Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CMJ '08? I didn't have a badge!

Long ago, I was a KWUR DJ. And got to go to CMJ, with a badge and everything. In those days, banks actually had money. This year, I didn't have a badge. And look at the banks now...Being in New York, however, I had the opportunity to go to some of the events. The actual DJs have already covered all the bands that I saw, but I did get a nice little recap from some other attendees. There were lots of complaints about this year's festival, but there were a few stand-outs. So, here are some bands that people were talking about at the after party/various other parties:

Wye Oak
-Apparently, it's mind-blowing that they're only two people.

The Mae Shi
-Long story short (or short story shorter, rather), Kenny's right

Passion Pit
Lots of people wanted to see them, but no one I talked to actually did. Most people were waiting until Saturday's planned rooftop show to see them, but the show got rained out.

Kirsten Ketsjer
-Okay, no one actually said anything about them. But we saw on Friday night in what was essentially some dude's bedroom. By Sunday, their picture was in the Times. 'Nuff said.

So Many Dynamos
-Granted, this is from people who already knew the Dynamos very well. But, apparently, the new album is awesome. And doesn't come out until February. Smarmy bastards.

-Everybody I spoke to saw them. Suprisingly, everyone came out alive.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sea Em Jay Blog: "My face still hurts from getting a trashcan thrown at it"

Hey folks,

Sorry I took my sweet time getting this post up, but by the time we got back last night, it was 4 in the morning, and I decided that I should at least try to get 5 hours of sleep. So, let's go back to Saturday, a simpler, wackier time.

Because of CMJ, I actually happened to be in town for the unreal vinyl collector wet dream that is the WFMU Record Fair, and I cajoled my fellow attendees (primarily sleepy Kenny) to wake up early so that we could go for just a little bit. WFMU is a thousand watt non-commercial freeform radio station based out of Jersey City, and basically, my personal idea of what KWUR should aspire to. Every year, they invite every obsessive record dealer in America to hock their wares in the city. The selection made me go cross-eyed: everything from old country shellac to impossible to find punk records to 100 dollar Northern Soul 45s to a whole big box of song poem 45s. Additionally, WFMU was broadcasting live from the air. A DJ was spinning 45s, and while we were there, a DJ actually got married on the air. Anyone want to step up to get married during KWUR's Hustle Week? I had to be torn out of the record fair, but I came out with a few groovy soul 45s, which I intend to play on my show, so, ahem, tune in, Sundays at 7.

After that, we headed to Music Hall of Williamsburg to catch the AAM party. Last time I went to Music Hall of Williamsburg, it was called NorthSix, and had a charming shithole quality to it. I remember distinctly that the toilets in NorthSix were not even in bathrooms, but merely had tall plywood boards erected around them for, uh, privacy of some sort. Alas, the folks from the Bowery Ballroom bought the venue and prettied it up. We caught the last couple of songs by Crystal Antlers, which didn't really make much of an impression on me. Next up were the Ruby Suns, a New Zealand band with an electronic, exotic, upbeat, happy New Order kind of sound. Can't say exactly why, but it just didn't grab me at all. After that, we watched A Place To Bury Strangers put on the kind of noise show that makes your lip curl up and your feet stomp through the floor. Their drummer is tight and their guitars squeal, fuzz and yelp like broken robot animals. I enjoyed the show, but I also couldn't tell you what makes them any better than any other eighties/early nineties noise rock band. I was going to leave at this point to try and catch Passion Pit, per DJ Alex Esche's request, but I found out that the show was canceled (boo!), so, having no other plans, I stuck around to watch Monotonix again. Once again, they tore it up most veritably, although because of the time, the larger venue, and the audience of mostly industry professionals, they did not do it to the extent they did in the Knitting Factory. It was really neat, however, to see them get the industry stiffs going, and to have the lead singer instruct us to go "fucking wild" at the count of four. This is the kind of rock and roll I really like, the kind that grabs you by the collared shirt and shakes the groove out of you.

We got some grub in Chinatown, and then DB and I headed over to the Bowery Ballroom to catch Marnie Stern, Vivian Girls et al. First up, noise rockers All The Saints. Most of what we saw at CMJ, especially on Saturday, were these noisy, amp fuzz bands. I enjoyed and appreciated most of those shows, but also thought that the music was generally indistinct, and yearned for those good old fashioned harmonies and the good old build-up and release of pop. All The Saints was a good example. I thought the show was alright, especially the drummer, who was a freakin' nut, but I couldn't tell you for the life of me what makes them special, or why you should keep an eye out for them. After them, Marnie Stern. I was disappointed by this show, no lie. I had high hopes for it, and while Marnie Stern's combination of weird, child-like yelped lyrics and Malmsteen-like fingertapping was certainly interesting, I yearned for just one goddamn distinct song. It all kind of blended together. After Marnie Stern, my favorite show of the night, The Vivian Girls. See, this is the kind of thing I like, a three girl trio specializing in Ramones-style surf/girl group informed punk with fuzzy guitars and lovely vocal harmonies. Y'know, it's nice sometimes to have two minute songs with harmonies and vocal hooks. I say, check these folks out, pretty good. I ended the day as I began it: Crystal Antlers. The blogs are championing these guys. I dunno, it was a high-energy, engaging show, but again, I don't know what distinguishes them from all the other noisy bands, and I certainly don't remember any one song. But hey, maybe I was just tired.

So that was CMJ, as colloquial and badly written as I can get it. I'll get pictures up for you folks ASAP. Fare thee well.

CMJ Day 2: I probably should have invested in earplugs (Kenny)

It has occurred to me that perhaps not all of you readers know exactly what CMJ is, so I'll direct you here for all the pertinent background info.

In any case, we began Day 2 with a quick(ish) visit to the WFMU Record Fair. Afterward, we headed over to Music Hall of Williamsburg to catch the AAM showcase. Here's the breakdown:

The Ruby Suns

Only caught the end of this show. The band is a multi-instrument duo from New Zealand who (on record) sound like they're channeling The Go! Team through a psychedelic filter. Unfortunately, I didn't find them to be as impressive on stage, but from what I caught, it certainly wasn't a bad way to start the day.

