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April 22, 2008

Endless Weekend?

So it figures that just as I'm in the middle of a ridiculous record buying binge, a ton of good shows hit Columbus.  Needless to say, the records aren't going anywhere ("Vinyl won't disappear," to quote this year's anthem), so I've been spending a lot of time out destroying my eardrums.  Highlights from the past 10-12 days:

  • Naked On The Vague: I was in a bit of a beer/sun/scotch-induced haze when this Australian duo took the stage during the Siltbreeze showcase at SXSW, so their set went right over my head.  Fortunately, they swung up to Ohio two Saturdays ago.  After one listen to their recent LP, The Blood Pressure Sessions, I was totally psyched to give them proper attention in the warm confines of Carabar.  While the extra-large Saturday night lineup necessitated that NotV cut their stage time a bit short, their set totally ruled.  They've got an imposing sound up there with just a bass, snyth, and drum machine.  It's well-suited for their sorta dark noise -(if you squint, almost dance)pop.  "All Aboard" and "God Nor The Devil" were highlights.  Looks like they've got a few shows left on the West Coast, so if you're out there don't miss it.
  • Jerusalem and the Starbaskets: Another great duo, this one in the more classical rock iteration.  I've only gotten the chance to listen to the record once so far, but World of Wumme has a bit on the show/record that I totally concur with.  This was one of those sets that I didn't want to end -- there's a gritty, bluesy, even at times C&W, twang that resonates with the now.
  • It was 10 or 11 years coming, but I finally caught Moviola for the second time last week.  It's been a long road from the old Grog Shop to present day Bourbon Street, but, nostalgia aside, I was definitely groovin' on Moviola's set.  "Rudy" and "Broken Horses" were equally transcendent.  Taking second that night was Mr. Ron House's heckling of American Music Club.  (Seriously, though, I also dug the sets by The Black Swans and AMC.  It was a nice change of pace from my usual.)
  • Thomas Function totally rules.  They're now my favorite band from Alabama.  My first thought was "American Sonic Chicken 4" (which is tops in my book, btw) because of the way they take the old Velvets/garage mold and breathe new life into it.  I guess I still stand by that to some extent, but I've heard a number of comparisons to Television as well, and I definitely hear that, especially when listening to the records.  The live show is more frantic and the record more nuanced (just the way I like it).  It looks like their short jaunt north is over now, but don't wait until they come back, get the record now.
  • Just so you know, the new(ish?) Night of Pleasure song, "Thru The Legs Of Ilgauskas" is in the running for #2 Song of the Year (behind "Box of Records," of course).  I'm not just saying that 'cause I've been one of Big Z's top proponents since I witnessed him going coast-to-coast and behind his back before throwing down a monster jam against the then newly-minted Wizards way back in '97.  Nope, the song itself, regardless of any Lithuanian connection, is epic.

I'm leaving a lotta stuff out (usual great sets by TNV, El Jesus, Pink Reason, Terrible Twos), but the Tribe's actually scoring runs tonight -- nothing like Gil Meche for a slumping offense -- so I'm gonna watch that for now.

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April 08, 2008

New Pagans? Oh, yeah . . .

Pagans - The Blue Album

I only just recently caught word of this one, and I'm glad I did.  Obviously, the Pagans rule, and when a new Pagans record comes out (today was the official release date), I'm there.

Recorded in 1988 in Madison, during what's billed as the final tour of the legendary Cle band's final incarnation, The Blue Album delivers nine previously unreleased and vital tracks clocking in at just over 18 minutes.  Not quite a complete live document -- there's some editing between songs (though we do get plenty of banter from Mike Hudson & Co.) -- the record's nevertheless an ass kicker.  For those of us who were too young to have seen a Pagans show back in the day (or were living in a cave during their handful of reunion shows a few years ago), The Blue Album is pretty much required listening.

Practically speaking, this isn't a "good" recording -- basically your standard, distorted live tape that drops up and down here and there -- but this is the way it should be.  In fact, this is one of those rare records that sounds progressively better the shittier your stereo is.  I listened first on my hi-fi, and it was rad.  So-so car stereo?  Even better.  The pinnacle, though, was with the volume maxed out on the barely-hanging-together computer speakers that I hook up to my laptop -- I swear, the band was leaping out of those 4" speakers. 

Anyway, there's a lot in these 18 minutes.  Classics: "Cry 815" (a personal fave) and "Real World."  Covers: A blistering run through Pagans live standard "Heart of Stone" and a 65-second "Can't Explain" (!).  "Her Name Was Jane" serves as the highlight of the bunch -- you might remember it from its incarnation on the Cleveland Confidential LP.  And while most of the record zooms by at the proverbial breakneck speed, it ends fittingly with the touching punk ballad (seriously), "Us and All Our Friends are So Messed Up."

My only complaint is that there's no vinyl release, but it's really no matter.  Even in CD format, this record's like that shot sitting in the bottle on the other side of the bar: order it up, knock it back, and next thing you know you're picking yourself up off the floor.  This one's part of my permanent rotation from here on out.

The Blue Album's available directly from Smog Veil, whose mail-order branch comes highly recommended both for its speedy service and deep catalog.  Smog Veil's also offering The Blue Album bundled with Hudson's new memoir, Diary of a Punk, which I'll probably be gushing about soon enough, so you might as well shell out for that, too.

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April 05, 2008

News from MO

Not sure how many of yins check the Scat Records website for updates on a regular basis, and I don't think most of the hip media outlets have gotten wind of this yet, so I figured I'd point you in the direction of some good news from the label.

As of this week, Bill Fox, perhaps the best songwriter in Cle rock history, has agreed to let Scat reissue his two solo albums from the 90's.  According to R.G.:

I spoke with Bill Fox yesterday, and we have agreed to reissue his two mid-90s solo albums, Shelter from the Smoke & Transit Byzantium.  If you've been trying to get copies of either of these I know you wallet just sighed with relief.  Even better, we'll be issuing both on vinyl (a first) as well as cd.  I hope to have at least one of them out by the end of the year.

While this sounds like a straight reissue, with no extra material, it's still awesome news (especially the part about the vinyl).  Will this pave the way for the issue of some of those legendary lost Fox recordings?  Probably not, but we'll take what we can get I guess.

Also, it looks like Prisonshake's new record, Dirty Moons, is set for a July 29 release date.  Scat has the one sheet and track list up now.  You know I'm totally psyched for this one, and judging off the songs I've heard, it's gonna live up to expectations.

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