Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Oh, puh-leeze! That's amorphous nonsense!"

More Democrats like this, please. The pseudo-civil sanctimonious enablers on CNN don't know what to do with this guy. It's a joy to see Grayson refuse to acknowledge the frame they try to stick him in. Ridicule, people. It's a tool that can be used for good if you know how to wield it with skill and integrity.

UPDATE: More wisdom from Driftglass:
And that is what elevates this from mere farce to tragedy: the fact that our public discourse has become so arch, empty, encrypted and craven that after treating the simple act of telling the unvarnished truth with sneering incredulity for about nine minutes, our Serious Journalists eventually lapse into something that sounded quite a lot like...awe.
You can support Grayson's truth-telling here.

The Rude Pundit weighs in, in his inimitable style.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Steppin' Out

OK, I was late in discovering this news, but I am truly sorry to hear about the passing of Drake Levin. As lead guitarist for Paul Revere & the Raiders, he put his stamp on some of my favorite records that weren't by the Beatles when I was 9 or 10.

Vivid memory coming back: One night sometime in the late 80s or early 90s (I'd better start writing this stuff down now before my memory goes completely...Jeezus!) X-tal had just finished a set at the I-Beam on Haight St. As we were loading out I noticed the marquee across the street: Drake Levin was playing the Full Moon Saloon. Wow, I thought, it has to be the same guy. Should I go? Nah.

I've regretted not crossing the street that night for a long time.

Synchronized dance steps and Vox Teardrop guitars...those were different times. When my childhood friend and fellow Paul Revere & The Raiders fan George Galvas guested on the Content Providers' "How I Spent The Dark Ages", he brought along a Vox Teardrop bass AND 12-string guitar. (We refrained from breaking out the dance steps, however.) The lovely wall of sound on that track is the result.

UPDATE PT. XXX: OK, so in the sober light of day, I see that Mr. Levin is actually playing some sort of lovely double-neck job. It was bassist Phil "Fang" Volk who rocked the Teardrop. Still, Fang's Teardrop bass (which he would periodically flip around to show his nickname painted on the back---this was a band who loved their shtick) has forever been imprinted on my mind as the definitive "Raiders guitar". What's odd is that a group who were on TV so much have so little footage available on YouTube. Come on, Dick Clark, cough it up.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Word to the wise

Here's a good article on record production from Tunecorner, the blog of our digital distributor. You get a nice outline of a producer's responsibilities and rights, and how to intelligently prepare for a project.

Most important point to take away from this: don't embark on any recording until you've already sorted out the business side, whatever you decide that ought to be. It's possible to get so excited about a project that you jump into it without a contract or even a clear agreement, and end up getting burned by unscrupulous people. It's even worse when they call themselves friends. Don't let a fun thing turn into a bitter disappointment; it's bad for your biology.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This is not high school and I have no need to feel small now

One of my old favorite bands, Vomit Launch, have a posthumous website where you can download some of their rarer gems (like the long dub version of "Swelling Admiration") and even a video page where you can find clips like the one below.

Maybe their willfully goofy name kept some of the more faint-hearted fans away who might have propelled them to indie fame, but for those of us who were there, Vomit Launch were a special band. Each individual in the group was a vital piece of the puzzle, and they served up one great song after another with wild-eyed, absurd yet nonchalant glee. Larry Crane, who anchored the band with his eloquent, Peter Hook-like basslines, has gone on to greater fame via Tape Op magazine and Jackpot Studio. My former X-tal bandmate Mick Freeman and I used to tease Larry about his resemblance to Al Franken, but now that Al's a senator and Larry's a legendary recording engineer, I think the two of them can be proud of both their own and each other's achievements.

Meanwhile, Steve Bragg, their tall English drummer, was the muscle of the band, Lindsey Thrasher delivered the jangle, and Trish DeRowland fronted the band with a heart full of angst and mischief. They were true characters, and a brilliant, unjustly forgotten band. Let the revival start here.

Here's a time capsule from the early 90s with Vomit Launch plugging their final album not long before their breakup. I'm raising a glass to Trish, Lindsey, Larry and Steve tonight. Saw you about 10 times in the 80s and 90s (usually sharing a bill) and you never did a crappy show. Always poignant, funny and resolutely musical, Vomit Launch were twisting Joy Division's sound to their own purposes years before it was cool. Glad to get a chance to enjoy them again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New song: Picking A Fight

Here is a sneak preview of the newest finished song by The Granite Countertops, Picking A Fight. Joining Davis and Neo here are trumpeter Junko Suzuki Parsons (of Cyclub) and saxophonist Mark Parsons (an alumni of the Conspiracy Of Beards and presently in Cyclub as well), a brilliant husband-and-wife horn section who add to the dub-licious surrealism here.

Enjoy, and add our work-in-progress to your Christmas list!

Animal Panic

So I'm seeing bus stop ads everywhere for a new animated movie called "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" with pictures of people standing under an umbrella with looks of wonder in their eyes as meatballs fall from the sky, and the ex-vegetarian in me immediately starts thinking, "what kind of animal is being butchered, ground and processed in the clouds up there, and what does this book entitled To Serve Man REALLY mean?"

Now I'm going to tuck into a nice chunk of Chateaubriand, if you don't mind.

(Title comes from another unfinished tune from the Granite Countertops album, which is coming along nicely. More to come.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quote of the day

The one line from Nuts In May that made me laugh out loud. (Context: this is in response to the question, "Do you mind if I smoke?")
If I could take one of your lungs, put it on the table and cut it in half, I think you'd be horrified.
I don't even smoke, but I certainly would be.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Won't you let me see?

