Sep 30, 2007

The More You Know...

Pieter Hugo - Vuyiswa Kama (2003)
[From the poignantly uncomfortable "Looking Aside"]

I realize before even beginning to write this post that it may strike you with the sentimental tone of a public service announcement. Large portraits of worn flesh smiling way too large are backed by anthems of presumptuously simple assertions to stay strong. You may anticipate that this could only lead towards the tilted head of a cancer patient insisting right before commercial break to squeeze in that she is not a "victim, but a survivor" - followed by a shooting star sparkling about the more you know. But there are few words necessary beyond "sucky" to describe cancer and few bad samples of Daft Punk.

Kanye West (ft Daft Punk) - Stronger (mp3)

Sep 26, 2007

How God Knows if Christ Came Back He'd Find Us in a Poker Game

Agathe Snow - Hare Jordan (2007)

Iron & Wine - Innocent Bones (mp3): This song sounds like time quickening with age, like how that time changes people much quicker than I remember before. It's a folk song choosing to retire in Florida, reclining on a crappy plastic chaise engineered with a special spot for a margarita. It relaxes and stirs only to notice a breeze blowing through the tourist's bras tacked gregariously from the ceiling.

Sep 24, 2007


Hackenbroich Architekten & Jan Christensen - Traffic of Clouds (2007)

Does this look comfortable to anyone but me?

Telefauna - Bamboo Shoot (mp3)

Sep 20, 2007

Oscillating Operatics

Emily Cash - Pork Chop (2007)

Emily Cash's
crude anatomical sections are tenuous reminders of physical existence dangling by a blood vessel. The pencil drawings echo nature in their obsessive detail and carnal emotionality. They're a fresh outsider perspective on familiar biological systems.

Wilhelmina Baker - Lasciatemi Morire (mp3): This is a quick headrush of a track by Nicole Gruter (of Madison) from her recently released avant-garde album "Pregnant". The echoing electronics and oscillating operatics surround like velvet draperies in rooms where candles flicker and antique dressers creak.

Sep 19, 2007

Pygmalion Music Festival This Weekend

Beauty Babies - Jeanne Susplugas

Pygmalion Music Festival 2007 - Urbana Champaign IL
maybe the best lineup mustered in Midwestern music

Go to the site. Download the schedule.

Arists: Okkervil River, Damien Jurado, Catfish Haven, Early Day Miners, Odawas

Don't miss
Okkervil River - For Real (mp3)

Odawas - Alleluia (mp3)

Roses and Sake, Wax on Radio, Shipwreck, Maserati, This is Me Smiling, Sangamon, Darling Disarm

Artists: Andrew Bird, Diangoah, Marla Hansen, Denison Witmer, Margot & the Nuclear So Sos, The Wandering Suns, Unwed Sailor, Noah Harris, Oceans, The Living Blue, The Beauty Shop, Dark Meat, Sybris, Two Girls, The Chemicals, Probably Vampires, Tractor Kings, Skybox, Death Ships, Royal Electric, DJ ?uestlove

Don't miss
Andrew Bird - Firey Crash (mp3)

Marla Hansen - Wedding Day (mp3)

Artists: Owen, Headlights, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Shapes and Sizes, Yeasayer, Bound Stems, Le Loup, Hyno Music Corp, Elsinore, The Foundry Field Recordings, Canada, Gentlemen Auction House, New Ruins, Mit'n, Coco Coca, Kristov's Agenda, The International Theatre of War, Liz Janes, Caleb Engstrom, Ryan Groff, Angie Heaton, Lynn O'Brien, Via Audio, Awesome Car Funmaker (!), Robots, Inspector Owl, Counterfeiting Money

Don't miss:
Owen - Bad News (mp3)

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Young Shields (mp3)

Sep 18, 2007

Joyful, Gentle Stories

Geneviève Castrée - Pamplemoussi, Les Tetes Molles [Page 4]

Geneviève Castrée is a Canadian drawer of pictures, composer of stories, dreamer of dreams, and singer of songs. Her world is a musical storybook exhaled in one natural breath from the side of her tiny, hesitant mouth. In comics, her pictures are French fables about children and animals giggling with the characteristic whimsy of rounded edges, but frightened with careful fragility and introspective abstraction. Translated to music, her songs are acoustic scaffolding for the vulnerable treasure of her voice - subtle like a jazz singer, pure like a wailing Bjork, and beautifully broken like Cat Power. It's all unusual yet familiar, all painfully cute, all offered with an intimacy akin to being gently touched.

