Monthly Archives: July 2010

MP3s: Classic Arab Strap Deluxe Reissues


First two albums
expanded as double discs featuring a wealth of BBC material.


By Blurt Staff


On August
17 Chemikal Underground will reissue Arab Strap’s seminal first two albums “The Week Never Starts Round Here” and “Philophobia”. Not only do both albums
include a bonus disk of previously unreleased BBC material, but the reissues
also mark the first time Chemikal Underground have been able to offer these
albums together digitally.  


Full details on them,
courtesy the label, appears below. Meanwhile, check out a couple of free MP3s
from the Strap:


The First Big Weekend from “The Week Never Starts Round Here”


Packs Of Three from “Philophobia”


But wait, there’s more – how about an MP3 of an unreleased song too! This track is not on the reissues and has only appeared before on the Chemikal Underground box set:

      Daughters of Darkness



Release details:


After gate-crashing the
Britpop party in 1996 with ‘The First Big Weekend’, Arab Strap went on to
produce eight albums (six of them on Chemikal Underground) over a period of 10
years.  Reflecting now, over a dozen years after these first two albums were
released, we can start to appreciate just how influential Moffat and
Middleton’s output actually was.  Favourites of Conor Oberst, Underworld
and Helena Christiansen; they are regularly cited as primary influences for
bands like The Twilight Sad and, in Aidan Moffat’s lyrics, they shone a light
under the rock of sexual politics with so much truth, honesty and insight that,
had it not been for the fact they were so funny and, well…accurate all the
time, we would have been barely able to look.


Acquaintances on the Falkirk scene, Aidan and Malcolm became
friends in 1995. They soon began making music together, telling twisted tales
of messy sexual encounters, shit jobs, titanic drinking sessions and the
twisted chemistries of human relationships. They called themselves Arab Strap
after a sex toy Aidan spotted in a porn mag.  Signing to Chemikal
Underground, their debut single, The First Big Weekend, would become a
cult classic: a tale of Aidan and Malcolm’s adventures on the weekend Scotland
were knocked out of Euro ’96, in September of that year.  In the years
that followed, we were given countless glimpses into the intimately private
lives of our two protagonists, whether they were pondering the risk of STDs (on
Philophobia‘s Packs Of Three) or wondering if they’d get to shag
that friend of the cellist from Belle & Sebastian (the Peel Session of I
Saw You
on The Week Never Starts Round Here’s bonus disc).


These CD reissues come on the back of
Arab Strap’s luxuriously packaged box set, ‘Scenes of a Sexual Nature’, which
celebrated in exhaustive detail the band’s recorded output from 1996 – 1998 and
in particular their first two groundbreaking albums: their debut ‘The Week
Never Starts Round Here’ (1996) and its spectacular follow-up ‘Philophobia’
(1998).  The CD reissues of these albums now find them respectively
bolstered to a double CD format, with each album including a BBC Peel Session
and BBC recording of two landmark live performances.  Revisiting these
albums now reminds us why Arab Strap were one of music’s most precious
commodities: a fearlessly original band who were strangers to compromise.


“No one really writes honest, hateful love songs. The kids never hear it like they should hear it –
they should know about the farting, the fighting and the fucking, the pain and
the pleasure.”


  • 1996 debut ‘The Week
    Never Starts Round Here’ with updated artwork.
  • 1998 album ‘Philophobia’
    with enhanced lyric artwork.
  • Each CD now has a bonus
    CD of BBC material featuring:

    • Arab Strap’s first two Peel Sessions
      (from March 1997 & March 1998) the first of which features guest
      appearances from members of Belle & Sebastian.
    • Arab Strap’s first ever gig in its
      entirety, recorded for the Peel Show at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut (October 1996).
    • Arab Strap’s six track live set from
      T in the Park 1998





“The Week Never Starts Round Here” (Original)


1. Coming Down

PEEL SESSION 1 (March 1997)

2. The Clearing

1. The Smell Of Outdoor Cooking

3. Driving

2. Soaps

4. Gourmet

3. I Saw You

5. I Work In A Saloon

4. The First Big Peel Thing

6. Wasting

King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (Oct ’96)

7. General Plea To A Girlfriend

5. Intro

8. The First Big Weekend

6. General Plea To A Girlfriend

9. Kate Moss

7. The Clearing

10. Little Girls

8. Kate Moss

11. Phone Me Tonight

9. Gilded

12. Blood

10. Driving

13. Deeper

11. I Work In A Saloon


12. Phone Me Tonight


13. Blood


14. The First Big Weekend



“Philophobia (Original Double Album)


1. Packs Of Three

PEEL SESSION 2 (March 1998)

2. Soaps

1. Packs Of Three

3. Here We Go

2. Piglet

4. New Birds

3. The Night Before The Funeral

5. One Day, After School

4. Blood

6. Islands

T In The park (1998)

7. The Night Before The Funeral

5. Girls Of Summer

8. Not Quite A Yes

6. New Birds

9. Piglet

7. Here We Go

10. Afterwards

8. Soaps

11. My Favourite Muse

9. Afterwards

12. I Would’ve Liked Me A Lot Last Night

10. I Would’ve Liked Me A Lot Last Night

13. The First Time You’re Unfaithful





Marnie Stern Preps New Album


Self-titled album due Oct. 5 on
Kill Rock Stars.


Blurt Staff


Marnie Stern the album mirrors Marnie Stern, the woman. Birthed during
a challenging period in her life, the self-titled Marnie Stern is a compendium of life stories both bitter and

From ballads to her signature pop
guitar-tapping style, Stern and long-time co-conspirator Zach Hill have churned
out (for lack of a better word) an enormous album that will further cement Stern as a rising star in today’s
progressive music landscape. Stern also enlists the bass talents of psych-rock
Canadian musician Matthew Flegel (of the band Women & boyfriend of Stern)
and up-and-coming mixer Lars Stalfors (Mars Volta, Funeral Party) resulting in
Stern stepping up her sonic game and revealing a mature and more focused side
of herself. “I wanted to pay more attention to the delicate and subtly
layered spaces in between sound and just make things louder and fuller where I
didn’t on my last 2 records.” When
asked to sum her album up she maintains, “It’s direct and honest and real.
I’m no longer taking cover under guitar lines or yelping vocals.”

Marnie’s third and latest LP for Kill
Rock Stars, while clearly containing her strongest songs ever, had its
fumbles on the way to the finish line. She laughs when describing how the
initial recording files were lost and ultimately retrieved through a series of
trials-by-fire (upon which many a cigarette was lit) and in one complete
statement, she quips:  “Holy

Clearly, Marnie Stern’s life and music are not easily separated; which is why Marnie Stern the record and Marnie
Stern the person have REAL personality. Upon hearing her last two albums, In Advance of the Broken Arm (2007) and
This Is It And I Am It And You Are
It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That
it’s quite evident that Stern lives in between the lines of
chaos and harmony. While Stern’s previous efforts garnered much critical
acclaim, highlighting Stern’s dexterity with both guitar playing and
songwriting, she still remains the underdog of contemporary celebrated female

Three albums into her career, this certainly leaves her exposed. Yet, within
that exposure, we find something more relatable and familiar to us all;
vulnerability and resilience.



01.  For Ash

02.  Nothing Left

03.  Transparency is the New

04.  Risky Biz

05.  Female Guitar Players
are the New Black

06.  Gimme

07.  Cinco De Mayo

08.  Building a Body

09.  Her Confidence

10.  The Things You Notice




Watch: BBC’s Look Around You


A brand new DVD goldmine
for all you cracked-out late-night
and Adult Swim TV addicts. BBC import? Check. Grand farce? Check. Shoestring budget?
South Park  endorsed? Check. This is your brain on Look Around You. Any questions? Watch video, below.


By Zachary Herrmann


If a child were to really be raised and educated on the faux
educational videos of Look Around You,
how would he or she turn out? Good Lord, perish the thought.


The BBC import’s first season (aired in 2002, and now
available as BBC Worldwide DVD Look
Around You: Season One
) is a goldmine for the cracked-out late-night TV
set. Not shockingly, the show had a syndicated run on Adult Swim in early 2009,
which would be about par-for-course for Cartoon Network’s increasingly surreal,
iconoclastic programming block. This adopted home on American television (the
show also played on BBC-America) couldn’t be any more appropriate – since its
inception, Adult Swim has fostered anti-narrative and experimental, to great
success, and yes, detriment as well.


Co-creators and co-starrers Robert Popper and Peter
Serafinowicz (both f familiar faces for Edgar Wright enthusiasts) completely
run amuck within the frame work of a 1970s or early ’80s-style science program
for the classroom. It’s this incredible discipline and dedication to concept
that really separates Look Around from the rest of Adult Swim’s offerings, or most TV shows of any sort.


OK, and it’s also pretty damn hilarious.


There’s a grand farce of the Emperor’s New Clothes kind to Look Around You, as if the players
openly defy the audience and insists that it is everything it jokingly purports
to be. No winking or elbow jabs needed. At a passing glance, the show could
easily have been from a period artifact that slipped through the cracks.


As South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone observe on a guest commentary track, it
is this authenticity that proves to be the show’s best (and funniest) weapon.
There are plenty of enjoyable Nonsequiturs and just plain silly asides packed
into each episode (they call them “modules”), but Popper and Sefinowicz get so
much more mileage out of production design and structure.



The shoestring budget (which both creators attest to in the
commentary) never causes the seams to unravel, as Look Around You perfectly replicates that which its parodies. With
the exception of “Ghosts”, and the zanier moments of the wonderful finale, “The
Brain”, you could blink at a few key moments and still believe little British
children scribbled down the nonsensical lessons in a copybook some 30 years


Narrator Nigel Lambert is the perfect guide throughout, and
he carries the brunt of the performance remarkably. His soothing, trustworthy
instruction is key to some of the best bits – the made up terms, which Lambert
passes off without a second thought. Examples: An egg “metripulates” in boiling
water, or a piece of lab equipment referred to as the “Jane Grey.”


Popper and Serafinowicz thrive in the details of Look Around You: the alluded to next
lessons, which of course, we never see; barely visible beaker labels;
wonderfully faked stock footage. If there’s any real failure in the show, it’s
that occasionally, you end up admiring it more than outright enjoying it. 


At around nine-minutes a-piece (barely), the episodes,
excuse me, modules can feel glacial, which becomes an explicit time-element gag
at one point in “Water”. And yet, somehow Look
Around You
never lapses into the “joke is on the audience” sort of humor Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” favors (Tim Heidecker and
Eric Wareheim are vocal fans of the show, and appear on the guest commentary).


Look Around You gradually expands and grows more comfortable in its skin, allowing for more
daring, and bizarre, experiments, though few top the pilot’s Q&A with
Intelligent Calcium, the self-aware element. Spaced and Shaun of the Dead alums Wright (who is basically a series regular), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost all
make unobtrusive appearances, only slightly breaking the illusion of Look Around You.


It’s exactly the sort of show you would want to stumble on
at 3 a.m. in, well, the right state of mind needed to properly digest something
this bug-nuts crazy. In the spirit of the best Adult Swim offerings, Look Around You is a fine fuck-you to
conventional television. Endlessly quotable, even if nothing you could quote
from it would make a lick of sense.


Now write that down in your copybook.


 Special Features:


For a little one-disc season, you can’t really argue with
the production value. The visuals are intentionally grainy and pale, with
intentional hairlines. Thankfully, for relative sanity, the effects aren’t
overdone and the soundtrack meets 21st century standards.

