Monthly Archives: January 2010

Cluster & Family – Reissues

January 01, 1970

(Bureau B)

 

(www.bureau-b.com)

 

Cluster: Curiosum (10 stars)

Moebius-Plank-Neumeier: Zero Set (8)

Roedelius: Wenn Der Südwind Weht (9)

Moebius: Tonspuren (8)

 

Much ado is made about the ‘70s output of German electronic
music pioneers Cluster. And as it should, given the wealth of adventure and
innovation Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius presented to avant-garde
music fans over the course of that entire decade, both on their own and in
collaboration with the likes of Brian Eno and Can’s Holger Cuzkay as well as
Michael Rother from Neu! as part of the Krautrock supergroup Harmonia.

 

However, as the excellent Bureau B label continues to
deliver the goods with their reissue series of the Cluster family’s Sky Records
catalog, it should be well noted that the dynamic duo’s ‘80s output is well
worth one’s attention, too. 1981’s Curiosum was Roedelius and Moebius’s final team release before an eight year hiatus kept
the Cluster brand name on the shelf for most of the decade. However, while the
cover art might suggest some kind of a trendy new wave turn, the seven
compositions featured on this record actually hark back to the more
experimental style of the group’s earliest work as Kluster, cumulating in some
of the most out-there material in their collective canon.

 

Following their temporary split, both Roedelius and Moebius
managed to keep mighty busy as solo artists as well. Released the same year as Curiosum, Roedelius’ seventh album under
his own guise, Wenn Der Südwind Weht (translated When The South Wind Is
Blowing
), finds him relishing in mellow, icy arrangements for piano and
electric organ augmented by the occasional computer manipulated blip and
processed tape hiss, creating a gorgeous tapestry that interweaves electronic
sound and classical composition.

 

Meanwhile, Moebius highlighted the early ‘80s with his very
first pair of ventures as a solo artist. Both his 1983 debut, Tonspuren, as well as Zero Set, his collaborative LP with Guru
Guru drummer Mani Neumeier and longtime Cluster producer Conny Plank also
released that same year, found Moebius exploring darker, more rhythmic patterns
and denser electric sounds more in line with industrial than ambient. It has
been further speculated that Zero Set,
with its My Life in the Bush of Ghosts-esque
hybrid of Krautrock and African-inspired polyrhythms, even serves as a
precursor to German techno.

 

While many of their contemporaries veered off course during
the 1980s, venturing into the realms of New Age and bad club music, this
quartet of titles proves that the members of Cluster, both as a unit and as
separate entities, remained true to their inhibitions of exploring new terrain
and expanding the boundaries of their own unique vision of pop music.

 

Standout
Tracks:
Curiosum
“Proantipro”, “Tristan In Der Bar”, “Ufer”; Zero Set – “Load”, “Pitch Control”,
“Recall”; Wenn Der Südwind Weht
“Mein Freund Farouk”, “Freudentanz”, “Saumpfad”; Tonspuren – “Rattenwiesel”, “B 36”, “Sinister” RON HART

 

Four Tet – There Is Love In You

January 01, 1970

(Domino)

 

 

www.dominorecordco.com    

 

 

Before he swapped sound files with dubstep
heavyweight Burial for their early 2009 Wolf/Moth
Club
single, London’s Kieran Hebden had been a member of revered post-rock
project Fridge, he’d collaborated on a number of occasions with jazz drummer
Steve Reid, remixed everyone from Madvillain to Black Sabbath, issued a
monstrous DJ Kicks contribution, and
took on an opener slot for a Radiohead tour. Not unlike his rapidly
accelerating eleven-year career, Hebden’s output as Four Tet has splintered
across the horizon in a dizzying multitude of musical directions.

 

 

The productions bearing Kieran Hebden’s name
have run the gamut from meditative, acoustic/laptop blends to dayglo-flecked
dance music, and have included all of the eclectic and drum-heavy styles in
between. On his fifth full-length solo album, Hebden explores more of the
refined and understated house and techno that characterizes his 2008 Ringer EP, with a generous bundling of
the organic elements that have so often enriched his work.

