Archive for the ‘Oh Shit!’ Category

Joanna Newsom is back!!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Joanna Newsom news has been scarce ever since her 2007 EP release; she played a couple isolated shows last year but nothing else. She has no real website and no Myspace page. I’ve been stalking her ever since Ys came out, and have been vaguely worried that she got bored with music or something like that. But there’s great news: she debuted about two hours of new music (!) this past weekend, some of which saw her play piano instead of harp.

It’s always an interesting moment when one of your favorite artists takes to the stage to showcase their next evolution of musical progress. However, from the first pluck of her harp through the last note the performance was nothing short of rapturous. The makeup of her new songs combines the strong melodic presence of songs on the Milk-Eyed Mender with her continued instrumentational prowess and maturation beyond Y’s. It was unclear how many of the songs covered in the course of the two and a half hour set would ever be recorded, but there was never a sour note or “should be cut” moment to be heard. If anything a double album here would make perfect sense, and be one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve heard in ages.

Go read the full article. The sentence “after seeing her new material performed live I think it could easily be her strongest, most enjoyable album to date” also appears. So yeah, Ys might be my favorite album of the decade and I’m kind of uncontrollably excited right now.

Hat tip to the ol’ Pitchfork.

HOLY SHIT

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

HENRY COW
40th ANNIVERSARY BOX SET Volumes 1 & 2
9 CDs and 1 DVD with 2 substantial books - in two solid Boxes. LIMITED EDITION.

Assembled over 15 years, this collection gives for the first time some idea of the breadth and depth of Henry Cow’s work. Always very much a live band, performance was their metier, and a concert might range far - always driven by an intense dialogue between tightly knit compositions and radically open improvisation. The officially released LPs tell at best only half this story, and one purpose of this definitive collection is to set the work back into its broader context. These are all previously unreleased recordings, that include many compositions and improvisations new to anyone who only knows the official releases, documentation of a number of one-off projects and events and - where different or remarkable enough to justify inclusion - live versions of parts of the LP repertoire. Many of these recordings are high quality radio transcriptions taken directly from the original masters, others are less hi-fi, but justified we think by their historic and musical quality. And everything has been carefully transferred and re-mastered by Bob Drake to the best audio quality that current technology allows without interference or tampering. It’s all a million times better than the terrible bootlegs that are swimming around. Altogether, these 9 CDs embody some extraordinary, and occasionally prescient music. Taking this box together with the officially released albums, it is possible at last to get some impression of the extensive ground Henry Cow covered in it’s 10 short years. Finally, there is the DVD: 80 minutes of the 1976 Cow (with Georgina Born and Dagmar Krause) performing many unreleased pieces as well as Living in the Heart of The Beast, Beautiful as the Moon &c. This is the only known video recording in existence - professionally made, multi camera - and has not been recovered since its original broadcast (just scour U-Tube, HC is conspicuous by its total absence). And last but not least, there is a great deal of written, photographic and textual documentation. Since this will probably be the last and definitive collection, it has to be thorough. For reasons of fairness and cost we have decided to split the set into two boxes - which can be bought separately or together. VOL 1 covers the period 1971 to the 1976 Hamburg radio show which documents John Greaves’ last concert with the band, as well as the extraordinary Trondheim concert from the quartet tour that immediately followed. VOL 2 takes the story through to 1978 and includes more previously undocumented compositions as well as the Bremen radio recording. The Stockholm CD belongs to this second box, which also contains the DVD.

This came from ReR via ProgressiveEars. Supposedly out in September for 99 GBP. (I haven’t been able to find the original, so this is unverified, but I believe it.) To recap: nine CDs and one DVD of live Henry Cow — none of this stuff has been released before, so you’re not paying for 5 CDs of stuff you already have in order to get to the goodies.

Oh fuck Bloodcount is reuniting!

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Well, my favorite current jazz musician, Tim Berne, has been pretty quiet this year, touring a bit and participating in David Torn’s Prezens project, but not releasing any new material (just a reissue of the great Science Friction stuff). Next year it looks like he’s going to be busy, going on four separate tours in the first four months of the year — including a reunion of Bloodcount!! It’s been a decade since that band has played together, and the best news for me is that since Michael Formanek is part of the group, they’ll be playing in Baltimore! I’m already getting excited for this show and it’s, oh, almost six months away.

D-Plan reunion: I GOT TICKETS!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

What happens when the DC band with the most rabid fan base (both local and national) since Fugazi reunites, four years after its breakup, for a single benefit concert at a club with a capacity of maybe 500-600 people? Why, it sells out in 30 seconds, of course. Such was the case for The Dismemberment Plan, who are playing a one-off reunion in late April for which tickets went on sale yesterday at 5pm. I was one of those rabid fans sitting at work hitting the refresh button on two computers every 30 seconds so that I could have a shot at getting tickets. As it happened, I lucked out and managed to get four. I saw these guys four times between 2001 and 2003 (in four different cities no less), but this is going to be a uniquely awesome experience. In celebration I’ll be reviewing their two most acclaimed albums, Emergency & I and Change, on this site. They may actually be of interest to some of the more open-minded prog fans. Josh Kortbein is the one who turned me on to them, sometime in 1999 or so, sending me a random e-mail that basically just said, “Check these guys out — I don’t know why, but I think you’ll like them.” He was right. Thanks, Josh.

I saw their final farewell show in 2003, and while it wasn’t their best, it was one hell of an experience.

The Beta Band were FUCKING AMAZING live

Friday, October 19th, 2001

I just got back from a show in New York by The Beta Band, which KICKED MY ASS. I mean, wow - they were awesome. Their album Hot Shots II is pretty muted and laid-back, but their live show really ripped. For those of you not in the know, I’m not really sure if these guys would have much appeal to the usual prog audience - they use a lot of hip-hop-ish beats, dreamy multitracked vocals, and electronics that range from spacy to grandly symphonic to just plain weird. In general they’re one of the more difficult bands to categorize that I’ve come across lately.

If you’re familiar with Hot Shots II, the band closed their main set with “Squares” and “Broke”, and they turned both of them into full-out rockers. They opened their encore with “Al Sharp”, which was as beautiful in concert as it is on record.

One of the neat things about this group is their versatility: while ostensibly the group consists of a keyboardist, a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist/vocalist, all four musicians jumped around to different instruments numerous times. One of my favorite moments was in the third and final song of the encore, in which the guitarist played a second drum set so that the music consisted of a really intricate percussion tour de force, with weird, almost Ozrics-like electronics issuing from the keyboardist’s position and agile bass lines snaking through it all.

So, yeah. A damn good show. I’d like to say that The Beta Band is one of the more creative indie-rock groups out there today, but then, I’m not real familiar with a very wide range of indie-rock, and also, I don’t even know if they’re really “indie-rock”. I guess that probably means they’re pretty damn creative, in any case. Yeah.