Some people say the greatest day in the history of this country was the signing of the Declaration fo Independence; others might pick Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, or possibly the end of WWII. Clearly the only correct answer is whatever day this group of luminaries got together to take this picture.
I only recently got around to watching the vigilante film Ms. 45, and I loved it. And if you follow the link in the name it takes you to the full thing on youtube. Definitely recommended.
A drone video of Hang Son Doong Cave, the largest cave in the world. Kinda crazy that this was only "discovered" somewhat recently. Wes Kremer won 2014 skater of the year, and this was the video of the ensuing trip that Thrasher always sends the winner on. Any video that features this much Wes Kremer is a keeper. One entry in the photo
journal section this month from that time it snowed and I stood outside in the cold like a rube taking photos of a bunch of dumb birds.
My music reviews were sparse as usual but I did like three records this past month - Tweedy, the Terry Malts EP and one of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's dozens of recent releases.
that time of the year, the time when touring acts on their way either
to or from SXSW make a stop in the Triangle to entertain our country
bumpkin ears. First up on this evening was Ultimate Painting
from the UK...I'd heard of these cats for a little while, and they
released a record on the great Trouble in Mind, but this was my first
time actually hear- ing them. The verdict on this four-piece of fancy
British lads: a damn fine pop band. The biggest, most immediate
influence you hear is the Velvet Underground, especially in the first
and last songs of their sets, which were long, stretched out rockers in
the vein of VU's "Sister Ray." I also heard dabs of the Zombies, early
Teenage Fanclub, and even the Clientele. The sound was very clean,
driven mostly by the hollowbody guitar one of the guitarists played, and
I was way into it.
All of that was a bonus - I was actually at the gig to see one of the newest Merge signees, Twerps,
out of Australia. They also play pretty straight-forward pop music,
sounding more like the Kiwi pop of the eighties (the Clean, the Bats,
the 3Ds, etc) and occasionally a little bit like Yo La Tengo. With both
male and female lead vocals, the set can take on different vibes from
song to song, but I dig what both singers are offering. I felt like the
dude singer occasionally sounded like Ben Lee, but I'm not sure if he
actually sounded like him or my brain was just making the link because
both are Australian. The room was decently full (though not packed) for
their set, and it seemed pretty well received. I know I was into it -
hopefully their being on Merge means they come back and play often, or
at least as often as a band from the other side of the world can.
hadn't been all that excited for a show in a few weeks, so of course
when two good gigs finally rolled around both were on the same night. I
bypassed two of my very favorite locals that I've seen a million times,
Whatever Brains and Pipe, in lieu of checking out a couple of bands I'd
never seen before. It also didn't hurt that this show was in Raleigh
and the other in Chapel Hill...my code of laziness is the one I take the
I was there mainly to see opener Lace Curtains.
The singer is from the excellent Austin band Harlem, which is the whole
reason I knew of them in the first place. Harlem ruled, for the
record. The first Lace Curtain's record "The Garden of Joy and the Well
of Loneliness" was really damn good and even though I hadn't heard
their more recent output, I was sure the show was going to be a keeper.
They started their set off with a couple of songs from that older
record before getting on to newer tracks, so that made me quite happy.
The six-piece band was pretty damn tight, which made for a nice
juxtaposition with the singer who was a bit sloppy off of too much wine,
but in an endear- ing & entertaining sort of way. They're a tough
band to describe musically, sort of an indie-soul-pop with occasional
garage rock tendencies...like a mellower/less schticky Make-Up perhaps.
It was a grand time and I was already pleased with my decision to
attend this gig.
I knew nothing of the next act, Outer Spaces,
but decided to stick around for a couple of songs to see what they were
all about. Good decision by me - I ended up watching the entire set
and loving every second of it! The trio hails from Baltimore, a couple
of dudes manning the drums and keys and a gal with an amazingly
beautiful voice in charge of guitar and vocals. They reminded me a lot
of our very own Mount Moriah, though a little less twangy; perhaps
another comparison would be Young People, a criminally underrated band
in my opinion. I rushed right over to the merch after their set to buy
their record, and will be making every effort to see them again if they
come back to town.
