Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Atari Teenage Riot > NEW TRACK + TOUR!

holy crap new ATR! caution, excessive strobe lights.

09/23: New York, NY @ The Gramercy Theater
09/24: Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
09/26: Pittsburgh, PA @ Diesel
09/27: Austin, TX @ Red 7
09/28: Dallas, TX @ Trees
09/29: Houston, TX @ Groundhall
09/30: Los Angeles, CA @ KeyClub
10/1: Chicago, IL @ The Bottom Lounge
10/2: Montreal @ Foufounes Electriques
10/4: Toronto @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
10/5: Edmonton @ New City
10/6: Calgary @ The Gateway @ Sait
10/7: Vancouver @ Rickshaw Theatre

Friday, August 27, 2010

if i could talk i'd tell you
Lemonheads at Crazy Donkey, Farmingdale Long Island
setlist included (not in order): it's a shame about ray, into your arms, great big no, big gay heart, allison's starting to happen, drug buddy, if i could talk i'd tell you. and a whole bunch more.

Evan Dando unplugged

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Capstan Shafts: Revelation Skirts (Rainbow Quartz)
release: August 24, 2010
style: power pop indie rock
[rating: **] Rainbow Quartz had been releasing a ton of psychedelia and garage rock, from the Grip Weeds to Lilys to Telepathic Butterflies. I kinda wish they stuck with that exclusively, because one-person band the Capstan Shafts is not making me feel like everything feels good. Dean Wells, who had help from producer/drummer Matt LeMay, is like a power popping Billy Bragg with no cause. All the melodies are plain and interchangeable, while the vocals are sleepy and sometimes off-key. Maybe having only one other person to work with is the problem, as there is no one to give him feedback while he's playing all those instruments! I mean, i dig the Dinosaur Jr style guitar solos, but track after track there's a strong sense that Wells is not fullfilling his potential. -Kenyon

Friday, August 20, 2010

movies left for dead

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) If there has ever been a film that you can call "not for the squeamish," it's Cannibal Holocaust--hell, it was banned in like 50 countries. A groundbreaking, shocking cannibal film that, although isn't perfect, set the bar for copycats (Welcome to the Jungle, anyone? Kenyon raises his hand). Shot on 16mm, it's gruesome and explicit, even by today's standards. It's even controversial within the film itself, while the production and filming faced all sorts of problems. If you want to get deep, read up about the social-political messages it represents. Without spoiling anything (really, it's just something you have to see), most of the first half of the film follows an anthropologist searching in the Amazon jungle for a lost group of people who were filming some sort of twisted documentary about native tribes, and apparently, cannibal tribes. Although the group is notorious for setting up graphic scenes, they are now dead, and likely eaten. The search party is able to obtain the film reels and bring them back to the U.S, where they discover that the footage is not at all appropriate for public exposure. As the film within a film progresses, the documentary crew pushes things WAY too far in their quest to fabricate their story. Inevitably, they end up as bones. Now, there are some scenes in Holocaust--some of it is REALLY effed up--that are REAL. That said, the uncut version deserves an NC-17 rating, as it is difficult to forget. [rating: $10] -Kenyon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tears Run Rings
Distance (Clairecords)
release: August 24, 2010
style: dream pop, shoegaze
similar: Daysleepers, Soundpool, Sky Drops
rating: ***] Few of the contemporary dreampop/shoegaze bands have been able to carry the torch through the last decade. Most claim to have been influenced by My Bloody Valentine (who isn't?) but aren't doing it right. Tears Run Rings is one of the few that know what to do. They might be blatantly ripping off Slowdive on most of Distance, and it's gonna piss off some fans of Slowdive (hell, Slowdive THEMSELVES may be pissed), but at least it sounds like a band that's genuinely spent hours listening to Slowdive's Souvlaki. And TRR's second album is what Slowdive's follow-up would have sounded like if they didn't go the more experimental route. In fact, given the formula of the hushy male/female vox and guitar effects that produce a haze of swooping synth-like white noise, it's dangerously close. Like, "orange level alert" close. Distance is also the first release for Clairecords in two years, so this was the right choice with which to resume. -Kenyon


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Boom Boom Boom let's go back to my Woom.
Following tours with Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu, this avant-garde duo continues to re-invent itself. Interview by Kenyon Hopkin

The curiously named Woom is experimental yet warm and melodic. Partly inspired by cutting edge artists such as Judith Malina, Jerome Rothenberg, Lygia Clark and Brigitte Fontaine, the duo of Sara Magenheimer and Eben Portnoy--both visual artists--originate from Philadelphia and Massachusetts, respectively. While with their previous outfit Fertile Crescent, Sara and Eben toured extensively with Deerhoof. The now West coast-based Woom is promoting Muu’s Way (Ba Da Bing records), which brought them to Europe for dates with indie art rock band Xiu Xiu (Kill Rock Stars records). The fact alone that Woom knows Evil Dead takes place in a cabin in the woods makes it worth talking to them.

