Monday, October 30, 2006

Hello Sir at CMJ


Download: Cinemechanica -- "Bruckheimer"
Download: Tiger Bear Wolf -- "Input, Output"

Hello Sir Records will be having another CMJ showcase this year. You should attend. It will be awesome. The Specs:

Thursday, November 2nd
@ The Tank - 279 Church Street
8:00 - We Versus The Shark
8:45 - Tiger Bear Wolf
9:30 - Cinemechanica
10:15 - Ho-Ag
11:00 - Megaband

Thursday, October 26, 2006

IMing With The Stars: Brian Raftery, editor of Idolator--part II


Blogger was acting funny yesterday, so I'm gonna try this again. HERE is part I of my interview with Idolator E-I-C Brian Raftery. I hope you enjoy Part II as much as Part I.

Me: so, I think some bloggers are a little turned off by your entrance onto the scene
Brian: right.
Me: old-school freelancers (not THAT old, but you get me, right?) showing up with their own blog and Gawker $$$ and big numbers
Me: and then the feud with Gerard!
Me: haha
Brian: was that a feud? i love gerard. i just want to make sure he's not nick sylvester in disguise [Editors’ Note—probably not!]
Me: ooh...do you think he is?
Me: I never thought about it
Brian: well, that's just it: we don't know who he is.
Me: I interviewed the guy and he gave his phone # as my coworker Bill's cell #
Me: that's weird
Me: and he gave his address as the White Columns here in Athens which is very strange
Brian: maybe it's some CIA shit
Me: I think it's Henry Owings
Me: Chunklet
Brian: makes sense. but why would he need to do it?
Me: don't know...'cause he's a raconteur
Brian: he never seems afraid to talk shit as henry owings
Me: yeah, true dat
Brian: i think it's someone in the music biz
Me: did I just say "true dat?" Ugh.
Brian: with a journalism degree and a frustration with the music blogs vs music mag balance of power
Me: yeah
Me: are you frustrated with it?
Brian: no, not really.
Me: I think that some of the self-importance and hubris from the blogs is deflating
Me: things are evening out
Brian: i think in five years, everyone working in the mag biz is going to need to have one foot in the blog world
Brian: i did this because it seemed like fun
Me: but do you think you are filling a void out there?
Brian: i hope so.
Brian: I think so
Brian: i feel like i'm writing a blog i would like to read every day
so that's the only gauge i have
Me: The only blog I think is similar that is big is Stereogum and yet you guys seem at odds
Brian: at odds? really?
Me: do you feel that there is an element of "I wrote for a magazine, so let me show you how it's done?"
Me: maybe a tension?
Me: maybe not
Brian: oh, lord no!
Me: hmmm...I thought I picked up on something
Me: but I can't find it
Me: so I will retract!
Brian: i meant "lord no" about the "show you how it's done" bit.
Me: Just trying to get you to sound arrogant, so I can slam you
Brian: haha
Brian: i've always liked what scott does and i think his approach is very smart and very unique
Me: I took a journalism class once
Me: kidding
Brian: ha!
Me: I mean, I did take that class
Me: made a C
Brian: ha! i know people think we're being high and mighty when we slam conflict-of-interest stuff
Brian: but honestly, if you accept advertising, you should be able to accept criticism.
Me: I think so
Brian: and there's a lot of vaguely payola-ish stuff going on
Brian: and i want the blogs to be good, not corrupt
Me: I think the blogging world has long needed-and I use this word too often but here it is-ombudsmanship
Me: and by long needed I mean, like, six months
Me: heh
Brian: sure, as long as it's fun ombudsmanship, not some NYTimes Public Editor shit
Me: sure
Brian: hey, can i take a 10-minute break? i need to post.
Me: you know what...sure
Me: this is really long
Me: haha
Me: I need a good ending
Brian: okay, when i get back i'll talk shit about nick denton.
Brian: kidding!
Brian: okay, give me five more minutes...sorry
Me: See this?
Brian: yeah, i saw that!
Brian: pretty funny
Brian: i actually don't hate CWK as much as some others do.
Me: I was meh about a few songs, but I reserve judgment until I hear the whole record
Me: but I like that The Fork is getting kind of contentious again!
Brian: yeah. i was happy the nice boys got a good review. love that record
Me: haven't heard it
Me: I wish people would send me stuff
Brian: i thought publicists got stuff sent to them all the time from other publicists
Me: I am out of the loop here in Athens
Me: maybe I should ask more?
Me: we work small unsigned bands a lot of the time
Me: not a lot of copies
Brian: i thought there was a swap between companies. hook that shit up!
Me: I don't live in NYC and hang out with the cool kids
Me: do you think the industry is too NYC swung right now?
Me: I do
Me: Is EVERY band in Brooklyn good?
Me: You'd think so!
Brian: i have no idea, to be honest.
Brian: and to be fair, a lot of people move to nyc to catch that brooklyn "buzz," a word i hate
Me: sure
Me: Animal Collective
Me: Hold Steady (sort of)
Brian: yes, yes. these are bands, yes.
Me: Animal Collective would be cooler if they were from Baltimore
Brian: they should have stayed in baltimore so they could get a song on the wire!
Me: I love the Wire
Me: maybe my favorite show ever
Me: one of 'em
Brian: it's one of the greatest things to happen to us as humans. i'm not kidding.
Me: along with Small Wonder
Brian: ha!
Me: I think so, too
Brian: well, she is fantastic, and made of plastic.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

