follow us in feedly
The deeply disturbing found-sound music and video of Kill Alters
07.16.2015
07:00 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:


 
Bonnie Baxter is a New York musician who has thus far been best known for her moody electronic pop project Shadowbox, but she’s lately taken a very dark turn with her newer project Kill Alters. Their debut tape, released by Godmode, is a raw, almost traumatizing listen—clear touchstones include but are not limited to industrial, glitch, and harsh noise—and the project’s sounds and images are largely culled from audio and video tapes recorded over the course of decades by Baxter’s mother.

Her mom, you see, has long suffered from OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome, and used obsessive recording as a coping mechanism. So devoted to the endeavor was she that she even continued making recordings while living in a shelter. Baxter’s discovery of the trove of tapes—some of which include sounds and images of her infant and childhood self—led directly to her embarking on the Kill Alters project, as she related to us in a telephone conversation:

It started when I came upon some tapes of my mother, she documented her life, and our life. She started in the late ‘70s, and there were a lot of tapes from the ‘80s and a few from the ‘90s. So I started listening. A lot of the early stuff deals with sadness, loneliness.

She started developing tics at 9, and learned that she had Tourette’s when she was 11 or 12, but they didn’t really didn’t understand what it was. Before she got diagnosed she got teased a lot because she made noises, and people said she was possessed. She got taken out of school when she was maybe 13, 14, the school system couldn’t deal with it. So on some of the early tapes, she was 15 or 16 and she was just screaming, but trying to hide her screams behind blaring radio or running water, because she was one of ten kids—seven girls, three boys—and they lived on an island in the Caribbean. So no privacy! So there are these tapes of her screaming, and it’s scary because it goes on for a long time, like a full tape of this. And that kind of scared me a little at first.

But she recorded everything—fights, phone calls, singing, dancing, crying, yelling at my dad…and when I started going through the stuff, I don’t know, maybe I’m detached from it, but I started laughing at a lot of it, thinking “oh, this is cool, this looks really weird,” but then some of my friends told me “yeah, that’s a little fucked up.”

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening tells the story of The Residents, 1979
07.15.2015
12:01 pm

Topics:
Books
Music

Tags:


The Residents, 1972
 
The Residents’ first fan club, W.E.I.R.D. (We Endorse Immediate Residents Deification), was founded in 1978, and one of its charter members was Life in Hell and Simpsons creator Matt Groening. As a member of the Residents’ second fan club, UWEB, I am bound by the most solemn oaths never to discuss any of the secret handshakes, passwords, ciphers, rituals, buttons, bumper stickers or T-shirts of the inner sanctum, but I can point seekers to this exoteric document: Groening’s “The True Story of the Residents.” This phantasmagoric bio of the group, first published in 1979’s The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of the Residents and reprinted in 1993’s Uncle Willie’s Highly Opinionated Guide to the Residents, gives a wild yet relatively concise account of the band’s founding myth.
 

The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of the Residents (cover by Gary Panter)
 
You’ll notice that most of the fun facts in this true story are lies; for instance, I tend to doubt that “Six Things to a Cycle” originated as a “lengthy ballet” that “was canceled when The Residents were rumored to be selling experimental monkey depressants to grade school children.” But Groening weaves the Residents, the Mysterious N. Senada, Philip “Snakefinger” Lithman, the Cryptic Corporation, and “a squealing Boston terrier on acid flung into a barrel of live albino sand eels” into a tale that will make tears stream from your eyes and snot run from your nose. Look how he gets the band from Louisiana to its early base of operations in San Mateo:

After high school, the gang (which numbered five) split up and went their various ways—college, grunt jobs, draft evasion. They kept in touch with each other’s progress, however, and soon found themselves hopping like rabid Rhesus monkeys to rhythm and blues—particularly James Brown and Bo Diddley. James Brown’s Live At The Apollo is an album which makes them quiver to this day. But they soon found that they needed each other, and re-grouped to plot strategy. They didn’t know what the hell they were doing, but they knew James Brown made their butts twitch, and some how it would all work out. In 1966 or so, after a couple of them had made it almost all the way through college, they decided to escape the slimy Southern scourge of George Wallace. So they loaded up their truck and headed straight for San Francisco, where they had heard all the go-go mod action was goin’ down. As fate would have it, their truck broke down in a quiet suburban town called San Mateo, some 25 miles south of the big city. Behind them they left a few loyal, more balanced acquaintances who would later follow to start The Cryptic Corporation. In California they saw the minds around them already beginning to break down. Youngsters everywhere were growing their hair out and joining the “bushhead” movement. Beach boys frolicked with trained wild seals on the sand, and local cretins began electrocuting themselves with guitars on-stage while thousands chanted, “You endorse our mindless lives,” in unified spontaneity. Charles Manson pierced his nipple with a Love button while on acid, and the Psychedelic Revolution was born. The Residents began licking their lips.

