Friday, November 30, 2007

The tracks of Detroit

Thanks to site Glorious Noise for pointing out this great article by the Detroit Metro Times on the top Detroit songs of all time:

Check it out HERE

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Awesome Color

You know how they say that no one who lives in LA was born in LA? I think it's true for New York as well.
Here's a little ditty about a band from Michigan that seems to be doing well out east, according to CMJ.

New Awesome Color Coming Soon
Story by: Noah Klein
Brooklyn-by-way-of-Michigan psychedelics the Awesome Color have announced that their second record, Awesome Live, will be released in March via Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label. "We've been doing a lot of touring over the last couple of years, so that's kind of a representation of our record," says drummer Awesome Allison. "It's more varied. It's like the US and the landscapes that we've crossed."
After already touring with the likes of Sonic Youth, the band will be back on the road with past stage sharers Dinosaur Jr. through next month, including a Zig-Zag Live show in Athens on December 3. To hold fans over until the March release, the band is bringing a CD of live tracks that have been recorded over the last couple of years with them. In case you can't make it to a show, the album is also currently available on the Ecstatic Peace website.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The secret world of Frontier Ruckus

As hinted about in my recent Midwestern Roundup feature, I became aware of Michigan band Frontier Ruckus.
So I wanted to ask them a few questions about their process of songwriting and the process of creating music that weighs so heavily on words.
It's a complete opposite direction from what I have been seeing in the Midwest. Most bands are becoming more focused on intricate song structure and there even seems to be a rise of instrumental bands again. I won't even mention all the voiceless noise bands.
I described Frontier Ruckus lyrics as "dream-like" before, but I'm not trying to say they sound ethereal or something incredibly lame like that. I just mean, the songs they write unfold like a dream might. I had a dream once where I was lying on the floor of my childhood home and I can still remember the feel of the beige carpet and the smell of the kitchen nearby. That was a weird dream. No, I wasn't being raped, and I swear I wasn't even drunk sleeping.
So Frontier Ruckus singer/songwriter Matthew Milia delved into his thought process for us.
"Imagistic writing is the most important kind to me, so I suppose my concentration on that might lead songs to turn out somewhat 'dream-like' in that dreams are the most purely image-driven landscape of all. I can't really say what they end up meaning to other people; I've heard such a wide range of surprising things. I engage in song-writing, and I think I have since I started, as a way to process and purge memory in a way healthier than just being swallowed by the tumult of its accumulation. I strongly endorse the creative development of a personal mythology - a set of images that, however vaguely, represent memory in a recognizable and retrievable fashion.
Milia said his version of this has been dubbed “Orion Town," which led to the title of the band's first LP to be released this Spring called "The Orion Songbook."
"'Orion Town' means the borders I have set in attempt to organize memory and love and family and home and the North. These are horribly amorphous things that I believe to be less painful through creative organization and catharsis. Orion Town is images - a night smoky winter landfill, the fairgrounds at the gate of dilapidated Detroit, the bearded upstates of Michigan and New York, the oily moving slab of the St. Lawrence River, a quiet still bathroom at night where bodily scents cling to the air and mingle with the outside through a window-screen. Christian images are abundant in that mythology due to the fire-hearted girl I was in love with while I resided within the space of Orion Town. I have since attempted and felt it necessary to abandon Orion Town, with great difficulty and confusion, to develop a new mythology. Before this is to happen, however, The Orion Songbook has to be released from my back before it cripples me or swallows me whole."

Milia also talked about his influences. I said I think of them as a more Americana version of Nuetral Milk Hotel, because of the lyrical focus. Much like Jeff Mangum had his wintery Christmas images, full of domestic violence and faceless sexual visuals, he has his Orion Town aspects.
But there are also the deeply rooted undertones of folk music.
"I consider Stephen Foster as the first American songwriter of which I know - he’s the earliest songwriter I’ve heard that wrote the type of song that I want to write. He’s into memory in a haunting way: “Thou wilt come no more, gentle Annie!” He makes death beautiful - beautiful like the death of a mythology in which you had faith," he said. "I want our sound to be imagistic experimental traditional melodic music with lots of harmony centered around mythologized memory/place/love/backyard/home. We were initially formed as the synthesis of a bluegrass banjo player (David) and a kid with recurring nightmares about memories and being chased endlessly through the backyards of one-story-carport-houses in a really pitch black nighttime by faceless robbers. We love the existence of harmony and shrill sounds."
Milia also commented on their upcoming tour dates with Misra's Southeast Engine.
"We met Southeast Engine on our first tour ever this past summer in Muncie, Indiana while we were playing a string of shows with Arrah and the Ferns from Muncie. Both of those bands were our two favorite bands from the tour. Southeast Engine is a really superlative band. Leo from the group suggested us to do a set of shows together with them in Ohio and for them to come up for a set with us in Michigan. It looks like it’ll work out," he said
As I said before, Frontier Ruckus has been accepted to South by Southwest in 2008, so they will be making the trek for the first time.
"We’re driving down to SXSW and back as quickly and directly as possible, I think, due to us all being in school and most of us having jobs," Milia said. "It’s our first time playing that far south and we’re happy to temporarily abandon the North. Our friends in the band Canada mentioned touring down together, something we’d absolutely love to do, but I don’t think we have the time."
I also spoke with Southeast Engine singer/songwriter Adam Remnant about SXSW and Frontier Ruckus.
"Frontier Ruckus is great. We played with them at a club in Muncie, Indiana last summer. We've stayed in contact with them since, and we've recently set up some shows in Ohio with them in order to bring them to our home state. We're also currently working on a few Michigan dates to go play in their home state as well," he said.
Remnant also pointed toward a spot on SXSW as well, via the Misra showcase.
"SXSW is in the works - we're definitely playing the Misra showcase, and we're looking into some other performance opportunities," he said.

Don't forget!

The Ohio Experimental Music Festival is going on all weekend! Check out some of the best in national avant garde music - right here in your home town.

Midwestern Roundup!

• The folks at Buddha Den site have been more diligent than I have about posting info on upcoming festivals that bands can apply to. Specifically, information about NXNE and the Forecastle Festival. Check that out.
• Cincinnati band Wussy has been making more waves nationally as it's new CD hits radios and music publications. Rave reviews in Rolling Stone, CMJ, etc. They have also announced the band will hit the 2008 SXSW.
• Columbus band The Black Swans did a session with Daytrotter the other day. Check that out.
• Be sure to keep looking into Pat Radio. The internet show has recently featured Columbus musicians Megan Palmer, Terribly Empty Pockets and more...
• has become a nice link into breaking news about SXSW over the years. Be sure to keep looking over there for announcements about bands being accepted.
• Speaking of Wussy and SXSW, I just noticed that Michigan band Frontier Ruckus will apparently be hitting SXSW this year as well. The band is pretty great. I'd heard of them before, but never actually listened to their music.
Browsing through their Myspace tunes, I would describe them as a more Americana version of Neutral Milk Hotel. The lyrical-heavy focus is the biggest reason for that, with each line drafting through a dream-like visual landscape. Pretty interesting.
Also, they appear to be doing a tour with PWAH favorites Southeast Engine.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tell us who is famous?