IMing With The Stars: Brian Raftery, editor of Idolator--part I


Idolator has made some serious waves in just a few months on the job with its snarky news stories, jabs at bloggers, and irreverent takes on music news. Much like sister/parent site Gawker, Idolator carries with it a love it/hate it vibe, and I get the feeling that the editors wouldn't have it any other way. After all, controversy generates hits like Cold War Kids MP3s! But seriously, I "sat down" for an iChat with Brian Raftery, editor of Idolator to talk about some stuff. Raftery has worked for GQ, SPIN, EW, and more, so he comes with a strong publishing pedigree to the online world. We discuss this, the Wire, Gerard's identity, choosing magazine covers, the new My Chemical Romance record (he likes it...and he's not the only one!), and more in this edition of IMing With The Stars! Here's part I:

Me: hello
Brian: hey there
Me: good time?
Me: bad time?
Brian: yeah, why not?
Me: cool
Me: okay…questions
Brian: my wireless is a little spotty today, so if it knocks out, it's not like I got angry and left
Me: cool
Me: So...why Idolator? Does the world need another music site?
Me: and why leave the mild-mannered world of magazine editing?
Brian: yep. well, it needs a *good* music site.
Brian: zing!
Brian: i keed.
Brian: but the real reason why i wanted to do it
Brian: was because there are a lot of great sites, but they all have their own niches, followings, obsessions. which is great, but i think there's a need for a more general-overview music site.
Brian: for people who don't spend all day reading 3,000 blogs.
Me: a clearinghouse, perhaps?
Me: I mean, there are blogs that do that, too
Me: what about the Fork or Tiny Mix Tapes or the like?
Me: snarky news stories, etc.
Brian: Well, I think even both of those sites are very interested in indie-rock as a main pursuit.
Me: yeah
Me: sure
Brian: weirdly, i think the best magazine-world example
Brian: would be blender
Me: really?
Brian: yep. whatever people think of the magazine, they can get away with rap, hip-hop, pop, alt-rock, classic rock, reissues.
Me: yeah, I see that
Brian: they haven't niched themselves into a corner.
Me: but so does Rolling Stone, right? Or SPIN?
Me: Blender has good review writers, for sure
Me: I think people forget that
Brian: Well, yeah...I mean Christgau, Powers, Douglas Wolk all review stuff for them
Me: yeah
Brian: As for Rolling Stone and Spin
Me: but overall their tone is completely superficial to me
Brian: blender's tone?
Me: yeah
Me: and that's not a bad thing
Me: just not for me
Me: I like that catalog review section in the back, though they were way off on the Kinks
Me: Kinda Kinks one star?!
Brian: ha! well, the music-writer world will never agree on the kinks
Me: after Muswell Hillbillies I am out and you are kidding yourself if you think any of that crap is even close to good!
that's my take
Brian: "come dancing" is a great karaoke song.
Me: Ouch...you got me!
Me: Rolling Stone and SPIN, though--sidetrack!
Brian: oh yeah: rolling stone's music coverage has been beefed up in the last few years, but it's more of a lifestyle/entertainment/politics mag, whereas blender is pretty much all music.
Brian: as for spin...it's a tricky one
Brian: spin, i think, covers the alt-rock world and subcultures better than any other mag.
Me: ultragrrrl drives me crazy
Brian: their problem, i think, is that it's hard to tell what "the kids" are into anymore, and whether said kids are worth following
Me: in a bad way
Brian: well, she's not there anymore.
Me: really?
Me: she was gone and then she was back
Me: and now she's gone?
Brian: no, she hasn't worked there regularly in over a year, but
Me: I don't understand that SPIN party section
Brian: pemberton, i think, brought her in. she certainly doesn't have a recurring column or anything
Brian: the party section's a mess. and i say that as an unapologetic spin booster
