Jul 30, 2007

It's Okay...

Yasumasa Morimura - Mother [Judith II] (1991)

Vic Chesnutt - You Are Never Alone (mp3): Sometimes an enabler is the best type of salad dressing; thick, creamy, and just the right amount of too much. It goes down the smoothest and helps develop a belly to keep you company. The only reason you need to hear someone tell you you're never alone is because you are alone. But it is important to have the perspective to know that everything really is okay... especially when things are not okay.

Jul 28, 2007

Farewell El Guante

Will Oldham & Zack Galifianakis performing Kanye West's Can't Tell Me Nothin' (2007)

No one could've predicted that my commitment to posting everything Will Oldham would lead us here.... to a Kanye West music video, slow motion clogging, tractor choreography, and little red shorts. There is really nothing more to say.

In other news, local social prophet El Guante will take the stage at the King Club tonight to say farewell to the Madison scene - which will be sore forever in recovery. He's moving to Minneapolis (a mecca for white rappers as he notes in this new song), which will frankly have more resources to support his visions. Look for his future work on independent label
Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records, in the soul and direction of hiphop, and in the eyes of our future generation. If you're in town tonight, show out to send him off right

El Guante - Harry Potter (mp3)

Jul 23, 2007

This Day Belongs To You

Ray Caesar - Hally Lou (2007)

Marla Hansen - Wedding Day (mp3): These woodwinds waft carefully through natural bends in their hollow wooden tubes, only slightly self-conscious that their sound is inherent to its containment. The singing wind holds back with a hint of fear at its own gradual release into nothingness, leaving only pianos to ripple. Its subtle pace lets observation flower into appreciation, unmeddling so as not to disrupt a simple summer wedding between the two. The same kind of wedding that happens between two people on top of a grassy hill with only the wildflowers watching. And the kind that breathes the conversation in the quiet and the freedom in the containment.

[Marla's EP comes out September 4th, but her Take Away Shows (w/ The Inlets) can tide you over until then]

Jul 22, 2007

How Much Time Do We Have Left?

Simon Heijdens - Tree (2004)

Simon Heijden's "Tree" is an eight-meter urban projection attached to a delicate technological balance that responds to wind and passersby with seemingly trivial but eventually transformative leaf swaying and dropping. Psychologists define both projections and graffiti as destructive. But I think this graffiti projection technology holds the key to a break through. Especially if it can seed fake forests that reveal real nature.

Make Things Make You - Amazing Trees of the World (mp3): Luke works up a ceremonial gong until it shatters in slow motion complexity throughout the life of this piece, whose remnants become literally drained with the dishwater. And showcasing his characteristic knack at naturally framing songs, this one closes with the whisper of a special love waiting for you to finish all that hard work and come to bed.

Make Things Make You - Building Nothing Out of Something (mp3): Starting with a deep breath and a hesitant drone, this song's intentions are more accessible and telling. It articulates a caring belief in meaning through creation, but is plenty seasoned to know the importance of being able to fold that optimism right back on itself.

[Download the entire album for free here.]

Jul 21, 2007

In Socks and Ties and Unison.

Nam June Paik - Piano Piece (1993)

Hot Chip - My Piano (mp3): The fire alarm in the hall is pulsing as this song plays. The rigidly piercing rhythm occasionally rests its coy pause on the first beat and chimes in perfectly on the last three notes of the bar. And the dissonance takes a momentary break to dance. The song reminds me of impromptu dance parties in the hall anyway, in socks and ties and unison.

Jul 18, 2007

Broken Parties, Working Accordions

Jessica Williams - Everything (2006)

The wax Rorschach splatter hardened on the window is starting to look less like unbridled freedom and more like negligence. The same way your friends look after a year on the job and how your toenails look after a long day. And especially how the inside of your eyelids look when it's unclear if your sleep is rejuvenating or just wasting time. Na na na, na na na na.

Ray's Vast Basement - How Through Sacrifice Danny's Friends Gave A Party (mp3)

Jul 17, 2007

You're Too Beautiful To Fuck

Chris Strong - Untitled (2006)

Kevin Drew - Tbtf (mp3): This song starts out Joy Division and and quickly introduces its Broken Social Scene influence... the rest of the song stays all day in its pajamas in order to eat cereal for dinner with the nice silverware. You really are too beautiful to fuck. You really are reading this, right?

[The album "Spirit If" comes out September 18th.

Jul 16, 2007

The Unfairness of Gravity

Rommert Boonstra from Hé! patate! (2006)

Shelby Sifers - You Geranium, You Potato (mp3): This is a needed love song today for Irish potatoes, buried deep in soil and whiskey. Our skins explode eyes in the unconditional attention of sweet Shelby and her pronounciation of the word ger-ani-um.

Jul 14, 2007

Steer Clear of Scuby in the Canyon

Kyle Field - Untitled (2004) [From "Put It In A Nutshell"]

This song sounds like a rural Montana recollection played on found instruments at the Northern Lights Saloon after the generator is turned off for the night. It sounds like be a cautionary tale about an interaction that happened on an extremely rural gravel road just outside the western side of Glacier park... where we found a dusty Bronco pulled over in the ditch, still running. Inside was a rough, hippyish man (we'll call him Scuby) slouched over with a posture that immediately suggested a rural homicide. Or the illusive marijuana OD.

