Friday, May 1, 2015

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for April 2015

1. The Who - Waspman - Rarities
2. Robin Crutchfield's Dark Day - Bird Brain - Typical Girls Won't Pay More Than $3
3. Masonic - Nightminded - Modoc Records Sampler, Vol. 3
4. Laurie Anderson - From The Air - Big Science
5. BlackCloudMC - Let Go - Electronic Instrumental LP
6. Pulp - Birds In Your Garden - We Love Lif
7. Ninetynine - I Could Not Recall Your Name - Bande Magnetique
8. The Magnetic Fields - Blue You - 69 Love Songs, Vol. 3
9. Lonelady - Fear No More - Nerve Up
10. JOOG - Caked - Modoc Records Sampler, Vol. 3
11. Hamish Kilgour - Hullabaloo - All of It and Nothing
12. Fuxa - Some Things Last A Long Time - Electric Sound of Summer
13. David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights - Dropper - End Times Undone
14. The Verms - Master Manipulator - Burst & Bloom
15. Sun City Girls - The Vinegar Stroke - Torch of the Mystics
16. Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard - Slogans - Em Are I
17. Golden Retriever - Canopy - Yeti 11
18. Dolly Mixture - He's So Frisky - Demonstration Tapes
19. Deerhoof - No One Asked to Dance - Deerhoof vs. Evil
20. Alpaca Brothers - Hey Man - Legless EP

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for March 2015

1. X-tal - Basics 101 - Who Owns Our Dreams?
2. Run On - Half of Half - No Way
3. Junior Murvin - What Is This - Best Of Lee Perry & The Upsetters
4. Funkadelic - Groovallegiance - One Nation Under A Groove
5. The Cult Inside My Head - Pacifica! - Omnipowerless
6. Bo Diddley - Diddley Daddy - His Best: The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection
7. Prince Far I - Wisdom - Message From The King
8. Fuxa - Some Things Last A Long Time - Electric Sound of Summer
9. Francis Bebey - Binta Madiallo - Akwaaba
10. Exuma - Zandoo - Exuma II
11. Dr. Israel - The Doctor Vs. The Wizard - Inna City Pressure
12. Trader Horne - The Mutant - Morning Way ...Plus
13. Robin Crutchfield's Dark Day - Bird Brain - Typical Girls Won't Pay More Than $3
14. Pearls Before Swine - Playmate - One Nation Underground
15. Liliput - Your's Is Mine - Liliput
16. Jefferson Airplane - The Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil [Live] [Long Version] - After Bathing At Baxter's [Bonus Tracks]
17. ESG - There Was A Time - A South Bronx Story 2: Collector's Edition Rarities
18. The Dirtbombs - I'm Qualified To Satisfy You - Ultraglide In Black
19. Blackedout - Vessel - An Alluring Aura, 2/12/14
20. The Granite Countertops - Daredevil - Planets Don't Twinkle

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Just like spring rain

Ear Candle Productions is busy with several things at once, just the way we like it!

The second ambient electronic set by Dr. Spaceman, entitled MENNO!, with dramatic, Neu-referencing cover art to match, is mastered and ready to go. Available soon at all your finer mp3 shacks.

BUNNIES AT LARGE, the fifth Experimental Bunnies collection, is tantalizingly near completion. Ten songs, ten years in the making, ten amazing musical contributors. This time around, we veer into jazz territory with free form horns everywhere. Hope you like our new direction. Coming in April, probably.

The post punk singer-songwriter project is still on the back burner. We still need a "band name." This morning I said "too bad the name Magazine is already taken" (because this will be created from the works of many different contributors) and Davis Jones said "what about 'Pamphlet'?" We'll see if it sticks.

Also coming up: new Granite Countertops videos! Lots of new ideas a-cookin'.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for February 2015

Posting the charts a little late this go-round. Tripped up by the shortest month of the year! Nevertheless, a great selection here. Thank you listeners, and don't touch that mouse!

1. Sweet Baby - Andorra - The Thing That Ate Floyd
2. Paul Revere & the Raiders - Observation from Flight 285 (In 3/4 Time) - Hungry for Kicks: Singles & Choice Cuts 1965-69
3. The Magnetic Fields - Washington, D.C. - 69 Love Songs, Pt. 2
4. Husker Du - Afraid Of Being Wrong - Everything Falls Apart
5. Generation X - Ready Steady Go - Generation X
6. Alpaca Brothers - Hey Man - Legless EP
7. Yoko Ono - Air Talk - Approximately Infinite Universe
8. Silver Jews - Night Society - American Water
9. Kevin Ayers - May I - June 1, 1974
10. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes - Wake Up Everybody - Teddy Pendergrass and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
11. Foday Musa Suso and Pharoah Sanders - Samma - Jali Kunda: Griots of West Africa & Beyond
12. The Firesign Theatre - Bob's Brazerko Lounge - Dear Friends
13. The Experimental Bunnies - Grief - Music For The Integrity Tone Scale
14. Dr. Israel - The Doctor Vs. The Wizard - Inna City Pressure
15. Cringer - Cottleston Pie - The Thing That Ate Floyd
16. Blackedout - Vessel - Blackedout RIP
17. Rebby Sharp - Some Men - In One Mouth And Out The Other
18. Lou Reed - Gassed And Stoked - Magic And Loss
19. Mudwimin - Cloud Rodeo - Skiz
20. Jefferson Airplane - The Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil [Live] [Long Version] - After Bathing At Baxter's [Bonus Tracks]