Me: I thought Sia was taking it in an interesting direction, but I got that year end list and it was all My Chemical Romance vs. Fall Out Boy
Me: so a major disconnect between the readers and the writers
Me: I am a SPIN supporter, too.
Brian: yeah, the disconnect is there, but I think MCR is basically going to win all of those people over on this album
Me: Of the big 3 (Paste, Harp, etc. excepted--I mean RS, Blender, SPIN), SPIN covers our artists the most
Me: they take the most chances
Me: I mean, they reviewed Paul Duncan and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone for us
Me: MCR is good?
Brian: new one is pretty good. i wish that guy would stop some of his vocal tics, but the songs are good
Me: I have never gotten one review in Blender!
Me: Are you just saying that?
Me: c'mon
Me: are you doing one of those writer "let
Me: oops
Brian: i'm listening to it now!
Brian: fourth time today.
Me: "let's pretend that System of a Down is good" things
Me: I hate that crap
Brian: well, that "everybody going to the party" song was great! didn't like much more by them
Me: WHY cover the Red Hot Chili Peppers and even act like they make a difference now?
Brian: me, i generally like what i like
Brian: but man, I guarantee you this:
Me: everyone at big mags bemoaning the state of the industry and then they kowtow to the LCD
Me: an Idolator guarantee?
Me: I like it
Brian: the red hot chili peppers probably sold more in one week than most of the paste/harp/magnet bands sell in a year..so that's the coverage
Me: sure
Brian: in the end, big magazines have to sell every month
Me: yeah
Me: I understand that
Me: but take a few chances
Me: and Panic! at the Disco is not taking a chance
Me: I think EW and SPIN do the most
Brian: true, but there's a trick that most magazines need to do. take a Brian: look at some of those spins from the '80s
Me: I loved that mag then
Me: I grew up with it
Brian: you'll see david lee roth, michael hutchence on the cover
Me: yeah
Me: madonna, too
Brian: they would put big stars on the cover, and them--bam!--a 3,000-word piece on nick cave on the inside
Me: and then the Pooh Sticks and GBV and Sonic Youth on the inside
Me: Totally true
Brian: yep. and that's the best way to make these things work. the problem is that there are very few big, big artists who are also really cool these days
Me: haha
Me: I agree
Brian: really! i mean, who would put on the cover of spin?
Brian: or blender?
Me: Radiohead ain't even that big anymore
Me: Beck maybe?
Me: it's tough
Me: think about the Beatles
Me: top with fans, critics, press, everybody
Me: same with the Stones
Me: U2 has come close
Me: REM for a time
Me: but, yeah, in the rock world--it's problematic right now
Brian: think about how small that big-star pool is
Brian: and then consider: 12 issues a year!
Me: now I'm depressed
Brian: i'm not defending panic at the disco, but it's hard
Me: oh yeah
Brian: the truth is, magazines need to get ready to become smaller
Me: I understand that decision
Brian: just like everyone else in the biz!
Brian: but yeah, panic at the disco just sucks as a band and as a youth movement
Me: it's the equivalent of Sigue Sigue Sputnik to me, but they had Moroder!
Brian: ha!
Brian: better haircuts, too
Me: and Moogs!
Brian: ha
Me: think about the Monkees--man, they were a killer fake band
Me: our real bands seem more fake than them
Brian: well, they had carole king/etc writing for them!
Me: Porpoise Song is one of the greats
Me: hey, what was your MCR guarantee a while back?
Brian: one of the best music-movie moments ever. i love that opening of head!
Brian: oh, and the guarantee was about chili peppers outselling
Me: oh yeah
Me: you are probably right
Brian: but i do like most of this MCR record
Me: although Harp cover star Tom Petty has sold a couple of records in his day!
Me: that's good to know.
Brian: that record is pretty good

Part II tomorrow!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Paul Brill--"Don't Tell Them" video!

