Monthly Archives: April 2012

Video Premiere: New Wolf Larsen

 

Live
clip from amazingly gifted songstress, who recently released her debut album.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Considered by those who know her to be the lost daughter of
Leonard Cohen and Cat Power, Wolf Larsen has finally released her stunning
debut album Quiet at the Kitchen Door – a piece of work spun and incanted by a voice that will envelope you totally
and send a shiver down your spine. We’ve got a terrific live video of Larsen
performing recently at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco – check it out:

 

 

 

 

The story behind the album is in itself worth exploring in
detail, too. Larsen has privately been living with a devastating illness for
almost ten years.  After a surgical
accident in 2003 Larsen became seriously ill with a
constellation of autoimmune-like disorders and pain syndromes.  Despite excellent care and an exhaustive
search for a clear diagnosis and cure, none was ever found.  At twenty-one, Wolf found herself dealing
with a very mysterious and nearly disabling condition.  Ten years later, this is still the case. 

 

The nature of the illness requires an almost monkish
solitude to deal with the extraordinary pain and dysfunction.  This has led to long periods of isolation,
and frankly, despair – but Wolf has a funny quality about her.  The worse it gets, the deeper she digs to
pull something meaningful out of her hat. 
Her biography is not the biography of a sick person at all: she has an
MFA from Columbia University, she served as the personal blogger for Barack
Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, and when her health truly began to
collapse, she moved to San Francisco for alternative treatment and began her
own search for diagnosis and a cure, writing a book called The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness, which will come out
with Doubleday in 2013. 

 

But when alternative treatments were not enough, the real
transfiguration began.  Confronted with
something she could not change, Wolf began to turn back to music – a lifelong
source of personal alchemy, which had fallen by the wayside.  She pulled a long-dormant guitar out of the
closet, and began to teach herself the songs of Leonard Cohen.  Venturing out once a week to practice San Francisco famed open
mic at The Hotel Utah, she began to find a style, an ease in performance, and a
community of friends and musicians. 
Soon, channeling a deep well of emotion, she began to write her own
music.  Songs about hope, prayer, love,
death, God – and Jedi princess warriors. 
In very short order, she found herself with a following and a reputation
for bringing any noisy barroom to a standstill. 
Faintly plucking her nylon strings, she would begin to sing, and the
room would fall silent. 

 

With the assistance of a fleet of dedicated friends and
fellow musicians, the record was made mostly in Larsen’s bedroom over the course
of a year and a half. The result is a piece of art that preserves the
vulnerability of a girl singing at the edge of her bed – and at the same time
calls in the grand orchestrations that lift the songs into the realm of the
epic.

 

Incidentally, 15% of all proceeds are invested in the
education and business development of girls around the world.

 

MP3: Purity Ring’s Obedear from New LP

 

Youthful indiepopsters
make their bid for a mature debut.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Shrines, the debut
album from Halifax/Montreal-based duo The Purity Ring – composed of Corin
Roddick and Megan James – is set to drop July 24 on tastemaker label 4AD. The
band is described as “making lullabies for the club, drawing equally from airy ‘90s
R&B, lush dream pop, and the powerful, bone-rattling immediacy of modern
hip hop… Megan’s remarkable voice is at once ecstatic and ethereal, soaring
joyfully through Corin’s carefully chopped beats, trembling synths, and skewed
vocal samples.”

 

Despite the band’s young age (Corin is 21, Megan 24) and
short gestation (they formed in late 2010), Purity Ring betray a remarkable
maturity in their sound. You can hear “Obedear” from Shrines below, or on the band’s website: http://www.purityringsongs.com/ . It’s dreamy, yet intense, and it is literally exploding across the
blogosphere (so who are we not to jump on the bandwagon).

 

Report: Tom Petty & Heartbreakers Live in Colorado

 

April 19 at Broomfield’s 1st Bank Center the gang brought all the hits and then some.

