My friend John’s band the Dexateens playing a song…

My friend John’s band the Dexateens playing a song that John wrote 12 years back when we were in a band together. My various bands since have always covered this song and my current band, Parks & Wildlife has, in fact, recorded it for an upcoming ep. John, who sings the song, does not appear in this video.

Aaron Bore

Just a note of thanks to NBC for once again pulling Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip from Monday night’s schedule, thereby freeing me to watch Family Guy reruns on TBS. Aaron Sorkin’s original concept a behind-the-scenes look at what purportedly goes on in the production of a weekly live comedy show à la Saturday Night Live quickly revealed that, as interesting as it might have sounded, and despite how good the first episode was, perhaps there really isn’t that much of interest going on backstage to support 26 one-hour episodes (or whatever constitutes a season these days). Alas, it appears that the grind of putting together a TV comedy show week after week, with the clock on the wall counting down from 168 hours to zero again and again, is exactly that: a grind.

So the show went on hiatus for a little bit of retooling and, when it returned, had been reduced to an occasionally funny but overall pretty boring romantic comedy with all of the TV production stuff taking a decidedly backseat. On the positive side, it made those early episodes look much better in retrospect; the bad thing was that the show had become a colossal bore. By downplaying the let’s-put-on-a-TV-show aspect, Studio 60 lost what made it potentially fascinating in the first place. Rather than concentrating on the love lives of characters who are not as funny or cute or, especially, interesting as Sorkin thinks they are, he should have found a way to refocus his original premise. Who knows what form the the series will take when it reincarnates if it does at all. Hopefully, three will indeed be a charm.

Last time Sorkin tried this (what goes on behind the curtain of a TV show) the amusing and witty Sports Night it worked; this time, it doesn’t. For now, if I want funny and smart, I’ll stick with Brian and Stewie.


DEMOLITION DOLL RODS DEBUT

In 1994, for about five minutes, I fashioned myself a budding record label entrepreneur to some extent. I’d heard pals wax rhapsodically about how incredibly easy and cheap it was to put out a 45, and for the most part – since I put out or helped put out all of two – it totally was. I started a label called WOMB RECORDS, and was lucky enough to be allowed to put out MONOSHOCK‘s first record, “Primitive Zippo” – a searing, wild-ass overloaded mindfuck that kicks off their posthumous CD, a disc that you simply must get. What was I gonna do next? Well, I kind of knew the folks in the GORIES a little bit, as I’d interviewed them for the fanzine I did in the early 90s, and I also met & hoisted beverages with Dan(ny), their guitarist, in Detroit in 1993. My friend Anthony, who ran PAST IT RECORDS and was in the Icky Boyfriends at the time, also knew Danny & the flaunting ladies from his brand new band, the DEMOLITION DOLL RODS. We decided to team up and put out their debut 7″EP together, so it ended up being a Womb/Past It co-production.
What was cool was that the two of us got to pluck the songs that would kick off this still-active band’s recording career from a tape they gave us, and the Doll Rods gave us full rein to select our favorites, track order, etc. I think we chose pretty well. The band never really touched the Gories for raw, unadulterated stripped-down soul power, but I feel to this day that this is the closest that they came. It sold well enough that Anthony & PAST IT did a solo re-press of another 500 copies with a blue-tinged cover; I opted out and threw in the towel for record mogulship. If you ever see the black-and-white cover pictured here, that’s the one that we did. If you never see it, well, here are the songs.

Download DEMOLITION DOLL RODS – “We’re The Doll Rods” (Side A, Track 1)
Download DEMOLITION DOLL RODS – “Give It Up” (Side A, Track 2)
Download DEMOLITION DOLL RODS – “No Tickets, No Passes” (Side B)

Went to see my friend Che’s new band the other nig…

Went to see my friend Che’s new band the other night. Just great stuff, riding the wave between dissonant and melodic in all the right places. The new album, Iron, is also brilliant, and the only place to get it right now is at a live show. The man’s going on tour, so go see him when he comes to your town.

