Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
It List: Tuesday
Man Man/Yeasayer (The Loft): At their best Man Man displays some of the caffeine buzz quirk of stuff from the Belgian label Crammed in its heyday. When they slow it down a little, the vocals are given a little too much room and they tend to bog everything down with a Tom Waits-like sort of dirge approach that isn't as appealing. Apparently, their energetic live shows put all doubts to rest, though I'm tired of hearing that as an excuse for a band's lesser material. Yeasayer's wispy brand of Prog (tracks such as "2080") is occasionally laced with sassy, lily-white 80's vocals. Sometimes the music is expansive and moody enough to remind one of Pink Floyd's Meddle, but I once read that about a couple of tracks on Superunknown, so there you go.
Steve Earle/Allison Moorer (Lakewood Theater): Steve Earle is respectable enough, cusses in his songs, hates the death penalty, and rarely offends me when people twice my age put it on, which I can't say for most of this genre of songwriting. His legendary shot at Dwight Yoakam, where he allegedly scrawled "Dwight Yoakam Eats Sushi" into a Nashville record company's elevator is also pretty cool and you have to love taking that anonymous commenting to the next level, no pun intended. There's something very DFW about sushi eating cowboys, but I'll be nice today and not name any here. Show at 7 PM.
Occam's Razor/Har Herrar/Ippur (1919 Hemphill)
Joe Jackson/Mutlu (Palladium): Man, people love Joe Jackson. Does he have one solid album? You know how SR knows everything about music and tries to big-time all of us constantly? Yeah, well the truth is he listens to nothing but Joe Jackson around WSJR HQ. Drives me nuts.
Disqo Disco (Fallout Lounge): Disqo Disco will be on their own tonight and guest-free. I'm sure it will be just as good, but I do hope they have Tommyboy back again.
Review: The Frenz Psychomagik EP
Although this review will no doubt prompt a “What I think of Wanz Dover” Comments Section free-for-all, The Frenz’ new-ish Psychomagik EP offers a strong reminder that one of THE SCENE’s most polarizing figures has been involved and making interesting music since before many of his detractors were, as my grandma would put it, knee high to a grasshopper. Predating the full-fledged band lineup currently appearing as The Frenz live, this largely instrumental EP is the product of Dover’s original conception of The Frenz as a nom de release for over a decade’s worth of mainly solo “studio experiments,” reflecting a wide cross-section of the musical styles he has dabbled in over the years.
Opener, “The Truthkillers,” is the biggest sore thumb of the bunch, getting things off to a pretty non-indicative start with a noisy crash of tribal drumming, loud guitars, (possibly) a didgeridoo, and some highly processed vocals that I can only describe as Danzig-esque (circa the live version of “Mother”). With that bit of “TV On The Radio on a bad day” business out of the way, however, Psychomagik takes a decidedly dreamier and, to my ear, more appealing trajectory that reflects Dover’s long espoused twin loves: psychedelic guitar music (especially of the shoegaze variety) and the hyphen filled world of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music, obviously). The title track and “Das Schloss Des Lebens” are definitely the most “dancey” selections on offer here, with the former being a downright club friendly track vaguely reminiscent of a quality UNKLE remix of some early 00s guitar band, and the latter being the nicest slice of neo-Balearic prog disco that I’ve heard recently. “The Sea Is Me (Snowblind Mix)” is the serious IDM ambient track, and it would have been a perfect accompaniment to a cold bottle of water and a backrub in a comedown room somewhere ten years ago. Sadly, thrust outside of that context and in to 2008, it probably just sounds boring. The remaining two tracks, “Kraterz” and album closer, “Fon The Seducer,” are straight shoegaze / space rock / whatever-we-are-retroactively-calling-it-this-month tunes of the more noisy and dreamy variety, serving as a good reminder that Dover has been doing this kind of thing, and doing it well, since the mid-90s.
In the end, Psychomagik definitely has the overall feel of the grab bag, cleaning out the closet exercise that it is, but you’ll probably find at least a couple of tracks you enjoy on it. Considering this is the first of six Frenz EPs that are purportedly being released during the first six months of 2008 (the rest in the next two months, I guess), by late June you’ll be able to cobble together your own twelve-track Best Of The Frenz album. You could even throw their new remix of Radiohead’s “Nude” (think Burial with more jazz piano) on as a bonus track. I smell the perfect aging Dallas/Denton scenester Fathers Day gift!
Monday, April 28, 2008
It List: Monday
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Monday Morning Rock
SHOWS OF NOTE THIS WEEK
MON: Caribou/Fuck Buttons (The Loft)
MON: George Clinton (House of Blues)
MON: Mum/Tacks, the Boy Disaster (Granada)
TUE: Joe Jackson (Palladium)
TUE: Man Man/Yeasayer (the Loft)
THU: Kanye West/Lupe Fiasco (Superpages.com Center)
THU: Bonde De Role/The Death Set (the Loft)
FRI: MIA/Holy Fuck (Palladium)
FRI: Record Hop/When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth/Nouns Group/The Brewers (Rubber Gloves)
FRI: Party Garbage/Bad Sports/Vacation (715 Pandhandle)
SAT: Tapes N Tapes/White Denim (Hailey's)
SAT: Old Haunts/Rival Gang/TBA (Swiss House)
SUN: Meat Beat Manifesto (Granada)
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Alan Palomo Out of Ghosthustler
For reasons both creative and life changing, I have decided to leave Ghosthustler and move on. Amidst these circumstances my bandmates have deemed it necessary to carry on without me; I wish them the best of luck. Expect great things to continue being released from the Ghosthustler name and from my new project in the near future.
