January 2008

January liner notes
1. PRETTY & NICE — Grab Your Nets
This one comes from Boston’s latest weird-pop band. Wicked glitchy, jumpy, thumpy, etc, but a blast to bop around to! This band is special to me, not only for the Boston factor, but because I went to high school with one of the frontmen.

J & J = lurve

[Jules, Jeremy and their center parts attend the 1999 BHS prom]

We made out quite uncomfortably in the back of a red sub-compact when we were 16 (a little awkward for us, but probably mostly for our friend Craig, who had to leave his own car so we could get biiizzzy)…and look at him now! Jeremy, along with his project Pretty & Nice, is all grown up and touring with crazy bands like Enon and Love of Diagrams. So, put on your moustaches and your vintage sweaters and Jump! This track is off of their most recent EP: “Blue and Blue”. Buy it, as well the 2006 debut “Pink & Blue”, here! A huge congratulations is in order for P&N’s recent signing with a nifty little Seattle label — a Sub Pop subsidiary! Expect a new album sometime in late summer/early fall — more details for you as soon as I have ’em. You can count on me for the inside Pretty & Nice scoop ;)
2. X-RAY SPEX — Cigarettes
After only 6 rehearsals in their manager’s front room during January 1977, X-Ray Spex blasted on the scene with a rough-and-tumble show at London’s Roxy in Covent Garden (can be heard on the “Live At the Roxy” album). Frontwoman Poly Styrene (Marion Elliott)’s summer ad in NME and Melody Maker, looking for “YOUNG PUNX WHO WANT TO STICK IT TOGETHER” had worked. She had attracted a handful of black-and-day-glo, witty misfits who were ready to contribute to the U.K.’s punk movement — auditions stopped once the five-piece had banged out a few numbers together; one of those kismet groupings. Led by the braces-clad bad-ass Poly, they ended up with a regular gig at Chelsea’s “Man In The Moon” venue, leading them to be hugely popular with the arty Brit crowd, fellow musicians and music journalists, and integral to the Chelsea scene at this time. That said, it’s a shame this band didn’t have a longer life. After a flurry of popularity and touring, the band broke up in 1979. With the one-off anthem “Oh! Bondage, Up Yours” being released (and banned) in September 1977 on Virgin, as well as a signing with EMI later (and a handful of other singles, this not being one of them), a 2-week residency at CBGB’s, and touring like mad — it’s both a surprise and to be expected that this occurred; musical burnout and differences of opinion on band direction. Poly went on to join the Hare Krishnas and without her, the band lost momentum and went their seperate ways. They did, however, reform in the fall of 1995 to release their first album since 1978’s “Germ-Free Adolescents”. You can find this track, an emphatic Blondie-esque opener, on “Conscious Consumer”.
3. GOOSE –British Mode
Formed in 2000 in Kortrijk, Belgium, this band came a long way (and quickly) from being the AC/DC cover band they started out as. Winners of the 2002 Humo’s Rock Rally, it was apparently in the stars and in their blood to create heavily-synthesized indie techno, and the music public agreed. Says Skint Records (FatBoy Slim’s label, to which the band were signed in 2006) “If some music comes on like a caress, the music that Goose make is more like a slap in the face with a velvet glove. Taking a blowtorch to the boundaries between rock and dance music, the Belgian four-piece make records like Cadillac make cars a tough and sleek, perfect fusion of man and machine. On their debut album ‘Bring It On’, Goose create dance music with ferocious metal teeth. Buzzsaw synthesisers, sternum-shaking drums and electric shock riffs combine to make something that is aggressive as it is compulsively danceable. Songs like singles ‘Black Gloves’ and ‘British Mode’ show a state-of-the-art rock band making music like a DJ plays a set, with breakdowns, building tensions and ecstatic release.” In January, the band began working on their second full-length album, offering some remixes in the meantime. Check them out here, while you impatiently wait!
