REVIEW: Lee Ranaldo And The Dust’s “Acoustic Dust”

Lee Ranaldo And The Dust photo LeeRanaldo_cover_zpses5v8vbb.jpg Now that Sonic Youth is officially over, we’re able to hear material from the other members, perhaps in a slightly different light. For Lee Ranaldo, perhaps it’s another way to hear his music and lyrics in a different way, away from the noise, the heaviness, and the occasionally ugliness although his music has always been very distinct from Thurston Moore’s and Kim Gordon’s. For Acoustic Dust (El Segell Del Primavera), the title basically tells the story, as the album has him playing acoustic guitars while being accompanied primarily by other acoustic instruments. It is his third album with The Dust, and if there’s something that makes these songs unique (if you want to call it that), it’s a distinct and simplified sound. One way to compare it is with the covers that are on here: Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues”, The Monkees’ “You Just May Be The One”, and Sandy Denny’s “Bushes And Briars”. You might expect to hear this at Farm Aid or the Bridge School Benefit, and perhaps jamming with Tom Petty or maybe choosing to do some ki ho’alu. Ranaldo sounds very comfortable in this mode but he has always done well with coverage a wide range of different textures, but it’s his stories that help pull you deeper into these songs and want to hear them over and over, or know that they will be there for you in the future when needed.


BOOK REVIEW: “Girl In A Band” by Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon photo Gordonbook_cover_zpsa8e361b6.jpg When I found out Kim Gordon was coming out with her own autobiography, I knew I had to make sure to read it. I first heard of Sonic Youth in 1986 through a Seattle music video show called Bombshelter Videos, where I saw “Shadow Of A Doubt”. The music, her voice, and the visuals of her “sitting” on top of a train car pulled me in while it also made me ask “what is this?” I had been aware of who they were but living in a town without a college radio station made me curious. Thus, my fascination with her and her music, and in truth more about her music than anything about her but Girl In A Band: A Memoir (Bey St.) is her telling her own life how she sees it, which is the way how she writes her lyrics and poems, how she plays her music, and how she paints.

There were two things I wasn’t aware of when I read this. First, I didn’t know she was raised in California. What I know about Gordon is through her songs, albums, and interviews but that’s always one deliberate aspect of an artist wanting people to get to know they have new product available. Second, I didn’t know she and her family lived on Oahu for about a year. When she mentions how she enjoyed living in Manoa Valley, she says it freely as if she’s a local girl, but also states that for the first time in her life, she felt like a minority due to Hawai’i being primarily Asian. Also, having a name like Kim had kids make fun of her as the name Kim is often given to males within the Asian communities.

Her story primarily begins on what was a surprising note. The chapter is called The End and while I had suspicions of what it might be about, I had to read for validation. The End refers to not only the end of her relationship with guitarist Thurston Moore, but the end of Sonic Youth as a group. The official statement states they are now on a temporary hiatus so while fans are always hopeful for a reunion to happen, it’s most likely going to be “don’t bother waiting for the time being.” Reading that chapter is exhausting, only because I as a fan knew the story and what happened, and she explains part of what dissolved. She does get into it in detail but that happens only in the last part of the book.

From there, we bounce back to her childhood and how she became who she is through her mom and dad, essential factors in her upbringing. Also of importance is her older brother, and together they helped to provide what will become her interests, be it painting, writing, or music. It was a need to be creative, and she gets very detailed on her interests. While I am not someone who knows about fashion designers and obscure film directors, she mentions various people and things in a way that is very understandable, nerdy when it needs to be but always done in a way that has her creating a list for those who wish to look it up further. Her brother eventually became mentally ill to the point where he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, physically and mentally draining. While she did her share of traveling with her family, she knew that when it was the time, she would like to move on to somewhere further. In that time, we find out some of the people she dated, including Danny Elfman, another things I learned in this book.

In time she would make it to the East Coast and into New York City, and she clearly states that what she wanted to do was to be able to live independently, on her own terms, even if it meant living in a dingy Chinatown apartment that wasn’t glorious. It is where we learn about 84 Eldridge Street, the apartment where she got into exploring various New York clubs and venues, discovering new forms of music, meeting up with important people and meeting Thurston Moore for the first time. From that point on, the story explores in detail the journey Sonic Youth went through, from recording their first music in a basic recording studio to performing their first international shows to finding their way onto a major label and a bit of fame. While Sonic Youth were always known for their alternate tunings with their guitars, Gordon states that her bass were always one of the anchors of the band and was always tuned the same way for every song. Before the SY story is explored, she touches on her first live performance and how she wasn’t sure if she could do it but once she did it, she felt something she did not expect and one that she wanted to do repeatedly, which she would do for 30+ years. If you know about her story, she does mention people that is part of her path: Kathleen Hannah, Courtney Love, Julia Cafritz, Michael Stipe, ChloĆ« Sevigny, Henry Rollins, and Kurt Cobain, whom she called a dear friend. Some of these people are discussed with the utmost respect while others were ridiculed in a manner that perhaps they ridiculed her.