A disappointment for people who were expecting big things out of the group. We'll have more on this early next week.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The Party (Zubar): The Party DJs will be working with a four table set up tonight, which I assume means a lot of live mixing, etc. These guys could probably record themselves farting into a microphone and Zubar would STILL be packed with people waiting to hear it and let other people see them hearing it.
Big J and Schwa (Moosh): I stopped by Big J and Schwa's new weekly last week and discovered that it was actually a pretty good time. Moosh used to to be some vip room for a sushi place or something, but they've opened it up into what is actually a nice bar with a decent amount of dance floor room and a suitable sound sytem. And since it's right next door to Zubar, I guess there is no reason why you couldn't stop by if you're headed to the Party tonight.
Rush (Superpages.com Center)
Terry Riley's "In C" (Ft. Worth Modern): This is a free performance of minimalist composer Terry Riley's famous "In C" by Elizabeth McNutt, a member of UNT's Nova Ensemble. I'm not sure exactly how many people will be participating in the performance along with McNutt, but you can read more about the original conception of the piece here. Starts at 2pm.
Hotflash (Fallout Lounge): Killtronix and Schwa will be joined by Houston's Squincy Jones this evening, who seems to focus on dubstep and hip hop and a lot of harsh, high energy bass heavy crunk type of shit. He's got some really great remixes on his page as well.
Verulf/Matthew and the Arrogant Sea/New Science Projects/Febrifuge/The Heartstring Stranglers(Strawberry Fields): We've talked a great deal about Matthew and the Arrogant Sea and Verulf ever since we wrote that infamous article about them roughly seven or eight months ago, and it appears that a lot of other people are starting to take note of these two acts as well, given some of their new found friends in high places and high profile gigs. The other thing is that both are getting much better too. Good for them. The Heartstring Stranglers honestly probably have all the musical makings for a local hipster sensation: quirky, theatrical folk songs, lyrics sung in French, and a polished sheen that seems to be a prerequisite for the kind of "appeared in an Apple commercial" indie success that many younger bands seem to strive for these days. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, of course, and it should be noted that what they are doing is rather unique in the area and fairly interesting in the grand scheme of things... I just don't know if it's my thing. All of the material I've heard from them is well written and will obviously be appealing to a lot of Denton music consumers. Significantly more compelling in my mind is Febrifuge, another Denton act that I wasn't familiar with until recently. Do yourself a favor and check out the song "Adjusting Bodies" on the Myspace-- a sad pop ballad that sounds equal parts Jens Lekman, Phil Spector and Magnetic Fields with a touch of classic r&b burried deep beneath the layers of drama. The maturity, depth and power of this song is fairly remarkable, particularly for a relatively unheard of local artist, and I would guess that if this dude is able to crank out a few more like this, you'll be hearing much more about him very soon--highly recommended. By the way, this show is a charity event for the Center for Survivors of Torture, so quit being dickhole and show up for a while.
Florene/Doyen/Sunnybrook/Cereboso (J&Js): I would suggest that fans of Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, and Iron and Wine will REALLY dig Sunnybrook's stuff. I'm not even the biggest fan of any of that kind of stuff, but I've found myself drifting back to Sunnybrook's Myspace page a couple times this week to check out "Waving Hands," which also seems to have some of the same eerie sadness found in my favorite 70's prog folk act, Pearls Before Swine, even if Sunnybrook is considerably more pop oriented.
Yea Big and Kid Static/Sticky Buns/Farah/The Triggermen (Rubber Gloves): Yea Big and Kid Static tread dangerously close to being way too dorky for hip hop, but shit, the 8 bit influenced beats are pretty large and as MCs, these guys really have flow. I almost said no to this right of the bat, but the more I listen, the more I say yes.
97.9 The Beat Custom Car Show with Ludacris/Bun B/Rocko/Plies (Dallas Convention Center): This month's XLR8r cover boy and former UGK dude Bun B will be the most notable performer here, but I wouldn't mind goofing off to a Ludacris song or two. The best thing about this show, of course, is that it is a custom car show, which I'm guessing means 20 inch blades and all that shit. Should be fun as hell.
Benjamin Hancock: Bitter Sweet (Magnolia) 6-9pm
Dorkbot DFW (And/Or) 1-2pm
Check out the interview with Paul Slocum.
Martin Puryear and Kehinde Wiley (the Modern)
False Space and Time of the Apartment (Centraltrak)
I have to admit, I missed this opening last weekend but I've heard good things.
Brian Belott and Ed Blackburn (And/Or)
Casey Williams (Holly Johnson)
Damien Hirst (Goss-Michael)
Recent Prints from Durham Press (Marty Walker)
Magnus Sigurdarson and Leon Ferrari (Pan-American)
Vincent Falsetta, Justin Quinn, and Cedric Delsaux (Conduit)
Palace Does Dallas (Road Agent)
Photo: courtesy of sarahjanesemrad.com
It List: Thursday
Elf Power/Calhoun/Telegraph Canyon (8.0, Ft. Worth): Second generation Elephant 6 band comes to Ft. Worth tonight. I used to really dig them several years ago, but I just couldn't get in to Back to the Web, their most recent release (they have one coming out this year as well). Definitely more tolerable than most of the rest of the E6 stuff.
