Monthly Archives: February 2010

Bikini Calls: Girl Power Book, Uh, Rocks

 

 

Brand new offering
from the writer who previously blew wet kisses in the direction of Sassy
magazine actually gets it right.

 

BY CRYSTAL K. WIEBE

 

One part memoir, two parts cultural history book, Marisa
Meltzer’s Girl Power: The Nineties
Revolution in Music
(published earlier this month by Faber and Faber) traces
the prominence of women in popular music from the riot grrrls to the Spice
Girls to all-girl rock and roll camps for tweens, ruminating along the way on
the effectiveness of the message of female empowerment inherent within (or at
least claimed by) each music and cultural phenomenon.

 

 

 

Although admittedly an avid fan of many of the acts she
writes about, Meltzer – who previously co-authored the 2007 book How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to
the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time
– manages to contemplate the
cultural relevance of all of her subjects with fairness and objectivity. For
instance, she considers that the riot grrrl bands that boycotted the media may
have been a little too idealistic. While being more open may have risked the
media further misconstruing the point of the movement, more press would have at
least meant that more girls – especially in the Midwest
and other pop culturally dry places in the pre-Internet age – were exposed to
the themes of self-empowerment and sisterhood that riot grrrls embraced. For,
while the “girl power” promoted by the Spice Girls lacked much substance and
emphasized consumerism, at least its ubiquity meant that a message of female
pride reached the masses. And Meltzer cites scientific findings indicating that
even the Spice Girls’ watered down version of girl power had some positive
impact on the group’s young female fans. Along with the riot grrrls and Spice
Girls, Meltzer examines the trends of women’s (or womyn’s) music festivals in
the 1990s, female singer songwriters and the rise of sexy pop tarts like
Britney Spears.

 

The author acknowledges that her portrait of the era is
biased toward her own tastes. “This book will have a narrow and highly selective
focus by design,” she writes in the preface. “It’s a discussion and an analysis
as viewed through the lens of personal experience.” Fortunately, the memories
she weaves in – like when she felt she was the only long-haired teenage girl in
the crowd of a close-cropped Bikini Kill fans – help the academic analysis from
becoming too dry and, more importantly, drive home the message that what women
do on the musical stage can have a profound effect on the girls in the mosh pit
– even after they go home.

 

DJ Qbert Opens Up Virtual College

 

If you scratch in
cyberspace but no one hears it, can you call it hip-hop? The legendary Skratch
Piklz turnbalist has got the answer.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

QBert, born Richard Quitevis, often referred to as the Jimi
Hendrix of the turntable, is celebrating 25 years at the forefront of
scratching and turntablism in 2010.  And in recognition, he is stepping
out with the revolutionary ArtistWorks company to offer his services as a
Master Teacher of the instrument to anyone, anywhere in the world online at
QBert’s Skratch University.

 

What this means out there in the physical world is that no
matter where you live, you can study DJing from Qbert. Students watch the
hundreds of short, HD videos QBert has posted, then upload video themselves
practicing the patterns and techniques, at which point Q offers advice and
critique via his own video response.  

 

The cost is $60 for three months, which as Qbert’s handlers
are quick to point out, “is less than you’d pay to trek up to Qbert’s house for
private lessons.” Boy howdy to that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Church w/30th Anniv. Acoustic Tour

 

Doing a full career
overview + passing out some free goods.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Australia’s The Church have just announced the “An Intimate Space” tour of North America for April and May. The acoustic outing isn’t
merely to promote the recent Untitled #23 (Second Motion Records) album, however, as the plans are to cover, in a
rather unique fashion, their full 30 year career.

 

At the shows the band will do a
track from each of their albums – but in reverse chronological order. Or, as
the band puts it, “This original show will have the audience gliding softly
down through the years, opening with a track from Untitled #23 before
embarking on a fantastic voyage through time ultimately arriving at the first
Australian album, Of Skins And Heart where it all began.”

 

But wait, there’s more. The band
has put together an exclusive EP, Deadman’s
Hand
, which features the title track plus unreleased material, and
concertgoers will all receive free copies of the EP at the shows.

