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Break-out band: A stunning performance by Parquet Courts at SXSW
03.31.2013
12:06 am

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Music

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Parquet Courts’ Light Up Gold was one of my favorite albums of 2012. I described their tunes as “old skool, Jim Carroll-esque NYC street odes.” It’s a smart, edgy album that evokes some of the post-Velvet Underground feel of bands (The Feelies, Television, Pere Ubu) that forged the American punk scene in the mid-1970s. As good as the album is, I wasn’t prepared for how superb the band was live when I saw them at this year’s SXSW. My mind was thoroughly blown. I wasn’t the only one. For the week that the band was in town, audiences grew as word spread that these cats are the real deal.

Check out this version “Stoned And Starving” performed at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in downtown Austin and you’ll see and hear what I mean. All played on some humble axes and amps. The bicycles watched in stunned silence.
 

 
See the full concert here.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The impulse to dress as a pirate: Woody Allen talks film-making and ‘Manhattan’
03.30.2013
12:50 pm

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Amusing
Movies

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Film-making is about having something to say—something that can only be said in a film and not a short story, or a play, or a novel.

That’s how Woody Allen described his movies—it’s the best way for him to express and explore his ideas, his feelings, and well, because he has ‘to do something for a living.’

It was June 1979, Woody Allen was said to be hiding in Paris. His latest film Manhattan, had opened in New York to overwhelming critical acclaim. As the reviews filtered back to his hotel suite, Woody talked about the movie and film-making to Barry Norman, for the BBC’s Film ‘79.

As Allen explained to Norman, Manhattan was inspired by a dinner conversation with Diane Keaton and cinematographer, Gordon Willis, where they discussed the idea of making a film in Black & White.

‘And as we talked about it, gradually a story spun out in my mind about it. And, you know, it could be anything, it could be a sudden anger over something or, the impulse to want to dress as a pirate. You know, any one of those things could do it.’

But why Manhattan? asked Norman.

‘I live in Manhattan and wouldn’t think of living anywhere else, really,’ said Allen, before going on to explain it’s a great place to live—‘because you know you’re alive.’
 

 
With thanks to NellyM
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Clash: Listen to isolated tracks for ‘Safe European Home’ & ‘Rock the Casbah’
03.29.2013
07:14 pm

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Music
Pop Culture
Punk

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M’colleague, the wonderful Tara McGinley put me on to this exhilarating, stripped down version of The Clash’s “Safe European Home”.

Posted over at The Clash Blog, the track (from the album Give ‘Em Enough Rope) has been pared back to its constituent parts—vocals, guitar, bass, drums. These isolated tracks were posted on YouTube by user flip2k, as Clash Blog explains:

A good year or two back I wrote about the brilliant work being done by ‘flip2k’ on YouTube in relation to The Clash. I’ve still no idea who flip2k is but every time I share the work that he or she does a lot of people become extremely happy, myself included, so that’s reason enough to share the links again.

‘You see flip2k will from time to time take a track by The Clash and upload the segregated multi-tracked elements of just guitar, bass, vocals or drums. It’s actually far more exciting than it sounds. In the past I’ve focused on the amazing work done with Complete Control and London Calling but he/she has also added Safe European Home, Train in Vain and I Fought The Law. If you want to hear the precision drumming of Topper in its purest element you’ll just have to take the time to explore each of these. The same can be said for the enraged vocals of Joe (especially on Complete Control) and the almost motownesque harmonies offered by Mick on Safe European Home. That’s without me even getting into the guitar and bass tracks. I can guarantee you’ll hear elements you’ve never heard before, just try the guitar on Safe European Home for example.

Amongst other goodies, flip2k also has an isolated version of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” (from Combat Rock), which we’ve posted below. Enjoy!
 

Vocals—“Safe European Home”
 

Guitar—“Safe European Home”
 

Bass—“Safe European Home”
 

Drums—“Safe European Home”
 
Via The Clash Blog, with thanks to Tara!
 
Bonus stripped down version of the classic ‘Rock the Casbah’, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Van Dyke Parks Keeps On Cyclin’
03.29.2013
02:26 pm

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This is a guest post from veteran rock journalist Michael Simmons

In 1967-68 I was office boy at a short-lived magazine that my father published called Cheetah. Of Bar Mitzvah age, I considered myself a man, one who had thoroughly absorbed all tributaries of what is now called the counterculture, especially its music simply called ROCK, having dispensed with its appendage of “…and roll.” In the wake of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and Bob Dylan, rock music was Gabriel’s electric horn for me and my young hirsute comrades, heralding the emergence of the holy in all God’s chillun, and love and peace and general groovyosity. Cheetah had a two-fold mandate: 1) to present a well-writ and designed, slick-papered mag for hippies and 2) to turn a profit. It usually succeeded in the former, but completely failed at the latter.

