Friday, July 30, 2010

Woven Bones: I’ve Gotta Get

Woven Bones has signed to the Hardly Art label and, in recognition of the move, a new 7” from the Bones is being released on August 10th, “I’ve Gotta Get” b/w “Hey Kid.” “I’ve Gotta Get” has a lot of that lo-fi smog that seems to have qualified as “commonplace” lately, but I love the surf timbre guitars and the Stooges-level of resigned energy they seem to generate.

”I’ve Gotta Get”

I still have to pick up their recently released album, In and Out and Back Again. It’s on my list.

If you’re interesting in seeing Woven Bones live, Insound recently brought the band in for their Insound Sessions series:

Tour dates via press release:

08.06.10 – Austin TX at the United States of Art Authority (w/ Happy Birthday, Residual Echoes)
08.07.10 – Dallas TX at the Nightmare
08.10.10 – Denver CO at Hi Dive (w/ Woodsman)
08.11.10 – Salt Lake City at Kilby Court
08.12.10 – Boise ID at Neurolux
08.13.10 – Portland OR at Plan B (SMMR BMMR)
08.14.10 – Seattle WA at the Wildrose (w/ Idle Times)
08.15.10 – Olympia WA at Northern (w/ Christmas)
08.17.10 – Reno NV at the Lincoln Lounge
08.18.10 – San Francisco CA at Bottom of the Hill (w/ Sandwitches)
08.19.10 – Los Angeles CA at Spaceland (w/ the Meeks, Animal Style)
08.20.10 – San Diego CA at Casbah (w/ Crocodiles)
08.22.10 – Phoenix AZ at Rhythm Room
08.24.10 – Albuquerque NM at Launchpad
08.25.10 – Lubbock TX at Bash Riprock’s
09.28.10 – Austin TX at Stubb’s Waller Creek (w/ Pavement)
10.14.10 – New Orleans LA at Circle Bar
10.15.10 – Birmingham AL at the Bottletree (w/ Coathangers)
10.16.10 – Atlanta GA at the Earl (w/ Coathangers)
10.17.10 – Asheville NC at Broadway’s (w/ Coathangers)
10.18.10 – Chapel Hill NC at Local 506 (w/ Frankie Rose and the Outs)
10.19.10 – Baltimore MD at the Ottobar (w/ Frankie Rose and the Outs)
10.20.10 – Philadelphia PA at Kungfu Necktie (w/ Frankie Rose and the Outs)
10.24.10 – Cambridge MA at TT the Bear’s Place (w/ Frankie Rose and the Outs)
10.26.10 – Rochester NY at Bug Jar (w/ Frankie Rose and the Outs)
10.27.10 – Cleveland OH at the Spot (w/ Frankie Rose and the Outs)
10.28.10 – Chicago IL at Empty Bottle (w/ Frankie Rose and the Outs)
10.29.10 – Madison WI at the Frequency
10.30.10 – Minneapolis MN at 7th St. Entry
10.31.10 – Fargo ND at the Aquarium
11.02.10 – Iowa City IA at the Mill
11.03.10 – Lawrence KS at Jackpot Saloon
11.06.10 – Austin TX at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Jaill

If you found credibility in the attempted New Wave dance rock persona of The Killers, Jaill may make you reconsider your position. Sub Pop’s Jaill just released their debut album, That’s How We Burn and its two singles, “The Stroller” and “Everyone’s Hip” are based in a friendly variety of guitar-immersed indie rock/post-punk. Nothing particularly new about this, but Jaill is catchy and infectious in a melodic manner of speaking. “The Stroller” in particular owes a good amount to Joy Division’s “A Means To An End.”

”The Stroller”

”Everyone’s Hip”

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Swahili Blonde

Musician Nicole Turley’s Swahili Blonde had to have been helped along by a healthy, (or unhealthy), consumption of psychotropic chemicals and Diet Coke. If it wasn’t, then Turley gets some credit for bringing Studio 54 and CBGBs to Woodstock, because this is one of the strangest combinations of dub-immersed post-punk and world-tinged dance music I’ve heard. Man Meat, the first album from Swahili Blonde, will be out via Manimal Vinyl on August 3rd and features the groovy “Le Mampatee” (video) and keyboard-percussive “Elixor Fixor” (audio).

SWAHILI BLONDE - LE MAMPATEE from Burke Roberts on Vimeo.

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Station To (Huge) Station: Bowie’s “Thin White Duke” Is Expanded...

The first David Bowie album I ever bought was a used copy of Station To Station, its edges lovingly sealed with Scotch tape, yellow with age, Bowie’s black and white outward gaze fading. I liked the simplicity of the album’s appearance; red type on white, capitalized and bold, the words running into each other. The package did more than suggest that the album would crackle and fizz like a Pop Rock once I dropped the needle, but I wanted to hear it.

Since then, Station To Station is gospel I’ve had no trouble preaching. Aware of the awesome that is Bowie’s tale of “The Thin White Duke” and the influential nose candy that courses through his soul, EMI is delivering a very expanded version of the album.

Via EMI Press Release (and it's a lot to take in):








Hollywood, California – July 9, 2010 – Virgin/EMI is pleased to announce September 28 as the North American release date for David Bowie’s hugely influential 1976 album,
Station To Station, in two expanded packages: a 3CD and digital Special Edition and a limited edition 5CD, DVD (Audio) and three 180gram vinyl LP Deluxe Edition. Both new editions include the original album, remastered from the analogue master, and the much-bootlegged, but previously unreleased concert favorite, Live Nassau Coliseum ’76, as well as new liner notes by Cameron Crowe. As exclusively announced by BowieNet (, September 20 has been confirmed as the European release date.

