Scott Giampino who used to work at Touch & Go. Cash $$$ was a real band, mine was a band that put out a seven inch and played about four shows - Salteen. We did a killer Bedhead cover, though. That seven-inch was the first Ba Da Bing release, actually.

If you had it all to do over again, would you do it the same way?

Wow, never been asked this...Um...you know...yeah. I don't regret one record I've released. I like them all, and even if sometimes things have gotten dramatic with the bands involved, I always grew from the experience. And I hate those people who give advice to someone wanting to go into their business by saying, "Don't!" Nah, do. Form a label, put out records, do it ethically, smartly and work hard, and you'll be successful.


The entire transcript from the VP debate can be found here, but my favorite exchange is below. The difference between these two closing statements is striking, and telling.

IFILL: Gov. Palin, you get the chance to make the first closing statement.

PALIN: Well, again, Gwen, I do want to thank you and the commission. This is such an honor for me.

And I appreciate, too, Sen. Biden, getting to meet you, finally, also, and getting to debate with you. And I would like more opportunity for this.

I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they’ve just heard. I’d rather be able to just speak to the American people like we just did.

And it’s so important that the American people know of the choices that they have on November 4th.

I want to assure you that John McCain and I, we’re going to fight for America. We’re going to fight for the middle-class, average, everyday American family like mine.
I’ve been there. I know what the hurts are. I know what the challenges are. And, thank God, I know what the joys are, too, of living in America. We are so blessed. And I’ve always been proud to be an American. And so has John McCain.

We have to fight for our freedoms, also, economic and our national security freedoms.

It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.
We will fight for it, and there is only one man in this race who has really ever fought for you, and that’s Sen. John McCain.

IFILL: Thank you, Governor. Sen. Biden.

BIDEN: Gwen, thank you for doing this, and the commission, and Governor, it really was a pleasure getting to meet you.

Look, folks, this is the most important election you’ve ever voted in your entire life. No one can deny that the last eight years, we’ve been dug into a very deep hole here at home with regard to our economy, and abroad in terms of our credibility. And there’s a need for fundamental change in our economic philosophy, as well as our foreign policy.

And Barack Obama and I don’t measure progress toward that change based on whether or not we cut more regulations and how well CEOs are doing, or giving another $4 billion in tax breaks to the Exxon Mobils of the world.

We measure progress in America based on whether or not someone can pay their mortgage, whether or not they can send their kid to college, whether or not they’re able to, when they send their child, like we have abroad — or I’m about to, abroad — and John has as well, I might add — to fight, that they are the best equipped and they have everything they need. And when they come home, they’re guaranteed that they have the best health care and the best education possible.

You know, in the neighborhood I grew up in, it was all about dignity and respect. A neighborhood like most of you grew up in. And in that neighborhood, it was filled with women and men, mothers and fathers who taught their children if they believed in themselves, if they were honest, if they worked hard, if they loved their country, they could accomplish anything. We believed it, and we did.

That’s why Barack Obama and I are running, to re-establish that certitude in our neighborhoods.

Ladies and gentlemen, my dad used to have an expression. He’d say, “champ, when you get knocked down, get up.”

Well, it’s time for America to get up together. America’s ready, you’re ready, I’m ready, and Barack Obama is ready to be the next president of the United States of America.

May God bless all of you, and most of all, for both of us, selfishly, may God protect our troops.