Monthly Archives: November 2012

It’s Elvis! New Sonic Reducer Blog

Carl Hanni tucks into a satisfying meal with
The King.

 

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 1998
book Last
Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley,
the classic tome from veteran
writer Peter Guralnick.

 

Writes Hanni, “All celebrities of Presley’s caliber – a highly select
and finite group – should be as lucky as Presley to have a writer of
Guralnick’s caliber take such a sympathetic and comprehensive look at their
life and work. The scope of the book is staggering – 488 pages on the first 23
years of Presley’s life. That kind of coverage allows for literally a day by
day (or even hour by hour) exploration of a life that few biographies can
match. Last Train to Memphis (and presumably Careless Love, which I haven’t read) is a masterwork
of research that will likely stand for all time as the definitive book(s) about
Elvis Presley; it’s impossible to imagine anyone topping it in any fashion.” 

 

 

Read
the entire blog right here.

 

Video: Alice Russell (w/Harry Shearer, no less)

 

Advance taste of
upcoming 2013 album.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

British soul-shouter Alice Russell’s 2009 album Pot of Gold was an under-the-radar gem,
and her more recent Latin-infused work with
producer/deejay/multiinstrumentalist Quantic
justifiably raised her
international profile. Now word comes that Russell has signed with the
tastemakers of Tru Thoughts. Her first single for the label, “Heartbreaker,”
arrives digitally on Nov. 20 and will feature the original version, acoustic
version, and a remix by producer Falty DL (Ninja Tune). Watch for the
full-lengthy To Dust in February.

 

“It is a broken hearted love song about the end of a
relationship,” explains Alice,
of the tune. “It’s about that time when you’re just emotionally exhausted by it
all and you are at the stage where you know you just have to let it go, and you
are resigned to it all being over.” Meanwhile, Tru Thoughts have premiered
the official
first video
 for the single featuring none other than the legendary
actor/radio presenter Harry Shearer. 

 

Report: Rodriguez Live in Columbus, OH

 

Currently riding a
crest of newfound attention thanks to the recently released documentary film
about his unlikely career, the Sugar Man himself arrived at Columbus’
Wexner Center for the Arts on November 1 – and
he was out to mix a little mischief into his music.

 

Text & Photo by Steven Rosen

 

At age 70, Sixto Rodriguez has become an American folk hero.
The two politically trenchant folk-rock-blues albums that the Detroit
singer-guitarist put out in 1970 and 1971, overlooked in their time and long
out of print, are now reissued and healthy sellers. The documentary Searching for Sugar Man, chronicling how
he became popular in South
Africa without ever knowing it, has been a
surprise hit and is favored for an Academy Award nomination. And CBS 60 Minutes
even profiled him.

 

So he has emerged from decades of working as a laborer in
Detroit to start touring the U.S. If the hushed, reverent, sold-out crowd at
Columbus’ Wexner Center is any indication, he is being welcomed with the kind
of awe and respect that once met rediscovered musicians like Dock Boggs or
Mance Lipscomb during the great blues and folk revival of the early 1960s. He
is the wise elder, returned from exile.

 

So how did Rodriguez – who comes across as shy and quietly
self-effacing in the movie and on the 60 Minutes segment – accept this adulation? Weirdly. Here’s an example:

 

“Let me tell you my Mickey Mouse joke,” he said from the
bare stage, holding what appeared to be, and what sounded like, an amplified
acoustic guitar but had the sleek body of an electric. He then recounted how
Mickey and Minnie went to a marriage counselor, who told Mickey it would be
wrong to divorce her just for being dumb. “I didn’t say she was stupid,” Mickey
replied in Rodriguez’s joke. “I said she was fucking Goofy.” Long laughter
followed.

 

So much for that all that folk-hero-worship stuff. Rodriguez
is out to mix in a little mischief with his music. He also has his quirks.
Considering that his own music has a rockin’, talking-blues quality that shows
the influence of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” or early Donovan, you might
think he’d cover a song or two by his peers.

 

He does do covers, but they are either standards like “Just
One of Those Things” and “I Only Have Eyes for You,” or jazzy, soulful oldies
like Lou Rawls’ “Dead End Street” and Little Willie John’s “Fever.” (He gave
John, who was from Detroit and who recorded for nearby Cincinnati’s King
Records, credit as a local hero, which the Columbus audience appreciated.

 

Rodriguez’s resonant, slightly weathered and highly
expressive voice was well-suited for these songs, as was his guitar work, and I
see a Rodriguez Does Standards album
in his future.

 

But until then, he also gave people what they came for –
songs that the Sugar Man movie has
made well-known, forty years after they were recorded and promptly overlooked the first time around. (Light in the
Attic, a Seattle
label, did get the ball rolling first by reissuing Rodriguez’s Cold Fact and Coming From Reality in 2008-2009.)

