so, i saw that midnight tonight is the deadline for proposal submissions for the next batch of 33 1/3 books. the publications of accepted proposals will stretch into 2010 and 2011. too bad i found this out too late and didn't have anything ready.

but this got me to thinking, if i were to write one of these books, what would i write it on? what album could i write a whole book about? i decided that they'd have to be albums that had a pretty significant impact on me that i still like today. there's some stuff i've gotten into over the past few years that i really like and seem to be old enough to really have some clout (OMD, Glenn Branca, Simon & Garfunkel), but i don't think i could write a whole book on any of their albums. they're great, they're important, but they're not necessarily essential to how i listen to music now.

so i thought of a handful...

-Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2
-Boards of Canada, Music Has the Right to Children
-Broadcast, The Noise Made by People
-The Microphones, either It Was Hot We Stayed in the Water or The Glow, Pt. 2
-Stars of the Lid, The Tired Sounds of...
-Weezer, either Blue Album or Pinkerton

a lot of Warp Records stuff, because that's what i was all about in late middle school / early high school. i feel like the Aphex Twin album would be the easiest for me to go on and write a whole book about but...i dunno. i could take John Darnielle's approach and write a piece of fiction around one of the albums, but now that he's done it that would be kind of lame, right?

i haven't even read a single one of the 33 1/3 books, so i don't know if i would even like these kinds of books. hm.

what album(s) would you write a whole book about?


ke7...what am i going to do with you...

so, i've pretty much finished reading Kramers Ergot 7 and...


i want to like it a lot more than i do. this is probably largely due to the fact that a great deal of money was spent to attain a copy. but i really was expecting nearly cover-to-cover amazing work. i feel like i was owed that. i can accept some missteps, that's fine.

but this is mostly missteps.

well, not mostly missteps. a number of missteps, and a number of...botched opportunities.

bill randall makes a number of good observations that i agree with. for example...

some artists simply fail to utilize the scale that they are allowed. dan clowes, jaime hernandez and seth in particular. three well-established artists that sammy harkham invited to contribute to the book because they had never had the opportunity to work at such a scale (ok, fine) and they absolutely blow it. their pieces are dull as dishwater. i can't blame sammy for pitching a very expensive endeavor to a wider audience by including well known names (matt groening has a piece, for god's sake), but the colleciton suffers for it. these milquetoast offerings fly directly in the face of what made Kramers thrilling in the first place.

i'm not much of a fan of johnny ryan and here he is in traditional form with a piece spoofing david heatley's sex history comic from Kramers 5. this and heatley's own awkward, uncomfortably bordering-on-weirdly-racist contribution seem a total waste of valuable space.

again i agree with randall that more female artists should have been included. i would have loved to have seen genviève castrée, vanessa davis, or allison cole working at this size. instead we have more of the rote comic genres of crude sex drawings or, in other pieces (see: matt thurber, jacob ciocci) psyched-out drug-hazed nonsensical...crap.

there is also the problem that while some pieces do take advantage of the page size, many of the works are strident and doggedly set on being very, very ugly. some are filled with incomprehensible content (as previously noted) or are exceedingly dark. i mean, really dark.

content aside, some of the most visually successful pieces are the ones that have a tastefully unified color pallette, like in frank santoro's spacious spread and work from blexbolex, john pham, and dan zettwoch.

then there are the pieces in which the artist effectively fills the vast pages allotted to them, and the work really has a sense of logic to it. chris ware impresses with his strip that circulates around a life-size rendering of a baby. shoboshobo made what is certainly the most epic, difficult-to-read table of contents ever. tom gauld's comic does the story of noah's ark justice by imbueing it with an appropriate sense of scale and giving minor biblical figures relatable, realistic humanity. gauld's piece is probably my favorite out of the whole book.

i could go on and on, talking about the positives and negatives of each individual piece, but i'd exhaust myself. maegan said that she thinks that i have more discerning tastes than some when it comes to comics, and i think that's true. i'm not a guy who can have any sort of indie comic fall into his lap and think "wow, this is amazing!" and so i can't just swallow this book whole.

i suppose it's like pretty much every other edition of Kramers. some work is stunning, some of it is, again, so...so ugly, and some of it is just...ok. there's no denying that it's a beautiful object, and in spite of inconsistent content, a considerable amount of care was put into completing the project. it could be that some of the artists involved just didn't know how to handle a task so huge, and they wound up beefing it. understandable. with the comics field as wide as it is today it truly is exciting that Kramers 7 can make its way into the world now, warts and all.