Mr. Paul Brill, as directed by Caperton Barnes/Barney Miller:



This is the second single from the fantastic Harpooner album after the fantastic "Paris Is On". I don't think I need to go into what an important independent artist Paul is again, but here it is: Paul Brill is one of our greatest assets, completely DIY and a guy keeps on pushing the envelope of who he is as an artist and what a singer-songwriter can and should be.

Me and Mr. P #3: Racial Tensions!


Part 3 in my ongoing series of conversations with Tiny Mix Tapes elusive editor, Mr. P. In this edition, I relate a story about some Southeast Asian kids harassing me in St. Paul in the 80s and then we have a brief discussion about the Model Minority (of which Mr. P is a member) and Asian male desexualization (Mr. P makes a good point that goes unexplored, unfortunately). I wish we had gotten a chance to finish this conversation, but Mr. P had to go eat or something. Pshaw...Asians! Always eating!

Me: Mr. P
Mr. P: and me!
Me: haha
Mr. P: you still hate me?
Me: oh yeah
Mr. P: c'mon
Mr. P: love me!
Me: haha jk lmao
Me: what does lmao mean?
Mr. P: lick my ass out
Me: really?
Mr. P: no, i'ts laughing my ass off
Me: man
Me: so obvious
Me: I never knew
Mr. P: i mean.. so i heard from internet geeks...
Me: yeah,right!
Me: so, you're asian, right?
Me: well I have a story for you
Me: one year, on Summit Ave. in St. Paul
Me: a summer
Me: I was staying with my grandparents and I went outside to ride a bike on the sidewalk in front of their rowhouse
Me: and a bunch of vietnamese or Cambodian or Laotian of Hmong kids came up to me and pushed me down
Mr. P: that is funny!
Me: and they were yelling at me and calling me a fag or something
Me: and I cried behind my grandparents' house
Mr. P: awww
Me: where I came from the Asian kids were always quiet!
Me: The Model Minority
Me: but you St. Paul thugs!
Mr. P: haha
Mr. P: you know how we do it
Me: it was such a disconnect for me, though...
Me: the stereotype of the smart, bookish Asian kid and encountering the reality of a group of Asians that has been somewhat left behind
Me: more recent Southeast Asian immigrants have it tough because everyone expects them to be so perfect
Mr. P: and southeast asians aren't quite AS model minority as japanese and chinese
Me: I think that the Model Minority Myth, even if it is a "positive" stereotype, in a manner of speaking, is still damaging insofar as it creates false behavioral expectations
Mr. P: yeah
Me: the Twin Cities has a large population of that
Me: and, at the time, St. Paul was a little "rougher"
Me: there were, apparently, Vietnamese gangs and stuff
Me: maybe there still are
Mr. P: we have one of the highest hmong populations in the US
Mr. P: but yeah, i know.. that model minority myth backfires often
Me: but I will say that the worst slum in the Twin Cities is nicer than most places in Atlanta!
Me: Do people expect you to be a certain way
Me: ?
Me: you seem quite gregarious to me
Me: but I bet in school you were supposed to be quiet, right?
Mr. P: hmmm... iwas a loud mouth
Mr. P: class clown in certain classes
Me: awesome
Mr. P: quiet in others though
Me: did teachers react differently or were they surprised?
Mr. P: i'm not sure really. i think i got a lot of slack for being chinese
Me: I mean, they should know not to trust a Marvin
Mr. P: haha
Mr. P: race came up a lot in my high school
Me: I did a lot of work in grad school on this very subject, so it interests me
Mr. P: yeah, race is a big topic for me
Me: I think Asian girls have it even worse
Mr. P: i kicked someone out of my record store who was tryign to sell shit because he said something racist
Mr. P: well, the thing with asian guys is that they're so desexualized
Me: what did he say?
Mr. P: like.. maybe ONCE in the history of u.s. TV have they shown an asian dude kissing
Me: that's why I think Sun and Jin are important on Lost
Me: because they are totally hot
Me: and the guy is hot
Me: for once
Mr. P: short story: i was flipping through his records that he was selling, and i was pulling the shit that was actulaly worth something to our store. then he's like: 'wel, you know.. you're ORIENTAL, and this is AMERICAN music from the '70s"
then he looks at me with a smirk
Mr. P: i told him i'm american

