Mar 28, 2009

Larry the Logroller

Waubeno, WI

Most of the things you admire are stoic, so I wasn't surprised when you showed up last night with Larry the Logroller on your arm. He stood thirty feet tall and hollow with a whiskey sour, seemingly unaffected by the entire bar attempting a Taylor Swift chorus in unison. Around his fiberglass wrists were the bracelets of snow you once used to keep me cold and praying and I recognized your bird shit on his shoulders. And still, as I watched you press your lips against his face and walk to the restroom, I stayed quiet and far like you prefered. I stayed in my spot, standing along your highway across the countryside like the others, waiting for your return.

Cedarwell Meeting a Friend (mp3) [Sheboygan, WI]


Mar 24, 2009

Slow Down at Meatski's

Meatski's in Pound, WI

Bon Iver The Woods (mp3) [Eau Claire, WI]: Justin sings about going up in the woods because he knows. He knows that towns of 355 people, 149 households, and 89 families sound different. He knows the fun of stopping at a gas station and being greeted by an albino deer on display in a glass case. And that Sierra Mist tastes better when stuffed squirrels are lined across the top of the Pepsi cooler. He knows that his voice can carry for miles over the graceful hills up here. He knows about time slowing down.

Side note: I hung out with a bunch of folks from Eau Claire on Friday who hadn't heard of Bon Iver... I don't know how that is possible. Also, there was apparently a noisecore band in the 1990s called Pound WI.


Mar 18, 2009

Reach For Me Through That Dark Tree Line

Minocqua, WI

My tour of Wisconsin music continues with the sunrise over Lake Minocqua and Corey Chisel. Corey's classic American songwriting is perfect for this morning's still and chilly longing. While outside reviewers seem to want every Wisconsin album to be written in a cabin, this one really does belong in the woods. As I sit outside in my moose pajama pants, wrapped in three blankets and stealing wireless from the nearby hotel, its easy to chuckle at all the reviews of "Cabin Ghosts" that mischaracterize Corey's hometown of Appleton (the sixth largest city in Wisconsin with a population of 70,000) as a "small rural city far from urban society". But I know what they're trying to say. Jonk probably captures it best, that Corey sings about a life of growing up and staying loyal to a small town. Crusing up and down Main Street; marrying a high-school sweetheart; working a full day as a machine technician at an injection molding factory; staking out an early picnic table at the park for the annual summer festival; drinking, over-drinking, and switching to cola at the nearby bar of choice. It's all terribly stereotypical, romantic, and true.

Corey Chisel & The Wandering Suns A Home In The Woods (mp3) [Appleton, WI]


Mar 17, 2009

Ark of The Lord

Town of Evergreen, WI

On rural Highway 64 nearest the town of Evergreen, Wisconsin sits the Ark of the Lord. The weathered building shares a parcel of land with a trailer and no apparent driveway, which would render it completely unassuming without the proud handmade sign in front that proclaims the spot as 'THE ARK OF THE LORD'. The steps to the pale yellow doorway have collapsed. The white wooden siding is cracked with black. The congregation is buried in the unmarked cemetrry out back. In the rainy haze, the surrounding fields extend forever in each direction. It is exactly where I picture Zola Jesus performing a gothic wedding set.

Zola Jesus Somebody to Love (mp3) [Madison, WI]


Mar 13, 2009

Swimming in Spring

Wausau, WI

Laarks All the Words (mp3) [Eau Claire, WI]: The drive around Wisconsin continues as the folk warms, thaws into a puddle, and begins pouring into the front door. This is why March wood is so warped and ripe. It's all the words about how the winter wasn't so bad. And how most people here put on their shorts for a few days and sacrifice their knees to mud and evenings. At Hometown Auto the door mat floats right front of the door. Welcome home.


Mar 10, 2009

Business of Evolution

Portage, WI

Zach Vinson So Much To Blame (mp3) [Sheboygan, WI]: Zach is from Sheboygan, this picture is from Portage (right off Hwy 51). Zach is a young singer and one-man show, Rhyme is a 64-year-old Wisconsin-based supplier of office machines and supplies. Rhyme was founded by William “Punk” Rhyme, Zach was nourished by his mother's noodle casseroles and is not very punk. Rhyme really isn't either. Zach sings about his flaws and running away, Rhyme talks about "integrity and a commitment to always deliver on its promises". Rhyme claims to be in the business of evolution, Zach really is.


Mar 9, 2009

Fog Tonight

Columbus, WI

I am traveling North this week in search of the Wisconsin sound. The first stop is Yellow Ostrich, straight up I-39 and skidded to a stop in a snowy ditch. Dramatic silence except the slow motion pulsing of a blinker. White windows cracked to more white. Buttoning the top button tight against the throat. Falling asleep to the whistling voices of the engine or the wind or hallucinating ears. This is contemplating staying buried until spring.

Yellow Ostrich Fog (mp3)

Mar 8, 2009

iPhone as The New Polariod

Lisa Wiseman - [from The New Polaroid]

Julian Lynch Venom (mp3): When Polaroid announced last year that it would stop manufacturing instant film, there was no question that its influence would never stop. A miracle as impressive as an image conjured with only few shakes of the wrist can't be forgotten in a generation. Lazy plucked bass and wah-wah guitar didn't end at the lapse of the seventies, they live on in summer days and the exploration of young adulthood. But Polaroid enthusiasts had suddenly, overnight, become nostalgics, or mimics, or collectors, or ironic. The patriarch of the family stepped silently out of the room to let the grandchildren play with their iPhones. And never returned.


Mar 7, 2009

Hey Little Voice

Margot Bergman - Blossom 1996

Window Twins Maybe Its Time (mp3): A song as diminutive as an eyeball pressed to the window and the drop of rain it tracks from the awning to the porch boards, off the edge to the sidewalk, from the sidewalk to the street. It's for mornings where you have to talk nicely to your voice in your head before it will speak.

Mar 5, 2009

Deconstructing Monsters

Joseph Wheelwright, Seated Angel #1 (1987)

The terror of monsters comes from their unpredictability. Sometimes they have three eyes, sometimes they have only one - either divergence from two is terrifying. You never know what mixture of tentacles, scales, horns, claws, teeth, or fur they'll assemble. They could be huge and towering over you or tiny and crawling up your pant leg - either scale is terrifying. But why then, when traits of real animals (like the elk, cow, and boar bones above) are unpredictably rearranged, am I just entertained? A pig nose on a squirrel, tiny aligator legs on a giraffee, wings on a cat... that's just hillarious.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly Waiting For the Monster to Drown (mp3) [one of my favourite band names ever]