Dec 27, 2007

Because He Needs to Hear It Too

Taishan Schierenberg - Lydia (2005)

Chris lags behind the first couple lines of this C-side. Why? you ask politely instead of taking another sip of tea. Because he is being chased backwards by what he sees in the future. His music doesn't make a sound, and he mumbles to remind himself that this is how it must be. He keeps repeating it. you state in away that also sounds like an inquiry. Stop listening to what he says and start listening to why he needs to say it. He rocks himself to sleep with the repetition in order to ignore the streetlights. When they don't go away, he proclaims it even louder as if to try and shut them up. He lives on an island. That sounds nice. you say.

Chris Garneau - The Island Song (mp3) [buy]

Dec 25, 2007

Could've Killed Me

Stephen Chambers - Treehouse (2006)

Usually, a love song expresses commonality. It will sing like hands are held under the table at dinners shared, like vows woven into a singular cliched crochet, like similar minds meant for each other. Unusually, however, a love song tells a truer story of difference. This one sounds more like conflict in the crashing of two spirits, like kidnapping each other and both being surprised, like trying desperately to learn how to share something other than the same vulnerability of death. And, at least in this case, the love song survives by its erratic tendency to sometimes be caught naked in the rain. Written in genotype, its difference is its redemption. It must shiver, it must toss your furniture, it must be carved jagged, it must be one duet of two.

Scout Niblett [ft Will Oldham] - Kiss (mp3) [video]

Dec 23, 2007

Recipes for Christmas That Don't Come From A Store

Rich Aucoin - Personal Publication EP Sync

For a yuletide mixed with indie froth, pop in Rich Aucoin's Personal Publication EP and a DVD of the original How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The album was painstakingly written to synchronize with the movie and grow your heart at least two sizes. Animated whos rejoice with trumpets, evergreens bounce with the hi-hat, facial expressions resonate to the vibraphone, ornaments glisten in rows of the glokenspiel... all in an impressively subtle feat of audio-visual brilliance for the talented multi-instrumentalist and for an album that quite honestly stands on its own.

Rich (also of Hylozoists) singlehandedly fills sparsely decorated bedrooms with the gradiosity of the Flaming Lips, empty tea mugs with the intimate storytelling of Sufjan Stevens, and quiet winter evenings with parades of instrumentation. The resultant recording is a magnificently proficient pairing of eccentricity and theme song accessibility. It makes you confident that the robot dance you choreographed alone in your room will one day air on MTV.

Rich Aucoin - 10,432 Cuts For The US [An Exploding] (mp3)

Rich Aucoin - At War With the Cynics (mp3) [buy]

Dec 17, 2007

Dirt Under My Tongue Like Nails

Seth Crawford - Man Doilies (2006)

Christopher Blue - Mandrake (mp3): And this song is the hour after I shred my toenails on the edge of your words. This is the plodding desperation clothed in a Thom Yorke impression that bled at first but ached for days. The red emotion is bandaged in tight structure and gradually squeaking out the sides. He tells what makes me want to protect you at all cost. A healthy paranoia, a familiar hallucination, a beloved wound.

Dec 16, 2007

Twelve Beats Deep In Ruin

Julie Cook - Siguiriya Lamenting Place [from Duende A Time For Healing] (2006)

To express anguish, lament and dispair through the heart of the deep song named cante jondo. This place, position and space offers refuge for the body. Provides rest for the weary and reduces the symptoms of grief or sorrow through sitting and mourning.

1. Stretcher bearers to take the patient to the canvas bed.

2. Ensure the patient assumes a seated position and secure the lap tapes.

3. Pull up the backrest and tie the body and head straps.

4. Restore the wounded to a place of safety to rest and lament.

Ginesa Ortega - Asi Te Veas (Siguiriya) (mp3): The cante jondo approaches the rhythm of the birds and the natural music of the black poplar and the waves; it is simple in oldness and style. It is also a rare example of primitive song, the oldest of all Europe, where the ruins of history, the lyrical fragment eaten by the sand, appear live like the first morning of its life. - Federico Garcia Lorca

Dec 15, 2007

Of The Cut

Claerwen James - Hester In Black Tights (2004)

Rachel cuts my hair in the kitchen with a tablecloth tied snug around my neck. She hums while the radio says things like - this is the end of the world - and my neighbor can be heard yelling - this is not my shovel, where is my goddamned shovel. I didn't take the shovel, I'm just getting my haircut. But I don't open my eyes to argue. Her gentle snips sever protein my nutrition worked so hard to birth, I think to myself. But the investment of energy that once yielded invaluable warmth now yields a regular inconvenience. Her snips now sever the weight of days, the wasted keratin, the gravitational pressure of impressions. She stops for a second to ask what I think. I hestitate. Of the cut - she says.

Rachel Ries - Here We Lie In Wait (mp3)

Rachel Ries - Fine, I'm Fine (mp3) [buy]

Dec 13, 2007

Five Minutes To Live

Ashley Macomber - The Queen [Villian #1] (2005)

Icarus Himself - People's Temple (mp3) [from Madison]: This song sounds like meeting someone exactly like yourself, but better in almost every way. It jangles a desperate reaction while sustaining a synthy smile. Somewhere, it hopes, is a message other than inadequacy. Somewhere, it hopes, is the rational recognition that similarities build friendship. Somehow, it hopes, death is just sleeping. But chords shred to feedback. Hopes shred to only finding another day intolerable.

[Nick plays at Indie Coffee tomorrow night]

Dec 12, 2007

Comfortable At This

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann - RJ at Punk House (1996)

In the place of veins, I've got streams. Instead of steps, I've got beats. My journal is scribbles sung and my daily trials professed epics, just like that unnamed guy Christina Aguilera is always singing about. I don't drink coffee, I simultaneously bathe and motivate my vocal chords. When I squeeze my shoes on quick, I can feel a little shard of the melody stuck between my toes. I call you, and you're recorded. I touch you, and you're amplified. And when it's quiet, I spill like a tambourine.

David Ace Dean - One Year Older (mp3)

Dec 11, 2007

An Alternate Dimension Where Everyone Wears Black Converse And Embraces Corporate Image Campaigns That Impoverish And Kill Them

As reported in the New York Times, Rolling Stone's recent cigarette ads were a flagrant violation of the Master Settlement Agreement between the states and the tobacco companies that restricts tobacco advertising at young people. Unauthorized use of the artists to endorse a product is a huge legal issue, but the nature of the product makes the situation even more despicable. These bands were used to sell cigarettes to minors - undeniably packaged in cartoonish doodles on notebook paper and enclosed in Camel cigarette ads.

In addition to targeting the 3 million youth readership of Rolling Stone, this was also a stunning example of corporate tobacco setting its sights on independent music. Putting advertising restrictions on the companies that historically pioneered such societal gems as corporate PR and identity marketing is only challenging them to find new ways to maintain demand for a product that everyone knows is the single greatest cause of preventable death. And they'll do it by continuing to misrepresent facts with media, but with our indie music and its corresponding indie media?

The problem is when tobacco advertisers are increasingly driven "underground", we are seeing some of the most sophisticated and pervasive lifestyle marketing and experiential sponsorship strategies ever conceived. You'll see the executives react smoothly to this RS issue by dropping print ads altogether, but the truth is that they've already transitioned the majority of their spending away from high-profile print campaigns that are dirtying their "responsible" corporate image.

RJ Reynolds (Camel, Kool, and The Farm) is one of the companies that say they (read=not) "support" underground music by deliberately building close relationships with clubs, labels, and musicians in order to buy identity-share with the audience - specifically in indie rock and hip hop communities (identities within the youth and 18-24 demographics with the absolute highest smoking rates). And many in the music business, of course, are welcoming the free money with open arms - but the consequences are a deadly step back for our generation.
Local club and national tour sponsorships are buying real artists to perform as tobacco spokespeople alongside projected loops of tobacco branding, literally as the new cigarette advertisements - only more effective. Some examples purported on Camel's website include shows by the Flaming Lips, Black Keys, Dinosaur Jr, Electric Six, Datarock, and Flosstradamus - not to mention the "New Jazz Philosophy" featuring Talib Kweli and The Roots. The image of Talib Kweli selling a product that is a fatal social injustice unto itself (and no one calling him on it) is a world upside down.

Hold your favourite musicians and media outlets accountable for not using their art to convince you to buy products, especially ones that will impoverish and kill you. And watch out folks, this is just the beginning.

