Finally, Pavement (two shows +more)

I've been lazy about posting, but it's about the two year anniversary for this little old blog, and the fourth in Pavement's line of reissues has just come out, so the (slacker) stars have aligned. I won't blabber on too much about Pavement or their music, but I will simply say this: they were the coolest, and I was lucky enough to be there to see a good deal of it - from seeing them open for Sonic Youth in '92 to following them on around for all four Texas shows on their last tour in '99 (that's my pic of Malkmus in Houston '99 below). The T-shirt pictured here is a super-rare one from the '97 Brighten the Corners tour, with a Westie-designed tour map on the back. I've met Stephen Malkmus several times, and I'll say unequivocally that he sometimes gets a rap for being an asshole for no good reason. There's a bit of aloofness to his cool, but he's just a plain nice guy (on top of being the coolest motherfucker on the planet). Add the enthusiasm of percussionist/keyboardist/shouter Bob Nastovich, the slack hip swagger of either drummer (Gary Young on the first record, Steve Westie/Westie after that), the aw-shucks manner of bassist Mark Ibold (who is also talented enough to play alongside Sonic Youth) and the always right-on second guitar work of Spiral Stairs (who wrote a handful of Pavement tunes which I must admit never measure up to Malkmus's), and you have one of my favorite bands (and obsessions) of all time. Does anybody remember the old Pavement-Powered website (with tons of music and shows to download)? That was me.

Brighten The Corners begins the polarizing point for many Pavement fans, what some consider the beginning of the downward ride to the end, coming right off the heels of the mercurial fan-favorite Wowee Zowee - but I really think the greatness of Pavement's first three albums are the only thing that overshadow the songs on the last two, especially compared with virtually everything else in indie rock of the time (and even today). I remember Rolling Stone reviewing it at the time and declaring Pavment had finally become a "proper" band. There is a real musical sophistication that begins with Brighten The Corners, and except for a few moments like the rocking single "Stereo" it's overall a much mellower affair than their previous work. The songs seem more deliberated and have more exploratory proggish melodies

And like the rest of the Pavement reissues, this one's full of not only B-sides long cherished by hard-core fans, but plenty that even they haven't heard. For me, that gold nugget would be "Nigel". My friend Brian will instantly recognize it as the lick I play at least a third of the time I pick up a guitar (mine with Malkmus's sig is below). For years, I knew of only two live versions ever played, but something about that (C to Am to) F to G# progression was always just one of the coolest things I ever heard for some reason - I could never get over it. And finally, after nearly ten years of playing my version roughly based on a live version, I get to hear the definitive Pavement studio-recorded version, and it's brilliant:

Pavement "Nigel"

Pavement "Nigel" (live, circa 1997) (not on BTC reissue - Sorry about the bitrate)

Pavement "No Tan Lines" (originally on the Shady Lane single)

And there are 14 live radio tracks on the second disc of the expanded Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition (along with 6 completely unreleased songs, 62-page booklet, B-sides and other goodies), but unfortunately not a full concert like only the first Slanted and Enchanted reissue has had (a concert on vinyl had been available with some preorders which I'm kicking myself for missong out on). To remedy that, here is one of my absolute favorite Pavement concerts from this period. It is definitely one of the more laid-back Pavment shows I've heard, and ends with a hilarious great improv Malkmus wrote for a girl named Amanda. This was the first Pavement boot on cassette I ever received, and the first I painstakingly converted to digital in '00 when my friend Chris first got his ProTools setup. A couple years ago I found a digital version direct from the master, which was a lot clearer than my previous copies but still lacking some punch, so once again I did some limiting/EQing and whatnot. Please enjoy (don't forget you can use DownloadThemAll for ease if you're a Firefox user - see the right sidebar)

Included in the Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition is both songs Pavement performed on the cartoon Space Ghost: Coast To Coast on the Cartoon Network, without the Space Ghost interspersed in the music. Not included in the following video is Space Ghost introducing Pavement as "The Beatles", but the video really helps make it. Poor Goldie.

And for Brian, I'm sorry my blog neglect leaves you sad - here's a short set I came across recently from '92 which has some favorite old gems and which should soothe your hurt butt. Previous copies had "Loretta's Scars" as track 3, but clearly at the end of "She Believes" Malkmus announces "Loretta's Scars" coming, so I fixed that, and if you have this recording you'll notice the obviousness. Other songs and bits are clipped, however, this is just what was broadcast on French radio. Googling for info on this, I found a copy of it in somebody's boot collection with apparently twice as many songs, if anybody knows of anybody who has more of this, please email me - as well if anybody knows what the last song on the Missoula show above is, let me know. Gotta love Bob Nastovish's intro to "No Life Singed Her" on this one, even if you like your job:

2008 has been a so-so year for new music, making the Brighten The Corners 2-CD reissue a perfect stocking stuffer for the musically discriminating person on your holiday list. Buy it direct from Matador Records for 14 bucks.


The Barcelona Scene - New Music from Coconot (Pablo Díaz-Reixa / El Guincho), DC/LuvLuv, And More