She does talk about watching her daughter Coco grow up to eventually wanting to get involved in music in her own way but also going to college for the first time. By then, Gordon returns to what happened between her and Moore and one begins to have a greater sense of compassion for her as much more than just an artist. It may be nothing more than an appreciation for her as a person, but nothing wrong with that either. I also really like how this book was written. Outside of being direct and to the point, Girl In A Band is designed in a way that’s not unlike her music, a painting, or even a film. In fact the last chapter is done in a way where the reader may say :wait a minute: so what happened?” or “is there a moral to the story in the way you just told me?” For all I know, she could have been citing the end of a film like 400 Blows or something, where we see people around but the image stops and pans forward. What do we think? What should we think? Perhaps that’s the point in how Gordon told her memoir, to let everyone know about who Kim Gordon is, insecurities and concerns, hopes and dreams, hits and misses, and everything in between. If she’s going to throw out something random, she will and perhaps did. Or maybe the end of the book was written in a manner that is supposed to be. That’s why this book is called Girl In A Band because in a way, that’s who she wanted to be, became, and was. Through the process, she became a stronger person with a better sense of purpose. You may end up wanting to hear her discography from start to finish once you finish this, one of the best biographies I’ve read in some time.

(Girl In A Band will be released on February 24th. An audiobook version, in both CD and MP3 versions, will also be made available.)


RECORD CRACK: Kurt Vile & Sore Eros to release 10″ EP

 photo KurtVileSoreEros_cover_zps245b0c4c.jpg
Robert Robinson used to be a member of The Violators (no relation to the De La Soul-collective The Violators) and did a bit of touring with Ariel’s Pink band, but you may be aware of him through his own project called Sore Eros. I am not sure how Eros can be sore, but I’m reading this from the bio, stick with me for a moment.

Kurt Vile… well, he’s Kurt Vile.

After years of meetings, talks, and I’m sure a few drinks exchanged between the two, it lead to songwriting and recordings but nothing ever came from it until now. Through Care In The Community Recordings, Vile and Sore Eros will be releasing a 10″ EP called Jamaica Plain on November 4th. The title comes from a section in Boston, Massachusetts that was once called “the “the Eden of America”. Some may wonder what happened to that sense of Eden, but maybe a hint of that can be heard on this new EP.

Vile will be heading on tour in a few weeks and I’m sure he will be playing some of the material on Jamaica Plain so if you’d like to get familiar with the new while reuniting with the old, check him out:

September 25… Pittsburgh, PA (The Warhol at the Carnegie Music Hall)
September 26… Cincinnati, OH (Midpoint Music Festival)
September 27… Urbana, IL (Pygmailian Music Festival – Urban Civic Center Outdoor Annex)
October 12… Mexico City, MX (Corona Capital 2013/Festival Mexico City)
October 25… New York, NY (Terminal 5) *
October 26… Philadelphia, PA (Union Transfer) ^
October 27… Baltimore, MD (Ottobar) ^
October 28… Charlotte, NC (Chop Shop) ^
October 29… Athens, GA (40 Watt Club) ^
October 30… Charleston, SC (The Pour House) ^
October 31… Jacksonville, FL (Jack Rabbits) ^
November 1… Miami, FL (Grand Central) +
November 2… Orlando, FL (The Social) ^
November 3… Tallahassee, FL (Club Downunder) ^
November 4… Mobile, AL (Alabama Music Box) ^
November 5… New Orleans, LA (One Eyed Jack’s) ^
November 6… Houston, TX (Walter’s) #
November 8-10… Austin, TX (Fun Fun Fun Fest)
November 11… Oxford, MS (Proud Larry’s) ^
November 12… Chattanooga, TN (JJ’s Bohemia) ^

* w/ Beach Fossils, Lee Ranaldo
^ w/ Beach Fossils
+ w/ Beach Fossils, Band In Heaven
# w/ Beach Fossils, Merchandise

VIDEO: Ceramic Dog’s “Lies My Body Told Me”

The dirty, the sleazy, the raw, the ugly: sometimes when you want really good raunch’n’roll, you have to dig deeper than you have ever done before. Ceramic Dog understands what you’re looking for, which is why they’re supplying it directly to you and other consumers. “Lies My Body Told Me” is about being in denial of what you’re feeling, but you end up saying “eh, fuck it”.

Saying “fuck it” is Marc Ribot, who heads Ceramic Dog alongside Ches Smith and Shahzad Ismaily, and they’re trying something that may not be new, but it’s needed for the now people who find everything too old and musty. This is dusty yet trusty, and as a trio they will be playing a small string of shows in Japan this week before returning to the U.S. for a few other performances. Don’t believe me? Proof:

May 1… Tokyo, Japan (Club Quattro)
May 2… Nagoya, Japan (Club Quattro)
May 3… Umeda, Japan (Club Quattro)
May 5… New York, NY (Le Poisson Rouge) *
May 27… Chicago, IL (Pritzker Pavilion) @
May 28… Chicago, IL (Constellation)

* w/ Hubble
@ w/ Lee Ranaldo

The album is called Your Turn (Northern Spy) and will you listen to it? You should, as it is your turn to check them, which you’re able to do when the album is released on April 30th.