All Smiles - A Moth In A Cloud Of Smoke (mp3)

Dec 10, 2007

Salty Circuits

Talking Computron - My So Called Facebook Friends (Madison Pop Fest 2007)

Talking Computron - Unexpected Phone Call (mp3): Talking Computron is Alex Dubya and Alex is a proficient circuit-bender. He explores what that means in depth on his website As output assemblages from de- and re-constructructed electrical music gadgets, Alex's songs are surprisingly graceful. They're crafted with same meticulous care as the wiring of his instruments and defined by a unique simplicity applied to the complex sounds of bent circuits.

Dec 9, 2007

Five-Minute Poem: Frigidaire Commercial

Melanie Schiff - Mud Reclining (2006)

[A response to the prompt: "Give me your best five minute poem about where you see yourself in the world without using a cliche (but with a clever product placement)."]

Time of death is six forty-five.
Tag the right toe, you're still alive.
I don't have time to hold your hand.
I've got shit to do you understand.
I can't be sorry,
I don't have it in me.
Hurry up and grieve so i can chill her,
Next to the rest of the leftovers in my Frigidaire.

Jay Reatard - Death Is Forming (mp3)

Dec 8, 2007

Best Of 2007

Benjamin Evans - Adorno Concerto (2007)

When makes an album "best" of the year? What does it mean to call Radiohead's new album the best... that it's the most intriguing electronic-influenced rock album crafted in rural England with an unlimited budget and press coverage? Do the best albums have the best promise, the best musicianship, the best passion? Do they make the best statement with the best ideas? Do they swell and crash the best? Do they best reinvent lost traditions or invent new ones? Do they make the most impact? Do they best remind you of your best times? Do they best culminate a body of work or best take a new direction? I cannot decide. Albums are best for different reasons. And therefore my Best-Of-List is always more complicated. This year I've settled on outlining my ten best reasons for excitement about 2007 music as demonstrated through some of my favourite albums of 2007.

1) Strongly Vulnerable New Folk:
Subtle new voices that sound classic yet fresh; potential that excites hope when looking forward.

Meg Baird - Dear Companion
Chris Garneau - Music for Tourists
Mirah and Spectratone International - Share This Place
Christine Fellows - Nevertheless
St. Vincent - Marry Me

Meg Baird - Do What You Gotta Do (mp3)

2) The "Will Oldham" Factor:
Oldham asserted his broad relevance this year by dropping names like Matthew Barney, Bjork, Meg Baird, R. Kelly, and even Zach Galifianakis; but more importantly retaining a clearly unique sound that strongly influences new artists.

Bonnie Prince Billy - Ask Forgiveness
TD Reistert - To Sleep the Sleep EP
Phosphorecent - Pride
Sam Amidon - But This Chiken Proved Falsehearted
Valgeir SigurĂ°sson - Ekvilibrium
Magnolia Electric Co - Sojourner Box (I realize this is the "Jason Molina" factor, but it just seemed to belong in this grouping)

Sam Amidon - Tribulation (mp3)

3) Appropriating Unexpected Influences:
This year indie simultaneously esteemed non-traditional influences and retained an incredible whiteness, starting a new chapter in the book on white appropriation of non-white music.

Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
Mark Ronson - Version
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (actually released in 2006)
Bjork - Volta

Beirut - Sunday Smile (mp3)

4) Unique Takes on Spoken Word:
Fresh perspectives embrace alternatives to the sung vocal.

BARR - Summary
Andy Ditzler - Songs From Yes and No
Talib Kweli - Focus
CocoRosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn
El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
Saul Williams - The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Stardust

BARR - Half of Two Times Two (mp3)

5) Unapologetic Dance:
Sweaty, energetic beats were the muse for recklessly danceable albums and many standout singles that aren't represented here.

Justice - †
MIA - Kala
YACHT - I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real.
Spank Rock - Bangers and Cash

MIA - Paper Planes (mp3)

6) Emotive Indie Rock Soundscapes:
"Interesting indie rock" survived increasingly frat-leaning indie rock to continue arguing its thesis that complex songwriting, collage instrumentation, and passion is the new sound.

Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

Sunset Rubdown - Mending of the Gown (mp3)

7) Electro Deconstruction:
There are few things cooler than taking apart a Casio and listening to it bleed noise.

Dan Deacon - Spider Man of the Rings
Health - Health
Crystal Castles - Air War
Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future
Beatrix*JAR - Golden Fuzz (and all the other benders)

Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat (mp3)

8) Subtle Pop Beauty:
Pop will thrive as long it stays this cute.