Blacklisted/Hands of the Few/HighLife/Power Trip (Red Blood Club)
Delmore Pilcrow/Khemo Rabbit/Street Hassle/Bad Taste (Rubber Gloves): Solid line up for the CD release party for Chris Garver's band, Delmore Pilcrow. I'd be especially curious to see what Bad Taste has been up to recently.
Van Halen (American Airlines Center)
We Luv Techno (Fallout Lounge): Wanz and Ineka will be joined by Maetrik tonight.
Summer Smackdown Movie Night (House of Dang): Starting at 830, House of Dang, in conjunction with the neighboring And/Or Gallery, will host a free screening of Showgirls. They will also force those in attendance to play some sort of Showgirls drinking game, and God knows what that entails. It's free and BYOB.
Local Sales Charts
GOOD RECORDS LOCAL TOP 5
1. Record Hop - Record Hop
2. Theater Fire - Everybody Has a Dark Side
3. Blackheart Society - Oh!!Oh!!
4. Mom - Little Brite
5. Erykah Badu - New Amerykah
GOOD RECORDS OVERALL TOP 20
1. Black Keys - Attack and Release
2. Black Angels - Directions to See a Ghost (pre-sale)
3. Record Hop - Record Hop
4. M83 - Saturdays=Youth
5. Man Man - Rabbit Habits
6. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
7. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
8. Theater Fire - Everybody Has a Dark Side
9. Blackheart Society - Oh!!Oh!!
10. Mom- Little Brite
11. She & Him - Volume One
12. Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
13. R.E.M. - Supernatural Superserious 7"
14. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
15. Stephen Malkmus - Cols Son 10"
16. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing
17. Devotchka - A Mad and Faithful Telling
18. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
19. Dodos - Visiter
20. Lions - No Generation
How are you planning to incorporate the Dorkbot model for Dallas?
Well, I’m basing it on the Dorkbot meeting that I went to before in Denmark. I’m partly taking what I know is available in Dallas, like people I know doing this kind of stuff, and just using what’s available and using speakers that are around doing what they do. I’m probably going to speak at the first one, because we don’t have a lot of speakers yet (laughs) - it’s just getting off the ground and it’s a loosely organized group. I’m going to talk about some of my software related to music, like a project I did that approximates the pitches of the number pi and some new software I wrote for Treewave. We’re also having Lars Larsen talk about some of his synthesizer modifications. He takes old synthesizers and opens them up and modifies them. So we’re going to have that kind of stuff.
I think later on we’re going to get David Hanson to talk- he’s a robotics expert working on his PhD at UT Dallas. Ean Schuessler is going talk about some of the stuff he has done for Disturbathon, like the invite he sent last year, where you would get an email that would take you to this webpage, and then you get a phone call, and when you answer the phone the webpage changes. So he’ll talk about stuff like that. It’s real techie, but kind of art. It’s tech art, you know? I think the Dallas one may end up being a little more software oriented, because that’s what I’m involved in.
Yeah, I was going to ask you if you had any plans to emphasize more of the art and music side or the tech side.
Well, I think it will be pretty evenly balanced. The original tagline for Dorkbot is “people doing strange things with electricity,” so a lot of times it has to do with robotics. Doug Repetto , who started [the original Dorkbot] in New York years ago, runs an annual event where people build art robots called Artbot. Some of his stuff is more robotics based, and I think some of them are geared towards electrical engineering. We’re definitely going to have some of that. Really I’m not sure how it will go- it kind of depends on what people show up with, what their working on. I don’t know all of everything going on in Dallas.
Ideally, how often would you like to have meetings, and what are some of the things you’d like to see in the future?
Currently what we’ve talked about is bi-monthly. I think it’s a good way to start since I don’t know how many speakers we’ll be able to get. I know there are people interested , and I’ve definitely felt the need for this for a long time. I wanted to start one awhile ago, but I needed a few other people to step up and get involved.
I’ve read about a couple things like Artbot where different cities will organize events outside of the meetings. Do you have any ideas or plans for something like that?
I haven’t really thought about that, it may come to something like that. I’ve been to two different ones. One was more of an event, more of a fair like you're talking about. And the one in Denmark was more formal. Personally I prefer the more formal meetings.
Do you encourage anyone to come to the meetings, or are they geared towards people who would be presenting and are heavily involved with electronics?
No, I don’t think you have to be involved. You don’t have to be doing something to go to the meetings. The format will probably be: we have a set amount of time for each speaker, and we’re thinking the meeting will be an hour long. That’s what we’re planning for this Sunday. We’ll probably plan whatever speakers we have and divvy up enough time for 10 or 15 minutes of open mic time, where people can present things quickly, on the fly. That’s what they did in Denmark, and it worked out pretty well.
What is the best way to reach you and get involved with the Dallas Dorkbot?
We have a website, and there is a Google discussion group on the site. People can join the group or email me directly.
If you would like to see what Dorkbot members in other cities have been up to, you can also check out the main site.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
It List: Wednesday
Taxi Fare (Zubar)
The Hope Trust/Lalaland/Deep Snapper (Hailey's): Lalaland qualifies as the first "indie pop" band I've ever heard that features a singer who seems to be directly inspired by the solo work of Phil Collins. But like many bands who are "inspired" by some older band or artist, these dudes don't even come close to approaching the quality of the source material. I'll say it again: these guys aren't even close to being as good as Phil Collins solo. This would be a much more effective dis if I hadn't listened to Collins' "Two Hearts" twice in a row on my ipod the other day. Don't tell anyone. And the Hope Trust is kind of this alt country influenced radio friendly indie pop band that sounds like Wilco during their more predictable moments. How many bands in Texas can you say THAT about? Deep Snapper is the saving grace here for sure.
The Scoop (Fallout Lounge): The Scoop spins a lot of down tempo, jazz infused instrumental hip hop beats. A lot of it is pretty good if you're in the mood for that sort of thing. I also heard them get into some dance stuff at the end of their set a few weeks ago, which was cool until homie had to go and fuck with Michael Jackson via needless scratches. Don't do that. Pretty chill event all around though.
The weird world of Joe Meek
Anyhoo, one of the earliest chapters in the book is dedicated to some English DIY engineer and producer from the late 50's/early 60's named Joe Meek. As I read more about Joe and did a little digging, I soon realized that Mr. Meek has had an enormous influence on the way I hear music today. I was also pretty astounded to find out that this was the first Englishman to write and produce a US number one hit (Telstar). Unfortunately, in the eyes of many, his contributions will be overshadowed by his unstable behavior that led to his suicide in 1967 along with the simultaneous murder of his landlady. In lieu of regurgitating Meek's biography, I have concluded that Meek's mark on pop music is three fold. Joe Meek as..... 1) The first "sonic signature" producer 2) The first popular eccentric producer 3) The first popular ambient music writer and producer. So let's briefly touch on each point and listen to some of this dead dude's shit.
1) The first "sonic signature" producer:
Before Joe Meek most studio engineers in the late 40's and early 50's were ex-military scientists or military engineers. In fact, the military was the only organization in the world to invest significant capital in sound recording technology. At the end of WWII, our country's finest sold a lot of their equipment to the burgeoning pop music industry, and the studios were still run in a military like fashion (They even wore lab coats!). The sole purpose of recording a group at the time was to capture their live sound as accurately as possible, and mathematical formulas were used to determine how to record each instrument. You want to record a saxophone? Then a saxophonist must stand at an exact distance away from the microphone, use a certain type of mic in a certain sized room with a certain preamplifier and so on and so on. This rigid process would be repeated for any instrument; the true definition of "by the book".
2) The fist popular "eccentric" producer:
Apparently Meek was hell to work with. Veteran session musicians who worked with Meek knew to start running when things went wrong, because Meek was prone to throw anything at anyone (including a Tape machine down a spiraling stairwell at a guitarist. Anyone seen "American Psycho"?) After all, he was gay and living in a country where homosexuality was illegal at the time, so I guess that could make any dude a little up-tight. His fascination with the occult led to him mounting tape machines in graveyards in an effort to record voices from other dimensions. At one point he recovered the whines of a cat he swore was a human spirit pleading him for help. Buddy Holly's spirit was also a frequent visitor to Meek's unconscious. Meek adored Holly so much that he chose the 8th anniversary of his death to join him on the other plane. The Beatles massive success and the realization that he had thrown their demos in the trash a few years earlier couldn't have helped his mood, especially as he got older and the Beatles got better. The fact that Meek took the life of his innocent landlady, Violet Shenton, at the same time he took his own, makes his life seem that much more troubled. Phil Spector might as well be Bob Newhart compared to the highly erratic Meek.
3) The first popular ambient music writer and producer:
Okay this might be a stretch, but its hard to imagine after listening to the first two tracks listed here what Brian Eno and similar artists would have become without the world of Joe Meek. He couldn't play a note or read music, and was more fascinated by sounds, texture and space than notes and chords. Meek's heavy use of sound effects were nothing short of astonishing for the time period, and his use of feedback, compression, effects and eclectic instruments fool the listener into thinking he had stolen keyboards from the future. There is no question that early keyboard developers had Meek's sounds at the forefront of their minds during the dawn of the electronic music age.
Let's get to the music and just hear what all this fuss is about. The first two songs listed are the furthest thing from traditional Joe Meek pop song of the early 60's. Both are from a concept album he partially released in 1959. "The Bublight" and "Valley of the Saroos" by The Blue Men are the best representations of both the quantum leaps Meek had taken creatively as a producer and the possibility of ambient music for the future.
The third song listed became the first US number one from an English group, "Telstar" by the Tornadoes. Although all three songs are instrumentals, its worth noting that Meek produced hundreds of pop songs with both male and female singers.
The Bublight by the Blue Men
"Valley of the Saroos" by the Blue Men
"Telstar" by the Tornadoes
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
It List: Tuesday
Monday, April 21, 2008
It List: Monday
Casa De Chihuahua/Paul Slavens (Dan's Silverleaf)
DJ Ash (Hailey's): No cover and early 90's Hip Hop.
