Friday, May 28, 2010

The Flaming Lips: Speak To Me/Breathe

Sometimes being a fanboy will drive you pick up albums you'd never otherwise own. I picked up a copy of The Flaming Lips' long title, The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon because, well, Henry Rollins' names was in the title. Plus, knowing the disdain that Rollins has for Pink Floyd, I was curious as to why he'd partake in such a venture, let alone how he'd contribute.

Well, turns out Rollins was the one to read the album's original interview snippets, plus deliver the lunatic's laughter in "Brain Damage." Makes sense.

Otherwise, Wayne Coyne recruited his nephew Dennis Coyne's band, Stardeath and White Dwarfs to aid in the Lips' mission, and possibly just to create a project they could to together. Very Frank and Moon Unit. The undertaking of recreating a classic album is a pretentious one at that, so it's important to either make your parody known, or make your homage genuine. In the case of this album, I can't tell what they're doing. Is it serious? Is it humorous? Is it hubris?

I think in the case of Wayne Coyne, as usually seems to be the case with Wayne Coyne, it's a bit of everything. The guy always comes off the well-intentioned self-deprecating bandit, pitting cleverness and acid bath imagination against his likable disposition. It's hard to know if the guy is ever genuine because he tends to try mightily to be weirdo.

But, to do something like this, and get away with it, certainly you must have some sense of your dominance and some security in knowing that your fanbase will forgive your every misdeed. Coyne is on sacred ground, but at least it's ground laden with classic rock and, if I remember correctly, weren't the 90s mostly an unapologetic middle-finger to the quote/unquote hope of the hippies-turned-disillusionment and excess-turned-plasticity of the Reagan era and its ill-gotten gain? If Coyne still carries a torch for his place in rock history, a 90s take on a psychedelic throwback, then this may be the most appropriate cover album ever made.

Having said that, credible, necessary, or not, the Lips' version of "Money" was a disappointment.

Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: The Dead Weather

The Dead Weather
Sea Of Cowards
Third Man Records
Released: 5.11.10

No Ripcord review

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pontiak: Second Sun/Beach

Into zoning out for a while?

"Second Sun" and "Beach" are two songs from Pontiak's latest album, Living, and they pull drear, folk and bemusement into a rather engrossing six or so minutes. "Beach" is a more traditional segment of the medley, (an acoustic guitar and a bottomless voice), though I like that the video sticks to a single guitar player for the duration of the song. "Second Sun" feels like it's found in nature, almost like it's too random and pure to be man-made. Perfect grouping for a grey day.

Pontiak - Second Sun / Beach from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Letters From A Tapehead


There's an EP coming out called, BXI. It looks like Boris has something to do with it.

That's all I got.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stereokiller: Toxic Lab Rats

Toxic Lab Rats
Spectre Records
Released: 4.6.10

Stereokiller review

Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records #30: The Dandy Warhols Compilation The Capitol Years: 1995-2007

Via Capitol/EMI press release:

Hollywood, California - May 26, 2010 – A new CD and digital collection of 14 Dandy Warhols standout singles and album tracks, plus one brand new song, will be released by Capitol/EMI in North America on August 24. To be titled The Capitol Years: 1995-2007, this is the Dandy Warhols’ first compilation release, spotlighting the influence the Portland, Oregon-based band has had, and continues to have, on modern music.

The Capitol Years: 1995-2007 is comprised of material culled from the Dandy Warhols’ four Capitol Records releases, The Dandy Warhols Come Down (1997), Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia (2000), Welcome To The Monkey House (2003), and Odditorium or Warlords of Mars (2005), plus a new song, “This Is The Tide,” which is exclusive to this release, and two tracks from The Dandy Warhols Are Sound (the long-awaited original mixes of The Monkey House, released in 2009), making it an essential addition to the Dandys’ recorded canon.

The Dandy Warhols Come Down, the band's second album and Capitol debut, was released in 1996 in the U.S. and in 1997 in Europe . The album featured the hits "Boys Better" and "Every Day Should Be A Holiday" and showcased lush, layered guitars, otherworldly Velvet Underground-inspired spaceouts and sing-along rock anthems that were sorely lacking from the day’s grunge rerun-saturated rock radio. The band first garnered international attention with the world's catchiest anti-heroin song, "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth."

Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia followed, laying amplified elaborate guitar freakouts ("Godless”) atop the catchiest pop songs the Warhols had written to date. Trying not to sing-along with "Get Off" proves futile, while "Bohemian Like You" demonstrates that, in documenting the band’s subculture lifestyle in Portland, the Dandy Warhols succeeded in recording a manifesto for the modern hipster. This was the record that forever changed the band members’ lives; they now played to hundreds of thousands of rabid fans at festivals all over the world.