"oh, i don't really like those..."

so maegan and i went to chicago for the kramers ergot signing. i get so excited for stuff like this, and at the same time so nervous i'm going to be a buffoon or piss someone off that it ends up being altogether exhausting. pretty much everyone was really nice despite my inability to make much conversation with most of the guys.

in addition to drawings inside the book and on the fancy letterpress print that came with the book (all of which are wonderful), i asked some of the artists if they would be willing to do pee-wee herman related sketches in a pad i had brought along. earlier in the evening some were willing to do this, some thought about it and then seemed to forget / get distracted, and later on, when the line was more crowded, they thought for the sake of time and flow it would be better to pass (i can't blame them for this). too bad because kevin huizenga seemed keen on the idea. even so, i managed to collect some boss sketches, and i plan on maintaining this theme sketchbook for the next time i get to a convention or signing event of some kind.

ivan brunetti depicts himself as pee-wee

john hankiewicz provides a rather dour yet creative take on the iconic red bow-tie.

dan zettwoch (left) and sammy harkham (right) doodle in an attempt to figure out how to draw chairy. here's how they stack up to the real thing:

and dan zettwoch offers a great rendering of a scene from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. this had maegan and i giggling the whole time he was drawing.

it would have been nice to have sammy, souther, kevin, anders, chris, and ron provide their takes, but you can't have it all, especially when there is a line of at least fifteen other people behind you, all of them lugging enormous heavy books.


year-end #9

and finally some special recognition to two labels at the top of their respective games this year.

Spectral Sound
with the exception of a few passable releases of average acid, Spectral had an incredibly strong run of varied and ever-classy techno releases. while i don't keep up with the droves of techno / minimal releases that become available every week (and if i did, i'm sure i'd find a lot more that i like), i feel like Spectral keeps me up to date as to what's best in the scene. and the covers look nice too. like these:
Osborne - Ruling 12"
the full-length is really solid, but proceed directly to "go" with the choicest cuts on the 12". "Downtown" is total neon-glowing night music, retro and new at once, probably my favorite techno / dance song of the year.
Sami Koivikko - Sapphire 12"
kaleidoscopic, sultry and epic , perfect for when your drinks are really kicking in. dancefloors in deep spaaaaaaaace.
Broker/Dealer - Soft Sell 12"
like a slightly glossier counterpart to Osborne, this is the neon-colors vibe at a more kinetic clip. like driving through chicago if it looked fancy like in a movie instead of all stressful like in real life.
Lawrence - Divided 12"
airy, spacious and flowing, nothing kicks too hard on Lawrence's endcap to Spectral's year. probably good for the quieter tail end of a set.

and other winners from Kate Simko, Audion, Daso & Pawas, the Death Is Nothing To Fear comps, and a relentless collection of Matthew Dear's early non-album work.

Hospital Productions
something turned this year and i got really interested in noise more than before, especially anything that had to do with Dominick Fernow's Hospital label. pretty much every single major release on this label had my attention this year, because unlike so much in the drone / noise scene, little of the material felt half-assed. this is crafted stuff. i.e.:
Kevin Drumm - Imperial Distortion
alternates between an alley and a knife flash in the dark and a bedroom and a patient conversation. concludes with the knife making contact with flesh / bone. glacial, glorious.
Jason Crumer - Ottoman Black
probably the most horrifying record i've heard in recent memory. brutal like something you've lived to tell about.
Burning Star Core - Challenger
beautifully diverse and engaging, surprisingly accessible.
Cold Cave - Painted Nails 7"
promising neo-industrial / darkwave thumpers.
Prurient - Cocaine Death / Time Began In A Garden
in addition to great releases on other labels (Whip Enthusiasts, And Still, Wanting, The Black Post Society, to name a few), Dom put out some of his best work yet on his own label. Cocaine Death gathers recent cassette output, most of which consists of burnt-out and strikingly melodic synth dirges. Time Began In A Garden is a small gem of four dark-ambient tracks that would fit right in if they were released on Type. a banner year for the prolific Fernow.

and i think that does it for this year. i've got a handful of things i'm looking forward to next year (Animals Collective (who isn't?), Tim Hecker, Broadcast, Radio Dept., Sholi, Mi Ami, etc) but that's not worth getting into detail about. if you have any opinions or input of your own i'd love it if you left a comment or something. shows me that people read this things.

thanks. more posts soon.


year-end #8

here's a bunch of my favorite songs from the past year that were not on any of the albums previously mentioned. i would recommend playing them in this order.