 

At the Wexner, he played “Sugar Man,” “Crucify Your
Mind,”  “I Wonder,” “Like Janis” and  “This Is Not a Song, It’s an Outburst: Or,
the Establishment Blues” to a crowd who took the song’s worth and renown, as a
concrete cold fact. Rodriguez now has a canon.

 

His set was short, about an hour with no encore. He did not
radically change his songs or use them for improvisation, which was too bad as
a stretched-out “I Wonder” would have been quite a crowd-pleaser with its
Motown rhythms.

 

With his long black hair, hat and shades, wearing a suit
over a sleeveless, V-neck black muscle shirt, he had remarkable stage presence.
He removed the jacket about halfway through, revealing a physique that could
make him the envy of any AARP gathering.

 

And he is very relaxed on stage. While he needed guidance to
get up the steps onto it in the darkened room, he held the spotlight
confidently. He developed an easygoing repartee fairly quickly, and some of his
comments had a provocative edge and bite. For instance, he offered to tell the
crowd the secret of life  (“breathe in
and out”) and the mystery of life (“you never know when it will end”).

 

Rodriguez’s comeback fits into a larger narrative about this
year’s resilience and reemergence of Detroit in American life. Bettye LaVette,
although she now lives in New Jersey, has showed on Thankful N’ Thoughtful that it’s never too late for an overlooked
Detroit R&B singer of the 1960s to find her audience. The documentary Detropia has been a hit, often following
Sugar Man into art houses. The Tigers
made the World Series. And President Obama’s rescue of the auto industry turned
out to be the key issue (in Ohio) that got him – and his progressive, hopeful
view of America – reelected against the reactionary Republicans.

 

Rodriguez fits into that narrative, yet he’s not really
having it. He sees the city through his activist eyes – he once ran for mayor.
He told the crowd that “only when I left Detroit did I learn people smiled.” He
also decried political corruption in
the city.  Someone shouted for him to run
for mayor again, and he responded like he’d consider it.

 

He ended the show with heartfelt thanks and a “power to the
people” fist. And he made his way to the merchandise booth, where his newfound
fans were lined up awaiting him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Avett Bros, More For Hurricane Relief

 

View PSAs taped
especially for the effort.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

The Avett Brothers, Passion Pit, Mick Fleetwood, Gaslight
Anthem and Nicole Atkins are the latest musicians who have taped PSA for the RebuildRecover project (spearheaded
by Move For Hunger) to raise relief funds for New Jersey coastal residents walloped by
Hurricane Sandy. Check some of the PSAs below, then consider opening your
wallets…

 




It’s a Drag! Amanda Palmer, WayneCoyne

 

“That’s art, bitch!”
Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, drag queens and smartphones, Amanda Palmer style, in
outrageously fun new video.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Seriously, you were expecting demure with a Palmer production? Or straightforward, with Coyne’s
involvement? O ye of little faith!

 

The track is “Do It With a Rockstar” from Palmer’s recent Theatre Is Evil album (which we are told
by fans who have heard it that it is friggin’ awesome, and based on this song and video, we agree). There’s a whole lotta meta going on here, so it will help if
you are up on your Palmer, Flaming Lips, Erykah Badu and crowdsourcing trivia
while watching it. You can dig deeper, should you dare, courtesy Palmer herself
(via her
blog
).

 

Her tour continues apace; dates at Palmer’s official
website
. She’s in Chicago and Milwaukee this weekend…

 

 

Video: Big Dipper’s “Robert Pollard"

 

Perhaps not so coincidentally, the titular RP also did the
album sleeve art.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

As announced last month, Big Dipper – the Boston legends who were memorialized with
loving care by Merge in 2008 with the 3-disc retrospective Supercluster:
The Big Dipper Anthology
– are back with a new album. Titled Big Dipper Crashes on the
Platinum  Planet,
it’s out Nov. 27 via the
Almost Ready label and features
guitarist/vocalist Bill Goffrier,
drummer/vocalist Jeff Oliphant, late-era Dipper alum Tom Brewitt on bass and
vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/producer Gary Waleik (with special guest
appearances by Commander Frank Borman and Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell of
the Apollo 8 Mission as well as some of the Dippers’ offspring).

 

Check out the first video – it’s for the track “Robert
Pollard,” Waleik’s ode to one of rock’s greatest songwriters, which masquerades
as an exploration of the complex relationship between perspiration and
inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 12-song album (reviewed in the latest print edition of
BLURT, by the way; our writer calls it “a solid addition to the canon of
smart pop…Welcome back, lads!”) boasts Big Dipper’s trademark sound:
twin vocals, ethereal harmonies, dynamic guitar arrangements by Goffrier and
Waleik (dubbed by some a “two-headed guitar monster”), Oliphant’s
powerful drumming and Brewitt’s melodic bass playing.