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for January 2015

1. Donovan - Sunny South Kensington - Mellow Yellow
2. Thunderclap Newman - Hollywood Dream - Hollywood Dream
3. Tarika - Zotra (Transport) - Son Egal
4. Peter Tosh - I Am That I Am - Equal Rights
5. New Order - ICB - Movement
6. Mark Silverman - Space Song - Medieval People
7. Link Wray - Alabama Electric Circus - Wray's Three Track Shack
8. The Incredible String Band - Sleepers, Awake! - Changing Horses
9. The Feminine Complex - I've Been Workin' On You - Livin' Love
10. Butthole Surfers - In The Cellar - Rembrandt Pussyhorse
11. Poly Styrene - Electric Blue Monsoon - Generation Indigo
12. Big Star - Thank You Friends - Third/Sister Lovers
13. Kevin Ayers - May I - June 1, 1974
14. Dot Vom - Turtle Hill - Demos
15. Killing Joke - Turn To Red - Wild Dub: Dread Meets Punk Rocker
16. The Cannanes - Tiny Compartment - Small Batch
17. Edwards Crossing - Thick Like Blood - Edwards Crossing
18. Charles Bradley - Why Is It So Hard? - No Time for Dreaming
19. Mecca Normal - Odele's Bath - Empathy for the Evil
20. YAT-KHA - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida - cover the earth

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"He was a man who was staunchly confused about most things, but in his role as head of the household, he felt compelled to have strong opinions."

MECCA NORMAL
Empathy For The Evil
(M'lady's)

When I read that Mecca Normal would be recording their thirteenth album with former Shimmy Disc founder Mark Kramer as producer, I admit I was slightly skeptical. How do the poster children of sparse, cutting, post-punk minimalism find common ground with the king of the reverb-laden psychedelic wall of sound?

I've never been happier to have my expectations dashed to the rocks. What has Kramer brought to Mecca Normal? Clarity and subtlety. Jean Smith's nasal-yet-powerful vocals (sometimes double-tracked for emphasis) and David Lester's assertive, scene-setting rhythm guitar are right there in front of you. Kramer's bass and keyboards, Smith's sax and keyboard additions, and Lester's occasional melodic guitar overdubs add color without getting in the way. The sound is sensual, warm, and balanced. Mecca Normal have already put out an imposing amount of great music over the years, but Empathy For The Evil may be the best-sounding album they've ever made.

The new twist this album offers is that the lyrics to all but two tracks are taken directly from two of Jean Smith's novels, The Black Dot Museum of Political Art and Obliterating History. This does not mean Empathy For The Evil is a "spoken-word" album. The songs are vivid fragments of stories with intriguing bits of information left out, spun into elegant phrases sung over Lester's catchy, poignant chord progressions. The more you listen, the more these elusive character sketches stick in your consciousness.

The album opens with a typically jagged Mecca Normal grind called "Art Was The Great Leveler". Over David Lester's choppy punk chords (one of that rare breed of guitarists who is instantly identifiable from the first strum), Jean Smith dissects the social rituals of a community of artists who fancy themselves able to transcend class differences. The words are deadpan and descriptive, but the voice is full of skeptical amusement. When it gets to the part where she reveals the great effort the characters make to hide uncomfortable details about themselves, it simply confirms everything her tone of voice already implied. (Her wry delivery of "art...and hiking" alone is a crackup.)

In contrast, "Wasn't Said" takes a resigned character's internal monologue and elongates the words over slow folky heart-tugging guitar and organ. The emotional effect of the repeated phrases "none of this will matter" and "no communication, no communication" is devastating. Another slower number, "Normal", is a portrait of a petulant boy passing judgement on his mother for her nonconformity. (He sounds utterly insufferable, but Smith is a gifted and confident enough writer to let him speak for himself without editorializing.) "One Man's Anger" dissects another character who hides his fear (and his fear of his fear) behind a more socially acceptable veneer of anger while hypnotic circular chords revolve around him as if to emphasize his own psychic trap. "Naked And Ticklish" is a comical series of character studies of men and dogs that hearkens back to the outrageous tales of disastrous online dating experiences on Mecca Normal's previous album, The Observer.

The album ends with a two-part portrait of a young girl growing up on a remote farm in the Depression with a gruff, abusive father and several brothers, thrust into the role of the hard working "farm wife" for the males of the household after her mother's death. Odele's inner life and her struggle to come of age in an ugly emotional environment is rivetingly told. In the end, even the good side of country living is spoiled for her as she runs away from home at 16 and resolves to "never again eat anything green." To find out what happens to her after that, we'll all have to read The Black Dot Museum of Political Art when it comes out.

Turning long, thick passages of prose into singable, memorable songs, Mecca Normal have revolutionized their music again. If you think you've already heard everything this band is capable of, you need to hear Empathy For The Evil and find out just how wrong you are. After a long-delayed release, you will finally get a chance. Do not miss this one.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I've Always Been On Fire

SPIDER HEART
Dirt EP
(Self-released)

Rip Reed and I go way back. The second gig X-tal ever played, we opened for Trial, a Joy Division-influenced anarcho-punk band he briefly played guitar with. Back in the 80s, Rip cut his teeth on the more challenging end of the punk scene, playing with Trial and Ⓐ State Of Mind as well as recording EPs by Atrocity and Liberté. Even as a youngster, he was focused and brilliant, and very much a fixture on the scene back then. I still crack up remembering the time we were at a New Years Eve show at the Victoria Theatre featuring the Dicks (Gary Floyd made himself up as a dead ringer for Divine in Pink Flamingos that night) and hanging out with a freshly-shaved Rip when a drunk skinhead stumbled up to us, bellowing, "YOU'RE not a skinhead! I'M a SKINHEAD! YOU'RE just a BALD MAN!" It took some effort for us to maintain our cool and not burst into giggles until the guy moved on to some other distraction. Ah yes, punk rock was still fresh and a bit dangerous back then.