A Place To Bury Strangers

There was no shortage of noise rock at CMJ, but A Place To Bury Strangers was, in my opinion, by far the best of the pack. They took the stage wordlessly but not silently, blasting their dark take on shoegaze with the volume set to 11. I'd heard that these guys put on a hell of (a loud) show, and I was not disappointed. There were industrial undertones playing throughout the show, with strong tension between the solid, churning bass and the wild, almost chaotic guitar line. The visual show (rare among other acts ) was impressive as well. I stood close to the stage (which, unsurprisingly, was pretty empty) to get a few good shots of the band, and as a result was partially deaf (hence the title) afterward.

Near the end of the show, Oliver Ackermann, the guitarist, forcibly removed the strings from his guitar:

Crystal Antlers

I was in and out for this show, but I caught a full set later in the evening at the Bowery Ballroom. They, too, made a hell of a lot of chaotic noise, but only one song really stood out for me - a kinda funky, swinging melody backed by primal, forceful drumming (aided by dual percussionists). They, like many bands at CMJ, played well but not particularly memorably.


What can I say - we noticed that these guys were finishing off the AAM show and, with no other plans, we stuck around to see what they could do to this venue (I heard, but did not witness, that they had been forcefully removed from the VICE afterparty after setting up shop on the bar). The show was crazy (though not as outright insane as last night's) but knowing what to expect, I actually took some time to listen to the music they were making amidst the chaos. Pitchfork's photographer bitched about the quality of their music, but you know what, I thought it was pretty damn good garage rock ala Zep - and based on the reactions of those around me, I think other people felt the same way.

After the showcase ended, we grabbed a bite to eat and wandered around the city for awhile in the rain. Shainks and I decided to head back to the Knitting Factory to try to get into Dieselboy, but the show wasn't accessible with a CMJ badge and cost 20 bucks. We trekked to the Bowery, met up with Dan and Dylan, and saw...

Vivian Girls

This Brooklyn trio has been hyped by a lot of blogs - and in this case, they absolutely deserve it. They play loud, messy, lo-fi punk/garage rock (like, sounds like you're hearing it in a garage - not a bad thing), but deconstruction of the noise reveals awesome vocal harmony, jangly guitar and drumming that'll get yr foot a'tappin. This was their last show of the week (they had played 2 shows a day almost every day), and they looked a little worn down, but they sounded great. At one point, they started a song off-beat and had to begin again, and at another, Cassie forgot some lyrics. In the end, though, none of that mattered - they rolled with the punches and played one hell of a show.

We caught up with the band after the show and got a quick interview, check back here for it a little later.

That more or less sums up the shows we saw - nothing quite as nutso-crazy-awesome as yesterday, but good performances nonetheless.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Monotonix Eentarveeeww

I had a quick chance to speak with Yonatan Gat, guitarist of Monotonix, after their show at Music Hall of Williamsburg (before security kicked us out). It was barely a minute (audio coming soon!). Here is a text preview:

Me: How would you want people to remember you in 30 years?
Yonatan: Rich and bald.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

CMJ Day 1: Descent Into Madness (Kenny)



9:30 – Wake up on the floor, get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I do not remember much – I am not a morning person.

11:00 – Just picked up badges at a church near NYU’s campus. There is a Voltaire quote on the church’s bulletin board – a sign?

12:30 – We all attend an actual conference event – “Little Stations, Big Obstacles.” It appears that other people are going through the same things we are, which is somewhat encouraging. My favorite panelist is Jorge doCouto – he is involved with East Village Radio, which is a wonderful concept executed in the much the same way KWUR is, but on a more professional level (they try to make money).

1:46 – Panel over, we head off in separate directions. I make my way to the Knitting Factory with the fine Mr. David Schainker.

2:15 – We arrive at the Knitting Factory in time to catch our first show of the festival, Carcrashlander. They make a lot of noise for three guys (drums, bass and synth) and certainly aren’t bad, but the fact that I don’t remember much of the show suggests perhaps that they were not great. Good, most definitely not great.

2:45 – Shainks departs, I get lunch in Chinatown (mmm McDonalds – an authentic, culturally stimulating meal) and head back to the Knitting Factory to catch Starfucker.

3:40 – Starfucker puts on a good show, but they seem, to me, to replicate the sound that MGMT made popular (that is to say, glitch-synth pop). The hipsters dig it.

4:00 – After a few songs, I make my way to Arlene’s Kitchen to catch part of the Team Clermont showcase.

5:00 – I’m now at the Team Clermont showcase, and I catch all of The Broken West’s set. They’ve certainly got a lot of energy, but their style of melding folksy rock and poppy hooks doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I need music that’s rough around the edges… but, I still enjoyed the show.

6:00-7:45ish – We get dinner with some KSLU folks, meander, etc, and eventually head over to the Bowery Ballroom for the next round of bands.

8:00 – Sweet Water is supposed to play first, but for whatever reason, The Muslims come on instead. It’s more than a fair trade – The Muslims kick ass. They play angry, stripped down garage punk rock with every bit of their energy focused on their instruments. One of the guitarists, face contorted, looks as if he’s trying to physically punish his guitar. It’s catchy as hell – not obnoxious but plenty loud, perhaps in the vein of Ted Leo but even more intense. My only complaint is that the show is too short, clocking in at just over 20 minutes.

9:10 – Japanese Motors is up next. I had specifically picked this band to see because we’d received a single from Vice, their label, a few days prior to our leaving and I’d liked its laid-back, surf rock/Beach Boys sound. Their live show captured that sound, and I still like that particular song, but the rest of their material is lackluster. The lead singer is a dead ringer for Iggy Pop, in looks and attitude, which wouldn’t have been a problem except: A. the music didn’t really back the attitude (punk evolved, in a way, from surf rock, but these guys just didn’t get it) and B. the lead singer made up for his overabundance of style with a severe lack of substance. Spitting beer on the crowd, really only okay if it’s a no-holds-barred, all-hell-has-broken-loose-and-the-5-0-are-on-their-way kind of show, and believe me, it wasn’t. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

9:40 – More meandering, grab some coffee in Chinatown and head to the Knitting Factory for our last round of shows of the day.

10:40 – We arrive at the Knitting Factory in time to catch the end of Akimbo’s set. I’ve got a big ol’ soft spot in my heart for stoner metal, and this hits it dead-on. Granted, the genre itself is predictable and the show followed the paradigm – loud, heavy, freak-out guitars hooks and pounding drums transition to psychedelic, spacey noodling and back again – but they hit every note with unparalleled energy. Very much in the vein of Kyuss. A good start.

