Thursday, December 30, 2010

AvE Zine no.1

2010 brings a flashback to 1980, a printed zine. AvE cohort of Fields of Industry, Long Whisker, Hospital Garden and buds assess their year in music listenership. Joshua sliced to bits by paper cuts. How many hours of folding and stapling? Download it, or pick up a copy at Mittenfest V, starting tonight.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Womb diving with Save Me From The Gallup Poll

Save Me From The Gallup Poll / SMFTGP / Smiffedgip is a one man plunge into the guts of sound. Mixers and effects pedals are bastardized into amateur tinkerings of biotechnological abomination; bleeding, bowel-sputtering androids barely able to murmur "Pleeasseee killl meeeeee." Sound like fun? Check out this house show this Friday, 11/12/10, in world famous Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Just days ahead of this rare out-of-home excursion from SMFTGP, his imprint was able to extract some limited answers on the what and wherefore behind the project. This Ypsi house show on 11/12 will melt you and SMFTGP sightings are fleeting like the sasquatch. Be there, or read about it Saturday in the Daily Mirror or whathaveyou.
AvE: Why do you want to be saved from the Gallup Poll?
SMFTGP: Noise is the blues of the information age.

AvE: You're into recording direct to tape. And making tapes. What's with the tape thing? Is this just ironic experimentation in marginality or is there something aesthetic about cassettes?
SMFTGP: There’s some object fetish at work there, I’m sure, as well as market forces.
The recordings are basically bootlegs of improvisations I played for no one. Recording to tape was just easy to do for the first couple of recordings -- straight from mixer to two track. Then it made sense to dub and release them that way in a really small quantity. If I ever get to a point where I’ve done something worth putting on record or a proper CD, maybe I will.
Malcolm McLaren liked cassettes for their disposability back when they were first getting popular. I think he thought it was a good metaphor for the pop culture they delivered.

AvE: Favorite pedal and why. Go.
SMFTGP: It’s mostly delay and EQ. I use what I have for playing guitar, which I do in a couple of other bands.

AvE: Any thoughts on a link between feedback loops and Oedipal motifs?
SMFTGP: Sounds diving back into the “womb” just to be purged again uglier?

AvE: For the uninitiated, what makes a track of yours good or bad? Noisers can be totally impressed by sounds someone does ("That was killer!"), or totally underwhelmed ("He's so predictable."), but it's hard to decipher what exactly elicits the various reactions. What sound values are at play? Or what beyond sound is at stake?
SMFTGP: My wife says there is no difference; you like noise or you don’t. She might be right. My friend Chris Oposnow says the difference between good and bad noise is the album art. He’s probably right.

More info, including some free releases from SMFTGP here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Long Whisker - Huge Power

Jim & Reagan continue to truck along. I've seen them transition through three significant lineup changes, and one faux band-breakup. What's changed in the meantime is, well, drums, mostly. Now they have them; they didn't before. When Reagan first sent me some Long Whisker tunes back in 2008, I was totally floored: clearly early-development songs that worked amazingly well as first iterations, don't think too hard about it, just be what you are, sing what you know and that is frill-less 90's balls and poetry.

That sound continues to prevail on Huge Power but with a thicker production, a better executed recording - thanks to Worm Farm Recordings in Ypsilanti. J&R can be found yelping tag team style or in unison on this record and bashing the guitars noticeably harder along to the splishsplash of hence-departed drummer Elliot Daimler. There is a suggestion of bass, presumably overdubbed by Reagan, to fill in the low end now that keys are no longer present.

At first glance, songs must come easy for these guys. I don't know if that's true or not (I will ask). But I assume that it's true 'cause Jim & Reagan have wits that basically dominate whatever room they happen to be in, however large. We shared a show in Jackson at the historic Michigan Theater back in March. Now, the Michigan Theater is a sad and amazing place. It, like so many other early 20th century theaters, is a crumbling symbol of pre-depression Midwest stability. People were in these states and cities making stuff, getting by, living in industry and, naturally, going to movies and talkies on the weekends. Hence the Michigan Theater came into being as well as it's cohort of doomed architectural specimens in other, similar towns. And now it sits in downtown Jackson, Michigan, foreboding. Its restoration is the pet project of a handful of classic theater enthusiasts, nostalgists. And it's been largely restored, it shows some films, live broadcasts of sporting events, Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings for local degenerates that seem to happen every night (seriously, I don't get this, how often can you dress up and mime the same film?). Anyway, the place is also haunted. And here we are, a couple of quasi-local bands in the belly of this theater beast, with a dressing room reserved for us, at once charming and bizarre. Around the corner is a hallway blocked off by a row of chairs. "What's back there?" "Don't go back there, that's where the ghosts are." The ghosts! So I'm hanging around alone by the ghost hallway and I close my eyes. I hear no ghosts but I do hear Reagan & Jim. They're in the dressing room with some other dudes and the bubble of jokes and laughter echoing off the concrete walls is constant, reverberated to sound decades old, and it's easy to imagine the ghosts of grips, projectionists and dancers guffawing in the style of the roaring 20s, enveloped in cigar smoke.

Jim, Reagan, & former drummer Elliot in the Michigan Theater dressing room. -photo by Ed.

