Monthly Archives: April 2011

Report: Raveonettes Live in Northampton

Rave on. April 18 at Pearl
Street in Northampton, Mass., the Danish duo – abetted by opener Tamaryn –
showcased their new album.

 

Text & Photos by Jennifer Kelly

A lot has happened since the last time I saw the Raveonettes on a
minor stop in their Chain Gang of Love tour sometime back in the mid-00s. Their splice of girl group melody and rackety,
effect-driven guitar sounded new then, or at least relatively unusual. It was
still half a decade before Vivian Girls, Pains of Being Pure at Heart and their
many followers would colonize this blend of haze and sweetness. Rock was back,
at least temporarily, and there was plenty of room for a gorgeous blonde bass
player, a floorboard’s worth of guitar pedals and a sound that linked the
Ronettes to the Ventures to the Jesus & Mary Chain.

 

As it turns out, there’s still some room for Sune Rose Wagner and
Sharin Foo, whose live act has gotten sharper even as their recorded output has
grown more diffuse and atmospheric. For this tour, they’ve got a slate of
spooky tunes – they play the bulk of new Raven
from the Grave
tonight – as well as a beefed up line-up. In addition to the
band’s two main members, there are two other guys in tow. For much of the
night, they play short-handed drum sets – just a snare, floor tom, crash cymbal
and tambourine – in perfect synchronization, pounding out primitive, booming
beats that give even the Raveonette’s airiest new songs a rush of adrenaline. The
set is heavy on new material, but also includes selections from Whip It On, Chain Gang of Love, Lust Lust
Lust
, and In and Out of Control,
plus at least one cover.

 

 

But first, Tamaryn, a wavy-haired singer from New Zealand (by way of San Francisco), whose The Waves came out last
fall on Mexican Summer. With guitarist and producer Rex John Silverton, she is
working the same glistening drones and space-rocking miasmas as labelmates No
Joy, with a hint of Zola Jesus’ psychic disintegration added in. I arrive just
at the end of her set, her partner’s effects winding down like a helicopter
landing, and wish I’d heard more.

 

Tamaryn is done at nine (band’s only start on time when I’m late, it
seems), and the Raveonettes won’t go on until after 10, so there’s plenty of
time to observe the set-up process. Two techs wander around fixing wiring, one
of them with a miner’s headlight. Three sets of guitar pedals – 18 of them in
all – are hauled to the stage. A sheet of paper that looks like a set list is
taped to the floor where Wagner will play, but it’s too short to be a set list
and anyway, doesn’t appear to have any Raveonettes songs on it. Only later,
when an actual set list materializes do I realize that it’s a diagram for
Wagner’s effects lay-out, with words like “Hole” and “Bliss” indicating where
his foot goes for what song. There are also a lot of special lights and a set
of amps that read “Rave” and “On” in the strobe flash. I realize, finally, why
there’s an “o” in Raveonettes – never occurred to me before.

 

 

Finally, the Raveonettes come on stage, Wagner in a “Back to the
Future” tee-shirt, Foo all in black, her blonde hair cut in a neat, geometrical
bob. “We’ve been here before,” she says, smiling shyly into the mic, and to
judge by the whoop, I’m not the only one that’s back for the second time.   The band is not big on chatter, however, so
we dive right into a brace of Raven from
the Grave
tunes, the booming drums and screaming guitars of “Recharge and
Revolt,” the bell-like synths of “War in Heaven,” the languid chords and dreamy
melody of “Let Me On Out.”

 

Then, in a shift towards the past, the band revisits Lust Lust Lust‘s “Dead Sound,” its
velvety harmonies joined to pounding, galloping, double drumming. The strobe
lights are going off in epilepsy-inducing bursts, and something wild is
happening in the intersection of arching guitars and obliterating drums. (I am
also thinking, why do they care whether I use a camera flash or not, if they’re
going to work in a continual stutter of flashes?)  There are a few more older songs, “Noisy
Summer”, “Love in a Trash Can” and “Lust Lust Lust.”