Looks like I'm finally all done with the avant-garde articles for now. Hope people enjoyed them or learned something new from them. I had a lot of fun writing about the music, especially considering how little I knew to begin with. That is the entire point of this web site.
It took months to fully grasp how many bands there are right now and the cultures within the cultures that make up the bands playing in the Midwest. I just think it is notable that this art form has been causing a stir nationwide and some of these people involved need to be acknowledged. It really is interesting to see such growth in the art form these days and to see the people and bands involved who really care about seeing it go further.
I think overall, musicians these days are bored of traditional rock and are desperately trying to figure out new ways to keep it fresh. It makes me curious about what rock music will sound like 20 years from now. What do you think?
I guess the biggest thing to change in indie rock has been all these bands with 15 members. But even that has become pretty tiresome.
Generally, I think not much has changed in music over the past 20 years. My take is that 20 years from now things will pretty much be the same. But all we need is some genius to come along and throw a chain into the works. Musicians need a new way of thinking.
One interesting aspect of the current computer age of music is that there are fewer and fewer rock icons being produced. Is it because a lot of the music is pretty boring, or because the Industry lacks the stranglehold it used to have toward controlling the information being put out?
Or is it because terrestrial radio has fallen so far behind? It's not keeping up anymore. Stations like WOXY and satellite stations know what's what. But every time I browse regular radio I'm appalled at how many stations aren't even trying.
It used to be we learned about famous musicians from the big radio stations, MTV, or Rolling Stone. Now we read and listen about hundreds of bands a day on hundreds of different blogs. The information is immediate.
Yet, nobody really stands out as all that special.
Maybe it's because no one is telling us they are special, or maybe they just aren't special. Or maybe there are too many people right now telling us who they think is special, until it's just a bunch of white noise?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tour trilogy

If you check out the links today, be sure to check out the Dayton music site Buddha Den for an update on PWAH favorite Captain of Industry. He's got the scoop on their recording plans and their upcoming tour as the backing band for Happy Chichester, who is on tour with Columbus band The Receiver. That's an entire tour of PWAH favorites, people. Here's an old interview I did with Happy, for good measure...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Noise, DIY and the rebirth of Modern Lo-Fi

A rebirth in the roots of Indie Rock has been inevitable. Bands have begun redefining the concepts of modern Lo-Fi and avant garde rock has been steadily bubbling up to the surface.
I'm talking underground surface, mind you. Sort of like a pond caught down in a cave somewhere. They aren't exactly hitting the ballrooms yet.
So what is so special about the Midwest? Why has it proved to be such a fertile ground for people turning their backs on tradition?
While there seems to be no clear "center" in the Midwestern culmination of noise rock, I talked to many noise and avant garde artists who agreed that a hell of a lot of it is coming from Ohio - hence the motivation behind the recent Ohio Experimental Music Festival announcement.
Looking at the concept of avant garde or experimental music, you kind of have to look deeper into what has essentially become the Midwest DIY Culture Boom.
One cannot talk about avant garde music without paying homage to the DIY culture, a spirit which came to a head in the 1980s. But the spirit could even be traced solidly back to the field recordings of 1940s folk musicians, perhaps to messy Velvet Underground recordings, or even Daniel Johnston committing his obsessions to tape. There is no clear origination, but DIY releases just keep getting stronger. That is why the avant garde and DIY cultures go hand in hand, like two girls in a park. One fuels the other.
With the advent of The Internet, The Myspace, The Itunes, The Internet Record Label and more, the concept of pure DIY is not only a reality these days, it's a good business decision.
Regional blogs, such as "I Rock Cleveland" have even described Columbus, OH. as the "center of an exciting lo-fi movement in indie rock" during it's recent review of cassette tape rockers The Dolby Fuckers. The site has also defined the term as "New Noise," to describe these current pop/rock/noise bands - which seems pretty spot on to me.
But Columbus, Ohio just seems to be the starting point these days. With the signing of the town's Lambsbread to Thurston Moore's Esctatic Peace label, followed by pop-trash band Times New Viking signing to Matador, one might think something's up. Word on the street is that more Columbus experimental bands are expected to follow - although the new rumor is that Lambsbread may have already broken up. So take this information with a grain of salt.
musician Ryan Jewell, drummer of both Terribly Empty Pockets and various experimental/noise projects, has his own thoughts about the fertile spirit of experimentalism in places like Columbus.
"At the risk of over generalizing, there are certain things that are unique about bands from this area. Part of it is the whole run down post-industrial 'rust belt' thing, part of it is the conceptual art/process influence of having so many art schools in the area, part of it is the down to earth cowtown thing. In the Midwest, people have backyards, but they aren’t pretty by many peoples standards. But we learn to love it and even prefer them that way. People come from these smaller, isolated towns with nothing to do. But in the Midwest, even if you don’t have a lot of money you can move to a city and only pay $50 a week for an apartment, while in somewhere like New York you're going to be paying six times that amount for the same apartment. This opens up the community to a lot more freedom financially and artistically. People give up on wanting nice things and what you do becomes infinitely more important than what you have. There’s less focus on 'making it' in the Midwest because your expectations are lower from an industry point of view in a way that I think is amazing."
Jewell's point is interesting because the Midwest is largely ignored by national labels. The main reason is because A&R people are lazy. They usually live in LA, New York or Nashville and sometimes Chicago. They may check out a few unknown bands at CMJ or SXSW, but that's about it. You're not going to see a dude from Capitol Records at The Union in Athens, OH. on a Friday night, unless they are visiting a friend, or their car broke down on the way to Nashville.
Generally speaking, Midwestern musicians are not looking to be rock stars. They don't seem to care about the future, rarely venture out of their home towns and aren't about to hire on a publicist. They make music and live comfortably, with a day job in between.
I just thought of this reason too: It's so cheap to live in the Midwest, musicians end up playing in bands for longer periods of time. It's not about teenagers or college bands so much around here. You get many older musicians, who know their craft and are trying to develop that as far as it can go. This could be another reason for the progress of experimentalism.
Jewell had another point regarding the forced creativity of the Midwest bands.
"For the most part, the industry might as well be on an entire planet, but in somewhere like LA it’s constantly shoved down your throat. I grew up in Portsmouth, OH, a small, shitty run down town on the Ohio River where the only jobs were a shoelace factory and carry-outs. You’re so bored, that you are forced to do something, make something to make your life worthwhile. Hence the strong DIY aesthetic that’s so strong in the Midwest. Then these same people eventually get to a city with cheap rent with art schools, and weird venues with touring acts, and other people from shitty cities and cow towns just like theirs that might actually appreciate this weird thing that they used to do in their bedrooms and basements back home. Also there is the whole issue of people in smaller towns being influenced by something but getting it completely wrong and making it their own. Like, you hear some records or read about something, but since you don’t get the opportunity to see it live when you're younger, it comes out all wrong, but with the same spirit and vitality. It’s like playing AT music instead of playing music which I think is so much more interesting. It becomes something uniquely Midwestern."


