Keeping with the spooky country vibe, we have this new outing by a rebuilt lineup of US Christmas. What’s interesting to me about this and several other albums that have wandered by my attention this year is how expansively the classification “metal” is getting thrown around. This album doesn’t sound all that metal to me, but I keep hearing US Christmas referred to as a metal band, or in the proximity of other metal bands. And they’re not the only instance of this I’ve noticed, just the only one I can think of right this minute. Seemingly, “metal” is a desirable tag to have attached to your band or record these days. Perhaps it’s a spreading conception that “indie” and “alternative” have gotten a bit too optimistic, or too wussy depending on your perspective, for guitar-driven music with a dark edge to it, while simultaneously the metal community, besides just being especially vibrant and creative of late and thus the kind of thing artists would like to be part of, has also begun to embrace heavier-sounding veteran artists such as Swans and Unsane that were previously classified under subheadings of alternative, indie, or punk. Perhaps this phenomenon is, or is becoming, cyclical: recall the late ’80s “Crossover” phenomenon of metal/hardcore hybrids like D.R.I., and the fact that Black Flag made attempts to market itself to metalheads at at least one point — “masters of pure metal” proclaimed an ad taken out by SST in Rip magazine that I saw once as a kid. In any case, from certain angles it’s looking as if metal is the emerging hip thing to be as 2010 draws to a close.

Run Thick In The Night, however, to these ears, is a spaced-out, occultish, psychedelic/space-country-jam-rock record that sounds like a mixture of Hawkwind, Caustic Resin, Codeine, and Sixteen Horsepower (or Wovenhand perhaps). The Obelisk clearly didn’t get this album, whereas Toby Cook at The Quietus definitely did. This makes sense, though, as H. P. Taskmaster is from Jersey, a fact prominently addressed in “Hi From Jersey,” the closing song on his band Maegashira’s album The Stark Arctic, another album from 2010 very much worth looking into. So it’s understandable if a guy from Jersey doesn’t quite relate to the wide expanses of an album that so strongly reflects and evokes the Appalachian country from which US Christmas hails. It’s fitting that the setting I chose for my first listen was the walk-out basement of my parents’ house, in the rural hills of Grant county, Wisconsin, late at night on Thanksgiving.

Trouble was, I ran out of gas about halfway through the album and had to go to sleep. One thing Run Thick In The Night shares with much of 2010’s crop of albums is that it’s long, and perhaps excessively so — 13 songs in 76 minutes this time. (Digress here into rambling meditation on the reasons behind this: in the age of iPods on shuffle, is there an incentive for bands to provide music in terms of quantity for the money?) And this is from a guy who likes long spacey instrumental jams. A handful of tracks aren’t much more than that though, and had some more attention been given to editing I think “Fonta Flora” might be one of a few good candidates for trimming out on those grounds. Fortunately, there are also multiple instances where the jam works seamlessly as part of a song.

Said jams are primarily found in the electric numbers: there are also a number of fine spectral folk songs done acoustic; in fact, those seem to be the two dominant modes of the album. The use of portamento-ing fiddles (violas?) fits in [nice]( with Nate Hall’s slurry-pitched wail the way that synthesizers sine-waving up and down do elsewhere. While it’s been said that the lineup that recorded this album was hastily cobbled together after some band members quit with recording sessions already booked, I think that, even though the second drummer might be superfluous (but doesn’t get in the way either), the strings and saxophone were [nice]( things to get in the bargain.

There seems to be a concept running through this album, with some chord progressions and fragments of lyrics making multiple appearances. The last two songs even seem to be revisions of songs found earlier in the album — “Mirror Glass” an acoustic version of “In The Night,” “The Moon In Flesh and Bone” an electric version of “Fire Is Sleeping.” I had to Google what a suzerain is, as it comes up in both “Suzerian” and “Ephriam In the Stars,” but I still don’t have the foggiest idea what it has to do with running thick or being legion in the night, as in “Suzerain” and “In The Night.” I think I could probably enjoy a few more listens to try to figure it out, though.

