Garland

Garland's self-titled debut CD is a featured Lost in the Grooves release. Click here to sample the music or purchase.

Garland cover

Garland was recently selected by store staff for Amoeba Music's Homegrown series, where a a notable local act is promoted with in-store displays and ads in local papers. With their stunning vocals, shoegaze guitar shimmer and fragile electronic ballads, Garland's sound is rich, emotive and distinctively its own.

You can visit with Garland on MySpace here.

Garland live at Casa in downtown Los Angeles, December 2009

Juviley – How to Miss The Ground

Juviley's debut CD How to Miss The Ground is a featured Lost in the Grooves release. Click here to sample the music or purchase.

Juviley cover

Juviley is the project of Israeli musician Or Zubalsky, who toured widely with Israel's leading indie acts Shy Nobleman, Geva Alon, Daphna & The Cookies. At 21, he began writing his own songs, and revealed a tender, delicate sensibility far removed from the stereotypical dumb drummer. Inspired by the chamber pop of Brian Wilson, Nick Drake and Belle and Sebastian, on his debut album How To Miss The Ground Or plays nearly every instrument himself. With its heartbreaking simplicity, bittersweet melodies and thoughtful arrangements it creates a unique, dreamlike atmosphere. Once the record was completed, Or moved to New York City, where he plays regularly, in clubs and on the streets.

The critics love Juviley's How To Miss The Ground. Palebear muses, "I sort of needed this album to right my sanity… beautiful, pastoral… equal parts Kings of Convenience, Mojave 3 and Belle and Sebastian." And Caroline Leonardo says it's "an articulate collection of songs sure to warm your soul with pleasant melodies and story-like lyrics… an acoustic dream with the kind of tunes that'll lift your spirits during a rainy day… [it] is one of those rare debuts that carry a lot of clout. This well orchestrated album comes off gentle and well meaning without being pretentious or overbearing in the way that it's so simple and true. Indie pop has never sounded so good."

You can also visit with Juviley on MySpace.

Aeroplane is a Mojo Book of the Year

I'm awfully pleased to report that the Mojo Magazine readers poll for Book of the Year 2007 are in, and my oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel made it into the top 5!

And the winners are:

1. There's a Riot Going On – Peter Doggett

2. Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy – Tony Visconti

3. Teenage – Jon Savage

4. Bit of a Blur – Alex James

5. 33 1/3: Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea – Kim Cooper

Congrats to all the other authors (and what heady company, Bowie mainman Tony Visconti, sigh…), and thanks to Mojo's readers, always the sharpest rock fans in the drawer, for the support.

Arthur Lyman Twofer Heaven

This week, Collectors Choice releases a series of nine CDs compiling eighteen vintage Arthur Lyman exotica LPs in their bird-calling, fish-scraping, pupu-platter-clattering entirety. The liner notes were written by David Smay and myself (with a bio that appears on each disk, and notes for each release). We had fun debunking some of the mythologies that have long clung to this great exotic bandleader, and placing him in context as the true and eternally creative link between small combo jazz and lush island hotel pop. A couple of my favorite discoveries were the rocking version of "Windmills of Your Mind" from 1969's Winner's Circle and a sly bosso nova take on "Hawaiian War Chant" that appeared on the Cottonfields LP, but there's plenty of great stuff to hear on all of these bargain reissues. We hope they'll do something to rescue Arthur Lyman's reputation, which has too long huddled in the shadows of his one-time bandleader Martin Denny.

Check them out here.

Aeroplane and others at NYC 33 1/3 series reading

On March 26, I'll be reading a short excerpt from my 33 1/3 book about "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea" as part of a 33 1/3 – Writers on Music panel at Housing Works Used Book Cafe in NYC. Also appearing are Andrew Hultkrans ("Love's 'Forever Changes'"), Amanda Petrusich ("Nick Drake's 'Pink Moon'"), and Kate Schatz ("PJ Harvey's 'Rid of Me'"). The reading is followed by a Q&A hosted by writer/director Keith Bearden ("The Raftman's Razor").

WHAT: 33 1/3- Writers on Music event
WHERE: Housing Works Used Book Cafe, 126 Crosby Street, NYC 10012
WHEN: Tuesday March 25, 7pm-9pm
COST: free
INFO: http://33third.blogspot.com/2008/03/33-13-authors-at-housing-works-nyc.html

Deadbeat Poets at SXSW

The Deadbeat Poets will be playing this year's SXSW
Festival at:
Lambert's Patio
401 W. 2nd St.
Austin, Texas

The band goes on at 9:00 pm Thursday, March 13th.
More info on the Deadbeat Poets at:
http://www.myspace.com/deadbeatpoets
http://www.popdetective.com

About The Deadbeat Poets

The Deadbeat Poets were formed in Youngstown, Ohio in
the summer of 2006. The band consists of veteran Ohio
musicians with eclectic credentials: Frank Secich
(Blue Ash, Club Wow, Stiv Bators Band), Terry Hartman
(Backdoor Men, Napoleon In Rags, Terry & The
Tornadoes), Pete Drivere (Infidels, Pretty Demons) and
John Koury (Infidels, Slackjaw). Their debut album
(which was recorded over the first few months of 2007
at Youngstown's Ampreon Recorder) is now available on
Pop Detective Records in America & in Japan on Vivid
Sound Records. Also, making guest appearances on the
album are Bill "Cupid" Bartolin on guitar and Chris
Leonardi on piano and organ.