11:00 – Dan Burton and I catch the end of Yip Yip’s set. He doesn’t care for them, but I like it – it’s like listening to a live, chaotic version of the Megaman soundtrack and the audience was going batshit insane. Also, I want one of those guys’ headgear.

11:10 – Akimbo mentioned that they’d be heading down to see DMBQ, so DB and I figured we’d do the same, kill time until The Mae Shi. DMBQ plays Japanese prog-rock, which I neither liked nor disliked right away. I’d categorize it as a faster and weirder cross between Black Sabbath and The Doors – garage rock on speedballs. After 10 minutes or so, the hooks and beats have been sufficiently pounded into my head, and although it’s been fun, I’m looking at my watch and considering going upstairs to wait for The Mae Shi.

And then this happens, and my night and life are changed forever:

First the lead singer dons his crazy gas-mask-mic, the bass and guitar lines meld into a high pitch whine, and then this:

And I lose it. That was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, period. The drummer is playing ON TOP OF THE CROWD, the lead vocalist is screaming and hanging from the sprinkler system, and the people who run the venue are going nuts. My ears and mind are sufficiently blown.

11:45 – Outside, taking a smoke break and waiting for The Mae Shi to go on, I mention to DB that we should just go home now because nothing will ever top what we just saw. So wrong.

12:00 – The Mae Shi take the stage with almost religious fervor. They’re just so damn happy to be there, and it makes you happy too. Their music, played live, fluctuates between experimental electronica and hardcore. At one point they introduce a large parachute-tent sheet into the crowd:

The crowd is very much into the music, which is at once catchy and bizarre, a rare musical mix of avant-garde and pop sensibilities.

12:40 – The Mae Shi have left, and we are considering doing the same to catch Gang Gang Dance. Shainks, who has been at other venues up until this point (catch up with his antics in his account of day one, somewhere on this blog), informs the three of us that Santo’s is at capacity and that there’s no way we’ll get in. Monotonix is up next at the Knitting Factory, and we nearly leave to go home, but in the end decide to stay for it.

1:10 – Monotonix take the stage, at this point all I can offer you is pictures.

Quick rundown of things that flew through the air during the show: beer cans, cups, a pair of crutches, a garbage can, a drum kit, human bodies, blood, sweat, tears of joy.
Injuries: No idea, probably more than a few, saw a musician from another band bust his head open on a bass drum. He seemed unphased.

Every single band that had played that night was on stage during the show, while Monotonix themselves played in the pit. At one point they picked everything up and moved it to within two feet of where we were standing. The lead singer scaled a giant pillar and hung from the balcony, singing and tossing the VIP attendees’ alcoholic beverages on us. Security and techies looked on with stony faces.

The show ended in total convergence of musician and audience. The lead singer declared “ALL DRUMS UP IN AIR” – this was the tipping point, there was no going back from here. DMBQ joined them in the crowd, and together we all hoisted 4 drum kits and 4 drummers above our heads. We used whatever we could – fists, cans, discarded drumsticks – to collectively beat the hell out of the drum nearest to us. Complete, ecstatic, beautiful chaos. The show ended with security declaring to the audience that the cops had been called, and that we all needed to leave. Instead, Monotonix organized a group stage-dive – and every musician on stage, on the count of four, fell into the arms (and heads, and necks, and torsos) of the audience. I leave knowing that I have seen, for perhaps the first time in my life, an honest-to-god rock and fucking roll performance. My eyes are opened.

Thus day one ends, as I stare through a thick film of alcohol and sweat on my glasses. Stay tuned tomorrow, God knows where we’ll all end up next.

Sea Em Jay Blog: My Personal Super-Sweet Sixteen Diary

Oh boy, oh boy, so much to talk about. In the wee span of this day, I saw 9 (Count 'em, 9) bands. Lemme try and get it all down on uh, virtual paper before I crash and get a little bit of shuteye and then go out for another crazy day.

Got up around 9:30 AM, got all neat and pretty, had a bagel, set out for CMJ. We went to one very good panel today, entitled "Small stations, big obstacles", featuring the promotions director for KCRW (An NPR affiliate associated with Santa Monica College, probably best known for the program Morning Becomes Eclectic), a staff person from this college station in Kalamazoo (which she whined only has 100 watts - boo-hoo), the creative director from East Village Radio (these are crazy motherfuckers who broadcast online - and used to broadcast illegally - from a storefront next to a pizzeria), and a fellow who works at YepRoc and the Duke radio station. Really a useful panel, these guys were strumming my pain with their fingers. I got some good ideas from the panel, but this is mostly boring business stuff, so I'll save it for the DJs at the next All DJs Meeting.

From the panel, we got some pizza, then headed out to the Team Clermont party at Arlene's Grocery, where we ran into KWUR alum Dan Milstein and those crazy KSLU cats. Up first at the Team Clermont party was St. Louis favorites Pattern Is Movement. You might remember these guys from KWUR Week last year, and if you went to that show, you know how good their live show is. What amazes me about them is their ability to make music that is rocking and fist-pumping and yet also moving and oddly intimate. You feel like you're looking in on something private when you watch their show, and they make singing their songs seem like an act of great courage, just through their intensity. Great show, those guys have been touring all year, and are probably due for a nice long break. After that, my second favorite show of the day, Miniature Tigers, who sound like a slightly punked up, slightly indie-d Beach Boy revival. We've got the record in the station (in new releases, in fact, I think). It was good, toe-tapping music, the kind of thing that makes you feel warm and bubbly and happy about the world. It was especially up DB's alley, I think, but he can tell you that himself. We might get those guys for KWUR Week, so check out their myspace, and tell me what you think. Then, I caught the first few songs by the Broken West. I wasn't really excited for the show (that kind of fairly standard indie generally turns me off). But what can I say: they had good songs, and they played them really well (their bassist was especially impressive).

I took a brief leave of absence and then met up with the crew again at Bowery Ballroom, to catch Japanese Motors. By consensus, this was the only band we saw tonight we didn't care for, which was kinda funny, because it was also the only one any of us had heard before (besides Pattern Is Movement). It was basically a punk takeoff on surf rock, which just felt unnecessary, because *punk* already did a punk takeoff on surf rock, and the drummer was just mediocre, which is never good in a surf rock takeoff. The lead singer was also obnoxious, so self-consciously rawk, strutting and spitting beer and generally being a big poseur. I don't have much patience for that sort of thing.

