Monthly Archives: November 2010

New Player in the Ticketing Industry?

“First and only” fair
trade company only charges $1.99 for service fees on tickets.


By Fred Mills


It’s been a tough concert year all around, revenue-wise,
although it’s debatable whether behemoths like Live Nation and Ticketbastard,
er, Ticketmaster have gotten the message that consumers have had it just about
up to here with some of the hoops we have to jump through – and all of the
bullshit fees we have to cough up in the process – just to catch a show. There
are options, of course, if an independent promoter is handling a show and the
venue is employing a service such as TicketWeb (yours truly has consistently
had a good experience when a concert was sold via TicketWeb), but there’s no


At any rate, Seattle-based Brown Paper Tickets – which bills
itself as “the first and only fair-trade ticketing company” –  has quietly been making inroads into the
ticketing business, and a press release issued this week handily outlines the
services BPT offers both to event producers and to actually concert-goers. You
can read the press release here, and check out the website here. Meanwhile, I
spotted a satisfied customer testimonial elsewhere on the web that is worth



The company’s “fair trade” motto is what actually caught my
eye. Check out a few of the company’s claims, which if they are backed up, seem
to be pretty significant. That $1.99 service charge isn’t exactly
insignificant, either:



* We offer the lowest
service fee in the industry (Never more than $1.99!) with no hidden costs. No
credit card service fees, no “holiday” fees, and no print at home
fees. Relax and enjoy your event.


* We donate at least
5% of our profits to charities and microloans to communities we serve and

* We treat our employees fairly, providing a livable wage and insurance to all
full-timers. We’d offer insurance to the part-timers, but the insurance company
won’t let us. Yet.




New Garage Rock Doc Premieres


Zeroes in on the
contemporary garage scene… points deducted for that awfully familiar-sounding
title, however…


By Blurt Staff


New Garage
Explosion!!: In Love With These Times
, produced by Scion A/V and Vice, recently premiered at the
Scion site as well as Vice’s site.


After a brief nod to
garage’s humble beginnings amongst American youth in Detroit during the 1960s and its contribution
and influence on ’80s punk, the documentary focuses on the scintillating
present. As it pans trans-nationally, the camera profiles artists like the late
Jay Reatard, Black Lips, The
Dirtbombs, Thee Oh Sees, Smith Westerns, Vivian Girls and
many more in an attempt to understand not only the exponential ascent of garage
rock’s popularity but the reason these people feel so passionately about it. A
wide-eyed glimpse into a musical movement, New Garage Explosion!!: In Love
With These Times
is as much about the music as it is about the people
contributing to the distinct scenes of the San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, New York, Memphis, Atlanta, and Portland
garage communities.

VBS directors Joseph Patel and Aaron Brown worked
with producer/journalist Mike McGonigal to offer a particularly in
depth examination of a multi-dimensional and often misunderstood slice of
popular culture unfolding in front of us.


By the way, sharp-eyed
readers may have already been scratching their heads about the film’s title:
yes, In Love With These Times is also
the name of a classic compilation of New Zealand’s Flying Nun label
roster of bands…





UPDATE Listen to PJ Harvey Today



UPDATE 5pm EST: She’s got the track “Written On the Forehead” now uploaded to a SoundCloud account. Check it out here.


First sonic teaser slated to be unveiled; album arrives Feb. 15.

By Blurt Staff

Quick update on that forthcoming new PJ Harvey album we wrote about last week: due out on Island in the UK on Feb. 14, it will have a Feb. 15 released stateside on Vagrant.

Today, Nov. 30, fans have been notified that they can visit her official website to get a preview of a new song, although as of this writing there’s nothing posted. Instead, there is a message indicating that tonight at 7pm (UK time) she will be a guest on the BBC’s Zane Lowe show, where a new track will be aired.

Here’s the tracklisting, by the way:

1.       Let England Shake
2.       The Last Living Rose
3.       The
Glorious Land
4.       The Words That Maketh Murder
5.       All And
6.       On Battleship Hill
7.       England
8.       In The
Dark Places
9.       Bitter Branches
10.   Hanging In The Wire
  Written On The Forehead
12.   The Colour of The Earth



Seefeel Returns After 14 Years


Legendary ambient/electronica
outfit makes “not just a record, but a great record.”


By Blurt Staff


Post-shoegaze, proto-ambient rockers Seefeel made an
unexpected return to the public eye in May of 2009 at the Warp Records’ “Warp20”
anniversary bash, and according to the label’s cofounder Steve Becket the
performance from Mark Clifford & Co. was “unbelievable.”


Which probably didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who
caught the electronica mavens during their ‘90s heyday. Apparently Beckett then
approached the band about doing another album – it had been nearly 14 years
since their last record – and the response was positive. Enthuses Beckett,


“They came back six months later – not just with a record,
but a great record. This band needs to be heard, they need to be seen so that’s
why we got involved again. Family members might leave for a long time but they
will always come home.”



So earlier this year the band dropped a teaser EP, Faults, that got great notices. The new album, simply
titled Seefeel, is due
Feb. 1 from Warp. We’re listening to an advance of it right now, and it is
pretty amazing. While you await it, you can check out a clip from the
Warp20Paris show right here.



[Photo Credit: Stefan
De Batselier]




Hey-Hey, We’re the (R. Stone) Jayhawks!



They ain’t just monkee-ing around… hottest photos of the week, indeed!

By Blurt Staff

Shoot, it’s a hard knock life, being a photo editor and all that. Luckily, if you’re pulling time for an online portal, the internet can be a very, very forgiving place. Well, sometimes…

This afternoon, sharp eyed music buffs spotted the feature, w/photo, copied below, at


And while many of us here in the music world cheered the news of the great Mark Olson and Gary Louris getting their old back together (a press release was sent out today from Sony announcing a 7-date, 5-city mini-tour of the beloved Americana band’s reunion in which two of the Jayhawks’ albums will be performed in their entirety), some may have scratched their heads upon seeing the photo affixed to the RS article.

RS recovered quickly, however, and replaced the pic with the slightly more appropriate one, below… Hey, here at Blurt, we fuck up all the time, like when we mistakenly photoshopped Kurt Cobain’s face onto an image of an actual guitar player, haw haw haw… hoo….. (Thanks to our readers for pointing this out to us.) Incidentally, the Michael Ochs photo reproduced above is of the ’50s/’60s doowop group The Jayhawks. Clearly an honest mistake…



Read: Illustrated History of Prog Rock




The recent Mountains Come Out of the Sky: The
Illustrated History of Prog Rock, written
by Will Romano and published by Backbeat Books, is a mixed bag and gives short
shrift to the contemporary Prog scene, but otherwise covers a lot of valuable


By Rev.
Keith A. Gordon


rock (or “prog-rock,” if you will) is one of the most contentious
subjects in rock music criticism. Not that long ago, to admit that you liked
prog-rock was, for a rockcrit, akin to sleeping with Britney Speers (or her
1970s or ’80s pop-schlock equivalent). Mainstream music colleagues would look
at you like you were a syphilitic leper and a member of the Republican party…a
grimace usually reserved for those unabashed heavy metal fanzine types, while
indie rock dilettantes would dismiss you with a wave of the hand and some
under-the-breath mumbling about “musical masturbation” and
“selling out” or something….


kids, the Reverend didn’t achieve his lofty reputation as a rock ‘n’ roll
fanatic by living below other people’s expectations, and my lengthy love affair
with prog-rock is no exception. Yeah, I’ll admit it; I listened to King Crimson
and Yes as an apple-cheeked teen in the early 1970s, spinning prog on my cheap-o
BSR turntable alongside wax from Sabbath and Deep Purple. I’m not too proud to
say that my friends and I would, at times, imbibe in fruity battery-acid-tasting
wines that cost around a nickel a swallow, and venture out onto the edge of
prog-rock turf and listen to such avant-gardists as High Tide or Nektar.


the years, my dedication to prog-rock would wax and wane much like the music’s
commercial fortunes, my attention distracted first by punk and the British
“New Wave of Heavy Metal,” later by college rock in the 1980s and
grunge in the ’90s. Prog always hung around on the peripheral of my interest,
however, bands like Marillion and Pallas keeping the flame alive during those
dark days, those British stalwarts later joined by fellow travelers like
Spock’s Beard, the Flower Kings, and others in a neo-prog wave during the
latter part of the 20th century.


It’s a
safe bet that writer Will Romano, who has penned bios of blues legends Jimmy
Reed and Hubert Sumlin and contributed to such publications as Modern Drummer and Guitar Player, is a fellow prog-rock fanboy. He’d have to be, to
put together as lengthy a history of the music as he has with Mountains Come Out of the Sky,
sub-titled “The Illustrated History of Prog Rock.” While Romano’s
impressive tome falls short in a few areas, it’s a respectable, herculean
effort nonetheless, and probably the first such published by a major music book
imprint…a further testimony to the genre’s growing popularity and commercial
re-awakening during the past decade.


opens Mountains Come Out of the Sky with a lengthy chapter in which he attempts to tie the emergence of progressive
rock in the late 1960s and early ’70s with the 1960s-era music of the Beatles,
early Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, the Mothers of Invention, and even, ahem…the
Beach Boys. OK, so I don’t really get the last one, but yeah, all of the
aforementioned bands had some influence, however insignificant, on the music of
prog bands to follow, but it’s an ephemeral argument and one that doesn’t
really gain traction in my mind. Chapters on Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yes, and
Emerson, Lake and Palmer do a fine job of establishing prog-rock’s roots and
subsequent commercial success. Romano follows with chapters on Genesis and
Jethro Tull, describing in some detail the effect of the progressive undercurrent
on British folk-rock and its gradual evolution into prog-folk. 


From this
point, Mountains Come Out of the Sky is rather hit or miss, Romano approaching his subsequent subjects with shotgun
accuracy, scattershot chapters covering the more jazz-influenced music of
Colosseum and Greenslade; the “Canterbury” scene that yielded bands
like Soft Machine and Caravan, among others; Krautrock and German proggers like
Eloy or Triumvirat; and full-blown prog-folk bands like Strawbs and
Renaissance. Gentle Giant and Camel merit their own chapters, and Romano
develops an interesting, albeit brief narrative for both. Ditto for the chapter
on American prog, which glosses over the popularity and influence of Kansas in
a mad dash towards a section on Styx, a band that no one – including many of the
band’s members – believes is progressive in any way, whatsoever.


A chapter
on Italian prog-rock bands like P.F.M. (Premiata Forneria Marconi) is a blur of
band names and record titles that mean little to anyone except fellow Italians
and niche collectors, never really developing into a coherent story. Mike
Oldfield’s ground-breaking Tubular Bells album is afforded a few pages, and a lengthy chapter on Rush sets the stage for
progressive metal and a later section on prog-metal trailblazers Dream Theater.
Romano returns to King Crimson, ELP and Yes, updating each band’s story through
the present, and a chapter on Marillion provides a welcome capsule history of
the band.


closes Mountains Come Out of the Sky with an unsatisfying chapter on prog-rock in the 21st century. He largely
ignores the strides made in the popularity of prog over the past decade,
providing Spock’s Beard, one of the leading lights of the neo-prog movement,
with barely a page-and-a-half of coverage; Sweden’s Flower Kings, as popular among
the European prog community as Spock’s Beard is in America, is given just six
or seven paragraphs. Porcupine Tree, perhaps the most mainstream successful of
the 1990s prog bands, is provided only a couple of pages and largely ignores
frontman Steven Wilson’s worthy side efforts like Blackfield or No Man.


impressive an effort as Mountains Come
Out of the Sky
is, the book also disappoints somewhat. It is profusely
illustrated, especially with album cover graphics which, for many prog-rock
bands, are as important as the music between the covers, and Romano includes
photos of a lot of rare or hard-to-find album covers. There are a lot of color
band photos as well, but I personally would have liked to have seen a few more,
especially of those obscure artists that received little music mag coverage in
the U.S. during the 1970s and ’80s.


it is what Romano overlooks, more than what he covers, which vexes the
dedicated prog-rock fan. Little or nothing is said of influential bands like
Canada’s Saga (still thrilling prog fans today), Scotland’s Pallas, or
England’s Family, among many others. His coverage of the last, say, fifteen or
so years of prog-rock is abysmal, with the aforementioned and too-brief
mentions of Spock’s Beard, the Flower Kings, and Porcupine Tree, each of which
could merit a chapter of their own. Among those worthy candidates for inclusion
that are missing in action are bands like Abydos, Tiles, Threshold, Arena,
Glass Hammer, Kaipa, and Kino, among many others, all of whom have significant
followings and rich catalogs ripe for discovery. A chapter further exploring
the development of prog-metal and bands like Opeth or Fates Warning would have
been welcome, and maybe even something on the influential music and career of
King’s X could have been added.


Choices must be made, I suppose, and Romano does
a decent enough job with what he has, and the writing is informative and
entertaining. It’s just that Mountains
Come Out of the Sky
could have been so much more. Another 40 or so pages
with some of the content mentioned above would have done more than bulk up the book;
it would have made it a truly representative history of this often-maligned,
but enduring genre of rock music.



Peter Christopherson 1955-2010 R.I.P.

Throbbing Gristle
co-founder was also a gifted visual artist who worked with the legendary
Hipgnosis design team.


By Fred Mills


Details seem somewhat sketchy at the moment, but word began
trickling out yesterday of the passing of Throbbing Gristle co-founder Peter “Sleazy”
Christopherson at the age of 55. He apparently died in his sleep on Wednesday,
Nov. 24, at his home in Thailand.


You can read the official obituary at the Throbbing Gristle
, which reads, in part, “The music and art world has lost a great talent
whose unique approach ignored the conventions of the day and often challenged the status quo. At the time of his
death, Sleazy was in the midst of assembling what was to be Throbbing Gristle’s
next project: a cover version of Nico’s Desertshore album. Sleazy was a kind and beautiful soul. No words can express how much he
will be missed.”


Throbbing Gristle – Christopherson, Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey
Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter – commenced operations in England in 1976
and are widely credited with being one of the first industrial groups. The band
broke up in ’81 and P-Orridge and Christopherson subsequently formed Psychic
TV. In later years Christopherson was a member of Coil; Throbbing Gristle got
back together in 2004.


Throbbing Gristle was in the news recently; an account of T.G.
member P-Orridge apparently leaving the group in the middle of a tour was
subsequently disputed by P-Orridge, who posted his side of the story at his



Hey-Hey, We're the (R. Stone) Jayhawks!



They ain’t just monkee-ing around… hottest photos of the week, indeed!

By Blurt Staff

Shoot, it’s a hard knock life, being a photo editor and all that. Luckily, if you’re pulling time for an online portal, the internet can be a very, very forgiving place. Well, sometimes…

This afternoon, sharp eyed music buffs spotted the feature, w/photo, copied below, at


And while many of us here in the music world cheered the news of the great Mark Olson and Gary Louris getting their old back together (a press release was sent out today from Sony announcing a 7-date, 5-city mini-tour of the beloved Americana band’s reunion in which two of the Jayhawks’ albums will be performed in their entirety), some may have scratched their heads upon seeing the photo affixed to the RS article.

RS recovered quickly, however, and replaced the pic with the slightly more appropriate one, below… Hey, here at Blurt, we fuck up all the time, like when we mistakenly photoshopped Kurt Cobain’s face onto an image of an actual guitar player, haw haw haw… hoo….. (Thanks to our readers for pointing this out to us.) Incidentally, the Michael Ochs photo reproduced above is of the ’50s/’60s doowop group The Jayhawks. Clearly an honest mistake…



Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi, Jack White…

Superstars create
homage to classic Italian film music using original musicians from classic
Morricone scores. It’s due out in March via Capitol.


By Blurt Staff


Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton and
Daniele Luppi met in Los Angeles
in 2004.  Burton
had just created a media storm with The
Grey Album
, begun work on Gorillaz Demon Days opus and was also embarking on his hugely
successful Gnarls Barkley project with Cee-Lo Green.  Luppi, a composer
from Italy,
was receiving acclaim for his album An Italian Story, which revisited the
cinematic sounds of his childhood.  (He has also written music for the
screen – Sex and the City, Nine – and later worked with Burton
on arrangements for Gnarls Barkley, Dark
Night of the Soul
and Broken Bells.)

