Category Archives: Music News

Pylon Reenactment Society, Harvest Recs’ Transfigurations Fest Incoming

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….

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:

Pylon Reenactment Society Part Time Punks Session 12″ review

Everything Is Cool

Back to Athens

Pylon Live album review

Here are the details on the show this Saturday, August 24. Be there, or be… you know. Cubic.

Pylon Reenactment Society -Athens, GA
(Post Punk / Dance Funk / Art Rock)
Crooked Ghost – Asheville, NC
(Dream Pop` / Post punk)
Fourth Mansions – Athens, GA 
(Acoustic music from the mind of Joe Rowe)
The Mothlight
Doors 8 pm. Music starts at 9 pm.
——————————————

 

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.

Perfect Sound Forever Interviews Jim DeRogatis on R. Kelly

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.

http://www.furious.com/perfect/rkellybook.html

 

2019 Lockn’ Festival About to Happen! (Aug. 22-25)

Subject header says it all – and stay tuned for our coverage of this year’s event, right here at Blurt.

By Blurt Staff

Need we encourage you once again?

The above poster to the annual jamming blowout should tell you all you need to know. Meanwhile, check out our coverage from years previous, courtesy our ace shutterbug, Willa Stein:

FOR THE LOVE OF… Lockn’ Festival 2018
MAKE AMERICA LOVE AGAIN: Annual LOCKN’ Festival 2017
Photo Gallery: Lockn’ Festival 2015

 

Video Exclusive: The Cynics Live Brooklyn 8/16/19

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!

Silver Jews’ David Berman 1967-2019 R.I.P.

Above photo via Drag City / by Brent Stewart

By Fred Mills

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.

Video Premiere: New Duncan Imperials

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!”

‘Nuf sed.

The Duncs online:  https://www.newduncanimperials.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NewDuncanImperials/

 

Video Premiere: New Duncan Imperials “Hunny Bunny”

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!”

‘Nuf sed.

The Duncs online:  https://www.newduncanimperials.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NewDuncanImperials/

 

Track Premiere: Beechwood’s “I Know It’s Not Right”

Instant classic tune has its roots on their latest album, Songs From The Land Of Nod.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Somewhere between gritty garage rock and glam punk resides the New York-based trio Beechwood.

And damn, if it’s not a pretty cool place to live.

So when asked, Blurt jumped at the opportunity to host the premiere of their song “I Know It’s Not Right,” one of the outtakes from their 2018 album Songs From The Land Of Nod.

 

“I was in bad shape when I wrote and recorded this song,” said the band’s Gordon Lawrence. “I was physically and mentally broken and didn’t see a way out at the time, but I still believed that things would get better, even at my worst. I just didn’t know what that would look like or when it would be. It’s hard for me to listen this song because I don’t like to think of that time, but at least I was self aware enough to come out and say ‘I know it’s not right.’ I’ve never tried to justify what I was doing, but I knew it was wrong. I just didn’t know how to get help until about two years later. Recordings capture a moment in time, and as dark as things may have been, I’m still happy that I was able to capture how I felt, just in case I ever forget.”

Songs From The Land Of Nod was one of two records the band put out last year (the other being Inside The Flesh Hotel). Beechwood is heading to European shortly for a spate of dates.

 

BEECHWOOD 2019 EURO TOUR DATES
18 July @ Patronaat — Haarlem, NL
20 July @ Le Petit Bain — Paris, FR
21 July @ Le Galion — Lorient, FR
22 July @ Shacklewell Arms — London, UK
24 July @ The Hope and Ruin — Brighton, UK
25 July @ Relache Festival — Bordeaux, FR
26-27 July @ Binic Folk Blues — Bicnic, FR

(More dates to be announced soon)

Guadalcanal Diary/Woggles’ Jeff Walls 1956-2019 RIP: An Appreciation

 

From the Editor: Atlanta/Athens musical maverick Jeff Walls passed away this week from what was described as a rare  pulmonary disease. He’d battled it for some time, and a GoFundMe campaign that his old Guadalcanal bandmate Murray Attaway had organized had already raised $45,000 towards a double-lung transplant. At the GoFundMe page a tribute reads, “Jeff Walls passed away on May 29th surrounded by his family. With broken hearts, we will continue this fundraiser and all the scheduled events as a memorial to this remarkable man, and to continue to help his family with the overwhelming medical costs of his care.”  To call Walls a mainstay of the Georgia – and the entire Southern – indie/alternative music community would be an understatement; I saw him early on with the legendary Guadalcanal Diary in the mid ’80s, sometime later with his rockabilly project Hillbilly Frankenstein, and in recent years with garage maestros The Woggles (who were also beloved guests at BLURT’s SXSW day parties at the Ginger Man club in Austin – scroll to the bottom for a video clip from that show). You can read a moving remembrance penned by veteran Georgia music journalist Tony Paris here, and below, our man in Atlanta, John Boydston, submits his own memories in words and photos. There will be memorial concerts to help raise funds for his medical bills later this month: June 7 at The Foundry in Athens, and June 23 at The Earl in Atlanta. – FM

TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Below: Woggles at Hole In The Wall, Austin SXSW, 2013

Jeff Walls was so up-close and friendly with everyone that you didn’t need to be a personal friend to get his full attention, and have conversations like you were in fact a longtime buddy catching up.   A mutual friend describes it well —  ‘When you were eye-to-eye with Jeff and he started telling you something, you just shut up and listened cause it was always amazing stuff.’   No matter what he was talking about it was cool and he let you in.   His friendliness, candor, and humor were always on.  Then throw on top of that what he is best known for: his incredible musical talents, showmanship, and studio chops that were already fully-formed when Guadalcanal Diary cut their first LP in 1984.  (True with that whole band in fact.)

Below: Woggles at Ginger Man, Austin SXSW, 2013
 

And the things I learned just following his Facebook feed and interacting there after I’d met him and shot a couple of SXSW gigs by The Woggles in 2013.   That band was a photographer’s dream, even in the darkest of clubs.  Especially in the darkest of clubs.   They shared my pics that weekend to great acclaim, and Jeff would continue to be highly complimentary of my “shutterbuggery” and thank me for my services every chance he got.   That was cool, cause I would learn Jeff didn’t say anything he didn’t mean.

Below: Jeff Walls w/Blasting Cap (which he formed with Guadalcanal Diary’s Murray Attaway) in Atlanta in 2016
I caught up with Blasting Cap, a band he put together with his wife Phyllis (on bass), GD co-founder Murray Attaway, and drummer Robert Schmid of the Swimming Pool Qs, and a gig at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta in early 2015.  I got some shots of band, and was sitting talking to Q’s singer Anne Boston (who were playing next), while Blasting Cap was winding down their set.  She said it looks like Jeff is getting ready to do something funky and suggested I go behind the stage and shoot whatever it was.  Got there just as Jeff was doing his Stratocaster toss, which I was not expecting.   Jeff’s rock and roll stage showmanship was never not on.   I attempted a GIF of that moment you can see here.

And you got deep thoughts from the guy too – here’s a quote from a private exchange we had on FB talking about the fickle biz he was in – “I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to be successful and be admired for music that you secretly hated … Not that I’ve ever had that problem! I think that the less-imaginative, mediocre musicians usually have the opposite problem: They fall in love with everything they do (no matter how god-awful it may sound to others). Otherwise, they wouldn’t keep doing it.”

Below: Jeff Walls with the Plimsouls in Athens in 2016

The next year I caught Jeff in Athens, GA (Ath Popfest) in a retooled version of The Plimsouls, with that band’s original guitarist Eddie Munoz, and Atlanta’s Bryan Malone also filling in for a short East Coast tour.  I forget the bar name, but the stage area was set up like a living room, and these guys exploded for a power-set of Plimsouls hits. Jeff played bass.  Also got to talk to Jeff before the show and that conversation was mostly about how much he loved his family, many of whom were there and ready to rock.  Being a grandparent is the best, he told me.

While I do not have photos, I did catch Guadalcanal Diary twice – once in 1986 at 688, and then a reunion show in 1999.  Plus Jeff’s band Hillbilly Frankenstein in 1993 at Atlanta’s Cotton Club. That might be one of the best rock and roll shows I’ve ever seen, and his timing with the retro-upswing of the ’90s was spot on.    Night and day from GD’s music, it just proved what brilliant a musician and showman Jeff was.

Anyone who can do all that and be the world’s nicest guy will truly be forever missed and appreciated. (Amen. – Ed.)
****
Below: A video clip of the Woggles performing at the above-mentioned BLURT day party during SXSW in 2013.

Track Premiere: Eli Musser “Smile”

Culled from the singer-songwriter’s upcoming debut, it’s an instant pop delight.

By John B. Moore

New York, by way of West Virginia, musician Eli Musser name checks the melodic pop “Big Four” when it comes to influences: Beach Boys, Byrds, Big Star and The Beatles.

And it’s not hard to hear those influences on the song “Smile (‘Cause Somebody Loves You)” off his upcoming debut, Content, due out this fall. Check it out for yourself here, on this Blurt exclusive song premiere.

Says Musser, of the track, “I wrote ‘Smile’ as an anthem of optimism and comfort while going through a tough time: moving to New York in my 20’s brought a lot of changes and loneliness. The uplifting lyrics and hummable melody are simple and direct; the arrangement and production are also a knowing nod to the buoyant studio sounds of the late ’60s and early ’70s. It’s a song intended to speak to those who wonder if anyone has their back. The answer is ‘yes’.”

Content was mixed by Bryce Goggin (of Pavement, Evan Dando, Sean Lennon, Ramones, etc., renown). It’s familiar guitar-based rock, brimming with catchy pop melodies and refreshingly personal lyrics. Connect here: https://www.facebook.com/musserofficial