Used to be, girl singers rode on busses, undressed with the door ajar,
drank liquid gin, swore good. Were equal parts pretty paint, agressive,
swinger, porter, promoter, and hooker. Most had bad arches. Plus six
teal blue ball gowns with ripped hems. No more.
- Stan Cornyn
The Indie List Digest
Volume 3, Number 1
January 4, 1994
Princeton - Seattle - Ann Arbor - Raleigh
[Note for those keeping score at home - Yeah, we've started a new
volume. I figure the start of the year is as good a time as any...
since V.2 started at some random point last spring when Mark was
fiddling with automating the List to some extent. BTW, in the grand
scheme of things, this is Indie-List #75. (Volume 1 = 32 issues, Volume
2 = 41 issues, plus the 1992 year-end blow-out: 74. So this one is 75.)
Weird, huh? - Sean]
In this issue:
intro to harriet records
I-Lister Lyndsey Watt comes to visit
Band Of Susans Shameless Self Promotion
Tons of record reviews
Reviews by chrisk!
What I Got For Xmas Reviews
Ruins at the Knitting Factory
Subject: Swob tidbits + more
and a special I-L quiz (oh boy!)
And, a word from your friendly neighborhood grumpy-man...
Harrumpf. It's a new year, according to the calendar. But it doesn't
feel much different to this little mumbling person. Even record
shopping doesn't excite me any more. (Sure, I go through this every
couple of months, but why?)
Anyway, the only real news of import is that once again, the Simple
Machines crew has managed to schedule their big party at the same time
as a MAJOR show in New York.
January 8, at the Threadwaxing Space (on Broadway, below Broome)
The Drag City Three-Peat. Royal Trux, Palace Brothers, and Red Crayola.
Notes on the show:
1. I don't dig Trux live (or on record since Twin Infinitives) but the
are the "Drag City Flagship Band".
2. Last I heard, this would be only Will Oldham (the singer) with maybe
a couple people backing him up, not the Slint-o-riffic Palace Brothers
3. DAMN! Mayo Thompson, David Grubbs, John McEntire. Will they
actually record with this line-up? Please? (I honestly have high hopes
for this collaboration - Pere Ubu was already starting downhill when they
hooked up with Thompson in the early 80s...)
If I hadn't already committed to going to DC (a Bricks reunion is too
much for me to pass on... :) then I'd most definitely be at this show.
All in the greater NYC area had best get their asses down there. :)
(During the "Lotsa Pop Losers" fest, it was the WFMU Benefit concert
with Sonic Youth, Love Child, Half Japanese/Jad Fair, and others in
NYC... I spent a good bit of time mumbling about it to people, and most
were like, "well, sorry, um, that's not what we consider a local show,
you know?" and I was a little sad (but not too sad - I finally got to
see Tsunami and Unrest and the Swirlies and Eggs...hey, that sounds like
the line-up for the Working Holiday party... :)
For those heading to DC - I'll be there the whole time, wandering around
aimlessly. I'll try to set up a table (or at least grab part of someone
else's table) as the "I-L Booth" - I'll print up some old issues for
people to check out, along with various info about the musical options
out here on the Internet. Stop by and say "hi" if I'm around. Quick
description - 5'10", ~180 lbs., very short brown hair, blue-ish eyes,
and I don't look like a typical "punk" or "goth" or whatever - I can
almost pass for mainstream (except that my flannel doesn't cost $45 and
my boots aren't shiny and new, right out of the box). [So, how did you
do on the questionnaire? :)]
Oh well, back to the grindstone.
From: Timothy Alborn
intro to harriet records
Hello, since I've just joined this list (my first-ever list!) I thought
I'd get the info-about-myself stuff out of the way (otherwise known as
self-promotion, since I do run a record label and I do write it off on my
IRS returns). Label's called Harriet: named after Louise Fitzhugh's
Harriet the Spy; mainly seven-inchers. Recent stuff includes a CD called
"Ankle Deep" by Wimp Factor 14 (recently broken up -- soon to sort-of
reform as VEHICLE FLIPS); also singles by the Ampersands (from Australia)
and (as a co-release with Globe Commodities) a single by WF14 called
"Miracle Mile." Crayon CD and three singles by bands you've never heard
of out in March (one includes F. Bruno and J. Darnielle). There's10 lines.
I also do an absolutely free fanzine called Incite!, which I'm hoping
doesn't count as self-promotion, since all I do there is rave about other
bands, and so forth. What that does require is a stamp, since I do this
on actual paper: so you need to write me at PO Box 649, Cambridge MA
-- The Hattifatteners should sing in Finnish all the time; otherwise,
conceptually the most satifying event of 1992. Moomincore, indeed. The
only T. Jansen book (I think) that I haven't read yet is "Tales from
Moominland", [I think that's "Tales From Moominvalley" - Lena] but I'm
sure there's more. (Mr. Wolk, who seems to be a regular in these parts,
can tell you more, I'm sure).
-- Am I the only one who guiltily loves the new Erik Voeks CD? I can't
seem to get it out of my head: sometimes it sounds like the Spinanes,
usually like Game Theory. Every bit as catchy as the first Police album,
I'd say. And that song about the dentist really struck a nerve (so to
speak) coming as it did two weeks before my first-ever bout with root
canal surgery. (on Rockville, one of the few labels I know of that os
named after the city it's in: this whole mob connection befuddles me.)
-- New Randall Lee stuff on FGAO should not be missed. I'm especially
taken by "Love in a Bakery" on the Ashtray Boy CD, which in general
reminds me of the Sam Neale character in The Piano. Does anyone know if
John Henderson has actually moved to Minnesota, and if so how to reach
him? That Chicago address on all his new "product" is befuddling.
Happy new year.
Tim Alborn (Alborn@harvard.edu).
From: K. Lena Bennett, Slacker Goddess
In response to Tim's comments about the Moomintroll books:
Actually, I believe all Moomin topics should be referred to me, as the
resident Moomin fanatic (forgive me Douglas), and here's a few facts:
It's spelled Jansson (pronounced Yonson), and the ones I've read are:
_Moominsummer Madness_, _The Exploits of Moominpoppa_, _Moominland
Midwinter_, _Comet in Moominland_, _Finn Family Moomintroll_, and
_Moominvalley in November_. Some of these are out of print, but
_Moominpoppa at Sea_ is in print, so I guess I'll get to read at least one
more. If anyone has access to some of the other out-of-print books and
you'd like to sell them to me, get in touch.
Anyway, I'd also like to know the address of the label that put out a 10"
called "It's Food At Best" by a group from California called Little My.
Then I can complete my Moomincore collection.
"Yeah, you know who I mean/Talkin' about those cow machines." - Mtn. Goats
From: Kathleen M Billus
I-Lister Lyndsey Watt comes to visit
Just thought I'd tell you about our visit with Indie-Lister Lyndsey Watt
just before Christmas. Lyndsey and I have enjoyed an almost daily private
e-mail correspondence starting sometime this past summer. Lyndsey told me
about how he was embarking on a long World Tour and would it be okay if he
called when he got to the U.S. Of course. Of course. So, Lyndsey called
a few times: once from NYC and twice from Boston. I felt so sorry for
Lyndsey because he was wholly roughing it--taying in hostels the whole
time. I invited him to stay with Lou and me for at least one night.
Well, Lyndsey arrived, with Scottish shortbread in hand. He thought it a
cheesy gift; we thought it cute. We played DJ for him, purveying such new
delights such as Slint (he'd never actually heard them), a fairly new
Wiija 7" compilation with my beloved Linus, the new Element of Crime 7"
and lots more that I'm forgetting right now. Lyndsey's World Tour, BTW,
includes some destinations in Africa. He'll be travelling during the
months ahead. Not sure when he actually returns to Scotland, but I hope
that he'll be able to regale us with tales of his adventures.
From: Robert Poss
Band Of Susans Shameless Self Promotion
I'm new to the Indie-List, new to the internet and/but feel compelled to
say a brief hello from my group Band Of Susans. If anyone is curious about
B.O.S. and/or wants any information about what we're up to, how to get
current/back catalog, t-shirts, press clippings, etc., please feel free to
contact me via E-mail and/or at the following address: Robert Poss c/o
Trace Elements, 172 East 4th Street #11D, New York, NY 10009. I also
run/own a tiny (I mean tiny, microscopic) lunatic fringe label called
Trace Elements -- we've put out records by electronic music composer and
aging whiz kid Nicolas Collins and a few others. The label has been
dormant lately (our last release was in 1992); it's sort of an ad hoc
thing. I hope to put out something in 1994....It's mostly a question of
time and money, money and time.
In 1993, B.O.S. released VEIL, our 4th full length LP, did 18 weeks of
touring between mid-March and early November (playing in 20 or 30 states
in the U.S., England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, The Netherlands,
Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia) including a fun show ("The Lost
Weekend") we did in London with the Afghan Whigs, Stereolab and Scrawl.
We've been asked by Blast First (our one-time U.K. label and the former
U.K. home of Sonic Youth, Big Black, Butthole Surfers, A.C. Temple, Ut,
Dinosaur Jr., et al) and others to put together a compilation record
("greatest hits" hardly seems appropriate) which will include one disk of
"hits" and one disk of all of our instrumentals. Presumably, Restless (in
the U.S.) and Rough Trade Germany (in Europe) will also release this
record. Also in the works is a record (EP) that B.O.S. bassist Susan
Stenger and I will be doing with Wire guitarist Bruce Gilbert (to be
recorded in London some time this spring) and a record of new B.O.S.
material, to be recorded late this spring (if we ever start writing new
material)...and then more touring (if our finances/dayjobs, etc. allow).
As for background (for any of you still reading this treatise), we started
in mid-1986, put out our first record in early 1987, toured with Wire,
Dinosaur Jr. and Rapeman in 1988, toured with Throwing Muses in 1989, with
the Mekons in 1992, etc. etc. We have seven records out (including an EP
that has our two Peel Sessions on it). I have access to some of the
earlier, hard-to-find-in-the-U.S. releases in case anyone is interested.
I do have this awful habit of sending out all kinds of free stuff to
people -- stuff that I should be selling -- and undercutting our own
record/t-shirt sales. Oh well; I warned you.
My current favorite "new" band is Kustomized. My favorite guitars are G&L.
Oh yeah: a short list of (now) famous people who used to be in Band Of Susans:
Susan Lyall -- costume designer who works with the likes of/for Jodie Foster,
Harvey Keitel [when he's not naked - Lena], Michael Apted, Jamie Lee
Curtis, Steven Soderbergh and many other big time Hollywood names too
numerous to mention.
Page Hamilton -- now in a band called Helmet.
From: Theodore Andrew Khoury
Hi, this is ted, I'm moving to Austin, TX in January, and I'll subscribe
then, but I've made some purchases that I wanted to share:
Garage Monsters- "Safari to Mumbooba!" This is one of the numerous Clint
Ruin-Thirwell-Foetus projects. Its a 'Piz'-packaged Sympathy 10" and only
has 3 songs but they rock well in the vein of the Steroid Maximus project,
very much alike: a lot of big drums being hit very hard and wild 40's
swing horns yapping throughout. Rec'd.
Naked City: "Torture Garden" a shimmy disc release that Kramer had some-
thing to do with, but noted as being John Zorn's brainchild after numerous
trips to Japan. Its got Fred Frith on bass, and Bill Frisell on guitar,
and Eye (Boredoms) on Vocals. It completely rocks, just hearing Frisell
play flashy licks makes it alone, but its nowhere near the force of
Boredoms, without Eye it would lack, has 20+ songs most under 60 sec.,
about 25 min in length. Buy if you dig PainKiller. Rec'd
Sonny Sharrock- "guitar" an Enemy release, Laswell produced. More mellow
then his band collaborations, especially being that its just guitar, but
its one of his first solo releases; interesting guitar playing, don't
expect the darkness of Last Exit.
Sun Ra- "Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 1" An ESP CD rerelease. This was
originally the first album Sun Ra did with ESP, in 65', and some of his
early solo work. Great buy, if you get a chance, ESP has just re-released
tons of Sun Ra, and some Albert Ayler too, it is all worth picking up.
This album has an eerie tone throughout, and some brilliant piano from s.
Godheadsilo- (kill rock stars 7" ep) Some of the most amazing stuff I've
heard lately. Very Unsane like but not quite as structured: loose-liquored
vocals, well distorted, and a sound of 10 basses,heavy drums too. The
stuff is dark and the band is only two guys. A must buy. Also well worth
it: the split Hammerhead/Godheadsilo on OXO.
