Tuesday, June 30, 2009

STACK SESSIONS: TELEKINESIS + ANNOUNCEMENTS

First up, new sessions to announce:

July 12 - Gentleman Auction House
July 13 - Exercise
July 28 - Langhorne Slim

Very excited to have all of the above in the studio to perform, although fitting all of Gentleman Auction House in the lounge is gonna be interesting. There are more sessions being confirmed as I write this, so keep yr eyes on the blog.

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I sat down with Michael Lerner, the creative force and drummer behind Telekinesis, for a chat about the process of making the new record and St. Louis summers, among other things. I believe you can hear the Smashing Pumpkins in the background throughout - Billy Corgan, please don't sue us.

Interview

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

We All Mourn In, Um, Our Own Way


No comment.

Some 2009 Favorites Thus Far



Well, it seems as if 2009 is suddenly half-way over. Here's some of what I've enjoyed thus far:

Thee Oh Sees - Help [In The Red] / Zork's Tape Bruise [Kill Shaman] / Tidal Wave 7" [Woodist] / The Drag 7" [Castle-Face]: It's already been a productive year for John Dwyer and company. I can't get enough of their reverb-heavy psyched-out garage goodness and it seems as of recent, they've had no problem being productive. John Dwyer even claims he already has "the whole new LP worked out already." Expect it to have "a glazed summer feel." Possibly another LP by the end of the year!? We can hope for it.

Ty Segall - Ty Segall [Castle-Face]: Released on John Dwyer's label, Castle-Face, this is probably my favourite somewhat recent release (did it technically come out in 2008?). His one-man-band noisy blown-out garage-rock can't be beat. Look for his follow-up, "Lemons", coming out in July on the Memphis-based Goner records.

Magik Markers - Balf Quarry [Drag City]: "Boss" was my favorite album of 2007. This pretty much sounds like a sequel to that album -- more focused (for them) noise songs that recall the work of the fabulous 1980s pre-Mazzy Star band Opal. [guitarist/vocalist Elisa Ambrogio pictured above - thanks ThisRecording]

Amen Dunes - DIA [Locust]: Apparently this mysterious "loner psych grit" release was the result of a single man's retreat into the Catskill mountains armed only with a 12-track, some magnetic tape, and a variety of instruments.

Condo Fucks - Fuckbook [Matador]: I expected to listen to this haphazardly recorded Yo La Tengo garage session once or twice. It ended up being a drive time commute favourite.

Sonic Youth - The Eternal [Matador]:
They're back again with no apparent signs of letting up. 'Nuff said.

Black Lips - 200 Million Thousand [Vice]: Fuck the hipster backlash, Atlanta knows how to rawk.

Wooden Shjips - Dos [Holy Mountain]: krautrock-esque repetitive jams for the masses

Douglas Rushkoff - The Media Squat [WFMU]: Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff's new radio talk show, The Media Squat, is something you should start tuning into frequently. Talk ranges from the benefits of using local currencies, to views on the current economic crisis (and why it is actually an opportunity), to why regulation of the toy industry hurts old-fashioned toy-makers. It airs on WFMU Monday nights 6pm EST. Stream and podcast here. While you're at it, check out his new book, "Life Inc."

Science is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painleve [Criterion]: Finally this comes to DVD in the states. These are really fabulous avant-garde aquatic documentaries from the 1920s-1960s. The 3 disc collection has everything you need, including alternate soundtracks by Yo La Tengo, just in case you missed seeing them perform it live for the Webster Film Series back in 2005.

"Observe and Report", Jody Hill: I had no desire to see Seth Rogen play a mall cop but a friend dragged me to this movie. I expected another lame attempt to cash in on the recent successes of Judd Apatow. Surprisingly, I left the theatre having seen the best film of 2009 (so far). Sure, it's basically "Taxi Driver" set in a shitty mall, but it's one of the best dark (and I mean dark) comedies I've seen in quite some time. Trust me, this movie is destined to be a certified Cult Classic. You'll understand when you finally catch it on video five years from now.

