Monthly Archives: July 2012

Jesus, a new Sonic Reducer blog posted!

 

Carl Hanni finally gets religion, yo.
Starring Jim White, as seen in the film clip, below.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Longtime BLURT
contributor and blogger – and ace deejay and archivist – Carl Hanni has just
posted his latest “Sonic Reducer” essay. This time out he looks back at the
frankly brilliant Andrew Douglas film Searching
For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus
, starring songwriter Jim White and featuring a
cast of musical misfits that include Johnny Dowd, David Eugene Edwards and the
Handsome Family.

 

Writes Hanni, “I don’t know what sort of
a film Douglas set out to shoot, but I’m
willing to bet that he got more than he bargained for. Whatever the original
inspiration, Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus is so perfectly pitched
and so right in so many way that I need to be careful to not go all hyperbole over
it while still hoping to convey whys it’s well worth one hour and twenty-two
minutes of your time. So, I’ll just say it now: for anyone with an interest in
arcane American music and in the socio-spiritual-religious fabric of the
American South, you will be well rewarded.”

 

Read
the entire blog right here
– and meanwhile, check out a scene from the film,
below.

 

 

 

 

Report: Hold Steady Live in Northampton

 

July 18
at the Iron Horse in Northampton,
Mass., and it was a beefy mix of heat, crowd, and decibels. Opening act: Mount Carmel.

 

Text & Photos by Jennifer Kelly

The last time I saw the Hold Steady, they were holding down
the big room at Pearl Street, a venue maybe three or four times the size of the
Iron Horse. It looks, tonight, as if they’ve brought all the same fans and
crammed them into the smaller space. There are people in the balconies, people
on the stairs, people packed shoulder to shoulder on the floor all the way back
to the soundboard. I’ve never seen this many people at the Iron Horse at one
time.  Moreover, since the Hold Steady
seems to attract a disproportionate number of big beefy men, it’s extra crowded.
 It’s also hot.

 

But after a definite quiet period – during which Hold Steady
mainstay Craig Finn went off and recorded a solo album – it’s good to have them
back. “It’s good to see you’re back in a bar band, baby,” goes a line from “Bar
Fruit Blues,” an Almost Killed Me vintage song  sadly lacking this evening,
“It’s good to see you back in the bar.” But it is, indeed, good to see them
back.  

 

 

 

 

Mount Carmel, a sludgy, blues-y trio modeled on 1960s icons
like Cream, the Yardbirds etc., starts things off, the brothers Matthew and Pat
Reed on guitar and bass respectively, Kevin Shubak half hidden behind a
towering, cymbal-heavy kit of drums. They are engaged, when I arrive, in a slow
12/8 blues shuffle,  the sheer heaviness
of the guitar onslaught balanced, somewhat, by the soft, well-worn, fluttery
tenor that Matthew Reed lays over it. He sounds a lot like Jack Bruce, oddly
personal, oddly vulnerable above a ponderous, amp-fuzzed roar.

 

Mount Carmel is from Columbus, Ohio, one of the epicenters
of lo-fi, and managed through a connection with Mike Rep to gain the attention
of Philadelphia’s Siltbreeze label (another linchpin in the lo-fi scene), and
yet there is nothing especially fuzzy or indie about their sound. They sound,
instead, like one of the big blues-rock bands from the 1980s – Humble Pie,
maybe, if not Cream – and are fond of the big, shreddy guitar solo in a very
unpunk way. They play “Rooftop” off their Siltbreeze debut Real Women, a swaggery, riff-driven bit of blues swagger, that cuts
to almost nothing, just the chink of high hat going zzt, zzt, zzt, zzt, and
then they all come in on the dime with a 1970s arena-sized guitar riff. “ZZ
Breakers,” next, is dirtier, grittier, ballsier, bisected with a harrowing
guitar solo and softened, just a little, by Reed’s lost, octave-jumping croon
of “please, please, please…don’t bring your troubles to me.” They close out their
set with a blistering, hard-kicking “Livin’ Like I Wanna,” with its
blast-furnish blares of guitar and bass and drum all together, riffs that smash
into walls, do the dead stop, step back a pace and run right into them again. It’s
a pretty strong set, not that different from the territory that Howling Rain
works, but very raw.

 

***

 

It takes the Hold Steady a while to set up, the guitar tech
tuning each of seven guitars, plugging in gear, taping set lists to flat
surfaces. There are some cool guitars – a white Strat with a cartoon Teddy Bear
painted on it for Finn, a small, graceful Les Paul Gibson for new guitarist
Steven Selfridge, a red one for Tad Kubler. It’s not Sonic Youth’s rack of
instruments, but still definitely bigger than it used to be. And then the band
finally arrives – Selfridge (who joined after Franz Nicolay left) and Galen
Polvika on the left, drummer Bobby Drake in back, Finn up front and Kubler way
off to the right and in back.