Up next...an interview with Idolator editor Brian Raftery!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hometapes @ CMJ



Download: Pattern is Movement - "In Tape Grass"(Scott Solter remix)
Download: Nick Butcher - "Minutes Overlap"
Download: The Caribbean - "First & Apple"
Download: Slaraffenland - "Shuto-Uchi"
Download: Shedding - "Rain Drops Revisited v.2"
Download: Feathers - "Skara Brain"
Download: Paul Duncan - "In A Way"

I know we say this a lot, but we absolutely adore Hometapes. They've got a pretty sweet CMJ showcase lined up this year featuring all the artists above. Come hang out with Hometapes and The 'Cropper at:

The Trash Bar
256 Grand Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY
Wednesday, November 1st
7PM

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Team Clermont @ CMJ

Download: The Little Ones - "Lovers Who Uncover"
Download: Loney, Dear - "The City, The Airport"
Download: Tall Hands - "Introduction To The Razor"

Team Clermont can be pretty hard to pin down at a music conference. We're generally running around like chickens with our heads cut off, but any interested parties can count on catching us at the event described above! Come say hello!

Team Clermont/Sub Pop/Astralwerks/Pulse Party
Friday, November 3, 2006! 2-6 PM
Arlene's Grocery, NYC
w/The Little Ones, Loney, Dear, and Tall Hands!

By the way, those babies, yeah...they'll drink you under the table. Scout's honor*

*I was not a scout, nor will there be drinking babies**
**maybe

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Scott Solter plays Pattern Is Movement - Canonic


Download: Scott Solter plays Pattern Is Movement - "Blanched and Threshed"
Download: Pattern is Movement - "Maple"

Today, we present the first song, "Blanched and Threshed", from the most recent Hometapes release, Canonic, which is Scott Solter's remix of Pattern is Movement's 2005 LP, Stowaway, and the original song, "Maple", upon which it was based. Pretty different tunes, eh? The differences between the two records are vast and impressive. Both albums are fantastic, but in a lot of ways it's difficult to associate the one with the other. I'm not really much of a remix buff, but there were several other things about this project that interested me, not least of which were the people involved.

Followers of The 'Cropper will know that we've been fans of Pattern is Movement, Scott Solter, and Hometapes for some time, so we expected to hear a quality record from the get go. Further, I thought that Solter's role as engineer/producer of, Stowaway, would make for an interesting perspective as a remixer. He had been there for almost the entirety of the original songs creation, serving as a sort of midwife for PIM, and now he had the opportunity to pull apart and dimantle the artifact he had helped to construct. Actually, the more I think about it, that last sentence comes across as too destructive to me. To be sure, there's an aspect of this record that reminds me of a more frenetic, Disintegration Loops, but the album is not one of total decay, but rather one of Frankenstein style creation. The pieces of, Stowaway, are rearranged to form a hulking, lumbering monster of a sonic collage. At times the album can be soft and gentle, particularly the last track, "The Memory Of In Or Out", but for the most part, the record is large, heavy, and crashes around both the speakers and the room with abandon. This is true to the polyrhythmic strangeness of PIM, and to the sounds of, Stowaway, which segues nicely to my final point on this record, the ascetic nature of its material.

For, Canonic, the only source materials were the sounds of, Stowaway, no additional data was added. It's a testament to the studio wizardry of Solter that he was able to manipulate those original tapes in such a way as to create such an internally consistent, yet extremely different remix record from the original. It gives me visions of a hephaestusian soundsmith wrestling with tapes in his workshop as sparks fly around in the background. This must be how vulcanized rubber first came about, no?

Habeas corpse.

