Mar 31, 2007

Weightless Social Density

Saskia Jorda - Obstetrics 1 (2005)

Not to be confused with Madison's The Box Social, Philadelphia's Hail Social unpacks disco grooves that keep the dance going without all the uncomfortable sweat. Throughout the new album Modern Love & Death, lead Dayve Hawk's acrobatic vocals contortion around the corners of step-regimented bass blips until the musical batter is whipped into a fine, sweet moose. In downtempo "Paralyzed", the stoic moose is rocketed into a seemingly still 25,000MPH astrological orbit... remaining outside but integrally focused on the gravity of human nature. While the title-track "Modern Love & Death" exposes the grandiose Scissor Sisters influence, album-standout "Heaven" honestly captures the nebulous hollow of disco loneliness. Chaotic attempts at description aside, the sound successfully pairs emotive self-reflection with toe-tapping glee. And like most great efforts, it never thinks it's good enough.

Hail Social - Heaven (mp3)

freakin' free Aqua Teen Hunger Force value meal... complete with a beer koozie, beach ball, colon, poster, CD, and pair of socks. Just email me [ImJustSayinIsAll(at)gmail(dot)com] the address to which it should be mailed.

Mar 30, 2007

Zero 7 - Left Behind

Zero 7 (ft Jose Gonzalez) - Left Behind

He used to meticulously pair his socks and make plans for becoming God. Disappointed scowls taught him at a young age never to tell anyone that this was the only way to satiate his existence. It was non-negotiable, so there was really no need to utter the words. The repression of his life motivation gradually hardened into an outward shell of moralistic behavior that was never satisfied by food drives or charity donations or smiling at strangers. After years of unfulfilled silent expectation, his own limitations began surfacing as back aches and car payments. He found himself working at an office where he could hide in his computer and have complete control over moving files of various proportions and functions. He imagined them each to be priorities, meanings, and importances and he placed them all in order. With one delusion flipped onto another, disapointment was overcome and sleep finally came natural. But sometimes he couldn't help thinking he was living a reality that wasn't real.

Loney, Dear - I am John (mp3) [video stream]

Mar 27, 2007

Dad's In A Bad Mood

Do-Ho Suh - Floor (1997-2000)

Richard Thompson - Dad's Gonna Kill Me (mp3): As my (not Bagh) Dad puts it, Richard Thompson has been making songs like this since the 1600s. It's just in his blood. And his blood has always nourished his fingers to pluck honest folk rock with plenty of power. Too bad the Department of Double-Speak has already appointed Ted Nugent as the resident musician for the Ministry of Peace.

Mar 26, 2007

Airport Ergonomics

Damien Hirst - The Eucharist (2005)

The One AM Radio - Echoing Airports (mp3): Hrishikesh Hirway's lonely lyrics wander through terminals packed full of emptiness and bounce off plastic walls painted with life-sized postcards of oceans. He beats his filler magazine’s lack-of-substance against the stainless arm of the chair bank, giving fellow passengers answers to superficial questions they pondered but were too polite to ask. Hours are ignored as they happen. Excessive sitting balances the jolt of being suddenly flung across space. Today is the ergonomic luggage for carrying a swimsuit to its beach. And the moments are rushing past overhead.

Mar 25, 2007

Hold Up, Wait a Minute

Dan Colen - Secrets and Cymbals, Smoke and Scissors [My Friend Dash's WallIn The Future] (2004-2006)

Girl Talk tore Madison up tonight. Tickets were scarce, jeans were rolled, glowing neon bracelets were snapped, the stage was rushed, speakers were knocked over, sound was unplugged, shirts were ripped, crowds were surfed, and Nirvana and Justin Timberlake were sampled (simultaneously). The Madison crowd brought the energy and Girl Talk brought the reason.

Man man co-headlined the impressive bill with a yelping energy that could only be eclipsed by the most energetic live DJ show around. On any other night their innovative sound, costume coordination, and impassioned performance would be the focus of the post. Perhaps tomorrow.

Girl Talk - Hold Up (mp3)

Girl Talk - Bounce That (mp3)

Man Man - Boom Box (mp3)

Mar 23, 2007

The Blogroll as Remedy For Digital Thigmotaxis

Vladmir - A Portland Vladmaster Performance (2005)

Life is a series of manageable stills when viewed through the lens of a View-Master (TM). Portland artist "Vladimir" has chosen this format to focus her audience's attention; handmaking her own picture stories and holding large performances where individuals can move through them under the same soundtrack. Experience this live art in downtown Madison tomorrow, Saturday March 24th @ 7:30 ($5) at the Madison Center for Creative and Culture Arts. Among others, the event will present Lucifugia Thigmotaxis, the story of a cockroach named Stanley.

Thigmotaxis is the need for pressure on all sides of your body in order to feel safe. Perhaps this is why a hug can be such a powerful remedy. Come give Madison's Pale Young Gentlemen some love as they release their first (but not amateur) CD tonight at Cafe Montmartre. Judging from the myspace tracks, the album is dipped in a self-reflective after-work beer and its corresponding playful secondwind. The casual living-room piano and affectionate vocals welcome you to into the growing world of indie pop-folk without leaving the friendly intimate city of Madison, Wisconsin.

The Pale Young Gentlemen - Saturday Night (Isthmus "Mad Track")

Mar 22, 2007

Indie Conversation: Matt Berninger and Bianca Casady

The National - Fake Empire (mp3) [From the upcoming new album "Boxer"]: After a long night of overdues and lunch preparations, he carefully settles beside her; trying to touch without shoving. Her peace quickly assures his pulse and he follows her sleepy tiptoes in diamond shoes.

CocoRosie - Rainbow Warriors (mp3) [From the upcoming new album "The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn"]: His bassy heatbeat squeezes under her eyelids and beats upon her hazy Celtic lullaby. Her dreams are strong enough to continue, though they're shoved in a new direction. She transforms into a delicate MIA wandering down a surreal watercolor path beneath birds that chirp like fax machines and dial tones. But this time he's at her heels.

There's No One Left To Blame

Jon Pylypchuk - I Miss You Danger And All Its Elements (2006)

A refreshing rain drips nostalgia for the salacious, and this track uses pop to coyly lure retired danger out of its aged photograph and drenched polo shirt. It sits stiff in a yellowed sixties style and folded lawnchair at the fairgrounds under the shadow of a carefully propped umbrella and pointed in the direction of a familiar alt-country cover band. Courage becomes the act of deciding to leave the apartment to deal with the memories the world conjures, not actually experiencing today's weather on the skin. But it loves, longs, and sips a diet-coke.

Mar 21, 2007

A Majestic Vision

Caroline McCarthy - Promise (2003)

Matt Gerding and Scott Leslie, the fresh owners of Madison's Majestic Theater, will soon begin constuction on their towering vision for Madison music. They're committed to making the historical property at 115 King Street a catalyst in the growing Madison music scene. And they'll start by adding a unisex bathroom.

Symbolically removing the DJ booth and Club from the theater's title, the project is sending a strong message to the community about a changed format (and reputation). The concept is to restore the space as a downtown music landmark and a needed mid-sized (600-capacity) live entertainment venue. After polishing the potential under the current shroud of confusing Disney decor, stifled crowd patterns, and concerned whispers; the Majestic will be able stage national acts with local openers in up to four shows per week starting in September 2007.

Beyond construction, the pair is just as interested in how the renovated space will interact with Madison. They bring music industry connections to town (Gerding from a huge booking agency and Leslie from a pop rock band) and a commitment to partner with existing venues and promoters to make Madison what Leslie calls "the Austin of the North". To indie-rockers, this dry Texan air is absolute heaven for music-making (though not for bread-making) and importing some to Madison seems to be on a lot of people's minds.

But is liberal Madison forcing new concepts to strategically ignore hiphop and dance music (remember the tragically Footloosesque cabaret licence)? Leslie and Gerding's refreshing optimism seems able to deal with this challenge. Leslie assures that they understand the neighborhood concerns that are "not just a problem in Madison" while maintaining "Can I guarantee we aren’t going to book Jurassic 5? No".

With the new Majestic management, Madison gains not only a new venue, but a partner in tackling these overarching local music issues. Leslie sums up the vision by proclaiming "Anything we can do that's artistic -- we want to do it". And with that attitude, I say Welcome to Madison!

My Morning Jacket - Anytime (mp3): Anytime is a good time to move on.