One of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs. I had no idea he made a video for it. Check out these hot dancers:

Hat tip to A Tune For Today, a great new blog you all should be reading.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Nine Versions and the widget

You may have noticed that we have added a widget to the blog, located at the top right just above the links, blogroll, etc. Our digital distributor, Tunecore, is now providing these to its clients, which is cool; you get to turn it on and hear a selection of the various releases we've put out on our label through them. Great, huh?

We should let you know, though, that we have a new release by J Neo Marvin & the Content Providers called Nine Versions, which compiles six previously-released cover versions by the band plus three more we never put out before that we cut in 2005 and are happy to finally find a home for.

Nine Versions, with amusing Hollywood-Squares-esque cover art by Davis Jones, will be available very soon. HOWEVER, while you can enjoy tracks from this album on our widget right now, the "buy" link won't be functional until then. Since we have already paid the writers of these cover versions via the venerable Harry Fox Agency, we hope you will help us get our investment back by using the iTunes link. Now that the music business has evolved into a glorified honor system, we rely on the goodwill of our dear friends in the cyber-fog.

What, you say you want NEW material? Just you wait, darlings.

Dancing machine

A brief, elegantly minimalistic animated German tribute to Michael Jackson

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More animation: Leo's song


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Animation: Medium of choice? Sand.


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UPDATE (by J Neo Marvin): Davis, you are on a roll today!

Here's a sample of this amazing artist's work. The most mind-blowing thing is she is doing all of this live!
Click the link above for more info and movies of Ms. Simonova.

The Beatles: Rock Band

The Beatles: Rock Band

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20: August 2009

The whims of our listening public never cease to fascinate, exposing little corners of our playlist to the light and giving the thumbs up. D.O.A.'s glorious 1984 cover of Edwin Starr's Vietnam-era classic has lost none of its potency over the years. War, ugh, good god y'all. It's still good for absolutely nothing, folks. A striking a cappella mix of vintage Beach Boys amplifies the existential teen angst that was already there in the original. We have TWO items from our good friend Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover: his old punk band, Even Worse, (Neo says they always were his favorite band on ROIR's New York Thrash comp; sorry Bad Brains, sorry Beastie Boys) and his more recent band Last Burning Embers.

Closer to home, we are a proud aunt and uncle to the gifted Trevor Simpson, who has put together a highly popular studio, Right Right Recording, outside of Baltimore, and fronts a hella-snappy power-pop band called Brighter Shades, who have made their new album available FREE via the Intertubes. Check it out.

We continue to salute our fallen hero, Chris Knox, with a track each from his bands the Tall Dwarfs and the Nothing. We have not one but two Patti Smith tracks, one from an absolute classic bootleg of a concert in Sweden in the 70s. If you have never heard Patti's take on the Velvets' "Pale Blue Eyes", well, you have two choices: seek out that long-lost bootleg any way you can, or keep your ears glued here! The other one from Patti is her take on "Within You Without You" from her recent covers album.

A rare, strange artifact from the Rolling Stones is culled from the exhaustive Satanic Sessions, an intriguing look at the making of their woefully underrated psychedelic classic Their Satanic Majesties Request. Hearing these bare backing tracks, you notice that Keith was very much in charge of the sessions despite his later misgivings about the whole project (it's hard to tell what Mick Jagger is doing, if anything), that Brian Jones played even more mellotron than what ended up on the album (often you hear him trying to play heavily syncopated, rhythmic parts on the beautiful but clunky instrument, which really doesn't lend itself to such things), that they relied heavily on Nicky Hopkins to hold everything together, and that it sure took that band a LOT of takes to get warmed up. Once they did though, amazing things happened, and it's a revelation to hear how the backing track for "Sing This All Together" sounded before the song was split in two pieces. Keith Richards heads into free-jazz territory here. It's a delight.

Our friend and supporter Peter B shows up in the charts this month on a Kirtan blowout recorded live at Harbin Hot Springs. Be not fooled, idren and sistren: this is not esoteric religious babble, this is pure joyous singalong release. It's good for you, and as fun as thumping the table along with Ras Michael. Lose yourself in the trance. We may be releasing video footage of Peter and his cohort somewhere down the road. As Lord Buckley's character the Nazz shouted out so memorably, "DIG INFINITY!"

Ear Candle Radio: You dug it before, re-dig it now.

1. D.O.A. - War - War and Peace
2. The Beach Boys - I Just Wasn't Made For These Times (a cappella) - Pet Sounds Sessions (Early Mix)
3. Last Burning Embers - The Vacillator - Pink Frost/Big Takeover Sampler 2008
4. Kaki King - Close Your Eyes & You'll Burst Into Flames - Everybody Loves You
5. Brighter Shades - You Shine So Bright - You Shine So Bright
6. Tall Dwarfs - Rorschach - Weeville
7. Paleface - Stupid War Movies - Paleface
8. Nothing - To The Sun - A Warm Gun
9. The Fall - A Figure Walks - Dragnet [Bonus Tracks]
10. The Dirtbombs - Fire In The Western World - We Have You Surrounded
11. John Coltrane - My Favorite Things - My Favorite Things
12. Roxy Music - Pyjamarama - Street Life - Greatest Hits
13. Robert Forster - It Ain't Easy - The Evangelist
14. Even Worse - Last Nights Blimpee - Pink Frost/Big Takeover Sampler 2008
15. The Rolling Stones - Sing This All Together (Take 7) - The Satanic Sessions Vol 1 [3 of 4]
16. Patti Smith - Within You Without You - Twelve
17. Patti Smith - Pale Blue Eyes - I Never Talked To Bob Dylan
18. Peter B & Friends - Radhe Sham - Harbin Temple Kirtan
19. PJ Harvey - This Is Love - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
20. The Gossip - Listen Up! - Standing In The Way Of Control