"Slutcicle Orange Lipstick from Kesha's Morning After Collection, available exclusively at Hess gas stations." Just a set of tracks that I've been feeling lately. Too lazy to explain each song, but every one is A+.
David Gravette put out a new part, a little heavy on the fifty-fifties like always, but I've always enjoyed his skating.
Kurt Braunohler put out a web series called Roustabout where he rides a jet ski down the Mississippi to raise money for charity. It's quite entertaining, and you can watch the whole thing starting here.
Again just one entry in the photo
journal section this month, and again it's some band photos - Ex Hex, Thee Oh Sees, Sloan, and more.
with Spider Bags, Lonnie Walker, and Mac McCaughan
Lincoln Theatre 2/7/2015
year WKNC puts together a couple of shows full of great local talent
that help raise funds for the NC State radio station. This year they
were holding one here in Raleigh (this one), and another over at the
Cradle in Carrboro a week later, giving at least two-thirds of the
Triangle access to a great event. Sorry Durham, you gotta drive.
My most anticipated act of the night's bill was Mac McCaughan (of Superchunk)
playing solo. Of course, as is my way I got there way too late and
only caught hi;s last three songs...what's worse is I was late because I
got sucked into watching an episode of "Cops"...seriously. Sometimes
I'm stupid on a level others can't touch. Anyways, I walked in to Mac
saying "I wrote this song when 'Powerslave' was still on the charts" and
then he banged out the great "Tie a Rope to the Back of the Bus." That
one and the next track "Skip Steps One & Three" were both probably
older than 3/4ths of the audience. He closed the night with the
Portastatic song "Noisy Night" - I suppose if you're going to be stupid
enough to arrive late, at least the three songs I did get were good
I suspect most of the crowd was here for Lonnie Walker,
though I didn't conduct a survey or anything - just the vibe I got. It
was my first time seeing them with the new line-up aka my friend Mike
(formerly of the Annuals) now playing bass for them. I'm not entirely
sure how long this has been going on - I do vaguely recall Mike
mentioning it in the past but that could have been six months or two
years ago with the way my memory works. They haven't lost a beat with
his addition and are still a fantastic live act, even if they are still
playing (mostly) the same songs they have been play- ing for the past half
decade. Don't get me wrong, those are some good songs, but I think
we're all ready for a new record! There were a couple of songs I didn't
know that I assume are new tracks, and they sounded great, so hopefully
something new is on the horizon.
The final band was Spider Bags,
which makes sense because you can't possibly expect anyone else to
follow their live performances. The club turned every red light in the
house on, making the stage look like Kramer's apartment when they opened
that Kenny Rogers Roasters. The band then scorched through a huge
swath of their set, and I was happy to see so many of the young kids
stick around for what is the best (or at least second best after
Whatever Brains) live band in the area. I often have a lack of words
for them, because how much can be said about a straight- forward rock and
roll band like this? It must be witnessed and felt, not just read
about. Que viva Spider Bags.
"I mean, does my scar look like a dog's vagina? You know, maybe. I don't
know. I'm not gonna sit here and try and get inside the mind of a dog. I
mean, that's God's work. Well, not that I believe in God. I don't. Not
since that Chinaman stole my kidney."
Cate Le Bon - Are You with Me Now. Both of these tracks are from her 2013 album "Mug Museum," though I came to each of them seperately from different places online. Now I need to get the whole damn record and see if they measure up to these tracks. Bonus: I Think I Knew (feat. Perfume Genius)
Holograms - ABC City. I came to this band from a skate part, a rarity these days but a staple of my childhood. Cold Joy Division-esque punk from Sweden that I can't get enough of lately. Bonus: Monolith Bonus: Orpheo
I got a really old roll of film developed recently...they were taken with one of those shitty toy fisheye cameras during our drive across the country when moving from California to North Carolina. The photos are pretty terrible, but are still interesting to me, a reminder of an awesome road trip once upon a time.