In 2003,
Welcome To The Monkey House showcased a fresh-faced Warhols experimenting with an ‘80s keyboard-driven sound. Fans commended the band for mixing the expansive organic and electro elements that today are viewed as having been particularly forward-thinking and relevant. Featuring the anthemic kiss-off "We Used To Be Friends" and the icy cool breakup song "The Last High," the Dandy Warhols stepped out on a ledge while staying true to the pop hooks and experimental sonic journeys they’d become notorious for championing.

Odditorium or Warlords of Mars, thick with space-rock jams and sexed-up anthems, was the first album the Dandy Warhols recorded at the Odditorium, the band’s massive, newly-minted recording studio/practice space in Portland . The album echoes sounds first flirted with on early hits from their self-titled debut. “Holding Me Up" evokes every great rave-up they've written, honed to its sheer essence, while "All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey" cheekily winks at the band’s then-newfound freedom.

In 2008, setting out on their own and acting as masters of their own universe, the band released
Earth To The Dandy Warhols to great acclaim via the band’s new label, Beat The World Records. Last summer, they released the original Russell Elevado (a GRAMMY-award winning soul mixing engineer) mixes of Welcome To The Monkey House under the title The Dandy Warhols Are Sound, revealing the lo-fi, earthy nature of the record’s original surface.

Today, the Dandy Warhols are in the Odditorium, playing, partying and continuing to perpetuate their own scene -- one that continues to hold a grip on music lovers the world over. That grip’s steadfastness is unsurprising: the Dandy Warhols just have this certain thing about them. They simply write some of the best rock songs of this generation.

The Dandy Warhols: The Capitol Years: 1995-2007 (CD, digital)

1. Boys Better
2. Every Day Should Be A Holiday
3. Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth
4. Good Morning
5. Godless
6. Get Off
7. Bohemian Like You
8. We Used To Be Friends
9. Scientist [Are Sound version]
10. The Last High
11. Plan A [Are Sound version]
12. Holding Me Up
13. All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey
14. Smoke It
15. This Is The Tide [NEW RECORDING]

Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records #29: Neurosis' Enemy of the Sun

Via Earsplit PR:

Neurot Recordings is proud to announce the reissue of one of the most groundbreaking releases in the ever-expanding lineage of icons NEUROSIS, Enemy Of The Sun.

With NEUROSIS' earlier releases -- 1987's
Pain Of Mind, and even 1990's The Word As Law -- the band's jagged and eerie blend of metallic, hypnotic, post-gutter punk was instantly recognized as wholly unique, yet it took multiple releases for the then Bay-area unit to infinitely define their sound, forcing the world to listen, then run for cover. Their 1992 full-length Souls At Zero showcased the band branching off into much more expanded songwriting, giving birth to much longer hymns, infusing them with tribal rhythms and slow-building post-doom bastardization, then breaking massive new ground for the metal world.

But it was their follow-up in 1993, the crushing
Enemy Of The Sun LP, that would be the album to take the pulsing, hypnotizing monoliths NEUROSIS was crafting down to much darker, and much, much heavier territory for the rest of the band's still-growing roster of masterpieces. Still to this day, critics and fans of heavy and experimental metal hold this release to be one of the harshest, spine-chilling, mind-warping releases in history, and countless acts have cited Enemy... as "the one that changed everything" for them.

The eight tracks on the release was one of the most massively cavernous, crushing records the world had experienced. A mesmerizing, pressurizing, dirge-driven display of brutal riffing, thick with haunting samples, layered, anguished vocal tracks, raging multiple-member percussion contributions, and some of the most mammoth buildups ever,
Enemy Of The Sun was an album that left a sense of anguish in your soul long after the record was over.

Neurot Recordings are exceptionally proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of NEUROSIS, and once again issue this classic album to the masses. 2010's reissue of
Enemy Of The Sun bears a fully redesigned package by visionary artist, Neurosis live visual master Josh Graham, and will be released worldwide on August 30th, 2010.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Library Catalog Music Series (Vols. 7 & 8)

Asthmatic Kitty is continuing their quest to provide you, the less than enriched listener, with a soundtrack for your life. The two new volumes of AK's Library Catalog Music Series feature solo work from Richard Swift, (performing as Instruments of Science and Technology), and electronica composer/installation artist/sound designer Kristin Miltner. The new versions will be released on 7.20.10.

"Old Handshakes" from Volume 7: Instruments of Science & Technology — "Music for Paradise Armor".

"Dreaming Longing" from Volume 8: Kristen Miltner – "Music For Dreaming and Playing".

