The group, Blue Cheer, were a long-haired biker band from San Francisco active in the late '60s/early '70s. Y'all Slog Outers not in the know—these guys are mostly remembered for their Top-20 version of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues." Also, they were named after a favorite a brand of LSD!!
"Come And Get It" was off their second LP, Outsideinside, an LP which, for me, rates slightly more than their first LP, Vincebus Eruptum. And, YES, I know my preferring Outsideinside over their unfuckwithable first LP is a slightly sacrilegious record nerd statement if there ever was one.
Before he became co-owner of Sub Pop Records with Jonathan Poneman in 1986 (and a bit after), Bruce Pavitt was a prolific music critic/essayist, with a special focus on the Northwest. During the ’80s, he published nine issues of the Subterranean Pop zine and for six years wrote a monthly column for Seattle’s Rocket newspaper, displaying an impressive diversity of coverage. Pavitt’s writing from this time is being collected in a book titled Sub Pop USA: The Subterranean Pop Music Anthology 1980-1988 (out Nov. 15 via Bazillion Points Press). Fantagraphics Bookstore will host a release party Sat. Nov. 29 with music by K Records’ Calvin Johnson and Larry Reid, both of whom wrote essays for Pavitt’s book.
Below, Pavitt answers a few questions about that era and his critical role in the music scene.
Were there any things you wrote in Sub Pop USA that you think made you feel like a seer?
Pavitt: May I humbly suggest that the book is the broadest and deepest index of '80s indie music available, with over 1000 artists of all genres referenced. Perhaps because I was so focused on digging up the latest US regional recordings, I was able to call it on a number of artists before they established their iconic status in the indie community (Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Run DMC, Beat Happening, Hüsker Dü, Replacements, Beastie Boys, Dinosaur Jr, Minor Threat, Pussy Galore, Butthole Surfers, etc.)… Could I accurately be referred to as a prophet? Only false humility would claim otherwise.
Did you publish anything in Sub Pop USA that you really regret now? Like a farcically wrong prediction or a rave review of a record or band you hate now?
Is there anything that wrote in Sub Pop USA that I regret? Yes. Although I thought Darby Crash of the Germs was a brilliant writer and gave the Germs' album a rave review, I colorfully referred to him as a “homo.” That was a gratuitous provocation and an example of immature punk-rock sensationalism. Other than that, the book is a visionary masterpiece without any embarrassing miscalls.
Do you think ’80s indie music is inherently more interesting and exciting than today’s indie music?
Some of the '80s indie music holds up, some of it doesn’t. I do feel that the DIY culture of the '80s helped nurture some very pioneering and heroic personalities, who were drawn to the flea-ravaged punk-rock house circuit because they craved art and adventure over security. The new DIY artist of this generation has many more financial opportunities than the '80s artist, especially when it comes to licensing.
By the same token, how do you view Sub Pop Records' '80s roster compared to this decade's?
As for Sub Pop, the '80s artists were all part of a local, tribal Seattle community that liked to rock (on their own terms). Strong beer, crowd surfing, and a sense of humor was what kept the scene together. Obviously, the current Sub Pop roster is less focused and much more diverse (which is actually more of a reflection of the early zines and tapes).
Tonight, PBS continues its Great Performances series with Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live!, in which the smooth old singer and the flamboyant young singer team up to tackle selections from the great American songbook. ("Anything Goes," "Lush Life," etc.) Bonus for burlesque fans: Dancing onstage during one of Bennett and Gaga's numbers will be Seattle's much-loved burlesque duo of Lou Henry Hoover and Kitten LaRue. Check out the Seattle broadcast tonight at 10:30 pm on KCTS 9, and check out a teaser clip below, in which Lady Gaga does something her self-appointed rival Madonna hasn't done in 30 years of trying: sing live, impressively.
(Also, I don't care if, in Gaga's case, it involves a ridicu-wig—there are few things more striking than a known-as-a-blonde Italian-American woman going back to brunette.)
Another huge theft of a Northwest musician's gear took place this week. The Port Angeles storage unit of Mike Kunka (former bassist in the great and super-heavy Kill Rock Stars/Sub Pop band godheadSilo, as well as Enemymine, Dead Low Tide, and Smoke and Smoke) was ransacked and he lost a reported $20,000 of equipment and master tapes (see Kunka's list below). In addition, thieves stole his and his wife's record collection and a Christmas tree.
Slog tipper Kerri said, "Thieves broke into a vacant unit next door to [Kunka's], ripped out a section of the wall, jammed the door shut, and loaded everything out through the vacant unit. There was no indication from the exterior that they had been robbed. So, you can imagine his shock when he opened the storage unit." According to Kerri, the storage unit, on Tumwater Truck Route, has no security camera system, but the suspect(s) left a time-stamped Safeway receipt that included a Club Card number, and police are viewing Safeway's video for clues.
Slog readers: If you have any further tips, please let us know.
Here is a partial list of the missing gear. Still trying to wrap my head around this.
Black fender jazz bass made in japan
White fender mustang bass beat to shit (godheadSilo)
White fender mustang bass with bass synth insides and extra guitar strings (smoke and smoke)
Black fender mustang/bronco bass with tremolo (godheadSilo)
Natural 8-string Kramer bass with aluminum neck (enemymine, dead low tide)
Acoustic/electric tenor guitar gold neck and body
2 silver Roland bass synth floor modules
1 brown Roland bass synth floor module
Garnet pa mixer
Garnet bto head (godheadSilo)
Garnet pro head
Garnet pro 200 head
Garnet stinger head and cabinet with horn
Sunn concert lead that Buzz used on the first 2 Melvins records (broken mid range knob)
2 custom white and tweed soldano cabinets (enemymine and later)
Peda-band one man band machine floor control and synth brain (possibly the only one in existence) home built in the 1970’s
Master tapes of pretty much every record from 1990-2000
Plus countless personal items including our record collection, our daughter’s toys, and most of my clothes.
I have no photos of anything. Any photos of me playing these instruments were also stolen. If you have photos please attach to your re-post. I don’t want to see them, it’s still too much. Thanks everybody.
Electronic music heads are kicking up a lot of internet dust and digital froth over the release of Berlin producer Objekt's just-released debut album Flatland. With good reason: it's a sleek, laser-guided torpedo of a thing, with sonic design that borrows ideas from a host of major names through electronic music history, while maintaining a distinctively original, forward-thinking thrust throughout.
The hi-resolution, almost clinical futurism animating Objekt's sound reminds one of this underheard banger from 2011 by the UK's Tom Rockwell. "Aria"'s central rhythm track sounds as if it's been surgically reconstructed from about four different breakbeats, jittering along like a bullet train on bad tracks, snare rolls akimbo, stuttering every four bars as if it's struggling for breath. Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser, dance music's ethereal siren du jour, contributes eerily disembodied coos (via sample, natch), adding an unexpected but welcome touch of dawn-break solemnity and grace to this frenetic neo-drum 'n' bass workout. Who says club music can't have a brain?
I wrote about a short Line Out entry regarding matrix messages last year called The Message of the Matrix. It was a fun bit nodding to the silly messages some groups scratched into the dead wax of their records, but today's post has to do with what the official matrix numbers mean, so IF YOU DARE, dig this (kinda dense) page dedicated to how one should decode major-label matrix numbers. [Editor's note: "Dense" is an understatement.]
Most likely if you passively buy records, these numbers don't mean shit to you—however, to heavy collectors the numbers can mean a lot (of money). Deep collectors and audiophiles pay close attention to the matrix numbers as they're often the key to knowing which plate or stamper any given LP was cast from. Like, if you want a guaranteed FIRST PRESS of, say, Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the matrix will tell you whether your copy was pulled from the first, fifth, or ninth stamper plate. Also, it's hoped the closer you get to the first stamper, the better the album will sound, or at least how the band/engineer/whoever wanted it to sound. Too, knowing how to read the numbers can help uncover bootleg/pirate copies and suss out the occasional different/withdrawn mix.
There are also the handful of collectors/historians who use these numbers as a way to track down locations of pressing plants or sort out the dates when certain records were pressed. Those matrix numbers help flesh out the story of unknown garage and soul/funk groups from the '60s and '70s as many of those groups, if they pressed their singles privately, didn't leave any other trail. SHEESH! Had enough, non-nerds? OKAY, I'll stop there, BUT those are some of the big reasons matrix numbers are important to some folks, like me.
On any given day, plowing through my inbox(es) feels sort of like being Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone—looking for jewels, ducking Danny DeVitos, machete-hacking through the underbrush (not the same underbrush, mind you, that Michael Douglas says gave him mouth cancer). Uh, that is to say, it can be overwhelming. Luckily, technology helps manage it, though. (I probably forgot to mention this, but earlier this year, when I got my flu shot, I somehow agreed to an experimental Google Glass ocular/cochlear implant package—I wouldn't recommend it.) Still, there's the publicists calling me Sam, "circling back" about artists I haven't expressed any interest in whatsoever. There's the increasingly shrill, panicked e-mails from the Democrats—though I haven't gotten one from Big Joe Biden about his rail-tootin' ex-navy son. (He's probably just proud that his boy has a chance at being president now.) And the increasingly panicked e-mails from my editors. Just kidding. (Sorry, y'all.)