REVIEW: Lee Ranaldo’s “Between The Times And The Tides”

Lee Ranaldo In Sonic Youth‘s 30 year existence, each of them have worked a lot as a group, with one another in side projects, and on their own albums, so there has never been a shortage of music in their existence. While Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore have often been the focus, that has never taken away attention from the other members of the group. In fact, there are enough Lee Ranaldo fans who will tell you that his work is preferred over all others, or that it was his contributions to SY that stood out. That shows the diversity in their music and their fans. The group slowing down to a halt last year is not the reason Ranaldo has a new album, but the release of Between The Times And The Tides (Matador) may reveal how much he did contributed to the group, or at least it shines the light on Ranaldo, solo artist.

The songs on this album range from the courageous material that Sonic Youth fans have knowed and loved, while also showing a few of his unmistakable influences too, like the Neil Young-ish qualities of “Fire Island (Phases)”, while “Lost (Plane T Nice)” would be something you could easily hear being interpreted by everyone from Pete Townshend to John Mellencamp, or even Screaming Trees. It’s an album that sits well from start to finish, and when you have Steve Shelley playing drums on it throughout, along with help from John Medeski (whose playing in “Shouts” is worthy of a shout or two), Jim O’Rourke, Lea Singer, Nels Cline, and Alan Licht, he is in good company. Ranaldo could easily move into Jeff Tweedy territory, or at least to gain attention for his own music on its own terms. If you had taken exception to his songs with SY, you’ll love this. For Ranaldo fans, this is merely an extra component to his discography, and one that will be played repeatedly by everyone.

(NOTE: The Amazon version of the album on MP3 has an exclusive demo for the song “Lost”, which you can purchase below {the first box}.)

REVIEW: Melvins’ “Chicken Switch”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Me and Melvins go way back. I have been a fan of the Melvins kids for about 23 years, there was a time when I pretty much bought everything they would release. I have not been as savvy although I would like to me, but I always make sure to buy their new albums. Sadly, m Melvins vinyl collection is behind, so I don’t have their recent albums in the preferred format, but one day when I win the Lotto, SHIT YEAH, MELVINS VINYL FOR DAYS. I would like to play congas for Melvins, but that’s another topic, another time.

Chicken Switch (Ipecac) is supposed to be a Melvins remix album, but here’s the catch. The contributors were not given any element of the source material, so they had to create whatever they felt like, in whatever way they felt comfortable with. It sounds odd, but when have Melvins ever done anything normally? Some of it may remind fans of the Snivlem album, Prick, especially the “Emperor Twaddle Remix” by Christoph Heemann, which in its second half is nothing but a three second applause loop with various other live concert elements thrown in. Someone dropping a microphone? That’s added into the mix. It’s almost like Jan Jelinek on meth jelly beans. In V/Vm‘s “She Chokes Her Dying Breath & Does It In My Face”, it’s nothing more than drumstick clicks and a droning guitar, which comes off like lighting a candle on both ends, and throwing it in a barn. Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth creates an “Eggnog Medley” that perhaps not surpisingly souynds nothing like anything on Eggnog or a proper medley. I’d like to see this played full blast in a school zone. The biggest surprise may be what Merzbow did in “Snow Rem Rem Ibvz”, which managed to include a hit making beverage that was splattered to create splatteria.

Is it a Melvins album? Yes. Is it not a Melvins album? Yes. Is it a Melvins remix album? Yes/no . Is it a Melvins tribute album? Yes/no. Is it filled with sound? Yes. Is it filled with silence? Yes. You know, after hearing this, I wish I could have contributed to this. Maybe I should make my own Melvins “remix”. Maybe I will/will not. Chicken Switch is an odd chicken glitch,and most of us can’t pass the bitch/and those rotten ass motherfuckers know this. Thanks Geto Boys.

Is this a Melvins album review? Yes/no. Is it a Melvins tribute review? Yes/no. Will you be molested in the air by volume? Circle your answer.


SOME STUFFS: Sonic Youth are indie again, new album finished

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After many celebrated years with the Geffen/DGC ohana, Sonic Youth have been released from the John Black chains (Days Of Our Lives fans take note) and are once again completely independent. The group will be releasing their new album, The Eternal, on June 9th through Matador Records, to be available as a 2LP set, compact disc, and in digital (no word yet if lossless will be an option. Here is the confirmed track listing:

1. Sacred Trickster
2. Anti-Orgasm
3. Leaky Lifeboat(for Gregory Corso)
4. Antenna
5. What We Know
6. Calming The Snake
7. Poison Arrow
8. Malibu Gas Station
9. Thunderclap For Bobby Pyn
10. No Way
11. Walkin’ Blue
12. Massage The History

The band and Matador will be offering “extras” when the album is available to pre-order.

On top of this, Sonic Youth and Beck are releasing a split 7″ on April 18th to honor this year’s Record Store Day.