 

 

Crackling atmospherics, unrelenting locked
grooves, and layers of immaculately organized, cascading accompaniment – There Is Love In You (out this week on Domino) stirs and sweeps, its loop-centric
tapestries as lively and as affecting as its uncoiling electronic flourishes.
Like much of Ringer, the sensual pre-There Is Love single “Love
Cry” holds fast to Hebden’s affinity for a slow build. Everything repeats
ad nauseum here, but not in the manner that wallpaper-styled minimal techno
does. “Love Cry” springs from a solemn percussive place of dry snares
and zipped-tight hi hats, but it opens up eventually, with the producer pushing
synth bass and a wondrous, disconnected pattern of reverse dial tones just
ahead of its mystifyingly live-sounding drum set. “Circling” is a
less frantic nod at Ringer‘s
“Ribbons”, with arpeggios trickling out of every source possible. It
gets even better toward the end; when stuttering guitar lines curl around
“She Just Likes To Fight”, the track falls thankfully far short of
embodying the aggression intended, even amid all of that kitchen-sink
percussion.

 

 

When the Four Tet-Burial partnership yielded a
striking, much-discussed twelve inch, the
potential for an ongoing project between the two audiofiles garnered ample
speculation. In the meantime, Kieran Hebden serves up melodies and ideas again
on his own that captivate just as easily via There Is Love In You, be those far more decorative and
high-spirited compared to his work alongside Burial. And if there’s a Wolf/Moth Club follow-up in the cards,
it’s likely Hebden will find the time to make it happen. He tends to do that.

 

 

 

Standout Tracks: “Circling,”
“Angel Echoes” DOMINIC
UMILE

 

 

Major Stars – Return to Form

January 01, 1970

(Drag
City)

 

www.dragcity.com

 

It
should come as no surprise that the rhythm section of Major Stars occasionally
gets buried in the mix. Three guitars, armed with wah pedals and plenty of
fuzz, make a pretty big wall to scale. Once in a while, a bass lead breaks
through, and a few songs get spiked by Who-ish drum fills. But the songs begin
and end with guitarists Wayne Rogers, Kate Village
and Tom Leonard (the band’s original bassist, who joined them rather than
trying to beat them, presumably). All ye who fear six-string solos that
straddle mind-melting bliss and wankery should turn back here. Then again,
after seven albums – not to mention Rogers’ and Village’s work in Crystallized
Movements and Magic Hour – all who enter should know what to expect.

 

Return to Form never
falls into a noodly abyss because Major Stars write strong, varied songs and
crank up the leads only after they’ve found a setting for them. The group knows
when to keep it under three minutes and a couple times they even place two
songs in the space of one track. Much of the album could have come out in the
early ’70s, putting bands like … oh, I don’t know – Free, to shame, while they invoked the tone of Alice Cooper’s lead
player Glen Buxton and borrowed licks from Jimmy Page. The Zep man’s
unaccompanied “Heartbreaker” solo and “Dazed and Confused” pop up here, if only
in a passing mutated form. Whoever takes the lead knows how to build a solo,
often starting melodically and then oozing into feedback and wah-wah. Vocalist
Sandra Barrett’s gruff voice is a perfect foil and rises above the din while
new vocalist Amanda Bristow, appearing on two of the seven tracks, plays up the
band’s pop qualities, sounding at times like Neko Case taking the New Pornographers
in a hard rock direction.

 

Loud,
heavy and sometimes excessive, Return to
Form
is also a few seconds under 40 minutes, so the band has a sense of
discipline too.

