Monthly Archives: June 2011

MP3: Track from New Mekons Album!

En route in September,
and not a minute too soon!

 

By Blurt Staff

 

The name is Ancient & Modern, and the game is…. The
Mekons! Due Sept. 27 on the beloved band’s reactivated Sin label, which
originally ran from from 1985 – 1988 , putting out  Fear and Whiskey  though  Ghosts of American Astronauts. It’s coming in conjunction with the
venerable Bloodshot also in the mix.

 

You might remember the label for its cool Sun
Records-derived logo.

 

And stylistically, Ancient
& Modern
has a lot in common with the original Sin releases, with
echoes of Mekons Rock and Roll

 

It’s
pretty awesome.

 

[Photo Credit: Francesca Allen]

Gear Alert! ZT Club & Lunchbox Acoustic Amps

 

Mighty
mini-muscle is the name of the game, from the folks at ZT Amplifiers (www.ztamplifiers.com)
.

 

By Rick Allen

 

The Lunchbox Acoustic (pictured above) is a 200
watt two channel amplifier with ¼” and XLR mic inputs that retails at about
$400.00 and has a 6 ½” speaker and weighs 12 pounds. Right. And it spits out
Kennedy half dollars every time you plug it in. Oh yes, there’s also reverb and
dedicated gain for each channel.

 

The idea, you see, is to have a portable amp that
can accommodate two instruments or one instrument, usually an acoustic guitar,
and a vocal microphone in a small portable package and still be heard above the
thumpy clatter of mugs and the buzz of rehashed ballgames events down at the
local. Funny huh?

 

The really funny thing is that it’s all true. The
Lunchbox Acoustic does have all those features and it can make its presence
felt in a mid-size venue and sound great doing so. Tested an 80-100 seat bar
and competing with a Phillies/Reds game using a piezo equipped Larriveé OM
model and a  Martin M18 with MiniFlex
2Mic system along with a low-end Behringer mic and a classic Shure SM-58 the
Lunchbox caught the crisp highs and fat lows of the Martin and the warm
mid-range of the Larriveé equally well. You have to be careful of positioning
to avoid feedback but the 3 position anti-feedback control went a long way
toward quashing that problem.  Of course
you’re dealing with a fairly unidirectional sound but it doesn’t take long to
find a spot that lets you hear yourself without intrusive feedback and is
within easy reach of the topside controls.

 

 

The unit has internal/external speaker
capabilities, effects loop and headphone inputs, a 1/8″ stereo auxiliary jack a
115V to 230V switch and a detachable power cord. On its trial runs it attracted
as many compliments for its great sound as it did curious inquiries;
particularly from other musicians. Modeled after the Lunchbox for electric
guitars it is about the same height and width and about 2 ½ times the depth of
an actual school lunchbox and seems pretty study. But at that 12 lb weight and
those dimensions you aren’t likely to drop it and you’ll also be able to get
out of the riskier gigs pretty darn quick.

 

 

The Lunchbox Acoustic’s big brother is the Club and
it may be even more impressive. Can a 22-pound single 12″ speaker amp yoked to
a Telecaster cut the mustard in a serious borderline honky tonk on a Saturday
night when it’s trying to run with a full band? Or in a 350 capacity barn of a
club where sometimes even the band has to ask to have the jukebox turned down?

 

Let’s say that since the acquisition of the Club
two beloved amps, a long sought after bargain bought tweed Fender Blues Deville
4X10 and a faithful for almost three decades Music Man 2X12 will now be finding
new homes. Anyone who knows that amps actually get heavier as the night passes
– usually in reverse proportion to the dough and the ease of the gig – and has
to haul their own stuff in and out of the club and up and down the basement
stairs home might be willing to make more than a few compromises in exchange
for a functional 22 pound amp.

 

Telecasters can be serious tone freaks though and
the guitar is so versatile that finding the right amp is a perpetual quest for
some players. The Vox 130, the Music Man, the Fender Deluxe, Twin, Blues and
Hot Rod Deville and Vibrolux are among the top choices for Tele players and
each is unmatchable on its own way. But the Club handles the bluesy overdrive
and mellow jazz tones available and the country twang that a good Tele is
capable of delivering. Add a tube or overdrive pedal like the Bad Monkey used
on the Club’s test outing and the sound is smack in the middle of “nobody knows
but you and you’re not bugged by it-land.”

 

 

The amp has the reverb, input and output jacks,
effects loop, headphones, volt switching and internal/external speaker
capability the lunchbox has and it has a very cool 1950s early space age look
to it and with an average $550.00 retail sticker within buying range for most
working players.

 

 

 

You can take a look at all sides of both the
Lunchbox Acoustic and the Club as well as the rest of the ZT line at ZT’s product page: http://ztamplifiers.com/products. The ZT website has some demos that can
give you an idea of what the Club sounds like, and Nick Bennett of the Zut Alors
has a great clip of him playing his 25th Anniversary model
Stratocaster with his dad Richard, a highly respected Nashville session player
and a member of Mark Knopfler’s band, on pedal steel with both playing through
a ZT Lunchbox at the Zut Alors website: http://thezutalors.bandcamp.com/track/blame-waltz.

 

There is almost no way to hear or read about
either the Club or the Lunchbox Acoustic and not feel you are being oversold. When
you check out either in its element you are likely to think quite the opposite.

 

Read: Bob Mould’s Autobiography

 

See a Little Light:
The Trail of Rage and Melody, published by Little, Brown and Company, not only
fills in the gaps about the Husker Du frontman’s story, it provides a
heretofore unglimpsed view of the mind behind the music.

 

By Sam Baltes

While most musicians get eclipsed by the shadow of their
youth, Bob Mould is anomalous. With a résumé that includes co-founding the
seminal Husker Du, fronting Sugar, a critically lauded solo career, and serving
as a World Championship Wrestling scriptwriter, it’s clear that Mould disdains
stagnation, and this memoir (co-written with Michael Azerrad) attests to his
inexhaustible ability to produce compelling material.   

 

While Mould’s abysmal youth is no secret, getting the story
from the source provides a better understanding of the man and the impetus
behind his music. Born in a rural New
York town under the roof of a capricious alcoholic,
Mould learned early on to be “Hyper-vigilant” — this entailed maintaining
constant focus on every variable in his environment. A self-described “golden
child” with an aptitude for numbers, he was the mortar of his family structure,
and strove to extinguish altercations before they conflagrated into domestic
violence. At one point in his childhood, Mould was sexually abused by a
babysitter, and he ascribes this as a partial catalyst behind the emotional
problems that afflicted him later in life. As Mould progressed into adolescence
he became aware of his homosexuality and developed a love for punk rock/booze.
These advents led to social alienation, and after learning that a gay
schoolmate was disemboweled and hung from a tree in a nearby forest, Mould
became obsessed with desire to “get out of this place.” After leaving his
hometown to attend college in Minneapolis,
Mould was consumed by depression and anger, and when meeting two individuals
who shared his musical tastes, he formed a band in which he was able to
articulate his frustrations.

 

Bob Mould is a name synonymous with Husker Du, and part of
the allure of this memoir is the prospect of a firsthand look at the band that
he shared with bassist Greg Norton and drummer Grant Hart. While there has been
no paucity of words devoted toward Husker in recent years, previous attempts at
chronicling the band’s history have been hindered by ambiguity concerning the
last days of the band. Seeing that Mould was at the band’s helm, his account is
concise and devoid of extrapolation. He describes with absolute clarity the
band’s metamorphosis from “bright white radio static” to a maelstrom of
apoplectic fury/melody, the drudgeries of touring (à la Get in the Van), and the eventual deterioration of the band
dynamic. Adding to Mould’s captivating narrative are anecdotal interactions
with other prominent musicians of the era (ex. Bad Brains crashing in Hart’s house only to smoke his stash and leave an
anti-gay note). Mould is also candid about his substance abuse during this
period, and describes himself as a “high-functioning alcoholic” during the
majority of his Husker years.

 

Although proud of his run with Husker, Mould isn’t
nostalgic. He describes it as an “eight-year ground war that started with me
and some guy smoking Thai stick in the basement of a record store.” He is fair
when chronicling his relationships with bandmates Hart and Norton, and avoids
resorting to the ad hominem when
voicing his beefs with the two. While only a third of the book is allotted to
the group, Mould gives a near panoptic history that fills in gaps left from the
Husker Du chapter in Azerrad’s earlier book, Our Band Could Be Your Life, as well as Andrew Earles’ recent Husker Du: The Story of the Noise-Pop
Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock
. Seeing the band through Mould’s
perspective is illuminating, and his hitherto untold account of the group
dissolving in Hart’s kitchen with the latter’s mom suggesting to “only play on
weekends” dispels the fog surrounding the band’s finis.

 

There is more to Bob Mould than his stint with Husker
though, and he doesn’t founder when chronicling his subsequent years. After
Husker’s disbandment, a sober Mould sequestered himself in a remote farmhouse,
underwent an aesthetic transformation, and emerged with the first record
(1989’s Workbook) in a string of
critically successful solo albums. Mould
describes this time of his life as artistically fertile, albeit depressing– he
was uncomfortable with his sexuality and had unresolved personal issues. The
formation of Sugar thrust Mould back into the public eye, and affirmed that he
hadn’t yet shot his creative bolt. But Mould soon tired of touring, and retired
from music to focus on his personal life. Work has a propensity to find Bob
Mould though, and shortly after his retirement he became a WCW scriptwriter.
Even if you harbor no interest for the inner-workings of the professional
wrestling industry, the absurdity of the environment Mould chronicles will keep
you enthralled.

 

The last third of this book is allotted to Mould’s immersion
into gay culture, and his triumph over personal demons.  He details his initial dating awkwardness,
and confessions such as “I could command an audience of sixty thousand…but
wasn’t sure how to act at the gay coffee shop” are touching. Mould also
describes his infatuation with electronica, and his transformation from “miserablist”
to bacchanalian DJ is humorous. At the age of 50, Mould appears to have found
something not unlike happiness.

 

The book reads well, and despite Mould’s attention to
detail, the flow is never encumbered by minutiae. Azerrad’s organizational
talents no doubt helped the concision of his biography, but Mould is a good
writer in his own right. Husker fans can finally get the full story behind the
band’s most enigmatic member, and anyone remotely curious about Mould will burn
through this book. Bob Mould commits his entire being to his work, and this biography
is no exception. It’s heartfelt, informative, and you’d be hard-pressed to find
a more engaging music read this summer.

 

 

 

 

Mastodon Reveal LP Title, Offer Rarity

 

Album due out sometime
later this year; see summer tour dates below.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Mastodon have revealed the title of their new album: The Hunter, due out later this year
(date tba) on Reprise. Today they also announced six new song titles that will
appear on it: “Curl Of
The Burl,” “Dry
Bone Valley,”
“Blasteroids,”
“The Octopus Has No Friends,” “All The Heavy Lifting,” and “Stargasm.”

 

 

It’s the follow-up to 2009’s Crack the Skye and was recorded in the
band’s hometown of Atlanta as well as in Los Angeles with producer
Mike Elizondo. As with all of their albums, Mastodon, which is bassist/vocalist
Troy Sanders, guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds, guitarist Bill Keliher, and
drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor, decided “to take a completely different tack and
musical approach to the music on this album.”

 

 

Beginning
today, June 28, fans can log on to www.adultswim.com/singles to download a rare and previously unreleased song from the previous album’s sessions, titled “Deathbound,” as part of the
ten week 2011 Adult Swim Singles Program. The same destination will also offer
an amazing exclusive video for the song. This is the only place to see and hear
this Mastodon rarity.