 

You can’t help but notice the drop in intensity, when the band goes
back to its new material. Slow, hazy “Apparitions” with its interlocking
guitars and sudden crashing chords drifts through chilly, spectral spaces. Two
drummers are in play here, putting spine under its slow-spooling melodies, but
it’s a whole different feel from the earlier material. “Evil Seeds” follows,
guitars oscillating, Twilight Zone-style
between two notes, the beat, when it comes, snatched whole from Spector’s “Be
My Baby.” There’s a menace in this song, a James Bond-ish aura of slinky threat.
 “Ignite,” my favorite of the new songs,
comes next, its howling surf guitar and big rhythms blowing up until it fills
the room.

 

 

 

Then, just as I’m coming to terms with the Raven songs, the band pulls out two from the distant past – “My
Tornado” and “Attack of the Ghost Riders” – which make it clear what they’ve
left behind.  “Attack,” in particular, is
blown up to massive proportions by booming drums and exploding fireballs of
feedback. “It goes something like this…” Foo whispers in the midst of “Ghost
Riders,” and a tidal wave of noise builds behind her, carrying the song and the
show into a whole other space. The band closes its main set with delicate
doo-woppy “My Time’s Up” from the current album. The encore, which follows
closely, is “Forget That You’re Young” and a cover of the Stone Roses’ “I Wanna
Be Adored.” The whole thing is over by 11 o’clock, but it’s a good show, and I
don’t think anyone feels cheated.

 

The main take-away is that the Raveonettes are as good a band as
they’ve ever been live, way tighter and more effective than they were the last
time I saw them and benefitting from the larger sound that comes with two
drummers (or, in some songs, a drummer and an extra guitar player). Their new
album is a shift in style which not everyone’s going to be on board with, but
there are some good songs on it. And, in any case, even the older material
sounds better than it ever has in concert. Rave on, indeed.

 

 

Jesse Sykes Preps New Studio Album

 

Self-produced and
self-released, it’s due Aug. 2.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

BLURT faves Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter are
prepping their fourth album, Marble Son, for an Aug. 2 release. It was
co-produced by Jesse Sykes and longtime bandmate, Phil Wandscher, along with engineer,
Mell Dettmer, and will be released on their own label, Station Grey Records.
The band: Sykes Sykes (vocals, guitars), Phil Wandscher (guitars, organ, moog,
casio, lap steel, vocals), Bill Herzog (bass, vocals) and Eric Eagle (drums, percussion, vocals).

 

Though oft saddled with the “alt-country” tag, of
late, Sykes and Co. have moved into slightly heavier and darker territories. Marble
Son
exemplifies a band at their creative pinnacle – heavier and more
complex than previous records; the music resonates among the parallel worlds of
the avant-garde and the timeless. Sykes’ voice and sometimes-mystical leanings
and her band’s incomparable musical rapport, culminate in what the New York Times has described as
“spellbound music, rapt in fatalism and sorrow.” Sykes’ trademark thematic
darkness and acclaimed songwriting have never been more present; yet Marble
Son
speaks of evolution, which Sykes describes as, “a sonic mirror of the
most chaotic, turbulent times of our lives, where beauty triumphed, and the
tears that spilled became this record”.

 

Marble Son is the sound of a band evolving personally
and sonically – urgently expanding to mirror the chaos of modern culture, while
not forgetting the seemingly hushed beauty of the past. The result is more
relevant than ever and as Jesse puts it “we have never been closer to
sounding like the sweet hereafter than with what we have created here.”

 

 The band will celebrate the release of Marble Son with a special show in Seattle
on August 4th, and will be joined by special guests, The Sadies.
That will be followed by a couple of performances at the Pickathon Festival in Portland, OR.
More tour dates will be announced soon.