 

Check out the Church at BLURT:

 

Untitled #23 album review

 No Certainty Attached Steve
Kilbey biography review

 

Tour Dates:

 

APRIL
2 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – Coach House
4 – San Diego, CA – Anthology
5 – Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
6 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
8 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
9 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox
13 – Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Café
14 – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
15 – Chicago, IL – Park West
17 – Cleveland, OH – The Winchester Tavern and Music Hall
18 – Ferndale, MI – The Magic Bag Theatre
19 – Pittsburgh, PA – Club Café
21 – Boston, MA – TBC
22 – NYC – City Winery
23 – Bay Shore, NY (Long Island) – Boulton Center for the Performing Arts
24 – Sellersville, PA (Philadelphia) – Sellersville Theatre
25 – Falls Church, VA (DC) – State Theatre
27 – Annapolis, MD – Rams Head On Stage

MAY 1 – Atlanta, GA
– Center Stage

 

 

 

MP3: Kings Go Forth (Moulton remix)

 

Mingering
Mike-approved soul/funk combo also gets the thumbs up from legendary producer.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

A couple of weeks ago the BLURT office was abuzz with the
news
that outsider artist Mingering Mike had returned and had been commissioned
to do the sleeve art for the upcoming album by smokin’ Milwaukee soul/funk
combo Kings Go Forth, due April 20 on Luaka Bop. We also posted an MP3 of the
band that should have further whetted your appetite for the rec.

 

Now comes more juicy news on the Kings. Shortly after a string of lauded 7″ singles set
soul music blogs buzzing, the band received an out of the blue call from
legendary producer Tom Moulton – the originator of the remix and 12″
single format – asking if he could add his magic touch to one of their songs.

The resulting track “Don’t Take My Shadow” (A Tom Moulton Mix)
appears on the album The Outsiders Are
Back
and as a 12″ containing three mixes out now.

Grab an MP3 of the song – it’s a six-minute-plus killer – here at their Luaka
Bop artist page.

Tom Moulton originated the remix in the late 1960’s with a self-made tape of
overlapping songs he created for the Fire Island
bar where he worked. He went on to become one of the most influential record
promoters and producers of the 60’s and 70’s and is credited with pioneering
the 12″ single as a popular format. He’s widely quoted as saying “I
never made a dance record, I made records you can dance to,” which the
tune clearly illustrates.

Kings Go Forth are confirmed to play at SXSW in March with additional tour
dates to be announced. And yeah, that looks like some trademark Mingering Mike
artwork above, too. Sweet.

 

 

 

Report: Cayamo Cruise 2010 (Day 1)

 

For
Sunday, Feb. 21, we got Glenn Phillips, Darrell Scott, John Hiatt and others –
not to mention the devil and the deep blue sea, plus plenty of food and
beverages.

 

By Lee Zimmerman / Photos by Will Byington

 

Ed.
note: This week BLURT contributor Lee Zimmerman is on the annual Cayamo Cruise,
which as you’ll read below boasts a who’s-who of roots and Americana
artists playing for (and mingling with) fans traveling on a five-day cruise
through the Caribbean. Fittingly enough, the
event’s called Caribbean on Cayamo
2010: A Journey Through Song. Internet connection willing, Zimmerman will be
filing a report each day, so keep checking back to find out who was twanging the
loudest, who was singing the sweetest – and who Zimmerman was rubbing shoulders
with the hardest. Incidentally, you can also read his report from last year’s
Cruise elsewhere at the BLURT site.

 

Attention all ships at sea: Cayamo 2010 has set sail!

 

This, then, is your daily briefing on all the goings-on,
brought to you from our stateroom aboard the Norwegian Dawn, again the home of
what may well be the best floating musical event of this day and age. This
year’s cruise, for example, includes Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris,
Brandi Carlile and John Hiatt… and those are just the headliners! The support
acts would likely be considered first tier anywhere else – especially when the
names include Robert Earl Keen, Buddy Miller, WPA, Darrell Scott, Shawn
Mullens, Vienna Teng, Edwin McCain, Stephen Kellogg and Rachel Yamagata.
Clearly, we’re already breathless with anticipation. As Darrell Scott would
remark later during his opening night set, “If this festival was held on land,
it would be the best ever.”

 

Here at sea, somewhere between Miami and Costa Mayan Mexico, it sure feels
like the landlubbers couldn’t disagree.