By the way, as of right now, our esteemed president has effectively suspended the Great Writ. Yay! All in the spirit of compromise!

Oh, yeah. One more thing: the government--this government--can torture at will now. Fun!

Monday, October 16, 2006

IMing with the Stars: 20 Questions with Gerard, part II: #'s 12-20

So, in the second half of my interview with Gerard, things get more contentious and weirder. I think I kind of sound like a goober. Sorry about that. And Gerard comes up with a new profession, Tautologist, which is funnier than we make it seem. Oh, and Marathon Packs gets some serious love, and I decry the lack of soul blogs because I am an idiot and haven't figured out elbo.ws and Google apparently. I found a bunch after this interview. Though I'm still looking for Jeannie Reynolds and Ronnie Dyson tracks!

And Gerard still won't tell me who he is.

Anyhoo, here is the interview:

Me: #12--are you sure we haven't met in another forum? I get the feeling we know each other
Gerard: lucasjensenusa - gerard IS YOU!
Me: Maybe so
Gerard: Gerard accused of be many!
Me: #13--do you think there are more conflicts of interest in the blogging world or in the traditional MSM media? I do worry about ad sales and editorial being in the same place
Me: At the same time, bloggers aren't under the monetary pressures that mags are
Gerard: Filter, Fader/Cornerstone bigger interest conflict. some blogger make big money. Stereogum whoa!
Me: #14--You think Stereogum is in conflict? I mean, they are considerably more corporate than some, sure, but I don't get the feeling that Scott hides anything, unless I missed a memo somewhere.
Gerard: no
Gerard: stereogum make bank!
Gerard: Gerard mention stereogum for money, not interest conflict
Me: #15--do you have a list of your biggest conflict of interest people? Care to share?
Gerard: Gerard no list yet. Gerard write about some, go read!
Me: haha
Me: just trying to increase my paltry, 29 people a day hit count!
Gerard: lucasjensenusa almost big time!
Me: I'll post some Sufjan tracks
Me: wait, we work with Sufjan...score!
Gerard: someone tell gerard today think casimir pulaski day actually about boy
Gerard: maybe sufjan.....eh
Gerard: not that anything wrong with that
Me: #16--do you think blogs have gotten hubristic?
Me: I mean, just because Pitchfork added MP3s, doesn't mean the blogs are "winning" against them
Gerard: gerard think YES
Gerard: especial that point
Gerard: pitchfork not care about blog!
Gerard: calm down assholes!
Me: I love how some bloggers accused Pitchfork of biting their rhymes when it was the Fork that had been writing about music on the internet since 1996
Me: hell, half of the bloggers out there were in middle school then!
Gerard: Gerad miss old review when pitchfork review buying hot dog then be "oh and record bad!"
Me: I surfed the web with Netscape 3 back then, I think
Me: which review?
Me: that sounds funny
Gerard: no remembe exact
Me:#17--how old are you anyway? I'm 31.
Me: I feel old for some reason
Gerard: Gerard older than 20. Younger than 35.
Me: I mention bands like Superchunk and people say, "huh?"
Gerard: MAC!
Me: of course, they mention current bands and I go, huh?
Me: yeah, Mac is a major force in my life
Me: not personally
Me: but I've loved him long time
Gerard: Gerard hot bother!
Me: #18--do you think Idolator is biting your rhymes, what with their blogger ombudsmanship?
Gerard: Gerard no pay for blogging.
Gerard: maybe pay Gerard then Gerard show Idolator thing or two.
Gerard: until pay Gerard, no, Idolator more resources
Gerard: (Gerard funnier!)
Me: #19--will you ever write about any specific music?
Gerard: do lucasjensenusa want music talk from Gerard?
Me: nope
Me: just curious
Gerard: I think there are enough other blogs out there
Gerard: or not?
Me: I kind of wish there were more soul blogs
Me: there are some good ones, but still
Gerard: Gerard maybe talk little music someday.
Gerard: not all time
Gerard: not much
Me: but I mean, I know who the Numero Group is, too
Gerard: Woo!
Gerard: show Gerard lucasjensen eccentric soul!
Me: I've been looking for Ronnie Dyson lately and Jeannie Reynolds and Cyl Johnson and Lyn Collins
Me: those four in particular—only heard tracks on comps and iTunes is a bust
Gerard: Gerard want lady of canyon one from numero
Me: oh, yeah
Me: the numero group was awesome--I meant no disrespect--I really like blogs like Tuwa's Shanty and some of the 45 blogs where they hit you with stuff you don't know about
Gerard: yes.
Me: I wish I could run a blog like Marathon Packs myself
Gerard: packy smart!
Gerard: Packy no think Gerard so funny sometime.
Me: but I worry about us putting up non-legal MP3s being that we are involved in the music industry
Gerard: that must be disappointing for you
Gerard: Gerard okay with
Me: so #20...
Gerard: #20!
Me: ...who are you really?
Gerard: lucasjensenusa, Gerard is Gerard!
Me: argh
Me: tautologies drive me nuts
Gerard: Gerard is tautologist
Me: but I guess we will have to leave it at that!
Me: wow
Me: I've never thought about the profession of tautologist before
Me: "so, what do you do, Jack?"
Gerard: hard work
Gerard: no pay.
Me: "You know, what I do."
Gerard: yeah
Me: "What do you like?" "What I tend to like."
Gerard: also burgers.
Gerard: interview out!
Me: thanks, Gerard.
Gerard: yes lucasjensenusa!
Me: Why, I bet we will hit that 40 a day hit count!
Gerard: toast of town!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Inner Banks