Re-Releases/Not New

The Vaselines - Enter The Vaselines [Sub Pop]: It's nice get everything the Vaselines ever did on vinyl (3 LP too!). I hope this is among the first of many nicely compiled Sub Pop Deluxe Editions.

Various Artists - Electronium: A Complete Guide to Audio Composition [unknown]: I have no idea where this release came from and apparently no one else does either. The LP came in a nice box with room for two more LPs which are to be released at a later date. It features a bunch of classic Raymond Scott analog synth bits as well as a couple of tracks from Dick Hyman and an LSD public service announcement. Let's hope those 2 additional LPs actually happen. I don't know how I'll even find them if they do.

Peter Walker - Long Lost Tapes 1970 [Tompkins Square]: Peter Walker studied with both Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar and was Timothy Leary's music director. He was an important figure of the American folk underground, but unfortunately, he only released two albums, including the wonderful "Rainy Day Raga." Walker finally dug up the tapes from this Woodstock, NY recording session for another full-length release -- 39 years delayed.

Mississippi Records: If you ever come across any release by Mississippi, snatch it up. Their small-run vinyl-only releases are always reasonably priced (~$10) and excellently packaged. I can guarantee you'll then find them spinning on your turntable constantly. This year, I've enjoyed another installment of pre-war blues, "I Woke Up One Morning in May", and the guitar-based gospel of Bishop Perry Tillis, compiled from hours of cassette tapes and released as "In Times Like These...." I also finally found a copy of their 2008 vinyl release of "Compilation" by The Clean. They don't have a website, but a librarian at the University of North Carolina Asheville as lovingly compiled an Illustrated Discography here.

Galactic Zoo Disk: Psychedelica archivist Steve Krakow (aka Plastic Crimewave) has teamed up with Drag City to reissue several long lost psych gems this year on limited edition vinyl. I had never heard of either J.T. IV ("Cosmic Lightning") or The George Edwards Group ("38:38"), but that what makes this stuff so interesting. Krakow will continue to deliver the goods later this year with Michael Yonker's never-issued "Lovely Good". Also expect the always informative "Galactic Zoo Dossier" #8 in July.

Not that I'm bragging or anything...

...but I am very proud of owning this:



Prince, "When Doves Cry" 7". On purple wax, for chrissakes!

Friday, June 26, 2009

STACK SESSIONS: SO MANY DYNAMOS INTERVIEW


(poster by John Vogel)

So Many Dynamos are playing a CD release show/party for their new album "The Loud Wars" at The Firebird tomorrow (more info here), and to getchaself ready, you can download and listen to an interview we did with them this past Wednesday. We spoke about the process of making the album, the St. Louis music scene, and what happens when Dave Matthews Band records are sent to the station.

Check it here!

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STACK SESSIONS: CROCODILES



The Crocodiles show at The Firebird on Wednesday has had a lot of coverage in the last couple of days, mostly because it didn't happen. You can read more about it on the RFT's blog A To Z, which posted an initial report here and followed up with Crocodiles' response here. Listening to the interview post-show kind of reinforces my understanding that it was a shitty situation, and that neither party is to blame (The Firebird handled the situation phenomenally and it's certainly not going to stop me from seeing shows there).

The band says right off the bat that they love playing shows in St. Louis, and they came across as approachable and interesting guys, at least to me. Anyway, if nothing else, it adds another dimension to the scenario (the interview took place 2 hours before the show started).

Crocodiles interview

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INTERVIEWS TODAY


THE WIYOS - ANY MINUTE NOW


SPLITLIP RAYFIELD - 2:00pm
only on KWUR 90.3 FM

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thoughts on MJ

What struck me most about MJ passing was how quickly I knew about it. I was in a supermarket and suddenly, a breaking news thing about someone going to the hospital, I didn't catch who it was. As I walked down the street, I heard people whispering about how Michael Jackson was dead. I walked into a bodega and they were playing "Rock With You" on the radio. I asked the clerk - and it's gotta be big to make small talk with a clerk you don't know in NYC - whether it was true that he was dead, and the clerk said not yet, but basically. And so that's how I found out, literally from the street.