 

By Tim Hinely

Mr. Petty and
his Heartbreakers come back to town playing two nights at the First Bank Area
in lovely downtown Broomfield, Colorado.
The Wednesday night show wasn’t sold out but this Thursday night one sure
was.  I have to admit, as someone who
sees a lot of live music but rarely goes to “concerts” the scene was a
throwback to one of my youth going to see bands at The Spectrum in Philadelphia.  You know what I mean: stoned teenagers (and
adults) nodding knowingly at each other before the start of the show,  the moribund haze of hazy smoke in da’ air,
dinosaur oldsters in their tattered concert tees,  women dressed in clothing that can only be
described as, well, ridiculous. And this was a Petty concert for chrissakes,
not Ozzy Osbourne. Petty, though around for years has plenty of street cred,
but still, I found a lot of these side situations laughable (not Petty’s fault,
though).

 

Petty and crew
hit the stage at 9:00 PM sharp, not one minute earlier or later, as these guys
are pros who have been doing this for years. T.P., always a sharp dresser, came
out in his usual black pants, black shoes, a paisley shirt with a black vest
over top and his stringy blond hair still his calling card with the rest of the
crew in tow: Benmont Tench still on keys, Mike Campbell on guitar, original
bassist Ron Blair on the bass, (all three with Petty since 1976 though Blair
dropped out and then  dropped back in
after Howie Epstein’s death in 2003) as well as drummer Steve Ferrone and 3rd guitarist Scott Thurston (the last two , though newer, have been around for
nearly two decades).  The band basically
played a greatest hits set and they sounded terrific, though Petty was really
the only one who moved about the stage, swingin’ his axe around, interacting
with the fawning crowd, etc.  The set
basically went like this: “Listen to the Heart” (then a string breaks….doh!),
“You’re Gonna Rock Me Baby,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Here Comes My Girl,”  “Handle With Care” (Traveling Wilburys
cover),  “The Best of Everything” (a song
Petty dedicated to Levon Helm who had just died the day before), “Something
Big’ (off Hard Promises),  “Have Love Will Travel (off The Last DJ, which Petty described as
one of his favorite songs he’s ever written) and “Free Fallin’.”

 

Petty then
stopped to tell the crowd a little story about the worst bar in the world, The
Cypress Lounge in Gainesville,
Florida. He went on to describe
the patrons of said places , “full of bums, criminals, hustlers and guitar
thieves” (which got a laugh of out of the crowd… Petty was making light of the
fact that several of his guitars got stolen just a few days before this
show).  He then came back with a cover of
JJ Cale’s “Travelin’ Light” and then an acoustic tune (“Time to Move
On?”).  They carried on the acoustic vibe
with a lighter version of “Learnin’ to Fly” (not my favorite version of this –
although it’s one of my favorite Petty songs – because it sounded too
Sting-ish). Then, towards the end, we heard “You’re So Bad,” “Refugee” and the
final song, the set-ending “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” which all sounded
great.  Encores? They probably played a
few but I headed for the exit after the last song. Sorry dear Blurt readers but
A) I wanted to beat the traffic out of the parking lot and B) I’m old and had
to get up in the morning for work.  Maybe
Rolling Stone or Spin will give you a more detailed live review but this is all I
got for you. Go ahead, call me names, curse me, ridicule me, throw rocks at me
it’s ok, you know why? Because I still love you all.

 

[Photo Credit:
Andy Tennille, via TomPetty.com]

 

 

Report: Tom Petty & Heartbreakers Live in Colorado

 

April 19 at Broomfield’s 1st Bank Center the gang brought all the hits and then some.

 

By Tim Hinely

Mr. Petty and
his Heartbreakers come back to town playing two nights at the First Bank Area
in lovely downtown Broomfield, Colorado.
The Wednesday night show wasn’t sold out but this Thursday night one sure
was.  I have to admit, as someone who
sees a lot of live music but rarely goes to “concerts” the scene was a
throwback to one of my youth going to see bands at The Spectrum in Philadelphia.  You know what I mean: stoned teenagers (and
adults) nodding knowingly at each other before the start of the show,  the moribund haze of hazy smoke in da’ air,
dinosaur oldsters in their tattered concert tees,  women dressed in clothing that can only be
described as, well, ridiculous. And this was a Petty concert for chrissakes,
not Ozzy Osbourne. Petty, though around for years has plenty of street cred,
but still, I found a lot of these side situations laughable (not Petty’s fault,
though).

 

Petty and crew
hit the stage at 9:00 PM sharp, not one minute earlier or later, as these guys
are pros who have been doing this for years. T.P., always a sharp dresser, came
out in his usual black pants, black shoes, a paisley shirt with a black vest
over top and his stringy blond hair still his calling card with the rest of the
crew in tow: Benmont Tench still on keys, Mike Campbell on guitar, original
bassist Ron Blair on the bass, (all three with Petty since 1976 though Blair
dropped out and then  dropped back in
after Howie Epstein’s death in 2003) as well as drummer Steve Ferrone and 3rd guitarist Scott Thurston (the last two , though newer, have been around for
nearly two decades).  The band basically
played a greatest hits set and they sounded terrific, though Petty was really
the only one who moved about the stage, swingin’ his axe around, interacting
with the fawning crowd, etc.  The set
basically went like this: “Listen to the Heart” (then a string breaks….doh!),
“You’re Gonna Rock Me Baby,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Here Comes My Girl,”  “Handle With Care” (Traveling Wilburys
cover),  “The Best of Everything” (a song
Petty dedicated to Levon Helm who had just died the day before), “Something
Big’ (off Hard Promises),  “Have Love Will Travel (off The Last DJ, which Petty described as
one of his favorite songs he’s ever written) and “Free Fallin’.”

 

Petty then
stopped to tell the crowd a little story about the worst bar in the world, The
Cypress Lounge in Gainesville,
Florida. He went on to describe
the patrons of said places , “full of bums, criminals, hustlers and guitar
thieves” (which got a laugh of out of the crowd… Petty was making light of the
fact that several of his guitars got stolen just a few days before this
show).  He then came back with a cover of
JJ Cale’s “Travelin’ Light” and then an acoustic tune (“Time to Move
On?”).  They carried on the acoustic vibe
with a lighter version of “Learnin’ to Fly” (not my favorite version of this –
although it’s one of my favorite Petty songs – because it sounded too
Sting-ish). Then, towards the end, we heard “You’re So Bad,” “Refugee” and the
final song, the set-ending “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” which all sounded
great.  Encores? They probably played a
few but I headed for the exit after the last song. Sorry dear Blurt readers but
A) I wanted to beat the traffic out of the parking lot and B) I’m old and had
to get up in the morning for work.  Maybe
Rolling Stone or Spin will give you a more detailed live review but this is all I
got for you. Go ahead, call me names, curse me, ridicule me, throw rocks at me
it’s ok, you know why? Because I still love you all.

 

[Photo Credit:
Andy Tennille, via TomPetty.com]

 

 

Burritos’ Chris Ethridge 1947-2012 RIP

 

Under-the-radar
bassist was a founding member of the Flying Burrito Brothers and additionally
played with many of the greats. He’s pictured in the photo above, top row
right.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Media reports are still sketchy at this point, but it’s been
confirmed that country-rock pioneer Chris Ethridge, who cofounded the Flying
Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons in 1969, is dead at the age of 65.
Apparently he entered a hospital last Thursday for undisclosed reasons and
subsequently passed away (exact date tba).

 

RollingStone.com indicated that Willie Nelson, with whom
Ethridge toured for a number of years, confirmed
in a tweet
the death (“he was a talented musician & we were honored to
call him Family”).

 

The Mississippi-born musician had hooked up with Parsons
prior to his stint with the Burritos, playing in the International Submarine
Band. Following the Burritos, Ethridge dived into a career of extensive session
work that included albums by Dave Mason, Ry Cooder, Graham Nash, Gene Clark,
Rita Coolidge and Nelson. One underappreciated project: the 1971 almost-supergroup
L.A. Getaway comprising Ethridge, early cohort Joel Scott Hill on guitar and
CSNY drummer Johnny Barbata (the group’s lone, self-titled album is a period
piece but still proto-Americana gem).

 

 

 

 

Report: Yuck + La Sera Live in San Fran

 

British combo returns
to the scene of the crime – the Independent night club – with a dizzying set of
psych-pop on April 15.

