Archive for October, 2012

Putin as NapoleonI must give credit where credit is due:  the following article is a reprint of one that I found online at AU – a Russian website that focuses on Russian news, media, culture, etc and since this particular story is so, well, foreign to…uh…just about anyone from any other country in the world except maybe Azerbaijan, North Korea, Iran, Syria and China, it is so disgustingly fascinating – like a bad car wreck you can’t take your eyes off…it’s the story about that Russian punk band, translated as “Pussy Riot” – they’ve been tried & convicted (is there any other outcome in Russia since the short time Yeltsin was in charge) in a Russian court for writing “offensive” lyrics.  Now, they’ve really been given a harsh time – they’re doing time in a Stalin-esque prison-gulag out in the middle of nowhere.  Where are all the Hollywood “justice” seekers and loudmouths who bitch and moan about human rights and free speech and all that?  WHY ISN’T BONO IN RUSSIA RIGHT NOW TRYING TO FREE THEM?

Well – here is the article – again, thank you very much to AU for not minding me borrowing this story.  Enjoy!  – KM

Pussy Riot members sent to ‘prison hell’

  • Marina Lapenkova
  • AAP
  • October 22, 2012 11:43PM

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, centre, and Maria Alyokhina have been sent to “cruel” Russian prison camps to live out their sentences.

TWO Pussy Riot feminist punk band members have been taken to remote Russian prison camps after a court upheld their two-year sentences for mocking President Vladimir Putin in church, their lawyer says.

“Nadya Tolokonnikova has been sent to Mordovia, and Maria Alyokhina to Perm,” defence lawyer Violetta Volkova told AFP on Monday.

The Perm region in the Urals mountains and Mordovia in central Russia host a vast network of prison camps dating back to the Soviet era and infamous for their tough conditions.

“They were convoyed on Saturday,” Volkova said, adding that their relatives had learned of the move when their parcels for the women were rejected at the Moscow prison where they had been temporarily held.

It remains unclear when the two young women, who both have small children, will reach their final destination, Volkova said.

Tolokonnikova’s husband, activist Pyotr Verzilov, told the Moscow Echo radio station that according to his unconfirmed information, the women were not sent by train as is usual but “were sent by air in special flights”.

A Twitter account organised by the band also said the two members were taken in a “special” convoy to the prison camps, but gave no details.

“Of all the possible options, these are the cruelest prison camps,” the Twitter account @pussy_riot noted.

The art group Voina (War), which is closely affiliated with Pussy Riot, on Twitter called Mordovia “the worst prison hell there is”.

The city of Perm, the region’s capital, is about 1400 kilometres from Moscow, while the regional capital of Mordovia, Saransk, is about 640km from Moscow.

The Perm region, where temperatures can fall as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius in winter, housed Stalin-era labour camps, one of which has been turned into a museum about the history of political repression.

Mordovia is a region dotted with lakes that is chiefly known for its prison camps dating back to the Stalin era. In the 1930s and ’40s, the prison population here numbered 23,000 prisoners, according to the regional prison service’s website.

The region now has 17 prison camps, the prison service said.

The choice of distant camps appears to be deliberate to make it harder for the public to follow what happens to the women, rights activist Lev Ponomaryov told Moscow Echo.

“Evidently the women have been sent to distant colonies so it’s harder for the Pussy Riot members to contact relatives and lawyers, and also it’s harder for the public to check on their fate,” said the leader of For Human Rights group.

Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and their bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich were in August sentenced to two years in prison after they staged a balaclava-clad performance inside Moscow’s main cathedral mocking Putin.

A Russian appeals court this month upheld the prison camp sentences against Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina but unexpectedly ordered the release of Samutsevich in what many observers believe was an attempt to split the tightly knit band.

Samutsevich told AFP in an interview ahead of the women’s departure that they were calmly preparing for a transfer that they saw as inevitable after their failed appeal.

“They understand that they will soon go to the (prison) colony. They are packing their things,” she said.

“In principle they are ready for it. They are not upset about it. We all expected that the colony would happen, we all knew it, so it’s OK, they just know that they need to go soon.”

Polishing the Infinite: Spinozian Optics.

Polishing the Infinite: Spinozian Optics

“By ‘God’ I understand: a thing that is absolutely infinite, i.e. a substance consisting of an infinity of attributes, each of which expresses an eternal and infinite essence.”

Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics is an unsurpassed philosophical work because it applies a pure rationalism. Demonstrated in geometrical order, the Ethics is undoubtedly the most influential philosophical work of the past 350 years. For this reason, Spinoza is the grandfather of modernity: his thought was able to determine decisively the work of philosophers of the stature of Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Deleuze, among many others. The whole Spinozian philosophy is held in the causa sui, the cause of itself, that is God. That’s why it is historically acknowledged as pantheistic, as it affirms that understanding is formed by the same substance with which the world is formed. Thus, there is only one substance for all attributes, and that substance is the divine substance. In Spinoza, however, the image of man and the world is not only measured with eternity, but it is configured in the same plane, ie, in the plane of nature. For Spinoza, human actions are affected by the laws of nature and the cosmos: there is one nature for all bodies just as there is only one nature for all individuals. This nature is itself an individual consisting of infinite attributes, and has the ability to vary in infinite ways. Thus, in Spinoza, nature is a common plan that is immanent to its own substance.

Baruch Spinoza was born in Amsterdam on November 24, 1632 and dies a victim of tuberculosis, in The Hague on February 21, 1677. Spinoza lived only 45 years, but his life was a flash of intensity. In 1656 he was accused of heresy by the orthodox Jewish community and expelled from the synagogue. He would live on the outskirts of the city over the next 5 years, and would move on to Rinjnsburg in 1661, to Voorbureng in 1663, and La Hague in 1664. To prevent his thought to be restricted, Spinoza rejects the chair of philosophy offered by the University of Heidelberg in 1673. Also, Spinoza despises the share of a pension that the French king Louis XIV disposed for him. Besides of being in life a man of philosophy, Spinoza also had a particular office: it was a lens grinder. According to Deleuze, it is precise to contemplate all together the more geometrical method of the Ethics, the profession of polishing lenses, and Spinoza`s life:

“For Spinoza is one of the vivants-voyants. He expresses this precisely when he says that demonstrations are “the eyes of the mind.” He is referring to the third eye, which enables one to see life beyond all false appearances, passions, and deaths. The virtues-humility, poverty, chastity, frugality-are required for this kind of vision, no longer as virtues that mutilate life, but as powers that penetrate it and become one with it. Spinoza did not believe in hope or even in courage; he believed only in joy, and in vision. He let others live, provided that others let him live. He wanted only to inspire, to waken, to reveal. The purpose of demonstration functioning as the third eye is not to command or even to convince, but only to shape the glass or polish the lens for this inspired free vision.”

by Jorge Luis Borges

The Jew’s hands, translucent in the dusk,
polish the lenses time and again.
The dying afternoon is fear, is
cold, and all afternoons are the same.