Feb 28 2007 8:00P Club Congress Tucson, Arizona
Mar 1 2007 8:00P Modified Phoenix, Arizona
Mar 2 2007 8:00P Scolari’s Office San Diego, California
Mar 3 2007 8:00P Scene Bar Los Angeles, California
Mar 4 2007 8:00P The Smell Los Angeles, California
Mar 5 2007 8:00P Thee Parkside San Francisco, California
Mar 7 2007 8:00P Sunset Tavern Seattle, Washington
Mar 8 2007 8:00P Towne Lounge Portland, Oregon
Mar 9 2007 8:00P Neurolux Boise, Idaho
Mar 10 2007 8:00P Kilby Court Salt Lake City, Utah
Mar 11 2007 8:00P Hi-Dive Denver, Colorado
Mar 12 2007 8:00P Launchpad Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mar 14 2007 8:00P (SXSW) Habana Calle 6 Patio Austin, Texas
Mar 17 2007 12:00P Epoch Coffee (Sick Room SXSW Day Party) Austin, Texas
Mar 22 2007 8:00P WC Dons Jackson, Mississippi
Mar 23 2007 8:00P Bottletree Birmingham, Alabama
Mar 24 2007 8:00P Drunken Unicorn Atlanta, Georgia
Mar 26 2007 8:00P Pilot Light Knoxville, Tennessee
Mar 28 2007 9:00P Alley Katz Richmond, Virginia
Mar 29 2007 8:00P North Star Bar Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mar 30 2007 8:00P Guero New York, New York
Mar 31 2007 8:00P Rudy’s New Haven, Connecticut
Apr 2 2007 8:00P Gooski’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Apr 5 2007 8:00P Empty Bottle Chicago, Illinois
Apr 6 2007 8:00P Kryptonite Rockford, Illinois

“NEST OF VIPERS” – THE PODCAST CHOOSY PODSTERS CHOOSE

Sure it’s something of a conflict of interest but I’ll say it anyway – a new podcast called NEST OF VIPERS has just made its regal debut, and despite it being hosted or contributed to by people with whom I’ve broken bread in the past, it’s still the most entertaining & laugh-out-loud funny one I’ve ever heard. DANNY PLOTNICK hosts a show that’s billed as being:

“Like the unholy coupling of Fresh Air and The Best Damn Sports Show, Nest of Vipers is smart, funny and irreverent. Each episode features the rantings, ravings and erudite patter of independent musicians, filmmakers, writers and comedians holding court on cultural topics of the utmost importance….”

Like, for instance, the current episode, “WORST ROCK SHOW EVER”, which is just over a half an hour or so. Psychefunkapus gets namechecked. “Robe rock” (Sunn O) is discussed. Pain is felt. I’ve heard a couple of the upcoming ones as well & they’re a blast. You can subscribe via iTunes or just go right here and listen up. I recommend that you do.

Jan & Dean: Carnival of Sound and Other Musings

Jan Berry in the Studio

Mark Moore Interview

Discussion of Jan & Dean history, and the forthcoming album project honoring Jan Berry as a writer, arranger, and producer. From The Back Porch Show with Jammin’ Jay. KBIG Radio, Dallas, TX. January 21, 2007.

NOTE: This is not the actual audio that was broadcast on the show over the Internet. KBIG does not currently archive its shows; and this audio was recorded by staff at KBIG as a favor to Jan & Dean fans who couldn’t hear the original broadcast. Thus, there’s a delay in the background, as well as other voices and sounds in the studio . . . mixed in with the actual interview . . . so listen closely.

The songs from the show . . . the original mono versions of “Dead Man’s Curve” and “New Girl In School” . . . plus our tribute covers of “Anaheim” and “Blowin’ My Mind” . . . are omitted here because of the audio limitations of this recording.

Rough drafts of our tribute versions of the songs can be heard on our MySpace site at: http://www.myspace.com/jananddeantribute.

Listen here . . .

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

The album will feature guest artists such as Sky Saxon of the Seeds, David Marks (original member of the Beach Boys), P. F. Sloan, Jill Gibson, Tom Bahler, and others.

Producers: Cameron Michael Parkes and Mark A. Moore

Scary Movie

Some years ago, Berlin had the first of its Biennales. I went, looked, and wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal Europe, because that was my job at the time. A few weeks later, an art critic I knew from Philadelphia came through to check it out. I caught her leaving the Postführamt, where the show was, and asked her what she’d thought. “Aaah,” she sneered. “A lot of one-liners.” An apt description, I thought. “Except…well, there was this piece by this Portugese guy…”

Oh, yes. It was called Kitsune, and it made me confront a lot of my ideas about art at that time. Basically, it was what’s called a video installation, although, unlike most video installations, which can be seen for as long or short as you feel like in order to get the idea, this one was linked to a narrative, which meant you really had to sit through the whole thing. It was worth it. The visual was fairly static: Japanese mountains, over which fog was coming and going. The text was read by two Japanese radio actors, in Japanese, and there were English subtitles. The story was simple: two old men are waiting out the rain in a teahouse, and, although both are rather shy, eventually they begin to talk, and wind up telling each other ghost stories. I loved it.

And because I’d loved it and said so in print, and was apparently one of the few people who reviewed that exhibition who didn’t zero in on the super-trendy but empty stuff there, the artist, a guy named João Penalva, contacted me about getting a copy of the review. He lives in London most of the time, and one of his dealers, Volker Diehl, is in Berlin, so he’s here from time to time. That’s where I met him almost exactly three years ago, at the opening of another video work, Bahnai. He’s short and round and has a great sense of humor, as I discovered when we had lunch at the Vietnamese place down the street.

So when I got an invitation to the DAAD Galerie for the opening of his latest piece, The Roar of Lions, on Feb. 2, I made a note to go see it. I was extremely busy at the moment getting some book proposals ready, so I didn’t make the opening, and although I used the invitation as a bookmark for what I was reading at the time, I’m ashamed to say it took an e-mail from him asking if I’d seen it, and, if so, what I thought, to get me off my butt to go see it. I used to have several friends here who were always up for gallery-hopping but they’ve all moved, so I don’t keep up as much as I’d like. But I found time to walk down to Zimmerstr. yesterday to take a look.

It’s another amazing piece. It starts with a couple of flashlights moving around in the dark, and then cuts to a scene of a frozen-over lake, the Grunewaldsee here in Berlin. The text this time is in Mandarin Chinese, which, as with Kitsune, means you have to pay attention to the subtitles. This time the story isn’t so easily described, nor do I want to give any spoilers, but at the start the narrator has just witnessed a bloody car accident involving a woman and a girl, and is talking to the policeman at the scene about what he saw. The policeman thanks him, tells him there were other witnesses, and checks his papers, perhaps a little closely. At this point, a note of dread enters the story, although you don’t quite know why. It gets worse when he gets home: unlocking the door, he finds the same policeman and a guy in civilian clothes inside his apartment, although how they got in he can’t figure. The dread gets a lot thicker at that point, in part because of what happens, but in part, also, because we can’t tell where this story is taking place or what the stakes are.

Meanwhile, we are watching the scene on the ice, as ordinary folks are walking on the ice, some (but only a few) skating, and a lot of them are out with their dogs, who are not at their best slipping around. Imperceptably, the sort of brownish-green of the video acquires more and more color, to the point where someone in a red jacket really stands out. But as the story being told gets odder and more infused with fear, the colors start bleaching out again, something Penalva also did with Bahnai. But the story has gotten so gripping by this part that you’re likely not to notice this right away, and it also undergoes a complete metamorphosis in its last few lines so that by the time the credits roll, you’re even more unsure of what you’ve just sat through than you could have imagined.

Suffice it to say that the walk home was completely different than the walk to the gallery. It was the same street (Friedrichstr.), but the experience I’d just been through had changed it utterly. The Roar of Lions was done while Penalva was here in Berlin with a DAAD grant, and if it reflects his experience here, then that might well explain my reaction. There’s also the disconnect between the images of the people out walking and playing on the ice and the narrative overlaying it, much of which occurs in the narrator’s small room. I’d really have to see it again to say anything more intelligent about it, but there’s one thing I can say:

If you get the chance, go see this. The gallery is open from 11 until 6 every day except Sunday, the piece is 37 minutes long, and screenings are every 45 minutes. The show closes on Mar. 10, so you’ve got two weeks. I’ll probably go again, so if anyone wants to join me, let me know. Just don’t expect any light-hearted banter afterwards.

10 MUSICAL RECORDING ARTISTS TO WRAP YOUR LEGS AROUND IN 2007

I’ve found over the years that the eras that I consider the “best” for the sort of music I listen to happen to correspond with the same years that I happen to be paying attention the most closely. Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve naturally concluded, as one who’s been blogging about music nearly every week during that period, that we’re in a pretty solid era of microgenre-bending rock music right now, with fantastic bands or acts popping up every few months. Here are 10 that I’m really into that I want you to be into as well (all names link to the individual band’s sites):

1. TIMES NEW VIKING – (pictured here) Scattered but harmonious, joyful but ear-bleeding, TNV are the 2007 equivalent of the late 70s UK DIY bedroom recording movement crossed with that berserk 1979 Half Japanese triple-LP box set, with dueling male vs. female vocals rattling off of every surface. Their new CD “Presents The New Paisley Reich” blows away their (excellent) previous efforts and is the early favorite for record of the year around these parts.

2. JOSEPHINE FOSTER – Strange and ghostly folk chanteuse who can hit the upper registers & the lower depths as well as any Maria Callas you care to put forward. She never stands in one place too long and may be an acquired taste, but once acquired, wow. She bends vocal notes and guitar chords in ways that generate shudders and deeper wisdom. (warning – her most recent CD-R hints at a very experimental record to come later this year; I suggest starting with “Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You”).

