Tag Archives: blurt blog

Fred Mills: That Vinyl Goldrush? Don’t Cash Those Checks Just Yet…

vinyl

Thanks to ill-informed dialogue from Kim Komando and other consumer tech gurus, any monkey with a typewriter, er, box of moldy old LPs thinks he/she is on the eBay road to riches. Guess what? You’ve been duped.  BLURT’s helpful hint: check “completed listings.”

BY FRED MILLS

It’s a familiar scenario these days: some mainstream media outlet publishes yet another article about the current resurgence—“explosion” is the occasional term, and not without total merit; see below—of vinyl, and suddenly the hinterlands are alive with the sound of (vinyl-borne) music, wherein every Johnny, Judy and Aunt Marge within earshot gets the proverbial dollar signs in their peepers because they just remembered that somewhere in their basement, attic, tool shed or rent-in-arrears storage unit they’ve got a dusty, beat-up, poorly-packed, climate-challenged box of Johnny Mathis, Mitch Miller and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass LPs they’d totally forgotten about.

Here’s a preemptive tip, folks: run, don’t walk, to the nearest trash bin with that load. (Emphasis load.) I’ve done it plenty of times, particularly over the course of the past 3 years while I toiled at a small but successful North Carolina independent record store. I mean, seriously: who are you gonna believe, someone who’s actually in the business of buying and selling a commercial product who willingly dumpstered hundreds of pieces of that product, or some self-styled personal tech maven with a radio show who claims she’s got the inside track on how to turn those dust-gathering antiques into cold hard cash?

Sigh. I should have guessed which one you’d pick. But hopefully you are at a stop light, reading this on your smartphone, and will see the light before THE light changes, then turn around, go back home, and put that box of LPs out by the curb. Or drop by the Goodwill store if it’s on your route.

Kim

Now, I have nothing against radio personality Kim Komando (not a made up name, although that bleached ‘do is remarkably Real Housewives-esque), who is billed as “host of an American talk radio program based on the popularity of smartphones, televisions, tablets, personal computers, the use of the Internet, and the complexities of buying and using all forms of consumer electronics.” Fair enough. We probably need more tutorials in the media, not less, given how dense the average consumer tends to be. Still, that old saying stick with what you know does come to mind from time to time when listening to her or reading her editorials in the print and online media. Because when she doesn’t stick with what she knows and ventures into foreign territory, the fact that she has a pretty significant audience that’s earnest but naïve means that she can create a monster in the space of a single missive. Which means, in turn, that she can also create a ton of problems for those of us out here in analog land.

Such is the case with a recent, and borderline klueless, Komando kolumn, “Old items collecting dust could net eBay cash,” published in USA Today this past week. In it, she returns to a topic beloved by all, the value of your old crap at eBay. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, although with eBay now 20 years old and counting one supposes that anybody who is just now discovering the online marketplace has been living in a cave with a dial-up modem and a clock-flashing Betamax for company. Those old Beanie Babies your granddaughter forgot about and left at your house some time ago? Dang, Marge, they just might be worth their weight in plastic pellets nowadays, so get off that telephone so’s we can plug our computer in and get online to check them out!

In the USA Today column (recycled from her online posting earlier in the month, by the way; the daily newspaper is rarely ahead of the curve when it comes to popular culture), Komando proposes you peruse your old stash of videotapes, iPods and vinyl records because there just might be gold in them there boxes. Of the first, well, that’s probably a judgment call. True, a lot of out-of-print material still has yet to be released on DVD or Blu-ray, but one supposes that the first line of attack might be to scare up an old VHS deck that’s in good working condition in order to determine whether or not that Black Diamond Edition of The Little Mermaid you hung onto will still actually play. There’s a pretty good chance it won’t, given the finite lifespan of videotapes, a little factoid that Komando konveniently forgot to mention in her column. “Prices… vary wildly based on condition, version and how many you’re offering,” she adds, almost as an afterthought. Now I’m not saying that a “rare” VHS tape can’t have glitches repaired, but the bottom line is that if the magnetic tape is stretched, flaking and otherwise just worn out, it’s worthless. (Nobody “bakes” VHS tapes to restore them. The Little Mermaid is not a Jimi Hendrix outtakes reel.)