I must admit that this has been one of the most difficult music articles I have ever written. Namely because one of the most prevalent attributes of noise bands is that they don't like to talk about anything. They don't like promoting themselves and they especially don't regard what they do as any high form of ART. Fortunately, for my sake, there are others who are passionate about what they do and really enjoy talking about it. There didn't seem to be much of a middle ground.
It took months just to get some bands to call me back or send out that email they promised to write three months ago. Most seem embarrassed and even offended to be asked about the music they make.
One of those bands in question is Columbus, Ohio's Times New Viking. The group is a kind of anomaly in the Midwestern noise rock scene. Essentially because no genre wants to lay claim to them. Some indie pop fans think they sound like noise and yet noise rock fans think they are total pop.
But the point of including Times New Viking in a discussion about Midwestern Noise Rock is because they are among the ONLY regional bands that fill the gap between Indie Rock and the noise aesthetics.
"Being midwestern means being ten years out of the loop, at least in our case," TNV guitarist Jared Phillips said. "When you're kind of an underdog (or hillbilly), you feel you can do whatever the fuck you want because people already have a preconceived notion of you. I think Robert Rauschenberg said that."
Times New Viking especially brings up debate among rock nerds regarding recording techniques. Can a noisy recording be considered art? Can it be considered pop? Is it just noise?
But the TNV folks and the majority of the DIY culture honestly believe that it's not just about HAVING to record with tape hiss, it's about APPRECIATING the tape hiss.
"Appreciating the tape hiss - yes, that just about explains it," Phillips said. "An old wizard friend of ours (Editor's Note: I think he means Mike Rep) once said something to the extent of, 'Tape hiss is the sound of life,' or, 'Tape hiss is the sound of the comet's tail.' Something poetic like that. We just like to make records that evoke a unique atmosphere, putting our sound in a different place, perhaps one that's a little more intimate. Records, I think, are supposed to sound a little experimental - it's a completely separate art form than seeing a band play live. You know, people think distorted guitars on records are okay, but distorted drums or vocals are not. Who decided this? Hitler? The Shins? Who cares. Also with records you can listen to them over and over again and hear new things each time."
Critics of lo-fi aesthetics often bring up how you can’t hear the words, you can’t hear the details. If noise rock aesthetics are going to catch on, it's a point that needs to be addressed.
"We have nothing to say to these people," Phillips said. "You either like it or you don't."
OK, so maybe it won't be addressed.
He said that maybe someday those traditional ideas will change more toward appreciating noise aesthetics, but they want no part of carrying that torch.
"That's not why we make music, to change people. Most of the critics are people who think music is supposed to sound a certain way, or they are people who spent too much time and money at recording school - hence their panties getting all bunched up when groups like us just teach ourselves how to do it the way we want. I'm sure a lot of people who dont listen to anything remotely experimental are the same ones who believe that everyone owns Pro-tools, or SHOULD own Pro-tools. Really fucked up, in-the-red records are nothing new. 'White light/White heat' is forty fucking years old. seriously," Phillips said.
And while the avant garde scene is exploding regionally, it doesn't necessarily mean people go to the shows.
"The other day we had Dan Deacon who is on Carpark, and Video Hippos, Santa Dads, Butt Stomach, and Blood Baby who are some of Baltimore's best bands," Cincinnati's Jon Lorenz said, proprietor of Art Damage Lodge. "And only three people showed up. The very next night we had Future Islands, Moss of Aura and a local band called Pomegranates, and like 20 some people show up. Dan Deacon is way bigger than Future Islands … there is about 10 people tops that come to a lot of the noise shows, and then no one else ever comes."
Lorenz also touched upon how the culture of the traditional indie rock fan and the avant garde fan are starting to meld together. Mainly because indie rock is becoming too manufactured.
"I consider the term void of any true value," Lorenz said. "But I think there is still this true underground scene that is happening that can be appreciated by noise dudes, like Times New Viking or Time and Temperatue. It's true. Its not manufactured at all. I think you have to be careful combining a noise band with other stuff. Sometimes people just leave or plug their ears, or just don't care about noise bands. I usually try to combine stuff with the same kind of attitude. Most noise stuff has that attitude, so it can be combined with the DIY attitude."
Lorenz also pointed out that some noise scene folks have splintered even further.
"They are still very judgemental of other stuff. I think everyone that is into noise also has some other scene that they belong too," he said. "Cincinnati kind of has a separation between the metal/punk noise kids and the older noise/free jazz/ weirdos. There are two different attitudes."
For the most part, he said, just as long as the people making the music are sincere the music can be accepted on any side.
Experimental guitarist Larry Marotta said that there can be a feeling of hostility in some cities.
"My best gigs are almost invariably in the Midwest, and specifically in small- to medium-sized cities. Having grown up on the east coast, I’d say that the Midwest audiences seem a little more open to new experiences when they go to a show. I’ve done pretty out-there stuff for folk or rock crowds in Columbus, and the reaction is still pretty positive, or at the least polite. Also, unlike in some of the larger media centers, you don’t have the big-name writers or scenesters determining what is hip for everyone to like or not. When I’m playing in New York, I get much more of a feeling of 'Welcome to the world center of culture. Since you’re not John Zorn or Elliott Sharp (no slam on either of them, BTW), why are you even bothering to perform for us? Who the hell are you?' In Columbus, or Ann Arbor, or Louisville, the response is more 'Thank you for coming to our city. We’re happy you’re here. What are you going to share with us this evening?'" he said.
So for now, there seems to be a future in the combination of DIY indie rock aesthetics and the avant garde culture.
Marotta said he see a kinship between bands such as Noumena, Sword Heaven, Burning-Star-Core, Wolf Eyes, Envenomist, Lozenge, and probably a lot of others.
When it comes to the upcoming Ohio Experimental Music Festival, it may be the first time many of these regional bands will be able to meet and see each other perform.
If Swordheaven's Mark Van Fleet is right, by joining together for something like the Ohio Experimental Music Festival, it could ensure that the Midwest experimental music scene could make even more progress over the next decade.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ohio Experimental Music Fest and you

The significance of the upcoming Ohio Experimental Music Festival is interesting to me.
Most people think the avant garde emanates from some dank New York basement, where silver painted walls shine on half naked women, cavorting on top of life-sized toy horses.
That's a pretty goddam great image. But the fact is that New York is tired, boring and overpopulated. That's my own opinion.
I am much more interested in people who grew up near farms and grain mills, yet still managed to pick up guitars and take it as far as they could. We don't rub elbows with Lenny Kravitz around these parts. We don't have the opportunity to kiss James Iha's ass in a bar and get our band signed.
We just have Bob Pollard, but that's way cooler.
Let me tell you, things are not as grandiose as our imaginations make them out to be. As far as I'm concerned people are too focused on music coming from New York and LA. I think they are two of the most boring music scenes in America. I just think New York is a vacuum of sheep herders. Masses of sheep falling into line.
Is the new style for girls to wear huge 1980s glasses, like whatshername in the Cannonball Run? Well I'll take two. Where do I sign up? Do people prefer them to be shiny and red, or simply brown and natural?? Because I'm ready to do either.
Is Interpol supposed to be good? Cool, let's start 30 bands that sound exactly like them and form a scene around it. That scene will be based on whose ass is kissed the most. That person will be the ring leader: The one with the most red lipstick on their butt.
Yeah, I'm bored of New York. So much so that I have reduced this article to childish babbling.
As luck would have it, that is why I'm focused on Midwest music.
And the most interesting thing going on right now is a festival being organized in Columbus, Ohio by the fellows from noise rock group Sword Heaven.
I recently heard back from the band's Mark Van Fleet about the process of organizing the festival and the concept of this type of music in the current underground Midwest scene.

People with Animal Heads: What motivated you guys (who all is helping, so I can include them too) to organize the Noise Fest in Columbus? What do you hope to accomplish with it?

Van Fleet: There was some talk on a noise related Internet bulletin board about how it would be cool to have a fest of all Ohio bands (prompted in part by someone who doesn't even live in Ohio I don't think), and I took the bait and said I'd get the ball rolling on it, and that it could be in Columbus since it's a central location. Whether you live in Cleveland or Cinci or Toledo or Athens no one has to travel much further than anyone else to get here, and I don't have to go far at all! I'm doing a lot of the co-ordination but the people who are running the venues are helping quite a bit too. That would be Adam Fleischer of Bourbon St, Aaron Hibbs at Skylab, and Shane Mackenzie out in Delaware at his farm/ compound. We decided that the bands would be selected by local "curators". So Aaron and I chose the Columbus acts. John from Emeralds and Chris of Bee Mask chose the Cleveland acts and have been great about other organizational/ promotion stuff. Spencer Yeh, Robert Inhuman, and Jon Lorenz chose the Cinci area groups. I solicited the opinions of Jason Zeh about the NW (he's from Bowling Green) and Matt Reis about the Dayton area, and just went with their suggestions.

I guess the motivation comes mostly from people realizing that right now there is a pretty solid community of people interested in experimental music all over Ohio that is even bigger than the handful of acts that have gotten some level of recognition in the underground. And there are quite of few of those groups. You have people that have been around awhile like Spencer Yeh from Cinci who does Burning Star Core, and Mike Shiflet from here in Columbus who has been running Gameboy records for close to ten years. You have a lot of newer Ohio bands touring and people are noticing them as well. Emeralds from up in Cleveland, Lambsbread from Delaware, Realicide in Cincinatti just to name a few. Even though Realicide has been around awhile, in the last few years, Robert has toured a ton and people talk about him wherever we go. You have people like Leslie Keffer and the ladies of 16 Bitch Pile-Up, all of whom have moved out of Ohio recently, but they are amongst some of the more recognizable names in underground noise and brought some much needed feminine spirit to a pretty dude centric scene. Anyway, these bands all know each other and have played together and it will be fun to get everyone together in one place so I guess that's the main goal, but also to expose people who are interested in this kind of music to acts that don't get out of town much. I'm excited to see the bands I've only heard about before, of which, there are actually quite a few and I'm excited for people who make the trip to see the groups from Columbus who rarely (never) play out of town. I guess I also hope that by doing a festival like this that we get some people who don't usually or only occasionally come to these things. It's a pretty good opportunity to come see what's going on if you have even a passing interest.
I should mention two festivals that happened in Columbus that I think this is an extension of. The first was called Avantronics. This was a two day festival organized at the now defunct BLD by Mike Shiflet in 2001 or maybe even 2000. It wasn't all Ohio bands, but it was the first time I'd seen so many different kinds of live experimental music and it was great. 16 Bitch Pile-Up decided to form after attending it. It was the first time I saw Noumena. The other festival that happened was in 2004, also at BLD. It was called Spring Aktion and I helped out with it. Again, not just bands from Ohio, but many were, and it was also a really great time. Since then (partially as a result of these two events?), the activity in the experimental music scene in Ohio has increased significantly, so I think it's time for another one of these multi day multi band events.

PWAH: Do you think there is a reason why the Midwest has raised such a large amount of noise rock bands? What do you think contributes to that?

VF: I think it's probably complicated, but I think the Midwest is more urban than most people think of it as being, and as such, you have a lot of people who know a lot about underground music and are drawn to the extremes of it and the avant garde, and yet, cheap rents and cost of living make it possible for people to pretty easily be in bands. It's no problem to have a place to practice or to own a van for example. That's a start. I mean I want to say it has something to do with the ties to manufacturing in the Midwest and a certain bleakness of the landscape/ people's lives, but I'm not sure that's so true.

(Editor's Note: Check back Tuesday for another edition of Noise in the Midwest)

The CEAs

Mike Breen's " Spill It" column had some nice coverage of the recent Cincinnati Entertainment Awards … HERE
I don't care what anyone says about city entertainment awards. I think they are a great thing. It's too bad most cities gave up on them.
God forbid a city should highlight its local artists, who are constantly dragging their sleeves through the muck of an endless parade of local stages, with all the bar owners padding their pockets with alcohol sales, as the bands walk out with 15 bucks and a huge bar tab.
Maybe it's time to say thanks for a change?
The CEA's did just that.
Of course, I have no idea if the CEA's suffer from nepotism. That's always been one of the arguments against city entertainment awards.
But the winners looked pretty diverse and well deserved from my perspective. The Seedy Seeds seemed to be the big winners, with two awards:

New Artist of the Year: The Seedy Seeds
Album of the Year: Wussy's Left for Dead
Artist of the Year: Buffalo Killers
Live Act: 500 Miles to Memphis
Musical Ambassador for the City: Over the Rhine
Electronic/Experimental: The Seedy Seeds
Hip Hop: Animal Crackers
Bluegrass: Rumpke Mountain Boys
Country: Straw Boss
Folk/Roots/Americana: Tupelo Honey
World Music: The Pinstripes
Rock: 500 Miles to Memphis
Hard Rock/Metal: Banderas
Singer/Songwriter: Kim Taylor
Alternative/Indie: The Sundresses
Punk: Caterpillar Tracks
Blues: Sonny Moorman Group
Funk/R&B: Freekbass
Jazz: Blue Wisp Big Band

Welcome to Detroit:
We're ready and willing to kill you

In another blow to the Motor City's tarnished image, Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city, according to a private research group's controversial analysis, released Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics.
The study drew harsh criticism even before it came out. The American Society of Criminology launched a pre-emptive strike Friday, issuing a statement attacking it as "an irresponsible misuse" of crime data.
The 14th annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America" was published by CQ Press, a unit of Congressional Quarterly Inc. It is based on the FBI's Sept. 24 crime statistics report.
The report looked at 378 cities with at least 75,000 people based on per-capita rates for homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. Each crime category was considered separately and weighted based on its seriousness, CQ Press said.
Last year's crime leader, St. Louis, fell to No. 2. Another Michigan city, Flint, ranked third, followed by Oakland Calif.; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland.
The study ranked Mission Viejo, Calif., as the safest U.S. city, followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Brick Township, N.J.; Amherst, N.Y.; and Sugar Land, Texas.
CQ Press spokesman Ben Krasney said details of the weighting system were proprietary. It was compiled by Kathleen O'Leary Morgan and Scott Morgan, whose Morgan Quitno Press published it until its acquisition by CQ Press.
The study assigns a crime score to each city, with zero representing the national average. Detroit got a score of 407, while St. Louis followed at 406. The score for Mission Viejo, in affluent Orange County, was minus 82.
Detroit was pegged the nation's murder capital in the 1980s and has lost nearly 1 million people since 1950, according to the Census Bureau. Downtown sports stadiums and corporate headquarters — along with the redevelopment of the riverfront of this city of 919,000 — have slowed but not reversed the decline. Officials have said crime reports don't help.
Detroit police officials released a statement Sunday night disputing the report, saying it fails to put crime information into proper context.
"Every year this organization sends out a press release with big, bold lettering that labels a certain city as Most Dangerous, USA," Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said in the release.
"It really makes you wonder if the organization is truly concerned with evaluating crime or increasing their profit," said Bully-Cummings, who noted the complete report is available only by purchase. "With crime experts across the country routinely denouncing the findings, I believe the answer is clear."
The mayor of 30th-ranked Rochester, N.Y. — an ex-police chief himself — said the study's authors should consider the harm that the report causes.
"What I take exception to is the use of these statistics and the damage they inflict on a number of these cities," said Mayor Robert Duffy, chairman of the Criminal and Social Justice Committee for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The rankings "do groundless harm to many communities," said Michael Tonry, president of the American Society of Criminology.
"They also work against a key goal of our society, which is a better understanding of crime-related issues by both scientists and the public," Tonry said.
Critics also complain that numbers don't tell the whole story because of differences among cities.
"You're not comparing apples and oranges; you're comparing watermelons and grapes," said Rob Casey, who heads the FBI section that puts out the Uniform Crime Report that provides the data for the Quitno report.
The FBI posted a statement on its Web site criticizing such use of its statistics.
"These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region," the FBI said. "Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents."
Doug Goldenberg-Hart, acquisitions editor at CQ Press, said that the rankings are imperfect, but that the numbers are straightforward. Cities at the top of the list would not be there unless they ranked poorly in all six crime categories, he said.
"The idea that people oppose it, it's kind of blaming the messenger," Goldenberg-Hart said. "It's not coming to terms with the idea that crime is a persistent problem in our society."
The report "helps concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime," CQ Press said in a statement. "The first step in making our cities and states safer is to understand the true magnitude of their crime problems. This will only be achieved through straightforward data that all of us can use and understand."
The study excluded Chicago, Minneapolis, and other Illinois and Minnesota cities because of incomplete data.
By DAVID N. GOODMAN, Associated Press Writer
Associated Press writer Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Midwestern Roundup!

• Cincinnati's Bad Veins announced they have signed with RCRD LBL, home to such up and coming indie heavy weights such as Art Brut, Battles, Bloc Party, Cold War Kids, Grizzly Bear, Kid Sister, Maximo Park, Spank Rock, The Stills, and The Willowz. It's sort of a site that releases music for free, in what appears to be a song by song basis. Check it out for yourself.
• Secretly Canadian artist Richard Swift has a new LP coming, courtesy of a Pitchfork Media article.
• Columbus folky artist Megan Palmer is the guest on Pat Radio this week. She plays 5 songs from her upcoming release, Take You Away, live on acoustic guitar. Songs from Luther Wright, Church of the Red Museum, Joe Kile, and Miss Molly are also in the mix.
• WOXY"s Local Lixx also has a new episode featuring PWAH favorite City Beat music critic Mike Breen. Check out the full story at Each Note Secure.
I also missed pointing at that Local Lix did episode #6 made up of past Lounge Act performances by regional bands. You can find that and more at this link here.
• Speaking of WOXY, the station has been nominated for a Plug Award. Check out the full story here.

Changes gonna come...

You know, I was looking over the past couple months of stuff I've put on People with Animal Heads and I realized that my focus has gone askew. Out of laziness I've been doing more commentary stuff and pointing you folks to interesting (I think) Midwest articles I find on other sites. But that was not what this site was supposed to be.
It's a project. It's more of an experiment. I want to find new music. From underground bands. Mostly because I feel like I can't rely on music critics. I just feel like people are inclined to be lazy. Next thing you know, you're doing interviews with your friend's band every week. Or you talk about a topic that you already know about, instead of trying to learn something new.
I'm rather ashamed that I seem to be falling into that rut as well.
So anyway, I may still post some interesting Midwest stuff I find on other sites. But I'm going to buckle down and do more interviews and continue exploring the Midwest state-by-state.
I really want to get to know the Chicago music scene. It remains relatively unknown to me. Mainly because it's impossible to get anyone in the fucking town to email me back.
I feel like I have a good grasp on Indiana now. I realize that not much information is available about the current Detroit and Michigan scenes, but only because it seems there is not much going on up there these days.
I'm kinda of sick of talking about Ohio, just because a lot is going on and it's easy to get info.
I also want to go south and explore Kentucky.
By the way, what the hell is going on in Iowa??? Do people actually live there? Does anyone own a guitar there?
I'm interested in Pennsylvania too. But I'm afraid that's too far out of my "Midwest" spectrum.
Good music coming out of there, though.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

He's still at it...

Have I mentioned yet how I wish George W. Bush would have a heart attack? It's our only hope.
While gracing the Midwest with his mouth pollution, the president vetoed another measure that might have put some more money into his own country, as opposed to funneling it all into his war agenda. His presence is like a giant intelligence vaccum.
If you people don't vote for a democrat this time around, you are fucking idiots. The man and all his followers have destroyed this country.
It just makes me realize how no one stands up for anything anymore. We all just sit here in our chairs at home, acting angry on a web-site like this.
But let's face it, Americans like myself are demoralized. I'm sick of seeing this shit over and over again. It's tiring. For the life of me, I can't fathom that revolutionary groups have not formed against a president that got elected illegally (though unproven), lied to us all to start a war, then has the nerve to force it on us for the rest of our lives.
It just blows my mind that a lot of you dumb fuckers voted for him the last time. Good going, dick brains.

NEW ALBANY, Ind. - President Bush, escalating his budget battle with Congress, on Tuesday vetoed a spending measure for health and education programs prized by congressional Democrats.
He also signed a big increase in the Pentagon's non-war budget although the White House complained it contained "some unnecessary spending."
The president's action was announced on Air Force One as Bush flew to New Albany, Ind., on the Ohio River across from Louisville, Ky., for a speech criticizing the Democratic-led Congress on its budget priorities.
In excerpts of his remarks released in advance by the White House, Bush hammered Democrats for what he called a tax-and-spend philosophy:
"The Congress now sitting in Washington holds this philosophy," Bush said. "Their majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it is acting like a teenager with a new credit card.
"This year alone, leaders in Congress are proposing to spend $22 billion more than my budget provides," the president said. "Some of them claim this is not really much of a difference and the scary part is that they seem to mean it."
More than any other spending bill, the $606 billion education and health measure defines the differences between Bush and majority Democrats. The House fell three votes short of winning a veto-proof margin as it sent the measure to Bush.
Rep. David Obey, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, pounced immediately on Bush's veto.
"This is a bipartisan bill supported by over 50 Republicans," Obey said. "There has been virtually no criticism of its contents. It is clear the only reason the president vetoed this bill is pure politics."
Since winning re-election, Bush has sought to cut the labor, health and education measure below the prior year level. But lawmakers have rejected the cuts. The budget that Bush presented in February sought almost $4 billion in cuts to this year's bill.
Democrats responded by adding $10 billion to Bush's request for the 2008 bill. Democrats say spending increases for domestic programs are small compared with Bush's pending war request totaling almost $200 billion.
The $471 billion defense budget gives the Pentagon a 9 percent, $40 billion budget increase. The measure only funds core department operations, omitting Bush's $196 billion request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, except for an almost $12 billion infusion for new troop vehicles that are resistant to roadside bombs.
Much of the increase in the defense bill is devoted to procuring new and expensive weapons systems, including $6.3 billion for the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, $2.8 billion for the Navy's DD(X) destroyer and $3.1 billion for the new Virginia-class attack submarine.
Huge procurement costs are driving the Pentagon budget ever upward. Once war costs are added in, the total defense budget will be significantly higher than during the typical Cold War year, even after adjusting for inflation.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Live Tweedy

Check out some live Mp3s from Jeff Tweedy posted by Can You See the Sunset From the South Side:


Sunday, November 11, 2007

TNV news

Here's an update on the upcoming Matador release of Columbus, Ohio's Times New Vikings "Rip it Off," courtesy of the Columbus Alive Sensory Overload blog:

Preview the new TNV


Matador Records has posted an mp3 with two songs from Times New Viking's upcoming Rip It Off, due out on the mega-indie in January. Click here to listen (or right-click to download).

In other TNV news, the lo-fi locals have booked a record release party at the Wexner Center Performance Space for January 25. Full lineup:

•Times New Viking
The Ponys (Chicago reverb garage; fellow Matador newbies)
Endless Boogie (funky psych from Brooklyn)
The Feelers (the best punk band in Columbus)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Just signed...

According to CMJ:
Detroit, Michigan's The Hard Lessons have signed to Quack!Media to release their latest EP for free as a digital download on their website. The label, which has found success via Tally Hall—who recently got nabbed up by Atlantic—as well as Great Lakes Myth Society, plan to "make record collecting fun again" by releasing the first in a four-part series titled B&G Sides November 23, starting with the songs "See And Be Scene" and "Don't Shake My Tree." The quirky popsters of the Hard Lessons have opened for everyone from Wolfmother to Iggy Pop and will continue their rigorous tour schedule with a couple dates throughout the midwest this month.

Tour Dates For The Hard Lessons:
11/09 - Toledo, OH - Mickey Finn's Pub
11/17 - Kalamazoo, MI - Kraftbrau Brewery
11/18 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen
11/23 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick

Poopy Time

A few bands chipped in some songs for a children's motivational happiness CD. More specifically, O.A.R. and Over The Rhine represent the Midwest.
Story courtesy of My Old Kentucky Blog:

Poop Goes in the Potty

So once you have a kid, and you're huge into music, you wonder if you're gonna force your obsession on your child. The answer is yes, you are. OK, well, I am. But, if you're like me and not sure how to do it, I've think got the solution. See my daughter already loves music, which makes me happy, but after a few hours of PBS Sprout or Noggin songs, you'd take kicks to the groin with more enthusiasm. Well, unless you're watching Wonder Pets - I could truly watch that show all day. Anyway, I digress...
This For The Kids series offers the perfect solution to the hipster parent who wants their kid to know more about indie music than any other 4-year old at preschool. Lucy, MJ and I have been rocking the third installment of this series on recent car trips, and I can't really speak for Lucy, but I can't get enough. It's full of classic and contemporary children's songs delivered by loads of your favorite indie artists. Mates Of State, Of Montreal, Rogue Wave, Blitzen Trapper and many more. Over The Rhine's The Poopsmith Song could be a true work of genius.
Remember, It's never too early to start your child on the path of musical snobbery and supremecy. Buy It!

Over The Rhine - The Poopsmith Song (highest rec!)
Barenaked Ladies - The Other Day I Met A Bear


1. I Want To Have Fun - Of Montreal
2. See You On the Moon - Great Lake Swimmers
3. The Poopsmith Song - Over The Rhine
4. My Little Bird - Rogue Wave
5. Itsy Bitsy Spider - O.A.R.
6. The Other Day I Met a Bear - Barenake Ladies
7. The Babysitter's Here - Dar Williams
8. I'm a Believer - The Sippy Cups
9. If You're Happy And You Know It - Anathallo
10. Does Your Cat Have a Mustache? - The Format
11. Sleep So Very Long - Moby
12. My Darling Clementine - The Submarines
13. Wheels On the Bus - Kyle Andrews
14. New Shoes - Blitzen Trapper
15. Sunny - Piano
16. Jellyman Kelly - Mates Of State
17. No Hiding - Hem
18. The Lint Song - MC Lars
19. Pure Imagination - Jolie Holland
20. Small As Me - Rosie Thomas

Also be sure to check into Volume One and Volume Two

Local Lixx episodes...

I kind of got off the rail when it came to posting the Local Lixx installments, courtesy of WOXY and Joe Long (also of Each Note Secure)

11/01 - Episode #5
This week on Local Lixx we continue our regional approach as our coverage takes us from Cincinnati to Columbus and even to Indianapolis. We also bring you a great song from Eclipse, a band that hits many genres, including hip hop, jazz and even jam band music on their self titled debut album. Enjoy another episode of Local Lixx!

Eclipse - - "Mambo Hop" - S/T
Buffalo Killers - - "SS Nowhere" - Lounge Act
Earwig - - "She Is A Witness" - Center Of The Earth
Mars Or The Moon - - "Ray" - The Price Of Love

10/25 - Episode #4
After a week off, Local Lixx returns this week with our fourth episode. Among the bands featured this week is Cincinnati Entertainment Award nominee Pomegranates, who caught the attention of Washington DC's Lugo Records with their Two Eyes EP and plan on releasing their full length album in early 2008. Also of note is new music by Northern Kentucky's Seabird. They signed a deal of their own recently with EMI records and will also have a full length in early 2008 on Credential Recordings.

Seabird - - "Let Me Go On" - Till We See The Shore
Cari Clara - - "Wide Awake" - You Better Run EP
Ryan Smith - - "Fifteen Minutes" - Neil Avenue
Pomegranates - - "Nursery Magic" - Two Eyes EP
Caterpillar Tracks - - "Slippery Slope" - Scrape The Summer EP

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

oh yeah...

Speaking of CMJ. I didn't realize until now that music writer Eric Davidson had a staff blog for CMJ. I have now included that among my links to the right.
As much as I loath the culture of New York's indie rock masses, I figure if anyone can shoot me straight it would be a former Ohio man and lead singer of the New Bomb Turks...

CMJ on Wussy

Just saw this CMJ review of Wussy's new CD, as penned by a former Columbus ex-patriot...

WUSSY: Left For Dead
By Eric Davidson

The sweetly sullen sentiments of this Cincinnati band may flow from co-singer Chuck Cleaver's hangover as the leader of one of the most enormously overlooked bands of the early '90s indie rock groundswell: the Ass Ponys. But those days seem comfortably behind him on this, the second and best Wussy album. He's since regenerated his love of grabby college rock-cum-southern Ohio porch strumming with surprisingly focused songwriting and gal/guy vocal weaving. Where the Ass Ponys' melancholia was swaddled in frayed flannel, Wussy slowly unbuttons a sluggishly sexier surrender. And it isn't just the two purty gurl faces in Wussy that bring the mournful beauty of the melodies to the fore. Gorgeously rumpled ruminations like "Mayflies" and "Sun Giant Says Hey" are given their odd attraction as much by Cleaver's high warble as those pretty chords. And if, for fleeting seconds, Left makes one wonder if there is a radio program called Alternative Adult Contemporary, charming chuggers like "Killer Trees" and "What's-His-Name" feel downright forthright in their determination to craft transcendence out of the doomed fate of anyone tagged simply an "indie pop band" anymore. Then a song like "Melody Ranch" brings it all back around to the autumnal jangle that so populated the left end of the radio dial back in the first Bush era. But a lot has happened since, which is why the lyrics dole out the kind of reflective, slightly bitter, more than slightly surreal lyrics that many might think were Guided By Voices, but have been an Ohio scruff-pop standard since Scrawl's also-lost classics of college-town desire, dashed dreams and draft beer.

Tracklist For Left For Dead:
01. Trail Of Sadness
02. Rigor Mortis
03. Mayflies
04. Millie Christine
05. Killer Trees
06. Jonah
07. What's-His-Name
08. Tiny Spiders
09. Sun Giant Says Hey
10. God's Camaro
11. Melody Ranch
12. Vivian Girls

Midwest Round Up!

• Many regional CD release reviews out the past couple of days:
Check out a review of Columbus band Psychedelic Horsehit courtesy of I Rock Cleveland:
Psychedelic Horseshit
Magic Flowers Droned
I want to work on a marketing campaign for the Columbus lo-fi band Psychedelic Horseshit. I've got all these great slogans we could use: "With a name like Psychedelic Horseshit, it's got to be good." "A day without Psycedelic Horseshit is like a day without sunshine." "Psychedelic Horseshit. It melts in your mouth, not in your hands." Ok, maybe that last one doesn't work quite so well as the others, but I think you see my point. Besides it being loads of fun to put the words Psychedelic Horseshit in the middle of famous slogans, it can be hard to tell if Psychedelic Horseshit should be taken seriously.
Is Psychedelic Horseshit's strict adherence to the lo-fi aesthetic done for art's sake? Is it from a f*ck all attitude? Or, is it some of both? When they bury the melody of a great pop song like "Portals" or "Can't Get Enough" in a harsh mix with guitars and organs pushing red, it's obviously done for aesthetic reasons. When they do something like run two songs in two channels simultaneously, like they do on "Mash Up: Psychedelic Horseshit vs Space Age Lucifer," you become convinced that they're more interested in messing with your head than they are in making music. The best moments of Magic Flowers Droned come when art meets confrontation and the two find common ground, as is the case with "New Wave Hippies." The mix is rough, Matt Whitehurst's guitar solos are ragged, the jabs at freak folk are pointed ("New Wave Hippies do song and dance/but they don't say anything/An entire generation with no one to believe"), and the song constantly threatens to deconstruct itself into a formless mass of noise. Magic Flowers Droned can be a frustrating listen in parts, "Mash Up: Psychedelic Horseshit vs Space Age Lucifer," in particular, is a prime candidate for permanent skip, but every time you're ready to write them off as making noise for the sake of noise, they give you a song, and a damn good one, too.

• Check out this review of Cincinnati band Catapillar Tracks courtesy of Spill It!: HERE
• Check out the review of Cincinnati band Pomegranates - Two Eyes EP - Courtesy of Each Note Secure: HERE
• I found a few more Indiana-based music sites lately. I've included them in my links to the right.

Midwest Noise update

I mentioned the Noise Fest coming up in Columbus this winter. More information has turned up via the organizers.
It is officially being called THE OHIO EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC FESTIVAL
and it will run from NOV 30th -DEC 2nd
The venues will be separated.
On Friday 11/30 at the 30th at Bourbon St.
On saturday 12/1 at Skylab
and on Sunday 12/2 it will be held out in Delaware (not sure where)
The full line up for the festival has not been announced yet, but it will include 30 acts from Ohio. It should be interesting to see what bands take part.

If you didn't catch the first installment of Noise in the Midwest … another installment is coming soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I swear I gave them all a chance...

I saw these music sites have been singled out as "Best Music Blogs" in the 2007 Weblog Awards. I'm not really sure what consitutes a "best" site anymore. But thankfully the best ones on the list are from the Midwest. I've highlighted those in all caps.

Kevipod Music
This one is based out of Spain and seems to be a site for men whose balls have been recently ripped off in bizzarre tractor accidents. Seems to be all about girl pop singers.
Pretty Much Amazing
Other than the Daft Punk MP3s this site just focuses on the same goddam 10 bands every other site does. No wonder huge record company conglomerates will never go out of business. There's too many pointless sites like this doing their marketing for them.
Ditto, but this one focuses more on R&B then indie rock.
I like this site AND it's based partly in Kentucky. But not many updates lately because of a tech problem.
I see Fiery Furnances. I see Pit er Pat. These are actual indie rock bands. I see show reviews. MP3s. Unfortunately, it's based in New York. That was strike one. Essentially it's the same music site I've seen a million times. A ton of pictures from the recent MIA tour? Check. Maybe if she were showing her boobies, I could see the point of this. But every site has 'em.
Yup, there's the standard posts on Jay Z. There's the standard posts hyping of his buddy's blog. There's more stuff on Grizzly Bear that every other site is doing. I guess Grizzly Bear is the new "hype" band of the moment. I'm fine with that, I like the tune "On a Neck, On a Spit" and I suppose I'd never heard it unless these sites existed. But wow, I'm going through page after page and it's the same shit I see on every other blog. Can't these bloggers just pick a leader and let that dude write this shit? Then maybe go on and do something different? I don't know, maybe a site about Flemenco Music in Iowa? Anything?
I swear it's not just because it's Midwestern, I've liked this site for a while because the guy has great taste in music. It also has the only "blogradio" show on Sirius Radio that doesn't make me want to punch myself in the nose. He has a great radio voice. Doesn't talk like a 12-year-old girl/boy and has his shit together.
Aquarium Drunkard
Not many updates on this one, but I like it for the constant posts filled with Neil Young songs and other random greatness. Holy crap, I just noticed he posted some stuff on Lou Reed's "Street Hassle." This site just won me over again.
Chris Picks
MMMMkay, there is the 90th post I've seen on The Killers/Lou Reed song. Some crap about MIA. Some crap about Kanye West. Oh Jeesus, I think this is another R&B site. But there are also posts about REALLY crappy emo bands too. I can't believe this site is based in Canada. They always have good taste in music...
I think this one is based in Chicago? But why would they nominate a site that has been defunct for a while now?

Prisoner to booking

If there is one thing that can drive a musician insane, totally flatten down their optimism and generally leave them feeling dirty at night - it's booking shows.
For the most part, setting up a show can be done easily in your hometown. You know folks who know folks, you know?
But the minute you try to go beyond the gates you are vulnerable.
Some music scenes are closed up tighter than a frog's ass (i.e. Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, even Columbus lately). So if you want a show, you have to swap with another out of town band.
But 9 times out of 10 you give a band a show in your hometown and they won't return the favor. When you call to collect, they stop returning your emails and you're stuck back at square one. All you have to show for your work was some sucky band getting rid of your crowd (since you nicely gave them the 11 p.m. well-populated slot). If you are one of the bands screwing people over, keep in mind that Karma is a bitch. It always comes back around.
When I started this site, I tried to do a whole article on touring bands in the region. I'm talking the bands that pack up and hit the road for an entire month or more. More specifically, I noticed at the time that Columbus band The Receiver was touring out west. Unfortunately, they never answered my emails. So I gave up on that.
Fast forward many months, and young Leo Maymind, who goes by the band name Spanish Prisoners started catching my eye. He released his debut CD "Songs to Forget" and has since toured all over the country. I just assumed he was getting these gigs with the help of a booking agency. Turns out he's been doing all this shit on his own. I thought that was commendable and perhaps he could offer some insight for other bands looking to tour more often.
"I do all my own booking, press, everything. I'm a one-man, DIY operation over here, literally. My last tour I drove for two weeks around the country alone. It's been challenging, and sometimes frustrating, but at the same time, it's rewarding when I connect with people because I know I am the only one responsible for it," Maymind said. "It is hard to book out of town shows, but you just have to be dilligent about it and plan way ahead. It is also helpful to find bands that live in the cities you want to visit and try to get them to help you set up the show. I get some help from friends in bands that way."
I had assumed that Maymind was hooked up with Insomniac Booking, because of his ties to Athens, OH. But he has not worked with any booking agencies before.
"I think the best advice I would give to bands is the old adage: Just Do It. Seriously. Plan it out, and do it. Set goals. Have a system. I wish more Columbus bands toured, because there are a lot of great bands here that NEVER play out of town. When I was on my first tour with Adam Torres (Nostra Nova) we had a show in this coffeeshop in upstate New York and no one was there. Literally. So we took our guitars outside and saw a group of about 20 people down the street and we went down there, introduced ourselves, and just sang on the sidewalk for a while. This led to being invited back to one of the guy's apartments where we played another set each. Was one of the best nights of the tour. You just have to go out there and get the music heard."
When it comes down to it, no self-respecting band honestly enjoys the booking process. Often times it's akin to begging on a street corner. You deal with attitudes. You deal with liars. You deal with people who could give two shits about you and your music. The rest of the time they don't even return your calls. God help you, if your band is not even very good. Because this is the crap that GOOD bands deal with too.
Ultimately, bands with any hopes for touring are secretly looking out for booking agencies that will take them on. Hell, these days most indie bands want to get signed SOLELY because they want to tour.
Maymind is feeling the pinch too, "I'm hoping sometime soon some people will start seeing the worth in my music and want to take me on. We'll see. I always find this interesting too - I think it really changes the game if you have a PR firm, as they can do way more than I can on my own."

By the way...

This is totally unrelated to Midwestern music, but I saw this CD cover for the New York band As Tall as Lions. I thought it was one of the best covers I've seen in a long time. Not even sure why, but there you are...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Midwest Rock in Print

I'm glad people are starting to go back to the old days of indie rock newsletters. Hopefully it's a trend that grows. I say the more information that gets out the better. That way, bands and music lovers have more control and can even out the nepotism.
Seriously, it amazes me that not many people realize that 80 percent of what we read in blogs, local newspapers, websites, etc. is just someone writing about their friends bands.
The way it works is:

1) National bands currently being hyped
2) Local bands the writer is friends with come next
3) Local bands that the writers' friends really like
4) All the other local band schlubs left with their dicks twisting in the wind.

Anyway, I've come upon two new publications (actually made with ink) focused on regional indie rock in Ohio:
• Dayton's Smartypants offers a nice mixture of music reviews/discussion alongside mixed media art. The first run was 250 papers.
• In Columbus the people associated with The New Dark Ages" have announced the new publication "Wow i love it," featuring interviews with Swordheaven and other bands, creative art, writing and more.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Wedgie proof Columbus

First the dude that bombed Japan, now this...

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Wedgie-proof underwear earned 8-year-old twin boys a spot Friday on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Using rigged boxers and fabric fasteners to hold together some seams, Jared and Justin Serovich came up with the "Rip Away 1000."
"When the person tries to grab you — like the bully or the person tries to give you a wedgie — they just rip away," Justin explained Thursday by phone from Los Angeles, where the TV segment was taped Wednesday.
The third graders from Gables Elementary School began brainstorming one day after they were horsing around, giving each other the treatment. Their mother's partner sarcastically said someone ought to invent wedgie-proof underwear, the family said.
The project got the boys to the finals of a central Ohio invention competition earlier this year, followed by the television appearance.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Get to know: Pat Radio

Thanks to Columbus Alive writers for highlighting a podcast called Pat Radio. A man from a Columbus suburb has been highlighting regional indie rock bands with a trusty mic and mixer.
He features live acoustic performances (Black Swans and others), plays songs, interviews and plans to do full band performances in the future.
Check out the Alive article HERE
Check out the Pat Radio web-site HERE

Man who dropped the bomb
Columbus, OH. man requests no funeral, had no regrets

Pilot of plane that dropped A-bomb dies
By JULIE CARR SMYTH, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Paul Tibbets, who piloted the B-29 bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Thursday. He was 92 and insisted almost to his dying day that he had no regrets about the mission and slept just fine at night.
Tibbets died at his Columbus home, said Gerry Newhouse, a longtime friend. He suffered from a variety of health problems and had been in decline for two months.
Tibbets had requested no funeral and no headstone, fearing it would provide his detractors with a place to protest, Newhouse said.
Tibbets' historic mission in the plane named for his mother marked the beginning of the end of World War II and eliminated the need for what military planners feared would have been an extraordinarily bloody invasion of Japan. It was the first use of a nuclear weapon in wartime.
The plane and its crew of 14 dropped the five-ton "Little Boy" bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. The blast killed 70,000 to 100,000 people and injured countless others.
Three days later, the United States dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Tibbets did not fly in that mission. The Japanese surrendered a few days later, ending the war.
"I knew when I got the assignment it was going to be an emotional thing," Tibbets told The Columbus Dispatch for a story published on the 60th anniversary of the bombing. "We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background. We knew it was going to kill people right and left. But my one driving interest was to do the best job I could so that we could end the killing as quickly as possible."
Tibbets, then a 30-year-old colonel, never expressed regret over his role. He said it was his patriotic duty and the right thing to do.
"I'm not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did," he said in a 1975 interview.
"You've got to take stock and assess the situation at that time. We were at war. ... You use anything at your disposal."
He added: "I sleep clearly every night."
Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr. was born Feb. 23, 1915, in Quincy, Ill., and spent most of his boyhood in Miami.
He was a student at the University of Cincinnati's medical school when he decided to withdraw in 1937 to enlist in the Army Air Corps.
After the war, Tibbets said in 2005, he was dogged by rumors claiming he was in prison or had committed suicide.
"They said I was crazy, said I was a drunkard, in and out of institutions," he said. "At the time, I was running the National Crisis Center at the Pentagon."
Tibbets retired from the Air Force as a brigadier general in 1966. He later moved to Columbus, where he ran an air taxi service until he retired in 1985.
But his role in the bombing brought him fame — and infamy — throughout his life.
In 1976, he was criticized for re-enacting the bombing during an appearance at a Harlingen, Texas, air show. As he flew a B-29 Superfortress over the show, a bomb set off on the runway below created a mushroom cloud.
He said the display "was not intended to insult anybody," but the Japanese were outraged. The U.S. government later issued a formal apology.
Tibbets again defended the bombing in 1995, when an outcry erupted over a planned 50th anniversary exhibit of the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Institution.
The museum had planned to mount an exhibit that would have examined the context of the bombing, including the discussion within the Truman administration of whether to use the bomb, the rejection of a demonstration bombing and the selection of the target.
Veterans groups objected, saying the proposed display paid too much attention to Japan's suffering and too little to Japan's brutality during and before World War II, and that it underestimated the number of Americans who would have perished in an invasion.
They said the bombing of Japan was an unmitigated blessing for the United States and the exhibit should say so.
Tibbets denounced it as "a damn big insult."
The museum changed its plan and agreed to display the fuselage of the Enola Gay without commentary, context or analysis.
He told the Dispatch in 2005 that he wanted his ashes scattered over the English Channel, where he loved to fly during the war.
Newhouse, Tibbets' longtime friend, confirmed that Tibbets wanted to be cremated, but he said relatives had not yet determined how he would be laid to rest.
Enola Gay Remembered Inc.

Audio Eagle OHIO COMP out today

Today marked the release of the Akron Audio Eagle Records "Ohio" compilation. Many PWAH favorites on there, from Southeast Engine and Gil Mantera, to the Heartless Bastards and Buffalo Killers. Some great choices on there, and a few curious ones.
Here is a write up courtesy of Pitchforkmedia, HERE

Cincinnati - The Seedy Seeds on NPR

Cincinnati's The Seedy Seeds' song "Earned Average Dance America," from their recent release Change States, was selected as NPR's Song of the Day yesterday.

Check out the review of the song HERE