 

They start at what I think of as the very beginning, the uneasy
strum and surreal poetry of “Positive Jam,” which set off the whole enterprise,
back in the early 00-days when you still had to say “They used to be in Lifter
Puller,” when talking about The Hold Steady. It’s a brilliant introduction to
the band’s combination of intricate lyrical bravado and the biggest classic
rock riffs you ever heard, and the crowd goes into a frenzy when the words stop
and we all wait for the giant, club-shaking power chord that breaks the song in
half. Then everyone’s bouncing up and down and mouthing the words, and the
first three rows in front have started that bizarre mirroring phenomenon where
they imitate every gesture that Finn throws at them (mostly pointing).  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The energy stays high with the four-on-floor battering of “Cattle
and the Creeping Things” off of the Hold Steady’s second album Separation Sunday, a stomping,
celebratory version of “Sequestered in Memphis” (Finn making air quotes around
the phrase “I went there on business”) and a floor-shaking chords and classic
rock flourishes (I’m hearing Thin Lizzy here and elsewhere) of early hit “The
Swish.” The thing that’s cool and sort of inexplicable about the Hold Steady is
the way they balance nerdiness and bravado. Finn looks like the kind of guy who
would get beat up by the big jocks crowding towards the front, yet he’s playing
them like a puppeteer. “I know you’re pretty pissed, but I hope you’ll still
let me kiss you,” he sings, a line from “Magazines,” and you totally believe
the insecurity, even blown up as it is in the grandest kind of rock excess.

 

The Hold Steady will be recording album number six in September, so they have some new song to try out. The
first is “Look Alive,” about, as Finn explains, the vagrants of his native Minneapolis’ Lake Street, who dress,
for whatever reason, as cowboys. The song is built on a hard-edged,
funk-into-hard-rock riff that reminds me, vaguely of “Walk This Way.” It’s
socially conscious, aware of income inequality and other forms of unfairness,
but not in any life-affirming “Blowin’ in the Wind” kind of way. “Keep us
floating above/the dick who makes us nervous,” says Finn in a break between
guitar riffs, and he’s got white, middle class guilt in two lines. Later on,
the Finn introduces “Teeth Dreams,” with a rambling explication of dreams about
teeth falling out (it has to do with money anxiety) and a caution that, “But
this is about other people’s teeth.” The song, like “Look Alive” seems harder
and rougher than the (to me disappointing) last album, a good sign maybe that
the band is back on track.

 

Then it’s back to older songs – “The Sweet Part of the
City,” “Constructive Summer,” “Chips Ahoy” and “You Can Make Him Like You” –
and to finish the first set, a long, wonderful version of “Your Little Hoodrat
Friend,” which Finn splices in half with instrumental vamp and a little talk
about how he was born in Northampton
and still had family there.   And then
it’s one more rough-housing run through of “hood rat” and the main set ends.

 

The encore is three songs, “Massive Nights”, “Stay
Positive,” and “Slapped Actress.” These latter two have massed, wordless
vocals, which, by this time, the audience is singing louder than the band in
the kind of ecstatic, group mind-meld that ought to happen at shows more often,
but rarely does. It is, indeed, one thing to start out with a positive jam,
another thing to see it on through. The Hold Steady is at the top of its game
live – can’t wait to see how that translates to the next record.

 

 

 

 

 

Austin City Limits Fest Lineup Announced

 

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Jack White, Afghan Whigs, Red
Hot Chili Peppers, Iggy & the Stooges, Shins, Roots, Weezer, Black Keys,
Black Lips,  and more (hopefully
including more bands with “black” in their name, yo) are among the performers
at the upcoming Austin City Limits Festival. It will be held in Austin on Oct. 12-14 at,
as usual, the sprawling Zilker Park, across 8 stages.

 

Headlining on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, respectively, will
be the Keys, Neil Young and the Chili Peppers. The full roster is here.

New Blues Control Video + Tour

 

Duo hits the road this
week.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Blues Control’s Lea Cho (keyboards) and Russ Waterhouse
(guitar, synth, tapes) have just kicked off a two-week run of shows across the
eastern half of the US in
support of their new album, Valley
Tangents
(released June 19 via Drag
City). They also have a
new video for their song, “Walking Robin,” directed by French
filmmaker/artist Clémence Hébert and filmed on Tunø, a small Danish island in
the Kattegat Sea, during Midsummer Day. Hébert captured footage of the locals lighting bonfires in celebration
of the beginning of summer. A full list of tour dates is below as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Dates:

 

