Jack White, The National, and THE DISTILLERS, oh my!
By Jeff Clegg
Also, in case you missed it, Atlanta’s sixth annual Shaky Knees Music Festival takes place May 4-6 with headliners Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, and The National. Other notable acts of this year’s lineup include David Byrne of the Talking Heads, Courtney Barnett, Cake, The War on Drugs, Manchester Orchestra, and the first The Distillers performance in 12 years, among many others. Due to Atlanta’s plan to renovate and expand Centennial Olympic Park, this year’s festival will move back to Atlanta’s Central Park, where Shaky Knees called home in 2015. Information on hotels close to the event can be found on the Shaky Knees website.
Check out the full 2018 lineup below and be sure to grab your tickets! And the late-night shows for Shaky Knees 2018 have just been announced as well, which notably includes sets by artists not on the main festival bill such as The Whigs and The Melvins, as well as additional sets by The War on Drugs, Circa Survive, The Distillers, Fleet Foxes, and Japandroids. Tickets for the festival can be purchased here and tickets for the late-night shows can be purchased here.
Much-loved NC outfit playing multiple sets during the annual festival; interview in the works.
By Blurt Staff
We would be remiss in not posting the details of fellow Carolinians The Veldt’s Austin excursion this week to SXSW where the indie rock/psych-shoegaze/Afro-futurists will be performing multiple shows. And yes, the venerable outfit, whose legacy stretches back to the early ’90s, is indeed part of the roster of Schoolkids Records, BLURT’s sister company.
Full disclosure aside, you can turn to our review of the group’s most recent effort, 2017’s Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Revolution EP, which we reviewed thusly:
Given The Veldt’s success in breaking down barriers and bringing a distinctive blackness to indie rock realms, a five song EP seems a much too modest offering. Having flirted with major label credence for the better part of the past 30 years, The Veldt, unlike various other black artists (Living Color, Sly & the Family Stone, et. al.) never made crossing over a priority. Rather, they’ve always been content with fusing ambiance with attitude, creating a subliminal sound that owes much of its influence to the cosmic trappings of the Cocteau Twins and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Then again, it’s what one might expect from a foursome that borrowed its handle from a Ray Bradbury sci-fi story. The lack of sonic stereotypes notwithstanding, the impossibly long-winded title of their latest opus testifies to the fact that they’re still intent on defying any and all preconceived notions having to do with mood and modality. “One Day Out of Life,” “In a Quiet Room” and “Token” glide by on currents of synthesized set-ups, creating glistening soundscapes as aural additives in the process. Despite some occasionally ominous overtones, the vocals glisten with warmth and assurance, offering the impression that they emanate from a heavenly choir.
Ambition aside, it’s a soothing set from beginning to end, and if there’s little change in tone or treatment throughout, it simply serves to keep the consistency. Consider it a soulful sway through a celestial space.
Check out the band’s itinerary during SXSW, below, and you can get complete details and updates at their Facebook page. Watch this space for an exclusive interview with co-founder Daniel Chavis very soon…
“Having a Rave Up” key track from lysergic new platter…
By Blurt Staff
No, it’s not a Yardbirds (look up that ref…) tribute, but it IS a tribute to ‘60s psych/garage/pop gems of yore: “Having a Rave Up,” from the Boston band’s recently released studio album, Psychsploitation Today (Lolipop and Burger Records). Blurt reviewed their 2015 albumKeep Your Stupid Dreams Alive and this new one’s even more cranium-crunching. We are advised thusly, of the evolutionary genre grinders (yeah, we stole that description): “While the Prefab Messiahs originally started performing their own lo-fi brand of post-punk, psych, garage-pop in the early ‘80s, along with working with ‘outsider psych legend’ Bobb Trimble at the time, it wasn’t until their early music was re-released a few years ago on Burger Records that media and fans alike started to connect the dots from The Prefabs to today’s garage-psych artists such as Ty Segall, Oh Sees, White Fence, King Tuff and others.”
It wasn’t all that long ago when singer-songwriter scored a coup when his song “In This World” was featured in the FX series Better Things. The Los Angeles artist (also, we are advised, “the driving force behind a number of lesser known rock outfits, including The Atma, Squirrel TV and Peppermint Wolf, as well as the adventurous hip-hop sounds of Seanny Dogg”) is eyeing a June release for a new album, The Show Must Go On, and you’ll be seeing him plenty of places as the year unfolds.
