Month of July, 2010

Time is the enemy, Time is the guide.

Among The Gold Cover 


(By Neil) 


Any notion that poises the Music Issue as an outlet for the latest music happenings seems a little silly right now, as  I present to you “Among The Gold” by Cheyenne Mize and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Despite having been released well over a year ago, comprising a handful of hundred year old American parlor songs, this music doesn’t seem dated in it’s sepia haze, whatsoever! We revisit this one as Mize sets out to tour the US Midwest, offering a free download of this collaboration with the ever-prolific Bonnie Billy. 

If you are a follower of Will Oldham and his live show, you may remember Mize singing with the travellin’ Bonnie band throughout late 2008 and from the resultant ‘Funtown Comedown’ concert album. This recorded team-up eventuated following an invitation to contribute his mythic timbre to a couple of Mize’s favorite antique tunes. They so enjoyed the initial sessions that Bonnie chose to stay, contributing to the musical arrangements and singing with Mize on all six songs. 

This set is accompanied by little touches of guitar, autoharp and fiddle, with performances that feel bouncily disjointed, affecting an evening around the lounge room  in your corsets and smoking jackets, listening to your Victorian Age parents wander through a few of their after-dinner favorites. There are moments that feel recited, but just as soon, the pair of them slip into doe-eyed duet mode and take you somewhere else completely. Unless you are a fan of parlor songs or most things antique, you may be dubious of spinning this one, but chancing “Among The Gold” will offer a rewarding experience in the form of melodious baubles of pleasantry that can be applied to breezy afternoon kickbacks or floating down in the evening after work.

All of that being said, this record didn’t exactly blow my mind, nor did it have me scrambling to find other collections of parlor music or any other 19th century music in it’s wake. It has a wonderful air to it, in it’s projected world of lace doilies and glass encased pheasants. You can almost hear a horse drawn carriage rolling past your window, if you inclined to let you’re mind wander! If this sounds like your cup of tea, then you can grab it here:

Rock Camp Pro Holky, July 12-17, 2010

(By Daphne)

Seven girls about a dozen volunteers came together to make the first ever Rock Camp for Girls (Rock Camp Pro Holky) in Tabor, Czech Republic, between July 12 and July 17, 2010. It was an amazing, exhausting experience with a small but passionate group of women instructors culled from the local DIY community and from the (emerging) Prague feminist music scene.

Black n' White as fans at Rock Camp Pro Holky 2010

(Black n' White cheering on Rockat at Rock Camp Pro Holky, 2010)

This is my fourth summer of working for Rock Camps, and my first ever outside of the Willie Mae Rock Camp family. The camp was founded by Debbie Gordon, a longtime member of the US punk community as a band manager for the Dicks and Babes In Toyland, among others. She was inspired by Willie Mae's model and brought it to Tabor, where longtime DIY arts organizer, worker, and musician Hilary Binder put the model into the Czech and local context. I first heard of the project when I was at the Willie Mae auction in February, and when I returned to Prague contacted Hilary and traveled down to Tabor, where I was overwhelmed by the space for the future camp. It's called CESTA, and is run by Hilary and Chris, SF to CZ transplants who've been touring for 20 years as the band Sabot. It's an old factory full of big, multi-functional spaces including a full theater, a dining table for maybe 40, two fully equipped practice rooms that accomidate them, Gaffa, and the Free Dimension studio, and a yard with a greenhouse next to a creek and abutting the local park. It's kind of...magic. It's the perfect place for kids.

But I was still hardly prepared for how much the place would bloom when the girls showed up on Monday morning. The girls naturally split into an older and younger group, making the band assignment painless and allowing them to support one another without the awkward rivalries that occur among different age groups. The younger girls quickly decided to wear purple ever day, and sang with mad glee at every chance. The older girls were all in black with punk cuffs each day, laughing and sharing secrets - by Thursday they had already secured a rehearsal space for themselves as a "real" band, and they acted in rehearsal like long-made friends - gracious but critical, getting a lot accomplished and still laughing. I was happy to add my Rock Camp anthems mix, which had the girls singing and dancing after lunch and between times to Zuby Nehty, Budoár Staré Dámy, Youcoco, Betty Davis, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Le Tigre, Aretha, Dusty, the Go Gos, Lilliput, The Ronettes, etc.

