Monthly Archives: June 2011

Read: Jon Langford’s Skull Orchard

 

Published recently by
Verse Chorus Press, it’s a primo Langford primer, in words, music and images.

 

By Lee Zimmerman

Jon Langford’s prolific career seems to know no bounds. A
superb solo practitioner, as well as the musical mainstay of such skewed
country punk outfits as the Mekons, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, the Three Johns
and the Waco Brothers, he’s also an artist and an author of considerable merit.
Both an insurgent and an expatriate, his restlessness and ambition have
emblazoned his reputation as a daring provocateur for the better part of the
past 30 years.

 

Skull Orchard
Revisited
, his second collection of commentary, consolidates all the
elements and incidentals that make Langford such a fascinating character. An
ostensive glance back at his Welsh roots, it boasts a variety of prose,
photographs, paintings and songs, the latter of which retrace his near classic Skull Orchard album in a dramatically
different guise. The literary entries from Langford and his brother David, a
novel A through Z primer on Welsh history and culture, the autobiographical
introduction, and Langford’s first attempt at fiction provides a whimsical yet
insightful portrait of a renaissance man in the full flush of a creative
sprawl.

 

 

 

Unlike some musicians who turn to painting to indulge their
ego as much as their muse, Langford’s artistic outpour is driven by genuine
sense of purpose. Many of the paintings in his portfolio once graced album
covers and the combination of realism and fantasy is both striking and surreal.
The text is equally insightful, and Langford displays a knowing combination of
wit and whimsy. As far as the music on the bonus CD, suffice it to say it’s
still a prime consideration and here’s it’s as effusive as ever. His ability to
skip between genres – a bit of pub rock here, a dash of reggae there, a men’s
chorus, assorted players and Langford at the helm throughout – effectively
redefines his classic Skull Orchard,
even adding four more songs to enhance it further.

 

Few artists could offer such a perfect primer for the
novice, while still treating fans to such an impressive companion package. In
assuming the role of a renaissance man, Langford plays the part perfectly.

 

 

 

 

First Look: New Jackie-O Motherfucker

 

Just ‘cos we like typing that name out… Earth
Sound System drops next week via the Fire
label.

 

By Mike
Shanley

 

The
aggregation known as Jackie-O Motherfucker doesn’t want to limit themselves to
an easily described set of music, so they do complete turnabouts with virtually
all six tracks on their latest album, Earth
Sound System
. The final product can both unnerve and captivate, though not
at the same time. As far as consistency, well that’s another story.

 

Two of
the six songs reside in a sleepy, summery abode where Galaxie 500 used to live.
“In the Willows” has a drowsy aura, full of guitars that continue to
reverberate long after the chords have been struck. With vocals that sound like
an even flatter version of Dean Wareham, all that’s missing is the climactic
guitar solo. But even at seven minutes, the song doesn’t miss it. “Dedication”
continues the journey back to the Noise New York studio. This song’s gargled
backwards guitar solo could have originated there under Kramer’s guiding hand,
and it almost makes up for the song’s single-line lyric.

 

 

For
“Raga Joining” and its counterpart “Raga Separating,” the Mothergrabbers either
let someone else into the studio or chucked their rock gear for a menagerie of
turntables, synth drums, bass clarinet and percussion. The best free improv
should involve interaction but these pieces -second and fifth respectably –
sound like separate tracks of random noodling superimposed without any regard
for listenability. There is no reason to stay tuned for nine minutes of it.

 

On the
bright side, the free drumming approach spills into “Bring It To Me,” which
follows “Raga Joining,” and it makes a strange combination, with finger-picked
guitars, that works. “Where We Go” offers a different study in excess: the
song’s primal beat quickly gets buried in overloaded fuzz bass as they charge
into some proto-garage rock. It’s hard to tell, but there’s a riff in there
somewhere. And it’s safe to say the band probably likes it that way.

 

Chicago Street Named after Sam Cooke

 

Legendary soulman receives posthumous honor. We should
all do it the Sam Cooke Way.

 

Had he lived, Sam Cooke would
have turned 80-years-old in January of this year.  His life and legacy
were celebrated with the naming of 36th Street, Chicago, Illinois as Sam Cooke Way last weekend on June 18.
 

 

The location of Sam Cooke Way in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, is birthplace to some
of Chicago’s
most talented artists in music and the associated arts. It is where the Cooke
family settled after migrating from Clarksdale, Mississippi in the early
1930’s, initially residing at 3527 Cottage Grove Avenue and later moving to 724
E. 36th Street.  Young Sam Cooke attended the neighborhood’s DoolittleElementary School and,
in 1948, graduated from Wendell Phillips High School.

 

 

 

The unveiling of the
new Sam Cooke Way street sign took place with the participation of
the office of 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns,  3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell,
Sam Cooke’s younger brothers L.C. and David Cooke as well as other Cooke family
members, legendary radio personality and “Mayor of Bronzeville” Herb
Kent,  Cook Country Commissioner Jerry Butler (himself a soul music
legend, who proclaimed June 18, 2011 as Sam Cooke Day in conjunction with the
street naming ceremony), and Chicago Blues Museum CEO Gregg Parker and well
over 400 Sam Cooke fans and fellow musicians.

 

[Photo credit:  Stefanie Mielke]

 

Pictured above, from left:  Gregg Parker/CEO
Chicago Blues Museum, LC Cooke (seated)/Sam Cooke’s brother, David Cooke, Sam’s
youngest brother and Jerry Blake, a childhood friend of the Cooke kids growing
up.                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
   

 

Free MP3: New Lindsey Buckingham

 

 

Track comes from
latest solo album, due out in September.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Lindsey Buckingham – you  may have heard of him – releases a new solo
album, Seeds We Sow, on Sept. 6, and
he’s making the title track available as a free download today. Check it out:

 

 

 

 

Speaking on Seeds We Sow, Buckingham
says, “This might be the best work I’ve ever done. I think it’s an excellent
representation of what I do. It shows a certain maturity and musicianship and I
just feel like I have a lot of tools in my musical vocabulary from which to
draw that are again the product of the choices I’ve made. It’s on my own terms.
This is very much from the inside out and I hope I never stop doing that.”

 

 
The album marks Buckingham’s first true DIY release in which he wrote and
performed every song on the record and produced and mixed them as well. 
Just as his guitar style on Seeds We Sow is more mature and refined, so too are his lyrics, “I think the lyrics over the
years have actually gotten better because they’ve gotten a little, I don’t want
to say obscure, but more poetic in the way they’re created,” he says, adding,
“It’s a mysterious process even to me.”

 Buckingham’s 31-city North American tour in support of the album launches
on September 9 in Nevada and continues through October 25 in Napa, CA:

Fri.-Sat., Sept. 9-10  RENO, NV Nugget Casino 
Mon., Sept. 12  BOISE, ID    Egyptian Theatre
Tues., Sept. 13   SALT LAKE CITY, UT The Depot
Wed., Sept. 14  DENVER, CO University of Denver  Gates Hall
Fri., Sept. 16  MINNEAPOLIS, MN Pantages Theatre    
Sat., Sept. 17  MILWAUKEE, WI  The Pabst Theater
Sun., Sept. 18  CHICAGO, IL  Vic Theater
Tues., Sept. 20  PITTSBURGH, PA Carnegie Music Hall
Thurs., Sept. 22  PHILADELPHIA, PA Keswick Theatre
Fri., Sept. 23  WESTHAMPTON BEACH, NY Westhampton Beach Performing Arts
Ctr. 
Sat., Sept. 24  RIDGEFIELD, CT  Ridgefield Playhouse
Sun., Sept. 25  BOSTON, MA  Wilbur Theatre
Tues., Sept. 27 NEW YORK, NYThe Town Hall
Thurs., Sept. 29  MORRISTOWN, NJ Mayo Performing Arts Center
Fri., Sept. 30  BALTIMORE, MD  Goucher
College       
Sat., Oct. 1  DURHAM, NC   Carolina Theatre of Durham
Mpn., Oct.  3  JACKSONVILLE, FL Florida Theatre
Tues., Oct. 4  FORT PIERCE, FL   Sunrise Theatre
Wed., Oct. 5  CLEARWATER, FL  Capitol
Theatre      
Fri., Oct. 7 ATLANTA, GA   Symphony Hall
Sun., Oct. 9 HOUSTON, TX Verizon Wireless Theatre 
Wed., Oct. 12  PHOENIX, AZ  Celebrity Theatre
Thurs., Oct. 13   LOS ANGELES, CA Royce
Hall       
Fri., Oct. 14  LAS VEGAS, NV   Aliente Resort   
Sat., Oct. 15  PALM DESERT (PALM SPRINGS), CA  McCallum Theater
Mon., Oct. 17  ANAHEIM, CA Grove of Anaheim   
Tues., Oct. 18  TURLOCK, CA    Turlock Community
Theatre       
Wed., Oct. 19   SAN FRANCISCO, CA  The Regency
Center  
Sat., Oct. 22  VANCOUVER, BC  The Ctr. in Vancouver for Performing
Arts
Sun., Oct. 23  SEATTLE, WA  Little Creek Casino
Resort        
Tues., Oct. 25  NAPA, CA Uptown Theater

