Monday, October 31, 2005

Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers

Mojo NY Punk

This months Mojo magazine CD celebrates some of the bands of the New York punk rock scene.

Dee Dee Ramone's ode to heroin - co-written with Richard Hell - is one of New York punk's defining tracks. The track first appeared on the Heartbreakers' debut album, L.A.M.F. (short for "Like A Motherfucker") in 1977.

Dee Dee, however, wasn't initially allowed to record it with The Ramones due to guitarist Johnny's resolutely anti-drug stance. The Ramones finally released their version of Chinese Rock on their "End Of The Century" album in 1980.

So ex-New York Dolls guitarist Thunders snapped it up and inserted it in his set alongside Born To Lose, which he'd written at the same time.

Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers - Chinese Rocks

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Flaming Lips (Late Addendum)

The Flaming Lips

Well I obviously haven't been surfing my favourite blog sites as much as I used to, having just discovered that Think Tank had posted a copy of a promo cd for The Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" listening parties with the band talking about each song (and also playing the album) at about the same time as my previous post of the instrumental version of the album.

Go to Think Tank to hear the listening party here.

I might get my shit together enough to actually do another post .... eventually.

Life takes over.

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Listening Party)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips have released 11 albums since forming in Oklahoma City in 1983, when they were influenced equally by punk and psychedelia, art and performance and especially the Butthole Surfers.

Signed at a relatively early stage in their career to Warner Bros, the Lips were, unusually, nurtured by Warners and given the opportunity to develop their own musical style, which has progressed from their earliest efforts to simply be as loud as possible, through to their alt-psychedelic sound and the 1995 surprise alt-novelty pop hit “She Don’t Use Jelly”, which enabled the band a slot on Lollapalooza's second stage, a number-one hit, heavy rotation on MTV and an infamous spot on Beverly Hills 90210.

The band moved on to larger scale experiments such as the BOOMBOX parking lot experiments, which have involved up to many hundreds of cassettes being played simultaneously and culminated in 1997’s Zaireeka, a four-CD album which must be played on four CD players simultaneously.

Special guest stars in the soap opera that is The Flaming Lips have included Jonathon Donahue who left to concentrate on his own band, Mercury Rev and regular extra special guest star Dave Fridmann.

Their more recent psychedelic, orchestral pop masterpieces, which led to much acclaim, began with “The Soft Bulletin”, considered by many music critics to be the best album of 1999, and 2002’s “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots”, which was similarly received.

The band also make interesting subjects for a documentary, as seen in The Fearless Freaks. Wayne Coyne has also been writing and directing his feature film Christmas On Mars for over 5 years. The film has had announcements of “being released this christmas” for the last few years, but has been delayed due to touring and recording commitments. Even the band’s own web page states that the film should be released for Christmas 2003.

At War with the Mystics is the tentative title of the forthcoming album by The Flaming Lips, due to be released in January 2006, and it is reported to be more guitar-oriented and weirder than Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Doveman, The Silent League, The King Of France, Alec Ounsworth & The Pelican Picnic

The King of France

The Mercury Lounge is located in New York City where the Lower East Side meets the East Village, and it was just a short walk through the village from our rented studio apartment. We only caught one gig there, but what a gig it was, it seemed like a weeks worth of performance in one night.

We arrived at the venue in time to grab a brew at the long bar, wander through to the back stage room and find a place to sit on the floor (it seemed to be the thing to do) to catch the first act, Doveman, play a gentle set, almost reverently appreciated by the audience. The set was so well reviewed by Jerry Yeti that I need not say any more.

Next up were The Silent League and just how they managed to fit all 10 (?!) members of the band onto the relatively small stage without poking each other in the head with their instruments was an achievement enough in itself, although there was one guitar dropping incident. By this stage the crowd had thickened and it was time to stand up and enjoy a show comprised of some old tracks and many new orchestral pop songs, which the band have been busily rehearsing and recording. It was a set full of banter amongst the band and occasionally the audience. Great music, great musicianship and great fun indeed!

