Archive for September, 2012

Here is a little photostat I found online from an old LIFE (??!!) Magazine by Brion Gysin – a good friend and sometime collaborator of William S. Burroughs’s.
This is an excerpt from Gysin’s work  Minutes To Go, from 1960.

Also, Gysin was a close friend of Burroughs who was w/Bill in Tangier around the time the latter was writing what became Naked Lunch.

Hope you like this excerpt – a small picture of the “cut-up” method that Burroughs perfected in the print form and that Gysin went further on in the audio sense – spliced audio tapes, films, etc…

Open Letter to Time Magazine, from 'Minutes to Go' by Brion Gysin and William Burroughs

Originally posted on 1960

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Be My Valentine…Dammit!

Posted: September 24, 2012 in New Indie Music

Mister Valentine

The Whites of Their Eyes

Give Up Your Ghost Records

Reviewed by Kent Manthie

    The band that Brian Warren left to form Weatherbox, Mister Valentine is, in comparison, an edgier, more volatile-sounding band that has a very emotional box of dead roses it wears on its shredded sleeve.

The Whites of Their Eyes starts off with a cathartic punk/emo/pop song “Kissing Braille”, which seamlessly goes right into the next tune, “Asleep at the Switch”, also a screaming, hot tempered-sounding anthem.  They could be put into the same sort of box as other bands that are big with all the kids these days, like Linkin Park, Green Day, etc.  But since Mister Valentine is a newer band and not as “old” as the geezers in Green Day, they have a bit of a harder edge to their style and are still white hot, in terms of the music they play and the attitude that comes across.  Tried to find a lot more about them, but, alas, there is not too much to be found except a MySpace page that has no biographical information on the band or their members, one of which is Brian Warren, who just started Weatherbox, after splitting Mr. Valentine.  Also, according to the liner notes, there is George on guitar and  “off-tempo hand claps”, Marc on drums, shakers and “sass”, Andy on bass, effects and “beard” as well as the inimitable John on vocals and “vampire” (Brian’s description has him as “guitar, vocals and “bitching”).  When also going through the liner notes on the CD sleeve, I found a website that I thought I could get to and find out some more information on these guys, but, www.mistervalentine.net turned out to be not a website that had anything to do with this band, but was, rather, a site that looked as if it was some sort of men’s info site, with links on the front page to “Heart Attack Women”, “Symptoms of a heart attack”, “Queen Tribute Bands” (of which Mister Valentine is not one), “Valentine Card”, Queen Crescent Hotel”, “Heart attack symptoms in Men” and a few other assorted, totally unrelated things to this band.  I don’t know if that was some goof or if they thought that was their domain name but it turns out not to be (I also checked “mistervalentine.com” as well, just in case it was a mistake of “.net vs .com” but that just brought me to a page that was hawking domain names.

So, the mysterious, San Diego-based band continues to elude reviewers.  I could email them at the address they provided, but then I’d have to wait for an answer and I don’t really like telling bands that I’m reviewing their album, then that gets their hopes up and if you don’t come through they’ll think you’re a jerk or something.

Anyway, this six-track CD is a whole lot of faux-angst – screaming and rip-roaring guitars, someone was getting something off their chest.  These days it’s so hard to sometimes tell the sincere apart from the gimmicky.  Who knows, though, maybe Mister Valentine have some sincerity but they only have a gimmicky-sounding way of getting their point across.

One thing they do need to work on is diversity in their sound.  I mean, seriously, between the opening cut –the aforementioned, “Kissing Braille” to the closer, “Don’t Mess With Orbital, Texas”…well, put it this way:  if you weren’t really paying attention to each song and keeping track of one after the other and were doing something else at the same time, like writing a paper, cleaning the house or having sex then it’s almost like you’re listening to the same song over and over again.  Hint: don’t write all your songs in one day, maybe do a cover of some obscure old song (not some classic rock heavy-rotation oldie) and listen to a variety of genres to help develop your style.  Those are just a few helpful ideas of what you might want to do to try and get a more distinct style,

For now, though, I don’t think I’m going to listen to The Whites of Their Eyes over and over again.  But, here’s hoping they get it right next time around.  -KM

Take it To the Man, Man

Posted: September 18, 2012 in New Indie Music

Weatherbox

Follow the Rattle of the Aghan Guitar

Youth Conspiracy Records

Review by Kent Manthie

 

Formed in 2005 in San Diego, CA, Weatherbox is an Emo band started by Brian Warren, late, of My American Heart and Mister Valentine.