 

[Photo Credit: Jeremy Cowart]

 

Why Pandora Is Awesome

 

Drink up, with Kelly
Clarkson and Jon Bon Jovi!

 

By Perez Mills

 

Hey, all you stock speculators who coughed up the big bucks
at the recent Pandora Internet Radio offering, only to see the price nosedive
shortly afterwards! Here’s a piece of p.r. spam that arrived in the BLURT in-box
this morning that should make you feel (cough)
even more secure in your purchase – the “diet portfolio” thing.

 

A wise man once said that there is nothing that goes
together better with internet radio than tasty iced tea. Don’t laugh – just a
few years ago nobody would have imagined that a sneaker manufacturer would be
issuing limited edition 7″ singles of underground rock bands either. We just cued up Lipton Rock and the first song that played: “Foxy Lady” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. ‘Nuf said.

 

***

 

 

100% Natural Lipton
Iced Tea and PANDORA Bring Fans Exclusive 
Interviews with Kelly Clarkson, Usher, Jon Bon Jovi,  Cage the Elephant, Keith Urban, Train and
More

 

 

 

WHAT : Top music
artists share intimate, first-hand experiences of what natural music means to
them as part of “The Natural Side of Music” from 100% Natural Lipton
Iced Tea and PANDORA internet radio. 

 

 

In addition to the artist interviews,100% Natural Lipton
Iced Tea is offering another natural take on music through four unique PANDORA
stations:  Lipton PopLipton Hip HopLipton Country or  Lipton Rock.

 

 

WHERE :  “The Natural Side of Music”
homepage
and  Facebook.com/liptonicedtea

 

 

WHY : The new
100% Natural Lipton Iced Tea is now available in four flavors: long-time fan
favorites, Green Tea with Citrus and Iced Tea with Lemon, as well as two new
flavors-Iced Tea with Blueberry Pomegranate and Green Tea with Passionfruit
Mango. 

 

 

The Diet portfolio includes a new Diet Green Tea with
Watermelon which joins the beloved Diet Green Tea with Citrus flavor, both free
of artificial colors and flavors.

 

 

 

NC’s Megafaun Announces New Album

 

See promo teaser
trailer, below.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Megafaun have confirmed the Sept 20 release on Hometapes of ‘Megafaun,’ the follow-up to ‘Gather, Form & Fly,’ which BLURT
reviewed thusly:

 

