Monday, June 30, 2008

It List: Monday

No Age (Good Records): Starts at 6pm and free. Apparently, dudes didn't show up to their last Good Records in-store, but I've been assured that they will be present and on time this trip.

No Age/Abe Vigoda/Infinite Body (Palladium Loft): I was a bit worried when I heard that this show was going to be in the ballroom, but now that it has been moved upstairs to the more appropriately sized Loft, things are looking good. No Age is another one of those hot button bands at WSJR HQ... some of us really like them while others dismiss them as overhyped and completely uninteresting. I'm in the former camp, even though I can certainly understand the skepticism surrounding a fashionable LA band signed to Sub Pop that mixes ambient/shoegaze with pop punk. It's just that their best songs are so good-- "Cappo" off of the new one and "Boy Void" off of Weirdo Rippers being the best examples. The second coming of punk rock? Probably not, but certainly one of the more interesting bands singed to a major indie like Sub Pop these days. Abe Vigoda is a buzzworthy Southern California post-punk influenced group that rocks quite a bit more consistently than No Age-- they remind me of all kinds of stiff, dry English stuff from the late 70's, and all of it is good. Show up early to see what I mean. Infinite Body sounded very interesting as well in the short time I had to listen to them.

Cool Out (The Cavern)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Monday Morning Rock




SHOWS OF NOTE THIS WEEK

MON:No Age/Abe Vigoda/Infinte Body (Palladium)
THU:Richard and Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls (Granada)
THU:Fleet Foxes (the Loft)
FRI:Stay Cool Swag School (Rubber Gloves)
FRI:RTX/Imaad Wasif with Two Part Beast/Bob White and the F Electrics (Hailey's)
SAT:Ulrich Schnauss/A Shoreline Dream/Soundpool/Experimental Aircraft (Hailey's

Friday, June 27, 2008

Weekender

Sorry best friends, but we're going to be a little short today. You know what its like when you're trying your best to continue your complete domination of the Dallas music scene and then your boss dumps a bunch of work on your desk at 3pm on a Friday afternoon and you don't have time to write your totally sweet blog anymore? Of course you don't, you aren't me. But I'll tell you something-- it sucks. Bad. Shows:

FRIDAY

Boris/Torche/Clouds (Rubber Gloves): We have a sweet interview with Japanese psyche/metal/drone group Boris down below (Or maybe on the next page), and Hydra Head's Torche bring their surprisingly appealing stadium sized stoner riffs to Rubber Gloves in order to provide a convincing argument to show up early and drink more. I hate to be a pussy or whatever but I hope this show isn't as hot as I'm afraid it's going to be. Boris comes to DFWD like, uh, never, so this is must see if you care.

The Party Second Year Anniversary (Zubar): I don't even know what else we can say about all the local and regional success that the Party has enjoyed over the past two years. Tonight is the two year anniversary of the Party's Zubar monthly, celebrating the genre-bending eclecticism of their sets and the slick collective fashion sense of their biggest fans, many of whom attend pretty much every Party affiliated event that takes place anywhere in town. They'll be doing it up right for this one, as local producer Picnic (formerly of PPT) will host a "red carpet" affair that will certainly be filled to capacity fairly early on in the night. I would get there early and wear as little as possible.

Shearwater/Kadane Brothers/Theater Fire (Lola's): Shearwater seems to have received nearly universal praise for their latest album, Rook, and they will be joined by some great company-- The Kadane Brothers, formerly of Bedhead and currently of the New Year, will be playing their first of two area shows this weekend, and the Theater Fire will likely be playing material from their forthcoming second album.

Denton Pop Fest with Matthew and the Arrogant Sea/Florene/Talking Tiger Mountain/Verulf/Doyen/RTB2/Heartstring Stranglers/Peace Corpse/Scene Girls (J&Js): One of the many, uh, "festivals" that these Denton acts have thrown in the basement of a pizza place over the past year. And despite the fact that it is a little difficult to have a festival inside a place that closes at midnight, the highlights here are pretty strong. I'm especially interested in hearing Talking Tiger Mountain, since you'd have to be a pretty big jerk to name your band that. And I like jerks.

ADD: Shearwater/Will Johnson In Store (Free, Good Records): Shearwater starts at 6pm (Half an hour from now), and Will Johnson goes on right after.

Dove Hunter/History at Our Disposal (Dan's Silverleaf)


SATURDAY

Blixaboy/Schwa/Royal Highnuss (Fallout Lounge): BLixaboy, aka Wanz Dover, will be doing a set of original songs and re-mixes. Ge there early for Royal Highnuss unless you're dumb.

Fuck Yeah Fest with Matt and Kim/The Death Set/Team Robespierre/Brothers Reade (1919 Hemphill): The highest profile show 1919 Hemphill has had in some time. DL and I totally LOL'd the other day when we noticed in a really old post that the Death Set opened for Best Fwends and Undoing of David Wright back at 8th Continent back in early 06. Death Set have received a ton of positive press this year for their 90's pop punk meets avant mallrat power pop meets Wham City electronica sound, and their most recent single, "Negative Thinking," has received quite a bit of college radio play as well. They are kind of a point of contention around WSJR HQ, as their peppy little tunes certainly aren't for everyone. I dig em though.

Cetromatic/Kadane Brothers/The Theater Fire (Granada): Your second chance to check the Kadane Bros. this weekend with another solid headliner.

Lymbyc Systym/Her Space Holiday/Florene (Good Records, FREE): starts at 5pm.

SUNDAY

Stone Temple Pilots/Black Francis (Nokia): There was a time in my early teenage years when I honestly thought STP was the best band on the planet. It's been so long since those days that I can now tell people about it and get a smile because it ends up being a cute little joke. The unfunny thing is that these shitbags are still making music and touring. How many Chinese character tattoos does one really need to buy?

Rogue State/Dohrn/Healers/Hoop Dreamz/Trifle Tower (1919 Hemphill)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It List: Thursday


A short list featuring mostly half-hearted recommendations. This is more informational than persuasive.

What Made Milwaukee Famous/A.M. Ramblers/Three Fantastic (The Cavern): What Made Milwaukee Famous is what made The Gypsy Tea Room suck the one time I saw them.

The Dutch Treats/Stag Film/The Hack And Slashers (Double Wide): The Hack and Slashers features Alex Atchley along with many dorky RPG-related references in their music. I can't tell if it's a joke, a half-joke, or dead serious, but it's frightening in any case.

Kinky Friedman/Fromholz (Dan's Silverleaf): Remember when this dude convinced all of you that being a Republican was hip and sexy?

80's Night With DJ G (Hailey's)

Art List

I'm going to start this post with an apology. I've been horrible at mixing up my dates lately, posting the Summer Smackdown movie night too early and leaving the Marty Walker opening off of the list last week. I'm going to start a "Check Out" section where I will include a few ongoing or closing gallery showings and museum exhibitions. This section is not meant to be comprehensive, just a sampling of some favorites and reminders of openings you (or I) may have missed. I promise you that I will strive to become a more thorough and comprehensive fake journalist sidekick. Now on to the list.

THURSDAY

Ech-o Panel Discussion (Centraltrak) 7pm

Summer Smackdown Movie Night (4129 Bryan St)
Okay, it is for real today. They're showing Teen Witch, and get ready for the Most Popular Girl Contest.

FRIDAY

Academia: Pushing the Boundary (the MAC)

Michael Ledoux and Shane Pennington (HCG Gallery)

SATURDAY

Pathway Deluge (Mighty Fine Arts)

CHECK OUT

Group Hug (Marty Walker)
Featuring work from gallery artists Frances Bagley, Douglas Leon Cartmel, Ted Kincaid, Tom Orr, Matthew Porter, Susie Rosmarin, Jay Shinn, and four new artists to the gallery roster: Archie Scott Gobber, William Lamson, Marc Lüders, and Pard Morrison.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster (Goss-Michael)

Cory Arcangel, Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied (And/Or)

El Franco Lee II (Angstrom)

Photo courtesy of Marty Walker

Free Shearwater and Kadane Brothers Tickets

Want to see Shearwater, the Kadane Brothers and The Theater Fire at Lola's in Ft. Worth on Friday? We have a pair of tickets to give away, and you know what to do if you want them. Email weshotjrtix@yahoo.com by 5pm today for your chance to win.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It List: Wednesday

Detour with Black Tie Dynasty/Schwa/Sally Glass downstairs and Dance Your Face Off upstairs (The Cavern): I was officially sick of making fun of Black Tie Dynasty several months ago. I mean, it's clear that these dudes don't really have a shot at "making it" anymore now that ripping off Interpol rip offs is no longer cool with 14 year olds. Right? Oh well. Maybe we should let them die peacefully. Anyway, for those who didn't know, Detour is a new arts/music monthly at the Cavern that will feature art work, DJs, and live bands. They made the unfortunate choice of BTD as a headliner this time (although the fact that it is an acoustic set will make it a bit easier to ignore), but they also made the wise choice of Schwa as the DJ and our friend Sally Glass as the featured artist. As anyone perched atop a tower at a SXSW house party will tell you, she's like the most amazing photographer in the fucking world and shit.... ha ha, you don't get the WSJR inside joke. Anyway, she'll be selling some of her photos at the show, and even if you don't believe me when I tell you that they're good, you can rest assured that you'll see some people you want to see at this thing, because Sally is kinda a big deal in Dallas right now. Believe it.

Ghost Pizza with It's What We Get/Yeahdef/Young Doc Gooden (Hailey's): Diverse group of DJs playing tonight, ranging from Doc Gooden's chopped and screwed dirty hip hop to disco/house sets from Its What We Get. Solid.

The Scoop (Fallout Lounge): Lots of downtempo and breakbeat and jazz influenced stuff. Pretty low key if that is what you're looking for this evening.

Free Boris Tickets

Duh... we have a pair of Boris tickets for their upcoming show this Friday at Rubber Gloves, and we plan to give them away to one lucky reader. Email weshotjrtix@yahoo.com any time between now and tomorrow (THU) at Noon if you want your chance to win-- we will select a winner randomly. Please make "Boris" the email subject and include your full name in the body. Good luck best friends!

Album Review: Lil Wil- Dolla$, TX

(By That One Guy)

In the rap world, there seems to be two distinct paths an artist can take when recording a debut full length album following a regional hit single that breaks nationwide. I’ll call these the Rich Boy Route and the Soulja Boy Route, using two recent examples from the South. After the mega success of “Throw Some D’s,” Rich Boy released a debut album on which his hit stood out as something of an anomaly compared to the harder, more serious-minded fare of the rest of the album. Soulja Boy, on the other hand, followed up “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” with a debut album full of formulaic rehashes of his hit single, dooming himself to being seen as a “one hit wonder" despite the fact that the record produced several more hits.

So, the question becomes, which path has Lil Wil chosen after his “My Dougie” has become perhaps the biggest rap single Dallas has ever produced? Is Dolla$, TX a bid for critical respect that refutes the easily digested poppiness of his big hit, or is it a bit of a pander to an audience he fears losing as quickly as he won it? Although the bosses at Asylum Records might not like it, I’m glad to say that Lil Wil has followed his single success with, for the most part, a trip down the Rich Boy Route-- a debut full length that eschews the easy cash-in of a “Dougie Girl” or some other ill-fated attempt to start another dance craze in favor of a statement from and for the streets that positions him as a strong contender for longevity rather than a flash in the pan.

Setting the record off with a bang, the title track and “Money On My Mind” both find Lil Wil rapping a metroplex-referencing “Get Money, Fuck Everything Else” statement of intent over a beat that I would venture to include in the “Can’t really describe it but I know it when I hear it” Dallas sound built around stabbing synths and rolling drums-- both tracks stand out as two of the album’s strongest. “Move It” follows as the obligatory rap album “track for the ladies," saving an eye-rolling hook from Lil Wil (“First I hit you with the Dougie, Now my pockets gettin’ chubby”) with a backing track tailor made for skating rinks and a celebratory Akon-esque vocal hook from Papa Reu. Why it hasn’t been pegged as the follow-up single is a mystery to me. “Move It” is also the first taste of the interesting Caribbean influence Wil’s Rude Bwoy Entertainment partner Rude weaves through the album, most explicitly on “Straight Up” and “Thug Thang,” where his dancehall-style vocals are prominently featured.

After a pointless drug selling skit, Dolla$, TX hits another strong but oddly paced run of tracks starting with the paranoia of “Look At What The World Made Me,” which, along with the later track “Focused,” stand as Wil’s biggest argument for “serious artist” consideration, as well as the biggest backup for his recent assertion that he is “more T.I., than Souljah Boy.” Sadly, this is followed by “Stacks On Deck,” which, despite being a good strip club tune with a fun T-Pain-sans-autotuner turn from Deonte, sounds really off sitting next to the hard luck tales of its predecessor. Next up, the song that made it all possible, “My Dougie,” swaggers through still sounding great after a million spins while providing a perfect lead in to the “dressing up for the club” designer name checking of “Grown Man.”

Of the last few tracks on the album, “Bust It Open” makes the biggest impression. Described as Lil Wil’s second hit by Asylum’s marketing department, it is hard to imagine a track based around the phrase “Bust that pussy open, then I tell her bring it back” having a wide crossover appeal, regardless of the contagious beat provided by Liqwid Entertainment’s Big E (who also provided the beat for “My Dougie”). The aforementioned “Focused” and “I Feel Like” bring the record to a mellow conclusion before giving way to a bonus remix of “My Dougie.”

All in all, the album proves that Lil Wil is capable of getting out from under the shadow of a leftfield hit and creating a lane for himself and the Dallas hip hop scene that should last past the next YouTube video dance craze. Old heads may grumble and true schoolers may mourn, but if artists like Lil Wil have any say in the matter, Dallas Got Next.

(3 of 5)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It List: Tuesday


Don't really have time to say much today. Let us know what you think of our Tom Waits preview from last night, I'm kind of in the dark about what the general consensus is.

Islands/Awol One/Crayonsmith (Granada): I don't know what else we can say about Islands. They have a big MTV logo on their Myspace page, so I guess that's cool or at least a sure sign of success. Awol One is a label-mate of Islands, has worked with Kool Keith, and is also part of the hip hop group, Shapeshifters. Some of the backing tracks sound pretty decent, but I didn't have enough time to form a decent opinion of the rhyming. Crayonsmith is an indie pop group from Dublin.

La Dispute/Broadcast Sea/Spark Is The Diamond/Pools/Jubilee/Daniel Rice (1919 Hemphill): I'm glad to see the Observer has taken a profound interest in 1919 Hemphill shows of late. Even though it's annoyingly transparent, it's ultimately a good thing if it helps keep the lights on.

Disqo Disco (Fallout Lounge)

Styx/Boston (Nokia): A woman once shared a story with me about a stripper she knew that would dance almost exclusively to "Mr. Roboto" when she performed. I've never quite figured out if that made me feel more sorry for the dancer or for Styx, who surely took this little rock opera atrocity seriously.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It List: Monday

Tom Waits (Palladium): Tom Waits is coming to Dallas tonight and it's yet another obvious and classic example of an artist whose record sales do not necessarily reflect his actual cultural impact, judging by the wide spectrum of people that have been freaking out. I've never seen so many of my friends gladly pay 102 dollars (!) for anything. Not vintage wine, not Air Jordans, not stupid video games, not delay pedals, and not even a rare record that I can only assume does not have his music on it. I would hope that nobody would ever pay over a hundred dollars for anything released on Anti, aka Aging Rock Critic Music 101. Good taste prevents me from typing what I said out loud to a buddy after he excitedly told me how much he paid for his ticket, as if Mr. Waits and The Palladium ballroom were doing him a favor. And that's along the lines of what I said he should do at that price-- personally perform an enthusiastic and intimate sexual favor for everyone in attendance. I mean, who is this guy? The Eagles? Oh, wait. They were one of the first in a very long line of awful artists to cover his music.

Speaking of covering his music, people have been equally freaked over, albeit with an almost universal negativity, actor Scarlett Johansson's new Waits cover album, "Anywhere I Lay My Head." This record has been trashed by critics, but really it was dismissed long before it came out. I get it: an a-list actor's crossover into music is offensively smug, since she chose one of the last sacred characters of American Popular music. I just thought I'd take a minute to inject some sense into this blanket dismissal, as well as some good old fashioned devil's advocacy, and of course, the underlying and unspoken truth that these versions might be better than the Waits originals. We'll work up with some background, factoids and a little compare and contrast. This is my gift to all my favorite annoying Waits-heads, friends and family included, in the form of a special extended It List. You'll love it...