3. THE WOODEN SHJIPS – The prototype band for what I’d want “psychedelia” to sound like in 2007 – heavy but nimble; referential to the flipped-out greats while not overly apeing them; and full of layered, screaming keyboards, guitar and revved-up, droning sound. Only two small-form records in (a 10” and a 45), and they’ve already built up a cult-like following, of which I am a member.

4. NOTHING PEOPLE – Also mining the weirdo garage/psych vein are California’s Nothing People, but they do it in a much more lo-fi, splayed-out, guitar juggernaut sort of manner. Their 2006 EP is a godsend, and hopefully portends a lot, lot more to come like that.

5. PSYCHEDELIC HORSESHIT – Columbus, Ohio-based genre-crappers who play with such confidence and fuck-it panache they remind me of a pumped-up early FALL minus the repetition, but with all the bizarre cut-ups and decided lack of recording quality. I guess you’d call it really loud folk, but sometimes they explode into total noise, and that’s not very folky, is it? Just one and a half 45s so far, both fantastic.

6. THE TIME FLYS – The standard-bearers for punk rock right now, as far as I’m concerned, but these guys + gal are so goddamn fun they can probably even connect to a much wider, non-punker audience (though some people just HATE ‘em!). I compared them to the NY Dolls and old Texas punks earlier in the month, and was corrected by one wag, who said he heard RED CROSS’ “Born Innocent” more than anything else. Bingo! That’s why I like ‘em so much!

7. CHEVEU – Way cool, experimental French garage punk band who’ve already developed a reputation for complex, dirty, gruff songs built around simple, exploding riffs and a variety of tempos. These guys seem to have nothing but upside; I’m totally stoked to hear what an LP from them might sound like.

8. PISSED JEANS – It’s hard to pull off a sound that reminds this particular late-thirtysomething so much of his ear-bleeding youth & the bands from it, but these guys do it, approximating Black Flag, Drunks With Guns and the Laughing Hyenas with every monster riff and every tortured scream. It doesn’t sound dumb, it doesn’t sound dated, it sounds totally raw & alive and worth savoring. Please tour!!!!

9. MISS ALEX WHITE – She’s slipped under too many radars for my liking, which is a crime since every record she’s put out so far is a blast. Tuff, tuneful garage rock that constantly reminds me of some of the late 70s Masque bands from LA like The Eyes, The Bags and The Weirdos or slightly later ones like UXA.

10. CORTNEY TIDWELL – Guaranteed to be loathed by 75% of those of you reading this right now – but I shall soldier on. Miss Tidwell is an up-n-comer from Nashville who I read about & then downloaded a couple tracks from a few weeks ago; her m.o. is to graft exceptionally sparse arrangements & her lovely vocals onto to a template of OPAL-ish, even COCTEAU TWINS-ish melancholy country & electronica. Yeah, I know! Electronica! Put that in your pipe and smoke it! I recommend downloading her track “Eyes Are At the Billions” and proceeding from there. The album’s got more gems like that one.

Honorable mention – SIC ALPS, A-FRAMES, FRUSTRATION, THE BLACK LIPS, SKYGREEN LEOPARDS, CLOROX GIRLS……who else?

SPK’s “CONTACT” & “MEKANO” 45s

SPK were an Australian group who recorded into the late 80s and whose music ended up in the lower-case “industrial” zone – industrial as in disco-dance, heavy-BPM goth garbage; very popular in the late 80s as I’m sure you’ll recall. But in 1978 and 1979 they were an incredible upper-case Industrial band all the way, as it was defined at the time – jarring, abrasive, percussive, and other employing mangled synth sounds and rhythm patterns on scrap metal and cans & the like. I’m a recent convert to their early stuff. I wrote about it over here in 2004; here’s an excerpt from what I said then:

……I am floored by how fantastically harsh and rhythmically complex their debut 1979 singles are: “Contact” and “Mekano” in particular. These are the records that are not only mind-numbingly rare and collectable, but have been popping up on certain collectors’ lists of the world-beating best DIY 45s of that era. I’d have to agree. The 1979 version of SPK took a straight-to-the-gut punk rock approach to early industrial noise, and made a handful of tracks that you simply have got to hear if you haven’t before. I’d count them among my favorite discoveries of the many things I’ve undeservedly ignored over the years……

Both these songs are available on a CD compilation called “Auto-Da-Fe” (buy it here), but if you can’t find that, they’re available right here as well. Prepare to be floored.

Download SPK – “Contact” (from 1978 45)
Download SPK – “Mekano” (from 1979 45)