Friday, October 31, 2008

Museum of propaganda: 2008 remixes


(Originals, BTW.)

Neat: Tim Fite Halloween EP

I like Tim Fite, a lo-fi hip-hop-folk-anticonsumerist-provocateur hyphenated dude in Brooklyn. As he did last year, he’s offering a free Halloween EP on his website. Get it today before it’s gone, and also make sure you get the treat and not the trick. (Nice of him to offer last year’s release, too.)


(Thanks for reminder, BV.)

A very unhappy Halloween


Probably the worst news I’ve seen in months:

Who needs Robert Plant? Apparently not the other surviving members of Led Zeppelin, who are ready to pull the trigger on a tour with a new singer if Plant refuses to join in. Sources tell Billboard the frontman first in line for the gig is Myles Kennedy, who has most recently led the rock outfit Alter Bridge.

When the reunion happened last December, I remember conversations with friends over just how much money we would shell out to see Led Zeppelin. The number got into the thousands pretty quickly, and we’re talking about serious grizzled journalists and biz people here, who are used to getting into many things for free. I think this sends the value down to about $22.50 if it includes a 32-ounce Coke.

Alter Bridge, by the way? Orlando, Florida.

Happy Halloween


Thursday, October 30, 2008

‘Girls Gone Wild’ (1929)


“A gilded flapper tries everything — once, but pays the price of her folly in the wildest party of all.”

Museum of propaganda: 2008 remixes


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Amazing ‘Album Atlas’


The Word, a British music magazine that I have to admit I don’t read very often, has a wonderful web feature called Album Cover Atlas. It’s a Google Map that pinpoints where classic album cover photos were taken. Some are self-evident, of course, like Abbey Road or Live at the Apollo. But I had no idea that Kiss’s Dressed to Kill was shot a block from my house, nor would I likely ever find Phetchaburi Road in Bangkok, where the Clash apparently stood for Combat Rock. Thanks, The Daily Swarm, for pointing this out.

Other neat ones: Teenage Fanclub, Songs From Northern Britain (Aviemore, indeed way up in the Scottish Highlands); the Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies (the Archway Tavern, on a little island in the middle of a major highway in London*). Least interesting: Dave Matthews albums, which are in obvious and/or famous locations like Radio City Music Hall, Red Rocks, Charlottesville, the Gorge.

You can contribute to the project yourself, and so far there are about 600 entries. That sounds like a lot, but spread over the entire planet that leaves lots of unannotated terrain. Can’t wait to see all the dots on the map of say, Manhattan or London once this hits a critical mass.


* Years ago I saw a short documentary about the making of the album. Muswell Hill was where Ray and Dave Davies were born, and in the film Ray complained about the bulldozing and gentrification of what had been a working-class area with lots of salt-of-the-earth pubs like the one pictured.

Museum of propaganda: Driving Miss Hitler


Part two!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Four-word reviews from CMJ


Didn’t see quite as many bands as usual this year due to other work, but here are the sniglets I wrote for the Times’ ArtsBeat blog:

  • Pattern Is Movement: Lumberjack looks, sensitive ululations.
  • Princeton: Aww, indie Lauper cover!
  • The Lisps: Peppy co-ed pop candy.
  • Women: Four boys, strangled chords.
  • Oxford Collapse: Snarling, invigorating punk chants.
  • Faunts: Bubbly guitars feel weightless.
  • Crystal Stilts: Juxtaposition: gloomy and scrappy.
  • Lykke Li: Playful, ingenious Swedish glamazon.
  • Hayes Peebles: Li’s opening strummer; sympathize.
  • Shugo Tokumaru: Haunting, inviting acoustic virtuosity.
  • Audrye Sessions: If Radiohead were emo.
  • The Dutchess & the Duke: Wistful folky dirges. Inauthentic.
  • Jay Reatard: Punksplosive. Go man go!
  • The King Khan & BBQ Show: Garage’s essence, wonderfully deviant.
  • Mission of Burma: Postpunk will never die.
  • Shout Out Out Out Out Out: Electro Edmontonians embrace excess.
  • Growing: Two guitars, such din?
  • Holyhail: Hate saying “generic,” but ...
  • Psychic Ills: Throbbing drones, migraine-loud.
  • Sian Alice Group: Ended with apocalyptic crash.