Originally Weatherbox was signed to Doghouse Records on which they released American Art, in May of ’07.  The band switched over recently to Youth Conspiracy Records shortly before their current release, Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar.  A vinyl version of American Art is slated to be released in the near future under the aegis of Youth Conspiracy.  When Weatherbox recorded American Art they were made up of Warren (guitar and vocals), Marc Deriso (drums), Ryan Hill (bass) and Mike Longfield (guitar and vocals).

Between then and now Weatherbox has put out four EPs (The Clearing, 4 Songs, Manbox and Christpuncher (which gets my vote for coolest album title of the last 5 years!) Between the EPs Weatherbox managed to get out a few full-length CDs:  the aforementioned American Art, The Cosmic Drama and the one being reviewed here (Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar, their debut for Youth Conspiracy Records).

One thing I found out is that in only the last seven years, Weatherbox has had amassed a huge personnel file – over 20 past members and four current ones, the only common denominator of them being Brian Warren.  I guess sometimes it takes a lot of turnover until you find the perfect combination of “emocity”  (that’s a made-up word).

As far as this album is concerned, Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar, there is only six tunes on it – so it’s either a longer EP or a rather short LP, clocking in at around 25 minutes.  The first cut, “Secret Muslim” has a bit of a Saracen mystique to it, but it morphs into a jet-set, rock & roll cut to keep the kids happy.  “Mountain Heavy” is a catchy tune, one that has a beer-buzz, toe-tapping, kind of song that would keep spirits up on what otherwise might be a dull Saturday morning-afternoon:  preparing an empty, lonely club for the night’s festivities, something to listen to at work or even just lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering what exactly what happened last night.  “Map” is a bit of a ‘softie’, not a ballad, but not a rocker either, a kind of introspective, conversational piece that gets something off its chest.

But of all the songs on Follow the Rattle… my favorite seems to be “Broken Glowsticks”, the catchiest and edgiest of tunes. It seems like a metaphor, of sorts – the song title, that is.  The lyrics are somewhat camouflaged and rusticated so as to befuddle anyone looking for meanings – hidden or otherwise.

The final tune is the epitome of an Emo song, “The Bullets” – it’s got some hooks, riffs and a couple different time changes that add up to a heartbreaking song, dollars to donuts that it’s dedicated to a girl named Susie.

Anyway, this is rock & roll, baby, like it or not and it’s not going anywhere, so get off your high, friggin’ horse and join all the rest of the kids at the dance and drink the punch with a couple shots of rum or whatever you were able to swipe from yer dad’s liquor cabinet.

Good times!  Great years – only the best of your lives, right?  So, no need for serious, intelligentsia, “Philosophy 101” yet – plenty of time for that later – next year or the year after, right?

Enjoy.  Play it loudly, the next time your parents go out of town and you throw a rager with all the cool people from school or crank it up when you’re home alone and stand in front of the mirror, aping all the cool moves you envision the singer doing on stage.  This is what it’s like to be young, carefree and living it up with your parents’ money in the suburbs.  Doesn’t get any better than that!  -KM

oF Montreal

Daughter of Cloud

Polyvinyl Records

Reviewed by Kent Manthie

Of Montreal, coming on the heels of their recently released Paralytic Stalks, has just come out with Daughter of Cloud, a 17-song mélange of superb outtakes, extras and whatnot, from the same sessions.  This shows that Kevin Barnes & Co. have been working madly, writing, recording and then sitting on a goldmine of a wonderful and unique cosmic radiance that harkens back to disco, but jams it with 20,000 volts of juice that continue the brilliance that they’ve been bringing to life for the past 10+ years.  Over the course of their great arc of genius, since 2005’s Satanic Panic in the Attic, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing all their subsequent releases.  While Satanic Panic… was a lysergic pop sensation, cute and with a kitschy charm all its own, that still didn’t prepare me for the future– the next release, 2007’s Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer? was a blast – a pleasant surprise that took unexpected twists and turns and really made me sit up and take notice.  This was especially poignant at a time when I was going through about 20 CDs a week or so, many of which were mediocre at best, some good, some bad, but very little of it was outstandingly awesome – or conversely, considerably awful – enough for a passionate review.

But I  wasn’t prepared for what came next:  2008’s Skeletal Lamping.  A genius release of immense proportions, I was dazzled by the complexity, captivated by its unique, androgynous unfettered sexuality.  When I received Skeletal Lamping, my mind was, at first, focused on it with my reviewer’s hat on, being objective, listening closely to try and get inside the mind of Kevin Barnes, who writes all the songs and is the main man of this Athens, GA-based band.  I had to go through it at least twice in order to not miss anything and to revisit what I may have missed or misinterpreted.  After finishing the review, however, its sustained flying of the freak flag had so blown my mind, I put it on my Windows Media Player, where it lives a nice life now and comes out often to be a part of my MP3  lineup.  Listening to Skeletal Lamping was something that I did quite often for the first few months, not that it’s now just sitting there, taking up space – I still listen to it whenever I feel the urge to tune in and drop out.  One thing that adds an ethereal mystique to Skeletal Lamping was the way the songs melt into each other; the songs have a tactile complexity which doesn’t let up and morph into one another, making it difficult to recognize where one ends and the next begins, making it necessary for one to listen to all 15 songs in one sitting, for example, I can’t think of picking out one particular song to listen to, disembodied, as it were, from the rest of the album, although, “Women’s Studies Victims” and “Beware Our Nubile Miscreants” are both worth mentioning as blissful examples of Kevin Barnes’s talented songwriting style.  Skeletal Lamping is a carousel ride on acid that knocked me out and threw me down a rabbithole that upended my top-heavy, ennui-filled life and after a whirligig of a ride I was spit out the other side and sent back to society, awakening as if from a dream.  Look out for “Feminine Effects” as well; you’ll be, well, interested, in some way, I’m sure, by the country influences that show up, as with the pedal steel guitar you hear, playing in the background.  They end Daughter of Cloud with a beautiful, genuine version of “Expecting to Fly”, the Neil Young classic.

The cover of an old Neil Young song by of Montreal just proves once again that Neil, ever the renaissance man, has appealed to three generations of musicians and music-lovers.  His songs constitute a self-made genre, one all his own that has snaked through the years all over the place, not necessarily changing with the wind, a la the Rolling Stones, but rather, setting down a style, unique, all his own, that just happens to never let itself be stuck in a bygone era.  He may be aging a bit and he’s still making music, but, unlike a lot of his peers from that era, he is not what you’d call a “dinosaur”, as he makes a point to keep things fresh and not dwell on the past.  Anyone who has seen him in concert anytime in the past 20 years, say, can attest to the fact that he doesn’t go through the motions of singing a “greatest hits” revue of his older relics from a previous age, even though there are some that are timeless and still are as fresh today as ever .

But, back to the band at hand:  of Montreal have done a great service in releasing these precious new tunes that, for one, put out there 17 new songs for longtime fans as well as newcomers, alike.  Anyone else wishing to get a taste of the future, would do well to start with Daughter of Cloud, this new OM CD, since because or despite the drifting away from what they sounded like circa Satanic Panic in the Attic, of Montreal have been experimenting with more electronics and a kind of 21st Century Schizoid Clubkid.  Well, whatever you want to label of Montreal, just don’t call them emo!!! (because they’re far from being so, which is why I was trying to be funny.

Bottom line here:  of Montreal’s new album, Daughter of Cloud is one of the best they’ve done in a while.  While I was a little disappointed in False Priest -at least, when I wrote that I was writing that, “saying”this because False Priest was the follow-up to the wonderful,, brilliant, Skeletal Lamping a real statement.  The exact message is a bit unclear, but it sounds like it’s going to take a lot of psychedelics which can help to open people’s minds, possibly change some (hopefully “some” means “many”!) to help get over the behaviors and the concomitant problems arising out of them.   I think that, if you’re in the right frame of mind, Skeletal Lamping can be a great starting off point for you; not just musically, but artistically, more broadly speaking, as well as leading by example and not be a jerk like several so-called “Rockstars” (I hate that term) who’ve appointed themselves political & social spokespeople for various causes, ugh, how nauseating.  Not so with of Montreal, though- no matter whether you’re listening to Satanic Panic…or Lousy With Sylvanbriar or this new album, which, as I’ve written above, in so many words, is not only a wonderful album, but it heralds a bolder, more experimental of Montreal.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about, well, say, 84% of music, overall.   Right now I’m just happy that Barnes and his fellow performers are as strong a force as ever and they are continually making great music that keeps churning and burning and keep the faithful out there satisfied while awaiting the next great breath of Bacchus.  -KM

Ambient Love

Posted: September 12, 2012 in New Indie Music

Ike & Sue “69” Stirner

Τὸ Μεγα Θηρίον

Reviewed by Kent Manthie

The newest release by Tony “Ike” Stirner & his wife, Sue, entitled Τὸ Μεγα Θηρίον, is a 3-song EP which is really out there, in a netherworld of starkness and deep obsession with machinery and metallic industrial ambient-drone sounds, released on the netlabel, Het Donkse Oog.  To find out more about the label, go to www.hetdonkseoog.bandcamp.com 

Stirner, himself has a fledgling netlabel going, Skum Rex, available by going to http://skumrex.blogspot.nl/.

