Saturday, September 29, 2007

How to Make a Great Video on the Cheap

Below is a video done for the Brooklyn three-piece Pterodactyl* that does a great job at showing how a couple hundred bucks and a free weekend can produce a great video. Here we have a renegade bicycle wheel tearing through the countryside on its way to the Big Apple. Along the way the wheel manages to ride a train and subway as well as dish out some tricks with some skateboarders, all before joining a cluster of cyclists.

Pterodactyl - "Polio"

Further examples include the excellent new Monty Buckles-directed Pissed Jeans video which was talked about in a prior post and [to a lesser degree] the low-budget Kanye West video for "Can't Tell Me Nothing" that was done with Zach Galifianakis and Will Oldham.

Pterodactyl's self-titled LP (unofficially titled Blue Jay) is out now on Brah/Jagjaguwar.

*They have one of the coolest, yet simple, homepages I've seen in a while.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Total Request Live.

So Eric & I are now doing a show on Monday nights from 8 to 10pm called Expressway To Yr Skull. We enjoy trying to twist our listeners' collective arms into making requests & while we have been able to coax a number of excellent requests out of you people, every so often, our constant baiting also seems to backfire on us. Truth be told, simple probability would suggest that this would be the case, in which not all of our listeners are going to motivated to dial a phone & request something like, say, Oneida as opposed to Sevendust. That is, if they're even motivated to dial the phone at all, which seems to be the larger issue. In the interest of trying to raise the bar a little, here's a quick guide to making a good request & keeping those cynical jerks hanging out in the radio station basement (read: us) happy.

Rule Number One: This one should be exceedingly obvious, but apparently not everyone got the message. A song with alot of naughty words? Not a good request, folks. Before you call & ask to hear, say, "Fuck The Pain Away" by Peaches, ask yourself if we're really going to be able to play a song that, nevermind the oft-repeated title, incluces the lyrics "Sucking on my titties like you wanted me". Yeah, no dice. The FCC would be on our ass fast enough to make your head spin.
Rule Number Two: This might seem to be in contradiction to Rule Number One, but songs and/or band names that are fun to say on the air generally make for good requests (provided that the songs and/or bands aren't terrible). For example, Pissed Jeans & Solar Anus are just dirty enough to say without invoking the wrath of the fascists over at the FCC (actually, "Pissed Jeans" might technically be a violation, but I'm willing to overlook that one).
Rule Number Three: No Grateful Dead, ever. This also goes for any band whose sticker you would find on your typical UMass student's car. If you've actually been listening to our show as we start guilting people into calling, you should have a general idea of what we like musically. Try to stick somewhere in those parameters.
Rule Number Four: In general, obscure garage rock & post-punk = good (assuming that it's something that we actually have in our library). Most of the In The Red, K Records, Kill Rock Stars, early-to-mid 80s SST Records catalogs = good. Crazy fucked-up drone/psych rock = good. Steve Albini bands = good. Other things that Steve Albini has been involved with = good, maybe (don't request something from that Bush album that he worked on). Crazy fucked up people from Texas = good (and by this, I mean Daniel Johnston, the Butthole Surfers, the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, et al). Bands that have been influenced by Can or Devo = good, generally (or you could just request Can or Devo). Old Stooges material = good. New Stooges material = very, very bad.
Rule Number Five: If you're requesting something just because Pitchfork has been shitting their pants over it, you probably shouldn't bother. If you're requesting something that Pitchfork has been shitting their pants over because it's justifiably awesome (see: Liars, Black Lips), that's kosher.
Rule Number Six: Don't think that you're so fucking clever for coming up with the idea to request "Expressway to Yr Skull" by Sonic Youth, because we're never going to play that. Never.

That's what I have so far. Depending on whether or not you folks step up to the plate & come through for us, this might have to been expanded later. I want to start getting some calls this Monday with some top-notch requests, or else Eric might decide to hijack the show & play the Flaming Lips' cover of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" non-stop (again).

Track Thursday

I'm going to try every Thursday to post a track review of a song that is amazing. If not me, then hopefully someone else.