DB, Kenny and I took off after Japanese Motors for the Knitting Factory. We stopped in Chinatown to have some coffee and Chinese pastries (Kenny got this weird thing that looked like a chocolate log). First band we saw at the Knitting Factory was Akimbo: pretty solid stoner metal, not my thing, but the kind of thing that would be my thing if it were my thing. After that, teh crazy! I went down to the Taproom, a smaller section of the Knitting Factory, not really expecting anything. All of the sudden, these nutso Japanese guys are strutting around the stage, spewing out garagey noise, swinging from the sprinklers, gripping the guitar between their teeth, running into the crowd, putting on a gas mask with a built in microphone and PLAYING THEIR DRUMS ON TOP OF THE CROWD. This is DMBQ. The music itself, I personally went back and forth on. It kind of sounded like the beginning and end of a garage rock song, but occasionally they got into a real cutting garage riff. It felt like a tribute to like, everything great about rock and rock and roll culture, or, alternatively, a noise parody of garage rock conventions. Really, really interesting stuff, a crazy show to watch.

Went back upstairs to the Main Stage and caught the end of An Albatross (not very memorable, but fully competent noisy psychedelic rock), and then watched the Mae Shi do their fun pizza-party punk with keys and chanting. These guys can lay down some vicious riffs and nutso drumming, and even get funky at times. It was one of the most positive shows I've ever seen, just smiles all around. At one point, they threw a big tent into the crowd. At another point, they shared birthday cake with us. One of the band members was wearing a t-shirt that said "I'm glad you're alive". Well, I'm glad you're alive too, Mae Shi, alive and producing some happy music. At times, the set had long lags between songs, which I don't like, but still, a good set.

Then, the best show of the night, Monotonix, a funk-punk, garage, MC5 sounding band from Tel Aviv. Let me tell you something about the kind of concert goer I am. I do not like heavy moshing or violent crowds and prefer to stay a way's away from the pit. I really, really, really do not like having beer spilled in me. Well, I left this show with my eye hurting from having a trash can thrown at my face, and I'm covered in other people's beer, but that was still one of the best shows I have ever seen. We knew it'd be a doozy when they set the drum set up in the fucking crowd (A short conversation between me and the girl next to me: "They're setting up the drum set in the crowd? Oh my gawd..." "That's what I said..."). I don't think the band ever got on the stage. Nothing but hard hitting, crazy funk, and insane (really, like mentally ill) antics. Beer cans were thrown everywhere, a trashcan got thrown around (and hit me in the face), beer was thrown over the whole crowd, the band played in the crowd. They abused the shit out of the drummer. The lead singer poured beer on his head not once but twice, and at one point started playing an extra floor tom on the drummer's head. The lead singer climbed a support pillar and was fucking around near a balcony, hanging precariously over the crowd, which led security to surround him and actually say to him "Get the fuck down", which is the first time I have *ever* seen venue security tell the artist to get the fuck back on stage. They even moved the drum set mid set to where we were. The whole thing was madness, no escape anywhere, it really was a dangerous situation, with some people bleeding (including the drummer). The venue staff and security were clearly flipping a shit. But that only made it one of the best rock shows I've ever seen. At the climax, the lead singer called for "All drums in the air", and the crowd lifted all extant drum sets - and drummers - on their shoulders, while the drummers played. Incredible. When we left, I saw two squad cars worth of police, apparently called by somebody to quell the kerfuffle.

Well folks, I got a big day planned tomorrow, and I'll blog about that one too when it's done. I've got some great photos too, which I'll post when I get back to the Lou. But I got to hit the sack now, it's 4:30 over here, I'm writing like it's 4:30 and I'm dooooone.

CMJ 2008 First Thoughts

What's up everyone,
So, KWUR's CMJ crew needed an inside man to get into 21+ shows. Apparently, besides DJ Meatface, I'm the only one over 21 on exec staff. This is indeed a disturbing universe.

Anyway, we arrived in town last night in time to catch the tail end of Thursday festivities. We went to Drom in hopes of catching some hip hop, especially if it's hosted by dudes like Pharoh Monch. The bouncer said the event was 21+ since the venue wasn't serving food (which would have made it 18+) - Dj DB, The Intern and Kenny bounced to get some food on a stick (NYC is awesome!). The only artist left on the bill at Drom was Empire ISIS, a female, North African (?) hip-hip/reggae MC who is in charge of so much testosterone on stage you'd think she manages gang bangs after her shows.

She had 3 male backup dancers, a drummer, bassist and DJ. Almost everyone was from a different country, which made the tracks interesting musically, and Empress Gangstress (as she is also known) engaged the audience well, as she is known as a good entertainer.

Ultimately, however, her performance fell flat, since Drom was thinly populated with people at the ends of their evenings. She tried hard to keep us from leaving, becoming "bored" performing her own songs. She also sounds like a cross between every female pop star's voices combined with a little bit of extra mask to blast your face. I think she could either sound smoother and less forceful, or she should have more female members accompanying her on stage.

Her music varied from bouncy, active, party hip hop to a slow jam she dedicated to all the "gangstas" all over the world. Another track was about female solidarity and fighting for a woman's right to party by her own rules. All around good message in her music, which was nice to hear compared to other female rappers who tell their listeners to bend over and get flexible for the next available cock.

A different message is welcome anywhere, and Empire ISIS is savvy, world educated (she's lived many places and even biked through 7 countries - read her bio), and not afraid to do as she pleases. Given the venue (what the hell does Drom mean anyway?) and her growing maturity as an on-stage performer, I'd give her show last night a 6/10. She's got good potential for the future (positive, emotional hip hop=win), but really needs to change her vocal sound. It is not attractive aurally, and probably strains her voice too.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Byrds with Mr. Earl Scruggs

When I should be studying, I look for cool things on the youtubes.

Here is a video of the (post-psychedelic) Byrds playing with Mr. Earl Scruggs on banjo.

Just thought you might enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Saturday Evening Post-up

Greetings, welcome, etc. to the inaugural edition of the Saturday Evening Post-up. A couple of things might be running through your mind right now, such as "What the hell is this?" or "It's Tuesday, not Saturday." I'll get to the first question shortly, though as for the second, well... I don't know. I didn't feel like waiting until Saturday.

