Thursday, January 26, 2006

Things we are sick of right now--Team Clermont goes contentious!

--The word "curate" being used in regards to bands heading up a music festival. It's not a museum. You just wrote down a bunch of bands that you liked. Look up "pretentious" in the dictionary and you get that. Don't get us wrong...we'd love to "curate" a music festival. But you know what we'd call it? "Booking" a music festival.

--The positive feedback loop of hype surrounding We Are Scientists (and the Editors and Morningwood, for that matter). Half of the buzz surrounding these bands is about whether or not they are worthy of the buzz! Let's stop debating buzzworthiness and start debating whether or not these bands are actually, objectively good. The answer: anybody out there remember Menswe@r?

--Pitchfork bashing. We all know that they're the big dogs and everything, and, sure, they wield a lot of power. But we think that they're half as snarky as they used to be (Brent DiCrescenzo, anyone?) and are writing better reviews. They only really put out one or two slams a month. You never hear anyone bashing Tiny Mix Tapes or Stylus (and we like both sites by the way), but they are ten times snarkier and record-trashing. Pitchfork bashing is boring and tiresome.

--Steve Martin needs to stop stinking. That Pink Panther remake looks ridiculous, never mind the fact that Inspector Clouseau was a supporting character in the original. One would have hoped that the financial misfortunes of the ill-conceived Sgt. Bilko remake would have given the wily banjo player a hint. Guess not.

--Team Clermont. Who do they think they are? We hate that slouchy one with the glasses.

Man, it feels good to get that off our chests.

Monday, January 23, 2006

IMing With The Stars: McKenzie Smith from Midlake

Wow. Has it been almost two years since Denton, TX combo Midlake's stellar Bamnan and Slivercork came out to almost uniform critical praise and the huzzahs of one Jason Lee? Well, they've got a new one on the way, the enigmatically titled The Trials of Van Occupanther and Stereogum has this link up today for a new song, "Roscoe", which sounds like a lost song from Rumours which ain't a bad thing. I like to see a band change horses midstream, especially when they are citing Jackson Browne and F. Mac as influences!

Anyway, McKenzie Smith, the drummer in the band and second from the left in the picture, is a great guy and bears more than a passing resemblance to Elijah Wood, former hobbit. It was McKenzie's birthday, so at a Mae Shi show, Bill from Team C. went to wish him a happy birthday. Only it wasn't McKenzie. It was Elijah Wood surrounded by a bunch of good-looking ladies. And instead of saying "Holy cow! Elijah Wood!", Bill just shrugged and said, "Sorry, man, I thought you were somebody I knew" and walked away. Elijah Wood looked dumbfounded and maybe a little disappointed that Bill didn't want an autograph or anything. But Bill really wanted to talk to the real Star, McKenzie Smith. Good times.

In this edition of IMing With The Stars, our own Jon Polk talks to McKenzie about the new album, teaching drums to kids, Lynne Cheney, and how awesome Team Clermont is (what?! he said it!). Check it out:

Jon: what's up?
Jon: i thought I saw you trying to im me?
McKenzie: just now
McKenzie: whats up man
Jon: oh you know, workin' a half day on MLK
Jon: you?
Jon: did you seem John Vanderslice name check you guys on Pitchfork the other day?
McKenzie: yes, that was awesome
McKenzie: he is a good dude
Jon: indeed
Jon: so, what's up with ya?
McKenzie: man, a lot!
McKenzie: busy rehearsinfg
McKenzie: getting ready for the next year~!
Jon: congrats on the Lips show at South by
Jon: that's gonna be hot
McKenzie: oh cool
McKenzie: where did you hear that/
Jon: e pulido
Jon: world's fair showcase at austin right?
McKenzie: indeed
Jon: so, when you gonna let me hear this new material?
McKenzie: ha
McKenzie: i casn show you stuff at sxsw
McKenzie: but cannot give to you
McKenzie: band promise
Jon: fair enough, i'm just antsy for the new
McKenzie: ha, its different
Jon: how's work going for you these days?
McKenzie: man, great...teachin them little kids
McKenzie: its fun
Jon: i'll bet. especially drums
McKenzie: yeah, i teach little kids music history
Jon: really, starting when?
Jon: like classical and whatnot?
McKenzie: yes
McKenzie: kindergarten
McKenzie: through 4th
McKenzie: then i teach drums to 5th through 12th
Jon: is this through a school or private lesssons? I know i've asked you this before, sorry for the repeat
McKenzie: school
McKenzie: and private lessons
Jon: school for the history part and the drumming is lessons? or both?
Jon: ah, that last sentence didn't make sense
Jon: are the drumming lessons private or are they school sponsored too?
McKenzie: i am an assistant band director that works with all the drummers at school, then after school, i teach private lessons
Jon: right.
Jon: you should put all your kids on one of your records
Jon: have one track with like 16 drummers or something
McKenzie: haha, that would be great
Jon: so, back to the rehearsing
Jon: are you guys headin' out for some shows soon?
McKenzie: march, one in dallas with mates of state
McKenzie: then, sxsw
McKenzie: then....maybe europe in april or may
McKenzie: then some touring in the states
McKenzie: maybe summer, but for sure in the fall
Jon: good deal, so then eveyrone in the band has come around to the idea of touring then?
McKenzie: well...we always wanted to and knew we had to...its just been a matter of the right tour, the right time
McKenzie: it is scary for us with the secure jobs
McKenzie: etc
Jon: sure thing, makes a lot of sense
McKenzie: so, lets hope that this year things work out well
Jon: at the same time, i'd really love to see you guys tour around the states more
McKenzie: how is team clermont doing?
McKenzie: we will for sure
McKenzie: that is a definite
Jon: team c. is cracking away like always
Jon: we're staying busy here in the publicity department
Jon: lucas and i have been working together now for over two years, so we've gotten ourselves in a pretty good groove
McKenzie: awesome
McKenzie: thats great, you guys rule
Jon: went out with Lucas's band this past weekend to BHam and Louisville
Jon: your too kind
McKenzie: i wonder what bella is gonna want to do in that regards this time
Jon: well, we've got our fingers crossed
Jon: I put in a proposal for it.
McKenzie: i think he was planning to use you guys for something, not sure what yet
Jon: tried to highlight that we worked the first one, have kept up the relationship, etc.
Jon: one way or the other, i expect you guys to do really well this time around
McKenzie: im not surer what the worlds fair folks want to do, but i guess we will be talking about all of that very soon
Jon: well, hey put in a good word, eh?
Jon: just kidding (sort of)
McKenzie: for sure man, i will indeed
Jon: remember, if you're new record sounds like Fleetwood Mac, nobody likes Fleetwood Mac like Team C
McKenzie: ha!
Jon: I can't remember what were the other points of reference you gave for this new one?
McKenzie: ha, hmmm
McKenzie: i would say the infuences, not sure what else is sounds like...maybe some CSNY
McKenzie: crosby, stills, nash and young
McKenzie: maybe some america
McKenzie: neil young
McKenzie: bread
McKenzie: joni mitchell
Jon: so, that's definitely a bit of a departure.
Jon: from the last one
McKenzie: indeed...but still midlakey some how
Jon: are the keyboards still as prominently featured on this one?
Jon: i'm just trying to wrap my head around a joni mitchell, neil youngy, bread-like Midlake record
McKenzie: well...thats the thing..there is hardly any keyboards on it
McKenzie: tons of piano, elec guitar
McKenzie: acoustic guitar
McKenzie: and BGV's!
Jon: nice
Jon: so, one other thing we've been doing at team c press is a blog
Jon: there's a feature on it called 'iming with the stars'
McKenzie: ha
Jon: do you wanna be on it?
McKenzie: sure thing
Jon: your interview could be read by up to 12 people
McKenzie: ha
McKenzie: does the team c site not get much traffic?
McKenzie: do you guys have a myspace?
Jon: yeah, fool. you guys are our 'friends'
Jon: the site gets some traffice
Jon: we posted a post entitled "naked pictures of lynne cheney" with the hopes of getting a classier readership
Jon: that helped
McKenzie: who is lynne cheney?
Jon: Why our Vice-President's lovely wife
McKenzie: ha
McKenzie: is she hot?
Jon: not at all
McKenzie: haha
McKenzie: thats awesome
Jon: so, I'm gonna go get some food now, but it's been good talking to you.
McKenzie: indeed, i am asking you to be my friend
McKenzie: or team clermonty
McKenzie: do you have a page?
Jon: yeah, i'll find you
Jon: i haven't set mine to a usable url
Jon: it's still all numbers and the like
McKenzie: k
Jon: so, you keep those kids a drumming. i'll send you a link when the 'iming with the stars' is up and you're a star
McKenzie: my name is mckenzie smith
McKenzie: coo
McKenzie: later man
Jon: see ya

