Monthly Archives: February 2012

Kim Fowley is Gravely Ill

 

But he hasn’t lost his
dark sense of humor… as the video below demonstrates.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Say the name “Kim Fowley” to any longtime music scenester
and you’ll provoke a knowing grin – the guy who discovered/formed the Runaways
and was a close to rock ‘n’ roll’s version of a real-life Zelig has always
gotten reactions. Sometimes negative, sometimes positive, but never with
compromise.

 

So the rock impresario and provocateur is, as a number of
people suspected, very ill these days. Awhile back it was rumored that he was
on death’s door, and that may or may not be true. What is true, however, is
that he posted a video clip two days ago to YouTube that shows him in the
hospital preparing to have surgery for bladder cancer recall. It’s grim, but funny,
with Fowley pledging not to be defeated.

 

Godspeed, Kim.

 

Video + MP3: New Elfin Saddle

 

Ace material from
upcoming album…

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Steeped in the eclectic tradition of the Constellation
Records family, Elfin Saddle is set to
release Devastates, their third full-length, on March 6. The multidisciplinary
art ensemble offer, in the label’s words, “a dynamic and affecting cycle of
passionately-engaged protest song… Jordan and Emi, the group’s founding core,
give us this self-produced video for ‘The Wind Come Carry’ – the elegant and
reverent rallying call that closes this utterly unique album of unsettling yet
deeply hopeful DIY folk music.”

 

 

Elfin Saddle “The Wind Come Carry” from Constellation Records on Vimeo.

 

 

 

You can also nab a free
MP3 of the equally sublime Elfin Saddle track “The Changing Wind”:

 

 

Rufus Wainwright Teaser + Tour Info

 

Hyped, but heavy.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

In heavy rotation at the BLURT yacht of late: Rufus
Wainwright’s forthcoming Out of the Game,
the Mark Ronson-produced platter due May 1 from Decca. Wait’ll you see what
happens when we put the good Mr. Wainwright on the couch with Contributing
Editor A.D. Amorosi. Meanwhile, here’s a teaser for the album and first single “Out
Of The Game”:

 

 

 

 

Wainwright, whose long-awaited opera Prima Donna opened in Brooklyn at
the BAM on February 19th, calls his new album, “the most pop
album I’ve ever made.” Collaborator/producer Ronson added, “It’s the best work
of my career.”  Uh-huh. Actually, we’re inclined to believe both of
them, based on the music in hand. Recorded in Brooklyn, New York
in the fall of 2011, the twelve songs are hook-laden, memorably arranged tracks
reminiscent of Rufus’ early work.   And in true diva-like fashion,
the spring tour itinerary is perilously restricted, so better jump on those
ticket websites pronto, kids.

 

 

Tour Dates:

 

5/9/2012 – Brooklyn, NY
– BAM
5/11/2012 – Oakland,
CA – FOX THEATER

5/12/2012 – Los Angeles, CA
– ORPHEUM THEATER

5/13/2012 – San Diego, CA –
HUMPHREY’S  

 

 

First Look: Tucson’s Gabriel Sullivan

Available now on the Fell City
label (www.gabrielsullivanmusic.com)
None of This is Mine is a windswept,
twanging, Latino-rocking masterpiece from the young Old Pueblo musician (and his big band Taraf de Tucson), a frequent
collaborator with Calexico, Giant Sand and Marianne Dissard.

 

By Fred Mills

In 2009, songwriter and multiinstrumentalist Gabriel Sullivan released his
debut album By the Dirt and instantly
established himself as one of the most promising artists to emerge from the
fertile Tucson
music scene since Calexico. That he frequently collaborated with members of
that band and its extended family – and more recently, with Marianne Dissard
and Howe Gelb/Giant Sand – was no coincidence. In his skillful and oftentimes
provocative marriage of blues, gospel, country and indie-rock to the indigenous
Latin and border culture flavors of the Southwest, Sullivan was clearly
simpatico with his fellow Old Pueblo sonic adventurers. (Read the review of By the Dirt here.)

 

As Sullivan himself told this writer in a subsequent interview, his musical
restlessness and willingness to stir the melting pot is undoubtedly the product
of being exposed to multiple styles of music while growing up in Tucson. “It’s got
something for everyone,” he said, of his hometown. “I think anyone who plays
music here, whether they’re conscious of it or not, reflects Tucson in a lot of ways. On top of the
unbelievably inspiring landscape, the simple life that comes with Tucson makes playing
music something you can do very easily, and truly enjoy. The musicians are
tight knit, the bands are incestuous, we all share underwear. There’s nowhere
like it in the world.”

