Daily Music
Prine: Then and Now
Saturday night offers too many choices in Geezerville, with Richard Thompson and Eliza Gilkyson in the Union Ballroom, Kenny Loggins (I kid!) at the One World Theatre, Daniel Johnston as Danny & the Nightmares at the Parish, and John Prine holding down his second sold-out night at the Paramount. Personally, I'll be at the Michael Franti & Spearhead throw-down at Stubb's, but only because I've already seen Prine and Thompson countless times over the years, and Franti will bring something fresh to my folk-weary ears.

If you're a Prine fan, though, there's excitement on the horizon, in the form of a couple of upcoming releases. Shout! Factory will be releasing the DVD Live on Soundstage 1980 on March 27. It's relatively brief, at almost exactly one hour, but offers a entertaining glimpse of where Prine was musically around the time of Bruised Orange and Pink Cadillac. There's a touch more rockabilly than one might expect from Prine, as the latter album was recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, but that means a special appearance by Mr. "Red Hot" Billy Lee Riley and an enthusiastic run through "Ubangi Stomp." Of note are a couple of acoustic tracks recorded in the back yard of his boyhood home in Maywood, Ill., including a version of "Paradise" that's the definition of "getting back to one's roots." Not essential but interesting if only to prove that "alternative country" existed long before the term was coined. Prine's band combines folk and rock with pedal steel and fiddle in several obvious ways.

Not due until April 24 is Standard Songs for Average People (Oh Boy), a collection of duets with Mac Wiseman. Prine had never met the bluegrass legend - Wiseman worked with Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe in the Forties - until songwriter and producer Cowboy Jack Clement got them together. After their first meeting, they decided to make a list of songs they'd like to record - with no restrictions as to age or genre. When they compared lists, they had seven songs in common, which they saw as a sign that they should record together. The rough-hewn results are filled with spunk and compassion. They draw on old songs – some well-known, others obscure – from Bob Wills, Tom T. Hall, Kris Kristofferson, Bing Crosby, and others for a set that feels timeless and filled with love.

11:43AM Thu. Mar. 1, 2007, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

R.I.P. 'Arthur'
What started in 2002 as a magazine skewed toward underground and experimental music and politics printed in the spirit of the Sixties free press, free love rags had finally found its stride. What used to be a black-and-white publication had slowly added color over the years, and its last issue featured lengthy articles on Joanna Newsom and the history of pornography by comic artist Alan Moore. Thurston Moore and Byron Coley had a regular column, "Bull Tongue"; T-Model Ford had his own advice column; and Editor Jay Babcock's politically charged back-and-forth with Godsmack singer Sully Erna sparked immediate controversy last year. This was not Spin or Blender's flashy, tastemaking colleague. More like its anarchist brother.

Alas, Arthur Magazine is no more. At least according to Babcock. "It's been a good run on Arthur, or at least as good as I could do given the pretty difficult circumstances," he said in an e-mail. "Time to move on now; can't sit here feeling betrayed forever. That's it for me in magazines, though."

The difficult circumstances involve a financial breakdown between the Los Angeles-based Babcock and publisher/co-founder Laris Kreslins, who owns the paper's Maryland-based Lime Publishing company. Kreslins, in a posting on the magazine's Web site last Friday, said Arthur is just on "indefinite hiatus."

In addition to featuring decent writers and dissenting voices, interviews with everyone from Brian Eno to Brother JT, and fleshy pieces about the 1967 exorcism of the Pentagon or psychedelic witch doctors in Peru, Arthur was a free publication. Even if this is the end, they've still left an admirable chunk of visionary muckraking and alternative journalism. I remember the feeling during their day party at Church of the Friendly Ghost in 2005. Yes, it was during SXSW and everyone was drunk by 2pm, but whatever frequency they were working on, it certainly sounded good.

2:06PM Tue. Feb. 27, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

The Many Heads of Aaron Turner
As the founder of Hydra Head Records and the frontman and guitarist of Isis, Aaron Turner has become one of the most important figures in modern metal. Before clearing eyes and ears Wednesday at Emo's with Torche and Intronaut, Turner graces Into the Void.

Into the Void: Hydra Head Records has released or is getting ready to release a slew of killer albums: Clouds, Jesu, Zozobra, and Big Business. What’s your role like these days with the label?
Aaron Turner: Basically, I get to do what I want to do now, which is essentially A&R, for lack of a better term, and art direction, which entails overseeing all of the graphic output. I also do a good portion of the layouts and artwork myself.

ITV: How are you finding out about some of these new bands? Do you see them while on tour, or do they come to you?
AT: It really depends. Some bands have been recommended to us by people we know and trust. Some bands comprise members of bands that we have worked with in the past. Once in a rare while, we’ve chosen to work with a band based on a demo submission. Here and there along the travels of Isis, I’ve discovered a band that’s either opened for us or passed off a CD.

12:35PM Mon. Feb. 26, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

Hello/Goodbye
In the Seventies, the one artist I saw perform more than any other was David Bromberg. At the time, I was living on Long Island, and since he was immensely popular on the East Coast, I saw him more times than I can remember.

The real attraction was the mighty band he had back then, full of fiddles and horns and mandolins. Along with masters like Andy Stein, Dick Fegy, and Peter Ecklund, he would play for what seemed like hours. They would cover an amazing range of music from traditional fiddle tunes to electric blues to deep folk songs to blaring rock & roll. It was always a high point when five fiddlers would line the front of the stage, Bromberg included, and run through a medley that would just about raise the place off the ground. After a Bromberg show, you'd be in a jumble, breathless and intoxicated beyond anything that you had consumed during the evening.

Sadly, in the fall of 1980, Bromberg dissolved his band and moved to Chicago where, four years later, he graduated from the Kenneth Warren School of Violin Making. Since then he’s concentrated on crafting violins and tours infrequently, mostly as a solo act.

3:21PM Fri. Feb. 23, 2007, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

Look Into the Light Light Light Light …
If you're like me, your last interaction with a cassette involved P.M. Dawn's single “I’d Die Without You” and an overheated dashboard, so you may be reluctant to dare cross paths with such an antiquated form of recorded music ever again. Everyone knows we'll all soon have iPods the size of contact lenses.

Furniture Records, the Austin/Chicago bastion of loud, lewd, and totally crude (and whose revolving-door band policy has birthed Tuxedo Killers, Daniel Francis Doyle, Awesome Cool Dudes, and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, among others), has started a singles club which entails you listen to and appreciate a cassette.

Wait, come back! It's totally worth it. Each tape in the club (there will be six tapes in all, released every other month in 2007, all with cover designs by different artists) features varying versions of the same song: Oneida's drone masterpiece "Sheets of Easter," the 15-minute rifftastic opener from their 2002 album, Each One Teach One. The club, dubbed Sheets of Easter Everywhere, features covers by locals Dick Price; Assacre; Oh, Beast!; and Jana Hunter, as well as Jagjaguwar's Parts & Labor and the awesome Coke Dares. Recorded with all the charm of cassettes, Parts & Labor’s version, recorded by Oneida’s Hanoi Jane, is truest to the original, albeit slowed down. Assacre’s electro-wizzzard power-violence version is mind-altering, Oh, Beast! clocks in at 35 seconds with typically Oh, Beast!-y panache. But the Coke Dares might be the best, and they saved it for last.

12:08PM Fri. Feb. 23, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

Trivium's 'Crusade'
Trivium wears its influences like a badge of honor. After the infamous Bruce Dickinson/Sharon Osbourne altercation at Ozzfest 2005, the Florida-based quartet clothed itself in Iron Maiden uniforms and marched with “The Trooper” on the second stage. Two years later, the metal band is now launching a Crusade of its own.

Into the Void: I like to think of you as the Lebron James of metal. What did you try to do to up your game for The Crusade?
Matt Heafy: We just wanted to make the type of music that we wanted to listen to, regardless of whether or not it’s metal. We just did it the way we wanted to.

ITV: I spoke to Corey Beaulieu last year, and he told me that he was listening to a ton of hair metal, and I could really hear that influence creeping into the album in terms of the texture of the sound and the stadium feel.
MH: I never really got into the hair metal myself, but everybody in the band has such eclectic tastes that the record doesn’t really make sense in terms of influences. When we were writing The Crusade I was listening to Kelly Clarkson mostly and some jazz, Elton John, the Beach Boys, and Elvis Costello. Now that I’m writing again, I’m coming up with all of this really weird, technical shit on one end and heavy metal rock on the other. Our favorite bands are still Maiden, Metallica, and Pantera. It’s just kind of bizarre.

5:48PM Thu. Feb. 22, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

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Anthology Recordings Dusts Off the Early Stuff
After rewatching Revisiting Father & the Source Family, a bizarre documentary about Father Yod (formerly known as Jim Baker), a Sixties counterculture free spirit, health-food entrepreneur, and Jesus-look-alike who preached vegetarianism and orgasm-free sex to his myriad followers, I felt a little dizzy, and not just because it's two-and-a-half hours long. Actually, the most interesting part was that Father Yod had a band with several of his disciples. More interesting, their psychedelic jams were actually good. Sadly, Yod died hang-gliding in 1975 while trying to fly near the sun like Icarus. So there's that.

Thank Yod for Anthology Recordings. The all-digital reissue label, founded by Keith Abrahamsson (who also does A&R for Kemado Records, home to local boys the Sword), debuted online last fall and is another avenue for discerning, crate-digging music geeks in search acid-fried mindfucks, at a reasonable price. There's ol' Father Yod's band, Ya Ho Wha 13, and their improvisational four-song hippie jam, Penetration: An Aquarian Symphony, a truly religious experience of ungodly bellows, drumming, and droning guitar riffage. Whatever they were dropping, it's worth picking up.

Anthology has a lot more up its sleeve: It's home to Sir Lord Baltimore's 1970 Hawkwind-esque metal dish Kingdom Come, psych-dub pioneers African Head Charge, Swedish cosmonauts Pärson Sound, San Francisco's seminal Fifty Foot Hose, Gorilla Biscuits offshoot Moondog, and krautrockers My Solid Ground, among other excellent finds. Dig it.

4:26PM Tue. Feb. 20, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

Albert
Bleached by the sun
And scorched by the moon
If I make it ’til tomorrow noon I’m leaving

– Richard Meltzer/Albert Bouchard, “Death Valley Nights”

Lyrics have never been the be-all, end-all for me. Like Dee Snider said, “I wanna rock.”

That’s an oversimplification, of course. Give anyone verse after delirious verse of Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue” and it’s not really a long drop down the well to 13 epic minutes of Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Spin the tale on the donkey.

1:11PM Mon. Feb. 19, 2007, Raoul Hernandez Read More | Comment »

Machine Head: Still Pissed
While “Clenching the Fists of Dissent,” Machine Head's lead guitarist, Phil Demmel, makes his descent Into the Void to briefly discuss the band’s punishing new album, The Blackening, due March 26 on Roadrunner Records.

Into the Void: A lot of people feel like they already know what to expect from Machine Head, since the band’s been around for more than a decade now. How is The Blackening turning a new page for the group?
Phil Demmel: I really feel like it was the last record, Through the Ashes of the Empire, which really turned a new corner for Machine Head. After all of the struggles with labels and everything else, the outlook of the band became very focused and determined. This is only the second real Machine Head album as far as I’m concerned. People that think they know the band because they’ve heard Burn My Eyes or Burning Red really need to check this out, because it’s not the same.

1:00PM Fri. Feb. 16, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

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