In my attempt to post articles about pool for two straight months, here is a classic piece from 1961 about the real Minnesota Fats,hustling, and the nature of pool tournaments. I find these articles endlessly fascinating.
The New York Times did one of their 36 hours travel articles on our fair town of Raleigh. Like always I would have likely mentioned a lot of other shit, but not bad.
My dude John sent me this interesting article about a record store in New York City, the strange denizens that fre- quented the place, and how that led to pre-war blues holding the popularity that it does these days.
A long & well-written article that basically says what anyone with common sense knows - let your kids play.
Two great skate vids this month: - Jason Park - Hawaiian dude with a nuts bag of tricks...part Daewon, part Richie Jackson, part old school freestyler. - Adidas Skate Copa - It's got both the Gonz and Lucas Puid in it, so it's automatically awesome. Plus, like all Adidas vids, very well filmed and put together.
Four new photo
journal entries this month - band photos, documentation of a rare snowfall, and two (of four total) parts from the cruise we took earlier this month.
In the Music reviews, still going through my old seven inches and posting poorly written reviews (I've made it to the second box!). Some of the new reviews include the first two Merge subscription seven inches, Mandolin Orange, Lovers, Future Islands, Fuzz, and more.
nearly always go to rock shows alone, but for some reason it seems
weird going to a comedy show solo. I guess laughter is communal or some
such shit, but it's not like I was going to be the only person in the
room. The wife got called out of town for work, so I unloaded my extra
ticket out front - quite easily to be honest, as the show ended up
being sold out - and found a seat what to make with the laughing and all
a poet from Texas, opened the gig. I guess he's won awards or
something for his words, and it wasn't as weird an opener as you would
think. His poems were short and funny and due to him having spent time
in Fayette- ville in the army, they had local flavor - in particular there
was one about cruising in Benson, and another about party- ing with the
trash in Myrtle Beach. He only spoke for 15 or 20 minutes, probably
just the right amount for a poet per- forming before a comedian. His book
(or books?) would likely be worth checking out if they are anything
like what he read this evening.
I had never seen Eugene Mirman
in person before, but between watching various stand-up specials and
listening to his albums I knew exactly what to expect - and all those
expectations were met. He mixed straight-forward stand-up, props and
pictures, and even multimedia into a great hour (or so) of laughs. He
showed off a series of comical por- traits he was trying to get shown in a
Brooklyn Whole Foods; talked about taking out an ad in a brochure
somewhere in Vermont(?) to protest a parking ticket he got there; aired
an elaborate series of previews of fake shows for the made up TV network
he wants to create (it reminded me a lot of Weird Al's "UHF")...oh, and
he married a couple of people on-stage. It was a full and entertaining
night, Eugene really knows how to put on a show.
In retrospect this would turn out to be the last time I would see Whatever Brains
in this particular configuration, as the bassist would leave the band
shortly thereafter. I'm not the gossipy type so I have no idea what the
details are, I just know he wasn't with them at a later show and then
there was a Facebook post about a new bassist. None of that really
matters though, because they were just as weird and awesome as always
regardless of band dynamics. They had Kings turn out nearly all of the
lights making photography difficult, not that it didn't stop me from
trying. It was ex- actly what you expect out of them - a little punk, a
little art rock, a little attitude, and a shitload of keyboards. As
always, much fun was had.
Having already gotten my money's worth, why not stick around and see what all the fuss is about with Perfect Pussy?
And I didn't even have to stick around very long, a their set was
fifteen minutes long at the most. They're pretty much a
straight-forward hardcore band with a female singer and a little
keyboard noise mixed in. You could barely hear the vocals (they
appeared to be coming from a small amp on the stage), but the band was
plenty fun to watch - singer Meredith Graves paced the stage like a
panther and was very photogenic doing it. I'm not entirely sure why the
likes of Rolling Stone and other major publications have glommed on to
this band versus other hardcore bands, but I'd rather Perfect Pussy be
getting press than some other shit act.
***February Twenty EighthTwo
Thousand and Fourteen***
picture says it all - fuck this winter. Bring on the spring!
Bring on longer days where you can actually do shit out- side after work! Bring on the pizza! Actually, that last one is not season specific.
A couple of good (somewhat long) reads: 1. The Last Days of Ty Cobb. The article, written in 1961, is exactly as the title suggests. Apparently it's considered one of the all-time sports pieces. I wouldn't argue with that assertion. 2. Can't Knock the Hustle. This title is a little less self-explanatory - it's about pool, from multiple POVs - the pro- fessionals, the hustlers, the gamblers, etc. Very enjoyable read. After years of meaning to do it and months of actually working on it, here is a mix of all my favorite songs by the band Low. This band may not be for everyone, but they're one of my all-time favorites.
Very fun BBC doc on The Fall and especially it's eccentric leader Mark E. Smith. A joy to watch and listen to, but I'd hate to have to spend any time with the loon.
Three new photo
journal entries - band photos again (this time Built to Spill, Fuzz, Lovers, and more), and two parts from the trip to California over Christmas, including a big hunk of photos of Joshua Tree National Park.
In the Music reviews, still going through my old seven inches and posting poorly written reviews. Apparently I only got around to two new reviews (Best Coast and a Ska compilation), but I liked both. I did manage to talk about mid- eighties singles from both Musical Youth and Eddie Murphy though, so I'm pretty much delivering exactly what the people want.
This was more or less a repeat of the show these guys put on a couple of years back, and I'm very thankful for it. Kumail Nanjiani is married to a local gal and they were in town for the Christmas break; ditto for Jerrod Carmichael, a North Carolina dude trying to make it in the LA comedy world but back in town for the holidays.
I'm not sure if Jerrod was just flying by the seat of his pants or
if he had a well designed set to feel that way, but either way it felt
like he was just telling jokes off the top of his head and shooting the
shit with the crowd. His parents were there, standing right next to me
actually, and played into his material fairly often. The man has really
honed his craft in my opinion - two years ago I thought he was fairly
funny, but I laughed tons more this time out.
Kumail also felt pretty loose - last time it seemed like he
was performing a pretty well rehearsed act, whereas this time he mixed
what was clearly his standard material with a lot of ad libs and crowd
work. He also had a lengthy inter- rogation of a Pakistani gal who was at
the gig, basically reminiscing about his childhood with her. At the
end, in con- junction with his wife, there was a lengthy Q&A session.
I actually asked a question, surprising even myself, wondering if he
had made up with Marc Maron - to which he responded "next question" and
his wife explained she was good friends with Maron and that drives
It was a fun evening, and hopefully Kumail continues this trend of
playing a show every other year at christmas. A great tradition
a new First Friday show happening here in town called "Let Feedback
Ring," booked by one of the local punk label dudes (I think). First
Friday, for the record, is an art/music/random douchebag gathering that
happens every first Friday on the month in downtown Raleigh. A lot of
places do something similar, sometimes on Thursday (as was the case when
I lived in Oakland) or Saturday or whatever. Hey, any excuse to get
people downtown spending money with local business is a good idea.
The gig was held at Legends. I once went to Legends for
my 21st birthday back when I was a dumb college kid in the nineties and
the idea of going to a gay club was funny for some reason. I had no
idea how big this place was though - there an entire theater area in the
back with a stage that is great for live shows. I got there in time to
catch most of the set from Goner.
It feels like these guys have been around forever, even as far back (I
think) as my first stint in the Triangle until I left in 2000. I've
never followed them closely but they are a quality pop band, and I was
glad to finally check them out. They used the gig to play their newest
record "Faking the Wisdom" from start to finish. Musically it would be
hard not to compare their piano-driven rock to Ben Folds, though I'd
rather listen to Goner myself. Goner also has a smidge of prog rock
running through them, and had more than a couple of moments that
reminded me of Dismemberment Plan (particularly the vocals). The
healthy crowd seemed to enjoy it, as did I.
happened, as they do. This time it was in companion with a crazy light
show being projected on them, which was different and made for a few
cool photos. You just have to snap wildly in those occasions because
the light on the band is changing so rapidly. You get a lot of junk and
a few gems, which is no different than any photo- graphy really, but it's
much more dramatic with a light show. I still say the band is slowly
turning into a hybrid of the Fall and Liars, which is totally awesome in
my book, but my friends disagree. They played one of their long, epic,
heavily keyboard-driven songs as have populated their set lists
lately. I'm into it.