 

 

Track listing:

 

1) Hushed By Devotion

2) Marble Son

3) Come To Mary

4) Servant Of Your Vision

5) Ceiling’s High

6) Be It Me, Or Be It None

7) Pleasuring The Divine

8) Weight Of Cancer

9) Birds Of Passerine

10) Your Own Kind

11) Wooden Roses

 

 

Beastie Boys Stream “Filthy” Version of New LP

See, America? That’s what happens when you turn into a
PG-rated society.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Having learned that the clean version of their
new Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (out May 3 on Capitol) had leaked moments
after the album’s historic video stream viewed live from Madison Square Garden
by over 100,000 fans, Beastie Boys have responded in kind with a full length
stream of the explicit version of  the album at http://hotsaucecommittee.com/

 

 

The band commented on the leak, “Good
people, unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control, the ‘clean’
version of our new album… has leaked. So as a hostile and retaliatory
measure with great hubris we are making the full explicit aka filthy dirty
nasty version available for streaming on our site. We hope this brings much
happiness, hugs, and harmony. Enjoy Kikoos for life!”

 

 

Smashing Pumpkins w/Deluxe Reissues

 

Slated to run at a
decidedly leisurely pace, through 2013…

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Starting this fall (exact date TBA), EMI Music will commense
an extensive campaign that will see the Smashing Pumpkins albums from 1991-2000
reissued in fully remastered deluxe versions, each with bonus material. With
the full support and guidance from the band, EMI will roll out the global
catalog campaign with the band’s 1991 debut album GISH, 1993’s SIAMESE DREAM
and the 1994 compilation album PISCES ISCARIOT. 

 

Then in 2012 EMI will reissue 1995’s nine-times-platinum double
album MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS, 1996’s five-disc box set THE
AEROPLANE FLIES HIGH and 1998’s ADORE. 

 

In 2013, their 2000 albums MACHINA/THE MACHINES OF GOD and MACHINA
II: THE FRIENDS & ENEMIES OF MODERN MUSIC will be unified into one
package.  A best-of compilation will also
be released in 2013.

 

This news comes as the Pumpkins have announced they will
head into the studio in May to record  OCEANIA
— “an album within an album” — as part of their in-progress 44-song work TEARGARDEN
BY KALEIDYSCOPE, nine songs of which have already been released online for free
(with two elaborately packaged EPs available in stores).  The 10 new songs from OCEANIA
will be released online at once in September (exact details TBA). The band is
also eyeing a possible return to the road this August. 

 

Meanwhile, the band will release one more song (“Owata”)
next week (details TBA) from TEARGARDEN BY KALEIDYSCOPE before they take a
break to record OCEANIA.

 

Billy Corgan commented on the reissue campaign: “What makes
the deal with EMI groundbreaking is the band has secured the right to all
unreleased materials and will be in charge of any additional releases based on
our discretion. In essence, the band has the keys to the warehouse and can
release whatever we want, when we want it. EMI totally supports this right, and
they are our partners in it.” 

 

Colin Finkelstein, COO of EMI Music North America, added, “The
Smashing Pumpkins is a hugely influential and groundbreaking band,
and EMI Music is pleased to partner with them for this global catalog
initiative.  We’re excited to work with Billy Corgan to release remastered
and expanded editions of the band’s visionary albums, including previously
unreleased recordings, and for EMI Music to exclusively distribute other gems
from the vaults, as sourced by Billy.”

 

 

Fire Sale: MySpace On the Auction Block

 

Do the math:
$580,000,000 – $100,000,000 = a $480 mil. loss.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Media emperor Rupert Murdoch has put MySpace up for sale,
apparently having tired of the once-popular property having become the go-to
item for people seeking a reliable butt of Web 1.0 and tech jokes. (As in, “That
thing’s so clunky, slow and difficult to operate, it’s the MySpace of [insert website, widget, app, etc. of your
choice
].”)

 

Billboard.biz is reporting that Murdoch’s News Corp, which
bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million, is “looking for initial bids for
MySpace by the end of the week… [and is] looking for minimum offers of $100
million.”

 

While there are reportedly “interested parties” the report
notes, significantly, that the number of them has “declined” since February,
when News Corp let potential investors take a peek at the books.

 

Or maybe those suitors simply walked away from the deal when
they took a peek at the actual MySpace site, which remains among the clunkiest,
slowest, and most difficult to operate of all music and media outlets in the
known cyber universe. (The average person can go to the bathroom and take a
satisfying dump in the time it takes a MySpace page to open up.) And hey, how
about those nifty music players! Maybe it’s just time to shoot this filly and
put her out of her misery – the glue factory awaits.

Photo Exclusive: Big Four Festival

 

 

Photo Exclusive: Big Four Festival

 

Blurt shutterbug Scott Dudelson attended the Big Four festival in Coachella last week (April 23) and came back with an
admittedly awesome trove of photos of the bands: Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and
Metallica. Bang your heads against the wall while you peruse the selection. You
can contact Dudelson right
here
.

 

By Scott Dudelson

 

Metallica:

 

Slayer:

 

Megadeth:

 

Anthrax (including setlist):

 

 

 

Blurt Releases Official BirthCertificate

 

Because it just seemed the right thing to do…

By Fred Mills

Responding to critics’ relentless claims, BLURT magazine on
Wednesday produced a detailed birth certificate (pictured, above) in an
extraordinary attempt to bury the issue of when and where we were born (respectively: 2008; and, America) and confirm our legitimacy to publish about music and culture in this country.

We declared, “We do not have time for
this kind of silliness.”

Going the extra mile, BLURT also released a trove of additional documents in order to prove beyond all doubts that we really, really are an American magazine, born and published in America. See those documents, below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indie Cred Test

(Chunklet Industries)

 

www.chunklet.com

 

BY MARY LEARY

 

Something laugh-out-loud
funny pops up nearly every four or five sentences… or nine, or ten. And one
hopes that 196 pages of socio-cultural opinions, jibes, and data will whet the
appetites of sociologists, culture mavens, and the book’s apparent target
audience: new crops of “hipsters” anxious to see where and if they fit into the
world of coolness (along with aging hipsters who still need assurance). Note
that I chose the words, “may be of
interest.” For, despite the paragraphs and paragraphs of labor and love that
were apparently devoted to this tome by the team at Chunklet, The Indie Cred Test is a bit of a
clusterfuck. It may not even be sure what it wants to be when it grows up.

 

The first problem: The Indie Cred Test is too in love with
itself. Does anyone really want to read seven pages that are thick with
“preliminary missive”? Sure, it’s a chance for Chunkleters like Chad Baker to
get off some good lines, as in: “The struggle for acceptance while conveying
the idea that you have no desire whatsoever to be accepted can be quite the
tricky venture.” But the project’s overblown aspects may be related to the next
problem: Too many cooks without a butt-kicking, executive chef. A “preliminary
missive” that had been pared into half its size/the real meat would make folks
more likely to stick around for (and perhaps even get stoked about) the “test” pages.
And, while I’m on that “editor” thing, typos are a problem. While squinting at
some of the tiniest type I’ve ever strained to see, in the midst of some really
dense paragraphs, the last thing I want is to read, re-read, then re-re-read a sentence.

 

How about the ideas around
which The Indie Cred Test was formed?
The news here isn’t that great, either. The dilemmas repeatedly advanced by the
editors – no “cool” left now that everything’s accessible via the Internet
(and, before that, MTV, VHI, and other outlets); no joy in Mudville now that
Converse sneakers are available in a rainbow of choices at Delias (and
“punk/heavy metal/rocker” clothes have been available even longer, at every
mall with a Hot Topic) – these are, at least in this corner, dead issues. Sure,
these shifts have wreaked some havoc, or at least confusion, on the self-images
of scores of hipsters.

 

The thing is, the more
mature, self-realized, or just plain real (something TICT rarely considers) of us have moved on. For it’s the essence of
a thing (the rhythms, inspirations, and sentiments driving sonic art from Delta
Blues through The Obits’ latest) that really matter, eh? And once you know who
you are, and that you love Delta Blues as much as, say, some dork-ass thing
like Doris Day singing “Que Sera, Sera” or Lesley Gore wailing “It’s My Party” (everyone
has a few guilty pleasures), it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks
about it. As far as I understand it, these are processes which have usually
resolved themselves by the time a “hipster” hits his or her mid-late thirties. They’ll
almost certainly have resolved themselves by the time a “hipster” reaches the
forties, when the realization that everyone dies – some sooner than later –
puts things in even clearer perspective, and it becomes apparent that what we do, along with the health of our hearts,
is essentially important – not that I’d
know anything about being over 40
.

 

Also, I get the sense that the
seeds of this project were germinated at some pretty good parties that probably
happened some time within the last 3-10 years, when the issues mentioned above
felt more fresh, bothersome, and in need of discussion.

 

But there really does need to
be some Indie-Cred advocating here. And that’s ‘cause, as with Mad Magazine and National Lampoon, I sometimes enjoy the sound of Chunklet Industry
writers’ voices as much as they do – the ratio’s not as high as with Mad or the Lampoon, but those were different, less insecure times –
ironically, this book’s point, or a major one. So while these writers are far
too often at pains to show it’s a joke, it’s not a joke, it’s sort of a joke,
it’s a laugh riot, it matters, and/or it doesn’t, they still seem to have gotten-and
generated-lots of jollies while coming up with endless possible answers to a
boatload of questions. In the “general profile” test section, for instance,
under the question, “How Many Pets Do You Have?” these are some of the choices:
“None (allergies),” “None (court order),” “1 to 3 (a few),” “3 to 5 (a
gaggle),” and “I have no human friends (a shitload).” Not only did those
choices feel pretty accurate, but I found one to be a major crack-up — okay,
it was “None (court order).”  Not funny
at all if that’s your next-door neighbor, or you, before you hit a Pet
Collectors’ Anonymous meeting. But funny as hell if you’re just sitting there
reading it.

 

While the book attempts to
include women, the choices (or guesses) about female hipsters are often so lame
that it’s pretty clear this book was mostly written for male hipsters, about
(and directed toward) male hipsters. Not
that there’s anything wrong with that.
I did mention Mad Magazine, and the Lampoon,
after all. No, there’s nothing to say this doesn’t belong at the top of the
heap of current bathroom reading material, not to mention a fabulous
conversation-starter for interminable subway and bus rides. Those are likely to
happen in the types of cities where people still argue about this sort of
thing… I guess. And you did know I was kidding when I mentioned Doris Day and
Lesley Gore, right? Of course you know those references were thrown out ironically… um, right?

 

 

Lollapalooza Announces 2011 Lineup

Somewhat dubious headliners mix it up with a genuinely inspired batch of 2nd tier acts.

By Fred Mills

Although mutterings along the line of “finally jumped the shark” are already being heard in regards to this year’s decidedly minstream slate of Lollapalooza headliners – Coldplay, Eminem, Muse, and Foo Fighters – punters can rest assured that the annual event remains typically eclectic and forward-thinking, based on the rest of the performers. Among them:

My Morning Jacket, Beirut, Crystal Castles, Girl Talk, Bright Eyes, Arctic Monkeys, Death From Above 1979, Lykke Li, Sleigh Bells, Cults, Best Coast, Atmosphere, the Kills, Local
Natives, the Mountain Goats, Smith Westerns, Explosions in the Sky,
Cee-Lo, Big Audio Dynamite, the Drums, Black Lips, the Pains of Being
Pure at Heart, Dom, Friendly Fires, Tennis, Wye Oak, Modeselektor, Jay
Electronica, Titus Andronicus, Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley.

Head over to the official Lolla site for al lthe details. It’s the festival’s 20th anniversary of the Perry Farrell-founded event, and this year there will also be a 15,000-capacity dance tent featuring the likes of Farrell, Girl Talk, Pretty Lights and Kid Cudi. It all happens Aug. 5-7 in Chicago.

 

Report: William Elliott Whitmore Live DC

April 17 at the Sixth
and I Synagogue: fans were there for the opening act, not the headliner.

 

BY ROXANA HADADI ; PHOTOS BY ADAM FRIED

 

William
Elliott Whitmore isn’t dumb. He knew that barely any people at the sold-out
Chris Cornell show on April 17 at Sixth and I Synagogue in Washington, D.C.,
were there to actually see him, an opener added at the last minute to Cornell’s
nationwide acoustic tour.

 

In
fact, the seven songs Whitmore performed during his brief, 28-minute opening
set were “all new to most of you,” Whitmore joked while introducing a new song,
“Don’t Need It,” which was only truly “new to like, four of you.” Modest and
somewhat self-deprecating? That’s just Whitmore’s way – the blues- and
folk-influenced, gritty singer-songwriter is more than accommodating during his
shows, thanking everyone and acknowledging his luck at being able to play music
for a living. Nearly everyone at Sixth and I that Sunday night had no idea who
Whitmore was, but did that stop the guy from delivering a blisteringly good set
that makes us look forward to his upcoming July release, Field Songs? Of course not.

 

 

 

Whitmore
packed a lot of punch into his seven songs, despite performing with just a kick
drum, guitar and banjo. Sitting on a stool and bathed in eerie red light,
Whitmore started off with no preamble, launching right into “From the Cell Door
to the Gallows,” from 2003’s Hymn for the Hopeless. “Well, I
heard six shots ring out in succession/ And it broke the night air like a china
plate/ And in my knife blade I saw my own reflection/ And the devil was at the
front gate,” sang a scruff-sporting Whitmore, who barely paused before then
jumping into “Diggin’ My Grave,” from 2005’s Ashes to Dust.

 

By
now, people were kind of getting into it – there were fewer questioning murmurs
from the audience, more appreciative nods – and Whitmore got more intense, too,
his voice taking on an anguish that was mirrored in the urgent thump of his
kick drum. The acoustics in Sixth and I were amazing that night, allowing every
strummed chord and sung verse to perfectly reach the audience, and Whitmore
benefited greatly from that clarity. “Oh, how I wish that I could have stayed,”
Whitmore lamented, “But the hole is made/ Oh, lord, the hole is made.” After
the regretful song’s conclusion is when Whitmore chose to make his move,
unleashing his customary charm on the audience: “Thank you, friends,” Whitmore
gushed. “Thank you for listening.”

 

But
if you’ve seen Whitmore before, you know he’s not just polite – he can be
undeniably heart-warming, too, as listeners learned when Whitmore announced his
next song would be “about the first hobo I ever met,” the “coolest motherfucker”
Whitmore knew. “This song is for Hub Cale,” Whitmore announced, transitioning
into “Lift My Jug (Song for Hub Cale),” also off Ashes to Dust, the only truly up-tempo song in his lineup that
night. An homage to Hub Cale’s free spirit while simultaneously an attack on
the institutions that made him that way – the anti-The Man sentiment is typical
in Whitmore’s songs, which often sound like a John Steinbeck novel set to music
– “Lift My Jug” won the audience over, even as its lyrics grow more depressing.
“I made my livin’ shovelin’ coal/ Paid my dues for 12 long years/ Then one day
they let me go/ And that time it sure was rough/ And the labor sure took its
toll,” Whitmore sang, and when the audience clapped afterward, they were
certainly more welcoming than they’d been just minutes before.

 

 

 

 

And
really, minutes is all the audience had left with Whitmore – three songs in, he
was already about halfway done with his allotted time. Next up was “Hell or
High Water” off 2009’s Animals in the
Dark
, which Whitmore prefaced by admitting it was the “first time I’ve been
in a synagogue – anyone else?” To be fair, though, he doesn’t “get into
churches much,” either. Then there was “Hard Times,” also from Animals in the Dark, which Whitmore
dedicated to a friend named Chris – “Uh, yeah, different Chris,” he said
sheepishly, referring to Cornell – and used as an opportunity to explain the
benefits of personal challenges and obstacles (“You don’t want an easy life, ‘cause
then you wouldn’t have any character, you know?”). And then there was “Don’t
Need It” from the coming-soon Field Songs,
which followed Whitmore’s everyman theme: “I’m gonna keep the rain off my head/
I’m gonna keep the mosquitos from getting fed/ I don’t need them at all/ No, not
at all,” he crooned, a tantalizing glimpse into the kind of
angry-workers’-field-songs fans will be getting in a few months’ time.

 

And
just like that, nearly 25 minutes had passed, bringing Whitmore to his closer,
“Old Devils,” the first single from Animals
in the Dark
. As he extolled against politicians’ and corporations’ evils
and how they bring about “desperation, death and despair” for everyone else,
Whitmore got more and more frenzied, snarling final lines like, “I guess I will
confess that I’ve been suffering/ The old devils are at it again … Who knows
what they’ll do?” Who knows, indeed.