 

Sunday,
February 21, 2010

 

My wife Alisa and I meet our friend Dan and his bevy of four
beautiful young women who have gathered at his apartment after winging in to Miami from various far-flung locales – Colorado,
Oregon, Arizona
and Las Vegas.  I’m immediately impressed; Dan’s gathered
quite an impressive crew of traveling companions, and the fact that he’s a
single guy immediately draws on a scenario remarkably similar to that cheesy
reality show, “The Bachelor.” Still, I’m a married guy, and in the first feat
of endurance I’ll endure in day one, I attempt to refrain from any action that
can be deemed as being flirtatious, at least in Alisa’s eyes. On the other
hand, sucking in my gut seems somewhat mandatory. If you’ve started to keep
score, those would be today’s first and second concession to self control.

 

Dan and one of his guests grab a ride from a friend, leaving
Alisa, three of the other girls and me, the sole remaining male, to take a cab
to the port of embarkation. No sooner do we arrive than we find ourselves
embroiled in a crisis. It seems Alisa has left her make-up bag back in the car
which we’ve parked at Dan’s condo. Because we’re talking women’s make-up here,
any decision I’m mulling about whether or not we need to go back to retrieve it
quickly becomes a moot point. The girls disperse and Alisa and I jump back in
the taxi to retrieve the precious cargo.

 

Fortunately, Dan’s apartment is nearby. Unfortunately,
however, a simple $18 cab ride has escalated in cost to well beyond that
otherwise reasonable figure and is now closer in proximity to $50. Obviously –
and reasonably – Alisa foots the cost.

 

Arriving back at the port, we quickly join a burgeoning line
of passengers waiting their turn to go through security. We’re handed health
questionnaires asking for two bits of information in particular – have we
experienced any severe flu like symptoms in the past 24 hours – specifically
uncontrolled bouts of diarrhea – and have we had any up close and personal
encounters with anyone claiming to have swine flu… as if someone would approach
us and happily announce, “Hey, guess what, I have the desly and contagious
swine flu! Now give me a big wet kiss!”

 

Naturally, the answer would be a resounding ‘no’ to both,
even though admittedly, I’m trying to repress a cold and I’m gripped by
sniffles. However, Alisa, for whatever reason, answers ‘yes’ to both. Fortunately,
I catch the error in enough time so as to avoid being quarantined. Acts of self
control three and four then follow, three being the fact I restrain from
telling Alisa she needs to start paying closer attention (in which case she’s
likely blame it all on me and embarrass me in front of everyone in the queue)
and four, my need to refrain from sneezing so that the security folks don’t
actually think there’s a guy on board who’s going to infect the entire ship
with some ghastly malady.

 

Luckily, fate seems to be on our side. A short time after
we’re checked in, the computers go down and there’s an hour delay in boarding
for those behind us.

 

As we make our way onto the
ship, we’re greeted by high-fives from Andy Levine, the head of Atlanta’s Sixth Man
organization, under whose auspices Cayamo and several other music-themed
cruises operate. Andy, always an amiable fellow, engages in a brief exchange
over the current pronunciation of ‘Cayamo’ – whether its ‘KUY-YAMO’ or
‘KAY-YAMO.’ “Why don’t you just call it ‘Fred’?” I suggest. Okay, not very
funny, but it does elicit a chuckle.

 

***

 

As anyone who’s ever taken a
cruise before well knows, two of the biggest lures are the abundance of food –
which in my case will further hamper any ability to suck in my gut in front of
Dan’s friends – and all the friendly folks from various Third World countries
whose only aim in life seems to be welcoming the guests and appealing to them
to have the vacation of a lifetime. We quickly indulge their desire by
attacking the buffet line which offers an otherwise unwieldy combination of
carved roast beef, hot dogs, sushi, pizza and various international fare. And
that’s just the appetizers! My plate alone would likely feed half of a small
Asian nation.  What the heck – it’s a
whole hour and a half until dinner.

 

***

 

Oh yeah – there’s music
too!  We make our way to the atrium to
catch the final couple of songs from Edie Carey, a sensitive singer/songwriter
type whose mournful repertoire seems a somewhat curious way to kick-off the
festivities. We’re much more enthralled by Katie Herzig, who we initially
encountered on last year’s cruise.  Her
music is instantly infectious, a combination of winsome material and a pliable
vocal that propels her sweet melodies ever upward and makes them worthy of some
clapping along.