Regarding iPods, well, there are so many for sale on eBay right now, of every possible generation/iteration and of varying conditions (some have original boxes, earbuds, USB connectors, etc.; some are loose and scratched), that it’s impossible to get a reading on precise values. This is a common experience on eBay, of course, and speaking as someone who has bought and sold on eBay for about 15 years now, all I can tell you is that (1) do your research before buying OR selling on eBay; (2) always check the “completed listings” function rather than what people are trying to get for their swag, because if one guy wants 50 bucks for an item but the same one has routinely been selling for 20, then that item is only worth 20 bucks, capice?; and (3) check the sellers’ ratings to get a sense of whether or not they actually know what they are doing and will treat you, the customer, with respect.

(Aside: after reading Komando’s iPod screed I did momentarily see dollar signs in my eyes over my kid’s old iPod Shuffle (silver; 2009 3rd gen; 4gb capacity; original box, earbuds and USB connector). Then I saw that it is currently changing hands for between $17 and $22, which in all honesty just ain’t worth the hassle of listing, selling and shipping. I’ll keep it instead, fully charged, in case the apocalypse hits and I want to spend my last 18 hours listening to a bunch of Clash and Springsteen live bootlegs on “random.”)

But Komando’s “informed” tutorial on vinyl records is what simultaneously angered and alarmed me. Go HERE to read her original column at her Komando.com website. In it she pretty much tells Grandma Marge, Uncle Lester and Feebleminded Cousin Ralph that they are on the verge of hitting the lottery if they’ll only drag that box out of the attic and brush a little of the dust off:

“Depending on the record or collection, you can make some serious money. User “albertjukebox” is selling his collection of 13,000 high-quality records for $278,000. Of course, you probably don’t have a collection quite that large, and he’s probably not going to get that price.

“Still, if you have a rare early record, say from the ’30s or ’40s, you can list it for $10,000 or more. An original or otherwise noteworthy record of a famous artist like Nirvana, Pink Floyd, or the Beatles, can list for several thousand. You might have a set of albums from Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones or someone other artist that together could be worth a bundle. Even if you don’t think an album or collection is worth anything, it’s still not a bad idea to post them.

“Just glancing down the list of high-priced albums for sale, there are plenty from obscure artists and genres you wouldn’t expect would sell. You never know what some collector or fan might be dying to get their hands on.”

Oh sweet jeezus. Hey Kim, guess what? You had them at “list it for $10,000.” And that’s ALL they heard. After that, it was just white noise buzzing in their ears as they mentally tallied their future bank balances.

While I am no longer at the record store due to having recently moved across the state, I am still active on eBay and buying private record collections on occasion. In addition, I am in regular contact with fellow dealers and a number of record store owners and employees, and the near-unanimous consensus is that articles like Komando’s do NOT help at all—in fact, they undermine our collective business by reducing it to a simple old = valuable formula, which as any dealer of antiques or vintage cars will tell you is a recipe for disaster if that’s your only guideline.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a tutorial on how to buy and sell used vinyl. Smarter and more experienced guys than me have written entire books on the subject. And in all fairness to Komando, she did include one caveat at the end of her vinyl screed, my point #(1): “Just be sure you do a little research first.” Indeed, that should be your mantra if you decide to get into the used wax business. Wait, I didn’t copy her entire sentence: she also wrote “so you don’t charge too little.” Oh gawd. Too little. “Okay, Marge, let’s see if we can get $10,999 for that Blind Melon Chitlin’ rekkird from 1932 over there in that box… did you ever find the cover for it?”