For all the talk about freak folk, new
folk, roots and other permutations of traditional mores, the pure patchwork
shuffle of acoustic instrumentation and back porch harmonies continues to have
a difficult time piercing the modern mélange.  So it’s somewhat noteworthy
to find Megafaun making a studied attempt to recapture that campfire glow with
a fondness for banjo, dulcimer, fiddles, aching acoustic guitars and forlorn melodies. 
Where Bon Iver, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, the Espers and Earlimart have
established a tentative grasp on gothic designs, Megafaun makes the most of
this vintage motif, with songs such as “Kaufman’s Ballad,” “The
Fade,” “Tides” and “The Process” harkening back to a
time when amplification wasn’t yet in vogue and music was procured by and for
the masses. Nevertheless,
Gather, Form & Fly, the trio’s sophomore set, plays with that
purity to some degree, washing the kaleidoscopic “Impressions of the
Past” and “Darkest Hour” in a swirl of sundry effects before
commencing with more earnest engagement.  So too, the emphatic blues stomp
of “Solid Grown” tows the borderline between vagabond blues and a
more audible angst.  Nevertheless, unadorned offerings like “The
Longest Day,” “Columns” and “Guns” (before its
dissolve into dissonance) may be the closest things yet to those rambling
hootenannies and fervent protest pleas of yesteryear.  Somewhere in the
cosmos, Woody Guthrie, John Fahey and Mimi Farina are likely all nodding their
heads in unanimous agreement.

 

 

The new album’s 14 tracks range from raw, unhurried rock and
roll to cacophonous percussive blasts, from brassy instrumental free jazz to
mournful delta blues. The band–Joe Westerlund and brothers Phillip and Bradley
Cook–recorded the album late last year at April Base in Fall Creek, WI,
the studio of former bandmate Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), and produced it
themselves along with BJ Burton.

 

Megafaun from Hometapes on Vimeo.

Megafaun’s roots reach back to Eau
Claire, WI, the
hometown of all three members. With Justin Vernon they formed the band
DeYarmond Edison and moved to North
Carolina. That band broke up in 2006, but from its
ashes rose Bon Iver and Megafaun, two of the most critically acclaimed indie
projects in music today (DeYarmond Edison played a reunion show at SXSW this
year). Over the course of two previous LPs and one EP, the band has toured the
country with The Mountain Goats, Bowerbirds, Akron/Family, and more. 

In addition, Duke
University recently
commissioned Megafaun to create and perform ‘Sounds of the South,’ a concert
based on the rural folk songs collected by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax during
his early travels. The trio reimagined the music through their own brand of
experimental Americana and collaborated with Richmond’s Fight the Big Bull avant-jazz ensemble,
acclaimed songwriter Sharon Van Etten, and Vernon
on the project, which was presented for three nights in Durham
and again at Cincinnati’s
MusicNOW Festival to raves.

Megafaun will tour extensively this fall with dates to be announced soon.

 

Lingua Musica/Blurt Say: Kellin Watson!

 

Western North Carolina singer-songwriter
extraordinaire interviewed at Echo
Mountain studios.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Here’s a good ‘un you should check out: Dreamspider Publicity‘s Erin
Scholze, part of the Lingua Musica web program crew, interviewing prominent Asheville
singer-songwriter Kellin Watson
about her new album Halo of Blue. The clip was filmed by Jesse Hamm.

 

 

 

You can find out more details on Watson, including upcoming shows (July 2 in
Black Mountain, for starters) and how to get
the record at her official website: www.KellinWatson.com.

 

The videotaped conversation marks the latest in the recently-launched Lingua
Musica Interviews series and we’re looking forward to many more in the very
near future. (Previous installments include Lloyd Cole, Josh Phillips Folk
Festival, Dehlia Low, Ryan Montbleau, Joe Krown, Jon Dee Graham, Dubtribe, the
Rosebuds and Brian McGee.) BLURT is a proud co-sponsor of Lingua Musica and you
can expect to see our on-camera participation at various points to boot (you
have been warned). Please visit the LinguaMusicaAlive.com website, and meanwhile, check out the
video.

 

MP3: Tennis Covering Brenda Lee

 

In Europe
at the moment but headed to Lollapalooza…

 

By Blurt
Staff

 

When Denver
indie rockers Tennis debuted this past January with Cape Dory all the critics lined up to sing their praises, including
BLURT. Wrote our reviewer, “Rock/pop or not, these two make it work. The
songs snap, bounce and at times swirl away like Mary Poppins. Opener “Take
Me Somewhere” has this nifty middle part where it shifts gears, change
tempos and really kicks into 4th gear while “Marathon”
sounds like what an AM radio station would be playing now if they still played
music, and “South Carolina,” with Alaina’s double-tracked vocals and
that slight hint of fuzz on the guitars, makes for a real nice slice o’ cake. A
bit like She & Him for the lo-fi set (and this isn’t really that
lo-fi).  A Bahama Breeze, anyone?”

