Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 words about Klaatu

The biography of the Canadian progressive rock band Klaatu on Pandora spoke mostly of a rumor that the band was actually the Beatles, started by suggestions in a college newspaper. The rumor provided Klaatu with numbers beyond what a sci-fi boogie band would generally garner, and with that rumor's dissolution went their sales. I wondered how anyone could have fallen for such a flimsy scam; Klaatu are obviously too awesome to have been the Beatles. The Beatles may be many things, but alien orgone rockers they are not. What greater revolution could you say you want than a low-slung orbit?

(Paul McCartney as a Vulcan courtesy of the iPhone Face Melter)

surprisingly linear

Simon Reynolds, Elizabeth Fraser, Robyn Guthrie & Harold Budd - The Moon & The Melodies
Marion Brown Quartet - Why Not? (listen)
Man is the Bastard - Thoughtless... (listen)

I would have never guessed the unmitigated progression of filigree confection from the 80's to loft jazz from the 60's to basement grindcore, or "powerviolence" as I was informed this is, would make any sense, but shockingly, it did!

lunch at The Den

It's not the dearly departed acid reflux factory that was Silver Moon, but The Den down Highland from LSU near Washington is a reasonable substitute. And I emphasize reasonable because entrees at Silver Moon were more of a challenge than a meal practically served in mixing bowls under strata of grease. Not that I didn't love it, mind you; it's just that one was rendered functionless for at least seven hours after eating there.

$6.99 at The Den will get you a formidable plate of smothered chicken stewed to the limit of qualifying as a solid over rice and gravy with homemade mac & cheese and mustard greens and cornbread. The lunch specials rotate throughout the week. I gaze into my soul food afterglow and see chicken fried steak in my near future.

The chicken is rich and savory, falling off the bone, and I will laud any new reliable source of greens in my life, but truth be told, the mac was the star; tangy, clumpy, held together well - the absence of a little line of burnt crust was the only flaw keeping it from being the higher Platonic form of mac & cheese.

set phasers on "jangle"

The Pretty Things - The Pretty Things
The Apples in Stereo - Science Faire
The dB's - Stands for Decibels (listen)

go on

2003 was around the last time I was enamored with My Morning Jacket, but then I thought they were The THING, the what-I've-been-looking-for. I know this record by muscle memory, the way I know Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" or my phone number from when I was a kid. There's not a lot of records after this that I know in that same manner. I thought it might be the last, but research reveals Iron & Wine's Our Endless Summer Days came out a year after, and Wilco's A Ghost is Born the year after that. And during Hurricane Gustav I played the shit out of Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III but that was more the affections of desperation than love.

This morning. a phrase-adroit friend parenthetically posited "(if desperation can ever be idle)" and maybe in the reversal lies the truth. Idleness is invariably desperate, while love is entrenched and constantly active. I look at my phone full of recent albums introduced to me by desperate publicists, and while there are things to love to be found in some of these, I don't feel entrenched with these records as I do with the one playing now. Some of them I think are even better records, in one slippery quality or another, but I'm not taking a bullet for any of them like I might for the corny, obvious, riotous traps and tropes of the opening of "One Big Holiday." or the way Jim Jones croons "Cali FORN ya."

I do, however, hit "next" a lot through those new records like I always have done with "I Will Sing You Songs" which follows "One Big Holiday" like a sad puppy. When we are in the trenches, we can gloss over the obvious. (listen)

Now that I think of it, I've never listened to the whole album Fly Like an Eagle outside of the singles. (listen) In the Village Voice review, Robert Christgau sighs "But in the end his borrowed hooks and woozy vocal charm are an irresistible formula." Which is how I exactly how I feel about My Morning Jacket now.

This post is brought to you by this post at Blurt, about a show of MMJ photos

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

100 words about the park, right now

When we drove up, a young woman was laying out on a beach towel in the dog park, surrounded by dog shit and panting dogs as disinterested in her presence as their self-obsessed owners. A kid just got yanked off the steps to the slide. "You just eat that damn chicken strip in your hand!" The loudmouth old man just bellowed "Where is that kid with the binoculars?" He retrieved them from Chicken Strip's brother, saying they are too expensive to be climbing around with. Maya is playing Amelia Earhart and her friend compromised "OK, but iCarly is her niece."

oh, I get it

The beauty of Julian Cope is that his genius is tainted with numbskullery and vice-versa. Brain Donor sits mainly in the low-cognition part of Cope's sonic spectrum, riffs roughly molded from the True Mud of Man into the shapes of heads, plopped on the sacrificial stone for hardening by the cruel fire in the sky. To give you a sense of things, this EP is entitled Drain'd Boner. Enjoy! (listen)

Drawing Restraint 9 is the Bjork soundtrack for the massive art film of the same name by partner Matthew Barney. I'm not sure how I feel about Barney's work never having witnessed it in full big screen glory, nor am I about Bjork's which I have listened to more times than I can count. I think they are both onto something though If after all these years I still feel (or not feel) this way. (listen)

[225] Review of Generationals - Con Law

In the may 2009 issue of 225 Magazine:

The word generationals is a loose term applied to an even looser group of young adults who, while ostensibly denying easy categorization, actively engage in identity management. Two former members of The Eames Era cleverly adopted this term to name their new group for whom categorization is easily dismissed. Their debut Con Law, available as a pay-what-you-like digital download, reflects the media-saturated times, moving effortlessly between dance floor rock (“Bobby Beale”) and happy-go-lucky sing-a-long (“Faces in the Dark”) without getting caught in the traps of a particular genre. It’s not hard to find a group willing to throw every cultural reference they know in the blender, but Generationals is the rare group that makes something delicious and unique out of it.

Consider “Exterior-Street-Day.” The opening has a big rock sheen that wedges with insouciant deadpan vocals, slyly inverting a disaffected vibe into something heartwarming to underscore how well-crafted this music can be. “It Keeps You Up” is a total classic: erudite, wordy and catchy as hell. “Our Time (2 Shine)“ has a slight reggae lean worked into an organ-driven idyll. Every song here has a little bit of a lot of things in it. But Con Law is a record filled to the brim with smart music, the kind too fun for you to worry about what kind of music it is.

Essential tracks: “Bobby Beale,” “Faces in the Dark,” “It Keeps You Up”

Recommended if you like: Squeeze, Of Montreal, Modest Mouse


[The Record Crate] The Situation at Chelsea's

The situation with Chelsea's losing its liquor license is disappointing. Not because of the vagaries of licensing or zoning draconia; I don't pretend to understand the mechanics of that racket. It is disappointing because it is hard to find something that works for Baton Rouge. Places are deemed too cliquish or not cliquish enough, too weird or too normal. Chelsea's acts as a bridge between the bread-and-butter normalcy of Baton Rouge's core and its bubbly progressive fringe. Having two bars under one roof so that live music fans and people who just want to drink and play foosball can all find something to do is brilliant. Patio dining, hell, food associated with nightlife at all, a decent sound system, dance floor and a roster of roots-oriented music (but not exclusively)—Chelsea's covers most of the bases. It's a good idea that actually works in Baton Rouge. Hopefully the government forces intent on shutting it down will find some way to keep it open and continue to keep collecting their licensing fees. Let one of the rare sustainable, home-grown, good ideas in town keep the doors open.

Speaking of home-grown ideas, Dave Hinson (of Baton Rouge Symphony, Polly Pry, and Righteous Buddha) is looking for performers to stage Terry Riley's In C in Spanish Town on May 9. The 1964 piece is designed to allow an indeterminate number of performers of varying skill levels come together and create something grand. The simple score can be found here. If interested, get in touch with me through the 225 contact page and I will pass your info on to Dave.

Fest For All is poised to take over downtown Baton Rouge this weekend, featuring Henry Gray, Cohen & the Ghost, Washboards Chaz Blues Trio and the Myrtles among others on two stages. Piquing my interest are the Sax Project, a saxophone quartet augmented for the day by John Smart of Righteous Buddha on organ, and Zazou City, self-described New Orleans Gypsy Jazz. The full schedule can be found here. The usual assortment of food vendors and kids entertainment will be in effect—I am predicting my Saturday will involve face painting and a shark-kebab. I could complain that Fest For All is not edgy enough to stick out or that it is smack dab in the middle of the pileup of other festivals competing for attention, but truthfully, I'm glad it happens. Hope they've got all their papers in order.

Wednesday, April 29

Diplo (performing at Velcro) at Spanish Moon

Selwyn Cooper and the Sharecroppers at Teddy's Juke Joint

Thursday, April 30

Maybelle at Red Star

Candlebox at The Varsity

The Mighty Orq and The Rip at North Gate Tavern

Friday, May 1

Panthalassa (CD Release party) at Spanish Moon

Meriwether at The Varsity

Bright City Lights at Click's

Marcus Elizondo and Todd O'Neill at Boudreaux & Thibodeaux's

Randy Pavlock at Teddy's Juke Joint

Kenny Neal at Phil Brady's

Saturday, May 2

Here is Why and The Heist at North Gate Tavern

Lucid and Shattered Display at North Gate Tavern

The Anteeks at Boudreaux & Thibodeaux's

Eden Brent at Teddy's Juke Joint

The Roebucks at Phil Brady's

Sunday, May 3

Eden Brent at Teddy's Juke Joint

Tuesday, May 5

MC Chris and Whole Wheat Bread at Spanish Moon

Link to original

the thing vs. the name of the thing

Richard Swift's "Bat Coma Motown" off The Atlantic Ocean. Winner: the name of the thing.

The band Viva L'American Death Ray Music. Winner: name edges out the band itself by a slim margin. But find me a cooler band name and I'll buy you a sandwich. (listen)

The Nation of Ulysses - Plays Pretty for Baby. Winner: tops all categories, including sartorial display, quality of manifesto, use of the word hickey, and completeness of vision.

well, hasn't it?

I was an am an unabashed fan of Cassadaga, the final salvo from the Bright Eyes franchise, but I couldn't muster a printable opinion of the previous Conor Oberst solo outing. I like the title of this one very much - Outer South - maybe more than I do the record. It is streaming at NPR, which I'm tempted to say speaks volumes, but then, I listen to NPR and repost a lot of stuff from there, speaking counter-volumes. Upon first listen I find it Dylan-y and Band-y and confident and all, just like the last one, but I want him to envelope my attention like an amoeba attacking a crumb like he did with Cassadaga, not just slither around the corners of it.

I have similar problems with the new Bob Dylan. It is unrealistic to expect someone to have the same effect on you as they did in an earlier phase of their career, the one you fell for. If you offered up A Bigger Bang as the sole evidence for the Rolling Stones' consecration into the pantheon, I'd laugh - and that isn't even that bad of a modern Stones record. I'm just not bananas over Bob Dylan the Master Stylist as exhibited in his recent records. The records all sound great, but well, they ought to. The looser approach to this record appeals to me, but Dylan is better when he makes you think he's being loose, and maybe that is what's going on here too. Maybe I like Dylan best when he's making me think I'm recognizing he's making it look loose. It is more likely that I enjoy the layers I put on Bob Dylan more than I like Bob Dylan himself, regardless of period. (listen)

The light shining out of my navel as I gaze upon the above only serves to illuminate the pleasures to be found in Waylon Forever, the collection of 1995 demos Waylon Jennings recorded with his son, particularly the reflective ballad "Outlaw Shit" packed lovingly in heavy syrup and feedback. Don't you think this outlaw shit has gotten out of hand?

oom papa mau mau

I evoked the venerable country vocal quartet in a recent Country Roads article about the Livingston Parish Country & Gospel Jubilee, and then giddy up, in the No Depression news feed this morning was this

The Oak Ridge Boys covering the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" on their forthcoming album The Boys are Back (May 19). One wonders what they would/could do with "Bohemian Rhapsody." To their credit, they bring the raggedness the song asks, even getting a little disco on it in the middle there. Novelty cover stunt: effective. They do, however, look a little like the cast of a contemporary-country production of Lord of the Rings at a Branson tourist theater.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

my life in the bush of chronic

Diplo - Decent Work for Decent Pay (listen)
Muggs presents the Soul Assassins Chapter 1 (listen)
N.A.S.A. - The Spirit of Apollo (listen)

I like all this, but I can't find a lot to say about it except that I like how David Byrne's ahhhhhOOOOOOOHHH singing style in the N.A.S.A. stands in for the Funkadelic/Dr. Dre "California" squeal on the Muggs compilation.

a pummeling by soft blows

Among the mystic cabal of falsely-monikered "American primitive" guitarists, Peter Walker is becoming my favorite. He offers a more internalized look at the acoustic guitar's innate exploratory properties; one gets the sense that he is playing guitar from the inside, peering through the strings like they are powerlines spied through a basement apartment window. This collection Long Lost Tapes 1970, rife with temple bells, flutes, and tabla/bongo outbursts, VU guitars diffused in the imagined light of Far East speakeasys, further plumbs the depths of Walker's sonic mystery. (listen)

I have to be primed to take in music as delicate and tender as Vasthi Bunyan's, otherwise I can barely feel her songs made of whispers and dust motes and shed feathers as they land on my skin. (listen) That pummeling by soft blows, though, does set an ear up for Robert Wyatt's difficult and enchanting song un-writing. I'm tempted to say Wyatt invented lo-fi, not the sound quality, but the aesthetic. I wonder is so much slapdash indie rock would have been deemed allowable without old Rottenhat telling us to loosen up. Ruth is Stranger than Richard is one of the greatest Wyatt records, right at the fulcrum of weirdnee and sweetness. The velveteen buzz of the organ on this record sound like someone fell asleep on the keyboard in just the right position to release the dream chord into the air.

Alvin Lucier has likely done exactly that at some point in his career. He takes a scientific approach to experimental music, allowing the answers to simple questions of acoustic phenomena become poetry, revealing the often ignored wit of the universe. Here are his notes on Music for Piano with Magnetic Strings.

Years ago I met a music critic who said he didn’t like music made with wires. He was referring to my Music on a Long Thin Wire which had just been installed at the Landmark Center in Saint Paul, as part of New Music America Minneapolis 1980. I retorted that he must not like the piano; it contained over two hundred and fifty of them.

When Lois Svard asked me to write her a piece, my mind flashed back to that encounter and I imagined a work in which the strings of a piano would sound by themselves. In Music on a Long Thin Wire a large horseshoe magnet straddles the wire creating a flux field around it which, in conjunction with a current from an oscillator, causes the wire to vibrate and sound. For a piano work I would need several small magnets to activate more than one string at a time. I bought several EBows, small electromagnets used primarily with electric guitars. I experimented, placing them on the strings of my piano. I discovered that if I waited long enough, certain strings would begin sounding.

I wrote Lois a prose score, describing the process and suggesting she freely position and reposition five EBows on the piano strings, creating strands of sounds of varying density and texture. Much of her time is spent listening for harmonics, audible beating, occasional rhythms produced as one or more magnets vibrates against adjacent strings, and other acoustic phenomena. (from here)

Lucier's music is all about the waiting, and sixteen minutes in, the hums of the magnets start to overtake the piano as a whole; you can hear what may be the rattling of the hardware. One wonders is you had the right vibrations going, you might coax one of the hammers to hit, effectively closing the loop and having the piano play itself.

Anthony Burr is one of Lucier's great interpreters, but this album The Clarinets is the first music of his I believe I have heard. Burr, along with Chris Speed and Oscar Noriega on clarinet and bass clarinet, engage in a number of trio improvisations with telling names like "Constellation" and "Mockingbird" exploiting the instrument's haunting and flatulent qualities in an orderly and imaginative fashion. I know that description sounds more clinical than evocative, but it fits and sometimes even I just want the bare facts and not the gilded life story.