 

 

 

Now comes None of This is Mine, a
wildly inventive project boasting a huge, 20+ cast of characters, aka Taraf de
Tucson (which shrinks down to a manageable 8 members when performing live). The
album’s drenched in Latino rhythms and flourishes, yet true to Sullivan’s
nature, those are rendered with a delightfully perverse sense of impurity: the
track “Cumbia Del Torero” is instructive, a hybrid melange of mariachi horns
and Balkan beats with hints of Caribbean and ska rhythms slipping in and out of
the mix as Sullivan leads the fray, singing in Spanish. Likewise, “Que Dolor”
is a multihued riot of sound, suggesting a group of Kodo drummers
unceremoniously swept up, deposited
in the middle of a drunken Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, and commencing
to jam lustily with the assembled guitarists, percussionists and horn players.
It’s the recording studio equivalent of Sullivan leading a motley gypsy crew
from city to city, performing for their meals – and perhaps indulging in some
surreptitious larceny behind the
scenes to boot.

 

 


Gabriel Sullivan & Taraf de Tucson – The Rust, The Knife (Audio Sample) by Le Pop Musik

 

Two tracks in particular offer insight into the Sullivan heart and the Taraf
soul. “None of This is Mine” is a bluesy, Spaghetti Western-flavored dirge for
nylon-string guitar, weeping pedal steel, strings and horns. “I’m the right
face in the wrong place, and now I’ve got no right to return,” sings Sullivan,
in his signature Tom Waits-esque bawl, with a mixture of dread and regret,
adding, “these are not the kind of bones you fall asleep in – and none of this
is mine.” Then there’s magnificent closing number “The Rust, The Knife”:
tearing a page or two directly from the Ennio Morricone songbook, in particular
the whistling, chanted background vocals and brisk, low-twanging baritone
guitar, it’s the windswept soundtrack
to an imagined slice of film noir (including guest Billy Sedlmayr’s spoken-word
interlude providing narrative) wherein Sullivan offers ominously, fairly
smacking his lips, “It takes a steady hand to take a life… the blood beneath
the foot of thee… the blood, the sweat, the tears, the rust, the knife.” Pure
sonic cinema, the song is at once reverential and subversive, further evidence
of Sullivan’s skill at incorporating his influences into a wholly unique
musical identity.

 

Incidentally, Sullivan has also released a companion album, Where the Bad Ones Go, a mostly solo set
recorded at home in two days, featuring everything from guitar and piano instrumentals
to country-esque blues and norteño ballads. It’s also available from Sullivan’s
Fell City Records label – check the link above.

 

 

 

 

Replacements' Slim Dunlap Suffers Stroke

 

Guitarist joined the band in 1987 for Pleased to Meet Me and was a mainstay until the ‘mats split in ’91.

By Fred Mills

Minneapolis paper the Star Tribune is reporting that Slim Dunlap, late of the Replacements and still a musician on the Twin Cities scene, suffered a stroke this week and is intensive care. Wife Chrissie posted the details at Facebook:

 

“Bob is in the SICU at HCMC. I am not going to sugarcoat this —
this morning he suffered a right middle cerebral artery stroke. He then
fell and hit his head, resulting in a left vertebral artery dissection
and a right subarachnoid hemorrhage.


“The good news is that he is sharp and aware, his speech is fine,
and all of the nurses and doctors have commented on his unique sense of
humor. The bad news is that he cannot move the right side of his body
and will be in for some serious rehab. They will be giving him more
tests tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage. I will try to post
updates as we learn more. Louie will be with him all night and I will
be back there tomorrow. We don’t need a thing but your good wishes for
his full recovery.”

 

Godspeed with that recovery, Slim.

 

Women's Christopher Reimer R.I.P.

 

Guitarist for much-admired Canadian band was also touring member of the Dodos.

By Fred Mills

Sad news for indie rock fans: Christopher Reimer of Calvary-based band Women passed away in his sleep yesterday (Feb. 21), reports Pitchfork (via The Calgary Herald ).

No cause of death has been announced yet. The guitarist was only 26 years old. Women reportedly broke up in the fall of 2010 in the wake of an onstage fight, but were later said to have simply gone on hiatus. Since then, however, the members have worked with other groups.

Replacements’ Slim Dunlap Suffers Stroke

 

Guitarist joined the band in 1987 for Pleased to Meet Me and was a mainstay until the ‘mats split in ’91.

