Friday, July 31, 2009

You can't please everyone

A bittersweet comment passed on from an Ear Candle Radio listener:
I'm new to your station, started listening about a week ago and have really enjoyed it. But is this "Spoken Word Friday"? No, thanks
We've been playing the Firesign Theatre's I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus in its entirety (with musical breaks between Side 1 and Side 2) for a few months now. Is it time to give it a rest? How about the bits from Eddie Izzard, Lord Buckley, Beyond The Fringe, and excerpts from The Prisoner? Share your opinion in the comments.

Our radio station's special flavor comes from the fact that we play whatever we please, and we reserve the right to keep it that way. At the same time, we are interested in what our listeners have to say. Talk to us.

UPDATE: If we don't hear anything from you all out there, we will assume our listeners have granted us tacit approval for MORE spoken word on Ear Candle Radio, and add all 50 or so minutes of Vivian Stanshall's Sir Henry At Rawlinson End album to our playlist. Consider yourselves duly warned.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seen some videos

We've decided to end the DVD review feature in the blog after a year's worth of posts, because we've ended up hanging on to the same Netflix DVDs for a month while I decide what to write about them. Way too much effort put into something that was supposed to be for fun.

That said, here's what we've been watching since that decision was made, with a few brief comments:

Don't Need You: A Herstory Of Riot Grrrl: Turned out to be the same movie I caught at ATA Gallery in 2001. A sketchy, 35-minute documentary that someone else will need to flesh out someday. Some of the principals come off a lot better than others. Let's leave it at that.

Dream Of Life: Could be subtitled "Hanging Out With Patti Smith", as this is essentially what this sprawling, charming, non-linear documentary is like. Lots of fun.

Happy Go Lucky: Mike Leigh's character study of a relentlessly upbeat woman surrounded by snarky North Londoners. Poppy Cross gets an incredible amount of hate in the IMDB, but I thought she was all right. She means well, and the comedy and drama of the movie lies in how she and the other characters try to interact, and ultimately raises the question, can someone this "happy go lucky" function effectively in the real world?

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: The gossipy movie version of the gossipy book about the "New Hollywood" of the '70s. Censorship was eliminated, directors had the power to tell any story they wanted, and society was being questioned on every level, which made it possible to re-examine all the old tropes the movie biz had taken for granted. A lot of great work came out of this wave, though it's easy to walk away from this account thinking the end result was mostly just ultraviolent nihilism spewed out by cocaine-crazed egomaniacs. One thing you get to see here is how fast one year's counterculture rebels become the next year's new establishment. Roger Corman gave a lot of the directors here their start, which made me think: four decades later, most of the movies that come out of Hollywood are basically Roger Corman exploitation flicks with a big budget and state-of-the-art effects that take themselves far more seriously than Corman ever did. Nowadays we don't really need to break any more taboos, but we could use some soul. A LOT more soul. It's hard to find a new movie these days that's even remotely interesting. If a "New Hollywood" came along today, what would it look like?

Man On Wire: This will give your acrophobia a workout. I had to keep reminding myself, he made it, he didn't fall, look, there he is on the screen getting interviewed. Half the suspense lies in the crew's meticulous planning to pull off this highly illegal stunt. After 9/11, they'd have been labeled "terrorists" and thrown into Guantanamo. Here we get a reminder that a sense of wonder can be worth taking a risk.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So will we have to wait for "Archives, Vol. 2" before we can see the whole movie?

When The Human Highway, Neil Young's rarely-seen 1982 film, was being shot sometime in early 1978, an announcement was made at the Mabuhay Gardens that they were looking for extras for Neil Young's movie for a scene where they played the audience at a Devo show. A lot of San Francisco punks showed up as extras (including my late girlfriend Maati, who was also filmed shooting pool in another scene that may or may not have been used), and I always wondered whether their antics made the final cut. Anyway, this is the first time I've seen the Devo vs. Neil rendition of "Hey Hey, My My". Neil's messy intensity meets Devo's kinetic stiffness in an exciting way. We need to see more footage of this odd clash of scenes.

UPDATE: Aw gee, Neil pulled the video.

Behold a pale horse

Because the blogging has slowed down while we hunker down in the kitchen to finish the Blame album, to keep y'all from being bored I give you:


Monday, July 13, 2009

Hey Ian, have you ever heard this?

One of those great, gloomy yet infectious post-punk singles that came out of nowhere and went straight back there, Clock DVA's "4 Hours" has haunted my ears for decades. This is the first time I've ever seen any footage of the group live. They're pretty faithful to the record, except for the weird sort-of harmonies on the chorus. First time I heard this on the radio, I wondered "how do you even begin to write a song like this?" It must have fallen into place unconsciously. Certainly the band themselves never came up with anything else like it again.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Please stand by

Not much activity on the blogging front, partially due to technical considerations. A very important external hard drive bit the dust, taking with it much of our vast music library, including several hot new acquisitions we were about to add to the radio station. Fortunately we had the smarts to back most of it up on disc, and Davis used her formidable skills and patience at problem-solving to free up a huge amount of disc space, which Neo has been filling with music for the last week.

In the meantime, the Blame are busy concocting some very special tracks for their first full-length album. While we wait for the upcoming magnum opus, here is another taste of Atlas Wept.

We've sorted out the credits on this one, and here they are:

ATLAS WEPT (Marvin-Grasso-Borden)
Vocals and instruments: J Neo Marvin and Davis Jones
Plus guests:
Matthew Grasso: 7-string guitar and vocals
Lizzie Borden: Vocals

P.S. Our CD by Chris Knox and the Nothing arrived, and it's a good 'un. The voice and brain of the Tall Dwarfs combined with a full-band backing, rolling through many moods and styles, with the usual Knox gift of melody, heart and caustic wit. Visit the Chris Knox blog and support Chris by ordering a copy. You'll be doing a good turn for a deserving artist who needs our help, and you'll be getting yourself some great music too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20: June 2009

A nice show of solidarity from our listeners, who put Chris Knox at number 1 with this Tall Dwarfs classic. The late Ali Akbar Khan gets some props, as does his former student, Matthew Grasso, whose "Papamagama" makes a return showing here. The newest Blame recording, "Atlas Wept" (a sneak preview of our album-in-progress which made it to #15 this month. Woot!), also features a guest appearance by Matthew on 7-string guitar and vocalizations. Last month we met a Japanese trumpet player named Junko, who gave us a CD of her band Cyclub that impressed us so much, we had to immediately add "Diabolo Chatan" (a multi-lingual play on words, protesting the US military presence in Okinawa) to the playlist, where you gave it a nudge to #18. Elsewhere we have everything from Tinariwen to Porter Wagoner to the MC5 to Suicide.
Keep listening, dear friends.

1. Tall Dwarfs - Bodies - Weeville
2. Wanda Jackson - Rock Your Baby - Rockin' With Wanda
3. Tinariwen - Afours Afours - The Radio Tisdas Sessions
4. Porter Wagoner - The Rubber Room - The Rubber Room
5. Dengue Fever - Sober Driver - Venus On Earth
6. Davy Graham - Blues Raga - Mojo Presents: The Quiet Revolution
7. Booker T. & The MG's - Slum Baby - The Very Best of Booker T. & the MG's
8. The Wild Magnolias - Smoke My Peace Pipe (Smoke It Right) - The Wild Magnolias
9. Suicide - New City - The First Rehearsal Tapes
10. Sly & The Family Stone - You Can Make It If You Try - The Essential Sly & The Family Stone
11. MC5 - Back In The USA - The Big Bang! Best Of The MC5
12. John Cooper Clarke - Beasley Street - Snap, Crackle & Bop
13. The Magnetic Fields - Washington, D.C. - 69 Love Songs, Pt. 2
14. Lou Reed - Broadway Song - The Raven
15. The Blame - Atlas Wept - Change Is All There Is
16. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan - Raga Chandranandan - Traditional Music of India
17. Incredible String Band - A Very Cellular Song - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
18. Cyclub - Diabolo Chatan - Science Future
19. Nada Brahma Music Ensemble - Papamagama - The Five Deadly Talas
20. Slim Gaillard - Chicken Rhythm - Vout For Voutoreenees