Likewise, it seems like everything in my feed—my overwhelming, trifling-ass social-media feed—all has an equal measure of importance and urgency. There's the extravagant Ebola angle that the WCW, WWF, CDC, or whoever is pushing at me, perhaps stretching credulity a bit far. (Maybe I'm too old to be watching this shit.) There's our first lady chair-dancing with a turnip for Vine—mortifying her kids, I'm sure. (Probably a few kids out there who wish those drones were just dropping turnips, too.) There's the so-called beef (now "squashed") between Snoop Dogg and Iggy Azalea...
Because, hey, it's a very Northwest-y day and people are still pretty excited about the fact that the band announced a reunion—a new album and tour—this past Monday. I've always loved their late 90's stuff. What's your favorite SK song?
I discussed this full-length in an earlier Slog post and will be reviewing it properly in a future issue of The Stranger. DJAO is a beautiful, chill electronic work, both ethereal and earthy, informed by ambient, bass music, R&B, jazz, and footwork, and inflated with Cascadia soulfulness.
SETH TROXLER'S HEADY AND SEXY TECHNO
London-via-Detroit-via-Kalamazoo producer/DJ Seth Troxler has developed into one of techno's great eccentrics. Take his press bio, for instance, which is a crazy assemblage of outlandish statements like "Seth draws the majority of his inspiration from Robert Downey Jr., and the idea of releasing the shackles that bind Downey so he can finally do heroin in peace." Aha. But Troxler's proclivity for wacky self-mythologizing don't hinder his ability to create late-night techno cuts of cerebral and sensual exquisiteness. His releases for esteemed labels like Circus Company, Wagon Repair, and Spectral Sound reveal the twisted quirkiness of Troxler's personality while maintaining dance-floor functionality—no mean feat. Not that long ago, those scientific arbiters of electronic music at Resident Advisor rated Seth the world's third-best DJ after Ricardo Villalobos and Richie Hawtin, so Mr. Troxler is a serious double threat in the club. (He also runs the Visionquest and Soft Touch labels, so triple threat, actually.) With Nordic Soul, Kyle Winters, and Xan Lucero. Q Nightclub, 9 pm, $12 adv, 21+...
…because I woke up singing the chorus in my head. So simple! So catchy! Turns out drums are overrated!
Girlpool are an LA duo who have been growing on me for a while now—I recently saw them live in California and it was killer; standing side by side and owning the stage, as loud and riveting as the average three- or four-person band, minus the percussion.
They have an album coming out next month via Witchita Recordings and will be touring a lot this month and the next, even doing a few dates with Jenny Lewis.
Following up yesterday’s Song of the Day post on 6ix’s “I’m Just Like You,” today we have an interview with Alec Palao, the man who wrote liner notes for Light in the Attic’s compilation I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-1970 (available now on CD and MP3; out Nov. 4 on 2XLP), which includes that cut and 17 others from the short-lived imprint. Palao serves as the West Coast music consultant for the British label Ace and is also a journalist and musician who’s played for the Sneetches, the Magic Christian, and many other bands.
For Ace Records, Palao compiled and wrote liner notes for 2009's Listen to the Voices: Sly Stone in the Studio 1965-1970. The LITA comp differs from the previous one with 10 previously unreleased archival tracks by Sly Stone during that fertile period between 1969’s Stand! and 1971’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On. Sly wrote, produced, and arranged everything on Stone Flower, and it proved to be a pivotal phase where he scaled back the orchestral turbulence of previous Family Stone records and crafted more interior but just as intense and even more funky and seductive songs, with help from the Maestro Rhythm King drum machine. Below is a Q&A conducted with Palao via email.
You scored a rare interview with Sly Stone for I’m Just Like You. Did you have any revelations or hear any unusual/fascinating anecdotes when speaking to Sly? How is he doing these days? Does his mind seem sharp?
Actually the interview done for this current project is my second time talking on record with Sly. In 2009 I spent several days with him, and got a lot of information, specifically for [Listen to the Voices]. For I’m Just Like You, we conducted an additional interview early this year where I asked him more specifics on the Stone Flower era. But in both cases my focus was, unlike 90 percent of the prurient articles about him of recent times, squarely upon his music and its inspiration and creation.
Despite having lived in a kind of alternate universe since the late 1970s, Sly Stone is as funny, personable and sharp as he always has been. He could easily host his own talk show and is always quick with an aphorism or a studied observation. Despite being a recluse, he is still very aware of what is going on in the world (and doesn’t seem to be too impressed with the current state of black music). He also remains very active making music and continually creative. In 2009, in-between our chats, I ran some errands for him, which included buying him a tracksuit—yes, I styled Sly Stone—and this year I took a ride with him to the pawn shop to get his computer out of hock, and that was an eye-opener. Sly, whose love of motor vehicles is well-known, is somewhat of a leadfoot!