There was no absolute favorite film or even couple of films this year for me; additionally, I've only seen a few of the Oscar crowd, since they dump them all at once at the end of the year. So this is what I've got... The top 8 films of 2014 (in alphabetical order): Birdman Blue Ruin The Grand Budapest Hotel Guardians of the Galaxy Jodorowsky's Dune Only Lovers Left Alive The Raid 2 The Wind Rises The top 8 honorable mentions of 2014 (in alphabetical order): Captain America: The Winter Soldier Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Finding Vivian Maier Fury The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden Gone Girl The Lego Movie The Unknown Known
And here are five films from other years that really bent my whistle: Battle Wizard (1977) The Hunt (2013) Short Term 12 (2013) Tim's Vermeer (2013) The Yellow Sea (2010)
Lots of great skate videos to be watched... - Brandon Westgate "Zoo England." Any Westgate part is a must watch...the ender is one of the most insane things I've ever seen. It makes literally no sense. - Mike Carroll "Lost B-Sides." Random collected Carroll clips...it's entirely possible I've posted this before, but you can't watch too much of him. - Koichiro Uehara "Osaka Nights." This guy combines the inventive goofiness of other Japanese skateboarders with speed and finesse. Highly approved, instantly a favorite new guy*. * I'm so out of the loop a new guy to me can be around for a while before I "discover" them. - Michael Mackrodt "Fishing Line Paris." I only knew this guy from some pretty basic (but enjoyable) footage from
various skate travelog docs (think Europe's version of Kenny
Reed), but the dude is rad. Lots of rugged but really interesting spots.
One entry in the photo
journal this month, some band snaps (The Clean, Boogarins, and Spider Bags).
A few music reviews - FKA Twigs, Jeff the Brotherhood, Morrissey, and a couple of others.
To be perfectly honest, I was mainly at this show for openers Whatever Brains.
Sure, I've seen them probably two dozen times at least, but any chance I
get to soak in their insanity I try my best to jump on it. And luckily
I jumped on this one early, because this show sold out a while ago.
What can I say about a WB show that I haven't said so many times
before? It was awesome, as always. There was multiple uses of whistles
from multiple band members. LOTS of roto tom drum action. Even
though they just had a release party a couple of months ago for their
new record, they've already released a cd-r of nearly 80 minutes of new
material - from a sheer quantity standpoint, they're turning into the
Guided by Voices of noisy punk or whatever the hell category you might
try to put them in (they don't seem to fit any- where, so you probably
I had gotten the value of my ticket
from that performance, so anything else good from tonight was gravy. I
knew abso- lutely nothing about Priests
other than a couple of friends had spoken highly of them, so I was
going in completely blind. This is my very rudimentary take on the band
- a four piece from DC; all women except for the guitar player; music
is bass heavy, almost verging on funky, but still more-or-less punk;
guitar was as likely to be adding texture and noise to the songs as
playing chords or rhythm; the singer was very engaging, partially for
her performance (lots of stalking around the stage and dramatic flair),
and partially for her outfit (tight dress that you'd expect to see at a
night- club rather than on a stage, plus giant stiletto heels). If I had
to make a comparison, I'd go with Sonic Youth meets the Slits, but would
to hear some of their recordings to further flesh out this vibe I got.
I quite enjoyed their set, and would definitely see them again.
Luckily, they seem to play down here fairly often.
The headliners were Parquet Courts,
but I was already waning to be honest. I don't have the youthful
exuberance that most of the crowd seemed to have, but I stuck out at
least half of their set. They're one of those bands that I enjoy when I
randomly hear them, but I never actively seek their material out.
Their records are pretty straight forward garage pop, or at least what
I've heard, but their live show had an injection of, I don't know,
Pavement-style slack or something of that nature. I think I actually
enjoyed the live renditions more than their recordings to be honest,
there was an extra bit of life to them. I'd see these guys again,
though probably not after standing around at the club for three hours.
