|Scuzz Master plays live in Dimension X|
Thursday, November 20, 2014
III: And Then I Was a Mutant
Help me, I'm lost in a pseudomorphic scare fog. Spoopy makes music that passes from the crop to the gizzard of the brain stem. But, sometimes brains don't emit the right digestive enzymes needed to munch on Spoopy. Or your friends, which Spoopy eats and digests just fine.
This is Spoopy's third album. Somehow I missed the second one. Born of a shady collaboration between Yoko Molotov of Sweatermeat and Niles Kane of Awkwardnauts, Spoopy has changed. I wouldn't say grown artistically, but actually, I guess, just more fucked up. While the first Spoopy record combined ghosts with the lo-fi noise that can be synonymous with some of Eviction Records output, this record just gets a bit ghastlier. I mean, Caspar the Ghost is cute. Herein lies some more harrowing, noisier shit.
Tracks like "Can't Go to School Today" and "I Ate My Friends" are like foggy whispers on undercooked ludes. There's noise in them whispers, but like bones growing, those whispers burst through skin and get right down scary and churning. It all sounds like a Mouth from Hell opened under a secret Satanic church hidden on a ranch on a road where a goat man might live. I mean, I listen to this and wonder: what the fuck are they doing? Is anyone getting hurt while they're doing it?
"I Don't Want to Be a Monster" serves as a protectant against falling into some sort of grind of hushed normalcy in your life. It's an epic tour of flying tones, screeches, distant screams. Absolute Spoopy corrupts absolutely. The cow prod in the pudding is proven with this release: louder and scarier than ever. Yoko and Niles voices bleed in and out of the mix, all sounding like they were recorded backwards and several rooms over in a dungeon. I hope they're OK and safe.
I saw Spoopy IV was released this week, so I guess so.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Britt Walford (Slint, The Breeders, Watter) is apparently playing drums with Kim Deal (Pixies, The Breeders) again. Deal has been releasing solo 7" records sporadically all year, and her latest features her song newest track "Biker Gone." A music video was created for the song, and was actually directed by Lance Bangs, the guy who directed the Slint documentary Breadcrumb Trail. The video shows Deal, Walford, and Kim's sister Kelley playing at a biker funeral. Check it out:
This 7" is out now; buy it here.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
|Pictured Above: Mick Sullivan plays banjo for Squeeze-bot at Nachbar|
Over the years, Mick Sullivan has spent time playing in noteworthy rootsy bands like Fire The Saddle, Squeeze-bot, and most recently Tamerlane Trio. His newest band has a much more traditional approach, more so than we've ever heard from Mick. Tamerlane Trio also features Rob Collier (Fire The Saddle) and Amber Estes Thieneman (Sandpaper Dolls), and they just released their debut Be It Ever So Humble a few weeks ago. We really like it (we reviewed it!), and chances are you will too. Check out their song "Hard Times" below:
A few days ago, Mick was kind enough to answer a few questions about the bands he's been in, some of the instruments he's been playing and more.
Never Nervous: Tell us about your latest endeavor Tamerlane Trio. Is there a cool story behind why you all do what you do?
Mick Sullivan: The coolest. I work in programming and education at the Frazier History Museum and three years ago, one of my co-workers, approached me about providing music for stage interpretations of Edgar Allan Poe’s writings. I did some digging and was encouraged by the number of songwriters with whom Poe had a relationship, or those who were inspired by his writing or were, at the least, contemporary. The first year we stuck to this, with the addition of an old English murder ballad and an original musical setting of one of Poe’s poems. It went over very well. Since then we’ve expanded to include a few traditional tunes that were traced to him regionally, as well. People dig it.
Now, Rob Collier, Amber Estes and I are not traditionalists. The idea of treating these old songs the way they would’ve been in 1850 is the most unappetizing thought in the world to us. But the fact is, there is nearly an unlimited supply of fantastic songs that have been around for centuries. With a modern lens, to today’s ears, they might sound fresh and new. If not, well, we fell in love with them and enjoyed sharing versions, anyway. Recently we decided to make the band a year round project – and we’re working on original material at the moment too.
NN: Tamerlane Trio released Be It Ever So Humble a little while ago online as a digital download. Will there be a physical release of any kind, or will it be an online-only release?
MS: It was actually released physically in conjunction with this year’s “An Evening with Poe,” which ran from Oct. 23rd – Nov 4th. We nearly sold out of the physical copies during the run, so more are on the way. They will be for sale at a few locations soon (likely Underground Sounds, Astro Black, Guestroom). It was a total DIY packaging job, of which we are really proud. The photo on the front is un-doctored and Amber found it in her grandma’s photo album. So we’ll have to assemble them when the discs arrive.
