Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"To roar once again, the people's music"
An update on the project

So far this project is beginning to really make the Midwest music scene much smaller to me.
Before I started, a place like Indiana was a big mystery. I'd heard of a couple bands that sometimes played in Ohio. Mostly I'd just heard of Margot and the Nuclear So and So's and perhaps Loretta. Now I know music by countless groups, seen numerous websites from artists and other blogs going on. With this, I'd count Indiana as having some of the most interesting musicians in the entire region. People would be remiss to not learn more.
So I'm just about ready to do my "Indianapolis Sound?" essay. Just a few more people to talk to.
I am also beginning to delve into Michigan, and have begun contacting Detroit musicians, writers and artists to help bring its myth down too.
One trait that seems to tie everyone together amongst the Midwest music scenes is this overriding sense that one city can have absolutely no idea what is happening in another city one hour away. Even the distance between Columbus and Toledo is like New York to LA. No one communicates. It's getting better, but it's still pretty bad.
Sure, in most cases it's due to the fact that not many bands actually have the balls to perform outside of their protective bubbles. Columbus is guilty of that. I'd say Indiana has that problem even worse. Cleveland is just a mess.
But deep down all musicians know that they will never truly learn what they are capable of unless they try. Performing to your fraternity brothers or the same hipster friends every friday night is not the same as performing in front of 5 people who could give a shit about you in some other town. Touring is your test.
I suppose the other side of it is that some musicians don't give a crap. Their intention is only to create music. It's not their desire to traipse all over the country trying to get people to listen. I guess that's where the Internet helps out.
All I know is that there is nothing more disappointing to me than a talented musician who lacks the desire to be heard.

Monday, February 26, 2007

More on J*A*M*C

When it comes to Buddha Boy and Jesus and Mary Chain, it doesn't matter if it has to do with the Midwest. That's the rule.

I will not be happy unless the band tours again and comes out with another Honey's Dead or Automatic. Some update news from the Filter Magazine blog:

JAMC Talk Reunion

The Jesus & Mary Chain return to play their first shows in nine years when they appear at Coachella this April and at the Summercase Festival in Madrid and Barcelona. Jim Reid breaks the silence:
Who else is in the band?
"On bass it's Phil King, on drums it's Loz Colbert, and on second guitar is Mark Crozer, and of course myself and William."
Phil King was in Lush and Loz Colbert was in Ride. Can I get a hell yeah?
Why are you doing the show now?

"Well, I would say 'why not?' there are many reasons really. Firstly it's taken this long for me and William to get to a point where it would be realistic to do it, and to some degree each of us assumed the other wouldn't be interested, and it was only after we talked about it that we realised this. Also Coachella were very persistent."
The last show was in 1998?
"Yes, the last Mary Chain gig was in 1998 and was such a bloody awful mess, too much drink, too many drugs, nobody seeing eye to eye on anything and the band just blew up, and I suppose you could say this is another good reason for our reformation, cause that was no way for the Mary Chain to end."
William lives in LA and you live in Devon?
"You can imagine the problems this presents."
Will there be more shows and an album?
"I really don't know. Maybe. I think we would like to and we're looking at another show or 2."
Are William and yourself working on solo albums?
"Yes, both are at the recording stage at the moment, and both will hopefully be out later in the year."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cincy video updates

Head on over to MIND IGNITION CHANNEL for new videos of Cincinnati bands The Turnbull ACs and 500 Miles to Memphis.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Keep checking in with the site. I plan to put in hyperlinks to websites from all the bands listed within the past few days. It'll just take a bit of time.

Get to know Indiana, cont'd

I recently got a ton of great information on the entire Indiana music scene, from the Bloomington band RESTING ROOSTER.
The band is a folkrock/psychedelia three-piece, which is releasing its first record next month on UNDERWATER TEA PARTY RECORDS.
"The Indiana scenes that I am most familiar with are Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Muncie," the band's David Bower said. "Bloomington has a long legacy of interesting music. The town's liberal attitude lends itself to a broad variety of bands. I have lived (there) and have been musically active for the past six years."
In Bloomington, Bower recommends checking out:
THE IMPOSSIBLE SHAPES (Secretly Canadian): Seventies acidic folk-rock with a Pavement meets Television edge. He also noted their side projects: NORMAN OAKS and THE HORNS OF HAPPINESS.
TURN PALE: One of the most exciting live bands around. Sounds like the Birthday Party, The Cure, and Echo and the Bunnymen with a very theatrical leading man. Also see: Drekka and Panoply Academy
VOLLMAR: Justin Vollmar is an amazing songwriter. He sounds like Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, David Bazan, and Jandek. Very much worth a listen.
RACEBANNON: Harsh metal spasm madness. It seriously sounds like if captain beefheart was a german prog metal band.
Bower said the go-to label is SECRETLY CANADIAN, which People with Animal Heads couldn't agree more with. But he also noted ART HOSPITAL and Landlocked Record Store.
In Indianapolis, Bower said to watch for these bands:
ODAWAS: Neil Young meets Ennio Morricone. Their records are complete multi-track lunacy, but in a good way. www.myspace.com/odawastheband ... i am sure you haven't heard anything quite like it. Their side project is MORE ANIMALS OF THE ARCTIC.
MARMOSET (Secretly Canadian): In my opinion, Jorma is one of the greatest songwriters of our time. "Today it's you" and "Record in red" are total classics. The band sounds like Wire, Syd Barrett, John Lennon, and Swans.
ELEPHANT MICAH: Talented singer songwriter.
He said venues worth noting include the BIG CAR GALLERY.
Bower said that Muncie is home of Ball State University. All the bands from here tend to have a large roster and a cute, quirky element. Many of the bands from this town, as well as a few from Indianapolis, are on the Standard Recording label. For the Columbus folks, that's the former label of Miranda Sound.
EVERYTHING, NOW!: Probably the most popular band from muncie...sounds like the Flaming Lips meets the Beach Boys at an ice cream social.
CASTLE OLDCHAIR: Good songwriter, great guitarist. A little like Elliott Smith.
EVERTHUS THE DEADBEATS: Sounds like Roxy Music on pixie sticks.
"So, I definately left out a lot of good bands, but this is my particular taste. And these bands are trying hard enough to tour/make good records et cetera," Bower said.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