Mar 19, 2007

The Art of Sleep and The Science of Sound

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES - The Art of Sleep (2006) [click above]

Sleeping in the Aviary - Another Girl (mp3): After the band acoustically carves the stage into separate piles of white and dark meat, this greasy bit is left to ooze fragrant juices and grit. Rational repulsion and irrational texture-sensitivities avert their eyes, but your reptilian adventurousness pushes itself to the front of the crowd to enjoy the underlying sweetness. It certainly helps to have a gizzard, a motorcycle helmet, and a tolerance for pre-show vomit. [This video explains it all.]

Note: Sleeping in the Aviary are probably idling somewhere in Colorado today along the path of their current national tour. One slice of venue-pizza at a time, these local all-stars are spreading the chaotic art of their Madison-basement rock from Seattle to Massachusetts. In fact, Seattle's "Indie Pop Press" just threw some weight behind the tour, saying that the band is a "viable contender for the Next Big Indie Thing".

Discover them before Pitchfork and reinvigorate their Midwestern spirit for the east-coast leg of the tour by attending one of the mid-tour Madison shows at the King Club on March 20th or The High Noon on April 2nd. If you absolutely can't catch a live show, their 2007 debut release "Oh, This Old Thing?" is definitely a worthy approximation.

Mar 17, 2007

Mammalian Diving Reflex

Hannah Hoch - Half Caste (1924)

I like to drink water as if I'm drowning in it. I like to imagine that the liquid surrounds me everywhere except the pit of my throat and I can just let the water pressure fulfill my equilibrium. With today being the day of whiskey, I'll have to imagine the Burren instead. Or I'll be swimming in the toilet.

The Swell Season - The Swell Season (mp3): This is the title track from the duet album between Czech singer/pianist Marketa Irglova and The Frames' Glen Hansard. Yes, they call themselves The Swell Season. It distinctly reminds me of the overly-emotive soundtrack theme from an old movie, but I can't remember which. Have you seen it?

Mar 15, 2007

Madison Banksy-Sampling (Seventology) is Depressingly Corporate

Seventology - Madison Guerrilla "Art" (2007)

Defacing guerrilla art tactics themselves instead of the corporate facades they are supposed to challenge, the recent 777s that conjured UK-visionary Banksy's style in the streets of Madison were painted in vain. According to the Seventology website whose secret was "revealed" today at noon, the high-priced Madison housing market will gain a tower of new Steve Brown apartments at the University Square site branded "Lucky" where "it's not just a residence, it's a state of mind". The jarring transition from Seventology's mysterious webpresence to the glossy new Lucky website demonstrates that this "state of mind" has nothing to do with art.

The Seventology (777) campaign's guerrilla art strategies achieved the desired stir. Gritty spray-stenciled tags sent curious passersby to a website where ambiguous text about "positive change and good fortune" reeked of religious evangelism mixed with casino promotions. Aggressively painted logos seemingly attempted to anti-brand existing corporate advertisements. The sophisticated coordination of a street team and integrated television spots inspired dread about another liquor sponsorship or new energy drink. But the announcement of the entire campaign's purpose to rile consumers into a frenzy around the chance of winning $7,700 in meaningless cash on 7/7/07 is even more depressing.

In a culture where marketing selling product outweighs art discussing ideas more than 100:1, can we ever trust public art's authenticity? How can we let an artform created to dialogue and critique marketing's ownership of our streets become marketing itself? Is there no hope left for a shared investment (with corresponding vigor and funding) to fill our field of view with thoughtful art for the sake of thoughtful art... instead of fading corporate slogans? My "Day of Perfection" will occur when public art can be respected with more meaning than a cash giveaway business incentive. We have some work to do in response, Madison.

