Tuesday, May 31, 2011

To Whom It May Interest: Ripple Music Auction For Joplin Relief...

Ripple Music is auctioning off a rare 7" test pressing of their recent Heavy Ripples compilation.  The money is meant to donate to the victims of the recent tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri.  All information is courtesy of Ripple Music.

Charity Auction of Rare Test Pressing of Heavy Ripples Double 7": Proceeds to Benefit Joplin Tornado Vicitms

Continuing with the company tradition of giving back to the community, Ripple Music will auction an extremely rare original test pressing of Heavy Ripples: vol 1, featuring Stone Axe, Sun Gods in Exile, Grifter and Mighty High, with proceeds going to benefit Joplin Tornado Victims. The auction will take place on eBay at the Ripple store, starting Tuesday, May 31st, and run for 7 days only.

Only 5 of these test pressings exist, and this is the only one made available to the public. You can jump into the auction, win a cool heavy rock collectible and benefit disaster relief at the Ripple Music Ebay Store.

The Heavy Ripples test press auction is the latest in a growing line of charity auctions that Ripple Music has created. Previously, rare JPT Scare Band and Stone Axe test pressings were auctioned with proceeds going to Gulf Disaster and Japan Tsunami disaster relief agencies. With the tragedy that recently unfolded in Joplin, Mo., Ripple founders John Rancik and Todd Severin thought the time was right to release another rare test pressing from their vault and raise money for a worthwhile effort.

Press raves about Heavy Ripples, vol. I:

"Ripple Music is back with a vinyl-only compilation and, as expected, keeps delivering quality products, not only in respect of their musical taste but also concerning the layout and packaging of the double 7" vinyl set. Heavy Ripples is an excellent compilation which offers the possibility to discover some great unknown bands. The packaging is also high-quality because both records are hidden in a tasteful gatefold sleeve which includes a sweet inside illustration painted by Wayne "Braino" Bjerke." - Cosmic Lava

"Stone Axe's “Nightwolf” is one of the bad ass of all bad ass songs, reminds me a bit of ZZ Top’s “Tush” mixed with early Judas Priest. Sun Gods in Exile’s “Over My Broken Bones” and continues the great sound from their 2009 debut. Grifter gets two songs on this release, and both are punchy, upbeat, catchy and Grifter seems to be having a lot of fun. Mighty High's “Hempophobic” is fast punchy and the guitars are tight with hints of a blues tune in between the bong hitting.This delicious slab of wax first pressing is limited to 500 copies so don’t hesitate on ordering yours." -- the Soda Shop

"For fans of heavy classic rock and fans in general of unpretentious riffery, it’s a must-have! Increasingly, Ripple are becoming a force to be reckoned with when it comes to purveying quality (and varied) rock and roll. A cool listen for converted heads and one that might even win over a few new recruits to the cause." -- The Obelisk


Letters From A Tapehead

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

The man was a shock to my system when first my ears touch upon "Whitey On The Moon," Gil Scott-Heron's bongo-powered indictment of White America's priorities in terms of taxpayer dollars: "I can't pay no doctor bill/(but Whitey's on the moon)/Ten years from now I'll be payin' still/(while Whitey's on the moon)."  It's not as if I hadn't already been exposed to Afro-centric pride and racially inspired backlash via the more vocal amongst hip-hop's reigning champions, (most notably the words of Public Enemy and then later with Talib Kweli and Mos Def), but Scott-Heron's delivery, backed by one mere, simple hand drum, was compelling.  Yes, there was anger to the man, poetic outrage at the words' core.  But, Heron wasn't only a voice of dissent: he was the embodiment of protest art, his combination of words and tone a perfect conveyance of frustration and hope for something better, canvas worthy assessments of living situations for Black People.

Heron has been referred to as the "Black Dylan," and while to some this might dilute his impact on music, especially in terms of hip-hop's genesis, it does illustrate well enough the type of poetic and performance capability Scott-Heron possessed.

Gil Scott-Heron has passed away at the age of 62.  Being at the forefront of an entire genre's beginnings, hip-hop's earliest days being based upon graffiti, DJ'ing, dancing and performance, Scott-Heron's legacy will be that he helped build this culture.  As recent as last year, Scott-Heron's comeback after years spent under the weight of drug abuse and legal troubles, I'm New Here, brought a wiser, though older and somewhat beaten down, artist back to a welcoming public.  The album exuded an old man's wisdom in a modernized age, a final shot at redemption having been met before time was up.

"Lady Day and John Coltrane" from Pieces Of A Man (Gil Scott-Heron).

"I'm New Here" from I'm New Here (Bill Callahan).

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" from Small Talk at 125th and Lenox (Gil Scott-Heron).

"New York Is Killing Me (Chris Cunningham Remix)" original version from I'm New Here (Gil Scott-Heron).

He will be missed.

Letters From A Tapehead

P.S. If interested, please see my review of I'm New Here at No Ripcord.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What I Heard This Morning: The Nighty Nite

The Nighty Nite’s “Dimes In Their Dimples” is one of those very severe carnival-ish tracks that links Man Man’s goofball take on Tom Waits with the seriousness of progressive circus act, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Granted I’m point out to extreme cases on opposite ends of a musical device, but The Nighty Nite seems to fall somewhere between the two. It’s a good listen.

All info and links come courtesy of PMA PR.

Dimes In Their Dimples by The Nighty Nite by PMA



John Congleton and Jason Garner of The Paper Chase have teamed up with some good friends to form a new band called The Nighty Nite. Joining them are members of Wires Under Tension (Chris Tignor), Shearwater (Kevin Schneider), and the Hospital Ships (Jordan Geiger). The band's debut EP Dimples is set for release on June 21st via Graveface and sounds like the soundtrack to a tragic black comedy, as if Woody Allen made a horror movie about a punk rock band.

The four songs on The Nighty Nite's
Dimples EP echo and marry John Cale's sardonic mix of pop/orchestra/skronk and the atmospheric doom of late-period Scott Walker. "Some people have told me it's the darkest thing I've ever done", says Congleton. "I don't know if I agree but so be it if so."

Congleton's lyrics on the EP are sharpened to an existential point, vacillating cleverly between tragedy and comedy, as in "Dimes In Their Dimples", when the band follows his line, "God, you gave them lips but they still speak of nothing less than the odious things, and all that portly cargo they're still shlepping," with a truly terrifying musical rise and crescendo in noise. Following this, "Silly Bag" and "In My Hospital Gown" are similarly unflinching and touch on the humiliation that frequently surrounds disease and mental illness. The tone is summed up in the final song, a cover of Magnetic Fields' "Meaningless", where Congleton yells like a charismatic preacher and The Nighty Nite pounds stupidly behind him until a key change inverts the song ultimately into the sound of triumph, a strangely contradictory uplift.