My Liner Notes for Jim Carroll’s “Praying Mantis” CD

I was honored recently when the good folks at Noble Rot asked if I’d like to write liner notes for their reish of Jim Carroll’s debut spoken word album, Praying Mantis .

Carroll had a wonderfully corrupting and simultaneously purifying influence on my adolescent brain: I loved his early ’70s drug tales The Basketball Diaries and the album Catholic Boy, and was somehow able to convince the local 7-11 clerk to sell me the issue of Penthouse in which Carroll was interviewed.

At that age I was always scanning for influences, and Carroll led me to Frank O’Hara, the MOMA curator whose lunch hour poems fed a second career of even greater acclaim. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer, but not to write for a living, and that I was going to curate… something! So thanks, Jim, for opening doors I still use daily.

Here are my notes to Praying Mantis, available now from your local retailer or online record shop:

When New York writer Jim Carroll broke into mainstream celebrity in 1980/81, it was with the one/two punch of the successful mass market Bantam reprint of his small press

teenage junkie journals The Basketball Diaries and his debut album for Atco/Rolling Stone Records, Catholic Boy, featuring the gleefully morbid hit eulogy “People Who Died.”

The album and book worked together to establish a Jim Carroll persona that, while commercially viable, was nowhere the hard-to-pin-down Carroll would want to spend the rest of his creative life.

The publication of The Basketball Diaries was itself something of a fluke, born out of a need for material when the Poetry Center at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery issued a call for prose content for a special issue of The World magazine. At a loss for polished material, the young poet turned in excerpts from his youthful diaries of prep school sports, paid street sex and a measured descent into sensual drugged excess, ala Rimbaud.

These were an immediate camp hit in downtown literary circles, and later excerpted in The Paris Review, but Carroll wasn’t convinced they represented his best work and resisted the Dope Scribe pigeonhole.

Years of heroin addiction led to exile in rural Northern California, where Carroll cleaned up, wed, and explored the nascent San Francisco punk scene. Inspired by his one-time lover Patti Smith’s crossover from poet to rock and roller, Carroll wrote some songs, formed a band and passed a primitive demo to friend Earl McGrath, then president of the Rolling Stones’ label. Keith Richards was favorably impressed, and Catholic Boy was warmly received by critics, radio and fans.

But when two subsequent albums failed to build on this success, and musical collaborator Brian Marnell died after fighting his own heroin addiction, Carroll decided to put music aside and focus on poetry and live performance.

Praying Mantis (1991) was the result, a mainly live recording laid down at his old haunt St. Mark’s, before an enthusiastic audience. Drawing on his experience as a rock performer, Carroll unfurls a mixture of semi-improvised comic monologues and precise bursts of poetry, including pieces from his collections Living at the Movies (1972) and The Book of Nods (1986).

As delivered in his distinctive Noo Yawk whine, with some words so tangled in thick vowels they’re almost another language, others punctuated by a peculiar cadence where pauses appear unexpectedly, the material requires intense attention that rewards with humor and flashes of subtle, elegant observation.

Fans of Carroll’s non-fiction and rock and roll, concerned that a spoken word album might be dry, will be appeased by the tales of racing pubic lice, performance art collaborations with cockroaches, an erotically-charged heist tale and the Catholic take on Philip Roth’s masturbatory super time riff from Portnoy’s Complaint. But comic notes aside, there’s a dark urban poetry here, and visions filtered through a sieve of corruption, vice, longing and complex chemistries. As a statement of transition, Praying Mantis struck a confident note of a nimble artist reinventing himself anew.

Canned Hamm and Friends – Sincerely Christmas CD (Pro-Am)

And when they say friends, they don't just mean the same old reindeer and elves—the first guest is the somewhat unnerving Sssssssalty The Rattlesnake. Big and Lil Hamm promise to put the "X back in Xmas" and don't disappoint, sending all their love straight out to their audience of miserable shut ins with the sultry disco stylings of "Sexy Elf" and "Secret Santa." The ultrashrill Hamster Hamm drops by with a harangue about the mess the Hamms have made unwrapping their gifts, but he's barely annoying compared to stand up comic Neil Hamburger, who tries to cadge a place to sleep by comparing himself to the baby Jesus before agreeing to sing the cranky instant classic, "Office Christmas Party." The boys explore such high holiday concepts as the sin of gluttony, making snow angels, getting high on egg nog and meditating with the sugar plum fairies, and before they're finished, Lil Baby Jesus raps his way out of his diaper and Ivan Hrvatska turns in an entry in the happily miniscule genre of Christmas seduction songs. The Hamms even revamp their hit "Father and Son" into a holiday selection. Don't hit eject just yet: there's an almost special message from Santa himself for all good little boys and girls. If you must buy just one Canadian-made Christmas album by mustachioed men this year, make it Sincerely Christmas!