Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blurt's best of 2009

Blurt Magazine has published its best of 08 lists from its staff (which includes) me. The really useful part isn't to necessarily see who's most popular but what albums, reissues, DVDs, books you might have missed. You can see the two part list here:

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Fanatic Xmas mix

Though I'm a Scrooge when it comes to presents, I'm always on the hunt for good holiday music and Fanatic Productions has a bunch of it this time. As always, the trick is not to make it the same sappy drivel that we keep hearing again and again in the stores, which is why these tracks work so well. And for a nice holiday present, they're all free to hear and download.

- First up is UK post-punkers 65daysofstatic with the cleverly titled "I'm Dreaming of A White Noise Christmas." Not so much white noise but lots of static and shoegaze.

- Next up are mash-up masters the Bran Flakes (who share a label with Girl Talk) with "Lovely Sleigh Ride," which they take Christine Aguilera along (unwittingly)

- Finally, there's a nice dance master mix from Gulp Communications, featuring many of their productions and remixes: "It's a Gulping Xmas '08" makes a nice homemade house party.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fave 2008 albums, singles & reissues

It's that time of year again! Scribes everywhere are getting pestered by editors to find out what 10 albums were their favorite for their year. Most writers who are heavily into their work complain that they have problems whittling it down to ten (something I always have problems with). Also, as anyone can tell you, your list of favorites is likely gonna change daily or weekly or monthly. Also, you might feel a tinge of regret that you forgot to include some things or that you didn't have time to hear everything you should have. So in that spirit, here's all the music that I've been enjoying this year, with links all over the place. Hope you find something like.

NOTE: a few of these picks (Wussy, Wooden Shjips, Enur) are late '07 relases

  1. Wussy Left for Dead (Shake It)
  2. The Whigs Mission Control (ATO)
  3. Hot Chip Made in the Dark (Astralwerks)
  4. Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Honeydripper (Rhino)
  5. The Mountain Goats Heretic Pride (Beggars Banquet)
  6. The Heavy Great Vengeance and Furious Fire (Ninja Tune)
  7. Los Campesinos! Hold On Now, Youngster... (Arts and Crafts)
  8. Clark Turning Dragon (Warp)
  9. James McMurty Just Us Kids (Lightning Rod)
  10. Absentee Victory Shorts (Memphis Industries)
  11. M√ľnchener Kammerorchester Haydn, Yun: Farewell - Symphonies Nos. 39 and 45 / Chamber Symphony I (ECM)
  12. Paul Westerberg 49:00 (Dry Wood Music)
  13. Girl Talk Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)
  14. Lil Wayne Tha Carter III (Cash Money)
  15. Martha Wainwright I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too (Zoe)
  16. Lucinda Williams Little Honey (Lost Highway)
  17. TV on the Radio Dear Science (DGC/Interscope)
  18. Nine Inch Nails The Slip (
  19. Okkervil River The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar)
  20. Mavis Staples Live: Hope at the Hideout (Anti-)
  21. The Knux Remind Me In 3 Days... (Interscope)
  22. GZA Pro Tools (Babygrande)
  23. Lil Mama VYP- Voice of the Young People (Jive)
  24. Robert Forster The Evangelist (Yep Roc)
  25. Nikka Costa Pebble to a Pearl (Stax)
  26. The Cute Lepers Can't Stand Modern Music (Blackheart)
  27. Jaime Lidell Jim (Warp)
  28. Darker My Love 2 (Dangerbird)
  29. Ponytail Ice Cream Spiritual (We Are Free)
  30. Fannypack Ghetto Bootleg (Tommy Boy)
  31. Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders Holdin Onto Trouble's Hand (Rankoutsider)
  32. The Death Set Worldwide (Counter)
  33. Raphael Saadiq The Way I See It (Columbia)
  34. Tilly and the Wall Tilly and the Wall (Teamlove)
  35. Blitzen Trapper Furr (Sub Pop)
  36. The Roots Rising Down (Def Jam)
  37. Nas Nas (Def Jam)
  38. No Age Nouns (Sub Pop)
  39. One Day As A Lion One Day As A Lion (Anti-)
  40. The Mannish Boys Lowdown Feelin' (Delta Groove)
  41. Goldmund The Malady of Elegance (Type)
  42. Ezra Furman and the Harpoons Inside the Human Body (Minty Fresh)
  43. Eddy Current Supression Ring Primary Colours (Goner)
  44. Jay Reatard Matador Singles '08 (Matador)
  45. Futureheads This Is Not the Future (Megaforce)
  46. Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip Angles (Strangefamousrecords)
  47. Santastic 4 (
  48. Group Inerane Guitars From Agadez (Sublime Frequencies)
  49. The Ettes Look at Life Again Soon (Take Root)
  50. Capstan Shafts Fixation Protocols (Rainbow Quartz)
  51. Raglani Of Sirens Born (Kranky)
  52. Miko Mika 666 (PPM)
  53. Amanda Shaw Pretty Runs Out (Rounder)
  54. The Fleshtones Have a Good Look! (Yep Roc)
  55. Carla Bley and Their Remarkable Big Band Appearing Nightly (ECM)
  56. Ted Leo Rapid Response (Touch and Go)
  57. Hot Lava Lavalogy (Bar None)
  58. Nodzzz Nodzzz (What's Your Rupture?)
  59. Heybale The Last Country Record (Shuffle5)
  60. Sons and Daughters This Gift (Domino)
  61. The Sight Below Glider (Ghostly International)
  62. Thao Nguyen We Brave Bee Stings And All (Kill Rock Stars)
  63. Max Richter 24 Postcards in Full Colour (Fat Cat Records)
  64. Radar Bros Auditorium (Merge)
  65. Derby Posters Fade (Green Submarine)
  66. Byetone Death of a Typographer (Raster-Norton)


  1. Robyn "Konichiwa Bitches" (Cherry Red)
  2. Missy Elliott "Ching-a-Ling" (Goldmind)
  3. Devo "Watch Us Work it" (Devo)
  4. Gnarls Barkley "Run" (Downtown)
  5. Death Cab for Cutie "I Will Possess Your Heart" (Atlantic)
  6. Erykah Badu "Honey" (Universal/Motown)
  7. Beck "Profanity Prayers" (Interscope)
  8. Lykke Li "Little Bit" (Control Group)
  9. Fannypack "Hit It" (Tommy Boy)
  10. Common "Universal Mind Control (UMC)" (Geffen)
  11. Absentee "Boy, Did She Teach You Nothing" (Memphis Industries)
  12. Jay-Z featuring Santogold "Brooklyn Go Hard" (Bad Boy)
  13. VV Brown "Crying Blood" (Island)
  14. Nelly "Hold Up" (Universal)
  15. Semi Precious Weapons "Her Hair Is On Fire" (Mute)
  16. Izza Kizza featuring Miss Elliott "Walk the Dawg" (Interscope)
  17. Vampire Weekend "Mansard Roof" (XL)
  18. Angie Stone featuring James Ingram "My People" (Concord)
  19. Jenny Lewis "The Next Messiah" (Warner Bros)
  20. The Hold Steady "Sequestered in Memphis" (Vagrant)
  21. The Muslims "Bright Spot" (1928 Recordings)
  22. Raveonettes "Dead Sound" (Vice)
  23. Joe Budden featuring the Game "The Future" (Amalgam)
  24. Bruce Springsteen "My Lucky Day" (Columbia)
  25. The Streets "Heaven For The Weather" (Vice)
  26. The XX Teens "My Favorite Hat" (Mute)
  27. Master Shortie "Dead End" (Odd One Out)
  28. Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip "Beat That My Heart Skipped" (Lex)
  29. Dirty on Purpose "Audience in the Room" (North Street)
  30. Jay-Z "Ain't I" (no label)
  31. Santogold "Say Aha" (Downtown)
  32. R.E.M. "Supernatural Superserious" (Warner Bros)
  33. Baltic Fleet "Black Lounge" (Blow Up)
  34. Chris 'The Falcon' Han "Love Songs" (
  35. Willie Nelson "You Don't Think I'm Funny Anymore" (Lost Highway)
  36. Tittsworth "WTF (Featuring Kid Sister Pase Rock)" (Rcrd Lbl)
  37. Kid Sister "Pro Nails" (Downtown Recordings)
  38. M83 "Couleurs" (Mute)
  39. Curumin "Caixa Preta" (Rcrd Lbl)
  40. Girl Problems "Girl Problems" (
  41. Wooden Shjips "Auld Lang Syne" (
  42. USA For Affluence "Cash For Chirstmas" (
  43. Violent Femmes "Crazy" (The Secret Life of)


  1. Flipper Generic Flipper Album (Water)
  2. Dancehall: The Rise Of Jamaican Dancehall Culture (Soul Jazz)
  3. Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking (Water)
  4. Nick Lowe Jesus of Cool (Yep Roc)
  5. Kelis The Hits (Jive)
  6. Mission of Burma Vs (Matador)
  7. Pavement Brighten the Corners- Deluxe Edition (Matador)
  8. Blue Ash No More, No Less (Collectors Choice)
  9. Philip Glass Glass Box: A Nonesuch Retrospective (Nonesuch)
  10. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison (Columbia/Legacy)
  11. Mott the Hoople/Ian Hunter Old Records Never Die: The Mott the Hoople/Ian Hunter Anthology (Shout Factory)
  12. Birdsongs of the Mesozoic Dawn of the Cycads (Cunieform)
  13. Analog Africa No. 3: African Scream Contest (Analog Africa)
  14. Jon Hassell Power Spot (ECM)
  15. Steinski What Does It All Mean?: 1983-2006 (Illegal Art)
  16. Rachid Taha Rock el Casbah: The Best of Rachid Taha (Wrasse)
  17. Highlife Time! Nigerian & Ghanaian Sound from the 60's and early 70's (Vampi Soul)
  18. Hank Williams The Unreleased Recordings (Time Life Entertainment)
  19. Hybrid Kids Hybrid Kids (Cherry Red)
  20. Mo-Dettes The Story So Far (Cherry Red)
  21. Teenage Jesus and the Jerks Shut Up and Bleed (Atavistic)
  22. Hank Mobley Quintet Hank Mobley Quintet (Blue Note)
  23. Ornette Coleman The Art of the Improvisers (Atlantic)
  24. The Impressions This Is My Country/The Young Mods' Forgotten Story (American Beat)
  25. David Johansen David Johansen (American Beat)
  26. Howlin' Wolf Rockin' the Blues: Live In Germany 1964 (Acrobat)
  27. La Dusseldorf Viva (Water)
  28. Titan: It's All Pop! (Numero)
  29. Truckee Brothers Double Happiness (Popluxe)
  30. Jack DeJohnette Special Edition (ECM)
  31. Basic Replay (Basic Replay)
  32. Webb Pierce High Gear Daddy (Bear Family)
  33. Bullwackies All Stars Black World Dub (Wackies)
  34. Curtis Mayfield Curtis (Rhino)
  35. Art Blakey and Giants of Jazz Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1972 (Monterey Jazz Fest)
  36. David Axelrod Seriously Deep (Dusty Groove)
  37. The Mekons The Mekons Story (Buried Treasure)
  38. Rosie Flores Rosie Flores (American Beat)
  39. Richard Thompson Henry the Human Fly (Fledg'ling)
  40. Professor Longhair The London Concert (JSP)
  41. French, Frith, Kaiser, Thompson Live, Love, Larf and Loaf (Fledg'ling)
  42. Bollywood Steel Guitar (Sublime Frequencies)
  43. Notwave (Rong/DFA)
  44. Mark Kozelek The Finally LP (Caldo Verde)
  45. Popguns Another Year, Another Address (Best Of) (Cherry Red)
  46. The Nerves One Way Ticket (Alive)
  47. Blue Mountain Dog Days (Roadrunner)
  48. Harry Taussig Fate Is Only Once (Tompkins Square)
  49. Porter Wagoner The Cold Hard Facts Of Life / Soul Of a Convict (The Omni Recording Corporation)
Special mention: Fantasy's reissue of the Creedence catalog and WB's reissue of the late Replacements catalog

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oxford American music issue

Oxford American magazine now has its annual music issue out, with the Killer, Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis featured there. It's their 10th anniversary music issue and there's not one but two CD's there featuring Lucinda Williams and Little Walter. Plus, if you go to their website, you'll find four articles from the issue that you can pursue.

But you'll also wanna get a print copy of the issue too, not the least because... well, I have an article in there about the Insect Trust, one of my all-time favorite cult bands! I researched the article for about a year and did a bunch of interviews with former band members, associates and writers so hopefully there's something in there for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 Christmas Picks

The latest issue of Time Out New York has my holiday music picks for '08. It's not in the online version of TONY so please pick up a print copy to find the article. There you'll find me talking about heavy metal, singing saws, garage rock, a movie star & Jewish comedy. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Flipper's catalog returns

The wait is over- these San Fran hardcore legends finally get their catalog reissued. Again. Henry Rollins and Rick Rubin did the job in the 90's with their American label but the whole label went under and all of its catalog with it (including a number of other fine reissues). So now for the third time (originally coming out on the local indie Subterranean Records), Flipper's albums are out again, thanks to the good people at Water Records.

The second album is kind of a sophomoric effort, the compilation is a good collection of singles and the live album is for fans (like most live albums are) but their debut, 1982's Generic Flipper Album, isn't just one of the ultimate punk statements but one of the finest albums of the 80's. It wasn't just the absurdist humor, grinding riffs, wall of noise guitar, booming drums and lo-fi production that made it such a classic but also the combo of all of these things together. The opener, "Ever," seems to start with the sound of squealing animals, then a car back-firing and then a wind-tunnel of sound, followed by existential lyrics about this crazy thing called life. The closer, the ultimate nihilist statement "Sex Bomb," has a handful of chords, seven words and about eight minutes of howls, adorned by saxophones and a screaming synth.

It's hilarious and brain-numbing and inspirational. No wonder Rollins (who does liner notes for the other Flipper albums) and Nirvana (whose Krist is now the band's bassist and also did liners here) and Rubin (who was once in a Flipper cover band) loved this so much. Needless to say, so did I- I still have a promo photo of the band on my wall, which looks down at my from my desk.

