Monthly Archives: September 2010

Thank You, Patti Smith




Sometimes a memoir is
far more than “just” a memoir. Smith’s “Just Kids” will be out in paperback on
Nov. 2.


By Fred Mills


Patti Smith’s memoir of her times (and life) with late
artist Robert Mapplethorpe Just Kids (Ecco Books) was published much earlier this year (it’s due soon on paperback) and
got covered in all the “right” places; a big excerpt was published in Rolling Stone. Yet lost among all the “event”
stuff, perhaps, was what a quietly personal, and ultimately meditative, volume
it actually is. Rather than a “when gods walked the earth, blah blah blah…”
account of rock ‘n’ roll misadventures, it’s a reflective book that, even when
namechecking some of the biggest and boldest of those gods (Dylan, Hendrix,
Ginsberg and Sam Shepard were among the many icons whose paths Smith crossed),
attempts to place everything within the larger context of how a pair of artistically-inclined
misfits gradually found their way in the world.


What’s more, a sense of inevitability hangs over the entire
thing that renders the very act of reading a deeply emotional one. You already
know that Mapplethorpe will die on March 9, 1989, and that Patti wrote the book
to fulfill a promise she’d made to him, so there’s no getting around the fact
that Just Kids is offered not only
from a position of respect/remembrance, but also from deep grief.


Approaching the final, devastating chapter in which Patti
writes about Mapplethorpe’s death, in fact, an overwhelming sense of grief
washed over me; I had to put the book down for several minutes just to calm
myself enough to continue. Up until now she’d been recounting the very-real
shared history that was hers and Mapplethorpe’s, from when they first met in
the late ‘60s after she’d escaped southern New Jersey in order to land in the
artistic bohemia of NYC, through their mutual explorations of their respective
muses, and to the mid/late ‘70s when each had spun off unto their own artistic
universes – all the while knowing of (and frequently expressing) their
unyielding, permanent devotion to one another as friends, as inspirations and
as soul mates no matter where they might journey individually.



Patti’s writing throughout is cautious, yet exhilarating.
One moment she appears to be deliberating with her prose so as not to fall prey
to an unnecessarily florid flourish. The next, she’s caught up in the utter
celebration of a memory, whether it’s one of her own personal triumphs (her
descriptions of how she went from being a wannabe scenester to doing poetry
readings to the initial stirrings of the Patti Smith Group are particularly
valuable as a first-hand chronicle of the 1970s Max’s/CBGB milieu) or one of
Mapplethorpe’s (even when she’s expressing mild confusion over the
photographer’s fixation on homoerotica and S&M imagery – bullwhip in the
ass, young man pissing in another’s mouth, etc. – she still marvels with
unencumbered enthusiasm at the man’s visual gifts). And the story of how the
iconic cover of Horses came to be, a
moment when the pair’s muses locked arms for all posterity to witness, is
simply a must-read.


“When I look at it now,” writes Patti, of the album sleeve,
“I never see me. I see us.”



It’s that permanent connection, I think, that haunts me now.
I’m not sure if I ever truly considered how powerful those things can be,
extended beyond the grave and, perhaps, into infinity. Maybe I’ve just never
been strong enough as a person to dwell too deeply or at length upon those I’ve
lost; defense mechanism or simply cowardice on my part, at least I can report
that with this book, my eyes are just a little bit more open. Hopefully my
heart, too.


On the next to last page of the main body of Just Kids, Patti Smith writes of driving
down to the beach with her family for Easter, a few weeks after Mapplethorpe’s
death. She’s standing beside the ocean, looking at the waves, hearing the cries
of seagulls mingling with the voices of her children, and she imagines
Mapplethorpe’s green eyes, his dark hair, and his voice: Smile for me, Patti, as I am smiling for you.


We should all smile.



First Look: New Corin Tucker Album



1000 Years, out next
week on Kill Rock Stars, is mom rock you can really get behind.


By Ron Hart


Coming soon: an
interview with Corin Tucker, in which she talks about life since Sleater-Kinney
and how her new outfit came together. “It’s funny – we’re all of us in our late
thirties, playing these songs,” says Tucker, of the band. “But once we really
go for it and play rock songs, we could feel like we’re 22 again. You just have
that moment when you get to completely let yourself go and enjoy it. It’s so
much fun.” Meanwhile, have a sneak preview of the record, below. – Ed.