The hands and the hyacinth-blue air
that whitens at the Ghetto edges
do not quite exist for this silent
man who conjures up a clear labyrinth—
undisturbed by fame, that reflection
of dreams in the dream of another
mirror, nor by maidens’ timid love.

Free of metaphor and myth, he grinds
a stubborn crystal: the infinite
map of the One who is all His stars.

…keep it in perspective…

Posted: October 18, 2012 in New Indie Music

The Subjective Perspective

Urban Folk Kaleidoscope

Review by Kent Manthie

Here is a good example of DIY in action:  two people, originally from New York, who decided to pack up and move out west to the very UN-New York-ish Salinas, CA.  The band known as The Subjective Perspective is comprised of Nick and Lisa.  They are also sometimes joined by another member, who’s been jamming with them since they’ve landed on the West Coast is a guitarist who calls himself Cabby.   Nick and Lisa both veteran songwriters and musicians, write songs that are introspective, yearning, serene and contemplative even.  Even though they’ve left the big city behind them, they still are thinking of the urbanity of it all, evident on songs such as “Dead Peasant Uprising” and “Ragtown Boys”, for example.

Their goal is to use their songwriting as a vehicle for conveying the emotions and memories they carry over from growing up on the mean streets of New York.  The result is a mélange of sounds that range from the folksy to the classic-rock-esque, some blues thrown in a “jam” sensibility, that I imagine really comes to life when they’re playing onstage, the way it does for a lot of bands.  Where the studio routine can sometimes be stultifying to a band that is more comfortable playing together, live, as opposed to other duos, say, Steely Dan, for instance, who were such studio perfectionists that they gave up touring after 1974 and concentrated on making each album the best it could be, often wearing out the various session musicians that would play with them, getting them to do about 40 or more takes of a particular song –or even just a solo or other part of a song, so as to have a lot of pieces from which to choose to make each song just perfect; and that worked for them, as it has for other studio hounds such as Brian Eno, Bowie, Stereolab and others, but there are certain bands who are never quite comfortable piecing together their music, what with the overdubbing, the inevitable multiple takes and the drive to make as great a recording as possible. This was certainly true of the Grateful Dead, who had some successful studio recordings (Anthem of the Sun being one of their best studio efforts, probably because the lion’s share of it was recorded live, but also, a couple of their mid-70s efforts, including From the Mars Hotel, Wake of the Flood and Blues for Allah all had shining moments – my favorite studio moment from the Dead is the hauntingly beautiful “Unbroken Chain” that appeared on 1974’s From the Mars Hotel, a song that was hardly ever played live – maybe only a handful of times, so if you have a “bootleg” with that song on it, consider yourself extremely lucky!  But I digress…

Nick has been honing his craft since he was a teenager, back in the mid-90s.  He began his songwriting around 1997 and started getting more and more comfortable as a performer by “rhyming” at parties throughout his teenage years.  These happily memorable teen experiences eventually gave him a yearning to do much more, to take things to a higher level, which is what he did.  He went beyond just entertaining the party crowds where he went and his thirst for songwriting became a stepping stone to where he wanted to go.  For the last 10-15 years now, Nick has been traipsing around the New York area, performing and singing for crowds big and small.  Eventually he serendipitously met Lisa, the two hit it off and the next thing you know The Subjective Perspective was born.

Lisa, herself, has been singing all her life.  She too grew up in and around the NYC area and it just so happened that she lived close by Nick’s house, the proximity of the two is no doubt one way to explain the way they came together.   The fact that both members are equal part “lead” singers is not only sufficient but necessary.  The Subjective Perspective wouldn’t be who they’ve evolved into without the synergy that magically forms, like some unique chemical interaction.

A few songs I had the pleasure of hearing gave me insight into their minds.  “Real Romance” is a happy little ditty that features some psychedelic guitar playing which doesn’t dominate the song, but seems to come from the “back burner” as it were, no doubt from the helping hands (and fingers) of the man called Cabby.  It’s a real charmer of a song:  catchy, upbeat, with a sunny disposition and a sound that could be thought of as a blues-themed cut, but with major chords instead of the typical sad or melancholy/morose vibes that are the raison d’etre of The Blues (with a capital “B”).  But, hey, dummy, you might say, that is what “folk music” is supposed to be.  But I still wouldn’t go so far as to label it “folk”, it has too much of a groove-thang going to end up being stuck in a “folk” box.  It certainly transcends what you might think of when you get the quick & easy bio of the band and their “sound”.  It’s blues roots, tweaked a bit to suit their pleasure (which becomes the listener’s pleasure as well, when exposed to it) mostly comes through in Cabby’s psychedelicized/funk guitar riffing, a hazy distortion with a twinge of a ring through it.  If you’re sad or upset about last night’s tiff or are otherwise in a pique of angst, “Real Romance” is one song that can lift your spirits and give you a shot of hope.