 

The band
has just unveiled “Is It True,” a Brenda Lee cover, and you
can nab it for free with just a few clicks of ye olde mouse:

 

 

 

 

 

Alaina
Moore explains why they chose the cover… “Brenda Lee has been a
great source of inspiration
for me. We stumbled across the song ‘Is It True’, a less popular single
she recorded later in her career and loved it not just for her more mature,
crackly voice, but for the randomly awesome inclusion of a very young
Jimmy Page on electric guitar. The song is such a jam, we
really enjoyed the chance to record it ourselves. Despite the limitations
of recording it on a 4-track cassette, and then  having to mix it in a pinch on an 11 year old
lap top, that crashed regularly, all the parts we love are
there.” 

 

 Tour Dates:

 

07/06/11 – London, UK
@ Cargo

07/08/11 – Kent, UK @ Lounge on the Farm Festival

07/09/11 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
@ Bitterzoet

07/11/11 – Munich, Germany
@ 59:01:00

07/12/11 – Berlin, Germany
@ Magnet Club

07/14/11 – Hultsfred, Sweden
@ Hultsfred Festival

07/15/11 – Copenhagen, Denmark
@ Littlevega Bar

07/16/11 – Helsinki, Finland
@ Tavastia

07/19/11 – Paris, France
@ La Maroquinerie

07/20/11 – Bordeaux, France
@ Le Saint Ex

07/21/11 – Barcelona, Spain
@ Apolo 2

07/23/11 – Moscow, Russia
@ Afisha Picnic

08/05/11 – Chicago, IL
@ Lollapalooza

 

Wilco Set Dates for Album, Tour

 

Also listen to two songs from the recently-released single, below.

By Fred Mills

Seems like it was only earlier this week when we were looking at photos of Wilco’s big Solid Sound Festival that took place last weekend – and also checking out a couple of audience-shot videos that had Wilco unveiling some new material from their next album. Wait – that WAS earlier this week…

So today the band made the formal announcement for The Whole Love, which is being released Sept. 27 via their homegrown label dBpm. In addition, a fall tour has been inked in, featuring Nick Lowe as the opening act. Lowe, of course, has already been on Wilco fans’ minds of late: his tune “I Love My Label” is covered on the B-side of the recent Wilco single.

1 Art of Almost
2 I Might
3 Sunloathe
4 Dawned on Me
5 Black Moon
6 Born Alone
7 Open Mind
8 Capitol City
9 Standing O
10 Rising Red Lung
11 Whole Love
12 One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)

 

Tour Dates:

09-13 Indianapolis, IN – Murat Theatre
09-16-17 Toronto, Ontario – Massey Hall
09-18 Montreal, Quebec – Metropolis
09-20 Boston, MA – Wang Theatre
09-22 New York, NY – Central Park Summerstage
09-25 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion 
09-27 Raleigh, NC – Raleigh Amphitheater
09-28-29 Atlanta, GA – Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center
10-01-02 Nashville, TN – The Ryman
10-04 St. Louis, MO – Peabody Opera House
10-05 Madison, WI – Overture Hall

 

 


Bjork Sets Out to Confuse Everyone

 

We’ll let you figure
out for yourself what the heck is going on. See below…

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Björk today announces Biophilia,
her most ambitious and interdisciplinary project to date, with the release of
lead single “Crystalline” exclusively on the iTunes Store worldwide (
www.itunes.com). Biophilia is a
multi-media project, comprising a studio album, apps, a new website,
custom-made musical instruments, live shows and educational workshops. 

 

Björk has collaborated with app developers, scientists,
writers, inventors, musicians and instrument makers to create a unique
multi-media exploration of the universe and its physical forces – particularly
those where music, nature and technology meet. The project is inspired by and
explores these relationships between musical structures and natural phenomena,
from the atomic to the cosmic.

 

The album’s lead single “Crystalline” is available on iTunes
now, with Biophilia Apps coming from
One Little Indian/Nonesuch Records.