“She’s My Man”, Scissor Sisters
http://www.zshare.net/audio/650469383b9873/
“C’est la vie”, Martin Solveig
http://www.zshare.net/audio/6504911ec4fc96/
“I Know Kung Fu”, Shitdisco
http://www.zshare.net/audio/6505182fcaa859/
“Men’s Needs” , The Cribs
http://www.zshare.net/audio/6505520fa9c8d4/
4. THE SHINY THINGS — Kick The Dog
To know who this band really are and what they can do, you should see where they came from: drummer Andrew Loomis (Dead Moon, Snow Bud), vocalist Terry French (The Sirens, Ronnie “Venus and the Razorblades” Lee, The James, Tutu Band), lead guitarist Becca D. (The Reverberators, The Howling Commandos, The Crotch Beatles, The Neal & Bob Experience), “guitar abuser” Mark Nelson (Know Vacancy, Goners, Crabs, Untouchables, Napalm Beach, Torpedos, Divining Rods, The Janes, Dead Hippie, Tutu Band). As you can see, it’s a regular onslaught of West Coast (LA, Portland, Longview, WA) fuck-you rock roots. These folks swagger around like the local rock legends they are, wasting away in dive bars (and more family-type establishments like Portland’s Holman’s, where I ran into Andrew on New Year’s Eve) and making noise wherever they go.
Andrew Loomis
This track is not yet released to the public (as of March ’07, the band were working on the album), I snagged it for your dirty, fierce, distorted, guilty listening pleasure. Describing their sound as “the short bus to hell” and listing their influences as “party liquor, fishnets and cigarettes”, you are doing yourself a disservice if you call yourself a rocker and miss this.
5. LYDIA LUNCH — Orphans
– “‘I’m nihilistic, antagonistic, violent, horrible—but not obliterated, yet.’
– ‘I would be humiliated if I found out that anything I did actually became a commercial success.’
– ‘There’re enough happy assholes out there, why should I be another one in the line…”
– ‘It seems to me, that for over two thousand years now; mad-men, maniacs, and would be messiahs have been pilfering, have been pillaging, have been plundering, and have been raping the entire planet; and the way I see it, Mother Nature is getting pretty pissed off.’
…so says the daring confrontationalist known as Lydia Lunch, queen of the former NYC art-punk scene known as No Wave. First fronting Teenage Jesus & The Jerks from 1976-79 (with then-boyfriend and artistic partner James Chance), then moving on to collaboration after restless collaboration with a myriad of artists like The Birthday Party, Sonic Youth and Brian Eno (who later produced the monumental scene tribute called “No New Wave”). I found this track on the out-of-print album “Everything” by Teenage Jesus & The Jerks — it’s Lydia’s first credited single, a screeching, discordant assault on convention that accurately sums up the time and Lunch’s place in it.
Fun fact: Check out 1986’s Richard Kern-directed “Fingered” for unsimulated sex acts featuring the lovely Ms. Lunch.
Fun fact: On this site, you can learn more about the art film “The Cinema of Transgression”, featuring the band.
6. THE BURNING OF ROME — Hard Times
ProTools + oddities = The Burning of Rome. Gaudy, gorgeous harmonies with a very gothic feel. I think it’s the organ that does it…no, no, it’s definitely the organ that does it. Originally intended to be a recording-only project, the band has evolved into a horror/pop/punk theatrical circus. Asks sandiegopunk.com in a recent interview: “What makes The Burning of Rome different from every other band out there?” Answer the band: “What other band do you know of has a screaming glockenspiel player in stiletto heels?” Completely sophisticated, self-made and experimental, this 7-member project is a feat of modern rock and a sight to behold. As it’s so well-put by journalist Sohrob Nikzad: “The question you have to ask yourself here is whether or not you’re secretly a gypsy vampire pirate. You’re not? Do you at least sympathize with gypsy vampire pirates? If so, The Burning of Rome is your Book of Psalms.” Kudos to Art in San Diego for introducing me to this local-to-him band on, appropriately enough, a mix CD. You, however, can find this as the opening track to 2006’s “Living The Lie”, available on iTunes.
7. WEST INDIAN GIRL — What Are You Afraid Of
Named for a batch of early 60s acid that supposedly offered “tribal trips”, this band perfectly embodies the name they decided on. It’s airy and lightly psychedelic, while still staying fresh and modern. Off of 2004’s self-titled Astralwerks debut, “What Are You Afraid Of” is one of the more popular tracks, the happy, California hippie video receiving heavy play on MTV2’s show, “Subterranean”.
Stoned and toned, the band make sure that you are listening, that you are paying attention, then make you feel that you are naked and yet enrobed in sunshine. A mix of the electronic and the acoustic, with lilting vocals like waves washing up on a beach, this Los Angeles band is one to pay rapt attention to.
8. THE FUGEES — Zealots
Okay. So if you don’t know the mid-90s, New York/New Jersey-based hip-hop trio of Wyclef Jean/Pras/Lauryn Hill (The Fugees) — where have you been? I’ve been sitting here for awhile, trying to figure out how to best sum up into a blurb anything that one might need to know about this insanely-famous band/album/song. It’s like last month, when I was trying to “blurb” Lou Reed. God. Ugh. There’s a lot, and I may just end up cutting-and-pasting if it seems like I’m just parroting information. Bear with me. This record-breaking album “The Score” was huge (Grammy award-winning) when it came out in 1996. Every reggae/soul/rap/hip-hop/jazz/R&B-inspired track was a surprise success in its own right. Considering that there were covers as well as numerous samples on the album (including on this track, The Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes For You”), it’s not a surprise that it was popular, but that it was SO popular overnight — becoming one of the best-selling hip-hop albums of all time. This song, a warning to lackluster MCs (“Behold, as my odes, manifold on your rhymes / Two MC’s can’t occupy the same space at the same time”) , is just one more example of each member not just working individually but also collectively, despite any rumored differences or strife or personality clashes between band members. The result is a tightly-layered, sometimes wryly humorous social commentary that is a must-have. As you ought to know, the band broke up in 1997, but each member has found success in other ventures — so if you’re craving more of this sound, there’s individually more to be found.
9. POISON IDEA — Plastic Bomb
You know something, I never would’ve even thought to add this to this mix if not for the fact that I recently attended the Paul Green’s School of Rock “Best of the Northwest” performance with my friend Antonio. Wanna see a bunch of kids kick fucking ass while covering this tune, accompanied by one of the actual guitarists? Check this out. Especially note the headbanging 3.5-foot tall lead singer who looks like a Hanson. And the tipsy adults in the crowd going nuts are pretty fun, too, especially considering they were mainly moms and dads. RAWWWWWK.
Yeah. I know!
Local (Portland) hardcore icons Poison Idea had a career that spanned 13 years (1980-1993), knocking the socks off of audiences and listeners with their raw, nihilistic contemporary punk. Inspired by greats like Black Flag and The Germs, and taking their musical cues from bands like Discharge and SOA, the band’s speedy, dark and angry power is undeniable. It’s unfortunate that numerous lineup changes, excessive drinking and hard living caught up to the band. It’s reported that by 1990 or so, the band collectively weighed about 1300 pounds — and when the biggest of them all, Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts (may he rest in peace) left the band in 1993, thus ended the long run of Poison Idea. If you want to relive their glory days, perhaps with your buddies and lots of beer (and I suggest video games if you’ve got ’em), check out 1986’s “Kings of Punk” LP. It is arguably one of the best hardcore albums of all time. Also, if you’re in a record-buying mood, you can find this track on 1990’s “Feel the Darkness” — never hurts to have this one in your arsenal, either. Although by this point the band’s sound had changed more to a seasoned one, a “hardcore/hard rock fusion that incorporated the accessibility of hard rock without sacrificing the power of hardcore”, that can’t be found in their earlier records.