I'm not as sad about it as I was when, say, James Brown died. I think it's because Michael Jackson was so huge that I didn't feel like I had a personal connection to him. He was larger than life. To the extent that I'm sad, I'm sad because Michael himself had such an awful life. His childhood was unimaginably miserable, he was mercilessly beaten almost constantly and possibly sexually abused by his father. I never really held MJ's later weirdness against him because his childhood was so disturbed and strange. Before the Jackson 5 hit it big, they performed on the chitlin' circuit, and that meant a lot of shows where they were the warm-up and sometimes even the backing music for strippers. That's got to warp a kid. And I think his story is one of epic tragedy: a man who had all the wealth and fame in the world and would have given it all away (hell, tried to give it all away) to get his childhood back.

The thing about Michael Jackson's career is that the sheer success of his career was really unprecedented and unimaginable. My dad mentioned the fact that some people were huge for ten or twenty years, but Michael made hits for just about thirty years. Thriller is just an inconceivably amazing album, where virtually every cut is a hit known around the world; you might not think you know every song on Thriller, but trust me, you probably do. Bad, which is not as good an album imho, had FIVE number one hits, the only album to ever do that. And the thing about Michael's solo career is that unlike a lot of pop stars, he wrote most of his best material. Considering his track record, that's an insane feat.

Being a soul guy, I tend to prefer the older Jackson 5 stuff. Usually, when I talk about the Jackson 5, I talk about the incredible songwriting and arrangements. The bass line for "I Want You Back" is one of my favorite things ever, it's how I learned to love bass. But Michael was no slouch either. I love the young Michael's voice, it has this great, clear, bell-like timbre that I just always associate with happiness. He also had an amazing talent, rare among most kids, to really sing like a soul singer, really put his voice into overdrive. I love the J5 cover of "Who's Lovin' You", if you want a showcase of the young Michael's voice, you can't do much better than that. Tonight, I've been listening to "Never Can Say Goodbye", just listening to how Michael slowly lets his voice build until the climax of the ending, a bubbly, joyful explosion of pure soul. Other great things to check out are the amazing covers of J5 songs, like Isaac Hayes' always great cover of Never Can Say Goodbye and David Ruffin's cover of I Want You Back.


You know, writing this post and thinking about it, I may not feel a deep personal connection to Michael Jackson, but he's been the background music for some great times. I have this one picture sleeve 45 single of Smooth Criminal that I just freakin' love. It's scratched up beyond repair and almost always skips, but I have to resist the temptation to put it on during parties, because people always just go nuts when they hear it and it always builds the party up (until it skips, that is). All that shit is still as fresh as it ever was, and that's an amazing thing.

I have one last great MJ experience. This last semester, as some of you might know, I was in the People's Republic of China. One day, I visited a high school English class in Lijiang, high up in the mountains of northern Yunnan. I opened the floor up to questions and the very first question was actually a request: would you sing an American pop song? This is actually a more common request than you think. Chinese people love to sing their pop songs together (think Karaoke), and everyone tend to know every word of all the hot pop song, just because their pop music is not as fragmented as ours is (there isn't a big indie movement). But it's difficult for Americans, or at least for me. So I asked, uh, what would you like to hear? And they shouted out, your favorite and then, Michael Jackson. Oh, Michael Jackson, I said, that's easy. And I promptly belted out the chorus to Billie Jean, complete with woohs. Which the students, of course, also knew the words to.

For me, that's MJs legacy. He brings people together: now, and probably forever.

Michael Jackson is Dead

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

STACK SESSIONS PREVIEW: SO MANY DYNAMOS

UPDATE: due to technical issues (dead keyboard), the in-studio has been post-poned BUT the band will still be in the studio at 4:30 for an interview. We'll be rescheduling the in-studio for some later date, don't worry man!