Geneviève Castrée - Drapeau Blanc (mp3)

Geneviève Castrée - Raffinerie (mp3)

Sep 14, 2007

Art in Manila

Antony Micallef - Uzi Lover 2 (2007)

Art in Manila
is the new Saddle Creek project of Azure Ray's Orenda Fink. The album "Set The Woods On Fire" is a gorgeous species of mossy rock. It's a slow rolling honesty bounced with moments of intensity and plenty of homey Omaha charisma.

Art in Manila - The Abomination (mp3)

Art in Manila - Set The Woods On Fire (mp3)

Sep 13, 2007

Ruin Something Beautiful

Siberian - Islands Forever (mp3): It's one car drowned dramatic in the lake and one parked on Hidden Avenue, decaying of misuse. It's one book published and one written on TextPad, lost on the hard drive. It's one intense mental breakdown and one that "got-it-together", sitting on a Lazy Boy flipping through memories on the TV. It's one soul renegading to make sense and scenes of idealistic tragedies otherwise going unnoticed. It's one song confusing making love with having love.

Sep 10, 2007

So I Will Never Forget Her

Barbara Kruger - Face It [Green] (2007)

Marissa Nadler - Diamond Heart (mp3): An antique lullaby sung through generations atop the same hills of grassy expanse that outlive us. It's a fable about unfruitful searching under diamond trees and in traffic seas for those who have already gone. At points it echoes like strength and at others it whisps like fainting.

Marissa Nadler - No Surprises (mp3): Did you hear the announcement that Radiohead has finished their new album?

Sep 9, 2007

A Perfect Glass of Contentment

Dan McCarthy - Everything Loved (2005)

Tournaments - Lone Sailor (mp3): This is a new song from a subtle UK artist named Gethin Pearson, whose work I've featured here before under a different moniker. It's a beautiful solo ballad that starts out half-full of hope and notably half-empty of loneliness. The former gradually displaces the latter with increasing confidence as lyrics are poured carefully up a cold glass, reaching a full perfection right at the brim, right at the end of the track.

Sep 8, 2007

Music Soaking in $5 Iced SoCo

Leslie Hall - The Fight for Des Moines and My Body (2007)

The Soco Music "Experience" felt like taping a commercial about a music experience. It was immediately obvious that a disproportiate percentage of funds were invested on creating the superficial festival infrastructure and atmosphere instead of creating a solid lineup. For most of the early afternoon, small groups of Madisonians were strewn about the huge field on blow-up SOCO-branded furniture, waiting around and looking bored. The crowd huddling around the shade at the back of the event was larger than the crowd huddling at the front of the stage. The characteristic Madison kool-aide died hair and ripped army pants looked like costumes against the backgroup of sleek corporate advertising. A laughably excessive "DJ" tent shaped like a lime sprayed machine-fabricated smoke and pounding bass at people checking their emails and writing blog posts like this.The Sick Puppies played bland music with such an extreme, unreciprocated enthusiasm that I was waiting for someone to yell "cut" on their rockstar performance to announce that the ideal shot had been achieved. The expensive sweeping cameras focused on the thin crowd in sophisticated ways that made the experience look grand on the Jumbo-Vision, clearly demonstrating the intent of the evening.

