Friday, November 30, 2007

Band of the Week

Flying White Dots

When I say mashup album what do you think of? Chopped-up classic rock (i.e. The Beatles, Queen, etc) and the latest hip-hop or pop tracks laid over the top seems to be the standard of success. Maybe you are thinking of the hours spent in front of the computer screen carefully cutting and layering, matching tempos and beats. You could be thinking of Dangermouse, The Kleptons, Dj Riko, Party Ben... The mashup album is an incredibly complex collections or fluent mix of the DJ's best work, and quality examples are few and far between. However, when you have found a classic you know it immediatly.

Bryan Whellams (aka Flying White Dots) has created two classic mashup albums in his short career. His latest album, Into The Great Unknown, blends primarily atmospheric instrumentals, from bands like Plaid and Squarepusher, with well-known vocals from anyone from Elton John to Peter Gabriel to Outkast. It is remarkable how he pulls the entire album together while blending each second perfectly. In a fast-paced world, Bryan show restraint and understanding through his gracefully chilled out tracks.

Recently, Bryan took some time to answer a few of my questions on his work and the genre as a whole.

Orange Alert (OA): I've read that you have been a DJ for many years, how did get started making mashups? Who were some of the bootleggers that inspired you?
Bryan Whellams (BW): I got into bootlegs alot later than most. At first I didn't really get it, and thought stuff like "Smells Like Booty" was sacrelige. Being heavily into electro at the time led me to liking 2manydjs and through them I heard stuff like "A Stroke Of Genius" by Freelance Hellraiser which I thought was fantastic. But it wasn't until I heard "A Night At The Hip Hopera" by the Kleptones that mashups really became my thing. That album was astonishing. It turned out I knew one of them cos they lived in my home town. And we became great friends. I started making quite alot of bootlegs in late 2005, which is when I first heard of people like Go Home Productions and DJ Earworm, but it wasn't until March 2006, funnily enough when the EPs that preceded the Kleptones "24 Hours" came out, that I started trying to make original and interesting mashes that were not aimed at the dancefloor and sounded clean in production. Ever since then, I've spent way more time making mashups than listening to other people's.

OA: Into the Great Unknown is a really remarkable album. Did it start out as an album or was it put together after the fact? Where did the concept begin?
BW: It was always going to be an album, because I wanted to follow up Staring At The Sky, my first album, which I'm still very proud of, because alot of people really liked the first one because it was a journey album you could immerse yourself in and it was a grower. I've always preferred albums to singles, and the best albums have tracks on that only make sense in the context of the album. That's what I wanted to do. But whereas the first album was influenced by Dark Side Of The Moon and Sgt Pepper, I knew my newer stuff was more electronic so thought it would be a great idea to piece it all together like The KLF's Chill Out or The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld , who themselves were blatantly stealing from the Floyd. Those are the underlying ideas, but neither of my albums has a concept as such.

OA: The album is more atmospheric then most mashups, as most tend to be more dance oriented. It seems like this type of music would be harder to mix, is this the case?
BW: This type of music is much harder to mix than dance orientated stuff, because dance stuff is made to be mixed whereas alot of the source material I use is not, and most of it is live rather than beat perfect quantized. For instance, Your Poetry took a long time and a lot of editing and restretching to get Elton sounding right over the Squarepusher track. Anyone can take a house instumental and a house acapella that are in the same key and mix them together, but there's nothing exciting about it whatsoever. I'm very tired of most styles of dance music and don't hear much innovation happening in dance music, even though I used to love it passionately, which is why I prefer to work with stuff that is more interesting.

OA: What is you opinion of the current state of mashup culture in general? Has it died down recently or is it going strong?
BW: To be honest, I don't listen to many new mashups. If DJ Earworm puts out something new I'll give it a listen, but he along with many of the people who've been making tunes for a few years have slowed down their production because they're losing interest in mashups. Mark Vidler (Go Home Productions) has stopped doing mashups now, which is a real shame. I don't hear many mashups on the radio, in pubs or clubs as much as I did a few years ago. But when Eric Kleptone gets behind his laptop people go batshit. That's when it feels like it's still going strong and has some life in it yet.

OA: What do you hope to accomplish with this side of your career? Remixes, original material, artists consent and release?
BW: I've never done a remix but if I was approached by the right artist, or vice versa, I'd give it a go. Only thing is I'd probably want to use other samples which would mean getting clearance. And I'm not aware of any of the artists I've sampled having heard any of my work. Not yet anyway. It would be nice to have an official release, but only if I had 100% artistic control. For now, I'm content making beautful music out of other people's tunes.

OA: What's next for Flying White Dots?
BW: I'm working on a live set. I'd like there to be a strong visual element so I'm hoping to work with a VJ. For this I will work on some new music, and I expect some of this will make it onto my next album, but don't expect anything new for quite a while. These things take time. So if you want to hear new stuff from me, you'll have to catch one of my live sets. I'm hoping to have something good enough to take to some festivals next year.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
BW: Coffee makes me go jittery so I try to avoid it as much as possible.

OA: I've always felt that two important parts of the mash is the song title and the artwork. What is the best mashup song title you've ever heard?
BW: Making Plans For Vinyl is pretty funny.

For more information on Flying White Dots and to download his two albums please visit his website.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Writer's Corner

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

The beauty of the poem is that it can be interpreted in many different ways. So much of the interpretation depends on the readers mental state it can, at times, outweigh the poets intention. The reader brings his or her own thoughts and background to a poem much in the same way a the poet does. For example, when I first read Luis Berriozabal's chapbook "Without Peace" I saw it as the internal struggle of a woman conflict. She may have been conflicted by a choice or simply by life itself. However, I found through talking with Luis that the poem is much more literal, or at least the experience was more literal. The poem has the ability to mold itself around your current mental state, and react in such a way that allows you to see yourself somewhere in the context.

The author of "Without Peace", Luis C. Berriozabal is a writer who I have read in several different places, including through the Guerrilla Poetics Project, and always had a very high regard for. However, when I finally read "Without Peace" I contacted him that night. He is also the author of the 2004 collection " Raw Materials".

Recently Luis took some time out to answer a few of my questions on life, peace, and mental health.

Orange Alert (OA): When did your first realize that you wanted to be a poet?
Luis Berriozabal (LB): This is a good question. I’m not certain when I first wanted to be a poet. I used to write song lyrics when I was in high school, specifically for a girl I was in love with, putting in words what I felt for her. Looking back at those words they were laughable. When she broke my heart, though I blame myself for this, was when my writing improved. This was around the late 1980's. .

OA: I recently read your latest chapbook "Without Peace", and I love how it draws you in to the internal struggle. How did "Without Peace" and your working with Kendra Steiner Editions come about? Is the poem focused on good vs. evil or is it more medical then that?
LB: Doug Draime, one of my favorite poets in the small press, was largely responsible for getting Bill Shute and I together. Bill and I exchanged e-mails and Bill invited me to submit poetry for his press. Kendra Steiner Editions is one of the best presses around for chapbooks. Bill Shute does an excellent job in ensuring that poets submit strong work. He has a keen eye and produces these little gems in such a short amount of time.

“Without Peace” is a poem I had written in 2002. I submitted it to a press (never mention any names) which held the poem for 5 years. Bill was looking for 8 small poems. This poem was one I had always liked, and the longest poem I had ever written. It was 8 pages long and decided to send it to Bill. The result was my first chapbook and some welcome comments by a few fellow writers and readers. The poem is based on a female patient I had interviewed in 2002. She struggled with demons, against “good and bad voices,” but I cannot imagine a “good” voice being better than no voice at all for a person suffering from auditory hallucinations. Glenn Cooper, poet, had told me one of the lines reminded him of Vallejo. I don’t know about that. I feel as if some of the lines wrote themselves. However, I’m always reading poets from different countries, so perhaps I could have been influenced by Vallejo, Neruda, Lorca, or Dario. I would have to thank the patients I interview with much of the words in “Without Peace” and some of my other poems. Without them, I would not be able to write something like “Without Peace.”