Here’s what happens when well-meaning-but-clueless consumer gurus put a bunch of poorly-phrased information out to the public: that public in turn responds with a bunch of clueless, poorly-executed actions. I absolutely, positively, 100% guarantee you that the very morning the September 16 issue of USA Today hit newsstands and mailboxes, within an hour independent record stores across America started getting phonecalls from Marge, Lester and Ralph—or, perhaps, their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters and caretakers—inquiring about their desire to turn those boxes of battered LPs into cold hard cash. Here’s the phonecall that every record retailer dreads:

Them: “I’ve got a box of old records that I found after cleaning out my late Grandma Marge’s attic…”

Us: “What kind of records do you have?”

Them [eagerly]:“Well, they are REALLY old!”

Us [hesitantly]: “Uhh, um… what are some of the records you have?”

Them [triumphantly]: “Well, it’s a LOT of records. They are really old. I read in USA Today that old records are really selling well again. Your store buys old records, right?”

Us [trapped]: “Ahhhhh… yes. It depends. Could you tell me just a few of the records you have?”

Them [bothered]: “I’ll have to go get the box. Hold on a minute, this phone cord won’t stretch that far… [long pause, sound of a box being pushed across the floor] Okay, umm, here is a Johnny Mathis, love that young man! Also Perry Como, Barbra Streisand… and, oh yes, Herb Albert and his Tee-ju-wanna Brass…”

Us [hopefully]: “For Herb Al-PERT, do you have “Whipped Cream and Other Delights?”

Them [confused]: “What was that?”

Us: “Never mind. Do you have any first generation iPods you want to get rid of?”

***

I rest my case. Honestly, Kim, while I know you are populist to a fault, every time a vinyl-related article like yours is published, it simultaneously distorts the realities of the record market (which in turn, sets unduly high expectations among the public) and makes the jobs of the folks who actually have a stake in keeping the market stable and prosperous more difficult.

Put another way, in language you might understand: yes, there is a vinyl explosion currently going on, but with pie-in-the-sky reports and loaded lingo such as yours, there is also a bubble being created. Everyone knows what happens with bubbles: they pop. (If you need to, refer to “tech” and “housing” from years gone by, just to refresh yourself.) But it’s unnecessary. We collectors, fans, dealers and just plain maniacs have been doing great all along, and everyone has been pretty happy, whether we traffic on eBay, Discogs, GEMM or the so-called “dark web” (that’s where you can find Prince and Jeff Buckley bootlegs, FYI).

To summarize: Please. Stop. Now.

Admittedly, once in awhile a retailer or dealer does indeed unearth a genuine nugget, so the general rule of thumb is to at least take a quick look at the person’s box of junk. Coming a copy of the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today with the butcher cover is the exception rather than the rule, however. The screening process on the phone outlined above—if during the conversation they don’t can’t a single artist that has value, you gently inform them that the collection is probably not going to net them anything—has proven to be pretty effective, saving the retailer time and saving the customer the hassle of hauling the box down to the store. It’s worth noting that if they come away thinking they’ve wasted their time and energy, they blame the retailer and figure that he really doesn’t know jack about records after all. You don’t want to insult a customer, even unintentionally, because they will go home, get on Yelp, and complain about how rude and ignorant you are.

Of course, some folks simply refuse to believe you when you tell them that every pre-‘70s collection is going to have Johnny Mathis and Herb Alpert in it, or (if you’re feeling kinda sadistic that day) that anybody who might have wanted a Perry Como album is probably dead by now. Sometimes you also have to tell them that while they have a few nice pieces in the collection they are just too beat up to sell, which generates a response bordering in incredulity: “But it’s a BEATLES record! Beatles records are VALUABLE!” “Um, sorry ma’am, but that Sgt. Pepper’s you have there is missing the inserts, the spine has been shredded by cats, and the actual record looks like it was used as practice for a pumpkin carving contest.” Translation: they still don’t believe you, they still decide you’re a dummy, and they still get on Yelp. You can’t win.

Now let’s be clear: we are in the middle of what most folks will agree is an unprecedented vinyl revival. Some speculate that the same thing has happened or will happen with cassettes, but that’s confusing a retro/hipster fad with an actual trend. Cassettes are an inferior audio format—more so than even VHS tapes. (Don’t even get me started on the so-called 8-Track Revival.) Whereas vinyl was never truly supplanted by each new format iteration, and it never actually lost its audience. The reason no one was buying new LPs was because they weren’t being manufactured, so of course they weren’t shopping in record stores any more. Dealers in used vinyl continued to do decent business because there were still tons of collectors out there. Granted, it wasn’t always enough to justify staying in business, which in addition to the disappearance of new wax is why a lot of retailers closed up shop in the ‘90s and ‘00s.

But vinyl never went away, and in fact it did continue to be made by specialty labels and never-say-die indies. It’s just that now all the labels, including the mega-monoliths like Universal, Sony and WEA, have realized that for some bizarre reason, people want new vinyl again, both as new releases and as reissues. So naturally they are going to jump back into the game, hoping to recoup at least partially in the face of the dip in revenue wrought by digital streaming, in the process jacking up prices, which has had the ancillary effect of causing the prices of used records to rise, and… can you spell B-U-B-B-L-E?

Aw hell, vinyl also never lost its charm—it’s a lotta fun to collect, to sell, to trade, to covet. The current explosion may have been kickstarted (term used metaphorically) by hipsters, but it was bolstered by longtime fans who’d previously been frustrated they couldn’t find anything except at inflated eBay prices and who now are thrilled they can make that weekly trek down to the record store and resume their hunting. Things will crest and plateau off, and there will be an inevitable “correction” in the market (to use an Economics term) and a decline of some sort, but as vinyl has endured all these years, so too will it continue to endure. Viva le wax!

But please, Kim Komando & Co., no more stories about $10,000 records being discovered in the attic. You’re just fucking things up.

James McMurtry: I heard Woodrow Wilson’s guns

Wilson

For his latest installment of his Blurt blog “Wasteland Bait & Tackle” the Texas songwriter takes a look at US military policy and wonders if it has really changed any over the years.

BY JAMES MCMURTRY

 

I heard Maria crying

Late last night I heard the news

That Veracruz was dying 

——Warren Zevon

I was having trouble remembering the lyrics to Warren Zevon’s fine song, ”Veracruz”, so I went to the information superhighway for help. I found the lyrics and a bit of history on the subject of the song, the U.S. invasion and brief occupation of the Mexican port of Veracruz in 1914. It seems President Wilson didn’t like Presidente Huerta, and found an excuse to invade. Some US sailors had been arrested for wandering into the wrong part of Tampico. The sailors were released with an official apology, but the US Commanding Officer’s demand of a twenty one gun salute was ignored, so in went the Marines on Wilson’s orders. No doubt, there was more to it, something about a shady arms deal involving US, Russian, and German investors. This from Wikipedia:

 

After the fighting ended, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered that fifty-six Medals of Honor be awarded to participants in this action, the most for any single action before or since. This amount was half as many as had been awarded for the Spanish–American War, and close to half the number that would be awarded during World War I and the Korean War. A critic claimed that the excess medals were awarded by lot.[15][16] Major Smedley Butler, a recipient of one of the nine Medals of Honor awarded to Marines, later tried to return it, being incensed at this “unutterable foul perversion of Our Country’s greatest gift”[citation needed] and claiming he had done nothing heroic. The Department of the Navy told him to not only keep it, but wear it.

 The Major retired as a Major General and wrote this about his service in his book, “War is a Racket”:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

 

Given that Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root were the major beneficiaries of the Iraq invasion, an invasion now threatening the presidential prospects of Jeb Bush due to the widening acceptance of the evidence that it was conducted on the basis of falsified intelligence, can we say that anything has changed in US military policy since 1914? By the way Mr. President, why are we still at war?