 

 
To read “The True Story of the Residents” in full, go to this page in the “Historical section” of residents.com and click “Matt Groening’s TRUE STORY.” Below, Groening talks about connecting with W.E.I.R.D. and writing his “fanciful” bio in a clip from the upcoming documentary about the Residents, Theory of Obscurity.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The day Gary Numan’s career as a soda pitchman died in a plane crash
07.15.2015
06:59 am

Topics:
Advertising
Music

Tags:


 
Night Flight reports that back in 1982 the 7-Up company was looking for a cutting edge artist to shill its sugar-water, and their ad execs somehow decided upon soliciting Gary Numan for the task of writing and recording some hip “new-wave jingles.”

And so it came to pass that the agency offered Gary £10,000—a non-trivial sum for 1982—for three 30-second pieces of music. The catch was the lyrics for each would be written by someone at the agency. That was a bit dodgy, but Gary still agreed to go through with it.

When the music arrived, the Americans at 7-Up were appalled—not because they didn’t like the music (although that was rumored to be true in some tellings of this tale) but because Mr. Numan failed to show up to the meeting as requested to present his new, er, pop masterpieces. Feeling snubbed, 7-Up declared that they would never, ever work with Numan again and stalked out.

Was this a case of rock star buffoonery? Actually, no. It was something quite serious.

The day Gary was supposed to present his vision for the future of 7-Up in the UK, he was on his way back from a music industry meeting in Cannes.  On final approach to Southampton Airport, his single-engine Cessna 210 Centurion—one of the aircraft in his newly-founded airline, Numanair—ran out of gas and had to make an emergency crash-landing on a road in Hampshire. (Contrary to the legend, Gary was not at the controls but a passenger on this flight.) Everyone walked away from the incident but the airframe was destroyed.

All this happened as 7-Up and the agency waited for Mr. Numan to show up. Even after the crash became the lead item on the news across Britain that night, 7-Up wouldn’t revisit the situation. That’s why we never got a chance to see this commercial.

 

Numan, pictured here in a Numanair plane.
 
The uploader of the below clip of Numan’s jingles states that “when the recordings were sent to the Americans they had not heard any music like this, and they were expecting something in a punk style as that had just arrived over there. So these recordings were never used.”

However, a comment on the YouTube clip from Paul Gayter, one of the ad men responsible, clears up the real reason why Numan’s jingles were rejected:

I was the ad guy who wrote the idea/lyrics to this song (Yikes!) The true story as to why the client didn’t buy these ads is much stranger and funnier. Gary was supposed to present the music to 7-UP. He actually didn’t show up, so a truly unhappy client said “We’ll never work with him again!” The funny thing is it wasn’t until I arrived home later that night, that I discovered the true reason for the no-show…he was the MAIN news headline, for having to crash land his plane on a motorway!

So Numan’s career as a soft-drink pitchman died on that day in Hampshire, but he has remained active musically and in the world of aviation (as a pilot with many thousands of hours of flight time to his name) to this day.

Here’s Numan’s 7-Up tracks. I think these are actually really great skeletons and could have easily been fleshed out into legit songs after being rejected by the soda company brass:
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Yo La Tengo’s delightful cover of The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m In Love’
07.14.2015
12:27 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:


 
Yo La Tengo have just released a video for their cover of the Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love.” The song will appear on the album Stuff Like That There, due out late in August. It’ll feature plenty of covers besides “Friday,” including tunes by the Parliaments, Hank Williams, and the Lovin’ Spoonful.

Their version crushes the 1992 original, which has long been fanbase-breaker in the Cure’s oeuvre—mawkish, histrionic, popular as hell, but considered sub-par by just as many as those who adore it. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it song, and I’m pretty squarely in the hate-it camp. But Yo La Tengo’s version strips away all the Cure’s standard affectations, and the sincere, unpretentious rendition by YLT’s drummer Georgia Hubley reveals the lovely little song it could have been if the Cure hadn’t Cured it up quite so much. For revelatory covers of overblown pop songs, this ranks with Richard Thompson’s “Oops, I Did it Again.”

