Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Young Love recording artists Quitzow and Setting Sun launch extensive U.S. tour and new albums merging classical, folk, pop and electronic rock sounds

New York State multi-instrumentalist artists Quitzow and Setting Sun launch an extensive co-headlining U.S. tour this week, showcasing songs from both bands’ new albums on Young Love Records. The two groups share more than a label and tour dates, however.
Quitzow, the namesake of songwriter singer/ multi-instrumentalist Erica Quitzow features Setting Sun songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Gary Levitt alternately adding bass, drums and vocals to its live shows. Likewise, the Levitt-led Setting Sun band includes Erica Quitzow on violin and backing vocals.

Along with this kinship, both groups share an open interest in cross-breeding musical forms, merging classical strings (violin and cello especially), folk, chamber pop and hints of early electronic rock. The results are truly refreshing. Setting Sun has been compared to Merge artists The Radar Brothers, Elliot Smith at his darkest and early Nick Drake. Check out the fantastic animated video for “No Devil Me No MoreHERE. Quitzow invites nods like “Solex meets Liz Phair” and “combining the fun of Peaches with the intelligence of Lori Anderson.” The intrigued are invited to hear for themselves during the upcoming string of dates beginng June 24th in Philadelphia. Please see complete dates below.

More about Quitzow:
“Juggling mind-blowing moog/rhodes/bass while singing,” playing Tchaikovsky in The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, and creating Fender Rhodes loops layered with MPC drums, moog bass, cellos, violins and vocals, Erica Quitzow brings a wide diversity to her records and live performances. With a self-titled debut album and an upcoming second release, Erica is involved in various musical projects exploring new influences for her inner child gone wild, neo-post electro-pop sound. The new record, Art College, out in spring 2008 on Young Love Records, is a collection of sing-along pop song collages with orchestral arrangement over hip hop, electro-clash, and downtempo beats decorated with adventurous harmonies. Instrumentation is performed primarily by Erica and includes MPC, Reason and live drums layered with Moogs and Korgs, Rhodes, Casios, classical and electric guitars, bass, cellos, violins, various percussion instruments with her alternately playful and woeful vocal style. The record was self-recorded in her upstate New York home with production and mixing assistance by band and label-mate, Gary Levitt.

Erica’s debut album, Quitzow, was self-recorded in her previous Los Angeles home and was built on the same acoustic/electronic collage elements as Art College. Again, she played most of the instruments, creating a high-drama palate, and always going for the extreme. While the use of strings in songs like “Drink-Up” sometimes conjures images of Rasputina with a similar Sabbath-style heaviness, often comparisons are elusive as in the cartoon-like playfulness of “R. Crumb.” Elsewhere, “Know Me” is complex and layered, evoking a Todd Rundgren soundscape with passionate screaming vocals reminiscent of Patti Smith.

The live performances include music from both records and ranges from solo cello/guitar and vocals to full band renditions. The upcoming national tour will be with a five piece band including cello, live and electronic drums, bass, backing vocals and percussion, with Erica on Moog, Korg, guitar and vocals.

Among the other projects Erica is involved in is playing violin, cello and singing back up for the Setting Sun live show, as well as playing drums and keyboards on the recordings. Gary Levitt, leader of Setting Sun, is her partner in running Young Love Records and plays bass and sings back up for Quitzow. The bands tour together, share various band members, and assist each other in recording. Erica sometimes plays violin for The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, working to develop the orchestrations on her recordings by studying the compositions of Tchaikovsky and Copeland, among others. She records strings on an array of projects, recently working with Tony Levin, Garth Hudson, and Malcom Burns on Sarah Perotta’s record, The Well.

Past projects include singing and playing bass in the critically acclaimed Heavy Pebble, a New York/San Francisco based experimental band that toured the west coast. More recently she played Moog, Rhodes, and bass with Jennifer Turner (of Natalie Merchant’s band) in Los Angeles indie-pop band, Inner. The first record was recorded in Nellie Hooper’s London studio (Bjork, Massive Attack.) This band toured practically nonstop for its three-year incarnation to rapidly growing audience, a positive press response and national college radio play.

Quitzow will tour the full US in June/July, and plans to tour Europe in the near future.

More about Setting Sun:
“Levitt wails with toned-down tinges of Kurt Cobain’s emptiness and Elliott Smith’s pain.” – West Coast Performer

Lovers of great songs with inventive and honest sounds can take heart. Setting Sun’s third record, Children of The Wild really delivers. This new record has (so far) been best described as “an odd atmosphere, probed by twizzling sounds, and the feeling that this is the soundtrack for the aftermath of a crash landing.” With an intimate lyrical delivery, each word is slowly tasted before being spoken and is set against driving beats, lashing cellos, soothing instrumental interludes and a rich cortege of violins, synthesizers, and homemade sounds. Amidst the layers of edgy counterpoint melody, lifting harmonies and soundscapes, the song is still the focus.

Setting Sun began in 2001 in a San Francisco apartment as some good old fashioned soul-searching by Gary Levitt where he wrote and produced their aptly titled debut CD Holed Up. Having lived and created in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Setting Sun’s sound bears the mark of them all. The grime and grit of New York, the quirky artiness of San Francisco and the lilting sunshine of LA... all are orchestrally present in the music. This third record was self-produced by Gary Levitt with many friends lending their playing skills. Most noticeable on the record are all the strings, expertly played by band and label-mate Erica Quitzow.