John B. Moore: I Don’t Wanna Grow Up w/Andrew Jackson Jihad

Andrew Jackson Jihad

Ace guitarist Sean Bonnette on the Arizona band’s take on acoustic punk as well as achieving high profile status as the latest signing to venerable punk label SideOneDummy.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Acoustic punk rock is not exactly a new idea. Billy Bragg has been doing it for decades and folks like Chuck Ragan and Frank Turner have managed to completely remake their careers by simply pulling out the plug. So what does an acoustic punk band have to do to stand out in 2014? Writing bizarrely hysterical songs certainly helps, like Andrew Jackson Jihad’s “The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving.”

The Arizona band has enjoyed cult status since their first record in 2005 and playing on some high profile tours, like The Queers and Against Me!, helped bring the band to venues across the globe.

Now recently signed to SideOneDummy, the upper echelon of independent punk rock labels (with a roster that has included folks like Gaslight Anthem and Flogging Molly), and a fantastic new record, Christmas Island, the band is in for a big 2014.

Guitarist/singer Sean Bonnette took some time recently to answer a few questions about the new record, their new label and being taken seriously while still writing quirky songs.

BLURT: This year marks a decade that the band has been in existence – at least for two of you (Bonnette and Ben Gallaty, upright bass). Did you have any idea you guys would get this big and still be going after 10 years?

SEAN BONNETTE: Nope! We started this band with very low expectations, everything that has happened since has been amazing and rather unexpected.

 

Can you talk a little bit about writing this album? Did you do anything different? Did it take longer than previous records?

The answer to both of those questions is yes. It did take longer, and I think that’s because I was initially trying to write an album instead of trying to write songs. Things really got cooking after John reminded me to just write songs as they come and not think of them in terms of their place in an album. Writing an album is intimidating, whereas writing songs is fun.

 

When people talk about the band they always use terms like goofy and fun, but there are also some serious elements to your music, with this record in particular. Is that a conscious decision you made to try and balance the moods?

I wouldn’t say it’s a decision I am aware of because most of the times I consciously try to write something it turns out wrong. The best songs are the ones where I have the least amount of mental control, when I’m in the zone. That said, I think a sense of humor is a great thing to have, it allows one to broach uncomfortable subjects a lot easier. I think I learned that from my family.

ajj-xmas-island-5x5 w text

Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Linda Ronstadt” – probably my favorite song from the record? [Random Trivia Ed. note: while I lived in Tucson, the titular Ms. Ronstadt resided on the street behind the record store where I worked and was a regular customer there, as was a brother of hers.]

Thanks! That one’s probably my favorite too. That song is unique to the rest of our catalogue in the sense that the song is about the inspiration. I actually wrote it on the same day that it happened.

 

You guys spent a lot of time touring last year and put out the live record. This year seems to be just as busy. How do you manage to stay sane when you are constantly in a different place each day?

Rumors of our breakneck touring schedule are greatly exaggerated, we only toured for about three weeks last year, but we love that people think we tour more than we do. This year is going to be more intense, probably about three months of touring. Here is some free advice on how to stay sane on tour: drink lots of water, bring plenty of pillows, and reserve time to talk with loved ones on the phone.

 

Was this year first time recording with John Congleton?

This was our first time and hopefully not our last.

 

How was the experience?

John is amazing. He kept us on track and excited for the whole process, didn’t let anyone agonize over small details, and I think he made us a better band. His philosophy behind this record was to make the AJJ record he wanted to hear, to embolden the things about us that are unique, and I love that.

 

You guys have been on Asian Man Records for years. How did you connect with the folks at SideOne?

We’ve known people at SideOne for years. I first met Joe Sib when he invited me out to his California Calling show in Phoenix. We’ve known Matty B. (Matt Baldwin, who handles SideOne tours) for a long time as well. They are all amazing people. We started talking about putting out the record with them in November, when Kenny (Czadzeck, who handles digital marketing for the label) hit us up the day after we played VLHS in Pomona, California.