Even a song that seems to be about getting the poor, downtrodden sad-faced people, not just the many who people the streets of New York, but are a fixture of every major city in America, “Dead Peasant Uprising”, has a definite folksy undertone to it, more of their major chord progressions here, not the minor, angry ranting, inciting the disenfranchised masses to rise up and demand for their needs.  But the thing here that really shines is the juxtaposition of the “happy-go-lucky”, sunny outlook of the music while the lyrics scold the cold, unfeeling “army of the rich” cops for their harsh treatment of homeless, poor citizens – a scolding that could apply in any city, USA.  For example:  “Hey blue man with that club in your hand/Let’s have a talk, man-to-man/Don’t go attacking innocent civs/Look what they did to Scott on [unintelligible]/Put that pepper spray away/Follow these laws that make us say:/It’s a Dead Peasant Uprising/It’s a Dead Peasant Uprising/From New York City to the Frisco Bay/Can’t keep them peasants away/Ain’t know how, no way today/You’re going to keep the peasants down today…” is a perfect slice of what these two are all about: empathic, sympathetic, knowledgeable and one of the very few in this day and age (as opposed to the sixties, as glorious, but dangerous and chaotic as it may have been-at least the protesters were organized and not just a bunch of loosely knit “friends” who have no contact except on the pages of Facebook.  People need to organize themselves – because for one thing, it’s obvious, poll after poll, that the mainstream of America detest the right-wing, authoritarian, bigoted, pro-rich, anti-poor stance that defines today’s Republican Party.  Once upon a time there was such a thing as moderation and not all Republicans were right-wing “John Bircher” types who stockpiled guns at home and were blatant bigots – Republicans abhor gays – they’re not “saving marriage” – that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard – half of all marriages end in divorce and that includes Republicans, like the philandering jerk, Newt Gingrich, who left his wife, when she was suffering painfully in the hospital from cancer – he went to the hospital to get a divorce so he could go off and marry this bimbo that was on some campaign staff of his.  What hypocrites these people are.  Richard Nixon is, I’m sure, still a name that evokes heated passion and hatred in many, but if you look past his own shortcomings and focus on the positive aspects of his policies in the late 60s, early 70s:  he started the EPA, the DEA, signed bills including the Clean Air Act and many more things that, today, would get him branded by the current GOP as “too liberal for us”.  That is how bad things are and will get worse until those that don’t want to live under such people organize, protest hard and, above all VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!

Anyway, The Subjective Perspective is a band whose heart and soul is with the “common man” of America – the working class heroes of this country and not the tyrannical hypocrites who have HATE written all over their faces.  Good for Nick and Lisa.  Let’s hope their music spreads and is hailed – if things go right, “The Dead Peasant Uprising” should be an anthem for the death of the right as we know it.  They seem to be a positive beacon for hope and what’s more, in the face of all the negative, abhorrent things that the press keeps abreast of while ignoring the good that liberal, non-rich citizens are doing, keep a pleasantly positive outlook and are not full of rage, anger or fear.

For more information about The Subjective Perspective as well as a place to listen to as well as purchase their music, you can check them out at or at CD Baby, which you can get to by going to  I hope you’ll enjoy what they have to say as well as their pleasant music.   –KM.

Na Na Na Na Na – Na NA!

Posted: October 18, 2012 in New Indie Music

Buxter Hoot’n

Na Na Na

DIY Released/Distro. By Randex Communications

Review by Kent Manthie

    Buxter Hoot’n, the fiercely independent, San Francisco-based quintet, anchored by two brothers, Vince and Jim DeWald, has been making underground rumblings for some time now.  Described by various music press outfits (Relix, Bay Guardian and Americana Review to name just a few) have described their music as “indie-Americana”, “Psychedelic Americana”, etc. –with the emphasis being on the “Americana” bent.  Which is fitting, since these days, the term “indie” is so far-flung and is really a state of mind, not a genre in itself, that it requires a more descriptive adjective to either fit in a box or, in the case where the artist/band is so iconoclastic they don’t fit in anyone’s idea of a “box” or “label” or what-have-you.  That’s when you file under “misc.” or “crazy-axiom-starters, ahead of their time” (sometimes a decade or two depending on what their deal is).

Well, suffice it to say, Buxter Hoot’n is good but they’re not so far out as to have a “box” all to themselves. With their own special songwriting abilities alongside the production talents of “Grammy Nominated” (I don’t know whether that’s supposed to be a self-promotion or a self-effacement) producer, Greg Magers, Buxter Hoot’n set out to make this swiftly running EP, kind of like a handful of precious sands through ones fingers – once your hands are emptied, the six-songs on this brilliant album are gone just like that (sound of fingers snapping)…

Their latest, a six-song EP that came out last month (Sept. 4), entitled Na Na Na, continues the band’s “Cosmic American” sound with a couple parts psychedelia and what a reviewer (mis) construes as “progressive rock” – well, nice try, but when I (or many) people think of progressive rock we think of bands such as King Crimson, the old, real Yes (from their 1968 debut-ending with 1979’s Drama-their reunion doesn’t count for anything), Brian Eno, Soft Machine, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Faust, Can & Neu.  But when it comes to neo-psychedelia –  the best way I can describe it is as 1960s-inspired music without all the haze of drugs and the chaotic times thrown in, which isn’t to say that I’m knocking Buxter at all – no, they have a very interesting sound all to themselves (just don’t call it “progressive rock”, though)

With only six songs on Na Na Na, it took me a few listens, playing it straight through from start to finish it, in order to form a coherent opinion of it and to be able to understand where they’re coming from as well as the fact that the more you listen to something, the more that you absorb.  For instance, on the opening cut, which happens to be the title track, there is a very catchy chorus to it.  “Na Na Na” indeed!  The verses are quiet, melancholy, and are sung with a groovy harmony that includes dual vocalists, Vince DeWald and Melissa Merrill.  For curiosity’s sake, the band is rounded out by bassist Jim DeWald, fiddler/guitarist, Ben Andrews and drummer Jeremy Shanok.

The second tune, “Kids These Days” is punctuated by a raucous jam solo by Ben Andrews and Vince D, who also plays guitar – the violin and the guitar complement each other nicely and the fieriness of Ben’s fiddle really screeches, screams and cries.  This is no surprise for any hardcore Zappa fan, one who’s listened to Hot Rats a lot and Overnite Sensation, both which feature some genius guitar work by Zappa and violin playing by both Jean-Luc Ponty and Sugarcane Harris, who just tears it up alongside Frank on the masterpiece, “It Must Be a Camel”.

Anyway, there’s more too – “Fake Heart Attack”, which despite its similarity to “chick-pop”, actually branches out more and gives you a big, fat surprise, in that it’s not “chick rock” but a well-crafted piece of music – it only gives off a faint air of pop-surprise – but the surprise is that instead of skeptically skipping over it, something in the music keeps you mentally paralyzed and you stay tuned to it just long enough to realize that – “hey man, there’s something to this!” –

Next up comes a ballad of sorts, “Haunted House” – not a creepy , eerie goth tune, but more of a metaphorical reflection of a collection of memories that don’t forget and keep remembering all the good as well as the bad and that which need not be thought of again,  I’m sure everyone knows someone like this.  The main line to this tune goes like this:  “Your mind is like a haunted house/Something stirring in the air here/the door opens up and you see yourself/Through the cobwebs that hang like decades still around/You’re on the ground…” and so on – kind of a wandering through the mind of one’s grandma or aunt or old family secret keeper, what-have-you.  Whatever it is that they are actually getting at there is a nice poetic touch about it.