Reagan & Jim. So many quips and turns of phrase at their disposal, the huge power of the language centers of their brains are the unifying force of this band, and therefore Huge Power is the name of the new album. Actually, that's not the source of the album name, probably something more tongue-in-cheek socio-political. My two guesses are: 1.) anti-government (naturally, who isn't?) and 2.) anti-fraternal/greek societies. However, I must grant that Long Whisker, if anti-anything, if opposed to anything - if they are any of that, their resistance must be complicated by some kind of ambivalence, because not only do they provoke nostalgia for small, precious, eccentric things, they also write testament to the grit and real-world stench of towns like Ypsilanti, Michigan. They have a love-hate relationship with the post-industrial. They, I think more than any other Ypsi band, totally take ownership of their town. To them, (I project) Ypsi is about nasty, forsaken places inhabited by fantastic people, past and present. Friends of today and the workers of yesterday. In Ypsi and in the rest of the Midwest. Long Whisker shows a sensitivity to the Midwest situation that honestly warms my heart. They're somewhere amidst the various stages of loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. But I think Jim & Reagan are on the verge, in many of their tunes, of taking things a step beyond acceptance. They're finding out what's next, for themselves, for their town and for what it means to be a pair of Midwestern wordsmiths with a band.

Huge Power is available for free download here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reverend Doomhammer's Crib!!!!

AvE's own Reverend Doomhammer shares the intimate secrets of his abode.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Fields of Industry - Trouble House

Trouble House is a rock 'n' roll record. It merges the competing halves of Fields of Industry that have been festering under the surface for a few years now: that of reverberated bliss and rock 'n' roll darkness. Fields goes all out, with a fuller sound, a more fervent dedication to something-or-other, and a recklessness that is at once tears and teeth-gnashing.

Watch for tour dates from Fields, briefly in late July, and then more shows in the fall. Arts vs Entertainment is proud to issue a short run of the disc, available on Fields' site. The album is also available at digital outlets including iTunes, and emusic

Have a listen!
<a href="">I've Never Been To New York by Fields of Industry</a>

Friday, May 21, 2010

Joshua Barton Brooklyn, NY 9/5/2009

In observation of the ongoing tradition to release something (anything) musical on my birthday, I offer here the audio & video of some backyard tunes recorded in Brooklyn in September of 2009. Though the video makes it look like I was pretty lonely out there in the dark, I was in fact joined by dozens of good friends, and hosted by the generous Gina Pensiero at her 50/50 Space (aka her basement and/or backyard). Gina gives of herself to music in many cool ways, including her band and her blog. Getting to participate in her ongoing monthly series of shows was a fantastic experience, and it was only the beginning of what turned out to be a fantastic night.

Special thanks for this release go out to Dax Monta & Graham Mason for recording it, and doubly to Dax for bringing the final recordings together as a package. I was joined on mandolin for a few tunes by Tristan Dreisbach. Matt Richman helped out with editing.

1. Introduction
2. I've Got Something To Say To You
3. We'll Always Have The Oasis
4. Going Home
5. Don't Stay Away (Till Love Grows Cold) [Lefty Frizzell]
6. I'll Fly Away [Albert E. Brumley]
7. Eugenia
8. Ypsilanti Is Seething
9. Sick Of America
10. Unknown Legend [Neil Young]
11. Point Of Contention
12. Pillaged Land
13. Roll Another Number (For The Road) [Neil Young]
14. I've Seen A Light

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hospital Garden - Hospital Garden

AvE has been dormant too long. Leave it to this loud Chicago-by-way-of-Dayton trio to wake us up. Remember Hospital Garden? The post-Bear Mountain Picnic solo demo project of Lucas Hollow? Well those sketches are now a full fledged reality and Hospital Garden are three rather than one.

Hospital Garden is a team. An angry, righteous squad of rock n' roll with roots of influence extending down deep into the 1980s when their ears were very young, but not unreceptive. They are blistering guitar, bass and drums led by Lucas Hollow's feverish lyrical mumble, always seeming on the verge of exploding -  the tried and true power trio, in lock-step, on a mission to blow up power chords in such effective time-tested methods that it all sounds new again.

They are a streak of pop core wrapped in the unassuming dirty frustration of an era when Reagan anguish had yielded to resigned Reagan fatigue, and something we all should have seen coming around again having just said goodbye to Bush II. Lucas, Sarah & Ian are re-exemplifying the rebellious good that was at the heart of what became labelled "alternative" before all of that rose to the braindead, cashcow top of college radio and Teen Spirit.

But Hospital Garden are not a historical reenactment of the alternative scene. They are diligent students of what has come before, but with a new vision for resistance - resisting the temptation to disintegrate into weirdness, incoherence and fake frame glasses like all your favorite Pitchforkers. Resisting the temptation to be boring and lame. These kids wear real glasses. Use real guitars. A true alternative to that which presently dominates our attention strapped ears and eyeballs.

If Guided By Voices and the Lemonheads were pop music prophets, then Hospital Garden is the new voice in the wilderness and their self titled work is the call to repentance from all your hip nonchalance in 2010. Purchase it at CD Baby or wait for it to show up on iTunes, Amazon, etc. in the coming weeks.