One thing I liked about Tabor more than I like about Willie Mae is that all the girls took singing classes, which I think is great not just for amateur musicianship in general but because it helped everyone overcome shyness. And also we couldn't beat the instrument instruction size -- I had three girls in my bass class and they picked up so much more because they could hear themselves. I am definitely going to break my group up into smaller groups back in BK this August.

The concert on Saturday was great too - held in the outdoor garden patio of Sedmicka on the Tabor main square. It threatened rain and the Tabor city center was hosting a free outdoor jazz fest that was potentially causing noise conflict, but neither were problems. The crowd was large, enthusiastic and genuinely impressed not just with the girls but with the professionalism and enthusiasm of the camp, which made me really happy because the first year of a new organization is always hard and we frankly need more volunteers to keep this going and of course to expand, which will happen since the word is now out. And next year the older girls, Black n' White, agreed to come back as junior counselors, but only under the condition that they keep up with their instruments for the whole year. Moms and dads behind them said yes, drum kits and basements promised, and the girls only left after much lingering and tears. Really, we weren't too far off.


Audio of the final concert at Soundcloud

Images of the whole camp at Flikr (Rock Camp Pro Holky tag)


End of the Consumer Guide

Sad to read that Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide, the four decade long project of critical engagement with all new pop, has come to an end. Among the many signs of empire's end, this could be one.

The Magnificence of Memory

So, it was January of 2002, and I was thinking about Brian Eno after talking with Daphne about his wickedly brilliant book ‘A Year With Swollen Appendices’ and thinking about how to go about writing in this inquisitive yet decisive manner, when it was handed to me. It was the 18th of January, and the e-mail subject read “All For You” and led me to I followed the link, and was changed forever. I’d never heard of a ‘blog’ before, but this was not the first or last time Daphne hepped me to the latest progression in human communication. Eno’s questions were explained to me and more questions posed to me, and I still think about these questions  as the days go by. So eight years on, the two of us have conceded that I will never establish a blog of my own and that my wayward thoughts on the sounds I devour daily are better collected and saved than yammered about and then forgotten. Thanks D for creating this all for me and for inviting me into your world!

Timeless. What does this word mean exactly? A word that is used and has been used in the past. Most certainly in the future too. Does it describe something that is not immediately placeable in an era? Does it mean something born in the here and now will live forever? Does it mean that it may have never existed at all?

I present to you an album by a man called Mike Hadreas. He has a story that you will likely find attached to most reviews, attributing the fragility and sombreness of these sounds and subjects to his early experiences. I won't go into that now, because much like last year's phenomenon, Girls, the day to day these people lived through holds little relevance here, not so much as the music they captured and offer for us all to hear. 

Mike's debut album is called "Learning" and is credited to Perfume Genius.

I've already met with press describing this work as morose or confronting. I can buy that, but I also think if your the type that finds hope in being at rock bottom, when the only way to go is up, then this music will hold a beckoning sort of radiance for you. Everyone else? They’ll just have to use their imagination, and if they're lucky, they’ll see it too! 

It won't be too difficult with the abundant currents of glorious sound that make up of this set of songs. You will find chiming, hammered pianos among lilting orchestral groans and sighs, many a twinkling synthesizer sequence floating through. Mike's voice has a few key characteristics at play.  Many of the vocals are deftly double tracked lending an otherworldly quality to the floating tones and they wind around one another, at times exhibiting a lullaby type quality to it, as if he's singing in hushed tones as not wake you in the process. All the while you will find incredibly strong and sure lead performances that which his ghostly whispers play support. Much of the music is slow and languid and is much the aural equivalent of watching a ball of yarn unravel in slow motion.

Close your eyes and imagine Low playing through a bevy of their favorite Daniel Johnston songs. Imagine Prince as a lovelorn unicorn committing arcane catharsis to Tascam. Imagine a Chan Marshall and Bradford Cox realising a dream-pop doomed high school romance saga. 

To just engaging the imagination while this one spins will reward even the jaded listener with an experience visceral as it is challenging, coy yet stark and honest, 100% Mike's music. Highlights flow from beginning to end. This album breathes effortless creativity, seems more like an egg that's been laid than a mere 'work' of art. Clouds obscuring secret cities? This is easily the best thing Matador has released this year!



More information on Perfume Genius can be found:




Here is a link to a newly posted live session of Perfume Genius, performing much of the album for you to see and hear!