Cool Out (The Cavern)
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Monday Morning Rock
SHOWS OF NOTE THIS WEEK
MON: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks/The Joggers (Granada Theater)
WED: Kids in the Hall (Nokia)
THU: Quick Next Big Thing with Polyphonic Spree/Record Hop/PPT/Ghosthustler/The Party (Palladium)
THU: Elf Power/Calhoun/Telegraph Canyon (8.0, Ft. Worth)
THU: Van Halen (American Airlines Center)
FRI: Rush (Superpages.com Center)
FRI: The Party (Zubar)
SAT: Hotflash (Fallout Lounge)
SUN: Yea Big and Kid Static/Sticky Buns/Farah/The Triggermen (Rubber Gloves)
SUN: 97.9 The Beat Concert and Custom Car Show with Ludacris/Bun B/Rocko/Plies (Dallas Covention Center)
(There is a show at House of Tinnitus this week as well, but we're not sure when it will take place, so stay tuned for that.)
Friday, April 18, 2008
Yellow Fever/The Theater Fire/Strange Fruit Project/PPT (Ft. Worth Modern): We talked about this in our Art List this week, and I highly recommend you get there by 7 for Yellow Fever, clearly the best band in this line up.
Concernathon 2008 with Record Hop/Shiny Around the Edges/Bridges and Blinking Lights/White Drugs/Tre Orsi/Jetscreamer/Handbrake/Last Men (Rubber Gloves): This was put together by Department of Concern, a local booking entity run by Heather Yiirs, who formerly booked for Rubber Gloves exclusively. A lot of familiar names in this crowded yet solid lineup, and I want to mention that Record Hop will feature the subversive charms of Martin Ile's video projections during their set.
Jodie Foster's Army/Bark Hard/ANS/Rageous Bros (Red Blood Club): This will be the first Texas show in about a decade for the unfathomably influential skate punk band, with a very strong opening lineup.
Dove Hunter/Sarah Jaffe/Sean Kirkpatrick (Club Dada): New rule-- band URLs on myspace must either be 1) myspace.com/nameofband; 2) myspace.com/nameofbandmusic; or 3)myspace.com/nameofbandband. If you can't do one of those, you lose. I'm talking to you, Dove Hunter and Fight Bite.
Good Records 8th Birthday (Good Records): A free, all day show at the store that runs from 11 in the damn morning to midnight, and usually features free kegs and food and plenty of opportunities to drunkenly buy stuff you can't really afford. I'll probably base my Good Records appearances on the Mavs game: drink some beer before the game, stop by at half time, etc. The line up is quite varied in both styles and quality, but some highlights include Fight Bite, Great Tyrant, Record Hop, Baptist Generals and headliners the Black Angels. You can see the full line up here.
Cat Power/Appaloosa (Palladium): Canceled, boo hoo.
Some Sort of Party (House of Dang): Going from 6 to 930, this thing will feature free drinks and music and all the other stuff that makes HOD parties fun. I don't know exactly what is going on there other than that, but who cares? It's not like you don't go there just to see and be scene. Duh.
Hands up with The Party (The Loft): 18 and up. You can decide whether that is a good thing or not. Guess it depends on how drunk you get.
Dana Falconberry/Matthew and the Arrogant Sea/Man Factory(Swiss House, 3114 Swiss Ave): Five dollar cover and BYOB. Some people were bitching about the cover in one of the comments sections earlier, but honestly, in Dallas, that is a pretty good deal, especially considering that it's turned into a lively after hours spot. Sure, it sucks to have to pay a cover after all the bands are done, and I hope they quit making people do that. But then again, it is a dude's house, so you might have to forgive him for that small error in judgment. Besides, you should get there early enough to see Dana Falconberry anyway, dumbass. I think she goes on around 12.
The Sub Rosa Blog Presents Akkolyte/Warcola/Vorvadoss/Molotov Compromise/Electric Brown (Red Blood Club): A benefit of some kind starting early (around 4pm) and featuring some visual art. Learn more here. Akkolyte and Vorvadoss are two of the best heavy bands in the area, in case you didn't know, and Akkolyte's grind-core set is not to be missed.
Concernathon 2008 with Astronautalis/Mom/History at Our Disposal/Single Frame/Sarah Jaffe/Gazelles/Raised By Tigers/Tame...Tame and Quiet/Florene/Grassfight (Rubber Gloves): Second night of the event featuring a much more laid back and restrained lineup, save for Astronautilus, which generally means a lot more effects pedals on-stage. Watch your step!
Violent Squid/Zanzibar Snails/Mad Scientists/Drak Nastula and Cuddle Puddle/Delmore Pilcrow/Heartstring Stranglers/Mauve X(Hailey's): This show has something to do with aliens or something, and starts early at 7pm.
The Triggermen/Brent Best/Starhead/Will E Lee/Ryan Thomas Becker(Strawberry Fields): Starts at 7.
Negativland (Sons of Hermann Hall): Check out our interview with Negativland below. I can't think of a better show for 4/20 than this one, especially considering that they will be playing entirely unique and new material as well as doing some improv. Show starts at 8pm, and you can pick up advance tickets at Good Records if you wanna.
New York Dolls/American Fuse (The Granada): It's kind of strange to me that the New York Dolls are playing in Dallas some 30 years after their peak. It's also kind of strange to me to imagine them without guitarist Johnny Thunders. But whatever. Out of all the old "legendary" bands that seem so reunite every year, the gender confused, glam influenced proto-punk New York Dolls seem more likely than most to come off as a wonderful trainwreck, even if it is a trainwreck all the same. Seeing these dudes in tight pants and stuff? Not cool.
Could you tell me the story of how the original Negativland trio got together?