This year marks Buxter Hoot’n’s seventh year together, with the original lineup intact and all.  Earlier this year the band got the chance to play to a national audience, when they appeared on NPR, on that radio network’s syndicated, Sedge Thompson’s West Coast Live.  Plus, the band’s 2011 eponymously titled album was a milestone of sorts for the band: one of that album’s songs “Blue Night” propelled the band to a plethora of featured album, artist categories and charts on the indie scene with even some airplay on over 200 stations around the US.

They seem to have a spark in their sound that seems like it’s fresh and just building up to what is sure to be there best work yet.  But for those of you who are still curious and/or just want to give Buxter a listen to see how they fit into the swing of things then I would suggest you check out their website:, on which you can not only read about the band at more length and get photos, etc. of the members, but there is also a treat for fans and potential fans out there – a number of various songs from the new release is up for grabs as a free download – so, track ‘em down if you want to listen before you invest.  But, please, since we’re talking about a DIY band (who is lucky enough to have Randex Communications supporting their effort by entering into a distribution deal with them, so as to reach as much America as possible (thanks, Randy!)

Anyway, check out the site, download the tunes and support your local indie band – shun the corporate- Nazi-mafia-pederast machine.  You’ll be glad you did!!  Plus your money will be MUCH more appreciated by a few people at one small label instead of thousands upon thousands of faceless, nameless number-people who don’t even matter in the long run, that is, to their companies.  Clean your consciences out by going indie and stop listening to Clear Channel!!!   -KM.

Joan of Arc for beginners…

Posted: October 14, 2012 in New Indie Music

Here is a perfect bio of Joan of Arc – one of the most intricate, talented and chameleonic bands of all time and they do it all with a delicate balancing act that includes many side projects and affiliated bands with interchangeable members.

I borrowed this bio from the Polyvinyl Records website ( – please go there and visit it – there are lots of other great bands besides JOA to discover and love – you can find out all about them and order any of the albums that they release.

Chicago’s Joan of Arc is never reliant on the status quo. In the course of their history, the band’s recorded output has elicited not only critical praise through challenging the norms of traditional songwriting, but also significant backlash from reviewers who became increasingly confused by the band’s eclectic output. Following an eight year stint with Delaware’s Jade Tree Records, Joan of Arc made the jump to a new label and a new beginning with Polyvinyl late spring 2004.Joan of Arc‘s genesis can be traced to the days of Cap’n Jazz. Cap’n Jazz was founded by brothers Tim Kinsella (vocals) and Mike Kinsella (drums), bassist Sam Zurick, and guitarist Victor Villarreal while they were still in junior high or high school. In the band’s last year, guitarist Davey von Bohlen joined. Although Cap’n Jazz‘s history was short-lived, they built a strong local following in the Chicago area and released two 7″s, several split 7″s, numerous compilation tracks, and a full-length.

Following Cap’n Jazz‘s July 1995 break-up, Tim Kinsella began writing experimental, abstract songs with keyboardist/guitarist Jeremy Boyle. Additionally, Tim and Sam Zurick were both learning new instruments (guitar and drums respectively) in a separate band with bassist Erik Bocek (a high school friend who had also doubled as Cap’n Jazz‘s roadie). Their songs paid homage to bands like The Modern Lovers and Slant 6. After some discussion, and with the addition of Mike Kinsella, the two groups became one.

They named the new group Red Blue Yellow and though Tim, Mike, and Sam all had been in Cap’n Jazz, everyone agreed Red Blue Yellow needed to be a complete overhaul rather than merely a continuation of Cap’n Jazz. The solution? Everyone switched instruments. Such a drastic change wasn’t free of difficulties: the band played their first show in March 1996 and promptly broke up. Throwing the old material away, the group started over with new songs and a new name. Three months later, calling themselves Joan of Arc, the band debuted June 1996 at Autonomous Zone in Chicago.

Shortly after the first show, Joan of Arc recorded 1996’s Method & Sentiment EP on Jade Tree. The Busy Bus, Sunny Sun EP on Southern was the band’s second release and appeared in 1997. Both were 7″s. Several months after the Southern 7″, the band’s debut full-length, A Portable Model Of, was released on Jade Tree June 1997. The album painted post folk and post rock on top of impressionistic aural canvases. The calm instrumentation, odd sounds, and effects on the album established a template the band would continually re-examine and re-invent on successive albums. With the appearances of Azita Youssefi (Scissor Girls, Bride of No No, Azita), Ryan Rapsys (Euphone, Heroic Doses), and Davey von Bohlen (The Promise Ring, Maritime), the album established the Joan of Arc precedent of using outside collaborators to assist in fleshing out the core group’s songwriting.

1998’s How Memory Works LP was more realized and complete than A Portable Model Of. The album creatively displayed electronics and composition alongside bits of analog synth noise and short sound vignettes within a rock framework. By the time the album was released, Sam and Erik quit the band and were replaced by Todd Mattei (Friend/Enemy, L’Altra). The album showcased the band’s ability to deconstruct and reinterpret traditional rock in addition to classical madrigals and various forms of classical structure.

Although Joan of Arc wanted to distance themselves musically from Cap’n Jazz, the past inevitably caught up to them in 1998 when Jade Tree released a 2-disc Cap’n Jazz anthology. The discography was unintentionally revisionist. What had been a group of teenage friends playing in a punk band was now being touted by zine culture as a band who had galvanized a genre. Suddenly Cap’n Jazz had “dominated the Chicago indie scene of the early nineties” and were “a band who helped transform emo from a deeply underground punk subgenre into a more widely accepted subset of indie rock.” Not only were such statements false (their following had been highly regional and by no means dominant, their overall influence was most likely being distorted by the success of Davey von Bohlen’s band, The Promise Ring), but Joan of Arc was now tagged with a genre buzzword that didn’t fit.