The Saturday Evening Post-up is a review of what we're playing right now on KWUR, and will include new music reviews and charts (if I ever get around to posting them). Reviews are written by our very own, very talented DJs, and will be reprinted here as they are on the CDs laying around the station. There's not much more to it than that - check back for every week (probably on or around Saturday) for a new edition. Now, without further ado, this week's reviews:

Ra Ra Riot - "The Rhumb Line"

Great use of string instruments (violin and cello), works well with the guitar. Cool driving rhythms, but a bit derivative of their EP (for anyone who's familiar with it). Not much change from EP to LP. Gets a bit pop sometimes, but the dark undertones in the lyrics make up for it.

Play: 1, 3, 4 (sad), 5 (e.e. cummings reference), 9 (delightful Kate Bush cover)

Dynamite Club - "Fusion Era"

Dynamite Club makes irreverent, bizarre, and at times obscene or disturbing noisy rock. This is along some of the same lines as early Boredoms hardcore with a splash of prog (guitar lines and rhythms are at times pretty complex). The vocalist gives a distinctly ESL edge to the weird-out lyrics.

Interesting: 3 (treatment of the reading of the digits of pi), 6 (a satirical prod at jazz fusion), 9 (longest - Mike Patton style disturbing spaz composition)

Marnie Stern - "This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That"

You wouldn't guess it from the cover, but this album is full of crazy guitar riffs and pulsing beats and Marni Stern's exciting voice. It's a decent album - Sleater Kinney and PJ Harvey being a 10 and Michelle Branch and The Donnas a 1, Marnie Stern is something like a 5 or 6. The songs tend to sound the same, though. Very dance-y. Also, I thought the music would redeem the lame album title, but it did not.

Play: 1, 2, 4, 7, 10

XXTeens - "Welcome To Goon Island"

Band name: not great. Album title: not great. Album itself: excellent. Somewhere between spazzy art punk and just about every other genre out there. Lots of primal drumming, the catchiest damn guitar hooks I've heard in a long time, and sexy yelping vox. Maybe some room to improve (first time through is breathtaking, but doesn't hold up well with repeated listens), but this is a solid first album.

Play: 1 (string intro, but don't be fooled - this song rocks out), 3 (primal fucking shit), 5 (catchy, check the horns), 8 (weird electro, then art punk), 9 (best song, rockin)

of Montreal - "Skeletal Lamping"

Collection of instrumental sounds similar to past of Montreal work. Tons of mini songs within songs with abrupt shifts and transitions. Semi-distorted vocals. Less accessible than past CDs and more experimental. More noise focused than lyrical. Electric sounding hooks.

Play: 1, 3, 7, 15

Fucked Up - "The Chemistry of Common Life"

Noisy - and I don't just mean loud (though these guys do kick up one hell of a racket) - hardcore. Each song is layered with at least... 30 guitar tracks, vocals honed on years of chewing glass, and pummeling drum beats. The effect is dense, LOUD - and melodic and beautiful too, in a way. Definitely merits comparisons to Refused's Shape of Punk to Come, and hey, 10 years later, maybe this is it. That'd be just fine with me. (features cameos from Vivian Girls, Sebastian formerly of DFA1979)

Play: 1 (dense, kick-you-in-the-face hardcore, a lot of fun), 2 (check the bongo line), 7 (most accessible on record), 11 (kinda like a reprisal of track 1 - is that an acoustic guitar I hear?)

And the charts...

RankArtistRecordingLabelUser Supplied Version
1 RA RA RIOT The Rhumb Line Barsuk
2 WALKMEN You And Me Gigantic
3 BRIAN WILSON That Lucky Old Sun Capitol
4 OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW Tennessee Pusher Nettwerk
5 LYKKE LI Youth Novels LL
7 MERCURY REV Snowflake Midnight Yep Roc
8 PINK SPIDERS Sweat It Out Mean Buzz
9 ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS Another World [EP] Secretly Canadian
10 SPINTO BAND Moonwink Park The Van
11 RESTIFORM BODIES TV Loves You Back Anticon
12 BAND MARINO The Sea And The Beast Street Parade
13 SPIRITUALIZED Songs In A&E Spaceman-Fontana
14 FOR AGAINST Shade Side Sunny Side Words On Music
15 CAW! CAW! Wait Outside [EP] Slanty Shanty
16 STARFUCKER Starfucker Badman
17 AZEDA BOOTH In Flesh Tones Absolutely Kosher
18 SHY CHILD Noise Won't Stop Kill Rock Stars
19 LOW LOWS Shining Violence Misra
20 WOMEN Women Jagjaguwar
21 BROKEN WEST Now Or Heaven Merge
22 WITHERED Folie Circulaire Prosthetic
23 PORTUGAL. THE MAN Censored Colors Equal Vision-Approaching AIRballoons
24 CLOUDLAND CANYON Lie In Light Kranky
25 BOUND STEMS The Family Afloat Flameshovel
26 WATSON TWINS Fire Songs Vanguard
28 TV ON THE RADIO Dear Science Interscope
29 COLD WAR KIDS Loyalty To Loyalty Downtown
30 DEAD CONFEDERATE Wrecking Ball The Artists Organization


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Album Review: The Menahan Street Band, "Make The Road By Walking"

Alternatively sounding like walking down a Brooklyn street on a warm Saturday afternoon, the best Booker T album never made, and a lost blaxploitation soundtrack, another gem from Daptone. Vibrant, upbeat, classy, late 60s sounding soul instrumentals, tighter than tight instrumentation. Sounds like RJD2, Budos Band...groove on it, mad atmospheric.

Play all, but esp: 1+++(sampled in Jay-Z's "Roc Boys"), 3++(heppy), 4, 6+++(This should be on the best soundtrack ever), 7++, 8+, 10+++(See 6)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Late Night Code Monkey Special: Listen to "Return of the Boom Bap" Mondays 1am-2am CST

I don't write to the blog often. When I am, it's usually to show off megatrond on sourceforge, play up cool hardware upgrades (We just got new CD players - Tascam CD-O1U Pro ftw!) or archive old issues of Sample Magazine. Tonight, I'm just coding the night away and bobbing my head to "Return of the Boom Bap" hosted by our very own DJ Dapper Dan.