Would it be accurate to say Sly was using these Stone Flower sides to transition into a new phase for the Family Stone?
Absolutely. I feel while Sly had not exhausted any of his musical or creative ideas, he was moving away from big arrangements and more complicated productions. It might have had something to do with the fact his “simpler” music—i.e., the big hits like "Everyday People"—were those that made their mark. Also, he was becoming more insular and that was reflected in the reputation for no-shows or tardiness at gigs. He preferred—and he still prefers—to be left alone to make his music. Moving to LA, where he could truly sequester in the studio, and the discovery of the Rhythm King drum machine, were major factors. The gritty sound of the Stone Flower sides and subsequently Riot were almost an inverse reaction to the well-produced Family Stone recordings.
What’s the story with the previously unreleased Sly tracks?
They are amongst a cache of Stone Flower recordings that have long been discussed amongst fans, as the titles were first mentioned in Michel Ruppli’s famous Atlantic Records discographies. The tracks were delivered to Atlantic, who were distributing Stone Flower at the time, possibly as a contractual necessity, but in many cases they are just experimental recordings, or demos; not releasable at that time, but of course in hindsight useful to help join the dots in Sly’s musical metamorphosis. What I included in the CD are those I felt the most illuminating, particularly the demo of "Just Like A Baby" with Freddie Stone singing. Most of what remains in the vault are simply drum machine tracks with an occasional bass or keyboard lick.
The quality of Stone Flower’s releases is unbelievably high. Why do you think the singles have remained so obscure over the years, except to obsessive collectors? I don’t recall ever hearing these songs on the radio while growing up in the Detroit area (I was 8 in 1970 and listening to a lot of radio then), not even Little Sister’s “You’re the One.” Were they mainly popular in the California/Bay Area?
The Bay Area was always a stronghold for Sly & The Family Stone, that is true. But the singles got airplay around the country, mostly pop, because R&B radio was still pretty resistant to change—and the drum machine would have definitely been an oddity at the time. Don’t forget that after "You’re The One" was successful, there was a lengthy gap of almost a year before the other three Stone Flower label singles were released. Sly’s musical shift occurred mainly during that time and I think the fact that he owed a new album to Epic meant that he had to sideline any further production work.
Why did Stone Flower end after only four releases?
Stone Flower the label ended for various reasons—the aforementioned delay of what would become Riot, the fragmentation of the original Family Stone band, and perhaps most importantly, the disengagement of Sly’s partner in the label and production company, David Kapralik, who resigned as the Family Stone’s manager in 1971.
This short documentary, Nobody Loves Joel Romeo, tells the story of Mr. Joel Romeo, or at least what the locals have learned of Joel Romeo. If you've ever been to Ballard and walked down Market Street you've most likely seen him—he's a little feller who wears safety frame specs and sometimes hollers.
When I lived in Ballard I would always find him digging through the records and CDs at Sonic Boom. I never had time to hang out with him, so it's nice to see what he does otherwise and that he is very well loved. Joel has a Facebook page, Joel-Romeo and His Posse, AND his art has a Tumblr!
Sounds on the album are shepherded along by Moore’s experimental wisdom. Crystalline noise and alternate tunings run with deviant, fulsome 12-string compositions. The title track pivots out with stabbing guitar over an inverted blues riff. Moore’s vocals have a casual ardor, then he lights into a not-so-casual guitar solo. Mr. Moore spoke Sunday from New York. We also spoke before his Seattle show at Neumos on October 4. He was quite at ease.
The seven parts of this interview are as follows:
I. John the Baptist, No Jesus?
II. Brian Eno, the Book on Lyric Writing, Reality of Death
III. Thurston’s Mother, Preternatural Core of Happiness
IV. Mimeogasm, Exploding a Mime, Anarchists
V. The Whole Thing About Being Experimental
VI. Quadruple Album, Not Such a Hot Idea
VII. I Know This Bass Player, She’s in a Band Called My Bloody Valentine
In the song “The Best Day” you sing, “John the Baptist in his view/He’s gonna wanna know the dirty truth.” What’s happening there? We’re not going to talk about Jesus are we?
Thurston Moore: That kind of lyric is directly associated with my interest in religious iconography—what it references and what that represents historically. And our relationship to the physical world, and the metaphysical world. I like playing with those things. That line just happened. When I write lyrics I have this process where it’s all about wanting to use language the same way I use music. You just gotta put pen to paper and start writing without having to have a definite idea of what you’re going to write about. Sometimes a title can exist first and it can inspire you into some kind of subject or idea. Generally, I just trust the act of writing when words start moving.