We tucked our reservations into our dirty jeans and pulled over. Polite knocking on the window grew aggressive with no response. Just as we became sure we were staring at a dead body, Scuby woke up (somehow without moving) and rolled the window down only an inch. The conversation started one-sided as if he were gradually waking from a coma, but flowered with confusion as he began to stir. He mumbled like even his words were lost. With hands resting on the passenger side door and lips practically pushing through the cracked window to communicate, Scuby stepped on the gas pedal. But instead of taking off, this made the situation a bit clearer - that the truck was stuck in the ditch.

Scuby revved his engine until it smoked and until it drowned out our yelling that he should "chill out". Eventually, his boots exited the car to demonstrate his stumbles by nearly impaling his skull with the swinging door. His rambling had no idea where he was nor where he was going, which advanced giving him a ride from dangerous to impossible. He pleaded with us to get behind the sinking truck and push while his body language screamed that the last place you want to be with a drunken driver is right behind his bumper.

There were fits of quarreling, suggestions that he should just go back to sleep, and a few utterances of "I appreciate what you guys are doing BUT" before he decided to jump back in the truck without our help and continue his drunken-nonsense strategy of plowing his way out. That being said, it eventually worked... only seconds before his engine would've exploded. The uncaged Bronco careened back onto the road and executed a U-turn that looked more like a Z to point himself at us, sprinting down the middle of the road under a dark Big Sky of muted stars. With headlights chasing us like a low-budget horror movie, we jumped into our car, squealed away, and took a quick left to see Scuby speed straight past in the rearview.

A 9-11 call seemed appropriate to protect the next town down the road, but the Montanan emergency patrol on the other end of the pay phone was either also drunken or also lost in life and couldn't locate us. But still promised to "send someone out". There were no news helicopters the next morning, so we assumed Scuby had arrived home safely to a wife or a buddy and dog sitting on the couch and shaking their heads to the recurring chorus of his mysterious absence all night... again.

The wandering keys at the end of the song could be me or my friend Nic, getting tired of wondering where Scuby had gone and getting up from the piano at the Northern Lights Saloon for another Mason jar full of whiskey and lemonade.

Little Wings (lead singer Kyle Field) - Scuby (mp3)

Jul 13, 2007

Trust Joyously Popped Rock

Kelley Walker - Untitled [Car Windshield] (2004)

Robbers On High Street - Crown Victoria (mp3): This song knocks over the tray of cocktail weenies and eats them off the floor with pinkies extended. As it bends over, the column of ivory buttons on its tight black pea coat pop off one by one and roll single-file in a jubilant parade. One button joyously sacrificed for each weenie. This confidence of Ben Trokan (lead singer) celebrating costume deconstruction swaggers as hollowly upbeat and beautifully reckless much like Kelley Walker's ornately bedazzled aftermath. Both sparkle complex and alluring. Note: the weenies can be substituted with Ralph Nader's pudenda for $2 extra.

[Robbers On High Street will play Saturday July 14th at Madison's High Noon Saloon]

Jul 11, 2007

When Presidental Privilege Becomes Synonymous with Lying

Time Machine - Michael T Rae

Did I make a mistake? Well, today I have a letter clearly asking me to follow the President's assertion of executive privilege and not disclose anything about it. It would be unfair to let accountability keep me in constant fear of being hauled before various committees to discuss my decisions. My readers would be ill served. Again, I have a letter that has asked me to follow the President's assertion of executive privilege and I'm doing my best to tell you nothing. My head is so far up the President's ass that I'm convinced I took an oath to uphold the President and not the Constitution. Did I mention that I have a letter that says I need to follow the President's executive privilege? That is, of course, unless you'd like to talk about something that casts me in a positive light or you'll allow me to lie, then I can speak freely.

Jul 9, 2007

I Should've California.

Joseph Hart - Factoid #2 (2006)

For the wanderer, this song is scribbled across the entire calendar month before lease expiration. Its a reminder of missed potential in advance but too late; like the red pen on the first page of a mistaken term paper you can't revise about the vague evidence of angels. Turns out the photo albums of widows are more likely filled with hallucinatory regret than mysterious religious orbs. And while you dreamed of illuminating the heavenly possibility, you've missed the point and damned yourself to a "C" and the same tiny apartment. But I've wandered from the point...

Billboards of this song should be regularly wallpapered over those that smile and say "do not regret, it's so negative". The designers of those messages would realize they could've been more realistic if they had any regrets. Realistic about what? About the real dangers of getting stuck. About how by not making a decision, you've made the wrong decision. About how this often seems like an a
ccident, but not one that removes fault. But also about how even by carefully shaping your life like a topiary, you may end up with one that looks like a decapitated teddy bear. And especially about how it doesn't much matter.