You all have to listen to this dope. ass. hip-hop show. You better ask somebody.

Tonight's featured artists include:
The Roots
Handsome Boy Modeling School
Biz Markie
Young Zee
Top Quality
Da Ranjahz
Lordz of the Underground
Binary Star
De La Soul
D&D All Stars

Be sure to catch the show next week now that you know what kind of ill music this Dapper Dan plays!

Alas, you'd never have to worry about missing "Return of the Boom Bap" if our contracts let us stream archived shows...

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Album Review: Various Artists, "Eccentric Soul: The Young Disciples"

Eccentric Soul is a series that digs up soul sounds and scenes that are unknown to all but the most intrepid crate diggers. This volume features the Young Disciples label, a late 60s/early 70s soul/funk label from East St. Louis. Some of the session players on the track (drums, bass) are just insane. Overall excellent, interesting compilation that blends Chicago soul, wacked out psychedelic soul and countrified Southern soul.

Play all, but esp.: 2, 3+++, 4+++(bongos!), 6++ (slow jam), 8++, 11+, 12++(vocals), 13++(break!),19(stomp), 20++, 21+++

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sub Pop Singles Club: September

Everyone's favorite Seattle institution, Sub Pop records, re-established their well known singles club to celebrate their 20 anniversary. For $75, 1500 lucky subscribers will receive a special 7inch 45rpm record every month for one year. I'll review them all right here on the KWUR Blog.
My September 7-inch arrived late in the month. I was surprised to see the vinyl was "Jolly Rancher Sour Apple" green this time, instead of the beige color of the August OM single. This month, Sub Pop treated us to some of their own hometown punk with four (appropriately short) tracks by the Unnatural Helpers.

"Dirty Dumb & Comical", "Connecting" b/w "Break That Horse", "Easy Way"

I don't know much about the Unnatural Helpers, but they are a self-described "punk band from Seattle, Washington." I think that's pretty much all you need to know.

They have a surprisingly clean yet Seattle heavy sound that can't be described as anything but "punk". No "Pop Punk," "Post-Punk," or "Hardcore," -- just simple short northwestern punk.

All songs clock in under two minutes, but it's another strong effort. The opening "Dirty Dumb & Comical" is probably the best track with heavy riffs and drum fills, and minimal dryly delivered lyrics. The next two tracks ("Connecting" and "Break That Horse") stick with this tried and true formula.

But, the closing track, "Easy Way," is the divergent one here. The Helpers slow it down a bit and focus more on their heavy sound - a sound that gladly falls right in line with the celebrated Seattle underground.

And finally, it's nice to see that Sub Pop has added a little emblem on the back above their logo. It simply reads: "Singles Club, Sep 2008, Edition of 1,500." An appreciated move for all the record collectors out there.

I can only hope the October issue is on orange vinyl...



Thursday, October 02, 2008

Livebloggin' 6: The Final Countdown

9:15, Biden, warm bucket of piss: Interesting response, gently poking at the executive situation over the past eight years.

9:16, Palin, warm bucket of piss: Me and Ifill are doing telepathy right now...wow, she really doesn't know what the VP does. Fuck, she hasn't read the Constitution, it seems. I'm ready to call it now, EPIC FAIL!

9:17, Biden, warm bucket of piss: Wow, this is going to sting. Link her to Cheney. Damn, he hit hard.

9:20, Biden, sorry, got distracted: Wow, he does this common man stuff well, eloquent, even crying? Holy shit!

9:21, Palin, sry: Both sides of the legislature are trying to impeach her, too...I was in the "Maverick position" once, hell of a time getting out of it...see, both parties suck, so let's vote for one of them

9:23, Biden, maverick: Iluvhim, I luvhim, I luvhim...Swift boat him! Take apart the maverick.

9:24, Biden, had to change one held view: Thought he was going to do Iraq on this one, surprising. Interesting, using the conservative meme of judicial activism against them.

Losing it, sorry, we're getting geared up for spin alley, Giuliani (that's mussolini, believe me, boo) is outside, and my Brooklynite blood is boiling.

9:27, Biden: Wow, he is quite eloquent and charming on this kind of thing. Too bad it's absolute fluff.

9:28, Palin: Fired people of various political affiliations, too...Is it gonna be ok?...Tax-and-spendocrats, will that fly.

9:29, Palin, closing statements: Without the filter? This is without the filter?...Economic freedom is real popular right now, right?...the conservative "isn't it great back then" really does not ring true.

9:30, Biden, closing statements: I wonder where he grew up, he never talks about it, you know?..."Work hard and play by the rules", winning formula for Dems, at least it used to be.

Alright folks, tune in to the feed, we're gonna try and get at these bigs, see you there!

Livebloggin' 5: Fingers hurt so bad...

9:01, Biden, Afghanistan: Man, this debate is stalling, which means that Palin wins by default.

9:01, Biden, Intervention: Ifill is asking some nice questions. I'm so glad she's moderating this debate...It's Palin's response to Bosnia I'm interested in...Biden's excuse for voting for the war is lame, the same way it was when Clinton said it...Darfur! The kids like that.

9:03, Palin, Intervention: Aw shucks, y'all, I'm not a Washington insider, I don't know nothing bout no ko-so-vo. C'mon, America, you have to be horrified by this, it's Bush's populist conservative "jus' folks" bullshit taken to a grotesque extreme. Does it seem as staged to you as it does to me? Does it sound as dumb to you as it does to me?

9:05, Biden, Intervention/Iraq: Does Biden look too much like a grumpy-puss?...It's much harder for him to make "McCain's got bad judgment" points than Barack Obama, since he's tainted.

9:06, Palin, Iraq: She gets really thrown off when Biden gets tough on foreign policy.

9:07, Biden, Succession: "The worst outcome imaginable. But if it did..." lolz....Capture and kill! BLOODLUST, YEAH!...he really gets on a roll

9:09, Palin, Succession: "What do you expect!" this perkiness is surreal, "Maverick!" is not the answer they want here, you must be reading from the wrong sheet...I really hope this conservative ideology, with the fucking economy melting down, doesn't hold water. Government, please help, no?