And the video is just wonderful. It features Hubely walking through the streets of Hoboken singing the song, apparently completely unaware that her singing is attracting giant exploding hearts to rain on the Earth. And as things get worse, the band’s sense of humor comes more and more to the fore.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan plays ‘Hava Nagila’ with Harry Dean Stanton
07.14.2015
10:58 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:


 
Bob Dylan gets in touch with his inner Zimmerman, playing “Hava Nagila” on harmonica with his son-in-law Peter Himmelman and Big Love patriarch, Harry Dean Stanton on the 25th annual Chabad telethon.

And speaking of Harry Dean Stanton, the actor—who got his start during the Eisenhower-era—turns 89 today. The man can still be seen, indefatigably tying one on most nights of the week somewhere out and about in Los Angeles.

There’s a longer clip of this at Facebook.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Thor: The bizarre rise and fall of a bodybuilding hair metal god
07.14.2015
06:46 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:


Thor, the metal god—not to be confused with the successful Marvel franchise character.
 
The legendary leader of the heavy metal band Thor, Jon Mikl Thor, has had a documentary made about his attempted comeback—a comeback which, apparently, almost cost him his life. The film I Am Thor, directed by Ryan Wise (of Prom Queen fame) is scheduled for theatrical release in the late fall. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Thor (and why a comeback attempt could have proved hazardous to his health), some background information may be in order. Jon Mikl Thor was a bodybuilding champion who won over 40 titles around the world—but of course his main love and passion was rock and roll.
 

Rock and Motherfucking Roll
 
Jon Mikl Thor first began touring as singer in the band Thor in 1973. As a front man, he would perform incredible feats of strength during gigs. He would blow hot water bottles up until they exploded. He would bend iron bars with his teeth and have concrete blocks smashed on his chest with a sledgehammer. He achieved little success until, believe it or not, he was discovered by Merv Griffin (yes, THAT Merv Griffin).

Here’s Thor appearing on the Merv Griffin show in 1976, performing a rather embarrasing version of Sweet’s hit song “Action,” doing a striptease, and blowing up a hot water bottle. Note the priceless reactions of audience members:

 
Soon after the Merv griffin appearance, his career took off and he recorded the album Keep The Dogs Away which went Gold shortly after its release.
 

 
Thor was performing at a time when KISS and Alice Cooper were all the rage. Theatrical rock, with its special effects and showmanship, seemed like the perfect fit for his act. But alas, the thing that never quite connected was the music. Thor’s musical backing wasn’t what most would call “good.” It was certainly no Alice Cooper or KISS by comparison. Despite Thor very much looking the part, his music didn’t really find an audience outside of the freakshow attraction of the amazing feats of onstage strength.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Siouxsie and the Banshees with a young Robert Smith on ‘Something Else,’ 1979
07.14.2015
06:25 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:


 
Last week, when DM HMFIC Richard Metzger posted about Robert Smith and Steve Severin’s Siouxsie and the Banshees spin-off the Glove, it set me off on a kick. I’ve waxed rhapsodic on DM, probably more than once, but definitely once that I can specifically remember, about the surpassing excellence of the Banshees lineup with guitarist John McGeoch, also a vet of Magazine, The Armoury Show, and P.I.L. before his untimely alcohol-related death in 2004. When I listen to Siouxsie, it’s almost invariably one of the three albums McGeoch played on—Kaleidoscope, Juju, and A Kiss In The Dreamhouse.

But that’s kind of stupid, given that McGeoch’s tenure in the band was bookended by the two stints enjoyed by the Cure’s moonlighting poo-bah Robert Smith. Weirdly, as influential as both the Cure and the Banshees are/were, Smith doesn’t get a whole lot of accolades as a guitarist. Even Cure devotees know him more for his melancholic singing and his trademark hairsplosion. But the guitar stylings associated with that saturnine strain of UK post-punk that would become known as Goth owed as much to Smith’s deliberate and doleful playing as to the aggressive slashing of Bauhaus’ Daniel Ash, the disquieting Morricone-isms of the Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard, or McGeoch’s heavily chorused, layered picking. Check out early Cure songs like “Three Imaginary Boys” or “The Figurehead,” and it’s plain that Smith can wring a lot of emotive impact out of comparatively few notes.
 

 
And so, after that post last week about Smith’s excursion in the Glove, I started giving more attention to his time in the Banshees, and in the process I found this fantastic TV footage of Smith during his first Banshees go-round, from the BBC2 show Something Else (I love the “Watch Something Else” banners decorating the set!) in 1979. They perform “Love in a Void” and “Regal Zone” from Join Hands, an album on which neither Smith nor the drummer appearing here, Budgie, actually performed. The prior guitarist and drummer left very shortly after Join Hands’ completion, so Smith and Budgie, a refugee from Big In Japan and the Slits, were recruited to fulfill tour obligations. Budgie went on to stay with the band forever, and even wed Siouxsie, but Smith only stayed in for the duration of the tour (the Cure were the opening act anyway), so his first shift with the band was as an interpretive player. Smith wouldn’t write music with the band or perform on a Banshees album until 1984’s Hyaena, but as this was the transitional phase of the Banshees’ career wherein the band straddled punk and goth, Smith makes an apt fit even though the compositions being played aren’t his.