Advance Copy: How did Woom develop, musically?
Sara: We started playing together six years or so ago and our style and interests have been evolving collaboratively since then.
Eben: It was a process of accrual, a ball rolling down a hill, picking up pieces, sticks, and pebbles, smashing into stuff.

AC: You worked on Muu's Way in the woods. Were you in a cabin and were you scared?
Sara: We were in the woods, yes, and it was the winter, so the ground was covered in ice. At night there were sounds that we couldn't identify, which was sometimes scary, but also exciting.
Eben: We were recording in a barn used to store a tractor, beekeeping equipment, and potatoes. It was a little bit scary, less like Evil Dead scary and more like The Shining scary.

AC: You had a couple big shows with Beirut in New York. How did that go?
Sara: They both went really well. The sound guys at the Music Hall of Williamsburg really worked with us to make sure the sound was totally what we wanted for the second night. It's rare to have sound people really invested in the opening band. Beirut's audience was really receptive, which was great and not totally expected since our music is pretty different.
Eben: We love Beirut's music so it was great to have the chance to play with them, and like Sara says, the audience was pumped.

AC: What was your experience like touring in Europe? Highlights? lowlights?
Sara: Touring Europe was incredible. I have family in Rome who I hadn't seen in nine years. Being able to attend my cousin's six year old's birthday party was pretty special. She made him a cake in the shape of a stegasaurus. The shows were all pretty amazing too. We did a week with Xiu Xiu that was totally inspiring and bar-raising. We toured Italy, Germany, Utrecht, London, France, and Portugal. Lowlights were mostly just ugly traveling issues. We were lucky that all the musical aspects went amazingly well.
Eben: Highlights were getting asked to play a second time at the Musica Nella Valle festival in northern Italy and playing with all the amazing bands there and opening for Xiu Xiu. Lowlights were typical tour stuff: stuck walking the streets of Bologna with all our stuff and no way to get to Frankfurt, lack of sleep, wine spilled on guitar pedals.

AC: What are some unusual instruments or effects equipment you have used?
Sara: I play a yoga ball inflation tube live.
Eben: The "drum" recorded on "Back In" was a huge plastic tub.

AC: Your song "the Hunt" sounds like it's about some guy killing animals. What's it about?
Sara: The lyrics of that song are sort of metaphorical stand-ins for other content, more emotional than literal.
Eben: The Owl and the Hunter are like these primal archetypes of two possible approaches to life in the world, and they both are moving in violence. One is integrated into "the cycle" and the other is coming from a distance, and the song is about this distance.

AC: How does being in a band with your partner work to an advantage or disadvantage?
Sara: We're partners. We're collaborators. We're in it together, creatively. That relationship is intense and has benefits and drawbacks. We just completed a two month tour so right now we're psyched that we can actually pull off our sonic ideas with just two people.
Eben: A lot of people seem to think we're married. After being in bands together for six years I guess we do start to look alike, always accidentally wearing the same colors on the same day and so forth. We have a healthy antagonism going that keeps things interesting, but we also have a real tangible joy in making music together.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

built to spill at crazy donkey, long island july 29, 2010

doug martsch and friends

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Titles> "When You Were Young"

Titles, "When You Were Young" from Shark Party Media on Vimeo.

Not to be confused with the song by the Killers, this "When You Were Young" is from Titles' next album Dirt Bell, out next month. The leader of the band used a Lite-Brite in the video for this heart-warming tune. So naturally, i'm down. -Kenyon

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cut Copy >> new track + a few U.S dates

Full length due by January. U.S dates so far:

8/6 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
8/7 – Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
8/8 – Brooklyn, NY @ Jelly Pool Party at East River State Park

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Coral > new video + record out
British band the Coral just released Butterfly House and Mani of Stone Roses/Primal Scream is saying it's the best thing he's heard since the Stone Roses' first album. Well, Butterfly House is a great record, but not THAT great. Still, this single will probably make it into my top 20 for 2010. The breezy, buttery leather harmonies of "1000 Years" bridges classics from America and CSNY with peer Brit bands Starsailor and Travis. As far as videos go, the Coral makes much better use of the desert than the Stone Roses. -Kenyon

Sunday, July 11, 2010

movies left for dead.