 

By Jud Cost

 

A huge screen begins to flicker with scattered images
resembling a Rorschach test done with Japanese brush painting as the band
strides briskly onto the stage of San
Francisco’s Independent night club. If you weren’t
quite sure who they were, “YUCK” appears onscreen in giant letters,
taller than any of its four musicians-Daniel Blumberg on vocals and rhythm
guitar, Max Bloom on lead guitar and vocals, bassist Mariko Doi and drummer
Jonny Rogoff.

 

His shock of frizzy red hair illuminated by the stage lights
as it droops across one eye, Blumberg resembles a question mark as he leans
over from the shoulders, twisting ever closer to the mic as though he might be
electrocuted if he happened to touch it. The sound of the band is electrifying,
only hinted at by its fine, self-titled 2011 debut album on Fat Possum. They may never be able to get the
cataclysmic rumble they create live down on wax, but they’ve come to the right
town with their mind-altering anthems. It’s a welcome “coals to Newcastle” return to the scene of the crime, the
re-ignition of the long dead pilot-light of the psychedelic blast furnace that
once reverberated through San
Francisco’s ballroom scene, 45 years ago.

 

With Doi dressed in a blue mini-skirt and shiny red pirate
go-go boots and Rogoff sporting the largest afro seen in these parts since the
heyday of hippie drummer Buddy Miles, the professorial-looking Bloom stands
stage right, tap-dancing around his battery of guitar effects-pedals. The fuzz,
wah-wah and reverb boxes get plenty of use tonight, as images of many of the
great psych/garage bands from the past 50 years flicker before your eyes. From
the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Ride and Cream to Butthole Surfers, the Jesus and
Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, Yuck may sound like all (or none) of them
depending on your frame of reference (and what you’ve ingested recently).

 

The vocals (mostly by Blumberg, but some by Bloom) float up
through this bubbling concoction to add a pinch of rich melody capable of
taking you in many different directions. “Thanks for coming out,”
says Blumberg, who asks how many people saw the band the last time they played
here. “We didn’t really know what to expect.” No doubt true, too, of
the audience, who got a real earful of an exciting young band on their way to
bigger things.

 

 

 

Tonight’s openers, La Sera, are a promising side-project of
Katy Goodman, bassist of the Vivian Girls. The quartet features jangling,
sun-kissed melodies with the guitarist sometimes dialing up penetrating
keyboard lines via special effects. Though her vocals were occasionally lost in
the mix, Goodman, peaking out from under her Barbara Manning-cropped red hair,
should be encouraged by the crowd’s positive reaction to stay on the yellow
brick road, pointed in this same direction.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don A Bonnie Prince Billy Condom for RSD

 

For the discriminating
sexually active indie rock aficionado, natch.

 

By John Holmes

 

Nothing like waking up to some morning would, and in this
instance the question is: Would you pull on a Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy jimmy cap
if the situation, er, arose? Drag city Records has the answer, as you can see
above and from the description
below. It’s all part of their contribution to this year’s Record Store Day, so
slip inside your nearest record emporium on Saturday and find out how many other
of your fellow randy deviants are in line to pay, those telltale circular ridges
decorating their wallets…

 

 

From Drag
City
(thanks to Pitchfork for the tip):

 

 

Hey, sex-brain! A
mouthful of breast (or man-ass!) tastes so good with mitt full of thigh (or
man-thigh!), doesn’t it now? But when it comes to making it past third base and
sliding deliriously into home, sweet loam, you better hop on the sex beat with
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, girly-man! You’ve heard about Wolfroy Goes To
Town
, stick your hand inside our secret sac and grab a Bonny Billy prophylactic
so you too can go to town, SAFELY! Drag
City freely encourages
sexual adventure in every position you wanna be in; just keep your discharge to
yourself, alright? Boys, don’t have cum in her hair when your dick is hanging
out – no diggity, you gotta bag it up with Bonnie! As if you needed another
reason to line up early at your favorite Mom n’ Pop LP shop this weekend -Bonnie
‘Prince’ Billy condoms are available for purchase exclusively at stores just in
time for Record Store Day! When it comes to Record Store Day surprises, you
sure can’t beat a condom, with which to carry your most precious
limited-edition Record Store Day “release.”

 

What Schoolkids Records Has Meant to Me

Ed. Note: With Record
Store Day
looming tomorrow and BLURT’s new partner Schoolkids Records of
Raleigh, NC,
gearing up for a big five-band celebration at the store, longtime
employee Ric Culross looks back on a long career toiling in the
independent-store trenches.

 

 

By Ric Culross

Recently, Schoolkids Records has gone under a change, a change of ownership
signifying new blood coming into the picture and old blood (me) looking for new
employment. My story is not unlike those all around our country…in with the
new & out with the old. So please, don’t think sympathy is my purpose for
writing this letter, my purpose here is to commemorate where I’ve worked and
what it has meant to me.

 

To start this off, I’ll take us to an upstairs apartment in Kansas City, MO
in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. This was long before air conditioning
became a standard, so this upstairs apartment was always hot and sticky. I was
reading a comic book I had read so many times before, “The Sinking of the
Bismark”, not ever knowing where or how it got on the second floor of this, my
grandmother’s apartment on Garfield
Street. The block housed lower-income, elderly,
and large families alike, all trying to make the best of their situations. My grandmother, whose crooked
fingers showed her years of being a seamstress and whose ears couldn’t hear the normal sound we
all take for granted, had a fever when she was young, a fever that scarred and damaged her eardrums
to the point that the silence that surrounded her comforted her just as the
sounds that I heard comforted me. And yet, even in her silence, music was in
her soul. Many times, sitting in that little corner where all those mysterious comic books had found a home, I heard her open her stereo, take the lid off,
which had a speaker in it along with the one in the front, and place that
speaker lid on the back of her sleeper sofa, which doubled as her bed. She
would put on Marty Robbins, Ed Ames, Billy Vaughan and sit right down in front
of that speaker. With her eyes closed, her feet keeping time and arms waving, the
music loud…what I saw has stayed with me all these years and that’s why I
have been in music retail for well over 30 years.

We all have favorite things in life: favorite colors, favorite books, favorite
foods, favorite places to visit. How many of us, though, can say that our work
was a favorite thing in our life? Starting out at the Record Bar in Terre Haute, Indiana
seemed like a natural place for me while attending college. Music, college
life: what could be better? Then that smoldering flame in me grew until it
became my profession. Listening to music became a requirement rather than a
luxury. The definition of music grew with each new spin of the turntable
passing through genres which created images of places, things and new
adventure. As technology changed, so did the formats, which contained the music
we listened to, from vinyl to 4-tracks to eight tracks to cassettes to CDs to
MP3s and, yes, back to vinyl; technology changed along with my profession. And
now, I just don’t know what “NOW” means to me.

The heart and soul of Schoolkids Records has always been the people, the
customers, the commonalities that we share. It doesn’t matter who or what, when
or where, it only matters that we have music in some form or another. Through
all the expansions of stores, the subsequent destruction of our stores, all the
music, and the people who patronized our store(s), music retail was our goal.
After working in almost all of the locations throughout all of these years and
being a buyer in them as well, I found that our customers were well versed in music. They were educated
shoppers who knew what they wanted, willing to deviate and, above all else,
they knew where to find it. Our customers were loyal, often shopping in all the
triangle locations each week, and when I saw them, I greeted them with a
“Howdy”. Not just a passing acknowledgment, but a familial “Howdy” which often
lead to stories of outings to pictures of our families and pets.

Each location had a ton of stories, like how the Franklin Street store was used as a
training stop for a dog obedience school or how the “Tom Tom Club” (two parts
of the Talking Heads) played in the front display windows for a store filled
with adoring fans. Or how the Hillsborough
St store was where local roadies for national
bands would get their tour schedules via our fax. Then in the Athens store, there wasn’t a day when someone from some band wouldn’t walk in hunting for their
next favorite sound. I mean, to sell to the likes of David Grisman and others
was numbing and amazing at the same time. Not only did we sell music to the
community, but we employed many of the musicians from the Glands in Athens to
Organos, Mount Moriah, Superchunk and Year of the Pig in Chapel Hill to
Megafaun, Finger, Patty Duke (Ryan Adam’s first band), Pressure Boys,
Johnny Quest, Let’s Active, Motorcaster and Whatever Brains in Raleigh–just to
name a very few. We sold music, we had employees who made music, we had
employees who opened record stores like Poindexter Records, Crooked Beat (now
located in Washington D.C.) and yes, we even had employees who went on to start
Merge Records, Holiday for Quince and Second Motion Records.

To say that Schoolkids Records is just a record store is missing the message by
miles. When it comes to places of employment, Schoolkids Records and other
indie music retailers alike are anomalies in themselves. As I’ve always said,
my hobby grew into a profession and, boy, that’s been the case for so many
years. Yes, listening to music is a plus at work, but the real joy is finding
something new to share, working with our customers to the point that recommending a new artist was
simply an act of friendship. A record store is a library and everywhere you lay
your hand, is someone’s art, someone’s heart, and exploring them will always
lead you to something new. Yes, it’s sometimes natural or easy to dismiss an
artist or perceive what the sounds are by the front cover art, but from that
very artwork (where I based my earlier music musings on) all the way to the
final note, there lies the hopes and dreams of an artist in that particular
album and thousands like it in stores across the land. And, really, what could
be better?

I have gotten to know so many people through all these years, from their
younger years all the way through to the present, where they now have children.
I will miss the fact that because of my job, I also became a part of their
family. I know their children’s names, I know their dogs’ names and, I’m not
sure if they know it, but knowing them has been a real joy in my life throughout
all these years. You see, music is so personal, it builds us up, makes us
think, soothes the heart and it even makes us stomp our feet, wave our arms
and, most of all, it closes our eyes to what our life brings us as it did in my
grandmother’s case.

And all the employees I have been blessed to have known: you are like brothers
or sisters, sons or daughters, but, above all else, we worked at Schoolkids
Records for a reason: to share, to inspire, to keep music a part of everyone’s
lives.

When I told my oldest granddaughter, who has worked by my side so many times at
the store, of the change in my life with Schoolkids Records, she said, “But
papa, I grew up in Schoolkids and I’m not done growing up yet…” With tears in
both of our eyes and through all of our sobs, all I could say was, “I think we
all grew up at Schoolkids and I’m not done yet either.”

I just want to tell you all: thank you for what you have meant to me and to
Schoolkids Records all these years. And after over two decades here, it’s hard
to say goodbye and sometimes my heart hurts, but I am so proud to have gotten
to spend it with you and Schoolkids Records. There is a future for Schoolkids
Records, an exciting future, so be sure to take part. Never, never let an indie
record store pass from our sights again.

Seasons change, leaves fall, but life goes on. I just hope my next job will be
as rewarding personally as this one was, because this one was great. So thank
you Mike Phillips for Schoolkids Records for all of us to enjoy. And a big
thanks to Stephen Judge for continuing the legacy that so many of us enjoy.

I am always asked what my favorite albums are and I’ve always responded that
that’s a hard question to answer. It’s hard because it changes day to day, year
to year, so right now as I write this, my six-disc changer at home is filled
with the following:

Bob Dylan : Desire
Abigail Washburn : Song of a Traveling Daughter
Tin Hat Trio : Helium
R.L. Burnside : Wish I Was in Heaven
Sitting Down
Ozark Mountain
Daredevils : It’ll Shine When It Shines
Gotan Project: La Revancha del Tango

Thank you so much,

ric culross
reculross@gmail.com

 

Check out these links to see where your local Schoolkids
Records ranks:

 

www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2065345,00.html

 

www.grammy.com/news/still-spinning

 

 

 

Photos: Coachella 2012 (weekend 1)

 

The must-attend annual
festival returned this year boasting a two-weekend spread. Our concert photographer Scott Dudelson was on hand to capture
the sights at weekend 1 in Indio,
CA.

 

Photos By Scott
Dudelson

 

 

(above – a “typical” concertgoer)

 

Tune-Yards

 

The Hives

 

St. Vincent

 

Andrew Bird

 

Arctic Monkeys

 

Ferris Wheel & the Grounds

 

 

More Concertgoers

 

Azealia Banks

 

Black Keys

 

Bon Iver

 

Shins

 

Santigold

 

Pulp

 

Mazzy Star

 

Feist

 

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

 

Jimmy Cliff

 

M Ward