Well one thing I should mention is that I'm one of the founding members of the group, but I'm not the leader or the spokesperson or anything like that. We've been around for a long time. We got together in 1979 and our first record came out in 1980 when I was still in high school. I met the core members of Negativland at an after school job in high school calling people on the phone asking them questions about their favorite tv shows, so it was an appropriate starting place. We were just really interested in unusual music and strange noises and didn't know a whole lot about the history of avant garde music and collage and cut up and appropriation. But there was something we wanted to hear that we couldn't find out there in the world. We were living in the suburbs so we were fairly isolated culturally, but we just started mixing things together. We liked the sound of taking instruments and synthesizers and plugging them in the "wrong" way and seeing what happened. And we also liked taking things from the world around us and mixing it in, and the world around us, since we were growing up middle class west coast white suburban kids, was the t.v. set and sounds of the neighborhood and the radio. And of course, there were five or six channels and that was about it. We mixed all that stuff in the music, and we just loved the sound of taking things out of one context and repurposing it in another context. We weren't trying to make a statement about the world or media or anything political, we just thought it sounded really cool and interesting and different. Ironically, to us, what sounded new was using something old, but in a new way.
When you first got together, was the band primarily interested in making music and writing songs, or did you focus more on creating some kind of conceptual sound art?
Kinda somewhere in the middle, I know some of these questions if you asked another member of Negativland you would get different answers, but I always liked that spot where the avant garde is getting appropriated into popular culture, because there is a funny little edge there. For us, we were always trying to take these more experimental approaches and conceptual approaches to sound and mix them in with a pop culture sensibility. So we were making little songs. From the first record, there are little weird, messed up songs that are on there, scattered throughout the work.
It sounds like you were just as influenced by non musical ideas and things around you as you were by music.
Sure, I would say that we were very influenced by things like listening to Pink Floyd records and listening to Monty Python or the Fireside Theater. I know I was probably very influenced by stuff the Beatles were doing. Tubular Bells was influential too because it was this continuous piece of music we really liked, and our first record, which came out on vinyl, has lots of tracks on each side, but there is no track points in between, it just plays as one continuous thing all the way through. I remember when I heard Tubular Bells, not only was I excited and inspired by the music, but it was done by a kid who was 19 years old, and he played all the instruments by himself. These days, this is a very easy thing. You can have your own little lap top studio and do production on an inexpensive bunch of equipment that you would have needed thousands and thousands of dollars to get back then. So back then, it was super inspiring to find out that some kid did it, and I was only a few years younger. I was working on the first Negativland record when I was 17, and it came out when I was 18. Of course, if you asked someone else in the group, you would get a different set of answers, but something like David Lynch's Eraserhead was influential too, stuff where you had a sense of whole different worlds that had complete logic and concepts behind them. We didn't want to imitate any of this stuff, we wanted to make something that was unlike anything we'd ever heard. I've always been puzzled by people that start bands and want to sound like their favorite band. It's like "your favorite bands are already doing that thing really really well, why would you want to copy it?" Seems kind of ridiculous to me, but that's just me.
Do you think the music you make should or can be judged or assessed using any of the same criteria that people use to assess pop or rock music? Is it fair to do so? Or does it require a different mindset and criteria to understand?
That's an interesting question because the answer to that has changed. What's happened is that, all the way up until the late 90s, you really had to have a very open mind to hear our music and wrap your head around it and be able to follow and understand it, because it didn't really fit a lot of people's ideas of what music is and what makes a piece of music. But what has changed is that because of computers, and the ease with which people can download and appropriate and mash up because of Youtube and Napster, etc., it has become so common now for people to do collage type work. I think a very normal teenager can be playing around on their computer and be making what can really be called some kind of avant garde tape collage thing, because they've heard this stuff and want to try it. So now, I think the answer is that it is much easier for people to hear what we do and get their head around it and say "sure, this is music, I get it." And it also means that we're no longer on any cutting edge at all with what we're doing. If you look at the definition of what avant garde even means, we're not it, because these techniques have been so popularized and spread everywhere. It's really fascinating.
And your average listener is exposed to so much more music, not only is it easier to make any kind of music you want, but it's a lot easier to hear any kind of music you want.
Exactly, that is the other important point. If you're just poking around on Myspace band pages, it is only one click away for you to hear something that 20 years ago you only would have encountered if you had one cool record store in your town, or one great radio station that played it, but if you didn't have that near you, then forget it. Now, the amount of things and different ideas that people are exposed to in politics, art, culture, music and film, everything, is fascinating. It's a whole different world.
You guys started off playing and recording a lot of your material on the San Francisco radio show Over the Edge. Did you find this format or medium to be particularly beneficial to you in some way? Because there aren't a lot of bands that get to go on the air regularly and try new stuff.
Yes, it was an enormously important laboratory for us to play around in and try out ideas and develop what we were doing. I think it was more important than we even realized. We met a guy named Don Joyce who has been part of the group since 81. He had a radio show called Over the Edge, and he played records one after another just like a normal DJ, and we had lunch with him and started talking about what else you could do on the air, and Don was interested in trying new things, and we thought about coming in and using all the different stuff in the studio. And back then, 27 years ago, there were all kinds of reel to reel tape decks and mixers and cassette decks and we could bring all of our own gear and plug it into the board. So we wondered what would happen if we approached the radio station like we make our records in our home studio. We started putting callers on the air right away, and the callers could do anything they wanted, make noise, make sounds, play tapes, say stupid stuff, and add to our mix and interact with us on the air, and we immediately started developing characters and all these different universes. At first, we did totally random mixing, but within months, we realized that we wanted something more coherent, so we would say "ok, this week, the theme is all about war, or fire, or money or holes or dirt or flying," you could pick any subject, really, and bring in all the material we had and stuff we had collected And once it was over, everything we used in the show would be archived, all the raw bits. So when it came to our studio recordings, we had this library of material that we could dip into. It's this enormous amount of really good stuff we have, and I can't really think of any other group who had that kind of situation where they could develop so much material.
Right now, the show we are bringing to Dallas is taking the radio show Over the Edge and putting it live on stage, taking some shows we did on Over the Edge that we felt contained some really powerful, good material, and stuff that had potential to work in a performance situation. So we took hours and hours of radio on one subject and narrowed it down to a two hour long best of the best of bits that we could put together in collage form on stage, and it's called It's All in Your Head FM, and it's like we're a radio network broadcasting all the time, and the network is devoted to talking about God and faiths and why the idea of believing in one single God is probably a bad idea. It's causing us a lot of problems, when we have a President who thinks God tells him what to do fighting against terrorists who think God tells them what to do.
And you guy don't play live very often right?
Well we don't tour very often, and we've never ever played in Dallas. The last time we toured the country was in 2000, so if anyone has any interest in Negativland, we don't come to your town every year. The chances that we'll come back, I don't know, maybe it'll never happen because it's just so rare that we play live. The show we are doing is unique, too, certainly. We aren't performing things from the records. Whenever we play live, we create live shows from scratch that are intended to be performed on stage, so we're trying to make it a completely unique experience for people in the audience.
Could you tell me the story of "Christianity is Stupid" and the infamous press release that came along with it?
The track is based around a recording of a preacher saying "Christianity is stupid, communism is good, give up," and the recording is taken out of context, the preacher was actually talking about Communists taking over the country and brainwashing us and putting us all in concentration camps, and the record came out in the early 70s. We found this record in a thrift store and thought it would be something really inspiring to build a piece around. And that's another point about our work-- we get inspired by what we find. We don't pick a subject and go look for material that fits the subject, for us that is backwards. We find material and build around it. It isn't always what people are saying on a tape but how they are saying it, the quality of their voice and the way they say it. "Christianity is Stupid" is a classic example where it's not just what he said, but the guy had this really great voice, this very musical way of saying the phrases, and we immediately could hear him as the vocalist in the song. This was in 1987, we made this a long time ago, and back then it was a pretty unusual thing to do in a piece of music, and it certainly caught some attention and got a lot of play on college radio. Anyway, we were going to tour the US. We were hoping to break even on the tour, we were all going to take time off from our jobs to go do this, but it quickly became apparent that the tour was going to lose a lot of money, and just out of boredom, one of the members of our group, sitting at his all night security guard job, saw an article about a boy in Rochester, Minnesota who chopped up his mother, father, brother and sister with an ax in the middle of the night, a teenage boy. And Richard Lyons, who is another founder of Negativland, has a really black, dark, kind of fucked up sense of humor, and he wrote this fake press release that said "For immediate release, Negativland has been asked to cancel their long planned 17 city tour pending an investigation in connection between the quadruple ax murder in Rochester, Minnesota and their song 'Christianity is Stupid." And we thought this was kind of sick but funny, and we wondered what would happen if we put this out as a real press release, because the real reason we were canceling the tour was very boring, for financial reasons. So we did, we put out this press release. These days you couldn't get away with it because people would be able to check their facts really fast on the internet, but back then, the story really took off, and we ended up being in a local arts and culture magazine, which led us to getting on a CBS news affiliate, which led to us being in the San Francisco Chronicle, and then Village Voice wrote about it, and then we ended up on NPR. So this hoax story got bigger and bigger, much to our shock because we thought it was easy to figure out that we were lying. But it turns out that the news media relies a lot on other news media for it's reporting, a lot of what you see on the news is just stories taken from other stories, it's like a hall of mirrors, and trying to get any truth is almost impossible. So the story got pretty huge, and it was finally when we got on NPR that we revealed we were lying. We ended up deciding to make a record documenting the whole thing called Helter Stupid. The funny thing is that if you find this online, the liner notes explain all the context and set it up the way I have, but if you just download it, you'll never know.
I was going to ask about the big controversy with U2, and I kind of wanted to get your take on it.
(sarcastically) Oh, we're all good friends now, and we all like to vacation on the same islands, and it's a real relaxed situation with those guys now, no more trouble.
Well I was going to ask you about the nature of copyright law, because at the time, the law was used against you guys, and I wonder if you think that certain aspects of copyright law inhibit artistic creativity generally, even though it was created to protect it?