 

 

Tour Dates:

 

06/28    
Patronaat                                             
Haarlem, HOL

06/29    
Metropol                                              
Hengelo, HOL

07/01     Roskilde
Festival                
               
Roskilde, DEN

07/02    
Sonisphere
Festival                            
Helsinki, FIN

*07/03   Glav
Club                                             
St. Petersburg, RUS

*07/04   Arena Moscow                    
               
Moscow, RUS

*07/06   Colos-Saal                                           
Aschaffenburg,
GER

07/08    
Sonisphere
Festival                            
Amneville, FRA

07/09    
Sonisphere
Festival                            
Stockholm, SWE

07/10    
Sonisphere
Festival                            
Knebworth, UK

*07/12  
C-Club                                  
               
Berlin, GER

07/13    
Metalcamp
Festival                           
Tolmin, SLO

07/14    
Hegyalja
Festival                               
Tokaj, HUN

07/16    
Sonisphere
Festival                            
Madrid, SPN

07/24     Heavy
TO                                            
Toronto, CAN

07/30     The
Gorge                                            
Seattle, WA          

(w/ Soundgarden, Queens of The Stone Age and Meat Puppets)

 

*denotes headlining show

 

 

The Rapture Announces Album, Tour Dates

 

Slated for late September release and preceded by
European tour.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

The Rapture returns to the
record bins on Sept. 26 with third album In
The Grace of Your Love
. It will arrive courtesy DFA, the label whose first
single was the band’s landmark “House of Jealous Lovers” 12″. The
labels’ co-founders James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy produced their debut album Echoes as
well.
DFA recently debuted the new album track “How Deep Is Your
Love?” via their White Out Session series.
The song was available as a limited edition 12″ and is currently sold-out but
will be reissued in July with a remix from The Emperor Machine.

 

 

DFA White Out Sessions – How Deep Is Your Love? by The Rapture from DFA Records on Vimeo.

 

 

According to the band, “The
writing and recording process for In The Grace of Your Love connected
them back to why they started playing music in the first place. Drummer Vito
Roccoforte explains that they ‘focused on the process more than the results. We
approached the album in a fearless manner, with nothing to lose.’ By
rediscovering the love for the recording process via each other and the new
dynamic of producer Philippe Zdar (Phoenix, Beastie Boys, Chromeo) and his
studio in Paris, the band worked in a far more focused period of time, unlike
on albums past.”

 

 

Track listing:

 

1) Sail Away
2) Miss You
3) Blue Bird
4) Come Back to Me
5) In the Grace of Your Love
6) Never Die Again
7) Roller Coaster
8) Children
9) Can You Find a Way?
10) How Deep Is Your Love?
11) It Takes Time to Be a Man

 

Tour dates (more tba):

 

08.20.2011 • Brooklyn, New York •
Music Hall of Williamsburg
08.27.2011 •
Charlesville Meziere, France

  • Cabaret Vert Festival

08.28.2011

  • Vevey, Switzerland Rocking Chair

08.30.2011

  • Amsterdam, Holland Melkweg

08.31.2011

  • Antwerp, Belgium Trix

09.02.2011 • Stradbelly,
Ireland

  • Electric Picnic Festival

09.04.2011 • Trinity, Jersey •
Jersey Live Festival 
09.05.2011

  • Paris, France Maroquinerie

09.07.2011

  • Manchester, UK Club Academy

09.08.2011

  • London, UK XOYO

09.09.2011

  • Berlin, Germany Berlin Festival

10.15.2011 • Curva 4 race track @ Foro Sol • Corona Capital 

 

 

 

 

Report/Photos: Wilco Solid Sound Fest

 

We sent photographer
Rich Orris to this year’s Wilco-curated Sold Sound Festival held last weekend in Massachusetts,
featuring the likes of Sic Alps, Here We Go Magic, the Handsome Family, Liam
Finn and of course Wilco themselves. Check out the swag he returned with,
below.

