News from 2006
Beachwood Sparks Feature on MusicToday.com
With me, Anna Woolverton, clod fingers.
THIS MONTH: Barrels of Monkeys.
Why don’t computers tell you when they detect a problem and then fix it? My computer bosses me around all day and then suddenly it’s tits-up in the reservoir. Some joggers found it (it’s always the healthy people who find the deadest, have you ever noticed that?), and called the authorities. My computer was in full rigor when they got there, having shuffled off this mortal coil in the preceding 12 hours. The bloating was not a lovely sight. Either that, or I’ve been watching MSNBC too much again. I get all confused. However, an autopsy on my bloody computer would be welcomed. Anyone? Gloves please, this is not India you know.
The August band of the hour is the hippity hoppity ZEN GUERRILLA, with their new record Shadows On the Sun, coming to you August 21. Again, as in the last record Trance…, the band worked with producer Jack Endino, and it’s the most complex effort from Zen Guerrilla to date. Less reliant on obscurant effects, singer Marcus Durant’s vocals see the light of day in an unprecedented fashion, revealing the post-apocalyptic Otis Redding lurking under there. So, that makes me feel better to know that other people have lurking Otis Reddings too. I mean, I thought it was just me. Has anyone got a Steve McQueen too? Uh…yeah, so Zen Guerrilla, one foot in the Stones, the Kinks and Led Zeppelin, the other rooted in the Ohio Players, the Stylistics and the Temptations. May I please suggest you pick up this record today?
Also in the quasar for August 21, HEATHER DUBY ELEMENTAL, Heather’s follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut Post to Wire. Teaming up once again with Reggie Watts and STEVE FISK, the self-titled record documents Heather’s vocal and song-writing abilities in creating aural techno-scapes with her ethereal and sultry singing style. Constantly pushing the boundaries of improvised electronics, on stage Elemental conjures an eclectic lab experiment in sound mixing the roots of drum and bass, dub, breakbeat and jazz. The first results of this innovative collaborative effort of Heather Duby and Elemental are found with this record.
Miss Duby herself also contributed a Kinks song “The Way Love Used to Be”, for Give the People What We Want, a Kinks compilation heading your way this fall. Also contributing, Kinks fans: C-Average, Young Fresh Fellows, MARK LANEGAN, MUDHONEY, the Fallouts, THE MURDER CITY DEVILS, LOVE AS LAUGHTER, THE FASTBACKS, THE MAKERS, THE BRIEFS, John Auer, the Minus-5, and more. Let me just add that there is really nothing quite as nice as a Kinks song, you know. And voila, some of my favorites playing some of my favorites! I just have to squeal with delight if it’s all the same to you.
The aforementioned Steve Fisk joins in a workshop and panel discussion, August 2, 7:00-9:00 PM at the EXPERIENCE MUSIC PROJECT JBL Theater, aptly named The Past, Present, and the Future of Electronic Music. Steve recently did a speaking engagement at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party, which I might have attended if one didn’t have to park five miles away from “the block”. If your personal toily is all the way across town, it ain’t your block, honey. But on the other hand, some people just like to celebrate any old block around, even if you can’t bring yourself to it because you grew up there when it was the block of pizza and root beer, and the sight of the ice-cream dropping incident. Oh, and also Mudhoney played the block until crowd surfing ensued.
Just so you know, Sub Pop recording artists VUE are taking rock back toward sex rather than it’s current alliance with violence, but more in a “just fuck, don’t fight” way, than in a “make love not war” way, just so you know. Expect a rowdy, randy killer of a record coming from Vue in September. I have heard it and it’s pretty super good.
And Hey, guess what? THE BEACHWOOD SPARKS will be opening most dates on an up-coming Black Crowes tour, which begins in Fargo, ND on August 26. The two bands will be hauling the Christmas lights and old Persian rugs to only a select number of the shows. I’m kidding of course.
That’s me, big kidder. It’s back to fighting the worm for me, so bye to you losers! Annnaw@subpop.com
Trembling Blue Stars is the current project of Bob Wratten, former singer, songwriter and guitarist of The Field Mice and Northern Picture Library.
Whilst consistently writing perfectly formed pop songs, with exquisitely wrought lyrics that have broken hearts from Tokyo to Tacoma, Bob’s never been afraid to experiment, even at the risk of annoying stuck-in-the-mud indie deadheads who still insist that every track should be based ‘round a gently jangling guitar and a girl with a tambourine. Indeed, TBS’s second album was once dismissed disparagingly on internet message-boards by infuriated former fans as "techno garbage,” something which still mystifies Bob, who’s always regarded a sequencer as just as vital an instrument as a Rickenbacker 12-string. Which is why both feature heavily on Alive to Every Smile.
Since the last album, Trembling Blue Stars’ line-up has undergone something of a transformation. Bassist Michael Hiscock has moved back to France, his place being taken by Keris Howard, former singer/songwriter with Sarah Records band Brighter – Keris also has his own solo-project, Harper Lee, who record for Matinee Records. Vocalist Annemari Davies, meanwhile, has made way for Beth Arzy, who’s recently relocated to West London after gaining underground notoriety with Los Angeles pop-trio Aberdeen (also former Sarah artistes). In addition, the band now features Jonathan Akerman on drums and Harvey Williams on guitar and keyboards – Harvey played alongside Bob in The Field Mice, and has appeared with Trembling Blue Stars both live and in the studio over the years. He also had his own band on Sarah, the ironically monikered Another Sunny Day.
To support Alive to Every Smile Bob and his full band will be performing the select US dates below which mark the first US tour for Trembling Blue Stars:
2001-11-02 The Earl Atlanta GA w/ Elf Power2001-11-03 Cats Cradle Carrboro NC w/ Death Cab For Cutie
2001-11-04 Metro Café Washington DC
2001-11-05 Middle East Cambridge MA
2001-11-06 Mercury Lounge New York NY
2001-11-08 Khyber Pass Philadelphia PA w/ Mercury Program
2001-11-09 Grog Shop Cleveland Heights OH
2001-11-10 Schubas Chicago IL
2001-11-12 7th St Entry Minneapolis MN w/ Spectrum
2001-11-15 Crocodile Cafe Seattle WA
2001-11-16 Dantes Portland OR
2001-11-17 Great American Music Hall San Francisco CA w/ Death Cab For Cutie
2001-11-18 Spaceland Los Angeles CA
To learn more about this great album and to download an MP3 visit the release website:
Yo-Yos on Rolling Stone Online
PROFILED: Pleasure Forever
Andrew Rothbard, Joshua Hughes and Dave Clifford
EASE OF MOTION: Well it was Sub Pop Anniversary Day, the annual day we have our party slash show, so when these guys came in, the office was hopping. Therefore, I did not ferociously eyeball the band’s entrance. Plus they huddled around in a slouchy pile for the duration of their stay, which makes it difficult to really scope out someone’s ability to walk.
ATTITUDE: As always, the band was nice and did not demand quarters from me. Parking meters and candy machines immediately confuse the herd; which gives me the opportunity to scrutinize every little detail and also take the opportunity to inhale deeply the stench of rock stardom.
APPEARANCE: I didn’t stare, god. They looked rather like they had slept in their clothes. And, although charming – there was a slight oiliness and pallor about them that seemed somehow diabolical. Deliberate? Hard to say.
STINKINESS: Pleasure Forever did not get within huffing range, but I’m reasonably sure the band smelled fair to midland with undertones of hangover.
P&Q: Very polite, no hat wearing was done inside, unless that wasn’t actually someone’s hair. I did not take the opportunity to check the band for proper serviette usage. They drank some tea and coffee.
GIFTS: Again, no gifts. I should just give up on getting any gifts. Why would I? No one thinks about these things on the way to the office. I should have known better. A mere rock from rock people is really not asking for very much. Any one of them could just hang out of the van and grab me a pebble. Geez.
FLAG: Wave it high with pride. Looking non-plussed is good.
ENTOURAGE: It’s quite possible that they were each other’s entourage, because they didn’t bring additional dirtbags with them, sadly.
SPAZZINESS: Pleasure Forever was most un-spazzy. They weren’t even festive for such pleasured people. I think they must have been tired.
FINAL GRADE: I give them a B. I wrote it down with a big red pencil. B for bedazzling!