The inaugural edition will start with Spank Rock's wonderfully filthy "Put That Pussy On Me (Diplo Tonite Remix)." What this song does is give me two things I love: MC Spank Rock's (real name Naeem Juwan) crude-yet-still-banging rapping and a beat (any beat really) done by Diplo. How Diplo isn't a bigger producer in the mainstream rap world still miffs me.

This idea came from listening to The Seeds self-titled LP for the first time and realize that the first song, "Can't Get You Out of My Mind," was main sample Diplo used for the remix. I basically found out something additionally great about a song I already loved, causing me to love it more.

The Diplo Tonite Remix of "Put That Pussy On Me" does a fine job of shifting the lyrical reaction of the rap by just changing the backing music. First, the warped guitar Diplo knicks for the remix completely changes the song's purpose- from the straight-up club-banger original into a playful, sunnier rap jaunt. Whereas someone playing the original might think the rap is just fulfilling the generic lyrical quota of involving ass and MC-braggadocio, in the remix the lyrics get highlighted in their true jestful intent. A good example is in the second verse, where Diplo blows the beat starts to blow up but offsets it with the summery, tinkling organ notes from The Seeds song. He then drops out the sugar completely, submerging everything but the drums in what sounds like a bathtub, putting the focus on the song's jokingly self-referential barb "I create styles of a superior taste that/some white boy's sure to imitate." By doing so he keeps the quasi-grit of the lyrics intact while softening the edges with the music. A gentlemen might actually be able to put this on a mix for a lady and not get slapped in the face.

Additionally, the track furthers the growing interest in Nuggets-era music. It's been a real treat to see more press/media outlets making note of bands like the Black Lips, King Khan and BBQ Show/His Shrines, Mark Sultan, Jay Reatard and all the other In the Red/Bomp!/Die Slaughterhaus labels that are putting respectful focus on that period of music.

I'd make a download of the track available, but I don't want to risk legal matters yet. The Spank Rock website listed above has the original version of "Put That Pussy On Me" available for download.

Some would have a very good case at saying Spank Rock is a overly sexist rap act. The album cover above acts as evidence, but so does their simple-in-concept music video for "Bump," which consists of a buck-naked girl jumping around in front of a white backdrop. Or the new Spank Rock and Benny Blanco Bangers and Cash EP that's just weeks away from being released. But that's missing the point. Spank Rock's about a good time and reveling/mocking hip hop's clichéd standards.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Valley Worm Fest

The Flywheel is on a non-stop fundraising tear, hosting the fantastic record fair at Eastworks two weekends ago. This upcoming weekend is going to be the first (in a hopefully annual) Valley Worm Fest. Some flyers that were available at the record fair stated it was being held at the Eagle's Club, but that just got shut down. It's been relocated to The Elevens in Northampton. This 3-day festival is occurring from September 28-30. The cost for each day is 5 bucks and 3-day passes are for sale at Turn It Up! for 15 bucks. As we've said before, WMUA <3 The Flywheel, so show them some love!!

Performance Schedule:

Friday September 28th - 8pm
Flock and Field
Curious Buddies
No Shadow Kick
Campbell Apartment (Ari Vais)
Space Captain
Mark Schwaber
Count Westwest
The Novels
The Fawns
Philip Price (Winterpills)

Saturday September 29th - 3pm
Tumble Cat Poof Poofy Poof
Bill Nace
Grey Skull
Fat Worm of Error

Saturday September 29th - 8 pm
Dark Oars (Chris Carlton)
Sitting Next to Brian
Mathew Swiatlowski (Hymns)
Claudia Malibu
The Mitchells
Henning (School for the Dead)
Zeke Fiddler
Mark Mulcahy

Sunday September 30th - 3pm
Josh Crane
Ruth Garbus (Feathers)
Kurt Weisman (Feathers)
Thane Thomsen (the Figments)
VS. event

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Post-Punk Post.

It's no secret that I'm quite fond of 70s/80s post-punk in general, so I feel that it is my duty to draw your attention to a swell little album that was just relased & that you should make it your business to check out (and no, I'm not talking about the new Moving Units album, asshole).

The Fire Engines were a Scottish post-punk band in the 1980s who exisited for a staggering eighteen months before calling it quits. We can also blame them for inspiring & unleashing Franz Ferdinand into the world, but that's a different story. The complete collected works of the Fire Engines are now available on one convenient digital package (the anthology Hungry Beat) thanks to Acute Records, who have been consistently reissuing a number of essential & excellent long out-of-print no-wave/post-punk records on CD (I'd particularly suggest checking out their reissue of Glenn Branca & Wharton Tiers amazing 70s no-wave project, Theoretical Girls). Why should you care? For starters, the material on Hungry Beat has never been released on CD in the United States & you'd still be hard pressed to easily find it on any other format elsewhere. But the real reason that this is even worth mentioning is because this band was in-fucking-credible. A mathematical formula would look something like this: The abrasive skronk of James Chance & the Contortions + (the frenetic minimalism of Television x the dark pop sensibilities of the Velvet Underground) + the jagged punk off Richard Hell & the Voidoids = the Fire Engines, roughly. Or you could think of them as the Scottish condensation of every band mentioned in Legs McNeil's 70s punk chronicle Please Kill Me. Either way, they're good enough to overlook the fact that if it weren't for these guys & fellow Scottish 80s post-punk band Josef K, we wouldn't have had to hear Franz Ferdinand's damn "Take Me Out" song a million times over a few years ago. Highly recommended!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Cover-Up 2.0

I feel kind of bad for singling this band out in this installment of our album cover Hall of Shame, given that I spent a good chunk of my formative years obsessively going through Touch & Go Records mailorder catalogs & making notes in the margins the way that most fourteen year olds would do with their history textbooks. Making fun of Korn for hideous graphic design (see "the Cover-Up 1.0") is easy because there's obviously NO redeeming value in a Korn album, cover art or otherwise. But this cover is so bad that not even David Yow can be exempt from my criticisms this time around. Not to mention that I wouldn't be able to shake feminist equivalent of Catholic guilt if I didn't call bullshit on this one.

Ladies & gentleman, here we have the cover of Love's Miracle, the new album from Qui, featuring one Mister David Yow of the Jesus Lizard fame. I really shouldn't have to tell you why this is such a terrible album cover, but let's examine this briefly, shall we? For starters, the graphic design looks like something that someone whipped up their high school remedial Photoshop class ("Dude, wouldn't it be, like, so totally awesome if the band's name was spelled out in the clouds by one of those fuckin' SKYWRITING planes?!"). Consider that in conjunction with the ridiculous, gold faux-cursive font they used for the title, that looks like it would be more in place on a flyer for some keg party at a sorority house. Then we have the highly questionable fashion choice of the pseudo-Jim Morrison, open-leather-jacket-with-no-shirt look, but this isn't a column in Esquire or Vogue, so I'll let that one slide. Now we come to the real clincher that sent these guys straight into this esteemed feature in our little blog: the dead naked woman face down in the grass with ants crawling all over her. Now, "classy" was never really a term that I associated with the Jesus Lizard or any of those noisy, ugly early-to-mid-90s Touch & Go/Amphetamine Reptile axis bands. When I'm listening to Shellac or the Melvins or whatever, I'm also not expecting some manifesto that would be better suited to a Bikini Kill record. But this totally crosses into that category of bad album covers that is dominated by angry, young metalcore bands who exclusively write songs about strangling & dismembering their ex-girlfriends who left them for dudes with better nautical star tattoos. Something like this, perhaps?

I had this Qui record in my hands for about a week or so & everytime I looked at the cover, I cringed & suddenly forgot to actually put the album on. Yikes. However, I did finally listen to it & I must say that while I'm glad that the fucked up spirit of the Jesus Lizard is being somewhat channeled in Qui, I could have done without the Frank Zappa & Pink Floyd covers, guys.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Mission of Burma is playing the Pearl Street Clubroom tonight. If you live in the Pioneer Valley, you have no reason to miss it tonight.

Show starts at 8:30 pm.

Monty Buckles

There's a new Pissed Jeans video flying around the world wide webs today, viewable below.

The video is directed by a gentleman named Monty Buckles, who is now my 3rd favorite named music video director (2nd Famous Mortimer, 1st Nathaniel Hörnblowér). He fronts The Lamps, who've released two LPs on In the Red. What I was not aware of was that he has directed some other great videos for bands like The Black Lips, Intelligence and A-Frames, just to name a few. According to his website bio he is described as an "unlovable drunken shut-in." His shooting style reminds me of the 90s low-budget Spike Jonze glory days. I have a feeling Mr. Buckles gets compared to him a lot. Did I mention he has a blog?

Here are some other videos he has directed.

The Black Lips - "Fad"

Intelligence - "Dating Cops"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Boop Boop

Some of you may have already found out that Deerhoof have posted a free, quasi-official release on their website, available to download or stream. It contains remixes, live takes, and the like. It's nice and all, but the real treat is the EPIC (and I mean epic) journal they posted detailing just about everything they did from 2006 and onward. This includes tour* tales from their stints with Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, Busdriver, Harlem Shakes, OOIOO, Fiery Furnaces and on and on. They also discuss the working done on their recent Friend Opportunity LP as well as provide a plethora of youtube related clips and pictures of their adventures.

So yeah, Deerhoof rule. But that's nothing new.

*Is it me or do they never take a break? They have essentially toured nonstop this entire year and are probably recording another amazing album when their not. Their work ethic puts most bands to shame.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In the Direction of Interview

Tonight, during Expressway to Yr Skull (8-10 pm every Monday on 91.1), we've got an interview with Mr. Tommy Chung of The Selmanaires. The Atlanta four-piece is out on tour right now with the equally amazing Black Lips, also from Atlanta. They have two shows lined up in Massachusetts, which are listed below. Show some love for my ATL-brethren and go to the shows.

The Black Lips/Selmanaires MA tourdates:

September, 20 2007
8 pm
The Grind @ Clark University
9650 Main Street
Worchester, MA 01610

September, 21 2007
9 pm
Middle East
472 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
Cost: $12

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Maybe you've seen some flyers around the Valley talking about a "record release party" for Thurston Moore's newest solo release Trees Outside the Academy that's taking place at the Eagles Nest in Northampton this Saturday. It turns out that's partly true. Thurston Moore IS playing, but not solo or part of some record release party. Apparently, there was some miscommunication on that. But the good news is, Thurston Moore is playing. Thurston, his brother Gene [Moore, doy] and John Moloney form like Voltron to become Hustler Collage and word on the street is they'll be doing some good ol' improvisational tunage.

The lineup:

Hustler Collage
Dredd Foole
Radioactive Prostitute
Jow-Jow the Death Knell Rung

Show starts at 8 pm and costs only $5

Special Programming Tonight

Tonight, from 8-10 pm, the WMUA program "End of Radio" will have special guest author Michael T. Fournier on to discuss his addition to the fantastic 33 1/3 book series that's published by Continuum. Fournier's addition to the series is on the Minutemen's landmark double LP Double Nickels on the Dime. The book documents what went on during the period that revolved around making the classic release and features the input of Minuteman and all-around kickass guy Mike Watt. Do not miss this!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Flywheel Record Fair!

The Flywheel, one of the great independent, community-run art and music venus is having its first annual record fair this upcoming Saturday, Sept. 15th. As the flyer reads, it's going from 9 to 4, free admission, tons of records and proceeds are going toward the keeping the Flywheel up and running. It's located at Eastworks in Easthampton. Directions to Eastworks can be found HERE.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Heart the Onion

Nailed it!

excerpt from The Onion

Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8

...Schreiber's semi-favorable review, which begins in earnest after a six-paragraph preamble comprising a long list of baroquely rendered, seemingly unrelated anecdotes peppered with obscure references, summarizes music as a "solid but uninspired effort."

..."Music used to be great, but let's be honest, it's a 6.8 now at best," said Los Angeles resident Lowell Radler, 23, who admitted that he just looked at the rating rather than reading the whole review. "I seriously might never listen to music again."

...Still, most analysts agreed that the impact of Pitchfork's scathing review of music will be dampened by the 2.4 rating it received from Pitchfork staff writer Dave Maher just moments after the initial critique was published online. Maher termed Schreiber's assessment of music "overwrought, masturbatory posturing intended to make insecure hipsters feel as if they're part of some imagined elite beau monde."

An Event

Western Massachusetts Hardcore Festival
Saturday, Sept. 15th
MERCYHouse on North Pleasant St. in Amherst
Doors: 4:30 pm
Show: 5:00 pm
5 bucks