9:10, Biden, Succession: He doesn't seem silly when he does the populist line, although there's a little bit of "my father was a balllicker there"

9:11, Palin, Succession: Wow! "Say it ain't so, Joe!" Shout-out?!? This woman is unhinged. Also, gaffe? Joe's wife already has a reward in heaven.

9:13, Ifill: "Everybody gets extra credit tonight." Marry me.

9:13, Palin, warm bucket of piss: Cute exchange...what in God's name is she talking about with VP exerting more power in the Senate "if she so chose"? Has she been talking to Cheney?...Did I mention my baby has Down Syndrome? I think she's really falling apart here.

Livebloggin' 4: Out of names

8:46, Biden, Pakistan/Iran: I always wonder whether Americans know enough about Pakistan to care about it.

8:47, Palin, Pakistan/Iran: God, this pandering to Israel. The worst thing is I think it works..."The Castro Brothers" David Rheinstrom couldn't help but crack a joke at that. Made the media laugh. She's doing better than people thought she would in this section.

8:48, Palin, engagement: She had a "good talk" with Kissinger, this is boilerplate, let's see if Biden can nail it.

8:50, Biden, engagement: OHMIGOD, NOBODY CARES WHO REALLY RUNS IRAN, NOBODY KNOWS ENOUGH, STFU...He could really do better on this one, nice with the allies "talk talk talk", Spain crack made the international press laugh, he really needs to point out how insane McCain's stance is.

8:51, Palin, Israel: Let the sloppy blowjob commence! She's all over the place with this answer. Does she even know what the two-state solution is? Couric, quo vadis?

8:53, Biden, Israel: Nice to actually answer the question, Joe. Sigh...one day we will have a sane conversation about Israel. Not today. At no point is America's right to meddle in the affairs of other countries ever questioned in these debates. It's our sandbox. Always. Ooh, that was some nuance with insisting on letting Israel run its own shit.

8:54, Palin, Israel: "We both love Israel!" Threesome time...this administration screws up, everyone screws up! Not gonna fly, sister, no way, no how.

8:55, Biden, Israel: Jam this in, how are they different, keep it up. The McCain Campaign has given me ten sets of talking points over the course of this debate, no lie.

8:56, Palin, nukes: She sounds to me like she doesn't know what she's talking about, but does she sound that way to America?..."Surge principles?" Sorry, but wtf are those?..."A true comment hurts our cause", freudian slip, huh.

8:58, Biden, Afghanistan/nukes: Don't play this "listen to the generals" game, Dems won't win those...the nuclear system is broken, so I think Biden is wrong on this in principle. Also, you can't stick McCain for being anti-proliferation.

Livebloggin' 3: Palin in Africa

8:30, Palin, Climate Change: How can you not argue about the causes and argue only about the solutions? "Give those fuckers sandbags"? If you're getting slowly stabbed to death, do you say, "hey, let's not argue about the causes?"

8:32, Biden, Climate Change: Biden is a really tuned-in debater, check out that nice little "difference" move...way to make McCain look dumb, say drill, drill, drill with such disdain.

8:34, Palin, Climate change: Environmentally friendly drilling, yeah? Also, thanks, cheerleader mom, for making sure we get the cheer right. She's doing ok here though, bamboozling sufficiently.

8:35, Biden, Climate change: Sure he's lying about this clean coal stuff, sure the people at home are sure too. "Twenty times against alternative energy?" Eh, weak.

8:36, Biden, gay marriage: Stumbled a bit by telling independent bigots that he'll let gays kiss up on each other, but got to the hospital stuff, which is the meat of the issue.

8:37, Palin, gay marriage: She's home here, very comfortable, answer is really well shaped. Should reassure some socially liberal independents, but I wonder if people even care about this stuff (besides the christ kooks), when the economy is in the shitter.

8:39, Biden, gay marriage: No nuance, so no, and then nuance nuance nuance. Niiice.

8:39, Palin, Iraq: She's got this beauty queen bearing, looking straight at the camera that just comes off as weird. Nice on using Biden's own words. Ex-DJ Claire: "When Joe Biden smiles, I feel unsafe."

8:41, Biden, Iraq: "With all due respect, I didn't hear a plan" and just a bit of bite? Too much bite? The media shall decide. Either a good line or Biden's a meanie poopoo head..."We will end this war. For John McCain, there is no end to this war?" Nice, that'll echo.

8:42, Palin, Iraq: Clearly thrown off guard, "white flag of surrender"?, Biden's gotta answer back...this attack on Biden personally draws blood...wow, pitbull time.

8:44, Biden, Iraq: See what I mean, senate record cancels out senate record. Overall weak reply, the same talking points.

Livebloggin' Part 2, Electric Boogaloo

8:16: The McCain camp just gave me talking points. Lolz.

8:16, Palin, Taxes?/Healthcare: Conservatism is patriotic...she memorized this, I bet...Gotta say, tapping into the anti-government stuff in the air, good tactics. I don't want Paulson doing my co-pay.

8:19, Biden, Healthcare: The man can freakin speak, the Scranton stuff doesn't sound put on like when Kerry did it...OMG GAFFE! GAFFE! DID EVERYONE SEE THE GAFFE!...oh damn, that joke was slick, reporters were laughing

8:21, Biden, Cutbacks: Why do we need to cut foreign aide? It's piss-trickle little already...dodge this question, my friend, dodge like the wind! Generalize as much as possible!...man, I hate wasteful spending. We should only spend usefully.

8:22, Palin, Cutbacks: Yeah, this question is toxic, run away. Americans hate hard choices...Oh boy, this is full of shit, the CEOs own Alaska. Her mannerisms make watching this downright surreal. Also, the energy plan was a compromise, everyone knows it..."How long have I been at this, like five weeks?" We may have just heard a campaign ender, folks.

8:25, Biden, Cutbacks: Shows restraint not pouncing. Nice backhanded compliment about how damn weird Alaska is. Biden is debating better than Obama was.

8:26, Ifill, Bankruptcy bill: Biden's bankruptcy bill? Gwen Ifill, you are on your shit.

8:26, Palin, Bankruptcy bill: if she had any idea what Ifill was talking about, she might actually draw some blood here.

8:27, Biden, Bankruptcy Bill: Ifill had to bring it up? Lolz...obfuscate, my friend. The bottom line is you toughened bankruptcy for the credit card companies in your state, and that meant people couldn't pay their mortgages.