Magic (1978) Ventriloquist dummies are creepy, and a young Anthony Hopkins and his dummy Fats more than fulfill that notion. Sort of a twist on Psycho and other movies with someone who has a split personality, Corky is a troubled guy who is overcome by the identity of Fats. Magic is well made and acted, though the only thing missing in this early psychological horror film is a clear reason as to why Corky is off balance (something with his parents?) and how and why he decided to acquire a dummy after failing as a magician. [rating: $5] -Kenyon
Wood Chipper Massacre (late 1980s) Amateur, camcorder-shot sorta horror-comedy concerning three kids that accidently kill their aunt and dispose of her in the woodchipper. There's a video on youtube that condenses the whole movie into a few minutes, which is really all that's necessary. Oh and the acting is beyond-the-door bad. [rating: $0] -Kenyon
The Abomination (late 1980s) A bizarre grotesque parasite thing is spawned at a man's house. First its under his bed and then in the kitchen cabinets and clothes washer. It makes him kill people for food, including his mother, who is too dumb to get away from a monster confined to the cabinets and slow to stretch out its tentacles. Amusing for its cheap gore. [rating: $1] -Kenyon
Mosquito (1994) Campy, fun gore via giant mosquitos. Cast includes Gunnar Hanson (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) who pays homage to himself by picking up a chainsaw. Fun times, unless you have a serious phobia of mosquitos. [rating: $6]
Piranha II: the Spawning (1982) The piranhas have mutated into flying piranhas. Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead) highlights the cast, who is directed by James Cameron (!) for his first feature film. Spawning is slow moving for most of the first hour, so it's only worth seeing the fish attacking. Appreciate this now before the remake of the original comes out. [rating: $2] -Kenyon
Bloody Murder (1999) Low budget slasher that blatantly rips-off the most basic stories (guy with hockey mask terrorizing people at a camp, sound familiar?). While the potential victims speculate on who is the maniac, Bloody Murder goes into different directions for no reason other than to fill time. Total dud. [rating: $0] -Kenyon

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Beers, steers and tears.
Museum Mouth stays hip in the south.

Photo by Sarah Ellen Churchill

interview by Kenyon Hopkin

Museum Mouth--who pulls its name from a song by Cap’n Jazz--is from a small town just outside of Wilmington, North Carolina. There's not a hell of a lot to do in that quiet town, yet the band is still rocking and rolling. The young trio are going to some big cities to support the self-released Tears in My Beer, which showcases the band's lo-fi indie-garage punk pop. All three members--Savannah Levin (vocals/bass), Graham High (guitar) and Karl Kuehn (vocals/drums)--were able to express themselves.

Advance Copy: What is life like in Southport? You're right on the coast there, so it must be beautiful. Is there any kind of music scene there? i guess you need to go to Wilmington for that?
Karl: It is really pretty, but it’s super boring. And in terms of a music scene, there’s nothing. There’s one other band from Southport, but they hate us. And Wilmington’s music scene is questionable.
Savannah: It's way too easy to sleep all day in Southport. Yea, it really is completely gorgeous, but hey, looks aren’t everything. And if by “music scene” in Southport you mean retired old people, we have a lot.
Graham: Southport is really pretty if there’s no one around, but as soon as people are around its pretty obnoxious.

AC: Are you excited to be making your way up to New York? Have you played or been there before?
Graham: Honestly I think there’s nothing special about New York. I’ve been in big cities, is there anything inspirational about them? Fuck no.
Karl: I'm excited. I’ve been to New York before but not with this band, and not to play a show, so I’m really excited to be playing there.
Savannah: My sisters lived in NYC for a while now so I’ve been quite a bit and I think it gets better every time you go so I’m pretty pumped on going and the band that were playing with there, Sleepies, is fucking awesome.

AC: Do you think you'll stay in NC or do you have plans to move to Portland, Oregon or Brooklyn or Austin?
Graham: I'm planning on moving to Baltimore because I hear they have a high crime rate.
Savannah: We’re sorta playing it by ear. We probably won’t stay in NC but nothing else is for sure.
Karl: I’m more concerned with when our next show is gonna be or how we're gonna put out our next record right now. Not really thinking about the distant future too much.