SPOTLIGHT: Happy Chichester's House of Mirrors

Talking about Columbus music and not mentioning Happy Chichester is like talking about Dayton music and not mentioning Bob Pollard. They go hand in hand.
Last week Chichester released his long-anticipated solo CD, "Lovers Come Back" on his own PopFly Music label. Unfortunately, I haven't heard the entire album yet, but I've seen him perform most of the songs live. So I am still curious as to how Chichester fully arranged them.
What I sense from his recent work is a feeling of nostalgia - except not in the sense of longing, but more in how the past has formed him. I also felt that the lyrics leaned toward the romantic, using lush images and strong emotions.
So I wondered how Chichester faired in the studio, after using different musicians instead of a steady supporting band as he has done for years. Did that mean more or less freedom?
"It was a 'house of mirrors' effect, working by myself most of the time. Disorienting, often. I would go out and tour, come home and record, write, etcetera, and then go out on the road again. The audiences' responses to the material helped shape the final form of the album in a way like a band would. As far as freedom goes: music is never free. I am, in a way, possessed by the music in my head, and when I assert my will over it too much, it doesn't necessarily help," Chichester said.
He said that making the album proved to be just as challenging and confrontational as any he has done in the past, but with results that produced a richer and softer tone.
"It is diverse like many of the albums I've done, but not as loud. As a solo performer, I'm able to be more introspective and quiet, as you say, which has not always been the case with the bands. There is a broader range of sounds and I can create things in the studio like I could never do before. And you are correct, there is a romantic quality most of my bands couldn't wear well. 'Lovers Come Back' is a poetic title that is both a humble wish and a big statement, and appropriately characterizes the feel of the album," he said.

So I hate to keep bringing up Howlin' Maggie, but the band put Columbus music on the national radar in the 1990s. Besides, I think that his new stuff has progressed beyond his past music, so it's OK.
But I wondered if doing a solo album was a vacation of sorts or a plan for the future - Chichester was pretty clear about that.
"I have never had any intention of going back to (the name) Howlin' Maggie," he said.
Despite using some great local musicians to help record his songs this time around, Chichester put together a band to go on tour with Columbus' RJD2.
I told him I'd heard that when he came back there were talks he'd put together a steady backing band for the next string of shows, with the help of a certain Dayton band called (COUGH) Captain of Industry.
"Depending upon how things look, I may put a band together, but there are no definite plans for that at this time. I had asked Captain Of Industry to be my backing band last year, but we have not gotten together to play, for whatever reason. It just doesn't seem to be the time for that yet," he explained.
Ultimately, Chichester's new release shines a light on lyrical topics he has touched upon in the past, but now are finally able to breathe a bit more.
"I think of the songs on the album as having what I call a 'thematic chronology,' meaning that each one sets up the next much like scenes in a movie. The words are printed in the CD, and the themes are evident in the titles," he said. "For me, songwriting is a conscious effort that entails cultivating the unconscious too, sort of like trying to gain insight into a dream. Even though people have been saying that the album format is dead, I made an album that works as a unified piece, but also can be broken up if people want just a few of the songs on i-tunes or whatever."

Because, after all, this website is a project to get to know Midwestern music, I asked Chichester to name his favorite area bands. But he admitted a sense of detachment, as touring musicians often do.
"I don't hear a Columbus 'sound.' I hear people trying out all kinds of things in the bars. I have friends out west who come to Columbus and marvel at the deepness of the groove here, compared with the west coast feel. That's not to say we're better, but that the groove is distinct. I'm not up on all the bands playing around, though. Always room to remedy that," he said.
But Chichester noted that he respects a lot of individul musicians who make up the Columbus music scene, many of which helped him out on "Lovers Come Back," such as Foley, Jeff Ciampa, Megan Palmer, Barry Hensley, Carlos Fisher, Kris Keith, Jon Chinn, Middle Child, Vickie Saunders and Kevin Oliver.
"That's just scratching the surface. There are so many amazing musical geniuses around I can't even begin to get to all the
names," Chichester said. "Whatever band they're in, I can usually spot them."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

So it begins: High Strung's Detroit

The High Strung (out of Detroit) are one of my favorite bands in the entire Midwest. Incredible songs, amazing melodies and they tour like mutherfuckers. The band is starting a mini-tour in support of the re-release of its second record, MOXIE BRAVO, which came out on Feb. 13 in stores everywhere. They also appear to be doing numerous other dates with Sun Volt (but just in the south, so far). My hope is to start defining the Detroit music scene now.
I have always thought of The High Strung as kind of like the Kinks on speed. Check them out. They get a lot of love on Sirius Satellite radio's Underground Garage channel. With the recent XM Satellite radio merger pending, hopefully it'll mean more listeners for The High Strung.
In my quest to get to know every city in the Midwest, I am now venturing into the Detroit music scene. So I started with High Strung bass player Chad Stocker for help.
What are some great bands that currently make up the Detroit music scene?
The Muggs, The Singles, The Paybacks, SSM, and i like this little band I saw once called Kiddo.
What are some great venues bands should look at if they come through town?
Not too many of 'em out here. The Lager House is like home, I love it there, the sound isn't perfect, but the feel makes up for it. The Magic Stick is great all around. Everything else is good, but i prefer these two.
What would you recommend to a band from some other town do if they are trying to get a show lined up in Detroit?
Check on line for booking agents names, and call them, hound them, hound the local weekly music mags too, and the public radio station, they play rock sometimes, not just jazz, make friends some how with a band from around town, that always helps, a little. It's hard to get people out to shows around here, for bands they don know, just how it goes... I know a lot of touring bands that skip us. It's a shame.
How would you define the current "Detroit Sound," if there is one?
Well the sound used to be dominated by garage rock, and it should be, we have great garage bands out here, but i think the the bands aren't all doing that anymore, there are some more indie-pop and indie dance bands showing up and making a lot of fuss!
I suppose I would historically say that the defining sound to come out of Detroit has always been a kind of angst-driven garage rock. It's probably the most stable "sound" in the Midwest. In the 90s I suppose it became a bit more dark and heavy. Why do you think that Detroit music is so akin to a kind of brutal power? Even you guys have a kind of Super Kinks vibe.
I don't feel like we have too much angst, at least not overtly! But i agree that we listen to quite a bit of The Kinks. Brutality? I dunno, it's more of a blues fascination around here. There are great blues bars around, there has always been blues coming from the streets of Detroit, and I think that has a lot to do with Detroit's tone. Also, that faster, more heavier sound comes maybe the industrial side of things. But then you have bands who are super conscious of chords and melodies, like Outrageous Cherry, Pas/Cal, who have studied not only the Motown (because who hasn't) but also the smaller bands from the 60s who mixed the soul and psychedelic into their blues.

The Redwalls dropped?

I read today on Filter Magazine's blog that apparently after Capitol and Virgin merged, they dropped a ton of acts, one of which being Chicago's The Redwalls. But I haven't seen anything officially confirming they were dropped yet.
(UPDATE: I think it's true. Their myspace page currently lists them as "unsigned."

Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar, branch into Dead Oceans

Just read this, sounds great:

Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar Brand New Label
Story by: Kevin Kampwirth

The owners of the Bloomington, Indiana-based Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar labels have announced the creation of a new sticker, Dead Oceans, which will retain the same staff and creative aesthetic as the other two. A statement by the group noted that, "Dead Oceans will focus on bold and timeless recordings, not emphasizing a particular genre or scene, but instead fostering a diverse stable of sound creators." An initial roster of artists has also been released, including new records by Iran, Dirty Projectors, Evangelicals and Bishop Allen.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Who do you recommend?

I called upon Lizard McGee from Athens/Columbus quintessential band EARWIG to recommend any bright lights of Midwest indie rock are in their sites.
"Here are 3 of Earwig's favorite underground bands. We love them and you will too. Go buy their CDs and go see them when in concert," McGee suggests:

GONER- Raleigh, NC. (Editor's note: Technically not from the Midwest, but they are recommended by a Midwest band, so that kinda fits)
Goner take the dark pop secrets of the South and go all 'Are We Not DEVO' all over them. Comprised of just one mean drummer, one smart keyboardist and one frantic bass destroyer, this band covers more melodic landscape than other bands with twice as many members. There is NO guitar. Never had one, never needed one and NEVER will. With only a drum kit, a bass guitar and a retro, analog keyboard set-up, you may be asking what the heck they sound like. Just imagine Michael Stipe drunk on Irish whiskey and jamming out with Peter Hook on bass to some great, long-lost Replacements songs that
you've never heard before. Add a shot of spastic live awesomeness and you might get close. They tour constantly, have been around the block more than once and probably played in yr town 3 times since you started reading this. Now that you know the name, you've got no excuse but to drag yrself out to see them the next go round.
Goner Contact: HERE

THISTLE- Cincinnati, OH.
Ever wonder what Dinosaur Jr. would sound like if they were a little more forlorn, depressed and played even LOUDER? The answer is Thistle. Bred from the guitar jungles of Southern, Ohio and Kentucky these three young comrades in arms do it all. They run their own record label (Tiberius Records), record all of the music themselves and book all of their own tours.
They are the epitome of DIY gumption. The latest Thistle album has songs about Owls and War, heavy-ass guitar riffs, whiney (in a good way) vocals and tube amp guitar feedback squalls big enough to sink the Titanic. If Neil Young was a punk rock cowboy with a ... aw, fuck it. Thistle is good. Damn good.
Thistle contact: HERE

Be it glorious lo-fi pop hooks or hi-fi guitar redemptions backed by violin and sparse instrumentation, Dan Zapruder is that lonely lamenter that you have longed for. He has been desrcibed as Paul Simon meets Bob Pollard.
Though he rarely ventures far from his Chicago home, he is worth seeking out. Songs about meeting girls, missing girls and drinking coffee with girls on the morning after. Dan has a great and dour, individual voice. Not just the sound of his voice, but his voice as in the things he writes about and how he writes about them. He has other albums, but the 4 track genius
of his double CD 'Low Resolution' is just about as perfect as it gets.
Zapruder Point contact: HERE,
and HERE

Friday, February 16, 2007

SPOTLIGHT: Joe Satriani's an asshole (a fierce debate with Columbus instrumental group BRAINBOW)

I have been a lover of music since I was a small child. It's my favorite thing. I had a small plastic vinyl single of Elton John's "Rocket Man" that I played constantly when I was in kindergarten - until my brother accidentally broke it in a fight. Since then I was drawn to both the words and the voice of music. I like the stories they tell or the way they sing their lyrics. I always figured that when you took the words away, it's nothing but music without meaning. I have never really understood instrumental music as much as I should. I can appreciate it as a form of art - I know the difference between good and bad instrumental music. But I probably will never go out and purposefully buy a CD by an instrumental band. But is that fair?
To get to the bottom of my feelings of angst toward instrumental music, I have taken it upon my duty to have a ferocious debate to the death, with none other than Columbus' premier instrumental band, BRAINBOW. Do they have the bawls to take on People with Animal Heads??
Yes. Actually, they responded back within minutes and were polite and more than happy to take the challenge. I think the word "fun" was even mentioned. Maybe I picked the wrong band...
First off, one thing that has always kept me away from instrumental bands is that they always go two ways. The first are the bands that have so much shit going on you don't know where to look. Like Mr. Bungle on acid. Then the other ones move so slow that you can leave the room, go pee, drink a beer, go to White Castle, go poop, come back and they finally hit the second chord. So which extreme group side would you place yourselves in and why, Brainbow? Then defend that choice!
Guitarist Will Fugman explained, "I know what you mean, sort of. I haven't been able to get into Mr. Bungle since, well, I'm sure there was acid or a county fair involved.... so I don't really relate what we do in anywhere near that direction. On the other end, a band we get compared to a lot is Godspeed You Black Emperor. I can see some of that. But I don't think we approach writing music in the way they probably write music... and we're probably nowhere near as bummed out as they are. Sure, we don't have a singer; we don't write in a traditional pop song structure, our songs are long. I guess we're more to the point, for sure. We write like we're writing a song, not a soundtrack. We have our lulls and peaks, sometimes there's a lot of building and overlapping, though they move along faster than a lot of those types of instrumental bands do.
He continues, "We listen to all kinds of stuff, but what I think is great about playing instrumental music, is that you're relying solely on the melodies and harmonies, the sounds, the rhythm, to convey some kind of feeling, to make it work. And while you do the same thing with vocals, without them, it remains kind of open ended; it's not specifically about anything to the listener. I wouldn't say that we're against trying it, but one of the things that really ruins music for me, more often than not, is a bunch of stupid lyrics over some amazing melody. I'm just glad that no one in our band is responsible for making people listen to stories about our girlfriends or our opinions on world events."
I think what I appreciated the most in your response was how you noted that stupid lyrics can ruin an amazing melody. I know this only too well. I've seen Neil Diamond make this same shuddering mistake many times. Perhaps John Denver as well. Especially Jim Morrison. I must also note the hilarity in which you expressed how a lot of music seems based on similar themes. Sadly, a lot do run the same sorry lyrical paths you stress. I commend your response.
So, that leads me to point out that by listening only to melody, you are leaving the song (in your words) open ended. That also leaves the reason for writing the song open ended. Which leaves me to point out, that for every instrumental song there is some guitar dude behind it saying, "This song musically represents the moment I emerged from the womb (slluuuuuurppp)(bong hit)."
Now how is anyone supposed to relate to that, unless they have already been told the reason of the song and/or they were smoking the same hashish? To me that all sounds like a bunch of hippie mumbo jumbo. Also, how can you even name an instrumental song? By merely giving it a name you have opened the door for IMPLIED LYRICS - which is possibly worse than actual lyrics.
Is instrumental music essentially unstructured hippie music? Defend!!
Member Chris Worth was not as amused by the debate as Will was. He meant business.
"Dude, it's not that deep. Nobody wants to sing, so we don't do it. I think it's a mistake to say that anything is 'implied.' It's not. It's on the surface - there's no secret story to the music, it's just what you're hearing. If it reminds you of something, great, but that's not necessarily intentional. What it means to me is probably different than what it means to any other guy in the band, and different than what it's going to mean to someone else who's listening. As for categorization, I don't particularly see a need to try and genre things. There's instrumental jazz and vocal jazz, and instrumental classical, and vocal classical, and instrumental rock, and… you get it. For what it's worth, if someone asks I usually just say I'm in a rock band. But I don't really like playing shows with bands that sound like us. I want variety."
So what I'm getting from your response is the basic gist that it's not supposed to be deep, it's just supposed to be rock without words and everyone has their own meaning to every note. So maybe instrumental rock is like tofu? Our intentions give it flavor?
Will explained, "It's funny you bring up the song titles. We've had some of these songs written for a couple years now, and we have yet to permanently name any of them. We have these code names that we use, sometimes there's a couple of different ones for one song, to identify what each one is. I guess part of that has to do with what you're talking about... like what will the name plant into the listener’s mind, if anything, before they've even hit play. In a live setting, it doesn't matter, because we don't tell anyone what the names are, nor do we go into some speech about what we were thinking when we wrote it. So, there's been this sort of doomsday feeling, about when we're going to have an actual object for people to look at, or read, before they put the record on. What the hell are we gonna write on the back cover? Like Chris said, a particular song might reference something completely different for him than it does for me... it would be impossible for us to have the same exact idea about a bunch of notes strung together, no matter how conscious we were about putting them together. And a listener would be even more removed from that. And, really, we don't write a song like a literal narrative... it's not about a wizard that fell in love with a Minotaur, and they travel to the desert to spawn a race of divine psychic descendents (editor's note: But that would be pretty cool). It is, however, a narrative, as far as what these notes do as the song progresses. It travels, and I guess it tells a story, but not one with a subject... does that make any sense?
Very much so.
Fugman continued, "But, that being said, I don't think it's ok to just name your songs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. To me, that's lame... and that sort of says, I'm trying to be arty, but I'm also really lazy or uninspired... and I'm not so confident in just naming the song something completely arbitrary and silly, because that to me is the same thing.
I mean, the five of us are pretty far from trying to make some grand statement with our music... just because we actually put a lot of thought into what we're doing, there's not a real desire to be pretentious about it to a listener. We're not going to reference a bunch of booky stuff, just to add some sort of false sense of researched ideas, or like some sort of savant mystery... see, I can't even make a fake pretentious sentence that means anything cool!!!
As far as the 'genre' of instrumental music goes, I can't really speak for other people's intentions, about naming their songs. I'm sure Joe Satriani really thinks that this one jam is about surfing with an alien, and I'm sure he thinks that everyone who's heard that song feels the same way. But Joe Satriani is an asshole.
You had me at "Joe Satriani is an asshole."
Chris Worth was able to sum up his feeling toward those who misjudge instrumental music.
"People say 'I don't like instrumental music' and what they mean is 'I don't like tortoise' or 'I don't like mogwai,' and they come off sounding kind of ignorant. It's like, ok, good to know you've written off thousands and thousands of years of different cultures' art because you're too lazy to understand something without a chorus hook. That completely sounds pretentious and I don't really mean it to be so. It's just kind of like deciding that you're ONLY going to go see Tim Allen movies because you don't like anything without tools in it. I think we all feel like Will said; if vocals aren't going to add anything, why have them? You know, maybe if Elizabeth Fraser and Robert Plant had a kid then we'd have a singer. I guess I don't draw a big distinction between instrumental stuff and non-instrumental stuff. That's all.
Looking back over the debate. I see that the overall defense is the "Fuck off and rock" defense. I'm not sure anyone can argue with that. With Brainbow it is easy. They write actual songs that use layers to build to momentous occasions. There is no lame hippie jam music here. There is no pretentious mumbo jumbo to pretend you understand. I just need to try to look at instrumental music as rock without words. When a person sings they are just creating another melody intended to make you feel something. And I think we can all agree, if you see Joe Satriani on the street, kick him in the balls.
Until then, Brainbow is hard at work on its first CD. So keep an eye out.
Back to the point, who has won the debate and who has been officially murdered? Alas, I suppose I have to be a gracious host, so I offer myself to be murdered.
But I'll bet $20 that Brainbow's practice space is probably littered with bongs.
Perhaps we have a truce?

Banding together

I'd really like to point out a nice resource in Cincinnati right now, called Mind Ignition Channel . They have been documenting the Cincinnati music scene by videotaping live performances, posting show dates and more. You can find live video links for Cincinnati singer-songwriter Kim Taylor, who I just interviewed for an article. Get to know her music first and then read my article later today when I post it. You can also find links to all their videos, including several from Taylor at THIS link.
Then head over to read an informative interview with Mind Ignition Channel folks from another great Cincy music site called Each Note Secure, which can be found HERE.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

SPOTLIGHT: Cincinnati's swan Kim Taylor

The main point of this site is to highlight musicians that work outside of the music scenes in their towns and yet who ultimately define what their cities stand for. They are focused on songwriting, instead of being scenesters. They are trying to create something unique, instead of jumping onto some hip, flash in the pan, musical band wagon.
That's why I wanted to talk to someone like Cincinnati singer/songwriter Kim Taylor. I only recently heard about her and was surpised to find she'd already been touring extensively with Over the Rhine and more recently Ron Sexsmith. In 2002 she released her first record "So Black, So Bright" and was crowned new artist of the year by Cincinnati's Citybeat Magazine. She followed that with an EP in 2004 and an invitation to Austin's SXSW Festival.
Her sophomore full-length entitled "I Feel Like A Fading Light" came out last year, which made album of the week in November by NPR's World Cafe.
Plus, Taylor did it all on her own.
I must admit, I've never been much a fan of most female-fronted bands. Mostly it's because the singers were always ripping off someone else, be it Gwen Stafani back in the day or Sara MacLaughlin more recently. It seems like a nice change to find so many interesting new female singers and songwriters who have created their own unique sound and voice. Even better that they are here in the Midwest.
Kim Taylor's music is incredibly old school sounding, in that it comes off as very realistic and believable, while standing up next to famous acoustic-based icons of the past. I've heard Taylor has been called the Midwest Cat Power. I can see that, but I also think Taylor transcends that label. Her songs are way more diverse and interesting than Chan's, but similarly emotional.
So I asked Taylor how long she has been around, performing music in the Midwest.
"I've been playing my songs live in a real and tangible way since 2002," Taylor said. "I put my first record out that year (called "So Black, So Bright) and did a couple of weeks of touring with Cincinnati-based Over the Rhine. I had just done a little on the Cincinnati front that year, getting my feet wet on open mics and such."
She has since gone from being a solo performer to enlisting a band.
"The positive of being solo is that it's low maintenance," she said. "The biggest negative (with playing solo) is that i get lonely real easy. I think in general and more and more I enjoy working with people and I'm getting better at communicating my thoughts and musical wishes. I've not had the best track record on that. But you learn as you go."
But what immediately sets Taylor apart from the open mic crowd is her stage presence and honesty. Her foot stamps to the beat, her voice rises and falls, becomes shaky or angry, all in order to create a great dynamic.
"I was born in Miami, Florida and raised just a couple of hours north on the Atlantic Ocean in a small fishing town. I grew up in the woods on a few acres of land. I was an only kid. I was a girl scout. I was horrifically shy. And in elementary school I was chubby, gap-toothed and four-eyed," Taylor said. "Does that conjure up any thoughts as to how it went (for me) as a wee lass? I was a nerdy flute player through junior high and then danced in early highschool. I so wanted to be a fly-girl and Janet Jackson. I didn't start singing out until early college and I have no idea why I kept going. Other than it helped keep me sane. I had quite a few troubles in early college. Singing and writing always felt like a grounding for me."
Those troubles from growing up as an insecure girl end up coming through, many years later, as a mature confident voice. What stands out is her ability to sound confident and vulnerable all at once. It has the feel of a constant personal struggle between the two.
Taylor said the topics she writes about can be diverse.
"I don't set out to write always on certain themes, but i think as humans we're always writing about the same stuff over and over. It's how we work things out i guess. So i'd say the themes for me are always revolving around love, death, war, grief, and god," she said.
She grew up listening to music constantly being played in the home by her parents, which has molded her sound.
"My childhood was filled with old country: Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn. Then there was Elvis and the Beach Boys and anything popular at the time. And also the Everly Brothers. A lot of the Everly Brothers. My parents listened to music constantly," she said.
As far as what philosphy she is trying to convey, Taylor said she is still trying to determine that path. She expects more growth in her music down the road.
"I don't know if I have a philosophy. Maybe I will in a few years," Taylor said. "I think right now I don't think in that way. I just write music because it helps me feel better and I work out a lot of my own neurosis through music. I guess I'd hope to just relay some kind of truth and as far as where it takes me I have no expectations. I just try to ride the waves that come."

Check her out on Myspace, HERE
I recommend starting with "I feel like a fading light."
If you don't like that song, there is something wrong with you.

Some of Taylor's favorite Cincinnati bands: The Great Depression, The Sundresses, Heartless Bastards, Peter Adams

WOXY love continues

I waited to put this up, because I wasn't sure what awards they won until now:

WOXY won 2 PLUG Awards on Saturday.

Internet Radio Station Of The Year: WOXY.com
Podcast Of The Year: WOXY.com Lounge Acts

Great taste and Midwestern to boot.


So I FINALLY learned how to do hyperlinks. I'm a writer, not a computer nerd. So from now on I'll start making it easier to find band sites, venue sites, etc.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Let's get to know the Midwest, shall we?

It occurred to me that the Midwest is a pretty vague and large piece of land to cover. There's also the fact that there is just as much I don't know about it as there is random crap I do know. So I'm delving deeper. That "recommend" article below from Chris Fry is a step in that direction. I want to know everything about Indiana music. For god sake, Secretly Canadian is based there. I think Indiana is about as far west as the Midwest goes. Wait! Look at this map I found. This means I must also pursue Michigan and Illinoise (at least the cities that matter). I may shoot as far east as Pittsburg, but I'm not so sure they deserve it. I've been there. Besides, take a look at that map. Ain't no Pittsburg there!
But shit, it has Kentucky. Please don't make me talk to the people from Kentucky!! They are crazy!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What do you recommend?

Chris Fry, drummer from Indianapolis-based Margo and the Nuclear So and So's, recently helped out with a list of Indiana bands he recommends.

Muncie, Indiana:
Everything, Now!
Arrah and the Ferns
Everthus the Deadbeats

Bloomington, Indiana:
Gentleman Caller
The Impossible Shapes
Murder by Death

Indianapolis, Indiana:
Jorma Whittaker
Those Young Lions
Christian Taylor
America Owns the Moon
Carl Broemel (Now plays guitar in My Morning Jacket)
Vess Ruhtenberg (Now tours as bass with The Lemonheads)
Marty Green
Extra Blue Kind
The Humans
The Zero Boys

Fry also recommends checking out the web-site www.musicalfamilytree.com by Jeb Banner.
"The site is a great resource for Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Muncie bands from the last 15 or so years. You can look at the top downloads portion of the page, and see the most downloaded songs/bands over the past week, month or year," Fry said.

Morphing articles

I swear this isn't a cheesy attempt to get people to keep reading. But I wanted to point out that I often go back to old articles and do re-writes. I add more information, sometimes add interviews, sometimes correct spelling and sometimes just fix stuff I screwed up. That's why I love doing music journalism on the Internet. I can make an article as long as I want, as random as I want, and keep making everything better. Especially look for the "(Insert City) Sound?" articles. When preparing for those I put out a lot of emails to different musicians from cities all over the Midwest. As soon as I hear from one, I begin writing the article. As more respond, I will update and fine tune what that city is all about and maybe it will be of use to someone.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Akron Sound?

I don't know anything about Akron. It's a pretty mysterious place to most of us in the Midwest. Who the hell chooses to visit Akron, unless they have some specific reason? All I know is that I have a friend who became a lawyer, who then moved back home to Akron. Now I rarely see him anymore. So it's either the best place in the world or it's a black hole of nothing people get sucked into.
So I thought the best way to figure out Akron was to ask an Akron band. I turned to Houseguest (signed to Audio Eagle).
As I told them, I thought they were from Cleveland and only recently (today) discovered they weren't. One more notch against Cleveland.
Houseguest Guitarist Dave Rich thankfully took my question seriously and gave me an interesting answer, (because believe it or not, Cleveland, I'm being sincere):
"To be honest, i don't really think there is a singular, defining sound. We went to High Schol with the Black Keys, but we don't really sound anything like them. Many, many Akron bands share members, but that almost never translates into a sharing of sounds. We tend to get defined as college rock, or indie rock, whatever those terms mean. Our drummer is in another Akron band called Beast and they are basically instrumental prog-metal. Our bass player is in Genetically Yours, an instrumental dance rock trio. I used to be in Good Morning Valentine, which is a country-rock group. Like i said, we all share members, but not really sounds," Rich said.
So, in essence, the Akron Sound is based on a tight knit community. Is that why trying to get a gig at the Lime Spider is impossible for out of towners? (I had to get that rip in there.)
But a tight knit community can be like putty. It stays the same form, shifts in diiferent directions and yet remains intact.
Rich seems to hint that Akron is more like many pieces of putty, with many different ideas about how the same people want to shape them - all within a community of putty sculptures. Ahem. Wow, I stretched that metaphor as far as it could possibly go.
"I think the thing that probably ties the groups in Akron together is that all the people I know who are in bands like many different types of music, and they express that by being in a lot of bands. Pat from the Black Keys was in a band called Churchbuilder a few years ago, which sounded like the Rentals with female singers, a far cry from what the Black Keys sound like. It's probably because we grow up in a place where we have exposure to college rock (from Cleveland and Kent) but are mostly raised on popular radio. Akron only has one non-commercial radio station, and they cater to the over 30 market. The end result is that you get a lot of kids who love Modest Mouse or Band of Horses just as much as they love Thin Lizzy or Queen."
So stepping back a bit, it seems like the Akron sound is based on the notion of confetti.
I must admit, where the hell does a band like the Black Keys fit into? White suburbanites reinventing the blues of yore? It ain't the 1960s anymore, my friend. But they effing succeeded.
Then you have Houseguest with it's baritone mish mash of Elvis Costello and a shitload of 60s rock, 80s indie rock styles and more tossed into a bowl. Where would any of these bands fit into one scene? Instrumental prog rock? A female Rentals, he said?
Patrick Carney, owner of Akron label Audio Eagle recommended people check out other historical hometown bands such as Tin Huey, Devo, Chrissie Hynde, Human Switchboard, Waitresses, Unit Five, Chi-Pig, 1/2 of the Dead Boys, Rubber City Rebels, Bizarros.
"Most of these bands were on major labels in the mid to late 70's. All of the bands play "mutant pop" music in my mind...very creative people," he said. "Oh yeah, and (filmaker) Jim Jarmusch is from Akron."
So, it's settled, Akron is the Land of Forgotten Toys. It is what happens when a small town has too much access to independent media outlets and is allowed to run free - but in the strict confines of the town limits.
Akron is kind of like the end of Footloose.
But I feel I must warn any Akron music scene readers that their city is dangerously close to being like Cleveland. I always become afraid when I see a city turning into China. If music is going to churn across the Midwest, cities have to be more open to allowing out of town bands inside.

Sound college

It used to be that the warm hissing sound of tape was the defining factor of indie rock in the 1990s.
But lately I've been listening to all of these great songs posted on Myspace pages, of random bands that will never get signed and probably will never see any real attention. Most don't even have that much faith in themselves.
It's also interesting to me, that the new sound of indie rock has become the thin high-end range of computer recording. You can even hear the air in the room. It's made from people who don't really know how to record on computer, but are desperately trying to figure it out, because it's their only option. It's kind of heroic, really. It also creates an outlet for the incredibly lazy. But I support that.
It used to be that finding new and interesting indie rock bands was akin to finding change on the pavement. You may see a cool CD cover in the used bin. Before that, you might look for the tape with the handwritten cover, buried underneath a stack of Eagles cassettes.
So it seems like the future of indie rock is a lot more accessible, and yet still completely random and unsung.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Toledo Sound?

My quest to define the musical sound being produced in different Midwestern cities continues. This will also include Toledo.
I know, you are already saying, "Toledo? (double take) Wait, did you say Toledo?? That's where they make Jeeps, isn't it?"
Yes. But I think Jeep shut its factory down.
In its defense, Toledo actually has a personality (Cleveland, you could take some notes). For the most part, the people there are really nice and diverse. Sadly enough, however, Toledo stole most of its personality from Detroit. They can't help it, Toledo is just the only big city located south. Detroit bands HAVE to play there, unless they have a boat.
I'd like to explain the Toledo sound by comparing it to Katie Holmes, now Katie Cruise. She is from Toledo. She was a pretty good actress, but she got a bit too hung up in the kiss-ass lifestyle of Hollywood. Somehow that paid off and she latched on to Tom Cruise's leg. She grew up a nice Midwestern Catholic girl, who decided to take her personality, wipe her dirty butt with it, then throw it away. Now she's with Scientology's new Jesus Christ and became a Stepford Wife. That passion is still in her, I think, but she just gave up.
Enter Toledo.
Once a bustling metropolis, it rusted out. The downtown is now a shit hole. It used to be cool. Most of the suburbs are downright dangerous because of drunk drivers and some weird law to have most roads 25 mph.
It's just frustrating because original music is alive and well in Toledo. There are a ton of great bands like Sangsara (now on hiatus), A.M. Error, The Homeville Circle, The Drawers, Infinite Number of Sounds, Fast Piece of Furniture (Jeff Nelson of Minor Threat's band), Che Guitara's GLAMtasm, Muschi, Boogaloosa Prayer, The Anti-Villains, Rooted Truth, Rediscover. There are also great venues like Mickey Finn's Pub (my favorite), The Underground, Headliners, The Masonic. You also have organizers like Taking on Explosives (www.takingonexplosives.com) setting up shows (although, I recall they seem kind of stuck on making bands pre-sell tickets, which I'm totally against).
I'd explain the sound going on right now to be somewhere between a low key 80s synth vibe (but the cool vibe from the late 80s, like Echo and the Bunnymen) mixed with some kind of retro tough surf music thing and another side angle of rootsy psychedelic folk. There's also a cool blues and jazz scene, but I'm focused on indie rock.
I guess Toledo just doesn't try hard enough? So it allows itself to be overpowered by Detroit. The worst example was when Swing music broke in the 1990s. Detroit is to blame for that one. Maybe Chicago too, but I digress. I guess the whole thing was fun while it lasted. It brought a ton of people out to the bars, for a change. People started dancing again. But it also gave some an excuse to become walking cliches, like people who wear Misfits leather jackets - except it was zoot suits.
So my advice to Toledo, is the same advice I would give Katie Holmes:
Don't give up, girl. Fight it! I see the passion in you. It's like a beautiful ornate lamp someone covered with a blanket.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Cleveland Sound? Part Two?

Normally I prefer not to write things on the weekend, but I decided to give Cleveland the benefit of the doubt and look it up online. I mean, isn't Cleveland the Heart of Rock N' Roll??? What happened...
So I think I understand a little better - but I'm being sarcastic. I learned The Cleveland Sound is credited to bands like Pere Ubu (duh, that's all I ever hear), the Electric Eels, Rocket From the Tomb, The Cramps, the Mirrors. These aren't exactly great namesakes, Cleveland. Liverpool at least has two bands that were famous. Step it up.
I think why Cleveland bothers me so much is that it's such a big Ohio city. But it's completely devoid of a personality.
Here's a quote from http://postpunkjunk.com:
"The Cleveland “sound” is hard to articulate. The city’s bleak industrial foundations gave a unique rise to the punk rock approach much like in the English city of Sheffield, but unlike the Sheffield “sound”, which largely experimented with synth textures (giving rise to such bands as The Human League and Cabaret Voltaire), the Cleveland sound is comprised mainly of experiments in taking the rock form to its noisiest and most deconstructed levels. Aside from the more well-known bands Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys, the Cleveland underground scene was awash with music more “raucous” than “rock”. Says Scott Stemple of the Cleveland band Defnics, quoted from a great article from the Cleveland Free Times from 2001: “Cleveland really does have a unique sound…[i]t’s very sarcastic. It goes back to being the butt of the country’s jokes. People who live here, grew up here, have a good sense of humor about themselves. So even in Rocket from the Tombs and the Eels, you had a lot of sarcasm. When we grew up, the river was burning and downtown was a shithole. We learned to laugh at ourselves.”

OK, but it still says nothing abut the current scene! It's 2007 now. Are any bands actually FROM Cleveland anymore? If so, what the fuck do they sound like? And besides, if deconstructed noisy rock is all the rage in Cleveland, how come only Columbus bands are doing it? Plus, every band mentioned above was from DECADES ago. I seriously can't recall the last time I've seen a Cleveland band on a bill anywhere near Central Ohio. If they are, it's usually some national band, or some band that's actually made up of Columbus musicians. Or they are from "just outside" of Cleveland (aka Kent).
I'm TRYING Cleveland.
Help ME help YOU.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Cleveland Sound?

I don't really get up to Cleveland much.
I'm going to be honest wth you, Cleveland kind of annoys me. What is up with those people? In college it was always the dudes from Cleveland who were arrogant and loud. Always talking about how they were originally from New York. At the time I compared them to people from Philly. No city on earth is as great as Philly - just ask people living in Ohio who USED to live in Philly.
So I have found that some of this weird attitude has worn off on the Cleveland music scene. It's pretty effing mysterious up there. Most bands I thought were from Cleveland are actually from Akron. If you're a band trying to get a gig in Cleveland, good luck. Unless you personally know someone from the music scene who will line up a show for you, it's nothing but a lot of getting ignored. From what I can tell, there doesn't even seem to be a specific "sound" coming from there. Do people even go out to shows up there? The few I've been to were pretty dead. And that includes Quasi, Elliott Smith and others.
I guess Pere Ubu is from there, but he's influenced more Columbus bands than those in Cleveland. Can somebody help me out? Seriously. What is the purpose of the Cleveland music scene? I saw Koufax once in concert down in Cincy. I met them afterwards and they seemed like alright guys. But they don't look you in the eye when they talk. They look around you. Is that a Cleveland trait? (Update: Holy Crap. I found out Koufax aren't even from Cleveland, they're from Toledo. Jesus, that just proved my point even more)
Cleveland, as Stephen Colbert says, you're on notice!
I seriously need someone from Cleveland to explain it to me. Until then, I'm at a loss. E-Mail me.
Please don't be mad Cleveland, we just need to get to know each other better.

Photo of the day

I really liked this photo taken by Melissa Roberts, which I found on her Myspace page. She also took that kick ass photo of Val Glenn, which I posted below with her interview. Melissa, I hope you don't mind. That's two pictures I've now posted without your official approval!

Buddha Boy update

It's kind of frustrating that there have been no updates regarding my obsession with the Buddha Boy of Nepal, the kid who has been meditating for the past 7 months (9 months according to USA Today). It's been like waiting for the next season of Lost to come out on DVD.
(I did find out that GQ did an article about the kid recently. I'm reading it right now and it's boring. The writer seems more interested in tellling us about his plane trip than anything else. Let me punch myself in the face so I wake up. Hmm, I learned that the reason he is talking about his plane ride is to make a point about how difficult it is to sit motionless for long periods of time. I bet he patted himself on the back for weeks when he came up with that angle. Just as I start to think his writing isn't too bad, the article ends, "To read the rest of the article buy the latest issue of GQ." Eff that.)

Then I found a real update at www.ekantipur.com - a Nepalese newspaper. But they don't know much more about Buddha Boy than when they started. They say that scientists have observed him and know that he is alive. But the fact that he can sit there 12 hours a day for months is throwing up a conundrum for modern science.
The most disturbing part of the article was when I read, "We had to come forward to provide protection as some miscreants tried to disturb him by making noises and poking him with a stick."
I hate people.

This is a great line from the article too, "(An official) also claims that the news of Bomjon's 'godly power' began to spread after two dumb people started speaking after visiting the meditation site."
Dumb people..that's hiliarious.
Read up: http://www.kantipuronline.com/feature.php?nid=63824

I also found a Nepalese blogger who has been consolidating updates, like I'm attempting to do, but I think his own opinion is more important than mine, since he lives there:
"This is the country where Buddha was born and this is the country where now Ram Bahadur Bomzon is meditating in the middle of a jungle to find peace and this is the same country where King, Politicians and Maoist are fighting with each other senselessly. I hope that this little Buddha’s effort will will succeed in bringing peace to my motherland."

Ween Spleen

Just to record my feelings for posterity. I just heard Weens' song "Bananas and Blow" on the radio.
Yup, they are still one fucking god awful band.

The Great Safe Debate

One debate that constantly arises when talking about indie rock, is whether a band is "playing it safe" or not.
I've determined that usually when people say a band sounds too safe, they actually just mean it's not loud enough or not experimental enough for their tastes. But is that valid? Or is it just another way people can say a band sucks without sounding mean?
So it's pretty much up in the air. Is a band like the Beatles safe and The Clash not safe? In terms of punk, is The Ramones safe and The Stooges not safe? Because arguments can be made either way.
The Beatles created virutally every device of experimentalism that bands like The Clash or even The Flaming Lips have used ever since. So are The Clash and The Lips safe because they aren't breaking any new ground?
I've heard bands perform nothing but noise onstage and people praise it for being "experimental." But Jesus Christ, Lou Reed released "Metal Machine Music" decades ago. Even Neil Young released an entire CD of feedback. It's been done so many times it seems pretty damn safe to do it again. In fact I think noisy rock is about as safe as you can get.
I guess what bothers me about some bands beng labeled as safe is the fact that nothing can explain it. Lets relate it to the genre of indie pop. I've heard The Flaming Lips and perhaps Modest Mouse called not safe. Then we can call Elliott Smith safe. But then again, The Flaming Lips are pretty devoted to ripping off Pink Floyd and despite a few freak outs, Modest Mouse is just indie pop music sung in an odd voice. Elliott Smith changed the face of indie rock and folk by singing about demons in his life. So while acoustic guitar music may sound safe and isn't breaking any new ground. His words are like a punch in the balls.
A lot of people have been claiming that Suphjan Stephens is breaking new ground. But let's face it, he has several albums made up of the same song written a hundred ways. That's not breaking new ground, it's driving it into the ground.
That's why I think a lot of music fans always seem to ignore lyrics and aren't seeing the whole picture. The words that make up a song are what the whole goddam thing is about. It's pretty shortsighted to just compare bands based on musical arrangement. The Blues were based on about four different arrangements. Is Muddy Waters safe? Not by a longshot.
Hell, Bob Dylan is just another folk singer ripping off Guthrie and Van Ronk when you ignore what he was saying.
Somebody may hear Bill Haley and The Comets' "Rock around the clock" and think of how lame and safe it is. But do they know when Bill Haley performed that song in Europe it caused riots? Teenagers brought wooden sticks to his shows and beat them on the goddam stage. Bill Haley and the Comets are not safe, they fucking rock.
So all I'm saying is that if you're going to call a band "safe" show some respect and at least know what you are talking about.
That said, I think we can all agree that Death Cab for Cutie is safe and completely suck.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What do you recommend?

John Olexovitch, from Columbus group The Lindsay talks about his favorite bands around his town:

"I don't spend much time anywhere else, so i really only know what's going on in columbus," he said. "Here's my opinion of what's going on here though."

Necropolis - Probably the best band in town. This is fitting because their primary influences are previous local greats, particularly Gaunt. Their sound definitely reflects this, though I'd broaden my scope a bit and say they're the perfect cross between Pere Ubu and Brainiac, so still definitely an Ohio thing. Their debut album from last year, "The Hackled Ruff + Shoulder Mane," is the best thing to come out of our state (or anywhere else, for that matter) in ages. They have a new 7" on the way for Spring '07 which is also a killer, and their live show is not to be missed.

Times New Viking - Don't just belong to Columbus anymore since they signed with Matador last year, but if any local band is going to make a name for themselves it most certainly will be (and ought to be) TNV. True gut-punch pop in the style of pre-"Slanted" Pavement and early Clean. Their third release, "Present the Paisley Reich," is scheduled for later this month on Siltbreeze. If you want to know the new predominant sound in indie, let this be a head's-up.

Psychedelic Horseshit - pioneering a new style I like to call Shithead Dub. Last year's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" is why God still makes 7-inches, and their sound is akin to Bob Dylan's infamous Newport gig, though not before or after he plugged in - more like WHILE he was plugging in.

Monday, February 5, 2007

MPMF 2007

Attention bands:
Early registration has officially opened for Cincinnati's Midpoint Music Festival.
Check it out at www.sonicbids.com
Anyone who performs music should take notice of this festival. It is the best one going on in the entire Midwest.
The Midwest Music Summit is alright, but venues are often dead empty.
Not once have I encountered that at Midpoint.
More info here too:

Sunday, February 4, 2007

SPOTLIGHT: The shrinking violet. Columbus' Time and Temperature

It's a little bit difficult to write an article about Columbus musician Val Glenn and her vehicle Time and Temperature. I didn't realize that until right now. So I think the best bet is to talk about what led me to write about her: Ratatat and their horrible song "Wildcat," the equally horrible band The Knife and that band The Klaxons. For some reason these are the groups getting played on indie radio right now and it blows my mind.
With all the great music that currently exists across the world, the powers that be are focusing on the pseudo urban dance party scene music AGAIN. I'm so fucking bored of ironic machine music.
So my natural response is to run for the hills, far away from the new indie techno rabble. I'm looking for some honesty and genuine craft. I've begun a quest to highlight musicians making music you can actually walk away from with a new insight or new emotion you didn't have four minutes beforehand. Isn't that what art is all about? Feeling something?
If you agree, then get to know Columbus' Time and Temperature. Val Glenn has been able to create singer/songwriter music for people who are sick to death of singer/songwriter music. Her songs are melodic and emotional, composed of complex picking patterns on quiet electric guitar and have vocal lines that are delicate and lovely, while still retaining a sense of reality. It comes across like urban hymns, with a slight 60s mod feel - think Nico with a WAY better voice.
"I hated most of the current folk music I had heard; even the things that were supposed to be gentle and gorgeous sounded to me like they came from a forceful place, so I didn't want to demand too much," Glenn said about her musical style. "One of my friends has this theory that there is such a thing as too much beauty. I think if there were consistently more trying in vain to drive the point home, it would have a corrosive effect on the accuracy of what is really being presented."
Originally from Columbus, Glenn moved away for college and eventually returned in 2003 "when I realized higher education was going to ruin my life."
Despite playing guitar for the past 13 years and having a sudden extended fascination with drums, she said it took her two years before getting the guts to perform live. By 2005 she started making the rounds at the east side Columbus venues (Carabar, Milo Arts, coffee shops, Bourbon Street, St. James) and by 2006 was doing that more frequently.
Right now Columbus does not mirror the indie techno thing - thank god. But it does seem intent on bringing back the loud guitars of yore, mixed with intense experimental noise. So where does the quiet calm of Time and Temperature fit into this? Perhaps for every ying there should be a yang?
"As a solo performer, finding a venue was initially intimidating. Another challenge is harnessing a balance between playing with a very cautious, stuffy lineup of other songwriters or feeling like the shrinking violet at a rock show," she explained. "I actually prefer the latter of the two."
When it comes to explaining why she plays the music she does, Glenn becomes more metaphorical about it.
"I don't really stray far in the content of my writing because I think fantasy is the sustaining element of privacy. I just find oblique ways to tell stories about things that have happened to me. A lot of what I observe is based on the obvious complexities of learning to handle the value one places on themselves against the value of having more than the self; naturally and supernaturally," she said.
Instead of naming specific musicians, she explained that she ended up very influenced by her parlay into drums and beat programming. In essence, it seems to have taught her how to fill the space in her songs.
"I took a hiatus from guitar for a couple years and started romanticizing the drums on prog records and listened to a lot of jazz drummers. I was also doing a lot of drum programming at the time for fun because I had this fantasy that I would never play guitar again and become the biggest drum asshole. With programming I had the freedom of using chord progressions for the melody track that I wouldn't have found on guitar. So two years later when I started playing guitar again I heard it in a very non-exclusive way; I could incorporate the percussive elements that I acquired and melody had finally become something new," she said.
So within the current Columbus experimental big guitar noise swirl, Time and Temperature ends up offering a sincere balance.
"Making music is one of the only things I do that arranges an optimistic explanation of where I am and why life isn't a total mess. I don't think the world owes me anything for believing that, I'll be writing songs to the grave. But for now, to put it very simply, I want to do what seems appropriate. There are a lot of obvious and welcome obstacles right now but as far as the whole life thing goes, I don't know what will really happen. I only vaguely know what could or should," Glenn said.

Friday, February 2, 2007


So I recently started putting word out about this site. For any new people showing up to look around, please go back to the first blog and read up. I hope you'll see the point is to treat "People with Animal Heads" like an on-line newspaper focused ENTIRELY on Midwest music and culture - except for Buddha Boy. I think that will make us stand out amongst the other blogs and perhaps serve as a good link those sites can add to their sites. I figure they offer services I don't provide, so perhaps we can help each other out - fill in any gaps we all lack and vice versa. Maybe someday we'll become a full-fledged ".COM" site, but for now it's still in "BLOGSPOT.COM" mode because I hate paying for shit.
Some highlights so far: Interviews with Southeast Engine, a Cincinnati bar owner, essays on various topics and more. Things will get bigger, so keep us in your bookmarks and come back on a daily basis (that's how often I update). I sleep on the weekends.
If anyone would like to contact me (Chris) for story ideas or special events going on in different cities, contact me: