Pictured above: Athens’ mighty Pylon Reenactment Society, playing Saturday night at the Mothlight. Meanwhile, Harvest Records’ Transfigurations III Festival will run Thursday through Saturday, featurineveryone from Danny Brown and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy to the Oblivians and ESG. Hey kids, this is drugs on your brain…. (Photo by John Boydston)
By Fred Mills
Here at the BLURT western North Carolina outpost, we live for opportunities like this: a slew of utterly amazing outfits – veterans and relative newcomers alike – are descending upon the quiet burg (heh-heh) known as Asheville this week/weekend, and it’s not necessarily hype to proclaim this to be the premier musical interlude of the year.
My respect for the Pylon Reenactment Society (heirs to the sonic and artistic legacy forged by Pylon and starting back in the early ’80s, when I initially saw the band) knows precious few, if any, boundaries. Let me revisit some past coverage here at Blurt:
Meanwhile, glom onto the above poster for our good friends at Harvest Records, located in West Asheville, for their big anniversary party, which takes place at multiple area venues this week. Rather than trying to steer you to any particular show, allow me to simply provide this link to their lineup page – you’ll be glad I did.
Hope to see a lot of my old friends out and about in a few days – it’s gonna be a special time.
As PSF mainman Jason Gross and the rest of the world ponders – how did we let him abuse young black girls for years?
By Fred Mills
I’ll keep this brief. I have known veteran journalist Jim DeRogatis for decades, stretching back to when both of us were contributors to a humble little East Coast zine called The Bob. His career as a thorough, ethical, and – let’s say it – relentless reporter speaks for itself.
Meanwhile, I will second my above sentiments for the equally veteran journalist Jason Gross, founder/editor of acclaimed music website Perfect Sound Forever (and no small fry when it comes to his contributions over the years to Blurt and other publications of note, incidentally).
So these two vets recently had a summit regarding DeRo’s explosive new book, Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly. I trust I do not need to supply an introductory statement as regards the (cough) good Mr. Kelly and his (cough) legacy. Just go to the latest Perfect Sound Forever and read on… and then pass the link on as well.
Live, appropriately enough, at Brooklyn’s Gran Torino, the Pittsburgh garage-rock heavyweights covered a classic LP in full, and in the process, blew the roof off the sucka. Watch our video exclusives, below.
TEXT/PHOTOS/VIDEO BY JONATHAN LEVITT
It’s a wonderful thing when you love a band for almost 30 years and finally get to see them live. Last night was the night that The Cynics roared into town and scorched everything in sight with a blistering set celebrating their stone-cold classic album Rock ’N’ Roll. (I wrote about the album for Blurt back in 2015.)
Playing the album from start to finish provided a thrill that went by in the blink of an eye. I sang along with every song and had to pinch myself that I was really witnessing this. I’ll know it was real because the documentary crew that was filming the band last night ended up interviewing me for the film. You can contribute money to help the filmmakers achieve their vision by going to this GoFundMe link. (Amen. – Uncle Blurt)
The band, which is about to embark on another Spanish tour, have just repressed the album on heavyweight vinyl with a bonus live LP. Set to be released in September, the LP is currently only available at gigs with a tote and badge as a bonus. (Preorder it at the Get Hip Records website.) (I just did. – Uncle Blurt)
For our Blurt readers and especially for good ol’ Uncle Blurt, I filmed a few songs from the show so you can witness some of the magic from last night. Long live The Cynics!
Presumably most indie rock fans got the sad news about Silver Jews’ mainman David Berman‘s passing on August 7; the cause of death has officially been listed as suicide, and it followed a history on Berman’s part of substance abuse, a couple of overdoses, and a 2003 suicide attempt. More recently, his marriage had dissolved and he was apparently experiencing deep financial issues.
I’ll leave the pop-culture analysis and biographical summaries to other outlets. What caught my attention today, however, was a tendency among some music fans to play the exploitation card against presumed (in their minds, at least) music retail gouging – as if they had never heard of or imagined an artist whose passing prompted sudden and renewed sales of his/her catalog. I will charitably view that opinion as “naive,” but to broadly paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson, I will also less charitably retort.
Allow me to add a potentially-received-as-cynical note: Welcome to real life, music lovers. This has been going on since Brutus shivved Caesar. To telescope down to the micro-level: why don’t we now also dump on Dave’s record label – I met him a couple of times, and he was a first-class dude, full disclosure, and I also mourn our loss – for not shutting down all product orders that are undoubtedly coming in at the moment? Or demand that they not accept money from streaming services that are having a major bump on Berman music?