These netlabels are becoming a great alternative to indie labels and of course major labels, which goes without saying, but it’s indeed a really easy way to get one’s music out there instead of having to release it on your own, with no support, etc.  This way there is so much more stuff available these days that, say, even 20 years ago would’ve been next to impossible to get out there, except to record it yourself and distribute by yourself, sell it either at a local indie record shop with whom you’re friendly or that is supportive of you and your work and sell it by mail order in addition, by putting a few ads in local weeklies, fliers you can get friendly coffeeshops, record stores, clubs, etc to put up with a poster of your album cover with the name of the band and title of record at the bottom along with the way one can purchase it, plus a little description or whatever… Those were the old days.  Now, with the internet, there’s so much more one can do as far as marketing ones music or art, writing or whatever, without dealing with dinosaur record labels, publishers, etc.

Three songs comprise this album:  “Altered States of Consciousness”, “Cup & Sword” and the title track closes out the album.

On the first song, “Altered States of Consciousness”, there is a factory-sounding cacophony of buzz and humming that goes on and on, indeed, it does serve as a vehicle to an altered state of consciousness.  If one focuses closely enough on it, one can descend into a sort of trance.  It’s a ten-minute piece that starts out ominously slow and dark, then builds up to a crescendo of noisy busyness that whips one into a near frenzy; in the wrong ears it could spark a riot, cause an unstable boy to run amok in an Indochinese village, chopping everyone he sees to bits with a cutlass.  But in a stable, developed mind, especially one that is very hip to experimental chop-shopping, it can really build up to a great tidal wave of a trip – sort of like experimenting with LSD-25, or yage, peyote, harmaline, etc. but without the drag of a comedown.  The ending of the song starts cooling off and tapers off in a harmless fashion, like a red sunset going down amid burning cinders.

The second cut, “Cup & Sword”, is another interesting study in both stamina and transference.  It can sometimes serve as a sort of “Rorschach” test for those whose outlooks aren’t certain – someone might see or hear certain things inside it.  It reminds me of the kind of “test” one can play on oneself on an intense LSD trip:  turn on the TV set and find a channel where there is nothing but white noise and “snow” – you know, that static-y, fast-moving picture, where, normally, one would see nothing except just a white picture, with black and grey sparks moving about, but to the person whose peaking on acid and who stares at this picture for ten minutes, 20 minutes – even an hour, he sees all kinds of forms, shapes, sometimes even a stagnant personality staring back at him.  That is what “Cup & Sword” is like.  Very intense.

Lastly, the title track closes out the album.  It is, at any rate, my personal favorite.  It has a more mellow vibe to it and is peppered with samples of voices – sounds of what seem like radio transmissions, contorted, warped voices that pop up here and there, surrounded by sparking atmospheric transcendence that figuratively washes over the body and can take over your id for the duration.  I think this is a great song to end with – it leaves the listener with something cerebral to mull over after it’s all finished.  What an amazing work:  details galore and layers and layers of soundscapes that are akin to an abstract expressionist painting – what does it mean, anyway?  That’s what many art-lovers, museum goers, etc ask themselves or their company while staring at the piece.  The same thing applies to this album:  what does it mean, exactly, anyway?  Well, I’m sure that Stirner had his own vision in mind when he created  THE GREAT BEAST.  And the music surely lives up to its name.  It is surely a beast of burden and a beast, musically – a wild, rampaging organism that seems, at first, to be a wild, raving lunacy, but when listened to closely, the curious finds a meaning of some sort – whether or not it’s the one that Stirner himself had in mind when he made the album.  That’s the great thing about abstract art in general – that one doesn’t always have to follow “the rules” so to speak and strictly interpret what the artist had in mind, even though that does help answer many questions a lot of the time,  But if answers are not forthcoming, one can make ones own sense of it and interpret as they may and create a meaning of their own for the work.  This can be said of THE GREAT BEAST – it can interpreted anyway you choose.  Just as long as you get something out of it.  I’m thinking Stirner probably had something in mind.