The 3CD Special Edition features the remastered original studio album on disc one, plus
Live Nassau Coliseum ’76 on discs two and three. Packaged in a lift-top box, the set also includes a 16-page booklet and three David Bowie postcards. The Special Edition will also be available for digital download purchase with an exclusive bonus track, “Panic In Detroit” (unedited alt. mix), from the recordings for Live Nassau Coliseum ’76.

The Deluxe Edition is the ultimate experience, featuring extensive additional content:
• A 24-page booklet, including:
- *NEVER SEEN BEFORE Steve Schapiro photo
- *Geoff MacCormack photos
- *Andrew Kent live Nassau photos
- *Extensive memorabilia from the archives
- CD:
Station To Station – RCA CD Master
- CD: 5-track
Singles Versions EP including a previously unreleased version of "Station To Station," and for first time on CD, "Word On A Wing"
- 3 x 12” heavyweight vinyl (see page 3 for details)
- DVD Audio (see page 2 for details)
- 6 panel folded poster – Steve Schapiro photo
- Onstage folder
- Replica Backstage pass, 97 x 67 mm, fabric with adhesive back
- Replica Biog, A4-size
- Replica Ticket on art paper matt
- 3x10x8” press shots
- Replica Fan club folder
- Replica Fan Club Membership card, 60 x 90 mm
- Fan club certificate, 195 x 255 mm, 4/0clr, 200 gsm art paper matt
- 2 small Collectors cards
- 2 A4-size photo prints
- Replica 4-page biography
- 2 x badges

*Along with the 5-CDs, it’s all housed in a foam-packed box, 325x325x50mm.

Digital release: The 3-CD set is also available as a Digital download.

Track listings:

Special Edition & Digital Download

CD 1:
Station To Station (original analogue master)
1. Station To Station (10.11)
2. Golden Years (4.02)
3. Word On A Wing (6.01)
4. TVC15 (5.31)
5. Stay (6.12)
6. Wild Is The Wind (6.02)

CD 2:
Live Nassau Coliseum '76 - PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
(Recorded live at the Nassau Coliseum Uniondale, NY, USA March 23, 1976):
1. Station To Station (11.53)
2. Suffragette City (3.31)
3. Fame (4.02)
4. Word On A Wing (6.06)
5. Stay (7.25)
6. Waiting For The Man (6.20)
7. Queen Bitch (3.12)

CD 3:
Nassau Coliseum concert continued… PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
1. Life On Mars? (2.13)
2. Five Years (5.03)
3. Panic In Detroit (6.03)
4. Changes (4.11)
5. TVC15 (4.58)
6. Diamond Dogs (6.38)
7. Rebel Rebel (4.07)
8. The Jean Genie (7.28)

Super Deluxe Limited Edition

CD 1:
Station To Station (original analogue master) – track listing same as above.

CD 2:
Station To Station (1985 RCA CD master) – track listing same as above.

CD 3:
Singles Versions E.P. *(see below for further info)
1. Golden Years
2. TVC15
3. Stay
4. Word On A Wing (first time on CD)

CD 4:
Live Nassau Coliseum '76 - PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED (track listing same as above)

CD 5:
Nassau Coliseum concert continued… PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

DVD: Audio:
Station To Station (original analogue master, 48/24 LPCM stereo)
Station To Station (5.1 surround sound DTS 48/24 and dolby digital)
Station To Station (new stereo mix 48/24 LPCM stereo)

LP 1:
Station To Station (original analogue master)
Side 1:
1. Station To Station (10.11)
2. Golden Years (4.02)
3. Word On A Wing (6.01)

Side 2:
1. TVC15 (5.31)
2. Stay (6.12)
3. Wild Is The Wind (6.02)

LP 2:
Live Nassau Coliseum '76 PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
(Recorded live at the Nassau Coliseum Uniondale, NY, USA March 23, 1976)
Side 1:
1. Station To Station (11.53)
2. Suffragette City (3.31)
3. Fame (4.02)

Side 2:
1. Word On A Wing (6.06)
2. Stay (7.25)
3. Waiting For The Man (6.20)
4. Queen Bitch (3.12)

LP 3:
Nassau Coliseum concert continued… PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Side 3:
1. Life On Mars? (2.13)
2. Five Years (5.03)
3. Panic In Detroit (6.03)
4. Changes (4.11)
5. TVC15 (4.58)

Side 4:
1. Diamond Dogs (6.38)
2. Rebel Rebel (4.07)
3. The Jean Genie (7.28)

*CD 3: Singles Versions E.P.

1. Golden Years
The first single released from the album
Station To Station, it was released in edited form in November 1975 (RCA 2640), appearing the following year in full-length on the album.

2. TVC15
Released in edited form as the second single from
Station To Station (RCA 2682) in April 1976. The single peaked on the singles charts at number 33 in the UK and number 64 in the U.S.

3. Stay
This edit was released as the third single from
Station To Station in the US (RCA PB 10736) in July 1976 and several other countries outside the UK.

4. Word On A Wing
Appearing on the reverse of the original
Stay single (RCA PB 10736) in July 1976, this particular edit is making its official debut here on CD.

5. Station To Station
This is an extremely edited version (down from 10 minutes 13 seconds) appeared on a very rare French factory single sample (RCA 42549) in 1976. This edit eliminates the entire first part of the song. This marks its first official release.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fugazi: An Archive and Subsequent Kick of Nostalgia

Through Exploding In Sound, I found an article on Pitchfork about Fugazi’s developing archive of live music, which may be available by the end of 2010. This is in addition to the volumes of live shows available at Dischord Records. I’m very excited to find out if the show I attended in 1995 made the cut.

Photo by Jem Cohen

And, of course, whenever I read any news of Fugazi, I basically launch myself into an all day listening party. I managed to get through End Hits, the Furniture EP and In On The Kill Taker today, and am about halfway through the underrated Instrument soundtrack. I know I’ve established my love of this band on more than a handful of occasions, but Fugazi is as essential to a record collection as anything Dylan, Sabbath, Zeppelin or Stones related and, for whatever weak links those bands were unfortunate enough to offer the world, Fugazi’s output is nearly perfect. Debate that all you want; you’re wrong.

Actually found a live clip from ‘95

Particularly into this track at the moment

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Daytrotter Sessions: Quasi & Liars

7.15.10: Indie garage rockers Quasi threw down a couple tracks from their recently released album, American Gong, for Daytrotter last week. I posted the first song, “Repulsion,” back in January, and the session version still carries the same loud resignation or Stooges flavored discontent.

Most impressive is “White Horse,” which may now be one of my favorite songs of the year. I like the line, “If it’s not too loud, then you’re not to old,” especially as the song progresses into louder, more energetic garage phrasing.

You can find the session here.

7.19.10: If you haven’t heard LiarsSisterworld yet, what the fuck are you doing reading this? Please find a record store and pick up a copy, it’s one of the year’s best albums: perfectly paranoid and sonically understated. Liars do enjoy their lapses into No Wave-inspired mayhem, but there’s an obsessive and compulsive disposition lurking behind every song, creepily airing out frustrations and observations.

Admittedly, though, I wasn’t too thrilled with the quality of “Scarecrows On A Killer Slant,” its spastic aggression sort of lacking on this version.

You can find the session here.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, July 19, 2010

7.17.67: Coltrane on Harmony In My Head

Saturday, July 17th, marked 43 years since John Coltrane’s life was cut short by liver cancer at the age of 40. Paying tribute to the man who “might be my single favorite musician besides maybe Ian MacKaye or Jimi Hendrix,” Henry Rollins took the opportunity to devote an entire episode of his Harmony In My Head radio show to Coltrane.

The broadcast can be downloaded at the Harmony In My Head archive site, or check it out at KCRW.

Via Rollins’ broadcast notes:


Fanatics! Tonight is a very cool show. It’s all Coltrane, all night. On July 17, 1967, John Coltrane, a Jazz giant, passed away at age 40. It would be perhaps a little brighter occasion if this was Coltrane’s birthday. I couldn’t let this opportunity to pay tribute and homage not only to the man and his greatness but to his amazing bands. The Classic Quartet of Elvin Jones on drums, Jimmy Garrison on bass and McCoy Tyner on piano. Also, we are going to listen to Coltrane’s later line up of Jimmy Garrison on bass, Rashied Ali on drums and Alice Coltrane on piano.

In a mere two hours, we cannot hope to possibly do more than barely acquaint ourselves with Coltrane’s massive body of work. Tonight, we are only listening to Coltrane’s Impulse label era. We’re not tapping his amazing Atlantic recordings, any of the ones he made with Miles Davis, or his early solo work on Prestige.

Just my opinion, I think that Coltrane reached his greatest strength when he met up with producer Bob Thiele and Impulse. The Classic Quartet is one of the greatest examples of the sum of the parts being more than the individuals. All of them on their own are amazing but together, forget about it. What a band! Check out Elvin Jones, what a monster player. I don’t think there was a better match up for Coltrane at that time of his development than the Tyner/Jones/Garrison machine with him.

Listen to how completely these musicians invest in each track. It is total commitment every second. After
My Favorite Things or Impressions, you can’t believe the band is still standing to hear the applause!

We have a treat here with Johnny Hartman singing the great Billy Strayhorn classic Lush Life with the Quartet on track six tonight and on track seven, we have Roy Hanes sitting in place of Elvin Jones.

I know that many if not almost all of you Fanatics are into the Coltrane. If you have not waded into the big man’s catalog, I would recommend you check out any of the albums that you liked the track from tonight. They are all easy to find on CD, many on LP and also on the i-Tunes.

I always thought Coltrane was plugged into some very direct current, some human mainline, like Jimi Hendrix or Charlie Parker. Like Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane is one of those huge musicians in my listening. I hope you go far and deep into Coltrane’s music. It’s worth every minute you spend.

Like I said, it’s a little heavy to acknowledge someone on the day they died as a way to celebrate their music but the date was too great a chance to pass up.

Next week, it will be a great mix of things new old and otherwise. I got in a lot of new jams and Engineer X loaned me some very cool stuff that we will no doubt include. I will start working on the show over the weekend. I hope you enjoy another one of our Jazz Juggernauts. I leave you in the very capable hands of John Coltrane and his incredible bandmates. Have a great listen and STAY FANATIC!!! --Henry

01. My Favorite Things (1965 vers.) / Coltrane At Newport Jazz
02. Impressions / Village Vanguard
03. One Down, One Up / Classic Quartet Complete Impulse Studio Recordings
04. Part II - Resolution / A Love Supreme
05. Chim Chim Cheree / Quartet Plays
06. Lush Life / Coltrane & Hartman
07. After The Rain / Impressions
08. Welcome / Kulu Se Mama
09. Tranesonic / Stellar Regions
10. Expression / Expression

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boredoms: 77 Boa Drum

Thrill Jockey just released a trailer for the upcoming 77 Boa Drum DVD, the large scale 77 drum performance piece by the Boredoms. Give it a look.

77 BOA DRUM trailer from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunn O))) + Boris = ALTAR (and, BXI is playing, too)

You have to love concert events that make you question your residence. For this, it would be cool to live in New York City.