When copyright law first came into being, copyright was granted for only 14 years. Now, copyright is granted for the life of the creator plus seventy years. When it began, it didn't occur to anyone to make it as long as it is now, so copyright used to expire during the life of the creator. When I first learned that I was kind of shocked. Think about it, JD Sallinger wrote Catcher in the Rye, and the guy really never gave us another book, and it's considered one of the greatest books ever written. If his copyright had expired in 14 years, I wonder if we would have been given a little more incentive to write more books. Negativland doesn't think that the idea of copyright is a terrible idea, the notion of it is fine. It's the way it has been applied and pushed and morphed and mangled that is the problem. And it's really all for the corporate interest. Corporations are these immortal creatures that are legally seen as being persons, unfortunately, and they are legally seen as having free speech, which is terrible for our democratic process in this country. It is what has destroyed our democracy really. You can't punish a corporation by sending it to jail or giving it the death penalty, so corporations enjoy all the privileges and perks of free speech and none of the responsibilities. And because corporations can last forever, there is no time when, say, Disney, is going to allow Mickey Mouse into the public domain. Of course, this makes perfect sense given their view. So I think what needs to be seen is that copyright shouldn't be extended that long, and also the whole notion of what constitutes fair use of a copyright, which permits you to use someone else's copyrighted work in your own work, needs to be expanded, I think, to allow things like what we do to be legal. We consider what we do to be fair use, but many other people think it might be illegal, which is why we are always told to do things ourselves, like running our own record label. Because we're kind of a legal nightmare.
Negativland plays this sunday the 20th at Sons of Hermann Hall
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Modern 'till Midnight (the Modern)
This is one of my favorite events in DFW, hands down. This Friday will feature the opening of artist Kehinde Wiley's portraits and the continuing exhibit of Martin Puryear's sculptures. It will run 'ya $15 for admission, and it starts at 6pm. Don't pull a Stonedranger and get there an hour and a half late- you'll miss WSJR favorites Yellow Fever. The lineup is as follows:
7 pm – Yellow Fever
8 pm – The Theater Fire
9:15 pm – Trimble Tech High School marching band
10 pm – PPT
11 pm – Strange Fruit Project
Ed Blackburn and Brian Belott (And/Or) 6-9pm
If the always excellent openings at And/Or aren't enough to get your ass out there, then go for the concurrent party at House of Dang. They are unveiling their new "giant party yard" that will soon feature movie screenings and assorted debauchery. Artist Brian Belott will also be performing at 8pm.
Danny Williams (Barry Whistler) 6-9pm
Danny Williams is returning to Texas after two years in France with 60 drawings in tow.
Dallas Art Dealer's Association Gallery Walk 2-8pm
32 Dallas galleries are involved in this event, which includes a "Chat and Chew" lecture panel from 10:30 to 2pm at the MAC. I could list all of the galleries, but frankly I'm lazy and the DADA website has a guide complete with a map. Also, everything is free, except for the panel discussion.
U-Haul Show (PDNB)2-8pm
Part of the gallery walk, UNT students will be displaying some of their work in two U-Haul trucks.
False Space and Time in the Apartment (Centraltrak) 6-9pm
The first show at UTD's new artist residency space on Exposition.
It List: Thursday
Nick Lowe/Ron Sexsmith (Sons Of Hermann Hall): Two veteran songwriters at the Sons tonight, with the kind of ticket price that will make you pay for "experience." Both are respectable enough, however, and "Cruel To Be Kind" is one of my mom's all time faves.
Ministry / Meshuggah/Hemlock Palladium: For as long as I can remember, I have never liked Ministry. Not the syrupy synth early years, not the industrial pop, and certainly not whatever you call their current music. They have had some respectable collaborators, some great drummers etc. but there is something about it. I'm still waiting to find out I've been missing the boat on this for decades, and I'm willing to give it one more chance. Help me out?
Lost Generation (Fallout Lounge): Wanz will be playing an extended version of his Blixaboy performance from last night's Dub Assembly.
Admiral David V./Mauve X/Will E. Lee/Charles Marley (Rubber Gloves): Mostly singer-songwriters here, but this is a much more rough-around-the-edges gang of artists than that title would have you believe and the night should be all the better for it. I'm hoping that Will E. Lee plays something off of his long in the making punk concept album under the name Psychic Rattlers, a band that finds Lee fronting 2/3 of Burnt Sienna Trio as his rhythm section. The new music on that page are an intriguing glimpse into another aspect of Lee as a songwriter, particularly on tracks like "Gila Monster." Looking forward to a proper release.
Dimitri From Paris (Ghostbar): French House pioneer that received the honor of "Knight Of Letters and Arts" from the French government. Man, you can really get away with murder in Europe.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
It List: Wednesday
Taxi Fare (Zubar)
Dub Assembly with Mundo/Wanz Dover/Dragon Man/Soy Capaz/Royal Highnuss/Abso!ute (The Boiler Room): I wonder how this will do in Denton compared to the solid turnouts they've had in Dallas lately. Watch out for the Boiler Room's Karaoke DJ. He is not playing games with you, do I make myself clear? You're done. One more song and you're done.
Feist/Hayden (Palladium Ballroom): Okay, so I'm not going to say anything bad about Feist. Even people with shitty taste make fun of her, so I'm going to let her off the hook. Besides, I like Yael Naim. But what's going on with the opening act, Hayden? I remember this improbably dull video from 120 Minutes circa '95 with him just mowing the lawn and shit. Remember when Indie Rock was "understated" and "subtle?" Really awful times. While we're on this topic, does anyone remember Sammy? There is nothing more obscure than failed major label rock oddities.
ADD: Big J and Sober will be spinning for free at Pastime Tavern tonight, located at 1503 E. Ervay. It's free, y'all.
Aretha Franklin (Nokia): Great URL.
The Spectacle/A Vivid Horror (The Door)
Ella Minnow/RTB2/Siberian/Here, In Arms (Hailey's)
Mavs Afterparty (Kenichi):
Hosted by Josh Howard. Here's hoping there will be something to celebrate.