After decades of being out of touch, it's nice to discover that Rip is at the helm of a new vehicle called Spider Heart. As I would expect, the guitar and production are absolutely stellar. Rip now favors big room-filling chords and basic, satisfying riffs with a slight Ron Asheton tone, especially when he hits the wah-wah pedal. Lead singer May Black is no slouch on guitar herself, and their combined tones go down like a shot of whiskey. With Juli Sherry on bass and Chris Maneri, their current drummer, filling out the rhythm section, Spider Heart pounds out their songs with pure confidence and authority. At the center of it all is May Black's voice, a feral, intoxicating thing that moans, shouts and sneers at the world. Imagine a throatier version of Kat Bjelland of Babes In Toyland and you might be halfway there.

On their diverse debut album, Under The Gun, the standout tracks included the brooding "Book Of Poems" and the cascading 3/4 wall of sound "Spark." The album was a long time in the making; on the band's Soundcloud page, you can hear the songs develop over the years. In contrast, the new 5-song EP, Dirt, sounds more like a spontaneous, unified outburst. The two-guitar tone has been honed into something even bigger and more undeniable. The EP seems to unfold in a very deliberate fashion: big drone stomp; midtempo minor-key bluesy rocker; crazed punk screech; bigger slower drone dirge; despondent/defiant crawl. The five songs fit together like a cathartic ritual. It all feels right.

The lyrics are...how do I put this?...very dramatic teen-angst rock stuff. Everything is devils, dirt, guns, bullets, crime, fire, dead this, dead that...in the hands of a less powerful band and singer it would start to sound kinda corny after a while. But the way Spider Heart tear into these songs, you just want to jump around and wave your fists joyfully. Also, it has to be said, I've never heard a more convincing delivery of "fire" as a metaphor for the libido than the song by the same name. "Fire" is a thrilling undertow of noisy longing. Oddly enough, the manic middle track, "Love/War", manages to take one of the worst rock clichés ever (gun=dick, bullets=you know the rest) and twist it by 1) the words being written and delivered by a female singer, and 2) upping the violence ante with a chorus of "My love's a bullet, I'll shoot to kill!" followed by an insanely screamed "KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!" Suddenly it feels like we're in the head of the perpetrator of the next big mass shooting, and we've moved beyond mere AC/DC or Motley Crue style cock-rock japery into a scary evocation of the reality of gun-crazy America. Meanwhile, the music and the vocals are madly exhilarating. It wouldn't be as disturbing and disorienting if they weren't.

Maybe they weren't intending this to be anything more than a cool, bad-ass song and broader social commentary was the last thing on their minds. It doesn't matter, really. This is the kind of impact punk rock used to have: a dive into the abyss in search of unsentimental truth, no matter how nasty or hideous the result may be. If you see culture as pure pedagogy, you'll hate it. If you see it as a reflection of the Zeitgeist, you'll nod your head sadly while banging it at the same time. Turns out punk rock can still be fresh and dangerous sometimes. Spider Heart are already on to something. I look forward to where they go from here.

Coming up: Reviews of 2014

I've been laid up with a nasty flu since the new year began and am finally starting to feel just a little bit better, so it's time to make good on some promises from the year before. I have been asked very nicely by a few people to review their new releases on the blog, and though I said yes, procrastination is a very powerful force. But here I am, still calling in sick from work, and busy doing nothing. Time to get cracking. See you soon.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for December 2014

1. Zap Mama - Africa Sunset - 7
2. Steve Mackay - Zombie Chevys - Sometimes Like This I Talk
3. Snapper - Cause Of You - Snapper 12" EP
4. Mammals - Robocop - Demos
5. Bob Mould - Fugue State - Silver Age
6. Thee Oh Sees - No Spell - Floating Coffin
7. Marianne Faithfull & Chris Spedding - Ballad Of The Soldier's Wife - Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill
8. Lonelady - Immaterial - Nerve Up
9. Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard - Mini-Theme: Moocher From The Future - Em Are I
10. Fifth Column - Don't - Free to Fight
11. Dr. Spaceman - Tap Into The New - Zwanzig Kilometer Stau
12. Linda Smith - A Crumb of Your Affection - Love Songs For Laughs
13. Brian Eno - Horse - Small Craft On A Milk Sea
14. Alec Bathgate - No Taxi To Hoboken - Gold Lame
15. Woody Guthrie - Jackhammer Blues - Columbia River Collection
16. The Television Personalities - She Can Stop Traffic - My Dark Place
17. Swell - Forget About Jesus - 41
18. The Saints - River Deep Mountain High - (I'm) Stranded [Bonus Tracks]
19. Ruby Howl - Armadillo - Heaven Hides There Too
20. Love - The Castle - Da Capo

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Holocaust

Finished the Alex Chilton bio. Holly George Warren managed to dramatically describe his death at 59 (right at the very moment he seemed to finally be happy with his life) without giving the actual cause, so I sought assistance from Wikipedia and got this:

"Chilton had experienced at least two episodes of shortness of breath in the week prior to his fatal heart attack, though he did not seek medical attention in part because he did not have health insurance."