Meanwhile, last month he dropped a new single, “My Love For You,” which you can check out below:
O, what a lucky man: Key track from new album currently out (and being toured as well).
By Fred Mills
This clip is a personal fave: Having followed Chris Smither avidly ever since seeing him in a small blues club in Charlotte, NC (and later having the privilege of hanging with him and sundry other fans and media types during a memorable night of, ahem, music and fun in Tucson, AZ), I can state personally that the cat is the real freakin’ deal —and you, gentle readers, will bear witness with me when you view the following video for “Down to the Sound,” a special solo acoustic performance, filmed in Leverett, MA, of a key track from his superb new album, Call Me Lucky (Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert), which dropped a few days ago, on March 2:
With video production via J. Elon Goodman / www.saltstage.com, this simple-yet-piercing track comes alive, not unlike having the blues/Americana virtuoso sitting across you in your own house.
Smither, on the track: “This song came about from some press interview awhile back when I was in the middle of writing songs for this record. He asked me the question I’ve been asked more times than I care to remember, ‘How do you write songs?’ I think ‘Down To The Sound’ ended up being a suitable answer.”
It’s the Boston virtuoso’s 18th—yes, that makes EIGHTEEN—album to date, and a 2CD set to boot, one which took him to Austin with producer David Goodrich along with players Billy Conway (Morphine) and Matt Lorenz (The Suitcase junket). If you need more convincing, HERE is a video you can also view over at NPR’s World Café.
Or you could just check out the man in concert, because he’s on the road just about constantly for the next couple of months…
Wed., March 7 PORTLAND, OR Alberta Rose Theatre*
Thurs., March 8 EUGENE, OR Shedd Institute*
Fri., March 9 BAINBRIDGE WA The Treehouse Café*
Sat., March 10 VANCOUVER, BC St. James Hall*
Sun., March 11 SEATTLE, WA Tractor Tavern*
Wed., March 14 SANTA CRUZ, CA Kuumbwa Jazz Center*
Thurs., March 15 AUBURN, CA Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center*
Fri., March 16 BERKELEY, CA Freight & Salvage*
Sat., March 17 SEBASTOPOL, CA Sebastopol Community Center*
Fri., March 30 HOUSTON, TX The Mucky Duck
Sat., March 31 AUSTIN, TX Cactus Cafe
Wed., April 4 NEW YORK, NY City Winery NYC*
Fri., April 6 FALL RIVER, MA Narrows Center for Arts*
Sat., April 7 TURNERS FALLS, MA Shea Theater*
Sun., April 8 CAMBRIDGE, MA The Sinclair*
Fri., April 13 AUBURN, NY Auburn Public Theater
Sat., April 14 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Cafe Live
Sun., April 15 BALTIMORE, MD Creative Alliance at Patterson
Fri., April 27 NASHVILLE, TN Bluebird Cafe
Sat., April 28 BATON ROUGE, LA Red Dragon Listening Room
Sun., April 29 NEW ORLEANS, LA Chickie Wah Wah
Thurs., May 10 EVANSTON, IL Evanston SPACE
Fri., May 11 MINNEAPOLIS, MN Cedar Cultural Center
Sat., May 12 ANN ARBOR, MI The Ark
Sun., May 13 CLEVELAND, OH Beachland Ballroom
Tues., May 15 PITTSBURGH, PA Club Cafe
Wed., May 16 BUFFALO, NY 9th Ward @ Babeville
Thurs., May 17 ROCHESTER, NY Penthouse at One East Ave
Fri., July 20 TELLURIDE, CO Telluride Americana Music Festival
The above photo is (cough) a tad more relevant than the one published by the so-called indie rock champion media outlet…
BY UNCLE BLURT
Good news for Flaming Lips fans, of which yours truly can claim ground zero membership in, having mail ordered the band’s first 12″ EP when it first started appearing in punk zine reviews in the mid ’80s, and subsequently seeing (and interviewing) the then-trio on the Lips’ first full U.S. tour. (Contact BLURT for details, interview transcript, and flexi-disc of live performances.) According to our savvy media peers at Pitchfork.com:
The Flaming Lips are releasing two new remastered collections of works from their early career through Rhino/Warner Bros. The releases feature music from the band’s days with Restless Records before signing to Warner Bros. in 1991. Scratching the Door: The First Recordings of the Flaming Lips—a 19-track compilation of tracks by the Lips’ original lineup—is available April 20. It features the band’s first two cassette demos and their debut self-released EP. The second release is Seeing the Unseeable: The Complete Studio Recordings of the Flaming Lips 1986-1990, a six-CD box set spanning the band’s four Restless Records albums—Hear It Is (1986), Oh My Gawd!!!…The Flaming Lips (1986) , Telepathic Surgery (1989), and 1990’s In a Priest Driven Ambulance (With Silver Sunshine Stares). It also includes two discs of rarities and is out May 25.