It is the CONSUMERS who drive the demand, and therefore the prices. Commerce continues apace, regardless of what happens elsewhere in the biosphere. So by a certain twisted logic, maybe we should be going on a major rant against all the Silver Jews fans who suddenly want to get their fix when they got the news. Hey, what were they and their wallets doing during Dave’s lifetime, huh?
Here, let me very clear: he knew he had a very devoted fanbase. But he sure wasn’t on track to join the 1% from that fanbase’s support. Over the years I have voiced the opinion, in so many contexts and publications that I can’t even begin to remember, that the time to let an artist know you care and you respect him/her and you are looking forward to the next creation is NOW. Not after the fact. Ask me sometime how many heroes and heroines I’ve lost over the years and wished I had simply mailed in a fan letter, or, more recently, posted to their social media an expression of support, prior to their passing. As the visionaries of This Mortal Coil once pointed out so sagely and prophetically: “It’ll end in tears.”
I will add that I am 1 million percent against exploiting that $$$ exploitation dynamic, and I say that as a periodic record store employee or manager who was on the sales floor when the news of John Lennon’s assassination and Kurt Cobain’s suicide broke. We sure as hell didn’t say, “Hey, let’s jack these already-high album list prices and make a few extra hundred bucks by noon…” When you’ve been in the music industry as long as I have, you will have seen so many tragically premature shufflings off of the planet that you will reflexively say to yourself, “Well, i guess he/she’s gonna be back on the Billboard charts next week.”
But I am realistic: there will always be people who are engaged with commerce who, sensing an opportunity to make a few extra hundred bucks by noon, will go for it. I repeat: Welcome to real life, music lovers. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking records by a musician, autographs by a Kennedy, or scraps of a tunic originally worn by Caesar.
Now, I have no idea which music retailers are apparently being monitored by the Grief Police, or what their prices were before/after the news broke. What I would suggest, however, is that before making a blanket judgment, know what you’re talking about. In this instance, it would involve analyzing a number of complex marketplace dynamics… oh, and also the ability to read minds.
Just to bring it down to a more personal level: I had a pair of Silver Jews CDs that I’d listed online ages ago, and by the time I heard Dave had passed, those discs had sold hours earlier. One was relatively rare already. Were I so inclined, I probably could have claimed some b.s. like “sorry, cannot locate!” or “my co-worker wanted me to let him grab it and I had not yet had the chance to remove it from the store.” And then, of course, monitor the going prices, and re-list sometime soon in my store at a sweet spot, laughing all the way to the bank.
Obviously I didn’t. In fact, I had a wonderful conversation with a kid who clearly adored Dave’s music, and told him I was happy these could find find a good home with a fan. But that’s just me. Anybody who assumes that every collector, buyer, seller, mortician, etc. – and, let’s be very clear, capitalist – on the planet feels bound to act similarly is destined for a lot of disappointments once they get out of their parents’ basement.
None of this is intended to come across as cynical or uncaring. But I’ve seen this movie many, many times before. The rest of you will too, eventually.
David Berman, rest in peace. You brought a lot of joy to our civilization.
One of our fave, longest-running, indie outfits returns with a lascivious, blinded-by-science masterpiece culled from their new “Hunny Bunny” EP. No, we have no idea what is going on in the above photo, but we sure as shit dig it…
BY JOHN B. MOORE
It’s been eight long years since their last release, but clearly The New Duncan Imperials still had more left to say.
The band – know for satisfyingly gritty rock and roll, with roots in white trash culture, punk rock, indie pop and just about every influence in between – make more joyous noise than any guys from Illinois not in Cheap Trick should be allowed to make.
So Blurt was grateful when the band asked us to share the latest video and title track from the Hunny Bunny EP, a continuation of the New Duncan Imperials sound that dates back to the early 1990s. Check it out:
“In The New Duncan Imperials’ latest release, a teen-age heroine (Hunny Bunny) stomps all opposition as she thwarts the band’s schemes of world dominion,” said bassist/vocalist Kenn Goodman (aka Skipper). “Set to a Godzilla-sized riff and the band’s trademark blend of hard-rock cliche bending and left-field lyrics (“You smoke the world like a salmon on a tray”), “Hunny Bunny” is loud, weird, and weirdly adorable.”
Incidentally, our esteemed editor here at Blurt personally submitted the following testimonial: “I’ve been listening to these rock ‘n’ roll miscreants for ages – no, you can’t have your money back, if you ever bought one of their records based on my suggestion, but I will buy you a beer next time you feel like getting in my face – and this tune completely brings me to my soon-to-be-replaced garage-rockin’ knees. What the hell are you looking at this website for? GO BUY THE DAMN RECORD!”