Zeni Geva- "Disgraceland 7"" (alternative Tenacles) not much in common
with their Japanese contemporaries, pretty straight forward heavy and
doomy, with a lot of guitar (no bass). Side A, great heavy hooky-doom
sound, Side B: grindcore like drums and vocals, not as good as A-side.
worth picking up, Anyone heard the new album yet.
Urban Farmers- "Draggin" (Tape release by Uprising Records) An instro-trio
from MI, in the fusion-core punk catagory. The drumming is phenomenal
throughout, as is the musicianship of the git/bassist. Very diverse songs
on tape, sometimes Don Cabellero simillar. from Dregs-like git to
Heavy-mid-eastern tunings.Rumor has it they'll be on the next Uprising
four-band 7" comp. Definitley worth picking up if there are any left.
address: Uprising Records, P.O. Box 4412, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-4412
I just realized that I forgot to include the addresses of these labels, so
if anyone is interested in addresses of the rest let me know and I'll get
them to you A.S.A.P. Let's see some more diversity besides Yo La Tgo show
From: Jon Pecot
Tons of record reviews
Well, this is my very first Indie-List posting after over a year of
lurking. Due to Christmas presents and a wild spending spree on my part, I
am overloaded with music. Thought I might as well review the stuff while
I was at it. I typed it all up and it was way too long, so I cut it in
two. Here's the first half. More to come next issue... Hope you enjoy.
The 6ths _Heaven in a Black Leather Jacket/Rot in the Sun_
Robert Scott from the Bats singing Stephin Merritt songs. If you
like the newer Magnetic Fields stuff, you'll like this. If you don't like
Magnetic Fields, this won't change your mind. I like it, myself. ***1/2
(Merge, P.O. Box 1235 Chapel Hill, NC 27514)
Dump, 5 Song 7"
James McNew from Yo La Tengo's side project. I really like this.
Lo-fi pop songs. "Nothing Left" and "Christmas Card" are really good,
"Down to the Sea in Ships" is rather boring, "Pennies from Heaven" is near
hardcore with a lock groove at the end, and "Snowman" is the best song on
the single. Highly recommended ****1/2 (18 Wheeler Records, P.O. Box
4256, Dunellen, NJ 00812)
Ruby Falls _Angels Two/Special_
Unimpressive angular guitar pop. I had heard great things about
these New York folks. What's the big deal? ** (Spartadisc, 117 North
Fifth Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211-3240)
Unwound _Fake Train_
I read somewhere (it might have been here) that Unwound sounded
like Versus. WRONG!!! Way too hard and noisy to be Versus. So, this
wasn't quite what I expected, but it has grown on me. "Dragnalus" and
"Nervous Energy" are in particular really cool songs. Sorta like
Pitchblende with garbled vocals and less rhythm changes. ***1/2 (Kill Rock
Stars, 120 NE State #418, Olympia, WA 98501)
The Dentists _Powdered Lobster Fiasco_
Really catch, happy British pop. Nice Wedding Present-ish guitar
crunch on a few songs, and slower pretty songs too. Guitarist Bob Collins
thanks a bunch of bands who influenced him in the liner notes, and among
them are the Beatles, the Buzzcocks, the Wedding Present, and the Smiths.
I think that sums up their sound pretty well. **** (Homestead Records.
Sorry, don't know the address)
Smog _Julius Caeser_
I saw Smog a few months ago with Karl Hendricks Trio and Paint
(the cool new band of Jina Yi, formerly of Loreili) and they really
impressed me. Psychedelic, slow pretty songs. They sound very different
on this album. Much more lo-fi, losing a lot of the pyschedelia, and much
more mellow in a Palace Bros. kind of way. Still, very good if you like
sparse, strange songs. A few at the end are achingly beautiful in a way I
haven't heard since _Weed Forestin'_. **** (Drag City, P.O. Box 476867,
Chicago, IL 60647)
Guided by Voices _Vampire on Titus/Propeller_
Totally F-in' amazing. I had never heard of these guys, and now I
see them everywhere. (By the way, there's a great article in the new
_Puncture_ about them.) This is really really really good. Lo-fi,
eclectic, artsy, catchy, brilliant songs. Plus, they're from DAYTON! My
sister and brother live in Dayton! Nothing's in Dayton! I'm ready to
find their other four albums now. ****1/2 (Scat Records, 5466 Broadway
#200, Cleveland, OH 44127)
Belt Buckle four song 7"
Belt Buckle is Bob Fay, Eric Matthews, and Lou Barlow. Lou Barlow
could release an album of armpit noises and I would probably think that it
was brilliant, so I may not be the most objective person to review this.
It's OK. Four sorta throw-away songs, but they are all good. Non-Lou
fans will probably think that this is crap, though. ***1/2 (Sonic
Bubblegum, 157 Murdock St. #3, Brighton, MA 02135)
Hope this wasn't too much at once for you. Have a Happy New Year!
Jon Pecot firstname.lastname@example.org
From: Chris Khoury
Reviews by chrisk!
Hi, here some reviews I've been meaning to type up and send to Indie
List.. Enjoy -c
Don Caballero-For Respect (Touch and Go)
I really like these guys. If you haven't heard yet, this band is all
instrumental. Really good instrumental rock bands are hard to come by
(Urban Farmers and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet are two). This is their
first LP release. Most of the songs are on the harder/faster edge, with
really chunky, and exciting guitar parts. Lots of stops, starts, and big
bursts of energy throughout the album. However, the album seems boring
compared to their live show. Don't pass up the chance to see them live,
and check out some of their singles and this LP. ****
King Kong-Old Man on the Bridge (Homestead)
This is an LP from a band out of Louisville, KY, and has some former
members of Slint in it. If you've heard Slint, don't expe King Kong to be
anything like them. This is a pretty lo-fi, simplistic album with funny
(borderline BAD) lyrics and a pretty cheesy sounding guitar. Pretty
uninteresting over all. ** 1/2
Tar-Toast (Touch and Go)
This is Tar's latest album out. They're from Chicago and their main
gimmick is their "handcrafted, aluminum" guitars which produce a pretty
noise sound. This album is quite simply, boring. If you listen to their
previous albums, ROundhouse and Jackson, which are on AmRep, they had a
lot more innovation. This album is bad, but check out their old stuff. **
Trash Can School-Volume War (Sympathy For the Record Industry)
This is a band from LA, comprising of six members, including a
saxophone player. Most of the songs are fast, upbeat, chord-driven songs
with low, raspy vocals. It reminded me a little bit of older Urge Overkill
(pre-Supersonic Storybook). Neat.
the cupid car club, m.p. (kill rock stars)
CCC came out of the ruins of the Nation of Ulysses. Three members from
NoU and a girl, Kim Thomson, form this band. The lyrics are annoying, and
badly written. Kim THomson has an extremely bad, whiny voice that really
gets to me too (She sings backup on the songs). Who do these guys think
they are? There's only one Nation of Ulysses. BOMB. (120 State Ave. NE
#418, Olympia, WA, 98501)
Cows-Plowed (Amphetamine Reptile)
Two cool songs from a really great band. I think one of the songs,
"Plowed" is on their new album, "Sexy Pee Story". Both are done in typical
Cows fashion, with Shannon's off the beat, half-talking vocals. Produced
by David Livingstone... ****
Grout-Your Government Is Lying (Uprising)
A four song EP coming out of Detroit, MI (where punk started.) In each
song, the singer/guitarist melodically screams about what angers him:
Abortion, Israeli imperialism, and agression in general. Nice backing
vocals by the bassist, and a general tight, frantic feeling to the whole
EP. Worth checking out if your into this stuff. (Arcade Station PO BOX
4412, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-4412)
Shellac-The Rude Gesture a pictorial history (Touch and Go)
This is Shellac's first single. Comprising of Steve Albini, Rob Weston,
and Todd Trainer, they rip through three beautifully noisy, angry, emotion
filled songs with Steve singing. The guitar still has that metallic sound
that Albini has patented. Really great stuff. They also have another
single 'Uranus' out which is excellent. Check this out NOW. ****
Well, thats it.. See ya... Happy new year everyone...
This is my '93 retrospective. I am afraid I usually don't have time to
make regular submissions to the Indie List, but here's a few things I
Adorable @ Slim's, San Francisco - they've put OK singles this year, but
what a show! By the end it had become a real pop art showdown, with the
crowd grabbing at Pyotr in a malign manner, while he kicked back. He gave
himself a haircut and gouged at his jacket with nasty shears, then smashed
his guitar and flung the pieces at the crowd. I don't care if the Who's
already done it. ****.
Auteurs, New Wave LP - this record has fine songs, some charming lyrical
obsessions, and a cello. Luke Haines's voice can occasionally sound a bit
thin, but his guitar work is always appropriate - he used to play guitar
for the Servants (whose stuff I do not know). They played San Francisco
early this year and were completely convincing. Show ****, LP ****.
Blur, Modern Life Is Rubbish LP - Blur get older. The record is ambitious
and fun, but imperfect. Their recorded stuff can grate. Nevertheless, it
contains some real gems, like "For Tomorrow" and "Chemical World". Their
live shows are invariably amazing, and this time 'round they did not
disappoint. Good clean fun had by all. Show ****1/2, record ***.
Boyracer, B is for Boyracer EP - I am smitten with the song "I've Got It
And It's Not Worth Having", a perfect frustrated love song. Boyracer are
a fun guitar band who answer their fan mail and put out cheap flexis,
though they're now associated with proper labels - LP out soon on
Slumberland. They can sound like the Wedding Present, but I like that.
Song *****, EP ****. Discography on request.
Flying Saucer Attack, Flying Saucer Attack LP - Perfect psych noise pop
mixed with weird spacey instrumentals. I can't get over how good their
stuff is. Guitars and feedback and tunes and NOISE. Their debut 7",
Soaring High, is now in rerelease on VHF. The LP is Limited to 1000, so
get it while it's hot. ****1/2 each.
Radiohead, Pablo Honey LP - these kids deserve to play stadiums. "Creep"
may annoy you, but I think it's a great song. The rest of the record is
of a piece; basic rock with loud guitars. Their show was good, but not as
exciting as I'd expected. LP ***1/2, show ***.
Razorblade Smile, Fastest Wide Eyed Implement EP - nice edgy dream pop
from a UK outfit I know nothing about. I bought this record because they
cover McCarthy's "Red Sleeping Beauty" on it. While their cover sounds
suspiciously like the original, they do make a little round out of it, and
RSB is a perfect song. The rest of it's faster and harder, but great
music to play pool by. ***1/2.
Ropers, Sunbathe EP - this is noisy lost-vocals guitar pop. On my
favorite local indie label, Slumberland, these DC kids do a fine job. No
one will ever claim this record changed their life, but who needs their
life changed all the time? ****.
Sneetches, "She May Call You Up Tonight" - on a Japanese single, this is a
nice cover of a brilliant 60's song by the Left Banke. They're local, so
I saw them twice, and they were good, especially @ the Bottom Of The Hill.
Song ***1/2, show ****.
Stereolab, Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements 2xLP -
Stereolab have written, let's be blunt, one song. But I really, really
like it. I never thought anyone would manage to resurrect Neu-style prog
and make me like it. I saw their Bay Area shows, and they were quite
nice. Tim says now that they're on Elektra [and I like Michael Bolton,
too!] they can release even MORE material than they already do. I'm
afraid. Record ****, show ***1/2.
Swervedriver, Mezcal Head LP - Swervedriver is a little too MTV-ready, but
they play a mean guitar. Rather, the singer does, as I was able to note
at their show. The LP is not perfect, but has at least two great songs on
it. Their show was too short - 60 minutes maybe - but the first 10
minutes alone were worth it. LP ***1/2, show ****1/2.
Three Hour Tour, 'Til The Next Time EP - Sure it's early 70's, sure it's
simple and sappy and yes, it quite reeks of Paulie Chastain. I like it.
Nice pop music, and no one gets hurt. ***1/2.
Tindersticks, Tindersticks 2xLP - there is no band like them. The singer
croons madly along, while the band plays strange, arty 60's cheese music
and the lyrics, if you should chance to listen to them, worm strange
messages into your mind. I am not convinced I like this record yet -
which is a good sign. ***1/2.
Velocity Girl, Copacetic LP - You all should know about these folks by
now, so I won't bore you with how fun they are. I saw 'em play twice,
once with Tiger Trap and once with Belly. The Belly show was short,
rushed and none too exciting. Their headlining gig, however, was one of
the best I've seen. As one bouncing indieboy said to another next to me,
"Who are these guys? Wait - who cares?". If only I had caught a
single... LP ****, open ***, head ****1/2.
As if that weren't enough, I heard a few amazing older things for the
first time last year. The list includes Velvet Crush (pop kings!), Bob's
"Convenience" (you owe it to yourself to hear this song), the Moles (are
they defunct? Inquiring minds..), the Velvet Underground's "Ride Into The
Sun" (off Another View), and McCarthy's "We Are All Bourgeois Now".
Anglophile enough for ya?
What I Got For Xmas Reviews
Seam-- "Headsparks" and "The Problem With Me"
I was a bit disappointed with _Headsparks_, having ingested a lot
of hype before listening to it. Seam create a trademark sound from the
very beginning-- simple chord structures set to catchy rhythms and a
guitar sound that soars and drowns simultaneously. The songwriting is
decent, but over ten songs it gets a bit repetitive and runs together,
resulting in a soup of melodies that seem indistinguishable from one
another. Some standouts: "Sky City" pieces together an exquisite three
chords and few nice riffs; "Feather" is slow, soft, agonizing and
beautiful; "Shame", featuring Velocity Girl vocalist Sarah Shannon, barges
wildly on through, helped by a chugging rhythm guitar; and "Granny 9x",
with its ambling rhythms and soaring guitars, represents the ideal Seam
"sound". The rest of the songs contain snatches of greatness, but like a
lot of Pixies songs, they're never quite enough for a song to stick in a
listener's mind. **1/2
On _The Problem With Me_, Seam added another guitarist and
improved its songs a great deal. "Rafael" begins with a quirky rhythm that
never quite gets in step with itself, but the great riff that closes the
song makes me forget anything bad I ever said about it. The next four
songs show Seam employing the dynamic changes that made Slint famous, and
come up with beauties like "Bunch" and "Stage 2000". Sometimes, like on
"Dust and Turpentine", Seam tries too hard to be dramatic, and the result
is a bit saccharine. By the time you get to "Wild Cat", you realize, hey!
Seam is actually an indie Luna. "Autopilot" ends the album on a bit of a
Yo La Tengo-ish note, with a hypnotic line weaving smoothly in and out of
the typically clunky guitar lines. All in all, a definite winner. ****
Amid a vast underground of punk bands who blast out worn-out power
chords and couple them with inane lyrics, Seaweed is something of an
innovation. The lyrics are enigmatic and a bit impersonal at times, but
Aaron yells them with such conviction that it's absolutely anthemic.
The now-classic (IMHO) _Weak_ hints at great songwriting limited
by the punk-rock sound of a constant wall of guitars and relentless,
bludgeoning rhythms. The final song ("Squint") showed Seaweed squirming,
wanting to diversify their sound a little bit more. _Four_ begins with
"Losing Skin", which sounds like a refugee from _Weak_, but "Card Tricks"
and "Chalk the Cracks" contain slower rhythms and quiet (!) parts which
lend more power to the already potent musicianship. "Kid Candy" and
"Oversight" show a poppier side, but still retain the elements that will
eventually fill stadiums for Seaweed. "In Fairness" starts out
unstoppable, ranting about "movies/ about growing up Catholic", and then
breaks suddenly so that Aaron does an a cappella duet with himself (a
great job of overdubbing). Finally, "Wait for the Fade" is an excellent
punk sing-along anthem.
The only complaint I have about Seaweed is that their songs sound
like bits of different songs taped together hastily, barreling straight
through without a thought to what a bridge is. That doesn't bother me
much, since all of the parts are so goddamn catchy it doesn't matter what
order they come in. Or, to quote "In Fairness": "Still the whole seems to
miss the sum/ In fairness I seem to forget". ****
Medicine-- "The Buried Life"
Medicine is often dismissed as a My Bloody Valentine ripoff, a
comparison which is partly accurate, partly inaccurate, and wholly unfair
to both parties. Sure, Medicine mixes an intoxicating brew of scrubbed
guitars and cooing vocals like MBV, but while MBV's sound is thick and
organic, Medicine opts for an electrified whine, creating clouds of static
that threaten to break loose and attack herds of cattle like a swarm of
killer bees. MBV is drugged-out and swoony, while Medicine concentrates
clear-headed sexual tension in sharp doses.
_The Buried Life_ is not as naive as their first album, _Shot Forth
Self Living_, but it is also not as fully realized, a problem most bands
have when trying to expand their musical frontiers (the "sophomore jinx").
The power-chord walls are taken down, allowing for loopy, choppy guitar
lines ("The Pink", "Never Click") and a softer atmosphere ("Fried Awake",
"Live It Down"). "Slut" builds on a seductive bass line and Beth
Thompson's even more seductive vocals.
The two token noise-instrumentals are cute for a while ("Emmeline"
sounds like someone chainsawing down pillows in a room full of animals),
but they're more distracting and irritating than anything else. As if Brad
Laner had to fill a few more minutes on the CD and said, "Hey! Let's just
fuck around for a while!" In the middle of the CD, though, the static
clouds dissipate, leaving a clear blue pop sky on "Something Goes Wrong".
Medicine really don't need all the noisy gimmicks they employ;
their songwriting abilities are solid enough for them to perform a decent
set on MTV Unplugged. Each song is a near-perfect balance of noise and
melody, but for some reason, the entirety of the CD is a bit uneven. Fine
with me, though; I couldn't think of a better album to have sex to. ***1/2
From: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruins at the Knitting Factory
Been a while since I last saw a really great show (well, Today is the Day
a few months ago) since most stuff seems really played out to me. I'm
pretty jaded, I admit. HOWEVER, Ruins last Wednesday (Dec. 29) was
incredible. A bass and drum duo, for those who don't know 'em from their
shimmy-disc lps or various compilations including the Dead Tech "No-wave
from Japan" record on Dossier from a few years back. I saw 'em as the
rhythm section for John Zorn's all-star Japanese hardcoreband a couple of
years ago and was pleased, but when they're playing their own intricate,
repetitive, jerking, yelping, bludgeoning compositions -- wow! The Bass
player uses many effects pedals including a pitch shifter/wah to supply
more than enough tonal noise to offset the massive pounding provided by
the drummer. Much distortion. Yaaay. Zorn came on for the last couple
of songs, but I'm kinda sick of him (he had a whole month devoted to him
not too long ago) although he sounded pretty cool at times. Sharon Topper
stood in front of us (I think it was her, but she was cleverly disguised
by her spectacles, so who knows) with some boy who smoked clove
cigarettes. Despite this, the show was extra-swell.
P.S. Still looking for a drummer in NYC
From: "Megan E. Dietz"
Swob tidbits + more
Since we're talking about Swob anyway, they allegedly have an album coming
out on Project A-Bomb this month. Does anyone have any more info on this?
Guitarist/vocalist Mike Lingo is still in San Francisco as far as I know,
but he is coming back to Pittsburgh someday. And then Pittsburgh will be a
happier place. Where else could you see Don Caballero, Karl Hendricks
Trio, and Hurl on the same bill. For free.
Hey, someone tell me about Archers of Loaf. Thanks.
A QUIZ/GIVE-AWAY TO START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT:
OK, gang, time for a little quiz. First correct answer to arrive in my
mailbox gets their pick of one of the following records: Eyeless In
Gaza's _Caught In Flux_, MX-80 Sound's _Out Of The Tunnel_, or the
Cannanes' _The African Man's Tomato_. (Somehow, I wound up with two copies of
The question is as follows: The opening quote to this issue of the I-L
comes from a record in my personal collection, released on a mersh label
before I was born, probably about when my parents graduated from
high school. If you know the artist and LP title, you win. First
correct answer in my mailbox gets their choice of the titles above (or
something else we can work out if the winner doesn't want one of those
Since this is a fairly tough question, I encourage people to guess -
creativity and a general "in the ballpark" feeling might just make you a
winner. You've got better odds with me than with Ed McMahon or the
Irish Sweepstakes. :)
Answers/guesses/complaints to email@example.com.
If there's no winner this time, I'll offer some hints in the next issue.
Members of the People's Democratic Revolutionary I-L Junta, their
immediate families,and anyone whose paycheck comes from the same parent
entity as that of M*ch**l B*lt*n are hereby excluded. :)
The Indie-List Digest is published every Tuesday and Friday by the
Indie-List Infotainment Junta, Unltd.
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