A truly American death, then. If we had single-payer, would Alex Chilton still be with us today?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Exiles

A 33 1/3 book on Liz Phair's Zeitgeist-seizing classic Exile In Guyville seemed like a sure-fire good read, so I added it to my Christmas list without hesitation. It was only when I took it out of the wrapping that I noticed it was written by, of all people, Gina Arnold. Now, to most people, Arnold may be best known for the book Route 666: On the Road to Nirvana, which was a pretty decent memoir/travelogue/meditation on the previously under-the-radar indie scene that made Kurt Cobain's accidental mega-stardom possible. But for people in the Bay Area, Gina Arnold was briefly notorious for her weekly music column in the East Bay Express, which, at the time, seemed frustratingly "almost good." Week after week, Arnold would often come close to making a point and then derail herself with non sequiturs or glaring factual errors. My overall impression was that she was well-meaning but clueless. Puncture rejected her writing, but Rolling Stone and Spin embraced her with open arms, leaving some bewildered. How did this writer, of all people, become the alleged spokesperson for our scene?

OK, indie-rockers of the 90s were a self-important, presumptuous lot, and yours truly was no different. In a world without search engines, it could be argued that knowing everything about everything was itself a mark of male privilege. Certainly, Arnold had her defenders that argued just that. I was not buying it at the time; clearly she was just a bad writer! (Actually, she has always written quite well. Even when she came to rather silly conclusions, her ability to craft words really can't be questioned. This is precisely what made her column so frustrating.) In the days before the Internet, writing on the printed page seemed to matter so much more, and the idea that someone was writing future history and getting so much wrong was infuriating.

But most of the flack Gina Arnold caught back in the day had little to do with the flaws many of us railed against. I remember seeing her do a reading at a bookstore in Berkeley and the evening basically degenerated into watching a sincere, opinionated young woman getting shouted down by butthurt Rolling Stones fans who were livid that some girl had dared to treat their latest mediocre product with less than unquestioning reverence. Whatever Arnold's faults as a critic may have been, they melted into insignificance in the face of this display of misogyny-laced mainstream rock conservatism. The letters to the editor in the East Bay Express tended to reflect the same attitude. None of this made me any more of a fan of Gina Arnold's writing, but my respect for her definitely grew. A lot of people in her position would have wilted and hid, but she kept coming back, writing on from a perspective that may or may not have made sense to the reader, but it was her own and she wasn't backing down.

So here we are two decades on. I have not paid attention to Arnold at all until I opened this book, but something told me that I should be open to it, that maybe this is the perfect writer for the subject. 33 1/3 has a great track record in this, of course. But here we have a female journalist who was treated not merely as just another critic one disagreed with, but an interloper who had no right to put her views out there at all. Now consider Liz Phair, an indie-rock singer-songwriter who seemingly shows up out of nowhere and polarizes everyone. How many people wrote about Exile On Guyville as if it was nothing but 18 songs about blowjobs, as opposed to the masterful song cycle of catchy tunes and complex, wryly funny, irreverently lurid, and often-poignant emotional statements that it was? Maybe it's time to look back on the ruins of 90s indie rock and mainstream rock in general and confront some ugly truths about misogyny, pretentious notions of authenticity, and projections about other people's perceived privilege.

Arnold has come along as a writer, and now has the PhD to prove it. Some 33 1/3 books are delightful immersions into studio minutiae, full of wonderful stories about how a song was put together. Others focus on shining a light on the time that the album was a record of, how it was received, what it meant to listeners, and why it mattered. This book is definitely the second kind. It's refreshing to see someone take on Exile In Guyville as the serious, multi-dimensional work it is, and Arnold is spot-on when she recaps some of the more vile criticisms it and its creator endured at the time. (Steve Albini gets singled out for special attention.) Phair's inability to perform the album live is touched on as part of the supposed "authenticity" problem some critics invented. I would just add that much of her troubles in that area were purely technical: you can write and perform a song solo with your guitar in your room, or in a studio, and be able to sing softly in the lowest part of your vocal range, but trying to do the same thing in a live room with a full rock band is nearly impossible. I remember watching Liz Phair on TV struggling to get out one of her catchiest songs, "Never Said". She was forced to sing it an octave higher in order to simply be heard, and the song just didn't sound right. Liz Phair has gotten a lot of flack for her more recent attempts at slick pop where she sings in a high voice, but I have to sympathize with someone whose very signature sound...that deep, worldly-sexy whisper...can't be reproduced in the jangly rock setting that suits it best. Who can blame her for trying other genres and searching for a more comfortable way to employ her undeniable talent?

Caveat: This book is strong regarding culture in general and how both the music business and pop culture have changed. Where it falls short is (surprise!) if you read it without ever having heard the album in question, you will be none the wiser as to what any of the songs actually sound like. Oh well, somehow this manages to be worth your time to read and ponder anyway.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for November 2014

1. Paleface - World Full of Cops - Paleface
2. Reverb Motherfuckers - Joe Of Arc - Route 666
3. Lost Cherrees - Escalation - In the Beginning: The Studio Recordings 83-85
4. John Hartford - The Wart - John Hartford
5. Jeffrey Lewis - Back When I Was 4 [Version Three] - It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through
6. The Selecter - Black & Blue - Too Much Pressure
7. Alec Bathgate - No Taxi To Hoboken - Gold Lame
8. Jefferson Airplane - The Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil [Live] [Long Version] - After Bathing At Baxter's [Bonus Tracks]
9. Jah Wobble & Keith Levene - Back On The Block - Yin & Yang
10. Steve Mackay - The Prisoner (featuring Iggy Pop) - Sometimes Like This I Talk
11. Angst - Looking For a Reason - Mystery Spot
12. The Mekons - Trouble Down South - Fear & Whiskey
13. Mammals - Robocop - Demos
14. John Lee Hooker - I'm In The Mood - 20th Century Masters: The Best Of John Lee Hooker
15. Jeffrey Horn - Slipping - Jeffrey Horn
16. Fuxa - Electric Sound Of Summer - Electric Sound of Summer
17. The Dirtbombs - F.I.D.O. - Dangerous Magical Noise
18. Big City Orchestra - There Will Come Soft Rains - K7
19. Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard - If Life Exists? - Em Are I
20. Vomit Launch - All Fouled Up - Dogeared

