Thursday, January 29, 2009

According to Fleet Foxes, The World is Choking on Gas Fumes

Addressing rumors that Fleet Foxes had signed to Virgin Records, Robin Pecknold softly explained, "Fleet Foxes will never, ever, under no circumstances, from now until the world chokes on gas fumes, sign to a major label. This includes all subsidiaries or permutations thereunder. Till we die." Fleet Foxes are signed to Sub Pop Records. Warner has owned 49% of Sub Pop since 1995. Warner is a major label.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Already heralded with reviews calling it the best album of the year, album of the decade, etc, Animal Collective have hit some kind of heavenly balance with this new album. No Avey Tare yelps on this record-- much more similar to Panda Bear's solo work. Catchy, layered without becoming overloaded (or overloading), beautiful melodies and harmonies. I read today that they've described themselves as "Electronic music made with traditional instruments" and that really helps me get them, as well as realizing their roots in freak-folk (as unfortunate as that term is). They combine texture and lyrics and electronic shimmer into songs that are both jubilant and sad, minor-key without being downers. Lyrics touch on mature themes, just like all the blogs are telling you-- yes, My Girls is about wanting to buy a house. I'm a sucker for finding beautiful in the ordinary, and AC are masters of just that. Spin Spin Spin!

Recommended tracks: In the Flowers, My Girls, Summertime Clothes, No More Runnin, Brother Sport

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Subversive Cinema: NFB of Canada Online Archives

The National Film Board of Canada was founded in 1939 in part as a way to distribute World War II propaganda throughout the Great White North, but went on to become a bastion for experimental animation, “socially relevant documentaries” and other film projects “which provoke discussion and debate on subjects of interest to Canadian audiences and foreign markets.”

Sadly, this government agency which supported so many significant avant-garde filmmakers and animators has been subject to countless budget cuts and department closures over the last 15 years.

However, recently the NFB created a great "online screening room" for your free web-based viewing pleasure. Many of these films haven't been so easy to find (on video at least), so this is a pretty big deal. Below are some of my favorites...

Norman McLaren's Neighbors (1952)

Arthur Lipsett's 21-87 (1964)

Jacques Drouin's Mindscape (1976)

Robert Kennedy's I've Never Had Sex... (2007)

No doubt countless more films are waiting to be discovered...
(Thanks to the Arthur Magazine Blog for the heads up about this new website)



Monday, January 26, 2009



from the Music Maker website:

James Arthur "Boo" Hanks is an acoustic blues guitarist with roots in the Piedmont string band and blues traditions who began 75 years ago. He saved money for his first guitar by selling packets of garden seeds, picking out the same old-time songs he heard his father playing after long days in the tobacco field. As a young man in the 1940s, Hanks earned pocket change playing guitar at barn dances with his cousins accompanying him on mandolin and spoons. His rich musical repertoire reflects his multiethnic heritage (his ancestors were white, African American, Ocinneechee Indian and family folklore believes they are descendants of Abraham Lincoln's mother Mary Hanks.) Today, Boo Hanks lives in Virgilina, Virginia, just over the North Carolina border a stone throw from the rolling hills where he was born. Drawing from the deep musical well of his region, Boo Hanks showcases his virtuosity in the driving time and delicate finger-style guitar of the classic Piedmont Blues made famous by Blind Boy Fuller.
hear some traxx

Sunday, January 25, 2009

KWUR does slam poetry - "I am Socrates..."

"...with Plato pulling at my puppet strings. GET IN THE FUCKING CAVE!"
-Aaron Samuels

KWUR audioservice joined forces with WU-Slam, WUSTL's slam poetry club, to bring their "Grand Slam" to the St. Louis community. Cats showed up from all places in all ages to see poets take the stage and compete for spots on the slam team headed for nationals. Everyone gathered in the Danforth University Center for this chill event. We will rebroadcast parts of the event over the air during safe-harbor hours. The full audio file is hueg (3 hours of audio), so I can't host it here unless I split it 10 times, so we'll keep you posted when its fully available. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the KWUR banner flying high taken with YASCOAP (Yet Another Shitty Camera On A Phone).