 

What’s next for the band?

We are touring the US and Canada this summer and going overseas in the fall, after that, who knows? All the while I plan on joyfully writing songs.

 

John B. Moore’s regular BLURT column on all things punk is titled “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.” Get into the pit with him – such as this recent entry – at your own risk.

John B. Moore: The Damn Choir, Interviewed

TheDamnChoir_2014_by_Vanessa_Buholzer

JBM checking in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”

 I DON’T WANNA GROW UP / JOHN B. MOORE

 Being raised in a fanatically strict, fundamentalist household – where even your choice in music could be an indicator if you’d spend your afterlife up in the clouds or sentenced to the pits of hell – can really have an affect a kid. For Gordon Robertson, it helped shape the musician he is today.

 Long since removed from that church, Robertson, now fronting the aptly named The Damn Choir, has spent the past few years in his quest to write the “perfect hymn,” something a little more sincere and relatable than the songs he was surrounded by in church. Judging by the 13 tracks that made it onto his band’s debut, Creatures of Habit, he’s pretty damn close.

 Robertson, now based in Chicago, spoke recently about his background, his quest to write a more appropriate hymn and his band’s connection with pit bulls.  

BLURT: You talk in your bio a little about growing up in a fundamentalist household. How did that shape this band?

GORDON ROBINSON: Growing up in a fundamentalist house was a very different experience as you can imagine. I have four sisters and one brother, and we were all homeschooled. This shaped the music because I was forced to be creative. My school was a tiny house filled with kids, dogs, cats, lizards, and everything you need to know about God.  

 

Were you allowed to listen to rock music growing up?

 I was not allowed to listen to rock music.  When I was a kid, the music I knew was DC Talk, The News Boys, and Steven Curtis Chapmen.  All Christian alternative bands. I remember going to a friend’s house and he was watching “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.” I saw Mick Jagger and all I could think is, “he is so cool.”  I think that was my first taste of rock and roll.  

 

Can you talk about your quest to write the “perfect hymn?”

 I wanted to write a hymn that made sense to me.  When I was a kid, I would hear people in my church singing these hymns about how everything is perfect, but I knew there was nothing perfect about their lives. In my opinion, a hymn should be honest and sometimes hard to listen to.  

 

How long have you been working on the songs that made Creatures of Habit?

 Creatures of Habit took us two years to write. We thought we finished it a year-and-a-half in, but then Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Apples in Stereo, Evan Dando, etc.) wanted to produce the album. He didn’t quit hear a complete album yet, so we kept writing. We wrote around 25 songs and kept 13. 

 

There has been some lineup changes over the years. How did you pull the current version of the band together?

 There have been a lot of lineup changes over the years. It’s not easy to find people that want to travel in a windowless van and not get paid. But we have a solid crew and we are super excited to see how this album does.  

 

Can you talk for a minute about the inspiration behind the song “Violet”?

 “Violet” is about someone I love moving to New York from Chicago. The song talks about a day we spent together in Ohio walking through fields of corn and wheat, and she tells me she is moving to New York.  The song is named after Bryce Goggin’s daughter.  

 

Chicago obviously has a great track record for music (punk, alt rock, blues, etc.). How would you describe the music scene there? 

 The music scene in Chicago is great. It gets a really bad rap from most bands. It’s not always easy to get people out because there are a million shows and the weather sucks. The local music is so good though. I’ve been humbled so many times from Chicago local bands like Paper Thick Walls, Brendan Losch, Archie Powell & The Exports (to name a few). There is so much talent it keeps you shape.  

 

Can you talk about how you guys got involved with Pit Bull advocacy? 

 I’ve always have had pit bulls and we wanted to do some sort of charity. I found A New Leash on Life and loved what they are doing. They are finding homes for dogs through social media. I found a local Chicago artist and gave her a picture of my pit bull, Snorkel, and she designed us a shirt for A New Leash on Life. Five dollars from every shirt sold goes to the dog rescue. 