The slow down in live music attendance on my part in the winter really
takes the life out of my show legs!
Almost two months after seeing them for the first time, here I was at Kings to watch Ex Hex
again. The first time I saw them was so great, it wasn't particularly
hard to talk myself into making the effort to show up at Kings. Since
they only have one album, the set list this time was pretty damn similar
to what I saw at the Pinhook, the band as tight as ever while
performing their upbeat, snarling garage-ish pop. The only real
difference was the cover songs - last time we only got the Kids' "All
Kindsa Girls," while this time not only did we get that gem, but also
Johnny Thunders' "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory" and Sweet's
"Fox on the Run." The last one especially got me (and clearly much of
the crowd) excited. It was a great time, and if they come back in
another two months chances are I'll be there again.
As great as Ex Hex was, I was possibly more excited for openers Birds of Avalon.
Despite being local (so local a couple of the band members are actually
part-owners of Kings), they don't play a ton - but every time I see
them, I love them more than the previous gig. They were playing with
the drummer of Valient Thorr as a fill-in, but the band sounded as
stellar as ever. Where you might have once made classic rock references
to their performances, these days they are fully ensconced in the
Can/Neu! bubble of sound. Most of what they played this night was from
their new EP out on Third Uncle records, and I highly recommend it to
anyone who likes their ears full of goodness.
Frank Black Both from the album "Teenager of the Year." I listened to this one obsessively on cassette driving around in my 1987 Mazda 323 all through highschool. The production is a little wonky but it still stands up. Headache Thalassocracy
from the compilation "Incesticide." It's kinda easy to overlook
or be turned off on listening to these guys because so much smoke gets blown up their ass, but at the end of the day they still wrote some great damn songs (or in the case of "Son of a Gun," have great taste in covers). Aneurysm Downer Sliver Son of a Gun (Vaselines cover)
I've never been a super fan of Thee Oh Sees,
and haven't even seen them live since I lived in the Bay Area from
where the band once hailed, but for some reason I got all excited for
this show. Sometimes you just need a little rau- cous garage punk in your
life, ya know? I got to Kings just as Thee Oh Sees were setting up,
creating these matching towers of amps combined with PA speakers and
pedals and god knows what else - they were at least eight feet tall and
looked super sketchy. Dwyer was apparently touring with an all new
band, though I couldn't tell you why - I know he somewhat recently moved
to LA, so maybe these were just a couple of local SoCal dudes who
learned a few of the band's songs and were game to drive around the
country. They certainly performed at an adequate enough level for my
tastes, though I did hear a couple of people commenting on how the group
was "different," with no indication if that was a good or bad thing and
what exactly the differences were. Certainly the pack of kids moshing
and sloshing beer all around me didn't seem to mind who was on stage
with Dwyer, so why should I?
last time I saw Sloan was probably in the neighborhood of 1997 - I took
a girl I had a crush on to see Superdrag in Winston-Salem, and Sloan
was the opener. I never got anywhere with the girl, but the show was
rad and I still think of it often. I'm not sure why it took so long to
make it to another Sloan show again, god knows I've listened to plenty
of their recordings in that span of time - but the nice intimate setting
of the Cat's Cradle Back Room seemed like a gig not to pass up. Of
course this was also helped by Guided by Voices cancelling their show
that was scheduled this same night in the main room of the Cradle - I
already had a ticket to that, but this made for a pretty great back-up
There was no opener and Sloan played two sets. In
the first, they mimicked their most recent album "Commonwealth" and each
of the four main band members (there was an extra fifth member for the
live show playing keys and adding backing vocals, and fuck him cause he
don't get his own set of songs goddammit) performed a mini-set of three
or four songs where each was the front man. Yes, there was instrument
swapping involved, but don't hold that against them. The songs in this
set were largely from that new record, though not exclusively. What
followed was a fifteen or twenty minute intermission aka "scheduled time
to look at your phone," and then there was a second longer set where
the band played whatever the hell they wanted to in whatever order they
wanted to. I knew some of the songs, didn't know others, but it was
always fun regardless. I would put the average age of the crowd at
somewhere around 37 - lots of babysitters were getting paid tonight -
and I wasn't alone in enjoying some quality Canadian pop music this
Saturday night. Probably a little too much overly earnest singing along
and at least one girl acting out the lyrics with her hands, but the
night was clearly a success regardless.
This was the sixth anniversary party for the Pinhook, and the room was packed. I got in the door just before Speedy Ortiz
started their set, and weaseled my way to the front as I usually do.
The first time I saw these guys and gal was at this same venue, it was a
damn enjoyable show and this time was no different. Singer Sadie
Dupuis wasn't just killing it on guitar this time, she was wearing this
crazy brightly-colored dress with a dog print all over it that had me
mesmer- ized for the entire set. That combined with the new guitarist's
epic afro made the group visually interesting even if you didn't like
their music. Luckily, their off-kilter indie pop that is clearly
inspired by classic icons like Polvo and Sonic Youth sounds good to
these ears, so sign me up for the total package - they're a keeper.
While I had actually only heard a song or two by Ex Hex,
I had absolutely no doubt coming into this show that I would love it.
The legendary Mary Timony and friends playing punky power pop - what's
not to like? What I didn't know was how fun they would be to watch live
- for a band with only one record under their belt ("Rips," released
this year on Merge), they seem incredibly comfortable together on
stage. The entire band is all smiles and rock poses and I just can't
imagine anyone seeing Ex Hex perform and not being totally delighted.
They powered through probably every song they had over the span of 45
minutes max, and then closed out their night with an encore of the Real
Kids song "All Kindsa Girls." They recently released a recording of
this cover as part of Merge's subscription seven inch series, dig it up
if you can - a nice take on a perfect song. It was a grand ending to a
quality night of tunes.
really should have written this before my phone died (or rather, went
for a swim) and I lost all my notes. Yes, even for these half-assed
reviews I write, I take notes. My memory is shit.
are a band from Brazil according to the internets, but I didn't verify
that directly with the band, and they spoke English to the crowd. To
quote myself from the photo I posted on Instagram: "Very impressive.
Swirly guitar pop crossed with heavy jams, like if Ty Segall joined the
Cocteau Twins." Can't really argue with my astute assessment since I'm
the one that made it. I really need to listen to their record though,
because I did quite enjoy their live performance.
I've seen the Clean
a few times and David Kilgour solo a few more times on top of that
(including just this past July at Merge 25), so I can't really say there
was anything new or exciting about this performance by the band. It
was still really, really, really damn enjoyable though, as their gigs
always are. You know what I never get tired of? Hearing "Tally Ho"
live. No offense to the rest of their songs, which are quite good, but
their live set could just be them playing "Tally Ho" ten times in a row
and I would be a happy man. Anyways, they were awesome as usual, and
the crowd full of old people (that I felt right at home in) seemed to
"One time I accidentally drank an entire bottle of vinegar. I thought it
was terrible wine. Once I went out with a guy who wore 3-D glasses the
entire evening. Oh, one time I rode in a sidecar on a guy's motorcycle,
and the sidecar detached and went down a flight of stairs. Another time I
went to a really boring movie with a guy and while I was asleep he
tried to pull out one of my teeth. I literally woke up with his hand in
my mouth. We went out a couple times after that but then he got weird."
The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up - Double Negative. Reminds me so much of my years in San Francisco when I saw JYPU a number of times. This album "Homemade Drugs" was one of the first I had on an MP3 player, and it got listened to a ton. Bonus: Middle Harbor Road
The Starlight Mints - Brass Digger. Catchy-as-hell band from Oklahoma City...their first record "The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of" was nearly a perfect pop album. Bonus: Pages