The Nighty Nite heads out for a US tour with This Will Destroy You beginning May 28th in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Full dates below.

LISTEN/DOWNLOAD THE NEW TRACK "DIMES IN THEIR DIMPLES" (from the Dimples EP): http://soundcloud.com/pma/dimes-in-their-dimples-by-the

THE NIGHTY NITE ON TOUR (w/ This Will Destroy You)
5.28 The Lightbulb Club - Fayetteville AR
5.29 MOTR - Cincinnati OH
5.30 The Summit - Columbus OH
6.1 Brighton Music Hall - Boston, MA
6.2 Bowery Ballroom - NY, NY
6.3 Johnny Brendas - Philadelphia, PA
6.4 Sonar Club Stage - Baltimore, MD
6.5 Rock and Roll Hotel - Washington DC
6.7 Strange Matter - Richmond, VA
6.8 Lexington Avenue Brewery - Ashville, NC
6.9 The Earl - Atlanta, GA
6.10 Spanish Moon - Baton Rouge, LA
6.11 The Double WIde - Dallas TX
6.12 The Parish - Austin TX

PRE-ORDER: http://www.graveface.com/graveface-catalog.html



Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: Boris

Heavy Rocks/Attention Please
Sargent House
Released: 5.24.11

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Miles Davis: He Loved Him Madly

Today would've been the 85th birthday of Miles Davis and there's no shortage of praise to spare for his extensive catalogue and all the wildly inspirational art that's thankfully been left in his stead.  If we can't have him, at least his music can live on.

Early in the life of Letters From A Tapehead, I was caught up in a typing frenzy one evening and decided to spend a few hours discussing Davis' Get Up With It, a late period electric/fusion album that I feel gets overlooked.  As far as fusion, Davis' most noted releases are In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew and the controversial On The Corner, which earned Davis somewhat of a smiting at the hands of critics and fans.  But, such is the cost of being ahead of your time, as cliché as that sounds.

Here are my thoughts and praise in regard to Get Up With It.

"He Loved Him Madly" opens Get Up With It as a meditation of sorts on the life and death of Duke Ellington, who'd passed on before the piece was recorded.  Clocking in at thirty-two minutes and change, "He Loved Him Madly" is ponderous, somber and mostly intangible.  Any semblance of rhythm appears maybe twenty or so minutes into the piece, and then you're adrift in its expanse, possibly thoughtful, or maybe bored.  The first time I heard "He Loved Him Madly," I was immediately impatient at its lack of activity.  But, I listened again and again and it soon became one of my favorite Davis compositions.

This being Davis' birthday, "He Loved Him Madly" seemed a good way to contemplate the artist and his contributions which have more than transcended his genre.  Davis is an American icon and he will forever be revered.

"He Loved Him Madly" from Get Up With It (Miles Davis).

I wanted to add some other favorite Davis performances.

"In A Silent Way/It's About That Time/In A Silent Way" from In A Silent Way (Joe Zawinul/Miles Davis).

"Footprints" from Miles Smiles (Wayne Shorter).

"All Blues" from Kind Of Blue (Miles Davis).

"Mood" from E.S.P. (Miles Davis/Ron Carter).

"Move" from Birth of the Cool (Denzil Best/John Lewis).

"On the Corner/New York Girl/Thinkin' One Thing and Doin' Another/Vote for Miles" from On The Corner (Miles Davis).

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: WU LYF

Prefix posted a video earlier today for the single, “Dirt,” from WU LYF's upcoming album, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain. While Prefix acknowledges These New Puritans as a base, I hear some Mark Stewart Maffia/Pop Group relatable dub influences and vocals. The midway influx of bass energy prompted me to even spotlight this single. Not that the percussive sections aren’t powerful, but once the song thickens musically it becomes something more.

They have another single called "Heavy Pop," which seems to work well as a descriptor.

Letters From A Tapehead

Earth: Father Midnight

Earth is touring in support of their epic and amazing, Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1. The album was reviewed for No Ripcord.

Interestingly, my NASCAR references were taken by a commenter as a direct stab at the sport when I was actually trying to take characteristically American perceptions, perceptions perpetuated by pop culture and how we’re perceived outside of our own country, and reject some of its credibility by saying, “We’re more than just a media and television propagated culture of arrogance and ignorance.” I guess I didn’t bring that across as well as I hoped in my review so, John, if you happen to be reading this, I have better things to rail against than NASCAR. Jersey Shore, for instance: I would gladly, as you put it, lead a “campaign of persecution” against that. Glenn Beck? Rail worthy. Toddlers & Tiaras? Those are just despicable people that somehow qualify as worthwhile for television so, for the betterment of society, if I can’t save the kids, I’d campaign to pull that shit out of rotation.

Anyway, digressions be damned.

Expect a concert review for the June 13th show at Johnny Brenda's.  In the meantime, check out the album if you haven't already, (it's the best I've heard this year... if that claim carries any weight), and maybe catch the band on tour.  All information touring info and links come courtesy of Earsplit PR. 

EARTH: West Coast Tour Dates Confirmed

EARTH -- who are about to embark on their next installment of tour dates in support of their
Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1 opus throughout the Midwest and East Coast US in two weeks -- have just confirmed a new full set of West Coast dates for the Summer months as well!

Today EARTH officially unveil eight brand new West Coast shows for July and August, based around their previously-announced performance at Washington's What The Heck? Fest. The new dates will see the band headlining shows in Oregon, California and their home state of Washington, with direct support from Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets on all dates, and will also include special guests including Wyrd Visions, Whirr and Tiny Vipers on several shows.

EARTH Confirmed Live Performances:

Midwest/East Coast American Tour:

6/08/2011 Mayne Stage - Chicago, IL w/ Ô Paon
6/09/2011 Mad Planet - Milwaukee, WI w/
Ô Paon
6/10/2011 Magic Stick - Detroit, MI w/ Ô Paon, Isosceles Mountain
6/11/2011 The Strutt - Kalamazoo, MI w/
Ô Paon
6/12/2011 Grog Shop - Cleveland, OH w/ Ô Paon
6/13/2011 Johnny Brenda's - Philadelphia, PA w/ Ô Paon
6/14/2011 Wadsworth Atheneum - Hartford, CT w/ Ô Paon
6/15/2011 Middle East Downstairs - Boston, MA w/ Ô Paon
6/16/2011 Le Poisson Rouge - New York City, NY w/ Ô Paon
6/17/2011 Ottobar - Baltimore, MD w/ Ô Paon
6/18/2011 Braddock Carnegie Library - Braddock, PA w/ Ô Paon
6/19/2011 The Historic Southgate House - Newport, KY w/ Ô Paon

*NEW - West Coast Tour:

7/13/2011 Doug Fir - Portland, OR w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Wyrd Visions
7/14/2011 The Northern - Olympia, WA w/
Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Wyrd Visions
7/16/2011 Port Warehouse - Anacortes, WA @ What The Heck? Fest [info]
7/21/2011 Catalyst Atrium - Santa Cruz, CA w/
Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
7/22/2011 Slim's - San Francisco, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Whirr
7/23/2011 Echoplex - Los Angeles, CA w/
Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
7/24/2011 Casbah - San Diego, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
8/02/2011 Tractor Tavern - Seattle, WA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Tiny Vipers
8/05/2011 The Shakedown - Bellingham, WA w/ The Narrows, Cold Lake

9/09/11 Hopscotch Music Festival - Raleigh, NC [

10/02/2011 I'll Be Your Mirror, curated by Portishead & ATP - Asbury Park, NJ [ info]





Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Daytrotter: Parts & Labor

Parts & Labor's Constant Future is in my top ten for the year so far, as evidenced by my review for Kicking Against The Pricks.  Their Daytrotter set sounds sort of rambunctious, and you can tell that the band really got into kicking their loud transitions.

5.25.11: Parts & Labor's Daytrotter set

You can find the session here.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Horrors: Still Life

No Ripcord posted The Horrors' new single, "Still Life," as their Track of the Day. Their new album, Skying, will be out in July.

As their last album, Primary Colours, proved to be a huge creative leap from their self-titled debut, “Still Life” suggests that they’ve found comfortable footing in the 80s goth-wave they’ve both capitalized and expanded upon. Skying is something I’m looking forward to. In the meantime, if you’re interested, Primary Colours was reviewed for No Ripcord.

Letters From A Tapehead

To Whom It May Interest: Our Concert Could Be Your Life (Stream)

As it’s been promoted and publicized, the new bastions of all that is “Indie” honored the bands spotlighted in Michael Azerrad’s much revered, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991. The book was published ten years ago and has basically come to be known as the definitive tale of independent music leading up to the movement’s momentary breach into mainstream America. I know I’ve talked about this book at length, citing it as one of the best rock n’ roll books I’ve ever read and as a wellspring of essential music. Music writers could only dream of writing something this necessary, Azerrad’s perfect account not only defines D.I.Y. Culture and post-punk music for the uninitiated, but credits these bands with shaping the current music-scape. A lot of these bands may have been overlooked or eventually forgotten were it not for Azerrad. Having said that, it’s amazing that a book could warrant such an event.

The full concert, which took place in New York City’s Bowery Ballroom on May 22nd, is available at NPR. Simply click here and enjoy.

In the meantime, Prefix Magazine posted this great video of St. Vincent covering Big Black’s intense, “Kerosene.” Give it a look/listen and check out the concert.

Here’s the original, which is definitely one of my favorite Big Black tracks.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, May 23, 2011

No Ripcord: Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore
Demolished Thoughts
Matador Records
Released: 5.24.11

Letters From A Tapehead

Saturday, May 21, 2011

To Whom It May Interest: Deerhoof, Minus The Bear

This information comes via Deerhoof's mailing list:

New Split 7" with WOOM

We've got a new split 7" with WOOM coming out July 5th on Polyvinyl. It's currently up for pre-order right now through the PV online store and is limited to just 1200 copies on clear vinyl.

It features WOOM singing over an instrumental of our song "Must Fight Current" (off
Deerhoof vs. Evil) along with Greg's remix of the WOOM song "Quetzalcoatl's Ship" on the B-side.

If you pre-order it now, you'll get an instant MP3 download code while you wait for you package!

Pre-order WOOM on Hoof 7"

Milk Man & Friend Opportunity Vinyl Reissues

Polyvinyl is also reissuing Milk Man and Friend Opportunity on 180 gram colored vinyl. Milk Man will come on strawberry colored vinyl while Friend Opportunity will be on orange vinyl.

Psst... Friend Opportunity comes with a bonus track not found on the original pressing!

Milk Man will be available in stores Juy 5th, while Friend Opportunity will only be available through Polyvinyl's mailorder until October 11th.

If you want to check out everything at once, Polyvinyl has a great package deal on their site where you can get Milk Man, Friend Opportunity, and the WOOM 7" for a super low price.

Pre-order Milk Man

Pre-order Friend Opportunity

Milk Man / Friend Opportunity / WOOM 7" Package Deal


This information comes via Minus The Bear's mailing list:

Free Hold Me Down EP

As a thank you to our fans, we're giving away the the six-song Hold Me Down EP - completely free - through our website, minusthebear.com.

The EP includes "Hold Me Down", a b-side from OMNI called "Broken China", live versions of "My Time", "Into The Mirror", and "Hold Me Down" recorded at Dangerbird Studios in Los Angeles, and Thomas Mitchener's killer remix of "My Time" from the contest we ran back in the fall.

Download Hold Me Down EP for free and tell your friends to grab it too.

Today we kick off our Southeastern tour in Baton Rouge, LA with Skysaw and The Constellations. Come out and rock with us.

5/20 - Varsity Theatre - Baton Rouge, LA
5/21 - Hangout Festival - Gulf Shores, AL
5/22 - Freebird Live - Jacksonville Beach, FL
5/24 - Revolution Live - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
5/25 - The Ritz Ybor - Tampa, FL
5/27 - The Handbar - Greenville, SC
5/28 - Soapbox Laundrolounge - Wilmington, NC
5/29 - The Music Farm - Charleston, SC
5/30 - Sky City - Augusta, GA
5/31 - Minglewood Hall - Memphis, TN
6/1 - Cannery Ballroom - Nashville, TN
6/2 - Wakarusa Music Festival - Ozark, AR
6/3 - Diamond Ballroom - Oklahoma City, OK
6/4 - Josabi's Rocklobster Fest - Helotes, TX
6/17 - Wonder Ballroom - Portland, OR
6/18 - Knitting Factory - Spokane, WA
7/3 - TBD - Mexico City, MX
8/5 - Kakaako Beach Park Amphitheatre - Honolulu, HI
9/17 - Merriweather Post Pavilion - Columbia, MD

Much love,
Minus the Bear

Letters From A Tapehead

Six Organs of Admittance: Light of the Light

Yesterday, I saw the video for the Six Organs of Admittance single, "Light of the Light," which was one of the highlights on Ben Chasny's (Mr. Six Organs, himself) last album, Asleep on the Floodplain.  A lot of musicians/bands seem to be really into this whole videocassette textured anti-fidelity music video lately.  In Chasny's case, I think it works, though.  The video looks as sentimental as his music might sound, and the washes of reverb floating off Chasny's guitar seem complimented by the visual's lack of clarity.

The album was reviewed for No Ripcord.  

I found the video via Drag City.

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No Ripcord: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Reissues — Part 1)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Let Love In
Originally released: 4.18.94
Reissued: 5.17.11

Murder Ballads
Originally released: 2.20.96
Reissued: 5.17.11

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Screens: Pop Logic

I posted Screen's “Pop Logic” a few months ago, but a video has since been developed. Thusly, I have the right to post it again.  Besides, I like this song.

Screens’ new album, Dead House, was released 5.17 via What Delicate Recordings. All information is courtesy of Terrorbird Media.

Screens "Pop Logic" Video Available Now
New Record Dead House Out Now On What Delicate Recordings

Pop Logic from Screens on Vimeo.

Formed in 2009, Brooklyn-based Screens is a post-punk super-group of sorts. Drummer Andrew Becker was a member of Dischord Records Medications; vocalist Breck Brunson - also from DC – was a member of the raw power garage rockers The Apes and keyboardist Daniel Roland Tierney, from San Francisco, played with punk rockers The Mall. Screens sound is a tasty combo of post-punk thrashing with art-rock experimentation. The addition of guitarist Luke Kozikowski only adds to the depth of Screens' sound.

Following countless frenzied shows in the moistest of east coast squats, Screens decamped to the rock and roll mecca of Hockessin, Delaware to record their debut album Dead House which was engineered by Nick Krill (The Spinto Band) who helped craft a spirited mess of unbridled dystopia slathered in a rich, pasty, psychedelic batter.

Screens debut album Dead House is out now On What Delicate Recordings. Head over to Brightest Young Things to read an interview with Andrew Becker about the tracks on Dead House.

For Fans of Oneida, Black Eyes, Parts and Labor and Liars.

Screens Dead House Track List

1. Dead House
2. Saturdays
3. Shudder (MP3 via Impose Magazine)
4. Pop Logic (MP3 via RCRD LBL)
5. Man Down
6. //---\\
7. Radio Tabaloapa
8. Hot Avenues
9. 35
10. Fall Girl
11. Dead Extension
12. Cataplexy (MP3 via Epitonic)
13. Better To Burn Than To Not Freeze

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tyler, The Creator: Yonkers

In the same way Google, Twitter and Facebook lead most of us into the perfect storm of links, exits and alcoves along the information superhighway, I wound up reading a blog entry on Tegan and Sara’s website that criticized, plausibly mind you, the absence of critical resistance to the homophobia and misogyny found in the lyrics of hip-hop artist, Tyler, The Creator.

To be completely honest, I really had no interest in checking out Tyler, The Creator before I’d read Sara Quin’s thoughts. Her accusations roused curiosity, as is usually the case once controversy is sparked or speech in relation to art is given the “moralist” debate. Having now listened to a few of Tyler’s tracks, most notably “Yonkers” from his new album, Goblin, I’m at somewhat of a loss on the response. While I don’t want to be one the many “journalists and colleagues” that “defend, excuse and congratulate Tyler, The Creator,” my kneejerk response is to more or less excuse his derogatory language because I happen to think he’s an interesting and unbridled voice. His flow is captivating. His content is offensive, but well-executed. To Sara’s point, he’s definitely insensitive. But, he’s insensitive to everybody, (including himself) so doesn’t that level the field a tad?

The mostly antiquated political and social climates that have ultimately led us toward the traps of political correctness haven’t excused past occurrences of hate and violence due to race, ethnicity, sexuality or religious affiliation. But, I think being P.C. has choked the life out of art and satire. While I understand that blatant disregard for humanity based on skin color and sexual orientation typically constitutes hate speech, I think we’ve lost the ability to acknowledge our differences, take them in stride and just accept each other as who and what we are. We haven’t become better people; just better at editing ourselves in public. Now, just so that’s not taken out of context, I’m not saying we haven’t become more accepting of others. But, I believe if we are to evolve, we should be able to reach past the surface and take a closer look. And, being a white heterosexual male, I realize I don’t have much right to instigate this discussion. However, as political correctness and fear of speech continue to minimize society’s vocab, are we in danger of over-sensitizing ourselves? Have our skins become too easy to bruise? While violence seemingly runs rampant on our televisions and through the airwaves, dialogue has diminished and it seems words cause more damage than bullets.

Sara asks, “When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry? When will they be treated with the same seriousness as racist and anti-Semitic offenses?” She has a good point. But, taking the Lenny Bruce approach, could it be that these words hurt so much because they’re given so much power? 

Or, if that doesn't work, can we simply exercise our right to ignore what doesn't suit us?

Listening deeper to what comes across as hostility through rhyme, or shock for the sake of shock, Tyler’s psychosis and content probably strike deeper than mere button pushing. He’s a young man, evidently angry and cynical, and there’s no one telling him what he can and can’t say, which is a liberty hard-won and rare amongst artists in the spotlight. He mentions therapy often enough to suggest he’s as disturbed as he is disturbing.

All that being said, Tyler did himself somewhat of a disservice with his response to Tegan and Sara:

"It Tegan and Sara need some hard dick, hit me up!"
It’s not so much that Tyler should’ve changed his mind around and held to a higher standard as far as his lyrical approach, but he could at least have contested Tegan and Sara’s observations with his own explanation.  I think he mistook rebellion for simply being childish.  

Letters From A Tapehead

Tera Melos: Echoes on the Hills of Knebworth

I've been listening to this behemoth of math rock improv from Tera Melos titled, "Echoes on the Hills of Knebworth." Apparently, after recording their latest album, Patagonian Rats, they'd acquired a surplus of studio time enabling them to go into Ascension mode for one 51-minute free form instrumental track, which they're hoping to sell at $5 a download so as to fund their upcoming tour.

There's also a documentary being released on Tera Melos that covers their tour with Marnie Stern from earlier this year. That's the one I missed thanks to the stomach flu, which I keep harping on but...

I'll get over it, eventually.

In the meantime, check out the track and maybe contribute to the band's tour. All below links come courtesy of Us/Them Group.

Tera Melos release new 51-minute song, tour documentary trailer and announce UK/Ireland dates

"Once in a rare while an album comes along that's so fresh and ingenious it redefines what's possible in a field of music. It's been some time since a trio armed with guitar, drums, bass and vocals have shattered the boundaries of convention and pushed the limits of their instruments and compositions like a graceful tsunami of invention." -- Exclaim!