From the very beginning of her career—the “Dress” single for Brits, the Dry album (with its stark, sure-footed opener “Oh My Lover”) in the US—PJ Harvey made it known she was a brilliant and complex musical force. Now it’s 20 years later, and PJ Harvey is rightly ensconced in the cultural imagination as the preeminent rock artist of her generation. This Friday, this fact will be celebrated loudly and passionately at Chop Suey, where a number of Seattle bands and musicians will take the stage to apply themselves to the PJ Harvey songbook. On the roster: Star Anna, Glitterbang, Redwood Plan, Blackie, Night Cadet, Corey J. Brewer, Kate Moore, and more. Below, four of the night’s performers and the person who thought the whole thing up hold forth on the specifics of their PJ Harvey love.
I wasn't even 18 when my friend played me Dry. I had no idea what the hell was happening on that album, but I liked it. Now it's a classic, and tons of people have been influenced by it, but at the time, to my little baby ears, it was earth-shattering. I then remember picking up Rid of Me, and the first time I heard that last chorus fully kick in—I think my brain exploded. What I love most about PJ Harvey is that she does not give a fuck. She will reinvent herself and her sound in any way she fucking pleases. It’s so tough to pick just one favorite song of hers, because I love so many, but at the end of the day: “Victory.” Hands down.
Seattle reissue label Light in the Attic is releasing I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-1970 on double LP Nov. 4 (it's already available digitally and on CD). For those two years indicated in the title during which he ran the Stone Flower label, Mr. Sylvester Stewart (aka Sly Stone) was on the mother of all creative rolls; Sly & the Family Stone's Stand! and There's a Riot Goin' On also came out during this time. He issued only four singles on that imprint, but they were all gems. (The comp is filled out with 10 previously unissued tracks from the archives.) Written and produced by Sly, these songs all carried a heavy-lidded, stripped-down electro-funk aura that made you want to strip down. This was Sly getting down to the essentials of what made his songwriting click in your brain and groin.
One of the best of the bunch is 6ix’s “I’m Just Like You,” cut by a group who also served as the live band for Sly’s Little Sister project, which featured his, uh, little sister, Vet Stewart. With “I’m Just like You,” less is most definitely more. The wah-wah guitar, bobbing bass, drum machine, poignant harmonica, and clenched, soulful vocals are tightly coiled for maximum funk and sexual-tension building. I can't stop playing it.
More info on I'm Just Like You and snippets of tracks here.
Sharlese Metcalf is an auditory being. When she hears the sound of a song she likes, everything vanishes but the song; a state of radar envelops her and she becomes only ears. As host of KEXP's local show, Audioasis, Sharlese is a well-studied authority and a huge proponent of Northwest music. She knows what's happening musically in the region, and has since 2001, when she began DJing on Green River's KGRG Local Motion show. If you want to know Northwest music, get to know Sharlese Metcalf. See her in action DJing at Chop Suey on October 30 for Black Weirdo and on November 23 at Kremwerk for her cold-wave synth-pop night called False Prophet. On the video front, Metcalf and Bobby McHugh of World Famous have begun curating a quarterly Northwest music video showcase for KEXP and Northwest Film Forum called Videoasis. The October 22 presentation is Halloween themed.
I spoke with Metcalf at her Capitol Hill apartment, but I also had a cat psychologist named Jake meet me there. An extremely territorial Siamese cat named Sade lives with Metcalf—she hisses and attacks everyone but Metcalf. She wants her to herself. Metcalf had expressed interest in working on things with Sade, so I called Jake to see what could be done.
When you DJ, how do you pull sets together? How do you find the threads to make it work? What factors in to the songs you play next?
When I first started thinking about what a DJ actually does, I was at my friend Ramiro's house. He runs a crew and a record label called Uniting Souls...
The next Videoasis will happen on October 22 at Northwest Film Forum. Click here for more info!
Holy shitballs, y'all! Mr. Chuck Berry turned 88 godamn years old this past weekend. My money is on him outliving all his rock peers. Seriously, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, and Little Richard are the only other original founders still drawing breath.
I can't really think of anything to say about the man that hasn't already been said (even with all the creepy shit he's done). He told relevant, relatable stories through most of his songs while sorta folding country music into R&B. Without his blending of the two, he might'a never written his first record AND first hit "Maybelline." That side, and all his others, became the template for much of rock and roll that followed. Oh, it looks like Berry is still playing out at local St. Louis club, Blueberry Hill, once a month!!!
I thought a lot about Berry this weekend, just trying think of my favorite song, but they all rate; They're all my favorite. Gosh, as a kid I played my copies of the first two volumes of Chuck Berry's Golden Decade till the grooves turned white.
• Kelly O caught new band SSDD (which may stand for "Smash Shit Do Drugs" or "Slippery Slope Downward Dog"—depends on who you ask) playing a blazing-hot first show ever at the newly remodeled (but seemingly NOT finished) Sunset Tavern. Also, it's October. Why are so many bars still so hot? This included the Moore Theatre this past Saturday at the Genius Awards where everyone seemed to be sweating their balls off in their tuxedo pants.
• Speaking of Genius! Congrats to [suspenseful harp noise]... Industrial Revelation, the winners of the 2014 Genius Award in music! Also congrats to nominees Hollow Earth Radio and Erik Blood—I have never had a harder time voting!
• Also on Saturday at the Moore, the Seattle Rock Orchestra made my ears do a double take by doing a spot-on cover of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." Didn't that just come out?
• Other than dealing with a gnarly cold I can't shake, the other thing I've been doing this weekend is listening to the new Weezer album, Everything Will Be Alright in the End. I'm sort of fascinated by it because
of all the Sudafed it's weird and over-produced with all kinds of dueling guitars and hilarious noodly solos, but much more like older Weezer than whatever they were going for with the last three albums. So far, I think there are two good songs on it—this jam called "Cleopatra" where he mispronounces Cleopatra and then does the 5x times tables, and the standard-issue heartbreaker "Go Away" about cheating, featuring Bethany from Best Coast. (Also, LOL, Rivers Cuomo was apparently surprised that returning to their older style would make fans happy?)
• Oh! I guess another important part of this weekend included that I turned 30 yesterday. I don't feel different, but perhaps more emotional than normal? A partial list of the things that made me actually teary-eyed shortly before my birthday: An article about Freddie Mercury in an old issue of Rolling Stone, a friend's pet beta fish who I thought was dead but was really just napping, and the fact that Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile goes to house shows in LA put on by young women in the DIY punk scene.
I just got this sublime junkshop glam jam on 45 last week! The top side, "Rocco (Don't Go)," is okay, but the godamn 'B' side, "(Like A) Locomotion" KILLS!!!
Y'all, I'm deep into them "aahh"-ing back up singers draping their business over the boogie and the wha-wah. The bestest sides are almost always on the flip!! I reckon you kids might know Bonnie St. Claire from her Euro hit "Clap Your Hands And Stamp Your Feet," or perhaps via her other enduring '60s club hits sides: "I Surrender" and "Tame Me, Tiger?" Well, if NOT you do NOW! Oh, this was the last single for St. Claire with the band, Unit Gloria, backing her up.
St. Claire was discovered in 1967 by Peter Koelewijn, of the band Peter and the Rockets. Her (Dutch) hits stretched into the '80s, but hasn't had much pop success since; she still can be seen acting on Dutch TV.
If you’ve frequented a Rudy’s Barbershop or just walked by one in Capitol Hill or Bellevue lately, you may have noticed a rack of records from the Seattle-based Hardly Art label in there. This isn’t your typical strategy for the music industry or the haircutting business, but tough times for the former has led to some interesting new partnerships. How did this arrangement come about? “Hardly Art's partnership with Rudy's sprang out of our collaboration on Tacocat's just-wrapped West Coast ‘Cut and Ride’ tour, wherein Rudy's stylists followed the band along their tour in an airstream trailer, offering free haircuts to concertgoers,” Hardly Art publicist and former Stranger freelancer Jason Baxter says. “We sensed an overlap between the typical fan of Hardly Art or our bands and Rudy's staff and patrons, so it seemed like a no-brainer to start stocking our LPs there.”
A week ago, I saw the Tacocat (who include Stranger music editor Emily Nokes) and La Luz LPs on the shelf. Today they're gone, replaced by albums from La Sera, S, Shannon & the Clams, Fergus & Geronimo, and Colleen Green. “The selections are being rotated on a monthly basis,” Baxter explains. “I select five titles that I think would be a good fit and write a little summary on each (which can be read on a clipboard next to the LPs on the retail display). Additionally, we're making sure all of the records on sale are also being added to rotation on the Rudy's in-house playlists, so if you go in for a cut, there's a chance you'll hear some of our artists coming through the speakers.”
Vy Le, Rudy's president and chief brand officer says she's always been a big Hardly Art fan. "I threw out the idea that we’ve done in the past with Easy Street Records—which was to have them provide us with a curated playlist of artists they wanted to feature. Rudy’s has always been an amazing place to hang out and listen to music. We are constantly looking for ways to support artists. Plus Jason [Baxter] has been an amazing partner…it’s been great to work with a label that has such amazing credibility with musicians and artists."