 

 

 

 

[Photo Credit: Joel Simches]

 

Concrete Blonde: New Single, DVD, Tour

 

Shows scheduled
throughout December.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Concrete Blonde is releasing
two new songs, the country lament “Rosalee” and the vintage speeded-up
punk-rock of “I See the Ghost,” as a white, 7″ vinyl single. It will also be
available at all digital outlets and will be available in time for their U.S. tour in
December. The live trek kicks off Dec. 12 in Boston
and will take the band to selected stops on the east coast and the Midwest. See the full itinerary, below.

 

“We knew we were doing
this for vinyl,” frontwoman Johnette Napolitano says of the singles tracks,
recorded at Stagg Street Studios in Van Nuys with their longtime engineer Anne
Catalino. “So you have this A-side, which is an old ’30s cowboy song that I
imagined Willie Nelson doing, and on the B-side, you have a 1980 West Coast
punk song. And they both sound as if they belong on vinyl.”

 

 

The band has shot a video
for each of the songs and plans to release them as a DVD in conjunction with
the tour. Concrete Blonde will also perform on WXPN Philadelphia’s syndicated radio
show “World Café Live” on Dec. 15. There is also the possibility of a New
Year’s Eve show in L.A.
This comes after the band has played shows in China
last year, as well as in Peru
and Brazil,
where they recorded their 2003 double-live album. A European tour is planned as
well.

 

 

“It’s taken awhile, but
we’re really happy where we are,” says Napolitano of the band, who has spent
the last decade learning about art in Mexico and the flamenco in Spain, as well
as how to sew and tattoo. “As a unit, we’re just amazing and completely
self-sufficient. We’ve come to the place where we trust ourselves. And as long
as the music is good . . . that has never changed. It’s all about being fucking
great. We are very vain that way. We have to be the best or we won’t bother.”

 

Tour Dates:

 

Wed., Dec. 12  BOSTON, MA Sinclair Music Hall

Thurs., Dec. 13  NEW YORK, NY Irving Plaza

Fri., Dec. 14  ASBURY
PARK
, NJ Stone Pony

Mon., Dec. 17  WASHINGTON, DC 9:30 Club

Tues., Dec. 18  CARRBORO, NC 
Cat’s Cradle

Wed., Dec. 19  ATLANTA, GA Variety Playhouse

Fri., Dec. 21  CHICAGO, IL Park West

Sat., Dec. 22  MINNEAPOLIS, MN Variety Theatre

 

New 10-Minute Scott Walker Video

 

More than merely
strange and creepy.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

The collaboration between avant raconteur Scott Walker and video
director Olivier Groulx would seem to be an apt one, based
on the film created to accompany Walker’s
song “Epizootics!” Each is strange and creepy in its own right, guaranteed to
leave you somewhat… shaded, if not permanently haunted. Check it out, below.

 

 

 

 

 

The song is from Walker’s
new Bish Bosh album which drops Dec.
4 on 4AD. As reviewed in the new print edition of BLURT, the album finds Walker, “as a singer, having
stripped away the romanticism, also seems to be relentlessly pushing the
lower-register warmth out of his singing. He sounds like a mournful choirboy
whose solemn isolated voice, still struggling against odds for high-pitched
purity, also aches for what has been lost.”

 

Civil Wars Cancel Tour, Split Up?

 

It’s not quite the war between the States, but the symptoms are the same.

By Perez Mills

Yesterday the Civil Wars started canceled the remaining dates of their current tour this past weekend. Now they’ve taken to their Facebook page, citing “internal discord and irrconcilable differences of ambition.” That ominously worded phrase would seem to foreshadow a breakup, but we’ll just have to wait and see. The  full announcement reads:

We sincerely apologize for the canceling of all of our tour
dates. It is something we deeply regret. However, due to internal
discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition we are unable to
continue as a touring entity at this time. We thank each and every one
of you for your amazing love & support. Our sincere hope is to have
new music for you in 2013.

– Joy Williams & John Paul White.

 

PS – We understand that there are many of you stuck with service
charges and travel reservations due to our abrupt cancelations. Please
email us at info@thecivilwars.comif
there are costs incurred that you would like to be reimbursed for,
include a scan or attachment to your receipt(s) of the costs, and we
will do our best to reimburse you for non-refundable charges.

 

 

 

Sweet Apple sez – Elected!!!

 

All the way from the hazy days of 1972…

By Fred Mills

It’s Decision 2012 time for Sweet Apple – comprising, of course, J Mascis, Cobra Verde’s John Petkovic ant Tim Parnin, Witch’s Dave Sweetapple. In honor of Obama’s reelection, or maybe in spite of it, take your pick, the band has covered Alice Cooper’s timeless classic “Elected”.

It’s the A-side of a 7-inch 45 released on Outer Battery Records; the b-side is a cover of the Anti Pasti punk anthem “No Government.”

According to Petkovic, “the band accounts for 32 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.
Including adjunct guitarist Graham Clise — of California — the band’s
reach is four states and 87 electoral votes. Sweet Apple had
intended to also release a campaign platform in time for the elections,
but was unable to find common ground on any issues. Hence this video.”