OA: Your broadside for GPP, Enemies of the Word, is so fitting for that project and its mission. What are your thoughts on the Guerrilla Poetics Project, and on being one of the first two poets published?
LB: Enemies of the Word was influenced by Nahuatl poetry and the ancient poets of Mexico. As for it being one of the first two poets being chosen, it was pure luck. Justin cheated, I believe he stuffed the ballots.

At the time there were many good poems being considered, poetry by Hosho McCreesh, Christopher Cunningham, Glenn Cooper, Karl Koweski, Justin Barrett, Owen Roberts, Brian McGettrick, C .A. Rearick, and Michael J. Phillips, and if I’m forgetting anyone, I apologize. Without the work of Bill Roberts, printer extraordinaire, this project could not be possible.

I have positive feelings about the project and hope it continues to grow in a positive way. New members have joined to strengthen the project. New readers from all over the globe have found our poetry hidden in books and provided encouraging feedback.

OA: "Will bury what they can't sell"… Why is poetry not more marketable to the general public?
LB: Enemies of the Word was a political type poem. Politics is in everything, even in how books are marketed and sold. I don’t know why poetry is not more marketable to the general public. I don’t know how poetry can be made more marketable to the general public. I am not surprised that poetry doesn’t sell. It is my hunch that many poets don’t buy poetry books. I still have a box-and-a-half of my first poetry book, Raw Materials, in the bottom of my bookshelf. I figure more spiders have read my book than people. Perhaps we are going to have to stick small poems like commercials in other books (biographies, self-help books, best sellers) at the stores of Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. Again, we would have to do this subversively, of course.

OA: You are not the first writer that I've interviewed who works in the mental health industry. What is it about that industry that might lend itself to the writer's mentality?
LB: I was already writing poetry before I started working in mental health. However, I must admit I have found much to write about in my time working in this field. I don’t write exclusively mental health type poetry, but there is a wealth of material to work with. It doesn’t hurt to be a little mad as well to be a writer.

OA: What's next for Luis C. Berriozabal?
LB: I am looking for a publisher for my second full length book of poetry. I have been looking or better said waiting since 2004, the year my first book, Raw Materials, came out from Pygmy Forest Press (edited by Leonard Cirino).

“Keepers Of Silence,” my second chapbook from Kendra Steiner Editions will be published on December 20th. I have Bill Shute to thank for this.

Bonus Questions:

OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
LB: I don’t go to coffee spots too much. I have been to Starbucks. I prefer to drink coffee at home, or at work: Folgers (Columbian or Special Roast) with milk, no sugar, no flavored crèmes, or sometimes I'll take it black like my women.

OA: On your favorites list on Laura Hird, you list The Smiths (Who have been at the top of my list for quite sometime.) Who are some of your other favorites? Does music ever influence your writing?
LB: Yes, I was a big Smiths fan back in the day. I’m also a huge fan of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker (David Lowery is the lead singer for both bands). I listen to all kinds of music, from Miles Davis to the Clash, from the Beatles to Nirvana, etc.

Music influences my writing at times. However, I find myself writing at odd hours of the day, sometimes I sneak in a poem at work, amongst the chatter, radios blaring, and ringing telephones at the office. Sometimes I prefer complete silence, so I can concentrate on the poem I am working on.

For more of Luis' work you can go here, and also keep an eye out for his latest chapbook here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Artist of the Week

Kristin Komar
When I set out to find a piece of art that is appealing to me, an untrained observer with no background in art, I look at two things. First and foremost is color, I enjoy both bright and brilliant along with deep and rustic. The second aspect that I love is the title of the piece. I have come to find out that many artists do not enjoy titling or try to give very unassuming titles, but the most creative, or perhaps adventurous, choose to have fun with the titles. They know the a piece will stand on it's own, but a clever title can either add a smile or an extra glance if properly placed.

One artist who's titles and colors I've admired for quite sometime is Chicago-based artist Kristin Komar. She utilizes the most amazing colors and shapes, and works diligently to arrange them in such an appealing way. Her work is layered to give it a visible texture that works to highlight the colors. She then gives her pieces names that are unusual yet somehow fitting and always intriguing.

Recently, Kristin was kind enough to answer a few my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Kristin Komar (KK): Why are the simplest questions always the most difficult to answer? My abstract work investigates color and spatial relationships. My creative process is very intuitive. I may start a painting in one color palette and end up with a completely different one because I try to listen to where the painting wants to go.

OA: Do you have a set color palette that you work from? Do you ever consider what emotions different color and combinations of colors may convey to the viewer of your painting?
KK: I don't have a "set" color palette, but there are colors and color combinations that I'm instinctively drawn to. There's no doubt that different color palettes convey a mood to the viewer which I definitely consider when I'm painting.

OA: One aspect of your work that has always fascinated me is your creative titles like, "March of the Tomorrows", "It's Okay to Swirl & Shine", "Fuzz Opera" and so on. How important to your pieces are the titles and how do you general find a name for a piece?

KK: Music is such an integral part of my creative process. I'm incessantly listening to music as I work and I often "find" the titles to my paintings from the phrases in songs. However, those particular three titles that you cited actually came to me from just living with the pieces...

OA: Your recent resin on wood panel series is quite interesting, It seems as though you are branching out a bit beyond the oval shapes. What was the inspiration behind the “Physics Makes Us Solid” series?
KK: I started working with the resin panels just this year and there's been a strong response to them. The idea came for them when I read a Call for Artists which was looking for miniatures for the show. I had always been interested in working with resin ever since I worked at an art supply store years ago. I usually work in oil paint on stretched canvas, which is a completely different process and look. I enjoy working with acrylic paint and then layering the resin between the paint to give the piece spatial depth. The immediacy of the acrylic paint has also allowed me to experiment with different shapes and forms. However, I'll always continue to paint in oil. The two polar approaches/processes somehow keep me engaged and sane.

OA: In your artist statement, you express a need for organization in painting. In what way does painting “indulge that compulsion”?
KK: It's all about the composition, baby!

OA: I know you have collaborated with your friend and fellow Chicago Artist Kim Frieders. What your thoughts on the scene in general?
KK: First, let me just say that I am a huge fan of collaborations. I intend to do a lot more and have 2 other collaborative projects in the works.It's a way to learn and to teach without being in a classroom setting.Whether the work is a success or not, I always learn something from the process and I'm hopefully able to teach something as well.

For some reason "art scene" always makes me cringe...However, I find it very exciting that there's a plethora of art collectives popping up allover Chicago. Most of my friends are artists and in 2001 I co-founded an art collective called "Art Bitch." There are 5 members (or Bitches, as we like to call ourselves) and we meet once a month to critique each other's new work. We try to be brutally honest with each other but in a constructive way. We also discuss art opportunities and put on art shows.I just hosted/curated an "Art Bitch" art & music show this past September.It's very empowering not to need a gallery to do these things. It's so important for emerging artists to join together and create their own art community for support. Painting can be such an isolated, solitary act.It's much more fun when artists with like minds can get together to inspire and help each other's work develop to the next level. That's why I enjoy doing the collaborations so much. It's like we're in a rock band!But less noisy and without all those heavy instruments to lug around.

