On the heels of its debut LP Eyelid Movies (on Barsuk), Phantogram – the Saratoga Springs, NY, duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel – is setting course on a national headlining tour, including an Oct. 8 stop in Phoenix at Sanctum, a Central Phoenix bar/nightclub/venue I admittedly know nothing about.
I have precious little information about the show, other than Josiah Wolf of WHY? appears to be the opener.
What I do know is that Eyelid Movies is a great album, bringing electronic elements and live instrumentation together in warm and tripped-out fashion. Barthel spelled out her hip-hop influence for us in April, and you can hear it come through on the record (especially on a track like As Far As I Can See)
Memo to all bands boycotting Arizona: This is how you engage/inform people and affect change. How about having some courage to actually organize a concert as a form of activism inside our state lines – instead of, say, California?
It’s a free show for anyone who pledges to vote on Nov. 2, and registration will be available for first-time voters. An excerpt from the press release:
Representatives from local non-profit human rights and immigration organizations will be there to provide information about SB 1070, immigration, and related human rights issues.
Artists for Action member Joey Burns, of Calexico, explains, “This will be a great way to get people in the Phoenix area excited about voting this fall and educated about the immigration issues facing Arizona today.”
For as awful as SB 1070 is, it’s interesting to me that the only people that really seem to get it are the bands/musicians/people from Arizona facing the issue every day, not the bandwagon boycotters eager for a quick headline. I found comments by Kim Gordon of now-boycotting Sonic Youth quite amusing: “I’ve always regarded Arizona as semi-evil. I don’t know if the logic really pans out, but my gut reaction is: I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to celebrate Arizona.” Always, eh? You had no problems playing TWO shows in our state in January – and no doubt taking home healthy paychecks from them.
Hopefully, Arizonans will have a long memory when it comes time to remembering the bands and musicians that abandoned the fans – most of whom probably agree with their political viewpoints – and those who came here to offer their voice.
A show with Menemona as the sole headliner is enough to qualify as a great night – I can attest the band’s engaging live show – but now Stateside Presents has gone ahead and added a co-headliner in The Soft Pack (pictured above), whose self-titled debut LP that was released in February is one of my very favorites of the year. (I like it so much I bought it in its incredible 7-inch box set form.)
As for Menemona – a band whose name I find amazingly difficult to type correctly for some reason – I just picked up the new album, Mines, today, and after one listen it already sounds like a winner in a year full of them.
Since April 2008, Spoon has been fairly consistent in making good on a promise to offer a free bonus download at its website every month.
I haven’t been as vigilant in checking the site as I have in the past, but I was glad to find a July goodie to download the other day when I finally made my way back to Spoon’s homepage. So get over there between now and next Saturday to download an early rehearsal version of Something To Look Forward To, the studio version of which you can find on the band’s very awesome 2002 album Kill the Moonlight. Or, um, download it below.
Yeah, looks like just another one of my typical weekend days: Lounging poolside in a custom suit, drinking beers, listening to records, dancing with attractive women in a backyard overlooking a gorgeous canyon. Yep. Sounds about right.
There is little doubt that SB 1070 – that heinous anti-immigration black eye on our state – has sullied Arizona’s reputation. When I traveled to Illinois for a wedding last month, that’s all anybody seemed interested in asking about when I revealed I was from here. Though I find nothing redeemable about this bill, I’m sick at how many people who know so little about or never have been to Arizona suddenly have so much to say about it. Hey, look, I’m not defending our conservative politicians (I didn’t vote for them), I’m just not willing to accept people disrespecting the place I’ve called home for almost 25 years. I guess it’s my civic pride.
So thank God for a band like Calexico, an Arizona institution. The Tucson-based group has jumped in the SB 1070 fray, but they’re not asking/expecting musicians to not voice opposition to it (who would?). They’re taking a different tack: Come to Arizona and actually do something. Don’t boycott from afar. That’s too easy.
“We’re asking artists to take a stand, make their voices heard and inspire fans to get involved,” frontman Joey Burns says. “Now is the time when art can make a difference. Now is the time for action.”
As an Arizonan, I’m quite grateful for Calexico, a band sticking its neck out to engage in thoughtful dialogue at a time when it’s not very popular to be from here.
And, really, all I wanted to tell you is that the band, in conjunction with CASH Music, is offering a free download (320 KBPS) of a 2009 show in Nuremberg, Germany. The download is a way for the band to celebrate the start of a new tour, but I’m listening (and appreciating) Calexico for reasons that hit closer to home.