And yes, the band is still together though minus bassist/songwriter Will Shatter (RIP) and with Krist. Hopefully, they'll be touring again some time. I saw them do a great show at CBGB's in the last run of shows for the club three years ago- you can see three clips of the show I filmed from PopMatters' YouTube page.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cadillac Records- fact and fiction

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend," is what we hear at the end of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. So when we see the tag line that a movie has been 'based on a true story,' we're used to thinking then that they're gonna stretch the truth and flub some facts for dramatic purposes. The fact that Salieri and Mozart weren't the mortal enemies as portrayed in Amadeus doesn't mean that it wasn't a fine film.

In the same way, the fact that Cadillac Records plays with the truth doesn't take away from the fact that it's a fine film too, portraying the rise and fall of legendary Chicago blues label Chess Records. Jeffrey Wright's portrayal as the tough, hard-living Muddy Waters is wonderful and inspired and there's also great performances by Columbus Short as the untamed Little Walter, Gabrielle Union as Muddy's long-suffering wife Geneva Wade, Eamonn Walker as the pugnacious Howlin' Wolf, Mos Def as the dapper, playful Chuck Berry and Adrian Brody as the hustler with a heart Leonard Chess. And yes, Beyonce does a good turn here too as the damaged Etta James- it's tough to watch her sing "At Last" and not be moved. I think she was better here than in Dreamgirls. And also give the film credit for not glossing over Chess's creative book-keeping practices (which was, and is, part and parcel of the biz).

So yeah, it's a good story but is it really history? Phil Chess, co-founder of the label, is buried in the story. Sonny Boy Williamson and Bo Diddley are both totally M.I.A. from the film too. And as others have pointed out, Ms. James physically resembled Jennifer Hudson more than her Dreamgirls co-star but then again, Hudson wasn't the executive producer of the movie (Beyonce was). Also, the timeline between Elvis and the army and the Beach Boys ripping "Surfin' USA" from Chuck seems a little confused too. Maybe we should be grateful that the film skipped the whole 'psychedelic' phase of the label but the 'folk' phase deserves credit as some great music came out of that time.

And while the soundtrack doesn't match the original records (what could??), the songs themselves are still a reminder of how great the material still sounds: Muddy's "I'm A Man" and "Hoochie Koochie Man," Berry's "No Particular Place To Go" (one of my faves from his catalog) and Etta's "At Last" and "I'd Rather Go Blind."

And though the scene where Wolf takes back his guitarist (the legendary and still kicking Hubert Sumlin) from Muddy is memorable, here's the way I heard it from Hubert himself a few years ago. Hubert was planning to leave Muddy's band and let his intentions become known. The band's pianist, the raw-tempered Otis Spann, didn't take kindly to that and came after him, swinging a chain. In a panic, Hubert got Muddy into a head-lock, telling Spann to back off. He dragged Muddy over to a phone to call Wolf and plead for help. Wolf showed up, telling Spann to back off and took Hubert back under his wing.

The scene in the movie where Walter drives his car into the Chess offices did happen too though there was more to it. Supposedly, right after he did this and demanded a new car, the Chess brothers gave him the money for it. Walter drove to a bank but didn't park there. Instead, he parked in the middle of the road and casually took his time walking into the bank as traffic madly honked around him.

Maybe scenes like these were a little too nuts to become a believable part of an already semi-fictionalized story (fact stranger than fiction?) but then again, it brings us back to the issue of what's fiction in a 'based on a real story' movie. Come to think of it, which musical bio-pics DID very accurately portray their subject(s)?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Have a Santastic holiday with dj BC

Beantown mash-up genius dj BC (the guy who brought us the Beastles and Wu Orleans) wishes you happy holidaze with his new Santastic Four collection, where he and other aritsts (including Go Home Productions) mix and match holiday records. You can pick out the Ramones, Petula Clark, the Bee Gees, Blondie, the Specials, the Beach Boys, Benny Goodman (I think), Tchaikovsky, Blink-182, Radiohead, the Who and James Brown (the last two mixed together) among others. And best of all, like his other works, he offers these holiday treats free for your entertainment at this website. It's perfect for all of us who are sick of hearing the same holiday songs over and over again every time we walk into a store.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Twelve Tone music commerical

Hilarious stuff for all you highbrow music fans. Thanks to Robert Hull for pointing this out.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Amon Duul II returns... online

With Cluster, Harmonia and Manuel Gottsching being active again, another krautrock group is gearing up for a tour and have a sporty new website to go with it, including photos, history and other such fun things. See the new, improved, official Amon Duul II website.

And by the way, PSF had an interview with founder/guitarist/mainstay John Weinzierl here. We'll have the 2nd part online early next year.