Check out his webpage – or his netlabel’s page for more information.  But definitely, if this kind of stuff is what you are into, you need to hear this and if you’d like a psychological stress test, this is it.  Either way, enjoy!!  – KM. 

 

Deerhoof

The Breakup Song

Polyvinyl Records, 2012

Review by Kent Manthie

 

    This year, so far, has been a pretty good year for indie music.  In the early part of 2012 we received a couple other bands’ albums also on the Polyvinyl Records roster:  Owen’s whimsical, at times and always introspective Ghost Town as well as the newest from Athens, GA wonder kinder, of Montreal, the neo-disco-drenched Paralytic Stalks.  There was also the blissful CD, Antibodies, by Nate Kinsella’s project, Birthmark (all of which I reviewed in past editions of Reviewer (www.reviewermag.net – formerly:  www.reviewermag.com).

This review, however, is concentrating on the soon-to-be-released new album by Deerhoof, The Breakup Song.  Deerhoof are an interesting band hailing from the coolest city in the world, San Francisco, CA.  They’ve been around since around 1994 and have been putting out both iconoclastic and irreverent songs which deliver catchiness in one way or another.  To be able to still be doing that almost 20 years later is quite a feat.  The only other bands that can claim a glory like that – or beyond – are Sonic Youth, who, one never gets tired of, Stereolab, a band that seems to come from their own planet, that’s how different they are from just about anything else out there as well as grunge heroes, The Melvins.  Deerhoof, anyway, certainly does things their own way.

My last (and first) introduction to Deerhoof was their January, 2011-released album, Deerhoof vs. Evil, which I reviewed for Reviewer – posted up on their website, which used to be www.reviewermag.com, but which has changed URLs and is now to be found at:  www.reviewermag.net.  This review will be posted on that site (www.reviewermag.net) as well as my own new review-blog, INDEPENDENT REVIEW, which must be accessed by going to:  www.kmanthie.wordpress.com which will take you straight to the front page of INDEPENDENT REVIEWER – check it out and tell a friend won’t you?

Anyway, back to Deerhoof – their lead vocalist and bassist, Satomi Matsuzaki, has a very lovely voice, a smooth, laid back chanteuse-style voice that seems to hypnotize the listener.  But the rest of the band, guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez as well as drummer Greg Saunier, seem to catapult the sedation into outer space.  The Breakup Song is a whole new bag of tricks and has some more unique styles and there is no one label that you can pin on Deerhoof, except maybe that they are an “indie” band (on Chicago’s Polyvinyl Records) and iconoclastic.

    Originally, when they were still milling around the Bay Area scene, getting a feel for what kind of niche they wanted to fit into, as well as going through different personnel lineups up to where they are now, they were described as being a “noise-band”, neo-punk, indie (which is what they are, at heart), etc.  But after years of coalescing their sound into a coherent, yet unpredictable style, they’re still leaving fans and critics alike scratching their heads as to what the next album is about or means or if it’s got any meaning to it at all.

Their 2011 album, Deerhoof vs. Evil seemed to be a bit more “accessible”, that is, to the already jaded, cynical audiences that are into indie vs. corporate schlock-emo crap, compared to this current album, The Breakup Song.  One of my favorite songs on that CD was “I Did Crimes for You”, a sort of twisted way to rationalize one’s loyalty to another, yet…There were also some other interesting bits and pieces to that album In fact, that is one thing that has redeemed them in my eyes – the unique and quirkiness of the album.

On The Breakup Song,Satomi’s vocalizing fits in quite well with the avant-garde and experimental sounds that the other three guys cook up.  A couple songs worth mentioning (and which piqued my interest) are “Zero Seconds Pause”, “Mothball the Fleet” as well as “We Do Parties”, which has a heavy bass track to it, some synth-drum-machine in it and a clean, crisp guitar that noodles throughout.  But it’s really hard to pick favorites here, since the whole CD is packed with ear candy that sticks to the brain and is hard to wash away.

If you get interested and do pick up The Breakup Song, remember that these guys have been around since 1994 and so have quite a history and just reading about the many guises they’ve been through and stuff they’ve done tells me that there could be a varied history to them.  If you are into experimental music with a pop underbelly, but that is just as unpredictable at the same time then get yourself hooked into the world of Deerhoof.  –KM