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Archive for the ‘Meat Puppets’ Category

[ATTENDED: December 31, 2019] Garcia Peoples

I saw Garcia Peoples about a year ago when they opened for Heron Oblivion.  I really liked them and knew I’d want to see them again.  The fact that this year they were on a bill with Chris Forsyth, who I also really wanted to see, and it was an after-party show after the final Phish show I’d be seeing of the year made it even more cool.

I was even willing to stay in NYC until 3 AM to see it!

I arrived at Le Poissin Rouge early enough to get a slice of pizza in the Village (yum) and even get a drink at LPR (the bartender assumed my change was a tip, apparently).

I parked myself on the right side of the stage (I usually prefer the left side, but it was a little crowded there).  I wound up being right in front of GP’s guitarist Tom Malach (who looked different since last time he wore a toque the whole night).

The big difference between these shows was that last time Andy Cush was on bass, but this time it was Derek Spaldo, who also sang lead vocals much of the time.  I understand Andy is still in the band–do they alternate venues?  Well, whatever the case, I thought Cush was great last time and I thought Spaldo was great this time.

This band is so much fun to watch.  Spaldo is often playing a great grooving bassline while Malach and other guitarist Danny Arakaki trade amazing licks. (more…)

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loveindeSOUNDTRACK: KURT VILE-“Wakin on a Pretty Day” (2013).

Kurt Vile_CVR-31981badf76ce6680de293138b7fbf1807fe323f-s1I don’t really know that much about Kurt Vile.  I’ve been hearing about him for a while. I assumed his name was a kind of joke–like he was a comical metal guy, maybe like Alice Cooper.   That appears to be far from the truth.  I also wasn’t sure if he was well-known outside of the Philly area, but I do know that NPR has championed him for a while.

Well, he has a new album out and since NPR was streaming it, what better time to hear what the long- haired dude is all about.

There is much talk bout his voice (NPR says: There’s something about Kurt Vile’s voice that transcends whatever comes out of his mouth.).  But the whole time I listened to this song (which was a while, as it is over 9 minutes long), I kept thinking that he sounds just like the guy from House of Love, an underrated band here in the States. (He sounds even more like him in Kv Crimes”) It’s not necessarily a bad thing to sound like someone else (often times it can’t be helped I suppose), but it is a little distracting to me.

So this song is kind of groovy.  I like it musically more than vocally (there’s so many “Yeah…yeah yeah yeahs” that I lost the point of the song).  But the music is really good, including Vile’s lengthy guitar solos.  Interestingly, I was kind of bored by the song after about 45 seconds, but by 8 minutes I was really grooving it.  Subsequent listens have made me like it more, it has a kind of Neil Young or maybe Meat Puppets vibe.

My head says there’s really nothing special about this guy and yet after more and more listens, there’s something that draws me to him.  Weird.

[READ: April 2, 2013] Love, An Index

The back of Lindenberg’s book explains that the man she loved, poet Craig Arnold, disappeared in a volcano while traveling in Japan.  For such a very specific kind of event, I don’t think I would have gotten anything quite like that from these poems.  Indeed, for a book that is so specifically created about this man, there’s very little sense of the exact nature of the loss.  In some ways that’s good, it could have been a very maudlin, ungraceful collection of poems if she explicitly talked about volcanoes, but at the same time, the feeling of loss that comes across is less about death and more about abandonment (I would have presumed that the guy had left her).

I really enjoyed these poems even though I have a  really hard time accepting the bulk of these, in particular the thirty-four page title poem, as poetry.

“Love, An Index” is thirty-four pages and it is an index.  Literally, she lists words alphabetically and writes a little “definition” for each one.  There are arbitrary line breaks in the definitions but in no way does it feel like a poem.  Even the individual entries are not very poetic.  Like “Compromise, I will get up early with you/so long as you’ve made coffee.”  Okay, so that’s funny/sweet, but it’s not a poem.  But then what it is?  Yes, it is part of a greater whole and removing part of it diminishes that whole.  But again, what is the whole?  Genre defying I suppose.  Which is cool.  And despite my criticism, I really enjoyed this index.  There were personal notes that I would have no idea about, there were commonplace ideas that are familiar to all.  There’s also a ton of quotes from other poets.  And it all works together to create a beautiful portrait of a relationship. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD-Tiny Desk Concert #165 (October 8, 2011).