Via Earsplit:

NYC Performance of ALTAR And BXI Announced

Southern Lord today announces a rare New York City concert featuring label artists ALTAR and BXI, in conjunction with All Tomorrow's Parties and The Blackened Music Series!

ALTAR is a collaboration between SUNN O))) and BORIS that is a result of both bands conceptualizing, writing and recording together as one entity. There are elements of each group's trademark sound but true to each group's progressive and experimental aspects, ALTAR moves into a completely new dimension. This is the first NYC performance of ALTAR.

BXI is the collaboration between BORIS and Ian Astbury (The Cult). Southern Lord will release the debut recordings by this group in August 2010. This finely-crafted four-song release, simply entitled
BXI, was tracked and mixed in Tokyo in late April. Astburys' iconic vocals are a perfect match for BORIS’s raw and emotive songwriting style. This is a very special and rare U.S. performance of BXI!

Listen closely to Jesse Sykes's stark descriptions of isolation, sometimes-swaggering toughness, fragile human emotion, and the possibilities of love, and you'll hear something that perfectly, tenderly, and surprisingly captures the feel of the 21st century so far.

- - - - - - - -
All Tomorrow's Parties and The Blackened Music Series Presents:

SUNN O))) and BORIS Present ALTAR
with special guests
Jesse Sykes And The Sweet Hereafter

September 7th 2010
@ The Brooklyn Masonic Temple
317 Clermont Avenue at Lafayette
"The Loudest Room in New York"

Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: CocoRosie

Grey Oceans
Sub Pop
Released: 5.11.10

No Ripcord review

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

David Yow: From Stage to Gallery

Via Speakeasy PR:

David Yow, The Jesus Lizard/Scratch Acid front man, Unveils First Collection of Artwork At Echo Park's DIY Gallery on Aug. 14

LOS ANGELES, July 7 -- David Yow, legendary front man for The Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid, makes his art exhibition debut with
SOLO: the first ever one-man exhibition of paintings, collage and digital drawings by David Yow running Aug. 14 to Sept. 11 at DIY Gallery in Echo Park, Calif. The opening reception for SOLO, with Yow on hand as well as a celebratory evening featuring music and drinks, is Aug. 14 from 7:00 to 11:00 pm.

The works created for this show are rooted in Yow’s personal and psychological history, and feature a broad spectrum of mediums. From acrylic, pencil, charcoal, crayon, hair, bugs, collage, and tar on wood, to line drawings digitally combined with photographic textures, Yow reveals an uncommon artistic perspective.

In addition to original works for sale, DIY is offering signed prints of Yow’s poster for an August 2010 Queens of the Stone Age / Eagles of Death Metal fundraising concert for bassist Brian O’Connor, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. All proceeds from poster sales will go directly to Brian’s medical fund.

David Yow Biography

The son of a fighter pilot, David Yow spent his prepubescent years moving from continent to continent with his family, eventually landing stateside in Austin, TX. After dragging ass through high school, but excelling in art classes, he attended Southwest Texas State University. Aiming at a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Yow got heavily into painting and drawing, mostly on paper or Bristol board. He was particularly influenced by his mentor, friend, and teacher, Mark Todd, as well as people like Hockney and Rauschenberg. Almost three years into his higher education, punk rock tore young David away, and he forsook visual art, with the exception of making disgusting fliers for punk shows. Starting in 1982, Yow sang for the seminal post-punk band, Scratch Acid, and later earned notoriety as “unhinged” lyricist and front man for The Jesus Lizard… all the while designing album covers and products related to his bands. In the ‘90s, Photoshop became another passion of Yow’s, and he launched a successful career as a photo-retoucher for print advertising and key art. During the last few years, he has increasingly put brush to canvas and poked around with other visual media. Now, he is creating mixed media paintings as large as 6’ x 8’, reminiscent of the work did in school. He has also been digitally combining his line drawings with photographic textures to produce imagery that lies somewhere between photo-realism and cartoon.

"Pus" by David Yow

Opening Reception
Saturday August 14, 2010 from 7pm-11pm.
Exhibition continues through September 11, with a special event TBA for closing night.

DIY Gallery
1549 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tues-Saturday 12pm-6pm

Open to the public
All ages welcome

For more information regarding Yow Art:!/profile.php?id=1767782128

For more information about DIY Gallery go to:

Last year, Touch & Go Records reissued The Jesus Lizard's Pure, Head, Goat, Liar and Down. Reviews can be found at No Ripcord.

Letters From A Tapehead

Kicking Against The Pricks: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Roky Erickson & Okkervil River

About a month ago, I was asked to contribute reviews for Kicking Against The Pricks, which is an online music source billed as "the premise of a magazine in the form of a website."

Issue #1 is up for perusal:

I contributed reviews for the following:

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Before Today

Kicking Against The Pricks review

You should take a minute to check out "Round And Round" from Before Today.

Also, Ariel Pink and Co. will be touring with The Flaming Lips, Puro Instinct and Magic Kids.

Via Force Field PR:

12-Jul Portland, OR Doug Fir #
13-Jul Seattle, WA Neumo's #
14-Jul Vancouver, BC Biltmore #
16-Jul Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge #
17-Jul Denver, CO Bluebird #
19-Jul Minneapolis, MN Entry #
20-Jul Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall #
21-Jul Detroit, MI Pike Room #
22-Jul Toronto, ONT Mod Club #
23-Jul Montreal, PQ La Sala Rosa #
24-Jul New York, NY The Fillmore / Irving Plaza #
25-Jul Boston, MA Middle East #
27-Jul Philadelphia, PA JB's #
28-Jul Washington, DC Rock N Roll Hotel #
29-Jul Chapel Hill, NC Local 506 #
30-Jul Atlanta, GA Earl #
31-Jul Birmingham, AL Bottle Tree #
02-Aug Denton, TX Hailey's #
03-Aug Austin, TX Mohawk #
05-Aug Tucson, AZ Plush #
06-Aug San Diego, CA Casbah #
07-Aug Costa Mesa, CA Detroit Bar #
04-Sept Los Angeles, CA FYF Fest
11-Sept Pomona, CA Glasshouse
12-Sept Tucson, AZ Club Congress
14-Sept Lubbock, TX Foundation Room
15-Sept Norman, OK Opolis
16-Sept Lawrence, KS Jackpot
17-Sept St. Louis, MO Pageant *
18-Sept Columbia, MO Blue Note *
19-Sept St. Paul, MN Roy Wilkins Auditorium *
20-Sept Fargo, ND Aquarium
21-Sept Winnipeg, MAN Burton Coummings *
23-Sept Calgary, ALB University of Calgary *
24-Sept Edmonton, ALB Events Center *
25-Sept Victoria, BC Rifflandia Festival
26-Sept Vancouver, BC Malkin Bowl *
27-Sept Seattle, WA Paramount Theater *
29-Sept Eugene, OR McDonald Theater *
01-Oct Oakland, CA Fox Theater *

# = w/ Puro Instinct & Magic Kids
* = w/ The Flaming Lips

Roky Erickson & Okkervil River
True Love Cast Out All Evil

Kicking Against The Pricks review

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, July 11, 2010

On Their Shift Too Long: Fables of the Reconstruction 25 Years Later…

Fables of the Reconstruction (25th Anniversary Edition)
Originally released: 6.10.85
Released: 7.13.10

R.E.M. has hit that mark where their albums are becoming classics and thusly those albums warrant the re-mastered/reissued/reintroduced cycle experienced once the celebrated milestone years are reached. It seems then that record labels realize what they have and the marketing potential they can exploit. For R.E.M., the magic number is “25” and those avid fans of college radio, when Murmur and Reckoning were their steady diet between exams and keggers, will undoubtedly grab hold of these newly minted gems as manipulated and welcomed nostalgia takes hold.

Both Murmur and Reckoning had their respective 25th birthdays recognized in 2008 and 2009 and now 1985’s Fables of the Reconstruction gets to blow out the candles in 2010.

Packaged in a thick flip-top box, the new Fables is accompanied by a pretty comprehensive demo disc dubbed, “The Athens Demos.” There are also liner notes by guitarist Peter Buck, four square photo cards of the band members and a large foldout poster. It’s a rather ornate set for what could be considered a quiet release.

In his liner notes, Peter Buck states the following: “For some reason, people have the impression that the members of R.E.M. don’t like the record. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

To hear Fables, and to realize that very little the band has churned out since sounds much like it, one can appreciate why that impression could’ve come about. Buck does go on to say that the band was fatigued mentally and physically after having toured nonstop for four years. And, they were suffering through a winter in London, geared up to record an album with songs that were mostly unfinished.

For their previous two albums, R.E.M. had worked with producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon. Signaling a new creative stride, the band chose Joe Boyd, (Nick Drake, Fairport Convention), to produce Fables. Within the album’s first three glassy guitar notes, Buck’s introduction to “Feeling Gravity’s Pull,” a precedent for tension is set that experiences a couple moments of relaxation (“Can’t Get There From Here,” “Life And How To Live It”), but remains a reliable determinate for the album’s mood. “Maps and Legends” only follows with a slower and slightly more morose disposition, albeit with a beautiful guitar melody. Michael Stipe, sad or not, sounds natural here as he comes up with one of his more engaging vocals.

“Driver 8,” with Buck essentially writing a version of the riff that would make Document’s “The One I Love” so captivating, was an obvious selection for a single. Its tempo punchy, its hook memorable, “Driver 8” is one of the album’s lighter moments, (“…we can reach our destination…”), though aware of futility and the ease of hopelessness, (“…but we’re still a ways away…”). For a single, “Driver 8” is clad in isolation and atypically honest as an assessment of the full album. Usually a singles market is based on how a song sounds on the radio; plays on video or seeps into the youth’s collective consciousness to generate revenue. “Driver 8” is one of the most upbeat downers of a single I’ve ever heard, even in a post-90s climate when misery and alienation were all the rage and “Shiny Happy People” seemed to go against the grain.

Similar to “Driver 8” is “Auctioneer (Another Engine)” which also bases itself in this notion of escape and the futility of effort. Narrative and fast-paced, “Auctioneer” carries upbeat declaratives into melancholy hooks, (“Listen (listen) to the auctioneer, another engine, another engine…”).

A single based more in the traditional sense, “Can’t Get There From Here,” has a big band kick, zippy bass line and radio-friendly energy. The song does breakaway from Fables’ drear, though Stipe’s delivery almost comes off as resignation. His tone works, though: the band’s instance of enthusiasm mostly allocated to the music. Also taking more of a speedy tone, “Life and How To Live It” embraces a familiar side of R.E.M., a “Radio Free Europe” aim and heightened groove at its forefront.

But Fables of the Reconstruction, even in an attempt to vary up its tone, delivers “Old Man Kensey,” which is one of its more memorable and darkest offerings. “Old Man Kensey” is delivered as a list of ambitions; his obstacles and what is ultimately real, countering what the man wants do with why he can’t do it and what he has to do instead. As a narrative, whether it’s to be taken literally or not, it’s a pretty brilliant song, Mike Mills’ subtle background vocal only adding to the character’s heartache.

In a lot of instances the addition of outtakes and extras seems to serve as filler for commemorative sets like Fables,’ the type of material that rarely outdoes the final product, is sometimes un-listenable and seems to maybe stimulate interest enough for one spin before CD #2 stays housed in its jewel case, only to see the light of day when CD #1 is being pulled.

“The Athens Demos,” though, serves as a somewhat unique accompaniment to the album, almost necessary to Fables’ formation. Hearing drummer Bill Berry expand on the tension of “Feeling Gravity’s Pull” with additional percussion almost drives the song to a darker and more frustrating place. I almost like this version better than the keeper. I feel the same way about the demo’d “Green Grow The Rushes Grow,” where Stipe seems more involved vocally, and “Kohoutek” which also seems to benefit from Berry’s unfiltered intervention. His drums are consistently stronger on the demo mixes.

The other points of interest “The Athens Demos” CD hosts are a couple rarities, most notable of which is “Throw Those Trolls Away,” which up to this point has never seen the light of day. Other goodies are the demo version of “Bandwagon,” which was the B-side to “Can’t Get There From Here,” and “Hyena,” whose finalized self found a spot on Life’s Rich Pageant.

Realizing that simply being 25 years old doesn’t always garner acknowledgement, respect or the honor of commemoration, while also realizing that Fables of the Reconstruction probably wasn’t that big of a deal when it first released, I’m happy that this album, out of any R.E.M. release, fits the bill. People don’t always get it right the first time and I think when a diversion has been made by a band that (in this case) evolved from their turmoil, it’s easy enough to miss the point or suffer from a lack of understanding that hindsight always seems to fix.

R.E.M. deserves the credit they get, especially for their earliest contributions to indie music. But the emotional investment paid in this instance stands out, not so much to diminish the quality of their other albums, but definitely to prop this one up as revelatory and specific to this moment in the band’s history. If Fables of the Reconstruction should be acknowledged for any reason at all other than its years, it should be acknowledged as the time R.E.M. tried “malfunction” on for size. Once the album was finished, they tried on something else.

Letters From A Tapehead

Haitus Catch Up (Part 2): Noun, Sweet Apple, Trumans Water...

Tuesday, (July 5th), New Brunswick record label Don Giovanni released Holy Hell, a solo album Screaming Female Marissa Paternoster. Going by the name Noun, Paternoster’s output is an interesting cross-section of Joan Jett and PJ Harvey, vocal strength meeting rock n’ roll passion that sounds more alienated than rebellious. “Brother” is carried by fuzz and thud, both severe and captivating, while “Holy Hell” rages a little more, soft moments blowing up into clamoring Pixies bursts of guitar and cymbal.


”Holy Hell”


Sweet Apple is a J Mascis side-project that should be dubbed, The Jimi Zeppelin Thin Lizzy Experience. Their new album, Love & Desperation, is a complete culmination of everything that was arena-worthy in the 70s and seemed seminal in the late 60s. They even copped their album cover from Roxy Music.

Their song, “Do You Remember,” is being included on a compilation that Elijah Wood is heading up. Information can be found below.

Via Tee Pee Records:

Sweet Apple have announced live dates on July 9th in Cleveland (Grog Shop) and July 10th in Chicago (Abbey Pub). Sweet Apple will also be appearing on the Elijah Wood curated comp Elysium: A Benefit For The Art Of Elysium. Read the story on the comp at PITCHFORK.


Via Terrorbird Media & Asthmatic Kitty:

Ah, America -- she loves a comeback, she does. Even the hint of its possibility tantalizes. Plays so well in Peoria (and elsewhere). Is it part of the USA's national character to welcome back its own to any notable prominence, to celebrate a reclamation earned through reassertion, revivifying accomplishment -- or retrospective reassessment?

Trumans Water never really went away. Scarce in their native land, yes -- that, indeed, the veteran American "spazz-rock"/"squiggle-core" group has been in recent years. (Increasingly more obscure as well, relatively unknown to untold pods of younger blog-rockin' folk -- sharp-eared discerners, who might well luv TW were they to know TW -- if still deemed "legendary" by those who, a) remember Trumans' halcyon days in America's early/mid-'90s "guitar-rock" underground; b) recall the life-altering praise from abroad, with the late great all-time tip-top good-taste-making radio DJ John Peel championing them over international airwaves, and the Melody Maker making this pithy 1993 assessment:
"Sonic freaks with a lust for life, Trumans Water make Pavement sound like U2." Hear, hear? Not bad -- but your call.)

For over a dozen years, the Water's arguably been more of a foreign affair, with releases on European labels, touring almost exclusively "over there" yet consistently recording stateside. But enough with the history (for now). Because the rock o' Trumans Water lives in the present. Their new album
O Zeta Zunis sounds remarkably fresh if also in keeping with a fistful of enduring collective aesthetic TW identities: the ever-active, wildly clawing, rough-toned brace of guitars; the sour-sweet sing-shout screech-croon 'n' power-yowl; the explosive rhythms, herking here and jerking there, none too predictable anywhere.

O Zeta Zunis may be Trumans Water's studio album-proper #13 -- or not, if ya count such various full-length Trumans cassette releases as Couch of the Spastics on Chocolate Monk or Cough Forth Such Dilemmas on Union Pole. Whatev. It certainly is their first new album since 2003 and, so importantly, it is coming out in these United States (and elsewhere) on Asthmatic Kitty Records. (The label will offer quality downloads; the band will put out a limited number of vinyl copies on their Justice My Eye/Elevated Loin imprint.) AKR will be their first truly stable domestic label home of the new millennium. (What's more, Asthmatic Kitty is planning to catch up any interested parties in coming months by digitally re-releasing elusive albums of the Trumans Water discography.).

O Zeta Zunis is a cohesive foursome ripping confidently, a few slowed-up passages helping to accentuate the melodic riff-drive of "Last Time" or the balls-out whizz-bang of "Greased Water," the twitchy-catchy frolic of "5-7-10 Split" or the rubbery buzz-chug of "You Live Out Loud." Nice. There're loping jams and snappy sputter-blasts as well. Essence of Trumans. And, as detailed, O Zeta Zunis brings the Water back to the United States -- in some literal ways that've not been seen in over a dozen years. (Along with playing Europe, TW plan to do some actual North American touring to support this/other Asthmatic Kitty product.) Yeah, Trumans Water -- those friendly fellows are of the world but they're America's and they never left so won't you please welcome them back?

Trumans Water: the band history retains mystery. That's a telling achievement here in the 21st Century's second decade. L'information ain't what it used to be. Curriculum vitae; elusive back-story; shadowy career arc; hard-won cumulative 'n' contextualizing data: specify, Google it -- just a Wiki click away, eh?

Even TW's maddeningly scattered discography can be had. Notably, said list includes three Peel Sessions -- as in, live sets done/recorded/broadcast in/from London at the behest of the great BBC deejay John Peel, a name that is key to Trumans' tale. It was the beloved rock-era-spanning Peelie (1939-2004, RIP) who plucked TW's self-released '92 debut LP
Of Thick Tum off a pile ... That engaging disc -- 300 pressed, "issued" by band in recycled album jackets; each faintly spray-painted-over and lovingly hand-crayoned back at Brockbank, TW's legendary ancestral home in San Diego -- was, at first, semi-randomly tracked by Peel on his influential show, aired worldwide. He loved it, expressing same via more talk/more rock: raved, phoned said band-house in SoCal live on-air for nascent group details from charmingly unaware residents -- so très après 'net, non? -- and, wow, played the entire rec ... and so on.

Many older Trumans fans know this story. And to this day, owing to Peel from way back and ongoing reliable Euro-good-taste tendencies, the Water is way bigger in the British Isles and on the Continent than stateside. They've not been on any American label in years, micro-indie or otherwise. So it's major that US indie Asthmatic Kitty is releasing Trumans Water's new album
O Zeta Zunis back home in the USA. And, amidst swelling cheers, AK will also digitally present much of TW's rich back-catalog.

Nonetheless, there are still telling names connected to the history of Trumans Water that may not signify to even the most devoted Water devotees, much less new acquaintances. Seek out/etc., and ye may find/perceive yer own non-linear narrative ...

Oh, Thurston Moore, sure, already a known quantity: early fan of Trumans (who indeed got some then-correct comparisons to "early mid-period Sonic Youth" in those heady early-mid '90s). He actually contributed to the 1995 Trumans alb
Milktrain to Paydirt. But what about Santee, CA mechanic Thurman Swanner? (And don't think you got it figured out just cuz you know that young Santee sportsman Stephen Strasburg also went to SDSU as did TW's Branstetter brothers [fierce ballers, Kirk 'n' Kevin B., BTW -- recollection indicates Team Water tanned Polvo's hide in hoops back 'n the day].)

Beck? Check. Big fan. Got Trumans off the road in Europe to come open for him while mega-touring during his breakthrough/how-ya-doin'-America "Loser"/
Mellow Gold era -- and what's more, would himself cover TW's epic "Aroma of Gina Arnold" (a Spasm Smash goldie), enlisting sundry Trumans-men to assist on stage.

Azalia Snail? Don't say you don't -- you kinda should. ("American avant-garde singer-songwriter ...[1] ...psych folk and indie rock [2] ...the 1990s lo-fi music scene ...[3] ... dubbed the "Queen of lo-fi ..." -- now, was that so hard?) She and Trumans Water (and Supreme Dicks-ter Daniel Oxenberg) did a sui generis fab free-form-y rock/out album that, um, is, let's say, less a trib to a famous Argie tango pianist (lo siento, Atilio) and more a nod to a certain Osmotic Tongue Pressure-championing scribe ...

And, well-well-well, how about that enduringly, awesomely enigmatic "69-year-old drummer [surely now in his 80s] Andres Malinao"? Still in the mix 15-yrs-+ down the road!

Yes, all this and more awaits, to a soundtrack of inspired Trumans Water guitar-strangle -- and nary a misplaced possessive apostrophe, merci v. much.

--David R. Stampone

The songs "5-7-10 Split" and "We Fish" are available through Stereogum.

Letters From A Tapehead

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Helmet: I Know

Inasmuch as I can understand and appreciate the "phasing out" of a format, the CD's passing isn't going to happen overnight. With new albums, I do see the need to begin establishing the options: the MP3 in all its lame (albeit portable) permutations and vinyl for the rest of us that give a shit about what we're listening to. I don't agree that ridding the world of CDs is the best thing, but it's difficult to argue with the "green" movement. It's plastics: a lot of which has had the misfortune of forever carrying timely, disposable music. But, unlike the sounds that we can forget if we choose to, these wasted albums are forever heaped in landfills. For the sake of the environment, maybe it is better the CD disappear.

However, in terms of reissues, I can't fathom the idea of forgoing a physical option as these albums, which are sacred to some of us, once had shape and presence.

Helmet reissued their third album, 1994's Betty, as a digital-only release with some extras. As an album that shaped a portion of my teenage years, the idea of Betty's "reissuing" in this way is lazy and sort of annoying, a rather complacent rehash of a fairly underrated and important album of the 90s.

Its primal mathematics and metallic jazz, admittedly, sowed the seeds of what was later to become a rather bleak era for music in the late nineties, accessible nü-meddle whose hype even caught my attention and admiration for a few years before I learned better. But, Helmet had a unique style that these band's couldn't match, an off-beat candor that was rhythmically chaotic though calculatedly honest and direct. Even with lyrics as nonsensical as Page Hamilton's, the severity of the music, (Henry Bogdan's thick serpentine of bass rhythm and especially John Stanier's kick drum), was enough to excuse all of that.

Betty was the follow-up to its predecessor, Meantime, whose success came about thanks to the music industry's need to find the next Nirvana. As the need for the next big thing catapulted Helmet to some level of prominence, it also became a cross to the bear in the new millennium. Their sound had essentially been hijacked and diluted by all the Linkin Parks and Puddle of Mudds and the other various copycats and nü metal sweeteners, so 2004's comeback album, Size Matters, seemed another spoke in the nü cycle, the victim of a heavily played out idea of how "loud" was supposed to sound. Their follow up, 2006's Monochrome, improved things, though, so I have hopes that this year's Seeing Eye Dog will continue an upward shift for Hamilton and Co.

For now though, Betty is one of those life-altering moments in time that will forever seem visceral to me, a moment deserving of more than an online tossed salad of songs that won't benefit from a compressed sound format. The hook for me was "I Know," an annihilating series of notes that bolstered the band's rep in my mind and solidified my admiration for them seconds into the track. I always get hyped up with this song, especially with that midway onslaught of attack between guitarist Rob Echeverria (who later defected to Biohazard), Bodgan and Stanier while Hamilton choked lengthy exhalations from his frets, making his guitar almost sing under extreme duress.

Aside from Hamilton, not the real players. And, you can tell

Come on, guys, how about a real reissue? Have some fucking respect. This stuff still matters to some of us and I don't necessarily feel we deserve to have our cherished relics devalued just because the Internet gives you the option.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, July 09, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Letting Up Despite Great Faults

The unsigned Letting Up Despite Great Faults have been garnering a lot of positive press in regards to their self-titled debut album which came out last year. I caught wind of the band thanks to their management label, who signed the band in June and sent me a link to this video for their song, “Our Younger Noise.”

The video’s entertaining and full of that necessary hipster scenario whimsy that one needs to appease their intended audience, but the song itself is a pleasantly mellow combination of Kevin Shields and Phoenix, poppy and tenderly infused with light doses of electricity.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hiatus Catch Up (Part 1): Frankie Rose, Boredoms...

Coming off the release of the Dum Dum GirlsI Will Be, drummer Frankie Rose (also a former Vivian Girl and Crystal Stilt) is releasing the self-titled debut of her newest vehicle, Frankie Rose and the Outs. The first single from her upcoming release, “Little Brown Haired Girls,” is what you’ve come to expect from Rose, Spector-ized 60s girl groove with garage punch.

”Little Brown Haired Girls”

The album will be out September 21st on Slumberland Records.

A review of I Will Be by the Dum Dum Girls can be found at No Ripcord.


Thrill Jockey is releasing a DVD performance of “77 Boa Drum” by Boredoms.

Via Thrill Jockey:

On July 7th, 2007 at 7:07 PM, Japanese group Boredoms, orchestrated a performance by 77 drummers at the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park in Brooklyn, NY. Nearly three years later, the experience is finally making its way to DVD. 77 Boa Drum is the official live performance documentary of the event, complete with behind the scenes rehearsal footage, interviews, and of course, lots of footage of the actual performance.

The momentous event was filmed by Jun Kawaguchi and his crew, web-TV sites like VBS TV, Viva-Radio, and several unknown You Tube cameramen. Kawaguchi, a big fan of Boredoms, had spent a decade chronicling the band’s live performances and the
77 Boa Drum concert was no different. After editing his footage together with live footage captured and posted on You Tube, the 89 minute documentary was born.

The DVD will see release in the US on Thrill Jockey Records on September 7th and come with a series of photo postcards not available in the Japanese edition.

It’s possible that the grandness in scope may outweigh the ACTUAL performance, (or the piece), but an effort like this is worth the attention, especially with the Boredoms’ name attached to it. If nothing else, it’s at least worth supporting a record label that would confidently release something this esoteric and challenging.

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, July 01, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Wavves

As warm weather persists, so does the want to vacate workplace woes and find some sand and sun to enjoy. Exciting those summertime inclinations to just enjoy life, Wavves is releasing his new album, King of the Beach, sooner than expected. Digitally, you’ll be able to pick up his latest album now through iTunes. Purists will still have to wait until August to own a physical copy, which will be released through Fat Possum Records. “Post Acid,” the album’s first single, is sun-drenched and fun, an overall wish for youthful indiscretions and the bliss of irresponsibility a byproduct of its energy.

Via Force Field PR:

Fri-Aug-06 Chicago, IL Lollapalooza
Sat-Aug-07 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle / Lollapalooza afterparty *
Thu-Aug-12 San Diego, CA Museum of Contemporary Art / San Diego
Fri-Aug-13 Pomona, CA The Glass House #
Sat-Aug-14 Portland, OR Berbati's Pan
Mon-Aug-16 Santa Barbara, CA Soho
Tue-Aug-17 Santa Cruz, CA Crepe Place
Wed-Aug-18 San Francisco, CA Rickshaw Stop
Wed-Aug-25 Seattle, WA Neumos
Thu-Aug-26 Vancouver, BC Biltmore
Fri-Aug-27 Victoria, BC Sugar
Mon-Aug-30 Sacramento, CA Sol Collective
Tue-Aug-31 Visalia, CA Howie and Sons Pizza

* = w/ Harlem, Fergus and Geronimo
# = w/ The Cool Kids

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...