Two Cow Garage - Should've California (mp3)

Jul 8, 2007

Wisconsin Pop Implosion

The Super Eights

Pop exploded in Wisconsin for the last time last night and the casualties were you and me. Vid Libert wooed, the Super Eights pleased, and The Nervous System rocked. The rest of us... we twisted, sipped stiff drinks, and wondered what we'd do in Madison without the people who plan New Years themed parties in the middle of summer. And then we decided not to think about it anymore, danced a bit longer, and went home. More here.

Handsome Furs - What We Had (mp3)

Jul 6, 2007

Stating the Understated.

Mark Ryden - Nurse Sue No. 65 (2006)

John Statz will introduce his lovely new folk album "Our Love Was Made For Canada" to a small group of friends and you tonight at Cafe Montmartre (9pm). Though the album's lyrics speak of plenty of heart-bursting country anecdotes, the words tend less to talk towards a conclusion and more to chew on their own meanings. The result is a tone that pairs exploration with reservation, which perfectly compliments John's raspy vocal hesitance. Despite gracefully-rolling acoustic phrasing, his worn voice sometimes gives up just a bit sooner than it technically should - joining all of us a half step down from proud. And we enjoy the company. This self-effacing humility bows deep in "Song and Dance Man", but is kept upbeat by an adventurous violin and soft by a gentle harmony. On the dusty "Can a Circle Be Unbroken" John grasps onto the collar of the note instead of hitting it and always manages to release it one second before holding it too close to his chest. He reacts similarly in the powerfully honest "Absentee" and just touches angry with the harshest guitar on "Useless". But on "Every Other Time", he makes the case that straightforward confrontation can be even more intimate than the overplayed sultry persuasion or emotional drippiness. Fittingly, the title track backpedals with a statement that seems to end in a slight question mark. Our Love Was Made For Canada? I can speak with less hesitance, this is a beautiful album.

John Statz - Absentee (mp3)

Jul 5, 2007

Paralyzing Eyes

Melanie Pullen - Phones (2005)

Spy in the Mes - Dark Dancing Machine (mp3): This song is a raspy forgotten ukulele waking up in a black morning before dawn on an empty beach . The bonfire has long since burned out, the teenagers have all gone home, and a crisp wind blows through it's stiffened strings. It plays a groggy minor key that can't seem to distinguish the horizon between the dark water and the dark sky. [@ The Annex tomorrow 7/6]

Page France - The Ruby Ring Man (mp3): This is just as hungover, but dealing better as the sun begins to rise and settle. The glockenspiel is less piercing than first feared and sometimes even shines hopeful... as hopeful as the self-taught drummers in the mentioned broken heart parade who cannot wait to put their instruments down on the sand and rest. One can only stand for so long. [@ Cafe Montmartre tonight 7/5]

Jul 4, 2007

Changing Physical States

Bill Viola - Purification (2005)

Climbing down sun-flung mountains of green and up out of frigid lakes of 48 degrees (North), he arrived back in conventional knowledge on time and with only a goofy animal hat and strangely-placed injuries to remind him that there was any other way. He slept soundly the first night.

But the recent wounds softened in the morning shower and turned the color of muted tan. The largest was a quarter-shaped elipse around the corner of his elbow which he could barely see by contorting his left arm. Another was perched on the nape of his neck with deep edges that he could feel with his fingertips. These pieces of body seemed to be transforming physical states in the rush of fluorinated city water. They looked like dairy products covered with a thin layer of firmed film on their way to a cure. And if bumped, they melted like ice cream but dripped blood instead.

In a rush, he rolled down the sleeves of routine and hustled out the door. He performed the daily dredges, just needing slightly more fresh water than usual. But a stamp of passionate red began appearing soft at the elbow of his blue fabric facade. He thought for a minute to wear it proudly and open the scab on his neck as well, but instead excused himself and proceeded to scrub the stain rigorously in the bathroom sink.

His coworkers already noticed and always knew anyway, but had written long sleeves into the protocol for this exact purpose. He returned to his desk and nobody mentioned it.

DeVotchKa - How It Ends (mp3)

Worth Noting: Daytrotter recently deubted "Bookery", a series of vocalizations of poignant writings - my favourite so far being Clinic's Ade Blackburn reading Adrian Henri's "Tonight at Noon".

Jul 2, 2007

We're Phoning In Our Never Minds

Ian Ferguson - A Man And His Pan (2006-2007)

We were defined by how we function. The tools we assembled from dirt and cleverness differentiated us. They cooked us dinner and made us juice and danced in infomercials that kept us company late into the night. Our acuity built buildings that twisted to the sky and planes that toppled them into the streets. We began affixing machines to each other and into complex, multi-pronged circuits that masturbated into each others eyes and recycled our tears before we had them. Pictures of their neon green superiority were plastered over our paintings and we worked our entire lives to acquire them in large quantities. Our typeface quietly changed the definition of simplicity to waste, inefficiency to failure, and the unknown to the unwieldy. We wrote the consequences of these new words into volumes of books without a pen. And somewhere along the way we became defined by how we overfunction.

Earlimart - Nevermind the Phonecalls (mp3)