Hey, look at me, I'm famous! Or, not really. A magazine called The Local Palate used a photo I took of Cheetie from Birds of Avalon in an article about her restaurant Garland.
If Antihero puts out a new video, it gets posted here - that's just good science. This one is called "Chesnut Hill." Dann Van Der Linden is the most exciting new kid to come on the scene in years.
And yet another Antihero video, this one called "The Vickie Report." I'm not sure what's gotten into these guys and why they're so productive lately, but I couldn't be any happier about it.
I'm not entirely sure what Dime is - are they just a clothing company or something more? - but whatever is going on, they put on the best contests skateboarding has ever known. I think the speed challenge is my favorite part, since they have to wear wraparound sunglasses while skating. Brilliant.
We spent a good chunk of the middle of the month on a vacation out west; subsequently, that resulted in five photo
journal entries documenting the trip. It was a good time. Vacations are awesome, right?
Bull City 11th Anniversary Party with Superchunk, Pipe, Last Year's Men, and Daniel Bachman
Ponysaurus is located just a few blocks from the more "newly
developed" parts of downtown Durham, but it's like a different world -
boarded up buildings, blight, and the typical trappings of inner city
poverty abound. You can see the changes creeping that way though, that
new money slowly overtaking block by block in the same fashion kudzu
covers everything it encounters. I suppose Ponysaurus itse;f would be
one of those agents of change themselves. I'll leave it up to the
reader to decide if this a good or bad thing (or as is almost always the
case in these situations, both), I'm just painting the scene...
I got there and Daniel Bachman
was already well into his set. Just him and his guitar performing
really pretty, intricate instrumental music. He also played this
weirdly shaped lap guitar that I'm going to assume was a dobro until I'm
told different. He's really damn young! Way younger than you'd
probably expect given his talent level...his recordings make you would
assume he's a much older cat, or at least that applied to me. Maybe he
just has an old soul, whatever that means. These instrumental guitar
dudes are really hot right now, right? It feels like there are a lot of
them. Daniel is as good as any of them if not better.
I was pretty excited
Last Year's Men
were playing this party, because I was pretty sure they had broken up.
Maybe it was just a "hiatus," but either way they sorta fizzled out and
I believe it had been quite a while since they last per- formed live.
Does this gig signal that the band is back for real or was this just a
one off, a favor for Bull City Records? I guess time will tell. They
were as good as ever, playing a number of tracks from their great album
"Sunny Down Snuff" as well as that second record they released only as
MP3s that I must confess I haven't really heard. I was into the jams
anyways though. One noteworthy change was Montgomery was back in band -
before their previous hiatus (or whatever it was) he was no longer with
the group, instead focusing all his attention on Flesh Wounds. It was
nice to see him back in the fold. I hope I get to see them again, and
soon, because they're one of my favorite local acts.
PIPE PIPE PIPE PIPE PIPE. That's really all the review of this band
should be. I've seen them dozens upon dozens of times and it's always
the same...the band rocks out to pretty much the same songs they always
play, holding shit down in a straight-forward but necessary fashion;
singer Ron Liberti, Robert Pollard's long lost twin, puts on a
per- formance that is somewhere between pantomime, modern dance and your
favorite drunk uncle; the crowd throws beer cans at the band; I smile
and laugh the entire time. They played a lot of great hits, including
two of their best "Biscuits" and "Yr Soaking in It" and a cover of Joe
Jackson's "One More Time." At one point Ron caught one of the beers
thrown at him, took a drink from it, and then threw it back at the crowd
as if the whole thing was choreographed. He also sang at least one
song standing under a giant plastic tarp like he was wearing the world's
most suffocating ghost costume. Pipe is everything rock bands should
aspire to be.
In a lot of ways what I said about Pipe also holds for Superchunk,
minus the difference in antics of the respective singers - about the
most you get from Mac is a jump off of the drum riser and/or some
windmill guitar work. Like Pipe, I've seen Superchunk dozens upon
dozens of times, they play a ton of songs I've seen them play a more
times than I can count, and they're incredibly dependable. Unlike Pipe,
they've actually continued to write songs and release albums since the
nineties, and their material is a lot more fun to sing along to (sorry
Pipe, I still love you). In the run-up to this show the band mentioned
that this is the first time they've played locally since Merge 25 in the
summer of 2014, which makes sense because I've been grousing about not
getting to see them for a good two years. There's not a whole lot I can
say about these guys at this point, just know that other than Laura no
longer playing with them live, they've not lost a step.