The Bird and The Bee - Bird and The Bee
Patrick Watson - Close To Paradise (actually released in 2006)
Vic Chesnutt - North Star Deserter
Feist - The Reminder

The Bird and The Bee - Preparedness (mp3)

9) Strong Releases From Big Names:
Stunners from some of the best established working musicians set the precedents for the musical landscape of 2007.

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Kanye West - Graduation
Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocolypta
Bjork - Voltra
PJ Harvey - White Chalk
Sigur Ros - Hvarf-Heim
Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

Andrew Bird - Imitosis (mp3)

10) Madison Contributions:
Significant releases from Madison-connected musicians are making impact.

Marla Hansen - Wedding Day
Pale Young Gentlemen - Pale Young Gentlemen
A Catapult Western - A Catapult Western
John Statz - Our Love Was Made For Canada
The Inlets - Vestibule EP (actually released at the end of 2006)
She Is So Beautiful / She Is So Blonde - Self Titled
Sleeping in the Aviary - Oh, This Old Thing?
John Statz - Our Love Was Made 4 Canada

Pale Young Gentlemen - Fraulein (mp3)

Dec 6, 2007


Arthur Mohagen - Number 8 [detail] (2007)

If you've been missing quality Madison hip hop since charismatic poet and organizer El Guante transplanted northwest to Minneapolis, this weekend at the Memorial Union is the place to watch his seeds sown. The spectacular calls itself Homegrown Hip-Hop Fest and is ready to tell you what for... if you're ready to listen.

DECEMBER 6th (Rathskeller)

DJ Kid Cut Up and DJ Newsense
Ra Fury (Madison), Othello (Lansing, MI),
Dumate (Madison), Rhymefest (Chicago)

DECEMBER 7th (Memorial Union)

Spoken Word Workshop with El Guante
JUST BUST! Open Mic featuring El Guante

DECEMBER 8th (Rathskellar)
Lucha Libre (Madison), Figureheads (Milwaukee),
El Guante (Minneapolis), Brother Ali (Minneapolis)

Rhymefest - I Came Home (mp3)

Othello - Peace (mp3)

El Guante - Love In The Time of Zombies (video) [highly recommended]

Belief in St. Nicholas

CocoRosie - Good Friday (mp3) Here's a treat to fill your shoes today. It tastes textured like questions about how St. Nicolas celebrates Easter, coated in a smooth chocolate love story and with an aftertaste of Skittles.

Dec 5, 2007

If You Take Me There, To Stand In My Hollow Hypocampus

Jesse Hotchkiss - Catch A Ride - (2004)

My music remembers for me. It remembers the sheet of dust on the flat of the piano and how it was a tablet for our fingers when using the keys was too complicated. It remembers the overstuffed pillows muffling your relaxed hum and it even stayed awake to watch us as we slept. It remembers interruptions of loud neighbors, how we waited until the end of song to yell through the blinds, and then started the album all over again to rebuild the inertia. It remembers the bottles and the holes that were left on the shelf. My music remembers things I don't. Following its wanderings late at night is an interface to find places and times I've long forgotten. Often when I reach these spaces, the comforting feeling of their existence overrides the initial frustration at the lack of an accurate memory. Much like standing in an empty room of a previous house and less remembering a specific story than the pure importance of the place. I can feel this warmly in my music, if I accept that this history will continue to exist without me. If I appreciate that these connections will live on after amyloid plaque clogs my synapses and grates me into dust on the piano.

Radiohead - Last Flowers (mp3)

Radiohead - How I Made My Millions (mp3)

Dec 3, 2007

For There Is None Righteous, Not One

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten sun. For God sent not his sun into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through it might be saved. For the wages of sun is death. For that death of sun is an eternal hell separated from the presence of God. For sun stands as an ultimate barrier of separation between sinful man and almighty God.

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Sun Lips (mp3)

Dec 2, 2007

Even In The Dimmest Light

[Image Remove at Artist's Request]
Ian Hokin - Shitty Weather #2 (2007)

A Catapult Western - Back Up To The Wall (mp3): To be one of the immobile objects strewn about town, stuck where it stopped. To warm your hands at how the sustained roar of spinning bus tires at the intersection grinds against sheets of snow wavering like violins.

A Catapult Western - Tangled and Torn (mp3) : To face the cold with the careful attention and steady pacing of Low. To trust the slowly degrading comfort inside socks and in the company of another vulnerable voice. To press on. To smile as the cold crusts your eyes to sleep. [buy] [highly recommended]