This was my first exposure to JEFF the Brotherhood, a rollicking duo who blast out the walls of the NPR studios.  The guitarist and drummer play simple, power punk (quite well) and they sound like a whole band, not just two guys.

“Diamond Way” reminds me of the Meat Puppets–echoey lazy-sounding punk.  ANd the oh oh oh oh oh is very catchy.  And then, after describing an NPR host as sounding like Ira Glass–if he were an old woman (and then apologizing if he offended anyone), they play “Bummer”–shirtless—presumably a first for the NPR offices.

“Bummer” is a mellower song and their sound doesn’t sound less full for the mellowess–especially when he kicks on the distortion pedal.  “Bone Jam” is one of my favorites–more ooh’s and the simple but wonderful lyrics “Gonna grind your bones to make my bread.”  It’ s amazing that two guys can sound this good.

[READ: August 17, 2010] “The Ruin of Amalfitano”

Natasha Wimmer has translated yet another posthumous work from Roberto Bolaño, this one called Woes of the True Policeman, due out this month.

This may already exist, but I hope someone is compiling a family tree of all of the Bolaño characters who have appeared in different locations.  For instance, the Amalfitano in this story appeared in 2666, indeed he has a whole chapter about himself.  And we know it’s the same Amalfitano because they both have a daughter named Rosa.  This story is set before 2666 and these fascinating events would shed some light on the state of Amalfitano when we do meet him in the novel.  Of course, Bolaño’s writings don’t seem to follow a conventional strategy so who knows if he intended any of this to be part of the “missing” Part 6 of 2666.

Anyhow, this story is about Amalfitano, but it opens with Padilla who decided to become an artist at the age of 13.  After dabbling in theater and film, he settled on poetry.  By 17, he was a sarcastic angry kid who could be easily provoked to violence (he claims that when fighting Nazis, anything is permitted).

At 18, he published his first book of poetry and when he was 21 he showed the poems to Amalfitano.  Amalfitano was a teacher of Latin America writers at the University.  He liked Padilla’s poetry, although he didn’t much like Padilla who didn’t come to class very much.  But once Amalfitano gave him praise for the poems, Padilla never missed another class. He even invited Amalfitanoto his house for parties.  After many such parties, the two became lovers.

Once the University learned of this, Amalfitano was fired.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MEAT PUPPETS-KEXP in studio November 10, 2009 (2009).

According to my stats, this is my 1000th post.  Wow!

I had liked the Meat Puppets somewhat when I was into SST back in the 80s, then I really got into them in the late 90s (when Nirvana introduced us to them).  I thought Too High to Die was a great album.  But they kind of fell from those heights (and Cris Kirkwood fell into serious trouble–drugs and jail) by the end of the decade.  So Curt Kirkwood continued without Cris and I kind of didn’t care anymore.

This session from 2009 sees the return of Cris (who came back for their 2007 album) with songs taken from their 2009 album, Sewn Together.  I don’t know what the album sounds like but this session is heavy on the country feel.  The new songs seem quite mellow, and a bit less bizarre than some of their earlier songs.

They sound good though.  Even with the drummer playing garbage cans and recycling bins.  As a sort of encore, they play “Plateau” (a Nirvana cover, ha ha).  About midway through, Curt messes up the lyrics and gives up singing.  But they play the extended coda regardless.

Curt doesn’t come across as the nicest guy in the world, but he’s been through enough to not give a toss what anyone thinks.  I’m glad the Puppets are back together and recording, but I don’t think I’ll be delving too deeply into their new stuff.

[READ: April 19, 2011] Five Dials Number 3

Five Dials Number 3 ups the page quantity a bit (26 in total) and also includes several art print reproductions  from Margaux Williamson, an artist who is mentioned in one of the articles.   This issue really solidifies the quality of this magazine.  It also introduces the possibility of correspondence with the readers.

