Sunday, May 29, 2016


1. SCROLL DOWNERS. Longtime Blastitude fave Lexie Mountain has a way of singing lead for heavy moderne psych rock bands that, like this brand new one, don't immediately fit into any one category. Which means that they must be Trip Metal (hell, Scroll Downers are playing Trip Metal Fest in Detroit as I type, possibly literally, it's 12:04 AM on May 29th, 2016 Eastern Standard Time). Her first such band was Crazy Dreams Band, who put out two great records on Holy Mountain in 2008 and 2010, the latter of which earned them a cover story on what is still the last "actual" "issue" of Blastitude to be published. Now she's in a band called Scroll Downers, which is her and the two guys who provided the music (guitar/bass and drums) for the band Dope Body, who I still have yet to hear, here grinding up a grand loud pulsing dream heaviness that is a perfect vehicle for Lexie's first world warrior woman rock poetics. Debut LP is called Hot Winter and it's out now on Ehse Records, also streaming here as of this writing.

2. FILMS OF INTEREST. Blackmail Is My Life et al (d. Kinji Fukasaku), an essay by Ivan Infante... The House With Laughing Windows by the brilliant Alexandra Heller-Nicholas... interview with Heller-Nicholas about "Suspiria, giallo cinema & the lure of the sensory... Gueros (2014, d. Alonso Ruizpalacios) gets into some deft Nouvelle Vague via Djibril Diop Mambety via Jimmy Jarmusch territory as it enters sideways into a story about the occupation of a university in present-day Mexico City via another story about the last days of an underground rock star...

3. BEACH BOYS Holland. I don't want to hear about the seemingly 19th "essential" forgotten bearded Beach Boys album made after 1970 either (shit man, I don't even really like Pacific Ocean Blue), but I picked this up cheap & semi-thrashed at a record show and it actually is really good. Key track right now is the anti-imperialist pro-indigenous "The Trader," especially the second half, lead vocals by Carl, heavy lyrics ("Making it softly / Like the evening sea, trying to be / Making it go / Creating it gently / Like a morning breeze, a life of ease / Eyes that see / Beyond tomorrow, through to the time without hours / Passing the Eden of Flowers / Reason to live / Embracing together / Like the merging streams, crying dreams" for example) by Jack Rieley, who was actually the group's manager at the time, and may have even been a bit of a Svengali... I think there's a story about Rieley and the band there, particularly about the making of this album, that an enterprising music writer could probably even get paid for!

4. OTHER RECORDS I GOT AT THAT RECORD SHOW. It was a particulary nice haul (thanks as always to the Rogers Park Music Swap and Funk Trunk Records)... I picked up a better $2.50 copy than my previous skippy/scratchy $2 copy of one of my favorite records of all time, Joni's Hejira (and if we're gonna quote cosmic lyrics, how about "We're only particles of change I know, I know / Orbiting around the sun / But how can I have that point of view / When I'm always bound and tied to someone / White flags of winter chimneys / Waving truce against the moon / In the mirrors of a modern bank / From the window of a hotel room")... a $5 copy of the Alvarius B/Sir Richard Bishop split LP If You Don't Like It... Don't! on Three Lobed, in which both artists perform a great set of all-instrumental all-acoustic guitar soli... a $15 copy of the Phoenix Records reissue of Flower Travellin' Band's Satori, even heavier and more beautiful than I already knew it to be (uh oh, more cosmic lyrics: "There is no up or down / Your truth is the only master / Death is made by the living / Pain is only intense to you / The sun shines every day / The sun shines every day"), and I'd never looked at an LP copy before so wasn't aware of all the detailed head-trip drawings inside the vase... I got Fairport Convention's Liege & Lief semi-thrashed for $5 and can finally say I truly get that band (thank goodness, it really took awhile)... also Judee Sill's 1st (4 Men With Beards reissue), Sunfighter by Kantner & Slick (dystopian white gospel?), dollar LPs by Coleman Hawkins and Rick James... fun stuff... not quite "being at Trip Metal Fest" level fun, but I'll take it....

5. POSTSCRIPT: Wanted to throw in a massive book I'm slowly working my way through called One River by Wade Davis, a stunning travelogue, ethnobotanical reverie, history of indigenous South America (both geographical and sociocultural), history/appreciation of the work of Richard Evan Schultes (1915-2001), Erowid-worthy trip journal, and much more, and it resonates tangentially but intensely with at least two of the things aforementioned (namely the song "The Trader" and the film Gueros), and I'm reading it because of another stunning film I should've mentioned up there, Embrace of the Serpent (2015, d. Ciro Guerra), which was partially based on and/or inspired by it. South America, man... the heaviest...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

LIFE IS A RIP OFF by John "Inzane" Olson (THIRD MAN BOOKS) I'm not gonna be cooler-than-thou about it; this book is probably going to change my life. It's definitely gonna rewire my brain, and maybe even hotwire my heart. Until they do the reprint books of the entire run of Forced Exposure and Negative Guest List (and c'mon, "they" have gotta do both), this will go right on the shelf next to Carburetor Dung and Whore Just Like The Rest as my favorite book of music writing. After reading the (great) introductions by Bryan Ramirez, Ben "Hell" Hall, Tovah Olson, and Hank Rollins, I flipped around randomly, already feeling the synapses firing/remapping/refiring/etc and in fact overwhelmed by reviews of records I've never heard of that reference 7 more bands, 6 of which I've never heard of, not to mention all manner of non-musical references and allusions and deep feelings also contained within...... and that's when it hit me: if the guy wrote one review a day for entire year, maybe I should just read one review a day for an entire year. Start with today's date, May 11th, and just go forward from there. So far I've read about Iconoclasta (Mexican prog from the 90s??), False (contempo black metal from Minneapolis??), Dezerter (80s hardcore from Poland??), and Havohej (early one-man drum-machine black metal from upstate NY... hey, them I actually know!) Gotta be patient, but it's perfect; I can absorb one contained set of information at a time, head to the computer (or in some likely-to-be-extremely-rare Havohej-like instances, my own shelves), check out the tunes right then and there, sit with them for the day, and onward. Slow listening, right? Kudos to Mr. Olson. Kudos to Third Man Books for a job well chosen and well done. Kudos to Mr. Rollins for his phrase "to butterfly stroke the ancient ooze of tune begatment." And finally, out of all the hilarious, wacked-out, and heartfelt lines in here I could quote, I'll just mention that the (December 21, 2012) review of Deep Purple In Rock begins with the phrase "If pure nut grinding is your business..." P.S. Are you kidding me, just read today's entry and it's "Side 3 & 4" of Maxine J. Van Eenam Live Piano Selections 3-20-72 acetate, found at a thrift store in East Lansing, MI, "total mystery edition of 1," "side long piano mournful wanderings with a killer lo-fi 'no one is around' loner ambiance," "has an almost hashish dust glow to the jams and pitched down 4% some sonic spots are just plain dark-evil goth," "the chances of you ear-peeping this if you are not in the shadow of the John-zone beast is ZIP ZERO"... man...

Saturday, April 30, 2016


Lots to chew on in this BOMB Magazine interview with 75 DOLLAR BILL.

I wanna buy this book. Speaking of which, there was also a BOMB Magazine interview with its author, John Corbett. Lots to chew on there too, especially if you like records. (I'm pretty sure you like records.) LOTS of great interviews in BOMB Magazine besides these.

Buncha truly great mixes by Mixcloud user Tristes Tropiques, aka Jon Dale, the music writer who brought you the absolutely utterly crucial "Story of UK DIY: 131 experimental underground classics from 1977-1985" piece for Fact Magazine, and many more over the years. On his Mixcloud account, you might as well start with the Have You Checked The Children series, a very extensive historical survey of the New Zealand post-punk underground. (But hey: be careful on that site and pay attention to the track listing because you can't rewind! Once you start a mix, it has to play until the end before you can hear a song again.)

The Dusted Magazine Listed feature with Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance which hipped me to said Mixcloud, as well as Joe McPhee's crazy "Cosmic Love."

The song "Snerl," by Wallsockets, which was released in New Zealand in 1981, I discovered on Have You Checked The Children #1 in 2016, and is my new favorite song. "I'm not a human at all / I'm really not a human at all / I'm a snerl / I'm a snerl."

The Wikipedia page for the album Songs of Leonard Cohen, which confirms that the haunting female vocals on "Suzanne" (and two other songs, you probably know which) were sung by the mother of Christina Applegate, which I only found out because sometimes I fall into deep late-night-talk-show celebrity-interview YouTube rabbit holes and I watched a clip of Ms. Applegate on the Jimmy Kimmel show tell stories of her childhood in which she kept name-checking Stephen Stills' Manassas.

Before Mondrian, Native American Women Painted Abstract Art On Saddlebags

Neoliberalism - the ideology at the root of all our problems

OK, that's all, I can lose these and restart this damn computer now...

Friday, April 29, 2016


One bright side of the sad news about Prince is all of the videos currently on YouTube, which wasn't always the case. As far as I can tell the actual LP tracks are still hard to find, which I support (buy used LPs, unless they spike in price like Bowie's, and I think all of his music is available on Tidal), especially if random live clips like this one (Live at the Brits in 2006) are allowed to sprout up overnight like glowing purple Spanish moss. Watching all of these has been a great way to rediscover and pay tribute to the man, seeing him rip so many scorching guitar solos, all of his dance moves, how he controls the song and the stage. It doesn't matter if he was making good albums or not, or whatever kind of embattled and/or fallen-off era it was in his career, his live performances were always a force of nature, all notes essential (Neil Young was also like this onstage, throughout the 80s and 90s and always, see the A Perfect Echo fan compilation for proof). I still don't plan to really listen to any of the seemingly 30 albums Prince released since the last one I paid attention too (The Love Symbol Album from 1992), but here's a performance from 2006, right in the thick of what I honestly then perceived as his grand old superstar irrelevance, and it's just goddamn great. He starts out with some MOR Santana knockoff that he had released that year, just the kind of song I was avoiding at the time, and he's playing and singing and dancing every single note like it's the most important one ever. It's not a great song, but it's still stunning just how great this dude is/was, and his bands were always superb too. I don't know who the drummer and bassist are here, but he's got Sheila E. on percussion and is reunited with Wendy & Lisa. Ms. Melvoin really is a tight-as-hell rhythm guitarist, and Ms. Coleman picks up right where she left off, suffusing the music with ethereal elegant background beauty. And who else would also have three Barbarellas in diaphanous blue dancing next to him, with one of them turning out to be a heavy background singer on "Purple Rain"? No one else.

Many other videos are recommended, such as a completely bombastic 2011 version of "The Beautiful Ones" on George Lopez, in which he gives equal billing to Misty Copeland, the future Principal Ballerina of the American Ballet Theater, and holds his own. Or the way he jives with the crowd in this solo acoustic set, or goes full Joni in this one. Or this scorching version of "Bambi" from 1990. There's lots more (all the interviews too), but one video I don't enjoy is the SNL after party. Just a little too #fratty, although it does rule when Prince says "Dearly inebriated..." (BTW, I suspect that Mark and Brix may have been intentionally channeling the Revolution in this 1988 performance, just wanted to get that off my chest.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Good god I love Thin Lizzy more than ever. Somehow it took me until really just a year or two ago to finally listen to the Eric Bell albums in depth, and they're so goddamn good I made a Spotify playlist called "THIN LIZZY - BEST OF THE ERIC BELL YEARS," which includes my favorite album tracks, as well as non-LP tracks, all in more or less chronological order as released from 1971 through 1973, all with Eric Bell on guitar. I swear I'm on the verge of tears during at least every other song. You might find opening track "Honesty Is No Excuse" to be kind of a slow (and mellotron-laden) start, but it's Phil at his majesticly vulnerable best and how about that delayed drum entrance; know that they had more pronounced folk/blues/jazz/Celtic overtones as a trio with Eric Bell, which were buffed out by more metallic riffage after he left; not that Bell couldn't get heavy, which you'll hear if you hang in there for "Return of the Farmer's Son," which Phil sings the hell out of over a downright Sabbathian groove. Another current fave is Vagabonds-era B-side "Cruisin' in the Lizzymobile," which is such a funky band theme song ("crui-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-ooh-uh-ooh-ooh-uh-uisin"), and also an awestruck ode to LSD. The way Phil trades off the vocal with Bell gets me every single time, especially when the latter sings "Don't complain / You may never feel like this again..."

Saturday, March 12, 2016


The baddest-ass Nina Simone clip on YouTube is whichever one you saw last. Especially if it's "Be My Husband."

I'm in that camp that says that every month, not just February, is Black History Month, and every month, not just March, is Women's History Month, but hey, it is March, so how about some music by another Black Woman?

And now for something not necessarily completely different, here's some music by a white man, footage of the late Arthur Russell performing songs from World of Echo, filmed by Phill Niblock:

Over an hour of Russell/Niblock footage, in fact:

A person on the internet was just talking about Marion Brown's Sweet Earth Flying, which reminded me that it's my favorite Marion Brown LP. (Special thanks to Why Not? and Afternoon of a Georgia Faun.) I already knew this, but listened today for the first time in years and it sounds better than ever. I had forgotten that both Muhal Richard Abrams and Paul Bley are in the band on dualing electric and acoustic pianos, sometimes doing a little Silent Waying and Bitches Brewing, even some Lawrence of Newarking on organ, but mostly doing their own sweet and strange thing. The 5-minute solo electric piano intro by Paul Bley makes it easy to imagine our sweet earth flying from say a hundred miles away, while Brown's darkly gentle and pensive alto and soprano saxophone solos introduce the element of unstable gravity. Another AACM member, and founding member of Air, Steve McCall is on drums... a couple guys I haven't heard of, James Jefferson and Bill Hasson are on bass and percussion (and narration) respectively. The record label is Impulse! and the year of release is 1974.

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