NN: Are there plans to promote the release? Are more shows on the horizon, or even a tour?
MS: We will play a release show, but Rob’s other band Slow Down Johnny is getting ready for their CD release (it’s great), so we’re letting him focus on that. So this winter, yes, we will. We’ve got a show lined up in early December, as well as plans to perform with Big Mama Thorazine (Squeeze-bot band-mates Todd and Meg, along with Suki Anderson).
Tamerlane Trio really needs a quiet room. So that limits our options. I’d like to find some galleries and museums to perform in, out of town. The historical context of the music really lends itself to that setting. Plus people typically listen at those places.
NN: In different bands, I've seen you play both guitar and banjo. How do you approach those instruments individually, and do you prefer playing one over the other?
MS: I’m playing mandolin now too! They all work together, for me. When I’m learning a new song, I try to get it going on each instrument. Each one might unlock some new facet of a song to apply to another instrument, or I just may like the way a song sounds on one or the other. I’m sure it’s wildly inefficient, and it means that I have to carry more stuff to a gig - but it’s still less than a drummer.
I don’t prefer one over the other - banjo is obviously the sound for Squeeze-bot, and I love the focus. Just the same, I love the relative freedom of Tamerlane Trio.
NN: What's new with your other band Squeeze-bot? Any interesting plans on the horizon?
MS: We are working on some new material and getting ready for some upcoming shows. During the winter months we play every First Friday Trolley Hop Night at Haymarket Whiskey Bar. We’ve also got our annual Christmas Show at the Nachbar coming up on December 27th. This week we’re playing for the kids at Lincoln Elementary during their lunch period. We did it last year. It’s the best gig in town.
Also, it looks like we’re going to bring back Squeeze-bot Prom in 2015. We did this twice, 4 or 5 years back. People have been asking, and we think we’ve found a great venue for it.
NN: Speaking of Squeeze-bot, how did you guys come to be, and how many lineup changes have you seen over the years?
MS: The band existed before I joined. Todd Hildreth’s accordion was supported by guitar, bass and drums. One night the guitar player couldn’t make the gig and Todd asked me to sub. I agreed, but on the condition that I play banjo. He hesitated and said “bring your banjo and guitar, both.” I did, but the guitar never came out of the case. Banjo worked really well, so I became a permanent part of the band. Todd always told the bass player at the time that we really wanted a tuba player, so if we found one, he was out. I actually met our first tuba player (Brandon Johnson) through Craigslist. I invited him over to my house and we jammed. A few weeks later he was in Squeeze-bot. When the original drummer, Jason Tiemann, got too busy with touring and teaching at UofL, he recommended Meg Samples for the spot. I loose track of how long ago that was - this band’s getting close to a decade of music. Mat Murphy stepped in to the Tuba role a few years ago when Brandon moved to California. We’ve been with this lineup for the last two Nachbar summers, which is how we measure time in the band.
NN: How does Squeeze-bot decide what songs to reinvent? Is it a random selection process, or is there a method to it?
MS: It’s hard to say. The only rule is that if a song would be played, stereotypically, by any of our instruments, we won’t do it. No Polka songs, no bluegrass songs, etc. Some of our repertoire happens organically - It’s really just a matter of what catches our ear, and what could work with our strange instrumentation. We have a pretty full stable of jazz standards, which we all love. Todd will often arrange pop tunes and bring the arrangement to us. I do that too, occasionally. But the best ones come out of a need for something. When we did Abbey Road on the River, we needed Beatles songs, so we worked most of them up as a group and defined the arrangements. Our version of “Come Together” is one of my favorites, and we all worked together on it.
I’ve got ideas for new ones – there’s a Leo Kottke tune that I need to work on, and also a Blur song that would be cool. Recently we’ve been working on Todd’s arrangements of The Immigrant Song, (Coltrane’s) Moment’s Notice and a Chopin waltz.
NN: What is your favorite place in Louisville to drink beer?
MS: Nachbar is close to my house and James and Heather have been incredibly kind and supportive to me, and many other musicians, on top of having great beer. I also ALWAYS see someone I know, which is great.
NN: Talk about a few current bands in Louisville that you've been diggin' on lately.
MS: Amber’s group Sandpaper Dolls, which sadly aren’t really creating now, were one of my favorites. The idea was such a huge risk and depended so greatly on the audience; I admired them greatly for walking that high-wire. The music kept me on the edge of my seat – seriously.
Active performers – I’ve seen Lacey Guthrie do her thing several times and in different incarnations. Her talent is obvious. Slow Down Johnny is a group of killer musicians doing awesome stuff. I’m looking forward to Scott Moore’s new band Niles Foley, who debut soon. He’s an amazing musician.
NN: Of the four Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson) which is your personal favorite?
MS: Tough one. I admire all of them (particularly Kristofferson’s intelligence – Best of All Possible Worlds is one of my favorite songs). Willie Nelson is most certainly my favorite, though. Thanks to my dad, I had his repertoire memorized by the age of 8. He’s everything I love about music rolled into one awesome dude. He’s got Hank Williams, Django Reinhardt, Louis Armstrong and Bob Wills all deep in his heart. Stardust, his album of jazz standards, is incredibly important to me, Red Headed Stranger speaks for itself, and his work on Teatro with Daniel Lanois and Emmylou points to his continued creativity and openness.
NN: Lastly, talk about a few of your favorite records of 2014.
MS: I’m typically looking backwards for recordings. There is so much great stuff I still have to discover. So admittedly, most of my listening is extant music. That being said, Bill Frisell and Chris Thile both released recordings this year. I always pay attention to what they are doing. Also Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn released a duo record, which I had been looking forward to for quite some time.
I’ve also really enjoyed Daniel Lanois' new Flesh and Machine record and Mark Orton’s soundtrack for the movie Nebraska.
|Pictured above: Look at these rascals and their untamed 20-something sexuality before they basically play Guitar Hero.|
Clearly the best part was spending time with friends. We hung out, listened to music, and had some good drinks. After catching a ride to the show -lucky considering how damned cold it got so fast- we realized we were not the only people with free tickets. Did I mention we had free tickets? Because I'll be damned if that isn't a motivator to get out too, although if I'd had my pick of the evenings activities, I likely would have been here. But I didn't, so I was out watching some 20-somethings literally rehash old music, and only the radio hits at that.
Let's be clear here: it took me a long time to appreciate Zeppelin on any level. There was a time when the name John Bonham was invoked to disparage any flashy playing, like he was the antithesis to jazz or prog stylings and that was something we should all aspire to. Since I fit into the later category as a musician prone to weirdo stuff, I was out. True, I've always been impressed with John Paul Jones, the only real highlight of the band, but that was before I'd heard tracks like In My Time of Dying or Achilles Last Stand. Hell, I'd even take Going to California or The Rain Song too, if only that I appreciate the delicacy of some of that branch of their material. Those last two songs are both beautiful, regardless of who made them.
For the most part though, Zeppelin is many things I could otherwise give a hot shit about. Beyond even the reason linked above, I'm not interested in what Jimmy Page is selling. Fuck you and your awesome solos. I don't mind something tasteful, but you can cut that masturbatory soloing nonsense right out. I'll take some muscular riffs and interesting lead lines in my rock music, or at least just some nice textures. And Robert Plant is kind of a non-starter for me, if only that vocals are seldom the thing I gravitate towards. Still, he is to hair metal what Eddie Vedder is to Butt Rock, which is not meant as high praise. I guess I'm bad at rock and roll, or rather that it's been a long time since I've done such.
They opened with Nobody's Fault But Mine, which I was informed was the song that caused them to never want to play here again. Apparently the last time Zeppelin (the real deal) played here in Louisville, they were playing this at Freedom Hall, or so I'm told. And as that story went, someone was less than enthused about it and threw a bottle that landed on Robert Plant's face. If you want someone the fuck off the stage, that'll do the trick. Just ask Nickelback. So maybe it was a sly nod to that, and someone did their homework. Or maybe they just got lucky, since their only homework seems to have been generated by Musician's Friend.
I didn't get much of anything that I wanted out of this show, other than the aforementioned hang time with homies. I felt mildly satisfied to see the shadow of a band that I wouldn't pay to see, but who apparently also won't be paid to reform anyways. It's become increasingly important to me that I regulate my money whenever possible to not supporting someone who has done something unquestionably heinous like this guy or this guy, and like I mentioned above, at least one person in Zeppelin seems to meet that criteria. I suppose I should be able to separate the art from the artist, but when that artist is empowered by the money he has made from my patronage, I feel like I'm becoming part of the problem. So in this sense, the show was a flaccid victory.
The venue was serviceable, if over priced. Eight dollars is an unacceptable price for a beer. I'm sure there is some statistic out there that supports my position that more reasonably priced items (drinks included) are likely to make more, in that people will be able to purchase more. Or maybe I'm wrong about that, because I'm not an economist, but I'd like to think I have at least a minimum of common sense. This is relative to my last show review column, in that I am still offended at what passes for an "import." If your "craft beer" was brewed by the megaton at one of the big three, I don't care what label you stick on it, it's horseshit to pretend like it's rare and try and get me to pay for it, which I clearly did anyways, because beer. And now I'm sad.
