Feb 27, 2007

Thinking About Thinking About Getting Old

Iris Schieferstein - from Hundskerle II installation (2005)
(click to zoom in)

It's another big day for religion. The Virgin Mary made an appearance on a burned pizza pan, apparently resurrecting from the tomb she shares in Jerusalem with her son Jesus and grandson Judah. The Philadelphia band Dr. Dog sounds like the celebration of a historical resurrection should; swinging violently from down-turned lyrics to passionate wailing, and from disciplined clapping to pounding on the beer-soaked wood of a bar piano. And today the possibility of a canine surgeon seems more reasonable than Catholicism.

Dr. Dog
- Die, Die, Die (mp3) [buy the new album "We All Belong" released today]

Dr. Dog - My Old Ways (mp3) [video]

[So I guess last night's Apples in Stereo show was fantastic.]

Feb 25, 2007

The Danielson Familie

Danielson - Did I Step On Your Trumpet Music Video (2006)

Danielson can get an atheist to praise the Lord in a way I once thought only Mahalia Jackson could. Brother Danielson (Daniel Smith) adds an authentically strange indie sensibility to the cuteness inherent in a band full of red-haired siblings. And the result is fantastically genuine and largely indefinable performance art/music. The only reason it's necessary to note that they are hardcore Christian is because their religion motivates to create instead of destruct in a way I've historically thought impossible of the modern religious. The family publicly prays in convoluted indie lyrics, in smoky rock clubs, and in a way that one truly needs to see to understand. If you unfortunately have to wake up in the morning for church, you'll soon instead be able to watch their documentary Danielson: A Family Movie (out in April) which gets remarkably close to band's live performance. I'm hoping the release will include a new line of handmade comfort stuff and am actually looking forward to an evangelical knock at my door. Let me know if you're interested in a film screening.

Danielson - Did I Step On Your Trumpet (mp3) [buy the newest "Ships" featuring Sufjan Stevens]

Brother Danielson - Things Against Stuff (mp3) [I miss the Nine Fruit Tree]

Feb 24, 2007

Fate or Faith?

Damien Hirst - Jesus Dies On The Cross The Burial (2005)

I concede that winter's challenges are certainly exciting. As long as I don't have to leave the apartment, its ominous frigidity reminds me of how comfortable I am on the inside. It's cold in the same deeply persevering vein as down-tempo electronica. The brick building across the way shines warmly-lit windows shadowed in the corners with white. And tonight there's even lightning.

Kate Havnevik - New Day (mp3) [For the Grey's Anatomy fans... preorder the new album Melankton out March 27th]:

Whitest Boy Alive - Don't Give Up (mp3)

Royksopp - Sparks (mp3) [Did anyone else notice The Knife cameo on The Understanding's sweet album artwork?]

Ror-Shak - Fate or Faith (mp3) [preorder the new album Deep out March 13th]

Feb 22, 2007


Maria Friberg - Embedded #5 (2006)

The state of the union is most transparent when housewives of orange county use the word decadence to esteem themselves. This weekend's annual charade in hollow celebrity worship is partly orchestrated by Orprah Winfrey, who unfortunately clouds her potentially powerful messages with a tragic taste for the high thread-count bedding of riches and fame. Millions of Americans tonight will focus on Julia Roberts perpetuating the idea that the pinnacle of achievement is dressing in an extravagant temporary gown and receiving millions of dollars via a little metal statue because she once pretended to be a character in someone else's story. The root of decadence is decay; a moral and artistic deterioration caused by excess, self-indulgence, and lack of responsibility. These attributes are now woven proudly into artless handbags, embroidered with 'D-I-V-A' for our daughters, and faithfully promoted to CEO.

Elizabeth Harper - Trouble In The Palace (mp3)

Because I'm supposed to be unwaveringly proud to be an American, I tell you a story about a celebrity today. Jim Carey formed the darkly maniacal character for his upcoming movie 23 by listening to Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Skinny Puppy... a group who depth is just as new-wave as metal. If you're interested in Jim Carey's The Number 23, send me your mailing address and I'll drape you in excess with a free movie pass to see it, a copy of the soundtrack, a t-shirt, a hat, and a poster. The address is only used to send you the free goods, don't worry...

Blond Redhead - 23 (mp3)

Nine Inch Nails - Me, I'm Not (mp3)

Feb 21, 2007


Because I'm in a terribly destructive mood and would surely output something convoluted and incoherent (more so than usual), today's recommendation comes from Aaliyah Sams, who celebrated with the Harlem Shakes as they released their debut Burning Birthdays EP and launched their current tour with Deerhoof.

A few things I enjoyed about seeing the Harlem Shakes
by NYC Blog Correspondent Aaliyah Sams

1. The show started on time.
2. I am poor. Entertainment that is good AND cheap is hard to come by.
3. The lead singer drinks Gatorade... is it in you?
4. They have a fuckin trumpet player.
5. I felt like they were having a good time [side note: I hate those bands that make me feel like I have to entertain THEM].
6. The lead singer sounds like Frankie Lymon... singer of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
7. Every song is good. Nuff said.
8. Go see them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harlem Shakes - Carpetbaggers (mp3)

Harlem Shakes - Sickos (mp3)

Feb 19, 2007

Fragmentation, Destablization, Dissociation

Annushka Peck [from Milwaukee]

I was waiting at a downtown intersection in my car this morning bashing my head against the steering wheel to the beat of Crystal Castles when the green lights flicked on and literally began to seize(ure). I stayed behind my white line waiting for the towering stoplights to crash craters in the student-swarmed pavement, but the world didn't break apart. I sat, envisioning robot innards bursting molten plastic indigestion, Macy's celebrity-faced hydrogen balloons careening into cell phone towers, Esther Williams synchronized neural demyelination and its resultant electrical hurricane, and award show losers tap dancing on metal tears until they spontaneously combust. And then I realized that while the Crystal Castles' glitch-screams threaten to cause traditional pillars to shudder, their disturbance produces a caustic aftermath far deeper than physical destruction. "Alice Practice" grates emotional chords into fragmented mirror shards that remind us of the inevitability of our own molecules dissociating from each other and seeping into the cracks of our keyboards. And how hopelessly pissed we should be.

Crystal Castles - Alice Practice (mp3) [sweet band artwork]

Crystal Castles - Air War (mp3)

Feb 16, 2007

Pop Rock That Sells (to Love and Hate).

Erik Lang - Touchez Pas Ma Baguette II (Flaunt)

The Damnwells showed up in East Madison this week with freshly ironed jeans and an obvious new agenda. Accentuating the volume and universality of their friendly rock, the band pitched a chain of three-minute singles to a young Barrymore crowd clearly pale from high school halogens. The cleaner and bigger sound seemed to sell (along with the pathetic pleads for iTunes downloads), but an impressively impassioned Doors impersonation asserted real talent. A sudden drop of the driving guitar opened up the radio equation to a more experimental aesthetic, but the nature of the evening quickly popped the pieces back into routine with calculated compartmentalization.

A dramatically lit Blue October took its turn captivating the stage, with lead Justin Fursetenfu's black eye shadow hiply challenging the formality of his crisp black suit. The teenage allure was inevitable by effectively pairing violent angst with pop expression, but the show was surprisingly powerful both in sheer rock experience and in the crevices where it manged to diverge from mainstream genre uniformity. Justin's staggeringly stoic presence frequently suggested the style of Pavarotti and created vocals that were sometimes emo, sometimes metal, and sometimes operatic (or at least enya-tic). But the sound was usually more like a comfortable Dave Matthews Band with a vocal sampler, a headache, and a frat Mohawk.

The Damnwells - Golden Days (mp3)

The Damnwells - Sleep Singing (mp3)

Blue October - Hate Me (mp3)

Feb 14, 2007

My Brokered Heart

Pepon Osorio - My Beating Heart (2002)

It's always a delight to be mocked by the grinningly greased repair man who has just charged you $300 to repair a windshield wiper. And to watch him diverting his inappropriate laughter to what he uncomfortably asserts to be the ridiculous ($15) amount of sales tax. As you sit down to file your own taxes, the slick young newsman mentions the number of people killed with your contribution last year. His smooth semantic dance segues seamlessly to a haloed tribute for Donald Trump and Anna Nicole Smith. You usually enjoy the transparency of the nightly televised parade of corporate warriors; taking time to comment on their latest face paint and boob-jobs. But tonight the reality of your own denial-starched uniform (Check Number 1401) is tucked neatly into an envelope and your mind drops its pen to turn momentarily back to frustrated love.

The Acorn - Brokered Heart (mp3)

ODAWAS - Alleluia (mp3)

Feb 12, 2007

Matthew Barney's Art (and Music) in Madison

Matthew Barney - Cremaster 2 film still (1999)
[Steve Tucker as the voice of Johnny Cash singing over the phone to a jailed Gary Gilmore]

Matthew Barney's own personal restraint, Matthew Ryle, stood behind a strangely normal wooden podium in a Madison lecture hall on Thursday and illuminated the studio world behind Barney's sweeping metaphorical landscapes (arbitrarily focusing on Cremaster 2). It's his job as Production Designer to execute surrealist whims, craft a timely decision-making process, and polish plastic surfaces to a shiny fetish.

For the devoted Barney equivalent of Trekkies, it's a test of faith to see Cremaster's suface wiped clean of extra-terrestrial wax. The rough napkin sketches of fossil fuel-based objects are suddenly revealed to be products not only of artistic insiration, but of a funding strategy to preserve and perpetuate the work and negotiations contingent on the local bureau of land management. These realizations balance a project of boundless innovation with realist flaw.

At this point the moderator interjected in reminder of the vague academic topic of the evening (Object-ness) and the Ryle responded by excruciatingly pointing out everything in the film that is an "object". Yes, the gas station is an object. The 35mm film is an object, and the score, and the salt-fields, and the characters themselves. But I was more interested the unique Barney experience as an impressive coordination of systems of objects, not the individual objects themselves.

With the of blurred convention of postmoderism, Barney's art happens before and after the individual art object (the film) itself is compete. It evolves outside the theater in commentary of itself and its art environment, currated in museus and art houses, packaged in sculpture, and distributed in untapped distribution channels. And this fluid mixing of the conceptual and logistical elevates complex meaning beyond its paint-on-a-wall counterparts.