Monday, April 27, 2009

toward an art pop manifesto

I read about Gabriel Kahane in the NYTimes this weekend, one of a growing trend of classical musicians applying their advanced training to the pop arena, not so much bridging the gap between the two but releasing themselves from the bonds of either. (listen) I happen to think this dissavowed nexus is where some of the most interesting new music is coming from lately, from folks who know their way around both Radiohead and Schubert lieder and know what to take from each side and what to leave behind.

The big art nerd in me appreciates the sentiments and sarcasm likely intended in this title

Never underestimate the allure of a great idea: check out his "Craigslistlieder," a piano setting of Craigslist personal ads, from his 2006 album Walking Away from Winter. (listen)

There are similar intentions in David Bowie, wanting to tap into something grand while being immediately accessible. Take "Space Oddity"(listen) - this is a song covering a lot of ground, moving between power chord crunch to Nelson Riddle delicacy as quickly as pivoting in an office chair.

The difference is that these young artists - Kahane, Nico Muhly, and William Brittelle being a few examples - maintain a consistent texture to their material, a signature stroke. Bowie was a magpie in comparison, identifiable by his call and the luminous grooming of his feathers. Bowie, under all the high-minded architecture is still rock 'n' roll first. These new artists are after something a little different I think.

Speaking of different - behold Kraut! Demons! Kraut! a collection of largely unknown German psychedelia form 1968-1974. (via Ongakubaka) Set the controls to the heart of Bavaria! It goes great with the "naked wizard tazed by police at Coachella" video making the rounds.


Mexican Institute of Sound is all the rage for a number of reasons. 1) It is the creative product of Camilo Lara, the VP of Marketing from EMI Mexico, a guy who probably knows how to generate interest in Mexican music, 2) their live shows are convert-builders, given what I've heard after their JazzFest performance this past weekend, and 3) try to not love this music. (listen)

It made me think of when Amores Perros was in the theaters and everyone that saw it was an immediate, if temporary, convert to Mexican hip-hop. (listen) Particularly, this song right here.

A link through guitarist Gustavo Santaolalla who provides the instrumental score for Amores perros brought me to this fiery record by soprano Dawn Upshaw, tearing through two song cycles, the first by Osvaldo Golijov, and the second one by Luciano Berio. (listen) Much as I am a fan of the virtuoso pyrotechnics Berio brings out in an artist, it pales in comparison to her reading of Golijov in these two contrasting, consecutive pieces: "Una Madre Comió Asado" (A Mother Roasted her Child)

and "Tancas Serradas a Muru" (Walls are Encircling the Land)

makes you feel like a big shot

I'm working on an article about the Harlem Underground Band, a 1976 psychedelic soul record George Benson played on in that gap between bop and "Give me the Night", and two of the songs were dovetailed in with some bluesy funk excursions this Benson album (listen) from around the same time.

Man, I love Los Lobos. I forget all about them, and then I start clicking around for something to listen to and there they are, hanging out on that same corner of inventive production and bar-band comfort. This Time sounds just as good today as it did a decade ago when I bought it. (listen) This song in particular:

I guess you really mean it when you release your album on tape. Makes the neo-vinyl fetishists seem a little precious, don't it? Tapes are the medium of the People, yo. Your vinyl copy of Pyromania or Hallowed Ground didn't stay in your car stereo for months on end, documenting the highs and lows of your golden years; your tape copy did. You didn't drag a turntable out behind the shed the time you made out with your cousin, it was that shitty jambox with that one tape your cousin had. You wore out a tape, literally listening it to death. The delightful Explode into Colors are leading this retro-volution with their tape-quality jamz (MySpace via MBV)

Just to tie up this loose post, I think I bought This Time on tape, possibly the last tape purchase I ever made.

My first web page

My very first GeoCities web page is still up and running in its MS Paint, GIF Construction Set glory, but Yahoo!, GeoCities new owner, is going to shut it down some time this coming year. It was a good run, Soho 1274. I would amend the "general" page that I have a child and no longer smoke, but who knows how or if you can you even update this thing now.