Before its demise, some of the best journalistic minds of the ‘60s generation contributed to Cheetah, including Paul Krassner, Ed Sanders, Doon Arbus, Richard Goldstein, Robert Christgau, Ellen Willis – even Tom Wolfe. Original editor Jules Siegel wrote a transfixing piece for the first issue called “Goodbye Surfing, Hello God” that was the first public announcement that Brian Wilson was writing “a teenage symphony to God” that would be the next Beach Boys album called SMiLE and that Brian was veering twixt visionary and paranoiac. Another truly fine scribe named Tom Nolan wrote a profile of a guy named Van Dyke Parks and his new album called Song Cycle.

Months before Nolan’s feature ran, everybody at Cheetah – editors, writers, the art department, and a mannish boy with my name – had flipped their Beatle wigs over a single by one George Washington Brown called “Donovan’s Colours.” It was a (mostly) instrumental version of Donovan Leitch’s melodically winning “Colours,” but it sounded like nothing else in the pop – or any other known – universe. Brown’s piece begins with the sound of a coin fed into a jukebox followed by the most delightfully bright piano that plays the tune of “Colours” and is soon joined by marimbas, a Pet Sounds-ish bass clarinet, swirling organ and castanets that imitate the sound of a music box being wound-up. Indeed the track has a music box feel though the repetition of Donovan’s melody, repeated modulations and tempo changes also remind one of a Chinese box—once opened it keeps revealing other boxes inside—or an unsolvable Rubik’s Cube that can be twisted every which colorful way without ever resolving. A mere seven words from Donovan’s song are sung, followed by an avian Dixieland clarinet: “Blue is the color of the sky.” Like the sky, “Donovan’s Colours” is wondrous, limitless—infinity contained in three minutes and 41 seconds.

In Tom Nolan’s aforementioned Cheetah profile of Van Dyke Parks, he tells a very funny story of hanging in a recording studio with Moby Grape listening to them bandy rumors about the identity of that George Washington Brown fella and the then-ongoing construction of “Donovan’s Colours.” Something about Brown being this wealthy guy who lives in South America and who’s recording bits and pieces and sending it to session man Van Dyke Parks in L.A. who’s splicing it together. All bullshit, of course. Eventually it was revealed that Brown was Parks, the studio musician, composer, producer and arranger who had written the lyrics for the Beach Boys’ “Heroes and Villains” and was Brian Wilson’s designated lyricist for SMiLE.  He says today that he didn’t put his name on it because “I craved anonymity, so I adopted a nom de guerre.”

Van Dyke thought it would be a hit and was wary of public scrutiny. We at Cheetah all thought it would be a hit, as did virtually every critic in the nascent rock press. Warner Brothers Records then paid for VDP to record a solo album that would become Song Cycle. It’s The Great Overlooked Classic Of American Popular Music and like “Donovan’s Colours” (which is on the album), it’s a sui generis set of music that emanates from one man and one man only. The sounds of folk songs, Broadway show tunes, film scores, Charles Ives and Erik Satie all naturally blend. It’s psychedelic—not via clichés of electric sitars and fuzz boxes, but in the word’s literal definition of mind-manifesting. The Beatles and Dylan had smashed all the conventions of pop music and were the toppermost of the poppermost. Why not Van Dyke Parks? For all the media yap about The Rock Revolution, neither album nor single fit into commercial radio’s idea of what rock music should sound like – too eclectic, too intelligent – yes Virginia, “too intelligent” was a very real concept then, as now, in the United States Of America. And neither in any way rawked. So for the most part, the hippie hordes – however expansive their consciousness—never got to hear Song Cycle and it sold bupkis.

Van Dyke soldiered on despite the commercial failure, continued to make solo albums (including collaborating with Brian Wilson on Orange Crate Art), produced and/or arranged singular recordings for – among others—Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Little Feat, Allen Toussaint, Harry Nilsson, Phil Ochs, Loudon Wainwright, Arlo Guthrie, Bonnie Raitt, and The Esso Trinidad Steel Band and The Mighty Sparrow (he loves steel drums and calypso). He still resides in the moment and scouts horizons, championing Rufus Wainwright and producing discs for other young ‘uns like Joanna Newsom and Inara George (daughter of his late friend Lowell George). VDP has scored films and commercials, written children’s books, and acted in movies and T.V.

In keeping with the awry pattern of American cultural illiteracy, he’s more respected in Europe, Japan, and Australia than in his own country. Last year, U.K. label Bella Union reissued his first three solo albums (Song Cycle, Discover America, Clang Of The Yankee Reaper) and will release his “orchestral fantasy” Super Chief: Music For The Silver Screen [] on limited vinyl on April 20 and his latest CD collection Songs Cycled on May 6. There’s also many delights available on VDP’s website.