Wed. July 25 – Pittsburgh,
PA @ Gooski’s

Thu. July 26 – Louisville,
KY @ The Cat House

Fri. July 27 – Chicago,
IL @ The Hideout

Sat. July 28 – Columbus,
OH @ Ace of Cups

Sun. July 29 – Cleveland,
OH @ Happy Dog

Mon. July 30 – Rochester,
NY @ The Bug Jar

Tue. July 31 – Toronto,
ON @ The Shop at Parts &
Labour

Wed. Aug. 1 – Montreal,
QC @ Il Motore

Thu. Aug. 2 – Burlington,
VT @ Monkey House

Fri. Aug. 3 – Allston,
MA @ O’Brien’s Pub

Sat. Aug. 4 – Hoboken,
NY @ Maxwell’s (with Chain & The Gang)

Sat. Aug. 11 – Philadelphia,
PA @ Kensington Picnic (with Meg
Baird)

Sun. Aug. 26 – Emmaus,
PA @ Emmaus Farmers’ Market

Sun. Sept. 9 – Rock Island, IL
@ Rozz Tox

Tue. Sept. 11 – Lexington, KY
@ Void

Thu. Sept. 13 – Atlanta, GA
@ 529

Fri. Sept. 14 – Durham, NC
@ Duke University Coffeehouse

Sat. Sept. 15 – Greensboro, NC
@ CFBG’s

 

Incoming: New Mark Eitzel

 

 

But American Music
Club is defunct. Sorry, fans.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Don’t Be A Stranger is the title and it’s an appropriate one for Mark Eitzel devotees eager to
welcome him back into the fold. It’s been a few years since we had new ME (2010’s
 self-released Brannan Street,
which was more an odds ‘n’ sods collection than a “new” release) – he suffered
a heart attack awhile back – so into the breach steps Merge Records, which has
set an Oct. 2 release date for the album. Tour dates will be announced soon
too.

 

Tracklist:

 

1. I Love You But You’re Dead
2. The Bill is Due
3. All My Love
4. Oh Mercy
5. Costume Characters Face Dangers in the Workplace
6. Why Are You With Me
7. Lament for Bobo the Clown
8. Break the Champagne
9. We All Have to Find Our Own Way Out
10. You’re Waiting
11. Nowhere to Run

 

 

Video: Shins Do Magnetic Fields on JJJ

 

“Sad but hilarious” cover of the Magnetic Fields’ ‘Andrew In Drag’ – live for Like A Version.

By Blurt Staff

It’s not every day we get to see James Mercer of the Shins covering the Magnetic Fields – here, as captured on video by Australia’s Triple J FM, a version of “Andrew In Drag” from an in-studio acoustic session. Check it out below (via Stereogum).

Videos: Wilco Live on the Fallon Show

 

Including a web
exclusive ya didn’t see on TV!

 

By Blurt Staff

 

As previously announced, Wilco dropped by the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon show last
night to do a couple of songs, The Whole
Love
‘s “The Art of Almost” and “Laminated Cat” (originally done by the
Glenn Kotche-Jeff Tweedy side project Loose Fur). Check ‘em out, below.

 

 


 

MP3: Listen to New Tift Merritt Song

 

Track from upcoming
Traveling Alone album, due in October.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

The tune is called “To Myself” and it’s the first focus
track from Traveling Alone, Tift
Merritt’s first album for the venerable Yep Roc label and due Oct. 2. You can
check it out below, along with a list of summer-into-fall tour dates.

 

 

 

 

 

7.25.12 – Denver, CO – Botanic Gardens ^ 
7.26.12 – Layton, UT – Davis Arts Council ^
7.28.12 – Calgary, AB – Calgary Folk Festival
7.31.12 – Fargo, ND – Fargo Theatre ^
8.01.12 – Minneapolis, MN – Minnesota Zoo Ampitheater ^
8.02.12 – Milwaukee, WI – Potawatomi Casino ^
8.03.12 – Madison, WI – Barrymore Theatre ^
8.04.12 – Bayfield, WI – Big Top Chatauqua ^
8.15.12 – Englewood, NJ – Bergen Performing Arts Center ^
8.22.12 – Cincinnati, OH – Taft Theater ^
8.23.12 – Knoxville, TN – Bijou ^
8.24.12 – Atlanta, GA – Atlanta Botanical Garden ^
9.06.12 – Norwalk, CT – Norwalk Concert Hall ^
9.07.12 – Albany, NY – The Egg ^
9.09.12 – Ithaca, NY – State Theatre ^
9.15.12 – Nashville, TN – AMA Conference
9.16.12 – Bristol, TN – Rhythm & Roots
9.21.12 – Carrboro, NC – Carrboro Town Commons
9.22.12 – Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
9.23.12 – New York, NY – City Winery
10.05.12 – Chicago, IL –  City Winery
10.08.12 – Washington, DC – The Birchmere
10.09.12 – Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live
10.10.12 – Boston, MA – Johnny D’s
10.12.12 – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern
10.15.12 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
10.16.12 – Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern
10.18.12 – San Francisco, CA – Café Du Nord
10.19.12 – Los Angeles, CA – The Mint
10.20.12 – Santa Monica, CA – McCabe’s
10.21.12 – San Diego, CA – Anthology
11.02.12 – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre *
11.03.12 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls *
11.04.12 – West Long Branch, NJ – Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth Univ. *
11.05.12 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground *
11.07.12 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall *
11.08.12 – Portsmouth, NH – Portsmouth Music Hall *
11.09.12 – Norfolk, CT – Infinity Hall *
11.11.12 – Westhampton, NY – Westhampton Performing Arts Center *
11.14.12 – Blacksburg, VA – Lyric Theatre *
11.16.12 – Charlotte, NC – McGlohon Theater *

