All you fellow Australian indie devotees will remember Adelaide band the Exploding White Mice, who between 1988 and 1994 released four killer studio albums: Brute Force and Ignorance (August 1988), Exploding White Mice (1990), Collateral Damage (1992) and We Walk Alone (1994), plus the brilliant In A Next of Vipers mini-album. The group – originally Paul Gilchrist on vocals, Andy MacQueen on bass guitar, Gerry Barrett on guitar, Craig Rodda on drums and Giles Barrow on rhythm guitar; a number of lineup changes would subsequently take place– were the perfect marriage of punk and hard rock, and many Aussie watchers predicted Hoodoo Gurus-like international success. The band did make significant European inroads, but less so in the US, and eventually split in 1999.
They left behind a legion of fans with long, happy memories, though. I have every one of their records and wouldn’t trade ’em for bars of gold. Go here to watch a live video from back in the day – 1996, with latterday lineup Jeff Stephens lead guitar & vocals, Andy MacQueen bass, Dave Bunney drums, Andy Bunney guitar.
Just recently, on Oct. 12 the band reunited for Adelaide’s ADL Film Festival to mark the film Vive Le Punk, performing at the Producer’s Hotel. Watch the footage, below. As Flat Cap Productions notes, “We recently filmed Exploding White Mice to mark their 25 year reunion show at the Producers bar in Adelaide and here it is in all its glory! It was a lot of fun with a lot people reliving there memories! i would imagine a lot of sore bodies the next day.”
A 360-degree VR video directed, shot, and edited by Paul Aspuria: Use the onscreen arrows or your mouse to rotate the room and view all the participants.
By Blurt Staff
Every once in a while, paths cross at just the right time, in the right place, and within the right circumstances. Such is the case for San Francisco alternative rock upstarts Static and Surrender—Jeff Campbell [lead vocals, guitar], Adam Schuman [guitar, vocals], and John Schuman [drums]. By 2016, brothers John and Adam had established themselves in popular Bay Area stalwarts such as The Trophy Fire, landing critical acclaim and gigging alongside everyone from Dredg to The Dear Hunter. Within that same scene, Jeff earned recognition by receiving national songwriting awards, shared the stage with titans such as John Mayer, and fronted Pine and Battery, among other acts. One night, a chance encounter between Jeff and Adam paved the way for what would become Static and Surrender.
They wasted no time and entered a Berkeley, CA studio with producer Jim Greer [The Rondo Brothers, Foster the People,) to bring their ideas to life. They also quickly caught the attention of Los Angeles based Funzalo Records label head Mike Lembo, who flew to San Francisco to see them live and immediately liked what he heard.
In advance of their upcoming full-length Static and Surrender, the band has joined forces with Blurt to give a sneak peek of what’s to come in the form of a single song release and new video for the song “If Only We Could Sleep” Brought to life in a 360-degree VR format, the song showcases the band’s depth and
“Lyrically, I wrote that song when I was struggling with insomnia,” recalls frontman Campbell. “It was around the time of the election, and there was a lot of negativity popping up. The climate brought out the worst in people. That negativity drives some of us so crazy we can’t sleep. The video reflects the nightmare.”
Sharon Jones wrote “Call on God” in the late 1970’s for E.L. Fields’ Gospel Wonders, a choir she sang with throughout most of her life at the Universal Church of God in New York City.
This original recording with the Dap-Kings dates to early 2007 during sessions for the album ‘100 Days, 100 Nights’. Just like on the song “Answer Me” from that album, Sharon played all the piano and sang her parts live with the band, providing very specific direction of exactly how she wanted the music to sound. Though she always provided input on all her songs, it wasn’t common for Sharon to take full charge of the arrangements like she did on these two gospel tracks. It was so inspiring for the band that they made a pact to record an entire gospel album with her at the helm. “Call on God” was put aside to be included on that eventual gospel album – but sadly, the project was never completed.
On December 18th, 2016, Pastor Margot Fields, E.L.’s widow, presided over Sharon’s memorial service in Brooklyn which was attended by several of the original members of the Gospel Wonders who had come in from different parts of the country to help celebrate Sharon’s life. Together again, they performed a moving tribute to Sharon as part of the service. After the service, Bosco Mann and the Dap-Kings invited the singers, all great friends of Sharon’s, back to the Daptone House of Soul studios in Bushwick to finish “Call on God” with them. At the studio, the members of the choir put on headphones and heard Sharon’s voice singing the song she wrote for them three decades earlier. Sharon always wanted to add background vocals to the song and she would have been happy to know that her old friends had come through to sing with her one final time.
Latest track from the NC musician’s recent, soul-infused album.
By Fred Mills
Back in August we profiled North Carolina’s Michael Rank, the former Snatches of Pink frontman and uber-prolific solo artist, who’d just released his latest album, a triple-disc set (!) called Another Love that finds him immersing himself in classic ’70s-style soul and funk. One of the key tracks is “Women In Love,” of which Rank told me at the time, “It’s just got that thing. It bubbles. It’s sexy. It’s like the sound of wet marbles.“
Now we’ve got a remarkable new video for the tune. It was directed by Rank and Daniel Andrews, and it depicts the singer pitching major woo in the direction of his honey, played by Zuri Adimu. Check it out:
Rank talks about the video, saying, “After the disco action and silver sparkle of our ‘Satellite’ video I wanted this final clip to be a different beast. It’s such a sexy and chill track that I really wanted a heavy blue-light minimalist vibe. Where the smallest gestures and smiles and darts of the eyes are what create all the big action. I wanted to place a look that recalled a fashion print ad, like those old Calvin Klein ’70s wood paneled basement rec-room shots that always felt a little unsettling and awkward and yet still always sexy. To flip the traditional male ego found in most music videos and have a clip where the viewer is left smiling at whether my female counter would just as soon take me or leave me. And man, I’d honestly say we hit on all those marks!!!”
Also appearing on Austin City Limits this weekend.
By Barbi Martinez
With her November 10 Phases release date just around the corner – Nov. 10, to be precise – Asheville rocker Angel Olsen is prepping for an extensive fall and winter tour. She also has a new video for the song “Special,” which you can view below. We are advised that the Olsen-directed Super 8 video is “oozing with Asheville, NC vibes. Chilling in truck beds, sipping on lattes in the park, communing with nature.” (BLURT will have our editor, who also happens to live in the NC mountain town Asheville, verify this.)
Olsen also commented on the video, saying, “My friend came to visit me for a week and I had all these grand ideas about how to make another video. But it’s been a long year of touring and videos and pressure to keep on being important or interesting. So I woke up the next day and changed my mind, deciding it would be best to just capture the days we were hanging and to occasionally have the camera up. Those days were some of the hardest and also sweetest of the summer. We spent much of the time talking about the current state of affairs and how everyone has been going through tremendous change and having to make hard choices. Maybe it’s just this year, but it feels that we’re entering a new era, one that requires us to really pay more attention to the world and ourselves in it. What I realized is that going through a hard time and talking about it with friends makes you feel your friendships and who you are, and sometimes it takes a weird year to recognize what you still have.”
As we get older, more and more of us experience sleep related issues of some sort. For many people — including a close friend of mine whose condition inspired this piece — this takes the form of insomnia. I myself find it harder to sleep through the night than I used to (oh, to be 20 again when you could blow a building up around me while I was asleep and I wouldn’t bat an eye!). And many people I talk to, of varying ages and backgrounds, admit to having insomnia or some other form of sleep disturbance. Seems you can’t go a week without somebody mentioning Ambien…
Here, then, are a dozen songs for those nights when you find yourself wide awake but not by choice. They are culled from six decades of popular music and the artists range from Cheap Trick to Norah Jones and from Sinatra to Metallica. These tunes may not put you to sleep — but at least they’ll reassure you that you’re not alone while you’re wrestling with your demons.
We’ve created a Spotify playlist for the tunes, and you can also check out video/audio for each track below.
1. “Enter Sandman” — Metallica (1991)
Let’s kick things off with a song that’s guaranteed to induce screams and chills! “Enter Sandman” was the lead single from Metallica’s fifth album, a self-titled disc they unveiled in 1991. More than 25 years later, it still stands as the perfect soundtrack for your night terrors. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett shreds for his life while James Hetfield sings a very dark lullaby. “Hush little baby, don’t say a word/And never mind that noise you heard/It’s just the beasts under your bed/In your closet, in your head…”
Off to Never Never Land we go, with these California thrash-metal kings leading the way….
2. “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” — Frank Sinatra (1955)
In total contrast to Metallica, our second entry on this insomnia mix tape is a ‘50s standard by Frank Sinatra. He didn’t write “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” and he’s not the only artist to record it, but there’s no denying that this ballad — the title track of his 1955 album — is synonymous with Sinatra. “In the wee small hours of the morning,” he sings, “While the whole wide world is fast asleep, you lie awake and think about the girl and never, ever think of counting sheep.” Who among us can’t relate to that sentiment?
3. “Chasing Pirates” — Norah Jones (2009)
Jumping ahead five decades and change, we find ourselves still wide awake but with Norah Jones picking up where Sinatra left off. The opening track from her excellent 2009 album The Fall, “Chasing Pirates” is a lovely song about being too wound up to sleep. Only Norah could make insomnia sound appealing!
4. “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” — Warren Zevon (1976)
In this writer’s humble opinion, the late Warren Zevon was one of the finest singer-songwriters of the 1970s. The rocking “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” appears on his 1976 self-titled outing. It features wailing harmonica, improvised bits of Spanish from Jorge Calderon and some of Zevon’s most twisted lyrics. To wit: “I got a .38 special up in the shelf/If I start actin’ stupid, I’ll shoot myself…”
It’s worth noting that Zevon released a song called “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” 16 years before pop-metal poser Jon Bon Jovi did….;)
5. “Up All Night” — The Boomtown Rats (1981)
Before he became known for Live Aid and other projects, Bob Geldof led The Boomtown Rats, an eclectic band that stormed out of Ireland in the mid ’70s armed with a bunch of great tunes. This song, like the one that follows, is called “Up All NIght” — but that’s about all they have in common. The Rats’ “Up All Night” — which appeared on their 1981 album Mondo Bongo and got some AOR airplay back in the day — features an appealingly off-kilter arrangement and Geldof’s Bowiesque vocals.
6. “Up All Night” — The Records (1979)
The Records were an English foursome best known for the great hit “Starry Eyes,” from their self-titled 1979 debut. “Up All Night” is an ethereal, Beatlesque ballad which demonstrates the underrated songwriting genius of Will Birch and John Wicks. The best line is probably when Wicks sings, “Six o’clock and the town is waking now/Workers are on their way, don’t ask me how/They have to take their daily ride/I hear the paper boy outside…”
If insomnia has a moment of pure pop magic, this could be it.
7. “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep At All” — The 5th Dimension (1972)
Our next entry is a soft-pop classic from the early ‘70s. “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep At All” scored The 5th Dimension a top 10 hit in 1972. Written by Englishman Tony Macaulay and featuring the velvet-voiced Marilyn McCoo on vocals, it ruled the AM airwaves. Who couldn’t appreciate the line, “Maybe I should call you up and just forget my foolish pride/I heard your number ring and I went cold inside?”
8. “I’m So Tired” — The Beatles (1968)
“I’m So Tired,” from The Beatles’ self-titled set (AKA ‘The White Album’) wasn’t a hit but it remains one of their great album tracks and is a fearsome slice of insomnia in two minutes and change. John Lennon expresses a similar sentiment to Marilyn McCoo but in strikingly different terms! “I wonder should I call you but I know what you would do!” he screams. Ironically, Lennon had written the beautiful “I’m Only Sleeping” a scant two years earlier. My, how things changed for the man in a short time!
9. “Overkill” — Men At Work (1983)
“Overkill” was the biggest single from Men At Work’s sophomore album, Cargo. It was released at the height of the band’s popularity and the video became deservedly popular on MTV (this is back when MTV played videos, for you young ‘uns). Despite its infectious melody, “Overkill” features dark lyrics such as “I can’t get to sleep/I think about the implications,” “Alone between the sheets/Only brings exasperation” and the great refrain, “Ghosts appear and fade away.” Men At Work would fade away themselves a couple of years later but when this song was released, they were arguably the biggest band on the planet. Frontman Colin Hay has said that this is his favorite song from his days with the Men — and it’s easy to see why.
10. “I’m Not Sleeping” — Counting Crows (1996)
It’s no secret that Adam Duritz of Counting Crows is a notorious insomniac; several of the band’s songs deal with night terrors or the inability to get to sleep. The one I’ve included is “I’m Not Sleeping,” from the Crows’ sophomore set, Recovering the Satellites. It’s a ballad but it’s tortured as opposed to tender. And that torture builds to a crescendo that includes a Psycho string section and Duritz screaming lyrics about a woman who won’t let him get the shuteye he so desperately needs.
11. “Dream Police” — Cheap Trick (1979)
Cheap Trick had a nice run of hits between the late 70s and the late 80s but this one — the title track from their 1979 album — may be the most dramatic. Lead singer Robin Zander was known as “the man of a thousand voices” early in the band’s career. On this rock and roll ode to nightmares, he shows us why.
On a related note — Rockford, Illinois’ finest is currently in the midst of their most prolific period in decades and is gearing up to release a Christmas collection (their third album in two years!).
12. “Insomniac’s Lullaby” — Paul Simon (2016)
Our final song is also the most recent track of the 12. “Insomniac’s Lullaby” finds the great Paul Simon in quietly existential mode. “Oh Lord, don’t keep me up all night with questions I can’t understand,” he pleads. But by the end of the song, he concludes, “We eventually all fall asleep.” “Insomniac’s Lullaby” closes Simon’s 2016 album Stranger to Stranger — and it’s also a great way to end this mixtape.
North Carolina outfit combines folk, bluegrass, prog, psych, and gypsy jazz to create something unique and otherworldly.
By Fred Mills
A few months ago the Jon Stickley Trio, Asheville’s premiere prog-grass/blue-gressive (both my terms, take your pick), dropped their latest full-length, Maybe Believe, to across-the-board critical acclaim. Since then the guitar/violin/percussion group has been steadily touring—their jammy, fusion-rooted sound makes them a mainstay of the festival circuit—and along the way there have been a number of Stickley Trio-related interesting and catchy videos to pop up. Among my faves:
More recently, the ever-diligent music archivists of the Southern Songs And Stories documentary series, Joe Kendrick and Aaron Morell, have put together a Stickley Trio segment in which flatpicking virtuoso Stickley, violinist Lyndsay Pruett and drummer Patrick Armitage take a quick breather from their SpringSkunk Music Festival performances and talk with Kendrick and Morell about their career in music thus far. You can watch the 36-minute video here, or check out an excerpt via the 3-minute teaser, below; both include some dynamic performance segments. There will also be an extended podcast of the band interview available soon.
If the Stickley Trio comes anywhere near your town, run, don’t walk, to the box office and grab your tickets – I guarantee this is a band not to be missed in concert.
TMZ posted video earlier today of Courtney Love telling a reporter that young women should stay away from Harvey Weinstein – you may have heard something about the Hollywood heavyweight recently in the news. Love, attending the 2005 Pamela Anderson roast hosted by Comedy Central, was asked on the red carpet, “Do you have any advice for a young girl moving to Hollywood?”
Her succinct reply, after a slight hesitation, “I’ll get libeled if I say it,” she says, presumably intending to mean she could get sued for libel, then drops the bomb. “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party at the Four Seasons, don’t go.”
A couple of hours after TMZ posted the video, Love issued a clarifying statement via Twitter: “Although I wasn’t one of his victims, I was eternally banned by CAA for speaking out against Harvey Weinstein.”
Slot Machine, who worked with legendary British producer Steve Lillywhite for their 2016 record, have taken Asia by storm. Their infectious blend of rock and pop plus their good looks have led them to be plastered across many a bedroom wall. With their hit record Spin the World recently released by Sony Records, the band has continued to break countless sales records, both in Thailand and across Asia.
Their dynamically staged, sold out show known as the “Mothership” bodes well for them to remain darlings of Asia’s mega-arena scene for a long time to come. Below, watch their energized, bordering-on-U2-theatrical video for “And We Go,” from Spin the World, and check them out at their official website.
Meet Ian Clownfish: vocals, Hook: Bass, Bernard Salmon: Guitar, Steve Moray: Drums.
By Barbi Martinez
What would you say to the iconic tune “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as “Lures Will Catch Us a Carp,” or Transmission” as “Trout Fishin’?” How about “Dead Souls” as “Dead Soles” with lyrics that go “they keep trawling me, keep on trawling me”?
Sounds pretty fishy, right?
Koi Division is the latest outfit to be swimming against the current in oh-so-trendy Los Angeles, and as the LA Weekly described the quartet in a recent profile, “Donning black clothes and plastic fish masks, they wind their way through Joy Division covers with modified lyrics that explore the daily, often baleful, goings-on of the sea. Their shows incorporate a bubble machine and display a beachy version of the iconic Unknown Pleasures album art behind them. Though it might seem as if they’re mocking, there is a reverence behind the humor.”
Not much I can add to that, so in lieu of a deep critical analysis…
A Blurt Boot Exclusive: Chuck Prophet, Stephanie Finch & The Mission Express - Tom Petty's The Waiting (San Francisco Oct. 6, 2017)
A Blurt Boot Exclusive: Husker Du - MC5's Ramblin' Rose (Hoboken 4/11/86), from Complete Covers Collection
Blurt Exclusive: Parson Red Heads "Coming Down" (from forthcoming June '17 album)
Blurt Video Exclusive: Twinkle Star "Wasting Life Together"/"Release Yourself"