Joan of Arc‘s reaction to the increased visibility was to become more minimalist. With 1999’s Live in Chicago, 1999, the band pared themselves to a three-piece with Jeremy Boyle, Tim Kinsella, and Todd Mattei handling the songwriting reins. Contributors included Kevin J. Frank (Gauge, Radio Flyer), Mike Kinsella (American Football, Owen), Jen Wood (Jen Wood, The Postal Service), and others. The album also marked the first time the band would heavily use the studio as an instrument. Engineers Casey Rice and Elliot Dicks were invaluable in creating the sparse, warm soundscapes on the album. The album delighted hardcore Joan of Arc fans, confused critics expectations of the band, and began to cultivate the “love ’em or hate ’em” debates that began to surround the band. The record just sounded different. One of the reasons was that on the first two Joan of Arc albums, Casey recorded the rock tracks and Dicks handled the experimental songs. On Live in Chicago, 1999, the equation was reversed.

The line-up that appeared on 1999’s Live in Chicago, 1999 appeared again, albeit expanded, with 2000’s The Gap. The continuous decision to deconstruct and reconstruct song structures and the increased emphasis on the “studio as instrument” philosophy combined with the expanded line-up, ended up being too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen. While fans could appreciate what the band was trying to accomplish with the studio experiments (some songs used 100 tracks), the critics threw their hands in the air. The band was earning a reputation as being highly eccentric and fucking around for fuck’s sake.

In reality, the band was burned out. Throughout Joan of Arc‘s history, the major misconception had been Joan of Arc was merely a vehicle for Tim Kinsella’s songwriting. What was often overlooked was the holistic nature of the band and their penchant for using outside contributors. But 2001’s How Can Anything So Little Be Any More EP was a different affair. Maybe it stemmed from frustration or maybe it was the need to add a sense of finality, but after the band recorded the songs, Tim went into the studio and intentionally altered the songs on computer. Rumors circulated, and they were true: Joan of Arc was dead.

For the first time in years, Tim Kinsella was without a band. In 2001, Tim returned to the studio to record vocals and guitar for a solo EP on Troubleman Unlimited. Later that year, he and Mike Kinsella teamed up with Sam Zurick and Victor Villarreal and formed Owls. Despite attempts to keep the band together, Owls ended up releasing only one album. Another band Tim was involved with was Friend/Enemy. The ambitious collaboration among Chicago musicians included members of Joan of Arc, 90 Day Men, Hella, Califone, Heroic Doses , Need New Body, Ghosts and Vodka, Bride of No No, and many others. The collective concentrated on improvising accompaniment to loose song structures. It was the second time in as many years that Tim Kinsella had been reunited with founding Joan of Arc member Sam Zurick.

The two began heavily writing together. The songs were being written around, and recorded concurrently with, other projects–projects that had significant personnel overlap. Deciding what to call the band proved to be a challenge and the two decided to reform Joan of Arc. The Gap had been such a challenging album that Jade Tree originally balked at the idea. They wanted Tim Kinsella to record the songs as a solo album. Kinsella felt uncomfortable with the notion. The songs were co-written and the majority of the collaborators involved had been in previous incarnations of Joan of Arc. The label ended up accepting the more accessible songs which would become 2003’s So Much Staying Alive and Lovelessness. The remaining songs appeared on Perishable Records as In Rape Fantasy and Terror Sex We Trust. The band admits The Gap had pushed their songwriting boundaries the furthest. Although they had achieved what they’d set out to accomplish, it was the one album they were most uncomfortable about. If The Gap was the pendulum swinging as far as it could in one direction, two new albums signaled that the pendulum was swinging back.

Spring 2004 found Joan of Arc touring with their side bands the Love of Everything and Make Believe. The tour included a stop through Champaign, IL at Nargile. The show started late and it was the night of Daylight Saving, Joan of Arc didn’t finish their set until 4:00 AM. At the end of the show, Joan of Arc handed five-song demos to the Polyvinyl members who had been in attendance.

The new songs were drastically different, more composed, more refined. Joan of Arc, the band that had been creatively reinventing themselves album after album, had not only reinvented themselves but discovered a cohesive vision toward the future. The new songs were a band coming into their own. Following the tour, Joan of Arc returned to Chicago and Polyvinyl contacted them. The rest, they say, is history.

August 2004 saw the nationwide release of Joan of Arc‘s Polyvinyl debut, Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain…. The album marked the debut of new Joan of Arc member Cale Parks (Aloha) on vibraphone and percussion and also featured members of Town And Country, Love of Everything, Make Believe, Owen, and Pit er Pat.

In honor of the band’s 2006 ten year anniversary, Joan of Arc released the retrospective, The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc. The release collected all of the rare, out of print, vinyl only, comp tracks, and Japanese bonus tracks the band had released in their 10 year history.

After 10 years as a band, momentum can surely change and Joan of Arc and Kinsella worked through this change with the release of 2008’s Boo Human. A collective effort, Boo Human found Joan of Arc in studio with one-week of recording time and a sign-up sheet for contributions from 14 musicians. These musicians, with past work that has included collaborations with Wilco, Iron & Wine, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Beth Orton and Prefuse 73, recognized the chaotic energy of a diversified recording atmosphere. Boo Human is frenetic and tense, yet entirely cohesive.

On June 9, 2009 Joan of Arc released their latest effort, Flowers. Recorded over the course of a year in four different sessions with four different line-ups, the album holds true to Joan of Arc‘s penchant for the unexpected.

Anyway – thanks very much to Patricia and Andy and the rest of the crew at Polyvinyl for not getting mad at me for putting this up – I just love JOA so much that I want to share it with as many as possible (except for major label corporate death machines that turn bands into shit).

Also – lookout for the new self-titled Joan of Arc album to come out soon – right now you can pre-order the album on a limited edition vinyl LP.  The regular album comes out Nov. 27.  Right now, all I’ve heard is about it’s being on vinyl, so I don’t even know for sure if they’re going to put it on a CD – leave it to Joan of Arc to do something as unusual and unexpected as that!  But I REALLY hope that I will be able to get my hands on at least an MP3 copy of it to review since I don’t have a turntable anymore.

