Jan 31, 2007

Lead Me.

Kara Walker - Freedom Fighters for the Society of Forgotten Knowledge (2005)

What if America's response to terrorist brutality sounded more like Mahalia Jackson's "Precious Lord" than Metallica's "Master of Puppets"? Americans have before been beaten by hatefully explosive hands strengthed by the confused confidence bred in a tight, but polarized communtiy wrapped around an evil logic of opression over discussion. Less than a century ago, innocent American houses were bombed, prominent community leaders killed, and racist terrorism crashed into civilian's workplaces and front porches daily. And in the devastation of perpetuated victimization and ideological exhaustion, American people were able to find their strength, solice, and eventual transcendence in unwaivering non-violence. Not the kind that sits confined to a writing desk passively refusing to recognize violence, but the kind that puts itself in harms way and fights with the power of passion and perserverance. How does our country ressurect the historical personal strength of its own citizens, who were once able to stand up after being beaten, look evil in the eye, and ask: "Are you done yet, because we have somewhere to go"?

Mahalia Jackson -
Precious Lord (mp3)

Jan 29, 2007

R is for What Do You Want to Make? Make It Now.

Simon Hoegsberg from Tower Of Babel

OK, I'm way SERious. Did you GET the memo? I didn't really send one, but I thought about it. The crisp white paper was going to pronounce importance while the body described how Window XP's "Critical Stop" sound is amazingly similar to the stringed beat that introduces Lauren Hill's song Everything Is Everything. And it was going to note that Clinic's clenched jaw pushes out mashed lyrics much like a meat grinder or a senile old man noshing a banana without his dentures. The document would conclude by asking why you didn't create anything of meaning during the enormous amount of time granted to you today. Sincerely, Kyle.

Barr - Is All For Updated (mp3)

Clinic - Jigsaw Man (mp3)

Jan 26, 2007

Waiting for a Day of Clarity

Daniel Zeller - Containment Field (2005)

Delorentos - Any Other Way (mp3): If my mind was a little clearer, I'd keep this confused Irish desperation at an arm's length... along with tropical ideals promised by inevitably self-deprecating friendships and the fuzz of escalating waves of whiskey. Alas. Clarity wipes life empty of absurdity, unreasonable dreams, and crusty spots of tragic beauty.

Dustin Kensrue - Pistol (mp3): I love when honest altfolk curses at me and demands I fill my cup with southern harmonica. Otherwise I don't think I'd ever choose such a dusty place myself, and my shoes would maintain much too glossy a sheen.

Jan 24, 2007

Madison Live Music Calendar

Erwin Wurm - Convertible Fat Car (Porche) [2005]

After accidentally missing Jolie Holland & St. Vincent recently, I decided it mandatory to pull together a list of upcoming live music in Madison for planning purposes...

Jan 25 (Thurs) 7PM: Denise Jackson (Madison's American Idol contestant) @ UW's Great Hall
Jan 25 (Thurs) 8PM: Summer Hymns @ King Club
Jan 25 (Thurs) 9PM: Tim O'Reagan of The Jayhwaks @ Cafe Montmartre
Jan 26 (Fri) 7PM: Contessa Says Showcase ft. Buffali and Nick Venturella @ Commonwealth Gallery
Jan 27 (Sat) 10PM: Lake Baikal, Batten Revue @ Darling Hall (Milwaukee)
Jan 29 (Mon) 9PM: Cougar & The Braceletes @ High Noon
Jan 30 (Tues) 9.30PM: Denise Jackson (Madison's American Idol contestant) @ Cafe Montmartre

Feb 2 (Fri) 10PM: Sleeping in the Aviary, The Dials, Pale Young Gentlemen, His & Her Vanities @ High Noon
Feb 3 (Sat) 8PM: Hayward Williams w/ James Travis @ Motherfools
Feb 9 (Fri) 9.45PM: The Asylum Street Spankers @ High Noon

Feb 13 (Tues) 7.30PM: Damnwells & Blue October @ Barrymore
Feb 25 (Sun) 8PM: Erin McKeown @ High Noon
Feb 25 (Sun) 8PM: Apples In Stereo @ UW's Great Hall
Feb 26 (Mon) 8PM: Apples In Stereo @ High Noon

