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Monday, May 28, 2007

A Bit O' Nepotism Never Hurt Nobody

I'm gonna get this out of the way now, and then we can all go back to work like nothing ever happened. Here we go.

For those of you who are unaware, I come from an exceedingly musical family. If there were a competition for musical families in Burlington, we'd be right up there with the Cleary family — that is, if they'd stop popping out babies every nine months. 

Anyway, from time to time, I'll be mentioning my siblings musical endeavors. But I promise to do so only when it's relevant and/or really freakin' cool. Here's one of the latter:

I just received a missive from my younger, vastly more-talented sister Ariel, who informed me that she and her musical partner-in-crime, Rachel Ries, were recently interviewed and performed on Minnesota Public Radio. While that alone is pretty nifty, what's even better is that the interviewer was none other Jim Ed Poole, better known as the sound effects guy on Prairie Home Companion.

Check it out here.

Ok Ari.  You've used up the Bolles' family nepotism quota for the month. You're welcome.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

(Solid) State Of The Union

Greetings Solid Staters! Before I begin, I'd like to apologize for the stagnant period following Casey's final post. You can stop hounding me with snarky e-mails, withdrawl-addled, jittery late-night phone calls and threatening notes tied around bricks, thrown through my living room window. Casey's gone. I'm here. We'll get through this together, I promise. But I digress.

Since being annointed as "The New Casey," I've frequently been asked for my feelings regarding the current condition of local music. Whether from musicians, club owners or fans, it's been a hot topic of conversation, which speaks to the reverence and passion with which folks view our local scene. I thought it only fitting to officially add my thoughts to the discussion in this, my inaugural post. Thus, I present to you The Solid State of the Union Address.

Fellow Uh-mericuns, the state of our Union is strong . . . No, seriously. It is. The nature of local music is found in its constant ebb and flow. For every local "Golden Age" like the early to mid-1990s, you have periods similar to the current, slightly slower era. Burlington will always have a young, transient population, which leads to an ever-changing group of artists making noises in Vermont. There is rarely a lack of talent, but occasionally, we enter stages when there are few, if any, bands or artists making big waves. While the larger clubs like Nectar's and Metronome load up on out-of-state fare, the smaller venues such as Radio Bean and it's bizarro Montpeculier cousin, Langdon Street Cafe, are teeming with a dizzying array of up-and-coming local talent. You have to do some leg work to find great new bands, but that's half the fun.

Only two years ago, there was a roster of local bands numbering in the teens that could fill nearly any club in town, any night of the week. Many of them, like Manifest Nexto Me, Black Sea Quartet, and, ahem, The Middle Eight are no longer with us, while bands like Swale, The Cush and The Jazz Guys, though still playing, have somewhat somewhat receded into the background. It's always sad to see good bands die young, but it also opens the door for the next wave of talent to make its mark. So who are the likely culprits?

To find the answer, look no further than the Bean. Since its inception, hundreds, if not thousands of bands have made their way through the tiny cafe next to Lovely Nails. To be honest, a lot of 'em truly suck, but as the saying goes, throw enough shit against the wall . . .

One band that is sticking to Burlington's collective brick facade is Cccome?, fronted by none other than Radio Bean proprietor, Lee Anderson. The devilish quartet is something like a Vaudeville-sideshow on LSD, and features — as many local bands do — ex-members of deceased groups. In this case, Meistah from Black Sea and Chris Kiper from Manifest. They're not for everyone, but you're unlikely to find many other bands like them, especially in Burlington.

Speaking of Lee, he recently told me about a group called Drive The Hour, which he claims is his new favorite local band. I haven't heard them, but that recommendation alone piques my interest. Let's face it, the guy sees more local music than anyone else in town, including myself — and I get paid to do it.

Another Bean-sprout band making their presence felt is El Paso, an avant-folk quartet featuring jazz-guitarist Nick Cassarino. Sooner or later, some asinine rock critic will no doubt compare them to Arcade Fire . . . man, I hope it's not me.

I could go on, but I'm told blogs are supposed to be short, and I already feel like I'm rambling. The point is that there are a slew of bands in the area that are flying just under the radar, but have the potential to usher in a new era of local music. And they're not all from Burlington, though I've been somewhat B-Town-centric. St. Alban's Americana-noir act, Farm, come to mind. It's my job to find these bands, but I can't be everywhere. So I call on you, the citizens of Solid State, to bring to my attention anything that you think should be covered in these esteemed pages (paper or electronic), especially good new bands. After all, it's your scene.

Good night, and may God bless American Apparel.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Final post.

Well, this is it  — my final SolidState post.

After some discussion, we here at 7D have decided that the blog will stay much the same in terms of look and pre-existing content. So when you need to remember how yours truly felt when his cat died of leukemia, you can. Feel like re-living the feisty back-and-forth between myself, the local blog community and a particularly mean-spirited commentator? You can do that, too.

Rumor has it the new Music Editor, Dan Bolles, will be inviting at least a couple of posters to the party; can't wait to see how that all pans out.

But what of me? Well, I do believe it's time to unveil my new blog: The Contrarian. Bookmark me now, please. This site will better reflect some of my non-musical interests, although there will still be plenty of audio talk. You can also look forward to the continuation of my podcast, "The Contrarian's Corner," as well as an ongoing account on my first out-of-state move in 15 years. That should be a good time. So swing by and say hi, k?

What else do I have to say before I sign off? Nada. See you at TEOTWAWKI.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Says Jeff Tweedy...

...In an Onion AV Club interview:

AVC: Going back to the idea of the album as an art form, it seemed that for a time, especially in the '70s, artists recording for major labels had access to the best songwriters, the top session players, and the hottest producers, and they'd put albums together with a lot of variety and overall flow. Albums were designed to make a lot of money, but artistically, they also seemed so generous.

JT: I know exactly what you're talking about. I love that type of record. Something that's been said a lot about Sky Blue Sky is that it sounds like it's from that time period, probably because that's a common ground we all have as six separate musicians, that era from around 1966 to 1974. It was part of our collective formative years.

It reminds me of how much was lost with the gains of punk rock. Punk rock messed up a lot of shit. As much as I love it and as much as it's probably the main reason I'm making records today, it really threw out a lot of stuff that wasn't so bad. It wasn't such a bad thing to have people working hard at making up songs. It wasn't all just rock-star excess, and it didn't all need to be torn down. I understand why punk was seen as a necessity then, but I don't know why there's still some sort of idea that musicianship is uncool.

AVC: We had a debate on our website recently about whether guitar solos are lame. Judging by Sky Blue Sky, you seem to be very much pro-guitar-solo.

JT: I'm pro music. Guitar solos in general aren't one way or the other. There's good ones and there's bad ones. There are reasons for them that are legitimate, and reasons that aren't legitimate. I mean, it's just some fucking dude making sound with his fucking hands. [Laughs.] I don't really see how there could be a debate. And not just guitar solos, but all solos, dating back a long, long time. It's just a way for people to express themselves with an instrument. How could I argue with it?

Man, my thoughts exactly. I'm gonna have to memorize this text in advance of my next argument about '70s guitar rock.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Critics on criticism.

A little while back, Spitting Out Teeth linked to an article on Pitchfork about the "new drug music," which, unsurprisingly, is all about the pharmaceuticals. What was surprising (to SOT and myself, after reading it), was the level of forethought in the piece. Because a lot of us have hit our saturation point with Pitchfork's incessantly bratty and self-referential tone.

Anyway, there's another interesting feature in today's edition. It's about the validity of music criticism in the internet age, a topic I've pondered extensively. Writer Tom Ewing staunchly defends the act of scribing about sound, and lists what he finds valuable in this storied but endangered art.

As someone who has actually made a living not just advocating for but applying critical insight to music, I was curious to read Ewing's opinions on the state of music writing.

I personally believe criticism is among the finest of literary crafts, with a lineage that includes such great minds as Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken and Mark Twain, to name a few. In my time as a so-called "professional," I've encountered writers who are great at reporting, but absolutely suck at criticism. So I guess it takes a certain talent. Or maybe we're all just stuck on ourselves.

Check it:

Column — Poptimist #4: What Do You Look for in Music Writing?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Almost the last post.

Well, my time here at 7D is winding down. In fact, I wrote my final column this morning.

Sorry things have been so slow on the blog front; there's just been so many attending life issues that I simply didn't have the time or energy to put anything together, however brief.

The new Music Editor is named Dan Bolles. Some of you already know him, I'm sure. He's aces.

This blog space will no doubt be reconfigured, but I'm not entirely sure what form it'll take. On Friday, I'm going to meet with our Online Editor Cathy Resmer, our Creative Director Don Eggert and our new Music Dude. There has been talk of bringing  on a couple (or few) more contributors; perhaps some of you loyal Solidstaters will be solicited. But it's all up in the air for the time being.

As Dan picks up more of my day-to-day tasks, I'll have a little more time to blog, so look for my digital farewell (well, at this locale, at least) in the coming days.

Of course, I have another blog at the ready, and you're all invited to join me there at its unveiling. Which will happen soon.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New favorite song.


I didn't go to the Monkey House to see Oak last night — too much crap to do to prepare for DC, and I didn't think I could spare the hangover. Was it awesome? Maybe they can play my going-away party. Let's have it at Greg's new house, wink.

My G5 is in the shop, and I feel naked. Luckily, I have a new favorite song to help me get through this dark period.

The band is Von Spar. They used to play electro-industrial-pop. Not no more. Lately they've been consumed by EEEE-VILLL. The new EP is called A. XAXAPOYA, and will come out via Tomlab.

Guess what? The press release compares 'em to krautrock. For once, it's not bullshit.

There are only two songs on the disc, so you need to buy it. I think it *drops* in June.

Seriously, this is what it sounds like inside my head:

Von Spar —"XAXAPOYA"

The new Music Editor has been chosen, and will be unveiled soon. It'll be a lot like that scene in The Rocky Horror Picture Show when Dr. Frankenfurter unwraps Rocky.

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