 

So what’s next for you and the band?

 We are going to be on the road for the next year touring with our new album, sleeping on floors, eating Taco Bell, and selling dog shirts.  

 

Anything else you want to cover?

 I just want to thank you for your questions, and thank all of the great members of our team: our publicist Heather West, our booking agent Kat Lewis, our families and friends, our backers, and all of the people we’ve met so far on this tour. 

 

Photo Credit: Vanessa Buholzer

John B. “Moshpit” Moore blogs for BLURT and is a charter member of our Circle of Trust. He additionally writes for New Music magazine, InSite Atlanta Magazine, Innocent Words and NeuFuture Magazine.

James McMurtry: A Tricky Question

GA 10-13

For his latest “Wasteland Bait & Tackle” blog, the songwriter revisits the guns issue.

 By James McMurtry

      I’ve been an avid reader of gun magazines since I was about nine years old.  Reading about guns was one of my favorite methods of putting off homework. I can’t remember when I first saw Dick Metcalf’s byline, but it seems as if he’s been writing for one gun magazine or another more or less forever. Continue reading

Tim Hinely: Blurt Singles Scene VII

THE SINGLES SCENE VII - Blurt's Indie 45 Roundup

Hey there, tall, dark and handsome—come here often? Wanna slip back to my pad and see my etched records and picture discs? Let me buy this next round…

BY TIM “45 ADAPTER” HINELY

I see you people and I like what I see. It’s seems that you are finally coming to your senses now. Oh sure, it took six previous columns of 7” genius to make this happen, but better late than never. If I give you all a multiple choice test with words like “stylus’ and “vinyl” on it I have no doubt you’d all get 100s on the test! This makes me so proud, because, after all, you are all like my little children. Every last one of you (scary thought, huh?). No longer will I call you chowderheads behind your back. Nope… you’re my kids and I love every last one of ya’. Now go get ‘em, tiger! Continue reading

John B. Moore: Nothington – The Interview

Nothington

JBM checking in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”

I DON’T WANNA GROW UP / JOHN B. MOORE

By John B. Moore

San Francisco punk rockers Nothington formed out of the ashes of Tsunami Bomb, but quickly managed to make everyone forget their former group as they got to work putting together one solid album after the next. The band managed to fuse country and Blues with straight up punk rock with nods to everyone from Hot Water Music to Social Distortion. Continue reading

Tim Hinely: In Praise of Fuckin’ Record Reviews Tumblr Site

zines

Relive the glory days of analog-and-paper fanzines, yo.

By Tim “45 Adapter” Hinely

Those of us who are a bit, uh, long in the tooth remember the pre-internet age. You wanted to read about some of your favorite underground bands, but they weren’t being covered in Rolling Stone or Spin. Where on earth did you turn back in those days? Well, to fanzines, other known as zines. Continue reading

John B. Moore: Pale Angels – The Interview

Pale Angels

JBM checking in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”

I DON’T WANNA GROW UP / JOHN B. MOORE

By John B. Moore

The Pale Angels is clearly not the first band to start off working Nirvana covers. Though, they are likely the first international group who got their start playing nothing but Nirvana covers on stage at punk rock utopia (aka The Fest, held in Gainesville, Florida every fall). Continue reading

Carl Hanni: Quintron & Miss Pussycat: An Appreciation

Quiintron

Deejay/archivist CH genuflects before the underground New Orleans duo for his latest “Sonic Reducer” column.

 SONIC REDUCER / CARL HANNI

 By Carl Hanni

 That vaguely industrial throb coming out of the speakers? That’s just the gears slowly starting to move before the low rent drum machine kicks in, followed by an organ theme down low and dirty, followed by another, higher organ line and then, just like that, we have lift off and have already achieved cruising altitude. But where is this thing going? And how did we get here? And where is here, anyway?