Lydia Loveless - Can't Change Me. I'm working backwards with Lydia's catalog - here are a couple of great tracks from her bluegrass-inflected first record. More Like Them
The Mountain Goats - Choked Out. It took me a while to get around to the most recent Goats' record that is all about wrestling...despite the silly concept it's as good as most anything else John Darnielle has made. Luna
Stevie Perez got a new pro shoe on Lakai, and put out a promo vid to promote/celebrate the event. I was kinda in- different to this guy when he first came on the scene, but the last year or so everything he has released has been gold.
Sam Chao released a new short video of SF ripping called All Damn Day. I have no idea who he is, but he has a bunch of Crailtap dudes in there ripping so you go Sam. Stick around to the very end to actually see the extremely rare sight of Rick Howard skating!
Peter Hewitt released a new part for Spitfire. Excellent tranny skating from start to finish, but my god that last trick... an alley oop eggplant over a channel? It's hard to fuckin' comprehend.
journal entry again, this from our recent yearly trip to Topsail Beach to hang with the family.
Jenny Besetzt with No One Mind, Enemy Waves, and Konvoi
It had been forever since I'd been to a show...two months
maybe? Probably Moogfest was my last outing...apparently I only go to
shows in Durham now. And what better way to throw yourself back in to
the scene than to attend a four band show, and be there from the very
start? Actually, there are a lot of better ways, but that's what I
The reason for getting there so early? Konvoi,
an actual good band from Boone. The idea of there being a group from
Boone that I would ever give a shit about was a foreign concept growing
up just down the road from that hippie haven, where most of the live
entertainment involved groups with names like Mushroom Gravy Funk
Concern, Quilted Pants Family Band, and Patchouli Joe & the Broken
Volkswagen Transmissions. Instead, you get a four piece of young dudes
who are more (early) Whatever Brains than Widespread Panic. They had a
dark vibe to them as well, reminiscent of Ex-Cult or Pop. 1280...lots of
distorted vocals and minor chords. Some call it art punk I guess.
They've only released a cassette so far, and I no longer own a cassette
player since selling my old Subaru, but you can listen online if you're
so inclined...and I'll definitely be seeing them again.
would probably count as the main reason I left the house tonight. For
whatever reason, every time they play it's opposite other plans I have
or I'm out of town or some such shit - luckily tonight worked out in my
favor. Three-fourths of Enemy Waves might be made up of Birds of Avalon
members, but you would never confuse the two groups from their sound -
this outfit is instrumental and pretty goddamn jazzy. Jazzy in that
mid-90s Thrill Jockey sort of way mind you, not classic hard bop or
anything. Their sets used to feel a lot more freeform, but it had been a
while since the last time I saw them live and now the performance is
much more structured. They started and ended their night with more
traditional "rock" jams (with a bit of a kraut backbone), but in the
middle they had both saxophones out, squawking a very fanciful
fashion...sounded great. Those dudes really know how to blow a horn.
I'm really stoked it finally worked out that I got to see them again.
I didn't know anything about
No One Mind,
the third band of the night. My friend Paul said "It's the Toddlers,
basically," but I'm not sure if that was a reference to their sound, the
band members, or maybe both. To be honest I don't really remember the
Toddlers but I'm pretty sure I saw them live a time or two, they played a
ton a few years back. Once they took the stage I did notice Missy from
Love Language and Birds of Avalon (and god knows how many other bands)
in the group, but that was the limit to my knowledge. The band turned
down the lights, manned their own per- sonal light show set up at their
feet, and then proceeded to play what I would most generically describe
as dark indie pop. Not that the band was generic, just my effort of
describing them. My first reaction was it reminded me of Arcade Fire,
and I know to a lot of people that might sound like an insult but fuck
it, that first Arcade Fire record was damn good. No One Mind seems like
an act to keep an eye on, wouldn't be at all surprised if they got a
little buzz behind them.