This is the first time Rudy's has worked with a record label directly during Le's time with the company, although it supported Pearl Jam and other bands when they boycotted Ticketmaster. Le says this arrangement with Hardly Art has benefited Rudy's in that "Our customers and shops get to listen to amazing music and be associated with an amazing partner. For me it always comes down to the relationship… we don’t work with assholes (I’m allowed to say that). I liked more than anything the people behind [Hardly Art]. They're passionate about what they do and are eager to share it with an audience that gets it—so, it's a huge benefit for us in terms of working with like-minded individuals."
Le didn't reveal sales figures, but notes that Rudy's carries only a small number of records. "Again, we’re not looking to be a record store or make money off this collaboration. It’s truly for us a great way to showcase musicians to the 40,000+ people walking through our doors every month, across Seattle, Portland, LA and NYC."
From the beginning, Prince has been a master of concept. Arriving on the Minneapolis music scene in the late 1970s, the teenage singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist was regarded as an R&B whiz kid in the vein of Stevie Wonder, and celebrated for creating full-blooded recordings by himself in the studio, layering instrumental tracks—bass, drums, piano, guitars, vocals, everything—all played by himself. Questing to stand out in the long shadow of Stevie, Prince got conceptual. As Touré explains in 2013's I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon, the almost eerily self-possessed young artist applied himself wholly to two new ideals. First, to represent, as Prince said verbatim to a friend at the time, "pure sex"—at all times, in all ways, to all people. Second, crafting his every move to create maximum controversy.
His achievement of this second goal was particularly dazzling. After placing himself naked on the back cover of his self-titled second album (sitting astride a winged white horse, no less) failed to achieve the desired shock...
Empathy for the Evil
It's been a while since we've seen a new full-length from Mecca Normal! This long-running Vancouver, BC, group has always been about less is more—they're a two-piece, guitar and vocals. However, no matter their bare-bones lineup, their songwriting has always trumped sparseness; they make little BIG! And with Empathy for the Evil, they've done it again.
The strength of Empathy for the Evil is strident. The guitar riffs and melody lines are strung in tandem with narratives taken from vocalist Jean Smith's two novels, but she doesn't exactly sing to tell a story. Well, maybe she does, but her voice is incorporated as an instrument rather than propelling linear narratives. That, along with a bit of extra instrumentation (famed producer Kramer plays on a handful of tracks), gives the album a distinct moody creep that binds the songs together. That said, the one standout track, for me, was the slightly-delic "Between Livermore & Tracy." It's tense and full of atmosphere...
Local musician Mindie Lind was buying tickets for Lena Dunham's reading at University Temple United Methodist Church when she saw a button on University Book Store's site announcing that Dunham was looking for local talent to open for her at each stop on her book tour. Lind didn't think twice about entering. Signup "was extremely easy," Lind says—just a spot for your name and a link to a video displaying your talent. Lind even had the perfect recent example of her work: her band Inly had just completed a music video for their song "Mississippi Misfit" with director Ryan Jorgensen:
Unfortunately, two days after Lind sent the submission, she realized that Dunham was looking for solo acts, not bands, so, she says, "I called my video friends" and then made a video for her song "Lowlands," which she re-submitted.
Then there was a lot of waiting.
This film, Northern Soul, is a music nerd's film. It's about a very specific time period, early '70s England, and a scene—Northern Soul—which is held sacred by many who were there then, as well as all of those who came after. Honestly, I haven't seen the film, just the trailer, but the trailer looks like the research was spot-on, and the execution seems solid. I'm expecting plenty of backdrops, spins, high kicks, talcum, wide-legged trousers, amphetamines, and, of course, music.
My only concern, for those folks not in the know, is that the narrative appears to be a bit cliché—the story follows "two Northern boys whose worlds are changed forever when they discover black American soul music." Like EVERY "coming-of-age" movie, right?! (Sigh) Whatever, I'm excited about this thing! And it's gonna be WAY better than Quadrophenia!!!
Along with the film, there's an ace-lookin' companion book called Northern Soul: An Illustrated History, and TWO soundtrack sets, a double CD (plus DVD), and a 14x45s box set. FUCK YEAH! The film opens on 125 screens in the UK TODAY (Friday, October 17). I checked, but I turned up ZERO domestic screenings; however, the DVD/Blu-Ray will be released Monday, October 20.
Now, regarding the music: If you ever hear the term "Northern" or "Northern Soul," it is NOT a geographical reference to the location where music was recorded. Northern Soul is the name of a regional dance scene that began, exclusively, in the NORTH OF ENGLAND in the early '70s after a handful of selectors began playing mostly unheard, in the UK, and forgotten, in the US, American soul records. The records tagged as "Northern Soul," specifically, are the tracks those English selectors were playing in those clubs. The records weren't exclusively soul either—like, even crooner Paul Anka made the Northern Soul grade. Today the scene generally refers to what gets played as Rare Soul and those that were played back in the '70s as oldies.