OA: What’s next for Kristin Komar?
KK: Good question! Yes, what IS next? I'd like to know myself! I'm currently working on a few painting commissions, but after that I think I'll just continue to make my artwork and stay true to myself in whatever direction it takes me.

Bonus Questions:

OA: Coffee? If yes, where is your favorite coffee spot and what is your favorite type of coffee?
KK: Absolutely! "A day without coffee is like a day without coffee". "Star Lounge" on Chicago Ave. I'm a big Mocha fan...

OA: Do you listen to music while you paint? If so, what is your favorite of music while painting or in general.
KK: Music is a huge part of my creative process. I can't imagine painting without it. The albums in "hot rotation" at my studio are:

Of Montreal "Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?"
PJ Harvey "White Chalk"
Radiohead "In Rainbows"
I also love to make mix CD's for my friends and for myself to listen to in my studio.

For more information on Kristin Komar please visit her website.

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Release Tuesday

Through The Wilderness: A Tribute To Madonna - Buy the CD and 25% of all sales will go directly to help build a school and care center in Malawi for childen living with HIV/AIDS. Listen to: Golden Animals - "Beautiful Stranger" (mp3)

Cunninlynguists - Dirty Acres

Monday Morning Mix

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, instead of giving of thanks with the family I was in bed with the flu. So please forgive the sparse posts lately, and the grim nature of this week's mix. So if you have had enough of the holiday cheer already, and are in the market for a little dark folk with some curve balls mixed in download "A Dire Need" (zip).

Artwork: "A Dire Need" by Mike Maxwell

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Orange Alert's Music Minute

It was back in August that I featured an incredible husband and wife band from Wisconsin. At the time they only had a three song ep that they were passing out for free a their local shows. Now the band has some new material to record in hopes of releasing a full-length album, but they need a little help. They have added 2 songs to their homemade ep and are selling them here for $5.50, in hopes of raising enough money to pay for the studio time. Listen to: Eulogy (mp3)

I'm not sure how I missed the release of her debut album back in September, but I want to make sure that no one else misses it. Orion sings dark folk tales filled with death and mystery. Hers was the first release on the new sub-label of Chicago's Drag City called Language of the Stone. The album is called, "What I Want From You Is Secret" and it will be one of my top 50 this year. Listen to: Fake Yer Death (mp3)

What's happened to Christmas? There used to be a time when it was celebrated in true style and everyone from James Brown, Bing Crosby (!) and Phil Spector released cracking albums full of funky festive tunes. Now what do you get but compilations full of turkeys that should've have popped their clogs years ago with titles like 'The Best Christmas Album In The World Ever'.Well now Arctic Circle has teamed up LOAF records to present "That Fuzzy Feeling" a collection of mostly original Christmas songs and carols. Fifteen tracks from a variety of artists and labels each with a new take on the traditional Christmas hymn. The result is just what you need to rekindle those warm 'fuzzy feelings' that Christmas used to be all about. The release will be available for sale in two formats. The first, a lush limited edition (100 copies) handmade box from much in demand designers Pika Pika (responsible for the eye-catching artwork for all Arctic Circle Events). The other, a snowy-white digipak which will be available in a limited run of 500 copies.

Invisible Superstars is a compilation of exclusive beats and experimental sound compositions compiled by Controller 7 (a legendary producer in his own right who has also worked with Sole, Deep Puddle Dynamics, etc.) and The Secret Life of Sound label head R-Rock (who also records for TSLOS under his rhyme alias Kaptain Nemo, as Mormon Freegan and with Remote Control Frequencies). The compilation features tracks by Controller 7, Scott Matelic, Miles Tillman, PNS of Molemen Inc., Buddy Peace, Corsic, Skoweyajeed, Meatsock, Thomas Dimuzio, Tenshun, and Mormon Freegan. “The goal of Invisible Superstars,” comments R-Rock,“was to create a diverse collection of songs where all of the artists use non-traditional means of composition, whether it be sampling or found sound composition or analog tone generation. This is a beautiful compilation, that you can stream here.

The Peel Back: The Dead Milkmen "Bucky Fellini" (1987)

One of the greatest band names of all-time, The Dead Milkmen, have long been known for incorporating both humor and musical ability to create albums that are quite entertaining. The first song that caught my ear from the Milkmen was a song that is completely different from anything else they have recorded. It was parody aimed at all of the new wave bands playing dance music. The Milkmen felt that the audience for dance music would dance to anything, and they were right. The song did not became a major hit, but it was released as a single and lead to more success on following albums.

Bucky Fellini (1987)
The Pit/Take Me to the Specialist/I am the Walrus (mp3)/Watching Scotty Die/Going to Graceland/Big Time Operator/Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance to Anything) (mp3)/The Badger Song/Tacoland (mp3)/City of Mud/Rocketship/Nitro Burning Funny Cars/Surfin’ Cow/(Theme from) Blood Orgy of the Atomic Fern/Jellyfish Heaven

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Watch List


1. Danger & The Steel Cut Oats - Angelic folk music from Nashville, TN, or as a friend of the band put it, "It's civil war era inspired catchy depressing folk". Listen to: Call Us Home (mp3)
2. Pash - Friends from college, singing catchy '90s era alternative anthems. Listen to: The Best Gun (mp3)

1. "Look Ma No Hands" by Edward Cowan
2. "Inshallah" by J.M. Patrick - For those who feel lost sometimes.
3. "The Re-education Camp" by Aiden O'Reilly

1. Bandito Issue #1 - Great new free arts zine.
2. Five to Nine Issue #7 - Any issue of any mag called "Coffee & TV" is the issue for me.

1. The Greatest moments of the Greatest NBA Player of All-time, Reggie Miller.
2. A look at things to come: LoveLikeFire

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This morning, while you enjoy a nice bowl of Nerds Cereal, watch this video from The Somnambulants.

Take it On

Friday, November 23, 2007

Band of the Week

Yea Big + Kid Static

"The Sound from the Underground Reboots the Nation!"

They are calling his sound glitch-hop, but just because Stefen Robinson (aka Yea Big) has the ability to add an abundance of beeps and blips does not make his music purely glitch-hop. There is so much more to his beats then just chopped sounds and noises. There are definitely elements of old school beats and rhythms mixed in with his complex layers of samples. In fact, the sounds on their debut self-titled album range for tribal influenced drums to straight old school beats to futuristic knob twists and bass swirls to micro sound samples. Yea Big is the mad track runner pushing the buttons, creating the tracks, and rebooting the nation.

However, lets not forget the other half of this tag team, Moses Harris Jr (aka Kid Static) formerly of Cankles. Static, just like Yea Big, can switch mid-track between an old school flow and a fast-paced choppy electro flow. He matches Yea Big's beats at every turn, but never loses sight of what he wants to say. He writes honest verse about real life situations and struggles, but also maintains the element of humor that has been lacking in mainstream hip-hop for many years. Static simply delivers!

In a year where Kayne thought he was battling 50 cent for best hip hop album of the year, Chicago's Yea Big + Kid Static stepped up beat them both down.

Recently, Yea Big was kind enough to answer a few of my questions on beats, Hank Hofler, and wristbands.

Orange Alert (OA): You are unique, in that you seem to effortlessly blend the beats and styles of the past with new electronic sounds. When creating beats where do you typically begin?
Yea Big (YB): I almost always start by assembling a palette of sounds I think will fit together well; different kicks, snares, short noises, etc. I can't put the puzzle together until I find all the pieces.