 

Photos & Text by
Rich Orris

 

(above) Jeff Tweedy of Wilco

(below) Wilco took over MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in
the Berkshires again this year to curate their own music and art festival.

 

Wilco held a press conference to talk about the second year of their festival
and their new record label dBpm that is based out of nearby Easthampton, MA.

Friday was particularly grey which accentuated the odd, but amazing, setting
for a summer festival in a reclaimed industrial facility formerly occupied by
Sprague Electric. Pictured here is Michael Oatman’s All Utopias Fell exhibit (http://massmoca.org/event_details.php?id=547).

Pajama Club kicked off the main stage on Friday evening featuring Neil Finn
(Crowded House) and wife Sharon Finn as well as Sean Donnelly and Alana
Skyring.

 

The Wilco letters that took over the ubiquitous MASS MoCA sign atop the museum
last year were brought out of storage to welcome you to Joe’s Field, home to
the main stage. Joe’s Field is named for Joe Thompson who serves as Director
and spearheaded the creation of the museum, which was 12 years in the making
finally opening in 1999.

 

The rain began to pour down right before Wilco’s Friday night set, but the band’s
diehard fans seemed unfazed.

John Hodgman and Justin Long (also known as PC and Mac) kept the audience
entertained while the band waited for the rain to die down.

 

Wilco started with a new song, but gradually dived back into their extensive
catalog and played until just about midnight.

 

John Stirratt

 

Nels Cline

 

The sun decided to come out on Saturday and the smaller two outdoor stages were
in full effect all afternoon.

 

The music started at noon and early fans were rewarded by being rocked awake by
Sic Alps in Courtyard D.

 

If you felt like a more gradual entry into your day, Courtyard C offered a more
laid back atmosphere including a full bar serving local spirits from Berkshire
Mountain Distillers and bottles of Lagunita’s Wilco Tango Foxtrot.

 

Handsome Family followed up Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion in Courtyard C
for a early afternoon of quality country.

 

Liam Finn, son of Neil Finn, rocked Courtyard D switching seamlessly between
guitar and drums.

 

Glenn Kotche joined Liam Finn’s band for as song as a second drummer and blew
the crowd away.

 

Here We Go Magic rocked Courtyard C later in the afternoon.

 

In addition to the music there were numerous art exhibits including Gunnar
Schonbeck’s Wunderments sharing a gallery with Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings.

Throwing Muses Prep Anthology and Tour

But wait, there’s more
– new album of original material being finalized as well.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Anthology is the
name, and anthologizing late, great 4AD band Throwing Muses is the game. Word
arrives today
that on Sept. 5, 4AD will celebrate the 25th anniversary
of the beloved Boston
post-punk band’s debut album by releasing a two-CD collection of album tracks,
B-sides, rarities and “personal favorites” compiled by founders Kristin Hersh
and Tanya Donnelly.

 

4AD advises that “track selection eschews most of the
singles in favor of personal favorites, and enjoys a non-chronological
sequence, which makes for interesting juxtapositions and encourages a
reassessment of the music.”  It will be
offered as a limited edition in a hardback book design. See the full track
listing, below.

 

 

Hersh was quoted as saying, about the impending release, “It’s beautiful and substantial, thanks to
awesome David Narcizo / Lakuna Design – a chunky, 28 page hardcover booklet and
two CDs – one CD consisting of a hand-selected retrospective track-list by
Kristin, David and Bernard, and on the other the collected B-sides, including
the original Lonely is an Eyesore version of ‘Fish’, the long-lost ‘Hillbilly’ and the original
version of ‘Back Road (Matter of Degrees)’. And yes, the release will be
supported by Throwing Muses live dates.”

 

Apparently there is also a
new Muses album slated to be released in the near future as well. It was cut by
Hersh, drummer Dave Narcizo and bassist Bernie Georges. You can find some
intriguing audiovisual details on all that at the group’s official website (including
downloadable demos) and their Vimeo channel.