As you may know, speed rap kingpin Twista will be dropping his mind-bogglingy fast flow at the Croc in a few short hours. You may also recall (if you're a level three hiphop nerd or higher) that in the mid-90's Twista briefly rolled with a crew called Do or Die, fellow Chicagoans with a similar penchant for triple-time rhymes. Though their breakout hit was "Po Pimp" off of 1996's Picture This, the finest Do or Die cut remains "Playa Like Me and You," from the same album.
The dusky, gorgeous production provides the perfect backdrop for some mellow, low-stakes tales of weed and expensive clothes, with the bed of chiming keys, subtle guitar licks and finger snaps swelling up all misty-eyed at the end, as guest vocalist Johnny P soulfully pleads to "smoke and ride" with him, baby. And who can say no, with a beat like this?
P.S. The sound quality on this clip's sort of garbage, but it's worth it for that sweet, sweet old-school rap video lovin'.
PROFLIGATE'S SUBTLE INDUSTRIAL-TECHNO ANTHEMS
Debacle Records' MOTOR night of unconventional club music continues to be unmissable with the booking of North Carolina producer Profligate (aka Noah Anthony). He possesses the rare skill to make industrial techno a somewhat accessible listening experience without succumbing to cheesiness. His Red Rope EP pushes subtly sooty, regimented industrial techno for people who think Wax Trax!'s aesthetic was too garish. "Can't Stop Shaking" is a whip-cracking, aerodynamic romp that would segue well after one of Chris & Cosey's harder numbers. "Laughing Song" and "Girl Full of Joy," from Profligate's forthcoming LP, Finding the Floor, increase the tempo while maintaining the understated, chilling vocals that have marked his work. Expect some hardware-generated hardness tonight. With Raica, Encapsulate, Knifecream, and Dr. Troy. Kremwerk, 9 pm, $5, 21+...
Following up on yesterday’s post about Glitterbeat Records’ reissue of Jon Hassell and Brian Eno’s unique, influential 1980 album Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics, here’s an interview with former Seattle musician/author/A&R rep Pat Thomas. He wrote the liner notes for this opus, at the request of Glitterbeat owner and former Seattleite Chris Eckman. Besides working freelance projects for Light in the Attic (including releases by Michael Chapman and Bobby Whitlock, and the I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-1970 comp), Thomas is the author of Listen, Whitey!: The Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975. He is currently working on a book about political activist Jerry Rubin, in addition to his music-business activities.
The Stranger: When did you first hear Fourth World Vol. 1 and what were your initial impressions? Have your views about it changed at all since then?
Thomas: I first heard this album sometime in the early ’80s, when I fascinated with all things related to Eno. I didn’t know Jon Hassell from the man on the moon, I bought it for the Eno name—and quickly realized what Hassell was bringing something very special to the table. Over time, I not only checked out more Hassell albums (both with and without Eno), I realized that this particular album was very special; I’ve never really stopped listening to it. What makes it special is that it’s both meditative and engaging, it straddles this unique line between ambient and tribal, engaging both the head and heart, if not quite “the ass.”
What have you learned about the album since you started writing the liner notes for the Glitterbeat reissue?
In conversation with Hassell, I realized that this album was not the only the blueprint for Eno’s “world music” with the Talking Heads, it was also the blueprint for Peter Gabriel’s sonic “world” adventures, as well.
Did you interview both Hassell and Eno?
Eno wasn’t up for an interview, but Hassell was very generous with his time and as he pointed out—Eno and Byrne squeezed him out of the My Life In the Bush of Ghosts album, which followed this one. However, Hassell also agreed without Eno’s name on the front cover, Fourth World may have sunk without a trace.
Do you think the world will be more receptive to Fourth World now than when it was originally released?
Sadly and surprisingly, journalists at places like the New York Times and NPR, who I thought would jump on the fact that this groundbreaking masterwork is back in the print for the first time in over 20 years, totally ignored me. Also, freelancers, who pitched this album to similar institutions of higher learning, have gone ignored. Currently, The Stranger is the only American outlet to recognize what’s happened or happening here.
To me this album possesses a timeless sound, fluid and elusive with regard to its origin, and more than ever it seems to resonate with our increasingly global society.
This album was ahead of its time; this music was thinking globally when the rest of us couldn’t even imagine what was happening in the next state.
This is the first time in 20 years that the CD has been available, and probably close to 30 years for the vinyl [the last vinyl reissue was in 1987, according to Discogs. —DS]. I'm particularly proud of my interview with Hassell (which runs pretty much unedited inside the CD and LP booklets) because he speaks candidly about his feelings about this work—detailing the good, the bad, and the ugly side of it all.
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