The full album is streaming now until October 5 on NPR. You can listen


can download “Doubt” from 1,000 Years now:


For anyone who ever wanted to hear Corin Tucker test her
massive pipes behind the quietude of a piano, your ship has finally come in. Written
and recorded over the course of the last year following the Oregon siren’s
extended break from the music industry to raise two children in the wake of her
celebrated group Sleater-Kinney’s hiatus, 1000
might not be exactly the furthest cry from the last couple of records
with her longtime band, as tracks like the Wire-esque “Half A World Away” and
the Dig Me Out throwback “Doubt”


However, it is those moments when Tucker (expertly backed by
Unwound bassist Sara Lund and Golden Bears drummer Seth Lorinczi) totally plays
against her riot grrrl urges that her solo debut shines the brightest, employing
acoustic guitars and Fender Rhodes on “It’s Always Summer”, cello for “Dragon”
and electronic static on “The Big Goodbye”. But it’s the implementation of that
beautiful baby grand on ballads like the stark “Thrift Store Coats” and the
gorgeous album closer “Miles Away” which serves as a perfect vessel to catapult
her iconic voice into the upper reaches of heaven. 1000 Years is mom rock you can really get behind.



Neil Young Unveils “Le Noise” Film


Sometimes a video clip
is worth a thousand words…


By Fred Mills


So with Neil Young’s new Daniel Lanois-produced Le Noise album out this week, Young has
also served up a 39-minute film from the recording sessions. You can view it
below, and get ready to shred. ‘Nuf said. Review of the record incoming…




Electric Owls Return w/ “Cullowhee” EP



Followup to their
acclaimed Vagrant album Ain’t Too Bright.


By Blurt Staff


Electric Owls announce the release of CULLOWHEE SONGS EP,
available November 9 through
all digital outlets. The 4-song EP was recorded over the last two months at
Electric Owls leader Andy Herod’s
home studio in Asheville, North Carolina.


“We’d been playing
a few of these songs live over the last year so this EP was an attempt to
finally get them recorded and out,” noted Herod, in a statement. “I also wanted to release something that I
recorded and produced myself from home, so I thought an EP was a good way to
approach that.”


The EP will also be released on 7″ vinyl and only available at upcoming Electric Owls shows
or directly through their website. The
vinyl package will include a digital download code with original screen-printed
artwork created by Herod.  


Fans can check out a stream of “When I Was A Flood” at the band’s website.


Cullowhee Songs features multi-instrumentalist
Herod on mouth harp, banjo, keys, xylophone, accordion, guitar, shakers, and
more, while Matt and Krum Rumley join on bass and
drums, Nick Campbell on
guitar, and Shane Connerty also
on ukulele.


The EP was mixed at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, the same place that
Electric Owls debut album, Ain’t
Too Bright 
(2009, Vagrant) was recorded. No less a (cough)
musical authority than BLURT enthused over the album, calling it a “charmingly
eclectic, dreamily melodic and hook-laden album of pop songs. The subject
matter is romantically personal but filled with the kind of lyrical touches
that mark a talented songwriter.”






The Church For Australian Rock Hall



Band is among five
artists selected for this year’s induction.


By Fred Mills


While Cleveland’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame was busy
yesterday announcing the 2011 inductees, Down Under in Australia, the ARIA
Hall of Fame was announcing its latest crop of inductees – among them, BLURT
faves The Church. It’s an especially sweet stroke of timing as this year also
marks the band’s 30th anniversary in the music industry. Salute!


Entering the ARIA Hall this year will be The Church plus ‘60s
popsters the Loved Ones, punk legends the Models, pop artist Johnny Young and
country singer John Williamson.


In a statement, ARIA chairman Denis Handlin commented, “It’s
very exciting to be again celebrating the extraordinary history of Australian
popular music and the many incredible artists who have made it so special. We
are delighted to induct such a distinguished group of Australian artists into
the ARIA Hall of Fame. Between them there are many years of unforgettable music
history, including the 40th career anniversary of John Williamson and the 30-year
anniversary of the church. We are proud to honour them all.”


The induction ceremony will be at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney on Oct. 27.


Lingua Musica Live Webcast Tonight


Featuring performances
by Grammer School plus panelists/commentators Joe Kendrick (WNCW-FM), Stephanie
Morgan (stephaniesid), percussionist River Guerguerian and an editor from BLURT…
Interact via Twitter via hashtag


By Fred Mills


We’d like to invite you all to the White Horse club in Black Mountain, NC,
or if you’re not necessarily in the immediate vicinity, to join in the
festivities online, tonight at 7pm EST for the new web show Lingua Musica. As
conceived and hosted by our good buddy Joe Kendrick (one of the DJs at WNCW-FM
and also host of that station’s “What It Is” show), Lingua Musica is presented
as an evening of music and conversation.


Go to the official Lingua Musica website for details and
more, including a link to the first show from about a month or so ago. The show will be streamed live starting around 7:00.


The show is designed to showcase a rotating cast of musical artists, journalists and
industry professionals as panelists who talk about music news, history and
culture while inviting the audience to take part. Meanwhile, for the hour long
live webcast, in addition to a pair of in-depth conversations (“Music Business
101” and “Great Concerts”), music will be provided by the house band – tonight,
Asheville trio Grammer School.


Musica’s live stream on the website will also take viewer comments on
twitter with the hashtag #linguamusica which will be seen by the round table of
panelists who may then respond to the audience, creating a continuous loop of
conversation. We’ll have a literal and virtual room full of musical
professionals and fans who will be talking about their their passion and
business: the news, history and culture of music.


panelists tonight: moderator Kendrick, yours truly, Stephanie Morgan (vocalist
for Asheville’s acclaimed indie rockers stephaniesid) and internationally-acclaimed percussionist River




Rock Hall Gets It Right… Finally



2011 Nominees are Tom
Waits, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Donovan, Neil Diamond, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J,
J. Geils Band, Donna Summer, Chic, Dr. John, Laura Nyro, Joe Tex, Darlene Love,
and Chuck Willis


By Fred Mills


It’s an annual ritual by now – and now, we don’t mean the
announcement of the latest crop of nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame,
but the inevitable bitching and navel gazing that accompanies the announcement.
Which of course is followed soon enough by more bitching and navel gazing when
the inductees themselves are selected and announced.


So as you’ve no doubt heard by now, for the Class of 2011,
those nominated for the first time are Tom Waits, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper,
Donovan, and Neil Diamond – pretty hard to argue with any of those, although
punk purists will have a field day with the Bon Jovi nod and everyone who’s not
familiar with the pre-schmaltz-era Diamond may have a thing or two to say as
well. (Suggestion: pick up a copy of Diamond’s early hits and you’ll be a


Then those who were previously nominated and get another
shot at the brass ring this year are Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, J. Geils Band,
Donna Summer, Chic, Dr. John, Laura Nyro, Joe Tex, Darlene Love, and Chuck
Willis. No arguments there, either; all are sound selections of deserving
artists. Here’s hoping we will not have a reprisal of that silly it’s-disco-so-how-can-it-be-rock-and-roll argument
that accompanied Summer and Chic 
nominations in years past.


Have at it, kids. More details at the official Rock Hall
. The announcement will come in December with the induction ceremony slated
for March 14 in NYC.


Meanwhile, check out our perennially popular dissection of
the Rock Hall,
published quite awhile back but still generating heated
controversy in the reader comments section.


Oh, and congrats to Tom Waits. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see
an onstage collaboration with Waits and the Beasties?



NPR Music Tops Latest Blurt Poll



27% of BLURT readers
get their new music fix from public radio and NOT from their local indie record
store – what’s up with that?


By Fred Mills


The votes are in, and the readers have spoken: NPR Music is
where you folks go to get your new music fix. Apparently all those
week-before-release-date streams of key new releases – which recently included
Deerhunter, Neil Young, Corin Tucker and Sufjan Stevens –  have tipped the scales in the favor of the
good folks at NPR. A big salute!


The original question was, “Where do you get your main new
music fix?” As you can see from the results of our web poll, below, NPR Music
was way out in front with 27% of the votes, with satellite radio, college radio
and MP3 blogs coming in more or less second. Some of you also get your jollies
via illegal downloads (at torrent sites), at 9%, while sadly only a small
percentage, 6%, claim to get your buzz on at record stores. C’mon folks, let’s
get out there and support those indie retailers. Just because they can’t match prices is no reason to leave ‘em hanging out to dry.



The rest of the results pretty much speak for themselves,
although our good friend Jamal, who mans the bootleg CDR kiosk down on the
street corner near the BLURT offices, is going to be severely bummed that
NOBODY is interested in his wares. Hey, he had the new Arcade Fire even before –
and cheaper than –


Check out our newest BLURT poll at left-hand column of the
home page. In honor of Matador Records’ big 21st anniversary bash in
Vegas this weekend, we’re asking who is your all-time favorite Matador act.