No need to elaborate further. Longtime Lips fans will already have all the material, since it has come out, variously, via the band’s own archival efforts, Record Store Day vinyl-only releases, and sundry bootlegs. (There is – cough – no truth to the rumor that yours truly ever directly contributed to any of those bootlegs.) New Lips buffs to the cause will find many a moment to thrill and then scratch one’s head, because we are not in “Yoshimi” territory, Toto.
Oh, and since Pitchfork is breaking the news today, we must commend them for their equally savvy Flaming Lips photo illustration, pictured below. For some reason, I only recognize one band member who performed on Lips albums prior to 1991… I mean, even the website’s photo caption indicates it’s from 1994. Sheesh. ENTER TO WIN: Submit your L-R list of the musicians in the below photo to Pitchfork and win fabulous prizes! (Contest void where prohibited by law.)
Quiet and Peace from the Boston heroes arrives this Friday via North Carolina Schoolkids label.
By Blurt Staff
We’ve touted the greatness of Bill Janovitz as well as his veteran Boss-town outfit Buffalo Tom numerous times in the past (ask any staff member about his or her times in the audience back during the ’80s college rock years or, more recently, in Austin and SXSW and onward…). So to have BLURT’s compadres at the Schoolkids Records label drop the band’s new record Quiet and Peace on March 2 is a real treat – and we are soaking in the album stream posted today at the Los Angeles Times. Check it out at that link, along with an interview with the band, or selected tracks at Schoolkids’ Soundcloud page. Meanwhile, here’s a track that grabbed us here in the office by the ears this morning and didn’t let go, “Lonely, Fast and Deep” – it’s classic BT, and so true to the group’s Boston roots it should be the city’s new anthem:
The ever-diligent Dangerous Minds website has unearthed a good-quality half-hour video of the late, great Minutemen performing an unplugged set for Los Angeles public access television in 1985. The footage has circulated quite a bit in the past, including this relatively recent 2013 YouTube upload, but it’s still always a welcome addition to the daily mix. (How unplugged? Drummer George Hurley plays bongos against Mike Watt and D. Boon’s acoustic guitars.)
In addition to certain key Minutemen numbers, the video includes the band’s takes on Meat Puppets, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Blue Oyster Cult. I can personally testify to the latter pair of bands figuring high on the Boon, Watt, and Hurley Top Ten lists. To that I can testify, having hung out with the band for close to a week in 1985, interviewing them and semi-surreptitiously bootlegging their shows opening for REM that fall; BOC was frequently mentioned as an influence on Boon and Watt. The version of BOC’s “The Red and The Black” on this video is classic – all they needed was Will Ferrell to jump onstage and add some more cowbell.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the set has also been bootlegged numerous times, audio-wise, with some M-men fans going to great lengths to clean up and remaster the material. If you hunt, you can find decent quality audio downloads and maybe an actual CD version. How about an official release, gang?
“My God, I’ve been purified, I’m a human vaccine Gonna save my race with my AR 15.”
By Fred Mills
It’s called “Mass Killin’ Gun,” and it’s a new song that Peter Himmelman wrote in direct response to the Parkland massacre and the ensuing heated debate about guns and gun control. With over the top lyrics such as the ones quoted above, it should be clear to everyone except Ted Nugent and Wayne LaPierre that, here, Himmelman’s dripping with sarcasm towards the pro-gun lobby and Americans’ love affair with guns. Check it out:
Um, add YouTube to that list featuring the Nuge and the NRA maniac – as The Wrap points out, Himmelman received a takedown notice from YouTube that indicated he had violated the platform’s community standards. They stuck to their decision even after he queried the specifics of their decision, telling him, “After further review of the content, we’ve determined that your video does violate our Community Guidelines and have upheld our original decision.”