At this point, it was time for the last act Jenny Besetzt,
and goddamn was I tired. They were there to celebrate the release of
their new full-length "Tender Madness," and I loved everything I heard
but after a few songs my ass had to bow out before I collapsed from
lazinessitis and old leg syndrome. They're a good pairing with No One
Mind, both are in the general frame of dark indie pop, with keyboards
playing a large role in each band. One of the most
noticeable/ interesting aspect of Jenny Besetzt are the deep, almost Ian
Curtis-like vocals; they kinda have a classic Echo & the
Bunnymen/Psychedelic Furs vibe. What's not to like about that? Next
time I see them hopefully they won't be the fourth group of the night.
Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks - Houston Hades. Pavement is an all-time favorite but I don't listen to Malkmus' solo work as often as I should, considering it sounds just like Pavement with a tad more guitar histrionics. Lariat
Sturgill Simpson - The Promise. There's a reason Sturgill has been getting so much hype the last couple of years... it's well deserved. Dude is on another plane. Turtles All the Way Down
Swearin' - Dust In The Gold Sack. I'm not sure if Swearin' is a still a thing or not, now that singer Allison Crutchfield is
signed as solo artist with Merge, but I expect good things from
her in the future regardless. Swearin' was great live. Here to Hear Unwanted Place
Teenage Fanclub - Catholic Education 2. Fanclub's first record gets lost in the shuffle sometimes, it's a little more shoegaze slacker rock than the perfect pop band they would become...but I still love it. Just not as much. Everything Flows
Them - Don't Look Back. Hot take of the day: Van Morrison was much better with Them than he ever was solo. Gloria
I have no idea who Eniz Fazliov is, but this part from the "Where We Come From" video is pure gold. Dude goes fast,
big, and has great trick and spot selection. The song as great as
well. Just skip the first two minutes unless you like footage of pointless partying.
Almost as good as new part from Grant Taylor is a ten minute compilation of some of his best footage over the years, courtesy of Thrasher Magazine.
Michael Mackrodt is back with yet another of his skating/tourism videos, this one called "Fishing Lines Tunisia." This one is a little heavier on the skating than the tourism, but still great. Dude has some crazy quick feet.
One large photo
journal entry from our April trip to the Outer Banks. Do with that what you will.
Here are my show reviews: I didn't go to any damn shows last month. Lazy, old, all of the above.
American Aquarium - Man I'm Supposed To Be. Local lads done well...it's not often I think a band gets better as they age, I almost always prefer the early work...but their latest record is the best of the bunch. Southern Sadness Wolves
Despite their love of subpar filming equipment and cheeseball synth pop, Pyramid Country continue to kill it with every video they release - their latest offering Distant Mind Terrain is no different.
Boulevard Skateboards, on top of the world right now, released a new video called Quinto full of mostly Brazilians and a few stragglers from other countries just killing every spot they happen upon. Carlos Iqui had the best (and last) part, unsurprisingly, but the real treat was Danny Cerezini, who I've never really cared about, having probably the sec- ond best.
journal entries - one is the total set of Moogfest photos (see reviews below); the other is some snaps of old houses and old friends seen on a weekend trip to South Carolina.
first day of the first Durham edition of Moogfest...this is a way
easier commute than the Asheville edition! Despite it being the type of
festival where you bounce around from venue to venue, tonight was going
to be very easy for me - I was starting at Motorco and not leaving
until it was time to walk to the car. Not only that, this was my most
anticipated line-up of the whole event.
First up for me was Silver Apples,
aka Simeon. When a band is just one man do you refer to it as a he or a
they? Regardless, I saw him nearly twenty years ago (with a drummer
that time) opening for Polvo at the Cat's Cradle, and he was already an
old dude then...I mention this not to mock him, but purely out of
adoration. The man turns 78 this year and is just as lively, vibrant,
and impressive as anyone else at Moogfest, of any age. This man is
nearly as old as my grandma, and here he is on stage tweaking the shit
out of his homemade synth (called the Simeon, for the record), making
music that formed the backbone of what krautrock and electronic music
would come to be. In my opinion, there aren't many artists as important
as Silver Apples in this realm - this band should be the Wikipedia
entry when you look up the phrase "ahead of their time." Oh, did I
mention his performance was un-fucking-believably good? The kind of
good where it might end up being my favorite show of the entire year, or
at a minimum top three. He played songs across his entire catalog as
well as a few new ones, ending with an epic version of his classic
"Oscillations."As much gushing as I have done here, it still doesn't encapsulate how happy this show made me.
my excitement for bands that follow an epic performance are unfairly
lowered, like a come down after some particularly potent drugs or a damn
good milkshake. It's not the band's fault, just human nature...or at
least my personal human nature. Coming into the festival, Zombi
was probably the group I was most excited about - and the thing is,
they were totally rad. A duo from Pittsburgh, their recordings might
have you believe they're just a laptop performance (a pretty common
sight at Moogfest) - but it was a real, live band up on that stage. One
cat played bass and had a whole shitload of synths, sometimes played
separately and occasionally at the same time; the other dude handled the
drums, and also seemed to have some sort of synth action, electronic
drums, and/or triggers he was working with. They sounded good, and I
enjoyed myself, but I'm pretty sure I would have liked it a lot more if
it hadn't immediately followed something so mind-blowing. I'd be stoked
to go see Zombi again though.
The final act I would see this evening was Gary Numan.
He was holding a three day residency, performing a diff- erent album each
night - tonight it was his solo debut, "Replicas." Much to my dismay
none of the nights were focus- ing on the Tubeway Army record...not that I
thought they would, but a man has to have dreams. I had already been
standing in the same spot for three hours, sweaty and uncomfortable,
and Numan had the temerity to take the stage at least forty minutes
late. When he did finally show up, at least he and the rest of the band
sounded great. I probably don't need to tell you anything about the
set list - feel free to look up the track listing to "Replicas" if
you're curious. A long delay like this one would have been much easier
to accept if it happened at one of his next two shows, which are at the
seated venue Carolina Theater. Good god, I'm getting old. I only made
it through about two-thirds of his set before my legs finally waved the
white flag, and it was time to go. Luckily, there would be more
opportunities to see Numan the next two days...
good man Brian came in from Wilmington for the next two nights of
Moogfest. I typically go to shows solo, so it was a nice change of pace
to have one of my best friends there for the old man version of rocking and/or rolling.
We decided to start our night with Grimes.
To be honest, neither one of us knew a thing about her (I actually
wasn't even sure if it was a her or a them going into the show), and I mostly
went in with an open mind...a mind that closed fairly fast, to be honest. We
lasted two songs, but I was over it halfway through the first. All of
the music appeared to be pre-recorded, and when I say all of the music I'm
even including the vocals. She might have sang along during parts of the
song, but there were multiple times (just in the brief time we were there)
that the mic was a good two feet from her face but the vocals were
still perfect. It was basically a dance & lip sync performance,
which I suppose I might have come around to accepting if I actually
liked how it sounded. I was certainly in the minority in this opinion though
- the place was packed and the crowd was eating it up. I guess I can't
always be hip to what the kids like...
We walked next
door to Motorco to see what was happening there - I knew it would be
hip hop, but I didn't know any- thing about the artist performing - Denzel Curry.
Turns out it was a young dude out of Miami with great dreads who
bounced around the stage like he was on a cocktail of Red Bull and
cocaine. I've never been that great at describing rappers, but the dude
had an aggressive, fast style - a style I greatly prefer compared to
the stoned mushmouths that seem to get so much of the shine these days. The
music was often some sort of swirly, spacey electropop backed by heavy
beats...that's probably a terrible description, but it's what my dumb
brain heard. We took in about a half-dozen tracks before moving on,
he gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.
to the Carolina Theatre from there for Gary Numan, but got there early enough to
see some of the "band" before him, Grouper. And by "band" I mean a woman
sitting on the stage, surrounded by electronics, playing music that
sounded exactly like one of those CDs of rain forest noises some folks
use to go to sleep. It was, well...there it was. It was a thing. I was mostly confused, and sleepy.
though, Gary Numan.
I liked being up front at Motorco the night before,
but I think this theatre was a better setting for him. It
certainly was more conducive to his crazy light show; it also didn't
hurt he spent the night playing his classic album "The Pleasure
Principle" in full. We were in the middle of the second deck, and the
sound was much better than the night before, which is probably to be
expected given both the better acoustics and a better location in the
venue. Let it also be stated that no matter how many times you've
heard "Cars," seeing it performed live is one of life's great treats.
The night might have started off comically bad, but this more than made
up for it.
Featuring Mac McCaughan, The Body, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, and Sunn O))
Downtown Durham 5/21/2016
the plus side, today's shows started early; the negative is there was
no way in hell we were lasting until the end of the night. We made our
way to a small spot right next to the Carolina Theatre called the Durham
Arts Council PSI Theatre just before 4 PM to see Mac McCaughan.
I've seen him somewhere in the range of five million times be- tween all
of his projects (Superchunk, Portastatic, solo, etc), but this was the
first time I would witness a performance of this fashion - Mac tweaking a
bank of synths and keyboards, a dude with a clipboard standing behind
him in a judgemental manner, and some modern dancers doing their modern
dance thing. The music was all instrumental and started a little slow,
but I was feeling it for the bulk of the set. Like any other time I've
ever seen anything of this nature, I didn't have a goddamn clue what was
going on, but I suppose it was interesting enough to watch for a little
while. I'm still unclear if the clipboard guy was a part of the
performance, or actually doing something.
We walked over to the Pinhook from there, the first time the festival had led me to my favorite Durham venue. Metal duo the Body
were next up, a band I have wanted to see live for a little while but,
you know, laziness. I'd be lying if I said I was super familiar with
their work, but I'd only heard good things about them from my "metal
friends." A quick scan of the crowd confirmed they were definitely the
act to see this weekend if you had a neck tattoo - my bare throat firmly
placed me in the minority, or so it felt. It wasn't the most dynamic
live performance I've seen, and I couldn't much tell one song from the
next, but I still liked it. I was expecting a more metal sound, but
they were more sludgy and heavy, not that unlike Big Business to be
honest. They actually use guitar versus Jared's bass in Big Business,
but it was an extremely low tuned guitar, perhaps even baritone. I also
found it interesting that the drummer didn't use a real bass drum, but
rather a pedal that seemed to trigger a distorted, electronic bass drum;
which seemed to have some com- plications, and might have led to them
playing such a short set (probably in the range of 20 minutes).
Next up at the Pinhook was Quintron and Miss Pussycat,
yet another band I've meant to see forever but have always put off...I
was really able to knock some things off my "to do list" this night!
There was a pack of really annoy- ing Quintron superfans surrounding me,
but after seeing the duo's performance it was easy to see how someone
could end up like that - they were goddamn amazing, easily one of my
favorite performances of the fest. The show started with a ten minute
puppet show, and really well done one at that - I'm no puppet aficionado
and/or expert, but the puppets seemed be very well made and the short
skit was quite entertaining. After that was the music - I'm not sure a
genre exists in which one could properly file Quintron...so I'm giving
them their own genre called "swamp boogie." Lots of organ and synths, a
smattering of drums and cymbals, and a slide guitar, all of which
Quintron plays at the same time like a demented one man band. Some of
the music was pre-recorded, but he was definitely doing the bulk of the
work. Miss Pussycat offered some flavor in the form of vocals and
percussion (aka them gourd-like shaker things that probably have an
actual name that I don't know), but Quintron is mostly running the
show. Although I didn't really know any of the songs, I was way into it
from start to finish, and you can be sure I'll be purchasing some of
his recordings in the very near future.
ourselves with amazing pizza from Pompieri and a little record shopping
at Carolina Soul, we ended our night at the large stage next to
Motorco. Turns out they were holding a smoke machine
demonstration...also, I think Sunn O))) was performing somewhere behind all that smoke and you could even occasionally see them.On
the one hand, I sorta get the concept of enjoying the music and not
worrying about actually watching the band...on the other hand, if
watching them wasn't important why are they all dressed in their fancy
demonic monk robes? Much like when I saw them at Hopscotch a couple of
years ago, I'm not entirely sure what to say about the live Sunn O)))
experience. They weren't as loud as last time, I'm guessing largely due
to being outdoors. It was just as smoky as last time, but the machines
had to work extra hard - there were probably three on each side of the
stage, plus some blowing be- hind the band. The audience was about
half-ecstatic and half-bewildered at what they were seeing, which I
suspect is the norm for their performances (at least at festivals where
you get a lot randoms just there to see what the fuss is about). I
still don't understand what they are doing or why they are doing it, but
I like it nonetheless...which further confuses me because I'm not even
sure why I like it. Even with earplugs and even with it outdoors, it
was still god- damn loud - the vibrations are what you feel the most.
That was as good a note to end Moogfest on as any...not sure Sunn O)))
is really followable, whether you liked them or not.
But wait, there's more! Moogfest was supposed to be over, but we got word that there would be a sunrise show featuring Weather Warlock and D-Town Brass. Who is Weather Warlock? It's Quintron of Quintron and Miss Pussycat playing
his homemade synthesizer that changes it's sound based on the
weather...sun versus overcast, rain versus shine, windy versus
still...they all result in different sounds apparently due to the synth
being wired to what is basically a weather station. We got up at five
in the morning and drove back over to Durham, because why the hell not?
How often do you get to see a musical performance at sunrise? You can
always take a nap later. We got there right as the show started,
Quintron and his crazy contraption on one side of the patio at Geer
Street Garden, all of D-Town Brass on the other side, and a handful of
bleary-eyed observers scattered around, coffee in hand. To be per- fectly
honest I was prepared for a skronky free-form mess, but this shit was
well organized - clearly some plans had been made beforehand. It
started out intentionally a little lol6ose, and then about a third of
the way into the thirty minute set/single song, the drums kicked in and
it turned into this unbelievably great blend of jazz and krautrock like
I've never heard before. I was mesmerized the entire time, and I really
hope someone got a good audio recording and it sees the light of day in
the near future. I don't think it would be a stretch to say this was
my second favorite performance of the whole event, and what a note to
with Eric Bachmann, Skylar Gudasz, and the Charming Youngsters
Schoolkids Durham & Bull City Records 4/16/2016
wasn't a single record on the list of exclusive "Record Store Day"
releases that I really gave a shit about...It's highly likely the day
has jumped the proverbial shark. I mean, I still went out to a few
stores and bought some records, but nothing "special" to this day.
Despite a lack of interest in the physical component behind the
"holiday," I was totally down for the parties that the various record
stores were having to celebrate all of their extra sales.
started off at Schoolkids in Durham. I hadn't been to the store since
it became Schoolkids - it's a nice spot even if their used selection is a
bit lacking. I was primarily there to see Eric Bachmann,
especially since I missed him the last time he was in town this past
winter...having a new kid leads to a lot of sickness, which then leads
to missed per- formances. He was set up outside the store in the open
patio area, a perfect setting on such a gorgeous day. As you might
expect for a gig happening in the middle of the day in a place as busy
as Brightleaf Square, lots of randoms and families and random families
wandering around, which always leads to kids standing directly in front
of the band totally mesmerized. Basically, a short version of me I
guess. Eric performed with two other musicians plus two female back- up
singers, one of which was local Skylar Gudasz, who would be performing
after him. Outside of a couple of tracks it was all songs from his
latest self-titled solo record, not the first under his own name but the
the first since he officially retired the Crooked Fingers moniker. It
was great from start to finish, and the back-up singers really adding a
great extra dimension you usually don't get with Bachmann's songs (the
very same sentiment is true of that new self-titled record).
After Bachmann, Skylar Gudasz
performed a few songs from her excellent new record "Oleander." My
friend Yan, who has played with everyone from the Rosebuds to Mount
Moriah to Bowerbirds to probably every other band in the Triangle, was
performing with her and it was great to catch up with him. I love her
songs but the real draw is her voice - to say it is heavenly is an
understatement. She reminds me a lot of Karen Carpenter, and I mean
that in the best way possible. I only had time for a few tracks, but I
left certain I would be seeing her perform again in the near future.
cruised across town to Bull City Records to briefly partake in their
Record Store Day festivities as well. Aside from buying more records,
as one does, I was there to see a little bit from the Charming Youngsters
- or rather, half of the Charming Youngsters, thy rhythm section were
clearly otherwise engaged. It had been a little bit since the last time
I saw them play, but their ramshackle pop songs sounded as good as
ever. Unlike at Schoolkids, they were play- ing in the store, and it made
for nice accompaniment while I dug around in the vinyl, or at least the
vinyl I could get to as there were quite a few people piled into the
tiny store. It was a day well spent, and money well spent too.
Lydia Loveless - Head. Saw her at Hopscotch last year and was impressed, which led to getting her record "Some- where
Else" - possibly my favorite record of the first half of the year, and
I don't even care if it's a couple of years old. Really Wanna See You Again Wine Lips