Also, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the reading of a pretty damn funny letter from an unhappy London viewer who wanted his vigorous opposition to all this “punk” nonsense noted for the record.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Minor Threat’s iconic ‘Out of Step’ LP cover
07.13.2015
08:55 am

Topics:
Design
Music

Tags:


“I can’t keep up! I can’t keep up! Out of step with the world!”
 
Minor Threat’s 1983 LP Out of Step is arguably one of the ten most important American hardcore albums, both in terms of its musical power and overall lasting influence. For ‘80s punk kids it was one of those “gateway” records, much like Black Flag’s Damaged or Dead Kennedys’ Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables—ubiquitous, readily available at any mall in any podunk town, anywhere across the USA. Camelot Records might only have had twenty titles in their “punk” section, but Out of Step was one of ‘em.

The producers of the excellent documentary on the DC hardcore scene, Salad Days: A Decade Of Punk In Washington, DC (which is currently available for pre-order)  maintain a Facebook page which routinely shares articles and factoids about Minor Threat and their contemporaries. This page recently reported that the band’s original intention was to have the Out of Step cover art illustrated by famed punk artist Brian “Pushead” Schroeder, but at the last minute the band decided to go in a different direction, enlisting the help of friend and art school student Cynthia Connolly
 

 
Connolly’s iconic design of the crude black sheep leaping away from a pack of finely watercolor-rendered white sheep, besides being a spot-on symbol for youthful rebellion, is as masterful a work of “branding” as the instantly recognizable DK logo or Black Flag bars. The meaning instantly connects, while being tonally subtle—in stark contrast to the majority of early ‘80s “brutal” punk sleeve art. The child-like rendering of that libertine lamb says more than a thousand radioactive skulls ever could.
 

DC artist and photographer, Cynthia Connolly—taken from her book, Banned in DC.
 
Connolly, who also faithfully documented the ‘80s DC scene, is responsible for the essential book Banned in DC, which is available through Dischord Records. Dangerous Minds had the opportunity to speak with Connolly about the sheep, “Mr. Sheepy” as she calls him, and what it symbolizes.

Dangerous Minds: What can you tell us about the design of the Out of Step cover?

Cynthia Connolly: Minor Threat had asked me to make a drawing for the Out of Step cover. Ian Mackaye and I discussed something to do with a black sheep. The obvious idea was a black sheep that was leaping away from all the white sheep. The black sheep symbolized all of us, the kids that were doing something different, going against the grain of what was going on at the time.  I thought of us as young and energetic. I was just 19 when I drew the sheep, I think. I was young and energetic! It was 1983. 

Anyway, the white sheep were illustrated in water color with fine lines. They were elegant and sophisticated, but looked like they were bored, and perhaps even happy about being bored. The black sheep, on the other hand, had his eyes open—an important detail some people miss when getting it as a tattoo!—and is leaping from the drab sophisticated crowd. He’s making a choice on being different and is happy about it. The crayon, of course, is a symbol of youth and innocence. One thing I didn’t do is that I colored the sheep in like an adult… not as like a child (in circles… adults would fill in the shape from left to right).

The funny thing is, that drawing was a one shot deal. I just did one drawing. Showed it to them and was done. I did practice the black sheep a couple times on another paper, but once I got it down, just drew it on the watercolor of the white sheep and I was done! So punk! I call him “Mr. Sheepy” now, when people ask about him.
 

Ian MacKaye displays sheep sketches. Photo by Peter Beste.
 
It’s noteworthy how “gentle” the image is—in contrast to typically dark or aggressive “punk art” of the time.

Exactly. He’s NOT angry—as so much punk depicts—he’s merely making a choice to be different and has no qualms about it. He is intentionally jumping away. I love what he symbolizes and is still a guiding light in ways for myself. In the end, it’s about not having the fear of following your passion, being creative, and stepping out to support your ideas and the ideas of your friends.
 

Connolly, pictured here with a dress made from the same silk screen that was used to create the “Out of Step” test press covers. “We threw the dress into the mix. It’s like a punk poodle skirt!” Photo by Jim Saah.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Join The Coffee Achievers: David Bowie, Heart & Kurt Vonnegut pimp the caffeine lifestyle, 1984
07.13.2015
06:57 am

Topics:
Advertising
Food
Music

Tags:


Instant? Ziggy, you surprise me.
 
Whenever some foodie gets snooty about Starbucks, it’s helpful to keep some historical perspective. Before the mass coffee chain invaded every strip mall in suburbia (plus half the truckstops in bumfuck), you were likely purchasing disgusting grocery store mud on your way to work. So yes, Starbucks is a homogenizing blight of cut-throat capitalist banality, but it has raised coffee standards for your average American, who otherwise would still be choking down Folgers.

Apparently during the early 80s young people stopped drinking coffee entirely. Soda was tastier and it didn’t make you feel like an old man punching in for his day at the mill. Okay, I just made that up, but still coffee had yet to hook the MTV generation!

In 1984, The National Coffee Association launched a campaign called “The Coffee Achievers”—trying sell coffee as young and hip. It’s not exactly clear who was a spokesperson for the ad, and who was just pasted in without their consent. I find it somewhat unlikely that NFL quarterback Ken Anderson, Jane Curtain or David fucking Bowie knew that footage of them was being used to promote coffee, but it looks like Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were enthusiastically on board, literally; note the coffee mug being set down right on the expensive mixing board. Cicely Tyson was obviously a willing participant—and you will note that coffee makes her want to hit someone—but Kurt Vonnegut? Looks like it. The ELO soundtrack isn’t half bad, but I’m willing to bet Starbucks and the exporting of Seattle’s grunge culture did more for youth coffee consumption than the oh-so-hip Jeff Lynne.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Meet David Weinstein, the 18-year-old kid who opened Live Aid
07.13.2015
06:02 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:

David Weinstein (a/k/a Bernard Watson) on stage at Live Aid
 
On July 13th, 1985, Live Aid, the largest concert event ever staged, was held. Taking place at stadiums in both London and Philadelphia, the charity concerts were broadcast to a global audience. The performers, some of the biggest rock and pop stars of the day, helped raise millions of dollars for the starving people of Ethiopia. Amidst this massive event, filled with star-studded performances and reunions of rock royalty, is a small story about a kid from Florida, who through sheer determination found himself on stage in Philadelphia, opening Live Aid.
 
Live Aid poster
 
David Weinstein was eighteen years old and had recently graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School when he took a trip during the summer of 1985. Leaving with his acoustic guitar, a Texaco gas card, and not much else, David made his way northeast in his Oldsmobile. He visited friends in Maine and New Jersey, though the main purpose of his trip was to travel to Pennsylvania to try to convince Bill Graham, the legendary concert promoter and organizer of Live Aid in Philadelphia, to let him on the bill. David attempted to achieve such a seemingly impossible goal simply because he liked the idea of the concerts and wanted to be a part of it. Before he left, he recorded a demo tape of a few of his original songs at his school’s studio. As the tape started rolling, David uttered these words: “Dear Mr. Graham, I would like to begin the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia with this song.” Doug Burris, David’s music teacher, who was recording the session, picks up the story:

I asked him what was going on and he informed me that that’s exactly what he was going to do. Knowing that David was a little unorthodox, spontaneous and driven, I did not ask any further questions, said ‘Ok,’ and finished the session.

One of David’s songs, “Interview,” includes the line, “I’m going to get lucky or I’m going to die trying.”
 
David waits
David waits for his big break.

I recently spoke with David, and he told me that he arrived at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia ten days before Live Aid would take place, looking for Bill Graham. He managed to worke his way into to the area where the stage was being built, and it was there that he spotted Mr. Graham. “That’s Bill Graham,” he said to himself, “That’s the man I came to see.” Unsurprisingly, Graham asked him who he was and what was he doing there. David explained his intentions and handed over his demo tape. A day or two later, Graham came out to the parking lot where David was camped out in his car. Graham said he liked the material, but that David’s singing and guitar playing needed work. Undeterred, David asked if he could play for him, right there in the parking lot. Graham left, but a few hours later, someone brought a prime rib dinner out to him—surely a good sign. Graham came out again, this time bringing along a reporter from Rolling Stone, and David played Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want To Do.” Afterwards, Graham said, “I’ll get back to you.” Incredibly, David did indeed get the nod from Mr. Graham, and would kick off the U.S. edition of Live Aid. When David called Mr. Burris to tell him that it was actually happening, his music teacher didn’t believe him and advised that he see a psychiatrist. But David wasn’t delusional, and soon Mr. Burris and members of the Weinstein family were on their way to Philadelphia.

More after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Page 4 of 619 ‹ First  < 2 3 4 5 6 >  Last ›