10. THE NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB — Ice Cream
One might feel a little sick to his/her stomach when thinking about this track, perhaps too much “Ice Cream”, thanks to those Intel commercials. And, I could’ve chosen any number of other tracks instead, off of 2007’s “Fantastic Playroom”. But I don’t think that the commercial snippet accurately portrayed the song or the band, so I give it to you here in its entirety so you can judge for yourself (and so mebbe I can sway you, ha). One might gather from just the spoken part portrayed that this is a robotic electronic band, here to serve the public in monotonous, unfeeling ways. But that just isn’t so! New rave, new disco, dance pop from this London band is engaging and sweet as sugar, while also retaining that mechanic edge that that commercial will have us believe is all they can do. The rest of the album shows their versatility, even in their genre-specific craft: lead singer Tahita Bulmer does a really excellent job of giving each song its own character and life. Nothing is boringly repetitive. Nostalgic and meticulous, it’s post-post-punk (what else do you call this sound that’s so particular and yet a modern version of music that’s 25 years old?) you’ve just gotta get into. Worth picking up and getting down.
11. THE AFGHAN WHIGS — Creep
I first fell in love with this band when “Fountain and Fairfax” was played on MTV’s “My So-Called Life”. When was that — 1994? 1995? Anyway. We’ve had a long love affair, the Afghan Whigs and I.
Formed in an Ohio jail cell in 1986, the Afghan Whigs (not to be confused with The Whigs, nono) were a grunge rock band influenced by soul and Motown, which automatically set them apart from other grunge bands of the time who claimed to be influenced by U.K. bands like Led Zeppelin. Always sort of flying under the radar, no matter what label they were on (fist Sub Pop — a big deal since they were the first non-Northwesterners, then Elektra, then Columbia) , it’s interesting that the band chose to cover this TLC hit on the 1996 4-song EP for the “Honky’s Ladder” single. With lead singer Greg Dulli’s psyche in shambles at the time; becoming a recluse, suffering bouts of paranoia and taking his cues from film noir, perhaps this was covered in an effort to show a lighthearted side of the band. Another theory is that since”Honky’s Ladder” is rather mainstream and radio-friendly, maybe the TLC cover was just following suit. Maybe it was as simple as just the band saying, “yeah, let’s continue covering songs on our EPs” (the two preceding were basically all covers, aside from the one obvious featured number). Any way you look at it, the Afghan Whigs did “Creep” and did it soulful and easy. The band’s demise came in 2001 when they broke up, citing “geographical differences”. If you’re curious enough about this track’s roots, you can go see any number of performances by bands featuring ex-Whigs and if you’re lucky and/or persistent, ask ’em yourself: Dulli in The Twilight Singers, guitarist Rick McCollum in Moon Maan, drummer Michael Horrigan as guitarist for Brendan Benson, or bassist John Curley in Staggering Statistics.
Fun fact: Also catch Dulli on tour with Mark Lanegan this year, performing as The Gutter Twins. Portland: see them at the Wonder Ballroom on March 3rd! 15 BUCKS!!!
12. MEGAFAUN — Lazy Suicide
Calling someone out on bullshit, I’m all about it. And Megafaun does just that with this track: “Lazy suicide / weak formaldehyde / you could wake up if you tried”. A banjo-laden track of bitterness, “Lazy Suicide” snakes intently through melodies and Avett Brothers-esque harmonies to create a song worth drinking alone in the dark to. Brooding and specifically southern, it’s a gospel not to be ignored. From North Carolina comes this trio, who have created a sort of “family band” with tour buddies Akron/Family and Greg Davis, and who are relaxing after a long fall/winter tour (as well as a robbery of their tour vans in October). They are looking forward to the drop of their debut album, “Bury The Square”, on February 19th — as well you should be, too. Pre-order the disc at cduniverse.com!