I've been exploring new Barcelona music by way of El Guincho, the solo project of Barcelona-based Pablo Díaz-Reixa. While his first major (noticed) release was this year's Alegranza (drawing apt Animal Collective-meets tropicalia comparisons), his first LP Folías (more of a Panda Bear solo inspiration compared to AC) didn't draw much notice until after Alegranza had made waves, and especially after Gorilla Vs. Bear posted the album link. Folías was released on one of my new favorite labels, DC/LuvLuv (Discos Compulsivos), also from Barcelona and run by Cristian Subirà. I've been hard-up for some good new music (which seems to be in a lull right now) so I've been diving into this scene, and loving everything I've found. Cristian is also a part of Coconot, Pablo Díaz-Reixa's pre-El Guincho band, as well as other bands in the eclectic new Barcelona scene which seems to have a love of drone/avant garde/tropicalia/the best of modern indie/and some booty bass. Pablo Díaz-Reixa's cousin Alfredo Montes, who he started Coconot with, is no longer in the band, but Cristian is playing more instruments and the producer for their first album, Jens Neumaier, is now playing guitar and singing. Coconot have just finished recording a brand new album, and where their first major release, 2006's Novo Tropicalismo Errado, seemed to be Sun Ra-influenced modern-prog-yet-4onthefloor rock, on their newest Cosa Astral (judging at least from the one preview track on their myspace) they've definitely let things soak up some Mediterranean heat and coast-life flavor (and olive oil and wonderful anchovies and dried meats and papas bravas w/ garlic aioli and Gaudi and street sweepers late at night asking me for a light for their blunt amid a calm atmosphere that somehow still feels slightly charged so that it seems anything could happen but not usually in an overly dangerous way, oh man do I miss Barcelona). This first preview track definitely has me excited for the new album:

Coconot "Conservad El Rayo" (Cosa Astral)

Coconot "Argentina 2, Pablo 0" (Novo Tropicalismo Errado)

Coconot "We Travel - Eo - The Spaceways (Variaciones Sobre Un Tema De Sony'r Ra)" (Novo Tropicalismo Errado)

Coconot live a couple of years ago:

Cristian of DC/LuvLuv and Coconot also plays in other bands in Barcelona, and from what I've heard they are much more radical and experimental than anything Coconot (or El Guincho) have done, some really out-there ambient, noise, even Black Dice-type stuff. The release for the following LP states: "For some reasons I wont talk about right now Matt Ortega (Mir, Socio) moved from New Jersey to Barcelona on June 2008. There he met Cristian Subirà (Summer Recreation Camp, Coconot). They both became friends and music colaborators. The result of many jams and lofi recordings is ´Dead Geography´ a collage of sounds and rare ambients."

And Cristian is also a part of Barcelona's Gärgamel (not to be confused with the Norweigan progrock or Floridian funk metal bands of the same name), another side project definitely not in it for the money. They also, like a lot of these more experimental Barcelona bands, know both the role of repetition in creating musical altered states as well as the importance of exploring off those repetitions and constantly taking it some place new:

Gärgamel "Llet Fosca"

Gärgamel consists of Cristian Subirà and Aleix Clavera. I'm starting to see a trend here of Barcelona musicians playing in both "respectable" bands and avant-garde side projects, as Aleix Clavera (also in El Guincho's live band) plays bass in Barcelona's Evripidis and His Tragedies, who are on Barcelona label Touch Me Records (Spanish label of Castanets, Sufjan Stevens, Half-Handed Cloud), and in the UK on Rough Trade, and in the US on Darla. They're sure to appeal to fans of the crooning sounds of Jens Lekman and piano-pop of Ben Folds:

Evripidis And His Tragedies "Ru Ru, I'd Love You"

Evripidis And His Tragedies "Gregory"

And DC/LuvLuv isn't exclusively for Barcelona bands: ""Baltimore's Teeth Mountain combines driving polyrhythms with hypnotic drones to create a powerful and enigmatic sound. The instrumentation is unique: four drummers, musical saw, 'cello, microtuned keyboards and sampler. A similarly unique musical vision keeps the sound from descending
into mere gimmickry, despite the novel instrumental grouping. Members of Teeth Mountain also run the Comfort Dome, a live-in show space which hosts a wide variety of experimental music.
The band tours frequently in the United States, and has shared the stage with
(among others) The Ex Models, Dan Deacon, WZT Hearts, the Death Set and
 Marnie Stern, as well as members of Raccoo-oo-oon, Nautical Almanac and Destroy All Monsters. Teeth Mountain will be among the featured bands at Wham City's Whartscape festival this summer, and will be going on a Wham
City tour this fall with many of the above-listed bands as well as Jana Hunter,
Videohippos and other related groups.
"" RIYL: a more tribal-ish Parts & Labor

And 2/3's of this DC/Luv Luv band, from what I've read, hail from Deptford, South London, just down the road from where I lived for a year in New Cross Gate (but their myspace says Glasgow, which is grey enough to be a good stand in for my analogy if that's the case). I've read and heard about several bands from this area, which isn't necessarily the safest, it was previously a Caribbean enclave, the site of racial rioting in the past, and the scene of a few recent notable London crimes. But it's definitely cheaper than oh-so-hip Shoreditch to the north, and home to Goldsmith's College and many art students, and the Deptford Market where a main street and part of that neighborhood is transformed into what Americans call a flea market every weekend. This band were previously called On Fire and are now called Helhesten, and their music reflects the chaotic, gritty, south-of-the-Thames feel I remember coupled with an insane Boredoms-style anything-can-happen free-jazz attitude.

Helhesten Vs. Michael J. Fox:

And a Borbetomagus/Metal Machine Music style freak jam from Helhesten at one of my favorite London spots, the tiny Windmill in Brixton, South London, just a couple of months ago. Not for the faint of heart:

And DC/Luv Luv apparently has a soft spot for a small touch of booty-bass mixed with their noise, as evidenced by music from Richmond, VA's bootilicious Shams and New York City's gritty Car Clutch, who both have upcoming releases on the label

Car Clutch in london last year:

And while looking into Coconot/El Guincho/DCLuvLuv, I found this Barcelona band that I really like with the dare-to-be-googled name of Internet 2. They're on the quirky, playful side of experimentalism:

Internet 2 video for "Dar Penita" (gather the kiddies)

And there's still lots of other connections to explore - for instance Jens Neumaier of Coconot is also a member of the established Barcleona prog-jazz outfit 12Twelve:

El Guincho's Alegranza makes it's official (legal) stateside appearance October 21, order it from the link on his myspace- and El Guincho's Folías was DC/Luv Luv's first release, and it's now completely sold out, so don't waste any time in heading over there and picking up any of their other obscure eclectic releases that catch your ear before they're gone, too. Head to the DC/LuvLuv myspace for buy links, in the US they link to GoldenAge.

And to my three regular readers, sorry about the wait - if you want to keep up on this and other blogs that update sporadically get yourself an RSS reader and subscribe.


Brown And Purple Mix

I've been working on this one for a bit. It's got a couple of newer tracks, several 80's tracks (I've been on a kick for finding lost 80's gems I haven't heard), a little "old-school rock-n-roll", and other stuff. It's not too long, about 40 minutes. You're already here, might as well download it - but wait until you can listen to the whole thing at once. And turn it up a little.


Is There Life On Mars?

Yesterday NASA's Phoenix (official UofA page / NASA page) lander confirmed the existence of water on Mars. They were pretty sure it was there when they saw on camera what appeared to be chunks of ice disappearing, but yesterday the Phoenix was finally able to get a good scoop of soil inside itself, and the TEGA equipment analyzed the samples and "tasted" the water, and confirmed it. Scientists have long concluded where there's water there's life, so it may only be a short time before we have the evidence of the first lifeform discovered outside Earth. The Mars Science Laboratory (rover) will be launched in the Fall of 2009 to further study the composition of Mars.


A Mix

I made a mix for some peeps and thought I might as well share it here, a few songs from previous FP posts, but who really notices... it's a nice 'un:


Atlas Sound Live in Lisbon

Say that you're Bradford Cox [myspace]. You've already released one of the albums in the year with solo project Atlas Sound's debut full-length Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, your band Deerhunter's newest Microcastle (another triumph) is in the can and now you're asked to open up for your musical heroes Animal Collective in Europe. So, what does the prolific frontman do? Take it easy and play the new Atlas Sound album with the new band he got together who are probably just now really gelling with the material? Nahhhh. He drops the solo band, packs up the sampler used by said heroes, and emulates them in the same venues they're about to play. Atlas Sound is more gentle and airy than Deerhunter, and Cox's sound had already drawn comparisons to Panda Bear and Animal Collective, but the aping that takes place (in this set at least) here is astounding for one reason: he makes it his own and makes it work. There are times in this set when his voice and guitar and sounds are whooshing through the Roland SP-404 sampler (I confirmed it w/ flickr pics, it's the glue to Animal Collective's sound) and assorted effects pedals, and if you didn't know better you couldn't be blamed for thinking it was a Panda Bear solo set. And this is no easy feat - I don't know how much Cox used a 404 before this tour, I know he's well used to samplers, but Panda Bear has talked about having to completely relearn how to write songs after getting one (it's also the lynchpin to El Guincho's AC-similar sound). To add an extra unknown to the musical equation, AC's Avey Tare wrote on the blog entry for his micromix: ""Bradford and i have been writing lines for each other to sing in the sets on this tour. Puts a little trickery into the improvized parts of our set ill say." And then, just as Panda Bear's Ma Fama session last year ended with an untitled song-of-the-year, Cox does it, too. And not just that one, but five of these seven songs are either brand new or improvisations that the Deerhunter forum hadn't even heard yet, clearly showing Cox's sheer determination to stretch himself as an artist, and leaving me wholly impressed. And as soon as this small tour was over, without a break he was on the road with Deerhunter promoting Microcastles.

HUGE thanks to the guy who recorded this show, Stutter at Dime. He also recorded the Animal Collective set afterwards, which can be found in its lossless flac entirety here at the Live Music Archive. I won't get into the mp3/flac debate, but he originally didn't want these sets shared in mp3, but was convinced otherwise by my persuasive writing. He's got DPA microphones which are small stereo mics, small enough to wear which may have been what he was doing. Occassionally you may hear like a panning phase/whoosh on the overall sound, that's probably small body movements, or the air conditioner at the venue he hated so much, (edit: confirmed it was the air conditioning in the venue - the AC mixing with the AC) but it's weird how perfectly it fits into the overall sound. They're about 400 bucks, but damn, I think these mics might be what I'm going to look into getting. As soon as the lottery hits. Thanks, Stutter, and to smur89 for the Bradford pic in Dublin from the same European tour.

And out of respect to Stutter's great recording and thanks that he's shared it, I'm including a flac download for this one. If you plan on burning this to CD and aren't familiar with flac, now's a good time to start. Flac is basically compressed CD quality, but without the audio lossage that comes with mp3. Download Trader's Little Helper to convert ("decode") flac into CD quality wav, or there are several free apps that play or convert flac (VLC is always good for playing anything on any platform), google it. And if you want more free live lossless music and don't know where to turn, look here. Thanks again, stutter.

Atlas Sound
Lisbon, Portugal, Lux Fragil




Atlas Sound
Lisbon, Portugal, Lux Fragil

new song 1
new song 2
new song 3
Cold As Ice
On Guard
new song 4
new song 5

if you're not a fan and just curious, start with the last song.

Be sure the Deerhunter blog is in your bookmarks, it's everything you'd think a musician's blog should be: a few frank thoughts and lots of great music. LOTS of music, as in "here's a vocal sample I recorded I thought you'd like"... "here's a free EP"... "here's another free EP of things I miss at home while i'm on tour"... "here's a couple of my dad's favorite songs that I recorded for him"... Every track may not hit a bullseye, but enough do, and I have mothing but the upmost admiration for any artist so willing to share with fans the nooks and crannies of their exploration, warts and all, especially somebody who has a way with playful, primal melody like Bradford Cox does. And besides Avey's, don't miss Geo's and Panda's mixtapes done for the Deerhunter blog while they bused around Europe together (oh to be a fly on that bus, listening to vocal harmonies being traded back and forth), and all the other great music.

Buy Atlas Sound's debut Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel direct from the label, Kranky, on CD and 2xLP


Black Kids Cover Estelle

While tearing through the UK, the Black Kids stopped by Jo Whiley's BBC radio show earlier today and performed this cover of English R&B star Estelle:


New Animal Collective

(The best quality version of) A new song, and an all-round excellent quality AC boot, courtesy Dime user stutter. Get an account at Dime (check white bittorrent how-to link on sidebar if you're unfamiliar with torrenting) to listen to this entire concert in its full flac lossless slendor - one of the nicest AC boots I've ever heard, thank you, stutter. And thanks to Redheadwalking for the Panda photo from May 19, 2008, in Dublin.

Animal Collective
May 28, 2008, Lisbon, Portugal


New Jonathan Richman

Jonathan Richman has a new record out, Because Her Beauty Is Raw And Wild, and there's no other way to put it: he's grown up (and that's not a bad thing). I guess you can only keep playing "Ice Cream Man" for so long, and Richman clearly doesn't want to rest on his laurels or trademark bubblegum-folk sound. He hasn't lost his simplicity entirely, but his newer music is more sophisticated than even many long-time fans expected. There's a few deeper themes than he usually writes about here, especially the last track, "As My Mother Lay Lying", but his common themes of love, life, and dead artists ("No One Was Like Vermeer") are still present, and it's musically that he's really grown the most. His songs are still sweet and breezy and charming, but there's a certain element of European troubadour about them now. The songs wear a pencil-thin moustache and often strum and pick with a definite Spanish (classical guitar) style, there are lyrics in both French and Spanish, and the sparseness of the music (just him plus Tommy Larkins on drums, sometimes some bass) helps easily conjure the image of Jonathan leaning against a white-washed wall at sunset while playing and singing these songs. His guitar chords and scale exploration are as jazzy as they've ever been, but it's never too much, just enough to keep the songs interesting. There's even some distorted guitar lead over one of the Spanish-rhythm strummers, a repeat performance of "When We Refuse To Suffer", sounding like a dare which somehow, of course, works. Every song is a winner, this is the perfect summer album and without a doubt one of the tops of the year.

The label Vapor Records simply links to Amazon for purchase, so head over there at once. The superb Jonathan fansite Jojoblog also has news of a Jonathan Richman multilingual album commissioned by the owner of a French fashion company who is a die-hard Richman fan, and just this month released solely through them: http://www.apc.fr. Jojoblog also links to a Jonathan Richman tribute due out soon. And thanks to Diamond Geyser for the photo at the top of Jonathan last month, there's several other good ones at the link, too.


Two New New York Post-Everything Albums

Dan Friel, electronic twiddler extraordinaire of Parts & Labor, has a new solo record out. On his previous solo album there were some remnants of Parts & Labor, most noticeably the guitar, and though his usually high-pitched warble tweaking does have a recognizable sound found on everything he does, here he's clearly trying to stretch it out even further into his own realm of DIY futuristic explorations. And cognizant of the fact that not everything in a post-apocalyptic soundtrack should rock, he includes some slower numbers that paint an eeire Mad Max picture of slow swirling dust clouds vanishing into digital pixelation. Those tracks help push open new fields of more drone-y stuff for Friel, so that his trademark flickering-beat grooves (that sometimes sound like mouth harps) and swirling melodies don't get stuck in a rut. But as these two tracks show, the upbeat Friel electro-freakouts sound as fresh as ever.

And checking out Dan Friel's myspace, I noticed he was playing a gig with guitar-god Marc Ribot next month, a Ribot project I hadn't heard called Ceramic Dog. It's his new trio [with bassist Shahzad Ismaily (Laurie Anderson, Secret Chiefs 3) and drummer Ches Smith (Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant, Secret Chiefs 3, Xiu Xiu], what he calls his first rock band since high school, and as it turns out they have a brand new album out too, and I've got to say, even more than the Friel: "Holy shit." Like the Friel, there's a couple of slower numbers, but here they stretch out to epic proportions, including the spoken "When We Were Young And We Were Freaks" which sounds like it could be a Jad Fair song. There's more rollicking fun than introspection, but all the tracks have a sense of adventure musically, even when using gimmicks they are obviously trying to expand the boundaries of their art, using the familiar musical notions only as a springboard for their explorations. I hear the Sonny Sharrock influence when Ribot shreds, like on last year's release, in fact if Sonny Sharrock were alive this probably wouldn't be too far off what he would be doing. There are explosions of wailing, bursts of scales and squeals, Ribot bouncing his own melodic ideas off of one another (overdubs? I'd like to hear this live!), the whole band pumping furiously and jumping rhythms and excursions in genre-bending similar to Mr. Bungle, some fat electro-beats that could have come straight from a Trans Am album and other kitchy electro-funk Zappa-ish parts, and a Doors cover that has to be heard to be believed. It's a rare musical treat that simultaneously explores and boogies.

Dan Friel's myspace says he's opening the early show at the Knitting Factory for the Ceramic Dog record release on July 25. The Ceramic Dog myspace, however, doesn't list that date, and in fact puts them in Amsterdam on July 24. So unless they're flying to NY and playing the same day, I don't know for sure.

Get Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog - Party Intellectual,straight from the label, Pi Recordings (with other mp3s) and Dan Friel's Ghost Town straight from Important Records (mp3/viynl/CD, several more free mp3s there, too) And both labels look like great places to explore for other artists, too.


White Denim On BBC, Kicking Off European Tour

White Denim certainly don't need any hype from me - the British and European press are doing a pretty good job piling on the praise, if the review snippets on the Full Time Hobby (Hold Steady, Viva Voce) site are any measure, but I'll still wholeheartedly congratulate the local boys done good. According to this profile from Austin it-bookers Transmission Entertainment, White Denim's first proper US LP release, titled Exposion, should be out by the end of July 2008 (and it says a second album's worth of material has already been recorded!), just after they get back from this European jaunt, at which time they plan to enslave the human race and make every living man, woman, and child a dancing disciple of their junk/punk/funk. Their overseas excursion began yesterday with the following BBC set and an instore in London, and will see them hit several festivals (wtf - how long has there been a Mighty Boosh Festival???) including the storied Glastonbury Festival. Thanks to DimeADozen user paul_b35_uk, who shares an absolute ton of BBC 6 sets on Dime, for getting this set out so quickly, and to bakrsdzn for the pic. Also be sure you've downloaded White Denim's free EP here.

BBC Hub Session for George Lamb
BBC 6 Music Studio, London
June 23, 2008

All You Really Have To Do
Mess Your Hair Up

Upcoming Shows
Jun 23 2008 6:00P
In-Store Performance at Sister Ray London, UK
Jun 25 2008 8:00P
Hove Festival Arendal, Norway
Jun 27 2008 8:00P
Koko (Club NME night) London, UK
Jun 28 2008 8:00P
Glastonbury Festival (Queens Head stage) Pilton, UK
Jun 29 2008 8:00P
Glastonbury Festival (Park Stage) Pilton, UK
Jun 30 2008 8:00P
Audio Brighton, UK
Jul 1 2008 8:00P
Bar Academy Birmingham, UK
Jul 2 2008 8:00P
Plug Sheffield, UK
Jul 3 2008 8:00P
Cargo London
Jul 5 2008 8:00P
The Mighty Boosh Festival Kent, UK
Jul 6 2008 8:00P
Louisiana Bristol, UK
Jul 7 2008 8:00P
Bodega Social Club Nottingham, UK
Jul 9 2008 8:00P
The Roadhouse Manchester, UK
Jul 10 2008 8:00P
Captains Rest Glasgow, Scotland
Jul 11 2008 12:00P
Oxegen Festival Kildare, Ireland
Sep 13 2008 8:00P
Monolith Festival at Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, Colorado
Sep 28 2008 5:00P
ACL Festival Austin, Texas


Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, Tits

"By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth. " -George Carlin

To everybody wishing George Carlin "rest in peace": go fuck yourself. Just today the BBC reported a new Pew poll which showed 92% of Americans still believe in the imaginary man in the sky Carlin made a career of mocking. Is it selective memory to forget how passionately he skewered your entire false belief system? "Religion is just mind control," he said. How can religious people listen to Carlin without feeling the slightest pang of truth to what he's saying? 75% of people in this enlightened age still believe in angels, "why not goblins?" Carlin asks. Before there was the Pastafarianism that gets religious people today so riled up, Carlin declared his Frisbeetarianism, where his soul just kind of sits on a roof after death. So since Carlin can't be here to say,"shove your 'rest-in-peace' up your ass", I will. Sorry if you mean well, but you just don't get it. Like the news organizations that are repeating to death his "Seven Dirty Words" bit without showing the least bit of understanding of what it was about. It wasn't just about the dirty words, it was how people use language and the constructs of society and religion to control people while shielding themselves from the knowledge of how fucked up their actions are. He once said his job was "thinking up goofy shit," and some people may wish to focus on the goofier side of his observations (who has ever contemplated the fart as thoughtfully as Carlin?), but more than anything he was trying to wake people up and shake the bullshit of religion and societal rules off of them and get them to not only see that the bullshit stunk, but that they were responsible for the sisyphean task of piling it non-stop on each other's heads. In an age when it seems the goal of every comedy act is to move on to sitcoms and movies, that was clearly never his intention. Sure, he did side work for things like Thomas the Tank Engine, but his own comedy was never designed for the big or small screen. Those formats just wouldn't have allowed him to do what he did best: base his laughs on the deep uncomfortable truths that are too common in this fucked-up world. So go ahead and wish that Carlin rests in peace. And then go fuck yourself.

"I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it. " -George Carlin

Hilarious and relevant Carlin appearance on MadTV - "Touched By An Atheist":

"Standing ovations have become far too commonplace. What we need are ovations where the audience members all punch and kick one another.
" -George Carlin


The Joggers - Interview and New Music

So I've said, many times, my favorite group right now is The Joggers. And as I'm sure the rest of their tiny group of fans can attest, you can't listen to them for long without thinking, "Why the fuck aren't these guys more well-known?" When I bought my tickets to see them opening up for Stephen Malkmus a couple of months ago at Waterloo Records, THE independent music store in Austin, nobody there had heard of them. Yet in terms of sheer talent, there is not a more capable band in modern rock today. In terms of pushing what can be done with the standard guitar/bass/drums set-up, they are on the cutting edge few bands dare tread. The two guitars of the Joggers finger their way through chords and scales with such blazing technicality that it often sounds like several guitars playing at once. Their dissonant sound, based on a solid influence of progressive rock, was never going to sell a million records, but for them to be still virtually unheard of is a travesty. Hopefully opening up for fellow Portlander Malkmus will help spread the word.

I first heard of The Joggers on the old Pavement email list, around 2003, somebody mentioned their debut album Solid Guild. I found a mp3 of "Hot Autism", my jaw hit the floor (how could anyone's not?!?), I ordered Solid Guild from Startime, and I've been a disciple ever since. I finally got a chance to see them in 2005 when they played SXSW. I only saw the day show they did, but I'll never forget an absolutely smokin "Long Distance Runaround", and after their set I approached them, bought a replacement for the Solid Guild CD I had scratched to hell, out of the back of their van, and got them to do a radio drop for the station I was doing a radio show at at the time, and it was by far the best drop I ever got from a band:

And then I saw them when they came through Austin opening up for Pretty Girls Make Graves. They are as cool and friendly as could be, and we hung out and bullshitted a while. And we did the same after their show opening up for Stephen Malkmus on April 20. They're good friends with the guys that were in Sound Team, and we hung out with Jordan from Sound Team at the show and then went back to the audio-playground-compound called Big Orange and there was another Austin friend of theirs there named Paul, who thought he was the Joggers #1 fan (I forgot to mention I made their wikipedia page, Paul, I win, haha). Dan Wilson's a pretty crazy guy - I had told them my story about the first time I smoked salvia and Dan was all, "did you bring any? I'll smoke that shit right now, I'm only mid-twenties, I don't give a fuck," but I don't know if making him like THIS would be what he had in mind. All the guys in the Joggers have zero ego, which I guess is one of the bonuses of not having a lot of success. Jake wears a fanny-pack with confidence, assuring me that "the girls love it," and I gotta admit, even with cargo shorts I sometimes don't have the room to hold all my crap and I sometimes wish I gave a fuck less enough to wear one. I'm not quite their yet, Jake, but I salute you.

And then I caught Ben and Darrell at the tail end of the night:

FP: So, opening for Stephen Malkmus is pretty cool, how many shows are you going to be opening for him?

Ben: 10, out of about a three week tour. We're taking a few days and playing some shows not with him in Lubbock, TX, and Arcata, CA, and we did some on the way down, too. But opening up for Stephen Malkmus is exciting, he was a big fixture in all of our musical education, or diseducation or whatever, so it's really cool.

FP: I've read a couple of interviews where Stephen Malkmus says he plays softball with guys from the Joggers and the Shins.

Darrell: Yeah, we're called Disjecta. Jake and I are on the team, and Stephen, and a few other guys.

FP: What position does Stephen Malkmus play?

Darrell: He's the second baseman.

FP: And you and Jake?

Darrell:: I play third base, Jake's an auxillary guy, he'll sometimes play catcher, sometimes the rover, or fourth outfielder.

FP: How did y'all's team do?

Darrell: We won the championship game!

FP: And what are you called again, Disjected?

Darrell: Disjecta. It's an art studio that our friend Brian runs. It's like an.. art space, that moves venues, and they have exhibits and put on shows and stuff like that. And the other big team in the league is the Portland Free Mercury, which is like the local free press... and they have like the most badass team. Greg Glover, who does Arena Rock Recording Company, he's a serious fucking softball dude, but I think he retired this year. But anyways, their team's always been really good, and for as long as I've been in the league, for about three years, the Mercury's always the best, they win it every time. But Disjecta beat 'em twice this year and won it, so now we're the hated squad in the league.

[note: On the Portland Free Mercury Press page reporting on Disjecta's triumph (with pic of the team), as the page was loading I noticed something funny: the text description tag for the pic, that is visible for a split second before the image starts loading, described the picture as "Disjerkta"]

FP: What's the news on your eagerly awaited third album?

Ben: Well, we parted ways with our record label.

FP: Startime?

Ben: Well, here's where it gets confusing. We were on Startime, but then Startime was sort of bought by Vagrant, which is a bit bigger label. But then they themselves were bought, as far as I understand it, by Universal. So we were on a label that was a subsidiary of a subsidiary, and it got kind of convoluted. The guy who signed us originally, Isacc Green, who's always been a good friend to us in innumerable ways, he seemed to be kind of in the process of leaving Startime, as they became a part of Vagrant, and we put out "A Cape And A Cane" with them, with the understanding that if Isaac wasn't around, that we weren't going to do it.

FP: Isaac WAS Startime, was he not?

Ben: He is, it was his label. But from what I understand, they weren't doing super great in terms of dollars, so he went off, and now Startime is sort of in stasis.

FP: He did have some marketable bands for a while, the Walkmen, the French Kicks...

Ben: They did have some marketable releases, but they also had a lot of stuff that didn't sell. Including us.

Darrell: And he did some weird shit like put out that Northern State CD, it was like this female rap group that was so terrible. He was trying to bring in some funds, you know?

Ben: Specific bands aside, it just seemed like the original idea that he had for the label was changing in a way we weren't very comfortable with. And also partnering up with Vagrant was not that cool, particularly because they were owned by Universal. I'm not saying we're puritans, it's just that we didn't feel any camaraderie or kindred spirit with a lot of the bands on Vagrant. I'm not trying to slag them, it just wasn't our scene. And they had the option to put out our third record, but we asked to leave, and they said fine, they didn't put up a fight. Isaac runs another label called Almost Gold, that's what he does now. I don't know how much of that is his or how much he's an employee or what. And so we're looking. We're terrible procrastinators, and we have a really hard time finishing songs and recording when there's not a really firm deadline that a relationship with a label can provide. Particularly if they put some money down for a studio, you have to give them something. Whereas if you're just recording the way we have been for the last year - the occasional weekend here and there, in a friend's basement, an ad-hoc computer setup, it's very, very, very convenient to put it off. And I'm a constant ditherer. So having those deadlines was really productive.

FP: You do have a lot of new songs, though, that I've heard live versions of, there must have been half a dozen new ones tonight, and new songs you've put up on Myspace...

Ben: Actually some of them are old songs that we've not played for a long time, some are brand new. And we're still writing....

Darrell: And we also have a few new songs, too, that we just decided we didn't want to perform, that we just weren't in love with, so we're still kind of going through everything and figuring out what we like and what we don't.

FP: How much does Ben write songs and how much is collaboration?

Darrell: It's more written like he writes a lot of the parts and then we arrange them. It's like he's has a riff, and we just play all of these riffs together. A hundred riffs, And then we'll be like well, 'what if we put that one with this one, does that work?', you know, it didn't really work, and then we just kind of arrange them as a group.

Ben: Yeah, I'll bring in a lot of riffs, and then we arrange them together, and then usually vocals last. I've been trying to do vocals first, but it's never happened.

FP: Your lyrics are often seem abstract, kind of cryptic like Stephen Malkmus's.

Ben: I think he's a great lyricist. I don't intentionally try to be cryptic. To me, personally, my lyrics makes sense on a level that connects with me. I know it's not "I wanna sex you up" or whatever, or who knows, maybe I should write that, I don't know. A lot of my favorite bands have lyrics that are perhaps more abstract, that's just what I connect with more often. I like bands that are very literal with their words, too, but... I think Malkmus is a great lyricist, I think his lyrical innovations were just as strong as his guitar innovations were. And I think that's a part of music that's not fully explored, what lyrics can do. It's interesting to me how some bands try to do everything under the sun with their bass, guitars, drums, same standard setup, which we consciously included because it works, it's a very efficient thing, you have rhythm, high-end, low, there's a reason why it's it's a popular configuration. But I also feel it's amazing that bands spend so much time of their instruments and so little time of what to me seem like tossed-off lyrics, that are so cliched, you know? And I guess my hope is that even if my lyrics aren't good, at least they're not cliched. But... maybe I do that too, I don't know, it's hard to say

FP: Is it a relief having music not be the day job, with no deadline, where you just have all the time you want to work on your songs?

Ben: I thought it would be, but for me personally, I'm such a terminally ambivalent person that's it's not terribly helpful. Having this tour was really cool, because we worked really hard this last month to finish stuff, so we could have new stuff on tour. But without a record company it's hard to stay on track. When you're indebted to someone financially, you work a lot harder, if they're paying your bills. I'm not saying that's an ideal situation or whatever... right now Darryl works as a tile guy, I was working as a copy editor for corporate spam, Jake's a pizza dude, Dan's a coffee guy. Those are the things that pay the bills, so that has to be the priority. It's tough. I mean I'm 30. I'm not 40 or 50, but I'm not 20, either. I don't want to peg things to age, because it is largely irrelevant, but at the same time when you're young you can go through the kind of constant upheaval to employment, and housing, that touring often creates with a lot of aplomb, or grace, or obliviousness or something. But yeah, it's tough, and it makes you long for some form of just being able to pay the rent. And there are ways to do it in music. I've heard of bands that just tour for 300 days out of the year no matter what, but that's tough, too. I had to quit my job to go on this tour, so I have that to deal with when we get back, it's tough.

Darrell: But we just need more deadlines, we're more productive when they're in place. Otherwise it never ends.

Ben: And that's what the experience has been for the last year and half, or longer. I have at least two hundred riffs on my computer. I remember a quote from Lou Barlow, he said, "The only talent I have is finishing songs," and I love that quote because I think there's a real truth to that. Anybody can come up with some cool stuff, but taking that little bit and kind of bringing it through, to complete things, is a real asset in music. But I take a lot of blame for being really slow about things.

Darrell: You're slow about a lot of stuff.

Ben: Yeah, I know.

Darrell: It's just the way you cruise. And that's cool.

Ben: Yeah, I think we are slackers in a way. We've been together for what, seven years? Yeah, and it's always just been productive when we're under the gun. in a way we want that situation again.

Darrell: Well I think, and I hope you don't mind me saying so, but I think that Murphy did bring a lot to the table when he was in the group.

Ben: He did.

Darrell: And we might have had more ideas then. Not that Dan doesn't bring a lot of ideas, but Murphy was just really serious about spending a lot of his time coming up with stuff and bringing it to us

Ben: Dan's very much a part of the band, and is committed, but I think he enjoys more the performance part of it. Murphy was definitely more focused on the big picture and writing material and finishing songs.

Darrell: He and Ben had a competitive thing going, on many different levels, but seriously, I don't know if you feel the same way, Ben, but... he wanted to compete with the riffs that Ben brought to the practices. And he worked really hard to try and bring worthy material, and he did. But like if Murphy went out and bought a sweet amplifier, Ben had to go out and buy one that was even sweeter, you know? But the competitive thing was beneficial for moving forward, bettering the group.

Ben: Yeah, he was really great about having us being productive, you know? And you know... Murphy's a really good guy... and... basically I said I didn't feel comfortable playing with him any more, because the chemistry between us, it's a really long story, but it was off in some way, you know. It was a personal chemistry thing. It was never about his guitar playing or his commitment to the band, because he was great in those regards, but it just, it wasn't working. And I've questioned myself, on whether I maybe made him a scapegoat... and perhaps I did. It's hard for me to say. I do love Dan, I don't regret having taken him on. It's just personal chemistry.

FP: How did y'all hook up with Dan?

Darrell: Our friend Charlie, who's in the band Panther. Charlie at the time played in a band called The Planet The, and Dan's college band opened for them one time. After Murphy left, we put the word out that we were looking for a guitar player, and Charlie came to us and was like "this band opened for me, this kid is great, like he can play."

FP: What were they called?

Ben: They were called Workout

Darrell: Yeah, Workout. And Charlie was like, "he can play whatever you guys do, he can play anything," and we thought "oh, that's interesting," and asked him to play. He never heard of us, we gave him a couple of CDs. He was like "yeah, this sounds OK"... he wasn't even like "yeah, I want to do this, you guys are great," he was like, "yeah, that sounds pretty cool... whatever... if you guys are going on tour I'll go with you,"

Ben: That's pretty much the way it's been for the last three years

Darrell: But I think he's grown to really like it, like the music.

FP: Do y'all still talk to Murphy:

Ben: Oh yeah.

FP: What is he doing?

Darrell: He's in enginering school. He started a band after us called Ghost Money, they played for a while, but then he got really thick into school, and he got married, and he's got about a year and a half left before he's an engineer, and he's pretty happy doing that. But it takes up most of his time. When I see him, he's like, "I can only have a beer or two, and then I gotta go do homework. He's busy, just doing homework all the time, and working full-time.

FP: How's married life treating you, Darrelll?

Darrell: It's great, as great as unmarried life.

FP: Is this your first tour since you've been married?

Darrell: Um, shit, I think it is, yeah.

FP: She's not worried about Joggers' groupies?

Ben: She knows they don't exist.

Darrell: I don't know, I was talking to her earlier and she asked, "Are there girls around?" and I'm like, "No, seriously, it's just like nerdy dudes at a recording studio hanging out." But I've been with her since the Joggers first started playing, so it's really no different. She's great.

FP: I noticed you didn't have much problem playing tonight, your hockey injury seemed to be healed.

Darrell: At first, right after the injury, it felt a bit weird, but lately I haven't felt it, it hasn't been a hindrance at all.

Ben: Do you feel it a little?

Darrell: I'll feel it a little bit, like when I need to hold a note in a specific place, it feels different, but it doesn't hurt or anything.

Ben: Do you have sensation it in totally?

Darrell: No, it's numb in parts.

FP: But when are you going to use it to finish up that third album?

Ben: Would you say we're hoping to find a label?

Darrell: We're hoping to find a label we're thrilled to be on. And if that doesn't happen, it seems at least to me, I'm comfortable just doing what we're doing

Ben: Yeah

Darrell: recording on our own, and putting things out when we can get them done.

FP: Hopefully this tour brings you some extra exposure, as well.

Darrell: We have opened up on medium-big tours before, when Solid Guild came out we opened up for Hot Hot Heat. And we were really young and excited about it, and we thought we'd get exposure and people would love it, it just didn't really didn't happen that way.

Ben: What's exciting about Stephen Malkmus is like I was saying before, he's a pretty big part of a lot of our musical upbringing. So to play with him is pretty sweet. It feels like an honor, you know?

Darrell: It's great. And when we first thought we were asked to do it, we were all like "wow".

Ben: I was like softball must be going great!

Darrell: Yeah, we were like "If that could happen, it would be awesome." And then we didn't hear from anybody for a while, and we weren't sure any more. And then Jake ran into Stephen Malkmus at a coffee shop, and he was like "you guys are opening up, right?" So here we are.

Ben: My hope I guess is that when we play with these different bands like Hot Hot Heat, and that tour was them us and the French Kicks, and we love the French Kicks, we're really good friends with those guys, so that was fun on a number of different levels. And then for Cape and A Cane we went on tour with Pretty Girls Make Graves, and that was a situation that I wouldn't say was forced upon us, but it wasn't something we felt totally comfortable about, but we did it anyways. And I guess we didn't feel a great connection between our music and their music. I hope people can see that we're excited to be playing with Stephen Malkmus, and that this isn't another tour that's just glued-on the way that a lot of tours are put together. The Pretty Girls Make Graves tour put us off touring for a while, it didn't feel good, you know? And this band doesn't make any money, so if you're not making any money why do something that doesn't make you feel good?

FP: Well, there is something dissonant about your music that will never allow you to be poppy in a Hot Hot Heat sense, but that last song you played tonight did seem to have somewhat of a steady, disco-ish dance-rock feel.

Darrell: That's actually an old song

Ben: We've thrown together a bunch of old and new ones, and that one is - I'm a huge Polvo fan, so that was... when I've been influenced by their tunings that was one I wrote like that. I mean it's no Polvo tune, but...

Darrell: rhythmically speaking, it does have that kind of disco groove, though.

Ben: Well, but that song's five years old. I guess maybe we're more comfortable playing with older ideas now, I don't know. It just seemed like we wanted to bring as much fun stuff as we could, and that seemed fun.

Darrell: We have never recorded that song, but we've had it for a long time, and we were trying to get a setlist down for this tour, and it worked.

Ben: We called it Open-C Fast for years, and now it's called "I'm Ready For My Bath". It's weird to see old material surface.

FP: So is there going to be a third album?

Ben: I really hope so. I hope so. I hope that our doubts don't overcome our enthusiasms, which is sometimes the case. I hope we find a situation that will let us finish stuff faster, instead of doing it over seasons. It's not like we're trying to write "Dark Side of The Moon" or anything, or in the studio all day long. We just have limited time to throw at it

Darrell: And the amount of time it takes to come with it is substantial, so if you don't have all day to throw at it, there's only so much you can do.

FP: Have y'all considered releasing any singles or EPs?

Darrell: yeah, but I guess it seems like we want to hold out and wait until we have enough for a record, you know?

Ben: I think that's the thing, that we're so slow as writers that do to an EP or something, while cool, it's like "why don't we just wait until we have enough to finish an album"

Darrell: It feels like a copout somehow.

FP: So there probably won't be an album this year, then?

Darrell: I can probably guarantee there won't be an album by the end of this year.

Ben: I hope we can find a connection, within ourselves or some other entity that will make it happen soon.


At the merchandise counter, the Joggers had the T-shirt pictured at the top (epic logo, btw guys) and a tour-only CD, featuring their first released material since 2005's With A Cape And A Cane. Each one was hand-made and featured a different collage of pasted cut-up pictures and stamps. I had to go for the one I affectionately think of as "Elliott Gould Orgy". These two are definitely among the mellower tracks I've ever heard from the joggers:

And I've emailed with a guy who recorded both shows that night with a proper set-up, but I've so far been unable to get a hold of the recordings. Sorry for the delay in this post, I wanted to try to include the night's show in this post. I did bring a crappy personal recorder, so I'll share at least one song from the night, the closing track, again it's not a great quality recording, but since it may be the only live Joggers East Coast fans hear this year:

And if you don't own both of the Joggers' masterpieces, you can buy them direct from the band, and if you own them both, go get Solid Guild on vinyl (while you still can).

btw, thanks, Noah, for the heads up about the Cajun Gems. The indie-folk Joggers side project has, from comments on their site and myspace, apparently signed with NY's Partisan Records, who list Cajun Gems as one of their bands. The Partisan Records own site appears to be coming soon, and they write on their myspace blog: "The first 2 records on Partisan will be an expanded version of Holy Sons "Decline of the West" and the new Standard record "Swimmer"; both will be released in August." The Joggers as well as Cajun Gems are on the Partisan myspace page, so maybe Partisan is looking to sign the Joggers as well, but no word of a definite release by either of them at this point.