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Heros Severum--one of Athens' most ambitious bands

Photo by Brian McCall

Download: Heros Severum -- "Dear Fearless Leader"
Download: Heros Severum -- "Tugawar"

Heros Severum is quite possibly Athens' most ambitious band. Even in the really early days, when one of my bands was sharing a practice space with them, I knew they had something going on that was different and interesting. It's really hard to put my finger on what this band sounds like, and, let me tell you, that's a good thing in this business. Imagine the jagged energy of Fugazi combined with the oddball and eclectic compositional skill of Sly and the Family Stone and some of the lyrical obliqueness of Pavement. But that's not a great description. All I can tell you is that this bass-less wonder is a dynamite live act and have put out Plague Dogs, one of the most compelling releases I've heard in some time. Where else can you hear hand claps and doo-wop backing vocals over shredding postrock? There's a fearlessness there that's admirable and even a little scary.

Flagpole Magazine had this to say when they named Plague Dogs one of the top ten Athens records of 2005 (even though the record releases in 2006!):

If the fine folks in Heros Severum ever wanted to grow out of their spot as critical and cult darlings, Plague Dogs won’t help their case. It’s a challenging, weird and remarkable recording, destined to be discovered and appreciated by musicians for its ambitious take on punk and post-rock.

I think Flagpole is selling Heros Severum quite short, but they are right about it being a remarkable recording.

Another hi-quality act brought to you by Team Clermont!


Download: Meredith Bragg and the Terminals -- "Talk Me Down" [radio edit]
Download: Meredith Bragg and the Terminals -- "Before the Storm"
Download: Meredith Bragg and the Terminals -- "My Only Enemy" (real media)
Download: Meredith Bragg and the Terminals -- "Work and Winter"

Meredith Bragg and the Terminals is/are (I never know if bands are singular or plural) the Band of the Day today, which means that you should rush over there and vote for Meredith and co., giving them a well-deserved A+. Why? Because Meredith is one of the most exciting new artists to come around in quite some time. His new EP, The Departures, comes on the heels of June 2005's critically-lauded debut LP, Vol. 1 (always with the Terminals, I might add).

Vol. 1 was a stunning collection of indie-folk that was often compared to Elliott Smith and Ben Gibbard (dude can't help how he sings, alright?) but was really its own thing when taken as a whole. In fact, there's a spooky undercurrent to a lot of the tunes (listen to "My Only Enemy") and a greater knack for keeping things concise than the aforementioned two. I think he also is taking more production chances (especially with the new EP) than similar artists. He's the real deal, I tell ya.

On a personal note, I can vouch for the fact that Meredith is one of the nicest folks I have ever met. I also got to play drums for him, which was a blast, but, alas, I'm no Terminal.

Another sabremetric spreadsheet brought to you by the bean-counters at Team Clermont.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

IMing With The Stars: Owen Ashworth from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's forthcoming LP, Etiquette, is the most diverse and complete collection of songs (in this writer's humble opinion) leader Owen Ashworth has recorded. There's pedal steel, female vocals, real drums...the works! And the lyrics are no slouch, though that has always been Ashworth's strongest suit. In this funny and strange interview, we talk about the new album, flute choirs (and "the chior"), the guitarist from Faith No More, and t-shirt sizes. Let the overlapping conversations begin:

Me: oh, do you have time to do the interview?
Owen Ashworth: sure. i have to head out in a half hour or so, but i can do it now
Me: that's awesome
Me: okay
Me: no one has heard the record yet, but I think that Etiquette is a great leap forward for Casiotone
Me: not that your old records were crap
Me: but you know what I mean.
Me: There is a more "diverse instrumental palette" at work here
Me: or am I wrong?
Owen Ashworth: yeah. i tried really hard to keep anyone else's ideas out of the previous records. i intentionally limited the arrangements. i don't think i really trusted myself as a songwriter yet.
Owen Ashworth: then i realized that i'm rad and decided i wanted the arrangements to reflect that radness to the maximum.
Me: "to the max," perhaps?
Me: well, you should know that the pedal steel makes everything sound better
Me: and it does on Nashville Parthenon
Owen Ashworth: yes. the new record is way more to the max than anything i've done before
Owen Ashworth: yeah. and seven pedal steels sound even better
Me: I love that we are talking about a record that no one has heard yet
Owen Ashworth: that's right, seven tracks of pedal steel.
Me: really?
Me: seven?
Owen Ashworth: oh, we should talk about the flute chior.
Me: haha
Owen Ashworth: is it choir? choir.
Owen Ashworth: again, seven tracks of flutes!
Me: the chior has an armor class of 3D+2
Me: the entire record seems to work in sevens--do you believe in astrology?
Owen Ashworth: it's all the same flautist, but still. seven tracks.
Owen Ashworth: i'm actually really OCD about even numbers
Me: really?
Owen Ashworth: that's how you can tell that someone else named my band, because i enver would have chosen a band name with an odd number of letters
Owen Ashworth: IMs are embarassing because i'm not a very good typer
Me: don't worry about it
Owen Ashworth: anyway, that's why the titles of the records have always been an odd number of letters
Me: I will preserve the integrity of all of your typing to haunt you in perpituity
Owen Ashworth: to even out the band name
Owen Ashworth: @#$%ing sick, huh?
Owen Ashworth: there's a typo in the etiquette booklet. i'm so bummed.
Owen Ashworth: that's my third typo from switching from handwriting to type. that's what i get for trusting computers.
Owen Ashworth: this is a good interview.
Me: sorry
Me: I had to run away for a second for a weird question
Me: so...who are your least important influences?
Me: mine is probably Creed
Me: I don't want to reveal your typo to the world
Me: no one would have noticed!
Owen Ashworth: does that mean who hasn't been an influence at all, or who has actually had the smallest amount of influence, but was still influential?
Me: Well, I meant the person/artist you would least like to be compared to, but I like your perception of it as well
Me: Like I'm influenced by Can a lot, but nothing I do sounds like Can
Me: but, no, if someone compared my art to someone like Creed. Blech!
Owen Ashworth: i wouldn't be able to answer that honestly without getting myself in big trouble.
Me: hahaha
Me: I bet you get a lot of Magnetic Fields, huh?
Owen Ashworth: small trouble.
Owen Ashworth: yes. i like the magnetic fields, though
Me: yeah, not a bad comparison, but it's slightly lazy in my opinion as your lyrics are far more narrative
Owen Ashworth: but i will be glad when people can mention the name of my band without immediately mentioning magnetic fields
Owen Ashworth: we have different stylez. dude is great, though.
Owen Ashworth: dude owns property.
Me: I think of your lyrics as being more in the vein of a Mountain Goats or J. Vanderslice or something: fairly vulnerable and honest
Owen Ashworth: my songs are full of lies, lucas.
Me: but Steve Merritt hides behind facades and such
Me: well, of course they are
Me: I was really disappointed in high school when I found out that Robert Smith was--presumably--happily married
Owen Ashworth: oh you'll be happy to know that i really am the most depressed person in the world
Me: that's great!
Me: I'm glad you're not a fraud
Owen Ashworth: well, i consider myself a fraud
Owen Ashworth: but that's probably only a result of my crippling self-loathing.
Me: maybe you're just dehydrated
Owen Ashworth: well, i do drink an awful lot of alcohol.
Me: it happens, to be sure
Owen Ashworth: we're going to a very dark place
Owen Ashworth: :-)
Owen Ashworth: :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
Me: I love the embarrassed smiley
Me: :-[
Owen Ashworth: see, there are six happy faces. i didn't feel comfortable with just having the one
Me: I feel dirty when I use it
Owen Ashworth: 8-) [ed. note: this represents that “Joe Cool” sunglasses AIM smiley]
Owen Ashworth: i like that guy a lot
Owen Ashworth: he's so mellow
Me: that sunglasses one seems so outdated, though, like Spuds McKenzie or something
Owen Ashworth: you can't see it, but he's totally doing a pepsi cool summer hand thing just out of frame
Me: yeah
Owen Ashworth: i think sunglasses are forever. like, literally forever
Me: yeah, well, they are functional AND stylish
Owen Ashworth: who's the coolest guy on star trek next generation? it's the reading rainbow guy.
Me: my coworker Jon has a hot pair of Raybans
Me: Gordy LaForge (sp?) played by Levar Burton
Owen Ashworth: i don't wear sunglasses because i wear regular glasses
Me: I have sunglasses of my regular glasses
Owen Ashworth: sometimes when i'm driving i wear sunglasses over my regular glasses like i play guitar for faith no more
Me: you are the new, um, Roddy Bottom
Me: wait--he played keyboards
Owen Ashworth: i can't imagine carrying around a whole extra pair of glasses just in case it gets sunny
Owen Ashworth: yeah. i think the guitar player was named jim something
Owen Ashworth: that guy had the most severe hair part i've ever seen. that guy was not casual about anything he did
Owen Ashworth: eye protection, personal grooming, guitar soloing, etc
Me: he was really laying it out there
Owen Ashworth: he is like the total opposite of 8-)
Me: my wife says to say that you are hot at -------- High School in --------, GA
Owen Ashworth: it kind of worries me when really young people like casiotone
Me: why?
Me: they are 17 and 18
Owen Ashworth: it's too sad for minors.
Me: they are full of angst, though
Owen Ashworth: i guess that's okay.
Owen Ashworth: i once accidentally got a few youth smalls with a t-shirt order
Owen Ashworth: i have a few real shrimpy friends who were pretty excited about it
Owen Ashworth: but someone bought one for their toddler
Owen Ashworth: i thought that was kind of @#$%ed.
Owen Ashworth: have you seen those misfits onesies they have at hot topic? i kind of love those.
Me: I remember talking to Jeff from the band Idaho and he said that he never bothered buying girl t-shirts because all of his fans were sort of loners, single, over 30
Me: he just bought large and extra large
Me: I took a real hard look in the mirror after that conversation
Me: Hot Topic is ludicrous and amazing at the same time
Owen Ashworth: my brother makes metal and hardcore and noise and stuff and he pretty much only sells XL
Me: Anarchy symbol sneakers!
Me: that's the standard issue metal length…XL
Owen Ashworth: i have small woman appeal. who would have guessed?
Me: that's great, right?
Owen Ashworth: sure?
Me: I have to go so we can continue at another that cool?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Listing Ship band of the day

Check it:

The friendly people over at have declared today, January 5th, 2006 to be Listing Ship day. That's right, our friends from Silver Lake are band of the day. You can can vote on each Band of the Day when you click through to read the whole feature. Based on reader voting, they're starting to award Band of the Month, and ultimately a Band of the Year. Democracy in action, do you part by going here: Listing Ship

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

This Is How We Do

We're back in the saddle here at The Cropper. If you didn't already know, we're gonna rock '06 just about as hard as we rocked '05. Stay tuned for more awesomeness.