13. THE BETA BAND — Dr. Baker
Underground and experimental fans, rejoice, here is your much-loved Beta Band. While on the same album as that High Fidelity-famous “Dry The Rain” (the aptly named compilation of their first three releases, 1998’s The Three E.P.s), this track is much more of a depressive mantra than the others. Showing a more accessible side than some of the other more “out there” songs by the Scottish foursome, “Dr. Baker” is an introspective modern day classic with purposefully-repetitive lyrics and nostalgic feel. Haunting and nearly a religious experience. When I listen to the Beta Band, it’s all that much clearer that they were in a class of their own, comical and pointedly direct with their style. It’s a bummer that the trip-hop jam band called it quits in 2004, as they were reknowned for their live performances and experimental nature, and they had nowhere else to go but up. “Dr. Baker” is one of those minimalist tracks that surprises you, because while the lyrics are going around and around and the song doesn’t really go anywhere, you’re still transported to far-off places.
14. KENY ARKANA — Outro
So, in the U.K. they have Ms. Dynamite, in France they have Keny Arkana. Certainly compared yet so different. Both an activist and an artist, this 25 year-old French rap artist has come a long way since she started perfecting her craft at the tender age of 13. Big in the Marseilles underground scene, where she got her start and first gigs, she’s responsible for having formed both the Mars Patrie and Etat Major music collectives. She was also integral in helping to create and distribute the latter’s first mixtape/compilation. In 2004, La Rage du Peuple, the alter-globalization movement and experimental collective, was formed. Arkana quickly became active and in 2005 released the collective’s mixtape album off of which this track is, “L’Esquisse” (translation: “The Sketch”). With a catchy loop and fiercely-spat lyrics, this rap delight is a prominent voice for France’s political situation as well as for Arkana’s personal life. I highly recommend you buy the whole album. While the talented Arkana and her hardcore, unstoppable flow remain rather uncovered in the U.S. — it may not be long before she is a household name.
15. THE INCLINED PLANE — Oh, Delight
First of all, let me just say that the demo from the Connecticut band is the coolest-looking one I’ve received so far. Handmade and numbered, there’s blue chenille-type fur on it and a little vinyl cutout for the cover art. Rad! Here, I’ll even attach a picture:
Inclined Plane demo
(Gestalt Pump, 2006)

Someone obviously went to a lot of trouble. My guess is that it has something to do with Popular Wallpaper Recordings, a DIY label out of Hartford founded by this band! The label specializes in unique packaging like this. Take note, bands of the world! Popular Wallpaper Recordings! Nice work, gentlemen. Now, on to the music, which is what we’re all here for!
Formed in 2006, this 6-piece (7-piece?) lo-fi indie band has an interesting, complex sound. Their music crashes about, giving me the feeling — in this song, anyway — that I’m on a raft in the middle of the ocean, lazily enjoying my own personal booze cruise. It’s a good feeling. Bubbly (the sound of bubbles popping at the end helps this narration) pop music, like champagne without the annoyance of hiccups. Naturally signed to Popular Wallpaper Recordings, The Inclined Plane is one to watch. It’s not that often that I come across a fledgling band made up of so many members that manage to remain so tightly wound and in control and yet so easygoing and obviously having fun and loving the music they’re making together. You can download their 3 EPs for free, here!
Nonpareils (2007)
Fun fact: Guitar/synth/banjo/organ/toy piano/glockenspiel/drums player and vox Keith Bouchard is one of The Mixtress Online’s favorite mix-makers, too ;)
16. SIXTOO — Graffiti On The Wall
Says friend (and fellow Sebutone) Buck 65 about Sixtoo’s first album (1994’s “Superstar Props”), where this track comes from: “I can remember the night clearly when he had put together his first solo record,” says Buck. “It was me and him and the Hip Club Groove guys sitting in the car on Barrington Street in downtown Halifax. There were no hard feelings from anyone, despite all the ups and downs and erratic behaviour. [His music] blew us all out of the water. It was the first time that we saw the real sensitivity that we all grew accustomed to later, the real quiet soul that was in there. It was amazing to see that. We just didn’t know what he was capable of because we hadn’t really seen him involved in the production of the music on his own. He inspired all of us with it.”
Vaughn Robert Squire, aka Sixtoo (formerly CL — Criminal Lyricist — S.C.A.R.R. and Six Vicious, now Speakerbruiser) is a legend in the early 90s underground hip-hop scene. The Montreal-dwelling artist is known for being a major player in the early movement, displaying with ease and bravado his turntablist, DJ and production skills. His strategy is simpler than many other rappers — he doesn’t aim to squeeze a bunch of 10-dollar words in there to get his point across, he just makes it short and sweet and the effort is effective. With a discography over a page long and collaborations with numerous Canadian and U.S. artists, one can tell that this artist believes in what he is doing and isn’t afraid to take original risks. His music isn’t dance music, like so many commercial rap artists — his brand is tranquilized, monotonous, impeccable beats.
17. AMBOY DUKES — Journey To The Center Of The Mind
The last time I heard this song before thinking to put it on a mix, it was on Six Feet Under, when Nate discovers his father’s secret rented room after his father has passed away, and Nate wonders, Who was this guy? Funny that, while going through my dad’s vinyl, after he’d passed away, in with the jazz records I found a Shirelles album. It made me laugh. While it was probably in his collection for a student (my father ultimately owned a music school), it’s rather out of character. So, when this song was pounding through my headphones and I was holding a Shirelles record in my hand, I felt just the same way that the Nate character was feeling. This is one of those old tracks that just makes you wanna get high and feel a bunch of angst so hard until it can’t be felt any harder and has to dissipate. Guitarist Ted Nugent (who kickstarted his career with this project) claimed that he had no idea the song was about experiencing an acid trip. He says he thought it was about “looking inside yourself”. The only hit for the early hard rock band, this 1968 psychedelic classic (off of the record by the same name) helped to define what psychedelic music was. Organ rock and hard-hitting drums, as well as the quality of the recording technique of instrument separation in the channels, really make it work.
18. FILA BRAZILLIA — Firelanes
Fila Brazillia was formed in 1990 by Steve Cobby and Dave McSherry, two guys from Northeast England. Off of 1998’s “Power Clown”, this electronica duo is ahead of their time with this track. I’ll admit, when I first heard it, I thought for sure it was more contemporary. The use of mixed beats and horn-like keys didn’t exactly alert me to a song from 1998! Instrumental and funky, it’s an excellent groove, diverse and chill.
(it’s always hard to review an instrumental any more than that, ha)
19. THE REAL TUESDAY WELD — Last Words
Stephen Coates is The Real Tuesday Weld, and he is seemingly a very strange guy. “…British singer-songwriter and audio provocateur…has charmed critics and audiences alike by wedding the suggestive hiss of vintage vinyl and ancient radio transmissions to the latest samples, loops and glitchy beats creating a signature sound he calls ‘antique beat'”. The band formed after he had a dream involving the vintage actress Tuesday Weld and ’30s vocalist Al Bowlly. After that, it got into Coates’s head to form a dreamy kind of electronic cabaret, inspired mainly by that dream. Track number 13 off of the 16-track most recent album, 2007’s “The London Book of the Dead”, it’s a hallucinatory electronic track with Postal Service-like phrasing and piano, giving you the feeling that you’re breathing in air filled with sticky 60s French pop — for an odd drowning sensation that’s surprisingly not at all unpleasant.
20. BIRDS & BATTERIES — I’ll Never Sleep Again
It’s an electro-western gem that washes over you to end the album peacefully. It’s futuristic Americana. It’s pedal steel and synth. Gorgeous and sleepily eye-opening, you wait and wait for the track to blow up but it never does. It just resolves and fades away, like a long day ending. The title track off of last year’s album by the same name, San Francisco’s Birds & Batteries have produced an album that is meeting critical acclaim. And why shouldn’t it? I’ll keep going with the descriptions: twang meets laptop; “70s studio rock nostalgia”; drowsy, heavy layers of abstract existentialism. Pick up the album to see for yourself what I mean. It’s not to be missed or overlooked!
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