 

Standout Tracks: “Better
Stay Down,” “Haunting Season.” MIKE SHANLEY

 

King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King

January 01, 1970

(Discipline Global Mobile)

 

www.dgmlive.com

 

Whether you choose to blame King Crimson for creating
progressive rock, or rejoice in the genre’s pervasive instrumental virtuosity,
there can be no argument that the band’s landmark 1969 album In The Court Of The Crimson King was the
shot across the bow that began this whole “prog-rock” thing.
Bandleader and guitarist Robert Fripp, aided and abetted by skilled musicians like
bassist Greg Lake, multi-instrumentalist Ian
McDonald, and drummer/percussionist Michael Giles – with lyrical assist from
wordsmith Peter Sinfield – together took post-psychedelic rock to the brink of
madness and back again with a trailblazing mix of avant-garde rock, free-form
jazz, and heavy Baroque classicism.

 

As one of the cornerstones of ’70s rock, and a major
influence on everybody from lesser-known bands like Camel and Gentle Giant to
world-beaters like Yes and Pink Floyd, In
The Court Of The Crimson King
has been reissued ad nauseum, in various
guises and quality, in the years since its fortunate inception. Since Crimson headmaster
Fripp oversaw the 30th anniversary re-release of the album ten years ago, why
should you pony up a double-sawbuck for this shiny, brand new 40th anniversary re-re-release? Good question,
grasshopper…cough up the cash ’cause the Reverend sez so!

 

First of all, for the first time in four decades, this is
truly Fripp’s baby to do with as he wishes, released through the artist’s own
Disciple Global Mobile
(DGM) label. The mercurial guitarist could have chosen anybody to assist him in
the remastering process, and he hand-picked Porcupine Tree/Blackfield
mastermind Steven Wilson to work his own unique brand of magic on these songs.
Thus you have an ambitious two-disc set, one CD and one DVD, the first disc
featuring a brand-spankin’-new 2009 stereo mix of the album’s five songs, taken
from the original multi-track master tapes. Throw in a couple of alternate
tracks, and the full version of “Moonchild” (the original album
featured an edited version), and Bob’s yer uncle!

 

At the risk of sounding like a late-night commercial for
slap-chop or some other such gadgetry, that’s not all you get! Disc two, the
DVD, is where Fripp and Wilson get their geek freak on, packing the disc with
various audiophile versions of the album, from a larger-than-life-sounding MLP
Lossless 5.1 Surround version for those of you who really want to prog out on
your home theatre sound-system to a pristine-sounding lossless PCM stereo
version of the 2009 mix from the first disc, as well as an entirely alternate
take of the album from the original masters. If that wasn’t enough, they slip
in a video clip of the band performing “21st Century Schizoid Man”
from their legendary July 5, 1969 debut concert in London’s
Hyde Park. The accompanying booklet includes a
lot of photos, new liner notes from Fripp and writer Sid Smith, song lyrics,
and enough info on the remastering process to engage even the most serious audiohound.

 

“Yeah, old timer, but what does the music sound
like?” Like nothing you’ve ever heard before, kiddies! Benefitting from
Fripp and Wilson’s OCD-like attention to detail, the previously
only-mildly-scary “21st Century Schizoid Man” leaps out of your
speakers like a saber-yielding golem, going for your ears with a truly
oppressive menace. The instruments sizzle and spark like a downed electric
line, at times rattling around your skullplace like a nasty bit of shock
therapy. The ethereal “Moonchild” features some of the most gorgeous
and inventive instrumentation that you’ll ever experience, with Lake’s wan vocals matched by the song’s pastoral
ambiance.

 

The Rev’s personal fave, the title track, takes on a
heretofore unknown majesty and grace, with the instrumental swells and exotic
lyricism riding on a lush magic carpet of imagination. The bonus tracks are
equally impressive, with the extended version of “Moonchild” taking a
great song and stretching out the best parts of it while the “duo
version” of “I Talk To The Wind” takes the song even deeper into
the sort of folk-rock fairytale land that would be plumbed so successfully by
Fairport Convention. “Wind Session,” extracted from the session that
created the fantastic intro for “21st Century Schizoid Man,” is a
cut-and-paste exercise mostly interesting to the hardcore faithful.

 

Overall, this 40th anniversary edition of In The Court Of The Crimson King trumps
all other versions in the history of mankind, save for the original 1969
gatefold vinyl release that kick-started the entire prog-rock mess to begin
with. Forty years later, the album stands alone in the rarified stratosphere
reserved for true classics of rock music, and it still sounds as unique,
daring, and challenging today as it did in 1969.

 

Standout Tracks: “In The Court Of The Crimson King,” “21st Century Schizoid
Man,” “Moonchild” REV. KEITH A. GORDON

 

 

 

Lissy Trullie – Self Taught Learner

January 01, 1970

(Downtown)

 

www.downtownmusic.com

Lissy Trullie, the frontwoman of the band by the same name, is all about the
music. Don’t ask about her past work as a model. She distances herself from
that label almost as readily as if she slaved at a fast food joint. Now in the
studio working on her next album, the current alt-music “It” girl recently had
her band’s EP, Self Taught Learner, expanded and re-released.

The title’s an apt description of Trullie’s musical career. As a young girl her
enchantment with the music in her dad’s R&B, Soul, Surf Rock, Folk and
Motown collection prompted her to play and write. As a teen she discovered the Washington, D.C.,
punk scene working the sounds she liked into her own music. Like her, the
results are fun and beautiful but with a tomboy growl and just a hint of
danger.

“It’s like me,” Trullie said in a recent interview about her writing process.
“It’s messy and disorganized and sometimes ends up like a mess and sometimes
ends up ok.” More times than not, it’s safe to say, it’s much more than ok. You
can hear that on the album’s title track. Trullie’s surprisingly gravely vocals
growls along as she reflects on her first love. Steady yet stripped-down
percussion and electric guitar propel the punk-style love song.

 

Trullie’s style has been compared to Karen O. of the Yeah
Yeah Yeahs or even Patti Smith and Morrissey, but she’s actually more a kindred
spirit of the punk/rock mixed with (forgive me) pop artists such as The Motels
or even Chrissie Hynde. That’s especially evident on one of the bonus tracks —
“Boy Boy” – a tune that pumps up the club beat and effects to heighten the punk
feel while shifting it ever so slightly into a New Age mood. What’s striking
about Trullie’s music, though, isn’t the similarities to other artists but the
individuality of her sound. Get ready to hear a lot more from this streetwise,
smart mouthed songstress.

Standout Tracks: “Boy Boy,” “Self
Taught Learner” NANCY DUNHAM

 

Chicago Underground Duo – Boca Negra

January 01, 1970

(Thrill Jockey)

 

www.thrilljockey.com

 

 

The yen to blend ambient soundscapes and avant garde elements
seems to be encoded in the genomes of most Chicago musicians of a certain age, none
more so than Chicago Underground collective members Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor.
Boca Negra, the collective’s fifth
duo release and first recorded outside of Chicago (at Sao Paolo, Brazil), is
again comprised of improvisational pieces that almost feel composed, composed
pieces that sound awfully free, and computer effects that further blur those
distinctions in  these (primarily) cornet-drum-vibraphone
collages. (Taylor is at the computer controls here for the first time instead
of Mazurek, and is liberal enough with the tweaking that it sounds like there
are 30 different instruments, not three.)