Recorded entirely in their 19th century Victorian house, Quitzow and Setting Sun share a home recording studio. Initially set up to record themselves, Gary soon began taking on outside clients. “I love helping other artists work on their music,” says Levitt. “If they come in with just bare-bones sketches of songs and want to expand on them, I’ll come up with ideas that add to the songs but don’t compete with them.”

Gary also plays bass and sings harmonies for Erica’s band Quitzow. A veteran of the indie music scene, Levitt started as a member of feverish NY band The Kung-Fu Grip. After four years of relentless touring, they made their way out to San Francisco where they paired down their members to a tightly focused three piece, all providing vocals for their cathartic, shock art sound. Levitt simultaneously formed Heavy Pebble with Erica Quitzow, becoming a hit in the music scene in San Francisco and touring the west coast, playing their quirky pop songs with post-modernist film collage projections to crowded houses and critical acclaim. After various line-up changes and key members leaving, both groups disbanded.

Upon having these long-term projects fall apart leaving Levitt with no material to perform, he decided his next project would be solely his own. Levitt sequestered himself in a friend’s San Francisco apartment with some borrowed gear and “two cheap microphones” to record what was to become Setting Sun’s debut, the appropriately titled Holed Up. Marked by a sense of palpable urgency, the album seamlessly fuses Levitt’s chief references—warm acoustic guitar, melodic counterpoint bent Beatles/Bowie pop, loud/quiet Pixies/Nirvana dynamics—into a catchy and inversely intimate lo-fi blend. As Holed Up was nearly finished, Levitt was invited to play guitar for Virgin recording artist Jennifer Turner. He flew to London and recorded in producer Nellee Hooper’s (Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins) studio, putting Holed Up on the shelf. The band that formed was named Inner, and the record, containing two songs written by Levitt, received critical acclaim and international airplay. After relocating to Los Angeles and touring to support the record, Levitt left the band to re-focus on his own music.

Back to Setting Sun. Young Love Records released Holed Up to many positive reviews coinciding with the group touring regularly, performing as a three piece. Levitt also embarked on two separate month-long solo tours, playing every night, often paired with daytime radio and college shows, and sleeping where he could. He eventually settled home and began writing and recording his sophomore CD Math and Magic. Curious to hear Setting Sun’s potential with outside production assistance, Levitt embarked on the recording of his second album with producer Richard Chiu. With a different approach than the solo explorations of holed up, Math and Magic is more polished, produced, and collaborative than its lo-fi experimental predecessor. The intimacy of Holed Up is not lost, but perhaps served on a cleaner plate.

Released on Young Love Records in 2005, songs “The Only One” and “Found It By Midnite” can be heard in the short film Paper Jam, which won several awards in the festival circuit including “Best Music.” Setting Sun has been getting increasing attention from the film and television industries. As more people get exposed many find the music to be a natural fit with the moving image...

Quitzow & Setting Sun On Tour:
06/24 Philly @ The Khyber
06/25 Shepherdstown, WV @ War Memorial (All Ages)
06/26 Baltimore MD @ Lo-Fi Social Club
06/27 Leonardtown, MD @ Room with a Brew (All Ages)
06/28 Greenville NC @ Spazzatorium Galleria
06/29 Johnson City, TN @ Acoustic Coffeehouse
06/30 Atlanta, GA @ Lenny’s w/ Cat Riley & nerdkween
07/02 Memphis, TN @ Murphys w/ The Warble
07/03 Tahlequah OK @ The Hallway (All Ages)
07/04 Denton, TX @ Andy’s Bar w/ Admiral David D
07/05 Tulsa OK @ Soundpony
07/06 Amarillo, TX @ The 806 w/ Wolf Cub
07/07 Albuquerque NM @ Atomic Cantina w/ Bellemah
07/08 Farmington, NM @ Totah Theatre (All Ages)
07/09 Los Angeles, CA @ Spaceland
07/10 San Francisco CA @ Rickshaw Stop
07/11 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place
07/12 Arcata @ Jambalaya w/ John Ludington
07/13 Portland OR @ Kelly’s Olympian w/ Testface
07/14 Seattle, WA @ The High Dive
07/15 Olympia, WA @ The Royal
07/16 Boise ID @ Neurolux
07/17 Salt Lake City UT @ Boing! Collective
07/18 Denver CO @ The Lions Lair w/ Princess Tiger
07/19 Omaha, NE@ Oleavers w/ Landing on The Moon
07/20 Chicago, IL @ Ronny’s w/ Dirty Diamonds
07/21 Lansing, MI @ Mac’s
07/22 Detroit MI @ Smalls
07/23 Pittsburgh, PA @ Howlers Coyote
07/24 New York, NY @ The Annex (Club NME)

Quitzow - Art College Tracklisting:
Stream The Album
Release Date: June 10th, 2008
01. Sponsor (It Didn’t Mean A Thing) (MP3)
02. On TV!
03. Peanut
04. Art College
05. Better Than Ever
06. Stay Away from John
07. Love
08. Slept In My car
09. Cats R People 2
10. Rhythm Machine
11. Unripened Fruit
12. Jackpot

Setting Sun – Children of The Wild Tracklisting:
Stream The Album
Release Date: June 10th, 2008

01. What We Wanted
02. No Devil Me No More (MP3)
03. How Long
04. Carry Me Away
05. Overjoyed
06. Slob
07. Love My Love
08. Not Waste
09. Inside My Love
10. Morning Song
11. Happy Joy

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Jet Age launches national summer tour to promote stark and dark protest album What Did You Do During the War, Daddy?