Thanks for reading,


Joan of Arc playing live at the Casbah in San Diego, CA, May 16, 2011


Posted: October 13, 2012 in New Indie Music

Various Artists

Sound Interpretations:  Dedication to Franz Kafka

Haze Netlabel

Review by Kent Manthie


Those of you who are familiar with the work of the brilliant early 20th century author, Franz Kafka will appreciate this new release from the netlabel, HAZE.  Various experimental artists have contributed to this effort deserving of the label “Kafka-esque”.  In all there are 23 songs on this album – electronic mish-mashes, ambient, atmospheric trance-inducing drones, all put together in a delightful way as a perfect soundtrack for reading any of his many dysphoric tales of personal, inner mental terror, such as Kafka’s iconic novel, The Trial or his short story/novella, Metamorphosis.

Kafka was a terrific writer who wrote lots and lots of short stories as well as a few novels.  Some of the more outstanding of his stories include odd allegories and enigmatic tales of strange things happening to iconic individuals – many of them metaphors for the state of European society at the time (in the first and second decades of the 20th century).  Titles such as “The Penal Colony”, “The Hunger Artist”, “Metamorphosis” and many others are still very much relevant today.  The meanings that lie within these dark and stormy tales are timeless classics that have never ceased to be applicable to society in general – take any era in the past 100 years and apply one of Kafka’s stories to it and you’re bound to come away with a metaphor for that particular time.

Anyway, on Sound Interpretations… many independent, DIY artists have contributed a song or two to this grand collection of very dark-ambient-drone experimental music.  A few examples of what can be found on this collection include:  “Samsa”, an apt musical accompaniment to “Metamorphosis” – those who know the story will know exactly what I mean when they hear it – with lots of electronic works, synthesizers, etc. Out Level makes this a tingly noise-music song with its insect sounds, clicking and squirming, those who have a phobia of cockroaches or other little bugs may be put in a state of paranoia from this.  Vlad Buben adds a nice touch with his song, “Kafka”, a sort of synthetic-symphonic experience that has a uniquely Eastern European ring to it, but also with some neo-classical bent to it – it sounds a bit Stravinsky-esque, with the bells and timbres that haunt some of Igor’s music.  The whole album starts off with a 16+ minute drone called “Dream About Loneliness”, another apt title that is fitting for Kafka and his works.  Many of the songs range from the five-eight minute length, but like the aforementioned “Dream About Loneliness”, which clocks in at 16:47, there are some other longer tunes – including a song by Wehwalt, called “Anacoulthe K.”, “Josef K”, the name of the protagonist from the iconic novel, The Trial, by Koxdeer as well as a tune from Ike Stirner, whose been featured in other reviews for his own works – he contributes the 11:08 length song, “Kafkaesque Times”, and as I mentioned, there have been many moments in recent history that one could point to and say that they were eras that were very “Kafkaesque” – and the present state of affairs in the world is probably even weirder and stranger and more arbitrary than even the forward looking and imaginative Franz Kafka would’ve imagined!

Along with the neo-electronica drone and ambient atmospheric titles, there are also quite a few songs which take that vibe and add a touch of the symphonic edge to it.  On the song “Kettensage Strafkolonie”, Duran Vazquez does a delightful yet chaotic melting pot of noise, cut-up sounds and samples of blood-curdling screams, reminiscent of “The Penal Colony”.  In the end, though, this is definitely an album that will be alluring to fans of this great man’s body of timeless and great literature.  Even if you haven’t read a single thing of Kafka, the genius and intricacies of the music on Sound Interpretations… will definitely pique your interest.  Happy listening!  -KM.

Saturday Looks Good To Me


Polyvinyl Records, 2012

Review by Kent Manthie

Michigan-based band Saturday Looks Good To Me is an “experimental/indie-pop” band that has been around since 2000.  Frontman/Singer/Songwriter/Producer Fred Thomas, formerly of His Name Is Alive, Lovesick and Flashpapr is the driving force behind SLGTM, writing the songs, arranging their music and engineering their style and outlook, creating intricate soundscapes that hearken back to “Detroit Soul” (i.e., Motown/TAMLA)

Originally, SLGTM was started as a basement recording project, just some kids messing around, up until 2002, when they started getting noticed by playing live shows around the Motor City.  On the back of their touring project, they built up a cult following, which was sealed on wax in the form of numerous 7” singles and even some DIY homemade CD-R releases (mostly sold, no doubt, at their live shows).

Eventually, all this touring and their various 7” singles, combined with their staunch cult following, resulted in their being signed to Chicago’s legendary Polyvinyl Records.  The first CD they recorded for Polyvinyl was All Your Summer Songs and the more “polished” sounding Every Night, released in 2003 and 2004, respectively.  Every Night was the album that brought into the band their new, female singer, Betty Marie Barnes, who stayed until 2007, making her the longest-staying female singer of the band.  Unfortunately, though, Ms. Barnes went her own way in 2007, leaving mainman, Fred Thomas to take over as the one and only lead singer in the band.  By then SLGTM’s music was also evolving as well, which was evident on 2007’s Fill up the Room, which was released on K-Records.  Fill up the Room was, musically, more experimental and exploratory then their previous two full-length CDs, which is evident on the nearly 7 minute pop whirlwind, “When I Lose My Eyes”.

After their 2008 European tour, Thomas “retired” the band in order to concentrate on other projects that he had brewing at the time, such as City Center and the record label he founded, Life Like.   But for the hardcore fan, on Record Store Day 2012, All Your Summer Songs was re-issued on white vinyl in a special limited edition of 250.

The “Sunglasses” CD single is what we have for right now to groove to from this re-emerging blissful pop band which just disappeared in 2008, because of Fred’s aforementioned focusing on his other projects.  But don’t despair, hardcore fans, there is both a new lead (or is it co-lead?) singer, Carol Catherine, whose sexy, smoky vocals seem to slither all over this synth-tinged song (“Sunglasses”).  So, watch out for Thomas, Catherine and the rest of SLGTM to come back with a full-length CD of brand new tunes.  After a four-year absence, it’s good to have these guys back!

Their fifth as-yet-untitled CD of new material is no rumor, it is in the works right now and as soon as I get it, I will go through the album and deconstruct it so as to enlighten you on its worth.  But for now, just be happy with these 2 new songs:  think of them as something to tide you over until the next full-length CD comes out in 2013.  Happy Listening…KM.

Here is a press release I just received from the good people at Randex Communications (thanks, Randy!)