^ w/ Mary Chapin Carpenter
* w/ Justin Earle

 

Watch: Rolling Stones/Muddy Waters ’81 DVD

 

Live At
The Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981, recently issued by Eagle Rock, captures an oft-bootlegged – but majorly improved –
rock/blues summit of epic proportions. Check out the video clips, below.

 

By Hal Bienstock

 

1981 was something of a tipping point for The Rolling
Stones. It was the year they released what many consider their last significant
album, Tattoo You. It also was the
year they crossed the threshold from band to stadium spectacle, much to the
detriment of their music as anyone who had the misfortune to suffer through the
live album Still Life or VH1
Classic’s endless reruns of the accompanying movie Let’s Spend the Night Together knows all too well.

 

The DVD/CD release, Live
At The Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981
(Eagle Rock Entertainment), of
their oft-bootlegged appearance with Muddy Waters at Chicago’s Checkerboard
Lounge shows that it didn’t have to be that way. Mick Jagger may do more actual
singing in this one hour than he did on the entire 1981 tour when he either
shouted to the rafters or ran out of breath trying to sprint across giant
stages.

 

Clearly thrilled to be performing alongside one of his
heroes, Jagger sings with depth and
emotion, but also with a playfulness that is a perfect foil to Waters’
authoritative delivery.  Keith Richards
and Ron Wood are in top form as well. It’s tough not to be when you have to
hold you own alongside Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Lefty Dizz, who also take
the stage to round out a legendary jam session. (It’s worth noting that despite
the packaging, this isn’t the full The Rolling Stones onstage – just Jagger,
Richards and Wood).

 

 


 

 

The quality of the music isn’t in dispute. The real question
is whether fans need to upgrade from their bootleg. The answer is a clear yes.
The sound quality and video quality is far better than any bootleg of this
performance that I’ve found. Those who only have the music will definitely want
this, as the video is full of great moments – from watching Keith climb over a
table to get onstage while a middle-aged waitress in hair curlers takes orders
to seeing Mick balance his electric stage presence with his desire not to
overshadow the headliner.

 

Bonus features are slim. There’s a nothing-special clip of
the Stones performing “Black Limousine” on the 1981 tour. I guess it was
included because it’s bluesy. And there’s another warmup track from Muddy
Waters’ band before he takes the stage. It’s the main event that makes this DVD
worthwhile. 

 

 

 

Read: Exit Music – The Radiohead Story

 

Updated edition is more on fan’s mash note to band than genuine critical assessment.

By John B. Moore

Radiohead is a phenomenally creative band, having been on a
constant path of reinvention from their second album on. Record execs, critics
and even fans be damned, the band members are always going to write music that
challenges them. It’s surprising then that one of the most fascinating musical
acts to come out of the last three decades would make for such a dull music
bio.

 

Exit Music: The
Radiohead Story
(Backbeat) was first released in 2000, not even 10 years
after the band first came into our collective conscious with the hard-to-ignore
“Creep,” complete with one of the most recognizable gun cocking guitar riffs in
music history. Mac Randall’s book certainly needed revising for 2012, as the
band has had four full albums since its first printing; managed to prompt rumors of break-ups; and pulled off the most
talked about music pricing experiment of all time. But even with all this new
fodder, Exit Music still comes off
like one obsessive fan’s love note to his favorite band.

 

The unauthorized book is well-written and -researched,
relying mainly on previous interviews, but there is just very little new
information or insight revealed about what is cast her as possibly the most boring
band ever to come out of England. (Randall details a mid-‘90s tour with Belly
that ended with the two bands throwing a book party to celebrate. Seriously!)
For Radiohead completists and obsessives, feel free to pick up the revised
edition. For everyone else? Did you read Neil Strauss’ bio on Motley Crue?