Letters From A Tapehead

Did I Give You Guys “Skyward Housing?”

Maus Haus
Sea-Sides EP
Rocinante Records
Released: 4.20.10

Last year, I heard and fell in love with Lark Marvels, the debut album from San Francisco synth rock sextet, Maus Haus. As the band laid into its synthesized persona, a sound that strangely intellectualized its garage weirdness with a dose of science fiction, Lark Marvels seemed a new phase in the Nuggets continuum, one that took its San Franciscan homeland’s tradition and inspiration and brought the sound some digital awareness.

With Sea-Sides, the band’s latest EP, Maus Haus doesn’t necessarily expand or evolve their sound, but they maintain their distinct brand of invention. “Winter” strides like a modernized Zombies track, heavy on vocal melodies and arrangements that evoke polite psychedelia. “Zig Zag” is enlivened by prancing keyboard strokes and rolling percussion that sets up the bouncing syncopation of “Skyward Housing,” a song whose title seems to exemplify the sort of imagery their sounds suggest.

They dangerously tread Animal Collective’s undulating waters with “Sunshine,” the vocal harmonies and generated electronic expanse almost an homage to the Collective’s most recent soundscapes. “Sneaky Feelings” is a melancholy marriage of fuzz, tap and hum that transitions into an epic midsection, leaving the song’s remaining minutes feeling orchestral.

Live performance of “Winter”

Though Sea-Sides is essentially a five-song enticement meant to carry you to the next release, it’s worth the attention. Still an eccentric and imaginative unit, Maus Haus continues to mesh modernism with rock n’ roll ancestry, offering new experiences in electronic-composition and giving us a glimpse at life with “skyward housing.”

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Ripcord: Untied States

Untied States
Instant Everything, Constant Nothing
Distile Records
Released: 4.13.10

No Ripcord review

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stereokiller: Snew

We Do What We Want
Released: 3.30.10

Stereokiller review

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boris On Tour

Via Southern Lord:

BORIS To Spend Their Summer Vacation Deafening North Americans

Japan’s most potent psychedelic rock quartet BORIS have just locked down their next North American escapade.

After many previous tours to the continent, superheavy post-doom-rock unit BORIS will return to North America this summer in a major way, storming the continent on a tour that will last from the end of July through the month of August. Kicking off in California, the opening leg of the tour will see the band accompanied by Russian Circles as main support for the first few weeks, and by Red Sparrowes for the second leg, which also winds down in the Golden State at the end of August.

But BORIS will not let a tour die off quietly…. This full tour shall take place in advance of the previously announced appearance by SUNN O))) and BORIS amalgamating to perform as ALTAR — as heard on their 2006
Altar full-length — at the third annual All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in beautiful upstate New York, performing alongside Sleep [performing Holy Mountain], Iggy & The Stooges [performing Raw Power], Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Raekwon, Explosions In The Sky and tons more this Labor Day weekend.

Stay tuned for a forthcoming major announcement regarding several new Boris releases!

BORIS North North American Summer Excursion 2010:
7/24/2010 The Casbah - San Diego, CA
7/25/2010 Plush - Tucson, AZ
7/27/2010 The Loft @ Palladium Ballroom - Dallas, TX w/ Russian Circles
7/28/2010 The Mohawk - Austin, TX w/ Russian Circles
7/30/2010 Spanish Moon - Baton Rouge, LA w/ Russian Circles
7/31/2010 The Engine Room - Tallahassee, FL w/ Russian Circles
8/01/2010 The Masquerade - Atlanta, GA w/ Russian Circles
8/02/2010 Cat’s Cradle - Carrboro, NC w/ Russian Circles
8/03/2010 930 Club - Washington DC w/ Russian Circles
8/04/2010 Starlight Ballroom - Philadelphia, PA w/ Russian Circles
8/07/2010 The Middle East - Cambridge, MA w/ Russian Circles, Cave In
8/08/2010 Le Tulipe - Montreal, QC w/ Russian Circles
8/09/2010 Lee’s Place - Toronto, ON w/ Russian Circles
8/10/2010 Magic Stick - Detroit, MI w/ Russian Circles
8/11/2010 Southgate House - Newport, KY w/ Russian Circles
8/13/2010 Metro - Chicago, IL w/ Russian Circles
8/14/2010 Firebird - St. Louis, MO w/ Russian Circles
8/15/2010 Granada Theatre - Lawrence, KS w/ Russian Circles
8/16/2010 Marquis Theater - Denver, CO w/ Red Sparrowes
8/17/2010 *TBA - Salt Lake City, UT w/ Red Sparrowes
8/19/2010 Republik - Calgary, AB w/ Red Sparrowes
8/20/2010 The Starlite - Edmonton, AB w/ Red Sparrowes
8/22/2010 Rickshaw Theater - Vancouver, BC w/ Red Sparrowes
8/23/2010 Neumo’s - Seattle, WA w/ Red Sparrowes
8/24/2010 Hawthorne Theatre - Portland, OR w/ Red Sparrowes
8/26/2010 Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA w/ Red Sparrowes
8/27/2010 El Rey - Los Angeles, CA w/ Red Sparrowes
8/28/2010 The Glass House - Pomona, CA w/ Red Sparrowes
9/05/2010 Kutsher’s Country Club - Monticello, NY @ ATP Fest - “Altar set” w/ SUNNO)))

Some more information on the Boris/Sunn O))) partnership can be found here.

Letters From A Tapehead


Menomena’s long awaited, (long awaited by me), new album MINES will be out July 27th on Barsuk Records. The band is offering a download of album single, “FIVE LITTLE ROOMS,” for the price of an email address which the band will later use to fill you in on information regarding record pre-ordering, a double 7” release, t-shirts and other assorted merchandise wonderments that I would gladly hand over my wallet for.

It’s really good to hear a new Menomena track, so enjoy. I eagerly await the release date which, coincidentally, is my brother’s birthday.

A review of their last album, Friend And Foe, can be found here.

Letters From A Tapehead

ISIS: "Simply put, ISIS has done everything we wanted to do..."

A statement from ISIS:

"ISIS has reached an end. It's hard to try to say it in any delicate way, and it is a truth that is best spoken plainly. This end isn't something that occurred over night and it hasn't been brought about by a single cataclysmic fracture in the band. Simply put, ISIS has done everything we wanted to do, said everything we wanted to say. In the interest of preserving the love we have of this band, for each other, for the music made and for all the people who have continually supported us, it is time to bring it to a close. We've seen too many bands push past the point of a dignified death and we all promised one another early on in the life of the band that we would do our best to ensure ISIS would never fall victim to that syndrome. We've had a much longer run than we ever expected we would and accomplished a great deal more than we ever imagined possible. We never set any specific goals when the band was founded other than to make the music we wanted to hear and to play (and to stay true to that ideal), so everything else that has come along the long and winding path has been an absolute gift. As with any momentous life-changing decision (which this certainly is for the 5 of us), we feel a very dynamic range of emotions about this and cannot express all of it within the space of a few sentences, and perhaps it's best to do what we've always done and let our music speak for us. It is and has been the truest expression of who we are as a collective and in some ways who we are as individuals for the 13 years in which we've been together. The last and perhaps most important thing we might say in relation to all this is how grateful we are for the people that have supported us over the years. It is a lengthy list that would include those who put out our records, those that played on them and put them to tape, the many bands with whom we shared the stage, all of our family, friends and companions who supported us in our individual lives and thus made it possible for us to continue on in the band, and most importantly those who truly listened to our music whether in recorded form or by coming to out to our shows (or both). It is quite true that we would never have done what we have without those people, that is many of you who are reading this. Our words can never fully express what we feel, but we hope that our music and the efforts made to bring it into being can serve as a more proper expression of gratitude for this life and for everyone in it. Thank you.

In more immediate and practical terms the tour we are about to embark upon is indeed our last. We are hoping that these final live rituals can help us bring a close to the life of this band in a celebratory and reverent way, and also provide us with a chance to say goodbye to many of those that have supported us over the years. While there is a measure of sadness that comes with the passing of this band, we hope that the final days can be joyous ones during which any and all that wish to come and join us will do so. It seems fitting that the last show of the tour and of our active existence will take place in Montreal, the site of the very first ISIS show in 1997 (though that was an unintentional move when booking the show initially). After the tour we also plan to follow through with other projects set in motion some time ago - pursuing the completion of a final EP, compiling live audio and visual material for future releases, and generally doing whatever we can to make our music available for as long as there are people who wish to hear it.

Thanks again to any and all,

ISIS, May 18 2010"

Via Press release:

From Mike Patton & Greg Werckman (Ipecac founders):

"It has been a complete honor to be a part of the ISIS team. ISIS is a major part of our label's foundation. Those 5 talented guys are our friends and we look forward to see and hear what they each do in the future."

ISIS' final tour dates:

May 26 2010 — The Casbah w/ Jakob & Tombs — San Diego, California, US
May 29 2010 — Wow Hall w/ Jakob & Tombs — Eugene, Oregon, US
May 30 2010 — Capitol Theatre w/ Jakob & Tombs — Olympia, WA
May 31 2010 — Rickshaw Theatre w/ Jakob & Tombs — Vancouver, British Co, CA
Jun 1 2010 — Neumo’s w/ Jakob & Tombs — Seattle, Washington, US
Jun 2 2010 — Doug Fir Lounge w/ Jakob & Tombs — Portland, Oregon, US
Jun 4 2010 — Great American Music Hall w/ Jakob & Tombs — San Francisco, California, US
Jun 5 2010 — The Troubadour w/ Jakob & Tombs — Los Angeles, California, US
Jun 12 2010 — Bonnaroo Festival W/ Clutch, Melvins, Flaming Lips, etc. — Manchester, Tennessee, US
Jun 14 2010 — 40 Watt Club w/ Melvins — Athens, Georgia, US
Jun 16 2010 — 9:30 Club w/ Melvins — Washington, Washington, US
Jun 17 2010 — Theater Of Living Arts (TLA) w/ Melvins — Philadelphia, Pennsylvan, US
Jun 18 2010 — Webster Hall w/ Melvins — New York, New York, US
Jun 19 2010 — Music Hall Of Williamsburg w/ Melvins — Brooklyn, New York, US
Jun 20 2010 — Paradise Rock Club w/ Melvins — Boston, Massachuse, US
Jun 21 2010 — Paradise Rock Club w/ Melvins — Boston, Massachuse, US
Jun 22 2010 — Port City Music Hall w/ Cave In — Portland, Maine, US
Jun 23 2010 — Club Soda w/ Cave In — Montreal, Quebec, CA

A review of last year's Wavering Radiant can be found at No Ripcord.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: The Harvey Girls

The Harvey Girls are a husband-wife duo (Melissa Rodenbeek and Hiram Lucke) from Portland that likes to juxtapose zapping sprigs of keyboard noise with acoustic instruments. “Smile Like Gwynplaine” is the single off their upcoming album, I've Been Watching a Lot of Horror Movies Lately, and builds layers of harmonized vocals with the aforementioned keyboard noise, marching drums and folk guitar. Apparently, they create most their constructs with a Boss RC-20 pedal that allows them to sample and loop, thusly the duo can sound like a full band.

Give the song a listen. I’ve Been Watching a Lot of Horror Movies lately will be released June 29th by Circle Into Square.

”Smile Like Gwynplaine”

Links courtesy of Terrorbird Media

Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records #28: R.E.M.’s Fables Of The Reconstruction

Via Capitol/EMI press release:

Hollywood, California – May 18, 2010 - R.E.M. has teamed with Capitol/I.R.S. for the July 13 release of an expanded 25th Anniversary 2CD and digital edition of the band’s 1985 album, Fables Of The Reconstruction. The new edition features the digitally remastered original album, plus 14 previously unreleased demo recordings, cut prior to the album’s studio sessions, including one long-sought track that has never been released. The commemorative release also adds insightful new liner notes by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, with the 2CD package presented in a lift-top box with a poster and four postcards. On the same date, the remastered original album will be released on 180-gram vinyl.

Fables Of The Reconstruction, recorded during the winter of 1985 in London, England, distant in geography, weather and culture from R.E.M.’s Athens, Georgia home, represented a musical step forward for the band and its members, vocalist Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry.

Produced by Joe Boyd (also known for his work with British folk and folk-rock musicians, including Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, and Fairport Convention),
Fables marked the beginning of a more narrative, storytelling lyrical style in R.E.M.’s songwriting, with its songs spinning vivid tales of everyday life in the American South.

Before going to London to record, R.E.M. huddled in Jim Hawkins’ Athens, Georgia studio for a few weeks, woodshedding and building new songs from fragments, including many which had emerged during soundchecks along the band’s 1984 tour.

In his liner notes, Peter Buck recalls,
“The last day of rehearsal, I think with Joe Boyd in attendance, Jim Hawkins recorded what we had come up with. We spent about four hours recording all the new songs live, with minimal overdubs. I hadn't listened to this stuff since we recorded it, and I'm kind of stunned at how good it is. My memory of the rehearsals is us scrambling to finish songs. The songs on both Murmur and Reckoning had been performed for months if not years by the time they were committed to tape. I remember feeling dangerously unprepared when we flew to London, but on the evidence of this recording we must have known what we were doing.”

“The Athens Demos,” as R.E.M. has dubbed them, comprise the new edition’s second disc of 14 previously unreleased recordings, including drafts of Fables’ 11 songs and three additional tracks that didn’t make the album. The three non-album demos include two early versions of songs that were later revisited by the band and recorded for other releases and one song, “Throw Those Trolls Away,” making its release debut on this new edition.

In the U.S.,
Fables Of The Reconstruction peaked at #28 on The Billboard 200, and its singles, “Can’t Get There From Here” and “Driver 8,” reached #14 and #22 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart, respectively. In the U.K., Fables reached #35, the band’s highest U.K. chart position to that point in their career.