Waits, as an Artist

Waits is a good songwriter. I usually hate the "good songwriter" argument, the one I had heard countless times applied to Dylan and Neil Young by ignorant blowhard customers as they chatted with one another in the years I spent as a record store clerk. The argument is that yes, they are good songwriters, but suffer from the paradoxical affliction of interpreting their own work worse than anyone else in the world. The opposite is usually true and the work of all three men has been watered down by many a lesser artist, the end result inevitably choked with enough studio glitter to irritate your eyes and especially your ears. But at a certain point in Waits' career, his cartoonish over-singing sapped some of his authenticity, increasing the odds that others would be able to interpret his work to sometimes better effect.

He was kind of a lounge music joker before he met Kathleen Brennan, who hipped him to Beefheart, a true visionary that he's often compared to despite the fact that he somehow failed to recognize Beefheart, even though they shared the same manager for a time. But Beefheart was begotten not made, a true American orginal that came out swinging right out of the gates and onto his debut platter. He didn't have to build up to his strange atonal approach from some cheap nightclub act that borders on stand-up comedy.

Who Better?

Everyone has been up in arms about the sacrilege of this concept, as in "How dare Scarlett Johansson record these neo-standards by one of our greatest living treasures?." Examining the ways in which the work of Ann Margaret, Diana Dors and Eartha Kitt has been lionized not only as something other than kitsch but as some sort of previously unheralded genius might be a good way to evaluate how this project will age. Who would you rather do Waits covers? Until recently, it was quite a few ne'er-do-wells and credibility starved fools that had tried their hand at what is classically melodic yet lyrically treacherous material, which often puts extra pressure on the artist to breathe authenticity into this heartbroken hobo schtick. So who are we to believe has done this with any success in the past? The aforementioned Eagles? Springsteen? How about Rod Stewart's version of "Downtown Train?" Never really bought it. And as far as Waits himself directly participating in the recording sessions of those he has inspired, the man himself collaborated with Primus. Would any super-fans like to try to defend that? Scarlett Johansson would never collaborate with Primus, so she is much cooler than Tom Waits at least in that respect.

It is also worth mentioning The Ramones owe their last great moment to Tom Waits, and I owe it to them for forcing me to reconsider his work. I was introduced to Waits in my early teens by my family, specifically my uncle and father who tried to tell me how "weird" he was. Looking at a scuffed up cassette copy of "Big Time," I almost believed them. Then I heard some faux scatting and put the tape away for awhile. But the Ramones cover of "I Don't Want To Grow Up" is by far the best song on Adios Amigos, their last studio album.

Actor Versus Actor

If you want to compare the two as actors, consider that both have played piano players on film. But Scarlett is actually acting. In the Coen brothers severely overlooked "The Man Who Wasn't There," she brilliantly plays a painfully mediocre teenage musician, and you really suffer with her after a failed audition. Waits usually just winks his way through scenes with all the subtlety and self referential aplomb of an organ grinder and his monkey. He has starred in celebrated features by Jarmusch, Coppola, and Altman, but his acting credits also include "trombone player" or "drunken bar owner," neither of which is really much of a stretch.

Ulitmately, this is comparison is close to a tie since Johansson was in "Eight Legged Freaks," while Waits appeared in "Mystery Men." Waits' music is still his best possible contribution to any film, particularly the last segment in 1995's "Smoke," where "Innocent When You Dream" plays softly in the background and well into the credits. But Scarlett has starred in increasingly worse vehicles since "Ghost World," so maybe a superior version of one of his songs will end a Sony Pictures Classic in the near future, or maybe an updated documentary about Waits using only her music will emerge. I would enjoy that.

Johansson's Ultimate Triumph

It is not inconceivable that someone could like this album more than the originals. At its best, this record sounds like This Mortal Coil, and there are traces of that project's same haunting cover version revisionism since it was actually sequenced by T.M.C. mastermind, Ivo-Watts Russell. Even more impressive is the fairly decent production and guitar work, respectively by people from TV On The Radio and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, two groups who I don't not necessarily enjoy. In fact, that might be the larger miracle here-- an actor, a songwriter, a guitarist, and a producer, none of whom I consider truly great, got together to produce an end result is actually good or much closer to great than would be expected. This record had every reason in the world to suck, nothing at all going for it, and yet... it does not suck. Compare Johansson's album to her actor/musician contemporaries: Jared Leto? Juliette Lewis? Jason Schwartzman? No thanks.

Upon first hearing of this project, Waits diplomatically made the point that a singer must make the song his or her own. Johansson has certainly done that and that's why this impossibly risky project succeeds. In an earlier recording, she competently attempts Gershwin's "Summertime" to merely mixed results since she tries to go for the predictably slow, sultry interpretations of countless accomplished singers of decades past. Had she given it the frosty, post-coma performance technique utilized so well on this record, it would really stand out as something other than a tossed-off celebrity talent show bit.

With the question of authenticity removed from the equation, the overall concept is allowed to materialize. Waits spent too much of his career, specifically the first part, trying to find new ways to say "I'm drunk," and it can really wear thin as far as subject matter is concerned. When Johansson promises that she'll "drink you under the table" in "I Wish I Was In New Orleans," there is a simultaneous absurdity and believability in the boast. Are we to believe that this pampered New Yorker is forgoing another posh weekend on the Upper West Side to instead slum it in the alleys of our own modern Atlantis? Just the fact that her reworking of the song might give the listener pause to consider such things is reason enough to listen.

The diva in a snowstorm feel of the record sometimes sounds like something on Italians Do It Better, and though that's meant as a compliment, I've also heard it lobbed as an insult. The past ten years have brought us many anemic versions of classic songs by songstresses of varying talents, and Johansson fares better than many of them on her debut.

"Hey, Just Have Fun Out There tonight. You Deserve It."

So if you were one of the unlucky fans who didn't have the hundred plus dollars to spend on the non-paper tickets tonight, just rest easy knowing that you can make your way down to one of our few remaining record stores that sells new music and plop down a fraction of that for something you might ultimately enjoy even more. And if you are lucky enough to go, I hope you have fun, and I look forward to spending the rest of my week hearing your oral show reviews while defending this writeup.


Cool Out (The Cavern)

Interview: Boris

Boris just seems to be one of those bands, you know? Critics love them. People who don't listen to metal or ambient or drone or anything else they've ever done love them too. Metalheads and record collectors are on board, as are people who usually spend their time debating the merits of Cat Power. Personally, I jumped on the Boris train pretty late, hearing them for the first time in late 2005 or early 2006-- a few months before they released Pink, the album that many see as their "crossover" into the peripheral of the mainstream. Ever since that time, I've found the band very interesting-- where they come from, their process, and their place in underground rock music. I've wanted to interview Boris for quite a while because I've always wanted to ask them about their own career and how they viewed their successes as a strange and relatively challenging Japanese psyche rock band that has somehow made a big impression in both the U.S. and Europe. Luckily, Rubber Gloves owner Josh Baish was nice enough to provide us with a wonderful translator, Aya Nakayama, who helped us facilitate an interview with drummer Atsuo. The results are below. We left the original Japanese text in just for kicks.

1. Over your career, you guys have worked with a number of different labels. How do you choose which labels to work with on a particular project, and does whatever project you happen to be working on at a given time dictate your choice in label to any extent?

今まで色々なレーベルでお仕事をされてきたようですが、それぞれのプロジェクトに携わるに当たって、どのレーベルを使うかなどはどうやって決めているのですか?それとも、その時に携わっているプロジェクトによってレーベルを決めるのですか?

そうだなあ、レーベルのイメージが作品に影響する場合もあるし、作品がほとんど出来上がった時点でその作品に合うレーベルを探す場合もあるね。毎回違う。

Well, sometimes the label’s impression influences our piece, and sometimes we look for the right label when the songs gets close to being done. It’s different every time.

2. Your sound has changed quite a bit throughout your history as band. What, in your mind, are the forces behind these changes, and what inspires you to start exploring different sounds? Is it something as arbitrary as using new equipment, or is it more of a preconceived conceptualized theme that you wish to address?