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Interesting review of Planets Don't Twinkle

Awesome pull quote:
The Granite Countertops will take hold of your life’s view and throw it in new light. They have a keen sense of this world and simply have chosen their music to reflect it upon us. So keep your eyes and ears open for their call.
Read it all here. The fact that they rave about "High Definition", one of the more challenging songs on the album, is very impressive. This site is clearly a resource for the unusual. We will be adding The Equal Ground to the Ear Candle blogroll forthwith.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A song for the morning after

Standing on a ship that’s going down
Fighting bravely for the right to drown
The house is filling up with fire and smoke
While they throw bottles at the fire truck

(This is why we can’t have nice things!)

They don’t know what they’re talking about
But they know how to jump and shout
Raw meat raining on the angry herd
“Liberty” is now a meaningless word

Chasing demons in their wet fever dreams
The future’s scary and it makes them scream
Sincere citizens with godly goals
Modeling hats and digging six foot holes

(This is why we can’t have nice things!)

Bag of hammers on a bed of nails
Freedom trains are flying off the rails
Jumbo packages of cheap concerns
Country fiddles while the planet burns

(Oh, damn it!)
Don’t you know you’re being played for a fool…
Bag of hammers, raging over nothing…
It really doesn’t have to be this way…
(Ytrap aet a ton si noitulover a.)


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for October 2014

1. The Shaggs - It's Halloween - Philosophy of the World
2. Siouxsie & The Banshees - Jigsaw Feeling - The Scream
3. The Dirtbombs - I'll Wait - Ultraglide In Black
4. The Holy Sisters Of The Gaga Dada - Paranoid - Radio Tokyo Tapes Vol. 4 - Women
5. The Hairem (SHE) - Like A Snake - Wants A Piece Of You
6. The Experimental Bunnies - No Fighting In The War Room! - Aranka
7. Tommy McCook - Everyday Sax - Blazing Horns/Tenor In Roots
8. Rob K/MDA - Spirit Level - The Purgatory Home Companion
9. Hanging Gardens - Come Over - Modoc Records Sampler, Vol. 3
10. Flight Of The Conchords - Bowie - Flight of the Conchords
11. The Delta Rhythm Boys - One O'Clock Jump - Jump & Jive 'Til One O 'Clock - Anthology - Volume 2
12. Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited - Mugara Ndega (True Born African) - Chimurenga For Justice
13. The Sleepers - Forever - Painless Nights
14. Mammals - Robocop - Demos
15. Luna Lee - Voodoo Child - Gayageum
16. Jeffrey Horn - Slipping - Jeffrey Horn
17. The Granite Countertops - Brain In A Chair - Planets Don't Twinkle
18. Firekeeper - Bali Song - To Wake The Living
19. The Experimental Bunnies - No Sleep Till The Pleiades - Aranka
20. The Aislers Set - Mary's Song - Terrible Things Happen

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We've got a show!


Come on down, come on down, the orphans gathering all around...

And now, for your enjoyment, an entire set by Vomit Launch.



Here they are, just as I remember them. I kind of wish they kicked the set off with another one of their great originals, rather than their cover of one of my least favorite Barbara Manning songs ever. Once that's out of the way though, it's mesmerizing. I also like the way Trish takes charge when the guy "introducing" them starts to get really tedious.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mission Bells still ringing in my ears



AISLERS SET, THE CHAPEL, SF 9/28/14

It's harder than it used to be to recover from a late Sunday night gig and go to work the next day, but this night was the kind of event that made it worth the trouble. One of the bands that defined "turn of the century San Francisco" were reuniting in their hometown. Most people think of the Aislers Set as an indie-pop band, and sure, they have those elements of melody, jangle and casual sincerity, but to put them in such a narrow category is to do them an injustice. AV (formerly Amy) Linton is a rare artist with a gift for capturing a time and a place, pulling off the neat trick of writing songs so specific and personal they end up both universal and surreal. Three albums, Terrible Things Happen, The Last Match, and How I Learned To Write Backwards, constitute a snapshot of a Mission District that thrived briefly between gentrification surges, chronicled through a fistful of songs that were poignant, wry, colorful, and occasionally saucy.

Two bouncy, catchy, Flying-Nun-crossed-with-the poppier-side-of-the-Ramones kind of bands opened. We enjoyed them thoroughly while they were playing and forgot them immediately. Soon as the Aislers Set came on, the music was riveting yet delicate. Linton's aw-shucks, breathy delivery and unique 12-string guitar sound is as familiar and engaging as ever. Supported by the How I Learned To Write Backwards lineup plus two horn players/percussionists, the band ran through songs from their three very different-sounding albums without cutting any corners. Finally, after avoiding the instrument all night, Linton joined in on the ecstatic trumpet climax of "Mission Bells". It was bliss.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for September 2014

1. Mecca Normal - Art Was the Great Leveler - Empathy for the Evil
2. Snapper - Cause Of You - Snapper 12" EP
3. Rebby Sharp - Some Men - In One Mouth And Out The Other
4. Y Pants - Magnetic Attraction - Y Pants
5. Firekeeper - Bali Song - To Wake The Living
6. Eric's Trip - Secret For Julie - Love Tara
7. Dot Vom - Fat Case (demo) - Demos
8. The Clean - Point That Thing Somewhere Else - Anthology
9. Pete Seeger - Garbage - Pete
10. Rico Bell - The Whole Thing Stinks - Darkside Of The Mersey
11. Paleface - World Full of Cops - Paleface
12. Harry Belafonte - Go Down Emanuel Road - Jump Up Calypso
13. Darlene Love - A Fine, Fine Boy - Phil Spector Back to Mono (1958-1969)
14. Cryptohelix - X-City Rockers - The Nostalgia Bottle Breaks
15. Nocturnal Projections - Alone in the Corner - Nerve Ends In Power Lines
16. Laurie Anderson - Language Is a Virus from Outer Space - United States Live
17. Jeffrey Horn - Pulsar - Jeffrey Horn
18. Public Image Limited - The Pardon - This is What you Want...This is What you Get
19. Vital Disorders - Tough Times - ZOMBIE
20. Mecca Normal - Wasn't Said - Empathy for the Evil

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for August 2014

1. Trader Horne - The Mutant - Morning Way ...Plus
2. Shonen Knife - Burning Farm - Let's Knife
3. Robert Gordon With Link Wray - Twenty Flight Rock - Fresh Fish Special
4. The Mothers Of Invention - Ian Underwood Whips It Out (Live On Stage In Copenhagen) - Uncle Meat
5. Fuxa - Amber Gambler - Fuxa2000
6. Bob Mould - Best Thing - Body Of Song
7. Wire - Straight Line - Pink Flag
8. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Bandit - Greendale
9. Marianne Faithfull - Something Better - The Very Best of Marianne Faithfull
10. Lee Perry and the Upsetters - Kung Fu Warrior - Return Of Wax
11. The Granite Countertops - Stop Breaking Everything - Planets Don't Twinkle
12. The Fall - Words Of Expectation - The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004
13. Thomas Mapfumo &The Blacks Unlimited - Mugara Ndega (True Born African) - Chimurenga For Justice
14. The Cannanes - Bumper - Small Batch
15. Burning Spear - As It Is - Calling Rastafari
16. Tara Key - No Reason Now - Ear and Echo
17. Swell - Forget About Jesus - 41
18. Mecca Normal - I Walk Alone 2013 - I Walk Alone by Mecca Normal 2013
19. The Julie Ruin - Lookout - Run Fast
20. Jah Wobble & Keith Levene - Understand Dub - Yin & Yang

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Apparently I have been writing one movie review per year on Netflix. Looking back, I found this pretty amusing.

Your Reviews (3)

Rolling Stones: 1963-1969

The Rolling Stones: 1963-1969: Music in Review

You rated this movie: 1.0
     
If it weren't for the brief glimpses at wonderful, rarely seen vintage footage, this would be worse than useless. I don't mind watching critics offer up their insights and telling stories about the artists (and there are few bands with better, more outrageous stories to be told about them than the Rolling Stones), but these little known critics clearly know almost nothing about the band they're yapping about, offering trite observations like "this song shows that Mick and Keith were becoming more confident as songwriters" or "this song is very dark and morbid, but I like it" OVER AND OVER AGAIN. And I haven't mentioned the numerous facts they get wrong, like saying "The Last Time" features one of those classic Keith Richards riffs and then cutting to some video footage that clearly shows Brian Jones playing the riff. It was like sitting in a bar full of self-important drunks trying to impress you with their knowledge and only showing how pathetically ignorant they are. A real waste of great footage.

You wrote this on Fri Jul 11 05:04:13 GMT 2014
 
Live from Hurrah's New York

Live from Hurrah's New York

You rated this movie: 4.0
     
Worth it for the footage of bands you can't see anywhere else and a nice time capsule of arty New York circa 1980. Now the quibbles: SLOPPY archiving and researching, guys. Even putting aside the Psychedelic Furs no-show, you have some ludicrous stuff like a second Del Byzanteens song being credited to Magazine. Then there's the many mistitled songs like Pylon's "Gravity" being called "You Cannot", The Au Pairs' "Come Again" being called "Do It Again", and a fast instrumental number by the Monochrome Set being mistaken for their debut single "Alphaville". In the final credits, somebody actually got credited for "research," so we know who to blame. Still worth watching.

You wrote this on Thu Aug 08 03:02:13 GMT 2013
 
Wonderwall

Wonderwall

You rated this movie: 2.0
     
About ten minutes into this stinker I started thinking "Where is Mystery Science Theater 3000 when we need them? The George Harrison score is absolutely sublime (and a longtime favorite album for decades), but the movie is mildly amusing psychedelic soft-porn kitsch at best, only not nearly as good as that description makes it sound. The creepy voyeur protagonist is apparently supposed to be funny and/or sympathetic, but is just painful to watch. Pick up the soundtrack, avoid the movie.
You wrote this on Wed Apr 11 03:52:14 GMT 2012