 “Witch In The Club,” yeah. A pean to the murky dangers and most likely illicit pleasures of night clubbing in the sprit-infested deep underground of New Orleans. A steady rolling, deliriously catchy and danceable bayou boogie, built on Quintron’s thrumming Hammond organ groove. The purveyors are New Orleans Ninth Ward power couple Quintron and Miss Pussycat. Quintron: lanky, rock & roll cool like Lux Interior was rock & roll cool, player of some seriously badass organ and his infernal home made rhythm contraption, the Drum Buddy. Miss Pussycat: blonde thrift-shop misfit goddess, player of badass maracas, and mistress of puppet shows that veer from the surreal to the raunchy and the apocalyptic. They both sing, write the songs and extrude a New Orleansian version of yin and yang; he’s seemingly aloof and not especially approachable, she’s engaging and definitely approachable. Oh, and they play the devil’s music.

 There might not be a whole lot truly new under the full musical moon, but there are always potent regional and local hybrid’s out there, and Quintron has long been perfecting a mutant strain of swampy, low-brow gutter raunch. From his willfully crude early solo recordings up to his most recent – ambient field recordings made during a long residency at the New Orleans Museum of Art – Quintron has always gone his own way. But that Quintron way is not exactly uncharted, and there was likely a path, of sorts, which he widened and made his own. Quintron does, after all – and even though he’s not a native – live in New Orleans, the cradle of American music and the birthplace of jazz, R&B and good portions of blues, soul and rock & roll to boot. Not to mention the even more localized sounds of the second line strut, bounce and NOLA hip hop, and, out in the bayous, swamp pop and zydeco.

 So, “Witch In The Club” is indeed part of a long tradition, where the rolling-dice-with-the-devil spirit of rock & roll and R&B went straight to the tap root and got filtered back via the voodoo histrionics of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the agitated boogie of Bo Diddley, the smart-ass sexuality of Andre Williams and even the country fried swamp boogie of Tony Joe White. It not hard to spot some potential localized precursors, especially the low-fi recordings of the great New Orleans organist James Booker, and some of the earliest solo recordings by NOLA icon Dr. John, back when he added the double soubriquet The Night Tripper to the end of his already assumed name. In fact, it’s not big of a leap to consider Swamp Tech, the record that “Witch In The Club” is taken from, as being a modern bastard child of Dr. John’s classic Gris Gris album from 1968. Just add several decades of punk rock, raunchy soul and a stubborn DIY POV, and the line opens up.

 New Orleans has always been a city of local characters, from the shoe shine guy that tracks his lineage back to Marie Laveau to larger than life musical characters like Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, Ernie K. Doe, Professor Longhair and Big Freedia. Quintron and Miss Pussycat are part of that tradition, and “Witch In The Club” is one of their many hedonistic calling cards.

 So, Quintron and Miss Pussycat are part of a murky environment that not includes almost a century of music of dubious moral standing – from Storyville jazz to astoundingly profane hip hop – but more recently includes a whole subculture of New Orleans based circus crews and modern freak shows. It’s largely a hermetic, sealed sub-sub-culture, one that doesn’t instinctively open up to outsiders, but also one with a direct sense of purpose and it’s own code of right and wrong. Herein you will find folks that more than flirt with any number of dark sides. Forget hyperbole, story telling and clever word play. In New Orleans, it’s entirely possible that there is, indeed, a witch in the club.

 ***

 This piece was originally written for the latest issue of Oxford American, but, for reasons beyond my control, wasn’t included in the magazine. The entire magazine is dedicated to Louisiana music and is, as always, worth seeking out. 

 Carl Hanni is a music writer, music publicist, DJ, disc jockey, book hound and vinyl archivist living in Tucson, AZ. He hosts “The B-Side” program on KXCI (streamed live on Tuesday nights 10-12 pm at KXCI.org) and spins around Southern Arizona on a regular basis. He currently writes for Blurt and Tucson Weekly.