Alternate Tuning

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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Monday, January 31, 2005

Pick of the Week (1/31/05)

Prolapse -- The Italian Flag (Jetset Records) 1998

I'll let William B. Swygart have the word on this one: "There’s really nothing quite like Prolapse—too complex and hefty for punk, too bold and fast (and, to be honest, fun) for shoegaze, too fucking odd for pop."

See the full review at:

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ever Wonder What My Day Job's Like?

Probably not, but if so, here's a little nugget of info:

You'll have to scroll down until you see "Signs of Intelligent Life." Obviously about me...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

New Releases This Week

It looks like a pretty good week (and just when I got my music budget under control...):

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead -- Worlds Apart (Interscope)
Lou Barlow -- Emoh (Merge)
Bright Eyes -- I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (Saddle Creek)
Bright Eyes -- Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (Saddle Creek)
Buck 65 -- This Right Here Is Buck 65 (V2)
The Chemical Brothers -- Push the Button (Astralwerks)
Destroyer -- Notorious Lightning and Other Works (Merge)
Erasure -- Nightbird (Mute)
Louis XIV -- Illegal Tender EP (Atlantic)
Low -- The Great Destroyer (Sub Pop)
M83 -- Before the Dawn Heals Us (Mute US)
Archer Prewitt -- Wilderness (Thrill Jockey)
Chris Stamey -- A Question of Temperature (Yep Roc)
Stereo Total -- Do the Bambi (Kill Rock Stars)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Pick of the Week 1/24/05

Tupac -- All Eyez on Me (Death Row) 2001

Tupac was the wrong artist at the wrong time for me. I went through a lengthy period where rap wasn't really music (let alone art), and Tupac was sort of the embodiment for me of the bitches-guns-drugs themes that pushed me even further away. Fortunately people helped me into the world of hip hop (partly through the Roots, who "you'll like -- they have jazz influences and they play their own instruments) once I got to college, but I never went back for Tupac until recently. This double-album's well worth the re-visit. Great music, and a more rounded artist than I would have expected.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Today's Music News

Michael Powell resigns as FCC chairman (NY Times).

In other news, I've just learned that U2's going to start its big tour March 28 in San Diego. The full list of dates hasn't been released yet, but Kings of Leon will be the opening act in the States. The timing's perfect for KoL, because they just took a huge leap forward with their new album, Aha Shake Heartbreak.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Tale of Two Movies

I've watched a couple music-related movies recently. The first -- Grand Theft Parsons -- was fantastic. Based on a true story, the film depicts Graham Parsons's manager's attempt to steal the artist's corpse so that, as they had vowed to do, his spirit could be released in the desert. Johnny Knoxville plays the manager; relying on Knoxville to act can be a risky proposition, but it pays off well. The film's more humorous than anything, but it does avoid falling into cliche despite the buddy/road trip feel that it has.

The second film, Songcatcher, fell flat with me, primarily because it altogether lacks subtlety. We have the prim professor-lady who learns about love and another way of living. We have the mountain people (who are not too ugly or accented or strange) who in their simplicity produce a more beautiful and pure music than anticipated. Their true folkways are juxtaposed against the intellectual tradition of the professor. The movie has some good music, but nothing astounding (and nothing as fun as O Brother's). The work of a field recorder could be an interesting film project, but it's not so well-executed here.

An Alan Lomax biopic, anyone?

For Tomorrow's Inauguration

Blood Brothers, Pretty Girls Make Graves, and IQU are staging an Anti-Inauguration ball, with proceeds to benefit charity. I like it.

In related news, here's a message you might have seen already, but I'll put it up here just in case:

From: Bill Moyers

Not One Dime Day - Jan 20, 2005

Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day," those who oppose what is happening in ourname in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases.

Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, the Post Office.... Please don't go to the mallor the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter).

Please alert your teenagers, your children, your workplace associates. This is passive resistance at its keenest and most effective, and everyone in the U.S. can participate. Do you have the courage to make an impact on this nation?

For 24 hours, please do what you can to tell our consumer-driven economy that Americans have amessage. The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. Now 1,200 brave young Americans and over 100,000 Iraqi men, women, and children havedied.

The politicians owe our troops a plan - an honorable way to come home.

There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed.

For 24 hours,nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.

Please share this email with as many people as possible.

Commercial speech must not be the only free speech in America!
With great love for our country,
Bill Moyers

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Russell Jones in The New Yorker

This week's New Yorker has a hilarious column about a different Russell Jones. A snippet:

"The conversations often unfolded this way:

"'Yo, Ol’ Dirty?'

"'No, this is not Ol’ Dirty, but you have reached Russell Jones.'

"'Oh, are you going to see him later?'"

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wovenhand Review up at Flak

I've got my first review up at Flak Magazine, on the excellent album Consider the Birds by Wovenhand. Wovenhand is Eugene Edwards from 16 Horsepower. His solo projects have a similar sound, but are more explicitly religious.

For those of you who are worried I may have lost it, I'm not a regular staff member or anything at Flak. I do enjoy it, and will probably contribute more when I have extra writing time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Best Music Scribing Awards, 2004

Jason Gross from Perfect Sound Forever has up his list of the best music writing of 2004. PopMatters' Stefan Braidwood makes the cut.

New Releases This Week

Miles Davis -- A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Columbia)
The Fiery Furnaces -- EP (Sanctuary)
Petra Haden and Bill Frisell -- Petra Haden and Bill Frisell (Sovereign Artists)
Junior Kimbrough -- Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough (Fat Possum)
Trembling Blue Stars -- Seven Autumn Flowers (Bar/None)
Various Artists -- KCRW: Sounds Eclectic 3 (Palm Pictures)

Monday, January 10, 2005

And you thought the lists were over...

Stylus has started its countdown of the 50 most important singles of the '00s. I've got one blurb up today, on the Walkmen's "The Rat." As usual, the writing is tight, the graphics are great, and the picks are debatable. Go have a look and tell me what you think. There will be 10 new singles put up each day, with each writer's full list available on Friday.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Tortured By Joy

I just watched the DVD that came with the December/January issue of The Believer. The short films vary in quality, but there are two that should be of interest to music fans. The first is the video for Lambchop's "Is a Woman." It's only okay, but I'm not a huge fan of the song, so that might have something to do with it.

The other short film, "Tortured By Joy" is 11 minutes of pure enjoyment. Directed by Henry Griffin and described as "redefining 'straight-edge hardcore,' dir. Henry Griffin, the 11-minutes come mostly in still photos with a flat voiceover. It's smart, it's hilarious, and it's about punk, so how can you go wrong? Much like the editor in The Believer, I don't really feel like I can talk about this one without giving away things I'd want to see, so I want say more. Just trust me and take a chance on this one. (And if you don't like it, you'll have a magazine and 6 other films to entertain yourself with, including "Squash," which is one of the more intense pieces I've seen in some time.)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Scandinavian Pop -- Who Am I Missing?

I friend of mine just asked me to recommend some current Scandinavian pop music. I suggested Jens Lekman, Mando Diao, the Hives, Sahara Hotnights, and Soundtrack of Our Lives. Who did I miss?

Friday, January 07, 2005

It's Over Three Minutes...

...but David Kilgour's "Today Is Gonna Be Mine" from A Feather in the Engine is an absolutely perfect pop song. It sounds like something you've heard before, but at the same time sounds utterly unique. The overlapping vocals play nicely off each other rhythmically, melodically, and thematically, as the simple repeated lyrics lift up the song. I could just about guarantee that you can improve your mood at any given time by playing this song.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Guerrilla Radio

I'm finally back to the blog after a 2-week layoff, and I'm even more out of date by talking about a book that's been out since 2002, Guerrilla Radio by Matthew Collin. I'm not the only one just getting around to it, though, as Nick Hornby discussed it in The Believer earlier this year, and Barbara had it up on Flaskaland. With those two recommendations, I decided to check it out, and now I have to give it my own support.

Collin focuses on the B92 radio station that served as a spot of resistance in Belgrad during Milosevic's regime. He gets in to both the workings of the station and the music coming out against the administration (as well as turbo-folk and other styles that were used as governmental props). It's a great look at the way the arts can be used successfully as political resistance.

I'm glad I read it because I truly have no understanding of the Yugoslavian events. Despite seeing frightening similarities between Kosovo and early stages of the Holocaust (which I was studying in-depth during my senior year of college), I never really took the time to separate the major figures and factions over there. Not that I could have done much, but I wish I had a better understanding of what was going on. Collin's book presents a lucid history, as well as a quick-reference chronology to at least help someone get started.