 

Naturally, dynamic tensions and shifting moods trump traditional
song structure, but it’s the contrasts that are most striking. On “The Left
Hand of Darkness,” Taylor’s heavily distorted mbira creates nocturnal jungle-noise
textures that finally birth rhythms and graceful horn lines (Mazurek even briefly
quotes Ravel’s “Bolero”), while on “Quantum Eye” a gentle samba eventually emerges
from a haze of distant horn echoes and distorted percussion. Other tracks tap
into the duo’s fondness for hypnotic repetitive figures (not unlike their
brethren in Tortoise), as when Mazurek’s muted horn stipples overlapping vibraphone
lines on the Eno-like “Hermeto,” or the chop-shop beats (think Four Tet) add
dimension to the pretty ballad “Vergence.” Even more infectious is the looping
bass groove of “Spy on the Floor.” Taylor press-rolls over the insistent bass riff
to ratchet up the tension for Mazurek, who demonstrates why he’s one of our
best modern horn players, trilling glissandos or attacking staccato without
sacrificing the lyricism of a theme that’s just waiting for another Bond or
Bourne film.

 

The duo’s interplay is even better on the more experimental
opener, “Green Ants.” Mazurek opens with a flurry of legatos like sparks from a
grindstone while Taylor explores the full nuance of his kit. At the freer end
of the spectrum, “Confliction” is the record’s most challenging piece, with time
signatures that vary between 17/8 and 4/4; the duo’s version of Ornette
Coleman’s “Broken Shadows” — the band’s first cover of any kind – is equally
unhinged. Whether computer squiggles add very much is debatable, however, which
you can say as well for the heavy processing that overwhelms the aimless “Roots
and Shooting Stars.” 

 

Despite the occasional over-indulgence, Boca Negra is another exciting entry in the Chicago Underground
catalog. After all these years working right on the edge between free and ambient,
Mazurek and Taylor
show deft enough touch to call those shadows their own.

 

Standout
Tracks:
“Hermeto” “Vergence” JOHN SCHACHT

 

Bomp! 2 – Born In The Garage

January 01, 1970

(Bomp!/Ugly Things Publishing)

 

www.bomp.com

 

BY REV. KEITH A. GORDON

 

OK, listen up kiddies! Back in the dark days before the electron-pushers
moved all the even remotely interesting content to websites and blogs, we old
folks used to have something known as a “fanzine,” kind of like a
magazine but usually published by an individual or small group of friends.
Grandpa won’t bore you all with the lengthy history of these “zines,”
as we called ’em, but they began circulating back in the 1930s among
science-fiction fans, and were instrumental in underwriting the homegrown,
hardcore punk rock movement of the ’80s once photocopying technology made the
damn things ubiquitous.

 

One of, if not the first, music zine publishers was an elfin
rock ‘n’ roll fanatic by the name of Greg Shaw. A rabid record collector, and a
pretty darn good writer for somebody that considered himself an amateur, Shaw
brought an insight to his work honed by thousands of hours listening to the right kind of music – ’60s-era
garage-rock, three-chord punk (think The Seeds, not the Sex Pistols), British
Invasion bands, classic soul, and R&B.

 

Shaw was also nothing if not a prolific publisher of various
zines, and little was beyond his bourgeoning publishing empire and seemingly
pathological need to put some words in print (an obsession shared by many of us
of a similar bent). A familiar figure among science-fiction circles, one of
Shaw’s earliest publishing efforts was a Lord
Of The Rings
fanzine, and by the time that he graduated high school he had
cranked out over 200 issues of various zines on the trusty mimeograph machine he
had bought for just that purpose.

 

In 1966, however, influenced by the exploding San Francisco Bay area music scene, Shaw began
publishing the zine that would arguably launch this entire “music
journalism” thing. Mojo-Navigator
Rock & Roll News
began as a mere two-page mimeographed gossip rag, but
quickly grew into a respectable full-color tabloid. Mojo-Navigator served a valuable purpose, documenting a vital music
scene and writing the rules for music criticism.

 

Shaw’s friend Jann Wenner would “borrow” heavily in
style and substance from Mojo-Navigator when launching Rolling Stone magazine
in 1967, and all sorts of out-of-the-mainstream music rags like Creem, Rock Magazine, and others would follow shortly. Meanwhile, Shaw
pulled the plug on Mojo-Navigator after a couple of years when it became too big to manage, but this was really
just the first step towards creating what would become the writer and
publisher’s lasting legacy – Bomp! magazine.