The fact that I am posted the video to the site does suggest something had been resolved between this morning and the time of The Wrap’s original post on Feb. 22, of course. But there is the larger issue of exactly what YouTube defines as their standards; overt hate speech and beheading videos would certainly qualify. But a socio-political statement in which the singer is playing a cartoonish character? Even the Parkland shooting survivors would “get it” and they’d probably applaud Himmelman for trying to make a statement; don’t forget, these were the folks who were standing and applauding at the CNN town hall meeting while Senator Marco Rubio was doing his level best to insert his size 10 wingtips into his mouth.
Himmelman told The Wrap, “It was meant to be ironic. Obviously I don’t endorse going around killing people with an AR-15. It wasn’t gun control that spurred the song. I was just trying to imagine someone so derange dand what was going through his mind.
“It’s not a shining moment for YouTube [which] claims it’s trying to give people a voice, but when you of peek behind the curtain all you see is the Wizard of Oz, and it’s just one big machine. They’ve grown so much, they’ve become just another giant bureaucracy, everything they’ve been trying to disrupt has come full circle and now they’re just the man.”
The truly ad part about all this, though, is not that YouTube took down a video by a popular artist just because they feared it might be too controversial – it’s that we have in America a pretty significant percentage of the population who will read the lyrics and not see them as ironic – and be supportive of them as a result. Why is that little voice in my head telling me that Ted Nugent will be covering this song in concert soon?
The right to bear arms is deeper than my bones It shall not be infringed upon, a law set in stone Yeah I know it’s about militias, but details are such a bore And anyway, I’m getting ready for the next civil war…
I’m holding a thing of beauty, an incredible machine Makes me feel like a man, a more powerful human being I keep it oiled, polished to a shimmering sheen I’m in love with my AR 15
I don’t use the thing for hunting I don’t keep it around for fun When society breaks down I’ll grab it and I’ll run I’ll head for the hills when the war’s finally begun You can’t kill en masse if you ain’t got a mass killin gun
There’s so much to hate, so much that is obscene Am I the only man, with no thought that is unclean My God, I’ve been purified, I’m a human vaccine Gonna save my race with my AR 15
I don’t use it for hunting I don’t keep it ’round for fun When society breaks down I’ll grab it and I’ll run I’ll head for the hills when the war’s final years begun You can’t kill en masse if you ain’t got a mass killin gun
I’m holding a thing of beauty More deadly than a guillotine It’s more than a weapon, it’s my semi-automatic wet dream With it I am invincible, I get higher than a shot of morphine You know I love my AR 15
I don’t use it for hunting I don’t keep it ’round for fun When society breaks down I’m gonna grab it and I’ll run I’ll head for the hills when the war’s final years begun You can’t kill en masse if you ain’t got a mass killin gun
Pure, unfiltered Georgia soul lined at the edges with bluesy Americana and primal punk ‘n’ roll…
BY FRED MILLS
Without a doubt, Atlanta’s Michelle Malone is one of the South’s quintessential flag-bearers, having rocked as hard and as long as all of her Georgia peers while not once serving up an artistic misstep. About to drop is her new album, Slings & Arrows, and it is a freakin’ scorcher. You want some early proof? Check out opening track “Just Getting Started” over at her Soundcloud page.
This Friday, March 2, marks the official national release of Slings & Arrows on Malone’s own SBS label (smart fans lodged their orders early on via a grassroots crowdfunding campaign, and you can still grab autographed records, colored vinyl, and teeshirts at her official website). To date, she’s released more than a dozen studio albums, and while I’m loathe to utter the cliched phrase “if you thought her last album was good, wait until you hear this one…” – her last one being Stronger Than You Think, reviewed HERE – this time out, it’s nigh-on impossible to avoid saying it.
Wait until you hear Slings & Arrows, music fans. It will absolutely, totally, kick your ass. Do I look like I’m kidding here? Our review will post in a couple of days to give you plenty of time to queue up at your local indie record store…
Blurt Audio Exclusive: Thin White Rope "The Fish Song" (from 2018 remaster of The Ruby Sea