        The DVD menu
screen is itself, a little work of art, very much period appropriate in its
graphic design.  Of the bonus materials,
the pilot module, “Calcium”, clearly takes the cake, though you can see why the
rest of the modules were kept under 10-minutes.

tracks sort of vary in quality. Look
Around You
doesn’t exactly beg to be explained and there isn’t a whole lot
of that anyway. Most of the time, everyone is just bullshitting around, for
better or worse. Wright joins in with Popper and Sefinowicz for one of the
better tracks, but it’s Pegg and Frost who are really worth your time. Michael
Cera and Jonah Hill wear the “why are we even here?” joke awful thin. Heidecker
and Wareheim – either you love ‘em or you can’t stand ‘em, and Parker and Stone
actually offer the most insight into the show.

        Considering South Park‘s best years and its humble cardboard
beginnings, that makes a lot of sense. Both shows benefit from strong writing,
but neither South Park or Look Around You would work without their respective visual



Leonard Cohen ’72 Tour Film Hits DVD

Tony Palmer’s 1972 European tour
film finally available to consumers in August. Watch a preview clip, below.


By Blurt Staff


MVD Visual is bringing a rare concert film to DVD on August
31. Originally
made in 1972 and directed by celebrated British filmmaker Tony Palmer, “Bird On A Wire
follows Leonard Cohen on his
1972 European tour and contains 17 classic performances, 4 poems and tour
footage. As part of the deal, the digipak includes a reproduction of the ’72 film
poster, pictured below.




massive re-editing, although not by Palmer, it was released in 1974, had a very
limited run and then ‘disappeared’. Like many films from the era it was thought
that the original version had been lost, but in 2009, 294 rolls of film were
discovered containing much of the original rushes and soundtrack of the 1972
film. Palmer was able to restore
much of this footage and it is now available on DVD for the first time.


a veteran of films on the Beatles, Cream, Hendrix and Zappa, picks up the


“When, in 2009, 294 cans of film were
discovered in a warehouse in Hollywood,
in rusted up cans that sometimes had to be hammered open, and these cans were
shipped to me by, of all people, Frank Zappa’s manager, I believed at first
that nothing could be salvaged. The cans did not contain the negative (still
lost); some of the prints were in black & white; and much of it had been
cut to pieces and/or scratched beyond use. But when I finally opened one box
and found most of the original sound dubbing tracks, I knew we had a hope of
putting the jigsaw back together.


“So now, taking full advantage of the
latest digital technology, this is what we have done, piece by piece, slowly
and painstakingly. It has taken months and months, and probably has cost more
than the original filming, and although it’s by no means perfect, it’s very
close now to the original.


“Now, looking back after 38 years, my
admiration for Cohen as a poet, a singer and as a man, remains undiminished. The
original film was made with love, and I hope that quality once again shines
through the restored film.”




Rock Your Blurt Shurt for Blurt!


By Blurt Staff

Hey ladies – Grace Potter (above), Danielle Wald, Juliette Commagere and Sasha Grey all know how to rock a Blurt shurt – how about you? Send us a pic of you kitted out in one of our fine tees and we’ll run ’em! And guys, don’t be shy – we might even run your pics too…







Virgin Mobile FreeFest Tickets on Sat.


Soundsystem, Pavement, Ludacris, T.I., Joan Jett, Thievery Corporation, Chromeo,
Jimmy Eat World, Yeasayer, Matt and Kim, Sleigh Bells, Neon Indian,
Modeselektor, Die Antwoord – Sept. 25, be there.


By Blurt Staff


The annual Virgin Mobile Festival has been a fave of ours
for some time now, not the least of the reasons being its proximity to the
BLURT penthouse suite in Silver Spring,
MD. A couple of years ago it was
held at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, just a short limo ride away, featuring
Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Gogol Bordello, Cat Power, Iggy &
the Stooges and more (you can read our review, w/exclusive photos, here).


Then last year for the fourth installment it was moved even
closer, to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia,
and just to mess with everybody’s head, founder Richard Branson made it a free
event, rechristening it the Virgin Mobile FreeFest and distributing over 35,000
tickets. Revelers took in Blink-198, Weezer, Franz Ferdinand, Public Enemy and
others (check our review of the 2009 festival here).


So once again, the Virgin festival is back, taking place
Sept. 25 at the Post Pavilion again, and yes, it’s free again. The Baltimore Sun reports that
among the acts performing on two stages and a dance area will be M.I.A., LCD
Soundsystem, Pavement, Ludacris, T.I., Joan Jett, Thievery Corporation, Chromeo,
Jimmy Eat World, Yeasayer, Matt and Kim, Sleigh Bells, Neon Indian,
Modeselektor and Die Antwoord.


More than 30,000 tickets will be given away starting 10 a.m.
Saturday (July 24) at Ticketfly.
Don’t shuffle around thinking about it; last year’s free passes apparently were
gone in a half hour. If you’re a previous attendee you can plan on getting an
email or text invite that will allow you to apply for a ticket early, on


Intriguingly, however, a “limited number” of reserved seats
located on the pavilion will be sold – those will be priced at $125, and part
of the proceeds will go to an unspecified charity.






2010 Mercury Prize Shortlist Announced


By Blurt Staff


Dizzee Rascal, The xx,
Wild Beasts, Laura Marling, Paul Weller and more.


Er, technically that’s the BARCLAYCARD Mercury Prize. (Personally we’d vote for calling it the Jiffy Lube Verizon Dominos Mercury
Prize, but hey…) Anyway, the usual cadre of UK critics and industry tastemakers
have announced this year’s raft of nominees and you can see the full list
below. Isn’t it interesting that Speech Debelle won last year and then was
promptly never heard from again? Follow the above link for more details on the annual award.


Biffy Clyro: Only

Corinne Bailey Rae: The Sea
Dizzee Rascal: Tongue N’ Cheek
Foals: Total Life Forever
I Am Kloot: Sky at Night
Kit Downes Trio: Golden
Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can
Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More
Paul Weller: Wake Up the Nation
The xx: The xx
Villagers: Becoming a Jackal
Wild Beasts: Two Dancers






AZ-boycott Sound Strike Holds Press Conf.


Happening Wednesday at
11 am. RATM and Oberst concert to follow on Friday night.


By Blurt Staff


Following up on our previous coverage of The Sound Strike
the collective spearheaded by Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha to
raise awareness about, and prompt boycotts agains, Arizona and ita looming
immigration law – we’ve gotten word that tomorrow, Wednesday July 21st,
at 11am PST, Sound Strike will be holding a press conference about the issue as
well as the July 23 benefit concert featuring Rage and Conor Oberst. On hand
will be de la Rocha, Tom Morello and Oberst. Here are the details, courtesy
Sound Strike:



The Sound Strike Press Conference

When: Wednesday July 21st 11am

Where: Hollywood Palladium
6215 W. Sunset Blvd. Hollywood, CA

Zack de la Rocha, Vocalist Rage Against the Machine
Tom Morello, Guitarist Rage Against the Machine
Conor Oberst, Vocalist Mystic Valley Band
Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder United Farm Workers of America


LOS ANGELES, CA July 21: Rage Against the Machine will play their first concert
in Los Angeles in 10 years at the Hollywood
Palladium Friday with all proceeds going to benefit Arizona organizations fighting SB 1070.
Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band will also perform.

Benefit concert performers will be joined by long time civil and immigrant
rights activists Tom Seanz, President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and
Education Fund (MALDEF), Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers
(UFW), Arizona
grass roots leader Sal Reza of Puente, and other community leaders.