 

All of this, of course, is merely back story, a way of
letting you young ‘uns know that something IMPORTANT and EXCITING was happening long
before your dag-nabbed Internet, and the Jonas Brothers reaching puberty, and
all that Perez Hilton-approved rubbish. Greg Shaw moved from SF to LA and
around 1970 or so, and with that familiar itch rising up again like the black
cat moan that it is, he began publishing a new mimeo zine called Who Put The Bomp.

 

By this time, mind you, Shaw had become an in-demand
rockcrit writing for esteemed publications like Creem and Fusion and
others, as well as editing the beloved corporate music zine Phonograph Record Magazine, which was
published under the aegis, and with the checkbook of, United Artists Records
(yes, sometimes major record labels have gotten it right). Shaw still managed
to publish two or three issues of Who Put
The Bomp
annually during the early-70s, featuring writers like Ken Barnes
and the legendary Lester Bangs.

 

Who Put The Bomp evolved into Bomp! and grew, albeit
slowly, throughout the 1970s until it became a full-fledged music magazine on
the newsstand alongside relative latecomers like Trouser Press. Exhibiting Shaw’s record-collecting interests, Bomp! often included full discographies
alongside artist interviews and album reviews, and the one-time fanzine spun
off a record label and a successful mail order business, both of which still
maintain a healthy existence today.

 

As for the magazine itself, it became a victim of its own
success, growing too large and popular and outgrowing Shaw’s fanzine roots, so
he pulled the plug on it in 1979. It was a wild ride while it lasted, however,
and for those of us who were loyal readers, much of what we knew of British
punk, new wave, American power-pop, 1960s garage-rock, and lots of other music
came from the pages of Bomp!.   

 

All of which brings us around to the fine tome Bomp! 2 – Born In The Garage (Bomp!/Ugly
Things Publishing; www.bomp.com), the second
collection of material culled from Greg Shaw’s many publications. The first
volume, Bomp! Saving The World One Record
At A Time
, was published in 2007, edited by Mick Farren and overseen by
Shaw’s ex-wife Suzy. A beautiful hardback collection, it included reproductions
of pages from Mojo-Navigator Rock &
Roll News
and Who Put The Bomp mixed in with a lot of photos and commentary and such, all laid out rather
artfully edgy, a design befitting a coffee table book meant to be seen and
admired, but seldom read.

 

For Bomp! 2, Suzy
Shaw has enlisted the help of editor Mike Stax, publisher of the obviously Bomp!-influenced music zine Ugly Things. The differences between
this second, paperback collection and the abovementioned hardback tome are like
those between a favorite indie-label rock album and a slick, overproduced major
label release. Befitting its garage-rock roots, the pages of Bomp! 2 are untarnished by artifice and
pretension, instead presenting pages and articles from Shaw’s various zines in
all their lo-fi glory! This is a book meant to be pored over, read and re-read
until the wheels fall off.

 

The core of the book is, naturally, bits and pieces of
issues of Who Put The Bomp and the
wealth of material that Shaw published during the zine’s tenure. Guided by the
acronym “R.I.A.W.O.L.” (rock is a way of life), Shaw offered
commentary on favored bands, often assisted by readers like future Patti Smith
Band guitarist and rock historian Lenny Kaye, and many others. Bomp! 2 also includes segments of zines
like Shaw’s personalized Karnis Bottle’s
Metanoia
and zines within zines like Liquid
Love
and Alligator Wine.

 

The importance of Bomp! was in its early, prescient musical coverage of artists now considered as
important touchstones in the evolution of rock music. Shaw was the consummate
fan, and his writing brims over with enthusiasm, while long-time contributor
Ken Barnes offers a perspective and insight in his contributions that is too often
missing from his more recent work for the USA
Today
newspaper.

 

Folks like Dave Marsh, Nick Tosches, Greil Marcus, Richard
Meltzer, and Lester Bangs – the first generation of honest-to-god rock critics
– often wrote interesting and sometimes lengthy letters that appeared in the
zine’s “Feedback” section, while articles like “Ahead of his
Time: Gene Vincent’s Influence in Rock & Roll” and “The British
Invasion,” featuring bands like the Pretty Things, the Dave Clark Five,
and the Nashville Teens, helped readers get a handle on the music in this
pre-Internet era.

 

As the fanzine evolved into a bona-fide music magazine, Who Put The Bomp expanded its coverage
of bands like the Kinks, the Standells, Sky Saxon & the Seeds, the
Easybeats, the Flamin’ Groovies (who Shaw briefly managed during this time),
and many others, all of which can be found in Bomp! 2. Articles providing comprehensive overviews of
city-specific “scenes” in places like San Francisco, Chicago,
Detroit, and Boston not only offered invaluable glimpses into young local bands
(many of which would go “national”), but were also accompanied by
lengthy discographies. Surf music (Dick Dale, etc), “Girl Groups”
(The Shangri-Las), power-pop (Dwight Twilley), even Abba and Mexican punk music
were all grist for Shaw and company’s diverse and far-reaching musical tastes.

 

The many bands covered by the publication are timeless, and
Greg Shaw’s biggest strengths were his recognition of talents that were often
unheralded at the time, and his unyielding belief in the music. Shaw was never
trying to sell ads on his blog, nor was he angling for an appearance on a
reality TV show. He never lost sight of the music he revered, collected, and
fretted over for decades. This unbridled passion infects both his writing and
that of his contributors through the years which, freed from the expectations
of their journalistic “day jobs” at typical music magazines and
newspapers, allowed them to pursue their own musical passions in Bomp!

 

Bottom line: if you care a whit about rock ‘n’ roll music
prior to 1980, Bomp! 2 belongs on
your bookshelf. This is vital, exciting music writing for the rock ‘n’ roll fan
in all of us, and hopefully a modest success for Bomp! 2 will lead to the publication of a third book offering more
great stuff from the Greg Shaw archives.

 

Note: A word should be
said about Suzy Shaw, Greg’s ex-wife and long-time friend and the person
responsible for keeping the Bomp! legacy alive. Suzy took the reins of Greg’s
early record mail order business when he lost interest in the late-‘60s, and it
has been her commitment and business sense that supported the magazine, and
kept the Bomp! family of record labels and the accompanying mail order business
going strong all these years. If not for Ms. Shaw, Bomp! zine might have been
lost to the ages. Thanks, Suzy!

 


 

Rip! A Remix Manifesto

January 01, 1970

(DISINFORMATION; 80 mins.)

 

www.disinfo.com

 

BY RANDY HARWARD

 

Brett Gaylor’s film puts the “Copyright” against the “Copyleft” – implying
ideological differences similar to the familiar political wings and treating
art like health care and welfare. The former represents the fatcats whose
financial girth was gained from making filthy lucre from art deemed
“intellectual property.” The latter is the altruistic side, self-charged with
the duty to “protect the public domain… and ensure the free exchange of ideas
and the future of art and culture.” Gaylor demonizes and lionizes them,
respectively, motivated by accusations that his favorite artist, Girl Talk
(Gregg Gillis), is called a thief for stitching together other people’s music
to make his own.

 

The argument the film makes, that access to all this media equals more
creativity -“consumers are now creators, making the folk art of the future” –  is a good one. If more people have the means
and inclination to create art, be it folk or fine, our society is richer in art
as well as social and political commentary. And fair use is fair use. We should be able to build on each
other’s ideas because it only refines and progresses our culture, which
Gaylor’s manifesto says “always builds on the past.” So Gaylor courts Gillis
and other remix artists, as well as people on the Copyright, hoping to make a
case for open source media.