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for July 2014

1. The Shaggs - Things I Wonder - Philosophy Of The World
2. Vanessa Paradis - Les Cactus Live - Vanessa Paradis Live
3. The Julie Ruin - Goodnight Goodbye - Run Fast
4. Rob K/MDA - Look in the Mirror - The Purgatory Home Companion
5. Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus - Needs Understanding - Tribute To The Emperor
6. Peter Tosh - I Am That I Am - Equal Rights
7. The Mountain Goats - Cao Dai Blowout - New Asian Cinema
8. Mighty Ballistics Hi-Power - Franco's Fleet Street - Here Come The Blues
9. The Granite Countertops - Daredevil - Planets Don't Twinkle
10. Paul Revere & the Raiders - Get It On - Midnight Ride
11. The Demilos - Misogyny - Naked Brunch
12. Pete Seeger - Garbage - Pete
13. The Holy Sisters Of The Gaga Dada - Paranoid - Radio Tokyo Tapes Vol. 4 - Women
14. Mammals - Robocop - Demos
15. Bjork - Submarine - Medulla
16. Zap Mama - Africa Sunset - 7
17. Trader Horne - In My Loneliness - Morning Way ...Plus
18. Robert Wyatt - Rivmic Melodies - '68
19. Public Image Limited - The Pardon - This is What you Want...This is What you Get
20. Eric's Trip - Secret For Julie - Love Tara

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for June 2014

1. The Delta Rhythm Boys - Take The A Train - Jump & Jive 'Til One O 'Clock - Anthology - Volume 2 (1947-1950)
2. Husker Du - Whatever - Zen Arcade
3. Future Twin - Landslide - Future Twin
4. The Experimental Bunnies - Moonstompin' With Neil And Buzz - Aranka
5. Cream - I'm So Glad - The Very Best Of Cream
6. Bugskull - Concave Life - Phantasies & Senseitions
7. Mudwimin - Goofy The Mouse - Skiz
8. The Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass - Theme Amour Universal - Les Stances a Sophie
9. Vague-Leys - Sofa Or A Chair - Sub Pop 5 - Cassette 'Zine
10. Thomas Mapfumo - Tozvireva Kupiko (Who Shall We Share Our Frustrations With?) - The Chimurenga Singles
11. Stella Chiweshe - Musandifungise - Talking Mbira
12. The Spades - We Sell Soul - I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology
13. Holger Czukay - Oh Lord Give Us More Money - Movies
14. Deerhoof - You Can See - The Runners Four
15. Tikis - Big Feet - Son Of Blunderbuss
16. PJ Harvey - My Beautiful Leah - Is This Desire?
17. Pelicanopolis - In the Shaky Grass - Made You This
18. Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band With Buddy Guy - Chitlin Con Carne - Let's Move - A Heavy Blues Collection
19. Blaims - Can't Sleep - Modoc Records Sampler, Vol. 1
20. Toots & The Maytals - Pee Pee Cluck Cluck - Monkey Man/From The Roots

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for May 2014

1. Small Factory - Yeah! - Why Do You Think They Call It Pop?
2. Foday Musa Suso and Pharoah Sanders - Samma - Jali Kunda: Griots of West Africa & Beyond
3. ESG - There Was A Time - A South Bronx Story 2: Collector's Edition Rarities
4. Darlene Love - A Fine, Fine Boy - Phil Spector Back to Mono (1958-1969)
5. The Cramps - Route 66 - Flamejob
6. The Magnetic Fields - I Looked All Over Town - I
7. The Granite Countertops - Daredevil - Planets Don't Twinkle
8. Bugskull - Concave Life - Phantasies & Senseitions
9. The Feminine Complex - I've Been Workin' On You - Livin' Love
10. The Coathangers - Parking Lot - The Coathangers
11. Tsunami - DMFH - A Brilliant Mistake
12. The Jefferson Handkerchief - I'm Allergic To Flowers - Pebbles Vol. 3 - The Acid Gallery
13. Henry's Dress - Winter '94 - Bust 'Em Green
14. The Beach Boys - No-Go Showboat - Little Deuce Coupe / All Summer Long
15. Millie Small - My Boy Lollipop - My boy lollipop
16. The Dub Syndicate - Hi-Fi Gets A Pounding Pt. 3 - Pounding System
17. The Mountain Goats - Letter From Belgium - We Shall All Be Healed
18. The Granite Countertops - Beyond Belief - Planets Don't Twinkle
19. Bogard Brothers - I'm In Love - Flying Rock
20. Zap Mama - Africa Sunset - 7

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Deep End: Are you a unicorn, or are you just happy to see me?

Don't doubt yourself, babe, even if you can't relax, even if you can't stop shaking. We're on top of the world and we're going down to the underground, so if you've got the urge, come on let's submerge. Afterwards we can steal softly thru snow and come on up to the house. Everything I've told you was true, so are you a unicorn, or are you just happy to see me? Oh please let me come into the storm, because it's quarter to three, and there's no one in the place except you, me, and Etta James.


The Deep End: Time Has Come Today!

The Deep End presents an hour long show dedicated to the concept of TIME. Now is the time, where is the truth? Maybe there's time to wait, but you know how time fades away. Time is tight, but if I could turn back the hands of time, there'd be time enough for rocking when we're old...uh-oh, I'm going to be late for the train.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jonah the Fail: Your New King of Late Night Political Comedy

When the news hit that Stephen Colbert would be taking over for David Letterman as host of The Late Show on CBS and leaving behind the right-wing talk show pundit character he has portrayed for years on The Colbert Report, comedy fans wondered what would happen to the 11:30 slot on Comedy Central. Would Jon Stewart's Daily Show be followed by a sharp new half hour of political satire, or would Comedy Central fall back on the smirky fratboy humor that serves them so well the other 23 hours of the day? Well, fans of topical meta-jokes can relax now, because a worthy replacement for Colbert has been found! Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the comic stylings of Jonah Goldberg.