For those near or in Los Angeles, Van Dyke plays at McCabe’s this Saturday, March 30. Inara George will join him during his set and New Orleans piano wiz Tom McDermott is also on the bill. The early show is sold out, but there are still late show tix available. 

Van Dyke Parks remains in forward motion despite the fickle tastes of the Entertainment-Industrial Complex. An eloquent raconteur and great wit, he’s philosophical about the vagaries of his life as a working musician. “As Jefferson noted ‘Show men your depths, and they will ford your shallows,’” he wrote to me recently.

“That’s why I’m a Chevy guy,” he added.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bollywood Swinging: Hushpuppy’s excellent ‘New Delhi Disco Chicks’ mix tape
03.29.2013
02:07 pm

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Movies
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I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for someone to make a mix of the best Desi Disco tracks from 70s/80s Bollywood movies, and finally it has arrived!

Well, perhaps not my whole life, more like the last 5 or 6 years, or certainly ever since discovering the wonderful work of Bappi Lahiri via MIA’s cover of his classic “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja” in 2007. A few years ago I put together a YouTube playlist of some of my favourite Bollywood disco clip, which you can check out here, though unfortunately a lot of those clips have since been removed.

Not “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja”, though, which has since become a staple of my dj sets, and which I am going to post here now for no other reason than it’s awesome, and to say that if you haven’t seen it, then you need to:

Bappi Lahiri & Parvati Khan “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja”
 

 
As some of the YouTube commenters have pointed out, this track bears more than just a passing resemblance to Ottawan’s “T’es OK” (Bappi Lahiri was well known for his liberal “interpretations” of other people’s music) but I’m willing to overlook that as this version is just so much better.

Bollywood can at times seem pretty impenetrable for Western audiences, but it operates at such a high level of over the top camp that i’s pretty irresistable for lovers of kitsch. I’m still a bit mystified as to why Bollywood isn’t more celebrated within the gay community, but hopefully as the internet gives access to more and more of these films and their soundtracks, the audience will grow.

So praise be to Glasgow dj Hushpuppy then, for putting together an hour of his favourite Bollywood disco/soundtrack moments for all of our ears. Rest assured there’s plenty of Bappi Lahiri on this mix (full tracklisting available here.) This mix is not definitive (which would be impossible, I think) and represents only the very tip of the Bollywood disco-funk iceberg, so I expect to see more djs busting out the Desi Disco in the near future. For now, let’s dig those New Delhi Disco Chicks:
 

New Delhi Disco Chicks - Bollywood Mixtape Vol. 1. by Hushpuppy on Mixcloud

 
There’s plenty more esoteric, exotic excellence on Hushpupppy’s Mixcloud page, including his great Weird Sounds In The Bath House series. Check it out here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Well played Satan’: Gay marriage avatar, the Devil’s handiwork?
03.29.2013
12:53 pm

Topics:
Belief
Idiocracy
Politics
Queer

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If you have the misfortune of being connected to uptight, close-minded Christianist assholes on Facebook—and who doesn’t, it’s a hallmark of the era we live in—then you’ve probably been seeing links to this mind-numbing essay that’s been getting shared like crazy.

Titled “Distraction,” the muddled and confused logic of the piece begins with the caveat that the author and her husband had been discussing the instantly iconic Red Equals sign for marriage equality that many people are making their Facebook avatar, but wished for their own opinions to remain private. I don’t think it would take a genius, or even a Chick-fil-A CEO to figure out what they might be:

It dawned on me as I could not sleep last night where the real issue is. Regardless of your opinion on gay rights (positive, negative, or indifferent), there is a larger issue at hand.

Today is Wednesday, March 27th. Tomorrow is Thursday. About 2000 years ago, on that Thursday Jesus sat down for his last meal with his closest friends. One turned on him that night (Matthew 26:14-16, 25). Another claimed he would die with Jesus, only to deny he even knew him in the next few hours (Matthew 26:31-35). That Thursday night and into Friday morning, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, denied, endured trials, and sentenced to death (Matthew 26:47-27:26). Friday he was mocked, tortured, and crucified (Matthew 27:27-44). Matthew 27:50 tells us that he “gave up His Spirit”. For every flawed person who would ever walk the earth. Especially you. You who grew up in church. You who have never been to church. You who sit in the pew every week. You who mock the very One who created you. You, the imperfect one.

This Friday is called Good Friday, because we remember what God did for us by sacrificing His Son upon that cross. But do you remember? Or are you still trying to figure out who’s right and wrong on that legal issue?

Well played, Satan. Well played. You dangled the bait (and we all took it) for believers and nonbelievers/ believers and believers/ nonbelievers and nonbelievers to turn on each other, draw lines, AND DISTRACT EVERYONE FROM THE GOSPEL. You made it as simple as posting a picture on a social media site to make everyone lose focus of what this week is really about.

People are passing this nonsense around like it’s got… some value. This shit isn’t even idiotic and yet chances are it’s been coming thru your Facebook newsfeed repeatedly for the past 24 hours.

A fellow named Vincent zinged the author pretty hard:

So wait… fighting for equality for all individuals isn’t right in God’s eyes, because it’s close to Easter? Instead we should be doing what? Jesus preached throughout the Gospel that we should love each other as we love ourselves, and taught that we shouldn’t judge others and should instead love and respect our fellow man. How is standing up for equality and rights for all *not* honoring The Lord and His only begotten Son?

In that case, I guess we should tell the Supreme Court to wait until *after* Easter to hear arguments about what this symbol represents, and instead we should all open our bibles and intently study their contents until after Easter has passed.

To me, it seems that the symbol you say is bait from Satan is instead a reminder that Satan will meet swift resistance to his spreading of hate and bigotry.

You get an amen from me for that, brother!

Something that dawned on me as I was reading this reedonkulous tripe is how the stripes of the Red Equals symbol are congruous with the stripes of the American flag.

Well played, Satan! Well played, indeed!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Skinheads and British Hells Angels examined in 1969 BBC documentary
03.29.2013
12:23 pm

Topics:
History
Pop Culture
Television

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Through their American counterparts, I’m fairly familiar with the skinhead movement of working class Britain (racist, fascist , even anti-racist), but I had no idea there were British Hells Angels.

The documentary itself is fairly removed from the subject matter, but does a decent job at providing some objective insight. While they observe that the self-styled Hells Angels appear to have somewhat limited self-awareness—strange half-hearted adoptions of culture and ritual for which they have no context (these guys weren’t even an officially Hells Angels-sanctioned chapter, that started happening in the UK later in 1969, oddly after George Harrison got involved). But the violent potential of the racist skinheads is treated with gravity. When they interview them one on one, you can see that their relationship with the subculture is based as much in their own young alienation as it is with reactionary politics and working class rage.

What’s at risk of being another youth-culture moral panic piece is actually a fairly nuanced time-capsule look at these then emerging subcultures of disenfranchised youth.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Lana Del Rey covers Leonard Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel No. 2’ and… it’s not terrible?
03.29.2013
11:27 am

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Music

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I’m sure I’ll catch horrendous amounts of shit for this, because we all know that manufactured pop princesses like Lana Del Rey will be the absolute death of all that is pure, but I don’t think it’s that bad. Personally, I’m not particularly concerned with notions of “authenticity” when a manufactured persona is half of what I love about performance.

Authentic she ain’t, but let’s face it, it’s not like a Leonard Cohen song is sacrosanct anymore after the number of times “Hallelujah” has been badly mangled on American Idol...
.
What say you? Doesn’t it have a certain charm? Or am I simply a sucker for a smokey chanteuse? Or am I angling to write songs for her next album? (Call me, girl!)
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Michelle Shocked shows up at cancelled gig looking like a giant condom
03.29.2013
02:22 am

Topics:
Current Events
Kooks
Music
Stupid or Evil?

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Paul Horne uploaded this rather sad video to YouTube yesterday. Michelle Shocked showed up at one of her cancelled gigs in an act of defiance or protest or something. Apparently she was communicating only via Etch A Sketch and no one could be bothered to stop and ask her questions or maybe people were just uncomfortable approaching somebody wearing a hazmat suit, a condom-like cap and black duct tape across her mouth.

Horne describes his video thusly:

Michelle Shocked continues to unravel, showing up to her cancelled show at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz on March 28, 2013. Dressed in white, wearing a shirt that says “Gimme wit not spit” on the back and “Fun/Fag Palliance” on the front. She’s taped her mouth closed and is playing her guitar in the parking lot, to an audience of zero.

I guess this is what happens when even God stops taking your calls.
 

 
Shocked is hopping mad in this clip.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Roy Orbison is ‘The Fastest Guitar Alive’
03.28.2013
08:55 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Music
Pop Culture

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Now this, I want to see….

Sharp-shooter…

Vagabond…

Roy Orbison is traveling West with 7 of his brand new songs…

The wildness of the times gets into the people themselves, and then…

Anything can happen…

A trunk full of gold…

A wagon full of trouble…

And a head filled with songs makes him…

The Fastest Guitar Alive...

Roy Orbison’s 1967 film saw him star as Johnny Banner, a Southern spy, with a bullet-shooting guitar, who has a plan to rob gold bullion from the US Mint, in San Francisco, with the aid of the Confederate army. This was low budget fodder, scripted by Robert E. Kent (best known for Diary of a Madman and Rock Around the Clock) and directed by Michael D. Moore (who later worked as Second Unit Director with Steven Spielberg on Indiana Jones), and is now best known for its 7 songs performed by the the Big “O”.
 

 

Bonus—‘Pistolero’
 
H/T Tim Paxton
 
More form the 6-string singer, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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