 

He’s convincing, except for two things: How far will the film really go
toward making fair use fair? Can he beat the corporate Goliaths? Only time will
tell-but one thing’s for sure, the cause is building momentum. Take it from
someone who, until he saw this film, once bashed people like Girl Talk for his
methods, wondering how he’s considered an artist. There’s more going on than we
get to see. But I wonder still how many people at a Girl Talk show just wanna
dance and could care less about how Gillis-the guy dancing around his laptop – stitched
together Dee-Lite,  Nirvana and The Gap
Band. How many will forget the original songs?

 

Special Features: Ninety minutes of interviews, mashups and photos.

 

 

 

Surfer Blood – Astro Coast

January 01, 1970

(Kanine)

 

www.kaninerecords.com

Straight out of Palm Beach, Florida
shoots the sure-as-shit contender for best album of this nascent new year,
Surfer Blood’s Astro Coast.
This is gonna be 2010’s Shins or Band of Horses, so mark these words. Yes, it
may be a little early for such proclamations, but these boys make lofty
postulations like this easy. It’s safe to assume the members of the band were
raised on a steady diet of Weezer, The Pixies, Built To Spill, as well as
various influences in the outer regions of indie rock. But they’ve managed to
absorb all of this and more and regurgitate something all their own.

 

From the beginning chords of the album’s opening tune,
“Floating Vibes,” the band makes its intent clear. Simple guitar lines
augmented by bright and thick production will be employed, melodious and
mellifluous vocals will ensue, and breezy themes of California dreams will occur. No tricks, no
gimmicks will obscure the music (well, for the most part – “Take it Easy” tips
its hat to Vampire Weekend, but only fleetingly). The song you’ve probably
heard from this album already, “Swim,” a barrage of power chords and
reverb-coated vocals ecstatically urging you to “Swim to reach the end,” is a
great track, but it’s really not all that representative of the magic found on
the rest of the record. “Harmonix,” after a brief guitar intro, builds into a
restive number constructed sparingly of strummed harmonics (get it?) and yet
another insanely catchy vocal refrain. “Twin Peaks,” as lush and expansive as
anything else on Astro Coast,
sports a nifty chorus of matching guitar chords and vocal melody before
launching into a syncopated chorus that sounds more like a party than a
songwriting convention. The record’s themes seem to revolve around personal
experiences, references to band members’ relationships, and exploring the
farther reaches of the United
States. Yet the appeal of Surfer Blood’s
music transports you right along, not an easy task for any band.

 

So how does this young band do it? Take a listen to “Anchorage” to fully
understand what they are up to. A simple idea is made interesting through
excellent recording and production – no shitgaze, this – and executed by an
effusive bunch of rock musicians more concerned with quality than scoring scene
points. They’ve got the chops to back up the hype, now let’s see how they
handle their first year in the spotlight.

 

Standout Tracks: “Floating
Vibes” “Swim” JONAH FLICKER

 

Patrick & Eugene – Altogether Now (Birds Bees Flowers Trees)

January 01, 1970

 (Tummy Touch Records)

 

www.tummytouchmusicgroup.com

 

If the Muppet Show house band (Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, by the
way) were to put out an album this year, I’m pretty sure it would be this one.
Banjo? Yup; Trombone and ukulele? Check; Musical saw? Of course.

 

Originally released in the UK six years ago,
Altogether Now is brilliant simply in
its originality. Lyrically there’s not too much to think about, but it’s
brimming with enough sunny melodies to make Brain Wilson jealous. The title
track (heard over the closing credits of a recent Weeds episode and on countless Payless commercials) ropes you by
the time the banjo and mandolin start strumming and will be with you for pretty
much the rest of the day. The same can be said about the extremely infectious
“The Birds and The Bees”

 

 

There are a couple of weak
tracks on the record (“Llama” in particular), but overall, it serves as a great
introduction to the U.S.
 Welcome to America guys.

 

 

Standout Tracks: “Don’t Stop,” “The Birds and the Bees” JOHN MOORE