“Good songs played by a straightforward rock trio will always find their way into people's playlists, regardless of what's big at the moment. 8.0” – Pitchfork

What Did You Do During the War, Daddy? deconstructs the helplessness and anguish associated with citizens forced to sit idly by as the country spins out of control. Not bad for a band that's situated right in Bush’s backyard.” –

While preparing for an upcoming nationwide tour to promote the latest album by The Jet Age, band leader Eric Tischler was commissioned to remix the lead track for The Wedding Present’s first ever download-only single “The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend” from the band’s upcoming album El Rey. Four different versions of the song (three recorded by Steve Albini) including Tischler’s mix are now available via your favorite download stores.

A powerful album for any rock lover, The Jet Age’s What Did You Do During the War, Daddy? was conceived as the soundtrack to an imaginary musical in three acts that asks what our responsibility is, as citizens, when our government is out of control. The Jet Age is racking up the love with recent features as SPIN’s “Band of The Day”, an 8.0 rating on Pitchfork, and constant plays on KEXP, Seattle. And it’s no surprise: With the upcoming election, everyone’s attention is focused on politics. And how better to express oneself than in a three part rock musical about the dramatic failings of our political system???

See The Jet Age perform What Did You Do During the War, Daddy? in its entirety on the road this summer. See below for dates and for Tischler’s take on the album’s meaning.

The Jet Age Live:
06/25 Columbus, OH Carabar
06/27 Des Moines, IA Vaudeville Mews (All Ages)
06/28 Denver, CO Old Curtis St. Bar
06/30 Seattle, WA KEXP-FM Live On-Air
06/30 Seattle, WA The High Dive
07/01 Portland, OR The Towne Lounge
07/02 San Francisco, CA Hemlock Tavern
07/03 Los Angeles, CA The Troubadour (w/ The Constantines, Ladyhawk)
07/05 Austin, TX Mohawk
07/07 Atlanta, GA Lenny’s Bar

What Did You Do During the War, Daddy? Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE
Release Date: 02.05.08

01. Ladies, Don’t Cry Tonight
02. If I Had You Then, I’d Still Want You Now
03. Dance
04. O, Calendar (MP3)
05. Shake
06. Dumb
07. I Said, “Alright”
08. Now We Are Three
09. False Idols (MP3)
10. Maybe Love’s a Transmission
11. Ladies… (Reprise)

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Eric Tischler of The Jet Age on the band’s new album, What Did You Do During the War, Daddy? (STREAM):

There’s no easy way to put this, so here goes: What Did You Do During the War, Daddy? was conceived as the soundtrack to an imaginary musical that asks what is our (my) responsibility, as citizens, when our government is out of control. Bear with me.

While finishing 2006’s Breathless, I came up with the Stones-y riff of “If I Had You Then, I’d Still Want You Now.” Shortly thereafter, I wrote the stark, dark “Shake,” a fairly literal retelling of a nightmare I had about my son. Around the same time, I came up with the sinister funk™ of “False Idols,” (MP3) a song about martyrs, revolution, and political messaging. Although three tunes do not an album make, I was concerned about how these songs would get along on one CD. Shortly thereafter, I read Pete Townshend’s claim that he found writing was much easier when he had a “brief” to write to, and suddenly the idea of CREATING a structure for this new record immediately made sense; I realized I already had a dramatic trajectory, from the euphoric gallop of “If I Had You Then…” (a song clearly sung by a family man) to the climax of “False Idols,” in which the narrator blows himself up in order to make the world a better place for his family.

Yes, this is the tragic tale of a revolutionary American suicide bomber. It sounds crazy when I write it, and I hope the widow’s lament (“Ladies, Don't Cry Tonight”) that bookends this record makes it clear that I’m not advocating suicide bombing as a solution for anything, but drama provides a forum for discussing some dark ideas and, frankly, I really DON’T know what else I can do as a voting citizen to rectify the terrifying course our country has been set upon. As a father of two, that’s pretty fucking vexing, hence this album.

So, the story: The first act opens with “Ladies, Don't Cry Tonight,” which establishes some background (there’s a war on) and serves as foreshadowing. “If I Had You Then ...” is our introduction to the happy couple. “Dance” is about the importance of being true to -- and comfortable with -- one’s self, and is sung by the wife to the couple’s daughter. The husband, moved by this exchange, later serenades his wife with “O, Calendar” (MP3).

However, while things may be happy at home, the world outside is anything but, hence the creeping dread in Act 2, starting with the nightmare of “Shake.” The negativity grows in “Dumb,” as our hero rants about his own passivity while his government is dumbing down half of the populace while keeping the other half complacent and thus complicit in its silence. The increasing awareness of the darkening world around him-and the threat it poses to his family's future-leads our hero to align himself with a brewing underground movement in “I Said, ‘Alright.’”

In Act 3, the father has become engrossed in the plan to sacrifice himself in the opening salvo of the revolution. His inadvertent withdrawal from the family he wants to save prompts his wife to sing “Now We Are Three,” raising that ol' brain teaser: Do the ends justify the means? In “False Idols,” our protagonist does, indeed, sacrifice himself, narrating the song from beyond the grave. The driving, bombastic-grandiose(?) ”Maybe Love's a Transmission” is his (spectral) farewell to his wife, and hers to him. The record closes with a reprise of the widow’s lament but this time it’s for our protagonist’s family. Phew.

Despite my efforts to make the plot work, it was important to me that these songs would be able to stand on their own, too. The “musical” concept allowed me to write songs that spoke directly to the concerns I have without having to force myself to move the plot along incrementally; I assumed that dialog, some of which I almost recorded as interstitials, would handle some of the narrative work. So, outside the context of the record, “Maybe Love’s a Transmission” is still about losing a loved one, regardless of the cause of death. “Dumb,” I fear, is a topical rant; the first act is mostly love songs. In other words, this thing should be iPod friendly, but I want people to listen to the record front to back. Don Quixo-who?

The tunes: Yeah, my usual nods to The Who, Swervedriver, My Bloody Valentine, the New Zealand scene, etc. are all here; that’s my DNA and I’m proud of it. The range drummer Pete Nuwayser shows on this record is astonishing, from the C&W shuffle of “Ladies, Don't Cry Tonight” to the no-holds-barred chaos of “O, Calendar” to the funky strut of “False Idols”; I don't know of any drummer who covers so much ground in one band. But bass player Greg Bennett is the hero of this record. Apart from writing the music for shoegazer epic “Now We Are Three” (a riff so good we ultimately decided to just play it for three minutes), he drives these songs. Just listen to the climax of “I Said, ‘Alright’,” the turnarounds in “If I Had You Then...” the insistent throb in “O, Calendar.” The concept is mine, but the album’s power is the band’s. Regardless of whether people embrace the themes discussed herein or not, we hope and believe the appeal of the music itself is incontrovertible. Please, pass it on. – Eric Tischler, 2008.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Negativland to release new song-based album -- its first in its 28-year history -- and remain subversive as ever.

Anyone familiar with the long-running culture-jamming subversive audio collage outfit Negativland would not be surprised to hear that the band has gone and challenged itself and listeners for yet another album. However, what’s truly remarkable about its forthcoming new album Thigmotactic is that it’s the first song-based release of its 28-year history.

The band’s entertaining and challenging cut-up motif remains intact, but these are songs to which you can sing along, ponder existential notions and/or wonder just what makes these guys so prolific and dead-on clever. Thigmotactic takes another path in Negativland’s many twists and turns throughout the musical wilderness, by going deep into song making territory with a project created mostly by one member of the group.

Moving in a very different direction than other recent Negativland releases, and with a decidedly surreal bent, these eccentric toe-tapping electronic folk-pop noise songs are strung together to forma continuous and cohesive listening experience, with themes emerging around meat, pants, milk, cows, trucks, Herb Alpert, Richard Nixon (MP3), and even love.

Thigmotactic continues in Negativland’s decades long collage and cut-up tradition, but while the trademark sound of found audio elements is sparingly collaged through-out, the cutting up here is also in the lyrics, created by combining dream journals, bits of advertisements, found poems, automatic writings, stream of consciousness, old National Geographic articles, and more. The fifteen songs and two instrumentals were written, composed and performed by Negativland’s Mark Hosler, with contributions from the rest of the group, and with well-known San Francisco noisemaker Thomas Dimuzio contributing lots of rather unexpectedly normal sounding instruments, arrangements and production. The found ethic continues with the artwork that accompanies each track, created from found materials to illustrate each song. Many of these have been shown as part of Negativland’s traveling art show “Negativlandland,” and, in a creative experiment in financing this release, each one-of-a-kind work is for sale via Negativland’s web site, Negativland has always existed as an umbrella under which the group releases collaborative work in many mediums - music, noise, collage, film, design, animation, fine art, books, lectures, essays, sculpture, performance, radio, web sites, etc. - with the term “Negativland Presents” sometimes being used as a way to release work that might be mostly the product of one member’s brain, or uses members outside of the immediate collective. To learn more about Negativland’s unusual history, read their bio below.

“Norris bangs one yucca stump after another to rout out an elusive night lizard, and gives me a running resume of the genus: its smallness, its lack of eyelids, how it sheds its skin as a snake does, that it is so incredibly sedentary that one may stay under the same bush or Joshua tree for much of its entire life and, being strongly thigmotactic – needing to keep in contact with world around it – will always try to keep its back against a solid protective roof…” – Ann Zwinger, The Mysterious Lands

Thigmotactic Tracklisting:
Release Date: July 15th, 2008

01. Richard Nixon Died Today (MP3)
02. Lying On The Grass
03. Extra Sharp Pencils
04. It's Not A Critique
05. Basketball Plant
06. Two Light Bulbs Flickering
07. By Truck
08. Jack Pastrami/Flower Bum
09. Influential You
10. Virginia's Trip
11. Steam On A Whim
12. Pork In The Store
13. Perfect Little Cookies
14. Kind of Grumpy
15. Your Skin Is Gelatin
16. Omnipotent Struggle
17. Rancho Pancho

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More About Negativland:
Since 1980, the 4 or 5 or 6 floptops known as Negativland have been creating records, CDs, video, fine art, books, radio and live performance using appropriated sound, image and text. Mixing original materials and original music with things taken from corporately owned mass culture and the world around them, Negativland re-arranges these found bits and pieces to make them say and suggest things that they never intended to. In doing this kind of cultural archaeology and “culture jamming” (a term they coined way back in 1984), Negativland have been sued twice for copyright infringement.