Extended play:

  • The Muslims: One-chord surfers. Gnarly.
  • Shock Cinema: Potent, dark, tough; unshocking.
  • School of Seven Bells: Feminized MBV, perfectly executed.
  • Pendulum: Glowstickers, you’re easily pleased.


Museum of propaganda: More metal!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Museum of propaganda: ‘Learn the facts’


I never knew there was a Racists Black Power Church. If there really was, wouldn’t they at least try to camouflage their name? Like, say, the All-American Equality and Justice God God God Church (Which Is Secretly Satanic and Racist — sssh!).

(Via BB.)

Museum of propaganda: Saving fuel in wartime

(Via Vintage Ads.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

muso, n.


1. Austral. A musician; esp. a classical one.

1967 Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) XXXIX. 9/1 (headline) Musos blow cold... Members of the Sydney symphony orchestra will work to rule. 1978 Melbourne Truth 18 Mar. 28/2 Davis ended up doing four numbers — and the musos backed him beautifully right off the cuff. 1993 Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 21 Nov. 141/2 Musos of the calibre of Eric Bogle and Jeanne Lewis joined a choir of talented high-school students and the result is a cheerful collection of ditties telling the story of the gumnut babies and their adventures.

2. Brit. A musician or music enthusiast, esp. (freq. mildly depreciative) one who takes himself or herself too seriously.

1977 Melody Maker 26 Mar. 10/5 Among the many musos who heard him at the Seven Dials in Covent Garden last Thursday was brassman Alan Littlejohn. 1989 Empire Sept. 108/3 It’s hard to imagine many people, apart from die-hard musos and dedicated Gabriel fans, would want to listen to this in the comfort of their own home. 2000 Evening Standard (Electronic ed.) 1 Nov., This is in serious breach of his job description, viz, Slightly Dumb Cook. He is not a muso — he is not cool enough.

Copyright © Oxford University Press 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lars deaccessions a Basquiat


Memo to the art world from Lars Ulrich: fear not the markets, art’s value is safe. That’s, um, why he’s selling his last Basquiat.

Carol Vogel reports in the Times today that Ulrich is selling “Untitled (Boxer),” a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, at Christie’s in New York next month. Christie’s estimates the sale at $12 to $16 million.

Ulrich, whose sale of a Basquiat for $5.5 million in 2002 — a record at the time — was captured in the film Some Kind of Monster, told Vogel that he has faith in the art market even as Wall Street shakes:

“Of course it’s an awkward time to sell, but I’ve always been about taking chances,” Mr. Ulrich said.

“I have a lot of faith in the art market,” he added. “It’s perhaps the last frontier where the best of the best will not go the way of the rest of the economy.” Recently his collecting has gone in a different direction, he said. Rather than relying on auctions, he has begun scouring galleries, buying the work of emerging artists.

Metallica’s latest, Death Magnetic, by the way, has sold just over 1 million copies since it was released a month ago. (Omniscient readers may also recall that a few months ago U2 auctioned off a Basquiat that had hung in their rehearsal studio for $10.1 million.) 

Museum of propaganda: Victory garden


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thanks, honeycomb!

The Wikignomes have made the fix that I requested about the Pixies’ date of origin.

I’m almost afraid to look again at the Pixies entries and find yet more mistakes. But I’m glad the change was made, and made so fast, and I hope it sticks.

‘Sombras del Mal’


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Popcast performances

Tooting own horn dept.:

PhotobucketFor Popcast, the Times’s weekly music podcast, we’ve been slowly building up a nice archive of live studio performances. First, in June, was Essie Jain, and since then we’ve had Laura Marling and Jennifer O’Connor, among others.

I’m particularly proud of the last few: Cory Chisel, a deep-voiced young songwriter from way north Wisconsin; Julie Fowlis, a Scottish folk singer who performs in a nearly vanished Gaelic dialect; and, this week, Annuals, blogger faves from Raleigh, N.C. Those last two were recorded in the studios of WQXR, and they sound great.

Next week is the reunited Led Zeppelin. Nah, but we have good stuff coming, and each podcast also features a couple of record reviews by staff critics. Enjoy, and if you like it, subscribe.

Please correct Pixies entries on Wikipedia

Two weeks ago Wikipedia ran an Article of the Day on David Lovering, which alerted me to a big error that appears to have reproduced itself across every Pixies-related page on Wikipedia (and therefore all over the Internet). I would like to request that these pages be corrected to reflect the following:

The Pixies began in 1986, not 1985.

How do we know this?

  • It’s a long-established fact, documented in hundreds of articles written while the band was active. To research my book, Doolittle, and because I have been an avid Pixies fan since 1989, I have collected a significant archive of press clippings and other paperwork; some of this was provided to me by the band. The record overwhelmingly shows that the band was founded in early 1986, when Charles Thompson (a.k.a. Black Francis, a.k.a. Frank Black) and Joey Santiago dropped out of UMass Amherst and moved to Boston.

  • The band members confirm it. After seeing the error on Wikipedia, I wrote to Charles and Joey, and both told me that the band was indeed founded in 1986, not 1985. The band’s former manager, who had been with them from before Come On Pilgrim up to the reunion tour, also confirmed it to me. Here is what Joey wrote in an email:

    Hey Ben,
    We started in 1986. We both graduated High School in 83.
    Charles and I dropped out after our first semester as juniors from UMass.
    I know it was winter because I remember pissing in the snow when we drove into Boston very late at night. So we most likely moved to Boston in January of 86.
    It’s not clear precisely when Lovering and Kim Deal joined, but numerous contemporary sources say the lineup was complete by about July 1986, and the band started playing out shortly thereafter.

  • It lines up with historical events. One of the best known stories of the early days is that Charles started the band with money his father gave him to see Halley’s Comet in New Zealand. Halley’s Comet, which passes near Earth every 75 to 76 years, was last visible in early 1986. 

    Also, it is well established that in March 1987, when the Pixies recorded “The Purple Tape” — a set of 17 songs, which would be edited down to 8 for their first record, Come On Pilgrim — the full band had not been together terribly long. Early articles put it at roughly six months, suggesting an origin of mid-’86.

    Let’s look again at Charles and Joey’s time in school: Both graduated high school in 1983, and completed their freshman (fall ’83-spring ’84) and sophomore (fall ’84-spring ’85) years at UMass, then dropped out after the first semester of their junior year (fall ’85). That brings us to early 1986.

  • There’s no reliable source for 1985. The Pixies-related pages on Wikipedia cite the same source for calling 1985 their origin: Josh Frank and Caryn Ganz’s oral history, Fool the World. (In fact, even other sources cited to support the this claim actually say 1986, such as the Allmusic biography.) But that book has many errors and contradictions. Part of this may be due to the fact that, as an oral history, it relies on people’s memories, which can be faulty; people also lie. Regardless, there’s no excuse for not checking basic facts.

    In Fool the World, Deal says she got married at age 24 and then moved to Boston, and at one point states: “I got to Boston in January ’85.” But she also says: “So what year did I get married? Eighty-fuckin’ four, ’85 maybe?” Deal was born on June 10, 1961, so in January 1985 she was only 23. Most likely she got married in 1985 and moved to Boston in early 1986. 

    Other interviews in the Fool the World contradict Deal about the 1985 claim. For example, John Murphy, her ex-husband (on early Pixies releases, Deal was credited as “Mrs. John Murphy”), remembers that early rehearsals took place the year the Red Sox lost the world series. That was 1986. (They played the Mets, of course.)

Why am I asking someone else to make the correction? Two reasons. First, as the author of a book on the Pixies, I do not want my motives to be misunderstood. I have nothing against Fool the World, which is a very interesting read; it’s just not a reliable source of facts. Second, I want to make sure this is all on the record for anyone to question or dispute, because I fear that — Wikipedia being what it is — if I simply correct the entries without explanation someone would just change them back 10 seconds later. 

The Pixies are one of the most important bands of the last 25 years, and a fact as critical as the year they began must be correct. If entries on the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin had such a detail wrong, it would be fixed faster than you can say “catalog sales.”

Oh, and one more thing. Joey had a special request:

Btw, if you are going to correct that can you also add that my birthday is June 10 not the 11th?

(Yup, same birthday as Kim and Kelley.)