Like Colbert, Goldberg's genius lies in playing a clueless right-wing pundit named "Jonah Goldberg" who sees himself as a "conservative intellectual" while spouting hilarious parodies of bad writing and worse ideas, usually riddled with stale Star Wars or Simpsons references, mixed with one-liners swiped from old Ronald Reagan speeches. Part of the charm of his character is his goofy combination of laziness, sullen smugness, and word-salad articles where he contradicts his own point, often in the same sentence. Jonah's persona has fooled so many people that he managed to get hired as the editor-in-chief of National Review Online. His brilliant book-length lampoon of viciously muddy thinking, Liberal Fascism, (which hilariously refers to Hitler as "a man of the Left" and defends the weird assertion that liberalism is a form of fascism with the classic quote: ""Liberal fascism differs from classical fascism in many ways. I don't deny this. Indeed, it is central to my point") was actually taken seriously by people like Glenn Beck, who spent many tearful hours on camera in front of a chalkboard trying to make sense of Jonah's obviously sarcastic non-sequiturs about Woodrow Wilson.

Rumors are circulating around Comedy Central that Jonah has been deeply troubled lately that so many Republicans really believe he and his buffoonish character are one and the same. Many of them seem to admire the deliberately ignorant things he says, much like Colbert's character and before that, Archie Bunker of the groundbreaking sitcom All In The Family. Friends claim that he is hoping that, by moving into Colbert's old time slot, he can reach a more media-savvy young audience who get the joke. One makeup artist, who wishes to remain anonymous, quotes Goldberg as crying out in frustration, "My God, these people on the right! Hasn't anyone ever taught them about the old unreliable narrator trope?" while she applied simulated flop-sweat on his brow before the taping of the pilot episode.

Details about the new show are mostly being kept under wraps so far, but we do know that Jonah's first guest will be legendary comedian Andy Kaufman, who, after faking his own death as a joke back in 1984, has spent the last 30 years engaged in an elaborate performance art stunt under the pseudonym "Rick Santorum".

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20 for April 2014

1. The Detroit Cobras - Oh My Lover - Love Life & Leaving
2. Mudwimin - Cloud Rodeo - Skiz
3. The Experimental Bunnies - Chain Of Lakes - Bunnies On Fire
4. X-tal - Long Dark Night - Everything Crash
5. Ninetynine - Always - Bande Magnetique
6. Helium - Silver Angel - The Dirt Of Luck
7. The Halo Benders - Turn It My Way - The Rebels Not In
8. Curtis Mayfield - Hard Times - There's No Place Like America Today
9. Bob Dylan & The Band - You Gotta Quit Kicking My Dog Around - A Tree With Roots
10. Siouxsie and the Banshees - Swimming Horses - Hyaena
11. Ruby Howl - Doubt - Heaven Hides There Too
12. The Rivingtons - You Are My Sunshine - The Liberty Years
13. Nina Simone - Four Women - Verve Jazz Masters 17: Nina Simone
14. Can - Oh Yeah - Tago Mago
15. The Cannanes - Crawler - Small Batch
16. Bessie Smith - A Good Man Is Hard To Find - Bessie Smith: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3
17. The Bags - Babylonian Gorgon - All Bagged Up '77-'80
18. Subway Sect - Chain Smoking - We Oppose All Rock And Roll
19. Sandie Shaw - Your Time Is Gonna Come - Nothing Less Than Brilliant: The Best Of Sandie Shaw
20. Robert Wyatt - Rivmic Melodies - '68

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Deep End: I want my own planet!!!

Here's one I cooked up the week before!

On the latest Deep End, first we take San Francisco, then we take our own planet. Can we come over tonight? We wanna love you some more. This is a message to persons unknown. We're not safe. And we don't need no more trouble.

The Deep End - Show 3.10 - April 16, 2014 by Thedeepend on Mixcloud

The Deep End: What keeps you going?

Last Wednesday's Deep End was put together rather quickly, what with the huge amount of video editing on my plate. But it was great fun nonetheless, rambling from Detroit garage-punk soul covers to inspirational songs for the young generation by the Heptones, with stops in between for boisterous bilingual indie girls, walls of Tall Dwarfs, and a devastating oldie from Fleetwood Mac where Peter Green confronts his spiritual crisis head on and jumps into the void. (Or as Davis Jones put it, "that was epic and sad.") The whole range of human emotion is represented in this hour. What keeps you going? Great radio, great radio.

The Deep End - Show 3.11 - April 23, 2014 by Thedeepend on Mixcloud

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Granite Countertops: Stop Breaking Everything

We have made a bunch of new videos for songs on the new album by the Granite Countertops, PLANETS DON'T TWINKLE. Here is the opening track, a fusion of punk and drum-and-bass, with lyrics about the insane destructive streak of our conservative brethren. An ode to the ironic feeling of having grown up on anarchist ideals, and seeing them perverted and co-opted by the far right in the 21st century. As the song says, "Chaos is not the thrill it used to be!"

The Granite Countertops: Beyond Belief

The story of a sweet young Catholic girl learning some hard lessons about life, family, and secular humanism.

The Granite Countertops: Love Is A Verb

A song about how most love songs are crap, but love itself is awesome.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Granite Countertops: Soft Shoulder

We made a video for our remake of the old Content Providers song.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Deep End: Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio!

The Wipers and the Neo Boys kick off our latest edition of The Deep End. We dig repetition, we dance dance dance dance dance to the radio, so come on down to personnel, give us ten thousand pounds, sing this all together and see what happens.

The Deep End - Show 3.9 - April 9, 2014 by Thedeepend on Mixcloud