Roger Hodgson, Legendary Voice of Supertramp,
Returns for ‘Breakfast in America’ this Fall

First Major U.S. Tour in 30 Years Hits East, West Coasts
Amid Sold-Out European Trek and Critical Acclaim

Fresh on the heels of his current sold-out European tour and additional sold-out performances earlier this year in the U.S. and South America, legendary songwriter and vocalist Roger Hodgson, co-founder and original singer-songwriter from Supertramp, continues the U.S. leg of his popular “Breakfast in America” tour this fall amid tremendous critical acclaim.

The 34-date tour – which features all his hit songs including “The Logical Song,”  “Breakfast in America,” “Give a Little Bit,”  “Dreamer,” “School,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “Child of Vision,” “Even in the Quietest Moments,” “It’s Raining Again,” and “Fool’s Overture” – is his first major U.S. tour since his departure from Supertramp in 1983.

No longer the young shy virtuoso, he is now a charismatic and full-hearted performer, his signature voice sounding better than ever. As Rolling Stone noted following a performance earlier this year: “Remarkably, the humble musical legend is back and his signature voice sounds stronger than ever… To see and hear Roger Hodgson in concert today is not simply to experience a sort of musical homecoming. It is also the only real way to hear some of the most beloved songs ever sung as they were meant to be sung by the man who first brought them to life.” Added the Huffington Post: “This is the real deal: a legendary music man, in brilliant form and shimmering presence, supported by a tight, terrific band.”

Universally hailed as one of the most gifted composers and lyricists of our times, Roger Hodgson helped define a generation of progressive rock, and wrote and sang Supertramp’s globally successful and enduring anthems – timeless songs that helped his former band sell well over 60 million albums to date. His unmistakable voice also propels Supertramp fan favorites he created such as “Hide in Your Shell,” “Child of Vision,” “Don’t Leave Me Now,” and “Lord is it Mine.”Hodgson delivers all of those songs, as well as solo compositions such as “Only Because of You,” and “Lovers in the Wind” from his five solo album releases, on his world tour.

Uniting generations at his concerts, Hodgson and his four-piece band transport baby boomers back to their youth and give younger generations a taste of why his heartfelt songs have endured. Breakfast in America had sales of over 20 million copies and hit the #1 spot on album charts worldwide. Audiences are once again experiencing the magic and spirit that Hodgson created with Supertramp.

Hodgson closes his concerts with the crowd singing along to “Give a Little Bit,” a song heard in a recent video that went viral with over six million views. Hodgson’s timeless composition has a universal message that is as relevant today as when he wrote it over 40 years ago. The newest version, “Give a Little Bit with Children’s Choir,” was just released as a single on iTunes.  Hodgson’s latest CD, “Classics Live, is available through iTunes or from


Hodgson co-founded Supertramp in 1969 and for many fans was the heart and creative force behind the band for the 14 years prior to his departure. Roger’s passion for his music and his art shines through in the magic and intimacy that is felt when he performs his songs in concert.

“Success in music to me is when I look out and I see a member of the audience crying or having ecstatic joy in their heart,” says Hodgson, who was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture at a sold-out Paris concert earlier this year. “To me, how much I have shared my heart and been able to touch someone else in a positive way is the measure of success as an artist.” The San Diego Reader remarked on Roger, “Frequently entertaining the audience with stories about the origins of his songs, Hodgson connects deeply with the fans in a way few stars of his stature do.” 



10/26   Rancho Mirage, CA    Agua Caliente Casino

10/27   Modesto, CA             Gallo Center for the Arts – Mary Stuart Rogers

10/29   Friant, CA                  Table Mountain Casino

11/1     Glenside, PA               Keswick Theatre

11/2     Westbury, NY             Theatre at Westbury

11/3     Ridgefield, CT            Ridgefield Playhouse

11/4     Lynn, MA                   Lynn Auditorium

11/7     Englewood, NJ           Bergen PAC

11/8     Morristown, NJ           Mayo PAC

11/9     Shippensburg, PA       Shippensburg University – H. Ric Luhrs PAC

11/13   Carmel, IN                  Center for the Performing Arts – The Palladium

For complete information on Fall concerts go to:

Click here for a video montage:

Visit Roger online at:

# # #

For additional press information, please contact:

Renee Pfefer, On Tour PR, 914-273-0007;

Randy Alexander, Randex Communications, (856) 596-1410;

Beanie Sigel

This Time

Ruffhouse Records, 2012

Review by Kent Manthie


Despite his being sentenced to two years in federal prison for tax evasion in mid-July, that still hasn’t stopped legendary Philly rapper, Beanie Sigel, from putting out This Time, a little something to keep his fans happy and sated while they await his release (sooner than 2 years, if he’s lucky and he behaves himself while inside) from the pen.  Well, now, at least, Beanie will have some “street cred” from his stint behind bars, even though it’s only for tax evasion, not murder or pimping or selling/possessing drugs.  Of course, that is really stupid thinking – going to prison is not cool or hip, nor does it give anyone any kind of “credibility” – and being in a gang is only for losers who have no individuality and are usually highly uneducated, ergo, they are easy prey for the life of group-think, brainwashed to do the “boss’s” bidding.  But, everyone knows that so…

At the same time, Ruffhouse Records has been reborn under the new, watchful eye of its new CEO, Chris Schwartz.  “We’re extremely proud to be re-launching Ruffhouse Records with Beanie Sigel as our first artist,” exclaims Schwartz, a co-founding partner of the legendary label, also from Philly.   Schwartz also says “His [Sigel’s] sentencing today [July 12, 2012] doesn’t change any of that in the least…” – change any of what isn’t spelled out, but one assumes he’s referring to the resurrected label’s undying support for long-time Philadelphia legend, Sigel.

Beanie Sigel, ne Dwight Grant, got his start back in the late 1990s when he was signed to Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records.  For a while he made guest appearances on Jay-Z songs as well as on “Adrenaline!” by The Roots, but he finally got his big chance when, in 2000 “Beans” released The Truth, which featured contributions from Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, Eve as well as Scarface.

The Truth was quickly followed up with The Reason, in 2001, which had a hit with the single, “Beanie (Mack Bitch)”.  A year later saw the release of his film debut, State Property, which is how Sigel was introduced to what would become his backing band, also called State Property, which featured “Freeway”, “Young Chris”, “Neef Buck”, “Peedi Crakk”, Omillio Sparks and “Oschino”.