バンドの歴史を見てみて、少しだけサウンドが違ってきていると思うのですが、あなたたちが考えるところ、こういった違いの元になっているのはなんなんでしょうか?それからどういったことがインスピレーションとなって、違ったサウンドを探求するようになるのでしょうか? それはただ新しい機材を使ってみようみたいなことなんでしょうか、それともみんなで決めて提示しようとしているコンセプトのテーマの変化みたいなものなんでしょうか。

いろいろなことが影響してるね、機材が新しい音(音楽ではない)を教えてくれたりするし、それは時には壊れかけた機材だったりもする。その時々で聴いている音楽が影響もしていたね。今はあまり音楽を聴く時間もないし、ツアーとか、レコーディングとかそういった物が含まれる「生活」自体からのインスピレーションが多い。だから極端に言うと今は音楽には興味が無いね。生活、体験、経験そういったものがインスピレーションになってくる。すごく当たり前の事だね。作品は常に僕らを取り巻く関係性(周りの人、家族、社会、世界)のドキュメンタリーになるから、生活の変化が作品の変化につながっていく。「変化し続ける」という意味では変化してないね、ぼくらは。

We are influenced by many different things. Sometimes equipment shows us new sound (not music), and it could be equipment that’s almost broken down. Music that we listen to at times also could influence us. Right now we don’t have much time to listen to music, so we get a lot of inspirations from “life” itself, including touring and recordings and stuff. So right now we are not really interested in music. Life and experiences have become our inspirations, which is very reasonable. Our pieces have always been documentary of our relations to people around us, family, society and world; so the change in our lives leads us to the change in our music. We have not changed in a way that we keep “changing”.

3. Do you sometimes find that some of your fans are disappointed with the new directions you take with your sound? How do you react to this? Does it concern you, or inspire you, or does it not matter much?

ファンの人たちが時には、あなたたちの新しい方向性にがっかりしたりすると思いますか?そういう時にはどうしますか?そういったことは気にしますか、それとも逆に刺激されたりしますか。それとも、そもそもそういったことはあなたたちに関係していますか?

作品に対して賛否両論が生まれるのはすごく自然な事だと感じる。アーティストによっては世界中、皆手放しで賞賛したりしてる所を見たりすると寒気がするね。洗脳されてるのか?って思っちゃうよ。でもファンの反応はまじめに受け取るし、無視したりする事はしない。表現って言うのは発信だけでなくそのリアクションも含めて表現作品だからね。

We feel it’s very natural that we get both sides of an argument; the pros and the cons. It makes me chill when I see some artists get free praise from everybody in the entire world. I feel like they are all brainwashed. We take reactions from fans seriously, we never ignore them. Expression is not just the matter of the sender, but also it includes the feedback.

4. Boris seems to be a band that is almost universally loved by western rock critics. How important is this praise to you,

ボリスは西洋のロック評論ではどこでも評判がとてもいいようですね。こういった賞賛を受けるということは、あなたたちにとってどれくらい大事なのでしょうか?
勘違いであれ、誤解であれ称賛を受ける事は嬉しいよ。そこからまた次の作品が生まれる場合もあるし、常に自分たちに起こった反応を前向きに捕らえて先につなげて行きたいね。

We enjoy getting applause, regardless of misinterpretations or misunderstandings. Sometimes we move onto new pieces from there, so we’re always trying to take that feedback for us positively to move on.

and what are your general feelings about rock criticism? How does criticism from professional critics compare to feedback from fans?

そもそも、ロックミュージックに対する評論についてはどう思われますか?プロの評論家の評判に比べてファンからのフィードバックはいかがですか?

そうだなあ、個人的には音楽を音楽の中だけで語る事には疑問だね。僕らはもう音楽の中だけにいるつもりは無いし、ロックってものが絵画や文学や演劇やその他のジャンルと横並びで語られるべきだとも思う。特に日本はメディアとレコード会社の癒着、メディアは広告でしかなかったりするからね。Smileのリリース、プロモーションで思った事は、音楽ライターは音楽が作られる現場をの事を全くしらない。音楽が出来上がってからしか語れない人達なんだなという印象が強かった。今回は海外と日本でヴァージョンが違うんだけど、そこで何が行われていたのか?まったくわからないんだ。逆に言えば、ミックスの時、ひとつのフェーダーの上げ下げがどのくらい全体に影響を及ぼすか、そんな基本的な事も知らない。ファンからのフィードバックはより感情的だね。今現代はブログやなんかで誰でも発信する側になれる。でも実はみんな発信してるだけなんだよね。海外ではこういったインタビューが個人的なブログから依頼が来たり、ファンの能動性をすごく感じたりする。考えて発信するだけでなく、一度知ろうというプロセスがあり、対話の上で発信して行こうという動きが見られるね。日本は全くそんな事ないよ。取材はメデアがやるもの、リスナーは買って聴く人、作品が作られて行くプロセスに参加しようという意識は皆無だね。ぼくはなるべくインタビューには答えて行こうと思ってる。

Well, personally I think it’s disputable to talk about music within a music frame. We no longer mean to stay within the music frame, and I think “rock” should be discussed with paintings, literature, theatrical plays, and many other genres altogether. Especially in Japan, because of the close relationship between media and record companies, media is nothing but advertisement. What I learned from releasing Smile and doing the promotion for the album was that music journalists know nothing about the actual scenes that we create music at. I was under a strong impression that they are a kind of people who cannot talk about music until everything is all done. In other words, they would not know basic stuff like how much just pulling a fader up and down could influence the whole piece. Feedback from fans is more emotional. Today, anyone can be the one who sends off information with using blogs and stuff, but actually they are just sending stuff off. We feel like fans in foreign countries are more active, like I got this interview from somebody’s personal blog. Instead of just thinking to himself and sending it off, he takes one more step of trying to get to know in the process, like he is trying to send it off based on this communication. It’s not like that in Japan. Interviews are exclusively for media and listeners are the people who buy CDs. They never think about being a part of the process of creating a work. I am trying to answer as many interviews as possible.

5. Your band also seems to garner a great deal of respect from the art world, almost elevating your music to the realm of "high art." This is curious in the sense that you guys often play music that could be described as "metal," which is often shunned by critics and the world of high art as being crude or low brow. How would you explain this? Do you think this is due to a cultural reevaluation of metal, or does it have more to do with your band's approach specifically?

あなたのバンドは、ほぼハイアートの領域まで高められて、世界中のアート界から尊敬を得ているようですね。メタルというのはよく粗いとか水準が低いとかいった理由で、批評やハイアート界というものから遠ざけられたりすることがあるものの、あなたたちの演奏する音楽はよく“メタル”として表現されることがよくある、そういった意味でとても興味深いです。 こういったことに対してはどう説明されますか?これはもっと文化的なメタルに対する再評価によるものなのか、それとももっとあなたたちのバンドによるアプローチの仕方によるものだと思いますか。

アートっていうのは見えない物を見えるようにしたり、新しい視点や、新しい価値を提示したりするものだよね。そう意味では僕らがやってる事は音楽を作る事ではなくて、新しい経験を自分たちの価値観とか生活から作品として生み出して行く物だから、同じような事をやっているとは思う。個人的には「アート」っていわれる事はすごく嫌いで、わけのわからない物や、新しい物は「アート」って言っておけば収まりがつきやすい社会があると思う。その言葉が使われる事で、人々が感じる前にわかった気になってしまうのがすごく危険な事だと思ってる。「メタル」と言うジャンルは逆にそういったジャンル名を持っているが、世の中、批評やハイアート界というものから遠ざけられていたが故にその中ではいろいろなスタイルが自由化されたジャンルだと思う。意味内容がいつの間にか風化したというか。現代の「メタル」シーンだからこそ僕らの事を評価してくれたんじゃないかな?

Art is something to make invisible things visible, or to present new view points and new values. In this way, what we are doing is not just making music, but we are creating new pieces based on our personal value or life experience. So it’s kind of like we are doing the same thing. Personally, I hate my work to be called “art” because in this society people often try to push everything incomprehensible or new against the corner by using the word. I think it is very dangerous that using that word make people feel like they understood those things before even they actually feel them. On the other hand, “metal” has the name for its genre, but since metal has been shunned by the society, critics, and the world of high art, we had more discretion on many different styles within the genre. The meanings and content of metal has been weathered. I feel like people appreciated our music through these modern metal scenes.

6. Which one of your records do you feel was a turning point for you with American audiences, if any? Or was it maybe a particular American tour?

アメリカのオーディエンスとの転機になったレコードはどれだったと思いますか、もしあれば教えてください。 もしくはひょっとしてアメリカでのツアーであったとか?

だれもが言うようにPINKだろうなあ。あのときは海外をたくさん回って、その中で見えたロックの未来みたいなのを作品にして行った。だから誰も評価してくれないだろうな、と思ってたし、でもそんなのかまってられないと言う思いもあったね。未だにあの作品に関しては客観的になれないし、自分たちで作った実感も無い。あのときの生活の中ですごいスピードで生み出された物だったかなあ。

As everybody says, it was probably PINK. We were touring abroad a lot then, and we made songs from what we saw; it was something like future rock. So we did not think anyone would appreciate it, but at the same time, we did not care. It is still hard to look at the piece objectively and, we do not feel like we made it. That piece was created very quickly in the life we were living at the time.

7. Are there any Japanese psyche rock or electro groups that you think most people in the United States haven't heard but are highly important and overlooked?

アメリカではあまり知られてないかもしれないけど注目すべきサイケロックやエレクトロのグループなんかは、日本にはいますか?

今回Smileで一緒に曲を作ってくれた朝生愛(Ai Aso)さんはすごく良いアルバムを出してるね。
これはたくさんの人に聴かれると良いなと思うアルバムだね。

Ai Aso who worked on Smile with us has released really awesome albums. I hope a lot more people will listen to her stuff.


8. Do you know anything about Texas? What are your impressions of Texas as opposed to the rest of the U.S., if any?

テキサスについては何かご存知でいらっしゃいますか?アメリカの他の地域に比べてテキサスに対する印象なんかはありますか?

暑い。乾燥してる。NASA! 二回ぐらい行ったからね。肉ばっかり。僕はヴィーガンだからこれはなんとかして欲しいね。

Hot and dried. And NASA! We have already gone there like twice. And it’s meat. I am vegan so this is really tough.

10. What are the best and worst things about touring the U.S. as opposed to Japan or Europe?

ヨーロッパや日本でのツアーに比べて、アメリカでツアーをするに当たって、一番いいこと、悪いことは何ですか?

良い事はオーディエンスの顔が肉眼で見られる事。今ネット社会だから、全てパソコンのモニターの中で済まされて行くだろ?当たり前の事なんだけど、便利さの中でいろいろ大切な事が忘れられて行く。目と目を合わせるだけで、人はすごい情報量を感じる事が出来るし、そういった意味ですごい贅沢な暮らしをさせてもらってると感じている。悪い事はそうだなあ、メンバー、スタッフみんなの体がボロボロになって行く事かな。いつまで続けられるかもわからないから、早めに見ておいて欲しいね。ありがとう。

Good thing is we get to see the audiences’ faces. Everything happens within internet now, you know? It’s very natural, but there are so many things that are very important but are forgotten in exchange for the convenience. Just from looking at each other in the eyes, people can feel lots of information, and I feel like we have luxurious lives in that way. Bad thing is.. well, our members and staff get completely worn out. We don’t know for how long we can keep doing this, so I’d like you guys to come see us sooner. Thank you.


(Boris plays this Friday, June 27th at Rubber Gloves in Denton)

(Defensive Listening contributed to this interview)

Labels:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Monday Morning Rock




SHOWS OF NOTE THIS WEEK

MON: Tom Waits (Palladium)
TUE: Islands/Awol One/Crayonsmith (Granada)
FRI: Boris/Torche/Clouds (Rubber Gloves)
FRI: The Party 2 Year Anniversary (Zubar)
FRI: Shearwater/Kadane Brothers/Theater Fire (Lola's)
SAT: Fuck Yeah Fest with Matt and Kim/The Death Set/Team Robespierre/Brother Reade (1919 Hemphill)
SAT: Centromatic/Kadane Brothers/Theater Fire (Granada)
SUN: Stone Temple Pilots/Black Francis (Nokia Theater)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weekender


Written by Defensive Listening, so direct all of your kind, thoughtful compliments at me and not Sally Glass or SR.


FRIDAY

Psychedelic Horseshit/Teenage Cool Kids/Fabulous Diamonds (Chat Room): For all of the static stain on Psychedelic Horseshit's purposely garbled recordings, their melody, both instrumental and vocal, still somehow glows through the chaos. This is even more apparent in a live setting. Australia's Fabulous Diamonds represent the decidedly less pop rock side of Siltbreeze, with a combination of minimal repetitive beats, drone vocal monotone, and the busy clicking and clattering of Eastern-styled percussion hypnotizing its way down the center of the mix. Should be an interesting show at the always bustling Chat Room.


Burnt Sienna Trio
/Phantastes/Dust Congress/Some Say Leland (Hailey's):
Mainly folk-based show with two of Denton's best, including a real curve-ball on the bill: Phantastes. This is the remaining members of The Undoing Of David Wright manipulating some intricately hand-made modulators and synths.

Dosh/Anathallo/Listener Project/The Boat Lights/Sunnybrook (The Prophet Bar): I wonder if Stonedranger wants to see Sunnybrook bad enough to go to the Prophet Bar.

Callupsie/Cryptacize/Florene (Kettle Art)

Brody's Militia/Kill The Client/Human Struggle/Healers (Exploding House): Though they might be on Relapse now, Kill The Client's "Wage Slave" will always be a local classic.

Delmore Pilcrow/Slow Burners/Passing Parade (J & J's Pizza)


SATURDAY

Times New Viking/Record Hop/Teenage Cool Kids (Club Dada): Featuring three acts that rock shamelessly, this is the first in a barrage of high-profile shows at Dada in the coming months. Times New Viking seems to be everywhere since their Strawberry Fields set last spring. Like Psychedelic Horseshit, their live set is extremely accessible and makes them seem much less challenging or as willfully obscure as their recordings suggest. Teenage Cool Kids and Record Hop are a good match and I think they should arm-wrestle to see who loves the Nineties more, though they are respectively worshiping different years.

The Great Tyrant/Fight Bite/Koji Kondo/Blank Blank (Chat Room): Three of Fort Worth's most intimidating live acts, one hardcore punk, one grindcore, and whatever The Great Tyrant considers their terrifying brand of gloomy prog. Fight Bite certainly stands out here, but will hold their own due to the wrist-slitting subject matter of every single one of their songs.

Hands Up w/ Gracie Chavez (The Loft): This time The Party presents Houston's Gracie Chavez who is a DJ, mother, music writer, and veteran of Houston's club scene. From shedding light on fellow female DJ's as a co-founder of the "La Femmes" project, to her recent ten thousand download triumph of her recent "Yo, Mami" mix, Chavez is quite the overachiever as well as the perfect act with a pedigree heavy enough to headline the chaos of The Party. Read the excellent interview over at Central Booking.

Spazm 151/Damage Case/Akkolyte/Wayward boys/Kill The Client/Human Struggle/The Krumbums (Red Blood Club): Red Blood Club gets an appropriate send-off with some of the acts that made this one of the last destinations in the endangered Deep Ellum area. Just a couple of these bands would be a fierce bill, all of them together makes it staggeringly brutal. Watch your pretty face.

Attic Ted/Zanzibar Snails/Glass/Secret Briefcase (Wisconsin - 731 Texas Street
Ex-Eighth Continent):
Attic Ted plays loopy, skewed songs, heavy on the organ and with obvious quirky influences such as The Residents. They also bear a resemblance to the nervous rhythms and uptight vocals of groups like 100 Flowers and The Homosexuals. I wonder if any other weirdo acts are hiding out in San Marcos. Glass is the sludge-metal side project of Kaboom, Zanzibar Snails will include a guest appearance by Burnt Sienna Trio's Sinevil, and the night will be finished off by a noise improvisation by several local artists.

Russian Circles/Daughters/Young Widows (Lola's): Russian Circles is said to blend Explosions In The Sky-styled instrumental rock with metal overtones, and I can only imagine that would have to be an improvement. Daughters are a well-known live act, notorious for their anger, energy, and nakedness. Young Widows is ex-members of Breather Resist.

Final edit of Loose Change on Saturday, June 21 at 8pm (Lakewood Theater)

ADD:
Violent Squid/Darktown Strutters/Street Hassle/Landrest/Rocket For Ethiopia/Antarctics (J & J's)


SUNDAY

Grand Archives/Sera Cahoone/Sarah Jaffe (The Cavern)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It List: Thursday

Sorry, Blogger had one of their obligatory two hour shutdowns today, so not too much info here, but we'll talk soon.


Stay School Swag School
(Roof of Cool Beans): Though it's long been my philosophy that alcohol and rooftops don't necessarily mix, this "Roof Jump Off Party" sounds like a pretty diverse show and who doesn't like hanging out on rooftops? The lineup features the reunion of In Dot Dat, as well as Yeah Def, and Young Doc Gooden. Topping it all off is Andrew Savage of The Teenage Cool Kids, who will be playing records. Mind your step and please recycle.