“It's a personal favorite,” writes Buck, “and I'm really proud of how strange it is. Nobody but R.E.M. could have made that record. It took our four twisted personalities and the legendary Joe Boyd to make an album that character-filled and vibey.”

Letters From A Tapehead

Minus The Bear: My Time

Choreographed B-girls in leotards amidst a color shifting spectrum of backgrounds and outfits. There’s a song, too.

MTVu, which is supposed to be MTV’s attempt at staying to the left of the dial, just premiered Minus The Bear’s new video for their single, “My Time.” Their latest album, OMNI, is out now on Dangerbird Records and ready for consumption.

| Video

Tour dates via Press Release:

18 Albuquerque, MN - Sunshine Theatre
19 Las Vegas, NV - House of Blues
20 Los Angeles, CA - Mayan Theatre
21 Pomona, CA - Glass House
22 San Diego, CA - SOMA
23 Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theater
26 San Francisco, CA - Regency Ballroom
27 Reno, NV - Knitting Factory
28 Portland, OR - Roseland Theatre
29 George, WA - Sasquatch Music Festival

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mad Season: Wake Up

“Slow suicide’s no way to go...” (...but it was, unfortunately.)

I guess grunge/alternative music was at its peek in ‘94, ready to dissipate in the second hand smoke of Kurt Cobain’s shotgun. As if to convey the significance of the chemical imbalances within the scene that were becoming media fodder thanks to Cobain’s drug habit, Mad Season, a supergroup of sorts comprised of Alice In Chains’s Lane Staley, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Barrett Martin from Screaming Trees and bassist John Baker Saunders, was like an extracurricular activity designed to keep its members busy and off drugs. It’s just a shame it didn’t work: half its members are unfortunately deceased, Staley and Saunders having both overdosed on heroin.

Above was the only album to come out of the group and I remember it being on rotation quite a bit when I was in high school. “Wake Up” was especially one of those songs worthy of meditation, the song’s thick bassline and somewhat minimalist rock approach crystalline and discernable next to the muddy and distorted output associated with its genre and the other respective acts that brought these four together. It will always give me chills, captivate me and put me in a certain headspace relevant to my uncertain youth.

Letters From A Tapehead

Ronnie James Dio (1942 - 2010)

Message from Wendy Dio

Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.

- Wendy Dio

So Ronnie James Dio has passed on at the age of 67. He was to undergo treatment for stomach cancer. His is a significant loss to his fans, fans of Rainbow and, of course, fans of Black Sabbath.


Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mondo Cane — A "Classical" Album

Via Speakeasy PR:

May 13, SAN FRANCISCO – Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane is turning out to be an album of many firsts for the revered front man of influential bands such as Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Peeping Tom and Fantômas. Not only is the album Patton’s first Italian language release as well as his first outing with a full orchestra, the album also finds him landing on Billboard’s Classical Album chart for the first time.

Mondo Cane, which was released by Ipecac Recordings on May 4, entered the Billboard Classical Album chart at # 2, an unexpected twist on a chart that regularly features the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Il Divo. The eleven-song album was years in the making with Patton selecting pieces from the great Italian composers and pouring over every detail for this labor of love. As Patton described the process himself, his motivation was to showcase the music’s persistent relevance through “modern and adventurous interpretation.”

Spin described the release as “a rich and heartfelt celebration of Italian pop music,” The Onion said of the album, “flagrantly enjoyable from first gasp to final croon” and the BBC proclaimed
Mondo Cane as “the most gonzo recording of Patton’s none-more-gonzo career.”

Mondo Cane also debuted at #7 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart.

My review of Patton's Mondo Cane was recently posted on No Ripcord.

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Mailbox Giveth: Aluk Todolo

Aluk Todolo
Finsternis LP
Public Guilt
Released: 5.18.10
(CD is available from Utech Records)

Finsternis was this morning’s soundtrack for my commute to work and it was somewhat of an assuring listen. With the perpetual clockwork of drone trio Aluk Todolo’s new album there was consolation attached that, when I wasn’t moving for minutes at a time, their music was always in a state of continual march. As two-sides of an LP, chapters of an ongoing story that continue till there’s no tread left for the needle to scratch, Finsternis is what you think of when you imagine walking on the shoulder of some gritty, expansive highway after your car breaks down, hoping that just beyond the bend, there’s a pit stop, a gas station, a police station... Something that will get you off your feet and on your way. Granted, that doesn’t sound too hopeful, or even pleasant, but those ever long inconveniences we face where time seems to slow to some obscene crawl, and the world never feels more round and constant, make enough of an impression in our day to day lives that it deserves this type of sonic claustrophobia and wisdom.

More often than not, I’ve cited Sonic Youth (Ciccone Youth)’s “Macbeth” to sort of explain a type of rhythmic monotony with guitar effects driven into spatial and dissonant relationships within the music’s own wide and enveloping world. With Aluk Todolo, their acidic drone is more confined to a dwelling, almost suffocating in its closeness and its air of impending dread and B-Movie crudity. The first side’s two movements: “Premier Contact” and “Deuxième Contact,” are a little over 18 minutes of guitar screech that expands on the tracks’ eerie and patient backdrop. It’s just a loop with built intensity that really never blows its load, just sort of remains content to remain in flux. Yes, it goes nowhere, but the rhythm begs attention. There’s something to this music that, in lesser hands, would justifiably meet a slanderous response.

The remaining side, whose components “Totalité,” “Troisième Contact,” and “Quatrième Contact” also bleed into one unifying idea, adds more space and colossal doom before degenerating into a cymbal smash and tunneling guitar cacophony. There’s more contrast between ideas for the album’s b-side, though Finsternis is all about consistency of motion, the fundamentals of patience and how both can sometimes drive one to slowly lose touch with reality.

Me? I lost touch with my commute and suddenly woke up in my parked car once the album ended. Weird start to the morning.

“Deuxième Contact” (excerpt)

Letters From A Tapehead

Dum Dum Girls: Pay For Me

For Home Record Store Day, the Dum Dum Girls put out a split 7” with Sub Pop labelmates, Male Bonding, that featured the exclusive track, “Pay For Me.” For those that missed the release, like myself, Sub Pop is making the song available along with I Will Be’s “Bhang Bhang, I’m A Burnout.” The download will be available for two weeks, so... Enjoy.

A review for I Will Be can be found at No Ripcord penned, or keyed, by yours truly.

Upcoming tour dates from

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 – Le Botanique, Brussels 1210
Thursday, May 13, 2010 – Luminaire, London United Kingdom
Friday, May 14, 2010 – Sound Control (UK), Manchester United Kingdom
Saturday, May 15, 2010 – Brudenell Social, Leeds United Kingdom
Sunday, May 16, 2010 – Lancaster Library (UK), Market Square United Kingdom
Monday, May 17, 2010 – Stereo, Glasgow United Kingdom
Tuesday, May 18, 2010 – Whelans, Dublin Ireland
Thursday, May 20, 2010 – Point Ephémère, Paris France
Friday, May 21, 2010 – Molotov, Hamburg Germany
Saturday, May 22, 2010 – West Germany, Berlin Germany
Sunday, May 23, 2010 – Olympic Park (Germany), Munich Germany
Monday, May 24, 2010 – Arena, Vienna Austria
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 – Rocket, Milan Italy (Club Kiss That Night)
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 – Hana-Bi, Ravenna Italy
Thursday, May 27, 2010 – Bad Bonn, Düdingen Switzerland
Saturday, May 29, 2010 – Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona Spain

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 – New Parish, Oakland CA w/ Crocodiles
Friday, June 25, 2010 – Hawthorne Theater, Portland OR – w/ Crocodiles
Saturday, June 26, 2010 – High Dive, Seattle WA w/ Crocodiles
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 – Blue Lamp, Sacramento CA w/ Crocodiles
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 – Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco CA w/ Crocodiles
Thursday, July 1, 2010 – Echo, Los Angeles CA – w/ Crocodiles
Friday, July 2, 2010 – Casbah, San Diego CA w/ Crocodiles
Saturday, July 3, 2010 – Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa CA w/ Crocodiles

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Ripcord: Mike Patton

Mike Patton
Mondo Cane
Ipecac Recordings
Released: 5.4.10

No Ripcord review

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Wishing you Moms a good day with your loved ones.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, May 07, 2010

Unnatural Helpers: She Was Your Girlfriend

You should rock out and watch some people argue, cry and flip each other off.

Unnatural Helpers’ “She Was Your Girlfriend” is another single from their new album, Cracked Love & Other Drugs.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Microphonies

Sam Farfsing is Microphonies, a self-propelled electro-havoc project, sort of similar to the rap-ish laptop stylings of The Show Is The Rainbow. Microphonies is weird, wild, eccentric, the sort of mentality or creative vision that can sometimes only exist when self-sufficient. Jazz From Hell, McCartney... Self-sufficient.

Time Kills, (or Tttiiimmmeeekkkiiilllsss), is coming out June 21st from Track Number Records.


”Cut Your Fins and Learn to Swim”

Links provided by Terrorbird Media.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Wolf Parade

EXPO 86 is the title of Wolf Parade's upcoming third album which is being released by Sub Pop on June 29th. "What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)" and "Ghost Pressure" are the album's first singles. Decent rock tracks, synth driven with disco beats.

Wolf Parade - What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had to Go This Way) by subpop

Wolf Parade - Ghost Pressure by subpop

From the press release:

Wolf Parade 2010 tour Dates —

May 06 Europe Mania Festival (HU), Budapest, Hungary
May 07 Donaufestival, Krems an der Donau, Austria
May 08 Pop Up Festival (DE), Leipzig, Germany
May 09 Matrix (CZ), Prague, Czech Republic
May 11 Rockhouse, Salzburg, Austria
May 12 Lokomotiv, Bologna, Italy
May 13 Spazio 211, Torino, Italy
May 16 Le Botanique, Brussels, 1210
May 17 Concorde 2, Brighton, United Kingdom
May 18 Borderline, London, United Kingdom
May 19 Oran Mor, Glasgow, United Kingdom
May 20 Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland
May 21 Club Academy, Manchester, United Kingdom
May 22 Tivoli, Utrecht, Netherlands
May 25 Teatar &TD, Zagreb, Croatia
May 26 Menza pri koritu (SL), Lubijana, Slovenia
May 27 Salumeria della Musica (IT), Milan, Italy
May 28 Palace (CH), Gallen, Switzerland
May 29 Bad Bonn, Düdingen, Switzerland
May 31 Nouveau Casino, Paris, France
Jul 08 Le National (QC), Montreal, Canada
Jul 09 Le National (QC), Montreal, Canada
Jul 11 Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME
Jul 12 House of Blues (Boston), Boston, MA
Jul 13 Terminal Five, New York, NY
Jul 15 Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
Jul 16 Southgate House, Newport, KY
Jul 17 Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, IL
Jul 18 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
Jul 19 Garrick Center, Winnipeg, Canada
Jul 21 Louis' Pub, Saskatoon, Canada
Jul 22 Republik, Calgary, Canada
Jul 23 Starlight Room, Edmonton, Canada
Jul 25 Vogue Theatre (BC), Vancouver, Canada
Jul 26 Showbox (@ the Market), Seattle, WA
Jul 27 Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
Jul 29 Catalyst Club Atrium, Santa Cruz, CA
Jul 30 Fox Theater (OAK), Oakland, CA
Jul 31 Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA
Sep 03 Into the Great Wide Open Festival, Vlieland , Netherlands
Sep 06 Spring & Airbrake, Belfast, United Kingdom
Sep 07 Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Sep 09 Brudenell Social, Leeds, United Kingdom

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, May 03, 2010

Shopping For Records #27: Goatsnake's Flower Of Disease

It's possible that I've been riding Southern Lord's jock a little too fanatically, but 2010's been a good year for the label. Goatsnake's Flower Of Disease, for instance, has finally been reissued after being out of circulation for 8 or 9 years and it sounds great.

From Earsplit PR:

Southern Lord Recordings is proud to re-unleash the long out-of-print GOATSNAKE album Flower Of Disease!

The third official release from the almighty GOATSNAKE, this slick, thunderous eight-song slab of doom was initially released in 2000 on the now defunct Man's Ruin label, with Southern Lord handling the vinyl release. After lying dormant without an official pressing of the album in over eight years, the 'Lord now officially brings the album back to the masses on both CD and LP formats.

Recorded at Hollywood's Grand Master Studios, and engineered by Nick Raskulinecz (Danzig, Foo Fighters, Probot, Alice In Chains),
Flower Of Disease showcased GOATSNAKE elevating their already professional songwriting to new levels, deeply stirring those already following the act's every move and vacuuming in new countless new fans. This is "the release" that would solidify the GOATSNAKE name as one of the top bands of the '90s stoner/doom movement.

The GOATSNAKE lineup on
Flower Of Disease features members Greg Anderson (SUNN O))), Thorr's Hammer, Southern Lord Recordings), Pete Stahl (Scream, Wool, Desert Sessions), Greg Rogers (The Obsessed), and Stuart Dahlquist (Burning Witch, Asva), as well as guest contributions from Petra Haden and Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal, QOTSA, Mondo Generator).

Live footage from their Roadburn Festival appearance, Tillburg, Netherlands, 4.15.10

Letters From A Tapehead

New Selections — Emma Ruth Rundle, Tropical Fuck Storm, Primitive Man, Private Life, Uniform, Erika Wennerstrom, Djrum, Windhand

Starting August off with some new singles. Emma Ruth Rundle:  " Darkhorse " (via Rarely Unable /  Sargent House  / YouTub...