Improvised Tech booth above the stage (yeah we had set up backwards :P). We plugged into the house sound system and blasted Mos Def, Sage Francis, Haiku D'etat, !!!, and others (playlist below) for the staff and students alike. We also figured out and fixed the soundsystem problems since the university admins were having saturation issues with it. Three words: check your preamp! Good thing they had compressors...

Main event coming together

In progress with glorious lights and sound. Also, full house!

Needless to say, the slam was great success. Dave and I were surprised by the amount of non-fictional writing by the poets (at least 5 intensely personal verses). After the show, a bunch of people came up to us asking what we played. One dude named Focus (I shit you not, gentle reader) told us we blew his mind with our selection. I wish Focus had a picture of the Dilated Peoples poster he described to me. Mabye it looked something like this:

but wall sized? Who knows. Anyway, here's our playlist in no particular order:

!!! - Pardon my freedom
Aesop Rock - 1000 Deaths
Cut Chemist - the Garden
Cut Chemist - What's the Altitude
Cut Chemist - Spat
Madvillian - America's Most Blunted
Gang Starr - Skills
Mos Def - Do It Now
Mod Def - Mathematics
Haiku D'etat - Mike, Aaron & Eddie
Jedi Mind Tricks - Animal Rap (Feat Kool G Rap)
Jedi Mind Tricks - Nada Cambia
Menahan Street Band - Make the Road By Walking
Poets of Rhythm - Smilin'
Jurassic 5 -
Dilated Peoples - Self Defence
Dilated Peoples - Expansion Team Theme
Zion I - Kharma
Zion I - Bird's Eye View
DJ Shadow - Organ Doner
Binary Star - Masters of the Universe
Aceyalone with RJD2 - Moore
Aceyalone with RJD2 - All For U
Force of Nature, Nujabes, Fat Jon - Nightshift (That's right - motherfucking Samurai Champloo)
Tsuchie - Vagrancy (also off Samurai Champloo OST)
Sage Francis - Different
Rob Swift - Shady Beats
Jamie Lidell - Multiply
Zap Mama - Ndje Mukanie
Tower of Power - I Got The Chop
Tower of Power - Don't Change Horses (In The Middle Of A Stream)
The Capitols - Cool Jerk
Beck - Earthquake Weather
Booker T and the MGs - Green Onions
Seeed - What You Deserve Is What You Get
Robert Plant and Alison Kraus - Fortune Teller
Thomas Newman - Dead Already (from American Beauty)
Soweto Kinch - Good Nyooz
Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up
Sage Francis - Strange Famous Mullet Remover

As always, KWUR DJ's are happy to hold class in fine listening :)

Need sound for an event? Contact kwur audioservice

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations Mr. President

Here's to you...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy M.L.K., Jr. Day

From the Memorial Services For Martin Luther King Jr. in 1969 Washington DC
Courtesy of the wonderful Google-Time/Life Image Archive

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Songs to download of the new Decemberists song

These are all kinda garage-y, lo-fi, nothing like the Decemberists, FYI

Let's Wrestle - I Wish I Was in Husker Du (or go to their myspace and listen to 'Tanks' also.)

Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire (or go to their and preview their new album, "Post-Nothing." I personally like 'Sovereignty.")

Knight School - Pregnant Again (myspace)

Guildean Gang - Everybody Says That You're A Mess (I can't find a download link, sorry)

Mark O'Connor interview on KWUR, Sat. 1/17/09

For fans of the great folk/bluegrass/swing/jazz violinist Mark O'Connor, I will be conducting a live interview with him this Saturday, 1/17, around 1 PM. We'll be talking about his new CD and hopefully lots more. Feel free to listen in on the radio at 90.3 FM, or on the web from the KWUR website. I might even pass along your questions to him if you want to IM them in :) .


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Listeners' Poll (Belated) Results


and they proclaim that I am incredibly lazy. Sorry 'bout the delay, but thanks to everyone who participated. Without further ado:

Most Overrated Album of 2008

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend


Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping

Most Underrated Album of 2008

Pattern Is Movement - All Together

Favorite live show in St. Louis

No Age at the Gargoyle

Favorite Album of 2008


Man Man - Rabbit Habits


Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago


Okkervil River - The Stand Ins


TV On The Radio - Dear Science


No Age - Nouns

Sunday, January 11, 2009

xgau on emmylou, re: "bosom of abraham," also: butts

mr. christgau (yeah yeah, I know) on emmylou harris' breakthrough "pieces of sky"-- dispensing his typical bullshit but also I think perfectly encapsulating why I kind of fucking hate emmylou harris (sorry!):

Pieces of the Sky [Reprise, 1974]
Abetted by Brian Ahern, who would have been wise to add some Anne Murray schlock, Harris shows off a pristine earnestness that has nothing to do with what is most likable about country music and everything to do with what is most suspect in "folk." Presumably, Gram Parsons was tough enough to discourage this tendency or play against it, but as a solo mannerism it doesn't even ensure clear enunciation: I swear the chorus of the best song here sounds like it begins: "I will rub my asshole/In the bosom of Abraham." C+

more here
(spotted via wonderful stwof fyi)

I think my favorite emmylou stuff is still her two albums as The Trio w/dolly and linda ronstadt (maybe just because I really like the other two?)

and this one is so good jeez

finally, here's linda as a buxom lass singing a classic waylon song on the johnny cash show. I was just watching this on the dvd best of which includes a v. nice anecdote about this performance, courtesy johnny's former hairstylist who relates

“at rehearsal june noticed that linda didn’t have any panties on so she came running back to the dressing room, ‘somebody get down the street and buy her some bloomers, she’s out there showing herself!’ when linda was told she would have to wear underwear she was very upset. she said, ‘I sing better bare-butted' and june cc of course says "not in front of my Johnny!”

haha ok

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Terry Allen, on "Radio Memories and Other Things"

Dig the famous West Texas singer-songwriter, sculptor and uh I guess radio-playwright discussing the Magic of Radio:

"I know that there was another radio station later on when I was in high school, out of Oklahoma City. It was KOMA and they had a radio contest that kind of beamed out as far as their station beamed, and I can't remember the nature of the contest but if you won you got two weeks completely paid round trip tickets, all expenses paid, anywhere you wanted to go in the world. So this was a huge contest. And I remember that when they announced the winner -- the guy that won was somewhere in Oklahoma I think -- he wanted to go to Salt Lake City!

I also remember -- and this is god's truth! -- after Wolfman Jack there was a preacher that came on, I can't remember his name, but he sold this kind of staggered version... starting with Bible place markers through all kinds of little gadgets and doodads and holy articles, starting out with like a quarter right up to a fifty dollar gold embossed red letter edition Bible. But he actually advertised selling autographed pictures of Jesus Christ that were direct from the Holy Land, and he told the story that one of his congregation was in the Holy Land and had in this holy spot come across this stack of 8 x 10 glossies with Jesus's signature on them, and had brought them back and had asked them to be (sold). There was a note evidently with the photographs asking the photographs to be sold over the air to raise money for the spreading of the Lord's word."

more here

here's him singin his maybe most famous song (robert earl keen does it, ya know):

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

R.I.P. Ron Asheton, 1948-2009

"Famed rock-and-roll guitarist and longtime Ann Arbor resident Ronald "Ron" Asheton was found dead in his home on the city's west side this morning, police said. Asheton, 60, was an original member of The Stooges, a garage-rock band headlined by Iggy Pop and formed in Ann Arbor in 1967."



Sunday, January 04, 2009

oh you know reviews and stuff


this album is medium appaling. I have grown to like it better than I did when we first received it but that does not say so much, since once i was medium-appalled (now bored?).
ms. williams has mostly ditched the trappings of country/blues pastiche she once clung to on her critically-acclaimed 90's recs (not necessarily a bad thing, folks!). moreso the loss of her famed perfectionist impulses, I think.
she fails to imbue the cliches she employs with some poetic rearrangement, nudge wink irony or at least some happy earnest resigned embrace. what was once endearing or clever now looks lazy, I guess. there's some alright stuff amidst plodding jammers--
single "real love:" L does for cocksout rockers what she did for strummy weepers (the real love she speaks of is the rocker lifestyle - "standin up behind an electric guitar) as does "little rock star" though I could really have done without that flanger guitar chorus (really!).

and what the hell happened to her voice? flat, nasal spit delivery kills many of these attempts at love songs, torch songs, and lounge soul slow-dancers. her admittedly-affected sanging used to serve some utilitarian function, I think (emotive, ya know), but now it's just something to get past, ignore.

"circles and x's" is good, "tears of joy" is not ("I'll be your be my king").
It makes me happy that she chooses to use the trad blues honey innuendo for the album title and song "honey bee" and I appreciate the extremes to which she stretches the thin metaphor ("I'm so glad you stung me/now I got your honey/all over my tummy") but it's a shame she chose to articulate it with an unlistenable screamy shouty pounder.

she stills sounds the most at home on the two or three country-rockers included--
esp. "well well well" in which ms. williams actually sounds like she's having fun. also I really like this song (recommended!), a callnresponse oldtimey gem featuring charlie louvin and jim lauderdale.
"jailhouse tears" should work similarly, except that elvis costello as guest star duet pardner kind of sucks (sorry, cannot stand the man's garbled brit-croon).
"heaven blues" minimal callnresponse gospel stomper is an embarassing piece of one-dimensional genre affectation (sad to admit, coming as it is from a woman who once recorded albums of this kind of stuff).


"I'm not the only one who's been masquerading/you can walk down fuck-up road, clear to Eden"

here's another album we've had for quite awhile that I'm just getting around to reviewing. it's a tough one to pin down-- murky, meandering story-songs with whispered vocals don't always grab at ya--but there's definitely something I found immediately compelling about it all--

ok, so greg is jackson browne's high school best friend. browne produced his debut way back some 30 years ago or so but nobody noticed and g fell into obscurity, gave up on music until I guess something changed. this album is released on some bitty label start-up run by browne but I think otherwise he has no involvement this time around, probably for the best.

the album is probably some sort of story-suite or something (over my head, of course)--at least there's some thematic and narrative threads here (I'm pretty sure "I am the one"s narrator is the killer in "muddy water"s murder ballad murder, or at least the internet tells me so).
many of the tunes are grounded in a half-hearted romantic optimism - lookin' for love despite the high stakes, pervading sense of despair, what have you.
"who you gonna love," is lonely and desperate lyrically -- "there's nobody here in this little house gonna keep you warm/your guardian angel's just sitting around, watching you toss and turn"-- but the regal piano/organ/guitar hook girds the tune with an anthemic poppiness.
the female duet vocals that accompany the cheerier love songs do wonders for their tunefulness and catchiness, given copeland's old man gruff, half-spoken nod toward smokythroated soul.

probably the notsosecret hero of this record is producer greg leisz, famed A-list session stringman, who plays on all these tracks, plays lap steel, tenor guitar, mandola, mandocello, weissenborn, other things I haven't of... leisz grounds the album is a rustic rootsiness similar to the clean folkpop sound of the npr sub-bluegrass set, but somehow weirder and warmer and hookier and doomier--slooow reverby pianos, organ, bass, strumming, plucking and bowing (minimal percussion).

the two gregs play with or comment on country song conventions without going the ballsy alt route or the over-reverent one (and without making the album sound anything like a country album).
in "typical," copeland sing-speaks:

typical three-day day
and a three-chord song
if it wasn’t for this
I’d be screaming in tongues
and the love light shines
sparkling on razor wire
typical budweiser words
typical steel guitar

coupled with 2 minutes of intro/outro pedal steel and I know it sounds gimmicky and over-clever, but the playing totally sells it (I would listen to leisz kill on steel without the conceit of any song structure, of course).
"a woman & a man" starts off as some rangy groovin folk-rocker with tremelo guitar chords and copeland's on some deep thoughts spoken shit - "there it is again/LA's buzzin like a busted amp/and I think of you.." but then the chorus kicks in, the drummer makes a quick-switch to a C&W two-step, enter fiddles and duet vox (and of course, now we know, this is a love song) and he sings: "pick up your gibson and play/go fall in love and don't stop."
anyway, good album. I like it.