This page, for a set of drawings from an art show I had at the defunct Burn gallery (later to become Insomkneeacks) was my finest html hour. I think I sold that whole set of drawings.

With it goes the subsite for the Happy Hour, a lounge music show I did at KBRH back in 1997. Adios, indeed.

Magically, the Spanish Town Rock Association site is still up!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

First Friday Jazzfest roundup

I caught most of what I intended with the exception of MyNameIsJohnMichael and the Mahalia Jackson

Upon entrance to the fairgrounds, I stopped at the Jazz & Heritage stage to get my bearings. As the Kumbaka African drum and Dance Collective was rippling through the polyrhythms, echoing that which echoes around the grounds before me, a tourist next to me pulled out a ziploc bag full of neatly rolled joints. Tempered by the tinge of the sunblock I was using, my JazzFest smelled like a whiff of pot smoke.

I made my way over to the Congo Square stage, where the most interesting action was taking place, starting with DJ Hektik providing the beats for the Baby Doll Ladies from the New Orleans Society of Dance, a troupe of dancers doing a stage version of parade drill team moves in Mardi Gras mask makeup. It got going when Hektik spun a brass band version of "Money" as each did a quick solo vogue to the audience.

This led into the immediate sissy bounce (to put this is the most delicate of terms, tranny rap) onslaught of Freedia and Nobby, backed by a squad of dancers possessing remarkable control over the butt shake. I loved it for the abrasiveness of the rap, the blatant sexuality of the dancers and the you-ain't-gonna-see-this-back-in-Milwaukee spectacle for the whole thing, but sonically, a little sissy bounce goes a long way.

A friend and I ambled over to the courtyard of the grandstand to take in the polite country stylings of Christian Serpas and Ghost Town. The band is tight, and Serpas looks and sounds great on stage, but I wanted more from his songs. It all felt a little too polite. The courtyard struck my friend and me as a great place to lick your wounds for the rest of the races after losing all your money in the first. I saw an old coot in Tabasco clothes from the hotel store and a cigar, likely enjoying himself for the first time on this nightmare vacation the wife talked him into, but it was a little too tame for me.

I got the requisite mango ice and decided to do my Louisiana duty and see Henry Butler, but when we got to the Congo Square stage, Butler's piano was largely inaudible for a couple songs. Once the power-plink of his piano kicked in though, this started to feel like JazzFest. Traditional New Orleans piano music is something I appreciate in context, it’s not something that finds itself in my usual sonic curation, but when I throw on WWOZ or are at a festival, I love it. I got my fill before it was time to weave on over for the highlight of the day for me, Drive-By Truckers and Booker T. Jones

Rounding the street to the Acura stage, I was struck by the acre of pricey lawn chairs, the kind that fold up into a little bag and get lugged around by harried tourists. There were millions of them arranged in a grid. It’s what I imaging retirement in Florida looks like when first sighted. I shuddered at the realities of my demographic and moved closer to the stage. DBT is hands-down my favorite rock band going. They are as universal as a bar band, yet have hooks into the eternal, be it the mythology of the rock star or the bare bones of life and death. Adding the gravity of Booker T. Jones on organ only made it heavier.

The think I love most about DBT is how they make the tragic into something to rejoice; a thousand frat boys singing along with a tale about a guitarist dying of AIDS or moments of contemplating suicide. In the middle of the set they did a number of instrumentals from Booker T’s Potato Hole album, for which DBT was the backing band, and that is what festival music should sound like. It riffed and cascaded and built and fell and looked like a hell of a lot of fun to play. On the last weekend before the apocalypse, I want to go waterskiing to music like that. The band ended their set with the most unlikely of rock anthems. ‘Let there be Rock” details how Patterson Hood missed out on seeing Lynryd Skynyrd, offering up the ones he saw in their place. How he makes a line like “I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd but I sure saw Molly Hatchet” so moving is a testament to his songwriting and delivery prowess. I never saw either, but I sure saw Drive-By Truckers.

Dinner break involved the coveted cochon de lait poboy: a perfectly soft/hard bun with a line of spicy cole slaw topped with a mound of shredded, succulent, pit-roasted suckling pig. Honestly, I was looking forward to this more than most of the music I saw today, and in kind, it delivered on its promise.

I closed my evening with Spoon. Spoon is one of those bands I love at someone else’s house, or in their car, or at a bar, but I don’t really like at home. This is now the third time I have seen them live in geometrically larger audiences and they kill each time. Their percolating hipster soul act gets all the ladies in eth house, or in this case, field swaying, every foot tapping. Britt Daniels comes off just cocky enough to be a rock star for the Facebook-status crowd. Members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band augmented the sound only pushing this further into festival groove bliss.

I have to say, though, my favorite thing at the Spoon show, and maybe the whole festival, was the sign language interpreter at stage left. Why you would necessarily need one is a little beyond me, but the emphatic, even dramatic way she signed out Spoon’s lyrics took it to the next level. When she signed “I turn my feelings on inside” you could see it in her face and I looked up at the jumbotron of smiling sunburnt girls bouncing around like they were on a jogging trampoline and I saw it, and on the dudes huddled around a pipe behind me bobbing heads as they fumbled with the lighter I saw it, and when they band kicked into hyperdrive, like a Krautrock version of the Knack evoking the sundown at the end of the show, I saw it.

I'm headed back there next Sunday to see Neil Young scold us about our automotive myopia.

Review of Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth

Vacation Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I finished this book last week but waited a bit to see what my reaction would be. Like an exotic tea, you have to give books like this time to steep, a moment to cool off before really seeing what it tastes like. Also like exotic teas, it is very easy to get caught up in the packaging - this book, like most McSweeney's books, is gorgeous. The text on the page seems almost embossed on wedding announcement paper tinted the slightest possible shade of green. The sentences and paragraphs laid out in that text bear a similar care, they are placed just so. This is, and I say this with no denigration intended, the kind of novel I expect poets would enjoy.

But, zoom out from all its crystalline detail and the book seemed a little cold and unbelievable. The details of a marriage in jeopardy are hard to depict because they are so mundane, and this book circumvents that with far-flung locales, poorly-thought-through (by the characters, not the author) quests and, maybe the chilliest of all, shocking cordiality. The characters go about being stupid in ultimately a very adult manner, and maybe I wanted some rashness of character to coincide with their actions. Like many exotic teas, once you get past the tale of origin and special instructions and the really cool tin it came in and reveling in the combined experience, I feel like I drank some hot water.

View all my reviews.

Friday, April 24, 2009

OK by me

Oklahoma governor to sign executive order making the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize?" the state rock song. (Pitchfork)

So where's the Louisiana State Rock Song?

Jazzfest itinerary

Booker T. (With Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young) - Potato Hole (listen) In a mere hour and change I am headed off to JazzFest to witness a set by DBT, the finest rock band in the world, duke it out in the racetrack sun with Booker T. Jones, the finest rock organist in the world, among other acts. I love the Stonesy hard rock strut of this record. The Truckers do that so well. The record comes off a little like the bar band in Heaven. I think it will get a few more spins on the way down.

Time permitting, here is what I am hoping to hit at least in parts this afternoon

some sissy bounce action from Freedia & Nobby

indie trumpet folk from MyNameIsJohnMichael

Piano monster Henry Butler

DBT's and Booker T.

The Mahalia Jackson tribute with Irma Thomas, Mavis Staples and Pamela Landrum


and a cochon de lait poboy will at some point get eaten

Thursday, April 23, 2009

attn: bangers

The One Ensemble Orchestra's Other Thunders (listen) is currently the number 6 album on's Drone charts. I am taking cue from Ice-T and asking that the haters keep their distance and for my crew to help this record BUBBLE! I think it would only take three or four bangers to do so!

Ed: We are already up to #2 and I haven't even posted this yet! This shit is super viral!