United by their shared passion for classic Italian film music, they decided to
create something special.  After an intense songwriting period – writing
separately at first, and then together as the songs evolved – they travelled to
Rome in October
2006.  Luppi made some calls and they assembled the original musicians
from films such as The Good, the
Bad and the Ugly
and Once
Upon a Time in the West
– including the legendary Marc 4 backing
band and Alessandro Alessandroni’s ‘I Cantori Moderni’ choir.  Most of the
musicians were in their seventies and hadn’t worked together for several

They booked time in Rome’s
cavernous Forum Studios – formerly Ortophonic Studios, founded, amongst others,
by the great Ennio Morricone.  Burton
and Luppi scoured the city for vintage equipment, using bottles of wine as
payment.  Every effort was made to replicate the recording practices of
the 1960s/70s golden age, recording live and straight to tape, with overdubs
but no electronics, computers, 21st-century effects or studio trickery.

“The studio was a beautiful thing,” says Luppi.  “It sits
underneath a neo-classical church and is carved out of an ancient
catacomb.  The space is huge.  It has an echo chamber and a room full
of vintage tapes.  The vibe is really inspiring.”

Return journeys were made to record the choir and full orchestra. 
“I’m so happy with how it’s turned out, but it’s been a real labor of
love,” says Burton,
who funded the whole project himself, “It’s taken up a lot of time and
effort, not to mention the cost, but it’s because it had to be a certain
way.”  And that, ultimately, reflects what this album is built on:
perfectionism, patience, being ambitious and two people who were prepared to go
to great lengths to ensure the end result is exactly at it should be.

The next step was finding two lead vocalists who could do justice to the songs
– three of which been written for a man and three for a woman.  While on
tour with Gnarls Barkley, Burton
met Jack White of the White Stripes: “I played him some of the tracks, not
even thinking I’d be able to get him on it.”  A year later, White
recorded his contributions – The
Rose With The Broken Neck, Two Against One
and The World – in Nashville.  “We thought it would be
really interesting to combine his voice, which is very rock n’ roll, with this
polished and elegant music,” says Luppi.  “He nailed it

White’s counterpart, in a revelatory turn, is Norah Jones, who flew to Burton’s LA studio from New York to sing on Season’s Trees, Black and Problem Queen
“I really love the way her voice sounds,” says Burton.  “I knew this was a little
bit different for her, but she was really up for it.”

Subsequently, acclaimed director and photographer Chris Milk was enlisted as
‘Visual Director’, and finally, after half a decade of hard work and unstinting
perfectionism, the album was mixed.  It opens with soprano Edda
Dell’Orso’s dramatic voice (used to haunting effect on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 44 years ago) gracing Theme of
.  For all its cinematic qualities, what follows is not
the soundtrack to an imaginary movie, or a homage to the great Italian film
composers but a complex, nuanced pop record with intensity and darkness as well
as uplift and light.  (Luppi calls it “a small window on human life,
touching on love, death, happiness, desperation, and the visceral connection of
a man and a woman”.)  It’s an ambitious work with a uniquely modern
sound that has been achieved through traditional, vintage processes.  It
is, above all, a fully realized album, perfectly formed and hauntingly beautiful. 


Howe Gelb Releases Name-Your-Price Album


Digital only album mark’s Gelb’s 1,857th release… link to
the download and his liner notes, below.


By Fred Mills


It was only last week when the
newest Giant Sand album Blurry Blue
arrived via Fire Records – we’ve got a review of it elsewhere on
the BLURT site
– yet already a new title has been released by GS mainman Howe
Gelb. Titled Melted Wires, it’s that
Thanksgiving weekend surprise we mentioned the other day in the news item about
getting ready to reissue 30 Sand/Gelb-related titles between now and the
end of 2011.