8:29, Palin, Bankruptcy bill: Wow, she just obviously doesn't know what this is. I dunno, I'm biased, but she is not looking good at all. Not epic fail yet, but close. Love the cutaway to Biden's smug closed lip smile.

Spin Alley Livebloggin' 1


8:02: "Can I call you Joe?" Eugggh...

8:03, Bailout question, Biden: Man can shape a good word, let's see how he does on the reply. Also, he neglects to mentioned that he backed the bankruptcy bill that helped create some of these problems...

8:05, Bailout question, Palin: "Betcha"? Maybe it's just cuz I'm an east coast elite, but this have-a-beer-with-me shit grates...Oh, he's a real martyr, suspending the campaign so you can capitalize on it politically.

8:07, Bailout question, Biden: "On the sidelines", he takes her words and he twists them without sounding nasty. HATCHAAA!

8:09, Bailout, Palin: The change thing just hits me as totally incoherent, still. A change would be a change from you guys, if Biden has bad experience, so does McCain...Joe Sixpack is gonna solve the bailout by calling his congressman? Doesn't fly, sister.

8:11, Bailout, Biden: It almost seems like he's not even debating her. Might be a good tactic...as someone who bleeds blue, I love to hear this assault on deregulation...that anecdote really worked.

8:13, Bailout, Palin: Am I not paying attention? What does tax relief have to do with this? Did she just veer off?

8:14, Bailout, Biden: Flashback from 04, nice when both candidates are senators, cancels out. AND HE JUST STUCK IT IN!

8:14, Bailout, Palin: I wish I could not turn in a paper and say, "That's what the American people want." Fuckin' weak.

Liveblogging from Spin Alley!

Hey folks, I'm sitting here in the rec gym, getting ready to liveblog the debates from the Media Filing Center, aka "Spin Alley"! I'm surrounded by Germans and Frenchmen. John Oliver from the Daily Show is here, he is the only one making noise in the whole building, everyone is looking at him like he's a weirdo. We get the live feed, which is pretty sweet, I get to look at Gwen Ifill patiently sitting, which has always been a dream of mine. I'll send dispatches out every half-hour or so, tune in afterwards when we go live from Spin Alley, with our crack media team.

KWUR, where the K stands for kwality.

Pre-Debate Mischegas

Finally, my hideously expensive education and my ceaseless toil on behalf of KWUR have paid off. I'm going to the big show. I got my ticket to the dance. Hitting the big time. Finally, I've got access to the movers and shakers, I'm going to ask the big questions, I'm going to nail people, I'm gonna shake this whole rotten system. But perhaps more importantly, check out the free swag I get!

Metal water bottle! Damn, Wash U! Also included, but not pictured: a Wachovia pen. The ill-starred company agreed to sponsor this before going down the shitter. So there's Wachovia stuff everywhere, and if you concentrate, you can smell the flopsweat of financial failure here on campus.

So I set out around 5:30 today to capture the various developments on campus. With my v-neck KWUR t-shirt, my camera and a Merantz, a mike and a cable wrapped around half my damn body, I made a quick circuit of the debate area. Here are a few choice snippets:

This is where they're setting up for Hardball, in front of Graham Chapel. If you look closely, you can see the holding pen where they keep Chris Matthews before the show. Most of the stuff on campus is like this, just kind of superimposed on the campus. So there's this weird feeling of, oh shoot, NBC is setting up near where I go for roast beef sandwiches on Tuesday. I'm impressed by how quickly they got all this stuff up. None of it was here a week ago.

Check out the interns! Look at them go!

I really like the guy on the left's 'stache. Tech people, for whatever reason, always seem to look like "Roadie: Metallica '92 World Tour".

Not pictured: The "Sex" sign, pointing to the showers in the DUC.

This is where we're going to be broadcasting from tomorrow (Pre-Debate at 7, Post at 9:30ish). Gotta say, they've done right by us. Check out Bubba's big mug on the screen. Nice.

This is from inside the AC. The "For Authorized Personnel Only" space is where I typically use the treadmill. I would not want to be authorized to access a space that smells like my stale sweat, but hey, spooks gotta have what they gotta have.

The media filing center, AKA Spin Alley, AKA, the Rec Gym, if you can freakin' believe it. This place is posh. TVs, ethernet. WUTV's got a fancy interview space up front, and KWUR is in the back with Asahi Shimbun and German Public Radio. I will definitely let this corrupt me.

This is Barry, a former KWUR DJ(!), now working for Wash U, making sure all the press folks get what they paid for. Back in the day, he spun Industrial. We commiserated over the demise of the Rat, and he asked if we still play vinyl (which of course, we do).

This is from the debate hall itself. Unfortunately, it is slightly blurry, but that's almost better, since these folks are student volunteers used as stand-ins for Palin, Ifill and Biden so that they can get the lighting right. They all fit in the same, uh, category as the person they are supposed to be, so Ifill is a black female, Palin is a brunette with spectacles, and Biden is a tallish white guy. I got an interview with fake Palin. I asked her if she learned how to field-dress a moose in preparation for her role as fake Palin. Apparently, she did not. I question whether she was truly prepared for the position.

Seats on the debate floor, and the tech guys doing the finishing touches. Overheard from one exhausted tech guy: "Is the debate over yet?" Don't blame 'em, they've been working nonstop all day.

The scene from backstage. Wires!

When I took this picture, I thought these were servers, but it occurs to me now they might just be a stack of preamps. Tech folks want to chime in here?

The podiums, from fairly close up.

These are some elaborate soundstages set up in front of the AC. I think they're for the major networks of something.

Overall, didn't get much out of this little trip, outside of the interview with fake Palin. I wanted to chat up the cops and the tech people, but they're barred from talking to the press, apparently. Also, I was a little shellshocked; this is my first time doing this stuff. I'm no journalist, I just read the newspaper and spin soul records. But I'm gonna try and get deep into this thing, see if I can get any neat insights, and besides, I'll have some friends with me. Tune in tomorrow at 7, for commentary from WUPR and special guests, and live coverage from Spin Alley!

P.S. Show yer corner

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Another Friendly Reminder...

(you've probably been bombarded with this but...)

Please register to vote right NOW, deadlines are rapidly approaching in all states...

Google Maps: U.S. Voter Info Map
Find the deadline in your state
State by State voter laws and registration dates

Fix this broken state...