Aaron and the Burrs, “Release the Bats” 7-inch

Posted in garage rock, reviews, vinyl on September 23rd, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

cover - aaron and the burrsSurf trio Aaron & the Burrs does an excellent job of keeping everything short and sweet on their “Release the Bats” single. With instrumentals, it’s difficult to know where to stop, but both of these tracks had me repeatedly flipping the 45 to listen to it over and over. While absolutely standard in terms of genre, it’s loaded with flourishes and detail that reveal a new delight with every repeated play.

As I said, both cuts on this 45 aren’t breaking any new ground. Aaron & the Burrs play sunny surf-rock, the same as has been purveyed since the ’60s. This still sounds absolutely wonderful, though. The songs are short, catchy, and well-executed. The a-side, “Release the Bats,” has a nice workout somewhere in the middle that really brings it to life, and ends with a fantastic bit of revved up guitar.

“Oh No, More Bats” is the more sonically interesting. It changes up the tempo several times as it goes, and works a much more complex interplay between the guitar and bass, with the bass at times even doubling the guitar line for a much more full sound.
read more »

Podcast #117, “Sadder Slower”

Posted in podcast on September 22nd, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

sad-cat
My mood, as of late, has been horrendously mercurial. I’ve been an emotional wreck, prone to fits of raging anger and crippling sadness. Needless to say, the new podcast reflects both that and the Audio Reader benefit sale from the weekend before last.

Podcast #117, “Sadder Slower”
read more »

33 1/3 editor Ally Jane Grossan talks about the series’ past and future

Posted in books, interview, upcoming events, upcoming release on September 10th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

333 spines
For those who love music and books, there’s nothing finer than Bloomsbury’s critically acclaimed 33 1/3, which examines individual, seminal albums, in pocket books that pack a punch. The 33 1/3 series celebrates its 100th book, on Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, on Thursday, September 11 and will be having a party for its 10th anniversary on Thursday, October 2, at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn.

Ally Jane Grossan is a commissioning editor at Bloomsbury. She edits academic books in the realms of pop music and sound studies and is editor of the 33 1/3 series, taking over from founding editor David Barker in November 2012. She is also co-editor of the forthcoming textbook, How to Write About Music. We spoke with Grossan via e-mail about the series and its history.
read more »

Podcast #116, “Short and Frickin’ Sweet”

Posted in podcast on September 8th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

munchkin cat
Maybe it’s due to a lengthy week, with a lot of mileage in it. Maybe it’s due to the weather, which went from hot and humid to rainy to seasonally-appropriate. Maybe it’s because I drank a can of FourLoko last night, got spectacularly drunk in a very short period of time, and then immediately crashed at 10:00pm.

Who’s to say? All I know is that there’s a shorter set of tunes than usual, but they’re absolutely rock-solid.

Podcast #116, “Short and Frickin’ Sweet”
read more »

Apache Dropout’s Seth Mahen and Sonny Alexandre on “Heavy Window”

Posted in garage rock, interview, punk, streaming audio / video on August 21st, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

apache dropout flier
Indiana garage trio Apache Dropout just released their latest album, Heavy Window, via Magnetic South Recordings this Tuesday. The album’s much darker than their last record, Bubblegum Graveyard which was released in 2012 on Chicago’s Trouble In Mind. We’ve been enjoying the hell out of the LP, so we reached out to the band’s Seth Mahern and Sonny Alexandre to ask them about how Heavy Window came together.
read more »

“Chasing the Light” an overly-effusive, yet still-potent story of Minnesota band Cloud Cult

Posted in books, indie, reviews on August 20th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - chasing the light cloud cultMark Allister‘s upcoming book for university of Minnesota Press, Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story is as enthusiastic a band history and biography as one could ask for. That’s where the trouble lies: it’s so enthusiastic, it’s so positive, it’s so very cheerleader toward the band that one has difficulty seeing any sort of objectivity within its pages.

Case in point: new members’ reasons for joining are explained, but very rarely is explanation given as to why someone left. There are as many former members as there are current members of the Minnesota band, and with the exception of Sarah Young, the cellist who left in 2011 to raise a family, the other band members who’ve left aren’t really explained at all.
read more »

Podcast #115, “Laundry Day”

Posted in podcast on August 18th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

clothesline
Ah, yes — the joys of recording a podcast while the washing machine sloshes above and the dehumidifer hums below. Apologies for any segments of the podcast where my voice is washed out. Recording in the basement on a Sunday morning isn’t the quietest place to get things done.

Podcast #115, “Laundry Day”
read more »

Glasper’s “Burning Britain” for the fans only

Posted in books, punk, reviews on August 13th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

book cover - burning britainIan Glasper‘s tenth anniversary edition of Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980-1984 (out now from PM Press) is an invaluable resource for anyone looking for first-person narratives of the second wave of UK punk. For those looking for an interesting read, that’s another story.

Burning Britain is like a very large ‘zine. It’s very rambling, with lots of interjections and asides, and quite a bit of editorializing on the part of the author. Glasper is prone to describe singles or songs as “crackling with an almost tangible passion and urgency,” as he does in the case of the Underdogs’ “East of Dachau” single.
read more »

Ray Creature, “Ray Creature” LP

Posted in electronic, punk, reviews, streaming audio / video on August 11th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

cover - ray creatureRay Creature, the new project from Leg’s John Booth, has an interesting record out now on Sister Cylinder. While I’m not really into the whole post-punk aesthetic, I’ve gotten a little further into the synthwave / darkwave / et cetera sets of bands because of my growing obsession with ’80s horror flicks.

However, while I really dig the synths on this record, the vocals turn me off. The whole demon Elvis croon pretty much peaked with Glenn Danzig, and everyone else is aping him. Find your own voice, folks. “Threat” and “Burning Alive” (especially the latter) are the only really egregious examples extant on Ray Creature’s LP, but they’re particularly glaring.
read more »

Alex Ogg offers up a balanced history of the Dead Kennedys’ early years

Posted in books, punk, reviews on August 5th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - dead kennedys fresh fruitAuthor Alex Ogg has accomplished a rare task with his new book, Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, The Early Years. In the history, out now from PM Press, Ogg manages to present all sides of the band’s history, speaking with all sides of the now-warring members. More surprisingly, it’s actually entertaining.

Much of this is due to Ogg’s own wit, and ability to see the slightly-surreal and absurd aspects that characterize Dead Kennedys’ history. The verbal jabs and parries between the members makes for a rambunctious read, but it never degenerates into the literary equivalent of a Real Housewives episode.
read more »