Monthly Archives: April 2013

Stealth Not There Show Tonight at Hot Cat

Not There hits the stage at Midnight. Open bar Tsing Taos. People get ready.


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The iPhone Blues: April 22nd

Wherein I load 7 albums on my iPhone, listen to them for a week, and write something about each record.


Artist: Alice Coltrane

Album: Journey in Satchidananda

Comments: A meditation on life and death. Pharaoh Saunders. Harp. Om. A deep record, you should listen to it late at night.


Artist: Brian Eno

Album: Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy

Comments: Art-punk before punk existed, Eno used a deck of cards called Oblique Strategies to mimick the randomizing effect of the I Ching. The results are weird, moving and incredibly influential. Repetition is a form of change.


Artist: Dr. John

Album: The Sun, Moon and Herbs

Comments: Gris Gris. Voodoo. Funk. Death and magic lurking everywhere. A criminally underrated Dr. John record. Zu Zu Mamou might be the most terrifying thing ever, in a very good way.


Artist: James Blake

Album: Overgrown

Comments: No one else sounds like James Blake. You can trace his influences–Burial, R&B, Gospel–but Blake somehow blends them into something way more interesting than “spot the influences.” Overgrown is close to a perfect album. It has 9 songs that are basically a window into Blake’s bittersweet head-space. But (and this is a big but) Overgrown is marred by the absolutely horrendous RZA collaboration “Take a Fall for Me.” It is hard to over-state how terrible this song is. It weighs down Overgrown like sack of rotting potatoes, damning the entire record. Deleting it from iTunes doesn’t help either, because you still know it exists.


Artist: STS 9

Album: NYE.ATL.08

Comments: I like STS9 a lot but this record is missing something. It’s culled from a New Year’s Eve run, but it lacks the narrative of a good STS 9 show. I highly recommend downloading an STS9 show from either the band’s website or


Artist: Stuart Duncan, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma

Album: The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Comments: Since leaving pop bluegrass favorites Nickel Creek, Chris Thile has been concocting a strange fusion of Bluegrass and Classical Music with his band the Punch Brothers. The Punch Brothers records are close to good, but show their seems a little bit too much. The Goat Rodeo Sessions, however, represents a seamless blending of the American Folk tradition and Baroque romanticism. This is a great a record for a Sunday afternoon if you have a very, very intellectual front porch to sit on.


Artist: Tom Waits

Album: Glitter and Doom (Live)

Comments: It turns out a circa 2009 Tom Waits show is basically a freaked-out, lysergic blues revival carnival. The band is super tight and Waits is “in good voice.”  This is definitely not a “greatest hits live!” album, it’s like a post-card from the road. If you like Tom Waits, you’ll like Glitter and Doom. If you aren’t sure, this probably won’t help you make up your mind.

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Why Don’t You Sing?

Well, first of all we sing sometimes. But, we do it through machines that make us less/more human.

And its not that we have nothing to say.

But usually words are just too vague and used up.

The point is to be subjective, not to instruct.

Who are we to decide what something means (?)

There are no words that

= love

= dissent

= regret

= peace

= silence

= truth

do not equal symbols.

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the iPhone Blues: April 15th

7 days, 7 albums loaded onto my iPhone. Here’s what I listened to and what I have to say about it.


Artist: Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Review

Album: Live 1975, the Rolling Thunder Review

Comments: For me, the best part of this record is Rob Stoner’s bass playing. The pocket is huge and he is tirelessly inventive, turning the basic structures of most of Dylan’s songs into a strange canvass for melodic bass playing. Scarlet Rivera’s violin playing is also melodic and biting, giving most of the gig a similar feel to Dylan’s other 1975 masterpiece “Desire.” Dylan isn’t in great voice but he brings a lot of energy to the table. Live 1975 is a treat for Dylan fans but its not for everyone.


Artist: David Bowie

Album: Young Americans

Comments: A Philly Soul rock record, there aren’t many of these. Somehow, the Thin White Duke pulls it off, intricate MSFB arrangements stacked against dystopian lyrics about the pitfalls of fame. Philly Soul had a short run, with disco quickly supplanting it as pop music’s flavor of the week, but it’s a shame more artists haven’t looked to the genre for inspiration.


Artist: Flower Travellin’ Band

Album: Flower Travellin’ Band

Comments: The Flower Travellin’ Band are a Japanese psychedelic rock band from the 70s (?). I don’t have a ton of info about them, but their music is an apolcalyptic combination of heavy riffs, banging drums and fiery guitars. Fans of Black Sabbath should check them out.


Artist: Fuck Buttons

Album: Tarot Sport

Comments: I liked this album a lot when it was released in 2009, but I couldn’t really get into it last week.


Artist: Miguel

Album: Kaleidoscope Dream

Comments: A lot of people think this was the best R & B album made last year. In terms of production quality, hooks and vibe I agree with them. But (and this is a big but) Kaleidoscope Dream is filled with lyrical clunkers that I just can’t deal with. The worst offender is probably “Do You Like Drugs” which juxtaposes that line with do you like hugs? What’s sad is the synth bass underpinning the song is so hooky its warbling around my head while I’m trying to pan this record. I’m conflicted.


Artist: Miles Davis

Album: In a Silent Way

Comments: Fusion is a genre that was horrendously abused by people wearing headbands and berets. The word fusion evokes solos, lots of notes, chops and record executives trying to find jazz for white people. I hate Jaco Pastorius. I hate Return to Forever. I hate the entire genre. But for some insane reason critics like to call the electric music Miles Davis made in the late 60s and 70s “fusion.” This is wrong. There are no berets and there aren’t many solos. The playing is collective and strange, beautifully lyrical and completely unhinged. Miles is the anti beret: there’s no mental masturbation here.

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Not There Live @ Temple on May 4th

It’s been 7 months since Not There hit the stage. We’re back. See you at Temple on May 4th.

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the iPhone Blues: 4-1-2013 to 4-8-2013

The headphone jack in my iPod broke last week. My first reaction was to get it fixed or buy another one, but then a I suddenly got very busy and didn’t have time to deal with the Beijing Apple Store. Instead I whipped up a 7 album playlist and put it on my iPhone. Yes, I was one of those idiots who walks around with an iPhone in one pocket and an iPod in the other. Why? Because I have a ton of music and I wanted all of it at my fingertips. It’s taken me 20 years to amass my music collection and having it in my pocket was remarkably comforting.

But a funny thing happened. I discovered I actually liked having a limited amount of music with me because it forced me to listen. On the bus, on the subway, in a taxi or walking down the street there were only 7 choices. I listened to every lick on every album in a way I haven’t since I was a teenager and the internet was something that existed on telephone lines and free AOL CD ROMs jammed in Time Magazine.

So I’ve decided to run with this. Every Monday, I’ll be picking 7 albums and loading them onto my iPhone. After listening to them, I’ll share my impressions, feelings and responses to what I listened to.  I’m calling it the iPhone Blues.

the iPhone Blues 4-1-2013 to 4-8-2013

Artist: Afrika Bambaataa

Album: Looking for the Perfect Beat

Comments: I was struck by how incidental the rapping felt. Bambaataa’s beats were upfront and clearly the most important part of this music. Hip Hop has become an MC driven medium with producers/DJs mostly behind the scenes, but it started off as music made by DJs.

Artist: Autre Ne Veut

Album: Anxiety

Comments: Part of a recent trend favoring weirdo / auteur R&B, Anxiety is a cool record that’s just a little bit too over-produced. This is R & B for the internet, not the bedroom, but I don’t mean that to be as negative as it sounds.

Artist: Chromatics

Album: Kill for Love

Comments: One of my favorite records from last year. Dark, danceable and immaculately produced, Kill for Love is very nearly a perfect record. It sounds like you’re driving home from a club when you shouldn’t be.

Artist: Dr. Dog

Album: Be the Void

Comments: This was surprisingly good. Dr. Dog have been around forever, mixing quirky indie-pop with rock cliches. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. “These Days” is a killer song that redeems Be the Void’s occasional forays into glam rock, a genre that fits Dr. Dog like a poorly tailored suit. If it was 1976, “These Days” would have been a very big hit.

Artist: Paperclip People

Album: The Secret Tapes of Dr. Eich

Comments: Carl Craig is the anti-dance techno artist, but Paperclip People might be his most danceable alias. It has a hip hop vibe and strong synth lines. Very “musical” dance music which can be a good or bad thing. Better for the living room than the club, where it would leave people leaning against walls while looking at their shoes.

Artist: Plastikman

Album: Sheet One

Comments: One of the best techno records ever made, Sheet One is minimal but dance-floor ready. It’s deep, dark music that reminds me of looking at a Rothko painting: it dances but it shouldn’t. In short, Richie Hawtin is pretty fly for Canadian.

Artist: Professor Genius

Album Professor Genius

Comments: Basically an ode to Giorgio Morodor, this is a great intro to Italo Disco. A very fun record that plays with Morodor’s proto-house, Professor Genius is like listening to an hour’s worth of the instrumental breaks on a Donna Summer record. That’s a good thing.

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