Dan, Jeff, and I hit the studio again on Sunday to lay down vocals and a few extra guitar parts and miscellaneous noises. Of the 9 songs we started with, 8 are basically all tracked now, and the other (“Meaningless”) we might re-take, provided we come up with another new song to throw in to make it worth the while (“Concerns” being the most likely candidate, given how it shaped up at the last practice).

Speaking of Dan and Jeff, Going To Grandma’s will be playing at Carl’s Place in Des Moines on December 18 with North Of Grand, about 9:30ish. I believe there are plans for them to do some recording. Why Make Clocks looks likely to get back on track to continue working on some version of the “cursed” Tight Dissolve album (so known because of the multiple unsuccessful prior attempts by earlier lineups of the band to record it) come the new year.

Via Facebook this morning:

Ongoing project: putting all SLW albums up for free streaming and pay what you want mp3 downloads on bandcamp. More soon…

Awesome! Now I can get Where The Sick Go To Die in a higher bitrate than I have now. (Though I still intend to get a cassette copy from Unread because I’m such a superfan.) Today Is The Tomorrow You Were Worried About Yesterday is still short about half its tracks, but give the man time.

I didn’t know about this before, so I hadn’t been linking to it when mentioning them, but Mumford’s have a rather [[nice](]( website. I found out about it this morning when they posted a link on Facebook to its latest posting, “What We’re Working On.”

Orthodox – “Matse Avatar”

This one has definitely held up for me. Being a bit new to the band but loving these two songs so much, I’ve gone and checked out some of their previous material and they do a really intriguing mix of doom and jazz with some medieval folk overtones, and on some of their stuff they go all-out acoustic with string bass and trumpet. Their name has a delightful irony to it as they seem to piss off a lot of purists. How could I possibly not love a band like that?

Samuel Locke-Ward & The Boo-Hoos/Mumfords split 7″

The relatively straightforward loud rock tunes of the Boo-Hoos side has needed a little time to grow on me, but I’m starting to catch myself humming “When It’s Gone It’s Gone” at idle moments. Sam has definitely assembled a crack band, too. Check out Rachel Feldman’s bass lines! And I still love this Mumford’s song.

Poison Control Center – Sad Sour Future

One of this year’s most important albums for Iowa music fans. I think the last real “breakout” Iowa band was probably Modern Life Is War (at least if you follow the hardcore scene — I didn’t realize how big they had gotten until I started noticing them name-dropped in unexpected corners of the Web) but now in 2010 we have Davenport’s Mondo Drag and these guys both releasing a strong album, playing some big shows, and working the road hard. Of the two, PCC definitely get more press in central Iowa (Mondo Drag got as much as a slightly puzzled mention on the We Hate Music podcast last week), and they have a long history here and mountains of well-deserved love and respect. What criticism Sad Sour Future draws seems to be for its length, but there isn’t a bum song on it. 17 songs in 71 minutes just reflects the firehose of creativity that these guys are. The curse-side of this blessing is that it’s hard to name a standout song or three in the midst of such a big slab of consistently fine material. Also I wonder whether the music scene is yet ready for an updating of Pavementesque slacker guitars and mid-period Flaming Lips whimsy — a lot of the core audience for that kind of thing is grown-up, settled-down, and has a hard time making it out to the rock clubs for anything less than ’90s heroes reunited. Will today’s indie kids hear this as something new or something old? Hopefully they hear is for what it is, something awesome.

Olde Growth s/t

I missed out on the limited edition of 100 CDs this two-man psychedelic doom band self-released this year but did grab a download while they were still giving them out and am looking forward to Meteor City putting it out next year. Will probably write a little more about it then.

It’s True! s/t

One of my top albums of the year by a Midwest band, maybe by any band, this CD out of Omaha deserves as much accolades on artistry alone as does Sad Sour Future. Heard it playing between sets at the Mews recently and wanted to shout to the crowd to quiet down for a couple minutes to listen. I didn’t mention it in my earlier article, but at times Adam Hawkins’s voice reminds me George Michael in his prime, and it works awesomely (see “What Have I Done?”). Last I heard, Hawkins moved to Ames, so I’m guessing this lineup is over. Hopefully he hooks up with a new crew and makes another record this good.

Cathedral – The Guessing Game

Another album of possibly excessive length, this was actually my introduction to these doom-metal stalwarts, and it may not be the best album for that, given how much has been made of the incorporation of early 70s prog-rock influences as a new element to the sound. The progressive melodies and mellotrons work beautifully on the instrumental title track, “Death of an Anarchist,” “Cats, Incense, Candles & Wine,” and a few other tracks, but the transitions between metal chug and odd-meter marimbas on “Funeral of Dreams” still feel clunky. Said track, coming early in the album, also suffers from another of the album’s downfalls, which is the occasional presence of some rather corny lyrics, especially when Lee Dorian goes for the simplistic attacks on the sociopolitical establishment and Christianity. But then again, these work toward the same everyman appeal that doom metal so often builds on, that got my attention the first time I heard a St. Vitus album. Still, I often find myself moving on before this track is up, forgetting how I’d be rewarded if I stuck it out. The band displays very accomplished musicianship and writing, both on the proggy bits and when they are in their wheelhouse of ominous crunchy riffage. Predominantly clean vocals and a lot of very catchy riffs and melodies give the album some pop appeal; in a better world, the ode to Edwige Fenech (I had to Google for the reference, to be honest) “Edwige’s Eyes” would be a radio hit. But there’s a good measure of heaviness and appealingly “difficult” moments like “The Running Man,” which revisits the pounding of King Crimson’s classic “21st Century Schizoid Man” then builds into a noise rave-up. Generally though, Cathedral have gone beyond mere riffing and dark atmosphere to write songs, which is something I really enjoy hearing in a heavy album.

Why Make Clocks played with these guys at DG’s Tap House in Ames and really liked them. What I saw was a skilled psychedelic country-rock band who know their way around effects pedals and jangle. I was surprised to hear that they hailed from Brooklyn, but it all made sense when I found out later that the band members are all Midwestern transplants from Kansas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The big city apparently hasn’t knocked any of the flyover country dust from their boots, and the group’s moniker seems like it may have been chosen as a hint of what the show-goer might be in for, or what they might be surprised by.

This CD-R was on their merch table. According to the guys in the band, it was supposed to be released on cassette but the label didn’t have it out in time for the tour. It’s just as well: the band we saw in Ames was much more road-tight than what I hear on this. But Transmission has its own charms too. It evokes the transcendence of open country spaces that might be Midwestern or Western — not least because the first half of the album is mixed with enough reverb to sound like you’re seeing the band play a show at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The photograph of a radio tower against the night sky, with way more stars showing than you can see from in town, is well chosen. Side A’s highlights are definitely the spooky rocker “Festival,” with whirling space-rock synthesizers and a false ending before the rave-up second half, and the sweet ballad “Bullet Of a Gun.”

After an electric instrumental jam “Exit the Burn,” Side B commits the remainder of the album to an acoustic folk and country blues approach. For the drop in instrumentation, however, it doesn’t lose the least bit of the haunted country atmosphere stirred up by the first half. Transmissions definitely has me interested in what We Are Country Mice come up with next, and I hope they come back around Ames or Des Moines again to show it to us when they do.

Here’s a pretty neat interview I found.

It’s getting that time of the year when music-writing types come up with their annual top-n lists. But lately I think annual top-n lists kinda suck. Marc Hogan kinda gets what I’m talking about. I decided instead to just grab a few of the many albums that came out in 2010 that got my attention and try writing a little something about them. I promise they won’t all be this long.

I first met Samuel Locke-Ward, then just Sam Locke, when he was still in high school. I was in this band in Cedar Falls called No Consensus, and somehow we got a show in Ottumwa, Sam’s hometown, at this all-ages venue-slash-video arcade called GameZone. A band called Yellow 5 opened; Sam, the guitarist, strutted and flailed like a psychedelic conjurer during a lengthy, noisy solo on a three-chord epic called “Into The Dawn” that No Consensus later parodied as “Upward And West.”

Then Sam was in The Eggnogs. The Eggnogs had Jason Bolinger on drums — he’s in She Swings She Sways these days along with Yellow 5 bassist Troy Morgan — and Jason’s brother Josh on bass. Sonically, The Eggnogs were an odd mix of The Melvins and The Pixies, but Sam’s total-nutjob frontman style, and the way it worked with his lyrics, were what really made them interesting. The Eggnogs worked hard, rocked hard, played lots of shows, made lots of DIY recordings, and wrote several really classic yet singularly weird songs. It was apparent already that Sam had a way with a poppy chord progression and a catchy melody and even more of a way with taking that poppy chord progression or melody and subverting it with a noisy guitar, a psychologically disturbing lyric, and his distinctive performing persona.

After the end of The Eggnogs, Sam hooked up with a like-minded songwriter Jason Hennesy, his equal in catchy melodies and fucked-up lyrics, and the two of them put together the band Miracles Of God. Sam also did a whole lot of other projects — solo stuff and bands like The Kickass Tarantulas and Trophy Beau. It would make for good promo or maybe good reality TV to say that Sam’s solo career, and the prolific output it’s partly known for, got rolling when Sam was hit by a drunk driver in Columbia, Missouri, while pushing the broken-down Miracles Of God van off the road. The accident mangled his legs up pretty good, requiring extensive reconstructive surgery and a lengthy hospital stay, and one could invent a good story in which the experience impressed upon Sam the preciousness of our time on this Earth, such that he has spent every waking moment since working like mad on his music. But though the ordeal has provided inspiration for a few of his songs, the truth is that Sam has always been as intensely creative and driven as he is now; it’s said that he woke up in the hospital after the accident already trying to plan how they would be able finish the tour. (Another thing about Sam: he absolutely hates to cancel shows.) This not being possible, he kept himself occupied by recording a solo album literally in his hospital bed, the fragile folk piece Boombox By Bedside, which you can get on cassette from Unread Records.

Today, Boombox sounds like an uncharacteristically intimate piece for Sam: something in most of his work has involved a certain amount of distance, mystery, and intentional off-puttingness accomplished via blasts of noise, the affectation of lugubrious or sarcastic vocal tones (an element dating back at least as far as The Eggnogs), the occasional atonal saxophone blare from frequent collaborator Pete Balistrieri, a former member of The Horns Of Dilemma (otherwise known as the horn section of The Violent Femmes). It nonetheless makes the music, and your mental picture of the man behind it, all the more compelling.

I myself played in some of Sam’s live shows in 2008, including having the great honor of playing bass and trumpet, sometimes simultaneously, in the July 2008 “Samuel Locke-Ward and the Solid Gold Dancers” tour with The Teddy Boys, and have even posed as him once, at his request, in January 2009, shortly after I moved to Des Moines, in order to fulfill an engagement at Vaudeville Mews that conflicted with an event requiring his presence at The Mill (the Iowa City restaurant and venue where he books and runs a bit of sound).

All this makes for a rather long prelude to an article that purports to be about Sam’s latest nominally solo work, Barely Regal Beagles, but it helps me in my role as scenester to impress you with how well and for how long I am acquainted with such a talented and interesting person. Or perhaps it serves by way of disclaimer that I’m already inclined to speak well of just about anything Sam puts together. Or maybe it serves as a recap that feels necessitated by how much Barely Regal Beagles feels like it’s part of the opening of a new chapter.

For one thing, this is the first release under the Samuel Locke-Ward name that comes on actual pressed CDs — and in a glossy full-color sleeve, no less — as opposed to computer-burned CD-Rs with “SLW” sharpie’d on them, lovingly inserted into slimline cases picked up at OfficeMax, with photocopied paper inserts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: the DIY ethic has always been an important part of Sam’s modus operandi and appeal. As there’s no label name to be found on the packaging, I’m guessing Sam has had these CDs manufactured and printed at his own expense. Perhaps Grotto Records‘s offer to release From the Privilege of the Grave, his collaborative industrial-noise-folk album with Darren Brown (Texxar, Boy Dirt Car), on vinyl LP, nudged Sam in the direction of a more traditionally “professional” presentation; he’s since also done a split 7″ with his new band The Boo-Hoos, with Mumfords on the other side.

Barely Regal Beagles is certainly deserving of the semi-pro treatment: it’s quite good. And moreover, it’s possibly Sam’s most cohesive solo album yet; where previous releases might be seen as containing abundant good ideas that were yet a bit disjointed from each other, on Barely Regal Beagles all the different stylistic threads are still there — the assault-folk sound perfected with 2008’s Sacrilege, Treason, Treachery, and Thyme; the industrial-noise queasiness of Privilege and the Manhorse III The Meatbag collaboration We All Love Candy; the guitar power-pop sounds of the Boo-Hoos stuff; and lots of elements touching on the weirder regions of lo-fi indie rock and freak-folk — but now they’re also starting to really make sense together.

“Funeral For Coach” gets the album off to a strong start; the song might skirt controversy if you suspect that it references Ed Thomas. Although in the first verse Sam seem to be making fun of the titular coach who “slaps your ass,” after enough dramatic tempo changes for a Broadway musical number it ends with a soaring choir chorus that suggests a celebration of the departed’s memory being “buried in our lives,” even as a black-metal demon screams along in the background. A few other songs early in the album use such dramatic elements — there’s the shift in tape speed that effects a beautiful key/tempo change on the slightly Guided By Voices-ish “Will Be Heaven,” making the second chorus positively chilling; “You Are The Turd” packs in several changes in instrumentation and dynamics that show off Sam’s multi-instrumental prowess on keyboards, guitars, lap-steel and accordion while also giving the song heart-swelling emotional weight appropriate for lyrics that reassure the song’s subject, someone going though hard times and a trashing of their reputation, “don’t think twice, it’s all right, we’re friends.”

The punk-folk vibe Sam first started employing on Golden Favorites: Where Sobriety Is King makes an initial appearance, just barely, on the frenetic blast “Let’s Give Them Hairless Hacks”. Balistrieri’s sax wails, and there’s this weird downward-bending note from some kind of Casio keyboard that pops in during the chorus that’s almost a word of lyrics in itself. “Five Nightmares” is a bash-waltz that’s about as close to Tom Waits as Sam gets, with its deathly imagery and more of Balistrieri’s wailing sax. Just past the midpoint of the album “The River” gives us more of the shouty folk thing. The solo-acoustic “Little Moon Face” shows another, gentler facet of Sam’s folk side, and is just one of the spots on the album where Sam’s usual pessimistic facade seems to be softening a bit. Sam’s technical shortcomings as a vocalist are much in the foreground on this number, but he positively owns his flaws in a way that only a certain kind of performer can really get away with.

“Find Me A Man” shows us a bit of the pop-punk style that The Boo-Hoos have been representing, as does “Taking Away The Pop,” a portrait of an exasperated parent driving some hyperactive kids somewhere. More of this feel comes through on “The Golden Kids Are Brats” (which features a weird distorted sort of 60s beach-rock backup vocal) and “Fleas Must Go,” but not before “Hey, Well Dressed Brothers” closes the album’s first half. The song confuses me a bit: there’s a martial rhythm to the verses, and Sam switches voices in different sections suggesting a change of character roles, but I’m having a hard time connecting the lyrics of the different parts of the songs together into the narrative it suggests. The chorus seems like it might be going for a prequel to Sacrilege‘s opener, “Now We Have Won”: “We’ll fight the ones with evil ways in their hearts, we’ll come at night take no prisoners at all, we’ll make you wish you were never born.” “Church Of The Bloated Man” revisits these themes or righteous communal violence and revenge later: “Take an axe to your family’s home/We need the wood for the gallows,” he commands in a sinister whisper, and lots of things get set on fire to the sound of a Casio.

Had the album ended after “Well Dressed Brothers,” it would already be a satisfying, though short, collection. But the second half has its share of moments too. “This Pooch Shall Fly” sticks out for its unusual length — seven minutes, from a guy whose songs frequently don’t stretch to two. It comes off like a lo-fi attempt at a Melvins version of “Eye Of The Tiger.” It drones a bit, but I reckon it could be a real fist-pumper in the live show.

“Clown’s Choice” is another side-two standout for its uncomfortable possible self-referential implications; Sam is a master of the uncomfortable. Self-deprecation is one thing, but Sam brings it to a level all his own. When an artist known for a touch of the outrageous delivers a line like “you can have my dignity for money, you can have my honor for cash” with this kind of pathos, it ought to give us a bit of a shiver. It fits with the back-cover photo of Sam in a captain’s hat, holding a banjo, looking thoroughly disgusted. It’s an example of the kind of art that holds one of those makeup-counter mirrors to the human condition, magnifying all the things we usually get through the day better ignoring. Yet only a couple tracks later, the rushing chorus of “Pleasant Are The Leisure Days,” co-written with Grace, directly contradicts its premise in a defiant declaration of dignity: “I wouldn’t be caught dead/looking like a clown/for all the kids to laugh/and kick me in my ass.”

“Let’s Leave Today” caps the album off on possibly the sunniest note yet heard on a Samuel Locke Ward album, as Sam invites the listener to walk beside him on what sounds like a voyage into a happy future. It’s a strange song from him, but it works and is welcome, and coming at the end of the album it almost feels like a pointer to things to come.

There are a certain key elements that Sam has been developing the past few years that accomplish the job of pulling all these things together and giving Barely Regal Beagles a real sense of identity. Sam’s characteristic homebrew production has skill behind it won from experience — even factoring out Kent Williams‘s post-production assistance, this is some of the clearest-sounding stuff I’ve ever heard done on cassette 4-track, even with clearly more than four tracks’ worth of colorful instrumentation audible at many points. (Usually when I ping-pong tracks on a 4-track it sounds like shit, but Sam seems to have mastered it.) Then there’s that whole mad-genius thing, a touch of Eugene Chadbourne perhaps, that has grown into such a defining element of Samuel Locke Ward as a musical personality. And most importantly, there is real songwriting going on here, from someone who has learned how to find just the right sound for what he means to say. All of these things have been present in Sam’s work for some time, Barely Regal Beagles puts them all into a package that even newcomers can make sense of.

Got a bit of good news crossing my Facebook timeline when one of my several old Cedar Falls homies that can now be found in the Olympia, WA area posted the following, along with an mp3 by his alter-ego Pythias Braswell:

Behold trusted allies/First track on my most recent EP: Invisible Hand/code name: suite for satanic hand dryer/new website overweight with quality/more to follow

And here’s the track:

Black Flame by Pythias Braswell

A two-minute ambient noise piece is something unexpected from a guy who I regard as one of the most poetic creatures ever to sing whilst strumming an acoustic guitar in person in my immediate presence. The other wonderful discovery connected with this post is the Freeday Alliance website, the online home of Pythias Braswell and another creative Cedar Falls-via-Olympia character, artist Boguslaw (née Jeff) Moravec, once the musical mastermind behind The Spectacle Of Klumpffnhauser & Louison’s Amusements & Oddities. They have CDs and books for sale and I’m seriously considering ordering one of each of everything. These guys are the shit. Check out Pythias’s songs page for more sounds.

Somewhere between the gleeful amateurism of early The Fall and the interstellar ambition of Hawkwind, between small amps and big ideas, sits Rhonda Is A Dead Bitch, unafraid to ride a two-note riff as far into the cosmos as it will take them. And a fun ride it is when they do. At Saturday night’s release party show for the Laos EP however, following fine opening sets of electro-noise-pop from Golden Veins and one-man indie-sludgegaze from Distant Trains, RIADB largely kept to shorter numbers that comparatively seemed almost like GBV vignettes; according to guitarist and apparent bandleader Jason Warden, this was a conscious decision in order to present a wider range of material. But I think hey, it was their party, they probably could have gotten away with a longer set. There were still some [nice]( jammy moments, just reigned-in a little, and [nice]( mixed in with some definite verses and choruses. The show drew a respectable crowd for such an artistically-inclined bill.