The Frames - Fake (mp3)

Jens Lekman - Pocketful of Money (mp3)

Mar 13, 2007

No More Singing In The Yard

Hasan M. Elahi - Tracking Transience: Altitude (2002-ongoing)

Hasan M. Elahi documents the meals he eats and the toilets he uses. But why? As Good Magazine notes, he "isn't a terrorist and he can prove it". On 9/12, an anonymous tip reported that Hasan's storage unit was being packed with explosives by an Arab man. Hasan is not Arab, was born in Bangledesh, and now lives in New York... and certainly doesn't own an explosive. But after being repeatedly questioned by the FBI in Arabic (a language he doesn't speak), Hasan decided to start a concrete log of his innocence. If you're suspicious, his cellphone is equipped with a GPS tracker so you see his location RIGHT NOW. Though his intended irony is unclear as he describes a heightened feeling of safety since beginning the project, it clearly illuminates larger issues of profiling, proving innocence, and who has to deal with the consequences of riling civilian fear. [Thanks Muzammil]

Julie Doiron - No More (mp3) [melancholic harmony from the new 2007 album "Woke Myself Up"]

Denzel + Huhn - Dorian (mp3) [static rain from the new 2007 album "Paraport"]

Mar 11, 2007

The Headlock of Aggressive Sleep

Bonnie Prince Billy - Cursed Sleep (Director: Andy Bruntel)

Angela Darling - The Stars Are Far Apart (mp3): Hailing from California, Brandon reminds me a bit of Mike Kinsella... plucking a few thoughts as his breathing diary slows for the evening and rocking himself to sleep.

The Shins - Sleeping Lessons (mp3): This is the opening track from the 2007 release "Wincing The Night Away". It introduces a fresh experimental effort that applies the band's characteristic vocal to a broader exploration of the musical universe than just the rock stage.

Yoko Ono (ft Antony & The Johnsons) - Toy Boat (mp3): A collaboration from Ono's intriguing 2007 release "Yes, I'm a Witch", which also features The Flaming Lips, Apples in Stereo, Polyphonic Spree, and Cat Power... just to name a few. Look for her dance remix album called "Open Your Box" coming out in April.

Mar 10, 2007

Old Saint John in Wisconsin

Mark Ryden - The Butcher Bunny (2005)

The Cold War Kids passed through Wisconsin this weekend with sweat-soaked rock and white tees. And while you can read my comments about how it sounded in Madison at the daily page, our Milwaukee Blog Correspondent Beth Wick has some words about their stop nearer the great lake. If you caught the Madison show, you'll definitely note the similarities:

"Under the simple glow of red and white lights, the Cold War Kids made their stunning debut performance in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Surprisingly The Rave booked them to play at the bar, but this quartet garnered quite the following – enough to fill at least the basement of the venue.

Despite the smoke-filled, sweaty, uncomfortably confined space, the Cold War Kids worked well with what they were given and made a solid impression on the youthful Milwaukee crowd by putting on an impressive memorable, energetic set. Starting off the show were the crisp chords of “We Used to Vacation,” and the crowd was hooked at the beginning, appreciating the drunken-swaggering melodies the Kids are known for.

The members calculatingly staggered around the stage, flirted with their instruments and brought forth such passion, enthusiasm and vigor to their seemingly simplistic sounds. The band was pouring sweat in their thrift store tees less than halfway through the set, but tirelessly kept giving it their all throughout the night.

The highlight of the evening was no less than “St. John.” Delta Spirit – one of the openers – joined the Kids to help with the chaotic rhythms and singing. The stage was packed, and the collaboration of both bands shouting lyrics and playing anarchic percussive beats felt more like a tribal ritual than like a rock show at a cramped venue. Their live performance provided as much credibility for their album as their intoxicating, saloonish sing-along melodies provided comfort to an adoringly loyal fan-base, who was well aware of their music regardless of the lack of Milwaukee radio airtime.

Aside from the poor venue space, these Kids captured the attention of the Milwaukee scene at the show and created quite a buzz in the city. The next day Milwaukee radio finally gave the band the attention and respect they deserve, playing “Hang me Up to Dry” on primetime radio." -- Beth Wick

The Cold War Kids - Saint John (mp3)

Mar 9, 2007


Spamtrap - Bill Shackelford (2006)

Bill Shackelford invented his own physical "Spamtrap". This gallery piece responds to an email address created to lure spam emails by printing them out and shredding them. Bill also has a great melting installation commentary on Global Warming and a video about the fleeting nature of money.

Radicalfashion - Shousetsu (mp3): This song manages to capture the dramatic slowing of time that results from simply paying attention; in this case while concentrating on holding your breath. I fondly remember this from childhood existential daredeviling... inhaling a couple lungfuls, closing my eyes, tightening my lips, and violently gasping just as I became certain I'd die of Asphyxia. Expecting that at least hours had passed, I'd glance hopefully down at my watch, which was already shaking its head and telling me only ten seconds had passed. Again. "Shousetsu" skews perspective in this same way by focusing on the usually-absent breath and metronome and letting the piano flutter at the speed of calmed mood and rushed thought. [buy the 2007 Odori ambience]

Mar 7, 2007

Emergency Foster Care Systems in the Case of Mass Orphaning

Didier Marcel - Sans titre [citron] (2006)

The Bird and The Bee - Preparedness (mp3): This is a flirtingly cute, laid-back, indie-poppy modern jazz song that could accompany me to a movie, but would probably go home with the soundtrack. It reassures paranoia with with memorable subtlety where others on the album might rely on ballad stereotypes or limited instrumentation niceties. Be prepared for Air's french laissez-faire romance, St. Germain jazz chords, and Portishead's hushed pop sensibility. [buy the album]

Mar 6, 2007

Rise Up

Lauren Larson - Apparition (2005)

Non-English lyrics force my unilingual ears to feel out the movement and emphasis of the words' intention without immediately swallowing them to my brain for analytical interpretation. And Danish "Under Byen" feels sung into the wind. Each word could be a minute of pressurized muscle memory whose release recycles wasted energy like rising helium into cycling low pressure systems. They're pouted with predictable respitory rhythms, puffing subtle ripples that are only visible upon their impact with still ponds, writers' pens, and nightly newsman gestures.

Under Byen - Af Samme Stof Som Stof [Polmo Polpo Remix] (mp3): Sounds like Bjork remixing Paul Oakenfold's "Hold My Hand".

Essie Jain - Glory (mp3): Sounds like an exhaustion-sedated Erin McKeown pleading in a church dream for a ressurection of her own.

Mar 4, 2007

Maybe You Just Need Some Time Alone

Patrick Daughters - Bright Eyes' Four Winds (2007)

Following is a song from the upcoming album "Sky Blue Sky" by Wilco, a pleasant little tune from band I'm still trying to figure out. It starts out as the morning's simple black coffee, adding a few sweet sprinkles from a waivering organ. The rush of the caffeinated orchestration elates the tune to a soaring soft-rock electric guitar solo, perhaps samping from the Piggly Wiggly radio that was playing when the rectangle of vacuum-packed grounds was first picked off the shelf. And, running parallel to hype-inflated expectations, it suddenly crashes into a gently embarrassed fade.

What do you think? Is this a misguided mistake, a noteable sound shift, or a important track from a future hindsight collection?

Wilco - Either Way (mp3) [preorder the May 15th release]

Mar 1, 2007


Hans Herman Viets - Balancing Bull (2006)

The sobering reality of democracy was made obvious in the national election of 2004; stupid people live here too. According to today's NY Times article (thanks Mikey P), "Splashers" are voicing their opinion in the romantic democracy of street art by violently ruining it. At least the destruction appears to be based on a thoughtful critique, in true NYC fashion. Neighbors are a necessary evil, and the Republican rebuttal is that at least they're not car-bombing. I just wish the incessantly ringing telephone in the apartment next to mine would stop.

If you're in Madison this weekend, seriously checkout the BarCamp Madison unconference. It promises to be a high-tech entrepreneur sleepover, which I guess means giggly graphic designers will beat each other over the head with PHP-coded philosophy and cans of Mountain Dew. I'm sure you'll be seeing the products of its radical synergy, or at least read about it on the blogs.

Another event that is not to be missed is the inaugural event of The Art Deparment (no not the UW) collectively presenting a "new local art incubator to bring local/regional contemporary art to Madison". The night of March 2nd from 7-11 features the naturally textured play of
Hans Hermann Viets, the rough-skined conceptual sculptures of Janel Schultz, the challenging pottery of Mark Duerr (Madison), the flowery subtle stylings of Nina Bednarski (Madison), & the pop prints of Craig Grabhorn (Madison) of Fireworks fame... all with connects to Madison and back at the Lakeside Studio [330 W Lakeside, 442-9662]. Hell, yeah. I expect big things.

!!! (Chk Chk Chk) - All My Heroes Are Wierdos (mp3)