1. Osborne - "Downtown" (from Osborne and the Ruling 12", both on Spectral)
2. Max Tundra - "The Entertainment" (from Parallax Error Beheads You, on Domino)
3. Anders Illar - "Icarus & Pegasus" (from Sworn, on Level)
4. Hercules & Love Affair - "Blind (Frankie Knuckles Vocal)" (from the Blind single on DFA)
5. Heartthrob - "Confession" (from Dear Painter, Paint Me on M_nus)
6. Dizzee Rascal (feat. Calvin Harris and Chrome) - "Dance Wiv Me (Extended Mix)" (from the Dance Wiv Me single, on Dirtee Stank)
7. Paul Frick - "Knock On Wood, Babe (w/ Matthias Engler)" (from the Knock On Wood 12" on Kalk Pets)
8. Few Nolder - "El Snig (feat. Rut)" (from the Plan μ compilation on Planet μ)
9. Belong - "Same Places (Slow Version)" (from the Same Places 12" on Table of the Elements)
10. Boris - "You Put Up Your Umbrella" (from Smile (Japan Release) on Diwphalanx)
11. Foals - "Olympic Airways" (from Antidotes on Sub Pop / Transgressive)
12. Subtle - "Unlikely Rock Shock" (from ExitingARM on Lex)
13. Paper Route Gangstaz - "Bama Gettin Money (Diplo Remix)" (from the Fear and Loathing in Hunts Vegas mixtape on Mad Decent)
14. iTAL tEK - "Cyclical" (from Cyclical on Planet μ)
15. Final Fantasy - "Blue Imelda" (from the Spectrum, 14th Century EP on Blocks Recording Club)

i'll just leave it at that, no lengthy descriptions, just do yourself a solid and seek these out.

i think one more entry after this one and that should pretty well wrap things up.


year-end #7

Move D & Benjamin Brunn - Songs From the Beehive (Smallville)
this album fully realizes all the concepts set forth from the Artificial Intelligence era of Warp records. improved production methods from the future allow the sounds here to break free of any stiffness. tones are deep and soft, clicks sound pleasantly insect-like, and the kicks are all full of inviting warmth. the longer tracks practically bloom.

Few Nolder - No Mo 12" (Planet μ)
so, this lithuanian guy sprang this on the public early in the year and no one really seemed to take notice. sucks for them, because this 12" contains a pair of the most killer techno tracks of the year. nothing too fancy: enormous beats, groaning mile-wide hooks and just enough little flourishes to keep you interested. his contribution to the Plan μ even tops what's here (more on that later).

Benoît Pioulard - Temper (Kranky)
dude made this and his last record, Précis, on garageband. man. anyway, he continues in the elegant fuzzy acoustic / aged drone vein and doesn't pull any punches. the result is a fully consistent gathering of lovely songs in which Pioulard (aka Thomas Meluch) hones his skills. perhaps now he's grounded enough to expand or alter his sound a bit on the next record. his collaboration ep with praveen from this year is also worth seeking out.

Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker - Fantasma Parastasie (Alien8)
another record that arrived with little fanfare and garnered seemingly little attention, and what a shame. a titanic meeting of guitar and electronics drone titans. things stay pretty much heavy as the world for most of the record, but there are also a couple tracks that provide welcome respite and mellowness. for Baker this is another solid addition to an ever-expanding resumé, and for Hecker this serves as a promising preview for his new solo full-length due early next year. make no mistake, though: this album is quite satisfying in its own right.


year-end #6

Mi Ami - African Rhythms 12" (White Denim)
a triumphant release of propulsive damaged punk-clatter, funky squall and glazed dub. seeing as this band has a few members who used to be in Black Eyes, this is a glorious postscript and exciting new beginning, as the songs here begin to capitalize on the promise first heard from their former band. their other 12" from this year, Ark of the Covenant, was very strong as well, but for me African Rhythms takes the cake. totally stoked for the upcomming full length on Quarterstick next year.

Abe Vigoda - Skeleton (Post Present Medium)
corroded surf jams of the highest caliber. maybe repeats itself a little bit, fine, but everything here is enjoyably woozy and discordant while still having bright hooky melodies and muscly drumming. a total cali blast.

Arch M - Mountain Tan Commercials (Kaleidoscope / Cavern)
without question the best on-purpose free-download of the year. a sort of virtual cassette, if you will. 7 tracks totaling 9 minutes, but in that brief time you will be whisked away to a lo-fi beach paradise with electric guitars being played in a nearby cave and clicking percussion around the bonfire at sunset. this is a precursor to a 12" supposedly due in the near future.
i am apparently very down with this surf / beach punk thing. it is nice.
download is available HERE. go get it!!!!


year-end #5

some year-end shouts for two great dudes i have the privilege of being acquainted with who are making great music right now. as your eyes compute this t-e-x-t.

