Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blame it on the vodka, blame it on the Henny, blame it on today's Idol Beat: Matt is history, finally.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jamie Foxx is a killer "Rat Pack Week" American Idol mentor in today's Idol Beat.

Your World, Delivered


Need to have a mafia hitman snuff out some undesirables, no questions asked? There's an app for that.

Want to randomly taser yourself while excitedly texting friends during rush hour? There's an app for that.

Want to order a new pair of stunner shades, plus a back-up pair in case somebody breaks them while punching you out at the club because you're a douchebag? There's an app for that.

Knocked up and freaking out? There's an app for that.

Backstage at the CMAs, dick-in-a-box, well well well? There's an app for that.

Hip-hugger Wranglers riding up? There's an app for that.

Desperately need to download hip-hop albums that don't actually exist yet? There's an app for that.

Chinstrap + soulpatch + dreads combo played, but fresh outta Schicks? There's an app for that.

Wondering if there's a way to feed and nourish your body without actually ordering, preparing, or consuming foodstuffs? Dude, there's totally an app for that.

Are you a humanoid sloth - a character from Wall-E, essentially - who's so hopelessly lazy that you're unable to function without an overpriced handheld device that permits you to indulge your worst tendencies as less than a person? There's an app for that.

(Dedicated to Alecia, who started this meme last night)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

CD REVIEWS: PANIC RESEARCH AUDIO

From the latest issue of Signal-to-Noise Magazine:
Ca$h $lave Clique
White Prop$
(Panic Research Audio)

Rape Ape
Hello My Name Is Rape Ape
(Panic Research Audio)

Hearasay in Paradox Lust
A Lusty Lay
(Panic Research Audio)

Safe
Safe
(Panic Research Audio)

Lung Mountain
Sunset on Lung Mountain
(Panic Research Audio)

Tone Ghosting
Aktion in the Ruins
(Panic Research Audio)

Matt Weston + Tone Ghosting
Live at Sonic Circuits EP
(Panic Research Audio)

Festering mere miles from the legislative arena where our great nation's politicians pocket bribes, sip expensive cocktails, and leave gobs of slime on brass handrails, Panic Audio Research is one of the Virginia/Baltimore/D.C. area's least celebrated imprints. Judging by the latest crop of releases, label head Jeff Bagato leans toward the more experimental end of underground rock in his preferences, but one can hardly paint every cdr with the same brush.

White Prop$ finds Ca$h $lave Clique mining a vein somewhere between the rhythmic noise of studio-based Yellow Swans and the psychedelic pyrotechnics of live Yellow Swans: go-go drumbeats rattling at the bottom of the mix, cruise-liner turbine whorls of guitar feedback, sped-up chipmunk vocalisms, blubbering, desperate-for-Dramamine keyboards, and Clique only knows what else. At certain moments - particularly when the backbeat up and vanishes - the experience of listening to this record is comparable to being trapped on a spinning psychic tilt-a-whirl, caught in some sort of demonic vortex, or hopelessly drunk, randomly criss-crossing city streets during rush hour, angry motorists mashing horns and leaving rubber on the asphault while swerving to avoid you. John Simler is the Clique's singing/keyb-jamming half, but for solo jawns he prefers the sobrequet Rape Ape. A nasty string of improvisations - generated using "clip mic, thunder tube, and effects" - Hello My Name Is Rape Ape offers a smorgasboard of out aesthetics: atonal high-frequency whistles slicing through afterburner wrath, post-Oh Astro wavelength bounce, oil-set-to-boil simulations, squeaky-hinge meditations that descend into topsy-turvy, anti-matter nightmares.
Safe - and, by extension, Safe - are a far more sedentary proposition. Siren-like sound flickers, autoharp brushes, and granular stretches of synth simmer in a velvet-y, pregnant silence that recalls the considered circuit-bending alchemy of GOD. Slightly less aneseptic is Bagato's Tone Ghosting solo project, an improv-based melange consisting of, according to the liners, "hacksaw, vinyl, FX, voice, mic." This is - happily - vague to the point where it can mean anything in theory; on Aktion in the Ruins that equates to vast swathes of burrowing-weevil doom, glitch-y noise bursts and vocal perversions and sonic Tourette's jerks interspired with vaacum. But the Live at Sonic Circuits EP, Bagato's collabo with percussionist/electronics wrangler Matt Weston, is a different animal altogether. It's as though the pair were piloting golt carts through some vast warehouse space full of instruments, elephants, school chairs, and other random objects - in complete darkness. So sometimes there's nothing to hear, but at other moments the squeak of metal on linoleum rings out, or a cymbal of metal file cabinet tips over, or a beaded curtain is brushed, and on; their velocity is deliciously random, becoming mouthwatering when one or the other or both collide with a cluster of things, seeming to create a domino effect writ-large. How much more delectable might this project have been, I wonder, had Bagato and Weston crashed head-on more often?

Hearasay in Paradox Lust and Lung Mountain come off as the odd-men out in this equation: the former turning in what seem to be chopped-up collages of chamber music, Ren Faire performances, fairy-tales, and so on, a themed concept that wears out its Middle Ages welcome with a swiftness that's almost breathtaking; the latter indulging in some longwinded New Weird Americana/sub-Sonic Youth chicanery involving theremins, guitars, and - honest-to-blog - a pot lid gong tree, which Lung player Sal Amoniac ought to exploit in some solo form, like, stat.
Scratch Lil and Anoop off the list: today's Idol Beat.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The pain, when will it end? Today's Idol Beat.

ON THE MARKET: "Assembling the Lord"




My first book! On sale here! For real!
What some people thought:
"Verse by Raymond Cummings will always be a pleasure to read. Assembling The Lord goes from styles of formal verse to a more jazz-cadence free form and back again on more than one level. To read through it one catches a glimpse of the amazing mind of Mr. Cummings. Read it and enjoy it!"
- David Drell, Baltimore Tattoo Museum curator
"When I read Ray's poems, it feels like the words are firing into my brain like bullets. His simplest phrases - "plucked cars, blown up dandelions" - pack such a punch, but his ideas and images stay sharp whether crammed into two-syllable bursts or stretched into spilling rhythms. Take these poems like pills, wear a flak jacket too - you'll be surprised by how much shrapnel can result from such quick, efficient verse."
- Marc Masters, author of No Wave
"I hate poetry. I didn't hate this. Are you sure this is poetry?"
- Al Shipley, music writer

Friday, April 17, 2009

GOOSEBUMPY SONGS FROM EVERY YEAR I'VE BEEN ALIVE

1977: The Ramones "I Wanna Be Well"
1978: Joe Walsh "Life's Been Good"
1979: Blondie "Heart of Glass"
1980: Diana Ross "I'm Coming Out"


1981: Joey Scarbury "Theme From 'Greatest American Hero'"
1982: Laura Branigan "Gloria"
1983: Billy Joel "Uptown Girl"
1984: Wham! "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go"
1985: Stevie Wonder "Overjoyed"
1986: Genesis "Invisible Touch"
1987: Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam "Lost in Emotion"
1988: Terrence Trent D'Arby "Sign Your Name"
1989: The B-52's "Deadbeat Club"
1990: Sinead O'Connor "Nothing Compares 2 U"


1991: Shanice "I Love Your Smile"
1992: DAS EFX "They Want EFX"
1993: PJ Harvey "Rid of Me"
1994: Weezer "No-One Else"
1995: The Smashing Pumpkins "Zero"
1996: The Bloodhound Gang "Your Only Friends Are Make Believe"
1997: Yo La Tengo "Stockholm Syndrome"
1998: Liz Phair "Johnny Feelgood"
1999: Eminem "Role Model"
2000: Green Day "Fashion Victim"


2001: The Moldy Peaches "Nothing Came Out"
2002: Kimya Dawson "Hold My Hand"
2003: The Strokes "12:51"
2004: Stereolab "Sudden Stars"
2005: Gorillaz feat. De La Soul "Feel Good Inc."
2006: Clipse "Dirty Money"
2007: Deerhunter "Octet"
2008: Scott Weiland "Paralysis"
2009: The Thermals "I Let It Go"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CD REVIEW: MIMS

From today’s Clevescene:

MIMS
Guilt
(Capitol/American King)

"Now there's a whole museum of Hov MCers/Everybody's dupin' the flow," Jay-Z bragged on "The Bounce," a cut from 2002's The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse. Little did he know the museum wouldn't be shutting down anytime soon. A few years later, rapper/producer Shawn "MIMS" Mims would make the scene with "This Is Why I'm Hot," an ephemeral, hopscotching-through-various-rap-production-styles single; the accompanying album, Music Is My Savior, was essentially Jay-Z lite. Jay-Z and MIMS are both N.Y.C. natives; there's a possibility that the similarities in their rapping styles are purely geographical. But while a more confident artist might have done everything in his power to distinguish himself from Biggie Smalls' spiritual heir, MIMS seems hell-bent on turning himself into Jigga's creased carbon copy.

The flattery-by-imitation continues unabated on Guilt, where MIMS presents himself as a hardened gangsta. First single "Move (If You Wanna)," built on a distorted sample looped and re-looped on itself, finds our protagonist flaunting shopworn clich├ęs to establish his dominance and ad libbing his name: "Love Rollercoaster" is a thematic retread of Pharrell and Kanye West's "Number One" — itself a rewiring of too many my-girl's-lonely-because-I'm-out-hustling b-sides to list here — peppered with "ah-ah-alrights" stolen from Jay-Z's American Gangster. The rest — from "On and On" to "Makin' Money" — is similarly bland filler, which is saying something. If we were still living in the pre-file-sharing era, Guilt might serve to tide over those awaiting this summer's Blueprint 3 release — except that we aren't.
On the QT: today's Idol Beat.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Scott's over and out in today's Idol Beat.

CD REVIEW FEATURE: Black Dice, I.U.D., Odd Nosdam

From today's Orlando Weekly:

Black Dice
Repo
(Paw Tracks)

I.U.D.
The Proper Sex
(The Social Registry)

Odd Nosdam
T.I.M.E. Soundtrack
(Anticon)

Experimental music’s dirty little secret is that there’s usually an underlying sense of consistency to the genre’s byproducts, a logic that renders, say, Prurient, Jason Crumer or Yellow Tears palatable. Listen to enough Wolf Eyes – even the free-form live stuff – and the Michigan trio’s malice begins to register.

From cover art to song titles to songcraft, Brooklyn’s Black Dice don’t disguise their mission: the wholesale destruction of music as something comprehensible. In its earliest incarnation, the group reveled in post-hardcore, performing shows as confrontational and dangerous as the extreme tunes they were peddling. Subsequent output – from 2002’s Beaches & Canyons to 2007’s Load Blown – has proved equally awkward to embrace, if for different reasons, as Bjorn Copeland, Eric Copeland and Aaron Warren began distorting instrumental and sampled sounds into disorientingly alien algorithms. The title of Broken Ear Record, Black Dice’s 2005 LP, says it plainly.

On its face, Repo isn’t a drastic departure from Black Dice’s standard indigestible roughage; again, they sadistically distend, warp and loop disparate scraps of melody into nuclear-mutant IDM. The key difference, however, is that the trio seems more willing than ever to show its hand and give lip service to traditional notions of song structure, suggesting that Eric Copeland’s surprisingly coherent solo records (2007’s Hermaphrodite and 2008’s Alien in a Garbage Dump) weren’t red herrings. Something like “Ultra Vomit Craze” – with its trashy drums, sax toots and porn-grotto guitars – wouldn’t have made sense on Creature Comforts, for example, even given the way-off-in-the-damned-distance yelling mixed in as a vocal track. Ditto for the vertigo-inducing slide-guitar collage “Vegetable,” which, for all the seams- visible tinkering that went into its liquidy generation, registers as something relatively organic. “Earnings Plus Interest” blends cyborg beatboxing and spronged synths into sterile drum kit workouts, resulting in a rhythmic trampoline effect that’s more intriguing than room-clearing. Even 20-second interlude “Whirligig” makes no effort to disguise its trippy patchwork of random (yet oddly congruous) samples. Could anti-music’s bad boys finally be growing up?

I.U.D., the willfully contentious side project of Growing drummer Sadie Laska and Gang Gang Dance singer Lizzi Bougatsos, comes on even meaner, swinging wildly with spiked brass knuckles on debut The Proper Sex. This duo unleashes a maelstrom of fuck-men industrial-noise barbarism: Bougatsos’ usually demure ululations are replaced by growled expressions of rage and treated as ad-libbed samples in the mix. Witness the me-Jane rack-tightening of “Monk Hammer,” where swirling, spooky coos swell into a Category 5 hurricane, the rampantly monotonous siren-charge of “911,” or how the component parts of “Mary Unmargaret” splinter and crack like a psyche coming unglued, time signatures be damned.

Sex is rough, unyielding stuff, like Rammstein without discipline or killer hooks; it’s almost as if this is Bougatsos’ and Laska’s way of lashing out at the otherwise-comprised-of-dudes groups they usually tour and record with.

Over the past few years, Oakland’s Anticon label has evolved from a backpacker-rap bastion into a genre free-for-all, to the extent that slotting its output in one style or another is next to impossible; see Why?, Passage, Sole and Tobacco, for instance. Producer-mixer Odd Nosdam, aka David Madson, is among this crew’s best and brightest, his voluminous catalog of instrumentals climaxing with 2007’s underappreciated Level Live Wires, a brilliantly immersive melange of caramelized samples and darkwave hip-hop murk. The T.I.M.E. Soundtrack, which Madson created for the Element Skateboards video of the same name, finds him kicking his game up a few notches. It’s a lot like listening to 30 minutes of sonic Slinky slinging, or Tortoise side project A Grape Dope: There are chill drumbeats cut with DJ scratches propelling lulling dub scales (“Zone Coaster”), Knight Rider–theme biting click-clack (“Trunk Bomb”), winding folk grandeur pitch-shifted into all-out bliss (“Root Bark”) and more besides. T.I.M.E. is Zen in a way previous Odd Nosdam releases haven’t been, while demonstrating an astounding compositional agility. This guy can do whatever he wants to do.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Oh, Trent - you rascal, you.

CD REVIEW: (A)SPERA

From today's Clevescene:

Mirah
(A)spera
(K)

Even as far back as 2000's You Think It's Like This But It's Really Like This, singer-songwriter Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn seemed wise and poised beyond her years - a cool-customer Eternal roaming among us in the form of a very young woman. Five years have passes since 2004's C'mon, Miracle; during that in-the-wilderness half-decade, Mirah issued a two-disc remix collection, a greatest hits comp, and a collaborative record - with instrumental outfit Spectratone International - about, well, insects.

With (A)spera, this sultry siren - whose voice is as smooth and soothing as a Mississippi River stone - finally takes on a solo record that's as under-control and composed as she is. This might be a matter of maturity on the parts of Mirah and longtime producer Phil Elverum, who was behind the boards for three songs here; their earlier efforts tended to be as wildly schizophenic as they were compelling. (A)spera, on the other hand, somehow manages to hopscotch genres without rocking the boat: the wan, country & western lilt of "Education," the Sergio Mendes lite of "Country of the Future," and a meandering folk footpath like "The River" all co-exist comfortably together under one impeccably stitched umbrella.

INTERVIEW: BEACH HOUSE

While Baltimore's reputation as a hotbed of murder, mayhem, and drug-slinging precedes it, Beach House are doing their best to carve out a calming psychic/sonic space amidst the urban grit and chaos. Formed in 2005, the duo of vocalist/organist Victoria Legrand and guitarist/keyboard player Alex Scally reside and record within the crumbling city's limits, making languidly sloshy dream-pop that feels luxuriously effortless. Beach House, released in 2006 and last year's Devotion (both on Carpark) come across as distinctly a prioriti, as if Scally and Legrand hadn't polished these gems but simply tapped into and exploited the fluorescent runoff from some cosmic underground wellspring.

Legrand's rich, husky voice – think Nico, without all the smack – and gradualist cadences were beguiling enough on Beach House's debut, but Devotion kicked the band into higher gear. To be sure, the duo hadn't altered its core tactics: lobotomized organs and guitars coasted along on stoned cruise-control, rattles and tambourines jangled blithely on occasion, and Legrand eked out dreamy relationship complaints and concerns as though on the verge of passing out on some opium-den couch. Yet Devotion felt slightly less passive, less drift-like in execution, more assertive: Legrand meant it, pushing up on figurative elbows to set her voice above the unmoored fray, while the slo-mo drums hit harder and the woozy-snoozy melodies popped in the mix. For all its Sergio Morrocine overtones, "Gila" lives and dies on a sweet, loop-de-loop keyboard hook - not to mention Legrand's stretched, unsexualized "oh-oh-oh-oh" refrain. On "Wedding Bell," Alex Scally's ax figures register as dull buzz-saw roars as Legrand uncoils kalediscopic organ spools, drops. light-globule keybs, and comes across as, well, happy. Creamy, reverb-soaked organ-balm "D.A.R.L.I.N.G." even deigns to ramp the Beach House pace up to a weak trot and indulge in a multi-tracked chorus that spells out the song's title.

In mid-February, Legrand took time out from rehearsals to answer some questions about touring, bodies of water, and life in Baltimore.

Voguing to Danzig: Where are you right now, and what are you up to?

Victoria Legrand: We're in Baltimore and we’re writing new songs. Also resting.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: How did Beach House come about as a project? Did you know each other long before you started playing together?

VL: We'd known each other for not even a year when Beach House started. We were playing music already together, and then Beach House started when Alex and I just kept playing with each other. We'd go out, then go back to his place, and write music. Or anytime of day, really. We were pretty obsessed.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: "Beach house" strikes me as an especially apt name for your band, as your albums have a sort of languid, relaxed vibe to them. What drew you to the name?

VL: We were searching for a universe where the music could exist. The words kind of fell out and landed and fit nicely.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: What's your songwriting process like? Do you each bring songs to the other fully formed, or is it more of a matter of fleshing arrangements out together?

VL: Very rarely does someone bring a song fully formed to the table. Of late, Alex and I have both been coming up with bits and pieces. The previous records were written pretty similarly. I would bring chords and melodies to songs, and anything we needed to make happen we made it happen together. We work on the fleshing together all the time, and always have.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: Who do you consider some musical influences? I hear a lot of Velvet Underground, Nico, and Sugar Plant - who were a 90s shoegaze-pop band - in your sound.

VL: We admire the Velvet Underground. There is a lot of music that we love, but not one particular artist that has influenced us. We love it all.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: There's a D.I.Y. coziness and intimacy to your album sleeve covers. Do you design those yourselves?

VL: We discuss concepts together. I personally have enjoyed coming up with the cover concepts, like the jewels in the first album, and the altar scenario in Devotion's artwork. We believe in doing the album art ourselves because then its most faithful to the music.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: What's been your favorite Beach House touring experience so far?

VL: We've had several. We've had great short tours with Grizzly Bear, extremely sweet gentlemen. We've toured with the Papercuts, the Clientele, the Fleet Foxes, the Walkmen. They've all had their unique amazing moments.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: Do you find Baltimore to be an especially inspiring city, in terms of the surroundings and the musical scene? Do you have any favorite hometown bands?

VL: The city itself is complicated. It's both terrifying and sheltering. The artistic environment is supportive and plentiful. Personal favorites: Celebration, Video Hippos, Adventure. The list goes on and on!

VOGUING TO DANZIG: Are there any immediate plans for a longer tour, or a third full-length?

VL: No immediate plans for a longer tour, Just snippets here and there. There will definitely be a third full-length. I think we are very excited about making new music. We still enjoy working together after all the time we've spent together. That's weird! Just kidding.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: Do you two like to swim? I ask that question - and it's sort of an odd one, I know - because your songs make me think of bouys or driftwood bobbing and dipping in some warm ocean current. I always imagine the pair of you spending time in a hot tub or a hot spring, then retiring to the studio to record something new and langorous.

VL: I love water. All kinds, swimming pools: reservoirs. We both like bodies of water, yes. I think that would be an ultimate fantasy: a hot spring then retiring to make some more music. Could you arrange that for us? That would be excellent.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: Of all the Beach House songs you've written, which one means the most to you, and why?

VL: "Apple Orchard" will always be an important song for me. It almost signifies the beginning. There is a lot of emotion in that song for me. But each song means the most, in a way.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: Has the faltering economy had any impact on your tour plans?

VL: Well, gas has been a lot cheaper. Other than that, when we're in the van, it's all shag carpets, caviar, and Cristal.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: If you were mandated, by law, to attach a warning label to your albums, how would it read? I mean that in the sense of "this product could cause cancer" for cigarettes or "please enjoy responsibility" for alcohol?

VL: Warning: Babies might like us.

VOGUING TO DANZIG: What's the first thing you like to do upon returning home from a long, grueling tour?

VL: Throw my clothes and suitcase somewhere it will then stay for much longer than it should until I realize that I never unpacked my belongings because the tour has officially overloaded my brain stem.
The gig's up for Anoop in today's Idol Beat.

TV LOVES YOU BACK MARCH: The End Game

We had fun, didn't we? We babbled about gadgets, peered unflinchingly at the minutae of sit-coms, geeked out over sci-fi. We scored some comments. We wasted a lot of time when we should've been doing actual work for money or doing productive things.

And now it's over. Owing to a lack of time and a dearth of other projects and deadlines, I didn't write about half of the things I wanted to write about. But I'll get to those things - Kath & Kim, ER, reality TV - sometime soon, if not under the hallowed TV LOVES YOU BACK MARCH rubric.

Anyway, I want to thank everybody who chipped in: Doug Mowbray, Brandon Soderberg, Zak Early, Sanjeevani Wijenaike Silva, Linda Hawkins, Alex Strama, Kevin Hoffman, and especially Thom Hawkins, the undisputed MVP of this whole enterprise. I'll be in touch generally - ya'll know that - but also specifically sometime this summer for the next, weeklong project.