Okay, but what, you still ask, is Negativland exactly? That’s hard to answer. Negativland definitely isn’t a “band,” though they may look like one if you see their CDs for sale in your local shopping mall. They’re more like some sort of goofy yet serious European-style artist/activist collective - an unhealthy mix of John Cage, Lenny Bruce, Pink Floyd, Bruce Connor, Firesign Theatre, Abbie Hoffman, Robert Rauschenberg, 1970’s German electronic music, old school punk rock attitude, surrealist performance art, your high school science teacher… and lot’s more.

Over the years Negativland’s “illegal” collage and appropriation based audio and visual works have touched on many things - pranks, media hoaxes, advertising, media literacy, the evolving art of collage, the bizarre banality of suburban existence, creative anti-corporate activism in a media-saturated multinational world, file sharing, intellectual property issues, wacky surrealism, evolving notions of art and ownership and law in a digital age, and artistic and humorous observations of mass media and mass culture.

While it is true that, after being sued, Negativland became more publicly involved in advocating significant reforms of our nation’s copyright laws, Negativland are artists first and activists second. All of their art and media interventions have intended to pose both serious and silly questions about the nature of sound, media, control, ownership, propaganda and perception. Their work is now referenced and taught in many college courses in the US, has been written about or cited in over 150 books (including No Logo by Naomi Klein, Media Virus by Douglas Rushkoff, many legal journals, and various biographies of the band U2), and they often lecture about their work here and in Europe. Negativland is now on the advisory board of a Washington DC based intellectual property lobbying group called

Since 1981, Negativland and an evolving cast of characters have operated “Over The Edge,” a weekly radio show on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California. “Over The Edge” continues to broadcast three hours of live, found-sound mixing every Thursday at midnight, West Coast time, with online access. In 1995 they released a 270 page book with 72-minute CD entitled Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2. This book documented their infamous four-year long legal battle over their 1991 release of an audio piece entitled “U2.” They were the subjects of Craig Baldwin’s 1995 feature documentary Sonic Outlaws and created the soundtrack and sound design for Harold Boihem’s 1997 documentary film The Ad and The Ego, an excellent in-depth look into the hidden agendas of the corporate ad world and the ways that we are affected by advertising. Their 1997 all-cola focused epic, Dispepsi, also tackled some of these same topics. In 2002, and to very mixed reaction, they unleashed the dark and noisy book/CD project Deathsentences of The Polished and Structurally Weak, which combined destroyed sounds with images of things found inside of wrecked cars in automotive wrecking yards. 2004 found Negativland working with Creative Commons to write the “Creative Commons Sampling License,” an alternative to existing copyrights that is now in widespread use by many artists, writers, musicians, film makers, and websites. In 2005, they released the elaborately packaged No Business (with CD, 15,000 word essay, and custom made whoopie cushion), and debuted “Negativlandland” - a large visual art show of over 80 piece’s of their “fine art” works, video, and home-made electronic devices, at New York City’s Gigantic Art Space.

More recently, Negativland have been touring a new performance piece called “Its’ All In Your Head FM”, a two-hour-long audio cut-up mix about monotheism, the supernatural God concept, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs. Christianity and Islam are the featured religions, as Negativland asks its audience to contemplate some complex, serious, ridiculous, and challenging ideas about human belief in a show best described as “documentary collage.” In late 2007, Negativland released Our Favorite Things, a feature length DVD collection of their many years of collaborative film work, and in 2008 they surprised themselves and everybody else by putting out a toe-tapping all-songs project called Thigmotactic.

Negativland is interested in unusual noises and images (especially ones that are found close at hand), unusual ways to restructure such things and combine them with their own music and art, and mass media transmissions which have become sources and subjects for much of their work. Negativland covets insightful humor and wackiness from anywhere, low-tech approaches whenever possible, and vital social targets of any kind. Foregoing ideological preaching, but interested in side effects, Negativland is like a subliminal cultural sampling service concerned with making art about everything we aren’t supposed to notice.

