Not a whole lot of words to share, but a lot of pictures! The last two Saturdays have been awesome. Sonny & the Sunsets, King Tuff, Magic Jake, Garret, Dirty Ghosts, Maniac, Dick Diver… and a pit bull chewing on someone’s underwear.
I packed as many of the songs off of Merge Records 25th Anniversary 7-Inch Subscription Collection “Or Thousands of Prizes” into one two hour show, while still maintaining some witty banter with guest J.FRAHM. Highlights include never-before heard tracks, alternate takes and covers from Superchunk, Lambchop, Vertical Scratchers, Redd Kross, Spoon, Ex Hex, The Clientele, and more!
I signed up for one seven-inch record a month. What I got was:
– One seven-inch record a month for a year.
– A gorgeous magnetic-sealed, metal-stamped box to store all the records in.
– A bonus 12″ EP with six current Merge roster bands covering each other.
– a CD of all the seven-inch record tracks
– A surprise mail delivery to kick things off with a special t-shirt and a bunch of stickers.
Merge only printed 1200 copies of this, and the numbers are handwritten! Along with the box set of records, the label sponsored a weekend of shows in Chapel Hill and a run for charity with Merge bands playing along the route.
In preparation for this show, I went a little overboard on the social media. Early wins – a retweet by Merge and a response via Instagram from Jason Narducy (bass player for Bob Mould, touring for Superchunk, and heading up his own band Split Single) quickly turned into me making ridiculous demands of Narducy and Bob Mould himself.
This all started because I noticed that there were two glaring omissions from the whole birthday record collection: Bob Mould and Arcade Fire. I love everything about the record collection, but it makes you wonder…
Thursday, March 5th was one of those days when everything felt right with the world, the stars were aligned, the wind was at my back, etc. For a music fan, that means your efforts to see two excellent bands playing at two separate venues on the same night works out perfectly, and you even manage to have a beer with a member of one of the bands.
First up in my cosmically-aligned evening was Hard Girls from San Jose playing – conveniently enough – around the block from my house at The Milk Bar on Haight Street, at the very convenient time of 8:30pm as the openers of a four-band bill. I love this band’s latest album on Asian Man Records so much, I added them on to my Top Five Albums of 2014, happily crowding the list past capacity. Live and on album, they are my kind of punks: the ones that eschew convention, especially punk ones. Their anthemic songs brought out the rambunctious sing-alongs from the crowd from the beginning of the set and continued throughout, keeping the atmosphere packed with positive energy. The band – completely encapsulating the term “power trio” – was crammed on stage in between their awesome array of amps (SVT and Fender cab for the bass. VOX AC30, Marshall Half[?], and something else for ONE guitar player), gloriously hoisting their guitars and bashing their drums, playing the sweat out of every tune and most crowd members. They played the hits: basically all of A Thousand Surfaces to my delight, and a couple tracks from their other recordings.
After noticing that Mike the guitar player was wearing a Guided By Voices tee-shirt, and in consideration of the great show, I offered him my last, rare Dogfish Head Brewing Company’s Beer Thousand tribute to the GBV’s landmark album. He accepted and I showed him all my GBV paraphernalia while drinking some beers around the block. My roommate tried to capture the moment. No comment on the framing.
All that and I still had ample time to grab a cab, a drink, and position myself in the crowd for Viet Cong at the Rickshaw Stop. Viet Cong’s self-titled post-punk masterpiece may stay up near the top of my favorite albums of 2015. It’s early, but I have faith this album will stay on top. Viet Cong’s album on JagJaguar makes such an impact with it’s impeccable, industrial-strength production, I did two contrary things at the same time: I attempted to manage my expectations f seeing them live, while utterly creating an image in my head of post-punk, slightly gothy dudes playing these tunes through fog lamps and minimal lighting. So when four normal-looking and -acting dudes got on stage and started playing, I have to admit to a tinge of disappointment.
Fortunately, the band underneath the production of that amazing album is tight as hell and charismatic to boot. Live, they embodied my thoughts about what I imagine a mind-blowing performance from Television in their prime would be like: Two guitars weaving hooks expertly in, out, around, and through each other. Rhythm players in lock-step on angular, head-bobbing beats. The singer/bass player [!!!] had a voice that wore some of the gravel from the road with grace, but there was also a baritone there I hadn’t picked up on the album – and reminded me in the best possible ways of Mark Lanegan.
While the first show of the night captured the youth and energy I was looking for out of both band and crowd, I felt like the crowd at The Rickshaw Stop didn’t know what to do themselves – and definitely weren’t into dancing or even aggressive head-bobbing, really. It was the only slightly disappointing aspect of the evening, but couldn’t come near crashing the pleasure of seeing both bands. And of course my wallet took a massive hit at the merch booths from both shows.
This Thursday, January 22nd – 8-10pm PST – I’m super-proud to be presenting my 2nd Annual Best of the Bay show! This special program features all San Francisco Bay Area Music, nominated by fellow local musicians.
This year, over 20 artists from Oakland, SF, and San Jose nominated over 35 recordings from 2014. Notable participants include Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams, Sonny Smith of Sonny and the Sunsets, Dave Dondero, Bart Davenport , Hot Lunch, Tom Heyman, Hard Girls , Tony Molina, Cocktails, Happy Diving, A Million Billion Dying Suns, Songs for Snakes, Peace Creep, and Doctor Popular!
There might be some surprise guests, and I will be drinking Beer Thousand – a 10% ABV Imperial Lager tribute to Guided By Voices.
This show has taken two months to put together, so tune into BFF.fm and hear some hot tracks!
I recently wrote up my favorite albums of 2014 for BFF.fm. One release I couldn’t overlook was White Reaper’s debut EP on Polyvinyl Records. Months after playing this album religiously on my show and spazzing out to it in my spare time, I got to catch up with the whole band via telephone for a recap of their Summer 2014 tour. This was definitely one of the funnest interviews I’ve conducted to date.
Last Spring, I had the opportunity to speak with Joe Casey, frontman of Detroit’s Protomartyr, the day after their record release party at PJ’s Lager House for Under Color of Official Right. Since I recently named Protomarytr’s second album to my top albums of 2014, I thought I’d revisit this interview. I don’t remember being so nervous about conducting this interview, but I totally botched the band AND album name during the introduction. Lovely.
The interview takes place around the 1:30 mark. Listen to Joe set the bar really low, right before he jumps into the Safari.
On the occasion of the 1st birthday of the Cracked Machine radio show, I’ve gone back to the beginning and put together an ALL-Ohio set of rock. I’m also joined via phone by Tim Krug of Oh Condor and Swim Diver to talk about the Brainiac reunion in Dayton, OH that happened last week at Blind Bob’s. We talk about the good cause for the reunion and why the band members and local Ohio artists got together.
Listen to the show: