Sunday, January 31, 2010

Perfect Sound Forever- Feb/March '10 issue now online

In the latest issue of Perfect Sound Forever online music magazine, you'll find (among other things):

Where is it now?
"The question is quite simple- is there a black American musical avant garde under the age of fifty? It's impossible not to speak generationally where this is concerned since those over 50 are well defined: Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Butch Morris, Bill Dixon, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Abrams, Ornette Coleman, George Lewis, Sam Rivers, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, etc. are all alive and still working."

Cumbia turntablist- interview
"To know where DJ DUS is coming from, you have to know a little bit about cumbia. Cumbia is a type of folk music from Columbia's Caribbean coast that relies heavily on percussion, thanks to its roots in both West African and Amerindian cultures. While DUS' music varies from smooth trip-hop mixes to more tradition Latin songs to jagged urban beats, the common thread is cumbia and its complex rhythms."

His later years- 80's collaborations
"It's true that production techniques may time-stamp an album and provide an unfair disadvantage in assessing the work of even one of France's most gifted songwriters; his last two solo albums, recorded in 1984 and 1987 espectively, certainly provide proof to that argument. Gainsbourg was a prolific songwriter and clever lyricist who bestowed his gift upon many a singer throughout the course of his entire career."

An interview with the master manager
"Danny Goldberg's latest book, 'Bumping Into Geniuses,' is an incredible telling of his continual "bumping in to geniuses," and he's managed to bump in to quite a few. His resume reads like my bucket list: handled the PR for the likes of KISS and Led Zeppelin (it could stop right there and I'd be completely impressed) and went on to head record companies like Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Records and Mercury Records."

A wacky interview with the indie popster
"2008's Intakes, the seventh album by noted cult singer-songwriter Richard X Heyman, offers a collection of timeless songs that are actually hard to pin down when it comes to the year they have been written. In this humorous interview, Richard explains the relativity theory, why the first song he has written is actually his fourth, why three LP's are not enough for an lonely island and more."

How they're made
"Every year, the Record Industry of Japan hands out the Gold Disc Awards to the artists with the highest sales in the prior calendar year. In the past decade, only 5 acts had the chops to win the most prestigious award for "Artist of the Year." Evaluating the 2000's, there seemed to be 7 rules for those winning. To understand why, let us begin by exploring the winners year by year"

Master of modern German electronics
"Within only ten years of musical activity, Jan Jelinek has become one of the leading figures in Germany's electronic music scene. Now in his mid-thirties, Jelinek was born into a musical family. He was introduced to music at an early age- his father was a music-teacher, but he failed miserably trying to learn to play both piano and guitar. Today, he still considers himself a musician who cannot play any instrument."

South African singer/songwriter
"About two years ago, a leading South African newspaper polled its readers to find their favorite South African song. The winner was 'Master Jack' by Four Jacks and a Jill, a pretty, if insubstantial, slice of harmony pop that became, in 1968, the first South African record to reach the U.S. Top 20. The song itself was more interesting than the performance. It had been written a couple of years earlier by a young miner from the country's East Rand gold mining area by the name of David Marks."

His solo (post-Guided by Voices) years, Part 1
"Everything and nothing has changed for Robert Pollard since he retired the Guided by Voices name on January 1, 2005. He still makes music that is enjoyed, and inasmuch as the music is a commercial product, consumed by legions of fans. He still makes a living from doing what he loves. But the legions have thinned. Not all GbV fans have wanted to take the leap with Pollard into an unfamiliar musical frontier that offers no guides for listeners."

Randy Bewley tribute from his band mates
"On February 26, 2009, a tragedy struck the Athens music world and beyond: 53-year-old guitarist Randy Bewley of Pylon died of a heart attack. In the last few years, the legendary band had reunited for the 2nd time, touring and prepping new material. After giving them some space to deal with the horrible loss, I approached the rest of the group in May 2009, asking if they'd speak about Randy. Bassist Michael Lahowski and singer Vanessa Hay were kind enough to reply and share their thoughts about him. Adding to the already somber circumstances, Hay also confirmed what seemed obvious- without Bewley, Pylon was officially over."