Below are some actual real big-time media quotes for Negativland that help make them sound respectable and legit:

“Declared heroic by their peers for refashioning culture into what the group considers to be more honest statements, Negativland suggests that refusing to be original, in the traditional sense, is the only way to make art that has any depth within commodity capitalism...” – New York Times

“It’s an often ignored request, but you may pay more attention to the phrase ‘Please remember to take all your belongings’ after seeing Negativland’s eerily mesmerizing new project…” – Newsweek

Negativland argues persuasively that creators should be able to appropriate bits and pieces of anything and incorporate then into their work without fear of legal action.” – Utne Reader

Negativland isn’t just some group of merry pranksters; its art is about tearing apart and reassembling found images to create new ones, in an attempt to make social, political and artistic statements. Hilarious and chilling.” – The Onion

Negativland, longtime advocates of fair use allowances for pop media collage, are perhaps America’s most skilled plunderers from the detritus of 20th century commercial culture...the band’s latest project is razor sharp, microscopically focused, terribly fun and a bit psychotic.” – Wired

“For more than 20 years, Negativland has earned renown for manipulation of both tape and media.” – Los Angeles Times

“Collage pioneers.....genre-defying, densely layered, strangely accessible...” – Washington Post

Negativland…known for their media pranks...” – Time Magazine

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Portland’s System and Station deliver a fresh pop sound on upcoming fourth full-length, A Nation of Actors, plots upcoming tour.

“Portland’s S&S are a pretty rockin’ band whose angular axwork gets puffed up into lofty billows--kinda like Sunny Day Real Estate, Built To Spill’s arena-sized moments, or The Sea and Cake on high spin.“ – Village Voice

“Like 90’s underground cult heroes Shiner and Unwound, System and Station delivers a precise, visceral version of noisy pop, full of angular guitars, rhythmic, slightly hypnotic melodies and intelligent lyrics. RFK Heise’s vocals are the compelling centerpoint, as urgent in quieter passages as they are in more climactic moments.” – Portland Tribune

“Part prog, part pop, part punk, part jazz-rock fusion, S&S seems to have hit on the perfect mixture of instrumental prowess and accessibility that made the early 70’s so much fun (and diverse). Frank Zappa would do”Follow Your Arrow” proud as the tune takes the listener on a challenging time signature changing magic carpet ride...” – Amplifier

System and Station returns with its fourth full-length A Nation of Actors (Latest Flame Records) to deliver its most solid work to date. Principle songwriter and anchor of the band, RFK Heise, introduces elements of the gentle (at times plaintive) ambiance formerly reserved for his side project Protest Hill. A Nation of Actors rides through poppier terrain that its predecessor Here Is Now, without sacrificing the angular guitar work or the two ton rhythm section.

System and Station formed as a three piece in Boise, Idaho in ‘98. Despite frequent moves to and from the West coast (though now based in Portland, OR), mainstay Heise has guided the band through three full length records, three EPs, 18 national tours and 12 breakdowns (some in -20 degree weather, some strictly mental.)

The band has performed with Marky Ramone to Shiner, Alex Chilton to Built To Spill, Jermy Enigk to Canyon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to Meat Puppets... oh and Sloppy Seconds, too.

From catchy melodic pop to disarming vocals and pensive lyrics, A Nation of Actors glistens from beginning to end.

System and Station Live:
06/13 Portland, OR @ Ash St. Saloon (RFK Heise Solo)
06/26 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
07/20 Seattle, WA @ The Sunset Tavern
07/21 Portland, OR @ Someday Lounge
08/20 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge CD Release
08/28 Los Angeles, CA @ Knitting Factory
08/30 Tucson, AZ @ Plush
09/03 Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar
09/04 Indianapolis, IN @ Melody Inn
09/05 Madison, WI @ The Frequency
09/06 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
09/09 Lincoln, NE @ Box Awesome
09/10 Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
09/11 Denver, CO @ Hi Dive
09/12 Boise, ID @ VAC
09/13 Seattle, WA @ The Sunset Tavern

A Nation of Actors Tracklisting:
Release Date: August 19th, 2008

01. The Magnetic North (MP3)
02. Sell Out
03. A Light To Lead You Home
04. On The Way
05. Rainy Days In Future Cities
06. Too Late Too Soon
07. The World Is Run By Wires
08. Pictures Found In Paragraphs
09. Out On The Wall
10. Dumb Luck
11. A Nation Of Actors

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Elementary school teacher turned electro-pop darling Cannonball Jane heads off on a summer tour, sans a notebook.

Cannonball Jane is the coolest one woman band I’ve heard in a long time. This is what Carole King would sound like if she had a sampler and was really into Francoise Hardy.” – Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre

“…one-woman New York punk-funk project Cannonball Jane lived up to the hype” – New York Magazine

Cannonball Jane purveys an inventive mishmash of hip hop beats and day-glo ‘60s pop that suggests a female Beck weaned on The Ronettes and The Raincoats.” – Time Out London

School’s out for the summer and so is Sharon Hagopian, aka Cannonball Jane - music teacher by day and underground electro-pop phenomenon by night. When she’s not teaching in her hometown of Bridgeport, CT, she’s out creating a mind-bendingly brilliant mix of hip-hop samples and sixties girl group pop. With summer vacation underway, Hagopian is taking a time-out by launching a northeast tour to promote her latest EP Knees Up!, which features a remix of the hit “Take It To Fantastic” by Adrock of Beastie Boys. Stream the EP HERE.

Sounding more like the work of a throng of music nerds (banned-from-the-academy maverick multi-instrumentalist, recently-diagnosed-schizophrenic drummer, sleeps-in-his-leather-jacket guitarist, typewriter-sampling-avant-garde keyboardist, etc.) the reality is rather different. It’s hard to believe that there's not more than one of her.

Recorded entirely at home, Hagopian’s studio set up of beatboxes, samplers, tambourines, guitars, turntables, piano, synths, various noise gadgets and effects shines through, creating an innovative retro-modern mix, elegant and sweetly beguiling but still rough enough to handle something bigger than a moped. From the Spector-soul of “Take it to Fantastic” and “The Secret Handshake” (MP3) onwards, Knees Up! combines such diverse influences as Run-DMC, The Aislers Set, Solex, The Shangri-La’s, The Go-Go’s, Luscious Jackson and Devo, while remaining fresh, exciting and original at all times.

On top of this is Sharon’s truly pleasing voice polishing off each mini pop masterpiece on Knees Up!. Hagopian has previously taken the Cannonball Jane sound out on the road with support slots for The Go! Team, Gravy Train!!!!, E.S.G. and Le Tigre. This summer she hits the road again – see below for dates.

Cannonball Jane In The Press:
“Sharon Hagopian busts out the most effortlessly funky indie-rock G-slide not on The Go! Team’s new album.” – Spin

“No wonder The Go! Team and Le Tigre are fans of this gal.” – Paste

“…thirsting for more.” – Bust

“Frothy, infectious sampledelica...dreamy doo-wop oohs and aahs with old-school breaks and could all be a musical car crash, but charm and sassy beats win the day. And to complete this mini-masterpiece's feel good credentials: by day Jane is a music teacher, Miss Hagopian, and she recorded it in her bedroom.” – The Times (UK)

“…a concise summary of her aesthetic: cartoonish hip hop breakbeats, elegant piano chords, twinkling chimes, girl group melodies and a swirl of miscellaneous musical elements that fill out every available space in her songs without weighing down their buoyant grooves. Hagopian comes across as the world's most ideal music educator -- someone endlessly enthusiastic about a wide range of music who's open both to old fashioned instruments and cut-and-paste sample-based compositions “ – Matthew Perpetua, The Associated Press

Cannonball Jane Live:
6/10 – New London, CT @ O’Neill’s Brass Rail
6/12 – New Paltz, NY @ 60 Main w/ Quitzow
6/13 – Danbury, CT @ Heirloom Arts Theatre w/ Palomar
6/14 – Brooklyn, NY @ Galapagos, NYC Popfest
6/17 – New Haven, CT @ CafĂ© Nine w/ Quitzow
6/20 – Columbus, OH @ Wholly Craft!
6/21 – Lakewood, OH @ Bela Dubby

Knees Up! Tracklisting:
Stream The EP HERE
Release Date: October 9, 2007

01. Take It To Fantastic
02. Slumber Party
03. Breaker Breaker
04. Take It To Fantastic (Smallstars Remix by Adrock)
05. The Secret Handshake (MP3)
06. Bossa Tug
07. Take It To Fantastic (DJ Downfall Smash Hit Radio Remix)

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

One man wonder band From Bubblegum To Sky creates sugary sweet pop in his new album A Soft Kill, out now.

“…a pop masterpiece…” – Reel Around The Fountain

“While he’s lining his lips with cherry lip gloss, making dope pronouncements, Hernandez’s chorus keep kids hoot–hooting, like Cats exiled on Main Street.” – Magnet

“If you like your music as sweet as candy, then you should definitely give this a listen.” – Punk Planet

“…a plateful of promise, a cool treat for the coming dog days of summer.” – San Francisco Weekly

From Bubblegum To Sky’s Mario Hernandez is back with his highly anticipated third album, A Soft Kill, out this week on LA-based Eenie Meenie Records. The label teamed up with Brown Sound Clothing for a unique approach to releasing A Soft Kill – the album is available as a digital download only or as a limited edition box set containing the album on vinyl LP, a code to access the record as a download, and a limited edition From Bubblegum To Sky t-shirt. For those who still need their music housed on plastic, the first 100 orders will receive a blank CD-R to burn the album to adorned with a one-of-a-kind hand drawn design on each by Hernandez. In addition to traditional music retail outlets, the individually numbered box sets will be for sale at select lifestyle stores throughout the nation making it a true collector’s piece.

More about From Bubblegum To Sky:

PiL, meds, disco, half Mexican, half Japanese, The SOS Band, monster guitar riffs, drinking, more drinking, The dB’s, divorce, death, arrests, cannibalism, no compromises, The Bee Gees, shimmering melodies and stalking. From Bubblegum To Sky ain’t no sunny pop affair – it just sounds like it.

By winter, A Soft Kill, the third full-length album by From Bubblegum To Sky is certain to be considered one of the greatest one-man albums of the year. Only the maturity that comes with brushing against and immersing oneself in the influences mentioned above could bring out an album that is at once ultimately catchy, realistically morose, and expertly played. In a word: fucking relatable.

The one man is Mario Hernandez and he’s been wrestling with a few demons. Hernandez’s previous records Me and Amy and the Two French Boys (Eenie Meenie, 2000) and Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen (Eenie Meenie, 2004) certainly hinted at genius – what with the confessional lyrics sung in a helium tinged voice that lights the drapes on fire meeting the hook laden crunch fest that cools ‘em down. With A Soft Kill, Hernandez has crafted a masterpiece. He demurs, stating, “This record is much more inspired – less obvious indie pop, more organic and drunk. It’s an outlet and easily my favorite record.” Ours, too.

A Soft Kill brings to mind the concept of the vices people use to kill themselves slowly. Not a murder, but a soft kill. Feelings we’ve all felt are wrapped in pristine pop melodies, sandpaper-y guitars and a vocal style dictated by the radio programs of second generation pop songs and high voiced singers that Hernandez listened to before departing Japan for America at the age of 12.

As a self-contained pop machine (occasionally joined by bassist Frank Jordan and Keyboardist Bill Evans) Hernandez does the control freak edict of Billy Corgan and Dave Grohl proud on A Soft Kill. No one should be playing drums on a From Bubblegum To Sky record but Hernandez -- this kind of urgency demands the percussive touch of the author, after all! And is he ever keeping time – 11 songs, 30 minutes. It doesn’t get any better.

“I feel like it’s a band, even though it’s just me,” he says. “The things that people are doing to me, or I’m doing to them, or whatever experiences I’m having -- that’s the band. I couldn’t write without those experiences and in a way that’s what a band member does.”

These are the words of the ONE man becoming THE man. When Mario Hernandez is letting it all hang out, you wanna hang out, too.

From Bubblegum To Sky’s A Soft Kill will be released by Eenie Meenie Records as a digital download and vinyl LP only. The vinyl configuration will come packaged with a From Bubblegum To Sky t-shirt designed exclusively by the Brown Sound Clothing Company, available online and in select lifestyle stores. Check out the company that created this exclusive offer HERE. A Soft Kill was recorded at CBS Studios in Oakland, CA on a Tascam one-inch reel-to-reel.

From Bubblegum To Sky Live:
06/13 New York, NY @ Piano’s – NYC Popfest
06/15 Washington, D.C. @ Red and Black Bar
06/19 Brooklyn, NY @ Union Hall

In The Press:
“From Bubblegum To Sky sound as if they’ve enlisted My Bloody Valentine, the London Philharmonic, The Beach Boys, and Ride to help make massively brilliant jangly noisy pop.” – First Coast News

“…what pop sounds like in my little fantasy world.” – There Stands The Glass

“…short, charming, 60’s–licked, “Beatles–esque” seducer, wispy and jangling.” – A Limerick Ox

“...A Soft Kill is chock full of the ABC’s of ice cream indie...” – Advance Copy

A Soft Kill Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE
Release Date: 06.03.08

01. The King Of Failed
02. The Flash
03. I Always Fall Apart (MP3)
04. Guest Relations (MP3)
05. Say Goodbye
06. My Je M’apelle
07. A Soft Kill
08. Even The Sunbeams (MP3)
09. Flies On A Jet Plane
10. Captain Tennille
11. Downtown Or Up?

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Obscure 80s punk collector faves Bum Kon finally releases debut album 25 years after immortal Drunken Sex Sucks EP.

Bum Kon (named after Korean mass murderer Woo Bum Kon) was one of the best punk rock bands in the early ’80s, even if few outside of its Denver home knew it. To those who were familiar – Fanatic’s own Dave Clifford for example, who witnessed the band during his very impressionable pre-teen years -- Bum Kon was the coolest, most intimidating band on the planet, gliding from a blisteringly fast style on par with legends like the Circle Jerks and MDC into equally intense sort of SST art-metal on its later pair of albums. Larry Denning, Mark Thorpe, Erik Oberhausen and Bob McDonald thrashed with more wild abandon than nearly any other band of the now well-documented early underground scene depicted in the popular documentary film American Hardcore.

In 1983, the band recorded its only single, “Drunken Sex Sucks” (released by Local Anesthetic Records and recorded by Bob Ferbrache), which sold through two pressings at the time and now fetches up to $150 on eBay. Five songs appear on the single but twenty more were recorded at the same session and have been unavailable until now. Some of the tracks that did not make the single are arguably better than the ones that did.

Shortly thereafter, the band focused its energy into two albums in an evermore intriguing mixture of Scratch Acid art-rock crossed with Voivod style tech-metal and these recordings were forgotten over the years. The original tapes were found while mastering the Local Anesthetic compilation (also recently released on the Smooch Records label) and now the best hardcore record from ’83 that was never released can finally see the light of day, a mere 25-years after its recording.

The fact that its four-song 7-inch EP on Local Anesthetic Records (the Denver label whose full catalog also recently received deluxe reissue treatment) has remained eminently collectible is testament to the frenzied power of Bum Kon. This album is co-released by MAXIMUMROCKNROLL Records and is guaranteed to please punks both old and new.

Drunken Sex Sucks Tracklisting:
Release Date: April 22nd, 2008
Stream The Album HERE

01. Giving In (MP3)
02. Drunken Sex Sucks (MP3)
03. The Draft
04. Fighting Yourself
05. Nancy Reagan Fashion Show (MP3)
06. Forced Away
07. Visions of Hate
08. I See
09. Wasted Mind
10. Slow Death
11. This Is Art
12. Old Woman
13. Questions
14. Reagan Sucks
15. Locked Away
16. Go Die
17. Signals in My Head
18. Better Than You
19. Bum Kon
20. Gay Rodeo
21. Giving In
22. This Is Art
23. Better Than You
24. Gay Rodeo
25. Visions of Hate

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