The very thesis of exploding how art is created and digested is obvious in the film's elaborate metaphor as content and the overwhelmingly slow motion of the camera, but it also spills out of the screen and into the cracks in our pre-formed intellectual containers. One box is drained of everything but pure scarcity in order to support surrounding panels of sustainability and associated elitist hierarcy. Another series of boxes is cheaply reproduced, but distributed into living rooms throughout a democracy. And my silent favourite societal container is dimly lit and full of critics, their shiny bald heads and muted burgundy sweaters scowling penetrating but legitimate points while visually not considering responses.

Matthew Barney considers himself a Sculptor, not a Film-maker. And the reason becomes clear to me, as the audience of Madison film students stress scripts, that film is final and the transient tranformative element is gone once the performance is completed. Barney remains an innovative new breed of sculptor whose tools craft an amorphous object of multi-faceted experience, and film is simply one medium in his ethic-questionable art domination.

Patti Griffin - Burgundy Shows (mp3): Matthew Barney's work integrates his obvious inspiration from expert musical performance. An amazing taste (fused by composer Johnathon Bepler) has overtly included Will Olham, Bjork, The Budpast Opera, Agnostic Front, and Murphy's Law... In Cremaster 2, he prominately features the icon of Johnny Cash, an acapella vocal by Patty Griffin, Steve Tucker from Morbid Angel, and Slayer's Dave Lombardo on an incredible bass-heavy drumset duet with a swarm of buzzing bees.

The Bees (UK) - Who Cares What The Question Is? (mp3): If you've ever romanticized about the adventerous life of your favourite band en route to the venue, The Bees' music video for this song explains it all... in claymation.

Feb 8, 2007

In Need Of Eucrasia? We Will Be Your Friends.

David Drebin - Waitress

A lonley Hippocrates might have stumbled upon the bioliquid equivalent of friendship and defined it as the fifth medical humor, positing its production dependent on ingesting foods from a communal table. He could have noted that maintaining a sufficent amount flowing energetically through phlegm-clogged winter veins would be necessary to ward off a dyscrasiac humor inbalance, the cause of all human disease. Though its attributes may be difficult to tease from sanguine blood or choleric yellow bile, it clearly plays a role in the hydration of dancing the night away and the nourishment of hopeful dreams.

Justice vs. Simian -
We Are Your Friends (mp3): This naive track and fondly familiar video is for anyone nostalgic for lighting firecrackers under bathroom doors, sleeping in living-room furniture forts, chinese-food delivery bags filled with mountain dew cans, or taking shots with a plastic rhino. And it's dedicated to finding a way to make old stories feel welcome in the liability of your newly whitewashed home.

Panthers - Thank Me With Your Hands [MSTRKRFT remix] (mp3): Send evidence of your dance prowess or lack thereof (anything... a picture, a video, a story) to imjustsayinisall@gmail.com and win a free copy of MSTRKRFT's new CD "The Looks" and an understated band t-shirt.

Thunderheist - Suenos Dulces (mp3): Sweet weekday dreams of the weekend are made of caffeine and these synths.

Iron Horse - Kissing The Lipless (mp3): Strangely, this classic Shins song almost sounds better in bluegrass. This spectacular cover features a gleefully proficient banjo building to charm when the occassional tail end of a phrase is subtlely tagged with a howlingly pitched falsetto harmony. [Email me if you're looking for tickets to tomorrow's Shins show in Milwaukee]

Feb 6, 2007

You Think That's Bad...

Matthew Barney - Cremaster 2 Still (1999)

Apparently, comparing the size of our recent kill has been replaced by comparing record snowfalls in our respective hometowns. We certainly were lucky that all the snowplows were busy plowing when the garage's roof caved in from all the snow. When is the season that socially mandates we publicly compare something with meaningful weight; the depth of our life philosophy or the amount and creativity of our efforts to advance thought and culture this week. I expect this week's winner will be be Chazen's Thursday showing of Matthew Barney's Cremaster 2 and subsequent lecture by Matthew Ryle (of Barney's studio) about the interdisciplinarity of object and film. That's at least a seven-foot trout under sixty inches of fresh snow.

Track a Tiger - All These Accidents (mp3)

Bill Callahan (of Smog) - From The Rivers To The Oceans (mp3): A track from his upcoming "Woke On A Whaleheart".

Feb 3, 2007

The Curse of Beauty

Keith Carter - Phonograph (2005)

Clem Snide - The Curse of Beauty (mp3) : The record has found its grinding resting place and you haven't even noticed. Analytical expectation has been gradually stripped track-by-track to reveal the naked, vulnerable purity of the day. You silently make a fleeting (but no less real) commitment to devote your entire self to the epic prolonging of the beauty of this moment. Immobilized and preserved in the ether of awe, you sit void until drifting thoughts of inadequacy seep in to alter the delicate membrane potential of your hypothalmus and initiate a fading of self-referential memory and eventual sleep. Tomorrow you will remember fondly, but never again like now.