OA: Who would you say are some of your biggest influences musically?
YB: Oh man, there are way too many, but I think I've been most influenced by people I've worked with directly and my friends I grew up playing music with. Static, Brad Breeck (Mae-Shi), Jane and Hank (Oh Astro), Aaron Paolucci and Matthew Smith (two of my former professors), Ed, Greg, Zack and all of the K-Thrillas. But also Jim O'Rourke, John Hartford, Zappa, Phish, Ravi Shankar, and a few specific records, DJ Shadow's Endtroducing, Refused's The Shape Of Punk To Come, Miles Davis' In A Silent Way... I could probably go on about influences for hours.

The Life Here (mp3)

OA: 'The odd man out is always in' is a great saying. Can you talk about what brought you together with Kid Static? Does this saying also apply to your music as well?
YB: Yeah, I really love that line! I guess I would attribute Static and I's coming together to luck. He's great to work with and he's an all-round awesome guy. I don't know if this saying applies specifically to our music, but it does most definitely apply to our goal of getting our music out to every type of crowd and demographic we possibly can. I want to make hip hop that people who aren't necessarily a part of the hip hop community will also feel welcomed to enjoy. I would say the same thing if I were still in a blue grass band, or a rock band, or making music of any genre. To me its all the same.

OA: I really enjoyed your contribution to Oh Astro's recent release, and was glad to see Hank Hofler on your album as well. What was he able to bring to this project?
YB: Thanks. Yeah, the new Oh Astro record is so great! I'm stoked to be a small part of it. Hank has been a huge mentor to me for several years. He has a unique sound that he achieves with his music that I haven't heard from anyone else, its impossible for me to describe it without a series of mouth contortions and shoulder jerks (which don't translate well through text). I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to go with the beat for the song that became "Repairs Are Needed," and I knew Hank would hit it dead on. It also made for good transitional noise.

OA: It seems like underground hip hop has begun to vibrate in the streets of Chicago, what is your opinion of the current music scene in Chicago?
YB: I honestly don't really ever pay much attention to regional music scenes. Good music has to come from somewhere, Chicago is as good a place as any.

OA: What is next for Yea Big?
YB: Ahhh. What's next. That question is haunting. Static and I are always working on new material. We're plotting and scheming for 2008. New recordings, more touring, big fun. As for solo Yea Big stuff... I want to meld my production style with my love of old-timey music. It'll happen. I hope sooner than later. And myself and my friend, Andrea C., started a project that I've been neglecting, called Secretary. I really want that to come to fruition some day.

Bonus Questions:

OA: When performing vinyl or laptop?
YB: Laptop. I didn't even own a record player until my girlfriend bought me one for my last birthday.

OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
YB: Oh shit yes!!! Coffee is my favorite nutrimental indulgence. The brand currently brewed in my kitchen is a certain corporate chain's Sumatra Blend. My favorite coffee spot is a place I used to go to everyday when I was in college in Normal, Illinois, called Latte Time Coffee. Their "House Latte" is one of a kind.

OA: You not only have a unique style musically, but you have also crafted a unique wardrobe as well. What's with the wristbands and short shorts?
YB: Haha! I don't know man. It started as what I would wear whenever I did a dance-off with someone. Then it just sort of became my Yea Big uniform. It helps me get into character.

The Screaming Starts At Sundown/We've Built a Time Machine That Runs on Beats. We Shall Only Use It For Good./Static Leads the Coup/Transmission Ended/Joining Forces/Speak the Facts/Low Budget Battle Scene/The Basement/Efant Terrible/On the Blink (mp3)/Repairs Are Needed/Duck, Mother F**kers! (mp3)/Revel In the Aftermath/The Life Here (mp3)/Things Have To Change, Pete./Why the F**k Does This Keep Happening?/Back Into the Sleeve

For more information on Yea Big + Kid Static check out their websites, and to order your copy of the best hip-hop album of the year go here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Writer's Corner

Bill Shute

On this a day of giving thanks and reflecting on the events and people that we have been grateful for this past year, I felt there would be no better time to feature the poet, publisher, all-around champion of the small press, San Antonio's Bill Shute. Getting his start in the D.I.Y/punk scene of the late seventies, Bill has always had affection towards the small press, the underground voice, and the overlooked. In reaction to the issues he faced getting his first book of poetry published back in 2005, Bill decided to print his subsequent releases himself. He called his publications Kendra Steiner Editions, and began to print small chapbooks in limited quantities. Over the next two years, Bill would go on to produce 80 chapbooks from writers such as Luis C. Berriozabal, Christopher Cunningham, Stuart Crutchfield, Doug Draime, Misti Rainwater-Lites, and many more.

Besides publishing, Bill has also been feverishly writing his own books. Back in February, he released his second book of poetry, Point Loma Purple (The Life and Work of Katherine Tingley) from Word Mechanics. He has also released several of his own smaller works through Kendra Steiner Editions, but that does not seem to be his primary focus with KSE. The focus is to give a voice to the underground by releasing their best work possible. It is not simply about releasing a chapbook with their name on it, the work must be focused, concise, and of a certain quality to be considered for release. It is this focus and Bill’s determination that will continue to drive KSE forward and allow them to find new exciting young poets.

Recently, Bill was kind enough to answer a few of my questions regarding KSE and his writing in general.

Orange Alert (OA): How did Kendra Steiner Editions come into existence?
Bill Shute (BS):
When I finished my book-length poem Twelve Gates to the City: The Labours of Hercules in the Lone Star State in early 2005, the process of finding outlets for it, securing a publisher, and getting the book printed (it was made on 200-year-old letterpress equipment) took about 12 months. In March 2006, I wrote a small suite of poems called “Four Texas Streams,” which I planned to present and distribute at the readings promoting Twelve Gates. Part of its content dealt with vote fraud in a local congressional election, and I wanted to get the word out quickly while the issue was still fresh. To get physical copies of the poem into people’s hands, I had to print it up myself on my $89 Dell printer. I tried to make it eye-catching, but since I had limited resources at hand, I decided to go for a deliberately primitive and Warhol-esque look and feel. That was the first KSE “chapbook.”
I then learned that the cutting-edge music/arts store Volcanic Tongue, in Scotland, had been selling old magazines from the 80’s and 90’s that I had pieces in, and VT expressed an interest in distributing my new products. So I had local interest in San Antonio, distribution in the UK, and a circle of poet/artist friends in both North America and Europe who wanted copies. That inspired me to continue. The influence of my fellow Texan, the Houston-based music-and-arts pioneer Jandek, was very important too. His label, Corwood Industries, has a deliberately primitive yet beautiful aesthetic in the presentation of his albums, and he is prolific and resolute in following his own vision. Also, he is simultaneously completely straightforward about his art yet playfully cryptic. I like that combination. The difference between Corwood and KSE, though, is that I started bringing other poets into the mix, releasing collaborations and solo works of others.
The first other poet I brought onboard was Stuart Crutchfield, a young Glaswegian who had bought some of my chapbooks at VT and whose first book I had purchased with my VT store credit. Stuart has now done four solo chapbooks and four collaborative chapbooks for KSE. Kendra Steiner Editions has continued to grow until now we’ve got 18 poets on our team and we’ve issued 80 chapbooks in just under two years.
By the way, Kendra is my daughter, a high-school senior, who is my partner in this project.

OA: It seems as though your D.I.Y. punk aesthetics play a significant role in the end product at Kendra Steiner Editions. How does your extensive background in zines factor into your life as publisher and poet?
BS: In so many ways. The D.I.Y./punk aesthetic was about bypassing the established order in terms of production and distribution of product, about hand-made artifacts that came from real people, not from committees and corporations and arts organizations. Xeroxed fanzines with cut-up graphics; record covers made from found sources and assembled in people’s living rooms and basements; taking the cultural products of the past and re-contextualizing them and vomiting them back up in a William Burroughs-ish cut-up form. I remember using a toothbrush to splatter ink on an album cover I designed, using randomly-cut pieces from old kitschy catalogs, making Xeroxes of Xeroxes of Xeroxes to get a certain blurred psychedelic/industrial ambience.
That’s where I come from aesthetically and Kendra Steiner product reflects that aesthetic. I sometimes get condescending e-mails from people who ask me why we don’t move into a more “professional” format in our chapbooks, assuming that we don’t know how to do that and we’re just chomping at the bit to become more mainstream and to get more coverage in the so-called alternative media. I’ve worked in journalism; I’ve edited books for publishers; I have two “professional” books of poetry; my job requires me to use computer graphics. I know how to do that if that’s what I wanted to do. We want a product homemade in a technically primitive manner. The aesthetic presentation of the chapbooks is part of the total package, as important as the poetry enclosed. It’s like the great Oregon-based punk/psychedelic rocker Fred Cole and his longtime band Dead Moon. Fred recorded for a major label in the late 1960’s; he appeared in a Hollywood movie. He would know how slick product is made, but he has chosen for three decades to issue mono/lo-fi recordings in a primitive punk-rooted aesthetic. That’s his artistic choice. And our format is our artistic choice.
I’m also influenced by those artistic movements that influenced punk, such as Fluxus. In fact, our early releases, which were mostly traded with other poets and artists and not sold (except by VT ), could be seen as an extension of the “mail art” movement. By the way, we’re starting a small reprint series, in editions of 18 copies, of some of those early long-out-of-print chapbooks. We’ll be putting out one a month for the next year.
Of course, I must credit d.a. levy and his mimeograph publishing activities and the small presses of the Beat and New York School poets. When I was growing up in the 70’s, one could still find those original books and chapbooks and broadsides buried in the back of used bookstores, untouched for ten years, for next to nothing. As I was learning about poetics and forming my own aesthetic, the Beat and Fluxus and psychedelic poets and artists of the 60’s were my heroes and models. They still are.
With the internet and cheap home-publishing set-ups, we’ve gone beyond the mimeograph and Xerox age. In true Fluxus and D.I.Y. fashion, ANYONE can now imagine something and then bring it into multi-dimensional reality with equipment and materials found in most homes...or the home of a friend! Anyone can now bypass the smug gatekeepers of “alternative culture,” and everyone should!

OA: How was the decision made regarding the length and print run of your chapbooks?
BS: Edition size of KSE chapbooks has ranged from 15 to 90 copies, most between 40 and 75. I try to estimate how many copies we can distribute in three months. KSE is like the small record labels of the 50’s or 60’s, which would lease one of their records to a larger label if the record began to break out regionally. After our small printings sell out, the authors are encouraged to place the works elsewhere or post them on online poetry websites or include them in book-length collections. We get out a small edition quickly to a devoted audience of readers who want it, and then we move on to the next project. Our strength is the ability to work quickly, efficiently, and cheaply, getting the work out there, a distinctive-looking product that commands attention before one even looks inside. The poetry should then speak for itself.

OA: I really enjoy the concept behind the "Next Exit" series. How did that series come about? Wouldn't it be remarkable if when it is all said and done you have a poem published about every state in the nation?
BS: Thanks. I’ve always appreciated poems with a strong sense of place. Poets who have written of New York-- Hart Crane, Paul Blackburn, Charles Reznikoff, Stefan Brecht--often do a great job getting me to feel and smell and taste and see and hear the details of their city. In my Twelve Gates, I set each of my modern “labours” in a different town, pretty much across the I-10 corridor, from Las Cruces, New Mexico, through Texas, and ending up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I wanted readers to experience the texture of these places, to feel the reality of the places. The Next Exit series was an extension of that (of course, I’ve lived for almost twenty years in a great and culturally rich city, San Antonio, Texas, which always inspires me to write place-specific poetry).
The first Next Exit book featured work by me and by West Coast poet Doug Draime, whose work I have been reading since the 1970’s and who was and is one of my poetic heroes. The “title” of each poem was the town and state, and the poems would be one page each, but the poet had the freedom within those parameters to do what he wanted. I think I also asked Doug to set them in at least two different states, but other than that, he was free. Since then Thomas Michael McDade, Misti Rainwater-Lites, Zachary C. Bush, Brad Kohler, and Christopher Cunningham have joined the series, and we’re taking it out of the USA in the next two volumes, with K. M. Dersley and Adrian Manning doing an all-England edition, and Stuart Crutchfield doing an all-Scotland edition. Although there have been variations in the series (we’re at six volumes as of today), the basic concept was to juxtapose the work of two different poets in each volume. Counterpoint is a concept I use in all my own writings and which I also use as an editor of others’ writings. I encourage the poets to have stylistic diversity in the pieces they write for each NE volume, and I put a lot of effort into programming the poems in what I think is the most stimulating and the most expansive order. I like the fact that many readers who know the other works of the authors in the Next Exit series sometimes can’t tell which poems belong to which poet.
We won’t get to every state with the series--we’ll probably cap the series at ten volumes while the concept is still fresh and people have not tired of it. The last volume will consist of me (my wife, Mary Anne, suggested that since I started the series, I should end it too) and Misti Rainwater-Lites (because no one could possibly follow Misti!). After volume nine, I’ll contact Misti, and we’ll do a final volume together.

OA: As a poet, your work seems to focus a lot on form. Your words weave and jump around the page like children of various ages, some take small steps and some take large leaps. Why aren't your words aligned left, straight and narrow, why are they left to roam the entire spectrum of the page?
BS: The form of each piece is different, in the service of the experience I want the reader to have. I do sometimes use a traditional left-hand margin. Some of my pieces play on the assumptions of the sonnet form in terms of the octave and sestet representing proposition and resolution, respectively. I even published a chapbook of blank verse Petrarchan sonnets in 2006, called “Sonnets For Bill Doggett”, which will eventually be part of the reprint series. But you’re correct, most of my pieces use space and use the entire page as a canvas. My two foundations in terms of poetic structure are probably later William Carlos Williams (with his three-part “stairstep” line...many of my pieces extend and redefine that concept) and Paul Blackburn (his use of spacing and word placement). Blackburn is, overall, the poet most influential on my work. If you check out his 600+ page Collected Poems, you’ll find an incredible diversity of forms (of course, that’s also true of W. C. Williams’ Paterson, another book very influential on me)--it could be a life-long textbook on the possibilities of poetic form. The spacing in my poems--like an actor’s script marked for pauses or sheet music containing measures of rests--controls the reading experience. I’m in no rush with my poems. I present a phrase, a cluster of words, and then I may punctuate it with space or silence. The poetry of Frank Samperi or the late 1960’s Robert Creeley in such works as Words and Pieces would be good places to start for someone wanting to investigate that aspect of poetry. My favorite jazz pianist, Paul Bley, uses a lot of space and silence in his work--he will suspend a note cluster and let it reverberate and let it fade. When I do poetry readings and I try to prepare the audience, I usually talk about montage sequences in films and how they present a series of images that may not have any kind of traditional plot development or chronology, but through their contrast and the composite image they leave in the mind, they communicate complex feelings/ideas and suggest far more than they state. Much of my audience at readings is often people who aren’t regular poetry readers, but they all watch films and they all understand how an ensemble piece with ten subplots works, and they all understand montage sequences.
With Kendra Steiner Editions and the format that we use, I tend to compose multi-poem suites that fit on five or six pages. Structural forms such as the triptych or the fugue give me concepts that I then try to apply to poetry. During the summer of 2007 I wrote a number of pieces that were influenced by the visual arts, by painters such as Bacon and Tapies and Hockney and Malevich. I would try to understand how their works were constructed, the principles behind the making of their works, and in my own way I would try to find ways of bringing those principles to poetry. The painter Malevich went through a period where he had no representation of objects in his work--I created a sequence of poems called “Objectless” where I used no nouns or pronouns and did no naming--I used prepositions and participles and adverbs and had no “objects” in that work, yet I feel that I created tension, setting, dramatic movement, rising action, and even a kind of resolution at the end. The possibilities in poetry are endless. I don’t limit myself by having all my poems use the left margin as my base any more than I have one type of content or one poetic voice or one poetic form.
Kendra Steiner Editions has published 26 chapbooks in what we call the “sound library series,” where the poems are rooted in and grow out of particular musical pieces. We have started a series devoted to poetic re-imaginings of z-grade art brut cinema, beginning with Barry Mahon’s cold-war minimalist epic Rocket Attack USA. There is the series of poems rooted in the visual arts that I mentioned earlier. We’ve put out about ten chaps that use images integrated into the text as part of the poetic experience. We’ve done dual-column poems and both horizontal and vertical format chaps. I sometimes use a poetic stanza where the first line will start, say, twenty-five spaces to the right of the left margin, and each line after that will come in five spaces until the final line of the stanza reaches the left margin, to create a kind of resistance to traditional flow, a kind of poetic drag. All of the poets here try to take chances and to figure out for ourselves the solutions to artistic problem-situations we put ourselves into. There are no MFA poets among our ranks. We are not controlled by French literary theory. We are not products of lowest-common-denominator writing workshops. We are not at war with any other poetic movements. Personally, I wish only the best for anyone writing any kind of poetry. When I go into an independent record store in a major city, I may not buy anything from the Bluegrass or Afro-pop section, but I’m glad it’s there to provide a fix for the people who get their artistic sustenance from it. The more poets working, the better as far as I’m concerned. We play our small role from San Antonio in that big picture. Others can be the judge of how significant or worthwhile we are.

OA: What's next for Bill Shute?
BS: For KSE, we’ll continue issuing at least two chapbooks per month through mid-2008. Among the poets joining us in the next few months are Michael Layne Heath, from San Francisco, and Glenn W. Cooper, from Tamworth, Australia--also, Doug Draime and Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal (KEEPERS OF SILENCE (KSE #82), December 20th) and Stuart Crutchfield will be back with new chapbooks.
As for myself, I’ve been doing research and making notes for two years on a 25-part book-length poem called Self Storage, which I’ll describe as a post-modern, Texas-based answer to Spoon River Anthology.
With KSE taking off as it has, keeping me busy as both editor/publisher and as writer of my own chapbooks, I’ve put that project on the back burner, but I want to get back to it in 2008. I’ve done collaborative works with five different poets in 2006/2007, some of whom like Zachary and Stuart are half my age, and I’d like to continue collaborative work. There isn’t enough of it in poetry. I did a collaboration with Zachary C. Bush last month called “Intervals,” and that was an exciting experience, an improvisational creation where we set up the parameters and poetic structures, determined some key images and phrases, and then jammed as if we were competing jazz musicians at some after-hours cutting contest. I also love publishing poets such as Doug and Luis and Misti and Stuart and K.M. Dersley. Reading their writings is exciting and rewarding, and I feel privileged to work with them in helping them achieve their vision in these small books of ours. I do all the editing, formatting, and artwork in consultation with them, and when they are happy with their chapbooks, I feel as though I have been midwife to the birth of a wonderful child. Even though we may print only 40 copies of something, that feeling, and holding the actual product in my hand, makes it all worthwhile.
Abbie Hoffman wrote in Steal This Book that “freedom of the press belongs to those that own the distribution system.” The struggle against that power continues, and will continue as the “alternative” continues to get co-opted by the now-highly-segmented mainstream and by academia.
The best way to see where KSE is coming from or see what chapbooks we have presently available is to check out the blog, located at . And we always offer any three chapbooks for $10, postpaid in North America.

Bill also has copies of his two books, TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY ($8) and POINT LOMA PURPLE ($10) available upon request.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Artist of the Week

Brian Dettmer

One of the primary goals of this website is to bring together the various arts, literature, art, and music, into one central location in hopes of shining a light on the under appreciated, paying homage to the greats of the past, and hopefully touching of everything in between. I hope the site can be a meeting place, where an artists can discover their new favorite writer, or a writer find inspiration in a new painting or song. Sharing your creative output is such an intimate experience, and hopefully this site serves in some way to make that experience more pleasing.

One artist who is literally combining all three genres of art in his work is, Chicago native and Atlanta resident, Brian Dettmer. Brian utilizes existing books, cassette tapes, and video tapes to create completely new works of art. When dealing with books, Brian cuts into the pages revealing fragmented images and words, and in turn restores value to books that had otherwise been tossed away and forgotten. Forgotten much like the cassette tape that for Brian now become a build blocks to creating a skull. He melts and shapes these tapes into the desired and therefore finding use for these relics.

Recently, Brian was kind enough to answer a few of our question on his process and his work in general.

Orange Alert (OA): I imagine your current work is a result of many different phases and experiments, but when and why did you first start working with books?
Brian Dettmer (BD): When I was in College I was working with language systems and codes, mainly through large paintings that would appear abstract but contain coded messages. After college I began building textured paintings with newspapers and then eventually book pages. I liked the idea that a painting could actually contain information that had been reduced to more universal experiences of field and texture. As I began to use books, I would rip pages out, feeling somewhat guilty when I would have the discarded crust of a book spine left over. I began to look at the book itself as a material to investigate and would seal them up and carve holes and shapes into them. One day I can across a landscape and decided to carve around it, then a figure emerged below and I kept going, kept excavating.

OA: Is the content of the book pertinent to overall meaning of the piece?
BD: Yes, of course the book already contains meaning in its content which shifts when exposed in small components or new relationships. I always think of the books content and how it relates to my process. For example, when I work with an anatomy book, I think of the book as a body and of my process as a dissection; when I work with a science or anthropology book, I think about excavation: if its a history book I think about memory and the way history is told and the way it can be redefined.

OA: Is there meaning in the words that you leave visible?
BD: Yes. I'm specifically interested in the ways language can take on multiple or new meanings when it is divided, isolated or taken out of it's given field. Medical and mechanical language is very flexible and can be easily shifted to new territory.

OA: What types of books do you typically look for?
BD: Almost always non-fiction. I like a certain aged patina and of course the feeling of the book's size, weight, even paper quality all figure in to my interest (or disinterest).

OA: I've read that your process is meditative and filled with discovery. Do you have an image in your mind before you begin the process?
BD: No. I seal the book ahead of time and carve into the top so I have no control over what becomes exposed and usable. I could have an overall image of a books feeling but I have no idea what images, forms or words will emerge when I begin.

OA: How do you know when a piece is completed?
BD: This is sort of hard to explain. I want the work I do to push the book far enough to become something new. I want to expose, re contextualize and amplify the power of the original without canceling it out. At the same time, I feel a certain obligation to release as much power or energy from the material as possible to justify cutting up a book.

OA: The degree of detail in your work is astounding. How long does it typically take you to complete a new piece?
BD: Days, sometimes weeks. It all depends. I spend 10 hours a day, 5 days a week in my studio.

OA: Are the pieces treated with anything to preserve them?
BD: Yes, a clear coat.

OA: The skulls made out of cassette tapes are ingenious. Do you use a mold to create those?
BD: No, I don't use a mold. I always have some type of model to work from that I use as a reference but I am pretty much welding and sculpting with my hands and pliers from the model in front of me.

OA: What's next for Brian Dettmer?
BD: After this I'm going to cook some dinner. Oh, are you asking about art? Hmmm, you'll just have to see.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
BD: I love coffee, and I'm addicted to caffeine. I don't want to advertise for any one brand but my favorite way to prepare it is w/ a French press. I don't really hang out at Cafes.

OA: Do you every listen to music while creating? If so, what types of music do you prefer while creating and in general?
BD: Yes, I listen to a lot of music and also NPR, various podcasts and books on tape while I work. I rarely listen to music w/ lyrics while I'm working. Its almost always instrumental post rock or electronica (if you have to label it). Namedropping favorites: Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mogwai, Four Tet, Tetsu Inoue, Nobody, On!Air!Library! I love music. I could go on forever.

For more of Brian's recent work check out the following galleries: KTF Gallery, Toomey Tourell's, and Haydee Rovirosa Gallery.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Release Tuesday

Atmosphere - Sad Clown Bad Number 10 [EP] Listen to: Peyote (mp3)
Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today
Gorillaz - D-Sides
Six Organs of Admittance - Shelter From The Ash Listen to: Jade Like Wine (mp3)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Monday Morning Mix

This week's mix was inspired by this incredible piece from Julie Peppito. However, on her website there is no name for this piece, so I decided to call my mix "Hiding from Chaos". If anyone knows if this piece does indeed has a name let me know. I tried to pick music that ranges from soft and delicate to hard and hectic. Instead of uploading all of the individual tracks, I uploaded a zip file here. Enjoy!

Orange Alert's Music Minute

This one woman band has somehow managed to blend nearly every type of music imaginable. Whether it is pop, rock, hip-hip, drum n' bass Cannonball Jane, truly has it all. The "Knees Up!" 7-track EP is OUT NOW!!! (USA) and will be out Nov. 5 (UK) on Gaddycat Records. It leads with Take it to Fantastic and includes two hot remixes of the song by Adrock of the Beastie Boys and DJ Downfall! Listen to: Take it to Fantastic (mp3)

Born out of two New York bands merging their distorted sounds, The Vandelles’ self-titled EP bubbles with equal parts sweetness and sheer terror. The Vandelles’ smooth whisper-heavy vocals over a tangle of surf guitar and explosive rhythms. While the quartet can't escape obvious comparisons to The Jesus and Mary Chain and Danish duo The Ravonettes, they put a truly American-noir rock spin on things with the comforting simplicity of The Ramones and The Ronettes. For a proper introduction to this boy/girl zombie beach party, listen to “Lovely Weather (mp3),” a standout track that will have you dancing in the dark. Well, maybe the pitch black.

Dan Deacon and Baltimore visual artist Jimmy Joe Roche collaborated on a DVD titled Ultimate Reality which is being released via Carpark - Deacon did the music and Roche did the visuals. On this tour each show will begin with a set from "Ultimate Reality" which includes a screening of the DVD accompanied by two live drummers, Deacon and Roche, and then Deacon will play a regular Dan Deacon set to close out the night.

Sun-Jan 6, 08 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
Mon-Jan 7, 08 Atlanta, GA Eyedrum
Wed-Jan 9, 08 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
Sat-Jan 12, 08 Denton, TX Hailey’s Tue-Jan 15, 08 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
Thu-Jan 17, 08 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
Fri-Jan 18, 08 Portland, OR Backspace
Sat-Jan 19, 08 Portland, OR Holocene Sun-Jan 20, 08 Seattle, WA Neumos
Mon-Jan 21, 08 Vancouver, BC Richards On Richards
Fri-Jan 25, 08 Chicago, IL Lakeshore Theater (Ultimate Reality only, no regular Dan Deacon set)
Sat-Jan 26, 08 Chicago, IL Metro (w/ Girl Talk, no Ultimate Reality)
Sat-Jan 26, 08 Chicago, IL Metro (w/ Girl Talk, no Ultimate Reality)
Sun-Jan 27, 08 Detroit, MI Scrummage University
Mon-Jan 28, 08 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
Wed-Jan 30, 08 Montreal, PQ La Sala Rossa
Thu-Jan 21, 08 Boston, MA Pozen Center
Fri-Feb 8, 08 New York, NY Whitney Museum (regular Dan Deacon set, no Ultimate Reality)

Lou Reed has been known to be intensely moved by historical and international events and conflicts. Just recently, Reed composed and recorded two brand new songs -- “Gravity” and “Safety Zone” -- both inspired by the soon-to-be released film NANKING--a powerful and relevant documentary that tells the story of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China, in the early days of World War II. It is an emotional reminder of the heartbreaking toll that war takes on the innocent, and a testament to the courage and conviction of a few individuals determined to act in the face of evil. Listen to those two songs here!

The Peel Back: "Broken Toy Shop" by E (1993)

Before forming The Eels, Mark Oliver Everett was simply know as E. He released two solo album that were mellower then his work with The Eels, but still through these tracks one can see the ground work being laid. E simply has a voice that is unmistakably his own, both musically and in a literary sense. Much like Morrissey, E has a way of writing about depression, suicide, pure saddens, but in a way upbeat way. The major difference between the work of E and the work of The Eels is in the music itself. The sound of this album is much more easy listening then his sample-filled, edgy work with The Eels. Still, it is a quality listen, and an album that got me through my teenage years. As a teenager, the moments of sadness and anger the magnified and extreme. For some reason listening to this album gave me a small amount of hope. The song "Mass" in particular, and its blunt focus on suicide played softly in darkest corners of my mind for several years. All in all this album and E's debut album "A Man called E" are interesting studies in where one of the most influence figures in indie rock in the last 10 years got his start.

Broken Toy Shop

Shine It All On/Standing at the Gate/The Only Thing I Care About (mp3)/Manchester Girl/L.A. River/A Most Unpleasant Man/Mass (mp3)/Tomorrow I'll Be Nine/Day I Wrote You Off/Someone to Break the Spell (mp3)/She Loves a Puppet/My Old Raincoat/Permanent Broken Heart/Eight Lives Left

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Watch List

1. Eldridge Skell's The Rude Suitcase - I have no idea if this is what music typically sounds like in Iran, but this band is from Iran. Their bio say that their music is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, and while it does build tension the comparison my be lofty. I will say they have a unique sound. Their latest album was released on 9/11/07 by What is Delicate?Listen to: Horses Are Burning (mp3) and Here Come the Red Teeth (mp3)
2. Collections of Colonies of Bees - Milwaukee, WI can be very proud of this band. CCB will be releasing their new album in early '08. Their sound builds upon minimal noises and waves into something grand sophisticated.
3. Aaron Stout - An intimate sound, soft and blowing. This New Yorker is the perfect end to a crazy day. Listen to: Fountain of Youth (mp3)

1. "A Letter from My Future Self" by Nathan Thornton - The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the "bomb-diggity!". I always thought it would be some chemical in coffee that would give me cancer, but now I know the real culprit.
2. "A Listless Zeitgeist" by Richard Egan - Any story containing the phase "I hate my life" sounds good after the day I had at work!
3. "Squash, Clothespins, Segway" by Sabra Embury - Her name was given to me as a favorite writer of someone a few months ago and since then I have been try to figure what exactly she does. She is definitly an avid blogger (but again who isn't, I've heard all the kids are doing it!), but I couldn't find much through my normal googling. This story has given me cause to continue my investigation.
4. Zygote In My Coffee Issue 99 was released this week, go-now-read!
5. A double feature from one of our favorites, Nick Ostdick: 'Catching the Old Man's Cure' and 'For Better Future Viewing'

1. One-of-a-kind Handcrafted double-sided Kim Frieder's original bookmarks - What a perfect gift for an Orange Alert fan (or editor), these will bring the art lover and the book worm together. $10 (Kim is also having a 10-20% holiday art sale, check it out!)
2. Misti Rainwater-Lites "Lullabies for Jackson" - This is one of my favorite chapbooks this year, and is really a nice little stocking stuffer for the wife. It reads much like a journal of a pregnancy, detailing the various thoughts and actions ever-mindful of the end result. $4

1. Iniciativa Colectiva The Aniversary Issue - Well, I may have made this claim before, but this is truly my absolute favorite arts zine. Download their 32mb aniversary issue today.
2. Naked Wales - Brand new arts zine "Revealing art & design in Wales", this is issue #1.
3. Crayon Physics - I'm awaiting the release of Crayon Physics Deluxe, but I thought I would share the original with everyone. I really can't think of two things that go together as well as Crayons and Physics.

1. Tunng "Bullets" - Cosmic junk collector orbits the earth.
2. Black Moth Super Rainbow on xlr8r TV episode #34
3. Dog Day "Oh Dead Life"
4. A taste of things to come... Yea Big & Kid Static!! I'm talkin' 'bout Chicago Ill.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This morning, while you enjoy a big bowl of Eat My Short's Cereal, watch this animated video from the Figurines.

"Back in the Day"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Band of the Week


It was exactly one year and one month ago that North Carolina's Annuals released their debut LP, Be He Me. By definition an annual is a plant that completes its life cycle in one years time, and the seeds must be replanted the following year. The life cycle of these Annuals is far from over, but that does not mean that new seeds will not be planted in 2008. With their current tour (co-headlining with Manchester Orchestra) ending in a few days, this group of friends is looking forward to returning home and beginning the creative process of writing and recording again. They recently marked the final stages of their current life cycle by releasing the B-sides of Be He Me, in the form the digital ep Frelen Mas. The next year looks promising, as they begin their new relationship with Sony/Columbia affiliate Canvasback Records, release an new ep in the Spring, and preparing their follow-up LP for the Summer. Unlike the plant, these Annuals will not die, but instead continue to grow and build upon the wonderful sounds and experience of this past year.

Over the summer, I was fortunate enough to watch this band perform at Lollapalooza, and was simply blown away by their energy and musical abilities. The stage was filled with instruments, two keyboard, two sets of drums, guitars, etc. The members of the band, Adam Baker (Singer/Songwriter), Kenny Florence (Guitar), Mike Robinson (Bass), Zack Oden (Drums/Guitar), Anna Spence (Piano/Synth), and Nick Radford (Drums) were consistently moving and switching instruments. As a collective they truly put on an impressive show, playing with passion and sincerity.

Recently, all the members of Annuals were kind enough to take a few minutes away from their to answer a few of my questions on Lollapalooza, the past year, and what the future holds for the Annuals.

Orange Alert (OA): Now that you are one year removed from the release of Be He Me, can you describe the emotion of the last year? Have you had time to stop and reflect?
Anna Spence (AS): Extremely stressful and exhilarating at the same time. While on the road its difficult to know what is going on with our band everywhere else. We are just focusing on getting to the next show.
Kenny Florence (KF): I just feel like this has come to be the norm for me. This is who we are, who we have become. We don’t think we are hotshots or anything, this is what we do.
Adam Baker (AB): I feel the exact same. No different emotion.
Nick Radford (NR): Touring is something I have been dreaming about doing this for a living. It’s great that this is happening.
Zack Oden (ZO): Relieved that things are going well. Ill reflect when I get home and have to bag groceries.
Mike Robinson (MR): I just feel like there is a lot more to be done.

OA: Has the overwhelming acceptance by countless blogs/website changed your opinions of the music industry and the role the internet can play? Do you think these site have had an impact on where you are today?
AS: Of course the websites have had an impact on us because a lot of people read them. Not all of them have been overwhelmingly accepting. People use them as a venue to mostly talk shit and be petty.
ZO: I'd rather read Jennifer Love Hewitt’s autobiography.
AB: I‘d rather read the Hardy Boys.
MR: Blogs giveth and then taketh away.

OA: The Mannual Mashup contest, currently running (ends Nov 26th!) over at Purevolume, is a great idea. Have you heard any of the entries yet? What is like touring with a band like Manchester Orchestra?
NR: I haven’t heard any of the mashups yet, but I kind of feel like Jay-Z and Lincoln Park……but we are Jay-Z.
KF: I’ve never really gotten along this well with the other bands that we are on tour with. I’m having a great time with these guys. I’m a big fan of their music and have become a bigger fan watching them every night and getting on stage and playing music with them.
ZO: They are wicked nice guys and are tight as woe on stage.

"Carry Around"

OA: In your interview with Daytrotter, it was mentioned that the technology utilized on Be He Me was not exactly what was needed to achieve the desired sound. Is Frelen Mas closer to the sound the band strives for? How has the recording process changed?
KF: Song for The Fralen Mass EP were recorded a little bit later than Be He Me, but are mostly b-sides for the album. The recording was done in the same studio using the same techniques but we had refined our skills a bit more.
ZO: Not as much hands touched the mix on this one.
AB: There is certainly a lot more time that we would like to spend with someone who has a lot more experienced ears on the next record. This was still recorded at home. We spent a lot of time making this EP in house.

OA: Why does the bio on your website seem to overly emphasize the ages of the band? I think the early twenties maybe some of the most creative and productive years of life, and in no way a negative.
AS: We didn’t write that. I think that people get excited and surprised when they see a young band because they think about how much growing and changing they have to do.
KF: I don’t think we should over emphasize our age because we are in the same age group that a lot of similar bands are in.
MR: I think that there is a really big difference between 18 and 20. All the over emphasis started 2 years ago. We aren’t the same age anymore….we’ve done a lot of growing up since then.

OA: What's Next for Annuals?
AS: Next record
KF: Annuals Sedona split EP which should be out in the spring.
MR: Sedona EP in the summer and Annuals LP in the fall.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Have you found a new favorite restaurant or coffee shop while on the road?
ZO: Our awesome tour manger Jay introduced us to this amazing noodle shop in China Town while we were in Philly. I can’t remember the name of the joint but it had ducks hanging from the window and the noodle soup kills….really, I almost died. We also found this place called Subway. Don’t know if many people have heard of it, but they make great sandwiches.

OA: I really enjoyed your performance at Lollapalooza this year. What were your thoughts on the festival and what you saw of Chicago in general?
AS: Chicago pretty much rules every time I go. Lollapalooza was like Christmas, I got lots of goodies.
ZO: Bands were cool. Chicago is cool. Festival was also cool.
AB: Chicago is my favorite big city. Got a free skateboard at the festival.
KF: Chicago has never treated us bad. One of my favorite cities.
NR: Chicago is cool and Lollapalooza was really cool. I met Denis Rodman. The fans in Chicago have always been awesome.

Be He Me
Brother (mp3)/Dry Clothes (mp3)/Complete, or Completing/Carry Around/Chase You Off/Bleary Eyed(mp3)/Fair/Bull, and the Goat/Mama/Ida, My/Father/Sway

Also from Frelen Mas:
Nah Keseyi (mp3)

If you are fortunate enough to attend on of their remaining tour dates, picked their split tour ep.
Listen to: Where have you been (Manchester Orchestra Cover) (mp3)

For more information on Annuals please visit their website.