There was plenty of room on stage for the bass guitar-less three-piece that is The King Of France, although they managed to fill the stage and then more. Take equal parts guitar, keyboard and drums, add tongue (to later be inserted firmly in cheek) and a measure of quirky lyrics. Blend with a dash of tenuous vocal delivery, but with the ability to move easily from bass to falsetto, and a veritable truck load of “don’t seem to give a fuck what's cool” (these guys have no pretensions at all) and you’re almost there. Why aren’t The King Of France touring the world, playing in (much) bigger venues and selling truck loads of records? The room was very full by this stage with lots of moving heads and feet. “Woo Hoo!” I say. Highlight of the evening!!

The King of France have just released their debut album (that is if you don’t count the previous release “Salad Days” which is a selection of some of front man Steve Salad's pre-band recordings), “The King of France”

These guys were my find of the holiday. Long live the King(s)!!!

The final band for the night was many bloggers favorite, Alec Ounsworth, although not wearing his Clap Your Hands Say Yeah hat, despite apparent rumours to the contrary. Alec Ounsworth & The Pelican Picnic are another incarnation of Ounsworth’s, and they played a set of country/folk tinged pop to a slightly reduced crowd. Perhaps people had to work early the next day, or perhaps they were frustrated that it wasn’t a secret CYHSY gig after all? The sign out the front of the Mercury Lounge warned as much, but it was a well received set by those who remained and was an appropriate ending to an eclectic night of new, New York bands.

Brooklyn Vegan was at this gig as well, so if you want another perspective and some photos of the sets of Doveman, The King Of France or Alec Ounsworth & The Pelican Picnic, the links will get you there.

For some sounds, check out the band's websites:-


The Silent League

The King of France

Alec Ounsworth

Plus here are a few mp3's you don't even need to go searching for:-

The King of France - White Confection

The King of France - Mexico

Doveman - Honey

The Silent League - Breathe

Saturday, October 01, 2005

San Francisco Electronic Music Festival 2005


I like travelling to see new sights, taste new foods, hear new sounds and to basically get away from everyday life. A particularly nice aspect of travelling is having the opportunity to see and hear some new music, as we did on our recent world jaunt.

The first show we saw was the sixth annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival at the SomArts Cultural Center.

We caught the third night of the festival, which showcased three electronic and experimental artists:-

Matt Heckert played one of his amazing, self constructed, sound machines. The sound machine for this performance featured two hollow wooden platforms, each approximately 3 meters wide and a meter tall, consisting of three “steps” along which metal chain links of different width and weight were strung, with two lengths of chain on each platform. These metal chains were connected at one end to a heavy metal spring, and at the other to an arm connected to a motor which, when the arm was rotated, caused the metal chains to rattle gently and bang heavily against the wooden steps, dependent upon the speed of the motor. At the rear of the stage were two tall poles, each with motors at their base which caused the poles to rotate, with varying speed and direction, clanging the chains attached to the top, initially against large heavy plastic bins which were sitting atop of the poles, until these were flung off, and then the metal chain lengths were rattling and banging against each of the poles.

Heckert controlled these machines via his laptop and created a rhythmic installation which grew from a relative tinkle to a stampede, as metal and wood caressed and collided. The performance was deafening, entertaining and bizarrely entrancing.

Patrice Scanlon initially sat at her laptop, generating a wash of gentle squelches which occasionally morphed into standard night club beats. She was joined by two dancers and even joined them in their choreographed interpretation of the music. Not really my thing. I prefer to see a musical performance, not something which has been pre-programmed.

The Hub is a computer network ensemble of six composers/performers who formed in 1984 and who connect their separate computer-controlled music synthesizers (laptops) into a network (the hub after which they are named). The band approaches the computer network as a large, interactive musical instrument where, as the machines respond to each other, the players input changes as well, producing music that is noisy, surprising, often unpredictable, and "more than the sum of its parts".

The group sat facing each other, with their computer generated sounds slowly growing in volume and complexity as they were slowly manipulated, more blips and bleeps, with often humorous captions projected on the screen behind them, such as ""What is this clicky stuff?". But the performance seemed to just continue until the band thought they'd had enough, or had run out of time, rather than the music reaching any conclusion in it's own right. It was entertaining enough though, as much for what the band have achieved already and the field they are playing in as much for what they actually did on the night.

Matt Heckert - Munich Samba

Check out more of Matt Heckert's soundscapes here