 

Disc One:

1. Garoux Des Larmes

2. Finished

3. A Feeling

4. Marriage Tree

5. Fish

6. Hate My Way

7. No Way
In Hell

8. Colder

9. Tar Kissers

10. Mr. Bones

11. Limbo

12. Summer St.

13. Furious

14. Bright Yellow Gun

15. Pretty or Not

16. Flying

17. You Cage

18. Two Step

19. Vicky’s Box

20. Mania

21. Cry Baby Cry

 

Disc Two

1. Hillbilly

2. Same Sun

3. Amazing Grace

4. Cottonmouth

5. Cry Baby Cry

6. Manic Depression

7. Snailhead

8. City of the Dead

9. Jak

10. Ride Into The Sun

11. Handsome Woman

12. Like A Dog

13. Crayon Sun

14. Red Eyes

15. Tar Moochers

16. Serene Swing

17. Limbobo

18. If

19. Heel Toe

20. Take (Live)

21. Finished (Live)

22. Back Road
(Matter of Degrees)

 

 

Gear Alert! ZT Club & Lunchbox Acoustic Amps

 

Mighty
mini-muscle is the name of the game, from the folks at ZT Amplifiers (www.ztamplifiers.com)
.

 

By Rick Allen

 

The Lunchbox Acoustic (pictured above) is a 200
watt two channel amplifier with ¼” and XLR mic inputs that retails at about
$400.00 and has a 6 ½” speaker and weighs 12 pounds. Right. And it spits out
Kennedy half dollars every time you plug it in. Oh yes, there’s also reverb and
dedicated gain for each channel.

 

The idea, you see, is to have a portable amp that
can accommodate two instruments or one instrument, usually an acoustic guitar,
and a vocal microphone in a small portable package and still be heard above the
thumpy clatter of mugs and the buzz of rehashed ballgames events down at the
local. Funny huh?

 

The really funny thing is that it’s all true. The
Lunchbox Acoustic does have all those features and it can make its presence
felt in a mid-size venue and sound great doing so. Tested an 80-100 seat bar
and competing with a Phillies/Reds game using a piezo equipped Larriveé OM
model and a  Martin M18 with MiniFlex
2Mic system along with a low-end Behringer mic and a classic Shure SM-58 the
Lunchbox caught the crisp highs and fat lows of the Martin and the warm
mid-range of the Larriveé equally well. You have to be careful of positioning
to avoid feedback but the 3 position anti-feedback control went a long way
toward quashing that problem.  Of course
you’re dealing with a fairly unidirectional sound but it doesn’t take long to
find a spot that lets you hear yourself without intrusive feedback and is
within easy reach of the topside controls.

 

 

The unit has internal/external speaker
capabilities, effects loop and headphone inputs, a 1/8″ stereo auxiliary jack a
115V to 230V switch and a detachable power cord. On its trial runs it attracted
as many compliments for its great sound as it did curious inquiries;
particularly from other musicians. Modeled after the Lunchbox for electric
guitars it is about the same height and width and about 2 ½ times the depth of
an actual school lunchbox and seems pretty study. But at that 12 lb weight and
those dimensions you aren’t likely to drop it and you’ll also be able to get
out of the riskier gigs pretty darn quick.

 

 

The Lunchbox Acoustic’s big brother is the Club and
it may be even more impressive. Can a 22-pound single 12″ speaker amp yoked to
a Telecaster cut the mustard in a serious borderline honky tonk on a Saturday
night when it’s trying to run with a full band? Or in a 350 capacity barn of a
club where sometimes even the band has to ask to have the jukebox turned down?

 

Let’s say that since the acquisition of the Club
two beloved amps, a long sought after bargain bought tweed Fender Blues Deville
4X10 and a faithful for almost three decades Music Man 2X12 will now be finding
new homes. Anyone who knows that amps actually get heavier as the night passes
– usually in reverse proportion to the dough and the ease of the gig – and has
to haul their own stuff in and out of the club and up and down the basement
stairs home might be willing to make more than a few compromises in exchange
for a functional 22 pound amp.