This will be the Sound Strike’s first
official press conference.

The Sound Strike artist boycott of Arizona
has gained international attention and support. Hundreds of artists have
committed to exercise their conscious and their collective power to both
reverse the punitive, discriminatory and misguided Arizona law as well as to help lead a more
productive national debate on diversity and unity.

Sound Strike participant and Rage vocalist Zack de la Rocha said, “SB 1070
if enacted would legalize racial profiling in Arizona. This law runs counter to music’s
essential purpose, which is to unite people and not divide them. We want to
thank the artists of conscious that have joined the Sound Strike throughout the
world who use their role as artists to stand for civil and human rights.”

About The Sound Strike:
The mission of The Sound Strike is a call for Artist’s to Boycott Arizona due to the
passage the Sb1070 law. For more information please visit our website


Nine Inch Nails · Chris Rock · Maroon 5 · Gogol Bordello · My Morning Jacket ·
Ben Harper · Ry Cooder · Pitbull · Steve Earle · Billy Bragg · Mia · Sweet
Honey And The Rock · Anti-Flag · Throwing Muses · State Radio · Aztlan
Underground · Dj Spooky…And Have Joined:
Cypress Hill · Juanes · Conor Oberst · Los Tigres Del Norte · Rage Against The
Machine · Cafe Tacvba · Michael Moore · Kanye West · Calle 13 · Joe Satriani ·
Serj Tankian · Rise Against · Ozomatli · Sabertooth Tiger · Massive Attack ·
One Day As A Lion · Street Sweeper Social Club · Spank Rock · Sonic Youth ·
Tenacious D · The Coup



Watch: New Shannon Stephens Video


“The Most Delicious Hours” is aptly titled…

By Blurt Staff

Check out the awesome new video from songstress Shannon Stephens – titled “The Most Delicious Hours” it comes from her new album The Breadwinner (Asthmatic Kitty Records). It’s directed by Glan Hwang and in addition to Stephens it features Jesse James Pattison and Elena Hansen.


Shannon Stephens – The Most Delicious Hours from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo.

Latest News on Vampire Weekend Lawsuit


Statements –
technically, non-statements – issued by both label and band. Meanwhile, TMZ
still has not posted a current photo of the gal.


By Fred Mills


A couple of days ago we posted the news of a lawsuit filed in
L.A. against Vampire Weekend by a lady called Kirsten Kennis – she’s the
circa-1983 gal who appears on the front sleeve of the band’s recent Contra album, and among her $2 million
claim is that the band did not secure the necessary legal releases to use the


Read the details on all that, plus how it’s an uncanny flashback to that
kick-ass lawsuit in the early ‘90s involving grunge band Tad and Sub Pop
Records, right here.


This morning Pitchfork is reporting that the band’s label,
XL, has issued a statement about the lawsuit:


“As is standard
practice, Vampire Weekend and XL Recordings licensed the rights to use the
photo on the cover of Contra
pursuant to a license agreement that contains representations and warranties
authorizing this use of the photo. Now that a lawsuit has been filed, we look
forward to having the matter resolved in Court. We will be filing our response
after we have had an opportunity to review the allegations. Consistent with our
practice, we will not be commenting further about the pending litigation at
this time.”


Everyone “looks forward” to resolving things in Court, yes.
Meanwhile, over in England,
VW frontman Ezra Koenig offered a somewhat guarded statement to the NME,


“I think I can
speak for all of us and say this is the first time any of us have ever been
sued, so we’re still learning how it works. There’s so many things we could say
about it but given we have no experience of it we’re just keeping conversations
to a journal for now, which is a little frustrating….There’s nothing we can say
about it. We’re not trying to be mysterious. I imagine in the next few months
there’ll be plenty to talk about. Given it’s our first time we just want to do
it properly.”


Getting sued for two million bucks for the first time can be
tough, Ezra, indeed. It’ll be easier next time around, however.