I bought a copy of the 180-gram-12″-only EP despite the fact that I don’t have a record player. I’m planning to get one as soon as I can, and to motivate myself, I’m gathering good excuses:

  • Rhonda Is A Dead Bitch – Laos EP
  • Samuel Locke Ward & Darren Brown – From The Privilege Of The Grave (even though I already had the “original” CD-R version with the uncleared sample, probably impossible to find now, I’m looking forward to the experience of listening to this one on vinyl)
  • Samuel Locke-Ward & The Boo-Hoos/Mumfords split 7″ (Still waiting for this one to arrive in the mail)
  • Miracles Of God – O’ What A Wonderful Day (ditto)
  • Orthodox – “Matse Avatar” 7″ (“An old lady mermaid sings like Geddy Lee.” Another song referencing Moby Dick, perhaps.)
  • Hallways of Always (William Elliot Whitmore & Jenny Hoyston) – Magical Mind
  • The Bassturd “Dirty Dirty South” 7″
  • Why Make Clocks The Transient Swivel 7″ EP (despite being a member of this band now, I have yet to hear this)
  • Coolzey – Eat the Roach EP (Grace really wanted me to have this)
  • Monotract – Pagu (Bryan Day gave me this one, I have no idea what it sounds like)
  • Derek Higgins/Dino Felipe split 7″ (ditto)

What with the holiday season however, I’m likely to find my money going elsewhere than buying this gift for myself — specifically, presents for the kid and a few others… or alternately, towards getting my ’72 Fender Super Six out of the shop… or, as we are in need of some new living room furniture at my apartment, maybe there will be a good sale on some. But seriously dammit, I’m getting a record player soon I swear.

In fact, I’m starting to feel inclinations to become a mostly vinyl music buyer, once I have suitable equipment. I’ve never really liked CDs, they seem so disposable. I remember when CDs came out, how on the one hand the record companies told us that our CDs would last forever, then in the very next breath told us that we must never ever touch them anywhere but on the edges, and never ever bend them — and then gave them to us in these plastic cases that you couldn’t get them out of without bending them… at least until the tiny plastic pieces that go hold it by the center hole broke off, which they inevitably did and then rattled around in the case against the playing surface, scratching it up, about the same time that the ridiculously frail hinges to the front cover also broke off. Despite your best efforts, you find that after 5 years or so half your CDs don’t play worth a shit anymore. Nowadays, CDs are the best physical medium to rip mp3s from, but anything you want mp3s of you can probably download them for nothing without too much effort. Everybody likes to see good cover art at fill size, and not though a scuffed-up plastic jewel case front. Records just seem cool, like a real serious artifact for the serious music nerd, something actually worth spending money on.

Anyway you can also get this EP at Red Rooster, ZZZ, Mars Cafe, and maybe if you’re not in Des Moines you can work something out to get it sent to you, I don’t know for sure. RIADB’s Facebook page, linked above, has a couple tracks from it, which have also been previously posted here, so you can get a taste. I’m looking forward to hearing it all the way through

Hope you had a fine Thanksgiving feast, if you do those. I retreated to my parents’ place in Bloomington, WI (in the obscure southwesterly Grant county) for about three and a half days, which is always a lovely time. I’m not kidding. I have the best family ever.

The great Samuel Locke Ward has seen fit to hit us with a feast of news and music: his latest blog post links to a free download live album of the Boo-Hoos set in Brooklyn, NYC from their recent tour with Joe Jack Talcum in which they also served as his backing band The Powders. There are at least two songs on it I’ve never heard before, “Do The Pinewood Box” and “This Edison Nightmare,” which I imagine will be on his next album which he mentions having 10 songs down on tape for. He also laundry-lists somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-dozen other projects he has underway, including a collaboration album with both Darren Brown (with whom he collaborated on From The Privilege Of The Grave) and Manhorse (likewise, We All Love Candy, which I still only have an mp3 rip of that I made at Aaron Hefel’s house when Why Make Clocks played in Dubuque, it’s a tough one to come by). The post also has a video of Joe Jack Talcum and The Powders performing my all-time favorite Dead Milkmen song “Life Is Shit.” Go check all that shit out.