This was my third time seeing Pontiak
this year. To be more specific, it was my third time seeing them since
early September. All three sets have been pretty similar, and at the
same time all three sets have been stellar. When it's this good, I'll
gladly listen and watch them play the same set three more times...hell,
thirty more times. You can look at my older ramblings here and here
if you want more dumb words on the subject, just know that this band is
basically perfection live when it comes to this brand of southern
gothic heavy rock music.
The opener was Guardian Alien.
I think they played at the last Hopscotch or maybe the one before
that...shit, all I re- member was people were talking about them. And
they were probably talking because of drummer Greg Fox, known for his
work in Liturgy or maybe because he's an amazing badass behind the kit.
The music was a combination of Tune-Yards art-pop weirdness and the
heavy quirky vibes of Don Caballero. In fact, Fox's drumming style
reminds me quite a bit of Damon Che of Don Cab, though thankfully Fox
has the good manners to keep his clothes on while he performs. I wasn't
100% in love with all of their music, but watching him drum honestly
made it not really matter.
Fergus & Geronimo - Powerful Lovin'. This band vacillates between awesome and annoying like a goddamn metronome.
Paul Westerberg - Dyslexic Heart. I promise it wasn't even planned but these are a few outtake tracks by Paul Westerberg.
Guess I was just listening to a lot of rarity collections lately.
You'll probably know two of these songs from the "Singles" soundtrack. Bonus: Stain Yer Blood. Bonus: Waiting for Somebody.
***January Thirty FirstTwo
Thousand and Fourteen***
been cold as shit so far this winter. It's family-friendly,
bucolic scenes like this one that really help me through these trying times.
Best films of 2013! I'm never going to get around to seeing everything I want or need to see that came out last year, so this is what I've got for now. My top 5 of the year (in order): Inside Llewyn Davis The Way Way Back Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Pacific Rim Mud Also damn good for various reasons (in alphabetical order): Elysium Killer Joe The Kings of Summer Miss You Can Do It Twenty Feet from Stardom The Wolf of Wall Street World War Z The World's End
Damn enjoyable movies from other years I saw this year for the first time (in alphabetical order): The Bad Seed (1956) Bullhead (2011) Dear Zachary (2008) Dredd (2012) The House I Live In (2012) Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) Miami Connection (1987) Room 237 (2012) Sinister (2012)
The Indy, our local weekly paper used one of my photos for their review of the Perfect Pussy show. My review will be next month hopefully, or just read the one in the link for less rambling, more coherent wordsmithery. Two new photo
journal entries - band photos (Pontiak, Schooner, Libraness, Heather from Mount Moriah, and more) and just a chunk of miscellaneous snaps from the last few months.
In the Music reviews, still going through my old seven inches and posting poorly written reviews. New music reviews of note include Fuzz (which I thought I already had written about), Bad Sports, Belle & Sebastian, Cheap Time, and more.
Counting both old and new reviews, I've posted about 53 different
releases this month! That's a lot of bullshitting.
I've been a huge fan of Midlake
for years and seen them live a number of times - their 2006 album "The
Trials of Van Occupanther" would easily make my top ten records of the
last decade. But then their singer Tim Smith left before they finished
their most recent record "Antiphon," and honestly I didn't know how the
hell their live show would turn out. You can lose a drummer or a
guitarist and generally replace them fairly seamlessly, but losing the
voice of the band is another thing entirely. Short of holding an
international search for a new singer and finding a diminutive
sound-alike from the Philippines, they did the next best thing and just
had guitarist Eric Pulido take over on the mic.
Last time the band was in town they played at the Cradle -
it wasn't full, but there was a healthy crowd there. This time,
they're playing to a half-full Local 506. Probably not a good sign, but
I hope that doesn't serve as a deterrent for them as a band or from
returning to our area. Even with the singer change, it still worked -
they are still a fantastic group both recorded and live. The new lead
vocals aren't spot on, but they're close enough. they showed up with
their own pro lighting gear and a personal sound man, which is a funny
sight for such a small club. IT was such a tech set-up they didn't have
monitors but rather ear pieces, arena rock style. The band did a good
job mixing their new songs with older tracks from "Van Occupanther" and
"The Courage of Others," as it should be. I really enjoyed myself
tonight, and I'm glad they are able to continue even with the change in
According to the band this was the first time Coliseum
had ever played in the the Triangle in their ten years of exis- tence. A
band bypassing our area for a long period of time isn't that strange,
but given these guys are only from Louisville it does seem odd they
never would have toured here. But hey, they're here now and that's what
counts. I have heard from multiple friends that they put on a
top-notch live show, and those reports turned out to be 100% true.
Their records are enjoyable but they just can't measure up to the power
and ferocity of the band on stage. I'm not sure if it's just me or a
truism for the genre, but I find this often to be the case with heavy
and/or metal bands. These cats are more than just metal though, I hear a
distinct tinge of punk throughout most of their music - specifically,
Black Flag. And then there wee a couple of other times when they
approached a Queens of the Stone Age radio-friendly hard rock vibe.
Regardless of sound, it was all great, and hopefully it's not ten more
years before they come back.
I might have been at the show slightly more for Coliseum, but I've been a fan of headliners Pelican
for years, having even seen them a good decade ago when I lived in San
Francisco. I don't remember much from that show other than being there
(at Bottom of the Hill I believe), so it was nice to get a refresher
from this instrumental metal act. I'm not sure what to really say about
them though - they sounded great, the songs rocked. I've listened to
their records but couldn't tell you the name of any of their songs,
which obviously isn't helped when the songs have no words. If it was me
I would have flipped the order of the bands because Coliseum seemed a
more fitting closer, but two good bands is two good bands regardless of
when you see them on a bill.
I never tire of seeing Built to Spill
live. I've seen them dozens of times and like a fine wine they get
better with age. At least this is what I'm told, I ain't one of them
fancy yuppies what partakes in spoilt grape drink. Brett Netson and the
other bald guitarist who isn't Doug Martsch were still with the band,
but they had a new rhythm section. Other than that it was business as
usual with a BtS live event - great songs. hot solos, and the always
awful crowd they seem to attract. I guess that also says something
about me but I'm old now and who gives a shit really. This outing they
played a lot more older songs than usual, especially from "There's
Nothing Wrong with Love" - "In the Morning," "Car," and "Big Dipper" off
the top of my head. Other highlights included "Kicked It in the Sun,"
"Joyride," "Carry the Zero," plus a couple of covers: Blue Oyster Cult's
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?". On the
cover songs in particular Doug and Brett really got to play up their
guitar god status, they nailed all the riffs and solos per- fectly. I
eagerly look forward to their return again next year.
They had an interesting opener called Slam Dunk,
and as is typical for Built to Spill they appeared to be friends of
theirs from the Pacific Northwest. I guess they had sort of a "cow punk
garage pop" thing going...imagine the Meat Puppets crossed with the
Craps crossed with some indie pop like Modest Mouse. I seem to recall
there being a lot of shouting on stage. As you might imagine with a
combination of sounds like I heard, some songs were interesting and
enjoyable, and others were a bit of a mess. I liked them more than I
didn't though, and I'd check out their record if I came across it.
The Mae Shi - Boys in the Attic. The recordings of these guys never came close to their live show.
The Secret Machines - Alone, Jealous and Stoned. In the world of over blown major label indie rock, this group was still pretty damn good. Honestly if they would have been British I think they would have been huge.
Thousand and Fourteen***
As a christmas present to ourselves the wife and I decided to have a portrait made. Dig that hip goat man!
Kind of a light update, what with the mid-month "best of" post in December, taking a trip to LA (photos next time), and, of course, a large helping of laziness.
Jon Rafman - finding art through google street view. It doesn't sound nearly as interesting as it actually is. Grant Taylorofficially made the move to Antihero, and even though the welcome video is likely just throwaway foot- age filmed in the last couple of months, it's still nuts. One new Photo
journal entry - band photos including Superchunk, Parting Gifts, Birds of Avalon, Speedy Ortiz and a few others.
In the Music reviews I continue working through my old seven inches as I organize my collection. New music reviews of note include Polvo, ASG, and a couple of other things I wasn't overly excited about.
This is the second time I've gone to see Lovers
at the Pinhook, and it's the second time I've rearranged my schedule to
do so. The first time, I didn't exactly postpone my vacation so I
wouldn't miss their show, but I definitely made the vacation plans a day
late because of it. This time around I already had a ticket to the
first night of Mountain Oasis for the purpose of seeing Neutral Milk
Hotel, and as soon as I saw Lovers were playing that same night I sold
the shit out of that ticket a soon as I could. It was worth it.
It is hard to say if the crowd was better this time
around than a couple of years ago, but what we lacked in numbers we made
up for in enthusiasm. Despite my constant prattling on about this band
and trying to get my friends to give them a chance, no one listens.
Never mind that I rarely listen when people suggest bands to me, that's
not the point here! I did bring the wife with me just in an effort to
make sure as many people were at the show as possible. Their set list
was mostly songs from their last two records, the perfect "Dark Light"
released in 2010 and their most recent release, "A Friend in the World,"
which will definitely be found on my "best of" list at the end of the
year. They sounded fantastic, especially the vocals, which drive their
music. I rarely talk to bands after the show but for the second time I
kinda com- pletely fanned out on them, lauding them with so much praise
they probably thought I was screwing with them, but I stand by
everything I've ever said by them. Brilliant, brilliant electro pop
music that should be light years more popular, but I'm partly glad I
still have them to myself.
5. Smith Westerns - Soft Will (Mom & Pop) Somewhere along the line these guys transformed from a garage pop act to creating this record that you'd think George Harrison had a hand in writing. Fool Proof White Oath
6. Big Boi - Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors (Def Jam) Similar to what I said about Superchunk, if Big Boi releases a record it's going to make my "best of" list. The dude just keeps getting better with age. Apple of My Eye In the A
7. Polvo - Siberia (Merge) Much of this record sounds as good as their classic work, with the extra added dynamic of keyboards on many songs. Light, Raking Total Immersion
8. Whatever Brains - Whatever Brains (Sorry State) Confoundingly awesome and nearly undescribable. My current working description is The Fall and Liars having sex in a sack. So glad I get to see them live all the time. Companymen NPTO
9. Low - The Invisible Way (Sub Pop) Great album from start to finish, and they might have written their best song ever with "Holy Ghost." So haunting. Holy Ghost So Blue
10. Jacco Gardner - Cabinet of Curiosities (Trouble in Mind) Glad someone is trying to bring baroque Zombies-style pop back Jacco is young but doing veteran work. Clear the Air Help Me Out
The Other 10... Camera Obscura - Desire Lines (4AD) Mikal Cronin - MCII (Merge) Danny Brown - Old (Fool's Gold) Fuzz - Fuzz (In The Red) Hayden - Us Alone (Arts & Crafts) The Kingsbury Manx - Bronze Age (Odessa) The Men - New Moon (Sacred Bones) The Night Marchers - Allez Allez (Swami) Oblivians - Desperation (Merge) Yo La Tengo - Fade (Matador)
...and there was just an insane number of things I never even got around to. It happens. For example...
Records that came out last year that would have likely made my "best of " list only I didn't listen to them until this year. Neil Halstead - Palindrome Hunches (Brushfire) Lace Curtains - The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness (Female Fantasy) Redd Kross - Researching the Blues (Merge)
I didn't bother making a best songs list this time. I did put all the above songs from the top 10 in a single zip you can download here, in the event you are too lazy to download them individually.
Built to Spill at the Cat's Cradle - 10/30/2013. If I see them in a given year, they go on the list. No links because I haven't finished their review yet.
Hopscotch, 9/5/2013 to 9/7/2013. Our local music festival did not disappoint. Low was not only the highlight of this but also my favorite show of the year. Other greats were Spiritualized, Pontiak, Sleep, Swearin, Oblivians, Mikal Cronin, and the Breeders. Reviews: Day 1, Day 2 day parties, Day 2, Day 3; Photos: Day 1, Day 2 day parties, Day 2, Day 3.
Lovers at the Pinhook - 10/25/2013. Skipped Neutral Milk Hotel to see them. It was worth it. No links because I haven't finished their review yet.
Metz at Schoolkids Records - 4/20/2013. An in-store during Record Store Day and it still made the list. Really bummed I had plans later this night and didn't get to see the full show, really hope they come back soon.
Pontiak. Saw them three times this year - in Asheville, at Hopscotch, and recently at Kings. I've loved their records for a while, but finally seeing them live was likely my favorite discovery of the year. Photos
Whatever Brains. I'm not even going to venture a guess as to how many times I saw them this past year, likely in the half dozen range. They are a local treasure and I look forward to seeing them every single time. Photos
I'm saving my top movies list for later - the studios release so many of the best movies of the year in the last couple of weeks of December I want to give myself a chance to see at least a couple of them.