Tera Melos has ferociously explored the outer limits of bizarre time signatures and unhinged thrash since its self-titled 2005 debut. But the band's full-length, Patagonian Rats is more akin to the type of freak-pop perversion dished out by daring pioneers like Devo and The Flaming Lips." -- Wired.com

Sacramento genre-benders Tera Melos have released a new 51-minute-long track called "Echo On the Hills of Knebworth" in an effort to raise funds for an upcoming UK/Ireland jaunt this summer (see complete dates below). Additionally, a full length documentary of the band's recent co-headlining tour with Marnie Stern was shot by Terroreyes.tv for release later this year. The trailer, with snippets of behind-the-scenes road antics and live footage can be seen HERE.

Tera Melos' lengthy new song is culled from an extensive improvisation recorded in the studio while completing their most recent album,
Patagonian Rats. Fans are asked to donate a $5 minimum to download the song, with all proceeds going directly to the band to offset travel costs for their upcoming first tour in the UK and Ireland. Here's how the band explains the release.

The group launches its overseas dates with the
Forbidden Fruit Festival (w/ Flaming Lips, Aphex Twin, Battles and many more) in Dublin, performing on the stage curated by Sargent House sibling label The Richter Collective (home of breakout trio Adebisi Shank).

Tera Melos' most recent album
Patagonian Rats landed on many Best of 2010 lists, as well as receiving raves from Wired.com, Exclaim!, ALARM Press, Impose and Exploding In Sound. Marnie Stern also named it her favorite album of the year in SPIN. MP3 and video links follow below, or stream the entire Tera Melos discography via Bandcamp.

TERA MELOS UK/IRELAND SHOWS 2011Jun 05 - Dublin, IE @ Forbidden Fruit Festival
Jun 06 - London, UK @ The Macbeth *
Jun 07 - Brighton, UK @ The Hope *
Jun 08 - Bristol, UK @ The Cooler *
Jun 09 - Manchester, UK @ Night & Day Cafe *
Jun 10 - Nottingham, UK @ Bodega Social Club *
Jun 11 - Birmingham, UK @ The Temple (HMV Institute) * w/Shapes, &U&I
Jun 12 - Leeds, UK @ The Well *
Jun 14 - Glasgow, UK @ Nice N' Sleezy *
Jun 15 - Cork, IE @ The Crane Lane Theater
Jun 17 - Galway, IE @ Roisin Dubh w/ LITE

* w/ Tangled Hair

Artist: Tera Melos
Echo On the Hills of Knebworth
Label: Sargent House
Release Date: May 10th, 2011

01. Echo On the Hills of Knebworth (STREAM)

Artist: Tera Melos
Patagonian Rats -- Deluxe Digital Edition
Label: Sargent House
Release Date: February 22nd, 2011

01. So Occult
02. Kelly
03. The Skin Surf (VIDEO)
04. Aped
05. Trident Tail
06. Frozen Zoo (MP3) (any file format) (VIDEO)
07. In Citrus Heights
08. Skywatch
09. Party With Gina
10. Another Surf
11. Westham United
12. A New Uniform/Patagonia
13. Purple and Stripes
14. Kelley
15. Manar The Magic (MP3) (VIDEO)
16. Melt Bamanarnana (Melt Banana Remix)
17. Manar The Magic (Pat Hills' Rat Trap Dub)
18. Manar Was A Rat
19. Frozen Zoo (Thawed Out Mix) (VIDEO)
20. Frozen Zoo (Raleigh Moncrief Remix)

On the Web:

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, May 16, 2011

Boris: Heavy Rocks/Attention Please (Stream)

Letters From A Tapehead favorites, the inimitably sonic and versatile Boris, will be releasing their two new albums, Heavy Rocks (not to be confused with the 2002 album of the same name) and Attention Please, on 5.24.  Both will be reviewed on No Ripcord and an interview with the band is also in the works.

In the meantime, if curiosity or impatience provoke immediate or temporary gratification, both Boris albums are available online.  See below for links and information, which come to you via the good people at Us/Them Group.

Boris post full album streams courtesy of NPR:Attention Please and Heavy Rocks out via Sargent House May 24th

Iconoclast Japanese trio Boris have served up full album streams of their all-new full lengths to be released in tandem via Sargent House on May 24th. NPR Music's First Listen has posted these exclusive listening opportunities -- follow the links to check out Attention Please and Heavy Rocks.

About both albums -- please see track listings and cover art below:

Boris -
Attention Please - LP/CD/digital
Boris are widely known for their ability to breach styles and stretch sonic boundaries of all that is heavy, psychedelic, droning and downright cathartic. But,
Attention Please is more like a complete redefining of their potential in several ways. First and foremost, it is the first album on which all vocals are sung by lead guitarist, Wata. While she has previously sung on a couple of songs for singles and her solo outings, the entire 10-song album features her intimate, multifaceted vocal style. Secondly, the songs on Attention Please have a sultry, intoxicating catchiness to them. It's melodic without sounding pop. It's psychedelic without sounding dated. It's heavy without relying on barre chord riffs.

Boris -
Heavy Rocks - LP/CD/digital
Boris has earned its rabid cult following for their ability to expertly harness music as power. Be it psychedelic metal, colossal drone, blistering punk or distortion-ravaged shoegaze, a Boris song is an exploration of sound as physical mass. The Japanese trio's classic 2002 album,
Heavy Rocks is a landmark of their mastery. So, it's fitting that the group's new album sharing the same title and very similar artwork to that disc, Heavy Rocks (2011) seeks to redefine "heavy" music in a culmination of the band's tireless efforts over the past two decades. This year's Heavy Rocks is beyond heavy, it firmly establishes Boris as a pillar of innovation and integrity in guitar-based music.

Artist: Boris
Attention Please
Label: Sargent House
Release Date: May 24th, 2011

01. Attention Please

02. Hope (MP3)
03. Party Boy
04. See You Next Week
05. Tokyo Wonder Land
06. You
07. Aileron
08. Les Paul Custom '86
09. Spoon
10. Hand in Hand

Artist: Boris
Heavy Rocks
Label: Sargent House
Release Date: May 24th, 2011

01. Riot Sugar (MP3)
02. Leak - Truth, yesnoyesnoyes-
04. Jackson Head
05. Missing Pieces
06. Key
07. Window Shopping
08. Tu, la la
09. Aileron
10. Czechoslovakia

On the Web:




Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, May 13, 2011

Shopping For Records #52: IMPULSE! — Half a Century in Orange and Black...