It wasn’t long after that when Sigel followed in the footsteps of Jay-Z, Sean “Puffy” Combs, etc. and started his own record label (also called State Property) and a clothing line.  These days it’s not enough for a hip-hop/rapper to have success a music act, they have to expand and put their names on jeans, shirts, jackets, shoes, etc. and having your own label is another great revenue stream.  For today’s hip-hop artists, it’s not just about the music or the lyrics, the style or whatnot, it’s really about making as much money as possible and they don’t shy away from this over-the-top greed at all, but are proud of it and show it off as much as possible.  For many, though, it’s a dream come true, especially for those who’ve really come from poor roots – growing up in the projects in the inner cities of Philly, New York, L.A., Chicago, Dallas, etc., because if you’ve grown up in abject poverty, never knowing where you’re next meal is going to come from and your neighborhood is not only a ghetto-slum but a virtual war-zone to boot, those with talent who are lucky enough to make something of themselves and who don’t end up selling drugs then ending up dead or in prison,  but have a gift for writing snappy lyrics, dope rhymes and killer beats will eventually get noticed by other hip-hop impresarios who’ve usually been there themselves and get lifted up into fame and fortune – so when you’re in that position:  of virtual rags to riches, it’s no wonder that you want to celebrate and spend some of that bread on a big house, great, fast cars and expensive jewelry.  What a way to celebrate your new status as someone whose finally made it and come up from the mean streets of the city and now can live like a king!

Anyway, as far as the new material goes, “Beans” is still at it, with the dope beats and the slick rhymes and his heart & soul poured into it all.  The songs on it are mostly street-inspired little ditties and there’s plenty of name dropping all over it (Beyonce, Lauryn Hill, etc.).  “Kush Dreaming” is an aptly named song that has a melodic, trance-like vibe over jazzy, instrumental jams (Kush is a kind of super-good weed).  Also inspiring is “That’s All I Know”, which features pop-star Akon on backing vocals.  On the title track Beanie stands like someone looking out over a vista and reflects back on the ups & downs of his wild and crazy career.  “Sigel is What They Call Me” he delivers one of his best vocal performances as he honors the late Notorious B.I.G. and on “Dangerous”, which features another guest appearance, this one by “Game”, Sigel seems to, according to some, channel the “spirit” of Tupac Shakur, while at the same time giving us vivid examples of the ghetto street life amidst which he was raised.

If you’d like to check out Beanie performing some of his new tunes before he’s locked up for two years, check out his upcoming performances on both Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, on NBC and also on BET’s 106th & Park.

But just you wait; Beanie will be back after his short stay in the Federal system and will be ready to really bust a groove!  -KM

Harouki Zombi

Objet Petit

Polyvinyl Records, 2012

Review by Kent Manthie


Harouki Zombi is the name of the neo-disco project featuring Nina Barnes (of Montreal, Apollinaire Rave Art) and Orenda Fink, (Azure Ray, O+S), Objet Petit.  This is their first official full-length CD released on the same great Chicago-based label, Polyvinyl Records as of Montreal is on.

Barnes, besides being a sometime-member of the of Montreal set also happens to be the wife of the frontman of Athens, GA’s of Montreal, Kevin Barnes, the “electric-kool-aid-acid” band that’s been frying brains now for about 15 years or so and as a kick start for her success,   Kevin even wrote one of the tunes on Objet Petit.  There’s been a lot of interesting history between the two of them, which I won’t get into here, although it’s been grist for some of the outré music that of Montreal have put out in the past 5 years or so.

Their debut, Objet Petit, features only four original cuts plus two remixes of the title cut, one is a Rewards remix and the other is a Deniallabs remix.  The CD could definitely have benefited from some more tunes – a little more variety – but with what we’ve got there’s a good vibe going.

The whole Harouki Zombi project is founded on the idea of DJ-ing geishas, with both Fink and Barnes doing their share of DJ-ing as well as singing, although credit goes to Nina for the “lead” vocals.

Their live performances are visually stimulating, spontaneous and thrilling, to say the least.  The whole geisha-get-up is quite the novelty, with both women looking lovely as ever in their Kabuki-style make-up, kimonos and obis.

The idea of making music via the DJ-way (sampling sounds, spinning vinyl etc.) came from Orenda Fink’s husband, Todd, who, himself is a DJ-extraordinaire, having worked with The Faint, Depressed Buttons and Goo.  The way the story goes is that, when the Finks were living in of Montreal’s turf of Athens, GA they suddenly had an “epiphany” – just as they were about to move back home to Omaha, NE.  This led to the pair to look up at Todd onstage, then look to each other and say “let’s be DJs!”  Fink responded to this by replying “yes, but let’s be geishas too!”  The rest, as they say, is history.  The two collaborated, came up with some interesting pieces and put them together with the help of Kevin Barnes, who wrote Vacated Hunters, a song that has a typical of Montreal feel to it.

The other three songs have a decidedly more disco-esque vibe to them, although not in a retro way, but in a forward-looking, technological-era, head-spinning, heart-palpitating, dance mix.  The music is very, very electronic – no guitars, drums or bass here – all synths and computerized sounds, the talent is in the way they were all put together and the seemingly ease of it, belying the arduous task of getting every beat and every little sound just right.

No idea at the present time what is in store for the future of Harouki Zombi, but I think it’s enough to just get out on the dance floor and enjoy Objet Petit for now.  It’s also not at all surprising that this would come from the womb of of Montreal, so to speak.   Both bands have an inordinate amount of tricks up their sleeve and both weave magical spells with their trance-like, mystery musical visions.

If I’ve piqued your interest, let me direct you to the Polyvinyl Records website, where you can order a copy online – either a hard-copy CD by mail or an instant-gratifying MP3 copy – just go to and look for the Harouki Zombi album cover – it’s on their front page right now, since it’s brand new – but you can also do a search within their site for “Harouki Zombi”, which will bring you to their album.  From there you can inspect some of the music before you buy and when you’re convinced it’s for you, just order it right from there.

Here’s hoping that we’ll get a longer, more in-depth CD by Harouki Zombi in the future!  For now, though, listen to Objet Petit and lose yourself in its mind-numbing delicacy.  –KM.