Red Dons/The Estranged/Rocket for Ethiopia/Unit 21/Secret Bangs (1919 Hemphill)

Plan B/Darktown Strutters (Rubber Gloves): Mismatched show featuring our new favorite local band. We're so fickle with our highly sought love and attention.

80's Night with DJ G (Hailey's)

RTB2/Violent Squid/Tiebreaker (Chatroom Pub)


Faun Fables/Invincible Czars/The Chameleon Chamber Group (Lola's): Faun Fables makes unconventionally theatrical art rock, has toured as far as New Zealand, and records for Drag City. A little over the top in a Ren' Fair sort of way and certainly not for everyone, but if that doesn't bother you give it a chance.


Birds and Batteries/Lee Simmons/Salim Nourallah (Club Dada)

Art List

I have been consistently impressed with the shows at Conduit, Holly Johnson, and PNDB since I moved to Dallas. If you haven't made it out to any of them, all three have openings this week.

THURSDAY
And/Or House of Dang Summer Smackdown (4219 Bryan St.)

The two things I love most in the summer: outdoor movies and breaking into apartment complexes for a late night swim. This week is Teen Witch, with a Most Popular Girl Contest. Everything goes down at 8:30. Bring some popcorn and a lawn chair.

SATURDAY

Los Cubanos-The New Regime (Pan-American)5-8pm

Marill, Starr, and Iwasaki (Conduit)
I have been excited about this show ever since I saw two Iwasaki pieces at the CADD Art Fair.

Margo Sawyer: Synchronicity of Color (Holly Johnson)5-8pm
A continutation of the work that Sawyer did for Discovery Green in Houston.

Twenty-one (PNDB) 5-8pm
So, I screwed up and posted this last week, but it is really opening this week. Twenty-one photographs will be up, including work by Mario Algaze, Mario DeBiasi, Chuy Benitez, John Herrin, David Johndrow, and Elliott Erwitt.

Also, PNDB is also the sole gallery in the States representing Chinese photographer Wu Jalin. I would highly reccomend checking out his work while you're there.

Jackson Hammack, Jason Brown, and Jeanie Gooden (Craighead Green)

CLOSING:

Richard Haas (Gerald Peters)

Tracy Hicks and Billy Hassell (the MAC)

Nothing Moments (Public Trust)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It List: Wednesday

Playboy will be filling in for Nature at Taxi Fare tonight at Zubar. For those who didn't know, Nature is currently playing shows in his home away from home-- San Juan, PR. Cool people know that the guy was huge there a few years ago, and a decent argument can be made that his is a name that should be mentioned along with Diplo when discussing how the contemporary dance music of Puerto Rico made its way to New York and the rest of the United States a few years ago. Anyway, Sober tells us that this Playboy dude is pretty good, but that is all we know other than the fact that he spins reggae/dancehall.

ADD: Chris Flemmons/The Diamond Age (Wine Squared, Denton Square)

Dance Your Face Off is at the Cavern tonight, and it's for people who actually like to dance to, you know, dance music and stuff. I stopped by to sample one of the sets a few weeks ago and heard a lot of solid house and disco grooves. Pretty good stuff, even if an empty upstairs Cavern can be a pretty lonely place to hear high energy dance music. Hopefully people will catch on to this sooner rather than later.


It's What We Get will be at Hailey's with guest DJs Yeah Def and Young Doc Gooden, who will be playing a "Chop and screw" mix.


I don't see anything else going on today. Do you?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It List: Tuesday

Death Cab For Cutie/Rogue Wave (Nokia): Re: Death Cab- Where are all the people who used to bug me about this band eight years ago? Did they escape to South America with all the other war criminals?

The Roots (House Of Blues): The Roots have had their moments here and there (mostly on Illadelph Halflife,) but I've never been convinced that mixing in jam band elements is the solution to saving the live Hip Hop show. Judging by the fact that they will perform sans opening act tonight, that argument is still being made.

?uestlove (Ghostbar): After-party for the Roots show, obviously.

Disqo Disco (Fallout Lounge): Tonight's guest is Blixaboy aka Wanz Dover.

Dysrhythmia/Broadcast Sea/Four Days To Burn (Bar Of Soap): I'm told this show is free, all the more reason to go see and hear one of the handful of anomalies on Relapse Records, Dysrhythmia. Dysrhythmia is an instrumental group of considerable technical prowess, but aren't as boring as other groups in the tricky riff and time-signatures genre. Perhaps this is due to several surprising turns in the music, from the incorporation of Norwegian Black Metal sounds to ambient influences and even some melodic material that could pass for a record on Thrill Jockey.

Free Times New Viking and Psychedelic Horseshit Tickets

Remember a few months ago when we brought you Times New Viking and Psychedelic Horseshit at Strawberry Fields for five bucks? Well, it'll be a bit more work (and cost a bit more money) to see these bands again this weekend, but it'll be totally possible to catch both, and certainly worth your time. Psychedelic Horseshit will be playing on Friday at the Chat Room in Ft. Worth, while Times New Viking will hit Club Dada on Saturday. Wanna go? Luckily for you, we have two pairs of tickets to give away to each show, and if you want to win them, please email weshotjrtix@yahoo.com before Thursday at Noon. Include the name of the show you want to see in the subject line and your full name in the email body.

Album Review: J Gray-- J Stop Playing Those Sad Songs

It's been nearly a year since our infamous Matthew and the Arrogant Sea article was published, and despite some of the negative implications of that experience, I'm still somewhat intrigued by the group of musicians involved in the project. After spending a couple weeks interviewing with us and sharing the details of a phony record deal that turned out to be either a fragment of one person's imagination or the centerpiece of one of the most dumbfounding publicity stunts in recent local music history (depending on who you ask), Matthew and the Arrogant Sea and its related solo and side projects simply soldiered on during and after the "phony record deal" fallout in the local media, producing a constant stream of material under a handful of different monikers that has been a bit inconsistent at times, but generally more interesting than most of the "indie" folk fodder that passes for "buzzworthy" in DFW/Denton these days. In the process, the group noticeably raised their profile, playing frequent gigs with larger, more established acts while attaining greater recognition in the media and cementing their reputation as a band or group of bands that people tend to take interest in. Dismiss this modest rise in popularity as fickle, flavor of the month favoritism if you must, but it is difficult to deny that MATAS and its many offshoots have produced some solid material here and there, and their prolific recording tendencies and constant reinvention and exploration certainly have to be admired on some level.  

One of the most impressive talents to emerge from Matthew and the Arrogant Sea is J Gray, a 16 year old songwriter who, at times, quite honestly soars above any similar recording artist in the area, including his MATAS band mates. His debut full length, J Stop Playing Those Sad Songs, is a consistent and imaginative collection of haunted, touching songs that reveals both the surprising strengths and predictable shortcomings of a young yet highly talented musician who is just finding his bearings as a recording artist.

Gray's debut is truly an article of the Myspace/bit torrent era in the sense that it plays like a collection of individual tracks rather than a work created as a coherent, multi-part whole. This isn't to say that the whole thing isn't worth listening to, but rather an observation concerning the stand-alone, isolated feel of most of these songs. This tends to work against the album a bit in the sense that some of the songs flirt with repetitiveness and redundancy by the time you get through with them, but the fact that it doesn't end up being much of a problem really says something about the strength of Gray's songwriting and the highlights that make his debut a relatively impressive achievement, particularly for a self released, home recorded offering.  

The record's obvious calling card is Gray's emotive and highly distinctive vocal performance, stylistically hinting at a diverse array of talents like the Fleetwoods' Gary Troxell, frog-in-the-throat Nashville Skyline era Bob Dylan, and even Scritti Politti's Green Gartside, all the while managing to avoid sounding enough like any of the aforementioned vocalists (or anyone else, for that matter) to garner any straight up comparisons. Gray appears to be well aware of this strength, as his vocals are positioned front and center on each and every track, highlighting his soft, sad croon and the thoughtfully abstract lyrical content that often provides these songs with a level of intensity that is impressively literary at times. 

Starting with the title track, an improved and slightly tweaked version of a song that appeared on our most recent Projection compilation, the album commences on an immediate launch to a lonely, introspective headspace that it proceeds to occupy for its duration.  Most of the tracks here are minimal and sparse in their construction: clean, simple acoustic strumming and Gray's reverb heavy vocal tracks comprise most of the material, with occasional touches of drums, bass, layered backing vocals and additional guitar parts that simply add to the album's dreamy, desolate tone of longing and resigned curiosity.  The minimal arrangements work especially well considering that Gray doesn't seem to need much help in making these rather traditional folk/country songs sound mysterious and heartbreaking, and one gets the sense that anything more would undermine the record's overall feel while simultaneously reducing its charm.

Although the standout tracks are many, a trio of songs with similar titles collectively provides perhaps the best indication of Gray's talents, as well as many of the album's emotional high points.  "You Are the God of Sounds" is certainly the strongest track here, and it is a truly stunning thing to hear on a self released local album.   Starting off with simple acoustic strumming, Gray's vocals come in almost immediately and proceed to steal the show with a beautiful, lost highway country influenced melody that sounds distant and almost ghostly in its sweetness. When the rest of the band comes in and joins Gray at the 1:00 mark, it becomes apparent that the song is something special, revealing Gray's impressive ability to come off as damaged and thoughtful beyond his years.  "You Are the Golden Child" similarly combines quiet, full band accompaniment with a gorgeous, reverb heavy vocal melody for optimal effect, while "You Are the Stars" drops the rhythm and utilizes a drier, clearer sound that presents a textbook argument for "less is more."

Missteps such as the overly long and repetitive "Mr. James" hold things back a bit, and the album itself is not void of scattered, minor flaws-- errant lyrical goofs and overzealous use of vocal effects emerge from time to time, demonstrating that Gray certainly has some room to grow as a songwriter.  But these issues pale in comparison to the record's strengths, and they are easily overlooked as Gray's talent and potential continually reveals itself throughout.  It seems almost impossible to predict success in our fickle and downright confusing regional music scene, but a few listens to J Stop Playing Those Sad Songs will likely leave you confident that on his own, J Gray likely has a shot at turing a lot of heads and creating enough of a stir to attain some kind of record deal in the near future.  For real this time.

(4 of 5 stars)

Monday, June 16, 2008

It List: Monday

Sorry Im late, but luckily, there isn't anything going on tonight other than the usual... we'll have at least two features this week that will make you want to kiss us, so stay tuned for those. One might be up tonight. And in case you forgot: Cool Out, Jazz at Amsterdam and Paul Slavens @ Dan's are all happening tonight.

Local Sales Charts

GOOD RECORDS LOCAL TOP 5

1. Centro-Matic/South San Gabriel - Dual Hawks
2. Mount Righteous - When the Music Starts
3. Matthew LaBrot - Someday EP
4. Old 97's - Blame It On Gravity
5. Stumptone - Gravity Suddenly Released

GOOD RECORDS OVERALL TOP 20

1. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
2. Centro-Matic/South San Gabriel - Dual Hawks
3. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (LP)
5. Weezer - Red Album
6. Cool Kids - Bake Sale
7. Mount Righteous - When the Music Starts
8. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
9. Samamidon - All is Well
10. National - Virginia EP/A Skin, A Night
11. Spiritualized - Song in A&E
12. Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us
13. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
14. Santogold - Santogold
15. Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
16. Black Keys - Attack and Release
17. Mudhoney - Lucky Ones
18. Samamidon - All Is Well (LP)
19. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
20. Via Audio - Say Something

RECYCLED TOP LOCAL AND NEW ARRIVALS

1. Delmore Pilcrow - Worn to the Weft

2.Daniel Folmer - A Leaf
Dust Congress - Egg Tooth
Stumptone - Gravity Suddenly Released LP
Theatre Fire - Everybody Has a Dark Side

New Arrivals this week:

Fab Deuce - MumboJumboGumboGrooves
Forbes, Young, and Gonzalez - Six Hands, Five Voices
Ghosthustler - Cassingle
New Science Projects - Crocodile!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Monday Morning Rock



SHOWS OF NOTE THIS WEEK

TUE:  Death Cab For Cutie/Rogue Wave (Nokia Theater)
TUE:  The Roots (House of Blues)
FRI: Psychedelic Horseshit/Teenage Cool Kids/Fabulous Diamonds (Chat Room)
FRI: Dosh/Anathallo/Listener Project/The Boat Lights/Sunnybrook (The Prophet Bar)
SAT: Times New Viking/Record Hop/Teenage Cool Kids (Club Dada)
SAT: The Great Tyrant/Fight Bite/Koji Kondo/Blank Blank (Chat Room)
SUN: Grand Archives/Sera Cahoone/Sarah Jaffe (The Cavern)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Weekender

FRIDAY

Frog Eyes/Evangelicals/White Hinterland (Club Dada): The first in a series of upcoming shows that might do a bit to help put Club Dada back on the map as a relevant venue that people actually give a shit about. The highlight of this show for me will be the chance to hear some of the solid new Evanglicals album in a live setting. I believe they and Best Fwends were the first two bands I ever interviewed for this blog, and two years later, both are finally starting to become "cool." I win again.

Goth Valentine's Day with Night Game Cult/Phantastes/Return of the Crud (Cool Beans): Hmm... interesting line up. I'm really excited about the first two bands, have no idea what the third band is, and, well, the fourth one is that Admiral David V dude. Phantastes is a project from Shane English and Lars Larsen, and it's honestly quite unlike anything else I know of in the metroplex. Taking early 80's European industrial electronic influences as a starting point, the group throws in bits of avant industrial noise a la Cabaret Voltaire and various other early electro (we're talking Suicide, not Moby) and Detroit touchstones such as Cybotron to create tough yet mesmerizing synth/drum machine grooves that are quite easy to get lost in. I'm also happy that Night Game is back with a brand new batch of songs that show continued growth in whatever, uh, vision its namesake has. A lot of the stuff currently on the Night Game myspace page is all over the place, from quiet and apparently sincere covers ("The Velvet Underground's "Jesus") to minimal synth/dance tracks like "This Party is Fucking Over" that often come off as John Maus reinterpretations of Daniel Johnston songs. A few tracks inspired by whimsical New Romantic influenced dream pop add another special touch to the arsenal. All of it is pretty great if you want to know the truth. And finally, everyone's favorite real AND fake commenter, Dave Virden, is, well, uh, is playing this show too, mkay?

Teenage Cool Kids/Vacation/Boats (715 Panhandle): Vacation is a group that doesn't have any music on their Myspace page (I hear they are a pop band of some sort), and Boats is a Sacramento garage/punk power pop combo that has been gaining a bit of buzz within hardcore circles in various locales recently, and if you're into that kind of thing, I think you'll find that they are more than worth checking out, especially for a grand total of zero dollars at a great house venue.

Joan of Arc/Tame...Tame and Quiet/Yellow Fever (Lola's): No telling what kind of show Joan Of Arc will put on, it all depends on the current lineup. They have never exactly floored me with what seems like mostly conventional song-craft and a forced, anemic experimentalism lightly drizzled over the pouty post-emo end result. Something tells me they still have a significant following if some of those closet old school Cap'n Jazz fans can leave the dance floor long enough to watch a boring rock show. Yellow Fever's lack of pretense and enigmatic influences have made them one of the most intriguing pop groups in recent memory. Too sophisticated to truly be considered twee, and yet too precious for some fans of the noisier acts they often play with, I hope the group finds their deserved niche high above the polluted sea of pop song-writing that they dominate. I haven't heard much out of Tame...Tame And Quiet lately and wonder if they have new material.


Dust Congress/New Science Projects/The Heartstring Stranglers/Parata (J&Js): This is the CD release show for New Science Projects. Haven't heard the new disc yet, but I'm sure we'll get our hands on a copy some time soon.

First Class Uptown Friday with Select (Zubar)

R9/DJ G (Rubber Gloves): These guys will be playing a lot of dark late 70's stuff, goth, and 80's industrial in celebration of Friday the 13th.

SATURDAY

Night Game Cult/Darktown Strutters/Life Functions Terminated/Voyant (J&Js): We already talked about Night Game in this post, and DL's write up on Darktown Strutters last week probably helped explain why we're excited to hear more from what sounds like a potentially great band. Life Functions Terminated is a new solo project from Shane English featuring his new homemade synth, and Voyant is one of Andrew Michael's many interesting projects.

Skarp/Akkolyte/Blood OV/Burn the Witness (Red Blood Club): Skarp is a grindcore act on the venerable Alternative Tentacles, a label that will hurt your brain if you try to really fathom how long they've been around. Thirty years next year! Skarp apparently impressed label owner Jello Biafra enough in an opening slot for the Melvins that he invited them on board. They sound like a decent enough grind band, and they'll have their work cut out for them sharing the stage with Oak Cliff's Akkolyte.

Strange Boys/Coathangers/Wax Museums (Club Dada)

Cats and Dogs Benefit (Rubber Gloves): Sheesh. What did you think, I was going to list this whole fucking line up with all the links and stuff? Forget about it. Click the link for a line up that inclues highlights Record Hop as a headliner. starts at noon.

Fight Bite (Space Studio): I believe this art show starts promptly at 8pm with music at 10pm, and maybe, since it's in Dallas at like a "real" venue or something, Pete Freedman will take a break from Forever the Sickest Kids and check them out. We can only hope so for the sake of Fight Bite's career.

Hot Flash with guest DJ Genova (Fallout Lounge): You know the deal with these-- eclectic DJ sets covering everything from blog house to 70's funk to crunk. Usually pretty fun.

Balmorhea/Mom/Hotel Hotel/Geistheistler (Hailey's): Austin's Balmorhea is actually becoming one of the more nationally buzzed about groups hailing from our vastly overrated neighbor to the south, and although their sprawling instrumental pieces are well constructed and somewhat interesting at times, I just can't say that it really inspires me to drive 35 miles. And I still have yet to hear Geistheistler, so it would be nice if a Dentonite who actually knows what they're talking about would leave a comment explaining their sound to us. And I have to say that I was a defender of Pitchfork long after it was cool to be, but I really just can't read that shit anymore. I mean, look at this review. I'm no Lester Bands, I know, but could you at least tell me what ONE of the songs on an album sounds like without making me want to kill myself for caring enough to find out? Thanks guys!

Jukebox the Ghost/Via Audio/Verulf (Swiss House): Depending on the weather conditions on a given night at Swiss House, it seems that the majority of people who attend events there simply pay five bucks to hang out in the back and drink keg beer. This isn't a bad thing at all, but rather an indication that no matter who is playing, most Swiss House regulars will show up and have a good time. The two touring bands on this bill are fairly boring to me, personally, but when you look at the online press they've received and the fairly impressive venues they'll be playing on their current tour, it becomes apparent that a lot of people disagree with me. Basically, they are both competent indie pop bands that actually just sound like "indie rock" in a "know it when you hear it" sense.... you know, Wolf Parade covering Maroon Five songs and shit. However, Jukebox the Ghost didn't really piss me off when I listened to them the other day, so I'll probably go and hang out or whatever.

Screening of The Holy Mountain (4-7pm, at Alton House, 1005 W. Hickory, Denton): Free.

SUNDAY

Chicago/The Doobie Brothers (Starplex)

Rilo Kiley/Thao/Benji Hughes (Palladium): Is sighing effective as a communication tool if you have to spell it out phonetically?

It List: Thursday


RZA/Stone Mecca (The Palladium): RZA with Stone Mecca: Ok, so I really shouldn't have to say anything about RZA to get you to go to this, and he really shouldn't have to do anything to cement his status as an icon. He produced Wu Tang's debut 36 Chambers, an indisputable, paradigm shifting revolution in hip hop, as well as the vast majority of anything else ever released by Wu Tang or any related solo project that is worth your time or trouble. Oh, and he also had a hand in producing that forgotten little gem known as the Gravediggaz. The thing that was so great about Wu Tang was that they were artisitically adventurous, musically challenging and always relevant in a "thinking man's hip hop" sense while remaining decidedly street (i.e. violent, dark and a little insane), preventing asshole middle aged white liberals from using them as a prop for their purported images as people who are "open to hip hop culture." I hope all this provides more than sufficient motivation to go to this show, but it should also be noted that RZA will be performing as his thugged out space funk loving alter ego Bobby Digital, who will apparently start in an uncoming film that will coincide with the release of the first new Bobby Digital album since 2001's slightly disappointing Digital Bullet, which is an album I forgot I used to own until a few seconds ago. Extra credit is due for the killer artwork by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz on that Bobby Digital debut.

Weird Weeds/Shiny Around The Edges/Fight Bite/Verulf (Rubber Gloves): Weird Weeds' desolately expansive songs and creaky, scraping performance style makes them a perfect fit with Shiny Around The Edges, as they are two groups that often sound improvised but are predominantly premeditated. Fight Bite is a band we first discovered on a corporate news weekly's blog, one month after we wrote about them, and only to find that we had been misspelling their name as "Fight Bite." Are local music writers paid by the mistake?

Gretel/Sarah Jaffe/Doug Burr (Dan's Silverleaf)

Ringo Deathstarr/Street Hassle/Salim Nourallah (Club Dada)

Art List

Several things to see this weekend- I'm especially jazzed about Centraltrak and Road Agent. Come hang out with me. I'll be the one wearing all black.

FRIDAY

Robert Wilhite and Kirsten Macy (Barry Whistler) 6-8pm

Party at the Moontower (Road Agent)
Celia Eberle, Margaret Meehan, Raychael Stine, Ludwig Schwarz, Kevin Todora, Vance Wingate, and Sean Dower.

SATURDAY

ech-o (Centraltrak)
A group show including work by Paul Slocum, Max Kazemzadeh, and an outdoor video installation by Jeanne Cassanova.


Pluto Is Not a Planet (Hal Samples)
Features the photography of Dylan Hollingsworth, Desirae Embree, and Fred Holston and the sculpture of Sergio Garcia and Shayne W. Ridenour. Fight Bite is playing at 10pm.

Twenty-one (PDNB)
The photography of Mario Algaze, Mario DeBiasi, Chuy Benitez, John Herrin, David Johndrow, and Elliott Erwitt.

ADD: Trashcan Punch (5847 Llano Ave) 3-7pm
An outdoor art show, with work from A. Carson, Asteria, Bandage Trash, Emily Eeik!enberg, Monique Janette, and Aaron Romo.

ADD: Cathy Miller (Kettle Art)
Sorry I forgot this one.

Photo John Herrin, courtesy of PDNB

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It List: Wednesday

The New Bloods/Hornet Leg/Daniel Francis Doyle/Nouns Group/Rival Gang (Rubber Gloves): Hornet Leg is comprised of drummer Claudia Meza and guitarist Chris Sutton, who has more or less used the name for what has basically been his solo project. Sutton also plays in Dub Narcotic Soundsystem, Nudity, Spider And The Webs, and C.O.C.O. Meza has played and recorded with Japanther, with a memorable contribution to their best album, "Master Of Pigeons." Hornet Leg's music is a distorted, bluesy garage punk with Moe Tucker like pounding.

The New Bloods were the highlight of SXSW '08, and that included some surprisingly strong competition. The group's setup is guitar-less save for the bass, with violin and drums and all three members singing. The tumbling rhythms, soaring and stabbing violin, and deep rolling basslines are finished off with pleading vocals that vary from harmonies to group shouts, and make the group a unique and unforgettable live experience. The deceiving simplicity of their stark, stripped approach reveals a stunningly endless range of emotion and complexity that never dissolves into the cheap anger of complaining merely to hear yourself complain. Every second of the band's performance seems imbued with a heavy sense of purpose and you never get the feeling that this is just another touring act tossing off another road show. Their debut album for Kill Rock Stars was released last month and I would recommend it just as much as this show.

Taxi Fare (Zubar): Dear Dallas scenesters-- Thank you for continuing to NOT got to Taxi Fare. The crowd is big enough without you, and it's already one of the best overall dance nights anywhere in Dallas. I need a fucking vacation from you people sometimes anyway. JK love ya! :-)

ADD: Corima/The Great Tyrant/Swirve (Red Blood Club): One of your last chances to ever see good bands at Red Blood Club.

DETOUR with Blackheart Society/Big J/Zoo DJs/Milan Bender (The Cavern): This is the start of a new regular event in Dallas, and we'll have more info on it soon.

It's What We Get with YeahDeaf and DJ Panda Toes (Hailey's): After the departure of Alan Palomo for New York, It's What We Get will be working with some guests for their Wednesday night residency at Hailey's. Tonight they'll be joined by YeahDeaf, who's Myspace page almost gave me a seizure, and DJ Panda Toes, a sometimes DFW resident who appears to be as good a source as you'll find on all the new, blog friendly dance stuff from Australia, Europe and the like. If you're into FluoKids or Spank Rock, I promise you'll dig these sets. And if you're simply into looking like you're into FluoKids or Spank Rock, you'll dig being seen at Hailey's during these sets.

Mates of State/Black Joe Lewis/The Headlights (Granada): I think I forgot how boring Mates of State were until I accidentally thought about them a few minutes ago.