Calexico, Live in Nuremberg (download via CASH music):
2. Bend To The Road
4. Crystal Frontier
5. Two Silver Trees
6. Red Blooms
7. Victor Jara’s Hands
8. Man Made Lake
9. Fractured Air
10. All Systems Red
I’m dedicating this post to our good friends Jay and Carrie, who not only are fans of New York-by-way-of-Phoenix band Miniature Tigers but are soon taking what is sure to be an epic trip to Japan.
How is this relevant, you ask. Well, AbsolutePunk.net is streaming a new Miniature Tigers song called Japanese Woman, a track that will be on the band’s sophomore album Fortress, due out on July 27. It’s sort of a misnomer to call this a new song; the group has been playing it live for at least the past year or so, including a session for AOL’s The Interface last June.
But this is the polished product, on which frontman Charlie Brand sings: “Oh, man, my brother went to Japan / He got caught up in the culture and says he’s never coming home.” I’m sure Jay and Carrie aren’t even considering abandoning us like that.
If you’ll indulge me in a song I’ve posted about before – twice. But my wife and I spent most of Wednesday cleaning out what we call the “computer room,” our catch-all space where we keep everything from the primary computer to an elliptical machine to a bookshelf with my (unopened!) Michael Jordan Starting Lineup figure (this one).
It’s a room that was a comfortable mess – until it became an uncomfortable mess. It was the type of room in which you only remembered where something was in relation to the clutter around it: “Oh, that unused checkbook is in the same drawer as the three-hole punch!” (Why do we own a three-hole punch anyway?). There was just stuff everywhere – CDs, wires, papers, 45s. I’m not talking Hoarders-style mess, but it became overwhelming enough that we were inspired to purge. And it became readily apparent as we were cleaning that this room was an electronics graveyard, a dusty museum of dated technology. Long-dead hard drives and orphaned AC adapters finally met their maker. RIP.
Still, like anything, there’s a certain trepidation to letting go. Oh, sure, we hung on to our fair share of cables (“I’ll need this some day”, you tell yourself), but we finally took a stand, and god damn it we’re going to recycle those cell phones from 1998! Why, though, did I feel a certain loyalty to these inanimate objects? For the past month, I’d been cursing that good-for-nothing, motherfucking scroller ball in our Mac Mighty Mouse that absolutely refused to respond when I wanted to scroll down. (Strangely, it didn’t respond either when I slammed it on the desk two or three – or 10 – times.) But when it came time to, uh, pull the plug, something felt odd. You invest money and faith in this technology only to throw it away like an ATM receipt? I expected more, I guess.
All the while, I could only think of the Meanest Man Contest song, Throwing Away Broken Electronics, a fitting soundtrack for the day. And I remembered what emcee Eriksolo told me when I asked him about the inspiration for the track:
“I was cleaning out my house one day and I came across all this old gear that I used to make music on but was no longer really working right. It made me really nostalgic and sorta melancholy. But then it also felt really good to get rid of it.”
As I sit here, typing from the cleanest I’ve ever seen this desk, no truer words have ever been spoken.
It hardly seems fair, all this talent sprouting from Los Angeles’ fertile underground hip-hop scene. From Project Blowed to Low End Theory and spots in between, LA fosters original and progressive movements that are the envy of other cities.
One of the rising stars of the scene is Open Mike Eagle, a former third- and fourth-grade special-ed teacher and Project Blowed alum who in May released his debut full-length, Unapologetic Art Rap on Mush Records. In placing it fourth on his list of Best Rap Albums of the Half Year, embedded LA scribe Jeff Weiss describes UAR as “the rare contemporary rap record that rewards (and demands) repeat listening.” He’s right, of course. Open Mike Eagle raps with contextual depth and mature self-reflection. In other words, he makes you think … and stuff.
Check out I Rock above, a song that lays out the cruel realities of trying to make a living as a teacher by day and rapper by night. Neither seems a very financially solvent path, even when combined. So do yourself – and Open Mike Eagle – a favor and plop down $8 on Sunday at the Hidden House (607 W. Osborn in Phoenix) to see him open for Canadian emcee Moka Only on the Fake Four Summer Tour, brought to you buy Universatile Music.
For more on Mike Eagle, read Weiss’ Q&A with him at LA Weekly.