Now, another Howe Gelb album isn’t
exactly news, considering how
prolific the Tucson
musician. This one’s got a twist, however: it’s a digital-only download (FLAC
or 320k MP3) release you can only get from his official website, and it’s being
offered a la the Radiohead or Trent
Reznor pay-what-you-can model. It’s a bargain! But c’mon people, make sure you
cough up something reasonable and equitable, okay? It’s not like Gelb’s in the
same tax bracket at Radiohead or Trent….


Full details and tracklisting for
the 15-song album appears below – it was recorded at Wavelab studio in Tucson a
year ago, November/December 2009, and features Gelb on piano and guitar, former
Giant Sand (and current Calexico) drummer John Convertino, Giant Sand bassist Thøger
T. Lund, and Calexico trumpeter Jacob Valenzuela.


Melted Wires link


“Hit Single” link


In yet an additional twist, Gelb’s
offering a second digital “album,” also as a name-your-price deal, although
these particular 15 tracks comprise 15 different “versions” of the Melted Wires song “Hit Single.” As Gelb
puts it, “Although we want you all to pay what you think its worth and
or can afford .. we will offer bonus tracks free… but the bonus tracks are
only the same song done 15 times … ‘hit single’. We had some fun doing it so
many times .. kinda cracked us up .. so anyway, no big deal .. but definitely
some embedded yippity and John sounds incredible changing it up every take.”




1.  all done in

2.  bottom line man

3.  ballad of the tucson

4.  cold inside the sunshine

5.  holiday eyes

6.  cordoba in winter

7.  yer ropes

8.  cordoba in summer

9.  increment of love

10. time flies

11. lie there

12. warm inside the rain

13.  brand new swamp thing

14.  hit single

15.  the end again


Gelb’s notes: 


last year in december,
we gathered to rehearse for a benefit show to help with a local tucson school (miles
exploratory) and its defunct music + art programs. it was an informal cluster,
2 from giant sand and 2 from calexico, which
in itself merited a sweet symbol of holiday spirit and friendship above all
else. it included my old friend and band mate, john convertino on drums, jacob
valenzuela on trumpet, and thøger t. lund
on upright bass.


we gathered and played
in a way unlike most sessions, but much the same as the fabled w. eugene smith
recordings from the late 50s/ early 60s in his infamous new york ‘jazz loft’. he had wired his
drafty space in order to record at a moment’s notice the scores of jazz
musicians that would meet there after their club gigs had finished. those kind
of jams were players playing for themselves and each other. this kind of
capture was unlike any studio session or live gig.


(it should be noted
that all the rehearsal sessions to my favorite thelonious
monk recording of all time were recorded here in smith’s loft with hall
overton presiding. ironically, the entire accumulation of all that taping has
been since stockpiled and stashed in a secret room right here in tucson at the
university of arizona  since 1978.)


[perhaps one footnote
more, previously to smith leaving his family in jersey and setting up residence
in the dank jazz loft, he was hired by the cia to shoot a series of photographs
in spain in the 50s to be used as propaganda
in order to influence this country’s conscious in supporting the “poor”
peasants of spain and bolster such assistance by setting up a military base


but i digress … the
point being that the session you have here called ‘melted wires’ is symbiotic
with the sound of that jazz loft. players playing for the sheer love of it. it
has a wonderful looseness, a playfulness that couldn’t happen in any formal
recording or live presentation. an accidental conclave. a spin of the room. a
stop of the clock.


especially here in the
approaching season, a shared moment, a glimpse of happenstantial yippity, a
sonic embrace. you can hear the band grabbing old songs and playing inside them
like it was recess time in the school yard as well as new piano excursions with
their own exploratory spelunking.


these songs were as
they were, done live and unadorned with dubs or arrangement, except for the
exceptional frolic of “holiday eyes”. on that track john added vibraphone and
we added my 7 year old talula.


the name ‘melted
wires’ was said to be of my invention, but i have no memory of it, and so
simply allow it to tag us rightly. some fun in a room with the record button
on. although not everything recorded correctly, and not everything recorded
rightly, but all of it done as the fates determined and with a definitive joy
and splendor of cluster. may you have a wonderful season and a better year
ahead. maybe these ‘melted wires’ can assist in such inception, or at least
fill the void between connections, electrical or time elapsed, where wires
matter less then.



howe gelb

(thanksgiving,  2010)