CRAIG TAYLOR-On Alibis and Public Views
As mentioned, this letter introduces the idea that people are writing to the magazine.  Sadly there is no letters column (even if Paul F. Tompkins hates letters to the editor, for this magazine, I thought they’d be interesting).

CHERYL WAGNER-Current-ish Event: “The Ballad of Black Van.”
This is a true account of Wagner’s life in post-Katrina New Orleans, where a man in a black van is squatting in abandoned properties and selling everything imaginable.  And there’s no cops to help.  It’s a sad look at the state of New Orleans.

DAVID RAKOFF-A Single Film: Annie Hall
I haven’t read much David Rakoff, but he persist in amusing me whenever I do (hint to self: read more by David Rakoff).  This is an outstanding piece about the beloved film Annie Hall.  It’ s outstanding and goes in an unexpected direction too. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BLASTING CONCEPT Volume II (1985).

I listened to this collection of (then) old and new SST artists almost nonstop the summer I bought this.  I remember my friend Al disliking it quite a bit–except for Hüsker Dü, of course.  (I wonder if he would change his mind about any of it now).

This LP was a kind of transition record from the standard bearers of SST (Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, The Minutemen) to the then new young bands (DC3, Angst, Gone).  The Allmusic review dismisses the disc out of hand, but I think that the disc has held up very well.  I didn’t follow SST records too closely in the 90s so I’m not sure what they were doing, but for whatever reason, most of the bands that the average listener hasn’t heard of were dropped (and sadly most of those discs are long out of print, some never released on CD at all–MP3s do appear to be available). The exception of course is any band that Greg Ginn played in (which is most of them, actually), which he of course has kept in print on SST.

SAINT VITUS-“Look Behind You” This song opens the disc and seems to introduce right away that SST is no longer just a punk label.  This is a very metal sound with a wah wahed and fuzzed out guitar all the way through.  It’s mixed in a weird way (which could be SST), which undermines the real heaviness and actually adds some cool effects.

DC3-“Theme From an Imaginary Western” as mentioned, an awesome track.

SWA-“Mystery Girl” a fuzzy distorted track.  It’s heavy, but not very heavy.

BLACK FLAG-“I Can See You” is one of those Black Flag tracks that is all about Greg Ginn’s weird guitar.  He plays a simple melody out of tune with crazy guitar solos over the top.  Rollins is on vocals which are mostly spoken here.  It’s a bizarre throwaway kind of song that I really like.

GONE-‘Watch the Tractor”  This is a wonderful instrumental.  High speed with a great riff that propels about half of the song.  The other half is a heavy kind of mosh that breaks up the proceedings nicely.  This is one of the few bands that no one has heard of from thee days of SST that actually have the album still in print (because Greg Ginn is on it).

WURM-“Death Ride” is not a very good song, but one which I always liked for its simplicity and stupidity. The screamed chorus is really catchy.

OVERKILL-“Over the Edge”  This is not the famous metal band Overkill, but a different metal band named Overkill who got shuffled aside by the (arguably) better, bigger one.  This is the only song I know from this Overkill (now known as Overkill L.A.) and I really like it.  It has a great riff and vocals like Lemmy.

SACCHARINE TRUST-“Emotions and Anatomy” is one of several odd, improvised tracks on this compilation. It seems like perhaps everyone is playing his own thing and the lyrics are some strange little rant.

PAINTED WILLIE-“The Big Time” is more raucous style of song, reminiscent of earlier SST recording.  The most interesting part comes at the end with the falsetto voices threatening to take over the song.  They play a kind of sloppy punk-lite that would likely be very popular today.

ANGST-“Just Me” After DC3 this is my second favorite unknown song on the album.  It has a great bass line with some angular guitars over the top.  It actually sounds a lot like later Hüsker Dü, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

MEAT PUPPETS-” I Just Want to Make Love To You” I’ve like the Meat Puppets for ages.  And this absurd cover of the blues song is one of the oddest songs this odd band has recorded.  The solo sounds like it comes from under a volcano.  It’s not a great song (and should probably be two minutes shorter), but it is kind of fun.

MINUTEMEN-“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” The always awesome Minutemen engage us with this awesome cover of Van Halen’s “Aint Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.  In 1 minute they undermine all of the overblownedness of the original.  Check out the live version here.