By Fred Mills

Minneapolis paper the Star Tribune is reporting that Slim Dunlap, late of the Replacements and still a musician on the Twin Cities scene, suffered a stroke this week and is intensive care. Wife Chrissie posted the details at Facebook:

 

“Bob is in the SICU at HCMC. I am not going to sugarcoat this —
this morning he suffered a right middle cerebral artery stroke. He then
fell and hit his head, resulting in a left vertebral artery dissection
and a right subarachnoid hemorrhage.


“The good news is that he is sharp and aware, his speech is fine,
and all of the nurses and doctors have commented on his unique sense of
humor. The bad news is that he cannot move the right side of his body
and will be in for some serious rehab. They will be giving him more
tests tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage. I will try to post
updates as we learn more. Louie will be with him all night and I will
be back there tomorrow. We don’t need a thing but your good wishes for
his full recovery.”

 

Godspeed with that recovery, Slim.

 

Incoming: New Mynabirds LP

 

Listen to
the new single “Generals” HERE. Album is due Jun 6 on Saddle
Creek.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

 

Following 2010’s critically acclaimed debut What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the
Flood
and a year on the road touring as part of Bright Eyes,
singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn teamed up with producer Richard Swift again and
emerged with GENERALS, a sophomore album fully armed. In place of the Zen
meditations found on the Mynabirds’ first album, GENERALS is filled with armies
of stomps and claps, sweeping full spectrum orchestrations, and moments that
range from intensely personal pleas to shout-out-loud protests with teeth.

 

 

[Read the 2010 BLURT
interview with Burhenn right here.)

 

 

GENERALS is both a protest record and concept album. It’s fueled by a full decade of Burhenn’s
political frustration and aimed at finding a revolutionary yet pacifist way in
a world where, these days, it seems warring comes quick. Musically you can hear
echoes of early PJ Harvey, politically-charged Nina Simone and Low-era David
Bowie. It gets down and hip hop dirty, flirts with African melodies and
rhythms, goes four-on-the-floor for all out dance jams and has plenty of
percussion. Burhenn even plays drums herself on a couple of songs, and a
5-gallon bucket in homage to DC
street Go-Go on another.

 

Lyrically, GENERALS sings the voice of the collective
frustration, then moves beyond that. “It was important for me that this
record made sense of my own anger and turned it into positive energy,”
Burhenn says. “I needed it to be transformative – of both the individual
and the body politic. It’s as much a meditation on Walt Whitman’s hope for America as
Gandhi’s directive to ‘be the change you want to see in the world.'”

 

The album’s name comes from a Richard Avedon photo entitled
“Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution.” Looking at
the portrait of upper class ladies in their pristine satin gowns, Burhenn considered
her own supposed eligibility to be a member of DAR and thought about what true
revolutionary American women look like. The lineage of women that have stood up
to injustice for well over a hundred years – women like Sojourner Truth, Rosa
Parks, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf – they get their hands dirty. And Burhenn
wanted to pay tribute to that.

 

In conjunction with the release of the album, Burhenn is
launching a portrait project called The New Revolutionists
(www.thenewrevolutionists.org). In an election year when so much time, energy
and money will be spent on political contests, Burhenn wanted to shine a light
on women making a difference – often on shoestring or even nonexistent budgets
– in their own communities all over America, whether they’re making headlines
or not.

 

The Mynabirds will tour the US in advance of their album
release this March, including dates in the midwest, on the west coast, and down
south at SXSW.

 

Watch Video: Obama Sings the Blues

The First Bro sits in with the King Of The Blues…

By Fred Mills

It’s steadily headed to “viral” status this morning (and has also been uploaded to YouTube by multiple users already): President Obama caught last night on video singing a snatch of blues standard “Sweet Home Chicago.”

At a big blues bash filmed by PBS last night at the White House, a star-studded band that included BB King, Buddy Guy, Booker T, Mick Jagger and members of the Derek Trucks Band serenaded the assembly, and then at the end Guy calls Obama up to the stage. Upon taking the mic, he launches into the beginning of the song, swaps a line or two with King, then departs the stage. Shades of the President’s Al Green serenade.

PBS.org indicates that “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” will be aired on this coming Monday, Feb. 27, on PBS.

Women’s Christopher Reimer R.I.P.

 

Guitarist for much-admired Canadian band was also touring member of the Dodos.

By Fred Mills

Sad news for indie rock fans: Christopher Reimer of Calvary-based band Women passed away in his sleep yesterday (Feb. 21), reports Pitchfork (via The Calgary Herald ).

No cause of death has been announced yet. The guitarist was only 26 years old. Women reportedly broke up in the fall of 2010 in the wake of an onstage fight, but were later said to have simply gone on hiatus. Since then, however, the members have worked with other groups.