 

Telecasters can be serious tone freaks though and
the guitar is so versatile that finding the right amp is a perpetual quest for
some players. The Vox 130, the Music Man, the Fender Deluxe, Twin, Blues and
Hot Rod Deville and Vibrolux are among the top choices for Tele players and
each is unmatchable on its own way. But the Club handles the bluesy overdrive
and mellow jazz tones available and the country twang that a good Tele is
capable of delivering. Add a tube or overdrive pedal like the Bad Monkey used
on the Club’s test outing and the sound is smack in the middle of “nobody knows
but you and you’re not bugged by it-land.”

 

 

The amp has the reverb, input and output jacks,
effects loop, headphones, volt switching and internal/external speaker
capability the lunchbox has and it has a very cool 1950s early space age look
to it and with an average $550.00 retail sticker within buying range for most
working players.

 

 

 

You can take a look at all sides of both the
Lunchbox Acoustic and the Club as well as the rest of the ZT line at ZT’s product page: http://ztamplifiers.com/products. The ZT website has some demos that can
give you an idea of what the Club sounds like, and Nick Bennett of the Zut Alors
has a great clip of him playing his 25th Anniversary model
Stratocaster with his dad Richard, a highly respected Nashville session player
and a member of Mark Knopfler’s band, on pedal steel with both playing through
a ZT Lunchbox at the Zut Alors website: http://thezutalors.bandcamp.com/track/blame-waltz.

 

There is almost no way to hear or read about
either the Club or the Lunchbox Acoustic and not feel you are being oversold. When
you check out either in its element you are likely to think quite the opposite.

 

Report: Dinosaur Jr. Does Bug in NYC

 

June 23 at NYC’s
Terminal 5, J, Lou and Murph finally do the ’88 classic justice.

 

By Brian Bowe

Back in 2007, when Dinosaur Jr. released its first reunion
record, Beyond, I conducted an
interview with bassist Lou Barlow in which we chatted about the band’s oeuvre –
and in particular, 1988’s Bug, which
has long been my own favorite Dino record.

 

Barlow disagreed with my assessment, suggesting that the
album was marred by a combination of festering tensions within the band and the
fact that he and drummer Murph had insufficient time to fully grok the material
singer/guitarist J Mascis was writing. (In a recent interview with Spinner,
Mascis expressed similar sentiments.)

 

Bug to me is
clouded by the vibe of that time,” Barlow said in 2007. “But then when I go
back and listen to it, I’m like ‘Jesus, there’s epic songs on that record.’ The
shifts the songs go through and the quality of the sound is pretty
intense.”

 

At the time, I thought Barlow was being too harsh in his
assessment. But after hearing Dinosaur Jr. play it from front-to-back at Manhattan’s Terminal 5 on
part of a six-date mini-tour, I’ve come to realize that he may have been right.
In that live setting, the trio showed that it has reached the level of
technical prowess and emotional maturity that those songs require, and the
result was astonishing. From the anthemic album opener “Freak Scene,” the band
dug deep into those songs and delivered renditions that showcased the intensity
to which Barlow was referring. The power of Bug resides in the way the songs contain equal parts beauty and bombast to offer an
impressionistic portrait of Mascis’ plaintive drawlings on love, friendship,
frustration and heartbreak. Live, they got that balance just right.

 

At Terminal 5, Dinosaur Jr. seemed like a band perfectly in
sync. Mascis swayed back and forth in feedback-soaked ecstasy; Barlow was
animated, turning pink-faced as he thrashed about while emphatically
strong-arming his throaty and muscular bass counterpoint. As the engine room of
the band, Murph propelled the music forward. With only a couple of exceptions,
the songs sounded better than the recorded versions.

 

This performance demonstrated again that now, some 27 years
after the band was founded, Dinosaur Jr. is experiencing a rich creative second
life.  The last album, The Farm, was easily in the top three of
Dinosaur’s career in this writer’s estimation, and their live performance get
better and better. With that in mind, it is appropriate that they decided to
revisit Bug to realize its untapped
potential.

 

One exception was the performance of the album’s closing
song, the brutal “Don’t.” With a guest vocalist recruited to save Barlow’s
vocal chords, the band churned through a seemingly eternal rendition. On the
record, the song is hard to listen to, but it is a perfect sonic distillation
of the frustration of unrequited like. 
In the live rendition, it seemed more like a novelty that went on too
long. But one reason why the song may have fallen flat is that the band has
resolved the question. At this point, it would be hard for them to ask the
musical question posed in the song – “Why don’t you like me?”- with a straight
face.

 

Fortunately, they must know that they are liked very, very
much. 

 

Watch: Le Tigre Live “Bomp” DVD

 

Who Took the Bomp? Le
Tigre On Tour, the musical documentary recently issued by Oscilloscope
Laboratories, is the sound – and sight – of victory. Watch clips, below.

 

By Selena Fragassi

At the opening of Who
Took the Bomp? Le Tigre On Tour,
keyboardist/vocalist JD Samson is seen
launching a toy missile rocket into the clear blue sky above a deadpan street –
one of many the band traversed in 2004 when they collected the meat of the
footage that makes up this long-awaited tour DVD.

 

Although the band (in addition to Samson, singer Kathleen
Hanna and guitarist Johanna Fateman) does toy around for much of film (see
pranks on Slipknot at Australia’s Big Day Out Festival and an irreverent take
on ‘80s workout infomercials), it is the explosive revelations about sexuality
and gender oppression that really launch this intimate documentary.

 

When it debuted earlier this year at the annual South by
Southwest Festival, seven years had passed since the trio had asked their
friend and lighting director Carmine to film them as they crisscrossed four
continents and seven countries in support of the release of This Island -y et much of the same
issues they had grappled with at the time (and even earlier in the dawn of the
riot grrrl movement Hanna pioneered with band Bikini Kill) are still very much
apparent.

 

“People are so threatened by women in bands,” comments
Hanna, noting how female musicians and bands are more harshly criticized than
their male peers. “We want to counter this notion of women being nice all the
time or making everyone comfortable.”

 

In one scene, Le Tigre is positioned in an Australia radio
station for a quick press jaunt, and much to the band’s dismay, all the host
could focus on was the ladies’ body art and the yawning topic of how Hanna
tipped off Kurt Cobain to the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” song name. Gone were the
hard-pressed questions about artistry or accomplishments that male counterparts
would be privy to.

 

In another scene, Fateman and Samson are filmed in a cab and
discussing their labored decision of whether or not to accept a free full-page
ad in now-defunct Jane magazine even
though their revision to add the word “lesbian” was shot down due to
conservative ad buyers. “That just really hurts my feelings,” laments Samson
(who Fateman refers to as the secret Justin Timberlake of the band for her
inherent desirability by all kinds). The women eventually turn down the offer.

 

 

If the reels of confessional interviews, constantly changing
hotel scenery, plane rides, and concert footage weren’t exhausting enough, the
old-fashioned oppression Samson, Hanna and Fateman have to deal with is surely
the downer of this film.

 

Yet the women are able to take it all in stride – and the
true pleasure of the film is the testimonials by legions of devoted fans that
the filmmaker finds on each stop of the tour.

 

“I’m not trying to be a role model but the person I wish
would have been there for me,” says Hanna in the film, yet that is the role
that many have blessed her with after witnessing her mission of letting
creativity trump cruelty and allowing a message to override materialism. As we
see Le Tigre get ready for a new performance, they let the newness of the
experience wash over them with a pre-ritual chant “Feminist! Lesbian! Vagina!”
before skipping out on stage in their matching spandex outfits to the wash of
cheers from the crowd.

 

If that isn’t victory, I don’t know what is.