Feb 27 (Tues) 7PM: Richard Buckner @ High Noon Saloon, Madison
Feb 27 (Tues): ad astra per aspera & Master Zaster Blaster @ Darling Hall (Milwaukee)

Mar 8 (Fri) 8PM: Cold War Kids & Tokyo Police Club @ The Annex
Mar 9 (Fri): Bishop Allen @ Club 770
Mar 16 (Fri): TV On The Radio @ Orpheum
Mar 17 (Sat): Of Montreal @ Pabst Theater (Milwaukee)
Mar 21 (Wed) 9PM: Amiina @ Cafe Montmartre
Mar 22 (Thurs) 8PM: The Long Winters @ High Noon
Mar 24 (Sat): Girl Talk @ Club 770

Apr 14 (Sat): Leslie & The Lys @ Darling Hall (Milwaukee)
Apr 21 (Sat): The Decemberists & My Brightest Diamond @ The Orpheum
Apr 21 (Sat): Andrew Bird @ Alverno College (Milwaukee)
Apr 26 (Thurs): Ted Leo & The Pharmacists @ Club 770
Apr 27-29 (Fri-Sun): Coachella!

Summer Hymns - Pity & Envy (mp3)

Summer Hymns - Start Swimming (mp3)

Jan 23, 2007

Everyday Trials

Chris Garneau - Relief (2007)

After a life of silent reflection, he turned himself upward in social disobedience and demanded to know, what the hell is this? Receiving no answer except more time, an uncomfortably unfalsifiable logic loop shuddered him to a halt. Apparently, the corresponding neural circuit was simultaneously working to accept the continuation of its own existence as demonstrating insufficient reason for blind faith but plenty to keep looking. And that's the closest anyone has ever come.

Chris Garneau - We Don't Try (mp3): Remember his indie conversation with Meg Baird? Make sure to buy the album (out today) locally, at Stricly Discs or B-Side in Madison, or online at Absolutely Kosher Records]

Jan 22, 2007

Field Trip to the Emotional Desert Landscape.

Our hopes will be packed into 5x5ft tents and our dreams paraded in front of us on a desert stage. Our favourite indie bands will beat the dust out of rock all day, Air will offer an eerily transcendental aria at twilight, Hot Chip will harness Girl Talk to unleash a disburdening dance emancipation, and Bjork and CocoRosie will take turns howling at the moon. For one weekend our heat-soaked dreams will be duller than our reality. Who's in?

Bjork - Joga (mp3)

Jan 20, 2007

Help Me To Make It Clear What We're Doing Here

Claude Cahun - What Do You Want From Me? (1928)

Are you reading this? I've been sitting here thinking of you for a while now. I've written several drafts that I concluded you wouldn't have liked. I'm not sure you realize how strange it is to sit here and rearrange pixels with hopes of reaching you through your retinas. Maybe you do, but I don't know you well enough to tell. It would be nice to hear from you and to learn a few of your thoughts. If you are as shy as you seem, you're welcome to respond with a single letter and I will know that you are indeed present, but prefer to remain silent during the proceedings.

Memphis - I'll Do Whatever You Want (mp3)

Bonnie Prince Billy - I See A Darkness (mp3)

The Ruby Suns - It's Hard To Let You Know (mp3)

Jan 18, 2007


Natalie Jeremijenko - Tree Logic (1999)

Hydrogen. Bacteria. Chlorophyll. Photosynthesis. Atmosphere. Symbiosis. Multi-cellularity. Algae. Terrestrial Plants. Reptiles. Mammals. Primates. Humans. Egocentrism. Destiny. United States. Iraq War. Democratic Majority. Cheese-Itz. The Judiciary Committee looking a little more like the British House of Lords without all of the goofy duck-duck-goose knee flexions and extensions (probably because everyone already knows the Attorney General is the goose). Romantic Optimism. This sentence.

Lost in the Trees - Tall Trees (mp3)

The Swimmers - Fighting Trees (mp3)

Let's All Be Special Art Rebels Together.

Simon Hoegsberg - The Tower Of Babel 2

BARR - Half of Two Times Two (mp3): This is an empowerment anthem stripped down to the basics, thoughtfully designed to fold in its edges and fit squarely in your pocket. The strength of a gospel choir is pruned to the poignance of a single spoken word, the complexity of rich metaphor replaced with blunt clarity, the spectacle of raised fists effectively articulated with the inherent biological unity of our synchronized blinking.

Jan 16, 2007

What Will You Miss When Things Are Fine?

Maria Friberg - Sill Lives 3 (2006)

Yesterday was my brother Joe's birthday. And if he would have survived the day of his birth, he'd surely convey a weathered 25 years of age today. He would loosen his tie and lean gently against the counter with his lanky elbows bent at nearly 90 degrees. In the middle of a calm and compassionate story about his day, a quote from a Matt Pond PA song would pass seamlessly without me noticing. It would remind him of college both in playful tone and sly execution. His stories would usually be a little quieter than I'd like, but I would miss plenty and respond a little too loud. But a swaggering Tom Waits impression after a glass of whiskey would be what he was known for. For anyone who took the time to listen, most important things would come to the surface when his exaggerated brooding cracked into a high-pitched giggle. And they'd all be returned to dreams when he sheepishly covered his face with a comforter the next morning. He would have bought me the Richard Buckner album for Christmas and gently explained what I'd been missing. After reading this post, he'd carefully note that he would have posted the song "Mile" instead, and he'd almost always be right.

Richard Buckner - Town (mp3)

Matt Pond PA - The Hollows (mp3)

Jan 13, 2007

G.E.N.E.R.A.T.I.V.E Art

Jonathan Shipper - Raining Blood (2006)

Jonathan Shipper translated Slayer's "Raining Blood" to a player piano reel and connected it to a kinetic sculpture so the form moves according to the song's musical structure [video available at his website]. The resulting flail lands somewhere between a piece of DNA encoding musical taste and a rave-induced seizure.

Brian Eno's name is irrevocably tied the grandeur of David Byrne, John Cale, and now Will Wright (creator of the upcoming interactive art videogame called Spore), but I've never much enjoyed his music. Conceptually, Brian Eno's generative art explores the very algorithims that create and underlie life itself, but often seems to get lost in life's inherent monotony. The music supposedly depends heavily on the observer, capitalizing on the the fact that the last few bites of your hamburger always look like the shape of Wisconsin.

"If you put something onto a CD people will tend to think it's probably music... If you put something in a frame and hang it in an art galler people will think it's a painting. And they will reserve a special type of attention for that which they don't give to their computer screens or their shoes." - Brian Eno

In a seminar for The Long Now Foundation, an organization devoted to long-term thinking (slower better vs. faster cheaper) that he co-founded, Brian Eno helps Will Wright give a preview of his revolutionarily generative computer game "Spore" inspired by Charles and Ray Eames' Powers of Ten. And the fact that Brian Eno will be writing the game's soundtrack is conceptually exciting.

Brian Eno & Will Wright - Long Now Foundation Seminar (mp3)

Brian Eno - Burning Airlines Give You So Much More (1974 mp3)

Brian Eno Music For Airports (1990 mp3)

Slayer - Raining Blood (mp3)

Melodie (Tammy Wynette cover) - D.I.V.O.R.C.E. (mp3)

Jan 11, 2007

I Want To Raise An Army

Ryan Kamstra & Margaux Williamson - I Want An Army (2006 video)

The NEW DIRECTION that I propose involves Barbara Boxer continuing to challenge the frigidity of Condoleeza's barren uterus and giving the Reservists a break by sending in a surge of dancing rabbits.

"She doesn't think family, she thinks house, minivan, garage. She doesn't think boyfriend she thinks marriage, mortgage, refrigerator. The bodies seem to glide around these objects, they seem somehow absent. She doesn't think body, she thinks haircut, piercing, tattoo. Nouns crowd her, cancel her." - From Ryan Kamstra's "Working Girl" (2002)

Ryan Kamstra - I Want An Army (quicktime)

Tomboyfriend - End of Poverty (sendspace mp3)

Jan 8, 2007

I'm Sorry, Man-Made Jesus

Norbert Kox - This Is The Man (2004) [artist statement]

Norbert Kox is an artist (from Wisconsin!) whose paintings illuminate just how much the moden image of Jesus resembles a golden calf. The underlying critiqued image is Warner Sallman's version of Jesus (called Head of Christ) that was mass produced in 1940 and has subsequently become the accepted face of Jesus (no, we don't have pictures of him). "This Is The Man" incorporates the face of Sallman, a white man from Chicago, into the religious icon that Salman himself created. The new image discusses the popular and problematic projection onto the Bible that shapes modern organized religion; and marvels at the power of an artist's image to define a religion. In an environment where it is "sacreligious" to question the icon of Jesus and simplistic dichotomies splatter the critical with images of the anti-Christ, Norbert speaks truth to faith. The fervor of his belief (not the lack of it) allows him to play with religious imagery... and his challenge of blind faith paints a much more Jesus-like picture than Warner Sellman's mass-produced version.

The wording on the painting reads: This is the dupe who brought the image of the Anti Christ to the world in 1940. This is the face of Warner Sallman superimposed on his idol. Sallman plagiarized and popularized in 1924-1940. This is the image of the beast.

Even when recovering Catholics put down their rosaries, we always carry around a deeply complex mental schema that periodically ripens with moral rigidity, ritualistic behavior, and weighty iconography. A wave of this led me last night to scribble down my repentance for the day and wonder: How ridiculous would my confessions sound if I went to confession? And how long would this take me every day to write down? Here are some gems (if you are a priest, let me know what I can do to resolve these):

1) I apologize for wishing the stray eviction notice that I found belonged to my neighbor (who may or may not be a deaf drug dealer) because of the volume and incessant frequency of phone rings.

2) I apologize for deliberately waiting two hours to return a phone call because I was bitter that it take place on his terms when I was the one who had initiated the contact.

3) I apologize for being short with my mother whose efforts to get me to go to IKEA are clearly in good faith. I believed my protest to be mildly necessary in order to ease her eventual disapointment when I will not be ale to contain my negativity for the cheap consumer products when exposed to them in bulk. I am also sorry that I will probably purchase something cheap and plastic in order to satisfy her and subsequently hurt the tireless efforts of the working poor in this country.

4) I apologize for (too quickly into a phone conversation) asking my sister if she had the money to pay me back for a loan and therefore giving the impression that this was why I had called when it was really just to say hello.

5) I apologize for being too critical of the amateur DJ at the bar who was too busy playing the hip-DJ-role to be successful at her only job of seamlessly transition between songs. And for saying iTunes could do a better job.

6) I apologize for making my support for a friend contingent upon the amount (or lack of) support given to me in a similar situation, when I probably never clearly articulated the initial need.

7) I apologize for suggesting that instead of a red-and-green-Christmas-themed Ice Cream Special of the Day at Culver's, they should try a wine-flavored ice cream with little bits of communion wafer. Apparently that is sacreligious for some reason... I thought it might border on the opposite.

8) I apologize to myself for knawing on the end of a pen that I knew was my favourite, rendering it practically useless in public. And I'm sorry to my dental hygenist for my callous disregard for teeth damage that made her job harder.

9) I apologize for silently cursing the furniture salesman who sold the couch that I had decided (without telling him or making obvious) should be mine even though I no concrete plans to purchase it in a timely manner.

CocoRosie - Jesus Loves Me (sendspace mp3)

Page France - Jesus (sendspace mp3)

Jan 5, 2007

It's All Aptly Named

Boogie - from "It's All Good" (2006)

Panda Bear - Comfy In Nautica (mp3): Panda Bear, the unsuprisingly zoological persona of Animal Collective solo-artist Noah Lennox, is set to release a third album into the wild this spring. Characteristically complex in layered structure and contrastingly paired musical themes, its loud self-promotion can be peeled back to reveal a mature sensibility that is as breezily nautical as it is forebodingly comfortable.

Jan 3, 2007

Fuck What You Heard, You Were Lied To (Brought To You By The Letter U & Number 2)

Philip-Lorca diCorcia - Brian (1988)

I feel like Herman Dune's songs could be found collecting dust in my dad's record closet. The album "Giant" seems like a long lost notation from my early musical timeline, right next to Marlo Thomas' Free To Be You And Me. This feeling is potentiated by Dune's beautifully Sesame Streetish video... and that my dad was also a skinny dude with a beard.

Herman Dune - This Will Never Happen (sendspace mp3)

The Islands - Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby (sendspace mp3) [video]: This post-Unicorn piece runs in a similarly juicy vein, bopping about human fragility and picking dandelions. The video could easily piggy back Dune's in an episode brought to you by the Indie Music Community.