Sadder still was the poor girl who thought she could bribe me with kindness out of a free beer. My picked on inner eighth grader says no to that, but thanks for trying to be cute. I'm not going to fault you your attempt, as I would gladly show a smile or some hot ankle action (or whatever) to get some sucker to give me a free drink, but I'm not interested and even if I wasn't happily married with a beautiful daughter I still would have to bounce on that deal. Eight dollars is a lot of beer for a smile, you know. I guess I'll give you an A for effort though, for whatever that counts. On to the next one then.
There wasn't much to dislike per se, although this was not my scene. Zeppelin 2 played the radio hits top to bottom with little in the way of surprises. Their version of Zeppelin is suspended in their earliest incarnation, frozen in amber at the edge of some whack psychedelia, as if hearing fuzz distortion and a bow should blow my mind. Dude 420 tie dye forever or some shit. Their Zeppelin "write" garbage songs like "Whole Lotta Love," which seems like a riff that Jimmy Page just stole and then forgot to keep writing. That psychedelic bridge in the middle just sounds like lazy composition to me, in that the structure of the song is Part A, Make Shit Up, Part A again, with nothing to really connect the parts together except that they all occur in the same track. This is the Zeppelin we saw Saturday, that middling radio friendly nonsense that took no real risks, which I suppose is exactly what a cover band performing for a crowd of 40 somethings with expensive beer ought to be doing to get the Cougars riled.
Monday, November 17, 2014
MOVIE MONDAYS: Daisy Caplan Doesn't Give a Shit About Non-Batman Related Movies, Loves Sassy Witches from the 90's, and Would Score the Hell out of a Horror Movie!
|Pictured Above: Daisy takes out his Sars-related anxiety on the drums.|
Never Nervous: How often do you get to the movies? If not often, why?
Daisy Caplan: Literally almost never. I don't think I've seen a single non-Batman movie in a theatre since the mid-2000's, when I used to see random shit at Baxter more regularly when I lived in the Highlands. Mostly economic reasons - movies are expensive, I'm not rich, they're on the internet for free, etc. Also (and I don't really like to talk about this because people always think you're judging them or whatever) I'd generally rather spend my entertainment dollars elsewhere, like at a show or restaurant or something. Movie theaters (unless they're awesome like Baxter Avenue or Village 8 or Esquire or something) and giant movie production companies I just don't feel great giving money to. I'm not above it, though; I'll take it for free when I can get it, such as theaters with easily-openable exit doors and/or friends working the ticket booth.
Lastly, and most importantly - I just don't really like movies in general. Never really have. Every once in a while there's one I like, but I really only like the parts with explosions. I'm not very visually complex, nor do I do well sitting still and paying attention for two hours.
NN: What is your favorite Thanksgiving or at least food related movie? Why?
DC: I'm not aware of any Thanksgiving or food-oriented films. I just googled the term "food related movie" and a film called Ratatouille came up, which appears to be a cartoon about killing mice and baking them into pies. Do you mean like the Food Network? Or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? Because all that shit is stupid.
NN: What is your top movie about sassy witches from the 90’s that you watch while making buttons? What do you find compelling about that plot?
DC: That would be The Craft, and literally nothing is compelling about the plot, except that it's ridiculous, semi-ignorable, and occasionally hilarious. You could be talking about Hocus Pocus too, though.
NN: If you were to score a movie, what sort would it be, and how would you do it?
DC: I feel like a horror movie would be the most fun, because there are a lot more cool musical ways to be creepy than there are for any other film application I can think of (geting-your-act-together-montage song, minor key part after a sad thing happens). If you think about it, there's a lot of variety in horror movie soundtracks, especially between different eras.
I guess I would just ask the people making the movie what kind of music they wanted, and then try to write it and ask for feedback. If they hated it, I'd try something else, or tell them to fuck off and find somebody else. Probably not that, though. I'd probably just keep doing it until they didn't hate it.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
A few days ago, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy premiered a music video featuring his song "New Black Rich (Tusks)," and it's interesting to say the least. The video shows Will Oldham sporting a huge beard and (what appears to be) walrus tusks. It's unusual, but I love when this guy shows off some of his unconventional dance moves, or maybe it's meant to be some sort of artsy interpretive movement? Either way, the video is awesome, as is the song which is featured on his latest record called Singer's Grave A Sea Of Tongues. Buy it via Drag City by clicking here.