Rrrowr! Olof Arnalds Vs. Olafur Arnalds!



Roll over Sigur Ros,
and tell Bjork the news…


By Fred Mills


Can’t tell your Icelandic exports from your, er, Icelandic
exports? Guess what? Neither can we! They all sing in this weird,
unintelligible dialect and compose ethereal, avant-ish music (nobody from Iceland rocks). Plus, they all seem to have
similar names, which compounds the branding issues. Don’t even ask us about
trying to insert the myriad symbols that are supposed to go over the vowels in
their names…


Case in point: Olafur Arnalds, and Olof Arnalds, each with
recent releases gaining Stateside attention. One of ‘em is a guy, and the other’s
a gal, and we have reviews of both of them today at BLURT so you can update
your musical scorecards, so follow the links below.


Bottom line: if you recently got a secret thrill when you
saw the headline for our Jim Jones Revue story, only to get a low-grade bummer
when you started reading and learned it wasn’t about the cult leader (Guyana;
Koolaid; etc.) Jim Jones, this note’s for you, bubba!



 Olafur Arnalds – …and they have escaped the weight of


Arnalds – Innudir Skinni




SHOWCASE: Bowie’s Station to Station Reissue


The Thin White Duke’s
transition album sounded like nothing before, nor after – as EMI’s new expanded
special/deluxe edition, out this week, amply illustrates.


By A.D. Amorosi


It’s been said that 1976’s Station to Station was the transitional center point of Bowie’s
1970s, the testy album that found him exiting princely literate pop,
character-driven glam and plastic soul (Hunky
, Aladdin Sane, Young Americans) for more experimental
waters (the Berlin trilogy). Yet, with its numb musical web of steely cabaret,
motorik-electro-metal, histrionic balladry and ice queen death disco set below
existentialist themes and an overawing schmaltzy croon, not only is StS an anomaly in Bowie’s ever-shifting
career. There’s nothing else that sounds like it; not before (despite Can/Neu!
influences) not after (despite Beck steeling bits for Midnight Vultures).


Stripped of the oxygenated feathered rock and the wily pomp
circumstances of cracked actor-characterization, this Bowie – lean, slicked
back and black-and-white what from the wealth of StS photos and paraphernalia inside the Isolar tour programs and
such that make up the Deluxe edition – sounded as wintry cool and stark as he
appeared. The block red lettering and bleak white-and-gray photography of its
cover (returned to such after the famed Ryko re-issues used the color originals
taken from his starring role in The Man
Who Fell to Earth)
is cutting and spare. The airless StS, despite several lengthy songs, is brief (six songs, no
outtakes or lost tracks) and feels both incomplete (then again, so does Low which followed it), yet perfectly
finite, withdrawn within itself and all worlds around it.


The entire package, from inside to out, is hermetically
sealed and severe. Or is it?


The music is frozen – stilted angular pianos, brain-rattling
bass and synthetic train sounds mark the title track like a pox even when its
melodies prove ever-reaching and rich; the ice-cavernous production of “Stay”
and its soul-blasting guitar licks are without thaw even when its tasteful solo
raves on. There are tinted, weird whispers to be heard if you listen hard,
blowing like tiny gusts of icy wind. The vocals, whether soaring from low to high
on the mid-tempo disco-flicker of “Golden Years” (“don’t let me hear you say
life’s taking you nowhere… angel”) or swooning through romancing the stony
religiosity of “Word on a Wing” are so chill you can still see Bowie’s breath
hanging in mid-air thirty four years after the fact.


And make no mistake – this is Bowie at his powerhouse vocal best. Storied
as one of his most (the most?) cocaine-fueled recording sessions and
coming off the frailty of singing on Young
, it’s amazing that the singer had any voice at all. Yet, StS – the paranoid studio album and
famed Live from Nassau Coliseum CD
that this box contains – show Bowie
to be pop’s most protean yet elegant singer.


That he, the Euro-man cometh, this Thin White Duke, shows
his disconnected connection for wayward television monitors (the jaunty
“TVC-15”) may say that this Bowie
is incapable of loving beyond the alien. “And who will connect me with
love?” asks Bowie
through the raging racing second half of the clinical epic “Station to Station.”
Yet the Christian-themed and hymn-like feel of “Word on a Wing” prove, perhaps,
that Bowie’s
focus was on something higher than modern love or mortal man.


Ain’t that close to love?


[Photo Credit: Andrew Kent]


(A.D. Amorosi is a
BLURT Contributing Editor