Various Artists
First Impulse — The Creed Taylor Collection Box Set
Hip-O Select
Released: 4.19.11

In 2006, I picked up Ashley Kahn’s in-depth book, The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse! Records. It was a dangerous book for me to read, simply because the albums, (and there are MANY), spotlighted became essentials for my record collection. As a somewhat economical alternative, or as a temporary teething ring to chew on while I acquired the Impulse! releases I wanted, was the book’s accompanying 4-disc compilation. A single disc version was released as well, but spending money on a paired down colossus wasn’t really an option. Why spend money to get blue-balled? Seemed counterproductive.

For 2011, a 4-disc commemorative box set named for the label’s founder, Creed Taylor, was released in recognition of Impulse! Records’ fiftieth anniversary.

For those of you like me that invested in the Ashley Kahn compilation, you might feel as though the Creed Taylor version is a rehash. However, the Taylor box set is not a cut-n-paste assortment of music. Instead, six of the label’s first releases are compiled, namely J.J. Johnson & Kal Winding’s The Great Kai & J.J., Winding’s The Incredible Kai Winding Trombones, Genius + Soul = Jazz by Ray Charles, Out Of The Cool by The Gil Evans Orchestra, the incredible Blues and the Abstract Truth by Oliver Nelson and Africa/Brass by The John Coltrane Quartet.

There’s a thorough review of the Creed Taylor box set at Okayplayer’s Revivalist site and NPR just reviewed it as well.

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Gypsyblood: 2-4-6 In The Dark

I know I'm spotlighting Gypsyblood's video for "2-4-6 In The Dark," but the band made an appearance recently on BreakThru Radio and it's worth checking out.  There's Q & A and some live performances of songs from their new album, Cold In The Guestway, which was just reviewed for No Ripcord.

All links, images and info come courtesy of Terrorbird Media.

Gypsyblood Live On BreakThru Radio In NYC

New Record
Cold In The Guestway Out Now On Sargent House

Chicago-based band Gypsyblood stopped by BreakThru Radio for an in-studio performance before playing at Bowery Ballroom with their good friends Maps & Atlases. The band performed tracks from their debut album Cold In The Guestway out now on Sargent House

Listen: Gypsyblood Performance & Interview On Breakthru Radio

Watch: “2-4-6 In The Dark” from Cold In The Guestway

Gypsyblood formed in 2009 when longtime friends and former bandmates Adam James and vocalist/drummer/bassist Kyle Victor healed the somewhat fresh wounds of their previous band's breakup (initiated by Victor storming off stage after the last song and hitchhiking home.) The pair later made up and James invited Victor to hear demos of new songs he was working on. Gypsyblood was born shortly thereafter and the pair quickly wrote an impressive amount of songs together within two months.

Gypsyblood's songs tend to start dissent among listeners trying to describe exactly of what their songs are reminiscent. Some common references include a strange amalgam of Pavement's early hazy-pop singles, The Jesus and The Mary Chain and early Guided By Voices. Put simply, it's a noisy, soft-focus approach to classic pop.

The name Gypsyblood itself fits nicely with the group's aesthetic: the eternally restless gypsy spirit and the visceral music running through the veins of successive generations."It's post-consumerist pop music," James suggests. It's timeless and undeniably powerful.
“…packed with what seem like nods to the fuzz-addicted indie rockers of a generation ago—Dinosaur, Archers of Loaf…” – Chicago Reader

“Gypsyblood pushes out some damn fine dance tunes and melodies from the fuzz. Their debut album, Cold in the Guestway, is a tight amalgamation of influences with a sprinkle of Chicago punk grime.” – Consequence Of Sound

“Single My RKO Is MIA represents a pretty nice slice of the band’s arc-wire mojo. Warmer than Bauhaus, more gelid than JAMC, and on the same street as Factory. Dig the energy, the song’s very existence seems threatened by it own maniacal rambunctiousness, yet it manages to maintain a playfulness that encourages touching. I absolutely love this tune.” –My Old Kentucky Blog


Sargent House

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

DJ Shadow: I Gotta Rokk

Some Kind Of Awesome is hosting a new single from DJ Shadow’s upcoming album, The Less You Know, The Better. Though I wouldn’t call “I Gotta Rokk” a complete return to form (i.e. Endtroducing...), stylistically it’s reminiscent of Shadow’s The Private Press, though it has a sonic boost that seemed in absentia for most of that album.

You can find the track here.

According to the blurb, an EP will be releasing May 17th that features a longer version of “I Gotta Rokk,” other singles and some remixes.

I found this via Stereogum.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chronological Distaste: "What Do We Think About Hammer?"

MC Hammer
Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
Released: 2.12.90

I can boast the following: The first rap albums I'd ever heard were the Beastie Boys' License To Ill and Public Enemy's Yo! Bumrush The Show.

The aforementioned boast is canceled out by this admission: The first rap album I ever paid for, was M.C. Hammer's Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em.

I was pulled from Catholic school after sixth grade. While I don't want to enact the cliché of misunderstood youth reluctant to completely buy into parishioners' dogma, I'll instead say that I have a liberal mother and that my inquiring mind, lack of attention and penchant for doodling in the margins of my copybooks warranted enrollment elsewhere. Plus, my mother was tired of having to come into school and discuss my behavior with my teachers/nuns. And, while I was very happy to be leaving the confines of Catholic school, I was completely unprepared for scholastic life in a public school setting.

For six years, I knew uniforms. I did not know casual clothes and, even in as awful an era as '89/'90 was for fashion, I walked the hallways a clueless eyesore. In addition, I was ridiculously out of touch with popular music, myself coming from my father's stacks of classic rock vinyl, Headbanger's Ball and soft rock radio, (if you can believe that). NO ONE seemed to be into what I knew or liked, so I had to learn to adapt, which was neither a skill or lesson covered in a Catholic curriculum.  Darwin for a middle school dummy.

Hip-hop had invaded the suburbs by the late 80s/early 90s thanks to the Beastie Boys and Aerosmith. Public Enemy, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Digital Underground, 3rd Bass, Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane... These were all names I had not heard nor cared about. Rap music wasn't classic rock or hair metal, so it had no relevance to me as far as I was concerned. But, I was alone in a new school and I had a strong desire to fit in, somehow.

I figured which were the popular Philadelphia radio stations and began listening. On Friday nights, some of these stations would feature a DJ set of spun hip-hop strung together like a club mix. It was a good source of reference, so I would tape the shows and listen to them over and over again. I got a dose of "Welcome To The Terrordome," "Brooklyn-Queens," "Peter Piper," "I'm The Magnificent," "Push It Along" — the shows back then were pretty top notch. But, then again, so was hip-hop. I just didn’t appreciate it at the time. For me, this was all a means of building friendships and that was it.

Anyway, even though I'd managed to find the "good" stuff, I sort of assumed that M.C. Hammer and his "Can't Touch This" popularity, dance moves and enema-shaped pant legs were essential to my education. Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em was listened to quite a bit and I even went so far as to try to learn how to dance to it, just so I could attract some beneficial attention at school dances. I never had the balls to dance in front of anybody, though I'd managed to pity my way into a slow dance or two.

As it turned out, Hammer was viewed as corny, songs like “Pray” and “Yo!! Sweetness” the 4-H Club equivalent to songs like “Jackin’ For Beats” and “Straight Outta Compton.”

So, for me, Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em not only emphasized how out of touch I was with my peers, but it also represented some futility in those teenaged years, making me aware, in no uncertain terms, that I was going to be wrong most of the time.

It wasn’t too long, though, that I’d discovered Thrasher Magazine, so all that hopeless and embarrassing pretending eventually changed into a new form of self-involved and angst-laced pretending, which worked out a little better.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, May 09, 2011

No Ripcord: Saccharine Trust

No Ripcord's been running a series on "Overlooked Albums." I selected Surviving You, Always by Saccharine Trust.

Saccharine Trust
Surviving You, Always
Released: 1984

Letters From A Tapehead

Kicking Against The Pricks: J Mascis, Parts & Labor, Vivian Girls...

Issue #7 of Kicking Against The Pricks has posted: Find it here.

My live review of J Mascis at the World Café had to be trimmed for length so as to fit into the designated article area, so below is the edit.

My contributions:
J Mascis
Kurt Vile & The Violators

World Café Live
Philadelphia, PA

Parts & Labor
Constant Future
Released: 3.8.11

Vivian Girls
Share The Joy
Released: 4.12.11

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: The Book Of Knots

I’ve been scouring YouTube and other avenues so I can hear what’s going on with The Book Of Knots, who are a supergroup comprised of members from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Skeleton Key and Pere Ubu. Missing out on 2/3 of their By Sea, By Land, By Air trilogy, I received word this morning about the release of part three, Garden of the Fainting Stars. I’ve found no advance singles so far, but the album is slated to release June 14th, so hopefully something will surface before then.

The list of collaborators this band has worked with is an interesting, eclectic and relatively obscure. They’ve featured (now and previously) Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan, Mike Watt, Mike Patton, Blixa Bargeld and Trey Spruance.

Information and links are courtesy of Speakeasy PR:



SAN FRANCISCO, May 9, 2011 – The Books of Knots, the Brooklyn-based quartet featuring members of Skeleton Key, Pere Ubu and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, return for the final chapter in their "By Sea, By Land, By Air" trilogy with
Garden of Fainting Stars (June 14, Ipecac Recordings).

The ten-track album was recorded in 2010 with core band members: Joel Hamilton (producer/engineer BlakRoc, Sparklehorse), Matthias Bossi (Skeleton Key, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), Carla Kihlstedt (Tin Hat, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) and Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu, Frank Black, Bob Mould). An impressive array of guest musicians took part including Blixa Bargeld ("Drosophila Melanogaster"), Mike Watt ("Yeager's Approach"), Mike Patton ("Planemo") and Patton's former Mr. Bungle cohort/current Secret Chiefs 3 ringleader Trey Spruance ("Obituary For The Future").

Where the previous release,
Traineater, focused on the American rust belt and The Book of Knots' self-titled debut explored all things nautical, Garden of Fainting Stars tackles the final frontier: space. In the band’s own words: "The imagined utopias that await doomed travelers and early astronauts at the other end of their fantastical journeys inevitably give way to the grim realization which mankind has faced again and again: At every hopeful turn, commonplace realities await us. A vast and empty universe stretching far beyond infinity, capable of containing the countless imaginary creatures, civilizations and otherwise terrestrial impossibilities that inhabit our dreams, dies in the fluorescent lighting of the laundry soap aisle at Walmart. Once again, we cast a wormless, rusty hook into the lifeless seas of the music industry, expecting to reap only sorrow.”

Garden of Fainting Stars track listing (guest musicians noted below):

1. Microgravity
2. Drosophila Melanogaster (Blixa Bargeld - Einsturzende Neubauten, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
3. Moondust Must (Nils Frykdahl - Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Dawn McCarthy - Faun Fables)
4. Lissajous Orbit (Aaron LazarThe Giraffes)
5. Garden of Fainting Stars (Elyas Khan Nervous Cabaret)
6. All This Nothing
7. Yeager's Approach (Mike Watt)
8. Planemo (Mike Patton)
9. Nebula Rasa
10. Obituary For The Future (Trey Spruance)



Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records #51: Isis Live Series...

It's been almost a year since post-metal band, ISIS, announced their break-up.  If you miss the idea of seeing new ISIS records to look forward to, the band is putting out a series of live recordings.  In addition, it looks as though the band is offloading some vintage items as well, possibly cleaning out the attic or emptying the storage unit.  All information and links come courtesy of Speakeasy PR.



Photo credit: Robin Laananen
LOS ANGELES, May 9, 2011 -- ISIS, who disbanded in May of last year, is set to release a series of five live albums that span the Los Angeles-by-way-of-Boston band's thirteen year career.

The digital releases begin with
ISIS Live I 9.23.03, a four-song, forty-minute recording from a performance at The Fillmore in San Francisco, which will be available on May 31. Each subsequent recording will be released at two week intervals with dates and album specifics listed below.

Pre-order packages bundling downloads of all five releases as well as long-out-of-print merch items including the popular "inaugural" t-shirt and hoodie, as well as the 2006
Clearing The Eye DVD are now available at www.isistheband.com. Full package information and prices are listed below.

The former members of ISIS are busy working on new music with Mike Gallagher scoring films (most recently 22nd of May) and creating music under the MGR moniker, Aaron Turner working with Faith Coloccia on Mamiffer and House of Low Culture, Jeff Caxide creating CRONE with a release forthcoming, Clifford Meyer working on two new projects: Windmills By The Ocean and Taiga as well as continuing with Red Sparowes and Aaron Harris continuing his production career as he currently wraps up work on Lesser Key's upcoming album.

ISIS' final studio album was
Wavering Radiant, released by Ipecac Recordings in April 2009.

Upcoming ISIS live releases:

ISIS Live I 9.23.03
Release date: May 31, 2011
Recorded at The Fillmore (San Francisco)

Track list:

1. Carry
2. Weight
3. Hym
4. The Beginning and the End
ISIS Live II 03.19.03
Release date: June 14, 2011
Recorded in Stockholm, Sweden

Track list:

1. From Sinking
2. Glisten
3. Carry
4. Weight
5. The Beginning and the End
6. Celestial (Ext./Alt. Version)
ISIS Live III 12.17.04
Release date: June 28, 2011
Recorded at The Launchpad (Albuquerque)

Track list:

1. So Did We
2. Backlit
3. The Beginning and the End
4. In Fiction
5. Wills Dissolve
6. Grinning Mouths
7. Altered Course
ISIS Live IV Selections 2001 - 2005
Release date: July 12, 2011
Recorded: Various dates (2001, 2002 and 2005) at WMBR (Boston), The Troubadour (Los Angeles), CBGB's (New York), The Rotunda (Philadelphia) and The Middle East (Boston)

Track list:

1. Gentle Time
2. Glisten
3. CFT
4. Celestial
5. Improv 1 (Endless Nameless)
6. False Light
7. The Weight (Feat. Justin Chancellor and Troy Ziegler)
ISIS Live V 07.23.06
Release date: July 26, 2011
Recorded at Koko's (London)

Track list:

1. The Beginning and the End
2. The Other
3. False Light
4. Carry
5. -/Maritime
6. Weight
7. From Sinking
8. Hym

Pre-order packages available at

$5.99 - Digital download of each individual album

$20 - Digital download of all five albums
$36 - ISIS Inaugural t-shirt and digital download of all five albums
$51 - ISIS Inaugural t-shirt,
Clearing The Eye DVD and digital download of all five albums
$56 - ISIS Inaugural hoodie and digital download of all five albums
$71 - ISIS Inaugural hoodie,
Clearing The Eye DVD and digital download of all five albums

Redemption codes for each album purchase will be sent to purchaser on the respective album release date


ISIS' Wavering Radient was reviewed and well-received on No Ripcord.  You can find that review here.

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, May 08, 2011

No Ripcord: Gypsyblood

Cold In The Guestway
Sargent House
Released: 4.12.11

Letters From A Tapehead

Letter5 From A Tapehead (Happy Birthday)

May 8th, 2006, I typed my first letter as a Tapehead. 

I had no readers at the time, no real idea for or understanding of self-promotion.  Honestly, I didn't really understand how to "blog."  I just knew I wanted to write about music I'd either purchased or heard about in as opinionated, appreciative and, at times, caustic a way as I could.  I wanted a voice in the ever-widening world of music criticism, which meant having a very distinct moniker.  My wife, (then-fiancee), came up with "Letters From A Tapehead," and I liked it because, in few words, the name conveyed who I was and what I wanted to do. 

So, on May 8th, armed with a name and an idea, I pulled together a rather weak introduction.  My first review was on Death By Sexy... by Eagles of Death Metal.  There've been many since and I've hopefully improved.

A couple turning points ensued, the first of which was the PC Magazine article where I was featured as one of the best 100 blogs of 2007, (thank you always, Alan).  Once this happened, I gained some notoriety amongst a couple PR companies who started sending me press clippings and promotional materials, which was overwhelming and something I wasn't at all used to.  But, it provided me more insight into many avenues of music which might've stayed clear of my radar, otherwise. 

Then, in 2008, I joined No Ripcord as a contributing music writer and managed to write my way into a music editor position.  Through No Ripcord I was able to engage even more PR companies and record labels and was also suddenly able to review live concerts and interview musicians, breaching a gap I'd never thought possible.

From there, I was picked up by Stereokiller and Kicking Against The Pricks to contribute reviews and articles. 

Five years later, Letters From A Tapehead is the outlet that offers me creative escape from my professional life, a life that sometimes knocks the wind out of outside interests or abilities, a life that sometimes too readily defines us as people and becomes more than just what we do for a living.  With that in mind, I want to thank everyone who's helped me over the last five years, any and all readers I've gained, all the support I've received from the PR people and record labels with whom I've worked and the artists I've interviewed.  Most of all, I want to thank my wife for her patience and support and my daughter for being a constant source of amusement, joy and inspiration.

Letters From A Tapehead

Happy Mother's Day (Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?)

To all the Moms,

May you all have an amazing Mother's Day full of good meals, pampering and the comfort of friends and family.  And, may your children NEVER ask you this question.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, May 06, 2011

MF Doom: Beef Rapp

Many years ago, a good friend of mine (Thanks, Pierre) had a spell cast upon him by one MF Doom, rap eccentric extraordinaire, the likes of which was large and strong enough that it necessitated an exchange of artistic wealth. In simpler terms, I received two MF Doom care packages in the mail. The first package was a copy of Vaudeville Villain, which was bred by Doom’s alter-ego, Viktor Vaughn.

I’m not sure where the alter-ego was necessary as MF Doom’s propensity for comic book “geekery” and lyrical abstraction is alive and well in the observation and flow of Vik Vaughn. Vaudeville Villain, though, was exceptional. The production is what you want out of any hip-hop album: invention and magnetism, an outright hook that draws you in and keeps you engrossed. Doom’s on-point, though monotone, delivery is both sluggish and agile. Somehow he manages to coax the laziest syllables out of his mouth in a very exciting way. It’s paradoxical. I particularly enjoyed “Lickupon”’s usage of Isaac Hayes’ “Walk On By,” which I found more thoughtfully arranged than RZA’s outright appropriation for Wu-Tang’s “I Can’t Go To Sleep.”

The second package was a stack of MF Doom CDs, including the Madlib outing, Madvillian. This was an overwhelming amount of music to get through, and I liked most of it, but I was especially drawn to Mm.. Food, technically MF Doom’s actual follow-up to Operation: Doomsday (1999). “Beef Rapp” was a small obsession and this was because the song revisited a child memory, sampling the score from an old episode of Spider-Man.

Because it had been years since hearing this music, but it was as familiar as something I’d heard the day before, I was struggling to remember its source. I figured it out, eventually. Consequently, MF Doom is a figure of appreciation, a lyrical correspondent to my childhood obsessions, my undeniable nerdy sensibilities and my subconscious refusal to grow the fuck up. Plus, as few hip-hop/rap performers appeal to me these days, Doom reminds me that hip-hop still warrants attention and can still inspire.

I hadn’t listened to Mm.. Food or Vaudeville Villain for years until my interest was rekindled by news of Operation: Doomsday’s custom reissues, one of which is an actual lunchbox and the other is a 4-LP box set modeled after Public Image Ltd.’s Metal Box LP.

You can find info on the reissues at Stones Throw:

Operation: Doomsday — 2 CD Lunchbox

Operation: Doomsday — 4 LP Box

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...