River Front Times darlins So Many Dynamos will be stopping by the station tomorrow at 4:30 PM to chat about their newly released album, The Loud Wars (full disclosure: it's totally fucking rad go buy it right now). They were originally slated to perform live for your aural pleasure BUT it looks like tragedy has struck in the form of a busted keyboard, so the performance is unconfirmed at the moment. It hasn't been ruled out entirely yet, but things aren't looking good - which is a real bummer for the guys, as they're about to kick off a tour and have a bunch of shows coming up in the next few days. You can follow updates on the situation (whether there'll be a live performance or not, basically) in REAL TIME on our Twitter (so lame). In any case, be sure to turn yr radio dial to 90.3 tomorrow!

WORD

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TOMORROW - 6/24/09 - C.J. CHENIER


THE ZYDECO LEGEND WILL BE AT THE STATION - 12PM CENTRAL

CATCH HIM ON THE AIR AT 90.3 FM -- or live at POP'S

hear some stuff

Thursday, June 18, 2009

STACK SESSIONS: LINEUP

Here's the line-up for Stack Sessions OH NINE, as promised:

June:
21 - Telekinesis!
24 - CJ Chenier // So Many Dynamos
25 - Benyaro
26 - The Features

July:
5 - The Paper Chase
11 - These United States
24 - Those Darlins

August:
3 - Casper & The Cookies

Okay so that seems a bit sparse, BUT, it's pretty fluid - new shows are announced all the time, and we're working on getting a lot of local acts in as well. Needless to say, this is just the beginning - stay tuned for more announcements in the coming days and weeks (it's like a big 3 month long music festival!). Also, keep your eye out for postings of interviews and instudios past.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

STACK SESSIONS: JON HARDY

Awhile ago, Jon Hardy (of Jon Hardy + The Public) was in the station to discuss the band's new EP "Little Criminals" (available for free download from the RFT and KDHX) and how they made this totally fucking awesome music video, among other things. You can download the interview HERE, and as an added bonus, there are a few songs from the EP sprinkled throughout. Hoping to have these guys back in for a full-on in-studio, but right now it looks like that won't happen for another couple of months. Keep your ears and eyes peeled, though.


(photo courtesy of JH+TP myspace)

OKAY COOL

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STACK SESSIONS: CUT OFF YOUR HANDS


(excellent poster design courtesy of Bob Hartzell)

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Phil and Elroy from Cut Off Your Hands about the New Zealand music scene, departed band members, how their sound is progressing, and what it really means to stand around the water cooler at work. They played the Firebird with Viva Voce, and all bands involved put on a killer show. The interview was a lot of fun and you can check it HERE. ((sorry about the sound quality at the beginning, I was still getting a hang on how to use the Marantz)).

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

KWUR PRESENTS: STACK SESSIONS – SUMMER OH NINE

Okay kids, listen up. Summer’s here and you know what that means: cold beer, hot pavement, and even hotter live band action in KWUR’s very own CD/vinyl stacks. We’ll be covering concerts around town, interviewing bands, and hosting them in the KWUR lounge/recording studio for live, in-studio performances. You can always listen live (you really should), but in case you miss it we’ll be posting the interviews and some of the in-studios right here on the KWUR blog (for the time being, at least until we find someplace better). An ongoing Stack Sessions line-up will be available soon, but for now, bask in the glory of the inaugural edition: RED COLLAR + MEAT PUPPETS, live from May 28th, 2009.

Red Collar









Interview

~~~~~~

Meat Puppets






all photographs courtesy of Lane Goodman

Interview (the first few minutes are missing but it is a fascinating listen nonetheless - don't worry about context, trust me)

That's it for now, but there's much more to come so stay tuned......

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R.I.P. Bob Bogle, 1934-2009

"Pioneering guitarist Bob Bogle, whose rock-instrumental band the Ventures scored a pair of hits in the 1960s with "Walk, Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O," has died, the group said on Tuesday. He was 75."



Obituary

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Looking Back: Eulogies + Bad Veins Interviews

A couple of months ago, then-promotions director Amanda and I sat down and had a conversation with Eulogies and Bad Veins when they came through town. We recorded both interviews and, like many interviews with KWUR (coughNirvanacough), they sat on a dusty hard drive (mine) for months before someone (me) even thought about letting them see the light of day. My laziness aside, I finally got around to editing the audio and now present them to you, faithful readers, for your listening pleasure:

Eulogies Interview

We and guitarist/vocalist Peter Walker discuss their new record "Here Anonymous," the Twitter phenomenon, and Scrabble. Also he tells us we are great, and we return the compliment.

Bad Veins Interview

Ben, Sebastien, Amanda and I discuss just about everything. Highlights include: how they're going to name the new record, crazy shows, and their invention company.

(both interviews took place at an Imo's, hence the background noise).

((oh yeah, I'm sitting on a bunch of other interviews - Vivian Girls, Cut Off Your Hands, Meat Puppets - which I want to get out soon. I won't promise anything because if I do it'll probably never get done. But keep your eyes peeled))

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sonic Adult

Sonic Youth's 16th studio album, The Eternal, drops on Tuesday.

Not including the wonderful SYR series, it'll be their first full-length indie label release since 1988's now classic Daydream Nation (as recognized by the Library of Congress National Recording Registry).

If you were lucky enough (or really just had the disposable cash-money) to pre-order from Matador, you'll get a nifty bonus LP from their free/WFMU sponsored July 4th NYC concert from last summer. It's a good one.

And finally, I'll be the first to admit this is pretty great:


Even better: Letterman on 6/10:

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Jon Hardy & The Public

So we'll be going live with JH&TP pretty soon (6PM CST), and in the process of getting ready for the interview, I stumbled upon this:

Little Criminals from Jon Hardy & The Public on Vimeo.



The song is a cover of Randy Newman's Little Criminals, and the video is one of the most visually arresting things I have seen in quite some time. Be sure we'll be talking about that, among other things. So..... tune in!

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

In 25 years, will they make music with Wiis?

Meet Anamanaguchi. Here's how they describe themselves: "Anamanaguchi makes loud, fast music with a hacked NES from 1985." Here's what Oh My Rockness has to say: "Guitarist/Programmer Peter Berkman hacks into an original Nintendo and manipulates its sound chip to create, along with Ary Warnaar and James DeVito, some of the catchiest and most delightful rock-outs you'll hear." My goal for the summer now is to see them live, but you can listen for yourself here. Or better yet, watch.

Anamanaguchi - Sting Operation
(MP3 via 8bitpeoples)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

DEEP BLUES FESTIVAL

KWUR WILL BE GIVING AWAY TICKETS TO THE DEEP BLUES FESTIVAL IN MINNEAPOLIS, MN, THE #1 WORLDWIDE OUTSIDER BLUES FESTIVAL

CEDELL DAVIS IS COMING OUT OF HIS NURSING HOME RETIREMENT TO PLAY THE SHOW



ALSO: ELMO WILLIAMS AND HEZEKIAH EARLY - PROBABLY THE BEST BLUES DUO ALIVE - ARE GONNA BE THERE

STAY TUNED FOR MORE INFO

Monday, June 01, 2009

Finally, Conan's Tonight Show Takeover...

It's time for Conan O'Brien to take over the "Tonight Show." Finally, I can go to bed an hour earlier and still catch the best show in late night television.

This all started back in 2004, when NBC feared Conan, who had the highest 12:30 slot ratings, would jump to another network and take his coveted male 18-35 demographic with him. So, against all odds, they promised him the Tonight Show five years in advance while seemingly pushing Jay Leno into retirement.

Of course, Mediocrity (however, I hear his "real" stand-up is good) refused to leave and he'll still be on at 10pm for all the old folks who just don't get Conan. Why does Leno suck so much? I think the AV Club pretty much nailed it.

Things to look for on the new Tonight Show:
- A brand new sophisticated art-deco set (in Universal City the next building over from where I used to work!) referencing his old home at 30 Rockefeller center. Don't worry, Conan reassures us that “You can still be a jackass in an elegant space.”
- A set of jokes about Conan's awkward transition life in L.A. This should be good, especially for those who've lived in L.A. before.
- Andy Richter: he's back!

And as a little preview, one of my favorite Conan sketches. Dinner with producer Jordan Slansky:


Plus, The New Republic's favorite moments.