AC: Any ideas on how to stop the spewing oil in the gulf?
Karl: The world is filling with oil! I need to get a pug NOW!
Graham: It’s too late to stop it now. Everything’s fucked as it is.
Savannah: My mom cries every time she sees coverage on it saying “the dolphins, the dolphins” over and over again.

AC: Your indie rock sound recalls the spirit of early indie pop bands like Beat Happening, the Vaselines and Go Sailor and some of the stuff from the influential C86 U.K. comp. Do you sometimes wish you were part of that era in the mid to late 80s? Or are you happy with 2010?
Graham: I’m fine with 2010 because the 1980s are pretty inconceivable to me.
Karl: I’m happy with 2010. Granted I wasn’t around in the 80s, but so far 2010 hasn’t been as awesome as 2009.
Savannah: I would much rather live in the mid to late 80s. Wasn't that when The Goonies was made?

AC: Your song "Outside" says "I'm sorry Salinger". Is that an apology to author JD Salinger?
Savannah: It's sort of an apology. When I wrote those lyrics it was more about apologizing to the things that used to mean a lot to me in a time when I felt really out of touch. It is directed at that author because he’s one of my favorites.

AC: How was radfest? looks like fun times.
Graham: I drank. So much. Duck Rabbit. It was wonderful.
Savannah. Gross. Duck Rabbit is a terrible beer made in Farmville, NC. Fuck that stuff. But on more serious things, Rad Fest was mind-blowingly awesome. My heart will break if there’s not a Rad Fest 2.
Karl: It was a blast. I loved all the bands we saw and all the bands we played with and I loved all the Chason. It was cool to play so close to home under such awesome circumstances. And so many friends everywhere, so good.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An eight-nation army couldn't hold them back.
Pack a.d. is cooler than the White Stripes.

photo by Justine Warrington
interview by Kenyon Hopkin

Vancouver duo Pack a.d. is the most bad-ass blues-rock-punk chick duo you will hear this side of the Canadian border. But it would be wise not to compare guitarist/vocalist Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller to the White Stripes or Black Keys just cause they are two people playing bluesy rock. They definitely have more edge and grit. There's also some shades of L7 in the Pack's 2010 release, We Kill Computers (Mint records). Songs like "Deer" and "Crazy" are focused, raw power. Beat-keeper Miller speaks her mind on Vancouver, mix tapes and smashing computer monitors.

Advance Copy: How's western Canada doing? Is there anything awful going on there right now that you think we need to know about? Or is it only the USA that's effin up? Canada seems like a better place to live, given the difference in health care.
Maya: Alberta does still like their rodeos and gambling. B.C. likes their lattes and loafing. Saskatchewan likes their Tim Horton's and Roughriders. Manitoba still likes their beer and uneven roads. We all still kinda win when it comes to things like Health Care it's true. But the U.S has hotel coupons at rest areas so that's a plus, although it doesn't really beat the health care I guess.

AC: How has the security at the U.S/Canada border been these days? Is it easy to walk/drive across?
Maya: You could try walking across but I wouldn't recommend it. I'd film you doing it though and youtube it. Sometimes, they smile at the border and they've never heard of our band.

AC: You're pretty close to Seattle. Do you go there often to hang out? Is there any sort of music scene in Vancouver?
Maya: If I had time to hang out, I might choose Seattle because Seattle is like hanging out in Vancouver pretty much. Especially with the rain and the coffee. There's a huge music scene in Vancouver. All types going on and it's just the right size city in the sense that everyone knows everyone, and they usually have beards.

AC: I read you are influenced by the Martian Chronicles? Only the book or have you seen the movie too, starring Rock Hudson? How does it influence you?
Maya: I've only read the book, had no idea there was a movie. Damn, I have to get in on that. I read the line [from the book] "I am the last Martian, I am going to kill you," and it changed me. I think it has influenced how I brush my teeth. It just seems more intense now.

AC: You had a cassette mix tape contest. Aside from that need for a tape on tour, are you, in general, down with cassettes as a way to hear music? Cassettes rule!
Maya: I agree that cassettes rule. A lot of people don't agree but I don't like those people. I also don't like people that spit on the street when they're talking. And also, small yappy dogs.

AC: You have a video where you are smashing a computer and monitor. Although the computer looks about 10 years old, does this represent your dislike for social networking sites? If you had a new computer that you could destroy any way you want, how would you do it?
Maya: Unfortunately, no one was willing to give us a new computer to kill. And yes, the title and the smashing is all about despising social networking. I'm talking the kind where people have a billion friends and actually consider them friends instead of basically friend hording acquaintances. If I could kill a new computer, I would definitely throw it out a window, SCTV style, or put it through some kind of random machinery and crush it like at the end of theTerminator.

AC: You probably get compared to the White Stripes and Black Keys too much, just cause they are also a blues-rock-garage guitar and drums duo. Are you tired of that comparison?
Maya: Words cannot describe how tired we both are of that. It's just sooo lazy.

AC: What were the locations that you filmed the video for "Deer"? Where is that couch now?
Maya: We filmed that all around Vancouver--Stanley Park, Leeside skate park, Playland [and others]. That couch was re-donated to the Value Village we bought it from for $30. That couch, by the way, smelled super bad. Not super bad in a good way either. Our van continued to smell like that couch for a week after. Now, it's all back to smelling like a taxi cab which is much better.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

GWAR at Crazy Donkey, Long Island June 22, 2010

Giant space creature with twin fetus popping out

Let them slay! Let them slay!

holy crap dude!

bring me the head of barack obama.

oh hell yea

Sunday, June 20, 2010

movie left for dead.

Intruder (1989) One of many combinations of Sam Raimi/Ted Raimi/Bruce Campbell/Scott Spiegel, Intruder has been called the last great slasher of the 1980s. It doesn't really stand out in any way and settles as a typical slasher with the usual "twist" (although this is spoiled in the trailer, how dumb). Campbell is billed as a starring actor, but actually is only it for a couple minutes at the end. Sam and Ted Raimi, at least, play two of the several characters inventively knocked off by an unknown assailant in a supermarket, late at nite after they get the news that the store is permanently closing. From the start, you know they are all doomed when they split up and go searching for people. All of Intruder is shot in and in front of a supermarket (although it's much better than the Gingerdead Man, shot entirely in a bakery). Sam Raimi uses camera shots/views that you may recognize from Evil Dead. Though of course, Intruder is no Evil Dead. [rating: $5] -kenyon

Saturday, June 19, 2010

movie left for dead.

Welcome to the Jungle (2007)
"Torture porn" movies like Hostel, Wolf creek, and Turistas were good at spending the first half of the story getting to know groups of adventurers, before they suddenly meet their doom. A straight to DVD "Dimension Extreme," the "unrated" Jungle makes the same attempt, all the while pretending to be filmed by a POV shakey cam, ala Blair Witch. Four unfortunate travellers seek fame and fortune by searching the jungle for a Michael Rockefeller, who is rumored to still be living amongst the native cannibals. Obviously a terrible idea, but the four young adults--one whose acting is deplorable--proceed anyway. Already short at 82 minutes, roughly half of that is unnecessary mundane clips of them chilling out and talking to each other or to the camera. [rating: $2] - Kenyon

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

22-20s: Shake/Shiver/Moan (tbd)
out: June 8 [digital], June 22 [physical]
style: Brit rock
similar: Locksley, Delays, Longpigs
rating: [****] Out of action from 2006 to 2008 due to creative differences, the 22-20s have regrouped at least long enough to record one of the most satisfying albums of 2010. On Shake/Shiver/Moan, the Lincolnshire, UK group has the aptitude to persuade Americans that British rock n' roll isn't dead. The 22's, whose early incarnation played covers of old blues songs, diversify just enough within the spectrum of their Brit pop ancestry without blatant duplication. Along with the Mod garage rocking "Talk to Me" and the Byrds-esque "Ocean" are several songs that, in 2010, outdo the last breaths from the crumbled Oasis as well as the newly reformed Blur. -Kenyon

Monday, June 07, 2010

Caddy WHAT?

embraces its offbeat name and the crooked corners of its noisy lo-fi math rock.
interview by Kenyon Hopkin

The second album from New Orleans duo Caddywhompus just blopped (yes, blopped) from Community records. Chris Rehm (guitar/vocals) and Sean Hart (drums) are now on the road supporting Remainder, which the two Texas natives completely self-produced and engineered. Rehm and Hart have been playing music together for years, eventually founding Caddywhompus in late 2008. Since then they've been on bills with the Antlers, Japanther, Cursive, A Sunny Day in Glasgow and Math the Band. Following a bunch of gigs at the last South by Southwest music festival, the guys hit the road to play all kinds of unconventional venues. Chris Rehm brings us up to date on what he's seen in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and some "rad-ass" things Caddywhompus has been up to.