Noise rock label & comix outlet
"SKiN GRAFT records has released stunning and innovative music by groups such as Cheer-Accident, Melt-Banana, U.S. Maple, Ruins, Arab On Radar, The Flying Luttenbachers, and many more. Mark Fischer co-founded SKiN GRAFT with Rob Syers in 1986, starting by publishing comic books inspired by punk rock. In 1991, they began to release records by artists with styles often categorized as 'noise rock' or 'No Wave.' Their roots in the comic book business have led to SKiN GRAFT's exceptionally artistic approach to its packaging of albums."

His solo (post-Wailers) years
"Peter Tosh's solo career began with the release of Legalize It in 1976. The album was well received and the title track was a huge hit in Jamaica after it was banned by the government on account of its pro-ganja lyrics. Indeed the song is a catalogue of the many virtues of marijuana and also gives a list of the people who smoke it. This was to become a favourite topic with Tosh."

Lute man interview
"You wanna talk old-school? Then consider the lute, an ancestor of the guitar. Its history may stretch back thousands of years. Usually associated with the Middle Ages, the lute made its way in various forms throughout the world. Dutch composer Jozef Van Wissem dusted off this classic instrument and dragged it into the 20th century, adding electronics and tape edits to his music."

Their hazy New Zealand music
"'Hallelujah All the Way Home' was yet another very odd fish from the New Zealand school. Which is to say that it was devoid of any obvious musical forefathers and totally sidestepped the big '60's flashback which dazzled many indie bands of the mid-80's. The innovation and gallantry of Graeme Downes' vision extended The Verlaines' modus operandi far beyond what most people would have considered at the time as "indie" or "garage pop." Downes' design was grandiose and rigorous and the band's experimental focus was trained on totally different targets to those of their contemporaries."

Male feminists sound off about them
"When the Vivian Girls' self-titled debut came out in 2008, it received an instant rush of hype in the music press. It got rave reviews by the Onion’s A.V. Club, Pitchfork, and Prefix (where I was writing). The album trickled up to the print press. Veteran music critics like Jim DeRogatis, Greg Kot, and Rob Sheffield were singing the praises of the album just as equally. The difference is the terms of this discussion: after the de facto breakups of Le Tigre and Sleater-Kinney, critics
everywhere have been looking for a band to take the legacy of the riot grrrl movement in a new direction."

PLUS... we have our writers' poll of the best music from 2009 too!

Also, you can hear some of the artists above in our Last.FM playlist.

We're always looking for good writers and/or ideas so let us know if you have anything to share.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Still Bill Withers

The documentary Still Bill follows the life of one of the greatest singer/songwriters of the 70's ("Lean on Me," "Grandma's Hands," "Ain't No Sunshine," "Use Me"), who's also a guy that enigmatically decided to pack it in over 20 years ago but not fully give up on music. Among other places, it's playing at the IFC Center in New York City. Withers appeared at two of the screenings tonight and will be at two of them tomorrow night too, while the film will be continued to be screened at IFC.

I taped Withers as he appeared afterward at one of the screenings for a Q&A session, sharing some revealing information about his life and his work.

Bill talks about how the film was made:

BW talks about the film-makers:

BW describes the Ali/Foreman fight (Zaire, 1974) and flying out to Africa to perform for it:

BW talks about recent songs that he's done and the possibility of a new album

BW talks about what inspired him to write his songs

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pazz and Jop 09

It's time again for the poll that writers complain about and yet vote in anyway- the Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop. Yep, I did participate but with the usual reservations that I only get to tell people there about a fraction of all the music I liked last year.

One thing I do enjoy about P&J is to not only learn about the consensus out there (even though it crowns a small group of kings and queens while leaving many other deserving artists in the dust) but also other albums or singles that I missed or dismissed.

To make sure that I was caught up, I went through YouTube and other sources to hear as much as I could that I wasn't familiar with. To make it easier, I wanted to put together an online playlist. I like Last.FM but most of the P&J songs weren't playable there or you could only hear a 30-second sample. So instead, I put together a list of the top 25 singles from P&J into a Grooveshark playlist (registration required but it's free). Enjoy!