 

***

 

Katie’s set finishes just in
time to scurry to our cabins where we find only one or our four pieces of
luggage have made it to their destination. It’s curious, we think. All of our
suitcases were handed to the porter at the same time. Was my blue bag separated
from the others due to bad behavior? 
Suddenly we grow concerned about the fate our missing possessions.
Clearly, a tie-dyed tank top and green cargo pants aren’t going to be enough to
sustain my wardrobe throughout the duration of this cruise. There are rock
stars onboard! I gotta muster up some cool!

 

***

 

Still, there’s no time to
ponder that notion. It’s time for the mandatory safety drill, the purpose of
which seems to be watching fellow passengers lose their way to their assembly
stations, giggling at how silly they look in their lifejackets, and watching
while the crew patiently attempt to keep their charges from strangling
themselves with the safety straps. Quite an educational experience indeed. We
do, however, meet our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Judge, he being the CFO
of our much beloved Blurt.  CFO in this case, stands for “Cash For
Others.”  In other words, he’s the guy
who decides whether there’s enough cash in the coffers to pay humble writers
like myself. I immediately come to the uncontestable opinion that Stephen is a
guy I oughta be nice to.

 

***

 

 

After fulfilling our obligation
to look like total boobs in front of the crew, we scurry to the Spinnaker
Lounge to catch the first in a series of showcases. Spinnaker, of course, is
nautical speak for “Scramble to find the best seat even if you have to climb
over other passengers and spill your beverage on them as the venue in general
admission, so good luck in finding two seats together.” Or something like that.
Fortunately we manage to plant ourselves on stage left in anticipation for
Glenn Phillips’ lead-off set. Phillips, formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket, is
now affiliated with an indie super-group of sorts, WPA, but here he’s offering
his only solo show of the cruise. A self-effacing master of instantly
infectious melodies, Phillips has a lot of fans in the audience, all of whom
indulge him as he tries desperately to keep his guitar in tune and not stumble
over his lyrics.  Clearly, any missteps
only add to his charms.

 

***

 

 

By contrast, Darrell Scott
shows himself to be something of a perfectionist, given his nimble guitar
playing and equally adept keyboard work. Singing in a soulful croon, he parlays
an affecting blend of blues, ballads and an occasional cover via Johnny Cash’s
mournful “I Still Miss Someone.” By now, I’m in a sleep-like state, but the
music transcends my sudden exhaustion and sends me soaring with elation.

 

***

 

Still, we opt to forego Shawn
Mullins’ set for now and head up to our cabin for a quick nap. It’s nearly 9:00
when we awake. After a quick but satisfying meal, we hurry to the Stardust
Theater, the ship’s major venue, for our 10:30 headliner show by John Hiatt. We
arrive on time only to discover the concert is delayed an hour – to 11:30 to be
precise – due to a back-up in the show schedule, which in turn, can be traced
to the delay in boarding caused by the computer breakdown earlier. Stephen
decides he’s too exhausted to stay awake during the gig, but Alisa and I
venture on, consoled by the fact we had a nap earlier in the day. We’re
rewarded by a superb performance, one which finds Hiatt’s vocal — as rich and
pliable as molasses — intoning a generous array of his standards – “Master of
Disaster,” “Perfectly Good Guitar,” “Drive South” et. al. interspersed with
selections from his brilliant new album, The
Open Road
. Equally entertaining are Hiatt’s rubbery facial expressions
which only seem to accentuate his deadpan humor.  “Thanks for staying up late,” he says. “I
know it’s past your bedtime.” As the show coincides at 1:30 AM, we know its
past ours. We head to our cabin and collapse. 
Day number one of Cayamo cruise 2010 has come to an overdue conclusion.

 

To be continued…

 

[Photos of Glenn Phillips and Darrell Scott by Will
Byington]

 

 

IN SHORT: February 2010

You know the drill. IN SHORT is our monthly hodgepodge selection of stuff we think’s worth mentioning… sometimes it’s about music, sometimes not. This month, it’s about live music (what’s that? We kid, we kid), the interwebs, sort of:

SxSW Interactive, Film & Music Festival
Every year it seems someone is always questioning the validity of music conferences. And for good reason. Mostly they suck. The music panels especially. A bunch of know-it-alls who live at 30,000 feet and just like to hear the sound of their own voices — seemingly never doling out any practical, useful advice. Sadly, the music panels at SxSW are generally no exception. But now that I’ve started going to the Interactive portion of the festival beforehand, I could care less.

SxSW Interactive, that’s where you actually learn things. And generally, there’s less drinking (then during SxSW Music) which makes for better brainwork. You remember people’s names. Business cards actually find their way into your suitcase. You take notes. You have ideas.

Then, a funny sort of phenomenon starts to happen as the week wears on and Interactive flows into Music (Film is supposed to be the bridge but really, who goes?). Less green vegetables. Less sleep. Longer nights. The hotel staff now knows you by first name. Instead of sitting at panels you’re standing all day shows. But your attention span is shot and your smart phone is blowing up. Plus, your feet hurt […]

 

A Triple-A radio programming veteran, Kate has served as Music Director of the Loft at XM, Midday Host at WYEP, Evening Host at both WNCS and WUIN, as well as Content Supervisor for Pump Audio. Currently, she’s the CEO of Outlandos Music, a new-music discovery service for grown-ups. Kate has been nationally recognized for her ardent presentation of music and her ability to champion talented, compelling artists.

Yo Gabba Gabba! w/Weezer, BoH & More

 

Not just for the
toddlers in the house….

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Nickelodeon
premieres the third season of the award-winning preschool music series Yo
Gabba Gabba!
on Monday,
March 8, at 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT).  The new season commences with a
week of brand-new episodes featuring Sarah
Silverman, Weird Al Yankovic,
Black Kids, Jack McBrayer,
Paul Scheer, Weezer, Anthony Bourdain, Of
Montreal, Mos Def, Devo, The Aquabats, Mark
Mothersbaugh, Biz Markie
and a special remix by Travis Barker,
Monday, March 8 – Friday, March 12, at
10:30 a.m. (ET/PT).  Yo Gabba
Gabba!
is created by Christian
Jacobs and Scott Schultz.

 

 

Future guest stars for season three include: Fred Armisen, Erykah Badu, Band of
Horses, Blitzen Trapper, Chairlift, Rob Dyrdek, The Faint,
Flaming Lips, The Killers, Solange Knowles, Mix
Master Mike, Angela Kinsey,
The Sounds, Taking Back Sunday, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Charlyne Yi and John Francis Daley, Samm Levine and Martin Starr from “Freaks and Greeks.”  In
addition, Biz Markie is back
with his regular “Biz’s Beat of the Day” segment teaching preschoolers how to
beat-box, singer/illustrator/composer Mark Mothersbaugh returns in his
recurring “Mark’s Magic Pictures”
drawing segment and Jack McBrayer
and Paul Scheer visit with their
recurring “Knock Knock” joke segment.

 

 

Here’s what’s going to happen during that first week:

 

 

  • Monday, March 8 – “Circus” – Weird Al Yankovic plays the circus ringmaster;
    Sarah Silverman teaches the “Time to Mime” dancey dance and Black Kids sing the
    original Yo Gabba Gabba! song, “We Love Clowns.” The episode also
    features Jack McBrayer and Paul Scheer telling a “Knock Knock” joke and Mark
    Mothersbaugh in his “Marks’ Magic Pictures” segment.

 

 

  • Tuesday, March 9 – “Bugs” – Weezer performs an original Yo Gabba Gabba! song,
    “My Friends Are All Insects” and Mark Mothersbaugh is featured in his “Mark’s
    Magic Pictures” segment. The episode also features a special remix
    segment arranged by Travis Barker.

 

 

  • Wednesday, March 10 – “Doctor” – Anthony Bourdain plays the doctor when Toodee
    gets sick. Of Montreal
    performs an original Yo Gabba Gabba! song “Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast!”
    and Biz Markie is featured in the “Biz’s Beat of the Day” segment.

 

 

  • Thursday, March 11 – “Superhero”- Mos Def plays a superhero; Devo performs
    their song “Watch Us Work It;” Biz Markie is featured in the “Biz’s Beat of the
    Day” segment and The Aquabats perform a “Numbers” segment.

 

 

  • Friday, March 12 – Encore of “Circus”

 

 

 

 

Yo Gabba Gabba! w/Weezer, BoH & More

 

Not just for the
toddlers in the house….

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Nickelodeon
premieres the third season of the award-winning preschool music series Yo
Gabba Gabba!
on Monday,
March 8, at 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT).  The new season commences with a
week of brand-new episodes featuring Sarah
Silverman, Weird Al Yankovic,
Black Kids, Jack McBrayer,
Paul Scheer, Weezer, Anthony Bourdain, Of
Montreal, Mos Def, Devo, The Aquabats, Mark
Mothersbaugh, Biz Markie
and a special remix by Travis Barker,
Monday, March 8 – Friday, March 12, at
10:30 a.m. (ET/PT).  Yo Gabba
Gabba!
is created by Christian
Jacobs and Scott Schultz.

 

 

Future guest stars for season three include: Fred Armisen, Erykah Badu, Band of
Horses, Blitzen Trapper, Chairlift, Rob Dyrdek, The Faint,
Flaming Lips, The Killers, Solange Knowles, Mix
Master Mike, Angela Kinsey,
The Sounds, Taking Back Sunday, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Charlyne Yi and John Francis Daley, Samm Levine and Martin Starr from “Freaks and Greeks.”  In
addition, Biz Markie is back
with his regular “Biz’s Beat of the Day” segment teaching preschoolers how to
beat-box, singer/illustrator/composer Mark Mothersbaugh returns in his
recurring “Mark’s Magic Pictures”
drawing segment and Jack McBrayer
and Paul Scheer visit with their
recurring “Knock Knock” joke segment.

 

 

Here’s what’s going to happen during that first week:

 

 

  • Monday, March 8 – “Circus” – Weird Al Yankovic plays the circus ringmaster;
    Sarah Silverman teaches the “Time to Mime” dancey dance and Black Kids sing the
    original Yo Gabba Gabba! song, “We Love Clowns.” The episode also
    features Jack McBrayer and Paul Scheer telling a “Knock Knock” joke and Mark
    Mothersbaugh in his “Marks’ Magic Pictures” segment.

 

 

  • Tuesday, March 9 – “Bugs” – Weezer performs an original Yo Gabba Gabba! song,
    “My Friends Are All Insects” and Mark Mothersbaugh is featured in his “Mark’s
    Magic Pictures” segment. The episode also features a special remix
    segment arranged by Travis Barker.

 

 

  • Wednesday, March 10 – “Doctor” – Anthony Bourdain plays the doctor when Toodee
    gets sick. Of Montreal
    performs an original Yo Gabba Gabba! song “Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast!”
    and Biz Markie is featured in the “Biz’s Beat of the Day” segment.

 

 

  • Thursday, March 11 – “Superhero”- Mos Def plays a superhero; Devo performs
    their song “Watch Us Work It;” Biz Markie is featured in the “Biz’s Beat of the
    Day” segment and The Aquabats perform a “Numbers” segment.

 

 

  • Friday, March 12 – Encore of “Circus”

 

 

 

 

Juan MacLean Gets His DJ-Kicks On

 

DFA artist’s mix is a love letter to classic house,
mixed live on turntables. Includes exclusive track featuring Nancy Whang &
Jerry Fuchs

 

By
Blurt Staff

 

Juan
MacLean is the latest to assemble a mixtape for Studio !K7’s long-running DJ-Kicks series, due April 27, and the label is
calling it “a timely lesson in the enduring
spirit of house music.” The artist himselve describes the process of putting it
together as an “existential tailspin.” 

 

“I really wasn’t joking
in the liner notes when I said that in the six months I knew I was going to do
this mix, I spent most of the time agonizing over the relevance of doing a DJ
mix in 2010,” says MacLean. “So much about DJ-ing has changed in the
last 10 years. It seems that anyone at home can make their own mix, whether
they’re a proper DJ or not. Which begs the question, why bother putting them
out at this point?”

 

“So at the end of the
day I just came back to where I had started, which was basically wanting to do
something that was representative of where I’m coming from in producing my own
music, and also focusing on the current house music scene.”

 

Pumping, sweaty house music
at its purest, from the churning pianos to the chopped-up vocals. Surprising?
Maybe: DFA, the label MacLean
calls home, is best known for post-punkish indie dance, and label co-founder
James Murphy’s dance-floor tastes run mostly to vintage disco. But MacLean is
undoubtedly DFA’s resident house aficionado, something you might have guessed
from his anthemic 2008 single “Happy House,” a homage to ’90s piano
house.

 

That track bookends MacLean’s
DJ Kicks, which opens with the beatless strains of Ian Breno’s dub and closes out with Holy Ghost’s Alex Frankel’s Rhodes-infused remix. Along the way, it arcs
through 72 minutes of peak-hour energy, mixed
live with two turntables, a couple of filters and a tape delay. The
approach may be old-school, but the sound is simply classic, reflecting
MacLean’s taste in timeless grooves and the raw, spontaneous, ecstatic energy
of a dance floor in motion. The mix is also impeccably shaped, with a tracklist
accounting for the natural ebb and flow of the crowd’s energy, and a couple
clever codas easing us gently back down from the climax.

 

One of the cornerstones of
the mix is an exclusive track from The
Juan MacLean enditled “Feel So Good.”  The track features
a vocal from DFA contributor Nancy
Whang and a drum loop from The Juan MacLean’s longtime drummer Jerry Fuchs, who was tragically killed
in an accident last year.  It’s an upbeat and sweaty dance track that
embodies the classic house influence heard throughout the mix.

 

The oldest cut on the mix, Armando’s “Don’t Take It,”
dates back to 1988, when it was recorded in one take in a legendary Chicago after-hours
session. Detroit, normally remembered as the birthplace of techno, gets its due
with a Theo Parrish remix of Rick Wilhite’s 1996 tune “Get On
Up,” originally released on Moodymann’s KDJ label. Otherwise, the mix
sticks largely to recent material, though you’d never know it from the sound of
the tracks themselves. Without ever coming off as willfully retro, any of them
sound like they could have been recorded at any point in the past 20 years.

 

One of the striking things
about the setlist is its international scope, which flits through Glasgow (6th Borough Project), Berlin (Florian Meindl, Alex Niggemann), Buenos
Aires (Manuel Sahagun)
and even Adelaide, Australia (Sonny Foderra). Just consider Shit Robot’s “Simple Things (Todd Terje Remix)”: here’s
a track made by a Dubliner now living in Stuttgart,
remixed in Oslo and released on a New York label. It’s a
great proof of just how universal a language house music has become.

 

And ultimately, MacLean’s DJ
Kicks
is all about achieving that universal vibe, unconcerned with populist
trends or trainspotters’ disdain.

 

“As a DJ,” says
MacLean, “I’ve been wrestling with the idea: how much are you an artist,
with your own aesthetic principles, and how much are you an entertainer? I’ve
always found it interesting to grapple with those two ideas, rather than throw
yourself in either direction. It’s easy to be self-indulgent and stay cool and
make the proper moves.  It’s also easy to just play hit after hit, which
most people do. But to somehow wrestle with those two things and emerge with
something that considers both, seems more interesting.”

 

Interesting it is.
Fortunately for us, MacLean’s DJ Kicks doesn’t stop there. A love-letter
to house music penned by one of the music’s most sincere (and well-schooled)
admirers, it’s a sweet, sweaty, wide-ranging set that wraps you up in chugging
grooves. At a time of proliferating podcasts and fly-by-night mixtapes, it’s a
welcome change of pace: a mix that makes its case the old-fashioned way, one
perfect blend at a time.

 

 

 

 

Avril Lavigne Vs. the Black Belles

 

It’s the video
catfight of the century! Sorta…

 

By Fred Mills

 

A month or so ago the news arrived of Nashville all-girl
band the Black Belles and ghe garage combo’s forthcoming single on Jack White’s
Third Man label. Now  we’ve gotten a
closer look at the quartet via the new video – that White himself directed –
for their song “What Can I Do?” A performance clip (lip synched) shot in black
and white, it’s pretty striking.

 

 

Meanwhile, it’s been a long time since we posted any news
about Avril Lavigne – actually, we’ve NEVER posted any news about Avril
Lavigne, and for good reason, other than some cheesecake pics we found on a
smutty website. It’s for her own new single “Alice,” which as you probably know has
something to do with the new Tim Burton flick Alice in Wonderland. Filmed in full color with lots of expensive
visuals, it’s, uh, also striking, although the music itself is like one
extended shriek guaranteed to give you a migraine. It was unveiled yesterday by
Sony and quickly appeared all over the web until the record label had YouTube
remove the embed code – which as we all know, is pretty ass backwards in 2010,
but no matter.

 

Since at this point you’re probably dying to glom onto these
two videos, we’ve got the Black Belles below (sensibly, they left the embedding
intact) and if you really, really gotta see Avril, go here to her official
YouTube kiosk. Let us know who you think’s hotter!