Advance Copy: it's funny how in your info at the Community records page you've got "according to dictionary.com Caddywhompus is "no dictionary results found." At urbandictionary the definition is "crooked, uneven, broken, ass-backwards and sideways." Does any of that ring true for you as a meaning behind the name?
Chris: To a certain extent, yeah. The way we approach songwriting and structure is pretty random and varying, some may consider it sideways or off, but I think that's better than being predictable and played out.

AC: during hurricane Katrina you were still in Houston. How long after that did you move to New Orleans? Did it feel surreal or strange to re-locate there, post-hurricane? Do you think there is still re-building that needs to be done in the city or surrounding areas?
Chris: Sean moved there in 2007 and I moved there in 2008, I remember going on drives all over the city with new friends that I met there and there were still many places that hadn't recovered. Many businesses and homes had or still have dumpsters outside. The city will always be recovering.

AC: why do you hold the guitar so high up? Looks a little uncomfortable. Does it make it easier to tap on the fretboard?
Chris: I wear it like that because that's about where the guitar is located when I sit down and play it. Low hanging guitars hurt my left wrist really bad, and also, shazam!, it's easier to tap when it's up high.

AC: you've played with Cursive. Was that your most exciting show? If not what was?
Chris: I wouldn't say that was our most exciting show, but it was a lot of fun getting to play with a band that we've admired for years. Most exciting show was probably a rad-ass house party we played in a basement in New Orleans last year. Nails were sticking out of the ceiling and people were dancing crazy, all drunk-like. Two seemingly straight dudes started making out hard and falling all over the place while we were playing.

AC: being a duo, you have the advantage of perhaps playing smaller spaces. What was the most unusual spot you've played?
Chris: last night we played in the upstairs of an abandoned bank. The lights didn't work downstairs. It was pretty wacky.

AC: what were the highlights for you at the last South by Southwest? How many shows did you play?
Chris: Definitely a highlight was hosting our show at the 21st Street Co-Op. Most of the bands we booked for the show were our favorite bands from New Orleans and Houston. We ended up playing at like four in the morning and it was still popping. We played five shows and did a radio interview on KVRX.

AC: you have a great DIY ethic. Do you ever want to be able to make a living as Caddywhompus?
Chris: it would be nice to make a living as Caddywhompus. Really, our financial dream is to be able to make enough money off of our music to be able to continue making it. But that's just a financial dream.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Hammock: Chasing After Shadows...Living With the Ghosts
(Hammock Music)
release: May 18, 2010
style: ambient, space rock
[rating: ****] Enjoyed by Jonsi of Sigur Ros, Hammock's previous releases have been some of the most gorgeous atmospheric instrumentals of the past five years. On this fourth album, the duo introduces a rich tapestry of excessively processed guitar effects, live drums and strings. Any of these tracks, from the echoing "The Backward Step" to the glistening "the World We Knew as Children" wouldn't be out of place as an instrumental on a record from Sigur Ros or Slowdive. Mixed by Tim Powles of another influence band, the Church, Chasing is another winner, providing a wealth of relaxation from the heart. -Kenyon

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Smashing Pumpkins, Flaming Lips to headline huge Forecastle festival down in Kentucky this summer. Over 100 acts including Devo, She & Him, Cake and Spoon.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

movies left for dead.

pril Fool's Day (1986) One of several slasher films from the early 80s that uses a day of the year as a gimmick, April Fool's Day features an all-star cast of actors who have been seen elsewhere in movies that were more memorable. This includes Thomas Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future), Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl) and Amy Steele (essentially reprising her role as a heroine from Friday the 13th Part 2). Unfortunately, their combined forces aren't able to help this tongue in cheek horror flick stand out from its peers, even with it's April Fool's "twist." A group of college kids are invited to a secluded home of a mutual friend, who has set up all sorts of tricks, like dribble glasses and chairs with faulty legs. Before you can say "formulaic" the kids start disappearing and heads and body parts are found. It wouldn't be half-bad if the movie continued on a safe, well-traveled path. Instead, its effort to manipulate the viewer (and two lead characters) disregards important scenes in the movie's plot development, as if the movie itself doesn't know which way to go. Once the surprise ending sucks the life out of the party, April Fool's has more in common with the mystery comedy Clue than an average and more honest vintage slasher. [rating: $3] -Kenyon
movies left for dead.

Vacancy 2: the First Cut
(2009) The first Vacancy--which, unlike this typical prequel, actually had a theatrical release--was set at a hotel where three sickos film their own killings of their guests (aka snuff). That first film showed the demise of their business of selling copies of their work. In the prequel, which doesn't do things much differently from the cat and mouse chases in the first film, we are informed of how these entrepeneurs got started. Or at least one of them anyway, as the other two are killed by the lead girl after they kill her boyfriend and his tag along friend. This girl is so tough she implausibly is able to shoot one of these guys from beneath a shallow pond in the dark. The remaining snuffer who gets away, we have to assume, is one of the masked guys in the first film, who somehow survives being set on fire and stabbed in the side of his face. The snuffers didn't have those trap doors and underground passageways yet, so a lot is left to desire. Three maniacs can be better than one (like in Mother's Day, Wrong Turn). In this case, three's a crowd. [rating: $3] -Kenyon

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beats Happening

Tender Forever
interview by Kenyon Hopkin

Armed with ukulele, guitar, digital pop beats and love, the sweet-natured Melanie Valera is one-girl band Tender Forever. Originally from France, the adventurous Valera has since settled in the Northwest corner of the U.S, where she continues to be inspired by her surroundings as well as be the inspiration to others. Today she shares insight into life in the DIY-rich Portland Oregon, the benefits of veteran indie label K records, touring with K records founder Calvin Johnson and the making of her third record, No Snare.

Advance Copy: How's life been lately in Portland? Is it worth it for someone from New York to experience the underground culture there? What are the pros and cons of living there?

Melanie: Portland is totally treating me and the work that I have to do just right. The city is full of supportive, other radical females involved in millions of other projects. It's really inspiring and pushes me to do more than just what I think I can do. Portland is kind, creative, beautiful and will give you a lot of rain but not a job. You know, it's a pretty dark and damp place but a lot of amazing things come out of this harshness. You wouldn't believe it! You re-learn your possibilities of adaptation to life and how to work with and around the things that make it difficult. So you reinvent your way, your art, your connections and your relationship to others and ultimately yourself. The culture is made by radical kids for other kids. I think it's easy to find your community in Portland cause it's so linked to the music that you like and what people do is visible everywhere. It was easy for me, and I'm French, so imagine how easy it would be for someone that's used to the culture-- a piece of cake!

AC: What prompted your move from France to the West coast of the USA?
Melanie: Adventure, Love, Music!

AC: Do you go back to France often?
Melanie: Not that often. It is mostly when I tour Europe that I make sure I can see family and friends but it's definitely not a place where I can live. It's too old fashioned, racist and gendered for me but i do love my family and my friends. They are so special and make it a better place.

AC: How did you wind up meeting Calvin Johnson and signing on with K records?
Melanie: I met Calvin at the end of an attic show in Olympia, Washington. It was called the world's smallest venue. Only 10 of us could fit. He came and I guess he liked the performance and asked for a cd. We both had planned on going to the same show the next day so i promised i would bring him one. He somehow managed to get it before that and told me "Hey, I really like your songs! You want to record them?" I didn't have the full knowledge of what that meant but I think that i was just up for adventure and he seemed really cool so I said yes. He helped me change my plane ticket to extend my stay and the next day I was in the studio with him and Khaela Maricich [of the Blow]. I didn't know that this would be the most amazing and life changing experience of my life (and so far still is). K records is a very very special label and Calvin is a very very special person. K doesn't make you sign any contract and I think that's why people like me stay. You're free and let me tell you, there is nothing like freedom. After we recorded the album, Calvin took me in his office and pointed at the US map and said "let's go on tour now!" And i said yes again. We played over 56 shows in a row together. We shared the bill every night and sometimes, we would play two shows a day. Today I have played almost a thousand shows, traveled to so many countries and met amazing people. I had never thought that this would happen. But everything is possible, at all time. My life is changed, forever.

AC: What was it like touring with Calvin, are you guys buddies?
Melanie: Calvin and I are friends. I have the deepest love for him and I'm pretty sure he does too for me. Touring with him was like reading the best road trip novel ever. He knew where to go for dinner, for a fun time, for great thrift stores or just a cookie. He loves cookies. I learned so much in such a short amount of time. Touring is just so amazing cause you get to do what you want. It is a certain type of freedom that I don't get elsewhere. I taught him the French alphabet, he taught me names of hills and states. He showed me that you can play whatever, whenever and for as long as you want. He taught me that the reason why we do this is simple. He let me drive at night, he trusted me. Mostly he taught me so many many many words and I taught him some more. It was the first time he was going back on tour after that accident he had few years ago. It was freeing for him too I bet, with all the fear that came with it. But we just had a fine time, the finest indeed. While we were on tour, I had learned from my room mates that a new person had finally moved into the room for rent. So did her guns. I was so terrorized, but since none of my room mates made it a big deal, I thought that my fear probably came from some cultural differences. But to clear it up, I asked Calvin "is it normal to live with people who have guns?" He told me that I should not be living there. He said "you're moving in my home when we get back from tour." So my girlfriend and I moved into Calvin's for a year or so. This was the nicest thing someone has ever done for me. I live in Portland now, so I don't see him as often which is bogus but he gave me a ride to Olympia the other day and we surely laughed a lot.

AC: I saw you about five years ago here in Long Island, New York, when you were touring with Calvin. You played at someone's house and you got very interactive with us a couple times. In fact, you touched my leg. Is it safe to say that you enjoy smaller more intimate shows than a club with a four-foot high stage?
Melanie: I remember that show. What a weird place that was! It was Calvin's birthday too! I love small shows, I like big shows, big stages. I just don't like alcohol and venues that just have a bar in them. I think it sucks. I come up with the funniest little things on a high stage and I can do the same in a living room. I love performing. I can do it anywhere cause that's what i like doing. But I think [clubs with alcohol] are horrible. I now refuse to play such shows. But you have a lot of fun anywhere, just not with alcohol.

AC: Do you love being on stage alone? Have you ever thought about adding anyone to the Tender Forever line-up?
Melanie: Tender Forever started alone and will stay alone. It's such a personal project and it's been good for me and to me. Why should I get a backing band? But I love playing music with people and I'm indeed starting a new project. It's so much nicer to have people start something all at once, at the same time and be all emotionally involved in it. I don't feel alone on stage, I feel alone on the road, but it's taught me a lot of things as well.

AC: What instrumentation are you using now for live playing?
Melanie: I use so many things that it's ridiculous to name them. But let's say I use Ableton Live, some other software to use the Wii as drums, a sampler, iPod for video projections so that it's independent, guitars, ukulele and other things. It's a small set up made out of a million tiny things.

AC: The songs from No Snare are less bouncy and more serious and symphonic than the previous records. What did you do differently when approaching the writing of this latest album?
Melanie: Well I had already recorded the album back in February 2009 at the Dub Narcotic Studio and ended up losing everything even before I got a chance to back it all up in tour with Mirah [also on K records]. I still wanted to put it out, but didn't feel like redoing the same songs and definitely didn't feel like touching a computer in the process. That's how I ended up asking Christopher Doulgeris. He was super excited about it. We had 15 days to do it all. So I sat down every day in the studio and wrote a new song and we'd record it as we go. It was really fun and easy for me cause that's how I work in life, in general. I think that maybe living in the damp Pacific Northwest and wanting to make deeper sounding songs took No Snare where it is at now. It's a dark but straight forward series of songs. That's what and who I am.

AC: "If I'm Wierd I want to Share" [from Tender Forever's first album] is a song to which a lot of people could relate. Has that or any of your music served as an inspiration to anyone?
Melanie: The most gratifying thing indeed is when it does inspire people. Whatever they do with it, I think it's always amazing cause it seems that they feel free and confident enough to do it. It's a formidable experience to see people and read people's letter telling you that you changed their life. That's the kind of inspiration that I think is valuable. I am just glad and grateful for all the love I get to give and receive.

AC: Many people don't like to label their sexuality, be it straight, gay or bi. Do you identify yourself as anything in particular? Do boys often get crushes on you?
Melanie: This is how it works: Boys want to marry me and girls want to have sex with me. I don't know if I exude any kind of sexuality, but I do identify as a woman and a lesbian. But I believe in keeping my options opened, always. I just don't believe in one way or the other, especially looking back onto my life and how it changed drastically right around my 27th birthday. I get crushes on beautiful souls and I'm in love with everybody. Isn't it what other people do as well?

AC: Are there any specific gender/sexual orientation issues that you think the culture in the US needs to deal with better?
Melanie: The whole world needs to deal with sexuality and gender issues differently. I actually find the US to be quite organized and progressivist if it wasn't for the powerful Christian, vicious organizations polluting the system and getting in the way. France isn't better. Spain and Netherlands are the example to follow to me. Seriously. But there are no rules beside to love and embrace differences. It blows my mind to think about how some people live in the fear of the difference. It's sort of stupid cause we're all different, really. When you start thinking about how everyone is different from everybody, then you are able to understand how you can love them all and therefore yourself. But we, as a materialistic society, care only for ourselves, our belongings and our close and immediate family. We need to change that, cause when shit will go down, we'll all need each other. We just gotta love each other. Easy, right?