HÜSKER DÜ-“Erase Today” This is simply fantastic.  This is an early punk song of theirs.  Catchy and fast and wonderful.

OCTOBER FACTION-“I Was Grotesque” Another weird improv piece.   It’s filled mostly with drums and strange rantings–kind of beatniky.  Here’s a live show from the band from 1984.

TOM TROCCOLI’S DOG-“Todo Para Mi”  This song has a cool riff. Although Troccoli’s voice is questionable at best.  It more or less devolves into a nonsense jam and is too long at 6 minutes.  It’s not a great way to end the album, but maybe it’s last for a reason.

[READ: March 21, 2011] “Who Am I?”

I have been hearing about Demetri Martin for a few years now.   How he’s the hot new comic. And yet I’ve never come across anything he’s done (even though I think Comedy Central repeated his shows practically on the hour when they first aired). So this short piece is my first exposure to him.  I’m going to assume it is not a fair representation of his comedy as he is normally a stand up and writing is not the same as stand up.  (That’s not to say it’s not good, just that it’s not his natural medium).

This was a short piece in the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs section. It asks and answers the titular question “Who Am I?” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: fIREHOSE-“fROMOHIO” (1989).

After the punk of The Minutemen, you wouldn’t expect the sound of fROMOHIO to come from Mike Watt and friends.  The opening song, “Riddle of the Eighties” is quite poppy, but with a countryish flair.  In fact, much of the beginning of the disc sounds not unlike the Meat Puppets–southwestern punk.  Track two, “In My Mind,” has a wonderful latin/Mexican feel to it (singer Ed Crawford has that whole southwestern vibe down quite well, even if they are from Pedro).

The disc also has what I’ve learned is that peculiar SST Records sound–almost nonexistent bass, despite what Watt is accomplishing.  Actually the bass is there, and it’s mixed fine but it’s much lower than you might expect for what they’re playing.

Even track three “Whisperin’ While Hollerin'” which is all about the bass (with cool blasts of guitar over the top) doesn’t have a lot of low end in it.  The bass sounds crisp and clear (which is good), just not very deep.  “Mas Cojones” is a weird one.  Funk bass with disco guitars over the top and some odd spoken word from Watt.

The highlight is “What Gets Heard,” a great funky fast bassline with angular guitars and vocals by Watt.  Near the end of the disc, “Some Things” is another solid song, really typical of this period: great bass, great guitar work and yet still a lot of punk.  And “Liberty for Our Friend” is a great folk singalong, and I dare you not to singalong by the end.

There’s also some fun, unexpected bits.  There’s a pretty acoustic guitar solo called, “Vastopol” and two (!) drum solos “Let the Drummer Have Some,” and the wonderfully titled, “‘Nuf That Shit, George.”

And its all packaged as really short songs (most around 2 minutes, with late songs running longer).  It’s a fun disc and a worthy addition to the SST catalog.

[READ: October 25, 2010] “Caught”

After the seriousness of “My Father’s Brain,” this true story about Franzen’s wicked days in high school was tremendously enjoyable, possibly one of my favorite pieces that I’ve read by him.

The piece opens with the incredibly tempting story about students successfully pranked their high school by managing to get a tire over the top of a 34-foot flagpole.  This sets in motion Franzen and friends’ attempts to do the same to their school’s 40 foot flagpole (there’s even a diagram or three!).  The story is exciting and filled with secretive plotting as they try so many different ways to get that tire over the top of the flagpole.

There’s a great bit of self-deprecation from Franzen.  He admits that although one of his friends was far more architecturally-minded, he himself was far more persuasive.  Ultimately, their gang put his “Devices” to work, which are universally decried as pieces of shit.

Although I assumed that the tale would focus only on their attempts at flag pole ringing, in fact the group undertook many pranks.  At first they called themselves U.N.C.L.E., but then they changed their name to the far more amusing (with an incredibly involved explanation) DIOTI.  DIOTI undertake several delicious pranks including removing the clappers from all of the bells in the school (and leaving a series of poems as  clues for where they are) and piling all of the classroom desks into one room.  (The “centrally located” comment and its resultant embrace by the school is simply wonderful). (more…)

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