 

The Biophilia live
show will have its world premiere on June 30 as part of the Manchester
International Festival. Björk will be in residence at the festival for a
three-week run which includes six intimate performances of her new songs at
Campfield Market Hall – her first UK dates in over three years. The
residency will also introduce companion apps, invented instruments and more.
For more information:  http://mif.co.uk/event/bjork-biophilia/

 

***

 

Biophilia comprises
five elements:

 

I. ALBUM:

The songs from Biophilia will be released as a traditional
10-track studio album later this year, available digitally and physically
across standard formats. The songs will also be featured within their
accompanying Biophilia Apps, but with a more stripped-down structure for
educational and game purposes, mixed by Damian Taylor and Björk. The album’s
first single, “Crystalline,” is available now. The groundbreaking director and
longtime Björk collaborator Michel Gondry is creating a music video for the
song.

 

II. APPS:

The Biophilia Apps are a collection of ten apps, one for
each song, which will be available via the central Cosmogony “mother
app,” coming from One Little Indian/Nonesuch Records.  This platform will serve as a
three-dimensional galaxy in which the initial apps appear as constellations,
and the others are added to the collection at regular intervals
thereafter. 

       Every app has
its own theme (in connection with its corresponding song) and combines a
natural element with a musicological feature. The layers of content in each app
include: an interactive game based on the song’s scientific and musical subject
matter, a musical animation of the song, an animated score, lyrics, and an
academic essay. The game enables the user to interact with musical elements of
the song and to learn about different musical features while creating their own
version; the musical animation and animated music score bring together
conventional and innovative ways of representing music visually; and the
academic essay explores the ideas behind each song and app and how they are
realized musically. 

       The Biophilia
Apps have been developed with a team chosen by Björk, comprising ten of the
most groundbreaking and commercially successful app developers working today.
The team is lead by Scott Snibbe Studio, creator of the bestselling apps
Gravilux and Bubble Harp, and includes the creator of Sim City, TouchPress
(pioneering designers behind the two top grossing apps Elements and Solar
System), and a host of award winning designers, animators and leading experts
in coding and encryption.

 

III. LIVE SHOWS:

The Biophilia live show will have its world premiere on 6/30
as part of the Manchester International Festival and continues as a three-year
world tour of six-week residencies in eight different cities. In each city
Björk will perform Biophilia twice a week, using the apps to play live a set of
custom built musical instruments and evoking an atmosphere similar to being
inside the app itself. For the rest of the week the venues will host a series
of music-education workshops in collaboration with local schools. 

       Björk has
commissioned a set of unique musical instruments to accompany her on the live
tour. The team who created these instruments include an English inventor, an
Icelandic organ builder and a graduate of MIT Media Lab. Among these creations
are four 10-foot pendulum-harps, in which the swinging motion plucks the
strings and illustrates the songs’ gravitational subject matter. There is also
a unique 10-foot pin barrel harp called the Sharpsichord, a midi-controlled
pipe organ and celeste (re-fitted with bronze gamelan bars), twin musical tesla
coils, a hang player and an award-winning 24-piece Icelandic female choir. The
Biophilia Live Show takes place in specially chosen spaces and museums, rather
than traditional music venues. Björk will perform in the round to audiences of
less than 2,000 people to create an intimate experience in which all audience
members are within 20-feet of the stage.

 

IV.  DOCUMENTARY:

A 90-minute documentary on the Biophilia project is
currently being filmed by Pulse Films. The film will be an exploration of
Björk’s creative process as she puts together the different elements of the
project. Here we will see her at work in the rehearsals for the live show, in
the studio working on the album, and through observational footage, interview
and demonstration we will discover how the project was conceived and realized.
Along the way we will also discover more about the fascinating relationship
between music and the natural world. The climax of this element of the film
will be the unveiling of her project; the premiere live performance of
Biophilia.  The documentary will be
broadcast later in the Biophilia campaign.

 

V. WEBSITE

www.bjork.com  has been re-launched for Biophilia, using the
very latest HTML5 technology. The site is now uniquely animated and interactive
to provide an artist website experience totally unlike any other. It features a
unique immersive 3D galaxy with versions that can be enjoyed on almost all
devices, and will be the hub for all Biophilia information.