Thursday, December 22, 2005
Download: Stone Jack Jones -- "Smile"
Download: Stone Jack Jones -- "Bread"
Us Team C.-ers are going to be in and out for the holidays, but I thought I would leave you with this taster of Stone Jack Jones, who is putting out his second album, bluefolk, next year on the awesome Fictitious Records label out of Nashville.
Stone Jack Jones is an interesting character from Nashville, TN in the mode of a Tom Waits or a Jim White, a purveyor of evocative, atmospheric, gothic Americana. Great stuff…a real discovery. A chance meeting with Patty Griffin and a friendship with uber-producer Roger Moutenot got him making records, but Stone Jack has also worked as a circus performer and carnie, shared a girlfriend (!) with Michael Stipe, and owned a strip club. A world-weariness reflects beautifully in all of his music, particularly in his dusty, creaky voice.
This record came out of nowhere and blew me away, and I guarantee you'll feel the same way about it.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Download: The Weather Machines -- "Last Stop"
Download: The Weather Machines -- "Modern Text On Love"
As you may or may not know, I am a power-pop fiend. About 10 of the Top 25 songs on my iPod are Teenage Fanclub songs. The handclaps, the harmonies, the hooks: it all kills me. The Big Star star is the only tattoo I've ever seriously considered putting on some part of my hithertofore unenhanced skin. I could go on and on about this stuff, but I'm not feeling particularly philosophical today.
Imagine my surprise when the Weather Machines' new LP, The Sounds of Pseudoscience, rolled into my office. A band from Rapid City, South Dakota? I saw National Lampooon's European Vacation at a theater in downtown Rapid City (they were also showing Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) whilst on a family vacation to the Black Hills. The South Dakota music scence doesn't get a lot of press, so I had no idea what to expect. The album's cover and title didn't really scream "hooks galore" to me. I guess the word "science" threw me off somewhat. I anticipated some sort of Devo-esque outfit.
What I got was "hooks galore," both melodic and rhythmic. Jason Ward of the Weather Machines has an exceptional grasp on the use of rhythm and space as a way to create a pop hook (think the Breeders' "Cannonball" or the Kinks' "I Need You" for further great examples of this) or, heck, a whole song. There are a lot of influences at play here, but thankfully they're hard to peg...I detect wisps of Elvis Costello and Big Star, but the Weather Machines never descend into mimicry, which is a refreshing change for the genre.
I'll leave you with Six Eyes' 8 out of 10 review of the album (it says it a lot better than I could):
This is power pop crisply executed. There is no messing around, these twelve short tracks are all meaty hooks and shiny barbs. Following the opening nugget, "Modern Text On Love" [whose opening guitar riff recalls XTC], you'd expect a young band to slide into average, maudlin territory, but no... these musicians bear down and deliver lead singer Jason Ward's songs with a consistent energy matching the songs surprising quality. Bringing to mind bands like Ted Leo, XTC, The Strokes, and 'eternally missing in action' The La's -- this is power pop with impeccable pedigree and deep roots. Recommended.Another harmonic post from the Beach Boys-wannabes at Team Clermont.
Monday, December 12, 2005
(the sounds of) kaleidoscope (yes, that is how you have to spell their name!) are a DC band that plays the kind of shoegaze-y noise pop that I eat for breakfast. I just love this kind of stuff. This record reminds of all of the early Creation acts--My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Primal Scream--plus a healthy dose of Spacemen 3 and early Jesus and Mary Chain. In other words, it’s gold. This is the kind of essential music that I’m glad rears its head every couple of years in the form of some hot new band. (the sounds of) kaleidoscope really pull it off, never sounding tired and derivative; this stuff rocks and is truly three-dimensional.
Plus, some of these guys played with the Lilys, and that’s a good thing.
Another batch of The Hot Rock brought to you by Team Clermont.
Friday, December 09, 2005
The OC featured Fine China's "My Worst Nightmare" during a scene last night. Now I didn't watch the episode, but I heard that they got a fair amount of screen time. That's pretty hot. And seeing as how Reunion got cancelled, can we get Amanda Righetti back?
Also, the Hold Steady is playing an acoustic set with the indefatigable Anti-Social Music tomorrow (Dec. 10) at Chashama in NYC. Apparently there will be plenty of beer to go along with the hot punk orchestra stylings of ASM. It's a show sure to please. I saw those gals and guys during CMJ and it was the best show I saw, hands-down: compelling, frustrating, exciting, beautiful, and dissonant, sometimes all at the same time.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
In this edition of IMing With The Stars, I've decided to interview someone in the music industry, but I cheated because Christina Rentz and I go way back. I've known her since she was a Music Director at KLSU in Baton Rouge and I was a fledgling college radio promoter. There's a kinship there, an unspoken bond, kismet if you will, as I am a former Deep South Music Director as well. We've sifted through thousands of bad jam rock records and cringed at CDs with fractals on the cover. Wait, those are the same thing.
Anyway, Christina works at one of the best record labels out there: Merge Records. It's pretty much a dream job, and in this interview, we talk about the initial sales expectations for the Arcade Fire, the underacknowledged genius of Portastatic and Chris Lopez, and the risk of putting out 69 Love Songs.
Me: can I interview you for our blog?
Me: It's for a feature called "IMing with the Stars" and you are a star
Me: I want to interview someone in the industry
Me: basically it is an AIM interview and I copy everything, bad grammar included
Me: I would need a picture of you, too
Christina: haha! Ok - sounds fun!
Christina: ok - I have one where I look like a holiday elf
Me: when would be the best time
Me: you are on AIM all of the time, right?
Christina: pretty much
Christina: always when I am at work
Me: it will only last for like ten minutes or so
Christina: okee dokee
Christina: just say when. :-)
Me: how about right now?
Me: okay, so how have things been working at Merge in the last year, now that Arcade Fire and Spoon are really taking off?
Me: I mean, you always had great bands, but AF has to have gone beyond your wildest expectations, no?
Christina: We predicted that record would sell 12,000 copies!
Christina: so, yes, we were thrilled!
Me: which is no slouch
Me: for an indie label
Christina: it's such a crapshoot!
Christina: for sure!
Christina: It's fun to work with bands just because you love them, and then watch the success - you know?
Me: I know you guys really care about your artists--do you get bummed out when one doesn't perform up to expectations?
Christina: of course, but we just try harder to come up with new ideas.
Me: what I really meant to ask was do you take it personally?
Me: I know I do sometimes
Christina: but, honestly, I think that the day I stop getting all worked up over bad reviews and poor sales is the day I am too jaded to work this job.
Me: good attitude
Christina: there are so many great people out there who support our bands and love the music, and I just have to focus on that
Me: well, to be fair, you guys have an amazing roster
Me: it's a lot easier to love Merge records than some others!
Me: but I notice that you guys go through lulls like anybody else
Christina: haha - I am a pretty ridiculous fan! If it weren't for Lindsey (my officemate), I probably wouldn't listen to anything else.
Christina: lulls in releasing stuff?
Me: and stuff that breaks, you know, HUGE
Christina: well, but you never know about that stuff.
Christina: maybe 2006 is the year of Tenement Halls and Annie Hayden!
Me: I remember, though, that after Magnetic Fields left, one friend of mine--a real hipster snob--sniffed and was all "humph...what does Merge have now?"
Me: which is how a lot of people, esp. industry types, will judge a record label, by the big records, not the Shark Quests or East River Pipes, you know?
Christina: yes, but if a label doesn't take risks on releases that deserve to be heard, why do it at all?
Christina: don't you think 69 Love Songs was a valid risk to take?
Me: of course!
Christina: it could have been a disaster, but it wasn't.
Me: it could have been, but it I think you guys probably--rightfully--undersell yourselves on that one
Me: it was a freaking monster of a record; no denying it
Christina: it's definitely a major reason why I wanted to work here!
Christina: but so are The Rock*A*Teens!
Me: God, I love those guys
Christina: oh me too!
Christina: Lopez is a freaking genius!
Me: who do you think your most underacknowledged artists are?
Me: not from a sales perspective necessarily
Christina: hmmmm - definitely Tenement Halls!
Me: yeah, I can see it
Me: I keep waiting for people to "get" Chris's stuff, you know?
Me: Around here in ATL and ATH, people get it
Christina: and Portastatic keeps making incredible records while critics whine about Superchunk.
Christina: for sure!
Me: yeah, no doubt
Christina: it drives us all CRAZY!
Me: but everywhere else, Lopez goes underacknowledged.
Christina: it's true
Me: All Merge records get press, you know?, but it must be frustrating when people write about it, but don't get it.
Me: Hell, you guys just signed the Fanclub, who have been making great records for years, but have gone undersong since their brief press hype period
Me: I like that you stick by those kinds of artists
Me: Of course, you have to stick by Mac!
Me: But, seriously, the last Portastatic record was rock solid
Christina: I know! and the one before that, too!!!
Me: I've never disliked one
Me: Nature of Sap might be my favorite
Christina: Teenage Fanclub actually got some great press on their most recent record - it was reassuring!
Me: oh yeah they did b/c it was different
Christina: Yeah, I really think "Summer of the Shark" is my most favorite - even though "Spying on the Spies" is my favorite song!
Me: but Howdy!, Songs from a Northern Britain, these were all grea, too
Christina: Yeah, for sure, TFC crowds on this tour were full of rabid fans!
Me: I like Slow Note for a Sinking Ship the best, maybe
Me: now that I think about it
Me: this is like Merge suck-up hour!
Christina: It really is!
Me: what's the toughest part of your job?
Christina: - there's my bad grammar!
Me: and, btw, what in the heck is your job description?!
Christina: Toughest part of my job is probably keeping up with all of the tours!
Christina: Well, anything associated with a tour short of booking it is my responsibility, along with major non-comm and some commercial radio, and regional press.
Me: tour press is wayyy tough
Me: it can be harder than a national campaign sometimes
Christina: yeah, I love how visceral it is, though! I pick up a Flagpole, and there it is! Not like radio!
Me: good point
Christina: and bands appreciate it so much! I love working so closely with them.
Christina: Oh - I'm also in charge of interns.
Christina: I blocked that out.
Me: interns--the backbone of the industry
Me: it's true
Me: the suits and Harvard MBAs are the ones who make the money
Me: everyone else gets nada
Me: people think I should be driving an Escalade when they hear I'm in the music biz
Christina: Yeah, Lucas - where's your bling?
Christina: It must be buried under your ramen!
Me: one last thing
Me: we are both former college radio MDs (from the real south, I might add--MS for me, LA for you)
Christina: KLSU Foreva!
Me: I can't say the same about my old station, unfortunately
Me: we have different programming ideas, which is cool
Christina: yeah, but it's always home. haha!
Me: yeah, I guess it is
Me: I lived there for four and a half years
Me: loaded question: what do you think about college radio these days?
Christina: Still trucking along! The only thing that has changed, I think, is that kids think they will graduate and get a high powered A&R gig immediately!
Me: I've noticed that
Christina: I waited tables for soo long and started out part-time here, and never thought there was anything wrong with that, but it seems like we were the last group to be willing to endure poverty for love of music.
Christina: But, I think that despite the drama that goes on, college radio remains the final frontier of radio.
Me: I worked at DialAmerica Telemarketing for 3 years while I worked here part-time
Me: it has become very industry-ized, but when I was MD 96-98 it was crazy...post-alternative boom
Christina: I had to survive Rap-Metal
Me: I survived Nirvana rip-offs and, oh wait, that's still going on!
Me: I guess I just think that it's never as bad as people say and it was never as good as people say it was
Me: it just is college radio
Christina: and it is wonderful!
IMing With The Stars comes to us courtesy of Team Clermont.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
You are cordially invited to the Team Clermont/Go Bar Christmas Party this Saturday, December 10, 2005 at the Go Bar in Athens, GA (natch)! It is going to be THE hammjamm of the year, I think. Here's the schedule:
- 8:30 PM: Cocktail Party
- 10:00 PM: Boulevard will be playing an all-cover set!
- 11:30 PM: The Return of Klaus Nomi
- 12:00 PM: The Nutcracker Burlesque followed by Late Night Disco!