The music finally got started as a large crowd assembled for the two-act crux of the festival. The Cold War Kids were solid, but lost some charisma by attempting to force their characteristically fragile instrumentation out of its dutsy bar atmosphere and through the enormous outdoor speakers. The reason SoCo didn't crash and burn was the exceptional strength of the Flaming Lips' energetic and thoughtfully visual headline performance. Its intensity was captured in Wayne's taps performance and the successive gong crashes coinciding with projected images of crash test dummies smashed into walls. But even this performance was compromised with SoCo branding as Wayne awkwardly worked a mention of the brand into his between-songs banter and large blow-up SoCo bottles and footballs were added to the Lips' usual ballon bouncing extravaganza. Overall, a shallow shell of a "music experience"... but an exciting Lips performance and fun to see Wyndham, Ryan, and Lauren rocking the Flaming stage.

The "Snake on the Lake Fest" impressed with a much more relaxed atmosphere (and a better drink selection). Leslie Hall stole the show as usual in her golden pants, but the Pale Young Gentlemen also offered an extremely strong set that had the young crowd wondering how they hadn't heard them before. Props to Y Mae Sussaman and the organizing committee for the event.

Schooner - There's Enough To Do (mp3)

Sep 7, 2007

Jesse Harris Contest

Jenny Holzer - Formica Columns 2851 Yellow White (2007)

The incredible Jesse Harris, best known as the songwriter for Norah Jones' Grammy award-winning "Come Away With Me", will be performing in Madison tomorrow night at Mother Fools Coffeehouse. Because many of you will be too preoccupied, I've got a couple copies of the Jesse Harris tribute soundtrack for the movie "The Hottest State" to giveaway. The album features an awing lineup of musicians playing Jesse's songs (including Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Cat Power, Feist, The Black Keys, M. Ward, Brad Mehldau, and Bright Eyes). Just email me to win your very own copy of the soundtrack and original Ethan Hawke novel from which the movie is based.

Jessie Harris - It Will Stay With Us (mp3)

Bright Eyes - Big Old House (mp3)

Sep 6, 2007

Madison: Coordinate Your Watches

Brian Tolle - DIE or JOIN (2006) [More information]

It may be impossible to not see a live band Saturday. Two high-caliber FREE music festivals are running concurrently here in outdoor Madison. And you can't make a bad choice when comparing WSUM's Snake on a Lake Festival vs. Southern Comfort Music Experience! Both feature hot indie rock (The Ponys & 1900s vs. Sick Puppies & The Cold War Kids), the best local bands in town (Pale Young Gents & German Art Students vs. Selfish Gene & Sunspot), regional Chicago representation (Maps & Atlases vs. Goat Motor), and a topping of performance art (Leslie Hall vs. The Flaming Lips). Oversimplifying for the sake of differentiation, WSUM is the place for stronger below-the-radar indie acts, underagers, the day's only hip-hop show WHILE SoCo is the place for heavier rock, more local options, and a larger-name headliner. Either way, this is one of the best days for music on the Madison calendar. See you there!

WSUM's Snake on the Lake Fest
(The Union Terrace)

3:00 - 3:45 German Art Students
4:15 - 5:00 Stink Tank, DLO
5:30 - 6:15 Maps & Atlases
6:45 - 7:30 Pale Young Gentlemen
8:00 - 8:45 The 1900s
9:15 - 10:15 Leslie & The Lys
10:45 - Midnight The Ponys

Southern Comfort Music Experience
(Alliant Energy's Willow Island)

Main Stage
3:00 - 3:30 Goat Motor
4:00 - 5:00 Sick Puppies
5:30 - 6:30 Cowboy Mouth
7:00 - 8:00 Cold War Kids
8:30 - 10:00 The Flaming Lips

Local Stage
2:30 - 3:00 Del Mar
3:30 - 4:00 Selfish Gene
5:00 - 5:30 The Sharp & Harkins Band
6:30 - 7:00 Sunspot
8:00 - 8:30 Shoeless Revolution

Sep 5, 2007

Bottomless Pit of Silkworm

Storm Tharp - Rare Bird (2006)

On their new album "Hammer of the Gods", two ex-members of Silkworm (et al) shake guitars like they've lost the patience. The tracks are aggressive in the most desensitized post-punk sense, emotionally cloudy and distantly ethereal like the Foo Fighters imitating Interpol. See them live on October 20th at the Coral Room here in Madison.