Monday, August 31, 2009

40 Year Old Burden: A Letter To Michael Lang...

To Woodstock co-founder, Michael Lang,

Though raised on your generation's music, I'm obviously not from your generation. Understanding the happenstance behind the original Woodstock Festival, and the monumental effect it's had on rock n' roll history, I congratulate you on your 40 year legacy.

I have to admit, though: it's really hard to give a shit about it.

As I've stated already, I'm obviously not of your generation. I was born too late for disco thankfully, but I got to see the corporate machine's assimilation of culture and counterculture during the 80s, and witnessed the peace and love generation's willingness to abandon its philosophy and cash in. This of course led to the disaffected and disillusioned youth brigade that I was a part of and it didn't help when you decided that Woodstock should be attempted again in 1994, this time with Pepsi's help. I was halfway through college when the next Woodstock was awash in flame and rape; the perfect end to a decade that seemingly started off on the right foot.

Yes, you sold it as more "peace and love," but it was obviously an opportunity to make up some of that money you'd lost all those years ago as the gates crashed and the hippies came prancing, dancing and singing you and your co-conspirators into the poor house. Your pockets might've been empty, but you still had smiles on your faces. The music was still good. The show was still a success and you became immortalized.

No, I'm not against making money; everyone needs to make a living.

My issue with you, Mr. Lang, is that you stand by Woodstock as if the purity of spirit that still seems honest with its initial incarnation hasn't been desecrated by its subsequent remakes. And, you can be so bold as to point out that YOUR version wasn't violent, and that YOUR version didn't end in flames. But, I'm sure you've had no qualms with spending all the money you made on those lesser-than facsimiles, as it was your generation's celebratory milestone that turned into an opportunity to price gouge its already cynical progeny. You can blame the music all you want, that may have fueled the fire, but people know when they're being exploited and robbed.

Thankfully, no 40 year concert will be held. As it is, Woodstock's undeniable importance is something to be recognized. But, it should also stand as a testament to future generations that cultural milestones can't be repeated with the aid of soda and that every generation deserves its OWN shot at immortality. Woodstock was for the 60s, Mr. Lang. You had your time to be relevant. You didn't need to involve yourself in a generation that obviously wasn't yours.

Letters From A Tapehead

P.S. I'm interested to see how Ang Lee interprets your pet.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ellie Greenwich (1940-2009)

A veritable sea of hits began with Ellie Greenwich, who passed away yesterday at the age of 68.

"Leader Of The Pack"

”Da Do Run Run”

Without trying, you've heard at least a dozen of her songs, her name synonymous with "girl groups," and a pre-lethal Phil Spector. Farewell to a hit machine.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Volcano Choir

For any fans of Bon Iver, Justin Vernon is in collaboration mode. Apparently, before For Emma, Forever Ago was released, Vernon and the band, Collections of Colonies of Bees had recorded what will be released in late September as Unmap.

Publicity photo for the Bed, Bath & Beyond Monks

The album’s first single, “Island, IS,” is a catchy dogpile of guitar loops with minor tonal alterations. Vernon provides the song’s harmonies vocally, contrasting the somewhat utilitarian nature of the backdrop. I know that I’m not making the song sound too exciting, but if you’re familiar with Vernon’s ability to make just about anything sound ethereal and angelic, you can give “Island IS” a listen and be intrigued. It’s a simple song, but it brims with nuance. I like this song better than anything on Vernon’s Blood Bank EP.

”Island IS”

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Ripcord: Subhumans


The Day The Country Died (Reissue)
From The Cradle To The Grave (Reissue)
Released: 5.26.09

Time Flies/Rats (Reissue)
Worlds Apart (Reissue)
Released: 6.16.09

EP-LP (Reissue)
29:29 Split Vision (Reissue)
Released: 7.14.09

No Ripcord review

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Mailbox Giveth: Dusted Angel & Tournament

Dusted Angel
The Thorn EP
Corruption Recordings

As Sleep and Sabbath come to mind, the heavily weighted arms of guitarists Eric Feiber and Scott Stevens forceful in their expression, Dusted Angel (featuring former members of SST homebodies, Bl’ast) aren’t necessarily slugging their way into new territory. But, their three song 7,” The Thorn EP, is nevertheless magnetic riff-wise, the result of its indisputable allegiance to Iommi. The production isn’t quite there, but the music compensates.

Dusted Angel - The Thorn

Years Old
Forcefield Records

Sort of machined like Big Black, sort of six-strung like The Jesus Lizard or Mission Of Burma, debut LP from the Brooklyn pseduo-metallic Tournament is fascinatingly modern for owing so much to the scathing and abrasive indie rock of yore. Their riffs are like repetitious bouts of something hurtful or antagonizing, doomed or melancholic phrases that you can’t help but listen to while knowing full well that blissful ignorance would be the sane option. The prevalent rut of a guitar line in “Smokelore” almost reminds me of PiL’s “Poptones,” pronounced in the same rut of a construct while “Good, Thanks. You?” opens with a pent up intro like Helmet’s “Unsung.” Comparable or not though, Years Old is enigmatic in that it’s good, but you’re not sure why.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, August 17, 2009

What I Heard This Morning: Experimental Dental School

It hasn't happened too often recently: The instant I hear a song and it makes me bark aloud, "Fuck yeah!"

Not that I couldn't find a more eloquent and less profane way to explain Experimental Dental School and their music, but the instantaneous gratification warranted a less intellectual reaction. And, now that it's out of the way, I can better articulate my opinion.

What caught me by surprise about XDS was that, first off, they're a duo. Second off, I like their combination of Deerhoof-ian wonder (the lalalalas of "Royal Fantasy Snow") and modernized King Crimson intensity. Maybe Crimson's a stretch, but the riffs have that acid rock energy minus the big band refinement. Garage prog?

The album's called Forest Field and I'll have a review up in a week or so. In the meantime, feast your ears and agree with me:

"Royal Fantasy Snow"

"Basement Fever"

Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: Limbs

Seeds On Stone
Released: 3.09

No Ripcord review

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, August 14, 2009

What I Heard This Morning: The Splinters

“Splintered Bridges,” one of a two-song 7” by all-girl garage rockers, The Splinters, is what you’d come to expect from any band categorized as “garage” or “lo-fi:” quick, catchy and energized. I can imagine that some would consider the Phil Spector-esque doolang of The Splinters a tired device now that the Vivian Girls are getting press, but “Splintered Bridges” is blessed with attitude and a degree of defiance that’s kind of charming. I can imagine that the four of them have probably seen Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains more than a few times. It certainly sounds like they have.

The album is out on Double Negative records.

”Splintered Bridges”

Letters From A Tapehead

Les Paul (1915-2009)

Ninety percent of my record collection would never have existed and I’d have nothing to write about: This would be me without you.

This is a heavy, heavy loss for rock n’ roll, unless everyone wields a Gibson in the afterlife. Here’s hoping.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

“Harry Patch (In Memory Of)”

A couple days ago, I was in the car heading somewhere, and listening to KYW News. Radiohead earned 60 seconds: enough time to discuss Harry Patch, the last living UK veteran to have fought during World War I. He died recently at 111 years of age, having lived long enough to see humankind catapult itself into technological heights that we now take for granted. And, as we’ve evolved, humanity still can’t seem to get along without war.

Patch was a pacifist, and had only begun discussing his war experiences about ten or eleven years ago. Thom Yorke was apparently moved by an interview he’d heard, and decided to write a song about Harry. According to Yorke, “The way he talked about war had a profound effect on me. It became the inspiration for a song that we happened to record a few weeks before his death.”

“Harry Patch (In Memory Of)” was written by Yorke and composed by Jonny Greenwood, sort of in the same vein as his There Will Be Blood work, though less sinister.

The song is available for download at the equivalent of £1.00, proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, August 07, 2009

Letters From A Tapehead vacations...

Sorry to all for my silence. Be sure to see some updates within the next couple days, including new reviews in No Ripcord.

Apologies once again,
Letters From A Tapehead

Guerilla Toss: "Meteorological"

I was elated to find out that Guerilla Toss will be releasing a new LP this September called Twisted Crystal . Last year's GT Ultra sp...