Thunderous Olympian
there he is, TO, Olin, Jason to his homies, lookin' chill and stuff. Jason makes original beats suitable for trunk rattling and is the best DJ. literally the best. he is about to set Chicago ablaze with flaming bald eagles wearing wayfarers. yessss.
platters of info to be found here: www.thunderousolympian.com

Twin Cats
Joey stepped up his game and put others to shame with his first album under the Twin Cats moniker, titled Up North. slow-burning beauty full of good old-fashioned midwestern heart, hints of folksiness and maybe a dash of twang where necessary. fully accomplished tunes from a guy who is bound to get just more accomplished-er.
all you need to know is here: www.imaginetwincats.com

isn't it great knowing rad people?


year-end #4

DJ Scotch Egg - Drumized (Load)
a big step in chiptune's evolution into something legitimate, something that is not just a gimmick. for all of its franticness Drumized hangs together really well. live drums lend an appealingly free-jazz-ish vibe to some songs, and there is a take on stoner metal that is stupendous in its thickness. really unique for a genre that typically ends up repeating itself and a genuinely fun listen.

DJ Donna Summer - Panther Tracks (Cock Rock Disco)
14-year old me would have thought this was the best record ever. non-stop fist-pumping hyperactive rave blasts, totally without pretension, totally balls to the wall, totally made with love. massive.

Clark - Turning Dragon (Warp)
after the deeply textural, rich, and personal-feeling Body Riddle (2006), clark came a bit out of nowhere and surprised with this, a sort of take on techno dragged through industrial muck. consistently dense and inky and at times flat-out thrilling, this is what dance music might be after the fallout.


year-end #3


Food For Animals - Belly (Hoss)
my favorite hip-hop record of the year (followed closely by The Bake Sale). distorted, steam-powered, molar-rattlingly heavy production and fiery, aggressive raps. what else do you need? top shelf explosions from b-more that smear some much-needed grime all over that scene.

Paavoharju - Laulu Laakson Kukista (Fonal)
it's pretty amazing when a group can wear so many influences on their sleeve while developing a sound that's totally their own. paavoharju does it. on many albums interlude tracks are kinda throwaway sketches. on Laulu, they serve to stitch the fabric of the album into a cohesive entireity, leading from one dream sequence to the next.

Lucky Dragons - Dream Island Laughing Language (Marriage)
many short melodic bursts make up a compelling, joyous whole on Dream Island Laughing Language. the album feels more focused and more expansive than prior lucky dragons releases. tunes for hippies from the distant future.


year-end #2

i don't want to bother numbering things this year. what a drag that was. when i did it.

so here's a bunch that lots of people liked (for good reason).

Why? - Alopecia (Anticon / Tomlab)
the most stubbornly catchy record of the year about bowel troubles and masturbation bar none.

No Age - Nouns (Sub Pop)
in spite of a more polished and even (samey) sound compared to the ragged charm found on last year's Weirdo Rippers, Nouns is still a fully worthy follow-up. also, if you think the songs here are a bit lacking, they definitely pack some extra teeth in a live setting. go see.

High Places - High Places (Thrill Jockey)
another album that seems to run on a bit of an even keel, perhaps. however, there is nothing wrong with a totally pleasant and inviting listening experience, especially when a number of the songs have a deeper dance kick compared to earlier tunes.

Beach House - Devotion (Carpark)
how nice it is for a band to totally not try to reinvent the wheel and totally succeed. an engrossing and unashamedly pretty album. also, additional good on them for capping off the year with a winning 7".

more to come...


year-end #1

so, it's time for year-end lists. let's get things started by taking care of the gloomy sour stuff right away.

-disappointment of the year
Parenthetical Girls - Entanglements (Tomlab / Slender Means Society)

this was really inevitable.
by no means is entanglements a bad record. it's well produced, has in "a song for ellie greenwich" one of p-girls best songs to date, and retains frontman zac pennington's unique warble as well as his sharp, affecting songwriting. the problem is twofold:
1.) pretty much all of the remaining songs on the album feel loosely constructed / reaching in too many directions, too grandiose (thanks to ever-present orchestral arrangements), at times awkwardly vaudevillian or showetune-y, and in general just a bit too much of a chore to listen to.
2.) i loved (and continue to love) the last p-girls album, 2006's Safe As Houses so dearly that anything that followed was practically doomed to pale in comparison.
pennington and co. have aimed high on this record, as a band surely should, but as a result they unfortunately have missed the mark by a considerable degree.

alright, so now that i have that off my chest, all positive vibes for the rest of this...thing.