Download: The Inner Banks -- "Acoustic"
Download: The Inner Banks -- "Siberia"
Download: The Inner Banks -- "Glittering Sky"

Wow. This is beautiful stuff, along the lines of Azure Ray, Tristeza, or Japancakes. I think this is truly one of the most stirring and altogether pleasant debut records you’ll hear this year. It’s kind of great—speaking as a publicist here—that I get to bookend the year with Gregor Samsa and The Inner Banks. That's some seriously melodious business. I think a lot of the pretty music out there is kind of facile, so it's nice to hear the movement and fluidity of this stuff, not to mention the strong sense of verticalization--C chords and G chords are always gonna be nice together, but you've gotta do something with 'em, you know? The Inner Banks have. From the fine folks that brought you The Bootleg Remedy and Folksongs for the Afterlife, the Inner Banks is sort of a combination of those bands' sensibilities: there is a slight touch of the Americana (the former) and the swooning atmospherics of the latter. Bah, I'm terrible at descriptions today. Read what these folks have to say and click on the music above.

Like I said, this is beautiful stuff.

IMing with the Stars: 20 Questions with Gerard, part I: #'s 1-11


I love MP3 blogs as much as the next guy, but everything feels too serious out there right now; it's like this new, exciting medium has aged 35 years old and turned cranky and self-serious in all of two and a half years or something. Some levity is needed, and, honestly, a good dose of ombudsmanship ain't a bad thing, either. It's always good to get a nice kick in the butt now and again to keep you honest.

Idolator has reared its head and though I like a lot of what they do, it's a pretty slick operation. For my money, there is no better rancoteur around than the broken English-speaking, third person-talking weirdo Gerard of Gerard Vs. Bear. Sure, it's too insider-y and its immaturity often feels forced, but it's funny as hell and serves the much-needed purpose of making sure people don't take themselves too seriously. It's the perfect antidote to the unfunny, mugging, pat-ourselves-on-the-back, yay-we-made-some-bands-sorta-big hipsterism of that execrable Aziz Ansari skit that everybody thought was so funny.

In this set of 20 questions, done over iChat one day, I try to ferret out Gerard's identity and start a conversation about conflicts of interest (a big pet peeve of his) and You Ain't No Picasso's butt. Who is he? Why is he here? No, really, who is he? Enjoy!

Me: hey
Me: wanna do an interview for my blog?
Gerard: yes, sure lucasjensen
Me: I must warn you that I am a publicity person, but we don't lie about it!
Gerard: gerard knows who lucasjensenusa
Me: haha
Me: I'm sure
Gerard: maybe interview clever trick
Gerard: throw scent off path to georgia
Me: GA, eh?
Me: c'mon...who you is?
Gerard: Gerard!
Me: yep...Gerard
Me: how about we play 20 questions?
Gerard: okay, go!
Gerard: Ok Go!
Me: are you vegetable, animal, or mineral?
Gerard: more animal.
Gerard: little vegetable.
Me: good. #2--are you a bear?
Gerard: NO!
Gerard: Gerard vs BEAR
Me: #3--do you live in the Southeastern United States?
Gerard: Gerard live in heart and mind of readers everywhere.
Me: #4--are you a dirty foreigner?
Gerard: Gerard bathes regular
Gerard: semi-regular.
Me: #5--do you like the band Foreigner?
Gerard: Gerard okay Foreigner.
Gerard: Journey better.
Me: tough call, to be sure
Me: #6--do you have a day job?
Gerard: Be Gerard ffull-time job!
Me: #7--have we met in person before?
Gerard: Gerard no meet lucasjensenusa
Gerard: maybe meet
Gerard: Gerard no memory for lucasjensenusa!
Me: #8--do you actually like any bloggers?
Me: besides yourself, of course
Gerard: Gerard hate self.
Gerard: no, that lie.
Gerard: Gerard like many many blogger.
Gerard: Packy smart.
Gerard: T-side Taylor Gerard friend.
Gerard: blogger chicago reader
Me: Do you like Squashed?
Me: #9?
Gerard: Gerard write more clearly than squashed!
Gerard: not enough LSD in world make Gerard taht annoying!
Gerard: INSIPIDITY!
Me: #10--are you more surprised that your questions of conflict of interest haven't really been addressed that often?
Gerard: Sadly, no.
Gerard: Jack Abramoff clear way
Me: #11--be honest, do you think we have a conflict of interest, operating this blog and cruising the elbo.ws boards and such?
Gerard: No.
Gerard: lucasjensenusa say "pr me asap!"
Gerard: all know who is lucasjensenusa!
Gerard: no secret!
Gerard: really?
Me: not all. . .
Me: I wish they did
Me: maybe I would have a band as big as [edited] or [edited]!
Gerard: haha
Gerard: then ain't picasso touch your butt a lot!
Me: he already does!
Gerard: sweet!?


Part II coming soon!

Where have we been all week?


Man, I don't know either. It's just...you get busy and you have kids and the little rugrats want Tickle Me This and Elmo Me That and before you know it you're 55 and crying 'cause your kids have gone to college and you're a tub of guts and three mortgages deep, you know?

All I'm saying is that we won't be this bad again. I promise.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

On a more serious note...


John Yoo is a soulless, creepy man who wants to suspend habeas corpus and clearly has no idea what values have made this country different from, say, China or the former Soviet Union. We are NOT torturers.

Listen to this interview (never mind the wimpy Steve Inskeep, who let the man get a pass here and there) and tell me you're glad that this guy has the president's ear. I'm not sure our administration even understands anymore what it means to be an American.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Niobe and White Hats


Download: Niobe--"Give All To Love" MP3

So, Tomlab pretty much rules the roost. This is shaping up to a banner year for them, what with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Final Fantasy, Les Georges Leningrad, and more releasing/released in 2006. Niobe's White Hats is the real capper for them. This is an odd and endlessly intriguing album. I love Joanna Newsom and Ys and everything, but I honestly think that Niobe's put out the more interesting album here (and it's quite a bit more succinct). It's just such a bizarre, undefinable listen and yet everybody I know who hears it agrees that it's great.

Who is Yvonne Cornelius/Niobe? Is she an electronic artist? Sure, there are elements of that and she did sing with Mouse on Mars once. But the term "electronic" seems pretty limiting to me. Hell, John freakin' Mellencamp had drum loops in a song of his ten years ago. I think we've come to the point where "electronic music" has thoroughly permeated the musical landscape that we need to stop defining artists in the often exclusive category. You say "electronic" to someone and they think you have to sound like Moby.

So is Niobe pop? Err, yes, but in the more traditional sense of the word "pop" and less the indie rock definition. She's a true musical omnivore, coming off as a warped Andrews Sister or long-lost descendent of a black sheep Gilberto. She's got a Nico-like chanteuse-ness, but everything is filtered through a gauzy false nostalgia that's faked for good reason. It's like cherrypicking the best from each decade of the 20th century and pulping it.

Check out this video to get a good feeling for the Niobe aesthetic: